The gentlemen at Diggers With Gratitude have done it once again! If you are not in the know, Diggers With Gratitude, are an amazing label that does limited edition prints/reprints of lost and over-looked treasures of the 80s and 90s. They have built up a nice cult following, so everything they release usually sells out pretty quick!!
I’ve been talking with them for a while, as we share the fascination for those eras of Hip Hop. With that in mind, Fifth Element will be arranging to get limited quantities of their releases to carry domestically, since they are based over in Europe.
They have mainly focused on Vinyl releases, but when they take the route of a CD release, you best believe it is some serious business.
Phill Most Chill is a multi-talented artist, based in Philly, who released a rare and excellent piece of wax in ’88. Then in ’91 he released some work under the alias Baritone Tiplove, including the sought after “Living Foul” EP. However, those few vinyl releases, don’t by any means represent the volume of his work. Enter “All Cuts Recorded Raw” to help fill in the blanks. What you are blessed with is 14 tracks of raw hard-hitting Hip Hop with just the right amount of humor and knowledge sprinkled thru out.
Phill Most Chill is responsible for all the lyrics and the production, as well as the artwork, on the album, with the accurate, often abrasive, and purposeful cuts of Scratchmaster Rob of the South Bronx. The beats are primarily from an assemblage of Hip Hops finest/most popular break-beats. However, I never got the feeling of the beats sounding played out. Mr. Most Chill adds enough personal touch, great sample pairings, & interesting drum programming. Add that with the intensity of Scratchmaster Rob on the cut and there is more than enough to keep things flavorful.
The CD starts out with “Phill Most Chill Is Great”, which is pretty self-explanatory as an ego-driven anthem. His aggressive delivery, key word choices and certain pronunciations definitely seem to give a nod to a LL Cool J, circa the “B.A.D”, era influence. I’m guessing this is one of the older cuts from this collection of material. In using that same theory, it might be logical to deduce that the cuts where he’s pushing his voice to the limit, with the slight growl behind it, are the earlier songs here.
The songs that immediately fall in that category are the first three. After the aforementioned opener, the CD continues with “Bozo Meko (Get Involved) and “Out To Kill”. Which leaves me to wonder if the CD was, at least in someway, sequenced chronologically.
For most of the remaining CD his annunciation is a bit less animated, but still captivating and he seems more relaxed and comfortable with his delivery.
“On Tempo Jack” is probably the most popular song in his catalog. It was released on 12” in ’88, alongside “That Girl” and “Out To Kill”, both also included on this CD. The drums for “On Tempo Jack” are menacing and give the visual of them being sampled into an SP-1200 from a dirty tape with the levels pushing the red…rugged. The drums are kept prominent as the main focus of the beat by having the main sample, courtesy of James Brown “Funky President”, fit somewhere in-between the initial kick and the final snare. This tactic, along with how Phill Most Chill’s final rhyme thought to each verse is completed by a James Brown sound-byte, are a testament to his knack for quality arrangement.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/05-On-Tempo-Jack.mp3|titles=05 On Tempo Jack]
“Phill Most Chill On The Hype Tip”…this guy is the master of telling you exactly what the song is thru the title…ha. The speed is kicked way up and he gives a demonstration on how to be hyped, but he sounds at ease, like it ain’t no thang...
“Radio” is the song that initially stood out to me. I think it’s a great balance of all his best qualities. On the production side, it’s built prominently on the excellent drum programming and supported by several subtle elements and/or bits and pieces. The hook is scratched up lovely with some Chuck D and Jeckyll & Hyde, which compliment nicely. Vocally, he might just be at his most confident, complex, & comfortable with the flow and lyrics, as well as diverse with the use of his voice.
“Pride (Remix)” maintains the same key qualities as “Radio”, but gives an extra touch with the lyrics. The first verse continues in the general vein of most of the album, classic B-Boy braggadocio. Then at the last line he throws in a hint of consciousness. Malcolm X speaks his mind over the break and then Phill comes back with one of the best verses of the CD, technically and content-wise, “Phill Most Chill original man/I got a master-plan, a mic in hand, taking a stand/To get so deep you can’t understand it/You’re looking at me like I’m the brother from another planet.” He continues a few bars later, “The authentic, the Afrocentric/I never wear blue or green contact lenses/Black to the future, positive outlook/Love to read a good book, by hook or crook (?)/It took a lot of effort to make a record much deffer/Now you know that I’m a bad mother MFer/Amped to make you break camp, the lyrical champ/I lounge and lamp, but I don’t take food stamps/I do more work than a slave/But God gave me the capability to be the master of the trade/But first I had wise up, open my eyes up/Stop the negativity in me, so I could rise up/Self-Destruction, that ain’t the way I’m going/Reading and knowing, my knowledge is growing…now I got Pride.”
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/12-Pride-Remix.mp3|titles=12 Pride (Remix)]
One thing listening to this CD reminds me of is how much I miss the days when scratching on every track was almost a requirement. Scratchmaster Rob represents splendidly all thru out and it was fitting that the CD would come to a close with his own all-out turntable assault. What stands out about Scratchmaster Rob is that he doesn’t spend his time pulling up every DJs favorite sound effect(s) and going buckwild. Instead every cut on the CD is laid with purpose. That theme is followed here as he cuts up a variety of choice phrases and musical pieces that keep it grimy, but always makes sense.