This post was definitely relevant to my interests around the year 2000!
I used to really like Scratch, but kind of saw it for what it was straight away - basically a reggae revival night, but for hip-hop, with some current indie 12s (particularly DJ Spinna productions) and ‘soulquarians’ type stuff thrown in too. Having said that, it attracted a really great, mixed crowd who were there to have fun, and it was a massive success on these terms. It also made a really nice change from going to a hip-hop night and it being 90% guys, all hoods up and screw-faced.
Started to notice ‘indie’ hip-hop in earnest around '97-'97, I thinkd. For me at the time though it wasn’t like with punk/hardcore or indie rock, where if you were into that, you implicitly rejected the mainstream or major label stuff, it was just another seam to be explored. It was really exciting at first too - the early Rawkus and Fondle 'Em 12s (among loads of others) were all awesome. Found that it got stale within a couple of years though, to the point where hearing yet another tune about the four fucking elements would make you want to throw your decks out of the window. Also noticed the rise of a kind of a new indie hip-hop fan around this time that would bang on and on about how the obsession with materialism was “destroying the culture”, despite only being into hip-hop for about two years previous, tops (and also being from the home counties).
This is kind of where Reflection Eternal comes in for me. At first, I thought they, and Kweli, in particular, was phenomenal. Hate to be THAT guy, but I honestly reckon the b-side to his first Reflection Eternal 12" is the best thing he’s done
I totally rate him as an MC, and I like his style a lot, but like others have said, some of his lyrics can be quite clunky, particularly in his more recent stuff (not that I’ve checked masses of it). The ‘conscious’ tag also weighed him down, as did the fact that he was the de facto champion of the ‘real hip-hop’ crew. Appreciate that none of this is his fault, but it did mean that by the time Train of Thought came out, I wasn’t giving him that much play.
Revisiting it now, can see that this was a shame, because when Hi Tek brings his A game, they make genuinely beautiful music. As others have said, ‘Blast’ is an absolute blinding tune. An album full of these and he would have an all time classic. Some of the others on here aren’t far off either, though.
So basically, great album. Really liked revisiting away from all of the baggage I associated with it at the time, and will no doubt play some of it regularly for a decent time to come. Would never have gone back to it if it wasn’t for this thread either, so thanks Aphex. Listening Club strikes again!