Monday, June 30, 2014

Astronote "Astroblacked" (Album Stream)

French producer Astronote is back at it with his latest production album, "Astroblacked." We been cool for some years now, wish I'd been posting here longer, a lot of his back catalog I'd posted about on older sites that are long gone, along with all those dead zShare links, lol. If you didn't catch it - after this - go back and listen to "The Raw Tape." Donwill's "Laura's Song" is also one of my favorite tracks and visuals; the video making use of Fat Beats, NY to re-enact "High Fidelity." Back to Astroblacked, the album is 21 tracks and features Blu, Illa J, Stacy Epps, Rasheeda Ali, and more. It's soulful, but progressive in it's styling & hard-hitting at the same time. One of these days I'll post one of his compilation mixes, which will catch you up on his back catalog and help you see his progression as a producer. Stream the album below and props to DJ Graffiti.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Alchemist "1st Infantry, 10th Anniversary" (Alchemix)

"Today marks the 10th Anniversary of Alchemist's debut solo, 1st Infantry. To celebrate A-L-C's decade of dope, we put together ten years worth of Alc bangers, from 2004- 2014. For each year, we picked one of our favorite Alc joints (not easy to do) and put together our own, Alchemix." The mix is presented by EvBoogie at UpNorthTrips & mixed by UnitedCrates. The tracklist includes joints from Nas & Prodigy, Remy Ma & Big Pun, Cam'ron, Snoop with Jada & Pusha T, Raekwon, Curren$y & Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, Schoolboy Q, and more. Listen to the mix below.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Roc Marciano "The Pimpire Strikes Back" (Mixtape Stream)

The release of Roc Marciano's "The Pimpire Strikes Back" pre-dates the start of this site, but I wanted to post it, because it's still fresh on my mind and ... Roc Marciano. It was put out by Man Bites Dog Records, and is still available for free download. The tape features Madlib, Evidence, Knowledge The Pirate, Action Bronson, Willie The Kid, Lord Finesse, Alchemist, Meyhem Lauren, Arch Druids, Cormega, and more. The Lord Finesse produced "Bruh Man" is still one of my favorite tracks off this project. You can hear "Bruh Man" & the full project at the stream below + download it using the 'name your price' option on Bandcamp. Click the tags for lots more content.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Buckshot & P-Money "Backpack Travels" (Album Stream)

The new album from Buckshot, "Backpack Travels," is produced entirely by New Zealand boombap beatsmith, P-Money. I first heard P-Money last year with his "Gratitude" LP. That project featured M.O.P, Skyzoo & Havoc, Roc Marciano, Freddie Gibbs & Fashawn, and lots more, including a track with Buckshot, which likely sparked their interest in working together on this new album. The 10-track release boasts features from Joey Bada$$, Steele of Smif-N-Wessun, Chelsea Reject & more. It's got a nice sound to it that caters to our niche audience and should fit well in Buck's extensive catalog with Duck Down. I'm about to dig into it, then go back and peep "Gratitude" from last year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2Pac's Letter To Chuck D (September, 1995)

Chuck D has shared a letter that Tupac Shakur wrote to him detailing the respect he had for the Public Enemy emcee. Shakur begins the letter, written in September 1995, noting how highly he regarded the Public Enemy mouthpiece and how much Chuck’s letter of support meant to him. “Back in the dayz, on tour with u, I learned so much from what u did and how u did it,” Shakur wrote. “It may be hard 2 C but u have alwayz played a major role in what it is I do 2day.” At the time he wrote the letter, Shakur was serving time in a New York prison... He mentioned making bail, pending appeal, for his sentence and said he hoped to be free by the time Chuck was reading the letter. “I just got signed 2 Death Row, so I should be working on this album soon,” he wrote. “And 2 push my luck even more, I would be honored if u would appear on this track 4 my next album, Euthanasia,” he wrote. “The track is called ‘Da Struggle Continuez.’ It will also feature Sista Souljah, if God will. So let me know.” In closing, 2Pac says, “Thanks again, Chuck! I believe we can make a difference, and I have every intention of doing just that. Stay strong!” 2Pac changed the title of his fifth album from Euthanasia to All Eyez on Me, though neither Chuck D nor Sister Soujah appeared on the album. That same year, he released the Makaveli album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory, which he finished days before his death. It is unclear whether “Da Struggle Continuez” was ever recorded. Shakur was released from jail less than a month after writing the letter and was murdered just short of a year after writing it. - Rolling Stone (June 23, 2014). Original business card below.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Troubleneck Brothers "Troubleneck Wreck" 12" (1993)

The Troubleneck Brothers were a 7-man posse from Harlem & Uptown consisting of: Soundwave, Prophet, Blunt, Stepchild, Moetown, Natural One, and Shaft. Their debut album was an unreleased project called "Fuck All Y'All" on Bill Stephney's StepSun Entertainment. Returning a year later in '93, they released a remixed version of "Troubleneck Brothers" that caught more attention as the climate of music had shifted to a more aggressive sound. There were obvious comparisons to Onyx and Wu-Tang, the latter mostly due the number of members in the crew.  In 1994, they released an EP entitled "Release Me" and a more popular track in "Back To The Hip-Hop." With disagreements and legal issues mounting with StepSun, they changed names to 36Zero and released their "Maintain" EP. None of the releases stuck like "Troubleneck Brothers" and "Back To The Hip-Hop," and the group went separate ways in '95. Blunt (Steven Samuel) went on to create the popular hip-hop news site SOHH with his wife. In 2010, their debut release "Fuck All Y'All" was released on vinyl and CD with 20 tracks, plus a bonus CD of alternate mixes, demo tracks and instrumentals. 

As a bonus, The Source's Sure Shot Single review, September, 1993...

Monday, June 23, 2014

50 Cent "How To Rob" (XXL + Video Interview)

Originally published in the May 2000 issue of XXL, the following interview was published when 50 Cent's controversial single "How to Rob" made noise throughout New York City. "When 50 Cent dropped "How To Rob," last year, he pissed off a lot of people. In the aftermath, several MCs made on-wax responses that were clearly not in 50's favor, to say the least. While he's been quite quiet of late, the Queens-bred troublemaker has returned with his long-awaited debut, Power Of The Dollar. Hoping to prove he's more than a one-hit wonder, one must wonder, does 50 regret any of the drama his song has caused? Don't bet on it." At the end of the short interview above, 50 says, "I'm a newborn, I'm still a baby to hip-hop so it (the attention) affects me, but when I break past this record, I'ma be bigger than the rest of this shit -- a bigger, better artist. I hold myself down to the fullest. You never want it to go there, but if it does, by any means, I'm gonna handle my business." Below, during an interview with a journalist in Germany, 50 Cent goes more in-depth on how his circumstances at the time inspired "How To Rob." Read above and watch below.

Monday, June 23, 2014

O.C. "Time's Up" (The Source, July 1994)

"While the name O.C. is unfamiliar to many, if you put your ear to the pavement, the rumble is evidence of a ticking time bomb set to blow. First off, to clear any misconceptions, O.C. is not the 3rd member of Organized Konfusion, but he rhymed on their '92 track "Fudge Pudge." Now it's O's turn to shine for self on his debut "Time's Up" - a much needed wake-up call for hip-hop's ignorant masses. Musically, producer Buckwild's "bare bones" beat is just that: no flab, no gristle. Just a bass line, some hi-hat & snare, and an ill Slick Rock hook from "Hey Young World." Buck (hip-hop's next star producer) aptly leaves the focus of this track on O's hardcore poetics." Listen below (Updated).

"When O.C. opens with, "You lack the minerals and vitamins / Irons and the niacins / Fuck who that I offend / Rappers sit back I'm 'bout to begin..." - you're immediately pulled into his sphere of influence. O manipulates words to create multi-layer meanings, reflective quotables, and an ominous aura of invincibility. Peep it: "What’s in the future for the fusion in the changer? / Rappers are In danger / Who will use wits to be a remainder? ... Instead of puttin' brain cells to work, they abuse it / Non-conceptual / Non-exceptional / Everybody's either crime-related or sexual ... / For those who pose lyrical / But really ain't true / I feel "Their time is limited, hardrocks too."" Until now, much of O.C.'s rep has been built on underground freestyle tapes that have been floating around like rumors. At long last there is an official intro to this lyrical scientist." - The Source, July 1994

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blind Mice "The Book Of BM" 12" (1997)

"Blind Mice brings it to you raw!!" Shadow (Super Hydraulic Advanced Doer Of Words) and Da Five Sixx were Blind Mice. The Brooklyn duo released this 12" in 1997 on MCI Entertainment Records. It was their second 12" - the first being "A New Beginning" in '96 - on MCI. The hype sticker on their debut 12" was that they were "Vibe Magazine's Notes From The Underground Champion in July 1996;" however the Vibe article pulled from their demo and was actually discussing the B-Side to their second 12"; the Shawn J Period-produced  "Paper Chasers." "With a pinch of rugged goodness and a twist of Native Tongue-style consciousness, Blind Mice drop clever lyrics while the hypnotizing beats from producer Shawn J. Period lull you into their zone." Vibe, June-July, 1996.

Shawn J. Period also produced a track on that first 12" called "How Many?," and while I'm not certain how Shawn J Period and Blind Mice connected, for certain he was doing his thing at the time so it was a good look. The 12" was also mixed by Duro, who was called "Super Engineer Duro," in the years to follow, because he engineered so many classic records in the mid to late 90s. Production on the A-Side, "The Book of BM" was handled by the duo's own 5'6. You can listen to the 12" below.

(I'm not sure if it's a glitch, but I'm noticing a few embeds show 0:00 on some of the tracks, yet they play normal? I uploaded these 12" files to Audiomack a while ago, so not sure what's up. If it's a common issue or you have problems with it, just let me know on DM or Email. Thanks - Sav)

Monday, June 16, 2014

UpNorthTrips Presents "Father MCs" (Mixed by UnitedCrates)

A nice Father's Day mix by UnitedCrates, featuring tracks from Slick Rick, Ed O.G., Big Krit, Copywrite, The Game, Royce Da 5'9, Juelz Santana, 2Pac, Nas, Jay-Z & more. Peace to the single fathers out there & all the fathers who raise their kids right and do the very best they can day in and day out. To the rest of them out there: just because you gave birth to a child does not make you a father, do better and be better. Much thanks to EvBoogie over at UpNorthTrips for doing this.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Source "The Best Hip-Hop Albums & Singles of 1994"

If you've been following, I do these kinds of challenges to humor myself: I look back on certain years and which albums & singles The Source chose as the "best" of the year and then try to declare which of them is MY favorite from the year. I go row for row, then declare a winner for the whole year that serves as my personal favorite. Row 1: "Doggstyle" might sonically be the best album in all of hip-hop history. I mean, Snoop & Dr. Dre really put a foot in "Doggystyle," in its entirety (music, mixing, visuals, concept, etc). Even with that, I have to go with "Ready To Die," because I don't revisit "Doggystyle" all that much but I do listen to "Ready To Die" at least twice a year, so it's a personal choice more than thinking it's actually "better." Row 2: between Wu and OutKast, I'm going with Wu-Tang and it's not that hard a decision ... it's just too classic to argue. Row 3: between Illmatic & Hard To Earn, I'm going with Illmatic, because "Hard To Earn" isn't the best album in Gang Starr's catalog, so I can't let it beat one of the greatest albums of all-time. Row 4: I'm going with Jeru's The Sun Rises In The East over Scarface's "The Diary," although Scarface is higher on my list as an overall MC; in fact, he's in my top 10. Row 5: Easily goes to A Tribe Called Quest on "Midnight Marauders." Classic! In the end, of all the albums, I am going with "Illmatic" by Nas, it's been my favorite hip-hop album since the 90s. You probably knew that already lol

As for the best single of 1994, I will cut to the chase and let y'all know, hands down it's Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M." What a classic cut! That it was even a single on an album with as many hard cuts, tells you how far ahead they were; they knew fans would rock with that cut. My only real hot-take on the record is that Inspectah Deck runs away with the best verse on the song, yet it was Raekwon who received "Hip-Hop Quotable" for "C.R.E.A.M." Inspectah Deck's verse is one of the best on the whole album, why did they do that to Inspectah Deck? Not to say Raekwon's verse wasn't dope, but c'mon ... am I buggin? F'real, let me know what you think about the track. If you didn't choose it for the best single, what did you choose? Thinking back on "Flava In Ya Ear," Craig Mack sparked everything over at Bad Boy, shame how Puff handled that moving forward.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Marauders" (The Source, 12/93)

"With their third album, Midnight Marauders, Quest do what they've always done - ignore all of the current trends in hip-hop and deliver a solid collectable. The one song that comes close to looking gangsta in print, "Sucka N!gga," is actually more about Tip's ambivalence over the word than bitchasses ... This non-blunt-smoking, gun-toting, bitch-beating trio rely solely on their street poetry, Zulu delivery and be-bop beats to get you up off your ass and into the record store. Phife, who won "most improved MC" a couple years back with "Butter," seems to rock it better when he shares the mic with Tip this time out then on his solo joint, "8 Million Stories," cont'd below...

"They get open with special guest Large Professor on "The Chase Part II," a freestyle jam that jacks Biz's classic "Nobody Beats The Biz." And the title track picks up where "Everything Is Fair" left off, describing ghetto nights in abstract detail instead of booming cliches ... And "Electric Relaxation," a fly love / sex song, and "Clap Your Hands" are two more reasons why Tip is one of the premiere poets of our generation. The only thing missing are the surprises, which leaves me to imagine how Quest would've sounded had MC Hood ("Scenario") lived to get down this time around (R.I.P.)..." Ultimately, "Midnight Marauders is exactly what we were hoping for." - The Source, 12/93.

You can check out the full review by Dream Hampton in The Source, below...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Boogiemonsters "Riders Of The Storm" (Press Kit & Videos)

"Boogiemonsters hold these truths to be self evident:
The only real love is One Love. 
Without full expression of the range of human emotion, there can be no understanding. 
Without understanding there can be no peace or wisdom. 
Without water, we can't exist. 
If we stay fluid, we will survive."

"Boogiemonsters keep things fluid, they keep things flowing like an undulating stream. Boogiemonsters come outta VA via NYC and JA. 
Boogiemonsters are four MCs: Mondo, Vex, Yodared and Myntric. 
Boogiemonsters are here to drop spirit, intelligence, grooves and knowledge that will take hip-hop to the next level. 

"Riders Of The Storm moves away from glocks and groins and steps into the light. "We want to concentrate on different things," offers Yodared. "That's one of the aspects of water and it's why we're so attracted to water. As an element, water's never confined, it can't be restricted and neither can we." Rider's Of The Storm's premier assault is "Recognized Thresholds Of Negative Stress," a wise and funky meditation on life in the modern age. "So in '94, yo it's all about the music, hear it come spiritually so you can use it." Check out the video to the lead single below...

"That refusal to be limited is vividly apparent on Riders Of The Storm. Armed with a style that can be dense as a swamp or clear as a babbling brook, Boogiemonsters can flow anywhere they choose. They're intense on "Mark Of The Beast," a slamming apocalyptic examination of the roots of evil and "Old Man Jacob's Well," a brooding slice of Goth-rap, that unravels the tale of a murder from the perspective of the killer and his intended child victim. They're passionate on the sexy shout out to their muse "Muzic Appreciation (Sweet Music)" or the thumpin' Old School jam "Bronx Bombers." My personal favorite, however, is "Honeydips in Gotham," check that one out below. - OG Press Kit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pete Rock & CL Smooth "Samples & Soulstrumentals" (Mix)

"In dropping arguably two of the best back-to-back albums in rap music history, Pete Rock & CL Smooth must undeniably be considered one of hip-hop's finest duos. The combination of Pete Rock's signature soulful production served-up from behind the boards and CL's conscious lyrics delivered from the booth, has enabled the tag-team from Mount Vernon to place itself as top-tier contributors to rap's legacy. With today marking the anniversary of Pete and CL's monumental debut album, Mecca and The Soul Brother, we figured it was only right to dedicate the latest edition of The Tens in their honor. In searching for the best way to pay our respects to MSB, it didn’t feel right simply whipping up a basic "Best Of" mix. Too generic. So, in true UNT fashion we flipped the script and took a more creative approach. It’s common knowledge that Pete Rock “made every single beat on that album” using the E-mu SP-1200... thus our decision to concentrate on MSB’s beat construction, which undoubtedly single-handedly changed the standards of hip-hop production. From the chopped samples of those famous horns, the heavy filtered bass lines, the signature hi-hats, there’s no question that Mecca & The Soul Brother was a game-changer...." Presented in 2012 by UpNorthTrips for it's 20th anniversary, dug up and (re)posted today.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

House Shoes "The King James Version" (Ch.1: Verses 1-4)

"This is a lovingly and expertly constructed journey through the building blocks of Dilla’s beats – the dusty OG vinyl grooves that he sampled. From the basis of a Frank-N-Dank cult favorite, through that of a Fantastic SV moment, to Donuts’ irresistible ingredients, Shoes’ thorough work shines the light on his friend’s ear for a sneaky loop, his affection for perfectly imperfect chops and his knack for extracting the soul from a forgotten musical fragment and making it something altogether new, something his own. Long Live King James" - Chairman Mao. (Released last year.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Jadakiss "The Champ Is Here" (Mixtape)

Jadakiss is one of the greatest and most revered lyricists in Hip-Hop, but he does not have a classic studio album. His albums have fallen in that gap between what fans want and expect, and what his label will accept and consider a success. Fans feel like he abandons what he's best at, but it's the price he pays for a major label deal vs. being independent. That's his choice but to his credit, he navigates it best he can, maintaining his top-tier spot through mixtapes, feature work and an occasional single that clicks (ie: "Why"). An example of this would be Jada's 2004 release: “The Champ Is Here.” It is arguably one of the greatest artist mixtapes ever to be released. From the best album cuts, freestyles and well-placed features, it packs everything you'd need and want from a mixtape. He may not have a classic album, but he has a classic mixtape and to that end, he feeds the streets, the corporations and his family all at the same time. For that, I salute him and think to myself, maybe his best effort is his next effort. It was released 10 years ago this month, listen and see if it's not as dope today as it was in 2004. Hosted by Green Lantern & Big Mike. (Updated link)

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Scarface "The Diary" (The Source, 1995)

"They say you should never read someone's diary because you might find something you didn't want to know. That's not the case with this audio journal of "the world according to Scarface." The Diary takes you on a lyrical day-to-day trip that goes from inflicting pain ("Jesse James") and avenging a homie's death ("No Tears"), to sexing a new ho on the block ("Goin' Down"). For the production, Scarface has taken a more relaxed approach and shows he's not afraid to experiment. Smooth basslines and mellow keyboards create a sound that, on many tracks, is less aggressive than his previous works. While there are enough rugged tracks to please his fans, this new production helps hold the LP together and will appeal to those who may have believed Face's talent was limited."

"Scarface is business as usual lyrically, but like the production, there are tracks that are not done in his usual mode of operandum. The first single, "I Seen a Man Die," is one of those. This common tale of brothers getting caught up in the game is brought to life as Face, in a tone that is more solemn than usual, successfully utilizes his version of a sing-songish flow. Remaining serious, he teams up with Ice Cube on "Hand Of The Dead Body" to fight back at the organizations that have been trying to silence "reality rap." The sequel, "My Minds Playin Tricks On Me '94," brings back the classic, story-telling Scarface, as he carries the song without the help of Bushwick and Willie D. Overall, The Diary is a diverse piece of work that will appeal to a wider range of listeners. Some tracks may be too experimental for Scarface's core audience, but they will be pleased with the majority of his work. Others will see that this Geto Boy has tapped into something new and has laid the foundation for an even brighter future." - The Source, 1995.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Skyzoo & Torae "Barrel Brothers" (Album Stream)

For years, fans of both Skyzoo and Torae alike have asked the two to collaborate on a full length LP, after the multiple singles they've released together over the years. Classics such as the DJ Premier produced "Get It Done" and "Click", the !llmind produced "Barrel Brothers" of of he and Sky's 2010 Live From The Tape Deck, the album has been called for by their following since 2006. The idea behind Barrel Brothers is what the people have asked and come to know the two wordsmiths for; pure lyricism. Skyzoo, known for his picturesque storytelling and jazz/ orchestrial background, and Torae, known for his gritty Coney Island depictions of life with a vintage but modern lyrical approach, have briefly put their normal forte's to the side and crafted this album with one game plan in mind; lyrical exercise over hard New York City soundscapes. The current resurgence of NYC hip hop is perfect grounds for two of its premier flag holders to continue doing what they never stopped doing in the first place; representing the city. "This album was a long time coming, but when the people wanted it 6 years ago neither Sky nor I had fully established ourselves as solo artists" says Torae. "Now that we've made our marks as individuals it's time to combine forces and really give the fans what they've been asking for. This LP is gonna be heat top to bottom, theres no denying the chemistry Sky & I have in the studio, we always bring out the best in each other." Sream "Barrel Brothers" below (link updated, 2018).

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Tribe Called Quest "Oh My God" (Review, 1993)

I awoke up this morning with the outro to "Oh My God" playing in my head, "The title MC means Master of Ceremony / Some people who MC don't know what this term means." I didn't tweet it. Instead, I opened my laptop and here we are! Opening up The Source in '93, it says: "The pressure is on for this creative crew to devise another catchy, deep, bumping track to satisfy the high expectations of their fans. "Now the formula is this - me, Tip and Ali" chants Phife after his partner punches in, locked into the groove. The beat on the track is exceptional, with a snare that punches your headphone and begs your head to nod. The musical elements of the tracks are isolated, giving the cut a sparse feel. Q-Tip kicks it all off with some abstract rhymes, flipping chants and noises into the flow. He affirms that "Queens is the country / Jamaica is the place" and passes the mic to Phife, who breaks off some revealing, funny rhymes with his gritty voice." Watch and listen below.

This is the track that introduces Phife as the "funky diabetic;" as the Source says, "touching on his personal struggles with the disease." We've reached a different stage in our lives; at the time my ears were first introduced to Tribe, I was kid - sh!t, they were kids, too, right?! Time hasn't evaded any of us, we've all grown and life's trials and tribulations show in all our eyes. At once these artists were super-heroes to me, and if being an artist myself hasn't ruined the allure, seeing the lives of too many cut short has cast a shadow of doubt on a lot of things. I guess what I'm saying is, prayers up for Phife, and I'm not giving up hope for new Tribe music! Until then, keep on keepin' on.