Ain’t nobody payin’, and ain’t no weight to nothin’ these corny niggas are sayin’
What game are you playin’?
When niggas used to say “Yo, you heard what he said?”
But now they say “Yo I heard that, the lyrics is dead
Where’s the next one, and try not to be so verse-y
Can you start it off with controversy? Put a hook on it”
360 and you’re rockin’ for that label paper
Now your money’s gone and you can’t eat ’cause the crooks own it
Today marks the fifth anniversary of KoleXXXion, the first full-length collaborative project from legendary Gang Starr producer DJ Premier and fearless veteran hardcore emcee and longtime friend/frequent collaborator Bumpy Knuckles (formerly known as Freddie Foxxx); incidentally, today also happens to be Bumpy’s 48th birthday, while Premier celebrated his 51st last week! Both Premo and Bumpy command respect in their respective fields, and every time they join forces they make nothing but pure, unadulterated hardcore NYC hip hop heat. Plus, you should already know by now that just about any full-length project laced by Premier is virtually guaranteed to be an instant classic.
A few of the tracks on KoleXXXion were previously released (‘The Lah”, for example, was initially issued as a single in 2001), while most if not all of the remaining beats were originally intended for other artists (including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss and Immortal Technique, just to name a few) before ultimately being rejected. Fortunately, Premo saved all these discarded tracks and previously released material to create a thoroughly enjoyable and consistent compilation blessed with Bumpy’s aggressive vocal presence and lyrical delivery. The album was also preceded earlier in the month by the five-song digital-only promo EP StOoDiOtYmE, consisting of material that didn’t make the final cut of KoleXXXion.
Beloved Public Enemy hype-man Flavor Flav makes an appearance on “Shake The Room”, while Queensbridge, NYC living lyrical legend Nas contributes a guest verse on the “Turn Up The Mic” remix. My personal favorite moments on here include “OwNiT” (which has Bumpy rocking one long verse over a steadily rolling chopped piano sample before Premo closes it out by scratching up a vocal phrase from Golden Era femcee Antoinette’s 1987 hip hop classic “I Got An Attitude”), the bold and ambitious “More Levels” and the neck-snapping lead single “B.A.P. (Bumpy And Premier)” (featuring a dope sample clip of famed World War II-era broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow on the intro) and the gutter-as-fuck second single “wEaRe aT WaR” (which opens with a spoken intro from Bumpy, who addresses the longtime problem of fans stealing artists’ music for free rather than offering true support by paying for it).
In addition, the final two songs pay tribute to two deceased individuals that were important figures in the lives of both Bumpy and Premier; “The Gang Starr Bus” and “Word Iz Bond”. The former (which initially appeared on Premo’s Year Round Records compilation Get Used To Us the previous year) is dedicated to the memory of Premier’s Gang Starr musical partner, the one and only Guru, and allows the listener to be a fly on the wall as Bumpy reminisces about his days touring with the group back in the ’90s. The latter eulogizes close friend and promoter Kenneth “HeadQCourterz” Walker, who was tragically murdered in 2002; Premier would later name both his studio and his SiriusXM radio show, Live From HeadQCourterz, after his fallen friend.
At the end of the day, this is simply one of the hardest albums in recent memory and sits comfortably in my personal top five releases of 2012. If you truly love hip hop, especially the kind that gets you pumped up and makes you want to wild the fuck out, throw on KoleXXXion and let Premo and Bumpy smack the wax out of your eardrums. To quote Bumpy on the intro to “Shake The Room”: “This is stadium music right here!”