October 01, 2021

maticulous "no caps" (Album Stream)

After producing for others over the past several years, Brooklyn-based producer maticulous puts the spotlight on his gifts as an artist with his new compilation, no caps. His production, pacing, and sequencing all truly shine on here, as well as his ability to pick just the right guest emcees to appear on his instrumentals. Whether it’s Guilty Simpson expertly crafting a narrative on “Home Goin’” or yU and Uptown XO talking their sh*t on “Bein’ This Nice,” no caps is brimming with standout features. It makes sense, then, that maticulous calls this his “favorite project to create” to date. “It was born out of being completely locked down for months,” he says. “I would wake up everyday, listen to records, and become inspired with the only expectation of wanting to create music.” That time resulted in the creation of six of the eight instrumentals you hear on no caps, with the upbeat and soulful “Everything” being one of the two exceptions. He actually made that beat in 2012, and it stayed one of his favorites for years. But as he was putting together this project, he just felt it was time for the world to hear it—and he’s not wrong. Skyzoo and Justo The MC do their thing on the track, making it one of the best on here. More than anything else, however, maticulous just wants this release to be a breath of fresh air for listeners. “It’s very easy, for hip-hop especially, to get stuck in a formula,” he says. “One person has success and a hundred people try to make the same sounding stuff. No one needs to reinvent the wheel to make dope, timeless music.” Much respect to my fellow Fat Beats alumni, check out his new LP no caps below...

September 30, 2021

Happy Born Day, Marley Marl! (Playlist)

One of hip hop’s first and finest Radio DJs and Super Producers, Marley Marl created many of the sharpest beats and hooks in rap history and continues his industry leadership to the present day. Famous for representing the rap Mecca Queensbridge, and known for introducing hip hop producers to sampling, Marley, born Marlon Williams, appears at the forefront of many of hip hop’s most important moments and movements: including rocking alongside Mr. Magic on Rap Attack, co-founding the legendary Juice Crew, battling KRS One and BDP in the infamous Bridge Wars, producing LL Cool J’s Mama Said Knock You Out, breaking new talent on Future Flavas, even inspiring the late great Notorious B.I.G. Marley’s discography is extensive, with classics including "Around the Way Girl," "Eric B. Is President," "Nobody Beats the Biz," "The Symphony" and hundreds more. The longstanding rivalry with KRS One was even put to rest when he and Marley collaborated on Hip Hop Lives in 2007. Marl is in the studio, on the decks, and on the airwaves daily, and can be heard on Golden Era Radio with co-host Roxanne Shanté every Friday night from 8pm to 10pm on WBLS 107.5 FM, as well as his new podcast, Legendize. Join me in celebrating the life of Marley Marl on his born day with a brief playlist of some of my favorite cuts from the man himself. Did I miss or even worse, mis-credit something? Way too many ill tracks to include everything, but listen below...

September 29, 2021

OutKast "Aquemini" (September 29, 1998)

They brought you the Platinum Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Then they brought the Platinum plus ATLiens. Now Big Boi and Dre, the player and the poet, bring you their highly anticipated third album, Aquemini, destined for at least Double Platinum. OutKast consistently provides superb lyrics laced over bumpin' tracks which have earned them Platinum albums, #1 hit singles, awards and respect in the world of rap. In 1994 the duo entered the hip-hop scene with the Organized Noize (TLC, EnVogue, Goodibe Mob) produced Platinum album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. It debuted at #3 on the R&B Billboard Chart, received a 4.5 mic rating (out of 5) from The Source magazine and the group received a Source Award for Best New Group or Duo. The album's first single, "Player's Ball," went Gold in a matter of weeks, holding down the #1 spot on Billboard Rap Chart for over six consecutive weeks. In short, OutKast made the industry stop and respect that rap can flow from the dirty south. OutKast came right back with their sophomore album, ATLiens, which sold 1.5 million units. ATLiens reached Platinum status within a few weeks of its release when it entered the Billboard Top 200 at #2 (directly behind Pearl Jam). The album, also produced by ONP, marked the very impressive production debut by Big Boi and Dre, who crafted the first release off ATLiens, "Elevators." The single stayed at #1 for weeks, reached Platinum status, and had hip-hop heads across the nation chanting, "Me & you, your momma and your cousin too, rollin down the strip on vogues, comin up slammin cadillac doors." - Press Release, 1998. Revisit Aquemini, cont'd below...

David Banner spoke about the album in The Source's Record Report and had this to say, "I look at OutKast as being visionary. They are one of the few groups that show there is dexterity in their music. From the poetry to the live feeling, this album change the way people look at rap music. They brought in orchestras and African drummers, different types of instruments that you're not used to hearing in rap music. Big Boi took care of the streets while Andre took us to the next galaxy. It's like a diary to a Southern cat's life. "Return of the G" was the feeling of the streets and "Rosa Parks" was like going to church in the South. That's what made the album great. If you felt like you need "Liberation" you had it. It wasn't too much of anything, it was just enough. I don't care if you the hardest gangsta in the world, you not killing somebody every day. No one is happy every day. A dope fiend ain't high every single day. And I don't give a f#ck what nobody says: Andre Benjamin is one of the top five lyricists of all time. From their first album to now, he has never kicked a weak rhyme... Let's embrace them while they're alive." - The Source. Agreed, top 5 lyricist of ALL-TIME!

September 28, 2021

KRS-One "Return of the Boombap" (September 28, 1993)

The song "KRS-One attacks" starts off with this line: "We will be here forever, do you understand that? Forever and ever." And judging from his long list of career accomplishments, it is hard to dispute his claim. Like Coca-Cola Classic, you can always count on Kris to come out every year with a joint to make you go, "Oh shit!" Every year. Go ahead and count, yo. Every year. From Criminal Minded in '87 to Sex and Violence in '92, he has been about one thing--real hip-hop. But album number seven has a new approach. This is not a BDP album. It is a KRS-One solo album, which means that he can work with people outside his traditional BDP family. It was a good move on his part. This disc is a treat, not only does Kris rip it on the mic, but with DJ Premier, Kid Capri and Showbiz helping with the beats, his whole sound seems rejuvenated. Containing the same amount of tracks as the number of semesters he's been rocking albums, Return serves up instant gems. "Outta Here" is a flavorful and personal detailing of the trials and tribulations of the rap rat race. On "I Can't Get Up," our hero dreams that he's a blunt being passed around a host of dope MCs. And "Mad Crew," quite simply, is the latest entry in the long series of KRS freestyle winners. Cont'd below and listen...

Lyrically, KRS still dazzles--in both content and style--when his pen hits the paper. On "Sound Of Da Police" and "Higher Level," he offers the straight-forward conscious lyrics he is famous for. And for all of you rockers enthusiasts, he gives you a healthy dose of Caribbean flavor with "Uh-Oh" and "Brown Skin Women." All in all KRS-One keeps his end of the bargain and provides you with real hip-hop. And not only does Return showcase his commitment, but in light of last year's commercially disappointing Sex and Violence LP, it gives him a forum to ask what is probably the most serious question facing hip-hop today: "How many real hip-hoppers in the place right about now?" Think about it. - The Source (November, 1993). The production on this LP was dope, a near classic (to me). 

September 25, 2021

Eternia & Rel McCoy "FREE" (Album Stream)

Two decades and two Juno-nominations later: Eternia is back and as compelling as ever with FREE, her debut collaborative album with Juno-Award winning producer Rel McCoy. FREE represents a grand comeback for Eternia, who is widely considered one of Canada’s foremost lyricists. In 2010 she released the Juno Award-nominated and Polaris long-listed At Last with producer MoSS on Fat Beats Records. Transformative events changed her life since that release, including personal triumphs (starting a family) coinciding with personal struggles (mental/physical health) and artistic struggles (the album was rebooted), all while navigating a global pandemic and the isolation that ensues. FREE is born of these experiences as she partners with Rel McCoy, the multi-faceted artist she compliments heavily for providing the moving soundscapes on the record, as well as contributing a few vocal appearances. It’s easy to hear just what she means on standout singles like the warm and nostalgic “Most PPL” and moody and haunting “Home,” the latter of which features fellow Canadian talents Shad and SHEAL. These are lyrically rich, profound tracks that are easy to follow but brimming with layers, effortlessly walking us through complex themes with straight-shooting simplicity as only veterans can do. From Eternia’s attention-demanding vocals to Rel’s nostalgic and melodic blend of boom bap production, FREE is just as engaging as it is organic. The record also features stand out contributions from Mr. Lif, Wordsworth, Phoenix Pagliacci and Eliki. I'm proud to share this album with y'all, as many of you know I've been working behind the scenes on the rollout for the project. It's brand new, so I'll save the nostalgia for another time, I just want to you to sit with it and enjoy! You can pre-order the album on vinyl HERE via Fat Beats. Also HERE via Bandcamp.

September 24, 2021

The Low End Theory 30th Anniversary (7" Collection)

Originally released 30 years ago on September 24, 1991, A Tribe Called Quest's second studio album is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time! From "Check The Rhime" to the posse cut "Scenario," the trio of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad deliver jazzy hip-hop beats and rhymes like butter. To commemorate the 30 year anniversary, Get On Down is proud to present this exclusive limited-edition 7-inch box set. The full album is presented on 8 small hole uniquely colored 7" records with 2 bonus tracks. Five of the 7-inch records are housed in custom picture sleeves that form the iconic album cover along with 3 replicas of the original 12-inch singles that were released. The 7" collection is housed in a deluxe, fabric-wrapped 45 singles carrying case, with 360-degree original album art and custom inner wrapped ATCQ logo graphics and group photo. This fine collector's box set is available now for pre-order - I get absolutely nothing from promoting it; I just think it's that dope! To this day, this remains one of my favorite all-time albums!

September 19, 2021

Cam'ron "S.D.E." (September 19, 2000)

The only way to win the game is to play to your strengths. This is a life lesson we all learn sooner or later. Uptown representative Cam'ron learned it the hard way with his sugarcoated debut, Confessions of Fire, a watered-down CD of trite, radio-friendly songs like "Horse and Carriage." The album met with a mixed response, but one thing was clear: Cam's at his best when he gives it to you raw and uncut. Thankfully, he has finally taken control: He has severed ties with the commercially minded Untertainment and has made a rugged album that showcases his potential. On Sports, Drugs, and Entertainment, Cam employs harder-edged beats as a backdrop for his witty wordplay and cynical worldview. "That's Me" cleverly states, "Imagine me wake up 7:30 for work / I'd rather run the streets 730 with work." It's his sharp sense of humor that separates Cam from the rest. He effortlessly mixes bitter sarcasm with poignant thoughtfulness on songs such as the autobiographical title track. Thought it's likely that, at his pace, Cam will outdo himself on the next go-round, this album is a good indication that he's mastering the game. - Vibe (September, 2000). 

Full review in Vibe Magazine by Noah Callahan-Bever (Sept. 2000)...

September 18, 2021

Donnie Propa & DJ Cable "The World Famous Mixtape"

"Ayo, it's ill when I'm heated how my heart stay cold / write a rhyme that make the gats around the world explode / now behold the burning malice of a treacherous soul..." Donnie Propa and DJ Cable set it off properly with "Do You Believe" on their latest mixtape; a tribute to Corona, Queens' The Beatnuts with The World Famous Mixtape. "Yeah, you know how we comin / raw grooves with the funky drum drummin / and when my song goes off you'll still be hummin..." Available on cassette and digital, the mix features over an hour of raw tracks and production by The Beatnuts. Props to Junkyard JuJu and Psycho Les. Dig in the archives for other mixes by UK's Donnie Propa. Listen in...