May 31, 2020

Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked "H.A.R.D." (EP Stream)

Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked met the year they both won XXL's coveted Freshmen of the Year Award. The two's careers are as legendary as any in the rap game. Joell Ortiz started by signing to Dr. Dre's Aftermath label, then moving to Shady records as part of the Super group Slaughterhouse with Joe Budden, Royce Da 5'9 and KXNG Crooked. Meanwhile, KXNG Crooked was signed to Virgin Records at just 17 before joining Death Row Records. He's had a flourishing solo career including collaborations along the way with 2Pac, Benny The Butcher, Raekwon, and more. The West Coast LBC representer KXNG Crooked and Brooklyn's Joell Ortiz have finally come together for their joint project, "H.A.R.D." via Mello Music. The EP is dope, minus the hooks; they coulda scrapped them all!

May 30, 2020

Happy Born Day, Big L! (Playlist)

In Harlem, to know Lamont Coleman was to love him. But to hear "Big L" rhyme was to listen to a living legend. From his days at Julia Richmond High School to his nights rockin' stages from New York to the Netherlands, Big L was a classic cut short long before his time. And when he passed away in February of 1999 at the hands of an assassin's bullet, his legacy seemed destined to have run aground forever. But even in death there is always new life. Having rhymed since the age of 9, Coleman had already made a name for himself in the streets of Uptown. At 16, he regularly contributed rhymes to street corner ciphers and house party sound systems. But his rep was set in stone after meeting with rapper/producer Lord Finesse at Rockin Will, a record store on 125th Street. Finesse had heard L's name in the mouths of many and decided to put him to the test. Coleman responded with the most monumental rhyme of his youth... Seizing the moment Finesse enlisted L as one of the youngest members of the D.I.T.C. crew alongside hip hop veterans Diamond D, Show, and A.G. As part of the crew, L contributed guest verses to songs like Lord Finesse's "Yes You May" remix before signing with Columbia Records in 1992. Three years later he released his solo debut, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. Released three years after it was recorded in the midst of the Bad Boy revolution the album did poorly. Soon after he was released from Columbia Records. For several months Big L vanished beneath Harlem's surface, taking time to contemplate his next move in the wake of Lifestylez's performance. It was then that he found his future in Flamboyant Entertainment... Soon after L returned to the mic... Songs like "Now or Never," the now-classic "Ebonics," a whirling dervish of words lines and phrases that translated current slang into proper English. Big L was gunned down while visiting the Delano Village projects on West 139th street in Harlem. The music he'd recorded before his passing would become The Big Picture on Rawkus in 2000. His close friend, Alexis "Pucci" George said, "His time was cut short. He was the most underrated artist in the industry." (Rawkus Bio, 2000). Listen to the playlist of tracks below to celebrate Big L; he would have turned 46 today. R.I.P., Big L! The art above is by Chris B. Murray.

"I smash mics like cornbread / You can't kill me, I was born dead"

May 29, 2020

LL Cool J "Bigger And Deffer" (May 29, 1987)

Born James Todd Smith in St. Albans, Queens (the New York City neighborhood that borders Run-DMC's Hollis), LL was rapping by the time he was nine years old. At eleven he was leading local rap crews, and at thirteen he was making demo tapes at home in his basement and sending them around to the record labels releasing rap records. "I've always had a way with words," he says. "People used to tell me I speak like a poet." Before any of his music business competitors caught on, Rick Rubin, then a 22-year old New York University student and co-owner (with Russell Simmons) of Def Jam Recordings, recognized the poet in LL. In November '84, "I Need A Beat" by then 16-year old LL was the first twelve-inch single released by Def Jam. A year later, shortly after the label was signed to CBS Records for worldwide distribution, LL's Radio was the first Def Jam album released. Produced by Rubin, Radio immediately won high critical praise." In 1987, LL returned with Bigger And Deffer. His bio continues, "As his own producer on Bigger And Deffer, LL has broadened his palette. The album moves from the aggressively high-energy rants of "I'm Bad," "Get Down," and "Aah, Let's Get Ill," to the cartoon fantasies of "My Rhyme Ain't Done," to the ultra-sexy ways of "Kanday" and "Bristol Hotel." Stylistically, he moves from the relentlessly hard rap of "The Breakthrough," to the New Edition-styled "I Need Love," to the Moonglows-inspired "Do Wop," to "Go, Cut Creator, Go" -- in which Chuck Berry meets The Who on Farmers Boulevard in Queens." (Original Press Kit, 1987). 

On Friday, May 29, 1987 (the date of the album's release in the tri-state area), the New York Post reviewed Bigger And Deffer, saying: "Here's the next blockbuster rap album. Busier and more dynamic production than ever heightens LL Cool J's blinding vocal precision, and the results are endless strings of killer hooks in "I'm Bad," rapped to the "Minute Mouse" theme; "Ahh, Let's Get Ill" and the tall-tale rap "My Rhyme Ain't Done." "Kanday" is more proof of the drop-dead ingenuity that's becoming standard in rap. But if its treatment of women raises hackles, "The Bristol Hotel" won't help at all. Still, "The Do-Wop," the Chuck Barry homage "Go, Cut Creator, Go" and the ballad "I Need Love" display rap's surprising flexibility and its entertaining propensity to take the form of freewheeling pop collage." With Bigger And Deffer, LL delivered a summer classic!!! Listen HERE.

May 28, 2020

Top 20 Greatest Hip-Hop Samples Of All-Time (Playlist)

WhoSampled has put together many Top 10 Most Sampled lists over the years, but here they've shifted the focus slightly for their G.O.A.T list and just 10 selections didn't quite seem to do the list justice, so they've expanded the run down to 20 titles - The 20 Greatest Hip Hop Samples of All Time. 'Greatest' is of course a subjective measure, so rather than select our personal favorites, they've deferred to the opinions of the WhoSampled community. The following list runs through the 20 Top Rated Samples on the site, that is to say the sample listings with the highest number of 5 Star community ratings. Check out their playlist of all the featured tracks and their samples on Mixcloud below or read HERE for the complete run down. I'd agree on some of these, listen below...

May 28, 2020

Underground Airplay, Vol. 1-6 (Mixtapes, 1993-1997)

One of the original series of mix tapes to represent hip-hop culture and fashion, curated by Echo Unlimited and Lyricist Lounge's Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall. From the years 1993 to 1997, 6 tapes were released, along with a 7th that I can never seem to get my hands on, as well as 2001's DJ Spinbad-mixed Version 1.0 on CD, and Peter Rosenberg's 2013 "The New York Renaissance," which was a reboot of the classic series when Joey Bada$$ was named the creative director and helped curate the mix along with his Pro Era squad. These complimentary mix tapes were seen as a form of promotion and branding for Mark Ecko's fashion company. He initially pressed 10,000 of the 44-minute promotional tapes which were distributed with each purchased T-shirt and featured some of the best of hip-hop's underground scene. Both signed and independent artists were included from Cella Dwellas, Problemz, Mad Skillz, Ran Reed, Natural Elements, Shabaam Sahdeeq and more. With the release of its 6th volume in 1997, the production totaled over 250,000 copies. '97 is also the year that they were legally forced to change the company's original "Echo" name to its current "Ecko" (via Free Stylin'). Lyricist Lounge was a perfect fit for these tapes as they were establishing themselves as the premiere platform for underground artists to showcase their skills. While some of the artists never became household names, these tapes still represent a great time in underground music and all the tapes remain highly sought after to this day. Enjoy Volumes 1-6 down below, much respect to the Lyricist Lounge. Be patient if the page is slow to load with all the audio embedded.

May 27, 2020

Dirty Art Club "Gardens" (Instrumental Album)

Dirty Art Club was originally a duo consisting of Madwreck and Matt Cagle, representing out of Charlotte, NC. I'd seen information saying that Madwreck left the group some years back (2015), but I don't enough to speak on the how/why. Either way, Dirty Art Club's latest release, Gardens, is more genre bending and stretches the core sound of sample-based instrumentals composed with analog and digital instrumentation. Gardens shows a wide range of emotions and captures a lot of moods. This is far from a typical beat tape, you need to cop the vinyl and sit with it at length! However - in the meantime - sample the album below and then hit the archives for older projects...

May 27, 2020

Happy Born Day, Jadakiss! (Playlist)

“I don’t compromise; straight bars and no cutting corners,” says Jada. “I’m painting pictures that make you feel like you’re there. Real life realities brought to you in music where I make you feel like you were there when you listen to me.” One to be reckoned with for over two decades, his ability to mature with the times and maintain his integrity has been Jadakiss’ key to becoming one of Hip Hop’s greats. “Those who make a career out of it are the ones you should stick and gravitate to,” he says. “I’m defiantly one of those and should be here for a long fucking time.” Well said and reflective of the career he's made since entering the game with a feature on Main Source's "Set It Off," and the early group demos as the Bomb Squad and The Warlocks as "Big Jay." Jadakiss remains one of the most skilled emcees still in the game... his flow and raspy voice put him near the top of the list. To celebrate his birthday today, I made a quick playlist of tracks - 30 in total - to give a brief overview of some of my favorites from his extensive catalog. It's unfortunate that D-Block's mixtape run can't be properly reflected on most streaming platforms, but for those that were there, it was one of the best and most impactful for music coming out of New York (along with G-Unit and Dipset). If you disagree, go ahead and knock yourself out! Happy 45th Birthday, Raspy! 

May 26, 2020

J​.​PERIOD Presents "The Live Mixtape" (Ms. Lauryn Hill Edition)

Here is the latest installment in J.Period's The Live Mixtape series, which debuted last night and is now available for download in its entirety today, in celebration of Ms. Lauryn Hill's birthday! This former Fugee had the world in the palm of her slender brown hand with the release of her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, never letting anyone forget: This is Hip-Hop. The formidable lyricist with the raspy voice of an angel delicately fused R&B, reggae, and hip hop into one powerful, cohesive piece of work. (Vibe, 2003) There's so much I could say, but nothing speaks to her talent better than the music itself, so please sit back, relax, and enjoy this great mix by J.Period and wish a very Happy Born Day to one of the greatest artists in Hip-Hop history, Ms. Lauryn Hill!

May 26, 2020

Take It Personal Podcast "The Remix Episode"

The Take It Personal podcast is back with Episode 65, where they ask: "Remember the remix? Remember buying that cassette single because you needed that b-side featuring that new remix? Remember the remix that breathed new life into a track you had just starting grown tired of? Remember hearing the debut of a new rapper on a remix? Remember splurging and buying that maxi-single because it had not just 1 remix, but 2? And don't get me started on the unreleased b-side gems. That's a whole nother episode." Amen, I remember those days! The site is built around many of those memories. They continue, "The remix is a lost art today, but in the 90s it meant something. Some remixes had different vocals, and some different beats. Some remixes were just flat-out better than the originals. Some remixes started and even saved careers for many rappers and producers. Remember the first time you heard On The Run? What about the incredible Stress remix? Remember hearing Mos Def on the Stakes Is High Remix? Episode 65 is our first installment of our Remix series. Thanks to guys like Pete Rock, Marley Marl, DJ Premier, DJ Muggs, Salaam Remi, Large Pro, Da Beatminerz, Diamond D and Buckwild to name a few, the remix became a staple in 90s hip-hop. We got 68+ remixes on Episode 65 and we're just getting warmed-up, too! At the break, the gang discusses the beauty of the remix. We pick our favorites in each set (3) and take you down music memory lane with stories mixed-in with some unexpected hilarity. This is easily one of our best episodes, ever!" All that said, you have about 4 and a half hours of music to digest below...

May 25, 2020

Slick Rick "The Art of Storytelling" (May 25, 1999)

Slick Rick was 32 years old when he made his fourth studio album The Art of Storytelling. ⁣According to Def Jam,⁣ Slick Rick and Lyor Cohen set up a house in Bearsville, New York and made this album in 2-3 weeks. In a Complex feature, Clark Kent spoke on the studio in Bearsville, saying "They were in barns, and it had the ill loft. Me and my two homies, basically my nephews, we went up there, and I just made beats all day. And there was this cabin next door where him and his wife stayed." He also said the Trackmasters were there with 50 Cent who was recording at the same time. The Art of Storytelling was instantly a success - selling over a 100k in just a few days and certified Gold within a month of its release. ⁣The album featured production from Clark Kent, Jazze Pha, Trackmasters, Ty Fyffe, DJ S&S, Dame Grease and among others, Kid Capri. It also featured vocals from Nas, Big Boi, Canibus, Raekwon, Snoop Dogg and skits with Ed Lover, Redman, Rev Run, Q-Tip and Peter Gunz. After his classic The Great Adventures of Slick Rick in 1988, I'd agree with Spin Magazine when they said Slick Rick's "Two subsequent LPs, 1991's The Ruler's Back and '94's Behind Bars were piecemealed by his record label while the patch-eyed kid was one the other side of the wall." In his own words, "To me, this is my real second album. The other 2 - the second and third album - I didn't like them. I thought they were rushed - it wasn't my full potential." Quite the comeback, however short-lived it may have been. While early adverts estimated the release to be in January 1999, The Art of Storytelling was officially released on May 25, 1999. Watch the video to "Street Talkin" with OutKast from the LP below: "Since I came out of jail, it's like the planet gone bananas..."

May 25, 2020

Mick Boogie "theMICKsTape: Jay-Z B-Sides" (Mix)

MICK (f/k/a Mick Boogie) presents #theMICKsTape, 4 hours! of Jay-Z's classic b-sides. The mix was recorded live via Instagram on May 19, 2020. There's that live element to the mix; no rhyme or reason, and an interactive feeling to it because, as I said, it was recorded on IG. That said, if you ignore some of the commentary and shout-outs between records (no shade, MICK), it's still a really dope mix to let rock in the background and hustle through your errands, your work or your commutes to/from work - Hustler Hov's B-sides are the perfect complement to getting you through your day. Click through for the full list of tracks he played in the 4-hour mix. Dig in below! 

May 25, 2020

SadhuGold "Golden Job Season One" (Instrumental Album)

Don't know much about Philadelphia producer, SadhuGold (outside of a few production credits here and there), but Golden Job Season One caught me by surprise upon its first listen. This raw blend of soulful and fonky instrumentals is an excellent listen from start to finish! The 11 tracks are hard-hitting, and the song titles are comical to say the least. Really, dig into this one and I'm gonna do the knowledge... I have a feeling I've been bumpin' more of his stuff and never put it together. In fact, use the search function, maybe my memory is completely useless! Either way, better late than...

May 25, 2020

In Remembrance of Camu Tao (June 26, 1977 – May 25, 2008)

Tero Smith, aka Columbus, Ohio MC and producer Camu Tao, passed away on this day in 2008 at the age of 30. As a member of the Definitive Jux family, Camu Tao worked with RJD2 and Copywrite in MHz, with Cage in Nighthawks, and Metro in S.A. Smash. He collaborated frequently with El-P, both on solo projects and in their groups Central Services and The Weathermen (which also included Cage, Yak Ballz, Tame One, and Breeze Brewin). El-P shared the following message back in 2008: "Today, at around 2 p.m., our dear friend, family member, and musical collaborator Tero 'Camu Tao' Smith passed away in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Tero had been quietly fighting for his life for the last year and a half after being diagnosed with lung cancer. To those who knew Tero, he was an almost uncategorizable force of nature. Wild, hilarious, proud, loving, tough, outspoken, spontaneous and brilliant. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and he dripped creativity, leaving inspiration and awe in the hearts and minds of anyone who was fortunate enough to see him work. We, his friends and family, have truly had our collective hearts broken by his passing. Not only because of the loss of our friend, but because of the loss of his contribution to those who never knew what we knew about his talent and his potential. He was the secret that no one wanted to keep, and we always knew that one day his vision and his heart could change music forever the way he changed all of our lives. His departure from us all one month away from his 31st birthday is nothing less than a tragedy...nothing less than a crime. He was a gift to us all, and he is irreplaceable. Rest in peace, Mu. We will love you forever. May god bless you and your family." Camu Tao, June 26, 1977 – May 25, 2008. Rest In Peace, DJ Przm, as well, who passed away in 2007 from a heart condition. Below is Copywrite's tribute "Forever And A Day" (2010) and Camu's "Hold the Floor" (2002). Thanks Pitchfork.

May 24, 2020

Jeru The Damaja "The Sun Rises In The East" (May 24, 1994)

Jeru The Damaja is an MC, Producer, and Photographer that has been an essential part of Hip-Hop culture for over twenty-five years, from his early collaborations with the legendary Gang Starr to the present day. ​Born (Kendrick Jeru Davis) in the East New York section of Brooklyn, Jeru honed his skill as an MC while navigating the often-deadly streets of his notorious Brooklyn neighborhood. In The late 80s, Jeru was fortunate enough to be introduced to Guru of Gang Starr by a childhood friend. Gang Starr first introduced Jeru The Damaja to the world on a track entitled “I'm the man,” from their 1992 Daily Operation album. Jeru's first two albums The Sun Rises in The East and Wrath Of The Math were produced entirely by DJ Premier and are hailed as Hip-Hop classics. In fact, The Sun Rises In The East was released on this day in 1994, and Chuck D's This Day in Rap and Hip-Hop History says: With masterful production by Gang Starr's DJ Premier, the acclaimed debut from Jeru combined Five-Percent and Rasta doctrine with witty rhymes, reached #36 on the Billboard 200 and #5 on the R&B chart. The Sun Rises In The East produced the classic hits "Come Clean," and "You Can't Stop The Prophet." Fellow Gang Starr Foundation member Afu-Ra guested on the track "Mental Stamina," where Jeru was awarded The Dopest Rhyme of the Year in The Source for 1994. If you dig into my archives HERE, you'll find album reviews, original promo, publicity photos, sure shot singles, videos and lots more, so please use the search and tags to learn more about the album and his follow-up releases! For the last few years, Jeru has lived in Berlin, Germany, and is planning to release a new album in 2020, so stay tuned for more! Danny Hastings did the original art below.

May 23, 2020

Black Thought Freestyle (Lyricist Lounge 20th Ann., 5/23/12)

In 2012, the Lyricist Lounge was celebrating their 20th Anniversary with a show at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC with Black Thought as the host and a number of very special guests. Here's what I said at the time, "20 years of celebrating creativity and offering a platform for artists to express themselves as individuals and at the same time, within a tribe of like-minded artists. I salute Danny Castro and Anthony Marshall for their influence on Hip-Hop, especially the underground scene in NYC. Over the years, Eternia and myself have worked with Danny Castro, who without hesitation has always supported and maintained the focus on talent, skill and a dope live performance. Eternia has blessed stages with many of hip-hop’s true legends and we give thanks to Danny Castro and Lyricist Lounge for those opportunities... Check the flyer for all the amazing talent that will be blessing the stage. The Lyricist Lounge 20th Anniversary will continue next month with a show featuring Ghostface and Camp Lo at Prospect Park." As it happened, Prodigy, Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch, Da Bush Babees, Homeboy Sandman, Black Thought, Doug E. Fresh, J.Period, Kid Capri, Tony Touch and a ton of other legendary artists blessed that stage, including my artist Eternia. One memory I will never ever forget is Black Thought freestyling over Nas' classic "Represent" instrumental and the whole crowd was hanging on every word. Now that I'm currently living outside of NYC, it's memories like this that bring me right back home, so watch it back with me below...

May 23, 2020

Luniz "I Got 5 On It" (Promo, 1995)

The Luniz are a hip-hop duo from Oakland, California, consisting of Yukmouth and Numskull. An article in Rap Pages (12/97) described the Luniz, saying: "Part of the secret to the Luniz' success can be attributed to the duo's uncanny ability to make most topics instantly appealing and engaging with effortless rhythmic interplay and revealing lyrics... What usually comes out of the Luniz' mouths are effortless verbal tirades of rhyme, life and game, mixed with clever undertones that are either comedic or serious depending on the content and tone of the track." Their bio offered a brief history on the group: Yukmouth and Numskull first hooked up "back in the day" (around '87) while attending Oakland's West Lake Jr. High School together where, as Yukmouth says, "We had a whole crew of n!ggas with us doin' shows". This crew of six, prophetically called B.W.P. (Brothers With Potential) recalls Numsjull, "did shows whenever and wherever we could. We even did lunchtime shows at schools everyday." While the other members of this group fell off, the two Luniz stuck it out as both rappers and buddies.... "We wasn't even tripping off rap, trying to come large or nuthin'. We always was rappin' though. And then the shit just got serious!" That was around the end of '92 when Yukmouth just got out of a year in juvenile hall. During his stay, he kept in constant touch with Numskull through letters, exchanging rhymes he'd written and suggestions of names for their future group. Note that even while incarcerated, Yukmouth was putting on shows. "I had a group in there too!", he laughs good-heartedly. Numskull also spent a couple of months in jail around that same period, during that time he smiles, "I wrote hella rhymes". This lighthearted reflection on such serious periods of one's life merely displays the Luniz' collective inner strength and craziness. It was shortly after this period in late '92 that the Luniz (then known as Luni Tunz) hooked up with Dru Down on tracks such as "Ice Cream Man," a sinister ghetto tale of a coke dealer told in a surreal fairytale-like manner. This soon led to the two landing a deal with Noo Trybe/Virgin, and the rest as they say is rap history." Their debut album Operation Stankola was released in July, 1995, and featured the smash hit "I Got 5 On It." The original song and a suspenseful orchestrated remix version play a crucial role in Jordan Peele's 2019 horror film Us, which garnered renewed attention for this classic cut. "I Got 5 On It" samples Club Nouveau's "Why You Treat Me So Bad" (1987), Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie" (1973) and Audio Two's classic "Top Billin'" (1987). Reminisce below...

The original promo for the Summer '95 Motto "I Got 5 On It" and press bio...

May 22, 2020

Pete Rock & Camp Lo "80 Blocks From Tiffany's II" (Mixtape)

Bronx duo Camp Lo have teamed up with the one and only Pete Rock to drop 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s (a mixtape series available as a full-length). With the projects name paying homage to the BX gangs of the 70s, it’s only right that they bring it back to Hip-Hop’s essence in the video, graffiti, b-boys, rhymin’ on the project stairways, two turntables and a mic. Pete Rock, whose production work helped define the 90s “golden age” is a rare exception. Pete Rock is one of the few musicians who made his name in the aggressively unflashy 90s East Coast sound but has still managed to stay continually relevant without capitulating to changing tastes. 80 Blocks from Tiffany's offers proof that amidst the expeditions rap music’s launching into new sonic territories like EDM, noisy psychedelia, and quasi-industrial music, the classic boom-bap stuff still has a place featuring Mac Miller, MOP, Ab-Soul, Talib Kweli and more. Listen to their new project below...

May 22, 2020

The VHS (Vibe, April 2005)

Remember your first VCR? Now you could watch Purple Rain on a snow day or study Bruce Lee over breakfast, fast-forwarding to the good parts, slo-mo-ing the better ones, and, crucially, pausing for bathroom breaks.... Although TV stations began using magnetic tape back in 1956, the first home video system wasn't launched until 1975. That model, the LV-1901, supported Sony's ill-fated Betamax format, cost over $2,000 (TV included), and demanded another $20 for each one-hour tape. But in 1984, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled against Hollywood's claim that home-movie technology would destroy their livelihood (Napster, anyone?), RCA's alternative Video Home System, or VHS, took off. And while the first VHS VCRs were massive, top-loading slabs straight outta Star Trek, they were convenient and, at $300, much more affordable. Time magazine's December 24, 1984, cover heralded "a magic box that revolutionizes home viewing," and in 1985 alone, more than 11 million units were sold worldwide. Over the next 10-plus years, the VHS tape would reshape the way we saw the world. So long to worrying about "missing a show" or waiting for a movie to air on cable, and say good-bye to virtually every porn theater in the country.... Meet the video rental industry, wedding videos, and the "entertainment" center as furniture. And of course, you can't go straight-to-video - think Streets Is Watching and Baller Blockin, not to mention Girls Gone Wild - if the video doesn't exist. And yet, videocassettes are now the wave of the past. Since the introduction of the digital videodisc in 1997, DVDs have gone on to sell more than twice as much as VHS tapes ever did, and ironically, Hollywood couldn't be happier. Like the turntables before it, the VCR has been shoved aside as newer technology - DVD, DirecTV, and soon, Internet-streamed movies - swoops in. But as long as everything, from your school plays to your favorite celebrity sexcapades, is captured on tape, videocassettes will haunt us for decades to come. - Vibe, April 2005. Most content eventually ends up on YouTube these days, but every one in my generation has a box somewhere with memories captured on VHS, and to us, they are priceless pieces of our past. Yo! MTV Raps, Lyricist Lounge, Rad, Gleaming The Cube, The Box, Rap City; I could go on for days!

May 21, 2020

J​.​PERIOD Presents "The Live Mixtape" (Notorious Edition)

J.PERIOD Presents The Live Mixtape: Notorious Edition [B.I.G. Tribute]. The mix was recorded live on April 13, 2020. Once again, J.Period crafts a unique mix filled with remixes and blending guest vocals that include 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Black Rob, Nipsey Hussle, Nas, Dead Prez, Big L, Jay Electronica and more. His dedication to the culture and paying tribute to our legends is inspiring; I hope you check out all the mixes he's been releasing lately! The visual art was done by Dan Lish. Listen below...

May 21, 2020

Young RJ x Mega Ran "2 Hands Up" (Album Stream)

2 Hands Up is a collaborative album between Young RJ of Slum Village and Mega Ran. The album is produced primarily by Young RJ with additional production from Abstract Orchestra and Daru Jones. It features MC Frontalot, Eric Roberson, Marcel P. Black, L.A. Salami, Illa J, Guilty Simpson and Slum Village. Young RJ has viewed the project as a chance to "not to be stuck inside a box of what my base would necessarily be looking for, to get back to just making good music based off of 'If it feels good to me, then that should be enough.'" It's a solid project; I think you'll dig it, listen below.

May 20, 2020

KRS-One "I Got Next" (The Source, May 20, 1997)

"KRS-One is not your run-of-the-mill blowhard MC. His accomplishments alone could max out the word count on this review: inductor of the 16-bar rhyme style, the off-beat rhyme style, the first rapper to pose with guns on an album cover, controlling force behind the first legitimate live hip-hop album, harbinger of hip-hop reggae, etcetera, so on and so forth. And even when he's not pumping his fists in the air, entrancing all around him into a mesmerized state of adulation, you can still tell from his incisive musical platters that Kris is hip-hop's Cassius Clay: dope as fuck with a mouth to back it up. So when Lawrence "Kris" Parker presents his ninth album entitled I Got Next, it's easy to ascertain that he's not referring to holding down the next game of b-ball on the local asphalt. It means he's comin' with dat next feces and he can't wait for his turn to grab the spotlight.... The truth is that KRS-One hasn't gotten wack, but as a phoenix that constantly rises from the pyres of discarded fads and fetishes, he stands as a relic from the fabled hip-hop "Golden Age," and is undoubtedly held to a higher standard than your average mic wielder. And while his full-length capacity may have peaked with By All Means Necessary, you can't help but still yearn for the return of classic material. Broken down to its very last compound, Kris' music, like fine wine, gets better with age. And even when it's not a good year, his brew is much better than the bargain basement swill that destroys your liver and churns your intestines. KRS-One's albums, BDP or otherwise, have always remained pertinent and inventive. Overtly and overly genre expanding tendencies notwithstanding, I Got Next stands to be just as relevant. Even without a scholarly cut of the likes we've come to expect from the Teacher, this may still be the most mandatory mind music for the next millenium." - The Source (May, 1997). Read the full review and hear select cuts below...

KRS-One's "The MC" and "Step Into A World" from I Got Next...

May 19, 2020

Taiyamo Denku x Bofaat "Kollab Kong" (Album Stream)

Kollab Kong is a collaborative album between Taiyamo Denku (MC) and Bofaat (Producer). The 15-track LP features Conway, Busta Rhymes, Kool G Rap, Sadat X, 38 Spesh, Benny The Butcher, Jim Jones, Planet Asia, Nature, Skyzoo, Tragedy Khadafi, El Da Sensei, Smoothe Da Hustler, MC Outloud of Blahzay Blahzay, DV Alias Khryst, Hell Razah, Big Twins of Infamous Mobb and more! If you're unfamiliar with Taiyamo Denku or Bofaat, that list of features should set your mind at ease. Listen...

May 19, 2020

DMX "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot" (Press Kit, 1998)

In the book Queens Reigns Supreme, the release of DMX's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot is briefly addressed: "During its first week in stores, more than 250,000 copies of It's Dark... were sold, knocking country music superstar Garth Brooks off the top of the charts. But what made the first-week sales even more impressive was that DMX had received almost no MTV or radio play.... 'When X came,' Irv Gotti explains, 'it was a tidal wave. It was just one of those special things in hip-hop... People was just tired of the Puffy way of doing things and he just came and landslided the whole fucking country.'" The buzz had been created for the album almost entirely through the mixtape scene; DMX's official press kit for the release digs deeper: "Winner of The Source magazine's prestigious "Unsigned Hype" award for January of 1991, the native of Yonkers, New York has recently crashed the airwaves and mix tape circuit with a number of unforgettable guest appearances... including a fever pitch buzz for the release of his kinetic debut single for Ruff Ryders/Def Jam, "Get At Me Dog." Utilizing a classic, tension-filled BT Express guitar sample, the single's keen balance of street grit and dance floor bounce provides the perfect backdrop for the Dark Man X's unshakably aggressive vocal delivery; one whose distinctively hoarse timbre is but the table setter for the main course of irrepressible rhyme.... Having originally earned his name by way of his human beat boxing expertise, DMX later experimented with other acronyms true to his evolving, revolutionary vocal steez (Divine Master of the Unknown) while honing his skills around his home in Yonkers' School Street Projects. Along the way, he bumped heads and built long-lasting friendships with Y-O residents and Bad Boy Recording artists, The Lox.... With the entire Yonkers crew helping out on It's Dark and Hell Is Hot on the smoldering "Niggaz Done Started Something," the bonds obviously remain strong. The Album's additional sterling guest spots include Brooklyn's finest, Jay-Z, adding his acid-tongued wit and wisdom to the downtempo stinger, "Murdergram," along-side Ja who makes an impactful debut. But ultimately it's the range, cleverness and fierceness of DMX's solo showcases that truly distinguishes It's Dark and Hell Is Hot from the remainder of the rap hordes.... If the uncompromising nature of It's Dark and Hell Is Hot musical menu isn't enough to intrigue the fickle minds of rap fanatics, leave it to this human pitbull's own description of his newest creation to cut right to the heart of matters: "It's the same shit they been gettin', man: Raw dog, no condom, straight in the ass, real." This dog's day has arrived. Get at DMX." It's Dark and Hell Is Hot was released on May 19, 1998, but did not include "Murdergram," which was featured on the Streets Is Watching soundtrack that came out a week prior, May 12, 1998.

May 18, 2020

Justo The MC & Maticulous "Count Of Kings" (Album Stream)

Justo The MC & maticulous return with their second full length album since their first offering in early 2019, "Mind Of A Man." Their debut landed the duo on many year end lists, live performances, as well as earning appearances on notable radio shows, namely Live From Headquarterz wit DJ Premier in addition to Rap Is Outta Control with DJ Eclipse & DJ Riz on Sirius XM. "County of Kings" is the continuing evolution of an emcee and producer who abandon the flavor of the moment approach, but rather strive to make the listening experience timeless. Music created in the County Of Kings... Brooklyn, New York City. Much respect to the good homie maticulous; Fat Beats family.

May 18, 2020

Ghost of the Machine x DJ Proof "Heroes For Hire 3"

The 3rd release in the Heroes For Hire collaborative series between Ghost Of The Machine and DJ Proof. I've been appreciating Ghost Of The Machine's music for several years now, since I heard a joint with Red Pill called "Last Man On Earth." From there, I heard some dope freestyles and then these Heroes For Hire releases. All quality material, definitely recommend you dig into this project and then go back through the catalog if you're just getting put on. Check out Heroes For Hire 3...

May 18, 2020

DJ Filthy Rich "The Infamous" (25th Ann. Tribute Mix, Vol.1)

DJ Filthy Rich returns with another classic tribute mix, celebrating 25 years of Mobb Deep's magnum opus, The Infamous. Filthy Rich's mix includes blends, remixes, original samples, album cuts, loosies, as well as some unreleased joints. The artwork is handled by the talented artist Che Hinkson - check out his page for more dope hip-hop and comic-related illustrations. Volume 1 of this Mobb Deep tribute is brought to you in conjunction with Hip Hop Back In The Day, my brother Soles of Mischief and The Flyer Vault. DJ Filthy Rich assures us that Volume 2 is coming soon! If Soundcloud takes down the audio below, hit me up so I can update the link. R.I.P., Prodigy. Enjoy the mix below...

May 18, 2020

Rawkus Presents "Soundbombing II" (Snippet Tape, 1999)

Soundbombing II was reviewed in the August, 1999 issue of Vibe Magazine - Noah said: "Three years ago, the brains behind Rawkus devised a plan to nurture a crop of MCs just starting to blossom in New York City's underground hip hop scene. And now that the climate of hip hop is slowly beginning to shift away from the Puff-driven "ice" age, Rawkus prepares to reap the benefits of their harvest with the release of Soundbombing II. Unlike its predecessor, and especially the languid Lyricist Lounge Vol.1 (Rawkus, 1998), SBII illustrates the evolution of Rawkus's MCs from raw and unpolished to solid, skilled artists poised to give chart-topping rappers a serious run for their money. This newfound confidence and maturity is typified by the High & Mighty's "B-Boy Document 99" as well as Pharoahe Monch and Shabaam Sahdeeq's slamming collaboration, "WWIII." Both cuts bang with the up-tempo, high-octane power of Black Star's 1998 "Definition," the label's biggest hit so far. Even slower tracks, like Eminem's understated "Any Man" and the soulful title track by Dilated Peoples & Tash, maintain a high level of intensity. Rawkus has weathered the storm of R&B-infused, radio-friendly hip hop that has dominated for so long, and now the sun shines on more rugged styles. So pump up Soundbombing II and bask in the glow." In the Spin Magazine review (July, 1999), Neil Drumming adds "Rawkus's resident preacherman, Talib Kweli, strives to "turn jams into revolutionary parties," adding conscious-rap protein to the Reflection Eternal crew and on a duet with Bahamadia. The showstopper, however, is "Patriotism," by constant complainers Company flow, a clever, cacophonous slam of all things American... The cheerfully undanceable track and antiestablishment lyrics both reinforce Rawkus's rep as a label of originators and anchor Soundbombing II firmly at street level." Soundbombing II was released by Rawkus Records on this day in 1999, so revisit the original cassette snippet tape - mixed by J. Rocc and DJ Babu - below. 

Original promo sticker for Soundbombing II, colors have faded from storage.

May 17, 2020

Jaguar Skills "Hip-Hop Time Bomb: 1995" (Mix)

Jaguar Skills is back once again, tackling the year 1995 with 2 hours of tracks featuring GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Group Home, Frankie Cutlass, Capleton, The Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, Mobb Deep, Fugees, Smif-N-Wessun, Showbiz & A.G., Lord Finesse, Mad Skillz, The Pharcyde, Nine, Junior MAFIA, Tha Alkaholiks, 2Pac, KRS-One, Dr. Dre, Redman, Big L, Lost Boyz, Sadat X, Smoothe Da Hustler, Jeru The Damaja, Scarface, Masta Ace, DJ Quik, Luniz, Coolio, and more + original samples!

May 16, 2020

J.Period Presents "The Live Mixtape" (King Asiatic Edition)

As I've said, J.Period has been hard at work! Droppin' off yet another mix in his Live Mixtape series... this one recorded on April 13, 2020 with J.Period paying tribute to Big Daddy Kane called the "King Asiatic Edition." With original tracks and official J.Period remixes, the mix features Black Thought, Mos Def, Rakim, Big L, Alchemist, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and more. Big Daddy Kane is one of true originators and is easily one of the best all-around performers Hip-Hop has ever seen. Enjoy this great tribute mix below, hearing familiar tracks with a fresh twist. Art by Dan Lish.

May 16, 2020

Big Ghost Ltd. & Conway "No One Mourns The Wicked"

The brand new collaborative LP from Big Ghost Ltd. and Conway the Machine, No One Mourns The Wicked. Big Ghost shared this message ahead of its release: "Most y'all already know the story... But for those that don't... 2015 was the year that Griselda Ghost dropped.. which was a Hall x Nash project by Westside Gunn x Conway, produced by Big Ghost Ltd... This is pre-Reject 2 and pre-FlyGod... If I told you I knew all along just how far these brothers would go n how much Griselda would go on to influence the culture as far as music n fashion n overall aesthetics... I would be lying. Cuz the world I know does not reward too many mfs for sticking to what they do best... it rewards the ones who conform n play by the rules. Hip Hop came from the streets. It came from a rebellious mindset that rejected conformity. It was bout making something outta nothing... Artists from the mud used subway trains as art galleries... kids used cardboard boxes to perfect windmills n backspins... Cats repurposed old records to create new music... This is the culture. Somewhere along the way Hip Hop became corporate n is now a globally dominant phenomenon that influences practically everything. Shit is competitive. To be able to stick to how you came in the door n not compromise your art at all... n still flourish... That right there is a real anomaly. Thats a glitch in the matrix. But this is how it should be. We don't need to try to appeal to the masses by doing what the masses want. We don't need to play by industry rules n let outta touch parasites choose how we create our art. Anyways y'all get ready for another masterpiece." That masterpiece is out now, No One Mourns The Wicked. Listen below and cop the album on vinyl, digital and/or CD...

May 15, 2020

Ice Cube "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" (30th Anniversary)

"If one album encapsulates the racial strife in L.A.'s concrete jungle before the 1992 riots, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is it. The densely sequenced, frenetic Bomb Squad production laid down the rich sonic terrain for Ice Cube to rage against Oreo-cookie-sellouts, gestapo tactics, and female manipulation on this West Coast counterpart to Public Enemy's Nation of Millions. Humor and vitrol are juxtaposed, producing a visceral classic: "I think back when I was robbin' my own kind / The police didn't pay it no mind / But when I started robbin' white folks / Now I'm in the pen with the soap-on-a-rope." (Vibe, 6/02). The Adler Hip Hop Archive has a clipping that says, "It's the end of gangster rap," Chuck D said of Ice Cube's solo debut AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted in a fax from Public Enemy publicist Harry Allen last week. "That shit's so hard it's scary. You gotta cut it off, catch your breath, and then turn it back on. Cube says the word 'bitch' 83 times on that album." Chuck may be overstating the case. A preliminary Bitch Count revealed 51 occurrences of the B word. A F#ck Count, however, turned up 72 f#cks, or variations thereof (motherf#cker was included; pretty f#cking often, in fact), among them hiphop's first Andrew Dice Clay sample." In his 30th Anniversary Retrospective, Dart Adams adds, "Ice Cube’s output and evolution between 1988 and 1992 is easily one of the best and most impactful 5 year periods of any Rap artist in the genre’s history. It’s insane to think that span only covers Ice Cube between the ages of 18 to 23. By the time he was 25, he was considered a legend who was instrumental in launching several Rap careers, including Yo-Yo, Del The Funkee Homosapien (and Souls Of Mischief & Hieroglyphics), Threat, Da Lench Mob, Anotha Level & Kausion amongst others." Lastly, check out Brian Coleman's The Making of Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted HERE. Happy 30th Anniversary, listen to it HERE.