Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
The more time I spend revisiting ‘90s gems for our Twelve Jewelz series, the more I find myself diving as deep as I can into the Diggin’ In The Crates crew catalog. To me, D.I.T.C. is the essence of New York street hip-hop, complete with gritty, boom bap, neck-breaking beats and sample-based jazz/soul sounds, and that witty, no-bullshit Big Apple talk. They’re a special rap collective that deserves to be celebrated more than they normally are, for sure. So as we continue our look back at one of rap’s most monumental years, we invite you take a break from the new shit and enjoy our latest Video Vault featuring 5 Classic D.I.T.C. Music Videos From 1995. Hit the jump to read/watch.
1. Showbiz & A.G. “Next Level”
The DJ Premier remix of “Next Level” has obviously gotten a ton of attention over the years, thanks to the beat’s usage in places like this L.O.X. freestyle and this 8 Mile battle scene. But don’t sleep, the original Showbiz-produced version ain’t shabby at all. As for the video, well, this is classic ‘90s flavor, with bubble jackets, under-the-bridge NYC shots, studio footage, and of course, a deep posse in the background holding shit down. It’s the D.I.T.C. sound and aesthetic in full effect.
2. Big L “M.V.P. (Summer Smooth Mix)”
I used to love this remix (I still have the vinyl), and I recall being pleasantly surprised that they used it for the music video. I can only assume the reason why is because the original features the same loop as Biggie’s “One More Chance (Remix),” which was basically the biggest rap song out during the summer of ‘95. But the flip is nice, with the Biz Markie vocal sample and smoothed-out, warm-weather groove. Look out for Lord Finesse and Diamond D playing the cut at the gambling spot with L in the video, and a pretty funny cameo by Kid Capri who randomly pops up getting a massage.
RIP Big L.
3. Tha Alkaholiks ft. Diamond D “The Next Level”
Diamond D was one of the first producers from New York to take his talents out to Cali to put in work. “The Next Level” (not to be confused with the Show and A song up top) was Tha ‘Liks second single off their sophomore LP Coast II Coast, and it banged across the country thanks to Diamond’s glorious track. He laid down a dope verse too, and came through for the video leathered-down in the Land Cruiser to perform it.
Diamond reminisced with me about the video during our 2011 Complex interview, saying, “We shot the video in downtown San Francisco at first, and then we rode out towards the Pacific to some National Park or something and shot some of the scenes out there too.” Read more about the making of the video/song HERE.
4. Fat Joe “Success”
“Hustling is the key to success/Money is the key to sex.” Yup, that just about sums it up. Thanks for putting it all in perspective, Crack! But seriously, this song is a classic, and though like “Next Level” it got blessed with a phat Primo remix, we insist that the original version gets its propers as well. The video is riddled with D.I.T.C. cameos, plus appearances by everyone from Nas to Raekwon to Common to LL Cool J to the one and only Big Pun (RIP). And I gotta add, that Jealous One’s Envy album is my shit!
5. Lord Finesse “Hip 2 Da Game”
Lord Finesse’s album The Awakening didn’t officially drop until early 1996, but “Hip 2 Da Game” was pumping nicely in ‘95 leading up to the LP’s release. You young cats will recognize the track from Mac Miller’s “Kool Aid & Frozen Pizza” (which of course led to a controversial lawsuit), but we’ll leave that to the side for now and focus on the original. In the video, Finesse is doing his damn thing, styling by the pool with the honeys at the mansion while keeping a close eye on the stock market. Peep O.C., Fat Joe, and Buckwild hanging out at the crib, too. Fun video.