February 28, 2014

Pete Rock "Roy Ayers Tribute" (Mix)

A digger's delight and samples galore as Pete Rock mixes Roy Ayer's & RAMP's back catalog with the artists who sampled Roy Ayers. In case you are unfamiliar RAMP means Roy Ayers Master Production. Heavily sampled (most notably on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum”) and much adored for their sublime version of "Everybody Loves The Sunshine," RAMP has maintained a musical presence despite a lack of music and info. Pete Rock cuts through some classics, dig into it below...

February 27, 2014

J Dilla "Welcome 2 Detroit" (CMJ, May-June, 2001)

"Whether you know it or not, Jay Dee's been rocking you for years. Probably best known as a member of the Ummah production team (who worked with A Tribe Called Quest) and the underground crew Slum Village, he's produced tracks for heavyweights like Busta, Common, Erykah and De La. Welcome 2 Detroit, dedicated to the Jay Dee stomping ground more famous for its brushed-metal techno than wood-grained hip-hop, echoes the subtle, soulful vibe of all the above. It's as understated as Slum Village's Fantastic Vol.2, trading in its rosy glow for a blunter, darker feel. The real action creeps in the background, with beats skulking like alley cats around the perimeter of a streetlight. On "Y'all Ain't Ready," a fidgety typewriter balances the breakbeat, as an instant staccato pings faintly in the distance. And who'd have thought that the Clapper theme (that's right, as seen on TV) could be turned into a grindingly funky jam? Jay Dee's also got a knack for finding MCs to balance the tenor of his tracks - on "Beej-N-Dem Pt.2," Beej's nasal style plays perfectly off the hallowed bass and compressed soul sample. And his cover of Donald Byrd's "Think Twice" exemplifies the producer's respect for his soul roots. Welcome to Jay Dee's Detroit: Get comfy, you may want to stay a while." - CMJ, 2001. (Updated, 2016). Listen to Dilla's Welcome 2 Detroit below...

The review for Jay Dee's Welcome 2 Detroit in CMJ is below...

February 26, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan "Protect Ya Neck" (The Source, 2/93)

"When you get a deal, release a record, and aren't satisfied with the way your product is marketed and promoted, then it's time to take it back to the streets and take matters into your own hands, which is exactly what these two cousins from Staten Island did. Prince Rakeem, formerly on Tommy Boy Records, and his cousin The Genius, formerly on Cold Chillin' (or Cold Killin' as Genius calls it), united with a family of up and comers from around their way and put out their own 12-inch. The Wu-Tang clan is packed with flavor MCs, all bringing a unique style to the cutting edge of underground hip-hop. You might get lost trying to identify every rapper in the song (Shallah Raekwon, Method Man, U-God, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ghost Face Killer, Inspectah Deck, The RZA, The Genius), but one thing's for sure, there's plenty of dope styles to get into. After everybody represents, Genius takes us outta here with an all out lyrical assault on record company execs who are "so stingy, they got short arms and deep pockets," and who know nothing about rap music: "First of all, who's your A&R / A mountain climber who plays the electric guitar?" - The Source.

The review of "Protect Ya Neck" in The Source (2/93) is below...

February 25, 2014

A Tribe Called Quest "The Low End Theory" (The Source, 1991)

"What do you do for an encore after making one of the most ground-breaking unique and outstanding hip-hop albums ever? Instead of moving ahead to an uncharted musical plateau that may be over everyone’s head, the Tribe have veered off to the side, molding their jazz-infused samples with fat hardcore beats to give their progressive sound a streetwise edge. The most prevalent theme on this record is the Tribe’s disillusionment with the music industry. Song topics address shady promoters, bootleggers and the greedy, insensitive record labels that rip-off artists. Meanwhile, Tip and Ali drop some more fat loops from their secret sample vaults. The tracks are kept simple and feature the type of fat drum beats that can be heard from a boomin’ system three blocks away... They add the right touch - whether it's a live bass with singing on Q-Tip’s "Verse From Abstract," or the jazzy sax loop on Phife’s "Butter." Q-Tip has already proven he is a highly skilled lyricist with his own distinct style and once again he flows lovely, dubbing himself "The Abstract Poet. Those who questioned Phife’s microphone techniques on the first album will swallow those doubts as he practically steals the show on this one. Phife provides a more straight-up b-boy approach to complement Tip’s mellow vibes. Other outstanding cuts include "Buggin’ Out," an uptempo jam with a catchy bassline, "Rap Promoter" with its chunky guitar samples, "ShowBiz," featuring Brand Nubian and ex-Ultimate Force member Diamond D, and “Scenario” a duet with the Leaders Of The New School that feature some incredible lyrics from Busta Rhymes. There’s no sophomore jinx to be found here only real hip-hop." - The Source (1991). A well-earned 5-mic review!

You can save a copy of The Source's Low End Theory review below...

February 24, 2014

A.D.O.R. "Let It All Hang Out" (12", 1995)

A.D.O.R.'s "Let It All Hang Out" is an undeniable Pete Rock classic from 1992 on Atlantic Records. A.D.O.R. was born in Washington Heights, but moved to Mount Vernon as a kid and later met Pete Rock, Heavy D, Puff, etc. in High School. A.D.O.R. was also known as "Another Dimension of Rhythm" and/or "A Declaration Of A Revolution." He received his deal through DJ Eddie F, who was Heavy D's DJ, and the first single they recorded was "Let It All Hang Out." The song had a video and solid promotion behind it -- I can remember seeing A.D.O.R. perform the track live on "In Living Color" that same year. It was also mentioned in The Source in October 1992, "I don't know about you, but I thought that cut, "Let It All Hang Out" by A.D.O.R. was fat. Pete Rock definitely hooked him up and will be supplying beats for the rest of his album." Despite the single's success, The Concrete was only released as a promo and was not entirely produced by Pete Rock. It did, however, have joints from Diamond D, as well as K-Def and Marley Marl. A.D.O.R. came back in 1998 with his own label and released "Shock Frequency," which also had the Pete Rock-produced "Let It All Hang Out," plus 2 more joints from Pete Rock and tracks from Diamond D and Clark Kent. With Pete Rock's success - then and now - you've undoubtedly heard these tracks on compilations, if not the actual A.D.O.R. release. However, "Let It All Hang Out" remains his only true classic. Listen below...

February 23, 2014

The Roots "Things Fall Apart" (February 23, 1999)

On their fourth effort, Things Fall Apart, the Roots find themselves on the cusp of a commercial breakthrough. Like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, the Roots have always stood for innovation in hip hop, both sonically and lyrically. Borrowing the title of Chinua Achebe's literary masterpiece, Things continues the evolution the Roots have undergone since their independently released debut, Organix (Motive/MCA, 1993). To paraphrase Chuck D, from the Roots' album, Illadelph Halflife in 1996, the Roots are an enigma, perhaps even to themselves. They certainly remain one to critics, who have tried to pigeonhole the group ever since they released Organix and their critically acclaimed sophomore album, Do You Want More?!!!??! (Geffen, 1995). Stuck with the "alternative" label, the Roots were then falsely accused of restructuring their sound on Illadelph to gain a harder, more authentically "hip hop" sound. Fusing the free-throwing live instrumentations of their first two albums with the methodical, yet still revolutionary, in-house production and engineering techniques of Illadelph, the Roots have finally perfected their sound. This synthesis, coupled with the vocal gymnastics of Black Thought & Malik B., makes for one of the most complete albums of the decade.

The plush beats on "The Next Movement" and stripped-down acoustics on "Dynamite" exemplify that wholeness. "Dynamite," which features the background harmonies of next-school soul group Jazzyfatnastees, captures the Roots at their most nuanced. Using structure, chord changes, and unorthodox time signatures, the Roots take techniques associated with hard bop-era jazz and put them in a hip hop context. The seemingly simple guitar licks on "Dynamite" provide another example of the group's creativity. Black Thought, using his voice as an instrument, stutters his way up the scales, while the guitar accents his vocal riffs. Even when they take a more traditional approach, the Roots manage to raise the standards for hip hop. The aptly named "Adrenaline" features a sparse piano loop that spurs the wordsmiths to new heights. Thought, Malik B., Dice Raw, and newcomer Beans each outshine the other in a battle of lyrical one-upmanship. But it's the tracks' subtleties that separate the group from their peers. Rahzel channels live turntablism through his transcendent beat-boxing, while Thought and his cohorts display stunning verbal calisthenics. The Roots have reconfigured the pyramid again, placing themselves at the top. Although some things in hip hop continue to fall apart, the Roots pick up the pieces and construct a new order. - Vibe, 1999. 

February 22, 2014

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1989" (Mix, 2011)

In January '11, Chris Read continued his monthly Classic Material series paying tribute to the hip hop of 1989, another year in which the genre's dominant sounds changed drastically. As the James Brown influenced sound that had dominated the late 80s played out its final days, producers from all corners of the genre turned their attentions to sampling the bass heavy West Coast sound of Parliament, Funkadelic and Zapp. Acts such as De La Soul and the Jungle Brothers burst on to the scene injecting a light hearted honesty into their lyrical content which paved the way for the emerging 'new school' sound of the early 90s. Early releases from the likes of X Clan hinted at the 'afrocentric' sound that would come to prominence in the following years. As with previous editions, the mix places classic cuts alongside the lesser heard. Hit the archives for more, listen below...

February 21, 2014

The Notorious B.I.G. "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (August, 1994)

"Fulton Street (or the avenue, as it's known in Fort Greene, Brooklyn) looks like one of those New York City ghetto neighborhoods you see on the Box or MTV: kids making trips to the corner store, drinking 40s, smoking blunts, and playing C-Lo. There's Biggie picking up the dice with his right hand, taking a wide step backwards, shaking his hand furiously - and with a twist of his wrist, the dice spill onto the concrete as he snaps his fingers and lets out a satisfied "Hah!" Rolling out a 4-5-6, he wins the bank of $6. It may not seem like much, but as a new-to-the-rap-game hustler, Biggie is happy to collect. On the regular, the Notorious B.I.G. (also known as Biggie Smalls) can be found on Fulton Street - he used to be there more when he was hustlin' full-time. Twenty-year-old Biggie first appeared last year on the Who's The Man? soundtrack. Even though the movie flopped, Biggie's debut, "Party and Bullshit," will not be forgotten..." Cont'd below along with some bonus remixes...

"Surprisingly, Ready To Die is nothing like "Party and Bullshit." The album's beats are an East Coast interpretation of West Coast pimp flavor. There are a lot of lyrics about suicide ("Ready To Die" and "Suicidal Thoughts"). "I'm just trying to touch on angles that other brothas is scared to touch," he explains. "Ain't no brotha I know that been hustlin' or been f#cked up in the street shit that can tell me they ain't never wish they was f#cking dead. I know plenty of nights I laid down and wished it was just over. For now, he's only just begun, and what's real for Biggie is making a better life for himself. This means moving out of Fort Greene, getting a record deal for his boys (the Junior Mafia) and buying a house for his mother (in Florida). It also means selling a lot of records. "Whatever I got to do to make this paper," he says. "Can't make no moves when you're broke." - Vibe, August 1994.

February 20, 2014

Revolutionary Rhythm "SoulVibes" (Album Stream)

Peace to Revolutionary Rhythm (Predominance, DJ Million Faces and Kid Abstrakt) on this breakthrough sophomore project "SoulVibes" from 2012. The Los Angeles crew caught my attention with their in-the-pocket delivery over Jazz and soul-infused production from Beat Gates, Rhythmatical, C mon & Kypski, Panik, Suhnraw, Exile, White Shadow, Ohbliv, Weirddough, MF Doom, Cloud, and Question. This project holds a steady vibe throughout and the replay value is incredible! Word is, the project was on the radar of Thes One of People Under The Stairs, so I expect a lot of great things from R2. Do yourself a favor and get caught up before their next joint drops - hopefully sooner than later! Did they ever press physicals of this project? Check it out below...

February 19, 2014

Lord Finesse "Happy Born Day + DJ P-Sol Tribute Mix"

Happy Born Day to one of the great producer/MCs in hip-hop history: Lord Finesse of the Diggin' In The Crates crew! Below is a throwback mix, paying tribute to the Funky Man, Lord Finesse. The mix includes some classic verses, production and remixes, including tracks from Biggie Smalls, Big L, Nas, Dr.Dre, KRS-One, Fat Joe, O.C., Big Pun, Sadat X and Grand Puba of Brand Nubian, INS, Pete Rock, MC Lyte and more. People don't understand how nice Lord Finesse was  is with the bars, especially as a freestyle MC. Listen to the mix and much respect to Lord Finesse! I had to update the mix below, since the original one I shared was taken down. Salute the legend + hit the archives!

February 18, 2014

Stones Throw "Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton" (Documentary)

The story of Stones Throw Records: Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton is a feature-length documentary about avant-garde Los Angeles-based record label Stones Throw Records. The film weaves together rare concert footage, never-before-see archival material, inner-circle home video and photographs and in-depth interviews with the artists who put Stones Throw Records on the map. Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton gives an exclusive look into the label's left-of-center artists, history, culture, and global following. The film features exclusive interviews with Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Common, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Mike D (The Beastie Boys), Tyler the Creator, and many more. I originally had the trailer for the documentary below, but someone posted the documentary, so check it out while it's available. If it gets taken down, give me a shout and I'll update this post (again). Great documentary!

February 17, 2014

Rakim "WORDS" (Short Film)

Words is a re-introduction, and aural celebration of hip-hop’s most influential MC. Inspired by the vinyls that birthed the art form, the film is a portrait of two sides of an artist (A & B) and the streets and city he inspired. Two of his verses ("I Know You Got Soul" and "Follow The Leader") have been remixed … but the weight of his words will never change. His flow patterns and elevated rhymes shifted the entire culture! If this mini-doc / ode to the God MC, RAKIM, doesn't give you chills and make you stop what you're doing, then make you feel like you can do and be ANYTHING, then hip-hop culture might not be for you. Watch this excellent short film by Matt Bieler below...

February 16, 2014

Stüssy x Yo! MTV Raps (Documentary, 2013)

In conjunction with the release of the Stüssy/Yo! MTV Raps collection, Stüssy produced a 2-part documentary entitled We Were All Watching. Part 1, The Importance of Yo! MTV Raps, takes a look at the history of MTV’s groundbreaking music program, and Part 2, Fashion in the Golden Age of Hip Hop examines the trends and styles from that era and how they changed the world. Yo! MTV Raps was a two-hour television music video program, which aired on MTV (in the U.S.) from August 1988 to August 1995. The program (created by Ted Demme and Peter Dougherty) was the first hip hop music show on the network... Yo! MTV Raps produced a mix of rap videos, interviews with rap stars, live in studio performances (on Fridays) and comedy. The U.S. version was originally hosted by Fab 5 Freddy. Later, the show's main host was Doctor Dré and Demme's high school friend, Ed Lover, who both hosted together on weekdays. Soon they were joined by Doctor Dre's Original Concept group member T Money. Fab 5 Freddy proceeded to host on weekends. The original line-up of the show, starring only Fab as the host, premiered on MTV on August 6, 1988. Yo! MTV Raps had its series finale on August 17, 1995. Numerous high-profile names in the world of hip-hop closed the show out with a freestyle rap session. The advent of Yo! MTV Raps in the late 1980s was crucial to the spread of hip-hop around the world. Watch both Parts of the Yo! MTV Raps documentary below...

February 15, 2014

Supastition "Honest Living EP" (Album Stream)

"This is a collection of songs dedicated to the working class and loosely inspired by NC’s failing economy. Supastition was inspired to write the EP after NC became the first state to eliminate federal unemployment benefits in 2013. A lot of people, including Supa, felt the effects of it. While he was searching for a job himself, Supastition documented those struggles first hand with the Honest Living EP. Croup is no stranger to Supastition music. They recorded their first official song (Adrenaline) on Supastition's The Deadline. Since then, they've been working together and crafting songs. Croup is one of the few producers who didn't change his sound just to get major placements. As a unit, Supa and Croup both refuse to compromise their sound and only care to appeal to those who dig that vintage sounding hip hop." Update: Unfortunately, due to some behind the scenes issues, we have removed the album from streaming platforms, but you can still enjoy the visuals to the song "Nothing Like It," an upbeat and celebratory track, down below. Thanks for all the support.

February 15, 2014

Frank The Butcher & DJ 7L "Cuffin Season Volumes 1 & 2" (Mix)

Frank The Butcher & DJ 7L are doing us a big favor with these mixes, an ode to Cuffing Season to assist you in finding some comfort on these cold nights and the Valentine's Day celebrations. The 1st mix features tracks from Jodeci, Xscape, Case, Total, Mary J. Blige, Biggie, Monifah & Heavy D, Groove Theory, D'Angelo, Craig David, Faith Evans, Jay-Z & Babyface, Meth & Mary, Nas & Amy Winehouse, Aaliyah & of course, what would an R&B mix be without Bobby Brown, right? A near flawless tracklist, with the exception of the seemingly uncancellable (grammar police will get me before police get him) R. Kelly who sneaks a track or two in there. Stream Volume 1 below...

Frank The Butcher & DJ 7L doubled down and released a Volume 2, which features tracks from H-Town, Janet Jackson, Jon B, Joe, Aaliyah, Silk, Beyonce, Jodeci, LL Cool J, Jonell, Jay-Z, Usher, 112, Mariah Carey, Q-Tip, and a handful more. Between Volume 1 and 2, you've got all the help you're gonna get to help close the deal, you're gonna have to make it work, lol. Happy Valentine's Day ...

February 14, 2014

Smif-N-Wessun "Dah Shinin" (The Source, 2/95) + Response (4/95)

"After being discovered by Black Moon, and appearing on that group's Enta Da Stage album, Smif n Wessun hit headz with their single "Bucktown," a laidback mixture of rugged lyrics and moody bass. Now they return with their debut album, Dah Shinin'. While every song is appealing due to the group's talent for flowing and their ability to occasionally drop strong lyrics, the album suffers from too many Black Moon-like tracks and sing-song styles that too closely echo Buckshot on "I Got Cha Opin." They begin with a bouncy intro, "Timz N Hood Check," (one of the album's best cuts), and then leap off into criminal-minded freestyles on "Wrektime," "Wontime" and "Wrekonize." For "Sound Bwoy Bureill," they are gun-clappers killing a soundman. "K.I.M." (Keep It Movin') is traditional New York horns and echo. "Stand Strong" tells us it's mad deep in the streets and "Hellucination," despite its promising title, features 'eerie' bass that sounds more like a Spanish soap opera soundtrack."

"Their anthemic "Bucktown" is still the group's bread and butter. Using less forced deliveries, the duo evoke images of Brooklyn housing projects, jeeps cruising by, ciphers of freestyling bluntsmokers, and brothers rolling dice in Bushwick. This was the song that got everybody open; the song that led many people to think that this group's album would be the shit. Instead of sticking to this mode, they leap into tough guy BS and make their album hit a little weaker than it should've. The tracks, by Evil Dee and Mr. Walt, are too similar (dirty, plodding beats and bumpy bass) and make them sound even more like Black Moon proteges. If they were hooked up with more diversified flavors, listeners wouldn't feel deja vu and might be more satisfied." - The Source, 2/95.

Obviously, this was not one of the most favorable reviews. Is it any surprise that Duck Down's Boot Camp Clik wrote a letter to express their displeasure with the review? Let's look back at their response, too... "Over the last few weeks the Boot Camp Clik has had to answer for The Source. The question being asked: "How could Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin' receive 3 mics (February 1995) for one of the phattest albums of the year and find itself with a lower rating than every other album on that page? The Source states itself "These ratings are determined by staff consensus..." yet the staff we have contacted at The Source told us that they had never heard Smif n Wessun's album. Could one Joe Charles determine all by himself, for the hip-hop community, what Da Shinin deserved? If so, it creates a serious problem because The Source is what it is titled: "the source" that tells the hip-hop community what's the haps in hip-hop. HIP-HOP, NOT RAP. By giving Smif n Wessun's Da Shinin 3 mics you are striking a blow to the head of each and every individual who lives for hip-hop. Individuals who have been craving for dirty plodding beats and bumpy bass (the essence of hip hop music production). Originu crooks who can't get enough of street reality lyrics. Originu Headz who recognize that The Source staff now knows that Smif n Wessun's album deserved, maybe not a higher rating, for that is Joe Charles' opinion, but at least a fair shake before their work is to be judged and reviewed for the masses. Joe Charles wipe ya mouf." - 4/95

February 13, 2014

Artifacts "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, 4/93)

"Straight from the brick city of New Jerusalem (Newark, NJ) is a young duo named Artifacts that is more than ready to drop bombs. MCs Tame and El Da Sensei are already well connected in the rap game. Does the Pack Pistol Posse ring a bell? Yeah, that's right; they "rock ruff rhymes" around the way with Tame's cousin Redman. You might even catch a similarity in their rhymes ... Tame and El started staking their claim in the underground last year when they first called up the Stretch Armstrong college radio show in New York and won an over-the-phone rap contest. Since then Stretch, Daddy Reef and Bobbito have had them up a few times to wreck shop on the airwaves. Artifacts incorporates classic B-Boy flavor into their lyrics. Train yards, third rails, mad color tips, black books, and backspins are common topics." Cont'd below + an added 8-minute freestyle...

A couple other heads looking out for the Artifacts are Sadat X and Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian. Jamar produced a song called "Wrong Side of the Tracks," featuring Lord J vocals on the chorus, and both Brand Nubian brothers collaborated with the Artifacts on "Check The Fine Print," a bangin' upbeat track with a lyrical buckshot to so-called righteous MCs with "white hoes in their videos" and a verbal assault on the ex-Brand Nubian member. T-Ray (who produced "Not Gonna Be Able To Do It" by the Double XX Posse) did a track called "Wicked Lyrics" where Tame and El kick just that. Although they had some serious help on the production side, they show and prove skills of their own with some pre-production material. Overall, Artifacts represents real hip-hop on its way up from the underground." - Unsigned Hype, The Source (April, 1993). (Updated, freestyle audio added).

February 12, 2014

Troopa Deal "Bazic Insticts" (EP, 1995)

Some years back, when Twitter was less overrun with accounts, super-producer Just Blaze tweeted a request for a copy of a record by Troopa Deal called 'Outta Hand' (specifically, the remix) and I just happened to be on online at the time and was able to dig it up to share. I think the record came out of Tampa, Florida although the artists were from New York (away at college perhaps?), and the full EP is called 'Bazic Instincts;' released in 1995 on Solid Entertainment Records. It's been a while, but for that those would like to hear the record, too - here it is; Troopa Deal's 'Bazic Insticts' 7-track EP. The cost for this EP on Discogs is over $100, and the CD costs 2-3x that! Crazy! It's a good record though, props to Rob Strong on the production. Listen to it below...

Should I have gotten Red Lobster or Houlihans?

February 11, 2014

DJ Woody "Big Phat 90's Mixtape" (Video Mix, 2013)

Originally released last year, this is DJ Woody's 90s video-mix, which he titled, Big Phat 90's Mixtape. This is a nostalgic chronological musical ride through some of the decades dopest moments, reworking some classics with DJ Woody's unique blend of custom graphics, video sound bites, and renowned turntable technique to rock a 90′s mix unlike any other. In true 90′s style, here is a cassette-friendly 45 minute ‘mixtape’ version of the set... check it out below! Props to DJ Woody for the creativity and labor of love... imagine how much time and effort went into this mix!? Update: Video is dead, you'll have to enjoy the audio version of DJ Woody's Big Phat 90's Mixtape instead...

February 10, 2014

DJ Finesse "J Dilla Live Tribute Mix" (Feb 7, 2014)

"On Friday February 7, 2014 - as Dj Premier was in Detroit performing at Dilla Day - I was filling in for Premier on his Sirius/Xm radio show, "Live From Headqcourterz." Being that it was what would have been J-Dilla's 40th birthday, I did an all Dilla set in my second hour honoring the late great Producer/MC/DJ James "J Dilla" Yancey, who died in 2006 at the young age of 32 from cardiac arrest after a long battle with a rare blood disease... He was one of the music industry's most influential and respected hip-hop artists." Rest In Peace, James Yancey aka J Dilla. Listen below...

February 09, 2014

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1988" (Mix, 2010)

This mix in the Classic Material series pays tribute to the hip hop of 1988, a year which many consider the 'golden year' of the late 80s. As samplers took over from drum machines as the producer's tool of choice, the James Brown drum sound ruled supreme and lyrical subject matter explored new territory. With seminal (and at the time controversial) album releases from the likes of Public Enemy and NWA, this was a year that changed hip hop forever. It features classic and some lesser known cuts from singles and albums released in '88. Keep celebrating hip-hop, listen below...

February 08, 2014

The Fugees Interview (Hip-Hop Connection, 1994)

"The Fugees are an unusual phenomenon in rap... The reality is the Fugees don't smoke doobies, in fact they're quite proud to proclaim that they are happily drug-free... "The album's called Blunted On Reality, but to see what's going on around you in a blunted mindset you don't necessarily need to smoke blunts. The music, our music, can put you in that frame of mind," says Wyclef Jean, one third of the four-year old rap ensemble... Signed to Ruffhouse, the Fugees are all New York based and, while harboring ideas of rap stardom, two of the group are attending university. Lauryn at Columbia, studying journalism, and third member Pras at Rutgers, though he quickly points out he's currently on hiatus. The name Fugees is derived from the fact that Wyclef and Pras are both Haitians. Their aim is to educate Americans about the complex culture of their land of origin, and show that Haitians aren't just those 'boat people' or 'refugees,' we always seem to be bombarded with by the media. Together with Lauryn (who, incidentally can be seen in Sister Act 2), they have produced an intelligent mix of hip-hop philosophy, with ruffneck, ragga and funky undertones."

"Our music is a paradoxical thing. We blend soft and hardcore elements into our music. A bit like making a salad, where you add lots of different bits to produce a unique flavor. What we end up with is an ever changing sound that is universal," says Pras, as he tries to snatch a yo-yo from Clef's constantly bobbing hand. "If people want to call us alternative, that's fine. All I know is we rock at our shows, and that's all that matters." The Fugees are, like Digable Planets, part of that new breed of rap act, where the female emcees are just as prominent as the male rappers, where the sisters are allowed to let rip on equal footing as the boys and command utmost respect. "I met Pras at school and he hooked me up with Clef. I was singing when they met me, and even though they were doing rap and I wasn't really rocking like I could, I joined them. I was into soul, jazz and hip-hop. I really came into my own lyrically and vocally," explains Lauryn. "There's no gender rivalry within this group. Either I rock with the kids or I don't!" - Hip-Hop Connection, 1994 (more below).

February 07, 2014

J57 "Wax Aesthetic" (EP Stream)

The "Wax Aesthetic" EP is the latest offering from my Fat Beats brother J57. The producer/MC flexes both talents on the project, but does have features from Andrew Thomas, Denmark Vessey, Tenacity, Virtue, Mike Maven, Akie Bermiss, Katiah, Co$$, Johaz, and Choosey, as well as production from Exile, PJ Katz, Wally Sean and DeeJay Element. As I've said before, I've done the blog thing for a lot of years, but since this is a relatively new (1 month?) platform to speak from, I look forward to sharing lots of stories and artifacts from the Fat Beats days. J57 plays an integral role in all of them! lol. Look out for more on that, and in the meantime, enjoy his "Wax Aesthetic" EP below...

February 06, 2014

Dr. Dre "The Chronic" (The Source, February 1993)

"If Hollywood continues to make movies like Scarface, Goodfellas, and King of New York, what makes you think gangsta rap will stop? More than just filling a void, NWA - the most successful real rap group of all time - unleashed the production wizardry of Dr. Dre, the man who put the funk in that gangsta shit like no one else. Now with NWA broken up and everyone doing the solo thing, each ex-member faces the test of standing on his own. After hearing The Chronic, it is obvious who was the key ingredient to that platinum sound. On his own, Dre proves that innovative production skills and solid arrangements will take him the distance once again. Following the hype behind one of his hardest tracks ever, "Deep Cover," Dre has unloaded all over this album with the same furified intensity. Cuts like "Nuttin But a G Thang" and "Bitches Ain't Shit" pack enough bottom to blow the frame out a Pathfinder, while the live keyboards coat the high ends with funky melodies. The result is that patented smooth gangsta groove combined with the flavor of the classic funkateers; an original flavor ... that rises well above a re-tread of gangsta cliches or over-used samples."

"Snoop Doggy Dogg has no trouble carrying most of the weight behind the mic, and his Slick Rick-esque style - complete with creative boasts and slinging - carves new ground for West Coast MCs. His presence is laid-back and ruff at the same time, but even when he's "chin-checking," he doesn't sound anything like the typical gangsta. Dre exchanges rhymes with Snoop like he used to with Ren, and you get the feeling they're in perfect sync. Plus, Dre has enlisted a whole crew of new MCs to catch wreck, including Korrupt, Dat N!gga Daz, RBX, and a powerful new female MC named Rage. All five of them come together for one of the hardest cuts on the LP, "Stranded On Death Row." Whether it's gangs of brothers, big booties, or Blunts of the chronic indo, smoking is the preferred topic on this record. It's all about the "g" thang, what Dre describes as the "difference between gang and gangster." No shorts are taken with any beef the Death Row crew has with other artists... Overall, an innovative and progressive hip-hop package that must not be missed." - The Source, 2/93

February 05, 2014

Gang Starr "Daily Operation" (The Source, 1992)

Before we even start, let me say this: if you do not have Gang Starr's last album, Step In The Arena, go out and buy it now and then finish reading this. On Daily Operation, DJ Premier and the Guru once again come through with smooth lyrics, fat tracks and funky beats. Even though the album uses a lot of jazz riffs, horns, and string loops, they're hooked up in such a way that when you hear it you don't really think about jazz. It just sounds like funky hip-hop. Overall the album's production is dope, kinda like a mellowed-out Pete Rock. And of course the suave delivery of Guru swings as well. DJ Premier is a master of his craft. On "Ex Girl To The Next Girl," he uses the same "because girls look so good..." KRS sample that Lawnge uses on Chi-Ali's "Age Ain't Nothin' But A #," but since he transforms it real quick, the hook overall has a much better feel to it. The Guru's boys, Little Dap and Jeru, jump on the mic with him and get busy on "I'm The Man," the album's posse cut. It's just one song, but there is a different track for each MC, so they all come off with different styles to match their individual tracks. (Who said a Gang Starr album was boring?). Cont'd below...

"Soliloquy of Chaos" uses a strange, high-pitched sound that catches your attention and makes you listen to what the Guru has to say about the ill behavior and violence at some rap concerts. That's just one of the many subjects he hits on this album. On "The Place Where We Dwell," we learn about Brooklyn from both a positive and a negative aspect. While it is the home of cultural awareness, if you "come to Brooklyn frontin'... you'll get mushed quick!" "Conspiracy" warns Black people to watch out for the plot by certain others to rid us from the face of the Earth, and "The Illest Brother" is a song about this kid trying to get all the juice. Actually, they made the song for the Juice soundtrack, but due to some legal nonsense, they never got on." In the end, The Source gave the album a modest 3.5-mic review, but this album was everything to me in '92, and the group's impact was heavy. Revisit it below; it's a classic! The full review in The Source (6/92) is available below...

February 04, 2014

M.O.P. "How About Some Hardcore?" (The Source, 2/94)

M.O.P. To The Death Advertisement 1994

"About a year a go 4th & B'way put out a compilation titled The Hill That's Real, some of the group's featured had flavor but the project went no where. One bright spot was an MC named Little Fame. Now coupled with his partner Billy Danzenie, Fame is about to give you a formal introduction to talent. "How About Some Hardcore?" already has the buzz in NY. We're talkin' about a "Who Got the Props / Protect Ya Neck" vibe. And after one listen you'll see why. Trust us, go out and invest in the wax because Fame and Bill rap like they don't give a fuck. Not senseless nihilism, mind you, but with out restraint. Youthful energy at its best. The beat is full of bass and horns but not like most NYC tracks. It definitely stands out and makes you ask, "Who dat?" Producer Darrel D has the butter and the rhyme delivery is what you wish more people would do." If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Redman and Kool G Rap had formed a group or if Run DMC had started in the 90s, this is it. The rhymes come rapid-fire: "But of course I drop n!ggas like drawers / N!ggas'll hit the floors from the mutherf#ckin' fo-fours" ... It's almost like they're trying to out do each other on each verse. But in '94 that what you be trying to do. You've got to treat each record like it's your last." - The Source (2/94). Peep the visuals to M.O.P.'s "How About Some Hardcore" below...

A copy of the original review in The Source (2/94) is below...

February 03, 2014

Phoniks "Autumn In New York" (Album Stream)

Don't Sleep Records presents Portland beatsmith Phoniks' latest release in his remix series, "Autumn in New York." Labeled as jazz remixes of New York underground Hip-Hop, it remixes tracks from Ak Skills, Lord Finesse, Mos Def, Biggie & Meth, Mic Geronimo, Street Smartz, Artifacts, Fugees, Big Pun w/ Nas, Fat Joe, Rae & Jada for a total of 9 tracks. A lot of the earlier material pre-dates when I was able to cover posts on this site, but I've been tuned in from the start, so either I'll post as some throwbacks or you will have to dig for yourself! Either way, keep an eye out, hit the tags & stream this project below. All the music is a vibe, catch it. (Updated, 2019) Physicals available!

February 02, 2014

The Absouljah "Dim The Light" (Album Stream)

"Music is often a reflection of life, so “Dim the Light” is no different. In today’s world, we often have to embrace brutal conditions; meanwhile, assuming the worst has come. How could we know if the worst has already come and gone? It is uneasy to tell. Therefore, the light is dim. While not completely dark, still recognizable that the light isn’t as bright as it once was. “Dim the Light” is a representation of struggle, hopes, and dreams. The Absouljah hails from the gritty paradigm known as Far Rockaway in the borough where kings are born, Queens, New York. When it comes to the essence of hip hop, people who are familiar with Absouljah’s music know that he is a reflection of not only the movement but also the culture. The Absouljah is more than music. He is the voice for those who struggle and face oppressions and injustices daily. The Absouljah is gearing up to provide more authenticity and lyricism to hip hop." Stream ‘Dim the Light’ below and expect many more projects to come from The Absouljah. Props to Bob Lipitch over at Chopped Herring Records.

February 01, 2014

Nas "It Ain't Hard To Tell" (The Source, 2/94)

Nasty Nas, who has yet to put out an album of his own, only seems to get better with age. He gave you a lyrical chin check a few years ago with his performance on "Live At The B.B.Q.," and last year he had you standing with your mouth open with "Halftime." Now, he has some '94 flavor snatched off his upcoming LP, and guess what? Its dope. Nas is one of those brothers who never puts out anything wack. Combine a little radio-friendly "Human Nature" with the boom-bap of the streets and what do you get? The next Nasty Nas street delight. It ain't hard to tell that Nas is one of the dopest kids to ever touch the mic. His congested delivery and rapid pacing makes his complex rhymes sound easy, until you try to follow him word for word. He's like a drum, the rhymes keep going and going; they don't build up to a punchline then diminish, every word surpasses the last. There are no throwaway rhymes. When Nas hits the pinnacle he doesn't pause to admire his work, he keeps going: "My mic check is life or death / Breathin' in a sniper's breath / Sparkle like a diamond / Sneak a Uzi on an island in my army jacket linin' / Hit the earth like a comet / Invasion / Nas is like the Afro-centric Asian / Half-man half-amazin' ..." The track might be commercial but the vocal is so raw that you don't even think about crossover. Which just proves the point that a real MC can turn even the most pop-friendly track into a hardcore anthem." - The Source's Sure Shot Single, 2/94. Check out the video for "It Ain't Hard To Tell" below, one of my favorites off Illmatic...

Original review of "It Ain't Hard To Tell" in The Source (2/94)...