Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Hard 2 Obtain - Ism & Blues 3xLP - Orange Vinyl (/300)

Hard 2 Obtain - Ism & Blues 3xLP - Orange Vinyl (/300)

90s Tapes (2019)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Hard 2 Obtain have a silly name.  It reminds me of N2Deep with their terrible "Back To The Hotel" song, but even if the name wouldn't be my first choice, this album is unbelievably great.  Ism & Blues originally came out on Atlantic records in 1994.  I have no memory of ever reading about them in The Source or seeing them on Yo! MTV Raps, so I didn't hear them when this first came out.

I stumbled across them when I was listening to the Kurious record.  One of the songs was really resonating with me and I saw that the production was done by the SD50s.  A production team that was also involved with some of the Hieroglyphics records that I love so much.  I decided to do a little bit of research to see what other groups they had worked with that maybe I had missed out on.  Hard 2 Obtain came up as not only a group they had worked with, they had essentially done the production for their entire album.

That's the strongest point of this record, the beats are just excellent.  Bouncing bass lines, upbeat drum beats.  It's such a quintessentially 1990s sound and something I wish was still prevalent in the world of hip hop.  As far as the vocals go, there are two MCs; Taste and DL.  I'm not sure which one is which throughout the course of the record but they have a solid flow and one of them sounds quite a bit like Grand Puba.  In fact the whole album does have something of a Brand Nubian feel to it and I can't think of too many groups that I would rather be compared to.

This album was rereleased in 2019 by the label 90s Tapes.  This is a label that I've gotten really into the past year or so and hunting for this record is what made me start looking at their other releases.  They did an incredible job with this album, expanding it to a triple LP and tacking on instrumentals and other tracks not on the original release.  Sadly this rerelease, like the original, is long out of print and I did have to pay collector prices to get my hands on a copy, but it's really worth every penny and might be one of the best albums from the golden era that sadly seems to have been mostly forgotten about.  I sure wish that I could have heard it in 1994.

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