July 31, 2014

Cormega x NPR "Microphone Check"

20 years ago, Nas mentioned his friend Cormega on a song called "One Love," which was composed as a letter to someone in prison: "Night time is more trife than ever / What up with Cormega? Did you see him? Are y'all together? / If so then hold the fort down, represent to the fullest / Say what's up to Herb, Ice and Bullet." Those four bars inked Cormega's street credibility and forever tied him, for better and worse, to the crown prince of hip-hop. He spoke to M.C.'s cohosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley about the career and life he's made beyond them.

July 30, 2014

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 1" (Mixtape)

Debonair P is a Melbourne-based DJ, producer, engineer and label owner (Gentleman's Relief Records). He put together a nice blend of underground hip-hop tracks from the 90s, cycling through dozens of tracks in an a little over 60 minutes. You'll hear joints from Royal Flush, Casual, Rakim, INI, Keith Murray, Pace Won, Wee Bee Foolish, Prince Po, Oddisee, Smif-N-Wessun, Mad Skillz, Artifacts, Ras Kass, O.C., Chocolair, Mic Geronimo, The Last Emperor, Tha Alkaholiks, Sauce Money, Main Source & so much more. If you dig independent, underground hip-hop, listen to it below...

July 29, 2014

ILLusionist "The Uplift" (EP Stream)

ILLusionist is a beatmaker from Romania. He released "The Uplift" EP at the end of last year, featuring Nieve, DJ Nasa, Awon, The 49ers, windchiLL, Tiff The Gift, & more. The production is solid and the features don't overshadow it, they are a nice complement to the entire feel of the project. I'm looking forward to more releases from ILLusionists, for now dig into this latest EP below.

July 28, 2014

Common "Nobody's Smiling" (Album Stream)

"With Common's hometown of Chicago reeling from rampant gun violence, his 10th studio album, Nobody's Smiling, is a meditation on that crisis. Produced by longtime collaborator No I.D., the album features big names like Big Sean and Jhene Aiko alongside Chicago fixtures such as Lil Herb and Dreezy. It takes its cues from both '90s boom-bap and the darker sound of Kanye West's Yeezus. Common weaves his own experiences and memories growing up in the Windy City into those of the tracks' narrators, creating an impressionistic tableau: "These streets is my religion," he raps on the standout "Kingdom," which has a gospel choir that evokes that of "Jesus Walks." The abrasive beats of "Blak Majik" and "Hustle Harder" are some of Common's hardest-hitting in years; they jibe perfectly with the heated, mournful tone of his lyrics." Listen to Common's Nobody's Smiling below...

July 27, 2014

Ill Al Skratch "Where My Homiez?" (The Source, 7/94)

"The one-love "groove of the moment" has to be Barry White's "Playing Your Game Baby," a thick molasses of high chords and moving bass that churns along with absolute ease ... along comes Ill and his man Al, taking the loop to a whole new level. Ironically, Ill (also known as Big Ill The Mack) made his first mark with a vicious freestyle on a heavily-bootlegged tape that actually dissed Kane at his own party! Then, last September, Ill won the monthly unsigned hype column in The Source with a fat-ass demo. It was around this time that Ill met up with Al Skratch through a mutual friend, producer LG. Joining forces and combining rhyme flows, the duo have created one of the hottest new singles on the streets. Freaking the Barry White loop into a slightly hazier, head-nodding sound, Al and Ill alternate styles and flip shit lovely. The subject matter of the song applies to any neighborhood in any city - it's about hangin' with your friends and kicking the real. Al boasts a more sing-songy, lazy style, even when he's speaking on hardcore shit: "From the fiery pits of hell it's the rap rebel / Ten years underground sub-level with the devil." And Ill chimes in with the articulate assault style, ripping the mic with syllables: "Like an OG but not from Cali / Brooklyn residency / Hesitant G / That's what you better be." The real appeal of the cut is the sung vocal hooks - "Come around my way!" and "Where my homies!?" - addictive in their simplicity and perfectly matched with the swaying track. Reportedly, these were created by Al while drunk, which explains why they resemble the harmless, slightly-off-key croonings of the local wino. Regardless, the familiar track and easy-to-get-with lyrics combine to put this cut in contention for the feel-good neighborhood song of the summer." - One of The Source's Sure Shot Singles in July, 1994. Peep the video below.

July 26, 2014

Frank The Butcher & DJ 7L "Bad Boy: Original Samples" (Mix)

An original samples mix from Frank The Butcher & DJ 7L; it's called the Bad Boy Original Samples Mix. It's just that - original samples used in tracks that built the backbone of the Bad Boy Records catalog in the 90s. It features classics records from Love Unlimited Orchestra, Mtume, Herbie Hancock, Grace Jones, David Axelrod, Al Green, Johnny Smith, David Porter & lots more. Another classic mix, dig into it on this Sunday morning and remember back to when Bad Boy controlled the music industry. Rest in Peace, The Notorious B.I.G., we miss you BIG. Listen to the mix below...

July 25, 2014

Kanye West At Fat Beats, August 1996 (Video)

"The original location of Fat Beats launched on July 14, 1994 which means FB just turned 20 years old! Business was doing so well 2 years in that Joseph Abajian decided to move the store from it's small 9th St. basement space into a 2nd floor location on 6th Avenue. August 1996 (day?) was the grand opening of the 406 6th Avenue location. It was also the beginnings of our independent movement which had recently started bubbling about a year before. Yesterday I started converting old Hi8 video tapes to DVD and came across some interesting footage from that day. Now we had a lot of the usual suspects in the place that day such as ILL BILL, Arsonists, Lord Finesse, Adagio, Breeze Brewin, A.L. Skills, Percee P, J-Live, Mr. Live, Chino XL, Al Tariq, Black Attack, Xzibit, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Rawcotiks, Ak Skills, Rob Swift, Roc Raida, DJ Spinna and many, many more. But what took me by surprise was the appearance of this 19 year old kid who at that time nobody knew. Now I've had this person as a guest on my radio show years later, but it's pretty crazy to see this footage in '96 and think "damn, this dude was in my house then?" and not even know. More to come...." - DJ Eclipse // You don't see much Kanye on this site, but watch him flip it back in '96.

July 24, 2014

Erick Sermon "Hittin' Switches" (The Source, 5/93)

"Out of the smoke, rubble and rumors surrounding the breakup of EPMD the one and only E Double resurfaces with a solo act snatched off of the upcoming "Who's The Man" soundtrack. And even though he must carry the weight of the track alone, the funky beats and rhymes displayed prove once and for all that he is still able to take care of business. Going for delf, he hits the switches with a rugged bass crawl. And when he drops his casual and unorthodox rhymes the picture is complete. I gets busy, who the hell is he? / The roughneck from New York City / You wanna mess around with the ill bastard / Then get your ass kicked, messin with the click Def Squad, now on location, with the funky sensation / You wanna step you must be freebasin / Punk, why you playin, you bored? / You can't afford, to get choked by the mic cord..." Things may be different but you'd best believe that the green-eyed bandit is still rollin' hard like a criminal." - The Source, 5/93 Check out the visuals to Erick Sermon's "Hittin Switches" off his underrated LP, No Pressure, below... 

You can save a copy of Hittin' Switches' review in The Source below...

July 24, 2014

Cormega "Mega Philosophy" (Album Stream)

Cormega is back with his first new album since 2009's Born And Raised. Mega Philosophy is entirely produced by Large Professor. This album is positively inspiring, conscious and incredibly deep. Large Professor’s tracks hit hard with his authentic “Boom Bap” sound creating an audio landscape for Cormega's lyrical wisdom. The album features heavyweights such as Black Rob, Nature, AZ, Redman, Styles P, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan and more. In the years in-between releasing this new album Mega’s viewpoint has been further honed by being involved in efforts for political and social change. Some of these events include being active in the protest of Trayvon Martin’s murder, going to Haiti to help with the earthquake relief efforts and a life-changing trip to Africa for Uganda Empowers. As Mega states with this new album, “Hip-Hop used to be journalistic; people spoke on what they saw and what they felt. So much has happened in the last few years, but a lot of artists aren’t talking about anything. I’m fighting for our culture.” Listen to Mega Philosophy below... (Updated). 

July 23, 2014

DJ Jazzy Jeff x Mick Boogie "Summertime Vol.5" (The Mixtape)

Ok! Now that we've gotten caught up on Volumes 1-4 in the classic Summertime mixtape series by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie, let's get into Volume 5! This year's summer soundtrack includes tracks from Biz Markie, Alicia Keys, Missy, Usher, Jay-Z, Herbie Hancock, Super Cat, The Beatnuts, De La Soul & Common, Naughty By Nature, Da Brat, EPMD, SWV & Michael Jackson, Diamond D, Kwame, Raphael Saadiq & Q-Tip, Snoop, Zhane, Salt-N-Pepa, Ill Al Skratch, Digital Underground, Bel Biv Devoe, Funkadelic, Kurtis Blow, The Roots, and more - expertly mixed, as always! Listen below...

July 22, 2014

Pete Rock & CL Smooth "The Main Ingredient" (The Source, 1995)

"After Mr. Magic's bitter departure from New York's WBLS-FM (early winter 1984), Marley Marl hosted "In Control," a weekend radio show that introduced listeners to a young man by the name of Pete Rock. A.K.A. "The Chocolate Boy Wonder," Pete was put in the role of wax-spinner by his cousin Heavy D. In 1991, he got his partner CL Smooth and dropped the underground EP All Souled Out, paving the way for their critically-acclaimed landmark Mecca And The Soul Brother. What's most surprising about The Main Ingredient is that Pete leaps into supervising the sound quality and overseeing the technical and engineering aspects - something most East Coast hip-hop producers overlook. By refusing to focus mainly on beats, he insures that the album's sounds are crystal-clear. In addition, CL incorporates melodic edges into his delivery." Revisit another classic album below...

"Not one to miss out, Pete also does his thing, filling choruses with soul-styled crooning ("Hey, hey, hey, hey") and throwing venomous disses to the competition ("Escape"). Blaxploitation intros underline the album's themes, and funky musical interludes (spotlighting secret beats) make sure that heads continue nodding. With other strong songs like "Physical" (a lyrical slugfest), "The Sun Won't Come Out," Pete's posse cut "In The Flesh" and "I Got a Love" (the album's first single), The Main Ingredient is worth its weight in gold. It wouldn't hurt to "Check It Out" as The Main Ingredient serves up some of the best that hip-hop has to offer." - The Source, 1/95 (Updated).

July 21, 2014

Cam'ron "Confessions Of Fire" (Vibe, 9/98)

"Not since the '20s has a group of artists laid such artistic claim to the area known as Harlem, U.S.A. The current influx of MCs hailing from the historic uptown neighborhood is crazy. From Big L to tha kid formerly known as Murder Mase, Harlem has quietly become hip hop's (momentarily) proverbial Place To Be. At the helm of this Harlem renaissance is Untertainment's golden boy, Cam'ron. Though far from a casual stroll down 125th Street, Killer Cam's debut, Confessions of Fire, might be dismissed at first glance as yet another ball-by-day, flow-by-night project. However, if you pass up the brief checklist of Willie editorial, Cam's freshman effort convinces you otherwise. "Hey, yo, I just wanna walk wit' y'all / I don't wanna rhyme / I just need to talk wit' y'all / How you feel about me? / Yo, I think I'm pretty hot / When I rhyme, brothas grab they d#ck and diddy bop." This is what Cam casually claims on "Glory." While fellow Harlemite Mase radiates rap materialism, Cam's glamor stems from his ability to lend charismatic quaintness to his clever verbals..." (Click play, and keep reading...)

"Tracks such as "Death" (which finds Cam arguing for his life against his longtime nemesis) and the humorously deranged "Confessions" (where he admits to one too many sins) display Cam's infectious, conversational flow. "Wrong Ones" brings to life a charming story of O.P.P. Other stand-outs include "D Rugs," a tale in which Cam details the destructive effects of drugs, which are personified by his mom's abusive boyfriend. Memorable contributions from Usher, Mase, and Noreaga round out Confessions of Fire, and aside from the few uninventive formulaic plays ("Rockin' and Rollin," "Me, My Moms & Jimmy"), Cam's debut is captivating throughout. Candid, thematically diverse, and entertaining, Cam'ron proves that it is indeed his Harlem World." - Vibe Magazine, September 1998.

July 20, 2014

King Just "Warrior's Drum" (The Source, July '94)

"Catching wreck from the underground up is the essential hip-hop way. When you get fed-up with the industry web, go to an independent label and hit the street level. When both method and music are on point, and your shit takes off, then suddenly everybody's on the wood, you're getting commercial radio play, moving product and catchin' the last laugh. 'Case in point: King Just's "Warrior Drum." From the blasts of the trumpet hook to the stomping bass loop, the RNS track defies gravity as it bounces and motivates. The hyperactive beat is matched by equally uptempo lyrics to create a party track with widespread appeal. King Just's flow dips like a roller coaster with animation and attitude galore. The concept is basic bravado but there's nothing simple about "Look who's back / It's the Hellraiser / Raisin' Hell / And I've been rockin' rhymes / Since n!ggas been rockin' Gazelles / My slang can bang / So I guess I be the man / You couldn't hang with my style if you invented the Ku Klax Klan" ... Most people know nothing about King Just besides the fact that he's another product of hip-hop's latest boomtown, Staten Island. But don't sweat that, 'cause all you need to know is that "Warrior's Drum" has hip-hoppers from Houston to Harlem chanting Just's chorus like a gang of Sioux Indians: "Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Hey Ya, Ho!" - The Source, July 1994

If you'd prefer to save a copy and read it later, the full review is available below.

July 19, 2014

Stretch & Bobbito "The B-Side #2: DJ Premier & Jeru" (1996)

Bobbito has said, "The B-side show, if I remember correctly, only happened these three times. It was sort of an experiment to get me and Stretch on more prime time, during Angie's weekday evening slot. It went over well with everyone. It was kind of like a showcase of anticipated albums from artists who were known from our corner of the world. I think that'd be like 8pm to 9pm? I don't really remember (the time slot). Our Sunday, 'Boogie and the Barber', show on Hot 97 was from 11pm to 1am." This - right here - is the second show, with DJ Premier and Jeru The Damaja as guests, promoting their second collaborative album, "Wrath of Math," in 1996 on Payday Records.

July 18, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Chuck D & Keith Shocklee Episode"

This latest episode is arguably the most impressive to date, I'll let Combat Jack tell it: "Internets, this is such an honor! It's been a few years of me trying to get the legendary Chuck D on The Combat Jack Show. It took current events, plus the Freddie Foxxx episode to make this happen (thank you Bumpy!). How do I even describe this 3 hour long discussion with Chuck D & Keith Shocklee? Def Jam, Hot 97, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, 2Pac, Marley Marl, Flavor Flav, Eric B and Rakim, Run-DMC, the Bomb Squad, and the dearth of diversity on rap radio... so much knowledge." Listen below...

July 17, 2014

Black Sheep "Flavor Of The Month" (The Source, 7/91)

"Along with DJ and incredibly talented Mista Lawnge, Dres busts out with fat rhymes on tracks. The Black Sheep should literally be viewed as the black sheep of the family - the Native Tongue family that is is (consisting of De La, Quest, The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, etc). You won't find any dreadlocks here. The Black Sheep have more of a street approach combined with an image that makes them look like a pair of GQ cover boys ... "Flavor Of The Month" has a catchy mid-tempo beat (with a vicious kick) and an eerie bassline acceded by quick guitar samples, while the chorus hooks the ear with funky horns. The Black Sheep's multi-layered tracks are unique and progressive yet they definitely have the underground feel. Mista Lawnge's production abilities and Dres' smoothness-personified rhyme style make the Black Sheep something to keep an eye on in '91." - The Source, 7/91. Watch the visuals to "Flavor Of The Month" off A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing below...

You can save a copy of the original review in The Source (7/91) below...

July 16, 2014

Toine "Antoine Jameson" (Album Stream)

"Antoine Jameson" is the solo release from Toine of DTMD (Dunc & Toine Makin' Dollas). The 12-track set features production from Slimkat78, Dunc, Drew Dave, 00genesis, Dirty Church, and among others, a nice feature from Kenn Starr. As a group, the Maryland duo DTMD released their debut album "Makin' Dollas" on Mello Music Group in 2011 and self-released a quick EP earlier this year called "3 & Out." For his solo release, Toine represents the MC side of the group and with that, the heart of this album is the lyrics and blue collar mentality of Toine... An every day MC sharing his frustrations with his place in life, the industry and the commas in his bank account. A quick glimpse at the artwork tells you this is a project you can relate to and appreciate. Dig into it below...

July 16, 2014

Fat Joe "This Shit Is Real" (DJ Premier Remix, 1994)

Represent was the debut studio album from Fat Joe, then known as Fat Joe da Gangsta. The first two singles to promote the album were "Flow Joe," produced by Diamond D, then "Watch The Sound," also produced by Diamond D, who features on the record alongside Grand Puba. The third single was "The Shit Is Real," originally produced by The Beatnuts and later remixed by DJ Premier. The famous remix would push Fat Joe to new heights in his career and land on his classic sophomore album, "Jealous One's Envy," in 1995. For an interview with Complex, Fat Joe recalls, “He (DJ Premier) threw me for a loop because when I was like, ‘I want you to do the remix for this,’ the beat was slow. It didn’t sound like a Premo beat. If you heard it, you would be like, ‘Yo, Premo ain’t do this.’ I remember we were all sitting in front of the projects, and I played it loud, and by the second or third time I heard it, I was like, ‘This shit is crazy!’ So I got excited ... We shot the video for that version and all that. That shit was hard. It’s probably the hardest record I ever did in my whole career. And the whole shit was real. That was the whole point. I shot the video in my neighborhood, in my building, and in my projects. All over the hood. I always represented." Watch the video below.

July 15, 2014

DJ Superix "Dreams Of 1992" (Mix)

At the time this mix was originally released, the 2012 Summer Olympics were being held in London, UK. In tribute, DJ Superix rewound to one of his favorite times in both Olympic and musical history with his ‘Dreams Of 1992’ mix. "As you can see, the cover pretty much explains all you need to know about the incredible music that soundtracked the year that The Dream Team went to Barcelona – now 20+ years ago. From Mary J. Blige to Naughty By Nature to Gang Starr to Michael Jackson to Jodeci to Pete Rock & CL Smooth and the rest, this was the Hip-Hop and R&B Dream Team of the age, and these are just some of the tracks that defined 1992, a truly amazing year in music! This mix is 100% jams from front to back." Artwork this creative, you know you wanna hear this mix!

July 14, 2014

Fat Beats "What Is Fat Beats (A Brief History)" (Video, 2008)

Fat Beats was established in 1994. The clip below is a brief history of Fat Beats - it includes select in-stores, television appearances and live shows. Without hesitation, I can tell you that nothing I've accomplished in the music industry would've been possible without Fat Beats. As a customer, it was an amazing place to shop and chop it up with like-minded folks, but when I started working there, that's when it opened up doors to so many other things and introduced me to some of the best friends I've ever had in life. Fat Beats was the meeting place; the bridge to connect to me to so much more. I mean, I've been around the world; released several projects; met some of my heroes, and been inspired beyond my limits. Watching the video below just brings all those memories back to me. I hope you have some of your own from Fat Beats. Much love and thanks to DJ Eclipse, DJ Jab, DJ Boo, BBAS, Arsonists, Juggaknots, Eternia, and too many others to name, but I appreciate, too.

July 13, 2014

The Source "The Best Hip-Hop Albums of 1995"

Let's do it again ... using The Source's system as a base, I'll go row for row and narrow it down to my favorite album of the year. Row 1: these are all phenomenal albums so I feel okay no matter what I pick but if I had to do a scenario where I pick one and all the others don't exist, I'd pick "Tical" because without the album version, the remixes of "All I Need" probably don't exist and that's one of the best songs of all-time. Otherwise, I go with "Dah Shinin" because I still love listening to it from start to finish, it puts me in a New York vibe, lol. Row 2: I easily rock with 2Pac's "Me Against The World," which I consider to be Pac's greatest and most personal album. R.I.P. Tupac Shakur. Row 3: Hands down, "The Infamous" by Mobb Deep. Quite possibly the greatest comeback album of all-time. Two of the greatest back-to-back singles too with "Shook Ones" and "Survival of the Fittest."

Row 3: I was never solo-KRS's most vocal supporter; something about his solo work never struck a chord with me, but I did love his self-titled album. That said, it doesn't stand a chance against Raekwon's solo debut "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx." GZA's "Liquid Swords" was released in November, which is past the cut-off date to make this list or we'd have a tough argument right now, lol. Row 5: The Show soundtrack is incredible, but I don't count that. Between "Jealous One's Envy" and "4,5.6," I am rocking with Fat Joe, and I'm STILL salty I picked the Das Efx album over J.O.E the first time I saw it in the record store, lol. Save that for another day. In the end, it comes down to "OB4CL" and "The Infamous." Depending on the day of the week, my choice might change, but today I am going with ... The PURPLE TAPE, that's like having your # retired & what's more Infamous than that? lol

July 12, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Pete Rock Episode"

"From Run-DMC to Kanye West, Soul Brother No. 1 been the go to guy to to make classic material. On top of that, how many countless producers he inspired, from legends like J Dilla and Kanye West to innovators like Madlib? #NeverForget the rap giants he helped birth, like NaS, and the Notorious B.I.G. Pete talks being raised by mentor/family member, the late, great Heavy D, and being encouraged to rap by Grand Puba, the true soul that went into producing "They Reminisce Over You", and the uncredited classic hits you know but didn't know was a Pete Rock production. Another session of Rap History is in effect, pull up a seat and learn about your culture." Listen to it below...

July 11, 2014

A Tribe Called Quest "Bonita Appleum" (Review, 1990)

"Bonita Applebum" is the second single from A Tribe Called Quest's debut album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. "The original version of "Bonita," already an incredible song, has been greatly enhanced by the "Hootie Mix." In trying to improve the original they had their work cut out for them. Did they suceed? - most definitely. Using the Isley Brothers early 80's classic "Between The Sheets" as a foundation, The Tribe easily proves to the world that the LP was not a fluke and there is plenty more where that came from. All new lyrics from the smooth flowing Q-Tip and an all new groove make this single a welcome addition to an already classic album." Interestingly enough, the "Hootie Mix" is playing during the drive-in movie theatre scene in Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson & Q-Tip ... just before Tip get his head blown off. Listen to the Hootie Mix below...

The 12" also included the LP version, as well as the song called "Mr. Muhammad." Whether you feel the original version of "Bonita Applebum" or the "Hootie Mix" more is entirely subjective. I'd consider the original to be a classic and the remix as a bonus, realizing it had different lyrics that you probably don't recall enough to recite. It's like hearing the sample to a song you're already familiar with, "oh THAT's where that came from?" lol. To that end, years later DJ Mighty Mi would sample A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum" for a remix to Ghostface Killah's crossover hit, "All That I Got Is You." That cycle of creation is what makes sampling so incredible. Right? Wrong?

July 10, 2014

Your Old Droog "Your Old Droog" (EP Stream)

I tend to be far removed from social media and what's "buzzing," but even I caught wind of people chattering about this mysterious rapper by the name of Your Old Droog, who people speculated could actually be Nas, recording under a different name (for label reasons). Yet, no one aside from the homie DJ Skizz knew the artist the internet was talking about, lol. Now that the rumors have been debunked by all major news outlets and people with common sense, there's the question of what will Your Old Droog do with the rock now that he's go it? When it comes down to the music, any comparison to Nas means you've done a lot of things right, so no one can deny the talent here. It's a matter of next steps and how he carries the comparisons. I'm eager to see! In the meantime, you can stream the EP below and form your own opinion on the music. I dig the EP, check it out... 

July 09, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Common Episode"

Back with another one, I'll let Combat Jack tell it: "90 minutes wasn't enough time. On the eve of releasing his tenth album 'Nobody's Smiling', Common revisits his days growing up in Chicago, being inspired by Michael Jordan, house music, Chicago mayor Harold Washington, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and how this album addresses the current plight of black on black crime in the windy city. Also, what it means to reunite with No I.D., being haunted by the ghost of Emmett Til and the very real and deep mystical powers of the phenomena known as "Badu Box". So much wasn't covered, but you won't hear this type of Common interview anywhere else on the planet." Hear the interview below...

July 08, 2014

Pete Rock x NPR "Microphone Check"

The renowned producer attributes his creativity to another legend: "I was musically charged, man. I had some adrenaline going on then. I'm serious, ever since I — I think after I met James Brown as a kid. I was seven years old," says Pete Rock. "I wasn't the same since." The man who made "T.R.O.Y." and "The World Is Yours" spoke with Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley about shaking the hand of the Godfather of Soul and attending his funeral, crawling through a dog door to practice on Heavy D's equipment, the effects of 9/11 on music, as well as J Dilla ... "I'm like, 'Yo, this guy's gonna have me out of a job." Listen below for the full interview with Pete Rock.

July 07, 2014

Royce Da 5'9 "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (September, 2001)

"In a smoky Detroit club, Wu-Tang's Cappadonna performs with a crew of about 15 hype men. But in the audience, Royce Da 5'9" is holding his own court, surrounded by friends downing Bacardi Limon shots and talking shit. Minutes later, a fight erupts out front, and one of Royce's boys tries to knock the chin off a rival crew member. Looking over his merry men, Royce remarks, "Loyalty is my downfall," and reluctantly moves towards the fray. Fortunately, the scuffle ebbs, and Royce leaves for his car, relieved. Ryan "Royce" Montgomery is not a thug. He was raised in the middle-class Detroit suburb of Oak Park, in a two-parent home at that. Although the 24-year old gave into violence and petty thuggery as a teen, most of that ceased when he had his own son, Royce, three years ago. As an amateur MC battling at open mikes in 1998, Royce decided to take rapping seriously in  order to support his new family. "It was like, I really gotta do this shit now," he says, "I can't just stop and decide I want to go to college or something." Peep "Rock City," cont'd below...

"Royce hooked up with a producer and recorded "a zillion songs" that, he says, only got "doors slammed in our faces." His smart, pugilistic flow was getting him nowhere fast, until the fateful night of both his son's birth and his grandmother's death, when an emotionally confused Royce performed at a show where he met a then-obscure Eminem. The two quickly became "like brothers," Royce says. A week later, they recorded the sinister tag-team "Bad Meets Evil," which ended up on Eminem's The Slim Shady LP. As Eminem's star rose, he pulled Royce up with him, even taking him on tour as a hype man. Royce soon signed with indie rap label Game Recordings, which led to a deal with Columbia. His action-packed debut Rock City (with production from DJ Premier and the Neptunes) will feature - who else? - Slim Shady. "I'll do anything for Slim, 'cause he did so much for me," Royce says. Loyalty might not have been worth much at the club, but so far, it's Royce's lucky charm in the music industry." - Vibe 9/01 // Updated, added the Rock City LP, peep "King of Kings"...

July 06, 2014

Eric B. & Rakim "Press Kit" / "Paid In Full" (July, 1987)

"Though Paid In Full, Eric B. and Rakim's debut album on Island is only just now being released, they have been street sensations ever since they first crashed onto the set over a year ago with "Eric B. Is President / My Melody." Powered by some of the funkiest beats since they heyday of James Brown, the rapper Rakim invited teenaged America to "Ch-Ch-Ch-Check out my melody" - an invitation that was accepted with great pleasure ... With summer once again upon us, Eric B. and Rakim have returned with their second single, "I Know You Got Soul," another super-funky item which begins ... "It's been a long time, I shouldna left you / Without a strong rhyme to step to" ... "Think of how many weak shows you slept through / Time's Up! I'm sorry I kept you" ... There is no secret to their success - it's about nothing but talent. Eric B. grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, New York .. he played trumpet and guitar as a youth and then graduated to the turntables when rap first surfaced in the late '70s ... By 1985 Eric was good enough to work as a mobile deejay for WBLS. It was at BLS that Eric met Marley Marl ("Mr. Magic's Rap Attack"), who has remixed "Eric B. Is President" and "My Melody" on Paid In Full." Check them out live at the Apollo in '91, cont'd below...

"Rakim himself was born William Griffin in Brooklyn ... He grew up in Wyandanch, Long Island ... An honor roll student, Rakim was writing rhymes and rhyming from the time he was in seventh grade ... He and Eric met and clicked right away... "We made a promise that our music had to be positive, strong, and different," remembers Rakim. "And I think we've kept our promise." ... "Surely there must have been something about the two of them. "My Melody," the first demo they ever made as a team, was bought by the first company they brought it to - Harlem's Zakia Records, who shortly thereafter licensed it to Island Records. When the record started to break nationally, Rakim was still in his last year of high school. With Paid In Full, Eric. B & Rakim demonstrate conclusively that, in their own words, they ain't no joke. In fact, they're on a mission..." - July, 1987

July 05, 2014

Memory Man "Wu-Tang Clan vs. D.I.T.C." (Mixtape)

Memory Man is a DJ, producer and instrumentalist based in Austin, Texas. This Wu-Tang vs. D.I.T.C. mix pits two of New York's most respected and most influential crews against each other in an all-out blend of war. The focus is on battle rhymes and the groups' golden era era material, but there are a few exceptions. The tracks alternate between Wu-Tang MC's rhyming over D.I.T.C. beats and vice versa. Memory Man crafts this mix in an attempt to illustrate how evenly matched the Wu-Tang and D.I.T.C. really were - and still are to this day. Who you got? Happy 5th Anniversary to this mix.

July 04, 2014

Skratch Bastid "The Entertainer" (Mix)

"Skratch Bastid drops another classic mixtape for your ears, hips and feet. Right on time for your summer road trips, barbecues, and rooftop parties, The Entertainer delivers 50-minutes of classic style mixing with top-of-the-line skills, selection, and turntable expertise. In addition to taking a fine selection of some of the best songs, new and old, to have graced dancefloors around the world, Skratch Bastid also takes on remixing duties - showing off a few private remixes such as: Bob Marley vs. War "Get Up Stand Up + Slippin' Into Darkness (Skratch Bastid Rock Dis Funky Joint Remix)", Busta Rhymes, Lil Wayne & Hudson Mohawke "Look At Hudson Mohawke Now (Skratch Bastid's Thunder Bay Blend)" and Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and Damien Marley "As we Enter The Gravel Pit (Skratch Bastid blend)" among others." Stream The Entertainer below and download the mix HERE.

July 03, 2014

Timeless Truth "Dominican Diner" (EP Stream)

Timeless Truth are two brothers (Oprimie39 & Superbad Solace) from Queens, New York. When you examine the geographical pinpoints of the development of Hip-Hop you come to understand how Queens is a critical incubator for the culture. The music, the art and the style of striving, struggling working class folks, along with a multi-ethnic population of Queens are the factors in creating a group such as Timeless Truth. Their perspectives are grounded in the reality of the hardwork required to make a living in the world's greatest city. "Dominican Diner" is dedicated to everyone who reps their culture unabashedly. To Queens, NYC, ‘Lo heads, vintage gear addicts, graff writers, and hip-hop fans all over the globe. The EP is entirely produced by Fafu and features guest appearances from Eliki and Maffew Ragazino.  Listen to Timeless Truth's Dominican Diner EP below...

July 02, 2014

KMS "Sad Love Song" (12", 1997)

Released by Righteous Elohim Entertainment in 1997, North Carolina's KMS dropped "Sad Love Song" with a feature from Grey Matter and production by Sublime Rhymer. I think it's the better of the two tracks on this 12", but I've heard arguments for the B-Side's "Riot Gear," too. The track kicks off with the vocal sample from Prodigy of Mobb Deep on "Survival Of The Fittest" saying, "They better have the riot gear ready." I haven't heard the compilation, "Bless The Mic With The Gods," not sure if it was ever released? If you know more info, please lemme know. Peep the 12" below...

July 01, 2014

Es "Aspire To Inspire" (Album Stream)

Aspire To Inspire” is my life’s motto. It is also a symbol of my journey… my growth…my progression. This record is a feel good inspirational and motivational collection of songs, intended to uplift anyone who has ever had to overcome adversity or odds stacked against them. It is an honest audio journal of my goals, dreams, successes, joys, failures and words of encouragement to all who can relate to my story…coming from a grown man’s perspective. The ability to inspire others to strive to be better is one of life’s ultimate rewards. Let’s “Aspire To Inspire.” Peace." - Es