June 30, 2020

Jadakiss vs. Fabolous (Verzuz Playlist, 6/29/20)

Jadakiss and Fabolous battled it out - track-for-track - on the Verzuz platform last night (June 29, 2020). Having joined forces for their 2017 Friday On Elm Street project, and with their storied history reppin' New York, this battle was a win/win, no matter what - especially for fans! During the battle, Jadakiss spoke to being in the trenches and always feeling like the underdog, but - to me - he was the clear winner. Fab came through armed with his many hits, but Jada's extensive catalog tipped the scale - especially factoring in songs he wrote for Puffy. Jada also won over the crowd with his personality; calm (tipsy) demeanor and stories on tracks like "Can I Live," where he was adamant about letting it be known that the song was a Lox record, given to Black Rob when they got their freedom from Bad Boy. I put together the playlist from the battle - minus the Fab joint that's not on DSPs - so I we can relive the highlights from the battle at our own convenience. It'll be clear these are two of the nicest and most consistent artists to bring lyricism to the mainstream. While the Verzuz platform is still a bit of a mystery to me, I've enjoyed these battles, and do hope they continue. Listen below for nearly 3 hours of music ..... Did Jada take home the W?

June 29, 2020

Eternia & MoSS "At Last" (10th Anniversary)

"From Marco Polo to MoSS, Kardinal Offishall to k-os to Eternia to everyone in between — Toronto continues to cultivate artists, producers and aficionados who put a premium on the sound of quintessential, golden era Hip-Hop. Emcee/Producer duo Eternia & MoSS’s Fat Beats Records release, At Last, fits right in with the city’s rich tradition. Eternia flexes her extensive mic skills straight out the gate, opening with four rugged cypher cuts in a row. Her vocals spill confidence, ripping through “Any Man” and “32 Bars” as if she’s on a mission to extinguish any stereotype ever placed upon white and/or female rappers.... Lead single “BBQ” feels refreshingly nostalgic, as golden era lyrical titans Rah Digga and The Lady of Rage join Eternia in decimating the high-powered, eighty-miles-an-hour backdrop.... In spite of her aggressive, in-your-grill delivery on potent cypher cuts, Eternia’s tortured past and ability to connect through honest, visceral rhymes is At Last’s truest legacy. She harnesses her femininity without ever pimping her sexuality. Her lyrical bravado (“I came up out a woman stronger than your whole crew / Do the math / My left half can outdo you”) is balanced by her gut-wrenching vulnerability (“Memories my mind conveniently erases / Strange homes, alone / Got touched in strange places”).... Eternia & MoSS assembled an emotionally rich boom-bap tapestry, trading gaudy depictions of glamour and glitz for honesty and truth to wax expressions of reality." - Justin Hunte, HipHopDX. At Last was nominated for a Juno Award (Canada's Grammys), long-listed for a Polaris Music Prize and #17 on DJ Premier's Top 25 albums of 2010...

Today marks the album's 10th anniversary, which puts me in an emotional space. Eternia and I began working together in 2009 with the infamous Road To Release video-blog campaign, which led to a label deal with Fat Beats Records for At Last, world tours, and meeting so many amazing people along the journey. This album literally changed my life and I'm humbled to call Eternia my sister and easily one of my favorite people in the whole world. I've posted a considerable amount of content over the years, so I recommend digging in the archives and you can pull up videos, album reviews, promo items, and lots more. On this day in 2010, we also held an album in-store at Fat Beats, sold a bunch of copies and rocked out with friends, fans and family. Thankful for everyone I've met along the way, and if you don't own a copy, there's still a few left HERE! Tonight on Eternia's IG we will be holding a live listening session and sharing some stories about the album and more. Tune in! 6pm EST.

The original setlist for E's live performance at the Fat Beats in-store...

June 28, 2020

Cousin Feo "Belegen Kaas" (EP Stream)

The info shared on Cousin Feo's bandcamp says, "Having started in France and continuing in Argentina, the "A La Carte" circuit now moves to the Netherlands to celebrate a handful of the flyest Dutchmen to ever grace the pitch. Entirely produced by Dutch beat maker Northlake, Cousin Feo's project, Belegen Kaas, continues the tradition of blending both the raw energy of the game with the ruggedness of the streets." Cuts by DJ Dubplates, and features from Adonis, Left Lane Didon, Lord Jah Monte Ogbon, Asun Eastwood, Jay Nice and Skunkz. Listen to the new EP below...

June 27, 2020

Donnie Propa "Straight From The Crate Cave" (Rawkus Edition)

Donnie Propa has released his latest mixtape in his Straight From The Crate Cave series - this time shining light on the Rawkus Records catalog. The mixtape is available on double-cassette and features tracks from Mad Skillz, The High and Mighty, Pharoahe Monch, The Last Emperor, Shabaam Sahdeeq, RA The Rugged Man, B1, Sir Menelik, Kool G Rap, Missin Linx, Reflection Eternal, Saigon, Mos Def, Black Attack, Diamond D, Smut Peddlers, Akrobatik, Mr. Complex, Eminem, Company Flow, Dilated Peoples, Big L, Kool Keith, Copywrite, Cormega, Big Noyd, Styles P, Shadez Of Brooklyn, Thirstin Howl 3rd, L Fudge, Black Star and more! Yup, all that! You don't have to ask if these cassettes will sell out, it's just a matter of how quickly, so support this ambitious mix tape below...

June 27, 2020

Small Professor "A Jawn Supreme" (Instrumental Album)

"With an incredible and immense catalog of releases to date, Philly producer Small Professor compiled and remastered his favorite tracks into the stunning and unmissable 'A Jawn Supreme' project. Kicking off with Vol.1, the gifted beatsmith breathes new life into 12 tracks that now sound better than ever while also evoking timeless, unfortunate truths about our society. You can hear how this album reflects these days and times, especially during the hellscape that is 2020, on nearly every cut. But it’s particularly evident on standout single “wish cops would stop killing unarmed black people,” which Pro actually produced in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray. “Unfortunately, this song continued being relevant as the months and years went by to the point of absurdity,” he says, adding that different and extreme changes to American ideas of policing and imprisonment need to occur for things to change. In addition to being a powerful statement, “wish cops…” is a testament to Pro’s talents as an artist. By interpolating Special Ed’s verse from the legendary track “Crooklyn,” he flips everything into an entirely new song, vocals and all. But even without words as his guide, tracks like “reflection” demonstrate that these aren’t mere “beats” or “loops” but fully realized songs with building emotions and layers." - Coalmine Records. Listen below...

June 26, 2020

Pharoahe Monch "Desire" (June 26, 2007)

"Raised on the infamous Southside of NYC's Queens borough, a young Monch caught the Hip-Hop bug early as the culture born in the Rotten Apple. It would be while attending art school that Pharoahe would find his calling as an emcee, and eventually co-founded the rap duo Organized Konfusion. It was here that a still young Pharoahe began to display his full potential for the first time, transforming himself into a superhero emcee, painting vivid verbal pictures on cuts such as "Stray Bullet" whilst amazing listeners with his unpredictable-but-flawless flow on the jaw-dropping "Hypnotical Gases". Now settled at Steve Rifkind's SRC Records, Pharoahe Monch, one of Hip-Hop's most gifted lyricists, is ready to reintroduce himself to a rap world crying out for genuine artists with his long-awaited album, Desire. At a time when a rapper's image and financial status appear to capture the attention of fans more than lyrical content and creative production, Pharoahe has refused to "dumb-down" his new project, choosing instead to adhere to the rules and principles he learnt growing up in Hip-Hop's Golden Age: be original, be true to yourself and be as skillful as possible on the mic device. But... don't expect to hear Monch stuck in a time-warp on Desire."

"With beats from the likes of Mr. Porter, The Alchemist, Detroit's Black Milk and long-time collaborator Lee Stone, the lyrical king of Queens is definitely looking to move the art form of Hip-Hop forward with this album. "I think the approach I took to making some of the songs is still underground," offers Monch when asked about the creative process behind Desire. "But in terms of arrangements and the song-writing, I wouldn't say it's commercial, but it's a bigger approach than I've taken in the past." Aside from lyrics about politics, love, sex and survival in the modern world, it's the sheer sonic scale of Desire that's impressive. There's a cinematic quality to the music, with the album's central theme developed through a series of dramatic interludes linking tracks together. Desire finds Pharoahe Monch wanting to be labeled only as an emcee and a true artist. But even if he achieves that goal and receives the mainstream critical acclaim his talent deserves, you still get the impression that Monch will never rest on his laurels. "When you become totally satisfied and you think you've reached perfection," he ponders, "then where do you go from there?" Desire, the album proves why Pharoahe Monch's name will be mentioned as one of the greatest emcees of all-time." - Ryan Proctor. Taken from the promotional newspaper that was released with Desire... you can see some of the original scans from it below. Listen to the album above or click HERE.

June 26, 2020

Rob Viktum "Ironside" (EP Stream)

Ironside is the first of four EPs scheduled to be released by Dallas, TX's producer/beatmaker, Rob Viktum. The EP features vocals from Bubu The Prince, Supreme Cerebral, Fastlife, Born Unique, DJ Jon Doe, Sadat X, Vic Spencer, DJ Face, Eff Yoo and Shyste. If you order the project for download, it will also come with the instrumentals for all 5 tracks produced by Rob Viktum. Peep the EP below...

June 26, 2020

D-Stroy's "Showoff Your Gems" (On Instagram Live)

D-Stroy was kind enough to DM me and put me up on his brand new show, Showoff Your Gems! The show takes place on IG Live and takes a look inside your favorite entertainers closets as they show off some of their most prized Hip Hop Collectibles. Bringing his charisma and unique personality, D-Stroy keeps the show light and fun... a nice escape from the madness going on in the world. Of course, it's naturally very nostalgic and because of that, it captures a niche audience - meaning, it's a space for hip-hop nerds like us!! So far, D-Stroy has featured guests that include Q-Bert, Lord Finesse, Q-Unique, Everlast, Pete Rock, Jeru The Damaja, MC Serch, Bun B, DJ Cash Money, Diamond D, Pharoahe Monch, DJ Evil Dee, and lots more. From member of the Arsonists to event host with the NBA, Nike, Red Bull and more, Showoff Your Gems is a welcomed addition to his storied career in entertainment. Visit D-Stroy's instagram account for upcoming shows and future guests. 

June 26, 2020

Khruangbin "Mordechai" (Album Stream)

Mordechai is the third studio album by American musical trio Khruangbin. It was released June 26, 2020 under Dead Oceans and Night Time Stories. Exclaim! reviewed the album, sharing that "As the story goes, bassist Laura Lee was invited to take a trek out to a waterfall by a new friend, Mordechai, who helped her to realize the importance behind the age old adage of appreciating the journey rather than rushing to the destination. Upon reaching the waterfall, Laura was encouraged to join in jumping off into the water below. As she leapt, Mordechai yelled her full name, "Laura Lee Ochoa" — something that had a profound, baptism-like effect and deeply resonated within her. This moment spurred Ochoa to begin writing lyrics — hundreds of pages' worth, to be exact. The Houston group, which also includes guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson, quickly got to work. While Mordechai follows in the footsteps of its critically acclaimed predecessors The Universe Smiles upon You and Con Todo el Mundo, it is unique in that nearly every song on the album features vocals. The effect is similarly profound, as the added human element provides another channel for the group's collective consciousness and creativity to flow freely. The album itself deals primarily with the theme of memory, in particular "holding onto it, letting it go, [and] naming it before it disappears." Khruangbin draw inspiration from other cultures, epochs and mediums to create vivid soundscapes that delve into the particulars of a moment in time — however fleeting or everlasting... The album is an ode to all that Khruangbin have achieved and a look forward to everything that is to come." Another impressive release, I love the instrumentation! Listen below...

June 25, 2020

Jay-Z "Reasonable Doubt" (June 25, 1996)

"With the release of his Roc-A-Fella debut LP, Reasonable Doubt, Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z) moves from hip-hop sidekick to Mafia-style front man, blowing up the spot with vivid tales about the economic reality fueling what's left of contemporary ghetto politics. In terms of subject matter, Jay-Z isn't saying anything new. It's the same ol' criminal melodrama that you hear on so many rap LPs nowadays. Titles such as "Friend or Foe," "Politics As Usual" and "Can't Knock the Hustle," featuring Mary J. Blige on vocals, could have been on any number of hip-hop wannabees' LPs, but what makes these tracks stand out here is the slick way Jay-Z flips lyrics. He flows like he's conversing of street survival. His lyrics create cuttingly clever rhymes that ride bomb tracks provided by Clark Kent, Primo, Big Jaz and others with effortless perfection. In addition, Reasonable Doubt has guest spots filled by Brooklyn's Finest playa, Notorious B.I.G., the velvet smooth Foxy Brown, Big Jaz and newcomers Memphis Bleek and Sauce Money. The down side of the album is that while Jay-Z has great MC skills and slamming beats, he mars the LP with an almost religious disrespect for women with songs like "Cashmere Thoughts" and "Ain't No Jigga." Aside from that, Reasonable Doubt has some really thought-provoking songs. Two of my favorites are "Regrets" and the outright eerie "D'Evils." On the latter song, Jay-Z delves into the conspiratorial powers behind the eye on the dollar bill, suggesting that they are the real culprits controlling the ill behavior of so many poor people committing crimes in America. Overall, Reasonable Doubt is a very solid LP. And while many around the country may want to indict Jay-Z for his gender politics and violent content, I seriously doubt if any of them would have a chance of convicting the brother for dropping a wack album." - The Source, 8/96 // Listen HERE and as always, hit the tags for a lot more content.

June 24, 2020

Gang Starr "The Ownerz" (June 24, 2003)

"I declare Gang Starr among the most consistent acts in hip-hop. Ever since Step in the Arena and Daily Operation laid down the law for East Coast hip-hop back in '91 and '92, Gang Starr have slowed their pace with an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" aesthetic, releasing albums every four or five years between Guru and DJ Premier's increasingly busy extracurricular schedules. And while they haven't broken any new ground since those early 90s classics, their records have been astoundingly solid in bearing the standards set by those canonical discs. In the five years since Moment of Truth, Guru and Premo have watched as the face of mainstream hip-hop hardened into a countenance chiseled out with bling-bling braggadocio and self-hating diatribes. Fortunately, for a duo that's been hard from day one - don't let that No More Mr. Nice Guy cover fool you - there's a distinct possibility their credibility could translate into commercial success, almost as if the rap world has finally caught up with a group that was ten years ahead of its time. The combination of Guru's tough, streetwise lyrics and delivery and Premier's highly polished production fits in perfectly as an honest alternative to today's heavy rotation; it's a situation Gang Starr are well aware of, judging from several lyrical and interlude reminders that pop up throughout The Ownerz.... Premier's jazzy horn breaks underscore Guru's eloquent manifestos with assured refinement on every single track they turn on their own.... And while it's probably too late in their career for a breakout hit record, more people are definitely going to know who they are, which will hopefully translate into the same veneration from the establishment they've enjoyed from their fans since back in the day." - Pitchfork (7/03) // Gang Starr's 6th LP, The Ownerz, was released on this day in 2003. R.I.P. Guru.

The official music video for the LP's 1st single, "Skills"...

June 23, 2020

Tree Mason & Spanish Ran "W.I.C." (EP Stream)

The Bronx duo of Spanish Ran and Tree Mason have released their latest collaborative project, W.I.P. The 5-track EP features one of my favorite new artists, UFO Fev, as well as Bloo and Bizzy Brando. The duo released a separate EP earlier this year entitled Carhartt Champions, which I didn't get into too heavy, but with the release of W.I.P., I am locked in, and looking forward to more of their collaborative work together. With so much new talent emerging, it's hard to keep track, so shoot me some more info if you know more about Tree Mason and Spanish Ran. Hear W.I.C. below...

June 23, 2020

Eric B. & Rakim "Don't Sweat The Technique" (6/23/92)

The music Eric B. and Rakim make kicks because it sneaks into the ear like careless whispers before exploding on the brain like dynamite. Eric B.’s tracks are mellow and mean, while Rakim’s lyrics are at once eloquent and threatening. Describing his inimitable style in the classic track “I Got Soul,” from Paid in Full (1987), Rakim roared, “I can take a phrase that’s rarely heard/Flip it-now it’s a daily word.” With that he defined the essence of great hip-hop — before taking it to the next phase with Follow the Leader (1988) and Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em (1990). On Don’t Sweat the Technique, their majestic fourth album, Eric and Rakim expound further on the funky-fresh aesthetic. The title comes off like a warning to crews looking for mass-ass appeal. But they should also heed the words of “The Punisher,” a track that sends out a brutal manifesto to every rapper coming on. Rakim sounds scarier than a terrorist, and one just knows he’s talking reality when he promises that “you’ll never hold a mike again.” This former stickup kid may have traded in his life of crime for rhymes, but the brutality of his past life informs his loopy poetics and icy voice. In “Relax With Pep,” Rakim declares, “I’m prepared to take mine to get mine/And I can protect mine, either with a rhyme or a nine,” and his new enterprise is sustained with thick, kill-crazy beats that display a moody, cinematic quality. When he weaves a verse of seduction (“Keep the Beat”), slinky minor-key piano chords get rubbed in. When he stalks the perimeter like a mad ghetto boy on “Know the Ledge,” the theme from the movie Juice, buzzing, wailing snippets speed by to heighten the tension. Don’t Sweat the Technique activates the mind — it’s playful, violent, dramatic, funky, jazzy and definitely dope. - Rolling Stone (7/92). Don't Sweat The Technique was released on this day in 1992. 

Original cassette artwork for "Don't Sweat The Technique" (1992)

June 22, 2020

PSA: The Hip-Hop Nostalgia Online Store

A shameless plug ... much thanks to all the readers and those of you who happened to stumble upon this site or the Hip-Hop Nostalgia online store. I've been blessed to have a healthy customer base since the store opened in July, 2018. I've done my absolute best to keep the site stocked with unique items and stuff that I really feel people would enjoy. At one point, I even had the DJ Premier Nike Air Force 1 Low sneakers for a lucky customer who was happy to cop them. Mostly, it's posters and pins; stickers and books - items of that nature. Anyhow, when I first posted about the store, I said how long it would stay open was really dependent on the support it received so for it to still be open in the summer of 2020 is a true testament to how y'all have held me down. The sudden passing of my mother was hard on me in 2018, but it was made just a lil' easier thanks to each of you. Thank you. The photos below are from a happy customer and the pic above was a custom bundle I put together for a Wu-Tang Clan fan. You can visit the online store HERE. Peace and Love. 

June 21, 2020

Clipse "Next" Feature in Vibe Magazine (September, 1999)

"You can't deny that in the hip hop game it ain't where you're at, it's where you're from. Virginia, VA-bred duo Clipse understood this just as much as the next MC, but these siblings found themselves in an awkward position after the off-the-hook video for their debut single, "The Funeral," came out in May. "A lot of people thought we were from New Orleans after they saw the video," says Terrence "Terrar" Thornton, chuckling, as he downs buffalo shrimp at Mahi Mah's in Virginia Beach. "We just thought that a [party-style] funeral procession would be a perfect theme." Terrar pauses before adding, "And the video wasn't shot in New Orleans, it was shot here." Technically, Terrar, 22, and Gene "Malice" Thornton, 27, moved from White Plains, NY, to Virginia as children. Still, they hope that their home state will finally be recognized as a major part of the South's hip hop renaissance, especially with the release of their extremely banging debut, Exclusive Audio Footage [East/West/Elektra]. "Virginia is South, but now it's not considered the dirty South," says Terrar. "I guess we're too close to New York," Malice chimes in with a sarcastic grin." Cont'd below the video...

"Clipse landed their record deal after production team the Neptunes (best known for producing Noreaga's "Super Thung") played Elektra executives a tape of songs that would eventually end up on Clipse's debut. "We played them "Stick Girl" and "Got Caught Dealin'," says Pharrell Williams, one half of the Neptunes. "Malice freestyle his [rhyme] live over "The Funeral" track. [The execs] heard that and snapped." Exclusive Audio Footage signifies the arrival of Virginia's unapologetic street voice. Missy and Timbaland are the state's polished party brokers, and MCs Mad Skillz and Lonnie B are its highly stylized wordsmiths, Clipse are a punch to outsiders' grills. "You've never heard hardcore vibe come out of Virginia," says Terrar. "And that's what we represent -- Virginia's raw street perspective. Nothing more, nothing less." Just how we like it: nice and dirty." Vibe Magazine, 9/99 // In more recent news, congratulations to Pusha T on the birth of his first son, Nigel. God bless! Oh... and, as my man Supa says, "I would love hear a Good vs. Evil-type concept album from Clipse. Both could stay in their current element..." and that would be dope as hell. I'll wait for it!

June 21, 2020

Happy 50th Birthday, Pete Rock! (Playlist)

In the early '90s, most relevant hip hop artists had to use Pete Rock beats. Strapped with his notorious horn loops, Soul Brother No. 1 served up flavorful tracks to everyone from Nas to House of Pain to his partner in rhyme, C.L. Smooth. Pete Rock played a large role in the fusing of jazz and funk music into hip hop, and is easily one of the most influential producers to consistently represent for the underground - for proof, just look at all the classic albums that boast Pete Rock's original production! As Pete Rock is celebrating his 50th Birthday today, it's only right we dig into his classic production for a quick playlist with some of my personal favorites. It would take days to do this properly and unfortunately there are a handful of joints absent from his catalog on Spotify, so I must put an asterisk next to this one, but enjoy it nonetheless! The playlist includes tracks with C.L. Smooth, Smif-N-Wessun, Nas, RUN-DMC, Jamal, Public Enemy, Big L, Rakim, Das EFX, Ghostface Killah, Torae, Non Phixion, Common, House Of Pain, AZ, One Be Lo, Edo. G, Slum Village, Inspectah Deck, INI, Styles P, Jay-Z & Kanye West, and more. Happy Born Day! Click play below...

June 21, 2020

DJ Step One "Droppin Gems On Your Melon" (Mix)

I'm honored to support DJ Step One directly on his latest mix, "Droppin Gems On Your Melon." In his own words, the mix has "no theme, covering no specific era, style, sub genre or region (although it's 95% East Coast). Just a load of good shit with some dope blends and a couple of snippets from interviews thrown in for added flavor." He's speaking my language with that description, track selection and this overall mix. Check it out for tracks with Dr. Octagon, Ghostface, Prodigy (R.I.P.), The Notorious B.I.G., Capone-N-Noreaga, Smif-N-Wessun, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, AZ, Camp Lo, Black Moon, Gang Starr, The Beatnuts, EPMD, Redman, Big Pun, Nas, and lots more. DJ Step One has made my life easier many times via his Mixcloud, where he has already uploaded tons of quality mixes I've covered here, and honestly, his audio rips are usually crisper than my own. So, I'm humbled to post one of his own DJ mixes here and hope you'll click through and support it as well. Listen below...

June 21, 2020

Prince Paul & DJ P. Forreal "Like Father, Like Son" (Mixtape, 2014)

Prince Paul and his son DJ P. Forreal dropped their Like Father, Like Son mixtape on Father's Day in 2014. The mix demonstrates the meshing of two generations of hip-hop blending the old with the new. The generational clash mix was released through the Cornerstone mixtape series, featuring tracks from Smoothe The Hustler, Drake, GZA, East Flatbush Project, Nas, Method Man & Redman, Big L, Action Bronson, DMX, KRS-One, Eminem, and lots more - plus music from contemporary artists I don't know as well... but that's the point - it's a mix that fathers and sons can enjoy... and debate. In true Prince Paul fashion, expect lots of vocal drops, skits and pure comedy mixed throughout. Dig in the archives for Prince Paul's "It's Not The Size Of Your Mix, It's How You Use It" series. I know this can be a hard day for some of us... but Happy Father's Day to whom it applies!

June 20, 2020

Prodigy "H.N.I.C. Tribute Mix" (Rest In Peace)

On this day in 2017, we suffered the loss of one of hip-hop's greatest artists, Prodigy of Mobb Deep. We must continue to recognize and represent Prodigy's contributions and the impact he's left on this world, so today I am sharing this H.N.I.C. Tribute Mix that was released via NahRight in 2017. Peace to Eskay and Stan Ipcus. The mix includes classic songs, deep album cuts, freestyles and many slept-on gems as well. Prodigy's close friend, journalist, and co-author of their Commissary Kitchen book, Kathy Iandoli (fellow Fat Beats alumni, too!), shared heartfelt words in Prodigy's memory, which I hope will help explain why this was such a loss to the hip-hop community: "When he left prison a few years ago, P called a bunch of rappers he was on the outs with. He didn’t want to carry old negativity into his new life. That’s the kind of person Albert "Prodigy" Johnson was. He slick talked in his rhymes, yet as a man, he cared about the world.... His lyrics became vernacular. Instrumentals to his classics are pop culture soundbeds. There is not a single part of hip-hop that wasn’t touched by this genius.... You always said your darkest songs were just you rhyming through the pain. You’re not in pain any longer." Prodigy put his lifetime in between the paper's lines, so listen to a great tribute mix below, and celebrate his life through his finest music. In Memory Of... Albert "Prodigy" Johnson! 

June 19, 2020

Skyzoo "Milestones" (EP Stream)

"The idea for this project came from me noticing the landscape of how fathers are represented in hip hop. Outside of Will Smith’s “Just the Two Of Us” and a handful of others, the majority of the records in hip-hop that speak on fatherhood have a negative connotation. I wanted to change that narrative, as it’s not the only one that exists. Myself being a father, there are a ton of others like me who are engulfed in hip-hop and are also 24hr a day dads, whose kids mean the world to them. I wanted to showcase that. I started this project in August 2019 as one song, and it grew into an entire project within a week, and I’ve been sitting on this idea since the summer/fall, waiting for Father’s Day weekend to come around. This is a conceptual EP, where each song is a story that holds hands with the ones before and after it, all about my life as a kid, growing up with my father always in my life, and how that’s now shaped me as a father myself. It’s named “Milestones”, after my son Miles, and also signifying the milestones that us dads reach in life as we grow into fatherhood. This is solely about growing up with a dad, being a dad, and the importance of it all. To all the fathers out here who are lovingly and actively doing the work, this one is for us." - Skyzoo

June 18, 2020

Heltah Skeltah "Nocturnal" (June 18, 1996)

"In 1993 a little-known group called Black Moon released an album that would become an underground classic, Enta Da Stage. Thus was born the Bootcamp Clik and their distinct brand of sonic mayhem: quirky, Caribbean-influenced lyrical phrasing atop deep, moody tracks. Black Moon's offering was soon followed by Smif-N-Wessun's equally compelling Dah Shinin'. Now Bootcamp's third edition, Heltah Skeltah, release their own opus, Nocturnal. As former members of the Decepticons (a Brooklyn-based gang that terrorized NYC high schools in the late '80s), Ruck and Rock - Heltah Skeltah's twin cannons - could be expected to do the obvious: rehash how many broken bodies they've left in their wake. Uhhh-uhhh. Nocturnal's menace doesn't come from self-propaganda. Heltah Skeltah derive their edge from the dynamic vocal presence delivered by Rock's low-pitched growls and Ruck's irrationally tinged mutterings; dark, gritty production; and the duo's creative song structuring, as on "Therapy," a scintillating bit of back-and-forth wordplay which has Ruck playing the gruff psychiatrist to Rock's tormented patient, and "Sean Price," where Ruck appropriates Super Cat's haunting lament from "I'm Not Sure Anymore" to chilling effect. Nocturnal never takes the hard-edged vibe over the line. The two MCs possess a dry sense of humor that gives the album a multidimensional feel." - Spin Magazine, 8/96 // The full review is below... Rest In Peace, Sean P!

June 17, 2020

Happy Born Day, Supastition! (Playlist)

Happy birthday to my dear friend and one of the most talented, genuine, and honest people I know, Supastition! I'm very proud of all the work that we've done together - multiple albums, EPs, shows, etc. When Supa drops, fans know they are gonna be treated to elite lyricism, hard-hitting production and messaging that reflects what he's going through, and who he is as a man at that time. There's no wavering in that and no dumbing-down. His latest EP, Sacrifice, speaks to that perfectly, and it's why fans and his peers alike gravitate towards him as a blue-collar MC making grown-up rap. To celebrate his born day, I put together a quick playlist of tracks that stay in constant rotation for me. Naturally, as Supa's manager, I have access to a ton of other records that aren't available yet, but this playlist should represent fairly well as-is. As more music is released, I'll go back and update this playlist. The past couple years have had many trials and tribulations, and in those times, he's shown that he is a one-of-a-kind artist and person ... I salute him for that. To me, his character is bulletproof! Happy Born Day, Supa! Listen below and ... let it bang in your boombox!

June 17, 2020

Capone-N-Noreaga "The War Report" (June 17, 1997)

Named after glorified/vilified outlaws, CNN are products of another desert storm, one centralized in the borough of Queens. What these two bring to battle are alert minds and even sharper tongues in lyrical maneuvers that involve attitudes of rah-rah proportions and scenes of underworld mayhem. Blessed with an exasperated flow and a penchant for choice Nuyorican Spanglish, Noreaga subscribes to O.C.'s work ethic: "the more emotion I put into it, the harder I rock." Hyper than any hype man, he performs double duty for his man Capone, who was incarcerated while making the record. Capone even calls from the joint on one realer-than-real skit. But, fortunately, he completed a large amount of the album and makes his presence felt through subdued, scabrous vocals. In fact, it's Capone's gritty voice that serves as a match to fuses like, "I did it for the love of cash, your honor/ trafficking cross the Verrazano/Coke and marijuana..." That line, from the tenacious "T.O.N.Y." is indicative of the many drug references throughout The War Report. Musically, CNN don't hold back, giving listeners a full-scale invasion with help from fellow Queens henchmen, most notably Khadafi, better known as Tragedy, the intelligent hoodlum. Almost every song is distinguished by choppy but memorable hooks similar to those made famous by QB homies Mobb Deep. It's only fitting that Havoc laces the duo with that static "Parole Violators," a simplified shot sure to make hard rocks smile. The moody "Married To Marijuana" showcases a solo Noreaga treading over tired ground. CNN basically follow the lead of many urban griots before them, reporting the horrors of street life. To critics who object, that's just how it is in America today - or better said, to quote Havoc, "And how it is... is kind of fucked up." - Rap Pages, June 1997. Hit the tags below for the album's review in The Source and XXL; the Next feature in Vibe; the Penalty Mixtape; Unsigned Hype; Vinyl, and lots more. The War Report was released on this day in the summer of '97, but it's the perfect album to carry us through a cold winter. Listen HERE.

June 17, 2020

Blame One "Sacred Ground Sound" (Album Stream)

The Cali duo of Blame One and producer Preed One have collaborated on a new project entitled "Sacred Ground Sound." The 10-track offering features Kair One, Kahlee and Stylistik Jones. Plenty of crisp production and introspective rhymes on here. I've been a fan of Blame One for years - he releases quality content and is always featured alongside artists I respect, as well. His collaborative LP, Walk In The Sun, with my brother J57 was a great project. Their song "They Don't Know" with Akie Bermiss was one of my favorite tracks of 2013. This is a recommended project, listen below...

June 16, 2020

Happy Born Day, 2Pac! (Playlist)

In 1992, 2Pac wrote an unpublished poem he requested be shared with friends after his death: "In the event of my Demise / when my heart can beat no more / I hope I die for a principle / or a belief that I had lived 4 / I will die before my time / Because I feel the shadow's depth / so much I wanted 2 accomplish / Before I reached my death / I have come 2 grips with the possibility / and wiped the last tear from my eyes / I loved all who were positive / In the event of my Demise!" We mourn his loss, because he was such an inspiring poet, artist, and activist: his voice; message and music loom larger than life even today. I imagine what he'd say in today's climate of police brutality and such division in this country? Fortunately we are left with these famous words: “I'm not saying I'm gonna rule the world or I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee you that I will spark the brain that will change the world. And that's our job, It's to spark somebody else watching us." Tupac Amaru Shakur would have turned 49 years old day... in celebration of his life, below is a playlist with about 30 tracks that I've enjoyed over the years. R.I.P., 2Pac. Click the tags for more 2Pac content.

 Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996)

June 15, 2020

Dirty Harry "Red Dead Revolver" (Mixtape, 2004)

From the opening intro taken from The Wire, Dirty Harry sets the stage for another quality mixtape in his extensive catalog dating back to the mid-90s. The Lloyd Banks "Southside Story" blend with Nas' "I Gave You Power" brings Banks' visual/storytelling rap to new levels, continuing with tracks and blends featuring 2Pac, The Game, Ja Rule, Styles P, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Alicia Keys, Beanie Sigel, Jay-Z, Pharrell, and more. A few freestyles close out the tape, but don't add much to the mix... No shade. Released in 2004, Red Dead Revolver is still one of Dirty Harry's most underrated mixtapes (to me) and one I come back to regularly - especially for that Banks blend.

June 14, 2020

DJ Geo Roc "2 Da Death, Chapter IV" (Mixtape, 1996)

DJ Geo Roc (Queens, NY) dropped '2 Da Death, Chapter IV: The Return' in 1996. The mixtape features classic cuts, freestyles and original blends featuring artists like Mobb Deep, Nas, Mic Geronimo, Royal Flush, Big Noyd, Jeru The Damaja, Raekwon, Xzibit, The Firm, Bahamadia, Kool G Rap, Redman, Cormega, M.O.P., Busta Rhymes and a few R&B cuts from Mona Lisa, The Isley Brothers, Horace Brown, Babyface, and more. DJ Geo Roc's mixes are extremely solid and worth keeping in rotation. Peace to Queens ... it's been a minute ... take a walk down memory lane and listen below...