When FACT first posted published part one of its most overlooked hip-hop LPs of the 90s selection, designed as a jumping-off point for more features of this type, it provoked some interesting conversations in the comments section and across the usual social channels.
After all, what exactly constitutes “underrated” in this day and age? Books like Oliver Wang’s Classic Material: The Hip Hop Album Guide, Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop and Ego Trip’s Book Of Rap Lists are three of the authorities on the subject of what the definitive rap listener experience was back then, but the reality is fundamentally different for every collector now, with oceans of rap to wade through on YouTube, a complex diaspora of hip-hop music from every regional scene in every country in the world.
With the modern dominance of the 808, dancefloors have largely lost touch with the context of what hip-hop once sounded like, specifically the crackle and swing of the boom-bap era, and many of those songs now sound earthy and alien, opaque and distant objects. With consensus a long way off, and hip-hop swarm intelligence only a phonecall away, it seemed logical to reach out to a panel of DJs and producers who draw their energy from that time, who recall it from their youth, from the veterans to the up-and-comers, to ask them what they feel is overlooked, what is worth rediscovering and what merits sharing.
The result is an enjoyable ride through some hazy memories, from the East coast to the Wast and back again, as far north as Canada, and as far afield as France, as told by Kutmah, Mr Thing, Alexander Nut, Paul White, Kidkanevil, Monk One, Laurent Fintoni, Alex Chase, Jon Phonics and myself, Mr Beatnick. For those of you who like your metrics, ’97 and ’95 appear to be the winning years, so maybe ‘93 wasn’t infinity after all.