I Used to Love H.E.R.
Published in Blog. Tags: Canada, Music.
The 46th installment of I Used to Love H.E.R., a series in which artists/bloggers/writers discuss their most essential or favorite hip-hop albums and songs…
Maestro Fresh Wes “Let Your Backbone Slide”
I don’t remember where or when I first heard it, I just remember that “Let Your Backbone Slide” has practically always been a part of my life. From what Wikipedia tells me the song was pretty popular state side as well as in Canada, but living north of the border for the majority of my life I can tell you that it stands as one of the few non-Tragically Hip songs that I can think of to be celebrated on such a level. Think “Funky Cold Medina” x “Wild Thing” in terms of its chances of being played at a party.
Coolio “Fantastic Voyage”
Coolio came along at a time when I had practically zero interest in hip hop – for the most part I practically only listened to dance music; there were some exceptions like the Spin Doctors, Counting Crows & Aerosmith, but nine times out of 10 that’s what was in the cassette player. I was somewhere around 10 or 11 years old when “Fantastic Voyage” came along and at the time it was the playful (and sexy) music video which complemented the funky bounce of the song that really hooked me; something that was repeated on a similar level (sans sexy) with Coolio’s equally enjoyable “1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin’ New)” in 1995. I remember that I kept this tape in the drawer of my desk rather than putting it on the self with my other music for fear that I’d somehow get in trouble if one of my parents saw the parental advisory sticker on the cover. Not that they were particularly interested in browsing through my music collection, but when you’re 10 and you have something that has a sticker on it explicitly warning parents about its contents, the item carries with it some sense of danger. Regardless of what kind of fame-whore, Juggalo wannabe Coolio’s evolved into, if it weren’t for tracks like Fantastic Voyage I would likely have never gained a similar ear for like-sounding rhymes and beats.
House Of Pain feat. Guru “Fed Up (remix)”
When I was in grade school I was on a competitive hockey team; I think I played for three or four seasons until my family had to move and I ended up quitting (I thought we moved for financial reasons … which we did, downsizing in many aspects of our life … so I told my parents I just didn’t want to play anymore. Years later this came up in discussion and apparently we weren’t hurting to the point where I had to quit. A shame in hindsight). One of the best memories I have was the team dynamic that was shared for a couple of seasons. While players moved up and down divisions based on their skill level, for at least two of those years I played with the same core group of kids. Never underestimate the power of winning to bring people together. Our warm-up music was made up of a selection dance music tapes … which in retrospect is absolutely ridiculous when you think about it … then again, acts like 2 Unlimited offered some pretty ill jock-jams back in the day. One of the favorites that came out of this was House of Pain’s “Jump Around”; or at least the edited version that we had on our K-Tel Dance Mix ’93 tapes. A few years later I was becoming increasingly interested in music and finding out what else was out there. The local library had a scattered selection of CDs to browse through so I typically ended up just snatching a dozen or so at a time, regardless of whether or not I knew what they were, and taking them home for a listen. On one trip I picked up House of Pain’s last album, 1996′s Truth Crushed to Earth Shall Rise Again. Granted, most all of it went right over my head and to this day I couldn’t tell you what the record sounds like … with one exception, that is. The remix of “Fed Up” really hit a spot with me then, and remains one of my favorite House of Pain tracks to this day (though in all honesty, the list of my favorite House of Pain songs isn’t a lengthy one). The song was also my introduction to Guru.
Beastie Boys “Root Down (live at Tibetan Freedom Concert)”
In 1997 I wasn’t old enough to gain a knowledgeable understanding of what exactly was going on in Tibet, or why musicians were lobbying for Tibet to be free (whatever that meant), but I was old enough to recognize that the lineup on the three-disc Free Tibet collection was sick enough to pony up the cash for. In retrospect there are far more bands on the 36-track mix that I’m interested in now than I was then … for those who aren’t familiar I’d recommend checking it out as the lineup offers a great cross section of musicians from that period. Despite the laundry list of fantastic musicians on the comp., back in ’97 I ended up spending quite a lot of time with Beasties & “Root Down.” The version might not be too different from the original, but the variation caught enough of my ear that it led me to spend a lot more time with the group. For a number of years “Intergalactic” was practically my favorite song, and strange enough, I might not have been so attracted to it had I never stood in a music store wondering what the hell Tibet was.
Funkmaster Flex & Wu-Tang Clan “Lay Your Hammer Down”
When I was in high school things weren’t really working for me: I didn’t particularly care about my grades, sports failed to hold my interest and the relationships I had with other kids were becoming increasingly superficial. I had heard about a program you could go into to work rather than take classes (essentially I’d go to school half the year, work the other half), and given my options I took that route. I went to work as a cook and for a couple years I met some ridiculous characters. That said, I was turned onto some great music along the way. Punk, rap & rave were key practically every day in the kitchen (oh, and James Brown… a lot of James Brown), and it was during this phase that I really latched on to Wu-Tang; I was familiar with the group before, but hadn’t really ever listened to any solo albums to that point. For the next couple years I remember Method Man being my favorite MC & Ol’ Dirty Bastard remains to this day one of the all-time greats in my book. While songs like “Triumph” and “Protect Ya Neck” are some of the best around and “Bring The Pain” was my favorite at the time, it was tracks like this Funkmaster collaboration that led me to dig a little deeper into the archives.
[This article first appeared on So Much Silence.]