Saturday, June 30, 2018

Natural Elements "Built To Last Mix"

The 'Built To Last' Radio Show is hosted by Corrado & I Joe, each Thursday from 8-9pm on Radio campus FM in Toulouse, France. This is another artist tribute mix, this time the legendary underground hip-hop crew, Natural Elements: L Swift, A Butta & Mr. Voodoo, along with Charlemagne on most of the production. Any fans that grew up in the same era of hip-hop as me - with access, of course - were glued to radio to try and catch the Natural Elements crew, late at night, dropping off live freestyles and going bar for bar with one another. Or, up at Fat Beats. Their LP on Tommy Boy Black had it's obvious setbacks, finally getting an independent CD release some years back, plus multiple vinyl releases to celebrate old demos, instrumentals and slept-on cuts. Dig all that up as you can, but for now get familiar with this tightly constructed "Built To Last" mix. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ill Conscious "The Underachiever" (Mixtape Stream)

Dropping on Ill Catz Records (a Belgian label), Ill Conscious' debut mixtape from back in '09-10, "The Underachiever." I'm told this release is limited to about 100 physical cassettes and it's the 9th release from the Ill Catz label. As they also work on pressing "The Prerequisite" to cassette next, we get to dig back into this throwback mix. The 18-track offering features original cuts produced by Mizfitz Sound, Da Cypher, Tom Delay, Josh Grooves, T-Mos, Skratch Zilla, Sinitus Tempo and a nice blend of freestyles over industry beats - Exhibit C & Devil In A Blue Dress to name a few - spread throughout. It's dope that young artists are aware that their back catalogs hold value & can be leverage for new $ too! I've only been to Belgium once (2010, European Tour with Eternia), it's a shame I never crossed paths with the good folks at Ill Catz Records, I wish them much success. Stream "The Underachiever Mixtape" below & order a limited cassette HERE.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gang Starr "The Ownerz" (Vibe Magazine, June 2003)

"For the generation of hip-hoppers who preserved through puberty with the help of conscious kings like KRS-One and Chuck D, but came of age stuck on the street nihilism of Kool G Rap and, later, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr represents a stripped-down and indispensable aesthetic. Few groups embody good old-fashioned hip hop like Keith "Guru" Elam, 36, and Chris Martin, aka DJ Premier, 34, who still encompass the breadth of hip hop before it splintered into subgenres - each too good to recognize the others. The duo has maintained a blemish-free catalog for 14 years, including classics like Step In The Arena and Daily Operation. Should they falter, let alone fall off, as most of their contemporaries have, it would truly indicate the end of an era. But Gang Starr's formula is both straightforward and timeless. And as evidenced by The Ownerz, their first studio album in five years, the two have no intention of switching it up this late in the game." Cont'd below...

"You know their steez: Songs like "Riot Akt" fit right into the canon of Gang Starr greats. Melancholy horns accent a diesel bass line, while Guru laments that "real criminals got immunity." In his simple but pleasant cadence, the 5'8 MC again puts substance before slickness - and the results are refreshing... Each of The Ownerz' songs, however, stands on its own as a respectable Gang Starr effort... While The Ownerz does not spark any new rap trends, it brings back the power of the basics in an ever-evolving rap music landscape. For the first time in five years, a generation of Gang Starr disciples can take ownership of their music, and claim it as a moment of truth." - Vibe, 6/03

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Apollo Brown & Locksmith "No Question" (Album Stream)

"West Coast Berkeley grad, battle rapper and musician Locksmith has hammered out a reputation as one of Hiphop's most enlightened no punch pulling emcees. From his early appearances on MTV's Freestyle Championship to his frequent Shade 45 appearances, Locksmith always brings cutting lyricism that not only questions the status quo but offers deep truths for reflection. Meanwhile Detroit's Apollo Brown has built his illustrious career on emotive production that draws the best out of already legendary mic kings. From his work with Ras Kass and OC, Skyzoo to Ghostface Killah, Apollo repeatedly creates eyes shut, head nodding, soul stirring perfection for our greatest storytellers to lay their truth bare. So when Richmond & Detroit came together in the studio the answer was "No Question" - a new project that finds Locksmith ruminating on everything from advice to his younger self to his continued drive to rise w/o following in anyones footsteps." - MMG

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Theory Hazit "Thr3e" (June 23, 2013)

Thr3e is the third album in the Lord Fire series by Scribbling Idiot member Theory Hazit. Entirely produced by Dert, this album is full of storytelling, reflection, faith and dope beats. "Theory Hazit was born and raised in Winchester, Kentucky with the support of his grandma, an aunt and two uncles. He always had a vivid imagination, enjoying cartoons more than music videos." A man of faith and a very cerebral MC, I've long been a steady fan of his music and along with "Extra Credit," and "Lord Fire," this "Thr3e" release is among my favorites in his catalog. Tracks like "What Lies Beneath" and especially "For Lack of Better Words," represent the quality of Theory Hazit's work that draws me in as a fan. I actually wanted my artist, Eternia, to jump on "For Lack of Better Words;" however different the style mighta been for her (production-wise), I still think it woulda been an incredible collaboration. I'll say it now - on the record - a separate collab will come eventually. In the meantime, dig into Theory's "Thr3e" album, and really sit with the lyrics today, on it's 5th anniversary.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Westside Gunn "Supreme Blientele" (Album Stream)

“They wondered could I make an album better/equivalent to FLYGOD and I answered simply ‘this album is a masterpiece,’” Gunn said on Instagram. “Every beat, rhyme, feature is stellar. As a true fan of hip hop and my love for art, I can honestly say this will prove that I’m a legend. I’ve never claimed to be the best lyricist but I make some of the best music and influence the best in the game. This what the culture needed.” Locked in at 17 tracks, the album with three titles (yes, three) is absolutely stacked with features from Conway, Jadakiss, eLZhi, Anderson .Paak, Busta Rhymes, Roc Marciano, Benny, and CRIMEapple, over seriously banging production from Alchemist, Daringer, Statik Selektah, Pete Rock, Harry Fraud, 9th Wonder, and more. - via 2DBZ

Friday, June 22, 2018

Nas "NASIR" (Album Stream)

Nasir is the twelfth studio album by Nas, released through Mass Appeal Records and Def Jam Recordings. It succeeds Nas' album Life Is Good, released six years prior in 2012. The album features an appearance from executive producer Kanye West, as well as Puff Daddy, 070 Shake, Tony Williams, and The-Dream. When it was announced that Nas would be releasing an album entirely produced by Kanye West, I said I wasn't sure if I was going to listen to it, because Kanye West is a musical genius who trades in f#ckery and I'm not here for it. I skipped the livestream of the premiere in the Queensbridge Projects & kept my head down when people discussed the album, but ultimately I clicked play. It was better than I thought, but not better than it should have been. The vocals from Nas didn't sit in a familiar pocket, which makes me wonder if it was remixed, phoned in or they just didn't sit in on the sessions together. It's been a mixed response, some people do love it, so I'm reserving the right to revisit it, but I suspect this will come and go, with Nas announcing new material shortly. Unrelated, I wanna send a congrats out to Nas for all his recent success with upstarts and investments ... the culture doesn't report enough on that, but keep shining brother.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prodigy "H.N.I.C" (Mixtape, 2000)

"In 2000, before Prodigy released his official solo debut album, H.N.I.C., he teamed up with DJ Whoo Kid to drop his first ever solo mixtape called H.N.I.C. Pt. 1. The tape, hosted by the two, featured unreleased exclusives and never-before-heard freestyles from Prodigy. Whoo Kid recalls Prodigy's respect for the DJ, saying: "He was a fan of the DJ, so he was a fan of Clue, a fan of me, a fan of Cutmaster C, all the Queens DJs that was out there ... Prodigy was actually the first one to give me album cuts that aren’t finished. He did like, maybe a few freestyles, but it was mostly unfinished versions of other Mobb Deep songs, Havoc cuts. It was kind of bugged out." The mixtape had songs Prodigy did with Alchemist that were never released, so when they dropped the tape, it caused issues between Whoo Kid and Alchemist "because Prodigy was the type who didn’t care about getting permission to release his own shit." ...  Remembering what made Prodigy so unique, Whoo Kid points to P's unique delivery as a distinction. "Whenever you’d hear Prodigy come on, you know, Havoc was the cool nigga, he’s in the back, he got his verses or whatever, but when you finally hear Prodigy come on, he was believable. His voice, his cadence, made you want to do what you gotta do, because of the way he was dealing with his sickness. His sickness came out into the music." - XXL

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prodigy "Thief's Theme" x "Stay Chiseled" Freestyles

June 20, 2018 is the one year anniversary of the death of Mobb Deep's Prodigy. To commemorate his creative partner's untimely passing, Havoc has shared two "unreleased exclusive freestyles," as with DJ Absolut. "Thief's Theme," originally a single from Nas's 2004 album Street's Disciple, features both members of Mobb Deep, while Prodigy is solo on "Stay Chiseled," which appeared on Large Professor's 2002 album First Class. Listen to both below, via Fader. Rest In Peace, Prodigy!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Nas "Illmatic: Live From The Kennedy Center" (Album Stream)

Two decades after the album's critically-acclaimed release, hip-hop icon Nas teamed up with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to stage a symphonic rendition of 'Illmatic,' one of the most revered albums in hip-hop history. The new concert film, Great Performances Nas Live From the Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop, captures the energy and nostalgia of this collaborative performance and premiered nationwide via PBS. Vinyl includes Gatefold 2XLP 180 gram (heavyweight) vinyl with 24x36" 2-sided poster, orchestral sheet music book including exclusive photos from performance. Enjoy this classic album in a phenomenal new way!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Amerigo Gazaway "Mecca & The Soul Brother" (Remixes)

Amerigo Gazaway goes back and flips several of his favorite Pete Rock & CL Smooth joints off their classic debut album, Mecca & The Soul Brother, from 1992. It's hard to touch classics like T.R.O.Y., The Basement (R.I.P. Heavy D) and Straighten It Out, but Amerigo breathes new life into these existing classics. The instrumentals for each remix are included as well. Listen below, via Bandcamp.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Crimeapple & Big Ghost Ltd. "Aguardiente" (Album Stream)

Crimeapple & Big Ghost Ltd collaborate a piece of fine art with "Aguardiente." Straight to the point, Big Ghost Ltd says, "I dont sweat the AOTY year shit at all.. Y'all can have those. Ya boy focused on building a timeless unfuckwittable discography b. I want the Big Ghost Ltd name to be some shit y'all cam rely on. My guy Crimeapple brought me one step closer to that goal." Say less, right? Everyone involved has a reputation that commands that you give this a listen below...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Debonair P "Debonair Blends 3" (Mixtape)

Debonair P is a Melbourne-based DJ, producer, engineer and label owner (Gentleman's Relief Records). He put together a nice blend of underground hip-hop tracks from the 90s, cycling through dozens of tracks in around 70 minutes. You'll hear joints from Scientifik, Jeru The Damaja, AZ, Lord Finesse, Juggaknots, Mic Geronimo, Chino XL, DJ Spinna, Method Man, Kool G Rap, Sauce Money, Grand Puba, T-Max, Nick Wiz, Guru, Buckshot, Show & AG, The Nonce, Bahamadia & more.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Ice Cube "The Predator" (Press Kit, 1992)

"In all the controversy that's surrounded his career since he wrote a tune called "Boyz N The Hood" for his homeboy Eazy-E five years ago, there's one thing that journalists sometimes forget to mention about Ice Cube: he's one of the most mesmerizing MCs in hip-hop. Well, that's an issue quickly put to rest on "Wicked," the first single off his new album, The Predator. What's the song about? "I just wanted to get loose," he says, laughing. "I entertain, too. I make records and I can bust. That song describes the way I feel when I'm doing a show and the crowd's going crazy: I feel wicked." A bouncy, noisy jam, "Wicked" typifies Ice Cube's approach to music-making. "I don't stick to one producer. That's why my records sound so different," he explains. "Otherwise it'll sound stale." Cube hooked up with Torcha Chamber, who laid thee tracks for "Wicked," in an unconventional way." 

"In addition to longtime Lench Mob crew members Pooh and Jinx, Cube was joined in the studio by Mixmaster Muggs of Cypress Hill who injected his gangsta swagger in three tracks: "Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha," an ominous warning to cowards and punks, "We Had To Tear This M.F. Up," a look back at the Rodney King uprising which is full of horns and a furious acoustic bass, and "Check Yo Self," featuring back-up by Das EFX on its chorus. "Muggs is the kind of guy who'll work all night if he has to. The trip about him is that he'll create a whole song and will stop and say, 'Fuck it, I don't like it.' He'll erase the loop that he worked ten hours on and replace it with a better one. Most people can't criticize themselves enough to do that ... their ego is too big to start all over."

"The Predator differs from Death Certificate in that last year's flavor was more of a concept album, with it's "Death Side" and "Life Side." "I didn't want to go with a format on this record. I just wanted to do the tracks that I wanted to do." Did you find that is limiting in a way? "No, I didn't find it limiting. I just felt as if it's already been done and I'm not into doing records that's already been done or trying to recreate any old records..." Between the enthusiasm of newcomers like Torcha Chamber and the professionalism of vets like Muggs, Jinx and Pooh, The Predator's sound is anything but boring." - Press Kit. The Predator was released on November 17th, 1992. 

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Nas x DJ Green Lantern "The N Tape" (Mixtape, 2008)

"While Nasir Jones' revised untitled album strives for somber profundity - sketchy essays on Farrakhan, Fox News, and yes, friend chicken - this mix tape puts the N-word on blast like a grad-school gangsta soundclash. Pissed, self-aggrandizing, earnest, surrounded by pop-culture samples blowing like air horns, Nas nods to pioneering race wits Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney, N.W.A., et al. And here, "Black President" - his moving hesitant Obama tribute - is the vibrant centerpiece, not an obligatory coda." - Spin Magazine. Released 10 years ago today, listen to the mixtape below...

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Cage "Purple Rain Mix CD" (2004)

Cage's "Purple Rain" Mix CD was released exclusively with his "Home Movies" DVD in 2004. The "Homie Movies" was a limited edition DVD, which gave behind the scenes looks at The Revenge of the Robots Tour. Scenes included a trip to the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, a cypher with the Weathermen at WKCR in NYC and various live performances, in-stores and whatever else they were doing for shits and giggles at the time. As for the Purple Rain Mix CD, it features various exclusives with Cage, Yak Ballz, Leak Bros and more. A personal favorite of mine is Cage's "Ballad of Worms," which flips Built to Spill's "I Would Hurt a Fly" into an eerie soundscape to deliver a story about his obligation to a sick and dying girlfriend as a metaphor for his real life relationship with hip-hop and music. It's also said to be a love ballad to Zelda from "Pet Semetary," who dies from spinal meningitis. Remember when music had this many layers? In the words of Cage, "Enjoy kiddies!"

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Revisiting an Old Playlist

Diggin' through the crates tonight, curating a golden era vibe in the crib. It started with some Gang Starr, Nas, and Mobb Deep, then went deeper underground to some Adagio!, Natural Elements, Troubleneck Brothers and more. It reminded me to 1) update this site more (I know!) and 2) that I did create a playlist a while back that no one probably ever heard, lol. So, I pulled it up and sure enough: Natural Elements, M.O.P., Troubleneck Brothers, Noreaga, Nas, Big Pun, Gang Starr, Phife, The Whooliganz, Real Live, Cormega & more ... More or less, I come back to a lot of the same artists over time, even if the songs from said artists change up. If you're 1 of the 190 plays on the playlist, props to you, lol ... otherwise, give it a listen. There are some other playlists on this site, click the tags & I'll start making some more ... comment if you want obscure, themed or more current.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

MoSS "Marching To The Sound Of My Own Drum" (Videos)

Back in November 2015, after years of collaborations with such as Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Obie Trice, Sean Price, Kool G Rap, Eternia and countless others, Toronto-based producer MoSS released his debut producer album entitled "Marching To The Sound Of My Own Drum". Since the beginning of his career, the Canadian beatsmith, record digger and music connoisseur has been making a name for himself with his signature sound and on this record he gives an amazing display of what he's capable of doing being backed up by an all stars team that features AZ, Havoc, Slum Village, Onyx, Inspectah Deck, Ill Bill, Skyzoo, Guilty Simpson and 20+ other legendary MC's. A few years after its original release, we've decided to team up with MoSS to bring you this masterpiece on wax and, for the occasion, he's also added an unreleased bonus track called "We Here" that features Smif-N-Wessun that, together with "Emotional Redux", we've put on a 7" together with its instrumental.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Black Thought "Streams of Thought, Vol.1" EP (Album Stream)

With Black Thought of The Roots going up to Funk Flex recently, he lit a spark and opened the eyes of countless new fans - his freestyle was unquestionably a viral moment. Regrettably, he dropped his collaborative project ("Streams of Thought Vol.1") with 9th Wonder & The Soul Council amidst the beef between Drake & Pusha T, not to mention the same day as Kanye dropped his project (I don't even know the title of it). Bar for bar, Black Thought is your favorite rapper's favorite rapper and everyone knows it. I salute Method Man for trading verses with Thought up at Sway In The Morning, that was another viral moment to a lesser degree. 'Streams of Thought Vol.1' is Thought's debut EP and will be first in a series of 3, which features Rapsody, Styles P & more. He adds, “None of this is my solo album. It’s just a chance to see me in a different light doing a different thing.”

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Pusha T "The Story of Adidon" (Drake Diss)

"Since you name-dropped my fiancée
Let 'em know who you chose as your Beyoncé
Sophie knows better as your baby mother
Cleaned her up for IG, but the stench is on her
A baby's involved, it's deeper than rap
We talkin' character, let me keep with the facts
You are hiding a child, let that boy come home
Deadbeat mothafucka playin' border patrol, ooh"

A signature "Yuugh!" from Pusha T on this whole track, no question. I'm not above being petty, for sure, or else I wouldn't even post this audio, but the questions a beef like this raises are more important than the beef itself. Rules? Boundaries? Codes? Now, as layered an MC as Pusha T is, I suspect he only went low because he knows more than we do, or else he wouldn't take these shots at 40; he's above that, no? So, while I won't post about it again (unless another great track accompanies it), we're gonna see it play out. Maybe questions will be answered, because, ya know, Hip-Hop is still young, we're learning as we're going, so this may end as a blueprint for beef moving forward. Again ... Yuugh! Walk away, Drake. Photo courtesy of Purple PR.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Wyclef Jean "The Carnival" (Classic Material, XXL)

Perhaps an interesting choice to touch on Wyclef's debut here, but listen ... I have very fond memories of the Fugees' smash 'The Score' and even Salaam's portion of 'Blunted on Reality.' When the summer of '97 hit, it was Wyclef's 'The Carnival' - not the whole album, but definitely the front end of the project got a ton of burn. The production on "Apocalypse" and the crossover anthem "Guantanamera" gave me lots to discuss with the Cuban family I was staying with while working a night job in Manhattan between semesters in college. You can't deny Clef's talent as a "writer, instrumentalist, producer and mastermind behind the group's (The Fugees) sound." Sure enough, the album went double platinum, and even if "Gone Til November" and "We're Trying to Stay Alive" weren't MY favorite tracks on the album, he had a fresh blueprint and "if an immigrant kid from Haiti can become an international superstar responsible for two classics, then anything can happen." Word. Read more below and salute to Salaam Remi and Warren Riker for the incredible mixing and mastering on the project. Much love to L Boogie. Enjoy the video to "Guantanamera" below...