Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Revival Of The Underground EP (Volume 1, 1998)

This is the first of two EPs in a series called "Revival Of The Underground" in 1998 on Smack Entertainment. The NJ label reached out to four acts for this first installment: The Alamo, Red Eye, Ghetto Seals & Rhemslepe. The only act to repeat on Volume 2 is The Alamo, who actually delivered a better track with "Never Judge A Book" on the 2nd EP, but "X Marks The Spot" here is pretty solid too. You might also dig "Do What Ya Wanna Do" from Rhemslepe - otherwise I'll be honest, this highly sought-after (and expensive) piece of vinyl isn't all that impressive. If for nothing else, I wanna let you hear it for yourself, because it wouldn't be the first time scarcity made someone overspend on something then be disappointed later. That said, check it out below.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Roots Freestyle (On The Go! Magazine Video)

The original, uncut footage of Black Thought & The Roots' on camera freestyle. The video is taken from the 1995 recording of the On The Go Repeat Offender Graffiti Video. It was produced by Stephen "Espo" Powers and Ray Hayes, who also films the video. Peace to MEEZ, and love to Philly. On The Go began in '89 as a newsletter created by ESPO, who partnered with Ari Saal Forman & turned it into an official publication developing a worldwide, cult-like fanbase for niche content with a cross between Hip-Hop, urban lifestyle and graffiti. Peep the freestyle below.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Snoop Dogg "Doggystyle: The Samples" (Mix)

Last year, DJ Snoopadelic created an exclusive mix for the 20th Anniversary of "Doggystyle." We're now in the 21st year, but again, I wasn't able to post this last year, so let's look back at it: November 23rd marks the 20th Anniversary of Snoop Dogg’s highly-acclaimed "Doggystyle," in which his lyrical realism and distinctive vocal flow forever changed hip-hop and helped define the genre into what it is today. In honor of this date, Snoop has created an enticing mixtape of the samples used on "Doggystyle." Never done before, Snoop offers exclusive commentary about each song and the behind-the-scenes stories that went on during the making of the historic record. The mix offers fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hear first-hand, the creative process behind the record.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Animosity "Get Touched" 12" (1997)

Back in 1997, Broken Records put out this 12" by Animosity called "Get Touched." It was only a 1-track single, but it had production from DJ Shok, who had an endless supply of underground gems, and also landed the hit single "Slippin" from DMX after signing a production deal with Ruff Ryders just a year after this 12" was released. It makes me wonder if any underground MCs passed on the beat to "Slippin" and have been kicking themselves ever since, lol. Nevertheless, him and Jaybiz worked on a lot of stuff together, so seeing them as executive producers on Animosity's "Get Touched" should be more than enough to support it. I can't say that the rhymes or flow are extraordinary, but the beat is as hard as you'd expect with plenty of kick to it. Even if you dig it for the instrumental, it's a 12" you can pick up for a few dollars at most. Listen below.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ghostface Killah "36 Seasons" (Album Sampler)

Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm a huge fan of the old cassette samplers and mix-CDs that came as promo ahead of albums, especially back in the 90s. You don't see it as much anymore, fans have a short attention span, which should work to its advantage, but I guess the feeling is once they hear the snippets, they may not go back and click for the album? I dunno. But, here Ghostface drops an album sampler for his new album, "36 Seasons," which is billed as the 'revenge concept album', you don't want to miss that in its entirety, do ya? For now, check the album sampler, which may get lost in time and the infinite shelf space of the internet if cats like me don't make a footnote for it on sites like this, toot toot. Click HERE for the full '36 Seasons' album, via iTunes.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mary J. Blige "Hardcore Rap & Mary J. Blige Records" (Mix)

"Some of history's mightiest Queens have been celebrated and regarded for their beauty, charm, and talent. Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Elizabeth are a few who've ruled full of ferocity, emotion and dominance. In music terms, the title, "Queen", isn't taken lightly. An artist's impact and longevity to their craft are important elements to take into consideration before that honor is bestowed. When it comes to the Queen of R&B, there are many names that are synonymous with that legacy through the decades. When it comes to Hip Hop and R&B, there is only one name that can hold the weight, Mary J Blige. Twenty years removed from the release of her debut album, we've witnessed the coronation from young talented singer from Yonkers to The Queen of Hip Hop and R&B. Eight multi-platinum albums, nine grammy awards, and countless classic contributions, Her Highness' music spans over three decades. She is the only artist with Grammy Award wins in Pop, Rap, Gospel, and R&B." Mixed by UnitedCrates & presented by UpNorthTrips, originally released in 2012.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Killer Mike & El-P aka Run The Jewels x NPR "Microphone Check"

"Killer Mike and El-P, underground kings from Atlanta and New York respectively, met four years ago, made an album together, and then joined forces under the name Run the Jewels, something far beyond the sum of its parts. "We're a group comprised of two dudes who met at crossroads, who had come out of crossroads deciding to go out and hunt and kill," says El-P, who produces as well as raps. "When we met, we had both individually decided we were going to go for ours. Like, no more playing around." Microphone Check co-host Ali Shaheed Muhammad was moving on the only morning Jaime and Mike had time to sit down in New York City after they dropped their second album, Run the Jewels 2, so this interview was done by Frannie Kelley solo." Listen below.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Joe Budden "Some Love Lost" (EP Stream)

A confusing release with this one, Joe Budden drops off the latest project in his catalog, "Some Love Lost." Leading up to the album was a 'SomeLoveLostSeries,' featuring solid tracks that aren't featured on this project. It's an indie release, so it's not to fulfill a contract obligation, why not hold it and put the best foot forward ... Fans of Joe know, some of his best records have gone on other artists' projects, as loosies, or entirely unreleased. Maybe it's just to keep us fans guessing? lol. One thing for sure, the track "Only Human" could carry most artists' whole project, coming in at 8:46 long, Joe let the pen bleed on this one. I wouldn't be surprised to see it resurrected on a future release if this one misses the mark with sales. "OLS4" is another fantastic track, which deserved the visuals it received, definitely go check that HERE, and the rest of the EP is not bad either ... it still feels unfinished, like SOMEthing was left off ... but please don't let it keep you from listening!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

DJ Premier "Gang Starr: True Heads Merch Mix"

"This is for the true Gang Starr heads that not only love the classic singles, but love the rarely played album cuts, B-Sides, rare collabos and not your regularly mixed records. We wanted something to go along with the launch of our Official Gang Starr Shop and we will continue to keep the legacy going. Shouts to GURU and Lil Guru (KC), Lana, Justin, the whole Elam family and the Gang Starr Foundation for staying strong throughout the whole loss of our soldier, father, lyricist and MC. Love can never be shattered and that’s what we bring everyday all day." - DJ Premier

Monday, November 10, 2014

Scarface "The Untouchable" (Rap Pages, 5/97)

"Brad Jordan may as well become an author or screenwriter. Marking the tenth anniversary of his career in the rap music game, The Untouchable, Jordan's fourth oratorical cinematic / literary work under the name of his Scarface alter ego, is the apex of his gangsta career. Much like those he was influenced by - filmmaker Brian DePalma and author Mario Puzo - Face has been able to make the ordinary un-ordinary. He, above any other gangsta rap artist, has made each album a soundtrack for the worst aspects of Black life in America. In opposition to his recent socially conscious Geto Boy mindset, Brad Jordan here reintroduces the Scarface g-rap fans have grown to love on the title track, once again displaying the ability to intertwine eerie, haunting piano chords with soul-inspired bass action while shooting 187 narratives. This is showcased best on the cuts "Sunshine" and "No Warning." Much of the album follows the same formula of heavy-hitting musicianship combined with tales of how his crime-savvy characters justify their ruthless, mobster survival tactics in a world full of sinners. Scarface's shit never gets boring, only more interesting." Check "Smile" below...

"Two tracks in particular, "Smartz" and "Smile" (featuring Tupac), tug at Jordan's consciousness; here, he shares his insights and personal pain while viewing the plight of his people. Another musical gem is "Money Makes The World Go Round," which teams Face with Devin of the Facemob and Daz, whose bouncy harp chords and xylophone chimes add diversity to his bluesy gangsta album... The Untouchable can be chalked up as another successful venture for Scarface. In this gangsterized Hip-Hop society, Face's personality and lyrics remain fresh and avoid trite status. His ability to take street savvy and pair it with superhuman feats have always been his forte. The Untouchable is a mirror of the ugliest urban Amerikkkan realities. It's what Face has been puttin' down since he started. He's the best there is at what he does, which is why he remains untouchable." - Rap Pages.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Erick Sermon "Stay Real" (The Source Review, 11/93)

"Some fake the funk and the Main Source know it / How do I know? / Because MTV shows it." With the first single off of his anticipated solo album, Erick Sermon once again proves his commitment to rap and reminds everyone that he can handle his business. "Stay Real" is an attack on rap's increasing mediocrity. Things need to improve and E-Double believes that the first step toward a solution lies in identifying the problem ... Again, there are shades of EPMD apparent. "Stay Real" is virtually a sequel to last summers "Crossover." The Zapp grooves are in effect, the muddy basslines are refurbished, and the rhymes are filled with boasts and attitude. Erick's unique deadpan cadence continues to work as it has for the past six years. While expectations for Erick as a solo artist were not fully realized with "Hittin' Switches," "Stay Real" should make sure that his album gets off to a good start." - (Sure Shot Single in The Source: November, 1993). Check out the video below.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Black Moon "Buck 'Em Down" Remix (Review, 1994)

"Buck 'em Down" was the fourth and final single released from Black Moon's debut album "Enta Da Stage." It was released a full 2 years after the debut single, "Who Got Da Props" hit back in '92. Black Moon shifted the sound in New York with this album and controlled underground radio during its run. The Source reviewed the single in November '94, saying: "Black Moon picks up right where it left off last time - full of potent power and mind-expanding thrills. The superb last single - "I Got Cha Opin" b/w "Killin' Every N!gga" - was really Black Moon's best work to that point, perfecting the sometimes uneven production on the debut LP and clearing the way for pure brilliance on the beats and lyrics. This new single elevates Buckshot into the realm of the very few MCs who consistently set trends on the mic. Cold as ice, yet contemplative and keen, Buckshot has complete command of the track guiding his vocal chords through a melodic delivery thick with verbal gymnastics."

"The track is a true remix, a clear improvement on the original. Evil Dee and Mr. Walt have positioned the thumping beat out front, while a subtle bass and guitar linger in the back. At the end of the cut, the kick and snare drop out and the underlying sample runs on with the hi-hats - a tasteful and soulful touch." The 12" came with the dope "Murder MCs" on the B-side. Watch the video below.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Dante Ross x NPR "Microphone Check"

Dante Ross, A&R man extraordinaire, keeper of stories about everyone from Ol' Dirty Bastard to De La Soul to Cypress Hill, the Beastie Boys, Queen Latifah and Pete Rock, sat down with Microphone Check to remember the old days and stare down the present. Great interview, listen below.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Da Grassroots ‘Body Language’ 12” (2000)

Da Grassroots were on Conception Records, and this is there 12” from 2000, ‘Body Language.’ The Canadian production team consists of Mr. Murray, Mr. Attic, and Swiff. ‘Body Language’ is credited to Mr. Attic on production and features fellow-Canadian legends Choclair and Saukrates. ‘Body Language’ was the third single from Da Grassroots’ debut album, ‘Passing Through Time,’ which was well-received in the underground and we considered them pioneers in the indie scene up in Toronto. I remember seeing the track get ‘Heavy Rotation’ in Vibe in January, 2001. The Canadian support also extended to Arcee, K-os, Thrust & Ghetto Concept, also featured on the album. Following the success of ‘Passage Through Time,’ each member of the group began working on various solo projects. The artwork for the 12” was a nude model sitting poolside, which I always thought was kinda tacky, but the record is solid, check it out below…

Monday, November 03, 2014

Black Milk "If There's a Hell Below" (Album Stream)

On Black Milk’s 6th solo rap LP, "If There’s A Hell Below," Black continues the narratives he started on his 2013 release "No Poison No Paradise." This time, rather than speaking through the character Sonny Jr., Black paints pictures from a first person perspective of someone raised and living in one of America’s toughest cities, and the ups and downs of pursuing a career in the arts. The stories reflect how he and the people where he’s from feel or have felt - if there’s a hell below, maybe we’re already in it. Another great release from Black Milk. Props to Fat Beats. Stream it below.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Apollo Brown & Ras Kass "Blasphemy" (Album Stream)

"Blasphemy, the collaborative album from esteemed Mello Music Group producer Apollo Brown and Ras Kass, is a thought-provoking and highly personal treatise on the unspoken. The sub-rattling and operatic opener “How to Kill God,” a scathing indictment of major religions and the transgressions enacted in their name, serves as a statement of purpose. No “ism” is out of bounds, no topic too untoward. Whatever you hold sacred isn’t above aggressive inquiry.  Behind the boards, Apollo Brown orchestrates with divine aural vision. ThoughBlasphemy is his first album with a west coast rapper, he doesn’t retread g-funk synth grooves. He also forgoes the minimal, rubbery bounce popular with the current crop of west coast talent. Amidst a sea of production crafted for the drug-addled turn up, his work is a life preserver, saving ardent hip-hop fans with hard-hitting beats made buoyant by donuts of soul and blues. On his deftly layered suites, drums hit with the force of an unabridged Bible to the dome, the samples masterfully selected and utilized."