Tuesday, September 30, 2014

90s Cipher: 50 Cent, Consequence, Punch & Noreaga (Video)

To the best of my (fading) memory, Kurt Nice & Shades of Hip-Hop are responsible for this really dope behind the scenes look from '97-98. At the time, Noreaga was recording his classic solo debut album, "N.O.R.E." Captured is this now-infamous freestyle cipher is a young 50 Cent, Consequence, Punchline, and Noreaga. I'd seen it years back, but even now watching it again, my first thought is: it's dope to see this flashback of 50 Cent rhyming - before he got shot - and catch his youthful energy, which is matched only by the off-the-wall style and personality of Lefrak City's Noreaga. That said, if you ask me, it's Punchline that caught a body ... As 1/2 of "Punch & Words" with Wordsworth, Punch was no stranger to the ciphers and Lyricist Lounge days of Hip-Hop; he was sharpening his skills with one of the best lyricists in NYC's underground scene. Reposted by Nore's peoples 57th Ave back in 2010 or so, props to them for the link and sharing a time in Hip-Hop when MCs were vocally supportive of one another and weren't afraid to jump in a cipher (cameras or no cameras) and do their thing. If only we had camera phones and social media in the 90s, lol...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Andre 3000 x NPR "Microphone Check"

Andre 3000 - André Benjamin, sometimes Three Stacks and always one half of the mighty OutKast - sat down with Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley before a screening of the just-released Jimi Hendrix biopic in which he stars. He spoke about his current work with the Queen of Soul, how and why OutKast and the Dungeon Family 20 years ago put the city of Atlanta on their backs and what young musicians now can learn from his group's early days.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Deuces Wild: "A Bronx Tale" (Anniversary Mix)

"1993 was a keynote year for the "hip-hop movie." The term, although never officially coined, became a popular when movies such as CB4 and Who's The Man hit the big screen, A Bronx Tale was definitely not one of them. For starters, the movie took place in the the segregated sixties - two decades before hip-hop even took its first breath. There isn't a h movie's score and soundtrack contained no rap music, and remember, this is an era way before the term rapper-turnt-actor became popular. 20 (21) years later its easy to see how hip-hop has adopted A Bronx Tale into the culture. There enough lyric references to go around - vocal samples have been lifted from movies, and a handful of "A Bronx Tale" song/mixtape titles. In the past we've celebrated the important anniversaries of album releases, producer's birthdays, and even movie releases. So without further ado, enjoy this latest mix" - UpNorthTrips (Originally released in 2013), listen below.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ivan Ave & MNDSGN "Low Jams" (Album Stream)

Ivan Ave gets with MNDSGN for his latest release of "Low Jams." MNDSGN's beats are soulful, jazzy and introspective, being the perfect backdrop for Ivan Ave's Blu-like flow. Ivan Ave's lyrics are reflective, yet delivered with precision, and reminiscent of hip-hop's Golden Era. Try to get your hands on a vinyl release, the warmth of the vinyl will be perfect! Dig in below. (Updated, 2018)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Future Joyner "Listen To Me" (Mixtape)

Future Joyner, who later changed his name to Joyner Lucas, released this mixtape back in 2011. I'd been watching his moves from afar since the Film Skool Rejekts released their mixtape, "The Workprint." Production on the mix is handled by The Audible Doctor, Apollo Brown, Cyrus The Great, Frank Dukes, DJ Prince, and others ... I like hearing him on soulful production & boombap, because his flow is so lyrical. However, I do see that his aim is higher than the underground; he clearly feels his pen is on par with the greats & the major labels and CEOs should be paying attention. I'm not mad at him, success comes on its own time though, young brother. He continues to take steps forward & it's dope to see that the FSR mixtape was released as a cassette for this year's cassette store day. I hope people go back and dig into that one, I'll post about it one day soon too. Continue to keep an eye out, he's got the raw talent, it'll eventually all click.

Monday, September 22, 2014

GZA "Liquid Swords" (The Source, 12/95)

"Really now, what the hell else can one say about the Wu? We've run out of aggrandizements and wonderful metaphoric wordplay to describe the Shaolin massive. How often can they be called dope, def, ill, nice, unparalleled, exceptional, revolutionary, etc? Nevertheless, one statement can still be made witout plunging headlong into cliche: 1995 will go down as the signature year for the Clan. Let these numbers put things in perspective: 1 year, 4 solo albums from a nine man crew, over 2 million units moved. Now Liquid Swords, the long-awaited release from Genius, puts the cap on a period that will certainly be remembered as a definitive hip-hop moment... The GZA may just be the Clan's most accomplish verbalist. His verse on "Protect Ya Neck," the Clan's debut single, was touted as one of the best that year. Genius' rhyme steelo deosn't resemble the husky sing-song of Method Man, the craved unpredictability of Ol' Dirty, or the aggressive fast-faced delivery of Raekwon and Ghost Face. Rather, GZA comes across like a highly focussed master-craftsman. Throughout Liquid Swords he maintains a clear, precise flow, one that reflects deadly-sharp purpose and skilled execution."

"RZA's production continues to excite the spine. That's an astonishing fact when one considers the volume of work he's put out this year. Liquid Swords contains all the elements of RZA's increasingly sophisticated style: shuffling kicks, neck-snapping snares, haunting melodies via strings or vibe-like textures and penetrating bass tones. RZA's ability to mold a specific feel around each of the Wu, while maintaining an overall consistency, is uncanny... If the Wu message hasn't been beamed into your brain, rest assured: the GZA will offer swift remedy and swifter understanding. Folks may as well hand the key over, Liquid Swords has officially put shit on lock." - The Source, 12/95.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Audimatic "The Manual" (EP Stream)

This is last years free release of "The Manual EP" from Audimatic: The Audible Doctor on the mic & Maticulous on the beats. As Fat Beats alumni, the connection between AMD & Maticulous goes back several years and the chemistry is felt on the project. Coming in at just 6 tracks, it's a short EP with no features, but plenty of soul. They shine best on the tracks "Closer" and "New Shit" but definitely download the full EP and dig into it today. A year later, I'm still waiting on some new music from the duo, let's hope it comes through sooner than later.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Craig Mack "Project Funk Da World" (Review, The Source 1994)

The debut album from Craig Mack, "Project Funk Da World" was also the first album distributed through Puff's Bad Boy Entertainment. Puff and Craig Mack were both 23 at the time of its release, which is kinda crazy when I think back on it. "Flava In Ya Ear" was the smash hit single to promote the album, as well as the remix with an all-star line-up including The Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, Rampage, and LL Cool J. Easy Mo Bee produced that as well as the second single "Get Down," until they dropped the remix featuring Q-Tip, another solid banger. The Source gave the album 4 mics, which may have been generous at the time, despite some strong singles. Ben Smith wrote, "This summer, as if from nowhere, Craig Mack jumped into the over-saturated rap market and blew all fake, no skillz rappers out of the picture. His street anthem, the irresistible, hypnotic "Flava In Ya Ear" single had wack MC's on their knees, "burning, begging please," under Craig's devastating, off-beat attack. On Funk Da World, he resumes where the single left off, providing eleven tracks of East Coast's most rugged, raw, truly hardcore urban-contemporary-jeep-music." Cont'd below...

"While being touted as the next big thing, older heads who heard MC E-Z & Troop's 1987 classic "Get Retarded" will know that this Brentwood, Lond Island native is no new jack ... The Mack has seen hip-hop culture descend from the sublime days of '87 to the current state of ridiculousness, and now "Judgment Day" is here for all wack MC's who aren't "Real Raw." Throughout the album, he displays well-perfected mic skills, delivering them with a precision and discipline that's hard to beat ... Funk Da World's production - simple, hard beats and samples in the Hit Squad mold (principally by Easy Mo Bee and Craig) - complement Mack's serpentine flows ... we're given a refreshing, back-to-basics, solid collection that's more than enough for Craig Mack to funk da world." (1994)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Strippoker "Reign Supreme / QB To CO" 12" (1999)

Here's a solid record from '99; Strippoker's "Reign Supreme" with a dope B-Side, "QB to CO" & "The Black James Bond." The A-Side features Craig G, DV Shines & Mista Sinista. I don't know much about Strippoker or the producer Art Well Smart, but I've always enjoyed "QB To CO," it's got a rugged beat and sounds like that late 90s underground sound. It's not especially rare or hard to find, but something a lil' different to post up for the vinyl heads that visit the site. Got more info? Listen.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rubberoom "Street Theme" 12" (1997)

We discussed Rubberoom here to cover some background information on the group, as well as their "Architechnology" album in 1999. I've been meaning to further discuss "Gothic Architecture" from '95 in more detail, but let's first take a trip back to 1997 for this solid 12" release of "Street Theme" and "White Hot Razors." Like "Architechnology," this was released on Indus Recordings, however neither track from the 12" appears on the album. The Chicago crew's signature sound is easily felt; hard drums, deep distorted bass, dope cuts and plenty of vocal strength on the tracks. Noticeably, S.P.O. is not featured, nor is Wititude AKA Fill Spector, and it'd later be announced that they'd gone separate ways from the group. It's also worth noting that "Bird Cage Management" was actually J. Bird, now known from Rhymesayers Entertainment. Explained in more detail by Kevin Beacham of RSE, "Around the same time of the “Street Theme” single, I had come across the Rhymesayers sound in the Twin Cities. That discovery would eventually lead to me connecting them with J-Bird in an effort to build opportunities for both crews by swapping shows in their respective cities of Chicago and Minneapolis. The next logical step was a national tour with Atmosphere and Rubberoom, tour Managed by J-Bird. It was on the tour that Rubberoom finally decided to disband and ended chapter one in their legacy. Meanwhile, Atmosphere still needed a manager and secured J-Bird for the position and only a few years later they would bring me on to the Rhymesayers team as well, but that my friends in a whole other story…" Well said, KB. Now, let's get into this "Street Theme" 12" below, and we'll dig back into some promo from "Gothic Architecture" shortly.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hus Kingpin x Rozewood "100$ Taper" (Album Stream/Download)

Hus Kingpin & Rozewood drop off a solid project with 100$ Taper, originally released for sale, now free via Digi Crates to generate some extra buzz for the artists and the project. When know-nothing fans say that they want to hear MCs "bring New York back," I am convinced they aren't keeping their ear to the streets. The underground has consistently carried New York on its back. You can hear it in the textures of the music and the voices of the MCs, not to mention the visuals shot in support of the projects. That said, dig into this project below & tell a friend to tell a friend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

R.I.P Praverb The Wyse

On September 17, 2014, the hip-hop community lost one of its most enthusiastic, devoted soldiers, Earl Patrick McNease. Known to all of us as Praverb, he was a rapper, DIY marketing expert, blogger, but more importantly, a sincere human being whose mission seemed to involve helping everyone who came across his path.
Praverb was a great person and a selfless supporter of me, my artists, and the entire music industry. It’s easy to see upon reflection, Praverb was what it looked like to not yet be abused by time and the darker side of this industry. His love of music was pure and that made him an amazing reflection of why so many of us got involved in music in the first place. Please consider contributing to the GoFundMe page that was set up to honor his memory and help his family during this very difficult time. Rest In Peace, Earl Patrick McNease aka Praverb The Wyse. Forever and a day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Beatnuts "Do You Believe" (Review, 1997)

If you ask me for my favorite cut from the illustrious career of The Beatnuts - without a pause - I'm gonna say "Do You Believe." It was released as the second single to their sophomore album, "Stone Crazy," in 1997. The Queens duo of Psycho Les & JuJu were also joined by Al' Tariq in their early days, as well as V.I.C. as part of their production team, but without diving into their back story, I do want to focus in on "Do You Believe," which was covered in The Source as a single: "Those intoxicated demos from the Q-borough are back with what devoted fans expected - some tight shit. This time around there's no jingles and one less member. Following last year's promo-only, undeniably bangin' release "Find That," "Do You Believe" continues to prove that the Ju-Ju and Psycho Les are still diggin' in them crates like bums on a McDonad's trash can." Watch the video below.

"Violent melody? Maybe, depending on how you react to the beautiful strings and sinking bassline. Thought the beat is somewhat less aggressive than most people would expect, that still doesn't stop Ju-Ju and Psycho Les from hittin' you in the head with pipelines like, "Do you believe in God? You do? Tell'em to save you, 'cause me and these n!ggas here we win't tryin to pay you / Regardless of the fact that it's close to home / I gotta finish your life so I can start my own." If "Find That" was the "pay me my money" song, then "Do You Believe" is the "we ain't paying you shit" song. Feeling brave? Just remember, they'll shoot your moms if they have to." (The Source 5/97). Updated.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nas Interview (Hip-Hop Connection, 1993)

At 19-years old, a young Nasty Nas spoke with Hip-Hop Connection, check it out: "Large Professor, that was my man before he made a record," Nas explains. "He was just out here in Queens, my man introduced me to him 'cause he knew I could rhyme. I was about to stop till I met him. He had some beats for me and shit back in '89. Me and him was working together trying to come out and then he got a record deal and since me and him was cool he just put me on that record ("Live At The BBQ") to give me some light." In the music biz, it's often said that it's who you know that gets your foot in the door, but in Nas' case this wasn't so. "It was difficult getting a deal," says Nas. "Like nobody wanted to hear what I was saying they wanted to hear them other records like "OPP," when that type of shit was big... record labels didn't really know what time it was. I thought that was strong enough to get me a deal but it wasn't." He admits that "Back To The Grill" wasn't exactly his flavor at the time, "I didn't really wanna do it, but that's what got me my real light y'know." Moving on to "Halftime," Nas says "It means like intermission, when I be hearing a lot of bullshit or when the breaks come, that was like half time of the song" and that numbers and accolades didn't much to him, "I'm only concerned with the street vibe..." To close out the interview, Nas proclaims "I want to be President Of The United States." - HHC, 1993... I wonder if he still feels that way today?!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tupac Amaru Shakur aka 2Pac 1971-1996 (R.I.P.)

Rest In Eternal Peace, Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996)
Where were YOU when Tupac died?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Ice-T Episode"

From Combat Jack: "Ice T's been around for a while (understatement of the year) and came through to share his journey from the death of his parents in New Jersey to encountering gang culture in Los Angeles. From drugs to robberies to rapping to a record deal. A step by step of how the Body Count song "Cop Killer" changed his whole life, and how he and Coco (she's here too) managed to keep their marriage alive. There's a whole lot here. Ice T, uncensored." Listen to the episode below.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lords of the Underground 'Here Come The Lords' (1993)

‘I can’t forget New Jersey’ … Lords of the Underground (DoItAll, DJ Lord Jazz & Mr Funke) released their debut album, ‘Here Come The Lords,’ in 1993 via Pendulum/Elektra Records. I remember before the album dropped, they had singles getting rotation on late night radio and I was up with my finger on record trying to catch them. ‘Funky Child,’ ‘Psycho’ and ‘Check It’ were out long before the album dropped and they hadn’t even tapped the hit single ‘Chief Rocka,’ or ‘Here Come The Lords’ and ‘Tic Toc’ yet. I’m not taking any credit away from Marley Marl, but producers like K-Def and J-Force (on other projects) were doing a lot of uncredited work behind the scenes, so I want to make sure to salute K-Def for his work on this project. I know he’s done a lot of great records with the Lords. Lords of the Underground will forever be mentioned among the greats out of New Jersey (Newark) and they certainly get that international love, which DoItAll addresses on his collab project with Bunty Beats called ‘Beats & Rhymes Vol.1.’ It should also be said that DoItAll is doing amazing work in his community and deserves a salute for that! In 2012, DJ Lord Jazz release a project of his own called ‘The Plain Dealer,’ which features the Lords of the Underground, Cella Dwellas, Sticky Fingaz, K-Def, Treach & lots more. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Audible Doctor "Brownies" (Instrumental Album)

The Audible Doctor paid tribute to James Brown (and Dilla in many ways) with this original beat tape back in '07 called "Brownies," sampling James Brown records for each track. As the buyer and manager at Fat Beats at the time time, it was sold almost exclusively through the shop and online store, but it quickly gained popularity as customers from Fat Beats came from all around the world to support independent hip-hop. With added notoriety as the BBAS continued to promote and pick up steam, the project eventually sold out and went out of print. A label overseas then picked it up for pressing on vinyl and the project had a new life. For the vinyl pressing, the project had a sticker on the front boasting a quote from DJ Premier that said "The Audible Doctor got some good ears...For one, to recognize James Brown is such a ILL RESPECT to give to our Godfather of SOUL...and Number Two, to flip his samples like that into some new shit ... like Milk D said, "WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?" and the co-sign from Premo will forever hold its weight in gold at home and abroad. Beyond that, we had Large Pro at Fat Beats for an in-store and he was handed a copy of "Brownies," he went on radio soon after with Peter Rosenberg and gave the project a shout-out. From that, Large Pro executive produced an instrumental album that AMD released called "Doctorin" in 2012. It's years later now, but I continue to listen to and support this instrumental album, thinking with absolute certainty that you will too. So, dig into it below...

Monday, September 01, 2014

9th Wonder "Bladey Mae" (Beat Tape)

9th Wonder's "Bladey Mae" beat tape was released in the Fall of 2013, but disappeared from the net soon after. In an attempt to revist the tape, let's look back at what 9th Wonder shared when it was  first released: "This past weekend, I met my grandma, Beulah Mae Jarrett Douthit’s family (my dad’s mother) for the first time. My grandma passed in 1965, so I’ve had no connection to her at all. I listened to the elders talk about her all day. One elder in particular, her oldest niece, who’s 78-years-old, told me that her nickname was ‘Bladey Mae’, because of the blades she carried around in the purse and pockets, to protect her children from a segregated South, one of them being my dad. I was looking for a name for a new beat tape, and that one just came out of nowhere." I've included a YouTube link (not mine) below to listen to the 45-min tape - if it gets taken down, let me know.