June 30, 2017

Jay-Z "4:44" (Thoughts)

Finally, an album closer to what I've been wanting to hear from Jay-Z. Grown rap that I can learn and relate to, because - unfortunately - for so long I felt like Hustler Hov was just flashing shine and creating more distance and being more off-putting with each release. This is a nice return to a golden era sound and delivery, more heavily lent to the messages in the music. Props to No I.D. on the production and Jay on many of the sample choices (I'm told). A thought that runs through my head: now that it's here, if the fans don't reward the effort - if the accolades don't come - do we risk admitting that there's no room for this quality of music/messaging in mainstream rap? Is that a harsh reality we'll have to face? Just like White America learned the night of the election; it had to face itself and see the choices the majority had made. Will fans ultimately decide for the fast food rap instead? I'm curious, but, for now, just appreciating a quality album released in the mainstream, that somehow feels like it went against the grain, lol. He's certainly not the only artist to do it, but for a legacy artist of his stature and success, it was clearly an album he felt he needed to make, and certainly one fans needed to hear. At the time of this post, the album was only available on Tidal, but I'm updating it to include the Spotify audio below, because I do not have Tidal, lol. Enjoy!

June 29, 2017

Arsonists "Mixtape, 1998" + Stress Magazine, 1997

This is the original Arsonists mixtape from 1998 featuring unreleased tracks, radio appearances, mixtape intros, etc. This is a rare tape now brought to you in digital format by the Arsonists and Creative Juices. Specifically, the mix features the incredible 'Battle of the Beats' that Arsonists won over some other incredible artists, as well as The Session, Halloween, Venom, Blaze, and a number of really dope exclusive freestyles with DJ Roc Raida (R.I.P.), Tony Touch, Mr. Sinista, DJ Camilo, and more. The real essence of what the Arsonists brought to Hip-Hop was captured in their live show. Their energy and stage presence was unmatched at the time. The article in Stress Magazine (1997) below speaks to that: "One of our biggest influences was the Cold Crush days and watching Wild Style over and over, plus some of us already danced," says D-Stroy. At Arsonist shows everything is crazy planned, like all of them will just freeze in a post during a person's verse or they'll change into airbrushed tank tops with letters on the front that go along with the song they're done. I've seen them incorporate funny hats, karate kicks, old dances and b-boying - and not once come off corny." Yessir! Much love to Freestyle, D-Stroy, Q-Unique, Jise One, Swel, the whole crew. Listen below...

Here's the full article in Stress Magazine, Issue #10, 1997...

June 28, 2017

Gang Starr "Daily Operation" (25th Anniversary Mix)

"Daily Operation: the third LP of one of hip-hop’s most revered and beloved duos: Gang Starr. Released May 5, 1992, the album features classic joints such as “Take It Personal” and “Ex-Girl to Next Girl.” To celebrate the record’s birthday, Chris Read has crafted yet another exclusive mixtape featuring album tracks, alternate versions, and original sample material." Props to Chris Read, WhoSampled and Wax Poetics for a tribute to the greatest duo, and my favorite group of all-time, Gang Starr. R.I.P., Guru. Listen to their 25th anniversary mixtape below and hit the tags for more...

June 27, 2017

Mick Boogie "Excursions: Rarities & Remixes of ATCQ"

A great mix from Mick Boogie covering rarities and remixes from the legendary group, A Tribe Called Quest. Mick Boogie shared his thoughts and what inspired the mix back when he first put it out (2011) and it still speaks to me today: "A Tribe Called Quest is one of my favorite groups of all time... in any genre of music. After seeing Michael Rapaport's amazing documentary on the group, I felt inspired to put together a mix and this is the end result. This is NOT a greatest hits mix. This mix is for the true Tribe fans only... the die-hards who know every lyric and remember every interlude. I thought it would be cool to basically create the "lost" Tribe album... with all the rare songs, demos, limited-edition remixes, and collaborations you may have missed over the years. I hope when you enjoy this as much as I do, and hear some things you have never heard before. Long live A Tribe Called Quest!" For a direct download, click HERE; otherwise, stream it below.

June 26, 2017

"Tribute To Erick Sermon" (Mixed By DJ Psycut)

Founding member of EPMD and Def Squad, Erick Sermon aka the Green Eyed Bandit is a legendary Producer & MC from Brentwood, Long Island. In my opinion he’s always been the funkiest producer on the East Coast. Through his records, I became interested in P-Funk, Zapp, Johnny Guitar Watson, to name a few. On this tribute mix I wanted to pay homage to the 3 main phases of his career. The explosion of EPMD in the Golden Era, his productions for Redman and K-Solo. He made countless remixes, productions, appearances on classic and more slept-on 90’s Rap & R&B joints. The early 2000’s changed production styles slightly but the funk & soul was always there, as evident on his more recent solo work like the Marvin Gaye sampling Just Like Music." - DJ Psycut

June 25, 2017

Vega Benetton "94 Rugged-N-Raw" (Mixtape)

Let's go back to 1994 ... this is Vega Benetton's '94 Rugged-N-Raw,' a classic mix of tracks from Nas, Craig Mack, Big L, The Beatnuts, Group Home, Kurious, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Common, Gang Starr, Keith Murray, Biggie, A Tribe Called Quest, Jeru The Damaja, Channel Live, Black Moon, Mad Lion, Redman, Showbiz & AG, and lots more. Vega Benetton handled the mixing on Torae's first project, 'Daily Conversation,' as well as a Cornerstone Mixtape, a series of mixes for PNC Radio & lots more. For a full tracklist, click the MixCloud link; I posted it all in the description.

June 24, 2017

Royce Da 5'9" "The Bar Exam 4" (Mix Stream)

Royce Da 5’9 delivers the 4th installment to his mixtape series "The Bar Exam," in the form of the aptly titled The Bar Exam 4. Packed with 28 ferocious, lyrical tracks, the album features vocal contributions from Westside Gunn and Conway, Slaughterhouse, Nick Grant, Elzhi + production from Green Lantern. Royce is 100% on that short list of rapper's favorite rappers. Listen to it below!

June 23, 2017

L The Head Toucha "Too Complex" (The Source 4/97)

"Worcester, Massachusetts' L The Head Toucha is an MC whose stylistic flourishes gain inspiration from the sophisticated poetics of contemporaries like Organized Konfusion and The Roots. Slickly produced by one of hip-hop's most slept-on beat-teams, The Vinyl Reanimators, this single provides more than ample spotlight time for L's breathy timbre, enabling "Too Complex" to live up to its title without losing us in overindulgences: "To MC the art of rhyming should be pure and natural / When I think of all these ill skills international / See my words and actions will / Attract the steel like a magnet / N!ggas is stagnant / And incomplete like fragments." Scratch-ins from Trugoy's verse on De La's "The Bizness" are just the cherry on top of this charmingly subtle bounce track ... Endowed with the abilities to finance the utilities, L's debut suggests 'nuff potential. May the world be his." - Chairman Mao (Sure Shot Singles / The Source: April, 1997). Listen to the "Too Complex" single... 

June 22, 2017

DJ Kay Slay & Dipset "The Diplomats" Vol.1-2 (Mixtape, 2002)

When I heard Cam'ron going in over 'Ambitionz Az A Ridah,'  'Maria Maria,' 'Stan,' 'Bitches Ain't Shit,' and others on the Dipset x Kay Slay mixtape, "The Diplomats," I was thoroughly entertained. I'd been following Cam since the Children of the Corn days, but he lost me a bit after S.D.E., even though I considered that to be his best solo album. I kept one eye on the Dipset wave that took over New York, but aside from that mixtape, I wasn't on it too tough. I do, however, consider this to be a phenomenal mixtape that still sounds dope today. Updated with a new link, listen below...

June 21, 2017

Joyner Lucas "508-507-2209" (Mixtape)

This is the fourth solo mixtape from Joyner Lucas, including his "Listen 2 Me" mixtape released as Future Joyner back in 2011. With the mixtapes release on Atlantic Records, this is considered his commercial debut and was preceded by four singles. Joyner says, "This project took two years in the making, there's a lot of records that I scrapped, start over, scrapped, start over. There's records that I've made from the very beginning two years ago that I still kept on the project now. So there's a lot of old mixed with new but it's all cohesive." The mixtape features production by Boi-1da, Frank Dukes, Statik Selektah, Decap, and a wild feature from Mystikal. It's been a minute since my last post about Joyner Lucas, but if you go back, I said when the timing was right, it'd all connect for him. That deal with Atlantic Records is a great look - financially - but we'll see how it works creatively as they are still in the phase of creating his buzz for sales. I think his mentality is too independent for a major, and he already knows how to work his own marketing, so will it be a good fit? Time will tell on that too. Meantime, I wish him much continued success! Listen below...

June 20, 2017

Rest in Peace, Prodigy!

Man, this is another big loss. Rest in Peace to Prodigy of Mobb Deep. P's publicist confirmed his passing with the following statement: “It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.” An OG in the industry and a voice that will be heavily missed. My condolences to his family, friends, and peers. A quote that always touched me comes from Vibe, where Prodigy said: "The music is beautiful because it's a perfect painting of the lifestyle that we live. And the lifestyle of millions of other people in the ghettos. N!ggas that's fucked up, they consider that shit beauty. They like, 'Yo, that's my life. He's talking 'bout my life.' Beauty ain't always a little cute flower. Beauty is anything where people be like, 'Damn....'" People I love considered Prodigy their family, and my heart is heavy for them. R.I.P., P!

Prodigy of Mobb Deep R.I.P.

June 19, 2017

Theory Hazit "Extra Credit" (June 19, 2007)

"Not all rappers have to rise up through existing rap scenes, or fit existing MC moulds. Theory Hazit is a case in point. While born in Kentucky, Hazit boasts nothing of the greasy, crunked-up vibes popular with his Southern states kin. Now relocated north to Cincinatti, Ohio, this deeply religious MC does street wisdom with a thoughtful moral dimension; meanwhile, the beats, some produced by Hazit, some courtesy of a diverse international team of producers including Tony Stone, JustMe and Re:Flex The Architect, match a knowledge of hip-hop history with the muscle of modern rap productions. Hazit’s faith is fairly central on Extra Credit. Take the opening "Lesson In Power", which flexes and spits fire like the most self-aggrandising hip-hop banger, but lyrically, works as a powerful affirmation of faith that sees Hazit as vessel for a higher power, casting out demons and turning 'prostitutes into preachers' through the power of the Almighty." The review cont'd below...

"Whereas many rappers seem cheerful enough to pay lip-service to God while carrying on with all sorts of immoral activities, however, Hazit’s faith clearly infuses his whole worldview. "Mr Hazit" is an earnest hymn of devotion dedicated to the rapper’s wife, while the dreamy "Hello Kideez" marks this rapper as the consummate family man, a warm piece directed towards the children in his life – from his estranged daughter from a previous relationship, to his wife’s son from another lover: 'You are my son, even though I’m not your real dad/ Anything you want in life, I’ll help you get that'. It’s worth reiterating that all this well-meaning God-talk doesn’t leave Extra Credit feeling emasculated. "Gossip Syndrome" picks off rival MCs atop a production reminiscent of respected underground head Madlib, all smoky chopped-up funk grooves and sped-up vocal snippets, while "After School Special" is a lyrically intelligent hip hop tract that rides a stomping Amen break, explaining the power of learning in militant terms. Songs of praise delivered with brains and power." - BBC. Listen to it...

June 18, 2017

Nine "When The Shit Hits The Fan" (12", 1996)

Nine Rapper Bronx

"Boogie Down major like Nine..." This is a white label 12" from '96 by one of the Bronx's most vocally recognizable MCs, Nine. Born on 9/19/1969, Nine played a big role in the sound of the 90s - his certified classic 'Nine Livez' and the people's choice 'Cloud Nine' were played until the tapes popped. Getting an early start on records with The Masters of Funk and Funkmaster Flex, his voice was destined be heard as a solo artist. It's a shame that label issues at Profile/Arista got a hold of him, because new artists were ushered in sporting his style ('A lot of rappers wore my style like an overcoat') and we started to hear Nine less and less. That said, his latest project, '1999,' was released last year on Smoke On Records, so he's still out here making strong moves! Taking it back to 1996, the full 12" for 'When The Shit Hits The Fan' is available to stream below, def give it a listen...

June 17, 2017

DJ Rondevu: Nas & Rakim "Godbrothers 2" (Mixtape)

This is DJ Rondevu's Godbrothers 2: Sacred Book of Rhymes mixtape, which features a nice mix of tracks and vocals from Nas & Rakim's extensive catalogs, blended together. A handful of the tracks were reworked and remixed, along with features from Big L, Biggie, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and more. For those who are unfamiliar, DJ Rondevu is a Brooklyn-bred DJ and producer; he's toured all over the world and worked with countless legends. I've personally seen him DJ for Das Efx at Knitting Factory in 2008 or 2009, but I'm not sure if he's still holding them down. He also produced on one of their last albums. You can stream the full mixtape from 2005 below, click through for the full tracklist.

June 16, 2017

Big Dro & Zinndeadly "Choose One" (12", 2001)

I'll admit, I grabbed this single because of the feature from Mystic; the Oakland MC and songstress, who brought us 'Scars for Luck & Cuts for Freedom' in 2000. I've also supported nearly all the releases on the GoodVibe Recordings label, so it wasn't a big leap that I'd enjoy this single from Big Dro & Zinndeadly too. The 12" came out in 2001, with cuts from DJ Drez and additional features from 427, Phil Da Agony & Planet Asia on the B-Side joint, 'Three O'Clock Rhyme Session.' Zinndeadly handled production on both tracks. Looking into his catalog, Big Dro had a total of 3x 12" releases that I could dig up, as well as being on the GoodVibe Recordings compilation in 2000. I think you'll like this joint as much as I do... so check out the full 12" below. Peace to my sis Mystic!

June 15, 2017

Coming Soon: Samplers, Snippet Tapes & More Mixes

Coming soon .... lots of cassette rips of old snippet tapes, samplers, and mixes. I don't have the best set-up to do it so it'll be pretty standard -- unless someone has some pro-audio suggestions on low... but it'll work. Above is a selection of the tapes I've put aside for a day when I'll actually start working through ripping them digitally. Depending on the length, they will either go up on MixCloud or Audiomack. If anyone has any old cassettes they'd like to contribute or old mags (Blaze, HHC, Rap Pages, Stress, etc), definitely hit me up about it. I've got a nice collection to work from, but there's always more to find - especially internationally, so let's talk. In the meantime, I'll keep posting content that has spoken to me over the years, as well as material that may in the future. I hope its resonating?If you have any suggestions or requests, message me or hit me in the comments.

June 15, 2017

Debonair P "NC Mix: 1989-1999" (Mixtape)

Props to Debonair P, a Melbourne-based DJ, producer, engineer and label owner, who put together this fine mix of indie joints from North Carolina (1989-1999). There are a handful of artists that you should recognize like The Nobodies, Yaggfu Front, Omniscence, N-Tyce & Supreme Nyborn, but also more local records from Wide Awake Contingent, Nottie Head Aliance, The Funkie Leftovers, KSB Fresh and more. Rap used to be more way more geographical than it is today with so much access to the music, so this is a nice mix for those in the know on North Carolina hip-hop, which has seen a lot of success over the last decade and a half. Props to my brother Supastition from Greenville, NC.

June 14, 2017

Rap Masters: "The Most Underrated Rappers List" (1991)

Rap Masters: The Most Underrated Rappers List (1991)

Their underrated rappers list in '91 included: Masta Ace, Lord Finesse, Geto Boys, EPMD, Tragedy, Guru, Q-Tip & Phife, Brand Nubian, Kool G Rap, Freddie Foxxx, Chubb Rock, and more. Pause for a moment to review the list in full. These days, many of these artists are celebrated as some of the best to ever do it; while others have remained underrated their whole careers. Thinking back to '91, who was on top that year? Let's say the top 5 MCs in 1991 were arguably Rakim, KRS-One, Ice Cube, Big Daddy Kane and Chuck D. LL Cool J is not included as underrated so we can assume he'd be the 6th man in '91. Who's next? I'd take Scarface and Kool G Rap, plus of course, Tribe, Gang Starr and EPMD would follow with some of their best work in the years following the list. Masta Ace & Lord Finesse come to mind as two artists that have remained underrated their whole careers, and yet, continue to deliver amazing work for 2+ decades and counting. Turning the page, who are the most underrated in 2017? I'd argue for Reks, Black Thought, Pharoahe Monch, Royce Da 5'9, One Be Lo, Elzhi, Joe Budden, Blu, Rasheed Chappell, Ka, Supastition, Jean Grae, Roc Marci, R.A., Cormega, Styles P, Beanie Sigel, Invincible, Chino XL, Finale, Sean P, Brother Ali, Eternia, Reef The Lost Cauze, and others. I'm curious, who comes to mind for you as underrated? And underrated simply means they've put in the work and their talent is greater... no shade, at all.

Rap Masters: The Most Underrated Rappers List (1991)

June 13, 2017

DJ Chief One "1991" (Mixtape)

DJ Chief One released this throwback mix several years ago, reppin' the year 1991. A dense 64 track mixtape, it covers so many artists, like tracks from Ice Cube, Del The Funkee Homosapien, Cypress Hill, Scarface, Main Source, EPMD, KMD, Nice & Smooth, Black Sheep, Craig G, Showbiz & AG , Genius, 3rd Bass, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr, Organized Konfusion, De La Soul, Ed OG, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature, Poor Righteous Teachers, Slick Rick, Lord Finesse, Public Enemy, Leaders of the New School, De La Soul & so much more! Dig into another great mix, check it out below.

June 12, 2017

Chairman Maf "Alcoholic Soul" (Instrumental Album)

Sheffield, UK's super-producer Chairman Maf is back with his 5th solo instrumental effort, "Alcoholic Soul." The project features 11 tracks of soulful, instrumental hip-hop goodness. According to Chairman Maf, "This album is all about racism, sex, love, alcohol, religion, and err ... meatballs." Can you go wrong with that? I think not. Coming off my favorite project of his, "Zoo," dig into this latest project, streaming below... Oh, and P.S.A. to all the rappers, leave these alone for your mixtapes.

June 11, 2017

Screwball "Next" Feature In Vibe Magazine (September, 1999)

Screwball 'Next" in Vibe Magazine (1999)

June 11, 1999 in Queens, New York: Screwball in the Next (People On The Verge) feature for the September '99 issue of Vibe Magazine. The group Screwball represented out of Queensbridge and included the OG, Blaq Poet, Hostyle, Solo (Kyron) and KL (R.I.P.). "As the duo Kamakazee, KL and Solo have been making noise in the underground with singles like 1997's 'Snakes,' since their album deal with Warner Bros. went sour in 1994. Poet began his career reppin' QB against the attack of BDP's 1987 'The Bridge Is Over' with 'Beat You Down' (1987) and later formed the group PHD. All four came together in 1994 on PHD's posse burner, 'Set It,' before officially joining forces on acclaimed indie singles like 'Screwed Up' (1996). Soon after, they'd release their Tommy Boy debut, 'Y2K,' which featured 'F.A.Y.B.A.N.' (produced by DJ Premier), 'You Love To Hear The Stories' with MC Shan, 'The Blocks' with Nature, and 'Who Shot Rudy' going at Rudy Guiliani. KL passed away back in 2008 and Blaq Poet's consistent work with DJ Premier has been very well-received by fans. Listen below...

June 10, 2017

DJ Chief One "1992" (Mixtape)

Throwback mix from DJ Chief One, representin' the year 1992. The mix is 63 tracks strong, featuring classic cuts from Lords of the Underground, Funkdoobiest, K-Solo, Redman, Naughty By Nature, Showbiz & AG, Zhigge, Das EFX, Grand Puba, Chi-Ali, Main Source, Black Moon, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, Nice & Smooth, Da Youngstas, A.D.O.R, Diamond D, Double XX Posse, Eric B & Rakim, Original Flavor, Mobb Deep, Nas, Kool G Rap & so many more! Check it out below.

June 09, 2017

Juicy The Emissary "Attention Kmart Choppers" (Beat Tape)

Peep the backstory on this dope instrumental project from Juicy The Emissary: On Thanksgiving 1989, Kmart employee and audio enthusiast Mark Davis wandered behind the customer service desk to check out the store’s sound system, which looped muzak and top 40 plus ads and announcements under the banner of “KMRT, The Kmart Radio Network.” When he found last month’s tape hadn’t been thrown out yet, he pocketed it and made a habit of doing this, collecting 56 tapes from 1989-1992. In September 2015, Davis uploaded the tapes to archive.org with the humble intention of preserving them. But within a few weeks he became an internet celebrity among obscure media fans and supplemented the collection with reel-to-reel tapes from the 70s and 80s thanks to Tom Schwarzrock, who acquired them serendipitously along with a deck he purchased. The tapes are like a consumerist time capsule, a vaporwave trove of eerily familiar corporate ephemera extracted from its original context and purpose. Similarly, Attention Kmart Choppers is composed of pieces from this collection chopped up, resculpted, and mosaicked together by Juicy The Emissary, forming a new, distinctly contemporary sound while inheriting a haunting nostalgia that provokes memories burrowed deep in the subconscious. Listen to the Attention Kmart Choppers beat tape below...

June 08, 2017

Kool G Rap & MoSS "Return of the Don" (Album Stream)

'Return of the Don' is the latest album from Hip-Hop pioneer, Kool G Rap. The entire album is produced by Toronto producer, MoSS, who has also worked with Ghostface, Obie Trice, Eternia, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden and lots more. Kool G Rap enlisted features from Noreaga, Lil' Fame, Freeway, Raekwon, Termanology, Saigon, Crooked I, Sean Price, Westside Gunn & Conway, and other elite lyricists. Sonically, MoSS' signature gritty production stands out along with obscure samples, instrumentation and open loops for Kool G Rap to showcase his flow. Unfortunately, as I've gotten older I've distanced myself further and further from some of Kool G Rap's content; it's not for everyone but sounds great, lol. There are classic records that I know all the lyrics to and remember rapping along to, yet give me pause today. That aside, I credit him for the lane of rap he helped create, his influence in the game on artists like Nas, and it's still great to hear him back with a new release - especially produced by my brother, MoSS. Support it HERE and listen to the LP below...

June 07, 2017

Defari "Bionic" (The Source Review, 6/97)

"With last year's arrival of the gruff-voiced LA paparazzi-dodger Xzibit, the Alkaholiks crew expanded its rhyme cipher by one talented newcomer. The single debut of Defari heralds the arrival of another. Independently released on Bay Area rap radio luminary Beni B's ABB Records (510-419-0936), "Bionic," avoids the jovial bounce of the Liks' lush-ous abandonment, but nonetheless impresses via an underground blueprint that forcefully balances aggression and eccentricity. Producer Evidence infuses "Bionic's" immaculate conception of the advanced MC with reverb-soaked snares, a melodramatic piano figure, and Alkaholik E-Swift's scratched-in Raekwon-interjections ("Lock Shit Down!" from Wu's "7th Chamber"), all of which bring more than ample hardware to the iced-grills of MC Steve Austin-wannabe-challengers. Defari's idiosyncratically administered, Ultra-esque declarations of hip-hop chastity ("Handle this / Make you believe like an evangelist / That real MC's are coming to reclaim Los Angeles") add another gratifying dimension to the Likwit Camp's ever-evolving aura ... Make room, motherf#ckers." (Sure Shot Singles, The Source (6/97). Video below.

June 06, 2017

Gang Starr "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (1989)

Gang Starr DJ Premier Guru Wild Pitch Publicity Photo
Gang Starr 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' cassette insert

'No More Mr. Nice Guy' is the debut album from Gang Starr. It was released on this day in 1989 on Wild Pitch Records. All songs on the album are produced by DJ Premier & Guru, except for 'Gusto' and 'Knowledge,' which were produced by the 45 King. There were also earlier singles like 'The Lesson' that was not included on the album, but were added as bonus cuts for a later re-issue. As far as Gang Starr releases, this is less-often mentioned because DJ Premier and Guru were still finding themselves as a duo and they hadn't quite found that signature sound they'd later be known for. However, there were glimpses of the greatness that would come with Premo on the cuts/beats and Guru's message-driven lyrics. In 1989, I was 11 and only had 1 song from 'Step In The Arena' on cassette single. It wasn't really until 'Just To Get A Rep' that I fully got into Gang Starr, although I credit 'Daily Operation' as being the one that had the most impact on me. That's a slow build, I was raised on their music! For fans that went back in their catalog after hearing 'Step In The Arena' or 'Daily Operation,' it must have been a confusing experience to hear 'No More Mr. Nice Guy,' but it's an album that Premo considers his 'resume album.' Him and Guru paid their dues, found their lane and mastered their sound in the coming years. 'Words I Manifest' was the single I first owned and to this day, that intro immediately brings me right back to those early days. Peep the LP below...

June 05, 2017

Has-Lo 'The Paul Tape' (Album Stream)

Has-Lo The Paul Tape Prince Paul

Here's the brand new instrumental project, 'The Paul Tape,' from the Philly MC/Producer, Has-Lo, who now lives in California. The project is an instrumental tribute to the legendary producer, Prince Paul, who if you've been paying attention, you know is one of my favorite producers. I've also publicly supported Has-Lo's music since 2010 and recommend you dig through his back catalog for a lot of great releases including the debut 'In Case I Don't Make It,' where he wrote and produced the entire record. On the instrumental vibe, his short but dope 'Reinterpretations' of Wu-Tang Clan joints had me open last year too. 'The Paul Tape' has 10 instrumentals with crisp drums, audio snippets from Prince Paul and some nice samples like on my favorite beat on the project, 'Hope Ya.'

June 04, 2017

Lost Boyz 'Legal Drug Money' (Classic Material Review)

Lost Boyz Legal Drug Money Advertisement
Lost Boyz Legal Drug Money Album Review

Start HERE, where I first spoke on the Lost Boyz; specifically, the death of Freaky Tah and the many great records that were included on their debut album, 'Legal Drug Money.' That debut was released on this day in 1996 through Uptown Records. The lead singles 'Lifestyle of the Rich & Shameless' and 'Renee' both have alternate mixes on the LP, and while I prefer the single versions more, oddly enough, it took nothing away from how incredibly balanced the LP was between singles and album cuts. Island Def Jam reached out to me with a letter and the 12" from the Don't Be A Menace soundtrack, asking DJs to push the Mona Lisa record 'Can't Be Wasting My Time,' which featured the Lost Boyz. However, once I flipped the record over and heard the original version of 'Renee' and 'Winter Warz,' it was hard to remember that Mona Lisa record, although it was dope, too. I think Lil' Kim was also on that 12" but I can't recall the song. The album's production was handled by Pete Rock, Mr. Sexxx, Easy Mo Bee, Big Dex, Buttnaked Tim Dawg, and more. Super cohesive, the album had 5 singles, coulda been 6. The classic review above does a good job at breaking down the tracks, explaining their 'commercial charm' and giving background information, so check that out. Of course, the classic video for 'Renee' (the Soundtrack Version) is below...

June 03, 2017

Wu-Tang Clan "Wu-Tang Forever" (Snippet Tape, 1997)

Wu-Tang Clan Wu Tang Forever Snippet Cassette Tape Loud Records 1997

This Wu-Tang snippet cassette was released by Loud Records in 1997 in advance of the Wu's double disc album, 'Wu-Tang Forever.' It included snippets of some of the best tracks on the album and clips of the RZA, Raekwon, and Ol' Dirty Bastard speaking on various aspects of the Wu, which you can read more about below. It's only about 12 minutes long and it's repeated on the B-Side of the cassette. 'Wu-Tang Forever' debuted at #1 on Billboard, sold 612k copies in its first week and is 4x platinum. Below is the cassette audio and a page straight from Billboard magazine in May of 1997 discussing the tape. In related news, it wasn't until 2015 that GZA's second studio album, 'Liquid Swords' was certified platinum - 20 years after its release - making it the first album to go platinum since Method Man's 2004 release, 'Tical 0: The Prequel.' Times have changed, huh? 'Wu-Tang Forever' dropped on this day in 1997, so raise a cup for its 20th anniversary! R.I.P., Ol' Dirty Bastard!

Read the article in Billboard Magazine (updated) below...

June 03, 2017

KUPLA "In.The.Forest.We.Are.Wizards" (Instrumentals)

Here are two instrumental albums from Finnish producer (now living in London), KUPLA. I'm not certain who put me on to his work, but I was intrigued by the title of his latest instrumental release, 'In.The.Forest.We.Are.Wizards.' As soon as I clicked play, I felt nothing but good vibes. The project was released in March and of course, I had to go back and dig through his catalog and found 'Gravy,' which is very similar and was released in August of last year. These are Sunday afternoon vibes on a Saturday, lol. Give them some burn, it'll put you in a good place. I'd love to hear the right artist(s) drop bars and melodies with a storyline to these beats. Anyhow, enjoy the keys and basslines, it's a quick listen of about 25 mins in total for today's selection. Dig in below...

June 02, 2017

Evidence "What's The Digg?" (Mixed by MIL)

Compiled and mixed by MIL, the latest What's The Digg? mix pays tribute to Evidence of Dilated Peoples. Diggin' through Ev's discography, MIL mixes some great tracks and many of the samples that were the backdrop for your favorite cuts. From personal experience, I can say that Evidence is one of the most humble and down-to-earth guys I've met in the industry. His catalog is filled with introspection over some of the best and most consistent production you will hear from any artist. As a touring artist, I'm certain he's passed through your city, make sure you catch a live show!

June 01, 2017

Hip Hop Heaven (Vibe, 1999)

Hip Hop Heaven R.I.P. "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"

"Hip Hop Heaven" was printed in Vibe Magazine's October issue in 1999, honoring the lives of eleven artists through illustrations by Natalie Ascencios. As those of us who have been around since the early days of hip-hop get on in years, it's life's cycle that more of our hip-hop legends will be taken from us. In recent years, it feels like time is catching up to all of us, but for many, far far too soon. With that, David Bry's words resonate that much more and I'd like to share them below, and also remember all those we've lost -- then and since -- may they rest in eternal peace! 
"Sometimes, when we hear their music or their voices, distant and muffled coming from a passing car's radio, it's like they're still with us. We can envision them, late at night, huddle in a hazy cipher under the streetlights. Or in the studio, hunched over a notepad, mouthing words to themselves. Rhyming. Consumed, carried by their music. Living for the music, living each day as if it could be their last. And then, one day, it was. Those artists, these artists -- and there have doubtless been others -- were taken from us, taken from where we stay, far too early. Taken by violence or illness or some fateful mishap. But they are still with us. In their words and songs, their souls preserved on record forever. They're still moving us. Still making us think and feel and shiver in awe of their spirit and of their gifts. And we can be thankful, at least, for that."
Rest In Peace: The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Eazy-E, Big L, Sean Price, Phife Dawg, Praverb The Wyse, Pumpkinhead, Guru, Freaky Tah, Roc Raida, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Heavy D, J Dilla, Big Pun, Proof, Adam Yauch, Nate Dogg, Left Eye, Jam Master Jay, Bloodshed, Pimp C, Camu Tao, MC Breed, Charizma, Mac Dre, Apache, Baatin, Capital Steez, Crazy Toones, Eyedea, Fatal Hussein, Half-A-Mil, Killa Sha, KL, Stack Bundles, Chinx, Troube T-Roy, MC Trouble, Cowboy, Scott La Rock, Seagram, Yusef, Stretch, DJ Screw, Too Poetic, and many more that I'm sorry I haven't documented ... gone but never forgotten!

Hip Hop Heaven R.I.P. "Hip-Hop Nostalgia"