Friday, March 31, 2017

Homeboy Sandman 'Veins' (Album Stream)

Homeboy Sandman: “On my last couple of albums I challenged myself with regard to formats, trying to push the envelope as far as what exactly constitutes a rap record. ‘Talking (Bleep)’ and ‘Problems’ were my last two lead singles, both markedly unconventional. I adore both of those songs and I adore both of those albums specifically for the new creative fulfillment I enjoyed while making them. There's much more of that to come, but after spending 3 years outside of the box I was left with a burning desire to just fuckin rhyme. That's Veins." via Stones Throw Records.

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Tribe Called Quest 'Dis Generation' (Video)

A Tribe Called Quest Jarobi Q-Tip Ali Shaheed Muhammad Phife Dawg

I've been eagerly waiting on a video for this track since the album dropped last November. A Tribe Called Quest's 'We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service' is pure art; a gift from Rap legends, and the perfect tribute to one of our fallen greats, Phife Dawg. "Dis Generation finds the remaining members of Tribe (Q-Tip, Jarobi, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and longtime collaborator Busta Rhymes) dancing in the shadows — literally and figuratively — as they school listeners with lyrical wordplay. For a group whose visual presentation has always been on-point, it's right up there with the best Tribe videos of all time — word to Phife, whose presence is felt verbally if not visually." (NPR) Take a moment to enjoy the video below, it's directed by Hiro Murai. R.I.P., Phife Dawg.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Da Bush Babees "Next" (Vibe Magazine, 6/95)

"Three years ago, out of this multiculti boiling pot were born Da Bush Babees, a reggae-hip-hop trio whose hit singles "We Run Things (It's Like Dat)" and "Remember We" from their debut album, Ambushed, have served notice: The old-school sounds of Brooklyn remain in full effect, and their freewheeling style isn't a hodgepodge - it's a way of life. "We're all West Indian and wanted to represent the connection between hip hop and reggae," says Mr. Man (aka Mr. Khaliyl), the analytical one in the group. "Since we're new to the whole music industry and culture, we call ourselves Babees, and of course, we're from Flatbush, so ... Bush Babees." Peep "Remember We," cont'd below...

"Bae-B-Face Kaos (aka Lee) met Mr. Man three years ago while performing at a club. The aptly nicknamed rapper, whose rough style is chock-full o' metaphors and similes, recalls that a dope beat dropped and "Mr. Man started rhyming in my ear, I started rhyming in his, and we caught a good vibe. We started going over each other's cribs and just freestyled - to the point that we just became a group." Well, two-thirds of one, anyway. Y-Tee (aka Jamahl), the business-minded Babee, moved from Jamaica three years ago. He got hip to the group shortly after Mr. Man checked him out live on stage, flexing melodious dancehall rhymes. Next, lyrics were written, jams were packed, and Da Bush Babees collectively realized each individual's goal while sparking the entire industry. Three months after coming together, they were signed. "I guess you could call it luck," says Y-Tee. Only in N.Y." - Vibe, 6/95. One of the best styles to come out of the 90s, big them up all the time!

Da Bush Babees Vibe June-July 1995 Mr. Man

Friday, March 31, 2017

Gang Starr "Moment of Truth" (Press Kit, 1998)

Gang Starr Moment of Truth Press Kit 1998

19 years later, I can still hear the debates happening: What is the best Gang Starr album? For me, the debate between 'Hard to Earn' and 'Moment of Truth' is the toughest of all of them. Gang Starr released 'Moment of Truth' on this date in 1998, which was four years after 'Hard To Earn.' I sat with 'Hard To Earn' for so long that my attachment to it is much greater, but when I listen to 'Moment of Truth,' I do feel like this is their best work. The title track was possibly Guru at his best, most introspective & most timeless. DJ Premier's production showed range and progression in a way that competes only with his work on Group Home's 'Livin Proof.' In '98, there was a shift happening in music and Gang Starr's presence was needed in that climate. I remember having a hard time finding 'You Know My Steez' on 12", it was flying off the shelves. Hearing Scarface on DJ Premier production was everything; Inspectah Deck did his thing on 'Above The Clouds,' and even K-Ci & JoJo didn't feel like a stretch on 'Royalty.' The inner-debate comes down to nostalgia & best vs. favorite; 'Daily Operation' and 'Hard To Earn' were defining albums in my life, but I appreciate 'Moment of Truth' for their messages and how cohesive it was as a project. The debates will go on, but to me, 'Moment of Truth' is their best work ultimately because it has the most depth. Either way, we all WIN as fans of Gang Starr. Salute to Premo & R.I.P. Guru.

"Actions have reactions, don't be quick to judge
You may not know the hardships people don't speak of
It's best to step back, and observe with couth
For we all must meet our moment of truth"

"Cultivate, multiply, motivate, or else we'll die
You know I be the master of the who, what, where and why"

Gang Starr Moment of Truth Advert

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cocoa Brovaz "The Rude Awakening" (Album Review, 1998)

Cocoa Brovaz The Rude Awakening Duck Down Tek Steele Advertisement

When a cease and desist letter hits your mailbox from the gun company, Smith & Wesson, you stop calling yourself Smif-N-Wessun. So, Cocoa Brovaz it was, until they switched again to Tek and Steele. Today marks another anniversary of their second album, 'The Rude Awakening' on Duck Down/Priority. Tek and Steele (and Da Beatminerz) won us over with their debut 'Dah Shinin,' and continued with records like 'Bucktown USA,' 'Dry Snitch,' 'Black Trump,' 'Memorial' and 'Back 2 Life' on 'The Rude Awakening.' The album received favorable reviews and the one below gets to the heart of the project sharing, "Thoughtfully, Tek and Steele examine the positive sides of negative situations" when rhyming of "crooked contracts, deceased homies, and dead ends on this well-executed, 14-cut collection." Much respect to Da Beatminerz (Mr. Walt & Evil Dee) and the whole Duck Down family, who continue to support the culture and especially the sound of New York City. Read more below...

Cocoa Brovaz The Rude Awakening Vibe Magazine Album Review
Cocoa Brovaz The Rude Awakening Duck Down Tek Steele

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Onyx "Bacdafucup" Classic Material (Album Review)

Onyx Bacdafucup Classic Material Review Hip Hop Nostalgia

Bacdafucup’ was the debut album from the South Jamaica Queens group, Onyx (Fredro Starr, Sonny Seeza, Big DS (R.I.P.) and Sticky Fingaz); it was released on this day in 1993 via Jam Master Jay Records/Rush Associated Labels. The lead single was 'Throw Ya Gunz,' which hit the streets and mixshows hard in late '92 into early '93. I remember coppin' it on cassette single at The Wiz on Queens Boulevard, lol. The track was a hit in its own right, but when they followed it up with ‘Slam’ 6-7 months later, that’s when they were introduced to the mainstream audience. By then, fans knew to expect Sticky Fingaz as the anchor and for him to close out each track with his high energy, off the wall style. The bald-headed, black gear style was poppin' up everywhere; even pioneering groups like RUN DMC got down with it (and it confused the hell out of me). In 1994, at The Source Awards, Sticky Fingaz busted several shots into the ceiling during the intro to ‘Throw Ya Gunz.’ It was before IG, Twitter & Snapchat, but it was still a risky move. No gun was found when police later checked them backstage. Another day we'll discuss their second album 'All We Got Iz Us' and how that album & GZA's 'Liquid Swords' got us through the winter of '95. As a bonus, you can check the full 12" for 'See You In Hell,' below; it's Onyx rappin' over the 'Wild For The Night' beat.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

10 Tunes That Influenced a Life: Guru of Gang Starr

Guru 10 Tunes That Influenced Him

Guru (R.I.P.) of Gang Starr selected 10 tunes that influenced him and some of them might surprise you ... or not. Did they mean Rick James, not Slick Rick on 'Mary Jane'? It reminds me of old 'error cards' in baseball, that'd be worth some money, lol. I remember the first time I heard a lot of his selections and they were dope to me, as well, but even for the artists we have in common, different tracks hit me more (personally). I'll add 10 tunes of my own below, but don't hold me to them. Update: Damn, that was even harder than I thought. The music I was raised on by my parents was early Doo Wop and even though I loved some of the groups, they weren't really big influences on me. I may have to revisit this after giving it more thought, lol.

Guru's 10:
1. Audio Two 'Top Billin'
2. Eric B & Rakim 'Eric B For President'
3. Ohio Players 'Sweet Sticky Thing'
4. Slick Rick 'Mary Jane'
6. Funkadelic 'Flashlight'
7. Chaka Khan & Rufus 'Sweet Thing'
8. EPMD 'It's My Thing'
9. RUN DMC 'Rock Box'
10. Slick Rick 'Mona Lisa'

Sav's 10:
1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth 'The Basement' / 'T.R.O.Y.'
2. Slick Rick 'Teenage Love'
3. Showbiz & AG 'Represent'
4. Stevie B 'Spring Love'
6. 2Pac 'Papa'z Song'
7. Eric B & Rakim 'Juice'
8. Gang Starr 'Take It Personal'
9. De La Soul 'Potholes In My Lawn'
10. EPMD 'You Gots To Chill'

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ahmad "Back In The Day" (1994)

Ahmad's self-titled debut was released in 1994 via Giant Records. Labeled as 'a boy from the hood who gives a funk,' Ahmad released 'Back In The Day,' one of the most nostalgic records of my childhood when he was just 18 years old himself. Teddy Pendergrass' song 'Love TKO' carried the vibe, while Ahmad's west coast flow eased us through a remembrance of being a teenager. Many artists have attempted to recreate (or pay homage to) Ahmad's hit single over the years and certainly, its inclusion in the movie, The Wood, was a great fit. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times ran a featured article on Ahmad Lewis, highlighting his rise from artist to a scholar: 'Ahmad Ali Lewis made a deal with his mother back when he was a student at Palisades High School: He would go to college unless he got a recording contract for his upbeat rap music. It was a big if. But Lewis, 17, an honors student and top football player, skipped the college entrance exams and signed with Giant Records. "I said, 'S.A.T. -- whatever. I want to R.A.P.," he recalls. Looking back, Lewis said he does not regret his teenage decision, even though his early success was followed by struggles in a music industry he criticized as promoting violence in the African American community … Ahmad the first-name-only rapper has become Ahmad Ali Lewis the Stanford-bound scholar … When young Ahmad became consumed with rap, his mother panicked … “I told him, 'if you are going to rap, at least don't use bad language and don't talk down about women.' And he said, 'Mom, that's not me anyway, I don't do that.' It wasn't church music but it certainly was a positive message." #WeCLAP 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Beanie Sigel "The B. Coming" (Vibe Review, 6/05)

This is the Beanie Sigel album that took me by surprise. Yes, 'The Truth' and 'The Reason' were the Beans we came to know and love at the time, but within all his releases, it's the deeper, more introspective Beans that drew me in as a fan. As the Vibe review says, "Beanie Sigel allows his brute aggression to take back seat to introspection with his third release." Spot on - and I was here for it. In his catalog, it's tracks like his verse on 'Where Have You Been,' the follow-up 'Still Got Love For You,' then 'Remember Them Days' and here on 'Feel It In The Air' to give a few examples. Ironically, as many of you may know - Black Rob had a track called 'Permanent Scars' that used the same beat as 'Feel It In The Air,' but Beans had the better song. Vibe didn't give the album much ink in June of '05, but hopefully fans gave the album a proper listen. I hope that one day we get the Scarface and Beanie Sigel album ... I think both artists are cut from a similar cloth and it'd be phenomenal!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Reks 'H.I.P.H.O.P.' (Prod. by Apollo Brown)

Reks just released visuals for another standout track off last year's phenomenal double-disc album, 'The Greatest X.' The track is the Apollo Brown-produced single, 'H.I.P.H.O.P.' Now, I don't watch a lot of music videos, but I am glad I caught this one because the visuals build from the good vibes on the track. It shows how this culture has spread and impacted so many lives, and it's especially dope to see these brothers traveling the world and making a living off their art. Worth mentioning: I've always known Reks to be a student of the game, so for him to buck back at the industry and release a double album in a single's market is proof he's catering to his audience! I'll keep my fingers crossed they both figure out that a full-length collaborative project would be an exceptional idea. Cop 'The Greatest X' on iTunes, CD or LP, and if either or both of them come to your city, be sure to check out their live (unforgettable) shows. Check out the visuals below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

OutKast "Benz or Beamer" Feature (Rap Pages, 1995)

Outkast Benz or Beamer Lyrics Illustration Rap Pages 1995
Outkast Benz or Beamer Lyrics Illustration Rap Pages 1995

Outkast's 'Benz or Beamer' was released on the New Jersey Drive soundtrack in 1995. Ironically, the soundtrack was reviewed alongside Big L's 'Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous' in The Source & both were released 22 years ago today. 'Benz or Beamer' was one of many great tracks on the soundtrack - in fact, there were so many, Tommy Boy capitalized on the buzz and put out 2 volumes. The duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi flexed their lyrical abilities, bouncy production and storytelling on 'Benz or Beamer' so well, I was always amazed this & all their early work didn't capture more attention. It wasn't until 2000, when Outkast released 'Stankonia,' that they reached #2 on Billboard and received sales that more closely matched their talent. Will we ever get another Outkast project or a solo effort from Andre 3000? I don't know, but be clear - they are one of the best groups to ever do it regardless of what's next. The above illustration and lyrics were featured in Rap Pages, June 1995. You can see their video below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DeeJay Element "Shots Fired" (Mix)

Big up to my BBAS/Fat Beats brother, DeeJay Element, who blessed us with this dope mix called "Shots Fired." Element is an incredible turntablist and he really shows his skill and ear for track selection with this mix of new and old cuts as well as some exclusive blends featuring Nas, Public Enemy, BBAS, M.O.P., Mr. Lif, Jaylib, Big L, Marco Polo & Masta Ace, Ghostface Killah, Blu & Exile, Prodigy, De La Soul & MF Doom, Sean Price, The Notorious B.I.G., Mood, and lots more! Listen...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Common "Like Water For Chocolate" (Billboard, 2000)

Common Like Water For Chocolate Billboard Feb 2000 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
Common Like Water For Chocolate Billboard Feb 2000 Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Common's 4th studio album, 'Like Water For Chocolate,' was released 17 years ago today via MCA Records. With heavy influence from Questlove of The Roots and production from J Dilla, DJ Premier, and Karriem Riggins + features from Slum Village, D'Angelo, Bilal, Cee-Lo, MC Lyte, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott & more, this album was Common breaking through. Tracks like 'The Light' and 'The 6th Sense' were the big singles + 'Dooinit' had a push & the remix with Macy Gray for 'Geto Heaven', but for album cuts, the Dilla-produced 'Nag Champa (Afrodisiac for the World)' was the one! In the Billboard article (Feb, 2000) above, my OG, DJ Eclipse, was interviewed about the album at Fat Beats and he said, 'Common's albums seem to mature every time out. He provides a good balance between mainstream and the underground.' That about sums it up and was definitely accomplished on 'Like Water for Chocolate.' Common's catalog isn't without a couple missteps, but this was not one of them. Did anyone receive any of the eight digital postcards that were supposedly sent out for the album? If so, tell me about them in the comments, I'm curious if it happened.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Lost Boyz in Vibe Magazine (R.I.P. Freaky Tah, 1999)

The Lost Boyz Vibe Magazine September 1999 Hip Hop nostalgia
The Lost Boyz Vibe Magazine September 1999 Hip Hop nostalgia
The Lost Boyz Vibe Magazine September 1999 Hip Hop nostalgia
The Lost Boyz Vibe Magazine September 1999 Hip Hop nostalgia

On March 28, 1999, we lost Freaky Tah of the legendary Queens group, the Lost Boyz. To compound that loss, each year on this day, fellow group member, Mr. Cheeks, celebrates his own born day and then mourns the loss of his friend. Yes, Freaky Tah was shot and killed on Mr. Cheeks' birthday and it was done after he left Mr. Cheek's birthday party in Queens. The Vibe article above retells the story in great detail. Being born and raised in Queens, I followed the career of the Lost Boyz very closely - they were one of a few crews that successfully brought the underground to the mainstream in the way Naughty By Nature did earlier in their careers. The Lost Boyz had 'Renee,' 'Lifestylez of the Rich & Shameles,' 'Get Up,' 'Music Makes Me High,' 'Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz' ... all first verse, I haven't even gotten to their second album! Sure, some of the album versions were slightly different than the single versions we loved, but for me, that just meant I had to go out and buy more of the same songs. It's a humbling day and a reminder of the cycle of life. So, with that said - Rest in Peace to Freaky Tah; Happy Born Day to Mr. Cheeks, and a salute to DJ Spigg Nice & Pretty Lou, who were also impacted by all these events. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ghostface Killah "Fishscale" Review (Vibe, 2006)

Ghostface Killah Fishscale Vibe April 2006 Album Review

Extra! Extra! Ghost says he was the first to use the name Wu-Tang ... was that ever confirmed? Either way, today marks 11 years since Ghostface's release of his 5th studio album, 'Fishscale.' The review above - published in Vibe (April, 2006) - does a good job at giving you a quick breakdown on the album. 'An intentional radio-ready endeavor' is a nice way of saying some crossover shit, and Def Jam doubled down by adding Kanye West to the remix, where Ye basically rapped over snaps, lol. Fortunately, the album had much more heart and soul than that. My good homie, MoSS, came through and blessed the raw production on 'Kilo' with Raekwon, which was definitely one of the best cuts on the LP. Yet, the standout to me is 'Whip You With A Strap,' based off the nostalgia & serendipity of the record. J. Dilla passed away 3 days before his masterpiece, 'Donuts,' was released, and after his demise, many artists have grabbed at his instrumentals. However, it's clear Dilla had Ghostface in mind when he crafted “One For Ghost.” Ghostface laced that beat as only he could, bringing us back to his childhood and sharing tales of his mom putting a whoopin’ down on him, lol. Dilla’s impeccable ear for samples and chops brought Luther Ingram’s ‘To The Other Man’ to life and with Ghostface, it was the perfect pairing. Dilla is also featured on ‘Beauty Jackson.' While 'Back Like That' may have sold the album to a wider audience, it's the album cuts that make Ghost one of the best to do it. In 2015 - for record store day - Def Jam released 1000 copies of a 7" that featured Jay-Z's 'You Don't Know' on the A-Side and Ghostface's 'Whip You With a Strap' on the B-Side; I hope you got your hands on that collector's item vinyl. Salute, Ghostface! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ol' Dirty Bastard "Return to the 36 Chambers" (Rap Pages, 1995)

‘Part insane and strangely comical - but unmistakably funky - Ol’ Dirty’s vocal performances were one-of-a-kind.’ That's an on-point description of Ol' Dirty Bastard and his solo debut, 'Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version,' which was released on this day in 1995 on Elektra Records. The line 'there's no father to Dirty's style' rings true every time you give ODB a listen. With RZA at the helm, the album is consistent production-wise with the Wu sound, but it's ODB's off-groove flow & slurred rhymes that make the project so intoxicating. It's been some years since I've revisited the album, but 'Raw Hide,' 'Brooklyn Zoo,' and others do pop-up in playlists every now and again. Even the classic artwork was ill. Dante Ross has said, ‘Dirty designed the cover, basically. I just marched into the art department one day and blew up his welfare card 40 times its size…’ Around 2011, Get On Down (a reissue label) put out the 'Return To The 36 Chambers' box set, which came with a wallet, welfare card, booklet, poster & of course, the album. I wasn't fortunate enough to get my hands on that version, but it did look dope! The album review above is from Rap Pages, May 1995.

Ol' Dirty Bastard Return to the 36 Chambers Rap Pages May 1995

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Creestal "Differences" (Album Stream)

Creestal Ras Kass Rapper Big Pooh Skyzoo Differences

Today's selection is from Marseille, France's Creestal, who released a tight project called 'Differences' yesterday. Specifically, the track 'Bars of Death,' which features West Coast legend, Ras Kass, as well as NC's Rapper Big Pooh and Brooklyn's own, Skyzoo. The song stands out on its bars alone, but the production has a nice bassline, guitar, and drums. 'Differences' also features Conway, Hus Kingpin, Roc Marciano, Planet Asia, Blu, and the rest of the album is instrumentals from Creestal. 'Differences' is available on vinyl, cassette, and he also has limited edition posters (pictured above). Sit with the album ... and hit the tags for his work with MoShadee as CM Jones, as well.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Belly "LA Leakers Freestyle #004" (Video)

Belly is a 32-year old MC that immigrated with his family to Canada when he was 7 years old. The young boy found a new home and refuge in hip-hop; a unique twist on a story we hear often in the international hip-hop community. The Palestinian-Canadian rapper is now signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation & showcases his lyricism as reflections of those struggles as a young immigrant who found himself in a whole new world. I'm reminded of Invincible, a dope eMCee from Detroit, who was living in occupied Palestine as a kid; didn't speak English when she moved to the U.S., but learned English (to a degree) through Hip-Hop. I heard the lyrics to this Freestyle via Joe Budden's podcast (compliments of Mal) and I was inspired to dig deeper. I've seen him standing next to Jay-Z, songs from his projects have hit my inbox, but I never clicked ... shame on me, right? Well, let me first say that while his projects are solid, I haven't gotten that same raw, vulnerable feeling I got from this freestyle on his studio releases. Doesn't take anything away from the music - I believe it's still great content and delivery - it's just to say it's no surprise that these memories sent chills through his whole body and THATs the feeling we wanna capture, but sometimes it's like catching lightening in a bottle. They caught a moment, and it helps that Foundation is one of my favorite beats ever!
"...Hero-villain; It's all perspective
Trigger happy police killers, they so selective
When your skin and origin begins to be a death-wish
And they get out by morning in time to eat they breakfast
Locked up, you call collect, come home you call collections
Ironically this shit is called "corrections," I stand corrected
It's all deception like your false elections
Feeling lost like I missed directions
Must be the misdirection..."

Monday, March 27, 2017

J.Period & Black Thought "The Live Mixtape" (JB Edition)

J.PERIOD & Black Thought pay tribute to the Godfather of Soul with an incredible feat: an entire mixtape, recorded LIVE onstage... in one take! With J.PERIOD on the decks juggling JB breaks and exclusive remixes, Black Thought breathes 35 minutes of nonstop lyrical fire, proving once again why he remains one of the greatest to ever touch a mic. Listen to the mix below.

Monday, March 27, 2017

2Pac 'Until The End of Time' Postcard & Vibe Feature

2Pac Until The End of Time Postcard Hip-Hop Nostalgia

I've long been against the countless posthumous (and mostly unofficial) releases with 2Pac's music. Most of the remixes are terrible, as are many of the featured artists that are mashed together with old vocals - fans know it sounds real disrespectful, lol. There were a few, however, in the early stages that had some joints. 'Until The End of Time' was the 3rd posthumous album, released 16 years ago (2001) on Afeni Shakur's Amaru Entertainment (and, of course, Death Row & Interscope). The album was a double disc and is 4x platinum. Pictured above and below is the original postcard that was mailed out as promotion for the album (address removed), and I've also included a feature from Vibe in January of 2002 that touches on the album, posthumous releases, and other topics surrounding his legacy. Rest in Peace, Tupac and Afeni Shakur. 

2Pac Vibe Magazine January 2002 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
2Pac Vibe Magazine January 2002 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
2Pac Until The End of Time Postcard Hip Hop Nostalgia

Monday, March 27, 2017

Raekwon "The Wild" / 'Visiting Hours'

Raekwon released his new project, 'The Wild' on Friday via IceH20 Records; it's his first project since 2015's 'Fly International Luxurious Art.' Rae's thoughts: "Being in the game for a long time can only make me a more passionate artist and that's where I'm at. It's like I'm better than I was 20 years ago in my eyes, so it's more about celebrating and showing people that I am still here..." (XXL) You can hear that passion on 'The Wild;'' it's a welcomed return filled with good vibes! 'Marvin,' the new single with Cee-Lo, is up and down my timeline right now, but I'm making today's selection 'Visiting Hours,' which features the uber talented, 'Andra Day,' and has Raekwon spittin' his truth in a letter over layered breaks & light keys. The illustrated artwork on the album was handled by Dan Lish

 'That used to be me / Young, ruthless, and carefree 
Until I seen the bigger picture / Shifted, my way of thinking 
That 25 to life is real / So is the casket once it close on you 
Word to the youth / Its not a game, cause life'll swerve on you...'

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Non Phixion "The Future Is Now" (Billboard, 2002)

"Tales of Non Phixion: The Future Is Now is an appropriate title for the long-awaited full-length debut from underground purveyors Non Phixion. After making a name for themselves via independent 12-inch singles like "5 Boros" and "Legacy," the New York-based quartet of Ill Bill, Goretex, Sabac Red, and DJ Eclipse has finally released a 15-track set via Bill's Uncle Howie imprint and distributed by Landspeed. "We've been trying to get an album out there for years," Bill says. "We've been together since '95. We were signed to Geffen in '96, and we were hoping to have an album out by '97 or '98. This is really just long overdue, and it's finally popping off now. We got tired of having too many cooks in the kitchen," he adds of why the group went indie. "It just came to the point where over the years we had learned so much about the business that we didn't really need anyone else to handle a lot of the aspects of the label - we're able to make a lot of the decisions for ourselves. We had a finished label and no distribution, so we sat down with a few distributors, and Landspeed came up with the best deal." Cont'd below after the video for "Rock Stars."

"The Future Is Now features production from heavyweights like Necro, DJ Premier, and Juju of the Beatnuts. "The majority of the album was produced by Necro, Bill's brother, because that's family," Eclipse notes. "We also wanted to work with people that we grew up listening to, so when we got the opportunity, we stepped to cats like Pete Rock and the Large Professor, and then it was just a matter of timing." "We wanted to make a classic," Goretex adds. "That's why we got with the producers that we did." - Billboard, May 18, 2002. The album was released on March 26, 2002.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hubbs & M16 'You Don't Own Me'

Today's selection is a fresh cut from Hubbs & M16 called 'You Don't Own Me.' Hubbs is an eMCee from Pittsburgh, PA; he linked with Grammy-nominated producer, M16, for a dope collaborative project called 'Black Privilege.' M16 handles all the production on the album and its sole feature is from Brooklyn wordsmith, Skyzoo. The project dropped a couple months back and I've gotta (once again) thank DJ Eclipse and his show, Rap Is Outta Control, on Sirius because that's how I got put onto the project. I've gone back in their catalogs and there's a lot of quality music to discover so do the knowledge. Listen to the track below & cop the album HERE.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Eric B. & Rakim in Spin Magazine (1987)

Eric B. & Rakim Interview Spin Magazine 1987 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
Eric B. & Rakim Interview Spin Magazine 1987 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
Eric B. & Rakim Interview Spin Magazine 1987 Hip-Hop Nostalgia
Eric B. & Rakim Interview Spin Magazine 1987 Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Eric B. and Rakim know you got soul. If you didn't, you wouldn't be in here! Amen. This Eric B. & Rakim feature interview is from Spin Magazine in November-December of 1987. It's always dope when Rakim sits down for an interview and shares his perspective and we get insight into the mind of a living legend. For example, Rakim says: “I’m not a rapper. I’m a lyricist. Rappin’ is sum’n that you do when you coolin’ out, just poppin’ shit, know whumsayin’? I take this more serious than just a poem. Tryin’ to make this art. Instead of people comin’ up to me and sayin’, “Oh, you’re a rapper?”, I’d rather them come up to me and say, “Oh, are you an artist?” My music isn’t hip-hop; I call it Knowledge, a Lesson with Music.” For more wisdom and just Rakim waxing poetics about the culture, religion, lyrics and more, read the interview above from nearly 30 years ago. Then, ask yourself - where do you place Rakim on the list of greatest of all-time? Is he the God MC? And, what is their best (or your favorite) song? My favorite is an obvious choice, but it's hard to argue... 'Juice.'

Sunday, March 26, 2017

In Loving Memory of Eric Wright (Eazy-E)

Eazy-E Rest In Peace Eric Wright Funeral Booklet

From his obituary: "Eric Wright was born on September 7, 1964, in Compton California, to the proud parents, Richard and Katie Wright. He received his education in the Compton Unified School District. Deciding on a career in Music, he became a well-known Rap Artist, 'Eazy-E,' and built his own recording company; Ruthless/Comptown. Eric was a gentle, kind and warm-hearted person who was always willing to help others. On Sunday, March 26, 1995, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Eric Wright was called home to his final resting place. His charming smile and wonderful personality will always be remembered. Eric leaves fond memories in the heart of his wife, Tomica; parents, Richard and Katie Wright; his children, Eric Darnell, Sharan Marie, Erica Shanel, Derrek Deon, Marquise, Christopher, Erin Bria, Raven and Dominick; one sister, Patricia Wright; brothers, Kenneth Wright and Donald Brown; sisters-in-law, Lorrian and Pam; grandmother, Estella Wright; and a host of nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and fans." Rest in Peace, Eric "Eazy-E" Wright.

Eazy-E Rest In Peace Eric Wright Funeral Booklet

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Take It Personal Podcast "Indie Hip-Hop Tribute Episode"

Props to the good homie Philaflava for continuing to post, support and create dope content for well over a decade! 8 episodes in, I'm diggin' the new show/podcast, 'Take It Personal.' From their Soundcloud: "Episode 8 is our Jansport (backpack) special. A tribute to the independent hip-hop movement that helped spawn labels like Fondle ‘Em, Hydra, Rawkus, Stones Throw, Def Jux and ABB records. A time, where the internet played a major role in the music ... This movement created dreams, jobs, life-long careers and of course, some amazing music too. Speaking of music ... we play you obscure cuts all the way to classics heard from the late 90s to early 00s ... You don’t want to miss this!" Watch, subscribe, and enjoy. Peace to Philaflava, Kevlar & DJ 360.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

'Many Facez' of Tracey Lee in Billboard (1997)

Tracey Lee Many Facez Billboard Magazine 1997 Hip-Hop Nostalgia

T.R.A.C.E.Y.L.E.E... he had me open off his intro - short as it was, it caught me. Tracey Lee is an MC originally from Southwest Philadelphia, who released the smash single, 'The Theme,' in 1997. His debut album, 'Many Facez,' was released 20 years ago today on ByStorm/Universal and boasts collaborations with Biggie, Busta Rhymes & heavy production from D-Dot of the Hitmen. Billboard (above) describes the layers behind Tracey Lee and his come-up in greater detail, but the story doesn't end there. I certainly remember the adverts for his follow-up release, 'Live From 215,' which I'm guessing was shelved because all I've ever heard from it was a sampler. Am I wrong on that? Tracey Lee went on to become a successful attorney, run an entertainment company, and released an album as recent as a few years back called 'Esq: The Revelation' on LLeft Entertainment (co-run by his wife). I'm certain the Howard Grad is a wealth of knowledge to artists coming up, as he's been on both sides of the table, which makes for a unique tale of any artist coming out of the 90s. The 12" for 'Showtime' he mentions above, which wasn't included on 'Many Facez,' can be heard below and 'Yo, it's March somethin...', Craig G, Metho & Tracey Lee on Rap City in '97 can be seen HERE.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Notorious B.I.G. "Life After Death" (20th Anniversary Mix)

The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death Bad Boy Entertainment

In honoring Biggie's death in a post earlier in the month, I posted the original 'Life After Death' press kit. It's been 20 years since his death, funeral and now the release of that album, but it's still at the front of my mind on days like this. I know it's all been said - by me and everyone else - but I wanted to choose something outside of a typical album review or rare remix to share with this post, so I settled on a short article that was in Billboard Magazine the day before Biggie passed and speaks to his enthusiasm for the album's release. Biggie says, 'when my album drops, it's gonna be like the biggest thing ever.' He meant it. He goes on to say: 'I bring the problems and the situations that I've been through in my life into my music, and everything that I've gone through is on another level.' That was certainly true throughout his debut, 'Ready to Die,' but perhaps not as deep on 'Life After Death.' I do agree that there was a bigger focus on production and that he stretched himself lyrically on the album. I won't argue greatest of all-time, but I've never been mad that he's at the top in the those conversations. Listen below to Wax Poetic's 'Life After Death' mix by DJ Matman; he did a great job on the mix. "You'll miss me when I'm gone!" Facts... R.I.P. B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death Bad Boy EntertainmentThe Notorious B.I.G. Life After Death Bad Boy Entertainment Billboard Magazine

Here's the 20th anniversary mix by DJ Matman...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kendrick Lamar "The Heart" (Mix)

"It’s been two years since Kendrick Lamar‘s GRAMMY-winning album To Pimp A Butterfly, but the shining star of Compton has kept busy with a myriad of guest appearances.... Out of nowhere, though, he briefly put a picture on his Instagram account signifying… something. That “something” would ultimately be “The Heart pt.4,” the latest installment of a series he began in 2010. So, we at the DopeHouse thought, “why not re-introduce everyone to its predecessors?” Hence, the basis of our latest, quickstrike mix. As well as chronologically including each form of “The Heart” to date, I also included the samples used in the first three installments, culling from The Roots, Willie Hutch, Bilal and Mos Def. Listen to the mix below." - 2DopeBoyz // Art by Shake and mixed by Meka.