18 December, 2009@2:46 am
Never judge a book by it’s cover.
The cutting room floor. Just imagine what it would be like, to go into your favorite rapper or producer’s archives, and raid the masters, discovering hundreds of great tracks they felt weren’t good enough for official release. RZA’s basement, pre-flood era? Forgettabout it. The Pharcyde’s deleted tracks from Bizarre Ride? Nerdgasm. Dr. Dre’s vault during the Oh My God recording sessions with Rakim? Only in your dreams. However, you have to imagine that a lot of this stuff would be crap as well. Without naming names, we’ve seen artists destroy their careers by completely ruining their mystique and release every track they’ve ever recorded on Unreleased Shit Vol. 5 type of albums. The Beatnuts are a rare case, however, since they have never really had to rely on others to make their music for them. As emcees, producers, and hardened crate diggers, they’ve had everything they’ve ever needed to make classics in their closets.
With The U.F.O. Files, we get a hearty plate of unreleased tracks and a few alternate versions from The Beatnuts catalog. With a signature style all their own – one that’s never been duplicated, mind you – the ‘Nuts deliver their usual brand of scumbag rhymes over dusty breaks, leaving the listener wondering why some of these songs weren’t released in the first place. Tracks like “All My Life” or “The Language” have that classic quality and original sound that would have fit in on any of their post-Kool Fash albums. Both “Easy Does It” and the creepy (like masturbating in a closet creepy, not zombie creepy) “Story To Tell You” find the Nuts in their most crass, with plenty of laugh out loud amounts – that is, at least if you girl isn’t present.
Most of the real treats are towards the end of the album, however. Two classic Beatnut breaks – previously released on Hydra’s vinyl-only instrumental EP’s – are fully realized on “Party” and “Freak N The Club”, as both original tracks were too good to go to waste. However the real gems here are in the recording sessions from the Intoxicated Demons and Street Level that previously were only available as bootlegs, or unreleased up until this point. Classic white label jawns like “40 Oz” and “Fluid” were perhaps originally shelved as artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock beat-the-Nuts to these samples (on “Steve Biko” and “Center Of Attention”, respectively), but sound instantly classic in this context. Meanwhile, songs like “We Came Here”, “Dawn of The Dead”, and “Sandwiches (Original Version)” successfully time-capsule a sound now lost in hip-hop, and will instantly take the older heads back to the Nuts early years.
22 tracks in length leaves plenty of room for error, with a couple of tracks that could have forever been left in the vaults, such as the club-attempt “Get It!”, or the hilarious trainwreck “Disco”. Despite a few missteps however, it’s a sad state of affairs when a group like The Beatnuts can release their table scraps and still make a better album than half the major label rappers out today. – DJ Pizzo
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