A new series is upon us, inspired by my ever growing record collection. I have spent thousands of dollars on physical hip hop albums and singles in the form of CD’s, cassettes, and vinyl. I am spoiled by the amount of record stores that are still in business around the city, especially since they are all accessible by the L. Reckless Records is the only chain in Chicago, and have the best prices and stock you’ll find in the city. One of the stores recently moved into a building that takes 5 minutes for me to walk to and, as you can imagine, my obsession has now grown to new heights.
In order to get groceries, have an apartment, and live a normal life, I’ve had to buy cheaper records. All signs pointed to buying 12 inches which are, in theory, one record that has an a-side and b-side. The a-side is usually the promoted single released before the artist drops his album. The a-side also has the dirty (or album) version, the clean version, and the instrumental (but can vary.) The b-side can have anything from the remix, another track from the album, a track exclusive to the 12 inch, or bonus beats.
I’m a total nerd when it comes to hip hop 12 inches, and have accumulated a large amount spanning from the early 80’s to this year. I will be sharing my collection one record at a time through writing, analysis, photos, and audio streams. I’m excited to share the first post of the series, and hope you enjoy it too!
The AB’s are a Jacksonville hip hop quartet made up of Willie Evans Jr. DJ Therapy, Ja-One-Da and Basic. Patent Locke relocated to Jacksonville from Chicago and immediately heard about Willie Evans JR, a buzzing producer in the area. At the time Willie was working on his second project, but when he met Patent Locke he grabbed his roommates DJ Therapy and Ja-One-Da to loosely record with them. The more music they made, the more in synch they became, and as such, set out to record a full project.
6 Hole Records, founded by the Baseball Player Desmond “Desi” Lamont Relaford, heard a few of the 12 inches they put out from 2002-2005, and decided to sign them to his label. The group now had solid promotion, marketing, distribution, and more money to record their album.
Their debut LP And Now… dropped in audio form in 2005 and recieved serious coverage from well known hip hop outlets. Their sound was rooted in eccentric boom bap production, lyricism, and playfulness. The group began to tour around the country, but ran into some problems. Hip Hop heads in Florida didn’t know how to respond to their music and east coast and midwesterners thought they were biting their sound. Luckily, the west coast supported their shows, most likely because they were the underdogs in the 80’s.
At the height of their careers, a cease-and-desist order came from science fiction author Isaac Asimov which not only stalled their new retail orders for And Now…, but also forced the group to officially change their moniker to The AB’s (The Alias Brothers). In response, they dropped The Boombox/Real Good 12 inch (below) while Desi found a way to distribute the physical copies.
The a-side is 3 tracks long, featuring the excellent single ‘Boombox’ in 3 formats: the clean version, the dirty version (which still bleeps out some words) and the piano laced drum heavy instrumental by DJ Therapy. Their rhymes are introspective, eccentric, and full of tongue twisting lyrics and pass the mic sequencing. Each member’s unique voice shouts the chorus in unison.
The b-side is also 3 tracks long, featuring the clean version of ‘Feel Good’ along with some bonus beats. Both are produced by 9th Wonder. At the time, 9th Wonder was a label mate and in house producer for the group. He first appeared on 6 Hole Record’s L.E.G.A.C.Y./The Away Team/9th Wonder limited edition 3CD boxset. His demo version of The Dream Merchant Volume 1 took up all of CD #3. This is a very rare compilation, so if you ever come across it, cop if you can. 9th also dropped The Dream Merchant Vol. 2 on the label.
The 3rd track is the 12 inch exclusive release of ‘Friends’ produced by Willie Evans Jr. The instrumental is ominous, funky, AND full of soul samples. The beat is complex and daring, but the rapping is unfortunately subpar at best.
Note: Boombox, Feel Good, and Friends appear on And Now…
After their debut dropped in full, Willie shifted his focus to his solo album, while Paten released his side project the Smile Rays. Basic and J-One-Da joined forces to launch their b-boy-centric Bofresco clothing line. The dynamic that made the group so successful changed once they reconvened for their second album. Although 6 tracks were recorded, they went their separate ways. They are still the bests of friends, and continue to record music.