Monday, October 31, 2016

Rashad & Confidence "The Element of Surprise" Album Stream

Rashad & Confidence, two longtime students of the game, finally drop their long-awaited debut album "The Element of Surprise". This up-and-coming MC/producer duo, hailing from Brooklyn and Philly, merged to create a record with a timeless sound reminiscent of hip-hop's golden era but with a fresh, updated feel. With no guest appearances or other producers involved, Rashad & Confidence embody the sound real hip-hop heads yearn to hear, going back to the times of Gang Starr and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. The soulful hitting and sample-based boom bap beats courtesy of Confidence capture the pure essence of classic hip-hop production while Rashad's deep and conscious lyrics slice through each track with topics ranging from various life issues to relationships or just raw lyrical display. Push the play button and get taken back to a time when hip-hop only produced classic albums. - Ill Adrenaline Records. A true-school classic, don't sleep.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Juggaknots "Use Your Confusion" (CMJ, 2006)

"Widely considered underground hip hop's holy grail, Juggaknots' 1996 debut EP, Clear Blue Skies (Fondle 'Em), centered around Breezly Brewin's marble-mouthed musings - instantly relatable expressions of a young man's doubt about himself and the world. Its dusty jazz loops and clomping snares marked the apex of indie rap's signature moodiness. After ten years away (save a loose EP), Brooklyn's Juggs - Breeze, his brother Buddy Slim, and, now, their sister Queen Herawin - prattle on like no time has passed. Over the winding funk guitars of "New $$$," Breeze bitterly raps, echoing O.C.'s anthem "Time's Up": "I'd rather be broke and have a whole lot of respect..."

"...Mostly Juggs-produced, Confusion bubbles with an up-beat, if more atmospheric, update of their sound, buoyed by swelling strings and scratched soul samples. But mostly, the Juggs - shouting out the crew on "Namesake" like it's still '96 - are running in place. The album's real lesson: there's no recapturing independent hip-hop's bounding, childlike enthusiasm. We're all grown up now." - CMJ 

You can stream/purchase the full LP below...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ghostface Killah "The Iron Age" 20th Anniversary Mix

Presented by UpNorthTrips (Props to EvBoogie), The Iron Age is a mix celebrating the 20th anniversary of Ironman. "Since Ironman was the last of six Wu-Tang albums produced entirely by Rza, we widened the scope of the mix in order to pay homage to his legendary run in that classic Wu-Tang era." The Iron Age is mixed by Its OverTure, with artwork by Rhek. Dig into it below!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs "Gems From The Equinox" (Album Stream)

Meyhem Lauren's Gems From The Equinox is the crown jewel of modern NY rap. A future classic soundtracked by legendary producer DJ Muggs who has redefined dusty hip-hop production into a polished and dark, psychedelic world. The equinox is the one day of the year where day and night are the exact same length and this is the perspective of this album; the equal balance of darkness and the light. The project chronicles the urban decay and wild experiences only to be found in the New York underworld from the perspective of an intelligent hoodlum, Londell Manuver, AKA Meyhem Lauren. Sonic influences from elements of Cypress Hill's Black Sunday, Mobb Deep's Hell On The Earth and Capone and Noreaga's The War Report. The album features include the likes of Action Bronson, B-Real, Roc Marciano, Sean Price, Conway, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire and more.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Q-Tip Announces New A Tribe Called Quest Album

Even hard rocks might have shed a tear at this latest news from Q-Tip of the legendary A Tribe Called Quest. With the tragic and untimely passing of Phife Dawg earlier this year, we thought any hopes for a new album were ended in his passing. However, Q-Tip took to social media to share a handwritten letter to fans announcing that the group has one final album in the chamber! I'll let Q-Tip tell it, "To all the good people worldwide: We hope this letter finds you & yours safe and without a scratch! Last year this time myself, Jarobi, Ali and Phife had the extreme pleasure of performing on the Tonight Show. It was our 1st TV performance in 18 years. The energy for us that night was one that we hadn't experienced on stage together in some time! It was also the night of the Paris Bombing ... November 13th ... Friday ... an unseasonably warm night in NYC. As we left 30 Rock I felt the need, we all did, to get back to the studio and start that cookup! So we got to it!! It was coming together quite nicely and as you may know we lost our BROTHER may GOD REST HIS SOUL on March 22nd. But he left us with the Blueprint Newprint of what we had to do. So we collected ourselves and along tribesmen, Busta and Cons ... we completed what will be, obviously the final A TRIBE CALLED QUEST ALBUM! No, this isn't filled with old Phife bars ... this is that pure, unstepped on pure!! And on November 11th, 2016 we will complete our Paths of Rhythm ... Join us! Peace!!."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Combat Jack Show "Joe Budden Episode"

On the latest episode of the Combat Jack Show, the crew welcomes back the Jersey eMCee Joe Budden. Joe discusses his new album with AraabMuzick, Rage & the Machine, maturation in Hip-Hop (and life), the success of I'll Name This Podcast Later, his historic beefs over the course of his career, Slaughterhouse & the crazy shit with the kids that ran up on his property. Sidenote: I'm tight Drake followed those kids after that whole ordeal ... that's not smart at all. With Joe Budden, you never know what'll come up, you just know it'll be entertaining, so dig in below.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Black Sheep "A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" 25th Anniversary Mix

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Black Sheep's classic debut 'A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing', Chris Read blesses us with yet another exclusive mix of album tracks, alternate versions, and original sample material. Artwork by Leon Nockolds. I haven't dug into this one yet, but I'm hoping the Homogenized Remix of Similak Child is on it, that's my joint! Hit the tags for more mixes.

Monday, October 24, 2016

uMaNg & D-Rev "Autumn Breathes" (Album Stream)

"Autumn Breathes is an album conjured, written, and recorded all within the same season. Every beat and rhyme was put together in a way to reflect the energy of the season of falling leafs, where the cold air starts to seep into the days and nights until the frigid winters finally purge upon the atmosphere. The feeling of fighting the cold days that can make it's way upon your life. uMaNG and D¬Rev had both written and recorded their hooks and verses in a little more and no less than than two weeks time. If one is a fan of the craft of Hip Hop Emceeing, the math that goes into making rhymed words equal to a rhythm, the ecstasy of understanding a metaphor on beat, and the delicacy of making a vivid mental picture on an instrumental, then this is the album for you." Autumn Breathes is produced by B.B.Z Darney (Boom Bappin Zombie Darney), listen below...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Onyx "All We Got Iz Us" (The Source, 11/95)

"After an almost three year hiatus, Onyx has finally returned with their sophomore release, All We Got Iz Us. With such a long pause between LPs, many heads in the U.S.G. may be skeptical about their return. But any questions as to whether they could survive in an increasingly competitive market were quickly put to rest by "Live," the album's first single. Onyx still has clout. Their latest effort contains what most expected: anger, gun talk and violence. But in between the frustration and screaming, Onyx manages to discuss why they're mad. It begins with "Last Days," a song dealing with the confusion and corruption of everyday life in the U.S.G. Each member shines over a Beatminerish track that is concrete hard, yet butter smooth. Several other tracks will make the head nod, but "Most Def" will have the entire body moving. The song's ill track - a lethal melody backed with extra hard drums - goes perfectly with the crew's razor sharp lyrics." Cont'd...

"Although the LP is packed with sure shots, there are a few sure misses...they definitely stand out as weaker representations of the group's efforts. All We Got Iz Us still shines due to the production direction. There are more sinister-smooth cuts as opposed to tracks that make you wanna slam. Lyrically, they're business as usual. Sticky Fingaz plays the lead role with able backing from Fredro and Suave. The trio have diminished the yelling, but maintained the trademark grimy voices. That factor - along with songs that actually have something to say - demonstrates Onyx's maturity and continued ability to separate themselves from the crowd." - The Source, 11/95

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tiff The Gift "It Gets Greater Later" (Album Stream)

"It Gets Greater Later" is the 3rd studio album from Don't Sleep Records' Tiff The Gift. With production from Phoniks, JR Swiftz, LinkRust, F. Draper, Kalvion & Kameleon Beats, as well as features from Dephlow and her husband and dope MC, Awon. Oh, and peace to DJ Sayeed too, that's the homie! In a thought similar to "this too shall pass," Tiff shares optimism with her title, as well as a tip to the progression and growth in her life and her music. The Don't Sleep Records brand is about quality, so by the time the music reaches us, you can rest assured it's a solid listen from start to finish. With that, click play and stream Tiff The Gift's latest offering below.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pearl Gates & Syll "Play This" (EP Stream)

"The new EP ''Play This'' pairs Pearl Gates and fellow Washington Heights NY emcee Syll. Blending story and spirited music, the project features narration from neighborhood legend, Blanco and music by French Producer, C0rrado. Crafted as a short film in audio format, ''Play This'' is a guided tour through the highlights and underbelly of Washington Heights. Speaking on the project Gates said ''Syll and I wanted to walk listeners through our neighborhood and see our perspectives. When I first heard C0rrado’s beats I thought they were very cinematic in nature and lent themselves perfectly to the project.'' On his other collaborators Gates revealed ''Syll is my day-one homie. We met rhyming on the block back when we were twelve years old. He’s appeared on my ''Diamond Mind'' EP last year and actually has done some work with a hip-hop legend from around our way L-Fudge (Rawkus Records). Blanco is another homie from the heights and he’s definitely a good person to talk about the streets in our area.” Over the past year Pearl Gates has been making notable music and appearances. His ''Diamond Mind'' EP was praised by media outlets including Watchloud, The Source and Respect Magazine. He has appeared on new releases with Masta Ace, eMC and Boldy James. He has also toured Europe and North America with eMC and PRhyme recently as well."

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

CM Jones "Motions" (Album Stream)

Creestal (French producer) and MoShadee (New Jersey MC) are CM Jones. "Motions" is a cerebral and personal release with dope production and features from Blu, Georgia Anna Muldrow and King Krab. The release comes with the following note: "The aura, feelings, vibe, and sound of a life story. Movements, ups and downs, emotions, trials and tribulations forming the title "Motions." Also added is a personal note from the label sharing that "It took a year plus to get to this point. Major sacrifices were put into effect to reach this very moment. More than anything, CM Jones deeply emptied themselves into this project. Motions is now available for stream & purchase on cassette, vinyl, and of course digitally. It's been a very long anticipation from us on this side and, we couldn't be more than anxious to present this creation to you all. With more than love" - Munchie Records

Monday, October 17, 2016

Cru "Just a Case" (The Source, May 1997)

Now this ain't funny, so don't you dare laugh / Just another case about the wrong path... "Just Another Case" pays homage to old-school storytelling tales like Slick Rick's "Children's Story." Fittingly, the Ruler makes a regal return, adding his genius on the song's final verse. The thumping, soap-opera style, piano laced groove is sure to be a favorite for jeep pumping, and will provide needed exposure to this unusual crew. Cru's album "Da Dirty 30" was a slept-on album that had bangers like "Pronto" and features from Ras Kass, The LOX, Black Rob among others elsewhere on the album. Rumor had it that Yogi, Chadio & the Mighty Ha, as Cru, were set to blow until a less than stellar live show performance derailed their efforts. Any truth to that? Check out the abbreviated video for "Just Another Case" below, and definitely revisit "Da Dirty 30." - The Source.

The full review in The Source is available below...

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Da Bush Babees "Gravity" (Press Kit + Vibe Review, 10/96)

"Bush Babees sit in a semi-circle, looking half-perplexed. The huddle is comprised of two 22-year-olds, Khaliyl aka Mr. Man and Lee aka Lee Major (formerly Babyface Kaos), and one 21-year-old, Jamal aka Light (formerly Y-Tee). The Flatbush, Brooklyn hip-hop trio are set to release their sophomore LP, Gravity, to follow-up 1994's critically acclaimed Ambushed, which yielded the indisputable bi-coastral hits, "We Run Things" and "Remember We." But it's the oft repeated question of the minute, that has their minds moving. "Why Bush Babees'?" ... Mr. Man answers: "Always Bush Babees," he declares of the group's moniker, defiant of any threat of growing old; and his reasoning falls on theoretically stable ground. "It sounds better than Bush Men." Peep the visuals to "The Love Song," with lyrics like: "I came all the way from Brooklyn to present my rep / Lyrically deep like sleep; I rock hard like Led Zepp..." with a nice feature from Mos Def, cont'd below...

"It's the name," adds Lee. "We're always new to this - we're just a little more developed now. For Gravity, we definitely dug into ourselves." It seems odd enough: as these lyrical architects take greater steps towards manhood, they remain Babees having musical babies; and when they searched for gravity, they looked inward. But, upon listening to Gravity, it becomes clear that the only way to bring the evolution of the musical artform decreed as hip-hop to the future, was to find its roots in the past. "When we do our thing, we try not to listen to the radio," confides Lee. "We just listen to our beats and do what we do. That way we're not trapped in time." - via "Gravity" press kit. As a bonus, check out the review for "Gravity" in Vibe, October 1996.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jeru The Damaja "Wrath Of The Math" (CMJ, 12/96)

"Mr. Ignorance, the same one immortalized on "You Can't Stop The Prophet" from Jeru The Damaja's debut album, is in the crosshairs once again on Wrath Of The Math. On this sequel to The Sun Rises In The East, Jeru is packing even more lethal levels of confidence and venom than he did the first time around, and the songs on this awesome sophomore release reflect that in one sonic firestorm after another. Wrath sounds like a heap of twisted, rusty metal, bearing sharp, pointed lyrical edges as well as weighty, yet crafty, beats (courtesy of DJ Premier)." Check "Ya Playin' Yaself," cont'd...

"Jeru battles the current bland state of hip-hop, as he expertly addresses its lack of individuality and creativity ("Whatever") and, especially on "One Day," gets so brutally honest that certain record label moguls are rumored to be angered and insulted. To Jeru's credit, it's always been his candid, heavy-enunciated rhyme style that has attracted listeners. His audacity on the mic isn't just loaded with cheap shots and false accusations: as you'll hear on the "The Frustrated N!gga," "Tha Bullshit" and "Not The Average," Jeru simply chooses to call it as he sees it." - CMJ, December 1996.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ras Kass "Soul On Ice" (The Source, 10/96)

"Ever since some record label bigwigs saw the earning potential of pre-packaged hip-hop and began saturating the market with cardboard cut-out rappers and their fill-in-the-black rhymes, naysayers and the weak of faith have bemoaned the "death" of our culture. Journalists, recording artists and industry-haters from all points on the compass have given their prophetical views about our music's seemingly impending doomsday. Along comes Ras Kass to dead all such talk. Soul On Ice, the sixteen track debut headshot from this Carson, Cali delegate, is a lyrical - I repeat - lyrical journey into the mental of a young n!gga with maaad shit on his mind. Be forewarned, however, this is not another "life got me stressed / shit is hectic / fuck the world 'cuz I'm a depressed ass ghetto denizen" type of deal. Ras Kass may indeed be streetwise, but he also comes off as being an extremely well-read muthaf#cka. This kid drops material that'll have history buffs, religious theorists and English majors alike reaching for their reference books..." Peep the title track below...

"Not to say you need a Ph. D to follow the bouncing ball. There's a little something for everybody here ... what makes this joint so tight is Ras' ability to maintain the same persona throughout each cut. Whether he's spittin' the ill Biblically laced with battle rhymes on "On Earth As It is In Heaven," pullin' files on the gub'mint on the album's title song or even screaming on groupie bitches ... what you hear is a knowledgable cat who can debate, hang out or rumble with the best of 'em... This album should serve as a reassurance that despite all the negative gab about "The End," true heads will prevail. Rappers can continue to hack out bullshit songs and disguise them as lyrics in order to win their record contracts, but as long as MCs like Ras Kass keep flexin' the grey matter after-hours, creating verbals when normal joes are clockin' Z's, Hip-hop, The Artform, will be around when our grand-seeds are the ones rippin' mics and writing jewels." - The Source, October 1996.

Tuesday, October 11, 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 below to the mix below. Props again to DJStepOne.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Notorious B.I.G. in Hip Hop Connection (7/95)

As featured in Hip-Hop Connection back in 1995, The Notorious B.I.G. selects 10 tracks that were influential to his life and career as an artist. His choices may surprise you, let's look closer ... 1st selection is EPMD because of their consistency, self-production and how they modeled their career. KRS because of his rhyming abilities, messages and original flavors to his music, flow and delivery. Salt-N-Pepa for their dedication to the game, creating a lane for future artists to follow behind them and their positive stance. The Dogg Pound for making quality shit from the West Coast. RUN DMC for their incredible live shows and being pioneers in the game. Slick Rick for his storytelling and flipping different voices on a record. Redman for his catchy metaphors; the funk in his records and being someone that inspired him to be a better MC. Marvin Gaye for his beats and lyrics about his personal life in the music. Keith Murray for the way he flips his flows and style, while still being super lyrical. And lastly, Nas for being a street MC and having a lot of depth to his rhymes. - Hip Hop Connection (Ten Tunes That Influence A Life), July 1995. I dunno if these tracks actually inspired his "life," but it's a nice selection of artists. Rest In Peace, The Notorious B.I.G.; never forgotten!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Arsonists "As The World Burns" (Vibe, 10/99)

"With airtight lyrics and break-dance-heavy shows, the Arsonists have been fulfilling the cravings of hardcore hip hop-starved backpackers on New York's underground scene for the past three years. But despite their strong street following, the eye-brow raising talent of Arsonists Freestyle, Swel Boogie, Q-Unique, Jise One, and D-stroy has eluded the attention of major record labels. Now signed with super-indie Matador, the Arsonists are poised to blaze trails above the surface. With their potent introduction to the masses, As The World Burns, these mike marauders not only recap their previously released gems - 1996's "The Session," 1997's "Seed," and 1998's "Blaze" - they showcase a handful of just-as-sizzling new songs." Watch "Pyromaniax/Backdraft" cont'd below...

"Tracks like the lighthearted freestyle "Pyromaniax" (which sounds like it was recorded at a circus) and the kinetic "Backdraft" really show the Arsonists at their best, keeping it up-tempo and energetic. Even when they slow the pace on "Flashback," a keyboard-powered stroll down memory lane, the five-man collective are able to spark your interest with vivid descriptions and impassioned stories. As The World Burns is an uncompromised tribute to the Arsonists' subterranean rhyming roots. And hey, even if they aren't heard by the multitudes, the fire that burns in their hearts to rap is one that can never be extinguished." - Vibe Magazine, October 1999 // Save a copy below.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Jeru The Damaja "Ya Playin' Yaself" (The Source, 10/96)

"Brooklyn MC Jeru has never been one to go with trends or mince words. His debut, "Come Clean," was loaded with thought-provoking lyrics and "Ya Playin' Yourself," the first single from his sophomore project, goes even deeper. On this joint Jeru fearlessly faces the one question that many of us in the hip-hop community continue to dance around: do gangsta / criminology type rhymes and videos set a dangerous example, or are they just harmless representations of a violent world, like movies or video games? Jeru's first verse is aimed squarely at MCs who glorify drug dealers. "These so-called playas up in the rap game / got brothas on the corners selling cooked cocaine." The next verses - still delivered in Jeru's penetrating monotone - condemn the drug trade, foul-living females and false prophet MCs, all strung together with a tight chorus." Peep the video:

"The one complaint that always seems to surface against "knowledge" rap revolves around the beat; if it ain't kickin', no one will bother to hear the lyrics. Well, that can never be the case when Premier is behind the boards. "Ya Playin' Yourself" is another of his master creations, propelled by an infectious bass bump that's a flip of Junior Mafia's smash "Playa's Anthem." And that may not be entirely accidental. "Ya Playin' Yourself" is the antidote to the endless materialism currently saturating hip-hop. While others may preach getting paid above all, here's Jeru's philosophy: "Knowledge, wisdom, understanding brings long life and health / Think anything else and you're playin' yourself." - The Source (10/96). You can read (or save a copy) of The Source's review below.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

De La Soul "The Grind Date" (Vibe, November 2004)

"They're 15 years in and nine albums gone. And though the daisies may be dead, the reinvigorated Long Island trio (Maceo, Dave, and Pos) hasn't sounded this vibrant since they became the spit-kicking, bionic spacemen from their last two releases. On The Grind Date, these pioneers of alternative hip hop have outsmarted the denizens of today's bulletproof-vest scene with sophisticated compositions and insightful lyrics. Appearances from Ghostface ("He Comes") and MF Doom ("Rock Co. Kane Flow"), along with rich production by Madlib, Dave West, Dilla, and  9th Wonder, make this Date notable." - Vibe Magazine, November 2004. Peep De La Soul and MF Doom performing "Rock Co. Kane Flow," live AND check this video of Jake One making the beat.

The original 4-star review in Vibe Magazine is available below...

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Bahamadia "BB Queen" (Press Kit, 2000)

"There is no doubt that Bahamadia loves music - This Philadelphia native has lived and breathe it for years. In fact, many musical scholars credit Bahamadia as being one of the original MCs to put Philly on the hip-hop map in a major way. Initially a DJ, Bahamadia switched trades when female MC's such as Lady B, Sha-Rock (Funky 4 Plus More), and Salt and Pepa entered the rap game. By becoming one of the most sought after artists on the Philly underground scene, Bahamadia earned the respect that allows her to declare in song, "Back in Philly, people say I'm Da Jawn." Her formidable rhyme skills, unceasingly honed since the earliest days of rap, and her progressive musical outlook, make her more than just an incredible MC. Bahamadia is an innovative talent recognized in various musical genres as forerunner of tomorrow's music. In 1996, EMI Records released Bahamadia's critically acclaimed debut album entitled "Kollage" on its Chrysalis label. "Kollage," which Bahamadia described as, "various blends and mixtures of my style of hip-hop encompassing different topics that are important to me." "Kollage" showcased eleven classic songs full of her signature soulful delivery with lush and witty rhymes. This album generated the 1996 Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards Nomination for Best New R&B / Rap Artist." - Press Release (2000). The "BB Queen" EP, and more cont'd below...

In 2000, Bahamadia released "BB Queen," her sophomore release through Good Vibe Recordings. It was Bahamadia's first release since her debut album "Kollage" in 1996. With features from DJ Revolution, Planet Asia & Rasco, Chops, Slum Village, and Dwele, the vibe of the project fit nicely with the soft-spoken, but supremely lyrical style of Bahamadia. Although not mentioned nearly as much as Bahamadia's early work alongside Gang Starr's Guru and DJ Premier, it is entirely worthy of a revisit and support here. DJ Revolution kicks it off masterfully cutting MC Lyte vocals, stating "I am the dopest female that you heard thus far," representing from the "Illadelph side."

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Ghost Of The Machine "It's Lonely Out Here" (Album Stream)

Ghost of the Machine is an artist from NYC currently living in MA. His track, 'Last Man on Earth,' features Mello Music's Red Pill (1/3 of Ugly Heroes) and production by James Green. The song is featured on Ghost's solo album, 'It's Lonely Out Here: The Story of J.F.M.' which you can stream along with the single down below, check it out and let me know what you think. I'm keeping an ear out, expecting good things to follow based on the talent I hear already. Give it a listen below...