February 24, 2021

Take It Personal Podcast "Tribute To D&D Studios Episode"

Whether you're an 80s baby or a 90s baby, this episode is for you. Whether you grew up on the Fat Boys or the Lost Boyz, this tribute is for you. D&D Studios is the most important studio in hip-hop history. Period. It's responsible for countless anthems such as Danger, Whutcha Want, Who Got Da Props, Ain't No N!gga, Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimas & Benz, Ante Up and DWYCK to name a few. It's responsible for many classic albums like Illmatic, Ready To Die, Enta Da Stage, Livin' Proof, The Sun Rises In the East and Return of the Boom-Bap. Whether it was produced by DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, DJ Muggs or mixed by Eddie Sancho or Norty Cotto, the D&D stamp was official. Doug Grama and David Lotwin created hip-hop mecca. A place where stars were born and GOATs were made. Today, we celebrate D&D Studios and we're joined by 1-half of the D's, Mr. David Lotwin. We go behind the scenes, hear the stories, re-live the classics and play all your favorite D&D cuts. We also have special guests stopping by to share stories like DJ Premier, Russell Peters, Jeru The Damaja, Mark The 45 King and Craig-G. You'll hear what it was like when DJ Premier was in the studio creating classic after classic. You'll hear stories about Biggie and how Puffy went ballistic after finding a gun while recording there. You'll get to hear what it was like recording Enta Da Stage, Return of the Boom-Bap, Illmatic and other classics. You'll hear about pre-fame Jay-Z being denied at the door because there were too many people inside the studio at the time. You'll hear about the late, great Big L, Sean P, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Guru. On episode 81, we celebrate hip-hop. We celebrate history. We celebrate D&D Studios. - Take It Personal. Great episode! Listen up...

R.I.P. D&D Studios...

February 23, 2021

Biz Markie "Press Kit" (1988)

Biz Markie is hot! His vocal delivery is different and unusual. His lyrics are enjoyable, funny, and occasionally outrageous. He loves an audience and will do anything to please them. This shows in his lyrics, "When it comes to partying I'm a nymphomaniac." Known as the "Inhuman Orchestra," Markie is an expert human beat box virtuoso, literally making the music with his mouth. He has been using his body as an instrument since he was a kid, doing the hambone on the streets of Harlem, NY. In addition to being a helluva hamboner, Biz Markie is also quite adept at the lost Southern art of "beating the spoons." Born Marcel Hall in Harlem (April 8, 1964), Biz Markie seems to be the creation of a mad B-movie scientist, with a weird sense of genetics and humor. It is actually quite easy imagining George Clinton as Dr. Funkenstein making up Biz Markie in his electro-funk laboratory aboard the Mothership. He takes elements of the street urchin, the Artful Dodger, from Dickens' Oliver Twist, and mixes them with the old limey medicine show tradition and the satchelmouthed tomfoolery of Louis Armstrong. The good Doctor then gives his creation the gift of rap gab, the ability to rock the house with rhythmic rhymes over a funky beat. Combine all this with the experience of living in the streets on his own for a number of years, and you have the Biz Markie...

Biz worked the rap circuit for a couple of years, playing the Roxy, the Fun House, and other venues; sharing the bill with Doug E. Fresh, Dana Dane, Fresh 3, Lovebug Starsky, and other rap contenders. But his big break came when he ran into producer Marley Marl in a hallway in the Queensbridge Projects in 1995. Marl has a studio in the Queens housing projects, out of which has come Roxanne Shante's classic "Roxanne's Revenge" and other rap hits. According to Biz, "Marley and I met up and went into his studio and did some stuff." This stuff included some of the hippest, freshest rap records to come out in a long time. With Marley Marl at the production helm, Biz Markie signed with Len Fichtelberg's Prism Records and brought out a number of wonderful recordings that have further established him as something of a cult hero among the hip-hop hardcore. The success of tunes like "Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz," "Nobody Beats The Biz" and "Pickin' Boogers," prompted Fichtelberg to go into partnership with Biz's manager, Tyrone Williams, and launch Cold Chillin' Records as an exclusive rap label, with Marley Marl producing all of the releases by the likes of Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, T.J. Swan, and Kool G Rap, and other Cold Chillin' artists. Future product by Biz Markie on Cold Chillin' promises to build on his reputation as one of the newest and most innovative rap artists on the scene today. - Press Kit, 01/88.  Biz Markie's debut album, Goin' Off, was released on this day in 1988. It features the tracks "Pickin' Boogers," "Biz Is Goin' Off," "Vapors," "Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz," "Nobody Beats the Biz" and "This Is Something For The Radio," among others. While the album isn't available to stream through Spotify, the compilation, "Biz's Baddest Beats" is, which features all the singles from the album. Ironically, I borrowed this album from the Tower Records in the Village back in the day, lol. I remember it like it was yesterday. The masterful art-piece below is by TKO Sato. Much respect, Biz!

February 23, 2021

Stretch & Bobbito "February 23, 1995" (Big L & Jay-Z Freestyle)

Many came before them, but no show continued to entertain like Stretch & Bobbito. With raw underground flavor, guest freestyle MCs, and gut-busting humor, they controlled college radio and broke some of the most impactful artists of our generation. "Fuck Seinfeld, we all know who runs things on Thursday nights from sundown to sunup," said The Source in '98. Today marks 26 years since Big L and Jay-Z blessed the mic with their infamous freestyle session. I'm sure it was less remarkable to Stretch & Bobbito at the time, but it is now legendary as new generations of fans get hip to the archives of their shows, and as Jay-Z became arguably the greatest MC in hip-hop. Not to mention the untimely death of one of Harlem's greatest lyricists, Big L. Lines like, "The last thing you want with Big L is a fair one / 'Cause in a street brawl I strike men like lightnin' / You seen what happened in my last fight, friend? Aight then," from L and "Me and L put rhythm on the map, so give him his dap / And me, I just take mine / Gimme those, gimme this, gimme that—fuck that!" from Jay-Z, set the mood for the night. Jay-Z was virtually unknown and L's debut album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous would drop a month later. Below is the full freestyle from the show (the extended 10-minute version), and below it is the second half of the show (2.5 hours long), which features Funkdoobiest, JuJu, and Gangsta Boogie. Dig into it below, and if you haven't already, hit up the archives for Stretch & Bobbito's recent release, "Freestyle EP," which includes a condensed version of the freestyle, as well as other rare 90s freestyle gems. Rest In Peace, Big L.

February 22, 2021

David Begun "The Phartribe" (Mixtape)

New Hampshire's David Begun returns with another ill remix project. In his own words, "This latest mashup is a combination of two of the greatest hip-hop groups of the 90's, combining the instrumentals from The Pharcyde with the lyrics of A Tribe Called Quest. In an ode to the brilliant Bizarre Tribe album by Amerigo Gazaway, The PharTribe creates the reverse of what he did with that creation and utilizes the jazzy musical backgrounds created by J-Swift and LA Jay to provide the backdrop for Q-Tip and Phife (RIP) to lay down their back and forth poetry." Dig into it below...

February 21, 2021

DJ Quik "Safe & Sound" (February 21, 1995)

In 1990 he stepped on the scene and let you know his name--DJ Quik. In 1992, he returned to let you know he was Way 2 Fonky. Now it's 1995, and he's back to let everybody know he's Safe & Sound. One main ingredient attributing to Quik's new found security: funk. In fact, the music found here may be more appropriate on an 8-track than a CD. Quik opens up with a smooth intro and immediately blazes through "Get At Me," where he takes time out to dis an ex-comrad who betta have his money (think about it!). The quality builds throughout as Quik proceeds with his original formula: fonkay live music with lyrics that most can relate to (and don't repeatedly refer to the hard world of the streets). One track the players and pimps may want to direct their attention to is "Don't You Eat It," which warns Quik's male listeners about the dangers of "eating the coochie." Other cuts to check for are "Somethin' For The Mood" and "Summer Breeze," which impress with their coolness. "Tha Ho In You" is another highlight, as Quik's homies 2nd II None, Hi-C and Player Ham join him, along with Sexy Leroy and the Chocolate Lovelites. Another notable that may shock some is "Quik's Groove III," a butter smoove instrumental that fuses jazz and funk in the best way. For Quik's next project he could just put out a Quik's Groove CD and many would be satisfied as he proves he's a master of instrumental production. The album's only deflatable moment comes near the end as Quik relinquishes control and is joined on the mic for the last few tracks by some guest MC's who only detract from the efforts ("Sucka Free" and "Keep Tha 'P' In It"). The cuts add nothing but time to the album and without them, this album would be a near classic. Pound for pound, Quik's latest is definite listening satisfaction. The funk is superior to what is currently cluttering the market because of its cool laidback sound that is distinguishable from anything currently out. And lyrically speaking, Quik is on point, speaking in a language everyone can understand, as he tells stories that are enhanced by his high-pitched crystal clear voice that paints quality visuals for the mental. If heads can appreciate the funk--real funk--this one can't be passed up as it is truly a Safe & Sound investment. - The Source (4 Mics, 1995). Revisit Safe & Sound below... Is it a classic?

Peace to my man, Will, who put me on to this album at the time.

February 21, 2021

D.I.T.C. "Next" Feature in Vibe (December, 1999 + Playlist)

For close to 10 years, D.I.T.C. members Show, his longtime partner, A.G. (short for Andre the Giant), Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, Diamond, Buckwild (all of whom hail from the Bronx, NY), Brooklyn's O.C., and the recently murdered Harlem rhyme slinger supreme, Big L, have individually garnered accolades for their superior lyrical and/or production gifts. But besides Fat Joe's gold-selling Don Cartagena (Atlantic, 1998), street acclaim hasn't translated into record sales. "Not [achieving] what we were supposed to has taught us to stay on top of our business," blasts A.G. His man Show claims that it was a lack of organization and resources on the part of labels like Wild Pitch, Chemistry, and Pay Day that hindered D.I.T.C.'s individual success. "We felt it would make a greater impact if all of us put our ideas together, and everybody came with their different styles," Show says. And he tells no lies: Not since the rise of Staten Island, NY's Wu-Tang Clan has there been a collective that could come close to the Shao Lin Swordsman's concentrated can of whup ass. When it comes to the stock market of beats, lyrics, and flow, D.I.T.C. stand taller than the World Trade Center's twin towers. Just peep songs like the felicitous, guitar-guided "Foundation" and the bouncy, video-game-effects-bleeping, Big L-fronted "Thick." Yet as D.I.T.C. vie to become hip hop's first family, things are a little bittersweet. "I wish he were still around," says Show of his fallen compadre. "He's on most of the album, and I think about him every time I hear those songs." Fear not, Show, Big L is probably looking down, smiling, watching his crew's evolution from ghetto superstars to household names. - Next (Vibe, December 1999). No doubt, one of the greatest crews in Hip-Hop history! Below is a playlist with some of my favorite joints from the Diggin' in the Crates crew! I'll add more songs later.

February 20, 2021

Wojavelli "The Backpack Mix" (Presented by Built to Last)

Wojavelli is back with his latest mix, The Backpack Mix, presented by Built To Last out in France. For the mix, Wojavelli runs through tunes from Jemini The Gifted One, L-Swift, Company Flow, Saukrates, Finsta Bundy, J-Live, L The Head Toucha, Lo Down, Hi-Tech, Kool Keith, Natural Resource, Ghetto Concept, Killa Kidz, Juggaknots, Gravediggaz, World Renown and other rare mid-90s gems. Wise track selection and smooth transitions make for a dope mix and a fine listen! Dig into the archives for other mixes from Wojavelli and several dope Built to Last tribute mixes. Big ups to the homie, Corrado, who reached out recently - good connecting with him! Listen to The Backpack Mix below...

February 19, 2021

Drink Champs "DMX Episode" (Podcast, Video)

N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sit down with the legendary DMX for their latest episode of Drink Champs. X appeared on their show in its early stages back in 2016, so for his second appearance on Drink Champs they dig a bit deeper to uncover classic stories about touring, acting, and his legendary music catalog. It wouldn't be Drink Champs without tales of women, lots of liquor, and a story about Prince! DMX proudly announces his return to Def Jam, where he'll release his next album that features artists from the Griselda camp, Lil' Wayne, Alicia Keys, Bono (U2) and more. I've said it before but I'll say it once again, DMX is absolutely one of the people's champs and it's always good to see him walking in the light and out of the darkness. His sense of humor and his energy is infectious and DJ EFN and N.O.R.E. did their thing giving him his flowers on this episode. Because of that, I recommend checking out the video below, and, as always, hit the tags for additional content.