Monday, September 30, 2019

JuJu Rogers "40 Acres N Sum Mula" (Album Stream)

JuJu Rogers teams up with Jakarta Records once again for his highly anticipated 2nd LP, 40 Acres N Sum Mula. The Schweinfurt born and bi-lingual JuJu Rogers comes from an army family. His father, a GI who owns an extensive Soul and Jazz collection of records and a German mother with Austrian roots. The new album 40 Acres N Sum Mula unifies the mind state of an Afro-German with the power of observation with German political landscape of Berlin. Heavy sampled beats from his debut album are replaced by contemporary musical landscapes, productions by outstanding musicians and producers from all over the world. JuJu Rogers about his album, "Sound, lyrics and vibrations on this album represent a mixture of ancestral spirit and contemporary characteristics and lead you through the self-reflecting and rebellious thoughts of a black man born and raised in Germoney.”

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Black Star "Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are..." (9/29/98)

"The BDP-inspired chorus of "Definition" ("1-2-3 / Mos Def and Talib Kweli / We come to rock it on to the tip top / Best alliance in hip-hop / Why-oh...") sums up the nature of Black Star's entire debut. Documentarians (of hip-hop's roots) par excellence, Brooklyn's Mos Def and Talib Kweli come correct with old school-flavored verbal finesse. "Children's Story" is a sly update of Slick Rick's 1988 classic, and "Respiration" is a supreme, rugged rhyme schism featuring Common. Backed by a bevy of boombastic beats from Da Beatminerz, DJ Hi Tek, and Shawn J. Period, Black Star remind us that hip hop is about lyrical skills -- not solely commercial excess." - Vibe Magazine, November 1998. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is an album I revisit quite often, so it's no surprise that I remember it on its anniversary every year. While new material has been teased for several years - possibly with Madlib behind the boards - no release dates are pending. Hip-Hop would benefit greatly from their collective return, and Mos Def should sit atop many lists as one of the greatest lyricists ever! I'd also argue for the "Flying High" remix to "Respiration" as one of Pete Rock's greatest remixes; he really put his foot in the beat, and adding Black Thought made it an absolutely perfect song.

An original 2-page advertisement for the Black Star LP...

Friday, September 27, 2019

Jean Grae "The Evil Jeanius" (Album Stream, 2008)

"A FEELING THAT I NEVER, NEVER, NEVER..." First time vinyl pressing of one of the last decade's most curiously compelling hip-hop projects. A little backstory: Blue Sky Black Death are a production duo from the Bay Area, consisting of Ryan Maguire (aka Kingston) and Ian Taggart (aka Young God). They signed to Babygrande, releasing albums as collaborations with various Wu-Tang affiliates in addition to acclaimed instrumental projects. Jean Grae is an emcee, actress, comedian, and producer from Brooklyn, New York. Her career started in earnest around 1996 as a member of the hip hop group Natural Resource with James “Aggie” Barrett, releasing a string of well-received underground 12”s. By 2002, she too was signed to Babygrande, releasing her debut Attack of the Attacking Things, and later the acclaimed Jeanius LP, produced entirely by 9th Wonder. She worked on a number of mixtapes and experimental collaborative projects, including downtempo warrior The Herbaliser's Take London (2005), a spiritual predecessor to The Evil Jeanius. It’s not clear how exactly The Evil Jeanius came to be, but the combination of BSBD’s intuitive sampling, rugged scratching and brooding cadence matched with Grae’s razor-sharp rhymes make for some of the most potent heights reached by all parties involved. The record hits the ground running with "Shadows Forever," Grae’s fierce flow rushing over a sample of “Venus in Furs” by The Velvet Underground. “Strikes” is a harrowing tale of a murder in self-defense over glitchy muted snares. “It’s Still A Love Song” is a cheery, well, love song, backed with looped strings and pulsing organ samples. "Threats" is a distant cousin to Jigga's song of the same name, which finds Grae trading bars with Chen Lo over a gritty Etta James sample. The thing about gray area projects like this is they aren't really supposed to work, but this one does amazingly in spite of its cryptic origins, and we're thrilled to finally have it on wax. Turntable Lab exclusive variant on white vinyl." Listen below...

Back in 2008, Jean wrote a MySpace blog titled Jean Grae Is For Sale where she said "So, the economy sucks. I apparently have another unauthorized album for sale dropping Sept 30th and I figure, if everyones gonna make money offa me, why not make it directly and directly to the people who really love this shit anyway." She was speaking to the release of "The Evil Jeanius," and went on to publicly offer feature verses at $800/ea. My feelings now and at the time were that Babygrande misrepresented this album, and that tainted it for me... regardless of the fact that I really do enjoy it. These vocals could be from 2004 -- or perhaps even earlier -- we don't really know the full back story. In 2019, it's certainly not my intention (or my place) to dissuade you from supporting the vinyl, but just sharing memories I have from when it originally came out in 2008. However forced it may've been, the LP's marriage of Jean's vocals & BSBD beats is truly great!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Crimeapple "Langosta" (Prod. by MichaelAngelo)

Langosta is the latest track from Crimeapple, produced by Boston's MichaelAngelo. The 12" is more or less a maxi-single, featuring the LP track, instrumental, as well as a remix and the track "On The Menu" which has co-production from Buck Dudley. With the buzz the unsigned NJ lyricist has on the scene, I can see why the producer would opt to press vinyl of his joint with Crimeapple. Listen...

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Starvin B x Discourse "Forever Queens" (Album Stream)

From opposite sides of the world Starvin B and Discourse come together to create an album that’s both new and traditional. A beautifully constructed soundscape that pays homage to traditions of hip hop but also takes it to new places. Both coming from two cultural melting pots that are Queens, NY and Melbourne, Australia, the two created a musical chemistry that resulted in them working together on many projects. Forever Queens is the result of a journey that started on tour in Australia in 2016 and finished in Sunnyside, Queens in 2019. Not just a physical journey, but musical, cultural and nostalgic one too. A true collaboration. The two recruited a veteran lineup of New York MCs to join them on the album featuring AG and Milano Constantine of D.I.T.C., and long time collaborator Foul Monday. It also features the musical talents of Plutonic Lab, Zima Locke and Discourse’s brother George Johnson. The songs are progressive and moody, featuring rich instrumentation and arrangements. Dig into their collaborative effort Forever Queens below...

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Mister Cee "Hittin' Ya In Da Head" (Mixtape, 1996)

This is Mister Cee's Hittin' Ya In Da Head in 1996 on Tape Kingz. The mix tape kicks off with an exclusive freestyle from Common and continues with records featuring Lords of the Underground & Keith Murray, Mystidious Misfits, King Just, Raekwon, Heltah Skeltah, 8off, Mobb Deep, Miilkbone, Mad Skillz, Cella Dwellas, Masta Ace, Guru & Bahamadia, Kool G Rap & Nas, Sadat X, Smif-N-Wessun, Grand Puba, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Special Ed, GZA, Shabazz The Disciple, Onyx, Lost Boyz, Blackstract and more. I gave this tape a lot of run back in the 90s, tons of replay value. Props to DJ Step One.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Skyzoo & Pete Rock "Retropolitan" (Album Stream)

Retropolitan includes 12-tracks, all produced by Pete Rock, with features from Styles P, Benny The Butcher, Conway, Westside Gunn, Elzhi, and Raheem DeVaughn. It is more than an album of beats. & rhymes. It’s two generations of legendary native New Yorkers putting it down and pulling no punches. Skyzoo & Pete Rock use this album to create a love letter and a wakeup call to the city, as they have witnessed its culture stripped away layer-by-layer. - via Mello Music Group

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Carta' P x Parental "A Beautiful Mess" (Album Stream)

Carta’ P. aka “The Obvious Wonder” who hails from the talent-rich city of Mount Vernon, NY debuts with his full length solo album “A Beautiful Mess.” In collaboration with french producer Parental, the two combine to mix melodic samples, strong baselines and infectious drums in conjunction with stories about women, relationships, life as an adult, money, children and family. The combination of Parental and Carta’ P. help produce a sound very similar to the 90’s “Golden Era of Hip Hop”. The entire project was produced by Parental and written by Carta’ P. over the span of two years. The two have collaborated and recorded over twenty songs together. Throughout the project, you can hear the musical chemistry along with the development of the album. Carta’ P. is part of the hip hop underground group Adagio! from the mid to late 90’s. A lot of the same musical influences and lyrical creativity from Adagio! can be heard through this latest collaboration. Listen below...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Take It Personal Podcast "A Jazz Thing"

On Episode 51 of the Take It Personal Podcast, they pay homage to Jazz music. There is no Hip-Hop without this great artform. They've got joints from Digable Planets to De La Soul, as well as Freestyle Fellowship, Blackalicious, Madkap, Organized Konfusion, Sound Providers, Damu The Fudgemunk, the Artifacts, Buckshot LeFonque and Siah & Yeshua DapoED, just to name a few. Visit their website for the official track list for each episode and some brand new merch options. The homie Philaflava closes it out with a quote from the late great, Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal, "Jazz ain't the past, this music's gonna last. And as the facts unfold, remember who foretold!" 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Combined Operation "Sessions EP" (Reissue, 2019)

I was not expecting to see a re-issue of this underground Chicago gem: Combined Operation's "Sessions" EP from 1998. I'd written about this record - mostly for the cut "Basic Instincts" - back in '06 and got some great feedback on it, but, unfortunately, like so many other records from that era, I never had much information to share about the group. That is, until now: Combined Operation aka Co Op, consisted of 6 eMCees: Melo, Stimulis, Polaris, Skeyo, Majek, and Dash. The entire EP was produced by Drift, whose style set the tempo for the record with its gritty boombap soundscapes. The LP and CDs are now available in limited quantities, with full analog remastering. The artwork was hand-drawn by Andrey 'Bioniq' Glushchenko and commissioned by the good folks at Back 2 Da Source Records for this release. Props to them for giving the EP new life, along with some great people in the underground who continue to champion rare, independent hip-hop from the 90s. Special shout-out to UnikOne, who already had audio of my favorite track off it and was instrumental in tracking down much of the info included in the blurb for the EP. Visit his blog HERE.

Monday, September 16, 2019

DJ Alkemy x Shark "A Fish In A Bigger Pond" (Album Stream)

Sons Of Boombap founder, Shark (Canada), teams up with DJ Alkemy (United Kingdom) for a collaborative effort that combines DJ Alkemy's sample driven, yet organic sounding production alongside Shark's skilled writing ability that features storytelling tracks alongside some personal and honest insights. "A Fish In A Bigger Pond" features tracks with appearances from Ase Minor, D-Nick the Microphone Misfit, Adam Walsh, Ase Minor, Substance, Pun Ra and more. I've been enjoying this project and I know it's gonna get love on mix-shows, so get on it early and listen below...

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Cousin Feo "Choripan" (EP Stream)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Cousin Feo and Dre Mendoza are back again with their latest EP, Choripan. "Continuing the work done on "Provoleta", we stay true to the game in it's essence, as it's always a tale of two halves. We continue honoring Argentina's legendary footballers while inspiring the streets that both made and praise them." The 7-track EP features Che Uno, Ricky Mapes, 1800Call$ol, Mir Nicolas, Maverick Montana, Bub Rock, Fastlife and cuts by Julian Ramirez. Dig in...

Saturday, September 07, 2019

The 2000 MTV Video Music Awards (September 7, 2000)

The 2000 MTV Video Music Awards were held on Thursday, September 7, 2000. The awards were hosted by the Wayans Brothers (Shawn and Marlon) and it was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. For the second year in a row, DMX was a no-show for his scheduled performance, but Eminem held it down, as well as Nelly, Aaliyah and others. Speaking of Em and Aaliyah, they both had big nights collecting multiple wins. Some of the presenters included Dr. Dre, Method Man, Redman, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, D'Angelo, Lil' Kim, Wyclef Jean and more. For the sake of irony, it's also worth noting that the founder of Napster, Shawn Fanning, made an on-stage appearance sporting a Metallica t-shirt. For those who weren't outside at the time, Metallica v. Napster, Inc. was the first highly publicized instance of an artist suing a P2P software company, and it encouraged several other high-profile artists to sue Napster too. The outcome of that lawsuit was that Napster was forced to search its system and remove all copyrighted songs by Metallica. That was also the final VMAs appearance for Aaliyah; she was killed in a plane crash the following August. R.I.P. Y'all might remember Em's performance that started outside of Radio Music Hall as Em was followed inside by a pack of Em-lookalikes; he performed "The Real Slim Shady" and "The Way I Am." Watch below...

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Doo Wop "The New Testament" (Mixtape, 1996)

Another dope Tape Kingz release from Doo Wop in 1996, The New Testament. The mix tape features tracks from M.O.P., Ghostface Killah, Big L, Camp Lo, Method Man, Keith Murray, O.G.C., Puff Daddy & The LOX, Hurricane G, Shaq, Rampage, Tragedy Khadafi & Capone-N-Noreaga, Royal Flush, Smoothe Da Hustler, Redman, Lord Tariq, Raekwon, Busta Rhymes, Trigger The Gambler, and more. You know what to expect here, a quality 90s mix of tracks from Doo Wop. Listen to it below...

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Joel Ortiz "Monday" (Album Stream)

"Working people normally dread Mondays. Not me though. I embrace them! Feels like another opportunity. Another chance. The beginning of what’s ahead. On “Monday” I talk about life. Old me, new me, and the guy that next Monday may introduce to you all," says Joell Ortiz. Monday is an album about keeping your head down and getting back to work; there’s nothing to do other than to persevere. With his new record, Ortiz pays tribute to the qualities that have allowed him to not only survive, but thrive in an unforgiving industry and era. It’s rooted in the present but still able to conjure the sounds and smells of an era that’s long gone – the kind of sharp perspective that can only be honed by years of dedicated work at the craft. Monday is a testament to sharpening one’s skills and approach in the face of immeasurable odds. There's great production on the album from Heatmakerz, Apollo Brown, Nottz, Big K.R.I.T., Justice League and more. Listen to Monday below.