N​.​O​.​R​.​M. (No Ordinary Repetitive Mentality) - Universal Joints

by N.O.R.M. (No Ordinary Repetitive Mentality)

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Naively conceived and shoddily recorded, ‘Universal Joints’ was the product of two kids whose ambitions far outstripped their technical wherewithal, and, some might argue, their artistic abilities. I was one of those kids. The year was 1999 and our plan was simple; utilize then-nascent consumer technology suddenly at our disposal to do what so many of our back-of-the-bus-spitting and street-corner-ciphering friends said they were gonna do “some day”...Namely, make a record. For better or worse, we did it. Compiling verses and songs we’d written between 1996 and 2000, and writing new material along the way, we bootlegged a bunch of software, bought an inexpensive microphone, and recorded in my living room over the first crop of beats I made after making the switch from making demos on other people's Ensoniq and EMU-brand samplers to computer-based beatmaking (and some beats J-Son made on his SONY PlayStation). We were inspired by Marley Marl and the Juice Crew, Eric B. & Rakim, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Nice & Smooth, EPMD, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Brand Nubian, the entire Native Tongues posse, 3rd Bass, K.M.D., Leaders of the New School, Lord Finesse, Gang Starr, Cypress Hill, Redman, Organized Konfusion, Black Moon and their Boot Camp Click, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Souls of Mischief and their Hiero brethren, O.C., Jeru the Damaja, The Fugeez, Bahamadia, the extended Wu-Tang Clan, Black Star, Mannish, Company Flow, Juggaknots, The Nonce, Big Pun, the artists of the Good Life Café scene, Camp Lo, The Roots, the Mystik Journeymen, the only recently-masked MF Doom, Ras Kass and countless other artists both veteran and contemporary. We came up with an unwieldy acronymic group-name we believed summed up our position as artists and individuals and a cryptic album title that referenced a local landmark, our cardinal-point-covering geographical origins (Southern California, and New Orleans, Louisiana respectively, though we were in New England at the time), and the type of music we hoped we were making. Some people liked it. Some people didn't. A few people actually paid us for it. Some of those people (you know who you are) are still my friends on Facebook and Twitter today. Most people didn't even hear about it, much less actually hear it though. That said, it did manage to garner a few reviews that both praised its triumphs and criticized its shortcomings, all of which I understood and appreciated. We planned to take the next step and forge ahead by writing and recording more material which would hopefully turn into another, even better, and better received, independent project. Instead we—me, El Keter, and Mr. Vizuals, a.k.a. J-Son—drifted apart. Shortly thereafter I started devoting a great deal of my time to helping other artists few people were listening to reach a wider audience by writing about them or playing their music on the radio. I continued to make beats, and even wound up helming a 2007 LP titled ‘The Tortoise Hustle’ for Fort Wayne, Indiana-based emcee Sankofa (available elsewhere on BandCamp), but I only rarely touch a microphone for any purpose not related to broadcasting. J-Son on the other hand wound up doing his thing on his own and made every effort he could to get “known”. He kept rapping, kept producing, kept doing random shows, did a stint as a peripheral member of Reggae-Rock act Fear Nuttin’ Band, and, most importantly, raised his son to be a fine human being. He can sometimes be seen talking to someone who very closely resembles me in Dunkin' Donuts parking lots and checkout areas of local electronics retailers. The album in question is over a decade old now. I ripped it to MP3, drafted some snazzy new cover art for it, and uploaded it to these internets. It’s yours, free of charge. I know parts of it suck and I know parts of it are dope. I also know which parts are which. You should download it if you’ve ever wanted to hear me rap, because you probably won’t ever hear me do that again. - El Keter


released March 9, 2001

Vocals by: El Keter (all), Mr. Vizuals (all), and HeadCase (special guest on 11)
Produced by: Mr. Vizuals (1, 12) and El Keter (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)



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IMAGEYENATION Springfield, Massachusetts

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