September 17, 2020

Wojavelli "The Best Of Alchemist" (Mixtape)

The Best of Alchemist mixtape features roughly two and a half hours of the best of Alc's first 10 years of hits, deep cuts and original blends by Wojavelli out in Philly. The Alchemist's extensive catalog is represented with cuts featuring Mobb Deep, Cormega, Nas, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jadakiss, Kool G Rap, Ghostface Killah, and lots more. Need I say more? Dig into Wojavelli's ALC mix below...

September 13, 2020

The Notorious B.I.G. "Ready To Die" (9/13/94)

"...Though many rappers exaggerate about the lives they led before becoming performers, some are actually former drug dealers. Few have ever been as open in detailing their criminal past as Biggie Smalls, and none have ever been as clear about the pain they felt at the time. "He doesn't want anyone to see that he's not as tough as he thinks he is," said Ms. Wallace, the rapper's mother. "He cries inside. He bleeds inside. But he doesn't want anyone to see the vulnerable side of him." "Ready to Die" is, indeed, marked by pathos unusual not only in hip-hop but in pop music. "In street life you're not allowed to show if you care about something," said Mr. Combs, of Bad Boy Entertainment. "You've got to keep that straight face. The flip side of that is his album. He's giving up all his vulnerability. He's letting you know how he has felt about his mother. He's letting you know how he cried. How he has thought about killing himself." Though drug dealing carries tremendous heroic value with some young urban dwellers, he sacrifices the figure's romantic potential. His raps acknowledge both the excitement of drug dealing and the stress caused by the threat from other dealers, robbers, the police and parents, sometimes one's own. In presenting the downside of that life, "Ready to Die" offers perhaps the most balanced and honest portrait of the dealer's life of any in hip-hop. "He's trying to enlighten people to the way your mind thinks when you're broke, when you're young growing up and not feeling like nobody cares about you," Mr. Combs said. Cont'd below...

On "Everyday Struggle," for example, Biggie Smalls rhymes: "I know how it feel to wake up . . . / Pocket broke as hell/ Another rock to sell/ People look at you like you's the user/ Selling drugs to all the losers/ Mad Buddah abuser/ But they don't know about your stress-filled day/ Baby on the way/ Mad bills to pay/ That's why you drink Tanqueray/ So you can reminisce/ And wish/ You wasn't living so devilish." By expressing the self-loathing and self-doubt he felt while dealing, he hopes that his experiences may resonate with other living that life. "I want them stressed-out n!@@ers to be, like, 'Yo, this n!@@er be hitting it right on the nose, man,' "he said. "That's what I'm trying to do." And he added, venting those feelings was also therapeutic. "I got a lot off my chest with that album." And he has put a lot in his pocket. Next month he will move his mother from the apartment in which she has lived for 25 years and into a house in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But despite new-found economic independence and the fear he feels while sitting in his own home, he is reluctant to move. "I could never see myself moving in the suburbs," he said. "It ain't going to be right, and the lyrics are going to be soundin' nasty. I know it. There won't be nothing to rap about except the birds." - NY Times (12/18/94). Full story can be read HERE.

September 12, 2020

Reks "T.H.I.N.G.S." (Album Stream)

On his twelfth studio LP in nearly 20 years, Reks sounds just as hungry and passionate on T.H.I.N.G.S. (The Hunger Inside Never Gets Satisfied) as he did when Along Came The Chosen dropped back in 2001. Perhaps even more so. There seems to be a fire that gets lit under the Lawrence, MA native whenever he begins crafting a new LP. “While my conceptualizing process has grown over the years, the actual approach to getting started has remained consistent,” Reks says. “There’s a youthful eagerness that comes over me every time I’m about to start a new record.” That feeling is palpable throughout T.H.I.N.G.S., an album bursting with everything you’d want from a Reks record, but also so much more. There are certainly instances of his trademark wordplay mixed with bravado on here, like the Apollo Brown-produced track “King of the Town.” But the real core of this record is Reks’ reckoning with bigger societal issues that have simply run rampant for far too long. And given his talents with the pen, he’s able to blend strong songwriting with deep, conceptual lyrics. Just listen to how he tackles white privilege on the otherwise catchy “Rachel Green” or the way he chronicles being Black in America on “White House.” That’s not even mentioning “The Complex,” a lyrically gripping look at PTSD and Big Pharma featuring Pharoahe Monch, and his personal favorite track, “Nana & Grampy’s Song,” a heartfelt dedication to Black love. For Reks, it’s all about delivering the best possible music to his fans while staying true to himself. And he does exactly that not just through his own gifts, but also through collaborations with Pharoahe, Lil Fame, Nottz, Apollo Brown, Statik Selektah, Evidence, Marco Polo, and more.

September 11, 2020

Jay-Z "The Blueprint" (September 11, 2001)

Jay-Z is arguably on top of the rap game. With his past five albums all achieving platinum-plus status, the Brooklyn, N.U., native looks to quiet anyone who dare challenge his reign with his latest set, The Blueprint. Such tracks as "The Ruler's Back" and "Takeover" are testament to this; both showcase a fearless Jay-Z, who, despite his crossover success, is still a highly credible MC. The Kanye West-produced "Takeover," which craftily employs a sample of The Doors' "Five to One," is perhaps Jay's best work to date. The Blueprint does have its requisite party tracks. Lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," which references the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," is already making serious noise at both urban and top 40 formats. Throughout The Blueprint (which features guest appearances from Q-Tip, Biz Markie, and Slick Rick, among others), Jay-Z deftly proves that while his celebrity status continues to rise, he remains firmly grounded to the street." - Billboard (9/22/01). Next to Reasonable Doubt, this is widely considered one of his best LPs, revisit it below and let me know if you agree? The production from Kanye West, Bink!, Eminem and (especially) Just Blaze is incredible.

The article in Billboard and a pic from my IG are below...

September 05, 2020

Craig G "Fragile Ego" (EP Stream)

The Juice Crew MC drops off his brand new EP, Fragile Ego. With sharp cuts, solid production and introspective lyrics, Craig G releases probably the best project of his career, which is saying a lot as he came up back in the mid-80s. You can't count out a legend! Masta Ace is the only feature on the EP but he delivers on the title track. I hope that the media covers this release and celebrates a very fine offering from Craig G. "Do yourself a favor: stay away from the fake shit." Listen below...

September 03, 2020

Capone-N-Noreaga "Blood Money" (VHS, 2000)

Blood Money is a promotional VHS tape released by Capone-N-Noreaga in 2000 ahead of their sophomore release, The Reunion, on Tommy Boy. The 30-minute street reel features music videos for "Blood Money Part 3," "T.O.N.Y.," "L.A. L.A.," and "Closer," as well as behind the scenes interviews with Capone in jail, on video sets, MTV, and more. 20 years later, it's now more of a companion piece to their classic debut album, The War Report, from 1997. Dig into the tags/archives below for other promo materials, album samplers, reviews and more from the legendary Queens crew, Capone-N-Noreaga. Props, ReelBlack, for the video - watch it below. Respect to Capone, Nore, and DJ EFN.

August 30, 2020

The LOX "Living Off Xperience" (Album Stream)

The LOX have released their new 14-track album Living Off Xperience on D-Block and Roc Nation Records. The album features the legendary DMX of Ruff Ryders, Grammy-Award winning producer Scram Jones, consistent hit-maker T-Pain, Jeremih, both Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher from Griselda Records, and more. The new album also features additional production from a who’s who of legendary producers including Swizz Beatz, Scott Storch, AraabMuzik, Nottz, Statik Selektah, and Large Professor. The Yonkers’ trio of Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch have after 22 years since their debut album released their fourth group studio album together and their first in almost three and a half years since their successful ‘Filthy America… It’s Beautiful’ which charted well in late 2016. This new album clocking in at 57-minutes sees The LOX return as expected with their signature gritty lyrical delivery coupled with the traditional New York sound that is likely to be well received by their legions of loyal fans accumulated over the years. - via The Source. Dig in...

August 27, 2020

OutKast "ATLiens" (August 27, 1996)

The evolution of hip-hop music into a greater art form will never occur if the artists and their producers themselves don't grow as individuals. Outkast and their producers, Organized Noize, understand that without growth, audiences mature beyond the artists. Their sophomore release, "ATLiens," represents a big change in faith, philosophy, and deed for the Atlanta duo. As the album title suggests, Big Boi and Dre have gone out of this world into a new dimension of sight, sound, and mind. While Big Boi speaks of embracing the responsibilities of manhood on cuts like "Decatur Psalm," Dre, like a disciple cleansing himself in baptismal water, gives voice to personal spiritual rejuvenation and renunciation of his former worldly ways on songs like "Babylon," "E.T.," and "Millennium." Outkast transcends by descending neighborhood scenery, leaving the audience to expand its imagination. "ATLiens" is socially responsible, spiritual, and street all at the same time. Almost like in the Twilight Zone, or the Million Man March, or at a southern Baptist revival, "ATLiens" embodies the power and the spirit of black music. When the offering plate begins to make its rounds, your undivided attention is the only payment required. - The Source, '96. Listen below...

The B-Side to the picture disc copy of OutKast's ATLiens LP...