Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jeru The Damaja "Come Clean" (The Source, 11/93)

"Just when you thought quality and skill were things of the past, in steps one of the last true MCs - Jeru "The Damaja" - to save the day. Jeru, who comes from Brooklyn, is a charter member of the Gang Starr Foundation and he might be best remembered by his jaw-tapping debut on the duo's last LP. Now he steps into the area with a solo that is already causing quite a buzz. "Come Clean" has been quietly kicking through the underground for a few months now, but now, with nationwide distribution, everyone is going to hear what the fuss is about. You can't get any rawer than this. You haven't heard a beat so stripped down since "Sucker MCs," and the rhymes head straight for your throat. Over one of the most distinguishable percussion patterns ever laid down (it literally sounds like an amplified version of Chinese water torture) Jeru kicks some of the ruggest lyrics of the year." Peep the visuals to the DJ Premier-produced banger, "Come Clean," cont'd below ...

"Jeru is a hardcore brother who takes no shorts, but what separates him from other rappers is that he conveys that image with lyrical skill instead of the typical guns 'n guts favored by the less talented. The only violence he commits is on the mic - "Real, ruff and rugged / Shine like a gold nugget / Every time I pick up the microphone I drug it / Unplug it on chumps with the gangs a babble / Leave your nines at home and bring your skills to the battle" - and if you can't do the same, he calls you out. With a fat beat, fat skills and a voice willing to criticize and challenge popular conventions, Jeru does every thing a rapper is supposed to. You can't ask for more." - The Source

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Non-Phixion "The Future Is Now" (Deluxe Edition)

Featuring MCs Ill Bill, Goretex and Sabac with DJ Eclipse, Brooklyns Non Phixion made their first waves as a group in the mid-1990s with the indie singles Legacy (1996) and 5 Boros (1997), released on MC Serchs Serchlite Music. They fit perfectly into an era in New York City that had produced not only the Wu-Tang Clan, M.O.P. and Mobb Deep, but also underground firebrands and peers like Company Flow and the Arsonists. Aggressive, brazen, intelligent, and never predictable, they were impossible to ignore. Not-to-be-missed live shows helped to build their legend and fanbase throughout the end of the 90s. As Chris Faraone explains in the sets ridiculously comprehensive liner notes book (featuring interviews with all four group members): Non Phixion inspired fans to simultaneously deploy their smarts, bang their heads, and throw a fist. With their small but lauded body of collective work, Ill Bill, Sabac Red, Goretex, and DJ Eclipse introduced hip-hop to a unique brand of intelligent thuggery that looked past convenient enemies, and brought heat to the terrorists in government and beyond. From the groups formation in the mid-90s, to their breakup more than a decade later, Non Phixion kicked conspiratorial science that rings even truer now than it did before the aughts … After the initial buzz in the wake of their early singles, they were signed to, and subsequently parted ways with, both the Geffen and Matador labels in the late 90s and early 2000s. After those experiences, Non Phixion decided – in true and appropriate indie fashion – to go for self. The Future Is Now finally hit in 2002 on the groups Uncle Howie Records, to fanfare appropriate for one of the 90s underground hip-hop movements most impressive and hardworking crews. In addition to new songs like the singles Rock Stars and Drug Music, the album also included previously-heard tracks from the groups journey: Black Helicopters and If You Got Love (both from 2000, originally singles on Matador). Production on the album matched the MC talent perfectly, with tracks by Bills brother and Uncle Howie label-mate Necro, with additional work by an array of legends, including DJ Premier (Rock Stars); Large Professor (Drug Music, Its Us, and We Are The Future); Pete Rock (If You Got Love); and JuJu from the Beatnuts (Suicide Bomb). With more of a decade in the rear-view mirror, The Future Is Now Premium edition is the perfect way for diehard fans to finally hear the stories about the forces that made – and eventually tore apart – Non Phixion, and how The Future Is Now came about. Those engaging tales are brought to life even more with the physical specimens provided on vinyl, CD, cassette and the printed page... 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ak Skills "Check Da Flava" 12" (1996)

In 1996, Ak Skills (Queens, NY) was generating a solid buzz in the underground with his Lord Finesse-produced single "Check Da Flava." It was the first of his two 12" releases on Tru Criminal Records in 1996, and had "Nights of Fear" on the B-Side, which was produced by Buckwild. The 12" was featured in The Source's "Sure Shot Singles," saying "Ak Skills drops hazard with "Check The Flava," a straight out the underground joint worthy of attention. Its jazzy baseline embraces an organ-n-drum sequence while some on-point scratching gives it that extra touch." The single received some love in Beat Down Magazine too, echoing the sentiments of The Source. Also on Tru Criminal Records were Street Smartz, God Sunz, F.T., and the slept-on mixtape/compilation DJ Premier did called New York Reality Check 101. Listen to the 12" below, what do you think?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Redman "Remixxes" (Mixtape Stream)

I'm a long time Redman fan, and if he wants to continue dropping promotional projects in advance of what he's convinced will be Muddy Waters 2, I am not gonna complain. It's already been a few years in the making with no official release date, but projects like the "Remixxes" tape keep dropping in between, so who am I to say sh!t? In the fall of last year, the Funk Doc blessed us with 19 joints of Red going in over some industry beats like Em's Just Don't Give A F#ck, G Depp's Special Delivery, Jada's We Gon Make It, and lots more. I dunno if we needed all the features but it's Redman, it's always an entertaining listen, so dig into the mixtape below. Where's Muddy Waters 2?

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Source "The Best Hip-Hop Singles of 1992"

I miss the days of opening up The Source and seeing their Fat Tapes & choosing the hottest singles out each month. In this case, The Source was choosing the top singles of 1992. To humor myself, I've decided to choose one song from each row and then each column, too. In retrospect, we'll see which tracks are my favorites from the year & try to get it down to one final song, lol.

Row 1: Deep Cover | Row 2: T.R.O.Y. | Row 3: Dwyck
Column 1: Scenario | Column 2: Dwyck | Column 3: T.R.O.Y.
Column 4: Fakin' The Funk (Remix) | Column 5: Uptown Anthem | Column 6: So What'Cha Want?

Of all the rows and columns, my favorite track in this whole year is ... *drum rolls* ... I'm going with Pete Rock & CL Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You." Such a classic cut; from the "Today" by Tom Scott & The California Dreams sample to the lyrics immortalizing their friend's passing ... it's just such an incredible record. In all honesty, hearing Pete Rock & CL Smooth perform "T.R.O.Y." live is one of the single greatest moments I've had at a live show ... and I've been to hundreds of shows over the years. I heard them rock it on 3 separate nights on tour with them in Europe; I left the merch table unattended to watch them each night! Thankful to see a crowd respond to such an incredible record. It was a vibe and they tapped into the energy of the crowd every night. Greatest song of '92, in my eyes. What about you? Best song of the year, each column, each row, whatever you wanna share - you can comment below or DM me or e-mail me, whatever is easier.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dag Savage "E&J" (Album Stream)

Exile Teams Up with Johaz: another fresh voice from Cali under the monicker DAG SAVAGE. The album features appearances by the Dirty Science family Blu, Aloe Blacc, Fashawn, Co$$, Choosey and more. After classics in "Below The Heavens" with Blu, and "Boy Meets World" with Fashawn, the stage is set for Exile & Johaz as Dag Savage, stream their debut album "E&J" below.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

MindsOne & Kev Brown "Pillars" (Album Stream)

MindsOne reunites with legendary Low Budget Crew producer Kev Brown to offer hip-hop connoisseurs another round of boom bap driven instrumentals and lyrical inspiration in the form of "Pillars". Following the success of their critically acclaimed album "Self Reliance", the MC duo of KON Sci and Tronic began conceptualizing an exclusive new EP with the bass-minded beat maker's talents in mind. Concise and thoughtful, "Pillars" explores notions of loyalty and mortality, laments the stagnation of modern day musical creativity, all while celebrating the limitless possibilities of the culture. A tall order for a compact record, but the combination of Kev Brown's instrumental virtuosity and MindsOne's authority over the spoken word aims to achieve just that. The EP features a guest appearance from Homeboy Sandman along with instrumentals from up and coming producer Sam Brown & a brand new remix of "Legion of Doom" by MindsOne stalwart KON Sci.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ugly Heroes "Ugly Heroes' LP (Album Stream)

"Heavy blue collar raps over nasty beats." On it's 1st anniversary, let's take a look back ... "An Ugly Hero is considered a myth. Growing up, the heroes we saw in cartoons and movies were perfectly chiseled, intelligent, and had senses none of us possess. An UGLY HERO is the everyday blue collar individual that makes the world go 'round. These are the heroes that work hard all day, everyday to help ensure that the lives around them are taken care of, and do it all without recognition. They wear themselves into the ground and sacrifice vanity for family. Apollo Brown, Verbal Kent, and Red Pill are UGLY HEROES," and this is their self-titled debut: stream it below, and cop the LP!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LA Leakers x DJ Premier "Leaks That Collected Dust" (Mix)

Dope! Sitting down with Justin Credible and DJ Sourmilk of the LA Leakers, the legendary DJ Premier tells multiple tales about some of his dopest cuts; from how a certain Texas legend wanted Mos Def’s “Mathematics,” how Rah Digga lost out on “The 6th Sense,” and a lot more! You can stream and download the 16-track mixtape below, and as back-up, you can also grab a download HERE too. Much respect to the greatest of all-time, DJ Premier!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fat Joe "Flow Joe" (1993)

"Flow Joe" is the debut single by Bronx eMCee Fat Joe. It was released on his debut LP "Represent" in 1993. The song contains samples of "Get Out of My Life, Woman" by Lee Dorsey and "The Long Wait" by Morton Stevens, flipped by Diamond D as the producer on the track. Years later, Joe describes the record and his come-up to Complex: “I started out in the Apollo Theater. That’s where I got my start. I won Amateur Night four weeks in a row. I met Red Alert, who was the number one DJ in New York. He worked on 98.7 KISS FM. He asked me to give him a promo, like a jingle. So I went to Diamond D’s spot, and he came up with the beat. Red played it a couple of weeks later and the whole projects and everyone in front of the building started going crazy. So that was where ‘Flow Joe’ came from originally. Then, Chris Lighty and Relativity approached me about signing me, and they wanted that to be the single. So we took that, and we turned it into Flow Joe... and the rest is history" The B-Side to the 12" was "Livin Fat," produced by Lord Finesse. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Trends Of Culture "Valley Of The Skinz" (The Source, 9/93)

"If you are not up on the Trends of Culture album, then this single will quickly remedy the situation. Nothing short of perfect, this could be one of the summer's most enjoyable songs. Dedicated to our favorite subject - sex - Nastee, Grapevine, and M.O.L. show and prove that sex rhymes can be delivered with class, skill and distinction. While there are plenty of mix versions to choose from, most will want to stick wit the original. Its solid drums, soft piano keys and weird synth effects make it a winner even before the first rhyme is spoken." Check out the visuals below, cont'd...

"And when they turn on the mics, it is clear that they know what they are talking about. Showing great diversity and skill the Trends tell the tale with lines like: "Jimmy on patrol, Jenny on parole / And I took total control of her tuna casserole" and "A little playful pushin' / A little playful mushin' / And I'll tap the tush and I'll make flat the bush / But don't be tryin' to play a trick, G / 'Cause I can tell on the down low if you've been whistling dixie." - The Source, September 1993.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

You Must Learn Episode 1: Jeru The Damaja "Sun Rises In The East"

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of a hip-hop record distinguished by its raw sound, uncompromising lyricism, and social commentary: Jeru the Damaja's debut album, The Sun Rises In The East. 1994 was a powerful, transformative year for hip-hop. Nas, OutKast, and Biggie Smalls each dropped their debut albums, while other more established artists released projects regarded both then and now as milestones in the genre. Jeru was only 21 years old when he recorded the The Sun Rises; 22 when it came out on Payday Records. What you're about to hear is Jeru the Damaja taking us track by track through his DJ Premier-produced debut album, delving into an array of subjects and stories such as: waiting and watching for Nas to create Illmatic; spending formative years with the members of the Wu-Tang Clan; the nature of Brooklyn pride; his inspiration drawn from his family, friends and predecessors, and the story of how he got his pet hamster. "You Must Learn" was produced and edited by Peter Oasis, written by Dharmic X, and executive produced by Evan Auerbach, with narration from Soul Khan. The intro was produced by DJ Flipout, and the artwork was designed by Kelly Green. Listen to the debut episode of "You Must Learn" below.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Masta Ace "Jeep Ass Nigguh" (The Source, 6/93)

"True, brothers in Cadillac's and low riding '64 Impala's have it going on, but when a hardcore New York jeep ass n!gga like Masta Ace rolls up and presses "play," you know it's gonna be on. While he has been on a little hiatus as of late, Ace definitely came correct with this one. Over an ear-shattering acoustic bassline, he cruises the city streets, blasting his system and battling kids who think they can hang. Ace's delivery is just as amped as his bassline, mixing dope lyrics with frame-shredding boom. No one can disturb this groove, not even the police..." Peep the visuals, cont'd...

"Black boy, Black boy turn that shit down / You know that America don't want to hear the sound / Of the bass drum, jungle music / Go back to Africa / N!gger I'll arrest you if you're holding up traffic / I'll be damned if I listen / So cop save your breath / And write another ticket if you have any left / I'm breakin' eardrums while I'm breakin' the law / I'm disturbin' all the peace 'cause Sista Souljah said war!" Play this loud, long and often." - The Source, June 1993 (Sure Shot Single)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Alex Belth & Illchemist "Another Fine Mess" (Mixtape)

The most eclectic, comedy-filled Hip-Hop mix I've possibly ever heard. I really enjoyed the melding of comedic sketches and dialogue from television and film into the mix. To have a tracklist would ruin the experience, in my eyes, so instead I'll just share what Alex Belth had to say to introduce the mix: "I listened to a lot of rap records starting in the late '80s throughout the '90s. I bought vinyl, collected mixtapes, and stayed up late to record mix shows on WNYU (89.1) and WKCR (89.9). I'd put aside enough material to make a half-dozen mixes, and so when Alan (a/k/a illchemist) approached me last December about doing another full-length mix project, I had plenty of material to choose from. We spent the next 5 months crafting the project, lacing spoken word, comedy bits and movie dialogue over Hip Hop beats..." and they now present to us "Another Fine Mess." Please do yourself the favor of listening to this sooner than later, available to stream below.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth "The Living Daylights"

"The Living Daylights" is the collaborative album between Willie The Kid & Bronze Nazareth. The project features Roc Marciano, Boldy James, Sha Stimuli, Sean Price, and is entirely produced by Bronze Nazareth. I was turned away from the project by the artwork, just didn't look like something I would like, but a song slipped into a playlist I checked out & boom, the old cliches rang off in my head about pre-judging a body of work by its cover. Give it a listen, I think you'll dig it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Lord Finesse Episode"

"Diggin' In The Crates co-founder Lord Finesse gives us a history lesson on his days as the Funky Technician, discovering the late great Big L (R.I.P.), being a part of the Notorious B.I.G.'s classic 'Ready To Die' album, as well as running with Puff, working closely to this day with Dr. Dre and his legal issues with Mac Miller. Of course there's more to this, so pull up a chair because rap class is in session." In all my years, I have never met Lord Finesse, one of my favorite producer/MCs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Skyzoo & Torae "Pre-Loaded: Best of The Barrel Brothers" (Mix)

Skyzoo & Torae aka The Barrel Brothers have their collaborative album dropping soon & drop off this dope "Pre-Loaded" mix in advance of the LP. Hosted by DJ E-Holla, a quick mix of their previous collaborations, from “Get It Done” to “Cash Still Rules” and everything in between.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Funkee Phlavaz: "Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6" (1993)

Referring back to old posts, many of you should know that Alchemist & Scott Caan were once in a group called the Whooliganz. The tracks and project they've released has been discussed - hit the tags - but that's not where the story ends, not by a long shot! Thanks to the undefeated internet, Passion Of The Weiss has unearthed & premiered the first two (I added more) episodes of Funkee Phlavaz, undoubtedly the greatest show that most people never saw. There were allegedly 17 episodes back in 1993 or so, which ran on a station that handled programming from the students of Beverly Hills High School. PW goes on to say that Alchemist hosted the first few episodes, but eventually "Funkee Phlavaz" recruited guest hosts that included Guru, the Pharcyde, Masta Ace, KRS-One" & more. The program was produced by Adam Weissman, who is now an incredible art director at Stussy. You'll hear a diverse range of Hip-Hop & Dancehall on the episodes (you should be watching by now). Props all around, this is a baggy-clothed time capsule for an era not-so-forgotten, but a reminder we did weird shit, too... the soundtrack to our bad decisions was just better. It's ironic to see Alchemist introduce a young group by the name of Mobb Deep, when we now know what an integral he's played in their sound, and vice versa! Check that, King Tee, Trends of Culture, The Pharcyde and lots more below, will update as I can. I miss The Box & Yo! MTV Raps.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joe Sinistr "Under The Sun" (The Source, 5/94)

"The funk returns to New York with the second track off the Terminator X compilation. Most will recall Joe Sinistr from the lyrical contributions he made on Erick Sermon's solo project. After putting "Pepsi on diets" and "devouring worlds like Galactus," Joe's mad verbal deconstructions got him off to a good start in the underground. And as "Under The Sun" proves, Joe has a lot in store for the future. Joe comes from the East Coast branch of the funk school. Which means that his tracks are gritty enough to play in the car, but not so overwhelming that they drown out his rhymes. The beat for "Under The Sun" - which is best described as one-half P-Funk and one-half "Star Trek The Next Generation" - sets the stage for Joe's "anything goes" lyrical expedition. Like Redman, his most obvious influence, when he turns on the mic he doesn't stop rhyming until the track is done. What does he rhyme about? To be honest, it's kind of hard to figure out. He hides his messages beneath layers of Kool Keith-like cryptic codes, lyrical dead ends and patchwork ideas. His rhyme scheme resembles what you would hear if you were to randomly go down your radio dial at three second intervals and record the results ... The emphasis here is not on what Joe actually says, it's on how he says it. And as long as the beats connect and his flow is on time, no one is going to be mad." - The Source (5/94) Peep the video for "Under The Sun" below. (Updated: new video link).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan "Enter The Wu-Tang" (Hip-Hop Connection, 5/94)

"Get ready to step into the shadowy world of the slums of Shaolin, and be schooled at swordpoint in the mysteries of ancient martial arts by RZA, the GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, the Method Man, Ghost Face Killer, U-God, Rebel INS and Shallah Raekwon - the Wu-Tang Clan have arrived. Taking up a terrifying stance somewhere around Schooly D or "Criminal Minded" era BDP, Wu-Tang aren't afraid to put the scariness back into hip-hop. With a producer who knows how to make piano samples sound funky, funky fresh and seven rappers with enough styles to satisfy the most demanding of listeners, "Enter The Wu-Tang" is an album that cannot fail to become of hip-hop's all-time classics."

"Shame On A N!gga" is a brilliant piece of music, moving across the rhythm with feet made of piano keys. "CREAM" butchers some soul loops till they can't bear but to run screaming from their captors. "Da Mystery of Chess-boxin" will explain something of Wu-Tang's take on old school kung-fu flicks, and "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber Part II" has a snare drum that snaps the top off your head even at the lowest volume. The emcees have more to say than we can get into here, but present their lyrics in some of the freshest, dopest ways you've ever heard. It may take a couple of plays to settle in, but soon even the hardest hip-hop heads will realize this is one of the best albums ever made ... It's the sound of hip-hop returning to the golden age." - Hip Hop Connection, 5/94.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rhettmatic "The Wedding Mixer" (Mixtape)

"Back in 2002, Key-Kool of the Visionaries asked me on behalf of his brother, if I was available to DJ his brother's wedding reception...the only thing is, the wedding was to be held in Hawaii. At that time, I couldn't make it out because I had something already scheduled, and at the same time, Key's brother & his soon-to-be-wife couldn't afford to get a DJ at the last minute. So to help out Key's brother and to serve as a wedding gift as well, I made a mixtape specifically for Key's brother & future wife to play at their wedding reception. The mixtape was filled with all the classic 70's & 80's joints that can get a party going & music that basically Key's brother grew up listening to. I used the original vinyl for this mix & recorded it on old 4-track cassette recorder before I got Pro-Tools & before Serato was actually released." Some of the history of the infamous "Wedding Mixer."

Monday, May 12, 2014

XXL Freshmen: "A Statistical Analysis" (2008-2014)

The Village Voice & journalist Phillip Mylnar took the initiative and did a statistical analysis of all the freshman classes from 2014 dating back to 2008. Below is a sample of what he found and as a statistician myself away from music, it gave me a legit smile because while numbers certainly can lie, in this case they provide some great content! Let's take a closer look below, shall we? Hit the link above for more & the opinions added below are mine and only mine; just sharing my thoughts.

  • Chances of actually releasing an album during the same year: 25.8% ... most artists who appear on the cover fail to capitalize on the buzz by releasing a studio album the same year! With the way the industry is shifting, I think we're gonna see more releases than ever in the coming years, so that might change, but whether it'll be studio albums or not, I'm not sure. As the A&Rs become more obsolete, labels are only signing acts that have generated their own buzz and built their own fanbases, shouldn't they know (and want) to drop music when they have the spotlight?!
  • Chances you'll become a bonafide superstar: 12.2% ... Lupe Fiasco & J. Cole received co-signs from Kanye & Hov, Wiz Khalifa got with the amazing Amber Rose, and Macklemore hit big with the crossover "Thrift Shop." Those are solid exceptions, but that's about it ... so much to say, break-out stars like Drake, A$AP Rocky & Nicki Minaj turned down freshman cover opportunities as they didn't want to be grouped in with possibly failing talent. Hmm, interesting point. That trend will continue, for sure.
  • Chances you're a mature student: 25.7% ... over a quarter of all picks are 30 years old by the time of their cover spot. I think we'll see that changing A LOT in years to come, unless freshman continues to mean artists that have already been out for YEARS. Otherwise, yeah, more Lils in coming years, I'd put my $ down on that one.
  • Chances you're a proud New York representer: 16.2% ... New York used to be the home of Hip-Hop, but now it's spread throughout the country. After 2008, NY rhymers have been in the minority when it comes to grabbing cover spots. I honestly can't say if that'll change, because NY radio has been off for years. If we don't support our own, it can't possibly click nationally. This is the one I'm most eager to see, because these things move in cycles, eventually the sound will have to come back to New York.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Awon & Dephlow "Dephacation" (Album Stream)

Awon & Dephlow - both reppin' out of VA - hit us upside the head with an LP almost entirely produced by Phoniks. The 11-track LP, "Dephacation," has only one feature and that's Awon's wife and fellow Don't Sleep Records MC, Tiff The Gift. The quality of this projects begs for the MCs to step back in the studio for another dose of real hip-hop. I suspect it'll be on its way sooner than later. Once again, tight on the quality of music, visuals and the packaging of their merch ... it's a no-brainer. I'm having deja vu all over again ... stream it below and enjoy! Peace to Don't Sleep Records.

Friday, May 09, 2014

A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Marauders" (Press Kit, 1/94)

"With "Midnight Marauders," the abstract rapper Q-Tip, the five foot assassin Phife Dog and the sound provider Ali Shaheed Muhammad are extending the boundaries of now-school hip-hop. "We decided to call the album "Midnight Marauders" because A Tribe Called Quest are like sound thieves looting for your ears," says Ali ... Like a chic after-hours club floating through the dreams of the hip-hop nation, "Midnight Marauders" is a celebration of night hawk aesthetics: going to the local bodega to get a hero, zooming to Carvel's to gulp a milkshake, chilling with your woman in the crib, hangin' with your crew as they "push through the park although it's dark," strutting down the avenue like a deadly combination of Superfly and Shaft, and bragging to your peoples on the boulevard ... "On Midnight Marauders we consciously decided to experiment with different styles," explains Ali on their self-produced project. "We wanted to be more street, more freestyle. Neither Tip, Phife nor myself had the desire to repeat ourselves by making The Low End Theory part two." 

"Hip-Hop music is our lives. We live it every day and we always want to speak to and for hip-hop kids like ourselves. We can all do outside stuff, but when it comes to the music, we give it our all," explains Q-Tip, who like the other group members is 23 years-old. Perhaps it is this clarity of purpose that propelled "Midnight Marauders" to debut at #1 and #8 respectively on Billboard's R&B and Pop Album charts. This album showcases these proclaimed "neo-n!ggas of the nineties" attacking the grooves with savage wit, metaphorical cultural criticism and irresistibly funky textures. Although some fans have tried to slot Phife as an accessory to Q-Tip's vision and Ali's radiohead symphonies, he has come into own, howling with the big dogs. With the new-jack blues of "8 Million Stories" Phife transports the listener to the aural minefield of the ghetto and the five foot assassin delivers a hip-hop tour da force over melancholy beats and mournful lyrics."

"Sounding like the theme music to a Black science fiction film, the track "Electric Relaxation" is an intoxicating love song that combines futuristic beats with street corner poetics. With "Midnight Marauders," A Tribe Called Quest has swung open the doors to their private Black Metropolis filled with quirky wordplay, vivid images and brilliant musicianship. It's laid back, yet insistent grooves will leave listeners looting for this album for years to come." - Press Kit, January 1994

A Tribe Called Quest - OG Press Bio/Kit - January 1994.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Nightbreed "2 Roads Out The Ghetto" 12" (1998)

This is a phenomenal record from 1998 right here: Nightbreed's "2 Roads Out The Ghetto" 12". All three tracks on this 12" were produced by the founder of Fortress Entertainment and the producer for the Natural Elements crew, Charlemagne. Nightbreed was Brooklyn's KA (The Verbal Swordsman) and Oddbrawl (The Lyrical Juggernaut). Charlemagne and his Fortress Entertainment put out some of the best, most lyrical releases from NY's underground scene in the late 90s. A quick look on Discogs will tell you that this Nightbreed record is one of the more expensive records in the Fortress catalog. With the hard-hitting "2 Roads Out The Ghetto," the piano-driven "Long Time Coming" and the dusty "Ruckus," it's a surprise that they weren't able to secure a deal at the time. KA has said it wasn't without attempts, it just didn't work out for Nightbreed. To his credit, while things didn't go as planned in the 90s, KA has seen much success in the last decade, starting with a feature on GZA's "Pro Tools" LP in '08. He went on to release his debut album "Iron Works," and has since released some of the best, most cerebral concept albums. He also popped up in the news when an article was written about his 9-5 & drew even more attention to his art. Unfortunately, not much has been heard of Oddbrawl since (that I'm aware of), although he was obviously very talented. In the end, I'm glad that KA found a career, then when the itch hit him to create again, the stars aligned and he found some long-awaited success that many 90s artists never found. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan - Press Kit (Protect Ya Neck .... Kid!)

Wu-Tang Clan Original Press Kit Loud BMG
Wu-Tang Clan Original Press Kit Loud BMG Page 2

Wu-Tang Clan, Protect Ya Neck ... Kid! Going back to late '92, the Wu-Tang released 'Protect Ya Neck' on their own label before signing to Loud Records. An official pressing would follow on this day in '93 as the lead single to their debut album, 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).' The press kit above was sent out by BMG a while after 'Protect Ya Neck' had dropped and by this time, they were actually pushing 'Can It All Be So Simple' to radio, but let's focus on 'Protect Ya Neck,' where it says: ‘The sizzling, hardcore single, “Protect Ya Neck,” first released on the Clan’s own Wu-Tang label, is already blazing a trail through clubs, college radio, and New York’s subterranean hip-hop scene. LA-based (bi-coastal) Loud Records picked up on these underground vibes, and immediately signed the group … Punks, perpetrators, and impostors better duck the death blow because Wu-Tang is no joke. Backed by bone-breaking beats and eerie horror movie sounds, this family of lyrical masters — featuring The Rebel INS, Shallah Raekwon, Method Man, U God, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Ghost Face Killer, Prince Rakeem, and The Genius — filling piles of styles and more flavors than Life Savers. “Protect Ya Neck” is what hardcore hip-hop is all about.’ Readers of my past sites remember me posting the full press-kit years ago so this may not be new to ya, but I can still remember buying the 12" on Fresh Pond Road in Queens; the white sleeve with the Wu logo stood out at the display and my only regret at the time was not coppin' doubles, although I eventually did. While the exact date of its release may be in question, today is just as good as any to celebrate a classic single from a classic album in a classic catalog. Oh, and ‘The clan does not want to be confused for Kung-Fu clowns. ‘We are not on no flips and kicks bullshit,’ says Rakeem. ‘If anything, we flip flows with lyrics that kick ass.’ They also stress that it isn’t safe for wack rappers to even touch the mic anymore.’

Wu-Tang Clan Protect Ya Neck 12" Vinyl

Peep the official video for 'Protect Ya Neck' below...