February 24, 2021

Take It Personal Podcast "Tribute To D&D Studios Episode"

Whether you're an 80s baby or a 90s baby, this episode is for you. Whether you grew up on the Fat Boys or the Lost Boyz, this tribute is for you. D&D Studios is the most important studio in hip-hop history. Period. It's responsible for countless anthems such as Danger, Whutcha Want, Who Got Da Props, Ain't No N!gga, Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimas & Benz, Ante Up and DWYCK to name a few. It's responsible for many classic albums like Illmatic, Ready To Die, Enta Da Stage, Livin' Proof, The Sun Rises In the East and Return of the Boom-Bap. Whether it was produced by DJ Premier, Da Beatminerz, DJ Muggs or mixed by Eddie Sancho or Norty Cotto, the D&D stamp was official. Doug Grama and David Lotwin created hip-hop mecca. A place where stars were born and GOATs were made. Today, we celebrate D&D Studios and we're joined by 1-half of the D's, Mr. David Lotwin. We go behind the scenes, hear the stories, re-live the classics and play all your favorite D&D cuts. We also have special guests stopping by to share stories like DJ Premier, Russell Peters, Jeru The Damaja, Mark The 45 King and Craig-G. You'll hear what it was like when DJ Premier was in the studio creating classic after classic. You'll hear stories about Biggie and how Puffy went ballistic after finding a gun while recording there. You'll get to hear what it was like recording Enta Da Stage, Return of the Boom-Bap, Illmatic and other classics. You'll hear about pre-fame Jay-Z being denied at the door because there were too many people inside the studio at the time. You'll hear about the late, great Big L, Sean P, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Guru. On episode 81, we celebrate hip-hop. We celebrate history. We celebrate D&D Studios. - Take It Personal. Great episode! Listen up...

R.I.P. D&D Studios...

February 23, 2021

Biz Markie "Press Kit" (1988)

Biz Markie is hot! His vocal delivery is different and unusual. His lyrics are enjoyable, funny, and occasionally outrageous. He loves an audience and will do anything to please them. This shows in his lyrics, "When it comes to partying I'm a nymphomaniac." Known as the "Inhuman Orchestra," Markie is an expert human beat box virtuoso, literally making the music with his mouth. He has been using his body as an instrument since he was a kid, doing the hambone on the streets of Harlem, NY. In addition to being a helluva hamboner, Biz Markie is also quite adept at the lost Southern art of "beating the spoons." Born Marcel Hall in Harlem (April 8, 1964), Biz Markie seems to be the creation of a mad B-movie scientist, with a weird sense of genetics and humor. It is actually quite easy imagining George Clinton as Dr. Funkenstein making up Biz Markie in his electro-funk laboratory aboard the Mothership. He takes elements of the street urchin, the Artful Dodger, from Dickens' Oliver Twist, and mixes them with the old limey medicine show tradition and the satchelmouthed tomfoolery of Louis Armstrong. The good Doctor then gives his creation the gift of rap gab, the ability to rock the house with rhythmic rhymes over a funky beat. Combine all this with the experience of living in the streets on his own for a number of years, and you have the Biz Markie...

Biz worked the rap circuit for a couple of years, playing the Roxy, the Fun House, and other venues; sharing the bill with Doug E. Fresh, Dana Dane, Fresh 3, Lovebug Starsky, and other rap contenders. But his big break came when he ran into producer Marley Marl in a hallway in the Queensbridge Projects in 1995. Marl has a studio in the Queens housing projects, out of which has come Roxanne Shante's classic "Roxanne's Revenge" and other rap hits. According to Biz, "Marley and I met up and went into his studio and did some stuff." This stuff included some of the hippest, freshest rap records to come out in a long time. With Marley Marl at the production helm, Biz Markie signed with Len Fichtelberg's Prism Records and brought out a number of wonderful recordings that have further established him as something of a cult hero among the hip-hop hardcore. The success of tunes like "Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz," "Nobody Beats The Biz" and "Pickin' Boogers," prompted Fichtelberg to go into partnership with Biz's manager, Tyrone Williams, and launch Cold Chillin' Records as an exclusive rap label, with Marley Marl producing all of the releases by the likes of Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, T.J. Swan, and Kool G Rap, and other Cold Chillin' artists. Future product by Biz Markie on Cold Chillin' promises to build on his reputation as one of the newest and most innovative rap artists on the scene today. - Press Kit, 01/88.  Biz Markie's debut album, Goin' Off, was released on this day in 1988. It features the tracks "Pickin' Boogers," "Biz Is Goin' Off," "Vapors," "Make The Music With Your Mouth Biz," "Nobody Beats the Biz" and "This Is Something For The Radio," among others. While the album isn't available to stream through Spotify, the compilation, "Biz's Baddest Beats" is, which features all the singles from the album. Ironically, I borrowed this album from the Tower Records in the Village back in the day, lol. I remember it like it was yesterday. The masterful art-piece below is by TKO Sato. Much respect, Biz!

February 23, 2021

Stretch & Bobbito "February 23, 1995" (Big L & Jay-Z Freestyle)

Many came before them, but no show continued to entertain like Stretch & Bobbito. With raw underground flavor, guest freestyle MCs, and gut-busting humor, they controlled college radio and broke some of the most impactful artists of our generation. "Fuck Seinfeld, we all know who runs things on Thursday nights from sundown to sunup," said The Source in '98. Today marks 26 years since Big L and Jay-Z blessed the mic with their infamous freestyle session. I'm sure it was less remarkable to Stretch & Bobbito at the time, but it is now legendary as new generations of fans get hip to the archives of their shows, and as Jay-Z became arguably the greatest MC in hip-hop. Not to mention the untimely death of one of Harlem's greatest lyricists, Big L. Lines like, "The last thing you want with Big L is a fair one / 'Cause in a street brawl I strike men like lightnin' / You seen what happened in my last fight, friend? Aight then," from L and "Me and L put rhythm on the map, so give him his dap / And me, I just take mine / Gimme those, gimme this, gimme that—fuck that!" from Jay-Z, set the mood for the night. Jay-Z was virtually unknown and L's debut album Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous would drop a month later. Below is the full freestyle from the show (the extended 10-minute version), and below it is the second half of the show (2.5 hours long), which features Funkdoobiest, JuJu, and Gangsta Boogie. Dig into it below, and if you haven't already, hit up the archives for Stretch & Bobbito's recent release, "Freestyle EP," which includes a condensed version of the freestyle, as well as other rare 90s freestyle gems. Rest In Peace, Big L.

February 22, 2021

David Begun "The Phartribe" (Mixtape)

New Hampshire's David Begun returns with another ill remix project. In his own words, "This latest mashup is a combination of two of the greatest hip-hop groups of the 90's, combining the instrumentals from The Pharcyde with the lyrics of A Tribe Called Quest. In an ode to the brilliant Bizarre Tribe album by Amerigo Gazaway, The PharTribe creates the reverse of what he did with that creation and utilizes the jazzy musical backgrounds created by J-Swift and LA Jay to provide the backdrop for Q-Tip and Phife (RIP) to lay down their back and forth poetry." Dig into it below...

February 21, 2021

DJ Quik "Safe & Sound" (February 21, 1995)

In 1990 he stepped on the scene and let you know his name--DJ Quik. In 1992, he returned to let you know he was Way 2 Fonky. Now it's 1995, and he's back to let everybody know he's Safe & Sound. One main ingredient attributing to Quik's new found security: funk. In fact, the music found here may be more appropriate on an 8-track than a CD. Quik opens up with a smooth intro and immediately blazes through "Get At Me," where he takes time out to dis an ex-comrad who betta have his money (think about it!). The quality builds throughout as Quik proceeds with his original formula: fonkay live music with lyrics that most can relate to (and don't repeatedly refer to the hard world of the streets). One track the players and pimps may want to direct their attention to is "Don't You Eat It," which warns Quik's male listeners about the dangers of "eating the coochie." Other cuts to check for are "Somethin' For The Mood" and "Summer Breeze," which impress with their coolness. "Tha Ho In You" is another highlight, as Quik's homies 2nd II None, Hi-C and Player Ham join him, along with Sexy Leroy and the Chocolate Lovelites. Another notable that may shock some is "Quik's Groove III," a butter smoove instrumental that fuses jazz and funk in the best way. For Quik's next project he could just put out a Quik's Groove CD and many would be satisfied as he proves he's a master of instrumental production. The album's only deflatable moment comes near the end as Quik relinquishes control and is joined on the mic for the last few tracks by some guest MC's who only detract from the efforts ("Sucka Free" and "Keep Tha 'P' In It"). The cuts add nothing but time to the album and without them, this album would be a near classic. Pound for pound, Quik's latest is definite listening satisfaction. The funk is superior to what is currently cluttering the market because of its cool laidback sound that is distinguishable from anything currently out. And lyrically speaking, Quik is on point, speaking in a language everyone can understand, as he tells stories that are enhanced by his high-pitched crystal clear voice that paints quality visuals for the mental. If heads can appreciate the funk--real funk--this one can't be passed up as it is truly a Safe & Sound investment. - The Source (4 Mics, 1995). Revisit Safe & Sound below... Is it a classic?

Peace to my man, Will, who put me on to this album at the time.

February 21, 2021

D.I.T.C. "Next" Feature in Vibe (December, 1999 + Playlist)

For close to 10 years, D.I.T.C. members Show, his longtime partner, A.G. (short for Andre the Giant), Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, Diamond, Buckwild (all of whom hail from the Bronx, NY), Brooklyn's O.C., and the recently murdered Harlem rhyme slinger supreme, Big L, have individually garnered accolades for their superior lyrical and/or production gifts. But besides Fat Joe's gold-selling Don Cartagena (Atlantic, 1998), street acclaim hasn't translated into record sales. "Not [achieving] what we were supposed to has taught us to stay on top of our business," blasts A.G. His man Show claims that it was a lack of organization and resources on the part of labels like Wild Pitch, Chemistry, and Pay Day that hindered D.I.T.C.'s individual success. "We felt it would make a greater impact if all of us put our ideas together, and everybody came with their different styles," Show says. And he tells no lies: Not since the rise of Staten Island, NY's Wu-Tang Clan has there been a collective that could come close to the Shao Lin Swordsman's concentrated can of whup ass. When it comes to the stock market of beats, lyrics, and flow, D.I.T.C. stand taller than the World Trade Center's twin towers. Just peep songs like the felicitous, guitar-guided "Foundation" and the bouncy, video-game-effects-bleeping, Big L-fronted "Thick." Yet as D.I.T.C. vie to become hip hop's first family, things are a little bittersweet. "I wish he were still around," says Show of his fallen compadre. "He's on most of the album, and I think about him every time I hear those songs." Fear not, Show, Big L is probably looking down, smiling, watching his crew's evolution from ghetto superstars to household names. - Next (Vibe, December 1999). No doubt, one of the greatest crews in Hip-Hop history! Below is a playlist with some of my favorite joints from the Diggin' in the Crates crew! I'll add more songs later.

February 20, 2021

Wojavelli "The Backpack Mix" (Presented by Built to Last)

Wojavelli is back with his latest mix, The Backpack Mix, presented by Built To Last out in France. For the mix, Wojavelli runs through tunes from Jemini The Gifted One, L-Swift, Company Flow, Saukrates, Finsta Bundy, J-Live, L The Head Toucha, Lo Down, Hi-Tech, Kool Keith, Natural Resource, Ghetto Concept, Killa Kidz, Juggaknots, Gravediggaz, World Renown and other rare mid-90s gems. Wise track selection and smooth transitions make for a dope mix and a fine listen! Dig into the archives for other mixes from Wojavelli and several dope Built to Last tribute mixes. Big ups to the homie, Corrado, who reached out recently - good connecting with him! Listen to The Backpack Mix below...

February 19, 2021

Drink Champs "DMX Episode" (Podcast, Video)

N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sit down with the legendary DMX for their latest episode of Drink Champs. X appeared on their show in its early stages back in 2016, so for his second appearance on Drink Champs they dig a bit deeper to uncover classic stories about touring, acting, and his legendary music catalog. It wouldn't be Drink Champs without tales of women, lots of liquor, and a story about Prince! DMX proudly announces his return to Def Jam, where he'll release his next album that features artists from the Griselda camp, Lil' Wayne, Alicia Keys, Bono (U2) and more. I've said it before but I'll say it once again, DMX is absolutely one of the people's champs and it's always good to see him walking in the light and out of the darkness. His sense of humor and his energy is infectious and DJ EFN and N.O.R.E. did their thing giving him his flowers on this episode. Because of that, I recommend checking out the video below, and, as always, hit the tags for additional content.

February 18, 2021

DJ Tahleim "Born Cipher (Hip-Hop In 1990)" (Vol.1-2)

DJ Tahleim takes us back to what he considers to be the best year in Hip-Hop, 1990. Both mixes in his Born Cipher (Hip-Hop In 1990) series are hosted by Grand Puba & Friends. As he tells it, "those friends being YZ, Phife Dawg (A Tribe Called Quest), Special Ed, Wise Intelligent (Poor Righteous Teachers), Brother J (X-Clan), Masta Ace & Sadat X (Brand Nubian). This mix is a dedication and celebration of the 30 year anniversary of songs and albums from this special year. The music was about balance, from Conscious lyrics to Gansta Rap - over 3 hours of quality Hip Hop between Vol.1 & Vol.2." No doubt, 1990 was an exceptional year! Hear both of these mixes from DJ Tahleim below...

February 18, 2021

"Hip-Hop Uncovered" (Documentary, Trailer)

Hip Hop Uncovered reveals the untold story of how America’s streets helped shape hip hop culture from an expression of survival and defiance into music’s most dominant genre. The documentary series takes a deep dive into the paradox of America’s criminalization of the genre and its fascination with the street culture that created it and still exists within it. From Big U, Deb Antney, Bimmy, Trick Trick, Haitan Jack and more, there are plenty of people that push the culture forward behind the scenes, and Hip Hop Uncovered finally gives us their stories, too. In some cases, this may be the first time you are seeing or hearing them on camera. There are also appearances from Snoop, Royce, Killer Mike, Steve Lobel, Glasses Malone, Xzibit, Ice-T, Mike Tyson, T.I., DMC, Dr. Dre and many more. Unfortunately, I can only offer the trailer below, but I'm just puttin' you on, so follow this series on FX/Hulu, it's worth your time. Docu-series is directed by Rashidi Natara Harper.

February 17, 2021

Cash Money Brothas "Classic Hip-Hop" (Mixtape, 1994)

Cash Money Brothas were a duo out of East Chicago who consisted of "Ponyboy" and "Kaoss". They started making mixtapes in their home when they were in their early 20's. Their "CMB Hip-Hop Megamix" tape series spanned 12 volumes in all and became quite popular in Gary, IN and Chicago, IL where you could find them being sold at local record stores that specialized in dance and hip-hop music. Sometimes they would sell the tapes themselves to fans for only $5 a pop. These tapes stood out at the time as they would use vinyl records to mix the songs, beats and rhythms and then add the finishing touches on the computer. "The mix itself takes three days to be perfected" said Ponyboy in a 1993 interview. Classic Hip-Hop was released in 1994, according to the artwork, and features tracks from Run DMC, EPMD, Eric. B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Slick Rick, and a whole lot more. Listen below, and I'll dig into the various volumes in their mix tape series real soon...

February 16, 2021

2Pac "Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z." (Feb. 16, 1993)

"Over the 12 months of 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah and more than a dozen other rap groups released albums that helped change the sound of America. That year one of the most influential rappers to ever hold a microphone released his breakout album. In January 1993, Tupac Shakur was 21 years old. He was about to drop his second album, and the first feature film he starred in had been a success. He was on the cusp of superstardom. Kevin Powell, a young journalist at Vibe magazine, was trying to talk his editors into taking a story. "I explained to them, 'Look, there's this young man who is the son of a Black Panther party member, Afeni Shakur. He already has one album out called 2pacalypse Now and he's in this really controversial hit film called Juice. He's someone we should really be paying attention to,'" Powell remembers. Vibe eventually paid attention; so did radio; and the album Tupac released in February, Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., landed three songs on the charts.... "[Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. was] a record you could party to, but then also had a sense of cultural resonance to it," John Singleton says. "That was that time — black people were pissed off but we wanted to party at the same time." 1993 was the year following the Los Angeles riots, which had been sparked by the Los Angeles Police Department's beating of Rodney King.... "Keep Ya Head Up" is a song about society's mistreatment of women. The other two hits from Tupac's album, "I Get Around" and "Holler If You Hear Me," are not. The songs seem to come from different places, but Powell says that's Tupac..."

"When you look at his album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., it's him," Powell says. "Half of it is very deep social political commentary and the other half is the kind of stuff that became associated with thug life and the kind of gangsterism that became associated with hip-hop." J. Cole says these two sides are what make Tupac more than just an actor playing a role. "Some people criticize him for being on such opposite ends of the spectrum. But I learned growing up — at least in my case, and I like to think for everyone else's case, whether they like to admit it or not — that's more human than anything." But Tupac and his second album also represent something bigger, says Powell... "There's no other singular figure in hip-hop like Tupac Shakur. He wasn't the greatest rapper in the world. He didn't necessarily have the best lyrics all the time, but there was not a figure that captured what hip-hop is and where it came from: working-class black American and Latino and West Indian people from New York City and black and Latino people from the West Coast. No one captured that the way he did." - NPR. As always, I recommend taking the time to revisit the project below. R.I.P., 2Pac!

February 15, 2021

Big L "Rhyme In Peace" (May 30, 1974 - February 15, 1999)

On February 15, Harlem hip-hop prospect Big L (Lamont Coleman) was shot and killed near his home on Lenox Ave. in Harlem, New York. Authorities say the cause of his death was 9 gun shot wounds to the head and chest. Police have no leads or motive in the slaying, but some sources close to L say it was a case of mistaken identity, while others say it was a case of animosity towards the aspiring artist. All in all, the untimely death of 24-year old L has sent shock waves throughout hip-hop's underground where he secured a spot as one of hip-hop's best kept secrets. "He was one of the few rappers who had the fame that he had and would still make his rounds throughout the neighborhood," says L's friend and publicist Neal Santos. A promo-only release of L's "Devil's Son," along with an ear-catching appearance on Lord Finesse's "Yes You May" (remix) earned L a deal on Columbia Records in 1994. There, he released his critically acclaimed debut, Lifestyles Ov Da Poor and Dangerous. Despite the positive response, L was released from the label. He returned to the underground where, as a member of the Diggin' In The Crates (D.I.T.C.) crew, he gained a considerable following with cuts like "The Enemy," "Internationally Known" and "Dignified Soldiers." From the back of Rockin'-Will's record shop--where he was discovered by Lord Finesse--to his last few appearances on albums by O.C. and McGruff, L was famous for subtle sarcasm in his lyrics...

L's influence is evident in two of today's chart-toppers, Mase and Cam'Ron, who, before pursuing their now successful careers, formed a group with L known as Children of the Corn. Shortly before L's death, Roc-A-Fella's Damon Dash, who once managed Children of the Corn, was in hot pursuit of him for Roc-A-Fella. "He was being an entrepreneur about his music," says Dash. "I watched him press up his own vinyl and he was puttin' himself in the studio. He was on his way to becoming not only a rapper, but a young executive." L showed the potential, releasing "Ebonics" b/w "Size 'em Up" on his independent label, Flamboyant Entertainment--distributed through Fat Beats--last year. He was working on the highly-anticipated Diggin' In The Crates album, to be released on Tommy Boy. Our condolences go out to L's family and friends. His charismatic spirit will live on for years to come. Rhyme In Peace, Big L. Dig into the archives below for press kits, music, tribute mixes and more!

February 14, 2021

DJ Eclipse on "Showoff Your Gems" (Video)

While I certainly recommend digging into D-Stroy's timeline to watch ALL of the episodes of his IG live show, Showoff Your Gems, the appearance of DJ Eclipse is significant to me because I do consider E to be one of my OGs. I've admired him for many years - how he broke into the industry; his successful run at both college radio and Sirius; his impactful roles at Fat Beats since its inception; Rock Steady Anniversaries; Wild Pitch; Non Phixion, and the list just goes on and on. Having worked with Eclipse at Fat Beats, I saw firsthand why he's called "The Senator" in inner circles, lol. If there's anyone with a stash of gems to showoff, it's DJ Eclipse and he comes insanely correct! The note to radio for "It Ain't Hard To Tell" off Illmatic made me wanna pick up the phone and ask for a scan, ASAP! Add to it content from O.C., the Arsonists, and all the stickers from legendary acts, and so much more... it's all here! The beauty of having a show like this is that it's so niche that really only the "heads" catch on, so props once again to D-Stroy for creating and hosting a show that speaks to us nerds of nostalgia, and truly represents a special segment of the culture. After watching, hit up the archives below for lots of additional content. Oh, and if anyone has the address to Eclipse's new storage, you can slide that in my DMs now!! You can follow more from D-Stroy right HERE!

February 14, 2021

Rapper Big Pooh & Young RJ "What Was Lost" (EP Stream)

What Was Lost Vol.1 features tracks originally recorded for "The Recipe" album that Rapper Pooh and Young RJ never completed. Some tracks, as you will hear, were used on Slum Village and Eric Roberson albums. Some were used for Rapper Big Pooh projects. A few were released on various outlets and then taken down to disappear in the black hole that is the internet. Here are a few of the more complete songs that were done during that time period (2008 - 2010). Listen to it below...

February 13, 2021

2Pac "All Eyez On Me" (Press Kit, 1996)

"Despite controversy and conflict, this fiery young man whose every act is watched by those who want to destroy as well as those who seek to elevate, wields more power and influence than ever. Still, after nearly a year of incarceration, 2Pac has emerged not only with the rage and pride he was born with intact but with a new understanding as well. On All Eyez On Me, his fourth solo album, the first on Death Row Records, 2Pac is more than simply revealing the hard reality of the world. His recent travails have also reawakened him to the hopes of a world yet to be achieved, yet to be created for and by those who have no voice. Today, 2Pac is a free man not just in body but in spirit. "I just said what I wanted to say," says 2Pac of All Eyez On Me, "and it liberated me. I let go of the anger." The first double CD in the history of rap, All Eyez On Me exploded out of 2Pac almost immediately after he was released from prison. According to him, none of it was even conceived until that moment. Out on a Thursday, he was in the studio that Saturday. By the end of the weekend, he already had four songs completed. The 2Pac two-pack runs more than two hours and contains 27 cuts, including the first single, "California Love" (co-produced and featuring Dr. Dre and written by 2Pac), "2 of Americaz Most Wanted" and "All Bout U" with Snoop Doggy Dogg, "How Do U Want It" (produced by Johnny "J" and featuring KC and JoJo), "Heartz Of Men" (produced by DJ Quik), "No More Pain" (produced and mixed by De Vante Swing) and "Got My Mind Made Up" with Dat N!gga Daz, Kurupt, Redman and Method Man. Executive produced by Suge Knight, All Eyez On Me marks another landmark achievement for Death Row Records, a label whose success has earned the title 'The Motown of Rap.'" - Press Kit, 1996. Revisit All Eyez On Me below... Rest In Peace, Tupac.

Below is a breakdown of all the credits for each track...

February 13, 2021

The Fugees "The Score" (February 13, 1996)

You'd never know it from the hits--dark, sweeping, cinematic arias such as "Ready or Not" and "Fugee-La"--but The Score began with modest ambitions. "It was like, 'Yo, let's do this album like we want to do it,'" rapper/producer Wyclef Jean says. "Hopefully it'll go gold or something, so I can get some sneakers and L. can get a Honda." Well, it definitely went gold or something, selling 18 million copies worldwide and paving the way for changes both sublime (an open-minded inclusiveness) and crass (countless pop-song retreads) in rap music. But two years after stiffing with their spotty debut, Blunted on Reality, the Fugees weren't exactly industry powerhouses. So the Haitian-born Wyclef Jean, his cousin Prakazrel Michel, and their high-school pal Lauryn Hill met at Jean's New Jersey home studio and set about being themselves: well-read, mixed-culture, multi-instrumentalist fans of everything from Bob Marley to Gary Numan to Doug E. Fresh. They sampled the Delfonics, jammed on electric guitar, and covered Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly." They penned racist-cop diatribes and riffed on Jim Carrey and Guinness stout. What gave the results such power (besides criminal amounts of talent that led the threesome to successful solo careers) was the Fugees' deceptively simple contention that their soulful, melodic, genre-bending music is hip-hop because they are hip-hop--native speakers of a diverse, urban-based culture that needn't soften to uplift. "The Fugees created a poetic hybrid that has become hip-hop's universal amalgam," says Elektra Records CEO Syliva Rhone. "It's the new definition of pop." - Spin Magazine, 9/99. The Fugees created one of the most enduring crossover albums of all-time and, personally, one of the most important soundtracks to a season in my life. The nostalgia I feel while listening to this project is incredible, to this day -- it's truly a pleasure to click play and revisit this classic below. Do it, too...

As always, a copy of the full review in Spin Magazine is below...

February 12, 2021

J.Period & Rakim "The Live Mixtape: God MC Edition"

J.PERIOD is celebrating his birthday with the release of The God MC Edition: Remixed [Live DJ Set], an exclusive 40 min mixtape featuring iconic verses from Rakim remixed with A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Nas, Black Thought, James Brown and more! This exclusive release - performed and recorded LIVE on New Year's Eve - features new J.PERIOD remixes from The Live Mixtape: God MC Edition + previously unreleased bonus content! Artwork by the legendary Dan Lish. Happy Born Day to one of the most prolific mixtape DJs, J.Period! I hope that the visuals from the live event are released one day, too! I regret missing the show with Rakim. Dig into it below...

February 11, 2021

Ol' Dayz "The Good Old Days" (Album Stream, 2020)

French producer Ol'Dayz teams up with some elite lyricists in the underground for this fine offering, The Good Old Days. With Ol' Dayz on his ASR10 with samples and drums; the flow of his guests, and the musical cuts by the DJ's on the turntables, it will take you back to the original essence. Props to Awon, Wildelux, A.G., Born Talent, Fel Sweetenberg, Ruste Juxx, Recognize Ali, DJ Robert Smith, DJ Djaz, and The Avid Record Collector. The Bandcamp says it was released last year and I completely missed it, so my apologies to all involved in the project! If you haven't heard this LP, check it below...

February 10, 2021

Kanye West "The College Dropout" (February 10, 2004)

If you need to love yourself before you can inspire others to love themselves, then producer-turned-rapper Kanye West really was 2004's musical savior. His debut album boasts more well-intentioned ego and ambition than Southern Baptists got offering plates. While saving hip-hop has always been an odd preoccupation--from what, exactly? capitalism?--this bling-swinging son of a college professor and Black Panther (and grandson of civil rights marchers) claims to do that and more on The College Dropout. As bumptious beats push up on tenderly melodic samples, West eagerly sells the sort of message--oriented raps that often get tagged as "conscious" (or "self-conscious," as he puts it), preaching fidgety sermons that address life's soulless grind with soulful sass. He is witty (sending up fitness freaks), provocative (getting little kids to sing the chorus, "Drug dealing just to get by / Stack your money til it gets sky-high"), and intensely devoted (the volatile revival march "Jesus Walks"). Never posing as a ghetto sufferhead or G-rated fresh prince, he speaks a universal gospel. So if you're lost and about to put your hopes and dreams on layaway at Wal-Mart, cue up The College Dropout. Kanye's got a plan for you. - Spin. Revisit this LP below...

Photographs by Danny Clinch + Spin review: January, 2005...

February 09, 2021

DJ Kiyo "Unbelievable" (Mixtape, 2010)

Japan's DJ Kiyo dropped his Unbelievable mix tape in 2010 on CD and cassette. It features Golden Era tracks from Common, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest, Da Bush Babees, The Pharcyde, Gang Starr, Da King & I, Black Moon, Nice & Smooth, Zhigge, Trends of Culture, The Beatnuts, Black Sheep, M.O.P., Champ MC, KRS-One, K-Solo, Yaggfu Front, Leaders of the New School, Keith Murray, Boogiemonsters, Grand Puba, and more! Hear the Unbelievable mix tape below...

February 08, 2021

Ghostface Killah "Supreme Clientele" (February 8, 2000)

It seems like an eternity since Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah certified himself as a superior MC--kicking lyrics of steel on Raekwon's sleeper classic, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (Loud, 1995), and his own CD, the bulletproof Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic, 1996). But mixed reviews of recent solo offerings from clan members GZA, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Rae have some doubters whispering their speculation of Wu's demise. Fortunately, like his laser-toting cartoon alter ego Tony Starks, Ghost saves the day with the naysayer-silencing Supreme Clientele. Championing the cause of Wu dominance, Supreme Clientele exemplifies Ghost's lyrical dexterity. While his thunderous light-speed delivery hasn't changed much, his jagged wordplay is at its zenith. One minute, he breaks down street-survival tactics on "We Made It"... then he takes you on a rough ride down memory lane as he reminisces about adolescent crushes on "Child's Day"... Then there are those Ghostface-isms we love. You know, the muddy treat, "One," where he brags about his "rhymes made of garlic." But it's this banger's luscious linguistics and potent production that support its claim of supremacy. Everybody will be catching Saturday-night fever when they hear "Cherchez LaGhost," Ghost's brilliant remake of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band's 1976's classic, "Cherchez La Femme/Se Si Bon." But for those of you used to those subterranean street-sweeping beats, "Buck 50," featuring Method Man, Redman, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna, is pure delight. - Vibe, '00.

Here's some additional promo + the full article in Vibe (April, 2000)...

February 08, 2021

Jay Electronica + Jay-Z "A Rewritten Testimony" (MICK)

I messed up, I completely missed this fine release from MICK, but better late than never. In his own words: "When Jay Electronica dropped "A Written Testimony" at the beginning of the pandemic, it was exactly what we needed. Powerful music for a powerful time. But I couldn't help but wonder: what if there was more? What if it was longer? What if it had more layers to it? I called my friends Chi Duly and Hasan Insane to help put together this intricate revision of Jay Electronica's debut album. But with additional beats. More Hov. Rare verses. Outtakes. Special guests. And lots of other fun easter eggs for true Jay + Jay fans. We hope you love it as much as we do." If you dig into the archives, you'll see a lot of other great mixes from Mick Boogie that prove I'm not only a fan, but that the man consistently puts together some of the best mixes. Don't hesitate, listen to it below...