October 29, 2020

Lyric Jones "Closer Than They Appear" (EP Stream)

The title Closer Than They Appear serves as a motif inspired by half the fine print warning on the side view mirrors of vehicles: “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. The symbolism of the phrase weaves a web connecting many things in my life, especially my music career. The title sort of speaks to the questions I’ve feared asking myself as I’ve grown older: Is a viable music career still attainable for me? Did I say all I have to say? Did I do all I was supposed to do? We use those side view mirrors to guide us while driving. They’re vital and important tools, directly in front of us. I see myself as an object in the mirror that may be closer to my career breakthrough and self-actualization than I think... It’s almost as if I’m telling myself to keep going in the album title." - Lyric Jones. Making this album, Phonte served as executive producer and helped Lyric break free from the “female rapper” box she'd been trying to break out of for years. She adds, "My goal was to steer clear of such titles by flexing my range as a songwriter, rapper, vocalist, conceptualist, and diving into genres outside of Hip-Hop.” Definitely show Lyric Jones' new EP some love below...

October 24, 2020

Stretch & Bobbito + The M19s Band "Freestyle EP" (EP Stream)

In FREESTYLE EP 1, Stretch and Bobbito pay homage to their past while simultaneously transcending to the present. Using cutting edge technology to create a cappella versions of iconic live performances from their legendary 1990s radio show, the duo has digitally remastered, as well as enhanced, the original recordings of freestyles by Biggie, Big L + Jay-Z, and Method Man + Ghostface Killah. Additionally, they took these isolated vocals and created remix versions by layering in new background instrumentals featuring original music played by their band the M19s Band, which Stretch then sampled and looped. Ultimately, both the original ‘90s versions as well as the remix versions reach unprecedented new ground in the merging of beats, rhymes, life and technology!

Much respect and thanks to Stretch & Bobbito. Photo by Janette Beckman...

October 23, 2020

Dilated Peoples "Expansion Team" (October 23, 2001)

Rappers Rakaa (Iriscience) and Evidence and turntablist Babu promote positivity and endorse old-school production values. They rap about freedom of speech instead of big-bootied women on "Proper Propaganda," and employ the unruly but addictive Liks on "Heavy Rotation," instead of the platinum-clinching Timbaland. Even if Dilated Peoples proves less musically adventurous than Left Coast comrades like Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious, the trio's second album, Expansion Team, offers plenty to entice: raw, battle-ready flows, DJ Babu's steady rhythms, and a complete disregard for fashion. The back-to-basics formula is unlikely to make reigning heavyweights like Jay-Z sweat, but tracks such as "Trade Money" and "War" restore hip-hop's flagging integrity, while guest collaborators like DJ Premier and ?uestlove give the proceedings a distinct aid of honor. - Vibe Magazine (December, 2001). I think earlier parts of the review were a little shortsighted but well-intentioned... and I get it. Certainly Dilated Peoples have had an amazing career as a group and as solo artists, and I'd like to think they've since upgraded their "1982 Datsuns" - maybe opting for something other than Hummers though. Plus, "Worst Comes to Worst" was the clear winner from this project, even its simplicity. Alchemist's production and Babu's cuts are dope! Of course, R.I.P., Guru + all those we lost in the Towers, which were featured in the video and was recorded just days before 9/11. For more back story on that, click HERE and listen to Expansion Team below...

Below is a promo sticker & patch for the LP + the full Vibe review...

October 22, 2020

Mood "Built To Last" (Mix)

Here's the latest tribute mix from Built To Last, showing love to the Mood crew out of Cincinnati, OH. The group includes rappers Main Flow, Donte, and producer Jahson. They were originally formed as Three Below Zero, but changed their name to Mood in 1994. With production from Hi-Tek (and Jahson), the group gained underground acclaim with tracks like Karma, Hustle On The Side, Secrets of the Sand; remixes with J Dilla and introducing the Brooklyn MC, Talib Kweli. Their album "Doom" was released in 1997 and if you aren't up on it still, you've been missing out. They also had a compilation LP in 2000 called Mission Control Presents and went on to release multiple solo projects and a few projects as a group in recent years. Some of the highlights from their group catalog are in the mix below, check it out and hit the tags for other Built To Last mixes.

October 21, 2020

The Firm "The Firm Album" (Cassette Sampler, 1997)

"The Firm was like this hip-hop supergroup. All three of them - Nas, AZ, and Foxy Brown - had reached a level of success by this time, so getting the three of them together was a real challenge. AZ was an hour late, Nas was an hour late, and Foxy was even later, like hours and hours, so I decided to work with AZ and Nas first and got some individual shots. I remember Nas was wearing this big "QB" (Queensbridge) medallion. I shot this at Sony Studios soundstage. I was always really inspired by the Blue Note albums, so I used filters for the lights and also added a filter on the lens, and that gives it the red tone. When you apply red filters to black-and-white photos in particular, it does something really magical to skin tones." - Jamil GS (Contact High). Just about anything that could be said of The Firm's 1997 group album has already been said, surely, but just wanted to revisit the album on its anniversary and aside from the photoshoot above, also share the original album sampler (via cassette) that was hosted by DJ Clue and released to promote the LP. It's dope that Cormega is back in the fold of things and is featured on the King's Disease LP. Of course, respect to Nature, who had one of the best mix tape runs at that time. He bodied everything he touched on those early Clue mix tapes. Anyhow, released on 10/21/97.... listen to the sampler below.

Firm Biz ad from The Source's cover issue with Nas, Foxy & AZ...

October 20, 2020

Black Thought "Streams of Thought, Vol.3" (Album Stream)

Black Thought offers his creative critique of America with his latest album, Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel. Streams of Thought Vol. 3: Cane & Abel attacks subject matter that led him to co-create The Roots nearly 30 years ago and is still relevant today. Black Thought uses his lyrics to cleverly address the plight Black Americans are facing while still being direct so that his message isn't lost in translation. Although the work is indicative of the moment, Black Thought explains to Variety that the current Black Lives Matter movement didn't inspire the tracks. "This collection is on par with previous volumes and later volumes of 'Streams of Thought' as to what I talk about, what I speak to… I cover a broad range of subject matter, but it’s always coming from the same place. It’s reflective of the moment, but not solely in the moment," Black Thought said before stating that the goal is to make music that isn't impacted by time. "It might sound ambitious to want to create a timeless classic, but that is always in my muscle memory, a challenge I rise to with different producers every time out," he continued. "Some of this stuff was recorded before March and since that time become more timely." - Complex. Black Thought is #T5DOA, hear why below...

October 19, 2020

Pharoahe Monch "Internal Affairs" (Album Sampler, 1999)

"As one half of Organized Konfusion (OK), the 27-year-old Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., native co-sired some of hip-hop's most innovative but commercially ignored creations during his eight years of paying dues. Three albums later, and with OK on indefinite hiatus, Monch, born Troy Jamerson, sees his Rawkus Records solo debut, Internal Affairs (which features guest spots from fellow wonder mike masters Busta Rhymes, Canibus, and Common), as an opportunity to purge volatile emotions and refine his ever-evolving performance persona. "Moving into this LP," Monch says, "my goal is to develop an audience that [sees me], "He's kinda deep in the shit that he thinks about. At the same time, he likes porn, [sex], and the same shit I like.'" "Simon Says," Internal Affairs' commanding lead single, is the hottest song both on Big Apple radio and in clubland. Built off a doomsday horn riff, a freestyled do-as-Pharoahe-does chorus, and periodic exhortations to "get the fuck up!" it's that unique song that both underground-worshipping hip hop academicians and Hennessey-sipping thugs can enjoy. So how's this longtime underdog adjusting to such stratospheric recognition? "[People] haven't put the face together with the song," Monch concedes in a typically low-key manner. "I was on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, 'Simon Says' came on the radio, and, like, eight squeegle guys were all dancing around the car. I pulled up to the light and was like 'Yo, good lookin'.' And they're like, 'What the fuck are you lookin' at?'" But Monch is unfazed. He knows that with a Busta Rhymes-directed video for "Simon Says" on the way, nobody will have problems matching tune and performer." - Vibe, 12/99. Internal Affairs is still a classic album that I keep in constant rotation, so I thought I'd share the original cassette album sampler with you on its anniversary (10/19/99) today. The flip side of the cassette was Mos Def's Black On Both Sides, which maybe I'll share separately in another post.

The flyer for the album release party and more below...

October 18, 2020

Benny The Butcher "Burden of Proof" (Album Stream)

Benny The Butcher's latest solo project is entitled Burden of Proof. The Buffalo-bred MC has put together another solid release with his follow-up to last year's The Plugs I Met EP. The new LP features Rick Ross, Freddie Gibbs, Lil Wayne, Big Sean, Dom Kennedy, Westside Gunn, Conway and more! The entire LP is produced by Hit-Boy, who also produced recent albums for Nas and Big Sean. Griselda Records is having one of the best runs we've ever seen, and this is another great project in their collective's catalog. Lots more to come, no question - dig into it below, and stay tuned...

October 17, 2020

Mic Geronimo "The Natural" (Elements Magazine, 1996)

Let's take it back to about 25 years ago... the place is Flushing, Queens; the man, an aspiring 19 year old MC named Mic Geronimo. "I used to rock at talent shows and shit, and then y'know, my man Irv had seen me one night and he said he had some studio time and did I wanna do a lil' demo." That was just the beginning for the now 22 47 year old MC also known as the Masta I.C. Geronimo got his name from one of his songs back in the day called "Microphone Geronimo" and the shit stuck. Signed to the young indie label Blunt Recordings, Mic released his debut album entitled "The Natural". Ironically, when he first shopped his demo record companies weren't interested so, like other hungry artists before him, he pressed up his own 12 inch. The idea was to create a buzz in the industry so record labels would take notice and the plan evidently worked. "Shit's Real" set it off for Geronimo. Not only did the single hook him up with a deal but it also became an underground classic. When asked where the funding came from for that first record all Mic had to say was "We just came up with the loot." Payin' dues... word up. - via Elements Magazine (March, 1996). As it's the 25th anniversary of the release of The Natural and Mic just did an interview with NORE and DJ EFN on Drink Champs (I'll update this when that video is live), it felt right to revisit this classic LP from Mic Geronimo. Don't sleep on Kutmasta Kurt's Computamix to "Shit's Real", too. Look forward to hearing more about how Mic Geronimo's relationship with Irv Gotti went sour, life outside of music, as well as the new projects he's been working on. Meanwhile, revisit The Natural album below...

Mic Geronimo's Interview in Elements Magazine, March 1996.

October 16, 2020

Homeboy Sandman "Don't Feed The Monster" (Album Stream)

Homeboy Sandman’s new album Don’t Feed The Monster, is a collaboration with producer/MC Quelle Chris. It’s also his most vulnerable & poignant work to date. Having grown up in Queens, New York, hip-hop was part of everything in life. This deep-rooted connection to the culture is evident when listening to his style of rhyming- bold, classic & deeply respectful. On Don’t Feed The Monster, he pulls back any pretense to show his most honest truth - a process that he needed both artistically and spiritually. “I was having a hard time and this record saved me thank Quelle and thank God and shout to Gabor Maté,” he said about the new album. Quelle Chris has been one of the most talked about and celebrated hip-hop artists these last few years. “There's a certain mystic/magical power in words, sounds, rhythms, etc. It's rare to come across a brother/artist like Sandman,” he says when asked about his new album with Homeboy Sandman. The new album Don’t Feed The Monster is a marvel of how an artist can dig deeper still, even years into his craft. The chemistry between the producer & MC has unlocked something within Sandman, surfacing memories, textures & details in a more vivid way than ever before. - via MMG. Props to my brother Boy Sand. Listen to it below...

October 10, 2020

Real Bad Man "On High Alert, Vol.3" (EP Stream)

Los Angeles clothing imprint Real Bad Man has been steadily releasing their On High Alert EP series throughout the year, tapping some of the most revered hip-hop veterans of recent memory and pairing them with rising rappers for truly unique and cohesive offerings. After dropping On High Alert, Volume 1 back in February and On High Alert, Volume 2 back in May, the third installment is finally available to stream today. On High Alert, Volume 3 spans six songs and just under 20 minutes, enlisting past collaborators like Boldy James and Pink Siifu, as well as Meyhem Lauren, Kool Kieth, Kool G Rap and Flee Lord. The project is short but undeniably sweet with instrumentals that flawlessly meld old school boom-bap sensibilities with hypnotic and semi-psychedelic touches. When paired with the other two installments, Real Bad Man creates an insular sonic world that taps into hip-hop history and experimentation. All are well worth your listening time. - via HypeBeast. Dig in...

October 06, 2020

A Doctor, A Painter & An Alchemist Walk Into A Bar

A Doctor, A Painter And An Alchemist Walk Into A Bar is the 10-track collaborative project from The Alchemist, DrX Romanelli and Spencer Lewis featuring a guest appearance from Griselda's Westside Gunn. The following message was posted to OTI Official's IG page, "The culmination of one year of collaboration between the three creatives, the album installation at OTI LA will showcase new works by Spencer Lewis alongside the release of the new album by Alchemist and clothing collection by DRx Romanelli. The album, book, and clothing are available for sale at ALC's shop."

October 05, 2020

Sa-Roc "The Sharecropper's Daughter" (Album Stream)

Since signing with Rhymesayers in 2015, Sa-Roc has continued to both invigorate and grow her fanbase with a string of singles, accompanied with powerful and visually enthralling music videos. In that time, she has continued to cultivate and sharpen her skill sets, and has now released her first album for the label. Speaking on the meaning of the album’s title and inspiration, Sa-Roc shares, "The Sharecropper’s Daughter speaks to my father’s actual beginnings on a Virginia tobacco farm where his family sharecropped. The title is meant to signify that both my father’s and my upbringing, though so different, are linked by a shared history that informs the way I move through the world. Although his formative years were spent in the Jim Crow era of the south, where he suffered through poverty and racial oppression, and mine were shaped in the heart of DC, amidst the war on drugs and the effects of its fallout, the album finds points of connection in two very different yet tragically familiar stories of Blackness in America. It’s a sonic reflection of the things we inherit. About the emotional weight that we unknowingly bestow upon the next generation; the genetic transfer of both trauma and triumph that we, both donors and beneficiaries, are tasked with reshaping into a future of our own." The Sharecropper’s Daughter album is entirely produced by Sol Messiah, with the exception of "Deliverance" produced by Evidence and co-produced by Al B Smoov. And, while Sa-Roc’s crafty wordplay, razor-sharp delivery and exceptional writing are the prominent highlight, this undeniable quality is only further enhanced by stellar guest performances from Saul Williams, Styles P, Ledisi, Chronixx, and Black Thought. Great project! Please dig in below...

October 02, 2020

Westside Gunn "Who Made The Sunshine" (Album Stream)

Who Made The Sunshine is Westside Gunn’s long-awaited major label debut via Shady Records, as well as his third project of 2020 after the studio album Pray for Paris and the mixtape FLYGOD is an Awesome God 2. Originally the release was to come in August, but Gunn delayed it out of respect for DJ Shay, a close collaborator of Griselda Records that passed away in August 2020. The LP includes collaborations from the full Griselda roster — Conway The Machine, Benny The Butcher, Armani Caesar and Boldy James — as well as Slick Rick, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Smoke DZA, A.A Rashid, Stove God Cooks, Flee Lord, Estee Nack, and Griselda associates ElCamino and Keisha Plum. Production is primarily handled by Griselda in-house producer Daringer and frequent collaborator Beat Butcha. Props to Genius for the album info, dig into it below...

October 01, 2020

Nick Bondz "Classic Cuts [Reggae] Pt.II" (Mixtape, 199x)

I'm not sure of the exact year of its release, but this is another fine dancehall/reggae mix from Nick Bondz via Tape Kingz. The mix features blends and original tracks from artists like General Levy, Mad Lion, Cutty Ranks, Chaka Demus, Shabby Ranks, Jamalski, Snow, Jipsy King, Tony Curtis, Ricky General, Tony Rebel, Buju Baton, Terror Fabulous, Donovan Steele, and lots more. Nick Bondz always released quality, original mixes for the dancehall heads in the mid-to-late 90s, listen with confidence this is another fine mix tape. Check out Classic Cuts [Reggae] Pt. II from Nick Bondz below...

September 30, 2020

Elzhi "Seven Times Down Eight Times Up" (Album Stream)

Here's the press release for the new LP from Elzhi: "Elzhi, the “Syllable Sensei,” is back again with a highly anticipated release titled “Seven Times Down Eight Times Up,” This 12-track LP is a collage of memories and metaphors layered atop beats crafted by up-and-coming producer JR Swiftz. With collabs from Detroit artists, Monica Blaire and Fes Rock on two of the albums stand-out tracks, Elzhi’s new masterpiece showcases his ability to create meaningful concepts while Detroit’s own comedian and “Real Hip Hop Advocate” Foolish provides commentary throughout the album. As one of Elzhi’s most cohesive releases to date, his wordsmithing abilities paint images of royalty, excellence, and zombies wearing Gucci, all with an underlying message of resilience. “Seven times Down Eight Times Up” is the mantra for a year that has seen lots of “downs,” and reminds us that no matter what we're faced with, we will remain undefeated, and get back up after being knocked down by this machete-wielding maniac we call “life.” Elzhi is one of my favorite lyricists and Seven Times Down Eight Times Up is a solid project - sans some sequencing mistakes. Dig into it below...

September 29, 2020

Wojavelli "98 Live" (Mixtape)

Wojavelli hits us with another exclusive mix, this time around it's 98 Live - a continuous mix of the hottest hip-hop from the '98 era! In his own words, "from jiggy to the streets to the underground, featuring hits, classics, rarities and blends! Some selections from this mix includes tracks by Noreaga, Eminem, Sauce Money, RZA, Gennessee, Jay-Z, M.O.P., Mobb Deep, Big Pun, Black Rob, Jadakiss, DMX, Big L, Kool G Rap, The Firm, Mos Def, Tragedy Khadafi, and a lot more! Dig in below...

September 28, 2020

Kool G Rap "4, 5, 6" (25th Ann. Mix by DJ Filthy Rich)

Here's another classic anniversary mix from the homie, DJ Filthy Rich, who shares the following message along with his new mix: "This album is so underrated. Kool G Rap's earlier work with DJ Polo is without a doubt the cornerstone of his catalog, but this album is right up there with them. He switched things up by working with a team of producers, and Kool G Rap admits this is the first time he felt like a true artist. Not one skippable track, and crazy production from Buckwild, T-Ray, Dr. Butcher & Naughty Shorts. CLASSIC. If you think differently, listen to the mix and tell me I'm wrong." Dig into the mix of album cuts, samples and blends below. Props to Filthy Rich and G Rap.

September 25, 2020

Ill Conscious "The Epic of Gilgamesh" (EP Stream)

The Epic of Gilgamesh is the new 7-track collaborative EP from Baltimore's Ill Conscious and West Coast producer Aloeight. The EP features Estee Nack, DJ Grazzhoppa, Planet Asia, Omnia Azar, King Los, Eligh and Myea. I know Ill Conscious was working on a new LP, but read on his social media that he had lost his rhyme book, which is a damn tragedy. At the same time, I appreciate MCs who write their lyrics down on paper, giving it that tangible feel and it's clear from his rhyme style that he has golden era sensibilities. Ill can rhyme, man. This is another solid project in a ever-growing catalog, dig into it below and when this pandemic is over, make sure you catch one of his live shows...

September 19, 2020

GQ & 9th Wonder "A Midsummer's Nightmare" (EP Stream)

JAMLA's GQ drops off his latest EP, A Midsummer's Nightmare, produced entirely by 9th Wonder. The Oakland rapper is also known for winning a national championship with UNC Tar Heels in 2005 (according to Shake). I did know that! To elaborate more on the EP, GQ shares, "A Midsummer’s Nightmare, ironically symbolizes the time we’re in as a country and world. But also defines the thoughts and moments of myself at this moment in my life. Almost like living a world within a world. Beyond being inspired by the music itself, the inspiration came from life itself and just my current mental space. It’s always fun and an honor to work with 9th. So to do an EP with him was special.” 

September 18, 2020

Wojavelli "The Best Of Alchemist" (Mixtape)

The Best of Alchemist mixtape features roughly two and a half hours of the best of Alc's first 10 years of hits, deep cuts and original blends by Wojavelli out in Philly. The Alchemist's extensive catalog is represented with cuts featuring Mobb Deep, Cormega, Nas, Capone-N-Noreaga, Jadakiss, Kool G Rap, Ghostface Killah, and lots more. Need I say more? Dig into Wojavelli's ALC mix below...

September 17, 2020

2Pac "Dead, But Still a Force" (9/17/06)

"I want to be in the future known as somebody," Shakur once said. "I want people to be talking about me, like, 'Remember when he was real bad?'" They're still talking. Unlike so many other rap stars, Shakur represented an actual character, instead of a caricature. "His messages were really strong and heartfelt, and he was a real person. He could go from saying 'Keep your head up' to using the word b--- in the next song," said Kanye West. "There was no box that he was put in, and he lived and died by what he said." Although just 25 when as assailant sprayed his car with bullets as he rode shotgun down a Las Vegas street, Shakur has been the subject of numerous books; film and stage productions have explored his colorful life; and college courses have dissected his songs, ranging from the player anthem "I Get Around" to the prophetic "How Long With They Mourn Me?" But why? Although some have anointed Shakur as the greatest rapper ever, largely due to his passion that could stir even casual listeners, the assessment is hardly universal. Others would give that title to The Notorious B.I.G., Shakur's foil who was killed months after Shakur. Others say Jay-z reigns supreme.... While other dead celebrities are celebrated as nostalgia acts for what they once represented, Shakur remains a vital presence in today's rap world. - 9/17/06 ... Continue reading below, and consider who is the G.O.A.T.... to YOU? Rest In Peace, Tupac Shakur. Hit the tags for more.

September 16, 2020

Joe Budden "All Of Me" (Blend, 2010)

One of the greats at unconventional song structure and transparency on record, Joe Budden delivered "All Of Me" on his Mood Muzik 3 mixtape project in 2007. Fans recognize Joe's Mood Muzik series has some of the best content in his entire catalog and certainly put him on a short list of artists who really pushed the artist-mixtape culture forward. In 2010, Aerichk uploaded a project to DatPiff blending the vocals of Joe Budden's Mood Muzik 3 with some of his favorite beats from Kno of CunninLynguists. The idea for the project was well-intentioned, but some of the tracks worked better than others. One, in particular, is "All Of Me," which you can hear below. This is vintage Joe in his wordplay, storytelling and vulnerability on the record. The eery production of Kno works flawlessly, even with the song clocking in at around 7 minutes. "I think my life's bad, picking up the pieces / Some folk already got they appointment to see Jesus / In this world full of diseases I've learned not to bite my tongue or have seizures / Depression tells me I suck / So I reply, I ain't here 'cause I fell down, I'm here 'cause I got up...." If you wanna hear more, download "Death Muzik."

September 15, 2020

DJ Shok Presents "Hi-Tech's Golden Era Singles" (EP Stream)

Here's the first ever anthology release of Yonkers MC Hi-Tech's golden era 12" joints. The release includes 8 tracks, along with the instrumental versions. The production is handled by DJ Shok and Jay Biz and will be available on 2LP vinyl, CD, cassette and digital. If you've been following the blogs over the years going back to my very first site, I've been pushing Hi-Tech's music and DJ Shok's classic production for years. "4 Degrees For The Streets" is still one of the best B-side tracks to come from the underground, independent scene in the 90s, but you'll also recognize "24/7," "Book of Life," "All Time Einstein" and more as well. Big ups to DJ Shok, who has a dope catalog you should already be familiar with. Pick up a copy of this limited release and check Tech's technique below...

September 14, 2020

DJ Evil Dee "Last Day Of School, First Day Of Life!!!" (Mixtape, 1995)

Another throwback mix tape from DJ Evil Dee... this is 1995's Last Day Of School, First Day Of Life!!!, via Tape Kingz. The mix tape features tracks from Rakim, Special Ed, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Pudgee The Phat Bastard, Heather B., Organized Konfusion, PHD, Naught By Nature, Lin Que, Lost Boyz, Redman, Masta Ace, Erick Sermon, Mad Skillz, Mad Lion, Das EFX, Big Kap, Finsta Bundy, Craig Mack, Lady Apache, and more. DJ Evil Dee adds, "This tape was done in one take. DJs should keep it real." Enjoy...

September 13, 2020

The Notorious B.I.G. "Ready To Die" (9/13/94)

"...Though many rappers exaggerate about the lives they led before becoming performers, some are actually former drug dealers. Few have ever been as open in detailing their criminal past as Biggie Smalls, and none have ever been as clear about the pain they felt at the time. "He doesn't want anyone to see that he's not as tough as he thinks he is," said Ms. Wallace, the rapper's mother. "He cries inside. He bleeds inside. But he doesn't want anyone to see the vulnerable side of him." "Ready to Die" is, indeed, marked by pathos unusual not only in hip-hop but in pop music. "In street life you're not allowed to show if you care about something," said Mr. Combs, of Bad Boy Entertainment. "You've got to keep that straight face. The flip side of that is his album. He's giving up all his vulnerability. He's letting you know how he has felt about his mother. He's letting you know how he cried. How he has thought about killing himself." Though drug dealing carries tremendous heroic value with some young urban dwellers, he sacrifices the figure's romantic potential. His raps acknowledge both the excitement of drug dealing and the stress caused by the threat from other dealers, robbers, the police and parents, sometimes one's own. In presenting the downside of that life, "Ready to Die" offers perhaps the most balanced and honest portrait of the dealer's life of any in hip-hop. "He's trying to enlighten people to the way your mind thinks when you're broke, when you're young growing up and not feeling like nobody cares about you," Mr. Combs said. Cont'd below...

On "Everyday Struggle," for example, Biggie Smalls rhymes: "I know how it feel to wake up . . . / Pocket broke as hell/ Another rock to sell/ People look at you like you's the user/ Selling drugs to all the losers/ Mad Buddah abuser/ But they don't know about your stress-filled day/ Baby on the way/ Mad bills to pay/ That's why you drink Tanqueray/ So you can reminisce/ And wish/ You wasn't living so devilish." By expressing the self-loathing and self-doubt he felt while dealing, he hopes that his experiences may resonate with other living that life. "I want them stressed-out n!@@ers to be, like, 'Yo, this n!@@er be hitting it right on the nose, man,' "he said. "That's what I'm trying to do." And he added, venting those feelings was also therapeutic. "I got a lot off my chest with that album." And he has put a lot in his pocket. Next month he will move his mother from the apartment in which she has lived for 25 years and into a house in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But despite new-found economic independence and the fear he feels while sitting in his own home, he is reluctant to move. "I could never see myself moving in the suburbs," he said. "It ain't going to be right, and the lyrics are going to be soundin' nasty. I know it. There won't be nothing to rap about except the birds." - NY Times (12/18/94). Full story can be read HERE.

September 12, 2020

Reks "T.H.I.N.G.S." (Album Stream)

On his twelfth studio LP in nearly 20 years, Reks sounds just as hungry and passionate on T.H.I.N.G.S. (The Hunger Inside Never Gets Satisfied) as he did when Along Came The Chosen dropped back in 2001. Perhaps even more so. There seems to be a fire that gets lit under the Lawrence, MA native whenever he begins crafting a new LP. “While my conceptualizing process has grown over the years, the actual approach to getting started has remained consistent,” Reks says. “There’s a youthful eagerness that comes over me every time I’m about to start a new record.” That feeling is palpable throughout T.H.I.N.G.S., an album bursting with everything you’d want from a Reks record, but also so much more. There are certainly instances of his trademark wordplay mixed with bravado on here, like the Apollo Brown-produced track “King of the Town.” But the real core of this record is Reks’ reckoning with bigger societal issues that have simply run rampant for far too long. And given his talents with the pen, he’s able to blend strong songwriting with deep, conceptual lyrics. Just listen to how he tackles white privilege on the otherwise catchy “Rachel Green” or the way he chronicles being Black in America on “White House.” That’s not even mentioning “The Complex,” a lyrically gripping look at PTSD and Big Pharma featuring Pharoahe Monch, and his personal favorite track, “Nana & Grampy’s Song,” a heartfelt dedication to Black love. For Reks, it’s all about delivering the best possible music to his fans while staying true to himself. And he does exactly that not just through his own gifts, but also through collaborations with Pharoahe, Lil Fame, Nottz, Apollo Brown, Statik Selektah, Evidence, Marco Polo, and more.

September 11, 2020

Jay-Z "The Blueprint" (September 11, 2001)

Jay-Z is arguably on top of the rap game. With his past five albums all achieving platinum-plus status, the Brooklyn, N.U., native looks to quiet anyone who dare challenge his reign with his latest set, The Blueprint. Such tracks as "The Ruler's Back" and "Takeover" are testament to this; both showcase a fearless Jay-Z, who, despite his crossover success, is still a highly credible MC. The Kanye West-produced "Takeover," which craftily employs a sample of The Doors' "Five to One," is perhaps Jay's best work to date. The Blueprint does have its requisite party tracks. Lead single "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," which references the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," is already making serious noise at both urban and top 40 formats. Throughout The Blueprint (which features guest appearances from Q-Tip, Biz Markie, and Slick Rick, among others), Jay-Z deftly proves that while his celebrity status continues to rise, he remains firmly grounded to the street." - Billboard (9/22/01). Next to Reasonable Doubt, this is widely considered one of his best LPs, revisit it below and let me know if you agree? The production from Kanye West, Bink!, Eminem and (especially) Just Blaze is incredible.

The article in Billboard and a pic from my IG are below...

September 10, 2020

DJ Boogie Boy "World Premier" (Mixtape, 1995)

Here's another dope mid-90s mix tape from DJ Boogie Boy! This one is entitled "World Premiere" and features lots of gems from Craig Mack, The Beatnuts, Artifacts, The Nonce, Black Moon, The Notorious B.I.G., Smif-n-Wessun, Black Sheep, Cella Dwellas, Mobb Deep, Common, Masta Ace, Big L, Nas, Gang Starr, Jeru The Damaja, O.C., Pete Rock & CL Smooth, King Just, Keith Murray, Redman, Nine, Showbiz & AG, Channel Live, and lots more. Props to DJ E-Freezy on the upload once again. 

September 06, 2020

OC From NC & D.R.U.G.S. Beats "Crown Royal" (Album Stream)

Crown Royal is the extremely soulful new collaborative project between OC From NC and D.R.U.G.S. Beats. This 12-track album just feels good! It features Maestra, Seb Zillner, Illp, Precyce, Politix, Jarren Benton, Prophecy, Lacy Haith, S.P.A.D.E., J Gunn, Jozeemo and Vanessa Ferguson. This is one of those projects you may arrive late to hear and ask your friends why nobody knew enough to put you on! Say less, this is your sign to stop and pay attention. Hit the tags for more from D.R.U.G.S...

September 05, 2020

Craig G "Fragile Ego" (EP Stream)

The Juice Crew MC drops off his brand new EP, Fragile Ego. With sharp cuts, solid production and introspective lyrics, Craig G releases probably the best project of his career, which is saying a lot as he came up back in the mid-80s. You can't count out a legend! Masta Ace is the only feature on the EP but he delivers on the title track. I hope that the media covers this release and celebrates a very fine offering from Craig G. "Do yourself a favor: stay away from the fake shit." Listen below...

September 04, 2020

Jazz Spastiks "Fly Fishing, Vol.6" (Mixtape)

Volume 6 in the Fly Fishing mix tape series from Chopped Herring Records. This mix was done by Jazz Spastiks and features tracks from 3rd I, Ill Bill, Big Sha, Arsonists, Kwest Tha Madd Ladd, A-Plus, Pos-Neg, TDK, Born God, Recognize Ali, Sick Lyrical Damager, Smoked Out Productions, L The Head Toucha, Hardcore Reps, KGB, Napoleon Da Legend, Custodian of Records, Yaggfu Front, Tuff Crew and more! Also available on limited edition cassettes, 150 copies only! Big up to Bill Lipitch.

September 03, 2020

Capone-N-Noreaga "Blood Money" (VHS, 2000)

Blood Money is a promotional VHS tape released by Capone-N-Noreaga in 2000 ahead of their sophomore release, The Reunion, on Tommy Boy. The 30-minute street reel features music videos for "Blood Money Part 3," "T.O.N.Y.," "L.A. L.A.," and "Closer," as well as behind the scenes interviews with Capone in jail, on video sets, MTV, and more. 20 years later, it's now more of a companion piece to their classic debut album, The War Report, from 1997. Dig into the tags/archives below for other promo materials, album samplers, reviews and more from the legendary Queens crew, Capone-N-Noreaga. Props, ReelBlack, for the video - watch it below. Respect to Capone, Nore, and DJ EFN.

August 31, 2020

J.PERIOD "The Live Mixtape: Shaolin Edition" (1 & 2)

J.PERIOD Presents The Live Mixtape: Shaolin Edition. His Tribute to Wu-Tang Clan, Part 1, was recorded LIVE on August 3, 2020. The 90-minute tribute to Shaolin's finest features Wu exclusives, new J.PERIOD remixes, rare freestyles, demos tracks and lots more! Keeping up with his prolific pace of releases, J.PERIOD released a Part 2 a week later, and included additional remixes, featured tracks and more. These Live recorded mixes have added a new texture to mixtapes and certainly change the way we experience them. There are a few other DJs that have brought us similar experiences, such as Statik Selektah, DJ Evil Dee, MICK Boogie, DJ Mighty Mi and so on. All very dope! Click through to read the track lists for both mixes, or just listen to them streaming below...

August 30, 2020

The LOX "Living Off Xperience" (Album Stream)

The LOX have released their new 14-track album Living Off Xperience on D-Block and Roc Nation Records. The album features the legendary DMX of Ruff Ryders, Grammy-Award winning producer Scram Jones, consistent hit-maker T-Pain, Jeremih, both Westside Gunn and Benny The Butcher from Griselda Records, and more. The new album also features additional production from a who’s who of legendary producers including Swizz Beatz, Scott Storch, AraabMuzik, Nottz, Statik Selektah, and Large Professor. The Yonkers’ trio of Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch have after 22 years since their debut album released their fourth group studio album together and their first in almost three and a half years since their successful ‘Filthy America… It’s Beautiful’ which charted well in late 2016. This new album clocking in at 57-minutes sees The LOX return as expected with their signature gritty lyrical delivery coupled with the traditional New York sound that is likely to be well received by their legions of loyal fans accumulated over the years. - via The Source. Dig in...

August 29, 2020

D-Nice "The Wackness" (Mixtape, 2008)

With the global, breakthrough success of D-Nice during COVID, I thought I'd share a throwback mix he did in 2008 for the movie soundtrack to The Wackness, which I happened to rewatch recently. Released as promo through Jive Records, D-Nice took us on a mini-trip through the 90s, including the movie's tracks from A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, The Notorious B.I.G., KRS-One, Black Moon, O.C., Craig Mack, Group Home, Biz Markie, Nas, and more. The soundtrack from the Sundance submission of the movie differs from the final edit, with several tracks either being shifted, replaced, or cut out of some scenes possibly due to issues of licensing, but the movie did include some incredible joints. You can tune into D-Nice for some feel-good vibes through his IG live HERE, where you'll see anyone from presidential candidates to your favorite celebs in the chat.

August 28, 2020

DJ Camilo "Tape 12" (Mixtape, 1995)

Big ups to the kid, DJ Camilo, on this classic mix from '95, Tape #12. The mix features tracks from Bushwackas, Raekwon, Lin Que, Mobb Deep, Blahzay Blahzay, Lord Finesse, KRS-One, Method Man & Redman, Large Professor, Das EFX, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Mary J. Blige, Crooklyn Dodgers, Rakim, Fat Joe, Heather B, Cypress Hill, Shabazz The Disciple, Erick Sermon, Special Ed, Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, Jay-Z and more! When I look back at all the mix tapes I've shared/reposted over the years, damn... a lot of them are from '95! It is what it is, dig in below, and thanks to DJ Step One for the link!