April 30, 2017

R.A. The Rugged Man 'Legends Never Die' (4/30/13)

R.A. The Rugged Man 'Legends Never Die'

If you follow me on Twitter, I've been on the record saying that R.A. The Rugged Man's album, 'Legends Never Die,' was everything that Nature Sounds could have asked for from R.A. Not only did he deliver an amazing album filled with content, deep lyrics, and great production, but also his signature flow and a desire to really promote the album. He abandoned the industry's model that an album is old the day it's released and continued to push singles, tours, and create powerful visuals for tracks long after the album was in stores. It gave the project more life and lasting power than most albums that have been released since. Tracks like the Mr. Green produced 'Learn Truth' with Talib Kweli is off the page with its bars and delivery, while 'Daddy's Halo' is a heartfelt tribute to his father, where he nearly breaks down at the end of the recording, not to mention those incredible visuals for 'Still Get Through The Day' with Eamon. Say what you will about R.A. the Rugged Man, he's built his fanbase on the merit of his skills. Obviously, a lot of things he's said and done have been over the top, but I've briefly met R.A. & he seems like a stand-up guy. He cares about the culture and is extremely knowledgeable about its history. The album was released on this day in 2013, but it may as well be brand new because lyrically there's still much more to uncover and the tracks I enjoy have plenty of replay value. The over the top stuff not as much, but I trust it brings a unique energy to his shows. The more room he has to create, the more we'll see R.A. shine.

April 30, 2017

Logic "Young Sinatra: Undeniable" (4/30/12)

To an untrained eye, it might feel like Logic was an overnight success, but nah ... the Maryland spitter has been putting in work since '09 releasing free mixtapes and building a very loyal fanbase. On this day in 2012, Logic released his 'Young Sinatra: Undeniable' mixtape, where he addressed such topics as his father's drug abuse, his future, growing up in Gaithersburg, his mother getting stabbed, and a lot more. The success of the four mixtapes released between 2011 and 2013 earned him his first headlining tour, a spot on XXL's Freshman List in 2013 and a label deal with Def Jam through No ID. His debut album 'Under Pressure' is a witty concept album blended with raw lyrics, melodies and bouncing production. I already know the boy can spit, so seeing his growth on a major with obvious aspirations for greater stardom, it's just a matter of how much he caters to the mainstream (sonically) whether or not I'll continue to enjoy the music. His fans are even younger than he is, ya know? I didn't care for his 'Bobby Tarantino' project, but I am gonna support his upcoming album 'Everybody' and we'll see what happens. Either way, his youthful presence and focus on lyrics are certainly welcomed in the industry and I'm pushing for his continued success. I don't listen to the mainstream often enough, so comparisons to other artists and their melodies is an issue for someone else to tackle, I think he is talented and if nothing else, he's left me with some solid projects already. You can grab all the mixtapes for free at DatPiff: 1, 2, 3, 4. Undeniable below...

April 29, 2017

Rashid Hadee 'Loopy Fiasco' (Album Stream)

Today's selection is the new instrumental project from Rashid Hadee; it's called 'Loopy Fiasco.' Reppin' out of Chicago, the producer/artist is most-known for his soulful production; specifically his work with artists like Little Brother, Fashawn, Silent Knight, Tanya Morgan, as well his former group Chapter 13, and his own solo efforts. 'Loopy Fiasco' features 23 solid instrumentals and serves as a great reminder that the former XXL Chairman's Choice recipient is still out here doing his thing. The project was released in conjunction with an event being held tonight at Deadbolt in Chicago called Beat! Lo-Fi Social; a multi-city music producer event, radio show, and online community. You can stream the Loopy Fiasco project below and support it via Bandcamp. P.S: Great album title!

April 28, 2017

Big Pun "Capital Punishment" (Record Report, 1998)

Big Pun 'Capital Punishment' (Record Report, 1998) Page 1
Big Pun 'Capital Punishment' (Record Report, 1998) Page 2

'Capital Punishment' is the debut album from heavyweight Bronx lyricist, Big Pun; it was released on this day in 1998 through Loud Records. From only hearing Pun on Stretch & Bobbito's show and Funkmaster Flex's '60 Minutes of Funk' in '95, I didn't know much about Big Punisher until the label started sending out promos for 'You Ain't a Killer' and 'I'm Not a Player.' As the project drew nearer and the 'Pre-Trial Motion' sampler was sent out, I really started to grasp what a tremendous talent we had in Pun. Super witty, he brought a special kind of energy back to Hip-Hop and his lyrical abilities were something to marvel at in disbelief. With 'Capital Punishment,' Big Pun became the first Latin rapper to go Platinum, and he did it with a focus on lyrics and flow while Fat Joe helped bring in a cast of amazing producers to tie it all together. I was diggin' in the archives & was reminded that DJ Eclipse shared a gem on Pun's birthday 2 years ago. On August 31, 1995, Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito had Big Pun & Fat Joe as guests up at 89.9 WKCR with DJ Eclipse and DJ Riz as guest DJs. Eclipse shares: "Joe starts the interview (151:40) and plays some joints off his album before introducing everyone to the mic (167:42). I threw on 'Broken Language' and Pun set it all off. Other dope moments were the Pumpkinhead (R.I.P.), Natural Elements and O.C./Poops promos that Bob started off the night with before Riz got on (10:20) and showed off (see Nas Remix). Bobbito plays a demo set in the middle of the show (113:15) before Terror Squad arrives and then I close it out (179:22)." Rest In Peace, Big [Moon Dog] Punisher. You can hear the full 4-hour mix show below...

April 27, 2017

Naughty By Nature "Nature's Fury" (Snippet Tape, 1999)

Naughty By Nature 'Nature's Fury' (Snippet Tape)

Let me start off by saying, 'Nature's Fury' is not Naughty By Nature's best work; however, I do think Treach is one of the most underrated writers and lyricists, so I wanna take every opportunity to shine a light on his catalog. With that said, 'Nature's Fury' is Naughty By Nature's 5th studio album, it was released on this day in 1999 through Arista Records. In the mainstream, 'Jamboree' was a charting single in '99 and was widely considered a comeback hit for Treach, Vinnie & Kay Gee after they'd taken a 4-year break between releases. Meanwhile, 'Dirt All By Lonely' worked because it fed the underground too. They went down South to tap Master P, Silkk The Shocker & Mystikal on 'Live or Die,' which I'm certain I skipped over, but I trust some people liked it, and the last single was 'Holiday.' In the climate of music in '99 and given their past success with crossover hits, their reach for getting back on the charts didn't surprise me, but it wasn't quite the album I was hoping for at the time. It lacked some of the more balanced album cuts that Naughty always kept to feed the streets. Even the track with Big Pun was a miss in my eyes. On a brighter note, the 'Nature's Fury' snippet tape was put out in advance of the album and had Treach rhyming over 4-5 short instrumentals in between snippets from tracks off the album; it's perhaps the only unique piece of promo I have from this album and it was hand-delivered on cassette. You can hear the mix below.

April 26, 2017

J.Period Presents "Outkast: ReFixed" (Mix)

“In honor of the 23rd Anniversary of SouthernPlayalistic..., J.PERIOD & Vibe Magazine pay tribute to Outkast with OutKast: ReFixed, a live DJ mix featuring classic Outkast and newly-minted J.PERIOD remixes. Recorded live at Art Of Storytellin' Brooklyn, OutKast: ReFixed is a clear reminder of why this duo will forever remain one of hip hop's greatest groups. Re-imagining "B.O.B." over "Panda," "Art of Storytellin" over "Children's Story," "Skew It on the BBQ" over "Truffle Butter" and more, J.PERIOD amplifies classic Dre and Big Boi verses in new musical contexts, illuminating their lyrical brilliance in a whole new way. Cement their status: Outkast are legends.” - J.Period

April 26, 2017

OutKast "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" (4/26/94)

Outkast 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik' Advertisement
Outkast Big Boi Andre 3000 Bio/Press Kit 1994

Outkast's debut album, 'Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,' was released on this day in 1994 through LaFace Records. The duo of Andre 3000 and Big Boi helped build the credibility of Southern artists as lyricists and unique creatives with their "splashes of funk, harmonic choruses, and thought-provoking rhymes." The lead single was 'Player's Ball,' a smash that was originally a Christmas record. In fact, they sent out postcards inviting listeners ("All the Players & Phatt Macks") to the "ball of all century, the Player's Ball on Christmas Day. Come stacked because it's gonna be phatt like that." L.A. Reid was behind that; he asked Outkast to record a track for a Christmas compilation, but when the record had hit potential, they released it as the lead single with minor changes to the beat and lyrics. Ironically, with all that said, I kinda dismissed the record because I didn't feel the chorus (at first), and it wasn't until May (after the album had dropped) that I heard the title-track, and off that, copped the album. Neither that or 'Git Up, Git Out' did nearly as well on radio, but I think the bulk of the investment in promo was done prior to the album's release, so that didn't really surprise me. As the group continued their rise in popularity and mainstream success, LaFace reissued the album in '98, giving it a second push, and by 2000 ('Stankonia'), I think it's safe to say the whole world celebrated Outkast's catalog as being some of the most forward-thinking and innovative hip-hop music of our generation. I can't say I was a "day one" fan, but they definitely won me over. "Cadillacs are coming! Are you ready to ride?" The 'Player's Ball' video and postcards are below.

Outkast Player's Ball Postcards Front
Outkast Player's Ball Postcards Back

April 26, 2017

50 Cent "Guess Who's Back?" (Mixtape, 4/26/02)

50 Cent Press Pics Negatives

On this day in 2002, 50 Cent released 'Guess Who's Back?,' a compilation of hits from past street albums and mixtapes. It was this mixtape/compilation that would gain the attention of Eminem (through 50's attorney), and ultimately lead to 50 Cent signing to Interscope. 'Guess Who's Back?' was released independently on Full Clip Records and was the first 'official' release since his 2000 (unreleased) album, 'Power of the Dollar.' It features production from Trackmasters, Clark Kent, Sha Money Xl, and more. For a release of its kind to chart on Billboard was an impressive feat and rumor has it that a lot of the tracks were recorded in Canada because studios in the states wouldn't work with him. For years, 50 also stayed in the Poconos area of Pennsylvania, and when my mom and sis moved to East Stroudsburg, it wasn't uncommon to see the G-Unit crew. From this release and signing with Interscope, 50 Cent would go on to become a mega-artist selling 10s of millions of albums with his debut & sophomore albums. Of course, his success has also extended beyond music to movies, liquor, vitamin water, headphones, and more. A true hustler from Queens!

Stream the mixtape above, original artwork is below...

50 Cent Guess Who's Back? Album Cover

April 25, 2017

Jeru The Damaja "Built To Last" (Mix)

The 'Built To Last' Radio Show is hosted by Corrado and I Joe, each Thursday from 8-9pm on Radio campus FM in Toulouse, France. The latest mix in their series of tributes to classic emcees and producers shows love to d'orginal dirty rotten scoundrel, Jeru The Damaja. With two classics and plenty other great records in his extensive catalog, there's a lot to unpack in this mix, check it out...

April 25, 2017

The First Annual "Source Awards" (April 25, 1994)

The First Annual Source Awards (April 25, 1994)

The 1st annual Source Awards were held on this day in 1994 at the Paramount Theater in NYC. Perhaps the most memorable moment in its first year was 2Pac and his Thug Life crew busting on stage to perform 'Out on Bail' while blatantly interrupting A Tribe Called Quest's acceptance speech for Artist of the Year (Group). It's been said that it was all a misunderstanding, but had it been televised, I imagine it would have caused even more ruckus. Matter of fact, had it been televised, perhaps Sticky Fingaz wouldn't have (allegedly, even though it's on Youtube) shot several rounds into the ceiling during Onyx's performance of 'Throw Ya Gunz.' In 1995, the Source Awards were televised and of course, it captured the classic Suge Knight moment dissing Puffy and Snoop exciting the crowd asking “The East Coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?” I'm still wondering how Biggie won Lyricist of the Year over Nas in 1995, but I digress. Here is the list of winners in 1994: 

A Tribe Called Quest (Artist of the Year: Group) | Dr. Dre (Artist of the Year: Solo) | Wu-Tang Clan (New Artist of the Year (Group) | Snoop Doggy Dogg (New Artist of the Year (Solo) | Snoop Doggy Dogg (Lyricist of the Year) | Dr. Dre 'The Chronic' (Album of the Year) | Ice Cube 'Check Yo Self' (Video of the Year) | KRS-One (Live Performance of the Year) | Buju Banton (Dancehall Artist of the Year) | Wu-Tang Clan ‘Method Man’ (Single of the Year)  | Menace II Society (Motion Picture Soundtrack of the Year)  | MC Eiht in Menace II Society (Acting Performance of the Year)  | Mary J. Blige (R&B Artist of the Year)  | Dr. Dre (Producer of the Year)

'See, tonight, is the night, of all nights!' - 'Ol Dirty Bastard

April 24, 2017

Dope90 & Setting Up 'Real Hip-Hop Connection'

Dope90 & Setting Up 'Real Hip-Hop Connection'

Sliding in this instrumental selection this evening, it's a collaborative effort from Dope90 & Setting Up; both representing out of Russia, and they put together this compilation of instrumentals called 'Real Hip-Hop Connection.' It was originally released digitally last year, but it was just reissued on limited cassettes and as an A/B side digital release. If you prefer the individual tracks, click HERE; otherwise, you can support below on cassette or digital. As for the producers on the project, it caught my eye because I've been following Bones The Beat Head out of Germany, and he just so happens to have the first beat on the project. I'm also familiar with Devaâ„“oop, but I had to dig into most of the other producers on here - I wasn't disappointed. Order the cassette HERE. I also recommend checking out 'Back In Da Boom Bap 90s' from early 2016, not sure if I posted that.

April 24, 2017

KMD 'Black Bastards' (Hanging In Stores Now!)

KMD 'Black Bastards' 4080 Magazine 1
KMD 'Black Bastards' 4080 Magazine 1
KMD 'Black Bastards' Editorial The Source

From Brian Coleman's 'Check The Technique' Vol.2: There are few releases in hip-hop history with as much mystery behind them as KMD’s second full-length, Black Bastards. After many recording locations, road miles and wild samples, Black Bastards was just about finished when an almost unthinkable tragedy struck. On April 23, 1993, Subroc was killed by an oncoming car as he was trying to cross the Long Island Expressway on foot. He was only 19 years old. In April of ‘94, less than a year after Subroc’s tragic death, the first single, “What A Nigga Know” was released on Elektra. A video for the song was also shot and readied. Unfortunately, the album, whose cover boldly depicted a cartoon “Sambo” being hanged, didn’t even receive the insult of being shelved or pushed back by Elektra Records upon its completion in 1994. Instead, it was outright refused. It wasn't until years later—much like the artist formerly known as Zev Love X, who would shed his old name, image and vocal style and emerged as MF Doom -- the album would be resurrected and released on multiple labels. Doom shares, "Black Bastards was a dope album and it feels right that it finally came out, no matter how that happened. I look at it now and say, ‘OK, I definitely see what we was trying to do.’ I just wish more people would have seen the same thing back then.” MF Doom the character was born out of pain. Real pain. The pain of loss and the pain of rejection. Hiding behind that mask wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t an act. It was an alter-ego wrought out of necessity." Read more in Brian Coleman's book 'Check The Technique' Vol.2. The above interview and editorial give additional backstory, but Coleman's book goes much deeper with a track by track breakdown and commentary from artists, A&R Dante Ross, Pete Nice of 3rd Bass, and a whole lot more. Some extra promo pieces are below...

KMD 'Black Bastards' Post Card
Rest In Peace Subroc KMD
KMD 'Black Bastards' (Hanging In Stores Now!)

April 23, 2017

Time: The Kalief Browder Story (Documentary Trailer)

"TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is a documentary series about a 16 year-old student from the Bronx who spent three years on Rikers Island without ever being convicted of a crime. At 16, Kalief Browder was charged with stealing a backpack, then arrested in the Bronx. He proclaimed his innocence, fought the system, and in the face of torture and unthinkable circumstances, he prevailed. For this, Kalief became an American hero--but he paid with his life. In a groundbreaking six part docuseries, executive produced by Jay Z, TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is an in-depth look at this harrowing story. Using illuminating interviews with world-renowned experts, celebrities, politicians, local officials, and survivors creates eye-opening nonfiction and humanizes the mechanical levers of justice while forcing Americans to reexamine the broken system. Utilizing multiple filmmaking techniques to create a unique and disruptive style, the series takes the viewer deeper and deeper into the perfect storm of the institutional failure that conspired to destroy Kalief Browder." This docu-series is as hard to watch as it is necessary to see. Watch the trailer below...

April 22, 2017

Happy Born Day, Bahamadia! (Next, Vibe 1996)

Bahamadia Next, Vibe Magazine, 1996

Ay, a big Happy Birthday salute to the queen, Bahamadia! Credited as being one of the original MC's to put Philly on the hip-hop map (in a big way), it's noted in her early bios & the 'Next' feature in Vibe (April '96) above, Bahamadia was initially a DJ. Back in '96, only a month after the release of her debut album, 'Kollage,' Bahamadia says: "I can't believe I'm gonna be an entertainer ... I like writing, producing, and the privacy of the studio, I couldn't care less about the performance part." She adds, "People say I'm gettin' ready to blow up ... Whatever. I'm just trying to make good music and get to the essence of what I live -- hip-hop." I respect that and with the gift of hindsight, we can look back on 20 years of a pioneering career and know that she's remained true to her words and embodies that essence. To add to this post, let's dig in the crates for a special 'Back To Philly B-Boy' mix of Bahamadia's 'Uknowhowwedu' by DJ Rob One (R.I.P.). The track is a nice history lesson, so listen closely. If you're interested in owning a copy, look for 'No Tricks In '96 It's Time To Build' on vinyl. Happy Birthday, Bahamadia! "Cerrone was a da break if you was diggin' in the crates..." Facts.

April 22, 2017

DJ Premier: Importance of Vinyl & Record Store Day (2009)

DJ Premier Art Illustration Hip-Hop Nostalgia

Happy Record Store Day! Conceived in 2007, we're now celebrating its 10th anniversary! There's a bunch of great exclusive releases this year; I personally recommend that Slick Rick 7", CD & Children's Book from Get On Down; I mentioned it HERE. Going back 8 years, I interviewed DJ Premier in the cramped back office of Fat Beats on Record Store Day, 2009. He'd just finished signing autographs and hyping for Talib Kweli, who also came through and kicked some freestyles; see that video HERE. I edited the original interview down from a wider discussion on music to focus in on DJ Premier's views on the importance of Vinyl in the culture; Record Store Day, and what stores like Fat Beats - as well as the opinion-leaders behind the scenes - mean to the community. I also kept (and poorly edited) Premo discussing how one of the 48 Laws of Power ("Reputation is the cornerstone of Power") explained his journey in music so well that he tattooed it on his arm. Excuse the video quality, I lost the OG files. Art by Kwills. Go buy something at your local spot!

April 21, 2017

Raekwon's Hip-Hop Quotable on 'C.R.E.A.M.' (1994)

Raekwon's Hip-Hop Quotable on 'C.R.E.A.M.' Hip Hop Nostalgia

On one of the greatest hip-hop cuts of all-time, 'C.R.E.A.M.', Shallah Raekwon was awarded Hip-Hop Quotable for his classic first verse. Ironically, however, I've always rocked with Inspectah Deck's verse on 'C.R.E.A.M.', which I'd argue shows more depth and introspection. 'Life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough' and 'Ready to give up so I seek the old Earth' are two of the most resonant lines on the entire 36 Chambers LP. Just me? Now, that's not to take anything away from Raekwon's verse, which is definitely dope and filled with lines that also stand-out on the track, I'm just going on the record with my opinion. Sidenote: I believe Inspectah Deck had the second most features on the Wu-Tang debut? Either way, I'm more curious to hear your opinions ... the verse was obviously worthy of the Hip-Hop Quotable, but which is your favorite verse on the track? Let me know.

April 20, 2017

Prince Paul "Dew Doo Man" Toilet Tissue (Promo, 1991)

Prince Paul
Prince Paul 'Dew Doo Man' Toilet Tissue (Promo) Hip-Hop Nostalgia

'To hell with Charmin. Prince Paul and his crew from Dew Doo Man Records got the fly shit. A genuine roll of soft, absorbent toilet tissue -- a promotional item with a valuable purpose. Join the mission to clean up all the bullshit tracks in hip-hop land.' You may have spotted a mention of the infamous 'Dew Doo Man Toilet Tissue' in Ego Trip's 'Book of Rap Lists,' under 'Unforgettable Record Company Promo Items.' Prince Paul made the list in wondrous fashion! After the major success he'd had in the late 80s into the 90s, Prince Paul was given his own imprint through Rush Associated Labels in 1991; he named it Dew Doo Man Records, lol. The first and only releases were a couple singles from Resident Aliens in anticipation of a full-length, but Russell - not anticipating sales - shut it down in its first year. The unreleased album, 'It Takes A Nation of Suckers To Let Us In,' was later released online, as well as some related demos, but the toilet tissue promo is easily the funniest thing to come from the label. There will only be one Prince Paul, ladies and gentlemen!

April 20, 2017

Da Youngsta's 'The Aftermath' (4/20/93)

Da Youngsta's 'The Aftermath' (4/20/93)
Da Youngsta's 'The Aftermath' The Source Album Review

The Aftermath is the sophomore album from Philly group, Da Youngsta's; it was released on this day in 1993 via EastWest Records. The trio consists of 2 brothers, Taji & Qu'ran, and their cousin Tarik. The Aftermath was their breakthrough album, featuring Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Treach, and production by The Beatnuts, Pete Rock, Kay Gee, Marley Marl and DJ Premier. I still have the original press kit, which at the top says, "F*ck what ya heard", and launches into a bio that probably should've been rewritten: "Nothing lasts forever and the curfew-fearing Youngsta's of last year are now stayin' up as late as they want, puttin' pen to paper, getting down with the pros, and are ready to take their props." Tarik adds, "You'd be surprised how much you can mature in a year ... especially in the record business." That's true. Prepping fans for a shift in content, Da Youngsta's returned with shaved heads and Treach writing and featuring on the lead single 'Crewz Pop' going at Kris Kross. Follow-up singles were 'Iz U Wit Me' produced by Pete Rock and lastly, 'Wild Child,' which didn't connect as a single. Their 3rd album, 'No Mercy,' dropped in '94 with a heavier influence from Marley Marl & K-Def, bringing the sound they brought to Lords of the Underground. Listen below...

April 20, 2017

Tiffany Burriss "Ain't No Half Coloring" Book

Tiffany Burriss 'Ain't No Half Coloring' Book

'Ain't No Half Coloring' is the new coloring book by artist/writer Tiffany B.; it features 31 drawings with some of Hip-Hop's most talented MCs, producers, and DJs. Not only an expression of her artistic talent, the collection also showcases her unique taste in music, which offers the opportunity to celebrate artists that are truly pushing the culture forward. A sample of the artists included: DJ Premier, Pete Rock, One Be Lo, Reef The Lost Cauze, L'Orange, Black Milk, Pharoahe Monch, Ghostface Killah, MF Doom, Blueprint, & 21 more. We celebrate quality art and niche offerings on Hip-Hop Nostalgia, so if you're here, this coloring book is a perfect fit for you or your children! I've got my official signed copy, click HERE to order yours and support independent art. Now, let me go find my markers and crayons so I can get busy before the kids see it! lol

Tiffany Burriss 'Ain't No Half Coloring' Book
Tiffany Burriss 'Ain't No Half Coloring' Book

April 20, 2017

Killer Mike "How To Open a Record" (2008) + HBD!

Happy Born Day to Atlanta's own, Killer Mike! As part of the duo Run The Jewels, Killer Mike joined forces with Company Flow MC/Producer El-P and have steadily risen from the underground into mainstream success. As a grassroots MC, Killer Mike had been on his grind for well nearly two decades. Coming up through affiliations with Outkast and celebrated features on their 'Stankonia' album, Killer Mike put out several solo projects dating back to his 2003 debut, 'Monster.' In 2008, we scheduled an in-store for Killer Mike's 'I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind II' album at Fat Beats. He wasn't met with fans kicking down the doors like he would be today ('fans' are funny like that, huh?), yet he sat and kicked game and shared his vision with the handful in attendance, mostly artists. One of the main takeaways from that night was a video I recorded, where Killer Mike broke down how to properly open and experience a brand new album. From the packaging to the liner notes to the listening experience; Killer Mike brought a sense of nostalgia to the room and reminded many of us of the earlier days when all these elements truly mattered to a release. He continues to bring that feeling back to hip-hop with Run The Jewels, where their live shows, music, marketing and promo are all top-notch. So, Happy Birthday to Killer Mike, much respect brother - I salute you!

April 19, 2017

In Memory Of ... Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal

Guru Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal

Guru a/k/a Keith Elam passed away after a long bout of cancer at the age of 48 on this day in 2010. First with Gang Starr and later with his ground-breaking 'Jazzmatazz' albums, Guru stood out among rappers for taking his music in a different direction, fusing beats, rhymes, and jazz into a musical flow that was immediately recognized as quintessentially Guru, says PaperMag. Guru's father was the first African-American judge in the Boston municipal court system and his mother once served as co-director of libraries in the Boston public school system - combine that with being a Morehouse College graduate (class of '83) - and it offers insight into his upbringing, as well as the intelligence he would later bring through his rhymes. Thinking back to all the drama that surrounded his final days, it kinda makes me sad to think he passed away misguided and confused about the people closest to him. Yet, DJ Premier continues to raise him up, never forsaking their friendship no matter what was fabricated in that letter, and Guru's legacy lives on through the music, his family and his thousands of fans all around the world. Rest In Peace, Guru! DJ Premier paid tribute in the video below from the final days at Fat Beats, NY... one of my favorite moments.

A post shared by Sav | Graig (@dj_sav_one) on

April 19, 2017

Nas "Illmatic" (The Source Album Review, 1994)

Nas Illmatic Billboard "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"
Nas 5-mic review in The Source "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"

Ok, this is the last post (today) to celebrate the release of 'Illmatic' 23 years ago. Above is an original advert that ran in Billboard on May 21, 1994 -- those of us who were around back then remember that the 'Illmatic' sales didn't come close to matching the quality of the album nor the buzz the album had on the street. So, while they were celebrating its release and how many units were shipped and sold, the advert was mostly to remind people 'Yo, this really dope album is out here for you to BUY!' While we also agree that 'Illmatic' is a classic, it's Nas' sophomore album 'It Was Written' that is still his best-selling album with nearly double the sales of 'Illmatic.' Fans that are a few years younger than me actually prefer 'It Was Written,' and while they may not have been around to see cars get lit on fire in QB after it was released, I cannot argue that I don't love that album, too. Three posts later, I really only have one question: Why did Large Pro almost smack the shit (allegedly) out of MC Serch? What was that altercation about? I'm curious. Meanwhile, enjoy the original 5-mic review by Miss Info in The Source, and if you can dig up copies of 'Illmatic' on cassette, do it! To me, it's still the holy grail of hip-hop cassettes; a must-own! "Your mind races to keep up with Nas' lyricism, while your body dips to the beat. Lyrically, the whole shit is on point. No cliched metaphors, no gimmicks. Never too abstract, never superficial. Even the skit-intros are meaningful, and the album's only guest rapper, AZ, is dangerous in his own right. Nas is just the epitome of that "New York State of Mind" in terms of style and delivery." Well said Miss Info...

nas illmatic cassette "hip-hop nostalgia"

April 19, 2017

Nas 'Illmatic' Press Kit & The Making Of (Video, 1994)

Nas Illmatic Press Kit 1994 Columbia "Hip-Hop Nostalgia" Publicity Photo
Nas Illmatic Press Kit 1994 Columbia "Hip-Hop Nostalgia" Publicity Photo
Nas Illmatic Press Kit 1994 Columbia "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"
Nas Illmatic Press Kit 1994 Columbia "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"

As I continue to celebrate 'Illmatic,' here are copies of the press kit that were sent out, which include 2 publicity photos and an original bio/one-sheet for Nas / 'Illmatic.' The sheet says "Nas is just too smart, too thoughtful, and too wise to mislead his people. That's because rhyming, to him, has never been just a way to get paid and live large ... it's been about getting the truth out and expressing his love for hip-hop." In late January of '94, the documentary-style video clip below - directed by Ralph McDaniels - was sent out to media; it was the same day that "It Ain't Hard To Tell" was released on 12". The video documents Nas' vision from the projects in Queensbridge to inside the studio with DJ Premier, Large Pro, Q-Tip & Pete Rock; all helping to shed light on what made the young Rapper Nas such a unique talent. It was also rumored that the label's marketing team was targeting industry tastemakers with plans to send out Nas t-shirts to no more than 200-250 people to spark conversation and help create the buzz. I'm not sure if they were the 'One Love' t-shirts, a different tee, or if the idea never happened at all? Anyone have more info on that?

April 19, 2017

Shyheim "AKA The Rugged Child" (Billboard, 1994)

Shyheim AKA The Rugged Child OG Sticker "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"
Shyheim AKA The Rugged Child Billboard Article March 26, 1994

'AKA The Rugged Child' was the debut album from Staten Island MC, Shyheim; cousin to Wu-Tang Clan member, Ghostface Killah. He was 14 years old at the time of the release and it just so happened to drop through Virgin/EMI on the same day as Nas’ ‘Illmatic.’ The entire project was produced by RNS, with the exception of one track produced by the RZA. Shyheim was affiliated with GP Wu, which consisted of Down Low Recka, Pop Da Brown Hornet, June Luva and Rubbabandz, all of which are featured on the album. The album's lead single ‘On and On’ also saw a dope remix from DJ Premier, which combined with ‘One’s 4 Da Money,' convinced me to purchase the LP, and I still revisit it from time to time. His follow-up albums ‘The Lost Generation’ and ‘Manchild’ had joints on them too! In 1997, he caught a box-cutter to his face which took hundreds of stitches to close and left a scar from his nose down along the side of his jaw. In Jay-Z’s celebrated book ‘Decoded,’ Hov describes his studio session with Shyheim in '94 for Big Daddy Kane’s track 'Show & Prove,’ and also shares how Shyheim was originally asked to be on Hov’s 'Coming of Age,’ but someone in his Shy’s camp turned it down. In the end, Memphis Bleek was featured on the track instead. Last I’d heard, he was facing a long bid for leaving the scene of an accident in 2014 that left at least one person dead, as well separate charges for a gun conviction. He'll be back though! The OG sticker and an article from Billboard in March 1994 are above, audio of 'One's 4 Da Money' is below...

April 19, 2017

The Audible Doctor "Soul Slaps" (Beat Tape)

Peace to The Audible Doctor, this is his latest beat tape from the archives called 'Soul Slaps.' The project features 12 soulful instrumentals that indeed slap! Many of these tracks coulda-shoulda-woulda went to the artists referenced in the track titles, and others were just left unreleased because the beats didn't find a proper home ... until now. It's intentionally released as-is, but if you've heard his back catalog, you already know to expect flame emojis. The track for my artist, Eternia, was a track I picked for her in like ... '08? It took a year for her to write to it because we were releasing her Fat Beats debut with MoSS, 'At Last.' Named '5 Minutes Ago,' it was never officially released, although there is a video of her spittin' ... all 1st verse. I'm sure other tracks on the project had a similar fate. Support 'Soul Slaps' using the 'name your price' option on Bandcamp.

April 19, 2017

Nas "Still ILL" (XXL, 2009)

Let me be clear, 'Illmatic' is my favorite hip-hop album of all-time. I've purchased the original 10-track masterpiece in every format, then every limited, special, anniversary, deluxe, you-name-it edition that has been released since. If you've read the argument that 14 is a 'magic age' in our development of musical taste and identity, then you can dig my mindstate during the year build up to the release of 'Illmatic' as a H.S. freshman in Queens. It was also Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as Pete Rock & CL, Jeru, etc ... but with Nas, I was still able to get DJ Premier, Q-Tip, and Pete Rock, as well as Large Pro & L.E.S. Today, I am going to share a few different posts on the album, so let's start with the feature above from XXL in 2009: a track by track breakdown with commentary from Serch, Jungle, Faith Newman, Large Pro, Busta, Q-Tip, Premo and more. Over the years, I think this was one of the best articles about the album. Happy 23rd to the classic: 'Illmatic!'