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The Shinin' Director's Cut EP

Olympia’s K Records put out some surprising stuff back in the day. Take this, for example: The Shinin’s Directors Cut EP. This West Coast release, produced entirely by Take One and None, featured the rare combination (at least at that time) of both Cali and Northwest emcees. PM, Universal, DR. OOP, and J-Thorn represent the south, while Samson S, Vitamin D, and Bedroom Produksionz stand up for the north. 8 tracks in all, 5 vox, and 3 instrumental. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Table Manners 2

Last weekend I was thrilled to pick up a copy of Vitamin D’s Table Manners 2 on wax at The Big Dig event at Vermillion. Here’s a truly unique gem in the long canon of Seattle hip-hop: It’s from 1999 and it plays like one long, uninterrupted 45-minute jam, Vita on the decks sampling and scratching his way through the crates, while a revolving door of late-90s emcees takes turns freestylin’ over top. (Are there any other Seattle hip-hop record so devoted to the art of Turntablism?) Many of the Tribal gang are featured on this record: Samson S, Silas Black, B-Self, H Bomb, Wordsayer J. Moore, and there’s even a short segment of rival scratching, called “Jake’s Breaks,” starting Tuxedo’s Jake One. Table Manners 2 is such a fun record from start to finish. It’s easygoing and raw and loose. You feel like you’re in the studio, hanging out with our Town’s top talent at the turn of the millennium. Local music rag The Rocket said this album “breathes new life into classic breaks like the Headhunters and Kool & The Gang, and still manages to mix it up with lesser-known gems for the record nerds… featuring guest MCs busting over the breaks.” In their review, The Stranger described Vita as “a compulsive scratcher who is inclined to funk and soul beats… Table Manners 2 is like being taken for a wondrous tour through a museum of sounds.” This record is a uniquely rare treasure in the lineage, and everyone should own a copy. It’s a joy from start to finish.

Here’s another take:

Table Manners 2 is a NW classic: One of the few examples of exemplary turntablism to come from Seattle. It’s a Robin Williams-style “come into my mind” for local hip-hop legend Vitamin D. Vitamin invites the listeners to get on a roller coaster full of old soul, jazz, and funk breaks. Table Manners 2 is a history lesson with dozens of classic musical arrangements from every decade flawlessly woven together by a hip-hop-scratching real-live human DJ. Mixed throughout the melodies are several freestyles from local Seattle rappers such as Samson S, B-Self, and the true legend: Wordsayer from Source of Labor. Vitamin has an encyclopedic knowledge of breaks and the history of hip-hop sampling, which makes this record such a fun listen. He knows just which parts of the track to use in order to let the famous sample sneak up on you. If you want to get a picture of what it looks like inside Vitamin D’s head, all you have to do is pick up a copy of Table Manners 2 and you can find out. It’s a pretty cool place. (Written by Novocaine132.)

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Watch Your Words

I’ve been hearing that DJ Shadow is dropping a new record here pretty soon, so I thought I’d post up this 12″, which includes the infamous beef track aimed at Shadow from Seattle’s Samson & Swift. Apparently, Samson took some offense at Shadow’s filler track on Endtroducing “Why hip-hop Sucks In ’96” insinuating that Shadow didn’t know shit about hip-hop and had no right to critique the culture. Actually, the song’s not just aimed at Shadow, but at all those who hated on 206 hip-hop for not sounding like Cali, and those in the game that aren’t “real” – aka players, gangsters, and (really, unfortunately) underground heads (which he portrays as “god damn tree huggers with backpacks”)… Yeah, pretty much dissing his entire fan base right there.

Whatever the reason, Samson & Swift take them all to task with skill. Samson’s robust flow is instantly recognizable from his 22nd Precinct days on the old Seattle comps, and his producer Swift crafts a smooth, mellow Northwest vibe. The B-side, “Help” has that classic Conception sound despite the fact that it’s Swift in the producer’s chair rather than Jake One or Supreme. I actually find myself listening to this song more than “Watch Your Words”, even with the notoriety surrounding the latter.

Back in 1998, I was patiently waiting for the Northwest to get their time in the limelight. Now more than a decade later that time has arrived, but sadly I hear that Samson has retired from the mic. And that is truly a shame. Let’s hope that Shadow’s new release will raise his hackles up enough to step back up where he’d be more than welcome. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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Do The Math

Here’s one of many local archeological gems: Tribal Music’s Do The Math, from 1996, is an appropriate start, with collegiate cover, that is an essential part of any Seattle musical education. Damn is this record great.

This compilation was primarily compiled and produced by Vitamin D. It also features several cuts from his underappreciated supergroup, Ghetto Chilldren. Tribal Music was an important ’90s label that we should thank for cataloging our city’s golden boom-bap era, all those jazz samples and scratching, at a time when Seattle was awash in grunge hangover. Do The Math arrow-points to the origins of our uniquely laid-back upper-left sound, summarizing the underground roots of today’s scene. You can find this record for free on Bandcamp. If you have any interest or involvement in local hip-hop, you owe it to the many Duwamish ghosts to go listen to this today. The cover photo was taken by Diana Adams of Vermillion fame.

Here’s another take:

The giant that all Northwest acts have had to measure up to: The Do The Math compilation. Sounding only marginally more professional than their earlier tapes, the Tribal artists deliver with track after track of murky, jazzidelic perfection. Vitamin D and DJ Topspin are the obvious stars of the show, setting the gray, rainy tone for an expanded array of talent to rhyme over. Phat Mob, Ghetto Children, Sinsemilla, Union of Opposites, and the rest of the Tribal family are joined by such artists as the Silent Lamb’s Silas Blak, Source of Labor’s Wordsayer, and the Elevators’ Specs, rounding out the sound more than on Untranslated Prescriptions. I kid you not; this is a heavy release. To put it into perspective, this is to Seattle what the Project Blowed comp is to LA. (This review originally appeared on the Bring That Beat Back blog and was written by Jack Devo.)

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