Sure, everyone likes a little Jay-Z, Nelly and DMX party music now and then, but sometimes you just want a bit more to chew on, and for a lot of people that means turning to the world of underground rap.
The Difference, a compilation of 12 new songs due in June on the Official Jointz label, is already catching a buzz thanks to "Clear 'Em Out," an alleged Nelly dis track by KRS-One featuring Tonedeff. According to the album's producer, Domingo (Fat Joe, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony), when he asked KRS-One if the track was a direct attack on the St. Louis rapper, KRS denied it. But the streets not to mention the album's press release say otherwise.
Lyrics like "You tired of me saying what's real hip-hop/ Well I'm tired of you biting my sh-- to go pop" and "Sales don't make you the authority/ It only means you sold out to the white majority" leave little doubt that, directed at Nelly or anyone else, KRS is not a fan of mainstream hip-hop.
Kool G Rap, while also featured on the album, isn't as aggressive about commercial music as KRS is. "I'm not concerned with what anyone else is doing," he said. "I'm just concerned about what I'm doing."
The Difference is populated by such other underground heroes as Dilated Peoples, Punch & Words, the Cocoa Brovaz, Big L, Royal Flush and Craig Mack. The acts were enlisted, according to Domingo, to make a difference in hip-hop music, hence the title of the album.
"Hip-hop is so fabricated right now," Domingo said. "We're trying to bring it down to where it really came from: the underground, the streets. A lot of these cats got mainstream songs, but the whole point of the album was not to do so-called commercial music. We thought, let's put out an album that may not satisfy mainstream ears but the ears of people that want to listen to hip-hop how it was."
The typical underground aesthetic of gritty beats and rhymes abounds on The Difference, heard most clearly in the brief appearance by Tonedeff, whose voice and flow bear a striking resemblance to Eminem's.
Domingo, who was discovered by Marley Marl but said he owes his success to Fat Joe, has personal relationships with all of the acts on the album, making it a labor of love for all involved. But it wasn't just an opportunity to get together and have a good time, he said. This album means something to the artists involved.
"Domingo is not just a producer," Kool G Rap said. "He's a real hip-hop culture-oriented person. He didn't just do this for a couple of dollars like a lot of people just jumping into the game now. He loves it."
Track listing for The Difference, according to Official Jointz:
- "Certified Official" - Dilated Peoples
- "Rumble" - High & Mighty
- "Irrationally Speaking" - Sean P. (a.k.a. Ruck) f/ Illstar
- "Blow It Up, Shut It Down" - K-Slash f/ Mr. P.R.
- "Clear 'Em Out" - KRS-One f/ Tonedeff
- "From the Child to the MC" - Rise
- "Native New Yorker" - Punch & Words
- "Play No Games" - Cocoa Brovaz f/ Mr. Yuk and Animal Cub
- "The Ha Ha Ha" - Craig Mack
- "Watch Yo Mouth" - Deacon the Villain
- "Double Up" - Royal Flush, Big L, Kool G Rap f/ Ma Barker