Blast Beats is a weekly column in which extreme music artists discuss their favorite hip-hop records.
In this week’s Blast Beats, Wild Hunt drummer and vocalist Harley Burkhart discusses five of his favorite hip-hop tunes from the early 90s. Check out his picks after the break.
Here’s 5 rap songs that I think are great.
FINE PRINT: These aren’t my five favorites, but they are for sure five OF my favorites. A complete list of my favorites would more likely amount to around 500 deep. Also, it should be noted these are all from back n the day, the early 90’s. Actually, one song is from ’89. For me that was the golden age, and I don’t listen to much past that.
1. SAAFIR – Light Sleeper
One of the most original voices in hip hop, and one of my favorite rappers of all time. A written verse by Saafir is erratic, switching speeds and rhythms unceasingly, like the best freestyle you ever heard. I remember some folks accusing him of not knowing how to flow on beat… But IMO Saafir actually understood an instrumental’s insides n’ outs better than any of his detractors. It’s like he was operating on a quantum-mechanical level. Oakland is Proud!
2. FREESTYLE FELLOWSHIP – 7th Seal
It’s been many years since I first heard this song, and it still is one of the most bugged-out joints ever. In the early 90’s, Myka 9 and the Fellowship demonstrated that some of the most acrobatic and downright inhuman rapping was coming from South Central LA, home of gangster rap. This song is like a sermon given by a madman who might have smoked a lil too much of that evil weed. Yet it’s remarkably controlled, especially with the repeating, almost calming “be advised they’ll come” intro. And then there’s J Sumbi’s production—that guitar lead will be whirling around in my brain till the day I die…..”up and away in the UFOs”.
3. ICE-T – Freedom of Speech
I was only 10 years old when I first heard this masterpiece. I had just come home from school, and my dad was vacuuming the living room while blasting this sh*t on the stereo. Apparently, some other goofy old white guy recommended it to him. It still is a favorite of mine to this day. This song was an reaction to the PMRC thing in the 80’s, and censorship in general. Verse after verse, f’n loaded with swear words for my pre-teen ears, including the classic line “Columbus Georgia, you can suck my d*ck, you ain’t nuttin but a piece of f**kin SH*T on the damn map!” And then finally, he ends the song with a curse-free deposition, as if he’s delivering his closing statement to the jury.
4. THE DERELIKS – Iz On Some Other
Pretty obscure to most, I’m guessing. Off the wall hip hop from the San Jo. This record “A Turn On The Wheel Is Worth More Than A Record Deal” used to trip me the hell out, and this is my favorite cut. I like Iz’ surreal, comic book-style storytelling, pocked with little nuggets of commentary like “I gave up pork, earthquakes, and the coast that I’m from”. Not sure if the beat at the end is the “perfect” beat, but it’s a good one.
5. KOOPSTA KNICCA – Stash Pot
Kinda embarrassing to say, but this is a relatively new favorite of mine(thanks to a rather unlikely source, the OpiumHum blog). I’ve been knowing about Triple-Six Mafia ever since they popped up, but sadly never really gave em a chance because, frankly, I thought they sounded a lil retarded. Now I know that I was mistaken. Here we have the late Koopsta, who never tasted as much success as his teammates Juicy J and DJ Paul, but was in my mind the most complex and intriguing lyricist out of the 3-6 bunch. His voice is smooth–almost soft– yet the combination of his southern-ass triplets and DJ Paul’s Creepshow-esque production makes this song scary as fuck. There’s waaay too much to get into here about the style—— horrorcore, ana, purple drink, the chewin, Murderbells, and the hotbed that is Memphis, Tennessee. But I will say, atmospherically, this kinda shit gives me a feeling eerily similar to that which I get from the weirdest and murkiest of black metal. “Lock you in the f’n truck/trunk”.