Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jersey Engineering

The latest release from DWG is finally here, and this time it's... Emskee The Complex Engineer? Who's that? Well, if you've been picking up the Nick Wiz double-CD compilations (and if not, you should be), he's already been introduced to you, "this was my first artist I produced for when I started making beats." On volumes 1 and 2 (Emskee isn't on #3), the Emskee tracks were demos they recorded together for Emskee, who was looking to get a deal. ...But it turns out those tracks weren't the the sum of his demo material.

DWG has unearthed a whole boatload of additional, vintage material from Emskee, Nick Wiz (then going by the name of Kayzee the White Soul), and their DJ, Slyce. And the first record they pressed up is DWG011, The Complex Engineer EP - six killer demo tracks (none of which repeat the tracks from the Nick Wiz albums... even though that would've been welcome, anyway, just so we could have them on vinyl, too). Most are produced by Wiz, but one or two are actually by Kid Capri... See, Emskee was hired to ghostwrite for Capri's second album on Cold Chillin'. But that album wound up getting shelved, so he used that material for his own rhymes (these were just demo tapes, after all, so it's not like he was screwing over Capri or anything).

So, here's what you'll notice as soon as you lay this on your deck. First, Emskee has a direct, forceful flow. Not that he's all Waka Flocka on here; but he has a distinctly tough way of enunciating every syllable. And the other thing you'll notice is that the beats here sound busier than Wiz's usual, minimalist tracks, where he seems to boil everything down to one smooth loop and a drum track. Here shit's always happening, and it goes a long way in keeping the tracks energetic and alive.

So that's DWG011, which is limited to your standard (these days) 300 copies. It comes in a sticker cover and, as always, comes with an informative press sheet. Naturally, I recommend it. ;)

But that's not the whole story here. For the more hardcore collectors, they also released DWG012 at the same time. This one's extra-limited (175 copies), is pressed on dope, marbleized dark blue vinyl, and also comes in a sticker cover. This one was off the market already even before it was released, so you'll have to go a little further out of your way to track it down now, but it's cool.

DWG012 doesn't consist of more demo tracks, exactly. It's actually eight radio promos that he recorded for different hip-hip DJ shows. There are demos for Funkmaster Flex, Stretch Armstrong, Doo Wop, etc. And they're not just radio drops or anything, but full, proper songs recorded for (and about) the shows... like Ultramagnetics' "Chuck Chillout" or those classic, exclusive cuts on Red Alert's albums. Again, it's all produced by Nick Wiz (one beat is even kinda recycled here), and while these maybe aren't quite as objectively good, uniquely written songs as the ones on The Complex Engineer EP (and a lot of time is spent on redundant, name-dropping shout-outs on every track), The Radio Promos EP is kinda more fun. I mean, if you're only going to get one release, The Complex Engineer EP is the way to go (which is surely why DWG gave it the wider release); but this is a neat little treasure for collectors.

By the way, the Nick Wiz CDs and these new 12" EPs aren't the only releases from Emskee... in more recent years, he put out an indie album and 12" on Goon Trax; and he's also one half of a group called The Good People, who got my attention back in 2006 for doing an EP featuring guys like Kool Kim and Cadence. So, if you've been bitten by the Emskee bug, you'll surely want to track all that material down as well - he still sounds the same.

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