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.