Thursday, December 31, 2015

Union Blak "Street English" (Album Stream)

Union Blak: MC, Kimba and producer, Sir Williams, return for their new album "Street English," following the success of their debut "Union Blak Friday." The album features 11 tracks featuring their signature sound with intelligent rhymes and soulful production. With a solid home at Effiscienz Records, you can pick up the album on CD, Digital and LP. My favorite tracks on the project are "The Truth" and "Brownstone," among others ... stream the album below! Let me know if you dig it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DJ Chuck Chillout "The Breaks" (Mix)

A mix from the legendary Chuck Chillout, inspired by the VH1 original movie "The Breaks." Some of the records featured in the mix are from Ultramagnetic MCs, Boogie Down Productions, Fantasy 3 MCs, MC Shan, Steady B, Original Concept, Whodini, Biz Markie, Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, Stetsasonic, Classical 3 MCs, Public Enemy, T LA Rock, Ice T, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, De La Soul, The Incredible Bongo Band, and lots more tracks that utilized classic break beats. Listen to the mix below.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Awon & Phoniks "Knowledge Of Self" (Album Stream)

"Knowledge of Self" is the 2nd official offering from Hip-Hop duo Awon & Phoniks. Coming over 2 years after releasing their debut album "Return to the Golden Era" in Summer of 2013, the Newport News, VA emcee and Portland, ME producer have been working diligently on their follow-up. While the debut LP was a throwback to 90's hip-hop in every sense, with lyrics focusing on Awon's troubled youth and tales of street grandeur, their 2nd LP sees the group maintain their signature sound while refining things both musically and lyrically. This time Awon is speaking from the present, educating youth on tracks like 'Reflections' and speaking on current social climates in 'Summer Madness' and 'Profit Off My Pain'. He has adapted his rhymes to more relevant topics while keeping his all-natural flow groove-locked in the pocket. The duo also capitalized on the networking opportunities their first LP provided, collaborating with a multitude of talented artists from all over the globe such as Oslo's Ivan Ave and London's Heeni. Phoniks shows his maturation as a producer on tracks like the trunk rattling 'Do They Really Love You' and 'Be Real With It' featuring jazzy piano chops, subtly layered samples and off-beat, un-quantized rhythms. While the debut LP was crafted with the artists in isolation, recording and emailing each other from their respective bedroom studios, "Knowledge Of Self" was made possible by traveling across the east coast and working together in state of the art recording facilities. The tracks are given a warm punch from being recorded through top notch microphones and preamps and bounced down to analog tapes. Across it's 13-tracks, Awon & Phoniks make their best case at providing fans with one of the most well-rounded, impactful hip-hop projects of 2015. Not only have they returned to the Golden Era, but this time they have done it with a seasoned wisdom. Knowledge Reigns Supreme." - Don't Sleep Records Enjoy the stream below & hit the tags for more. (Edited, 2018)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Halftime Show "Eminem & Royce Da 5'9" (September 23, 1998)

"Here goes another Halftime show from '98 with guests Eminem and Royce Da 5'9" (85:53). Short interview right into the freestyle session (if only cats today were as hungry as the 90s generation). As usual, Riz sets off the show lovely and then half way through I get on to finish up. Always good listening to the mic breaks to see what was going on during that time (i.e. Tramps shows, Fat Beats in-stores, new mixer...thanks Fat Beats!). So much good music played!" - via DJ Eclipse's Mixcloud.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pusha T x NPR "Microphone Check"

The Virginia Beach denizen spoke to Microphone Check about the reverse troll he laid on Def Jam with Darkest Before Dawn, what it's like to go back and forth with Puffy, the fallacies of textbooks, the perils of ignoring the youth and where he's going with King Push. Listen below.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grown Man Rap Show "Buckwild Mix"

DJ Toast & Paul Nice broadcast live every Sunday Night (10-12am, EST) at WRPI in Albany, NY. This is Episode 50 - quite the milestone - a dope tribute to D.I.T.C.'s Buckwild. Paul Nice's set kicks off with tracks by O.C., Lord Finesse, Mic Geronimo, Akinyele, Special Ed, Mad Skills, Royal Flush, Celph Titled, FatJoe, Alkaholiks, Brand Nubian and more. Then DJ Toast steps up & adds cuts from Organized Konfusion, WC, Kool G Rap, Show & AG, Big L, Street Smartz, Black Rob, Kool Keith, a few samples thrown to round out their outstanding tribute mix. Listen below!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ice Cube "Kill At Will" EP (The Source, 2/91)

"Let's get this straight from the giddy up - Ice Cube fans will not be disappointed by this EP. Cube's rhymes are in there as usual and the production by Sir Jinx and the rest of Da Lench Mob may not be on the same classic level of Amerikkka's Most Wanted but don't sleep. There are three remixes plus brand new cuts. "Jackin' For Beats," "The Product" (Ice Cube's hype recital of his past and present), the somber "Dead Homiez," (a dedication to deceased friends) and even the quick shout jam "I Gotta Thank" will keep the hardcore masses satisfied till the vinyl becomes warped. Of the remixed jams, "Endangered Species" stands out the most, as new breakbeats and basslines solidify Cube and Chuck's powerful lyrics. The cut that mostly likely will have people saying "Oh Shit!" is "Jackin' For Beats." Dig into the visuals from "Jackin For Beats" - and more - cont'd below...

"On this track, Cube holds true to the song's title as he rhymes over beats from "Call Me D-Nice," "So Wat Ya Sayin," "The Humpty Dance," "Big Ole Butt" and others. No Sa-Prizes here. If Ice Cube is only out for one thang, it's coming out with dope records." - The Source, February 1991.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

AZ "Sugar Hill" b/w "Rather Unique" Greatest A/B Side?

I've probably said it before, but AZ's "Sugar Hill" b/w "Rather Unique" is undeniably one of the greatest A/B side 12" singles in the history of Hip-Hop. I'm not claiming the top spot, but it's up for consideration. I know L.E.S.'s production on "Sugar Hill" made it the clear choice for the single and "Rather Unique" was better fit as the B-Side, but man, that is one of the smoothest beats by Pete Rock. I'd heard rumors that Capone (?) originally had a version of "Sugar Hill," possibly produced by Ayatollah (my memory is fading), but the L.E.S. flip of the sample fit well on the "Doe or Die" album. We could debate whether or not "Doe Or Die" can be labeled as a classic - I've always been on the fence, maybe it's a New York classic. Clearly, AZ is one of the more underrated MCs, just like O.C. and some others that came out close enough to "Illmatic" to be considered alongside it, but also lying in the shadows of it. A disclaimer: depending on what promo you have, it might not have included "Rather Unique" originally, but by the time the official release dropped - and even the advance cassette I got above - it did have it as the B-Side. Good call, EMI.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Halftime Show "Non Phixion, Arsonists, Big L" (Aug 19, 1998)

"This show had mad guests this night. After a short interview (53:58), Non Phixion, Arsonists and Necro hit the mic for an ill freestyle session (62:45). Then a little later A.G. and Ghetto Dwellas get busy (101:49) leaving it to Big L to close it all out (112:16). Even hearing Q-Unique talk about his MC battle at Club Vinyl (51:45) is dope when he runs down the list of emcees that made it past the prelims (i.e. Pumpkinhead, Poison Pen, etc). These shows captured the essence of what was going on in NYC in the 90s. #RIP Big L #RIP Party Arty" - via DJ Eclipse. Listen below!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Paranom & Purpose "Life Outside The Frame" (Album Stream)

"It was at the end of last year that the Tragic Allies crew members Paranom & Purpose stepped outside their clique for a minute to record Life Outside The Frame. What they created was a varied selection of songs ranging from upbeat and catchy, to laidback and contemplative, making the LP unmissable for anyone searching for god-body rap with steez. As the newest recruit to the T.A roster, Paranom has proved his microphone abilities beyond a doubt, writing constantly creative bars and huge hooks with nothing but respect for the culture, lyrical depth, and skill. The tranquil jazz that Purpose has been diggin’ for suits the MCs’ chilled style well, and makes this lengthy track list seem short by keeping their songs to the point and highly musical." - via EyeKnowHipHop

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Madlib "The Madlib Remixes: 1997-2007" (Mixed by J Rocc)

J Rocc put this one together, collecting ten years of Madlib's remixes. Many of these were released by the artists on singles, others were made for Madlib's own use and are still unreleased. This was originally released as Stones Throw Podcast #21. Photo for the artwork was taken by B+. It was released a few years ago, but it's always a good time to revisit Madlib remixes, no? Listen below.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

FloFilz "Speakthru" (Instrumental Stream)

Speakthru is FloFilz's debut album on Jakarta Records. It is a testament to the connective power of music. Transcending musical boundaries, Flo manages to bring together a wide range of MCs to feature on his tracks, such as LA's own Blu and Co$$, up to Norway's Ivan Ave, and London's Barney Artist; including another half-dozen powerful instrumentals sprinkled in between. Listen below.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Fredfades & Ivan Ave "Fruitful" (Album Stream)

The dynamic duo from Oslo, Norway FredFades and Ivan Ave step in with a solid 12 track album “Fruitful,” out now on Germany’s Jakarta Records. The sound is rooted in hip-hop’s Golden Age of the early to mid 90’s. The chemistry between the production of FredFades and Ivan Ave’s vocal bring us back to acts like Pete Rock & CL, DJ Premier & Guru, J Rawls & J Sands (Lone Catalysts) and the more recent classic “Below The Heavens” from Blu & Exile. Beautiful, jazzy and soulful production from Fred Fades + intelligent lyrics and incredibly smooth flow from Ivan Ave. That’s all you really need to know. Pure rap music with no gimmicks. MIMS.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Jeru The Damaja "Can't Stop The Prophet" (The Source, 12/94)

"For all of the unfair criticism Jeru caught over "Bitchez," the fact that he's a hip-hop philosopher with long term visions on how to master and improve the game was never lost on anyone who got past Premier's beats on The Sun Rises In The East. If the original version of "Prophet" earned Jeru mad respect from hip-hop intellectuals, then the Pete Rock remix should silence detractors and bring glee to the primitive. Peep the production credits. Look at them again. Yes, both Premier and Pete Rock - arguably the flyest beat ministers in the hip-hop cathedral - worked on "Can't Stop The Prophet." After Doug E. Fresh's "The Show" provides an intro, Pete chops up the bassline, and allows hollow vibes to echo up and down the track ... The arresting track is a perfect backdrop for Jeru's clever comic-book-styled metaphor. In Downtown Brooklyn, he tells us, a battle wages - between Ignorance and the Prophet. Using his razorsharp lyrical knives to get through Ignorance's henchmen Animosity and Envy, the Prophet is forced to kill Ignorance's girl, Jealousy. Jeru's use of an extended metaphor to prove a point - that intellectual strength could triumph over the root causes of plagues cuffing our community's growth - represents the future of hip-hop." The Source, 12/94. (Updated, 2018: I included an official version of the video + Jeru The Damaja discussing the roles Danny Hastings and Chris Cortes played in the classic visuals for the album). Watch below...

If you'd rather read it directly from the source - or save a copy - check it out below.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Brand Nubian ‘One for All’ 25th Anniversary Mixtape

“This Weekend (4th December 2015) marked the 25th Anniversary of the release of Brand Nubian‘s classic debut album ‘One for All’. Notable for its use of unconventional sample material (see use of Edie Brickell’s ‘What I Am’ on the smash single ‘Slow Down’), this landmark release of the afro-centric era treads an unlikely path between political commentary and humorous braggadocio. In celebration of the album’s 25th birthday, we’ve teamed up with Wax Poetics to present an exclusive mixtape containing tracks from the album, alternate versions, remixes and, of course, original sample material used in the album’s production.” Enjoy the mix below.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Q-Tip Lecture at Red Bull Music Academy (NY, 2013)

"Q-Tip is one of hip-hop's greatest MCs and producers. As a member of A Tribe Called Quest, he helped to shape the sound of hip-hop throughout the ’90s. The group’s exceptional run of full-lengths became a blueprint for MCs looking to balance the literate and the absurd, as well as producers searching for the perfect (and unexpected) break. Since Tribe’s split in '98, Q-Tip has kept busy with a solo career that has included multiple solo albums, countless productions, and guest appearances in places both expected and improbable. In this talk at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy, Q-Tip discussed standout Tribe cuts, working with J Dilla, the Zulu Nation, and more." (Updated, 2017, added new photo; art by Larry Cooney Jr.). Definitely watch and enjoy below.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Dephlow "Deph Threats" (Album Stream)

Dephlow represents out of VA, and is down with Awon & Phoniks of the Don't Sleep Records family. This 15-track offering is almost entirely produced by Phoniks, with the exception of "Your Way," which is produced by Draper. Features on the LP include Nehermiah Bell, Tiff The Gift, Anti-Lilly & My Main Man Kleon. A solid release front start to finish, but I almost take that for granted when it comes to Don't Sleep Records. I can't help but notice how well the razor sharp vocal samples fit over Phoniks' production & the content Dephlow shares on the album. Cohesion!! Focussing away from the "single," they craft cohesive projects from start to finish. Fans have rewarded the crew with millions of streams, successful tours & the ability to profit off their physical merch. But y'all don't hear me though, lol. Stream "Deph Threats" below, cop the physicals too while available.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Smoothe The Hustler "Broken Language" (1995)

"Here comes that Brooklyn aesthetic again - slang talk, crook walk and glock cock attitude. Smoothe Da Hustler, a product of the mean streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn, is poised to big-up the borough lovely with his debut release ... "Broken Language" is the real jewel here. Smoothe pairs up with his brother Trigga to deliver one of the most jaw dropping performances by a duo in some time. The two engage in vintage hip-hop, switching back and forth in an endless series of self-aggrandizing descriptions. As the sinister, sting-adorned track pulses in the background, Trigga and Smoothe strive to metaphorically outdo each other. Trigga: "Your death threater, sender, head spinner, rap beginner, light dimmer, three-knock out count winner / Your gun reacher, bustin' shot teacher, your funeral service church preacher / Your black hearse coffin' seeker." Smoothe: "Camera, the beer guzzler, the slug to your mug tussler, the drug juggler, the crazy thug hustler / The lexus wanter, the chain, ring and bracelet flaunter." Undoubtedly - as summed up quite succinctly by Smoothe - the "hottest n!gga out this winta." - The Source, 11/95. Prod. by DR Period, check it out below...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poor Righteous Teachers "New World Order" (The Source, 11/96)

"There's a new set of rules we shall all have to abide by / the non-lyrical shall be terminated," goes the outro line of "Gods, Earth and 85ers." Hollywood might call it Revenge Of The Intelligent. But Poor Righteous Teachers call it the New World Order. Not just a reference to some master plan for world domination, this LP's title also aims for a shift in hip-hop's balance of power, away from the false prophets of gangsta nihilism, back to the knowledge rap that ruled when PRT first stepped on the scene in '90. The centerpiece of this album are the dozens of tightly constructed dope lyrics concocted by MC Wise Intelligent. There are almost too many to quote ... Wise unleashes lyric after lyric attacking ignorance and negativity in both hip-hop, and the overall Black Community."

"Fellow PRT members Father Shaheed and Culture Freedom also offer significant contributions from behind the boards. Culture brings some reggae flavor to the tight verbals kicked on "Some Tachers, Some Refugees," featuring The Fugees ... But no amount of funkiness could overshadow the outstanding performance of Wise. On New World Order, he's harnessed all his lyrical strength to issue a call to arms. Just like De La and Jeru have done this year, he's let it be known that he's fed up. This teacher's lesson: "Hip-hop has become a species in danger / since rappers turned gangsta." - The Source, 11/96 - Video to "Dreadful Day" above, full review in The Source available below.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A.C.D. "Kings Of NY" 12" (1998)

A.C.D. was a hip-hop duo consisting of Ammo & A-Dog from Queensbridge, New York. Their breakthrough track in '95-96 was a joint with Mobb Deep called "Street Life." It got a ton of love on college radio, Stretch & Bobbito ran it for weeks, and I remember both A.C.D. & L.E.S. freestyling and dropping off a demo or two, as well. This "Kings of NY" 12" didn't drop until 1998 on HitList Records. It featured Nature, who was tearing up the mixtape scene and was arguably one of the hottest artists in the underground at the time. Rick Rude produced the record, as well as their second 12" "In The City" and "Mos N#ggaz" in 1998. The duo dropped a few mixtapes in later years, the first of which was "Korna Klaimers," which had a lot of those early records and features to re-familiarize people with their come-up. After that, "American Dream" and "No Witnesses" in 2006 on Black World Entertainment. A-Dog was also one of the 41st side joints from Lakey the Kid. I never asked what A.C.D. stood for, but if you've ever been to court, you might be able to guess?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stretch & Bobbito Show "Fat Joe & Big Pun" (August 31, 1995)

"I always recorded my guest sets on KCR so I couldn’t for the life of me understand why I wouldn’t have the one Riz and I did when Fat Joe brought up Big Pun for the first time (along w/Armageddon & Keith Nut). Come to find out I forgot to label the tapes with the date. Anyway, seems only fitting to post this today on Pun’s birthday. Joe starts the interview (151:40) and plays some joints off his album before introducing everyone to the mic (167:42). I threw on “Broken Language” and Pun set it all off. Other dope moments were the Pumpkinhead, Natural Elements and O.C./Poops promos that Bob started off the night with before Riz got on (10:20) and showed off (see Nas Remix). Bobbito plays a demo set in the middle of the show (113:15) before Terror Squad arrives and then I close it out (179:22). And what would a Stretch & Bobbito show be without comedy from Lord Sear (228:30) For more insight on this Pun appearance check out the movie Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives." - DJ Eclipse, via his Mixcloud.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rapper Big Pooh & Nottz "Home Sweet Home" (Album Stream)

Home Sweet Home, the collaborative album from rapper Big Pooh and Nottz: 13 slabs of soulful music and superb bars, released on Mello Music Group. It’s immensely relatable rap about having too many debts on the credit card, trying to make diamonds of out coal, and not being able to afford to eat for days on end. Behind the boards, the two-time Grammy Award winning producer, Nottz annexes a form of boom-bap that hadn’t yet been discovered. It’s what you’d imagine Gang Starr would sound like if they came out in 2015: fueled by battering ram drums and orchestral loops, beatific gospel and raw sinister slaps. It’s not hard to tell why he’s been a go-to producer for Kanye, Snoop Dogg, and Scarface -- or why 9th Wonder once called Nottz, "the best beatmaker on earth." This is an album to remind you of what you left and where you’re going. Home Sweet Home proves that you can go home again, but you’ll meet both the good and the band. The feeling of being around those you love, and the cousins asking to borrow money. Life in all its forms. Dig in.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bunty Beats "93" (Beat Tape)

A new beat tape from UK producer, Bunty Beats. I think '93-95 is arguably my favorite period in hip-hop, so when I saw his new tape was called "93," I was convinced I'd like it before I even clicked play. I was not disappointed, lol. Boom bap tribute to '93, what more do you need to know? Stream the 17-track beat tape below and get out those Timberland boots for the occasion.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Lord The Arkitec 'Listen Closely' 12" (1998)

Lord the Arkitec Listen Closely Royal Flush Mic Geronimo Large Professor Name of the Game

Lord the Arkitec’s ‘Listen Closely’ & ‘Name of the Game’ 12” was released in the summer of ’98 on Bottumz Up Entertainment. ‘Listen Closely’ is considered the sequel to Royal Flush’s underground smash, ‘Worldwide,’ thus featuring Flush, as well as Mic Geronimo and production by Kaysaan. The B-Side, 'Name of the Game (Friends)', is the real gem on this 12" though, with Large Pro on production and Lord the Arkitec shining solo on the track. The entire record is Queens, although I don't know what section Lord The Arkitec is from - could be he's from Flushing, then it'd be a record from the Wastelanz. I don't believe there was a follow-up 12" or any other releases, which is a shame. Anyone know differently? You can listen to the 12" below, but consider picking up a copy of the picture cover release (for a reasonable price) at Discogs, eBay or another reseller.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Logic x NPR "Microphone Check"

The rapper, who hails from Maryland but now resides in the Los Angeles area, came through to talk about the road to his second album, The Incredible True Story, fending off critics and the language he uses to to remind himself of his blessings and his possibilities. Listen the Logic interview below.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nolan The Ninja "F#ck The Hype" (EP Stream)

The title of Nolan the Ninja‘s EP, "F#ck the Hype" was conceived “due to a conscious decision made by Nolan, DJ Soko and Dart Adams” and serves as part concept project, part PSA. The idea behind the EP was to explore how far the music could travel organically without the need for a built-in hype machine; without the politics and bullshit – instead, focusing on what’s most important: the art. As someone who is somewhat relatively new to the “game,” Detroit emcee Nolan the Ninja’s campaign has proven fruitful, with hype built up at the cellular level through carefully crafted singles like “Clockers,” “Gusto” and “Deploi” featuring Phat Kat. The EP features Hassaan Mackey, Finale, Phat Kat and A-Minus, plus production from 5ynoT, DaG, Just Pieces & Jay P in addition to Nolan’s own production.. Stream it below. Props to Dart Adams and DJ Soko.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Onyx "All We Got Iz Us" (The Source, 11/95)

"After an almost three year hiatus, Onyx has finally returned with their sophomore release, All We Got Iz Us. With such a long pause between LPs, many heads in the U.S.G. may be skeptical about their return. But any questions as to whether they could survive in an increasingly competitive market were quickly put to rest by "Live," the album's first single. Onyx still has clout. Their latest effort contains what most expected: anger, gun talk and violence. But in between the frustration and screaming, Onyx manages to discuss why they're mad. It begins with "Last Days," a song dealing with the confusion and corruption of everyday life in the U.S.G. Each member shines over a Beatminerish track that is concrete hard, yet butter smooth. Several other tracks will make the head nod, but "Most Def" will have the entire body moving. The song's ill track - a lethal melody backed with extra hard drums - goes perfectly with the crew's razor sharp lyrics." Cont'd...

"Although the LP is packed with sure shots, there are a few sure misses...they definitely stand out as weaker representations of the group's efforts. All We Got Iz Us still shines due to the production direction. There are more sinister-smooth cuts as opposed to tracks that make you wanna slam. Lyrically, they're business as usual. Sticky Fingaz plays the lead role with able backing from Fredro and Suave. The trio have diminished the yelling, but maintained the trademark grimy voices. That factor - along with songs that actually have something to say - demonstrates Onyx's maturity and continued ability to separate themselves from the crowd." - The Source, 11/95

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Film Skool Rejekts 'The Greatest Mixtape of All Time'

Film Skool Rejekts The Greatest Mixtape of all Time CD Cassette

In the time I worked at Fat Beats, I saw countless artists come into the store to drop off demos, giveaways and even submit projects for consignment. Add them all together and it was only a small few that really deserved special attention. To me, one of those projects was from Film Skool Rejekts. The group was Cyrus The Great, Future Joyner, Sheen Phillips and DJ Prince. It might sound arrogant to call your mixtape 'The Greatest Mixtape of All Time,' but they put their best foot forward on all elements of their project. Cyrus The Great has since released a great production album called 'King Kong Ain't Got Shit On Me' and for those that don't know, Future Joyner changed his name to Joyner Lucas, released a couple solid mixtapes (hit the tags), some great concept records, a blazing freestyle at the BET Cipher, and went on to sign a major deal with Atlantic Records for $2M. On cassette store day, FSR released this limited cassette tape, and of course, I supported it. Mind you, the CD was '08, but the cassette didn't get released until 2014. You can download the digital version with the 'name your price' option on Bandcamp. Also, DJ Prince has a solid album called 'Test My Sound' that you should check out too. I should have posted this sooner, but it's never too late to share dope music! Dig into it below!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Fat Joe "Jealous One's Envy" (Album Review, 11/95)

"I know you remember "Flow Joe" from the album Represent back in '93. A lot of heads might even remember the phat remix for "The Shit Is Real." But I don't think too many of y'all were anticipating or fiendin' for whatever Fat Joe might drop next. Well, it's '95 and the big man's back, representin' with Jealous One's Envy. "Bronxtale" opens the music saga. A very polite KRS-One requests, "Music please," and the Kings of the Boogie Down proceed to rip the track, accompanied by a skipping, slightly off-beat, deliberately played bassline, and chiming, almost serene, organ-like hits. Fat Joe has definitely upped the lyrical ante, as demonstrated by the next joint, "Success." An upright sounding bass and a constant hard snare are layered by lingering keys and orchestral string sounds. Crisp and precise, Joe puts forth the hustler's national anthem: "hustling is the key to success, money is the key to sex." Watch the video for "Success" below, the sticker up above, as well. Cont'd...

"Envy is a slow, funky, almost bouncy usage of Marvin Gaye's classic "Sexual Healing." It's an ode to life and death, a groove caressed by the angelic crooning of a female voice. The way heads peeped Biggie's remix of "One More Chance" should definitely have them fiendin' for some "Envy" flavor ... Other standout tracks include "Watch Out," which features Joe's crew - Armageddon, Big Dog Punisher and Keith Nut - "Bronx Keeps Creating," a joint that transports you to the New York borough wars on wax circa 1986, and "Fat Joe's In Town," which asks you to "keep this rap shit true" and brilliantly uses Raphael Saadiq vocalizing "that's all I ask of you" as the response. All you can say is phat lyrics, phat production, Fat Joe." - The Source, November 1995. Full review is below.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Blahzay Blahzay "Danger" (Review, 1995)

Blahzay Blahzay is the Brooklyn duo of PF Cuttin (producer/DJ) & Outloud (MC). Their underground smash "Danger" was a huge success from their debut album in '96, "Blah Blah Blah." The single was featured by The Source as one of their Sure Shot Singles in November, 1995. "After Jeru The Damaja dropped "Come Clean," he began to cast a long shadow over hip-hop music. To wack MCs, he is a physical embodiment of the music's conscience. Few in hip-hop can deny that Tha Damaja has the verbal gymnastics to move a crowd, which may explain why Brooklyn neighbors Blahzay Blahzay wisely count him among their influences and present their take on what may fast become the "East (New York)" sound." Check out the video for "Danger" and continue reading below...

"Blahzay's baritone Outloud takes it to the streets of Brooklyn with a multi-part warning of trife endeavors: rowdy teens spit razors, shoes are stolen, crackheads go all out for lucci and gunfights are daily operation. "Danger" pushes the point that modern hip-hop itself is in "danger" of respecting gun violence over lyrical skills. Rousing and powerful, "Danger" offers a more grassroots alternative to the odious ilk currently dragging a once respectable art form away from it's time-honored roots. Production wise PF Cuttin's track captures the essence of simplicity that make various records from the 1980s perfectly enjoyable today in the 90s: loud insistent drums uncluttered by unnecessary instrumentation. Blahzay Blahzay, who offer their own brand of "downtown science," may find home with fans of cerebral lyrics." Full review in The Source is below.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Gang Starr in Hip Hop Connection (1992)

Gang Starr DJ Premier Guru Hip Hop Connection 1992
Gang Starr DJ Premier Guru Hip Hop Connection 1992
Gang Starr DJ Premier Guru Hip Hop Connection 1992

'Shining Starr'; a Gang Starr feature in the April, 1992 issue of Hip Hop Connection. 'Daily Operation' being one of my favorite albums, I always enjoy going back and reading this article. Guru offers some back story on select tracks, lyrics he likes and straightens out the record on certain rumors. 'We want to keep it like it was back in the days. Turntables, mic and rockin' it straight up live.' For sure, I've always seen DJ Premier do his cuts live and they perfected turning two turntables and a mic into all they'd ever need. I look forward to the day when Premo can officially open up those vaults and share gems from back in the day. In the meantime, DJ Premier still reppin' for Gang Starr & there's a catalog of music to go back and enjoy. RIP, Guru!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pudgee The Phat Bastard "Think Big" 12" (1995)

Pudgee The Phat Bastard's "Think Big" was an unofficial, yet official release in 1995. With a personal relationship with B.I.G., they collaborated on a joint called "Think Big." The Bronx MC had production from Minnesota of the Money Boss Players, as well as Lord Tariq & Sadat X (depending on which version you get). Oddly, the original bootlegs do not list Biggie on the record, just Lord Tariq and in some releases, Biggie's verse is replaced by Sadat X.  Nevertheless, the track was not cleared for official release, because Layla Hathaway allegedly wouldn't clear the sample for the record. With Biggie's "Ready To Die" being released in the Fall of '94 and being on top of the world, you do what any sane person (or label) would do, bootleg the record, right? It's "odd" that "Think B.I.G." was used to promote "Life After Death" years later (see above) ... but I digress. The lyrics Biggie spit were ferocious to say the least; he certainly did not phone in his feature with Pudgee The Phat Bastard.

Whether it was the misfortune of sample clearances, an album that got shelved, or Fatal wrongly putting Pudgee's name in his mouth over a disagreement over who wrote Fatal's verse to "Live at the BBQ," the 90s could have been better to Pudgee The Phat Bastard. That said, with his album "Unreleased 92-98" finally being released on Back 2 Da Source Records (Belgium), hopefully there's some resolve there. Let me also say, the project is dope! It's got production from Nick Wiz & Trackmasters on multiple tracks, as well as Dr Ceuss, of course Minnesota (although no Biggie) and vocal features from some classic artists like Missy, Sadat X, Lord Tariq, and fan favorites Da King & I and Trends of Culture. Dig into the original 12" of "Think Big" below and cop his new CD HERE

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jakk Wonders "Good Kid M.A.A.D. Flip" (Beat Tape)

October 22nd 2015 marked the 3 year anniversary of Kendrick Lamar's critically acclaimed debut album ''good kid, m.A.A.d city''. In honor of the albums anniversary, South African beatsmith Jakk Wonders flipped 4 of the samples that appeared on the young Compton rappers album. The 4 track beat tape includes flipped samples of Poetic Justice, The Recipe, Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe and Compton. Hard at work, stream another dope beat tape from Jakk Wonders below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

J.Period "The Best Of The Roots" (Hosted by Black Thought)

"Called "the best Roots mixtape ever" by The Source Magazine and named's "Best Mixtapes of the Year 2006", J.PERIOD's official Best of the Roots is a one-of-a-kind collector’s item and a must-have for any fan of the best band in hip hop. Packed with over 50 tracks of Roots classics, rarities and exclusive J.PERIOD remixes, The Best of the Roots also features 6 exclusive new Black Thought freestyles and original tracks produced by J.PERIOD. Guest appearances from standout Roots crew members, plus Jay-Z, Rakim, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Big Pun, and more."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reflection Eternal "Train of Thought" (2000)

"There's something wonderful about an MC who can make you think. Unfortunately, at times, they seem to be part of a dying breed. But Talib Kweli, the other half of Black Star is such an MC. After being in the shadow of the charismatic Mos Def, Talib defines himself as an artist in his own right with his debut, Reflection Eternal. Talib has an invaluable gift; a rapid-fire flow that's extremely audible and easy to follow. His rhymes seem conversational, filled with anecdotal instances, like a friend setting up a great story. His grade school teachers would be proud. Unlike some marble-mouth MCs, Talib learned how to e-nun-ci-ate. So although some of Reflection''s subjects may seem heavy (Black history, activism, politics), the words are smoothly digestible." Listen to "The Blast" ...

"Hi-Tek proves the dramatic musical backdrop to Talib's honest and revealing rhymes. Horn blasts set off the album on "Experience Dedication," while thumping, larger-than-life production dominates throughout ("Move Something" and "This Means You"). Even the tracks that deviate most from Hi-Tek's signature crisp, grandiose beats give this set its depth. A few such standouts are "Too Late," with its unusual world-music vibe and multi-layered instrumentation, and the ethereal, organic bumps of "The Blast" and "Love Language." The latter contains Talib's exploration of the fundamental emotional differences between men and women, and observations about romantic frustrations that seem more first person than third..." Cont'd below, and check the 2-page advert from Rawkus...

"Much of Talib's lyrical content revolves around attacking and mentally intimidating wack MCs, of whom he's particularly wary ... Ghostwriting requests aside, Talib might as well get used to the jealousy and envy. After all, who wouldn't want to be a thinking-person's MC?" - The Source 12/00