Ocean Records located in the Pacific
Northwest, best recognized for its release of the Criminal Nation,
Resurrection album in 1998 is back on the market with an impressive line-up
of artists on Indie Sessions Vol. 1. This is a tremendous compilation CD
from a whole bunch of underground heads from the USA. It would appear that
many artists in the US have similar problems to acts over here in the UK.
Some relatively successful and well known ones too. Their problem is that if
they are not being pushed by some major label or don't come from the right
part of the country they aren't getting a look in. The frustration with
mainstream media outlets and their practical monopolies is growing and
groups of artists from all over the states are banding together to stand up
to this tyranny. Ocean Records are one such example. Here across 19 tracks
they have pulled together some of the hungry talent out there and forged one
massive collection of tracks. What this record looses in concept it gains
from the sheer variety of artists and the quality of the selected tracks.
Featuring 19 DOPE tracks from:
Wojack - Tacoma WA
Prophetix - Atlanta GA
Doujah Raze - Alexandria VA
Mr. Dog Feat: Mac Money & Young Have Not - Tacoma WA
Splitt - Croydon PA
Strik & Krusal Feat: J1 - Tacoma WA
Mr. Supreme Feat: Al Tariq of The Beatnuts - Seattle WA/NY
Redskin Feat: Krumbsnatcha - Tulalip WA/ Boston MA
Mz. Tasti - Upland CA
Ab Normal - Washington DC
Funk Daddy - Seattle WA
Knowa Lazarus - Kew Gardens NY
Divine MC - Daytona Beach FL
Storm the Unpredictable - Oxon Hill MD
Bill Yuns Feat: Mycle - Seattle WA
Black Caesar Feat: Rock of Heltah Skeltah & Supreme of The Boot Camp
- Tacoma WA/ NY
Nokturnal & Li Fee - Seattle WA
Starchile Feat: Bleek - Portland OR
Skuntdunanna Feat: Wanz - Seattle WA
Azarel (01) & Criminal Nation (99) are 2 CD's that you
will also want to add to your collection. Both CD's were nominated for
the Best CD's in The NW.
Criminal Nation was featured in BACK to BACK issues of The Source
Magazine & Azarel was featured in various others, including Insomniac,
and maintained chart play across the US & Overseas for 6 months +. Audio
clips are available for you to preview! Both titles on sale for only
The Lineup includes Hip-Hop superstars, Al Tariq and DJ Mr. Supreme amongst
many others. DJ Supreme also plays host for the snippet mixtape that will be
distributed during the Indie Sessions Vol. 1 promotional campaign. The LP
kicks off with a short sharp shock of Beatbox from Tacoma residents Wojack.
Quickly following the CD tracklist storms through tuff tracks, the first from
Atlanta's Prophetix who deliver a super hypnotic choon T.U.G. (True Urban
Grit) that just needs to be bumped at maximum volume. A sweet flute loop is
hooked up with a hardcore groove for one of my favourite tracks in a long
time. Being a compilation it seems every act has been able to provide their
hardest bangers and Doujah Raze do the same. A guitar lick backs this funky
groove which with the squeaky sample and the smooth flow makes Irish Cream
live up to its name and rep Alexandria to the fullest.
Mr Dog & Mad Money offer up a thoroughly modern production for all those
riderz out there and Splitt hooks up a beautiful acoustic guitar sample for
All Day a gentle and reflective track that is defiantly one to reminisce
to. Strik & Krusal ft. J1 hook up some Eastern sitar sounds for a rump
shaking club track about chirpsing gyal on a night out.
The fat tracks come one after another, Mr. Supreme ft. Al Tariq dropping the
next, Run The Show which for me has a distinctive Beatnuts type feel. A
solid bass line driven track is just the canvas Al Tariq needs to flex his
Redskin ft. Krumsnatcha is another track that links up unknowns with artists
who have already ad a bit of exposure. Krumsnatcha drops in his own gruff
tones. This Goes Out perhaps misses the mark a touch in terms of impact when
contrasted with the other tracks on here due to its simplistic percussion
instrumentation. The chorus urging people to 'Bounce to this' seems a bit
out of place on a track which lacks the energy for a jump up feel.
Mz Tasti from Rialto, California sits in the middle of the compilation and
gives a nice diversion from the unsurprisingly male dominated release.
Normal from Washington drops the next bomb which with a couple of others on
here are truly works of genius. I Can't Do features an absorbing vocal
sample of the phrase which appears both in the chorus', and through the
verses when the MC's pause for it. This is just what I like real head
nodding material, clear intelligent rapping and that something extra that
makes it sublime.
Seattle residents Funk Daddy ft. Willin's Makin Moves injects a dose of
energy for their club ready kick drum driven description of how they get
down. Virtually all the tracks on here need some form of commendation.
Lazarus from Queens is another MC who being unknown to me needs this
exposure. His classic semi whiny voice sits well with the minimal
arrangement and sparse staccato drum pattern.
Orchestral sweeps open up Divine MC's track So Beautilful and the other
instruments do conjure the images suggested by the title. It is also a
suitable backing for lyrics in which Divine expresses his love for his mum.
It is refreshing to hear an MC touching on a topic that many would consider
cissy. To me this shows more strength than someone who chooses to rap about
gats and hoes, maybe it is the attitude of Daytona Beach showing through?
Moving on, the closing stages of the CD are still strong. Storm The
Unpredictable submits his jazz influenced Contradictions and
Bill Yuns who I
first came across on his mp3.com site a few years back links up with singer
Mycle and gets to show people what he is capable of. His fully synth
generated bumper has a feeling of the South about it although he hails from
Ocean's home of Seattle.
Although I'm conscious I wrote too much all ready the last four tracks from
Black Ceasar, Nokturnal & Li Fee,
Starchile and Skuntdunanna all need a
mention. They are a mixed bag. Set Trip is a bit disappointing, but Seattle Holla is well up to par with its funky bass.
Afta Party which features Bleek
sounds fuller and better produced than the previous track, its piano riffs
smoothly taking us through to the final track All I Got. Wanz touches down
for a spot on this joint which rounds off the compilation with a relaxed RnB
Ocean embraces an attitude of avant-garde business practices and product
releases with an emphasis on design and quality. This one looks the part as
well with a modern design cover in metallic blue featuring a busted boom box
all designed an laid out by Steve O. To round up then, I can't really
recommend this release enough. It has all the qualities those into Hip Hop
demand and is solid throughout. When describing this release Steve Brown,
CEO of Ocean Records based in Lakewood, WA said, "I guarantee that cats are
going to enjoy this album - Ocean is going straight to the market with a
strong campaign. We're not really focusing on radio, we're focusing on the
streets". I think he is right so make sure you try to hear this.