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Blast From The Past

SubNoize Souljaz

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Album Review

Cover songs have never been a major part of hip-hop the way they have been a major part of rock, R&B, reggae, and blues. Sure, rappers will sample their favorite recordings or incorporate the chorus of songs they like, but you seldom find rappers providing word-for-word covers of tunes by other MCs. And if you do find a word-for-word cover of a hip-hop tune, it's usually from a rock artist (for example, alt-metal band Dope's remake of N.W.A's "F**k tha Police" or former Veruca Salt member Nina Gordon's wildly ironic, Joan Baez-like folk-rock arrangement of N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton"). So the fact that Blast from the Past is an album that exclusively offers rap covers certainly makes it a rarity. Actually, there is a strong rock influence coming from the Subnoize Souljaz collective, whose participants on this 2009 release include, among others, Sen Dog (of Cypress Hill fame), Big B, the Kottonmouth Kings, the Dirtball, Daddy X, Potluck, and Dogboy. Blast from the Past is the sort of album that is aimed at both hip-hop fans and rock fans, and the disc takes listeners down Hip-Hop Memory Lane with an abundance of songs from the '80s and '90s. During those decades, there was much talk of friction between East Coast rappers and West Coast rappers. But true hip-hop fans didn't get caught up in that regional nonsense; so appropriately, Blast from the Past gives props to both coasts. The Subnoize Souljaz acknowledge the West Coast with remakes of "F**k tha Police," Snoop Dogg's "Murder Was the Case," the Luniz' "I Got Five on It," and AMG's "Bitch Betta Have My Money," while the East Coast is acknowledged with LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out," Public Enemy's "Bring tha Noize," EPMD's "Strictly Business," and Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." Blast from the Past doesn't get into really early hip-hop; the oldest tune covered is the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere" from 1986, and the Subnoize Souljaz don't embrace anything by pre-Run-D.M.C. hip-hoppers like Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Spoonie Gee, T-Ski Valley, the Treacherous Three, the Sequence, or the Sugarhill Gang. But again, the Souljaz obviously wanted the rock appeal to be strong on this 57-minute CD — and it wasn't until Run-D.M.C., the Beasties, LL, and the Fat Boys in the mid-'80s that rockers started discovering hip-hop in a major way. Blast from the Past might be too rock-minded for some hip-hop purists, but it's a fun listen if one is a rocker who is seriously into hip-hop.

Blast From The Past, SubNoize Souljaz
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