Saturday, September 02, 2006



Sometimes you happen along a record that, in another life or another pair of shoes, you would have never ever heard--a landmark record that introduced you to new sounds, new processes, a new musical plane never realized. When I was working in the stores, I would watch "Rap City" faithfully even though it had really gone downhill. One day, I'm watching what was now "Rap City: The Basement" (just before the coffin) and they play a video for "End to End Burners" by Company Flow. It had me completely open. I was floored. I thought to myself, "Yes, this is what I've been looking for!" It was the perfect combination of visual and audio elements and it was a absolute assault on all that I had known hip hop to be through my young years. I began the search for this Company Flow.

It led me to special ordering this record in search of "End to End Burners." Once it arrived, come to find it out, the song was nowhere to be found on there. So there I stood with Funcrusher Plus in hand and willing money at the crossroad. I put it back in the rack.

Two weeks later, I check on it in the rack and it's still sitting in the same spot untouched. This time, I grabbed it, walked to the register and dropped my cash money for it. I listened to the whole thing from front to back. In fact, I did it about three complete times.

What was this crap?! I put it on my desk with the receipt.

Again, about two weeks later, now running out of time to return for a full refund, I decide to give it another listen. This time, I listened to it front to back about five times. I just left it in my player and let it roll over and over.

It finally sank in. This record proves that not all music is immediate. Not all art is Warhol-cool. Sometimes you have to spin it a few times, hang it in new light, stare at it when you're pissed at the system. Like that, some music needs time. You can hear some kid with a backpack saying, "One day, people will recognize the genius of Funcrusher." Maybe in a lot of ways, I was that kid. Because now, almost ten years later, it's still reverred as one of paramounts in the genesis of the late-90s underground hip hop movement.

I've got five copies of this record. In fact, I'll purchase more of them if I come across them. I can't keep myself from picking up more copies. I guess it's me paying back Company Flow for being such a numbskull and straight sleeping on this record about seven years ago. I know it sounds completely senseless, but that's my feeling.

Funcrusher could easily be considered one of the defining records in New York hip hop. That's a bold statement, I know, up against names like Run DMC, Biggie, Rakim, Nas and Hova, but like Black Moon not but four years earlier, Company Flow takes you literally underground to the grime, the dark, subterraneous corners of the city rarely highlighted in popular music. It's a field trip into the very soul of the city--diseased, confused, claustophobic and chaotic. Funcrusher is a metaphor from beginning to end. It represents the growl of a movement on the uprise. It puts a face and a mouth to the very inner city through emcees El Producto and Big Juss.

The album is a steadily heavy experience. The hypnotic effect of the low end only lays the foundation for the splitting lyricism fo El Producto and Juss. It's as unsettling as is crazy headnoddic. It perfectly balances hip hop's progression and regression--drawing from only enough influences to give you a point of reference just before completely obliterating anything you ever knew about hip hop.

You either love it or hate it because, simply put, it's probably the least accessible record on my entire list, but it's an instrumental record in the way it broke through all the walls that the art form had built around itself.

Funcrusher is like a cornered dog--eventually, it will lose any sense of reason and consequence and it will strike. If you can't find it out there, it's because I have all the copies. Call me when you're ready.

"Even when I say nothing, it's a beautiful use of negative space." --El-P

Album Highlights:
"Population Control"
"Last Good Sleep"
"8 Steps to Perfection"
"Vital Nerve"
"Tragedy of War (In III Parts)"
"The Fire In Which You Burn"

No comments: