A film about Northwest hip-hop from 1996
Hillz of Darkne$$
Hillz Of Darkne$$ is a 1996 CD from Tacoma artist J-One. The opener “Massacre” effectively uses the forlorn melody from RHCP “Under The Bridge” to convey the mood of the track. To me, “Massacre” is evocative of work by Bone Thugs & Harmony. Several other songs flirt with pop jams, in fact “Freeze Ya Dome” feels like a tribute to Biggie, flipping the “One More Chance” beat and adding some confessional lyrics. “From the nine-two to the nine-five I was locked down, fiending for freedom so I could represent the Puget Sound.” The cheeky “Stay Macc’n” has some fun interpolating “Careless Whisper.”
Most of the tracks on Hillz Of Darkne$$ are slowed way down, and the sluggish pace works to create a hazy reality. The lyrics are concentrated on gang violence, and the difficulty of surviving in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood. In fact, the dragging tempo can be suffocating, and to borrow Marshall McLuhan’s famous 1964 phrase, the medium is the message. Listening to this album can make you feel trapped in J-One’s world, all the way down to the sirens and helicopters, which is an artistic achievement.
To me the two most successful tracks on the album are “Funny Style Individuals,” and “Death Is Calling Ya Name.” “Funny Style Individuals” is all about dishonest people, “Yeah I saw you fronting, smiling in my f***ing face, but now you’re scheming so I’m watching every move you make.” The easy beat and melody make this cut a winner. “Death Is Calling Ya Name” has a very hypnotic vibe from the first moments of the track. This CD was reissued in Japan in 2011, and some of those copies are floating around the internet. Written by Novocaine132