Tuesday, April 30, 2024

A Thousand Degrees Make It Hotter Than Your Tenement

Hey, it's a new record by Godfather Don!  Admittedly, it may be starting to feel like they're piling up.  After all, he has made kind of a whole career out of unearthing his various unreleased projects from the past through different labels, including DWG, One Leg Up, Chopped Herring, 90's Tapes, No Sleep and HHV.  And I'm not saying that with any kind of snark - the music's fantastic and I've been thrilled to get it.  But now this is new music from the Godfather.  Not that this is his first foray into coming back - remember his Osmosis album in 2020.  But this is only his second, so it's still pretty exciting.  Especially since, you know, it's good.

Osmosis was a collaboration between Don and French producer Parental, with scratches by Debonair P.  This time Debonair's producing the whole thing (and still doing the scratches, natch) on his own label, Gentleman's Relief Records.  GRR had released they were closing their doors in 2020, so it's almost as exciting to see them back after four years as Don.  And I have it on good authority that they're cooking up some more killer releases that regular readers here will surely be interested.  But I can't say anymore than that.  ;)

Anyway, both Osmosis and now The Ill Tone Generator have a jazzier feel than Don's own production is known for, a nod probably to the kind of music he makes when he's not on the Hip-Hop tip.  But as an MC, Don is still coming hard with clever and complex rhyme schemes.  If you've been missing his 90s lyrics, you'll be relieved to hear he hasn't lost a step.

While Osmosis was a full LP, this is an EP, with just four songs, although it's nicely fleshed out with an alternate remix for each song, effectively bringing us up to eight tracks.  And when I say jazzy, I'm not kidding.  It's all loops; Don's not performing with a combo Las Supper style.  But with the opening track, "Tip Of the Spear," the samples have you feeling like you just stepped into a smokey lounge.  Lyrically, though, Don still sounds as ill as he did on Hydra Records:

"The one true preeminent
Character assassinator,
This oratory style nicknamed 'The Bastard Maker.'
It's a literary suicide
Steppin' to the Edgar Allen Poe of this rap shit.
I kill scholastics, stop nuts as soon as they come
Like prophylactics.  Drastic tactics
For any over-active protagonists
Tryin' to make a name off of mine like he's taggin' it.
He got it all wrong; I flow fabulous."

If anything, he's enunciating even clearer now, which really just allows you to appreciate every twisted syllable as they land.  All four songs have slick Premier-style scratch hooks, which are consistently carried over to the B-side remixes.  And those remixes are just as good as the A-sides.  In fact, in a couple of cases (especially the super smooth "Lights Camera Action" remix) I prefer them.  admittedly, I kind of miss Don doing his own production, but he's found an ideal substitute in Debonair, who can carry the weight without feeling obligated to imitate.  And as an MC, it's like Don never took a day off.

The Ill Tone Generator
is available on wax in a full color picture cover.  There's also a small run of CDs, limited to 250 copies pressed, which also includes all eight instrumentals as bonus tracks.  Both are already out now from the usual spots (though I think the CD may only be available direct from GRR), and they're priced like regular new releases, so don't sleep.

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