My History with Hip Hop + Big Announcement

The Beginning: Every great love affair has an equally great beginning. Unfortunately, my affair starts with a lot of hate. During the early 1990’s, I straight up hated that crap. I hated the very albums I adore and praise today when they were first released. My siblings and their friends would play it obsessively on the large speakers we had in the front room. Bass was everything. I don’t remember if they ever actually blew out any speakers while doing this, but I know it drove my mom crazy. I know she didn’t want her speakers broken. So I wanted nothing to do with hip hop. It was the genre that broke stuff and caused pain. Nothing that was worth my time.

The Walls Come Down: By the late 1990’s, I had gotten over my initial hate. I had too many friends that liked it and it’s such a silly reason to discount an entire genre. DMX, Master P, 2Pac, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Dr. Dre, Eminem, etc. were now in my life to an extent. I didn’t really seek out hip hop music in high school, but I was okay if it found me. It was a genre on equal footing with the others out there like jazz, pop and rock. By the time college started, hip hop was a regular in my music rotation. My freshman year, I very much enjoyed playing Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001 as loud as I could while living in the dorms. Regardless, I still wasn’t anywhere close to where I am now. So where does the story really begin? When did everything change?

The Real Beginning: The end of college is when it all happened. Nothing was ever the same after that night. It the night that Randy K (not his real name) handed me a silver CD-R with the name Oliver Hart, scribbled in black Sharpie, across the top of it. He had been playing it in the car that night, though it was kind of hard to hear since it wasn’t that loud. The point of that winter night was hanging out and talking and not listening to music. So I knew it sounded different and it had potential to be an album that I could like. I was actually much more taken with The Faint album I heard that night, which I also received a copy of. If you haven’t heard their song, Glass Danse, you are seriously missing out. My editor and I played that song a freaking bunch. It’s so infectious. So Oliver Hart kind of fell to the wayside until summer.

How Eye One the Write Too Think: So it turns out that Oliver Hart is actually a Minnesota-based rapper named Eyedea. Hart was just a pseudonym. Eyedea was my baptism into Underground Hip Hop. It lasted a little longer than your average one: three months. While slaving away at my co-op job in a cold research lab, I spent the entire summer listening to The Many Faces of Oliver Hart or How Eye One the Write Too Think on repeat with two other albums. While the two other albums were good, they really ended up serving as filler so I wouldn’t burn myself out on Eyedea’s album. When I wasn’t listening to it, I was waiting for it to come back up on my CD MP3 player.

Going Underground: Eyedea opened up a whole new world for me that, up until that point, I didn’t know was possible in music. His album is more of a philosophical discussion than music. In Step By Step, Eyedea explores the afterlife with two angels: one of them always lies and one of them always tells the truth. He could choose to go with only one of them. Choosing the right one would lead him to heaven and the other would drag him to hell. I’m sure, at this point, everyone is thinking of a certain scene from Labyrinth. Both the movie and the song cover the classic Knights and Knaves logic problem. But Eyedea’s solution to the problem was meant to make you think about it from yet another perspective. The fact that someone could rap a story about a logic problem blew my mind into a million tiny pieces. Bottle Dreams had an equally forceful impact on my views of what could be done with music. The song discusses the story of a young female violin prodigy who spent her life being molested by her father. It’s an incredibly sad song and there was no happy ending for her. Again, I couldn’t believe somebody could rap about such a topic. As unbelievable as the album was, I knew I couldn’t stop there. I needed more.

The Neverending Story: Flash forward over twelve years later and my love of hip hop has only grown stronger. I’ve revisited what was happening in the early 1990’s and I am absolutely grateful that I was alive to witness (even if I wasn’t paying attention as much as I should have been) what was going on in hip hop and the dramatic changes that were happening. Even today, I am astounded by what is going on in hip hop. If you’re still musically stuck in your teenage years and say there is no good music anymore, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you’re just being a lazy f**k. If you want the good s**t, you’re going to have to put some effort into seeking it out. If you do, you end up with hip hop music like dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip‘s first single, Thou Shalt Always Kill in your life. It’s such a fantastic song. Dan le Sac’s beats are mesmerizing, and Pip’s lyrics are thought-provoking on so many levels. The video itself is incredibly playful visually. Why am I mentioning and focusing on this song? Because it is the reason for what’s going to be happening with Project Lt. Morning for the next 4 months.

The Big Announcement: One of the early decisions about this blog is that nobody would know what album was being reviewed until I published the review. The blog is more about the experience of going through my MP3 player and listening to all of the music than the music itself. This is why posts are titled things like Week 15 instead of the name of the album and why sometimes I end up reviewing horrible albums. However, for the next 15 reviews, I will be listening to some of the greatest albums ever recorded and each one makes an appearance in Thou Shalt Always Kill. In fact, I’m reviewing the albums in order of appearance so everyone can know what I’m reviewing long before I publish it. This is a pretty significant change for me, but like everything with this blog: let’s give it a try and see how it goes.

So without further ado may I present my next experiment for Project Lt. Morning: Just a Band.

PS I’m considering doing a tournament of the 15 albums plus Angles (the album the song, Thou Shalt Always Kill, is from) once all the review are done. Just a simple playoff bracket to figure out which album is the best. I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of 5 star reviews so I wanted to do something to differentiate them. There can be only one.

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