Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sckool Yard "Fashion Show" (12", 2002)

Shkool Yard is a Hip-Hop crew from Fresno, CA, originally known as Yard Massive. The Shkool Yard crew is a collection of Planet Asia, Kubiq, Shake Da Major and Supa Supreme. Their EP/LP "A New Beginning" featured 8 tracks as well as an instrumental for each. The production was handled by Joey Chavez, Protest and KutMasta Kurt, who also released the project via his Threshold Recordings in 2002. This 12", "Fashion Show" and "Sit Back & Chill," are both produced by KutMasta Kurt and was the first of two 12" releases from the project. In its simplest form, it's hard beats and dope West Coast rhymes. For people that bought the album, it already came with the instrumentals, so if I were them, I probably woulda added a bonus cut or remix to the 12", but dope nonetheless.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Lootpack "Soundpieces: Da Antidote!" (Spin, 9/99)

"A Tribe Called Quest once defined marauding as "looting for ears," and MCs rap about "loot" more often than they put it where their mouths are. Lootpack put the mic where their mouths are (II), intent on "stealing the minds of those caught up in this wack industry." Good luck. MCs Wildchild, Madlib, and DJ Romes signify from a crinkle in the California map called Oxnard - home to Beat Junkie DJ Babu. While Lootpack debuted on Tha Alkaholiks' 21 & Over, it was "WLIX," from the Liks' potent Coast II Coast album, that left folks katzenjammerin'. In 1999, the 'Pack appeared on Peanut Butter Wolf's "Styles Crews Flows Beats," and that's what you get on Soundpieces: Da Antidote! Madlib, who rivals Bumpy Knuckles for the name you'll love to drop, is another MC/Producer whose crates are often deeper than his battle blurts. But witty tracks enhance the verbs. On "Long Awaited" (with the West Coast's heralded Dilated Peoples), Wildchild sex, "Negative criticism is mad appreciated." Few paper-think-skinned MCs have the wherewithal to make such an 'umble boast. Criticism may be that Loopack sound Lik-like, too similar to LA's masters of spiked punchlines."

"But "Likwit Fusion" brings identity issues to a head with cameos by Alkaholiks and LA history teacher Defari; everyone holds his own. Keeping in lyrical saunter, Madlib disses by the dozens: "Your mom rhymes better than you / She's deaf mute." Elsewhere, his tracks ebb like a soulful dream: Pete Rockish interludes merrily tease, "HA-HA, If you want a beat like this, I got 'em in stock." "Hit You Wit Dat" references kick drums from Busta Rhymes's "Still Shining," stuttering in cadence while tapping your plate with an accommodating Busta blurb. Mystery guest Quasimoto has a suspicious Wildchild flow, yet his helium voice sounds like Prince at the end of "It Was Your Girlfriend." Though rhymes about rhymes can get repetitive after 24 tracks(!), Madlib's well-dug and cohesive production turns LP jabs into zingers... So put down your loot." - Spin Magazine, September 1999.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Heltah Skeltah "Operation Lockdown" (The Source, 6/96)

"Securing their place in the already well equipped Boot Camp Clique, Heltah Skeltah step front and center for the "the ninety now." Each track is sound - fashioned by E-Swift and Mr. Walt respectively - and both fit with the smoked-out, baritone lyrics of Ruck and Rock. The two tracks complement each other and provide a balanced attack like a proper single should. The A-side, "Operation Lockdown," begins with a comical, stimulated narrator whose daydream leads the listener into a circle of hypnotic strings that come at you in seamless waves. From then on the two MCs do indeed "lock it down with the full court press." Their lyrics are compact and concise - each MC building off the other - and flow all the way into the short and unobtrusive chorus." Cont'd below...

"The B-Side, "Da Wiggy," hits with the familiar, brooding, bass heavy Bucktown production that you feel more than hear. Lyrically, Ruck and Rock ("Sparsky and Dutch") flow back and forth with an ease that is only truly manifested between partners in crime, much like their clique compatriots Tek and Steele. These two double team MCs from all angles, promising to "split 'em in half, divide and conquer," and warning, "if I'm bein' polite I'm schemin' like Eddie Haskell." The voice-boxed chorus recalls the "wikky, wikky, wikky" of the old school hit "Jam On It," but unlike the little voice on the Newcleus record, this one doesn't know when to quit. Heltah Skeltah should follow the talented trail blazed by Black Moon and Smif-N-Wessun. So Bucktown heads can carve yet another notch in their rhyme revolvers." - Another Sure Shot Single from The Source, back in June 1996. (Updated).

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A+ "The Latch-Key Child" (The Source, 10/96)

"In general, I feel that emcees who aren't tall enough to ride a rollercoaster shouldn't wield microphones. Far too many infants of hip-hop past have proven to be one-hit wonders, but if 13-year old A+ represents the future of hip-hop, then there's hope. A+ brings no cotton candy rhyme, no walk-in-the-park r&b hooks, no glocks, no blunts, no lies, no curses and no bullshit, just semi-tight tracks and believable lyrics from what may be one of the future's finest. Don't let the fact that he's only 13 prohibit you from giving the album a chance. A+ makes more sense on one track than many of today's more "mature' mic holders do on a whole album. Songs like "Me and my Microphone," featuring Q-Tip on the hook, and "A to Z," featuring the once lyrical AZ, prove this adolescent has caught the attention of today's headliners. To further illustrate the point, listen to "Gusto," the tight album pick featuring Prodigy of Mobb Deep doing a your-turn-my-turn routines with A+ over an eerie bass-n-drum track." Check out the visuals to "All I See," cont'd below...

"The most radio friendly joints on her have to be "Party Joint" and "All I See," both of which ultilize the sample-an-old-school-beat-and-sing-a-hook trend that's been killing hip-hop and R&B; however, an exceptional hook from 14-year old newcomer Shakira on "All I See" should have that joint rocking at its intended targets: parties, clubs... Tracks like "Alpha to Omega," "Parkside Coalition" and "Wannabe Rich" give this album an extra lift towards the "must-have" status. Question: If this kid has caught the attention and respect of today's hip-hop luminaries, will he be able to catch yours? Probably. With a no-nonsense appeal and a no-bullshit rhyme flow, he'll definitely be giving the average 20+ emcee a run for his props. The phrase "age ain't nothing but a number" kicks in throughout this entire album. A+ isn't amazing, but he is impressive. Funny how this kid might just teach some older cats how to properly possess a mic and kick it." - The Source, October 1996.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Anti-Lilly "Memoirs & The 90s" (Album Stream)

Today, on the 3rd anniversary of its release, I am revisiting Anti-Lilly's mixtape, "Memoirs & The 90s." When I first heard it, the content and delivery of this project hit me in a familiar, but indescribable way ... I hadn't felt that particular feeling since Jonathan Kim hit me an advance copy of a then-unknown group and album back in '07: Blu & Exile's "Below the Heavens." I mean that wholeheartedly and to me, there isn't a greater praise I could give an artist, as "Below The Heavens" is thee single best album to be released post-2000, in my eyes. I could hear the talent, the catharsis, the room for growth; and I was sold. I've since spoken to Anti-Lilly online and he's a good dude, definitely someone to support and I think his contributions to music will be felt by those who seek it out. Hit up the tags for more posts and music, especially check his work with Phoniks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Doo Wop "Summer Jam '96" (Mixtape, 1996)

Another classic mixtape from '96 by Doo Wop, "Summer Jam '96." The Bouncemaster highlights tracks and exclusive freestyles from Smoothe Da Hustler, Trigga The Gambler, Busta Rhymes, Rampage, Sadat X, Lord Finesse, Keith Murray, Smif-N-Wessun, Nas, Heltah Skeltah, Uneek, A+, Real Live, Ghostface Killah, Killa Sin, Money Boss Playas, Biz Markie, Heather B, M.O.P. and more. Bus rides in/out of Queens were always about the mixtapes, this was a big one that summer! Updated: Audio.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Co$$ "Before I Awoke" (Album Stream, 2011)

"Long on the humble rise through the mixtape world, with notable verses gracing the efforts of esteemed affiliates Blu, Exile and Seen along the way, Cali representative Co$$ finally slips into his own prime time slot with stellar debut long player Before I Awoke. Showcasing an equally impressive penchant for free-flowing battle rhymes and thought-provoking message raps, the seasoned wordsmith bristles with character as he transitions from the slicked-out mind trips and on-his-grind lyricism of the early going to more pointed discussions of life's meaning and faith on cuts like "What It Is?" and "No Allah." The accompanying team of multi-stylistic beat smiths, among them Fonetik Simbol, Chief and the aforementioned Exile, deliver a no less inspired sonic component, carrying the groove from the modernized West coast funk and electronic chaos of "Da Meanest" and "10-4," respectively, to the late night jazz of "Pot Ash" and broken heart ode "Love Is." The resulting word-sound combination makes for a solid listen, revealing yet another left-coast MC worth watching for." - Exclaim. Released on this day 5 years ago, and it still sounds great!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mystic "Cuts For Luck and Scars For Freedom" (CMJ, 8/01)

"From the onset, Mystic's debut longplayer, Cuts For Luck, sounds so inspired, there's no questioning the vocalist's talent or skills. Her record is so groundbreaking, in fact, that it raises the question about its peers: What's hip-hop about nowadays? Stacked up against ...Scars For Freedom, much of this supposed new music sounds like pure formula. Raging against the norm, Mystic's emotion-soaked, thought-provoking set blends neo-soul R&B tenderness with ruffneck street poetics and quiet funk beats. Drawing on Lauryn Hill's multi-cultural muses, Nina Simone's passion and Tupac's socio-political energy, Mystic paints a portrait of inner-city blues and angst articulated with as much sweet melancholy as poignant wordplay. On softly anthemic cuts like "The Life," "Neptune's Jewels," "Fallen Angels" and "Girlfriend Sistagril," Mystic swirls buttery vocals around direct, hard-hitting rhymes that slap your brain with the intensity of labelmate Bahamadia or a more thoughtful Eve." Peep the visuals to the 12" single, "The Life," continued below...

"As she finds deep emotion in topics both obvious (B-girl sexuality, hard 'hood tales) and not (park barbecues), a hot list of underground producers including the Angel, Spontaneous, A-Plus and the Mountain Brothers' Chops keep the mood constant with a tight offering of sensual organic grooves and downtempo bumps. Cliche as it may be, Mystic's is the sound the next generation of hip-hop." - CMJ (August, 2001). I (still) love this album so much, much love and blessings to Mystic!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Heltah Skeltah "Nocturnal" (The Source, 7/96)

"This seems to be the master plan for hip-hop domination: first, set things off with an undeniable masterpiece, such as Black Moon's debut Enta Da Stage. Next, put on other members of your crew, who proceed to amaze and astound in their own right - see Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin. And then, just when headz are salivating for any piece of work bearing your imprimatur, start your own label and sew things up with more dope product. This is how far Brooklyn's Boot Camp Clik has come in just three short years. The next group up to represent Bucktown is Heltah Skeltah, whose debut, Nocturnal - on Buckshot's own Duck Down Entaprizez - may just vault the Clik into the same category as the other East Coast super crews. Heltah Skeltah is made up of the high-powered MCs Ruc and Roc, who were introduced as two-thirds of the Fab 5 cipher on "Leflah Leflaur Eshkoshka." Make no mistake: these two rip the mic like a two-headed monster, with Ruc's deep-voiced flow perfectly situated as the backbone to Roc's hard-as-nails delivery." Cont'd below...

"The production is also solid, designed to highlight rather than overshadow the MCs. Most of the work is handled by Beatminerz Baby Paul, Mr. Walt and Evil Dee, who create multi-layered soundscapes using ambient samples to prop up the simple drum-propelled tracks. But the centerpiece of this LP still remains the endless stream of tight verses kicked by Ruc and Roc. So far no member of the Boot Camp Clik has slipped up. Nocturnal continues this tradition of dopeness." - The Source, 7/96: read the full review below...

Friday, June 17, 2016

GZA "Mad Genius" (Spin Magazine, January 1996)

An interview in Spin Magazine in 1996 gives us more backstory on the Clan's Genius. "The appointed head of the Wu-Tang Clan, Genius is a product of New York City's hip-hop scene. All of it. Growing up, Genius absorbed hip-hop styles from every borough, as his family moved from Brooklyn, to Queens, to the South Bronx, eventually landing in Staten Island. After his first album, Words From The Genius, bombed in 1991, Genius met up with his cousins the RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard and formed the Wu-Tang Clan with a group of Staten Island MC's. Since then, Genius, who developed a serious work ethic after leaving high school has kept himself busy directing videos, writing songs, and handling the cartel's business interests." While GZA sounds surprised that he's widely considered the "most humorless member" of the Clan, he's certainly seen as the most cerebral and his bars are always razor sharp. Watch the video for "Cold World" featuring Inspectah Deck below.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Capone-N-Noreaga "The War Report" (XXL, Classic Material)

"During the mid-90s, East Coast hip-hop was in danger. The G-funk era was in full swing, and California artists were dominating the charts. To top things off, East Coast-West Coast tensions were at an all-time high, which culminated in 1995 when Tha Dogg Pound and Snoop dropped "New York, New York," a bold diss record complete with a video featuring them kicking down NYC landmarks. Despite the blatant disrespect, East Coast artists remained quiet - that is, until Capone-N-Noreaga (C-N-N), a pair of up-and-coming MCs from Queens who met in 1992 while serving time in jail as juveniles, decided enough was enough. The result was the scathing answer record, "LA, LA," featuring Mobb Deep and Tragedy, in 1996. "There was so much of a demand for an East Coast response to "New York, New York," says Nore today. "So, we threw "LA, LA" out there and people would not stop playing that record. It had a life of its own." Peep the visuals below...

"With the huge buzz generated from the single, the stage was set for C-N-N's highly anticipated debut LP, The War Report. Problem was, Capone caught a weapons-possession charge in the middle of recording and got sent to prison for three years. So, Noreaga was forced to finish the album on his own. Upon the project's release in June 1997, critics hailed it as a breath of fresh air for East Coast hip-hop, and fans agreed, propelling sales past the gold mark. "It was kinda crazy, recalls Capone. "I went to jail without any kinda recognition, and then it's like, I wake up one morning and there I was on TV. I watched my career progress without me even being there." Having branched off into credible solo careers, the Queens co-d's reunite to report on the album that helped bring the East back in the house. Oh, my God!" - XXL. Check out track breakdowns from C-N-N below...

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Jay-Z "Reasonable Doubt" (20th Anniversary Mix)

With a rap career dating back to 1989 including stints as side man to mentor, Jaz, features for the likes of the Dame Dash-managed Original Flavor and Big Daddy Kane, Reasonable Doubt (released June 25th, 1996) arrived late in the rapper’s career for a debut LP. With production from DJ Premier and Clark Kent, plus features from Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G. it sits stylistically somewhere between the dominant underground sound of the mid 90s and the emerging sound pushed by labels such as Puff Daddy‘s Bad Boy records, which would come to define popular hip-hop and R&B into the late '90s. At the intersection between those sounds lies a varied selection of sample material. For this exclusive mixtape produced in association with Wax Poetics, former DMC champion DJ Matman delivers a selection of album tracks, alternate versions, interview snippets and of course original sample material. Listen below as DJ Matman pays tribute to a true classic...

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nine "Whutcha Want?" (Press Release + Video, 1995)

"Coming from the core of hip-hop, the Boogie Down Bronx, Nine delivers his long awaited solo debut single. Formerly known as Nine Double M, he has since dropped the Double M and is now known as Nine. "I was born in the ninth month on the nineteenth day on the year sixty nine, so nine is my cipher," he says. Nine is being billed as "The Number One Contender" since he is going for the hip-hop title with his champion style. Nine has the deepest and grungiest vocals in rap. He first flexed his skills to a national audience for Nervous Records on the underground classic "Six Million Ways To Die" with his then partner Funk Master Flex. Now he has teamed up with his long time producer Rob Lewis of Fed Productions to make his current singe "Whutcha Want?" as well as a debut album coming out in early '95. "Whucha Want?" is a lethal combination of a smooth track with plenty of strings which compliments Nine's rough and raspy vocals. Nine's vocals are rough but he has also has a hilarious sense of humor that comes through in his lyrics. The B-Side of the single, "Redrum" uses a hook from Steven Segal's "Marked For Death" where the dread says "Everybody want heaven but them nah want dead." The track was produced by Tony Stoute for Dead Presidents." - Press Kit, '95.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mr. Voodoo "Lyrical Tactics" (The Source, 6/96)

"If you were to ask the Natural Elements crew 'how many mics have they ripped on the daily?" they probably wouldn't answer, 'cause the numeric system doesn't go that high. This crew of multi-talented MCs have been the underground's best kept secret since the word "slept-on" was invented. Members L-Swift, KA, Charlemagne, newly inducted A-Butta, and of course the infamous Mr. Voodoo, have been making noise on your local underground station for quite some time now. Now the principal of the squad, Mr. Voodoo, comes equipped with his first for-the-public single, Lyrical Tactics." On top of being selected as a "Sure Shot Single" in The Source, Mr. Voodoo's also received "Hip-Hop Quotable" for lines like "See I been dumb lyrical / Ever since they cut my umbilical / So me being wack? / That's non-applicable / A phony rapper's card I'm quick to pull / Rap is filled with despicable MCs that speak the same old predictable..." Listen to "Lyrical Tactics" below, cont'd ...

"Laced with a neck-breaking track from up and coming beat master Charlemagne, Mr. Voodoo doesn't miss a line with his contemptuous flow, mating proper lyrics and clever punch lines that speak volumes on their own: "I'm still the physical, mystical, artistical, individual, making you run your residuals, I'm maximum you minimal..." It's a relief to hear talent like Mr. Voodoo extend towards the outer limits and display the definition of a real MC. To all new students, go home and read side a & b for homework. This month's lesson is Natural E=mc." - The full Source review is below. (Updated)

Monday, June 13, 2016

J1K "School Daze" (Instrumental Album)

J1K is back with another fresh instrumental release, "School Daze." From Mt. Airy, Maryland, J1K drops another 18 instrumentals with this latest tape, sponsored by Producers United. If you haven't checked out his 3-part series of free beat tapes, "The Vault," dig into the archives. Listen below...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Madwreck "東京夜明け" (Instrumental Album)

"東京夜明け" is the latest instrumental album from North Carolina producer, Madwreck. A unique spin on his signature production, this one has a flavor all its own. I don't have any idea what the titles of the track are, or mean, but I'm rocking with it, lol. Dig in and enjoy all 16 beats below...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lacksi-Daisy-Cal "In My Sleep..." (Cassette, 1997)

"In 1997, I put out Lacksi-Daisy-Cal’s “In My Sleep…” cassette. I first met Lacksi-Daisy-Cal (a.k.a. Lacks a.k.a. Ta’Raach) around 1996-1997 at the Impact 89FM college radio station in East Lansing. He was living in East Lansing at the time and would always hang out at the station on Saturday nights during the Cultural Vibe radio show.... Early in 1997, in one of the smaller side studios at the Impact 89FM radio station, Ta’Raach (a.k.a. Lacks) played me a tape of some songs that he had been working on. Needless to say, the stuff blew me away! (These songs would later appear on the “In My Sleep…” tape). It was the best Rap music from Michigan that I had heard in a very long time, but there was one big problem: Ta’Raach didn’t have any plans or motivation to do anything with the songs. Needless to say, it was mind bottling to me how anyone with songs this good could just sit on them and do nothing with them!?! I felt that other people needed to hear his music! So I asked if I could do something with his music. Maybe try and put out a tape for him?  Help to get his name out there? Let his music be heard? I told him of the relative success that I’ve had selling my own mixtapes in local record stores (throughout Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Lansing), as well as online through a smaller “Underground Rap” distributor that used to be out in the Bay Area.... I sold the “In My Sleep…” tapes on consignment to local records stores and through ATAK distribution. I told Ta’Raach up front that I wouldn’t be able to pay him anything… that this was just a promotional gig for me.  I wasn’t in it to make money (in fact, I barely broke even!).... Like all of my mixtapes, this was a DIY/homemade project. I bought all of the blank cassettes, cassette cover stickers, cassette J-card inserts, plastic cases, etc. I printed off all of the covers on my old printer, made all of the copies on my beat up cassette deck, and assembled the “finished products” all by myself. I told Ta’Raach that I was charging people money for the tapes, but only enough to cover my cost. He seemed OK with it. I think that he was just happy to have someone out there promoting him (as insignificant as my efforts actually were)! The good news about all of this was that a few years later, after continuing to make moves, Ta’Raach eventually got signed to a legitimate label… one with real power in the music industry, and a reach that extended all over the world…." - via Phizyx, read his blog for lots more info. By now, you know who Ta'Raach is, I'm sure, but this ended a quest for information after Elzhi shouted out Lacksi-Daisy-Cal on his Out of Focus EP. They'd do work, along with Hodge Podge, who was also shouted out by Elzhi and now goes by Big Tone, as well as Dwele, as the group The Breakfast Club. Free downloads: In My Sleep and Hodge Podge's Earcandy.

Monday, June 06, 2016

De La Soul "Stakes Is High" (Review, 6/96)

"Praise be! De La has returned just in time to restore a little intelligence to this gats-and-blunts polluted rap world. "Stakes is High" does to ignorance what Raid does to roaches. "I'm sick of bitches shakin' asses / I'm sick of talkin' bout blunts, sick of Versace glasses / sick of slang / sick of half-assed award shows / sick of name-brand clothes / sick of R&B bitches over bullshit tracks / cocaine and crack which bring sickness to Blacks / sick of swoll-head rappers with their sickening raps," preaches Plug Two. This song is for those headz who long for the days when rap was still considered a powerful tool of upliftment." (The Source: June, 1996) // Check out the video below.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Grown Man Rap Show "Prince Paul Tribute" (Mix)

The Grown Man Rap Show is hosted by veteran DJs, Paul Nice & DJ Toast. The show is broadcasted live every Sunday night at 10pm to 12am on 91.5 WRPI in Albany, NY. Last night they aired their Prince Paul Tribute on Episode 74. To kick it off, Paul Nice's set mixes original samples along with Prince Paul's production on tracks with Stetsasonic, De La Soul, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Big Daddy Kane, 3rd Bass, Boogie Down Productions, J-Live, Jurassic 5 & Dr. Octagon. In the second hour, DJ Toast steps up and his set is straight hip-hop cuts with additional tracks from Gravediggaz, Resident Alien, The Last Emperor & even more cuts from some of the greatest albums Prince Paul produced on in the Golden Era. A great tribute to one of the most innovative, progressive and conceptual producers of our generation. Now made available to stream, listen below.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Kaotic Style "Get In Where You Fit In" (12", 1995)

You can believe that in 1995, there weren't any Hip-Hop records from Nervous, Wreck, or even Weeded Records that I would pass on purchasing - it didn't matter if I'd heard it or not. Their brand was teflon. Enter Kaotic Style, who I hadn't heard of before I cop'd the 12" to "Get In Where You Fit In." At the time, I assumed Kaotic Style was an MCs name, instead Kaotic Style were two brothers: Scram & Big Grand from Brooklyn, NY. With the heavy, almost anthemic self-production on the track, it was a catchy AND had a lot of knock to it. How I'd missed their previous releases or joints after points back to the fact that it was released on a label I was familiar with or else - short on money - I wasn't able to take a lot of gambles on vinyl at the time, lol. There have been rumors that "The Diamond And The Rough" LP described above in Hip-Hop Connection - which came out split between tracks on the vinyl and cassette as "A Diamond In Da Ruff" - will soon see an official reissue on vinyl and CD. I'll keep an eye out for that, meanwhile listen to the 12" below.