Artist: Supa Dave
Album: Scenario (The Mixtape)
Label: Turntable Technicians
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Ok you can look at this two ways. Here’s the blurb… New York resident Supa Dave, a member of the skilled Turntable Technicians crew, has put together a joint that profiles the skills of arguably some of the nicest emcees to ever come of the Big Apple.
Now before you start bitching about another “Best of Biggie”, or “Jay-Z’s Greatest Joints”, and how you’ve seen it before, y’all need to stop and chill. Yeah, yeah, now check the method. Y’see, there’s two fantastic selling points for this cd. For one, every track is mixed perfectly and each emcee’s little turn in the spotlight is preceded by a Supa Dave produced intro where their familiar lines and lyrics are devastatingly cut up, DJ Premier hook style. The other selling point? Well this one might be a strange draw, but believe me it works. Supa Dave has at times picked tracks from these emcees that probably AREN’T their most popular, or have the best beats. But what this does do is allow you to focus on the lyrics, as each emcee proves their worth to your ears. And who are the Hiphop heavyweights jockeying for position here? Well, check this line up… Big L, Biggie, Redman, Nas, Jigga, LL and Rakim. You can’t handle the whole weight son.
The first portion of the cd, the Big L and Biggie section actually had me a little depressed, as it sets out in black and white exactly how dope both these cats were and how much worse off Hiphop is now that they ain’t around any more. Its hard to deny the emotion that a track like ‘The Big Picture’ can still bring up with its live in concert plea from Lord Finesse and Fat Joe to “put the motherfucking L’s up in the air… this is for my man Big L” laid over haunting strings. The inclusion of the always welcome ‘Ebonics’, and the punching above his weight sessions with Kane on ‘Platinum Plus’, and with G Rap on ‘Fall Back’ also serve to illustrate how much of a void the loss of Big L has left in Hiphop.
And while we’re talking about voids… Biggie Smalls is the illest. You cannot deny the man’s skills, and Dave’s ‘You Should Know My Steelo’ intro is a fantastic minute long romp through Christopher Wallace’s most memorable lines, before ‘Gimme Da Loot’ is followed by ‘Machine Gun Funk’ and ‘Kick In The Door’ – like I said, Dave ain’t going for the big selling hits, choosing to instead focus on straight up knockers. The sombre ‘Who Shot Ya’ rounds things off, and again its hard to avoid the feeling that this is another guy who could and should still be with us putting out more solid shit.
Thankfully Da Funkdoctor’s arrival pulls us out of the mini-depression. Dave’s picks here definitely would not be in MY personal Redman showcase, but his self-produced Redman intro gets things bouncing nicely, before ‘Rated R’ and ‘Redman Meets Reggie Noble’ kick in. The remix of ‘Pick It Up’ is the only low point, stripping away all the vibrant energy from the original and replacing it with a worn out bassline and little else. Luckily, the K-Solo team up, ‘My Big Brother’ and Red’s verse from EPMD’s ‘Hardcore’ pick things back up from the temporary low. Again, I guess its all in the choices of the individual, but these are some low-key choices for a nutty cat like Red.
Next up, a certain Queensbridge emcee called Mr Jones. The choice of Nas cuts here is much more impressive – ‘Rewind’, ‘Represent’, ‘I Gave You Power’, and ‘NY State Of Mind’ all feature and when combined with the ‘Straight Out The Dungeons’ intro that Dave catches wreck on, it makes this arguably the high point on the whole cd. ‘Represent’ especially, a track that many overlook when talking about Nas’ best cuts, still sounds as fresh as the first time I picked up “Illmatic”.
Its almost no surprise that an appearance from Nas’ arch enemy (boo! hiss!) Jay-Z follows. Here again, Dave has made some interesting picks with the bouncy ‘Do It Again’ perhaps being the only cut I might think of tossing on to a cd of my own. However as previously mentioned, while ‘Where I’m From’, or the two versions of ‘Friend Or Foe’ may not have the greatest beats in the world (in my opinion) it certainly does help you focus on Jigga’s words and verbs. And yeah you can’t deny it – this guy is sick lyrically. Hate if you want, but you must recognise.
The two old-timers round things off – a couple of cuts from LL (‘I Shot Ya’ and ‘4, 3, 2, 1’) and a superb Dave LL intro, precede three cuts and an intro from The R. Now the tracks chosen for Rakim may be from the later section of his back catalogue, but I gotta admit that they’re three of my favourites. So I’m mightily impressed, not only at the actual appearance, but also at the seamless mixing between ‘Don’t Sweat The Technique’, ‘What’s On Your Mind’ and ‘Know The Ledge’. Its nice to see that the old favourites from the golden era can still after all this time hang lyrically with some of the newer cats. At time’s Rakim is STILL verbally ahead of his time.
So, the verdict? You probably have the vast majority of these cuts. But you WON’T have em mixed like this, and you certainly won’t have the little intro cuts that Dave hooked up himself. Those are almost worth the entrance fee on their own. So you got some nice emcees, some nice tracks, and a DJ who knows the difference between overpowering a mix cd with his nasty table techniques, and when to just step back and let the music do the talking. Supa Dave’s skills are undeniable, and his hard work to put together this little tribute of sorts demands that you check it out. Go find this, and cop it.