Tuesday, February 07, 2006

San Quinn - The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds

The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds
Deal Done Entertainment

Produced by: Sean T, Cozmo, Steve Vicious, Davey-D Cohn, E-A-Ski, Traxamillion, Mac Pacino, Left, Maxwell Smart, Mista Royce, T.B., Box Kev, J-Moe

Featuring: Ya' Boy, E-A-Ski, Big Rich, Seff Tha Gaffla, Hoodstarz, Mike Marshall, Allen Anthony, Selau

San Quinn could have taken the easy route and jumped on the hyphy bandwagon since the prevailing opinion (if you believe the internet) is that hyphy music will be the savior of Bay Area hip hop. Luckily he stuck to his guns (as he did with 2004's I Give You My Word) and delivered a solid album without constantly talking about goin' dumb or scrapin' or :insert played Bay topic here: like way too many other songs in the Bay. It's nice to hear someone stick with what got them where they are, but all the while improving on their formula.

Sean T has a habit of crafting anthemic opening tracks (for example: check "Intro" from Sean's last album, Ain't Playin') and he does it again here for San Quinn with his work on "Frisco Stand Up (Checkmate 2)" featuring Ya' Boy. Recently I've heard people claiming that Quinn doesn't rap as "hard" or "gangsta" as he used to, but his verse on this song alone should silence that noise. Starting off slow and then steadily building towards an aggressive crescendo, Quinn delivers darts the entire way. Ya' Boy follows suit and more than holds his own. I have no idea who Maxwell Smart is, but I need to hear more of his production based on what he came with on "Planet Fillmoe." It was pleasing to hear Seff Tha Gaffla guest on this track as I haven't heard too much from him in recent years. Quinn's life is chronicled on
"Look What I've Done For Them" and the combination of Quinn's heartfelt lyrics and Cozmo's soulful production put this song on another level. "Butterfly" was a wildly popular song on Quinn's previous album so he smartly did something for the ladies again this time around. It's called "So Young" and it could easily find a place on the airwaves based on its subject matter and the demographics of urban radio. The backing vocals are done by Mike Marshall who is an exceptional singer which will also help push the song to radio.

"From A Gangsta Like Me" is Quinn at his finest. He portrays street scenes with ease, but rather than just glorifying the lifestyle he's reflecting it with thoughtfulness and actual emotion as he does on numerous cuts on this album. That's hard to come by these days and I feel that San Quinn is one of the best at it. Also it doesn't hurt that Cozmo once again creates a perfect backdrop for Quinn to use. Ya' Boy joins Quinn on "The Hunter" where once again he stands in direct opposition to the argument about him not rapping as "gangster" as he used to. "Holdin' Back These Years," produced by Davey-D Cohn and Box Kev, utilizes a great sample from Simply Red which was a nice choice. I'm glad to see producers diggin' in the crates to find new and different things to incorporate into their creations. With this track Quinn again effectively goes back and exposes his life and the lives of those around him to the listener. When I first saw the tracklisting for this album and read the song title, "Way More Than They Can See," I knew it was going to incorporate George Benson's classic, "Love Ballad." It's a great old song to use as the basis for a rap song. I'm interested in hearing more production from Davey-D Cohn if "Holdin' Back These Years" and "Way More Than They Can See" are any example of what he does on a regular basis. Quinn spits street heat over the course of all three verses and with the production being so solid, this is a strong contender for best song on the the album. Some other standout tracks on The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds that deserve mention include "Put My Mind To It," "Kick Yo' Ass" and "That's Beef" featuring Big Rich.

I want to congratulate Quinn and Deal Done for a very high quality release in all aspects. From top to bottom this is a well put together package and you can tell that they went all out. From Quinn's rapping to the top notch production all the way to the very polished and professional packaging from Shemp at Photo Doctor Graphics, this release screams "major label worthy." In a way, I wish that this album had been pushed back until after E-40's upcoming album so Quinn's album could benefit more from the wave of hype that 40 is going to create for Bay Area artists. That being said, I do still feel that The Rock: Pressure Makes Diamonds is many steps forward from San Quinn's previous work and places him in a well-deserved position to bring some shine back to the Bay Area. Like I said in a previous post... 40 will open the door, but it will be San Quinn who becomes the first new nationwide star from the Bay in many years.

I posted it before, but once again here is the video for "Look What I've Done For Them"...


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bay Area Classics - Volume 3

This edition of BAC inadvertently turned into an Oakland/Vallejo party. Next time I'll be sure to diversify a little better. I decided to add a video this time as well. God bless YouTube.

"Playah's Mode (Street Remix)" - Young Lay
Lay was an extremely promising rapper. Unfortunately he was riddled with problems which sidetracked his career including being shot, being locked up, his baby being kidnapped, the mother being murdered, etc... Dude just could never get to a settled place in his life to really have a chance to blow up which he had the talent to do. As far as I know he's locked up right now. The original version of "Playah's Mode" is on his amazing debut, Black 'n Dangerous on Young Black Brotha/Atlantic. This remix came off of a promotional cd for the single which also included a few other mixes, an instrumental and an acappella. Without question, Khayree is one of the dopest producers ever.

"For All Yall" - No The Piper, ???, Danesha
No The Piper was never really a huge name in Bay Area rap, but you can find him on a handful of releases from the mid '90s. I'm pretty sure he released a solo album back then as well, but I don't have it. It's just recently come to my attention (thanks to seen510 over at the bay is in the area) that he now fronts Flipsyde which is a rock/rap group on Interscope Records. Their song, "Someday" is even the goddamn theme song for the upcoming Olympics. Suck on that. I have no idea who the second rapper on this track is as he's not listed in the credits. "For All Yall" is from a compilation called The Gruuvelyne Connection-Tyme II Ryde which was released in 1997 on Gruuvelyne Records. The comp was entirely produced by the Whooride (Mike D and Sonny B) who were behind a ton of great tracks from Oakland in the mid '90s.

"Ham Samiches & Coup DeVilles" - E-40 featuring Big Gipp (Goodie Mob), Big Boi (Outkast)
This baby was on the advance copy of Loyalty & Betrayal that Jive Records sent me, but for whatever reason it didn't make the final cut. There's a couple other tracks on there that also didn't make the retail album, but this is the most interesting one. Unfortunately there was no additional info with the advance copy so I have no idea who produced this damn song or anything. Just listen to it.

"3 Strikes" - Askari X featuring Seagram, 3xKrazy, Bad-N-Fluenz, Mr. Ill, The Delinquents, Mike Mike Ansar Moe
Remember "Ward Of The State"? That was a pretty damn big song for Askari X back in like '92 or something. On his 1995 album, Message To The Black Man, on Slow Motion Records he dropped "Ward Of The State II" which is another good one. Askari's militant stance may turn most off from his music, but if you can get past that then you will hear some quality music on the whole album including this gem. The order of "3 Strikes" is ???, Seagram, Keak Da Sneak (3XKrazy), ???, G-Stack (The Delinquents), Askari X, ???, Big V (The Delinquents), Agerman (3XKrazy) and ???. Obviously the question marked spots belong to Bad-N-Fluenz (Rappin' Ron & Ant Diddley Dog), Mr. Ill and Mike Mike Ansar Moe. Problem is I'm too lazy right now to compare the voices on this song to other songs with those artists so I have no idea who is who. Sorry. This is another produced by the Whooride.

"V-A-L-L-E-J-O" - Game Related

This song is good, but more than anything I just REALLY enjoy the production that K-Lou brought to the table. I wish we still had people using this kind of sound out here in the Bay. Musically, the old production of people like K-Lou, Mike Mosley, Studio Ton, etc... shits on the majority of what's being served up out here now. This track is from the 1996 album from Game Related titled, Soak Game. Released on Big K Records originally, it was picked up by a semi-big label called Robbins Entertainment and re-released later that year. Some songs from the OG version were cut from the Robbins Entertainment re-release. "V-A-L-L-E-J-O" was one of the tracks. It's not bad at all so I'm not sure why it was cut. In fact, it's one of the better tracks from the original. K-Lou was so fuckin' funky back then. I haven't heard anything about these guys in years other than the fact that Potent C put out a solo album called Potent Reality in 1999. And just recently I know he has recorded a couple songs at my boy Rhythmx's studio. You can buy the original version of Soak Game at Rapbay and the re-release at Robbins Entertainment.

And here's a classic video for you...

"I Got 5 On It (Remix)" - Luniz featuring Dru Down, Richie Rich, E-40, Shock G, Spice 1
The best parts of this video to me are Dru Down's Shirley Temple locks and seeing Captain Save-A-Hoe (aka Crazy Ass Kevin Dixon) walking around in his cape. Good flashback video.