In 1997 the rap world was in a ill state. The gangsta rap era was still strong but was winding down. The dirty south sound began to explode and New York wanted that top spot back. The Rawkus record label was headed by Brian Brater and Jarret Myer. Rawkus was home to some of the top underground talent from the New York area, notably Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Hi-Tek and Company Flow, and Shabaam Sahdeeq who went on to define the label’s sound. The label released a string of 12″ releases and full-length albums that helped initiate a resurgence in the New York/East Coast sound. Many of these are considered classics among hip-hop aficionados. During the mid to late 1990s, Rawkus became a dominant label of underground hip-hop scene.
Perhaps the biggest act off the label was the combination of Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek, known as Reflection Eternal. The duo met in Tek’s native Cincinnati, Ohio, the two formed Reflection Eternal, and signed to upstart underground hip hop label Rawkus Records in 1997. The tracks from their debut single, “Fortified Live” b/w “2000 Seasons”, were included on the Rawkus Records compilation Soundbombing in October 1997. Fortified Live is not just an underground classic but a hip hop classic period. The track featured a dusty soulful piano loop over a fat drum loop and it introduced the world to the production of Hi-Tek. There was not a underground hip hop spot you went to in 97 without hearing “Fortified Live”, it was also the perfect beat to battle over (yeah i did once or twice). Press Play and reminisce on the Born God year (97) !!!!!