November 30, 2020

Stretch & Bobbito Show (The Fugees & Pete Rock, 11/30/95)

This set is partly from a 27th generation copy of an Underground Flavas tape out of West London, and partly from a rip which had been shared on the web a few years back [and subsequently been deaded in terms of linkage]. We’ve bumped the EQ in Izotope, compressed it a touch and tweaked it for your listening pleasure. This show is a great example of why Stretch is held is such high esteem by his peers within the industry as well as the listeners, he may have been a DJ and a host, but the actual mixing, blends and turntable based doo-dads are tight like duck-butts throughout this show. No gobble! As well as the great music and tight mixing, this vintage classic includes Pete Rock and 2/3 of The Fugees up in the studio as well Jansport sponsored classics. The mix includes tracks from Das EFX, Blahzay Blahzay, Jamal, Mic Geronimo, Lord Finesse, Mobb Deep, Redman, Busta Rhymes, INI, Real Live and so much more. - via RandomRapRadio. Much love to Stretch & Bobbito...

November 30, 2020

D.C. Cortez & Drew Dave "Stoop Stories" (Album Stream)

'Stoop Stories', an album presented to you by Washington D.C. emcee D.C. Cortez, and Alexandria, VA, but PG County residing producer Drew Dave, is an album inspired by waiting for the Metrobus, route 70, which runs through the Georgia Avenue section of Washington D.C. The soul of the city. It depicts the stories you see in the faces of long time residents, who no longer remember their city. The shown empathy for one set of people, and the lack thereof for another, battling addiction. The continued, state-sanctioned plunder of black lives at the hands of the police. Friendships that were severed: some due to action; some that drifted apart due to time. An attempt through audio, to be a time capsule one can revisit and notice every neighbor, store, bar, and stoop, untouched by the constant hand of change. With Drew Dave's production pulsating the pavement and D.C. Cortez's lyrical precision, 'Stoop Stories' serves as a harmonious stroll through the nation's capital. As told by those who travel the beaten paths far from the domes, monuments, and tourist destinations, that most have come to associate with Washington D.C. Give a listen to their Stoop Stories below...

November 29, 2020

Statik Selektah "The Balancing Act" (Album Stream)

Renowned DJ and producer Statik Selektah's ninth solo studio album, The Balancing Act, has an array of star-studded features, including Nas, Dave East, Method Man, Joey Bada$$, Black Thought, Bun B, Killer Mike, Benny the Butcher, Conway the Machine, Evidence, Blu, Lil Fame, Marlon Craft, Smoke DZA, Jadakiss, Styles P, Termanology, Rome Streetz, Havoc, the late/great Sean Price and many more. The album title is inspired by the way Statik balances his responsibilities as a father, as an artist, as a producer and as a DJ. I respect that! To execute his vision for the album cover, Statik enlisted famed designers Dom Dirtee and Tristan Eaton, whose work can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) and has been featured across the world from Paris to Shanghai. Earlier this year, XXL named Statik Selektah as one of the 48 Greatest Hip-Hop DJs of All-Time. Statik is one of the hardest working artists I know, and someone who always upholds a high standard for quality releases. Keep leveling up on 'em, Statik! Listen to his latest offering, The Balancing Act, below...

November 28, 2020

Jahari Massaba Unit "Pardon My French" (Album Stream)

Drums: Karriem Riggins. Instruments: Madlib. The combination is called Jahari Massaba Unit, and Pardon My French is their long-awaited debut album. Among all of the projects has Madlib presented as part of his Jazz Universe, this collaboration was of particular note to fans, who continued to wonder for years if anything else might come from the collaboration. This album, put together by students of jazz in its myriad and historic forms, and also proponents of jazz’s future, reflects a lifetime of record collecting, musical study, woodshopping, and a reverential respect for one another’s craft. Masters at their crafts, this is definitely something you want to sit down and digest at length, as its very eclectic and not some fast food/microwave music. Dig into it below...

November 28, 2020

Adonis "I Spit On The Devil" (Album Stream)

I Spit On The Devil is the fourth studio album from Long Beach, CA's Adonis. Adonis tackles some inner demons on the project, making for deep content and powerful lyrics throughout the 9-track offering that also features Tedy Andreas (who also serves as the executive producer), Stevie Crooks and Dirty Dell. If you've already heard Adonis' 2018-19 collaborations with DJ Skizz ("Logan") and V Don ("This Thing Of Ours"), then you clearly know Adonis is a superb lyricist with a great ear for crisp production, so without hesitation, dig into his latest offering I Spit On The Devil below...

November 27, 2020

Duck Down Newsletter (Summer, 1997)

Back in the day (mid/late-90s), Duck Down had its own printed Newsletter. This particular issue was announcing the release of Boot Camp Clik's For The People album on May 20, 1997. It shared the story of their album release party in Philadelphia at Club Gotham that featured Black Thought & Kurupt of the Dogg Pound, as well as news of their World Wide Tour, their single from the New Jersey Drive soundtrack (and Soul In The Hole); an interview highlight Louieville Sluggah, fan merchandise and Starang's verse from "Headz Ain't Ready." Duck Down has always had a great street team, a platform to go direct-to-fans, and incredible music. It's funny to see them plugging accounts for Hotmail, too lol. I've always been a fan of the independent zines and it's dope to have this newsletter to remind me of me that same vibe. I scanned the full newsletter, so you can read it/save copies. Too late for that merch though, lol. Here's a nice Boot Camp Clik playlist via Spotify.

November 26, 2020

Elements Magazine Book (DJ Flipout & Jay Swing)

I've been waiting on the official drop and now it's here, the Elements Magazine Book! This limited edition, hardcover book will be the perfect addition to your library or coffee table! If you have original copies of Elements and saved them all these years, now you can revisit them without having to wash the ink from your hands. If you’re just finding out about Elements, enjoy this time capsule back to one of the greatest eras in music - '90's Hip-Hop - capped off with Dedos' Golden Era Icons series paying homage to artists from the late '80s and early '90s and those that came before them! The magazine's first publication was in May 1995 and - extending out of the CiTR station - ran until Winter 1996. DJs Jay Swing and “Flipout” (Phil Cabrita) had already established themselves at the station as hosts of “The Show” with Checkmate at CiTR every Saturday night from 6-8PM, before approaching station manager, Linda Scholten, with their idea for the magazine. The functioning core was made up of Flip and Jay — who handled everything from the editorial duties, the layouting, to the distribution — with AA Crew members, Dedos and Virus, who contributed the lettering and graffiti-style illustrations. Now, those behind Elements come together again to wrap things nicely into a book that collects all the little pieces to the magazine. If you've been following this site, I've already covered a few reviews from the original Elements Magazine days of the 90s, as well as some art from Nelson Dedos Garcia. Much respect to DJ Flipout and Jay Swing, order your copy of the book HERE, and some more background stories about Elements Magazine HERE.

November 25, 2020

Tree Mason & Spanish Ran "W.I.P. 2" (EP Stream)

W.I.P. 2 is the follow-up to W.I.P. and Carhartt Champions from the Bronx duo of Tree Mason and Spanish Ran. Spanish Ran's production is soulful and gritty, while Tree Mason bars are a nice complement to represent the Carhartt clothing they so proudly draw inspiration from. The duo consider themselves a Work In Progress, but aren't we all? Their art continues to grow and progress, as well, so dig into their 9-track EP that also features Starker, Bloo, Dot Demo and M.A.V.

November 25, 2020

Happy Born Day, Erick Sermon! (Playlist)

One-half of the legendary hip-hop duo EPMD, Erick Sermon is also among the genre's most prominent producers, deservedly earning the alias "Funklord" with his trademark raw, bass-heavy grooves. Born in Bayshore, New York, on November 25, 1968, Sermon -- aka E Double, the Green-Eyed Bandit, and MC Grand Royal -- teamed with rapper Parrish Smith in 1986 to form EPMD, an acronym for "Erick and Parrish Making Dollars"; signing to the tiny Sleeping Bag label, they soon released their debut 12", "It's My Thing," which went on to sell an astounding 500,000 copies. In the years to follow, EPMD emerged as one of rap's most vital acts, their hard-edged beats and Sermon's mumbled, monotone delivery becoming a great influence on the burgeoning gangsta movement. In addition to producing their own material, the duo also helmed records for the extended family of performers dubbed the Hit Squad, whose ranks included Redman, K Solo, and Das EFX. In early 1993, EPMD disbanded, and Sermon soon resurfaced with his solo debut, No Pressure; he also became a sought-after producer and remixer, working with everyone from En Vogue to Blackstreet to Shaquille O'Neal. After a second solo effort, 1995's Double or Nothing, he and Smith re-formed EPMD in 1997, releasing the LP Back in Business. Soon after Sermon announced he was retiring as an artist in order to make room for up-and-coming talent. Most of his work would then be behind the scenes with Busta Rhymes along with releases from Method Man and Redman, then in 2008 he launched the EP Records label and reunited EPMD for the album We Mean Business. After suffering a heart attack in 2011, he became an advocate for cardiac health awareness. His prolific career continues to this day, after a slept-on - but undeniably dope - solo album entitled Vernia, as well as the recent production credit on Westside Gun's From King to a God album. You'd be an absolute fool to sleep on the career of one of the greatest MC/Producers of our generation! Happy Born Day to Erick Sermon, much respect and thanks for all of your contributions!

November 24, 2020

"Embattled" (Trailer)

I watched the movie Embattled last night... I was put on to it through my brother, The Audible Doctor, who has a song featured in the trailer. I enjoyed the film - even with all it dug up - it captured me and held my attention to the very end (sans the character of Keaton). For more about the film, here's the blurb: "Raised by an abusive father, Cash (Stephen Dorff) channels his aggression to become a World Champion MMA fighter. Now accustomed to wealth, adulation and global popularity, he faces a new challenge when his second son is born with Williams Syndrome. But this time, rather than stand and fight, he runs. While Cash continues to make his fortune in the ring, his eldest son Jett (Darren Mann) becomes the caregiver to his younger brother Quinn (Colin McKenna). When Jett decides to follow his father’s fighting footsteps and take to the fight game, he faces his past head on, embarking on a course inevitably pitting father versus son in a battle which, no matter the outcome, neither can win." It's a really strong film, check out the movie's trailer below...

November 23, 2020

Snoop Doggy Dogg "Doggystyle" (Press Kit, 1993)

Shootin' Tha Shit With Snoop... On Learning to Rap: "If you wanna become a rapper, it's like you wanna become a student in college. You gotta become a student to the game. I listen to a lot of other artists to get an idea what's the hottest shit out there, so when my shit come out it's way better and you don't even wanna hear that other shit no more." // On Doggystyle: "A lot of people misinterpret it. They think it's a sexual comment. But it's not. Doggystyle is just my way of putting things. I try to be original. I have my own special way of doin' things." // On Being Labeled A Gang Member: "I ain't never been no drive-by shoot 'em up, hell of a gangbanger. But it was like the environment I was in, muthaf#ckers, was in a gang. But it don't matter cuz if the n!ggas come ridin', they gonna ride on all of us. They not gonna say 'Okay, you can get on up out the way. We knew you ain't banging.' I mean, I had to wear that jacket. And I wore the muthaf#cker and I took it off. I want peace on the streets like it was on 4-29-92. That shit felt good. Bloods, Crips, everybody just chillin.' I ain't never felt that before, being able to go to neighborhoods where they restrict you cuz you wear this color and they wear that color. Everybody was together. That's what my music's goin' for -- to make you stop bangin' for a second. Listen to my music and get on another vibe." // On Dr. Dre: "Musically, we on the same vibe. And we both allow constructive criticism and allow each other to come in and help out rather than be selfish. It's like I could come with a track that might be bumpin' in your eyes or my eyes but when Dre's finished with it, it bumpin' everybody's eyes, cuz he's got that finishin' touch. But personality-wise, I'm more low-key than Dre is. I'm real in the cut." // On Success: "I'm chillin.' I'm just somebody who got an opportunity to express his God-given talent and doin' it to the fullest. Lots of distractions come with it but I'm strong and I understand the game and I respect it. I do all I have to do to keep it goin' on like it's goin'." // On Being Real: "You can take me out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of me. No matter where I'm at, I'm still gonna be the same person." - Press Kit (1993). Released 11/23/93, revisit the LP below...

November 22, 2020

Neak "Innenstadt" (Album Stream)

Innenstadt centers around the extreme-stark dynamics of inner-city black culture and how it affects day-to-day existence. With diminishing resources and development, many things shift internally pertaining to a person's well-being. These varying emotional and economic dynamics are documented through hip-hop sonics and the true-to-heart emotions of Chicago rap artist/producer Neak. Cultivated to shed light on "What's Going On," Innenstadt is a musical journey in sound, right into the depths of inner-city blues while headlining aspects that exacerbate this way-of-life. If you haven't heard Neak's KWESBAAR project, dig into the archives for that LP, too!

November 22, 2020

Phife Dawg "DollarCabOnLinden" (Mixed by Filthy Rich)

Few acts are lucky enough to reach the iconic status of A Tribe Called Quest, and that's exactly what Phife was... an icon. Not only in music, but in pop culture in general. DJ Filthy Rich was gutted to learn of his passing back in 2016. His music meant a lot to him growing up, as it did to all of us, so he had to celebrate his 50th birthday today in his own way. This project is also pays homage to Pharcyde's classic 'Labcabincalifornia', which also turned 25 this past weekend. There are already a bunch of ATCQ-themed tribute mixes to Phife, so Filthy Rich opted to go a different route and use Phife's solo LP 'Ventilation'. According to Filthy Rich, "I felt that Phife's flow matched up well with the soulful bounce of Labcab's production, courtesy of J Dilla, The Pharcyde, Diamond D, The Beatminerz, and M-Walk. So I fused the 2 together, and the result is 'DollarCabOnLinden'." Happy 50th birthday to Malik Taylor aka Phife Dawg aka The Funky 5 Footer aka The Trini Gladiator aka Phife Diggy aka 5 Foot Assassin aka Funky Diabetic aka Mutty Ranks! This mix is also dedicated to our fallen brother, DJ Spinbad. Rest in Peace! Props to Toronto's DJ Filthy Rich, his mixes are dope!

November 22, 2020

Redman "Dare Iz A Darkside" (November 22, 1994)

Ah yes, there's plenty of blunted references on Dare Iz A Darkside, although strangely the track that has been getting massive air-play stateside, 'Smoke A Blunt Too', has been omitted from the LP - it was previously the star turn of Def Jam's pre-release winter sampler. But to moan about such an exclusion does massive injustice to 'Dare...', an album that confirms the huge promise of 1993's 'Whut? Thee Album' and more. The hot and earthy funk flows like lava -- remember that young Reggie comes from the same city as the Godfather of Funk, George Clinton. Redman never sleeps on a track. Many of the cuts (like 'A Million And 1 Boodah Spots', 'Wuditlooklike' and 'Slide & Rock On') aren't much more than four minutes long. He's realized that too many other rappers spend their time babbling on when the business of producing a whole set of different flavas is ignored. Anyway, the fluidness and cadence of Redman's delivery makes his rhymes sound like he's packing a lifetime into a single set of lyrics. And if imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Redman must be bored of the sycophants -- over the last two years he's been imitated more times than Tommy Cooper. This album will assure that Redman will now be mentioned in the same breath as Rakim and Paris as the dopest emcees in hip-hop. 'Chocolate City' is what Redman calls his home town of Newark -- and this is one Willy Wonka of an album. Damn near perfection. -- HHC, 1/95. Revisit it...

Full album review in HHC and a pic from my IG are below + Press Kit.

November 21, 2020

LL Cool J "Mr. Smith" (November 21, 1995)

Bold and vainglorious, 16-year-old James Todd Smith was a one-man Run-DMC when he exploded onto the scene as LL Cool J in 1985. He was a cartoon character with ironclad lyrical muscles, venomous enough in spirit to please the gangsters of his Queens, N.Y., hometown but with enough velvet in his voice to make the young ladies swoon. The only problem was that Smith never wanted to be a tough guy; deep down, he wanted to sing love songs. LL Cool J, after all, stands for Ladies Love Cool James. His heart has always been in rap ballads like “I Want You” and “I Need Love.” His producers, Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, had to convince him to keep ripping it rough, because in the musical revolution known as hip-hop, to paraphrase Malcolm X, you’re too busy swinging to be singing. Mr. Smith proves that 10 years and six albums later, LL is able to bridge the gap effectively between the cream puff and the hard-ass. Mr. Smith doesn’t always deliver the haymaker punches of “Mama Said Knock You Out,” but it has enough force to prove that the king from Queens is no punk. What on paper seems like schmaltz ends up being one of the most worthwhile tracks LL has ever committed to tape: “Hey Lover,” a rap duet with Boyz II Men, has it all — the perfect combination of vocal harmonizing, a clever sample from Michael Jackson’s “Lady in My Life,” and LL’s forthright and highly visual lyrics. “Doin It,” his sexually charged duet with singer LeShaun, shows the raunchy side of LL’s personality, which hasn’t reared its head since “The Bristol Motel,” from 1987’s Bigger and Deffer. But like that song, there’s almost no profanity involved; the sex is all embedded within the song’s analogies. But whether LL likes it or not, the secret of his success is his lyrical fire. “No Airplay” and “Get da Drop on ‘Em” have the right idea: Forget about the radio demographics and keep it real. And he does, keeping the structures loose and the beats hard while firing off metaphors like stray bullets. Maybe one day LL will realize that it’s his electrifying flow, not his Casanova aspirations, that have made him a rap superstar for 10 years running. - Rolling Stone (2/96). It wasn't easy finding a favorable review of this LP, but I always enjoyed it! Dig in...

November 21, 2020

Billy Danze "The Listening Session" (Album Stream)

Billy Danze of M.O.P. has released a new solo album entitled, The Listening Session, and it goes! The 13-song project is a prelude to his forthcoming album, The Billy Danze Project, I'm told. Danze describes it, "The Listening Session is more of the thinking section that leads to my album ... The soulful beats helped me showcase the Billy Danze my audience may not know; I'm painting familiar portraits on an unfamiliar canvas." Swiss producer TooBusy holds down the production on all 13 cuts, which feature guest appearances from Method Man, Lil' Fame, La Boogie, Frontline Live, Havoc, DJ Premier, Cormega and Daz Dillinger. This is a really solid project, it's gonna stay in rotation! Dig in...

November 20, 2020

Rasheed Chappell & Buckwild "Sinners and Saints"

On their ambitious collaboration, New York rap heavyweights Rasheed Chappell & Buckwild have perfectly captured the stress and tension, but also faint sense of the hope, of what it means to be a sinner or a saint. In just 11 tracks, 'Sinners & Saints' plays like an audio documentary series filled with expertly crafted beats and rhymes. When the two sat down to work together, Rasheed says that they only knew that they “wanted to address the now, the past, and the potential future.” And upon receiving the first batch of beats from Buck—the D.I.T.C. producer with decades of acclaimed work to his name—the NY emcee used a majority of them and knew immediately what they were doing. “My goal was simple: don’t try to recreate anything they have done, just create something that no one else can do, which is to be me,” Rasheed says. Buck echoed that sentiment when he talked about the record in a documentary, in which he expressed his excitement to work with not just a talented rapper, but a skilled artist. “Being an artist is just as important as putting two words together to rhyme,” Buckwild explained. That high level of artistry, from everyone involved, is what makes 'Sinners & Saints' so impactful. Props across the board, it's a dope project! 

November 20, 2020

Phife Dawg: Gone But Not Forgotten!

Malik, I am sorry that we did not gather roses for you when you could still clutch the petals in your hands and feel the softness of them stick with you for ages, the way so many of your verses stuck to our tongues with the sweetness we allowed ourselves sometimes, days after we first heard them. Malik, Phife Dawg, Five Foot Assassin, you towered over an era of incredible riches. You, creator of another narrative. Patron saint of the punch line. You, who got the party started and stuck around long enough to get the last laugh. Malik, we will remember you when a rapper tries to be clever and fails; when a crowd cheers at a half-hearted rhyme. We will suck our teeth at club DJs, and take the long way home. We will press play on anything that bears your name, and let you fill a room, or a car, or the space on an empty train. We will remember how you did it once with so much ease. On point. All the time, on point. - Hanif Abdurraqib (Go Ahead In The Rain). Phife Dawg would have celebrated his 50th birthday today. We celebrate HIM in his absence, may he rest in eternal peace. Art above by @Torre.Pentel. Q-Tip's words are equally touching, watch that below...

November 19, 2020

Rob Viktum "Thompson" (EP Stream)

Rob Viktum is a producer / beat-maker from Dallas, TX. His production credits include M.O.P., Ras Kass, Skyzoo, Big Twinz of Infamous Mobb, Brother Ali, Don Will of Tanya Morgan, and many others. He is a member of 9th Wonder’s True School Corp; a member of the 1200 Hobos, and a member of Beat Fanatic (a collective of producers including Illmind, S1, Jake One, and Slopfunkdust). Thompson is his latest 5-track EP, which includes features from Marv Won, DJ Jon Doe, Krum, Stik Figa, Rakim Al-Jabbar, Menace, Lord Goat, El Gant, Danielle Hightower and DJ Enfoe. The EP includes instrumentals for all 5 tracks, as well. This EP is part of a larger series of releases that you can dig into HERE.

November 19, 2020

Mobb Deep "Hell On Earth" (November 19, 1996)

Mobb Deep are out to shit on those who spit on them. Havoc, the outfit's Napoleon-size producer/poet, grew up, like Nas, Marley Marl, and Roxanne Shante, in New York's surreal Queensbridge Housing Projects. Prodigy is his suburban-reared rapping other half, the good cop to Havoc's bad one as Hell on Earth, the duo's third album, pursues retribution like Charles Bronson in the Death Wish flicks. If the subject matter is somewhat limited to this "I'm gonna get you first, sucka" motif -- reflected in ditties like "Blood Sport" ("This ain't rap / it's blood sport / Your life cut short") and "Get Dealt With" ("My live n!ggas in the back / Got the gats blowing out of your back") -- well, Mobb Deep's big payback always sounds bitchin'. It was the subtle keyboard clamor of 1994's "Shook Ones Pt.2," sedating you and stimulating you at once, in a guileless high, that solidified Mobb Deep's position as the East Coast's reigning drama lords. Hell on Earth pursues a similar percussion-and-bass gumbo of sound. Straight-ahead war drums pounce out conversations with light strings, electric pianos, ancient videogame sound effects, and, on "Nighttime Vultures," pissed-off-buzzard shrieks. Very occasionally, you'll hear a longing for sanctuary inside Mobb Deep's insanity. "Dreams of growing old with my son," beams a warm Prodigy on "Apostle's Warning," his voice shimmering with earnestness. Havoc, more typically, concocts a love-triangle hostage situation in "More Trife Life," warning one of his soldiers "don't never go see a bitch." We don't know if Havoc lives or dies. What matters, according to the Thugster's Handbook, is that his manhood remains in check; that in the face of doom Havoc flexes his middle finger. - Spin (1/97). Revisit this classic WINTER album below...

Original album review in Spin and Hell on Earth advert below...

November 18, 2020

J​.​PERIOD Presents "The RISE UP Project" (Album Stream)

Co-Executive Produced by J.PERIOD, Young Guru, DJ Jazzy Jeff and DJ Khalil, The RISE UP Project reaffirms Hip Hop's place - for a new generation - as the soundtrack for social change, with 10 new songs that speak with renewed urgency to the fight for justice and equality in our nation. The collaborative album features: Grammy-winning artists Andra Day, Black Thought (The Roots), Aloe Blacc, Joss Stone, Posdnuos (De La Soul), Pharoahe Monch, Rhymefest, Xzibit, Sa Roc, Dead Prez and Maimouna Youssef; leading activist Jesse Williams; and production from J.PERIOD, DJ Khalil, Rance Dopson (1500 or Nothin), DJ Jazzy Jeff, Stro Elliot, Tall Black Guy and more. Heat! Dig into it below...

November 17, 2020

Ice Cube "The Predator" (November 17, 1992)

If The Predator doesn't pack the hammer-in-the-forehead wallop you might expect at first, don't blame the artist -- blame the reality that's outpaced his and our nightmares. As despicable, and perhaps inexcusable as many of Cube's pronouncements have been, none of them have been as damaging as the ill-made decision of the 12 jurors in the Rodney King trial. "I told you it would happen / You heard it / read it / But all you could call me was anti-Semitic," Cube ruminates on the furious "We Had To Tear This M.F. up," his justification for the riots and one of Predator's three crucial cuts. Cube's dangerous genius is for bringing his listener into the center of the storm. The other two outstanding cuts are the ones directly preceding "M.F."; the almost humorously hyperbolic title-cut-statement-of-purpose (where, among other outrages, Cube calls the Statue of Liberty a "lazy bitch"), and the stunning "It Was a Good Day." Behind a groove that's as close to slinky as he's gotten, Cube recounts a rare 24 hours of no hassles - "plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A. / Today was a good day." The rest of the record is fairly solid, with more than its share of disconcerting moments -- Cube's nyah-nyahing ("Now you ask if I'm a Five Percenter?") in particularly, um, charming, but it bogs down in the second half, weighed with a tired bitch-hating scenario ("Don't Trust 'Em," gee, there's a new spin) and a follow-up to AmeriKKKa's "Gangsta's Fairytale" that cries out for an Andrew Dice Clay cover version. By the time Cube mounts his own cop-killing sketch of the last cut, it comes off as more than just a bit of pro forma. The music is a big help throughout -- riffs reminiscent of Sly and Funkadelic but put into an atom smasher, enriched with noise and compressed till they create a backdrop as dense as a black hole. But as always, it's the voice that grabs you, holds you, and demands to be heard." - Spin Magazine (01/93).

The full album review in Spin Magazine, January 1993...

November 17, 2020

Senor Kaos & Illastrate "Kings of Vice" (Album Stream)

Señor Kaos and Illastrate are "Kings of Vice" - an Emcee / Producer combo who create in the underworld of Atlanta, Georgia. In a time where our quality of life is literally ripping at the seams, two kings unite to hold things together. Masters at their habits, fighting the good fight for creatives using drums and spoken word as their weapons. Everybody's got vices, making music is theirs. You can't be a King until your master your vices! With features by 4-IZE, Headkrack, Boog Brown, Notorious Grizzz, Joe D, Flux Da Wondabat, A.O.S., & Sean Emcee, Kings of Vice is a sonically soulful journey with incredible wordplay at every twist and turn. Props to the good homies Senor Kaos and Illastrate, two very talented brothers. Dig into their dope offering, Kings of Vice, below... 

November 17, 2020

GZA "Liquid Swords" (25th Ann. Mix by Filthy Rich)

Toronto's DJ Filthy Rich continues his impressive run of paying tribute to classic albums with his latest offering, GZA's Liquid Swords. A couple weeks removed from the 25th anniversary of Liquid Swords, this mix hits us with original samples, exclusive blends, remixes and more. The artwork is handled by Che Hinkson and the project is brought to you in conjunction with Hip Hop Back In The Day and a popular Wu-Tang fan page. It can never be overstated how classic this album is and how well it fits the cold weather, so give it burn below... (Unfortunately the platforms don't give a lot of love to mixtapes, so to avoid takedowns, this mix is streaming exclusively through YouTube for now.)

November 16, 2020

Deuce Ellis "Midnight Ouroboros" (Album Stream)

Buffalo born, Brooklyn raised MC/producer Deuce Ellis drops his second offering of 2020, Midnight Ouroboros. This 10-track LP features Deuce on production and mic duties with some assistance from some of the game’s most sought after artists. On the emcee tip, he invited along Rome Streetz, Estee Nack, Hus Kingpin, G4Jag, Napoleon Da Legend, Billie Essco, Ty Farris, Jae Skeese, and Lxve The Genius. While on the boards he collaborated with Camo Monk on three joints once again, and did one with another Buffalo beatmaker, CeeGee. To spark off this high profile affair Deuce unleashed the lead single titled “RZA’s Keyboard” featuring Rome Streetz and Popa Wu. As the name suggests, the beat was concocted on RZA old keyboard, which was given to Deuce by his mentor Popa Wu. Deuce also recorded The Clan elder dropping mad knowledge, which he uses a snippet of on this special cut to tribute the late great. R.I.P., Popa Wu. Listen to the album below...

November 16, 2020

Supastition "Falling Apart" (Bandcamp Exclusive)

"Falling Apart" is the latest self-produced song by Supastition. The record is mixed by the talented X:144 and is a Bandcamp exclusive as a follow-up to their live interview and mixing session on Twitch. The track shows Supastition at one of his most vulnerable points on record, sharing: "Finally we got our finances secure / My wife gets cancer / Man some plans are cancelled for sure / She cried uncontrollably and I remember every word / Beggin' God if he could sacrifice my life instead of hers / I woulda gave it for the woman who birthed and raised my babies / No debating by the grace of the Messiah though she made it / Now I, got fifty thousand in medical bills ridin' me / My head is just filled with new stress and high anxiety..." Exhale, that's deep... Props to my bro Supastition for puttin' his life into the music, and inspiring listeners with each listen. Supa is currently working on his next solo project, so supporting this exclusive will help fund the project and other dope ideas for 2021. Listen to the full track below and watch the in-depth interview + mixing session HERE.

November 15, 2020

Method Man "Tical" (November 15, 1994)

On Tical, his much-anticipated solo album, Method Man takes the listener on a brilliant journey through the broken boulevards of his existence. He growls like a werewolf, and then, on the next song, his lungs sound like they're overflowing with smoke. The title track is an ode to blunts, but Method's bleak visions take you beyond the herbal clouds. "Bring the Pain (Is It Really Reel)" is one of the most complex ghetto anthems to emerge from the underground since since KRS-One's "Criminal Minded." His style's gotta ride on something. Ever since the release of Wu-Tang's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) -- crazy addictive beats, demonic textures -- fans have been waiting to return to hell with producer Prince Rakeem. The Prince has studied hip hop as an art form and rejected the rules. Tical is best when listened to through headphones -- beats creep, sounds crash, and soul hooks transform and transform, taking on lives of their own. On "Sub Crazy" the sounds of urban warfare are scary enough to put you in search of a bomb shelter. Without blasting a single real shot, Tical is a perfect document of the anger that many young African-American men have. The production wizardry and vocal complexity build with each listen. - Vibe (11/94). Revisit it below...

Taken from the Month of the Man promotional ad...

November 15, 2020

The Opioid Era "Dope Stick" (EP, Produced by Praise)

The Opioid Era (King Kong Gotcha, Ambassador Rick, and Grunge Gallardo) are back with another ill project entitled Dope Stick. For their latest offering they tap Maryland-beatsmith and good homie, Praise, for the incredible production on the project. As one half of the group Speaker Bullies with my brother Supastition, I'm very familiar with Praise's heavy drums and crafty production. The EP brings just what you'd expect from this pairing, so if this is the first time hearing Praise or The Opioid Era, dig into the archives for more. Look out for the Speaker Bullies album coming soon, too!

November 14, 2020

Prodigy "H.N.I.C." (Press Kit, 11/14/00)

Prodigy put his lifetime in between the papers' lines. He's the quiet storm n!gga who fight rhymes. P, yeah, you heard of him, the haunting lead vocalist who, along with partner-in-rhyme, Havoc, propelled Mobb Deep to platinum heights. On his debut solo release, H.N.I.C. (Head N!gga In Charge), Prodigy of Mobb Deep unveils a slew of gems that takes listeners on a journey through life, death and the pains of living in this cruel world. Prodigy's distinctive off-beat/on-beat rhyme style has effectively made him one of the most respected emcees in hip-hop. He explains his writing process, "When I write rhymes I think about who is poppin' right now. I try to come with some other sh!t that nobody is saying or if they did I twist my sh!t, so it sounds different." By the age of 15, Prodigy, an art & design student at the prestigious Graphic Arts High School in Manhattan, was trading rhymes with classmate-turned-rhyme-partner, Havoc. In 1993, Prodigy and Havoc released Juvenile Hell on 4th-n-Broadway. In 1995, Mobb Deep signed with Loud Records and released their classic opus, The Infamous. This album became the unofficial Mobb Deep debut and spawned the underground gold single "Shook Ones".... Hell On Earth followed in 1996 and Murda Muzik in 1999.

Murda Muzik spawned another classic with "Quiet Storm" and then another with the remix featuring Lil' Kim. "Quiet Storm" was originally intended to be a track for Prodigy's solo album. Prodigy reminisces, "That song was actually supposed to be Noyd, Havoc, and me. But these n!ggas wanted to go party and left me in the studio.... I sat there all night and wrote the song. I was gonna save it for my solo album, so I could just hand in the album all done. But n!ggas was like you gotta put that on the Mobb album. I was like hell no, that's my solo sh!t." He refused for six months and ultimately put it on the Murda Muzik LP. The song calmly worked its way from underground mix-tape favorite to a groundbreaking classic within a few months. In the tradition of "Shook Ones" and "Quiet Storm," Prodigy comes equipped with one of the most powerful records this year and first single to be released from H.N.I.C, "Keep It Thoro." "That's my flippin' on the whole industry song," confesses P. "A n!gga get tight sometime cause he feels that n!ggas don't show respect when it's due. So I just had to do a song that said f#ck everybody." Produced by honorary Mobb Deep producer, Alchemist, this amplified gem is sure to work its way from the corner to the clubs in no time. Cont'd below...

Instead of avoiding personal matters such as the state of his health, Prodigy tackles his battle with sickle cell on the emotional "Never Feel My Pain." "I felt that sh!t needed to be put out. A lot of n!ggas come out with songs about pain, but I'm saying you have never felt my pain." Quickly killing any speculation of a Mobb Deep break-up, Prodigy explains why he decided to release a solo album, "Mobb Deep is still Hav and me; my solo album is just a whole different project we comin' out. Before we started doin' Murda Muzik, I decided to put out some solo sh!t, because I was writing so many rhymes." Prodigy continues, "At one time, Mobb Deep was coming out like every two years and there was a big gap in between with no music out. We decided to release H.N.I.C. to fill the gap between Murda Muzik and the next Mobb album so that Mobb is consistently in the public's eye. On H.N.I.C., fans get the chance to soak in the provocative thoughts of one of hip-hop's most prolific lyricists. - Press Kit. R.I.P., Prodigy! H.N.I.C. isn't on streaming platforms, I'll update when its back.

November 14, 2020

The Pharcyde "Labcabincalifornia" (25th Ann. Mix by DJ Spinna)

This 25th Anniversary mixtape is mixed by NYC’s DJ Spinna and features “Nasty Habits”, an unreleased joint from the vault that features Ralph Tresvant and Bobby Brown. Imani & Bootie Brown also asked a group of producers to remix and add their own personal spin on a few of the Labcabincalifornia songs that you all know and love. DJ Mike Relm re-works a mash up of “Drop”, SBBX remixes “Groupie Therapy”, Moka Only drops his version of “Y” and The Pharcyde’s own Bootie Brown remixes “Runnin’.” DJ Spinna is a heavily touted presence in the international soulful house music scene. He is known for his vast accomplishments as a producer; is celebrated for his “Soul Slam” events and Stevie Wonder inspired WONDER-Full DJ performances and subsequent collaborations. The Pharcyde’s sophomore album “LabcabinCalifornia” was originally released on November 14th, 1995. The group enlisted a young and then unknown James Yancey aka J DILLA to produce beats, like the cult classic “Runnin.” Labcabincalifornia has consistently and continues to reinforce their steadfast refusal to tread familiar artistic grounds. Enjoy the anniversary mix below...

An extra promo piece from '95, revisit the Labcabincalifornia LP over HERE.

November 13, 2020

Mr. Lif & Stu Bangas "Vangarde" (Album Stream)

“Our debut album is just the first in what we plan to be a long legacy of high quality, raw, brazenly uncompromising hip-hop. Legacy and adding value to this culture are extremely important to us.” - Mr. Lif on his and Stu Bangas’ self-titled debut as Vangarde. In a year of ongoing civil unrest, political corruption, and a global pandemic, 2020 deserves a punch to the gut like Mr. Lif & Stu Bangas’ debut album as Vangarde. This project addresses each of those topics and deftly tears them apart through incredible lyricism and raw, boom-bap production. Vangarde’s 11 songs represent the culmination of not only what this year has wrought, but also the talents of Lif and Bangas, an emcee-producer duo built for this. What makes Vangarde so impactful is that it doesn’t beat you over the head with the same sound or approach. Lif and his guests may tackle subjects related to oppression and corruption throughout the record, but it’s done through nuance. The same goes for Bangas’ stellar production, which maintains the momentum of his vocal counterparts. It’s no surprise then that the two speak so highly of each other, with Bangas referring to Lif as a “storyteller and a reporter,” and Lif noting that he was saving the name “Vangarde” for a project with an “elite producer.” It’s for those reasons that it’s easy to understand why the album succeeds in its execution, and why the two artists are so proud of the outcome. As Lif says, “Vangarde is that raw rap shit you can rely on to connect you directly to the essence of this culture.” The hard hitting LP includes guest appearances by Murs, Akrobatik, Eternia, Blueprint, Reef the Lost Cauze, Blacastan, Insight, and Puma Ptah. On a personal note, I'm very proud of my brother, Mr. Lif - this is another phenomenal project in his extensive catalog! You can feel the Gang Starr-like vibes throughout the album, but the vulnerability on "8 Minutes 46 Seconds" and "Now Is Only Now" add an extra layer to it, too. Listen to it below and props to Fat Beats for the vinyl on the way shortly.