‘Now that you know my name, you know it ain’t about the money or the fame’.
After the golden era glow begun to wear off her predecessors, Crenshaw-born Taura Taylor set a new standard for female emcee’s with her 1998 self-released Return Of The B-Girl EP. When her record deal with Capitol fell through, it was the support and encouragement of T Love’s mother that motivated her to record; but still this classic EP was only intended to close her promising musical career, a final parting shot at an industry that had let her down. What it did was begin a new chapter in Love’s life; selling so well in the UK that she relocated to London, linked with Ninja Tune and Ollie Teeba from The Herbaliser, and released her full-length Long Way Back in 2003; which featured cuts from DMC champ Mr Thing, smooth sounds from Dwele, and timeless instrumentals from J Dilla.
A snapshot of T-Love’s hunger and raw lyricism; the EP saw her sharp wit sting through powerful verses that never came lyrically half-cocked; she shares the booth with plenty of talented writers, including a then-relatively-unknown Chali 2na; who would eventually release his first J5 EP on Love’s Rumble/Pikininny label. The production from Om Grown’s This Kid Named Miles was thick with heavy boom bap breaks and old-school funk loops; the man even went as far as to record himself playing bass, upright cello, guitars and drums to chop up for his beats; and his effort pays off as the opening track smashes through your speakers.
What’s My Name has everything; the beat is crazy, the scratches are ill, and Love’s first verses strike with a fire that implies her mindstate; believing this would be the last time she’d rhyme on beat may have been exactly what she needed to pull off these verbal gymnastics. I’m Comin forebears the J5 sound as Miles cuts 2na’s voice into the chorus and heavy breaks bang out with athletic snare shots. Love’s rhymes are as quintessentially Hip Hop as the RZA sample is on the hook, and her bars boast intangible levels of style as she drags out words and over-pronounces syllables in her commanding rhymes.
Wana Beez trades the hardcore vibe for jazz loops and memorable horn hooks as 2na spits a guttural sixteen in his unmistakeable baritone, and Miles plays with breaks; switching drum loops like most people switch off lights. Ultramagnetic’s Kool Keith brings his unmistakeable funk to the title track, writing an effortlessly inventive verse to match Love’s bold delivery; and as the production eases back on LA To Brooklyn, T Love’s already gifted lyricisms steps up another notch, matching Siah and Yeshua The Poet’s slick prose to and close out this short slice of realness with not a weak track in sight.
I managed to grab the vinyl off ebay for less than a tenner, but if you get no luck diggin, the usual online retailers have got the mp3’s for cheap.