January 31, 2014

DJ Matman "Hip-Hop Debuts" (Mixtape)

For this exclusive mixtape, DJ Matman wanted to create a mix featuring a combination of both debut appearances and singles from many of his favorite hip-hop artists and groups, such as Big L, Eminem, Jay-Z, 2Pac, The Beatnuts, Nas, Snoop Dogg, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, Souls of Mischief, De La Soul, Boogie Down Productions, EPMD, K.M.D., Mos Def, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Kanye West and more. DJ Matman is a multi-award winning DJ based in London and I'm a fan of his mixes so it's an honor to share them here for those who follow me and know I only co-sign mixtapes from DJs with technical skill and raw creativity ... nuff said! Listen to the mix below...

January 30, 2014

Nas "Halftime" (The Source, 12/92)

"This MC has slowly been collecting props on the down low in NYC. He added flavor to the Main Source's "Live At The B.B.Q." and recently went "Back To The Grill" with MC Serch. Now, after years as a guest star, Nasty Nas gets the chance to wreck an entire track without havin' to pass the mic. Nas is one of those brothers who can drop freestyles on you without warning. And Halftime's made-for-freestyling track (conservative bass, gritty snare and horn loop) is all Nas needs to catch wreck. His trademark is ill rhymes and punch lines galore." "I rap in front of more n!ggas than in the slave ships / I used to watch "Chips" now I load glock clips / I got to have it, I miss Mr. Magic / Versatile, my style switches like a faggot / But not bisexual / I'm an intellectual / In rap I'm a professional / But that's no question, yo!" Nasty Nas will definitely be starting trouble in '93." - The Source, December 1992. "Ill Will, rest in peace, yo I'm out..." Peep the extremely gritty visuals below...

The original review in The Source (December, 1992) is below...

January 29, 2014

Gang Starr "Step In The Arena" (Album Review, 1/91)

"Everything you've heard about Gang Starr is true. They are observers of street factualities, and blenders of the most wicked funk. To call DJ Premier a genius might be over the top, but if you want a rap record that you can jam to in your car, or on your walkman, or in your room, then this is it! Every track on this LP kicks with lyrics that come straight from life on the street. As Gang Starr says in "The Meaning of the Game," Gang means the posse, Starr means power - and that's exactly what the duo deliver. They tackle everything from intellectual attitude in "Form Of Intellect" to bad boy stick up kids in "Just To Get A Rep." And to show some diversity, Guru looks at relationships with "Lovesick" and "What Do You Want This Time?" with a humor and sensitivity never seen before in rap lyrics." "Execution Of A Chump" is the dopest track on the LP. Using an old'n'slow Pointer Sisters break, the track takes on all-comers and puts them in their place, without being offensive or rude - the perfect lyrical execution. "Take a Rest" uses "Trouble Man" breaks while the funky drum beats and train sounds put other posses in their place. If you're seeking out innovation in rap, then check out "Game Plan" and "Check The Technique." Basically, there's something for everyone on "Step In The Arena." As they on the track of the same name, some rappers are "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," but not Gang Starr. This is serious business." - Hip-Hop Connection, 1/91.

You can read the full review in Hip Hop Connection (1/91) below...

January 29, 2014

9th Wonder Presents "Jamla Is The Squad" (Album Stream)

Veteran producer and music executive 9th Wonder has turned his independent label Jamla Records into a formidable roster of quality rappers and singers alike. From Rapsody to Add-2 to Heather Victoria, Jamla is set up to prosper now and in the future. To give listeners a taste of what his label has to offer, 9th Wonder has released the compilation album Jamla is the Squad. The 25-song project is hosted by notable DJ/producer Statik Selektah and includes a mix of records from Jamla artists and outside talents as well, with Talib Kweli, Phonte, Buckshot, Blu, and more showing up for the limelight. The project also features production from The Soul Council (Khrysis, Eric G, AMP and Ka$h), a team of producers that 9th Wonder put together. If it wasn't already apparent, the guy knows talent when he hears it. Listen to the Jamla Is The Squad compilation below. - Complex.

January 28, 2014

Digable Planets "Rebirth of Slick" (The Source, 12/92)

Their '92 review in The Source said "Taking native tongue grooviness and jazzy hip-hop styles to the next level, meet Digable Planets, three "ghetto dwelling insects" with sound smuggled to you from sector six in the colorful ghettos of outer space. Digable is two guys and one female - Butterfly, Doodle-B and Mecca the Lady Bug - and they all rhyme (the first male-female combo since the days of the Funky Four + 1 and The Masterdon Committee)." "The opening of this debut single features thick scales on an upright bass. Then the beat drops with some jazzy high-hats and the laid back rhyme flavor enters your world. Over a warm horn loop and a bouncy track that bottoms in-and-out, the MCs drop references that range from b-boy, "the lyrics is like loot, come in stacks and rolls" to the retro-hip, "60s funky worms with waves and perms." Some may say they sound like Quest, but Digable are just a crew of hip-hop stylistics who can rock everybody, from dreads to jheri curls. Check for the early '93 LP," (The Source, 12/92) which Digable called a "sound vestige" at the time: "Reachin (A New Refutation of Time & Space)." Check out the dope visuals below...

The original review in The Source (12/92) is below...

January 27, 2014

NPR "Microphone Check: Eight Million Stories, Hip-Hop In 1993"

All year Morning Edition and NPR Music have been running radio pieces about rap albums released 20 years ago, in 1993. For a special episode of Microphone Check we invited a group of people who were working in hip-hop back then to meet us at the Ace Hotel in New York City and tell stories about that productive and creative year. Microphone Check's guests were none other than:

  • Faith Newman — A&R at Def Jam and then Columbia, who signed Nas.
  • Ralph McDaniels — host of Video Music Box, music video director and producer.
  • Prince Paul — producer for De La Soul and the Gravediggaz, member of Handsome Boy Modeling School and solo musician.
  • Mike Dean — engineer and producer at Rap-A-Lot Records.
  • Stretch Armstrong — DJ for WKCR's Stretch & Bobbito radio show.

January 26, 2014

Jay Electronica "Unsigned Hype" (2004) + Style Wars EP

"There are multiple reasons for wanting to be successful in the world of rap music. Of course, the fame or the fortune are appealing, and a lil' bit of groupie love never hurt nobody, right? But for 3rd-Ward Magnolia native Jay Electronica, the sincerity of his music proves that it's love for the sport and a burning desire to return Hip-Hop to its rightful path that keeps his boat afloat. Obviously a student of the culture who's serious about his craft, Jay exhibits new-school hunger, old-school ideals and a keen ear for powerful beats (provided by heavyweight producers like Nottz, Jay Dee and Hi-Tek). With a refreshing frame of reference, he drives his mission's importance into listeners' consciousness over the smooth grooves of "Retro-Electro (Scenario 2004)" and to the beat of thumping drums and spine-tingling organ riffs on "Something To Hold On," where he reminds partygoers not to forget the everyday struggle of the 'hood. But what makes Jay's story so intriguing is that he breaks the stereotype of what a New Orleans MC is supposed to sound like. Clearly his time spent in ATL, Philly, Detroit and NY have had an influence on his impressive style."

"While numerous songs on his 20-track CD offer quotable verses ("Sucka MCs rock ice, but they really in flames" on "Lock, Stock and 1 Smoking Barrel") Mr. Electronica truly displays his lyrical talents and wordplay on joints like "So What You Sayin', 2004." After "dedicating this to all you wack muthaf#ckas rappin', go get a job," he takes out his anger on the mic, ripping: "Jay Electrolysis / Combing the globe like a geologist / Puttin' all of you p#ssies on display like gynecologists / Listen, I'm on a mission / Most of you n!ggas just spittin' / The wise comprehend the diction / Hypnotized with the rhythm / Lyrical circumcision / Toss the shmuck in the fire / Yeah, your man's and them is nice / But they ain't f#cking with sire / I'm a higher power." But deeper than just bragging, Jay takes time to address key political issues, such as post-9/11 America ("The Empire Strikes Back") and the breakdown of family ("Heaven and Hell"). Clearly on a mission to educate and enlighten, he doesn't waste many words. Exploring so many topics on his CD, one begins to wonder what the hell all these other rappers are really talking about. Hopefully, for Hip-Hop's sake, some of the more misguided will follow Jay Electronica's lead." - The Source, June 2004 (Unsigned Hype). Audio work?

January 25, 2014

Organized Konfusion "Organized Konfusion" (The Source, 1/92)

OK's debut single "Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken," was dope, but it didn't really give you a good idea of what this crew is about, lyrically speaking. Buy this album, take it home, and prepare to sweat brain cells trying to keep up with the way these kids rhyme. MC's Prince Poetry and Pharoahe Monch flip the illest off-beat rhyme style to come out since Ultramagnetic's Kool Keith... Organized is definitely on some other shit. "The cut that seems to epitomize their concept most is "Releasing Hypnotical Gases." The title should suffice to let you know how bugged it is. The beats fall right in sync with the lyrical atmosphere, full of mad soulfull jazz breaks topped with crazy sounds like the backwards guitars on the title cut and the sound of bubbling fluids before "...Hypnotical Gases." "Roosevelt Franklin" makes a statement about life in the 'hood. Roosevelt is a brother seeking a balance between doing well in school, being a good son to his moms, while getting paid slinging rocks on the down-low. Other stand-out cuts are "Fudge Pudge," "Audience Pleasers," with a laid-back freestyle feel, and the "...Chicken" remix hooked up with some fat live instrumentals. Organized is talking hip-hop to new levels. Those who like to hear progressive and innovative styles need to get with it. - The Source (1/92). The LP isn't on DSPs, so watch "Fudge Pudge" below...

The full review of Organized Konfusion in The Source (1/92) is below...

January 24, 2014

Common "Unsigned Hype" + "UnAmerican Caravan" ('91 Demo Tape)

"As talent continues to sprout from all over the map, Chicago rises to the top of the crop this month with the "Greatest UnAmerican Hero," Common Sense. At the ripe age of nineteen, Sense introduces what he describes as an Avante Garde School approach to entering the rap game through his portrayal of different characters and altered egos. His rhymes display a melting pot of personalities. He has a distinct, squeeky but likeable voice and impressive rhyme skills especially for an MC coming out of Chicago. The tracks, produced by Sense's homeboys the 3 Wise Men, bring out the best in his unique vocals. His loops are creative and the hooks are catchy. The beats and samples flow in and out smoothly with a professionally polished feel to the production. The combination of these talents creates a package with the potential to attract a wide variety of audiences from all regions without losing the hardcore crowd." - Unsigned Hype, The Source - October, 1991. Bonus: you can listen to a copy of Common's "UnAmerican Caravan" demo tape below...

January 23, 2014

Mobb Deep "Peer Pressure" (The Source, 11/92)

"You will remember '92 as the year when the shorties rocked the mic. But none of 'em ever got as raw as these kids. Thought Havoc and Prodigy look young, they are far from being bubble gum pop sensations. On "Peer Pressure," Mobb Deep kicks the real about how hard it is to grow up positive and legal when all you are surrounded by is negative. "I used to dream of being an architect / Believe me it's easier said than done because it's hard to get / Out of the projects without forgettin' where you come from." "On the b-side, they put the social commentary on hold and get buck wild on the mic. "Flavor" features some of the best freestyles of the year as well as an incredible, neck-snappin', acoustic bassline. Prodigy sounds like he's been making records for ten years when he kicks it like "Mr. Soul / Trunk jewels, sippin' Olde Gold / Roll up my nickel bag of weed / Lick it up and stroll." Definitely not for the playground." - The Source, November 1992. Listen to Flavor For the Non-Believers here. Check the early visuals to Mobb Deep's "Peer Pressure" below...

The review in The Source (11/92) is below...

January 23, 2014

Step Brothers "Lord Steppington" (Album Stream)

Evidence has traveled the world, released a string of acclaimed albums with Dilated Peoples and as a solo artist, has become a respected producer crafting beats for Kanye West, Beastie Boys and Linkin Park among others. For his part, Alchemist has become one of rap's triple threats, producing for Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Nas and many more. Alchemist is also an accomplished rapper and Eminem's touring DJ. While they were building their respective careers, Evidence and Alchemist had worked together regularly collaborating on Dilated Peoples albums, Evidence's solo material and Alchemist's releases. As the pair continued collaborating, they began labeling themselves as Step Brothers when they would record, as noted on Evidence's The Layover EP. The pair then decided it was time to record an album together. Now as the Step Brothers, Evidence and Alchemist deliver another stellar musical achievement, Lord Steppington, which delivers lyric-driven, punchline-heavy and intricate rhymes. Lord Steppington boasts the best of the duo peppered with frequent collaborators and friends, including Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Domo Genesis, The Whooliganz, Styles P, Fashawn, Rakaa, Blu and Oh No. It's only January, but this will be an album of the year contender, for sure!

January 22, 2014

Showbiz & A.G. Interview (Hip-Hop Connection, 1993)

"Showbiz & AG are on a roll. "Runaway Slave deals with negativity. It's about a society run on negativity. We're just trying to get out of that state and into a positive mindstate," says the duo... AG leans forward in his seat and recounts the tales of his life when it went through its negative state. "I was a runaway slave. I was involved in crime. I realized that the whole jail to crime cycle was stupid and I finally woke up. I'm on probation, but I'll get through it because I love myself and I'm positive." AG's talkative partner Showbiz is a deejay with much to say. He may not be able to express himself lyrically, but he makes the most of the interview situation. "We're telling people to get out of mental slavery. Get out of all the drugs and the alcohol and the negative state of mind and wake up. Learn to love each other. Society makes you do things you don't want to, just like we did when we were first slaves. We don't want to be like that any more!"" Click play, cont'd below...

"The duo hail from the Bronx, where they say they were always kicking back enjoying the hip-hop delights that the borough was famous for. The infamous Lord Finesse used to hang in their neighborhood, chewing over rhymes while he looked for a record deal. "I helped Finesse get his deal. We worked together in the studio, him rhyming, me doing the music and helping out. Through the music I bumped into AG. Finesse was doing a track and decided to let AG guest on the track. We just hit it off from there." AG takes up the story: "The track was called Keep It Flowing and Biz was producer. I liked the way he handled the music. After he told me he needed someone to rap and I need someone with skills when it came to music, so we decided to hook up." The resulting track was the classic "Soul Clap" ... And with their LP released by Polygram Showbiz & AG can finally bring their rap philosophy to a hungry nation ... "We're telling all the runaway slaves out there to gain common sense and love yourself. Look at your history and learn about the slavery of the past. Once you know your history, nothing can bother you no more. Nothing can phase you." - Hip-Hop Connection, 1993. You can read (or save a copy of) the full interview below with Show & AG below...

January 21, 2014

E. Bros “A Toast” (12", 1997)

We first heard of the E. Bros in 1995 when "New Jersey Drive" introduced the Roc Raida-produced “Funky Piano" in its film and soundtrack. The single had "Funky Piano" on the B-Side to Ill Al Skratch's banger, "Don't Shut Down On A Player." It was also on Doo Wop's classic "95 Live" mixtape. E. Bros followed it up with "A Toast" bw "Harlemites" on 12" in 1997 on Ghetto Starz Entertainment. The production was handled by Knobody who also produced tracks for Call O’ Da Wild, Jay-Z, Big Pun & he's even credited with production on "Funky Piano" as well. The X-Ecutioner's Roc Raida continued his support of the E. Bros with a feature on their "X-Pressions" LP (1997) and in 2000, group member, Wayne-O and Roc Raida released a collaborative 11-track project together aptly titled "Roc Raida & Wayne-O." Listen to the 12" from 1997 below, and Rest In Peace, Grandmaster Roc Raida.

January 20, 2014

Dag Savage "The Warning Tape" (Mixtape)

Dag Savage might sound like it's a death metal band, but stop what you're doing and give a listen to Dirty Science's Exile & Johaz as they release "The Warning Tape," a prelude to their E&J album. The Warning Tape features Blu, Aloe Blacc, Blame One, Denmark Vessey, Co$$, TriState, Choosey & more on this compilation of unreleased cuts. Exile is one of Hip-Hop's most innovative producers & his track record of selecting incredible MCs to pair with includes Aloe Blacc, Blu, & Fashawn, so let's go ahead and give the man the benefit of the doubt; click play and stream"The Warning Tape" below...

January 19, 2014

Black Moon "Who Got Da Props?" (The Source, 2/93)

"Brooklyn's comin' strong with this underground trio. Already bumpin' hard throughout the five boroughs of New York, "Who Got The Props" is what you could call "mellow ruffness" - mellow grooves backed with ruff lyrics. Crew members Evil Dee, 5 F-T, and Buckshot know what it takes to make a hit record. Starting with one of the best basslines of the year, the soothing groove gives way to crisp keyboards and some confident rhymes. Not too hard and not too soft, the jazzy track is perfect for coolin' out. Hoods will love the lyrics ("Ima set it off with one shot / One trigger, one n!gga / Nuff heads drop"), while non-violent types will enjoy the laid-back flow. Either way, it's a hit. You would be advised to scoop this up as you will no doubt be hearing from this talented group in the very near future. Power to the Brooklynites." - The Source, 2/93. Watch the video below...

The original review in The Source (2/93) is below...

January 18, 2014

Blu "Soul Amazing Part 1" (Mix)

Blu's official "Soul Amazing" mixtape series: Part 1 features Blu verses originally on tracks with Co$$, Ta'Raach, Aloe Blacc, Mumbles, Sene, Presto, Dela, Waxolutionists, Keelay & Zaire, Evidence, MAGr, Small Pro, Tanya Morgan & dozens more. I'm very excited for this series, as there are so many quality Blu verses floating around the internet; many of which didn't land on official releases and it's nice to have them chopped and included in this feature series. That Mumbles track is incredible, I hadn't heard it before this mixtape, did I? Stream the mix below, and more to come...

January 17, 2014

The Roots "From Trees To Branches: Do You Want More?!?!" (Mix)

Today marks nineteen years since the release of The Roots' sophomore album, "Do You Want More?!!?" Over the last two decades we've seen The Roots grow from small stage shows and open mics in the streets of Philly, all the way to headlining their own festival and the Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon. As they proceeded to continue to rock the mic, their impact to Hip-Hop was immediate! From the jump, they displayed an expertly mixed combination of lyricism and live musicianship, which amazed fans and influenced their peers alike. We hope today's reminiscent reflection and tribute of Hip-Hop's greatest live rap band will help you understand the complexity of seeds planted by The Roots. Dig into UnitedCrates' mix below, presented by UpNorthTrips.

January 16, 2014

The Rub "Hip-Hop History" (1993-1995, Mixes)

Cosmo Baker, DJ Ayres, and DJ Eleven of The Rub now present their history of hip-hop series on BrooklynRadio! After a tour of the 80s, the crew dug into the genre as it became a pop culture phenomenon in the 90s. Starting with the jazzy samples of the Native Tongues movement in the early part of the decade, with groups like A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers, the series moves into the gangster pop of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry. Theres plenty of Biggie, Tupac, Dre, Snoop, Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, club classics, forgotten singles, the start of the indie era with Rawkus, and flavors from different parts of the country as the genre expanded to the South... (Updated in 2019: some original links I'd posted were removed by their respective streaming sites, so I had to update and consolidate a bunch of posts, but with new info and links, you can still enjoy this timeless music, presented by The Rub. This is Hip-Hop History). Here's 1993, 1994 and 1995 below...

January 15, 2014

Trends of Culture "Who Got Ya Back" Remix + Billboard (1993)

Trends of Culture Mad Sounds Recordings 1993 Billboard Magazine

I first heard Trends of Culture on radio back in '93 - I'm guessing it was probably WBLS. I went straight to the record store and copped the 'Off & On' 12" on Mad Sounds Recordings; the sleeve was bright green. Trends of Culture were Nastee, M.O.L. and Grapevine - their debut LP, 'Trendz' had mostly in-house production, although there was the remix from Lord Finesse. The sleeper cut on the LP was 'Who Got My Back?,' which may have sounded a bit emo at the time, but I was into that record heavy. With plans to release a follow-up on Mad Sounds two years later called 'When Trend Men Come,' they did release a couple singles - the most widely known single being 'Make A Move,' which was a terrific 12" produced by Easy Moe Bee. They also had a remix in '93 to 'Who Got My Back,' which was bootlegged as 'Who Got Ya Back' and features Treach of Naughty by Nature and Method Man. It floated around on mixtapes, but to the best of my knowledge, the song only appears on a 12" called 'Mouthcutlass Set Pt. 1', and sadly their sophomore LP was shelved. Peep the song below and read above for their feature in Billboard Magazine, May '93. (Updated audio '17).

January 14, 2014

Chris Read "Classic Material" (Mix, 1984-1987)

Chris Read's Classic Material mix series (originally released in 2010) continues ... Part 2 of the mix series documents hip hop's progression through the years 1984 to 1987, an era in which hip hop’s prominent sound changed drastically with the increasing popularity of drum machine programmed beats and early sampling technology. This mix leans heavily toward sample based material from the latter part of that era. Props to Chris Read, he did his thing with all these mixes, listen below...

January 13, 2014

Q-Tip "The Needle Drop" (Video, 2009)

This video of Q-Tip, Kanye West and Consequence surfaced back in 2009... aptly titled, "The Needle Drop," because it shows Q-Tip manually dropping the needle on Bobby Rush's "Chicken Heads" record and making a loop without the use of a sampler or other tools. This is some on-the-spot, takin' it back to the essence type shit that Q-Tip displayed. The analog days are not lost and the creatives of this industry - Q-Tip is definitely one of them - continue show how you can create, and share a vision, with next to nothing. If you aren't inspired by this, then check your pulse. From mixing two records to create the loop, to pause tapes, to bangin' on the lunch room table... and all the tricks in between... hip-hop has shown its ingenuity time and time again. One day we'll hear a record from this, I'm sure of it. Pardon the video quality, it is what it is! Much respect to Q-Tip. Watch it below! 

January 12, 2014

Chris Read "Classic Material" (Mix, 1979-1983)

This is the first edition of Chris Read's Classic Material, a dope series of mixtapes celebrating over 30 years of recorded rap music. Edition #1 documents hip hop’s birth on wax and it’s formative years, 1979-1983... from the disco and boogie influenced sound of the late 70s through to the early drum machine tracks of the mid 80s. These early classics will walk you through the birth of hip-hop and the journey will continue with subsequent mixes from Chris Read. Enjoy the mix, listen below...

January 11, 2014

Jeopardy "It's a Rap" (Video)

"Want further evidence of Hip-Hop’s domination in pop culture? Well, last night rap lyrics returned to the blue screen on Jeopardy. The legendary Alex Trebek read off rap lyrics from the likes of Biggie, Public Enemy, Dre & Snoop and more as the contestant nailed each question with ease. Seriously, these folks didn’t even second guess themselves once." - via MissInfo. You've gotta appreciate "It's A Rap" being a category on Jeopardy, and the players knowing the answers! This is what Steve Stoute called the "Tanning of America;" even Jeopardy makes a dollar from it. Watch...

January 10, 2014

Crooklyn Dodgers "Crooklyn" (Review, 1994)

When you hear: "Straight from Crooklyn, better known as Brooklyn / Never takin' shorts, 'cause Brooklyn's the borough," you know it's gonna be epic! Ya know how else you know? "Masta Ace and Buckshot on a Q-Tip track? That's reason enough to get up on this single. Add that to the long-awaited return of "the magnificent" Special Ed, and you know the shit must be monumental. And "Crooklyn" won't let you down. The Abstract's beat is all bassline hypnosis and layers of loops. As the groove creates the aura, all 3 lyricists take their task to heart as they reflect on that "70s thing from the days when kids didn't act so craze / in Crooklyn." As the first single off the soundtrack of Spike Lee's new movie, the song has nothing to do with the film and the film has nothing to do with crooks (it's about family life in Brooklyn), but whatever's clever." - The Source, cont'd below...

"Panic / As another manic depressant / Adolescent / Stares at death 
Now what's left / When there ain't no God and a whole lotta pride?
It might be a homicide / So let the drama / Slide 
We don't want no problems, B / Get your name in the obituary columns, see 
Cuz life is too short / And it gets shorter / I wish I had a quarter 
for all my people they slaughter / Last year alone / In the dead zone 
Walk straight, but don't walk late 
Cuz I'm comin' with a hate only made / From what it made me 
Cuz nobody ever played me / Now it's only gettin' worse 
Buckshot and Ace in the land of the waste
Kickin' you in your face!"

January 09, 2014

Gang Starr "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (HHC, 1989)

"Every once in a while an album comes my way that dares to be different. While the rhymers aren't especially incredible, the music is first rate and the grooves are massive. The most outstanding song here is "Jazz Music" and is exactly what the title suggests: a slow easy jazz rhythm gives the MCs, Premier and the Guru, a lush bed to do their business over. Other outstanding tracks are the latino inspired, "Manifesto," a hardcore hip-hop "Gotch U" and the DJ Mark The 45 King produced, "Knowledge." This album is a fair representation of the extent of hip-hop's incredible growth in the Americas during the past few years. Months ago Gang Starr were virtual unknowns, now they've got an album out and rave reviews..." - Hip Hop Connection, 7/89 (Updated, photo added by @Illvia)

"...Tape playing loudly, inside my headphones
MC's that crowd me, turn into headstones
Because I don't have time for, powerless minds or
Suckers who suck, because I find more
Interesting topics, you can not stop it
I drop it and rock it I shock it, that's how I'm livin' B
I like to live my life with positivity..."

January 08, 2014

Mobb Deep "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, 7/91) + Demo Tape

"The unsigned flavor of the month came unquestionably from the dynamic duo of MCs, Prodigy and Havoc, better known as the Poetical Prophets. Straight outta Queens, New York, these two little 5'3 sixteen year olds are fast making a big name for themselves in talent shows and radio stations in the New York area. Yes they're young, and they look even younger, but understand that this is no ABC. Poetical Prophets rhyme from the hardcore perspective of two little street soldiers who like to bug out, puff blunts, and sip forties. Peep the lyrical flavor: "Baby Grand Puba / Little Rick the Ruler / And in my pocket is a crazy fat bag of Buddha." The beats, produced by an un-named associate from Coney Island, are hooked up kinda lovely too." - Unsigned Hype, The Source (7/91)

In March 2011, Chairman Mao wrote a piece on Complex, discussing the best demo tapes, and Mobb Deep was #6, saying: "In an era rife with kiddie rappers and R&B singers, Havoc and Prodigy (then doing business as the Poetical Prophets) showed the world that juveniles could roll just as hardcore as any of their degenerate grown-up counterparts. Anchored by a snaking electric piano loop, the OG run-through of “Flavor For the Non-Believers” actually trumps the subsequent released version for grimy appeal. After claiming “Unsigned Hype” honors in July of ’91, the demo attracted the attention of 4th & Broadway A&R (and world famous music journalist) Bonz Malone, paving the way for a name change, and Mobb Deep’s debut LP, Juvenile Hell." Bonus: "Pre-Infamous" Demo Tape...

January 07, 2014

Moodswing9 "Mix Sessions: Live From The Petting Zoo" (1998)

Keeping it 100, I am by no means an authority on Moodswing9’s catalog or background. I know he had a hand in Anticon and a grip of real solid production credits, but I’m still playing catch-up listening back to past releases. The main reason that I chose this particular mix is more personal; it’s because of a track near the end of Side B; Eternia and Psychology's ‘Untitled’. The song immediately following Eminem’s ’Just Don’t Give A F#ck’. I’ve been managing Eternia for several years, but to trace her music back to a mix tape in '98 is bonkers to me... you can hear the evolution in her voice, flow, content; just about every-thing. While very few people know Eternia as ‘Mothership’ or Mindbender as ‘Psychology’, a tape like this shows how far their roots in Hip-Hop extend and how they were putting it down for their city. Naturally there were earlier demos and other features, but this mix tape still stands out, to me. It wasn’t until 2005 that Eternia released her first official studio album, ‘It’s Called Life’ and 5 more years before her follow-up studio album with MoSS, ‘At Last’. Meanwhile, Mindbender still remains the prototype for what a true fan of hip-hop culture looks like in Canada. Ask about Mindbender in Toronto!! Of course, E is still doin' her thing, stay tuned for new music coming soon! For now, listen to this throwback: Mix Sessions - Live From The Petting Zoo below, also featuring Buck 65, Live Poets, Atoms Family and a lot more... (Updated link).

January 06, 2014

The Source Mic System for Album Reviews (March, 1997)

Since we still look back on albums to see how The Source rated them back in the day, we should be clear on their review system and how they determine mic ratings. With that said: "Today's subject is the infamous Source mic ratings... we're gonna clear up some of the mysteries and misconceptions by answering some of the more popular queries: 1) How in the hell can y'all let one person's opinion decide something as important as the mics? When a record comes in it gets assigned to a professional journalist who crafts his or her opinion in the form of the review. The record then goes to The Source ratings committee (*WHO?*), each of whom listens to it in isolation for a specified period of time. At the end of that period, the committee meets to discuss the record and vote on a rating. Then... we present the mic rating to you, the reader. 2) What are some of the criteria y'all look for when you rate an album? Well, first we separate an album into its most basic components - music and production, lyrical technique and execution, narrative content. Or, to put it more simply, are the beats boomin', can the cats flow, and what the hell are they talkin' about anyway? Then we put the consistency barometer into play, as in how consistently does the artist in question deliver high marks in each of the basic components? So, how does one get to the magical 4-4.5 range, you may ask? Simple. You've got to push the envelope in at least two of the basic components, consistently. In the final analysis, folks, we do our absolute best to give you a fair and accurate guide each month.... You may not always agree with us, but we'd like to think we're a lot more on than off. Long live true hip-hop." - The Source, March 1997. The full article is up above.

January 05, 2014

Common "I Used To Love H.E.R." (Review, 1994)

"I Used to Love H.E.R." was released by Common in '94 on his sophomore album "Resurrection." With the entire album produced by No I.D., the song blends hip-hop with a jazzy sample from "The Changing World" by George Benson. Undoubtedly one of his most popular tracks and one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all-time. From the beefs it sparked to the sentiments encapsulated in its strong messaging, Common became one of our culture's most important voices, and he's kept his word to never turn his back on his first love. It's hard to ignore the irony that this song was recorded in what's widely considered the "golden era" of hip-hop; it just goes to show you that our culture is forever growing, and OGs always need to play a role to help guide it forward. Cont'd...

The Source adds, "I used to love h.e.r." is a love story ... It's about paying homage to the thing that gave your life a direction and a purpose. Common talks about his love affair with hip-hop ... The track's contemplative chimes, pianos and soft alluring string melodies sweep you away like a Barry White interlude ... All you can do is listen closely to what is being said. A lot of brothers talk smack about how much game they have and why you should listen to them, but Common is one of the few who has something worth saying: "Talkin' about poppin' glocks, servin' rocks and hittin' switches / Now she's a gangster rollin' with gangster bitches" ... "Stressin' how hardcore and real she is / She was really the realist before she got into showbiz" ... But as bad as things are, Common will not abandon his first love. At the song's end he vows that he will be there for her like she was for him." 

January 04, 2014

The Notorious B.I.G. "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, 3/92)

"If you're an aspiring rapper and you know you have the flavor and potential to make dope records, you don't need to go into the studio and spend crazy cash to make a fly demo. You don't even need a 4-track; just two turntables and a microphone, press record on the tape deck and you're good to go. B-I-G is living proof of this fact. His DJ, Hitman 50 Grand, threw on a couple classic breaks and instrumentals and let B-I-G do what he had to do; he ripped shit. Straight outta Brooklyn, New York, the heavy-set brother B-I-G has mad skills. His rhymes are fatter than he is. All four of his jams were basically a freestyle exhibition. Obviously, to come out as an MC takes a lot more than hype rhymes, but rhyme skills are the main ingredient to true success in hip-hop, and when it comes to those, B-I-G's got plenty." - The Source, March 1992 (Unsigned Hype). Rest In Peace, B.I.G.

January 03, 2014

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five "Press Kit" (1988)

"The Bronx-bred rap group Grandmaster Flash, which rocked a nation at the start of the '80's is back together. Elektra recording artists Grandmaster Flash, Kidd Creole and Rahiem have reunited with the remaining members of the original Furious Five; Melle Mel, Scorpio and Cowboy. The re-formed group is already in session for a new Elektra release, due out early 1988. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five burst upon the rap/rock/R&B scene in 1980 with the Master-ful hit, "On The Wheels Of Steel," virtually bringing "rap music" out of the streets and into the musical mainstream. The group followed up that startling success with powerful, innovative records like, 'Apache,' 'It's Nasty,' 'The Birthday Party,' and of course, 'The Message'. Business and legal pressures forced the group to splinter, with Flash, Rahiem and Kidd Creole recording three well-received LPs for Elektra (They Say It Couldn't Be DoneThe Source, and Ba-Dop-Boom-Bang) while Melle Mel recorded several strong sides under his own name, (such as "White Lines," "Vice," from the Miami Vice soundtrack, and participated in recordings with Chaka Khan, "I Feel For You," and Little Steven's "Sun City." - Press Release, 1988. Taking it way back; where it all started for many of us. I was 10!

Below is the official press release, 1998...