Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

hip hop

Insane Clown Posse – Flip The Rat (2019)

ICP are another one of those bands where the “side” releases are just as good – or in this case – better than the main studio albums. It’s easy to overlook these so-called “sideshow” releases, especially with the focus on the whole Joker’s Card saga. Flip The Rat is the accompanying EP (at nearly an hour long lol) to the Fearless Fred Fury era, and is a refreshing beacon of decent fucking music in the sea of mediocrity that is the “second deck” of ICP’s career. Flip The Rat at the very least actually sounds like a horrorcore record and is a perfect companion to the Fearless Fred Fury album. If you find the second deck a bit lacking then don’t miss this one, it’s easily one of the better releases from the period.

Insane Clown Posse – The Marvellous Missing Link: Found (2015)

Well, if you thought the “Lost” version of Missing Link was poor, then boy are you in for a treat here. By far the worst ICP full length since The Tempest, “Found” is a listless, mind-numbingly bland set of songs that offer next to nothing to the ongoing Dark Carnival ethos. It feels like an album for an album’s sake, and no amount of modern production is going to change that. Honestly, you could probably take the best tracks off both “Lost” and “Found” and still have a fairly poor release.

Insane Clown Posse – The Marvellous Missing Link: Lost (2015)

It felt like the first of the two Missing Link albums was off to a strong start, with tracks like “Shock” or “Apocalypse” (the latter being the very definition of a deep cut!), but unfortunately it quickly falls to the wayside with what seems like consistently rehashed content. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting ICP to go off on a whole other thing this far into their career but stuff like “Confederate Flag” (“Rebel Flag”?) and “Vomit” (insert literally anything off Hell’s Pit) are basically just the same songs from before but done again with more boring, middle of the road production. Unfortunately, this ocean of boredom makes Missing Link: Lost one of the weakest entries not only in the second deck but the whole ICP catalog.

Overmono & The Streets – Turn The Page (2024)

Seemingly pointless reworking of the original (pirate material lol!) classic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves. Does it need to serve a purpose? Dunno. I’m not going to get philosophical about it. It would be really cool to get more tracks from the first album reimagined like this, but on its own its ability to impress is limited.

Insane Clown Posse – The Mighty Death Pop (2012)

I was surprised by how good some of the songs were on The Mighty Death Pop. Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a lot of shit floating around on this here disc, but damn I cannot deny that the title track or “The Blasta” or “Bazooka Joey” are fucking excellent. I also can’t speak for the bonus discs including the covers disc because that shit is just too awful for me to sit through, but as far as the main album goes, I’ll fuck with this, for sure. TMDP has a strong, bold production, with a nice ratio of proper hip hop beats (instead of crappy rap rock tracks, but these are still here even if in fewer numbers).

Insane Clown Posse – Lich Mich Im Arsch (2011)

“Leck Mich Im Arsch” is a mess, I’ll be honest. Nothing about it works, at all. The musical styles are a complete mismatch, and ICP’s lyrics are probably the best thing about it all. “Mountain Girl” on the flipside is appalling, a second-rate continuation of the same-old same-old shit you got on “Redneck Ho” and “Chicken Huntin’”. Aside from the novelty that this was produced by Jack White (like…what? lmao), this is mid ICP at best.

Six9ine – Dummy Boy (2018)

Six9ine – Dummy Boy (2018)

I checked this album out due to pure morbid curiosity rather than anything else, and I’ve got to say, it’s not as bad as it’s made out to be. Is it the kind of hip hop that I like to listen to? Absolutely not. The production is hideous, IMO. Well crafted, but hideous. That being said, I’m more impressed by 69’s verses than I ever expected to be, and some of the guest spots (including Nicki Minaj) are pretty dope too. Falls off a bit in the second half for sure, but this one surprised me, I won’t lie.

Dr. Dre – Compton (2015)

Dr. Dre – Compton (2015)

It is truly difficult for me to comprehend how much of a failure Compton was. I mean, I’m not alone in this line of thinking but it is not a universally held opinion. In fact, I should instead be writing about my surprise at how well this record has been received over the years. With both The Chronic and Chronic 2001 being up there in my favourite rap albums of all time, upon release I was crushed by the sheer mediocrity of Compton. Bullshit trappy production and crooning morons drenched in autotune. A sign of the times perhaps, but an aural experience that made want to vomit up several of my own organs. Upon returning to this almost a decade later, I can appreciate what Dre was going for, but it’s still a colossal shower of shit, in my book. The good Dr’s verses are (oddly) some of his best from any album, but this bizarre anomaly does not save the rest of the record. As lush as the production is, all it does is prop up a bunch of silly fucking wankers slathering their bars in fucking autotune. I cannot abide it, my friends. I cannot. Oh, and if you thought Chronic 2001 had a silly amount of guest spots, Compton takes the absolute fucking piss. It is very easy to forget that this is even a Dr. Dre album. There is absolutely nothing memorable or stand-out in regards to his signature production style. It is, quite simply, shite. I appreciate this is an “old man shouts at cloud” style of review, and some contributors bring some excellent bars, but bars save not a whole album. Get to fuck with this weak shite.

Esham – A-1 Yola (2005)

Esham – A-1 Yola (2005)

A1 Yola starts strong, but I lose my way as the record goes on, which is a recurring theme with Esham records of this era. That being said, I feel like Esham is more confident on this record than his previous two, the whole vibe seems different and whilst the production is firmly in “later” territory, some of the songs are fucking great. We also get some dirty synths, bass lines and beats bubbling up here or there too, just like old times. All in all, this is a solid record from Esham but it will never top the old wicket shit, I’m sorry.

Three-6 Mafia – Mystic Stylez (1995)

Three-6 Mafia – Mystic Stylez (1995)

Everything about this thing is basically a laundry list of what I look for in hip hop. Something however, is just not fully landing with me. It might be the length (oo er), or the general pace of the tracks being a real “creep slow” agenda – which is fine, but for every song on a 70+ minute album, well it can be a bit much. Anyway, this shit fucking rules, that aside. The production is just too fucking good. Makes me wanna wrap a blunt and I haven’t smoked in like 7 years. All the MCs are also very entertaining. Good shit.

Insane Clown Posse – Bang! Pow! Boom! (2009)

Insane Clown Posse – Bang! Pow! Boom! (2009)

Despite having well and truly checked out of the Dark Carnival / ICP world by the time this dropped, upon returning for a re-listen I am surprised by how entertaining this actually is. Let’s get the brass tacks in place: this (and any of the other cards in the second deck) are never gonna be as good as anything in the first deck. ICP made a conscious decision, Mike E Clark or no, to go in a different direction than the hip hop focussed sound they purveyed in the 90s. And yes, that has resulted in some absolute stinkers for albums, but Bang! Pow! Boom! is not one of them.

Eminem – Infinite (1996)

Eminem – Infinite (1996)

It’s cool to look right back to independent Em before he blew up, before he was Dre’s bitch and was before he was playing in every suburban white kid’s home in the western world. Infinite, as oddly-titled as it may be, is a slice of mysery of the daily life of a poor white guy in Detroit. Even with the Bass bros onboard even at this early stage, and with Proof (RIP) and Denaun helping with production, Infinite is fairly raw and also pretty depressing. Some of this “broke ass” prose makes its way into Slimy Shady LP, but its far more prelevant here. Nevertheless, you can see the talent that Em has, even if a lot of the rhymes here really don’t seem to be in his style. We all know he found his groove fairly quickly after this though, and superstardom was on the cards.

Brotha Lynch Hung – 24 Deep (1993)

Brotha Lynch Hung – 24 Deep (1993)

Gotta love the mix of smoooooooth gangsta rap compositions and sick as fuck horrorcore lyrics. Brother Lynch was truly a pioneer of the horrorcore style, at least in the dark and disgusting lyrical content. Content varies from the usual gangsta fare but dialled up to 11, through to mad shit like cannibalism, which feels like it comes waaay out of left-field with the gangsta rap beats that are carrying this thing. So bizarre! Esham might have perfected the “wicked shit” sound, but Brother right here got the sickness right down underneath the smoothness of his rhymes.

Insane Clown Posse – The Wraith: Shangri-La (2002)

Insane Clown Posse – The Wraith: Shangri-La (2002)

Due to the period of time in which this came out I probably look at it with rose-tinted glasses. I LOVED this things when I was a teenager, to the point where I got it tattooed (under age, I might add) – just another one of a long line of silly decisions that I’ve made over the last 30+ years. If I am being honest with myself though, The Wraith is not as good as I have preserved it to be in my head due to my previous attachment to it. After the 5th Joker’s Card and Bizarre / Bizaar double album both landing on deaf ears for me, The Wraith should have also been a stinker. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite unfamiliar production (gone is Mike E Clark) and a leaning towards irritating rap/rock styles, most of the songs on The Wraith do land, if sometimes a bit clumsily. I expected a bit more cohesity on the album that promised “once all six have risen then the end of time will consume us all”, and whilst we did some some heavy bombs dropped at the end of the record, The Wraith is for the most part pretty fun and light-hearted. The opening tracks, “Hell’s Forecast” and the closing 4 tracks are probably my favourite, although I gotta be honest, “Homies” is a bop.

Esham – Repentance (2003)

Esham – Repentance (2003)

Repentance comes on initially like a Tongues Part 2, but repeat listens indicate a slight maturing in this style of songwriting, as well as in the production style. Pretty sure Esham was on Psychopathic at this time, so the production fits right in with other records from their roster released during this time. Also, there’s some great features here from ICP, Twiztid, TNT (from Natas) and Bone Thugs.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 4 (2005)

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 4 (2005)

FF4 was the first (and last) FF CD that I ever bought in person. My version came with, if I recall, a scented Hallowicked CD, which I’ll review separately (there are a few remixes / featuring tracks that are seemingly unique to this version of Hallowicked however). I remember thinking that Forgotten Freshness Vol. 4 was straight bullshit at the time. I had already heard tracks on Shaggy’s solo album, or on the Wraith remix albums, and to see them recycled here, along with a bunch of half-assed b-sides, was initially incredibly disappointing. Taking the releases chronologically however, all these years later, I can appreciate FF4 as being significantly stronger than it’s predecessor.  There are some absolute fucking STINKERS on this thing but let’s focus on some of the total BANGERS that help even it out. “Clown Walk” has some wicked production and the left over from Hell’s Pit (“Body’s Fly”) is a brilliant song from this era. In fact, I think this era of ICP is probably my favourite outside of the early CoC/Ringmaster days. “Nobody Moves” with Mack 10 is great as is the track that features Tech N9ne. 4 songs, as good as they are, do not make an album however, so therefore I must score this low due to the insane amount of awful filler.  I do not have high hopes for FF5 lol

Immortal Technique – Revolutionary Vol. 2 (2003)

Immortal Technique – Revolutionary Vol. 2 (2003)

Immortal Tech is second to none if you are into that conscious / political flow. There’s even a few zingers in here where Tech drops the seriousness and just has fun (imagine that!) such as the excellent and entertaining “Obnoxious”. Vol. 2 however is a step down from Vol. 1 in regards to the production, which is beefier but the sounds on display are not as hard hitting or aggressive, which I find does the tracks a disservice, to be honest. This trajectory would only continue into The 3rd World, which cements my feelings. Generally though, it’s not as groundbreaking as Vol. 1 but it’s still a great record.

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Well Done (2011)

Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Well Done (2011)

Solid album with confident, clever flows from Action Bronson. I gotta be in the mood for this guy but it really scratches the itch when nothing else can. There are certainly more “independent” sounding releases in Bronson’s catalogue, not that Well Done sounds particularily generic, but it does have a very, how can I say, “New York” sound. Easy comparisons can be made to Ghostface Killa or even MF DOOM what with all the food references but I do genuinely believe he stands alone / unique, and instantly recognisable.

D12 – D12 World (2004)

D12 – D12 World (2004)

For the last twenty years I have dismissed this album as being not worth my time, but on a recent hip hop binge I revisited it once more and well, to be honest, I don’t know what the fuck was wrong me. I think, if anything, I’ve just not really paid proper attention to the rhymes. On top of that, the production is not as hard-hitting as their debut, which was really cold and unique. Annnnd on top of that, I absolutely fucking hated the lead single, “My Band”, when it came out. I wasn’t super fussed on “How Come” either. The whole thing just smacked of what Em was doing with Encore around the same time and I guess I just switched off. The reality however, is that D12 are as good as ever. Adjusting to the different production, these guys are just as good as they have ever been and they all bring something fresh to the table and vibe off each other. Other than the big singles and a few other key moments, Em doesn’t show up all that often, which gives the others the room to spit that they deserve. But yeah, I’m not saying that this is some slept on sleeper hit that everyone is missing out on, but it’s a damnsight better than I ever it remember it being.

Busdriver – Temporary Forever (2002)

Busdriver – Temporary Forever (2002)

This shit slaps. It was slap even harder however, if Busdriver spent less time trying to sound clever and more time on constructing worthwhile, long-lasting songs. Instead we get a blurry, top-speed barrage of flows that are all loosely held together. Which is fine, because it’s impressive as fuck, but mans right here is basically the rap equivelent of Dream Theatre or some such music wankery. The production is great and the songs are great when they land, which is about 50% of the time. If Busdriver got his head out of his ass, then I’m sure this percentage would only rise. Oh, and the recordings of him freestyling to unsuspecting food service workers at drive-thrus is so cringe that I almost turned off the record.

Bizarre – Attack Of The Weirdos (1998)

Bizarre – Attack Of The Weirdos (1998)

Attack Of The Weirdos got that perfect hardcore 90s production and feel to it, coupled with Bizarre mad rhymes (which are here in their infancy but still great) and some amazing guest spots and you’ve got a winner of an EP. This isn’t gonna win any awards or smash any records but all in all it’s a solid debut EP with some hilarious tunes on it.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 3 (2001)

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 3 (2001)

The tracks on this one should have been left on the chopping room floor. Forgotten Staleness Vol 3 sounds like 80% outtakes from The Amazing Jeckel Brothers (an album which draaaagged anyway) and 20% featuring cuts that are worth checking out for the novelty. The album’s high point is the Mix-a-lot remix / cover song “Posse On Vernor”, which is by far the best song. The Eminem diss is pretty funny, but is also pretty weak tbh.  Do it on my lip like a milk ad!

Natas – Multikillionaire: The Devil’s Contract (1997)

Natas – Multikillionaire: The Devil’s Contract (1997)

For when you run out of old school wicked shit acid rap era Esham to listen to, there’s always a gang of fuckin’ Natas records for you to fall back on. Multikillionaire is not a far cry from a regular Esham record, with The Bogeyman on production duty (and we all love Esham’s production, right?), and taking up a good 40/50% of the verses here too. TNT is on point too, the only thing really dragging Natas down in quality is Mastamind (unless I got TNT and Mastamind mixed up). I don’t want to speak ill of the dead but he’s not quite on the same level as Esham and TNT. Don’t me wrong, I’d still listen to a Mastamind LP any day of the week, but he’s the obvious weakest link here. That’s a small complaint though, in reality. This is some great old school “horrorcore” shit.

Butcher’s Harem – Snuff Porn Gore (2011)

Butcher’s Harem – Snuff Porn Gore (2011)

Not gonna lie, I usually enjoy the wicked, disgusting end of horrorcore more when it has less of a polished sound and more of a janky, fucked up production. Snuff Porn Gore, as uninspiring a title as that is, is a nice exception. This is THE Billy Big Bollocks of the horrorcore world, especially in the circles of MC Bushpig and the extended cast of the Harem / Suicide Rap Orgy. It’s extra layers of polish and hard-hitting production do not detract in any way from the filth, grime and utter revolting disgust one should expect from a record such as this. In fact, it puts those grisly parts under a microscope with a clearer lense – I can understand half of the shit these guys are saying now LOL! And trust me, it’s fucking rancid. Some of the extended artwork for this thing is pretty wild – I think it would have been better as the true front cover (proceed at your own risk!)

MC Bushpig & MC Mule – Tape 1 (2003)

MC Bushpig & MC Mule – Tape 1 (2003)

Well, this is an interesting listen, even for those who may be already versed in the world of MC Bushpig or the Suicide Rap Orgy. Weird, angular, and downright obstructive beats and backing tracks are the order of the day, and the vocals are more amateurish than the other releases, especially from MC Mule, but it’s quick to adjust to the vibe and roll with. Tape 1 is worth listening to for the production alone, even if this kind of “horrorcore” is not your bag. The beats on this are so fucking wicked and twisted and garbled and fucked up, it really fucking rules.

N.O.D. – Niggaz Of Destruction (1996)

N.O.D. – Niggaz Of Destruction (1996)

Sick, deep fried, southern rap with insane, chunky production drenched in tape hiss and dank samples, all laid underneath a variety of MCs spitting all sorts of nasty shit. I guess on first impressions it was like a Memphis version of the Wu Tang Clan’s first album, but that would be a fairly cheap comparison. If you’re into the darker side of hip hop this is a gem shining in the darkness.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien – I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991)

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien – I Wish My Brother George Was Here (1991)

Solid as fuck debut from one of the best MCs on the planet. I don’t know why but Del never really reached superstardom, because this guy has such a strong flow and such great charisma. The subject matter is a bit clumsy in places on this debut, but the production is fantastic (if not a product of its time, in all fairness). Highlights have gotta be “Pissin’ On Your Steps” and “Sleepin’ On My Couch”.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 1 (1995)

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Vol. 1 (1995)

Wasn’t the biggest fan of the second disc so figured I’d come back and talk about the first disc because it’s also listed as a separate entry. This is a good thing, for sure. The tracks on disc one are much better – all that old school Detroit smog shit. I know I use that “Detroit smog” descriptor a lot when talking about ICP but its the best way for me to describe that style of production that they had between Carnival of Carnage up to and just before Riddlebox. There’s some classic old school cuts here too, but also some total fuckin’ stinkers that should have stayed on the cutting room floor, such as “Willy Bubba”.

Sir Mix-A-Lot – Swass (1988)

Sir Mix-A-Lot – Swass (1988)

Mans got a way with the drum machine, I’ll give him that. And the flows are really cool. Like, proper old school 80s hip hop sound. Despite this the mix sounds kinda hollow and devoid of bass, with the focus instead directly onto the beats (“Mall Dropper” slaps though). This works in many ways but also leaves the “stage” really sparse and empty in between verses sometimes, which gives the record an odd, unfinished feel. I know this is part of the style (at the time!), so I can let it slide, for sure. Also mad as fuck to hear the title track having only heard the Pussycat Dolls’ “version” of it first. That blew my mind. Also also mad as fuck that Terry Date is the engineer on this thing. How do you get from mixing this to mixing awful nu metal? Haha!

Insane Clown Posse – Tunnel Of Love (1996)

Insane Clown Posse – Tunnel Of Love (1996)

Tunnel Of Love is silly as fuck but hey, it’s ICP we are talking about here. Considering songs like “Lil Somethin’ Somethin’” from the same kind of era aren’t very good, so facing a whole EP of “love” (read: fucking) tracks, on paper at least, didn’t seem like the best idea. Tunnel Of Love is a quality slice of wicked shit however, from the world famous (lol) opening track, the hilarious “Super Balls”, to deeper cuts like “Stomp”, Tunnel Of Love has a bit of everything, all held together by a backbone of old school Detroit smog production by the one, the only, Mike E Clark. Forkses up, forkses down, ninja.

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko (1997)

Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko (1997)

I listened the ever-living fuck out of this album when I was a teenager. The Wraith and Great Milenko were my introduction to ICP, and whilst I worked backwards and preferred the older Joker Cards, Great Milenko will always hold a special place with me for reigniting my interest in the band. I can remember it now, as clear as day, my girlfriend sent me an .mp3 of “Halls Of Illusions” via MSN Messenger and I was instantly hooked. I had seen ICP on the wrasslin’ when I was a little kid, and the theme they did for the Oddities was on the PlayStation game WWF Attitude. I fuckin’ loved that game, and my custom-made wrassler, Banzai, had “The Greatest Show” as his theme music. It had never occurred to me that the ICP was a band, nor that the Oddities theme was composed by anyone other than some heads over at the WWF music dept. – so when I found out that there was a WHOLE fucking album of music like that, I went bezerk. After hearing “Halls Of Illusions” for the first time that one night on MSN Messenger, that was it. I bought this CD the next time I was at a record store, and the rest is history. I wouldn’t call myself a juggalo to be honest, as in, I’m not dedicated enough to that lifestyle at all, and my real love lies deep in grindcore, death metal etc., rather than hip hop, but man I fuckin’ loved this band. The zany lyrics (“I’m Violent J and I’m back like a vertabrae” is a 10/10 line, fight me) and dirty carnie beats won me over immediately. I’m probably biased but I would still genuienly say this is probably the best place to start with ICP, if you’re looking for an in-road.

Insane Clown Posse – Eye Of The Storm (2007)

Insane Clown Posse – Eye Of The Storm (2007)

Another massively “meh” release from the Tempest era, which is unsurprising, all things considered. I would have to say in the case of Eye Of The Storm, it is the over-reliance on a rock/metal production to the tracks, which I’ve never really thought ICP is any good at. The production is pretty good though, so it gets middle marks. I cannot think of a single reason to pick this up and ever listen to it again.

Shaggy 2 Dope – Fuck Off (1994)

Shaggy 2 Dope – Fuck Off (1994)

Short, sweet but mostly pointless solo EP from Shaggy 2 Dope. I say pointless because J is on these tracks too and the whole thing is produced by Mike E Clark, so you might as well as slapped a fuckin ICP logo on this thing and be done with it. In fact, track 4 “Three Rings” ends up on Riddle Box anyways (with slightly different lyrics). I’m not complaining though, whatever name it’s under this shit fuckin slaps hard. Got that wicked Detroit smog old school Ringmaster / Terror Wheel style hard beats and production, and Shaggy’s lyrics are hilarious. A classic from the clowns, for sure.

Run The Jewels – RTJ4 (2020)

Run The Jewels – RTJ4 (2020)

A shining example of fantastic modern hip hop. Four albums deep and I’m starting to crave a little bit more variety from RTJ’s sound but you can’t argue with those insane beats (seriously, so so good and with pristine production) and excellent flows. A confident effort from a band that know they are at the top of their game.

Insane Clown Posse – The Tempest (2007)

Insane Clown Posse – The Tempest (2007)

Free from the Joker’s Card legacy, ICP was rudderless and without direction. Let’s just be honest; that’s how it was. Or, at least, that’s how it seemed at the time. I loved both Wraith albums as a teenager. I thought both of them were fantastic for completely different reasons. But when The Calm dropped, I was bored to tears. And then, The Tempest came a few years later and I could not have been more bored and disinterested. It was like ICP with the soul sucked out of it.  Recently I have relistened to this period of the band, which is arguably fully responsible for me falling off of ICP for over a decade. Whilst The Calm held up pretty well in retrospect, The Tempest does not. The Tempest is bloated, directionless and well, boring. Which sucks ass because the production on this thing is huge. I’m not sure where Mike E Clark ends and Fritz The Cat begins, or where the overlap lies, but there’s an extra sting in the tail when there’s so much talent and expertise stacked up behind an album that just fucking sucks. There are exceptions of course, “News at 6 O’Clock”, “The Tower” and “Mexico City” are pretty cool, but as a whole, this album blows.

Ghostface Killah – Ironman (1996)

Ghostface Killah – Ironman (1996)

Like most early Wu Tang solo efforts, Ironman is more like an extension of the 36 Chambers early 90s freshness, with a ton of the MCs from the main release showing up here like they do across a gamut of different releases. Like, Raekwon and fucking Cappadonna appear on almost every single track as well as the cover art haha – Throw in that trademark RZA production and you’re onto a winner, of course. Essential for the fans of Wu Tang (you don’t need me to tell you that), but probably just a solid rap record to everyone else.

Inner City Posse – Intelligence & Violence (1990)

Inner City Posse – Intelligence & Violence (1990)

This doesn’t sound anywhere near as bad as you’d think it would. To be honest, calling this an ICP release is really a stretch. I understand why it gets labelled as such, with the ICP gang existing a good while before ICP the musical project, but in J’s book he seems to make it out like this “Intelligence & Violence” project with D-Lyrical was something else entirely that pre-dated ICP. I guess he could be playing it down to fit a certain narrative, but both John KJ and Shaggy 2 Dope – the other original ICP members – are not present here either. Quality wise, this isn’t a million miles away from Basement Cuts. D-Lyrical barely pops his head up all that often, with J just rolling over the whole album. His raps are of varied quality; in some cases you can really feel the foundations for stuff like Carnival Of Carnage, in other cases the rhymes and/or flow are a bit shaky. But hey, this is really, really early days, so I can’t fault him for that.

Die Antwoord – $O$ (2009)

Die Antwoord – $O$ (2009)

Die Antwoord has always been a guilty pleasure. Their legacy perhaps hasn’t aged that well, but when I first heard SOS (it was “Enter The Ninja” playing over the stereo in a bar in Amsterdam) I had never heard anything quite like it. The rapping is objectively terrible but it’s also very entertaining, the production is great and well, I fell in love with Yolandi Visser for a short while in 2010. Just being real with you, I guess. Can’t say I loved everything they did but the first album is still cool to me.

Insane Clown Posse – Mutilation Mix (1997)

Insane Clown Posse – Mutilation Mix (1997)

Judging by the cover art this is a cheap cash-in “best of” that was supposed to collate some of ICP’s older stuff in one place for people new to the band with The Great Milenko. But don’t let the crappy cover art fool you. This is a great mix of old shit. A lot of the songs are cut down too, giving this record the vibe of an extended live set. I’m usually a guy who prefers songs in their original format / style / edit, but if you’ve heard the classic ICP stuff a million times this can be a good way to have a fresh rollercoaster ride through some of the highlights. My only complaint is that “Southwest Song” (arguably one of the group’s best cuts) is cut down to just one verse (as is “Wizard Of The Hood”) making the inclusion absolutely pointless. The telephone skits that punctuate the record are always very entertaining. All in all, a good release IMO. I’m about to bounce, I’ll see you round like a donut.

Dälek – Gutter Tactics (2009)

Dälek – Gutter Tactics (2009)

Interesting mix of styles that should be absolutely mind blowing but unfortunately falls a bit flat due to the production / instrument mix. Expect conscious rhymes over a variety of dirging, droning, apocalyptic soundscapes. On paper, this is far ahead of its time, but just misses the mark, sadly.

Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun (2011)

Kode9 & The Spaceape – Black Sun (2011)

Part a typical Hyperdub conscious electronic music masterpiece, partly a garage / hiphop work of art. Love the dichotomy between the two styles, which can often go hand in hand but seem to work as separate elements here rather than harmonizing together in unison. And that’s OK, honestly. Also, as an aside, and I think this is true of many Hyperdub releases in general, this works so much better when being listened to at 3am!

Insane Clown Posse – The Calm (2005)

Insane Clown Posse – The Calm (2005)

I remember when The Calm first came out. After the double barrel of both Wraith albums, and what seemed to be the wrapping up of the whole Joker Card saga, The Calm seemed directionless. It was for the same reason that I disliked Bizzar and Bizaar; ICP without the dark carnival mythos was just hollow for me. Granted, I’m not a teenager anymore so in my 30s I can return to this EP and enjoy it for what it is: that being 8 tracks of quality juggalo hip hop. Nothing ground breaking for sure, but with Fritz The Cat behind the deck and Esham doing guesties on the hilarious “Deadbeat Moms” you could do far worse than The Calm.

Flowdan – Serious Business (2014)

Flowdan – Serious Business (2014)

I’m not gonna lie to you, this shit is well outside of my wheelhouse. I only know Flowdan from his tracks with The Bug but damn his delivery is infectious, even though I’m not the biggest fan of grime (perhaps I’ve just not heard the right stuff). Either way, Serious Business is a solid 4 track EP and a great way to get into Flowdan’s solo stuff. “Ambush” and “Fuck About” are my favourite tracks here.

Ouija Macc – Dirtbag (2021)

Ouija Macc – Dirtbag (2021)

Better than the old shit, with the production being the highlight of the record (not sure if all of it is by Devereaux (sp?) but it’s really good work). But yeah, Ouija Macc clearly isn’t for me and to be completely honest this record is an embodiment of absolutely everything that I hate about rap, so I’m in no position to really objectively review this. It’s awful in my eyes, that’s all I can really say.

Ouija Macc – Trashfire (2017)

Ouija Macc – Trashfire (2017)

Checked out Ouijja Macc after the 3 Headed Monster albums with Violent J and Esham. It’s cool as fuck they brought him in and it did take me a while to warm to his voice but I really got into it by the time I was done with the first 3HM album. Unfortunately, I decided to start at the beginning and the title of this record says it all. I’m not just gonna sit here and talk shit about this guy but this record is just absolutely terrible. I’ll leave it at that.

3 Headed Monster – Rampage (2023)

3 Headed Monster – Rampage (2023)

This sounds almost identical to the previous 3HM album, to the point where I’m not even sure if it was from the exact same studio session. Some proper Load and ReLoad ass shit going down here. Like its predecessor, Obliteration, Rampage is firing on all cylinders about 60% of the time, with the rest being pointless, repetitive filler. There’s a moment or two where Ouija Macc gets given the space to shine but for the most part, they could have easily trimmed about half of the shit off of both of 2023’s albums and released one single record that TRULY reignited the fire for modern day wicked shit / horrorcore. Sadly the same quantity over quality model applied to most if not all self-released Psychopathic Records releases applies here to 3HM. Don’t get me wrong, this is some good shit, but a little quality control would go a long way in turning this project from good to great.

3 Headed Monster – Obliteration (2023)

3 Headed Monster – Obliteration (2023)

Heard about this collab on some recent interviews with Violent J but with everything Psychopathic you gotta go in with tempered expectations because it could very easily be a complete bag of shit. Thankfully, the first 3HM record has more bangers than stinkers, but still boasts a cache of frankly pointless tunes to bloat out its runtime, which, honestly, doesn’t outstay its welcome for once. The concept is great, the production is fantastic, and (I mean no disrespect here) whilst age has perhaps not been so kind to Esham’s voice, Violent J sounds great all gravely and shit. Putting Ouija Macc on this thing really mixed things up and bringing in some new blood was a smart move.

MC Bushpig – Wank Of Death (2007)

MC Bushpig – Wank Of Death (2007)

I guess if you’re gonna listen to horrorcore you might as go for the sickest, most depraved shit you can find. That being said, this stuff is so far down the rabbit hole / iceberg chart that it may be a bit too much for some people. You can trust anything labelled with Suicide Rap Orgy, Butcher’s Harem or MC Bushpig to have the seal of absolute depravity and sickness. Honestly, this shit is absurd. My favourite tracks are the ones where Bushpig plays off MC Slurry, her delivery against his really works together in a back and forth kinda way, making the back end of this album stacked as fuck. For true deviants and perverts only.

Anybody Killa – Hatchet Warrior (2003)

Anybody Killa – Hatchet Warrior (2003)

ABK often gets it in the neck for being a shining example of the shit that Psychopathic used to sign in the 00s. Personally, I think Boondox is infinitely shittier, but that’s another story for another time. It is true, some – if not most – of the tracks where ABK stands solo on this thing are just absolutely appalling. However there are collabs that prop up other tracks, and the backbone of ICP and the Psychopathic mixing staff gluing shit together. This leaves us with a surprising number of entertaining songs for an album that on first listen resulted in a reaction of physical revulsion. I’m gonna have to peep more ABK records to be sure, but because of the guest spots and fat production, this record has scraped through by the skin of its nuts.

Insane Clown Posse – Hell’s Cellar (2018)

Insane Clown Posse – Hell’s Cellar (2018)

Hell’s Pit is one of my favourite ICP releases (a rare album which doesn’t fall off into silliness) so I was stoked as all manner of fuck to hear these 9 tracks from those sessions that didn’t make the album. In some cases it’s obvious why the songs didn’t make the cut (and I’m glad all of these samples of twisted TV preachers didn’t make the record either, it gets a bit samey). There are some absolute fuckin’ gems here though, some proper deep cuts of wicked shit for those who have travelled deep into the brush in search of hatchet wielding diamonds. Tracks such as “Can’t End Myself” and “Alakazam” are twisted, dark horrorcore at its finest and it really makes me wish ICP stuck with this extra-surreal level of vivid storytelling. Hell’s Pit was the shit, and Hell’s Cellar, as uninspiring as the title may be, is an extra slice of disgusting freshness for the fans of the harder ICP material. Apparently there are more tracks from these sessions yet to be released, that will come with the 20th anniversary of Hell’s Pit this year. I’m looking forward to it!

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Kendrick Lamar but in the interest of returning to albums I last listened to a very long time ago, a review of Good Kid m.A.A.D. City was waaay overdue. I can commend the excellent writing and delivery, and the streaks of sampling that run in between the tracks offering a wider narrative that gives the whole experience much more depth. Production-wise, this shit is also on point, which you would except with Dre being involved.

Insane Clown Posse – Bizzar (2000)

Insane Clown Posse – Bizzar (2000)

Suffers the same fate as its brother/sister album, in that it cannot escape the mixed bag effect of “leftovers-from-Jeckel-Brothers-itis’. There are, as always, some high points, but when the peaks drop into the troughs, there are some serious low points for sure. Production is great, as the Esham cover / reworking of “Cherry Pie”, but I could really give or take this entire era of the band’s history.

The Godfathers – Once Upon A Crime (2013)

The Godfathers – Once Upon A Crime (2013)

Some really sick beats on display here, but it is debatable whether G Rap and Necro work together all that well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not awful, but it doesn’t feel so much here like these two worked together, more than that someone took verses from both of them and slapped them both into the same songs. On the surface it works pretty well but if you wanna go deeper then you can’t.

Insane Clown Posse – Bizaar (2000)

Insane Clown Posse – Bizaar (2000)

Even as a huge ICP fan in the 2000s I always overlooked Bizzar and Bizaar. For one, the covers looked awful, and they sat outside of the joker’s card series, so I didn’t really see the point in them. They kinda flew under the radar. People hyped the Jeckel Brothers. People hyped the Wraith albums. Nobody gave a shit about these “bizarre” albums, at least not in my experience. I don’t know if I’m carrying that baggage in now finally checking them out, because instead of “towards the end of the golden age” style ICP that I was expecting, the quality here isn’t that good. To be fair, there’s a mix here, but for the most part I was left unimpressed.

Esham – Tongues (2001)

Esham – Tongues (2001)

Over the course of albums from Boomin’ all the way to Mail Dominance you can trace a slow but deliberate change in Esham’s music. Each album along the way is another iteration of what could be considered a classic Esham sound, but each era had its own distinct vibe and production. Tongues is a mixed bag in comparison, both in terms of quality as well as regards to production and musical structure. Not only do the songs only hit about 50% of the time, but the ride varies wildly from marveling at clever rhymes to cringing harder than we have at any point in running through Esham’s discography thus far. Also, this album is long as fuck, which doesn’t help. All in all, the production quality is fantastic and the sound is crystal clear, so I can’t fault it for that. Oh, and some of the guest spots are pretty cool too.

Young Scrolls – Zoom (2018)

Young Scrolls – Zoom (2018)

The beats are fantastic, the rhymes are really clever, and as I’ve stated on other YS releases the effort involved in pulling this off is massively commendable. Unfortunately, Sheogorath’s Zoom outstays its welcome very quickly, and I’ve never been able to make it to the end.

Young Scrolls – Saint (2019)

Young Scrolls – Saint (2019)

I have endless respect for the sheer effort involved in pulling this off, and the rhymes that have been written for the Juib character are outstanding. Unfortunately, objectively, the musical execution of it all is pretty poor (only so much chopped audio vocals you can listen to before your head starts to hurt).

Esham – Bootleg: From the Lost Vault Vol. 1 (2000)

Esham – Bootleg: From the Lost Vault Vol. 1 (2000)

Not sure if this was supposed to be some sort of off-cuts compilation or a best-of? Either way it kinda fails at being both, and I 100% recognise tracks off Esham records but not so much some of the others here? Fuckin’ bizarre. Anyways, this is some good old school acid rap shit from the king of the genre. There’s just no need to come here until you’ve been to all the other albums first (and perhaps no need at all after all of those).

Luniz – Operation Stackola (1995)

Luniz – Operation Stackola (1995)

Great, super entertaining old school west coast gangsta rap for the whole family to enjoy. Drugs, bitches and getting dat paper more or less totally envelopes the entire subject matter. but that’s OK. Expect smoooooooth but aged-tae-fuck gangsta rap synthesizers and boom bap beats (the beats have aged quite well, those synthesizer lines maybe not so much).

Bizarre – He Got A Gun (2022)

Bizarre – He Got A Gun (2022)

Wanted to rate this higher because I haven’t listened to Bizarre for years and years and this fucker was supposed to be some sort of super serious return to form. “Uzi” and “Hecker” out the gate makes you think shit, they might be right about that. Unfortunately, an hour of this shit and the shine wears off. There’s some fucking awesome peaks on this album “Desert E with Dope D.O.D.)” and “25 with Nems and Young Zee” are two great examples (Nems’ verse is so good). Whilst there aren’t too many low points, or any particular nadir of sorts, the rest of the album is pretty mid, I’m afraid to report. By the time you get the end it even feels like he’s recycling rhymes (Amazon deliveries and Covid lines come up multiple times for some reason). Either way, if you enjoy Bizarre there’s no reason why you won’t enjoy this.

Shygirl – Cruel Practice (2018)

Shygirl – Cruel Practice (2018)

Feel like I’m on a different planet to the rest of the folks hearing this. Beats are interesting at best, irritating at worst, and the flow is just…. shit. Feels like she’s rapping at me over the tanoy system at one of those giant Tesco Extra supermarkets at 3 in the morning when all I’m trying to do is cop a Monster energy drink and a cheese sandwich and get back to the rest of my night shift. Final track is the only one that’s any good. Either way, get in the bin, tanoy witch. Edit: OK the final track is actually a straight banger haha but the rest of this is dreadful.

The Bug – Fire (2021)

The Bug – Fire (2021)

Man, I love London Zoo, and Angels & Devils, so imagine my surprise when I found out that I’d slept on this thing coming out two years ago. I won’t tell you its straight fire, because as always with this kind of thing, its impossible not to be a bit hit and miss. Some of the collabs are a bit, err, not so great, to be honest, but the ones that are (I’m looking at you, Flowdan) elevate this thing up there with the best of the best Bug. Speaking of The Bug, man himself is on his usual heavy industrial vibe thing, mixing dense atmospherics with huge bass (still got some of that “dubstep” sound) and killer beats. Generally things be oppressive, depressing, dystopian, – you know the score by now. Also, considering how much I love Kevin Martin / Roger Robinson as King Midas Sound, the opening track to this is easily the worst thing The Bug has ever put the moniker to. Leave the COVID bullshit in the past where it belongs guys, fuck that shit. (The closing track “The Missing” is much more on point). Fuck Off.

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus (1997)

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus (1997)

This is an excellent underground hip hop record with a production style that is right up my street. I love the analogue warmth of a it all, as well the excellent and well-placed samples. Flow-wise, the Company have it nailed down, with some excellent bars and a general overall vibe that is really cool and confident. No idea where I picked this up but glad I checked it out. Really good stuff.

Ice – Bad Blood (1998)

Ice – Bad Blood (1998)

Personally, I really didn’t feel the second Ice record. I probably need to listen to it a few more times, but the dreamy, moody dub-like atmosphere of the first release is long gone, instead replaced with big stinky beats (not a bad thing) and a ton of guest vocalists ranging from Blixa Bargeld to EL-P, which makes this worth listening to if only for the strange cross-section of styles and voices. Bad Blood almost feels like a completely different project / band than Under The Skin, but fretting over which moniker Martin / Broadrick release their stuff under is pointless. I won’t call this a miss, but it’s not for me.

Esham – Erotic Poetry (1990)

Esham – Erotic Poetry (1990)

Esham’s songs about “love making” are not subtle nor particularily clever, but they do make me laugh. Whether or not that was the original intention or not is perhaps debatable. But the moral of this EP is, well, mans was horny, by the goose of it. Erotic Poetry isn’t as filthy as say, The Sexorcist by Necro, but I still wouldn’t play “The Jaw Bone” for my gran, if you get what I’m saying.

Esham – Bro (2023)

Esham – Bro (2023)

I have a lot of time for Esham but this legitimately sounds like a Goblin-era Tyler outtake set to a stock beat that someone downloaded off Soundcloud. Not a strong start to the promo cycle for the new record, I’ll be honest.

Esham – Judgement Day Vol. 1 – Day (1992)

Esham – Judgement Day Vol. 1 – Day (1992)

Judgment Day is probably my least favourite of the early Esham records, but that’s moreso because the other stuff just beyond kills it, rather than Judgement Day being particularily awful or anything like that. Hey, releasing a double album as your second record is a bold move especially when you consider how fast and loose Boomin’ Words From Hell is. Judgement Day is a step forward to the man’s known signature acid rap sound, but contains that hideous early production that we both know and love (lol). I mean, coming back to Esham after not listening for a long time and the reaction is something like “damn, that production is fucking nasty”, but give it a few minutes and you are immersed in the filthy distorted beats and twisted lyrics. It’s great. Personally, I think the songs on the second part of Judgement Day are better, but there are some belters here too, “Nine Dead Bodies”, and then four in a row, “How Do I Plead To Homocide”, “I’d Rather Be Dead”, the surprisingly serious “Momma Was A Junkie” and the hilarious “Once You Go Black”, which is about introducing white girls to something that they uhhh, then can’t ever seem to get enough of afterward. Good ol’ Esham, you can always rely on him for some the silliest yet most entertaining XXX rhymes. Great, dank, underground shit.

Esham – Judgement Day Vol. 2 – Night (1992)

Esham – Judgement Day Vol. 2 – Night (1992)

I tend to see Judgement Day as one whole album, as a modern listener that’s how it’s presented to us on streaming services, so its hard to appreciate the split between the two records. I’d love to get some of this wicked shit on CD but the prices are just absurd, even for the remasters that happened recently. Anyway, part 2, “night”, is choc full of fucking amazing rap tunes. The opening track is awesome, even if the sampling of Sabbath’s “War Pigs” is a bit clumsy. The hat-trick of “Play Dead”, “13 Ways” and “Finger In The Cake Mix” is just beyond words, the latter track being one of Esham’s many rude odes to gettin’ funky with it, so to speak, and I will never look at cake mix in the same way, ever again. ICP fans should take note of track 9 “Wake The Dead” in particular, a lot of the elements here are re-used in the groups excellent Hell’s Pit. In fact, there are many, many references that ICP take from both Judgement Day discs and work into Hell’s Pit (including the concept of The Witch, as well as too many little bits of rhymes to mention). If you’re a huge fan of Hell’s Pit you’ll love going through both Judgement Day records picking out all the little bits that ICP “borrowed”. I mean, even the “day” and “night” two parts of this record echo the two parts of The Wraith, although I gotta be honest with you about Esham, both “night” and “day” are equally as dark and twisted lol. (Maybe Judgement Day has been retroactively worked into the Joker’s Card universe? when The Wraith comes for ya, then it’s Judgement Day, and then it’s off to Shangri-La or Hell’s Pit with your ass haha) The only song that really just stands out as ridiculous is “Living In Incest” which has just… well, I want to say it hasn’t aged well but to be honest he probably should have left this one on the cutting room floor to start with. If you like self-produced, self-released, sick underground rap, then you really need to get up into some of these early Esham records.

Jedi Mind Tricks – Violence Begets Violence (2011)

Jedi Mind Tricks – Violence Begets Violence (2011)

I got into JMT through Vinnie Paz guesting on some Immortal Technique stuff (I think, anyway), so I came in around this era and this was the first record I ever heard by them, so a lot of the chat about this not being as good as the old shit wasn’t applicable to me, as I hadn’t heard any of that stuff yet. I’ve had this album “saved” on my to-do list since 2014, and I’m only writing about it now, which speaks volumes really as its the oldest thing on the list and I’ve constantly passed it up in favour of writing about something else. I don’t think that Jedi Mind Tricks are particularly awful on Violence Begets Violence, but I really struggled to think of anything to say. I only really, truly enjoy the Vinnie Paz verses across the whole thing, even though some of the others, particularily from guest appearances other than other members of JMT, do have some good lines now and then, None of the songs really descend into soppy, hip-hop record tedium (a song about weed, or a song about staying true or whatever), but nothing really inspires me here, despite most of the beats hitting quite hard. My favourite song has to be “Design in Malice”. That’ll do for now.

Insane Clown Posse – Yum Yum Bedlam (2021)

Insane Clown Posse – Yum Yum Bedlam (2021)

Are ICP done with the second run of joker’s cards yet? Honestly I’ve lost track. Anyways, it barely seems five minutes since Furious Fred Fury hit the grown running but of course it’s been ages now and I’m just out of the loop. Yum Yum Bedlam does absolutely nothing for me. Working primarily with another guy called Shaggy on production, rather than some of the older cats, this thing has a totally different vibe than usual. I’m not saying all of ICP songs have to go hard, in fact a lot don’t, but I’m really just not vibing with this. It’s a shame because I loved Furious Fred after a long while of not being into ICP stuff. Oh well. Woop woop and all that.

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (2016)

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition (2016)

Danny Brown has always been an interesting rapper but Atrocity Exhibition goes off the deep end, I won’t lie. In a good way, of course. This is very abstract, at least in production, which shambles and drags along as much as it pummels with hard-hitting beats. Lyrically, this is a dark record, with all sorts of mental health issues appearing at the forefront. This is great shit.

D12 – Devil’s Night (2001)

D12 – Devil’s Night (2001)

With Devil’s Night, D12 gave the world their first full length. Production-wise, you can easily consider this a sister album to Eminem’s original Marshal Mathers LP from the year before. Dre is back in the seat, and the beatwork is more or less the same; heavy, snapping metallic instrumentation and Dre’s super surround sound production that carries over from Chronic 2001. Flow wise, the quality of rappers in D12 varies, as does the ability to understand what folk are saying. Eminem is clearly the lead talent here, but thats not to shit on the others (I think they already did a song about that, actually lol). Anyways, the non-single versions of “Fight Music” and “Purple Pills” are drastically different (especially the latter), and the record flows with some really cool songs, but does fall off a bit in the final third.

Suicidal Rap Orgy ‎– Genital Warfare (2003)

Suicidal Rap Orgy ‎– Genital Warfare (2003)

This has to be one of the most out-there things that I have ever heard, which is really saying something. I first came across a few of the “MCs” on this thing back in 2006/2007 in the MySpace days. Colour me surprised to not only find that MC Bushpig and MC Slurry and all these other horrible aliases are not only still listened to all these years later, but they actually did a full length album together all the way back in 2003. Considering myself out of the loop on some prime horrorcore sickness, I let her rip. Nothing however could have adequately prepared me for what I was about to hear. Yeah, this is horrorcore, but pushed to an almost unrecognisable extreme, having more in common with goregrind or something that say, the Insane Clown Posse. Some of the rappers here are absolutely fucking shocking, but others are really, genuinely, pathologically crackers. Underpinning everything is a stinking, lo-fi production which isn’t a bazillion miles away from the Memphis style, of which I’m sure along the way, was a massive influence on this. 100% for those who are sick in the head or just desensitised to pretty much everything.

Das Racist – Relax (2011)

Das Racist – Relax (2011)

Excellent production, but one that is kinda typical for this 10s era hipster hip hop stuff. Like I said though, excellently done, especially in the beats department. For all the vibes here the beats are consistently great.  Lyrically, things are quite clever, but there are some stinkers (like the forced reference to MBV’s Loveless). Likewise the guest spots are equally so-so, with some excellent verses from Danny Brown, El-P and Despot. I’d never heard Despot before so that’s really cool.  Shame these guys never did another album.

Eminem – Relapse (2009)

Eminem – Relapse (2009)

Relapse is probably the most “modern” Eminem record that I look on fondly. A lot of the songs are recorded in this weird accent (just check out the first track “3AM”) but that aside, this is pretty solid. The misogyny and homophobia is enormously high as per usual. The bonus disk, Refill, isn’t really up to much (as soon as I heard Lil Wayne my expectations plummeted). Also, for all the years I’ve listened to this, I never realised it was The Wire’s Dominic West (McNulty) who voices the doctor in the albums intro track (even though the track is fucking called “Dr. West”).

Shaggy 2 Dope – F.T.F.O. (2006)

Shaggy 2 Dope – F.T.F.O. (2006)

I was well into ICP when I was in my teens but I don’t actually recall buying this. I think it was from Play.com or some such archaic method of acquiring physical media. For the most part, these songs are ICP cutting room floor grade of hip hop / horrorcore cheese. I use horrorcore in the lightest sense also, despite this being one half of one of the genre’s most defining acts, the link here to the style is tenuous at best. I have this problem with a lot of the Psychopathic artist’s releases. Not saying folk on that label don’t have any talent or whatever, but sometimes I feel like a full length album is a stretch when it really isn’t needed. A lot of the songs here (and on other releases) just seem weak or forced. There definitely isn’t a need for 17 of the fuckers. That being said, “Owl Face Hoe” is one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard, just because of the fact someone took the time to write this track and record it in a high-end studio.

Ice-T – Valuable Game (12″ Version) (1999)

Ice-T – Valuable Game (12″ Version) (1999)

I got this 12″ free with a Discogs order probably about a decade ago, and I finally listened to it. Featuring a few cuts and extras from his 7 Deadly Sins album sessions, Valuable Game is actually a pretty fun listen. My favourite song has to be “Always Wanted To Be A Ho”, which is tongue in cheek but actually heavily calls out those who prey on vulnerable women, which is nice considering how misogynistic hip hop can be. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t exactly flattering towards “hos” but it was a refreshing take all the same, especially considering how old this is.

Viper – I No She Hot, She No I’m Rich 5 (2016)

Viper – I No She Hot, She No I’m Rich 5 (2016)

Honestly, I don’t know why I do it to myself. With the absolute meltdown that is I No She Hot She No I’m Rich 5, I believe my time with Viper has come to an end. I just cannot invest any more time in listening to this absolute dreck. It was fun when it lasted. Like… this is so fucking bad, with absolutely zero endearing qualities. Plus it’s 1 hour and 40 minutes long. The soundtrack to a slow and painful death, is this.

Tha Dogg Pound – Dogg Food (1995)

Tha Dogg Pound – Dogg Food (1995)

This is a long overdue listen for me. Dogg Pound, is perhaps, quite famously, a duo comprising of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger, who you may know from Dr. Dre’s albums or Snoop Dogg’s legendary Doggystyle album. These are the two guys that fill out a good chunk of guest spots on some high profile releases in the hip hop world during the 90s and it was high time (lol) that I checked out their debut album. Of course, this is produced by Dr. Dre. Suge Knight is down as exec producer, but its clear to me that Dre mixed this thing, you can tell that trademark sound a mile off. What Dogg Food brings then is a solid hour of old school gangsta rap. Its a bit typical of the sound, yes – but these guys arguably are part of the original movement and are able to get away with that. Good shit. The prophets teach: “Smoke a joint to this!”. So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

VHS Logos – マントラ (Mantra)(2014)

VHS Logos – マントラ (Mantra)(2014)

On first impressions, VHS Logos’ legendary Mantra record fits right in alongside the other early greats of the vaporwave genre. However, give it chance to develop and you are treated to a smattering of beats and vibes in the hip hop and funk styles too. Everything is wrapped in that warm, fuzzy 90s analogue sound that we all love vaporwave so much for, and I’m sure there’s plenty of re-worked samples and songs going on here rather than flat out original material, but of course that matters not for this kind of thing. A lovely record.

Death Grips – The Money Store (2012)

Death Grips – The Money Store (2012)

Okay, so – before I begin, how tf is this 10 years old? Damn! The time, she flies! The Money Store is the record that brought Death Grips into the mainstream, introducing the band to a new generation of music rabid fans, who no doubt lapped up the aural carnage and abrasive experimental hip hop like rabid dogs. I find a lot of the later Death Grips records get a little too obtuse, but here the mix between bizarre, intense electronics and beats and legit catchiness is perfect. The number of bangers on here is a testament to that fact. Look no further than “The Fever (Aye Aye)”, “Lost Boys”, “Hustle Bones”, “I’ve Seen Footage” or “Hacker” to see my point. Truly, I could most likely present to you the entire tracklist as evidence as why this album is so good, but The Money Store presented such a fresh sound back in 2012 and continues to be an album that stands up even ten years later. Many of the tracks I mentioned above are still a part of the band’s live set and that speaks volumes. If you’ve never heard Death Grips then this is probably the best place to start.

Dinner Party – Dinner Party (2020)

Dinner Party – Dinner Party (2020)

This is a short yet rewarding release from Terrace Martin and a revolving door of collaborators. It’s warm, comfortable yet snazzy music that is summed up perfectly in its name. I’m reminded how Miles Davis’ Doo Bop tried to mix jazz with the emerging and extremely popular hip hop styles of the early 90s. Whilst that might not have gone to plan, here such a thing is achieved to a dazzling effect. Kamasi Washington crops up too, which is always a treat.

Snoop Dogg – Malice N Wonderland (2009)

Snoop Dogg – Malice N Wonderland (2009)

Well then….. lol. I got this from a charity shop I think in 2013 or at the latest 2014. I used to work part time collecting dead peoples clothes that charity shops couldn’t sell. They’d sell the clothes to my company by weight, so the money would still be going to good causes, and we’d collect the clothes in high volumes and take them back to HQ to be pulped and turned into fuck-knows-what. This give me access to multiple CD bargain bins per day, and I got me some classics (and some stinkers) for next to nothing. Snoop’s Malice N Wonderland is probably closer to a stinker than it is to a classic. I remember listening to it at the time and thinking, damn now I’m gonna have to Lines In Wax this awful CD haha! Well, 8 or possibly 9 years later, here we are folks. Forget any notion that this is as good or even comparible in sound, both in production terms and vocal delivery, to classic Snoop Dogg. Granted, the legendary rapper has adopted a smoothness over the years which heavily plays in his favour but this is so undeniably bland nothing I can say can really save it. There’s nothing wrong with the lyrics per se I just don’t really find any of the songs interesting and for that reason it’s also probably time to wind this review up because there’s nothing more I can really add, positive or negative.

Terrace Martin – Lies (2020)

Terrace Martin – Lies (2020)

Well this is an absolute banger of a track. I tend to focus on albums rather than singles here on LIW, but every now and then I’ll hear one so have to write about it. This has an absolutely stomper of a beat to it, backed up with some clean and stunning synthesizers and robotic vocals. I believe this guy has done some work with Kamasi Washington so I’ll have to try and hunt that down.

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

Man this is a classic. I just realised, despite the countless times I’ve listened to this thing, I don’t actually own this record, in any format. I need to sort that out. A cassette or vinyl will do! Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of Wu-Tang, and whilst I don’t claim to have heard their entire body of work, everything else they released that I have heard just pales in comparison to this absolute masterpiece. Everything about this is great; the raw, hardcore beats and production, the hydra-headed lyrical approaches spitting all sorts of nasty shit, and hey – even the skits, bizarre as they may be, it wouldn’t be 36 Chambers without them. I was listening to this outside recently at a considerable volume whilst doing some DIY and it gave me a new appreciation for this record. 36 Chambers is easily one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.

Esham – Homey Don’t Play (1990)

Esham – Homey Don’t Play (1990)

Personally, I blame this EP for the entire existence of ICP. I’m sorry, but there is NO WAY they didn’t model their entire ghetto clown thing off this shit. I mean absolutely no disrespect, but c’mon. Musically, this is oooold school Esham with that trademark sound and delivery, a year or so after Boomin’ Words From Hell dropped. Great shit.

Viper – You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack (2008)

Viper – You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack (2008)

YOOOOOOOO!!!!! This shit right here be the 2000th Lines In Wax post. I don’t really know what to say other than “thank you” to anyone who is still reading this shit for some reason. Cheers! Here’s a lil something for you bustas. We were recently talking to Viper about doing a UK/EU release of this thing and talks are ongoing, but yeah – anyways, it reminded me I hadn’t done an entry for it here on LIW. But… what can I say? The Soundcloud / mumble rap world is one thing, You’ll Cowards Don’t Even Smoke Crack is another. Is Viper fucking with us? I still don’t know. And its great. Vocally, this shit is a travesty. Of course, this is what makes it so much fun. However, the beats on this thing are unironically amazing, especially in the first half. The bass on the title track is heavily reminiscent to me of Masato Nakamura’s soundtrack for “Winged Fortress Zone” on the Sonic 2 game, if I could be so bold to make such a comparison. Yeeeeeeeeaaaahhhh. Uh huuuh.

Twiztid – Mostasteless (1998)

Twiztid – Mostasteless (1998)

Boom! This is sicker than I remember! Hell of a production, such incredible beats and sick sounds, and of course, those amazing bars that introduced Twiztid to the world (House Of Krazees, who tf are they?). Mostasteless is the start of a long career for this duo but its arguably one of the best records they have done.

Viper – 3300 Albums (3300 Bandcamp Albums) (2021)

Viper – 3300 Albums (3300 Bandcamp Albums) (2021)

I recently started following Viper on Bandcamp. I thought my phone was having a time of it, because during the last day or so, its been spamming with with the notification “Viper just released a new album”. Little did I know, that these were genuine alerts, and not my Bandcamp app losing its mind. I always knew Viper to be prolific, but this was taking the piss a bit. Anyways, turns out all these “albums” he’s dropping are just one track each. So really, he’s dropped an albums worth of tracks over the weekend, rather than 11 albums or whatever. Plus I have zero fucking clue as to what the fuck is going on here. Absolutely mind-boggling.

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Volumes 1 & 2 (1998)

Insane Clown Posse – Forgotten Freshness Volumes 1 & 2 (1998)

The OG Forgotten Freshness release combined the first two volumes, even though I guess its one release across two discs. I remember my Forgotten Freshness 4 having a second disk, but I think it was a bonus of some kind and not a legit FF inclusion. All in all, what you get out of these depends on your investment in ICP is. If you want out takes and alternative versions and “rare” tracks then get on board at the first station with this first release. Otherwise don’t.

Esham – Mail Dominance (1999)

Esham – Mail Dominance (1999)

The fact that I listened to Mail Dominance within the last few weeks yet can remember absolutely nothing about it doesn’t exactly speak volumes about its quality. Musically, its not a million miles away from Gothom City, but isn’t as silly as that album. A solid mid-career effort from Esham, but it can’t beat the old shit.

Insane Clown Posse – Dog Beats (1991)

Insane Clown Posse – Dog Beats (1991)

Dog Beats is one of (if not the original?) ICP cassette EP back when they were known as the Inner City Posse. Actually, I think this came after Bass-ment Cuts, because it sounds a lot better, and I think even has some rudimentary Mike E Clarke production. All in all, this is a precursor to what would come with the Carnival Of Carnage record. The vibe (and some of the tracks) are the same, with slightly different lyrics. It’s a great listen though and slaps really hard, some of the beats are not far from what you’d hear on early Wu Tang or some of the more abrasive Death Grips records. ICP deserve more credit than they get.

GZA – Liquid Swords (1995)

GZA – Liquid Swords (1995)

There’s a special place in my heart for the early Wu Tang records, and the following solo albums that came after they blew up. GZA’s absolutely legendary Liquid Swords has gotta be up there as one of if not the best of the bunch, with absolutely dank as fuck and on point beats and production. All the usual suspects are out for the vocal contributions, and this is more like another classic Wu Tang album than a solo outing. Classic, classic hip hop.