Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Halftime Show: Method Man & Redman (11/18/98)

Big up to DJ Eclipse, this is 89.1 WNYU, The Halftime Show, on November 18, 1998 with DJ Riz & DJ Eclipse, featuring special guests: Method Man & Redman. In November '98, Red & Mef would have been on their second 'Month of the Man' campaign promoting Method Man's 'Tical 2000: Judgment Day' and Redman's 'Doc's Da Name.' The original campaign was run back in '94 for 'Tical' and 'Dare Iz a Darkside' through Def Jam and they have been going strong ever since with solo and collaborative releases. From DJ Eclipse: "Riz setting the show off and me getting on around 77 minutes in like usual. Mic break at 46:19 and again at 121:37 with guests Redman and Method Man. Not too much talking and then straight to the freestyle (125:07) with Red, Meth, Mr. Loose and La The Darkman. 20+ minute freestyle session right up to the end of the show." They played great underground records throughout, so you'll wanna click play and enjoy the 2-hour show.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Masta Ace "Jeep Ass Nigguh" (Video)

"Brainiac, dumb-dumb, bust the scientifical / Approach to the course and the force is centrifugal / Can you find ya way through the lyrics that be catching em / Throw another rhyme across the room they be fetching em..." As Masta Ace says, "I got a style I want the whole world to listen to..."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Gravediggaz '6 Feet Deep' (August 9, 1994)

Gravediggaz Publicity Photo RZA Prince Paul
Gravediggaz '6 Feet Deep' (August 9, 1994)

Gravediggaz's debut album '6 Feet Deep' was released on this day in 1994. An early example of what they considered 'Horrorcore' at the time. The real gems are found in Prince Paul and RZA's production on the album. The lead single 'Diary of a Madman' will remain a classic, as are both versions of 1-800-SUICIDE, Constant Elevation, Nowhere to Run, and more. With the group's core members being Frukwan (The Gatekeeper), Poetic (The Grym Reaper), RZA, and Prince Paul, there were also features from Shabazz The Disciple, Killah Priest, and a brief appearance from Masta Ace (uncredited). I remember first seeing the music video for 'Diary of a Madman' at my man Petey Cologne's crib in the early 90s back home in Queens; that eery soundscape immediately caught our attention. "Because we'd all been buried as far as the music industry is concerned," says Paul, "we chose the name Gravediggaz." RZA adds "Music can change the way people think. The Gravediggaz are here to dig up the graves of the mentally dead, not bury people in them. People are just walking around out there mentally dead." Hence the line, "Now I fight a holy war in the mental." Unfortunately, Poetic passed away some years back from cancer, although his music continues to be celebrated via a Chopped Herring Records release called "Ghetto Repaired Young Minds" as Brothers G.R.Y.M., with his two younger brothers Brainstorm and E Sharp. Definitely, give that a listen and your support. More below.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

N.W.A. "Straight Outta Compton" (August 8, 1988)

N.W.A. Letter from FBI to NWA
N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton 1988

"A song recorded by the rap group N.W.A. on their album entitled "Straight Outta Compton" encourages violence against and disrespect for the law enforcement officer and has been brought to my attention. I understand your company recorded and distributed this album, and I am writing to share my thoughts and concerns with you. Advocating violence and assault is wrong, and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action. Violent crime, a major problem in our country, reached an unprecedented high in 1988. Seventy-eight law enforcement officers were feloniously slain in the line of duty during 1988, four more than in 1987. Law enforcement officers dedicate their lives to the protection of our citizens, and recordings such as the one from N.W.A. are both discouraging and degrading to these brave, dedicated officers. Music plays a significant role in society, and I wanted you to be aware of the FBI's position relative to this song and its message. I believe my views reflect the opinion of the entire law enforcement community." 

The letter was signed by Milt Ahlerich (Office of Public Affairs) to Gui Manganiello (Priority Records). N.W.A.'s album "Straight Outta Compton" was released on August 8, 1988 - 29 years ago today. The letter above was dated a year later, August 1, 1989. The World's Most Dangerous Crew ... this was the only release with Ice Cube, who departed the group in '89. Production was handled by DJ Yella and Dr. Dre. If I remember correctly, the album has gone Triple platinum, without radio play.

N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton CD Longbox 1988

Monday, August 07, 2017

Crimeapple "Turner & Hooch" (prod. by Billy Loman)

Crimeapple "Turner & Hooch" (prod. by Billy Loman)

Salute to my OG, DJ Eclipse, who put me on to this track by Crimeapple called 'Turner & Hooch,' produced by Billy Loman from Boston. I don't have any background info on Crimeapple, but I think he may be in New Jersey; definitely going to keep him on my radar. Let me also take this opportunity to update you that DJ Eclipse's radio show 'Rap Is Outta Control' will be moving to Monday nights (8pm-10pm EST) and relaunches on Monday, August 21st with Eclipse and DJ Riz. Keep it locked.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Raekwon 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' 22nd Anniversary

Raekwon Ghostface Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 22nd anniverary

2017 marks the 22nd year in the celebration of Raekwon's solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. While fans of the Wu argue which was the best solo release: OB4CL or Liquid Swords, I say the fans won with both albums. Others too. Instant classics. Rae, Ghost, and RZA delivered such quality with this album, it's hard to say anything I haven't already said 10x over in the past. This post is simply to continue to salute and honor the album with each year that passes and hopefully I'll continue to add new pieces to my collection like I did with the 7" for 'Incarcerated Scarfaces' on Record Store Day. That reminds me, I need the WU box set with all the 7" from Enter the 36 Chambers. Dig through the archives from this site and those that followed past sites, you probably already have the rare vinyl pieces and remixes I've posted over the years. Go get 'The Wild,' which was Raekwon's release earlier this year - I think it's one of the best records in his catalog, front to back. Salute the Chef.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Das EFX & Redman on The Arsenio Hall Show 7/31/92

Das Efx Redman Arsenio Hall Show July 31 1992

Before there was an Instagram, Das EFX's PR team issued this "Dasogram" to media, alerting us to their performance on The Arsenio Hall Show on Friday, July 31st in 1992. The Hit Squad made its presence felt with none other than the Funk Doc, Redman; holding Skoob & Krayz Drayz down on the turntables. The group performed their lead single, 'They Want EFX,' off the smash album, 'Dead Serious.' People forget how influential and forward-thinking Arsenio Hall was to support hip-hop on his show (in 1992!) and bring the music to millions of people. Many of the live performances on his show were the biggest platforms artists could reach at the time. 25 years later, enjoy the video clip below of the performance. I'm sure you'll find the All-Star tribute if you search Youtube, too.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Blu & Exile "Below The Heavens" 10th Anniversary

Blu & Exile "Below The Heavens" 10th Anniversary

Happy 10th Anniversary to arguably the best Hip-Hop album to be released in the last decade. I have no trouble saying it's my personal favorite, without hesitation. I drank the kool aid the first time I heard the Advance copy, which was slightly different (not better or worse) than the retail version. With less than 3000 copies in its original CD pressing, the scarcity of the album, coupled with the quality of the music, gave birth to an unofficial word of mouth campaign that gave the album its biggest push. It took a while, but it all added to the self-esteem value fans felt having been in the know and they gladly spread the good word. I remember employees at Fat Beats pushed to have the album listed on year-end lists when labels and journalists would call the store asking what people were buying, even knowing there weren't many copies in circulation. By the time an official vinyl pressing came around, I was eagerly waiting at the Fat Beats warehouse for the hand-numbered LPs to arrive, lol. "Below The Heavens" should be the benchmark for collaborative efforts and for artists like Blu who wish to be transparent and tell their story through lyrics. They successfully crafted one of the most relatable records and I believe it'll find new listeners for generations to follow. Shouts to J.Kim, who was instrumental in its success and Exile, who I'd been following through Emanon and Dirty Science, as well as his early Eksile mixtapes, which are essential listening. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

DJ Sav One - A Rare ReIntroduction

DJ Sav One

This industry is tough for an introvert like me to navigate. I'm simply not willing to do what it takes to become part of the "in-crowd" ... I mean, especially for myself. On behalf of my artists, I stretch myself a bit to accommodate the needs of the industry and I do my best to make sure their efforts are seen and heard. Still, am I gonna cold call people all day? No. Go to networking events and shake every hand in the room, doing these bullshit listening parties? Not so much. Even a blog like this, people may find it on Google or an occasional (rare) link I'll share, but I don't go out of my way to discuss it. So, if posting slows down, it means I'm working on other music things, but I can still be reached on social media. Hit me! You'll catch me making the most of the few words I speak. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

H3RO - 'Tragic H3RO' (Music Video)

H3RO Tragic H3RO

H3RO drops off the visuals to his latest record 'Tragic H3RO,' and you need to put eyes & ears on it! Since his first studio mixtape in 2010, H3RO has been attracting media attention and making a name for himself in the underground Carolina music scene. Born Justin Daniels, he grew up listening to hip hop with an affinity for lyrics & poetry. A student of the great Nasir Jones, the name H3RO manifested in '08 after the “Hip Hop is Dead” emcee dropped the single “Hero” off his Untitled LP.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Supastition - "Thanks, Ghost" (Free Single)

Supastition Thanks, Ghost

Supastition pays homage to Ghostface Killah on his brand new track, "Thanks, Ghost." The self-produced single is inspired by one of Hip-Hop's greatest storytellers, Ghostface Killah, as Supa documents some humorous incidents that happened while ironically listening to Ghost. The song serves as the first single in the 'Solitaire' monthly series where Supastition handles all of the writing, recording, mixing and graphic design for each track. You can stream and download the track (and instrumental) for free below. Follow Supastition for all updates on future releases.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

NaS 'It Was Written' July 2, 1996

Nas It Was Written Advertisement

On this day in 1996, NaS released his sophomore album, 'It Was Written.' A more commercial effort, NaS definitely received a fair amount of criticism for his direction on this release, as compared to his debut 'Illmatic.' The numbers show, however, that there was far more praise and had he not released this album, it's arguable whether or not 'Illmatic' would have ever reached as many consumers and been heralded as such a classic. 'It Was Written' was double-platinum, while 'Illmatic' had sold nowhere near that at the time. Props to Steve Stoute and the Trackmasters for their work on the album, and of course, DJ Premier, L.E.S., Dr. Dre, Havoc and more. It surely had its misses, but there's a generation younger than mine that holds this up as their favorite NaS album. Go figure ... what do you think? In advance of the album, Columbia released 'Nas Is Coming' with the July '96 stamp, and it featured The Source Freestyle, Silent Murder, Street Dreams, If I Ruled The World and "Watch Dem N#ggas. The version of 'If I Ruled The World' was slightly different, if I remember correctly, but the smash single with Lauryn Hill would prove to be the push NaS needed in '96. I can't recall the ratings it received from the media but I do remember stories of NaS' car being burned in the bridge (allegedly) in '96. A little dramatic, but I guess everyone wants a piece of success when it comes? Were do you rate 'It Was Written' in his catalog?

Nas It Was Written Double Platinum Advertisement
Nas is Coming Promo Cassette

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rest in Peace, Prodigy!

Prodigy of Mobb Deep R.I.P.
Prodigy of Mobb Deep R.I.P.

Man, this is another big loss. Rest in Peace to Prodigy of Mobb Deep. “It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.” An OG in the industry and a voice that will be heavily missed. My condolences to his family, friends, and peers. "There's a war going on outside no man is safe from!" - Prodigy

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Screwball 'Next" in Vibe Magazine (1999)

Screwball 'Next" in Vibe Magazine (1999)

June 11, 1999 in Queens, New York: Screwball in the Next (People On The Verge) feature for the September '99 issue of Vibe Magazine. The group Screwball represented out of Queensbridge and included the OG, Blaq Poet, Hostyle, Solo (Kyron) and KL (R.I.P.). "As the duo Kamakazee, KL and Solo have been making noise in the underground with singles like 1997's 'Snakes,' since their album deal with Warner Bros. went sour in 1994. Poet began his career reppin' QB against the attack of BDP's 1987 'The Bridge Is Over' with 'Beat You Down' (1987) and later formed the group PHD. All four came together in 1994 on PHD's posse burner, 'Set It,' before officially joining forces on acclaimed indie singles like 'Screwed Up' (1996). Soon after, they'd release their Tommy Boy debut, 'Y2K,' which featured 'F.A.Y.B.A.N.' (produced by DJ Premier), 'You Love To Hear The Stories' with MC Shan, 'The Blocks' with Nature, and 'Who Shot Rudy' going at Rudy Guiliani. KL passed away back in 2008 and Blaq Poet's consistent work with DJ Premier has been very well-received by fans.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Kool G Rap 'Return of the Don' (Prod. by MoSS)

Kool G Rap 'Return of the Don' (Prod. by MoSS)

'Return of the Don' is the latest album from Hip-Hop pioneer, Kool G Rap. The entire album is produced by Toronto producer, MoSS, who has also worked with Ghostface, Obie Trice, Eternia, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and lots more. Kool G Rap enlisted features from Noreaga, Lil' Fame, Freeway, Raekwon, Termanology, Saigon, Crooked I, Sean Price, Westside Gunn & Conway, and other elite lyricists. Sonically, MoSS' signature gritty production stands out along with obscure samples, instrumentation and open loops for Kool G Rap to showcase his flow. Unfortunately, as I've gotten older I've distanced myself further and further from some of Kool G Rap's content; it's not for everyone but sounds great, lol. There are classic records that I know all the lyrics to and remember rapping along to, yet give me pause today. That aside, I credit him for the lane of rap he helped create, his influence in the game on artists like Nas, and it's still great to hear him back with a new release - especially produced by my brother, MoSS. Support it HERE.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Gang Starr 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'

Gang Starr DJ Premier Guru Wild Pitch Publicity Photo
Gang Starr 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' cassette insert

'No More Mr. Nice Guy' is the debut album from Gang Starr. It was released on this day in 1989 on Wild Pitch Records. All songs on the album are produced by DJ Premier & Guru, except for 'Gusto' and 'Knowledge,' which were produced by the 45 King. There were also earlier singles like 'The Lesson' that was not included on the album, but were added as bonus cuts for a later re-issue. As far as Gang Starr releases, this is less often mentioned because DJ Premier and Guru were still finding themselves as a duo and they hadn't quite found that signature sound they'd later be known for. However, there were glimpses of the greatness that would come with Premo on the cuts/beats and Guru's message-driven lyrics. In 1989, I was 11 and only had 1 song from 'Step In The Arena' on cassette single. It wasn't really until 'Just To Get A Rep' that I fully got into Gang Starr, although I credit 'Daily Operation' as being the one that had the most impact on me. That's a slow build, I was raised on their music! For fans that went back in their catalog after hearing 'Step In The Arena' or 'Daily Operation,' it must have been a confusing experience to hear 'No More Mr. Nice Guy,' but it's an album that Premo considers his 'resume album.' Him and Guru paid their dues, found their lane and mastered their sound in the coming years. 'Words I Manifest' was the single I first owned and to this day, that intro immediately brings me right back to those early days. Listen below.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Has-Lo 'The Paul Tape' (Album Stream)

Has-Lo The Paul Tape Prince Paul

Here's the brand new instrumental project, 'The Paul Tape,' from the Philly MC/Producer, Has-Lo, who now lives in California. The project is an instrumental tribute to the legendary producer, Prince Paul, who if you've been paying attention, you know is one of my favorite producers. I've also publicly supported Has-Lo's music since 2010 and recommend you dig through his back catalog for a lot of great releases including the debut 'In Case I Don't Make It,' where he wrote and produced the entire record. On the instrumental vibe, his short but dope 'Reinterpretations' of Wu-Tang Clan joints had me open last year too. 'The Paul Tape' has 10 instrumentals with crisp drums, audio snippets from Prince Paul and some nice samples like on my favorite beat on the project, 'Hope Ya.'

Sunday, June 04, 2017

AIM & QNC 'How It All Got Started' (Curt Cazal Remix) EP

Aim & QNC 'How It All Got Started' (Curt Cazal Remix) EP

The highly anticipated Aim & QNC 'How It All Got Started' (Curt Cazal Remix) EP is available now from ATIC Records. Following 2015’s album 'The Habit of a Lifetime', this new release boasts two Curt Cazal remixes, an all-new Aim produced track 'Lyrical Expert' and the all-important, DJ-friendly instrumentals. 'We Don't Play' features Grand Puba and the late Sean Price (R.I.P.). The EP is presented on cream coloured 12″ vinyl and cassette with sleeve art by AFU. Both formats are super limited editions, so cop it while supplies last. You can stream part of the EP below.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Lost Boyz 'Legal Drug Money' (Classic Material Review)

Lost Boyz Legal Drug Money Advertisement
Lost Boyz Legal Drug Money Album Review

Start HERE, where I first spoke on the Lost Boyz; specifically, the death of Freaky Tah and the many great records that were included on their debut album, 'Legal Drug Money.' That debut was released on this day in 1996 through Uptown Records. The lead singles 'Lifestyle of the Rich & Shameless' and 'Renee' both have alternate mixes on the LP, and while I prefer the single versions more, oddly enough, it took nothing away from how incredibly balanced the LP was between singles and album cuts. Island Def Jam reached out to me with a letter and the 12" from the Don't Be A Menace soundtrack, asking DJs to push the Mona Lisa record 'Can't Be Wasting My Time,' which featured the Lost Boyz. However, once I flipped the record over and heard the original version of 'Renee' and 'Winter Warz,' it was hard to remember that Mona Lisa record, although it was dope, too. I think Lil' Kim was also on that 12" but I can't recall the song. The album's production was handled by Pete Rock, Mr. Sexxx, Easy Mo Bee, Big Dex, Buttnaked Tim Dawg, and more. Super cohesive, the album had 5 singles, coulda been 6. The classic review above does a good job at breaking down the tracks, explaining their 'commercial charm' and giving background info, so check that out. Of course, the video for 'Renee' (Soundtrack version) is below.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Wu-Tang Clan 'Wu-Tang Forever' Snippet Tape (1997)

Wu-Tang Clan Wu Tang Forever Snippet Cassette Tape Loud Records 1997

This Wu-Tang snippet cassette was released by Loud Records in 1997 in advance of the Wu's double disc album, 'Wu-Tang Forever.' It included snippets of some of the best tracks on the album and clips of the RZA, Raekwon, and Ol' Dirty Bastard speaking on various aspects of the Wu, which you can read more about below. It's only about 12 minutes long and it's repeated on the B-Side of the cassette. 'Wu-Tang Forever' debuted at #1 on Billboard, sold 612k copies in its first week and is 4x platinum. Below is the cassette audio and a page straight from Billboard magazine in May of 1997 discussing the tape. In related news, it wasn't until 2015 that GZA's second studio album, 'Liquid Swords' was certified platinum - 20 years after its release - making it the first album to go platinum since Method Man's 2004 release, 'Tical 0: The Prequel.' Times have changed, huh? 'Wu-Tang Forever' dropped on this day in '97, so raise a cup for its 20th anniversary!

Wu-Tang Forever Wu-Tang Clan Billboard Magazine Snippet Tape 1997 May 3

Saturday, June 03, 2017

KUPLA 'In.The.Forest.We.Are.Wizards' (Instrumentals)

KUPLA 'In.The.Forest.We.Are.Wizards' (Instrumentals)

KUPLA 'Gravy' (Instrumentals)

Here are two instrumental albums from Finnish producer (now living in London), KUPLA. I'm not certain who put me on to his work, but I was intrigued by the title of his latest instrumental release, 'In.The.Forest.We.Are.Wizards.' As soon as I clicked play, I felt nothing but good vibes. The project was released in March and of course, I had to go back and dig through his catalog and found 'Gravy,' which is very similar and was released in August of last year. These are Sunday afternoon vibes on a Saturday, lol. Give them some burn, it'll put you in a good place. I'd love to hear the right artist(s) drop bars and melodies with a storyline to these beats. Anyhow, enjoy the keys and basslines, it's a quick listen: about 25 mins in total for today's selection.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Binary Star (One Be Lo x Decompoze) "Subterraneous"

Binary Star WaterWorld Three One Be Lo Decompoze Subterraneous Records

“Subterraneous" is the first single taken from one of Michigan's favorite underground families, Binary Star, promoting their long-awaited WaterWorld Three album. Produced by Decompoze, “Subterraneous” features Binary Star's active members One Be Lo and Decompoze, along with original Sub crew members ILLite aka T Calmese, RoSpit and Malaki. Pre-orders of WaterWorld Three are available HERE and the album is scheduled for release on June 2nd. Listen below.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

N.W.A. 'Efil4zaggin' & 'Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video'

N.W.A. Efil4zaggin Advertisement
N.W.A. 'Efil4zaggin' Press Release

NWA's sophomore album, 'Efil4zaggin,' came out on this day in 1991 through Ruthless Records. It was the first album released without Ice Cube and featured production by Dr. Dre & Yella. The Source voted it Album of The Year in 1991 and said: 'When the average person looks back on hip-hop in 1991 they'll probably remember N.W.A.'s Niggaz4Life as the fat tape booming out of their system, the one that got the hottest rotation. But this was no underground hit. After debuting at the number two position on Billboard's Pop Chart - the first album to do so since Michael Jackson's Bad - Niggaz4Life rocketed to number one, selling a whopping 800,000 records the first week in stores, and coming close to double platinum. The key to NWA's success is their ability to capture fans from all backgrounds in different parts of the country, marketing the image of ruthless n!ggaz from the streets of Compton to an audience of inner-city purists and middle-America whites. Plus, NWA managed to stay in the headlines for most of the year - from Eazy E's infamous dinner with the President, to various lawsuits, to the fateful night in a Hollywood club when Dr. Dre allegedly beat up Dee Barnes, the female host of 'Pump It Up.' I remember the first time someone handed me a dub with 'Alwayz Into Somethin' on it, I thought it was one of the hardest tracks I'd ever heard - to this day, that's still true! The group disbanded later that year & in '92, they released 'Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video,' which documents the making of & the release of the album; check it below, and above is an overseas press release sent regarding the police seizing copies of the LP and a pending lawsuit. It was an interesting year to be a fan of Hip-Hop.

N.W.A. Alwayz Into Somethin Advertisement

Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jeru The Damaja 'The Sun Rises In The East' (May 24, 1994)

Jeru The Damaja The Sun Rises In The East Advertisement 1994
Jeru The Damaja Classic Material Brian Coleman The Sun Rises In The East

Jeru The Damaja's classic debut album, 'The Sun Rises In The East,' was released on this day in 1994. Entirely produced by DJ Premier, the album was released through Payday and is an important piece of the Gang Starr Foundation's legacy. Jeru linked with Gang Starr around 1989 and a few years later he was featured on the posse cut, 'I'm The Man,' from Gang Starr's 'Daily Operation.' However, it wasn't until '93 when Guru included 'Come Clean' on an Ill Kid Records sampler that the buzz for Jeru really began to grow. In '94, Gang Starr dropped another posse cut called 'Speak Ya Clout,' off 'Hard To Earn,' and I was feenin' for that Jeru debut. As for Premo: "While his name isn't on the front cover, producer DJ Premier is as essential to this album as Jeru himself. Primo is already a legend in the beat field ... but with Jeru he goes further against the grain with a collection of simple but dense beats. He uses flutes, harmonic discord, bugged-out sound effects, even static to fill in his compositions." The Source/Miss Info adds, "As for Jeru, the music both contrasts and compliments his disjointed flow and deep poetical lyricism." From start to finish, this is a masterful album displaying both beats and lyrics in razor sharp form. For many, this is not only their favorite DJ Premier-produced album but their favorite album as a whole. Years later, Brian Coleman would revisit 'The Sun Rises In The East' for the 'Classic Material' album review up above, check that out and below is the You Must Learn episode with Jeru the Damaja taking us track by track through the album, discussing stories such as: waiting and watching for Nas to create Illmatic, his inspiration drawn from his family, friends, and predecessors, and lots more. This album still gets burn!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Duel Of The Iron Mics (The Source, 1998)

The Source 5-mic ratings Illmatic Biggie
The Source 5-mic ratings Illmatic Biggie
The Source 5-mic ratings Illmatic Biggie

The Source's 100th issue in 1998 had LL Cool J on the cover and a nice article that highlighted 8 classic albums that had previously received 5-mic ratings. Back when the mic rating truly meant something, artists aspired to make an album that would receive that coveted award. And, for fans, as Elliott Wilson said, ''The mics are one of the main reasons that The Source flies off your newsstands. More importantly, there are over 3 million hip-hop fans worldwide who look to The Source for honest reviews of the multitude of rap albums released each month...'  That was true for a long time. The 8 albums selected for the article are: A Tribe Called Quest's 'Peoples Instinctive Travels & the Paths to Rhythm,' Ice Cube's 'AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted,' Brand Nubian's 'One For All' (note to the editor: 'All For One' was the single), De La Soul's 'De La Soul is Dead,' A Tribe Called Quest 'Low End Theory,' Nas' 'Illmatic' and finally, The Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Life After Death.' Interestingly, Elliott explains the historical context of 'Life After Death' and even offers that he originally scoffed at 'Illmatic' receiving a 5-mic rating. Time has proven that Miss Info was correct for her review, but it's not rewriting history to say sales were mediocre and only us real heads were championing it early. Would you argue against any of these records receiving 5 mics? Personally, I've always been on the fence on 'Let The Rhythm Hit Em' but I can see their logic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

KRS-One as Big Joe Krash 'Break The Chain'

Big Joe Krash KRS-One Break The Chain Vibe Magazine August 1994 Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Released in 1994 by Marvel Music, the 'Break The Chain' comic is a collaborative effort by artist Kyle Baker, hip-hop legend KRS-One, and Marshall Chess that uses literature and music to break the chains of ignorance among the youth. This comic came polybagged with an audio cassette tape featuring songs performed by KRS-One that can be listened to as the comic is read. Kyle Baker said, "Break The Chain was very experimental, a comic book packaged with a read-along hip-hop audiocassette. I don't think anything like it was done before or since ... The creators of the project, Marshall Chess, Kris Parker, and I went with Marvel because nobody else wanted to publish us. The only way we got Marvel to go for it was we did it without being paid, and the production costs were out of our pockets. They were made, but only 25% of the print run was actually distributed. The rest of the books sat in a warehouse while Marvel tried to find a distributor with record store connections. It never happened. I don't know what happened to the books and tapes, they were probably destroyed. But a few people got to see it, which is better than nothing.” Above is an original article with KRS & Kyle Baker in Vibe (8/94), and below is the animated music video for the title track with KRS as Big Joe Krash. You can find copies on eBay from time to time.

Big Joe Krash KRS-One Break The Chain Comic Book Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Eminem 'The Marshall Mathers LP' (May 23, 2000)

Eminem 'The Marshall Mathers LP' Advertisement 2000
Eminem 'The Marshall Mathers LP' Album Review Vibe Magazine 2000

Eminem's third studio album, 'The Marshall Mathers LP' dropped on this day in 2000. Arguably Em's best album, he dug deep(er) on content to reflect the controversy surrounding the graphic lyrics on the Slim Shady LP, his meteoric rise to fame, as well as early childhood and family. He complemented all of it with storytelling lyrics that may go down as some of the best ever. The album sold nearly 2 million copies in its first week! The LP was produced by Dr. Dre, Bass Brothers, The 45 King and co-production from Em. "It's tracks like 'Stan' and the sum of the Marshall Mathers LP that should forever erase the notion that Eminem is the Elvis Presley of hardcore hip hop. If anything, he's rap's Eric Clapton: a white boy who can hang with the best black talent based on sheer skill - enhancing the art form instead of stealing from it." (Vibe Magazine) I do still think Em is one of the most talented lyricists in Hip-Hop (period), but the industry has shifted and the replay value based on his ability to RAP has faded - his content and concepts need to take center stage and I'm interested to see how he matures in Hip-Hop. I hope the 'Rap God' challenges himself more if he returns with another LP, which I get the feeling is coming ... maybe.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fat Joe 'Heart of Bronxness' (Vibe, 1996)

Fat Joe 'Heart of Broxness' (Vibe, 1996)

'Maybe with my first album, I was kind of arrogant ... I thought I was the shit, but after a couple of months ... everybody's like, 'Man, 'Flow Joe' is the only hit Joe can make. So I came up with some ill shit. I learned to appreciate the fans more - I know it's because of the consumer that I'm here.' (Vibe, March 1996) He definitely came back hard with his sophomore album, 'Jealous One's Envy.' I remember back in the days of exchanging dubs with my friends, I bought another tape and my boy got Joe's album. We exchanged copies and I was like man, I bought some bullshit by comparison, lol. I've probably told that full story before, if not, it's definitely still fresh in my mind. To this day, the DJ Premier remix to 'The Shit Is Real' is one of the most nostalgic songs for me. 20+ years later, Fat Joe still knows how to stay relevant with a hit or 2 every few cycles. The album with Remy Ma kinda came and went, but the single was a smash and it won't be the last we hear of Fat Joe.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The RZA 'Tragedy' (Video) from Rhyme & Reason

The RZA Bobby Digital Eddie Otchere

I was reminded earlier of the RZA's song 'Tragedy,' which was a slept-on gem off the Rhyme & Reason Soundtrack. It was released in 1997 and pre-dates the images above from a contact sheet by photographer Eddie Otchere (I just think it's dope). The Rhyme & Reason soundtrack also had 'Uni-4-Orm' by Ras Kass, Heltah Skeltah & Canibus, as well as joints from the Lost Boyz, KRS, Busta Rhymes & A Tribe Called Quest, E-40, and among others, an ill record called 'The Way It Iz' by Guru (R.I.P.), Lil' Dap & KaiBee that some people may remember me discussing over the years. Back in the winter of '96, I visited The Wiz in Manhattan on 57th street and 3rd Ave - I can't remember what I bought - they hit me off with a promo VHS copy of the video for 'Tragedy' before the album was out. I watched that VHS tape 30-40 times, lol. I hadn't seen the video for 20 years until today, and it's still as ill as I remember! Wu-Tang Forever came out a few months after Rhyme & Reason, but I was still hype off this song. I pre-ordered the album and the store gave a $3.00 coupon. I met my first "serious" girlfriend on the day I went to the store to pick up my copy, lol. Nostalgia strikes again. The track was produced by True Master & co-produced by the RZA, check it out below.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jazzsoon '84 Doctor K (Beat Tape)

Doc Gooden Dr. K Publicity Photo

Dwight Gooden aka Dr. K aka Doc Gooden .... also known as one of the best to ever rock a gold tooth and stand on the mound! He made his debut in 1984, making the All-Star Team (striking out the side in that game) and was Rookie of the Year that season. In 1985, he won the Cy Young Award and the triple crown, among other accomplishments that lead to the World Series Championship in '86! The beat tape is filled with funky beats, Doctor K theme songs, crazy phone messages, as well as snippets from classic interviews, games, Mets programs and news broadcasts to make the tape more flavorful. You can purchase the cassette exclusively through Strictly Cassette and the first 50 orders will come with an authentic 1985 Dwight Gooden rookie card. Support a quality product!

Jazzsoon '84 Doctor K (Beat Tape)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Big L 'The Crate & The Good' (Hip Hop Connection, '98)

Big L 'The Crate & The Good' (Hip Hop Connection, '98)
Big L 'The Crate & The Good' (Hip Hop Connection, '98)

In 1996, Big L was a cautionary tale of when major labels sign real lyricists. Ultimately, “the people in the marketing department didn’t quite get it. Lack of promotion and record company politics inevitably led to a split — a perfect example of a label not knowing what they’ve got til it’s gone.” From 'Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous' to 'The Big Picture,' Big L had moved onto releasing music through his own Flamboyant label, which had manufacturing and distro through Fat Beats. Matter of fact, the 'Ebonics' b/w 'Size Em Up' 12" was one of the biggest independent 12" releases of 1998 at record stores like Fat Beats. 20 years later, the represses still flew off the shelves as DJs and tourists from around the world came into Fat Beats looking for classics. There aren't a whole lot of Big L interviews in circulation, so basically just sharing this interview in Hip Hop Connection to share parts of L's story in his own words. In Big L's 'Size Em Up,' he says "Peace to Biggie and Pac 'cuz they really were hot / Rap game, heavy hitters, it's a shame they no longer wit' us." Add Big L to that too; taken from us far too soon. Rest in Peace, Big L. You can hear 'Size Em Up' below.