Saturday, June 30, 2018

Natural Elements "Built To Last Mix"

The 'Built To Last' Radio Show is hosted by Corrado & I Joe, each Thursday from 8-9pm on Radio campus FM in Toulouse, France. This is another artist tribute mix, this time the legendary underground hip-hop crew, Natural Elements: L Swift, A Butta & Mr. Voodoo, along with Charlemagne on most of the production. Any fans that grew up in the same era of hip-hop as me - with access, of course - were glued to radio to try and catch the Natural Elements crew, late at night, dropping off live freestyles and going bar for bar with one another. Or, up at Fat Beats. Their LP on Tommy Boy Black had it's obvious setbacks, finally getting an independent CD release some years back, plus multiple vinyl releases to celebrate old demos, instrumentals and slept-on cuts. Dig all that up as you can, but for now get familiar with this tightly constructed "Built To Last" mix. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ill Conscious "The Underachiever" (Mixtape Stream)

Dropping on Ill Catz Records (a Belgian label), Ill Conscious' debut mixtape from back in '09-10, "The Underachiever." I'm told this release is limited to about 100 physical cassettes and it's the 9th release from the Ill Catz label. As they also work on pressing "The Prerequisite" to cassette next, we get to dig back into this throwback mix. The 18-track offering features original cuts produced by Mizfitz Sound, Da Cypher, Tom Delay, Josh Grooves, T-Mos, Skratch Zilla, Sinitus Tempo and a nice blend of freestyles over industry beats - Exhibit C & Devil In A Blue Dress to name a few - spread throughout. It's dope that young artists are aware that their back catalogs hold value & can be leverage for new $ too! I've only been to Belgium once (2010, European Tour with Eternia), it's a shame I never crossed paths with the good folks at Ill Catz Records, I wish them much success. Stream "The Underachiever Mixtape" below & order a limited cassette HERE.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Evilldewer "13" (Instrumental Album)

You don't see a lot of Beat Tapes with "Parental Advisory" labels for explicit content, lol. Enter the Boston producer Evilldewer and his latest opus, "13." A perfect blend of instrumentals and vocal samples, carefully curated and brought to you over its 16 tracks. As far as beat tapes go, this is one of the best of 2018, I recommend it (obviously, I'm posting it!), so dig into it below. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the full tape available for stream - just a taste - so if you like what you hear, do consider purchasing a copy and you'll enjoy the rest of the project just as much. I don't particularly like artists that post that way, but to each his own, right? Check it out.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Klaus Layer "Lost Track" (Album Stream)

"Klaus Layer, Berlin's boom bap specialist, returns with an all-new album designed to shake up global soundwaves. Following up his experimental instrumental concept-album, "Society Collapse" and his "Abstractions" EP with rapper K.A.A.N., Klaus Layer's latest effort is his sixth album on Redef, but his first solo project to feature all vocals over his acclaimed productions. Entitled "Lost Track," Klaus assembled an international team of top notch MCs to grace his legendary sounds. Amazingly, the album features the Artifacts, Hex One, Simple One and most prominently Blu on no less than four of the albums nine tracks. Musically it wouldn't be complete without scratches so long time collaborators Educut & Mr Nylson showed up to lace the producer previously known as Captain Crook with razor sharp cuts. "Lost Track" is a pure rap album, and while it may be slightly less experimental than Klaus' recent output, it has a sound unlike anyone else in the genre and is deserving of any accolades headed its way... The album title refers to the rarity of this particular material and a nod to the bespoke graff burner ("Crook") which graces the album cover...." Listen...

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gang Starr "The Ownerz" (Vibe Magazine, June 2003)

"For the generation of hip-hoppers who preserved through puberty with the help of conscious kings like KRS-One and Chuck D, but came of age stuck on the street nihilism of Kool G Rap and, later, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr represents a stripped-down and indispensable aesthetic. Few groups embody good old-fashioned hip hop like Keith "Guru" Elam, 36, and Chris Martin, aka DJ Premier, 34, who still encompass the breadth of hip hop before it splintered into subgenres - each too good to recognize the others. The duo has maintained a blemish-free catalog for 14 years, including classics like Step In The Arena and Daily Operation. Should they falter, let alone fall off, as most of their contemporaries have, it would truly indicate the end of an era. But Gang Starr's formula is both straightforward and timeless. And as evidenced by The Ownerz, their first studio album in five years, the two have no intention of switching it up this late in the game."

"You know their steez: Songs like "Riot Akt" fit right into the canon of Gang Starr greats. Melancholy horns accent a diesel bass line, while Guru laments that "real criminals got immunity." In his simple but pleasant cadence, the 5'8 MC again puts substance before slickness - and the results are refreshing... Each of The Ownerz' songs, however, stands on its own as a respectable Gang Starr effort... While The Ownerz does not spark any new rap trends, it brings back the power of the basics in an ever-evolving rap music landscape. For the first time in five years, a generation of Gang Starr disciples can take ownership of their music, and claim it as a moment of truth." - Vibe, 6/03

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Apollo Brown & Locksmith "No Question" (Album Stream)

"West Coast Berkeley grad, battle rapper and musician Locksmith has hammered out a reputation as one of Hiphop's most enlightened no punch pulling emcees. From his early appearances on MTV's Freestyle Championship to his frequent Shade 45 appearances, Locksmith always brings cutting lyricism that not only questions the status quo but offers deep truths for reflection. Meanwhile Detroit's Apollo Brown has built his illustrious career on emotive production that draws the best out of already legendary mic kings. From his work with Ras Kass and OC, Skyzoo to Ghostface Killah, Apollo repeatedly creates eyes shut, head nodding, soul stirring perfection for our greatest storytellers to lay their truth bare. So when Richmond & Detroit came together in the studio the answer was "No Question" - a new project that finds Locksmith ruminating on everything from advice to his younger self to his continued drive to rise w/o following in anyones footsteps." - MMG

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Theory Hazit "Thr3e" (June 23, 2013)

Thr3e is the third album in the Lord Fire series by Scribbling Idiot member Theory Hazit. Entirely produced by Dert, this album is full of storytelling, reflection, faith and dope beats. "Theory Hazit was born and raised in Winchester, Kentucky with the support of his grandma, an aunt and two uncles. He always had a vivid imagination, enjoying cartoons more than music videos." A man of faith and a very cerebral MC, I've long been a steady fan of his music and along with "Extra Credit," and "Lord Fire," this "Thr3e" release is among my favorites in his catalog. Tracks like "What Lies Beneath" and especially "For Lack of Better Words," represent the quality of Theory Hazit's work that draws me in as a fan. I actually wanted my artist, Eternia, to jump on "For Lack of Better Words;" however different the style mighta been for her (production-wise), I still think it woulda been an incredible collaboration. I'll say it now - on the record - a separate collab will come eventually. In the meantime, dig into Theory's "Thr3e" album, and really sit with the lyrics today, on it's 5th anniversary.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Westside Gunn "Supreme Blientele" (Album Stream)

“They wondered could I make an album better/equivalent to FLYGOD and I answered simply ‘this album is a masterpiece,’” Gunn said on Instagram. “Every beat, rhyme, feature is stellar. As a true fan of hip hop and my love for art, I can honestly say this will prove that I’m a legend. I’ve never claimed to be the best lyricist but I make some of the best music and influence the best in the game. This what the culture needed.” Locked in at 17 tracks, the album with three titles (yes, three) is absolutely stacked with features from Conway, Jadakiss, eLZhi, Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, Roc Marciano, Benny, and CRIMEapple, over seriously banging production from Alchemist, Daringer, Statik Selektah, Pete Rock, Harry Fraud, 9th Wonder, and more. - via 2DBZ

Friday, June 22, 2018

Nas "NASIR" (Album Stream)

Nasir is the twelfth studio album by Nas, released through Mass Appeal Records and Def Jam Recordings. It succeeds Nas' album Life Is Good, released six years prior in 2012. The album features an appearance from executive producer Kanye West, as well as Puff Daddy, 070 Shake, Tony Williams, and The-Dream. When it was announced that Nas would be releasing an album entirely produced by Kanye West, I said I wasn't sure if I was going to listen to it, because Kanye West is a musical genius who trades in f#ckery and I'm not here for it. I skipped the livestream of the premiere in the Queensbridge Projects & kept my head down when people discussed the album, but ultimately I clicked play. It was better than I thought, but not better than it should have been. The vocals from Nas didn't sit in a familiar pocket, which makes me wonder if it was remixed, phoned in or they just didn't sit in on the sessions together. It's been a mixed response, some people do love it, so I'm reserving the right to revisit it, but I suspect this will come and go, with Nas announcing new material shortly. Unrelated, I wanna send a congrats out to Nas for all his recent success with upstarts and investments ... the culture doesn't report enough on that, but keep shining brother.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prodigy "H.N.I.C" (Mixtape, 2000)

"In 2000, before Prodigy released his official solo debut album, H.N.I.C., he teamed up with DJ Whoo Kid to drop his first ever solo mixtape called H.N.I.C. Pt. 1. The tape, hosted by the two, featured unreleased exclusives and never-before-heard freestyles from Prodigy. Whoo Kid recalls Prodigy's respect for the DJ, saying: "He was a fan of the DJ, so he was a fan of Clue, a fan of me, a fan of Cutmaster C, all the Queens DJs that was out there ... Prodigy was actually the first one to give me album cuts that aren’t finished. He did like, maybe a few freestyles, but it was mostly unfinished versions of other Mobb Deep songs, Havoc cuts. It was kind of bugged out." The mixtape had songs Prodigy did with Alchemist that were never released, so when they dropped the tape, it caused issues between Whoo Kid and Alchemist "because Prodigy was the type who didn’t care about getting permission to release his own shit." ...  Remembering what made Prodigy so unique, Whoo Kid points to P's unique delivery as a distinction. "Whenever you’d hear Prodigy come on, you know, Havoc was the cool nigga, he’s in the back, he got his verses or whatever, but when you finally hear Prodigy come on, he was believable. His voice, his cadence, made you want to do what you gotta do, because of the way he was dealing with his sickness. His sickness came out into the music." - XXL

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Kyo Itachi "Rest In Power" (Album Stream)

New release on Brain Connection 1978 Label ... "After Musikyo (2010) and Genkidama (2017), Kyo Itachi is Back with his 3rd production album Rest In Power dedicated to the memory of his mother. Kyo is in constant elevation to create this very special album during 4 years to get quality and stay real hip hop. music was only sampled with a mix of his different drum Machines like Mpc 2000xl, SP1200, Maschine. = Crunchy beats ,street sounds, and different emotions, cuts ... featuring legends & underground dope emcees like Sean Price (Rest in Power), Roc Marciano, Smoothe Da Hustler, Planet Asia, Royal Flush, Chino XL, Ruste Juxx, Sadat X, Craig G, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Krondon, Da Buze Bruvaz, Nolan The Ninja and more." Listen to "Rest In Power," streaming below...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prodigy "Thief's Theme" x "Stay Chiseled" Freestyles

June 20, 2018 is the one year anniversary of the death of Mobb Deep's Prodigy. To commemorate his creative partner's untimely passing, Havoc has shared two "unreleased exclusive freestyles," as with DJ Absolut. "Thief's Theme," originally a single from Nas's 2004 album Street's Disciple, features both members of Mobb Deep, while Prodigy is solo on "Stay Chiseled," which appeared on Large Professor's 2002 album First Class. Listen to both below, via Fader. Rest In Peace, Prodigy!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Crimeapple & Big Ghost Ltd. "Aguardiente" (Album Stream)

Crimeapple & Big Ghost Ltd collaborate a piece of fine art with "Aguardiente." Straight to the point, Big Ghost Ltd says, "I dont sweat the AOTY year shit at all.. Y'all can have those. Ya boy focused on building a timeless unfuckwittable discography b. I want the Big Ghost Ltd name to be some shit y'all cam rely on. My guy Crimeapple brought me one step closer to that goal." Say less, right? Everyone involved has a reputation that commands that you give this a listen below...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 3" (Mixtape)

Debonair P is a Melbourne-based DJ, producer, engineer and label owner (Gentleman's Relief Records). He put together a nice blend of underground hip-hop tracks from the 90s, cycling through dozens of tracks in around 70 minutes. You'll hear joints from Scientifik, Jeru The Damaja, AZ, Lord Finesse, Juggaknots, Mic Geronimo, Chino XL, DJ Spinna, Method Man, Kool G Rap, Sauce Money, Grand Puba, T-Max, Nick Wiz, Guru, Buckshot, Show & AG, The Nonce, Bahamadia & more.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Nas x DJ Green Lantern "The N Tape" (Mixtape, 2008)

"While Nasir Jones' revised untitled album strives for somber profundity - sketchy essays on Farrakhan, Fox News, and yes, friend chicken - this mix tape puts the N-word on blast like a grad-school gangsta soundclash. Pissed, self-aggrandizing, earnest, surrounded by pop-culture samples blowing like air horns, Nas nods to pioneering race wits Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney, N.W.A., et al. And here, "Black President" - his moving hesitant Obama tribute - is the vibrant centerpiece, not an obligatory coda." - Spin Magazine. Released 10 years ago today, listen to the mixtape below...

Friday, June 08, 2018

Codenine & Paranom "Million Dollar Mink" (Album Stream)

Tragic Allies members Codenine & Paranom step up to the plate with their latest release "Million Dollar Mink." Also featuring Estee Nack, Daniel Son, Vinyl Villain, Icon Curties, Grubby Pawz, Karnate & lots more, the project is a real vibe of lush production and luxury rap. I became a real fan of the Haitian-American MC, Paranom, from Lynn, Massachusetts when he dropped his "Life Outside The Frame" project with Purpose. There's a higher elevation to his songwriting and his bar structure is top notch. Dig into this project below and then hit the archives for past LP and EP releases.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Revisiting an Old Playlist

Diggin' through the crates tonight, curating a golden era vibe in the crib. It started with some Gang Starr, Nas, and Mobb Deep, then went deeper underground to some Adagio!, Natural Elements, Troubleneck Brothers and more. It reminded me to 1) update this site more (I know!) and 2) that I did create a playlist a while back that no one probably ever heard, lol. So, I pulled it up and sure enough: Natural Elements, M.O.P., Troubleneck Brothers, Noreaga, Nas, Big Pun, Gang Starr, Phife, The Whooliganz, Real Live, Cormega & more ... More or less, I come back to a lot of the same artists over time, even if the songs from said artists change up. If you're 1 of the 190 plays on the playlist, props to you, lol ... otherwise, give it a listen. There are some other playlists on this site, click the tags & I'll start making some more ... comment if you want obscure, themed or more current.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

MoSS "Marching To The Sound Of My Own Drum" (Videos)

Back in November 2015, after years of collaborations with such as Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Obie Trice, Sean Price, Kool G Rap, Eternia and countless others, Toronto-based producer MoSS released his debut producer album entitled "Marching To The Sound Of My Own Drum". Since the beginning of his career, the Canadian beatsmith, record digger and music connoisseur has been making a name for himself with his signature sound and on this record he gives an amazing display of what he's capable of doing being backed up by an all stars team that features AZ, Havoc, Slum Village, Onyx, Inspectah Deck, Ill Bill, Skyzoo, Guilty Simpson and 20+ other legendary MC's. A few years after its original release, we've decided to team up with MoSS to bring you this masterpiece on wax and, for the occasion, he's also added an unreleased bonus track called "We Here" that features Smif-N-Wessun that, together with "Emotional Redux", we've put on a 7" together with its instrumental.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Black Thought "Streams of Thought, Vol.1" EP (Album Stream)

With Black Thought of The Roots going up to Funk Flex recently, he lit a spark and opened the eyes of countless new fans - his freestyle was unquestionably a viral moment. Regrettably, he dropped his collaborative project ("Streams of Thought Vol.1") with 9th Wonder & The Soul Council amidst the beef between Drake & Pusha T, not to mention the same day as Kanye dropped his project (I don't even know the title of it). Bar for bar, Black Thought is your favorite rapper's favorite rapper and everyone knows it. I salute Method Man for trading verses with Thought up at Sway In The Morning, that was another viral moment to a lesser degree. 'Streams of Thought Vol.1' is Thought's debut EP and will be first in a series of 3, which features Rapsody, Styles P & more. He adds, “None of this is my solo album. It’s just a chance to see me in a different light doing a different thing.”

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Pusha T "The Story of Adidon" (Drake Diss)

"Since you name-dropped my fiancée
Let 'em know who you chose as your Beyoncé
Sophie knows better as your baby mother
Cleaned her up for IG, but the stench is on her
A baby's involved, it's deeper than rap
We talkin' character, let me keep with the facts
You are hiding a child, let that boy come home
Deadbeat mothafucka playin' border patrol, ooh"

A signature "Yuugh!" from Pusha T on this whole track, no question. I'm not above being petty, for sure, or else I wouldn't even post this audio, but the questions a beef like this raises are more important than the beef itself. Rules? Boundaries? Codes? Now, as layered an MC as Pusha T is, I suspect he only went low because he knows more than we do, or else he wouldn't take these shots at 40; he's above that, no? So, while I won't post about it again (unless another great track accompanies it), we're gonna see it play out. Maybe questions will be answered, because, ya know, Hip-Hop is still young, we're learning as we're going, so this may end as a blueprint for beef moving forward. Again ... Yuugh! Walk away, Drake. Photo courtesy of Purple PR.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Wyclef Jean "The Carnival" (Classic Material)

Perhaps an interesting choice to touch on Wyclef's debut here, but listen ... I have very fond memories of the Fugees' smash 'The Score' and even Salaam's portion of 'Blunted on Reality.' When the summer of '97 hit, it was Wyclef's 'The Carnival' - not the whole album, but definitely the front end of the project got a ton of burn. The production on "Apocalypse" and the crossover anthem "Guantanamera" gave me lots to discuss with the Cuban family I was staying with while working a night job in Manhattan between semesters in college. You can't deny Clef's talent as a "writer, instrumentalist, producer and mastermind behind the group's sound." Sure enough, the album went double platinum & even if "Gone Til November" and "We're Trying to Stay Alive" weren't MY favorite tracks on the album, he had a fresh blueprint and "if an immigrant kid from Haiti can become an international superstar responsible for two classics, then anything can happen." Word. Read more below & salute to Salaam Remi and Warren Riker for the incredible mixing & mastering on the project. Much love to L Boogie. Enjoy the nostalgia.