May 31, 2018

The Magnificent Tape Band "The Subtle Art of Distraction"

The Magnificent Tape Band are the alter egos of ATA Records founders Neil Innes & Pete Williams, who were the creative driving force behind the debut album by The Sorcerers, for which they wrote and produced all the tracks as well as contributing bass and guitar performances. Sheffield born, Rachel Modest developed her unique vocal ability within the churches and gospel choirs of her local community. Now based in Leeds she has developed a powerful and soulful vocal style that takes inspiration from artists such as Madeleine Bell, Dee Dee Warwick, Dusty Springfield and at times delivers a performance that resembles the falsetto of The Delfonics William Hart. Taking inspiration from the more abstract end of the soul spectrum that has been a richly tapped vein for hip-hop producers, The Magnificent Tape Band aim to create an evocative tapestry of sound that pulls together psychedelic soul with British library music to create a distinctly dramatic sounding record. Recorded on original '60s equipment, using vintage instruments, "The Subtle Art Of Distraction" immediately brings to mind the more experimental psychedelic soul records of the late 60s/early seventies by incorporating driving clavinet, loping drums and swirling organ and Mellotron alongside Rachel Modest's ethereal vocals. Recorded in a disused garage on the outskirts of Leeds, “The Subtle Art Of Distraction” uses an array of vintage equipment to create a dark musical landscape that underpins Rachel Modests powerful vocal delivery. Incredible project, listen below...

May 31, 2018

Blueprint "Two-Headed Monster" (Album Stream)

Although Blueprint is known primarily as an MC by most casual fans, those who are truly in the know understand how prolific and effective he has been as a producer throughout his career. In fact, during the early part of his career, he was known primarily as a producer, crafting the soundscape for multiple albums by Illogic and his crew Greenhouse Effect, as well as releasing two completely instrumental albums. That all changed when his Soul Position collaboration with RJD2 thrust him into the spotlight as an MC and his self-produced debut solo album 1988 showed he could rhyme and produce with the best of them. Throughout the history of hip-hop, there have been many great producers and many great MCs, but very few who excelled at both. With Two-Headed Monster, Blueprint shows once again that he a monster at both beats and rhymes. Produced entirely by Blueprint, the album also features guest appearances from underground legends Slug of Atmosphere, Aceyalone, Mr. Lif, Wordsworth, Supastition, and Has-Lo. The result, is a soulful boom-bap album that adds onto the legacy of the great MC/Producers who paved the way before him. Big-ups to Blueprint, another solid album! Dig into his Two-Headed Monster LP below...

May 30, 2018

Mick Boogie "#NY98" (1998 Mix)

1998 was an epic year in Hip-Hop. Arguably, with so many timeless classics, it was the last great year for the reign of NYC. Jay Z, The Lox, DMX, Wu, Big Pun, Gang Starr, Canibus, Flipmode Squad, Lauryn Hill, Def Squad, A Tribe of Called Quest, Black Star, Noreaga, Lyricist Lounge, AZ, Pete Rock, Cam’ron and so many more. Everything went south after that (pun intended), so Mick Boogie presents to you his #NY98 mix. A grip of tracks from the five boroughs, mixed up into one 2-hour mix. Underground, mixtape, radio, and club… all rolled into one. Listen to Mick Boogie's mix below... 

May 29, 2018

Diamond D "Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop" (Vibe Magazine)

Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop may be the most lauded album on this list -- it's often called one of the 100 best rap LPs of all-time. But as hip-hop's golden age nestles in, a select few producers -- Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, Marley Marl -- are name-checked as the architects of an era. Bronx-born Diamond D is not one of those names. If anything, Diamond, who is still actively producing, has been forgotten. It's a shame: His debut is almost clinical in its precision. Crisp sample sit atop evocative melodies ("Best Kept Secret") and workmanlike rhymes juxtapose slippery hooks ("Sally Got A One Track Mind") to power an album rare now than ever. A producer's playpen. - Vibe Magazine (August, 2008). For context, the list they are referencing is Vibe's 24 "Lost Rap Classics." I don't necessarily agree that Diamond D was ever forgotten, nor that this album was "lost," but I do see their argument and the point they were ultimately attempting to make and that was the fact that Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop deserves more shine and I'm here for that (obviously). I've argued for Stunts as the best solo album in the whole D.I.T.C. crew's catalog. Dig in the archives for that and more!

Vibe Magazine's '08 album review of Diamond D's Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop...

May 28, 2018

Icon Curties "Modus Operandi" (Album Stream)

I'm diggin' this new project from Italian producer, Icon Curties, called "Modus Operandi." The album is being released on CD & Vinyl via Tuff Kong Records, which is also releasing my brother MoSS' production album, "Marching to the Sound of My Own Drum," on vinyl. The album features talented spitters: Recognize Ali, Daniel Son, Hus Kingpin, SmooVth, Estee Nack, Code Nine, Saipher Soze, Rozewood, Anklejohn, and more. Driven by hard drums and moving samples, you should throw this in your car and take it for a ride, you won't be disappointed. Album stream below via Bandcamp; cop the physicals HERE and definitely get a copy of the MoSS album on LP + 7" while you're there!

May 27, 2018

Pusha T "Daytona" (Album Stream)

Daytona is the third (solo) studio album from Pusha T of the Clipse. While it is comprised of only seven songs - which I'd consider an EP - it's alleged that the album was over a year in the making. Initially, the album was going to be produced by noteworthy beatmakers and producers, but - at Kanye West's request - it was scrapped, and Kanye came aboard to produce the entire project. In light of the ongoing feud with Drake, which was (re)fueled by the last track on Daytona, "Infared," I suspect there will be a lot more eyes on this project, and luckily for Pusha T, he delivered an excellent album. Having watched from afar as Drake battled with Meek Mill and Joe Budden, I'd say Pusha T has his hands full ... however, Pusha T is the superior lyricist and I'd argue Drake has far more to lose and isn't prepared to get down in the dirt, which is a competitive advantage for Push. I don't know if Drake can use his celebrity if Pusha T hits hard enough. Regardless, it'll be entertaining to see how this plays out, and even if my taste in music doesn't lead me to the radio or the mainstream, a good rap beef is critical for hip-hop and I'll gladly watch them slug it out on wax. Hopefully they give me more to talk about. That said, don't let the beef distract you from what he's put together here; it's light on tracks but not on everything else you'd expect from Pusha! Dig in...

May 26, 2018

J Dilla 'Production Credit' Interview in XXL

J Dilla Jay Dee Production Credit XXL

I love this quote: "I say it all the time -- that I want a classic, so it's like a dream ... Hopefully the sound that I'm trying to get out there surfaces instead of being under the radar. 'Cause people thought I was out the game, but I haven't even reached my peak yet. So, I'm definitely back at it." His sentiments equally inspire and sadden me. That drive and hunger ... to be heard, to impact a culture; for success and for listeners to hear what you hear in your own head; that's an inspiring message. It saddens me because what we know today is that he passed away probably never feeling like he reached his peak and a lot of people didn't give him his flowers while he could smell them. It took a man's life, literally, to inspire a culture but then outsiders tried to turn his legacy into a t-shirt. It irks me that we neither appreciate the geniuses and the forward-thinkers of our culture in their time, nor do we know how to properly honor their legacies. Rest In Peace, J Dilla. 

May 25, 2018

Take It Personal Podcast "The Reunion Show Episode"

On episode 27, Take It Personal is joined by their close friend and former Philaflava Show member, DJ Krisis. For many, this show will take you right back to high school with classics and forgotten gems from King Just, Private Investigators, Now Born Click, Da King & I, Kurious, Gravediggaz, Organized Konfusion, OutKast, Big Mike, Cash Money Click, Boogiemonsters, Trends of Culture, World Renown, KMD, plus, DJ 360 laces us with a remix of Woo-Hah. We also got a little friendly DJ battle between DJ 360 vs. DJ Krisis on this episode. Trust me, you don't want to miss this! Peace to Philaflava.

May 24, 2018

DJ Evil Dee "Nervous Records Takeover" (RINSE FM, 5/19/18)

DJ Evil Dee of the world famous crew Black Moon held down a guest set on Rinse FM out in London. Titled the Nervous Records Takeover, DJ Evil Dee ran through 90s classics featuring artists like O.C., Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, GZA, Smif-N-Wessun, Blahzay Blahzay, Heather B & M.O.P., Craig Mack, Gang Starr, LL Cool J, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Mobb Deep, Run DMC, Apache, The LOX, Lords of the Underground, Brand Nubian, Das EFX, Snoop Doggy Dogg and more. Of course... "Evil Dee is on the mix, c'mon, kick it!"

May 23, 2018

Leedz Entertainment "Eastern Standard" (Compilation)

If you're a hip-hop artist who was booked for a show or a fan who attended a show in the greater Boston area, the chances are very likely that show was put on by Leedz Entertainment. They've been holding down venues like the Middle East for YEARS and recently released a compilation with 21 tracks that features artists like Mega Ran, Chris Rivers, Slaine, Chris Orrick, Copywrite, Blacastan, K.A.A.N., Awon & Dephlow, Tef Wesley and more. Props to Ned Wellbery, check it below...

May 22, 2018

Royce Da 5'9" "Book of Ryan" (Album Stream)

Let me start with: Royce Da 5'9"'s new album (his 7th solo studio album), "Book of Ryan," is thee best album of 2018. I wanna go on the record with that now, because it will take an "Illmatic" to shift this out of the number one spot. When I heard the S-1 produced "Tabernacle" some years back, I knew there was a shift and Royce was coming for his spot in hip-hop history as one of the most underrated, most consistent and hardest working MCs we have in the culture ... and, more than that, he was going to speak his truth. Set up like a book, the lyrics and visuals match flawlessly. It's tracks like "Boblo Boat" and the track of the year "Cocaine" that make me say "that man is different." We absolutely have aliens in our culture; their talents are just too supernatural, lol. Sure, there are lots of incredible features and the tracks are produced by some of the best in the biz, but it's Royce - front and center - who commands the praise, and I'll leave it there. Dig into it below. You can and should purchase physical copies of this album, for replay and support.

May 21, 2018

Supastition "The Blackboard" (Deluxe Edition, 2013)

"The critically acclaimed 10-song project from North Carolina's Supastition. The Blackboard marked Supastition's return to music after a 3 year sabbatical away from the music industry. Originally released as a free digital EP, this is the Deluxe Edition digipak which contains two previously unreleased tracks. The project features the critically acclaimed, Yada Yada, the conceptual Best Worst Day, and the boom bap inspired “Indestructible”. The only guest appearances on The Blackboard EP are the DJ duo, Faust & Shortee, and German-based vocalist Dominique. Production on the EP is handled by longtime producers Marco Polo, M-phazes, Veterano, the Mighty DR, and Croup as well as Rik Marvel, Microphono and Dirty Art Club." On its 5th anniversary, listen below...

May 20, 2018

Confidence "Produce What You Feel" (Instrumental Album)

"The evolution of Confidence started 17 years ago when he was lucky enough to get his hands on the MPC 2000xl to start creating boom bap hip hop. “Produce What You Feel” embodies the progression and versatility of beats that will take you on a journey through different musical emotions and feelings. The track list plays like a timeline, so you’ll be able to listen to the progression of all the hours and years Confidence has put into mastering his craft. As Rashad once said, “It takes work and focus to get heard and noticed." Listen to "Produce What You Feel" below...

May 19, 2018

Skratch Bastid "Get Up!" (Mixtape, 2007)

Get Up! is a great throwback mix of classic Funk and Hip-Hop from Canadian DJ and Juno-nominated producer, Skratch Bastid. Easily one of the most respected scratch and party DJs you can find around the world, Skratch won Scribble Jam in 2003, 2004 and 2007. Get Up! features tracks from Slick Rick, Rakim, The Incredible Bongo Band, Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Jurassic 5, Maestro Fresh-Wes, Chubb Rock, Strafe, The S.O.S. Band, Eazy-E, Common, Masta Ace, Digable Planets, The J.B.'s, Run DMC, Biz Markie, The Pharcyde, Mary Jane Girls, The D.O.C., Too Short, Kenny Dope, Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones and so much more! If you haven't attended one of the classic (Bastid) BBQs, past guests have included DJ Premier, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Just Blaze, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and more. You can also catch him live occasionally with one of my favorite Canadian MCs, Shad - they did a collaborative EP in 2013 called The Spring Up. Listen to Skratch Bastid's 2007 mix Get Up! below...

May 18, 2018

Lena Jackson "Darkness Brim" (Album Stream)

North Carolina-based Lena Jackson transitioned from the poetry scene to spitting in ciphers. The 10 tracks that make up Darkness Brim present her as an MC with a smart flow who’s open to addressing issues like domestic violence and growing up in poverty: On the string-infused “Poor Kids,” she recounts a childhood of hand-me-downs. A self-determination streak continues through to the end of the project, where on the woozy, bass-heavy “End Of The Tunnel” she puts faith in the mantra “let your passions take action.” - via Bandcamp. Thanks for puttin' me on, listen below...

May 18, 2018

Some Promo Pieces of Nas From My IG

Even when I go long patches of time without updating this site, I still post rather consistently onto my IG page, so if you're not following ... you should remedy that, lol. Perhaps not as much obscure stuff, but I do dig into publicity photos, promos, stickers and pieces of hip-hop nostalgia as often as I can. Above is a publicity photo for Nas, and an original logo sticker. Below is the press kit sent out for Illmatic XX, which I may or may not have posted here before. Just some little artiFACTS here and there + a plug for the IG. Hit me in the comments if you'd like to see more posts (or less posts) about certain things, maybe it'll inspire some new content or ideas for the site moving forward.

May 17, 2018

MC Shan "Hip-Hop Roughneck" (1993)

Bringin' it back at you straight from the Bridge... MC Shan dropped the single "Hip-Hop Roughneck" in 1993 after the Juice Crew MC switched to Livin Large Records from Cold Chillin. The press release says it was to be released on his forthcoming album "Penile Reunion," but that ended up being Shan's second single featuring Neek The Exotic, Snow, Kool G Rap & Diesel ... both ended up being only 12" releases. It'd been three albums & 6-7 years since his smash single "The Bridge" became a Queens anthem, plus the famous beef with KRS-One / Boogie Down Productions. To sum it up, Shan says "Shan was dead, but now I got reanimated / Had the buttons to push, but didn't know how to operate it..." I've always held Shan in high-regard, even on "The Bridge," which was originally just a dubplate of sorts for Marley Marl to rock at live shows, Shan dropped gems in the 3rd verse about mind elevation and straight positivity, which I always respected. We kept in touch in the early '00s, where he was still recording and releasing music; I think his last project was in 2017: a digi-release entitled "Bars Over Bullshit." To be respected & known around the world as a pioneer of this rap shit is no easy feat, his legacy is deeper than 1 battle. The bridge will keep rockin...

May 16, 2018

J Scienide & Bozack Morris "Capeesh" (Music Video)

A hard-hitting, boombap gem from Toronto beatsmith, Bozack Morris, and DC lyricist, J-Scienide. If you haven't supported J-Scienide's LP, "The Actual Heat," click HERE, and also check out Bozack Morris' production album, "Loose Cannons." Below is a video for their collaborative effort, "Capeesh," directed, shot and edited by Mercenary Productions. Keep an eye out for a new project from J-Scienide & Kev Brown, plus the instrumental version of "Loose Cannons," which is sure to drop sooner than later. Warning: "Contains language which may be unstable for some listeners!" Listen...

May 15, 2018

Bahamada "Built To Last" (Mix)

Check out this fine Bahamadia mix from the "Built To Last" Radio Show aka "Conçu Pour Durer." Hosted by Corrado & I Joe, each Thursday 8-9pm, on Radio Campus FM Toulouse. Dig through their dope archives of shows and mixes, always classic material. For this addition, run through joints from "Kollage," "BB Queen," "Good Rap Music" and lots more from her impressive catalog. Peace to the Queen of Hip-Hop - straight outta Philly - Bahamadia. UKnowHowWeDu, click play on the mix below...

May 14, 2018

Cam'ron "Come Home With Me" (Vibe Magazine, 2002)

Cam'ron is a work in progress. Between '98's crude Confessions of Fire and 2000's more refined S.D.E., Cam sharpened his songwriting skills and learned to walk the tightrope between popular and pop -- a balancing act he pulls off on Come Home With Me. Despite its seductive title, however, this album is no invitation to the ladies -- it's flawed by stomach-turning misogyny (jokes about slapping women) and superfluous guest spots (from his Diplomats crew). But Cam'ron's latest monument to his 'hood is still his most polished to date, combining raw humor and tough talk with a stellar beat selection that closely follow's Jay-Z's Blueprint. Cam's witty wordplay soars over Precision and Daz's rigid reworking of the Tupac classic "Ambitionz Az a Ridah" on "Live My Life (Leave Me Alone)." Equally compelling is the title track, on which Cam provides a guided tour of Harlem's harsh reality over dramatic timpani. Though his masterpiece is still in the making, Cam'ron is getting there. It's just a matter of applying more elbow grease. - Vibe Magazine (July, 2002). Personally, I think S.D.E. is Cam'ron's best project, but the Cam'ron/Dipset wave was monumental in NYC at the time of Come Home With Me's release. I can't deny that and it does have joints! Revisit Cam'ron's album below...

Vibe album review for Cam'ron's "Come Home With Me" ...

May 13, 2018

The Doppelgangaz "AAAAGGGHH!" (Album Stream)

World-building isn’t an easy trick to pull off—but the New York duo of EP and Matter Ov Fact have created a vivid rap universe where they perform in full-length black cloaks to an army of fans dubbed the Shark Nation. AAAAGGGHH keeps faith with the Dopp Gang‘s time-tested lyrical, referencing kooky sexual proclivities and a smorgasbord of food while saluting those living on the margins of society. This time, the production takes a cue from mid-’90s Dr. Dre deep cuts: “Mootah Feekah” attacks with forbidding piano stabs and sinewy high-pitched synths; “All Tha Fun” is bedded by squelching bass tones and guest Thonio’s G-funk-style hook; and “Screen Fatigue” offers smart commentary about addictive phone culture over a sleazy groove. The album is capped by the reflective “Highly Favored,” which resonates as both a prayer to the rap gods up above and encouragement to always do the right thing. As Matter Ov Fact puts it, “You gots to live your life before they reminisce on ya.” - Updated description via Bandcamp. Listen to their new album below...

May 12, 2018

Full Circle "Recognize" (EP Stream)

Comprised of Toronto natives Still Waters and Bes Kept, Full Circle brings a unique blend of tight rhymes over soulful neck-snapping beats on their Recognize EP. Within the Full Circle sound are elements of jazz, funk and soul, reminiscent of hip hop heroes such as Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest, Slum Village, Gang Starr, Saukrates and the Diggin' In The Crates crew. Check it out below...

May 11, 2018

J Dilla "Ruff Draft: Dilla's Mix" (Album Stream)

J Dilla's own mixes – recently rediscovered – of his seminal EP, presented in the original issued and alternate sequence. Contains a 2nd instrumental disc. Extensive liner notes and unpublished photos. When Ruff Draft saw its initial release in 2003, J Dilla possessed production skills on par with anyone in hip-hop – technically and creatively. This version of the album takes Dilla’s recently discovered mixes of the album and restores his vision for the project. “Straight from the mothafuckin’ cassette,” as he phrased the sound he was going for on the EP’s intro. The CD issue is buttressed by unreleased tracks and includes the music from the EP as it was originally released, the alternate version that Dilla had for the project and complete instrumentals. Author Ronnie Reese expands upon his original liner notes to further tell Dilla’s story, in a booklet complete with never before published photographs from the Ruff Draft photo session. Ruff Draft, like The Diary, sees release on the Pay Jay, the official imprint of the Estate of James Yancey, founded on behalf of “Ma Dukes”, “Illa J”, Monica and Ty-monae Whitlow, Joylette Hunter and Ja’mya Yancey.

May 11, 2018

Jake One "10 Track Commandments" + "Jake One-Ders"

In '06, Scratch Magazine sat down with producer Jake One to share the 10 Track Commandments, and lay down the law on selling super sonics. 1) Don't give a Pro Tools session without getting some paper. 2) Let your management talk about money. That's their job (Facts, I'm an artist manager!). 3) Don't let rappers know where you live (lol). 4) Give your CD to any and everybody. Nobody is doing anything that special to be worrying about biters. (Today, I doubt he'd still give this advice.) 5) Only work with rappers you like, unless they pay you a lot! 6) Don't sweat A&Rs. Give your slaps to the artists or their managers. 7) Clear your own samples. When a label clears a sample, they offer up the producer's end of the publishing. If you do it yourself you can negotiate a better percentage for yourself. All sample clearances are negotiable - there's no standard percentage that either side should get. (Good advice). 8) Don't tell the label or artist what sample you used until they give you paperwork. If you give the information, they could have another producer redo your slap and you're f#cked. This is different than using some obvious ass record and somebody comes with the same loop. In those cases you need to step your record game up. (Facts!) 9) Don't bite some other dude's shit to the point that everybody can hear it. 10) Unless you're a gear-head, don't use 15 machines together. Keep it simple, stupid. Don't let technical bullshit get in the way of your ideas." I hope you took notes, and if you need Jake One's resume, here's a mixtape called the Jake One-Ders, mixed by DJ Costa & DJ Shig (and co-signed by Jake One) in 2013. It obviously doesn't cover everything, like De La Soul & Doom's track, but I've included a video about that along with the mix below...

Behind The Beat (De La Soul "Rock Co.Kane Flow"). And HBD, Jake One!

May 10, 2018

DJ Rhettmatic "Loops, Chops, Beats & Vibes" (Instrumental Album)

"As you know, to celebrate my birthday every year, I always try to do my best to make some music & share it as a way to say thank you, but this particular project was a bit of a struggle... So what I did instead was use Pro Tools as my way of making beats this time. No drum programming, playing keys and basslines; just straight chopping up, looping, layering samples from records, cut and paste style....basically, on some Raw Sh*t!! It was more tedious & time consuming than my other methods of doing beats, but I have to tell you, it was hella fun. I just listened to bunch a records, recorded it, sample, chop, and however the final product came out, mistakes and all, this is what you're listening to right now. No overthinking, just went with the flow. It was pretty liberating. Anyways, as always, this is my way to celebrate another year on this planet and my humble way to say thank you to everyone that has directly or indirectly, supported, inspired, motivated me in one capacity or another. I am very thankful." Happy Born Day, Rhettmatic. Listen to his instrumental project below...

May 09, 2018

Nature "For All Seasons" (Press Kit, 2000)

Speak to the hip-hop legends of Queensbridge, and many will tell you that their paths of success were filled with temptation and evil spirits: devils on their left shoulders eager to fill the do-gooding angels on their right with six shots from a nine millimeter. These were the realities of this 49-acre housing project. Still are. So when one of the poverty-stricken community's rhyme warriors make it big, the community rejoices. First, they celebrate the fact that one of their own has safely reached the soundproof booth. Second, and of equal importance, they get excited because this accomplishment brings forth hope aspiring MC's still engulfed by the struggle. - Press Kit (2000). Nature was moderately considered one of their success stories. He was burning up the mixtape scene at the time, a full-length was much-anticipated, as all his features and mixtape cuts were insane! While his album didn't necessarily live up to the hype - and The Firm album was considered lackluster, too - I still think there were enough joints on For All Seasons to maintain his 'hood status. "Man's World," "We Ain't Friends," the Nas-assisted "Ultimate High," "Young Love," "Nature's Shine" and "I Don't Give A Fuck" were all in rotation at the time. The LP was mostly produced by Poke & Tone of the Trackmasters, alongside L.E.S., Ski Beatz, Lord Jamar, and more. There were a number of records that coulda been included, but you can dig into the archives for the 2 volumes of Queens Classics from Nature to fill in those gaps. Revisit Nature's For All Seasons below...

Part of Nature's For All Seasons Press Kit, 2000...

May 08, 2018

Nas "Concepts" (Mixed by Vinylcologist)

"NaS is one of the greatest emcees to ever pick up a pen and my favorite of all time. He's inspired me on many occasions getting me through some of the most difficult times in my life as well as continuing to inspire me to this day. I thought it would be dope to put a spotlight on some of his greatest conceptual songs ever." I can relate to that and definitely agree that Nas is one of the best with the concepts and visual lyrics. "The money's ya religion, sky's the limit live life / Numbers is big business, makes the poor live trife / The glimmers of hope provoke, those without dollars to dream / Through your existence become wealthy, knowledge is king." Dig into this mix below.

May 07, 2018

Heather Grey "Black Snow" (EP Stream)

Heather Grey is a producer/musician from SLC, Utah. For his latest 6-track offering, he taps Fly Anakin, Oliver the 2nd, Tha God Fahim, Koncept Jack$on, The Lunch Lady and Huey Briss to bless his beats. I believe this is the first of his projects that I've been hip to, so I'll have to dig into his back catalog, but for now, his Black Snow EP is a solid release, check it out below! Click HERE for more.

May 07, 2018

O.C. "Next" Feature in Vibe Magazine (September, 1999)

O.C.'s debut album, Word...Life, is full of surreal compositions, optimistic arguments, and mature production by DJ Buckwild (from the Diggin' in the Crates crew). There will be complaints that O.C.'s beats aren't as aggressively hyped-up, but that's the point: The rhythms are primitively full yet uncluttered, creating the perfect backdrop for O.C.'s lyrics. On his first single, "Time's Up," he says, "My album will manifest many things that I saw, did, I heard about / Or saw firsthand / Never word of mouth." His voice masterfully grasps the progressively looped beat and rocks you to the sampled Slick Rick chorus: "There time's limited / Hard rocks too." Originally aimed at the underground, the release of this single last fall sent shock waves through the hip hop nation and raised the ante for pretenders posing in a "B-boy stance" without rhyming. O.C. is no longer in the shadows of his "lyrical sparring partners," Organized Konfusion (he costarred on their 1992 single "Fudge Pudge" and freestyles with them frequently). Now he's out in front. And the image O.C. projects in his lyrics is the same one he maintains in his daily travels: straight-up soul power and an aura of strength fortified with knowledge. But who could be a true artist without the experience of pain? The song "Born 2 Live," dedicated to O.C.'s deceased friend Mike Boogie, offers a view of how children come to perceive death. Other songs range from avoiding stupid troublemakers ("Let It Slide") to the self-explanatory "Ma Dukes," which features his mother flexing her strong voice. Well-expressed emotions and a whole slew of funky musical elements help make O.C.'s album a treat for those who appreciate the real." - Next, Vibe Magazine (February, 1995). Listen to Word...Life below...

May 06, 2018

Tony Touch "Hip Hop 61: Comin Of Da Storm" (Mixtape, 1999)

Still' revisiting these classic mix tapes from Tony Touch... this is 1999's Hip Hop 61 aka Comin Of Da Storm, released through Tape Kingz. The tape features joints from Gang Starr, GZA, Lord Have Mercy, Kardinal Offishal, Constant Deviants, Afu-Ra, Screwball, O.C., Terror Squad, Snoop Dogg, The Mad Rapper, Rah Digga, Group Home, Mobb Deep, Noreaga, EPMD, The Beatnuts, DMX, Lootpack, Choclair, Thirstin Howl III, O.G.C., Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Ja Rule, Flipmode Squad, Lil' Cease, Slick Rick and the game-shifting classic from 50 Cent, "How To Rob." Dig into Tony Touch's Hip Hop 61 below...

May 05, 2018

Common "Like Water For Chocolate" (Vibe Magazine, 2000)

"When I create music, I wanna affect people's lives," explains Rashid Lynn, better known as Common (and formerly known as Common Sense). For the past eight years, Common, 28, has been feeding his audience soul food for thought. Any avid followers of the rap phenom will remember his poignant commentary on hip-hop's frequent evolution, "I Used to Love H.E.R.," and the scathing dis record "The Bitch In You." Throughout his first three albums, Can I Borrow A Dollar?, Resurrection, and One Day It'll All Make Sense, Common's messages of enlightenment and armor-piercing freestyles have been borderline brilliant -- touching on heartfelt subjects that range from his own experiences with abortion to the need for black liberation. But while flashier artists have bubbled up with platinum sales and crossover credentials, Common -- who has worked with Lauryn Hill, D'Angelo, Q-Tip, and Mos Def -- has been spreading his word throughout the underground. And that's just fine with him. "For whatever reasons, the masses don't always grab onto the most profound things," explains the Chi-towner turned New Yorker. "I've been making good music, but everything has its time." And with the release of what is arguably his best album, the galvanizing MCA release Like Water For Chocolate, Common's time is now. - Vibe Magazine (5/00). Listen below...

May 04, 2018

Children Of Zeus "Slow Down / All Night" (EP Stream)

First Word Records is very proud to present the triumphant return of the UK's finest Hip Hop Soul duo, Children of Zeus, with a double-header of brand new material. Children of Zeus exemplify the heart and soul of Manchester, UK's now-movement - but don't get it twisted - the vibe is universal, and they definitely ain't new to this. Two decades on from the inception of Broke'N'£nglish and Hoodman, Tyler and Konny have consistently, persistently held their corner, stayed true to the music they love and nurtured their own unique sound. Catch that 90s Bad Boy era vibe with "All Night."

May 03, 2018

Kendrick Lamar "The Damn. Chronic" (Mixtape)

DJ Critical Hype presents The Damn. Chronic: a blend tape of Kendrick Lamar vocals over Dr. Dre's production. This is a really well done, tightly blended mixtape. I could say a whole lot more, but this is one of the most popular mixes on the net right now, and it definitely sells itself as a must-listen all the way through, so ... click play now! While you're here, dig into the archives for other mixes from DJ Critical Hype, which include an earlier blend tape for Kendrick Lamar, Guru of Gang Starr, and I may have even thrown up the promo tape he did for the Barrel Brothers, Skyzoo and Torae? If not, do a quick Google search and grab that as well. Back to the music, listen to the mix below...

May 02, 2018

Casual "Fear Itself" (Vibe Magazine, 2008)

Boasting about one-night stands with taken women, walking the streets armed, smacking up haters - these aren't the kinds of things you expect to hear from a member of Oakland underground crew Hieroglyphics. But they are talking points on Casual's 1994 Fear Itself, an impressive debut filled with aggressively slick lyricism that holds its own against -- and often trumps -- better-known Hiero albums like Souls Of Mischief's '93 'til Infinity (Jive, 1993). Hiero often wanted to prove how much smarter they were than other rappers -- Casual knows better. The smartest guy in the room never says so. - Vibe Magazine (August, 2008) For context, this article was released in 2008, because it was listed by Vibe as one of the 24 "Lost Rap Classics." Where do you rank Casual's Fear Itself - is it a lost classic? Either way, revisit the album below, with production from Domino, Del The Funkee Homosapien, Casual, Jay-Biz and features from A-Plus, Saafir, Del, and Pep Love.

Vibe Magazine's album review for Casual's Fear Itself...

May 01, 2018

Daniel Son & FutureWave "Pressure Cooker" (Album Stream)

A fierce collaboration between Toronto MC Daniel Son & producer FutureWave entitled "Pressure Cooker." A rugged sound throughout with fitting features from Crimeapple, Saipher Soze, and more. The winters up in Toronto grow more unforgiving each year, and the darker, colder side comes out in Daniel Son's content as well. The 12-track "Pressure Cooker" is probably his best effort to date and with the sound in the underground the last few years, he fits along with the best of today's gritty spitters. I'm glad the audience for it continues to grow as well, music was getting too soft for a while there. Dig into "Pressure Cooker" below! CDs and Vinyl available via OfficialCratesMusic.