Saturday, December 24, 2022

Order To Kaos

Kaotic Style are the Brooklyn duo of Beat Scott and Grand who released a series of hot 12"s throughout the 90s, often on Beat Scott's own label, and often with notable guest spots.  A couple years ago, Dope Folks and Gentlemens Relief Records teamed up to release their sort of unreleased album, Diamond In the Ruff, on vinyl and CD.  I wrote about it here.  But more recently, Dope Folks have come back, this time in partnership with Hip Hop Enterprise, to release a second sort of unreleased Kaotic Style album on vinyl and CD, called Infinity.  It gets a little confusing, so I wanted to break it down here on my site.

The key phrase in that last paragraph is "sort of unreleased."  In the case of Diamond In the Ruff, there was an EP, which was rare but had definitely gotten a release.  But DF and GR doubled the size of it by including a bunch of previously unreleased demo tracks.  GR took the CD version a bit further by including their later 12" tracks on there, too.  And I'm going to the trouble of re-explaining what I already covered in 2018 again because that's sort of what's going on here as well.

In 1991, Kaotic Style released an EP that's generally known as Closer To Your Love, because it doesn't have an actual title printed on it and "Closer To Your Love" is the first song.  But "Infinity" is another song on that EP.  And that EP is kind of what this Infinity album is now.  The Dope Folks LP is ten tracks long, including some of the songs from that EP, including "Infinity" (obviously), "Flavor Freestyle" and "Close To Your Love."  Kaotic Style really come off on "Infinity," so you can see why they chose to make it the title track here; it's one of their greatest songs, and doesn't rely on the assistance of any more famous rappers.  So this EP's got those three songs, but it also leaves several tracks off, though fans might not mind too much, because that EP was packed with love songs, which weren't really Kaotic Style's strong suit.  So, no, we don't get "Love Letters," "Love the One You're With" or "Let's Get It On."

In their place, we get both tracks from their 1992 single "Check it Out" (which uses a striped down version of the "Inner City Blues" bassline in a funky, NY kind of way) b/w "We Got the Flavor," and "Whutcha Want" (here spelled "Whatcha Want") from their 1995 12".  So it gives this album an offbeat dichotomy, mashing together two separate eras, where the guys have two very distinct styles and sounds.  Because in addition to that one '95 track, the real jewels of this Infinity album are four previously unreleased tracks (the labels' official descriptions claim five and seven, but they're both wrong) from their '94-'96 era.  And one of those in particular really blew my mind.

"What We Came To Do" features guest verses by Big Scoob a.k.a. Scoob Lover, and The Headless Horsemen, the wickedest horrorcore group that never really got their proper shot.  What a brilliant but bonkers line-up!  As soon as I saw that in the track-listing, I knew I had to have Infinity, even though I was already a KS fan and would've wanted it anyway.  The Horsemen aren't really doing horrorcore per se here, so it basically plays as a super ill posse cut, where the mic is passed down the line twice, meaning everyone gets a satisfying second verse.  It's easily the best song after "Infinity."  "Get Down" is a grimy, dirty twist on UTFO's "SWAT" featuring The Jaz.  It works better than you'd think.  "Constantly" features a crew called the Krooks, who manage to be even more rugged and wild than Kaotic Style.  And the last song is called "The Realness."  It uses essentially the same instrumental - certainly the same sample chopped the same way - as Master Ace's "Brooklyn Battles" (and PreCISE MC's "Don't Even").

And like Gentlemens Relief before them, Hip Hop Enterprises has added a couple more 12" songs as bonus tracks for the CD version.  This time they've included "Bro for Bro" with Smoothe da Hustler and Trigga the Gambler, and "Mad Hardcore" featuring The Cella Dwellas, Heltah Skeltah and MOP.  Those are the two other songs from that 1995 12" single with "Whutcha Want," so it rounds that out.  And that works, because vinyl heads will probably already have the 12" (or can easily cop it), but it will be CD buyers' first opportunity to get these great posse cuts.

It's all been remastered and sounds great, except "The Realness," which sounds like its from a pretty dusty source.  It's still very listenable, but you'll definitely notice the noise in the track.  So Dope Folks has pressed up 300 copies of their LP, 50 on yellow (yellow) wax and 250 on classic black.  The Hip Hop Enterprise doesn't seem to be limited to a set run, but gives the album a cool picture cover by Spek the Architek.  Both are still available from their labels, so it's just up to you to decide which format suits you.

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