December 31, 2021

The "Juice" Soundtrack (1992)

Encore! Encore! Juice isn't talked about enough, but it remains a phenomenal film from 1992. The soundtrack boasts a lineup that stands as a veritable who's who of early-'90s hip-hop. Heavyweights such as Naughty by Nature, Salt-N-Pepa, and Cypress Hill all check in with stellar contributions to this remarkably consistent collection. In addition, respected pioneers of the genre also lend their talents to the album, with Eric B. & Rakim's propulsive "Juice (Know the Ledge)" and Teddy Riley featuring Tammy Lucas' slinky "Is It Good to You?" Other notable tracks include Too Short's cautionary tale "So You Want to Be a Gangster?" and EPMD's cooly confident "It's Going Down." Juice showcases a group of performers whose work can be appreciated because of their integrity and rhyming skills rather than their blatant sampling of entire hit songs or video gimmickry. In short, it represents everything that is right about hip-hop. - AllMusic. I still argue that "Know The Ledge" is the single greatest hip-hop song of all-time, and the exclusivity of "Uptown Anthem" on the soundtrack--at the time--was remarkable, making it a must-have. Peace to DJ Scratch, Majesty, Queen Latifah, Special Ed, EPMD, Treach, Ed Lover, Doctor Dre, Fab Five Freddy + more.... 

You can find more photos below and in the archives, too...

December 30, 2021

Happy Born Day, LeBron James!

LeBron's meteoric rise started early in his tenure at St. Vincent -- St. Mary's high school in Akron, OH, where he and famed "Fab Five" led the school to three state titles in their historic run. Along the way, he earned accolades including Mr. Ohio Basketball. In the 2003 NBA Draft, LeBron was selected number one overall to his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his first season, he became the franchise's first player -- and the youngest player ever -- to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. LeBron spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. A leader on and off the floor, LeBron helped lead the Cavs to three postseason appearances. In the 2007-2008 season, he won the NBA scoring title averaging 30 points per game. After exercising his free agency for the first time in his career, James joined the Miami Heat in the 2010-2011 season. The team won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013 with LeBron earning Finals MVP awards in each campaign. In July of 2014, LeBron memorably announced he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on a mission to deliver his home state a title. After making it to the Finals but falling short in his first season back, in year two, LeBron led the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit to win the franchise's first championship and the city's first title in more than 50 years. He was again voted Finals MVP. He would bring the Cavaliers back to the finals the following two seasons, capping a historic run of eight straight finals appearances. In 2018, LeBron joined the Los Angeles Lakers, taking the opportunity to help return the historic franchise to its former glory. Following in the footsteps of the game's largest legends, LeBron is now in his second season in purple and gold. Happy Born Day to one of the greatest athletes of all time! Enjoy some highlights from his career...

December 29, 2021

Styles P & Havoc "Wreckage Manner" (Album Stream)

Wreckage Manner is the collaborative project between Mobb Deep’s Havoc and The Lox’ Styles P. Entirely produced by Havoc, Wreckage Manner includes the previously released single “Nightmares 2 Dreams” ​​​alongside nine other songs that find The LOX wordsmith and Mobb Deep producer at the peak of their powers. In tandem with the release, Havoc shared some thoughts about working with Styles P. “Making this piece of work reminded me of working with P (the late, great Prodigy of Mobb Deep),” he said in a statement. “Styles is an artist that I was a fan of over the years, so making this project was truly a pleasure.” “Authentic, vibrant, quote-worthy, raw uncut hip hop,” Styles added. “Get ready for the ride!!!” We still mourn the loss of Prodigy, but I'm glad that Styles P and Hav were able to come together and make this art happen. I hesitated for several weeks to click play, may have been jaded by some negative reviews but after listening, I think it's a solid album. Dig into Styles P and Havoc's collaborative project, Wreckage Manner, below...

December 28, 2021

Jay-Z "Vol.3: Life and Times of S.Carter" (Dec. 28, 1999)

In the fall of 1999, Def Jam posted a billboard atop the intersection of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in downtown Brooklyn to advertise Jay-Z’s new album. Fittingly, the blown-up cover image for Vol. 3 … Life and Times of S. Carter depicted the rapper flanked by skyscrapers, peering downward. (Hov always did love a good metaphor.) He was now above the competition—in his home borough, in New York City, and in hip-hop. By the time Vol. 3 dropped in late December, Jay-Z was rap’s undisputed ruler. Vol. 3 went no. 1, as did all nine of his subsequent solo releases. Beyond his transcendent skill, Jay’s nimbleness and ambition would become the hallmarks of a long-running monarchy. He hewed his sound to adapt to radio trends and collaborated with the right people at the right time. And he was ruthlessly competitive, on and off the mic, which only added to his longevity. While Vol. 3 isn’t regarded as Jay’s best album—that accolade is reserved for his debut or 2001’s The Blueprint—it does have a wide-ranging aesthetic that reveals the expansive kingdom that Jay-Z oversaw when he first assumed power. The South was rising. Dr. Dre returned. New disrupters were en route. And hip-hop in general was on the verge of going fully mainstream. Jay observed the terrain and adapted accordingly. From his very first words on the album—Yeah, I know you just ripped the packaging off your CD—to the bootlegged songs that were left off the final cut, Vol. 3 provides a perfect time capsule of rap as it headed into the new millennium. - The Ringer. Revisit the LP below.

The album's (Canadian) one-sheet boasts "sales points" and "facts" as: Vol.3: Life and Times of S.Carter is his highly anticipated fourth release with his charismatic dazzling lyrical acrobatics, stunning verbal versatility and fierce, driving beats. Album includes 2 hidden tracks: "Jigga My N!gga" and "Girls Best Friend" (from the Blue Streak soundtrack). Guest artists include Mariah Carey, Juvenile, UGK, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Amil, as well as production from Swizz Beats, Timbaland, Big Jaz and "a few newcomers", failing to specifically mention DJ Premier, Rockwilder, DJ Clue, Duro, and Irv Gotti. Definitely not my favorite Jay-Z album... but it absolutely did have joints: "So Ghetto", "Do It Again", "Things U Do", "Big Pimpin'", "Anything" and the 2 hidden tracks, of course. 

December 27, 2021

The LOX "Knicks Freestyle" (Video)

In late 2020, clothing line Kith revealed their collaboration with Nike and the New York Knicks with a freestyle video starring The Diplomats (Juelz Santana, Cam’ron, and Jim Jones). Now into their second year, Kith shares a second freestyle featuring the Dips’ VERZUZ opponents, The LOX. While standing on center court of Madison Square Garden, not far from where the trio beat their Harlem contemporaries in their VERZUZ session, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch, and Styles P unleash a barrage of bars for three minutes. It’s safe to assume that a reveal of the Kith x Nike x New York Knicks collaboration will arrive soon, too. - via 2DopeBoyz. “New York, New York, what’s bigger than this/The home of Jay-Z and Nas, matter of fact, the home of Biggie and Kiss/Donnie and P L-O-X way before Cube we were the big three.” Peep the dope visuals below... ain't none of y'all better...

December 26, 2021

Happy Born Day, Marco Polo! (Playlist)

Marco Polo is a Toronto born, Brooklyn based producer known for his hard drums, 90s-inspired boom-bap beats, and working with some of the most elite lyricists in hip-hop. Venturing from Toronto to NY in the 2000s, he became an assistant engineer at famed studio, The Cutting Room, where he networked and made industry-wide connections while honing his skills as a producer. He's produced albums with Masta Ace, Torae, Ruste Juxx, Hannibal Stax, A-F-R-O, as well as international acts, instrumental albums, production kits and a handful of production albums featuring a who's who of various hip-hop legends. Marco's production is a reminder of hip-hop at its very best, and, as such, he's widely considered one of the best producers in the game. I've had the pleasure of working with him on Supastition projects, for various interviews, and sharing stages in the U.S. and in various tour spots around the world. To celebrate his born day today, below is just a small sample of same of my favorite cuts from his catalog... and the artwork above is by the talented Dan Lish! Listen below, then hit the archives for various full projects from the over the years... HBD, Marco!

December 25, 2021

A MF'in DOOM Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I couldn't fathom what to share this year on Christmas, and then I was reminded that we learned of MF DOOM's death on December 31st last year. He'd passed away 2 months prior. I know there's a Cookin' Soul "Doom Xmas!" and remixes, but I thought I'd take it to Adult Swim on Christmas Eve, 2006. I found the video on YouTube, along with the following message: "These are the Christmas with Doom bumps that aired on Adult Swim on Christmas Eve 2006. Adult Swim has brought MF DOOM, a rapper, to host the block that year for Christmas. This was pretty interesting and funny. I vaguely remember watching some of the stuff this night when I was younger, most notably Pee Wee's Christmas." Do you remember when this aired? A little something different this year, dig into the archives for past posts and more Christmas-inspired music/promo. Merry Christmas! Rest In Peace to the late MF DOOM, one of the greatest MCs! Stay blessed, y'all!

December 24, 2021

Nas "Magic" (Album Stream)

Legendary rapper Nas has released another new album for 2021 and fans are thrilled. Two days before Christmas, the 48-year-old New York City-born Nas released a 9-song LP, Magic, which is produced by Hit-Boy. Magic comes on the heels of the rapper’s 2021 album, King’s Disease II, which he released in August. That album features big-name artists like Ms. Lauryn Hill. Nas took to social media to announce the release of Magic, writing on Twitter, “#MAGIC is in the air. Midnight EST brand new music to vibe to." One of the standout lines from the record comes from the opening track, “Speechless,” on which Nas raps, “Only thing undefeated is time. Second is the internet. Number three is this rhyme.” On the record, Nas talks about social media, other big-name rappers, the tough past few years, and the human condition (including the Black American Experience). - via AmericanSongwriter. Arguably one of the best releases of 2021, "Meet Joe Black" and "Wave Gods" are bangers! Nas did his thing and proves that hip-hop is not only a young man's game. Enjoy below...

December 23, 2021

Trackstar The DJ "Phife Tribute" (Mix, 2016)

"New York City represent, represent A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent-sent The Dawg is scientific with the styles I invent A Tribe Called Quest represent, represent-sent MCs like to meddle, but here's my proposition I let my lyrics flow, and juxt your whole position..." I was in the mood for some Phife Dawg today and this mix from Trackstar The DJ was the perfect solution. Released at the time of Phife's passing (3/16), he shared the following message along with it, "Rest In Peace to a man who was an essential part of the group that made me fall in love with hip hop, a group that will always stand among my very favorite artists in the history of music. I don't normally put together mixes in the wake of an artist's passing but Phife had a bigger influence on me than most so I knocked out a quick one highlighting some of my favorite Tribe jams. Peace, love and respect to his family and friends, the whole Native Tongues and everyone else whose life he touched while he was here." My thoughts mirror those of Trackstar still to this day, it's really hard to put to words the influence A Tribe Called Quest had on me as a young kid from Queens... it's endless. So, yeah I wanna revisit those memories today... hit memory lane with me one time and keep an eye out for the posthumous album by Phife Dawg coming... one day soon. Rest In Peace, Phife.

December 22, 2021

Cookin' Soul "Wu Xmas" (Album Stream)

Spain's Cookin Soul is back with another fine release, Wu Xmas! Not much to say about this one, it's just what you wanted for Christmas ... a nice big plate of Wu-Tang Clan over head-cracking instrumentals. The project is 15-tracks long with all tracks produced, remixed and mastered by Cookin Soul, who is a platinum producer, DJ and Grammy Award winner. Dig into the release, then click through to the Bandcamp for a host of other projects it appears I've missed over the years. In his own words, "Xmas time is hereeeee.... Enter the 36th chambers and get all the presents you want... It's a WU XMAS motherfuckers SUUUUUU!" It doesn't get any realer than that. Listen below.

December 21, 2021

DJ Premier "So Wassup?" ("Brownsville" Episode, Video)

DJ Premier returns once again with a new episode in his phenomenal video-blog series, So Wassup?; a salute to the floppy disc! Premo touches down in Brooklyn with Lil' Fame and Billy Danze for the track "Brownsville" off their album Firing Squad in 1996 on Relativity. DJ Premier also produced "Stick To Ya Gunz" off that album, which is a personal favorite, among others on the LP. Premo explains how he cut vocals from the end of "How About Some Hardcore"--after OG BooBang passed away--as the intro vocals to "Brownsville", paying tribute to BooBang (R.I.P.). Premier produced the record on a MPC 3000, which was NOT his preferred weapon of choice, but the engineer had ordered the wrong equipment to the studio session that day. He was shown how to use it, and got busy though, as only DJ Premier could do. There's more dope back story and history on the record, I won't ruin it all for ya ... click play and enjoy! Salute DJ Premier, M.O.P., and mgr. Ian Schwartzman...

December 20, 2021

Hus Kingpin "The Firm" (Album Stream)

Hus continues his streak of conceptual albums, "The Firm" comes in fresh off of his last LP, the Portishead inspired album titled "Portishus", which is currently sold out. Inspired by the 1997 group The Firm (Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, Cormega, Nature) and the 1993 film "The Firm" starring Tom Cruise. The album features SmooVth, SageInfinite, Ali Vegas, Canibus, Rozewood, Max B and more, as well as production by Khrysis, Stu Bangas, Macapella, DJ Tako, etc. Despite the downfalls of the original Firm album, this is still an ambitious project to revisit, but Hus Kingpin does a fine job. Listen to it below...

December 20, 2021

Take It Personal Podcast "Tribute to Sean Price! (R.I.P.)"

On Episode 99 of the Take It Personal, Jason Gloss and crew celebrate the life and the career of the late great, Sean Price. The podcast is joined by special guests Pharoahe Monch, Phonte, Torae, Meyhem Lauren and Peter Rosenberg, as they serve as your tour guide throughout this 4+ hour tribute. They've got hours of music, memories and laughs as they feature over 70+ tracks showcasing the remarkable catalog of the legendary Sean Price. The Boot Camp MC is joined by fellow Heltah Skeltah member, Rockness, as well as the O.G.C., AG, Pharoahe Monch, Tek, Phonte, Roc Marciano, Jedi Mind Tricks, Canibus, Ras Kass, Method Man, Freddie Gibbs, Black Milk, Skyzoo, Rahzel and more. I'm glad I got to meet Sean Price before he passed away - I didn't always agree with his public views, but I did come to respect him as a man. Dig into this great mix/tribute to him below...

December 19, 2021

Kev Brown "The Kev Brown Holiday Special" (Beat Tape)

On his new joint, The Kev Brown Holiday Special, Kev brings the basslines back. When you think of holiday music, you don't think first of basslines. But this is a Kev Brown album, so we get all the usual holiday feels, but we also get those basslines. But I'm getting ahead of myself. A holiday album at its core has to give you that holiday feel. You gotta feel that vibe. It has to be festive. This isn't lost on Kev. Songs like "Let's Go Play and Stuff", "Fun", and "Pajamas and Hot Chocolate" really bring that holiday vibe. Like, you can run this album in the background while you open presents, or have it playing when the grandparents arrive. You can put in a shuffle with the classic Temptations and O'Jays holiday records and not lose the vibe. And yet, these songs still work as a hip hop record. Which brings me back to those basslines. As a Hip hop head, you can still appreciate these records, just for being some dope ass beats. Kev doesn't sacrifice the funk. You can close your eyes and while listening to "Fun" and see Christmas, and yet you can still hear a hot 16 too. And he really gets in his bag on Futuristic Angel, pushing the envelope with synthy bass that lives up to its Future namesake. If you like Christmas and like hip hop, you need this. You want to play some Christmas music for the fam but still want beats, you need this. Got a heartbeat and like music? You get the idea... - Kamau "Slacks" Malone. Listen to this fine beat tape from Kev Brown below... Happy Holidays!

December 18, 2021

Nas "Stillmatic" (December 18th, 2001)

In the early '90s there were rumors of a young man who could battle hip-hop legend Rakim. No one really paid attention to this foolishness, as Rakim was the best. Eyebrows were raised, however, when an eighth-grade dropout by the name of Nasir Jones made his debut on Main Source's 1991 "Live at the Barbecue." MC Serch of 3rd Bass approached Jones about contributing to the Zebrahead soundtrack. Jones submitted the explosive "Halftime" ... More folks began to see the Rakim comparison, and when Jones, the son of Jazz musician Olu Dara, dropped his debut, Illmatic, in '94, New York's hip-hop community championed him as the second coming. Nas had arrived. The teenager--who divided his time between street hustling and reading books on African culture and Western civilization, lessons from the Five Percent Nation, scriptures from the Koran and chapters from the Bible--became the talk of the hip-hop community. On his second album, It Was Written, Nas' remarkable writing skills and impressive lyrical delivery were complemented by tracks produced by Dr. Dre, Havoc, The Trackmasters and L.E.S. This helped to expand Nas' reach beyond New York. In 1999 I Am and Nastradamus sold well and contained some notable hits like "Hate Me Now," "Nas Is Like" and "Nastradamus," but many felt that Nas had strayed from his Queensbridge Project roots...

Nas then joined a group called The Firm, which consisted of fellow rappers Foxy Brown, Nature and AZ. This project looked better on billboards than it sounded on CD, tape or vinyl. His group, QB's Finest, produced a self-titled album that yielded one hit, the X-Rated "Oochie Wally." In 2001 Nas presented the modernized version of Illmatic. Stillmatic is the genius of Illmatic updated for a new century. This project is a collection of messages focusing on political awareness, creative and personal tensions and parenthood. The first single, "Got UR Self A..." borrows A3's "Woke Up This Morning" chorus as a prelude while the observant and loquacious MC celebrates his own accomplishments and reintroduces himself to masses. The blatant and audacious "Ether" targets rapper Jay-Z, as well as those who act friendly toward Nas but behave deceitfully behind his back. The second single, "One Mic," is an inciting, enlightening and descriptive look inside the life of Nas. He simply asks to share his message with the world, and this mesmerizing drama exudes passion, humility, consciousness and determination. Like an active volcano, "One Mic" begins with a slow ooze of rhyme and builds to an eruption of heated expression and emotion. Nas is not a rapper, he's a lyricist. His lyrics contain substance, important messages, food for thought. He's not in the game for the bling-bling; the shine of jewelry doesn't matter to him. His messages are luminescent enough to brighten a black hole. - April, 2002. Is Stillmatic a classic album? It isn't to me, so... convince me!

December 17, 2021

Ghostface Killah Drops 2 New Freestyles...

Ghostface Killah — who celebrated the 25th anniversary of his debut album Ironman, and is in the middle of his 3 Chambers Tour alongside GZA and Raekwon — has dropped a pair of freestyles: “I Got Soul” and “Bob James.” “I Got Soul” is his take on fellow legends Eric B & Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul,” while “Bob James” — with Raekwon — has the two revisiting the track (“Nautilus”) RZA sampled for “Daytona 500.” Meanwhile, the “artwork” is a sly nod to the disks of beats RZA would label for the Clan during their early days (which was referenced in their Wu-Tang: An American Saga series). This could serve as a precursor to Ghost’s Supreme Clientele 2 project, which is reportedly arriving sometime in early 2022 and will be executive produced by Kanye West and Mike Dean. Clearly, I’m here for both of these tracks. Press play on the freestyles below. - via 2DBZ. I don't have much faith in Kanye West these days, but I'm always here for new GFK. Enjoy the freestyles....

December 16, 2021

Chino XL "Built To Last" (Mix)

France's Built to Last radio continues its movement of paying tribute to some of the best producers, MCs and record labels of all-time. For their latest offering, they pay homage to one of the illest pens and lyricists in the entire game, Chino XL. Hailing from East Orange, NJ, Chino released his debut album, Here to Save You All, in 1996 and has since had plenty of now famous appearances on DJ Sway and Tech's morning radio show called "The Wakeup Show," as well as the fire 2LP Ricanstruction and 2020's Chino vs Balt. His bio shares, "He's been called the king of metaphors and for good reason, everyone that likes their rhymes laden with punch lines should definitely check him out." I can also say --on a personal note-- I consider him one of the few stand-up guys in this industry. It's always pleasure connecting with him at shows and online... I highly recommend tapping in with his social media and staying connected. As always, dig into the archives for more from Chino XL and a ton of earlier tribute mixes from Corrado and the crew over at Built to Last in France...

December 15, 2021

Dr. Dre "The Chronic" (December 15, 1992)

Whether as an artist, or record company founder, Dr. Dre has become one of the most successful figures on the music scene today. His debut solo album, The Chronic (Death Row) has reached the triple platinum mark, selling more than three-and-a-half million copies. Released in December 1992, The Chronic shot to the top of the Billboard Charts - #1 R&B, #1 Rap and #2 Pop. It became one of the best-selling rap albums in history. The album's singles included "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang" (certified platinum, #1 R&B, #1 Rap, #2 Pop) and "Dre Day" (also Top 5 across the charts). Dre won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for yet another single, "Let Me Ride"; American Music Awards as both Favorite Artist and Favorite New Artist; and Billboard Music Awards for Debut Artist of the Year, Top R&B Artist and for Top R&B Album Artist. Besides his own work, Dre also produced the 1993 debut album from Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle (Death Row), which became the first debut album in chart history to enter at #1 on the pop side (also reaching #1 on the R&B and Rap charts). That album too has gone beyond triple platinum and is now approaching four million copies sold. Doggystyle was honored by NARM as the Best-Selling Rap Recording of the Year. Snoop (who was featured with Dre on his solo singles and "Deep Cover", the #1 rap single from the Deep Cover (Solar Records) soundtrack) is one of the artists on Death Row Records, the label co-founded by Dre (who is president of the company), and his manager Suge Knight. Other inmates include Tha Dogg Pound (Dat N!gga Daz, Kurupt), Nate Dogg, The Lady of Rage and Jewell.... Today Dr. Dre is considered by many to be the most creative producer in music -- whether rap, hip-hop, R&B, or pop. - Press Kit, 1994. The West was a real problem and Dre lead the way with The Chronic in '92..

Below are just a couple pieces of random promo...

December 14, 2021

El Maryacho "That's Soul III" (Instrumental Album)

El Maryacho returns with the third installment in his instrumental series, That's Soul. Hailing from Switzerland, the producer has released quality music from everything I've checked out so far. I said I didn't know much about him in a previous post -- if I remember correctly -- and time has passed and I still don't much, except that these soulful instrumentals KNOCK. There's also a project with Nowaah the Flood (Harbingers of Death) and Planet Asia (Jackpot EP) in the archives that I suggest checking out after That's Soul 3 bleeds through your speakers. Dig into his latest offering below...

December 13, 2021

J.Period "The Live Mixtape: Blastmaster Edition" (MJB Edition)

Here's another phenomenal mix that flew beneath my radar... the extremely talented and highly prolific J.PERIOD dropped this mixtape to Mary J. Blige as a tribute to the Queen of Hip-Hop soul! Recorded live in New York, the mix cycles through many of the Queen's most phenomenal records alongside artists like Method Man, The Notorious B.I.G., Smif-N-Wessun, Craig Mack, Grand Puba, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Jadakiss, Luther Vandross, DMX, Nas and that's not to take a drop away from her non-collaborative work which sets the standard for R&B. I don't post a whole lot of R&B releases, but you know I'll tap into the classic 90s R&B time and time again, especially the mix tapes. A proper tribute with various remixes, reworks and more! You know how he does it, listen below...

December 12, 2021

Rest In Peace, Phase 2 (December 12, 2019)

Phase 2, who in the early 1970s was one of the most prolific, inventive and emulated New York graffiti writers, and who later produced early hip-hop’s most innovative fliers, died on Dec. 12 (2019) at a nursing and rehabilitation center in the Bronx. He was 64. The cause was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, his longtime friend David Schmidlapp said. In the South Bronx at the dawn of the 1970s, all the creative components that would coalesce into what became widely known as hip-hop were beginning to take shape. At the center of them all was Phase 2, an intuitive, disruptive talent who first made his mark as a writer of graffiti — although he hated the term... Phase 2 was born Michael Lawrence Marrow on Aug. 2, 1955, in Manhattan. He was raised primarily in the Bronx, in the Forest Houses projects, and attended DeWitt Clinton High School, which in the early 1970s was rapidly becoming a graffiti hotbed. Conveniently, it was across the street from a Transit Authority storage yard; subway cars were the preferred canvas of the day. He began writing graffiti in October 1971, inspired by a cousin, who went by the name Lee 163d. The form was evolving rapidly, with each day delivering a fresh set of artworks on train lines across the city. Phase 2 was best known as the pioneer of softies — bubble-style letters that helped usher graffiti away from simple tags and toward full-fledged artworks. He painted a variety of substyles of these letters, with a name for each: “squish luscious,” “phasemagorical phantastic” and so on. Many innovations that became commonplace, like loops and arrows, are credited to Phase 2. 

“His lettering constantly changed; you never saw his tag repeat itself. He was constantly trying to destroy himself, destroying his previous style,” said Hugo Martinez, who formed the United Graffiti Artists collective, of which Phase 2 was a member, in 1972... Phase 2 enjoyed the thrill of writing on subway cars; “impact expressionism,” he called it. In an interview with Wax Poetics magazine, he recalled writing a poem to a police officer on the vandal squad who had just missed arresting him: “If you only knew/the real Phase 2/the super sleuth/who’s still on the loose.” By the beginning of 1975, he had largely given up subway graffiti, moving his work onto paper and canvas or into sculpture. And he continued to develop new styles, sometimes passing them off to his fellow writers. Crucially, he rejected the word graffiti — “the G-word,” he called it. He found it denigrating and preferred terms like style writing. “It’s like calling a meteor a pebble,” he told Raw Vision magazine in 1997. “I’m absorbing and devouring language in its coexisting state and creating something else with it.” He was also a sometime D.J., as well as a dancer and a founder of the New York City Breakers crew. And he rapped: In the late 1970s, Phase 2 was a member of a crew called the Wizards, and in 1982 he released a pair of singles, “The Roxy” and “Beach Boy.” Charlie Ahearn, the director of the 1983 film “Wild Style,” has said that Phase 2 was the basis for the film’s main character, Phade (played by Fab 5 Freddy). Phase 2 wasn’t formally involved with the film, but he was also a consultant on the 1984 hip-hop movie “Beat Street.” Con't below... + some early flyers...

In the late 1970s, Phase 2 began applying his artistic gifts to a different medium: party fliers. His designs, laid out by hand, were modern, orderly and dense; he called the style “funky nous deco.” ... He designed hundreds of them — for Grandmaster Flash’s early D.J. gigs, for a variety of uptown events and, later, for the Friday night parties at the Roxy, where uptown and downtown were commingling, and where he would also do live painting.... He designed the first logo for the Tuff City record label and the fliers for the New York City Rap Tour, which in 1982 took a cadre of rappers, dancers and artists across the Atlantic to England and France, the first real exporting of New York hip-hop culture.... And while Phase 2 prized his anonymity — he rarely posed for photos, and for decades he publicly used an alias, Lonny Wood, rather than his birth name — he was an inveterate letter writer, replying to correspondence from young graffiti artists. His survivors include his mother, a sister, five children and seven grandchildren. From the 1990s forward, Phase 2 brought his collage artwork to collaborations with the skate brand Supreme and designed album covers for the Rawkus and Definitive Jux labels. He continued to make art, selling privately and occasionally in galleries, including works on paper and robot-style sculptures influenced by his love of Japanese animation. At his death he had been in the early stages of a documentary project with Mr. Grey and a book about his fliers with the hip-hop historian Pete Nice. But he was primarily concerned with preserving what he deemed to be the correct and proper history of aerosol art... - NYT (12/20/19). 

December 11, 2021

Happy Born Day, Mos Def! (Playlist)

Regarded as one of hip-hop's most introspective and insightful artists, Mos Def has shaped a career that transcends music genres and artistic medium. Taking a cue from the Afrocentric stylings of the Native Tongues crew, which included De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest and more, Mos Def has emerged as one of the more conscientious voices of new school hip-hop, alongside the likes of Common, Outkast, Goodie Mob and The Roots, to name just a few. Mos Def was born in Brooklyn, New York City... a child of hip-hop's Golden Era, he spent his childhood imbedded in the culture surrounding him as well as absorbing knowledge from across the artistic spectrum. With the release of "Universal Magnetic" (1996) Mos became an underground favorite in the hip hop world, leading to his legendary collaboration with Talib Kweli. The two formed Black Star whose debut album, Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star, would become one of the most critically acclaimed hip-hop albums. Mos followed that release with his 1999 solo debut, Black On Both Sides, which was certified gold and credited by critics as bringing hip-hop back to its soapbox roots. As with his music, Mos has demonstrated insight and passion with his acting career, appearing in numerous films, including 2002's romantic comedy Brown Sugar, for which he received an NAACP Image Award nomination; 16 BlocksThe Italian Job, Next Day Air, Cadillac Records, Be Kind Rewind, and more. I also heavily enjoyed his 2009 album, The Ecstatic and to some degree The New Danger and True Magic. Changing his name to Yasiin Bey, and arguably falling below the radar in some respects, musically, the man still embodies the same level of integrity and rhyme skills he always did, and we're just eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the life of one of the best lyricists in all of hip-hop. Is there a more conscious, lyrically-minded MC in hip-hop? Peep the playlist to be reminded...

Happy Born Day, Might Mos Def!

December 10, 2021

Russ "Chomp 2" (Album Stream)

I'm guessing long-time readers wouldn't anticipate a post about Russ on this page... but that's a bit short-sighted, don't ya think? Talent comes from all angles and with the right ingredients, even a mainstream act can pay tribute to the underground and the culture that gave him a platform. Enter Russ... who bankrolled his own project and created an underground artist's wet dream of producers and MCs. A quick look showcases features from Ransom, Jay Electronica, Papoose, Westside Gunn, Styles P, Jadakiss, Snoop Dogg, Big K.R.I.T., Joey Bada$$, Big Sean, Ghostface Killah, Conway the Machine, CyHi The Prynce, Lloyd Banks and Mozzy. It also features production from DJ Premier, Hitboy, The Alchemist, Hi-Tek, Boi-1da, Jake One, 9th Wonder, Statik Selektah and Bink! Yikes... that's how you do it. Some will say he threw money at these artists to appear, but I don't see it that way, and I do believe he held his own for most of the project, even if his particular brand of hip-hop is generally not my flavor. I also dig his middle-finger-to-the-industry approach. Favorite track? Naturally the DJ Premier cut, "Free," which has a DOPE verse from K.R.I.T. and also features Snoop... 

December 09, 2021

DJ Premier "So Wassup?" ("ALONGWAYTOGO" Episode, Video)

Gang Starr had already done several soundtracks, so the opportunity to get on 1993's Poetic Justice by John Singleton, starring Janet Jackson and the late 2Pac, was a no brainer. The theme of travel and journey in the mail truck plays a big role in the movie, so the concept for "Alongwaytogo" was born, and named by Guru. DJ Premier explains that Guru was extremely drunk that day and if you listen back, he feels you can hear the unusual tone and one-take style that was displayed on the record. He liked it, so they didn't change it, but ultimately John Singleton didn't feel it was the right fit the movie (Premo naturally disagrees, lol). Poetic Justice is even mentioned in the song, so Guru was hurt that it wasn't included on the soundtrack. Gang Starr was recording the album, "Hard To Earn," at the same time and nearing the end, so they included it on the LP. A salute to the floppy disc, DJ Premier hasn't disappointed in music and not in this So Wassup? video series, dig it...

December 08, 2021

Donnie Propa "Straight From The Crate Cave" (Large Pro Edition)

Salute to the UK homie, Donnie Propa. Completely my bad, this mixtape drop went entirely below my radar... until now! Released in May of this year -- ahead of The Beatnuts tape I already posted -- Donnie Propa released the Large Professor installment of his phenomenal mixtape series, Straight From The Crate Cave. Paying tribute to the legendary Queens producer, you'll hear solo joints and various production credits on numerous classic tracks. I've said it before and I'll proudly say it again, you won't find many artists/people who embody the essence of what Hip-Hop is more than the Xtra P. This man has never wavered; has consistently been a dot connector for some of the biggest artists in hip-hop and still holds his head in the city that birthed his career. A true stand-up guy and an ever-present talent in the hip-hop community. Props once again to Donnie Propa, for giving this man his flowers. Check out the mix below, and tap in the archives for more of his work...

December 07, 2021

Cam'Ron "Purple Haze" (December 7, 2004)

Cam'Ron is definitely polarizing: middle ground melts away with the mention of his name. As with most men who wear pastels, Cam is easy to love and just as easy to hate. While his 2002 Roc-A-Fella debut, Come Home With Me, and subsequent Diplomats double-disc have produced a cult-like following of Dipset devotees, his crass subject matter and simplistic flow have consistently frustrated critics who value rap complexity over lyrical slick talk. So with his fourth solo album, Purple Haze, Cam continues to draw his pink and purple line in the sand. Aside from his unwillingness to explore uncharted thematic territory-money, drugs, and freaky tales dominate the Purple world-Cam'Ron's glossy rap is often buried by the production.... But his cocksure attitude wins in the end. On "More Gangsta Music," he trades verses with Juelz Santana over a head-banging Heatmakerz bounce that stomps the energy out of the rowdy original, "Dipset Anthem." The N.W.A.-sampled "Dope Man" chases Cam and Jim Jones as they spit their criminology over aggravated snares and screeching synths. Cam's nonsensical wordplay complements the ridiculously dramatic crooning of his name on "Killa Cam"; "You one happy scrappy," he says, "I got Pataki at me / Bitches say I'm tacky, daddy / Range look like laffy taffy." It's the arrogance of it all, the superinflated confidence, the unwavering belief in self that inspires the most excessive display of purple passion this side of Price. And while you wade through the Purple Haze to find meaning in the simple things, Cam will continue to add color to his coarse style of rap until you clearly see things his way. - Vibe (01/05).

The full review in Vibe is below, as well as original promo...

December 06, 2021

Black Sheep "Non-Fiction" (December 6, 1994)

....So, now it's Non-Fiction--another way of portraying what is "real," just in a more creatively flexible way. The Sheep's Non-Fiction is novel in that Dres says what others couldn't think to say. Non-Fiction also has a reality that may shock you: Lawnge gets on the mic.... If Lawnge can serve some lyrical purpose, then it could perhaps be forcing fools to appreciate Dres' resourcefulness and language manipulation. In "Autobiographical," Dres talks of his personal Hip Hop gestation and growth--but in a style that requires some ear reading. On "Peace to the N!ggas," Dres races past a plodding bass line that is reminiscent of "Similak's" homogenized mix. "N!ggas got reprimanded, remanded and then branded / I delve into myself to draw the strength to overstand it." There's certainly both a familial and communal consciousness that is nicely combined with MC combat. On "Do Your Thing": "Time zone / I groans for my sanity I told ya's / I woke up this morning and the world was on my shoulders / They say I'm destined to repeat / We'll see / I fall and rise / So when you look up to my son / You'll see me in his eyes." Furthermore, only Dres can flow "I clean up after my son 'cause that's my duty (dooty)" and sound fly on the shit. And, believe it or not, there's only two cuts about boning. Later, the Legion shows up on "We Boys." Here, Dres flows like a verbally feral Errol Flynn--spryly evading wackness with poetic parries.... With regard to most of the boardwork, Black Sheep sound like Black Sheep--needing, tweaky horns and strange bass lines that were charismatic on their vanguard debut. But some of the tracks are sheepish, shying away from the duo's hallmark edge and just keeping matters on the regular. So please treat this like a record and not some phantasmagorical myth. 'Cause it's rare to see such a keen grasp of the word go hand-in-hand with a skillfully firm grasp on the mic. And that's blessed within D-r-e-s. - Rap Pages (12/94).

The full review and backside of their promotional postcard are below...

December 05, 2021

Nature "For All Season" (2000 + HBD, Nature!)

I've already posted the press kit for Nature's gem of an album, For All Seasons, as well as his original Next feature in Vibe, and two volumes of the Queens Classics mixtape series. But, today -- on Nature's born day -- I'm diggin' back, once again, to 2000's For All Seasons. I remember I was traveling from Queens on the LIRR (Woodside line - after 2 buses) out to Nassau, Long Island to college - I'd get off at Hempstead and take the bus or walk from the Westbury line, which was a HIKE! I specifically remember packing Nature's For All Seasons and LL Cool J's G.O.A.T., which I think were released about a week apart, and I ran those projects (among others) that fall semester of college traveling back and forth. Nature was 50 Cent before 50 Cent, yet he obviously never reached the highest of heights that 50 did. He came up in the mixtape scene, had the industry ablaze with crazy records, freestyles; a ton of classic features and so on, landing him a solo deal to release the long-awaited album on Columbia Records (home of Nas). My favorite joints off the album were "Man's World," "We Ain't Friends," "The Ultimate High" with Nas, "Young Love", "Nature's Shine" and "I Don't Give a Fuck" - oh, and "Young Love," too. It had joints, perhaps not the critically acclaimed release, but it did have joints! The Queens Classics mixes fill in all the gaps, minus "If I Ain't a Thug," which I'm still trying to get my hands on! Critics labeled the album as an uninspired effort that lacked hooks and content-driven lyrics, but like today, I still go back to it from time to time. If you were outside -- especially in Queens -- you remember what a threat Nature was on a track in that timeframe. So, Happy Born Day, Nature! Dig back in For All Seasons, streaming below...

Don't forget to dig into the archives for more...

December 04, 2021

DJ Break "96 'Til Infinity" (Tribute to Jay-Z, HBD!)

Below is a chronological tribute mix to Jay-Z by DJ Break entitled, 96 'Til Infinity. Originally released in January 2011, DJ Break shares: "From track 1 of Reasonable Doubt to the last track of Blueprint 3, DJ Break seamlessly slams through every song in order of tracklisting from Jay-Z's eleven solo studio albums. This is a timeless mix that conceptually has never been done for any artist in history." The mix only lasts about 15 minutes, so it might feel a bit rushed and not cover the tracks you were looking for, but in honor of Shawn Carter's born day today, I figured I'd share it for those who haven't had a chance to peep the mix yet. I'm curious what'll happen when fans/other artists start throwing Jay-Z's name around to do a Verzuz? Does Kanye step up? Drake? Do they try to sell a Jay-Z vs. Nas re-battle? It's debatable if anyone in the history of hip-hop could hit that stage and make an impact as great as Jay has done. People say Busta's live energy makes him a strong force, but I just don't think it's enough to get him a W. That said, Jay would never do it anyway, so it's just a fan argument for the f#ck of it. What's next? Listen to the Hov mini-mix below...

December 04, 2021

Dazy Lyn "Chills" (Prod. by Stan Da Man, Video)

I'm here because of the OG, DJ Premier... Premo was running this track "Chills" by Dazy Lyn but I was unfamiliar with her music at the time. He was cutting it up and I could hear she was really going on the record plus the beat by Stan Da Man was fresh... so I had to dig in for a further look. What I found? Not a whole lot, which is strange in the social media era, but there's still something about getting put on to new artists that's fresh and exciting. Watching an artist develop, seeing who else is up on them already ( long have I been sleeping on this artist?), putting other people on as well, etc. I don't post a lot of loosies here, but when I do, I highly recommend you check them out. So, this is "Chills" from Dazy Lyn, reppin' out of the West Coast, but you definitely get a rugged East Coast flavor in her bars and delivery. She's not only an MC, but a 'specialized' hairstylist per her bio. Also sounds like she's overcome a lot in her life; I think she's one to watch...

December 03, 2021

Swank & King Draft "Long Story Short" (Album Stream)

Durham-based duo Swank and King Draft have released their sophomore album Long Story Short. Released via Jamla Records, super-producer 9th Wonder’s independent record label, the album is Swank and Draft’s first full-length project since their pre-pandemic 2019 studio debut TwoFive 2 Jersey: The Sequel. Before signing to Jamla, the two lyricists were the sole voices heard on 9th Wonder’s 2018 beat tape Zion III, contributing verses for five records on the 41-track project. That same year, Swank and Draft also appeared on 9th’s Jamala Is The Squad II compilation album. Between those efforts and the duo’s original TwoFive To Jersey mixtape in 2019, which featured multiple Jamla artists despite there being no official affiliation at the time, the synergy between the rappers and the label has often produced music that sounds more intentional than that of the average grab-and-go signings of today’s current industry. And while The Sequel represented the continuation of something rare shared between Swank, Draft, and Jamla, Long Story Short was created with the spirit of relatability. “Swank and Draft’s story is more common that we think,” 9th Wonder tells VIBE... “There’s a ton of young brothers that either grew up in the hood, [have] extended family from the hood, or know enough about the hood to speak on it.” - via Vibe. Solid release... see if you can relate, listen to Swank & King Draft's Long Story Short, streaming below...

December 02, 2021

Happy Born Day, Treach! (R.I.P. Bushwick Bill)

Today in 1970 in “Illtown” New Jersey, the king of “OPP”, better known as Treach, was born. Treach is the frontman for the New Jersey rap collective Naughty By Nature. Born Anthony Criss in East Orange, New Jersey, Treach got his musical start in his hometown. He, Vin Rock, and DJ Kay Gee came together as the group New Style and released an album called Independent Leaders in 1989. Treach and Naughty by Nature saw the majority of their success with their 1991 single “O.P.P”. This song featured a sample from The Jackson 5’s “ABC” and debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200 chart making it one of the most popular crossover songs in rap history. The success of this single opened the doors for Treach to venture into other elements of Hip Hop culture in the 90s. Starting with a guest appearance in the 1992 cult classic Juice, Treach began the next wave of his career as an actor. His biggest role came in 194 when he starred as “A-1” in Jason’s Lyric. Looking back at his career, Treach was certainly a top tier lyricist, who also crafted hit records! His pen was enlisted for plenty of groups on the come up, making him one of the greatest ghostwriters of our generation. In the words of my brother, Dart Adams: "Treach achieved LEGENDARY ghostwriter status when he wrote "Jump" for Kriss Kross then turned around and wrote Da Youngstas track "Crewz Pop" DISSING Kriss Kross while referencing the song he wrote for them. Hall Of Fame status." Amen. It's no wonder Eminem lists him as one of his early influences and why he's still so revered to this day - among other rappers. The average listener, however, might need to run back through the catalog and do some more research. On his born day, I intended to make a playlist of his joints, but ended up just watching him and Bushwick Bill fight backstage on their "I Love the 90s" tour - this is before he ended up pushing Bushwick Bill off stage... Rest In Peace, Bushwick Bill, who does pull a sneaky leg trip to at least make it entertaining. Check out the full clip below... and I'll update this post with a playlist eventually... if I don't forget. Who could NBN battle in a Verzuz??

December 01, 2021

Remedy "Remedy Meets Wu-Tang" (Album Stream)

Remedy keeps his deep-rooted ties with the Wu-Tang with his new album, aptly titled Remedy Meets Wu-Tang. Produced by himself along with Danny Caiazzo, the Staten Island veteran releases 14 songs which is lead by his collaboration by Inspectah Deck “Death Defying“, “The Pulpit” which features appearances by Ghostace Killah, Capadonna, and Conway The Machine, and the most recent posse cut “Crazy 8’s” featuring Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Solomon Childs, and StreetLife. The project also includes collaborations from the RZA and Shyheim. - via RapRadar. The Wu MCs sound pretty sharp on this release, give it a listen below...