Sunday, January 4, 2009

Maestro Fresh-Wes

I remember in '98, when I was 11 or 12 years old, I went up to Toronto for vacation during some festival where I was exposed to Maestro Fresh-Wes. At this point I had minimal knowledge of hip-hop music, let alone any knowledge of the legendary Maestro Fresh-Wes.

So I went in to one of the hip-hop shops up there and asked who "the man" was in Canada. I was given the new Maestro album, which at that time was Built to Last. "Stick to Your Vision" was my shit. I remember
listening to that track like 20 times straight after I copped the album.

The next summer I went up there again, in dire need of some new Maestro...nothing. I left T.Dot that year with Choclair's Ice Cold. A dope album indeed, but I was still curious about some new Maestro material.

In spring of '01 I made it back up to the city. At this point I was 14, eager to find out what the new hype was, and assuming that Maestro was out of the picture. Not so fast, going through the store I came across Maestro's album Ever Since. Needless to say, the album stayed in my CD player for the entire trip.

Today, I chose to share some of his more obscure releases.

The Black Tie Affair (1991)

Naaah, Dis Kid Can't Be From Canada?!! (1994)
1 I'm Drinkin' Milk Now
2 Check My Vernacular
3 Pray To Da East (ft. Percee P)
4 Certs Wid Out Da Retsyn
5 Mic Mechanism
6 Makin' Records
7 Fine Tune Da Mic (ft. Showbiz)
8 Brown Sugar
9 How Many Styles
10 Dat's My Nigga!!
11 Higher Level
12 Bring It On (Showbiz Remix)
13 Make It For The Ruff
14 Dat's My Nigga!! (Instrumental)

Death Ministry b/w Pushin' Wiggz Back (1996)

You can get Built to Last (1998) and Ever Since (2000) on Amazon for less than $2 now, so buy them! It's worth it, I promise.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Emanon (Aloe Blacc & Exile)

Emanon (no namE) consists of emcee/producer Aloe Blacc and producer/emcee Eksile (now Exile). The west coast duo's first release, Imaginary Friends, was originally released in 1996 and distributed independently. According to discogs, it was a dual-tape set, with the first being a mix of Exile's blends and instrumentals (sadly I don't have this, if anyone does feel free to post it because I'd really like to hear it).

After releasing a few 12" singles, the group released their Acid Nine EP in 1999. Shortly after came their Dawn's Second Coming album/mix, which like their first release, came with both an Emanon tape and an Exile mix tape.

With numerous 12" singles and a few mix albums now under their belt, Emanon would be exposed to the underground in the new millenium. Ill Boogie Records, home of other hip-hop artists like Mykill Myers, Styles of Beyond, DemiGodz, and more, signed the group and released their first EP, Anon & On, in 2002.

Aloe Blacc released a self-titled solo EP in 2003. Not that it needed to be proven at this point, but the EP showed that Blacc was capable of doing an album on his own.

However, it would not be long before the duo got back in the studio. Now signed to the Shaman Work label, the group returned in 2004 with their 12" single, "Count You Blessings" b/w "The Reasons." This 12" became the lead single for their 2005 release, The Waiting Room. Album reviews credited both artists' respective skills and their undeniably dope chemistry that complemented one another.

In 2006, both artists would invade the industry as solo artists. Stones Throw Records promoted Aloe Blacc with numerous 12" singles that would lead up to his album, Shine Through. While Blacc had continued to grow as an emcee, this album displayed his growth as a producer. Blacc produced the entire album aside from two tracks done by fellow Stones Throwers, Madlib and Oh No. The multi-talented artist did not disappoint.

Shortly after, Exile completed his album, Dirty Science, released on Sound In Color in 2006. With some of his best production to date, the album featured collaborations with Slum Village, Kardinal Offishall, Oh No, and more. Dirty Science also introduced West Coast emcee Blu. Exile's sample-heavy production paved a perfect path for Blu's laid-back, real-life, intelligent flows. The chemistry between the two artists led to arguably the best hip-hop album of the decade, Below the Heavens: In Hell Happy With Your New Imaginary Friend...

I was actually lucky enough to see Blu & Exile together at the Shadow Lounge (aka the place to be in the 'Burgh, fuck what ya heard). One of the illest shows I've ever seen! The power went out shortly after the opening acts were done (Word.), Exile had just came in and began setting up his hardware. Some people left, but at very least 50 real heads stayed and chilled outside. After it seemed like the power as gonna be out for a while, they set-up an amp outside that was running off a car battery (Word.). So Exile started pumping some beats through his car into the amp while Blu spit mic-less outside the lounge. And as if shit couldn't get any more real, Blu called out for the beat-boxers and Gene Jive, Knowledge Build, and I think one other dude started beatboxing while Blu spit (Word.). Yo, the shit was so fucking hype. About 15 minutes into it the power came back on in the lounge and everybody rolled back inside. The whole thing took me back, I wanted it to stay outside on the real!

Emanon - Imaginary Friends
1. Assume Not
2. Emanon (ft. Dru)
3. Whats N A Name (Prod. by Cheapshot)
4. Everylittlething
5. Interlude
6. Deadly Venom
7. The Circle
8. Hideout (ft. Acapella)
9. AmeriKKKan Dreams
10. Interlude
11. Dream Sequence
12. Situations (ft. Takbir, Prod. by Cheapshot)
13. Me vs $ (Prod. by Cheapshot)
14. Cheating

Matter of fact, if anyone knows where I can get the Acid Nine EP or Dawn's Second Coming, your help would be appreciated. I've never heard em so I'll take em in any form. I'll even buy the tapes if I have to.