September 30, 2016

Lloyd Banks "Bad Weather" (Prod. by ProspectBeatz)

"Recognized by those that never saw me 
It's amazing, how fast you changing, your mass is fading
You pass the blame when.. you hit the bottom, fame forgotten 
Food for thought ain't enough, your brain is rotten 
You praise watching And the backstabbing became a option 
And I'm still popping 
My bold predictions came to play, from all the thinkin'
bout' the hope n' bout the wish 'n bout a way.. out the struggle 
Keep moving subtle 
You win, they hate you You lose, they love you 
That made me leave the room a puddle"

September 29, 2016

OutKast "Aquemini" (XXL Review, 1998) + Rosa Park vs OutKast

"As the release of OutKast's third installment, Aquemini, drew near, fans of the Dirty South were getting a bit antsy, and understandably so. After the funk of their 1994 debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, was followed up with the more subdued, experimental ATLiens in '96, many devotees were left confused as they threw their hands in the ay-er. What would the older, wealthier OutKast do next? Don't stress. Atlanta's finest come correct with Aquemini, a tight third album featuring an eclectic mix of tracks a la their sophomore effort - but with just enough elements of their classic debut to remind you how they got where they are. The backing track used on "Slump" could have come off the first album - rich with bass and easy on the strings and keys. But Dre and Big Boi aren't taking the criticism of their second album lying down: naysayers are addressed in "Return of the G," which features an ominous blend of instrumentals and boom bap."

"Rosa Parks" has a similar tone, as Dre rhymes about buying a new tape from his favorite rapper and hoping that it's jamming. Teamed once again with the Organized Noize production team, Outkast stirs a mix of horns, guitars and percussion on Aquemini that is no less than brilliant on songs like "SpottieOttie-Dopalicious" (a spoken word piece) and "Chonkyfire." And if anyone is still sleeping on these cats' rhyming skills, each of them put all doubts to rest with a ridiculous flow. To top it off, guest appearances from Raekwon on "Skew It On The Bar-B" and Goodie Mob's Cee-Lo and Dre's lady Erykah Badu on "Liberation" gives the album a broader view, but it still remains OutKast's show. Much of Aquemini takes on the serious tone of Hotlanta cohorts Goodie Mob lyrically and musically, yet it's festive enough for folks to appreciate when they just want to marinate." Cont'd below...

Interestingly, while "Rosa Parks" was the first single to Aquemini, it was not released without issue. In March (2000), Vibe released an article, titled: "Rosa Parks sues Outkast and loses." Rosa Parks sued OutKast, their label, parent company and distributor in federal court, "claiming the duo had no right to use "Rosa Parks" as the title of their 1998 party anthem. As punishment, she sought $25,000 and the removal of her name from all OutKast releases," which would have cost at least 6 figures. The federal judge "determined that artistic works that use the names of public figures in their titles are protected from publicity claims under the First Amendment. In other words, OutKast could use Park's name." Vibe ads, "She apparently learned of the song's existence from her minister and soon discovered that "Rosa Parks" contained profanity and the chorus "Ah hah, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus," which she understood to be an insult" ... In a statement, Dre and Big Boi said, "We are pleased that our freedom of speech wasn't compromised but are still saddened that Ms. Park's lawyers felt the need to take this to court.... We respect Ms. Parks and all that she has done for our people and this country." - Vibe, March 2000.

September 29, 2016

Mos Def & Kweli Are Black Star (CMJ, 1998)

"Mos Def and Talib Kweli have made a record to deliver listeners from the tyranny of the Native Tongues posse's new generation. Def and Kweli follow a grassroots approach to lyrical execution here, incorporating a radiant burst of Afro-centric positivity that floats around tight, bouncy rhymes that jab like Muhammad Ali in his prime. Even though Black Star generously borrow hooks from the hip-hop heroes they grew up on like BDP and Slick Rick, these shoplifting tactics are more faithful odes rather than get-money reconstructions, shaped from the imagination of a couple of kids who've been eating, drinking and smoking hip-hop their whole lives. This is an hour-long manifesto made for the sheer love of the craft, a record that will make you realize why the hell you dropped eight bucks on your first rap tape back in the day." (CMJ New Music Report, 11/98). Reflecting back on the album, CMJ added months later, "Mos Def and Talib Kweli truly are the best alliance in hip-hop," with Mos's stylized grainy delivery as yang to the smart, spoken words of Kweli's yin. With a sense of self-determination, the hands of DJ Hi-Tek and the dope single, "Definition," Black Star mapped out hip-hop's future against the template of its past." (CMJ New Music Report, 1/99). With bars like, "At exactly which point do you start to realize / That (life without knowledge is death in disguise?) That's why, knowledge of self is like life after death / Apply it, to your life, let destiny manifest..." Mos Def & Talib Kweli delivered a timeless classic. Check out "Definition" below.

September 28, 2016

DJ Semtex "#5" (Mixtape, 1996)

DJ Semtex is a pioneering DJ from the UK. This mix tape from 1996 was just called "5," but boasts the old with then-new hip-hop. A nice mix of underground gems and real slept-on records from artists like Shabazz the Disciple, Pitch Black, Redman, Smoked Out Productions, D&D AllStars, Big Noyd, Channel Live, Busta Rhymes, Group Home, Puppets of Chaos, Large Pro, Fugees, Jamal, Trigga The Gambler, Lord Finesse, Greg Nice, Ghostface Killah, The Dogg Pound and more. Listen below...

September 27, 2016

Eternia ft. Phoenix Pagliacci "For This Life"

Eternia returns with her signature style of lyrical transparency on "For This Life". Featured on Hand'Solo Records 20th Anniversary compilation "Bassments of Badmen Vol. 3", the new single is a marked departure from Eternia's dark and dusty sonic trademark. Reuniting with "Foul Child" producer A. Beck (aka Mr. Cincinnati), Eternia shares her spiritual journey over rich, rolling production and enlists fellow-Canadian Phoenix Pagliacci to bless yet another Eternia offering with a victorious chorus, reminiscent of Lauryn Hill in the 90s. We've been sitting on this one for a while, I am very glad it found a home and it represents lovely! I believe we originally recorded this in the Fat Beats studio (Brooklyn warehouse). Anyhow, please listen below... and hit the archives for more.

September 26, 2016

A Tribe Called Quest "The Low End Theory" (25th Ann. Mix)

I couldn't wait for this mix to be released! Yet again, the homie Chris Read blesses us with a 25th Anniversary Mix - this time, in celebration of A Tribe Called Quest's sophomore album, "The Low End Theory." There are so many layers of memories attached to this project, it's hard to unpack in words. Fortunately, for fans of good music, you already know that unspeakable feeling. In short, it's nostalgia ... dig into this mix of classic album cuts, alternate mixes and original samples below!

September 25, 2016

Marlon Craft "Survival Of The Fittest" Craftstyle

"I can and I will tell the whole truth
'Cause if my hands is up or down - chances are they won't shoot
But if I was a couple shades darker, In a parka
And was reaching for a starburst
They would leave me with my dome loose
So do the fittest really survive?"

Marlon Craft is a young spitter out of Hell's Kitchen, NY. He's built his buzz off straight lyricism and wordplay, fans catching on through viral videos on FaceBook. With a few independent projects up on Bandcamp now, you can dig into his raw back catalog, but it won't be long before distributors step up and so do the co-signs. I've been around long enough to know which producers it'll be, and I'm not mad at it ... In this New York scene, it's hard to go wrong when it comes to boombap to complement a wordsmith of his caliber. "It's M.Craft from hell's kitchen homie, get to know me / See I was born to do this shit check my initials homie..." More to follow soon, trust me... keep it locked.

September 24, 2016

Will Sessions "Real Sessions" (Album Stream/Download)

On this day 5 years ago, Will Sessions released "Real Sessions," a free 11-track project that featured Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, and Black Milk; it was recorded between 2009-2010 and released in 2011. The press release for the project said, "Before reinterpreting the music for a pretty well known classic hip hop album from NY, Will Sessions produced a series of wildly successful live shows for Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, and Black Milk in their hometown of Detroit in 2009 and 2010. The band had performed dozens of times in previous years within multiple genres–namely funk, jazz, and afrobeat–but had never tackled hip hop until these shows. Real Sessions revisits those performances with 10 selected live recordings showcasing their full 8-piece band recrafting beats from Madlib, J Dilla, Black Milk, Mr. Porter, and Nick Speed; with DJ Dez providing his trademark cuts and scratches. Recorded to multi-track, fully mixed and mastered. Includes an 18-page booklet." It's still dope so I thought I'd (re)share it ... stream it or download for free below.

September 23, 2016

Organized Konfusion "The Equinox" (Rap Pages, 10/97)

"Before 90's Hip-Hop fell victim to all-too-familiar loops, monotonous production and humdrum orators, the gifted Organized Konfusion lyricists, Pharoahe Monch and Prince Poetry, were already prepping heads for the forthcoming stress lurking around the corner. Coming straight outta Queens, New York - a land which already gave us the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Nas and Mobb Deep - Organized Konfusion undertook the task of giving listeners a taste of exquisite verbal semantics. yet, unlike some of their Queens comrades, the duo still hasn't been able to hear the ring of cash registers, due in part to a combo of so-called "Hip-Hop" radio stations and MTV giving them next-to-no love. Sad at it may seem, heads will put notes down on Shaq ten times before they do these kids. Tho' in the hearts of many a trooper, Organized still remain icons, which may account for their well-developed resiliency.... For their third disc, The Equinox, Organized puts forth a bag complete with fresh goodies. You see, Equinox isn't just an LP but it is also a chronicle, as Prince and Monch become the characters Life and Malice, giving heads incite to the duo's kinship from their early, raucous childhood years to their more responsibility-driven adult years...." 

"While taking us through the soundtrack of their lives, the boys also manage to weave into the mix questions regarding self-preservation, temptation and fatherhood, backed by startling production that paints pictures of raw anger, isolation and evaluation, and forces listeners to pay close attention to the business at hand. But while Organized have shown peeps in the past that their lyrical magic isn't lost when dealing with narratives (ie: "Stray Bullet" and "Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken"), some may still lose faith that the flair can be kept top-notch through an entire composition. Sample the festive, head-bobbing "Somehow, Someway," in which Pharoahe, in a fervent chant, picks apart weed-inspired MCs: "Y'all know the unprecedented / without herb every single word would be verbally demented." Equinox is definitely O.K's best effort to date, and tho' most heads may continue to sleep, those who do partake in this venture will undoubtedly find their dough to be very well spent." - The Source, Rap Pages October 1997. Check out the full review below...

September 22, 2016

Brother Ali "Us" (Billboard Magazine, 9/09)

"If you know me, you know I love my family, love my God, proclaims Minneapolis MC Brother Ali at the top of his third album. If you didn't know that, Ali makes sure you do by the end of "Us," on which he holds forth on his Muslim faith, his kids and, in the song "House Keys," how "we really don't need all three of these bedrooms." (The rapper suggests spending the money he and his wife would save by moving into a cheaper apartment at seafood restaurant Red Lobster.) What gives Brother Ali's slice-of-life ruminations their impressive heft is the rapper's eye for everyday detail and the handmade appeal of his vintage funk arrangements. Producer Ant provides him with deeply soulful tracks similar to those he supplies his partner Slug in the hip-hop group Atmosphere. Highlights abound, but the standout track "Best@It" has fiery guest spots from Freeway and Joel Ortiz." - Billboard Magazine, September 2009 (available below). Watch the visuals to the title track below...

Online, HipHopDX gave "Us" a 4.5 star review, saying: "Brother Ali's story is a unique one. Skeptics may wonder how an albino white kid from Minnesota could become one of independent Rap's strongest voices. Yet, Ali stands as one of the genre's most highly-praised artists, defying the odds to make it happen. After battling doubt, ridicule and hardship, he grew out of his teen years with the confidence of a talented emcee and used that same grit to escape from poverty, a painful divorce and strained family ties. All of this has been well documented throughout his previous projects and while his story is an intriguing one, it seems he's ready to shift gears on his latest offering. Now, Ali is transferring his focus to Us, working with longtime collaborator Ant to share the stories of others in an attempt to build on his impressive discography. Marking the release of his third official full-length album, some have doubted that he could satisfy those high expectations. But, that only allows Ali to do what he's always done best: defy the odds..." (Updated).

September 21, 2016

BubbleWild & Jazzquarterz "Spirit Of The Roots"

Germany's Dirty Beauty record label presents you the debut instrumental album from two of the holders of the Golden Era hip-hop traditions - BubbleWild (Ukraine) and Jazzquarterz (Switzerland). The album is called "Spirit Of The Roots" and consists of 20 boombap beats mixed with Jazz, Funk and Soul samples. It was created in honor of the "times long gone, stretching from the deepest roots to nowadays." Listen to BubbleWild & Jazzquarterz's "Spirit of the Roots" album below...

September 20, 2016

Cypress Hill "Black Sunday" (The Source, 9/93)

"About two years ago, the patriarchs of the Soul Assassins family made their platinum debut with a style not geared towards a specific race or religion; its stoneish message was universally received. Since then, hip-hoppers have been eagerly awaiting the return of the Phunky Feel Ones. This month, Cypress is set to settle all those geeking for another hit of the same flavor with a darker sequel, Black Sunday. The entire album is consistent throughout with a formula of ill funk horns, signature sirens, guitar and piano riffs, all laid over lead-bottom bass that you sometimes feel in back of your throat. The production of DJ Muggs and T-Ray creates a perfect stage for the twisting nasal flow of B-Real, and the cartoonish echoes of Sen Dog. The Cypress Hill style is chorus-oriented and without question, hip-hoppers will be chanting... "I want to get high, so high," and "When the shit goes down, ya better be ready" ... from the album's stronger tracks." Cont'd...

"While the first release, "Insane In The Membrane," is cool, it is far from the highlight of the album. Among the best are "When The Shit Goes Down," with a catchy blues guitar riff, and "I Ain't Goin' Out" - both of which are up-tempo, get-amped tracks.... The album is definitely worth buying as it easily rips the frame out of all of those Cypress bandwagon jumpers. If you liked the first album, or the Soul Assassin's sound, Black Sunday is the real deal. While Cypress Hill isn't particularly educational or enlightening, the musical drug they produce does have recreational properties; it creates atmosphere and attitude to enhance your high. So... just lounge and let the bass flow."

September 19, 2016

Cam'ron "S.D.E." (The Source, 2000)

"If you don't catch Cam'Ron on 125th Street up in Harlem, you're sure to find a bootlegged copy of his album. Basically the streets wanted Cam. See, ever since the shake-up at his original record label (Untertainment Records), his sophomore LP, S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs, & Entertainment) was put on hold for over a year, and now that the smoke has cleared, Killa Cam is ready to ride once again - without the carriage slowing him up. From jump, it's obvious that Cam is more comfortable with his verbal acrobatics these days. He vividly flips scenes on tracks like "My Hood" and "Losin' Weight," a track where he and Prodigy (Mobb Deep) break down street life. He spits, "I'm from a cocaine block / With some plain-clothes cops / And the sun don't rise / But the rain don't stop / Ain't no lockouts / The game don't stop / Every month you change your locks / Change yo' spots." Cont'd...

"Then, there's the Nore-assisted "F You At," which should have every thug-recruit screamin' on schemin' at the club. And if that isn't enough to grab the attention of the street inhabitant, there's always "Violence," a bouncy organ-induced track with an appearance by Mr. Trouble himself, Ol' Dirty. Not only does Cam hold his own, but Dirty's performance is classic. Cam'Ron proves that he's versatile with different flavors on S.D.E. He keeps his Dirty South patrons satisfied with the uptempo "What Means The." And he doesn't forget about his R&B fiends, who will be pleased with the '70s funk-inspired "Freak," featuring Ruff Endz. While this album has many sounds, its big flaw is the overuse of Digga's production (12 joints). It all starts to sound too similar after listening to a couple of cuts. Not to worry though: Harlem's beloved son delivers with lyrical lightning on every beat and has enough start quality to pull out another winner well deserving of some shine." - The Source. Video to the lead single, "Let Me Know," above and a copy of the full review is below...

September 18, 2016

Drink Champs Podcast "Dame Dash Episode"

Make some noise for one of the most entertaining podcasts: N.O.R.E. & DJ EFN's "Drink Champs." On their latest episode, N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sit down with the legendary Hip-Hop mogul Dame Dash. Dame shares life lessons on loyalty, honor, smart business, and when to stop pouring the drinks! While it's clear that Dame is the smartest man in the room, he's quick to point out Nore's strengths, as well as his admiration for what he's achieved with "Drink Champs." It's also hard not to notice that deals are made and sealed with handshakes, but Dame isn't Suge Knight in the 90s, I think he does it just to entertain himself, lol. I'd love to play chess with Dame, he's one of the most intriguing minds and disruptors the music industry has ever seen. To me, Dame's interviews with Combat Jack will go down as his best, most personal interviews, but there's an entertainment level to the Drink Champs podcast that is unmatched and could only happen right here, so again ... make ... some ... noise ... for Dame Dash and the Drink Champs! Watch the Dame episode below. Update: Unfortunately, the video link is dead, so audio will have to do in its place. I wonder why they took it down? Hmm.

September 17, 2016

DJ Clue "Springtyme Stickup" (Mixtape, 1996)

I've always enjoyed this particular mix tape from DJ Clue; one of a few from his deep catalog of mixes. Not always my favorite on the technical side, but song selection and remembering back to hearing tracks for the very first time, yeah, it's all taken into account when I listen back on these joints two decades later. Clue's "Springtyme Stickup" was released in '96, and features tracks from Jay-Z, Junior M.A.F.I.A., M.O.P., Heltah Skeltah, Lost Boyz, Onyx, Redman & Erick Sermon, KRS-One & Mad Lion, Smoothe Da Hustler, Big Noyd, Mic Geronimo, Akinyele, Royal Flush, and some smooth R&B cuts from SWV, Case & Foxy Brown, Horace Brown, etc. A nice representation of the diverse sounds gettin' burn in back in 1996, but of course, there was a level of underground not covered, you had to hit Fat Beats for that, lol. Listen to the mix tape below. Props again to the homie DJStepOne.

September 16, 2016

Artifacts "Between A Rock and a Hard Place" (Rap Pages, '94)

Too often unsung and un-MCeed are the masters of markers and the aerosol-ballers with the gall. While this art has been tagged "graffiti" by aboveground clowns who can't even comprehend a tag, Newark's Artifacts highlight the maligned discipline in their debut single, "Wrong Side of da Tracks." In fact, Tame One has been writing since '80, as he and cohort El The Sensei dwelled on Hip-Hop in Jersey's Brick City. The album Between a Rock and a Hard Place exudes Hip-Hop culture as daily existence -- surviving on the spirited sustenance of its four essential food group: DJs, MCs, breakers and bombers. Thus, the obligatory anthem "Whayback" gives respect to Marley Marl, Biz Markie, Rock Steady, BDP and that ephemeral Graffiti Rock episode -- which had a shorter run than Jim Brown's Dirty Dozen dash. Lyrically, El The Sensei and Tame One flow best in battling mode cuts like "Flex Wit Da Tech(nique)," "Whassup Now Muthaf#cka" and "Cummin' Thru Ya F--kin Block," which features Redman on mic and boards. With T-Ray doing a majority of the production, you'll hear a nice but standard scheme of stealthy bass lines and haunted horns. But where's the freaking turntable tweaking? DJ Buckwild briefly retorts in "C'Mon Wit Da Git Down." However, within the frayed context of what we're hearing today, the Artifacts' record unloads mind-blowing cuts squished in between conservative tracks (you get a "blunt" song, a "female" song, etc). Yet Artifacts will make your head nod. The skills, combined with loyalty, are there, and that'll hopefully yield bolder endeavors in the future. - Rap Pages, 1994. Revisit Between a Rock and a Hard Place below...

The full Review in Rap Pages (1994) is below...

September 15, 2016

Redman "Whut Thee Album?" (Classic Material, XXL)

Although known to the world as an unpredictable, skilled and hilarious MC, Redman came up in hip-hop as a DJ, around age 12... While DJing in clubs around his hometown of Newark, NJ, MCing was always in the back of Red's mind. He recalls: "I always kind of wanted to MC, but I really got into it when I heard EPMD and Biz Markie. I knew that I had that same energy inside me. Everybody else was more technical, but EPMD was more slow with their flow, natural." As fate would have it, Redman met his idols in '91, at a Newark club called Sensations. DJing at the time for Newark MC DoItAll (from Lords of the Underground), Redman stood in the back as his friends took turns freestyling for Erick and Parrish before the show, trying to impress the two, who had recently begun building their Hit Squad family. "My boys told Erick I could rap, too, so E asked me to freestyle. I started spittin' and EPMD put me on stage that night." Shortly after bringing him on tour with them (he doubled as K-Solo's DJ), Erick and Parrish hit up Def Jam for a Redman LP deal... The album was mostly recorded at Charlie Marotta's North Shore Soundworks studio on Long Island. E Sermon oversaw the process, but Redman was left to figure out things on his own more often than not. "I was under a lot of pressure to learn," Redman remembers. "E showed me a couple (of recording) moves, threw me in the studio and just left me there. But I picked up shit real quick, and Erick was always around if I needed him." After a couple months in the lab, Redman emerged with a killer piece of wax that mixed loose-limbed humor and deeply funky beats lived up to the new layers to the Hit Squad sound. Released in September '92 the LP went gold behind hit singles "Blow Your Mind" and "Time 4 Sum Aksion." The Sooperman Lover tells us how he freaked the funky fly stuff on his debut..." cont'd below via Classic Material in XXL by Brian Coleman. Click play, too!

The full Classic Material feature in XXL is below...

September 14, 2016

Dirty Harry x Nas "Living Legends" (Mixtape, 2006)

"Living Legends" is the award-winning mixtape from Mike Harry p.k.a. DJ Dirty Harry. It was released in 2006, featuring over three dozen joints stretching through Nas' extensive catalog, remaking several classics, slept-on joints and album cuts that now feature artists like Maino, Papoose, Busta Rhymes, Quan, Tre Williams, Big L, Styles P, Big Pun, Devin The Dude, Jadakiss, Ghostface and more. Easily one of my favorite artists mixtapes, Dirty Harry continued his run as one of the street's greatest mixtape DJs. My favorite track on the mix is "Black Girl Lost," Papoose puts his foot in his verse and the beat is the perfect blend. A completely reimagined project, check it out it below...

September 13, 2016

Eddie Ill & D.L. "Time Has Come" (Mixtape, 1999)

I thought I'd already posted this, but a keyword search turned up nothing. Oh well! It's never too late to revisit this ill mixtape from '99 from Eddie Ill & D.L., Time Has Come. The double-cassette mix tape features Prince Po, Mr. Complex, Percee P, Planet Asia, Saukrates, Sound Providers, Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, Jane Doe, Brooklyn Academy, Dead Poets Society, Kardinal Offishall, Choclair, Ed O.G., Supernatural, Phife, J-Treds, N.O.T.S. Click, The Last Emperor, Akrobatik, Defari, Moodswingaz, Declaime, Royal Flush and lots more! As always, follow the breadcrumbs! Updated audio links below...

September 12, 2016

DJ Riz "Live From Brooklyn" (Mixtape, 2006)

One of the best samples sets ever: filled with rare soul, funk and rock breaks mixes. In Riz's own words: "First, I want to shout out all the original record diggers all over the world who have worked hard to solidify their record collections. Especially the DJ's that have spent hours digging through dark and dirty, rat infested, water damaged basements looking for that one rare record. Live From Brooklyn is dedicated to all the crate diggers at the record conventions and everyone hitting up those dollar spots. These digging adventures have given birth to some of the worlds greatest DJ's and producers in the music game. Much respect to all of you!" - Crooklyn Clan's DJ Riz. 

September 11, 2016

Big Daddy Kane "The Mack Is Back" (The Source, 9/89)

September 11, 1989: Cold Chillin'/Warner Bros. is set to drop a bomb - the new Big Daddy Kane LP "It's A Big Daddy Thing." The album is everything you'd expect from this superstar MC, and much more. It is chock full of 17 smokin' cuts that streamline, redefine, and expand on the inimitable Kane style. Get ready for Big Daddy days in '89, as this album will definitely put him on top of the competitive rap scene. The first single - "Smooth Operator" b/w "Warm It Up Kane" - is already a hit on urban commercial and rap radio. And these cuts only scratch the surface of the dopeness found on this LP. The styles range from mellow, bass-heavy grooves to uptempo dance jams, to fun, sing-along type raps. There's even a "live at the Apollo" version of previously-released "Wrath of Kane." Standouts include the title cut, the socially-conscious "Another Victory," the hard and heavy "Young, Gifted, and Black," guest vocalist Red ALert on "Calling Mr. Welfare," and the disco remake "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." In terms of lyrics, Kane continues to expand his patented rhyme style, though he attacks more pertinent social issues than on his previous album." The Source continues with an interview that you can read below! Salute to Kane, one of the greatest to ever do it!

September 10, 2016

Chairman Maf "Zoo" (Instrumental Album)

Sheffield, UK's Chairman Maf offers up cinematic instrumentals full of soul, melody and emotion on "Zoo;" his follow-up to last year's "Soup" and "Paint" in 2014. Chairman Maf has been releasing hip hop for over 10 years, but upon hearing "Zoo," I am quick to say that this may be his best release to date. "Zoo" is an 11 track labor of love that took over a year to make. He adds, "Looking at all the things us animals get up to in life... Welcome to the Zoo." Stop what you're doing and listen below...

September 09, 2016

Roc Raida "52 Beats" (Mixtape, 2008)

In memory of Roc Raida, here’s a classic mix he put together (in 2008) of breakbeats inspired by Kid Capri’s legendary mixtape of the same name, 52 Beats. Both classics, you don't even need a tracklist, you just need to click play and listen to the Grandmaster Roc Raida do his thing. Rest In Peace, Roc Raida, one of the greatest DJs of all-time. Peace to the whole X-Excutioners crew, too.

September 08, 2016

Jack Diggs "Out The Dust" (Instrumental Album)

Jack Diggs is a producer/rapper from London. "Out The Dust" is a hefty collection of Jack Diggs' instrumental work up to this point - over 2 dozen tracks in total. Released via Revorg Records, they add that "Some of these beats have featured on previous Revord releases, some are exclusive to this release." As the title suggests, these dusty boombap-influenced beats have a lot snap and kick to them. If you've been diggin' the instrumental releases from Nick Wiz, you may dig this as well.

September 07, 2016

Sa-Roc "MetaMorpheus" (EP Stream)

Metamorpheus is a compilation of songs from Sa-Roc's catalog which spans 12 albums over the last 8 years with 6 new songs. After just one listen, one would truly discover that Sa-Roc is a lyrical gymnast. As Sa-Roc always says, she is an MC who just happens to be a woman. Sa-Roc says on The Reckoning, "I'd rather be remembered for my quick wit and intelligence / Then big tits and a swelling ass cause looks never last forever / I'm like the best of Darth Vader and Skywalker, family product of two sides, dark and light smashed together / Perfect combination of church and abomination, I'm person to file with the grace..." An elite lyricist with bars and real messages, please stream it below!

September 06, 2016

Blahzay Blahzay "Blah, Blah, Blah" (The Source, 9/96)

"After rocking the entire East Coast last year (for a good six months) with their anthemtic single "Danger" - which was revived by the Syracuse Orangemen on their impressive Final Four trip this spring - Blahzay Blahzay are poised to release their long awaited album, Blah, Blah, Blah. While it is clear that comparisons with Jeru The Damaja's The Sun Rises In The East will abound - among them, the gritty texture of the tracks and the relentless lyrical assault upon formulaic rap artists, not to mention their shared locale of East New York - Blahzay definitely have something to offer and cannot be written off as imitations. If anything can be said, it is that they, like Premo, MOP, Smoothe Da Hustler, OC and Jeru, are helping to further represent and define their piece of the Bucktown sound." Peep the official music video to Blahzay Blahzay's "Pain I Feel," cont'd below...

Included in the album are the original "Danger," "Danger-Part 2," with Smoothe and brother Trigga, and their current single, "Pain I Feel." The rest of the album delivers the goods and builds upon the promise of these joints. "Pain..." is a standout track and could be the third entry in a trilogy - begun with Jeru's "Come Clean" and OC's "Time's Up" - dedicated to exposing the phantasmic content of a large segment of hip-hop and to refining lyrical skills. Likewise, "Don't Let This Rap Shit Fool You" and "Posse Jumpa" are verbal jabs at hip-hop pretenders and reminders to those MCs and crews in the industry who don't know the ledge. "Long Winded" employs the time-proven tactics of looping one's own words and creating one's own vocabulary. That track, along with "Jackpot" and the title cut, serve as a declaration of the Blahzay sound. Blah, Blah, Blah is a refreshing, no-nonsense product which delivers exactly what it promises: beats and lyrics without relying on catchy hooks, posse cuts or shock value parading as "reality." At the end of the album the listener will, as promised, "know and feel what the blahz means." - The Source, September 1996. Album is still a gem!

September 05, 2016

Xzibit "At The Speed Of Life" (The Source, 9/96)

"If you collected every complaint about this hip-hop game, the resulting mass would probably explode and spawn the frustrated b-boy Xzibit - an energetic west coaster displaying battle flows and make-sense lyrics from a fed-up MCs perspective. If his debut - At The Speed Of Life - is any indication, there might still be some space in this overcrowded game for Xzibit, who shows it ain't where you're from it's where you're phat..." Peep "The Foundation," easily one of my favorite joints...

"...But Xzibit more than holds his own without crew, pointing out the illest little details in the rap game. For example, see the well-orchestrated masterpiece "Paparazzi." It remains the main brick in this foundation. With its solid Beethoven meets Enigma production mixed with no nonsense lyrics about today's in-dust-ry, it presents an accurate microcosm of the entire album. Another impressive track is "The Foundation," a very next-levelish joint in which Xzibit shows the importance of having a child and manages to give Edo G's "Be a Father..." a run for the money. Add the underrated production of Soul Assassin Muggs and At The Speed Of Life's chances for underground classic status increase dramatically." - The Source, September 1996. The full album review is below...

September 04, 2016

DJ JS-1 "Sureshot Mix" (2016)

From DJ JS-1, "This is a new mix I did in July of 2016. It is mainly popular 90's Hip Hop tracks and some blends. It's a nice, feel-good mix that should put a smile on your face. I have been focusing on doing tons of graffiti pieces and murals all over, but I have several new mixes in the works for you. I am about to head out on tour, but as soon as I return, I will be finishing up and posting new mixes. I hope you enjoy it, peace... JS1." The mix features tracks from A Tribe Called Quest, Poor Righteous Teachers, N.W.A., Nine, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Eric B. & Rakim, PM Dawn, Ice Cube, Lords of the Underground, Brooklyn Slumlordz, De La Soul, Nice & Smooth, Grand Puba, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Masta Ace, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Special Ed, and lots more! I respect JS-1 more than most for always being willing to speak his peace, say what's on his mind, and offering valuable perspective on what's real and what's fake. It helps that he's a better DJ than 99.9% of the world.

September 03, 2016

Apollo Brown x Skyzoo "The Easy Truth" (Album Stream)

"After years of mutual respect, circling each other in collaborations, tours, style and respect, two titans of their craft have finally collided in Apollo Brown & Skyzoo’s “The Easy Truth.” The album is everything you’ve dreamt it would be: breakneck instrumentals and syllables crafted to make your head spin. The marriage between Detroit instrumentals and NYC wordplay has never been more cohesive. Themes range from police brutality to NY ambitions; Skyzoo shows you the world the way he sees it. Recorded and produced in Detroit, “The Easy Truth,” is the perfect distillation of hiphop influences. Every moment on the album is a loaded question, a perspective positing a notion of truth, the convergence of grit and symphony. Joining the artists on the record are Joell Ortiz, Westside Gunn, Stalley, Conway and Patty Crash, a reciprocal band of guests that only add depth and richness to the duo’s chemistry." - Mello Music Group. This came out dope, check it out below...

September 02, 2016

The Last Emperor "Music, Magic, Myth" (2003) / "Unsigned Hype" (1996)

Let's go back to The Source, The Last Emperor received "Unsigned Hype" honors in December of 1996. Riggs wrote, "Through word of mouth, Last Emperor is quickly becoming a hot commodity in hip-hop's underground... Last Emperor's rep as a new force in the game is maturing by the day ... His 4 track demo instantly takes the listener to a world of Logic, Literature and Black Magic through a vocabularic appeal reminiscent of Jeru back in '93-94. This kid does what the average MC stopped doing a while ago ... he reads." At the time & even now, a comparison to golden era Jeru The Damaja was comparing him to underground's hip-hop elite. With a slew of indie releases over the course of the early 2000s, the Philadelphia MC has oddly been a bit more elusive than prolific, however each bar has been put under a microscope in ways the Rap Genius generation will never understand. Recently, the good folks over at Deep Concepts Media released a reissue of The Last Emperor's "Music, Magic, Myth" - originally released in the summer of 2003 - via their Bandcamp page. The album featured production from Da Beatminerz, Prince Paul, Ayatollah & more. Stream it below.

Whether it's "Logic, Literature, & Black Magic" or "Music, Magic & Myth," if you weren't outside in 1996, you can read the full "Unsigned Hype" from The Source below. These were an important and highly coveted section to be in as an artist on the come-up. There were a few misses over those years, but for the most part, they predicted some of the biggest artists of our generation.

September 01, 2016

DJ Spinbad "1-900-SPINBAD" (Mixtape, 1996)

New York's DJ Spinbad recorded this mix tape in 1996 entitled, "1-900-SPINBAD." It features joints from KRS-One, Common, Jeru The Damaja, Hi-Tek, The Roots, Big Noyd, Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, M.O.P., Organized Konfusion, MC Lyte, Heltah Skeltah, Mr. Man of Da Bush Babees, PMD & Das EFX, Sadat X and more. Several of the tracks are exclusive blends/remixes by DJ Spinbad, totaling around 90 minutes of late golden era hip-hop. Listen below, compliments of Stevie G on Mixcloud.