Sunday, August 31, 2014

De La Soul "Buhloone Mindstate" (Rolling Stone, 1993)

"Buhloone Mindstate is the third studio album by American Hip Hop group De La Soul, released on September 21, 1993. Buhloone Mindstate, delivered a jazzier palette than their two previous albums and has ended up an unduly underrated gem in not only De La’s catalog, but in the story of ‘90s rap in general. It’s soulful, features biting critiques of other rap music of the time and includes collaborations with jazz greats like Maceo Parker. Buhloone Mindstate is a testament to the lyrical greatness and vocal interplay of Posdnuos, Dave and Maseo and no self-respecting rap fan’s collection is complete without it. "Musically, Buhloone Mindstate raises the stakes; it gets to something rap seldom achieves — a truly gorgeous groove." - Rolling Stone's Paul Evans (Updated)

"...My file is clean, I mean my mind is clear when I transmit
I am the man-ner of the family cuz the pants fit
I want to let forensics prove, that I can mends Groove
Wit the thread from needle outta hay, I wanna say
Salutations to the nation of the Nubians
We bout to place you in that 3 Feet of stew again..."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Canibal Ox Featured in CMJ New Music Monthly (August, 2001)

"For us, it's more than just a passion - it's self-therapy," says MC Vast Aire about the rhymes he writes with Vordul Mega, the other half of Canibal Ox. The new-school hip-hop duo formed at New York's Washington Irving High School around 1992, when the two Harlemites bonded over a shared love of rhymes and visual art: "We were definitely artists and poets when we met," Vast recalls. "We were doing comic books, we were doing graffiti." They freestyled at talent shows and open mics, and eventually found a fan in Company Flow's El-P, who produced their first full-length, The Cold Vein, and released it on his Def Jux imprint. "Your confidence gets up when other musicians you respect wanna do music with you," Vast Aire says. "That's what underground hip-hop is about." Cannibal Ox's music depicts an urban landscape wavering between beauty and decay, past and present, punk and funk, with fractured melodies, futuristic effects and illusory samples that create an Enter The Wu-Tang-like cinematic quality. And Vast and Vordul's rhymes seamlessly mix street roughness with introspection. On "Stress Rap," Vordul punctuates, "Walkin' through these odd days / Watchin' every snake breathin' / Ready to deface the heathen at night / I'm like just tryin' to reshape the meaning of life." "We don't mind goin' full blast," Vast asserts. "We're gonna be honest and we're gonna be highly creative." - CMJ New Music Monthly, August 2001. As a bonus, check out this 3-part series called "The Making of The Cold Vein," which was uploaded to their YT page...

Oh, and full feature in CMJ is available below if you'd like a copy...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mystic "Beautiful Resistance" (Album Stream)

"Greetings ... I hope this finds you healthy, loving, and thriving! I just wanted to let you know that Beautiful Resistance, my first album in 13+ years, was released today. This project is all independent so the support of the community in spreading the message will be the key to getting the word out. If you dig it, which I hope you do, please spread the word and links below. I thank you for your love and support over the years. I start my second year at UC Berkeley on Thursday so this email is the only one I will send about this lol. Please forgive me in advance if you write me back and it takes a while to respond. Although I am putting out this album, gaining knowledge and tools to be of greater service to the children of the world remains my top priority."  - Mystic // Stream it below.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Das EFX "Dead Serious" (The Source, 5/92) + VHS

"If you want to know where underground New York hip-hop is headed next, drop a TV set in the sewer. Question: where's the connection? Answer: Das EFX, the new two man crew consisting of Krazy Drayz from Jersey and the Books in reverse (Skoob) from Brooklyn. The sludge funk beats ooze out the sewer vibes while Drayz and Books kick stiggedy stuttering Porky Pig ghetto phonetics. The first MC that might come to mind when you hear Das EFX is probably Busta Rhymes because of the zany concepts, but their style doesn't stop there. They can get quick like Treach or slow it down like EPMD. Not only have they innovated a new rhyme flow that expands on all these styles, but they have brought back fun filled hip-hop. Lyrics are packed with random, off-the-wall punch lines from TV sitcoms and commercials like "that's pret-ty sneak sis" from the Connect Four commercial, and "Sit UBU sit." It seems like these brothers get most of their lyrical inspiration from blunted late nights in front of the TV set." A VHS video released with the album is below...

"The tracks are consistently fat throughout the album. All production was done by the artists and overseen by EPMD ("diggedy down with the Hit Squad, Eye!"). Nothing too complex here, just a solid funky bottom is enough for Books and Drayz to get buck wild all over the tracks. Their sound is best characterized by two of the fattest beats of all time: the beat from Kane's "Ain't No Half Steppin" (used three times on the album) and the beat used on Organized Konfusion's "Who Stole My Last Piece of CHicken" (used twice). Their lyrical topics never stray too far away from raw freestyle rhymes, but the style itself will keep you listening. The cut that really stands out as something is "They Want EFX," which happens to be their debut single. The track is a just a simple loop from the Black Caesar soundtrack with an ill guitar lick that you might recognize from Lord Finesse's first album. But the second the rhymes come in, you'll know they're on some 'ole next shit."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rawkus Records "B-Side Bangers" (Mix)

"In 1998 the divide within the rap game was at its most glaring. On one side of the stage stood the jiggy, “shiny suit era” mainstream rappers, with CD sales on their mind, expensive tastes, and a penchant for fly cars, clothes, money, cash and hoes. At the other end of the stage was the underground, “backpack”, independent scene, where rappers and crews still made time for college radio, performed small venue shows, and aimed more for putting out records on vinyl than for selling CDs in stores. A strange state of affairs was that this was a year where the dichotomy of Hip Hop was at its furthest split. And then an album dropped and something happened. The deep chasm between the mainstream and the underground was filled, but not by much. Yesterday marked the fourteenth anniversary of Black Star’s debut album. It was a higly anticipated release celebrated and critically acclaimed album immediately from the moment it dropped. It gave a celebrity face to the indy movement that was going on, and did it’s best to bridge the gaps between the polar-opposite movements that were co-existing inside of Hip Hop’s genre. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, was the second full-length album on Rawkus Records and was the epicenter for the NYC underground movement." - UpNorthTrips (Originally released on August 27, 2012)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 4" (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 around 60 minutes. You'll hear joints from O.C., Xperado, Cella Dwellas, Juggaknots, Teflon, AZ, All City, Mic Geronimo, Thrust, Ran Reed, Basement Khemists, Nick Wiz, Pete Rock, IG Off & Hazardous, AK Skills, World Renown, Fat Joe, Organized Konfusion, Grandaddy I.U., Masta Ace, Chubb Rock, Shortie No Mass, and lots more. Listen to the mix below...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Vintage Gang Starr Footage (1990)

I caught this clip on DJ Premier's blog and wanted to share it, along with hi caption: "Vintage footage from Video Music Box with the legendary Branford Marsalis in 1990. Classic members of the Gang Starr Foundation are in the clip including Jeru The Damaja, Lil Dap & Melachi The Nutcracker from Group Home, Mike Rone of F.A.B.I.D., Phat Gary, DJ Vic Black and many others posted up with the team. My Gold teeth were in full effect and this brings me back to incredible memories of our great history. Long Live Keith “GURU” Elam and the Gang Starr Legacy -DJ Premier

Sunday, August 24, 2014

K-Def "Tape One" (Early 90s Demo Tape)

"Tape One" features rare and unreleased instrumentals, recorded directly from K-Def's original demo cassette and pressed to vinyl. All cultures leave behind relics, proof of their existence and impact on subsequent individuals and communities alike. When found, these artifacts provide not only an insight into the past but a foreshadowing to the present day. Such is the case with K-Def's latest beat tape unearthed from a time now considered "golden." Granted, Hip Hop may only be in its adolescence, but a finding cassette tape that is more than 20 years old is quite a discovery. On "Tape One," you can hear beats and programming that could compete with tracks by Pete Rock, Premier, Large Professor and others in K's peer group. That being said, it's equally understandable how the legendary Marley Marl was captivated by the burgeoning producer's talent and tapped his skills as a sonic bridge, a necessary link, from the "old" sound to the "new." Like any similar recording of this period, the sound quality leaves something to be desired, but herein lies beauty of this relic. K's beat tape embodies a time capsule of breaks, chops, samples, and vintage bit rate grunge that so many producers currently attempt to capture, attempting to relive a bygone era. K-Def was displaying the ability, the talent, and the prowess that would contribute to his staying power in the new millennium. If this beat tape is comparable to K's version of inventing the wheel, then his new material is on par with space travel. One sees the progress of a producer, a composer representing a composite of his life's experiences as evidenced in this early recording. Years from now, the audio archeologists will delight in piecing together the subsequent artifacts of this evolving artist."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tha Alkaholiks "21 and Over" (Press Kit, 1993)

"Make room for three of L.A.'s dopest rappers, Tha Alkaholiks! They will poison you with their deep liquid hip-hop beats and their hardcore drunk lyrical skills - a chaser is not needed for this trio. RCA/Loud Records brings you J-Ro (James Robinson), 23, who raps and writes; Tash (Rico Smith), 22, who also raps and writes; and E-Swift (Eric Brooks), 23, who raps, writes, flexes his skills on the tables ... Along with all this talent, E-Swift produced "21 and Over" as well as other projects including the St. Ides commercials. This crew met in Los Angels and with eight years of experience between them, began putting their beats and rhymes together. Just pull out your latest King Tee album ("The Triflin' Album") and see for yourself. Tha Alkaholiks are featured on the hit single, "Got It Bad Ya'll." This was their first commercial release and their first sip of success..."

"They will keep you synchronized and amused with tales of their experiences with alcohol. With inspirations such as Slick Rick, LL Cool J, Eric B. and Rakim, and Run DMC, they knew they had all the right flavors... Their name and their songs highlight the times when they just kick it, drinking 40 oz.'s, and making dope drunk beats. The group encourages people not to drive when they drink and chose to title their album "21 and Over." In other words, alcohol is not the end all and be all to Tha Alkaholiks - they simply like to drink and have fun. 'It's tha LIKS baby, it's tha LIKS!'"

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pumpkinhead "Orange Moon Over Brooklyn" (CMJ, 2005)

"Park Slop's Pumpkinhead has banged around Brooklyn for ages, spitting battle raps and promoting the early '90s hip-hop credo of loop-based beats and hard, witty rhymes. Criticized by fans for being nothing more than a punchline pundit, Pumpkinhead has reinvented himself on his third album, bringing storylines and insights in spades. Attacking snobs in trucker hats and white tees alike, Pumpkinhead doesn't subscribe to any camp's philosophy, criticizing gun talk while still threatening to break your teeth. Buoyed by Marco Polo's consistently dope Beatnut-era beats (thank God somebody is still using rhythmic scratching!), Pumpkinhead shits on military service, praises the grace found in grinding and still finds time for posse cuts. Though Orange Moon has a few potholes (a dumb Napoleon Dynamite skit and a recycled "woman as hip-hop" metaphor), most criticisms seem trivial in the face of songs like "Rock On." A tale of his life laid over a priceless A Silver Mt. Zion sample, its veteran mix of story, insight, failure and faith proves three times is a charm." - CMJ.

For a full copy of the CMJ New Music Monthly (2005) review, see below...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

OutKast "Next" (Vibe Magazine, August 1994)

"Booty Macks, Pimp Slaps, and Day-Glo Cadillacs: the infamous imagery of '70's baadasssss blaxploitation films has been appropriated by the hip hop nation since the early days of the new school... OutKast have composed the perfect soundtrack to accompany their mack daddy fantasies, and their debut single, "Player's Ball," swaggers like a lethal mixture of Stagolee and Superfly dancing to a wah-wah beat. "With our music, me and Big Boi are trying to bring back the '70s," Andre says in a thick-as-smoke country accent. With a beat that's as smooth as a black '77 Seville with a Tabasco red crushed-velvet interior, "Player's Ball" is just a piece of the larger picture. Their album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, is crude enough to be Afro-kitsch, cool enough to be an Iceberg Slim daydream. "Down South there's lots of players rolling in Cadillacs. We just wanted to put that wild lifestyle on wax," Big Boi explains." Check the visuals to the title track, cont'd below...

"Big Boi, 19, and Andre, 18, first became homeboys when they were students at Atlanta's Tri-Cities High School, a performing arts school that their homegirls Xscape attended. After the OutKast boys hooked up, they began developing their skills in Andre's father's basement. "I had moved in with my Pops 'cause me and my mother were having problems. Then Big Boi moved in with me," Andre says. After performing at talent shows, OutKast began playin' in local clubs. Says Andre, "It was round that time that we met our producers, Organized  Noize." (The team - Rico, Ray, and Pat - has also done tracks for TLC.) "We worked on material for a few months, then we were asked to drop some rhymes on L.A. Reid from LaFace Records." Smiling, Big Boi adds, "We dropped some freestyles, then LaFace set up a showcase for us. After doing two more showcases, we were signed." ... "Real recognizes real," says Andre. "L.A. may not know a lot about rap music, but he knows what sounds good." ... 'The vibe in A-T-L is good for making good music'." - Vibe, "Next," (August 1994).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

DJ JS-1 "DEMOlition Mix" (Mixtape)

A 91-track, 3 hour long mix of DEMOs from DJ JS-1! I know JS personally, so I know that I'm not gonna be able to explain this any better than he would (nor more entertainingly), so I'll let him tell it .... "For the past year or two I've collected a bunch of demos from many of our favorite hip hop artists. I have a collection of approximately 350 to 400 demos and rare tracks. I narrowed that down to my favorite 100 and made this mix. There are a few things to keep in mind about this new mix: first, these are all demos, many of them from cassette tapes, poorly recorded, duplicated & copied over the years; played on radio shows, etc, so the sound quality is not top notch. The sound is the best it could be considering what this is. Second, when I say demo, I mean that literally ... many of these are actual "demos" in the traditional sense of the first recordings they made to shop for record deals. Others are unreleased songs; some that are not completed, some are songs that have been released but this is the original version or unreleased remix. Some are just very rare unreleased songs that I wouldn't necessarily classify as a "demo." And finally, these are my favorites. This whole mix is worth it just for the unreleased KRS-ONE and DJ PREMIER track that didn't make the Return of the Boom Bap album... I hope you enjoy this and appreciate the history and super-special rare treats hidden in this mix. No matter how "hip hop" you think you are and how cool and knowledgeable you perceive yourself to be, there is ALWAYS more to learn and more treats to find. There are thousands of songs, so dig, dig, dig, and dig some more..." Listen below & props to JS-1.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gravediggaz "Diary Of A Madman" (Review, The Source 8/94)

"Out of the darkness, out the mist of the deep comes the Gravediggaz." The twisted brainchild of producer Prince Paul (the Undertaker), Poetic (the Grym Reaper), Frukwan (the Gatekeeper) and Wu-Tang's Prince Rakeem (RZA the Ryzarector), the Gravediggaz have created an audio horror flick that holds its own with the likes of The Shining and The Exorcist. It may seem like a gimmick, but the macabre concept works. Maybe it's the Undertaker's ridiculously ill beats. On "Diary Of A Madman," he lays ghostly wails over an earthquake bassline. On "Constant Elevation" he pairs a lighthearted piano roll with a bumping bassline. Or maybe it's the beautifully sick rhymes." Cont'd ... 

"While ultraviolence is hip-hop's latest bandwagon, few 'hardcore gangstas' can claim lyrics like guest rapper, Shabazz's: "Bear witness, as I exercise my exorcism / The evil that lurks within the sin / The terrorism / Possessed by evil spirits / Voices from the dead / I come forth with Gravediggaz and a head fulla dread / I've been examined since I was semen / They took a sonogram and seen the image of a demon." From Poetic's strung-out quiver, to Frukwan's dusted creep, to the RZA's Shaolin drawl ... the Gravediggaz go beyond gore to provide fat tracks that will rock padded cells and straight jackets from coast-to-coast. And if you think the single stretches the limits of depravity, just wait 'til you hear the album, 6 Feet Deep. Until then, lock your doors and hide the children." - The Source's Sure Shot Singles, August 1994. Original sticker from the Gravediggaz below.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Organized Konfusion "Stress: The Extinction Agenda"

"Hailing from Jamaica, NY, the members of Organized Konfusion began absorbing a variety of musical influences early - everything from Jazz and gospel to R&B. Price and Monch are from the same South Jamaica neighborhood. They met in 1986 while they were in high school. "Monch, who used to beatbox, was mad popular," recalls Prince. "He asked me about making a tape - as a hobby. But when we listened back to it, we both said it sounded phatter than stuff that was on the radio. We decided to become serious about pursuing a musical career." Pharoahe added, "We call our music medicine because it makes you feel good ... The rap industry is a little sick right now, with so much posing and formatting going on. So, with our songs, we're trying to give new energy to people that are tired of the same ol' shit." Arguably their most popular track was "Stress," which and was inspired by "the gamut of emotions Monch and Prince experienced since 1992, when Organized Konfusion dropped its critically praised and influential debut set. On "Stress: The Extinction Agenda," Pharoahe says "We went through a lot of struggle and hard times... And we're talking about relationships, business dealings ... everything." - via Organized Konfusion's original press kit. Check the video for their single, "Stress," below; one of my favorite songs of all-time.

"At a certain point, people have to realize that there is hip-hop whose primary purpose isn't to rock clubs or bump jeeps... As much as hip-hop elitists refuse to believe, there is a majority of people who have no idea who Organized Konfusion is. They don't know that Queens' own Pharoahe Monch and Prince Poetry are two of the most respected and acclaimed lyrical scientists in the hip-hop core. They may not remember OK's debut album or their singles "Fudge Pudge" or "Walk In The Sun." And maybe they don't care to find out. But for many others, the second Organized album, "Stress: The Extinction Agenda," has been agonizingly overdue. Even though this album is on another level from the pablum of mainstream music, this guarantees nothing at the cash register. The essence of Organized Konfusion is pure lyricism. More so than any other artists out now, Monch and Prince are masters of words and phrases. On "Bring It On," they become verbal contortionists, creating moving molecules of syllables and sounds, new rhyme flows and sound effects. On "Stress," "Black Sunday" and "Thirteen," the duo no longer experiments with verbal sounds. Instead they use their skills to convey their emotions with lyrics... The power of poetry goes without saying, but musically some of the tracks are very dark, eerie and, at times, too heavy and almost monotonous... But on the brighter second half, you have Buckwild-produced "Why," the ill boogie beat of "3-2-1" and the ridiculously dope bounce track "Let's Organize" (featuring O.C. and Q-Tip).... I can't say this album is for everybody and I can't even say it is the most enjoyable to listen to. But you should buy because it just might expand your mind if you put in the effort." - The Source, September 1994.

The full review from The Source can be read below...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pete Rock "Delicious Vinyl" (25th Anniversary Mix)

The Stussy x Delicious Vinyl Collection celebrated their 25th Anniversary of the LA-based record label in 2012. The minor label started in the late 80s and became a major figure in the evolution of hip-hop through the early 90s with acts such as The Pharcyde, Masta Ace, Tone Loc, The Whoridas, Young MC and Brand New Heavies. They continue to maintain working relationships with these early artists and also support the next generation of musical talent including Dom Kennedy and Casey Veggies. A couple years later, let's still enjoy this fresh mix by Pete Rock.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Armand Hammer "Furtive Movements" (Album Stream)

"Billy Woods & Elucid are Armand Hammer, the NYC rap duo whose 2013 debut, "RACE MUSIC," made waves with its blend of aggressive, experimental production and uncompromising lyrics. Their new EP, Furtive Movements, is both a continuation of, and departure from, their previous work. Fragmented musings of an imagined diaspora. Brooklyn bullshit in the shadow of construction scaffolding. Summer’s dog days set to the hiss of dusty vinyl. Drums wobbling drunkenly over ethereal loops. Elucid and woods hold down the lyrics with only one guest, the effusive Curly Castro, but Furtive Movements features an array of production from Blockhead, Von Pea of Tanya Morgan, Messiah Musik, Steel Tipped Dove and Elucid himself. This is not an addendum to RACE MUSIC but a fully realized project in its own right with its own distinct aesthetic, mood and perspective. The EP will be available digitally and limited-edition transparent orange vinyl." Listen.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Epidemic & Tantu "The Soulution" (EP Stream)

"What originally started as a guest feature for Tantu's debut release "Language of Beats," spawned into a project of its own titled "The Soulution." A short but sweet display of Tantu's diverse pallet of sounds and Epidemic's ability to subtly adapt to a producer's style. This project brings a refreshingly modern sound while keeping relative familiarity with the golden era-esque vibe that Epidemic has been known to bring. It features a soulful sound scape with melodies ranging from both uplifting to nostalgic all packed into about 25 minutes. Entirely produced by Tantu, with 5 songs, one instrumental and 2 of the west coast's finest lyricists (The EP features Fashawn and Johaz of Dag Savage), it is something like quick a shot of dope - sure to hold fans over until the next full length release." You can stream Epidemic & Tantu's "The Soulution" EP below.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

RZA & Prince Paul Productions "Gravediggaz Tribute" (Mix)

"Today marks the 20th anniversary of Gravediggaz debut, 6 Feet Deep. This oft-over looked, criminally slept-on album brought together two of Hip Hop's best producers; Prince Paul & RZA. To celebrate the anniversary - we teamed up with the good homey Rob at Unkut for a soundclash of sorts. What we did? We each picked 10 RZA Beats & 10 Prince Paul beats and had our main ace The Vinylcologist mix the shit out of them in a friendly challenge to be voted on by you - the fans. Head over to Soundcloud to peep the full trackless and feel free to comment with your selections."

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 2" (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 around 80 minutes. You'll hear joints from Jeru The Damaja, O.C., Lord Finesse, Juggaknots, Brand Nubian, Boogiemonsters, Big L, J-Live, Common, RA The Rugged Man, Masta Ace, The Beatnuts, Smif-N-Wessun, Pete Rock, Diamond D, El Da Sensei, Kurious, Royal Flush, Akrobatik, Heltah Skeltah, Black Moon, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharoahe Monch and so much more.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Chi-Ali "Mini-Documentary" (Video, 2010)

As of 2010 - when this mini-documentary was released - the 9 years prior Chi Ali was an inmate at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY home. In 2000, he killed his former girlfriend’s brother and was captured a year later after being featured on America’s Most Wanted. This mini-documentary was shot sometime around 2009, and while it tells the story of a young kid who made a mistake, he's since paid his debt to the state and has been a free man since 2012. I met Chi-Ali in Atlanta some years back, I'm thinking it was October of 2012? I remember because the Skyzoo track "Jansport Strings" was out paying homage to Chi-Ali & fresh out on parole, Chi-Ali jumped on the Remix. A couple months after that, he was on a joint with Fat Joe called "Games & Things" too. If you believe in rehabilitation or redemption at all, you've gotta believe a full life is still ahead of that man, so I'm sure another documentary or at least an updated one will be done.

"Chi Ali was the youngest member of The Native Tongues that included De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers, The Beatnuts & more. He started rapping when he was 14, making guest appearances on songs by Black Sheep and De La Soul. His one and only album "The Fabulous Chi Ali" came out in 1992 when he was 16, and became an instant classic of the Golden Era. In 2000, he committed the crime of murdering his girlfriend's brother. He was on the run until he was caught and arrested in 2001 and began serving a 14-year sentence for the offense. He will be released in two years." Chi-Ali shares, "You don't wanna come to jail ... I mean ... it's like a whole other world." Heed the warning, and watch the rest of the mini-documentary below to hear his early story.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Common at Fat Beats NYC (Sept. 27, 1997)

"Here's a clip from Common's Fat Beats NYC in-store for "One Day It'll All Make Sense".  The in-store was actually a few days before the album was released so we only had his single for sale that day.  We were also pushing No I.D.'s "The Black Album" (w/Dug Infinite) which had come out early that week.  This Common album was the last time that No I.D. and Com would do an album together until 2011.  Like most in-stores at Fat Beats it was never limited to just the artist who's in-store it was.  Many times other artists would pop in and perform and on this day Lord Sear (Stretch & Bobbito/Shade 45) had stopped by and got on the mic with Common.  Shout out to Mista Sinista from the X-Men/X-Ecutioners who not only did all the scratches on Common's earlier albums, but was present this day to provide the music.  In fact, his album "X-Pressions" with the rest of The X-Ecutioners had dropped earlier that week as well." Watch the video below. Props to DJ Eclipse.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

DJ Premier "Crooklyn Cuts Vol III" (Mixtape, A-D 1997)

Classics on top of classics! The greatest of all-time, DJ Premier, lays down the best of UNDERground hip-hop from 1996 to 1997 with this 4-tape series, "Crooklyn Cuts." The tapes feature tracks from M.O.P., Royal Flush, Ghostface, PMD, East Flatbush Project, Natural Resource, Mr. Voodoo, Sadat X, Al' Tariq, De La Soul, Money Boss Players, Mobb Deep, Nas, G. Dep, The Roots, Adagio!, J-Force, Children of the Corn, Heather B, Paula Perry, Screwball, Camp Lo, Sauce Money, Mic Geronimo, The Roots, Smoothe Da Hustler, A Tribe Called Quest, Ras Kass, Redman, and so much more. Links directly from the DJ Premier Blog, check all four mix tapes below...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "Cormega Episode"

The latest episode of the #1 podcast, the Combat Jack Show, features the Queens veteran Cormega. In stark contrast to every trend and negative stereotype plaguing our culture, Cormega & Large Professor have stepped up to release a golden era album in 2014 with their latest effort "Mega Philosophy." Cormega has stepped into the role of street poet & reinvented his career with the same formula that got him on; he's just stayed on a consistent and positive path to get it done, independently. On the production is Large Professor, who is a humble giant in the music industry; he's the guy behind the guy for many of hip-hop's most impressive collaborations & has done it all without changing his slang, his roots or his unique perspective; a man of true loyalty. Cormega walks listeners through a track by track of "Mega Philosophy," get a proper listen below!

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Roots "Distortion To Static" (The Source, 8/94)

"With all the talk about live instruments in hip-hop, there has yet to be a group that truly captures the gritty excitement of real rap using live players. Too often, "unplugged" rap sounds too wimpy and too disconnected from the dirty, mechanical funk we hip-hop heads expect. Well, hold down your samplers, because a crew from Philadelphia is tryin' to change all that. Make way for The Roots. Sporting a four-piece band, a funky drummer and two skilled MCs, The Roots are definitely on some next shit. Their sensibility and approach is based in true hip-hop, so on a certain level ther sound is the same as any good rap group. But since the drums, bass and moody keys are live, the familiar hip-hop terrain is charged with a mellow funk energy." Check out "Distortion to Static" below...

"The A-side brings a head-snappin' beat punctuated by sharp drum blasts, with the slow-but-strong pacing of a Black Moon or Crooklyn Dodgers. Behind the music, the sound of record static is laid, and sometimes the beat drops so that lyrics are dropped on top of that friction. Lead MC Black Thought weaves complex rhymes around the track, making the flow sound like a rat-tat-tat-tat of rhyming syllables. The subject matter is abstract, but the word choices are intelligent. They're the kind of rhymes thick with double-meanings that take more than a few listens to fully decipher. MC Malik B makes only an intentionally brief, funny appearance on this cut... It appears that in one swoop, The Roots have accomplished two difficult tasks: putting Philadelphia back on the hip-hop map and creating an "alternative" take on rap that's really worth a listen." - The Source, 8/94.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Capone-N-Noreaga "Stick You" (Review, 1996)

"Capone and Noreaga, the Queensbridge stick-up kids who introduced their skills on "L.A., L.A.," return with their first joint for dolo, "Stick You," an epic saga of a drug deal gone bad and the fatal consequences suffered by the Dominican drug lord who double crosses the C&N Crew. The track starts off with an ominous sounding rainstorm in the background, as Capone and Noreaga (plus special guest MC Tragedy) discover that the product they've bought off their supplier is less than dope. The rain continues as a drum track kicks in and then a sparse piano loop sets the tone for some tales from the criminal side." Hear the 2nd single from "The War Report" below, con'td ...

"From the simple piano loop to the chant that ends the song - "Not your ordinary shit / Thug shit that you're used to / Q.U. / We stick you" - "Stick You" has an undeniable Mobb Deep influence. MCs Capone and Noreaga have obviously studied their Queensbridge predecessors and now want to follow in their footsteps. "Stick You" is a step in this direction, another dose of those patented criminology rhymes that put their section back on the map." - The Source (August, 1996). (Updated)

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Saafir "Unsigned Hype" & "Demo Tape" (8/92)

"Stretching our earlobes over to the West Coast, this month takes us to San Francisco Bay Area. Boasting one of the most booming underground hip-hop scenes in the country, the Bay Area is far too often slept on by other regions. Artists like Ice Cube's cousin, Del tha Funke Homosapien, have helped Frisco start to earn respect in New York, but what many kids don't know yet is that there's more where that came from. Hailing directly from Oakland, Saafir The Saucee Nomad rolls strapped with solid beats and fortified lyrics for any region he might stumble upon. Saafir strikes a fine balance in his delivery between a Too Short pimp sound and a more friendly Del appeal with that Hieroglyphic lyrical lean. Produced on an in-house 4-track by The Seven, the tracks blend East Coast jazz flavor with that thick West Coast funk." Artwork for his demo and more, cont'd below...

"After an ill violin intro Saafir sets it off with "It''s A Pimp Thang," flippin' lyrics like: "Go to hell 'cause I don't play / You say you're dope but on a scale you don't even weigh / Talkin' about a motherf#ckin shotgun / But when it comes to hearts, brothas ain't got none." The next jam "Mark" is some 'ole slow funky Biz type shit. A 'mark' is what they call a sucker out west. The last jam, "Prime Time After Seven," freaks some crazy jazz pianos with a sample of CL Smooth's "Ready or not prime time after seven" from Mecca and the Soul Brother as a hook. Let's hope the Saucee Nomad finds his way to a record deal." - The Source, August '92. Bonus, Saafir's demo tape below...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

An Open Letter From Sean "Puffy" Combs to Vibe (1996)

In August, 1996, Puff Daddy took out a full page ad in VIBE. The ad pictured above was an open letter addressing the rivalry between Bad Boy and Death Row Records. It was ultimately an attempt to quell tensions and dismiss the (false) narrative that there was a war between the East and the West Coast. The letter says, "While it may be true that there exists a creative battle between East Coast and West Coast music culture, in my mind, anyone promoting an angry war between the coasts or promoting wrong information is simply not for the cause of hip-hop." Feeling that his label had been victim to such misinformation, he adds, "This negative perception that has been perpetuated for the masses will not get in the way of my vision. Any animosity that has occurred between Bad Boy and Death Row should not be a catalyst for East Coast-West Coast rivalry... It is no secret that we compete musically. We are both struggling to be power brokers in an industry where black men do not comprise the majority of decision makers. But it is also true that no coast should have a monopoly on hip-hop music ... My dream will not be deferred by deadly rumors and falsified information. I cannot stand by and watch hip-hop culture disintegrate or be deemed as "dangerous" or "temporary." Bad Boy, a musical operation founded on merit, diligence, and integrity will not be misrepresented or fictionalized." In closing, Puff adds "...the music will speak for itself and will always be based on artistic merit. A loose tongue ultimately has an empty mouth." We could estimate this letter was written roughly 2 months before 2Pac was shot and killed (9/13/96). 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Da King & I "Contemporary Jeep Music" (Review, The Source 1993)

"Although this is their first album, Da King & I aren't at all new to this. Under the name of Izzy Ice and DJ Majesty, they released the slammin' "Soul Man" back in '89. A Jive Records album was supposed to follow, but it was never released. Now years later, these East Flatbush, Brooklyn brothers have returned to the set armed with an impressive offering. The first single "Flip Da Scrip" created a lil' buzz, but the follow-up "Krak Da Weasel" should attract the masses. The album's twelve tracks and various interludes show why this group should not be placed in the hip-hop "here today, gone tomorrow" file. Whether on hardcore tracks like "Mr. All That" and "Ghetto Instinct," or the smoothe-paced "Tears," Da King & I represent up to par vocals and fly jeep bound production. But remember - if ya 'snooz ya lose!" - The Source (August, 1993) My favorite track on the album is "Tears," and the bonus remix on the single release. Watch the video below.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Zhigge (Hip-Hop Connection, 1994) + "Rakin In The Dough"

"Zhigge means anything that's totally fly. If we were wearing dope clothes, we wouldn't say it was fly, we'd say it was zhigge!" Emerging from uptown New York in '87, the five piece rap outfit of the same name were originally a dance unit who frequented the hip-hop clubs that ruled New York... "It all started when Kayzo and Prince, who are two members of the band, began dancing at school. When they took it to the streets, the two other members Sound and Tonga joined. I saw what they were doing and I knew I wanted to hook with them," says Face (fifth member of the crew). At the time the New York rap club scene was thriving with new clubs springing up almost every week... Any crew that descended on a rap club was asking for a battle... "We'd just go out there and battle. You'd know if you won, because the crowd would just go wild... Zhigge soon moved from the clubs, which were constantly closing due to drugs and violence, to videos and tours. Special Ed, YZ and Public Enemy are just a few of the rap groups who enlisted their talents. But after being in the background for what seemed like an eternity, Zhigge decided it was time to do their own thang!"

"We used to fool around rapping, we just started taking it seriously," says Face, who insists Zhigge has something to offer to a dance-rap concept that has been flogged to death by the likes of Hammer. "The difference between us and other rap groups is that, while some dance rap groups can move well, but can't rhyme or vice versa, we do both good. We always had the flavor. We also ain't boasting about being hard with .9s and things, we just chillin' and kicking fly lyrics. Our stuff's from the heart. No one can dump us in there with Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Young MC. They made their money, but they have no longevity. They were gimmicks, no one want to see them no more!" With the release of their new single "Rakin In The Dough," Zhigge want to beat down anyone who questions their validity. "Our name ain't no gimmick. We are no gimmick, we ain't doing nothing we'll regret in the future. We're true to the game!" - Hip-Hop Connection, 1994.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Mobb Deep "The Infamous Samples" (Mix)

A great selection of original samples that provide the backdrop to the Infamous Mobb Deep's catalog of classic records. The mix features 20 original samples from artists like Quincy Jones, Gary Burton Quartet, Les Mccann, Skull Snaps, Norman Conners, Mighty Ryeders, The Jackson 5, Lenny Williams and more. You can't fully appreciate the gritty soundscape Mobb Deep crafted as the sound of New York, until you hear the original samples - it'll give the work they did a new appreciation. Much love to Havoc and Prodigy, Rapper Big Noyd, The Alchemist and more. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

Brown Bag AllStars "The Brown Tape" (2009)

The Brown Bag AllStars was formed in 2007 while its members were working and interning at Fat Beats. Koncept, Soul Khan and Cold Codeine were writing verses and freestyling on beats made by J57 and The Audible Doctor at Jesse Shatkin's studio until they went on to (officially) release their debut project titled The Brown Tape on August 4, 2009 through Coalmine Records. I wasn't there back in '07, but I met the crew in '08 and became friends/co-workers. It's been dope to see their hard work pay big dividends. Yeah, the BBAS crew has shed a few members over the years, but all groups have growing pains, as artists move in different directions (as solo artists) or move on to different ventures in/out of music. I was diggin' through some boxes and came across an original copy of the Brown Bag Mixtape, in it's original packaging. Still enclosed in it's brown bag, the crew was dope enough to sign a copy, and no matter what, they are family and I support all their efforts! Working at Fat Beats was one of the best times of my adult life, so many great experiences and definitely being surrounded by creative energy brought good things out of me, as well. This was the soundtrack to '08-09... revisiting it again today on the 5th anniversary of it's official release.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Organized Konfusion "Stress" (The Source, 8/94)

"It just may be that all geniuses are destined to be misunderstood, but even still, this group of lyrical masterminds have gotten more than their deserved share of stress. After one underappreciated album and years of underground critical acclaim, Pharoahe Monch and Prince Poetry are finally back to take a few swings for the recognition and success they deserve. But until their new album drops, fans can settle their cravings with "Stress," the group's artistic response to the tribulations of the rap game." An updated video link has been added below for "Stress," cont'd...

"The original version surrounds the brain with eerie synth slides, discordant trumpet blasts and dense drums. You find yourself tensing up as the chorus seethes, "Crush / Kill / Destroy / Stress." And then Monch concocts his complex molecular compounds with lyrics like, "You will now consider me the apocalyptic one / After this rhyme / Henceforth there is none / No more will exist when I emerge from the mist in which I was born into / Scorned... / My perception of poetical injection is ejaculation / The immaculate conception ... " But the bonafide bomb is the Extra P remix which features a body-rock bounce beat, with all new lyrics from Monch, Prince and the mad scientist himself, Large Professor. This track's centrifugal force will pull you in, alerting you to the fact that the time has finally come for Organized Konfusion to walk into the sun." - The Source, August 1994.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Ty Farris "The Barcode" (Mixtape Stream)

Detroit spitter Ty Farris drops his latest mixtape with "The Barcode." The project boasts 17 tracks, which features a blend of freestyles and original tracks with Kuniva of D12, A-Minus, and production by Trox, Mr. Porter, Nick Speed, Jahlil Beats, Just Blaze & more. You can stream or download Ty Farris' latest mix in the player below. Thanks to HotNewHipHop for the link. That "Hog Tied Hard Times" freestyle goes hard. "Hope Proof is proud, looking down with a smile." RIP, Proof.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan "Reunited" (Video)

Let me start by saying, Wu-Tang Clan's "Wu Tang Forever" was an important album in my life for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the music. It was just an important summer; a lot happened that year on the personal front and like most things, we earmark events consciously or subconsciously through music or other things that bring us back to that time / place / moment. I can't say specifically it's Wu's "Reunited," or "Triumph," or "Older Gods," it was the whole album. Ironically, I chose Wu's "Reunited," but it was actually the 3rd single and it came out a full year after 'Triumph." How many albums today release singles and videos for an album a year later? Next to none. That said, you get the feeling they burned up their whole budget on the "Triumph" video, because "Reunited" was kinda fugazzi. The opening scene features a young Angela Yee (The Breakfast Club) and it's mostly just footage from live shows; a 180 from the highly produced video for "Triumph." GZA rips through the banner with his opening lyrics, "Reunited, double LP, world excited Struck a match to the underground, industry ignited..." The album takes off from there.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Ice Cube "It Was A Good Day" (Hip Hop Connection, 1993)

"It Was A Good Day" is perhaps the most obvious, radio-friendly single to come from Ice Cube since "Express Yourself." A seriously smooth rap slips like soft ice cream over a loop from the Isley Brothers' laidback "Footsteps In The Dark" as Cube soberly reflects on a rare day without trouble in South Central... "Most of my records is talking about how f#cked up shit is," says Ice Cube. "But realistically, as far as day-to-day living is concerned, some days are cool. Some days, shit don't go wrong, don't nobody f#ck with me. I just wanted to do a record on a day where everything was cool and it wasn't no beef. But the next day it goes back to the same ol' thing. That's why, on the album, I put "We Had To Tear This MF Up" right after that song." Check the visuals below...

"I have people scared to come up and say 'wassup' to me 'cause they think I'm the meanest motherf#cker ever. I'm not mad 24 hours a day, but I'm thinking 24 hours a day." - Hip-Hop Connection, 1993. "It Was A Good Day" was released in February 1993 as the second single from his third solo album, The Predator. Although fans have taken clues from the lyrics and attempted to pinpoint the exact date the song was written, it remains an unsolved mystery, as Ice Cube states the song was purely fictional. It makes for some interesting blog posts nonetheless.