May 31, 2021

Apathy "Where The River Meets The Sea" (Album Stream)

The trials and tribulations of real life tends to bring out the best in artists. Hearing the maturation of emcees in real time brings us closer to their experience, and reminds us of ours. Apathy is no exception to this rule. After losing his father to cancer, becoming a father of two, and dealing with life’s ills, he proves to be a skilled navigator on the river of life. Apathy's 7th studio album, "Where The River Meets The Sea", is not only a geographical nod to his origins, but also a metaphor for the long winding journey through life which ultimately leads to the cosmic sea of eternity. No stranger to hip hop aesthetics however, Ap can’t resist flexing his lyrical ability on braggadocio laden tracks, ensuring he delivers an album for his fans across the board. The LP features Styles P, Lil Fame, Snak The Ripper, Chris Webby, Pep Love, Tajai (of Souls of Mischief), ANoyd, Hayze, plus vocalists Brevi and Bennett. Production by Apathy, Stu Bangas & Teddy Roxpin. Listen to Apathy's latest LP below...

May 30, 2021

Brock Berrigan "Smooth Sailing" (Instrumental Album)

Smooth Sailing is the latest intsrumental album from beat maker, music enthusiast and multi-instrumentalist, Brock Berrigan. The LP features 15 instrumentals and if you've appreciated his back catalog or a first-time listener, it's certainly a smooth listen. He shares the following message along with its release, "Making this album really helped me keep sane during Covid. Put a lot into this project and am happy I can finally share it all with you. Pour yourself a drink, sit back, and enjoy."

May 29, 2021

DMX "Exodus" (Album Stream)

Exodus is the first posthumous studio album from DMX, who passed away on April 9th of this year. Released through Def Jam Records, it is also X's first studio album since his 2012 effort, Undisputed. DMX boasted in his Drink Champs interview that there would be several impressive features and he wasn't lying as the album has features from The LOX, Jay-Z, Nas, Alicia Keys, Bono, Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher, Conway The Machine, Snoop Dogg, Usher and more. "That's My Dog" comes out the gate knockin' hard, even with Swizz's vocals which are completely unforgettable, and there ARE tracks that keep the album movin', but I'd be lying if I didn't say it FEELS rushed. What do you think? It's great to hear DMX, even if it feels bittersweet. Rest in Peace, Dark Man X!

May 28, 2021

38 Spesh & Benny The Butcher "Trust The Sopranos" (Album Stream)

38 Spesh and Benny The Butcher have brought together their respective labels (TCF and BSF) for a compilation entitled Trust The Sopranos. This monumental meeting of the minds features potent verses from Benny The Butcher, 38 Spesh, Elcamino, Ransom, Che Noir, Klass Murda, Heem, RickHyde, Chase Fetti, Ampichino, and Street Justice. As well as production from an all-star line-up which includes 38 Spesh, RickHyde, DJ Shay, IceRocks, Buda + Grandz, Corty Tez, and Reddy Roc. The album boasts the hit singles "Immunity,” “Spineless,” and “Love Left.” Listen to the project below...

May 27, 2021

DeJoe "In The Mix" (Presented by 90's Tapes)

Berlin-based hip-hop record label and imprint of HHV, 90's Tapes is introducing a new mix series titlted, In The Mix. In their own words, "We want to present more and more DJs from our community and crew to show support.... The first participant is Berlin's finest and legendary graffiti artist DeJoe from SOS / TDS / SBB / N3M. He lives the hip-hop culture 100% and has been kicking walls, trains and the ones and twos since the 80s. Play loud and feel the vibe!" Their mix features tracks from Godfather Don, Adagio!, Boogiemonsters, Mathematik, Baltimore's K-Mack, The B.L.U.N.T.E.D. Crew, Originoo Gun Clappaz, Science of Sound, Lost Boyz, The Nonce, Hi-Tech, Keith Murray, Da Bush Babees, Kool G Rap, Cella Dwellas, and more! Peep the mix from 90's Tapes below...

May 27, 2021

Asun Eastwood "The S.O.U.L." (Album Stream)

The S.O.U.L. is the latest LP from Canadian eMCee, Asun Eastwood. Reuniting with producer Finn, The S.O.U.L. (Science of Understanding Life) features the homie Ill Conscious, Daniel Son, Rigz, Flee Lord,  Saipher Soze, M.A.V., and more. Some of the features are dope, others are a bit lackluster, but overall it doesn't take much away from the project. The production is real solid throughout with soulful boombap-inspired soundscapes. The album is available on CD and Vinyl via Gold Era up in Toronto, ON. Dig into the archives for other related projects as this new crop of eMCees are definitely doing their thing consistently. Honestly, I'm still getting put on to the back catalog. Dig in...

May 26, 2021

David Bars & Mono En Stereo "B=MC2" (Album Stream)

B=MC2 is the latest offering from D.I.T.C. affiliate David Bars. The production on the LP is entirely done by NYC's Mono En Stereo. With some Jazz-infused (sample based) hip-hop and traditional NYC boombap, D Bars delivers yet another stellar offering. I always love hearing lyricists over piano-laced beats, reminds me of a young Kool G Rap in his prime. I know that the Diggin' In The Crates crew was putting a lot of time and collaborative energy behind David Bars, but I don't know the current status of that relationship. Hopefully it's still a go, because having that cosign is a huge push! Either way, listen below to this solid collaborative LP B=MC2 from the Bronx MC, David Bars...

May 26, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Run The Jewels Part 1" (Podcast)

Off the heels of producing Killer Mike's breakthrough album R.A.P. Music in 2012, El-P and Killer Mike decided to join forces for an entire project that was intended to be a one-off. This is the story of their reinvention/evolution in forming the duo that would change both of their careers: Run the Jewels! Are you not entertained? Tune into this latest episode of Open Mike Eagle's What Had Happened Was podcast below and absolutely hit the archives for all of the past episodes too...

May 25, 2021

The Day I Fell Off... Kinda!

With J-Live's "The Day I Fell Off" on repeat in the background, I acknowledge that I've fallen off a lot... I can't remember the last time I consistently posted to my Instagram account, logged into Twitter and I've never even bothered to settle into a Tik Tok account (I'm happy about that decision, by the way). However, little do some of you know - ok, none of you know this - I do still create drafts in my blogger platform to one day edit and post to this site. Sometimes, like is the case today, they get backlogged and sometimes I'll make a post live that was started two months ago. Then poof, there'll be a bunch of posts that you missed, because I went back and completed them. Yup, for the sake of continuity I still try to create a new blog post every day, you just might have to go back if it wasn't live on that exact date. Fortunately the drafts keeps a fairly decent record of things, as long as I don't f#ck around with it too much (which I've mistakenly done once or twice). All that said, if you've been curious what I've been listening to or thinking about musically, you can go back in the archives and check it out. I'm almost caught up, but not quite! There's also a bunch of new items going live on the Hip Hop Nostalgia online store shortly: new books, pins, posters, and more. When you do it because you want to, the rules kinda go out the window... ok?!?!

May 24, 2021

Czarface & MF DOOM "Super What?" (Album Stream)

"Superhero? Supervillain? Super WHAT? CZARFACE & MF DOOM's newest team-up record is, much like the Avengers' arch-enemy Thanos...inevitable (and all-powerful!). The icon MF DOOM unleashes his wizardry and wordplay throughout the record, while CZARFACE (bolstered by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and Esoteric) slash through each of the Czar-Keys' produced tracks as the team raises the bar on their previous LP, Czarface meets Metalface (2018). Featuring golden-age superhero DMC (of RUN-DMC) and Hieroglyphics' leader Del the Funky Homosapien, with art by longtime CZARFACE co-creator Lamour Supreme, this album will bring all the thrills of a cosmic summer blockbuster. Recorded and slated for an early 2020 release, and paused while COVID raged, this collaboration of masked men is finally finding its way to you on vinyl." - Silver Age. Dig in...

May 23, 2021

Eminem "The Marshall Mathers LP" (May 23, 2000)

Eminem’s 1999 triple-platinum major-label debut, The Slim Shady LP, was a shot in hip-hop’s arm, the grand entrance of a hurricane dressed as a Detroit kid with major-league skills and a potential mental disorder. This time out, he’s more funny and much more scary. On The Marshall Mathers LP he hits you with the lyrical complexity and detailed narratives of Biggie, the hilarious, is-he-kidding-or-not button-pushing of Howard Stern, the disaffected angry-white-boy-ness of Fight Club and the fearless, kill-me-if-you-can energy of Tupac. He has a macabre imagination to rival Satan’s and an incredible ability to create new rhyme patterns. He has a frightening proclivity to spit venom one moment and humor the next, and a never-ending slew of jaw-dropping punch lines.... Expect, during this summer of Shady, to hear Marshall Mathers following you around the hip-hop nation, flowing from boomboxes, trucks and lips the same way Dre’s The Chronic, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... and B.I.G.’s Life After Death once did. You may find Eminem popping out of your own mouth, because he’s the most quotable MC alive, both consistently funny and ridiculously far over the top. He rarely uses the same rhyme pattern twice, and he changes his vocal style again and again on Marshall Mathers, often in the space of one verse — he uses six different voices in one stretch of “Criminal.” Dr. Dre and partner-of-late Mel-Man produced much of the album, while Eminem and his Detroit crew, F.B.T., handled most of the rest. The sound shifts between slick, bright, melodic funk that’s so R&B-ish, you can dance to it (“Who Knew,” “The Real Slimy Shady”) and slow, driving, outrageous-bass hardcore raw hip-hop made for cruising (“Amityville,” “I’m Back”). Seven years after The Chronic and fourteen after the dawn of N.W.A, Dre is that legendary coach taking a third different team to a national title, still making your head hurt from all the nodding, still crazy dope after all these years.... The Marshall Mathers LP is a car-crash record: loud, wild, dangerous, out of control, grotesque, unsettling. It’s also impossible to pull your ears away from. - Rolling Stone, 2000.

Is The Marshall Mathers LP his best album to date?

May 22, 2021

Configa & DJ Views "The Year After" (Album Stream)

The Year After is a collaborative album between acclaimed producer Configa and newcomer, DJ Views. Their 12-track album features many titans of the underground and some raw up-and-coming talent as well. A few of the standout tracks include "Funeral March" with Chino XL; "Live Comfortably" with Ras Kass, Melly-Mel and Akrobatik, and "Dangerous on the Ave" with Planet Asia, Pace Won and Nine. Other features include Termanology, Ruste Juxx, Crooked I, Speech of Arrested Development, Craig G, El Da Sensei, John Robinson, 4-Ize and lots more. Reppin' out of Tokyo, Japan, their project, The Year After, may have gone below your radar, but stop and give it a listen below...

May 22, 2021

Tony Touch "Hip Hop 46" (Mixtape, 1995)

Hip Hop #46 from Tony Touch is another golden era gem of a tape. It features tracks from Raekwon, Cella Dwellas, Blahzay Blahzay, Mobb Deep, Heather B, KRS-One, Das EFX, Onyx, Masta Ace, Grand Puba, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool G Rap, Special Ed, Rakim, Keith Murray, Redman & Method Man, Showbiz & AG, Guru, and lots more. Ya know Tony Touch's mixes are always on point and come with some exclusive freestyles to sweeten the deal and make them worthy of revisiting time and again. I'm about to give this tape some more burn, check out Hip Hop 46 with me below...

May 21, 2021

What Had Happened Was "Cancer 4 Cure" (Podcast)

In 2012 -- after the dissolution of his record label Def Jux and the death of his friend and collaborator Camu Tao (Rest In Peace) -- El-P released his third solo album, Cancer 4 Cure. The album chronicles El-P at one of his lowest points, and though he made the album thinking it might be his last project, it changed the course of his entire career. Listen to stories about that project and lots more on this latest episode of Open Mike Eagle's What Had Happened Was podcast...

May 20, 2021

J. Cole "The Off-Season" (Album Stream)

J. Cole’s sixth album, “The Off-Season,” is filled with songs that convey triumph and relief, reanalyzing close calls. Big-money rapper talk is subverted by introspective tracks that rehash the deadly daily gamble of the life he avoided. To capture the extreme adversity of his upbringing, Cole returns to his favorite metaphor, the aspiring athlete—a decision that suits the album’s fanfare. Despite the bluster, the violent scenes of Cole’s youth are more evocative than any of the victory celebrations, and the comfort that money affords him is usually revealed to be a remedy for trauma. By taking an inquisitive position and reliving every dodged bullet that could’ve put his dream on ice, Cole not only restores gravity to his raps but grants himself command of his narrative. - Sheldon Pearce. Some of the features don't pull me in, but the Pharoahe flip and other tracks surely do. Cole is a gifted lyricist and he makes solid music for the mainstream audience. Dig into it...

May 19, 2021

DMX "It's Dark and Hell Is Hot" (May 19, 1998)

A rough-toned Yonkers MC who debuted with hometown friends the LOX on a DJ Clue mix-tape, DMX hit the big time in early 1998 when his single "Get at Me Dog" became a club and radio smash. The rapper had first appeared seven years earlier however, in an "Unsigned Hype" column by The Source back in 1991. He was signed to Columbia a few years later, but the deal fell through before recording had even begun. DMX guested on tracks by LL Cool J, Mase and Mic Geronimo (among others), then signed to Def Jam in 1997. His debut album It's Dark and Hell Is Hot debuted at number one in May 1998, and eventually sold platinum four times over. A startling debut, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot catapulted DMX to instantaneous icon status. Before even listening to the album, DMX's persona pervades via the album title and the cover art. And as one song succeeds another, it quickly becomes evident that DMX's most impressive talent isn't so much his lyrics, or his flow, or his songwriting, or his producers; these are all impressive, no doubt, but it is his dramatic stance as the ideological zenith of urban manhood that makes his music so potent. It's no coincidence that DMX stands tattooed and shirtless on his album cover with a grim expression and high-held face--it's all part of his well-crafted persona. On "Intro," he introduces himself via an extended monologue that seems more of an imposing threat than an introduction. Next comes "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," a simple yet powerful summation of his ethic, followed by one song after another that similarly explores DMX's diametric world of dogs and bitches, heaven and hell, respect and pity, power and weakness, and so on. Not only is this persona crafted with perfection, but it's also accompanied by a myriad of talents: DMX's rousing lyrics, aggressive flow, sincere delivery, and producers Swizz Beatz and Dame Grease's inventive beats are all dazzling. - All Music Guide, '02. X's '98 press Kit is HERE.

Rest In Peace, Dark Max X...

May 18, 2021

DJ Format & Mr. Thing "Holy Shit" (Mixtape, 2007)

Holy Shit is a mix of religious breaks, beats and music discovered mostly in charity shops and bargain bins of record shops over a number of years. DJ Format had been planning to do a mix of some of his weird and wonderful religious records for years and when he connected with Mr Thing... they decided to team up and do a mix together and Holy Shit was the result in 2007. Although some of the music is top quality and was cut up in a B-boy style, the mix was definitely supposed to be fun... hence the Monty Python bits! In DJ Format's own words, "The term 'Religious Record' could mean a religious artist on a religious record label that had an unusually funky moment or it could mean a regular artist or group (not usually associated with the religious genre) that do a cover version of a song about God or Jesus i.e. 'Put Your Hand In The Hand' is a religious song covered by many different artists and quite often has a nice open drum break at the start of the song. Ps... There's a 1 minute silence at the end of the mix before a secret bonus track comes in at the end. This was deliberately done on the original CD for fun... rather than it being a manufacturing fault like some people (idiots who returned the CD as faulty!) seemed to think." Listen to the Holy Shit mix below...

May 17, 2021

DJ Eclipse & DJ Premier "Roc Raida Tribute" (9-21-09)

On Sept. 19, 37-year-old turntablist legend and father of four (Roc Raida) died of complications stemming from an unlikely martial-arts accident that had taken place a few weeks earlier. The Harlem-bred DJ's fingerprints are all over the golden era of New York hip-hop. He toured with Kool G Rap, Lord Finesse and Busta Rhymes, and provided scratches for the refrains of underground hits such as OC's "Time's Up" and The Artifacts' "C'mon Wit the Git Down." As a member of the acclaimed collective X-Men, Raida spent the first half of the '90s working the battle DJ circuit. Turntablism, as it came to be called, was a composition- and performance-oriented form of DJing. Where scratching was once used to augment songs, turntablists used it as a primary instrument. New rhythms and even melodies were crafted in real time out of record fragments. Raida's routines, in particular, were as physical and personality-driven as they were musical. He performed rhythmic body tricks with absolute finesse, scratching with his nose or catching a record after performing a full body spin. He would eventually be crowned DMC World Champion in 1995. "Raida was one of those battle DJs [whose] name will stand the test of time," says his X-Men groupmate Rob Swift. 

"People will always study him in their own pursuit of a championship. It's like, if you want to be a good boxer, a champion, you study what Muhammad Ali did." After winning the championship, Raida evolved into an elder statesman on the DJ circuit. On the night of Sept. 3, while in a class for the Israeli defense system known as Krav Maga, his sparring partner landed on top of Raida's spinal cord, by his neck. Details are vague as to what exactly happened — Raida said he remembered nothing — but given that he was a longtime practitioner of the discipline (it's easy to see parallels between it and the precision of his body tricks), it was likely just an unfortunate accident. Whatever the case, it left Raida paralyzed from the waist down. Two surgeries were performed in the weeks that followed, and Raida was moved to a Maryland rehab facility, where his condition appeared to improve. Rob Swift and a carload of friends and X-Men alumni made the trip down from New York on Sept. 18. "His spirits were up," Swift says. "He was like, 'Yo, they're gonna teach me how to get into my wheelchair, and I can cruise around the rehab facility on my own. He just seemed really upbeat. When we left, we all hugged him and said our goodbyes. It was as if we thought we'd see [him] next week." The next morning, Raida went into cardiac arrest and died. But his legacy and influence remain. "I've started to incorporate his [routines] in my set as a tribute to him," Swift says. "That's what he left us with." Carey concurs. "He's influenced a generation of MCs and DJs that [are] gonna come up and do the things he's shown them," he says. "His energy cannot be destroyed. He's still here." - NPR (11/09). Roc Raida would've celebrated his born day today, but we celebrate it in his absence with this tribute from DJ Eclipse and DJ Premier at APT on September 21, 2009 (two days after Roc Raida passed away). Our legends live on in the music and continue to inspire us...

May 16, 2021

Wojavelli "Best of Rawcotiks" (Mixtape)

Rawcotiks is a duo consisting of Dominican MCs from Washington Heights. In the mid-90s-early 2000s, they released a grip of really solid, independent hip-hop by way of 12" releases. This era owes a lot of its props to vinyl shops like Fat Beats and underground radio (props to Stretch & Bobbito). Many know Rawcotiks from the DJ Premier-produced remix to their track "Hardcore Hip-Hop," but their cut "Going All Out" was surely my favorite at the time. If you dig in their catalog and listen to this mixtape, you'll hear joints produced by JuJu, The Mighty V.I.C., DJ Honda, Noodles, No ID, and obviously Premo and the Beatnuts as a collective. Props to Wojavelli for shining light back on these NY cats... there's plenty to appreciate in his mix below + hit the archives for more mixtapes...

May 15, 2021

Ice Cube "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" (Spin Magazine, 1990)

To the Bomb Squad's Eric "Vietnam" Sadler, the Ice Cube of AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was an intense, thoughtful, personable guy with a heavy Southern accent and a relentless work ethic. To the rest of the world, the ex-N.W.A. frontman was the n!gg@ they loved to hate. With N.W.A., Cube's formidable storytelling ability enjoyed a sonic backdrop as incendiary as his rhymes. After an acrimonious split from the "world's most dangerous group," Cube hooked up with Public Enemy's legendary production team. "Dre had changed the game as far as the rugged street sort of vibe," says Sadler. "So we had to one-up them, and do the best work we had ever done." The Bomb Squad and Cube's crew, Da Lench Mob, worked 20 hours a day for 26 days straight, trying to make sure Cube not only came with it, but came with it before N.W.A. released their next single. The internal and external pressure produced a roiling, thunderous work that hits all the glandular response buttons--repulsing with violent misogyny ("You Can't Fade Me") and seducing with super-literary tales from the 'hood ("Once Upon a Time in the Projects"). "I know we're all addicted to sex and violence," Cube said in 1993, "but you've got to put some knowledge on top of that, so you can get the medicine you need to fight this beast we've got to fight." AmeriKKKa's "knowledge" is ugly--but combined with the Bomb Squad's unparalleled production, it was frighteningly undeniable." - Spin (September, 1999). Revisit Ice Cube's debut (solo) studio album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, below...

Arguably the strongest solo run and one of the best albums PERIOD...

May 14, 2021

What Had Happened Was "R.A.P. Music" (Podcast)

In this episode of What Had Happened Was, El-P tells the story of the LP that serves as the origin of Run The Jewels. In 2012, Williams Street Records (part of Adult Swim) paired El with Killer Mike to produce an album. The bombastic LP combined the sounds of both artists and changed the course of both of their careers in its wake. The pairing of El-P and Killer Mike has been genre-bending and extremely successful, learn more about its origin and hit the archives for more below...

May 13, 2021

Chris Read "Nineties Dancehall Hip-Hop" (Bonus Mix)

The Classic Material ‘bonus’ mixes fill the gaps in the original Classic Material Hip Hop History mixtape series, exploring specific sub genres or spin off genres not covered in the main series. #6 delves into Mid 90s Dancehall Hip Hop, the pairing of Ragga/Dancehall vocals with classic Hip Hop production. "The mix features artists who hung their hat on that particular fusion (Mad Lion, Bobby Konders), Hip Hop styled remixes of Dancehall cuts (see DJ Muggs’ remix of Danny Red), Dancehall artists who vocalled Hip Hop beats (Mega Banton, Lady Apache), pairings of Dancehall Acapellas with Hip Hop production from the era exclusive to this mix and similar pairings put together by others (thanks Matt Nelkin). The date range of ’91-99 is slightly misleading – most of the action really occurs around ’92-95 and the tracks all boast the classic Early to Mid 90s production sound. Tracks from either end of the decade are really outliers (there’s only one track from ’91 or ’99 and none at all from ’98 for example). As with previous editions, the artwork is a pastiche of a popular sleeve from the era, in this case Nervous/Wreck‘s ‘Weeded‘ sub-label, responsible for the imprint’s more Reggae influenced output and several of the tracks on this mix." Another fire mix, listen to it below...

May 12, 2021

Shabazz The Disciple "Built To Last" (Mix)

France's Built to Last radio is back with another fine tribute to add to their growing catalog... for their latest episode, they show love to underground icon, Shabazz The Disciple from Red Hook, Brooklyn. The 24-track mix features tracks alongside his crew Sunz of Man, Gravediggaz, Freestyle & D-Stroy of the Arsonists, Nine, Lord Jamar and more. "Death By The Penalty," "Crime Saga" and "Diary Of a Madman" are just a few of the underground gems you'll hear on the mix. Much respect to Corrado for keeping the culture alive out in France. Listen to the latest Built To Last mix below...

May 11, 2021

KMD "Black Bastards" (Article from May 11, 1994)

Time Warner-owned labels seem to be dropping as many rappers as they sign these days. Latest to get the boot is KMD, cut in April by Elektra after the group submitted cover art for its "Black Bastards" album. The cover, drawn by member Zev Love X, shows a white man in blackface being lynched. Described as a commentary on "whites misappropriating black culture," the drawing, according to a spokesman for KMD, "represented the hanging of stereotypes. It was a parody of the game 'Hangman' -- you get it wrong enough times and you die." Jackie Martinez, head of KMD's Hit U Off Management, says the group, which included a small "Sambo" caricature on the cover of its debut album, "Mr. Hood," was addressing "what (black) people were once portrayed as, nothing more than that. The artwork is just the opposite of what people interpreted it to be." Apparently, that explanation didn't wash with Elektra executives, who also rejected KMD's offer to change the cover. According to a statement by the label, "the imagery has exacerbated existing concerns within Elektra, and a decision has been made that it is best that the record be taken in its intended form elsewhere. We do not wish to tamper with KMD's statement by asking them to change it." "That they were dropped is totally ridiculous," says Martinez. "Time Warner apparently did not want to deal with another Ice-T incident," she said. A furor arose in 1992 over Ice-T's "Cop Killer" follow-up, "Home Invasion," leading to a boycott of Time Warner companies and stock divestment by several law enforcement unions. "They just want to avoid any kind of controversy. In order to not have it come to that, the quickest way is to just drop the artists. At this point, KMD is not signed to anyone." Lynching images are hardly new to rap album covers, much less to rap lyrics. The cover for the 1992 Public Enemy single, "Hazy Shade of Criminal," featured the infamous news photo of the August 1930 lynching of two black men in Marion, Ind.; Kool G Rap and DJ Polo's "Live and Let Die" featured Rottweilers and two hooded black men about to pull chairs from under two noosed-up whites. - Washington Post (May 11, 1994). Below are scans from KMD's special, deluxe edition release of Black Bastards with tons of additional information about the album, the controversial cover art, group members and a lot more. R.I.P. Subroc and MF DOOM. Props to Pete Nice and Dante Ross.

May 10, 2021

Take It Personal Podcast "Mos Def Tribute"

If there was a poster that defined the indie hip-hop movement, it would have the face of The Mighty Mos Def on it. Whether you first heard him on "My Kung Fu," "The Love Song" or "Stakes Is High Remix," you immediately knew what you heard was special. We're talking a generational talent. Mos Def had the voice, the sound, the style, the charm, the humor, the endless stories and the ability to spit bars as great as singing those melodic hooks. A real dual-threat. Triple-threat when you factor in his acting chops. If LL Cool J is the face of Def Jam, Mos Def is the face of Rawkus. He breathed new life into hip-hop in the late 90s. Mos was the last Jedi able to carry on that Native Tongues torch. On Episode 85, the Take It Personal crew cover the catalog, the guest spots and discuss their favorite Mos Def moments. Enjoy another great episode of their podcast below...

May 09, 2021

Mad Lion "Real Ting" (May 9, 1995)

Released on May 9, 1995 on Weeded / Nervous Records, “Real Ting” entered the Billboard Reggae Album Chart at No 1, and was the source of two massssssive singles, “Take It Easy” and “Shoot To Kill,” that are both signature classics of the Hip Hop / Reggae format that blew up the streets in the 90’s! The album was produced by hip Hop legend - The Blastmaster KRS-One. Additional singles included "Double Trouble" (I prefer the Third World remix not included on the album), "Own Destiny" and the title track, "Real Ting." Released on Weeded Records (Nervous Records), the label alone attracted listeners, none of which were disappointed by the major singles and the album as a whole in 1995. In the mid-90s, I used to run the instrumental to Mad Lion's "Take It Easy" to test the speakers when I'd set them up for DJ gigs, lol. You probably haven't peep'd it in a minute, do it now...

May 08, 2021

Happy Born Day, Chris Lighty! (Mogul, 2017)

In the new Spotify-exclusive series Mogul: The Life & Death of Chris Lighty, Ossé chronicles the rise and tragic fall of one of hip-hop's most beloved and pivotal industry executives through in-depth interviews with the former celebrity clients, family and friends who knew him best. A collaborative production between Loud Speakers and Gimlet Media (Startup), Mogul is the first major foray into narrative storytelling for a hip-hop podcast. It's also the result of a cross-pollination between two digital media companies with very different core audiences and platforms — one known for producing personality-driven shows with in-depth interviews and loose talk for urban listeners, the other spawned from the public radio world where journalistic, serial storytelling is prized. The result is a six-part series that dives deep into the groundbreaking success and questionable death of a figure as instrumental to hip-hop's mainstream dominance as the stars whose careers he guided. More than an artist manager, Lighty was a street legend who "fought his way from the Bronx to the boardroom to become one of the most powerful players in hip-hop...."

Lighty's own transformation reflected hip-hop's origin story as the culture rose from the concrete jungle of the South Bronx, where white flight, urban decay, poverty and gangs left a void ripe for rebirth. True to his roots from the streets to the suites, Lighty would use the name of his former crew of hard rocks, the Violators, to brand his eventual Violator Management company and later, Violator Records. A shortlist of his clients reads like a roll call for hip-hop's hall of fame: A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, 50 Cent and so on. Because he was of the culture, too, he earned a reputation as a manager who spoke his artists' language and translated it into monumental deals. But it's Lighty's tragic passing, ruled a suicide in 2012, that makes his story similar to so many hip-hop icons whose deaths remain mysterious. It also made unearthing the details of his life that much harder. With the first two episodes, Ossé talked about why making Mogul was such a scary endeavor, how he gained the trust of those closest to Lighty who were reluctant to participate, and what he hopes this narrative endeavor could mean for the future of hip-hop podcasting. - NPR (2017). Rest In Peace to Chris Lighty and Reggie Ossé (Combat Jack), two amazing brothers that the world surely misses as their impact continues to be felt to this very day. My heart remains truly heavy, but this series is a masterpiece in hip-hop journalism.

May 07, 2021

Dr. Octagon "Dr. Octagonecologyst" (May 7, 1996)

Change is not a thing that flows by itself, but a plant to be cultivated and watered with the care of a wailing soul. This is the freshest, most creative, forward-thinking hip-hop adventure to emerge from the bowls of US minds in years. On the mic is the psychologically unstable Kool Keith ('armed with seven rounds of space-doo-doo crystals') of the Ultramagnetic MCs, while the seemingly poisoned beats come from various underground producers and DMC Battle Champs, like Q-Bert and the Automator. If The Roots and Dr. Octagon aren't the most next millenium hip-hop joints around in mid-1996, I don't know who is. This is one of those albums that takes a long time, open ears and a full pull on a big bong. Who said he could go ahead and break every rule every written on lyrical delivery? And where has Keith been hiding these last three years? Kool Keith at his most off-the-deep-end state in recording history, but like Poppa Large says on "Earth People", I was born on Jupiter, New York and California - so is this fucking record! Intense, creepy, exhilarating and brilliant. A left-field lyrical first in the history of hip-hop. Warning: A frontal lobotomy may be necessary after your first listening. See if you can follow it. - Revisit Kool Keith's off-the-wall classic below...

The above is as accurate today as it was when it was written in 1996.

May 06, 2021

Cordae "Just Until..." (EP Stream)

Cordae returns with a slick little 4-track EP simply entitled, Just Until... Formerly called YBN Cordae, the Maryland MC features a really dope stand-out single with Q-Tip called "More Life," which I heard on the radio the other day (I don't listen to the radio much), or else I wouldn't have known this project even existed. I didn't have to look much further than that track to consider this EP a success... in my eyes. His debut in 2019, The Lost Boy, was (surprisingly) one of my favorite mainstream releases that year, so I'd consider his sophomore effort to be highly anticipated. I guess it's taking longer than expected, but if you're open to it, this EP will hold you over, just until...