Monday, November 30, 2015

Pearl Gates "Diamond Mind" (EP Stream)


"In a setting dominated by crime, mis-education and economic hardship, Pearl Gates' third eye deflects darkness and spotlights the powers of thought on his debut EP "Diamond Mind". While finessing East Coast rap over edgy boom bap production, Gates invites the listener in to the process of excavating raw gems from even the rockiest surroundings. “Diamond Mind” features production from Khrysis of Justus League (9th Wonder) fame, Kic Beats, Sirplus, and M Stacks. Artists featured include Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Stricklin and more." Listen to the EP below...

Monday, November 30, 2015

Chuck Strangers "Albee Square" (Instrumental Album)


Where Brooklyn at? Shouts to Albee Square (Mall). Chuck Strangers of Pro Era keeps his focus on production, dropping this "Albee Square" beat tape to pay tribute to memories of a space in time. The 13 instrumentals create a nice vibe wrapped in dusty, lo-fi loops. Catch the vibe below...

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mic Geronimo "The Natural" (The Source, 12/95)


"Comin' straight outta "crazy ass Queens" is Mic Geronimo. The latest soldier of the Queens revolution opened heads up with "Shit's Real" a short while back. Now he returns with his long anticipated debut, The Natural. Close listening is a requisite for nearly all of Mic's songs. Slip, and you could miss the entire theme. He's the intricately abstract. Mic's got that Nas, Mobb Deep type flow, but he brings more cadence and expressiveness in his delivery - one that shines on the prior single release, "Masta I.C." Smooth melodic xylophone textures chime in and out as the beat drops and the hook flows: "I'm so high, you so high / I'll be gettin' money 'til the day that I die." Cont'd...


"The album also has a phat remix of Masta I.C." that hits you with totally new dimensions: female vocals, a phat guitar lick and the lyrical prowess of the Lost Boyz' Mr. Cheeks and Freaky Tah. Mic's call and response hooks work for most of the album, but at times the flava becomes monotonous. One workable exception is "Wherever You Are." The joint coats crisp handclap drums with a deliberate bassline and a smooth guitar. Mic the player gots to get high, chill, party with the ladies, have fun with the crew, and if need be, handle his business. Other cuts to peep are "Three Stories High," "Sharane," a phat toe tapper about a shorty goin' for the gusto and "Men vs. Many," which features lyrical appearances by O.C. and Royal Flush. Tho' The Natural possesses an overabundance of skits and intros, Mic Geronimo delivers enough flavors to prove that shit's real..." - The Source.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Noreaga "Next" (Vibe Magazine, June/July 1998)


"Whut! Whut! exclaims the 20-year-old Victor "Noreaga" Santiago. "It's the slogan I got everyone saying and feeling. It's like What! Whatever! That's the attitude I'm taking." And judging from Noreaga's recent rhyming blitz (including appearances on everything from the Firm's recent "I'm Leaving" to Big Punisher's debut album) and his upcoming solo album, N.O.R.E. (Penalty), that's a whole lot of attitude to check for. "I never had a real job in my life until I signed to a record label," says the half-black / half-Puerto Rican native of Queens who got his first job on the street - running crack at age eight. His premature initiation into a life of crime eventually ended in '91 with an attempted murder conviction for shooting someone in Queens - right after seeing the movie Juice. During his three-and-half-year bid at Green Haven Correctional Facility, Noreaga befriended future CNN (Capone-N-Noreaga) rhyme partner Capone. "I was in a cell, and the only thing that kept me moving was music," Noreaga says. "Hip-Hop is the thing that had me going in jail." 


After his release, he and Capone strong-armed their way onto the scene with their '96 indie single "LA LA" (the East Coast counterstrike to the Dogg Pound's New York New York") and their searing debut album of the same year, The War Report (Penalty). "Nore is the closest thing to Tupac since he died," declares Lance "Un" Rivera, Untertainment Records mogul / hip-hop impresario. "His perception of being a star is what the streets is lacking right now. He's coming across as the brotha that'll say, "Yo, I don't give a f#ck, my rhyme style and lyrics is for brothas on the street, and it ain't for nobody else." And as if rhyming for his fellow street dwellers wasn't enough work, Nore has even helped carpet New York City with his self-designed promotional sticker campaign. "I gotta lot of energy in me," says Noreaga, revealing the significance behind his acronymically titled solo album, N!ggas on the Run Eatin'. "I feel like if I'ma be the rapper to come out from my 'hood, I'ma destroy it. I'm too hungry." Open wide, it's time to feast. (II)" - Vibe, June/July 1998.

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.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien "No Need For Alarm" (Rap Pages, 11/93)


"Del tha Funke Homosapien burst into the world of Hip-Hop a full two years ago with his dope-if-often puzzling debut I Wish My Brotha George Was Here. As a cousin of Cube and a member of the Street Knowledge posse, he was given a suitably P-Funky birth. In '93, he returns with his sophomore effort No Need For Alarm. Both Cube and Pooh are long gone from the production credits, and they have taken George and the funk with them. What is left behind on ... Alarm is experimental, difficult and original - this is an album for the hardcore b-boys. Del has the ability to choose odd, quirky beats and has developed a real skill for fast drum matching abstract lyrics. The often-preachy tone of his debut album has been replaced by "a new way to say what is clever," to quote the opening track, "You're in Shambles." In the last year, nongangster Hip-Hop has blossomed in the Bay Area. Both FM20 and the Hieroglyphics (Souls of Mischief, Hobo Junction and Casual) have captured many eyes and ears with their brands of West Coast b-boyism. Del has been very instrumental in this. Many hope that this album will confirm Del's spot at the top of the heap..."


"No Need For Alarm bristles with tight bass lines, jangling pianos, stiff snares and even an occasional cello - you will not have heard any of these beats before. Lyrically, Del has moved into styling, and conceptually he covers the territory of MC concerns in ways that are often new and humorous. "Check It Out" tells of a bad review he received from a dull, too-critical bitch writer. "Wrong Place" tells of the perils of living in close proximity to continual gun-play. For my money the fattest track on here is the posse cut "No More Worries" - a straight Bay Area open-mike session. Del gets mad dap for originality and for sticking to the difficult path of expanding the music. This album is definitely worth the duckets - the more I listen, the more I like." - Rap Pages, November 1993.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Foul Mouth "Winner Takes All" (Instrumental Album)


Foul Mouth season has returned! “Winner Takes All” is the highly anticipated follow up to last year’s PIK beat tape “Soul Louis.” This is a continuation of the head nodding, face scrunching soul infused production Foul Mouth has become known for and includes 15 slaps containing Soul/R&B sources, hard drums and ill transitions. Don’t sleep! Cassettes are limited to 100 copies, listen below...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eternia "Eternia-ly Yours From The Block" (Daily News, 2010)


"SHE LOOKS like the girl next door but she sounds like she'd knock your teeth out. Quick-tongued hip-hop artist Silk Kaya, who performs as Eternia, has a knack for rhymes and said she found a home in Astoria four years ago after responding to a craiglist ad. Since then she has earned a record deal and recently filmed a series of short music videos titled "Queens Chronicles" in which she offers a glimpse into the neighborhood she fell in love with. "It picked me, I didn't pick it. It was kind of fate," Kaya said. "What it's become to me is a family, a neighborhood, a home, and a place that I don't want to leave." But what makes Kaya so compelling it that she doesn't fit many rapper stereotypes, even though she has shared a stage with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Common."


"Her posse is the middle-aged Italians from her neighborhood whom she calls her family. She packs heat in the form of a Bible and an aqua blue marble notebook that she has filled with verses about deeply personal subjects like domestic violence and abuse. She takes pride in her thrift store wardrobe and jokes that she rifles through the racks in search of her next name-brand bargain every day. "A lot of rappers don't want to be vulnerable. I like being vulnerable," Kaya said. "My music is really life-based, so everything I write about is a diary entry," she added. But Kaya swears she isn't baring her soul for the sake of fortune or fame. "Money is not really the ulterior goal for me. It's just cool to be admired by people I admire," Kaya said. She has already earned that respect of her neighbors, who were awed by her makeshift "Queens Chronicles" performance, which she admits "could have easily gotten shut down." Roberto Merendino, who is featured in the second installment of the three-part series, thinks Kaya is destined for big things. "I think she's going to make it to Hollywood one day," Merendino, 47, said." Cont'd below + Queens Chronicles, parts 2 and 3...


"Others just hope she doesn't forget her roots if her talents as a rapper catapult her to stardom. "I hope she doesn't forget us when she gets big," said life-long Astoria resident Bill Anastassatos. Next week Kaya departs for a European tour through Italy, France, and Germany that will run through the middle of December. Once she's back in the US, you can bet she'll be back to chatting with her neighbors, sifting through piles of bargain basement clothes and chronicling life in Astoria with her sharp tongue and blue-collar approach to hip hop." New York Daily News, 2010.


Printed in the New York Daily News on November 23, 2010 (5 yrs ago today). 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Capone-N-Noreaga "The Reunion" (Vibe, 10/00)


"It's been a long time since we've heard Capone and Noreaga together on one album. After their debut, The War Report, dropped in 1997, Capone's legal problems landed him back on the Rock while Nore made a rap star out of himself with two solo records. The Reunion rekindles the magic that first made people love them. This time, CNN are more polished but no less thugged out. Case in point: "Bang Bang" is a chaotic mix of sampled voices and machine-filtered beats with "We're gonna thug this shit out" as a hook. "Gunz and Cash" and "Brothers" mesh smacking snares, solemn bass lines, and spaghetti western-style strings into a hood's-eye view of the wild streets of CNN's hometown, Queens, N.Y." Check out the visuals to "Y'all Don't Wanna" (Updated) // cont'd below...


"CNN show some thematic versatility on songs like "Phone Time" - a faux phone conversation from jail that muffles Capone's voice like the Firm's "Phone Tap" - and "Full Steezy," his ruffneck ballad. Fans of Capone's monotone style and graphic lyrics will be disappointed by his limited appearances on the album, and CNN's standard thug chants get a bit tiring, but overall the duo gives us the volatility we all expect." - Vibe, October 2000. You can check the full review below...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wu-Tang Clan "The W" (Vibe, January 2001)


"Remember hip-hop? It was the sound of the streets - rough, rugged, raw, and real - in that you could feel it tickling your neckbone and making it snap. Hip Hop was like crack: The more you heard it, the more you wanted it. Such was the attraction of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the Wu-Tang grimy 1993 debut. In a climate of gangsta posing, the Wu rose from obscurity to steal the hearts of rap fans with their uncompromising brand of hardcore hip hop - reminiscent of rap from 1986-1998. They unleashed that unpolished sound from the basement, sprayed the Billboard charts with bullets, and became the darlings of the rap world.... On The W, Wu-Tang bring it back to the gutter, where it all began, serving up some good ol' New York hip hop in a way that on the Wu can. The W is a dense, demented, 15-song opus that will draw comparisons to the now classic 36 Chambers. One thing that sets this collection apart from practically every other Wu release since 1997, though, is the RZA, who produced the entire album. Whether it's the overmodulated bass shudder on "Let My N!ggas Live" or the offbeat organ riffing on "Redbull," RZA always introduces something different into the mic, layering his tracks like Duncan Hines. Also, while other producers appropriate whole keyboard demo tracks and call it live music, RZA's chops have greatly improved...."


"The guest list on this album also separates it from more recent Wu fare, Nas ("Let My N!ggas Live"), Redman ("Redbull"), reggae singer Junior Reid ("One Blood"), and legendary soul brother Isaac Hayes ("I Can't Go To Sleep") lend their lyrical support. The latter track is a six-minute reworking of Hayes' classic hit "Walk On By," featuring spoken-word vocal stylings by Ghostface Killah, RZA, and Hayes himself. But, in reality, this album belongs to the Clan, who are hungrier than ever on this effort. Redeeming himself from a disappointing second solo effort, Raekwon sounds like the pro we know on "Hollow Bones" ... This album goes against the grain of everything that's going on in rap right now. But if originality, innovation, and a mastery of the fundamentals of beats and rhymes still mean something to people, then The W stands for "winner." - Vibe, January 2001. Do you agree? I didn't.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mobb Deep "Hell On Earth" (The Source, 12/96)


"...You should be aware of two ying-yangish type facts: hip-hop's preoccupation with the gangsta aesthetic is problematic, and Mobb Deep are probably the most intense, most authentic, most powerful practitioners of a specifically Eastern hardcore feel to touch the mic this decade! The duo's second effort, Hell On Earth, is a tour de force. All of the elements that the Mobb have been lauded for - Havoc's pulsing production, P's icily cold poetics, and a creeping sense of aggression that invests the most herb-ivore type n!gga with temporary ice-grill capacity - have been taken to new heights; creating an album that, although lacking a single shot with the body-rocking power of "Shook Ones Pt.2." is a more comprehensive effort than their classic debut. To put it simply, them n!ggas have just gotten better." You can check out visuals to the apocalyptic "G.O.D. Part III" below...


"A Mobb Deep album ain't complete without mad referencing of QBC. The Bridge pervades the album, not only in a contextual sense, but also through the flavorful blessings of several of the Mobb crew, including the infamous Rapper Noyd. Labelmate Raekwon ("Nighttime Vultures"), Wu-Banger Method Man ("Extortion"), and Bridge Messiah Nas ("Give It Up Fast") also add their particular verbal alchemy to the mix.... But this is still a thoroughly Mobb joint, with all its angst-causing glory. 'Cause for every gun skit and sliced-grill, there's a solemn refrain - "I'm tired of living life this way / Crime pays but for how long?" from "Animal Instinct" - and moments of sheer joy in being moved by hip-hop's power. In the end, Mobb Deep may not be the site upon which to resolve the schisms in hip-hop's soul, but them two two brothas shake, rattle and roll said soul like no one else." - The Source, December 1996. (Updated: video changed) // Full review is 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.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Notorious B.I.G. "Rap Phenomenon" (Mixtape, 2002)


The first of two "Rap Phenomenon" mixes, honoring hip-hop legends back in '02-03. This is obviously The Notorious B.I.G., and the second installment is 2Pac. Both are timeless, classic mix tapes. Dirty Harry has always been one of my favorite DJs; his blends were always on-point - he linked with DJ Vlad, then known as the Butcher and now a media mogul in his own right with VladTV. There's not much to say here, it's one of the best Biggie mixtapes you can listen to, leaning more towards blends and rare content, as opposed to Mister Cee, who probably has the definitive Biggie mixtape running through his whole catalog. Give it a listen below. Rest In Peace, Biggie. (Updated: new audio link).

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.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Pharcyde "Labcabincalifornia" (The Source, 12/95)


"Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was a freestyle session inside a house party, a bubbling mix of ill beats and samples, blunted interludes and endless lyrical gymnastics. The debut introduced us to four sharp-tongued MCs who injected honesty and their own brand of freaky humor into topics not usually touched upon in hip-hop: rejection, fear, even masturbation and herpes. But enormous success and its pressures can be overwhelming, especially if you're more concerned about artistic development and maturity than fame and fortune. Labcabincalifornia is much darker than the Pharcyde's first LP, detailing the strains and stresses of stardom, and the group's struggle to stay true to themselves." Check out the J Dilla-proudced "Runnin," cont'd below... (link updated).


"The first three cuts introduce the theme of the album and reveal the group's new musical direction. "Bullshit" and "Pharcyde" are about people who look to others instead of doing for self. "Groupie Therapy" is the first of many joints about female trouble. The production is more straightforward than on Bizarre Ride, with the focus on big bass and drum kicks amongst subtle layers of keyboards and vocal samples. "Runnin'" may be the best example of their new sonic style, a truly beautiful hip-hop song where the distinct elastic flow of each MC weaves over a Spanish-flavored guitar loop and sax sample. But the track that resonates deepest here is "Devil Music." The chorus - "Every time I step to the microphone / I put my soul on two-inch reels that I don't even own" - is a wake up call for every single musician. The Pharcyde's Devil takes several forms: the greedy companies that suck artists' money, the powers that be who want to squash all individuality. But although they know they've sold their souls to him, the Pharcyde are in a constant struggle against this Devil. Labcabincalifornia reflects that effort to establish creative freedom and control. Some might still think of them as the jokers of Bizarre Ride. But they've transcended that image. So while the Devil continues to breathe down their necks, the Pharcyde have used honesty and intelligence to defeat him this time around." - The Source, 12/95.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Roots "Illadelph Halflife" (CMJ, 12/96)


"While many hip-hop and jazz artists were exploring the common ground between the genres, Philadelphia's Roots went one stop further by combining them, approaching the languages of rap and jazz as equal counterparts instead of distant relatives on Do You Want More?!!!??! Eschewing samplers and turntables in favor of a live band, the Roots had the tricky task of winning respect as qualified rappers despite folding their rhymes in abstract, yet forceful jazz motifs. On Illadelph Halflife, the group has, praise God, decided not to make the same record twice. Busting out of the shady corner of a jazz club, Malik B. and Black Thought have made an album that's an unrelenting display of chest-beating rhymes at the fore, with occasional bizarre production twists tossed in for depth and complexity." Check out the visuals to their hit single, "What They Do," cont'd below...


"Right off the bat, "Respond React" keys the listener into its cerebral street style: With titanic beats and a light, melodic layer of jazzy sounds, the cut, like much of the album, features atmospheres in which Malik and Black Thought exhibit their supreme skills, presenting universal hip-hop themes while illustrating life on South Philly streets. Although it's not immediately evident, this is a deep, complex work for the group, and it's the Roots' insatiable desire to grow that makes this such a triumphant release." - CMJ New Music Monthly, November 1996...

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

A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Marauders" (HHC, 11/93)


"It's often said that the second album is always the most difficult. But after the walk-over that was "Low End Theory," surely A Tribe Called Quest must have been in something of a quandry as to what to do with number three. Nah, of course they weren't ... "Midnight Marauders" is somehow exactly what you'd expect as the next step in Quest's quest. It's not as stripped down as "Low End..." or as flamboyant as "People's Instinctive Travels," falling somewhere perfectly in between. They've pretty much left the jazz thing alone for this one, preferring beautifully clipped beats coupled with tidy, whimsical basslines.  The first single, "Award Tour," is truly phat, with a wicked chorus-type bit and some of Q-Tip's best shit to date..." Check out the visuals, cont'd below...


"The concept behind the between-track foolishness is typically bizarre. A broken up female voice explains various things, such as the meaning of the title (seven times out of ten we listen to our music at night, and this particular music is meant to be marauding our ears), and other interesting facts, so, yeah they're still crayyyyyze. Generally, though, the lyrics are harder than before, with, for example, Phife sounding positively miserable on "8 Million Stories" and a general dis to frontin' emcees and sell-outs with "Sucka N!gga." "Midnight Marauders" rolls steadily from start to finish and carries real weight all the way. Stylistically, Quest have grown  somewhat tougher, both in terms of their music and their words, and it suits them. They still speak with Native Tongues, but the language has become much more complex." - Hip-Hop Connection, November 1993.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Doo Wop "95 Live" (Mixtape, 1995)


Originally released in the winter of 1995, Doo Wop's "95 Live" is one of the classic mix tapes that changed the game. One of the first street mix tapes to include exclusive freestyles from so many MCs: from Keith Murray to Q-Tip; Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, M.O.P., Guru (R.I.P.), Wu-Tang Clan, and much more. In addition, it features some of the hottest tracks of '95 with Nine, KRS-One, Jay-Z, Method Man, Mobb Deep, Biggie, Nas, Lord Finesse and even the underground gem, "Funky Piano," by the E. Bros. It's an undeniable classic, so let's honor it 20 years later. Revisit it below...

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!

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Goobie Mob "Soul Food" (XXL, Classic Material)


"Midway through the '90s, hip-hop's plate consisted mainly of two flavors - East Coast lyrical bravado and West Coast gangsta tales. The South, at the time, was still seen as a condiment - good to add, but not always needed. But every so often, an artist or group from below the Mason-Dixon Line would emerge and whet the people's appetite. Composed of Robert "T-Mo" Barnett, Thomas "Cee-Lo" Callaway, Cameron "Big Gipp" Gipp and Willie "Khujo" Knighton Jr., Goodie Mob blended the alley, the church and the school into one necessary concoction, their 1995 debut, Soul Food. "We said we gonna do great shit on all ends of the spectrum so no one could diss us," says Gipp. "We showed the people who dissed [the South], the ones who said we ain't rapping about nothing, that we are rapping about something. But are you smart enough to listen? Originally an Organized Noize-helmed compilation project, Soul Food was to feature the OutKast production team's new crop of artists: T-Mo and Khujo as a duo and Cee-Lo and Gipp as solo rappers." Cont'd below... 


"...But during the recording process, a strong musical chemistry formed, and the four A-Town rappers christened themselves Goodie Mob (Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit). Impressed with the guys' cameo verses... L.A. Reid signed the group to LaFace Records in 1994. They thought we was gonna be more like OutKast. I think that's what initiated the deal," laughs Cee-Lo. "We was nothin' like them, but after we was done with the album, they was kinda stuck with us." What they were stuck with was an organic album that painted the gritty, not-so-playalistic side of Atlanta and literally made the South dirty." The feature below in XXL adds, "With the region they helped build now eating good, the G-Mob shares the ingredients of their classic" discussing "Cell Therapy," "Thought Process," "Dirty South," and "Soul Food" from Goodie Mob's classic, Soul Food." 

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!