A couple of brief yet excellent concept-riding hip-hop projects in the spirit of John Oswald.
Straight Outta Compton (Explicit Content Only) is by Evan Roth, "an artist whose work focuses on tools of empowerment, open source and popular culture" (peace to the homie Wikipedia). He's taken NWA's classic swearing landmark Straight Outta Compton and removed everything else, leaving only the profanity. Basically just two minutes and 53 seconds of pure, distilled swearing, it's by turns hilarious, frantic, strangely poetic (the 16-second version of "8 Ball" kind of tells a story in itself), and pretty funny again.
Awesomely, each track also gets an "Explicit Content Ratio" to inform the listener the exact percentage of each song made up of swearing. (The highest percentage is reliable old "Fuck Tha Police", with 12.1% explicit content.) Perhaps the most surprising aspect for me was seeing the amount of tracks with no profanity whatsoever laid out: five whole tracks are clean, which seems almost quaint in the post-Slim Shady era.
Most outstandingly of all, it's available on vinyl.
– Get Straight Outta Compton (Explicit Content Only) from Evan's website.
mp3: NWA – "Fuck Tha Police (explicit content only)"
Next, a link from the digital version of Hip-Hop Connection (well, the only version nowadays, really). On this one, New York producer Domer of FreeIceCream twists Queen's most recognisable anthem into six distinct beats and then raps over them with fellow NY MCs Katz, illspokin, Ryan-O'Neil and Jake Lefco. The title? Yes, that'd be Bohemian Rap CD.
How could you fail to love a pun with balls as big as that? Fortunately, the concept delivers, too: the beats successfully stay varied thanks to "Bohemian Rhapsody"'s operatic-ass six-songs-in-one structure, and the rappers twist tight lines on diverse subjects from romantic breakdown to straight who-can-rhyme-harder braggadocio. Often they use Freddie M's vocals as a jumping-off point, as on the call/response chorus of "Little High/Little How" and the swaggering "So You Think You Can Spit", which co-opts Mercury's defiant "so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?" line into a battle throwdown.
Perhaps the only drawback is that since all the MCs are on each track, you can never really tell who's saying what, but since they pretty much all keep the standard up, it's fortunately somewhat academic anyway.
– Get Bohemian Rap CD from FreeIceCream.
mp3: Bohemian Rap CD – "Little High/Little Low"