A film about Northwest hip-hop from 2001
Turntable Bay’s first album in 1998, the amusing No Samples, tried to expand the boundaries of content in hip-hop. MC Victor “Da Blasta” Williams and producer Scott “Ratboy” Schorr used humor and novel musical sounds to create a Rick-And-Morty-like environment where silliness was a valuable currency. The chorus of “I See Cake,” for example, repeats, “I see cake and I wanna put my ass in it.” As blogger Jack Devo put it, No Samples was, “strange, trippy, and at times hilarious.”
In my humble opinion, with some guided image control and branding the group could have aimed for the Billboard charts. But by rejecting the narrow, sugar-coated conventions of rap, i.e. cars, guns and jewelry, they presented themselves as a more difficult pill to swallow. If Da Blasta had been assisted by an industry ‘sheep dog’ to marshal his meandering lyrical content on No Samples into distinct tracks, then his commanding voice and precision breath control might have done the rest.
The duo worked hard, and in 1999 they opened for rap founding fathers The Sugarhill Gang at The Showbox. That same year, Everett True of the Stranger wrote, “Turntable Bay may be only two, but they make enough noise for 10 times their number.” Most hip-hop producers employed drum machines or sampled existing music for their tracks, but Ratboy proudly used original live music for all of his beats.
Uncle Dick is another smorgasbord of brain-tickling raps and unique musical landscapes. The first sentence we hear is, “I thought you’re supposed to have an intro on a rap record,” informing us that things are gonna get meta. To the group’s credit, each of the tracks on this second album is better organized around a single thought. “Booty Cheese 2” reprises one of the oddest tracks on No Samples, pro tip: it’s not even about what it sounds like, never was. Da Blasta dissects language and examines his verbal methods on “What Is Style?” with lyrics like, “Feel the rhyme, smell the rhyme, inhale the rhyme, put the rhyme in your mind.” On the conscious side, “Am I Black Enough For You?” and “Super White Guy” both explore racial prejudice facing the group. Album closer, “Heaven,” is a mellow, relaxing way to end the Uncle Dick experience. Written by Novocaine132