Things have been so hectic I haven’t been able to keep up with writing about every Dope Folks release, but believe me they have continued to please the ears with their impressive stream of found treasures.
There was one release that I had been anticipating for a while. Back when they dropped the Rock La Flow “Flowgram” EP, I was blown away and have been raving about it every since to whoever will listen. Plus it had that suggestive “Part One” listed, as a forecasting that there was more to come. However, I didn’t expect it would come in a double dose!
Dope Folks recently released two new Rock La Flow Vinyl EPs; “Flowgram” EP PT 2 and “The Ulimtate” EP. Both filled with some excellent tracks, all of which are produced by, Tory Tee, who is continually setting himself up as one of the nicest 90s producers you probably never heard of*. “Flowgram” Pt 2 is from the same time period as the first, ’94-’95 and it all flows together quite nicely. You can easily put all 14 tracks on a disc and get a nice “Flowgram” album. It starts off what is probably the best track on the EP, “F.A.M.E”. Tory Tee flips the “Fame” sample quite nicely and has it sounding rugged as ever. Rock La Flow comes in with his signature swift flow and creative rhyme schemes and patterns. Then after a minute and ½ it quickly fades out, as it only serves as a teaser and leaves you hungry for more.
Rock La Flow-F.A.M.E:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/01-Rock-La-Flow-FAME.mp3|titles=01-Rock La Flow-FAME]
Satisfaction is maintained with “What!?!?”. Rock La Flow flexes his sense of humor on the hook with some street corner crooning stylings. Then proceeds to hit you in the head with a bunch of quality punchlines and visual images; “In ’84 I wore a Kangol on a Angle”, “Known for showing off like a flasher”, & “Everybody that diss me need to be bodyguarded” to name a few.
Other track highlights include; “Illwaukee”, “It Ain’t All Good”, and “Party Time (Remix)”. “Illwaukee” represents his city with a posse cut, featuring guest MCs Spoon & Kerse One; both who drop verses leaving me waiting for someone to unearth their lost demos as well. “It Ain’t All Good”, also represents his city, but from a completely different light, “I live among racists/And everyone got two faces/Kids are catching cases, because there are no family embraces”.
The original version of “Party Time” was on the first “Flowgram” EP and it was my least favorite track. Yet here with the right remix which gives it some amped up energy it feels more like a party I’d like to be at. I can visualize me rocking this joint on the regular now.
Rock La Flow-Partytime Remix:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/07-Rock-La-Flow-Party-Time-Remix.mp3|titles=07-Rock La Flow-Party Time (Remix)]
“The Ultimate” EP showcases Rock La Flow & Tory Tee before the “Flowgram” days with tracks from the ’92-’93 era. His flow isn’t quite as mastered, although still impressive. Tory Tee was still developing his sound. Overall it’s just a bit rougher around the edges…which is why I love it even more. I like hearing those raw basement tapes when people don’t seem to be thinking about record deals, radio play, or even worrying about a fanbase they don’t even have yet. In that setting they just rely on pure artistry and go all out. This is exactly the case here.
I could tell from the titles on “The Ultimate” that it was going to be the one for me, “Freestyle Fanatic” and “My Rhymes Are Deadly” in particular. Both of which lived up to their respective titles.
However, my favorite track is “F.E.A.R”, standing for Fake Emcees Avoid Rock. Tory Tee does an excellent job of chopping various breaks and instruments resulting in one of his best beats. Rock La Flow is in rare form as well. He keeps the acronyms going by giving some various meanings to the first part of his name, R.O.C.K; “Rock On Cool Kid, Rhymes Of a Cool King/Rock Off and then Collects Knowledge and it do mean/Ruler Of Chaotic Kingdoms and Raps Only Common Killer/breathing fire like Godzilla.”
Rock La Flow-F.E.A.R:
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/07-Rock-LA-Flow-Fear.mp3|titles=07-Rock LA Flow-Fear]
“Lets Get 2 It” and “Go Wit Da Flow” display their ability to make quality up-tempo fun party tracks. It’s tracks like these that I feel like A&Rs would have been all over if he was shopping these demos in the 90s, but at the same time, B-Boys/Girls probably wouldn’t have been mad at them either.
“Brown Suga” and “Love Song” are his two Hip Hop obligatory girl songs. “Brown Suga” talks about the popular early 90s topic of Gold Diggers. “Love Song” is actually a more of an anti-love song, with a guitar solo bridge, describing a break up. Both tracks have nice and clean production with well-done sung hooks and Rock La Flow still puts effort in the writing as if it was a battle rhyme, making them both solid joints.
Getting back to “My Rhymes Are Deadly” I’m talking a wild guess that this probably the oldest song in the collection. I’d even venture to say that it is the one track recorded before the suggested ’92-’93 date range. Not much earlier, probably just ’91. I’m basing that on the style of the production and the sound quality of the demo. Plus a lot of his vocal references, such as; mentioning “O.P.P”, ending the song saying “I’m Audi”, his quicker paced flow and even the title itself lends from a late 80s/early 90s frame of mind.
I don’t think I can brag much more about the skills of Rock La Flow and Tory Tee than I have above and in my review of “Flowgram” Pt 1. If you aren’t convinced that you NEED to own all 3 of these EPs by now, then you probably just don’t like 90s Hip Hop. If you do, get them all before they are gone, as they are limited edition and getting down to the last...
*Tory Tee is responsible for all the Rock La Flow EPs production and the Stranj Child EP on Dope Folks as well!