When you listen to a lot of mixtapes you’ll notice that every DJ has a gimmick to stand out from the crowd. Some of them like to remind you at the start of each record exactly who you’re listening to with carefully plucked samples (ex. “Funkmaster Flex Night!“, “Uh Mister Cee!“, “P-P-P-P-Premier!“), others will hunt down the most exclusive joints fresh off the press even if that means the sound quality is rough around the edges (ex. J-Love, DJ Clue), some try their hand at rapping and drop the odd sixteen (ex. Tony Touch), and then there are those that just love to scream at you over and over again – not my favourite to be honest (ex. DJ S&S). PF Cuttin sticks to the basics: Sound levels are correct, samples are sequenced, and the cuts and scratches are smooth. This tight production makes for a solid mixtape and explains why I consider PF Cuttin’s Halloween Havoc a prized possession of my collection.
Outside of mixtape releases, PF Cuttin is one half of underground double act Blahzay Blahzay. Along with his partner in Rhyme, Outloud, they released their debut album Blah Blah Blah back in 1996 that included the official East Coast anthem Danger (“When the East is in the house… Danger!“) – a song that served as a battle cry for those who took sides during the heyday of the East Vs West beef. The album sold over 100 000 units in the US and went gold internationally which is a pretty strong statement for an underground DJ’s résumé.
Speaking of the underground, Halloween Havoc features a lot of rappers who were burning up the streets even if they weren’t getting much (if any) love in the Uptown nightclubs or on radio airwaves. Listening to songs by groups like Cella Dwellas, M.O.P. and the O.G.C. gives the listener a real sense of innercity life that your hit single couldn’t. Hip Hop legend Chuck D lined up several emcees for his No! remix, including Blahzay’s Outloud and Charlie Brown and Dinco D of the Leaders of the New School crew, who were all relatively unknown to the mainstream but still came correct.
PF Cuttin also understood that if you going to drop a remix on your tape, it had to be hotter than the original. The Firm’s Affirmative Action remix is a treat with it’s classic piano loop. Then there’s Smoothe da Hustla and Trigga da Gambla revisiting their awesome Broken Language track for a second instalment and a good lesson in microphone tag teaming.
In case you were wondering what the Exclusive track is by Ghostface Killah, it’s Wildflower off his debut album Ironman. You’ll notice that another song from that album, Camay, also features on Side A. Why list one and not the other? First, Camay was released as an official single form the album whereas Wildflower wasn’t. Ghostface’s first album was released to the public on 29 October 1996 and PF Cuttin’s mixtape was released for Halloween 1996 so he obviously blessed his fans with a little something special off one of the year’s hottest releases.
The general vibe of PF Cuttin’s Halloween Havoc is that the DJ has both feet firmly rooted in the streets of New York and is dedicated to bringing true lyricism and banging beats to the forefront of his mixtape releases. The only oddball on this tape have one thing in common: Basketball. Shaquille O’Neal’s shortlived effort as a rapper gets a look in and Da Monsters Anthem which served as the soundtrack for the basketball themed animation movie of the same name rounds things off. These two songs get a green light thanks to the support of rap moguls Rakim for Shaq, and Method Man, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes for Bugs Bunny and co. Enjoy.
PF Intro – PF Cuttin
One Day – Jeru the Damaja
Live to Regret – Busta Rhymes
Queen Bitch – Lil Kim
Brownsville – MOP
Game of Death – Shaq / Rakim
Cranium – Cella Dwellas
You know the rules – Frankie Cutlass / Keith Murray / Coco Brothers / Busta Rhymes
Da Storm – OGC
The MC – KRS One
Camay – Ghostface / Raekwon / Cappadonna
The Rhyme – Keith Murray
Universal War – The Roots / Common
Ya Playin Yaself – Jeru the Damaja
Real rap song – Meanor
No! (rmx) – Chuck D / Charlie Brown / Kyle Hyenas / Dinco D / Outloud
Stick to ya gunz – MOP / Kool G Rap
Eyes may shine (rmx) – Xhibit / Mobb Deep
No Fear – OGC
Don’t let this rap shit fool you – Blahzay Blahzay
Conscious style – PRT / KRS One
Affirmative Action (rmx) – Foxy Brown / AZ / Cormega / Nas
Hell on Earth – Mobb Deep
Da Bullshit – Jeru the Damaja
Broken Language Pt. II – Smoothe da Hustla / Trigga da Gambla
Yeah – Keith Murray / Erick Sermon / Jamal / Busta Rhymes / Redman
Exclusive – Ghostface
Da Monsters Anthem – Method man / LL Cool J / Busta Rhymes