February 28, 2015

The Nonce "World Ultimate" (The Source, April 1995)

"L.A.'s underground scene is blowin' up, and in the midst of it all you have two brothers, Yusef and Nouka, AKA The Nonce. Having already produced and performed with Freestyle Fellowship, as well as working with underground artists such as Aceyalone, Superb and Ganjah K, The Nonce are adding to the West Coast's 'other' flavor, handling both the production and rhymes along the way. The album is a collection of cuts with mid-tempo beats and dominating keyboards with just enough bass to keep your speakers alive. There's also some experimentation going on, resulting in a few weird sounds on cuts like "Hoods Like To Play" and "Good To Go," which sounds like you're sitting in the middle of a swarm of bees. The experimentation isn't bad, but overall it's the beats and the keyboards that carry the production. The Nonce don't fall short on rhymes either. They have a fairly distinctive smooth flow with Sef sounding a little like Digable's Butterfly. Nouka's deeper and more aggressive tone combines well with Sef's not-so-aggressive approach to create an almost harmonizing effect."

"The topics of choice with The Nonce are nothing really new: "The Bus Stops" is dedicated to all of the honeys around the way; "J to the I" is about forgetting the jimmy hat and the real consequences of that mistake. But their style and delivery are enough to make you listen anyways, especially on the album's most solid cut, "Keep It On." The only major drawback of the album may be the slightly corny and unimaginative hooks used on "Good To Go." The hooks tend to take away from the fact that the rest of the track is generally good, which is evidence of talent. While the album is missing a little something, it should help break down the belief that only G-Funk and gangstas come out of L.A., while offering something a little more original and different." - The Source, 4/95

February 27, 2015

Ghostface & BadBadNotGood "Sour Soul" (Album Stream)

"Sour Soul" is a collaboration album between Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood, produced entirely by BadBad & Frank Dukes. The album is 12 tracks, with features from DOOM, Danny Brown, eLZhi, and more. At times, there is excellence shown by Ghostface on the project and sure, the features do the tape justice, but there's also a sense of Ghost fading a bit on the project. Is his heart still in it? You won't be able to judge it for sure on this project, but I'll be watching in subsequent releases. You can stream the album below, and I'm sure the Instrumental release is on its way, too.

February 26, 2015

Jay Le Surgeon "Hands Of Doom" (Mixtape, 1994)

A very rare little bedroom DJ number from the Numskullz' Jay Le Surgeon and DJ Rummage released way back in 1994. The sound quality ain't great but given this was ripped off a tape, probably initially made bedroom style (ie. decks straight to tape recorder and then duplicated tape-to-tape) over 20 years ago, you can forgive a little hiss and muffle! Despite showing its age - it is fair to say that these two UK Hip Hop stalwarts definitely had the skills back then as the cuts and mixes are all pretty decent, if not quite flawless. Props to Deejay Postie for the audio and description - I was looking for the mix and it was already up on his page, so much respect! Listen...

February 26, 2015

J1K "The Vault Vol.2" (Instrumental Album)

J1K is a producer from Maryland. His latest beat tape is the second of three free beat tapes in his series, "The Vault," which features new and stashed away instrumentals from his catalog. I've been diggin' his sound, so I'm down to support and pass along this latest release, do listen to it below...

February 25, 2015

Juggaknots "Re:Release" (Vibe Magazine, April 2003)

"The Juggaknots' out-of-print 1996 debut was a landmark, everything hip hop should be: braggadocious, roughneck, insightful, dirty, challenging, and sly. Miraculously, this extended reissue, which adds nine new and previously unreleased tracks to the EP's original nine, shows sides of the Bronx crew the original didn't. Old cuts like "Loosifa" and the title track are as potent today as they were seven years ago, and dustbin rescues like "Sex Type Thang" find the crew in a comical mood. But the propulsive "Who Makes It Hot" shows they were plenty radio ready, even if the feeling wasn't mutual." - Vibe, April 2003. Listen to "Troubleman" (Updated: the full LP) below...

The original 4/5 review in Vibe (April, 2003) is available below...

February 24, 2015

Superblenders "Blu & Exile + Fashawn" Mini-Mix

An excuse to revisit this mix is hardly needed, but when it came up in the shuffle today, I made it a point to make note and post about it. At the time, Blu, Exile and Fashawn were doing a short tour in Europe, so to promote their concerts and to get in the mood, Superblenders made a mixtape with their favorite music by Blu, Blu & Exile, Johnson & Jonson, Fashawn and C.R.A.C Knuckles. Unfortunately the popular streaming services won't do anything to remind us of the many classic mixtapes that were released over the years, so it's important to keep that culture alive, too.

February 23, 2015

Monk-One "When We Were Fly" (Mix)

The NBA’s leap from cult item to big time coincided with an incredible period of recorded music. It was a golden age of playing above the rim and of buzzer-beaters. It was also a great time for disco-rap-and-soul music hybrids, and of local hits devoted to hoop dreams and its greatest weavers. This mix is a snapshot – of a time, of a groove, of an evolution, and of a basketball fever – courtesy of Monk-One and our collective memory. When We Were Fly features the beats, sounds and voices of A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls, Biz Markie, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dominique Wilkins, Dr. J, G-Mann, Jason Kidd, John Starks, Larry Bird, Kurtis Blow, Magic Johnson, Manute Bol, Marv Albert, Patrick Ewing, Redman, Sadat X, Grand Puba & AG, Shaquille O'Neal, Wu All-Stars, so much more and, of course, the enthusiasm of millions. Listen to Monk-One's ambitious mix below...

February 22, 2015

Cormega "The Testament" (Vibe, August 2008)

"After an affectionate shout out from Nas on 1994's "One Love" and an appearance on The Firm's 1996 hit "Affirmative Action" landed him a brief stint in the short-lived supergroup, Cormega was thought to be the next in a long line of poetic Queensbridge MCs. But after battles with Def Jam, the ex-con's 1996 debut was locked away in the label's vault, unheard by the masses. "Available on the Web for years but not as an official release until 2005, The Testament showcases an MC with an eye for the details, detours and dead-ends of the New York drug game. It should have solidified Cormega's place among a golden generation of 'Bridge-associated rappers. Instead, it's just another overlooked relic of Eastern aggression." - Vibe, August 2008. Fans may not remember that The Testament was highly anticipated at the time, with several tracks appearing in The Source's Fat Tapes section. For the project to have been shelved is still hard to understand all these years later. Unfortunately, The Testament is not available through Spotify, so peep the gem, "One Love" below...

The full album review in Vibe Magazine is below...

February 21, 2015

ChillxWill "Almighty" (Album Stream)

Hailing from Tacoma, WA, Bakersclub member ChillxWill resurrects 90's east coast flavor with his third solo release called, "Almighty." The 13-track full-length finds the skilled emcee rapping about various topics, while the production is throwback-sounding throughout, with Mista Izm, Figub Brazlevic, Wirez, So What?, and Mpadrums providing a constant supply of jazzy and gritty head-nodding boom-bap instrumentals, fully grounded in that timeless golden era sound. Vocal assistance is provided by Bakersclub comrades The 6th Letter, BriskInTheHoue, and P. Blackk. Almighty was originally released via Chopped Herring Records on vinyl, but it's now available on CD and Cassette, as well.  This is a really dope project that I still keep in rotation. Order a copy & stream it below...

February 20, 2015

50 Cent & G-Unit "A History of Violence" (Vibe, 2007)

50 Cent was born in 1975 ... 8 years later, his mother is found dead in her home, due to a mysterious fire. In '94, 50 catches a drug charge ... a month later, while executing a warrant, they find dirt in his Queens home and he's sentenced to 6 months of boot camp in Beaver Dams, NY. 6 years later, he's involved in an altercation with Murder Inc at the Hit Factory ... he suffers a knife wound in the fight. 2 months later - after 50 has recorded and released his hit "How To Rob" - 50 is shot 9 times outside his grandmother's house ... he survives the shooting. 11 months later, in Jersey City, gunmen open fire at 50 and his crew; authorities believed the shooting was directed at 50. A year after that - in 2004 - Young Buck catches a case at the Vibe Awards for stabbing the man who allegedly punched Dr. Dre earlier in the evening. In Feb of 2005, after 50 announces that The Game is no longer a part of G-Unit, an alleged associate of The Game was shot. In February of 2006, Tony Yayo is brought in for questioning over the death of Busta Rhymes' manager, but is never charged. Tony Yayo turned himself in for a separate assault the following year, after its alleged that he attacked the son of Jimmy Henchmen. At the time of this article, the last piece of violence occured in 2007 when Tony Yayo's Queens home is shot up, but no one was hurt. As you can imagine, more has allegedly transpired since, but at this point, who can keep track of it all?

February 20, 2015

Ron G. "Blends #1" (Mixtape, 1991)

The classic mixtape from Ron G, Blends #1, which laid the foundation for R&B vocals over funk and hip-hop breakbeats. This blueprint became an important foundation of music (and mixtapes) moving forward. Originally released in 1991, it features vocals from Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Father MC, Troop, Caron Wheeler, Salt N Pepa, Janet Jackson, Otis Redding, and lots more. A remastered version was released on CD back in 2008, which included the following message: "This is the first time in over 17-years that this tape has been offered back to the public. This CD is from the original recording that Ron G did back in 1991 as a "Play and Pause Mixtape". The sound quality has been re-mastered but you will still get that old school mixtape feel that Ron G was known for making." So... revisit this classic Ron G mix below; one of the most defining mix tapes of our culture...

February 19, 2015

Cover "Underground Flow" (12", 1995)

Cover The Child of Detruction released this 12" in 1995 via Mad Dog Records. Some people might be familiar with the Bronx (graffiti) crew C.O.D. (Children of Destruction). Flipping the Isaac Hayes sample to "The Look Of Love," the production is handled by Michelob who also features on the track. That sample was also used by Special Ed & others around the same time. On the flip side of the 12" is a nice remix to "Underground Flow," credited to Ski for Rok-A-Blok, which is Ski Beatz known for Camp Lo, Jay-Z's "Feelin It" and so many other bangers over the years. There were a few pressings of this 12", including a clear blue vinyl release, which is probably harder to dig up. You can debate which version is the best, the full 12" is available to stream below. There's also a video HERE.

February 18, 2015

Kev Brown & Hassan Mackey "That Grit" (Album Stream)

"Both the Maryland based producer-on-the-mic and the Rochester, NY emcee have previously worked together various times, but this mini-album marks the first time the two embark on a full project. Most boom-bap enthusiasts should already be well acquainted with both Kev Brown and Hassaan Mackey: double threat Kev Brown already showcased his skills on microphones as well as production boards on countless releases and has been dubbed "king of basslines" by fans worldwide. In addition to his solo recordings Kev's credits include beats for heavyweights like Busta Rhymes, Biz Markie, De La Soul, Jazzy Jeff, and Marley Marl just to name a few, as well as handling entire album production for LMNO, Kaimbr, and Raw Poetic. Hassaan Mackey released a string of albums, including a full-length LP with Apollo Brown, and appearances on releases by Oddissee, Kaimbr, The Left and L'Orange.  Recorded during a series of impromptu bus and train trips Hassaan took from Rochester to visit Kev in Maryland, "That Grit" was created with a spontaneous approach, reflecting both Mackey's freestyle background and Brown's proven "random joints" formula. Entirely produced by Kev Brown and featuring his signature bassline-driven and raw but soulful sound, "That Grit" consists of an intro, eight full-length tracks and six instrumentals." Stream the album below...

February 17, 2015

J-Live "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, November 1995)

"Over the last year or so, New York has been struggling to restructure its previously inviolate aura of hip-hop invincibility. The deluge of critical and commercial attention showered upon acts from other locales left many heads in the Apple caught up in conniptions over NY's decreasing significance. For a region used to primacy in the beat and wordplay arena, such slippage was a bitter pill to swallow, a blow to long-set complacency. But NY has been revitalized of late. That impetus, for the most part, has been borough wide. Shaolin's Wu-Tang, Queens' Mobb Deep and Nas, and Brooklyn's Gang Starr, B.I.G. and Boot Camp Clik have all heightened NY's once-waning visibility on hip-hop's increasingly far-flung stage. But Harlem, once the cultural heart of Black New York, has played a curiously reduced role in this effort. Nineteen-year-old Jean-Jaques Cadet - aka J-Live - holds the potential to change that." Check an ill remix of "Longevity," by Tom Caruana, cont'd below...

"J-Live is a genuine wordsmith, a brother cast in the mold of true MCs. His lyrical steelo consists of pointed wordplay delivered in a subtly complex manner somewhat reminiscent of rhyme technicians like Prince Poetry from Organized Konfusion, Large Professor and O.C. On "Longevity" - a driving, uptempo track layered by shimmering vibes and deep, haunting textures - J-Live spits metaphoric breakdowns in a calm, almost nonchalant fashion: "With or without the mic my mind gets phonetic / The mouth gets kinetically energetic / It's simple as your alphabetics / My words you mark and never mock / Long as my name has been Jean-Jaques." "Braggin' Writes" further enhances the old school ethic that runs through J-Live. As a simple kick-snare progression buttered up by frenzied live cutting (done by J-Live himself) provides rhythmic framework, he runs straight through on some out and out battle shit: "I displays my credentials over instrumentals / And my potential, increases at a rate that's exponential / It's detrimental f#cking with my thesis / My penetration's exact, like amniocentesis." Son just may have the jewels to set Rotten Apple's core aglow." - The Source.

February 16, 2015

Da King & I "Tears" (Behind The Scenes Interview)

If you've been following the different blogs I've had over the years, you're familiar with that fact that I post about Da King & I fairly often. Specifically their single "Tears" off "Contemporary Jeep Music" in 1993. I'd purchased the album on cassette, had a couple of the cassingles, but it was the homie Petey Cologne (who later worked at The Halftime Show with DJ Eclipse) who had the 12" and hipped me to the incredibly smooth "Darp Vibe" Remix. I remember vividly popping in the 60 minute TDK cassette, recording a copy and listening back on it for days. Naturally, I eventually purchased a copy, but for a while that dub was all I had. YouTube (in the U.S.) has taken down most copies of Da King & I's videos, you just don't see them - especially not in good quality - but they exist. A few years back, a video clip of Izzy Ice & DJ Majesty was unearthed with behind the scenes footage from the making of the "Tears" video: discussing the record's concept, as well as the meaning of Da King & I, and briefly featuring Jamal of the group Illegal (also on Dallas Austin's Rowdy Records at the time). Lastly, they mention the track "Kingpin" with Pudgee The Phat Bastard, which is snuck on the B-side to "Tears" but is not featured on the "Contemporary Jeep Music" LP. Watch below.

February 14, 2015

DJ Spinbad "Ecko Love Unlimited" (Mixtape, 2003)

Originally released in 2002, this is DJ Spinbad's Love Unlimited mixtape, via Ecko Unltd. Arguably a Valentine's Day mix of sorts, it includes some genre-bending Hip-Hop and RNB-style collaborations. Artists such as LL Cool J, Method Man & Mary J. Blige, Amerie, Musiq Soulchild, J-Live, Michael Jackson & Eve, Janet Jackson & Q-Tip, The Roots & Erykah Badu, Bilal w/ Mos Def & Common, Res & Nas, Notorious B.I.G., The Pharcyde, Chico DeBarge & Redman, Black Star, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Wayne Wonder and more. This isn't some Secret Garden type shit, but it's def for the lover in you...

February 14, 2015

Pharoahe Monch "Lost In Translation" (Free Download)

Pharoahe Monch's "Lost In Translation" is a collection of previously released songs from his solo albums as well as features from 2000 to 2015. Love being the consistent theme birthed the decision for a Valentine's Day 2015 release. Featured on this set are appearances from Justin Timberlake, Jill Scott, Eric Roberson, dEnAuN, Brandon Williams, Sergio Mendes, Will.I.Am, Robert Glasper, Sa Ra, and Mela Machinko. The set also features one new track “Home (HGH)” featuring Phonte’ and Tamisha. Stream below, also available for Free Download, do check it out.

February 13, 2015

Tape Kingz "15th Anniversary" (Mixtape, 2004)

Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Tape Kingz (in 2004), DJ Envy, Green Lantern, DJ Kayslay, Doo Wop, Dirty Harry, DJ Whoo Kid, and DJ Pudgee P collaborated on this Shady Records exclusive mixtape. Along with the mixtape was the message: "Special thanks to all the DJs who gave their time for Tape Kingz 15th Anniversary CD. Thanks to all the DJs that we have featured over the last 15 years. Most of all, extra special thanks to the supporters of the mixtape scene... From the record company execs leaking stuff to the DJs, to the artists who contribute to and support mixtapes and to the fans who cop the CDs." Iain McNee, the owner of Brooklyn-based Tape Kingz, once said: "It's totally illegal, but in rap industry music law, it's totally legal and a vital part of rap music." An incredibly storied tradition of releasing some of the most influential mixtapes, I wanted to post up this anniversary mix for those may have missed it back in '04. The mix features tracks from Big Pun, Fat Joe, 2Pac, Ason, David Banner, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, The Game, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Nas, Papoose, Buckshot, Mobb Deep, The Notorious B.I.G., M.O.P., Joe Budden, and a lot more. Updated audio link.

February 13, 2015

Khrysis "Khrysis On The Board" (Instrumental Album)

The Soul Council's own, Khrysis has released his latest compilation of instrumentals entitled Khrysis On The Board. A decade or so ago, there were two mixed-compilations of instrumentals called Khrysis On The Boards With The Heat, so to be clear, this is a separate release. I believe anyway, lol. Keeping that soulful sound and hard drums, Khrysis has represented North Carolina lovely over the years. His work with 9th Wonder and the Justus League was one of the best sounds to emerge from the mid-2000s. This 21-track project is sure to keep him on the mind of MCs and fans alike...

February 12, 2015

Mobb Deep "Shook Ones, Part II" (The Source, 2/95)

"When you hear that Prodigy and Havoc have returned, this time it's not the West Coast kids from the S.O.C., it's them n!ggaz from Mobb Deep, New York, who pulled cards with butter skills and dragged insiders to "Cop Hell" a couple years ago. While most fans never heard the song, the few who did were hooked. Their music was tight as a prom date; they told the truth: "Hell yeah, n!gga, we wanna kill cops!" No surprise tho', the song was conspicuously absent from their first album on Island Records. Now, to prepare you for their second album, on a new record label, "Shook Ones, Part II" is being released. After Prodigy drops: "I'm only nineteen but my mind is older / and when shit gets for real, my warm heart turns colder," Hav takes his back: "For every rhyme I write, it's 25 ta life / yo, it's a must, the gats we trust, are safeguardin' my life." With hardcore lyrics over gritty, blunt-lighting beats, "Shook Ones..." will compel heads to bob as they release the complete package."

"An eerie guitar fills the track's background and sets the mood as its repetitive, trance-inducing rhythm remains continuous as hard-hitting snares never stop hittin'. It's the perfect background for this young duo that loves to talk noise. Out of all the younguns trying to pop that tough guy shit, none of them really have the lyrical roughness of this team. Featherweight n!ggaz take flight! Mobb Deep, the "official Queensbridge murderahs," are coming..." - The Source. Full review below...

February 11, 2015

Slum Village "Press Kit" ("Fantastic, Vol.2", 1998)

"Slum Village are on the verge of releasing their debut album, "Fantastic Vol.2" into the world. The album is a supreme effort nearly three years in the making, one that christens the Detroit trio as the next generation of soulful, vintage hip-hop. The members of Slum Village have known each other since they were in their teens, having grown up in the same Conant Gardens neighborhood of Detroit. Even though they haven't put out anything beyond a handful of singles, already their peers are singing their praises. In addition to the torch passing by A Tribe Called Quest, everyone from The Roots to Common to D'Angelo have singled out Slum Village for rejuvenating passion in hip-hop music. "Simply stated, if it weren't for Slum Village, I'd quit the business and go back to college," says Questlove of The Roots. Why are there so many guardian angels looking out for a relatively anonymous trio from Motown? "That's a good ass questions," T3 admits. "I guess it's because we're musicians and...we try to make music that other musicians can respect... I think that those other artists feel what we're doing." There's also the fact that Slum Village isn't entirely anonymous; in fact, chances are you've been hearing a variation of their music - and loving it - for years. Producer Jay Dee is also a part of the production team The Ummah, and has helped concoct beats for Q-Tip (Amplified), D'Angelo (Voodoo), Common (Like Water For Chocolate), A Tribe Called Quest's last two albums, classic joints like The Pharcyde's "Runnin," "Stakes Is High" from De La Soul, and numerous remixes for artists like Brand New Heavies and Janet Jackson." Peep "Raise It Up," + cont'd below...

"Slum Village's Fantastic Vol.2 is colored by that same old-school, soul-drenched sound that makes a Jay Dee production instantly recognizable - lush keyboard swells underneath sparse drum taps and funkdafied rhythm stabs - except this time, he's got Baatin, T3 and himself on the mic to compliment the steady-nod feeling. On Fantastic Vol.2, Slum Village reveal a vibrant palette of musical styles: there's the hypnotizing, soul minimalism of "Players" and "Get Dis Money," the post-disco bounce of "What's It All About" (with Busta Rhymes), and the irreverence and acumen of "I Don't Know," where the groups rhymes are integrated with artfully chopped up James Brown phrases. Other guests on the album include Kurupt ("Forth and Back"), Jazzy Jeff, and venerable producer Pete Rock ("Once Upon A Time"), confirmation that Slum Village are a part of that movement in hip-hop intent on being culturally grounded and true to the lineage of great black music." - Press Kit. Revisit the full LP...

 "Sometimes our reality seems to be even better than our dreams." - Baatin

February 10, 2015

Rubberoom "Gothic Architecture" (1995)

As promised, let's take a deeper look into Rubberoom's "Gothic Architecture" project from 1995. The 10-track cassette was released in 1995 on Elastic Recordings. The Chicago crew of both eMCees & producers were celebrated (below) in the second issue of "Caught In The Middle" magazine. Caught In The Middle Magazine was the brainchild of Kevin Beacham (Creator/Co-Owner) and J-Bird (Owner/Co-Creator) and was produced out of Chicago in conjunction with graphic designers, Boom Design. J. Bird managed Rubberoom & if you check out the "Street Theme" post, you can read how J. Bird and Kevin Beacham connected Rubberoom & Atmosphere, as well as how they landed positions at RSE. The review says, "If making dope records is no guarantee of successful stage shows, the same is true the other way around. Fortunately, Rubberoom successfully translate their  live skills to vinyl with their single (promo only) "Synapse Gap" and EP - Gothic Architecture in stores now. The music lives up to the "Gothic" title, creating an eerie, foreboding atmosphere that other groups have aimed for but didn't reach." It further adds, "Weaving in and out of the beats are dissonant washes of sound from jazz and bugged out modern classical and film noir soundtrack type music. The samples are not the usual breakbeat fare. If I heard them in their original forms, I'd never guess it, but the samples are put to create a straight up Hip-Hop sound." Cont'd below...

Praising Rubberoom's live show, the overall review of the album is equally positive and is summed up by, "It's lovely, chaos, anarchy, music..." "Gotchic Architecture" is now available on Rubberoom's Bandcamp page, where the digital version is now 13 tracks, including bonus instrumentals. If you didn't grow up in the Chicago Hip-Hop scene, you may have missed this release, so I recommend you give it a listen below. As always, hit the archives for more and please do follow their breadcrumbs. 

February 09, 2015

Brand Nubian "Everything Is Everything" (Rap Pages, 2/95)

"Mini-markets or bodegas, lowriders or cabs, sunshine or snow. Welcome to the West wit an East Coast perspective. Longtime fans who have followed the evolution of rap's demilegends Brand Nubian may be a little taken aback by the broad musical strength displayed on Lord Jamar and Sadat X's second effort as a duo. Everything Is Everything is not In God We Trust, and it most certainly is not One For All. The album, produced entirely by Lord Jamar (who admittedly is a fan of MC Eiht, Cube, Snoop...and others), wreaks of inspiration and influence from the group's Westside counterparts - culminating in a laid-back, easy-flowing, West Coast "G"-feeling project. The first single "Word Is Bond," hits with an exhibition of hardcore stylistics over a fat jazz track, as does "Step Into Da Cipher," a posse cut spotlighting New York's Serge, Maestro Manny and Snaggapuss. Although concepts get a little cloudy ... Nubian also pull through heavy topical discussions pertaining to the plight of the Black man, proving that their original flavor is not completely left in the dust."

"... Filled with West Coast expressions, sweet female and male backing vocals, live musicians, and, of course, the smart rhyming skills of both Sadat X and Lord J, Brand Nubian return with brand nu vibes and an altogether brand nu sound. But the burning question remains: Is this a genuine bridging of the East Coast / West Coast gap, or is it just another ploy to ... what? Sell records? Fourth-generation Hip-Hoppers may not care, but fans - we want to know." - Rap Pages, 2/95 (Updated).

February 08, 2015

Shabazz The Disciple "Death Be The Penalty" (1995)

Shabazz The Disciple aka Scientific Shabazz is an MC out of the Red Hook Houses of Brooklyn. An original member of the Sunz Of Man, he appeared on "Diary Of The Madman" by the Gravediggaz and dropped "Death Be The Penalty" in 1995, with follow-up singles leading up to his planned debut album in 1998, but it went unreleased. The album "The Book Of Shabazz" finally dropped in 2003, including the old joints and more. Along with work with Freestyle of the Arsonists, he's also done collab work with Killah Priest and most recently, Hell Razah for the release of "Welcome To The Red Hook Houses" in 2008 as T.H.U.G. Angels. Beyond that, there have been some compilations and mixtapes released here and there. A lot of MCs built their style around his flow and messaging, a strong-minded brother with hella bars. Watch the video below discussing his single "Death Be The Penalty," as well as the role religion plays in his music and earlier tracks like "Diary of a Madman." 

Also, check the visuals to "Death Be A Penalty."

February 07, 2015

Big Pun "Rest In Peace" (CMJ, February 2000)

"Rapper Big Punisher, born Christopher Rios, died on February 7 of an enlarged heart and attendant complications. According to MTV News, Big Pun, known for an aggressive rhyming style on the order of Biggie Smalls, was pronounced dead on arrival at the White Plains Hospital in New York at 4pm. He was 28... The Puerto Rican MC came to hip-hop prominence through guesting on records by Fat Joe, Raekwon and the Beatnuts. His debut record, 1997's Capital Punishment, which featured Beatnuts, RZA, Inspectah Deck, Wyclef Jean, Kool G Rap, Noreaga and Busta Rhymes, was certified double platinum, and earned him critical praise and a Grammy. During this time, Big Pun worked with Fat Joe and their collective the Terror Squad. It was 1998's "Still Not A Player," however, that brought him widespread fame. A former basketball player and boxer, Big Pun also hosted the Rap City channel b-ball documentary Soul In The Hole and contributed a song to the soundtrack." Cont'd below...

"Despite his athletic past, Big Pun's weight at the time of death was nearly 700 pounds. His size mad it difficult for him to perform or move about. (According to the Daily News, paramedics had to use a construction dolly to take the rapper to the ambulance.) Though fans and family voiced concern, Big Pun brushed it off. "When a big guy could do something that skinny people can do, it's even more impressive. It looks even better," he told MTV News in 1998. "When you got a fat guy... it'll stand out even more. It's like, 'Wow, I didn't expect him....' Like when (Fat) Joe will rhyme and I'll come out people will think I'm his bouncer and I'll be spittin' ... people are like 'Wow!' Big Pun was expected to release third album, Yeehah Baby, in April. His publicist told the Associated Press that the record would be released posthumously. He is survived by his wife, Liza, son, Christopher, and two daughters, Vanessa and Amanda." - CMJ New Music Monthly, February 21, 2000. R.I.P., Big Pun.

February 06, 2015

Lord Finesse At Fat Beats Opening Day (August 1996)

From DJ Eclipse, a performance clip from Fat Beats grand opening day of the 6th Ave location. Lord Finesse on the mic and DJ Three on the wheels.  You even see the owner of the store Joseph Abajian pop back behind the tables for a minute to talk to Three.  Lord Finesse killed these two verses and had the crowd oohing and ahhing with his punchlines.  It meant a lot to us that Finesse came by because he was the biggest name we had come through all day.  And once again you get a glimpse of some of the other people in the store who were just vibing out to the sounds or waiting their turn to get on the mic. Some classic memories from Fat Beats. Check it out below.

February 05, 2015

Black Moon "How Many eMCees?" (Video, 1993)

Black Moon's "Enta Da Stage" was an important record for me and for New York. For me, the promotion of the album and its eventual release took me from middle school, over that summer, and into my freshman year in High School. My boy's older brother had an advance copy, back when "Who Got Da Props?" was already burning up New York radio from the year prior ('92). When "How Many eMCee's? dropped, it was the summer of '93 and the album dropped in the fall, taking me into a new school and a whole new stage in my life. Due to all the remixes, it forced me to dig more into vinyl; I started making tapes and really was consumed by the culture. Da Beatminerz's production brought a new flavor to the city & as a kid from Queens, that just became what Hip-Hop from Brooklyn sounded like to me. Later, the Wu had 36 Chambers reppin' Staten Island; Nas hit with Illmatic & Mobb Deep with The Infamous for Queens & maybe with all that (and more), Black Moon got somewhat left out the conversation of who originally brought NY back ... but like all things, the first one over the hill takes the hit. I think in retrospect, history remembers Black Moon in its rightful place & the whole Boot Camp Clik has been solidified as legends in the game. Listen below.

February 04, 2015

De La Soul & Teenage Fanclub "Fallin" (Video, 1994)

"Fallin'" is a collaboration between Scottish pop band Teenage Fanclub and hip-hop trio De La Soul. It was released in early 1994. The song was recorded for the Judgment Night soundtrack, which featured other collaborations between well-known rock, metal and hip hop groups. In an interview with LA Weekly, Posdnuos of De La Soul, said, "We actually went to the studio, and they started pairing up different artists, and we could've been paired up with familiar names. But we didn't know who Teenage Fanclub were at the time, so we picked them. When we did the song with them, we were in Scotland, and we had no idea what we were going to do... We're both musicians obviously, so we just started vibing and we happened to be sitting in a little reception area outside the studio, and Tom Petty's "Free fallin'' video came on. I've always been the person in the group, who when he hears certain words I take it and apply it to a certain thing. It started as a joke, hey, let's make a song based off a Tom Petty video. Then Dave said, let's spin it about us falling off as a rappers. So we went to the store, bought the Tom Petty CD, and based it around the song. Then we got the bassline from "Nobody Beats the Biz," the Steve Miller sample, and a snippet of Petty's voice and it came together pretty fast." Check out the lyrics and visuals to this cautionary tale, cont'd below...

"...remember when I used to be dope, (yeah!)
I owned a pocket full of fame
(But look what you’re doing now), Well I know, I know
I lost touch with reality, now my personality
Is an unwanted commodity (believe it)
Can’t believe I used to be Mr Steve Austin on the mic
(Six million ways) I used to run it
I guess Oscar Goldman got mad
Cause I got loose circuits (so loose, so loose)
I be the mother goose with the eggs that seemed to be

February 03, 2015

Common in Rap Pages (February, 1995)

Common (Sense) in Rap Pages (February, 1995) Page 20
Common (Sense) in Rap Pages (February, 1995) Page 21

"With songs like "I Used to Love H.E.R.," Common obviously wants to help guide Hip-Hop to another level. "I'd just like to see Hip-Hop come back to the creativity. I just want the soul back. I want it to progress, but for us to keep some elements that were there back in the days. Like when you heard Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, BDP and Super lover C, it was a feeling that you had that just hit you. It was Hip-hop expression for our people." From Common's feature in the Unsigned Hype section of The Source in '91, to linking with No I.D., and discussing his sophomore (classic) album, 'Resurrection,' this is a solid interview with Common in Rap Pages from February, 1995. Whether he meant 'Hip-Hop in its Essence is Real' or 'Hearing Every Rhyme,' Common's 'I Used to Love H.E.R.' will remain one of Hip-Hop's greatest tracks and metaphors. And, just as it was '95, “We’ve wasted too much oxygen on the never-ending Hip-Hop debate over who’s real and who’s not — “real.” Stop it.

February 02, 2015

Lord Finesse "Diggin' On Blue" (Mixtape, 1999)

Originally released in 1999, this is the Funky Technician Lord Finesse's contribution to the Diggin' On Blue mixtape series. The mixtapes pay tribute to Blue Note Jazz legends, such as Donald Byrd, Ronnie Laws, Ronnie Foster, Brother Jack McDuff, Gene Harris, Jimmy McGriff, Bobby Hutcherson, Marlena Shaw, Lou Donaldson, Lee Morgan and more. By now, I hope you've come to appreciate the influence that Jazz has had on music, especially Hip-Hop, which was birthed from many musical genres. I think Finesse may have overdone it on the shout-outs, but it's still a good mix of music.

February 01, 2015

The Fugees "A New Birth In Hip Hop" (1994)

I seen this OG sticker on an old notebook & had to post it up real quick. It's from back when the Fugees released their debut album in '94, 'Blunted on Reality.' Their lead single 'Boof Baf' didn't connect at all, so it's really thanks to Salaam Remi, who had the hand of God with his remixes to 'Vocab' and 'Nappy Heads' for really giving that album any life. Of course, they'd return with 'The Score,' which was commercially a grandslam. Sticking with 'Blunted On Reality,' I still get good vibes from 'Nappy Heads' and Lauryn Hill's targeted lyrics will forever resonate as social commentary: "Peace to Mr. Magic, things are getting tragic / Now we on some new stuff, I never feared the Ku Klux / My own clan is actin up, I blame it on the Phillie blunt / What you gonna do, kids are acting oooohhhh..." Ya know, I hope she's well, I can never quite tell. The last time I physically saw her perform, it was uninspired, but I've been in this industry long enough to see that to some of our most forward-thinking artists. Lauryn said, "I pay the toll fighting for my own soul," in Vocab below.