Saturday, December 30, 2017

Rasheed Chappel & Crimeapple "The Bridge" (Freestyle)

I don't post too many loosies here on the site, I am more of an album-minded fan, but something tells me this dope freestyle from Rasheed Chappell & Crimeapple won't pop up on an official release, so I've gotta support it separately here! Both lyricists drop bars over MC Shan's Marley Marl-produced classic, "The Bridge," live from the Diggin In The Crates studio to your ears, listen...

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Donnie Propa "Dirty Rotten Mixtape" (Jeru The Damaja)

The Dirty Rotten Mixtape is another fresh cassette mixtape from Donnie Propa (and Chrome), featuring a fresh selection of classics and hidden gems from the legendary eMCee from East New York, Jeru The Damaja. As a fellow member of the Gang Starr Foundation, Jeru The Damaja's first two classic albums were produced by the greatest of all time, DJ Premier: The Sun Rises In The East and Wrath Of The Math. The mix is pulled strictly from vinyl and available on cassette HERE.

Monday, December 25, 2017

KutMasta Kurt's "Christmas" (Mixtape, 1996)

KutMasta Kurt's Christmas mix tape was released on cassette back in 1996. It features cuts from Camp Lo, Siah & Yeshua, Mobb Deep, Kool Keith, Royal Flush, Large Professor, Jungle Brothers, OGC, Street Smartz, Ras Kass, Kool G Rap, AK Skills, Group Home, Mindspace, Mic Geronimo, YZ, The High & Mighty, Ghostface Killah, and lots more. A nice smooth vibe throughout, listen to the mix below...

Friday, December 22, 2017

Conway The Machine "Grimiest of All-Time" (Album Stream)

Conway The Machine is back at it ... AGAIN. No wonder they call him the machine, he pumps out music at an incredible rate. The latest opus, "Grimiest of all-time" is explained better over at 2DBZ, "The Machine is ending the label’s 2017 with a bang, in the form of his latest release, G.O.A.T. (Grimiest Of All Time). Revealing the drop on his Instagram page a few days prior, Conway excitedly said “X-Mas comes early! The hardest beats and the illest lyrics I promise you!” The guest list is stacked too. As well as Gunn and Benny, the likes of Alchemist, Raekwon, Prodigy, Royce 5’9″, Styles P and Lloyd Banks join him on the 10-track release; produced majorly by Daringer with a bonus beat by Alchemist." Stream it below and cop the limited edition physicals when they drop.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Murs "A Friend's Blues" (2002)

I revisit this project a lot, although I don't feel it gets mentioned enough, so let's look back at Murs' 2002 EP, Varsity Blues. RapReviews discussed the album years back and I think they nailed the parts of the album that touched me the most when they say "the beats and lyrics are based solely on the principles of blues music. And it makes sense. Murs is known for being a frank, honest and plain-spoken rapper with insights that rival those of his friend Phonte (of Little Brother fame) and skill to articulate that easily in a song. In addition, he is self-admittedly a rapper of a different ilk who is willing to diversify his music and challenge hip-hop's seeming lack of creativity. Hence, combining his knack for story-telling with blues-worthy personal experiences, and dropping it over some despondent, melancholic guitars, Murs sought to tap deeper into his introspective self with "Varsity Blues" and creates something most definitely worth revisiting a while after its original release." Jason De Silva and I both agree that that "Murs' magnum opus for the EP" is "A Friend's Blues," where he says "Justin Martin allows the strings, the triumphant piano line, and understated bass roll to take you away into Murs' tale of losing someone close to you and the trials of perseverance. It's a personal song that leaves a lasting impression, especially when you listen closely to the lyrics that, again, have a passion and deep meaning that truly grabs the listener." Dig in...

"It's sad it takes a loss to appreciate the gifts 
So celebrate the occasion, just breathing is amazin' 
To see the sun rise and set at a days end 
A chance to fix mistakes that we regret makin' 
Find joy in the simple things, no time for complainin' 
The sun will shine, it can't always be rainin' 
I know it hurts deep, but you must maintain it..."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rest In Peace, Reggie Ossé aka Combat Jack

This is sad news ... Hip-Hop just lost a good man; one of our culture's most important voices, listeners and pioneers in new media. I'm not the right person to properly discuss his background in entertainment law, or how he came up; I wanna defer to his close friends and those more knowledgable for that. I can only say that he was a forward-thinker; humble and always encouraging, and I've never met someone with a bad word to say about him. It seemed like everyone knew Reggie and the conversations were always positive and uplifting - some point in their lives where he dropped a gem on 'em. Hanging out up at PNC Studios in Brooklyn a lot, we crossed paths a bunch; my close friend Justin had a show on the station also and their interviews were both always very insightful, so I think of them both often. Justin, or The Company Man as many of you know him, was also forward-thinking and heavy into new media; it's no surprise both of these gentleman found ways to curate a slice of the culture that has been consumed by millions of people. Some years back I found myself breaking up a fight on the train to work at Fat Beats and the screen on my phone broke. I headed over to the Verizon store and got a new phone, but they weren't able to transfer over my numbers, so I sent an e-mail to my friends and peers asking them to send me their info to get back up and running. All these years later, Combat Jack's is one of only two messages I still remember because he really encouraged me to reach out more, and that humbled me. I guess in times like this, these are the things we think about, so I really look forward to the culture showing love and sharing a lot of small stories of their own random experiences with Combat Jack. Hip-Hop, as a whole, will remember him in his rightful place as a pioneer, and if we ever get a home for Hip-Hop memories and nostalgia, there will be a proud spot for him, no question! He kept it positive - even in his final days, so my heart deeply goes out to his loved ones, and I send my deepest condolences to them. Rest In Peace, Reggie Ossé. Get ready for Combat!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dr. Dre "The Chronic" (25th Anniversary Mix)

I think it's a dope trend that DJs are creating anniversary mixes of such high caliber like this one, as well as what Chris Read, DJ Filthy Rich & more have been doing over the last few years. This one is by DJ Matman - who I think is a dope DJ - in support of the 25th anniversary of Dr. Dre's classic album in '92, "The Chronic." Once again, it's promoted by WhoSampled & Wax Poetics, so you know there's plenty of background samples, loops and original albums cuts to dig through. In their words, "To celebrate the 25th anniversary of West Coast classic 'The Chronic', Dr. Dre's debut solo LP, our buddy DJ Matman has crafted a dope mix of album tracks, alternative versions, remixes, and original sample material." As the kids are saying these, "say less," you know what it is, enjoy!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Black Thought Freestyles On Funk Flex (Hot 97, Video)

10 minutes of absolute BARS from the legendary Black Thought of The Roots. Last year, I touched on Funk Flex's freestyle series after Joe Budden was up at Hot 97. There's since been a few other dope freestyles, but none have shifted perspective and made fans rethink their T5DOA and had artists questioning their pen game as much as Black Thought's freestyle. There's so many quotables to shine a light on here, but some of my favorites are: "Gun fire and flares, sirens glare / I'm in a iron chair where people who care don't get the lion's share / When I don't give a f#ck then I ain't fair" and "Same cadence as D.O.C. pre-accident / Maybe my acumen's on par with Kool G. Rap and them / Give me the proper respect, mothaf#cka, we back again..." and "Go through the vein to the brain, fabulous and strange / My journalistic range is a catalyst for change / It got anybody that listen pissing flame / And ’cause the Hall of Fame got so many missing names." Rappers were put on notice, give Black Thought his proper respect and watch this freestyle below with a pen and a pad.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Statik Selektah "8" (Album Stream)

8 is the eighth studio album from producer Statik Selektah. The album was released via Duck Down Music and Statik's label Showoff Records. The album features guest appearances from vocal artists, such as 2 Chainz, Action Bronson, Joey Badass, Termanology, Run The Jewels, The L.O.X., Wale, Royce da 5'9", Joyner Lucas, Raekwon, Mtume, Westside Gunn, Conway the Machine, Sean Price and G-Eazy. Statik is one of the most consistent, most prolific producers of our generation. Listen below...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Kendrick Lamar "Damn." (Album Streams)

Whether you listen to the album front to back or back to front, "Damn" is still one helluva album. It took me a minute to get to it - I like to wait for the buzz and smoke to clear so my view of the album isn't distracted by 'popular opinion - but, then it took me even longer to sit with it, so now new and Deluxe versions are hitting the stores. Arguably, they reveal a new flow and rhythm to the project and provide new vibes and intricacies that Top and Kendrick thought ahead to introduce to the LP. It's this genius way of approaching packaging and providing a full vision that makes Kendrick one of the most important artists of our generation. To have that in the mainstream is an incredible thing, because it will surely invite new listeners into the culture and helps validate some of the efforts of lesser known artist that are also pushing the envelope and creating new paths to success. Not to mention, it's great business sense: listeners stream it again, fans of physicals buy the album again ... it's a win on all fronts. The album features production from a variety of record producers, including executive producer and Top Dawg Entertainment label-head Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith, Sounwave, DJ Dahi, Mike Will Made It and Ricci Riera; as well as further production contributions from James Blake, Steve Lacy, BadBadNotGood, Greg Kurstin, The Alchemist and 9th Wonder, among others. Damn features appearances from singers Rihanna and Top Dawg signee Zacari, along with Irish rock band U2. You can stream the original LP, as well as the collector's edition below. What awards will "Damn." receive? A lot ... and it isn't even his best album! Damn.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Benny The Butcher "Butcher On Steroids" (Mixtape Stream)

Benny The Butcher has teamed up with DJ Green Lantern to release Butcher On Steroids, his debut project for Griselda. Benny’s latest mixtape features 12 tracks with guest appearances by Conway and El Camino. Production is handled by Daringer, Camoflauge Monk, Icerocks, Noc, Trypps Beatz and Green Lantern. Benny also raps over a few vintage beats, including Capone-N-Noreaga’s “Blood Money. Check out the stream for Butcher On Steroids below, physical copies at Daupe!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Mekolicious "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, 12/97)

Mekolicious was featured in The Source's Unsigned Hype back in December, 1997. His white label 12" was released under the name Meccalicious and included the dope tracks "Hope The World Don't Stop" and "How You Feel" with production from fellow Mount Vernon resident, the Soul Brother No.1, Pete Rock. Prior to that, he was on a remix to INI's "Fakin Jax," as well as records with Rob-O and various loosies that were unreleased, alternate mixes or later released officially by Pete Rock without him on it. Between the years 1994 and the early 2000s, Pete Rock had his own label titled Soul Brother Records. The label returned more recently to co-release some of his more recent records, but it was during those early years that Pete Rock was producing for Mekolicious. I'd say close to 10-12 records in total, all produced by Pete Rock. There were light rumors that EPs and other 12" pressings were done, but I've yet to lay eyes on them, except for a 7" that BBE and HipHopSite put out in the early 2000s with a self-titled record, also produced by Pete Rock. This is definitely another case of what coulda been? I hope you'll be interested enough to dig up more!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cyhi The Prynce "No Dope On Sundays" / "Closer"

Hurt to see my class walk, and I ain't get to graduate
My parents washed their hands with me like before you grab a plate
I was on punishment, still coming in after eight
The belt don't hurt no more, she can tell when she look at my face
I was a castaway, had to learn how to navigate
Through the alleyways then pull up on you the Cali' way
Huh, I did some shit I can't elaborate
Tried to serve some niggas I ain't know, that was my last mistake
And Satan, I know I'm one of your favorite soldiers
But I can't help you no more, cause me and Christ is getting...
- Cyhi The Prynce "Closer," off "No Dope On Sundays"

I tried to cop a physical, couldn't find it for purchase, must be a tour-only exclusive or digital release. Either way, one of the best albums of the year. Most known for penning tracks behind the scenes for Kanye West and unfortunately being one of his more vocal supporters, I couldn't hold it against him when I first heard the album. I also recommend "Get Yo Money" and "God Bless Your Heart" from "No Dope On Sundays," get it and dig into the lyrics. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DJ Revolution "Classic Posse Cut Mix"

DJ Revolution aka The King of the Decks crafted this 45-minute mix on Shade45 with some of the best posse cuts in Hip-Hop history. You'll hear tracks from Lord Finesse, Kanye West, Fat Joe, Craig Mack, D.I.T.C., Heltah Skeltah, Gang Starr, Sway & King Tech, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, Main Source, Heavy D, Jungle Brothers & lots more! What do you think the greatest posse cut of all-time is? To me, I've got "Scenario Remix" by A Tribe Called Quest and "Represent" by D.I.T.C. The most important, to me, however, has to be Main Source's "Live At The BBQ," because it introduced me to one of my favorite MCs (NaS) and the greatest hip-hop album of all time, "Illmatic." Dig in below...

Monday, November 27, 2017

MF Doom/Metal Fingers "Special Herbs" (Boxset)

MF DOOM is the man in the iron mask. The most mysterious figure in hip-hop has also become one of the most popular, supplying beats and rhymes for Gorillaz, De La Soul, Madlib, Danger Mouse, and Wu-Tang Clan, and drawing praise from heavyweights like Just Blaze, Nas, and Mos Def. Since 2002, MF DOOM has released numerous volumes of Special Herbs, one of the longest-running instrumental series in hip- hop history. With obscure loops and dusty samples galore, Special Herbs is a must-have for any MF DOOM fan or hip-hop head. In case you collect cassettes and support your favorite artists, MF DOOM’s Special Herbs series is now available on cassette for the first time in a limited edition 5xCassette box set. The link to 7-8 is gone, but enjoy Volumes 1-6 and 9-10 below. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

DJ Premier & Jay-Z "7:18" (Mix by Mick Boogie & Chi-Duly)

"What happens when you take Jay-Z’s most lyrical and personal verses & juxtapose them with DJ Premier’s most dark and precise works? The result is 7:18. This mixtape is a love letter to the hiphop we grew up listening to. This is for the people who grew up analyzing the b-side of every Gangstarr and Group Home single. This is for the people who listened to Jay’s “A Million And One Questions” a million and one times. This is music you should only listen to wearing Carhartt jackets and wheat Timbs. Do not listen to this album at a beach under a palm tree. This is music for a cold, grey day. Preferably enjoyed in a 1994 white Lexus. This is raw and uncut Brooklyn hiphop in it’s prime. A tribute to two of the best who ever did it, and in a way only we could bring it to you. We hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed putting it together." Check it out below.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The House List Podcast "Danny Hastings Episode"

Another great episode of the House List Podcast, this time featuring the iconic photographer Danny Hastings. The host of the podcast Peter Agoston had the following to say on the episode, "An incredibly cool convo with the one and only Danny Hastings. His legacy as a hip-hop album photographer is one of legend - having shot multiple covers for Gang Starr, Group Home, Jeru The Damaja, Wu-Tang Clan, Raekwon, Eminem, KRS-One, AZ, Fat Joe, Big Pun, Souls of Mischief, The UMC's, Keith Murray, Mad Skillz, PMD, LL Cool J, The Lox, Tha Liks, Mobb Deep, Tony Touch, and many more." Listen to the full interview below and be sure to follow Danny Hastings HERE.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

uMaNg & D-Rev "Hunter's Moon" (Album Stream)

"Hunter's Moon is the second edition to the Autumn Breathes saga. Inspired by the dark imagery of the blood moon drawn by the astrologic relationship between the sun and moon, this piece is the darker of the two Autumn Breathes show casings, full of near-halloween, late-night energy derived from the erie instrumentals produced by B.B.Z Darney. Since working together before, Umang and D-Rev show they have increased their knowledge of the verbal chemistry they create together when making music from tracks one through ten. As said about the previous project: If one is a fan of the craft of Hip Hop Emceeing, the math that goes into making rhymed words equal to a rhythm, the ecstasy of understanding a metaphor on beat, and the delicacy of making a vivid mental picture on an instrumental, then this is the album for you." Listen to Hunter's Moon below...

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.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Combat Jack Show "Kardinal Offishall Episode"

On this episode, Combat Jack and A-King sit down with the T-Dot ambassador Kardinal Offishall. He’s talking his early years in Hip Hop, opening the door for artists from Canada globally, as well as his forthcoming project “Celebrity Marauders” and much more. Kardi is full of some of the dopest stories from his journey thus far; a career that shows no signs of stopping. Listen to the latest episode of the Combat Jack Show below and keep Combat Jack in your thoughts & prayers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Armand Hammer "Rome" (Album Stream)

"An unsparing indictment of everything. A scratched CD-R ode to the crew of the last nuclear submarine. ROME, the new album by ELUCID and billy woods as ARMAND HAMMER, is the sound of rats in the walls, fleeing. Terrifying, hilarious, chaotic, sleek, violent, implacable, ROME is a feast of words, a stylistic demolition derby over-production both layered and spare. Those tracks come courtesy of August Fanon, Messiah Musik, Kenny Segal, JPEGMAFIA, Fresh Kils and High Priest (Antipop), while appearances by Quelle Chris, Mach Hommy, Denmark Vessey and Curly Castro add to an already potent mix. ELUCID and woods are two of the most vital voices in the genre- as distinct as they are complimentary- at the height of their powers." Something different, stream it below.

Monday, November 13, 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 EVER 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. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Aliano & Jakk Wonders "The Vanguard Heist" (EP Stream)

Aliano & Jakk Wonders are back again for a new EP: "The Vanguard Heist." As a follow-up to their debut project, "California Dreaming" EP, Jakk & Aliano enlist only one feature on The Vanguard Heist, Ruste Juxx. With hard beats and rhymes, it's another solid release to stream below.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Combat Jack Show "Steve Rifkin Episode"

On this episode of the Combat Jack Show, they sit down with iconic record label executive and CEO of Loud Records, Steve Rifkind, at a special Live recording at the A3C Festival. Steve shares his journey growing up in Brooklyn, managing New Edition, creating SRC, signing iconic artists such as Mobb Deep, Big Pun, Wu-Tang Clan, Tha Alkaholiks, and much more. Most importantly - no offense to Mr. Rifkind - Combat Jack also updates us on his battle with cancer. #CombatCancer.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde" (25th Anniversary Mix)

"On Nov 17th 2017, Craft Recordings releases a 25th Anniversary Edition one of the greatest and most celebrated Hip-Hop albums of all time, The Pharcyde’s 'Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde'. The album will be available as a Deluxe Extended Vinyl package (original album on 2LPs + 3 12” singles) and 2CD (original album, plus a full disc of bonus material) with audio remastered by Dave Cooley (J Dilla, Madvillain, Madlib) and will include non-album tracks, remixes, and rarities. New liner notes by leading music journalist and author Jeff Weiss (Passion of the Weiss, LA Weekly) round out the package. The original album with remastered audio will also be available on vinyl and cassette. In celebration of the release WhoSampled has teamed up with Craft Recordings to present this exclusive mixtape..." 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

GZA "Liquid Swords" (Hip-Hop Connection, 1995)

"After the diversion of the Wu-Gambinos, 'Liquid Swords' finds the biggest band in hip-hop returning to their roots as rap's premier verbal swordfighters. The GZA may be the titular head of this particular empire, but once again the Wu represent nine deep with yet more classic material. 'Liquid Swords' isn't as musically experimental as Raekwon's LP, but the quality and depth of Rakeem's talent leaves you floored. This is the most straightforward record he's produced to date, but it's probably the most powerful. '4th Chamber' uses a synth line so dirty and amateurish it could be a Rolf Harris parody of G-Funk ("Can you tell what it is yet?"); 'Liquid Swords' is the first time rap has fucked with ska since BDP dropped "Edutainment'; the filthy beats of 'Swordsman' would be ditched as demos by bands who lacked this lot's courage and suss. But what matters most are the lyrics, and, as befits the solo work of the group's best writer, 'Liquid Swords' doesn't disappoint."

"Yet while The GZA drops jewels, his supporting cast threatens to upstage him - like the group were saving their darkest, deepest shit to see if they could test their own grand master. Method Man arguably shines brightest on the amazing 'Shadowboxin", while Raekwon, Master Killa and Killah Priest all drop some devastating rhymes. Even RZA, often unfairly dismissed as a rapper, kills it with his contribution to '4th Chamber', weaving the ebola virus, skin-bleaching and the eye in the pyramid into a single free-form verse that could be the album's best. Two years ago this would have been unreleasable, unthinkable. That 'Liquid Swords' will be devoured as enthusiastically by true heads as by the rest of the world is testament to just how strong a grip the Wu have over hip-hop. If they carry on like this, world domination is a formality." - Hip-Hop Connection, 1995

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Ghostface Killah "Ghost Stories" Mix

The Smoking Section, UpNorthTrips & Rapfan Present: "Ghost Stories," mixed by Trackstar The DJ: Ghostface Killah's Storytelling Raps. From Smoking Section, "Ghostface Killah is my favorite rapper of all time. Definitively and by far. One of the reasons he’s so great is his ability to weave stories and narratives like a new age Mark Twain in Wallabees. So imagine my delight at this mixtape by our very own Trackstar The DJ, chronicling Ghosts most memorable and compelling stories. It’s crazy to think that this tape has stories of project fights, hotel shootouts, church robberies, and dreams of Spongebob Squarepants. Don’t think of this as a mixtape. Think of it as a collection of stories from one of America’s greatest storytellers." Check out the mix below.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Rakim "The 18th Letter" (Rap Pages, 12/97) + EPK

"Five years is an age in pop, an eternity in hip-hop. No other artform relies so heavily on fashion, is so enveloped in urban trends that change with the seasons. Rap has crashed through more isms in the last ten years than most strands of popular culture manage in a century. So what of Rakim Allah? Little has been heard of the rapper since he and partner Eric B split in 1992. There was also a solo album scheduled in '94, but bootlegs leaked from the studio saw that project scrapped... Rakim's greatest fallibility is that while he knows he exists as one of rap's most articulate emissaries, he's also one of its least analyzed. 'The 18th Letter' conjures up the mystical enigmatics of Rakim Allah, a rapper not afraid to offer solutions, yet unwilling to offer himself out as a modern day pariah. And if it sounds at odds with rap's obsessive self-analysis, it's purely intentional."

"Remember That" and "New York" are deliberately grandiose attempts to romanticize rap's cultural heyday. But a measure of just how cynical hip-hop has become isn't apparent until the end, when a G-Funk version of standalone "Been A Long Time" is tacked on in an attempt to pacify the west coast. Elsewhere, much like the return of EPMD, it's business as usual. Eric B may have no involvement with this album, but the spirit of 'Paid In Full' remains. Rakim signifies the last link between street-battling and rap's independent era. At a time when a handful of conglomerates have swallowed up the remaining traces of hip-hop's autocracy, 'The 18th Letter' - ironically released on a major - is one of the few albums this year to recall the innocent playfulness of the late '80s. But is Rakim cursed to spend the rest of life incognito, popping up once every five years to remind us "Guess Who's Back?" As the album closes, an interviewer asks Rakim what the rapper would like to be remembered for. "My words," he says quietly. Strange then, that the last five year's have seen hip-hop's greatest communicator seemingly tongue-tied." - Rap Pages, December 1997. 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Noveliss "Caligraphy" (Tribute to Nujabes)

"I don't want to dance slow in the rain but I fall below the heavens with Blu playing / I'm through saying I'm through slaying these beats to make ends meet / I'm in deep, see / Dreams bought the car but don't pay the fees, the monthlys / I'm checkin' mics word to "3 Thou", you check to check / But if I fail to create and make heads nod, we neck to neck / Nevertheless my poetry's deep I never waiver / Even at a loss for words, I always find them on the paper / In search of myself, I get lost out in the nature, / too used to putting others before me the new danger / Family first, slayin' verses I get over focused / I worked too many hours this week, / which takes away from me releasing these ideas in my head / I get overloaded..."  - Noveliss, "Caligraphy"

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

DJ Premier x Mass Appeal "Off The Record" (Videos)

Of all the artists he laced with his signature beats, Premo always had a special musical kinship with Nasty Nas. Premier reminisced on the session in the first installment of MASS APPEAL's new series, "Off The Record," where we get the stories behind the sessions that birthed classics. Premier also spoke about recording "Memory Lane (Sittin' in da Park)" with Nas, recalling the Queensbridge rapper's initial approach to attacking the beat and how the title was a compromise between the two musical geniuses. Take a look back at the making of two DJ Premier & Nas bangers below.

There have been a million and one producer and MC combinations over the years, but none are quite like JAY-Z and DJ Premier. The Marcy legend and Gang Starr icon have produced nothing but fire over their brief stint of collaboration ... Premier goes deep on JAY-Z's epic intro "A Million and One Questions" (and its obscure remix), recalling days of cooking up in D&D Studios with Da Beatminerz, Boot Camp Clik and Jigga, rolling dice and playing pool between laying down tracks. Look back at the classic Hov track in the new episode of "Off The Record," below.

The last piece I'll also share is DJ Premier discussing the Gang Starr classic, "Mass Appeal." Premo shares the familiar tale, “We were really making fun of radio, and it became one of our biggest radio records ... We were just saying radio was watering down our stuff, so we were like, ‘You know what? It always sounds like the music in the elevator.” They knocked this one out the park, more below.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Blu & Exile "In The Beginning: Before The Heavens" (Album Stream)

10 years after Blu & Exile released their magnum opus "Below the Heavens," the California duo have reunited to release 14 tracks from the original 2007 sessions. "In the Beginning: Before the Heavens" contains rare songs and unreleased gems – the best of the best chosen from over 40 songs in the vault. In The Beginning: Before the Heavens is made of up songs that are raw and untouched, keeping the authenticity of Blu and Exile’s creativity at the time. The album has guest appearances from familiar names like Dr. Oop, Donel Smokes, Aloe Blacc, and Blame One. While “Soul Provider,” “Another Day,” and “Party of Two” appeared on Blu’s Lifted EP, the majority of these songs showcase Blu rapping at his peak, maintaining his underground attitude as he dishes on reaching star status (“Constellations”), getting radio play (“On the Radio”), or opposing views in a problem-ridden world (“You’re Gonna Die Someday”). Exile, meanwhile, builds a golden hip-hop era feel with head-nodding samples and DJ scratches. Available via Fat Beats

Monday, October 30, 2017

Big Daddy Kane "Taste Of Chocolate" (Tootsie Roll Promo)

"Big Daddy Kane gave one of his most consistent efforts with Taste of Chocolate, his third album. Kane not only had first-rate technique and rhyming skills working to his CD's advantage, he also had quite a bit of excellent and varied material to choose from. Though he still spends too much time bragging about his microphone skills, such hard-hitting numbers as "Mr. Pitiful" and his sobering "Dance With The Devil" show just how substantial he can be. This time, Kane is joined by a number of distinguished guests, including Barry White (who is typically charismatic on the rap ballad "All of Me"); Malcolm X's daughter Gamilah Shabazz (with whom he duets on "Who Am I") and the raunchy comedian Rudy Ray Moore. When Kane and Moore exchange insults on "Big Daddy Vs. Dolemite" things get outrageously entertaining." - Alex Henderson // Taste of Chocolate was Big Daddy Kane's first album to go gold, reaching #33 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the R&B chart. According to Chuck D's This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History, it was released on this day in 1990. Listen HERE and check out the promotional 13" tootsie roll that was released in 1990 along with the album. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Pharoahe Monch "Evolve" (The Source, 1995)

"The majority of us don't even recognize that Amerikkka is outgrowing its need for our generation. Now, some might say Amerikkka has used us enough. True, but with the numerous, recent government attacks on welfare, senior citizens aid and educational programs, we at least need to be more useful to ourselves and our families. When your world is encompassed within a six block radius, you are limiting your knowledge to that circumference. If in this psychological circle around your being, you find total paradise as such - $10 for weed, $1 for Phillies, $2 for a 40 oz. and $3 for chicken wings and pork fried rice - you are indeed living a shallow existence monetarily and spiritually. As MCs, we have a definite voice of power. Our words will be forever immortalized on vinyl, tapes, CDs, etc., for generations to peep beyond our own existence. No, it is not every MC's responsibility to bring wisdom to the light because creativity shouldn't be limited to just teaching. However, if you possess the ability to open someone's eyes, move masses and expand their world but you refuse to, then you have forsaken your gift from The Most High. As it stands now, our industry does not reward intellect over ignorance, especially when the negative influences are a billion dollar commodity. The youth have to reach out for more and demand better from life and art. If we don't, our culture will implode - growing smaller until we ultimately cease to exist." - Pharoahe.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mood "Doom" (Hip-Hop Connection, 1/98)

"Lauded by their label as "the end of hip-hop as we know it," Mood - a three piece from Cincinnati, Ohio - are taking a more political and philosophical slant on the rap game. Of course, plenty of rappers have tried to get deep on us, but Mood's apocalyptic rants have more substance to them than most, making references to journalists and CIA figures to back up their shadowy conspiracy theories. "Esoteric Manuscripts" gives a good pointer to the Mood style, with its eerie guitar strum and tinkling glockenspiel, while the beat provides a crisp crunch as satisfying as a packet of Pringles. 'Karma' shows off the skills of rappers Donte and Main-Flow to best effect, as they overlap and intertwine their solid, flamboyant flows." Check out the banger, 'Karma,' cont'd below...

"The production - handled partly by their deejay, Jahson, and also Hi-Tek of Reflection Eternal - also has some nice touches, but what lets Mood down is their beats. Created completely by drum machines, they don't provide enough of a spread of rhythms to hold your interest for 19 tracks. For all their doom-laded tales, Mood are showing us something positive: that hip-hop's got somewhere to go after the big willies have gone limp. (II)" - Hip-Hop Connection, January 1998.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Alps Cru "Time Machine" (EP Stream)

Newly recorded boom-bap goodness from international cult-favorites Alps Cru has arrived! The latest limited-edition vinyl release of Alps material from F5 Records features two never-before-heard beats made by DJ Alejan on the ASR-10 in 1996. Shorty Live and P Da Wicked’s effortless chemistry is on full display on the first half of the EP. El Da Sensei joins them as they travel back to the golden age over a vintage DJ Alejan beat on “Time Machine.” The second half of the EP features Shorty Live (aka Brank Napp) on the solo tip. As Brank Napp says on the DJ Crucial-produced banger “Facts” – “This is more for the more mature who want more from a rap song.” 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Nasty Nas & The Extra P "The Lost Album"

The inspiration for this project might have been best summed up by Nas himself: "Large Professor was the one that really started working with me first…so we were on to a lot of crazy ideas…he really could have done the entire [Illmatic] record and in the beginning, I wanted him to. Once I was working with him, why would you need to go anywhere else? You got HIM…so my thought was that one day it would happen and he would do the whole thing" Since that day has yet to come, we put together our own version of this elusive "lost album." Drawing from the wealth of post-Illmatic Large Pro instrumentals and Nas acapellas, we carefully paired some of the best examples of two artists at the top of their game, highlighting some underrated works while reimagining hooks and adlibs to help fuel the illusion of an authentic collaboration - via ItsOverture

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Grand Puba "Reel To Reel" 20th Anniversary Mix

A brief description of the mix was put up by Hellee Hooper, explaining "To honor a masterpiece in Hip hop music, I have put together this mix to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Reel To Reel By Grand Puba." For years, I only had this album on cassette, and while I do think it's a great album, cassette probably wasn't the best format because there was a bit of filler on the album, which damaged the replay value for me. That said, I honestly do think Grand Puba was heavily slept-on as an MC, trendsetter, and a potential star rising up from his crew, Brand Nubian. Word around town was always that he was hard to work with (allegedly), which might have been holding him back. "Big Kids Don't Play" is still one of my favorite joints though lol Now is a good time to revisit Grand Puba's "Reel To Reel," props to Hellee Hooper on the mix, listen below.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Nature "Queens Classics 2" (Album Stream)

I haven't stopped rockin' Volume 1 of Nature's "Queens Classics," now he's back with a second throwback release! More Queens hood classics with tracks featuring Half A Mil (R.I.P.), Styles P, Nas, Pete Rock, Noreaga, Fat Joe, FT, Capone-N-Noreaga, DJ Clue, Littles, 50 Cent & lots more. Hit the tags to dig up the first Queens Classic, and dig into this release below to get that old feeling back!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Es Nine "When The Pendulum Swings" (Album Stream)

The debut album from producer / turntablist Es Nine. The album features Hip-Hop heavyweights Fashawn, Rakaa Iriscience (of Dilated Peoples), A.G. (of D.I.T.C.), Supastition, Wildelux, Glad2Mecha, Fo Chief, A.V.I.U.S., Riley Boone, Ruby Z and a remix from Marco Polo. Stream it below.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Reef The Lost Cauze "Lecture at Rider University" (Video)

Working alongside the American Studies program at Rider, Sharif Lacey aka Reef The Lost Cauze spoke to a group of students and music lovers.... Lacey touched on topics such as the cultural roots of hip-hop, the difference between classic and modern hip-hop music and why the genre matters now more than ever. “If you wake up like me, you wake up every day kind of terrified of what’s gonna happen next,” he said. While Lacey said that hip-hop music has been politically charged and socially conscious for decades - rap group Public Enemy spoke out “in rage” during the crack epidemic in the early 1980s - modern artists such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Joey Bada$$ are shedding light on current political issues. “I think that’s the most important thing that hip-hop can offer to our kids and for our future” ... Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Lacey said he had a “stereotypical” upbringing: drugs, poverty, crime and an absent father. To combat this, he decided to “educate and empower” himself by listening to rappers such as Public Enemy, Kane, Rakim and Poor Righteous Teachers. “All these guys told me something that I wasn’t being told by anybody else. It kicked down that door, that we understood what was going on in the world.” ... Whether it’s word-of-mouth, social media or through student’s physical presence at Rider, Lacey encouraged the audience to speak out on issues that matter to them. “It’s going to be vital for you to use your voice in this time” ... “We’re in a world of trouble, and it’s not gonna change unless we band together!” - Rider News. You can watch the full lecture from Reef The Lost Cauze below...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Innate "Ways To Go" (Album Stream)

"Innate is now at the helm of his blossoming solo career and has reemerged with Ways To Go. Entirely written, produced and recorded by Innate, the new project is his first solo effort and an attempt to make his mark on the culture. Featuring sample-heavy production and infectious yet conscious hooks, Ways To Go veers slightly away from the mostly optimistic tone of Such As I, delving deeper into Innate’s personal life and experiences with loss, self-awareness, and what it means to be an artist. While the album is free from the clutter of excessive features so routinely used on contemporary recordings, Innate enlists E.P. for “Long Road” and vocalist Nate Jackson for “Big Sur.” In a world where unrelated singles seem to flow endlessly off the conveyor belt of mainstream music, the seamlessly woven nature of Ways To Go is a breath of fresh air. It’s ultimately a narrative commenting on everything Innate has learned over the years, as well as an acknowledgement he still has a ways to go. With a wealth of experience behind him, he understands the journey is the lesson and the lesson never ends." Listen to Innate's Ways To Go LP below...

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Combat Jack Show "The Return of Redman Episode"

​Damn, because this isn't something I feel should come from anyone but the source, I ask that you please listen to the PSA from Combat Jack explaining his absence on this episode. With that, he is in my thoughts and prayers, and I will certainly reach out to express my support and encouragement. Exhale ... now, this is a special live taping of the Combat Jack Show, where their guest is none other than the Funk Doc, Redman & guest hosting is honorable member of the show, super-producer Just Blaze. I was eager to hear Red give an update on Muddy Waters 2, but he also touches on the current climate in Hip-Hop today, his new show on VH1 & the (un)usual comedy you'd expect from the humble - but hilarious - legend. Listen to this episode of the Combat Jack Show below.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tony Touch "Tape 33" (Mixtape, 1993)

This is Hip-Hop 33, by Tony Touch. Released in the golden era of hip-hop, this mix tape is packed full of now-classic cuts from the Wu-Tang Clan, Black Moon, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, Da Youngsta's, MC Lyte, D-Nice, Jeru The Damaja, Akinyele, 2Pac, The Whooliganz, KRS-One, M.O.P., Das Efx, De La Soul and lots more. Listen below, props to DJStepOne for having lots of dope tapes on his Mixcloud.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hex One "Words Worth A Thousand Pictures" (Album Stream)

"Fueled by today's lack of appreciation and the decline in the art of the lyricist, Hex One's latest album 'Words Worth a Thousand Pictures' aims to take a stand for those who are truly masters of their craft. Technical, yet with a clear and concise message and deeply personal at times, Hex One offers a glimpse into his life as an MC and the world he lives in as seen through the scope of his lens. Backed by hard headnodic beats, deep, soulful samples with east coast and jazz influences, and booming drums and bass lines, Hex masterfully shatters contemporary society's notion of Hip-hop being a lowbrow genre of music. Despite music itself being highly subjective in nature, he aims to remove some of this subjectivity and boldly proclaim that some art simply takes more skill than others and talent is most certainly measurable. The ironic disconnect, however, between this measure of talent and the measure of one's success poses to be one of his life's greatest woes. The album is thus presented with a subtle melancholic tone throughout, as he struggles to come to terms with this realization. The bigger irony perhaps being that he does so with the same intricate attention to detail and lyrical prowess that is undervalued and overlooked in Hip-hop's musical landscape today. His philosophy remains: if a picture is worth a thousand words, so too can a poets words be worth a thousand pictures." Stream Hex One's "Words Worth a Thousand Pictures" below.