I may have gone on record here telling those who won’t stop talking about 1993 as the cut off point for great rap to shut up — and I stand by that sentiment — because I loathe the “this is the real hip-hop, not commercial pop bullshit like Drake and Lil Wayne” repetition in the comments of every great rap video as well as cheap promos for the anonymous throwback crap that seems to believe it’s keeping some torch aflame for those who want things to sound like they’re on Grooveattack circa 2001. But I learnt a lot from staring at the fold out covers encased in transparent tape-shaped plastic just over 20 years ago and I’m a fiend when it comes to rap gossip — in fact, gossip far supersedes beatboxing and breakdancing as one of the scene’s key elements. It’s pivotal to skateboarding too, where knowing who dicked over who is some serious message board currency. I’m ravenous for trivia and Brian Coleman’s Check the Technique Volume 2 has a lot of information in it — revelations regarding the real producers of records, beat jacking and beatings abound when it comes to more talkative subjects. I’d never even pondered the genesis of the Beatnuts name, but now I know (though I’d like to have seen them discuss their first album too), that DJ Polo once had 15 prostitutes employed compared to Freddie Foxx’s six and who the girl who enquired as to who the governor of Campania during the Herculonious period was on that Gravediggaz skit. Even in this era of increasingly popular podcasts proving that there a significant market for back in the day tales from cult characters, there’s room for a 500-page book to present it without the small talk — just the facts. Track by track notes are addictive and Coleman’s project seems significantly more likeable than Rap Genius.
It’s been featured here before, but the none-more-early-1990s Funkee Phlavaz cable show that transmitted in the Beverly Hills area has now uploaded been uploaded in its 17-episode entirety. As high school projects go, this one was particularly accomplished and because we’re unlikely to see personal favourites like Y’all So Stupid’s Van Full of Pakistans (also discussed here before) or Illegal’s The Untold Truth explored in a Check the Technique book, both acts on Dallas Austin’s Rowdy label acted as presenters on a 1993 episode of this under seen show — you even get the obscure 85 South promo. Of course, both acts undersold commercially, because there wasn’t room for hyperactive goofs in Vans or murderous kids like there is now. Still, 1993’s idea of poor sales on an album was the kind of numbers that would have an act running to the car showroom in 2014. Ya’ll So Stupid rocked Real tees and dressed in skate gear decades before that seemed to be a thing to do if you weren’t the Beastie Boys or, to some extent, the Pharcyde. The connection between Austin and Andy Howell during their time in Atlanta is documented in the superb Art, Skateboarding and Life, and with Ya’ll So Stupid hailing from that city too and group member H20 working as a designer, the skate connection isn’t too unlikely. Some things are still too geeked-out to get their own chapter in a book.