Here’s a quick primer one of Los Angeles’ most ground-breaking yet under-appreciated rap crews.
Curbserver / Afterlife Recordz was an outgrowth of the legendary Project Blowed collective, which I briefly touched on in this post. Although they’ve always been a little more hardcore / gangsta, the Afterlife MC’s are absolute style kings. They switch from hyper-fast rhyming displays to slower, almost free-form jazz-influenced flows with ease and although this is the hardest pill for new listeners to swallow, if you take the time to interpret their labyrinthine lyrical showcases you’ll begin realize that the rappers in question aren’t being overly technical simply for the sake of it. They’re great writers and storytellers too, in the true griot tradition. These dudes (and ladies) pour a lot of truth and soul into their music, concocting didactic Cali narratives that serve as the logical counterpart (at least in my mind) to their more commercial cousins such as NWA, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Cypress Hill.
The origins of the Curbservers can be traced back to the Good Life Cafe and it’s inception in 1989. During the early 90’s, Good Life regulars such as Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone, and Abstract Rude would begin to gel and form the original Project Blowed family. Although many luminaries in the LA underground scene would pass through the ‘Life, the Blowdians were there nearly every damn week, freestyling, competing, and observing each other’s respective styles. One Blowdian, Ellay Khule (aka Rifleman) began to form his own little family of rappers within the Blowed clique that came to utilize a unique form of rapping called “chopping” almost exclusively. This family would eventually be known as the Afterlife MCs/Curbserver camp of Project Blowed.
The sub-collective’s roster has fluctuated throughout the years as MCs have come and gone, but the main gravitational forces are the Hip Hop KClan (Rifleman Ellay Khule & Pterradacto) and the Chillin Villain Empire (NgaFsh, Riddlore?, Wreccless, and bunch of other cats). Satellite members include The Eastside Badstads, Of Mexican Descent, Cypher 7, and Legion. Unfortunately, various factors including lack of monetary funds and jail time over the past 15 years have left their physical output spotty at best. The recordings that do surface (usually homemade, retrospective-style compilations burned onto low-quality cd-rs), however, are mostly excellent slices of low-fi four-track madness. No Pro-Tools allowed, cuddy!
What I’ve composed here is a 19-track compilation of my favorite Afterlife/Curbserver-related material. This mix is by no means comprehensive; it’s merely a collection of the songs I feel the most out of the material I have heard. Some of the tracks have been taken from post-“TROY era” releases, but since a lot of those releases were compilations of previously recorded material, I would estimate the years covered by this material span from roughly 1994 to 2005. If anyone actually takes offense to material post-1997 being represented here, bounce. That’s not the point. Anyway, here’s the compilation:
Echo Leader’s Afterlife/Curbserver Picks
1. NgaFsh, Riddlore?, & Chu – “Crack Kills”
2. Otherwize, Riddlore?, & Chu – “Writin’ Unda Pressure”
3. Chu, NgaFsh, & Riddlore? – “Hut 2, 3, 4”
4. Hip Hop KClan – “Show’em How 2 Chop”
5. The Eastside Badstads – “Bluntheadz”
6. (Rifleman) Ellay Khule – “Fuck A Cop’
7. NgaFsh – “Cause & Effect”
8. NgaFsh & Tray Loc – “Party N My Trunk!”
9. (Rifleman) Ellay Khule – “Boogie On”
10. Hip Hop KClan – “Massive Meltdown”
11. NgaFsh, Riddlore?, & D-Mac – “Role Model”
12. Busdriver – “Life Or Death”
13. Otherwize – “A Wize Man’s Advice”
14. Hip Hop KClan – “Everyday Things”
15. Tray Loc – “Once Upon A Freak”
16. Pterradacto – “As The World Turns”
17. NgaFsh, Riddlore?, & (Rifleman) Ellay Khule – “Street Lightz”
18. Hip Hop KClan – “Full Speed Ahead”
19. Of Mexican Descent – “Mosh 2 Da Sun”
Enjoy…and leave comments if you like the mix. If response is positive enough, I could be persuaded to do another one of these.