August 15, 2022

Royce Da 5'9 "The Heaven Experience, Vol.1" (Album Stream)

After spending over two decades establishing himself as a beast on the beat, the 45-year-old Royce Da 5'9 has put together some of his greatest hits in one place, including solo tracks like “I’m Good” and “Dead Presidents Heads,” as well as collaborations like “Rock City” featuring Eminem and “I Play Forever” with Grafh. Royce appears to be a fan of his past work with Slim Shady, as he also placed “Caterpillar” with the Detroit native and King Green on his latest arrival, The Heaven Experience Volume 1. Other artists featured include Big K.R.I.T., and Pusha T and Rick Ross who both appear on “Layers.” On top of the new album, the rapper also confirmed in a recent interview with HipHopDX that he’s been busy working on his eighth studio album, which he plans to move away from his usual “dark” subject matter on. “I’ve been mulling over some ideas,” Royce teased at the time. “I think I know what I’m going to do next project-wise. I don’t necessarily want to say right now just in case it ends up changing. But I have been working in a couple different directions. But, yeah. I’m definitely working on music, especially now that I’m in a better mental space.” Stream Royce Da 5'9's new compilation project below, and thanks to HNHH for news of its official release...

August 14, 2022

N.W.A. "100 Miles and Runnin'" (August 14, 1990)

Released almost two years after the seminal Straight Outta Compton and a little less than a year before the flawed N!ggaz4life, 100 Miles and Runnin' effectively accomplishes what an EP should. It both built upon the lingering hype that had surrounded Straight Outta Compton and foreshadowed the N!ggaz4life-era N.W.A., a group that had grown increasingly dissident yet also much wiser after experiencing seemingly endless controversy. This EP's title track remains one of the group's best moments, and with the MTV-aired video picturing them fleeing from police, it was a fitting song for N.W.A. to release at the time; furthermore, the song's thick, heavy production showcases rather brilliantly the fact that Dr. Dre had furthered his production talents immensely. Though perhaps hard to stomach for some, "Just Don't Bite It" is anything but forgettable, with Eazy-E's and MC Ren's prerogatives transcending farce and heading into much more potent territory, making this they group's most amusing (in a sense) yet also its most effectively disturbing venture into misogynistic porno rap. The next song, "Sa Prize, Pt.2" functions as a sequel to "F#ck Tha Police" while "Real N!ggaz" then provides a sample of the racial belligerence that would fill the first half of N!ggaz4life and "Kamurshol" promotes the upcoming album over a foreboding beat. Poignantly employing a heavy use of cinematic skits in addition to the songs themselves, 100 Miles and Runnin' showcases N.W.A.'s strengths succinctly, balancing them perfectly across just five songs, each representing different aspects of the group's tainted ideology. Any more in almost too much -- as would arguably be the case with N!ggaz4life. - Old School Rap and Hip-Hop. Revisit the EP below...

Overshadowed by Amerikka's Most Wanted and Kill at Will but still...

August 13, 2022

Cypress Hill "Cypress Hill" (August 13, 1991)

Cypress Hill wants to get two things straight. First, because of their name, many people think they're from Brooklyn; they're not. Cypress Hill refers to Cypress Street in Southgate, a section of Los Angeles about five minutes from Watts and South Central. Actually, it's not really a hill, but as Sen Dog (one of Cypress Hill's rappers) says, "you can't tell us it's not Cypress Hill. We love that street. We've got rock and rollers, we got rappers, we got singers. We take good care of it, too. We don't let anyone come in and mess it up writing graffiti all over the place or anything like that." Or, as B-Real (the group's other rapper) adds, "'Cypress Hill' means we're on top. We have to be on top of business whether it's business of hip-hop or the business of the block." Speaking of "the block" brings up the second possible misconception: While these tough times -- on the mean streets of L.A. in particular -- are reflected in their lyrics, Cypress Hill is not another pseudo-gangsta act from Southern California. "We're not just some more brothers from Compton," explains B-Real, "and some of them aren't even from there, anyway." "Yeah, they've never gangbanged because their moms would let them," Sen Dog quickly adds, laughing. "They want to pump out second-hand information that they never even went through," B-Real continues. "Everything on our record is from our own experience. We don't want to teach you, we don't want to preach to you. We want to be known as funky awareness: first, you've got to be funky, and then it's hardcore awareness, revolving a story around our experiences or our homeboys' experiences." Cypress Hill, their self-titled debut album, is shaped by this group ethic of funky awareness. The record is full of their real-life experiences, and with DJ Mixmaster Muggs' incredibly funky, clever beats and samples, it's bound to raise eyebrows.... 

"Pigs," a rowdy singalong dedicated to some of Cypress Hill's "best friends," is reminiscent of the childhood nursery rhyme ("this little pig went to market"). Wrapped around a lazy, swaggering bass-line, the lyric stance on "Pigs" does not represent the group leaping onto anyone's bandwagon. "We get harassed by the police all the time because we look like gangbangers," says Muggs. "They tell me my tires are too flat, or we match someone's description. I've heard every possible excuse three or four times, not just once." Where "Pigs" is spare and casual, "Kill A Man" rushes at you with a stomping drum beat, peppered by high-pitched horns and random shouts. It would be very easy to look at the title and dismiss the track as ultra-violent, but that's not the point. As Sen Dog explains, "It's not about killing a man, but it's about understanding how one kid could do that. We don't glorify it." Again, B-Real has put his own experiences into the groove. "You know 'Kill A Man' when I go, 'Say some punk tried to get you for your auto/what are you gonna one time play the role model/no, I think you play like a thug.' Well the other night someone did try to steal my car. That happens all the time." Throughout the album, Cypress Hill makes one innovative contribution after another in the hip-hop artform. Check out B-Real's crazy, but engaging vocal style, or the "Duke of Earl" sample at the beginning of "Hand On a Pump"; or the live bass, percussion and guitar on the Spanglish "Latin Lingo." In this age of anti-drug hysteria, Cypress Hill also has the honesty to endorse one of their favorite pasttimes "on the record," with "Light Another" + "Blunted." Cont'd...

One of the reasons that the Cypress Hill album is so comfortable, engaging and inventive is that the members aren't newcomers to the hip-hop scene. Co-writer, lyricist and background rapper, 25-year old Sen Dog was born in Cuba and moved to Southgate at age 14. Sen comes from a very musical family.... Ever since he was young, Sen, his brothers and sisters were stars of the local church choir. After dropping out of high school in 1981, Sen started a group with his brother, Mellow Man Ace called DVX, and invented the Spanglish, Latin lingo style. Some time before Mellow Man Ace embarked on a solo career, he and Sen were joined in DVX by a young, gifted writer named B-Real. Now Cypress Hill's lead rapper, 21-year old B-Real has lived in Los Angeles all his life. For as long as he can remember, his biggest dream was to be a writer or a journalist. B-Real would spend hours in class writing essays and poems, but eventually he was turned off by school and dropped out. "A lot of the things they teach you in school are watered down. That's why I left..." Soon, B-Real's desire to write led him to hip-hop. "I guess I'm a writer now... If you're writing what you feel and if it's getting out, then you're accomplishing what you want...." Soon, Sen and Ace decided to pair B-Real with another young hip-hopper, a DJ and producer named Mixmaster Muggs. Mixmaster Muggs moved to Southgate from Queens right before he started high school. In Queens, he was heavily into breakdancing which led to his DJ-ing... Even though he is only 22 years old, Muggs was down with East Coast hip-hop from the beginning, back in the days when the Treacherous Three, Funky Four Plus One and Run-DMC ruled the day. In tenth grade, Muggs bought his first piece of equipment (a set of Technics 1200's)... After coming to L.A., he briefly hooked up with B-Real; Muggs was also the cornerstone of 7A3, who had a song on the "Colors" movie soundtrack. Soon after, Muggs left 7A3 and began laying down tracks for Cypress Hill. In its present configuration, Cypress Hill has been working together for three years. - Press Kit, 1991. Today marks another anniversary for this classic album! Dig back into it and more from Cypress Hill in the extensive archives below...

August 12, 2022

Black Thought & Danger Mouse "Cheat Codes" (Album Stream)

The natural chemistry between Brian (Danger Mouse) and Tariq (Black Thought) comes through in the ease with which the artist and listener move through this album. Moreover, Cheat Codes is an album untethered to any genre, era or trend — uncategoriseable and timeless. It is the sound of the pair observing their own culture and asking questions they still may not have the answers to. Brian Burton (AKA one half of Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, and Karen O & Danger Mouse — and universally regarded as the most versatile producer in modern music) has found a formidable new partner in the incomparably prolific rapper Tariq Trotter - rapper, MC & co-founder of The Roots, film and theater actor, producer, writer or, as Hypebeast sums up: "one of the best lyricists in hip-hop history." Cheat Codes is Danger Mouse’s first hip-hop album in seventeen years - since his 2005 DangerDOOM collaboration with the late, great MF DOOM - and Black Thought’s only full length collaboration beyond his pioneering music in The Roots. I was almost hesitant to click play and listen -- with such high expectations in place -- be better than me and click play immediately...

August 11, 2022

Happy 49th Birthday, Hip-Hop (The Source, 1993)

In 1993, The Source Magazine celebrated its 50th issue with well-known hip-hop personalities taking a walk down memory lane. They asked each of them their favorite album of all-time, their favorite 12-inch of all-time and their fondest hip-hop moment. As you can imagine, most of them found it hard to pick just one of each! As today marks the 49th birthday of Hip-Hop, I thought it'd be a fun way to celebrate and look back at what artists had to say were some of their favorite albums, singles and moments in their hip-hop lives. Maybe by the end of reading this, I'll share some of my own, too! Yeah that sounds like fun... Well, my favorite hip-hop album of all-time is "Illmatic" by Nas, "The Low End Theory" by A Tribe Called Quest and more recently, Blu & Exile's "Below the Heavens" to add something post-2000. My favorite 12" singles would be "Protect Ya Neck" bw "Method Man" by Wu-Tang Clan; AZ's "Sugar Hill" and "Rather Unique" and Eric B. & Rakim's "Know The Ledge (Juice)" from 1992. My favorite hip-hop moment... that's so hard to narrow down. One of the Rock Steady Crew anniversaries; going up to DJ Premier's show with Eternia on Sirius and he cut up records for 2 hours; after hours at Fat Beats on Halloween and Christmas parties; the Knitting Factory with Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, and so many others. I can't narrow it down. I really can't. Hip-Hop has given us all so much, to know it'll be celebrating 50 years in 2023, I can't wait to see what the culture does to honor it. Anyhow, read below for answers from Casual, Positive K, Too Short, MC Eight, Maseo, Luke, Masta Ace, Biz Markie (R.I.P.), Red Alert, 2Pac (R.I.P.), DJ Quik, Jam Master Jay (R.I.P.), MC Shan, Craig G, Heavy D (R.I.P.), Kool G Rap, Fab Five Freddy, Fat Joe, KRS-One, MC Serch, Scarface, Chuck D, DIamond D, Common, Sadat X and many more.... HBD!!!!

August 10, 2022

Shyne "Godfather Buried Alive" (August 10, 2004)

In July 2004, Billboard said, "This summer may end up as the season of Shyne. The MC, now imprisoned for assault, was once viewed as the future of Bad Boy Records. He re-emerges with a multimillion dollar deal with Def Jam Records for his Gangland imprint. "More or Less" is the first offering from Shyne's highly anticipated album, Godfather Buried Alive," due Aug. 10. The single's haunting track, which samples Lamont Dozier's "Rose," serves as a backdrop for Shyne's booming voice. Lyrically, he showcases his honed, thought-provoking writing skills: 'Hip-hop ain't responsible for violence in America/America is responsible for violence in America... The schools didn't want me/So, the drug dealers taught me/Simple math/Step on it twice and bring it back.' R&B programmers have been slow to champion this single. Expect that to change. Soon." Shyne was found guilty of gun possession and sentenced to 10 years in prison for the now infamous shooting incident at Club New York in December 1999 in which three people were wounded. Billboard also shared in a later article, "Shyne is one of hip-hop's most controversial stars. Given his previous affiliations with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and his current imprisonment, the Brooklyn N.Y.-based MC has been through a lot in the past few years. It's no wonder, then, that "Godfather Buried Alive," his second set and first for Gangland/Def Jam, has been so eagerly anticipated. Shyne still knows how to strike a hardcore stance, as evidenced on the lead single, the Kanye West-produced, Lamont Dozier-sampling "More or Less." On "Jimmy Choo," which features Ashanti, Shyne shows his softer side. Cont'd below....

"Other highlights include "For The Record" (which is aimed at 50 Cent) and the East Coast Gangsta mix of "Behind the Walls" featuring Kurupt and Nate Dogg. However, Shyne is at his most impressive when he is contemplative, as on the melancholic "Martyr," where his reflections on life and death have real emotion." In 2006, Vibe reported, "Citing New York's revised "Son of Sam' law preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes, a judge freezes royalties from 2004's Godfather Buried Alive as well as Shyne's $500,000 Island Def Jam advance. Shyne reportedly sought a release from his label after clashing with L.A. Reid over poor promotion for his album." Vibe's earlier review said, "Godfather Buried Alive pieces together the political possibilities and the street arrogance of a pre-jailed Shyne," and rumored a supergroup of the "Firm proportions" between Shyne, Jay-Z and Foxy Brown. What would you have thought of that? Different, coulda been ill, who knows! Revisit it...

August 09, 2022

Gravediggaz "6 Feet Deep" (August 9, 1994)

The video for "Diary of a Madman" by the rap band the Gravediggaz includes a warning that the clip does not condone Satanism or blasphemy; the video for "Live Evil" by the Flatlinerz depicts members of the hip hop band rapping from the inside of a grave, and the video for "Hellbound" by the Almighty RSO takes the deaths of the band members as a starting point and climaxes when the rapper E. Devious is shown with the mark of the Devil, 666, shaved into his head. With gangsta rap having exhausted nearly every imaginable murder scenario, a new breed of rappers is taking hip-hop beyond the grave. Some call this development horrorcore because it uses horror film as metaphors for ghetto life. Others prefer the term death rap because the genre takes hip-hop to musical and lyrical extremes in the same way that death metal bands like Obituary and Carcass bring rock to a boiling point. To a certain degree, both death metal and death rap try to escape from reality, offering nihilism as a cure-all. But in doing so, both end up commenting on a reality so grim and alienating that the only direction its outcasts turn is toward darkness. The fans of the two genres find comfort in fantasy, in finding a collective myth for their private pain. Unlike heavy metal, rap has had death on its agenda since its inception. The genre's earliest tracks were usually counterbalanced by cautionary tales of drugs and shootings. Rap has also always looked to horror films to conjure a quick image, from the Sugar Hill Gang dropping "Rapper's Delight" to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince parodying Freddy Krueger in 1988's "Nightmare on My Street." Cont'd below...

A few years ago, rap and death metal began to recognize that they were sitting on opposite sides of the same cell wall. Public Enemy sampled the Satanist band Slayer, Ice-T collaborated with them on the soundtrack for the horror film, "Judgment Night," and Cypress Hill put a Gothic-looking graveyard on the cover of its latest album, "Black Sunday." Not until this year, however, have hip-hop bands been willing to complete their move from the streets to the graveyards. "I'm the resurrector," the Gravediggaz rap on their first album, "6 Feet Deep." "Be my sacrifice. Commit suicide, and I'll bring you back to life." For those who cross the Gravediggaz, a band made up of members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Too Poetic, De La Soul and Stetsasonic, death is only the beginning of their punishment. "First I'll assassinate 'em," they rap on "Diary of a Madman." "And then I cremate 'em, and take all of his... ashes and evaporate 'em." Citing suspense-film directors from Alfred Hitchcock to Wes Craven and displaying an impressive knowledge of anatomy, the Gravediggaz rap about means of dismemberment, rituals of exorcisms and torments of hell. They never credit heavy metal as an influence, but "Diary of a Madman:" is also the title of a 1981 Ozzy Osbourne album and the song "Bang Your Head" borrows its name from the 1984 Quiet Riot metal album. Musically, death rap is developing its own repertory and cliches. The Gravediggaz use creaking doors and howling wolves as rhythm tracks and often rap in a cartoonish, exaggerated style. - New York Times (October, 1994). RZA and Prince Paul were such an amazing combination on 6 Feet Deep!

August 08, 2022

MC Shan "Down By Law" (August 8, 1987)

There was a time when the Juice Crew were running things, and truly believed that nobody could compete with them. MC Shan embodied that belief, with his braggadocio rhymes and "battle anybody" attitude. Overflowing with confidence, Shan has been a well-rounded emcee since he first showed up on wax in 1985, coming correct whether he was story telling, free styling, or kicking some of the most impressive extended metaphors in Hip Hop history. Shan's bio shares, "MC Shan, Shawn Moltke, is one of the freshest, most intelligent and coolest rap stylists and innovators to "rock the mic viciously" in recent memory. His professional character is partly one of pure virtuosity, and partly one of exciting showmanship. His debut album on Cold Chillin' Records, Down By Law, surpassed the 150,000 unit mark last summer with virtually no airplay. Ever since going out on the road with Roxanne Shante in 1985, without benefit of a record, the word on the street has been that MC Shan is a serious performer who can fire up basic human instincts, like humor, romantic sentiment, and a strong desire for something essentially hip and physically intoxicating. Over the past couple of years, he has unleashed a torrential outpouring of fresh def jams, including "The Marley Scratch," "The Bridge," and the preachy but funny anti-crack rap, "Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing," all produced by main Homeboy, and blood cousin, Marlon "Marley Marl" Williams. His 12-inch "The Bridge," a tribute to the Queensbridge Projects in Queens, NY, was the subject of a hilarious answer record called "The Bridge Is Over." Prior to signing with Cold Chillin', MC Shan built a following with releases on Nia, MCA and Bridge Records. Cont'd below + revisit Down By Law...

For some background story, the 1990 press bio also shares: "In 1983, Shan was a devilishly wicked street brat, with a big chip on his shoulder, and a series of misdemeanors longer than a New York City crosstown block. "I was a hood," he says today. "I was lucky I didn't have a police record. One time I was so young when I stole a car that, the cops refused to believe that I did it. I never committed any felonies." Our juvenile delinquent's salvation and ascent up the ladder of stardom began on a Brooklyn street on Halloween night, 1983, when rap manager Tyrone Williams, now Chairman of Cold Chillin' Records, caught him breaking into his car." It also says that while Williams didn't turn him over to the police, he did kick Shan's ass, understandably. For an artist that is considered one Nas' earliest influences, Shan also had Suede Puma designed after him, a "Rap Quotes" sign in Queensbridge, a double-disc reissue of Down By Law, as well as a highly publicized interview on Noreaga and DJ EFN's acclaimed podcast, Drink Champs. In the interview, MC Shan went deep into his feelings on the culture, his come-up, successes, failures and of course, his beef with KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions. The showman is still very much inside of Shan as he took over the interview and really gave us a look at the man and the artist. You can watch that interview HERE, plus dig in the archives for more interviews/content from MC Shan, a true pioneer! 

August 07, 2022

Jadakiss "Kiss Da Game Goodbye" (August 7, 2001)

In terms of sheer anticipation, Jadakiss' buzz was at an apex at the time of this album's release. While fellow LOX members Sheek and Styles flashed improved flows and lyrics on their group's sophomore strike, We Are the Streets, Jadakiss remained the group's undisputed frontman. And with the streets virtually foaming at the mouth, Jadakiss returned from the lab to birth his solo debut, Kiss tha Game Goodbye on this day in August, 2001. The majority of reviews -- including the above-referenced review in AllMusic -- found it ironic that the crew jumped ship from Diddy to get away from the shiny suits, then Jada went directly after mainstream attention with his debut. Surely he woulda had a better chance at that just sticking it out with Puff? Yes/No/Maybe? That's not to knock the harder album cuts on here, such as the Alchemist-produced "We Gonna Make It," featuring Styles; the DJ Premier-blessed "None of Y'all Betta," featuring Styles and Sheek; and "Feel Me", also produced by The Alchemist, among others. While Styles P remained closer to the independent route, Jada was always more comfortable taking those mainstream budgets and making it happen -- even if it meant sacrificing his chances at having a true "classic." In the Rhyme & Reason article below, Jada said it in his own words when discussing "What You Ride For?": "There's something for everybody." That's straight label talk. West Coast, Down South; an Aerosmith remake and more, there's a lot going on with this album. You can read more about the various cuts below...

In the case of "None of Y'all Better," Jada says, "You know you can't make a classic album without using Premo. He's like the god of producers. We made it a LOX song because nobody better than the LOX." 100% facts, gotta have a DJ Premier beat! For "Feel Me," he shares, "That's like a personal joint that I'm giving people. Everybody wanna know a little something about your life. That's 40 bars of just me spillin' my guts out." For "We Gonna Make It," he says, "I had to do that one. That's like more of my element right there. I pulled out Alchemist. I was feeling it. That was my first time ever meeting him. I threw my man Styles P on there. You know, Jadakiss and Styles collaboration." Then there's "Knock Yourself Out," where I cram to understand, "Everybody always come up to me and ask me when I wanted to do a song for the clubs, for the ladies. That was the politics of the whole thing." On the flip-side is the Nas-assisted, "Show Discipline," which Jadakiss describes: "I just wanted to do a hard joint, real hard, for the "hood." I wanted Nas on there. My own vintage, that's all that is." If nothing else, Jada knows how to keep it simple, stupid. Dig into the full Rhyme & Reason article and more below + of course, revisit Jadakiss' Kiss Da Game Goodbye today! D-Block!

August 06, 2022

Jay-Z vs. Nas (Angie Martinez Interview on Hot 97, 2002)

August 2002: Jay-Z took over Hot 97 for several hours over a two-day period to sound off on all his naysayers. For two consecutive days, Jay-Z guested on Angie Martinez's afternoon show, speaking out on rumors of civil unrest within the Roc-A-Fella camp -- which he scoffed at, insisting, "How could I leave the Roc? I am the Roc" -- as well as his falling-out with former mentor Jaz-O. More significant, though, was Jay-Z's reaction to the ongoing beef with rapper Nas. Echoing a challenge that he made in the The Source magazine, Jigga suggested that the two rivals settle their differences with a pay-per-view rhyme battle. He added that each party could pony up $1 million for the wager, with all event proceeds going to a charity of the winner's choice. By day two of Jay's marathon interview, he reported that boxing promoter Don King had already faxed in a proposal to organize the event. - MTV. Nas responded saying the contest should be decided in record stores, not on TV. ”Pay-per-view is for wrestlers and boxers. I make records,” he told MTV. ”If Jay-Z wants to battle, he should drop his album the same day I do and let the people decide.” Jay-Z was scheduled to release ”The Blueprint 2” on November 5th, 2 weeks before Nas released ”God’s Son.” 


In the interview, they discuss when Nas flirted with idea of signing with Irv Gotti to Murder Inc. A decision that Irv later regretted, as he was also the producer on "Super Ugly" for Hov during that battle. Jay-Z said of the battle with Nas, "It's wrestling," alluding to the fact that it's just music. Jay-Z explained that he's not a perfect human being, and owned that he went too far with certain things he said. But, "people clash at the top," so as competitive artists, that's just where things went. Then they jump into a discussion about the battle: the pay-per-view funds/proceeds and tickets at the door (Madison Square Garden?) would have gotten to charity, with only the $1 million they each put up, going to the winner. A show with 3 freestyles from each MC, but "they gotta be vicious." He added, if anyone felt a way AFTER the battle, they could've gone to a gym, "put on some head gear", go 3 more rounds as men and go separate ways. Additionally, they discussed Jaz-O, R. Kelly, Cam'ron, Dame Dash and more. Ultimately, it's bigger than hip-hop and they squashed their beef, but all these years later, Hov still petty AF, if you ask me. A special moment in hip-hop!

August 06, 2022

Widowmaker vs. D-Styles "Fair Warning" (Instrumental Album)

With production from Widowmaker and live cuts by D-Styles, Fair Warning, is their collaborative effort boasting over 20 tracks. Side A is produced by Widowmaker and D-Styles and Side B is drum breaks and skratch music kits, recored between October, 2020 and March, 2021 at Midschool in Gresham, Oregon and The Shit Palace in Las Vegas, NV. I was impressed with Widowmaker's production on two separate collaborative projects; one with Ayatollah titled Colossus (2015) and the other with the homie, Big Ghost Ltd., titled An Open Tomb (2020). D-Styles is a producer and DJ, most known as a member of Invisbl Skratch Piklz, Beat Junkies and Third Sight. An incredible artist, he's been featured on countless projects over the years! This is a fun listen, dig into the LP below...

August 05, 2022

Raekwon Defends ODB's Memory (Rock The Bells, 2006)

On the night of August 5, 2006, Steve-O attended the "Rock The Bells IV" Hip-Hop Festival in San Bernardino, California. The concert was headlined by the Wu-Tang Clan and the event was organized as a tribute to clan member Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.). While on stage with the Wu-Tang, Steve-O proceeded to show his affection for ODB by getting nude, tucking his penis between his legs and doing a back flip... while Ol' Dirty's mom was in attendance. Raekwon took to the mic and expressed his ill-feelings on the incident and threatened to knock him out if he didn't apologize. That night, a member in attendance shared more about the incident: "Wu-Tang was one of many acts to grace the stage at the show, and during their tribute to ODB, for some reason, STEVE-O from Jackass comes out on stage and embarrasses himself and disgraces ODB (in front of his mother no less) by doing a "dirty stunt" ... claiming that he wanted to do it because he was recently locked in the same jail cell that ODB stayed in at one point in L.A. county jail. Steve-O proceeded to pull off his clothes (surrounded by all remaining members of the WU and in front of an ODB painting) and tuck his 'ish behind his legs and do a backflip... Afterwards the RZA made a comment about Steve-O belonging in a Zoo, then went on with the show... but a couple songs later, Raekwon brought Steve-O front and center and told him over the mic that if he didn't apologize for the disgusting display, he would knock him out on the spot. With a trembling voice, Steve-O apologized to the Wu-Tang and ODB's mother, much to the approval of the crowd." Of course, there's video of the incident, and Raekwon later addressed it in a 2013 VladTV interview, as well, where Rae shared: "Rest In Peace, my brother... I was livid... My brother dead and THIS is what you're doing? And you got his mother there... Is you crazy? N!gg@s coulda bit his face off!" Rest In Peace, Ol' Dirty Bastard. Salute, Raekwon the Chef!

Original flyer for Rock The Bells IV, 2006...

August 05, 2022

DJ Clue "The 4,5,6 Goin' For Broke" (Mixtape, 1996)

Right now, I'm revisiting DJ Clue’s 1996 mix-tape, The 4,5,6 Goin’ For Broke. DJ Clue set it off with a freestyle with Nas and Nature, then classics from Mobb Deep, Ghostface Killah, Lil’ Kim, Akinyele, KRS-One, Nas, Keith Murray, Capone-N-Noreaga, M.O.P., Raekwon and another freestyle from Jay-Z. On the B-Side, Clue smoothes it on the R&B tip with tracks from 112, Keith Sweat, D’Angelo, Monica, and Mona Lisa before jumping back into hip-hop with other cuts from Dr. Dre, Redman, McGruff, Big Noyd and more. I remember the first time I heard Mobb Deep's "Drop A Gem On Em," and thinking they came correct going at 2Pac. They pushed the song to radio and had plans to do a video, but then 2Pac died, and rightfully so, they switched the single to the title track from Hell On Earth. Nevertheless, smart as he was, DJ Clue front-loaded all of his mix-tapes with the rawest shit and set it off lovely! It was definitely a moment, so dig back into The 4,5,6 Goin' For Broke below... 

August 04, 2022

Insane Prophet "Brooklyn Zoo: The Legend of Iceberg Slim" (2017)

Brooklyn Zoo: The Legend of Iceberg Slim is a mash-up mixtape with vocals from one of the greatest MCs of all time, Jay-Z, and beats from one of the most influential music groups EVER, the Wu-Tang Clan. While it was uncredited on the CD bootlegs, the mash-ups were done by The Insane Prophet, who also took vocals from The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, 2Pac, DMX, Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Lil' Wanye, Ghostface Killah and Ol' Dirty Bastard to put together this exceptional project in 2017. The following year (2018), he also released a project re-imagining Nas rhyming over the classic beats to Biggie's Ready To Die, aptly titled "Ready to Illmatic." These kinds of projects--when done properly--are a true labor of love, and this was absolutely done well, so dig into it below and look out for a follow-up post about that Ready To Illmatic when I revisit that one as well. Dig into it...

August 03, 2022

Statik Selektah "Yeezy Duz It: The Sole of Kanye West"

To celebrate the launch of the Yeezy 450 'Utility Black,' Atmos USA enlisted the talented DJ/producer Statik Selektah for this special hour-long mixtape titled, Yeezy Duz It: The Sole of Kanye West. Statik does it proper mixing some classics together with rare versions and unreleased joints! In his own words, "The genius of Ye will be put on full display here and it's an honor, being a fan since the beginning to working with him in Hawaii on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. There will be special moments on this tape. It also brings me back to my mixtape roots when I would do similar style mixes for Nas, John Legend, Akon and many more." An excellent job by Statitk Selektah and the artwork is dope, too. Dig into Yeezy Duz It: The Sole of Kanye West below, and keep in mind, I have NO clue what the Yeezy 450 'Utility Black' are, but definitely cop those if that's your thing?

August 03, 2022

Brock Berrigan "Breaking Bad" (Instrumental Album)

Producer extraordinaire Brock Berrigan has cooked up 15 instrumentals for his latest offering, Breaking Bread. In his own words, "I tried to encapsulate the feeling of hiking canyons and the desert in solitude into audio form for this album. Put over a year of my life into this project and am very happy with how it all came together. Sit back and enjoy." Perhaps you can't relate to hiking canyons (or solitude lol), but you can feel these beats. With an exceptional back catalog of music -- many of which you can dig into in the archives -- Breaking Bread is another fine instrumental album. A little less drum heavy, but more reflective and smoothed-out. Artwork by Ian Klarer. Dig into it...

August 02, 2022

Wojavelli "Wojavelli All Stars" (Ragga Hip-Hop Mixtape)

Philadelphia's Wojavelli drops off his latest mixtape, a Ragga Hip-Hop remix tape entitled, Wojavelli All Stars (I don't know why). Here, all "refixes' are done by Wojavelli and feature tracks from Bounty Killer, Baby Cham, Capleton, Beenie Man, Funkmaster Flex & the Ghetto Celebs, Super Cat, Red Rat, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel and more. Lots of dope blends/remixes on this one and if you're looking for more, dancehall-inspired tapes, dig in the archives or click through for several other dancehall mixes done by Wojavelli. While you're at it, check out tribute tapes for Mase, Fat Joe, The Beatnuts, Rawcotiks, The Alcehmist and more. All his mixes are critical, so listen to Wojavelli All Stars below...

August 01, 2022

Raekwon "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." (August 1, 1995)

Damn, where's Mr. T when you need him? This is the part where he's supposed to come in and bark, "I pity the fool who don't get down with Raekwon's shit!" If I were Catholic, I'd probably have to say a zillion Hail Mary's and another thousand whatchamacallits for being a nonbeliever of the might Chef's skills. But consider me born-again after tasting Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., his solo enchilada. It's banging. Who said that gangsta rappers are a West Coast phenomenon? Built builds an engrossing epic of cinematic proportions, complete with cocaine snorts, gun blasts, protecting the corner spot, sex-for-the-sport-of-it and, well, more gun blasts. Only this is all from a God's perspective. The dimension this adds to the proceedings is a dynamic one -- you get inside the minds of Lou Diamonds and Tony Starks (Raekwon and Ghostface's new aliases) and see the complexity of their plight (best exemplified in the astonishing "Criminology," the booming remix of "Can It Be," "Spot Rushers" and "Knowledge God"). Much like the main character of Cain in Menace II Society and Biggie in his Ready To Die odyssey, Rae is threatening, funny, calculated, arrogant, charismatic, talented, so on and so on. In other words, he's human and not some second-rate cartoon character posing as a thug. And Ghostface Killah, staying true to his name, is constantly lurking in the shadows, rhyming and shining on practically all of the tracks. The compelling, chest-swelling intro sets the stage lovely for the trip we are about to embark on. The talk of Rae and Ghost getting out of the game, as serene and sad music floats in the air, is in many ways the American dream personified -- getting yours at all costs. It feels like a scene right out of a movie and leaves you wide open for the incredible "Knuckleheads," a head-nodding jolt right out the gate. It cooks, as does the entire album, the best release from the Wu yet. Revisit the LP, cont'd below...

By the time you arrive at "Incarcerated Scarfaces," the concise and sharp rhyme schemes of the Chef ("I move rhymes like retail/Make sure shit sell/From where we at to my man's cell") have already proven themselves to be major-league talent. His words slice with precision, and the bloody mess is our enjoyment. The truly creepy structure of "Rainy Days" solidifies the RZA's status of auteur among amateurs as he orchestrates off-key singing from Blue Raspberry along with a nervous swirl of keys and sounds of children playing. The original Wu-Tang sound keeps growing (even if some of RZA's beats do sound similar -- but, hey, he has done five albums in the last two years) and has established itself as a driving force in Hip-Hop. Speaking of the family, fans know that the best cuts happen when the Killer Bees swarm together, and here we get four-star gems like "Guillotines," featuring the one-and-only Inspectah Deck (when is his album due?) and the Godfather of the Clan, the Genius, who always sews up these lyrical gang-bangs with words of wisdom. There's also "Wu Gambinos," which marches through toward the end of this saga and features Meth as well as Masta Killa (did someone say "record deal"?). Listening to cuts like these is reminiscent of the rush you got when somebody yelled out "Fight!" during lunch. And, at no extra cost, Nas Escobar, in top form, breaks the "members only" rule (you know, the "only Wu-related guest on the albums" directive) on the addictive "Verbal Intercourse." You also got the nastiest Wu joint ever, "Ice Cream." From the fly-on-the-wall details of the skits to the colorful descriptions of flashy gold links, Donna Karan gear and 9mms in the lyrics, Rae serves up a meal hotter than the watch on your wrist. The best shit of 1995 so far. - Rap Pages (October, 1995). I'll never get tired of this classic LP!

August 01, 2022

Big L "The Big Picture" (August 1, 2000)

In recent years, hip hop fans have become all too familiar with the once inconceivable idea of posthumous album. In many ways, Big L was to the underground what Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur were to the mainstream -- a fan favorite as well as an icon. Although his 1995 debut, Lifestylez ov da Poor and Dangerous, lacked focus and dimension, his talent was evident. Over the next several years, L honed his writing and began to release songs, like 1998's "Ebonics," that truly reflected his cleverness and relentless flow. But when he was tragically murdered in 1999, it looked like his gifts would never be fully displayed. Fortunately, Rawkus has pieced together a collection of Big L's previously released classics and unheard new material, Born Again-style, as a final testament to his legacy. Featuring highlights like "Flamboyant," the Mike Heron-produced future classic, The Big Picture truly captures L's energy and rhythm. No matter what the beat, he remains in the pocket like wallets and car keys. Problems arise only on "Holdin' It Down": Despite Pete Rock's hot track, L's lyrics are poorly synced, and, consequently, painfully offbeat at times. Thankfully, the majority of the disc--which boasts such unlikely guests as Tupac, Big Daddy Kane, and Sadat X--shows L at his best. The Big Picture proves once again why he was the Most Valuable Poet on the M-I-C. - Vibe Magazine (October, 2000). Dig into the archives for more about this album and Big L. Rest In Peace.

The full review in Vibe is below. Rest In Peace, Big L.