As we focused on Armeni Blanco last week, I thought it would be relevant to continue with JR Ewing. For those who don’t know, JR Ewing is one of the king regarding the wolrd of the mixtapes.
Why ? ….
Because of the tracklists : 100% independent Hiphop, some records that you couldn’t find easily, never heard of, and stuff like that… We talking about an era where the word « exclusive » really meant something… Beside the tracklist, each and every mixtape had a proper concept. For example, JR Ewing has dropped « Narcotic mixtape» in collaboration with DJ Pone.
First of all, the cover : A junky getting his shoot. You already know, before you played the tape, that it’s gonna be a proper underground rap inside, full of lyrics regarding the drugs. So you open the case, and then you realise you have the A face which is « dealer side » and the B side which is « addict side ». On the A face, you have tracks from rappers talking about selling drugs in the streets, the B side reflects the druggy’s point of view. Let’s put one track of each side, so you can picture it.
That’s the thing with JR Ewing, listening to one of his tape, is the same as watching a great movie talking about the streets, the hiphop, the day to day life.
You need to know, JR Ewing is one of the realest french hiphop activist. He started with graffiti, his crew was the VEP and his nickname was Oeno. By the way, Chaze (Grim Team) was part of it, he now does beatmaking for underground rappers in the US, such as Smiley the Ghetto child, Milano, and underground cats like taht. He actually did a whole album which I can only recommand : Once upon a time in america.
Let’s get back to Jr Ewing A.KA. Oeno. His crew used to kill it. May be too much… One day, they killed the undergound station of Paris, the one called « Le Louvre » which was made as a little museaum. I was very beautiful for a subway station, and the railway company was very proud of it. VEP just fucked it up. Really fucked it up, which has leaded them to jail… for the very first time in France, people were sent to jail for graffiti.
On top of that, JR Ewing, in association with Armeni Blanco, is behind many french classics. In 1995, they put out the album of the crew La Cliqua. Straight away, the album « conçu pour durer » becomes a classic. They released « Le vrai Hiphop » too, actually they had their own label called « Arsenal Records ». They were putting out tracks like that :
He released International rappers too, still with Armeni Blanco, and let’s not forget Lenny Bar, their sound engineer at the time. They released « The projects » in collaboration with Frankeinstein (one track is produced by Armeni blanco, the other is a remix done by Frankeinstein, just to show love to the frenchies who welcomes him properly in Paris).
They did another one, for Napoleon da Legend « The Anthem » (alsoprodby as produced half of the record, the other part has been made by Armeni Blanco), a must have. It’s on savoir faire recordings.
Jr Ewing had a record shop too, and got loads and loads of real vinyles, the ones you would kill for… And so, he started to put out mixtapes. The sad story regarding all those records is, thousands of them been burnt due to a fire…
Anyway, he still has some of the best independent hiphop vinyles, he proved it a lot with the serie « Pure premium » containing the best of the best… Those mixtapes are well valuables now, and so, the records on the tracklists are… For example, Sparrow, began to be famous thanks to JR Ewing who put their track « rhyme impotence » on Pure Premium Vol. 1. From what I heard, Sparrow been able to buy cars thanks to that, as after the release of the mixtape (and thanks to Internet) many Hiphop heads wanted to get the vinyle… But there were not many left, which means, the prices gone up a lot ! So, as Sparrow still had vinyles at their houses, they started to sell it a lot with high prices, and made good benefits of their records, years later… (and thanks to japanese people, who buy it, whatever the price is… I still have my Frankeinstein Record being stucked somewhere in Asia, should I make a link?!).
Jr Ewing even said, some people give him vinyles to put it on Pure Premium, so as the records are being played on it, their prices go up. And if you have a stock of the record, then you can make easy money. And everybody is happy !
Another thing which was dope with JR ewing Mixtapes : the exclusive freestyles. You had insane freestyles (produced by Armeni Blanco) on those tapes, you couldn’t find anywhere else, and you had people like Jr Writer, Ali Vegas, Jeru Da Damaja… Just cop the tapes.
Nowadays, Jr Ewing is still in the music business, the last Hiphop tape he released was « The future mixtape ». He said, people on it, will either know success, or finish in jail. He was right. Wiz Khalifa was on it, and not only, just try to get the tape, worth it. He did an tape of electro music too, which is not my taste, but I guess it’s only pure Electro music (« Escape from Berlin » is the name of the tape) !
Regarding the graffiti, he does proper paintings, they are in galleries and all that. But he still put his name in the streets, don’t think he stopped the wild side…
We’ll put a few more links of his tapes, don’t think it’s all about NY, dark and stuff… The tapes are always full of hardcore rap, but it can be westside, or dirty south music. Even if most of the time, you can feel Jr is a fan of Mobb Deep…
Jr Ewing deserves to be highlighted, because he did so much for Hiphop, because he never been a sell out threw the years, keepin’ Hiphop alive, and pleasuring the ears of all the B.Boyz addicted to rea underground rap. Much respect!