Monday, February 18, 2019

A Tribe Called Quest "Scenario" Live in 1992


I mentioned the Scenario remix just the other day, got me thinking back to Tribe and Phife, of course, rest in peace. Then, I was on YouTube and because I mentioned it here, Google remembers everything (suspect!) and it suggested a live video of A Tribe Called & Quest and Leaders of the New School up at the Arsenio Hall Show in '92. Gotta appreciate all that Arsenio Hall did to broadcast Hip-Hop to a national crowd, and peep the CD longbox he's holding? Geez, I hated those things back in the day, but now I wish I had more of them, just for the unique versions of the artwork. In the interview after the live performance, Arsenio asks, "We've got problems in this country: riots here, economy problems everywhere, drugs, education, what would you like to say to the youth of America, 'cuz they need to hear positive things..." Ali Shaheed Muhammad says, "As far as those who have turned 18 years old, A Tribe Called Quest suggests that you go out there and register to vote, and that's real. That's your voice. As far as those under 18, stay in school, study, for real - it's a big game you have to learn to play. Definitely." I wish I could say times have changed. They also discuss the relationship between the title "The Low End Theory" and 808s, as well as changing stereotypes for how people look at the black youth in America. Check it out below.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Fugees "Blunted On Reality" Press Kit


Defying all classifications, the Fugees (Pras, Clef, and Lauryn) are bringing a totally fresh perspective to hip-hop: one that's as intellectual as it is musical. Blunted On Reality, the Fugees' furious debut album, will undoubtedly get the group where they want to go, despite where they've come from. Chronicling the experiences of Pras and Clef - young Haitians in an America that set them as "refugees" - the Fugees use the 12 tracks of their album to give their side of the story in terms both specific and universal. Blunted On Reality is the story of anyone who's ever sought refuge. "We're all refugees," Pras points out. "We all seek refuge in our minds," philosophizes Clef. "We all want to escape somewhere, we're all really immigrants because we're trying to get somewhere and never end up there." These three drug-free MCs have discovered that music and life itself has the power to intoxicate and therein lies the meaning of the title, Blunted On Reality. Their self-produced LP vigorously combines elements of reggae, rock, funk, and a complex East Coast production ethic giving the Fugees sound the kind of depth that pushes East Coast rap into a whole other dimension. The Fugees cop to a surprising range of musical influences, citing Bob Marley, Phil Collins, Guns & Roses, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Thelonius Monk, Pink Floyd, and Elton John among the strains of sound that somehow seep into their complex musical mix. - via Press Kit.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Big Picture - 15 Classic Big L Freestyles #RIPBIGL


"On February 15th, 1999, Harlem rapper Big L (aka Lamont Coleman) was tragically gunned down in the same neighborhood that he consistently repped in his rhymes. His murder came at a time when he had one of the most-talked about singles out, “Ebonics,” his D.I.T.C. crew was making major noise with posse cuts like “Day One,”and his mixtape and radio freestyles were scorching in the streets, which all led to his sophomore album being one of the most anticipated projects by a New York MC to drop. There were even rumors that he was signing to Roc-A-Fella Records, the hottest and most successful young label in the Big Apple at the time led by his rapper friend Jay Z. Unfortunately, his moment to shine at the next level never came. To celebrate Big L’s rap career today ... we thought to truly highlight the essence of Big L’s lyrical greatness, charisma, performance ability, and bottomless pit of bars, we’d round up 15 of his dopest radio, mixtape, and live freestyles (plus a few bonuses because that’s how we do), and put them all together in one mix for you to enjoy." - via NahRight & UpNorthTrips (2014), enjoy the mix below. Rest in Peace, Big L.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Klim Beats "Dusty Buttons" (Instrumental Album)


"Dusty Buttons," is the latest instrumental album from the very talented producer & composer from Kiev (Ukraine), Klim Beats! A blend of hard-hitting beats, with a bit more punchier feel to it this time. Hamburg's DJ C.S.P. is featured on the tracks, providing really sharp and precise scratching, which makes the project all the more fine-tuned. I caught a beat tape from Klim Beats some years back when I was in between projects with my artists, so there wasn't much I could do except enjoy listening to it, but I've been following and supporting his music ever since. Much respect to the international producers out there. Stream the project below & click through for more beats.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Rub "Love Raps" Mix (Valentine's Day)


A special Valentine's mix via The Rub, "Love Raps." Don't be fooled, there are JOINTS! on this mix. For example, tracks by Meth & Mary J, Lost Boyz, Jay-Z, Outkast, Mos Def, Eve, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Ed O.G., Eric B & Rakim, plus lots more. Their blurb: "Recorded live at House of Wax in Downtown Brooklyn, Love Rap is over two and a half hours of hip-hop love songs. From LL Cool J “I Need Love” (1987) to SZA & Travis Scott “Love Galore” (2017), this is the very best of rap romance and sexual braggadocio." I'm likely skip over some of the more commercial, new records, but I fault them none for including them to celebrate their diverse taste in music (and audience).

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Eric B. & Rakim "Lyrics Of Fury" (1988)


There is no secret to their success -- it's about nothing but talent. Eric B. grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, New York loving basketball and music. He played trumpet and guitar as a youth and then graduated to the turntables when rap first surfaced in the late 70s. By 1985 Eric was good enough to work as a mobile deejay for urban contemporary giant WBLS - New York. It was at BLS that Eric met Marley Marl, the on-air mixer for "Mr. Magic's Rap Attack." Rakim himself was born William Griffin in Brooklyn. He grew up in Wyandanch, Long Island, one of five kids in a musical family and the nephew of early rock'n'roll immortal Ruth Brown. An honor roll student, Rakim was writing rhymes and rapping from the time he was a seventh grader. He and Eric met and clicked right away. "We made a promise that our music had to be positive, strong, and different," remembers Rakim, whose interest in Islam is reflected in his stage name. "And I think we've kept our promise." - via Press Kit / Bio. Perhaps not looked at as their most popular track, but "Lyrics Of Fury" on "Follow The Leader" is widely considered one of the greatest expressions of lyrical exercise, and my favorite track off their "Follow The Leader" album in 1988. Lyrics and video below.

"I haunt if you want the style I possess
I bless the child, the earth, the gods and bomb the rest
For those that envy an MC, it can be Hazardous to your health so be friendly
A matter of life and death, just like a Etch A Sketch
Shake 'til you're clear, make it disappear, make the next
After the ceremony, let the rhyme rest in peace"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Kurious "A Constipated Monkey" Press Kit/Bio


Staring down hip-hop's tiresome faddishness, Pete Nice's Hoppoh Records & Bobbito Garcia's Hit U Off Management offer up the perfect antidote: a new kinda rapper who calls himself Kurious. With "A Constipated Monkey" -- his 12 song debut album -- Kurious embarks on an illuminated journey into the center of his schizoid universe all set to a soundtrack of dope beats and fluid musical snippets courtesy of fellow Latin hip-hop artists, The Beatnuts & Stimulated Dummies. As inquisitive as his cartoon namesake, Kurious trades in reality -- not hardcore gangsta caricatures -- and finds a bizarre universe hidden in the tiny details and humorous mishaps that make up everyday life. His down-to-earth lyrics and slicing rhyming skills have earned Kurious the most precious of rap commodities: respect from the New York hip-hop community from which he sprang. "The key to my whole deal," says Kurious, "is that it's natural, I'm not trying to prove any point. I never brag about having money 'cause I don't have any." But never mind the disclaimer, the main weapon in the Kurious arsenal is his razor-sharp wit. - via Kurious' Hoppah Records promotional bio/press kit. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Kool G Rap & Nas "Fast Life" (DJ Step One Blend)


"...But dough don't respect me, it got me handcuffed 
The rough life, I just be up nights, breathin' with scuffed Nike's 
Pour my beers for my peoples under the stairs 
These years I got they names in my swears..."
- Nas (Kool G Rap's "Fast Life")

There may be no Nas without Kool G Rap, but it's visual lyrics like the bars above that make Nas consistently one of my favorite MCs of all-time. I'm on record saying Kool G Rap is one of the greatest lyricists of our generation, no question, but conceptually, he's lost me a few times over the years, so I'm glad Nas was there to pick up the torch. Just one man's opinion. Back to '95, here's a dope blend using Kool G Rap & Nas' "Fast Life" lyrics over K-Def & Larry-O (aka Real Live)'s "Larry-O Meets Iceberg Slick." Props to Step One & DJ Filthy Rich! You can check out more blends on Audiomack, more mixes via Mixcloud, and DJ Step One's site that has been flourishing for years at Only Built For ZShare Links. Opinion: do you think Buckwild's original production on "Fast Life" was the best fit for the track? Or, the Salaam Remi remix? Or, the Vinyl Reanimators remix? Or... ?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Recommended Reading: "Go Ahead In The Rain"


This is the 3rd book by Hanif Abdurraqib. It is a love letter to a group, a sound, and an era. It is called "Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest." To be 100% honest, at the time of this post, I have not yet read this book. However, it is #1 on my Amazon shopping list & I've heard nothing short of amazing reviews by people I respect and thus, I absolutely consider this recommended reading. In Chapter 2, "Once Upon a Time In Queens," Abdurraqib says "...the first bits of hip-hop were born out of DJs breaking apart funk and disco beats and relegating every other sound to a graveyard until all that was left was the percussion, cut up into small, danceable portions for the people in the audience to sweat to." And so it goes... help me find my way. You can and should order the book HERE. If you've read it, drop a comment below with feedback.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Ghostface Killah "Supreme Clientele" Feb 8, 2000


Championing the cause of Wu dominance, Supreme Clientele exemplifies Ghost's lyrical dexterity. While his thunderous light-speed delivery hasn't changed much, his jagged wordplay is at its zenith. One minute, he breaks down street survival tactics on "We Made It" (I ain't tryin' to waste my career on y'all / Even scuffle with you, waste gear on y'all / But if I got to go out / You know I'ma show out), then he takes you on a rough ride down memory lane as he reminisces about adolescent crushes on "Child's Play" (Pretty little Sally sat up by the tree trunk / She had an ass like Deborah Cox / Face like Lauryn / Waist like a coke bottle scorin'). Then there are those Ghostface-isms we love. Like on the muddy treat "One," where he brags about his "rhymes made of garlic" ... So will the Ironman & his clan ever decline? Ghost says it best: "You think I fell off the ledge / The legendary Ghost Dhini might be dead / Never!" - Vibe (April, 2000). 19 years later, still a gem of an LP.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Jay-Z Decoded x Bing Marketing Campaign


When people ask what I'd do if a label ever "opened the budget" for marketing and promo, I kinda just laugh (as we should with purely hypothetical questions like that, lol) ... but in the back of my mind, I think about Jay-Z's "Decoded" marketing campaign, which also launched Bing. Do you remember it? I do and luckily YouTube never forgets neither, so here are some of the visuals and backstory of one of my favorite campaigns... ever. Bing allegedly received over 1.2 billion impressions within the time the advertisement went up. Hov's book stayed on the New York Times Best-Seller list for 19 weeks at #3 and grew his social media following by over 1 million. It's also rumored the budget was nearly 100M, but don't quote me on that. Really, watch below.

Friday, February 01, 2019

The Juggaknots: Mega-Mix by DJ Boo


When people ask me to give my 'Top 5', I let out a grunt ... why? ... because it's such a loaded question. It's usually asked by trolls or people that just wanna hear themselves rattle off a list of their own. I think it's one of the reasons so many people default to Nas, Rakim, Jay-Z, Biggie and 2Pac. Safe bets, right? Hard to argue with those LEGENDS. Well, how about a list that has Breeze Brewin, Pharaohe Monch & Black Thought in it too (to name a few)? Is that too "backpack" for you? Well, I stand by those MCs and I'm always excited to hear new - or throwback - music from them. Technically, I just find them to be superb lyricists and it'd be hard to find an artist that could disagree with me. I watched Breeze come up in the NYC underground scene, not to mention at Fat Beats, and in some of the hottest, dustiest venues we had. His vocal tones, flow, wordplay and message are all top tier. Sometimes it saddens me that we don't go more new music from Breeze, but then when we do, it does feel like a holiday; much the same as 3 stacks but on a niche level, lol. Whether it was "Dear Autumn," the "Control" verse, Pessimistic Personal Trainer or features with Marco and others; it comes in drips, but it's always high quality, non-disposable music. I could go on, but let's get into this Megamix from the Juggs, put together by my long-time homie and also Fat Beats alumni, DJ Boo! Big ups to Kev Fever and Queen Herawin as well; a family affair! #ILoveJuggs

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Take It Personal Radio "Episode 38 (2018 Year In Review)"


"Our Year In Review show features our favorites joints from 2018. It's our longest episode ever, so you might have to limit your consumption to an hour a day for the next week or so. We break down our favorite albums, we hand-out our MVP awards to the best rapper and producer of the year and play armchair A&R suggesting some of our dream collabos. We also have the man who absolutely bodied all his ’18 features and has created quite the buzz for himself lately, Pharoahe Monch. Pharoahe shares with us his favorite albums and collabos of ‘18 and what’s in store for 2019. And since we were in the super group mindset, Pharoahe tells us some funny stories about the short-lived Psychic Friends featuring himself, Black Thought, Common and Jeru The Damaja."