Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Keepin' Up the Funky Beat is the Holland Crew

Hey, you guys remember Bivak Records? I did a video about them a year and a half ago, they were the guys that put out that nice unreleased Chain 3 and Great Peso 12" from '84, and then they had that mixCD I talked about. Well, they're back in 2012, unfortunately not with killer unreleased old school on wax, but with a second mixCD, which is still good.  I mean, honestly, mix tapes/CDs don't generally get me too terribly enthused. Even when the DJ's really talented (which, sadly, most aren't), I'd just generally rather hear the original records being spun.

But this mixCD I'm actually really enthused about and am recommending. It probably helps substantially that I don't own a single one of the records involved, and also just because it's coming from a really compelling angle. Bivak refers to it as "a non-commercial slice of pure edutainment.," and it's essentially a chronological history of Holland hip-hop from 1983-1992. Now, my knowledge of Holland hip-hop basically extends from MC Miker G to DJ Sven...  meaning, just those guys (actually, Urban Dance Squad, too; but I forgot they were from Holland until I saw them on this). But it's a scene I was already curious about... I subscribed to their blog, dutcholdschoolhiphop.blogspot.nl, ages ago, but you only get so much out of it when you don't know any of the players involved. So, this was perfect for me, as it's a as thorough as you can possibly get on a single disc (since it's a mix, they can cover a lot more records than a straight compilation). And even if you're thinking, "you know, I'm not sure I actually give a flying fuck about the Holland hip-hop scene, Werner, to be honest," I'm telling you, stick with me on this.

First of all, starting all the way back in 1983 means they've got a pretty extensive, classically old school period. If you've ever started to feel like you've heard all the best old school rap records out there, this is like a fresh start. Hip-hop records from all the great stages in old school hip-hop, disco style, electro, hardcore drum programs to the early sampling... and you've never heard any of it before! And, granted, there's not really any Melle Mels or Rakims about; but there is some really good stuff here.

I think the earlier stuff is the most exciting. It's really fun, and even the flaws or weaker MCing work in that "charming super old school" way, where any silliness on-hand just makes it all the more endearing. One song, "Papa Joe," is bordering on flat-out novelty rap (it's about a man with an unhealthy obsession for Italian food), but damned if it isn't catchy and entertaining as Hell. And as the mix progresses, you hear the music slowly evolve, and get more serious. There's some solid production and DJs with some serious turntable skills.

There's a big variety on here, from rap/hair band hybrids to a freestyle session where some guys are really, shamelessly imitating Run DMC, but the mix manages to make it all sound very cohesive and natural. And I should point out (as this was a concern of mine when I first heard about this disc), that it's pretty much all in English.  Out of thirty-something songs, only one is in Dutch, and some of the interludes (which are basically all interview clips from the period). It's a little disappointing we can't understand those skits - this CD would be even better without the language barrier, I think we'd get even more out of it; but seriously, 97-98% of this is in English, so nobody who can read this should feel too left out.

Like their last disc, this is credited to Chris the Wiz and another DJ (DJ Foxx); so I"m assuming it's situation as the last one, where the DJ is mixing records from Chris's collection.  Also like their last disc, it's limited (which seems a little off, considering the nature of this project... it's educational, no one interested should miss out) to 100 copies, so don't hold off if you think this might be up your alley. Really, it's better than just about any other album coming out in hip-hop right now, mixed or not. And definitely keep an eye on Bivak... hopefully they have another vinyl treat in store for us next.

1 comment:

  1. The cd is available through discogs.com.

    Nice piece Werner...I knew it would take you off the Miker G & Sven stereoptype modus.

    Chriz the Wiz