Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album of the Day 1/22/11

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues, all the way to #1. Saturday’s is #738:

Raekwon – Only Built for Cuban Linx

A prime example of how good East Coast hardcore hip-hop got in the mid-90s, the first of the “solo” Wu-Tang albums, Raekwon’s 1995 release is really just a Wu album in disguise. Like George Clinton, the Wu-Tang Clan aren’t just great lyricists, they’re great businessmen, always finding a way to have something new out there that everybody wants. Along with The Chef, this featured Ghostface, U-God, GZA, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa plus cameos from Nas and Method Man. Raekwon seldom gets a track to himself, but that’s ok: the energy is high and gets everybody to take their game up a notch. Together they sprint through just about every style that was popular in hip-hop at the time. The big hit with the girls was Ice Cream; the big gangsta hit was Incarcerated Scarfaces. Spot Rushers (which samples a malt liquor commercial), Wu-Gambinos and Criminology also work the gangsta tip. Nas duels it out on Verbal Intercourse; the machine-gun rhymes sputter fast and furious on Knowledge God, Guillotine (Swords) and Glaciers of Ice, with an aptly psychedelic Electric Prunes sample. RZA’s horror-movie production is at the peak of its power here: if the lyrics hit a bump, there’s always an eerie electric piano riff or sweeping wash of strings to maintain the brooding ambience. Here’s a random torrent.

January 22, 2011 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 10/7/10

Every day our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Thursday’s album is #845:

Kool G Rap and DJ Polo – Wanted: Dead or Alive

One of the most successful lyricists to come up out of Marley Marl’s legendary Juice Crew posse, Kool G Rap’s machine-gun rhymes vividly chronicled a city gone wild, crack dealers (and pretty much everybody else) pitted against the cops, the drama played out before a backdrop of crushing poverty and the fatalism that goes with it. Kool G Rap didn’t exactly romanticize it, either, whether in the rapidfire cinematography of this 1990 album’s opening track, Streets of New York, the gangster swagger of the title cut or Money in the Bank, the bluntly confrontational Erase Racism (with cameos from Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie) or the hilarious but cruelly cynical Talk Like Sex and Rikers Island. His slurred, blunted delivery was a big influence on both Nas and Biggie Smalls; his third and final album with DJ Polo, Live and Let Die, from 1992, is also worth owning, as is his 1996 solo debut, 4,5,6. Over the years, he’s managed to maintain commercial success without straying from his generally harsh, unsentimental vision of urban life. You can take a gangster off the street, but you can’t take the street off the gangster. Here’s a random torrent.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | lists, Music, music, concert, rap music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment