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‘Ruff Kutz’ was originally a mixtape by WordSound founder Spectre (aka Sikz Fernando Jr.) released on cassette back in 1998 and now presented as a double vinyl LP by PAN. Spectre’s WordSound collective were doing great things from around the mid 90’s. An ”experimental” hip-hop scene which I feel never really got the wider recognition it deserved -- so if the reissue of this mixtape introduces a new generation to the sound then that really can only be a good thing. ‘Ruff Kutz’ is a perfect doorway like a late night radio show being broadcast through a fog of weed smoke with the pitched down voice of Spectre as your host mixing up prime stoned hip-hop beats, dub basslines and plenty of dark atmospherics which would lead to someone or other to coin the term “Illbient”.
In the mix are unreleased tracks, edits etc. from the like of Scotty Hard, The Bug, Bill Laswell’s Dubadelic, Mr Dead, Doc Israel and the one and only Sensational - an MC whose rhymes never fail to brighten up my day. I used to buy WordsSound records back in the day and still have some, but I wasn’t even aware that this tape existed so I’ve had great fun listening and it’s prompted me to dig a few of those out. Admittedly after all that’s happened since a lot of material doesn’t sound as fresh as it did at the time but that’s no bad thing. ‘Ruff Cutz’ serves as a great snapshot of a vibrant, original and innovative scene of underground beatmakers and rhymers. WordSound and offshoot Black Hoodz were great labels. Respect is due.
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- Ruff Kutz by Spectre
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