Friday, June 26, 2009


Welcome back to the obscurity, where shit's the best! This time we time travel forward to the mid-90s: 1996.

This time I present the SF MC I mentioned in the Cult of Isis post: Bazooka Joe Gotti.
I met Joe thru Jason Slater as well, around the same time he introduced me to Adisa. I always thought he had natural mic skills (no matter what coastal perspective you choose to take) with that wonderful "turf"-ism (for lack of a better term) that stamps it officially as: BAY SHIT, straight up.

Title: Traps of Babylon
Bomb Side:
1. Traps of Babylon
2. Crackhouse
Bay Side
3. Rollin' Psycho
4. Killed From Within

The tape's title song is evidence of Joe's friendship with the Bishop rubbing off. Not to mention Nas' "each block is like a maze" scratched at the end as further proof that SF turf cats have always stayed up on some New York shit. It's a smooth track with a sampled singing chorus where Joe pledges to do better for his son: "So he can grow up, get props and travel on, while I get caught up in the traps of babylon." "Crackhouse" pays homage to the SF turf practice of selling crack and rap tapes out the same location. But, it's not till the Bay Side of the tape that I really start geekin'. "Rollin' Psycho" is certified raw ("Stripes" sample for the win!) and "Killed From Within" gets even more tragic as Joe explores the pitfalls in the game when you got snakes on your team.
I hope the exposure of obscure tapes like this can begin to open the rest of the world's eyes and ears to the fact that Bay Area backpacker underground in the 90s wasn't just the normal five or so mostly East Bay crews (Hiero, Hobo Junction, Sole Sides, Living Legends, PB Wolf [South Bay], etc.) you always hear about. Though I agree they're great, there was a whole lot more shit (especially out of Frisco), that was equally hardcore, NY-influenced and/or break record-based, but still, like I said, "turf-ish" and politically militant (which are the Bay's signatures), without necessarily crossing into the genre that included artists from the heavy-hitting (stereotypically labeled "gangsta" or "mob" music) indy record companys like Sic-Wid-It, In-A-Minute, Dog Day, Young Black Brotha, etc that had already begun to veer more towards keyboard-created funk and R&B-style beats by the time this tape came out. Does that horrible run-on sentence even make sense? It's all dope music; I don't know why I'm trying to categorize. It's actually a testament to just how thick and diverse our scene was back then, and I haven't even mentioned the DJs yet, shit. Me slapping myself: "Stupid human, always trying to break one thing into many parts!"
I think what I'm trying to say is that my favorite mid-to-late-90s underground MCs from the Bay used to bump their hometown Totally Insane "Direct From The Backstreet" tape back-to-back with their Biggie tapes because they pretty much used the same style loops, if not the exact same loops (this is actually a theory of Thuggy Fresh's that has never been explained and proven to me entirely nor soberly), and then kinda became an amalgamation of both styles of rapping, with all the battle shit thrown in too, of course. Aww fuck it, I don't know why I try to explain it, just press play on the dope jams and zone out, that's obviously what I need to do.

P.S. to my Gurp City Rellies: check Joe's use of the term "gurp," way back in '96, yo!

Next up in part 3 of the Trilogy: 1993 Demo with Charizma on production!?!?!? Oh, the obscurity!

1 comment:

The Mayor said...

This shit is serious! Damn what a gem