Monthly Archives: November 2013

Golden Era: 20th Anniversary of Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle

We here at South Shore Ave are gassing up the DeLorean & taking you back through to the musical Golden Era of 90’s music to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Greatest Time in Hip Hop history. Back in November 1993, three iconic albums were released within a span of fourteen days that forever changed the landscape of hip hop music. A Tribe Called Quest’s 3rd album, Midnight Marauders & Wu-Tang Clan’s debut release Enter Da Wu Tang (36 Chambers) were both released on Nov 9th to massive fanfare & acclaim. Two weeks later, they were both bested sales-wise by the release of Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg’s debut album off of Death Row Records that turned Snoop into a full-fledged mega superstar. Today on The Baseline Blog, we wrap up the final segment of this 3-part blog series the day before the 20th Anniversary of Snoop’s solo debut by asking some questions about the classic LP.

“Let the motion of your body be the key, cuz we/Be the m*********** G Funk family/Now, I’ll play the G in this deadly game/Snoop Dogg is the name, Dogg Pound’s the gang” – Pump Pump

Is Doggystyle the best album to ever come out of the West Coast?

Yeah. I went there. Why not? Is this not debatable? Have you not listened to the this album? Oh boy, I’m getting the sense I’m getting a lot of dirty looks & teeth-sucking here so I’ll say my piece quick. Here’s a list of some of the greatest albums to come out of the left coast….

Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, The Predator

Dr. Dre – The Chronic, Chronic 2001

Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle

2Pac – All Eyez On Me, 2Pacalypse Now

N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton

Young MC – Stone Cold Rhymin’ (I kid, I kid)

One thing to notice, Dr. Dre has his hands in FIVE albums here. I mean, wow. NWA’s album is foundational, Ice Cube’s album set a standard, 2Pac’s album was trendsetting & revengeful, & The Chronic is the most important to come out of the West Coast, so for that, I’ll also say that for this reason, it makes it the best album ever. Not just that it’s widely considered the best hip hop album ever made, but Snoop rode shotgun for most of it. I will say that in retrospect, listening to these albums now (not including Young MC of course), Doggystyle comes a close second, & I mean close. Let’s look at this album another way….

Is Doggystyle the best produced album to come out of the West Coast?

I say yes, & it’s all praise to Dr. Dre on this one. When he has cart blanche to do what he wants on an album, not only do they sound great & become classics (or at least flirt with the line), it sounds cinematic. He’s like Steven Spielberg behind the boards. When you listen to all the albums he’s worked on from The Chronic, to this album, to even 50 Cent’s “Get Rich or Die Trying” & The Game’s “The Documentary” , they all have the same feel, like a larger than life sound to them. They’re like movies, & not in the same way that DJ Khaled says it & makes you roll your eyes. You listen to the albums, & you can almost visualize everything you’re hearing on the spot. I wish I knew how he does it, but it’s an incredible tool that he’s long mastered. Bringing it back to Doggystyle, I honestly believe this is his best all around work production-wise from top to bottom. Match this up with Snoop’s talents & his skyrocketing star power at the time, & you have a groundbreaking masterpiece. Just know there are no holes in this album. Even the “fillers” could have been released as singles. Just because I say that, it doesn’t mean I think it’s the best album ever, but it definitely belongs in the top 10. At least in my eyes.

“Everybody’s got to here the s*** ….”

If branded properly & packaged on satellite radio, would WBALLZ work?

Maybe, but they would only be available after 11pm. I mean, where else would you be able to have on-air radio personalities named DJ Suck T Nuts & DJ EZ Dick? Ok, maybe Shade 45. Even with that, they would probably have to be called DJ STN & DJ EZ if they wanted to be on air when the sun is out. FCC sanctioned or not.

“He is I and I am him/Slim with the tilted brim…”

What songs off this album are the most club relevant in 2013?

4. Who Am I (What’s My Name)?

The first released song off of this album. Love the Blaxploitation-style intro before the beat rolls in. Classic, classic song in every sense even though you don’t normally hear it as much as you should. Lyrics were on point, the record at the time had that “Get ready, I’m about to take over right now” vibe to it. And the video? Part slapstick, part “Check The Rhime” that ends off with a big party and has a girl grinding her ass on top of the dude’s bald head (fast forward to the 3:47 mark). Ok, the video may not have made the video as huge looking back now, but trust me, the song was huge.

3. Doggy Dogg World

This song has my favorite lyric off of this whole album.

“You know some of you n***** is so deceptive/using my styles like a contraceptive/I hope you get burnt…”

Production wise, this is the cleanest, smoothest record on here. I have to say again, Dr. Dre & that Death Row team were really in their prime back then. If there were awards given out that year, Snoop would have won rookie of the year, made the all-star team, won the regular season & finals MVP off this one album alone…. & this would have been one of the signature games everyone would have been talking about. Just a phenomenal record.

2. Gin and Juice

Twenty years after this song was released, this song still gets a party going as if it came out twenty days ago. Arguably the best record off this album. If there was a definition of G-Funk in the dictionary, this song would be the prime example. I really want to say this is the #1 song from Doggystyle that you can play in the clubs right now, I really do…..but I can’t. Here’s why…..

1. I won’t even name it…..

“When I met you last night, baby/Before you opened up your gap/I had respect for you lady/But now I take it all back….”

You already singing along right? Should I continue? Ok, what the hell…..

“Cause you gave me all your p****/(long pause)…..And you even licked my b****/Leave your number on the cabinet/And I promise baby, I’ll give you a call…..”

I hope Moms ain’t reading this right now. In fact, anyone who knows my Moms, don’t…..just…just don’t even show her this post. Yes, I do realize that I’m a grown ass man.

“Next time I’m feeling kinda horny/You can come on over/And I’ll break you off/And if you can’t **** that day baby/Just lay back and open your mouth…”

You feel guilty that you’ve been reading this out, feeling remorse over these lyrics, but yet still can’t stop singing this? & ladies, don’t even lie to yourselves right now, you know you sing this louder than a lot of men do when this comes on. Since we’re here, we may as well finish….

“Cause IIIIIII have neverrrrrr met a giiiiiiiiiiirl……..Thaaaaaaaaat I looooooooove in the whole wide woooooooooorld”  #aintnofun #ifthehomiescanthavenone

Will we ever see a time in music like this ever again?

I can’t speak for the other genres of music, but as far as Hip Hop is concerned? No way. It’s been 20 years & counting since it last happened, & with the way the landscape of music is now, it won’t happen. Take this year for example. The biggest album releases this year came from Drake (Nothing Was The Same), Jay-Z (Magna Carta Holy Grail), & Kanye West (Yeezus). But those albums came out within 3 months of each other not two weeks & outside of possibly Drake, those albums won’t define a generation much less be memorable years from now. The great thing about these albums that we’ve been discussing here, wasn’t the fact that they changed the landscape of hip hop forever, or that they remain ingrained in the Mount Rushmore of the greatest albums ever made; their sounds were all so radically different from one another. That fact is what represents the Golden Era best. Back then, there were so many artists with different musical styles & sounds, and so many of these artists put out such incredible material that a lot of it stood the test of time.

I don’t want to come off as the old guy here who hates everything new or anything like that, cuz admittedly, I’m also predisposed to pumping my arms & loudly yelling out thoughtful phrases like, “Sha-Shabba Ranks/Sha-Sha-Shabbaaarrrrrraaaaanks!” or “Ocho Cincooooo!” when the mood & the music strikes me in a club. Seriously speaking though, I root for good music, especially if it’s new. However, something is clearly missing from today’s hip hop, & anyone who grew up in this generation that read and relate to this blog series over the course of these two weeks would agree. The diversity from the artists you saw from these three albums used to be a regular thing back then. The rappers in the West Coast had their own style. The ones coming from the South drummed to their own bass line. Artists from the Midwest moved & sounded differently too. The East coast guys sounded different from themselves much less from any other region. Now in 2013, you can’t tell the difference between a rapper from Brooklyn and a rapper from Fort Lauderdale unless you googled their bios. Everyone sounds the same, style, lyrics & production. Hip Hop has become a big factory pumping out the next robot to entertain us, similar to how Hondas ship out Accords. We’ve basically become used to this now, & for the most part it is what it is. Some of us have adapted along with the new ways, some of us have left hip hop never to return, & some of us (like me) are left bewildered while we sit on the fence not knowing which way to fall anymore. It’s interesting that High Top Gumby-style cuts, skin fades, Ewing sneakers & hammer pants have come back in rotation.  It’s all good, but sometimes I wish that hip hop from my era was on the next DeLorean driving back to the future.

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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If you missed Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders Anniversary review, click here.

If you missed Wu-Tang’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) Anniversary review, click here.

Golden Era: 20th Anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

We here at South Shore Ave are gassing up the DeLorean & taking you back through to the musical Golden Era of 90’s music to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Greatest Time in Hip Hop history. Back in November 1993, three iconic albums were released within a span of fourteen days that forever changed the landscape of hip hop music. A Tribe Called Quest’s 3rd album, Midnight Marauders & Wu-Tang Clan’s debut release Enter Da Wu Tang (36 Chambers) were both released on Nov 9th to massive fanfare & acclaim. Two weeks later, they were both bested sales-wise by the release of Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg’s debut album off of Death Row Records that turned Snoop into a full-fledged mega superstar. Today on The Baseline Blog, I’ve recruited Jay F. from out of his Touched by Music Studio Lab/Cave & break down the legendary Wu-Tang debut. Get your W’s up….

If you missed Tribe’s Midnight Marauders album post, click here.

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) - Kliknij obrazek, aby zamknąć



“The Wu is too slammin’ for these Cold Killin’ labels/Some ain’t had hits since I seen Aunt Mabel/Be doing artists in like Cain did Abel/Now they money’s getting stuck to the gum under the table” – GZA

ME: This song was the 1st official single from this groundbreaking hip hop group. Let’s just think about this for a minute. This song, this aggressive, frenetic, psychotic, record, was their 1st released single??? Are you kidding me?!?! Now before this record, we’ve heard collaboration/posse-type records before & have been wowed by the results. From Tribe’s “Scenario“, to the Self Destruction track from KRS-One, to the Juice Crew’s “The Symphony“, we’ve experienced the highs of when a collaborative effort works wonders. However, this wasn’t a one-time only posse cut, but this was a group, & it had eight different rappers each with different styles going HARD. It almost didn’t make sense at the time, hearing this type of record. Each year, hip hop continued evolving & elevating from the “Sugar Hill/Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five” beginnings, & it kept getting edgier & more creative. Even with that said, we simply had never seen anything before that could even prepare us for what Wu-Tang was offering. It’s almost like going from a rotary phone to a cordless with call display & 3-way dialing all overnight. It would take you a few minutes just to calibrate what was actually happening.

All the lyrical gems dropped in the song in itself were ridiculous, but the way RZA handled the production was like an elite-level cook. Its part Bomb Squad (Public Enemy’s production team), part martial arts, part piano loops & all chaos….with about 2 cups of street ruggedness thrown in. The beat Superman elbows you in the face John Jones style. It’s one of their best records they ever made, plain & simple.

JAY: Revolutionary is what I think of when I look back on the Wu era. A group of lyricists each with their own style and finesse that remarkably was able to complement each other without drowning each other out. For sure not an easy task, but The Wu was able to get it done for several years.

And they were smart, either smart or caught up in the rise of martial arts movie movement that practically played on every hip hop head’s televisions at one point during those times. It was wicked, the fighting, sword slashing sound effects heard throughout their songs is one of the many reason why The Wu Tang Clan was so embraced. Of course, all thanks to RZA’s production who brought all of these qualities to life.

With all that being said, looking back on their first album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, they almost had no choice but to make “Protect Ya Neck”, their 1st official single. That song to me was the only one that could convey the seriousness of this group’s intentions in entering the hip hop world. It cunningly gives you a healthy dose of what each member is capable of doing and that RZA was going to be a force to be reckoned with in the beat making world. They each represented themselves enough that you couldn’t wait to hear more of their styles as you progressed though the album.


“Started off on the island, AKA Shaolin/Ni**as wilin’, gun shots thrown, the phone dialin’/Back in the days of 8 now, making a tape now/Rae gotta get a plate now”  – Raekwon

“Kicking the fly clichés/Doing duets with Rae & A/Happens to make my day”

“Sunshine plays a major part in the daytime…” – Ghostface Killah

ME: I’m going to piggyback off on your revolutionary views on the Wu for a second Jay. Outside of the many ways this group affected the culture of our generation, an underrated fact that they did with this song: they helped usher Hype Williams into the game. Shooting his first major video, Williams’ vignettes matched the essence of the lyrics from Ghost & Raekwon. We have seen lots of videos shot in the hood from our respective rappers, but until then, we never seen it shot so cleanly. It almost looked like a mini movie, with all the slo-mo shots of the Clan shooting dice, hanging out, their crews posting up on Lexus’, Acura’s, & MPV’s, the cinematic look helped to make this song feel even bigger than it already was. After that, the who’s who of the Hip Hop & R&B industry clamoured to get that same special touch from Williams that he helped give to Wu. You don’t think this video was a factor in sculpting the way videos were shot? Look at this video & compare it to all the other videos that came from this album. All of them were cool but, Can it Be looks like it was shot by Scorcese compared to the others. Admit it Jay, you weren’t expecting me to go into that direction were you? Also, the rumors that I wrote this paragraph in a smoker’s robe while sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of Brandy like those Turner Classic Movie intros…. are mostly false.

JAY: Check point for you Cal. I had no idea Hype did this video, or that you sip brandy naked sitting in front of a fireplace (I assume wearing the robe was the “mostly false” part…you friggin weirdo). I can see why other artists lined up for him to shoot their video. It’s amazing how a video can play an important role in capturing the essence of a song. Wu chilling in the streets, black hoodies, talking, cracking jokes. We’ve all done it at some point, hanging out later at night with your peeps, those were at times the best moments, when you can laugh and be real. Then the video cuts to day time shots, simple and focused on the two lyricists doing their thing.

A few things that become apparent while listening to this song (or watching this video) is the connection that Raekwon & Ghostface Killah had. There’s always inner bonds in a clique where individuals see eye to eye more than others (not in a bad way at all), But if you think about it in regards to this song, which other Wu members could have pulled it off as smooth as those guys? Once again RZA’s production was tight and works really well with Hype’s vision of the video. Not to mention Wu Tang was brave to make a song of this tempo on this album, especially when you listen to their other songs, but they were able to pull it off. They showed people that “Yes, we can get you all riled up with songs like Protect Ya Neck, but we can also cool it down, still stay tight lyrically, & keep it laid back enough for slow head bob”. Funny how the Range Rover even back then was the bomb SUV…

ME: Nah man, you got that wrong. You can never do that in front of a fireplace. One of the flames flickers & sparks out of the pit towards you….yeah, you really can’t come back from that. To jump back on the video for a second, can you imagine in 2013 if a group were to come out in a video posing in front of Acuras TLs & Mazda 3s? You’d know for sure their budget is extremely tight right off the bat, and most likely it would be 3-4 of their friends shooting the video off their iPhones & Galaxys from various angles. What would happen faster: Us changing the channel or the strippers video chicks walking off the set? Crazy. Funny how much things have changed since then.


“The courts played me short, now I face incarceration/Pacin’, going upstate’s my destination/Handcuffed in back of the bus, forty of us/Life as a shorty shouldn’t be so rough.” – Inspectah Deck

ME: Let’s just get this out of the way right now, this is easily one of the greatest songs, not hip hop songs, but songs that’s ever been made. Put this in the same category with any song the Beatles, Elvis, Elton John & any other legendary artists or group did that affected the society that they lived in. I’m not saying this with hyperbole here. Think for a second of the cultural impact this song still has. That term C.R.E.A.M. is probably the most used word that affected pop culture in the last 25+ years. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. It fits in every structure of life, from the most determined stockbroker on Wall Street, to the shadiest drug dealer, & everyone in between & to the side. It’s how our society is built. We do everything that we can to stack that paper, whether it’s to be responsible for the future or to floss & pop bottles at the club today, we may not admit it, but it is our life’s mantra. We all want to touch the good life in some way, so this was part of the genius of this song that they touched on this topic. A slang acronym made by them that’s timeless today as it was back in 1993. It’s an incredibly creative move that makes them relevant being that you always think about them when this word is mentioned, or when you grinding hard to make that money.

We haven’t even gotten to the lyrics dropped by Raekwon & Inspectah Deck, touching on their hard lives growing up & the decisions that they’ve made to make a better one. It’s done in a gritty way, but it’s actually a positive song when you break it down. Two things I’ll mention here: 1) Deck’s verse in this song is very underrated. Rae’s verse is sweet, but why I say this is that from looking through the DJ/Producer glasses here, the amount of songs that sampled Deck’s lines in this song is ridiculous. 2) No one in this group could have pulled off the hook better than Method Man. This dude was a true superstar back then & his flow, his voice (sounding different than anything we heard before or since he entered the game), & the way he carried himself on any song he did, I mean, he stands out. He could be rapping out the words to the Marine Land song & you’re already nodding your head. His voice is magnetizing & you can’t help but listen to what he’s saying at all times. While I won’t say the song wouldn’t be as popular if someone else did the chorus, Meth on the hook just brings the record up to a higher level. I just can’t imagine anyone else in the group drawing you in like that.

JAY: Well said Cal! “C.R.E.A.M.” was indeed one of Wu’s tightest tracks of all time. Method Man kills on this track “Cream get tha money, dollar dollar bills ya’ll“. Every so often you’d like to be a fly on the wall when certain tracks are materialized, like what came first? Would it be the chorus, the lyrics, or the beat? RZA’s production on the track is tight; he can really do no wrong when it comes to his beat making technique, the art of sampling at its very best. Even though this song isn’t as hard hitting as others on the album, you can’t help but wild out when you hear the beat drop in the first few bars. Then off the bat Method Man comes in with the legendary chorus for a quick hit, followed by Rae and Deck.

Both Rae and Deck come off great in this song. However to me, with how the track is laid out, Rae gets the most props off the track while Deck bringing up the rear kind of gets left behind. No disrespect to Deck because his lyrics are tight as well. But Rae coming in after the chorus as the primary beat drops makes his verse even better. True story telling indeed, we get a little glimpse in to the beginnings of two of Wu’s best lyricists. I like how they both come off on this track, it’s simple, and for the lack of better words “not noisy”….you get the story straight up with no chaser. The beat is clean, not distracting and the lyrics are crisp, and you right Cal, another collabo where only those two guys can bring life to this track. They both have a kind off lazy lyrical style which plays to the laid back flow of this track even though the message is no joke. C.R.E.A.M. is definitely one of the classic Wu tracks, which even though it might not be played as often as it should be nowadays, it still feels good to hear. I think I still got some Wu Wear jeans in my closet, gotta represent at the next old skool jam.


“Shame on a Nuh! Who tried to run game on a Nuh!” 

Yo hut one hut two hut three hut!/Ol’ Dirty Bastard live & uncut”

– Do I really have to tell you here?

ME: We can’t get away with talking about this album without mentioning Dirty. Has there ever been a character like this in hip hop before? He was like the crazy drunk uncle out of the group, always sounded like he was 3 drinks over his personal limit. As wild as he was, he still put it together in a creative manner that somehow made sense at the end. He was the other side of the spectrum to Method Man just in the sense that what Meth brought to the table in terms of his smooth flow & husky voice, Dirty brought the crazy, almost nonsensical style that had no origin to it whatsoever. To flip it in martial arts terms, he really was the verbal drunken master if there ever was one. I always loved him the most on his song, it’s like RZA decided that this beat was too smooth for his liking & just threw him in there to see what would happen next.

Also, he had the most creative radio edit for the N-word. Usually any curse word either gets blanked out, has a ding or some crazy sound effect, or it gets played in reverse so that it can be playable for radio mix shows. Usually that’s the responsibility of the producer or sound engineers to deal with that. I would love to know who decided for him to do that, be it him or RZA to come up with “Nuh!” to replace the N-word, but it added a funny element to any record he was on. To be honest, it’s one of the reasons why I love listening to the radio edited version over the original, just to hear “Nuh!” That, and my one quick childhood story regarding this record. One day I was listening to this song on the radio & the chorus was coming in as my Father walked into my room to hear what I was listening to. When he asked what that “Nuh” sound was, I explained to him what it meant, while nodding my head to the beat. He took one looong look at me….held that look for an extra second…..& then just walked out of the room. Just that priceless, “My son is a dumbass” look on his face alone will never make me forget this song, and it’s all due to ODB.

JAY: Ahhh Ol’ Dirty Bastard. I can’t even say he was revolutionary, because no one has ever been able to duplicate or even imitate his lyrical style. He was indeed a “one of a kind” rapper that will go down in history as the best there ever was (more like the best creativity-wise there ever was). “Got burnt once but that was only gonorrhea”, Oh Dirty, the ladies won’t care. They would still want a piece of you.

Cal you had right it, listening to the clean version is much more memorable that the original. Method Man’s verse is a prime example of how sick he was lyrically. His style was unmatched back then and I would still think this now. His flow was tight, quick witted and clever. Shoot, while writing this response to you, I’ve listened to Meth’s verse 10 times already, I can’t get enough of it. Ol’ Dirty’s verses are imaginable as ever, that 3 drinks over his personal limit might be an understatement.  He might have also been under that “Oooh Weee” when dropping his verses. You almost don’t know what to expect when ODB touches a track, but you always know that it will be crazy, and like me, you’ll wait for someone to post the lyrics online so you can rap along. Oh yeah, Raekwon’s on this track as well. He actually didn’t really need to be, but who am I to tell them what to do??? Once again RZA does his magic on the beats, but honestly I don’t even really care about it as much as I would on other tracks, its ODB and Method Man’s verses that make this track great.

Shame on a “Nuh!” to anyone who didn’t like this track.

ME: A perfect example of the levels of crazy that ODB can reach? That Woo-Haa remix he did with Busta Rhymes. I know, I know, it has absolutely nothing to do with this album….I honestly just wanted an excuse to show this video.


“From the slums of Shaolin/Wu-Tang Clan strikes again/The RZA, the GZA, Ol Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghost Face Killer AND/M-E-T-H-O-D MAN!”

– GZA….then Method Man

JAY: Thank you sir, for giving me the pleasure to start this convo off talking about one of my favorite Wu Tang tracks ever “Method Man”. This track brings back great memories, but most notably though were the times when I would listen to this track on my way to school early morning before home period for basketball practice. There was an energy in this track that got me pumped before, after and throughout my day. Needless to say, this track was in heavy rotation on my Walkman (Sheesh! A Walkman, how far we have come).

There were several elements in this track that made it special for me. From the mentioning of the other group members in the intro, to when Meth first comes in with the chorus, to the RZA’s production. All of which made this track a highlight on the album. Once again, Meth shows you that his lyrical style is unmatched, and more so his capability of holding down a track with little help from the others. So it was no surprise when Wu started releasing solo artists, the debut started off with Method Man’s “Tical” album.

Method Man was clever in how he linked his versus together, catchy, and at times a little silly.

“Patty cake patty cake, hey! The Method Man/Don’t eat Skippy, Jif or Peter Pan/Peanut butter, Cause I’m not butter/In fact I snap back like a rubber/band, I be Sam, Sam I am/And I don’t eat green eggs and ham/Style will hit ya, wham!, then goddamn/You be like ‘oh shit that’s the jam’…”

But that’s what made it so great to listen and rap along too. There aren’t many tracks out there that I can really enjoy listening to, and I’m glad that this one is by far one of the best.

ME: Silly? A little silly?? Jay, this man in a song — representing one of the most rugged groups of all time – mentions in order:

  • Patty Cake(s)
  • Skippy
  • Jif
  • Peter Pan
  • Peanut Butter (what, no mention of jam??)
  • Sam I am
  • Green Eggs AND…… Ham.

Take a look at that list again. He actually spent time name-dropping different brands of Peanut Butter & Dr. Seuss in his rhymes. He then goes on to quote Tweety Bird & Fat Albert 25 seconds later. Can you imagine what was going on in the mind of the sound engineer when he was mixing down the record? The poor bastard probably picked up the phone multiple times to call RZA & Meth to ask if they’re absolutely sure they don’t want to redo the first half of the verse, thought better of it, hung up & then just continued on with the song with a perplexed look on his face. Considering how the rest of his career turned out though, I’m willing to let this slide. I almost feel like he knew he was so hot back then that he wanted to test the limits of how far he can push us by sliding that in his lyrics. As a teenager, I would play this song relentlessly but always pause slightly at the Green Eggs part like, “really?” I think though that in a funny way, it actually speaks to how great Meth was & is as a rapper & musician. I won’t even get into the fact that he’s by far the only rapper in this group that pulls it off (seriously, I’m not even touching that), by having an authentic voice & delivery, it can really take you far with your audience. I’m not just talking rappers, but singers too.

Whenever someone like Marvin Gaye or Al Green, or even a Ron Isley starts to sing a song, you don’t even need to hear what they’re actually even singing about, they’ve already roped you in with their voice and delivery. The charisma, smoothness, swagger, however you want to describe it, sounds so natural that it comes off as another instrument woven into the music. It’s an extremely powerful quality to have if you’re blessed to even have the quality. In hip hop, rappers like Method Man, Snoop Dogg, & Notorious B.I.G. are examples of this. As soon as they start rapping, you’re pulled in until they’re finish. Didn’t matter what they said, they had you. On top of that, they all had the lyrics & wordplay to match that natural gift they possessed & that’s what made them superstars. This is the greatest trick that Meth shows you in his song, he was magnetic & you couldn’t help but stop what you were doing to hear him speak…..even if he was jacking the words off of Dr. Seuss.

To take it a bit further, it’s that magnetizing spirit that Wu Tang had on our generation. Once they had us, we were taken in by everything they said & did. They changed the game in ways we didn’t even fathom. They affected everything & everyone, from the hood to the suburbs, the streets to the boardroom. They were the first group to sign a record deal that allowed ALL of the members to sign their own individual deals. They were one of the first set of artists to have their own clothing line, setting the path for guys like Diddy & Jay-Z to be wildly rich from this business. They affected our slang, our footwear, shiiit, we even watched more Kung-Fu flicks because of them.  Most importantly, they released large amounts of classic material for almost 7 years straight right up until Ghostface’s Supreme Clientele album…..but 36 Chambers was the foundation where the house was built on. Twenty years after their legendary debut, their influence is still felt & for that we are all still very thankful.

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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Very special thanks to Jay F. for his contributions to this article/blog posting. His radio show The Limelight airs every Saturday from 6 – 8PM on CJLO. You can catch the podcast versions of his show at

Golden Era: 20th Anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders

We here at South Shore Ave are gassing up the DeLorean & taking you back through to the musical Golden Era of 90’s music to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Greatest Time in Hip Hop history. Back in November 1993, three iconic albums were released within a span of fourteen days that forever changed the landscape of hip hop music. A Tribe Called Quest’s 3rd album, Midnight Marauders & Wu-Tang Clan’s debut release Enter Da 36 Chambers were both released on Nov 9th to massive fanfare & acclaim. Two weeks later, they were both bested sales-wise by the release of Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg’s debut album off of Death Row Records that turned Snoop into a full-fledged mega superstar. This week, we’ll be taking a look back at each album, reminisce over our favorite tracks & the impact it made on the music industry. Today on The Baseline Blog, with the help of my friend Phil N. DeBlanc, we will take you back and review our favorite songs from ATCQ’s Midnight Marauders LP. Hold on to your seats…

Award Tour

“Lyrically I’m Mario Andretti on the MoMo/Ludicrously speedy or infectious with the slo-mo/Heard me in the eighties, J.B.’s on “The Promo”/In my never-ending quest to get the paper or the caper.” – Q-Tip

Me: Not sure where to start here Phil.  Do we touch on the infectious chorus done by Trugoy from De La Soul? The all-out, xylophone-flavored production from Tribe itself? Or the fact that Montreal or Toronto didn’t get a shout out on the chorus? Is that too much to ask? I mean, Montreal DID win the Stanley Cup that year & the Blue Jays DID win back-to-back World Series right before the LP dropped.  Phife’s a sports nut, he couldn’t get clearance for Canada to represent on the hook too???  Ok, maybe I’m being a little selfish here. In any event though, this was the official first song released off of Midnight Marauders. What I loved about this song more than anything else is that it raised the bar even higher from their other work. I love Check The Rhyme, Bonita Applebum, Jazz (We Got It), & everything that came from Tribe, but this was the 1st example of how they now had their craft mastered from top to bottom in every sense. This still remains as their most popular & highest charting song believe it or not. 

Phil: “Doo dat – doo dat – doo doo dat dat dat “ – Still more memorable than most stuff out now…with an xylophone no less!

I thought I was the only one wanting some Canadian love from NY hip hop. Didn’t BDK (Taste of Chocolate intro) and ATCQ ( Award Tour) know how hard it was for us to support them? Waiting weekly for CKUT to stumble their way into playing some rap on the radio? Did they not know how heavy Walkman’s and Discman’s were? How many times did your rinky dink headphones with the metal band dent your high top, but you didn’t care cause the tracks were tight? How much allowance money did I spend on batteries and tapes to support the cause? Yet Paris and Tokyo got the love? Are you kidding me? Eh?

I think this was the track where they announced that they had arrived. This was their James Harden track. Allow me to explain the similarities. A bit of buzz when they first declared they were eligible for the draft. Some heads knew but they weren’t front page headline worthy….Had to bide their time on the bench while Durant and Westbrook (Native Tongues) got more shine. 6th man status nonetheless….Learned the playbook and how to master their craft and when it was time to blow…enter 2012 James Harden. Fear the Beard!…now everyone wants to sign on for the ride.

I was always more partial to Phife’s verse because he had came off like a lyrical Napoleon. Though he was small in stature he could hold his own with his words. Until my pituitary gland kicked in, this guy was my idol…

Me: First of all, you spent a lot of money on batteries? You didn’t keep them in the fridge in the same slot where you kept the stick of margarine & the cheese? You had to stretch out the life span of everything back then. Waste not, want not! Either you did that or you found the special on the economy-sized red Eveready batteries & just kept them in your knapsack until you got down to the last pair. The things we had to do to listen to music.

Phife does a great job of finishing off the track, but man, Q-Tip kinda just wowed you lyrically here. An underrated exercise in lyricism that often goes unnoticed at times, because of the chorus & the infamous “Do Dat” part of the song. But that “Do Dat” line did two things for his verse: It dumbed down his verse just enough for the average listener to hold on to while also making it catchy & fun enough to be remembered forever. Seriously, even if you’re not totally familiar with Tribe’s work, if you tell someone in our generation “Do Dat Do Dat…”, almost 100% of the time, they finish the sentence for you while nodding their heads. This is partly what I meant by them having their style & craft mastered. Having the skills to appeal to the hip hop heads who hungered for the verbal wordplay, to the average person who just wanted to have a good time & dance to your work, while keeping everyone happy AND making a memorable classic in an effortless manner. Not as easy as it sounds or looks.

INTERESTING FACT: Q-Tip was inspired by & then used Jade’s “Don’t Walk Away” bass line to make this track.

Sucka Ni**a

What you figure, rhyme-wise I do the figure eight so concisely/Musically we are the herb so sit back and light me/Inhale….. My style is kinda fat reminiscent of a whale” – Q-Tip

Me: This song probably represented the many times in hip hop that the word “Nigga” sparked a controversy. In this case Q-Tip took it upon himself here to show us his views on the topic. Tip weaves through each topic in the track seamlessly: how he feels about brothers acting as something that they’re not, to the origins of the word, to the position that he & his generation feel about the word, to the simple fact that he just can’t stop saying it. Two things about this track I’ll address right off the top of my head: 1) Probably one of the most underrated tracks on this album; & 2) This is probably one of the first times that I believed that even back then, Q-Tip was probably headed towards a solo career at some point.

Don’t get me wrong, Tip & Phife Dawg play off their skills & styles like few rappers did before them or since. Those two together were like soulful medicine, & that greatness stuck out like a sore thumb even with all the great rappers & groups in the Golden Era of Hip Hop that Tribe lived in, but Q-Tip really owned that track. You didn’t need Phife on that track nor did you want him to be on it. Just a beautifully cohesive marriage between lyrical substance, social content, simplicity, production & rare groove sampling. It’s one of the many, many reasons why I miss 90’s hip hop, especially when you turn on the radio & hear the songs that are being played now. I mean, will you ever see platinum selling group that raps about good times, focus on musical substance & doesn’t pop molly/sip lean/smoke kush/shoot people in the face again?

Phil: I never played this song too loud at home because it had “foul language” peppered generously in the chorus. If my Tribe was confiscated…maaaaaan…I shudder at the thought. I don’t think I would have been able to successfully explain to my parents that a man named “Q-Tip” was trying to teach me something.

Thanks to the total degeneration of my once beloved and misunderstood hip hop, I barely listen to these new so called artists. One particular reason is because their songs do not have much of a message. Sucka Nigga however, is the opposite.  As a matter of fact, this song could be deemed prophetic;

“Now the little shorties say it all of the time/And a whole bunch of ni**as throw the word in they rhyme”

Insert almost any modern day artist into that list. It seems like anytime an artist has a brain cramp, they call on the N-word like Mighty Mouse to save the day (Busta Rhymes’ ears must be ringing). Anyway, back to the track. In my opinion it was lyrically ingenious. The song possesses an educational and sociocultural aspect that can often be overlooked. I figure ATCQ had tons of notepads and loose leaf of brainstormed rhymes. By no means were they low on creative juices. So how brilliant is it that the second verse isn’t that different from the first? Apparently, there was a message we were intended to absorb over that Freddie Hubbard sample…

“It means that we will never grow, you know the word dummy/Other ni**as in the community think it’s crummy/But I don’t, neither does the youth cause we/Em-brace adversity it goes right with the race”

Could that be it? I think so. The use of the N-word and those who try to justify it is a topic of discussion for another time. But I will raise this question: How many other artists could have pulled off this title and track 20 years ago and made it a classic?

Me: Back in 1993, over that production? Not too many guys to be honest. Ice Cube possibly, because every now & again he would rap about something social, but with the content & this beat it wouldn’t have been as smooth, & it definitely would have been edgier. I’d like to think that Tupac would have done a really good job on this track actually, his vocals & emotion would have worked fine here, plus he’s taken stabs at socially conscious & uplifting music (like “Keep Your Head Up” for example) around these times. Chuck D would have sounded too aggressive, & as much as I loved Guru, he wasn’t lyrical enough to make it a classic (although the production from DJ Premier would have been incredible). We can pretty much forget about groups like EPMD & Onyx. If Redman did it, it may have been an interlude called “Sucka Niggaz & Bitches” & it would have had so much weed talk on the record we would have gotten high from just listening to it. I think Nas, Common, Andre 3000, & Lauryn Hill could have done well with it too, but they were still a year away from changing the game.

I agree that the N-word topic is a discussion for another time, but it just goes to show you after the whole civil rights movement in the 1960’s & the changing of black culture since that period, that it’s still very much a hot button topic then as it was in the 1990s, as it still is today. When Nas wanted to named his LP the “Ni**er Album” back in 2008, it raised so many debates & controversy at the time that it almost ostracized him altogether. Even though his career was still intact after that situation, you did think at that point with all the backlash that this might be the beginning of the end for him. At least I did. As we also learned through the negative sides of social media & Joel Ward’s 2012 playoff experience, we still have a long way to go as a society when it comes to the use of this word & the history that continues to be built upon it.

To bring it back full circle though, if this song came out right now, it would still be relevant today. We still use the word as a term of endearment amongst our friends, it’s still sprinkled up & down in our favorite hip hop songs, it’s still an uncomfortable topic to discuss publicly, & Busta would still make love to this word if it were a woman. A part of me still wonders if he makes another song one day that tops “Break Your Neck”. The amount of times he dropped the N-Word in that song, was like the hip hop equivalent of dropping 70 points in a game. It was almost kind of amazing actually.

Electric Relaxation 

“Let me hit it from the back, girl I won’t catch a hernia/Bust off on your couch now you’ve got Seamens furniture” – Phife

Phil: ” I am speechless…I am without speech!” – Elaine Benes (Seinfeld)

Bonita Applebum Part 2 for the guys who wanted to get it in but didn’t know how to express themselves. Whoever she was back then, she couldn’t relate. Songs like these are why my batteries were in the fridge and my wacky high top had dents in it. No, its not because my barber was subpar, its because this track had me vibing. There are a handful of instruments that can resonate well with me: pianos, horns (only because I was a victim of the Pete Rock production) and bass.  I can envision this song being performed in a jazz bar on the down low with an older bassist just strumming along laying it down. Sometimes there are songs that are so perfectly timeless that nobody should ever touch them again. You can admire them…but from a distance. This, to me, belongs in that category (see MJ or Stevie’s catalogue).

Me: If I had to pick two timeless records off this album that might still be played 50 years from now, Award Tour would be one, &  Electric Relaxation would be the other. Just the way it starts off, it sounds so smooth but you’re not 100% sure what to expect just yet. Then the strum of the guitar comes in from that Mystic Brew sample & Tribe’s already in a chick’s ear trying to get the draws like Tommy from Martin. That in itself would have been it in terms of the track, but then Q-Tip passes it off to Phife Dawg & he utters the words:

“I like ’em Brown, Yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian/Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation…”

The song went from good, to great, to legendary in 4.7 seconds. That line took the song to a whole other level. This song might be the pre-cursor to the Ice Cream hook that Method Man cooked up 2 years later on Raekwon’s classic, “Only Built for Cuban Linx” album. Plus the fact that Phife flashes his West Indian love & roots on wax, I mean, for a teenager of Trini descent in ’93? Mind blowing. It was like Phife was one of us.  It made him more relatable. You’re right about one thing though, if this song came out as an instrumental from Tribe like Marvin Gaye did with “T Plays it Cool”, it might have still been a hit. Production on this record is incredible.

INTERESTING FACT: Kanye and Consequence tried to do something to this beat a few years ago. Yikes. It was as if someone Botoxed the Mona Lisa.

Lyrics to Go

” I’m Jordan with the mic (uh), wanna gamble?” – Phife

Phil: Aside from the fact that it has the best 4-second intro in my Tribe memory bank, there’s something hypnotic about this song. It’s a kaleidoscope beat which again, forces you to rely on the lyrics to navigate through. Another ATCQ beat that only they could have pulled off successfully. You know what? Sometimes when we feel certain artists, we grant them creative leeway. The experimental “one off” examples:

I don’t even feel like they worked that hard on this one, it flowed like a freestyle. What are the odds that they banged this one out in one take? And talk about hypnotic beats, this was on loop 4x straight while I wrote this segment. Cruise control music at its finest….

Me: Did you really have to bring up the Electric Circus album, you bastard?? I mean, we already cremated that album as hip hop listeners & Common fans.  We even sprinkled the ashes & knitted cloth into the ocean while wiping away tears. Shit, even Common has his copies of that album in his storage unit. He already apologized by giving us “Be” & “Finding Forever”. I feel like that’s a low blow dude, even if he isn’t reading this.

The back & forth between Phife & Tip on this was on pre-Jadakiss & Styles P levels, the verbal sparring mixed with the never ending Mimmie Ripperton sample. Both of them were at their best, it’s actually debatable if we’ve heard any better lyrically from them. You say it comes off as a freestyle, it’s as if they were in a cypher in front of an A&R trying to sign their first deal. It’s almost like you can feel the hunger in each word. That’s actually pretty remarkable that they still sounded like that even though they came off the success of Low End Theory. This was the 2nd to last track on the album & they were still trying to make our heads spin.

I’m still not over that Electric Circus low blow by the way.

Oh My God

“Jalick…Jalick ya wind up ya hip/Drafting of the poets, I’m the #7 pick/Licks licks licks boy, ‘pon ya backside (x2)” – Q-Tip

Phil: No matter where you are or what you’re doing, I guarantee you sing along. Admit it. Thought so. Here’s another song with a classic intro and solid sample, right? Just add it to their list. Sampling really is an art and why I loved hip hop so much. You know that feeling when you hear an old track from the 60’s – 70’s and then it hits you like, “Hey! Wait a minute! They sampled this to make _____!” Then you have that proud MacGwyver moment because you figured it out. But then you realize you could never turn an umbrella & lawn mower (samples) into a getaway helicopter (beat) like they did?

There’s that jazzy base again. Phife gets my vote on this one. He only had one verse and he made the most of it. That’s an art that Vinny (Naughty By Nature) never mastered. It isn’t because he was the weakest of the two by any means either.

“Used to have a crush on Dawn from En Vogue/It’s not like honey dip would want to get with me/but just in case I own more condoms than TLC” 

Interesting excerpt, right? Well, anyone ever think that this verse might have influenced Biggie to pen “Dreams”? I don’t have the timeline, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did? Can’t you just see something like this happening?

Q-Tip gave him one of the best lead-ins ever and once he took off with “Trini Gladiator” and culminated with “Funky Diabetic” it was a wrap. They could have faded to the outro and it wouldn’t have made a difference. I ask you this, was Q-Tip’s verse really necessary? Why did he get two anyway? Make-up verses?

Me: That was the beauty of these two guys. You can say that Q-Tip was the “lead” out of the two & Phife was the 1A if we had to technically label their positions, but when Phife was ready to get into a beat’s ass, Q-Tip more than willingly stepped to the side & let Phife go do his thing. To answer your question though, I don’t think Q-Tip’s 2nd verse was needed really other than to make the song long enough to be usable for radio airplay. This is the one song off Marauders where the video is forever imprinted into my head. Tip & Phife running after Shaheed’s float with the little kids & Busta Rhymes in his “Guest spot, rah-rah, yellow raincoat & matching hat, pre-Guiness Book of World Record for N-Word mentioning” glory screaming the Lord’s good name on top of the convenient store. Great times!

It always seemed as though they were having so much fun together, be it recording, doing videos & shows. It’s that quality that makes them the most relatable, unlike some of these other groups that were larger than life at the time (ie. Public Enemy, Naughty, Cypress Hill), Tribe made you feel as if they were your boys that you hung with, even if they were superstars at the time themselves.

Although I don’t think Phife’s TLC lyric predated Biggie’s Dreams, I’m pretty sure that when Biggie heard this track, he smiled & nodded.

Album Cover and Closing Thoughts

Phil: Never to be replicated or duplicated. One of the greatest covers in hip hop, if not the music industry. A guess who or who’s who of the golden years…. and Sean Combs managed to slide his way in there (bottom left corner of the rear). Who let Verbal Kint (Keiser Sose) in the photo shoot? Imagine that he probably grossed more than Tribe and everyone else on the cover combined. Where’s the justice? Based on their facial reactions, maybe that’s what they were all told before their portrait was taken (look at them)!

You know how Chris Webber probably regrets not taking part of that Fab Five documentary (man, how great are those ESPN Docs)? Who do you think might have passed on being part of the shoot? Or missed the call? Gang Starr? Naughty by Nature? LL Cool J? Where was Biggie? Grand Puba? Hmmm….

I am lucky to have an older brother who was my gatekeeper into music. Some of the music he brought home wasn’t even worth puncturing the holes at the top of a blank cassette. Other times everything works and we are blessed with a masterpiece. Vinyl turned to tapes, tapes to CDs and CDs to data. No matter the format, this album should be immortalized in that pantheon of hip hop lore. Also remember that Hot Sex was on the European version. Damn man!!!!!

I’ll say this, as good as Phife was on all these albums we should acknowledge that Q-Tip was the mastermind of the beats. I would compare Q-Tip to Erick Sermon and Phife was Parrish Smith. You never knew how bad one would miss the other until it actually happened. That’s when we got Amplified and uhh…Ventilation. There must still be enough slices of that humble pie in Phife’s freezer.

Tribe beats were jazzy, experimental, easy going and non threatening. Essentially, that was the recipe for success. Somehow, the game changed and the fun loving message got lost. Don’t believe me? How many times did they ever rhyme about getting or having money? Exactly.

Me: The Marauders album cover is the official time capsule for hip hop. The hottest DJ’s,  artists, producers, movers & shakers in the industry represented on the cover of that time. Never seen anything like that before or since, & I think it adds to the mystique of this album. When I first spent my lunch money on the tape (yes, I said tape), I remember not even listening to it right away cuz I spent so much time trying to figure out the faces on this album. Whenever I look back on it as time goes on, I still get surprised by the faces that made this cover. Dr. Dre? Too Short? Puffy???? Actually, the Puffy one makes sense for that time though. He was the hottest thing going at Uptown Records, helped to make Jodeci & Mary J. Blige superstars, & had already started a buzz on the streets with Biggie Smalls earlier that summer.

You do bring up a funny point though. Can you imagine how some of those cats felt that either ignored the call, or worse, didn’t even get called for this? How awkward must those conversations have been afterward, especially when the album was flying off the shelves?

Neglected Artist: Yo Tip? What’s happening man! Congrats on the successful album homie. Yo man, um…how come you didn’t call me for the cover shoot man??? I live 10 minutes away from the spot!

Tip: You mean you didn’t get the message??? Nah son, I left you a message on your answering machine! What’s your number again man?

N.A: Come on Tip, it’s 555-718-1234!

Tip: Ahhhhh shit dawg, I have 555-718-123…5 man! Oh man, my bad…my bad……yo, I can call you back though?

N.A: Come on son……sigh…….aieet man, I guess that’s cool. I know I was having trouble with my answering machi…………hello? Hello???

****sound of dial tone on the other end****

I said this before, but it bears mentioning again: When will you ever see a group like this again, especially in today’s musical landscape? A group who just rhymed mostly about good times.  Their songs didn’t involve drugs, maiming or murdering people, made you dance & have a good time, and yet, still managed to sell millions of records? The formula’s been tried since, but always failed. Slum Village has some success, but Jay Dee left before they had a chance to make a real impact. Little Brother came after them & had a nice little buzz, but it died once they tried to go major with their The Minstrel Show LP & flopped miserably on the charts (even though that album was really good). Of course, their producer 9th Wonder left them too shortly afterward. Then the group Strange Fruit came out a few years ago, but I bet you the first time you heard of them was at the beginning of this sentence. We’ve been waiting for someone to replace that void Tribe left in music, but we have to accept the fact that they’re simply irreplaceable. We just have to continue listening to this album along with all their other work whenever we need that fix; & pray that they do a reunion concert in our city so that we can see them in person. It’s for this reason why they’re part of the Golden Era of hip hop music. However, like any great era in any type of genre, once it ends, it ends & that’s it. That’s why we remember those times as fondly as we do.

Last question: You know whenever we discuss the greatest producers in hip hop history (ie. Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Timbaland, RZA, The Neptunes, Kanye West), is there any reason why Q-Tip never gets mentioned? If this is one of the greatest hip hop groups ever, & he was the man behind their classic songs, shouldn’t he at the very least get an honorable mention? He worked outside of the group too & made classic songs with Nas (One Love), Mobb Deep (Temperature’s Rising, Give Up the Goods, and Drink Away The Pain), & Janet Jackson (Got Til It’s Gone) just for starters, yet gets ignored to some extent historically.

The List of Faces on the Midnight Marauders album cover:

Afrika Bambaataa /AMG/Ant Banks/Awesome Two/Beastie Boys (Mike D, Adrock, MCA)/Black Moon/Busta Rhymes/Casual/Chi Ali/Chuck D/The Cold Crush Brothers (Almighty KG, Charlie Chase,Easy AD, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Tony Tone)/Daddy-O (of Stetsasonic)/Dallas Austin/Del Tha Funkee Homosapien/Diamond D/Doug E. Fresh/De La Soul (Posdnuos, Dave & Mase)/DJ Jazzy Joyce/Kool DJ Red Alert/DJ Ron G/DJ Silver D/DJ Teddy Ted/Dr. Dre/Grandmaster Flash/Heavy D/Ice-T/Jazzy Jay/Jungle Brothers (Afrika Baby Bam, Mike G)/DJ Kid Capri/Kool Moe Dee/Large Professor/ Lords of the Underground/MC Lyte/MC Serch/Neek the Exotic/Organized Konfusion/The Pharcyde (Fat Lip, Imani, Romye, Slim Kid Tre’)/Pete Nice/Rashad Smith/Rock Steady Crew (Crazy Legs, Mr. Wiggles, Pee Wee Dance, Ruel)/Sean Combs/Skeff Anselm/Souls of Mischief/Special Ed/Sweet Tee/Too Short/Whodini (Grandmaster Dee) /Zulu Nation Supreme Council (Zulu King Muhammad, Unknown)

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

Follow me on Twitter or email me at

To catch up my previous posts, click here.

Very special thanks to Phil N. DeBlanc for his contributions to this article/blog posting.