Sound Providers Looking Backwards: 2001-1998

It’s kind of lame that when crews decide to make records using the same fresh ingredients that cats were using in the early ’90s it’s always hailed as a breath of fresh air amongst the commercial giants and overall crumminess that has plagued hip-hop in the past ten years. It shouldn’t be a rare occurrence to want to sample jazz and funk records and come correct with fresh rhymes and beats, but sadly this formula was already being overlooked when the fantastic Sound Providers entered the scene in 1998. Back then the Sound Pros were a three-piece consisting of Jason Skills, Soulo and Profile but they quickly became a duo when Profile went solo in 2001, so these great jams call back on a time when the crew only had a handful of twelve-inches in circulation, which also happens to be when they were at their best. The beats are all top-notch, using the Premier recipe of a funk or jazz break with the choruses consisting of three or four scratch samples from classic joints, and it’s the production of these early singles that really makes Looking Backwards fly. The rhymes are tight as well, especially with Profile still in the fold, but the lyrics don’t really soar as the flows and overall presence of the MCs isn’t exactly the Providers’ strong point when you have such top-notch beats. This is a shame because even though the tracks on this record especially are all rather strong it’s as if the Sound Providers have always been missing a certain drive that would push them ahead of the average boom-bap. Looking Backwards is some classic material from a very good West coast crew when they were in their prime, so for those that have slept this is absolutely the place to start. (ABB)