I’m currently finishing my first book entitled Root For The Villain, a collection of short stories, anecdotes and essays. The book takes humorous, nostalgic and sarcastic looks atÂ interning inÂ hip-hop recording studios in the early 90’s, socializing and dating disasters in post-gentrification NYC, semi-famous rappers coming to my house and clogging my toilet, cassette tape and record collecting, Gadget Hoes (only the book can explain that one), androgynous fashion, relationships, what it feels like to watch rappers you grew up idolizing ruin their legacies with Myspace bulletins for $200 verses, me getting sued by my childhood idol, going back into the working world after a decade in the music business, what its like to live with your grandmother as a grown ass man and much much more.
Itâ€˜s almost like a J-Zone album, but in book form. If youâ€˜re over 30, a curmudgeon or felt Snoop Dogg deserved an Oscar for his performance in Baby Boy, youâ€™ll definitely relate to it. Root For The Villain is slated for a 2011 release. And now on to the lists… [ed. – lists are after the jump]
J-Zone’s Top 5 J-Zone Productions
5. “Eatadiccup” (ft. Celph Titled)
I always enjoy working with Celph, he and Al-Shid are the only two people I ever played beats for that didnâ€™t come to me with that â€œI canâ€™t rhyme to your beats, they sound too crazyâ€ shit. My beats were in 4/4 time, so in English that just means you canâ€™t rap.
4.Â “M.A.T.H” (by Al-Shid)
Al-Shid never blew up, but heâ€™s still the most naturally gifted MC I ever worked with. He was like me in that he didn’t really fit neatly into a pigeonhole. He was too street for a lot of J-Zone fans and too clever for a lot of street dudes. His style, rhymes and concept on this are still ahead of their time, and he made the beat work when most people couldnâ€™t have.
3. “Cocaine” (by Cunninlinguists)
I nearly shit on myself when I heard the original record. I had a blast with the effects and pan mixing on that one too. Shout out to Kno and the Cunninlinguists.
2. “Mild Riot” (ft. Al-Shid)
Al-Shid murdered that Ice Cube impersonation. This song sounds more like the old St. Ides commercials than anything else on Live @ The Liqua Sto.
1. “The Drug Song”
Nobody ever did an official joint to it, so I tacked it on the end of Live @ The Liqua Sto as a bonus instrumental. I had a lot of fun choppin that sample up, and I donâ€™t even get high. Its my favorite beat of mine by a landslide.
J-Zone’s Top 5 Albums Of All Time
5. Ohio Players: Pain
Funk, jazz, rock and blues meshed together so effortlessly on this album, and the mixing was brilliant. Walter â€œJunieâ€ Morrison was more talented than George Clinton, Junie was a fuckin genius.
4. Tim Dog: Penicillin On Wax
I always say that Iâ€™d rather a rapper be entertaining than super lyrical. Tim’s rapping skill was laughable by 1991 standards, but this album is just flat out funny and entertaining, thereâ€™s not one single dull moment. My father is 62 years old, and even he has this album in his Top 5 all time any genre. Its the only album I’ve ever heard that can completely pull me out of a bad mood.
3. James Brown: The Payback
All of the songs are 7-12 minutes, so the ensemble playing is crazy and way beyond the level that could be reached on those James Brown 45s.
2. Ice Cube: Amerikkkaâ€™s Most Wanted
Bomb Squad produced most of this during the same sessions as PEâ€™s Fear Of A Black Planet and the Bell Biv Devoe Poison album. Whenever I hear any of those three albums, I realize that I really ainâ€™t done jack shit as a producer. Those three albums make you either want to completely reinvent the wheel or straight up quit. Sir Jinx was underrated, his beats on this album are just as dope as Bomb Squad’s. Cube sounded straight hungry, but he lost some steam when he cut that jheri curl.
1. Kool & The Gang: Music Is The Message
All of Kool and the Gangâ€™s early shit (this, their first album, Good Times, Wild and Peaceful, etc.) is incredibleâ€¦itâ€™s a shame that theyâ€™re mainly known for â€œCelebrationâ€ because theyâ€™re my favorite group. Ronald Bell/ Khalis Bayyan is another unheralded musical genius, he was on a whole other level.
Oh, and I’ll be a regular contributor for Ego Trip’s website (www.egotripland.com) when it launches next month. You’ll be able to find excerpts from the book there.Â Peace! –J-Zone