For two genres with such an intimate relationship, hip-hop and house don’t seem to do a whole lot of inter-mingling, even in New York. It’s the ancestral home of the former and a major player in the latter’s thirty year history from the Loft to the Bunker; and yet these two tend to keep to themselves throughout the five boroughs. Anyone who has followed New York’s house scene lately is likely familiar with Anthony Parasole, and the Brooklyn native seems keen to bring house and hip-hop back together again in an organic fashion. Parasole’s CV includes co-running Deconstruct with Levon Vincent, and given Vincent’s praise of his design chops, it should come as no surprise that the first release on Parasole’s new label The Corner is, first and foremost, a really lovely object. Sinatra’s famous mug shot adorns the cardboard insert, and maps of the Tri-State area give the Tri-State EP a sense of clear purpose.
The first cut comes from Nor’Easter, and his “Cuttin Headz (Tribute)” is a terrific ode to hip-hop’s golden age. Given the references to classic kung-fu movies it’s possibly a tribute to Wu-Tang, especially given his RZA-like production. DJ Qu takes the A2 with “Times Like These,” a track most will remember from Levon’s incredible Fabric 63. It was pretty much played out in full on the CD, but heard in isolation its hypnotic grooves remain just as potent. The B side brings us back to Nor’Easter, who splits the difference between the two A side cuts (one hip-hop, one house) on “Tri-State.” Hip-hop in a house context as Dilla might have imagined it, “Tri-State” is the record’s strongest cut with its heads-down steady thump and rough-around-the-edges synth sounds. It cements the Tri-State EP as an unusually strong label debut, as well as Nor’Easter as an artist to watch in numerous scenes. More over, it shows that Parasole is a bit of an A&R whiz kid, with a tight, focused collection of tracks that might seem incompatible on paper, but that, coupled with some killer design flourishes, work to unite artists and DJs across state and genre lines.