April 30, 2015

Black Milk "If There's A Hell Below" (Instrumental Album)

Detroit's Black Milk's 6th solo LP, "If There's A Hell Below," painted pictures from a first person perspective of someone raised and living in one of America's toughest cities, and the ups and downs of pursuing a career in the arts. The stories reflect how he and the people where he's from feel or have felt - if there's a hell below, maybe we're already in it. This limited edition Record Store Day double LP features the previously unreleased instrumentals showcasing the versatility and impact of Black Milk's production. I recommend coppin' the vinyl release, but give it a listen below, too...

April 29, 2015

Death Row Records "Press Kit" (1997)

"Death Row Records is an independently owned, African-American record company founded approximately four years ago by Suge Knight, chief executive officer and former president, Andre "Dr. Dre" Young. The label's artists are among the most popular in the music industry. Its success as an independent record company is virtually unparalleled. Since its inception, Death Row Records has sold approximately 26 million records accounting for gross receipts in excess of $170 million. Although Death Row Records' artist roster includes significant talent in the rap game, it also releases rhythm and blues music. Rap is a style wherein a combination of talking, as well as singing, is set to hip-hop music. Death Row Records' principal artists, most notably Snoop Doggy Dogg, 2Pac and MC Hammer have "crossed over" from appearing regularly on the rap charts to noticeable appearances on the rhythm and blues charts as well. The charts are an expression of the sales and popularity of various forms of recorded music." The company overview and more, cont'd below...

"Much of Death Row Records' music chronicles the observations and experiences of young African-America, often describing situations which occur in the urban ghettos of this country. These observations and experiences represent a part of life in America that is non-mainstream and that the government, prior to the popularity of rap, was able to control, list and keep from the middle class. The current appeal of this music to suburban America has caused great concern to the government, politicians and others, looking to benefit from and capitalize on these events."  - 1997.

April 28, 2015

Lord Finesse "Return Of The Funky Man" (The Source, 1991)

"Lord Finesse made a name for himself in New York the hard way - stepping on stage and ripping up the mic for stubborn audiences that never heard of him. Needless to say, the crowds loved him. After about two years of underground fame, it's time for Finesse to get his props and blow up. Finesse is still at his best rhyming to that 'ole slow tempo, soul clap type of groove. He continues to flow with smooth rhymes and powerful punch lines... Typically, Finesse never steers too far away from how funky he is, and how people that used to dis him are catching the vapors these days. But few other MCs can boast with the skills and conviction of Lord Finesse. Peep it: "When it comes to rhymes I give ya more than ya asked for / bring a whole task force / I rhyme my fuckin' ass off."

"The production line-up includes DJ Alladin, formerly of Low Profile, and two of Finesse's Uptown homeys, Showbiz and Diamond D, while Finesse goes for self on six cuts to create a nice variety of ill flavors. The track that stands out the most by far is the posse cut, "Yes You May," produced by Showbiz. Homeboys Percee P (watch out for him in '92) and Andre The Giant (Finesse's 5'3" freestyle accomplice) each get ill respectively. Suffice to say, Lord Finesse's long awaited second album lives up to its title." - The Source, 1991. Check out the full album review below if you wanna save a copy.

April 27, 2015

Union Blak "Street English" (Album Stream)

The Union Blak duo of Sir Williams and Kimba return with their new album 'Street English' on Effiscienz Records. Following on from the underground success of 'Union Blak Friday,' this new body of work continues the legacy of golden era legends such as Gang Starr, Pete Rock, CL Smooth and De La Soul. With 11 more great cuts featuring the signature chemistry of Kimba's witty, intelligent rhymes and the soulful grit of Sir Williams production, listeners will certainly not be disappointed! Update: it seems their music was taken down from streaming sites, so enjoy their single, "The Truth."

April 26, 2015

I.G.T. “Word To Life” 12” (Vinyl, 2001)

I.G.T stands for Ill Gotten Team; a 4-member group established in 1997 in Roosevelt, Long Island. They were signed to Loud Records from 1998 to 2001 & had joints with a wide range of artists on and off the Loud Records label. This 12” in particular has production from The Large Professor and a feature from R&B singer Horace Brown. The track has a sample from “Don’t Say Goodnight” by The Isley Brothers. The song was released on “Street Music - The Preview,” a sampler from Loud Records, which also included a track with Inspectah Deck & production from the Alchemist, as well as the note “selections from the forthcoming Loud Records release The Alpha & The Omega in stores fall 2001.” I don’t believe the album was ever officially released, however you can listen to it via DatPiff if you’re interested. In the meantime, dig into the full 12" to I.G.T.'s "Word To Life" below...

April 25, 2015

Mobb Deep "The Infamous" (4/25/95) / The Source Review

Mobb Deep The Infamous Certified Gold Advertisement Loud Records
Mobb Deep The Infamous Album Review in The Source

Picking up where we left off, Mobb Deep returned with their sophomore classic, 'The Infamous' on this day (April 25) in 1995 via Loud Records. Looking back, I consider it one of the rawest moments in Hip-Hop; Mobb Deep's sound on 'The Infamous' caused another shift and resurgence in music coming out of Queens. The lead single 'Shook Ones Pt.II' quickly established itself as a classic NY record and connected so well through clubs like The Tunnel that it carried the album through its release in April. In May, they dropped the second single 'Survival of the Fittest' and by late June, the album was certified Gold. On July 8th, Loud Records set up a paintball competition on Long Island with Mobb Deep, Cella Dwellas, a couple members of the Wu-Tang Clan (Rae & Ghost), the staff and local-celebrity DJs. Of course, the DJs took the W! The following day Mobb Deep was presented with their Gold plaque and the Wu-Tang received their platinum plaque for '36 Chambers.' While the bulk of production on the album was handled by Havoc & Prodigy themselves, Q-Tip contributed production and played a highly influential role in mixing and helping to shape the sound. Along with Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface, and Big Noyd, Q-Tip was also one of the few features selected for the album. Credit to Steve Rifkind and Loud Records for being able to find and sign a group that could deliver again after the success of Wu-Tang's debut. Most publications were not willing to stamp 'The Infamous' as a classic at the time, but 20 years later, 'The Infamous' is celebrated for taking fans on a raw journey through Queens with street narratives and some of the grittiest production of the 90s. In 2014, Mobb Deep dropped 'The Infamous Mobb Deep,' a double album with one disc of original music and another with unreleased tracks from the recording sessions from 'The Infamous,' you'll want to check that album out too. Reminisce with "Survival Of The Fittest" below.

April 24, 2015

The Combat Jack Show "Black Rob Episode"

The latest episode of the Combat Jack Show features one of the least spoken members of the Bad Boy Record family, despite having a classic album with "Life Story." Seriously, go back and listen, he came widdit. 20 years later, Black Rob shares early life stories again: from being a motherless child, being a day one in the early days of the Bad Boy conglomerate, his stint in jail, as well as his health, and a timely comeback to the music game. This may be one of only a few interviews I've heard with Black Rob, as I'm sure it is for you too - maybe? - so dig in and learn more about Black Rob below...

April 23, 2015

Slum Village "Fantastic Vol.2" (Vibe Magazine, 8/00)

It's funny how something can fare so poorly in one place and so well in another. Take, for instance, the production of the Ummah's Jay Dee. His sublime melodies contributed to two terribly disappointing A Tribe Called Quest albums. However, his beats match perfectly with Detroit-based group Slum Village (composed of Jay Dee, Baatin, and T3). Why? Because where Tribe was once punchy and attention-grabbing, SV is subtle and understated. Walkman rap versus living room rap, plain and simple. But what is perhaps most puzzling yet amazing about SV's debut, Fantastic Vol.2, is the way the music meshes with the lyrics. Songs such as "Fall In Love," with its serene loops over shuffling, danceable drums, and, of course, Jay Dee's MO of extra-knocking snares, typify the LP's sound. The clear stand-out is the clever "I Don't Know." The trio creates an amusing aural montage by using James Brown's vocal samples to finish the lines. All in all, Slum Village delivers an entertaining LP that's relaxed without being boring. Put your headphones down, lower the volume on your stereo, and prepare for a Zen-like experience. - Vibe Magazine, August 2000. Classic sh!t!

You can save a copy of the full review in Vibe, below...

April 22, 2015

Jeru The Damaja "Interview, Ego Trip Magazine" (1994)

Jeru The Damaja (Ego Trip: Issue 1, 1994)
Jeru The Damaja (Ego Trip: Issue 1, 1994)

A fresh interview with Jeru The Damaja in the debut issue of Ego Trip magazine in 1994. “My name Jeru - Jeru means ‘holy’ and the ‘Damaja’ because I damage all negativity within my surroundings." He adds, "Anybody just can’t do it, you gotta be dope - point blank. If you dope, do it. If you not dope, then you just wasting your loot … I think there’s a lot of corny rappers out here. Straight up. But, yunno, there’s dope ones too, and the dope ones I don’t have to say no names who they are, I don’t have to say the names of the corny ones. I just do my thing, baby, I just do my thing, that’s it.” With an album review also included from Chairman Mao, summarized by: "This summer all real hip-hop fans be advised: Come equipped and take notice of the joyful noise emanating from the land of crooks" - it's a nice reminder of Jeru's outstanding run in the 90s with the help of the Greatest of All-Time, DJ Premier. 2 undeniable classics! Added below is an interview with Jeru The Damaja and Big Lez on Rap City in 1994; check it out and props to Crates Of JR for that link.

April 21, 2015

Saafir "Boxcar Sessions" (Rap Pages, 12/94)

"Every time I try to explain to my O-teliF hsiF aggiN (CVE) how a song or a tape sounds, he makes me stop mid-description and asks the ultimate Hip-Hop question. Simply put, "Do it bump?" But bein' on a da solo this Saturday night, I posed the question to myself, and the answer didn't cum immediately. He flip too fast. He corny. Coulda had better hooks. Tape not EQed right. Boxcar Sessions? Do it bump? Track nine, side one; "Light Sleeper": It bumps like a akkuhpuM. Matter fact, let me rewind and cum correct. Problem was the Hobo Junction is in West Oakland which is foreign territory to me and Boxcar Sessions must be attended with an open mind. We have an unopened door 'n the mirror room of styles. And Saafir loony, not tryin' ta get out - but build'n. A madman 'n' description, who claims to have conversated without a doubt and "if a hoe don't want to give it / I'm like 'ribbit' / And leap to the next freak" ... Dealin' wit fat tracks is a plus, but "making turnikits" from broken English qualifies him detri-mental after a "Swig of the Stew." Article continues below...

"Side Dos pops off a trip to "No Return" followed by a dope-ass interlude by Hobo's Big Nose. Cleanin' up Saafir's "Hype Shit" won't B manual labor either. You'll have to clean yo' soul after the "Battle Drill." As the "Real Circus" loop de loops into the latter portion of the tape, monotony is invited and drones you into a tunneling blow reminiscent of a Joe Frazier left. Though Saafir's delivery may only be appreciable to the Hip-Hop endowed, those equipped with the stamina will be rewarded with a frontin' mug of the Saucee Nomad. Yo, West Coast, it BUMP." - The Source 12/94.

April 20, 2015

Noveliss "Rhyme" (freEP Stream)

Fresh off of his last European Tour, and with the success of the Toonami Tsunami's EP, Noveliss of Clear Soul Forces decided to release physical copies of his Rhyme EP which started it all! With a promise of new music coming soon, check out Noveliss' free 4-track EP, where Noveliss uses beats from the DJ Premier and Royce Da 5'9 collaborative album, PRhyme (2014). He goes in! Listen below...

April 19, 2015

Eternia "Where I Been: The Collection" (April 19, 2005)

Originally released on this day in 2005, Where I Been - The Collection is the debut mixtape from Canadian eMCee Eternia. The 29-track mixtape is mixed by Stylus award-winning DJ Law, bringing listeners up to speed with Eternia's material pre-"It's Called Life". The mix features B-Sides, exclusive joints, unreleased tracks, popular singles remixed, drops, dubs, and overseas collabs. Production by 9th Wonder, Jake One, Tone Mason, Tough Dumplin' Productions, No Mercy Productions, Arythmetic, and appearances by Apathy, Cesar Comanche of the Justus League, Freestyle of the Arsonists, MC Collizhun, G-Knight, Classified, Big O, Tona & more. 10 years later...

Below is the one-sheet used to promote the mixtape's release...

April 19, 2015

Zion I "True & Livin'" (April 19, 2005)

"True and Livin', Zion I's third album, is their strongest to date and stays true to the group's inherently eclectic approach. While past efforts dabbled with drum & bass and delved into melodic electronics and live instrumentation, this organic effort represents the most potent synthesis yet of their spiritually-infused hip-hop. "We wanted to make an album with a little more fire," says Zumbi. "Sometimes people hear our shit and are like, 'It's cool but it's a little abstract.' We kept elements of experimentalism but also tried to make something that hits you right away." MC Zumbi's lyrics are unwaveringly personal and political, addressing the group's Oakland surroundings more explicitly than before. "When we made [our debut] Mind over Matter, we had just moved to the Bay area," says Zumbi. "I was still soaking it up. At this point we've been here like nine years. I think we're a bit more firmly entrenched in what's cracking out here." Continue reading below...

"While Zumbi and Amp Live are in tune with Oakland's present, they are also cognizant of the past; the record connects the musical dots traversing jazz, blues and hip-hop. 'We've found this point where we're definitely not rich as hell, but we love what we're doing and we have a degree of success at it. It's an interesting place, where we are, 'cause we can say anything we want. There's no corporation around us to say anything, so it's like balancing that with being grown-ass men. We're looking at the music as mature adults, but still bringing fire and making it exciting and hype, but not frivolous'." - Exclaim! The album is embedded below, starting with my favorite track, "Bird's Eye View."

April 19, 2015

DJ Premier "Guru 1 Year Anniversary Mix" (Live On Hot 97)

To honor the memory of his partner in rhyme, Guru, Gang Starr's DJ Premier set up shop in Hot 97 on the 1st anniversary of Guru’s passing and played a 2-hour tribute to the late, great Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal on Funkmaster Flex‘s show. The legendary producer/DJ rolled through a plethora of Gang Starr's classic anthems, remixes and harder to find joints. Years later, we still miss Guru's presence and Gang Starr as a group, so dig back into this live mix from DJ Premier. Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal, Keith "Guru" Elam, Rest in Peace .... Gang Starr forever! Dig in below...

April 18, 2015

Chris Read "Classic Material: 1998" (Mix, 2011)

This mix in Chris Read's 2011 Classic Material series pays tribute to the hip hop of 1998, a year often celebrated as the pinnacle of the late 90s ‘Indie’ era. Revered independent labels including Rawkus, ABB, Fondle Em and countless other less well known imprints released some of their strongest material during the year. Major labels were quick to get in on the act with Tommy Boy launching its ‘Black Label’ imprint as an outlet for less commercial sounding output from the likes of Defari and DV Alias Khrist. Notable albums include Black Star’s seminal debut, Tribe Called Quest’s Ummah produced ‘The Love Movement’ and Pete Rock’s star studded solo debut ‘Soul Survivor’.

April 16, 2015

DJ Craig G & DJ S&S "Back To School Shit" (Mixtape, 1993)

This is DJ Craig G & DJ S&S's classic mixtape "Back To School Sh!t, Pt.1" from 1993. The mix tape is a bit muffled as you'd expect from a '93 cassette mix tape, but the track selection carries with it a lot of heat... Joints from Black Moon, Jeru The Damaja, Kool G Rap, Illegal, Da King & I, Redman, Snoop Dogg, KRS-One, De La Soul, Naughty By Nature, Funkmaster Flex, SWV, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, Zhane, MC Lyte, and lots more. School is in session, listen to this classic mix tape below...

April 15, 2015

DJ A-Mu "Canadian Classics" (Mixtape)

Ever just search through the database of Soundcloud? It's amassed so much amazing content over the years, so it's no surprise some quality stuff pops up from time to time and catches my attention. Managing an artist from Canada, it's beneficial to me to be up on the history of Canadian Hip-Hop, in order to pay homage and just to be aware of its rich history in the culture. Here's a nice crash course by DJ A-Mu with his "Canadian Classics" mixtape. As a bonus, it's real gritty,  underground 90s hip-hop, which as a vinyl head checks an extra box that most mixes don't cover. Having a look at the tracklist, it includes some familiar names like Thrust, Frankenstein, Ghetto Concept, Citizen Kane, Saukrates, Marvel, Maestro Fresh Wes, Theo3, D-Sisive, Arcee, but also dusts over another layer with Sic Sense, Da Grassroots, Crooks of da Round Table, Nas-T Howie and more. A-Mu dug in the crates with this one and it's much appreciated, check out Canadian Classics below...

April 14, 2015

Bad Boy Mixtapes "Volume 1-4" (1995-1996)

Puffy started Bad Boy Records in 1993 after being fired by his mentor, Andre Harrell, and he hasn't looked back since. Once Biggie's Ready to Die went platinum, Diddy and Bad Boy went on a run that changed rap forever, positioning the genre as a real force in popular culture. Puff did everything big, from videos, to clothes, to cars. During this time mixtapes weren't free albums with original production, they were a means of promoting new music. So, being the astute businessman that he is, Puff decided to host a string of tapes alongside New York's hottest DJs. The first tape was mixed by DJ Clue?, then an up-and-comer out of Queens who was on his was way to being one of the first mixtape DJs to get a major label record deal. Bad Boy Mixtape Vol. 1 featured some of the most memorable songs ever that were heard for the first time on that tape. The same can be said about Vol. 2, Vol. 3, and Vol. 4, each one hosted by veteran DJs Doo Wop, Stretch Armstrong, and SNS, respectively. They made names for themselves by being able to get exclusive records before anybody else. Before the Internet really took over, this was how hip-hop heads got their hands on new music. - Write-up via Complex. Updated: links were taken down, here are new links by J.Nickelz.

April 13, 2015

T-Max "Relax Your Mind" (12", 1996)

This is a dope 12” out of Boston from T-Max on Damage Records in 1996. All tracks were produced by Danny Wood with a smooth, melodic tempo and T-Max’s buttery flow. With a more aggressive style coming out of the underground at the time, T-Max’s laid back delivery catered to a more conscious audience and wasn’t truly appreciated until many years later when the internet unearthed it and it was covered steadily on 12" blogs. In fact, this 12” received so much attention over the years that Crooked Cat Records was inspired to release 2 full EPs of music last year from material T-Max had recorded back in the 90s. As expected, they sold out quickly. 'Relax Your Mind' and 'Business' are the 2 main tracks on this 12", with a remix to 'Execution Style,' which had a separate 12" release also in 1996 on Damage Records. You can stream/download the full 12" below.

April 12, 2015

Jean Grae "Attack Of The Attacking Things" (Vibe, 9/02)

"Sex sells. Dreams sell. But for Jean Grae (fka What? What?), skills don't pay the bills. On her impressive solo debut she raps, "I got some plastic / But can't even use it, the bad credit's so drastic." But Grae is after respect more than money or power. To that end, Attack of the Attacking Thing is wry and unnerving, and it proves that the narrative finesse this cameo queen has shown on other people's albums is no fluke. Her stories are compelling, from the painfully perceptive gangsta gender bender "God's Gift" to "Love Song," on which she tenderly reflects on her own romantic foibles." Listen to Da Beatminerz-produced "Love Song," one of my favorites, continued below...

"And though she's opinionated, Grae never resorts to vacant sloganeering. For her, political arguments start in "asbestos-filled classrooms." ...While some of the production is lackluster, Grae's lyrical radiance makes Attack exceptional. It's the thoughts that count." - Vibe, September, 2002.

April 11, 2015

Black Sheep "Without A Doubt" (Review, 1994)

"Non-Fiction" is the sophomore album from the Native Tongues duo Black Sheep. The LP had two singles in "Without A Doubt" and "North, South, East, West." The album was produced internally by Dres and Mista Lawnge, with additional production by Salaam Remi on "Without a Doubt." The album had features from Chi-Ali, Showbiz & AG and The Legion. In 1994 when it was released, it really took a while for the album to grow on me, but when I look at the write-up in The Source, it tells me I'm not alone in that sentiment. "A warm, slow bass provides the anchor for Black Sheep's long-awaited comeback single, which comes as a mild surprise. Unlike the hyped part-tempo of "Choice Is Yours," Dres and Mr. Lawnge have returned with some mellow, rollin-in-your ride type shit. "Without a Doubt" takes its own sweet time, and while the decreased pitch initially fails to get the blood boiling, a couple listens will align your mental with the slower groove and lead you to appreciate the flyness at work here." With that in mind - after all these years - I find I have to be in the mood to revisit the album, but whenever I do, I generally find myself throwing it on and listening all the way through. "Without A Doubt" is still the stand-out record, watch the video below, and let me know what you think of the album. Was it a slow-burn for you too? A classic? Y/N? Revisit it below...

April 10, 2015

Q-Tip "Beats, Rhymes & Features" (Mixtape, 2012)

The Extensive Adventures of the Abstract Poetic Q-Tip... the latest mix from Irish DJ and producer, Colm K. Originally released around 2012, this is a fine mix paying tribute to legendary producer and emcee from A Tribe Called Quest. Sure, there have been plenty of mixes in honor of Tip and Tribe, but this mix touches some fine gems from his catalog and its mixed quite well. From solo tracks to features with Janet Jackson, Mos Def, Mobb Deep, The Roots, Nuyorican Soul, The Brand New Heavies, Slum Village, Raphael Saadiq, The Jungle Brothers and even remixes with Nas, Craig Mack, and more. A nice vibe provided by Q-Tip (and Colm K). Revisit it below. Updated the audio link...


April 10, 2015

Brother Ali "The Undisputed Truth" (April 10, 2007)

'The Undisputed Truth' is Brother Ali's third full-length album (4th project), released by Rhymesayers Entertainment on this day in 2007. The article above in Spin Magazine does a good job of setting the stage for the album by providing backstory to the various issues going on behind the scenes in Brother Ali's life. Most notably: a failed marriage, gaining sole custody of his son, and the passing of his mother (R.I.P.), but truthfully, that barely scratches the surface of the depth and honesty of this album. On 'Faheem,' (Ali's son's name), he shares heartfelt words of advice to his son and stresses the sadness he feels leaving him to go on tour. On 'Uncle Sam Goddamn,' Ali takes a stand against corporate America and politics, which is echoed elsewhere on the album, and certainly caused a ripple effect on his career at the time. Essentially, each track on the album serves a purpose and has a greater informed message that will surely resonate. This is, perhaps, my favorite album from Brother Ali, although he continues to raise the bar with each LP, making it harder to settle on a favorite. As the article's title declares, Brother Ali turned bad times into a great album. Ali adds, "If you're really putting your heart into what you're doing, you can't not document that." 

'If I don't like my life I gut it and rebuild it
Fuck it keep nothing but God and my children
I kill the devil wherever he resides
Even if he hiding in me he got to die
I killed little Jason he was only fifteen
Sewed his good traits together made Ali
Filled his lungs with the Qur'an until he breathed
Let him walk but kept him on a short leash...'

April 09, 2015

DJ Krush "Selections" (12", 1997)

Released in 1997, DJ Krush dropped a 12" in advance of his album "MiLight," showcasing more of the Hip-Hop side of what might otherwise be considered a trip-hop or electro album. Diggin' into the underground, DJ Krush tagged Mos Def, Tragedy Khadafi, and Finsta Bundy as featured MCs, along with an instrumental feature from Shawn J. Period. Despite being released on a label that was dance music-focused called FFRR (Full Frequency Range Recordings), "Selections" has all the makings of a classic-sounding boombap 12". Mo Wax Records had a bunch of the DJ Krush and DJ Shadow records, which also makes sense. Anyhow, you can stream all four tracks from the full 12" below...

April 08, 2015

Marlon Craft "Pieces' (Mixtape)

"Pieces" is a free mixtape from Hell's Kitchen's Marlon Craft. It is the first project I'm hearing from him, but there's also a 2013 release from Marlon called "Extracurricular ACTivity," which I'm gonna check out after enjoying "Pieces" some more. The project is 15 tracks long and features borrowed production from some notable producers like Black Milk, 9th Wonder, J Dilla, Havoc and Moods, as well as North Villah, Freddie Joachim, P.R., MF Love, Suff Daddy and Anitek. Marlon Craft is a solid MC, showcasing his lyrical prowess over some well-selected instrumentals. I don't know much about him at this point, but with his talent, it's just gonna take finding the right producers, studying his craft and learning the industry - we've got one to watch in the underground! Listen to it below... 

April 07, 2015

Joyner Lucas "Along Came Joyner" (Mixtape)

I've been following Joyner Lucas since he was Future Joyner, and rolling with the Film Skool Rejekts. The homie DJ Prince put me on, as he mixed their first mixtape and hand-delivered it to Fat Beats to give away to customers. Me and The Audible Doctor liked it enough that we even played it in the store from time to time, so it was no surprise that AMD landed a beat on his 2011 mixtape, "Listen To Me." If the industry welcomes in some new talent, I think he's got a shot making a real impact on the game as I listen to "Along Came Joyner." Songs like "Ross Capicchioni" show his range as a (lyrical) storyteller, painting an incredible visual with the track and he tells me the video is on the way. For now, the lead single is "Mansion," which has a video out currently. Big fan of Praise, who has a track on the project, as well as !llmind, Kato and others. I dunno how to word it, but he's got his sights on more than the underground, the production and many of his patterns tell you so, and I hate to be so much like a backpacker, but with that will come choices musically that don't quite mesh with the sound I gravitate towards. I can hear that in some of these tracks already, so I wish him much success and even if the music outgrows me, I'll still appreciate his talent and I hope he wins!

April 06, 2015

KRS-One vs. MC Shan "Rap Attack" (Spin, 8/87)

"On record, M.C. Shan is the mortal enemy of Boogie Down Productions' Scott LaRock and KRS-One. They've been trading insults and waging a dis fest the likes of which are usually reserved for Yankee/Red Sox games. At stake in this 12-inch war is which borough of New York rules rap. And like any street battle, it's been lowdown and nasty all the way. Shan started it with "The Bridge," a rap celebrating the Queensbridge housing project where he, producer Marley Marl, and Roxanne Shante lived. These claims of local supremacy begat Boogie Down's "South Bronx," in which KRS-One traced the beat back to his home neighborhood in the mid '70s and advised Shan to get his "homeboys off crack." Shan and Marley Marl counterpunched with "Kill That Noise," which intercut the sampled chorus of "South Bronx" with a description of Shan's gun and the threat. "Those who try to make fame on my name die." Boogie Down answered with "The Bridge Is Over," which questioned Shan's manhood more than his sense of history and told the Juice Crew (the umbrella outfit that includes Shan, Marley, Shante, Biz Markie, T.J. Swan, and Mr. Magic) what to suck."

"Though neither side will stick to one version of the facts, both Shan and Boogie Down claim that the feud is confined to vinyl. They even claim to like each other ... sort of. So what gives? Is all the fuss just a publicity gimmick? "Shan's the voice of the Juice Crew," says Scott LaRock, "so he bought the bullet. But our beef ain't with Shan, it's with Mr. Magic." LaRock says the group first met Mr. Magic, a WBLS DJ who airs two of New York's four weekly rap shows, at Power Play studios. They were newcomers, and Magic asked, "Who are y'all n-bombs?" Since then, things just haven't been right. Magic scoffs at the notion of a hip hop feud, but adds that he's under "advisement" from WBLS's lawyers not to discuss any details of it. "I can't play a record where someone's talkin' 'bout me," he says by way of explaining his noninvolvement in this nonfeud; "that doesn't make any sense." One fact that all the parties involved will agree on is that the war is fueling record sales. Both Shan and Boogie Down claim the other's dissing has done wonders for their respective careers. "People want to hear this stuff, they expect it - it's show biz," remarks Shan. The two are waiting to perform together, if the price is right. "Face it, in hip hop, two crews battle each others," waxes KRS One philosophically..." - Spin Magazine, August 1987. (Updated audio links and photograph). 

You can check out the full article in Spin below (click to enlarge)...

April 05, 2015

Tanya Morgan "Moonlighting" (CMJ, 2005 )

Forget Aesop Rock's gripe about journalists critiquing his first eight bars. Tanya Morgan's party flag is flying before the group even nails a couplet: "Y'know, the last time Brooklyn and Cincinnati got together, a classic was made." Assume they mean Talib and Hi-Tek (though Bootsy playing bass for Deee-Lite would also be acceptable), but also assume it means the three MCs have their feet on cardboard and their eyes on the prize. Brooklynite Von Pea and Cincinnati rappers Ilyas and Donwill ("Tanya Morgan" is as much a neo-soul diva as Lucy Pearl or Lynyrd Skynyrd) are tru-schoolers that rhyme ridiculously fast for such tricky rhyme schemes ("Gimme a break / And when it's phat that's shit phat like the cliche I didn't say / Neil Carter for the heart-a comprehension"). Beatwise, it's lo-fi Jay Dee - Slum Village on a slummier budget, Common hanging with us common folk - shimmering despite (or because) of the fact that their turntable wobbles, dragging melodic phrases over the tail end of beats. "Pretty" is like an extroverted Lord Quas fricasseeing Al Green's "Oh, Pretty Woman" into a stuttering snare drum. They do the same Muggsian trick on "We Bad!," rewriting LL Cool J's "I'm Bad" as a cop car doing circles around a cul-de-sac, while the guys get high off their own skills in the back seat. - CMJ, 2005. Check the full album below... (Updated link).

Full review by Christopher R. Weingarten in CMJ New Music Monthly...

April 05, 2015

S.O.N.Y. x United Crates "ODB Sides" (Mixtape)

United Crates (aka The Vinylcologist) and Shout Out New York are back at it with another dope mix! This time United Crates is blessing us with Ol’ Dirty Bastard: The ODB-Sides in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Ol' Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers album. This is a collection of Ol' Dirty Bastard hits, freestyles, and rarities that United Crates has so graciously compiled for us into one mix... for free at that! (No food stamps necessary!) Dig into the Ol' Dirty Bastard mix below...

April 04, 2015

Adagio! "The Break" (12", 1997)

Adagio!, pronounced A-dee-gee-o - they want to be clear on that - are Big Cousin (Carta P aka The Obvious Wonder) & Rayme Supreme. They dropped this fine 12" in 1997 on Emo Recordings. It was their ... 3rd 12" ... I believe, and I recall that promo for Emo Recordings was handled by none other than Al Lindstrom. The NY/Philly group had a solid buzz in the underground scene, alongside the Juggaknots & all the independent records you woulda copped down at Fat Beats at the time. Adagio! stood for "A Definition of Ambition, Goals, Interest and Organization!" To me, the stand-out track on this 12" is "The Break," although the sound quality on the copy doesn't do it justice. In 2014, Heavy Jewelz Records put out Pt.1 of "The Obvious Archives," featuring 6 previously archived tracks where the A-Side was the New York Side and the B-Side was the Philly Side. Listen below...

April 03, 2015

Rapper Big Pooh "Words Paint Pictures' EP (Album Stream)

Rapper Big Pooh has definitely been coming with that heat as of late. His collaboration with Apollo Brown has brought out some of his best solo music to date IMO. After hitting us with a string of leaks, Rapper Big Pooh and Apollo Brown’s collabo EP is now ready for the world to hear. The NC emcee and Detroit producer just released Words Paint Pictures via Mello Music Group. The 9-track EP has features from Ras Kass, Marv Won, Novej, and more. “The project captures the complex agonies of the human condition with themes of race relations and the black experience in America, tales of corrupt politicians, reality TV distractions, substance abuse, thieving preachers and rapacious exploitation –all offset by tremendous strength. Listen to the full project below, then go purchase it HERE. Personal favorites: "Augmentation" and especially "How I Move" with these lyrics:

"Fuck rap when your life's spiraling out of control
But all they wanna know is "When that new shit coming?"
Standing on stage by myself, heart drumming
Pour your soul out, they ain't coming
Step outside box they go running
I'm giving up a piece of me
Open up for a piece to see
It's all peace when you finally free"
- "How I Move"

April 02, 2015

DJ Clue "Spring Pt.1" (Mixtape, 1995)

Taking it back to 1995, this is an early DJ Clue mix tape called "Spring Pt.1." The mix features joints from Junior M.A.F.I.A., Mary J. Blige, The Notorious B.I.G., Kool G Rap, Onyx, Mobb Deep, Smif-N-Wessun, Grand Puba, Rakim, Lost Boyz, Redman, KRS-One, Jeru The Damaja, Naughty By Nature, Chubb Rock, Total and more. Clue started doing mix tapes in 1990 and called his first joint #24 ... Why? Well, in his own words, Clue said: "I called it #24, so people would think I'd been around for a while." By all means necessary, right? The full track list is above, and you can listen to the mix below...

April 01, 2015

The B.U.M.S. / Brothas Unda Madness (Billboard, 4/1/95)

"The album isn't one of those explosive, I gotta-have-it kind of records ... It's a little more cerebral, intelligent, and progressive. We've just got to release it, market it, and keep it out there. We feel that the more people hear it, the more people will want to buy it," says Priority Records' Bryan Turner. Consisting of twin MCs E-Vocalist (E-Vo) and D-Wyze, the B.U.M.S. (Brothas Unda Madness), attempt to shatter stereotypes about West Coast rap sets. On "Lyfe 'N' Tyme" the vocalists build verbal puzzles stacked with crafty metaphors and allusions to pop culture. Over spare, jazzy grooves that swing and spring, they endeavor to expose their souls. Using plain-spoken poetics, the duo takes listeners on a ghettocentric ride from their innocence into sense... Adds E-Vo, "The album is heartfelt. It took a year to put together because we didn't just settle for anything. We were real selective about our beats. And when it came to lyrics, we checked each other, too. It wasn't a matter of frontin' or catering to (the next man's) ego. We tried to create the best product possible." ... The B.U.M.S. are managed by the "Wake-Up Shows" Sway & King Tech... they put E-Vo and D-WYZE together in 1991, when the two were supporting their show. "Sway & Tech started playing the single on their show without back-announcing it or even taking credit for it" ... "Every time they spun it, they get more and more calls." - Billboard, 4/1/95. Promo handkerchief below, hit the tags for more.