I don't know if it's something in the water, I've been smoking some unusually good green, or it's just the general summertime vibe (doubtful, seeing that I live in Western Mass), but every single purchase and download as of late has sounded like pure fire to me. I feel like I've been some sort of zone with selecting music.
Example: A few days ago while mellowing out after work, I was digging through a folder of random 90's tracks I'd download from a blog months ago. One of the tracks in the folder was Money Boss Players' "What U Saying". Prior to the other day, I had never given this song a listen.
I was floored by the production on it. Minnesota, a major contributor to some of the best MBP material, makes one of the most unconventional street bangers I've ever heard. Somehow the happy swing/big bandish sound of his beat perfectly complements the not so happy lyrics Money Boss spits.
Download Money Boss Players "What U Saying".
After obsessing over "What U Saying" for a few days, I decided to throw together some other tracks produced by Minnesota. I was aware of some of his major productions (“I’m Not A Player”), while there were a few that I was stunned to learn he had produced (i.e. Jemini's "Brooklyn Kids" and Pudgee's "Think Big." ) This is far from a complete list (just check the man’s Discogs credits), but more of a little appetizer to show you just how talented this guy is.
Download "We Don't Need It" by Lil' Kim.
This Lil' Kim joint was a complete rediscovery for me. In fact, I’ve been kind of rediscovering the entire Hardcore album as of late and realizing that it’s kind of ill. I mean, that song “Drugs”? That’s some classic shit. While some might write this one off as an overly glitzy late 90’s production, I dig the sample choice and composition. Not quite sure how I feel about the X Rated call and response chorus. You be the verdict.
Download "Think Big" by Pudgee Feat Biggie and Lord Tariq.
I remember first hearing this bad boy on Mister Cee's Best of Biggie mix tape. I was kind of in awe of Pudgee when I first hear him spit; he had some unmatchable energy and funny punch lines. According to this interview with Pudgee, Lord Tariq appears on the track as a sort of deal made between Pudgee and Minessota. The beat used on “Think Big” was originally going to be used by the Money Boss Players. Minnesota would eventually offer the beat to Pudgee in exchange for getting Lord Tariq a slot on the song. The rest, as they say, is history. Sadly this track never got an official release due to sample clearance issues.
Download "World Go Round" by Naughty By Nature.
This is a surprising cut that didn't remember or skipped over until doing research for this post. To be honest, I never really gave Poverty's Paradise a good listen, even though I own that jammy. I found it in a cut out bin somewhere and basically bought it for “Clap Your Hands”. This one is topically appropriate for the excellent use of a Michael Jackson sample. I’m also really feeling the baseline Minnesota utilizes here.
Download “Brooklyn Kids” by Gemini The Gifted One
Fellow blogger DJ Espionage described the combination of sample and drums on "Brooklyn Kids" to "marching through mud with a swagger." I concur. And I mean that in a good way. This is such a somber, soul shattering song that I'm surprised Minnesota and Jemini never worked together again. The unmatchable quality of this song alone makes me wish they'd done an entire album together. “Brooklyn Kids” might be the pick of this litter.
Download “Killed in the Crap Game” by Money Boss Players.
This is one of the more bugged out/experimental productions I’ve heard from Minnesota. It features some crazy distorted guitar samples and some nice “The Message” interpolations on the hook. There's also a shout out from Lord Tariq to Springfield, Mass. Well, that is if you consider threatening the lives of state troopers a shout out. With Lord Tariq spitting so hard on a few of these tracks I’m surprised that much of the population at large knows him for little else besides “Déjà vu”.
Download "Gangsta" by Trick Daddy Feat Baby and Scarface.
An interesting collabo of Trick, Baby, and Scarface. Not my favorite song of the lot, but definitely worth a listen. I like it because it shows the range of artists that Minnesota has worked with.
Download "Modern Marvel" by Mos Def.
This is one of many tunes Minnesota has made for Mos. It’s definitely different, but I’m feeling Mos singing on the opening and like the general vibe of the track. I know The New Danger was no Black on Both Sides, but it certainly had its moments. When an album fails to meet lofty expectations, people seem to have a hard time admitting that it had even a few redeeming moments.
Does the track have to be nearly ten minutes long? Maybe not. But it’s a nice modern soul effort from this duo and Minnesota really seems to have nailed the vibe Mos was going for.
Download "The Panties" by Mos Def.
I love this song. Fucking love it. If Mos crooning over this incredibly smooth sample doesn’t get you and your main squeeze in the mood for love, I don’t know what to tell you. I love how Minnesota waits to drop the drums for nearly two minutes. It’s especially effective because the percussion is not at all what I was expecting the first time someone played this for me. A+ effort from both of these guys.
Download "NY Giants" by Big Pun featuring M.O.P.
Although NY Giants can’t stand up against “I’m Not A Player”, it is a pretty cool track. I like the collaboration of Pun and M.O.P. I think Pun as a solo MC fit nicely with Danze and Fame. I wonder if Pun would have continued using Minnesota’s soundscapes if he was alive today.
There is very little background info on Minnesota available online. If you have some you want to share, holla. To read a cool interview with him, click here.