Album: Well Flavoured Essentials
Rating: 8 / 10
On the heels of the well-received “Aberfoyle Springs Volume 1” compilation, hiphophotspot.com returns with a sequel volume, “Well Flavoured Essentials”. The first in this series offered an opportunity for a number of emcees affiliated with HHHS to shine on solo and collaborative tracks; this album brings more of the same, with contributions from Scienz of Life, Celph Titled, and Rok One, among others. Although short a few underground heavyweights such as Mars Ill and Apathy, who graced cuts on Volume 1, there’s plenty of quality nestled in the 19 tracks spread across some 76-plus minutes of music.
The CD opens with the latin-tinged Jon Doe production on Scienz of Life’s ‘Hot Night’. Complimented nicely by a horn line and layered production, this is the rare underground party track that can easily slip into a club set and keep bodies in motion at your neighborhood block party. Sandwich it between some Tego Calderon or a Kevin Lyttle track, and you’re well on your way. While ‘Hot Night’ isn’t quite indicative of the tone and tempo of the remaining tracks on the album, it excels both on its own and lead-in for the next 18 cuts.
Switching modes a bit, Toronto native Anonymous Twist’s ‘Bump This’ signals the jack-of-all-trades motif that runs through a good half of the tracks on this compilation, with Twist handling both production and mic duties. Don’t let the Janus routine scare you though; with a flow reminiscent of Dilated Peoples, crisp production, and a clever vocal sample (“Hi. My name is Mark : I go to a predominately white college : but at night, when all my white friends are asleep : I bump this”), this is definitely a quality cut. Similar producer-MC efforts on tracks by Kunga219, Jeff Spec, Sixtoo, and Moves, are slightly uneven at times, but on the whole, none of these artists does themselves a disservice behind the boards.
Two of the biggest highlights are the compilation’s two featured remixes. The original source tracks curiously appear to have been gathering a bit of dust (both were released late in 2002), but are refreshingly presented here. K-Skills and Celph Titled on the Celph Titled-produced remix of ‘Who’s Fuckin’ Around’ are a seamless duo, deftly riding the underground track while making claims of breaking through to the masses (“From Maryland to N-Y / that’s how we running it down / time to surface from under the ground”). Storm The Unpredictable offers a perfect postscript to De La Soul’s ‘Baby Phat’ on the t*E*C*K! remix of ‘Get Your Weight Up (Big Girl Anthem)’. Another MC representing Maryland area well, Storm’s humorous entreats for thick companionship (“matter fact / if you ain’t pushing like 170 pounds / shorty sit down : you’ll never be in my crib / chillin’ in your night gown / Storm don’t want no skinny-mini / Storm want that round mound”) are both complemented and bolstered by a strolling bassline and lilting flute accents throughout.
For more reflective material, check Rok One’s bitter tinged post-relationship musings on ‘Southern Discomfort’; the instrumental has the feel of a smoky jazz club with quick piano runs, a mellow backing bass, and a quick Guru vocal snippet on the hook. ‘Wasted Tears’ features moody effects and a pensive vocal sample (not credited, but possibly from Joan Baez’s ‘Ballad of Sacco & Vanzetti (Part III)’?) that creates a balanced landscape for Sev Statik’s lyrics.
A few tracks seem to slightly miss their mark, appearing to present clashes between vocals and track that never quite grab me. To be honest, if I had heard some of these joints (for instance, Sixtoo’s ‘Death Match’) at an open mic, sans the backing track, they would have been two or three notches better. However, as presented here, I wasn’t moved by them.
Overall though, this is another taut compilation effort from HipHopHotSpot.com. Underground with some welcome mainstream nuances, this is well worth the time spent listening, and offers an excellent showcase for quality artists and artistry. Get a copy, and support the music.