Now here’s a record I’ve been meaning to share with y’all ever since I found it in my favorite record store at the beginning of 2008. That day must have been one of my strangest digging events ever, because after I found this gem in the first or second box I went through I literally found nothing else worth mentioning in the next 25 to 30 boxes. It’s as if shortly after I dug up this 12” the record gods were thinkin’ “That’s it! That Smoov fella has had more than enough luck today already!”. I can’t say I’m mad at them, because even if this would have been the only dope record I found in 2008 I would still be a happy man. Yep, that’s how dope it is!
Now I’m sure that if I’d ask you to name a few hip-hop artists from New Jersey you’d come up with names like Redman, Artifacts, Lords Of The Underground, Naughty By Nature, Poor Righteous Teachers, Tony D. (R.I.P.) and maybe even Apache, Queen Latifah or Chill Rob G. But what if I would narrow it down to Montclair, NJ? I’m pretty positive no names would come up. Well, that’s about to change soon I guess. First I’d like to give you a few interesting facts about Montclair, NJ, courtesy of Wikipedia:
* Montclair is a township in Essex County, New Jersey. * Montclair was first formed on April 15, 1868, from portions of Bloomfield Township, so that a railroad could be build to Montclair. * Montclair has a temperate climate, with warm summers and cold winters, and is one or two degrees warmer than the neighboring towns of Verona and Cedar Grove because of the mountain between them. * Montclair falls into three different zip codes. The central and southern parts of the town are designated 07042, but the area north of Watchung Avenue has a separate United States Postal Service ZIP code, 07043. A few blocks in the southeast of town, near the Glen Ridge border, fall into the Glen Ridge Area code, 07028. * According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the township was $92,988, and the median income for a family was $119,850.
Now as interesting all that stuff may be, it’s kind of shocking that the following fact was omitted from the extended list of facts on Wikipedia:
* The township of Montclair, NJ is the hometown of J-Crush, the emcee responsible for the dope “I’m Vex” b/w “Snafu” 12”, a record released back in ‘93 on local indy label Rotten Records.
Not much I can tell you about J-Crush or his label Rotten Records for that matter. So I figure we let the music do the talkin’… The a-side jam “I’m Vex” is about as basic as a hip-hop track can be I guess. The hardcore beats have that typical early 90s bounce that will have you nod your head until one of your cervical bones breaks. Crush’s rhymes are the typical brag-and-boast rhymes you heard a million times before, but it works well time and time again. Here’s a few examples of the stuff he has to say:
- “I’m harder than the shoe of a horse” - “In case you want static, I’m an addict. I kill emcees like a .45 automatic” - “Suck? Uh uh, I succeeded. I’m all that and then some, but I’m not conceited. Just convinced at the fact, I’m on point like the ink of a big pen, so how’s that?” - “I’m vex, I had it, I’m fuming. Diss me and you’ll be history like Harry Truman” - “And I had it up to here, I got a attitude. N*gger without a trigger I never met a badder dude. You can look around but you can not find a rhyme like mine, when I shine I leave you blind”
On “Snafu” Crush flips the script and offers a little something different, both lyrically and production wise. Gone are the braggadocio rhymes, instead J-Crush speaks his mind on situations he’s faced with on a daily basis: “Life ain’t fair, so what’s the use living? You can’t get thanks unless you’re giving. Without dough you won’t be accepted. Expected, you’re rejected, neglected. Ain’t it bad enough with no ends, no Benz, you get no skins and most of our friends. Won’t come around unless you got cash, some kind of stash, in a flash they go dash.”. The hard hitting beats of “I’m Vex” have been replaced with a more rhythmic sound and in my opinion this perfectly fits the theme of the track. Now I know that Public Enemy once told that the “b-side wins again”, but not this time I guess, because as much as I like “Snafu” the main reason why I think everybody should own this record is the killer a-side jam “I’m Vex”.
Just so you know, nowadays I’m not the only member of Vinyl Addicts who owns a copy of this 12”, because about a year after I found my copy digger extraordinaire Redkhat recently dug up a copy as well. The red bastard even paid less than I did, only a measly two Euro’s (I paid five). Having said that I think it’s safe to say that you will never ever find a copy online for an amount as low as that. Since last year I’ve spotted it on eBay twice; last year a sealed copy went for $ 204 and about a month or two ago a near mint copy fetched $ 159. Insane amounts, especially if you consider the fact that within a time span of only a year two vinyl addicts from the Netherlands found two copies in the same dusty record store for pennies compared to the prices this record goes for on eBay. Now if we can find this record in one of the very few dope record stores that we have over here, I think that heads in the US, Japan or the UK should be able to find it as well without having to pay a small fortune for it…