July 31, 2020

Craig Mack "The Grinch" (EP Stream)

After the success of 'That's My Word', in 2018, DJ Tape Deck King taps into some more flava in ya ear from, the late, Craig Mack with The Grinch EP. The EP features 4 tracks of rare mix tape and freestyle cuts from the Bad Boy legend! From the early days as MC EZ in 1988 on Fresh Records to the Bad Boy days and beyond, Craig Mack was always a talented and skilled MC. Gone but never forgotten! I hope more gems are unearthed one day soon. Rest In Peace, Craig Mack. I can't promise this will remain online very long, but for the heads, listen and enjoy the EP while you can...

July 31, 2020

What Had Happened Was "3rd Bass & MF Doom Episode" (Podcast)

In this 'loosies' episode of the What Had Happened Was podcast,  Prince Paul tells the story of working with three legendary hip-hop acts - 3rd Bass, MF Doom and MC Paul Barman - and gives us a look inside each of their creative processes. Along the way, Prince Paul and Open Mike Eagle discuss 3rd Bass’s beef with MC Hammer, a potential full length collab with DOOM and the story of what the beats from Paul Barman’s ‘It’s Very Stimulating’ were originally intended for. Enjoy below...

July 30, 2020

Rest In Peace, Malik B. (11/14/72 – 7/29/20)

Malik B., the elusive M.C. best known for his work with the Roots, died on Wednesday. He was 47. His death was confirmed by his cousin Don Champion. Members of the Roots also posted public statements on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, though the statements did not say where he died or specify the cause. Malik joined the hip-hop group then known as the Square Roots after he met the founders, Questlove and Black Thought, in 1991 at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa. By 1993, the Roots had dropped “Square” from their name and self-released their debut album, “Organix.” Touring relentlessly, they soon developed a cult following in Europe. New members filtered in and out each year. Malik appeared on three more albums - “Do You Want More?!!!??!” (1995), “Illadelph Halflife” (1996) and “Things Fall Apart” (1999) - and then left the band... Though none of the members ever explicitly said why Malik had left, “Water,” a song off the group’s album “Phrenology” (2002), openly referred to his departure. Black Thought recalled meeting Malik, whom he called “Slacks,” and hinted at the ways they had grown apart: “But inside people down with me started to change/It was a couple things, lil’ syrup, lil’ pills/Instead of riding out on the road you’d rather chill.” “Things Fall Apart” - the title was taken from a 1958 novel by the Nigeran writer Chinua Achebe - became the group’s breakthrough album, peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard chart...

Though Malik left the ground around that time, the other members have continued to acknowledge his influence as the grounded emotional core of the group. “I always felt as if I possessed only a mere fraction of your true gift and potential,” Black Thought wrote on Instagram after Malik B.’s death. “Your steel sharpened my steel as I watched you create cadences from the ether and set them free into the universe to become poetic law, making the English language your bitch.” Malik released solo music after leaving the Roots, including the EP “Psychological” in 2006, and two studio albums: “Street Assault” (2005) and “Unpredictable” (2015), which was a collaboration with the producer known as Mr. Green. He also returned as a featured artist on the Roots’ albums “Game Theory” (2006) and “Rising Down” (2008). Malik Smart Abdul-Basit was born on Nov. 14, 1972, in Philadelphia. Information on his survivors was not available. - NY Times. Playlist via Philaflava below...

July 30, 2020

WateRR "Workshop Of The Mind" (Album Stream)

Born and raised in Chicago, WateRR introduced himself with the Primordial Waters album in 2009 and The Baptizm in 2010. He's followed that up with several more projects and has now dropped his latest effort, Workshop Of The Mind. The 12-track offering is fully produced by The Kurse, with co-production from MTK, ForTheNight, Motif Alumni, Beat Butcha and BVLVM. The LP also features verses from TriState and Ty Farris. Ty Farris and WateRR collaborated on a project a while back called "Bulls vs. Pistons," which I thought was very dope and talked about briefly. Dig into it below...

July 30, 2020

A Tribe Called Quest "Beats, Rhymes and Life" (July 30, 1996)

Gone on Beats, Rhymes and Life was their characteristic bottom-heavy, thick-bass, replaced by a newer, airy and soul-sample-based quality, rooted in tricks that would become Dilla's signature. This album's sample template was significantly smaller, with most songs having only one sample and a few having none at all. The album essentially showcased J Dilla's blooming talents. It took Dilla mere minutes to make some beats on the record, like the ominous and sparse "Get a Hold," the second song on the album, which features samples from William DeVaughn's "Be Thankful for What You Got" and The Cyrkle's "The Visit." According to (House)Shoes, it took him twelve minutes total -- most of the time was spent getting the drums. Once he got those, he chopped the sample and put the loop on top in three minutes. Where Tip was meticulous and microscopic in his pursuit of perfection, Dilla was immediate and haphazardly brilliant, and he provided the group with a sonic balance. - Go Ahead In The Rain (2019), an incredible book/love letter to A Tribe Called Quest. Click play, cont'd below...

Beats was reviewed in New York Magazine (9/2/96), saying, "Q-Tip and Phife give a pilgrims' progress. Beats, Rhymes, and Life is an odyssey of personal growth, a Bildungsroman with jazz samples. The record's no breakthrough for them, but it sustains some of the highest musical standards in hip-hop. Beats's triumph is that it charts an acknowledgement of hip-hop's limitations without sounding glum, scolding, or, worse yet, willfully mature. Pretty remarkable given that one of its subtle themes is a conversion to Islam. Part of this success comes from how seamlessly Tribe incorporates narratives into mesmerizing loops and percolating lyrics. Over a panoramic seventies-funk track, Q-Tip and Phife's workaday vignettes would sound faintly ridiculous. But the producer has refined a cozy, jazzy, gritty aural signature that makes them work, unfolding within a fun, sensual, even transporting record. But Beats's most lasting quality has more to do with soul and charm of its characters. In their vaudevillian trade-offs (finishing each other's lines, rhyming a girl's kiss-off in falsetto), Q-Tip and Phife remain funny and engaging enough to counsel just-say-no sentiments -- to drugs, violence, desperation, nihilism -- without sounding preachy, just seasoned. Even expressing the same dismay over current rap trends as De La Soul, Q-Tip rhymes are marvels of playful, rhythmic push-and-pull... His thoughtfulness sounds rugged, warm, and infectious. He may remind us, somewhat heretically, that his hip-hop is "only wordplay," but the pleasure in it says something else. I think of the Clash's Joe Strummer, of all people, who had his own punk quotable: 'Rock, hip-hop, whatever you call it ... the unspoken message is that it's fun to be alive. It's a hell of a lot better than being dead.' You don't always have to shout to send it." I still have mixed feelings about the album, but I do love "Stressed Out," "1nce Again" & "The Hop", unconditionally. Thoughts?

July 29, 2020

K.A.A.N. & Big Ghost Ltd "All Praise Is Due" (Album Stream)

As always, from the words of Big Ghost Ltd himself, "SURPRISE! Ayo listen... If you dont see the Hands of Zeus on social media everyday posting bout favorite albums or taking part in challenges or sharing Will n Jada memes or hypothesizing on who shot Meg Thee Stallion in both feet in a car that only had her n Tory Lanez in it... its probably cuz some shit is in the works... most likely in plural form. But whenever a new project drops mfs tend to assume it was some shit that jus came together in a couple weeks or months. I mean yea sometimes thats the case.. But more times than not it was a discussion that took place a long time before anything popped off. This particular project? Maaaan... I remember I had hit K.A.A.N. on New Years Day 2017... Thats when we first agreed to do a project together. Matter fact the first incarnation of the album was done a few months later. But different circumstances kept setting things back. Eventually everything got recooked n re-recorded. The result is something unlike any other Big Ghost Ltd project ever. What yall are getting is something that we took our time to build.. something Hector Puente Colon Jr & The Santiago Men’s Basketball Philharmonic Orchestra poured they entire hearts n souls into. This is a spiritual journey... but not on some weirdo shit. No features. No skits or interludes. We went someplace else widdit. ALL PRAISE IS DUE. If you ain’t familiar wit K.A.A.N...you been sleepin'. Album is available on all streaming platforms, vinyl is coming soon." Much respect to Big Ghost, listen below...

July 29, 2020

Rub Radio "The Best Of The Trackmasters" (Mix)

For their fourth installment of The Producers, Rub Radio dives into The Trackmasters’ catalog of hits! The duo of Poke & Tone were responsible for a ton of hits in the mid to late 1990s - their classic sound is a chopped up breakbeat with familiar old-school samples – think Mya & Jay-Z “Best of Me” Remix, with the Biz Markie samples. But if you dig a little deeper, you find that they worked the boards on all kinds of stuff, from Kool G. Rap and Pudgee tha Phat Bastard in 1992 to super top-40 towards the end of the decade, like Will Smith “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” and Destiny’s Child “Independent Woman.” Y'all know these records, check out Rub Radio's Best Of mix below...

July 28, 2020

EPMD "Business Never Personal" (July 28, 1992)

The members of EPMD (Erick Sermon and Parrish Making Dollars) don't want to be media angels loved and adored by millions. They'd rather be hardcore -- and consistently well-paid... "I'm satisfied with the same fans I've had for the last five years," says Erick Sermon (aka E-Double E). His partner Parrish Smith (aka Pee MD) adds "We just want to focus on the relationship we have with our audience." To this end, Def Jam will release EPMD's fourth album, "Business Never Personal" ... "We just did what we do," says Smith, who produced the release with Sermon. The album, which doesn't deviate from the loopy, often amusing basement style developed on their previous efforts, is being previewed by the Zapp-influenced single "Crossover," which came out July 2nd. It advocates creative control as it admonishes the hip-hop sellouts... Other tracks on "Business Never Personal" further expound of EPMD's hardcore principles. "Don't Play Me Play The Next Man" delivers a warning to skeezers. "Boon Dox" reveals where EPMD comes from, and "Nothing But The Music" brags about what the act relies on for success. On two cuts the group freestyles with K-Solo, Redman, and Das EFX -- acts that are part of EPMD's Hit Squad production crew. And there's yet another chapter in the saga of that neighborhood female with "an Anita Baker haircut," Jane ("Who Killed Jane"). Meanwhile, "Headbanger" advises fans who want to purchase "Business Never Personal" to "drop by Sam Goody's." This is EPMD's contribution to the battle hip-hop acts wage against bootleggers. The article in Billboard (July 11, 1992) goes on to claim that Erick Sermon felt an additional 1.5 million copies of Strictly Business were bootlegged, and that artists would approach vendors with guns drawn, but it's better to just stick to the music. The label also shared that "At retail, Sony will distribute "business cards" containing an 800 number. "When you call it, you will hear bits of songs from the album as well as messages from Erick and Parrish." I miss the 800 numbers, but I don't remember calling for Business Never Personal, despite it getting a ton of replay value form me in 1992. EPMD's Business Never Personal was released on this day in 1992. Revisit the album below...

Below is the full article in Billboard with marketing plans and more...

July 27, 2020

Rob Viktum "O'Herlihy" (EP Stream)

Dallas, TX's Rob Viktum is back with another strong EP entitled, O'Herlihy. The 5-track EP features Skyzoo, Big Twins, Skrewtape, Snotty, Ca$ablanca, Waterr, and LMNO. The EP also includes instrumentals for each track - all produced by Rob Viktum. Most of the blogs that used to cover underground hip-hop are no longer able to cater to this niche audience, but hopefully the fans are getting it direct, because this is quality hip-hop and he's got a solid back catalog to dig into, too. 

July 27, 2020

Fat Joe Da Gangsta "Represent" (July 27, 1993)

Drop what you're doing and get a fix of this lyrical dope being pumped city wide by Fat Joe. He used to juggle the lyrical jumbs back in the day with Dee Jay (oh, excuse me) Kool DJ Red Alert - lighting up NYC with the fat radio promos for 98.7 KISS FM. In 9-3 Mr. Fat Flow Joe rolls solo, Latino mafioso style - loading the clip with rich beats and selecting lyrical styles as if they were various models of guns - in order to represent that Uptown-Boogie Down home gangsta sound. Listen for the sounds Joe makes in the night as he extorts your local badbwoy sound system for volume and delivers the uncut product that will ring bells in hell. But Joe can't do it alone so he makes sure the rest of his family gets a cut. Special guests from the NY central include Ski, Grand Puba, King Sun, Showbiz & AG, Diamond D, Apache and Kool G. Rap. Click play and continue below...

The first single, the haunting "Flow Joe," has that mid-tempo underarm Teamster swing to it, but it doesn't do justice to the other bits of uncooked talent and fit-unk the rest of the album provides. When he's not tellin' shorty that she got a fat ass, he's tellin' suckers how he's going to do them. Nevertheless, livin' fat is the central theme. But the question remains: Is Fat Joe a bad, bad man or just another rapper riding the gangsta wave? In any case, he's never been busted and is not to be f#cked with - he just wants to tie his fans up with fat laces and stay around longer than Nike. Just do it, Joe. - The Source (9/93). "Flow Joe" was all over the radio at the time, that beat is still crazy to me. Props to Joey Crack. Dig into the tags/archives for more content from Fat Joe in 1993. 

Fat Joe released a commercial in 1993 for Represent, watch it below...

July 27, 2020

Top Shelf Premium "Real Late With Rosenberg" (May 5, 2020)

Here's the Top Shelf Premium cassette edition of Real Late with Rosenberg on Hot 97 (May 05, 2020). Peter Rosenberg spins a ton of underground heat after midnight on Hot 97, reminiscent of the old college radio days, and regrettably, it probably feels like a thankless position for him at times. The mix features music from some underground elites such as Crimeapple, Al Divino, KA, Pounds, Estee Nack and the Griselda camp. Top Shelf Premium was created in 2012, and is explained on their website as a "curated lifestyle involving vintage clothing - artist styling - creating merchandise and providing a platform for hip hop to live. Top Shelf Premium not only sells history through its archive - it creates history through its actions." HBD, Top Shelf Premium! Follow HERE.

July 26, 2020

Take It Personal Podcast "Black Thought Episode"

Episode 68 of the Take It Personal podcast is a reminder to always think big. Black Thought isn't just one of our favorites, he is arguably the greatest rapper in the game. And despite where he might be on your top list, there is no doubt that after you listen to TIP's Black Thought Tribute, he will be bumped up in your ranking. A rapper of this magnitude deserves a proper tribute, which is why they've broken this tribute up into 2-parts. Along with the tribute mix is a great interview where they discuss the new album Streams of Thought, Vol. 3, working with Danger Mouse; the late Kobe Bryant, as well as the upcoming musical he wrote and will be starring in titled "Black No More". We find out if there's a new Roots album on it's way, delve into some Roots stories such as Malik B, Razhel, getting signed to Geffen and what the "actual" release date was for "Do You Want More?!!!??!". They talk Philly, food, classic hip-hop and much more. This interview was more like a conversation with your favorite super hero. Listen to Part 1 below, and stay tuned for more. (Updated: audio for Part 1 died, so I updated it with a Mixcloud link, and also added Part 2 below.)

July 25, 2020

What Had Happened Was "Chris Rock Episode" (Podcast)

As Chris Rock was skyrocketing to fame as a stand-up comedian, he worked with Prince Paul to release three comedy albums that were so innovative and impactful that each one of them won a Grammy award. Here Prince Paul tells the story of thinking he was being pranked when Chris Rock reached out to him, and walks us through the development of each of the albums, including the hit single ‘No Sex in the Champagne Room’ + more... Enjoy Episode 4 of the comedic podcast from Open Mike Eagle and Prince Paul called What Had Happened Was below: Chris Rock and the Grammy's...

July 25, 2020

DJ Doobie Howser "Songs In The Key Of Trife" (Part 1 & 2)

Songs in The Key of Trife is a mixtape series from DJ Doobie Howser running through selections from MF Doom's potent catalog, as well as lots of original source material. I was slow to listen/post Part 1, so here are both mixes that DJ Doobie Howser has released thus far. There's no tracklist, but trust that these mixes run through the known and less familiar records in Doom's discography, so if you like MF Doom (some don't!), you'll enjoy these mixes! DJ Doobie Howser labels it "A mix between Superfly Snuka and a superhoe." Sold! Great name, by the way... pure genius! Listen below...

July 24, 2020

Kid Abstrakt & Emapea "Jazzy Vibes" (Album Stream)

Kid Abstrakt and Polish beat magician Emapea have teamed up for an intriguing new album called Jazzy Vibes, a throwback to ‘90s Golden Era hip-hop updated with a 2020 spin. Kid Abstrakt, a Los Angeles native born to a Nicaraguan father and Brazilian mother, formed his first group Revolutionary Rhythm in high school, which ultimately led him to touring with some of his hip-hop heroes, including members of the Pharcyde. “I fell in love with hip-hop when I first heard A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde,” Abstrakt says. “It was crazy to hear Q-Tip, Pete Rock and J Dilla sample jazz records and have MCs dropping conscious rhymes I could relate to. “While mainstream hip-hop found different styles throughout the years, we just wanted to make music that was similar to the records we bought back in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. We wanted to tell our story over jazz and soul samples.” As the title suggests, Jazzy Vibes retains the tried-and-true formula of mellow, jazz- infused production and boom bap style rhymes, but Abstrakt’s lyrics are bursting at the seams with deep, introspective musings on his private life delivered in a continuous barrage of flawlessly executed bars. “The lyrics go beyond just rhyming words and trying to sound hard on a beat,” he explains. “The album dives into days where I struggle to stay positive and find a balance between work and what I love, and almost quitting on my passion because I needed to focus on supporting my family. “Tomorrow is not promised and my music has helped others through their struggles. It’s deeper than rap and this journey has truly humbled me.” The 10-track project boasts contributions from DJ Million Faces, Predominance, Innate and Young Dreamer. Highly recommended!

July 23, 2020

DMX vs. Snoop Dogg (Verzuz Playlist, 7/22/20)

You can't deny the success of the Jadakiss and Fabolous VERZUZ battle, so it was only right that they'd up the ante on their latest effort: DMX vs. Snoop Dogg aka The Battle of the Dogs. I'm told the VERZUZ series is now officially backed by Apple Music, so both artists are now "battling" in the same studio to provide better audio. Hopefully you didn't think corporate wouldn't be involved? Both X and Snoop brought the good vibes - dancing, hyping one another's tracks; telling an occasional story here and there - it was easily the best in the series thus far! I saw a Revolt article that gave the battle to DMX, even going as far as saying X's "Get It On The Floor" beat out Snoop's "Tha Shiznit," but it's no surprise that article has since been taken down: "404 Not found" ... Foolery. Personally, I think Snoop clearly took this one; his catalog is just TOO deep and his energy is just too contagious! But!... I'll say this ...my heart is always gonna be with DMX. There's a greater attachment to his music: the lyrics and emotion, as well as the ups and downs I feel we've all felt throughout X's career. Unfortunately, there are a couple tracks that aren't available on streaming platforms, so the playlist below is incomplete, but you don't miss much. In closing, it's always good to see love - where it counts - in hip-hop, and Uncle Snoop has been a shining example of an OG for YEARS! I take nothing away from DMX, he came widdit, and it was just good to see him, period! Part of me feels like this battle came down to Swizz Beatz vs. Dr. Dre, did you feel that, too? Enjoy!

July 22, 2020

DJ Filthy Rich "The Infamous" (25th Ann. Tribute Mix, Vol.2)

As promised, DJ Filthy Rich has continued paying tribute to Mobb Deep's classic sophomore album, The Infamous, which celebrated its 25th Anniversary earlier this year. Similar to Volume 1, this second installment features original blends, remixes, original sample sources, album cuts, and a few loosies and unreleased joints, too. The artwork is handled by Che Hinkson. Dig into The Infamous tribute mix below and Rest In Peace, Prodigy. Word is, Havoc has produced an album with Method Man, so keep an eye out for that coming soon. Much respect to DJ Filthy Rich, hit up the archives for a lot more of his mixes, and if the audio goes down, give me a shout so I can update it quickly! 

July 21, 2020

This Is Not A Drake Podcast (All Episodes)

According to Vulture, the CBC’s This Is Not a Drake Podcast is, true to its title, a potent mix of many other things: a loving study of different subjects within hip-hop history, a subtle critique of Canada’s public broadcaster, an overt indictment of the Canadian music industry, and a classic take on the audio-documentary format. The podcast is created and hosted by Ty Harper, a veteran storyteller who has covered the Toronto hip-hop scene for decades. Harper is a deep well of knowledge, himself a piece of an institution. Together with Reza Dahya, he was the co-host of a beloved radio show, OTA Live, that for several years in the mid-2000s dutifully served a largely underserved and under-acknowledged community of hip-hop fans in the increasingly diverse city of Toronto. Harper is now a producer at the CBC, working on the public broadcaster’s flagship arts magazine show Q. He was brought on to lead the podcast after a somewhat extensive period of creative negotiation: The project’s original concept was a fairly standard Drake biography, but Harper pushed back, feeling that Drake’s story has already been well-told — and besides, Drake didn’t come out of nowhere. Hence This Is Not a Drake Podcast. The limited-run series is relatively short, coming in at a quick four episodes plus a prologue and an epilogue, but each entry is dense, ambitious, and incredibly thoughtful. One episode seeks to explore the role of Toronto as a hip-hop city, sketching out the scene’s textured history and its ties to New York City. Another is built around hip-hop’s relationship with gender, which features Harper bringing in the Toronto-based journalist Anupa Mistry to lead the inquiry. Vulture spoke with Harper recently about the series, its origins, and the struggles embedded in developing a project like this for Canada’s public broadcaster. Read about that and more HERE, and listen to this incredible audio-documentary/podcast below...

July 20, 2020

UFO Fev & Termanology "From El Barrio, With Love" (EP)

East Harlem's UFO Fev is back with another one! This time around, he links with the good homie Termanology and keeps it consistent with another 7-track EP entitled, From El Barrio, With Love. The description of the EP shares, "El Barrio's own born and bred wordsmith UFO Fev, hooks up with the Lawrence, Mass' legend Termanology for From El Barrio, With Love. Taking the helm of production on this offering, Term provides UFO Fev with a landscape of pure organic boom bap which allows the emcee to deliver in pocket. From El Barrio, With Love, is UFO & Term's first collaborative effort, with Fev coming off of his Fresh Air release with Statik Selektah, this is surely one for the record books. Latinos STAND UP!!!" Definitely one of my favorite 'new' artists, check it...

July 20, 2020

What Had Happened Was "A Prince Among Thieves Episode" (Podcast)

In 1999 in the height of rap’s "jiggy era," Prince Paul made one of the most imaginative projects in music history. A Prince Among Thieves is a fully formed musical novel born from Paul’s creative vision and fueled by pain in his personal life. In this episode, Prince Paul walks us through the struggles of producing the album, the triumphs of completing it and how close he came to actually developing it into a full-length movie. Its the story of a naive and talented rapper named Tariq (played by Breeze Brewin of the Juggaknots) and it unfolds through rap songs featuring legends like Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul and many more. Enjoy the latest episode of Open Mike Eagle and Prince Paul's fantastic new podcast, What Had Happened Was, and my favorite concept album of all-time...

July 19, 2020

Sir Veterano "The Gathering" (Album Stream)

Sir Veterano's The Gathering is the first official album to be released on Fresh Yard Records. All songs on the album are produced by Sir Veterano, and features include Murs, Fashawn, Casual, Skillz, Guilty Simpson, Phat Kat, Bishop Lamont, Supastition, MC Eiht, Ras Kass, MED and more. The California producer’s always-evolving ear has led to a sound that encompasses and intertwines a multitude of genres, but his sound is deeply rooted in hip-hop... especially on this project. I know Sir Veterano's long-time friend and my artist, Supastition, have worked together on numerous occasions outside of The Gathering, and the chemistry is always dope. So, it's only natural I'd be tapped into this one and eager to listen and support it. Don't sleep ... check out Veterano's The Gathering below...

July 18, 2020

M.A.V. & Rob Gates "Dark Side Of Nature" (Album Stream)

Like we always do about this time... I'll let Big Ghost speak, "Proud to announce the release of the latest addition to the Big Ghost Ltd Certified discography. I dont wanna sell this shit too tough since I like to let the work speak for itself BUT if you happen to be sleepin on M.A.V. x Rob Gates let this latest collabo btwn the Big Ghost Ltd x Da Cloth brands be another testament to the fact that this crew outta Rochester might really be the best kept secret in the game. After the The Only Way Out project that dropped late 2019 n after Rigz x Mooch also featured heavy on the Carpe Noctem project at the top of 2020...it only made sense to link up wit the head of the Voltron.. a methodical thinker n somebody who can go toe to toe wit damn near any pen in the industry. Lotta yall been sleepin on Mav.. But he aint the only one yall been snoozin on.. In the tradition of dynamic duos who gotta particularly natural chemistry n also sound like polar opposites at the same time (something that was also present on Griselda Ghost by Westside Gunn x Conway as well as on The Only Way Out) it only made sense to have the wildest member of the crew ride shotgun on this album. Somebody to strip you for ya valuables while Mav stares into your chest to assess what type of heart you got. This shit is like science... Hope yall appreciate the results. Tap in." - Big Ghost Ltd. Dig into M.A.V. and Rob Gates' The Dark Side of Nature, produced by Big Ghost Ltd, below...

July 17, 2020

Nas "Life Is Good" (July 17, 2012)

We live in a different era than Illmatic, one where hip-hop has taken on so many different forms that each listener has their own definition of what can make or break the “classic” status. Nas’ latest – Life Is Good – is undoubtedly one of the strongest records of his career, but like all of his others, some will call it classic, others won’t. Life Is Good starts out remarkably with “No Introduction” – despite being a bit overproduced – Nas is at his best here, letting listeners know what he’s been up to since the last time we heard his voice. This leads into the very Illmatic-esque “Loco-Motive” (feat. Large Professor), which proves Nas could easily craft a true sequel to his classic debut, if he wanted to. But he doesn’t need to, as proven on tracks like the cinematic “A Queens Story”, the fake-gangster blasting “Accident Murderers”, and the incredibly penned “Daughters”, where Nas laments “What he date, he straight a chip off his old papa / who she date, we wait behind the door with a sawed-off…” ... “Back When” is another post-Illmatic banger, classically crafted by No I.D., while “The Don” is a dancehall fueled, Super Cat sampling New York anthem, sure to mash up the place. Closing out with a gorgeous pairing of Salaam Remi’s two greatest collaborators – Nas and Amy Winehouse – on the long overdue “Cherry Wine”, and the bittersweet dedication to his ex-wife, Kelis, on “Bye Baby” – it’s safe to say that Nas has recorded one of the best albums of his storied career. Life Is Good is easily Nas’ most personal album to date, which amazingly is one of the first albums to peel a layer away of Nas’ armored exterior – something that’s been largely kept quiet throughout his career. Like Hip-Hop Is Dead and Untitled before, Nas has crafted another amazingly solid concept album. And we’ll put that on every last one of his classics. - HipHopSite. Life Is Good was released on this day in 2012. Revisit the album below...

Some extra images that were included in the album's documentation...

July 17, 2020

Blu & Exile "Miles" (Album Stream)

2020 marks eight years since Blu & Exile's last full length album 'Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them'. Now in an effort to make up for lost time, the dynamic duo are back to drop the double album 'Miles: From An Interlude Called Life' ('Miles' for short). Released through Dirty Science Records, the album includes features from Blu‘s childhood friend and now platinum recording artist Miguel, Exile’s childhood friend Aloe Blacc, Dirty Science alum Fashawn, along with several emerging artists like The Last, Artful Dodger, Choosey, Iman Omari, and more! 'Miles' is "coincidentally" released today, on the same day as their lauded debut 'Below The Heavens'. “We planted the seeds of creativity and grew about 40 plants,” Exile says of the release. “We picked the ones that we thought were the best for an album, but that didn’t mean that the other flowers weren’t beautiful.” Blu & Exile are ready to prove they haven’t missed a beat, as their undeniable chemistry is once again put on display. Blu & Exile are one of my favorite groups of all-time! "Troubled Water" is my favorite cut on the album so far, I've run it back like 6 times ... Listen to "Miles" below...

July 16, 2020

DJ Platurn "The Best of Redman" (Mixtape)

When lockdown began back in March (2020), a gentleman I barely knew (DJ Trex) in my facebook network sent me an email with a request. He wanted to see if i'd be willing to make a mix for him in the vein of the homage mixes I've done in the past (Native Tongues, Outkast, etc) but for his favorite MC of all time, Redman. He explained to me that he is a nurse working on the frontlines of the covid pandemic and proclaimed he always wanted something like this in his possession and now would be the time to make it happen, especially with the future being so uncertain. Lump in my throat for real so I agreed without hesitation. We swiftly made a connection and have become friends over the last few months, checking in to see what the progress looks like on each of our ends. I took the project very seriously and am truly happy to present this to the world, on his behalf of course. My 1st major project during these unprecedented times. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it. - DJ Platurn // If you've heard any (or all) of DJ Platurn's past mixes, then you know what it is! I've had to update the link for this mixtape at least two times, hopefully the link below stays active and you can order cassette copies, too, now - via Strictly Cassette. Hit it...

July 15, 2020

Remembering Troy "Trouble T-Roy" Dixon (30th Anniversary)

On July 15, 1990, Mt. Vernon native Troy "Trouble T-Roy" Dixon was killed by an accidental fall at the age of 22. It was a freak accident while on tour in Indianapolis with his group, Heavy D & The Boyz. The LA Times added, "The group, from Mt. Vernon, N.Y., was on a 10-city tour and was one of the headline acts for Indianapolis’ Black Expo, which also featured the rap group Public Enemy." Heavy D's group, which also included G-Whiz and Eddie F., paid homage to their childhood friend by dedicating their next album, Peaceful Journey, to his memory in 1991, but it was Pete Rock & CL Smooth who immortalized him in 1992 with their tribute record, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).” Pete Rock talked to Village Voice about the record in '07, saying: "When I found the record by Tom Scott, basically I just heard something incredible that touched me and made me cry. It had such a beautiful bassline, and I started with that first. I found some other sounds and then heard some sax in there and used that. Next thing you know, I have a beautiful beat made. When I mixed the song down, I had Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School in the session with me, and we all just started crying." Pete also said, "To this day, I can’t believe I made it through, the way I was feeling. I guess it was for my boy." T.R.O.Y. remains one of the greatest hip-hop records of all-time and having toured with Pete Rock & CL Smooth, hearing them perform it live (on several occasions), it's just as moving today as it was the very first time I heard that saxophone. R.I.P., Trouble T-Roy. 

July 14, 2020

Fat Beats NY's Final In-Stores (2010) + 26th Anniversary

From July 1994 to September 2010, Fat Beats NY held it down as the mecca of independent hip-hop in NYC. On its final week at the 506 6th Avenue location, numerous artists and DJs came through to show love to an institution in NY that helped birth countless careers. Artists like the Arsonists, Juggaknots, Masta Ace, Pace Won, J-Live, Sadat X, A.G., The Artifacts, Ras Kass, Eternia, Skyzoo, BBAS, Immortal Technique and more, all represented. On the DJ side, Statik Selektah, Neil Armstrong, Da Beatminerz, DJ Soul, Rob Swift, Sucio Smash, DJ Eclipse, Tony Touch, and a final day that included sets by A-Trak, DJ Premier, Cipha Sounds, DJ Skratch, Pete Rock, Just Blaze and among others, Fat Beats' president, DJ Jab. My memories of Fat Beats are some of the best and I'm eternally grateful for the relationships I built and to be a part of the final shows through my work with Eternia, who performed on Tuesday alongside Ras Kass and others. The audio below represents some of the DJ sets from Fat Beats' grand closing. It's still bittersweet for me, but listen below! Today marks Fat Beats 26th Anniversary, you can still visit them online for all your music needs and at the physical location they opened in 2018 at 916 S. San Pedro St. in Los Angeles, CA. For more backstory: Fat Beats began as a small basement shop located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate. Their retail stores spread from NY to LA, Atlanta, Amsterdam, and Tokyo and alongside retail expansion they developed into a wholesale distribution company and record label. They remain steadfast in their commitment to the timeless vinyl format and the loyal community who keeps it spinning. Dig in the archives for more, including the original invitation to the store's opening in 1994!

July 13, 2020

Gang Starr "Full Clip: A Decade of Gang Starr" (7/13/99)

"Boston native Guru (born Keith Elam) and Texas import DJ Premier (born Christopher Martin) came together in New York in 1988 to create an unprecedented brand of hip-hop. Gang Starr combines jazz influences with straight-ahead lyrics in the style of rap forefathers Run-D.M.C.... Full Clip boasts all 17 singles the band released between 1989 and 1998, including a remix of "Manifest," the song that helped put Gang Starr on the hip-hop map with its use of a bassline from a Thelonius Monk jazz piece... The songs "Code of the Streets," from the film "Menace II Society," and "DWYCK," a 1994 B-side featuring fellow hip-hop group Nice and Smooth, also appear on the collection. The album introduces "Full Clip," "Discipline" and "All 4 Tha Ca$h," songs recorded at D&D Studios in Manhattan earlier this year. "Full Clip" finds Guru playing the role of hip-hop wise man, condemning those who rap "childish nonsense" and lie about who they really are. Meanwhile, DJ Premier offers a jazz-inflected guitar strum. "I've always been one of those MCs that's been allowed to speak out on ... a type of MC," Guru, 35, said. "Not everybody can do it. ... It's like I'm not just a kid on the block without a record deal." ... In February D.I.T.C. member Big L (born Lamont Coleman) was shot and killed as he left his apartment in Harlem. Guru and Premier said the shooting affected them deeply; an excerpt from a March tribute concert for Big L begins the album. On it, Premier shouts the words "Big L, rest in peace" in the seconds before "Full Clip." Incidents such as the murders of Big L and the Lost Boyz' Freaky Tah (born Raymond Rogers) two weeks later made Guru more guarded, he said. "It makes the chip on my shoulder bigger," Guru said. 'My occupation has hazards that come with it that don't come with a lot of other jobs. I take it real seriously. So if somebody's coming at me with a vibe that they're not taking it real seriously, then I'm going the other way.'" - MTV. Full Clip was released - to/for the fans - on this day in 1999. R.I.P., Big L and Guru. Revisit it below...

July 13, 2020

The Opioid Era "The RZA vs Havoc Tape" (EP Stream)

The Opioid Era is a 3-man Hip Hop Collective located down in Virginia. The group consists of artists King Kong Gotcha, Ambassador Rick, and Grunge Gallardo. For their latest 8-track offering entitled, The Rza Vs Havoc Tape, they flip the concept of the Verzuz battles popularized on IG and add rhymes over RZA & Hav's instrumentals. I'm not mad at that, and it works. Check it out below...

July 12, 2020

DJ Jazzy Jeff & MICK "Summertime: 2020" (Mixtape)

It's that time of year again! DJ Jazzy Jeff and MICK (Boogie) add another classic mix tape to their Summertime series. 2020 makes it 11 straight summers of mixes featuring that retro, soulful, cool out, BBQ-eating, suntan-getting, beach chair-sitting, two miles an hour so everybody can see you, music! Lots of great original samples, as well as tracks from Fabolous, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, OutKast, Jill Scott, Styles P, Jay Electronica, De La Soul, David Begun, Gang Starr, Bilal, Public Enemy, Nas, Usher, DMX, A Tribe Called Quest, Dwele, Boogie Down Productions, Big Daddy Kane, and more. A little late for 4th of July this year, fellas... but they put it down, as always. Check it out below...

July 11, 2020

9th Wonder x Robert Glasper & More "Dinner Party" (EP)

A supergroup including some of the most creative minds in jazz, has come together for a perfect soundtrack to lay back and relax to. Kamasi Washington, 9th Wonder, Terrace Martin, and Robert Glasper have come through with their debut album as a supergroup, Dinner Party. Bringing elements of hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and funk into the fold, this project has been two years in the making. Chicago singer Phoelix comes through with some vocals on several tracks across the project. "Dinner Party is years of friendship, shows, dinners, conversations, laughs and life experience, all converging into one moment,” it reads in a press release. “Dinner Party is a metaphor — a group, a project, a spirit, an imprint of time — and also the name of the album… Dinner Party is invite only, but it’s for everyone.” - HNHH. This project is phenomenal! Don't hesitate, click play...

July 10, 2020

Apollo Brown & Che' Noir "As God Intended" (Album Stream)

Buffalo & Detroit are America’s broken dream. They are once thriving cities, now known for frigid temperatures and violent crime. The cities were birthed in a different era, forged in fire, built of cold steel. It follows that the rawest Hip-Hop in recent memory has bled from these two regions. No two artists exemplify this hard truth more than legendary Detroit producer Apollo Brown and Buffalo’s maverick emcee Che’ Noir. The two artists came together to create a sound as natural as calm after the storm. The soulful, head-nodding production of Apollo Brown has been a staple called on by some of the greatest to ever do it. Apollo Brown’s signature style has become an iconic staple of the culture. Meanwhile, Che’ Noir has stepped onto the scene as smoothly as any double dutch veteran. She has emerged as one of the most extraordinary NY talents heard in years. The pair’s new album, “As God Intended”, drifts up and down city streets and offers a glimpse behind closed doors, telling the stories of gunshots, missing fathers, and playing the system. The new album from Apollo Brown & Che’ Noir features Skyzoo, Planet Asia, Ty Farris, and Black Thought. Listen...

July 09, 2020

What Had Happened Was "De La Soul Episode" (Podcast)

Following the introduction to the podcast I posted earlier in the week, Open Mike Eagle and Prince Paul are back with Episode 2 of my favorite new podcast, What Had Happened Was. On this newest episode, Prince Paul tells legendary tales of the forming of De La Soul and the creation of their classic debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising in 1989. Prince Paul and Open Mike Eagle are two creative geniuses and this podcast is packed with amazing stories and pure comedy. I don't wanna ruin it by posting the cliff notes, lol, so dig into the podcast below and enjoy it for yourselves!

July 08, 2020

Happy (Belated) Birthday, RZA! (Playlist)

Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (born July 5, 1969), better known by his stage name RZA, is a rapper, producer, actor, filmmaker, and author. He is also the de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, known as (The) Abbott. He has produced almost all of the Wu-Tang Clan's albums, as well as many Wu-Tang solo and Wu-affiliated projects. RZA is cousin to two other original Wu-Tang Clan members: GZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.). And... Yes... I was Team Premo in his battle with DJ Premier, but I wannabe clear that I recognize the depth and seriousness of his catalog. When you really look at the number of albums RZA's produced - how many CLASSIC albums he's produced! - his run is truly mind-boggling! Joints with GZA, Method Man, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Gravediggaz, Cappadonna, Inspectah Deck, etc + solo, group records and outside production! That led me here... to narrowing down a playlist of roughly 30-40 tracks (and I gave myself 10 minutes to do it), which includes some of my all-time favorite joints from RZA. It wasn't as easy as I thought, lol. The playlist is below... I might add 10 more tracks to it every so often just so it's not stagnant and represents how my taste in music can change over time. So... all that said, a very Happy (belated) Birthday to the RZA, who was born on July 5, 1969. What are your favorite RZA tracks? Update: I realized that the comments have been turned off... whoops! I've fixed it now - maybe it's too late, but feel free to comment below any posts. Oh, and correct me if I mis-credited any of the tracks below to RZA.

And, why not add some randomness... HBD, RZA!