April 30, 2021

Mastermind "Tape #1: Buck Em Down" (Mixtape, 1994)

Here is the first in DJ Mastermind's illustrious mixtape series that dates back to 1994. Known throughout Canada (and the states) for his quality mixtapes and his radio show, Mastermind's Street Jams, this first tape was called "Buck Em Down '94," according to Toronto's The Flyer Vault, who was kind enough to share this tape last year. Also props to Chase March, who has a dope independent radio show of his own up in Canada... he's been posting cassette rips of Mastermind's early radio shows. Do check that out! As for Tape #1, it features tracks from Das EFX, Snoop Dogg, Lady of Rage, Nas, Craig Mack, Smif-N-Wessun, The Pharcyde, The Artifacts, Gravediggaz, Shyheim, Dred Scott, House of Pain, Wu-Tang Clan, Nice-N-Smooth, Jeru The Damaja, and lots more. Listen below...

April 29, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Def Jux Legacy" (Podcast)

Having covered El's production masterpiece in Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein and his breakthrough solo LP Fantastic Damage, the podcast digs deeper to profile the artists and albums that are the tentpoles of El-P's artist-owned record label Def Jux. He tells the story of meeting and working with underground legends like Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, RJD2 and more. El-P also explores the void left by the passing of friend and brilliant artist Camu Tao (Rest In Peace). Listen to the episode below...

April 28, 2021

Big Pun "Capital Punishment" (April 28, 1998)

Early in his fledgling career, the joke on hefty Bronx, New York, rapper Big Punisher was his penchant for taking huge breaths between never-ending stanzas of rhymes. But with performances like this past winter's ribald mack anthem "I'm Not a Player," the 400-pound Latin king established himself as a heavyweight of an entirely different nature – a lyrical giant with a Chris Rock-like knack for rapid witticisms. Pun's rhyme deluge continues on his highly entertaining inaugural album, Capital Punishment. He expands his palette with guest turns from Wyclef Jean (on the reggae-tinged "Caribbean Connection"), Black Thought from the Roots (the tongue-twisting "Super Lyrical") and Wu-Tang's Inspectah Deck (with Prodigy from Mobb Deep, on the sublime, RZA-produced "Tres Leches"). The playful "Still Not a Player," the vengeful heartbreak ballad "Punish Me" and the brassy, triumphant "You Came Up" display this extra-large MC's musical and compositional range. "I recollect when I was just a boy eating Chips Ahoy/I wasn't allowed to raise my voice/Now I'm makin' noise," Pun reflects on the album's closer, "Parental Discretion" (featuring Busta Rhymes). Slipping comfortably into the lovable-street-tough niche popularized by the late, great Biggie Smalls, Big Punisher has delivered a debut remarkably devoid of fat. - Chairman Mao (Rolling Stone, 5/6/98).

Pun's Capital Punishment is still a classic, definitely revisit it above...

April 27, 2021

DJ Shy "90's Hip-Hop Classics" (Mixtape, 2011)

Here's a 90's mix of classic hip-hop records from New York's DJ Shy. Released about 10 years ago, DJ Shy's mix features tracks from Ill Al Skratch, Smif-N-Wessen, Black Moon, The Pharcyde, Jeru The Damaja, The East Flatbush Project, Craig Mack, Gang Starr, KRS-One, Group Home, Das EFX, Frankie Cutlass, Lost Boyz, Nine, Mobb Deep, Raekwon, A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill, Lords of the Underground, EPMD, Wu-Tang Clan, Naughty By Nature and more. Dig into this fine mix below...

April 26, 2021

Beneficence & Confidence "Stellar Mind" (Album Stream)

Brick City native and close Artifacts affiliate Beneficence drops his seventh album entitled "Stellar Mind", entirely produced by longtime collaborator and Boston producer Confidence (of Rashad & Confidence). Benef’s & Conf’s latest installment is a mastery of beats, rhymes, jazz loops, and soul at its apex. With slick vocals and blue-collar aesthetics, it gives the listener head-nodding street anthems and stays true to its roots. Beneficence & Confidence is a dream team that boom-bap connoisseurs have been patiently eager to hear. Along with slick intelligent rhymes, thought-provoking concepts, and sharp and precise cuts handled by 12 Finger Dan, DJ Grazzhoppa, and DJ Kaos (RIP), the LP comes equipped with an impressive guest list of rhyme slingers to deliver a long-awaited gem for underground hip-hop fans around the globe. Features include Masta Ace, Keith Murray, Ras Kass, AG (of D.I.T.C.), Chubb Rock, Lord Tariq, Craig G, El Da Sensei (of The Artifacts), Phantasm (of Cella Dwellas), Ali Vegas, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Wordsworth, Queen Herawin (of Jugganots), Truth Enola, and soul singer Melinda Camille. This is a solid album via Ill Adrenaline Records. Listen...

April 25, 2021

Mobb Deep "The Infamous" (New York Daily News, 1995)

It's a telling tale for rap duo Mobb Deep. Out of the rugged, raw South Queensbridge Houses, Prodigy and Havoc come to the world of hip hop with a message of survival in the 'hood. They do not arrive with candy-coated tales of living large. They deliver narration that spins tales of survival as they roll through the urban jungle. Their defense: it's their reality. "I've seen people get killed, my best man. Young kids is murderers, going out there and killing kids for selling crack on their corners," says 20-year old Prodigy, aka Chaka Johnson. "It's nothing, like, spectacular about it. You can say, 'Dag, he's 20 years old -- how could he go through that?' A lot of us do. There are a lot of 20-year olds just like me -- they just don't know how to put it in words." So Mobb Deep did it for them. Barely legal and with an album already to their credit, Mobb Deep enter with their sophomore album, "The Infamous," an ice-cold portrait of life in the darkest corners of NYC. Mobb Deep's truth comes to the music via the South Queensbridge Houses, where Havoc grew up. Havoc still lives there, and vows to stay. Prodigy's mom sent him to live with his grandmother on Long Island at age 15 after he was arrested for selling drugs near his childhood home in the Lefrak City complex. Prodigy first spotted Havoc -- description identical, save a couple of inches -- jacking up a guy twice his size in the lunchroom at Manhattan School of Art and Design. "He was real little back in the day -- a shortie," recalls Prodigy. "A little short n!gg@ beatin' on some big n!gg@. I saw him the next day, told him he was wrecking that kid nasty-like. "After that, we would be rhymin' with each other. Everybody was, like, 'Y'all need to get together and form a group.' We battled everybody in school -- we was the illest." Their first album, "Juvenile Hell," came in 1993. Though its only single "Shook Ones Part 1," still has hard-core rap enthusiasts nodding their heads, paltry sales, sloppy business practices and a lackluster push from their label sent the album nowhere -- fast. Cont'd...

Havoc admits the culprit was the duo's misguided illusion of dollar bills and quick fame -- an immature business sense that sent the high school dropouts back to Queens empty-handed. "The bottom line is that we wasn't on top of our game," Havoc once confessed. "We wasn't handling our business the way we was supposed to. We [were] young." Now, armed with G.E.D.'s and a few extra years in the business under their belt, Mobb Deep find themselves in the middle of a Mobb Deep craze -- their songs all over the charts, their videos all over music television and 500,000 people across the country listening to their tales of life in the 'hood. A cursory listen tells you their music is everything your mother forbade you to hear. It's just what conservatives, parents groups and the likes of presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole have been bashing. But Prodigy repeats what most defenders of gangsta rap have already said: They're just rapping about what they see on the streets. "I feel that Bob Dole and Bill Clinton make me like this. How can they complain when I write songs about what they put me through? Ironically, it's not only the streets that are putting Prodigy through it. He has a serious case of sickle-cell anemia, a blood disease that dehydrates him and threatens his bone strength. He already has a bad hip that he must have replaced. "My leg is f***** up," Prodigy says. "But that doesn't affect my performing." Prodigy says they study the Koran, the Bible, and even quotations from Mao Zedong, sharing views with their project counterparts. "You got to keep it to the street. Keep the phat beats, but knowledge -- read up on books, talk about everything," Prodigy said. "Right now, we got 500,000 ears, so we're going to make some use of that." - New York Daily News. July 23, 1995. R.I.P., Albert "Prodigy" Johnson!

April 24, 2021

Mick Boogie "Illadelph/Matic" (Mixtape, 2012)

Illadelph/matic was released by Mick Boogie roughly 10 years ago... a unique mix of rarities and remixes featuring Nas and the legendary Roots crew. Presented by OkayPlayer, MICK put the mix together as part of some super bowl event in 2012. In his own words, MICK shared, "The Roots and Nas are two of my favorite performers ever... and have such an amazing catalog of gems the average fan never heard. This was a great opportunity to put something together for the people to enjoy!" I suspect none of my readers are "average fans," but nevertheless, let's revisit this gem of a mixtape that features Nas and The Roots in rare form. You really can't go wrong clicking play below...

April 23, 2021

Rest In Peace, Shock G!

The 27-year old Humpty started his semi-legendary musical voyage a full 180 degrees from his current style. Then known as "Smooth Eddie Humphrey," he specialized in packing lovestruck ladies into nightclubs around his Tampa, Florida home with his suave ballads and charismatic performance. Things were set to blow up for Eddie, who had placed in the finals of a talent search that promised a recording contract to the winner, but just days before his big night, fate dealt him a hand that would force most folks to fold. On September 15, 1987, Eddie was pulling a night shift at the diner where he worked part-time. Suddenly, there was an explosion, and before he could move out of the way, he was struck full-force in the head by a water main-which drove his face into the kitchen's deep fryer. While just a few seconds elapsed before coworkers freed him, Eddie suffered first-degree burns to his nose, requiring thousands of dollars worth of reconstructive surgery. Even more hurtful to the young singer was the damage done to his throat. Gone was the Smokey Robinson-esque tenor, replaced by the distinctive nasal twang he deploys today. Cont'd below...

It wasn't easy for him, but Humphrey overcame the odds (and a period of depression) and turned from singing to rapping. In order to cover his damaged nose, he donned the mask that's since become his trademark. Inviting audiences to poke fun at his appearance was all the therapy he needed. Humpty-Hump was born, and before long Shock G (a frequent visitor to Humpty's South Florida turf) caught wind of this fresh new act and recruited him for Digital Underground. While "The Humpty Dance" (born, to hear Hump tell it, when the big earthquake hit their Bay Area studio in mid-rehearsal) was Humpty's largest moment, he's been lurking around all the Digital Underground releases, mostly going with a comical flow, but mostly on Sons of the P - giving a glimpse of what lurks behind the nose. "He went on this bad-boy tangent, doin' all sorts of crazy shit," recalls Shock G. "That's why he did that song "Good Thing We're Rappin" (off Sons of the P). He thought he had a lot of people's attention and he wanted to make some statements. That's when he came out with "No Nose Job," which was all about inner beauty and love of self. Now that he knows he's gonna be around for another album, he can relax and continue to do his thing." - "The Humpty Hump Story".  

The news of the passing of Shock G is tragic and I'd like to send my condolences to Money B; his friends, family and all the fans across the world. According to TMZ, "The rap legend was found dead Thursday in a hotel room in Tampa ... according to his father, Edward Racker." This has been another sad and tragic year ... so, honestly, I'm at a loss for words to continue to pay tribute and honor all the legends we've lost and continue to lose. Like many of you, I grew up on this music and when you truly dig through Shock G's production catalog, too ... I guarantee you'll be surprised at how many great records he'd touched in the course of his career. May he Rest in Eternal Peace! R.I.P. Shock G aka Humpty Hump aka MC Blowfish aka Piano Man aka Rackadelic aka Gregory Racker aka Icey Mike aka Peanut Hakeem and other aliases, known and unknown. Shock G was only 57 years young!

April 22, 2021

Khrysis "The Hour of Khrysis" (Album Stream)

Khrysis has released his latest project, a production album entitled The Hour of Khrysis. The NC beatsmith unleashes 14 tracks with guests that include hip-hop heavyweights and undeground phenoms such as Busta Rhymes, Pharoahe Monch, Evidence, Sa-Roc, Rapsody, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, The Away Team, Chi-Ali, Geechi Suede (of Camp Lo) and lots more. If you dig through the archives, there are several compilation projects, instrumental releases and more from Khrysis. The Soul Council member has been a consistent force in hip-hop behind the boards for many years; it's dope that he's stepped out with this production album. Give The Hour of Khrysis a listen below...

April 21, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Fantastic Damage Episode" (Podcast)

In 2002, El-P released his solo debut LP Fantastic Damage to critical acclaim and unbridled fervor from underground rap fans that had been following El from Company Flow to the creation of Def Jux. In this episode El tells the stories behind celebrated songs like "Stepfather Factory," "Deep Space 9mm" and "Squeegee Man Shooting." He also sets the record straight on the album's connection to the events of September 11th, 2001. Don't miss another great episode, listen below...

April 20, 2021

Ghostface Killah "The Pretty Toney Album" (April 20, 2004)

Return of the soulful Apollo kid... It's quite bewildering to think that some don't get Ghostface. But then some have no natural rhythm, so we guess it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise. For the educated rap faction, however, he still remains the most remarkable of modern emcees as he imbues his on wax outbursts with an astonishing amount of soul. And on solo shot number four the usual Ghost Deini themes are all present, which means hens and femmes take up a large chunk of Ghost's world.... And, of course, there's the usual shopping list of chip-chop abstract aesthetics, from cans of Banana Nutriment to a return of those "bowling bowl head n!ggas". With Ghost, the genius is partly in the details. The Theodore-down Trife kicks a career defining verse, reminiscent of a hungry Big Noyd on "Burn." "N!ggas ask why I use my Glock/'Cos it's 2003 motherf#cker I refuse to box," he explains, letting the LP's delayed release history out of the bag as early as the first track proper and perhaps even outshining big Tony himself. As a curio, the only other core Wu involvement comes from a duo of RZA productions, most notably on the concept-driven "Run."

The replacements, on both vocals and backbeat fronts, don't disappoint: Minnesota laces Ghost's conversation with himself on "Beat the Clock" with great momentum, K-Def gives new life to a David Porter break known to a generation of kids as 'that Biggie beat,' while Jada, Styles and Sheek Louch spit molten street heat on their relative contributions. Some will hate on the radio single "Tush," but it's only the next stop on the disco journey Starks began with "Cherchez La Ghost," continued with "Ghost Showers." Likewise, some have already diminished "Holla", it's B-Side, as being "Just him wailing over a Delfonics track." To do so, of course, is to marginalize hip-hop itself as 'just some street vagabonds shouting over music stolen from other people.' You know where the exit sign is. It's common knowledge that the copy of "Pretty Toney Album" you'll pick up in stores isn't the complete "Pretty Toney Album" project Ghost first envisioned. Sample clearance and his label's decision to put the god on hold while albums from Keith Murray and Joe Budden bombed scuppered that. Besides, it's easy enough to download or pick up bootleg copies of rap lessons like "My Guitar", "Toney's Money" and "The Drummer" if you want the complete picture. But in 2004, with the crunk in the clubs and the grimy underground of the Wu having been completely superseded by the introverted underground of the Buck 65 brigade, Ghost probably doesn't exist to make 'classic' albums of perfect hip-hop art. Rather, he exists on the retail shelves to give people hope to the thought that the 'real' emcee, the at times indescribably talented emcee, the emcee who knows that real kids spit that shit, the emcee steeped deep in hip-hop history, can still exist. And for that we should all give thanks. - HHC. This was never my favorite of GFK's releases, but it should be revisited all the same.

April 19, 2021

Nas "Illmatic" (Daily News, 5/1/94)

"Little gets in the way of the words on the debut album from Nas. In an age when hip hop regularly distracts listeners from the rhymes with pop melodies, pungent horns and conventional R&B beats, New York rapper Nas strips this form back to its verbal roots. 'I make music for the crowd that keeps rap alive, not people who just found out about it yesterday,' he says. Small wonder the 20-year-old mike master from Queens has earned such juice in the rap underground. Among the jeep-and-beeper set, the anticipation surrounding the release of Nas' first album rivals the treatment the mainstream media built around Snoop Doggy Dogg before his debut. Which explains why Nas' "Illmatic" album is the highest-ranking debut on this week's Billboard Top 200 charts, arriving at No. 12 after moving nearly 60,000 copies in the last seven days. Not bad for a guy virtually unknown to the pop audience. Arch hip-hop fans first clued into the performer after he put in a guest rap on the track "Live at the BBQ" on the respected Main Source LP "Breaking Atoms." Nas, who says he has been writing raps since he was 9, got his break by tracking down Source member the Large Professor at his studio in Queens. The exposure earned him an audience with MC Serch (late of 3rd Bass), who cleared a spot on the "Zebrahead" soundtrack for the Nas track "Half Time." Nas' connections helped with his debut album. At the Large Professor's urging, some of hip-hop's hottest producers oversaw various tracks, including Q-Tip (from A Tribe Called Quest) and DJ Premier (from Gang Starr). 'They put me with the right [musical] material,' says the wordsmith. 'I found out you can't just rhyme to any beat.' As insistent as the album's beats may be, it's the words that make the record move. The album basically tells Nas' life story growing up in the Queensbridge Houses filled with journalistic detail and cinematic plots." Revisit Nas classic, Illmatic, cont'd below...

'In the projects we always say, 'I wished they made a movie here 'cuz they wouldn't need no story line, just show what happens,'' Nas explains. 'My album is like a movie. I just made my s--- verbal instead of visual.' His descriptions can be ugly and blood-soaked, but Nas avoids cheap shocks by always giving the violence human consequence. Whether writing a letter to a friend in prison ("One Love") or explaining why he likes to get high ("Life's A Bitch"), Nas has a knack for fleshing out his grit with wit and pathos. The sheer credibility of his writing could help swing some attention back on East Coast rap after years of media focus on West Coast gangstas like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. In contrast to the pop-funk-driven sound of those performers, Nas aims for a more spacey, jazzy feel. Combined with his harsh words, that may keep him off radio, but Nas doesn't mind. 'I never made a record for radio,' he says. 'I rap to brighten my mind.'" - Daily News, 5/1/94.

April 18, 2021

Armand Hammer "Haram" (Album Stream)

Haram is a mercurial collaboration between incendiary rap duo Armand Hammer, and living legend The Alchemist. For the first time ELUCID and billy woods have crafted an album with a single producer and the result is extraordinary. With their unmatched penchant for stirring imagery and incisive storytelling, the two rappers dive into an ocean of Alchemist’s creation: warmly inviting on the surface, black and bone-crushingly cold at depth. Haram is a collection of the profane and the pure; a reminder that that which is forbidden is also sacrosanct. The artists are joined by their friends and fellow travelers on this journey. Kayana’s golden voice upps the wattage on “Black Sunlight,” while Fielded’s sultry alto gets chopped and screwed on “Aubergine”. Earl Sweatshirt makes a sun-soaked appearance, while Curly Castro and Amani mix like ice and salt on Brooklyn sidewalks and Quelle Chris, as always, finds a pocket all his own. Still, there is a natural rapport that belies the NY-to-LA-and-back nature of the project, allowing Haram to be more than the sum of its parts, however impressive those parts may be. This isn’t just the genre’s most insistent contemporary voices paired with arguably its best producer. This is when you buy a beautiful house only to discover, hidden behind a heavy bookcase, a stairway twisting up and away into the darkness. Dig in...

Haram cassettes are also available now...

April 18, 2021

Dirty Harry "My Best of Blends" (Presented by RapMullet)

Props to RapMullet for putting together this fine mix of blends from the legendary Dirty Harry's catalog. I'm on the record that Dirty Harry is one of my favorite mixtape DJs, you can dig into the archives for plenty of his mixes but to compile some of his best blends in one mix is surely a labor of love. You'll hear lots of hip-hop and R&B blends featuring The Beatnuts & Big Pun, The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Rakim, Mobb Deep, CL Smooth, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Jay-Z, Channel Live, Redman, Kanye West, Keith Sweat, 2Pac, SWV, and lots more. Something different to listen to, check it out below...

April 17, 2021

Conway The Machine "La Maquina" (Album Stream)

Conway the Machine's latest offering, La Maquina, features collaborations with Benny The Butcher, Westside Gunn, 2 Chainz, J.I.D., Ludacris, The Alchemist, Daringer, Murda Beatz, Don Cannon, El Camino, Cardiak, and Conway The Machine’s Drumwork Music Group label artists Jae Skeese and 7xvethegenius. In his own words, he shares “I know I promised my Shady Records debut ‘God Don’t Make Mistakes’ next, but as I was executive producing upcoming projects from my Drumwork label artists Jae Skeese and 7xvethegenius, I got into a really creative zone and I just couldn’t hold back ... I love the material on ‘La Maquina’ and I know fans will as well. I feel like I am the best doing it right now! Griselda dominated 2020 and we are going to dominate 2021. So, after Benny hit you in the head with ‘The Plugs I Met 2’, it’s my turn. Surprise!” It'd be hard to "surprise" fans with new music as much as Conway and the entire Griselda camp drops, but it's always a treat. Dig in below...

April 16, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Cold Vein & the Rise of Def Jux" (Podcast)

In this episode, El-P walks us through the launch of the legendary record label Def Jux. In its initial days of the label, Company Flow disbands as El assembles the roster from standout artists in the underground rap scene like Mr. Lif, RJD2 and Aesop Rock. One of Def Jux's first major releases is Cannibal Ox's classic debut The Cold Vein. El walks us through meeting the duo, putting the album together and unleashing it on the world! Yet another phenomenal episode, listen to the pod below...

April 15, 2021

Happy Born Day, Godlee Barnes! (Playlist)

For me, Blu has been one of the most important artists to touch a mic post-2000. And, to be honest, in the history of hip-hop. Below The Heavens impacted in me such a way that it's indescribable, although I've tried numerous times over the years. The advance copy hit my doorstep (courtesy of J.Kim) and I was absolutely stuck. I go back to it constantly, which also proves its timeless nature. I'm not blind to the stretch-marks in his catalog or some of his unusual remarks... what I'm simply saying is that - on the mic - he's transparent, thought-provoking and an overall exceptional MC. He's also one of the most prolific guest MCs, delivering solid verses that need playlists (and his mixtape series) to help put them all in one place. In honor of his Born Day today, below is just a handful of my favorite verses/tracks from Blu's exceptional catalog. I hope you appreciate the man's music as much as I have, and give the man his flowers while he can smell them...

April 14, 2021

El Michels Affair "Yeti Season" (Album Stream)

Fresh off of their 2020 offering Adult Themes, El Michels Affair is back with a new full-length release. Titled Yeti Season, this newest album has everything we've come to expect from EMA’s patented cinematic style of instrumental soul music. Where Adult Themes inspired a soundtrack to an imaginary film, Yeti Season brings us to a different place in time—with new inspirations. Taken with Turkish-styled funk and an almost Mumbai-esque take on soul, El Michels Affair offers us a different kind of drama and imagination with Yeti Season. It's a heavy album—as evidenced by the signature musicianship and dramatic vocal expressions. But it's also a hopeful record, with phrasings, textures, and chord changes that hint at something better—or fuller—coming our way. It was a tough and troublesome time. But look at what has come of it: Yeti Season—a record of high and heavy drama, but also one of hope and promise. "It may take a year like 2020 behind us to find hope in a winter big footed creature like a Yeti, but that's where we are," says El Michels Affair...

April 13, 2021

Kurious "Built To Last" (Mix)

Back with another mix from France's Built To Last radio show, this time paying tribute to Kurious Jorge. The Puerto Rican and Cuban MC released a gem of an album in 1994 entitled A Constipated Monkey. Signed to Columbia Records via Pete Nice and Bobbito's Hoppoh Records imprint, the album is celebrated by underground heads and influenced many artists that came after him. Since the passing of MF Doom, I have noticed a lot more love being shown to Kurious - which is great - as he appeared on 1999's Operation Doomsday. On the label at the same time as Nas was set to drop his debut opus, Illmatic, and The Fugees were touring for Blunted On Reality, maybe Kurious didn't garner that same level of stardom, but no doubt his debut album was an impactful record stylistically, certainly to me. Good peoples, too! Props to Corrado and the whole Built to Last crew for this tribute, dig into the mix and hit the archives below for a lot more of their dope tributes...

April 12, 2021

Take It Personal Podcast "A Tribute to Mafioso Rap"

The Take It Personal podcast is back with another gem! On Episode 83, the crew pays tribute to "Mafioso" rap. Incorporating some of their favorite Sopranos scenes throughout the show, they uniquely pay respects to the lost and limited art of "true" mafioso rap. There is only one Godfather and that is Kool G. Rap, so, naturally Episode 83 is laced with plenty of his best mafia influenced tracks, but they also show love to the mid-90s where lyricists like AZ, Jay-Z, Nas, Big Pun, Fat Joe, The Lox, Biggie and Raekwon did the sub-genre the best. Plus, the crew joins Johnny Calzone in a wiseguy version of name that tune. "Crack open a bottle of red, razor slice your garlic, grab some gabagool and remember, leave the guns, take the cannoli's," they say. Sold... Enjoy the show below!

April 11, 2021

The Foundation "Large Professor Tribute" (Mix)

The Foundation, a musical journey into the origins of some of our most powerful and popular music today, is designed to educate the listener on the jazz, funk, soul, and disco artists mostly from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, whose voices and instruments were sampled directly to help make some of the most creative hip-hop beats ever heard. For this episode, they pay tribute to the legendary Xtra P, Large Professor. In the mix, you'll hear all Xtra P production, rhymes, remixes and original samples. As they say, "listen to some Queens soundscapes as we pay respect to a legend!" Dig into it below...

April 10, 2021

Crimeapple "YDFWC?" (Album Stream)

New Jersey's Crimeapple is back yet again with his latest 11-track offering, YDFWC?. The LP features one guest appearance from Primo Profit, as well as production from Buck Dudley, Sebb Bash, HouseShoes, Michaelangelo, Brown13 and ANIMOSS. Pitchfork shares, "Born to Colombian parents and raised in northern New Jersey, Crimeapple finds himself, like many Latinos, between worlds. He made a bilingual rap record in MedellĂ­n with DJ Muggs (Medallo) but is still seen as an outsider in the country of his birth. Crime knows he’s a gringo (“I’m not Latino enough for Telemundo,” he raps on “Carrington Event”) but still spits in Spanglish. He remains independent—with a distribution deal through the Orchard—and generally seems unconcerned with breaking into the overground, let alone the mainstream. The man just raps really well, and somehow, that’s enough." Yes, it's more than enough for me! Listen to Crimeapple's new LP YDFWC? below and cop the vinyl...

April 10, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Company Flow Part 2" (Podcast)

On this episode of What Had Happened Was (Season 2), El-P breaks down Company Flow's classic underground album, the Funcrusher Plus LP. He discusses the origins of his unique approach to production and the changes between the EP version and the final commercial release; the alchemy of "The Fire in Which You Burn," and the disagreements that eventually led to the dissolution of the group. Yup, follow these great stories and settle in for another dope episode of the podcast below...

April 09, 2021

Rest In Peace, Earl "DMX" Simmons!

DMX, a rapper known as much for his troubles as his music, has died, his family announced in a statement. He was 50. "We are deeply saddened to announce today that our loved one, DMX, birth name of Earl Simmons, passed away at 50-years-old at White Plains Hospital with his family by his side after being placed on life support for the past few days," family's statement read in part. "Earl was a warrior who fought till the very end," the family continued. "He loved his family with all of his heart and we cherish the times we spent with him." The artist had been hospitalized since last week when he suffered a heart attack at his home in New York, according to his longtime attorney, Murray Richman. - CNN. I've kept my thoughts in a draft waiting to find the right words, but they never came... Fortunately, the homie Big Ghost once again put to words what I couldn't... "Fame is a funny thing... By not really knowing the people who we become fans of n start to admire n sometimes idolize...we start to form our own ideas, opinions, perceptions, n misconceptions about em. I mean...the people in our actual daily lives can be hard to figure out... You probably got friends n family members that you think you KNOW...but does that really always mean you know em LIKE THAT? You got superheroes in comics who got secret identities... We see em without the masks or costumes. We see both sides of the em. We see the shit they think about in the little speech bubble clouds n whatever. We even get origin stories. So now we can guess every move they make next? Nah.. people are complicated. Even fictional ones. But real people... thats real complexity. When you add celebrity n (super)stardom to the mix...you get fed a public persona, stories, tabloid rumors, sanitized PR spins, straight up lies etc etc. As far as DMX...he lived his life in the public eye. He was open about a lot of it. We saw the rawness...the flaws...the tragedies...the wins...the glory... But did we know him? Did anybody? I really wanted to shift the focus from his troubles to the triumphs...to the happier moments of his public life. To the acts of kindness he displayed. To the love he showed others. Countless times. But access to social media makes that kinda hard to do. For every word of praise you see for DMX you can find at least two words from mfs who want it to be known that he was NOT in fact a perfect saint... That he was a drug addict or always going to jail for some shit he didnt need to really be going to jail for...that he invested money unwisely...that he had mad children by different women...that you should save your prayers for somebody who more worthy of your concern. But damn. What is prayer for if it aint for sinners? Is that not the idea? If we only ever grieved for the faultless there would be nobody to mourn in this world. Get it right tho.. DMX wasnt perfect. He was great. One love Earl." It hurts to say... R.I.P., DMX. Photos: Jonathan Mannion.

April 08, 2021

Busta Rhymes "The Coming" (25th Ann. Mix by DJ Filthy Rich)

Toronto's DJ Filthy Rich returns with his latest anniversary mix... this time honoring the 25th Anniversary of Busta Rhymes' classic debut album, The Coming from 1996. Filthy Rich's mix features unique blends, remixes, loosies, original samples and more. Clocking in at just under an hour, you'll also hear vocals from Rampage the Last Boy Scout, A Tribe Called Quest, Zhane, Jamal, Redman, Keith Murray and others. When you think of longevity in hip-hop, classic verses, and an artist who has continued to reinvent himself with hits crossing multiple decades, Busta Rhymes is one of the very first MCs that should come to your mind. Give that man his flowers and peep the mix below...

April 07, 2021

DAS EFX "Dead Serious" (Press Kit)

NOT. That is the only word that will wipe away your assumptions, expectations, and comparisons. DAS EFX, like a multi-million dollar film, laced with special EFX, must be experienced, NOT described, discussed, or analyzed. Dray and Skoob are NOT simply blessed with rap skills like Grand Puba, or Busta Rhymes. They do NOT simply rap with turbo speed like Treach or Wise Intelligent. They have created a style, which many will imitate, but NOT many will succeed. DAS EFX, (an acronym for "Dray and Skoob EFX"), is a style that could easily be bottled and sold. But instead they have cornered the market with 11 diggedy-dope tracks on their debut album, Dead Serious. The question is who would dare try to do this themselves? Just like a high EFX stunt in a film, people should probably NOT try this at home. Dray, (aka Krazy Drayz), says of their sound, "Our music is with a lot of effects. The style is so unique, a lot of people think it's one person rhyming." His partner in rhyme, Skoob (aka Books), reveals what he thinks is the key to their style. "We have a little secret. What it is, we were away from Hip Hop. We were in Virginia, going to Virginia State so I guess by NOT being exposed to what was going on up here, our style developed so differently. I think that had a big effect." "We were exposed to NO rap shows...at all," says Dray.  Revisit their debut LP, cont'd below...

DAS EFX got "here" via a rap content held in Richmond, that EPMD was judging. The club was a "hole in the wall." Their hopes raised with the sight of Erick and Parrish walking in. The show began and groups were getting scores as high as 7's, 8's, and 9's. When it was their turn to go up, they heard cynics commenting on their dreadlocks. "De La Soul look-alikes," they heard rumbling through the crowd. They got busy, and the crowd warmed up. "I remember glancing back and seeing Erick in the seat jammin' next to Parrish. We finished and our scores were mad high. Parrish pulled me to the side and said 'Before you leave, gimme your phone number.'" When it was time to announce the winners, it was NOT them. "We were like, 'That's it, we're about to graduate. Forget rap,'" says Dray. Then, Parrish walked across the stage and he leaned over and whispered into his ear, "Would you rather have the $100 or a record deal?" The record deal, and the rest is DAS EFX. Cont'd below...

The first rickety-rockin' single, "They Want EFX," is a slippery, funky tracks with the DAS EFX in full effect. The humorous and playful rhyme runs from engine-run rhymes to slowed-down acapella chanting to a razor sharp hook that will bob your head without you knowing. Dray says, "We don't just like writing two sentences that rhyme together. We like taking one idea from one place and put in another. How many years has it been that if somebody wants to rhyme, the last word of the first sentence rhymes with the last word of the second sentence. We'd rather make the first word rhyme with the third word, and the last word rhyme with the first word of the second sentence, and two in the middle, and, if you can, let's get another word that rhymes with the first word and still have the last ending word rhyme." DAS EFX is the dawn of a new age in rap music. Not since the Native Tongues movement has such unbridled creativity been unearthed. Dray and Skoob have one hope, "We want to bring entertainment back to it. Let's make it fun again. We want to have fun with it. I want to be able to listen to my own stuff and enjoy it." Like their mentors EPMD once said, rap is finally outta control. "So tiggedy tell your friends that here comes DAS EFX." - Press Kit, '91.

April 06, 2021

Cousin Feo & Bohemia Lynch "Yakitori" (EP Stream)

The South Central LA born and raised Cousin Feo continues his prolific pace with yet another fine release, an EP entitled YAKITORI with production by Bohemia Lynch. The 6-track EP has been released by Frank's Vinyl and speaking of the vinyl, if you're hoping to cop one, chances are slim none at this point. Proving that his fanbase is strong and the rep grows bigga, Feo comfortably settles into his niche with this EP. His approach is direct-to-fan and his childhood influences of black, El Salvadorian and Guatemalan roots play heavy into his love for hip-hop and soccer. I'm already late posting it, but if you haven't already...dig in and listen to Cousin Feo's Yakitori EP below...

April 05, 2021

Nas & Madlib "I Am...Naslib" (Mixtape)

Jimmy Green drops off this latest mix, blending two legendary artists: Nas and Madlib. I Am...Naslib reimagines Nas' vocals from I Am... with beats by the eclectic beatsmith, Madlib. Today I saw a debate on my brother RappinandSnackin's IG about whether or not I Am... was a classic - surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of his followers contended it was a classic. Erroneous! Now, I Am... one of the biggest Nas fans there is, but I was also there from that album's rollout, leak, release and the mediocre responses that went along with it. A couple of the worst tracks in his entire catalog are included on I Am... so I'd say far from a classic, but still an enjoyable listen when you remove the stretch marks and questionable features/production. Enter Madlib and Jimmy Green's remakes for this project, giving new life to these Nas vocals. I Am... here for it, listen below...

April 04, 2021

Mello Music Group "Bushido" (Album Stream)

In feudal Japan, the Bushido Code defined the way of the samurai. It was a blueprint to conduct warfare with honor: a system built upon the qualities of rectitude and courage, honor and loyalty. In the modern world, these historical tenets may seem antiquated, or sometimes even obsolete. But the power of tradition is resolute and unyielding. The art of the rugged drum and the razor tongued rap are timeless. After a decade in the music business, Mello Music Group has witnessed the dealings and promises of the record industry. Running counter-clockwise to the mainstream ethic, Mello has settled on its own code of conduct and value system. Their catalogue is a practical and spiritual guide to the essence. While the sounds are varied, an MMG release ensures that the art comes first, the artists are religiously devoted to the upholding of standards and values. This is Bushido, the latest Mello Music compilation gathering the current roster and the label’s closest brethren. This isn’t merely an anthology, it’s a fully formed vision of what hip-hop can be. A meticulously assembled arsenal of past, present, and future. The album includes production from The Alchemist, The Lasso, L'Orange, Kensaye Russell, Oddisee, Elaquent, Iman Omari, Quelle Chris, Namir Blade, Apollo Brown, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Eric Lau, Nottz, !llmind. It also features Quelle Chris, Open Mike Eagle, Solemn Brigham, Homeboy Sandman, Oddisee, Zackey Force Funk, Skyzoo, Namir Blade, James Shahan, Joell Ortiz, Dueling Experts (Recognize Ali & Verbal Kent), Stalley, RJ Payne, Murs, Cambatta, Kool Keith, B-Real, and The Perceptionists. Hear Bushido streaming below...

April 03, 2021

The Boom Bap Show "Don't Sleep Records" (Mix)

The Boom Bap Show pays tribute to Don't Sleep Records with this latest mix. Started by Phoniks and Awon, Don't Sleep Records is one of my favorite independent labels putting out music today. Their art and come-up have been documented in the docu-film Underdogs and amassed a solid fanbase through their many releases. The mix features tracks from Awon, Phoniks, Dephlow, Peebs the Prophet, Tiff The Gift, Mz Boom Bap, Anti-Lilly and more. Please make it a point to dig into the archives below for all the releases on Don't Sleep Records since I've been posting music to this site.

April 02, 2021

Bahamadia "Kollage" (April 2, 1996)

The Philly jawn with the blowout 'fro and La-Z-Boy flow is one of the most slept-on MCs to demolish a cipher - male or female - and was revered as underground royalty before ever releasing a record. With a delivery so laid-back, it's easy to imagine her gutting a cigar before laying down the tracks for her debut album, Kollage. The album's soulful soundscape -- etched with funk-filled valleys and jazzy peaks -- was constructed by Ski Beatz ("Uknowhowwedu") and fellow Illadelph crew The Roots ("Da Jawn"). On "Innovation" she muses, "Flame combustion / Thrustin' new versions of verses / Over kids heads like halos / Bendin' they brain cells like indon-o-va-shun." Simply scintillating. - Vibe (August, 2008). CMJ added (in June, 1996), "With the simple and supremely funky production of DJ Premier, N.O. Joe and the Beatminerz, Bahamadia raps with a conversational style, relying on poetic, instinctive rhymes, as on the bass-jacked "Word Play" and "Spontaneity." "I Confess" plays off Marvin Gaye's "Lets Get It On" for one of the album's poppiest moments, while "Uknowhowwedu" is a shapely tribute to Philly's hip-hop roots. Speaking of roots, fellow Philly natives the Roots add a dose of live funk on "Da Jawn," while Bahamadia dukes it out with MCs Black Thought and Malik. Packed with easily digestible rhymes and a peerless production, Kollage unquestionably chalks one up for the ladies." Revisit Bahamadia's classic debut album Kollage below...

The review in Vibe + original sticker from 1996 are below...

April 02, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Company Flow Part 1" (Podcast)

What Had Happened Was has finally returned for a second season! To kick it off, Open Mike Eagle sits down with this season's guest, El-P, to dig into El's early life leading up to his first recordings and the forming of the seminal underground rap group, Company Flow. Along the way we hear the story of his first encounter with the music business and how that informed the ’independent as f*ck’ aesthetic of his early releases. El-P and Open Mike Eagle then explore the record label bidding war that lands the group at legendary underground label Rawkus Records. This was easily my favorite podcast last season, so I'm equally exited to dive into Season 2. Listen along with me below...