February 28, 2021

Fat Ray "Santa Barbara" (Album Stream)

Detroit's Fat Ray is back with a new project entitled Santa Barbara released through Danny Brown's Bruiser Brigade Records. You should know Fat Ray through his affiliations with Black Milk and Young RJ as a member of the trio B.R. Gunna, as well his own solo LPs and mixtapes going back to '08. Santa Barbara features 12 tracks with guest appearances from Danny Brown and Bruiser Wolf, along with production from Black Milk, Raphy, and Crisfantom. It's a solid album, listen below... and if you haven't heard or revisited Fat Ray's The Set Up with Black Milk, take this as a sign to go and do it!

February 28, 2021

Jazz Spastiks "Camera of Sound" (Album Stream)

The UK duo are back with their latest offering, Camera of Sound. The 18-track release features a bunch of talented MCs from the underground, such as C Rayz Walz, Wee Bee Foolish, Artifacts, The Procussions, Phill Most Chill, Count Bass D, DJ Pocket, Soundsci, Kool Keith, Craig G and more. Also known as The Splitmat Brothers, Coconut Delight and Mr Manyana have been crafting an extensive catalog of dope beats, mixes and projects for several years now. Dig into the archives for a taste of their back catalog and listen below as they continue to delight and elevate with this new album too!

February 27, 2021

Sketchbook Radio "Dilla x DOOM" (Tribute Mix)

DJ's Kutmah and SertOne released this 2 hour mix from Sketchbook Radio... a Dilla and DOOM tribute show that features Dillavillainy (Doom x Dilla), alongside unreleased Rah Digga, Busta Rhymes, Slum Village, Madlib, Jaylib, Miguel Atwood Ferguson and lots more. To give proper credit, Kutmah handles hour one and Sertone holds it down on hour two. All in all, a very fine tribute mix for two of the late greats, who made invaluable contributions to music, and especially hip-hop culture. You can dig back to 2017 for this J Dilla Tribute that Kutmah also did on Sketchbook Radio. Enjoy the mix below...

February 26, 2021

Max I Million "Uncut Gems" (Instrumental Album)

Swedish producer Max I Million is back on his hip-hop steez with 'Uncut Gems,' an instrumental album that blends left-field creativity with boom-bap vibes. It’s equal parts futuristic and nostalgic, a distinctive combination of sounds that never gets too comfortable, nor too experimental. Pulling that off is no easy feat, and neither is making it sound this damn good. But that’s just what Max does with this project. 'Uncut Gems' is pure audio dope that’s loaded with musical layers. And it turns out that Max actually produced these tracks with that concept in mind, so that listeners would play it again and again to unearth new sounds and production techniques with each spin. “I want to elevate minds and make them feel inclined to, in the words of Dilla, ‘Turn me up another notch in your system!’,” he says. The 12 track instrumental project has arrived both digitally and on vinyl in a limited blue and white splatter configuration. Dope project, props to Matt Diamond. Dig in...

February 25, 2021

Boogie Down Productions "Sex And Violence" (February 25, 1992)

In 1987 Boogie Down Productions shocked the world with Criminal Minded, an album that was all street and no apology. In 1992, five albums later, BDP unveils the long-awaited sequel to that masterpiece--Sex And Violence. It is understood that KRS-One is rap's foremost teacher and social thinker, but we sometimes forget that he can rock the boulevard as hard as he rocks the seminar. This album is a return to the raw essence of the street.... With the production assistance of Prince Paul and Pal Joey, KRS has gone back to the basics and delivered a record that embodies the true spirit of the New York sound.... In a manner reminiscent of "The Bridge Is Over," KRS subjects the industry to a long overdue quality control session, and licks a shot for those "blabbering f#cking fools." Sex And Violence (like other BDP albums) is informative and challenging. This time Kris takes aim at sexual morality, religion, and hypocrisy and hits them dead on.... KRS leaves no stone unturned. The highlights are: "Who Are The Pimps," a perfect blend of hard core hip-hop and education; "KRS and Freddie Foxx," which features much freestyling over a fat repetitive bassline; "13 & Good," which is an R&B flavored cut that tells the story of statutory rape--with a twist, "Build & Destroy," which drops the science over a minimalist beat; and the rap/lecture, "The Real Holy Place," where KRS proves why he is the teacher. An extra bonus is the phat "Intromental," a medley of all of the classic BDP beats past and present. If sex and violence are what the people want, KRS has delivered, but it not overly gratuitous or sensationalist--the subjects of sex and violence are intelligently analyzed. With Sex And Violence, KRS goes back to the hardcore underground without abandoning his mission. I think it's a step in the right direction. - The Source (3/92). Listen up below...

You can save a full copy of the article in The Source below...

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

The Roots "Things Fall Apart" (2/23/99)

Philadelphia's Roots have been one of the consistently brightest hopes of hip-hop's new school to have emerged in the '90s. Their forward-thinking, on-point, no-b.s. lyrics, and fresh, funky live beats--brought to the people on wax and through exhaustive touring for the better part of this decade--have earned them a well-deservedly airtight rep. With Things Fall Apart, their third major-label release, the Roots have gone back to the basics, scuffing up most of the smoother edges they displayed on 1996's Illadelph Halflife. Lyricists Black Thought and Malik B are in top form throughout, backed by a set of tracks that occasionally highlights the Roots' kinship with late-model A Tribe Called Quest. "The Next Movement," "Dynamite" and "Don't See Us" are all guilty as charged, using minimal drum snaps, pulse-tone bass lines and ethereal background effluvium to grab our ears. The juxtaposition of the calming tones and the aggressive, battle-oriented lyrics makes for a strong combo, and the pattern works time and again. These tracks can also be raw: "Without A Doubt," "Step Into A Realm," and "Double Trouble" (featuring Mos Def) could all go up against any underground track you might bring to the table. Things Fall Apart will ranks as one of 1999's most enjoyable hip-hop platters. - CMJ New Music Monthly (April, 1999). Revisit this classic once again...

A few promo items from Things Fall Apart + full article in CMJ...

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

Jansport J "Save My Soul II" (Instrumental Album)

Based in LA, producer Jansport J unleashes the follow-up to his 2011 release, Save My Soul. This second installment features 13 soulful instrumentals. The warm sounds and lo-fi grooves blend wonderfully and make this a beat tape filled with great vibes and good energy. Jansport J's production credits include Freddie Gibbs, Benny The Butcher, Tha Dogg Pound, Snoop Dogg, Ab-Soul and more. I've listened to hundreds of beat tapes/instrumental albums over the years as an artist manager, so highlighting the beatmakers and producers who create good vibes has now become something of a hobby, too. I'm happy to share this one + all the tapes in the archives. Listen below...

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

Rest In Peace, Prince Markie Dee!

Prince Markie Dee, one-third of the groundbreaking 1980s hip-hop group The Fat Boys, died Thursday at age 52. The Brooklyn native, whose legal name was Mark Morales, was also a prolific songwriter later in his career and hosted a radio show on SiriusXM’s Rock The Bells channel. His cause of death has not been released. “Prince Markie Dee was more than a rapper; he was one of my very best and closest friends,” Louis Gregory, the group’s manager, wrote in a tweet. “My heart breaks today because I lost a brother. I’ll always love you Mark and I’ll cherish everything you taught me.” Morales formed the group alongside Damon “Kool Rock-Ski” Wimbley, and Darren “Buff Love” Robinson in 1983. The Fat Boys were known for their beatboxing and comedy in their raps. The Fat Boys starred in two popular films, 1985′s “Krush Groove” and 1987′s “Disorderlies.” “They were figuratively the biggest act in hip hop at some point in time. Like the first act that showed this culture might have some real international legs to it,” Questlove wrote Thursday in an IG post. “They did dope routines and dance steps, albums went gold and platinum. Did movies and tv and commercials.” After the group split in 1991, Morales penned numerous songs, including some of Mary J. Blige’s first hits. He also earned writing credits on albums from Drake, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, among many others. “As far as our peers are concerned, I think we get a lot of love and recognition,” Morales told Rolling Stone in 2017. “As far as the media though, I think we totally get ignored. … I think people look at Run-D.M.C. and Whodini as hip-hop artists, and they look at us as comedians. I’m not exactly mad at that, because we were trying to make people laugh and feel comfortable with being exactly who they were — fat, skinny, tall, short, gay, whatever. That’s the impression we wanted to leave on the world.” - Daily News. Rest In Peace!

February 19, 2021

Him Lo & Giallo Point "UGONMAKEMEKILLYOASS" (Album Stream)

Following up on their solid 2019 EP "OJ GLOVEZ", Da Buze Bruvaz own, Him Lo "Da Inappropriate" returns once again with a full-length collaboration with beatsmith Giallo Point. Him Lo and Giallo pick up right where they left off with a deadly combination of murderous beats and abundantly hard rhymes.The new album titled "UGONMAKEMEKILLYOASS" is a full blown "Hood Spaghetti Western," says their press release. This 11-track album is laced with sinister beats and back alley armed robbery raps. Limited to a handful of powerhouse features, the guest list includes Roc Marciano, Kool G Rap, Cappadonna, MarQ Spekt and Clever One. Dig into their latest offering streaming 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

Marlon Craft "How We Intended" (Album Stream)

Hell's Kitchen's own Marlon Craft is back with a brand new offering entitled, How We Intended. He took to Instagram to share his thoughts on the project, and I think they provide a lot of context to the mindstate of the young MC. "When I got into this sh!t, I had three general things I wanted to accomplish: I wanted to make impactful music that affected people’s lives for the better, and potentially helped to educate or forward conversations; I wanted to make a living totally off uncompromised art; and I wanted to have the respect of the culture and the people in it whose opinions matter to me. Somehow in the midst of the horrific year that was 2020, I managed to reach a place where those goals have finally become a reality after years of hard work and dedication. This album, “How We Intended” in many ways tells the story of that year, that last lap of the first chapter. I’m wild grateful.... We’re really just getting warmed up, but I just wanna say I appreciate everyone that’s supported me, or challenged me, or whatever - everyone that’s lent their energy to this journey.... Whether you heard of me last week or you've been rockin' with me for 7 years, thank you. There’s a lot left in the marathon, but due in large part to your support, I can finally exhale a bit and feel a type of pride I haven’t allowed myself to feel until now. I hope you play the album all the way through. Much love and thank you.... Peace!" Humble words from an artist who now has a loyal fanbase and several fine projects under his belt, built off the back of his own hard work. Props to him, he continues to have my support and respect. Dig into his latest LP below...

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 16, 2021

Nas "PreIllmatic" (1991-1994)

Gadc333 has released PreIllmatic on cassette and digital, which represents the years 1991-1994 and the the birth of Nasty Nas out of Queensbridge. According to the release info, PreIllmatic is Gadc333's third PreSeries volume. It features Nas' demos and alternate versions, freestyles, radio appearances and features recorded ahead of his classic debut album, Illmatic. The tape was made in Barcelona, Spain in 2020. Also check out his PreCapital (Big Pun) and PreLifestylez (Big L) tapes, as well. My favorite MC of all-time, still, so I dig into all his material (old and new). Listen to it below...

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 15, 2021

Khrysis "Khrysis On The Boards, Vol.2" (Instrumental Album)

When it comes to pure Hip-Hop production with ranges in soundscape from gritty to jazzy, and harmonic, with intricate melodies and diverse drum beats, there aren’t many more renowned in the underworld than beatsmith, Khrysis. The Durham, NC producer is signed to Grammy Award winning super producer, 9th Wonder’s, Jamla Records imprint and is one of seven producers on the labels production team, The Soul Council. Khrysis has now released the second installment in his Khrysis On The Boards series, which is not to be confused with the Khrysis On The Boards With The Heat series that was released many years ago (although equally dope). Vol.2 includes 29 instrumentals and adds to his legacy as one of the best producers representing out of North Carolina. Listen below...

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 over 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...