January 31, 2020

Wee Bee Foolish "This Kid" (12", 2001)

Wee Bee Foolish are an alternative hip hop group with members Ken Boogaloo, Yeshua DapoED, DJ Bless and semi-official member producer Xtraordinaire. All four members hail from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in New York. All of their releases have been on the Head Bop music label. They have cited other New York artists such as the Native Tongues Posse, Boogie Down Productions and Juice Crew as influences. To date they have released albums in 2002, "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and 2007's Underdog. Arguably my favorite song from Brighton Beach Memoirs, "This Kid," was released as a 12" in 2001 with distribution through Fat Beats. It's an underground favorite and did well in stores like Fat Beats during that independent run in NYC. Yesh released "Into Fresh Things" on Ill Boogie Records a year later and has remained a popular figure in the underground since back in 1996 with Fondle 'Em. Peace to the good brother Pocho, too. Revisit the underground gem, "This Kid," below...

January 30, 2020

Top Shelf Premium "Volume 4" (Album Stream)

This is Volume Four from vintage clothing store and lifestyle brand, Top Shelf Premium's, mix series bringing together some great producers and underground emcees, and I'm here for it. Artists included on the project are Keisha Plum, Nicholas Craven, 38 Spesh, V Don, Rigz, Chup The Producer, Daniel Son, Futurewave, Pounds, Che Noir, SmooVth, Ksluggah, Mutant Academy, Unluckybastards, Rome Streetz, Wavy Da Ghawd, Ice Rocks, Madhattan, Zoomo, Fastlife, Jai Black, Rahiem Supreme, Twelveam, Nolan The Ninja, Man-z, Revenxnt, Ren Thomas, and Tru Mentlillz. The compilation is available via Tuff Kong Records in Italy. Are they located in NY or NJ? Either way, dig into the mix...

January 29, 2020

DJ Rei Double R & G-Bo The Pro "Tape #19" (Mixtape, 1994)

There are more DJ Rei Double R & G-Bo The Pro mixes on the net than I'd expected, although I guess I shouldn't be surprised... they came with some of the best mixes on the streets in the 90s. Tape #19 was released in 1994 and features dope tracks from Method Man, Dr. Dre & Ice Cube, Craig Mack, Jeru The Damaja, Da Bush Baees, Keith Murray, Black Sheep, Brand Nubian, 2Pac, O.C., Gravediggaz, Notorious B.I.G., The Beatnuts, Black Moon, Outkast, Sourface, Smif-N-Wessun, Nas, Heavy D, Common, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, as well as dancehall cuts by Yami Bolo, Mad Lion, Rayvon, Super Cat, Ini Kamoze, Buju Banton and more. HEAT! I wish I had the original artwork for these tapes. If I dig them up, I'll update their posts. Meantime, dig into another really dope mix below...

January 28, 2020

D.R.U.G.S Beats "Leftovers" (Beat Tape)

They say don't judge a book by its cover... well, I also used to judge a project by its name, too. Throw both of those right out the window when you consider whether to click play on this phenomenal beat tape from Fayetteville, North Carolina's D.R.U.G.S Beats, entitled Leftovers. When your 'leftovers' hit this hard, it's saying a whole lot. It's no wonder I've been following his production so closely, and looking forward to more of his releases. I'm not saying no more, just dig in below...

January 28, 2020

RIP Jahleel "Too Raw" (EP Stream)

New Jerusalem's RIP Jahleel drops a fine project entitled "Too Raw." With a sharp flow and ample charisma on the mic, the East Coast MC rips through 9 tracks on his latest offering. The production is handled by 7 Keys, Tuamie, Yondo Music, KRT, Khronos Beats, Noise System and B. Young. RIP Jahleel might be under the radar for some still, but with his flow, he's bound to make a name for himself in the underground scene. Peace to Jersey, give this Too Raw EP a thorough listen below...

January 27, 2020

DJ Ev "Springtyme 2" (Mixtape, 1995)

Another sureshot from DJ Ev on Springtyme 2. I think this was released in 1995 based on the tracklist. It feautes cuts from Grand Puba, Mary J. Blige & Smif-N-Wessun, Mad Skillz, The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan, Keith Murray, Nine, Little Shawn, Redman & Method Man, Big L, AZ, Gravediggaz, King Just, Das EFX, Onyx, Special Ed, Shabba Ranks, Mad Lion, Down N Dirty Tribe, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Cella Dwellsa, Mobb Deep and more. This one has a nice vibe, listen to the mix below...

January 26, 2020

Bobby J From Rockaway "Summer Classics" (Album Stream)

Summer Classics” is the debut album from Queens, NYC native Bobby J From Rockaway. Boasting production from Hip-Hop veterans like Kwame, Statik Selektah, Sway in the Morning’s DJ Wonder, and Jake One, as well as features from lyrical heavyweights like Lil’ Fame and Killah Priest, the album is not only an homage to his hometown of Rockaway Beach but also Hip-Hop rooted in the classics. The title is inspired by the “Summer Classic” basketball league that has been a staple of his community for generations. In his own words Bobby states: “I feel like every rapper wants that one song that dominates the summertime. My goal was to make a project full of those kinds of records. Something you can play from top to bottom while driving with the top down - Summer Classics.”

January 26, 2020

David Begun "Mad Star: Shades of Black" (Album Stream)

Combining Madlib's Shades of Blue instrumentals along with a few other jazz-inspired tracks from the same era and mixing in the vocals of Mos Def and Talib Kweli, New Hampshire producer, David Begun, has created Mad Star: Shades of Black. There are confirmed rumors of an upcoming Black Star album with production from Madlib (some tracks have already been released), but it may be a while ... so, in the meantime, David Begun has helped us imagine what a full collaboration between one of hip hop's greatest producers and one of its greatest duos would sound like! Dig in below...

January 26, 2020

DJ Dough & Porge 1 "Heads Ain't Ready" (Mixtape, 2005)

Heads Ain't Ready is a real solid mixtape from DJ Dough and Porge 1, released around mid-2005. The mix features tracks from D.I.T.C., Blaq Poet, Snoop Dogg, The Beatnuts, Royal Flush, Nas, Diamond D, Concrete Click, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Black Moon, The Notorious B.I.G., KMD, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Death Camp, Sauce Money, Freddie Foxxx and more. The devil is in the details, these are mostly slept-on records, remixes, exclusive blends, and harder-to-find cuts (at the time). It's a seamless mix, dig in and enjoy a really well done mix below. Props to them on the Show & AG cover...

January 25, 2020

Madlib & Oh No "The Professionals" (Album Stream)

The Professionals has beats by Madlib and raps by Oh No. Their collab LP features Adub, Elzhi, and Chino XL. Madlib is a highly regarded and influential hip-hop producer and occasional rapper, who has left his distinct and stylized sound on classic tracks and critically beloved albums by the likes of MF DOOM (Madvillain), J Dilla (JayLib), Talib Kweli (Liberation), Georgia Anne Muldrow (Seeds), and more. Madlib's collaborations with rapper Freddie Gibbs (PiƱata & this year's Bandana) are some of the most acclaimed hip-hop records of the past decade. Oh No is a rapper and producer who has left his mark across a wide swath of releases. His 2006 concept album Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms was highly acclaimed upon its release. He has produced tracks for the likes of Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Aloe Blacc, Talib Kweli, and Prodigy, while contributing guest verses to tracks by Czarface, Apathy, Murs, Little Brother, and more Madlib + Oh No = The Professionals.

January 24, 2020

Stretch & Bobbito + The M19s Band "No Requests" (Album Stream)

Stretch and Bobbito’s debut album No Requests explores the legendary club DJs’ vast musical knowledge with covers of songs directly from their record crates! Featuring the M19s Band, a live band of elite hand-picked musicians, the gatekeepers of ‘90s Hip Hop step outside their foundational genre base to produce Latin, Afro-beat, Samba, Jazz, Reggae, and Soul reinterpretations of dance floor bangers—ranging from popular to rare and obscure—which loosely depart expected structure and create new nuances to familiar tunes. The group also offers original compositions along the sonic journey. All tracks have one goal in mind: GROOVE! You can order the album on CD, Vinyl, Cassette and box set via Fat Beats, but in the meantime, stream the LP below...

January 23, 2020

DJ Invasion "Rosebudd Infantry: Case Closed" (EP Stream)

Rosebudd Infantry: Case Closed EP is a collection of bonus blends turned EP by DJ Invasion that features Roc Marciano vocals blended seamlessly over CLASSIC Alchemist production. The EP is a follow-up to last year's Rosebudd Infantry: The Marcberg Files from DJ Invasion. The beast with the bars is mashed with the beast behind the boards, it sells itself, check out the EP below. Oh, and once again, DJ Invasion wishes to make clear that this is a fan made project, and not an official release by The Alchemist nor Roc Marciano. Hopefully this EP stays live, if not, give me a heads-up.

January 22, 2020

Nas "Rewind: The Tape Deck 2010-2019" (Mix)

Hip-Hop Is Read, one of the original quality blogs since 2007, put together this compilation mix of Nas tracks from 2010-2019. Putting a bow on the decade, HHIR touched on tracks that feature Swizz Beatz, Beastie Boys, Common, Large Professor, Capone-N-Noreaga, Mobb Deep, Wale, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Damian Marley, Gil Scott-Heron, Kanye West, French Montana, Scarface, DJ Premier, Amy Winehouse, Salaam Remi, and more. Rewind it back, 2010-2019...

January 21, 2020

Mac Miller "Circles" (Album Stream)

Circles is the sixth and final studio album by Mac Miller. Conceived as a sister album to 2018's full length Swimming, the album was completed with the assistance of Jon Brion, with whom Miller worked on Swimming and had been working together on Circles at the time of his passing. While sonically distinctly different than its predecessor, Circles features many of the hallmarks for which Swimming was critically-acclaimed upon its release -- Miller further realizing his singing voice in addition to rapping, live instrumentation and earnest, confessional lyrical content. Listeners will hear shades of some of the album's influences in its songs, from the T-Rex guitar tone of "Surf" to the Plastic Ono Band-era John Lennon feel of its production and the inspired cover of Arthur Lee's 1972 single "Everybody's Gotta Live." It's a momentous final entry into the discography of an artist that remains at the center of reimagining the limits of rap. Rest In Peace, Mac Miller. Listen below...

January 21, 2020

Jazzcat "Rawkus Records Special" (Mix, 2014)

Hip-Hop was at a crossroads in the late '90s. The genre was dealing with the aftermath of a senseless war that took the lives of two of its greats. The success of the "Jiggy" era was moving rap away from the street to the mainstream, and times didn't look any better with Big L's murder in 1999. The purists needed stability and a voice that proved credibility and quality weren't a thing of the past. That voice was Rawkus Records. By the end of the decade they had a roster of MCs that came to be revered as some of the greatest of all-time: Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli, to name a few. At its peak, the label released iconic records like Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Monch's Internal Affairs, and Mos Def's Black on Both Sides. Still, the classics produced during Rawkus' run are too good to be forgotten. As a fan of those early Rawkus recordings, I hope you'll dig this selection of tunes from their catalog. Dig into Jazzcat's Rawkus Records Special mix below...

January 20, 2020

Graf Cratedigger "Between" (Album Stream)

Graf Cratedigger shares some insight on being a creator and producer, as well as where he's at in his journey with his latest project, Between: "Still evolving, still in the journey. Music after hours. Between life, regular job, ambitions and other things. Cratediggin is way of life because we are still digging, still searching, still learning, still evolving. Cratediggin is a journey. We never stop being students.... Following the trends doesn't mean that someone is evolving. Since I remember, I heard that each creator should have his own individual characteristic style, his own trademark. That's how he or she's drums sounds, own groove, voice.... Through our journey, we work for this composition of unique elements that makes our style our own. Why are we still trying to sound like somebody else if all you can really be is yourself?" That's a good point. Hear Between by Graf Cratedigger below...

January 19, 2020

Raekwon "The Purple Archives" (Mix, 2009)

Released with a note from HHIR: "Considerably shorter than The Illmatic Archives, this Rae compilation has still got plenty of rarities that you may have never heard. The audio features remixes and b-sides from OB4CL singles, including an acapella for "Criminology" and a rare freestyle over Channel Live and KRS-One's ill "Mad Izm" beat (this freestyle was only featured on the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... album sampler - nowhere else). Easy, right? Like Sunday morning... Enjoy... and turn it up!!" The Purple Archives was originally released in '09, but it's still fresh as ever, check it....

January 19, 2020

DJ M-1 "Habit Of A Lifetime" (Album Stream)

Dublin, Ireland's DJ M-1 has released his latest production album titled Habit Of A Lifetime. It's 13 tracks of M-1's production and scratches and featuring artists like Sadat X, Wildelux, LMNO, Glad2Mecha, Zilla Rocc and more. The interlude from my OG, DJ Eclipse, was oddly the first thing to catch my attention, because certainly his support is a trigger for me to listen more closely and I definitely found the project worth a closer listen. Much respect to the hip-hop scene out in Ireland, I know Rob Kelly has been holding it down and others too. Check out the project below...

January 18, 2020

The Game "The Documentary" (January 18, 2005)

The Documentary is the debut studio album by West Coast rapper, The Game. It was released on January 18, 2005, by Aftermath Entertainment, G-Unit Records and Interscope Records. The record serves as his major-label debut, preceded by his independently-released debut Untold Story in 2004. In 2001, while The Game was in hospital recovering from a shooting, he decided to pursue a career in music. He released the mixtape, You Know What It Is Vol. 1 in 2002, which was later discovered by legendary producer Dr. Dre and led to him signing The Game to his label, Aftermath. The Documentary includes production from high-profile producers such as Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Scott Storch, and Timbaland, among others, as well as guest appearances from 50 Cent, Eminem, Nate Dogg, Faith Evans, and more. This would be The Game's only album on Aftermath and G-Unit Records, as he left the label later in 2005 after a feud began between him and fellow G-Unit label-mate 50 Cent. Along with his debut LP, The Game released The Documentary DVD, which served to show you The Game up close, in/out the studio. The LP was released on 01/18/05. Updated below...

You can also stream The Documentary album below...

January 18, 2020

DJ Break "Tape 11: Feenin" (Mixtape, 2000)

A Rhode Island native, DJ Break started spinning in 1992 at the age of 14. As a pioneer in multi-tracked mixtapes, Break was blending and producing complex productions incorporating hundreds of records on a single, 90 minute cassette tape. As the popularity of his mixtapes grew, his fan base expanded outside the Ocean State, and he was recognized and nominated for “Best Skills” in Justo’s Mixtape Awards in New York. Continuing to release mixtapes yearly, by 2001 they were in demand worldwide. Tape 11 aka Feenin' was released in 2000 and features his signature cuts and blends on tracks featuring Buckshot, Mobb Deep, Aaliyah, Q-Tip, Nate Dogg, Eminem, U-God, Nextmen, Busta Rhymes, Tha Alkaholiks, Ghostface Killah, Nas, 2Pac, OutKast, Raekwon, Method Man, Mos Def, Black Rob, Masta Ace, Big Pun, Big L, Redman, Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Nelly, and more. An extremely technical blend tape, you should listen below - you can also download DJ Break's mixtape HERE.

January 17, 2020

Tiye Phoenix "The Master's Program" (Album Stream)

Tiye (renamed after the pharoahess in the 18th Dynasty in ancient Egypt, mother of King Tut) began playing the piano by ear as a child, and then studied classical piano between ages 7 and 13. Equally in love with poetry, Tiye evolved into a clever, skilled emcee through the years. In the late ‘90s, Tiye formed S.O.U.L. Food Symphony, a D.C.-based all-female collective with an ethereal sound that consisted of emcees, singers and musicians. SFS performed with artists such as Nas, Black Moon and the late Gil Scott-Heron. Tiye went on to write with legendary groups Public Enemy, and work with classic Hip-Hop producers Hank and Keith Shocklee. Tiye is also a member of The Polyrhythm Addicts, the Hip-Hop supergroup consisting of DJ Spinna, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Mr. Complex. Their album Break Glass released in 2007 received much critical acclaim for its uncompromising return to raw Hip-Hop style. Also, Tiye released a mix CD in 2006 via the internet called "Black Athena" - a self-produced  CD of songs that exude ear-catching lyricism and cutting-edge subject matter. Her highly critically acclaimed solo debut Half Woman Half Amazin' was released in 2009 and now, ten years later, Tiye has released her latest offering, The Master’s Program. She is currently working with a variety of artists and producers on a myriad of upcoming projects. Peep the latest below...

January 17, 2020

The Roots "Do You Want More?!!!??!" (January 17, 1995)

Hip-Hop, a genre of canned beats and laboratory samples, has been broken out of its test-tube origins to explore the worlds of live jazz and funk. On the Brand New Heavies' 1992 breakthrough Heavy Rhyme Experience, guest rapper Grand Puba heralded the dawn of a new hip-hop era with the memorable declaration, "The bass player's real and the drummer's real." Philly-based rap-jazz ensemble the Roots continue this move from laid to played grooves on their debut offering, Do You Want More?!?, a mellow new recording that cockily celebrates its lack of synthesized sound. Inventively backed by bassist Hub, drummer B.R.O. THE R.?, and guest instrumentalists Steve Coleman on sax, Rufus Harley on jazz bagpipes, and Rahzel the Human Beatbox, rappers Malik B. and Black Thought spin rapid rhymes of self-aggrandizement over original bass-heavy jazz compositions guaranteed to set heads nodding... The group shines on funky tracks like "I Remain Calm," a laid-back groove with an addictive bassline, and on more haunting offerings such as "Swept Away," a breathy hip-hop neo-ballad, to firmly establish themselves as daring and highly capable pioneers of the new live hip-hop. - CMJ New Music Monthly, 1/95. The review argues that the lyrics are "predictably empty" on the album, and I disagree, but you can read that in the full review, and listen below...

Cassette, sticker and full review in CMJ are below...

January 16, 2020

DJ Koco "This Is Hip-Hop" (Mixtape, 2011)

This is Japan's DJ Koco in 2011 with This Is Hip Hop. The mixtape features tracks from The UN, Reef The Lost Cauze, Jake One, Sputnik Brown, Apathy, The Demigodz, Born Talent, Natural Elements, Non Phixion, Beneficience, House of Repz, Nut-rageous, Smiley The Ghetto Child, Pitch Black, Roc Marciano, I Self Devine, Marley Marl, Large Professor, Ultramagnetic MCs, Kut Masta Kurt, Statik Selektah, The Sqwad & O.C., and more. Dig into DJ Koco aka Shimokita's This Is Hip-Hop mix below...

January 15, 2020

Happy Born Day, 9th Wonder! (Playlist)

Today, January 15, hip-hop producer, executive and DJ, 9th Wonder, celebrates his born day. Born Patrick Denard Douthit in North Carolina, 9th Wonder started out in the game as the beat-producing member of the group Little Brother, alongside MCs Phonte and Big Pooh. In 2003, he really hit the big time when he remixed, and released, an unofficial version of Nas' "God's Son." Now, with eight solo LPs and more collaborative mixtapes and albums than one can count, 9th Wonder has had a tremendous impact on hip-hop music from the mainstream to the underground. Aside from working closely with lyricists such as Talib Kweli and Murs, 9th has cranked out memorable tracks for everyone from Jay-Z ("Threat" from the Black Album) to Destiny's Child ("Game Over" and "Girl") to Kendrick Lamar ("Duckworth." from DAMN.) In addition to his contributions within the music industry, he has also worked on films and video games, teaches classes that examine songs from the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements and has been the subject of a documentary. 9th also formed the record label, Jamla in 2010, and has since helped nurture the career of Grammy-nominated rapper, Rapsody. Most recently, the "Making a Murderer" producer collaborated with member of The Roots, Black Thought, on the widely-acclaimed EP, Streams of Thought Vol. 1, which serves as the Philly MC's debut project and made its way onto XXL's list of the best hip-hop projects of 2018. Happy Birthday, 9th Wonder! - XXL. The Spotify playlist below celebrates 9th art!

January 14, 2020

DJ Rei Double R & G-Bo The Pro "Old Skool Reggae" (Mixtape)

DJ Rei Double R & G-Bo The Pro dropped off theirOld Skool Reggae mix tape in 199x. The mix tape includes tracks from Shaggy and Rayvon, Mega Banton, Capleton, Dawn Penn, Buju Banton, Sanchez, Major Worries, Lady G, Barrington Levy, Foxy Brown, Reggie Stepper, Shabba Ranks, Snow, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Cutty Ranks, Joseph Stepper, Singing Sweet, Mad Cobra, and more. It's not a prominent part of the mix, but a lot of the tracks have nice blends and remixes to add some extra flavor to the mix. I recommend checking this one out below... lots of dope dancehall joints. Dig in...

January 13, 2020

Rawkus Records "Soundbombing" (Vibe, 1998)

Soundbombing is like sex: Some moves may turn you off--but hold on for the meaningful moments. Shabaam Sahdeeq's epic "Arabian Nights" and Black Attack's rough but melodic "My Crown" prime you like a message. Cerebral B-boys Mos Def and Talib Kweli kiss their Native Tongue-esque tracks with charming integrity. You'll lose control with the nasty-ass Middle Eastern loop and bass drum of Indelible MCs' orgasmic "Fire In Which You Burn." You'll savor Evil Dee's skilled mixing and cuts. But when Meth-wannabe RA the Rugged Man fucks "Flipside" like a two-dollar crack ho--yuck. Still, don't abandon this album. Soundbombing is a keeper. - Vibe, 2/98. It was released in the fall of '97.

Unfortunately, the album isn't on streaming platforms, so YouTube might work?

January 12, 2020

Hus Kingpin x SmooVth "The Connect Tape" (Album Stream)

Hus Kingpin & SmooVth link up for their new collaborative project, The Connect Tape. With 13 cuts, the project features Eto & Big Twins, Rome Streetz, Mach Hommy and production by Wun Two, Giallo Point, Stu Bangas, Doktor Real and more. You know what to expect when these two lyricists link-up, some of the best lyrics coming out of the underground in NY. Listen to the project below...

January 11, 2020

Big Ghost Ltd. "Carpe Noctem" (Album Stream)

In Big Ghost's own words, as is usually best: "Early 2018 I had this crazy idea to pull some the illest underground mfs together to combine forces on some reverse Wu Tang shit n bomb atomically all over some hot fire bangers n create a mutually prosperous opportunity for all involved to flourish mightily.. This was maybe round March.. I aint wanna get into the whys or hows too much but lets jus say that it wasnt some shit that jus came together overnight. Couple roster modifications n 600+ days later.. the moment has now arrived to share the 10th official Big Ghost Ltd project (not including no remix shits)... TENTH. I wanna salute everybody who contributed to the creation of this masterpiece. I aint even gon say nothin else bout the album itself.. but lemme jus say this.. To paraphrase the classic Group Home joint...2019 was yours...2020 is mine. Its only January yo. We 10 days in. This is still only the beginning but.. YOU GOTTA CREW YOU BETTER TELL EM!" Listen below...

January 10, 2020

Mobb Deep "Juvenile Hell" (Press Kit, 1993)

"Coming with jeep-crushing drum beats and ill jazz/funk samples, Mobb Deep is the latest rap export from 4th & B'Way's stable of stars. On their debut album, Juvenile Hell, the MC duo of Havoc and Prodigy bring the flavor. Over hardcore tracks produced by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Paul Shabazz & Slick, and Keith & Dale, they spout spirited rhymes that explore the interior and exterior of urban life. Mobb Deep has spent the last couple of years hangin' in project hallways, bonding with homies, sipping 40s of malt liquor, and knocking suckers out to get a rep. They've now emerged from this street-savage upbringing, telling it like it is in ten songs that'll have ya doin' the freaky-deke at any blazing jam. "We want people to dance to our music, but we also want them to flip the coin and peep what we're sayin'," says Prodigy. It can be said without fear of contradiction that growing up in the ghetto can be cool and messed up at the same time. While, thanks to everyday mental trauma, it can make you stronger in the mind, it can also place you six-feet under. "I think we're a couple of the most strong-minded people in the world," says Havoc of he and his partner."

"Survivors of outdoor bloodbaths and other vestiges of boulevard brutality, as well as active participants in the more joyful activities on the asphalt landscape, Mobb Deep has arrived in Planet Hip Hop with songs like "Peer Pressure," "Me And My Crew" and "Hit It From The Back" that transport the listener to where they come from. Havoc, who is from Queensbridge Queens and Prodigy, a Hempstead Long Island native, met in 1990, when they were students at New York City's High School of Art and Design. "I was in the 10th grade," recalls Havoc. "He was in the 9th. We both used to battle in the lunchroom. One time we went against each other, and because we were real short - we're both just over five feet - everybody said we'd look good together. So we collaborated, and it worked out." The pair began cutting demos. Then, after performing in a number of talent shows, tracking a phat promo for WBLS New York's weekend rap show, and getting ink in The Source "Unsigned Hype" column, they got a rep. Later, Mobb Deep (whose name represents how they roll with their crew) found themselves in the middle of a label bidding war. "It took a while for things to happen for us," says Prodigy, 'but we're happy with the way things turned out'." - 1993

January 09, 2020

MF Doom "Operation Doomsday" (1999 + HBD!)

In the early 90′s, KMD dropped one of the most slept on hip-hop classics of all time with Mr. Hood. The crew planned a follow up to that album with “Black Bastards”, but their label decided against it because of controversial album artwork that showed a character painted in blackface hanging from a tree. That was the last we heard from the group, (until their lost material was released last year) and their luck only get worse, as their DJ, Subroc, who was also brother to group member Zev Love X, died after being hit by a car. KMD’s other member, Onyx, left the group, and thus the crew was disbanded. Enter MF Doom. Similar to the original Marvel Comics’ Dr. Doom, after tragedy struck him, Zev Love X abandoned the person he was, and put on the Metal Face of Doom. Soon after the Monster Island crew was born, which included Doom, as well as another M.F.er, the rumored wheelchair bound, Metal Fingers Grimm... Via Bobbito’s Fondle ‘Em label, Doom started to release 12″ after 12″ of tracks that were the furthest thing from conventional hip-hop imaginable, but somehow still very inviting. Doom’s style wasn’t like the off key, off beat, annoying sound of your typical Company Flow clone, but instead a strange selection of beautiful melodic samples, laced with drums in the most unique way possible. Where hooks should have been, they weren’t. Sloppy samples weren’t chopped up with the same precision of the DJ Premiers or The Beatnuts that we were used to. Outdated 80’s drum tracks were in the place of progressive beats of today. Unrehearsed rhymes were lazily spit, and sometimes even got buried under some bad mixing...

...But you know what? It sounded dope. While many underground heads have anticipated his album, some might be disappointed to only find five new tracks, most of which are overshadowed by the previously released material. Nevertheless, with the new Fantastic Four skits in between, it all comes together nicely, and for the other 99% of the hip-hop audience, it’s an all new listening experience. Standing out among the new tracks is the too groovy “Rhymes Like Dimes”, which features Doom freestyling over the music from one of your dad’s dated pornos. “?” is a phat duet with Kurious featuring the familiar soundtrack that haunts the album’s skits. Otherwise, the classics are all here, with somewhat improved mix downs, still sounding fresh. “Tick, Tick” spotlights MF Grimm , as he slows it down and speeds it up in a schizophrenic manner. “Red & Gold” is a throwback to the early days of hip-hop love ballads, with an incredibly fat sample behind it. “Operation: Greenbacks” and “Dead Bent” are on a similar vibe with the lingering instrumental style that gives Doom’s beats their appeal. And the popular introductory track, “Hey!”, brings back the Scooby Doo loop that made it famous. Unfortunately, only few will recognize this as quality hip-hop. The same people who can’t recognize the freshness of groups like The Lootpack or Co Flow, will most likely hate this album and quickly cast this away as some wack underground shit. If you consider yourself one of these kinds of people, you are better to leave this one alone. If you think you can open your mind to some innovative, unconventional hip-hop, then check for these Metal-ing kids. - HipHopSite (April 20th, 1999). Today is MF Doom's Born Day, revisit his classic album up above.

January 08, 2020

Happy Born Day, Just Blaze! (Playlist)

Just Blaze is a Grammy Award winning producer who first made his name in the early 2000s, working alongside Jay Z to produce classic tracks such as "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Song Cry," and more. He also worked with other Roc-A-Fella artists, providing his heavily sample-based production to artists like Cam'ron, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, and Juelz Santana - among others - playing a major part in shaping NYC's hip-hop sound for that era. He won a Grammy in 2011 for his production on Eminem's Recovery album, and while I don't dig into mainstream music all too often, Just's production is undeniable! His later work with Saigon, Jay Electronica, Fabolous, The Game, and even his co-production with The Audible Doctor, reworking the beat for Joell Ortiz's "Battle Cry," are all incredible pieces of music. To celebrate his Born Day today, I put together a quick playlist that covers some of my favorite cuts in his catalog. Dig into it below and trust, he's one of the most knowledgable artists in the music industry. Gadgets, samples, and the inner-workings of the business, he's a step above the rest. Once again, Happy Born Day to Just Blaze. Give him his flowers!

January 07, 2020

The Original 50 Cent (Documentary, 2005)

During the late 1980s, at the height of New York's brutal crack cocaine epidemic, one man terrorized the city's most notorious gangsters. Armed with a bulletproof vest and an arsenal of weapons, he robbed, killed and extorted Brooklyn's biggest hustlers. A cold-blooded crook, he was the 'hood's version of Billy the Kid, bragging that - one day - he would get rich or die trying... His name was Kelvin Martin. Most knew him simply as "50 Cent", as told on the this 2005 documentary entitled, The Original 50 Cent by Froi Cuesta and Tony Turner. The documentary is hosted by veteran journalist, Bonz Malone, and there are cameos from DJ Scratch, Eric B, 50 Cent and more. If the documentary gets pulled by YouTube, please give me a headsup, so I can update this AGAIN. 

January 06, 2020

Samples From De La Soul's "3 Feet High & Rising" (Video)

This year marked the 30th anniversary of De La Soul‘s debut album 3 Feet High and Rising. In a tribute to the album’s legacy, Polish YouTube user Nama Hecc has compiled every (well... almost) sample used throughout the project. The video is nearly eleven minutes long. In addition to early hip-hop classics, Prince Paul heavily sampled the British funk band Cymande, as well as Steely Dan and Hall and Oates. Additionally, “The Magic Number” samples country legend Johnny Cash and New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. De La Soul credited sampled artists as songwriters for four tracks on the album, but this mashup goes above and beyond to list a full bibliography. The samples have been a point of contention for the group and their former label for years now. This past March, Tommy Boy planned to release De La Soul’s first six albums digitally for the first time. Subsequently, the group notified their fans that they were against this decision. According to the group, they would only receive 10% of royalties from streams and digital sales. In late February, they joined the Sway in the Morning show to discuss the conflict. Maseo alleges that sometime in the early 2000s, Tommy Boy lost their catalog to Warner Bros. due to debt. Over the years, Maseo claims Tommy Boy’s former president Tom Silverman handled sample clearances informally, not thinking the record would be as successful as it turned out to be. When the record took off, copyright infractions began to pile up. At the point of Warner Bros’ acquisition, the label believed it wouldn’t be worth the trouble to resolve the issues with sample clearances needed to make the De La Soul discography available in the digital marketplace. As a result, the group’s first six albums aren’t available on streaming platforms. - via OKP. F#ck Tommy Boy for how they did De La Soul...

January 05, 2020

DJ Cappel & Smitty "Blue Eyes Meets Bed-Stuy" (Mixtape, 2006)

Produced and arranged by DJ Cappel and Smitty, this is their infamous Notorious B.I.G. and Frank Sinatra mash-up mix, entitled "Blue Eyes Meets Bed Stuy." It was released in 2006 and I don't know if it was the Biggie acapellas or the notable Frank Sinatra songs, but one or both set off a chain of events that sent shocks through mixtape vendors around NYC. Whether the artists know it or not, I'm not sure, but stores like (redacted) were allegedly contacted, asking if they had the mixtape for "sale" ... the ones that said they had it, were paid a visit from the alphabet boys. Record stores didn't SELL mixtapes, they sold stickers (or other misc items) and you could get a FREE mixtape with it, lol. Get it? But, you could get caught slippin'... Anyhow, it's still a dope project and the fact that it's readily available on the net (and on exclusive vinyl) reeks of irony, lol. Seeing the opportunity now, I'm sharing it with y'all, listen to it below... (Update, you can also download it HERE.)

January 04, 2020

Westside Gunn "Flyest Nig@@ In Charge" (Mixtape, 2005)

"Before they became one of the most exciting teams to come out of New York, the Griselda crew went through their own rigors of trying to stand out in a sea full of rappers. After delivering their major-label debut album, WWCD, Westside Gunn has shared one of his very first projects. Dubbed Flyest Nig@@ In Charge, Mixtape Vol. 1, the 26-track outing — which was originally released in 2005, and is hitting the DSPs for the very first time — gives a bit of insight into the sound Gunn was developing during the nascent stages of his career. There’s even appearances from the late Machine Gun Blak, which will be the first time many of us will be hearing him on wax." - via 2DBZ. It may be a while before I fully sit with the project, so I'm sharing the release info from 2DBZ... but I trust it's a nice glimpse into Westside's early come-up as an artist. I'd heard that he had to go on the run and this tape was never released... until now. Sounds good so far... minus all the rough skits.

January 03, 2020

Salaam Remi "Do It For The Culture 2" (Album Stream)

Veteran producer Salaam Remi gets a jumpstart on 2020 with a brand new project. The Grammy-nominated beatsmith blessed music lovers with the second installment of his Do It for the Culture series. Led by singles "Find my Love" with Nas and Amy Winehouse, “Shake Dat Je’llo” with Joell Ortiz, and the reggae-laced banger from Akon dubbed, "One Time," DIFTC 2 caps out at 25 tracks. On the lyrical side of things, the Queens-bred received verses from the likes of Busta Rhymes, Bodega Bamz, James Fauntleory, Gallant, Stephen Marley, and others. Back in Sept., Remi spoke with You Know I Got Soul, where he shared, "I’m emptying my hard drive basically.... Before the hard drive dies, let me just share some of the ideas I’ve had. I want to do music when I feel like it. Sometimes when I’m hired by a label and an artist to be their producer, then that’s a service job. I’m giving the paying customer what they want. With the Culture project, it’s all about what I want to do. It’s not about chasing whoever has the most followers that week. That’s cool, but this is just strictly how I want to do it," he continued. - Vibe. I'm a big fan of Salaam Remi, so this was a nice surprise. Dig in...

January 03, 2020

Dirty Harry "High Noon" (Mixtape, 1996)

This is Dirty Harry's classic blend tape High Noon. The tape features Ghostface Killah, Nas, SWV, AZ Yet, Akinyele, Mobb Deep, Biz Markie, Foxy Brown, Jeru The Damaja, M.O.P., Caron Wheeler, Trigger Tha Gambler, Redman, Lil' Kim, 2Pac, D'Angelo, Mary J. Blige, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Foxy Brown and a whole lot more. You know what to expect from Dirty Harry, don't hesitate to click play below...

January 02, 2020

Mad Skillz "Unsigned Hype" (The Source, August 1994)

Coming in a close second in the New Music Seminar MC Battle For World Supremacy, with a more conversational style than the extra-terrestrial approach of his adversary (Supernatural), was Mad Skillz, who has since returned from his home in Richmond, Virginia to earn a few more points in the Rotten Apple. Early one Friday morning this past spring, Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest brought Mad Skillz up to New York radio's freestyle headquarters, 89TEC9, for what turned out to be a classic session. Expanding on KRS's concept in "Hip-Hop vs. Rap," Mad Skillz used a collection of his own favorite punchlines from recent rap hits for his first rhyme over a 45 King "lost break beat." "Boo ya ka/Throw ya guns in the air/She keeps passin' me by/But I don't care/Music/Man I catch wreck/And it's a mystery how I keep boxin' up your chest." He and Q-Tip freaked a few verses back and forth, occasionally coming off the head, to the "Flexi Wit Da Tech" Artifacts instrumental, and the next day came street fame. Since the seminar, Mad Skillz had the opportunity to work with one of the MC Battle's co-producers, DJ Clark Kent, who did some production for his demo. Other beats on the demo were strictly raw 4-track, self-produced material from the lab with a dope cameo appearance from his man Kalonjl. Clear lyrics and vivid punchlines such as "I'll spit you in two like EPMD revenue," prove that Mad Skillz is not just another freestyle MC spitting on ears in a cipher. At press time, he was already beginning work on two songs produced by Q-Tip. - Unsigned Hype (The Source, 8/94). I was originally gonna post the year-end wrap up from Skillz, but decided instead to take it back to the roots of his come-up. Check out his freestyle on 89TEC9 with Q-Tip...

January 01, 2020

Happy New Year: Start Diggin' In The Crates (Vibe, 2001)

Although hip hop's history stretches back more than 20 40 years, its fans are shockingly lacking a sense of history. Ageist, fickle, and attention-deficit, young hip-hop heads crane their necks trying to sneak a peek at what will be hot tomorrow and rarely look over their shoulders at the rich legacy that rap has already bequeathed them. Part of the blame should be placed on the classic rap labels, including Tommy Boy, Def Jam, Jive, and Wild Pitch. They have largely neglected to do with their backlist what rock labels like Columbia and Warner Bros have been doing for years: release reissues that add new luster to dusty titles and introduce heritage acts to new audiences. But all that's changing... Suddenly, several of the older hip hop labels are digging into their crates and bringing out the classics... "I think there's a nostalgia for that freshness of inclusion now, and these records will help fill that need." Tommy Boy's Steve Knuston's target was the backpacker demographic: alternative hip-hop fans and DJs who are "tired of looking for this stuff on eBay." The article in Vibe (June, 2001) continues by discussing expectations and sales projections, which were fairly modest at the time, but clearly this is an ongoing case... Over the years, labels overseas have licensed music from artists and labels for countless reissues: on vinyl, CD, cassette and box sets. With a decline in physical sales and the overwhelming shift to streaming, it's still that backpacker audience that's being targeted - successfully - as a niche audience to ship to. I guess some hipsters, too. Labels like Get On Down, Slice of Spice, Tuff Kong Records, Fat Beats, Back2Da Source, Hip-Hop Enterprise, Six2Six, Dope Folks Records, Chopped Herring, Heavy Jewelz, and lots more have successfully capitalized on this market. As a new label, Griselda has also successfully marketed their physical releases to fans. Salute them, although many fans are unable to afford or refresh their feed quickly enough to cop products. I expect to see a lot of continued growth in 2020! Support it.