Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Artifacts "The Ultimate" (Review, 1997)

The Artifacts (El Da Sensei & Tame One) came with their 2nd single "The Ultimate" in 1997 for their sophomore album "That's Them" on Big Beat Records. With production from Baby Paul & Showbiz, "The Ultimate" got a look in The Source, saying "After blessing their small but loyal listenership last year with the haunting chimes of "Art Of Facts," the Brick duo return again from the wrong side of the tracks of New Jerusalem with a slice of back-in-the-days bravado, laced with contemporary agitation. Randomly featured on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink High School High soundtrack, "The Ultimate's" old-school style chorus and par-for-the-course boasts were solidly supported by the hillbilly wails and guitar stabs on Beatminerz Baby Paul's original version." 

"D.I.T.C. fugitive Showbiz's overhaul, however, reinvigorates the exercise with the aggression of a physical education coach. Show's expertly arrange regiment of moog loops, handclaps, and scratches from Dana Dane's "Nightmares" provokes Tame One and El Da Sensei into kicking more personal, stronger, new lyrics." Even all these years later, reading the writer from The Source say "small but loyal listenership" still kinda irks me. Right about the remix though, the track still goes! Much respect to El and Tame, listen to "The Ultimate" and get back into the mood of music back in 1997.

Monday, December 29, 2014

DJ Evil Dee "Broadcasting Live" (Mix)

"Straight out of Bushwick, Brooklyn, DJ Evil Dee has made some amazing Hip-Hop records. A onetime high school DJ phenom, this centerpiece of Da Beatminerz is mean on the mix, the drum machine, and diggin’ in the crates. The sound-provider of Black Moon established Duck Down as a source of dopeness back in the Nervous Records days, before making hot joints for O.C., KRS-One, and Fat Joe, among many others. Additionally, the Boot Camp Clik affiliate is big on remixes for a host of artists. This week, Evil made Broadcasting Live Mix, 16 fresh tracks of Beatminerz sound, featuring vocals from the likes of Black Moon, Shabaam Sahdeeq, and longtime Bucktown affiliate Finsta Bundy. Dive in, but protect ya neck." - via Ambrosia For Heads. Evil Dee is on the mix, c'mon kick it!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Homeboy Sandman & Blu "Homeboy Sandman Is The Sandman"

Christmas time is here! "Homeboy Sandman Is The Sandman," the latest surprise 4-track EP from Homeboy Sandman, produced by B-L-U. The creative in me says this project likely came about super organically. As two amazing lyricists, the respect each of them has for one another's craft likely fueled this EP and boom, there it was. A lo-fi release, you can still appreciate the skill of Homeboy Sandman on the mic & Blu continues to showcase his production as we've seen work with Sene & releases via the web of random beat tapes. You can stream the EP below. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Logic "Under Pressure" (Album Stream)

Gaithersburg, Maryland native Logic (born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II) has amassed a large, dedicated fan base over the years via live shows and numerous free mixtapes. The backdrop for the album is Logic's childhood, where he grew up in a hectic environment, full of racism, drugs, and alcohol abuse. He dropped out of high school, was kicked out of his mother’s house, and soon found himself living in his friend Lenbo’s basement. It was there that he would hone his craft of making music, along with his friends 6ix and C Dot Castro. He released his first mixtape Young, Broke, and Infamous in 2010 which caught the ears of Chris Zarou, president of Visionary Music Group. From then through 2013, Logic released one mixtape a year through VMG, amassing a huge following with number-breaking downloads via DatPiff. Shortly after being revealed as a 2013 XXL Freshman, it was announced that Logic had signed to Def Jam Recordings and his debut album would be executive produced by legendary producer No I.D. Through all this, Logic had headlined three of his own national tours and a European tour, and toured with Kid Cudi and Krewella. Logic’s highly anticipated debut album Under Pressure is released through VMG and Def Jam, stream it below.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "PRhyme & Adrian Younge Episode"

The latest episode of the Combat Jack show is a live studio session with the Greatest Of All-Time, DJ Premier, Royce Da 5'9" and Adrian Younge. DJ Premier & Royce have joined forces to form the group "PRhyme" and as a special twist, Premo is sampling from only one source for the production of this album; in this case, that source is Adrian Younge. From how the group formed to back stories of each member, there's a lot to dig into with this latest episode. Listen below.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Shadez Of Brooklyn "Change" 12" (1996)

This is a really dope 12" from Shadez of Brooklyn on Pandemonium Wrekordz in 1996. It's a AA-Side single, both tracks "Change" and "When It Rains It Pours" are super dope with production from Da Beatminerz. The Shadez crew repped out of Bushwick, Brooklyn and consisted of Chocolate Tye, Tee Black, Reverend Al and Rambo. Da Beatminerz handled the production on three 12" releases between 1996-1998, all of which were released on Pandemonium Wreckordz. In 2010, Chopped Herring Records pulled tracks from their catalog and released a dope "Pandemonium EP" that I recommend you pick up. In the meantime, you can listen to the 12" below and if you can dig up a copy, there's a nice Tape Sampler from '96 I'm looking for and will share when I get my hands on it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fondle 'Em "Fossils" (Mix by Dwarf, 2013)

Uploaded to Soundclouded & credited to Dwarf, a solid mix of tracks from the Fondle 'em Fossils days. The mix has tracks from independent, underground greats like Siah & Yeshua dapoED, MHz, Da Nuthouse, my family The Juggaknots, MF Grimm, DJ Eli & Shan Boogs, J. Treds, Mr. Live, The Cenubites, KMD, Rok One, MF Doom, Siah, The Arsonists, Lord Sear & more. Listen below.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Diamond District "March On Washington Redux" (Album Stream)

Mello Music Group drops the remixed version of Diamond District's "March On Washington" album. The remixed versions include production from 14KT, Oh No, L'Orange, Large Professor, Apollo Brown, Quelle Chris, Black Milk, Diamond D, Dopplegangaz, DJ Skizz, Nottz, Paul White & Jonwayne. Exhale, that's a stacked list of producers! Props to Michael Tolle over at Mello, who also receives executive producer credit on the project. For fans of Diamond District, yes you absolutely wanna hear Uptown XO, yU, and Oddisee over these beats. Stream the remixed project below.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brother Arthur "What You Gonna Do" 12" (1994)

Despite being released in 1994, Brother Arthur's "What You Gonna Do" has a bit of an old school flavor to it. It was released as the debut single on Chuck Chillout's C-Ya Entertainment label. A year later you'll also see the production credits for Prince AD & Pyscho Child's "Lyrical Flavor" credited to Chuck Chillout at C-Ya Entertainment. Along with Chuck, Brother Arthur, Big Geno & Big Sham have co-production credits too. "What You Gonna Do" has a nice sample from Heatwave's "Sho'nff Must Be Luv," not to mention the infamous "It's A New Day" break by Skull Snaps, which is what gives it that familiar old school vibe. Gang Starr later sampled "What You Gonna Do" on their record "1/2 & 1/2" with M.O.P.; you can hear Brother Arthur's vocals on the hook, "So whatcha gonna do since ya know now?!" "1/2 and 1/2" was on the Blade Soundtrack and the Full Clip 2CD. Aside from the production, the tracks have strong messages of unity and positivity, dig into the 12" below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blu "Soul Amazing Part 4" (Mix)

The latest in Blu's official "Soul Amazing" mixtape series: Part 4 features Blu verses originally on tracks with L'Orange, Johaz, Grouch & Eligh, Loop Snatchers, !llmind, Homeboy Sandman, Astronote, Dag Savage & more. If you've been following the career of Blu, we can agree his works released outside of collaborations with Exile can use better sound quality, but Blu always comes correct on features, so it's refreshing to hear all these verses on concise mixes. Check out parts 1, 2 and 3, while you're here. Props to Blu, I hope all is well with him - more music please?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ghostface Killah "Ironman" (The Source, 12/96)

"Pull out the bullhorn / Let's celebrate like Kunta was born / We elbowed our way inside Loud and got on," Ghostface Killah reminisces on Iron Man, the latest installment of the Wu saga. It's been three years since the group's debut opus, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and the rap world still shows no signs of growing tired of the Shaolin crew. Batting fifth in the Wu's solo lineup, Ghostface Killah attempts to keep the Clan's hitting streak going. Iron Man is like all the previous Wu-Tang solo albums in one sense: it's a family affair. As evidenced on the exhilarating "Daytona 500," which features original SI representatives Force MD's, Ghostface is at his best when he's armed with his right-hand man Raekwon the Chef and the constantly improving Cappadonna. But don't think that Starks can't hold his own weight. On the scathing "Wildflower," he verbally harasses an unfaithful lady-friend, and on the sucker MC-chopping "Poisonous Darts," Ghost decapitates all competition."

"Iron Man is not Cuban Linx II. Italian gangster-inspired stories have been replaced by introspective lyrics, haunting melodies and intense emotional moments. And save the old-school hip-hop inspired "Box In Hand," choruses have all but been eliminated, as outside collaborators provide the record with an almost old-school R&B edge ... Method Man's Grammy partner Mary J. Blige adds a touch of elegance on "All That I Got Is You." It's on this autobiographical ode that Ghost removes his iron-clad mask and provides us with insight into his troubled childhood, and even questions his own existence. "Sometimes I look up at the stars and analyze the sky / And ask myself was I meant to be here / Why?" Serving as the project's exclusive producer, the RZA does another masterful job, topping himself in terms of sonic diversity. With Iron Man, the Clan's former masked avenger, Ghostface Killah, has created a soulful chamber that deserves its rightful place as another cornerstone in the enduring Wu-Tang Clan legacy." - The Source, December 1996.

Monday, December 15, 2014

J. Cole x NPR "Microphone Check"

"The day after his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was released, J. Cole spoke to Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley. It was the morning before he performed "Be Free," the song he made about Michael Brown, on Letterman. Cole said he was nervous about it, but apparently not so worried that he would change his clothes. He wore the same hoodie for this interview that he did on TV. The conversation –- Mic Check's second with Cole — reveals a person newly comfortable with himself, his abilities and what needs to be done." Listen below.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One and One "Phenomenon" (1996)

Released in 1996 through Next Plateau Entertainment, One and One was the Brooklyn-based underground hip-hop duo comprised of Harry Balz aka C. Burch & Doctor Ice from U.T.F.O. aka Sonny Boy, and the track was called “Phenomenon.” The song samples Eddie Floyd’s “Check Me Out,” which was also sampled for The Firm's "La Familia." I loved that song, regardless of whether it was the Nature or Cormega version. The production for One and One's "Phenomenon" was handled by Swing Of Things Productions. There were two more 12" releases from them on Next Plateau, but I do not recall them at all, I'll have to give it a listen and see if it jogs my memory later. In the meantime, dig into this 12" from '96, and then dig into The Firm, because ... why not? Peace.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Fugees "The Score" (Classic Material, XXL)

"The Fugees, who exploded out of the then-burgeoning North Jersey scene - around Newark and The Oranges - were a trio of artists with vastly different experience and talent. Wyclef, the eldest, was Haitian-born and Brooklyn-bred. South Orange's Lauryn Hill, the youngest, was perhaps the most stunningly and undeniably talented. Pras had Brooklyn roots and an ear for the streets... The group's Bayyan-produced 1994 debut, Blunted On Reality, was far from satisfying... Even with mediocre sales of 275,000, Ruffhouse gave them the advance they needed for a second album. "We had $135,000, took a little advance and bought studio equipment with the rest," Pras recalls. The results: a top-of-the-line home studio downstairs in Wyclef's uncle's home in East Orange - the Booga Basement..." Peep the video to the lead single, "Fu-Gee La," continued below...

"The Fugees' masterpiece was released in February 1996, eventually blown up by a song that wasn't even a single. Mixing Caribbean flavor with Hill's R&B power-pipes while beating about a hip-hop heart, the album appealed to music fans of all stripes, eventually selling nearly six million units in the US and, according to Pras, 18 million worldwide. "Clef brought the musicality, Lauryn brought the soulfulness and I brought the ruffneck," he explains. "And when it meshed together it was perfect." Enjoy Wyclef & Pras breakdown several classics from the album below. Peace to Brian Coleman.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

J. Cole "2014 Forest Hills Drive" (Album Stream)

Third album from the rapper J. Cole, named after his childhood home address 2014 Forest Hills Drive. Produced by J. Cole with guest producers DJ Dahl, Illmind, Cardiak, Vinylz, Organized Noize & more. 2014 Forest Hills Drive does more than immortalizes an address in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It speaks to a progression in a young life emotionally and also from a socio-economic vantage point. From an all black trailer park in cramped quarters to a two-story house on a tree lined street with a carport and bedrooms for each family member. As the years and jobs of his mother improved so did the living situations and therefore the openness to get creative. With the new private bedroom coupled with a growing interest in rap music fueled by one summer-long visit by a cousin from down south who ushered in No Limit style hip hop the seeds of the future rapper were there. 2014 Forest Hills Drive will, inevitably, be analyzed to every last verb and snare. But the music speaks for itself, definitely his best studio album to date (mixtapes, not included). Stream it below.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Killer Mike "Sunday Morning Massacres" (Mixtape)

In 2008, Killer Mike let loose a series of tracks under the title of "Sunday Morning Massacres" when blogs were generating a lot of buzz for artists. I met Killer Mike in New York at Fat Beats for his "I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II" album in-store that same year. I believe it was just before he started releasing these tracks originally, but from my limited time with him, this was a man with a message, a higher purpose and an agenda to push people to build networks so we could truly support one another. With the evolution in his career and the success he's finally achieving on a level on par with his abilities, I suspect his role in the industry and grassroots politics will only increase with time. Back to the mix, it's about 18 tracks long, several of them being skits and lots of lyrical content and messages, in his signature ferocious style of rapping. You don't wanna miss it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "LL Cool J Episode"

From Combat Jack: "We couldn't end this year right without having the G.O.A.T. on. How he survived an abusive upbringing, studied his craft with early rap pioneers in the same rap dojo with Kool G. Rap, becoming the foundation stone that became Def Jam, building with Queens' street legends, battling this rapper, that rapper and Jay Z, why he didn't sign management with Diddy, the "Accidental Racist" thing, flipping burglars in his castle and the victory of seeing his wife survive Cancer, its all here and more. From Hollis to Hollywood, this episode is most certainly blowticious. LL Cool J will forever remain hard as hell. Pause." lol ... Listen below to the latest episode!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Lords of the Underground "Keepers of the Funk" (12/94)

"On their follow up to a gold-selling debut, The Lords of the Underground unveil crisper, more disciplined voices and flows. Last time around, on Here Come The Lords, they seemed to be trying to appease the 'grimy' or Das EFX contingent, and got over on the strength of a collection of solid Marley Marl tracks. For Keepers..., they delete some of their more non-accessible attributes and concentrate on streamlining their image. Some of the songs sound like album filler, but ... are in the minority. "Ready Or Not" combines a gritty Old School feel with a seductive jazz piano that's just right for a night ride. "Tic Toc," with three-chord vibes, a relaxed swing beat and a nifty Slick Rick sample, swings like a pendulum. For platinum-selling poseurs, adequate disses; for impetuous newjacks, a short pre-deal biography that emphasizes the hardships of their hungry demo-tape days." Check out the video to Lords Of The Underground's gem, "What I'm After," cont'd below...

"The superior "Steam From Da Knot" and "What I'm After" both offer relentless beats, atmospheric jazz fusions and surgically-precise scratches. For "Special Guest," they dust off James Brown grunts, add reverb and bounce them all over instantly enjoyable "Top Billin"-like beats. The album's surprise, "Faith," is as gospel as any hardcore group maintaining street credibility can be. Over the smooth riff used on Mic Geronimo's "Real," the Lords offer praise to their deity: "I place all my faith in God cause God'll never leave me... believe me" ... While a bit uneven on side two, and more than a little trendy, Keepers Of The Funk does manage to avoid the sophomore jinx. It brings a handful of addictive grooves..." - The Source, December 1994 ... save a copy of the review below...

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Ras Kass "Remain Anonymous" (The Source, 12/94)

"Just when you thought it was safe to write Southern California off as a wasteland of gin and juiced-up hustlas and pimps, up steps Ras Kass to prove that LA has an underground with a lyrical potency and overall fervor that may soon rival New York's. This 19-year old from Carson is a part of Western Hemisfear, a rhyme collective of like-minded emcees and producers out to prove that LA rap is about a hell of a lot more than gang signs, gun boasts and Roger Troutman beats. Bolstered by fat production from crew members Vooodu and Bird, Ras rips shit in a manner that hasn't been witnessed out in those parts since Freestyle Fellowship blew up the spot a few years ago." Cont'd...

"A hardened battle-rhymer, Ras always goes for the jugular with metaphors like: "When my voice hits the mic, I electrocute Spit like Beat Street (Won't Catch Me Runnin), "I gotcha holding my dick like your name was Lorena Bobbit" and "Slappin your Left-Eye up like my man Andre Rison" (Remain Anonymous). With his penchant for the graphic matched with a sure-footed, rapid-fire, throaty delivery, Ras murders the jazzy, bottom-heavy tracks laid before his feet with dazzling verve. Backed by the slightest strands of upright jazz bass, hearty kicks and bleating horns, Bird and Vooodu provide the perfect safety net for Ras's lyrical bungee jumping. Remain Anonymous is an anthem for the underground, urging the true lyrical prophets to throw "rhetoric and repertoire, demographics and heavy rotation" to the wind in favor of keeping their lyrical styles in tact" cont'd...

If you're interested in saving an original copy of The Source's review, see below...

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Malcom "Thelonious" Martin "Wunderkid" (Instrumental Album)

Wunderkid is the most recent - AMAZING - instrumental album from Malcolm “Thelonious" Martin. Split between instrumentals & featured vocals, you hear Mac Miller, Smoke Dza, Ab Soul, Curren$y & some really dope vocalists holding it down too. One of the best projects of 2014 that very few people are talking about ... why? Whenever I get overloaded by the available track credits aka all the breadcrumbs I want to dig through to get to the bottom of a dope sounding project, I bring it back to the shout-outs, lol. In Thelonious' case, he sends thanks to "Mom, Dad, my family (all my brothers, sisters, aunts uncles, grandmothers, grand dad, cousins etc.), Professor Fox for being my Jon Brion on this album, Matt Hennessy for the wonderful mixes, Doug McBride for the mastering, Adult Swim, J Dilla & Madlib, Alchemist, Topaz, Saint, Lonner, Matt for letting make beats in his basement in 7th grade, Mr. Ennis, Mr. Frye, Zane, Dallas, Nyann, Nicki all my incredible rap friends, my real life friends, any one that ever helped, anyone that ever doubted, anyone that I’m forgetting, Thank You All." You can learn a lot about a man from how humble he is & how he pays his thanks forward. Plus, it's some more breadcrumbs & a lesson to artists, yes there's often a distinction between "incredible rap friends" and "real life friends," lol. Free advice. Stream it below! Cop it HERE.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Astronote "AstroNoMix" (Mix)

The "AstroNoMix" by Astronote was originally released in December of 2010. It's a compilation of tracks produced by Astronote, featuring hard-hitting MCs like Magestik Legend, King Magnetic, Ro Spit, Fresh Daily, Donwill, Marv Won, LMNO, Shawn Jackson, Sha Stimuli, Invincible & more. Astronote and I have been in touch since about '08 or so, maybe earlier - he's been at it for a hot minute, and has always had a lot of support out of Detroit, which you'll hear from all the Detroit spitters on the project, not to mention DJ Graffiti at A-Side Worldwide. Anyhow, it's been several years since this project dropped, but I figure many of these tracks went below the radar for some & it might put you on to the production of a real talent, so dig in below & as always, follow the breadcrumbs back to "Astroblacked" and other projects. Peace to DJ Graffiti.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Eminem & DJ Whoo Kid "Shady Classics" (Mixtape)

A 66-track mixtape from the Shady Records camp, mixed by DJ Whoo Kid, in advance of the Shady XV album. Apparently, these tracks will not be featured on the project, so dig into this, because as I keep saying, history is gonna forget a lot of these dope, exclusive mixtapes. Links will one day perish, paying streaming services will pretend they never existed and artists will say they were free so stop complaining, lol. Truth is, if you didn't click play when I said Eminem & 66-tracks, you aren't going to, so how about this, has the bubble popped on Slim Shady? Do fans wanna hear the rappity rap brand of hip-hop he delivers? No shade, I'm a fan, I obviously clicked play, but how about you? I have been noticing a shift, but mega-stars are only 1 song away from the love.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan "A Better Tomorrow" (Album Stream)

"A Better Tomorrow" is the sixth studio album from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. I've heard the rumors of discord amongst the members, plenty has been said to dissuade me from even clicking play on the album ... yet, it's the Wu! If I lose hope, the terrorists win, right? So, like many of you, I will click to stream the album and keep my hopes up that it's dope and if not, that they can right this ship, because there's entirely too much talent in the group! The first single I peeped ahead of the album was "Necklace," the production left a lot to be desired ... but back to hope. Listen below.

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Audible Doctor "Can't Keep The People Waiting" (EP Stream)

Former product buyer and manager of Fat Beats NY, The Audible Doctor, delivers a new self-produced EP. As a man of the people, he couldn’t keep his fans waiting any longer for a full project. It has features from Guilty Simpson, Bumpy Knuckles, Consequence, Hassan Mackey, John Robinson & more. You expect The Audible Doctor's signature chops, samples and soulful delivery all over this EP. Dysfunctional as we can be sometimes, I am proud to call him my brother, and surely celebrated the new release with a purchase as I hope you will, too. Meanwhile, stream it below!