So, would you believe I’m not even through my Legacy of the Hoop Week thing, it’s only been a month since my annual recap of all the Luke Sick projects he’s released since my last video, and… dude’s already released two more full-length albums?! Well, alright, let’s hit it.
First is a follow-up album I never would’ve imagined coming in a hundred years. Brougham was a seemingly short-lived collaboration between Luke and 3rd Eye Blind (a 90s rock band even I’ve heard of)’s Jason Slater. They started with a song for the Can’t Hardly Wait soundtrack in 1998, which was sort of the peak of that Limp Bizkit/ Bloodhound Gang rap/ rock hybrid period, and Elektra wound up signing them for a full album with a couple of singles. At the time, I remember thinking they were just another one of those MTV tween-bait groups that happened to get super lucky in tapping the credibility and talents of Sacred Hoop‘s own, and even up until this year, their album is one of the Luke projects I’ve been least likely to revisit. But having just gone back to it now to discuss the new album, I have to say it holds up surprisingly well. They had a music video full of guitars, motor cycles and porn stars, but unsurprisingly they didn’t crossover to mainstream popstar success, and Elektra ended the experiment in 2000.
And in 2020, Jason sadly passed away from liver failure.
But apparently, as Luke told HipOnline in a 2008 interview, he and Jason grew up together and were lifelong friends. So now Megakut Records has released a second Brougham album, Bateh Bros. If you’re worried you’ve failed to keep up with California slang because you don’t even know what a bateh brother is, don’t beat yourself up. Bateh Bros. was a family-owned Cupertino liquor store that closed in 2020; that’s not a cute ‘shopped photo on their cover. I believe we’re paying tribute to two losses here, and more so the representative passing of their era on a larger scale. As Slater said in that same interview, even their first album was “pretty literal. It’s about how no one ever looks at the
underside of Palo Alto. Either you’re rich or you’re
broke.” You’ll hear “the PA” on this tape a gazillion times, and they’re not talking about Pennsylvania.
Bateh Bros. is a full length album at ten tracks, though one is essentially a skit, albeit a powerfully ironic one: a snippet of an interview with Slater lamenting the notion of people issuing his unreleased music after he dies. And it really isn’t a “rap rock” album. Only one song, “Hemet,” sounds like that, with electric guitars grinding behind Luke and Jay (I’m assuming that’s him doing the hook) spitting about how they’ve “got a bad girl to keep me right.” Honestly, a lot of their 2000 album really didn’t fall into that style either, though their “Murked Out” single certainly sold that image. “Doin’ It With the Ham” (as in Brough-Ham) is a play on the classic Eric B & Rakim record, using essentially the same instrumental, even cutting up one of its most famous lines for the hook. “Unfadeable” even features a fun throwback to “Rappin’ Blow”-style background voices. “Motel Room” rocks a slow, dark reggae groove until it flips it up mid-song with a Too $hort vocal sample and slides into the infamous “A Thing Named Kim” bassline as he declares he’s “all alone, holdin’ a grenade with the pin pulled out… plottin’ on yo’ bitch ass!” “Everybody Keed” closes things out with the kind of subversively mellow production that would occasionally pop on classic Sacred Hoop albums.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, The Yole Boys are back! The Yole Boys, if you’ll recall, are a more loosely defined group. Luke, producer Fatees “and friends” might be the best way to put it. Their first instrumental tape was the debut release of Megakut Records, but their 2011 album was the prize. That’s also been their last release until now, eleven years later, as they’ve returned with a new full-length entitled Saran Twister Bump Tape.
This time, they helpfully list out the personnel on the back cover: Luke Sick, Brandon B, Eddie K, QM, Wayne & Wonda (are they putting us on with a Muppet Show reference?), D-Styles & DJ Hypnotize. And of course “Slaps by Fatees.” And it feels somewhat like a hybrid
between the two previous Yole releases. It’s definitely got that old
school Miami-style programmed drums and handclaps feel to the
production, and a lot of it is instrumental, although there are
definitely vocal tracks as well. “7 Bellos” is a play on As Nasty As They Wanna Be‘s “My 7
Bizzos.” “Supernova Bassdrop” is like an 80’s club DJ remake of “Jam On
It” with nothing but adlibs and scratches over the track, until finally
two and a half minutes in, Brandon B jumps on the mic for a verse. There’s a sparse feel to the album, almost feeling unfinished. “Cru Jones” is a catchy Luke Sick track that just suddenly ends on a broken loop. “Owe Mega” starts out as a hype vocal track for the first minute, but then just winds up letting the beat ride for the next two and a half.
So yeah, the album could probably stand to be trimmed. It often lets loops cycle on their own for pretty long, which can be a bit of a patience and endurance test to get all the way through. I find it hard not to just skip through to the highlights. But that was the style of the music they’re paying homage to, too. I can remember copping my first Boyz Wit da Bass tape, or any of the Dynamix II albums, and thinking: it just goes on like this? You know, sometimes Magic Mike and the Royal Posse were going nuts cutting, scratching and passing the mic down the line, and sometimes they were taking a break and letting the speaker shaking bass rumbling speak for itself. For better or worse, this album captures that, too.
But it’s sixteen tracks long, with no skits or interludes, so if you
feel at all short-shrifted by any of the more barren tracks, like “Nettie Pot” or “Beat On the Drum,” don’t worry, there’s still plenty more music around
every corner, with big samples and your favorite Gurp City MCs. There’s even some 80’s freestyle singing on “Maybe In My Dreams” and funky vocoder effects on “The Reep.” Casual listeners might prefer a cut-down EP to this hour-long LP, but hey, kids today know how to program a playlist.
Because, yeah, despite having Tape in the title, Saran Twister Bump is on CD. Bateh Bros. is limited to 100 red cassettes and as of this writing is still available from Megakut’s bandcamp. The Yole Boys is more elusive so far, but will probably pop up for sale online soon.