Sunday, October 27, 2019

McQ's Best Of 1998 Vol 8 - Hip Hop v Rap Rock

1998 was a dynamic, transitional year for hip hop, the year the genre finally shook free from the East Coast/West Coast tensions that had dominated the previous two and led to the assassinations of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G..

In those shootings' wake, a new generation of East Coast/West Coast hip hop stars, stars that actually got along, emerged (DMX, Big Pun, N.O.R.E., Black Star, etc.), joined by a pair of flyover state artists (Outkast, Jay-Z) who suddenly found themselves atop the rap heap.

And while all this was going on, rock's aggressive attempt to appropriate hip hop's trappings to its own ends was in full swing.

It all led to one of the most exciting years in the genre's history, and many of the 1998's biggest and greatest efforts are included here.

Here's the Spotify link! Enjoy!

About The Artists/Albums/Songs/Represented On This Mix:

1. Rosa Parks - Outkast: Aquemini's most popular song and biggest hit, it was loved by nearly all, except Rosa Parks herself, who sued the act for misappropriation of character, feeling the song was more a bravado diss of other hip hop acts than a celebration of Parks' civil rights stand. Later, Parks' family members would intimate to Big Boi and Andre that while Parks truly didn't care for the song, the lawsuit was primarily driven by Parks' opportunistic lawyers.

2. Definition - Black Star: The fates of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur weigh heavy on the minds on Mos Def & Talib Kweli as the duo lays out their hope/vision for their future in this lead single from their classic debut Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, which set a new standard at the time of its release for thoughtfulness and introspection in New York's gangster-dominated hip hop scene. 

3. Naxalite - Asian Dub Foundation: Militantly celebrating the Indian communist movement, this so cool lead single from sitar-wielding British big beat outfit Asian Dub Foundation's Mercury-Prize-nominated second album Rafi's Revenge could have just as easily gone on our Trip Hoppin' To Those Big Beats mix, but the song has such a rap-rock feel, I include it here. If you dig this one, be sure to also check out the album's other major song, the hard-edge collaboration with Primal Scream, Free Saptal Ram.

4. B.I. Vs. Friendship - Gang Starr: Powered by one of the most swaggering hip hop beats of 1998, B.I. Vs. Friendship just barely beats out You Know My Steez as the first of two representative cuts here from vaunted Brooklyn hip hop duo Gang Starr's fifth album Moment Of Truth

5. Cowboy - Kid Rock: Full disclosure, prior to diving in to my listening research for these1998 mixes, I had always been dismissive of Kid Rock. Well, color me foolish. I had no idea his fourth album Devil Without A Cause rocks as hard and well as it does, but it does just that, knocking out one badass Rage Against The Machine-caliber riff after another.  Also one of the first records to attempt to merge hip hop and country influences, Cowboy presented here is now considered the first country-rap song ever. 

6. Still Not A Player - Big Pun: I wasn't too tuned in to hip hop in 1998, but I have to say that in my look back at the genre, Bronx-born Big Punisher, one of hip hop's first Hispanic MC's, emerged as one of my favorite discoveries. Still Not A Player here was the lead single from Big Pun's debut album Capital Punishment. Sadly, Pun would pass in just another eighteen or so months right as his career was taking off, a victim of his life long struggle with obesity.

7. Money Ain't A Thang - Jermaine Dupri & Jay-Z: Though most assume this well known hip-hop hit is a Jay-Z song (a thought supported by Jay-Z's inclusion of the song as a bonus track on Jay-Z's Vol 2... Hard Knock Life and multiple greatest hits compilations), the song is actually a Jermaine Dupri composition that originally appeared on Dupri's debut Life In 1472

8. Push The Button - Money Mark: Often considered the fourth Beastie Boy, Detroit-born keyboardist/producer Mark Ramos-Nashita (aka Money Mark) experienced one of his best solo years as well in 1998 with his wildly eclectic second full-length Push The Button. Nancy will have more to share from Push The Button's poppier side on her upcoming mix, but here we focus on Money Mark's trademark talent for creating hilarious retro beats, well on display with the album's silly title track here.

9. Superthug - N.O.R.E.: Following the return to jail of his partner MC Capone, with whom N.O.R.E. had produced one of 1997's biggest hip-hop albums The War Report, Victor Santiago, Jr. (aka Noreaga, and then later N.O.R.E.) had no choice but to go it alone for his follow up, 1998 solo debut N.O.R.E. That album, which embraced a more modern production style than The War Report, was an even bigger success, buoyed by monster #1 hip hop hits like Superthug here. N.O.R.E.'s biggest selling single to date, it did even more for song producers The Neptunes, establishing them as one of the most in-demand hip hop production-teams over the next decade. 

10. Remote Control - Beastie Boys: Though not as celebrated as Hello Nasty's other three singles, Remote Control has always been my personal favorite from the Beastie Boy's dynamic, genre-hopping fifth release. 

11. Get At Me Dog - DMX: Rising up as New York's toughest, most lyrically in-your-face hip hop option in the wake of the Biggie/Tupac killings, DMX had his biggest year in 1998, which featured the release of not just his debut It's Dark And Hell Is Hot, represented here by the tough-as-nails Get At Me Dog, but his excellent sophomore effort Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood as well.

12. Love Unlimited - Fun Lovin' Criminals: One of the most satirical and eccentric acts to ever flirt with hip hop/rock hybrids, New York trio Fun Lovin' Criminal's goofy Barry White-celebrating hit from their second album 100% Columbian takes homaging a step further than most, utilizing Mr. White's own regular supporting players to provide Love Unlimited's backing vocals.

13. Slump - Outkast: With hits Rosa Parks and Spottieottiedopalicious bookending our three selections here from Outkast's Aquemini, the middle choice goes to my favorite deep cut from the album, funky slow groove Slump and its irresistibly loose backing vocals. 

14. Boo Boo'n - Devin The Dude: Possibly the wittiest and most off-beat hip hop artist to emerge from rap's freshman class of 1998, Houston-based, former competitive breakdancer and Odd Squad/Facemob member Devin Copeland scored the first minor hit of his still ongoing career with this "sh*tty" ditty from his solo debut Devin The Dude, which finds Devin deciding to take care of more, shall we say "pressing," concerns, as opposed to getting caught up in the night-to-night drama of his local hip hop social scene.

15. Ha - Juvenile: After toiling for years and building a huge reputation in New Orleans' local hip hop community, Terius Gray (aka Juvenile) broke out nationally in 1998 with his quadruple platinum third full-length release 400 Degreez, which was powered by two monster singles - the Lil' Wayne collaboration Back That Azz Up, and our representative cut from the album, Ha

16. I Got One For Ya' - Kid Rock: No one is going to accuse Kid Rock of Kendrick Lamar-level, pulitzer prize-calibre thoughtfulness. In fact, Devil Without A Cause is at its absolute weakest in those few moments when Rock tries to get deep, sensitive, or insightful. So for our second representative cut from Kid Rock's Devil Without A Cause, I decided to go with the least "sensitive," number on the record, the grooving "f*** all of you" that is I Got One For Ya'.

17. Brown Skin Lady - Black Star: Our second cut from Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is my favorite and smoothest from the album, the sister-championing, complexion-obsession-rejecting Brown Skin Lady.  

18. The Militia - Gang Starr: One of Moment Of Truth's most popular numbers, The Militia was always intended as the record's "posse" cut where Guru and DJ Premier planned to step back and let friends handle much of the vocal duties, hence the lengthy guest verses from Big Shug and Freddie Foxxx.

19. All For Self - Fun Loving' Criminals: As much as quirky hit Korean Bodega would be the natural second selection to include from 100% Columbian, I had to go with this killer Santana-ish rocker instead. All For Self is just the bomb. 

20. Can I Get A... - JAY Z: Originally released on the Def Jam soundtrack for the 1998 Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan movie Rush Hour, the girlfriend-challenging Can I Get A... was also the lead single for Jay Z's third full-length release Vol 2... Hard Knock Life, the best-selling album of his career.

21. Ghetto Supastar (That Is What You Are) - Pras:  Intended as just a duet between himself and up-and-coming vocalist Mya, Pras's solo debut title track got an unexpected assist when Wu Tan's Ol' Dirty Bastard accidentally stumbled into the their recording suite one day and upon hearing the track, ask if he could be a part of it.  The song would go on to be the former Fugee's biggest solo hit, and was prominently featured in the Warren Beatty political satire Bulworth.

22. Intergalactic - Beastie Boys: The Beastie's Ad Rock is on record as feeling the sprawling Hello Nasty was the trio's best album, and the mainstream industry seemed to agree, bestowing spacey lead single Intergalactic with 1999's best rap performance by a duo or group award. 

23. Spottieottiedopalicious - Outkast: For our final Aquemini inclusion, the incomparable slow jam Spottieottiedopalicious, for my money one of the most immaculately produced tracks in the history of the hip hop genre. 

24. I Am The Bullgod - Kid Rock: One final selection from Kid Rock's Devil Without A Cause to close things out on a rocking note, my favorite cut from the record, the surging I Am The Bullgod

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