November 30, 2015

Chuck Strangers "Albee Square" (Instrumental Album)

Where Brooklyn at? Shouts to Albee Square (Mall). Chuck Strangers of Pro Era keeps his focus on production, dropping this "Albee Square" beat tape to pay tribute to memories of a unique space in time. The 13 instrumentals create a nice vibe wrapped in dusty, lo-fi loops. Catch that vibe below, and don't stand outside the Albee Square Mall too long, you might get took for all your sh!t! BKNY!

November 29, 2015

Foul Mouth "Winner Takes All" (Instrumental Album)

Foul Mouth season has returned! “Winner Takes All” is the highly anticipated follow up to last year’s PIK beat tape “Soul Louis.” This is a continuation of the head nodding, face scrunching soul infused production Foul Mouth has become known for and includes 15 slaps containing Soul/R&B sources, hard drums and ill transitions. Don’t sleep! Cassettes are limited to only 100 copies. Listen below...

November 28, 2015

Mic Geronimo "The Natural" (The Source, 12/95)

"Comin' straight outta "crazy ass Queens" is Mic Geronimo. The latest soldier of the Queens revolution opened heads up with "Shit's Real" a short while back. Now he returns with his long anticipated debut, The Natural. Close listening is a requisite for nearly all of Mic's songs. Slip, and you could miss the entire theme. He's the intricately abstract. Mic's got that Nas, Mobb Deep type flow, but he brings more cadence and expressiveness in his delivery - one that shines on the prior single release, "Masta I.C." Smooth melodic xylophone textures chime in and out as the beat drops and the hook flows: "I'm so high, you so high / I'll be gettin' money 'til the day that I die." Cont'd...

"The album also has a phat remix of Masta I.C." that hits you with totally new dimensions: female vocals, a phat guitar lick and the lyrical prowess of the Lost Boyz' Mr. Cheeks and Freaky Tah. Mic's call and response hooks work for most of the album, but at times the flava becomes monotonous. One workable exception is "Wherever You Are." The joint coats crisp handclap drums with a deliberate bassline and a smooth guitar. Mic the player gots to get high, chill, party with the ladies, have fun with the crew, and if need be, handle his business. Other cuts to peep are "Three Stories High," "Sharane," a phat toe tapper about a shorty goin' for the gusto and "Men vs. Many," which features lyrical appearances by O.C. and Royal Flush. Tho' The Natural possesses an overabundance of skits and intros, Mic Geronimo delivers enough flavors to prove that shit's real..." - The Source.

November 27, 2015

UGeorge "The Many Faces Of" (Album Stream)

"Hailing from St. Thomas V.I., UGeorge is a talent and a force to be reckoned with within the entertainment industry. Being raised by a family of musicians, he is an accomplished singer, percussionist and guitarist and a breath of fresh air in today's copy cat format of hip hop. Deeply steeped in his caribbean culture, he always finds a way of incorporating his influences without seeming pretentious. UGeorge was fortunate enough to be living in New York at the time of hip hop's golden era and has seen the game evolve. From his time of seeing Afrika Bambaataa and the Dynamic Rockers at park jams, to sharing the stage with the likes of Wu Tang and The Pharcyde, he has always kept the music first and thus is reflected in his insightful lyrics. As he frequently says, "If they can't see your vulnerability, they can't really see you". UGeorge is also a part of the super conglomerate known to the world as Soundsci, which includes fellow lyricists Oxygen, Audessey and Supastition. As well as producers Jonny Cuba and Ollie Teeba. His solo record entitled Many Faces of UGeorge, gives the listener a peek into the complex mind of this artist as he attempts to show different perspectives of life through a grown man's eyes." - Press Kit (2015) // Listen to it below...

Original press kit from UGeorge's "The Many Face of UGeorge"

November 26, 2015

Noreaga "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (June/July 1998)

Whut! Whut! exclaims the 20-year-old Victor "Noreaga" Santiago. "It's the slogan I got everyone saying and feeling. It's like What! Whatever! That's the attitude I'm taking." And judging from Noreaga's recent rhyming blitz (including appearances on everything from the Firm's recent "I'm Leaving" to Big Punisher's debut album) and his upcoming solo album, N.O.R.E. (Penalty), that's a whole lot of attitude to check for. "I never had a real job in my life until I signed to a record label," says the half-black / half-Puerto Rican native of Queens who got his first job on the street - running crack at age eight. His premature initiation into a life of crime eventually ended in '91 with an attempted murder conviction for shooting someone in Queens - right after seeing the movie Juice. During his three-and-half-year bid at Green Haven Correctional Facility, Noreaga befriended future CNN (Capone-N-Noreaga) rhyme partner Capone. "I was in a cell, and the only thing that kept me moving was music," Noreaga says. "Hip-Hop is the thing that had me going in jail." Cont'd below...

After his release, he and Capone strong-armed their way onto the scene with their '96 indie single "LA LA" (the East Coast counterstrike to the Dogg Pound's New York New York") and their searing debut album of the same year, The War Report (Penalty). "Nore is the closest thing to Tupac since he died," declares Lance "Un" Rivera, Untertainment Records mogul / hip-hop impresario. "His perception of being a star is what the streets is lacking right now. He's coming across as the brotha that'll say, "Yo, I don't give a f#ck, my rhyme style and lyrics is for brothas on the street, and it ain't for nobody else." And as if rhyming for his fellow street dwellers wasn't enough work, Nore has even helped carpet New York City with his self-designed promotional sticker campaign. "I gotta lot of energy in me," says Noreaga, revealing the significance behind his acronymically titled solo album, N!ggas on the Run Eatin'. "I feel like if I'ma be the rapper to come out from my 'hood, I'ma destroy it. I'm too hungry." Open wide, it's time to feast. (II)" - Vibe, June/July 1998.

November 25, 2015

Smoothe The Hustler "Broken Language" (1995)

"Here comes that Brooklyn aesthetic again - slang talk, crook walk and glock cock attitude. Smoothe Da Hustler, a product of the mean streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn, is poised to big-up the borough lovely with his debut release ... "Broken Language" is the real jewel here. Smoothe pairs up with his brother Trigga to deliver one of the most jaw dropping performances by a duo in some time. The two engage in vintage hip-hop, switching back and forth in an endless series of self-aggrandizing descriptions. As the sinister, sting-adorned track pulses in the background, Trigga and Smoothe strive to metaphorically outdo each other. Trigga: "Your death threater, sender, head spinner, rap beginner, light dimmer, three-knock out count winner / Your gun reacher, bustin' shot teacher, your funeral service church preacher / Your black hearse coffin' seeker." Smoothe: "Camera, the beer guzzler, the slug to your mug tussler, the drug juggler, the crazy thug hustler / The lexus wanter, the chain, ring and bracelet flaunter." Undoubtedly - as summed up quite succinctly by Smoothe - the "hottest n!gga out this winta." - The Source, 11/95. Prod. by DR Period, check it out below...

November 24, 2015

Poor Righteous Teachers "New World Order" (The Source, 11/96)

"There's a new set of rules we shall all have to abide by / the non-lyrical shall be terminated," goes the outro line of "Gods, Earth and 85ers." Hollywood might call it Revenge Of The Intelligent. But Poor Righteous Teachers call it the New World Order. Not just a reference to some master plan for world domination, this LP's title also aims for a shift in hip-hop's balance of power, away from the false prophets of gangsta nihilism, back to the knowledge rap that ruled when PRT first stepped on the scene in '90. The centerpiece of this album are the dozens of tightly constructed dope lyrics concocted by MC Wise Intelligent. There are almost too many to quote ... Wise unleashes lyric after lyric attacking ignorance and negativity in both hip-hop, and the overall Black Community." Cont'd...

"Fellow PRT members Father Shaheed and Culture Freedom also offer significant contributions from behind the boards. Culture brings some reggae flavor to the tight verbals kicked on "Some Tachers, Some Refugees," featuring The Fugees ... But no amount of funkiness could overshadow the outstanding performance of Wise. On New World Order, he's harnessed all his lyrical strength to issue a call to arms. Just like De La and Jeru have done this year, he's let it be known that he's fed up. This teacher's lesson: "Hip-hop has become a species in danger / since rappers turned gangsta." - The Source, 11/96 - Audio for "Dreadful Day" above, and full review in The Source available below.

November 23, 2015

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien "No Need For Alarm" (Rap Pages, 11/93)

"Del tha Funke Homosapien burst into the world of Hip-Hop a full two years ago with his dope-if-often puzzling debut I Wish My Brotha George Was Here. As a cousin of Cube and a member of the Street Knowledge posse, he was given a suitably P-Funky birth. In '93, he returns with his sophomore effort No Need For Alarm. Both Cube and Pooh are long gone from the production credits, and they have taken George and the funk with them. What is left behind on ... Alarm is experimental, difficult and original - this is an album for the hardcore b-boys. Del has the ability to choose odd, quirky beats and has developed a real skill for fast drum matching abstract lyrics. The often-preachy tone of his debut album has been replaced by "a new way to say what is clever," to quote the opening track, "You're in Shambles." In the last year, nongangster Hip-Hop has blossomed in the Bay Area. Both FM20 and the Hieroglyphics (Souls of Mischief, Hobo Junction and Casual) have captured many eyes and ears with their brands of West Coast b-boyism. Del has been very instrumental in this. Many hope that this album will confirm Del's spot at the top of the heap..."

"No Need For Alarm bristles with tight bass lines, jangling pianos, stiff snares and even an occasional cello - you will not have heard any of these beats before. Lyrically, Del has moved into styling, and conceptually he covers the territory of MC concerns in ways that are often new and humorous. "Check It Out" tells of a bad review he received from a dull, too-critical bitch writer. "Wrong Place" tells of the perils of living in close proximity to continual gun-play. For my money the fattest track on here is the posse cut "No More Worries" - a straight Bay Area open-mike session. Del gets mad dap for originality and for sticking to the difficult path of expanding the music. This album is definitely worth the duckets - the more I listen, the more I like." - Rap Pages, November 1993.

November 23, 2015

Eternia "Eternia-ly Yours From The Block" (Daily News, 2010)

"SHE LOOKS like the girl next door but she sounds like she'd knock your teeth out. Quick-tongued hip-hop artist Silk Kaya, who performs as Eternia, has a knack for rhymes and said she found a home in Astoria four years ago after responding to a craiglist ad. Since then she has earned a record deal and recently filmed a series of short music videos titled "Queens Chronicles" in which she offers a glimpse into the neighborhood she fell in love with. "It picked me, I didn't pick it. It was kind of fate," Kaya said. "What it's become to me is a family, a neighborhood, a home, and a place that I don't want to leave." But what makes Kaya so compelling it that she doesn't fit many rapper stereotypes, even though she has shared a stage with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Common."

"Her posse is the middle-aged Italians from her neighborhood whom she calls her family. She packs heat in the form of a Bible and an aqua blue marble notebook that she has filled with verses about deeply personal subjects like domestic violence and abuse. She takes pride in her thrift store wardrobe and jokes that she rifles through the racks in search of her next name-brand bargain every day. "A lot of rappers don't want to be vulnerable. I like being vulnerable," Kaya said. "My music is really life-based, so everything I write about is a diary entry," she added. But Kaya swears she isn't baring her soul for the sake of fortune or fame. "Money is not really the ulterior goal for me. It's just cool to be admired by people I admire," Kaya said. She has already earned that respect of her neighbors, who were awed by her makeshift "Queens Chronicles" performance, which she admits "could have easily gotten shut down." Roberto Merendino, who is featured in the second installment of the three-part series, thinks Kaya is destined for big things. "I think she's going to make it to Hollywood one day," Merendino, 47, said." Cont'd below + the Queens Chronicles, parts 2 and 3...

"Others just hope she doesn't forget her roots if her talents as a rapper catapult her to stardom. "I hope she doesn't forget us when she gets big," said life-long Astoria resident Bill Anastassatos. Next week Kaya departs for a European tour through Italy, France, and Germany that will run through the middle of December. Once she's back in the US, you can bet she'll be back to chatting with her neighbors, sifting through piles of bargain basement clothes and chronicling life in Astoria with her sharp tongue and blue-collar approach to hip hop." - New York Daily News, 2010.

Printed in the New York Daily News on November 23, 2010 (5 yrs ago today). 

November 23, 2015

Snoop Dogg "Doggystyle" (The Source, February 1994)

"Snoop had a lot to live up to. Without asking him we all crowned him king. "He was going to be the one," we told ourselves. He was going to be the one to lead us out of the hip hop wasteland. We placed a heavy weight upon his narrow shoulders, and not wanting to disrespect us, he accepted it. Quite a lot of pressure for a new artist. Quite a lot of pressure for a rookie album. It's not his fault that the album took so long to come out. And it was us, not him, who demanded that Doggystyle embody and surpass the best elements of Paid In Full, Straight Outta Compton, Nation of Millions, Adventures of Slick Rick, AmeriKKKas Most Wanted, Low End Theory, The Chronic, Three Feet High and Rising, and Raising Hell. Last year we underestimated Dre and he surprised us. This year we were at the plate and looking for the change-up. We knew about Snoop's vast rap potential, we knew what Dre's music would probably sound like and we also knew that it would be harder to impress us this time around." - The Source. I could go on and recount the full article in The Source, which doesn't give this classic album from Snoop the 5-star merit it probably deserved (now and at the time), but what do you think? Did "Doggystyle" live up to the pressure of all the classics that came before it? Where do you rank it? Read the full Source review below, but decide for yourself!

Save a copy of the 4-mic review of Doggystyle in The Source below...

November 22, 2015

A.C.D. "Kings Of NY" (12", 1998)

A.C.D. was a hip-hop duo consisting of Ammo & A-Dog from Queensbridge, New York. Their breakthrough track in '95-96 was a joint with Mobb Deep called "Street Life." It got a ton of love on college radio, Stretch & Bobbito ran it for weeks, and I remember both A.C.D. & L.E.S. freestyling and dropping off a demo or two, as well. This "Kings of NY" 12" didn't drop until 1998 on HitList Records. It featured Nature, who was tearing up the mixtape scene and was arguably one of the hottest artists in the underground at the time. Rick Rude produced the record, as well as their second 12" "In The City" and "Mos N#ggaz" in 1998. The duo dropped a few mixtapes in later years, the first of which was "Korna Klaimers," which had a lot of those early records and features to re-familiarize people with their come-up. After that, "American Dream" and "No Witnesses" in 2006 on Black World Entertainment. A-Dog was also one of the 41st side joints from Lakey the Kid. I never asked what A.C.D. stood for, but if you've ever been to court, you might be able to guess? Dig in...

November 21, 2015

Capone-N-Noreaga "The Reunion" (Vibe, 10/00)

"It's been a long time since we've heard Capone and Noreaga together on one album. After their debut, The War Report, dropped in 1997, Capone's legal problems landed him back on the Rock while Nore made a rap star out of himself with two solo records. The Reunion rekindles the magic that first made people love them. This time, CNN are more polished but no less thugged out. Case in point: "Bang Bang" is a chaotic mix of sampled voices and machine-filtered beats with "We're gonna thug this shit out" as a hook. "Gunz and Cash" and "Brothers" mesh smacking snares, solemn bass lines, and spaghetti western-style strings into a hood's-eye view of the wild streets of CNN's hometown, Queens, N.Y." Check out the visuals to "Y'all Don't Wanna" (Updated) // cont'd below...

"CNN show some thematic versatility on songs like "Phone Time" - a faux phone conversation from jail that muffles Capone's voice like the Firm's "Phone Tap" - and "Full Steezy," his ruffneck ballad. Fans of Capone's monotone style and graphic lyrics will be disappointed by his limited appearances on the album, and CNN's standard thug chants get a bit tiring, but overall the duo gives us the volatility we all expect." - Vibe Magazine (October 2000). You can check the full album review below...

November 21, 2015

Wu-Tang Clan "The W" (Vibe, January 2001)

"Remember hip-hop? It was the sound of the streets - rough, rugged, raw, and real - in that you could feel it tickling your neckbone and making it snap. Hip Hop was like crack: The more you heard it, the more you wanted it. Such was the attraction of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the Wu-Tang grimy 1993 debut. In a climate of gangsta posing, the Wu rose from obscurity to steal the hearts of rap fans with their uncompromising brand of hardcore hip hop - reminiscent of rap from 1986-1998. They unleashed that unpolished sound from the basement, sprayed the Billboard charts with bullets, and became the darlings of the rap world.... On The W, Wu-Tang bring it back to the gutter, where it all began, serving up some good ol' New York hip hop in a way that on the Wu can. The W is a dense, demented, 15-song opus that will draw comparisons to the now classic 36 Chambers. One thing that sets this collection apart from practically every other Wu release since 1997, though, is the RZA, who produced the entire album. Whether it's the overmodulated bass shudder on "Let My N!ggas Live" or the offbeat organ riffing on "Redbull," RZA always introduces something different into the mic, layering his tracks like Duncan Hines. Also, while other producers appropriate whole keyboard demo tracks and call it live music, RZA's chops have greatly improved...."

"The guest list on this album also separates it from more recent Wu fare, Nas ("Let My N!ggas Live"), Redman ("Redbull"), reggae singer Junior Reid ("One Blood"), and legendary soul brother Isaac Hayes ("I Can't Go To Sleep") lend their lyrical support. The latter track is a six-minute reworking of Hayes' classic hit "Walk On By," featuring spoken-word vocal stylings by Ghostface Killah, RZA, and Hayes himself. But, in reality, this album belongs to the Clan, who are hungrier than ever on this effort. Redeeming himself from a disappointing second solo effort, Raekwon sounds like the pro we know on "Hollow Bones" ... This album goes against the grain of everything that's going on in rap right now. But if originality, innovation, and a mastery of the fundamentals of beats and rhymes still mean something to people, then The W stands for "winner." - Vibe, January 2001. Do you agree? Or nah?

November 20, 2015

Termanology's "Good Dad Gang" (Support The Movement)

A step back from music for a second to shine light on Termanology's movement, Good Dad Gang. The mission behind it is to recognize fathers and the role they play in children's lives. As a community, they support and motivate each other to be positive role models and be the best parents they can be for their kids. Termanology founded Good Dad Gang last year and is the proud father of two beautiful daughters, Aliyah and Remynisce. I know he does backpack giveaways and makes other important contributions to his community. I also know him to be an extremely loyal friend, as I've seen him roll with the same crew for many years. I had the honor of working with him on Eternia & MoSS' At Last album in 2010 on the title track. Term and his crew rolled through heavy to support the video in Brooklyn at the Fat Beats warehouse and it's always been love. Thankful to Statik for his many BBQs and studio sessions and introducing me to a lot of great people from Boston. This movement has my full support, and I hope you'll cop the merch and get involved however you can. For more information, visit the website HERE. Updated, because that camo hat is FIRE! Cop one.

November 19, 2015

Mobb Deep "Hell On Earth" (The Source, 12/96)

"...You should be aware of two ying-yangish type facts: hip-hop's preoccupation with the gangsta aesthetic is problematic, and Mobb Deep are probably the most intense, most authentic, most powerful practitioners of a specifically Eastern hardcore feel to touch the mic this decade! The duo's second effort, Hell On Earth, is a tour de force. All of the elements that the Mobb have been lauded for - Havoc's pulsing production, P's icily cold poetics, and a creeping sense of aggression that invests the most herb-ivore type n!gga with temporary ice-grill capacity - have been taken to new heights; creating an album that, although lacking a single shot with the body-rocking power of "Shook Ones Pt.2." is a more comprehensive effort than their classic debut. To put it simply, them n!ggas have just gotten better." You can check out visuals to the apocalyptic "G.O.D. Part III" below...

"A Mobb Deep album ain't complete without mad referencing of QBC. The Bridge pervades the album, not only in a contextual sense, but also through the flavorful blessings of several of the Mobb crew, including the infamous Rapper Noyd. Labelmate Raekwon ("Nighttime Vultures"), Wu-Banger Method Man ("Extortion"), and Bridge Messiah Nas ("Give It Up Fast") also add their particular verbal alchemy to the mix.... But this is still a thoroughly Mobb joint, with all its angst-causing glory. 'Cause for every gun skit and sliced-grill, there's a solemn refrain - "I'm tired of living life this way / Crime pays but for how long?" from "Animal Instinct" - and moments of sheer joy in being moved by hip-hop's power. In the end, Mobb Deep may not be the site upon which to resolve the schisms in hip-hop's soul, but them two two brothas shake, rattle and roll said soul like no one else." - The Source, December 1996. (Updated: video changed) // Full review is available below...

November 18, 2015

Stretch & Bobbito Show "Fat Joe & Big Pun" (August 31, 1995)

"I always recorded my guest sets on KCR so I couldn’t for the life of me understand why I wouldn’t have the one Riz and I did when Fat Joe brought up Big Pun for the first time (along w/Armageddon & Keith Nut). Come to find out I forgot to label the tapes with the date. Anyway, seems only fitting to post this today on Pun’s birthday. Joe starts the interview (151:40) and plays some joints off his album before introducing everyone to the mic (167:42). I threw on “Broken Language” and Pun set it all off. Other dope moments were the Pumpkinhead, Natural Elements and O.C./Poops promos that Bob started off the night with before Riz got on (10:20) and showed off (see Nas Remix). Bobbito plays a demo set in the middle of the show (113:15) before Terror Squad arrives and then I close it out (179:22). And what would a Stretch & Bobbito show be without comedy from Lord Sear (228:30) For more insight on this Pun appearance check out the movie Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives." - DJ Eclipse, via his Mixcloud. Listen to it below...

November 17, 2015

Rapper Big Pooh & Nottz "Home Sweet Home" (Album Stream)

Home Sweet Home, the collaborative album from rapper Big Pooh and Nottz: 13 slabs of soulful music and superb bars, released on Mello Music Group. It’s immensely relatable rap about having too many debts on the credit card, trying to make diamonds of out coal, and not being able to afford to eat for days on end. Behind the boards, the two-time Grammy Award winning producer, Nottz annexes a form of boom-bap that hadn’t yet been discovered. It’s what you’d imagine Gang Starr would sound like if they came out in 2015: fueled by battering ram drums and orchestral loops, beatific gospel and raw sinister slaps. It’s not hard to tell why he’s been a go-to producer for Kanye, Snoop Dogg, and Scarface -- or why 9th Wonder once called Nottz, "the best beatmaker on earth." This is an album to remind you of what you left and where you’re going. Home Sweet Home proves that you can go home again, but you’ll meet both the good and the band. The feeling of being around those you love, and the cousins asking to borrow money. Life in all its forms. Dig in.

November 16, 2015

The Notorious B.I.G. "Rap Phenomenon" (Mixtape, 2002)

The first of two "Rap Phenomenon" mixes, honoring hip-hop legends back in '02-03. This is obviously The Notorious B.I.G., and the second installment is 2Pac. Both are timeless, classic mix tapes. Dirty Harry has always been one of my favorite DJs; his blends were always on-point - he linked with DJ Vlad, then known as the Butcher and now a media mogul in his own right with VladTV. There's not much to say here, it's one of the best Biggie mixtapes you can listen to, leaning more towards blends and rare content, as opposed to Mister Cee, who probably has the definitive Biggie mixtape running through his whole catalog. Give it a listen below. Rest In Peace, Biggie. (Updated: new audio link).

November 15, 2015

Bunty Beats "93" (Beat Tape)

A new beat tape from UK producer, Bunty Beats. I think '93-95 is arguably my favorite period in hip-hop, so when I saw his new tape was called "93," I was convinced I'd like it before I even clicked play. I was not disappointed, lol. A boom bap tribute to '93, what more do you need to know? Stream the 17-track beat tape below, and get out those Timberland boots and a hoodie for the occasion. 

November 15, 2015

Raph Rashid "Behind The Beat" (Book, 2005)

Behind the Beat is a look into the creative spaces of producers and DJ's from the US and UK. Featured are the studios and equipment of Madlib, J Dilla, DJ Premier, DJ Spinna, E-Swift, Kut Masta Kurt, Da Beatminerz, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, Chief Xcel, The Grouch, Numark, Cut Chemist, Thes One, J Zone and many more. From the press release: "These photographs are about more than just the equipment. Decades on from hip hop’s birth, producers have an enormous presence, commanding underground and even pop followings. But more often than not, producers are just a name on a record, always in the background. These pictures capture the visual side of the beats they make. They are the images behind the beat." Author Raph Rashid runs a recording label called Crookneck in Melbourne, Australian, and is also co-owner of two clothing labels. While the iconic photographs of the late great J Dilla may be the most popular, the whole book offers exceptional glimpses at some of our favorite producers' home studios, so I recommend picking up a copy HERE!

November 15, 2015

Lord The Arkitec "Listen Closely" (12", 1998)

Lord the Arkitec Listen Closely Royal Flush Mic Geronimo Large Professor Name of the Game

Lord the Arkitec’s ‘Listen Closely’ & ‘Name of the Game’ 12” was released in the summer of ’98 on Bottumz Up Entertainment. ‘Listen Closely’ is considered the sequel to Royal Flush’s underground smash, ‘Worldwide,’ thus featuring Flush, as well as Mic Geronimo and production by Kaysaan. The B-Side, 'Name of the Game (Friends)', is the real gem on this 12" though, with Large Pro on production and Lord the Arkitec shining solo on the track. The entire record is Queens, although I don't know what section Lord The Arkitec is from - could be he's from Flushing, then it'd be a record from the Wastelanz. I don't believe there was a follow-up 12" or any other releases, which is a shame. Anyone know differently? You can listen to the Lord The Arkitec 12" below, but consider picking up a copy of the picture cover release (for a reasonable price) at Discogs, eBay or another reseller. Dig in...

November 14, 2015

The Pharcyde "Labcabincalifornia" (The Source, 12/95)

"Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde was a freestyle session inside a house party, a bubbling mix of ill beats and samples, blunted interludes and endless lyrical gymnastics. The debut introduced us to four sharp-tongued MCs who injected honesty and their own brand of freaky humor into topics not usually touched upon in hip-hop: rejection, fear, even masturbation and herpes. But enormous success and its pressures can be overwhelming, especially if you're more concerned about artistic development and maturity than fame and fortune. Labcabincalifornia is much darker than the Pharcyde's first LP, detailing the strains and stresses of stardom, and the group's struggle to stay true to themselves." Check out the J Dilla-proudced "Runnin," cont'd below... (video link updated)...

"The first three cuts introduce the theme of the album and reveal the group's new musical direction. "Bullshit" and "Pharcyde" are about people who look to others instead of doing for self. "Groupie Therapy" is the first of many joints about female trouble. The production is more straightforward than on Bizarre Ride, with the focus on big bass and drum kicks amongst subtle layers of keyboards and vocal samples. "Runnin'" may be the best example of their new sonic style, a truly beautiful hip-hop song where the distinct elastic flow of each MC weaves over a Spanish-flavored guitar loop and sax sample. But the track that resonates deepest here is "Devil Music." The chorus - "Every time I step to the microphone / I put my soul on two-inch reels that I don't even own" - is a wake up call for every single musician. The Pharcyde's Devil takes several forms: the greedy companies that suck artists' money, the powers that be who want to squash all individuality. But although they know they've sold their souls to him, the Pharcyde are in a constant struggle against this Devil. Labcabincalifornia reflects that effort to establish creative freedom and control. Some might still think of them as the jokers of Bizarre Ride. But they've transcended that image. So while the Devil continues to breathe down their necks, the Pharcyde have used honesty and intelligence to defeat him this time around." - The Source, 12/95. Revisit this classic album HERE.

November 14, 2015

The Roots "Illadelph Halflife" (CMJ, 12/96)

"While many hip-hop and jazz artists were exploring the common ground between the genres, Philadelphia's Roots went one stop further by combining them, approaching the languages of rap and jazz as equal counterparts instead of distant relatives on Do You Want More?!!!??! Eschewing samplers and turntables in favor of a live band, the Roots had the tricky task of winning respect as qualified rappers despite folding their rhymes in abstract, yet forceful jazz motifs. On Illadelph Halflife, the group has, praise God, decided not to make the same record twice. Busting out of the shady corner of a jazz club, Malik B. and Black Thought have made an album that's an unrelenting display of chest-beating rhymes at the fore, with occasional bizarre production twists tossed in for depth and complexity." Check out the visuals to their hit single, "What They Do," cont'd below...

"Right off the bat, "Respond React" keys the listener into its cerebral street style: With titanic beats and a light, melodic layer of jazzy sounds, the cut, like much of the album, features atmospheres in which Malik and Black Thought exhibit their supreme skills, presenting universal hip-hop themes while illustrating life on South Philly streets. Although it's not immediately evident, this is a deep, complex work for the group, and it's the Roots' insatiable desire to grow that makes this such a triumphant release." - CMJ New Music Monthly (November 1996). Revisit the album HERE.

November 13, 2015

Logic x NPR "Microphone Check"

Logic hails from Maryland but now resides in the Los Angeles area. He joins NPR for their Microphone Check interview series about the road to his second album, The Incredible True Story, fending off critics and the language he uses to to remind himself of his blessings and his possibilities. I feel like I'm in a minority of fans (my age) who enjoys his first album and those early mixtapes, but I'm clear that might be where we part ways. I guess we shall see where his music goes, but either way, I dig the Microphone Check interviews and thus, did give this a listen below...

November 12, 2015

Khruangbin "The Universe Smiles Upon Us" (Album Stream)

Taking influence from 1960's Thai funk - their name literally translates to "Engine Fly" in Thai - Khruangbin’s debut album ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ is steeped in the bass heavy, psychedelic sound of their inspiration, Tarantino soundtracks and surf-rock cool. The Texan trio is formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums. ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ was recorded at their spiritual home, a remote barn deep in the Texas countryside where their first rehearsals took place. The band listened to a lot of different types of music on the long drives out to the country but their favourites were 60s and 70s Thai cassettes gleaned from the cult Monrakplengthai blog and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk. This had a heavy impact on the direction of the band, the scales they used and the inflection of the melodies; which coupled with the spaciousness of the Texan countryside culminated in Khruangbin forming their exotic, individual sound. Although the band was conceived as an instrumental outfit, ‘The Universe Smiles Upon You’ features the first Khruangbin recordings with vocals.... "We wanted to make a record that just let the music happen, and we hope that’s what you can hear.” Listen to it below...

November 11, 2015

Nolan The Ninja "F#ck The Hype" (EP Stream)

The title of Nolan the Ninja‘s EP, "F#ck the Hype" was conceived “due to a conscious decision made by Nolan, DJ Soko and Dart Adams” and serves as part concept project, part PSA. The idea behind the EP was to explore how far the music could travel organically without the need for a built-in hype machine; without the politics and bullshit – instead, focusing on what’s most important: the art. As someone who is somewhat relatively new to the “game,” Detroit emcee Nolan the Ninja’s campaign has proven fruitful, with hype built up at the cellular level through carefully crafted singles like “Clockers,” “Gusto” and “Deploi” featuring Phat Kat. The EP features Hassaan Mackey, Finale, Phat Kat and A-Minus, plus production from 5ynoT, DaG, Just Pieces & Jay P in addition to Nolan’s own production. Props to Dart Adams and DJ Soko for their work behind the scenes. Dig in...

November 10, 2015

DJ PF Cuttin "Fly Fishing, Vol.3" (Mixtape)

Fly Fishing Vol.3 is the latest mix tape release featuring the current releases from Chopped Herring Records. The mix is handled by legendary DJ/Producer, PF Cuttin of Blahzay Blahzay. The artwork is handled by Noxer Defense. Volume 3 features artists like Starvin B, Meyhem Lauren, Sandinistas, CeStyle, Memory Man, Juggaknots, Your Old Droog, Zigg Zagg, Mr. Voodoo, The Absouljah, One Deep, Sic Sense, Down To Erf, Timeless Truth, $amhill, and more! As always, cassettes are available in limited quantities at the Chopped Herring online shop - cop one! Props to Bill Lipitch. Listen to it below...

November 09, 2015

A Tribe Called Quest "Midnight Marauders" (HHC, 11/93)

"It's often said that the second album is always the most difficult. But after the walk-over that was "Low End Theory," surely A Tribe Called Quest must have been in something of a quandry as to what to do with number three. Nah, of course they weren't ... "Midnight Marauders" is somehow exactly what you'd expect as the next step in Quest's quest. It's not as stripped down as "Low End..." or as flamboyant as "People's Instinctive Travels," falling somewhere perfectly in between. They've pretty much left the jazz thing alone for this one, preferring beautifully clipped beats coupled with tidy, whimsical basslines.  The first single, "Award Tour," is truly phat, with a wicked chorus-type bit and some of Q-Tip's best shit to date..." Check out the visuals, cont'd below...

"The concept behind the between-track foolishness is typically bizarre. A broken up female voice explains various things, such as the meaning of the title (seven times out of ten we listen to our music at night, and this particular music is meant to be marauding our ears), and other interesting facts, so, yeah they're still crayyyyyze. Generally, though, the lyrics are harder than before, with, for example, Phife sounding positively miserable on "8 Million Stories" and a general dis to frontin' emcees and sell-outs with "Sucka N!gga." "Midnight Marauders" rolls steadily from start to finish and carries real weight all the way. Stylistically, Quest have grown  somewhat tougher, both in terms of their music and their words, and it suits them. They still speak with Native Tongues, but the language has become much more complex." - Hip-Hop Connection, November 1993. A true classic!