December 31, 2014

DJ Dyllemma & DJ Sav One "Coming Up In '09" (Mixtape, 2009)

This is the ’Coming Up In 09’ mixtape that DJ Dyllemma & I put together at the end of 2009. It was originally over 65 tracks and 2 hours long, but I eventually cut it at the point where it’d fit on a single CD. Unlike the “Best Of” lists that most publications were pushing at the time, we dug a bit deeper to shine light on the underground, with the exception of a few tracks & the bad timing of releasing the mix days before the CD-Q of "Exhibit C" was released, lol. You'll hear tracks from Nametag, Oddisee, Sene, Senor Kaos, Skillz, Black Thought, Homeboy Sandman, Fresh Daily, Redman, Raekwon, Madlib & Guilty Simpson, Reef The Lost Cauze, Pharoahe Monch, Fashawn, Buckshot, M.O.P,. Mellow Dramatic, Phonte, Finale, Torae & Marco Polo, Kev Brown, De La Soul, Tha Connection, Blitz the Ambassador, Saukrates, JR & PH7, Action Bronson, Diz Gibran, Saigon, Skyzoo, Tanya Morgan, La Coka Nostra, Breeze Brewin, Eternia, Diamond District... Mixed live and unedited, so take it for what it is, a dope reminder of how much quality hip-hop comes out each year! Updated.

December 30, 2014

"The House That Primo Built" (Mixtape, 2014)

Mixed by Kil, "The House That Primo Built" pays homage to NYC’s legendary D&D Studios: "I know there's been a rack of studios where classic albums have been recorded (Green Street, Daddy's House, Battery, Chung King, Baseline) but the one that always stood out to me was D&D. That's 9 times outta 10 cause it's the house that Primo built and by Preem being one of my fave producers it's only natural that D&D would be the spot that stood out to me. And it doesn't end with Preem cause one of my other fave producers Da Beatminerz also called D&D home. Not to mention everybody from Nas, Jay Z and Rakim to Big L, DITC and KRS have all called this place home! But with everything in NYC but the Bronx Zoo being turned into condos and with the building that houses D&D falling prey to the condo bug too, I guess that dream ain't gonna come true. So with D&D finally closing their doors ya'll already know I had to throw a mix together with some of my favorite songs recorded at D&D to salute one of the most important landmarks in hip hop!" Updated.

December 29, 2014

Artifacts "The Ultimate" (The Source, 1997)

The Artifacts (El Da Sensei & Tame One) came with their 2nd single "The Ultimate" in 1997 for their sophomore album "That's Them" on Big Beat Records. With production from Baby Paul and Showbiz, "The Ultimate" got a look in The Source, which said: "After blessing their small but loyal listenership last year with the haunting chimes of "Art Of Facts," the Brick duo return again from the wrong side of the tracks of New Jerusalem with a slice of back-in-the-days bravado, laced with contemporary agitation. Randomly featured on the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink High School High soundtrack, "The Ultimate's" old-school style chorus and par-for-the-course boasts were solidly supported by the hillbilly wails and guitar stabs on Beatminer Baby Paul's original version." 

"D.I.T.C. fugitive Showbiz's overhaul, however, reinvigorates the exercise with the aggression of a physical education coach. Show's expertly arrange regiment of moog loops, handclaps, and scratches from Dana Dane's "Nightmares" provokes Tame One and El Da Sensei into kicking more personal, stronger, new lyrics." Even all these years later, reading the writer from The Source say "small but loyal listenership" still kinda irks me. Right about the remix though, the track still goes! Much respect to El and Tame, listen to "The Ultimate" and get back into the mood of music back in 1997.

December 28, 2014

Black Sheep Promo Condoms + "Strobelite Honey" (Video, 1991)

"Strobelite Honey" is the 1991 single from the hip-hop duo of Mista Lawnge & Dres as Black Sheep. The single was Black Sheep's third release from their "A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing" album in 1991. "Strobelight Honey" was their second entry on the US R&B chart, where it went peaked at #36 on the R&B sales chart and #80 on the Hot 100. The single sampled a pair of songs, both released in 1980: "I Like What You Do To Me" by Young & Company and "Take Your Time (Do it Right)" by the SOS Band. While not released to promote the single in particular, the "Put Your Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" / "Skins" condoms are an exceptional piece of physical promo for their "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" LP. Check out the video to "Strobelite Honey" below, and always hit the tags for more!

December 27, 2014

One and One "Phenomenon" (12", 1996)

Released in 1996 through Next Plateau Entertainment, One and One was the Brooklyn-based underground hip-hop duo comprised of Harry Balz aka C. Burch and Doctor Ice from U.T.F.O. aka Sonny Boy - the track is called “Phenomenon.” The song samples Eddie Floyd’s “Check Me Out,” which was also sampled for The Firm's "La Familia." I loved that song, regardless of whether it was the Nature or Cormega version. The production for One and One's "Phenomenon" was handled by Swing Of Things Productions. There were two more 12" releases from them on Next Plateau, but I do not recall them at all, I'll have to give it a listen and see if it jogs my memory later. In the meantime, dig into the full 12" from 1996, and then dig into The Firm, because ... why not? Peace.

December 27, 2014

The Rap Monument (Noisey, Video)

Thirty-minutes of pure rap bliss from three of sessions held in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. The Rap Monument features white-hot beats co-produced by Hudson Mohawke, Nick Hook and S-Type. This epic beat was then rapped over by the likes of Pusha T, Nipsey Hussle, Problem, Danny Brown, Meyhem Lauren, Raekwon, Vado, Flatbush Zombies, YG, CyHi the Prynce, Prodigy, Action Bronson, Yak Ballz and lots more. This may have flown below your radar and even if you don't like the beat or some of the MCs, just the sheer magnitude of the work built into this epic posse cut is worth a solid listen below. Who had the best verse(s)? Check the video out below and let me know...

December 26, 2014

Chairman Maf "Paint" (Instrumental Album)

UK's Chairman Maf is back with 13 more cinematic soulful hip hop instrumentals on "Paint." "Chairman Maf uses a combination of soulful melodies and entrancing vocal samples to create a 46 minute world which is far more than just a collection of beats ... he successfully molded an instrumental album which stands out as a piece of art, with themes of love, tranquility & betrayal without writing any lyrics," says UndergroundHH. For fans of DJ Shadow, J Dilla and more! Listen to it below...

December 25, 2014

Tony Touch "Hip Hop 25" (Mixtape, 1993)

This is Tony Touch's Hip Hop 25 aka Arrive To Get Live. Reaching 25 tapes probably felt like quite the milestone at the time... Released via Tape Kingz in 1993, it's got cuts from Naughty By Nature, Diamond D, Brand Nubian, Masta Ace Incorporated, Wu-Tang Clan, Lords of the Underground, King Tee, Kool G Rap, Kenny Dope, Young Black Teenagers, Rough House Survivers, Gang Starr, Heavy D. & The Boyz, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, Brand Nubian, Zhigge, Nubian Crackers, Biz Markie, X-Clan, Nice & Smooth, Boogie Down Productions and more! Hearing Wu-Tang's "Protect Ya Neck" on this mix tape shows how ahead of their time they were - it sounds like nothing else on here. Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to everyone... and enjoy Hip Hop 25 with updated audio (Thanks to J.Nickelz), below...

December 24, 2014

Logic "Under Pressure" (Album Stream)

Gaithersburg, Maryland native Logic (born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II) has amassed a large, dedicated fan base over the years via live shows and numerous free mixtapes. The backdrop for the album is Logic's childhood, where he grew up in a hectic environment, full of racism, drugs, and alcohol abuse. He dropped out of high school, was kicked out of his mother’s house, and soon found himself living in his friend Lenbo’s basement. It was there that he would hone his craft of making music, along with his friends 6ix and C Dot Castro. He released his first mixtape Young, Broke, and Infamous in 2010 which caught the ears of Chris Zarou, president of Visionary Music Group. From then through 2013, Logic released one mixtape a year through VMG, amassing a huge following with number-breaking downloads via DatPiff. Shortly after being revealed as a 2013 XXL Freshman, it was announced that Logic had signed to Def Jam Recordings and his debut album would be executive produced by legendary producer No I.D. That debut, Under Pressure, is now available, and I can't lie, it's a really solid project. I know what the critics are gonna say, but I don't think it's gonna matter.

December 23, 2014

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1994" (Mix, 2011)

This mix in Chris Read's 2011 Classic Material series pays tribute to the hip hop of 1994, a year which for many is best remembered for giving us two of hip hop’s most revered debut albums, Nas’ Illmatic and Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die. It was also a golden year for radio and mixtape DJs with tapes from the likes of Funkmaster Flex, Stretch Armstrong, Doo Wop, Ron G and others being a key outlet for the new breed of underground acts as well as established names. Despite tempos generally drifting downward in comparison with previous years and the general sound of the year’s output being laidback and largely jazz infused, 1994 had its fair share of anthems, Craig Mack’s ‘Flava In Your Ear’, Gang Starr’s ‘Mass Appeal’ and Channel Live’s ‘Mad Izm’ being notable examples.

December 22, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "PRhyme & Adrian Younge Episode"

The latest episode of the Combat Jack show is a live in-studio session with the Greatest Of All-Time, DJ Premier, Royce Da 5'9" and Adrian Younge. DJ Premier and Royce have joined forces to form the group "PRhyme" and as a special twist, Premo is sampling from only one source for the production of this album; in this case, that source is Adrian Younge. From how the group formed to back stories of each member, there's a lot to dig into with this latest episode. Listen to it below...

December 21, 2014

DJ Quest "Butta Blends #3" (Mixtape, 1996)

This is DJ Quest's Butta Blends #3 mix tape from 1996. Props to DJ Step One for posting this one up... I know absolutely nothing about this mix tape! lol. Never heard it before stumbling on today, but it's got an hour of really dope blends, featuring artists like Method Man, Fat Joe, Big L, Wu-Tang Clan, Busta Rhymes, Lost Boyz, Mobb Deep, GZA, Bahamadia, Blahzay Blahzay, Nas, Cella Dwellas, Erick Sermon, De La Soul, Mic Geronimo, KRS-One, Fugees and more. Recognizing the skill behind the mix, just sharing it for the blend tape heads out there. Dig into Quest's Butta Blends #3 below...

December 20, 2014

Shadez Of Brooklyn "Change" (12", 1996)

This is a really dope 12" from Shadez of Brooklyn on Pandemonium Wrekordz in 1996. It's a AA-Side single, both tracks "Change" and "When It Rains It Pours" are super dope with production from Da Beatminerz. The Shadez crew repped out of Bushwick, Brooklyn and consisted of Chocolate Tye, Tee Black, Reverend Al and Rambo. Da Beatminerz handled the production on three 12" releases between 1996-1998, all of which were released on Pandemonium Wreckordz. In 2010, Chopped Herring Records pulled tracks from their catalog and released a dope "Pandemonium EP" that I recommend you pick up. In the meantime, you can listen to the 12" below and if you can dig up a copy, there's a nice Tape Sampler from '96 I'm looking for and will share when I get my hands on it.

December 19, 2014

Fondle 'Em "Fossils" (Mix by Dwarf, 2013)

Uploaded to Soundclouded and credited to Dwarf, this is a solid mix of tracks from the Fondle 'em Fossils days. The mix has tracks from independent, underground greats like Siah & Yeshua dapoED, MHz, Da Nuthouse, my family The Juggaknots, MF Grimm, DJ Eli & Shan Boogs, J. Treds, Mr. Live, The Cenubites, KMD, Rok One, MF Doom, The Arsonists, Lord Sear and more! Listen to the mix below...

December 18, 2014

DMX (The Great) "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, 1/91)

DMX The Great ... "Many Milk MCs took the test of hypeness this month, but DMX The Great could not be matched. His tape had four cuts, all four were boomin' - dead up. No production credits, but somebody has nice beats and knows how to catch a variety of samples that change up the flavor of each cut. DMX's style sounds most like LL, Parish, and K-Solo, but he adds a personal style you might not catch it on paper. "Rappin' rhymin', reachin' climbin' / to the tip-top of hip-hop I'm like Simon / Do what I say do, go where I say go / Stop sweatin' me, lego my eggo." He states his claim as the real author of "Spellbound," not the other MC, who he calls "K-Stole it." Well, I don't know who bit who, but as far as DMX's skills go, the only thing K-Solo got up on him is a record deal." - Unsigned Hype in The Source, January 1991. There are some early DMX demos floating around the net, as well as X's Spellbound joint, but below is the song "Born Loser" from his single deal in '92-93 on Ruffhouse Records. Also... a quick Happy Born Day shout-out to DMX! One of the best to do it!

December 17, 2014

Diamond District "March On Washington Redux" (Album Stream)

Mello Music Group drops the remixed version of Diamond District's "March On Washington" album. The remixed versions include production from 14KT, Oh No, L'Orange, Large Professor, Apollo Brown, Quelle Chris, Black Milk, Diamond D, Dopplegangaz, DJ Skizz, Nottz, Paul White, and Jonwayne. Exhale, that's a stacked list of producers! Props to Michael Tolle over at Mello Music Group, who also receives executive producer credit on the project. For fans of Diamond District, yes you absolutely wanna hear Uptown XO, yU, and Oddisee over these remixed beats. Stream the full project below...

December 17, 2014

Brother Arthur "What You Gonna Do" (12", 1994)

Despite being released in 1994, Brother Arthur's "What You Gonna Do" has a bit of an old school flavor to it. It was released as the debut single on Chuck Chillout's C-Ya Entertainment label. A year later you'll also see the production credits for Prince AD & Pyscho Child's "Lyrical Flavor" credited to Chuck Chillout at C-Ya Entertainment. Along with Chuck, Brother Arthur, Big Geno & Big Sham have co-production credits too. "What You Gonna Do" has a nice sample from Heatwave's "Sho'nff Must Be Luv," not to mention the infamous "It's A New Day" break by Skull Snaps, which is what gives it that familiar old school vibe. Gang Starr later sampled "What You Gonna Do" on their record "1/2 & 1/2" with M.O.P.; you can hear Brother Arthur's vocals on the hook, "So whatcha gonna do since ya know now?!" "1/2 and 1/2" was on the Blade Soundtrack and the Full Clip 2CD. Aside from the production, the tracks have strong messages of unity and positivity, dig into the 12" below...

December 16, 2014

Blu "Soul Amazing Part 4" (Mix)

The latest in Blu's official "Soul Amazing" mixtape series: Part 4 features Blu verses originally on tracks with L'Orange, Johaz, Grouch and Eligh, Loop Snatchers, !llmind, Homeboy Sandman, Astronote, Dag Savage and lots more. If you've been following the career of Blu, we can agree his works released outside of collaborations with Exile need better sound quality, but Blu always comes correct on features, so it's refreshing to hear all these verses on concise mixes. Check out parts 1, 2 & 3, while you're here. Props to Blu, I hope all is well with him - more music please? Listen below...

December 16, 2014

Ghostface Killah "Ironman" (The Source, 12/96)

"Pull out the bullhorn / Let's celebrate like Kunta was born / We elbowed our way inside Loud and got on," Ghostface Killah reminisces on Iron Man, the latest installment of the Wu saga. It's been three years since the group's debut opus, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and the rap world still shows no signs of growing tired of the Shaolin crew. Batting fifth in the Wu's solo lineup, Ghostface Killah attempts to keep the Clan's hitting streak going. Iron Man is like all the previous Wu-Tang solo albums in one sense: it's a family affair. As evidenced on the exhilarating "Daytona 500," which features original SI representatives Force MD's, Ghostface is at his best when he's armed with his right-hand man Raekwon the Chef and the constantly improving Cappadonna. But don't think that Starks can't hold his own weight. On the scathing "Wildflower," he verbally harasses an unfaithful lady-friend, and on the sucker MC-chopping "Poisonous Darts," Ghost decapitates all competition."

"Iron Man is not Cuban Linx II. Italian gangster-inspired stories have been replaced by introspective lyrics, haunting melodies and intense emotional moments. And save the old-school hip-hop inspired "Box In Hand," choruses have all but been eliminated, as outside collaborators provide the record with an almost old-school R&B edge ... Method Man's Grammy partner Mary J. Blige adds a touch of elegance on "All That I Got Is You." It's on this autobiographical ode that Ghost removes his iron-clad mask and provides us with insight into his troubled childhood, and even questions his own existence. "Sometimes I look up at the stars and analyze the sky / And ask myself was I meant to be here / Why?" Serving as the project's exclusive producer, the RZA does another masterful job, topping himself in terms of sonic diversity. With Iron Man, the Clan's former masked avenger, Ghostface Killah, has created a soulful chamber that deserves its rightful place as another cornerstone in the enduring Wu-Tang Clan legacy." - The Source, December 1996. A true classic!

December 15, 2014

Eternia "Get Caught Up" (Mixtape, 12/15/09)

In a industry starved for more legitimate female emcees, Eternia is a breath of fresh air. She's on a long list of talented female emcees who haven't received the recognition they deserve. If you're not familiar with Eternia, Get Caught Up with this mixtape presented by 2DdopeBoyz and Kevin Nottingham. Here's a message from Eternia: "These are not ‘pop’ songs. These are not video singles. These are not Top 10 hits. This is the heart and soul of why I do what I do when I do it. This is a personal offering. It’s my huge THANK YOU to all of the people who have supported the Eternia & MoSS: 'Road to Release' video episodes online over the last 6 months. I hand-picked these songs from the past decade, because I felt they were overlooked - they are the most personal to my life, and they reveal my growth as an artist." This was a fun project to work on! It not only features personal offerings from Eternia's back catalog, but also the exclusive single "Foul Child," produced by Mr. Cincinnati, as well as "Destiny," produced by Apathy from the still-unreleased "Eternia By Apathy," and "Day In The Life," from Eternia & MoSS' "At Last" ahead of its official release on Fat Beats Records. Big-ups to Shake & Meka at 2DBZ, Kevin Nottingham, Shamz, DJ Law and all the sites that helped push it to the masses. It was released 5 years ago today, listen/download it below...

Below is the inspiration for each track included on "Get Caught Up"...

December 14, 2014

J. Cole x NPR "Microphone Check"

The day after his third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was released, J. Cole spoke to Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley. It was the morning before he performed "Be Free," the song he made about Michael Brown, on Letterman. Cole said he was nervous about it, but apparently not so worried that he would change his clothes. He wore the same hoodie for this interview that he did on TV. The conversation –- Microphone Check's second with Cole — reveals a person newly comfortable with himself, his abilities and what needs to be done. Tune into it below...

December 13, 2014

Total Pack (Cestyle & Kamal B Wise) "Unsigned Hype" (12/92)

"Hollis, Queens is a legendary spot for hip-hop thanks, of course, to Run DMC, but there's a whole new generation out there waiting to blow up the spot. For about a year now, one new Hollis crew that has been catching wreck throughout the five boroughs of NYC is Total Package. The two MCs, Kamal B Wise, 21, and Cestyle, 22, got their start back in '88 battling each other in Jamaica Park, Hollis. From there they formed a group and began to represent with back-up from their people - Mark Premium, Rick B, and Tonka True Divine. Underground rap radio has been Total Pack's main vehicle for recognition. After performing at the King Fest '91 in Harlem, they met Lamel, host of CCNY's radio station, who "broke" them on New York's airwaves. Bobbito The Barber met Kamal in a downtown nightclub, heard a taste of the skills, and has had them on WKCR's Stretch Armstrong Show four times since. Bobbito then took the initiative to get them on Wildman Steve's show at WBAU. "We just like the kids next door who was real nice but never got on," claims Kamal. Their style is like hardcore hip-hop without the guns and the curses; strictly verbal assault. "We make music for kids that know and understand hip-hop," he adds, "just bringing the cipher to your living room." Cestyle, the one with the puffy afro and eyeglass frames, hooks up the "raw fruit loops" (i.e. beats) in the crib... With an exceptionally positive attitude, mad skills, and raw fruit loops, Kamal B Wise and Cestyle definitely deliver a Total Package." - Unsigned Hype (The Source), December 1992. For a more comprehensive breakdown of Total Pack's trials and tribulations in the industry, via Columbia Records and Wild Pitch Records, and even their dealings with MC Serch, check out this in-depth feature, "Survival of the Fittest" with Total Pack in Rap Pages in October, 1995. Some audio will follow soon.

December 12, 2014

T-Max "Live Wire" (EP, 2014)

T-Max's 6-track release, Live Wire EP, is the second installment from T-Max's archive of unreleased recordings. Released through Crooked Cat Records, the EP is limited to 350 physical copies with these 6 unreleased gems from the 90s. For those that are unfamiliar, T-Max represents out of Boston and had some really solid content out back in the mid-90s. He was featured in the Unsigned Hype section of The Source in June, 1995, so there was a solid buzz behind him (and for good reason). For those that have been following since my earlier (defunct) blogs, you're up on T-Max and his 12" releases, but I'll make sure to dig them up and share them again - as well as that Unsigned Hype article - for everyone else. Hit up the tags for more, and stream the Live Wire EP below...

December 11, 2014

KLIM Beats "Anteater" (Instrumental Album)

Here's a throwback release from KLIM Beats; another dope selection of instrumentals added to his catalog with his 2012 beat tape, "Anteater." 31 instrumentals to be exact, released as a beat tape and available for purchase for eMCees looking for some heat for their next record. Not surprisingly, a lot of these beats sold; it's one of my favorite beat tapes from him, along with "Warm Sounds." The Ukranian beatsmith came widdit, check it out below and much props to BROKS for the dope cover art too. Look out for more beat tapes from KLIM Beats on the site, for sure. Listen to it below...

December 10, 2014

The Fugees "The Score" (Classic Material, XXL)

"The Fugees, who exploded out of the then-burgeoning North Jersey scene - around Newark and The Oranges - were a trio of artists with vastly different experience and talent. Wyclef, the eldest, was Haitian-born and Brooklyn-bred. South Orange's Lauryn Hill, the youngest, was perhaps the most stunningly and undeniably talented. Pras had Brooklyn roots and an ear for the streets... The group's Bayyan-produced 1994 debut, Blunted On Reality, was far from satisfying... Even with mediocre sales of 275,000, Ruffhouse gave them the advance they needed for a second album. "We had $135,000, took a little advance and bought studio equipment with the rest," Pras recalls. The results: a top-of-the-line home studio downstairs in Wyclef's uncle's home in East Orange - the Booga Basement..." Peep the video to the classic lead single, "Fu-Gee La" + more continued below...

"The Fugees' masterpiece was released in February 1996, eventually blown up by a song that wasn't even a single. Mixing Caribbean flavor with Hill's R&B power-pipes while beating about a hip-hop heart, the album appealed to music fans of all stripes, eventually selling nearly six million units in the US and, according to Pras, 18 million worldwide. "Clef brought the musicality, Lauryn brought the soulfulness and I brought the ruffneck," he explains. "And when it meshed together it was perfect." Enjoy Wyclef & Pras breakdown several classics from the album below. Peace to Brian Coleman.

December 10, 2014

The Combat Jack Show "LL Cool J Episode"

From Combat Jack: "We couldn't end this year right without having the G.O.A.T. on. How he survived an abusive upbringing, studied his craft with early rap pioneers in the same rap dojo with Kool G. Rap, becoming the foundation stone that became Def Jam, building with Queens' street legends, battling this rapper, that rapper and Jay Z, why he didn't sign management with Diddy, the "Accidental Racist" thing, flipping burglars in his castle and the victory of seeing his wife survive Cancer, its all here and more. From Hollis to Hollywood, this episode is most certainly blowticious. LL Cool J will forever remain hard as hell. Pause." lol ... Listen below to the latest Combat Jack episode!

December 09, 2014

Killer Mike "Sunday Morning Massacres" (Mixtape)

In 2008, Killer Mike let loose a series of tracks under the title of "Sunday Morning Massacres" when blogs were generating a lot of buzz for artists. I met Killer Mike in New York at Fat Beats for his "I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II" album in-store that same year. I believe it was just before he started releasing these tracks originally, but from my limited time with him, this was a man with a message, a higher purpose and an agenda to push people to build networks so we could truly support one another. With the evolution in his career and the success he's finally achieving on a level on par with his abilities, I suspect his role in the industry and grassroots politics will only increase with time. Back to the mix, it's about 18 tracks long, several of them being skits and lots of lyrical content and messages, in his signature ferocious style of rapping. You don't wanna miss it.

December 08, 2014

Lords of the Underground "Keepers of the Funk" (12/94)

"On their follow up to a gold-selling debut, The Lords of the Underground unveil crisper, more disciplined voices and flows. Last time around, on Here Come The Lords, they seemed to be trying to appease the 'grimy' or Das EFX contingent, and got over on the strength of a collection of solid Marley Marl tracks. For Keepers..., they delete some of their more non-accessible attributes and concentrate on streamlining their image. Some of the songs sound like album filler, but ... are in the minority. "Ready Or Not" combines a gritty Old School feel with a seductive jazz piano that's just right for a night ride. "Tic Toc," with three-chord vibes, a relaxed swing beat and a nifty Slick Rick sample, swings like a pendulum. For platinum-selling poseurs, adequate disses; for impetuous newjacks, a short pre-deal biography that emphasizes the hardships of their hungry demo-tape days." Check out the video to Lords Of The Underground's gem, "What I'm After," cont'd below...

"The superior "Steam From Da Knot" and "What I'm After" both offer relentless beats, atmospheric jazz fusions and surgically-precise scratches. For "Special Guest," they dust off James Brown grunts, add reverb and bounce them all over instantly enjoyable "Top Billin"-like beats. The album's surprise, "Faith," is as gospel as any hardcore group maintaining street credibility can be. Over the smooth riff used on Mic Geronimo's "Real," the Lords offer praise to their deity: "I place all my faith in God cause God'll never leave me... believe me" ... While a bit uneven on side two, and more than a little trendy, Keepers Of The Funk does manage to avoid the sophomore jinx. It brings a handful of addictive grooves..." - The Source, December 1994 ... You can save a full copy of the review below...

December 07, 2014

Flatpocket "Geldfundphantasyen" (Instrumental Album, 2012)

I've had the pleasure to travel to Cologne, Germany (on tour) and work closely with some of the local talent (ie: Croup), so I'm pleased to dig back to 2012 and share an instrumental project from the production duo from Cologne, Twit One and Lazy Jones, b.k.a. Flatpocket. Their bio exclaims, "Like Showbiz and AG, Twit One and Lazy Jones like their pockets fat, not flat. But as fate would have it, this is not always the case with these two young musicians from Cologne. That's why they call their new band Flatpocket and have recorded a concept album based on this topic, titled 'Geldfundphantasyen,' which is German for 'Finding Money Fantasies'." It's a truly dope set of instrumentals that slaps from start to finish (minus skits); it was released 2 years ago today! Dig in...

December 06, 2014

Ras Kass "Remain Anonymous" (The Source, 12/94)

"Just when you thought it was safe to write Southern California off as a wasteland of gin and juiced-up hustlas and pimps, up steps Ras Kass to prove that LA has an underground with a lyrical potency and overall fervor that may soon rival New York's. This 19-year old from Carson is a part of Western Hemisfear, a rhyme collective of like-minded emcees and producers out to prove that LA rap is about a hell of a lot more than gang signs, gun boasts and Roger Troutman beats. Bolstered by fat production from crew members Vooodu and Bird, Ras rips shit in a manner that hasn't been witnessed out in those parts since Freestyle Fellowship blew up the spot a few years ago." Cont'd...

"A hardened battle-rhymer, Ras always goes for the jugular with metaphors like: "When my voice hits the mic, I electrocute Spit like Beat Street (Won't Catch Me Runnin), "I gotcha holding my dick like your name was Lorena Bobbit" and "Slappin your Left-Eye up like my man Andre Rison" (Remain Anonymous). With his penchant for the graphic matched with a sure-footed, rapid-fire, throaty delivery, Ras murders the jazzy, bottom-heavy tracks laid before his feet with dazzling verve. Backed by the slightest strands of upright jazz bass, hearty kicks and bleating horns, Bird and Vooodu provide the perfect safety net for Ras's lyrical bungee jumping. Remain Anonymous is an anthem for the underground, urging the true lyrical prophets to throw "rhetoric and repertoire, demographics and heavy rotation" to the wind in favor of keeping their lyrical styles in tact" cont'd...

If you're interested in saving an original copy of The Source's review, see below...

December 06, 2014

Da Bush Babees "Ambushed" (The Source, 1/95)

"For their debut, Da Bush Babees - Y-Tee, Mr. Man and Kaos - build on the energetic material seen by those lucky enough to have caught the group when they were unsigned and performing throughout New York's underground. During their shows, listeners were treated to an astounding fusion of dancehall and hip-hop. For their album, they capture the essence of their live show with tight hardcore songs and lunatic between-song banter (heard on the skits "Bleu Buttaflyze" and "Ya Mammy.") "We Run Things is a dreamy radio hit produced by Ali Shaheed during blunt-lighting sessions. As smoke wafts through the air, you'll hear Kaos drop truth: "But nowadays cause rap pays / you got a million rappers and a thousand deejays." "Get On Down" is a dusty joint which fuses Son of Bazerk's "J-Dub's Theme" bassline to a Bob Marley chant and funk riffs. "Remember We" is fueled by acoustic bass and warm beats, with the kind of snares that home-demo DJs will recognize from the break-beat albums." Check out the visuals to the classic track, "Remember We" ...

"Swing It" receives an overhaul, as jazz grooves and reverbed horns float through the mix. The tempo is nice, the song's easy to dance to (something most hardheads won't admit to doing) and its chorus is hyped enough to make parties turn rowdy. For "Pon De Attack," they real a heavy Caribbean influence, sampling a reggae joint at hyped speed. "Put It Down" does exactly that as the group leaps into Old School mode, tag-teaming and kicking straightforward, crowd-rocking freestyles - the foundation of hip-hop that they understand well. Their style is hard to catch at first, but it's extremely clever. They're as sharp as a boxcutter ripping a face; as on point as your girl on my lap. While there is a bit of material that could be classified as filler ("Clear My Throat" is one example)... Da Bush Babees bring more than enough to satisfy reggae hip-hop fans and freestyle fanatics." - The Source, January 1995. You can read the full Ambushed album review below...

December 05, 2014

Astronote "AstroNoMix" (Mixtape, 2010)

The "AstroNoMix" by Astronote was originally released in December of 2010. It's a compilation of tracks produced by Astronote, featuring talented MCs like Magestik Legend, King Magnetic, Ro Spit, Fresh Daily, Donwill, Marv Won, LMNO, Shawn Jackson, Sha Stimuli, Invincible and more. Astronote and I have been in touch since about '08 or so, maybe earlier - he's been at it for a hot minute, and has always had a lot of support out of Detroit, which you'll hear from all the Detroit spitters on the project, not to mention his manager, DJ Graffiti, at A-Side Worldwide. Anyhow, it's been several years since this project dropped, but I figure many of these tracks went below the radar for some and it might put you on to the production of a real talent, so dig in below and, as always, follow the breadcrumbs back to "Astroblacked" and his other projects. Peace to DJ Graffiti. 

December 04, 2014

Malcom "Thelonious" Martin "Wunderkid" (Instrumental Album)

Wunderkid is the most recent - AMAZING - instrumental album from Malcolm “Thelonious" Martin. Split between instrumentals & featured vocals, you hear Mac Miller, Smoke Dza, Ab Soul, Curren$y & some really dope vocalists holding it down too. One of the best projects of 2014 that very few people are talking about ... why? Whenever I get overloaded by the available track credits aka all the breadcrumbs I want to dig through to get to the bottom of a dope sounding project, I bring it back to the shout-outs, lol. In Thelonious' case, he sends thanks to "Mom, Dad, my family (all my brothers, sisters, aunts uncles, grandmothers, grand dad, cousins etc.), Professor Fox for being my Jon Brion on this album, Matt Hennessy for the wonderful mixes, Doug McBride for the mastering, Adult Swim, J Dilla & Madlib, Alchemist, Topaz, Saint, Lonner, Matt for letting make beats in his basement in 7th grade, Mr. Ennis, Mr. Frye, Zane, Dallas, Nyann, Nicki all my incredible rap friends, my real life friends, any one that ever helped, anyone that ever doubted, anyone that I’m forgetting, Thank You All." You can learn a lot about a man from how humble he is & how he pays his thanks forward. Plus, it's some more breadcrumbs & a lesson to artists, yes there's often a distinction between "incredible rap friends" and "real life friends," lol. Free advice. Stream it below! Cop it HERE.

December 03, 2014

Madwreck "Elementality Instrumentals" (Instrumental Album)

Madwreck is back with another fresh instrumental release: "Elementality Instrumentals." Madwreck is a producer from Charlotte, NC, best known for his work as one-half of the group Dirty Art Club and collaborations with Wax Tailor, Supastition, The Others and more. A veteran of the underground, Madwreck’s highly praised production style is best described as “elaborately dark and dusty by design." Some of you may be familiar with Elementality Records via DJ K.O., Analogic, Silent Knight, East, etc - DJ K.O. put out a dope compilation album called "Picture This" back in 2008 and the remix LP, which featured Madwreck's production among other superb talents. Either way, "Elementality Instrumentals" has 23 joints with his dope, mostly signature sounds, check out the project below...

December 02, 2014

Wu-Tang Clan "A Better Tomorrow" (Album Stream)

"A Better Tomorrow" is the sixth studio album from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. I've heard the rumors of discord amongst the members, plenty has been said to dissuade me from even clicking play on the album ... yet, it's the Wu! If I lose hope, the terrorists win, right? So, like many of you, I will click to stream the album and keep my hopes up that it's dope and if not, that they can right this ship, because there's entirely too much talent in the group! The first single I peeped ahead of the album was "Necklace," the production left a lot to be desired ... but back to hope. Listen below.

December 01, 2014

The Audible Doctor "Can't Keep The People Waiting" (EP Stream)

Former product buyer and manager of Fat Beats NY, The Audible Doctor, delivers a new self-produced EP. As a man of the people, he couldn’t keep his fans waiting any longer for a full project. It has features from Guilty Simpson, Bumpy Knuckles, Consequence, Hassan Mackey, John Robinson & more. You expect The Audible Doctor's signature chops, samples and soulful delivery all over this EP. Dysfunctional as we can be sometimes, I am proud to call him my brother, and surely celebrated the new release with a purchase as I hope you will, too. Meanwhile, you should stream it below...

December 01, 2014

Pete Rock "Diggin' On Blue" (Mixtape, 1999)

Pete Rock's "Diggin' On Blue" was originally as a Japanese exclusive project in 1999. Pete Rock's exclusive mix pays tribute to Blue Note Jazz artists such as Gene Harris, Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Hancock, Lee Morgan, Grant Green, and more. When you think of Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest, you think of the influence that Jazz had on their sound. Freestyle rap also reflects similar improvising as Jazz. Once considered a fairly rare mix, the internet brings all things to light! Dig in...