Sole could have done it for us, man.
After a series of industry misadventures following the recording of his first demo – including an deal with EMI that fell through at the last second – Tim Holland (bka Sole) and his DJ Cuz Tha Highlander began recording together under the moniker “Northern Exposure.” During it’s brief existence, the crew only put out one album, 1994’s “Madd Skills & Unpaid Bills.” This cassette-only effort was put out on a now-defunct local imprint called 45 Below Records, and only sold around 300 copies. Needless to say, finding an original tape is damn near impossible.
Sadly for Northern Exposure, long-term success was not to be. Shortly after the tape’s release and subsequent lack of success, Sole decided to keep it movin’ and began recording with a new group, the Last Poets. Thier 1996 release “What’s It All About?” quietly began making the dub rounds, eventually being traded as far as Los Angeles and arguably planting the seed for an entire future crew of milquetoast, “artsy” rappers in the Yay.
The music contained on “Madd Skills…” is certainly indicative of the time during which it was recorded. Hardcore b-boy posturing. Black Moon samples all over the place. Extensive graffiti references. Gritty boom-bap beats, courtesy of Tim & Cuz. And check out the intentional misspelling of “madd” in the title! I mean, misspelling stuff worked for Redman, right?
In conclusion, Sole’s contemporary fans would positively shudder to hear these grimy examples of life on the harsh, unforgiving streets of Portland, throwing off their headphones and quivering behind their scarves. I can only imagine what would have happened if Tim/Sole had stayed in Maine and kept to the course; he might have influenced a generation or more of Jedi Mind Tricks-lite kids dressed up in wheat Timbos, baggy jeans, and North Face bubble gooses. Hoods from the woods, if you will.
In short: don’t sweat moving to Cali, Tim. We’ve been ok.
In case you’re wondering what anticon’s wunderkind sounded like before he grew out his facial hair, peep game. It’s actually pretty interesting to hear the approach Sole started out with, considering his current sonic pedigree. (Thanks to schenectadyfan for providing a rip of this incredibly rare tape.)
Northern Exposure – Madd Skills & Unpaid Bills