The Secret Tapes
label: mends

producers: yaggfu front, phatboy

guests: esau the anti emcee, the tek specialists

year of release: 2002
note: due to this being a collection in an anthology kind of way, we chose to not rate it.
Man, wasn't it easy back then? Back in the early nineties you had one formula (amongst few possible formulas) and when you were making music using it, then the result was dope. Just consider the truckload of records, that by close analysis isn't a newly invented wheel, but that in total still gets you hyped; albums by Double XX Posse, Original Flavor, The UMC's or Shadz Of Lingo. Albums that are not too brilliant, but damn good. Now, fast forwarding to today, you have a multitude of formulas, with the majority is creating wack results. And you have very few formulas that promise a good result, and even those contain the threat that your song will sound repeated and unimpressive. And at the same time, you have these old records, that still sound better than much of what's being released today.

1. Roll Wit The Yaggfu
2. Plastic Fantastic
3. Hard Headed Niggaz
4. The Love Scene
5. Walk Around Town aka Thinking Caps
6. Mr Buck
7. Fling-A-Ling Style
8. All Slow
9. Jump On It
10. Listen feat. Esau The Anti Emcee
11. Future Shock introducing the Tek Specialists
And just about today, the Yaggfu Front album "The Secret Tapes" comes out. Back in the days, there has already been a Yaggfu album, but you don't need to return your hip hop expert card, when you are not familiar with it. Nevertheless, there's enough people that remember the group, what then leaves it in the comfortable position, to be able to drop an album, full of 'as of yet' unreleased material. That are however not all old, as the years range from 1992 to 2001, with the years being almost evenly spread. The album however doesn't give them chronological, what this review however shall do.
So we start with "Plastic Fantastic", that in flow does sound old, in beat, well yes. The issue is money (not having it, getting it and substituting it with a piece of plastic), the drum is hard, and the overall vibe is taking us back down memory lane. As does "The Love Scene", where our heroes get nasty with some ladies, them spreading their love over three minutes, without rhyming ever coming to their mind. Unfortunately "Mr Buck" is also more a interlude than an actual song, and so only "Fling-A-Ling Style" is giving us more '92 rhyming. And here you can tell that this is old. Well actually, despite all the retro acts, you know that this is genuinely old. Cause even all those that want to sound like back then sound more polished than this unseasoned drum. And there's a certain neck break quality in the song too, that is just so distinctive.
Moving on we hop forward to 1994-95, where we are given "Roll With The Yaggfu". And the interesting thing about that area is, that there have been different styles happening at the same time, with the previously mentioned formula still be around (and creating classics), while at the same time, artists reinvented the game. So although these tracks were very contemporary, in the view of other aspects, they were already dated. Nevertheless though, "Roll With The Yaggfu" is again dope, with the piano, the still shuffling drum and the good time verses. And a flavor that has you think of videos that had to be shot in the hood, maybe partially as a statement, but also because you didn't yet have access to big soundstages to dance around in shiny suits. The 'phat' horns of "Walk Around Town aka Thinking Caps" will get each and everyone that grew up on this diet hyped, while "All Slow" is bare, leaving plenty of room to spit some reflected verses. And finally "Jump On It" ends this time period, with another hard drum, a crowd chorus, and lyrics that go for the clever punchlines.
What then leaves us with the three greenhorns on this album, aka one track from 1999 and two from the last two years. "Future Shock", that introduces the Tek Specialists is actually sounding worse recorded than the old songs, and so it struggles to have a head start. Instead we are cool with the relaxed vibe, while the overall feel is just too much that of a demo, and the sounds fail to be worthy of a rather recent track. But maybe that's because the Yaggfu tries to recreate the old sound. And what they didn't get to work at first, works better on "Hard Headed Niggaz", although even here the flow just doesn't sound right anymore. But it's kinda like someone that has heard the progression of the art, but that tries to ignore it, hence tries to move back, without plain old biting what he used to do. The same can't really be said about the last remaining track "Listen", probably mainly because there has been extensive contributions of cats that have been releasing music the last three years. The cats are Phatboy who's doing the beat and Esau The Anti Emcee that spits a verse. So mainly this cut is not really sounding old, but just oldish, with some dated flows.
So there you have it: a something that all you old cats will understand, due to you having grown up on this style, it will put a 'so, uhm, what's the big fuss' comment on some not knowing any better grasshoppers lips though. Ignore 'em. We know. It's the golden years, and anything unreleased from back then will be embraced by us without restraints.
review: tadah
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