October 17, 2020

Mic Geronimo "The Natural" (Elements Magazine, 1996)

Let's take it back to about 25 years ago... the place is Flushing, Queens; the man, an aspiring 19 year old MC named Mic Geronimo. "I used to rock at talent shows and shit, and then y'know, my man Irv had seen me one night and he said he had some studio time and did I wanna do a lil' demo." That was just the beginning for the now 22 47 year old MC also known as the Masta I.C. Geronimo got his name from one of his songs back in the day called "Microphone Geronimo" and the shit stuck. Signed to the young indie label Blunt Recordings, Mic released his debut album entitled "The Natural". Ironically, when he first shopped his demo record companies weren't interested so, like other hungry artists before him, he pressed up his own 12 inch. The idea was to create a buzz in the industry so record labels would take notice and the plan evidently worked. "Shit's Real" set it off for Geronimo. Not only did the single hook him up with a deal but it also became an underground classic. When asked where the funding came from for that first record all Mic had to say was "We just came up with the loot." Payin' dues... word up. - via Elements Magazine (March, 1996). As it's the 25th anniversary of the release of The Natural and Mic just did an interview with NORE and DJ EFN on Drink Champs (I'll update this when that video is live), it felt right to revisit this classic LP from Mic Geronimo. Don't sleep on Kutmasta Kurt's Computamix to "Shit's Real", too. Look forward to hearing more about how Mic Geronimo's relationship with Irv Gotti went sour, life outside of music, as well as the new projects he's been working on. Meanwhile, revisit The Natural album below...

Mic Geronimo's Interview in Elements Magazine, March 1996.

October 16, 2020

Black Thought "Streams of Thought, Vol.3" (Album Stream)

Black Thought offers his creative critique of America with his latest album, Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel. Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel attacks subject matter that led him to co-create The Roots nearly 30 years ago and is still relevant today. Black Thought uses his lyrics to cleverly address the plight Black Americans are facing while still being direct so that his message isn't lost in translation. Although the work is indicative of the moment, Black Thought explains to Variety that the current Black Lives Matter movement didn't inspire the tracks. "This collection is on par with previous volumes and later volumes of 'Streams of Thought' as to what I talk about, what I speak to… I cover a broad range of subject matter, but it’s always coming from the same place. It’s reflective of the moment, but not solely in the moment," Black Thought said before stating that the goal is to make music that isn't impacted by time. "It might sound ambitious to want to create a timeless classic, but that is always in my muscle memory, a challenge I rise to with different producers every time out," he continued. "Some of this stuff was recorded before March and since that time become more timely." - Complex. Black Thought is #T5DOA, hear why below...

October 05, 2020

Sa-Roc "The Sharecropper's Daughter" (Album Stream)

Since signing with Rhymesayers in 2015, Sa-Roc has continued to both invigorate and grow her fanbase with a string of singles, accompanied with powerful and visually enthralling music videos. In that time, she has continued to cultivate and sharpen her skill sets, and has now released her first album for the label. Speaking on the meaning of the album’s title and inspiration, Sa-Roc shares, "The Sharecropper’s Daughter speaks to my father’s actual beginnings on a Virginia tobacco farm where his family sharecropped. The title is meant to signify that both my father’s and my upbringing, though so different, are linked by a shared history that informs the way I move through the world. Although his formative years were spent in the Jim Crow era of the south, where he suffered through poverty and racial oppression, and mine were shaped in the heart of DC, amidst the war on drugs and the effects of its fallout, the album finds points of connection in two very different yet tragically familiar stories of Blackness in America. It’s a sonic reflection of the things we inherit. About the emotional weight that we unknowingly bestow upon the next generation; the genetic transfer of both trauma and triumph that we, both donors and beneficiaries, are tasked with reshaping into a future of our own." The Sharecropper’s Daughter album is entirely produced by Sol Messiah, with the exception of "Deliverance" produced by Evidence and co-produced by Al B Smoov. And, while Sa-Roc’s crafty wordplay, razor-sharp delivery and exceptional writing are the prominent highlight, this undeniable quality is only further enhanced by stellar guest performances from Saul Williams, Styles P, Ledisi, Chronixx, and Black Thought. Great project! Please dig in below...

September 30, 2020

Elzhi "Seven Times Down Eight Times Up" (Album Stream)

Here's the press release for the new LP from Elzhi: "Elzhi, the “Syllable Sensei,” is back again with a highly anticipated release titled “Seven Times Down Eight Times Up,” This 12-track LP is a collage of memories and metaphors layered atop beats crafted by up-and-coming producer JR Swiftz. With collabs from Detroit artists, Monica Blaire and Fes Rock on two of the albums stand-out tracks, Elzhi’s new masterpiece showcases his ability to create meaningful concepts while Detroit’s own comedian and “Real Hip Hop Advocate” Foolish provides commentary throughout the album. As one of Elzhi’s most cohesive releases to date, his wordsmithing abilities paint images of royalty, excellence, and zombies wearing Gucci, all with an underlying message of resilience. “Seven times Down Eight Times Up” is the mantra for a year that has seen lots of “downs,” and reminds us that no matter what we're faced with, we will remain undefeated, and get back up after being knocked down by this machete-wielding maniac we call “life.” Elzhi is one of my favorite lyricists and Seven Times Down Eight Times Up is a solid project - sans some sequencing mistakes. Dig into it below...

September 28, 2020

Kool G Rap "4, 5, 6" (25th Ann. Mix by DJ Filthy Rich)

Here's another classic anniversary mix from the homie, DJ Filthy Rich, who shares the following message along with his new mix: "This album is so underrated. Kool G Rap's earlier work with DJ Polo is without a doubt the cornerstone of his catalog, but this album is right up there with them. He switched things up by working with a team of producers, and Kool G Rap admits this is the first time he felt like a true artist. Not one skippable track, and crazy production from Buckwild, T-Ray, Dr. Butcher & Naughty Shorts. CLASSIC. If you think differently, listen to the mix and tell me I'm wrong." Dig into the mix of album cuts, samples and blends below. Props to Filthy Rich and G Rap.

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 15, 2020

DJ Shok Presents "Hi-Tech's Golden Era Singles" (EP Stream)

Here's the first ever anthology release of Yonkers MC Hi-Tech's golden era 12" joints. The release includes 8 tracks, along with the instrumental versions. The production is handled by DJ Shok and Jay Biz and will be available on 2LP vinyl, CD, cassette and digital. If you've been following the blogs over the years going back to my very first site, I've been pushing Hi-Tech's music and DJ Shok's classic production for years. "4 Degrees For The Streets" is still one of the best B-side tracks to come from the underground, independent scene in the 90s, but you'll also recognize "24/7," "Book of Life," "All Time Einstein" and more as well. Big ups to DJ Shok, who has a dope catalog you should already be familiar with. Pick up a copy of this limited release and check Tech's technique 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.