This is an exercise I began primarily for myself and it turned out well enough that I decided to share. I’ve always been interested in the seasonal quality music can assume. Is it aesthetic? Is it Rza and Da Beatminerz’s murky bass lines that evoke slush in Staten Island and Crown Heights? Is it content? Does the mere mention of hoodies and timbs pair them to a track? Or perhaps imagery, maybe your iconic black and white video featuring a bunch of dudes in parkas behind chain links fences with breath coming out in cold smoky puffs forever link your song to the months between November and February.
The defining trait I’ve settled on is the listener. I don’t pretend to have captured the essence of the season with this effort, for all I know you consider “Mighty Healthy” synonymous with hickory smoke and booty shorts at cookouts. Growing up in New York gives you a very specific definition of the season that a majority of the country may not relate to. The sun is in a perpetual state of setting, the streets are filled with people on their way to destinations, heads down and boring forward through any and all obstacles. It’s raw, freezing rain, blasts of frigid wind that cut to the bone, so cold your eyes and nose will flow and you find yourself cursing a gust of moving air. It’s sleeping in sweats, getting layered before going out, convulsing as you try to get dressed after a hot shower in the morning. Bare, skeletal trees litter blocks, corners are occupied by seemingly shallow puddles with thin frozen skins you discover too late are a foot deep and send you running indoors for a warm pair of ankle length Champion socks. It’s the conditions that give this city its stereotype for being rude and no-nonsense. But it’s not all bad.
It’s the smell of fireplaces re-kindled, bundled up kids helping bundled up old ladies carry their wire carts up and down subway stairwells, streets woven with lights, crisp astoundingly clear days, family and old friends. It’s a quiet, reflective, introspective period. We all cut down on our nights out and trade tequila for scotch.
Keep in mind I wanted to keep the tape interesting, I was wary of repetition and I didn’t just want to cut and paste Liquid Swords or 808s. I’ve looked for patterns below and I would like to think (with a few key exceptions) it’s no coincidence that nearly all the artists and producers hail from the Northeast but it could be as simple as this is the stuff I listened to on snow days hot boxing my old car or the soundtrack I’d push through snow to in my headphones on the way to school. All that being said, if the selection spurs debate, mission accomplished. Wherever you’re from I hope this compilation helps you enjoy the season as much as I do.
Download: A People's History of Hip Hop Presents: Winter Warz
1. Dead Prez- Wolves (Original Sample) Let’s Get Free (2000)
2. Wu-Tang- Bells of War Wu-Tang Forever (1997)
3. Redman- Welcome (Interlude) Muddy Waters (1996)
4. Noreaga- Body In the Trunk (Ft. Nas) N.O.R.E. (1998)
5. Young Jeezy- Hypnotize The Inspiration (2006)
6. Lost Boyz- All Right Legal Drug Money (1996)
7. Killah Priest- From Then Til Now Heavy Mental (1998)
8. Smif-N-Wessun- Wontime Dah Shinin’ (1995)
9. T.I.- I Still Luv You Trap Muzik (2003)
10. Rampage- Wild For Da Night (Ft. Busta Rhymes) Scout’s Honor……By Way of Blood (1997)
11. Jadakiss- Shootouts (Ft. Styles P) Kiss of Death (2004)
12. Non Phixion- 4 Ws This Is Not An Exercise (2000)
13. Nas- Live Nigga Rap (Ft. Mobb Deep) It Was Written (1996)
14. Onyx- Bacdafucup Bacdafucup (1993)
15. Styles P- Ghost P The Ghost In The Machine (2006)
16. Mad Skillz- All In It From Where???(1996)
17. Ghostface Killah- Mighty Healthy Supreme Clientele (2000)
18. 50 Cent- DJ Clue Freestyle Grand Theft Audio 2 (2002)
19. M.O.P.- Take A Minute St. Marxmen (2005)
20. Kanye West- Family Business (Advanced Far Superior Rough Mix) College Dropout (2004)
21. Gangstarr- Royalty Moment of Truth (1998)
22. Ol’ Dirty Bastard- Snakes Return to the 36 Chambers (1995)
23. Common- Gaining Ones Definition One Day It'll All Make Sense (1996)