In the Winter of 2001, The Hip Hop Romper Room (V Funk and yours truly) joined forces with The Molemen to throw a concert at Chicago's Metro, which is not only my favorite venue but home to the Smashing Pumpkins final performance. The show's lineup was deep to say the least. Copywrite, Cage, J-Live, J-Zone, Akrobatik, Vakill, Prime, and Qwel all held down microphone duties. On the wheels of steel, contributions were made by DJ PNS, tactician DJ Presyce, DJ Contakt (who now happens to be the man in charge at Fat Beats), and to our collective joy, J-Live while also handling the rhymes on "Braggin Writes."
To be blunt, the show was not quite a commercial success. As often occurs though, there was a silver lining. Funk and I wisely sprung for an extra night's hotel stay for J-Live. The night after the concert, Molemen producers PNS, Memo, and Panik plugged the MPCs into the soundboard and provided then unreleased beats for J-Live and Molemen emcees Vakill and Prime. A run down of the contributors and contributions:
The Molemen: In the eyes of many, The Molemen are producers Panik, Memo, and PNS. Longtime members also include emcee Vakill, insansely talented DJ Presyce, and diligent Renassaince Woman/Business Manager Sonia. Former members, newer members, and frequent collaborators include Rhymefest, Rhyme Scheme, Prime, Juice, Qwel, Longshot, Mass Hysteria, and producer Madd Crates. Their Ritual of The Mole album is criminally slept on and additional compilations Chicago City Limits, Below The Ground EP, and Buried Alive are stellar. They have produced albums for Longshot and All Natural's Capital D. I am standing on one leg waiting for their full-length follow-up The Killing Fields. Memo took over The Hip Hop Romper Room and claimed that he would keep the name. Within minutes, it was Molemen Radio. No hard feelings though.
V Funk: You'll hear V Funk handle all the radio host vocals. I was wisely kept away from the mics or you would've heard Famalam like shouting at inappropriate moments. That wouldn't be Famalam like.
J-Live: J-Live spit writtens and I was glad he did. If I'm not mistaken all three verses ended up on All of the Above. Hearing him spit from the standpoint of one of his own lyrics from the booth was a treat. The beat, while coincidentally so, was eeriliy apt.
Vakill: Vakill, a native of Chicago's South Side, often invokes Ras Kass comparisons. There are surely some similarities, but in my opinion, they are overstated. His punchlines are sharp and he has a dry hilariousness. A favorite of both mines and V Funk's. You can check both The Darkest Cloud and his Lost Tapes style compilation Kill 'Em All, on which both of these freestyles are featured. A funny note is that he spit verses from "The Equinox" over the beat that would eventually become Prime's "Unbreakable." Both tracks from The Molemen's Ritual of The Mole.
Prime: Not to be confused with the Prime featured on Lyricist Lounge Vol 1. or the occasional Common Sense collaborator. I will go to the grave saying that Prime is the best battle rapper I've ever seen. While others like Supernat, Juice, or Rhymefest have the knack of performing big in huge battles, I've seen Prime battle for an hour straight against five different emcees and have the room rolling. I've wondered if he should supplement his concerts with a little bit of stand up. His battling skills would eventually get him featured on HBO, MTV, and numerous other stages. His Lambslaughter 12", featuring Slug, was a fine Panik production. My best friend Pete took the cover photo. He split with the Moles in the past couple years and is now working with his own crew called Middle Ground.
A HUGE shout to the folks at Rope-A-Dope for the link. The audio today is B+ fidelity but A+ quality.
Vakill, Prime, and J-Live: The Hip Hop Romper Room Freestyle Vol. 1 (MP3)
Vakill, Prime, and J-Live: The Hip Hop Romper Room Freestyle Vol. 2 (MP3)