July 31, 2022

Mood "Doom" (25th Anniversary, Deluxe Edition)


Originally released by Mood on September 23 of 1997, Doom was an important springboard for the careers of Talib Kweli, DJ Hi-Tek, Sunz of Man and Lone Catalysts. The 18 track LP is an artistically experimental album marked by stand out production and lyricism that remains on-point throughout. Cincinnati rappers Main Flow and Donte kick apocalyptic rhymes that cite sacred scripture, ancient history, and politics. Both their rhyme schemes and chemistry are strong and prove to be equally compatible with DJ Hi-Tek, who made his production debut on this record, composing nine of the album’s 18 tracks, with newcomer Jahson handling the remaining production. Similar to the lyrical pairing, the production duo of Hi-Tek and Jahson are well matched, as they add a sense of darkness and mystery that shrouds the sonic backdrop throughout the album. Doom is lyrically and sonically an outstanding body of work that stands out as one of the more noteworthy indie rap titles of ’97. Next to cuts like "Karma" or "Secrets Of The Sand" our version includes the early classics "Verbal Stampede" plus the remix, as well as "Hustle On The Side," via 90s Tapes. Order and stream it below...

July 31, 2022

Domo Genesis & Evidence "Intros, Outros & Interludes" (Album Stream)


Domo Genesis, born Dominique Marquis Cole, is a rapper and songwriter hailing from Inglewood, California. Widely known for his affiliation with the hip-hop collective, Odd Future, the artist released his first solo album back in 2016. It's been over four years since he dropped his last project, Arent U Glad Youre U, but Domo is back with his latest release. On Friday, July 29, the 31-year-old dropped Intros, Outros & Interludes. Consisting of 11 tracks, the project is only 26 minutes long. Four of the records have features from recording artists Navy Blue, Remy Banks, Evidence, and Boldy James. Each song consists of different meanings and hosts a diverse selection of beats. Domo talks about topics ranging from believing in oneself to having skeletons in the closet as well as dealing with life's ups and downs. - HNHH. Stream Domo/Ev's Intros, Outros & Interludes below...

July 30, 2022

A Tribe Called Quest "Beats, Rhymes & Life" (July 30, 1996)


Adulthood. On Beats, Rhymes and Life, A Tribe Called Quest has crafted the ideal soundtrack for moving out of your parents' house. Maturity and spirituality are the underlying, predominant themes bounced between Q-Tip and Phife on their fourth go-round since 1990's classic People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Still, in typical Tribe fashion, these ideas transmit to the listener through a gradual, almost subliminal, process of absorption; overall, Beats is as fun and funky as any of their earlier output. Q-Tip's recent conversion to Islam surely accounts for the thematic direction of Beats, Rhymes and Life, evidenced in a couplet from "Get a Hold": "I praise the lord of the worlds that's unseen / Respect me for that and let do my thing." Elsewhere, on "What Really Goes On," the Abstract expresses a change in his libido: "I used to stress girls with long braids and long hair / Now I want a woman with a spiritual flair." In fact, the linchpin to Beats, Rhymes and Life occurs with Tip's moment of clarity after yet another night of party and bullshit from four years ago. It will recall, for anyone who's been there, the point in young adulthood where hanging out, getting lifted and collecting phone numbers starts to ring hollow. "I'm 22 years old, and I get crazy high every time I go to a party," Q-Tip laments after the organ-driven, guitar-laced housequake, "The Jam." "And this stupid shit be jumping off. I can't have this no more. I gotta find something new, man." As founding members of the newly-reinstated hip-hop bohemian clique Native Tongues, A Tribe Called Quest is undoubtedly expected to address the negative, self-destructive, gats n' blunts slant of today's rap music. On the very first track, "Phony Rappers," Phife relates his victory in battle with an emcee who rhymed weakly about "his .45, and. nickel bags of weed," then rationalized his loss with, "I need a Philly right before I get loose." Later, on "Where Ya At," Phife admonishes, "All that glock-toting trash you talk, it won't prevail / It's stale / You'd either be dead or in jail." Q-Tip even speaks on the tired East/West debate: "Let me let you brothers know, I ain't no West coast disser... I ain't got no beef, so don't come in my face" (from "Keep It Moving"). // (Cont'd below) ...



Q-Tip joins in producing Beats, Rhymes and Life with erstwhile Tribe producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jay Dee (of Pharcyde, Busta Rhymes and De La Soul fame). The collective, known as The Ummah, strike a musical balance somewhere between the jazziness of The Low End Theory and the acute beats from Midnight Marauders. Indeed, if every Tribe album has reflected a different hip-hop genre--Afrocentricity, jazz-rap, post-gangsta--Beats can be best pegged as continuing in the vein of Marauders. Largely due to Ali's perfectionism, Tribe can be credited for creating the most quality-consistent recordings in rap music, rivaled only by De La Soul. Thus it's disappointing that the presence of vocalist Faith Evans on "Stressed Out" and Tammy Lucas "1nce Again" proves detrimental to both tracks, sounding like an attempt to smooth the Tribe out on an R&B tip. Similarly, Q-Tip's cousin, Consequence doesn't add to the flavor of Beats like guests of past albums -- Leaders of the New School, Brand Nubian. But the music throughout Beats proves the Ummah to be the most proficient in the rap game at using samples as instruments in themselves. A cogent argument from way back for rap being a passing fad was that rappers couldn't continue to rhyme about their radios or sneakers when aging into their twenties and thirties. As hip-hop grows older as a culture, albums have begun to reflect the maturing interests of the twentysomething generation that grew up on it. Q-Tip has evolved from the mack mindset of "Bonita Applebum" and "Electric Relaxation," to the self-questioning refrain of "What Really Goes On": "I got some girls with plenty tails, smarts and big titties / And they all stressing me / Yo, really?" It sounds like the juncture in young adulthood that leads to a serious monogamous relationship and marriage; Q-Tip sounds 26. That artistic honesty alone is enough to praise Beats, Rhymes and Life. - The Source.

July 29, 2022

DJ Geo Roc "2 Da Death, Chapter III" (Mixtape, 1996)


Oh man, this is a treat right here! Queens' DJ Geo Roc, who spent some time living in my old neighborhood (Middle Village), put out 2 Da Death, Chapter III in 1996. I've shared two other really solid mixes from DJ Geo Roc (in the archives) but didn't have my hands on this one at the time. I recently saw it shared online (via RapMullet), and had to dig back into this lost gem. Joints from Nas, Mobb Deep, Heltah Skeltah, Artifacts, The Roots, Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, Jay-Z, The Firm, M.O.P., Killa Kidz, Inspectah Deck and a brief section of blended R&B joints from Monica, Gina Thompson, Skin Deep, New Edition, Case and more. I'd been hoping to find more throwback mixes from DJ Geo Roc, so hopefully more do resurface. For now, enjoy Chapter III of 2 Da Death below...

July 28, 2022

EPMD "Business Never Personal" (30th Anniversary)


Thumpin' fat, no-bullshit hardcore funk is the best description for this LP. Erick and Parrish are back, catchin' mad wreck and solidifying their position as one of the premier groups in hardcore hip-hop. The trademark EPMD slow-flow rhyme style and no-nonsense lyrics combined with their no-nonsense delivery hit you like a Tek-9 slug. And with an abundance of funky hard beats, this one promises to keep your neck jerkin'. "Crossover" deals with the sellout mentality in rap. "Cummin' At Ya" is a duet with the diggedy-Das EFX that has all four MC's flippin' shit over a fat slow beat. And "Boon Dox," with it's exploding bass, is simply the Long Island anthem. Don't forget to check for "Play The Next Man," warning of scandalous females, and "Headbanger," the Hit Squad posse cut that features MVP performances by K-Solo and Redman. Business Never Personal is EPMD at their best. With 12 cuts of pure slammin' funk, there's not going to be much fast-forwarding on this one. Chalk up another gold dish for the Hit Squad in '92. Swayze kids. - The Source (March, 1992). I got this tape at Sam Goody in the Metro Mall in Queens. You had to walk the tracks to the mall, come out through the parking lot or walk down the hill which was a no-go in the winter. I think I might've lost my copy and got another through Columbia House... but that's a whole other story. In any event, I remember taping a copy of "Headbanger" from the radio and waiting eagerly for the album's release. I credit 1994 as my favorite year in hip-hop, but my excitement for music in 1992 was probably at its highest heights. Business Never Personal was one of the reasons why, revisit the album below...


The review in The Source, ads and more below...

July 27, 2022

Wordsworth "The Fragility of Life" (Album Stream)


Wordsworth chases the success of both his top ten Amazon selling book, What Words Are Worth Vol. 1, as well as his appearance on Netflix's animated series, Peabody & Sherman, with his new album, The Fragility of Life. The Brooklyn native, first known for his guest appearances on hip-hop albums from Blackstar (Mos Def and Talib Kweli), A Tribe Called Quest's gold selling LP, The Love Movement, and co-creating MTV’s The Lyricist Lounge Show, delivers a quality body of work for his latest effort, that’s produced entirely by UK producer, Kelzwiththeheat. The Fragility of Life boasts guest appearances from his frequent collaborator Masta Ace, along with Jessica Care Moore, Supastition, Erv Ford, Xperience, Adanita Ross, Pearl Gates, JSoul, Finale, Jacqueline Constance, Pav Bundy, and upcoming Baton Rouge talented group Zues and B.E.A.N. To boot, the LP is accompanied with videos for album cuts, "Skin," "The Teacher Song," and "Thank God for Waking Up." Listen below...

July 26, 2022

Eric B. & Rakim "Follow The Leader" (July 26, 1988)


There's a scene in Spike Lee's latest movie, School Daze, in which a group of college girls are planning their next party. "And none of that awful rap music," declares their leader. "But I like Run DMC," pleads one, subconsciously acknowledging their status as crossover artists supreme. She might just as easily have said Eric B & Rakim. Eric B & Rakim are the Run DMC of their day, the ghetto upstarts turned table rousers, overdressed in customized track suits. On a scale of bragging as art form they rate a unanimous nine out of ten, bejewelling themselves both physically and lyrically with an ornate series of chains, rings and rhymes. Follow The Leader, a recent Sounds single of the week, stands out on its own. A bedevilling combination of The Twilight Zone and just about every insidious '70s bassline that you can't quite shake off. It's brutally impersonal, a vacant lot of sound that is as disturbing as Rakim's menacing rapping. In short, a hard act to follow. That said, Rakim's still up top -- still out on a limb, getting paid and generally setting the trends. The unique, flowing dynamics of his rap only serve to show us just how far behind the rest of the nation's rappers are lagging. In a world where rap goes in cycles, Rakim is the cyclist supreme, easing his way up the hills the others are still stumbling on. The rest of the album is equally exhilarating -- Eric B primes his music with hip House-ish basslines, musical gelignite in his capable hands, while Rakim just chills you to the core with his calculated responses. Along with Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions, Eric B & Rakim are at the forefront of rap's continued musical rebellion. There are no tricks, no powerplays or revolutionary uprising, just a series of irrepressible, unstoppable dance explosions. Bomb the bass and get it on. - Sounds, 1988. Where does it rank in their catalog?


"...Easing his way up the hills the others are still stumbling on." Well said.

July 25, 2022

"Caught In The Middle of A 3-Way Mix" (Tribute to "Paul's Boutique", 2012)


Several years ago, Solid Steel DJs Cheeba, Moneyshot and Food had the idea of collaborating on a version of the Beastie Boys' Paul’s Boutique album, made entirely from the original sample sources. The result is titled ‘Caught In The Middle Of A 3-Way Mix’ - each of them have taken a third of the album to work on and combined their efforts into a mix that will make you hear it in a new way. Aside from the original sample sources they’ve included commentary from the Beasties, vintage interviews, demo versions and much more. The mix was over half way completed when they heard the tragic news of MCA‘s death in May, 2012, so the impetus to finish it was instantly doubled and new meaning was given to the project. It goes without saying that this is also a tribute to Adam Yauch and the legacy he left behind. Check out their tribute to the Beastie's Paul's Boutique below...

July 25, 2022

Knowledge the Pirate "Wolves Don't Eat With Shepherd's"


If I have the opportunity, I'll always just let Big Ghost tell it, so... "I tried to tell y'all this year was bout to be different. I first heard Pirate on some my favorite Roc Marciano records… I already knew son was nice. But when I heard his debut album Flintlock… I was blown away by how full and how cohesive the project was. This was still in the earlier part of the current underground rap renaissance we been in the midst of for the last while now. At that time…within this wave it was only a few artists droppin' ALBUM albums. It was still mostly EPs/mixtape type joints or less refined examples of what you might call “albums”…but what [they] did on that was produce a masterpiece. That might really be my favorite album of 2018 that I wasn't part of. Knowledge dropped 3 more impeccably crafted pieces of art since then.. But Flintlock was still the one I appreciated the most. Until this album was completed. This ain't to say that I feel it exceeds or is better than anything my brother Knowledge did before…but this is a continuation of his legacy. It's actually something we started working on in early 2019 n took our time in piecing together thru many conversations while overcoming personal hardships n losses. There is a soul to this album. We hope that soul speaks to you. I would say it was cooked to perfection but wolves don't cook what they kill. So we gon serve this plate to you raw..." That said, listen to their collaborative LP below...

July 24, 2022

Joey Bada$$ "2000" (Album Stream)


Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ was probably one of the most slept on artists during the height of the blog era... Today, he unleashes his third studio album 2000. Serving as the follow up to his 2017 album All-Amerikkkan Badass, 2000 arrives just a little over a month after the 10 year anniversary of Joey Bada$$’ debut, critically acclaimed mixtape 1999 (released June 2012). During an interview with VIBE at the 2022 BET Awards, Joey spoke on what fans can expect while listening to the new LP: “On the new album 2000, what should be expected is that classic Joey sound, you know what I’m saying? That authentic Joey. Everything that you want out of Joey Bada$$, you’re going to get from this project right here. I’m excited for this.” Spanning a total of 14 tracks, the Brooklyn lyricist joined forces with some solid features that contributed greatly to the album’s sound. Not only did he call on J.I.D. and Larry June, Joey linked with Chris Brown, Capella Grey and Westside Gunn. - Revolt. The release of 2000 marks 1932 days since the release of Joey’s sophomore album, ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$. It is the longest interval between any of his projects. Stream it...

July 23, 2022

Take It Personal Podcast "Tribute to 1994, Part 3"


Do you need more proof that 1994 was the greatest year in Hip-Hop music? Well, the trilogy is complete with the 3rd installment in Take It Personal's tribute to 1994. Episode 111 features music from Organized Konfusion, Public Enemy, Y Society, Dredd Scot, UMC's, Fu-Schnickens, Lords of the Underground, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Lord Finesse, Common, Mad Flava, Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, Redman, Artifacts, Mic Geronimo, Nas, World Renown, Kurious, O.C., KRS-One, Hard 2 Obtain, House of Pain, M.O.P., Freddie Foxxx, The Legion, Bahamadia, Gang Starr, Eddie F, The Notorious B.I.G., KMD and more! So much great music, 1994 was amazing. Say less, listen more...

July 22, 2022

Puff Daddy & The Family "No Way Out" (25th Anniversary)


Today marks the 25th anniversary of Puff Daddy & The Family's classic debut album, No Way Out. Diddy took to his social media to share the following message, "Biggie inspired me to become an artist and make this album, so it's bittersweet to look back on such a pivotal turning point in my life and career that turned Bad Boy into an unstoppable dynasty and cemented our place in Hip Hop history! To have countless hit records from so many timeless artists that became global superstars, it will be hard for anyone to ever create a moment in music that changed the culture like No Way Out!" Puff makes a good point... his spirit to succeed after such a tragedy with the passing of The Notorious B.I.G. was an incredible moment in music. Not just "I'll Be Missing You," but the whole album from top to bottom. It's clear when you listen back -- even all these years later -- the original direction of the album was different before B.I.G.'s passing. The original title was alleged to be "Hell Up In Harlem," a title that wouldn't been marketed the same after such a loss. There are a few references in the album itself, as well as a different energy from Puff's cast of superstars called "Family" when originally they were gonna be called "Goodfellas." Subtle changes like that change the whole presentation of the album. There was an ad in Billboard (October, 1997) taken out by Clive Davis at Arista that said, "With "I'll Be Missing You" and "Mo Money Mo Problems," Sean "Puffy" Combs joins only The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Boyz II Men in succeeding himself at #1. These two singles, plus "Can't Hold Me Down" and "Hypnotize" make Bad Boy the first label since Motown to have its first four #1s occur in the same year. This calendar year, Bad Boy has held the #1 position on the Hot 100 Chart for 22 weeks, accounting for nearly 60% of this year's #1 hits. Since the label's inception, every album released by Bad Boy has been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum, including Puff Daddy's #1 debut album No Way Out, which is now approaching triple platinum. It's truly an extraordinary year of achievement for an extraordinary artist, producer and label. And it's only September." It was Puff's 'can't stop, won't stop' attitude that was the blueprint to his success. When there's no way out, you make it happen... Revisit Puff's classic album below...



Yo, the sun don't shine forever / But as long as it's here...

July 21, 2022

House of Pain "Fine Malt Lyrics" (30th Anniversary, 1992)


"We're animals trying to be men," laughs Everlast, lead rapper of the Irish-American rap act House of Pain. Explaining the inspiration for the group's name, he describes the movie "The Island of Dr. Moreau," "It's about a scientist who tries to turn animals into men, and the place where he took them to punish them was the House of Pain." Danny Boy and DJ Lethal round out the trio that produced the gold smash single "Jump Around," and a debut album filled with dense, diverse samples and a rap style that recalls the kind of shit-kicking you hear at a party or on a basketball court. "If you get on the basketball court, talking shit is half the game," Everlast says. "I look at the lyrics like a basketball, like I'm bouncing them off the beat." Everlast is sporting a basketball jersey in their video for "Jump Around," but it wasn't the jersey of his hometown Lakers. He wore Boston Celtics green, a nod to the heritage of both himself and rapping partner Danny Boy -- as is House of Pain's shamrock emblem, "Fine Malt Lyrics." "It definitely does fit the 'Irish' stereotype," Danny Boy says of their image, "but it just happens, as do we." "We don't try to be preachers of Irish history, or Irish politics," adds Everlast. "It's just two guys who happen to have Irish blood, you know, happen to have a taste for some beer once in a while, and like to kick funky rhymes." The group got together in 1990, after Everlast left the Rhyme Syndicate. "The name of the group came from an old punk band I used to have," says Danny Boy. Adds Everlast, "When I saw the name written down at his house, it clicked with me, and later on I figured out it was because of the "Island of Dr. Moreau" movie that I'd seen when I was young." // (Revisit the album while you continue reading below) .....



Everlast (Erik Schrody, age 22) and Danny Boy (Danny O'Connor, 23) met at Taft High School, which is also the alma mater of Ice Cube and Divine Styler. "There was a whole spectrum of people with different music preferences," states Everlast, "from punk rockers, to rappers to hard rocks." "You knew who was a B-boy and who wasn't," says Danny Boy. "You knew who liked rap and who didn't. Of course we weren't going to click." The House of Pain crew is rounded out by Latvian-born DJ Lethal (Leor Dimant), who worked on Everlast's previous solo projects as part of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate. DJ Lethal's mix changes colors from the psychedelic dub style of the "House of Pain Anthem," through the infectious "Top O' The Morning To Ya" - laced with woozy harmonica and slippery scratches - to the jazzy shifts of "All My Love." "I'm like jumping around the beat, picking out things to put in the beat," says DJ Lethal, who, at age 19, has emerged as a sampling ace, looping without reliance on drum programs. "Hip-Hop is my first love, but incorporated into hip-hop are a lot of forms of music," Lethal says of his cross-style collage. "I'll take a beat from rock, I'll take a little horn from jazz and I'll take a little organ from some old classical piece." The album produced by Lethal, Muggs of Cypress Hill, who lead rapper B-Real joins Everlast on "Put Your Head Out," and Ralph M of FunkDoobiest. "The first time people hear your record, they don't listen to the lyrics, they listen to the flow and the music," Everlast says. "And if you get in this weird (lyrical) thing, where they're going "Ooh, listen to him bug out!, THEN they're going to listen to what you said. I put a lot of thought into my style beforehand, but when I finally come down to writing the songs, I do it in a form of freestyle. I like that spontaneity. It's pure feeling rather than being over-rehearsed or over-written, or over-thinking about it," he says. "There are a few rhymes that are totally flipped around from what we thought we were starting with. But I saw that the rhymes fit the beats, and makes each part as entertaining as possible." - Press Kit, 1992. Undeniable classic.

July 20, 2022

Cypress Hill "Black Sunday" (July 20, 1993)


"Insane In The Brain" is the name of the first single and video clip from Cypress Hill's new Ruffhouse/Columbia album, Black Sunday. It's also a warning: that when it comes to the Cypress Hill crew, crazed intensity is more than skin deep; it's a state of mind and a way of life. Cypress Hill -- visionary rappers B-Real and Sen Dog, and DJ/Producer Muggs -- are back again and explosive as ever. The group's self-titled Ruffhouse/Columbia RIAA platinum debut album of 1991 has sold more than 1 million copies to date in the US, establishing them as one of the most popular as well as hardest hitting, musically innovative, hip-hop acts on the planet Earth. The Cypress Hill album remained in the upper reaches of the Billboard's Pop Album chart for over 73 weeks, earning the group the Billboard Music Award for Best Rap Artist. That's a hard act to follow, but B-Real and company remained cool under pressure. "When it came to Black Sunday, people asked 'can we top the last one,' you know? What we did was take all those questions about making a follow-up and asked ourselves that shit." "With everything that had been going on this year, we felt we should have made this album months ago but we were doing a lot of shows and that took time away from doin' the album. We were kind of frustrated that we hadn't started yet, because we were so eager to make this record. We came up with a lot of dope shit that we felt topped the last one. So being that we were hungry to do it, it brought out the best when we finally got to record." They continue, "The new album is named Black Sunday because its whole vibe is ominous. The album was recorded in Muggs' native New York in early '93. (Revisit the LP, the press release continues below)...



"Insane In The Bran" features a hydraulic bass groove and pounding beat being strafed by braying screeches -- classic Cypress Hill. "I wrote "Insane In The Brain" about when people come to our concerts they lose their mind in the adrenaline of it all. It's also talking about some of the people on the street, who are just crazy motherf#ckers." "When The Shit Goes Down," the B-side to "Insane In The Brain," and second video, is also cautionary. Cypress Hill may be stoners, but don't think for a minute they're sleeping. The rap is a reminder for everybody out there to be ready when the going gets rough. "It's saying, 'don't sleep,' because if you sleep and let somebody get the drop on you, whether it's in the business, sports, rap, or out on the street fighting, you just gotta be ready for anything." Muggs cooks up an ultra-funky mix of scratchy deep fried soul guitars and fat bass licks. "Ain't Goin' Out Like That" opens with looped feedback, giving way to saxophone screeches, a jazzy bass figure and crackling drums. B and Sen's raps reprise some of the rhymes from the debut album that helped establish them as the hardest and smartest hip hoppers on the street, promising more of the same and then some this time around. In addition, Black Sunday includes special new, never commercially available versions of "A to the K" (the original appeared on the Juice soundtrack) and "Hand On The Glock" (a radical remodeling of "Hand on the Pump"). In order to make the album more readily available to Cypress' younger fans, there will be a clean, unstickered version. - Press Kit '93. 

July 19, 2022

UFO Fev & Crisis "Sunsets In The Ghetto" (Album Stream)


Here's the latest offering from East Harlem's UFO Fev titled Sunsets In The Ghetto. Fev came up in the Jefferson Housing Projects, same building as the late Black Rob, who is alleged to have given Fev his name. The project boasts 11 solid cuts, with production entirely handled by Crisis and features from Red Inf and Cortez. You've seen the cosign from Fat Joe and consistent releases over the past few years -- including collaborative projects with Statik Selektah, Termanology, Frank The Butcher, Vanderslice and Big Ghost Ltd. --  Fev is the real deal, check him out on Sunsets In The Ghetto, streaming below. Then dig in the archives for those other collaborative projects and more...

July 19, 2022

Coolio "It Takes A Thief" (July 19, 1994)


After what seemed like an endless wave of negative attention, it seems as if the American media has decided to leave hip-hop alone (for now at least) and concentrate on more pressing issues (Bosnia, South Africa, etc.). And since things are returning to normal, many artists are once again kicking tales about their own individual realities. So it should come as no surprise that Coolio is going to be at the top of the pile this summer. Yeah, he's from Compton, but this isn't your typical gangsta record. For Coolio, Compton isn't just the spawning ground for G-rap; it's a place where the concept of comedy and tragedy can be viewed up close and personal. Where the ills of American society (unemployment, welfare, drug addiction, homelessness...) are discussed from the first person. And like Richard Pryor did years before him, Coolio refuses to let the realities of what many would consider to be a no-win situation extinguish both his artistic spirit and sense of humor. If you don't remember Coolio, you can think back to his appearance with WC on the 1990 Low Profile album. If you can't go back that far, just peep the rhymes he rocked as a member of the M.A.A.D. Circle. Even if you missed his debut, there is no reason for you to sleep on his current reality-inspired work...



While "County Line"--a humorously cool lead-off single dealing with the shortcomings of the welfare system--didn't quite evoke the anticipated response, the current single "Fantastic Voyage" really articulates Coolio's message. The video is hilarious. As the Lakeside groove carries you along, Coolio piles about six million people in the trunk of his '64 and takes them into a magical land where race, poverty, gangs or sexual orientation don't matter and everybody is cool. On the real side, tracks like "Smokin' Sticks" and "Locked In The Closet" are '70s-styled pimp tracks that have Cool kicking real-life tales about how he used to trip out smokin' sherm (cigarettes dipped in embalming fluid or PCP) and doing cocaine. Another excellent track, "Can O' Corn," speaks on his younger days, growing up in a drug-infested household with nothing to eat but a can of corn. But then it's back to the laughs. "Ugly Bitches" is one of the funniest rap records ever. Reworking the melody that 3XDope used on "Funky Dividends," Coolio pokes fun at his homies who, when their funds were low, had to settle for the not-so-fine girls. The chorus is a killer: "When I was young/I used to have fun/F#ckin' with ugly bitches/But now that I'm grown/I leave them alone/'Cause I went from rags to riches." There are also a few standout group efforts. Le Shaun stands by her man on "Mama I'm In Love With A Gangsta," Tha Alkaholiks drop by for "I Remember" and W.C. puts in work on "U No Hoo." And when added to tracks like "On My Way To Harlem" and "Ghetto Cartoon," the album seems to take on a movie soundtrack-like quality. Perhaps for the unmade Trouble Man II or Hell Up In Compton. Whatever the case, in order to capture that '70s dusty feel, you have to get some dusty n!ggas to make the tracks and the production by Dobbs The Wino, Brian G and Crazy Toones is top notch. No P-Funk. No G-Funk. Just the best of the 8-Track pimp era. - The Source (July, 1994). Revisit it today.

July 18, 2022

Biz Markie "Theory of Old School" (Mixtape, 199x)


The Diabolical Big Markie! I can't lie, it still breaks my heart knowing Biz passed away. What an exceptional personality! There will certainly never be another. Many people know him as a beatboxer, MC and all around presence in hip-hop but he certainly had a passion for music that extended to being a DJ and curating mixtapes. He put in considerable work with 45s later in his career, doing live DJ events around the country as well. Theory of Old School was Biz Markie's Funk & Soul contribution to the mix tape game back in the late 90s through Tape Kingz. It features tracks by Collage, Chaka Khan, DeBarge, Teddy Pendergrass, Teena Marie, Shalamar, Marvin Gate, Deniece Williams, Michael Jackson, Heatwave, The Jackson 5, The Gap Bad, Barry White, The Emotions and so much more. Many of these jams were the samples, breaks and inspiration for countless hip-hop records that would come in later years. Listen to this "little funk shit" as Biz Markie says below...

July 17, 2022

DJ Premier "Hip-Hop 50: Vol. 1" (EP Stream)


As Hip Hop continues to climb to heights that no one could have ever imagined, it's unbelievable that we're rapidly approaching the 50th anniversary of the genre. We're all aware of Rap's inception out of the Bronx before developing into one of the most influential genres in music history. DJ Premier has partnered with Nas's Mass Appeal for their Hip Hop 50 music program, and to help celebrate the culture, the legendary DJ has curated the first of an ongoing series that highlights Hip Hop. Today, we received the DJ Premier: vf and while it may not be a lengthy project, it certainly packs a heavy punch. “It’s an honor to kick off this iconic Hip Hop 50 music program. Hip Hop continues to inspire fans across the globe and it’s incredible to think of what the next 50 years will bring," Premier shared in a press release. Features include Joey Bada$$, Remy Ma, Rapsody, Nas, Run The Jewels, Lil Wayne, and Slick Rick! - HNHH. Stream DJ Premier: Hip Hop 50 Volume 1 below...

July 16, 2022

Lloyd Banks "The Course of the Inevitable 2" (Album Stream)


Lloyd Banks has dropped off his new album, The Course of the Inevitable 2, via Money By Any Means and Empire. The project includes previously released songs “Menace” with Conway the Machine and “Fell in Love,” and boasts features from several hip-hop heavyweights like Jadakiss, Dave East, Benny The Butcher, Tony Yayo, and Vado. The Course of the Inevitable 2 is a follow-up to the series' first installation, The Course of the Inevitable, which arrived in 2021 and saw guest appearances from Styles P, Benny The Butcher, and Freddie Gibbs, among others. The sequel is Banks’ fifth studio album. - Complex. It's great to hear more music from Banks, I think he's an extremely talented MC who has a lot to offer to the industry and fans alike. People compare Banks to artists like Fabolous, Jadakiss and Pusha T, but I also see parallels to artists like Beanie Sigel, DMX & Scarface because of the depth of his content. Stream The Course of the Inevitable 2 below.

July 15, 2022

DJ Filthy Rich "Mecca & The Soul Brother" (30th Ann. Mix)



Toronto’s DJ Filthy Rich pays homage to the 30th anniversary of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s classic album, Mecca and the Soul Brother from 1992. Reminisce for a spell with a mix of original samples, remixes and unique blends, who adds that “The way Pete sampled old jazz/funk/soul records and layered them over hard, dusty drums was masterful (how he caught that little part on the fadeout of an Ohio Players record for "Lots Of Lovin" still amazes me). Combine that with C.L.'s sharp yet fluid lyricism (how many MC's could rhyme like THIS back in '92??), and you unquestionably have one of the pillars of early 90's NYC boom bap.” I agree, this was a masterful release. As I’ve said before, I had the honor of touring Europe with Eternia while Pete Rock & CL Smooth were performing this album almost in its entirety every night. Hearing “T.R.O.Y.” to close out the show every night was incredible - they are near-flawless performers and it was definitely a career highlight. Props to DJ Filthy Rich for doing this one justice, I hope it doesn’t get taken down. Listen to this mix below…

July 14, 2022

$tay Puft "$tay-Wu: Voltron" (Mixtape)


Los Angeles' $tay Puft put this mix together earlier this year, one of many in this similiar vein of paying homage to one of the greatest hip-hop collectives of all-time, Wu-Tang Clan. This particular chamber features joints "stitched together" from the first wave of Wu-Tang Clan solo albums. Roughly around the time between Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and Wu-Tang Forever. We're talking Liquid Swords, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Tical, Iron Man, etc. The early years were clearly something so special, specifically how RZA curated the sound so meticulously for each MC. There will never be anything like it again. Anyhow, the music speaks for itself, which is great, because this is just some shit you stumble upon late at night diggin' through Bandcamp. Follow the breadcrumbs...

July 13, 2022

The Roots "Tipping Point" (July 13, 2004)


A band is usually only as good as its front man. The Roots are no different. Take their last album Phrenology. When Black Thought stuck to a subject (for example, "Pussy Galore" and the first four minutes of "Water"), Phrenology's appeal went beyond the rock fans who dug "The Seed 2.0." So it's pretty safe to say that as Thought goes, so do The Roots. And on the Illadelph crew's sixth studio album, The Tipping Point, Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter delivers some of the best work of his underrated career. Sounding invigorated by the turbulent political climate, he condemns Dubya's foreign policy on "Why? (What's Going On?)" rhyming, "Young teen joins the Marines, said he'd die for the corps / Inducted in the government's war / Is it for land or money?" However, The Tipping Point is not about heavy-handed preaching. Producing entertaining music with a message is one of Hip-Hop's greatest challenges--ask your favorite struggling, "conscious" artist--but The Roots manage to pull it off. Even on "I Don't Kare," one of the band's most club-friendly beats to date, Tariq spits, "The police known the green, black and red are too strong to control." With their political agenda satisfied, The Roots go back to '88 with "Boom!" a vicious track akin to the Bomb Squad's chaotic, yet melodic barrage of sound. On the final two verses, the skillful mimicry extends to the mic, as Thought impersonates Big Daddy Kane's and Kool G Rap's voices and flows, down to the very last lisp. Such reverence for the past is admirable, but sometimes The Tipping Point goes off the deep end. Tariq veers off topic on "The Web," seemingly freestyling over a dull drum-and-bass heavy track. Also, while "Din Da Da" and "Melting Pot" are impressive instrumentals, at a combined twenty minutes in length, they disrupt the album's momentum. But those missteps don't spoil The Roots' most entertaining album since 1999's Things Fall Apart. With minimal cameos, skilled lyricism and topical rhymes abound, The Roots front man takes center stage on The Tipping Point. And that's to the benefit of everyone in the band. - The Source (Sept., 2004). Revisit The Tipping Point below...



The full review in The Source and more are below...

July 12, 2022

DJ Shortkut "Rekonstrukted Elements" (Mixtape, 1998)



​Versatile. Accomplished. Legendary. Jonathan Cruz aka DJ Shortkut is driven by passion for every genre of music. Shortkut began his career in San Francisco, California in 1987 as a mobile sound-system, progressing on to competing in World DJ Championships since 1994. He has established himself as a professional DJ and global jet setter showcasing his trend setting performances. DJ Shortkut,  is a member of 3 of the most influential DJ crews in history: The Invisibl Skratch Piklz, World Famous Beat Junkies and The Triple Threat DJs. As a seasoned veteran in battle DJ competitions, he is responsible for creating some of the most influential turntable routines of all time, literally birthing new techniques and innovations to the turntablist culture, while maintaining dance floors internationally playing the latest in music spanning countless genres. Rekonstruketed Elements was released in 1998 on cassette tape, and it's an amazing mix of original tracks reconfigured into the hip-hop tracks that sampled them. Enjoy his Rekonstrukted Elements below...

July 11, 2022

Take It Personal Podcast "Tribute to 1994, Part 2"


The Take It Personal crew returns for the second installment in their phenomenal tribute to our (yes, mine too!) favorite year in hip-hop, 1994. This mix in this episode features tracks from Troubleneck Brothers, Craig Mack, Ill Al Skratch, Funkmaster Flex, Mic Geronimo, Nas, Brand Nubian, Kurious, The Beatnuts, Urban Thermo Dynamics, The Fugees, Digable Planets, Ed O.G. & Da Bulldogs, The Roots, O.C., Organized Konfusion, Gang Starr, M.O.P., Gravediggaz, A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A.D.O.R., Big L, The Notorious B.I.G., Da Youngstas, Jeru The Damaja, and more. Listen below as they make the case for 1994 as the greatest year in Hip-Hop music...

July 10, 2022

Funkmaster Flex / Cipha Sounds "Big Dawg Vol.1" (Mixtape, 1998)


Another Tape Kingz release, from 1998, with Funkmaster Flex presents Cipha Sounds, Big Dawg Vol.1. Nothing exceptionally rare or anything, but a nice mix of East Coast flavors from the late 90s. Joints from Busta Rhymes, DMX, Cam'ron, Smif-N-Wessun, The LOX, The Notorious B.I.G., Mad Skillz, Charlie Baltimore, Gang Starr, Jay-Z, Black Rob, Mase, The Firm, and more. I've been feeling a lot more lately how nostalgia is a true mindf#ck, because it's not necessarily fond memories of the music itself, but those Tunnel days were just so important to what was happening on the streets and in the mixtape culture. Flex and Ciph were tearing it down and these are just some of the records that were blasting off. Noreaga credits "I'm Leaving" -- off The Firm Album -- as the track that jumpstarted his entire solo career. "All For The Love" by Jadakiss (The Lox) was so serious, not to mention "Stop Being Greedy" by DMX and "Black Trump" by Smif-N-Wessun and Raekwon. When you listen to these tracks through that lens, it adds another layer to the music/memories. Dig in...

July 09, 2022

Apollo Brown "This Must Be The Place" (Instrumental Album)



Prolific Michigan producer Apollo Brown transposed the happiness he’s found in his career, family, and circle of friends into his latest album: This Must Be the Place. Brown’s first instrumental project since the grimy noir, Thirty Eight (2014), This Must Be the Place is a continuation of the celebrated Clouds (2011) and a departure from it. Clouds was melancholic boom-bap made for the fall, the soundtrack to a ruminative walk through a leaf-strewn park beneath gray skies, but This Must Be the Place trades somberness for warm nostalgia and glimmers of hope. Brown offers moments for reflective gratitude and portals of escape through new permutations of East Coast-rooted boom-bap, his drums hitting with concussive force as snares crack like ice on midwestern lakes. Though Brown is a consummate and discerning crate digger, he sought different source material for This Must Be the Place. After soliciting compositions from ten trusted sound designers, Brown holed up in his basement home studio, looping, chopping, and deconstructing their work to create 21 wide-ranging productions. For every instrumental that inspires reflection, another transports you above the clouds and to the cosmos. At every sonic turn, This Must Be the Place can remind you to appreciate living the life you imagined or push you as you navigate there. Listen via MMG below...

July 08, 2022

DJ Clue "Show Me The Money" (Mixtape, 1997)


Another one from Queens' DJ Clue from 1997, Show Me The Money. Featuring dope exclusive freestyles from The Lox, Mase, Nature, Jay-Z, and Sauce Money, plus the worldwide exclusive of "Hypnotize" from The Notorious B.I.G.; joints from Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Buckshot, Capone-N-Noreaga, Cormega, Rampage, Cru, Allure & Nas, Mary J. Blige, Large Professor, Genovesee, Redman, Darkside and more. Lots of joints on this one! I remember running "Pronto" from Cru super hard that whole summer. "Genovese Thesis" too. Rest In Peace, Notorious B.I.G. Listen to the mix below...

July 07, 2022

Noreaga "N.O.R.E." (July 7, 1998)


No, this ain't no Pete Rock & CL Smooth type break-up. Noreaga has been forced by uncontrollable circumstances to release an album without the lyrical assistance of his partner Capone. Last year, the duo's critically-acclaimed debut, The War Report, was faithfully bumped in the underground, but was slept on like a Featherbed pillow by the mainstream. Still, after Capone's incarceration, Noreaga continued to hold down the fort. With a guest appearance on the Firm Album ("I'm Leaving") that couldn't go unnoticed, a solo project from Nore quickly became highly anticipated. With Capone's blessings, enter N.O.R.E. Representing Iraq (Lefrak), Queens to the fullest, Noreaga proves with the title track/first single that he can hang with the rest of the lyrical masterminds that have come outta the illustrious borough. What separates him from the rest? It's his signature characteristic, his language, his own form of Norebonics if you will. He even takes it to the next level on "Superthug," where his trademark "what, what" is repeated throughout the chorus. This unconventional cut will take about three listens to grow on you before you can appreciate how hot it is. Also blazing are the album's posse cuts: the anthemic "Banned From TV," which features Nature, Big Pun, Cam'ron, Styles and Jadakiss of The Lox; the rousing "The Assignment," on which Nore trades verses with newcomer Maze and Flipmode Squad's Busta Rhymes and Spliff Star; and the cinematic collaboration with Nas ("Body In The Trunk"). Ladies don't fret, Nore's got a couple songs for you too. He gets sincere on "The Way We Life" with Chico DeBarge; and on the introspective "I Love My Life," blessed by the crooning harmony of Bad Boy vocalist Carl Thomas, the charming thug validates his crossover appeal. Momentary slip-ups like the disappointing remake of Kool G Rap killer kut ("40 Island"), and the fraudulent party filler of "Fiesta," are easily overlooked as Nore rises to the top all by his damn self. Ya heard! - The Source. The album was well worthy of this 4-mic rating!



Original review in The Source magazine below...

July 06, 2022

Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf "Big Shots" (2003)


A budding lyrical kid named Charizma could have been much more than another poster child against senseless gun violence if only the hip hop community had ever been properly introduced. One spin through his long-awaited release, Big Shots, originally recorded with Peanut Butter Wolf between '91-'93, and it is painfully apparent that Charles Hicks, then a 19-year-old MC from San Jose, could have been among the ranks of early pioneers like the Fresh Prince, MC Lyte, De La Soul, Special Ed or perhaps even KRS-1 had his life not been tragically cut short. Ten years after Hicks' passing, Peanut Butter Wolf, released their bittersweet collaboration on his Stones Throw label to much belated praise. PB Wolf obviously holds Charizma in high esteem, as his single, "My World Premier,” was their first release in 1996. On it he rhymes, "In a b-boy stance, I'm in this smog all alone / When I didn't have a mic I rapped on headphones." Indeed, Charizma can't easily be compared to other old-school MC's. His nubile bravado does conjure a teenage Big Daddy Kane, who sips on Martinelli's apple juice and sucks on sweets not exclusive to the corner store. Review cont'd below...



The album is comprised of a vast array of solid tracks from both a lyrical and production standpoint, but only "Jack the Mack" and "Red Light Green Light" were released during Hicks’ lifetime. It wasn’t until PB Wolf started Stones Throw that these songs truly had an opportunity to shine. "Here's a Smirk,” the best single from the album, hits hard with Charizma eloquently balancing his intellect with his bad-boy playa side while PB cuts it up with fast-paced, jazzy snippets reminiscent of Tribe's Low End Theory sound. "Tell You Something" could induce dancefloor karaoke with the object of your evening's affections, especially the call and response anthem (Charizma: "I think I wanna tell ya something, His lady: Well go on, tell me something). There are also a handful of charming songs devoted to the ladies seduced by Charizma’s b-boy charm. Even as Hicks’ legacy hangs over the album, it must be known that Big Shots would not be nearly as memorable without PB Wolf's timeless production quality. "The style's deep even when we fall asleep / Dreaming of the usual...a rap beat," flows Hicks on "Methods,” a track so lovely and mellow that you would think it's sampled from DJ Shadow's Endtroducing, despite its creation almost four years prior. Big Shots offers a fresh glimpse of the early days of hip hop, where bitches were still honeys, the niggas were just brothas, and the MC battles knew their boundaries were onstage. Some might call Charizma's flow dated amidst the current haze of uzi-style rapping. Personally, I think this album brings the best of both worlds – an MC with class and a DJ/producer with sass who created music worthy of an urban time capsule. - Dusted Reviews. Rest In Peace, Charizma. Revisit the LP above.