When the summer heat is on, I definitely turn to a few stupid-fresh classic summer jams that get me in the mood for just about anything.
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When the summer heat is on, I definitely turn to a few stupid-fresh classic summer jams that get me in the mood for just about anything. This week has got three of my favorite New York throwback hip-hop tracks that have always reminded me that summer time is the right time.
Mobb Deep – “Temperature’s Rising” feat. Crystal Johnson
Mobb Deep is one of rap’s most talented duos to ever commit lyrics to vinyl. Hailing from Queens, N.Y., Havoc (b. Kejuan Muchita) and Prodigy (b. Albert Johnson) deliver particularly gritty, dark and intense rhymes giving the listener a sense of the true grit of New York city streets. Havoc’s verse tells of a friend on the run for a murder beef, but will surely avoid police involvement and legal consequence due to his ability to avoid both like the plague. After this first verse a spectacular vocal line rolls in, sung by Crystal Johnson exclaiming that, “The temperature’s risin, there’s nothin surprising.” Prodigy’s verse soon laments that whoever has told the police of their friend’s supposed crime will surely be dealt with in a manner that the streets consider justifiable. Prodigy continues to rap on, condemning the system, delivering an anti-police message that sticks with all of the downpressed people forced into ghetto living. This song is a classic not only for its lyrical elocution, but also for its timeless sample of Patrice Rushen’s “Where There is Love.” A summer jam for sure.
The Infamous, Loud Records, 1995.
Jeru The Damaja – “Brooklyn Took It”
Jeru is one of the classic East Coast greats. His complex, gritty yet straightforward dominance of the microphone has been displayed since his first appearance on Gang Starr’s ’92 album, Daily Operation (specifically on the track “I’m the Man”). This track is the “remedy for all your cornball raps” as Jeru states in the opening lines. The entire track is a strong testament to the Damaja’s claims to his lyrical styles, dedication to the Brooklyn borough and his stone-cold metaphors. DJ Premiere of Gang Starr comes through with some great production on the whole album and this track is no different. A heavily processed sample of blues great Albert King’s “I’ll Play the Blues for You” appears here, after countless uses by other New York greats such as Lord Finesse and Big L’s “Yes You May.” Jeru proves that Brooklyn is the dominating force in New York’s entire hip-hop scene. Plus it may be the first use of the word “jelly” as an abbreviation of jealous!
The Sun Rises in the East, PayDay Records, 1994.
Big L – “Put It On” feat. Kid Capri
Easily one of L’s most widely known performances, “Put It On” has stood the test of time. It comes correct with some of the steadiest, heaviest and precisely delivered rhymes of the ‘90s. A gritty tune with autobiographical and shamelessly promotional overtones, Big L speaks on everything from the crack problems in New York since its introduction in the ‘80s to having more cash than mobster John Gotti. Bronx producer Buckwild lends his skills not only to the track, but to much of the album as well. A funky drum line from Skull Snaps 1973 track “It’s a New Day” provides a beat, while Buster Williams’ 1976 jam “Vibrations” provides an uplifting and vibing sound that you can’t help but swing and shake to. “Put It On” still to this day remains one of the most impressive tracks on Big L’s debut release and will easily continue to stand out as a summer jam.
Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, 1994. ?