Thursday, 22 March 2007

'97 mentality


Exhibits D, E & F

Backpacker time, people ...

After a particularly fertile few years for mainstream and hardcore in the mid-90s, by 1997 I found the beats were getting a bit stale, and the suits a little shiny. Life After Death and Wu-Tang Forever were classics, but they weren’t Ready to Die or Enter the Wu-Tang. CNN and Big Pun kept it grimy, but they weren’t Nas, Jay or Mobb Deep. Along comes a lot of hipster-friendly indie-rap, much of it released on Rawkus Records, who put out the first Soundbombing comp in ’97.

I remember a lot of arguments back then weighing up the relative merits of Jurassic 5, Company Flow, and Black Star. Here are three classics to reignite that debate (not necessarily all from ’97, mind):

Company Flow – ‘End to End Burners’

Black Star – ‘What’s Beef?’ (live on the Dave Chappelle show)

Jurassic 5 – ‘Jurass Finish First’ (from Quality Control)

Come 2007, I think Co Flow won. J5 went off the boil and just split up (Passion of the Weiss has a nice tribute here). Mos Def continues to put out stinkers and feature in SUV ads. Kweli occasionally hits the mark. El-P’s about to release the album of the year, and is beefing with New Rawkus. But in 2007, I don’t know who, if anyone, would be the equivalents. The underground’s alive, thanks to the internets, but does anybody have the clout of these three, or of Rawkus? Little Brother? Lupe Fiasco? Only Jibbs, I think. Only Jibbs.

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