Friday, January 31, 2014

Mello Music Group "Mandala, Vol.2" (Album Stream)

"Following a triumphant 2013 for the Mello Music Group label, with full-length releases from Oddisee, Quelle Chris, Ugly Heroes, 14KT and Gensu Dean & Planet Asia to name a few, Mandala Vol. 2, Today’s Mathematics celebrates the breadth of talent on deck over sixteen carefully-selected new tracks. Showcasing the depth of lyricists and producers that the MMG squad has to offer, the LP delivers everything from brag rap workouts, electro funk excursions, tales of relationships turned sour and late night kush soundtracks. Acting as both an ideal introduction to the Mello Music Group roster for newer listeners and a celebration of the strength of the label for existing fans, Mandala Vol. 2, Today’s Mathematics is an essential experience for anyone with an ear for soulful music that isn’t afraid to stay down to earth while shooting for the stars." Stream it below!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mello Music Group "Mandala, Vol.1" (Album Stream)

"Mandala Vol.1, Polysonic Flows is the fourth Mello Music Group compilation; it showcases our ever-evolving roster of top-tier producers and rappers, many of whom (e.g. Oddisee, Quelle Chris, Has-Lo) fill both roles with equal dexterity. Additionally, it features several artists MMG plans to collaborate with in 2014, a testament to our commitment to working with those who possess singular sonic and lyrical abilities. Mandala Vol. 1, Polysonic Flows is at once compact and comprehensive. Clocking in at twenty tracks, there is not a minute wasted and not a miss in sight. It is diverse and yet somehow cohesive, tailor made to rock your car speakers and your brain stem. It is MMG’s reminder that hip-hop is alive and well..." You can stream Mandala, Vol.1 below.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gang Starr "Step In The Arena" (Album Review, 1/91)

"Everything you've heard about Gang Starr is true. They are observers of street factualities, and blenders of the most wicked funk. To call DJ Premier a genius might be over the top, but if you want a rap record that you can jam to in your car, or on your walkman, or in your room, then this is it! Every track on this LP kicks with lyrics that come straight from life on the street. As Gang Starr says in "The Meaning of the Game," Gang means the posse, Starr means power - and that's exactly what the duo deliver. They tackle everything from intellectual attitude in "Form Of Intellect" to bad boy stick up kids in "Just To Get A Rep." And to show some diversity, Guru looks at relationships with "Lovesick" and "What Do You Want This Time?" with a humor and sensitivity never seen before in rap lyrics." Watch the visuals for the title track, "Step In The Arena," cont'd below...

"Execution Of A Chump" is the dopest track on the LP. Using an old'n'slow Pointer Sisters break, the track takes on all-comers and puts them in their place, without being offensive or rude - the perfect lyrical execution. "Take a Rest" uses "Trouble Man" breaks while the funky drum beats and train sounds put other posses in their place. If you're seeking out innovation in rap, then check out "Game Plan" and "Check The Technique." Basically, there's something for everyone on "Step In The Arena." As they on the track of the same name, some rappers are "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," but not Gang Starr. This is serious business." - Hip-Hop Connection, January 1991.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Digable Planets "Rebirth of Slick" (The Source, 12/92)

Their '92 review in The Source said "Taking native tongue grooviness and jazzy hip-hop styles to the next level, meet Digable Planets, three "ghetto dwelling insects" with sound smuggled to you from sector six in the colorful ghettos of outer space. Digable is two guys and one female - Butterfly, Doodle-B and Mecca the Lady Bug - and they all rhyme (the first male-female combo since the days of the Funky Four + 1 and The Masterdon Committee)." Check out the dope visuals below...

"The opening of this debut single features thick scales on an upright bass. Then the beat drops with some jazzy high-hats and the laid back rhyme flavor enters your world. Over a warm horn loop and a bouncy track that bottoms in-and-out, the MCs drop references that range from b-boy, "the lyrics is like loot, come in stacks and rolls" to the retro-hip, "60s funky worms with waves and perms." Some may say they sound like Quest, but Digable are just a crew of hip-hop stylistics who can rock everybody, from dreads to jheri curls. Check for the early '93 LP," (The Source, 12/92) which Digable called a "sound vestige" at the time: "Reachin (A New Refutation of Time & Space)."

Monday, January 27, 2014

NPR "Microphone Check: Eight Million Stories, Hip-Hop In 1993"

All year Morning Edition and NPR Music have been running radio pieces about rap albums released 20 years ago, in 1993. For a special episode of Microphone Check we invited a group of people who were working in hip-hop back then to meet us at the Ace Hotel in New York City and tell stories about that productive and creative year. Microphone Check's guests were none other than:
  • Faith Newman — A&R at Def Jam and then Columbia, who signed Nas.
  • Ralph McDaniels — host of Video Music Box, music video director and producer.
  • Prince Paul — producer for De La Soul and the Gravediggaz, member of Handsome Boy Modeling School and solo musician.
  • Mike Dean — engineer and producer at Rap-A-Lot Records.
  • Stretch Armstrong — DJ for WKCR's Stretch & Bobbito radio show.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Organized Konfusion "Organized Konfusion" (The Source, 1/92)

"OK's debut single "Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken," was dope, but it didn't really give you a good idea of what this crew is about, lyrically speaking. Buy this album, take it home, and prepare to sweat brain cells trying to keep up with the way these kids rhyme. MC's Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch flip the illest off-beat rhyme style to come out since Ultramagnetic's Kool Keith... Organized is definitely on some other shit." Check the visuals to "Fudge Pudge," featuring O.C...

"The cut that seems to epitomize their concept most is "Releasing Hypnotical Gases." The title should suffice to let you know how bugged it is. The beats fall right in sync with the lyrical atmosphere, full of mad soulfull jazz breaks topped with crazy sounds like the backwards guitars on the title cut and the sound of bubbling fluids before "...Hypnotical Gases." "Roosevelt Franklin" makes a statement about life in the 'hood. Roosevelt is a brother seeking a balance between doing well in school, being a good son to his moms, while getting paid slinging rocks on the down-low. Other stand-out cuts are "Fudge Pudge," "Audience Pleasers," with a laid-back freestyle feel, and the "...Chicken" remix hooked up with some fat live instrumentals. Organized is talking hip-hop to new levels. Those who like to hear progressive and innovative styles need to get with it." - The Source.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mobb Deep "Peer Pressure" (The Source, 11/92)

"You will remember '92 as the year when the shorties rocked the mic. But none of 'em ever got as raw as these kids. Thought Havoc and Prodigy look young, they are far from being bubble gum pop sensations. On "Peer Pressure," Mobb Deep kicks the real about how hard it is to grow up positive and legal when all you are surrounded by is negative. "I used to dream of being an architect / Believe me it's easier said than done because it's hard to get / Out of the projects without forgettin' where you come from." Check the early visuals to Mobb Deep's "Peer Pressure" below...

"On the b-side, they put the social commentary on hold and get buck wild on the mic. "Flavor" features some of the best freestyles of the year as well as an incredible, neck-snappin', acoustic bassline. Prodigy sounds like he's been making records for ten years when he kicks it like "Mr. Soul / Trunk jewels, sippin' Olde Gold / Roll up my nickel bag of weed / Lick it up and stroll." Definitely not for the playground." - The Source, November 1992. Listen to Flavor For the Non-Believers here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dag Savage "The Warning Tape" (Mix)

Dag Savage might sound like it's a death metal band, but stop what you're doing and give a listen to Dirty Science's Exile & Johaz as they release "The Warning Tape," a prelude to their E&J album. The Tape features Blu, Aloe Blacc, Blame One, Denmark Vessey, Co$$, TriState, Choosey & more on this compilation of unreleased cuts. Exile is one of Hip-Hop's most innovative producers & his track record of selecting incredible MCs to pair with includes Aloe Blacc, Blu, & Fashawn, so let's go ahead and give the man the benefit of the doubt; click play below to stream "The Warning Tape."

Friday, January 17, 2014

Blu "Soul Amazing Part 1" (Mix)

Blu's official "Soul Amazing" mixtape series: Part 1 features Blu verses originally on tracks with Co$$, Ta'Raach, Aloe Blacc, Mumbles, Sene, Presto, Dela, Waxolutionists, Keelay & Zaire, Evidence, MAGr, Small Pro, Tanya Morgan & dozens more. I'm very excited for this mixtape, as there are so many quality Blu verses floating around the internet, many of which didn't land on official releases & it's nice to have them chopped and included in this feature series. That Mumbles track is incredible, I hadn't heard it before this mixtape. Stream the mix below, and more to come.

Friday, January 17, 2014

EPMD "Crossover" (The Source, September 1992)

"Erick and Parrish would not put out a single if it wasn't funky, so right away you know you need to buy this one. This time the boys come out of the box with a hard look at a serious disease that has infected hip-hop - the dreaded "crossover syndrome." How many times have you seen a rapper come out hard and street, only to see him or her deteriorate into a bubble bath taking, pop radio loving, sucker MC? EPMD have seen enough of that noise, and over a fat Zapp chorus they start pluckin' cards. With underground flavor, they drop lines like: "The rap era's out of control / Brothers sellin' their soul, to go gold / Going ...going ...gone, another rapper - SOLD!" and "Came on the scene chillin' / Freakin' the funky dope lines / But when they're finished with you - *BEEEP* - flatline!"

"I speak for the hardcore (rough, rugged and raw)
I'm outta here, catch me chillin' on my next tour
From the US to the white cliffs of Dover
Strictly underground funk, keep the Crossover..."

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Roots "From Trees To Branches - Do You Want More?!?!" (Mix)

Today marks nineteen years since the release of The Roots' sophomore album, "Do You Want More?!!?" Over the last two decades we've seen The Roots grow from small stage shows and open mics in the streets of Philly, all the way to headlining their own festival and the Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon. As they proceeded to continue to rock the mic, their impact to Hip-Hop was immediate! From the jump, they displayed an expertly mixed combination of lyricism and live musicianship which amazed fans and influenced their peers alike. We hope today's reminiscent reflection and tribute of Hip-Hop's greatest live rap band will help you understand the complexity of seeds planted by The Roots. Tracklist and stream for the mix is below, by UnitedCrates.

1. Proceed I -Produced by: AJ Shine and The Grand Negas
2. Distortion To Static (Bob Power Bass Version) - Produced by: AJ Shine and The Grand Negas
3. Proceed II feat. Roy Ayers - Produced by: The Grand Negas
4. Distortion To Static (At Ease Mix) - Produced by: AJ Shine
5. Proceed III feat. Bahamadia - Produced by: AJ Shine and The Grand Negas
6. Silent Treatment (Da Beatminerz Remix) - Produced by: Da Beatminerz
7. Proceed IV (AJ Shine's Proceed w/o Pause Mix) - Produced by: AJ Shine
8. The Lesson Part 2 (Q's Flava Groove) - Produced by: Questlove, Kelo, and AJ Shine
9. Proceed V (Da Beatminerz Remix) -Produced by Da Beatminerz
10. Distortion To Static (Freestyle Mix feat Dice Raw) - Produced by: AJ Shine & The Grand Negas

Friday, January 17, 2014

Nas "Halftime" (The Source, December 1992)

"This MC has slowly been collecting props on the down low in NYC. He added flavor to the Main Source's "Live At The B.B.Q." and recently went "Back To The Grill" with MC Serch. Now, after years as a guest star, Nasty Nas gets the chance to wreck an entire track without havin' to pass the mic. Nas is one of those brothers who can drop freestyles on you without warning. And Halftime's made-for-freestyling track (conservative bass, gritty snare and horn loop) is all Nas needs to catch wreck. His trademark is ill rhymes and punch lines galore." Peep the gritty visuals below...

"I rap in front of more n!ggas than in the slave ships / I used to watch "Chips" now I load glock clips / I got to have it, I miss Mr. Magic / Versatile, my style switches like a faggot / But not bisexual / I'm an intellectual / In rap I'm a professional / But that's no question, yo!" Nasty Nas will definitely be starting trouble in '93." - The Source, December 1992. "Ill Will, rest in peace, yo I'm out..."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trends of Culture "Who Got Ya Back" Remix + Billboard (1993)

Trends of Culture Mad Sounds Recordings 1993 Billboard Magazine

I first heard Trends of Culture on radio back in '93 - I'm guessing it was probably WBLS. I went straight to the record store and copped the 'Off & On' 12" on Mad Sounds Recordings; the sleeve was bright green. Trends of Culture were Nastee, M.O.L. and Grapevine - their debut LP, 'Trendz' had mostly in-house production, although there was the remix from Lord Finesse. The sleeper cut on the LP was 'Who Got My Back?,' which may have sounded a bit emo at the time, but I was into that record heavy. With plans to release a follow-up on Mad Sounds two years later called 'When Trend Men Come,' they did release a couple singles - the most widely known single being 'Make A Move,' which was a terrific 12" produced by Easy Moe Bee. They also had a remix in '93 to 'Who Got My Back,' which was bootlegged as 'Who Got Ya Back' and features Treach of Naughty by Nature and Method Man. It floated around on mixtapes, but to the best of my knowledge, the song only appears on a 12" called 'Mouthcutlass Set Pt. 1', and sadly their sophomore LP was shelved. Peep the song below and read above for their feature in Billboard Magazine, May '93. (Updated audio '17).

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fredro Starr "Made In The Streets" (Album Stream)

Made In The Streets is the third studio album by hardcore rapper Fredro Starr, best known as a member of the multi-platinum rap group Onyx. The 12-track project is entirely produced by the good homie The Audible Doctor, who lends his signature soulful chops all over the beats for the album. It brings out a new sound in Fredro, but it's still South-Suicide Queens' own throughout the project, with a quick feature from Philly Swain. I seen Philly Swain battle in a park one time, homeboy caught a body, he was spittin' flames. Hit up YouTube, there are some visuals for the project, but before that, check out the stream for "Made In The Streets" below.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Crooklyn Dodgers "Crooklyn" (Review, 1994)

When you hear: "Straight from Crooklyn, better known as Brooklyn / Never takin' shorts, 'cause Brooklyn's the borough," you know it's gonna be epic! Ya know how else you know? "Masta Ace and Buckshot on a Q-Tip track? That's reason enough to get up on this single. Add that to the long-awaited return of "the magnificent" Special Ed, and you know the shit must be monumental. And "Crooklyn" won't let you down. The Abstract's beat is all bassline hypnosis and layers of loops. As the groove creates the aura, all 3 lyricists take their task to heart as they reflect on that "70s thing from the days when kids didn't act so craze / in Crooklyn." As the first single off the soundtrack of Spike Lee's new movie, the song has nothing to do with the film and the film has nothing to do with crooks (it's about family life in Brooklyn), but whatever's clever." - The Source, cont'd below...

"Panic / As another manic depressant / Adolescent / Stares at death 
Now what's left / When there ain't no God and a whole lotta pride?
It might be a homicide / So let the drama / Slide 
We don't want no problems, B / Get your name in the obituary columns, see 
Cuz life is too short / And it gets shorter / I wish I had a quarter 
for all my people they slaughter / Last year alone / In the dead zone 
Walk straight, but don't walk late 
Cuz I'm comin' with a hate only made / From what it made me 
Cuz nobody ever played me / Now it's only gettin' worse 
Buckshot and Ace in the land of the waste
Kickin' you in your face!"

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Gang Starr "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (Album Review, 7/89)

"Every once in a while an album comes my way that dares to be different. While the rhymers aren't especially incredible, the music is first rate and the grooves are massive. The most outstanding song here is "Jazz Music" and is exactly what the title suggests: a slow easy jazz rhythm gives the MCs, Premier and the Guru, a lush bed to do their business over. Other outstanding tracks are the latino inspired, "Manifesto," a hardcore hip-hop "Gotch U" and the DJ Mark The 45 King produced, "Knowledge." This album is a fair representation of the extent of hip-hop's incredible growth in the Americas during the past few years. Months ago Gang Starr were virtual unknowns, now they've got an album out and rave reviews..." - Hip Hop Connection, 7/89 (Updated, photo added by @Illvia)

"...Tape playing loudly, inside my headphones
MC's that crowd me, turn into headstones
Because I don't have time for, powerless minds or
Suckers who suck, because I find more
Interesting topics, you can not stop it
I drop it and rock it I shock it, that's how I'm livin' B
I like to live my life with positivity..."

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Jeopardy "It's a Rap" (Video)

"Want further evidence of Hip-Hop’s domination in pop culture? Well, last night rap lyrics returned to the blue screen on Jeopardy. The legendary Alex Trebek read off rap lyrics from the likes of Biggie, Public Enemy, Dre & Snoop and more as the contestant nailed each question with ease. Seriously, these folks didn’t even second guess themselves once." - via MissInfo. You've gotta appreciate "It's A Rap" being a category on Jeopardy, and the players knowing the answers! This is what Steve Stoute called the "Tanning of America;" even Jeopardy makes a dollar from it. Watch...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Rub "Hip-Hop History Series" (2000-2009, Mixes)

Cosmo Baker, DJ Ayres, and DJ Eleven of The Rub present their history of hip-hop series on BrooklynRadio! After a tour of the 90s, the crew digs into the recent past with the millenium decade. As the genre reached commercial success in the last decade, its sound would touch everything that was pop. Get ready for 50 Cent, Kanye West, The Neptunes, and The Dirty South taking over Americas airwaves. Click HERE to listen and download each year individually!

Monday, January 06, 2014

The Rub "History of Hip-Hop Series" (1990-1999, Mixes)

Cosmo Baker, DJ Ayres, and DJ Eleven of The Rub present their history of hip-hop series on BrooklynRadio! Starting with the jazzy samples of the Native Tongues movement in the early part of the decade, with groups like A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, the series moves into the gangster pop of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry. Theres plenty of Biggie, Tupac, Dre, Snoop, Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, club classics, forgotten singles, the start of the indie era with Rawkus, and flavors from different parts of the country as the genre expanded to the South. You can stream 1990-1999 below, but click through HERE to listen and/or download each year individually! Dope series!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Common "I Used To Love H.E.R." (Review, 1994)

"I Used to Love H.E.R." was released by Common in '94 on his sophomore album "Resurrection." With the entire album produced by No I.D., the song blends hip-hop with a jazzy sample from "The Changing World" by George Benson. Undoubtedly one of his most popular tracks and one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all-time. From the beefs it sparked to the sentiments encapsulated in its strong messaging, Common became one of our culture's most important voices, and he's kept his word to never turn his back on his first love. It's hard to ignore the irony that this song was recorded in what's widely considered the "golden era" of hip-hop; it just goes to show you that our culture is forever growing, and OGs always need to play a role to help guide it forward. Cont'd...

The Source adds, "I used to love h.e.r." is a love story ... It's about paying homage to the thing that gave your life a direction and a purpose. Common talks about his love affair with hip-hop ... The track's contemplative chimes, pianos and soft alluring string melodies sweep you away like a Barry White interlude ... All you can do is listen closely to what is being said. A lot of brothers talk smack about how much game they have and why you should listen to them, but Common is one of the few who has something worth saying: "Talkin' about poppin' glocks, servin' rocks and hittin' switches / Now she's a gangster rollin' with gangster bitches" ... "Stressin' how hardcore and real she is / She was really the realist before she got into showbiz" ... But as bad as things are, Common will not abandon his first love. At the song's end he vows that he will be there for her like she was for him." 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Zebrahead Soundtrack / "Halftime" (The Source, 1992)

"These days it seems like every movie must have some hip-hop on its soundtrack. Oliver Stone certainly knows what time it is; for his latest effort, "Zebrahead" about the relationship between a white guy and a black girl, he enlists the musical aid of MC Serch as executive producer. The final product is a decent collection of sounds featuring new beats and established artists alike. Kicking it off is Nasty Nas with "Half Time," the soundtrack's first and undeniably fattest single. With freestyle skills flowing like Moet, Nas gets biz, and turns the party out. Sounding at times like Lord Finesse, he raps, "You couldn't catch me on the streets without a ton of reefer / That's like Malcolm X catchin' the jungle fever," as the jingle bells rock over a steady-thumping drum and bass groove... Besides Nas and a few others, no one really shines, but as a whole, this collection should not be completely slept on." The single that started it all for (Nasty) Nas and "Illmatic," check it out below.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Allow Me To (Re)-Introduce Myself


Greetings! Please think of this ‘blog’ like you would a white label vinyl - judge the content by the quality and not by the name, features or artwork. Give stuff you're not familiar with a chance to surprise you, then follow the bread crumbs and see what you discover. If you’re here strictly for the nostalgia, I got you, but despite the name, this site is more about vibes and creating a filter ... or more simply, curating a niche playlist of music and memories: new and old. As for me? Well, I guess my own narrative will play out over time via the context to my posts, but as an introduction - my name is Sav; I had my first blog in '05-06 called The Analects, and a couple since you may or may not have known were mine - all very similar to this one. Why am I doing this (again) now? I just feel like it's a nice escape from everything else that I do online and it keeps me on top of new music, as well as offering me opportunities to take a walk down memory lane. We've all got a story to tell, sharing mine just happens to be entangled in a few decades of hip-hop. I'm non-committal about where this will go and for how long, but I am optimistic and look forward to it. If that sounds fair, I trust we'll connect in the comments section real soon. Much respect! - DJ Sav One