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by
1 January, 2004@12:00 am
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Now And Then is a near-complete condensing of The Rhyme Inspector Percee-P’s entire 12-year career into an hour-long listen. Percee P was like one of those college hoop stars who had it ALL: solid skills, a good stat line, and a solid team to back him up – but just like Sam Bowie and Harold Minor, Percee somehow never made a successful leap from outstanding potential to true success.

This sampling of Percee P’s work shows him at his best - flowing effortlessly over early 90′s uptempo breakbeats (“Lung Collapsing Lyrics”) – and gives those who never heard of him a look into his true claim to fame. The same guy who is out in front of FatBeats NYC this afternoon selling his cassettes and CDs hand-to-hand was one of the early sidekicks of the D.I.T.C. crew (“Yes You May” w/ A.G.  & Lord Finesse, “Kicking Flavor With My Man” w/ Lord Finesse), and his cameo verses were once in high demand. But the early 90′s spark that his verses tempted us with never broke into anything more than sporadic 12″ releases and guest spots on up-and-coming underground emcees tracks.

One thing that is very obvious on first listen is that Percee P’s early beat selections were consistently dope. Those who were buying 12″s in the early 1990′s can attest to the longevity of tracks like “Now They Wanna See Me” and “Puttin Heads To Bed” that still sound fresh like they were just pulled out the plastic wrapper. Unfortunately, the newer joints are mostly taken from other artists releases, and aren’t nearly as compelling as the older selections. Although the pairing with emcees like Aesop Rock and Poison Pen sound good on paper, the results aren’t nearly what you would hope for - the collaborators sound mismatched and lack any sort of lyrical chemistry over the often bland beats.

If you don’t own any of Percee P’s recordings, this is a chance to hear one of hip-hop’s true wordsmiths at his peak. Although a good 10 years past the glory days, The Rhyme Inspector still gets props for his old material which was hard to find even when it was brand new, and never before released on CD. Be sure to have him autograph your copy next time you are walking up 6th Ave in New York.

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