In short, Essentials is a segment that allows artists to put down their instruments and divulge about a specific topic, giving fans and the like the opportunity to connect with their interests and inspirations. It’s just unlike any other listicle feature, we’re totally okay with things getting weird and/or uncensored. With a stacked SXSW schedule and a future tour run with Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples, we asked REMY BANKS of World’s Fair to name off five underrated records that define New York.
Cam’ron – Confessions Of Fire (1998)
My cousin Leron used to play “Horse & Carriage” like it was no tomorrow. That was the single off the album so I was in tune when it was fresh. That was like a new sound to the city especially coming from Harlem. Everybody in the city was blastin’ this when it came out, it was Cam’s anticipated debut. You couldn’t escape it. Every time I hear “357”, I think about wildin’ out at summer camp that summer… I used to go to Camp Cromwell out in Jersey. Shout outs to Bamz and Ohla, they know.
Heltah Skeltah – Nocturnal (1996)
Growing up I got a lot of my musical influences from my older cousins. Everything they listened to, I listened to. So when it came to Boot Camp Clik, I didn’t hear as much as I would hear Mobb Deep or Nas. Anywho, I revisited this when I got older and it reminded me of when I used to ride through those Brooklyn streets in the back seat of my step-pop’s car in ’96. I became a fan instantly. Especially when I hit “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka” as I was revisiting; I said to myself “Oh shit, I remember this!!”.
MF DOOM – Operation: Doomsday (1999)
My homegirl Blair put me onto DOOM. I was like 17 and at this time in my life, I appreciated lyricism so I was drawn in when I heard Mm.. Food and when I found Doomsday. I heard “Red And Gold” and tripped when I heard the sample he flipped and the way he flowed over it. It was effortless. This project will take you to that underground New York era. That fat beats early 2000’s era.
Prodigy – HNIC (2000)
The first song I heard off this was “Keep It Thoro”. I think it was the first single as well. It reminds me of summertime in New York in 2000. That was a good summer. Prodigy embodies that sound he contributed to The Infamous and here it’s a whole album. Almost any and every hip-hop fan can recite the opening lyrics to “Keep It Thoro”, so imagine how everyone in New York felt when this dropped.
Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report (1997)
I heard this album when it first came out. I was like nine. At that point in time we had just moved from LeFrak, where N.O.R.E. is from, right across the L.I.E to Forest Hills. The whole area was supporting this album because N.O.R.E. was a hometown hero. I had a sticker of the cover on my binder too… picture that… a fourth-grader with that on his binder. It defines New York because their rhymes make you feel like you’re in that Queensbridge stairwell or that LeFrak elevator. It’s that Queens shit.