7 Degrees of Elevation by Godfather Don
(the big orange “Download” button is what you should press to download the song)
Nowadays, former rap nerds tend to hide their pasts. The word “backpacker” gets thrown around like a badge of shame for kids everywhere who were just that: kids. In the mid/late 90’s, the indie rap craze took off and that eventually led to the indie rap explosion of the early 2000’s , which led to it’s inevitable backlash a few years later. That’s how music works. To this day, I can guarantee that whatever genre is popular now (is it Trap? I have no clue), it will not only be scoffed at in 3 years but the people who used to champion it will play down their former love of it immensely when it comes up in conversations. Like I said, that’s how music works. I’m not pointing fingers. I’ve been there. There is so much old rap I used to worship that , if I hear now, I get embarrassed I ever knew the words to it. However, with all that said, there are always gems within each genre that never sour.
If you’re a indie rap aficionado, you’re aware of Godfather Don. He’s one of those super underground legends that just never seemed to get his shit together at the right time. In 1991, he released an album called “Hazardous” that, let’s be honest, wasn’t very good. Sure, revisionist rap fans will speak a different story cause , to them, if it’s old and rare, it’s automatically a jewel. But, fuck that. I was around when it dropped, I bought it and I bumped it. It was pretty wack. That said, you could see the talent.
A few years later, he re-emerged but this time behind the boards. He made a bunch of awesome beats on the Ultramagnetic Mc’s album “The Four horsemen” and even kicked a rhyme on there that showed some improvement.
Around that time, he started popping up regularly on the stretch and Bobbito radio show.
Not just as a guest but Bobbito would play his demo tracks with some regularity. It was then that a young me got obsessed with Godfather Don. The First track I had heard was called “Slave of NY”. It was clear he had evolved as an artist and found his voice.
Not only that, but his beats…man…his fucking beats were insane. Every week or two, Bobbito would play another demo song and I’d feverishly rush to record it off the radio. The song above, “7 Degrees of Elevation” , was my all time favorite. With it’s hazy, drugged out jazz loop over a classic drum break, Don just goes off. He certainly was a rapper who would often put the flow ahead of his lyrics (at least in a “the flow sounds tight but do the words mean anything?” kinda way) but his word association flow and run on sentences worked for me. To this day, I can’t say many people have or can rap like Don was doing in the mid-90’s.
While the songs made at that time were not available to anyone who didn’t record radio shows, he did release an amazing record with Kool Keith under the group name “The Cenobites”. This Ep is pretty much a classic to anyone who was listening to that kinda rap during that time.
After those demo’s and the Cenobites, Don had a decent run of 12” records on Hydra Records and even a full length (which, in my opinion, was not his best work)
Luckily for us nerds out there, the bulk of those old demo songs got released a decade or so later.
If you’re into this song I posted, I’d suggest tracking down his compilation “The 90’s sessions” cause it’s got tons of great stuff on it.
So, yeah, enjoy these songs but , most of all, embrace your rap nerd side. There’s no shame in it. Trust me, it could have been way worse. Imagine how Hanson fans feel?