January 31, 2015

Double Life "Revolutions" (12", 1997)

I've been speaking off and on to Gennessee for well over a decade about Double Life and Street Reportas. I first posted about this 12" in '05-06 when conversations switched from message boards to personal blogs. 10 years later, I'm trying to write this from memory so apologies in advance if I mess up any of the details. Gennessee The Chosen Son was originally from Brooklyn, but relocated and connected with L*Roneous on the West Coast, where they ultimately became the group we now know as Double Life (with Raw B on the cuts). Their first 12" was self-released in 1997 on their Raw Elements label. The "Revolutions" 12" got a lot of love on college radio back here in NY, and I can still vaguely hear the instrumental to "Revolutions" (produced by Animation) playing in the background as Stretch & Bobbito talked their shit.  Also on the 12" were B-Side bangers in "No Limitations" and "Regiments," which were both produced by DJ Zeph. Gen has long teased an album or two from Double Life, and I've always been inclined to believe it's coming, because he did re-issue the Street Reportas' "America Undercover" EP some years back. Quick props to DJ Paul Nice, who played a facilitating role in Gen's career, as well; you can dig up a copy of their 12" on Bomb Hip-Hop Records with A.G. & DJ Babu called "Definition of Nice." That was a tight underground scene on the West Coast, a lot of key players had radio shows and were flexing incredible skills as DJs, producers & freestyle lyricists. I wish I would have made it to the West Coast at that time, just to experience it firsthand. I'll be sure to discuss the Street Reportas & the Double Life "Live in San Francisco" audio from 1997 one day soon too. If you're not aware of all the amazing production credits Gen has stacked up over the years, dig dig dig. Apologies to anyone I forgot that were in the mix at the time; in the end it's about the music. I encourage everyone to dig and follow the breadcrumbs. Lastly, love to Pizza Wagon around the corner from 86th Steet on 5th Ave in Brooklyn, New York.

January 30, 2015

Gang Starr "Moment Of Truth" (The Source, 1998)

"This is the record that hip-hop purists who have been tired of the artform's commercial tendancies and lack of creativity have been savoring for. Amazingly, the king of monotone MCs, Guru, and his incomparable producer, DJ Premier, have with their fifth album created not only this year's finest release thus far, but arguably the group's greatest work ever. The unmitigated brilliance that's displayed on Gang Starr's Moment Of Truth is, at times, indefinable. While their previous four albums all had moments of splendor, Moment Of Truth is one continuous highlight after another... After a few mind-altering listening experiences, you'll soon realize that DJ Premier, in his prime, has delivered his most resplendent work for the group... Thankfully, his partner Guru has also stepped up his game. Sounding almost born-again, the eternal ill kid never slips in delivering vital messages to today's youth. Throughout the LP, he juxtaposes hip-hop's ills with society's ills; meshing his personal drama with his professional distaste for artists he feels have disrespected the sacred sanctity of hip-hop music..." Revisit Gang Starr's "Moment of Truth" album + review cont'd below...

"Downright nasty are the selections where a diverse group of artists join the festivities. Inspectah Deck breaks atoms on "Above The Clouds;" M.O.P. pledge their devotion to each other on "B.I. vs. Friendship;" Big Shug and Freddie Foxx emerge like Black supermen on "The Militia" ... More importantly, however, are the two collaborations where Gang Starr test their artistic boundaries. On their current single "Royalty," R&B bad boys K-Ci and Jo Jo croon along with rap's ghetto gold champions, while the New York-based straight talkers merge with H-Town's beloved Scarface for "Betrayal," a story-telling tale of the dangers of disloyalty. Always staying true to the game and proving that there is no limit to their appeal, Gang Starr has with Moment of Truth delivered the antidote to hip-hop afflictions. Never wavering in the eye of the storm, hip-hop's purveyors of the underground have risen like true champions. Victory is theirs." - The Source, 1998. 4.5 5 mics.

January 29, 2015

Kenn Starr "Square One" (Album Stream)

"Kenn Starr sees his career at square one, despite being regarded among the elite of the DMV scene, and being in the inner circle of producers Oddisee and Kev Brown, and having his newest album signed to Mello Music Group. Eight years since his debut, Starr Status, Kenn Starr is baggage free on his sophomore album, "Square One." Largely produced by Kev Brown with a nice block of production by Black Milk, and additional work by 14KT, Roddy Rod, and Kaimbr, "Square One" is Kenn Starr getting back to his foundation to begin anew. "Square One" is the only album Kenn Starr could write in order to bid farewell to days past and move forward. The album is built from the underground-up as Starr still writes from the mindset of being a product of the basement." Dig in...

January 28, 2015

Camp Lo "Uptown Saturday Night" (Classic Material, XXL)

"The day Camp Lo came out was the day hip-hop smiled," says producer Ski, who handled the lion's share of the group's 1997 debut, Uptown Saturday Night. Layered in Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba's unorthodox flow and '70s slang, the album was a refreshing standout amid the shiny suits and bottle poppin' that was dominating the charts at the time. "We plotted everything out before we even started recording the music," explains Suede. "The whole '70s Black exploitation, the slang, the sound that we wanted to be on, just everything. The duo's chemistry built over time." Cont'd... 

"Originally a solo artist, Suede met Ski in the Bronx, and the pair began making music together. From time to time, Suede would play tracks for his friend and fellow rapper Cheeba, before suggesting they form a group, in 1994. With Ski handling most of the production, the duo recorded at his apartment and banged out timeless songs like "Sparkle," "Coolie High" and "Luchini AKA This Is It." Although not a commercial success, Uptown Saturday Night presented a new chapter in New York hip-hop and is widely regarded as a project that was ahead of its time. "A lot of people didn't really understand it," says Suede. "They thought the slang was too far out. They thought the way we dressed wasn't cool ... But when "Coolie High" came out, that just changed everybody's mind..." Now years later, "Geechi and Sonny take a moment to look back on their sparklin' debut..." - XXL. They discuss several of the records off their debut, including "Luchini," "Sparkle," and more... (Updated).

January 27, 2015

Red Pill "Learning To Punch" (EP Stream)

"Red Pill, having just signed a multi-album deal with MMG, decided to let Mello fans know that he has put in his 10,000 hours and is ready for the solo artist limelight. His opening track is produced by new-teammate Oddisee, who back in 2011 after watching Red Pill preform at SXSW spoke to Apollo Brown suggesting he produce something with him. "Red Pill was thoroughly impressive on the mic and in front of the crowd," says Oddisee about the experience. Apollo then went on to form the group Ugly Heroes with Red Pill & Verbal Kent in 2012 before releasing their first group record in early 2013. Interestingly Red Pill had purchased production for Oddisee about 5 years before and sat on it, waiting until he felt ready enough to do it justice. Cut to five years later and Red Pill has signed a deal as Oddisee's teammate and is working alongside him. Appropriately, this forms the first track of the "Learning To Punch EP" and is titled "Smile." The second song on the album is the heartfelt journalism of "All Of Us" - an emotional and well thought out response to the violence and brutality recently shoved into the forefront of American communities. Finally west coast producer Duke Westlake brings an introspective soundscape over which Red Pill unleashes the angst of being hungry and the focus of turning "one day" into today. "Learning To Punch" is a concise power punch combination from the newest Mello emcee, and an indication of the musicality to come." - MMG

January 26, 2015

EPMD's Press Release Announcing Break-Up (January 26, 1993)

On January 26, 1993, the following press release was sent out regarding the break-up of EPMD: "Parrish Smith and Erick Sermon, collectively known as Def Jam/Chaos recordings artists E.P.M.D., have announced that they are parting ways due to personal differences. The hardcore rap duo's latest LP, Business Never Personal, has been certified gold, as have its three prior albums Strictly Business, Unfinished Business, and Business As Usual. Rush Communications Chairman Russell Simmons has commented that he is hopeful that the group will get "back to business." Both artists released solo projects before reuniting in 1997 to release their comeback LP, Back In Business and have since recorded Out Of Business, We Mean Business and are currently working on new music. 

January 26, 2015

!llmind "Beats For Kanye West" (Beat Tape)

This is a beat tape from last year (maybe later) that I decided to dust off today and share with whomever reads this blog. !llmind had this to say about the tape when it was first released in the summer of 2003: “Kanye West is undoubtedly one of the most exciting producer/artists to emerge in the last decade. His music is one of the few I can safely say I whole-heartedly admire (next to the late great J. Dilla). I had the pleasure of producing “The Morning” off of 2012’s highly anticipated “Kanye West Presents: G.O.O.D. Music Cruel Summer” LP. During the creation of that song, and between the months of July 2012 – March 2013, I created a handful of tracks with Kanye West in mind. This is a collection of some of that music. It features collaborations and co-production from my long time friend Symbolyc One (Produced Kanye West’s “Power”, “Murder 2 Excellence” on Watch The Throne and part of Kanye’s “Very G.O.O.D. Beats” entity), Dr. Know Jr, M31RK, Hippie Sabotage, Kailiin Yong and The Frontrunnerz. I had so much fun creating this stuff, and I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do.” Click play below and you can D/L it for free HERE.

January 25, 2015

The Beatnuts "We Came Here" (12", 1997)

There's not too much from The Beatnuts catalog that would classify as truly obscure, but here goes one of their lesser known 12" releases from 1997. Classified as an unofficial release, it comes with "We Came Here" as a vocal track and instrumental, and the B-Side is the remix to "Hellraiser," again vocal and instrumental. The interesting story behind this release requires us to fast forward to 2009. I was working at Fat Beats and Psycho Les of The Beatnuts came in the shop. He was dropping off The Beatnuts' compilation release called "U.F.O. Files: Rare & Unreleased Joints." I hadn't heard anything about it at the time, so I told him if he sent me the artwork and info, I'd post it to the blog I had then. The next morning I woke up to an email with just a video file (not a link, the actual video). I searched YouTube and it wasn't online, so I confirmed he wanted me to post it up and sent it out to the blogs for coverage. It got several thousand views that week and generated a lil' buzz online and at the store for the project. Unfortunately, YouTube being what it is, at some point it flagged the video for a sample and instead of fighting it, I took it down. Either way, these are two of the rare tracks included on that compilation release, along with 20 others. Listen below.

January 24, 2015

Coalmine Records Presents "Remineded" (Album Stream)

Coalmine Records is pleased to present, ‘Remineded: A Collection of New & Old Remixes.’ Offering a new spin to their decade-deep history, ‘Remineded’ is both a reflection of some more notable cuts taken from their catalog, while also providing a taste of what’s to come. The ten track compilation boasts remixes from Hip-Hop’s most coveted acts, including Q-Borough’s emcee, and famed Golden Era producer, Large Professor, D.I.T.C.’s Diamond D, Spanish heavyweights Cookin’ Soul (Nipsey Hustle, Don Cannon, Smif-n-Wessun), Australia’s Grammy nominated M-Phazes (Eminem, Kimbra, Logic, Sean Price) and Brown Bag All Stars’ rapper and producer, The Audible Doctor, amongst others. Stream the project below and also cop the "Kiss The Sky" 7" at Fat Beats! Peace to Matt Diamond.

January 23, 2015

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1996" (Mix, 2011)

This mix in Chris Read's 2011 Classic Material series pays tribute to the hip hop of 1996, a year which marks a turning point for the genre with a divide growing between the popular RnB influenced sound and the underground ‘independent’ sound blossoming in reaction to it. Whilst many established artists including De La Soul openly attacked the emerging commercial sound of the day, artists such as Busta Rhymes managed to retain underground credibility and deliver more chart friendly offerings for major labels. Notable album releases include the Fugees’ commercially successful yet credible ‘The Score’, Tribe Called Quest’s Ummah produced 4th album, ‘Beats Rhymes and Life’, Jay Z’s ‘Reasonable Doubt’ and Jeru’s ‘Wrath of the Math’ in stark contrast to it. Debut releases from Kool Keith alias Dr Octagon and newcomers Company Flow set the tone for a new breed of leftfield acts. Dig into the archives for more Classic Material mixes and listen below...

January 22, 2015

The Combat Jack Show "Ras Kass Episode"

The latest episode of the incredible Combat Jack Show features West Coast's top lyricist, Ras Kass. Ras breaks down his history, his battles, beefs, and his come up in the game. He also goes deep with his views on religion, President Barack Obama, racism and more; in a true "Nature Of The Threat" kinda way, lol. When the #1 podcast sits down with an MC you respect, you dig in and listen below...

January 21, 2015

Nas "Illmatic: Most Overlooked Album" (The Source, 1/98)

"We hate to say it, but The Source told you so. It's time to recognize and realize that Illmatic is a classic, kiko. Before the pop crowd jumped on Nas' "If I Ruled The World," steez, real hip-hop heads knew the hidden jew-elz to be found on this propitious opus. With DJ Premier, Large Professor, L.E.S., Pete Rock and Q-Tip providing a subtle but engaging production framework, Nas' luminous lyrics and brilliant narratives remain cemented in the minds of many listeners. This record is hip-hop in its purest form. Subtly dynamic, songs like the jailhouse dedication "One Love," the freestyle bravado of "Represent" and the vivid "New York State of Mind," helped bring Nas' politics acclaim to the point where people were quick to compare him to the god Rakim. Along with the work of fellow soloists The Notorious B.I.G. and Jeru The Damaja, Illmatic also helped bring respect back to the New York rap scene and implanted a foundation that would allow Nas to later reap the benefits of his indubitable artistry." - The Source, "The Most Overlooked Album." (January, 1998). Look back...

January 21, 2015

Artifacts "That's Them" (Microphone Check, 1997)

Artifacts That's Them El Da Sensei Tame One Hip-Hop Nostalgia Microphone Check
Artifacts That's Them El Da Sensei Tame One Hip-Hop Nostalgia Microphone Check

The Artifacts (El Da Sensei and Tame One) released their sophomore album, 'That's Them,' on April 15, 1997. Returning from their solid debut, 'Between A Hard Rock & A Hard Place,' in '94, the Brick City Kids enlisted Shawn J Period to handle most of the production with additional joints by Lord Finesse, Baby Paul & Mr. Walt of Da Beatminerz, V.I.C. (Beatnuts), and the ill remix by Showbiz on 'The Ultimate.' While Lord Finesse & Lord Jamar are the only features on the album, the article above in The Source explains their view on that. The Artifacts helped to further popularize the element of graffiti with their videos and lyrics and I can only imagine the # of fan videos there would be had IG existed during 'Wrong Side of the Tracks' and the sequel, 'Return To Da Wrongside.' The main singles off the album were 'Art of Facts,' and 'The Ultimate,' of which there was not only a Showbiz remix but also a J Dilla remix (below). For some perspective on their place in the underground, El shares: "If it wasn't for groups like us, Beatnuts, Common, Organized or The Roots, where would anybody be? You wouldn't have nothing but a radio. There wouldn't be no underground, nothing secondary to run to. You'd have strictly uptop groups." He might've left out some artists, but I get what he was saying right there. All these years later they can still tour the world as solo artists or together (if they choose) with extensive catalogs to run through! Hit the tags for more.

January 20, 2015

Ran Reed "The Introduction" (12", 1999)

With production from one of the underground kings, Nick Wiz on both tracks from this 12", the A-Side single, "The Introduction" also features the Cella Dwellas & Moonie D. It was released in 1999 on New York's Bronx Science Recordings, which was also home to Breez Evahflowin, Bedroom Wizard, K-Otix, Apathy, L-Fudge, Apani & lots of others cut from that same cloth. In 2012, Nick Wiz presented a CD & LP release of "Respect the Architect: 1992-1998" by the New Jersey MC Ran Reed on No Sleep Recordings. With a buzz surrounding Nick Wiz's consecutive releases of instrumentals and feature-compilations, I trust this brought extra attention to the project and Nick Wiz did produce over 90% of the LP. I highly recommend picking up a copy of that, and all volumes of Nick Wiz's Cellar Selections & Cellar Instrumentals. Ran Reed has new music coming soon, too! 

January 19, 2015

DJ Blendz "Now That's 90s Hip-Hop" (Mixtape)

DJ Blendz drops off his latest mixtape, an ode to 90s hip-hop out of New York City. "Not just New York anthems, but hip-hop classics." I can vouch, there's lots of gems on here from hits, underground smashes, cult classics and lots more; a nice variation of tracks that'll keep you listening front to back. From Hov, to AZ, Nas, Mic Geronimo, Noreaga, Camp Lo, Lost Boyz, KRS-One, LL Cool J, Gang Starr, Mobb Deep, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, DMX, and a whole lot more. Listen to it below...

January 18, 2015

Prince AD & Psycho Child "Lyrical Flava" (12", 1996)

Prince AD & Psycho Child released "Lyrical Flavor" as a 12" back in 1996. Their crew, the Killa Kidz, had a 12" out that same year and Prince AD (later known as Killa Sha) was the eldest member of the Killa Kidz crew. Production on "Lyrical Flavor" was handled by the OG, Chuck Chillout on Phat Wax Records. Chuck Chillout was influential in New York as an early radio DJ at 98.7, then working at The Box with Ralph McDaniels and years later started a record pool for DJs. I didn't know it at the time, but I started building with Killa Sha years later, and he told me that coming up, he was the DJ for Mobb Deep back in their Poetical Prophet demo days and for their debut album, "Juvenile Hell." He did the cuts on that album. With dozens of features under his belt and history throughout Queensbridge, Killa Sha later released a batch of solo efforts that were highly slept on, especially the "God Walk On Water" album, which you really should go back and revisit. In the fall of 2008, I spoke to Killa Sha suggesting he come through Fat Beats so we could chop it up. A few days later just happened to be the in-store for Large Professor's "Main Source" album; Sha came with him to Fat Beats, and didn't come empty-handed. Knowing I was a fan of 90s hip-hop, he brought me a sealed OG copy of the Killa Kidz "Phenomenon" 12". I was humbled by that, because of his generosity and also because it was a rare and expensive piece of vinyl. A lil' over a year later, I was sad to hear that he passed away due to complications from diabetes. I never opened that 12" and it makes his gift all the more significant to me. Rest In Peace, Killa Sha. Listen to this early 12" below.

January 17, 2015

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1995" (Mix, 2011)

This mix in Chris Read's 2011 Classic Material series pays tribute to the hip hop of 1995. The output of ’95 arguably typifies what is often referred to as the ‘mid 90s sound’, with filtered and layered grooves accompanying crisp programmed drums at a tempo generally far lower than in previous years. The general trend for decreasing tempos peaked in ’95 with a significant proportion of single releases barely breaking the 90bpm mark. 1995 is also notable for the rise of a darker more melancholy production style with even the darkest of backdrops (Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones Part 2 for example) scoring as unlikely club hits. There were of course also a host of more typically upbeat club tracks, Blahzay Blahzay’s ‘Danger’ and ODB’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ being good examples. Dig in...

January 16, 2015

Jay-Z "Pre-Reasonable Doubt" (Demo Tape)

The breadth of Jay Z‘s raw talent is on full display with the emergence of a Pre-Reasonable Doubt demo tape that finds a hungry spitter from Marcy pulling out all the stops. The great and powerful internet comes through yet again, serving up a 10-track window into the making of one of Brooklyn’s most famous sons. Mass Appeal was kind enough to drop this gem, which is equal parts hip-hop history lesson and a master class in cadence for rising MCs. Crashing the boards with a bevy of entendres and a consistently clever approach, young Hova offers much more than a fleeting glimpse at the titanic talent he would eventually deploy to take the rap world by storm. - OKP

January 15, 2015

Roc Marciano "Sounds Like Porridge" (Mixed by Pipomixes)

"Roc Marci's music is the quintessential example of old becoming new. There's nothing new about stripped down, loop-based production sprinkled with grimy raps. However, the way in which Marciano does it and the timing in which it is being done, make this old tried and true combination very refreshing. As much I tried to resist doing this mix because I considered it low hanging fruit, I could only resist for so long. The music is just too good and I like Roc's catalog too much to have not made this mix. This mix was completed six months ago and has been sitting on the shelf collecting dust ever since. I held off on releasing the mix because I thought another Marci album was going to drop during the fourth quarter of 2014 (as was done with his 3 previous LPs during the last two years) and I wanted to time the mix's release with Roc's latest album. No such luck and I can't sit on this mix any longer because too much time has passed since I released my last mix. So here you all go. Enjoy it because I'm not sure when the next mix is coming." Peace to Pipomixes.

January 14, 2015

Craig Mack "Get Down" (Review, 1995)

"For people who say all of Craig's shit sounds alike, peep the phat remix for "Get Down." Produced by Q-Tip... Mack's shit always sounds as sharp as a broken bottle. He ain't one of them slick-haired types coming into hip-hop with a lotta yang about 'hardcore roots' or 'war stories' ... it's refreshing to hear something a bit different ... The combination between Mack's lyrics and Q-Tip's track is the best since chocolate met peanut butter. It makes you go back to the days when the "rap industry" was really hip-hop looking for a home. That's why Mack slams. He easily proves he's no one-hit wonder ... And if you're still cravin' for that "Flava In Ya Ear" vibe, check the original mix of "Get Down" that picks up right where "Flava..." left off." (The Source, Sure Shot Singles / January, 95) The fact that there's no video for the original or the remix says a lot, especially coming off the success of both "Flava In Ya Ear" and the classic line-up on the remix. Listen to the audio below.

January 13, 2015

Funkmaster Flex "Special Delivery" (Part 1-3, 2001)

A student of Red Alert and Chuck Chillout, Funkmaster Flex got his break filling in at New York's KISS-FM ... that job led to a job at WBLS and then his current gig of 20-odd years at Hot 97. Never known to be a "mix tape" DJ per se, Flex did release several mixes when they reached mass popularity on the streets and, of course, we're all familiar with the retail releases he put on Loud Records, as well. Back in 2001, he released these 3 street mix tapes as part of a "Special Delivery," series, as he did with the "Big Truck Series" and other joints to hype his car shows and what-not. Featuring a blend of what was hot at the time, with exclusive freestyles, they're still a solid listen today. I'd originally uploaded Part 1 to Soundcloud, but I noticed they took it offline. Fortunately all 3 mix tapes were available on Mixcloud, so this post has been updated to include all 3 parts below...

January 12, 2015

Tony Touch "Hip Hop 101: Back To School" (Mix)

"To thank his loyal fans for their continued support, Tony Toca is offering up his latest mixtape, Hip-Hop 101: Back To School as a free download. The 1 hour + mixtape features a collection of new Hip-Hop joints guaranteed to get your head nodding (Pause). Tony Touch is also offering a thumb drive USB filled with mixes that include 5 Deadly Venoms, 50 MCs, The Diaz Brothers and more. Cop them all here, and stream Hip-Hop 101 below." - via 2DopeBoyz: Salute to the homie, Shake! Listen below...

January 11, 2015

Brothers of the Mind "Stop Schemin" (12", 1995)

Brothers of the Mind were a NY duo consisting of DJ Krazy Kraz and Lyrical Freestyle. In my search to provide the best info about Pal Joey and the group’s backstory, I came across a nice write-up on Discogs, which I’ll share: ‘DJ KrAzY KrAz, the DJ, Audio Engineer and producer, got his start back in April of 1992 in NYC, when the producer of Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One, Pal Joey (Loves Gonna Get Ya, Black Cop, The Jam, and Hot Music) was having a contest for new rap groups. After 85 auditioning acts, Brothers Of The Mind won and were signed to Pal Joey Productions. Two years later, they landed a deal at Maxi/Max’n Records where the group did three singles, “Stop Scheming”, “Kick Facts” and “Rough & Tough” remixed by “Da BeatMinerz” that sold well across the US and Europe, but due to poor promotions, 5 years later, the project ended.’ This 12” is ‘Stop Schemin’, produced by Pal Joey and released via Max’n Records in 1995, listen below...

January 10, 2015

Shad "Boarding Pass" (EP Stream)

"To no one's surprise, Shad is still in top form. With his contortionist wordplay, academic acumen and infinite likability, it's no wonder he's found his place as Canada's most beloved rap artist since Maestro. Boarding Pass, a quick followup to his Polaris-nominated Flying Colours album, isn't at all a departure from what we've come to expect from the master of the humblebrag. Rather, it is a quick PWYC set of additional songs meant not to reclaim the throne, but to remind folks it's not vacant, either." - via Exclaim, click HERE to read the full review, and stream "Boarding Pass" EP below.

January 10, 2015

DJ 7L "Can I Live?" (Mixtape, 1999)

DJ 7L released his mix tape Can I Live? in 1999. The tape is hosted by Queensbridge's Tragedy Khadafi and features tracks from underground favorites like Ill Bill, Sauce Money, Gang Starr, Afu-Ra, The LOX, Dilated Peoples, K-Otix, Large Professor, Jigmastas, Big Pun & M.O.P., Big L, Vinnie Paz, F.T., A.G., Xzibit, Prodigy, Rah Digga, Jedi Mind Tricks, Kool G Rap and of course, Tragedy. "All I gotta do is ask y'all one question.... Can I Live?" Props to DJ Step One, listen to this fine mixtape below...

January 09, 2015

A Tribe Called Quest "1nce Again" (The Source, 1996)

"Beats, Rhymes, and Life" was the fourth studio album from the Queens legends A Tribe Called Quest. It was released in 1996 by Jive Records; a long three years after the successful release of "Midnight Marauders" in 1993. My fondest memories from the album come not only in the dope hologram cover the CD was packaged in, but the lead single "1nce Again." The Source celebrated it, saying: "With the cyclical swirling of xylophones tickling coming off like tin pan drums and the airy-sweet vocal chiming of Tammy Lucas, it's a laudable feat for the Tribal Christening of the Ummah. But what marks the track as special is the ethereal endowment that runs through Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammad's beats, rhymes and life." History might not remember this album in its proper context due to the loss of J Dilla, but there was a huge divide between fans that felt Tribe had abandoned their sound on "Midnight Marauders," and others who loved Tribe's new direction. The Source argued that "the thing that makes A Tribe Called Quest unequaled is the impossibility of pegging their unique qualifiers." What made Tribe great was that they were always growing and developing their sound. Yeah, maybe it was hit or miss for some, but surely we can agree they were always ahead of their time, and they provided the soundtrack to the better part of my life. Tribe music has always been there to link memories to music, which makes it timeless to me. I guess the only thing left to say is: I hope they can Find A Way to release new music!

January 09, 2015

Black Milk x NPR "Microphone Check"

Back in October, Detroit's Black Milk released his sixth solo album, called If There's A Hell Below. He came to New York and spoke with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley about trying to impress J Dilla, transforming his music for live shows and always improving. "Each song, I want it to have a purpose," he says. "I feel like I'm making some of the best music. I know it's certain details that I'm looking at, that I know I've grown in, that most people won't even hear." Listen to it below...

January 08, 2015

DJ Spinbad "You Know My Steez" (Mixtape, 2001)

The first installment in DJ Spinbad's "You Know My Steez" 90's hip-hop series. The mix was recorded in 2001 exclusively for Manhattan Records in Tokyo, Japan. It features tracks from the Fugees, The Pharycde, Smooth The Hustler, Jeru The Damaja, Special Ed, Common, Organized Konfusion, Kool G Rap, Black Moon, Group Home, Blahzay Blahzay, Public Enemy, Gang Starr, Casual, Nas, Mad Skillz, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Camp Lo, Mobb Deep and more! Golden era shit, listen below...

January 07, 2015

Redman "Dare Iz A Darkside" (The Source, 1/95)

"Dare Iz A Darkside is an explosion from the Funkadelic Devil that attempts to capture the suspended time between life and death. To do this, Redman picks up where he left off with his debut and unleashes more hot "cosmic slop" to relieve us from the same monotonous funk everyone claims to possess. The creepy, sinister sounding "Noorotic," one of Redman's many buddah sessions on wax, sets the tone as Mr. Noble expresses his inner feelings on the music industry: "They're attacking me / this naughty rhyme style actually / they got factories with little dolls named after me." Lyrics remain the focus on the unorthodoz "Green Island" as the multiple-personality technique perfected on last album's "Redman vs. Reggie Noble" is utilized. This time Uncle Quilly (another Redman personality) joins the other two in a quest for greenbacks, and Redman proves that the nearly-perfect skills that made him famous can improved on. The album really shines on "Cosmic Slop" which features Erick Sermon and Keith Murray on a lyrical tour through the cosmos. The hostile "We Run N.Y" also stands out as Redman and Hurricane G create lyrical havoc by bringing true East Coast flava from a male/female perspective... Dare... is definitely a piece of art which causes one to suppress reality as the mind travels into the mysterious world of the unknown. Redman is without a doubt on some 'ole next shit coming with the same attitude that blew your mind on the last LP. Most artists are afraid to experiment, or express views that are not the norm, but on Dare Iz A Darkside, Redman challenges himself to shatter the limits of lyrical, mental and funkadelic illness - and he succeeds." - The Source, January 1995. Read the full review below...

Dare is an underrated album in Redman's classic catalog.

January 06, 2015

Capone-N-Noreaga "T.O.N.Y." (Review, 1997)

"T.O.N.Y." was the 3rd - and most successful - single release by Capone-N-Noreaga in promotion of their debut album, "The War Report," in 1997 on Penalty Records. The Source featured the single in their Sure Shot Singles section, where Elliot Wilson gives a full breakdown of the record, saying: "To the uninitiated, Capone-N-Noreaga are that other dope-ass duo coming out of the Q borough. Backed by the constant support of their mentor and guiding force, Tragedy, the C N' N crew continue to deliver their brand of street news from an uncompromising, rotten apple perspective. After first garnering attention on the controversial "LA, LA," and then hitting the masses with the double-sided, underground pavement shaker, "Illegal Life/Stick You," the Lefrak-Queensbridge connection are now ready to attack the rap world on a national level. The first offering from their upcoming full-length, War Report, is "T.O.N.Y. (Top Of New York)." Watch the video below, cont'd...

"Produced by Bad Boy entertainment upstart Nashiem Myricks, this ominous but melodic track fits the two MC's perfectly. While many of you are already enamored by Noreaga's word association style poetics, his raspy-voiced, no-nonsense partner Capone also comes equipped to spray the hip-hop nation. He vividly adds his own fresh perspective on the hustling lifestyle: "I did it for the love of cash, your honor / Trafficking across the Verrazano, coke dealing, marijuana / See my persona, glitters in gold / Unlike them other money getters who stack, turn quitters and fold." Continuing to establish themselves as one of rap's most promising duos, Capone N Noreaga are putting together a musical program that you don't want to miss. Stay tuned." You can read the full review below.

January 05, 2015

Tanya Morgan "12 Minutes At Karriem's" (Album Stream)

Tanya Morgan returns with a full stream of the 6-song "12 Minutes At Karriem’s" EP, which features Donwill and Vonpea rocking over beats from Karriem Riggins‘ "Alone Together" LP. The latest out of Brooklynati, the bite-sized project was compiled quickly and released to the world as a belated holiday gift for all of the Tanya Morgan fans itching for new tunes. Never the duo to disappoint, Vonpea and Donwill ply our ears with yet another dose of certified heat. Check the tracks below to stream the project in full via HiPNOTT Records. - via OKP, props to them for the heads-up.

January 05, 2015

Blu "Soul Amazing Part 5" (Mix)

Here's Part 5 in the Blu mixtape series "Soul Amazing." As one of the most sought after MCs for features, many of his best verses are spread out across dozens of projects. This mix series chops and mixes the best of those tracks (usually just his verses, but not in this installment). In this installment, we have tracks with The Alchemist, Big Twin, Evidence, RA The Rugged Man & Tristate, Durag Dynasty, Step Brothers (Alchemist & Evidence), Action Bronson, Killa Kali, Planet Asia, Roc Marciano & more. Stream it below and dig into the tags/archives for the full series of mixes + more.

January 04, 2015

A-Villa "Carry On Tradition" (Album Stream)

"Having taught himself how to produce and being armed with a slew of classic samples, pounding, raw drums and intricate, carefully chosen loops and instruments, Villa’s first solo joint is highly listenable and time-honored without being stale or watered-down."

A-Villa's debut producer album has features from most of the industry's most respected lyricist, including: Killer Mike, Cormega, Skyzoo, Ras Kass, Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, Lil' Fame, Chance The Rapper, Reks, Noreaga, Kool G Rap, Joell Ortiz, Big K.R.I.T., Inspectah Deck, Saigon, Joe Budden, AZ, Havoc, and believe me, a lot more! "Boom Bap-heavy and filled to capacity with both hard-hitting soul samples and some of the most talented emcees in Hip Hop today from the very first track, Carry On Tradition isn’t merely an album that pines for the old school." - HHDX / (Updated: Get the cassette, too! Streaming now available below.) Still a big fan of this LP, props to A-Villa. Dig in below...

January 03, 2015

uMaNg "The Black Rose Certificate" (Album Stream)

"My rhyming equivalent to an And1 mixtape baller." With two full-length albums already under their belts that garnered them buzz in the underground ("Lasting Impressions" & "The Revisited"), New Jersey originated emcee Umang, reunites with Swedish producer B.B.Z. Darney ("The Boom Bappin' Zombie"), to complete their trilogy of albums with their label debut on III Adrenaline Records entitled, "The Black Rose Certificate." Shortly after inking a deal with the label, the next eight months would find Umang & B.B.Z. embarking on a musical journey that would result in their most personal & brutally honest record to date. Over the course of 14 tracks, the duo sonically stick to their traditional "boom-bap" roots, whilst also bringing sounds that range from "darker" to "aggressive," to even more "melancholic." Please stream the project below & peep the back catalog!

January 03, 2015

Hex One & 5th Element "Hologramz" (Album Stream)

Hologramz pairs Epidemic's Hex One with Mic Theory affiliate, and equally voracious producer: 5th Element. With the two not having worked on any new material together since 5th and Epidemic's debut album Illin' Spree back in 2011, this project aims to recapture the essence that first brought them together 3 years ago. It features production that predates their debut album with some beats from as far back as '06-07, as well as some fresh new bangers from 2014. The album is very feature heavy with guest appearances on 8 of its 11 tracks including MC's such as Ruste Juxx, Planet Asia, Prince Po and of course Tek-nition as well as many others. Hologramz has a run time of a little bit over 40 minutes, so it's short enough to keep your attention throughout, yet long enough to be a substantial listen. This album is available in all formats including CD, limited edition splatter vinyl, and possibly a limited run of cassette tapes. Props to Hex One, dig into it below...

January 03, 2015

Prhyme: DJ Premier & Royce Da 5'9" (Album Stream)

Prhyme is the eponymous debut studio album by American hip hop duo, Prhyme, consisting of Royce da 5'9" and the greatest of all-time, DJ Premier. The album was released on December 9, 2014, through their own record label Prhyme Records. The album features guest appearances from rappers Killer Mike, Jay Electronica, Common, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Slaughterhouse, Mac Miller and soul singer Dwele. Prhyme features production by DJ Premier, as well as samples from psychedelic soul composer and producer Adrian Younge." One of the greatest duos of all-time, I'm 100% here for it! Cop it in every format it's released in and however many versions: deluxe, instrumental, etc!

January 02, 2015

Black Rob "Rhymin' & Stealin'" (The Source, 1/99)

"If you listen to today's emcees, anybody within a stone's throw of a mic or within driving distance of a project building professes his/her thugdom - that elusive element of street credibility that continues to have rappers padding their lyrics with "real life" tales of murder and madness. So if the question is, "Will the real bad boy please stand up?" the answer may very well be Black Rob. With roots deeply entrenched in the soil of Spanish Harlem, Black Rob has feet firmly grounded in the streets. His lyrics managed to push through the cracks between the sidewalks to see national sunlight via Mase's "24 Hours To Live" and his own "I Dare You," and now he has an album full of Life Stories to share with the world." In the interview include in The Source back in '99, Black shares that it was Puff who gave him his stage name ... the hold ups between when he got signed to when he's finally set to release "Life Story," future plans, as well as his influences, some back story to his album, reppin' Spanish Harlem, and among other things, how he manages to fit in over at Bad Boy. Read the full interview above and below. - The Source, January 1999. Photo by  Jonathan Mannion.

January 01, 2015

JuiceLand Radio: "House Shoes Mix"

JuiceLand Radio is dedicated to bringing you fresh, vibrant tunes on the regular. Every month they bring an exclusive mix curated by some our favorite DJ’s and musicians from all over. The latest mix is from House Shoes: House Shoes is a world famous DJ, producer, and legendary tastemaker hailing from Detroit, Michigan. Through his work with artists like J Dilla and Danny Brown, he’s helped make Detroit hip hop into a recognizable, consistently sought after sound! Yessir ... his mix includes insane instrumentals from EXT, Flying Lotus, J Dilla, 14KT, DRUGS Beats, Nameless, Oh No, Denmark Vessey, Tuamie, Samiyam, DertFloyd, T-White, M-Phazes, Raj Mahal, Cream of Beats, Knx, Tall Black Guy, as well as his own joints. Turn this mix on and it's definitely gonna kick you in the face. Happy New Year!