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RECORDKINGZ: Heavyweight – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★½

Heavyweight piles into the hip-hop fray in a very similar way to Jake One’s White Van Music last year. By this I mean that it finds a talented producer hooking up with a host of talented MCs and dropping dope phatness. It’s even possible that Juliano (formerly one half of 90s duo The Creators), arguably has the edge on Jake One and that this has the potential to give a kick up the arse to a few flagging careers, proving once again that the music industry (and to some extent the public’s) obsession with rapper-cult-of-personality is forgetting one vital thing. It doesn’t matter how good the lyrics, nobody ever danced to poetry. When was the last time you heard a proper jump-up hip hop track anyway? The underground has been plagued by masturbatory production for too long – even if there has been some lyrical insanity. On the other hand, the mainstream shits out club beats like its got diarrhoea – but is plagued by lyrical inanity. This isn’t to say that everything on here will light fires under people’s feet – simply that Juliano remembers one of the key original premises of hip-hop. Move the crowd.
One of two promo singles for Heavyweight, Beatnuts’ vehicle Rock Ya Shoulders is exactly what I’m talking about – the best thing the Beatnuts have done since Watch Out Now and about the best thing for hip-hop dance floors since then too. Sampling an old funk 45 by New Orleans act Salt, the drums get a steroid injection and The Beatnuts cap it with effortless flow, “Keep on spitting that ‘me so fly shit’ and end up missing on some CSI shit’” and a classic vocal hook. The other big club banger on the LP is actually the one that brings it to a close – Keep On which finds Chalice and Ruk riding high on a chunky slice of funk with a “Hey, ho,” chorus that recalls Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Hooray. First track on the LP is so-so collab I Cried with Tragedy Khadafi and brings to mind nothing so much as an early Dilated Peoples track – Joell Ortiz fares rather better on the rather more dynamic beat of Take A Walk With Me, which is next up. Stones’ Throws much-vaunted secret weapon, Guilty Simpson delivers tight rhymes on Hip Hop Throwback on a beat that features punishing snares and latin brass while uncharacteristically, Little Brother fail to make much impact on Playin To Lose. Aasim does a turn on You Been Warned near the end of the LP that doesn’t hold up too badly and West coaster Evidence appears on the very 90s flavoured This Is For My Peoples and (if Dilated Peoples floated your boat before they went really boring and shit) you might get on with this – it does at least take away the bland aftertaste of Evidence’s last EP. The ‘other’ promo single Heat probably got more press a while back because of the presence of Mobb Deep and, while it’s moody strings are a grower, it’s far from the best track here. Phil Da Agony, Montage and Mo Money’s consideration of unsavoury characters “Who the hell is out the front of my house/ If they knew that I was watching with a blunt in my mouth…“ on Bad Cats (hot female vocal hook, menacing clavinet loops) is far and away better, as is Da Money featuring Glasses Malone (strings and another wicked female vocal loop). Posse cut Keep It Coming is another one with a big brass sound and the combined talents of Craig G, Will Pack and K Major.
It would be foolish to expect less than superb production on this and Juliano does not disappoint. The most noticeable feature is the percussion (particularly the snares) which is stupidly heavyweight and DJs need to beware that any track from this will make whatever precedes or follows it sound pathetically wimpy. Granted Heavyweight doesn’t break new ground stylistically – much (if not all) of it could have appeared between ‘98 and now – mostly in a good way, occasionally in a not-so-good way and at times in an excellent way. What it does do is remind anyone who still gives a shit about quality hip-hop that if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly.
Out now digitally on Recordkingz, CD soon and on vinyl…god knows…maybe when someone remembers that SOME people still play wax. Hint.

Listen to Recordkingz – Heavyweight

Recordkingz/ julinao Creator – Myspace


RECORDKINGZ (of THE CREATORS): Heavyweight LP – Press release

How can some guy from the UK have a new record, ‘Heavyweight’ (Read RECORDKINGZ – Heavyweight – Album review – HERE), with names like Little Brother, Mobb Deep, Evidence, Joell Ortiz, Tragedy, Beatnuts, and G Malone on it to name but a few? Maybe the question should be – ‘What do – Sha Money (G-Unit), Lord Finesse, Just Blaze (Rocafella), Alchemist (G-Unit), JuJu (Beatnuts), Evidence (Dilated Peoples), DJ Head (D12), E-Swift (Liks), Buckwild, Havoc (Mobb Deep), T-Ray (Cypress Hill), DJ Spinna, Madlib and Joey Chavez have in common? One man and one shared passion connect all these guys. Juliano Creator from Recordkingz is that man and vinyl addiction is their common fix. All these cats are searching for that ultimate break that no one else has flipped and Juliano, the man behind Recordkingz, is the guy to find it.

Juliano’s collection started at the age of 10 when he bought his first record from his big brother who was a rock n roll DJ. Now, he and his team travel the world sourcing rare records for their own productions and some of the biggest producers in Hip Hop. He first made steps into Hip Hop back in ’92 when he decided that music was now much more than a hobby and hopped on a plane straight to New York with a bag of records that he knew no one in the US had heard and a sampler under his arm. He hooked up with people like Natural Elements, Two Face/Big Kwam, Big Twann and DJ Spinna and started making records for real. People like DJ Mayhem, Stretch Armstrong, Matt Fingers and Funkmaster Flex are the people that helped put Juliano on the map, by playing his joints on the radio and making connections with any and everyone. He still says 15 years on I owe my career to those people.

On his return to the UK he knew what he needed to do. His ear and his vinyl became his key assets. He started making records and set up his own label Creative Entertainment to put them out. He kept buying more and more records and travelled further and further to some of the darkest corners of the world to find those secret gems that would make him who he is today – King of the Beats. He started a project called The Creators, where Juliano and beat partner Sip Spex decided to put together a record called ‘The Weight’ and hooked up with artists like Mos Def and Talib Kweli, Craig G and Will Pack, Consequence, El de Sensei and Diamond D. They spent months perfecting their sound and came out with an underground hit. His success continued with TV music for advertising campaigns including Hugo Boss and Sony, Rare Funk Compilations that he compiled, production and remix credits on hit singles for artists like Nas and Dilated Peoples and Creators singles getting crazy radio play and support. He grew stronger and perfected his trade.

Juliano’s record collection was now so large that he needed to do something that gave him access to a larger marker of buyers. He was going to set up a shop, but felt that restricted him to being stuck in one location and so decided to set up http://www.recordkingz.com. His website is now without question the leading source of rare records for collectors and producers alike. He has one of the largest collections of rare jazz, soul, Eastern European, Asian, Film/TV library and Hip Hop records available anywhere in the world. It’s taken years of hard work. His network has grown and he’s watched the careers of some of the great producers of today grow by using breaks and loops that Juliano has sourced.

Now he’s back doing what he loves most, making beats. ‘Recordkingz presents Heavyweight’, is coming out in 2009. Recorded whilst digging and selling across the world this is the long anticipated follow up to The Weight. With tracks like ‘Rock Ya Shoulders’ featuring The Beatnuts recorded in London, ‘Heat’ featuring Mobb Deep recording in Paris, ‘Take A Walk’ featuring Joell Ortiz recorded in New York, ‘Playin’ To Lose’ featuring Little Brother recorded in LA and ‘Hip-Hop Throwback’ featuring Guilty Simpson in Detroit it’s a truly international venture. It’s a compilation of all of the Recordkingz team’s favourite artists who they have met and worked with along the way. When opportunities to record came up – the Recordkingz team would hit the road always taking a bag of beats with them.

Being from the UK it’s harder to stay in contact with artists who are always on the road touring and so if we heard that any of our people were in town we would travel to meet them at all hours of the day and night. Every track that was recorded has a story behind it. We found out that we could do a Mobb Deep record at 2am when we were with Havoc, Prodigy and Alchemist in a hotel in London after a show. The only problem was that we had to go to Paris where a studio was booked the next day. So we booked a ferry, jumped in the car with a MPC and disks and off we went. 36 hours later without any sleep, Havoc and Prodigy had laced the record Storm had signed it off and were gone. Incredible.

Heavyweight summarizes what Juliano the man behind Recordkingz is all about. If you make beats and you need something special you need to know about Recordkingz.com. If you like classic underground Hip Hop and you want to hear what’s hot check out Recordkingz ‘The Heavyweight’.
Digital release 17 February – CD/ Vinyl release tbc.

Recordkingz – Myspace