Friday, August 8, 2014

Luke's Sick Friends

Today's post is about two albums; and I'm starting out with this brand new one: Mutual Daps. It just came out through the usual download, streaming/ bandcamp and ITunes kinda jazz. But there are also legit, physical copies which seem to be, short of catching these guys at a show, available exclusively through accesshiphop. Mutual Daps is the latest group project from the great Luke Sick, who's collaborating this time around with White Mic of Bored Stiff - who you might remember just did a collaborative album with Sick's regular cohort Z-Man - and TC Bonelocs, who handles most of the production.

I say most of the production, because several of the tracks are actually handled by a couple of Luke's other regular cohorts: DJ Eons One, who's in Underbucket/ Grand Invincible with Luke, and Brycon, the other half of Luke's Grand Killa Con group. And just about everybody else from the camp is on here for at least one appearance: Eddie K and Brandon B (who form Trunk Drank), Topr, the aforementioned Z-Man, Agentstrik9 (also of Bored Stiff), that Lightbulb guy from the Grand Killa Con album, and several more I don't recognize. DJ Quest also drops by to add some nice cuts on a couple of tracks. It's not even worth trying to keep track of who's in a group with who, really; and this particular album doesn't feel so much like a focused project by a defined trio so much as just a big ol' family album, where Luke and White's voices happen to feel the most prominent.

This is a good album with some nice production and a bunch of solid MCs flexing their raps. But its nobody's masterpiece. Fans of these guys will definitely be satisfied and happy as I was to get another album. Especially since it's pure hip-hop, unlike some past projects a la Motel Crew, Brougham, One Block Radius, etc where they experimented and crossed into other genres... This is the good, real hip-hop shit we want from these guys. And there are some choice samples and moments to be found here when you really delve in. But nobody's written their best songs here. If you were assembling a 'greatest hits' album of Luke or the whole Gurp/ Megakut/ whatever crew, there's no "wow" songs you'd pick from here. The best instrumental moments tend to line up with the least exciting verses. Like "Hard Sound" has a great track and some hype cuts by Quest, but then White Mic's just talking about "your ITunes sales." There's definitely some dope, solid songs on here ("Gimme Back My Slurpee," "That's War," "Hard Times"); but it doesn't feel like a ton of sweat and stress were poured into this. They probably recorded it pretty quick and casually, maybe threw in a few odds and ends from other projects that hadn't found a home yet, and called it an album.

It's an easy recommendation for those of us who are already fans of these guys. But if you're on the fence, I'd say pass it over in favor of some of Luke's stronger projects... like, oh say:

Owe. Reep. Out. by The Yole Boys. I'd seen this album on Megakut's site but always passed over it because I didn't really know who the the Yole Boys were or what this project was about. But I was finally put onto it and damn, if only I'd known! The Yole Boys is essentially just another Luke and the whole damn posse kind of album. It's hard to make out, but I'm pretty sure that's Luke on the left and holy shit! ...The illustrated Gingerbread Man character coming out the back seat.

The cover sets you up for what to expect, but you still won't see it coming. It's a throw back to those old rap tapes you used to have to play at low volume so your parents couldn't hear the filthy stuff we all secretly listened to. Imagine pre-"Me So Horny" 2 Live Crew (of course) blended with pre-Jive Schoolly D, but with even more inappropriate lyrical content. Filthy sex, coke and misogyny. Instrumentally, it's a crazy 80's blend, very much like Rime Force Most Illin' (which came after), but with a more specific aim at a certain seedy atmosphere. There's a great DJ track with the vibe of Arabian Prince's "Professor X," and one song has Luke updating Too $hort's "Freaky Tales" to be darker and trashier.  There may be a moment or two, like an entire verse patterned after Cool C's "I Gotta Habit." that might feel a little too homage-y as opposed to original; but over-all this project really works as intended.

And again, the whole gang seems to be here, although nobody is properly credited. Even the song titles are just cryptically titled by their initials: "STC," "FYB" etc. But in addition to Luke, you'll definitely recognize Z-Man (both in character as the Gingerbread Man and out), the Trunk Drank guys, and plenty more. Beats are by Fatees, who also produced for Rime Force, so you can imagine how capably he's recreated the incredible, low-fi pro sounds of the 80s. If your favorite UGK album is still Banned, then this is the tape for you.

And I mean tape literally, because this is a small, cassette-only release, limited to only 100 copies. Unlike Mutual Daps, this isn't brand new; it actually came out in 2011. But because it's been so under publicized and nobody really knew what the fuck it was, there are still cheap copies available (check out Megakut's store here, and see if you can still cop a Rime Force tape while you're at it). This is on some "Top Ten Year End List" level, except it came out in 2011 and I've already forgotten what was great in that year. But this would get a mention for sure.

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