Whenever the topic of Flint rap comes up, most people act as if the only thing to come out of the 810 area code is gangster/horrorcore rap. The second Flint Episode attempts to correct this by discussing the rap scene in Flint that existed separately from the overabundance of murder murder murder and kill kill kill. And for this Extras post, I have decided to share with you a couple of songs from the Flint rap scene that I was a part of. Tracklist, songs, and more after the jump!
Among the leaders of Flint rap’s loud minority were two MC’s who were regulars at the open mic nights back in 1995-1996: Supreme (pictured above at Kinelos/Beans & Leaves/The Lunch Studio) and Amadeus* (*incorrectly called “Adanya” in the podcast–he goes by Amadeus…sorry K!) They went by the name Illistic Descendent Family at that time, and I was so impressed with them that I just had to get them into the studio at Boomin’ Records to record some songs. They were on that “next level schitt” back then, and they were perfect for what I was attempting to do production-wise. It is important to note that the intro and outro to the song “Move The Battlefield” are taken from actual recordings of the Kinelos nights, with host Rudeboy runnin’ it down the line for the MC’s. Supreme went on to work with Mr. Slate and Stamina, and Amadeus is now a member of the Detroit group Black Lagoon.
Beezy had some really great stories of Tellie Tel (pictured above at Kinelos/Beans & Leaves/The Lunch Studio). Tellie recorded under the name Horeson J.A.E. Here are a couple of his later songs from the early 2000’s. The first song “One Hand (Washes The Other)” was produced by IQ of the Starving Artists Crew, and the second song “Street Lights” was produced by SP of the Starving Artists Crew. These two songs are a little too chill/mellow for his style, but I think they’re dope nonetheless.
Tellie Tel was originally a member of the group “Phunky Lab Munkeez”. The group was headed by DJ Eduardo Scizzahandz (who DJ’d the Kinelos/Beans & Leaves/Lunch Studio nights–you can seem him on the wheels in he picture above), and along with Eduardo’s younger brother Boy Wonder, they released a cassette single in 1997. My favorite song from that cassingle was “Klassic Emcee”. It was recorded at Boomin’ Records, Mr. Slate produced the song, and Boy Wonder kills it with his trademark old school b-boy flow.
The MC that I have spent the most time working with is Brainstorm (pictured above). The first song that I asked him to record for me, “Superfly”, was very experimental (or at least I thought it was back then!). I was tired of all of the gangster rap, and I was also tired of people claimin’ they were “on some next schitt”… when they really weren’t. I took pride in making it my mission to be the antithesis to all of that nonsense. I didn’t want to just say I was “on some next schitt”, I wanted my music to speak for itself and actually BE on the next schitt! So I got rid of the typical song structure, got rid of the typical chorus, used moody violins and orchestral samples, experimented with the layering of music, song texture, beat looping, sound effects, etc. Mr. Slate had the unfortunate pleasure of being assigned to work with me at this time. I wasn’t familiar with the studio equipment at Boomin’ Records, so Mr. Slate had to engineer everything for me. I think he wanted to kill me for making him figure out how to loop that Meter’s/Long Live The Kane beat that way! (Little known fact: Eduardo Scizzahandz did the cuts & scratches at the end of “Superfly”).
On the next song that we recorded, “Shaft”, I wanted to push the envelope even more. Again, no typical song structure or choruses, but this time I had more music/beat changes, more layering of samples, more sound effects, etc. I wanted to clash old school b-boy beats with harder and weirder music loops. I had the idea of making Brainstorm rap syncopated to the guitar and drums at the start, and I had him play around more and try weirder things with his voice (even more so than on “Superfly”). With the exception of the Run-DMC, Skinny Boys, and LL Cool J drum loops, all of the other musical elements came from jazz records (yes, even the hard rock-sounding guitar in the first verse!). In my opinion, the most creative/artistic verse that Brainstorm ever wrote is on the very last verse of this song (the part that starts after Black Sheep’s “doo do doo do, after shock”).
The third song we did, “Gratefull Dead”, was my attempt at making the both of us do a “normal” rap song. Normal song structure, normal chorus, etc., but I still had to mess around a little bit and change the music up near the end. I just couldn’t let a song play all the way through without changing it up somehow. I used to call it my “3rd Verse Theory”. I had this idea that casual listeners and/or people in the audience would typically get bored of a rap song after the 2nd verse… so you would have to change the music up for the 3rd verse in order to keep their attention. I also used to call it my “Band On The Run” style of production, because I always loved how that song (and “Live And Let Die” and “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey“) had so many musical switch-ups and change-ups in it. You never really get bored with those songs because they never stay too long on any one part. So yeah, I always tried to implement the “3rd Verse Theory” and incorporate that style of production into all of my earlier songs.
The early song titles that I had for Brainstorm all had double and/or triple meanings. For example, on the surface, “Superfly” and “Shaft” sounds like they would be typical Flint gangster/pimp rap songs, and “Gratefull Dead” sounds like it would be an ode to Jerry Garcia. I guess that was our way of being artsy and ironic… but by the early 2000’s, we no longer cared about any of that schitt. Hence, the awesomely good song title, “Hip Hop For Dickheads”. This song was produced by Shanrock in the early 2000’s, and it is an absolute classic amongst the peoples in our crew. This is the epitome of what/who Brainstorm is as an MC. The song is part battle rap, part Kool Keith’s odd weirdness, and part R.A. The Rugged Man’s clever/twisted sick sense of humor. There’s so many funny and dope quotables in this song, it’s just ridiculous. This is my favorite Brainstorm song of all time!