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.