Thursday, April 16, 2015
'98 WAS A QUALITY YEAR AND IT STILL IS!
1998 was the year my parents finally caved in and gifted me n the sis with the only learning device that mattered: Cable TV. We sat in front of that motherfucker all summer, soaking in the finer points of American culture wit the mad hunger of a lapsed Mormon makin up for lost time. Hours I would normally have wasted playing outside with my friends were now devoted to religious viewing of the Box Network. I saw things I can't unsee: Jon B, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Bing & Bowie's yuletide sexual tension. Most importantly, I was exposed to the artists of No Limit and Cash Money. For a simple rube whose idea of rap started with Biggie and ended with Naughty, the music was a culture shock I never got over.
1998 is where my understanding of rap begins. Aquemini, Capital Punishment, and 400 Degreez are certified classics, but it's the good, great, and spotty releases that tell the whole story. A year of transition, it was a gloriously confused time when the inconceivable was possible: Young Bleed debuted at #1 on Billboard's Rap/R&B chart, Cappadonna rowed a tiny oar on the cover of a gold album. The heyday of the Jiggy Era, it was also a banner year for the South. In addition to quality material from Dungeon Family, Cash Money, and the Three 6 camp, No Limit had one of the more ridiculous runs in rap history.
The South's mainstream inroads signaled the beginning of a cultural overhaul that would change the rap landscape for at least the next 10 years, advancing one of the only compelling arguments for the old industry model. A label putting its money behind an album was a vote of confidence; the risk of monetary loss enforces a modicum of quality control, questionable judgment notwithstanding. Even tho they was "controversial" at the time, a release on No Limit and Cash Money rang more bells than slapping a Coke Boyz logo on your mixtape's cover JPEG ever will. Considering today's saturated yet fragmented market, it's amazing how easy it was for a young bumbler like me to get connected with Fiend, 8Ball, and the RZA.
This is my '88. I can go back and listen to the ol' chestnuts and end up lovin em, but they belong to history more than they belong to me. Sometimes I wonder how many whippersnappin' rap writers really know their By All Means Necessary or whatever. Does it matter? Must you be versed in BDP and Schoolly D before you can extol the virtues of Chief Keef, or is that like expecting ya average rock scribe to go deep with the Everly Brothers? Has rap mutated so much that it doesn't matter if you don't know its past? Does this prove the R-tard argument that rap and hip-hop are different things?
IDK, I just be askin questions n shit. Rap's a deep-ass well, and I'm still twinklin' my toes doin the backstroke thru '98. Here are some good songs from that year. Skews toward the South and East Coast, 'cause that's where my heart resides. With the exception of DMX, the more ballyhooed artists were avoided to let the second-stringers and unsung get some. Like Pac at one time, X is becoming weirdly glossed over in the conversation despite being one of the biggest artists of the era. Fuck what ya heard, "Stop Being Greedy" is a great internal dialogue.
Playa Fly - Funk-N-Bock
Soulja Slim w/ Big Ed & Mr. Serv-On - Head Buster
Parental Advisory - Like We Do
M.O.P. - Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Noreaga - N.O.R.E.
DJ Quik w/ Suga Free, Mausberg, AMG - Down, Down, Down
Witchdoctor w/ Cool Breeze - Georgia Plains (Holy Grounds)
Big Tymers - Big Ballin'
Devin the Dude w/ Odd Squad & KB - Ligole Bips
Cam'ron w/ Noreaga - Glory
Trick Daddy - Back In The Days
Kool G Rap - Let The Games Begin
Scarface w/ Tela, Too Short, Devin the Dude - Fuck Faces
The Coup - Me And Jesus The Pimp in a '79 Granada Last Night
Mac w/ O'Dell - Slow Ya Roll
RZA w/ Method Man - NYC Everything
Z-Ro w/Al-D - Life Story
Gangsta Blac w/ Playa Fly - Da End
Cappadonna & Ghostface Killah - Oh-Donna
8Ball - Time
Young Bleed - Ghost Rider
Ras Kass - H2O Proof
DMX - Stop Being Geedy