German producer Shuko exists in two worlds of Hip Hop. On one hand, the veteran has done official remixes with the likes of golden era luminaries O.C. [click to read] and Rakim [click to read], as well as a producer with a sound that’s impressed mixtape-minded contemporaries like Tyga [click to read] and Papoose. Joining forces with Coalmine Records, a fledging Brooklyn-based label, Shuko‘s beats meet DJ Dutchmaster‘s seamless mixing on The Foundation, and both sides of the game, new and old, dropping in for a producer and label compilation all in one.
Rather than poke around the same series of samples used by most producers influenced by the Pete Rock [click to read], DJ Premier and D.I.T.C. class, Shuko‘s knack for obscure, ’80s-minded samples gives him a unique identity. “Getting Up Anthem” by Talib Kweli [click to read] and Rakim, is a rich texture. Both New York emcees express a love of graffiti, by describing train lines and the bombing process in the yesteryears of the Big Apple. The vocal sample, perhaps European, describes subway trains, only building to the song, recognizeable to players of Marc Ecko‘s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure videogame. With Dutchmaster (Coalmine‘s CEO) cutting a bit, that same formula follows into the next track, “Outta Ya’ Dome,” by Born Unique, Bad Seed and Canayda. This track uses sped up ’80s glam Rock samples, similar to Jay-Z‘s “Early This Morning” or Lupe Fiasco‘s “Real” productions.
The gem of the album is Canibus [click to read], Chino XL and Bekay on “Do This.” Although Bekay does his best to mix in with the machine-like mandibles of Chino and ‘Bis, his middle verse is overshadowed by a Canibus, that sounds as he did a decade ago, and a Chino XL that has taken on a Vinnie Paz-like mic presence, “I’m the illest, I’m like Jesus to these young kids,” before a trademark celebrity outsing, claiming Tom Cruise‘ marriage to Katie Holmes was a homosexual cover-up.
With its doses of interesting beats and a great collection of independent emcees, The Foundation is not without its weak points. Although hilarious hosts to the mixtape-album, Heltah Skeltah‘s [click to read] “Midnight Madness” does little justice to the veteran duo’s extensive catalogue. Relative rookies Frank B., Dre Robinson and XL also deliver mediocrity amongst contributions from decorated veterans ranging from Big Noyd to Cuban Link to R.A. The Rugged Man.
The Foundation is solid and its strong. Coalmine Records has manufactured a number of interesting collaborative singles, in an effort to introduce deserving new talent and provide opportunities for vets. This mixtape-album is a CD journey through those efforts, recent and older, strong and otherwise. Like any mixtape, a cohesive theme is harder to find here, and Shuko‘s sound varies a good bit, and for as many prolific moments, there are dull. But few labels are actively releasing singles, and making collaborative emceeing nearly as exciting as this label, and this is a collective entry-point to the goodness.