Thoughts From The Rap Nest
My love, endearment and allegiance to Ugsmag is no secret. I have been a fan of Ugsmag for over 20 years and have been a contributor to the magazine over the years in the various online incarnations. I remember discovering it for the first time through their store and then message board community. To see it grow into a physical magazine all these years later and to have my column, interviews and reviews printed in a physical magazine is something really special for me. I don’t fancy myself as a journalist or much of writer but I am a hip hop maniac and I like to be involved in all aspects of the culture!
When Noyz first mentioned he was taking the magazine to print and asked if I would like to contribute, I said yes without hesitation. I was so excited to be a part of this new era of Ugsmag. One of my favourite things is all of the contributors that lend their talents to creating such a dope magazine. It has been a real privilege to have contributed to the first three issues and I have already started scheming my contributions for the fourth issue. My other favourite thing is seeing them get posed in the wild and especially when some of your rap heroes post them. I find that really exciting. I want to give a huge shout out to Noyz for all the hard work he has put in and continues to put in on this labour of love project! Thank you for 20 plus years of friendship and for always entertaining my wild ideas! I love you homie!
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There has been a lot of talk about 4 album runs buy artists since the release and re-release of the De La Soul albums a couple weeks back. It is undeniable that the first four De La records is the best 4 album run in the history of rap. I think so anyways. There are lots of other incredible ones and some slept on ones. I have been thinking about this a lot and going through rappers and albums in my head. There are so many incredible three album run artists or one ones that 4 of the first 5 are incredible but there is one dud mixed in there to break the streak. There are some real obvious choices like Ice Cube, The Ghetto Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Too Short etc, but I have been racking my brain on others. It is super tough. As soon as I think I have a great one there is always one album that messes it up and it almost crushes me and I let out an audible “fuck’ and shake my head. Some of the ones I have been thinking about are as follows.
The Hate Fransisco False
The One Man Band Broke Up
Broken Bone Ballad
Don’t Talk To Me
Success Is Destiny
Fuck The Dumb
Symbionese Liberation Album
Chillin’ With Dead Bodies in a B-Boy Stance
Ones I was thinking about, but didn’t make the cut were Aceyalone. His first three are undeniable but the fourth is where it falls off. If you could switch Hip Hop And The World We Live In with Love and Hate then it would make the cut. I almost just put this one because of the strength of the first three albums and the affect A Book Of Human Language has had on the culture. Accepted Eclectic is still his best record! Not a hot take, just how I honestly feel. I am not trying to take anything away from A Book Of Human Language but I will save this debate for another day. Another is Marta Ace. If you could drop Slaughtahouse then you could have a run of Take a Look Around, Sittin on Chrome, Disposable Arts and Long Hot Summer which would be an absolutely incredible run! Myka 9, to make it work for me you would have to drop Citrus Sessions vol. ! with 1969 and it would be on!!!! I am sure there are a lot I am not thinking about and ones that wouldn’t make the cut for debut would for other and vice versa.
Missed Third Verse last night? Ugsmag has you covered once again to stream or download NOW! Catch Third Verse on CFCR 90.5 fm in Saskatoon, SK every Wednesday 9-10:30pm CST. Stream online via CFCR.ca or Radio Garden.
As always the last 10 episodes of my other weekly radio show You Know Know the Rules on UMFM in Winnipeg airing every Sunday night 10:00pm -11pm CST. Episodes availible NOW!
Happy Birthday to the Gumshoe Strut!!!!
Billy Woods - Church
I have been a Billy Woods fan since I randomly bought Today, I wrote Nothing while in Minneapolis at Fifth Element. I bought its strictly based on the cover. I had no idea who he was or anything about him but there was something about the cover where I thought there is no way this can’t be good. I am so glad I picked that up. I have since been pickling up his solo and Armand Hammer releases since. After listening to all his records to this point I have come to the conclusion that this is my favourite album of his and I think it is his best. Since coming to that conclusion I have seen a few others post the same or similar sentiments about it. I enjoyed seeing people share that. I know Billy Woods is not for everyone but I do know that he is for me and his music just makes a lot of sense to me. Pollo Rico is the best song on this album and I think the best song he has ever recorded. It is a perfect rap song on a perfect album. I had the chance to see Billy Woods perform twice live and it was the ultimate. I really want to see him live again. He also said at the show when he was talking to Nolto that the mother of his child was from Saskatoon which was so random. I also just recently learned that his father was a PhD Marxist writer which intrigues me even more. If you have not heard this album do yourself a favour and go listen to it now.
ShrapKnel - Metal Lungs
Another sure shot from the good folks at backwoodz studioz! The dynamic mc duo consisting of Curly Castro and PermRock is one that can’t be beat but maybe Rivaled by Billy Woods and Elucid as Armand Hammer. PremRock is everywhere these days and that is a good thing. I have really grown to enjoy his raps and projects over the past number of years. Curly Castro, I was little bit late to the game on but I am enjoying going back in his catalogue to get familiar with his works. The majority of the production is handled by Steel Tipped Dove. He has been making a real name for himself over the past couple of years and their production is now something I look out for. I would recommend checking out Call Me When You Are Outside as a jump off point to get into his production style. It is super good record. There are some real heaters on this album including Metal Sum Kids with Rob Sonic and Cold Burn. Just some super raw uncut hip hop!
A couple classics from one of Edmonton’s finest in Nato. The first is a Nato & Touch are the Representatives shirt and the second is a classic shirt for Nato’s homie The Junkyard Dog. You might remember him from the short lived but incredible Meet Junkyard series on Ugsmag a number of years back.
Meet Junkyard takes you into the world of a regular guy who happens to have twelve children, three ex-wives, more scars than Christ, a lengthy criminal record, and been involved in two Vietnam tours. Junkyard has never had a bank account and he doesn’t have a phone so sometimes he stops by his best pal Nato’s house to chat with friends.
fu-schickens - F.U. “don’t take it personal”
I got this album in 1992, I remember buying it at the Sam The Record Man store in the Midtown Mall downtown in Saskatoon when their rap tape section was three rows of tapes about 20 deep in each row. I had that tape section memorized so when something new came in I knew it instantly. At this point in my life I really thought I could own every rap tape made. There was no internet, I was unaware of Rap Magazines and all the Rap I was exposed to or knew about was through 3o minutes of rap city a week. Five and if you were lucky 6 videos a week. That was it. So, I naively and genuinely thought that was all the Rap music that existed. Boy, was I ever wrong about that and I quickly realized my drive to own ever rap record in the world was futile. I am still blown away by how much rap actually existed in this era, that I didn’t know about and that I am still learning about. In the back of my mind I still think I can own every album well every album I want anyways.
I am not sure what video I saw first, La Schmoove or Ring The Alarm, but I do know I instantly loved the La Schmoove instantly. It had everything I liked about rap. It was more serious and street than the Ring The Alarm video so as an inpressionible youth this would resonate with me a lot more. Also I loved the colorful cross colors gear they were rocking and that it was a predominately performance based video. I had never been to a rap show at this point but I was able to get a glimpse into that world through this video. It is wild when I think back to how isolated Saskatoon was from the rest of the world. There are definitely a lot of pros and cons to this, but when something like the fu-schickens can break through and be a beacon for those of this stranded on a proverbial island, it leaves a lasting and endearing mark on you. One that lasts the rest of your life. This album brings up a lot of those feeling and frustrations endured with growing up in a relatively isolated prairie city.
This album went gold in Canada in addition to going gold in the United States. to get a gold record in Canada you need to sell 50,000 copies and for this album to sell that many copies in Canada in this era is a real testament to the commercial appeal and I mean that in a positive sense of the group. Rap was still super underground at the time but for it to be a universal sure shot within the Canadian Rap Community makes sense to me but is still really impressive. I don’t know a single rap fan from this era that didn’t own this tape and I don’t know a single rap fan who was equally as disappointed with the follow up album, Nervous Breakdown. That is subject for another day, but it has aged better than when it dropped.
I have a lot of really great memories of listening to the this album. I pretty much walked to school my whole life. This album was in heavy rotation when I got it. I listened to it months on end without taking it out of my Walkman. It was my soundtrack to walking in minus 40 degree weather and warmed my soul taking away any windchill that tried to find its way in. In High School we listened to this album a lot. When I was in Grade 9, M.Phasis and his best friend at the time Jerome Hussein were in grade 10. Jerome had his licence and and he had a 1970’s Nova muscle car that the three of us cruised around in, also known as loser laps, but not so much in that era as there was not a lot to do. They used to always call me Mark Fu, a play on the name of Moc Fu, one of the members, and my favourite member of the fu-schnikens. This album was in heavy rotation for the three of us. We all played High School Football that year. Jerome quit playing football and me and M.Phasis sort of lost touch with him as high school went on. He was not as fanatical about hip hop as we were so that may have had something to do with it and I also think he got a serious girlfriend at the time so had little time to kick it with us at that time.
I know this experience with this album and albums like it are not unique to me. I know this album meant a lot and still means a lot to a lot of the homies. It was an album that you could instantly make friends with someone over and was part of that 10 track album era, that that made albums super solid front to back and have a lot of replay value. This was one of those special albums of my formative rap years.
As always, thank you for reading and for the feedback!
**legal disclaimer all records and songs were run through the RAP NEST 5000 SUPER ANALYTIC COMPTROLLER MACHINE that is certified by the I.A.A.R.R.A (International Association of Analytical Rap Recordings Analysis) in layman’s terms, it means the machine is never wrong.
Catch you next week with more thoughts from the rap nest.
Thanks for reading Thoughts From the Rap Nest! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
I got my copy of UGSMAG last Friday! I still haven't been able to dig into it much, but I love what I've seen. I'll eventually post timelapses of my illustrations once I get my ducks in row.
I haven't a clear idea on how I found about the Fu-Schnickens, but I suspect it may have been a segment about them on The New Music back in the day. Their individual flows and kung-fu schtick blew my mind. Chip's delivery is still devastating. I was stoked when I was able to find a copy of Whitey Don's "Artical" 12" (on white vinyl...sorry) with him and Phife on it at the Osborne Into the Music before it closed for good.
Great album picks this week! Pollo Rico is excellent.