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This Week In…: Heavy Rhyme Experience, Volume 1

August 2nd edition of “This Week In…” produced by Mikemetic for Wax Museum Vinyl

Artist Name: The Brand New Heavies

Release Name: Heavy Rhyme Experience, Volume 1

Release Date: 3 August 1992

When music heads talk about the fusion of hip hop and live instrumentation, most people look at Philly’s Roots crew as the pioneers in that space. Any OG hip hop heads would also point to the group Stetsasonic which self-identified as a “hip hop band”, or even Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” which used live players to recreate the beat break from Chic’s classic disco track “Good Times'' for the emcees to rap over.

And while those groups were firmly rooted in the hip hop community, The Brand New Heavies’s release Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1 provided a merging of styles (the three piece acid jazz and funk group was based out of London) and musical communities that hip hop had not really experienced before that. Released on 3 August 2022, Heavy Rhyme Experience showcased some of the best past, present, and future hip hop artists from the US for a ground-breaking project that set a standard for live hip hop performances and recordings.

The stellar list of emcees the Heavies worked with on this project was driven by their label Delicious Vinyl’s access to some of the best state-side artists including Queens emcee/producer Large Professor and his group Main Source.

They start off the album with the track “Bonafied Funk '' which also features Main Source’s DJ K-Cut providing scratches over the live band which was one of the first times that artistic combination had been presented in a recording. The album then flows through a “who’s who” of late 80s / early 90s New York emcees including Guru from Gangstarr, Grand Puba, Kool G Rap, and future Delicious Vinyl feature artist Masta Ace. The group flexes their ability to cross musical boundaries even further with two tracks featuring reggae vocalists. Jamalski, a member of KRS One’s Boogie Down Productions crew, flips his cadence on “Jump ‘n’ Move” in a way that perfectly complements the uptempo groove being laid down by the Heavies, while Jamaica-native Tiger moves in a more casual and calculated way through his track “Whagaboutdat”. The album closes with The Pharcyde making their major label recording debut which also served as a prophetic taste of the impending wave of stellar 90s West Coast underground groups that were about to crash like a tsunami through the speakers of the global hip hop community.

Taken in it’s full context, Heavy Rhyme Experience Vol. 1 is a very relevant and groundbreaking release that laid the foundation for live hip hop as a genre, and inspired a wave of local Richmond groups including Jazz Poet Society, Love Assassins, and Infectious Organisms to take the blending of live instrumentation and hip hop swagger to new creative levels.

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