October 31, 2014

Killer Mike & El-P "The RTJ2 Tour Mixtape"

With the new Run The Jewels album, RTJ2, now available both digitally and physically, El-P and Killer Mike are hitting the road to tour the record along with support from Ratking and Despot. Trackstar the DJ has put together a mix that combines the work of all of the artists involved, so fans can get familiar before hitting the shows. A real solid mix from Trackstar, check it out below...

October 31, 2014

Happy Born Day, Pharoahe Monch! (Mix)

"Happy birthday, Pharoahe Monch! To help us honor a living legend, we enlisted the help of DJ, producer and Berklee professor Raydar Ellis to dig deep into the crates with the Pharoahe Monch Birthday Mix – a collection of his favorite verses from the Organized Konfusion veteran. The mix opens with an intro from comedian Hannibal Buress and features birthday wishes from DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Jean Grae, Statik Selektah, Joey Badass and more. Widely regarded as a lyrical assassin, Pharoahe Monch has historically utilized his unmistakable flow and razor sharp wordplay to deliver seamless rhymes sporting the kind of nuance and intricate detail that could only come from a perfectionist and master of his craft. A voracious reader and insatiable spitter, he belongs to an anomalous and increasingly small class of wordsmiths that are generally immune to mediocrity and revered as the true embodiment of the term MC. Perennially prepared for battle and the most monstrous beats, Pharoahe Monch has moved crowds for decades with gems like “3,2,1”, “Rapid Eye Movement”, “Guerilla Monsoon Rap”, “Black Hand Side”, “Simon Says” and more. This mix takes fans back to bring them forward through one of the most consistent and continually impressive catalogs in the history of rap." Stream the mix below! Happy Born Day, Pharoahe Monch! #T5DOA, easy!

October 30, 2014

Boogiemonsters "Riders Of The Storm" (The Source, 10/94)

"Searching for an alternative, the Boogiemonsters find music and go all out on their debut album. What makes Riders Of The Storm: The Underwater Album one of the most satisfying cool-out albums since the Tribe's last effort, is how they successfully sustain their vibe through all 12 songs. The Boogie's soul and funk excursions never exceed the tempo of meditative cipher. The four MCs - Mondo, Vex, Yodared and Mynthric - mesh fine flows to music that's dark, groovy and eclectic. Few rappers are willing to submerge their voices (their egos!) for the sake of musical continuity and this unifying theme keeps the album moving seamlessly. The Boogiemonsters are true to their names and give you much bounce..." Revisit "Recognized Thresholds of Negative Stress", article cont'd below...

"The Boogiemonsters are New Yorkers who hooked up at Virginia State University. In the video for their butter first single, "Threshold," they meditate on anger ("negative stress") under clear blue skies on a huge farm. The Virginia sun must have melted the self-hate and limited vision that most hip-hopper's celebrate and allowed the Boogies to reflect on where the monsters within really come from... For horror-core fans, there's "Old Man Jacob's Well," a murder tale told from the perspective of the killer and his intended child victim. A Jimi Hendrix-like guitar solo accompanies the narrative-like Greek chorus. The result? Melancholy over thrill. In replacing hip-hop's usual preoccupation with rage and self-destruction with restraint and detachment, Riders Of The Storm makes good on a simple idea: escapism through cool music." - The Source, October 1994.

October 29, 2014

Jake One "Seaplane" (Beat Tape)

A brand new beat tape from Seattle, Washington producer, Jake One. Having been a fan of his production since the Conception Records days (shouts to MoSS), I am posting this having not even heard the tape yet, but it's being billed as a tape for cats that like to get high? Even though it's clear to say, Jake One does not partake. Well, neither do I, so not sure if I will relate or understand the vantage point, but if it's got his hard-hitting drums, snares and more, it will do more to get me high off ... wait, okay I see what you did there. Listen to Jake One's Seaplane beat tape below...

October 29, 2014

The Alchemist "How The Stars Got Their Breaks"

How the stars got their breaks ... let's look at The Alchemist: "While he's made a trademark of his mastery of weaving a vocal sample into his music, his apprenticeship in DJ Muggs' Soul Assassins clique pointed to a different direction for him. Of course, he didn't provide the beats himself when he was one half of The Whooliganz, who were from the same aural palette as House Of Pain, Funkdoobiest and Cypress Hill. Along with his partner Scott Caan, Alchemist was the teenage white corner of the clique. Their debut single didn't just disappear, however, with the anthemic and stompy "Put Ya Hands Up" doing moderate business, despite its overwhelming corniness. The album, largely produced by T-Ray and Baka Boyz, never saw the light of day, however. Al's vocals are simplistic, obviously influenced by Grand Puba, but welded firmly to the rather inflexible musical progression, and not a shadow of his more reflective recent spitting on the sublime "Different Worlds." An occasional emcee, Al's work behind the boards has developed from mini-Muggs, through to moderate, identity-finding work for the likes of Buc Fifty, until he found himself honing his style with cinematic beats for Mobb Deep, Infamous Mobb and Dilated. There is a link between the squally Soul Assassins sound and Alchemist's modern day movie music, but one that is increasingly threadbare as he perfects his style." - Hip-Hop Connection, 2005. Dope bonus video below...

October 28, 2014

Automatik "These Mean Streets" (12", 1997)

I first heard Automatik through Down 'N' Dirty Tribe, which I learned about via Tony Touch's Hip-Hop #44 Mixtape. Breadcrumbs! After "Inn'a Cipher," I looked for other tracks featuring Down N' Dirty Tribe and was directed to the B-Side on Automatik's "These Mean Streets" 12"; the track is called "No Man's Land." My assumption is that this record is out of New Jersey, with production from Paul Metto on both tracks. We also know the 12" was released in 1997 on Delux Extertainment but beyond that, it's been hard to dig up too much information. I'll be sure to post the Down N' Dirty Tribe record one of these days, so you can appreciate both tracks side by side. Got more info?

October 27, 2014

The Rub "Check The Technique, Volume 2" (Mix)

Brian Coleman is a noted music journalist and historian, with four nonfiction books to his name: Buy Me, Boston: Local Ads & Flyers, 1960s - 1980s; Check the Technique Volume 2; Check the Technique; and Rakim Told Me, in addition to hundreds of freelance articles in publications including XXL, Scratch, The Source, Wax Poetics, URB, CMJ, and many more. To commemorate the upcoming release of his Check The Technique Volume 2 book - "25 classic albums from the '80s and '90s are lovingly and extensively profiled by acclaimed rap journalist Brian Coleman in this impressive volume, making it mandatory reading for all Hip-Hop junkies" - DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven of The Rub selected records from the new book for this dope mix of classic records. Listen to The Rub's throwback mix below...

October 26, 2014

T.I. x NPR "Microphone Check"

"I want to be here because the people put me here," says the Atlanta rapper, actor and businessman. T.I. spoke to NPR's Microphone Check about being mentored by Andrew Young, taking Biggie to Atlanta and Outkast to NYC, using songwriting to talk to himself, as well as everybody else, and the death of his protege, Doe B. Listen to the NPR interview with "The South's Jay-Z?" below...

October 25, 2014

Choosey "Left Field" (Album Stream/Download)

SD born, Los Angeles based artist Choosey makes his Dirty Science debut in this free album titled Left Field. With beats by Exile, Like (of Pac Div), Knxwledge (Stones Throw) and Abjo (Soulection), you're sure to be bangin' this in your whip, laptop or headphones. Left Field features Dirty Science crew mates Blu, Fashawn, Dag Savage and more. Stay tuned for his follow up albums produced Exile, this is just the beginning of whats to come from Choosey. Free download, and stream it below...

October 24, 2014

ANTHM x Godlee Barnes "Handful of Dust" (EP Stream)

Here's a dope sleeper choice from early last year: a collaborative project from New York eMCee ANTHM and LA-based eMCee/producer, Blu. In this case, Blu handled production on this 7-track freEP entitled "Handful Of Dust" under his producer alias Godlee Barnes. If you're not familiar with ANTHM, this is a really dope introduction to his music, and for back story, ANTHM is a Duke graduate and a Wall Street trader turned eMCee, which brings unique perspectives to his music. Early comparisons to Blu may have led these two talented artists to work together, but ANTHM shines and creates his own lane with this fine EP release. You can stream/download the EP below...

October 23, 2014

Artifacts "Art Of Facts" (The Source, 1996)

The Artifacts' El Da Sensei & Tame One return from their underground gem, "Between A Rock & A Hard Place," with a new single, "Art Of Facts," for their sophomore effort, "That's Them." Getting love in The Source, the review says "The Artifacts have been excavated once again. Brick City's finest twosome - The Tame One and El The Sensei - have rematerialized in physical form to drop "Art of Facts," the first singe off of their sophomore album. Tame One kicks the first verse, showing why the duo has this game on lock: "With each beat released, I reach mad blocks / Analyzing more spots then Matlock / Now I got this rappin' shit on Padlock." El follows suit, warning wack MCs to be wary of the brick-hard steez the Artifacts come with: "I tear the roof off, and when I fuck, don't take my boots off / I shoot from the lip and your nose glow like Rudolph / You soft, so let me hit you off with all the hardness / Artifacts shit we got the hard shit regardless." Adding support to the production: "The production on the joint is hellatight, with a walking xylophone backed by a throbbing bass." (Update, 2018: a video has been released for the 20th anniversary reissue).

October 22, 2014

Black Sheep "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" (HHC, 1991)

"Two things have been further clarified by the release of this long-awaited album. One, a sizeable chunk of hip-hop has dispensed with the 'immediate attention grabbing' beats of the past, together with a shift of emphasis toward the content of the lyrics and the common themes running throughout the album. The Leaders of the New School's "Future Without A Past" is an example, as are KMD's "Mr Hood" and Quest's "Low End Theory." "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" can be added to the list. Forget searching for a hype dancefloor filling album and instead tune in to an excellent and unique selection of breaks (with an emphasis on jazz-funk like the SOS Band) and lyrics that are purposefully not conscious; "I kick about things that I know about," says Dres to two hypocritical knife wielding 'conscious' thugs in "Are You Mad?" - just one of many hilarious musical sketches throughout the LP." Check out the video to their smash hit, "Choice Is Yours" and more, cont'd....

"The second issue becoming clearer is more delicate. As self-confessed "Doo-doo eating, vomit tasting, pre-marital sex" havers, the Black Sheep are unashamedly sexist - "Ho is merely short for honey" Dres retaliates on "LASM." "We've dropped the 'nee', so why don't you drop to yours!" I'm sorry, but I just can't help chuckling at quips like that! And as it looks like the 'dissing women' factor is here to stay the best defence is to diss straight back - as MC Lyte and Yo Yo have done so well! The Black Sheep are lyrically adept and after it sinks in, you're sure to be hooked to this album ... that is if you're a 'black sheep' kinda person too!" - Hip-Hop Connection, 1991. Love this album!

If you're interested, you can check out a copy of the full review below...

October 21, 2014

KLIM Beats "Warm Sounds" (Instrumental Album)

Much respect to Klim Beats, a producer representing out of Kiev, Ukraine. From the visuals to the vinyl, Klim Beats crafts really concise, tight instrumental projects. "Warm Sounds" was one of the first instrumental albums I caught on to, the beat for "Rest and Peace Guru," immediately caught my attention. I was in between projects for my artists and I didn't have this site to blog about it back then or I woulda done that, maybe reached out for an interview or something. So, like most things - after a while - it kinda got lost in the shuffle. Anyway, it seems late to write about this now, but this site was created to put you up on the artists that deserve the attention and I believe Klim Beats is and will be a producer that y'all should listen to and follow. This is also the 3rd anniversary of the release of "Warm Sounds." So, with that said, stream it below and follow the breadcrumbs. (Update, 2018: with the passing of my Mother on 3/22/18, the only beat playing in my head right now is "Rest and Peace Guru," so I want to dedicate that track to my mom (and Praverb, and Guru and so many others that we lost too soon...), may they Rest in Eternal Peace. I love you, Mom.

October 20, 2014

You Must Learn Episode 2: Smif-N-Wessun "Dah Shinin"

Released January 10, 1995, Dah Shinin is celebrated for the synergy between Smif N Wessun’s two members, Tek and Steele, and the cohesive, gritty production courtesy of Da Beatminerz. In 1998, The Source placed the album in its list of 100 Best Rap Albums. What you’re about to hear is Tek and Steele take us through the backstory and the making of their quintessential classic. They talk about: their relationships with Biggie and Tupac; going to high school with Maxwell and Sean Price; being inspired by the work of Roy Ayers, and what the Doghilee actually was. “You Must Learn” is produced by Peter Oasis and is written by Dharmic X; the podcast features contributions from DJ Flipout and Soul Khan. Special thanks Kelly Green. Listen below to Episode 2 of You Must Learn...

October 19, 2014

Pharoahe Monch "Internal Affairs" (Press Kit + Review, 1999)

From Pharoahe Monch's bio / press-kit, "Pharoahe Monch's legend precedes him like few lyricists committing words to wax in hip-hop today. After eight years as half of one of the rap music's most revered and enduring underground duos, Organized Konfusion ... the mighty Monch now delivers his inaugural solo album, Internal Affairs, on hip-hop skilltrade haven, Rawkus Records... "When we finished The Equinox," Pharoahe remembers, "our label was like, 'Go right back and do something else. We put so much into that album... I was just like, 'Prince... I can't do it. I'd be lying to you, myself and the fans... So I stopped. And then after that point the label gave us a release. And that's when the opportunities came and labels came runnin' at me. I was like, 'Wow, should I squander these opportunities or not? So I discussed it with Paul and we were on the same vibe. We eventually wanna hook back up. But it's really best that we work on solo projects right now." Internal Affairs marks not only a creative rebirth for Monch but a spiritual rebirth for an artist who finally feels a healthy camaraderie from a stable of comparable hip-hop talent with which to co-exist and collaborate with at Rawkus... 'Rap groups are supposed to have the integrity to keep etchin' it up a notch. Even if you have to battle yourself. And I don't think most cats really take that integrity to the game - being passionate about working with artists that have that same position... That's what good lyricism and good hip-hop is all about ... And that's what Pharoahe Monch is all about." - 1999

A review in CMJ, says: "Few artists in hip-hop garner the respect and admiration of their peers quite like Pharoahe Monch. On his Rawkus debut, Internal Affairs, he raises the intensity level to a fever pitch with their masterful set of thinking-man's hardcore. Monch holds his own when scrapping with Canibus and M.O.P., and then gets deep with cats such as Common and Talib Kweli with nary a flinch in the transition. He even reunites with Organized Konfusion partner Prince Poetry on "God Send," one of the album's standout cuts. Also check out the rowdy street corner remix of the anthem-of-the-moment, 'Simon Says," featuring Method Man, Redman, Busta Rhymes, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Lady Luck." - CMJ New Music Monthly, November 1999. This is a classic!

October 18, 2014

O.C. "Word...Life" (The Source, November 1994)

"Without question, Bushwick, Brooklyn's O.C. qualifies as one of the most compelling vocalists to emerge from the East Coast underground in recent years. If his guest verses on Organized Konfusion's "Fudge Pudge" only hinted at this MC's potential to make noise, his own recent debut single "Time's Up" was the certified bomb that tore up all competition last summer. As a song that not only spoke to the problems plaguing contemporary hip-hop but also provided its own relentlessly dope musical remedy, "Time's Up" was the rare single that led by example (ie: "Come Clean," "Follow The Leader," "Protect Ya Neck") as it sounded the impeding death knell for "those who pose original but really ain't true." Visuals to the two lead singles and more, continues below...

"On paper, all the elements seem to be here - dope producers (Buckwild, Organized), non-gimmicky subject matter (life and death, wisdom, skills) and of course, O's vocals - but things don't quite take off the way you hope. In contrast to the minimalism of "Time's Up," Word Life favors a smoother soundscape that is generally solid but doesn't always match the excitement of O'd wordplay and delivery.... Of the highlights, "O-Zone" comes closest to recapturing the flavor of "Time's Up," with Buckwild once again nimbly cutting up the chorus of Premier's long lost twin. Head-nodding tracks like "Go Head With Self," "Let It Slide," and the too-brief intro "Creative Control," delivers the goods, while "Pointz Of View" and "Ma Dukes" (featuring the angelically soulful crooning of - you guessed it - O.C.'s mother) round things out effectively on the smooth tip. On these songs and elsewhere, O.C. displays his trademark ability to flip creative perspectives on familiar topics in a manner similar to that of his close associates Organized Konfusion. And eventually it's this lyrical expertise that redeems Word Life despite its initial letdowns. O.C.'s skills leave no doubt that he is an artist who'll continue to be heard from in the future. Hopefully, the tentative first steps of Word Life signal that the best is yet to come." - The Source, November 1994. An underrated GEM!!

You can check out the full from The Source below...

October 17, 2014

Jeru The Damaja Interview (Hip-Hop Connection, 1994)

"Every now and then an incredible hip-hop record comes out that makes you stop in your tracks. You start to nod you head ... it leaves you lost for words, and you're like 'what the f#ck was that?" "Come Clean" is that record. A real New York hardcore sound, straight from da underground, with a unique delivery from 22-year old Brooklyn MC, Jeru The Damaja: D Original Dirty Rotten Scoundrel...  The DJ Premier produced "Come Clean" is Jeru's reaction to the negativity prevalent in modern rap. "I felt like it's my job to bring forth a little positivity, so "Come Clean" is a chance for all the gangsta rappers and people of this nation to stop doing that. What they're doing is influencing the youth to a negative manner and they're not living this way themselves and that's perpetration, y'know. So basically come clean, drop all your acts and just rhyme... Right now I think hip-hop is about to return to its original form - lyrics and beats, no gimmicks, no fronts, just young people coming and expressing themselves to music. That's what hip-hop started as, expression to music, it was a non-violent way to release energy, stop others hurting each other." Jeru is also keen to point out he isn't on the preaching tip either. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not looking for every rapper to come out saying we shouldn't do this, we shouldn't do that, that's not what I'm on... It's one thing to be a gangsta or to live a rough life and just tell your experiences, but it's another thing to make something up 'cos you think that's what people want to hear and it'll sell a lot of records." - HHC.

October 16, 2014

Big Pun "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (February, 1998)

"Big Punisher laughs a lot. The Puerto Rican, Bronx-bred behemoth behind last year's brilliant Loud singles "You Ain't A Killer" and "I'm Not A Player" can't stifle a chuckle even when resurrecting acerbic childhood memories of his disciplinarian Vietnam vet stepfather. "Your reflexes are sharp when you get your ass whupped all the time," Pun says while pounding the pavement of his old neighborhood. "My stepfather would walk every morning to the bathroom. I could hear the toilet bowl flushing. Whoooshhh. Then he'd walk past my bedroom door," Pun pauses. His black eyes are piercing; he's lost in a trance. "Next thing you know," the Punisher says, "he would kick in my door and (say) 'Early, soldier! smack me around, and make me do f#ckin' push-ups Ha-ha." Pun brought an end to that pain when, at 15, he became big enough to fight back. "I use that experience for my writing," he says. "You can hear the anger." Big Punisher's gusts of fiery breath were first on 1995's "Watch Out" from Fat Joe's Jealous One's Envy. Pun has since flexed his self-described sophisticated hardcore flow on solo Bone Thugger Flesh-N-Bone's 1996 "No Mercy" as well as the Beatnuts' recent-blazer "Off The Books." Throwback live video: Terror Squad runnin' through their joints...

"But the juiciest slab on Pun's menu is is own full-length debut, Capital Punishment (Loud). It's a relentless collection of bone-crushing bravado. Check for the banging, Buckwild-produced "Dream Shatterer" as well as the exacting "Twinz," a "Deep Cover"-esque duet with Pun's manager Joey Crack aka Fat Joe. "People got me blushin," says the nearly 400-pound 26-year old father of three. "They stop me and go, 'You Pun?' All my life I didn't feel special, so it feels good to finally be spoiled." Later that day, Pun treks down to his label's Manhattan offices. "I'm gonna try to write some ballads too, man," he says, stone serious. "I'll sing this one song for you..." The tumultuous conference room is ripe with crazed interns and Pun's lifelong, round-the-way amigos and fellow rhyme slayers Cuban Link and Tripe Seis. They simmer down. "You stupid," Pun says. "Like I'm gonna sing a song for you. Ha-ha-ha." Ouch. Big Punisher - hip-hop's newest heavyweight champion - has punchlines that will knock you out." - Vibe Magazine, February 1998. Rest In Peace, Big Pun.

October 15, 2014

Maestro Fresh Wes "Naaah! Dis Kid Can't Be From Canada?" (1994)

"Maestro is no new kid on the block. A few years ago when he debuted in his native Canada, he blew up the spot and sold a number of units too. Now he's out to flaunt his mic skills to the world. His lyrics come varied - endless witty puns and metaphors are used as an umbrella for the subject matter he deals with. 'Nah..." showcases a penchant for straight-up, New York style braggadocious freestyling like "pray for the east," "mic mechanisms," his desire for "brown sugar," or when he kicks knowledge on a "higher level." The beats are also varied, although they are all jazz flavored..."

"The production, handled by Fresh Wes and Showbiz, is tight and the samples (especially the horns) are very rare, in turn providing heads with something new to nod to other than over-used breakbeats. By the end of the set it becomes obvious that Wes is a freestyler, and you soon realize why he describes himself as Fresh. What's most important is that he's fly on the mic and never leaves you yawning." - Hip-Hop Connection, May 1994 - Save a copy of the full review below.

October 15, 2014

Supastition "7 Years Of Bad Luck" (October 15, 2002)

"7 Years Of Bad Luck" is the debut album from Supastition, released on this day in 2002 on Freshcrest Records. The album was reviewed in Insomniac Magazine, saying: "The intro is put together well. This is tight because many new artists forget that the audience doesn't know their sound or angle yet. The introduction helps do just that. The flow is rugged like gravel, and the lyrics are delivered fast like shells spit from a fully automatic rifle. Supastition provides stress-release with loud style and delivery." With a review also on RapReviews, Matt Jost said, "...With an updated demo and a name change to Blackmel, he landed a deal with Lo Key Records run by veteran Queens DJ/producer Davy D (of "One for the Treble" fame). Ready to drop his debut "First Impressionz" since 1997, he eventually got tired of waiting and moved on, hooked up with fellow North Carolinians The Nobodies, appeared on their "Now Culture" album and Esau's "The Debut Album...The Farewell Tour" guest-starring on "Esau Vs Blackmel" and the posse track "2 Many Emcees", where he dropped the telling line "I got split personalities and got 'em all solo deals." After recording yet another demo, Cali Agent Rasco offered him a single deal on his Pockets Linted imprint. Finally, in the summer of 2002, he is ready to drop his debut album on Freshchest Records, under an alias that links the name of his album to a famous Stevie Wonder song. Presenting: "7 Years of Bad Luck" by Supastition." The original press release, featured as an insert with the vinyl is below + the album...

Supastition's "7 Years of Bad Luck" is available for stream/purchase below via Bandcamp.

October 15, 2014

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 6" (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 The B.U.M.S., Showbiz & AG, Boogiemonsters, Dredknotz, Black Moon, Ground Floor, Black Sheep, Artifacts, Dirt Nation, Heavy D, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, N-Tense, Da Bush Babees, Ghetto Concept, Masta Ace, Fat Joe, Urban Thermo Dynamics, De'1, Main Source, Digable Planets and lots more. Listen to the mixtape below...

October 14, 2014

GZA "I Gotcha Back" (Video, 1994)

Four total singles were released for Liquid Swords. The first of which was "I Gotcha Back," released August 22, 1994. Similar to Raekwon's single "Heaven & Hell," the song first appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Fresh, and was the first song written for the album. Describing the song's background and theme, GZA later stated "This was a short rhyme I wrote for one of my nephews. When I said, “My lifestyle so far from well, could’ve wrote a book called Age Twelve and Going Through Hell.” It’s for my nephew who was twelve at the time, and whose father, my brother, had been locked up since ‘88. So he wasn’t around for my nephew when times were rough, so I wanted to up my nephew a bit with this track. I had two nephews in the video, they were both real young at the time. And in video, they both had met up and shots rang out from some young gangsters. It’s a shame because both those kids in the video, both nephews of mine, ended up getting in trouble for ringing out shots and are both doing time right now. It’s kind of ironic. One of my nephews ended up getting eights years for that. So the whole song is a sad irony to me now." - Wax Poetics

October 13, 2014

CL Smooth "Man On Fire: The Freestyle Sessions" (Mix)

J.Period teams up with the one and only Mecca Don, legendary eMCee CL Smooth (of Pete Rock & CL Smooth), for this fire-breathing collection of 20 exclusive freestyles over 20 blazing hip-hop beats. Resurrecting the lost art of lyricism, the man behind classics like “T.R.O.Y.” and “Straighten it Out” comes back with a vengeance and solidifies his place as one of the greatest eMCees to ever touch a mic. Stream CL Smooth & J.Period's 2005's "Man On Fire: The Freestyle Sessions" below...

October 12, 2014

Mos Def "Black On Both Sides" (CMJ, 9/99)

"Like his peers in the illustrious Native Tongues collective, Black Star lyricist / musician Mos Def is both a student and advocate of hip-hop culture and, more specifically, of hip-hop music as a form of free expression. His solo debut, Black On Both Sides, is simply one of the most unhindered and aesthetically ambitious hip-hop records in recent memory. Flipping creamy-smooth verbal science with the precision of such peers as Nas or the Roots, Def drops head-nodding, b-boy verbiage on the cuts "Speed Law" and "Do It Now," the latter of which features Busta Rhymes." Cont'd below...

"But Mos Def exhibits the same effortless imagination when he sings the dreamy, soulful "Climb," a duet with Vinia Mojica. Free of the self-imposed limitations that often hinder other rap acts, Def employs slick verses ("I don't be tryin' to fuck with Limp Bizkit / When I get down in my zone / I be rockin' Bad Brains and Fishone"), thumping funk breaks and bottomless soul to transcend the status quo. And when he's not laying down his own basslines, Def can even be heard messing with punk rock or reworking a Chili Peppers hit for added effect." - CMJ New Music Monthly, 9/99

October 11, 2014

DJ Premier "10 Classic Non-Gang Starr Productions" (Mix)

"DJ Premier’s catalog is incredible. If he was only known for his work with Gang Starr, he’d still be considered a Top 3 producer of all time, easily. But the fact that he’s worked with everyone from Biggie to Jay-Z to Nas to KRS-One makes his discography pretty much incomparable. And we’re not talking about obscure cuts that lost their appeal years ago. These are timeless songs! So for today’s edition of The 10s, we present Primo Treats: 10 Classic Non-Gangstarr Primo Joints. We’ll probably have to do a part two and three to this because dude has worked with everyone we love and always comes correct. All praises due to DJ Premier, thank you for all the music you’ve given us. It’s our pleasure to celebrate the work you’ve put in. I guess right now we should start the show." (Written by Stan Ipcus; presented by UpNorthTrips, and mixed by UnitedCrates in 2011). Dig in...

October 10, 2014

Rapsody "Beauty & The Beast" (EP Stream)

JAMLA’s first lady has finally released her new project, Beauty & The Beast. The Soul Council-produced 10-track EP features Heather Victoria, Problem and more, and is mixed and mastered by the venerable icon, Young Guru. I think we're still being introduced to a talent in the making, a defining full-length is on the way and it'll be way more personal, empowering, and cerebral, but I'm enjoying the journey. Stream the EP below. (Updated: Deluxe Edition added below & I'm inclined to agree with what I said here, albums have since dropped and they were fantastic, earning much deserved praise!). Three more tracks have been added in the deluxe edition, check it out below...

October 10, 2014

Diamond D "The Diam Piece" (Album Stream)

The legendary DITC producer-on-the-mic has dropped a new album, The Diam Piece, and it’s loaded with talented guests including Pete Rock, Elzhi, Pharoahe Monch, Masta Ace, Evidence, Kurupt, Guilty Simpson, Black Rob and more. To me, Diamond D has thee greatest album of the D.I.T.C. crew with "Stunts, Blunts, and Hip-Hop," but it's easy to argue for so many other classics in their collective catalog's. Been a while since I heard a return like this, so I'm dialed in and ready! Dig in...

October 10, 2014

Poor Righteous Teachers "Black Business" (The Source, 10/93)

"After checking PRT's sophomore effort, Pure Poverty, more than a few fans of this Trenton, NJ, outfit were left disappointed, feeling as though the group had failed to live up to the high standards they set on their 1990 debut. But don't worry. On their third release, PRT returns with a strong and versatile showing. Even while they change up the styles, consistency is the key here, as all of the tracks swing with that unmistakable PRT groove - rootsy, funky and just a little off-beat, often reminiscent of "Rock Dis Funky Joint." The crew also rocks hard with the '93 style on standouts like "Nobody Move." "Mi Fresh" and "Here We Go Again," a head-nodding romp driven by a crisp snare track and a simple but deadly acoustic bassline." Check out "Nobody Move" below...

"On the lyrical tip, Wise Intelligent and Culture Freedom come again with the roughneck, ragga-muffin chatting - over strictly hip-hop beats this time - and Wise's crooning silky smooth internal melodies. Despite stiff competition from the Yardies, PRT shows that they can mash it with the best of the dancehall dons and are definitely for real. On the posse cut "Da Rill Shit," even their deejay Father Shaheed catches some wreck. Though fervent members of the Five Percent Nation, the PRT "P"-osse don't hit you over the head with rhetoric, choosing instead to skillfully slip in their messages into such tracks as "Black Business," "Ghetto We Love" and "144K," a song about the 144,000 Blacks from the 12 tribes of Israel who will be saved on Judgment Day. Though rap is their route out of poverty, they maintain the hardcore ghetto mentality that proves they're coming from the roots and thinking long-range." - The Source, October 1993. Full review is available below.

October 10, 2014

Pete Rock & CL Smooth "I Got A Love" (The Source, 10/94)

"Back in 1991, Pete Rock & CL Smooth raised the hip-hop stakes with their first LP Mecca and The Soul Brother. Gone were the days where you could slide by with a simple drum loop and a James Brown shriek. Pete and CL were comin' with the bumpin' new slick sh!t. Their super-thick production and smooth Mount Vernon flow showed us everything our Bose speakers and Blaupunkt car stereos were capable of ... Three years later, with the overabundance of Pete Rock rip-offs, it's time for this duo to take back the corner. With their new single, "I Got A Love," the PR & CL chemistry mixes up an easy-going track that ignores all gangster gimmicks and hardcore tricks." Article cont'd below...

"Pete lays a low-key "I Dream of Jeanie" xylophone hook over bangin' drums and guitar lines. And all the while, CL Smooth drops the slick Casanova rhymes, like a "Lots of Loving Part II." Both versions of the song are sure to soothe and at the same time rock the party ... Once again, Pete Rock and CL Smooth are coming with the much-needed relief from hip-hop's grim reality. And with tracks like "I Gotta Love" and others from the upcoming album, The Main Ingredient, it's plain to see that the Chocolate Boy Wonder and the Caramel King are here to please." - The Source (Oct. 1994).

October 10, 2014

Madwreck "Sounds of the Cypher" (Instrumental Album)

Originally released around 2006, "Sounds Of The Cypher," is a heavy 40-track instrumental project from Charlotte, NC's Madwreck of Dirty Art Club. The LP has been remastered and enhanced with new artwork, now re-released exclusively on Bandcamp. As Supastition's manager, I may be biased to assume readers of my blog are familiar with (Johnny) Madwreck's work via multiple releases from Supa, as well as The Others, DJ K.O., Silent Knight, and more. Either way, Madwreck is a phenomenal producer, so 100%, listen to Madwreck's "Sounds of The Cypher" below, and more music to follow...

October 10, 2014

Vince Staples "Hell Can Wait" (EP Stream)

I like this kid ... a lot. I think he's smart and witty and has a lot to say in his music and interviews. The musicality (that a word?) isn't 100% my flavor, but when I strip it down to content/lyrics, that locks me back in. The inspiration for Vince Staples' "Hell Can Wait" is said to be the summer between his 9th and 10th grade, which gives me a sense of nostalgia in my own way. Diggin' into the lyrics reveals the depth of his project, for example, on "65 Hunnid," Vince says, "You alone, car full of n!ggas but you alone / It's time to show how much you love your homies / One n!gga outside, two niggas up inside the store / One n!gga gon' die, the other two can come along ... Don't stop 'til he drop, don't shoot for the skies or shoot for his toes / I told you before that n!ggas gotta die for this shit to survive / Is you with it or not? Get to knockin' then ... Common sense missin' from your head when the pressure on..." That's real heavy. Combined with the artwork, you can piece together the storyline of "Hell Can Wait." It should be no surprise then that navigating the rap game is easy work for the cerebral MC from the West. Beyond that, I pray he navigates life as well as he does the music game, and that he has a bright future ahead of him. A sentiment that echoes with Nipsey Hussle, who I also respect and admire immensely in and out of music. Listen to the EP below...

October 09, 2014

Redman "Whut Thee Album?" (HHC, October 1992)

"I like to build my album up as a movie. When you're listening to me, you're watching me as well. If you get a good focus on what I'm talking about, then - with the drama and shit - it's like a movie." Ruffneck funkster Redman sinks into the big chair and describes the cinematic potential of his gruff, ghetto-flavored debut LP, 'Whut.' A rugged collection of Parliament-style loops and harder-than-hard raps, the album is spliced together with channel-hopping snatches of news reports, mini dramas and murderous dialogue. "I could act my ass off," he boasts.... Who says I can't be the next Mel Gibson or something? Straight out of Newark, "one of the hardest cities on the planet," Redman, with EPMD and K-Solo, is one of the original members of the Hit Squad. He was Erick's roomie for two years and now the pair have formed EAR (Erick and Redman) Productions to produce tracks for the Hit Squad and beyond. Sharing the same hood as Naughty By Nature, Lakim Shabazz, Latifah and a host of upcoming new stars, he's proud of his hometown, and his street-corner background. "I love Newark, my city. Word up! You can take a brother out of Newark but you can't take Newark out of the brother." ... With his strictly Funk Street attitude to hip-hop, Redman steers clear of explicit politics, leaving his hardcore ghetto stylings to speak for themselves. "I leave that messages shit to other people. The bottom line is that politics and racial shit is keepin' some of the rappers employed - cause that's all they talk about. That's cool though, I can't knock anybody how they get paid, but a lotta people just want to hear the funk. Somebody who listens to my album would say 'oh - he's funky, he's nice." - HHC, 1992. This wasn't the best interview, nor album discussion, but it's interesting to know Redman "gained his name when his face swelled up all rosy from a little girl's snowball." Is that verified? If so, I probably shoulda known that by now, huh? 

October 09, 2014

Kid Capri "10-9-89" (Mixtape, 1989)

Kid Capri was the man for this mix tape in '89. Regarded as one of the greatest mix tapes ever, because of the intro which set it off with Stephanie Mills' "Something In The Way You Make Me Feel" with The Honey Drippers' "Impeach The President" underneath. It's safe to consider that single track influenced Ron G to create a whole tape of similar blends and impacted the culture the way it did. These were creative times and the DJ was the backbone of the whole shit. You'll also hear joints from Heavy D, Eazy-E, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Kurtis Blow, Public Enemy, and more. Turn it up LOUD...

October 08, 2014

Hasan Salaam "Life In Black & White" (Album Stream)

Hasan Salaam is back with his latest creation, Life In Black & White. This album has been a long time coming. As far back as the Music is My Weapon EP and his journey to West Africa, Hasan Salaam has kept us on edge for this project. After all is said and done, he delivers a gem. From the jump "Grey Area" sets the tone. As my favorite track on the album, Hasan Salaam delivers with flow and lyricism that could make your favorite rapper bow down. As the album progresses, we find that he doesn't stray from his original formula but actually adds to it. He continues to touch on social issues, society as whole, morality, the streets and even sex. You definitely won't get bored with it. There's plenty of wit, sarcasm and sensible punch lines to keep it entertaining. Other notable tracks include: "The Way" where he talks about reaping what you sow, "Jericho" touches on racism and government, "#OGJM" is something for the haters, "Pain Killer" and "Scars Over Scars" also contribute to the cause. "Like Silence" is about relationships and the radio ready "Mile High Club" is a laid back vibe for the ladies. One could easily get lost in this album because there are so many songs. Yet, they are all different. Each telling a tale of Salaam's experiences and views of the world around him and abroad. The appropriately titled Life In Black & White is definitely one for the books. Stream the LP below...

Original advert for Life In Black & White on Viper Records...

October 07, 2014

Genovese "Genovese's Thesis" (12", 1997) + The Source

Genovese is a Yonkers native. His first single was released on Die Hard Records in 1997; it featured Styles P and was called "Genovese's Thesis." The song received heavy support from DJ Clue on his mixtape, "Show Me The Money," & instantly became a gem in the underground. The original vinyl pressing had the name & title spelled wrong as Genovesee, but for those of us that came up in NYC, we remember that Genovese was a household name due to the drugstore business that had stores all over the 5 boroughs and Long Island. I believe his Great-Grandfather founded the business back in the 1920s. We could call this time in Hip-Hop, the Bad Boy Era & Genovese had artists like Biggie, Jermaine Dupri, Nas and more eager to put him on. That included potential rumors of him joining Junior M.A.F.I.A., which unfortunately never happened due to the death of The Notorious B.I.G. on March 9, 1997. The original connection to Styles P of The LOX, along with Kasino & Richie Thumbs, is how he got put on to Die Hard Records, but when Genovese became the first Italian-American hip-hop artist to sign a major record label (Universal Records) in 1999, Universal bought "Genovese's Thesis" from Die Hard Records to put on his debut solo album, "My America." Another case of misfortune, Genovese was released from Universal less than a month before his album was set to be released. It's only due to the internet that "My America" surfaced on P2P platforms and message boards (before blogs) and the album had more buzz than ever. Aside from "Genovese's Thesis," other 12" releases you can dig up include "Fuck Y'All" and "My Life," which came out around 2000. Beyond that, tracks with Nature, Half-A-Mil (R.I.P.), Lord Tariq, and more recent material with his cousin, Gustapo, as the group "First Cousins," which picked up some steam in the late 2000s, featuring tracks with Joell Ortiz, Ali Vegas, Cormega and others. Revisit the first single below, then - as always - follow the breadcrumbs to find that My America LP on the net, and more.