Ism & Blues
In early 1994, Hard 2 Obtain caught fire with its smash underground single "LI Groove," a tune that affirmed through a Rakim sample that the trio represented "New York, from Long Island." On the strength of H20's newfound respect among Hip Hop's cypher legions, H2O dropped "Ism and Blues" to explore three true loves: weed, women, and Hip Hop. The album reflects this triple love affair, combining hazy funk and jazz echoes with a rapper's delight format. MCs Taste and DL are B-Boys in the traditional sense, playing off each other nicely with call and response rhymes. "LI Groove" may be H20's only real claim-to-fame track but "Ism and Blues" does contain a few other hidden highlights. The horn-heavy "Ghetto Diamond" is a fortified ode to beautiful women of a Hip Hop persuasion and "Heels Without Souls" fuses Hip Hop and the R&B-styled vocals of Vinia Mojica (Tribe Called Quest) with some flair. This largely slept-on album also features a guest appearance from New Jersey underground stalwarts the Artifacts and boats production from the Stimulated Dummies aka SD50s (beatmakers for K.M.D, Brand Nubian, Grand Puba) and Roc Raida (X-Men, X-Ecutioners). The album rooted in jazz, R&B, and an old school Hip Hop aesthetic caught a ripple of popularity with the non-mainstream Hip Hop audience but, rather unfortunately, the threesome were never heard from again, that is until now.