Hot Fun in the Summertime
Hip-hop albums to beat the heat
By Chase Hoffberger,
1:02PM, Fri. May 16, 2008
Last Friday, just before four in the afternoon, I was driving my roommate to the airport. We’re cruising over the Enfield Road Bridge with the flaps down and the speakers at ear-busting levels when he turns to me and drops the inevitable: “Hey man, can we roll the windows up and use the AC?”
See, I’m from Maryland, where the beginning of May is when the cold fronts finally leave for good. We all brace for the heat to hit in June. But Austin’s in a whole other air duct. So while the summer solstice doesn’t drop for another month, I can’t help but begin pulling out the albums that get me through these dog days.
It’s best when the music feels the heat. Outkast’s 1996 LP ATLiens gets the most burn. It drips with sweat, Andre and Big Boi taking you on a tour of primetime Atlanta, top down. “Elevators (Me and You)” snares slow and hollow as “Babylon” follows Andrea Martin’s down-but-not-out push, “Hoping, wishing, praying to keep my faith in you.” ATLiens drapes like a blanket.
California heat’s handled in the form of the Pharcyde's 1995 release, Labcabincalifornia. It’s mindless hip-hop to take in, South Central’s funky bunch “high as vocal tones” as they bounce and flow (but never break a sweat) over lighthearted “Bullshit,” looking for “Somethin’ That Means Somethin'."
New York spinners ride to Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s 1992 debut, Mecca and the Soul Brother, a blowout of sampled sax licks, hanging synth lines, and packed snares. CL spits extended, amped-up lines like he’s back riffing on the playground, locked in with the Soul Brother. Rock strikes a summertime shimmy on “T.R.O.Y" and “On and On,” stretching from beat-boxed studio freestyle to determined sidewalk step. All the while the horn blows hot in the summer.
With all three albums released in a four-year span some 15 years ago, it appears I’ve missed my hey day, no?