Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Tilt! The Return of One of My All-Time Favorite Producers!

This is definitely one of the few albums I'm really excited about in 2016, and I didn't even see it coming!  You know, how you'll be waiting two to three years for your favorite guy to release that LP he announced, and you're constantly re-checking the calendar for that release date?  Will, this is the opposite of that, because I had no idea this was a thing until it became available to order.  On Tilt is the latest project from Luke Sick, the man who has a new group every month.  He's always great, so I'm already on board.  But what makes this one so much more special, is that it's a reunion with his original Sacred Hoop partner Vrse Murphy!  Yeah, every track is produced by Vrse, who's one of my all time favorite producers.  He's back, baby!

So, why is this an On Tilt album rather than an official Sacred Hoop album?  Well, look at the two dudes drawn on the cover.  That's not Luke and Vrse, that's Luke and a guy named QM, who's another Bay Area rapper, and this is just as much his album as the other guys'.  I'm not too familiar with his past work, but he's blipped on my radar for having a couple online songs with Luke and co., and he was one of the guys on the Mutual Daps album.  But he's actually got a deep history, as part of the Rec League family, then known as Cumulus, and his history of making records actually goes back like 15-20 years.  So we're not talking about some new kid getting carried on anybody's shoulders.

And the other reason this isn't quite a Sacred Hoop track is I suspect the deal here is that Luke & QM are rhyming over lost, unused Vrse beats from past years or something.  I say that for two reasons.  One, because while the liner notes do credit all production to Vrse, they credit "post production" to Richie Cunning (also of Rec League) and QM.  So that would make sense, right?  Vrse produced the tracks, then vaulted them, then QM & Richie produced the new recordings with Luke and QM rapping over them?  That's my guess, anyway.

And I also think that may be the case because I recognize one of these beats from seventeen years ago.  One of the first songs on this album, "Detox With More Liquor," features the same instrumental as one of my favorite Sacred Hoop songs (although admittedly, I have many favorite Sacred Hoop songs), "N.O.H."  That stands for "Not Our House," and it's about getting raucous at a house party with reckless regard because it's not your place.  It's one of their early collaborations with Z-Man, and it was on their cassette-only release Last Days Of the Hump Hut from 1999.  Almost every song on that tape wound up being included on the more widely released album Sleepover in 2001, but not "N.O.H.," because that wound up going to a compilation called Cue's Hip-Hop Shop instead.  So now it's kind of a rare Sacred Hoop song that's not on any of their albums.

And it still is.  Because "Detox With More Liquor" is using the same track, but it's an all-new song with all new lyrics and entertaining vocal samples for a hook.  And QM kicks fun, nihilistic freestyle rhymes like you can always expect from the Gurp City crew, but with a bit of a throwback 90s feel, "I'm unforgettable like scarin' a nun by airin' a gun.  Cum, I get busy like I got errands to run.  Vrse craft the beat like Dirk Dastardly; the flow make 'em say 'uhh, I'm Master P.  Um, actually, you must be fast asleep.  Ya feeling down, then load every last track from me.  Ya see Vrse he pleads the fifth and speaks with the beats, while me and Luke drops the speech that they loop to the beats.  That's word to me, Chuck and the Trav, gettin' drunk in the Aves like a couple of savs.  I don't fuck with the tabs, so that's more for you.  I detox with malt liquor, hit the store for brew."  I think I still prefer "N.O.H.," because you can't really top Z's energy on that song.  But two songs over a killer beat?  Yeah, I'll take that.

And to be clear, that's the only beat I recognize.  If anything else has been recycled, I think it's all unreleased material, so it's all brand new to my ears, which is just as good.  And it sounds great.  "Dank and Drank" has that classic Hoop feel, but really all the production is killer.  Some is dark and ominous, some is hard, and some is playful.  "Can't Go Home" has a sick human beatbox loop, and "Quest On Tilt" is a classic DJ cut, with DJ Quest cutting up over a chunky piano sample.  The whole thing ends with a tough posse cut featuring all the regulars: Lightbulb, Z-Man, Eddie K, Brandon B and TOPR.  It's a little album.  It's thirteen songs, but several of those are instrumental skits, and even some of the proper songs still clock in at just around two minutes.  So it's a breezy listen you're gonna want to repeat as soon as you hit the end.

As you can see in the pic above, this is an orange cassette release, limited to 200 copies, with full color artwork.  You can cop it cheap direct from the label, Megakut Records here.  And, of course, it's also available online via their bandcamp.  But obviously the tape's, like, a thousand times cooler.

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