December 24, 2021

Nas "Magic" (Album Stream)

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

December 22, 2021

Cookin' Soul "Wu Xmas" (Album Stream)

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

December 21, 2021

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

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

December 19, 2021

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

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

December 16, 2021

Chino XL "Built To Last" (Mix)

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

December 15, 2021

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

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

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

December 14, 2021

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

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

December 13, 2021

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

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

December 11, 2021

Happy Born Day, Mos Def! (Playlist)

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

Happy Born Day, Might Mos Def!

December 10, 2021

Russ "Chomp 2" (Album Stream)

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

December 09, 2021

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

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

December 08, 2021

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

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

December 07, 2021

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

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

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

December 06, 2021

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

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

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

December 05, 2021

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

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

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

December 04, 2021

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

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

December 03, 2021

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

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

December 02, 2021

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

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

December 01, 2021

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

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