"I take orders from the Octoboss."

Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time

tn_beastmaster2I didn’t have cable in the ’80s so I never saw THE BEASTMASTER until I went on that Coscarelli kick a while back. But I didn’t move on to the sequels since Coscarelli had nothing to do with them, I just assumed they were trash. Well, good guess. But when I saw part 2 in that book I was just writing about, DESTROY ALL MOVIES, I started thinking about the stupidity of sending the Beastmaster through a “portal in time” to modern day Los Angeles, and came to the inevitable realization that I should watch it.

mp_beastmaster2The movie opens in the same desert barbaria as part 1. When last we saw Dar (Marc Singer), the loin-cloth wearing, telepathically-connected-to-animals he-man also known as The Beastmaster, he had refused to become king so as to continue his lifestyle of wandering around with his animal friends and swinging his sword like a propellor. This may have been a poor idea because whoever was in charge blew it and the place got conquered by an asshole named Arklon (Wings Hauser), who has a Phantom of the Opera style partial mask and a “Key of Magog” handweight that shoots green lasers. What’s worse, Dar has been captured and sentenced to death beacuse of his knowledge of witchcraft. “May the vultures feast upon his flesh!” Arklon yells, apparently not understanding the concept that Dar is friends with the animals. Or maybe he just figures the vultures can’t pass up a good meal even if it’s a dude they used to be buddies with.

Of course, Dar stages a daring escape with the aid of his buddies Sherak (an eagle), Ruh (a tiger who was poorly painted black in part 1 to pass as panther but has completely given up that charade), Podo (a ferret) and Kodo (apparently a zombie ferret, since he died in part 1 but now is mysteriously alive, unless the baby ferrets have the same names and are now replacing them). One aspect of this scene I think is interesting is when Dar has a clear chance to behead a bad guy with a huge battle ax, but he makes a point of turning the blade sideways and just bonking him in the face. Nice gesture, but Arklon has already declared “Death to all if he escapes!” So if he escapes the guy’s gonna die anyway. But maybe he’s trying to be nice just in case he doesn’t escape.

In the middle of a battle Arklon runs into this sorceress-looking gal who is possibly reading the wrong part of the script out loud because she introduces herself as “the beautiful, sensuous, mysterious Lyranna.” She’s played by Sarah Douglas (who faced Marc Singer again in V: THE FINAL BATTLE) and she’s immediately hatable because she sees a guy get hit with an arrow and says “Well, I guess he got the point!” Also she uses phrases like “chill out,” although at least not in a Schwarzenegger-pun type context.

Arklon gets pissed and calls the beautiful, sensuous, mysterious Lyranna “whore” because she addresses him by name. So to be polite she switches up and starts calling him “honey.” She has him by the balls because she knows of this magic portal where she can peak into Los Angeles circa 1991, which despite the title is not in another time, it’s in a parallel dimension. She has discovered the existence of a nuclear bomb type deal and she apparently feels that he could z'darconquer the world even better with that than he could with his green laser, mind-reading powers, little metal mask thing and Robert Z’Dar’s lower jaw (which is attached to one of his henchmen).

Meanwhile Dar gets in a fight with some monster that I’m pretty sure is Rawhead Rex’s cousin. This guy shoots animated eyebeams at him and everything but when he realizes who Dar is he suddenly likes him. But he’s already lost the fight so then he gives him wise dying advice, Yoda style. (SPOILER for Star Wars)

Meanwhile in the land of Los Angeles there’s this out of control teen named Jackie (Kari Wuhrer) who looks just like Tiffany, is the spoiled daughter of one Senator Trent (not as evil as he was before visiting the blood bank in HARD TO KILL), and who (after a car chase that repeatedly shows a truck with a big camera rig on the side) accidentally drives her red Porsche convertible Through the Portal of Time. There she befriends Dar but gets kidnapped by Arklon and brought back through the portal (which she describes as “way rad”) to be his guide in L.A. and lead him to the bomb.

Dar, along with his animal entourage, chases them through the portal, but gets trapped by the cops. The movie was released about 5 months after the Rodney King beating, so thank God he’s not a black guy. This would not have been a good era to be Blade or Ghost Dog cornered by the LAPD with a sword.

beastmaster2Sadly, this is mostly a comedy. It might be funny if it was trying to be serious, but it’s full of what maybe was supposed to be mildly subversive social satire or something about valley girls and pretentious fashion people and other types of Californians. Jackie brings Arklon and the beautiful, sensuous, mysterious Lyranna shopping for expensive clothes, ha ha. Later she escapes and finds Dar, who she also gets to wear different clothes. But warriors from another dimension don’t know how to blend in so they buy oversized clothes and just wear it over their armor.

Jackie explains that L.A. is “Largest city in California. And most aaaaawesome place in the universe!” as she drives Dar, Podo and Kodo around to make funny faces at all of the crazy modern things that he could never understand. At one point he sees Beastmaster II on the marquee at the Pantages and looks confused. I don’t get it.

Dar barely speaks and makes no effort to fit in but doesn’t seem too confused by modern concepts such as “Come on Dar, let’s watch the 6 o’clock news.” Of course he’s never seen a TV before but he does know the word “images,” as in “what are… these images?”

Other than the bird doing a little scouting for him the animals pretty much sit this adventure out until the end. The tiger is stuck in the zoo and the ferrets mostly stay in the bag or get cuddled by the girl. The eagle mostly just freaks out the Trent family butler. Too bad Jackie’s not in college, I’d like to see how an uptight dean would respond to these animals. Or the asshole captain of the football team.

But there is some animal involvement for the final showdown at the zoo. Arklon is holding the detonator and the ferrets jump on it and knock it out of his hands, which seems unsafe to me but I’m not a nuclear scientist so don’t listen to me. More than anything this movie makes a powerful statement about nuclear proliferation and the lack of safeguards to stop these deadly weapons from falling in the hands of terrorists or sorcerers. The security at the laboratory is pathetic. They would’ve been let right in if they would’ve written the right security clearance letters on their fake IDs. They didn’t, but all they had to do for a plan B was punch out three incompetent guards.

When it’s all over some old military guy (or maybe it’s Senator Trent?) has 30 seconds to remember the code to stop it from blowing up the world. The filmatists know it’s not suspenseful so they try for some laughs, having the old guy stop to marvel at the cuteness of the ferrets while the clock keeps ticking. Those adorable little guys came very close to ending all human and animal life (at least in this dimension).

Jackie is cute but annoying. I think she’s supposed to be one of these characters that you laugh at but start to sympathize with, like Cher in CLUELESS. At first she seems like an idiot but then she knows how to operate a wrecking ball and the lighting controls at the L.A. zoo. At the end she’s apparently in love with Dar and real sad that he’s going back to his dimension. I don’t know if I buy that, though. Yeah, she had fun, discovered her inner heroine, saved the world and learned to appreciate ferrets, but she’s gotta be exhausted. It’s like having out of town guests. Even if it goes well you’re gonna be kind of relieved when you return to peace and quiet. You can only take care of a shirtless warrior and a bunch of wild inter-dimensional animals for so long before you need a break from it.

The director is Sylvio Tabet, the producer of part 1 who apparently was responsible for kicking Coscarelli out of the editing room and using outtakes to lengthen the scenes so it would be longer and less good. He produced some things, directed hundreds of commercials, and only this one movie. It didn’t seem to me like it was that well written, but it must’ve been because there was a pretty huge team responsible. First they give it up to Andre Norton for the novel, then Paul Pepperman and Don Coscarelli for the characters, and the screenplay is credited to R.J. Robertson (MUNCHIE STRIKES BACK), Jim Wynorski (976-EVIL II), Tabet (associate producer of Jodorowsky’s disowned elephant movie TUSK), Ken Hauser and Doug Miles. And the last four have “&” which means they were working together on it, which just logistically must’ve made the whole thing a real challenge. How the fuck do you type with that many fingers?

I feel that this is a shitty movie, but I don’t regret seeing it. At least the stupid moments and bad ideas keep coming in a steady stream, keeping my interest. There are way too many goofy touches to list them all here. Like the pointless subplot about how Dar and Arklon are (SPOILER) actually brothers. Go figure that the one born from the womb of a cow is the one that turned out good. Also I got a laugh from the reveal that the (not even that bad) facial scars that Arklon so dramatically hides were given to him by… the fucking bird. So out of the blue he brings up an old vendetta against a bird. But does a poor job of killing it. Not a very good evil sorcerer in my opinion, can’t even see that the bird is still breathing.

Even director/one-eighth-writer Tabet admits that it was a stupid idea to take this fantasy hero out of a fantasy setting and make yet another lame fish-out-of-water comedy in a phony Hollywood version of a modern city. In the first one Dar was pretty cool and he fought cool monsters, now the movie just laughs at him and has him stare wide-eyed at porn theaters and stuff. Maybe it would be fun if he went ape shit when the cops caught him, chopped up a bunch of guys in his escape and the tiger was biting people’s faces off, but there’s nothin extreme like that.

This was 1991, but this type of concept seems like kind of an ’80s holdover. Same premise as MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE in ’87, for example, or a reverse of STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME in ’86. If Hollywood is ever interested in putting a stop to the modern age of fantasy filmmaking I recommend sending some of the new guys Through the Portal of Time. In fact I have a strong feeling that Peter Jackson is gonna do it in his second THE HOBBIT movie. Why else would you turn that kid’s book into two movies unless the second one was about Bilbo and Gandalf in modern L.A. learning about texting and being confused by watching (popular reality show that youths know about). And Gandalf smokes that big pipe with some stoner dudes. A bunch of Orcs fit in really well at Burning Man and decide to stay. This would get Jackson around those New Zealand union troubles too because they could film it on the cheap in L.A. or Vancouver. Think about it WETA.

Other possible candidates: WOLFHOUND, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, PAN’S LABYRINTH. But I guess the fantasy movies don’t want to do a part 2 like that because of their precious trilogies. If they don’t got the balls we’ll have to settle for a sequel to a period piece. Try a BRAVEHEART 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME. Or a GLADIATOR. Or IP MAN. Or SHUTTER ISLAND. Or ZODIAC. Without your help, Hollywood, the Portal of Time will remain stuck in time.



This entry was posted on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 at 3:18 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

156 Responses to “Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time”

  1. This movie is an embarrassing mistake. Gotta love the first Beastmaster… Ay, Tanya!

  2. “At one point he sees Beastmaster II on the marquee at the Pantages and looks confused. I don’t get it.”

    Vern – Buddy, you said before that L.A. was in an alternate reality of Beastmaster World, so I suppose the (lame) gag was that BEASTMASTER in the L.A. world was just a movie.

    I wonder if this L.A. world also has TBS on cable, you know The Beastmaster Station. Or HBO, Hey Beastmaster’s On.’

    Remember those days kids?

  3. I really liked the first Beastmaster. I thought it was pretty badass when I was about nine. On par with The Sword And The Sorcerer, well pretty close.

  4. I know it was not a portal, but Highlander pulled the olden days/modern age thingy off well. Also another film that was pretty badass to me as a ten year old. Don’t know how it would hold up now.

  5. There actually was a present-day sequel (sort of) written for GLADIATOR, by Nick Cave, of all people. It began with Maximus getting into hi-jinx in the afterlife and getting reincarnated to fight over the centuries, ending up in the Pentagon war room…

  6. My mom rented BEASTMASTER II: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME for my little sister & me when I was, like, 10. I enjoyed it. Now let us never consider the matter again.

  7. Jam – Yeah that sounded so wacky inspired.

  8. I just noticed, that you have apparently never reviewed Coscarelli’s BUBBA HO-TEP, or how I call it, “The most underrated masterpiece of the last decade!”

  9. CJ, is right Bubba Ho-Tep is great.

    Also, other then the Portal of Time movies which you already mentioned there is the similar sub-genera of the alien that fell to earth version of those films like MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN, and SUBURBAN COMMANDO.

  10. This one is missing in your ALL REVIEWS index!

  11. The classic Vern archive has it. Some things have slipped through the cracks. Mostly old aintitcool stuff.

  12. Thanks fellas, I got BUBBA HO-TEP transferred over. Now I’m trying to figure out if I really didn’t review SURVIVAL QUEST and INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD because I could’ve sworn I did. Please let me know if you notice any other old Ain’t It Cool ones that are missing in the database.

    Also, I was thinking maybe THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORTAL CALL WHITECHAPEL where Nic Cage travels back in time, gets addicted to opium and absinthe and frames some guy as Jack the Ripper.

  13. Vern, Man-Thing and the VHS pile article with Frankenfish are two more.

  14. Andy C – Remember when Marvel used to do those annual GIANT-SIZE special edition comics for their titles? So yes folks, this was really published….GIANT-SIZE MAN-THING.


  15. The NeverEnding Story: Through The Portal of Time

    G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Hollywood? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
    Atreyu: But why is Hollywood dying, then?
    G’mork: Because creative people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
    Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
    G’mork: It’s the reality shows that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
    Atreyu: But why?
    G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!
    Atreyu: Who are you, really?
    G’mork: I am the studio executive, giving noted and scriptwriting by committee from the pop-culture junkyard.

    etc., etc.

  16. I remember watching this when I was a kid on TBS and USA Network. They ran this thing about 12 times a day.

  17. Did you ever review The Sword And The Sorcerer? I thought I’d seen it on the list.

  18. The original Paul

    November 21st, 2010 at 6:25 am

    Another excellent review of a film I’m probably never going to see. :(

  19. BR Baraka’s post is the Truth.

    Anytime there’s more than 1 writer on a project, it scares me how bad that project will probably be.

  20. Mouth – There are exceptions. See ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.

  21. (“Probably” being the operative word.)

    And you know what the best scene in that movie is, RRA? The beginning, when there is absolutely no dialogue for several minutes.

  22. And what about GALAXY QUEST, the imo 2nd best film of the 90’s?* It was re-written from a dark humored R-rated comedy into a PG rating by the guy who later wrote MEN IN BLACK 2 and it’s still awesome!

    *Everything in this movie works so perfectly. The direction, the characters, the actors and most of all the script, with its perfect mix of parody & homage as well as comedy & real adventure!

  23. Mouth: strictly speaking, just because there’s no dialogue doesn’t necessarily mean that more than one writer had a hand in it. I’ve worked on things where I ended up rewriting out most of the dialogue…

  24. Yes, there are many exceptions.

    All I’m trying to say is, generally speaking, a product with 1 writer is more likely to earn my respect and admiration than a product from several writers. I always anticipate something cool when I know that what I’m watching is probably the closest thing a guy could get to his/her original vision for the thing.

    That originality, that oneness, that pure, initial germ of a pure idea is often tainted or ruined when you see multiplicity of authorship.

    Also, scenes with no dialogue generally have the greatest chance to endure and facilitate catharsis when I watch them because, like many of us would-be artists & young amateur scribblers, I was raised with the imperative maxim “Show, don’t tell.”

  25. Mouth – I get your point, except when I see more than one “and” credit in the writing credits, well thats when I panic.

    If I remember right, the difference between “&” and “and” WGA writing credits is that “&” denotes a joint-writing partnership. Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio are partners who of course wrote those damn PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN pictures and SHREK, all that shit. “and” is different people/groups who worked on the same project, but not together and not at the same time. Consider all the fucking writers brought in to polish a shitburger like ARMAGEDDON, including AsimovLives’ favorite moviemaker, J.J. Abrams. Or is it Jar Jar Abrams? I can’t remember.

    Another exception to the “and” rule of yours (I know I know, but its still worth pointing out) was the original SUPERMAN movie. Yeah you had Mario Puzo and sevearl others, but of the final product we got on the screen, that was basically Tom Mankiewicz’s draft.

    Off-topic, but I read somewhere that one of the SUPERMAN producers had wanted to hire Steven Spielberg, but this was like pre-JAWS and well WB wanted to wait and see Stevie’s big fish movie before even considering hiring him. Of course JAWS was JAWS and Stevie went on. Opps.

  26. If I’m not mistaken Nick Cave (of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) wrote a script for Gladiator 2 that would have had Maximus revived by the gods and allowed to join the greatest battles of history. I always had a mixed reaction to this approach. On the one hand, a sequel to any film where the protagonist dies is probably a bad idea. However, if you were to go ahead with a sequel, I could think of worse ways to do so than sending your hero through history’s greatest wars. Besides, I’ve always liked Nick Cave.

  27. Mouth; I see where you’re coming from, but many writers work in pairs and many more directors make uncredited rewrites , either in pre-production or on-set. it’s when you get the Written by X, Y & L, M that I get worried (i.e. ARMAGEDDON). The comment about the WGA by RRA is true too, though: look at at the egregious credits for FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.

    Rbatty; fifth comment down. THE PROPOSITION was great, I’d love to read GLADIATOR: PORT OF CALL ETERNAL CONFLICT!


  29. I guess I’m late to the party. Can you actually read Nick Cave’s Gladiator 2 script, or is it one of those aborted Hollywood films we’re all going to have to individually imagine?

  30. Mouth – to build on RRA’s comments, unfortunately you can’t even really trust the credits of films when it comes to issues of sole/group authorship. The WGA (that’s the goddamn writer’s guild to you!) has all sorts of crazy rules that make credits kind of inaccurate sometimes. Like for instance, if someone writes a spec script and a studio buys it but wants a rewrite, and then the second writer comes in and writes a whole new script from scratch, the original writer still gets at least a “story by” credit. If the director does a rewrite, (s)he often doesn’t receive any credits, because the WGA has rules to prevent directors from stealing the thunder of writers.

    So basically you have situations where multiple writers will turn out a product where one writer is credited, and situations where one writer will turn out a product where multiple writers are credited. It’s a mess, and I blame the unions.

    I do appreciate the sentiment that stronger films often result from the singularity of one writer, but you often have to go a step further if you want that sense of sole authorship. Unless the writer is also directing, their vision is contaminated by someone else.

    However, there is also a lot to be said for the sentiment “writing is rewriting”, whether it’s the original writer doing the rewriting or not. There are a lot of half baked scripts out there, and some of our greatest films are the results of artistic filmmakers having to struggle against the adversity of a meddling studio/producer/financier. You know how many legendary directors end up making garbage late in their career? I have a feeling this is partly because people stop telling them NO.

  31. “[T]heir vision is contaminated by someone else” because THEY ARE WHORES!

  32. RBatty024 – I’m sure it’ll be locked in a drawer somewhere much like Paul Schrader’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND* and John Milius’ third CONAN movie and so forth.

    Gwai Lo – the WGA rule on directors is that they can get writing credit if they’re proven to have rewritten 70% of the script to their particular vision. Of course what exactly “is” 70% of a script in a project that might had several drafts sent and burned, and alot of ideas were there from the beginning?

    I suppose from current Hollywood the most productive method is the one used at Pixar where you (usually) have a gang of credited writers, but its common knowledge (and openly admitted) that all the Pixar creative bigwigs from Lasseter to Bird and Doctor all pitch ideas and suggestions. And since many of them are directors and been working together for maybe 15-10 years give or take, its not like ideas are being hoarded for their own projects.

    Of course some people bitch and criticize this group effort as Movie by Committee, but fuck it man look at the Pixar movie series. That level of consistency isn’t by accident.

    *=His idea to explain religious phenomenon (“Angels”) on visiting aliens apparently freaked the shit out of Spielberg. Funny enough, James Cameron would actually incorporate that gimmick on THE ABYSS and even earlier, Arthur C. Clarke had played that card in his seminal CHILDHOOD’S END book.

  33. Rbatty: the script is out there somewhere, maybe only a click or two away. Most screenplays are distributed digitally, so it doesn’t take much for a producer’s assistant or studio reader to save one aside.

    For instance, that Paul Verhoeven/Walon WILD BUNCH Green/Arnold Schwarzenegger CRUSADES script is relatively easy to source…

  34. CJ – Speaking of which, can you explain the phenomenon that is the German Trekkie? Why you all so damn hardcore unlike the rest of us?

  35. I read Cave’s Gladiator 2 script some time back and, honestly, I think it’s pretty great.

    Don’t know where it was located when I did, but a quick google gives me: http://www.mypdfscripts.com/unproduced/gladiator-2-by-nick-cave

  36. Good link, ironcups, cheers.

  37. RRA: I don’t even know if we are that hardcore, although our biggest (and meanwhile only) SciFi convention is not just known for its good vibration and especially the saturday night party at the hotel bar, it also got an unexpected shoutout in the DVD bonus material of one of the NEXT GENERATION movies, when Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes suddenly start to talk about the “rock star status” they got there. (So yeah, maybe we are hardcore. But in a good way.)

  38. Of topic. Vern, a penny for your thoughts about that new dre+snoop single. Detox is out soon baby! for real!

  39. Is it actually worth hearing? Dre’s been making bland, overprocessed keyboard mush for over a decade now. He’s basically a Muzak composer. His beats make me feel like I’m on hold.

    This is coming from a guy who still owns a EFIL4ZAGGIN T-shirt, by the way.

  40. http://www.moviehole.net/201033811-pics-and-trailer-from-seagals-new-tv-series

    I’m not sure why it never posted but I’ll try again. This is the scripted Seagal series they’re trying to find a home for.

  41. Yeah they have it up at AICN as well.


    It’s been a few years since I’ve been in Seattle but I don’t remember it being so crime filled and dangerous, recession I guess.

    It doesn’t look too bad, Seagal looks like he’s trying, also with 24 gone there’s not really any weekly TV series that has a similar level of action, this looks like they’re really going for broke with what they can afford on a TV budget which is cool. Team Seagal could potentially be entertaining if they’re a interesting selection of characters. Other than that the few snippets of script sound really terrible.

  42. These days Dr. Dre does not even produce his own beats most of the time, he has someone he “mentors” make a beat then he just tweaks a few things and put’s some polish on it and call’s it a Dr. Dre beat.

  43. Actually, I think his work on Relapse was underrated. It is true though that the album didn’t have the impact on the industry like his previous albums form the late 80’s and 90’s had. 11 years are a long time and can put doubt in the hearts of the most devoted disciples. But still, we talking about the Kubrik of music hare and I can’t believe that if he has something out it will be something less then a masterpiece.

  44. Speaking of music, I just included this on a post I made in the talk back for Time For a New List because I didn’t know where the best place to post it was but it is a link to a best of John Carpenter scores mixtape.


    Also, here is a link to the site it came from.


    I am sorry if I am over doing it with my double post but this is something I think everyone here will really enjoy.

  45. And yet I’ve worked on interviews with dozens of producers and they all say that it only takes about five minutes to make a beat on a computer. It’s just about the easiest thing you can do musically besides playing the fucking wood block.

    God, I hate hip-hop.

  46. KUSH, Dre does have a great track record, but even going back to The Chronic 2001 he is less of a composer of music then an overseer of music production. Also calling Dre the Kubrik of music is a stretch. He is nowhere near as good a producer as the RZA and I wouldn’t even call the RZA the Kubrik of music.

  47. Charles – these rumors about Dre doing nothing are not new. They’ve been talking about that 20 years ago. The fact is that nobody seems get the results that his ‘little polish” always gets.

  48. Charles, RZA was hot for a few years in the mid 90’s, but let’s face it – he didn’t bring anything new to table since then. The thing about Dre is that he changed Hip Hop for so many times and for so many decades. Without Dre we wouldn’t have NWA, Ice Cube, Snoop, Eminem (though I admit that 50 and Game are not on that level). Come to think about it, he is more like the Yuen Wu Ping of Hip Hop – He made NWA, Cube, Snoop and Em like Yuen made Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Matrix and Kill Bill. They both changed the medium they are working in time and time again. Don’t get me twisted, I like RZA and the Wu, but they are not on THAT level.

  49. Dr. Dre is more like the George Lucas of music he has good business savvy and is more of a behind the scenes guy. At this time he is more of a brand then an actual artist. He is not creating the music he attaches his name to as much as he is overseeing and facilitating it’s creation.

  50. Maybe. Let’s wait and see. Detox is out in February.

  51. KUSH, I put the RZA above Dre because he produced 7 classic albums.

    Enter The 36 Chambers
    Liquid Swords
    Only Built For Cuban Links
    Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
    Wutang Forever

    Not only did he produce those albums he crafted most of the beats on them. Dr. Dre has a great ear and good business sense but he is not the artist the RZA is. Also the main reason the RZA does not produce beats the way he used to is he got bored with it, and does not want to sample anymore as much as he wants to compose actual music. Unfortunately, the current hip-hop climate has become so dumbed down and commercial there is not much of a market for the more sophisticated production style and live instrumentation the RZA is doing these days. If you want to turn this into a debate about making money Dre will win, but if you are talking talent there is no competition.

  52. Charles- it is true that Dre is more successful commercially but I wasn’t talking about that. All RZA classics were made in a spin of five years while Dre, who is less prolific, been dictating new sounds and top rappers for the industry since the 80’s. Also, Dre productions are LIVE as well. There is only one sample in the whole 2001 album, belive it or not. I find it hard to belive that a man that changed music time and time again, has been doing that not because he is a musical genius, but only by sheer coincidence and the fact the he is a sharp businessman.

  53. Well I wish he didn’t have a fuckin robot singing on that track, but the beat is pretty good.

  54. KUSH, I understand the point you are trying to make, but you are giving Dre credit where he does not deserve it. Much of the music you are pointing to as examples of Dre’s ability as a producer is produced by someone else and Dre is just putting his name on it. I believe the beats for The Chronic 2001 were mainly crafted by Mel Man and Scott Storch. Also, Dre’s lyrics on the album where all written by Eminem, Snoop, and Jay-Z. Even going back to Doggy Style Dre took credit for a lot of music produced by Daz. What Dre does is the same thing that Timbaland and many other producers do, they find talented musicians who have little to no notoriety and they “mentor” them. Which means they take the music of the person they are mentoring and turn around and sell it as music they personally created because their name/brand alone is what sells the music. For example, If told you there was a new hot single featuring some no name rapper you most likely would not be that interested, but if I told you Dre produced it then I bet you would give it a listen. Dr. Dre knows this and exploits it for his financial gain. Dr. Dre may have his name associated with a large body of music throughout the years, but he did not create much of the music you are giving him credit for. Detox very well could be a good album, but if you think Dre is actually crafting the music that will be on it you are fooling yourself.

  55. The upcoming SMURFS movie is a “through the portal of time” film with them going to present day New York.

  56. Stu, the only way that could be good is if it were a hard R SMURFS “through the portal of time” movie with gratuitous violence, sex and drugs. Let’s be serious, if Gargamel came to NY city he would get an 8 ball and some whores and forget all about those little blue guys. Also, most of the smurfs would be devoured by giant sewer rats.

  57. Charles- I didn’t say that Dre creates his music all by himself. You can argue the same things about George Clinton or James Brown. They all were surrounded by great musicians and they were the only ones who new how to use all this talent in order to get a perfect result. Dre didn’t steal credits from Mell Man and Scrotch. Read the credits on the album. As for Daz producing Doggystyle I would say this is a baseless rumor. Just compare the richness and sophistication of something like “California Love” with the mediocre shit that Daz produced for Pac or the sound of DOGGYSTYLE with that of that of inferior Daz produced DOGG FOOD (or any other of Daz productions) . I’m sorry, but this rumor is bulshit.

  58. Dr. Dre is responsible for or attached to 3 of the top 10 rap albums of all time. I’ll take DOGGYSTYLE & either of THE CHRONICs over any Wu ever.

    As far as disciples and colleagues, I’ll take Nate Dogg or Tha Eastsidaz easily over Raekwon or most Wu individual efforts.

    I love my NY rap, but Dre easily wins this little pseudobattle with RZA.

    And sorry to get all controversial here, but it has to be said:
    ENCHANTED remains the standard by which all portal-plot-based films shall be judged.

  59. The original Paul

    November 22nd, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Completely off-topic here: it’s one week until Machete FINALLY appears in cinemas over here. I’ll be sure to comment in the Machete thread once I’ve seen it.

  60. KUSH, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree about Dr. Dre. I am not saying that Mel-Man and Scott Storch were never credited for the work they did, I am saying Dr. Dre slapped his name on the work they did when he did little to no work on it. Again you are giving him credit for work others did just because he put his name on it. The only thing Dr. Dre really brings to the table is the marketability of his name/brand. I don’t know how you can discredit the fact that Daz did work on some of the beats for Doggy Style and Dre took credit for the work he did. This has been confirmed by numerous people that where involved with the making of Doggy Style. In addition I find it humorous that you would use California Love as your example of rich and sophisticated production by Dr. Dre. California Love is well produced from a technical stand point but it is a straight beat jack, and completely unoriginal pop radio trash designed to capitalize on Dre’s mainstream creditability to introduce a fresh out of jail 2 Pac to the masses. The tune for California Love was taken from Joe Cocker’s song “Woman to Woman”, and “California knows how to party” lines listing Los Angeles County neighborhoods are sung by Roger Troutman. The vocals “In the City of Compton” and the other cities and “California knows how to party” is taken from Ronnie Hudson and the Street People’s “West Coast Poplock”. The remix features sample from the song “Intimate Connection” by Kleeer written by Norman Durham and Woody Cunningham. It is sampling at it’s most lazy, and could only come across as hip and fresh to the uneducated. It was also only 1 of 2 songs Dre produced for All Eyez On Me the other being the forgettable Can’t C Me featuring a lazy George Clinton beat jack. While Dre only produced 2 songs for All Eyez On Me, Daz produced 5 tracks including the excellent Ambitionz Az a Ridah, I Ain’t Mad at Cha, and 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted featuring Snoop.

  61. Mouth, I love me some Nate Dogg, but the Outsidaz are mediocre at best. I am curious, what would you say are the top 10 hip-hop albums of all time? I would have both The Chronic and Doggy Style in my top ten but I don’t know if I would put them ahead of Enter The 36 Chambers or Only Built 4 Cuban Links.

    Just to be clear, I know it seems like I am being hard on Dr. Dre but the dude is overrated and has been living off his name for a long time. He is one of the all time great hip-hop producers, but far from the best. He is probably the most commercially successful producer in hip-hop, but that does not mean he is the most talented. By that logic Micheal Bay would be the best director because his films make so much money.

  62. I am enjoying the Beastmaster II hip-hop discussion and likewise the punk discussion in the previous thread. I think we need a ‘Music Shit’ thread. Over here at Vern’s we ain’t all about that comicbook shit! Y’all are some multi-faceted Renaissance Men around here!

    Majestyk, I used to hate hip-hop too until I discovered the gateway drug of Girl Talk (new album is a free download btw for those that don’t know at http://illegal-art.net/allday/) and I must say I’m at least becoming a fan of the vocals, which makes me wonder if I’ve just had a problem with the music itself all along.

    Fellas, if at the ripe old age of 37 I want to branch out into hip-hop, where do I begin? Is Wu-Tang Clan a good place to begin to get some appreciation? I’d for the most part like to stick well away from Top 40 but I understand those folks have some credibility. I literally haven’t listened to a hip-hop album since getting my hands on an old Too Short tape in like 1992.

  63. Bryan, when i say I hate hip-hop, I mean I hate what it’s become. I grew up on it in the late eighties, early nineties, and the stuff I hear now just sounds so boring and anemic compared to that. I imagine it’s how old punks feel about Green Day.

    But I do like Girl Talk. It’s just about the only way I can handle southern rap. Of course, it only points out all the millions of interesting directions hip-hop could be taken in if anybody actually gave a damn, which in turn makes me sad. Nobody seems to be striving for excellence anymore.

    If you want a good gateway drug, I still think the early-to-mid-nineties heyday is the place to start. It’s not shouty or mumbly, the lyrics usually aren’t completely shallow and abhorrent, and the music (since it’s created by samples of actual instruments, not computers) sounds like, well, music. I would recommend Gang Starr’s as a nice entry point, particularly “Daily Operation” or “Hard To Earn”. There’s nothing you have to forgive about either of those albums. They have something to say without being preachy and the production is sophisticated without putting you to sleep.

    However, if you still like Too Short you can basically pick up any of his albums because they all sound the same. Which is not a bad thing. He’s the AC/DC of rap.

  64. Bryan, Girl Talk is excellent and way better then most of the hip-hop being created these days. I would say check out any of the Wu albums I listed in my previous post, also Illmatic by Nas is a classic. In addition check out anything by Redman (Whut? The Album is his best), A Tribe Called Quest (People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm and Midnight Marauders are their best), Gang Starr (Moment Of Truth is a classic), or Outkast (They are all good but I would start with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik). For something more conceptual that is not by any means mainstream I would recommend the amazing Deltron 3030 produced by Dan the Automator and featuring rhymes by Del the Funky Homosapien. If you are familiar with the Gorillaz you might recognize Dan the Automator as the producer of their first album and Del is the MC on the classic song Clint Eastwood from that album.

  65. Thanks Mr. Majestyk, I appreciate the input. From what you’re saying, it sounds like hip-hop’s pretty much in the same place as punk these days. Sad. The difference for me between the two has always been that on the punk/indie side of things toiling in relative obscurity has always been a point of pride to those who truly care more about the music, whereas hip-hop to me has always been blatantly about making money. With profitability as your main goal, you are bound to begin appealing to the lowest common denominator. Selling-out IS success, not a potential pitfall thereof. You’re right, it all comes down to striving for excellence- like most things in this life. But I don’t want my 90s indie rock idealism to keep me away from legitimately interesting music, that’s not helping anyone.

    I’ll track down some Gang Starr, and yeah, I have nothing but fond memories of Too Short…

  66. Oh boy, Charles with the top 10 prompt. Hmmmm:


    2-10. other

    Somewhere in there is BLUEPRINT, PAID IN FULL, and probably a couple other albums that most hip hop heads agree are classics.

    And I’d also include awesome works like DJ Green Lantern’s CONSPIRACY THEORY: INVASION, PART 2 and some dubiously semiauthorized mixes I got from middlemen of DJ Clue, Cam’ron’s early producers, and others working out of a basement where Manhattan becomes Harlem. Believe it or not, from early 2001 until GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’ came out, G-Unit’s 50 Cent & Lloyd Banks were the best unaired mixtape rappers on the planet. Their product cost $5 and came with a 1 page cover booklet that looked like it was printed on the cheap and then photocopied; shit was raw.

  67. Mr. Majestyk, is right hip-hop peeked creatively in the early 90’s and has been on a decline since. However, As far as recent hip-hop artists go I would recommend Kid Kudi. The dude is very talented and pushes the boundaries of what is considered hip-hop music.

  68. Thanks Charles, wow, I’m getting quite a list here, that’s awesome. I appreciate the guidance, gents!

  69. On the hip-hop issue : I agree to a point that today’s hip-hop is pretty fucking boring . Yes , TV and radio are full of canned shit , and , uh , the Black Eyed Peas consider themselves a hip-hop act ? ( I’m sorry to bring that up , but I always find it amusing ). I started listening to it in the late 80’s and I know the feeling of a lot of fans of this music right now , but we can’t just consider everything out there boring or uninspired . Feels like old-timey talk . I really like Cannibal Ox , Mr. Lif and Murs from Def Jux , for example , and I really believe ( Cannibal Ox in particular ) that these guys will be considered pioneers in a couple of years . Oh , fuck it , I really like half of the artists on that label , it’s awesome!

  70. Bryan, hip-hop used to be about keeping it real and not being a part of the industry similar to punk, but in the late 90’s there was a tipping point where it became more about record sales and materialism and hip-hop became creatively stagnant. What happened was once hip-hop had provide to be a financially viable form of music record labels flooded the market with formulaic product designed to cash in on the hip-hop boom of the 90’s.

  71. Bryan, hip-hop has always been about money, but it wasn’t always about selling out. Like De La Soul said, “I might blow up but I won’t go pop.” Rappers wanted to get rich on their own terms. There used to be as virulent a strain of keepinitrealism in hip-hop as there was in punk. You could get your career deaded just for putting an R&B singer on a hook back in the day.

    Actually, now that you mention it, go get some De La while you’re at it. Skip “3 Feet High & Rising” (a classic, I know, but it sounds dated and slight now. It’s a next-level purchase) and get “De La Soul Is Dead” or the criminally underrated “Buhloone Mind State.” They’re both weird, complex albums that get better and better with every listen.

    Also, The Beatnuts’ “Street Level.” A great mix of shameless ignorance and top-notch production. Every lyric is a punchline, every beat is a killer.

    And Charles is right about Redman. It’s a shame that he’s kind of known as a Flavor Flav type now. Here is a retrospective review of his first album that I wrote for Smooth Magazine, which I edit:

    The word “genius” gets tossed around so much that it’s lost most of its value, but there’s really no other way to describe Brick City’s #1 son. When it comes to the nearly forgotten art of emceeing, Redman, a.k.a. Reggie Noble, a.k.a. Funk Doctor Spot (whatever the hell that means), is operating at a level beyond what mere mortals can comprehend. Nowhere are his preternatural verbal gifts more evident than on his stone-classic debut album. His inimitable flow is funny yet hardcore, precise yet casual, remarkably intricate yet seemingly created in the heat of the moment. Always in danger of stumbling offbeat, Redman’s verses walk a fine line between technical precision and stream-of-consciousness rambling, bridging the gap between stupid-def rappers like Biz Markie and machine-tooled technicians like Big Daddy Kane. On later albums, Redman’s resin-clogged beats would often get too murky to hold listeners’ attention for the duration, but on Whut?, his mentor Erick Sermon delivers a cosmic slop of Parliament samples and boom-bap drums that bolster his protégé’s unhinged lyricism. Whether Red is spinning a tall tale of sexual exploits (“A Day of Sooperman Lover”), arguing with himself (“Redman Meets Reggie Noble”), or just making words rhyme for the sheer joy of it (“Da Funk”), his one-of-a-kind personality shines through. Somehow, he’s both larger than life and down to earth, a superhero and a class clown. In anybody else, this would seem like a mass of contradictions. But that’s the genius of Redman.

    Mouth: Your favorite rap albums are the ones that killed mine. I like Biggie and Jay-Z. but they were the beginning of the end. We can still be friends, though. (And not just because you’re the last person on earth I want to be enemies with.)

  72. Mouth, it is hard to come up with my top 10 with out giving it some real thought but these albums would all make the list.

    Enter The 36 Chambers
    Doggy Style
    The Chronic
    Only Built 4 Cuban Links
    Ready To Die
    Reasonable Doubt
    Moment Of Truth

    I would put these albums in my top 10 based on listenability. For example can you listen to it from start to finish without wanting to skip tracks. I also factored in the influence they had on hip-hop, and how well they have held up over time.

    CallMeKermiT, Def Jux is a great label. I love Murs, El-P and the stuff RJD2 did on Def Jux. Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox is one of the best underground hip-hop records of the past decade.

  73. Kermit: I know it doesn’t all suck. Every year there are a few hip-hop albums that I like. But the guys you’re mentioning can’t exactly be called “new.” Every one of them has been around for over a decade, since the late nineties “backpacker” movement that spawned Rawkus Records and other similar labels, a movement that is now very much a part of the past. What rappers will you stand up for who came out in the past year or two?

  74. Here’s a rap about Robocop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUnMF7dV86k

    Anyone heard that stuff Dre did with Burt Bacharach a while back? I’d be mildly curious but not expecting anything terribly interesting. Dre’s output since Doggystyle (much like Snoop’s) is well below the standard of what he did before then.

  75. Charles, I didn’t say that Daz didn’t produce songs for AIOM, I said that his work there (or any other work he did) is less memorable than the two songs Dre produced there. By describing the many different layers of California Love you are just proving my point about the richness and sophistication of the track. I don’t see how Roger is ‘pop trash’ but maybe I’m not as educated as you are. Daz’s productions are primitive, you won’t find so many layers there. Any track that RZA did is based on samples of other materials (mainly old 60’s soul songs). Does that make him wack?
    As for the ‘people who confirmed Daz work on Doggystyle’ – these are Suge’s people who were pissed off when Dre left ‘Death Row’. They’ll say anything to discredit the master. That doesn’t make it true. We’ve seen what happened to that label when Dre left them with Daz’s beats.
    Btw, I don’t know how you claim to know what Dre actually did because you weren’t there with him in the studio. And remember – When you diss Dre You diss yourself.

  76. Oops, I left out Whut? The Album from my top 10 list. I need to be more careful.

    Mr. Majestyk, great review. Redman, is the most underrated MC, and he is hilarious. Have you seen the episode of MTV’s Cribs featuring Redman? I hate Cribs but the Redman episode is great.

  77. Ok, so I tend to disregard any and all music that gains a national (or international) spotlight- for the most part. (perhaps that’s ignorance or snobby but it’s worked for me.) I can’t think of anything I listen to that ever got played on commercial radio and came out after about Nevermind. Girl Talk might be the exception (in terms of wide appeal), but I consider albums made entirely of samples, released for free and unannounced to be pretty punk in ethos if not actual content. This point of view has worked out pretty well for me when it comes to punk/rock/indie music, although I haven’t found as much new music in recent years as I did back in the day (pretty much purely from lack of trying). It sounds like trying to apply this philosophy to hip-hop won’t work, as some of the best stuff on that side of the aisle truly does become popular. Is this a valid interpretation? Are there super-obscure hip-hop artists that never get any widespread attention, just like there are on the rock side of things? This might be completely stupid question but I’m truly trying to wrap my head around the similarities and differences at play here. I’m trying to form my frame of reference. Would anyone here make the argument that the best hip-hop will never appeal to the masses? Cuz I’d always be one to make that argument about rock.
    And I’m not saying that all the picks you guys are giving me here are Top 40, but I, as someone pleading to hip-hop ignorance, have heard most of the names, so they have all found a modicum of success.

  78. KUSH, I am not against sampling. Hip-hop is built on sampling, but there is a difference between the way the RZA, DJ Premier, Prince Paul, or Eric Sermon sample a brake beat and craft it into something new and original versus what someone like Diddy and at times Dre have been guilty of doing, and that is just taking a beat from another song without doing much to modify or change the original beat and re-purposing it for a mainstream audience that is most likely unfamiliar with the original.

    Also, you are right I have never been in the studio with Dre but I feel that I am pretty well read and informed when it comes to hip-hop, and unless you can show me evidence to the contrary I am standing by my statements about Dre.

  79. Kush, also I want to apologize if you feel that anything I have wrote in response to your posts is a personal attack on you. I feel like it may have come across this way, and if so I am sorry. I do not have to agree with you to respect your opinion. If I have not been respectful I apologize.

  80. Eminem says Redman is the best rapper alive.

    There was a 2 month period in college when I refused to listen to anything but Reggie Noble. Sometimes I would come home and a roommate would have something else playing on the computer and I would immediately go and change it to Cosmic Slop or something and proclaim, “That isn’t Redman. This is Redman.” Mainly, I behaved so petulantly b/c I thought it was funny, but there was certainly the added bonus that I had Redman filling our earholes all the time.

  81. Charles – It’s all good, no hard feelings. Let’s agree that we are both educated and well read about Hip Hop, we just interpret shit differently.
    Still, I don’t understand why I have to bring proof against something that Suge or Suge’s people said when they were pissed that Dre left them. Yes’ I read that book too. Any reasonable person will not take such claims seriously. They also said that Dre is gay. So fucking what.
    Unlike you, I’m not basing my argument on baseless rumors but on what I hear. And I didn’t hear any classics from Daz. When you compare Daz track record to Dre’s you can see for yourself that there is no way that Daz produced Doggystyle.

  82. I understand that rap has really broken down a lot of walls but who here talking about hip hop are black and Americans? I’m just honestly curious.

  83. These lists are good, but frighteningly low on Straight Outta Compton and (in my opinion the clear #1 of all time forever) It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back.

    I think Podo and Kodo would agree with me on this.

  84. I have an idea for a comedy action movie that parodies the ninja craze of the early 90’s

    in it an ancient good ninja and bunch of evil ninjas go through a portal in time to early 90’s LA and the good ninja befriends some kids, an example of the humor would be a scene where the kids think having a ninja friend is awesome until evil ninjas break into their house and the good ninja lops all their heads off, spraying blood all over their living room, it would also parody just about everything that was ridiculous about the early 90’s

    anyway I literally cannot fucking believe that Gladiator 2 script is real, that’s the craziest shit I’ve heard in ages

  85. For two years, between the ages of 12 and 14, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON was the only tape I had. I’d just flip it over and listen to it again when it was done. Even though I now have it on CD, I still expect the tape to crinkle halfway through “I Ain’t The One.”

  86. It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back is absolutely a classic and still hits hard. For me, however, its full listenability factor, which Charles rightly identified as a major criterion for all-time great status, is not as great as that of others in my top 10 ever. I love it, and young NWA from the left coast as well, but some of those vocals and beat squeals make me want to skip tracks or cut them short. (Same thing with the silly skits on READY TO DIE & CHRONIC 2001, but whatever they’re all classics.)

  87. I am sad that you guys continued to talk about rap and not my brilliant movie idea

  88. Mayeb if your ninjas went to early 90s LA and joined the Dogg Pound?

  89. Griff, if you want my greenlight, then your pitch needs more ENCHANTED.

  90. Mr. Majestyk : Yes , you’ve got a point there , they’re not exactly new artists ( Mr. Lif has , what ? , 5-6 records out ? ) , but I still think that they’re way more original , even after all these years , than the gangsta-aping of 90% of today’s radio hip-hop. Trying to compare shit like that to The Cold Vein , and especially the slow build-up to a song like Scream Phoenix , makes my head hurt. What I’m trying to say is that I’m glad that there are little labels like Def Jux still pushing for quality music and original ideas , even in this day and age .

    Oh , and I’m more of a Fear of a Black Planet / Apocalypse 91 man , myself .

  91. Hang on, “the good ninja lops all their heads off, spraying blood all over their living room” is supposed to make them stop thinking the good ninja is awesome?

  92. well….how about they think it’s awesome at first, until their mom gets home?

  93. And makes them clean up the mess? That’d probably negate the awesomeness. They may inadvertently learn some martial arts skills while cleaning up though, like how to eight diagram pole fight through mopping, that tends to happen in these things.

  94. KUSH, I get your point, and you are right Suge tried his best to discredit Dr. Dre after he left Death Row. However, If I remember correctly Snoop was one of the people that said Daz did contribute some to the production of Doggy Style. He mentioned it in the context of talking about trying to squash the beef between Daz and Dre. Regardless, of anything I feel about Dre I do hope that Detox is a good album. I will be interested to hear your thoughts on it are in February.

    Lawrence, I am a white American, however I can relate to the life experience in hip-hop. I grew up poor on food stamps, and my best friend is paralyzed from the chest down because he was shot in a drive by.

    Vern, just like Mouth said listenability is the reason I do not have Straight Outta Compton and It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back on my list. They are both classic albums and extremely influential, but on a track to track basis I don’t feel they are as strong as the albums I included in my list. A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, and De La Soul are also three of my favorite all time hip-hop groups but none of them have 1 album strong enough from start to finish I would put it in my top 10. However, they all have prolific bodies of work.

    Also, Mouth brought up a good point about silly skits on hip-hop albums. This trend was popularized by De La on 3 Feet High And Rising and then everybody started doing it, and for the most part they are dumb. What is worse they are often not designated to their own track and are usually tacked on to the beginning or end of a song so even on CD you have to fast forward to the music. The thing is I can’t think of another genre of music that it is so common to find stupid skits peppered through an album.

  95. Bryan, there was a time where hip-hop like punk was more of a counter culture movement, but now for the most part it is creatively bankrupt. It is to corporate and everything has to fit a certain formula to be released by a major label. The best way I can describe what happen to hip-hop is the 90’s are to hip-hop, as the 70’s where to cinema. It was a time where creativity was encouraged and often rewarded at the box office, but once studios and labels saw the money that could be made it became more of a business and creativity took a back seat to profits. However, these days there are a lot of great mixtapes and street albums released outside of the studio system. Mouth mentioned the classic mixtapes 50 cent and the G-Unit put out prior to being signed by Shady Aftermath, and the mixtapes DJ Green Lantern put out while associated with Shady Aftermath, both are great examples of quality hip-hop being released outside of the studio system. More recently Drake’s street album So Far Gone he independently recorded and released is one of the best hip-hop albums in years, and way better then any music he has released since being signed to a major.

  96. Charles, thanks. I really enjoyed this conversation.

  97. Thanks Charles for the perspective, and thanks to everyone who gave recommendations. I’m gonna dip my toe in the water and see if I can find something to love here. Maybe I’ll let everyone know what I think somewhere down the line in ‘Potpourri’. I take the opinions here very seriously since you guys turned me on to ‘The Wire’. And that’s not even counting Vern turning me on to any number of occasionally great movies I never would have even known about.
    In conclusion, I will not be watching Beastmaster II.

  98. Bryan: Don’t forget Tricky’s MAXINQUAYE. And nobody’s mentioned The Roots yet?

  99. gentlemen, gentlemen, we all know unarguably the greatest rap act ever are The Fat Boys

    am I right or am I right?

  100. Griff – You are right.

    To fight for your right to PARRRRTY!

  101. CJ: I’ll see your bet and raise you:

  102. JARETH, I think the discussion is more about straight rap, where as Tricky is trip-hop. If we are talking about hip hop in a wider sense, I think this thread would include many more great artists, that haven’t been mentioned yet.

    Commenting on the idea that 90’s was the golden age of rap where it was still counter-culture, and later it has become strictly commercial… I’ll say bullshit. Rap and hip-hop in general lost its counter-culture roots and became a super-commercial, mainstream moneymaking machine already in the early 90’s. Doggystyle (1993) was probably the most important tide-turner. Every other white kid in my high school was dancing to Snoop’s beats back in the day, and gangsta rap videos were played on MTV in heavy rotation all the time.

    Hip hop as a musical genre hasn’t been counter-culture since the 80’s. There are artists who are clearly uncommercial and counter-culture, but the genre as a whole is not, and hasn’t been in a long time.

  103. Oh, and the best new hip hop group to come out lately is definitely Die Antwoord. These guys are awesome:


  104. Well played, Mr Cutestory. Well played. (I originally wanted to link to Joe Pesci’s [surprisingly good] WISE GUY song, but for any reason I can’t find it.)

    And can someone explain Die Antwoord to me? Are they meant to be taken seriously or are we talking about a Spinal Tap-ish parody situation here. I just don’t get them. Damn you, Sisqo!*

    *I had a theory a while ago that Sisqo’s THONG SONG was a real gamechanger in terms of humor and music. Before the THONG SONG it always seemed to be pretty obvious when someone wasn’t serious in his songs, but Sisqo upped the ARE YOU FOR REAL factor so much, that even bands like Dethklok, who originated in an Adult Swim cartoon, where it’s very obvious that their songs are meant to be funny, can pass as serious. I guess Die Antwoord are this year’s LMFAO. (See? They call themself LMFAO and I still got no idea if I’M IN MIAMI, BITCH was meant to be taken seriously or not!)

  105. tuukka: I’d be willing to argue that Tricky’s first four albums are as important to hip hop as Bowie’s Berlin albums are to classic rock, or The Specials’ first album is to punk. Sure, you could write a resonable history of either that excludes those works, but it’s much richer and diverse with them included.

    Also, Tricky himself calls his music hip hop, and hates the phrase “trip hop,” so I’m not going to pick a beef with him.

    CJ Holden: The only thing more astonishing than the idea of Joe Pesci singing is the idea Joe Pesci singing well. Bravo.

  106. Jareth, I wouldn’t argue with that, as Tricky is a big favorite of mine. But just looking at the lists people have provided so far, and the general tone of discussion, it seemed to me that this discussion was more concentrated on Rap with a big R. Otherwise, I couldn’t see why Beastie Boys haven’t been mentioned so far… ;)

  107. CJ HOLDEN, a good comparison to Die Antwoord would probably be something like Ziggy Stardust. Or any musician who has a different stage persona than what is his real persona. It’s an audio-visual performance act, but it’s not parody or satire. It’s done with genuine passion and ambition both musically and visually.

    I’ve heard that those guys rock insanely hard when they are on stage. I would love to see them.

  108. Jareth Cutestory

  109. Charles

  110. tuukka: I’ve always wondered what North American fans of Wu-Tang or Public Enemy thought of Tricky’s rapping skills on something like “Tricky Kid.” I’ve always been too afraid of appearing square to broach the topic. To me, Tricky sounds engaged, vital and even a bit menacing, but I’m not the best person to evaluate rap skills.

    Also, are Cypress Hill considered a joke in American hip hop? I never know what to think of those guys.

    CJ: Pesci for the win.

  111. Sorry about the previous post, my bad.

    Jareth Cutestory, Tricky is great and Maxinquaye is an excellent album, but I don’t now if I would consider Tricky hip-hop. Both his solo work and his work with Massive Attack’s are influenced by hip-hop and feature musical elements associated with hip-hop, but at the same time his music is more then hip-hop. It is to broad to try an label. Where as most of the artist we have discussed in this thread are easily identified as hip-hop acts.

    tuukka, I disagree. You are correct that Doggy Style was a major crossover success and contributed to the further commercialism of hip-hop, but 1993 also saw the release of Enter The 36 Chambers and just one year later Outkast released their classic Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, Nas put out Illmatic & BIG dropped Ready to Die. While the 80’s saw hip-hop take shape and featured some great social commentary from artists like Public Enemy and NWA it also featured numerous commercial acts like The Fat Boys, & Run DMC. The 80’s also featured some rather elementary material with laughably simplistic lyrics and productions. While in the early 90’s hip-hop really bloomed creatively and financially. You saw much more complicated rhymes, sophisticated story telling, and production from the music of that time and it was commercially successful without being watered down.

    Here are a list of just some other great albums released in 1993 or later:

    (All the other Wu albums I mentioned previously in my other post would fall into this category)

    Black Moon, Enta Da Stage 1993
    Redman, Dare Iz a Darkside 1994 & Muddy Waters 1997
    Organized Konfusion, The Extinction Agenda 1994
    The Beastie Boys, Ill Communication 1994
    Gangstarr, Hard to Earn 1994 & Moment of Truth 1998
    Mobb Deep, The Infamous 1995
    A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders 1993
    Busta Rhymes, The Coming 1996
    The Roots, Do You Want More?!!!??! 1995, Illadelph Halflife 1996, &
    Things Fall Apart 1999

    And, that is just a few. Many of these albums where commercially successful and thier narrative was conscious and subversion.

  112. Please substitute subversive for subversion on my previous post. I am sorry about all the typos everyone. I am having some real computer issues today please excuse me.

    Jareth Cutestory, Cypress Hill is a great group, and their first album is very good. Also, Tricky can flow but again I would not consider him hip-hop. I love Portishead, but I would not consider them hip-hop despite their hip-hop influenced production style.

    tuukka, you are right that The Beastie Boys deserve some love on this thread, but please remember we were just talking about the top 10 best hip-hop albums. The Beastie Boys are one of my favorite artists of all time and have maybe one of the beast bodies of work of any musicians over the past 20 years including 3 classic albums (Licensed to Ill 1986, Paul’s Boutique 1989, & Check Your Head 1992) they still do not have 1 album I would list in my top 10 based on the criteria I described. If you want to just talk great hip-hop artists I could go on and on, but again we were just talking top 10 albums.

  113. I can’t say that I am that familiar with Die Antwoord, but I will check them out. Kool Kieth is another example of a hip-hop artist who adopts different persons from project to project.

  114. Because I got seriously NOTHING to add to the Hip Hop discussion (I guess you have already figured that out), I think I just introduce you the first commercial successful German Hip Hop song. “Die Da” by Die fantastischen Vier.

    Yeah, I know 20 years later it looks and sounds VERY emberassing, but don’t worry, they got better over the years.

  115. CJ, Falco raps in German on Rock Me Amadeus.

  116. True, but Rock Me Amadeus wasn’t a hip hop song and Falco wasn’t a rapper. And he was from Austria. I guess these are the reasons why DIE DA is usually considered to be the first commercial successful German Hip Hop song.

  117. CJ, I wouldn’t consider Falco hip-hop either, I was just pointing out that he was a pioneer is German language rapping.

  118. Charles: So I guess saying that Tricky is hip hop is sort of like saying Tom Waits is blues? That makes a lot of sense, actually. I hadn’t thought of it that way.

    And thanks for clarifying about Cypress Hill. I’ve never actually met anyone who listens to those guys. Or to the French rap group La Rumeur.

    CJ: We all know that hip hop owes everything to Trio’s “Da Da Da.”

  119. Jareth, I actually saw Cypress Hill live for the second time (The first time was during the Smokin’ Grooves tour at the Key Arena in Seattle back in like 98) a couple months ago when they were here is Austin, and it was really fun show. None of their other albums are as strong as there first but they had some other good songs back in the day. A big reason Cypress Hill was so good back in the day is the distinct vocal style of lead MC B-Real and the excellent production of DJ Muggs who is an underrated producer. DJ Muggs actually co-produced the Tricky album Juxtapose, with long time DMX collaborator Dame Grease. It is not one of Tricky’s best albums and it is not the best example or DJ Muggs production, but it is worth checking out if you are a fan of Tricky.

  120. From my white Canadian perspective:

    – Hip hop was a relatively unified movement in the late 70s/80s
    – In the early 90s there was a schism between mainstream/underground. The former is exemplified by MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. The latter is exemplified by groups like Wu-Tang, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, D.I.T.C. etc. Artists like Snoop and Dre kinda rode the median, they were acceptable in underground circles but mainstream enough for radio play.
    – In the late 90s/early 00s many of former underground groups either started to suck (KRS One, Jeru the Damaja, Freestyle Fellowship, Mobb Deep) or became mainstream themselves (Nas, Jay-Z). The former mainstream just turned into pop music (Puff Daddy). The new underground was mostly hip hop zealots and preachers (Madlib, Black Star), old dudes keeping it real (MF Doom, Percee P) and nerds rapping about space and existentialism (Cannibal Ox, Anticon).
    – From the 00s on hip hop is basically just a mess that I can’t bother to keep up with. To listen to the radio you’d think hip hop is bubblegum, to listen to the streets you’d think hip hop is thuggish poser crap, to listen to the underground you need to do research because we’re already in the post-post-post-underground stage of hip hop.

    That said here are two up and coming rappers I’m feeling:

    Adam Bomb – Canada Sucks


    Jay Electronica – Exhibit C


    Also while I’m here I might as well say that one of my favoritest, most slept on albums from the golden age is Showbiz & AG’s “Runaway Slave”


  121. Okay, I see your point on Straight Outta Compton, because it’s really just the first three songs on the album that are untouchable. But It Takes a Nation of Millions is for me definitely the one hip hop album that is most beginning to end perfect and endlessly re-listenable and completely timeless, in fact still way ahead of the bullshit that’s being made now both technologically and content-wise (and legally, since it is not legal to sample in that way at this time, but will be do-able again in a Road Warrior type of situation). If there is a weak spot on the album it’s “Cold Lampin’ With Flavor,” but that’s the best Flavor Flav solo song and has taken on new meaning due to the efforts of the old mafioso in GHOST DOG.

    I also love Fear of a Black Planet, which has the great production with all the songs connected together, but there are a couple songs I don’t like as much as others, like “Power to the People,” and “Meet the G That Killed Me” (because of what they’re talking about, not the music).

    I guess Enter the 36th Chamber could be a possible tie for It Takes a Nation of Millions, with Amerikkka’s Most Wanted in runner up position.

    (And yes, Radio Shack seems to have saved my internet for 47 bucks. Hopefully I’m not gonna electrocute myself here.)

  122. Hey Vern did my comment get deleted? It had youtube videos in it so it was awaiting approval but now it appears to have vanished?

  123. Wow, as soon as I clicked Submit it appeared. Sorry bud.

  124. Charles: After you left the Cypress Hill concert, did it take time for you to recover from the blowback of all that weed?

  125. Hey, to segue from our punk discussion, am I the only one who really dug on Tim Armstrong’s hip-hop/punk hybrid project the Transplants? Yeah, their white rapper has flow that would have been embarassing in 1992, but Tim’s got a pretty unique verbal style, a great musical ear, and a ton of excellent guests on the second album that keep the rap respectable. Also Travis Barker on drums does a fantastic jon IMHO of re-imagining hip-hop beats in a punk context. Neither album is a classic and both have their share of humiliating failures, but I thought the idea was great and wish more folks would explore it. There have been hints that punk and hip-hop were not mutually exclusive for some time now (from the Clash through Blondie to Sublime to Bad Religion featuring Sage Francis on “The Empre Strikes First”) but so far there hasn’t been quite the breakthrough that would make it seem like an obvious match.

    Also, I’d like to see some love for Blackalicious here. Blazing Arrow?

  126. Blazing Arrow gets all the love but I think The Craft got slept on.

  127. Vern, In all fairness I came up with my top ten list of the top of my head, and it may not look the same if I gave myself some real time to go back through my music collection and really give my picks some deeper thought. There is no doubt both It Takes a Nation of Millions, and Amerikkka’s Most Wanted are great albums. I will have to give them both a listen again and compare them to my picks while they are fresh in my head. Both albums do have the advantage of being produced by the legendary Bomb Squad, one of the best hip-hop production collaboratives of all time. You also bring up a good point about sampling. Sampling is a dying art form because the cost has become to high, and it has changed the sound scape of hip-hop for the worst. Much of the hip-hop music produced these days are all synthesizers and drum machines, which are OK when done right and in small doses but it is another reason so much of the hip-hop music today sounds the same.

    Mr. Majestyk & Mr. Subtlety, Both The Craft and Blazing Arrow are really good stuff.

    Also speaking of the connections between punk and hip-hop, Dee Dee Ramon at one point tried to become a hip-hop artist because he felt that rap music was the new counter culture outlaw music.

    Jareth, The Cypress Hill show was very smokey, but not the smokiest I have been to. That honor would go to The Up In Smoke Tour headlined by Dr. Dre and Snoop at the Tacoma Dome in 2000 featuring Eminem and Ice Cube (However Ice Cube did not perform at the show I saw and Xzibit filled in).

  128. Charles — yeah, that bit of history is nicely documented in the excellent Ramones “End of the Century” doc. Dee Dee’s rap makes Juaquin Pheonix look like Redman, but you can’t argue that he didn’t have the right idea. His explanation for his terrible rap prowess — “I wasn’t a negro, you know?” — is priceless. I think since rap really began to become political in the late 80s and early 90s, most punks have more or less known that it had stolen their place as the countercultural force which spoke directly to an oppressed class of people. Since punks generally came from a different cultural background, however, I think they have been slow to know exactly how to incorporate hip-hop into the musical framework which defines punk. Rap tends to express frustration and alienation in a very different way than punk did, and so even though they’re reactions to the same thing, I think its a more difficult thing than you might think to find common ground between them. Cheesy and embarassing as it was, rap-metal did a much better job than punk did of adapting to a world where hip-hop is the music of the people. So far.

    And yeah, the Craft is great too, arguably as good as Blazing Arrow. I was just trying to cite their obvious and universally recognized classic.

  129. Mr. Subtlety, good point. You most likely are more knowledgeable on the Ramones then myself because my knowledge of punk music is rather limited, but if I remember correctly the Ramones are a product of white flight much like the ghettos that spawned hip-hop, and they were similar to late 80’s early 90’s hip-hop in that there music was not about musical skill as much as raw emotion, frustration, and energy. The music was different but the swagger was similar.

  130. Mr. Subtlety: In fairness to the punks and post-punks, they did okay when they wrestled with the righteous indignation of roots reggae, dub and ska. So they weren’t entirely square.

    My buddy Mojo actually considers Debbie Harry’s rap on “Rapture” one of the best raps he’s ever heard (though he admits that she isn’t saying anything of note), and he knows more about this stuff than I do.

  131. Jareth- Im not saying the punks were square, just that the trappings of hip-hop didn’t fold themselves into a punk template as naturally as reggae and ska did. Rap’s emphasis on complicated rhythms, wordplay, and macho posing runs up against punk’s emphasis on loud, fast, androynous trappings. No one (that Im aware of) has yet come up with something that successfully marries the two styles while being recognizably both.

    Its also should be said that while punk and rap both arose out of frustration of oppressed classes, they came from slightly different places. Generally speaking, punks were poor or disaffected whites who were tired of being kicked around and were rejecting mainstream society. Rap tended to come from American blacks whose anger was based in the fact that society had already rejected THEM. So, punk tended to be angry about being boxed in, and rappers tended to be angry about being squeezed out. Same anger, slightly different context which I think explains why despite being similar, there’s a slightly different bent. It explains, for instance, why rap has been so keen to glamorize consumerism and material wealth, which has always made punks uncomfortable (even when they get it).

  132. So I guess you’re not a fan of Adam Ant’s “Ant Rap”? Can’t say I blame you for that.

    As usual, I endorse everything you say in your post, and quietly wish that I was as articulate.

  133. Nicely said, Mr. S!

  134. Every time someone calls Mr. Subtlety “Mr. S,” I can’t help but think of that James Bond-y “Mr. F!” musical sting from season 3 of Arrested Development.

  135. Not a fan of the Ant Rap, no. But my love of “Magnificent Seven” is well documented within these hallowed pages (and “Lightening Strikes Not Once But Twice” for good measure). Thinking a little about it, its kinda frustrating that major figures in the punk world (Strummer, Blondie, Dee Dee Ramone) obviously knew Rap was the future way before most of the world did — and yet that line of exploration kinda died off in its first generation. I can’t think of any band actively exploring it outside Tim Armstrong’s various projects. BTW — for Clash and Rap fans, take a listen to Cypress’ Hill’s Clash-sampling “What’s Your Number” which incidentally features Armstrong as well as a number of punks and inexplicable celebrities.


  136. Mr. Subtlety, What’s Your Number is good stuff, and it is produced by the already mentioned DJ Muggs. I think Cypress Hill kind of get written off as pot smoking hip-hop hippies, but they have a strong body of work and a unique sound. When I saw them recently they did an hour and a half long set and it was very strong, which I think is a testament to their catalog.

  137. I think it is hilarious that this Beastmaster II: Through the Portal of Time talk back thread has morphed into a discussion on hip-hop and punk music. Through the Portal of Time, would have been a better movie if the Beatmaster had discovered hip-hop after passing through the portal of time, and decided to start a rap group. He could have an amazing stage show with all his animal pals, and unlike LL Cool J he could have put out an album called Walking with a Panther and it would have had a literal meaning.

  138. Mr. Subtlety: When I hear M.I.A. I can’t help but think that Joe Strummer would have been cool with what she is doing. Certainly she inches closer to some kind of punk-rap-world hybrid than most.

  139. You did it, Charles. You brought us full circle. Was ‘Beatmaster’ a typo or intentional? Does it matter?

    The Beatmaster would probably have had a better go at rap than Doug Colvin aka D.D. King aka Dee Dee Ramone (god rest him).

    And good call on M.I.A., JC- she’s another punk-to-hip hop gateway drug as far as I’m concerned.

  140. Jareth — I needen’t remind you, of course

    Charles — Yeah I always dug on Cypress Hill. They have, as you said, a unqiue sound which is both technically impressive and imminently listenable. Unfortunately they never proved to have much lyrical depth, and their faux-gangster schtick and affiliation wit rap-metal probably means that no one will ever take them very seriously.

    Jareth — Yeah, Strummer would definitely have been into M.I.A. and she does a great job incorporating her love of punk into her music (obviously, I about had a heart attack at the obvious genius of sampling “Straight to Hell” in “Paper Planes”). On the other hand, its not really punk in the classic sense. It’s more like punk attitude in Hip-Hop form. Milage may vary based on what you think “punk” means… is Patty Smith Punk? The Velvet Underground? New Order? If so, you could argue that punk just sort of naturally evolved into a kind of hip-hop/electronic post-punk deal. But its a little more complicated because while that post-punk stuff was happening, you had hardcore taking off in the US and pretty much continuing to this day. To some degree, then, its a semantics issue. What M.I.A. is doing isn’t all that different than what the Clash was doing on Sandinista! and Combat Rock, but then again, that doesn’t sound much like “punk” either.

    There’s a pretty nice doc on this subject (standard talking-head ken-burns deal, but still) called PUNK ATTITUDE directed by Don Letts. It features some great commentary on the subject by just about every punk of note ever, from David Johansen to Daryl Jennifer. But if you haven’t yet seen Julien Temple’s fabulous doc on Joe Strummer THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN, see that first. It’s still talking heads, but very artfully made and almost painfully heartfelt.

  141. I was on the fence with M.I.A.’s connection to punk until I heard how she grafted those thumping drums over the borrowed bed track from Suicide’s “Ghost Rider.”

    Actually, Suicide was one of my favorites as an adolescent, and I took pleasure all these years knowing that they were still fairly obscure long after their peers like The Ramones and Talking Heads became FM radio staples. But I guess if you have to cannibalize Suicide, you couldn’t ask for a much better job than what M.I.A. did on “Born Free.”

  142. I saw some hip hop history deal on VH1 not long ago. When they interviewed Cypress Hill B-Real would be talking with Senn Dog sitting behind him and I kept hoping Senn would chime in with that same voice he uses to say “INSANE! IN-THE-BRAIN!”

    B-Real: when Straight Outta Compton came out nobody had seen anything like it. We realized we didn’t have to be from New York, we could talk about our own neighborhood and people would relate to it.

    Sen Dog: I AGREE!

  143. Hearing M.I.A. for the first time was when I realized that I was no longer in the youth market. I never thought it would happen to me, but I have to say that whatever the hell M.I.A. is doing is unlistenable noise that doesn’t sound at all like what my ears recognize as music.

    You can all get off my lawn whenever it’s convenient.

  144. Majestyk, is it safe to assume you won’t be dropping any Merzbow into your stereo any time soon? Merzbow makes M.I.A. sound like Doris Day.

  145. Never heard of him/her/them. I must have been too busy trying to figure out how to download a cassette onto my computer machine.

  146. You probably don’t want Merzbow anywhere near your Barry White selections when you’re entertaining the ladies at home while using the “random” program on your stereo.

  147. I don’t trust the random function. It’s mixed tapes all the way for this playboy.

  148. Had that problem several times. My “everything” mix is pretty eclectic, and nothing stops sex faster than the unexpected intrusion of Captain Beefheart (in song, or presumably in person as well). Also once had that problem when getting romantical to the ambient girl-friendly LOST IN TRANSLATION soundtrack, which features an unfortunately hidden track of Bill Murray Kareoke.

    Now I like M.I.A. and even though I’m pretty ambivalent to all modern pop music, I usually at least get it. Even Lady Gaga.

    That’s what I thought until I watched this show called Glee which apparently is very popular with the youths. I literally do not get it at all. It has the same effect on me that a Man Ray film festival has on normal people – a rich corniciopia of confusion, bafflement, boredom, and fear. Thats when I knew I truly was old.

  149. That’s funny you feel that way, Mr. S., because “The Unexpected Intrusion Of Captain Beefheart” is my signature move. Different strokes, I guess.

  150. Boy, do I ever hope Captain Beefheart isn’t your pet name for your junk.

  151. No, of course not. It’s Colonel Beefheart. He got promoted.

  152. The mental image I’m getting of Majestyk making his move while “Dachau Blues” plays on an old cassette tape is better than any Apatow comedy.

    It’s never so much the music that makes me feel old as it is the hysteria that is whipped up around it. Every six weeks those kids are finding something new to shriek about.

    At least the punks switched up the formula a bit by gobbing their favorite bands.

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