Monday, March 30, 2015

Jean Grae x NPR "Microphone Check"

Hi, Jeannie! "Jean Grae is a rapper, a singer, a writer, a comedian and an actress. She doesn't run out of ideas. Her most recent album is called That's Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults. She spoke to Microphone Check about her campaign to help people be better, Michael McDonald and why she's moving to Los Angeles." There aren't words to describe, Jean... ok, there probably are, but they are in her dictionary & I simply just don't have access to it ... just listen.

Monday, March 30, 2015

DJ Daddy Dog "Vibe With The Tribe" (Mix)

DJ Daddy Dog of the Almighty 5th Platoon released a 33-track, "Vibe With The Tribe," mixtape some years back & to this date, it is still one of the most definitive best-of mixes for A Tribe Called Quest. It's got the hits, the deeper album cuts and a few remixes thrown in for good measure, it's real solid, we had copies over at Fat Beats and listened to it from time to time. Shouts to Neil Armstrong, too. Dig into the best of A Tribe Called Quest, Vibe with the Tribe...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Graf Cratedigger "Journey / Evolution" (Album Stream)

"Queen Size Records is pleased to announce the arrival of Graf Cratedigger's new creation "Journey / Evolution." This time Graf has decided to take you on a spectacular 33 RPM trip to the unknown. The main concept behind the album can be expressed by the equation: Journey = Evolution = Searchin’ = Creadiggin.' Graf Cratedigger is joined by live musicians, DJ's and MC's from Poland, USA and Canada. The spectacular artwork and visual presentation is the creation of Sainer from Etam Cru. The album is released on chocolate colour vinyl and comes with a large poster and download code for high quality digital format. Chocolate vinyl edition is limited to: 100 copies."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tripps "New York, NY" 12" (1995)

With production from Jim Nice, this is a fresh 12" that was released in 1995 on Echo International. The B-Side wins again with "New York, N.Y.," a Brooklyn (Ocean Ave) banger with obvious comparisons to the aggression and delivery of the Mash Out Posse. "Rage" is a nice track too, but the beat is a little too busy for me, although I do like the "Top Billin" vocal sample on the hook. Echo International released a bunch of singles from the mid-to-late 90s, including the Gravediggaz, Hell Razah, Ram Squad, Sunz of Man, Chill Rob G, Wise Intelligent, and among lots of others, Cover & the C.O.D. Crew, which I've discussed here, so I'm just following my own advice and following the breadcrumbs. Even though I still don't know much about the record all these years later, I can still point you in the direction where you can do your own diggin' and find solid records along the way. Listen below.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dirt Platoon "Bare Face Robbery" (Album Stream)

The Baltimore duo Dirt Platoon (Raf Almighty & Snook Da Crook) are back with another Effiscienz release, an LP entitled "Bare Face Robbery." Coming off the strength of their buzzworthy EP, "Start Ya Bids," the duo returns with more confidence & enlists a wider range of production on their 13-track offering. Producers like DJ Low Cut, Tom Delay, DJ Brans, and Macabeats, along with features from Nutso & Fel Sweetenbeg is on the mic & behind the boards. This LP will get a lot of love in the underground, it's got that familiar gritty sound that serves its niche fanbase well. Listen below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Earl Sweatshirt x NPR "Microphone Check"

"The 21-year-old spoke with Microphone Check in Austin, Texas, during SXSW a couple days before the release of his second major label album. He says he feels like I Don't Like S---, I Don't Go Outside is really his first album, though. "This is the first thing that I've said that I fully stand behind, like the good and the bad of it," he says. "I've never been this transparent with myself or with music. I've never been behind myself this much."" Listen below to learn more about Earl.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kendrick Lamar "To Pimp A Butterfly" (Album Stream)

Kendrick Lamar has redefined the art of rap and taken steps to showcase its true poetic nature. "To Pimp A Butterfly" is yet another album from the Compton, California native that is bursting with honest verses, all delivered with raw emotion. Socially conscious, intelligent and relatable, this album cannot be missed. It may not everyone's cup of tea, but it is for everyone ... to hear, appreciate and celebrate, because we do have genius in Hip-Hop & his win is our win. To that end, stream "To Pimp A Butterfly" below, and watch closely how it will shift the culture yet again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Heather B “My Kinda N#gga” 12” (1996)

Back in the early 90s, Heather B was down with the legendary Boogie Down Productions. With that, this 12” had production from Kenny Parker of the BDP and brother to KRS-One. Along with the classic golden era single, “All Glocks Down,” there were three 12” releases before Heather B & Pendulum Records got to the release of this M.O.P.-featured 12”, “My Kinda N#gga.” All in support of her debut album, "Takin Mine" in 1996. There was a video for this single, as well as “All Glocks Down,” I’m not sure if the others did as well? Heather B released a second album in 2002 called “Eternal Affairs.” Heather B later became a household name as a housemate on MTV’s Real World series, and has been a co-host on Sway in The Morning for a hot minute, as well. As a fun fact: Heather B is married to Horse from the Bravehearts, who she happened to meet on the subway 15+ years ago. I know she was working on music with DJ Premier, MoSS, and other heavyweight producers in 2010 because I heard some of it at an interview we did together up at NYU. Hopefully it's still coming. Now, back to '96, this is some classic 90s East Coast Hip-Hop. Listen below.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sa-Roc "The Legend Of Black Moses" (Mixtape)

After months of anticipation, ATL-bred femme fatale Sa-Roc is finally here to go after all of your favorite rappers on her knockout 19-track The Legend Of Black Moses mixtape. Named after one of history’s most important freedom fighters, Harriet Tubman, the album turns conventional rap on its head, as the title and theme reimagines MC as liberator and liberator as superhero. Touching notes of vulnerability lead to piercing tones of bravado as track for track, Sa-Roc challenges MCs to step their bars up. From clever puns to repurposed hooks, “Black Moses”, leaves no doubt about the inevitable-Sa-Roc is a legend in the making. If you’re still unfamiliar with the the God Hop Queen, it’s time to get properly acquainted. Stream Sa-Roc’s The Legend Of Black Moses tape below and hit the tags for more Sa-Roc content. (Update: Sa-Roc's streaming link was taken down, but you can still listen HERE or download the mixtape HERE.) In the meantime, while you're here, check out the visuals for "Between Friends," a stand-out track from the project, produced by Flying Lotus.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Tribe Called Quest "The Low End Theory" (HHC, 12/91)

"In some ways, A Tribe Called Quest are more exciting than either the Jungle Brothers or De La. The quality and depth of Quest's rapping goes a lot further than anything on 'De La Is Dead' and the JB's career seems to have stalled somewhat. Indeed, rumors Warners US dropping the Brothers indicates the failure of rap in '91 to meet its previous success. To a large extent, hip-hop is going underground in the States - a fact that I, for one, welcome. If you need proof of rap's concern with its own survival then you should turn to "The Low End Theory." Without making a meal of it, Quest throw down some of the funkiest grooves I've heard all year and from the brilliantly executive one-two of the first cuts ('Excursions' and 'Buggin Out') right through the second side, Tribe come through with a no-frills rap album. This record isn't going to win them a massive pop audience - unless Jive go radically against their wishes with a radical remix - but Tribe have never been about that stuff anyway." Check the visuals to ATCQ's "Scenario," continued below...

"What The Low End Theory will do is re-establish their core rap audience and make the bond even stronger, proving that they're the foremost rhymers of the moment (to wit, "industry rule number four thousand and eighty / record company people are shadeeee"). The music is pretty much what you'd expect from a crew who make a lot of their jazz connections, but the dual execution of beat and rhyme makes for an album that will stand the test of time. A classic." - HHC (12/91)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Slaine "House Of Slaine" (Mixtape)

For the Love of the Irish: Slaine has teamed up with Danny Boy, DJ Lethal and DJ Frank White to pay homage to House of Pain with his aptly titled "House of Slaine" mixtape. The mix features Ill Bill, Termanology, Apathy, Sick Jacken, Ras Kass, Sean Price, and more. Stream it below via YouTube, but I recommend grabbing the Download HERE, while it's still available. Props to Slaine.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shadez of Brooklyn "Tape Sampler" (1996, Hosted by Evil Dee)

Here's the original DJ Evil Dee sampler of Bushwick's Shadez of Brooklyn crew, consisting of Chocolate Tye, Tee Black, Reverend Al, Rambo, and production from Da Beatminerz. The 2-sided sampler features the smash, "Change," a live freestyle, "When It Rains It Pours," a freestyle up at Hot 97, as well as an interview with Funkmaster Flex. The B-Side features a remix of "Return of the Mack" and "Slow It Down," then back into joints like "Wanted Men," "Pandemonium," "Under Pressure" and closes out with a final freestyle. With the host extraordinaire, DJ Evil Dee on the mic and the mix, it's a dope listen from start to finish. Check it out! (Update: new stream added below).

Monday, March 16, 2015

DJ Apollo "Definition of Ill" (Mixtape)

Originally released around 2000-2001, "Definition of Ill" was a compilation album from Copastetik Recordings. As a bonus, it added a second disc of the tracks on Disc 1, but as a dope continuous mix from DJ Apollo. The mix from DJ Apollo features groundbreaking tracks from Cali Agents (Rasco and Planet Asia), Peanut Butter Wolf, KutMasta Kurt & Masters of Illusion, Dr. Dooom, Terranova, Phife Dawg, which includes remixes from Rob Swift, Roc Raida, Lord Finesse, The 45 King, DJ Spinna, and more. (Updated: I've added a new better stream from DJ MP45). Listen to the mix below. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mello Music Group "Persona" (Album Stream)

"If the soul of hip-hop belongs to the culture, the skeleton belongs to the independent label. From Sugar Hill to Def Jam, Tommy Boy to Rawkus, Fondle Em to Def Jux, the genre’s best music has been birthed by imprints that brazenly defy the status quo, those who champion fearless artists and always prize quality over commerce. For the last eight years, Mello Music Group has lived by that ethos. If you’re reading these words, you’re inevitably well aware of its ascendance and growing legacy. But more importantly, you know the artists—those singular voices channeling the spirits of the past and spitting premonitions of the future. Boom-bap at its best: evolving and expanding the art form, capturing stories of the struggle, upholding the tradition, and keeping the crooked honest. Persona unveils the murderer’s row that is the Mello roster of 2015. Oddisee, Apollo Brown, yU, L'Orange, Red Pill, Open Mike Eagle, Rapper Big Pooh, Quelle Chris. The stars of the present teamed with timeless innovators like Phonte (Little Brother), Blockhead, Ras Kass, Gift of Gab (Blackalicious), Oh No, Masta Ace, and Bilal Salaam. The result is something that binds current greats with the pioneers who paved the asphalt. It’s both a historical moment and hard as hell." 

Monday, March 09, 2015

DJ Mister Cee "The Best Of Notorious B.I.G." (Mixtape)

Mister Cee's "The Best of Notorious B.I.G." is arguably the definitive Biggie mixtape. The cassette mixtape runs through a lot of rarities in Biggie's early catalog of records. Joints with Super Cat, Mary J. Blige, Red Hot Lover Tone, Crustified Dibbs, Method Man, Heavy D, Da Brat, Big Daddy Kane, Total, Junior Mafia, Pudgee Da Phat Bastard, Eddie F, LL Cool J, & more. The Big Ups from Mister Cee include, "Junior Mafia, D, Puff Daddy, 50 Grand, Matt Life, and all the real muthaph#ckas who's been representing BIG from the beginning." We'll always love Big Poppa ... Rest In Peace, B.I.G.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Notorious B.I.G. "Ready To Die" (The O.G. Edition)

"Even the youngest hip hop fan will know what today means: the eighteenth anniversary of Biggie Smalls’ death. Listen, I’m not here to deliver some long dissertation about his legacy, his influence, his life and times, and anything else I haven’t either written about or read numerous times over. Rather, I’d like to give my own personal toast to Christopher Wallace by revisiting an old mixtape: the “mixtape” version of his seminal debut album, Ready To Die, featuring unreleased demo cuts, the original versions of others, and more ... We miss you, B.I.G." - 2DopeBoyz

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Fab 5 "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" (Review, 1995)

The Fab 5 was a super-group that consisted of Heltah Skeltah (Sean Price & Rockness Monstah) and O.G.C. (Starang Wondah, Louisville Sluggah and Top Dog). As part of the Boot Camp Clik and signed to Duck Down Records, they released their debut 12", "Blah" and "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka" in 1995. The Source covered the single, saying: "When Black Moon first hit the streets, they paved the way for one of the strongest crews ever to come out of Brooklyn. Next up, Smif-N-Wessun. Recently, the names Heltah Skeltah & O.G.C. have been popping up. The two groups represented lovely on "Heads Ain't Ready." Now they've joined forces on a double single - just to let heads know what the future holds. "Leflah Leflour Eskoshka" is unadulterated dope. Don't let the name fool you, the track consists of straight-up, rugged lyrics over a butter-smooth beat. The MCs interact in a way that reminds the listener of a freestyle session where amped heads jump in without allowing the last man to finish his verse. The lyrics are so phat, it's almost impossible to pick out the best ones.... Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. have definitely brought more props to the Boot Camp Clik and Bucktown USA. Can't wait to hear the album." Well, there was no group album ... with the charting success of the single, O.G.C went on to release "Da Storm" and Heltah Skeltah released "Nocturnal" in 1996. 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Awon "Matte Black Soul" (Album Stream)

"...Sometimes I feel like my flesh
Is now speaking to my soul
I understand my purpose
And as long as the earth twist
I'm here to tell the truth
Until I'm underneath the surface
On whatever medium
The antithesis of skinny jeans and shirts that's smedium
Awon bout as real as they come..."

Wooo, catch that 21st Century sample of "Remember The Rain;" it's nicely flipped by Phoniks, and featured on Awon's "Matte Black Soul" LP. Lord knows ... I been old, lol, so I know it's not uncommon to feel like our best days are behind us. Yet, Awon was something of a seasoned vet even before his name caught on, now making waves in the underground bringing maturity, messages with purpose, and lots of soul & jazzy hip-hop with his projects. The blueprint over at Don't Sleep Records is not new, it's just too many artists got jaded or abused by time and veered off course - Phoniks and Awon, however, keep the focus on the music, complementing it with strong visuals, products and packaging + they get themselves overseas where the love is. The industry might be slow to catch on: doing it the right way does work! But then, you can't copy authenticity. (Updated).

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Blu & MED "Bad Neighbor Tour" (Mixtape Stream)

If 25 minutes of choice, tasteful hip-hop is what your morning needs, then Blu and MED are your humble, happy suppliers. The two West Coast MCs combined their dynamic flows and tastes for last year’s Bad Neighbor Tour, and now some of the best material from both artists back catalogs have been seamlessly sewn into a brand new mixtape. Composed by Stones Throw Records affiliate DJ Romes, Bad Neighbor Tour CD, Part 1 is a half hour-long set is a trip through old school soul samples, dusty drums, airtight claps and (of course) both artists top-tier rhyme skills. The set opens with a remix of the duo’s cut “Peroxide” and rolls on through gems like Oh No‘s “Jones’s” and the Mayer Hawthorne/Madlib collab “The Buzz.” Listen below. - via OKP

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Smif-N-Wessun "Dah Shinin" (Rap Pages, 3/95)

"The generals of Bucktown's Boot Camp Clik, Smif-N-Wessun are no one-hit wonders. Ever since debuting on Black Moon's seminal Enta Da Stage, and following their "Bucktown" anthem (easily one  of the biggest crowd-movers in recent memory), Steele and Tek's full-length joint has been eagerly awaited by roughnecks everywhere. Dah Shinin' doesn't disappoint, lightening up the spot from beginning to end with solid cut after cut. The 1-2-3 combination punch of "Wrektime," "Wontime," and "Wreckonize" gets the album going, but it's the ragga-flavored "Sound Bwoy Buriel," featuring Black Moon's Buckshot, that delivers the knockout blow. Relentless grooves wallop ears in this threatening testament to all those suckas at the show. The album's other posse cut, "Cession at the Doghouse," features O.G.C. (Originl Gun Clappaz) and Heltah Skeltah, with Buckshot delivering the chorus like Method Man on the Wu's Da Mystery of Chessboxin'." Peep the visuals to "Sound Bwoy Bureill" ...

"Hellucination," which freaks a fly Minnie Riperton bassline sample and the infamous "Bucktown" drum track, is lyrically the strongest track on the album. "Home Sweet Home" uses the same "We Live In Brooklyn" Roy Ayers classic that's on Digable Planets' latest, but Steele and Tek give it a decisively more hardcore touch. "P.N.C. (Partners 'N' Crime)," the album's finale, is Smif-N-Wessun's "together forever" tribute to fallen friend Sean Grady. Produced exclusively by Da Beatminerz (Mr. Walt, Evil Dee and newcomer Baby Paul), Dah Shinin' establishes Smif-N-Wessun as legitimate artists who took the lead of mentors Black Moon and pushed a distinct New York sound to new heights." - Rap Pages, March 1995. You can save a copy of the full Rap Pages review below...

Monday, March 02, 2015

DJ Mister Cee "That Freestyle Shit EP" (1995)

Before it was released with Tape Kingz in a clear blue cassette, the vinyl for Mister Cee's "That Freestyle Shit" was self-released by Mister Cee in 1994. The classic release - in both formats - kicks off with "The Wickedest;" the infamous freestyle from Biggie, live at Mister Cee's crib. It also has Ol' Dirty Bastard's freestyle live at Big Daddy Kane's video shoot in Lafayette Gardens Projects in Brooklyn; Masta Ace Incorporate live at Firehouse Studios; Finsta Bundy live at Mister Cee's crib, and more freestyles with Keith Murray, Biz Markie & Brand Nubian. Perhaps the most historic freestyle on the release, however, is 2Pac, Big Daddy Kane, Big Scoob, Biggie & Shyheim, live at The Garden! Need I say more? I think not, so dig into That Freestyle Sh!t below.