Dear Ghostface Killah
A CD playlist for a forgetful emcee
I slept on the couch with my phone so I wouldn’t miss your call last night; woke up at 5 a.m., startled, with deep pillow marks on my face, a stiff neck … and no missed calls. I know you were just in Europe and you’re jet-lagged, red-eyed and grumpy—but how are you supposed to make any money if you skip scheduled interviews for your fans? I guess you can always go back to selling crack and stabbing tourists. Anyway, I hope your tour bus falls into the Grand Canyon.
Well, here are 10 hip-hop albums from Sacramento area artists that will help you become a better person:
Dual Consciousness by Dahlak: This CD recalls the whimsy of De La Soul, the relevance of Common and he even hints at full-scale rebellion à la Tupac. Songs like “Move” carry beats that are carefully orchestrated and string-heavy and are the perfect backdrop for this emcee’s ultrasmooth flow.
Still Life by Live Manikins: A near-flawless release from one of the most charismatic hip-hop groups since Digital Underground. Runt Rock’s musical knowledge combined with DJ Rated R’s absolute precision and the smooth verbalism of emcees Flavius, Self and Linguistics, deem Live Manikins a crew of fascinating hip-hop musicians.
Brutally Honest by Random Abiladeze: This poet, scholar and teacher is part Rakim, part Kool G. Rap and part Cornel West. His rapid-fire delivery compliments complex beats by Resinate and DJ Crispix, while he spreads a message of self-betterment through knowledge.
Veteran Status by C-Dubb: This dude’s flow is so aggressive that he nearly jumps out of the speakers and strangles you. C-Dubb raps disgustingly well over really dirty beats, which is why “Smashin’” featuring Keak Da Sneak is a brilliant pairing of emcees who are both on the same grimy path. “That’s how we roll in northern Cali, mayn.”
For What it’s Worth by Poor: This will go down as one of the most underrated Sacramento releases of all time. Poor (Tribe of Levi) has a Pharcydesque delivery, yet his rhymes are uniquely poignant, organic and tonally varied. And “Dark Blue” is one beautiful, beautiful song.
Sole Expression by Agustus thElefant—Just how laid-back can one guy get? Rather than using his voice as a thing to rap with, Agustus uses his words as a collective instrument, which makes songs like “Ol Skool” so engaging, boisterous and full of life.
The Children of Hope by Crazy Ballhead: A truly rootsy storybook of an album, complete with a reading from Crazy B’s mother, a snippet of a young Crazy B and some seriously heartfelt, clean tracks by this Sacramento legend.
A Blind Man’s Dream (Pt. II “The Last Landmine”) by Plush Lush: All that really needs to be said is that Plush Lush raps the lyrics to Allen Ginsberg’s “Rama Setu (Adam’s Bridge).” He’s a poet who translates moods, from anger to complete joy, into awe-inspiring, genre-crossing music.
Plan, Plot & Strategize by Kilo Kapanel: Even if thugishness isn’t your thing, you can’t ignore it because we’re in Sacramento, the city of mobb music. In the tradition of C-Bo and X-Raided, Kilo Kapanel’s latest album is full of stripped-down, synth-heavy beats. And “Hustle That Work” is one of the catchiest, most sinister tracks to come out of Sac this year.
The Real Sac Kingz Mixtape Vol. I by various artists: Producer 26hrz rounded up dozens of emcees to craft this perfect musical backdrop for our Sacramento landscape. Dark tracks that utilize interesting, quirky sounds are paired with confident emcees who rap fascinating a-day-in-the-life stories, creating a varied album full of charisma, character and full-on swagger.