Early in 2012 I was lucky to appear on a Japanese 7” single by Mongoika, also featuring sibitt, Bleubird, Thesis Sahib, and cuts by DJ KEN ONE. It’s about reincarnation & karma (I rap about my skepticism because I’m difficult to play with), and they took the name from my verse: “Moksa Only.” (Canadian rap joke)
It’s a very scrappy, lo-fi track with amazing cuts, so it feels like classic underground rap from the late 90s to me. I enjoy listening to the vinyl, but my favourite way to experience the song is to watch the video - now you can, too!
My parts were shot by Randy Hogg in Ottawa (on Elgin Street) and he made me look really sexy in my heavy winter lingerie.
I wrote this list down the other night while arguing on Twitter about a list of “underground” rap albums that appeared on another site. That list - like so many contemporary conversations about indie/undie/backpack rap - tended to skew in favor of the more visible, 21st century imprints like Rawkus, Def Jux and Stones Throw. As I mentioned on Twitter, I suspect a lot of that has more to do with branding and access than actual quality.
By the turn of the century the bigger labels had secured better distribution deals and PR situations as they simultaneously shifted away from vinyl and tapes and singles and EPs towards full length CDs that squares could purchase in Best Buy. (Fondle ‘Em, hands down the most consistent label in this scene, existed almost entirely on vinyl and as a point of pride never did promos or publicity. I guess that seemed noble at the time…) Even while the music was collapsing under the weight of emo bangs and cartoon sponsorships, the legacy was just beginning to codify. So the list that follows is my meager attempt to counterbalance that bias. It’s non-comprehensive, mostly comprised of the tapes and records that I remember listening to in high school when this loosely defined strain of underground rap still felt like a little secret and not the default hip hop choice for middlebrow white college kids and Onion AV Club readers. No repeat artists and no releases with major label distribution (initially?) All omissions are purely malicious.
Few years ago, I used to be knee-deep in the “nerdcore hip-hop” scene on the internet. Kind of a silly idea now that I think back to it, but there are still a lot of talented folks running around with that label. One point of contention was whether or not certain artists were “nerdcore” which…
Although this album is available for purchase on iTunes and CDbaby and Amazon and all those things, I am touched by how nice this post about it is! Go ahead and siphon it from this location, if you’re interested in the music I was making from 1997-2001, but if you really like it, please consider either buying it from one of those legit sources, or making a contribution to the fund to release Humble & Brilliant on vinyl!
Genuine independent rap legend [G.I.R.L.] Jesse Dangerously has been on the internet since 1994, which means since juuuust before rap diversified into sometimes being terrible in addition to amazing.
It has turned his attention span to soft mush, and here is where you will reap the benefits.
You may like what appears in this space if you like feminism, hip-hop, brilliance, pith, and humility - all of which he has in spades.