B-Boy Heaven: We Came From Beyond
By
Adam Poe
6/16/2002 8:14:00 PM

February 2000:
Around the time that Puffy was defiantly expectorating Cristal, and Bentleys replaced Benzes as the default ride of the playa - 27 year-old LA underground hip-hop mainstay/B-Boy Robert Cory (aka. DJ Rob-One) was dying of leukemia.

As a stalwart local DJ and graffiti artist (with his crew the Shape Shifters), Rob’s passing profoundly affected the whole of the underground hip-hop scene, and prompted the epic tribute “Rock on Rob-One” - the centerpiece of the excellent compilation We Came From Beyond [Razor and Tie Records].

The brainchild of DJ Mike Nardone, who for 13 years has hosted the titular radio show from Loyola Marymount University - this compilation is a welcome reminder of a DJ’s ability to break and support new acts (in contrast to the regurgitated mixes of Funk Master Flex, et al). In return, Mike - and other forward thinking DJs (notably East Coast counterparts Stretch and Bobbito) are a vital part of the culture and community of hip-hop like shameless come-latelys (see above) can never be.

This circular nurturing is in perfect evidence here, featuring tracks from groups (and individual representatives from groups) that he has supported for the duration of his show. Starting with the veteran Freestyle Fellowship, “Ummm...”is a witty jab at mediocrity in the business. Eyedea’s “Even the Shadows have Shadows” is the coolest anthem for paranoia since the Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”. In “Relief”, Hieroglyphics affiliate Pep Love intelligently weighs in on the paradox of instant gratification in the hood.

The next three tracks form a trilogy, of sorts - Mighty Casey’s “Liquorland” and Dilated Peoples “Weed vs. Beer (You Make the Choice)” start the journey from harmless, good-time drunkenness that inevitably ends in the self-loathing and chaos evidenced in Blackalicous’, DJ Shadow produced “40 oz for Breakfast” (Originally from their debut EP Melodica (Mo’Wax) - go get it).

Favorites Jurassic 5 and Atmosphere offer standout tracks - “Unified Rebellion” and “52 Pickup” respectively - the latter including inexplicable shout outs to both Christina Ricci and Drew Barrymore. Mike offers his own re-mix of the Beastie Boys classic “Pass the Mic” - easily the highest profile band on this collection, (and therefore a little out of place) - no complaints here.

In the poignant finale, “Rock on Rob One” nearly 20 MCs and DJs (using the collective name “The Rob One All-Stars”) eulogize the life of Robert Cory through beats and rhyme. Replete with the rattle and hiss of spray paint cans, colleagues such as Spoon (of Iodine), Awol One, Key Kool and Lord Zen relay their memories, anecdotes and their own thoughts of mortality. Clocking in at just under 18 minutes, yet never tiresome or trite - this track epitomizes the intelligence and vitality missing in the majority of hip-hop - and could make even the flossiest playa feel ridiculous under the weight of his own bling-bling.

(Note: If anyone has one or two 12" copies of the aforementioned “40 oz. For Breakfast”, single, please contact the author through NT - seriously).

 

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