Better Than B.S.

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Archive for the ‘bay’ Category

Proof I’m From The Bay

Posted by Elijah on December 18, 2008


Erk tha Jerk – “Plane In the Air” f/Too $hort

(via Strivin’)

I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, (no matter the weather) get sick of hearing Too $hort yell “biiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch!” No, seriously, I’ve listened to his whole catalogue (and that’s seventeen full-lengths) and still, on a whim, I decided to listen to this new song by a guy I’ve never heard of, and when $hort Dog came in with his signature exclamation, it did the same thing to my little rap-nerd heart that discovering a previously unheard Q-Tip verse from 1991 would do. I don’t know why it works, I think it was just in the air where I grew up.

(Wait, I thought $hort said he was going to positive now or something. Oh well.)

Anyway, the song is some good, minimalist-type shit. Never heard of Erk, but weird name aside (I’ve been meaning to write a post about how all the good rapper names have been taken for a minute) this is quality. It was awfully catchy to me just now, but I’m only half awake, so I don’t know how much critical thinking I can guarantee at this juncture… biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitch!


Posted in bay, west | 3 Comments »

What’s That BHS Without the High?

Posted by Elijah on May 10, 2007

Mod Squad – “Stroll”

Mod Squad – “B-Town Theme”
People’s Park, 1992

I’m not sure how well received my retrospective on the works of Richie Rich was, but one way or another I’m going to go in a very different direction with my Bay coverage today.

It’s a real pity that I didn’t discover a fun little rap group from my own hometown until I’d moved across the country and saw them on another blog. When scanning a list of obscure albums that I’d never get to listen to on Bust the Facts (because that’s what I usually do there) I came across a colorful cover that caught my eye just long enough for me to realize that the album was named after a rather famous park in the land of my birth, and so I had to download it. Awhile later I bought the actual CD for a cent on Amazon in hopes of finding out something, anything, about the group. All I discovered was that one’s a white boy, and their names are Sam and Julian; though I have no idea which is which, nor which is the rapper. Needless to say, if anyone knows anything about these fools, speak up in the comments.

You can kind of guess this from the cover, but People’s Park is in that psychadelic, hippie-ish vein that some hip-hop was going through in the early 90’s. Think Arrested Development, P.M. Dawn, short dreads, neon clothing, and circular tinted glasses and you’re there. Thing is, there’s not really any place I can think of where such a sound would more naturally originate than Berkeley, California. See, Berkeley’s kind of like Oakland’s burnt-out-hippie little brother; a strange, almost too eclectic, and almost too leftist college town. I’ll stop here, ’cause really you’ll have a pretty good feel for Berkeley soon enough.

“Stroll” is the kind of thing you’d expect from such a group. It’s a chill, surreal kind of a song–very good when it’s what you’re in the mood for. If you’re walking down the street on a sunny day it feels great in your headphones, but it doesn’t exactly fit every occasion. Our rapper (Sam/Julian?) comes across kinda like Speech rapping in a sometimes-Brotha J voice, not that I’d quite put him on the level of either. This shit is definitely all about the vibe–just pretend it’s the early 90’s again.

“B-Town Anthem” essentially sums up the Berkeley that I grew up in. I first heard this song about a year ago, yet upon hearing it I was immediately struck with a fucking wave of nostalgia for my childhood. It is dead on. Even though the rapper’s teen years were clearly a good deal before mine, his reminiscences describe my high school days shockingly well–and I wasn’t even one of the fools smoking up in the park. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think he perfectly pinpoints the feel of living in a place that, despite its cosmopolitan atmosphere, is still really a small town where there isn’t that much to do–especially for teenagers stuck in a city geared towards college students. So yeah, much as I love all that mobb and d-boy shit that I grew up hearing, fact is that this song is what the Bay really was for me.

A fun album if you’re into this sort of thing, Mod Squad capture a specific time and place almost frighteningly well… and that time and place being especially close to my heart doesn’t hurt. Besides, far as I know the only other rap group to come out of my high school is The Pack (who I also like, despite the opinions of my fellow Better Than Butt Sex bloggers) and we need our hometown pride too.

Posted in bay, west | 4 Comments »

Busta Phree… (Richie Rich Part 2)

Posted by Elijah on May 1, 2007

Richie Rich – “Half Thang”

Richie Rich – “Busta Phree”
Half Thang, 1996

Richie Rich – “It’s On” featuring E-40

Richie Rich – “Check ‘Em”

Richie Rich – “Do G’s Get To Go To Heaven?”
Seasoned Veteran, 1996

When we last left our hero he was in lock-up and his old crew 415 had gone on without him… today we pick up with his release in the mid 90’s.

Richie Rich came back real hard in ’96, with Half Thang, which was followed almost immediately by Seasoned Veteran. Any fears that he wouldn’t be able to fit in with the changes that had come to the game in those intervening years were put to rest pretty much immediately. I’d say he sounded even more comfortable over mid 90’s style g-funk beats than over the old 415 shit.

On Half Thang‘s title track he explains what got him sent to prison in the first place. Then on “Busta Phree” he goes on to take a shot at his former 415 crewmates. Damn, I could listen to that voice over slow-rolling funk for hours–what else needs saying?

Seasoned Veteran is probably Richie’s best, it’s got the big guest shots (2Pac, E-40), pitch-perfect production for Double-R, and loads of charisma. This record sounds like 90’s Oakland, straight up. “It’s On” and “Check ‘Em” are just two of the best examples of what I’m talking about; Rich’s cold menace is in full effect. “Do G’s Get To Go To Heaven?” might get a bit corny, but at the same time I find the whole part about seeing a man die incredibly poignant. Rap gangstas are usually the ones killing, it’s interesting to see the bystander’s take.

So there you have the incredible influence of a Bay legend summed up in a rather large nutshell. Richie Rich is a man who goes under appreciated most of the time, so hopefully this will get at least one person to take notice of him. And I mean damn, look at the number of songs you got, don’t say I never did nothin’ for you.

Posted in bay, west | 1 Comment »

Tell Her Make Like the Motherfuckin’ Duke Boys and Crawl Thru the Motherfuckin’ Window

Posted by Elijah on April 30, 2007

That cover doesn’t really scream “gangsta originator” does it?

415 – “41Fivin”

415 – “Snitches & Bitches”

415 – “Side Show”
41Fivin, 1991

I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t realize just what a fuckin’ OG Richie Rich is. So since I haven’t done a Bay post in awhile, I’ve got a gang of shit to let you know. I got you so many tracks, in fact, that I’m splitting this into two posts, part two tomorrow.

Richie Rich’s original group, 415, was some of the first gangsta shit outta the Bay, and really some of the earliest d-boy raps I’ve heard from anywhere. (See, to those of us from the Bay, crack raps aren’t ironic, they’re nostalgic.) It ain’t Richie Rich, but on “41Fivin” it’s plainly stated:

N***a, be down to astound the world,
You won’t be shit if you don’t pimp the white girl.
Sellin’ dope is basically what I’m sayin’
I’m comin’ up ’cause motherfuckers keep payin’.

I don’t remember too many portrayals of the crack dealer persona before 1991, so understand when I say that 415 were groundbreaking. Really most of the credit goes to Richie, I think. Far as I know the group was his brainchild, and he had that real chill and relaxed flow, which wouldn’t become the norm for Cali gangsta rap until the rise of Snoop.

Oh yeah, and Snoop has fully admitted that he ganked that shit from Richie Rich. Ok, ok, my words not his, but still he said “a major influence” or some such. It’s nice to see him admit to stealing Bay swagger for once. (Not that I don’t love Snoop.)

What’s more, “Snitches & Bitches” expounds on some shit that you may have heard a bit about in the news lately. I dunno, they say there’s been some bru-ha-ha over the words “bitch” and “ho” and about the phrase “stop…” something or other. Again this song’s seventeen years old.

One last 415 gem, Richie went solo on “Side Show” and it is, as far as I know, the first song made to elaborate upon one of the Bay Area’s most long-lived and endearing traditions: the sydeshow. Otherwise known as a bunch of fools getting together and doing crazy tricks with their cars… what, you thought ghostriding just popped up outta nowhere? Know your history. (Plus it uses the same sample as a classic Arrested Development song.)

Richie also released a solo record back in that 415 era, Don’t Do It, which is fun but not really what I want from him. It’s a little too nice and not very West Coast.

But then Richie got locked up and 415 made a new album without him, which I never even bothered to listen to. But what of Richie Rich? Would he manage to get out of prison and successfully come back into a radically changed rap game that he helped shape? Part two tomorrow.

(Oh, and the answer is yes, yes he would. Very, very well.)

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Yo, Give Me Some of That Hurricane Ethel!!

Posted by Elijah on April 23, 2007

Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Shimmy Shimmy Ya (Studio Ton remix)” featuring E-40 & MC Eiht

Between the recent posts of ODB songs, and the huge bevy of unreleased Wu-Tang I thought I’d share one of my more obscure Wu joints. Being from the Bay myself I idolize E-40, so this is a beautiful thing. I also really like hearing Big Baby Jesus over such a West Coast track by way of Studio Ton, plus there was even a video of this remix. Damn, I really wonder how this all came together, and why hardly anyone seems to have heard of it.

So this probably ends what somehow became “ODB extended weekend”. As I promised, my next in-depth type music post will really be some East Coast shit, for once (this one’s kinda halfway).

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Smashing Like a Straight Fool

Posted by Elijah on April 10, 2007

Little Bruce – “Mobbin’ In My Old School”

Little Bruce – “Footlocka Crew”
XXXtra Manish, 1994

So today I figured “how about some Bay rap?”

Hailing from Vallejo, Little Bruce is E-40’s cousin, was a regular guest on earlier 40 and Click records (which makes sense, since I think most or all of The Click were cousins) and was also part of the Funk Mobb. According to an interview posted on Bruce’s Myspace page it was records back and forth between himself and Mac Dre that started the infamous feud between Vallejo’s Millersville and Crestside neighborhoods that lasted through a good portion of the 90’s. In fact, there are a few jabs at Mac Dre throughout 1994’s XXXtra Manish.

You don’t have to look at Bruce’s Myspace page for very long to see that that was squashed (before Dre died, of course) but according to that same interview Little Bruce is now beefing with his cousin E-40, apparently feeling that his career was mismanaged. The interview’s only one side of things, of course, but it’s an interesting read.

(If none of the names in the first two paragraphs mean anything to you you obviously need to learn more about my area, the Yay Area.)

Putting aside the beefs I can say that, mismanaged or not, XXXtra Manish is some vintage Vallejo mobb shit. Fittingly enough, it plays like a cousin to E-40 and The Click, and I mean that in a good way. I don’t know if it’s even still available to buy anywhere, but if it is I’d suggest copping it. “Mobbin’ In My Oldschool” might be the album highlight (or it might just be the one that always gets stuck in my head) and it’s an uber-west-coast riding song with, I think, an ingenious use of a tinny sample to mimic a car radio. “Footlocka Crew” is… well he might be trying to make a point, but I think he’s just emulating that old Slick Rick, Dana Dane goofy shit in a 90’s gangsta vein. I love it.

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Music Is Good

Posted by Elijah on April 7, 2007

What, you may ask, is the super secret connection between San Francisco rap legend JT the Bigga Figga and French song and dance man Georges Guetary? Honestly, I just like them both alot, and figured this would be a good way to close out my posting on this first, most illustrious day of the Better Than Butt Sex blog. (You’ve gotta admit that title is a great way to keep out the “no homo” brigade.) Essentially, both “Game Recognize Game” and “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” rank (in my mind) amongst the greatest songs of all time, and repeat listenings have helped me get through all sorts of strange parts of my life, (they’ve been in heavy rotation this week, often one after the other) so I thought I’d share.

JT the Bigga Figga is, indeed, one of the biggest names in actual San Francisco (as opposed to Oakland, Vallejo, etc.) rap. Consider this song as the first in what I hope will be a bevy of jewels of Bay Area rap that I’ll be posting here, although this one’s pretty known and I plan to get a good deal more obscure in times to come. (What ya’ll know about Little Bruce, Biaje, or Rappin’ Ron & Ant Diddley Dog?) I’ll see how long I can stay obscure before giving in and posting the “I Got 5 On It” remix… I’d say a month at best.

I don’t really know anything about Guetary or the history of this particular George Gershwin song. But I do know that whenever I hear it I picture a man in a tux singing as he walks up giant art deco stairs that light up each time he steps on one, with girls in tux tops, stockings, and high heels dancing around him.


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