March 31, 2022

Tony Touch "R&B 15: Summer Soul" (Mixtape, 1996)

This tape brings me back to the summer of 1996 so vividly... I copped R&B 15 by Tony Touch on cassette from Numbers Records in Ridgewood (Queens) on Myrtle Avenue; played it all summer and later brought it out to Long Island for my freshman year at Hofstra University (I lived on campus). I ran this mix tape as hard as I did Tape #44 (1995), another classic (to me) that rivaled the 50 MCs mix-series, simply off memories and nostalgia. I can tell you almost the complete tracklist -- and remember the transitions -- without running back the tape; it had joints from Case, SWV, Gina Thompson, A Tribe Called Quest, Skin Deep, Monica, Horace Brown, Toni Braxton, 112, Montell Jordan, Jodeci, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Zhane, and so much more. Yup, this brings me back, listen to the mix below...

March 30, 2022

KLIM Beats "A Journey Through Sounds" (Instrumental Mix)

Today I want to share this fine mix titled 'A Journey Through Sounds' which is a small take on KLIM's beautiful discography that he's made over the years to raise awareness of what's happening in his home country of Ukraine. The situation that is on-going is something we all never could have guessed or imagined. These are difficult times in the world, and as I've said before, often times creators find inspiration under the most severe circumstances; in the face of their greatest struggles. It's their therapy and why art is such an important part of our lives. That said, definitely check out the mix and much love to KLIM, hold your head. KLIM also recently released his latest instrumental album, Moonball, check that out in the archives, along with many other instrumental releases. Props to NineToFive Records, an international community of producers, visual artists, writers and other creatives joined through a shared passion for genre-bending instrumental music.

March 29, 2022

Juju Rogers "Buffalo Soldier Tape" (EP Stream)

Rapper and Trumpeter JuJu Rogers was born to an American G.I. from New Orleans and a German mother with Austrian roots. More than 10,000 American soldiers were stationed in the working-class city he was born in. Both JuJu and his hometown were influenced by the cultural identities of two very different countries. Inspired by his father’s collection of Jazz and Soul records, JuJu began playing the trumpet at an early age. Music helped him to navigate his sense of belonging to disparate worlds. His quest to explore, define and report on these divergent realities can be heard in his top-notch lyricism and earnest vocal performances. His new project aims to sonically connect the Black Diaspora to its original roots in Africa. The songs will highlight the history of the original Buffalo Soldiers and the parallels between their story, JuJu’s and all Black people. Stream it below...

March 29, 2022

Blueprint "1988" (March 29, 2005)

"Fresh for '88, you suckas." KRS-One said it on "My Philosophy," and MC/producer Blueprint repeats it 17 years later on "Anything Is Possible." Blueprint samples, quotes, or pays homage to Doug E. Fresh, Run-D.M.C., Stetasonic, and other old-school artists on this tribute to the golden age of hip-hop. He isn't really trying to break new ground on this relatively accessible collection of concise, melodic songs, but he is trying to add something to his influences instead of settling for a nostalgia trip. DJ Rare Groove's cuts and scratches fit the throwback vibe, while Blueprint's beats tweak old-school ideas, whether he's working with a Billy Joel piano fill on "Big Girls Need Love Too" or Doug E. Fresh-style beatboxing on "Fresh." The only guest MCs are Aesop Rock and CJ the Cynic, who appear on one song each. Blueprint provides some cunning rhymes and changes up his delivery to fit the album's diverse subject matter, whether it's the earnest social commentary of "Inner-City-Native-Son," the playfulness of the aforementioned "Big Girls Need Love Too," the obligatory braggadocio and complaints about wack MCs, or even the emotional vulnerability he displays on the second verse of "Liberated." His observations seem most trenchant when he's complaining about the current state of hip-hop on songs such as "Trouble On My Mind," which serves as a reminder that it ain't 1988 anymore. -AllMusic. Have you revisited Blueprint's debut solo album 1988 recently? If not, tap in below and also check out his dope, informative podcast Super Duty Tough WorkHERE.

Props to the homie Blueprint, one of the best indie artists....

March 28, 2022

Big L "Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous" (Ann. Mix by Filthy Rich)

I've shared so many press kits, album reviews and mixes from Big L over the years (dating back to my original blog in the early 2000s)... it's sad to me that--with his passing--eventually we run out of pieces of nostalgia to share. Fortunately DJs like Filthy Rich, and others, continue to pay homage and for the 25th Anniversary in 2020, he curated a mix of demos, album cuts, and rare gems to honor L's debut album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous. I'll assume I'd shared something else on its anniversary and figured I'd get back to it and never did. SO... as the album was released on this day in 1995, I'll circle the block and pick up that mix and share it with you below via DJ Filthy Rich up in Toronto. The art above is by Torre Pentel, who has a phenomenal page on IG that I highly recommend. The mix was taken down from Soundcloud or Mixcloud, where Filthy Rich originally shared it, but the audio remains on YouTube, so we'll take what we can get. R.I.P., Big L. Dig into it...

March 27, 2022

$tay Puft "$tay-Wu: Volume 3" (Mixtape)

Back once again, $tay Puft releases Volume 3 of his $tay-Wu mix-series. As with previous installments, the tape is stitched together from solo joints, soundtrack work, and compilation albums mostly from the post 8 diagrams era. He picked his favorite tracks and cut them into one mixtape that he hopes pays proper homage and respect to the almighty WU-TANG CLAN. $tay Puft is the DJ alter-ego of TJ Firestone, a designer, writer and voice over artist based in Los Angeles. You can see the tracklist above, listen to the mix and peep the archives for additional $tay-Wu mixes belowAlso, if you're interested, download all of his mixes using the name your option at Bandcamp...

March 26, 2022

David Begun "Good Kid, Mad Lib" (Mash-Up Album)

Combining the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar with various instrumentals from Madlib's vast production discography, David Begun has created "Good Kid, Mad Lib." This blend tape feature two of the greatest contributors to west coast hip-hop. The two artists have only collaborated once before; on the Kanye West track "No More Parties in LA," but there are reports that they were trying to reconnect. Ultimately, this mashup postulates what that combination would sound like over a full length album. Is that something you would be interested in? I think so, perhaps a lot more than the reports of Madlib and Logic working on MadGic? You decide for yourself, but definitely dig into Good Kid, Mad Lib below, and hit the archives for a number of other projects in D. Begun's catalog...

March 25, 2022

The Notorious B.I.G. "Life After Death" (3/25/97)

While his 1994 debut, Ready To Die, was a conceptual opus that provided insight on the rise of a Brooklyn drug dealer into the rap game, Notorious B.I.G.'s followup, Life After Death..., more fittingly focuses on the artistic growth of one of hip-hop's most controversial figures. This double album reveals what makes Biggie so appealing to a wide variety of music fans. Whether it's raunchy R&B-flavored songs like "F#ckin' You Tonight (with a guest appearance by R. Kelly), the thumping "Hypnotize" and the Vanity 6-inspired "Nasty Boy," or raw hip-hop gems like the DJ Premier-produced "Kick In The Door" and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan's masterpiece "Long Kiss Goodnight," Mr. Smalls continues to deliver hit after hit. A product and spokesman of the show-me-the-money generation, Big demonstrates that he'll do whatever it takes to make the cash. He'll make a record with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony ("Notorious Thugs"), collaborate with West Coast icon Too Short ("The World Is Filled") or even make his singing debut (the hilarious "Playahaters"), and make it all seem effortless and entertaining. It's hard to argue that Biggie Smalls is indeed the King of New York. And he's about to conquer the world. - CMJ New Music Monthly (May, 1997). The article captures the overall sense that Biggie was adept at all aspects of the game -- he made use of numerous styles, flows and sounds throughout this classic LP. He put his best foot forward in an argument he never had a chance to make... would he have excelled in current day hip-hop? That answer, I believe, is YES, because he already did it all in just too short LPs and before the age of 25. Rest In Peace, Biggie!

We'll Always Love Big Poppa...

March 24, 2022

Chi-Ali "The Fabulous Chi-Ali" (March 24, 1992)

Chi Ali was the youngest member of the Native Tongues, at only fifteen years of age when the collective came to life. He was also the most fashion-forward, as one might expect a teenager still in high school to be. He wore Cross Colours, the fashion trend of the moment; large sweaters with names of historically black colleges on them; baggy jeans with Nike tennis shoes. While so many of the other Native Tongues were interested in distancing themselves from the mainstream projections of hip-hop and blackness, Chi-Ali was immersing himself in them. He was also interesting because he seemed to take pleasure in both his status as the collective's little brother and his ability to rhyme about topics that, for him, seemed mature. A few years after his decline, a close comparison to his role in the Tongues would be Shyheim, who was the boy wonder of the Wu-Tang Clan, often on the outside looking in but valuable for a topical dexterity that belied his age. Chi-Ali was a precursor to that, with his album The Fabulous Chi-Ali being released in 1992 when he was sixteen, featuring production from Mista Lawnge and guest verses from Phife, Dres, Trugoy, and Fashion on the song "Let The Horns Blow." Chi-Ali's age was unmistakable in his wavering, sometimes cracking voice. But, unlike Leaders of the New School, his topical range went beyond tales of school and teenage debauchery. He rapped about sex and romance, violence and fantasies of violence, and material wealth. As far as bad boys went, Chi-Ali was the bad boy of the Native Tongues merely by drifting slightly from the path of his older counterparts. He was the edgier glimpse of youth, a kid who grew up on a slightly rougher end of the tracks and had the mind and language with which to make that plain. At one point, he felt to some like the most promising member of Native Tongues, not just because of his youth, but because of the wide range he could traverse almost seamlessly. He was the offshoot of what Native Tongues aspired to be: young people making music with each other, hoping to feed off each other's strengths. Chi-Ali was as sharp and fearless as Queen Latifah, as clever as Q-Tip, as fashion-forward and streetwise as Phife and Dres. It seemed as if he was the most likely to sustain a long and adventurous career. Cont'd below, via Hanif's Go Ahead In The Rain...

The case of Chi-Ali is both confusing and heartbreaking. After the moderate success of The Fabulous Chi-Ali, he largely vanished from hip-hop altogether, without a sound. At the end of the 1990s, he made an appearance on Dres's solo album Sure Shot Redemption, offering a short verse in the song "It's Going Down." And then he disappeared again. He surfaced in January of 2000, when he shot and killed Sean Raymond during an argument in the Bronx. Raymond was the brother of Chi-Ali's daughter's mother.... He spent over a year on the run, first in Atlanta, and then bouncing around various East Coast cities. His friends held him down, or he would hustle in places where he knew he'd be safe. He stayed south of New York, selling drugs and committing small robberies. He hit America's Most Wanted in late 2000, and then again in early 2001. In March, he made the mistake of returning to New York City. He was staying with a friend when police banged on the door, and I imagine that he was perhaps too worn down to run anymore. Being a fugitive can be exhausting, particularly with safe havens dwindling and with no crew to hold you up. - Go Ahead In The Rain by Hanif Abdurraqib (a phenomenal, must-read book!). Chi-Ali has since completed his bid, returned home to glimpses at music, a book, and has been featured in a couple documentaries as well. He did his time and his music is still celebrated to this day. Revisit 1992's The Fabulous Chi-Ali again today!

March 23, 2022

Phife Dawg "Forever" (Album Stream)

At the time of his death (in 2016 at the age of 45 from diabetes complications), the rapper born Malik Taylor had reunited — albeit tenuously — with New York hip-hop icons A Tribe Called Quest. That reunion led to Tribe’s final album, the excellent We Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service, released in late 2016, eight months after Phife’s death. Listening to We Got It From Here, it is obvious Phife Dawg still had plenty to give. In fact, the celebrated rapper had spent his final decade molding a treasure trove of unreleased rhymes into what he hoped would be a follow-up to his only solo album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP. It was never completed, but his family — alongside business and musical collaborator Dion Liverpool — has finally finished the job with Forever, which arrives six years to the day since he died. Unlike other posthumous albums, in which estates and family members use guesswork and vague guideposts to determine what the artist wanted, in this case Phife left, as Liverpool noted in a recent interview, “a lot of blueprints and clues.” Detailed notebooks included not just lyrics and song ideas but names of producers, guest stars and other specific details. Forever, which boasts appearances by Phife’s ATCQ partner Q-Tip, as well as Busta Rhymes, Redman, Rapsody, and more + production by 9th Wonder and Nottz, exists in an alternate hip-hop universe where the genre stopped after the Soulquarians broke up in the early 2000s. 

The spirit of Phife’s friend and collaborator J Dilla looms almost as large as Phife himself; the late hip-hop visionary, who died in 2006, produced the lyrically dexterous “Nutshell, Pt. 2,” and Dilla acolytes are on hand emulating his vibe.... On the chilling “Dear Dilla,” Phife eulogizes J Dilla on the verse, while Q-Tip uses the chorus to do the same to Phife. Phife Dawg was always, among many other things, an unapologetic golden-age nostalgist, and on Forever he can often be heard reminiscing on what he considered hip-hop’s glory days... Forever can be an emotionally brutal listen... album closer “Forever” that will perpetually stand out as a gut-punch for fans of the nimble rapper. Phife recorded the verse just three days before his death, running through his history with A Tribe Called Quest — “four brothers with the mic and a dream” — and eschewing their fractious past in favor of an olive branch: “I love you muhfuckers, true spit, all facts/Deep in my soul, I believe what will be shall be/Requiem for a Tribe.” For anyone who watched the group’s Beats, Rhymes and Life documentary with a deep pang of regret and sadness, it’s both hard and admirable to hear lines from “Forever,” like “If I could do it all over again/I’d sit down with my friend/Was zero reason why this shit had to end.” In Forever, we hear both a middle-aged man looking back on his successes and failures both personally and professionally, and an artist unknowingly confronting mortality and trying to make peace at the end. - Rolling Stone. This is a beautiful project! RIP, Phife.

March 22, 2022

KLIM Beats "Moonball" (Instrumental EP)

KLIM is a producer and beatmaker based in Kyiv, Ukraine. In 2009, he had his first attempts in making beats. Raised on and influenced by classic boom bap hip-hop from NY, Detroit, etc. KLIM has already released about 40 albums, performing fresh soulful and, at the same time, hard knocking styles. For his comeback on Hip Dozer (label out of France), he releases his latest EP, ‘Moonball.’ The EP mixes fresh and dynamic hip-hop beats and nostalgic vibes, perfectly made for relaxing and chilling. I've posted about numerous instrumental releases from KLIM over the years, definitely dig into the vast archives and check out many of my favorites from his catalog. Hear Moonball below...

March 21, 2022

Kxng Crooked & Joell Ortiz "Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse"

A polarizing title, no doubt... what do we think of this: Rise & Fall of Slaughterhouse? Joell Ortiz and Crooked I, burning down the group (Slaughterhouse) they helped create, alongside Royce Da 5'9 and Joe Budden. In these days and times, I think it's an obvious marketing plan, and it seems to have caught Joe and Royce off-guard and not really feeling the move... or their version of the story. To be expected, I suppose. Personally, I don't like the optics or roll-out at all, but who gives a shit what I think! These are two very skilled MCs -- although not my two favorites in the group -- and this isn't necessarily their best work, but it's still solid. Will it cause more beef than anything else? Probably more discontent than anything, but nothing serious, and nobody expects Joe to hop out of retirement to address it on record, (right)? I enjoyed most of Crook's and Joell's collaborative album, H.A.R.D., and Crook's "Life of a Bandana" still gets hella burn today. I guess we'll see how this plays out on Joe's podcast, Royce's live (+ music?), and obviously in the media. One thing for sure, do not play with Royce... he's got more than a rocket launcher on them, and most MCs for that matter.

March 20, 2022

Cypress Hill "Back In Black" (Album Stream)

Cypress Hill shifts culture. Since releasing its eponymous debut album in 1991, the California rap group has regularly revolutionized rap. B-Real and Sen Dog’s innovative lyrics, distinctive voices and poignant street-centered subject matter catapulted the group to superstar status. Its first LP sold more than 2 million units and its second album, 1993’s Black Sunday, pushed another 3 million units thanks to the Grammy-nominated singles “Insane In The Brain” and “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”. Along the way, Cypress Hill earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, sold more than 9 million albums, and were nominated for three Grammy Awards. During a time increasingly defined by singles of the moment, rappers B-Real and Sen Dog wanted to make a statement by releasing an album. Back in Black, the group’s tenth studio project, finds the group flexing its musical muscles and pushing itself creatively. With a mesmerizing mix of celebratory, confrontational, inspirational, reflective, and rugged songs, Cypress Hill shines throughout Back in Black. Entirely produced by Black Milk (Slum Village, Lloyd Banks, Pharoahe Monch), the LP is an homage to Cypress Hill’s return and its collaboration with Black Milk. It's finally here, check out this fresh collaborative album below...

March 19, 2022

Happy Born Day, Bun B of UGK!

Texas rapper and scene icon Bun B (born Bernard Freeman) rose to fame as part of the duo UGK, issuing a string of U.S. Top 20 hits, including 1996's gold-certified Ridin' Dirty and the 2007 chart-topping Underground Kingz. Bun B made his solo debut in 2005 with Trill, extending his presence into the 2010s with Trill O.G.: The Epilogue and Return of the Trill, just as a generation of younger MCs looked up at the influential veteran for inspiration. Together with partner Pimp C, Bun B formed UGK in the late '80s when their former crew, Four Black Ministers, fell apart. Based in Port Arthur, Texas, UGK signed with Jive, and with 1992's Too Hard to Swallow began a series of Southern gangsta rap albums that were successful sellers. Things came to a halt in 2003 when Pimp C was sentenced to eight years in prison on an aggravated gun assault charge. Bun B carried on solo, making numerous appearances on other artists' tracks and then in 2005 releasing both the mixtape Legends and his debut album, the Rap-a-Lot release Trill. With Pimp C seeing early release in late 2005, Bun B returned to UGK. In 2007, the pair released their chart-topping Underground Kingz, which included the hit single "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)" with OutKast. Tragedy struck in early 2008 when Pimp C died suddenly, leaving Bun B to return to a solo career. Bun since released a handful of well-received projects, including 2019's TrillStatik, which teamed the rapper with producer Statik Selektah. The LP featured Method Man, Fat Joe, Westside Gunn and more. Bun B is certainly one of the most influential and most well-respected MCs. HBD, Bun B!

In April 2019, Rolling Stone reported that Bun B had shot and injured an armed intruder during an attempted robbery at the rapper’s Houston home.... Police confirmed that a masked man holding a gun rang the rapper’s doorbell; Bun B’s wife Queenie answered the door, thinking it was a package delivery service. After the intruder demanded valuables, Queenie offered her Audi in the garage. Bun B, who heard the commotion downstairs, grabbed his weapon and confronted the intruder in the garage. A shootout reportedly ensued, with Bun B hitting the robber near the arm before the man fled the scene on foot. TMZ added that, hours later, the alleged intruder showed up at a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound to the left shoulder; police apprehended the man, later identified as DeMonte Jackson, at the hospital and charged him with two felony counts of aggravated robbery with a weapon and one count burglary. Both Bun B and his wife were uninjured in the incident. Give this man his flowers, that's how you protect your home and family. In an interview with The Breakfast Club, Bun B and his wife discussed the matter further, watch it below...

March 18, 2022

"Wild Style" (1982)

Universally hailed as the first hip-hop movie, "Wild Style" captures New York's hip-hop culture circa 1981 and several prominent figures including Busy Bee Starski; Fab 5 Freddy; the Cold Crush Brothers; and one of the godfathers of hip-hop, Grandmaster Flash. A movie whose influence cannot be underestimated and hailed as the most inspirational hip-hop of movie of all time, "Wild Style" immortalizes the birth of the underground hip-hop scene about to explode around the world, changing the face of music, fashion, art, and a way of life forever. Following street artist Zorro (played by legendary subway artist Lee QuiƱones) and his crew as they journey through the streets, projects, and train yards of New York, keeping one step ahead of the cops and their rivals, the film climaxes in one of the most famous hip-hop concerts in history. Featuring the pioneers at the forefront of a cultural revolution including DJs, emcees, and breakers such as Grandmaster Flash, the Chief Rocker Busy Bee, Fab 5 Freddy, the Rock Steady Crew, and the Cold Crush Brothers, "Wild Style" is the greatest hip-hop movie of all time. You've gotta revisit Wild Style every so often, why not today? Watch the trailer below and let me know, were you outside at the time??

Below are some publicity photos from Wild Style...

March 17, 2022

Happy Born Day, Sean P! (Words by BigGhostLtd)

When you can't find the right words, look to the homie, BigGhostLtd: "I dont mean for this to be like one of them “back in the good ol days…” type write-ups…I promise. But it might be. We can talk talent or money or industry plants or whatever else. But if you could pinpoint the root cause of what prevents shit from becoming a shit show…it would come down to some very synonymous things... rules, guidelines, boundaries, GATES. What makes the gates even more effective is GATE-KEEPERS. See record labels and businesses PERIOD gon' do record label shit. And if the labels do it right the masses gon' eat all that trash up regardless. It's how we ended up having Vanilla Ice n em. But Vanilla Ice was never embraced by or propped up by the culture. Had KRS-One or Chuck D or Ice Cube or any other respectable artist at the time welcomed him n certified him as a legitimate artist it might be a different story. YES the Vanilla one was able to get a hit off n sell a quick 10 mil but he wasn't able to sustain a career in the game or continue to make a living off a culture he disrespected in every way possible. These days all you need is a pulse and a poppin TikTok dance.. or a cool 3 minutes to do some due diligence on one of the infinite alternative avenues of pure f#ckery at your disposal to catch a hit. The thing is when you no longer need to struggle or overcome anything… or actually possess any hunger or talent… you get the talentless weirdos runnin' shit n gentrification rap we see making a mockery of the culture so often today. When the man born Sean Duval Price was still roaming the earth n making life hell for the lesser gifted… not raking in platinum plaques n stacking millions... being broke but still somehow a fly ass living legend n considered one of the greatest MCs to ever breathe.. he wasn't biting his tongue or kissing ass to jump on songs with the biggest superstars. He wasn't afraid to make it uncomfortable for MFs. I don't think any other rapper ever took time to shit on another rapper just cuz his name happened to rhyme with whatever he happened to be rhyming in the line before it. Very few rappers inspired me as a writer. The obvious one would be Ghostface. But the one who inspired the content was the almighty Sean P." Sean Price would have turned 50 years old today! R.I.P to the late great, Sean P!

March 16, 2022

DJ Greenpeace & DJ Yoda "Jews, Paid Too!" (Mixtape,

DJ Yoda and DJ Greenpeace follow up the cracking Jews Paid with Jews Paid Too. This time, instead of taking a side of the cassette each they combine throughout and create the perfect combination of Yoda's nutty cut-n-paste cartoon craziness and Greenpeace's fine taste in Late 90s Indie Rap. - via DJ Postie. The mix tape includes tracks from Smut Peddlers, Dilated Peoples, Capone-N-Noreaga, Unspoken Heard, Planet Asia, Souls of Mischief, RA The Rugged Man, Ugly Duckling, Supernatural, Masters of Illusion and lots more. Props to FatLace Magazine, DJ Greenpeace and of course, DJ Yoda. Listen to their mix from 1999, Jews Paid Too, below and hit the archives for lots more mixes...

March 15, 2022

Dibiasi "Godfidence" (EP Stream, 2021)

Godfidence is a dope project released by Jersey City's own Dibiasi and produced by incredible producer Big Jack. The 7-track offering features Ransom and oddly enough, I was originally put on to it by legendary producer Just Blaze of all people, when it was released at the end of last summer. I've apologized for being behind on music, this is another dope project that sat incomplete until recently... man, that was my loss. I know DJ Eclipse ran some of the tracks on Rap Is Outta Control, I'm sure it got plenty of burn on mixshow radio. The production from Big Jack is razor sharp and Dibiasi comes with raw delivery making this a must-listen, check out their EP now below...

March 14, 2022

2Pac "Me Against The World" (3/14/95 + The Source)

Uncontrolled rage, frustration and lack of direction pretty much describe Tupac and the focus of his previous albums. Though the material was reflective of the modern madness that constantly surrounds "hip-hop's outlaw," it was also reflective of the direction he and his music were taking. Both albums showed flashes of brilliance and contained incredible hits, but other songs lacked the musical depth of his best songs, radio friendly or not. And as many agree, subject matter and content have never been the problem with Tupac's albums, just the beats and erratic song sequence. True Tupac fans may have noticed his gradual musical progression from one album to the next (including his guest appearances on other albums), and his latest, Me Against The World, follows suit as he releases his best work by far. Lyrically, he was never a slouch, but this time anger, love and 'thug life' philosophy are stronger. Musically, each cut on the album is a tight mixture of hip-hop and dusty soul grooves. "So Many Tears" expresses Tupac's mourning over lost homies and a community falling apart under heavy stress while the beat is freaked with the harmonica of Stevie Wonder's "That Girl." Tupac enlists the help of his long time homie and Oaktown rap legend Richie Rich to relate the everyday lunacy of being "Heavy In The Game." "Temptations" comes off as not quite an apology, but as Tupac's self-recognition of his moral rights and wrongs when it comes to women, indo and 40 oz.'s. On a more sensitive note, "Dear Mama" will be the Mother's Day theme for all the hard-headz who love their mama and recognize the sacrifices that are made through thick and thin. Since 1994 it seems that givin' props to the early influences of hip-hop is a must and "Old School" is Tupac's homage to the likes of Eric B & Rakim, Flash, LL, Run-DMC and so forth. Other notable tracks include "It Ain't Easy," "If I Die 2 Nite," "Young N!ggaz" and the incredible "Me Against The World." Any complaints critics and fans alike had about Tupac's last two albums can be put to rest. Me Against The World is quite simply a manifestation of Tupac's talents becoming completely whole as they are mixed with the tracks that may, for a change, overshadow him. - The Source 4/95

2Pac's career continued to ascend after Me Against... but this is still his best LP.

March 13, 2022

Benny The Butcher "Tana Talk 4" (Album Stream)

Tana Talk 4 is the latest entry in a series of Benny The Butcher mixtapes; the last Tana Talk came out in 2018. Early word was that Tana Talk 4 would be produced entirely by the Alchemist. As it turns out, that wasn’t quite accurate. The Alchemist produced seven of the album’s 12 tracks, with longtime Griselda collaborators Daringer and Beat Butcha handling the rest. Still, it’s a sonically cohesive album. All of these tracks hit the same rainswept cinematic groove. Tana Talk 4 is mostly just Benny barring out, talking shit, and getting granular about his drug-trade past. That approach is not broken, and he didn’t fix it. This guy is great at barring out, talking shit, and getting granular about his drug-trade past. Most of the other rappers on Tana Talk 4 are the usual Griselda suspects: Conway, Westside Gunn, Boldy James, Stove God Cooks, 38 Spesh. But we also get J. Cole on the album-opening single “Johnny P’s Caddy,” and we get Diddy, of all possible people, doing hypeman ad-libs on the Biggie-referencing “10 More Commandments.” - StereoGum. Listen below...

March 12, 2022

Elzhi & Georgia Anne Muldrow "Zhigeist" (Album Stream)

With vivid flows radiating effortless complexity, Detroit rapper Elzhi is among the most masterful lyricists on the planet. The gifted emcee rose to fame as a member of legendary group Slum Village, but has since graduated from prodigy to sensei, with a thriving solo career bolstered by several acclaimed projects. Blending elements of jazz, hip-hop, funk, soul, rock, and beyond, Georgia Anne Muldrow is a supremely talented musician, producer, and vocalist who has worked with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, Madlib, Bilal, Robert Glasper, and more. Now, Elzhi and Georgia Anne Muldrow are joining forces for the collaborative album Zhigeist. Entirely produced by Georgia, the project is a carefully crafted mix of psychedelic instrumentation and whirlwind lyricism; an aesthetic triumph with an undeniable message. “Lyrically and musically, this album is a love letter to people of color,” says Elzhi. “What makes this project special is our determination to put medicine in the music.” Dig...

March 11, 2022

Kid Abstrakt "Higher Vibration" (EP Stream)

Kid Abstrakt is an emcee from Los Angeles who first made a splash with his 2017 album, Daydreaming, done in collaboration with producer Deli. He then improved on that with his 2020 album with Emapea, Jazzy Vibes. Now he’s back with a new EP, Higher Vibration.... To make the EP, Abstrakt enlisted the help of KwanLi Beats, Phoniks, Emapea, Midan, and PK Beatz on production, who all come together to establish that laid back jazzy boom bap style that Abstrakt goes for. It opens things up for him to hope on the mic and just start spitting freely with his smooth and conversational flow. The really smart thing about this EP is how careful Abstrakt was with the sequencing of the EP, so that everything really builds towards the end. The EP starts off light with some clever wordplay and a generally fun tone to the music, but by the time you get to the last two tracks, “Dear World,” and “Imagine,” Abstrakt is really opening up and going deep about the things in life that matter to him, namely his family, and his plea to others to live their lives with peace, love, and understanding. It’s a really heartfelt and passionate note to end on that will leave you with a lot to think about after the music ends. High Vibration picks up right where Jazzy Vibes left off, and it continues to make the case that Kid Abstrakt is one of the best young artists making hip hop right now. He knows how to have fun and build some nice vibes, but he also knows when to kick it to another gear and get serious with things as well. - Scratched Vinyl. If you're not familiar with his work with his group, Revolutionary Rhythm, dig into the archives for that as well...

March 10, 2022

Take It Personal Podcast "Indie Hip-Hop Tribute Pt.3"

Episode 103 is the 3rd installment in Take It Personal's indie hip-hop tribute series. This time, they've joined by Mr. Eon of The High & Mighty, who sits with the crew to discuss one of hip hop's greatest eras. We hear stories about how it started for them, the Masta Ace beef, working with Bobbito, The Alchemist, Rashida Jones, Beetlejuice, Kool Keith, Pharoahe Monch, Eminem and Cage. During the late 90s and early 00's, Eastern Conference Records was a staple in independent hip-hop. Who better to tell vivid tales of the indie hip-hop movement than one of the guys responsible for it? We've got joints by Non Phixion, Saukrates, Natural Elements, Jigmastas, J-Live, Arsonists, Company Flow, Cage, All Natural, Rascalz, Cannibal Ox, J.U.I.C.E., Sir Menelik, Kool Keith, Ill Advised, Choclair, Mr. Lif, Mike Zoot and of course, The High & Mighty. What made this era one of the greatest? The music was fresh, innovating, original, honest and most importantly fun. D-I-Y in full effect. Record stores in full effect. Online chat groups where you shared music was definitely in effect. That feeling of excitement while scarfing down a slice of pizza or Gray's Papaya because you couldn't wait to see what Fat Beats on 6th Ave had. When Fat Beats wasn't enough for your fix, you went to the LES to peep A-1 or took the iron horse to Fulton Street, to check out Beat Street and grab a treat from Juniors after. The days in New York during the indie hip-hop movement were magical. Now, let's re-live those memories and magic this era gave us. Enjoy the show, listen below...

March 09, 2022

J.PERIOD "March 9" (Mixtape, 2007)

Produced and remixed by J.PERIOD and longtime collaborator DJ G. Brown, March 9 Volume 1 chronicles the dark side of Biggie's lyrical storytelling with a collection of gangster tales over sinister musical landscapes -- crime-saga tales in the spirit of Scarface, King of New York and Menace II Society. Originally released on the 10th anniversary of B.I.G.'s passing, March 9 -- like B.I.G. himself -- stands the test of time. In its entirety, the collection is over 80 tracks of exclusive remixes, including previously unreleased outtakes, 12” singles and bonus material, all paying tribute to Brooklyn’s Finest, The Notorious B.I.G. Promotional only. It's now been 25 years, and I can still remember March 9, 1997 like it was yesterday. Rest In Peace, The Notorious B.I.G. You can download this and numerous other mixes from J.Period HERE. Listen to his March 9 Volume 1 mixtape below...

March 08, 2022

"New Jack City" (March 8, 1991)

1991's New Jack City is a timeless classic! The ruthless leader of a New York City drug syndicate battles to maintain his power and avoid imprisonment in this fast-moving action drama. While the film's heroes are Scotty (Ice-T) and Nick (Judd Nelson), a pair of tough, streetwise cops, the main focus is their target, drug lord Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes). A criminal businessman with no room for pity or emotion, the flashy but severe Brown has built an empire and transformed an abandoned Harlem apartment building into a well-defended fortress. He begins to consider himself invincible, but his lust for power and the unpredictable actions of a former client turned police informer threaten to bring about his potential downfall. First-time director Mario Van Peebles keeps the traditional plot moving at an appropriately rapid pace, with stylish action sequences and energetic performances. The film's violence was somewhat controversial on its initial release, especially after shooting incidents marred showings in several theaters. However, the film's moral message is clearly anti-drug and anti-crime, its main intent to provide a high-powered, modern take on the gangster movie. - AllMovies. In May 1991, Roger Ebert said this about the film, "I've seen a lot of movies where the lifestyle of the drug lord looks seductive—until he's killed in the last reel, of course—but this isn't one of them. It's a character study of a bad man running an evil business, and by the end even his mistress is telling the cops she'll testify against him. The movie isn't a comic book that's been assembled out of the spare parts from other crime movies; it's an original, in-depth look at this world, written and directed with concern—apparently after a lot of research and inside information." Below is the official trailer for 1991's New Jack City ... I suggest you revisit it today!!

Some original publicity shots and rare action figures...

March 07, 2022

J-Love "Mobb Misses" (Mixtape, 1998)

J-Love released the original Mobb Misses mixtape on cassette in 1998, boasting that Mobb Deep was "a group so ill there unreleased songs are bangin!" Facts. A second installment was released in 2001, then I think both mixes were later redone, along with additional mixes reppin' Prodigy and Havoc individually, too. In true Infamous Mobb Deep fashion, the mix tape includes tracks featuring affiliated artists like Big Noyd, Cormega, ACD, Tragedy, Large Professor, Ty Nitty and also Nas, Foxy Brown and Onyx. Some of my favorites are "Cop Hell", "Young Luv", and "Perfect Plot," among others. The loss of Prodigy is still heavy on our minds and hearts, but there's so much incredible music to go back and celebrate year after year. Dig into Mobb Misses below or break out your walkman and a copy of the cassette... I'll update the link as needed if it goes down (again). Rest In Peace, Prodigy.

March 06, 2022

Your Old Droog "YOD Wave" (EP Stream)

YOD Wave is the latest EP released by Your Old Droog, entirely produced by Nicholas Craven. The 7-track EP features Mach-Hommy and Tha God Fahim. My opinion: the production is a touch lacking, BUT Droog still floats over the eerie sounds and loops, doing what he does best. I'd been on the fence about Droog since the Nas rumors, never having seen an interview that really drew me to him as an artist (specifically as the man behind the music), but he's consistently shown up on records, proving he's a really solid lyricist. I appreciate these collaborative MC/Producer projects for the new chambers they offer us - and I'm waiting on a Droog/Alchemist project which just makes sense to me. Shit... has that happened already? Now, dig into the Droog and Craven's YOD Wave EP below...

March 05, 2022

Reach "Life's One Valid Expression" (Album Stream)

Released in October of last year (I'm late, I know!), here's Life's One Valid Expression from Kansas City's Reach. The 15-song self-produced album clocks in at just over 51 minutes. On L.O.V.E., Reach is flanked by trumpeter Hermon Mehari, vibraphonist Peter Schlamb, vocalists JaySol (Kansas City) and Kayla Starks (Dallas), and longtime partner-in-rhyme Les Izmore. The project covers a lot of conceptual ground with topics such as love, loss, the American project, gentrification and race relations. The writing may well comprise the most revolutionary tone of Reach’s long career. The musical backdrop mines the best of the Boom Bap era filtered through a contemporary aesthetic. Over the past several years, Reach’s focus has been musical production and his maturation is evident on Life’s One Valid Expression. The musical wheelhouse for Reach the producer – credited on the album as d’Jawnz – is a confluence of Jazz, Traditional Soul and Contemporary R&B. It’s a fitting palette for an album with such mature content. Dig into this one, it's a real gem of an album...

March 04, 2022

DJ Scratch & RZA "Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater"

Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater is a call back to when albums were thematically crafted like a good book and sequencing meant something. It is intentional from start to finish. As much as Scratch has rekindled the feeling, Rza's lyricism is that of a marksman. He displays depth in his wordplay and showcases the evolution of his alter ego Bobby Digital on the title track and "Never Love Again." Rza's delivery is in the pocket, and his content is poignant and purposeful. On "Fisherman," "Pugilism," and "Fate of The World," it's clear that Rza is making the statement that the Zig-Zag-Zig, Allah, has neither lost a step nor his way. There is much to unpack, and in each line, you get a glimpse of his life which unveils another layer in the legend of the abbot. In this offering, you get inspiration, wisdom, fun, and data over something that is sonically beautiful and satisfying. Much like what DJ Scratch and RZA sought out to do in their respective careers, the fans are receiving a project done simply out of the love of hip hop. Not for a check, the charts, or any accolades. This is emceeing over heavy basslines and drums that will make your soul shift. After your first listen, you will remember where you were when it dropped for the first time. Wu-Tang is forever! Dig into it...

March 03, 2022

Slim Nagai "Exotica XL" (Instrumental Album, 2021)

Sim Nagai specializes in imagined journeys to faraway places. The Belgian beat-maker finds inspiration from where he’s traveled as well as those places he’s yet to visit. Sim finds a connection with the ‘50s music genre of ‘exotica,’ a vintage flavor which aimed to sonically transport its listeners to distant locales. Sim takes on a similar mission with his debut album on Cold Busted, Exotica XL. Its 13 tracks convey rhythmic excursions to leisurely destinations — where palm trees shimmer in the wind and colorful birds fill the sky. Sim’s solid hip hop beat foundations accompany these visions, resulting in a distinctive style to be enjoyed by heads around the world. The album opens with a familiar chord melody in “The Island” as waves gently crash in the sound-field. Guitars, birdcalls, and subdued drums channel a lazy day on the beach. There’s also the tougher rhythms of “Tropics,” featuring rousing strings and expressive atmospheres that’ll liven things up poolside. “Douglas Firs” proudly wears an inspiration from Twin Peaks on its sleeve, and “Toucan” seamlessly drops Asian-adjacent elements into its melodic stew. Things get jazzy and old school with the NYC-inspired “Body & Soul,” and “Takayama” brings out intricate drum patterns and synth work from Sim’s arsenal. Exotica XL is a first-class ticket to sunnier vibes, dig into it below (released 04/21) ...