Laying down tracks

Hip-hop gets all mixed up
By MATTHEW GASTEIER  |  October 2, 2006


Ghislain Poirier
Compartmentalized hip-hop is dead — at least that’s what a backpacker I met at the Jeezy concert told me. But there’s still great independent hip-hop out there, pushing the limits of the genre while only occasionally talking about dealing cocaine. Here are a few places to find it.

Ghostface and MF Doom, “Angeles”
This hotly awaited collaboration proves that anyone who believes Ghostface and MF Doom can do no wrong may have a point. Cinematic strings set the track up as a faux theme song for a new crime drama. “This shit come on after Hart to Hart,” Ghost says, and personally I can’t wait to get home from school.

CunninLynguists, “Beautiful Girl”
CunninLynguists (I know, but what’s in a name?) hail from Kentucky, not exactly the center of the hip-hop universe, but with solid production and conscious lyrics they have every reason to hope for a breakthrough. Their conceptual album A Piece of Strange has singles to spare, notably this funky chipmunk-soul ode to, well, a beautiful girl. Named Jane. With flamed-colored hair. Okay, it’s about marijuana.

Living Legends, “2010”
It’s strange to hear the signature riff from Nirvana’s cover of “The Man Who Sold the World” serving as the backbone to a hip-hop single. But if it works, it works. This left-coast crew are starting to live up to their name in the underground community after years of hard work, solid group and solo records, and the kind of growing buzz you get from chopping a Nirvana riff.
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Ghislain Poirier, “Avec La Musique” (feat. Jacobus and Maléco)
Poirier has devoted his life to brain-scrambling productions. Whether it’s in his own buzzy glitch-hop or his monster remixes of everyone from Jay-Z to, uh, Vanilla Ice, the Montreal native is a genuine beatmaster. This track features a couple of Canadian rappers who switch smoothly between French and English, but don’t worry, you’ll get the point: it’s about blowing your mind.

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