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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Money Making Jam Boys - "The Day Job"

Black Thought and 10.Deep has united to bring us 'Prestige: Jam Boy Magic', the debut mixtape by Black Thought, Dice Raw, P.O.R.N., Truck North and STS as Money Making Jam Boys. The tape, which is mixed by Mick Boogie and Terry Urban, will be available from 12 pm on February 3 via 10deep.com. Check out another single from the crew below while we're waiting for the feast.

MONEY MAKING JAM BOYS - "DAY JOB"

[Shelved Classics] INI - "Center of Attention"

Some of the finest hip-hop albums of the ‘90s found themeselves left behind and shelved for various reasons. I decided to start a new section of The Lost Tapes dedicated to articles about some of those shelved classics. With these I will try to create something substanial and reader friendly using bits and pieces of information from any concerning interviews, articles and relevant word of mouth I can find. The article will of course be coloured by my own personal view of the music, and in each case I will upload it, or as much that is available, for you; my trusted readers. To kick things off, I can't think of a better way than with a piece on one of my personal favorites of all time; InI's shelved, and almost mythical, 
mid-‘90s debut ‘Center of Attention’.

InI started out as a four man crew, hailing from Westchester County in New York. The group consisted of Rob Odindo (better known as simply Rob-O), Grap Luva, I Love H.I.M. (also known as Raas) and Marco Polo (not to be confused with the producer/DJ of today). Through Grap Luva, the quartet had a strong connection with super producer, DJ Pete Rock, being that he's actually Grap’s older brother. Pete Rock had of course been blowing up as a high-profile DJ and producer through his work with rapper CL Smooth, his praised remix work and his gig as a DJ next to Marley Marl on the Future Flavaz Show. This success led to him getting the chance to start his own record imprint; Soul Brother Records would be distributed as a sub-division of Elektra. His initial signees was, not suprisingly, his brother Grap and the InI crew, together with another Mt. Vernon emcee named Deda Baby Pa. Rob-O, Grap and Deda had all made their recording debuts on the posse cut “The Basement” from Pete Rock and CL Smooth’s much hailed "Mecca and The Soul Brother" in 1992. This continued with appearances on 1994’s "The Main Ingredient", and in the linear notes to that album we can see Pete giving a shout to “InI & Deda Baby Pah for being very patient”. This lets us know that work on their respective albums had either begun or was just about to. 

Shortly after this, CL Smooth and Pete went separate ways, allowing the latter to fully make InI and Deda the center of his attention. Recordings for "Center of Attention" and Deda's "Everyman For Himself" took place at Green Street Studios, NY with Pete’s trusted right hand man; engineer Jamie Staub. Much point to my conclusion that the Deda Baby Pa album was the first of the two to be completed, and was also supposed to be the first to be released.


For the InI album, many songs mention the years 1995 and 1996 so we can assume that these were the years during which the album was recorded. Although the group now consisted of four members, only Grap Luva, Rob-O and I Love H.I.M. appeared continuously on the recorded tracks. Marco Polo had only two verses on the later released songs; heard rapping in French on “What You Say” and “Grown Man Sport”. While many artists and producers passed through the studio to check out what Pete Rock and his new protogĂ©s were working on, the guests on the album was kept to a minimum. Large Professor and Q-Tip stood for the higher profile cameos, while a young rhymer called Mekolicious made his debut on “Grown Man Sport". Had everything gone as planned with Soul Brother Records, it wouldn't suprise me if Mekolicious would've been the next project for the label considering there's plenty of Pete Rock produced demo tracks floating around from this time.
As for the production, Pete Rock handles all the tracks (with co-production by InI), besides the funky jam that is “Step Up Time”; that this was actually prouced by Grap Luva might caught a lot of heads off guard consdering that it’s as dope as anything on the LP, I guess the soul runs in the family, huh? Overall, the soundscapes are jazzy in nature with heavy emphasis on the bottom groove, relaxing reed instruments, soulful keys (often favoring the Fender Rhodes electronic piano), vibes and other sampled instruments that makes a great marriage with the constantly fat boom bap drums. Considering the three main rappers rhyme in a laid-back manner, with respective distinctive smooth voices, the beats and rhymes couldn't form a better relationship. I’ve heard people say that "Center Of Attention" wasn’t all that good lyrically; a statement I strongly disagree with. The trio might not be the most creative crew of all time, but they brought something interesting and sincere to the table with their mix of personal reflection, social commentary and rastafarian ideologies.

As the album was finished and ready for release in 1996, Dante Ross, the former A&R of Elektra’s hip-hop section had been replaced by Sylvia Rhone. This is where the tragedy struck; Rhone didn’t at all share Pete Rock’s vision for Soul Brother Records which was to be distributed by Elektra. “InI was a group that just didn’t progress on Elektra records due to switching of presidents. Sylvia Rhome came and then all hell broke lose. She fired a lot of people and didn’t put our project out”, Pete recalls. "Sylvia really didn't cooperate, she didn't break bread with me when it came down to resolving that. It was all about her changing everything around. She wanted to change my whole sound. When she said, "You gotta make a beat like Puffy", I just knew it wasn't going to work out”.
Before the battle was totally lost, Elektra at least released one single from the album; the incredible “Fakin’ Jax” that quickly became an underground success and got heavy radio play by DJs like Funkmaster Flex and Marley Marl. This didn't do much for Silvia Rhone, who still failed to see the albums potential and now decided to completely shelf it. The single itself is a collector's item, as it not only features the original, but also a slamming remix with Mekolicious and instrumentals; some versions also has the album song “Step Up Time” and an older Rob-O solo joint titled “Props”, which is said to have been recorded in 1992, and actually the sound is very reminiscent of "Mecca & The Soul Brother".

Had the single been released only a year prior, it could’ve made it onto the Billboard charts, but by 1996 hip-hop was changing rapidly much due to the success of Puff Daddy and Notorious B.I.G.'s more pop influenced rap styles. The missing success of “Fakin’ Jax”, despite its video and promotion, lead to the unlucky shelving of the project, although it would quickly become one of the most talked about and bootlegged LPs in hip-hop's history. 

Elektra only released an INI single and bootlegged the album. That’s how it got bootlegged, then people got copies of the album and tried to put it out, but certain songs are false, and the way they did it the quality’s not there. There’s none of the interludes that I put with the album out there, they’ve only got the regular stuff – and they don’t even have the whole lot! Of all the bootlegs, that’s not the whole album at all, period” Pete revealed in an interview with Unkut/Hip-Hop Connection. Anyone familiar with Pete’s catalogue knows one of his main signatures are those banging little instrumental interludes; often as dope as the actual songs on the respective albums. One or two of the vinyl bootlegs has featured a few of those intermissions but have in turned missed several songs; even the semi-official 2xCD release (which also included the Deda album) by Pete’s former label B.B.E.  failed to include any skits and instrumentals and replaced the song “Keep On” with the aforementioned B-side “Props”. “[BBE’s version] was something that I gave them to try to make amends with the group, to try to get them some money. But it didn’t really work out that way, they did some shenanigans with me.
As mentioned by Pete himself, the complete "Center Of Attention" has never been released to the public as originally intended. However, via different sources we can come close to how it was originally menat to be heard; an early bootleg a good portion of the interludes has been unearthed. These include three vocal skits (an intro, an outro and a midtro) and five instrumentals. Grap Luva has confirmed via his YouTube account that these specific instrumentals were in fact the ones recorded for the InI album. I have played around a little with them since I first got my hands on them, and really no matter how you place them in the sequencing, they really enhance the experience of this already fantastic album. 

The BBE version also omitted a song titled “Keep On” in favor of the aforementioned “Props”. For the version you'll find below, I did the complete opposite as I'm almost entirely sure that "Keep On" was the song that was supposed to appear on the original album, while "Props" was not. As my readers know, I always encourage heads to support the artist and purchase the music which is why i never post any full albums that are not out of print. Considering how Pete has said that BBE released the InI album without his permission, and has cheated him on a lot of money, I'm making this an exception so that you can hear this lost classic a little closer to the artists vision than the BBE version. However, I would like to say that I'm very grateful to BBE for releasing this and Deda, although slightly incomplete, in an official capacity and any Pete Rock fan should definitely own both albums in their collections. Tracklist and link below; let the soul and harmonics wash over you, and don't forget to TURN IT UP!!!:


01.   “Intro: Pete Rock Skit #1”
02.   “No More Words”
03.   “Step Up Time” [prod. by Grap Luva]
04.   “Interlude”
05.   “Think Twice”
06.   “Square One” (Ft. Pete Rock)
07.   “Interlude (H.I.M.)”
08.   “The Life I Live”
09.   “Keep On”
10.   “Interlude”
11.   “KrossRoads”
12.   “Pete Rock Skit #2”
13.   “To Each His Own” (Ft. Large Professor & Q-Tip)
14.   “Fakin’ Jax” (Ft. Pete Rock)
15.   “Interlude”
16.   “What You Say”
17.   “Center of Attention”
18.   “Pete Rock Skit #3”
19.   “Grown Man Sport” (Ft. Mekolicious)
20.   “Interlude”
21.   “What I Say”

Friday, January 28, 2011

Show & KRS-One - "Improve Myself"

This is either the fourth promotional single or an unathorized leak from BX's finest. Show & KRS-One's "Godsville" album is dropping February 15th. This is the last leak/single that I will post from the LP, if y'all like these as much as me I suggest you pick it up when it drops, it's a shame good projects like this don't sell shit these days. And then people wonder why artists choose to release half-assed commercialized albums like it's a mystery. Oh well...

SHOW FT. KRS-ONE - "IMROVE MYSELF"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raekwon - "Enter The Vatican" Vol. 1

One of the first compilations I made that i really put alot of thought and effort into was this Raekwon mix that i put together in 2008. Rae always been one of my absolute favorites and "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." is thee album i consider greatest of all time. Building up to that LP's sequel, the Chef dropped several solid mixtapes to build up hype, including the "Vatican" series. This mix is based on my favorite tracks from the three Vat tapes as well as some of the illest guest features and singles by Rae-Rae at the time. The cover for the project was created and given to me by Sean Frigot who actually designed the official cover for "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Part II" a year later. Much props to him and trust me when I tell y'all this is DOPE!

01. "My Corner"
02. "Flawless Crowns"
03. "Heavyweights"
04. "Treez"
05. "Rap Killers"
06. "Fly Shawty Penelope"
07. "Treasurers"
08.  "Baggage Handlers" (Ft. Busta Rhymes)
09. "Coca Mosaich" (Ft. Ill Bill)
10. "Da Destroyer"
11. "Fly Poetry"
12. "I Recall" (Ft. Smif-N-Wessun)
13. "Go Home"
14. "House Of Wax"
15. "Big Spender"
16. "Counterfittin'"
17. "Range Rover"
18. "State Of Grace"
19. "Kids That's Rich"
20. "The PJs" (Ft. Masta Killa & Pete Rock)
21. "True Masta Exclusive"
22. "Weed Part 2"
23. "The Young Black" (Ft. Ghostface Killah)
24. "Ice Water Inc."
25. "Cuban Chronicles"
BONUS TRACK
26. "The PJs From Afar" (Ft. El Michaels Affair)

DJ Premier breaks down "Step in the Arena"

One of the most groundbreaking rap masterpieces of all time, DJ Premier's and the late, great Guru's second album as Gang Starr really set them apart  from the majority of hip hop artists and was the start of an incredible legacy. In celebration of the albums 20 year anniversary HipHopDX.com conducted this incredible interview with Preemo; an essential read for any fan of Gang Starr or its members. Below is an excerpt of the interview to give y'all a taste and at the bottom of the page is a direct link to the article.

HipHopDX: “Making you succumb to the drums of Gang Starr.” Why wasn’t “Check The Technique” a single?!
DJ Premier: It was a single. It was our third 12”. “Just To Get A Rep” was the first 12”. And then “Step In The Arena” was the second. “Check The Technique” was the third. And “Credit Is Due” was the B-side…

DX: Oh okay, I didn’t know that. I guess ‘cause there wasn’t a video I didn’t know there had been a single release… Those drums are only like three seconds of the original song you sampled, Marlena Shaw’s “California Soul”. So how did you make those drums come to life like that?
DJ Premier: Whenever I produce, I do it with a deejay mentality. When I say a deejay mentality, we pay very close attention to everything that comes out on a record. We dissect it. And in the Hip Hop format, when it comes to sampling, I’m always trying to find a way to be unique with my drum sounds, and the way I chop. Sometimes you just can’t get enough of the parts to make it whole. So that’s when you have to really brainstorm to force it. Sometimes I force things to work, and they just happen to come out. But that’s just me understanding the science of sampling and piecing together breaks. I loved those drum sounds and those claps in the Marlena Shaw record and I just said, “Hey, I’m gonna chop it.” Thanks to Showbiz and Large Professor, I learned how to chop samples. They taught me early on before I even was doing it – I used to just do straight loops.    

DX: So you would cite “Check The Technique” as the birth of Preemo the chop-master?  
DJ Premier: No, it’s not the first. But, it’s one of ‘em.

DX: Now, I learned from watching the joint interview you did with Pete Rock for y’all’s DJ Premier vs. Pete Rock DVD that “Just To Get A Rep” was the first real production you did entirely on your own. What happened between [Gang Starr’s first album in 1989] No More Mr. Nice Guy and Step In The Arena that led to you becoming the solo beatmaker for the group?  
DJ Premier: I wanted to be a solo beatmaker to begin with, but I wasn’t that nice yet. I was okay. I was just using the sounds that was actually in the drum machine back at that time. ‘Cause I didn’t know that sampling was what they were doing in order to get those old-sounding kind of drums, until I started hearing all this Marley Marl stuff. I was just amazed at how he was using all these James Brown samples, and using these drums – Like, [The Honey Drippers’] “Impeach The President,” which I knew the song as a kid, but I was like, “How’s he making those drums play in place of these pre-made kicks and snares that come with the drum machine?” I had no clue. And once I saw he was using the S950 Akai sampler, I was like, “I gotta get one of those!” I saved my money. And the legendary [Audio Two and MC Lyte producer] King Of Chill, who actually works for me to this day, taught me how to work it without even having the drum machine to control it yet. I just did it manually by hand. And then once I was able to save money to get the drum machine to trigger it, then I bought an Alesis drum machine. I was on the [E-mu SP-1200] and then I went to an Alesis drum machine.

I met my engineer, Eddie Sancho, at D&D [Studios] – that was my first time working there because of Showbiz, who took me there to lay scratches for a Lord Finesse remix for “Return Of The Funky Man.” We worked out of Studio A in D&D. And when I heard the mix in my car I was like, “Damn, this shit sounds dope! I’ma start working here now.” So I gotta give Showbiz a lot of credit… Prior to [D&D] I was at Calliope Studios. I was trying to get the sound, like I said, that Marley and all them was getting [from Calliope]. I didn’t know Marley personally, so I couldn’t get at him. I used to like the way the Jungle Brothers were mixing their records down, and De La Soul, and they were all working at Calliope. So being that the Straight Out The Jungle album was done there, and De La Soul did a lot of stuff there [for] 3 Feet High And Rising, I was like, “Yo, you know what? If I start doing beats on a better level maybe I can get it to sound like their records.” Without bitin’ of course, but still to get that raw, old drum sound.

And now that I had learned all these different techniques, I started practicing at my apartment - when me and Guru lived together in the Bronx. We had just moved to the Bronx. And that’s how I met Panchi from NYG’z. That’s how I met Malachi The Nutcracker from Group Home. That’s how I met Smiley The Ghetto Child. That’s how we all got cool, because I moved to the Bronx ‘cause Guru was going out with this girl who was subletting her apartment and we moved in: me, him and our dancer, H.L. Rock.

From there, Guru was saying that I have to do more than just deejay on the records and do scratches. He said, “Just scratching on the records is not enough to get [you] paid half the money.” So that’s when I was like, “Well what else I gotta do?” He said, “You gotta make the beats, by yourself.” And I was like, “Alright. Well let me start practicing.” So since we lived together, I used to just practice everyday – just looping on turntables the parts that I wanted. And I’d mark the records and set ‘em aside. Then when it came down to getting it crackin’ [for the Step In The Arena album], and we finally got a budget – ‘cause we had just left Wild Pitch Records [after No More Mr. Nice Guy] and got a budget with Chrysalis Records – I was able to now really, really work on my craft. And I started practicing more and more. Then I started making all these beats. “Step In The Arena” was the first one I made. “Who’s Gonna Take The Weight?” was the second one I made – I was cuttin’ that little horn whistle [from Maceo & The Macks’ “Parrty”] over and over with two copies. And I would just mark all this stuff down on a piece of paper and make it happen. Guru put his trust in me and said, “Yo, I like every beat. Let’s roll.”      

DX: And would you say there was a strategic sonic aim for the sophomore album, or was it just diggin’ and using whatever you unearthed at the time?

DJ Premier: Oh yeah, definitely, sonically it was the most important because I’m trying to get the sound that I like just as a fan [of the music] that these other artists are doing. When I heard [De La Soul’s] “Plug Tunin’” I’m like, “What the hell?!” And the echoes, and their vocal structure, and the way they were rhyming, they were being different. So I always wanted to be different. That’s the reason why I started using Jazz samples, ‘cause none of them were doing that. Everybody was James Brown, or rare [Funk and Soul] samples. But no one was really messing with Jazz samples, so I was like, “Well shit, these don’t even have singing and stuff on ‘em, it’s just an instrumental. I could rip all kinda things off of that.” I was just using Jazz samples ‘cause nobody else was. I wasn’t trying to create a new thing called Jazz Rap or something like that. I was just staying ahead of the curve, which is what my father always told me to do: be a leader and be different from everybody else. And that’s exactly what my whole mentality is now, and was back then.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ghostface's "2Getha Baby" video

The first single/video from Ghostface Killah's latest album, "Apollo Kids", which I actually received in the mail today. Definitely worth the money if you ask me, short but sweet and luckily lacks much filler material. He should work on his promotion though, the album dropped a month ago and the first video is out today?! Oh well, as long as the music knocks i'm happy (although I must say he should picked another one for the single, say "Starkology", "How You Like Me Baby" or "Purified Thoughts", etc.).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Game & The RZA

The Game's collaboration with Wu-Tang producer The RZA was announced several months ago. Apparantly the two recorded at least one track for Game's upcoming "The R.E.D. Album" dropping sometime this year. With the intent of building up some hype the man just released his new mixtape, "Purp & Patron" today which features this RZA produced track that also features some vocals from RZA's Chicago protogé Reverend William Burks. I got the sense that Burks might blow up BIG soon enough since he's really talented and got good connections with celebrated artists like RZA and R. Kelly. Hopefully it's just a matter of time cuz he deserves it! Check out the track below and drop a comment on your thoughts on it. You can download the entire mixtape HERE as well.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Must-read interview with Pete Rock

VIBE Magazine posted this amazing article on Pete Rock and a lot of his essential works over the years, letting him break down the making of important albums and tracks he had a hand in. All his albums (with CL and solo), plus joints with Run DMC, Raekwon, Ghostface, Kanye/Jay-Z, Biggie, Big L and more. Definitely a must for any fan of Pete's discography. Check it out below.

PETE ROCK @ VIBE.COM

4th Disciple TV

I always held 4th Disciple in a very high regard, an extremely talented but underrated producer that definitely evolved his own sound. He often uses samples from unexpected sources such as classical works or abstract music but once he's finished with it, it's definitely hip-hop all the way. He was with Wu-Tang Clan all the way from the beginning, laying down cuts on their debut album, co-producing on various of their solo projects in the '90s and produced five brilliant joints on the epic multi-platinum "Wu-Tang Forever" (1997) double album. He is most known for producing the vast majority of Killarmy's three albums "Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars" (1997), "Dirty Weaponry" (1998) and finally "Fear, Love and War" (2001). Since then he's been rather quiet, various projects has been announced but very few has come to fruition but it seems he's getting ready to enter the game again, with Killarmy's upcoming album in the works and announcing verious instrumental projects and mixtapes on Twitter. Check him out on Twitter here for further updates.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stream the new Talib Kweli LP

As many artist do these days, Talib Kweli has decided to upload his entire new album via his Myspace. The album, which is called "Gutter Rainbows" (and sports some heavy artwork as seen above) features production work from Marco Polo, Ski Beatz, M-Phazes, Oh No and 88-Keys amongst others and is dropping this coming Tuesday. If you like what you hear I recommend you pick this up when it's available, Kweli usually delivers.

CHECK IT OUT HERE

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More Show & KRS-One!

Another banger from Show & KRS-One's forthcoming album 'Godsville' which now seems to have gotten a release date, February 15 this year is the day hip-hop heads worldwide should be opening up their wallets. What I've heard from the album so far sounds real promising and it's amazing to see seasoned vets like Show and Kris still going hard and pumping out banger after banger. Link via http://2dopeboyz.com, all props to them.

SHOW & KRS-ONE - "THE TRUTH"

Pete Rock & The Wu-Tang Clan

I was a bit hesitant to do this compilation at first, mainly because I know all of Pete Rock and Wu-Tang's albums like the back of my hand, but after putting it together and sequencing it right I was blown away by how dope these joints sounds together. The Wu-Tang Clan is still my favorite crew of all time, and it's great that they are still putting out some of the best albums in the industry today (like "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Part II", "Fishscale" and "Grandmasters") and Pete Rock will always be at least top 3 on my list of favorite producers. The saying that great minds think alike often turns out to be very true, and that's evident here when Pete Rock meets the Wu-Tang Clan. About 90% of these are ripped from my personal CD collection; the compilation consists of tracks from Pete Rock's "Soul Survivor" (1998), "Soul Survivor 2" (2004) and "NY's Finest" (2008) as well as a bunch of Wu-Tang Clan solo LP's. These are; Inspectah Deck's "Uncontrolled Substance" (1999), Raekwon's "Immobilarity" (1999) and "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II", Ghostface Killah's "Fishscale" (2006) and "Apollo Kids" (2010/track recorded 2006), "Blackout 2" by Method Man & Redman (2009), and finally Masta Killa's "Made in Brooklyn" (2006).

The three remaining tracks have not yet been released on any retail album; Smif-N-Wessun and Raekwon's "Prevail" (which sounds as a way iller "Criminology" sequel than the one Rae and Ghost recently recorded) will appear on S-N-W's collaboration LP with Pete Rock which drops on Duck Down later this year. "Kids That's Rich" is a Raekwon song that was released on several mixtapes during the Chef's hype building promotion marathon leading up to "Cuban... 2". I believe the track is from circa 2006 and is a very possible "Cuabn Linx II" outtake. The last song on here is a radio rip of Pete Rock's remix of Cappadonna's classic "Slang Editorial" which was played by Pete on his Future Flavaz show in 1998 or early '99. Therefore the quality is not the best but it is what it is; by the way he later used that beat for his remix of Black Star's masterpiece "Respiration". Enough talk, download all these collaborations between the one and only Soul Brother #1 and the 8 Diagram Pole Fighters, who are all represented here with the exception of U-God.

01. "Head Rush" (Ft. RZA & GZA)
02. "Tru Master" (Ft. Inspectah Deck & Kurupt)
03. "Half Man, Half Amazing" (Ft. Method Man) [co-prod. by Grap Luva]
04. "Dogs Of War" (Ft. Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Cappadonna, Trife & Sun God)
05. "The PJ's" (Ft. Raekwon & Masta Killa)
06. "Sonny's Missing" (Ft. Raekwon)
07. "A-Yo" (Ft. Method Man & Redman)
08. "Trouble Man" (Ft. Inspectah Deck)
09. "Chunky (How You Like Me Baby?) (Ft. Ghostface Killah)
10. "R.A.G.U. (Rae And Ghost United)" (Ft. Ghostface Killah & Raekwon)
11. "Sneakers" (Ft. Raekwon)
12. "Strange Fruit" (Ft. Cappadonna, Tragedy Khadafi & Sticky Fingaz)
13. "Be Easy" (Ft. Ghostface Killah)
14. "Kids That's Rich" (Ft. Raekwon)
15. "Prevail" (Ft. Smif-N-Wessun & Raekwon)
16. "Older Gods Part II" (Ft. Masta Killa)
17. "Tha Game" (Ft. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah & Prodigy)
18. "Slang Editorial" [Pete Rock Remix] (Ft. Cappadonna)

PETE ROCK Meets WU-TANG CLAN - "HALF CLAN, HALF AMAZING"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The making of "Illmatic" (XXL)

XXL Magazine sometimes runs this amazing features on the making of certain certified hip-hop classics, by interviewing the producers, artists, guests, engineers, A&Rs, etc. To me the two best hip-hop LPs of all time are Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." and Nas's "Illmatic" so it was a true blessing to read both extensive pieces on the creation of both those gems back when XXL published them. I can't remember who scanned the Nas article that make up this post, but I think I got them on some forum, most likely Wu Corp, so if that person sees this and wants his rightfull props then just let me know. XXL published this about a year or two ago but I want to upload them for anyone that might've missed out on them since any true hip-hop head will find these very interesting and informative. Of course you can just click on each picture below to see them in full size or you can download the .rar file at the bottom of this post.


DOWNLOAD "THE MAKING OF ILLMATIC" Scans

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW Showbiz & KRS-One

Following the first single, "Show Power", here is the second leak from the upcoming Show/KRS-One collaboration 'Godsville' (and the second D.I.T.C. banger of the day) which is most definitely one of my most anticipated releases of the year right now. "We Love This" also features an MC by the name of Fred Da Godson.

SHOW & KRS-ONE - "WE LOVE THIS"

Raekwon's "Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang"

Man alot of great and interesting singles dropping today and I think I saved the best for last as Raekwon drops the second single from his upcoming "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" LP supposedly dropping in March. This is the title track from the album, which I believe is produced by Scram Jones who created a gang of bangers for "Cuban Linx II". Raekwon posted the artwork as well, although I'm not sure if this is the album cover or the single artwork and although it's not very creative I've seen way worse. In case you missed it, don't forget to check out the previous single "Butter Knives".

RAEKWON - "SHAOLIN VS. WU-TANG"

Freeway & Statik Selektah w. Lil' Fame...

I'm always on the lookout for anything related to M.O.P. and especially since Fame and Danze often sound incredible over Statik Selektah's beats, this new Lil' Fame cameo comes as a nice little suprise. This is taken from Philladelphia MC's Freeway's new EP with Statik and the track also features a verse by Termanology (who I never really cared for). The 7-tracks EP is called "The Statik" and is available for purchase through iTunes by clicking here.

New J-Live & Diamond D

J-Live is a very underrated MC to me, he knows how to flip a ill concept and knows how to pick a killer beat whether he is producing it himself or having someone like DJ Spinna or DJ Premier make it for him. This time he has connected with one of my favorites, Diamond D, who is still very capable of lacing hot wax which has recently been proved on records such as Pharoahe Monch's "Shine" or Collective Effort's "I Get Down". This single, "No Time to Waste", is on sale via iTunes so if you want a download just head over there and pay 1$. However J has put up a stream of the track on his Bandcamp page, just click the link below to listen.
J-LIVE - "NO TIME TO WASTE"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another La The Darkman tape

A few weeks back I posted a new mixtape by La The Darkman put together by J-Love, "Return Of The Darkman Pt. II". Now Darkman returns with more new music, this time overseen and mixed by The Evil Genius, DJ Green Lantern; apparantly La has been giving out this tape at his recent tour dates with the Wu-Tang Clan. 20 tracks, some which we've heard before like "Cold World", and some (at least to me) brand new; includes guest features from Bun B, Too $hort, Styles P and Mobb Deep. Shouts to the homie DaFran for opening my eyes up to this one.

01. "L.A.D."
02. "I Ain't Letting Shit Slide"
03. "I Get That Paper"
04. "Certified B-Boy" (Ft. Bun B)
05. "Cold World"
06. "Everything to Gain"
07. "Boy You Special"
08. "Sweat" (Ft. Fabolous & Ray J)
09. "I Make The Money"
10. "We Scheming" (Ft. Mobb Deep & Nyce The Future)
11. "Embassy Invasion" (Ft. Willie The Kid)
12. "Necessary Way" (Ft. Willie The Kid)
13. "The Way It Is"
14. "I Ain't The One" (Ft. Styles P & Maino)
15. "Doing It Again"
16. "Survive The Nine" (Ft. Uncle Murda)
17. "Fuck A 9 to 5" (Ft. .38 Special)
18. "Integrity"
19. "Cash Weight, Real Estate"
20. "Tipper Love" (Ft. Too $hort & The-Dream)

Madonna and DJ Premier?!

Now this is some unexpected but funny shit right here, a connection between the worlds of hardcore hip-hop and mainstream hip-hop by two of the leading artists of the respective genres. This DJ Premier remix has actually been talked about alot on the net during the years, becoming a myth that many doubted even existed. Madonna released her single, "Don't Tell Me" sometime in 2000 and Premier supplied her with two remixes for the single. It seems she couldn't handle the realness and dismissed both versions, and now in 2011 one of them surfaces through a radio rip of Preemo himself playing it on his show. Shouts to Gim @ the DJ Premier site, it's always fun to hear some different shit like this. Head over to Gim's site to hear a radio rip of Jeru The Damaja's original Hot 97 intro using the "10 Crack Commandments" beat which is how Biggie heard it in the first place. In addition, don't forget to check out "The Soul Of Preemo"   a compilation I made of Premier's R&B and soul remixes/productions.

MADONNA - "DON'T TELL ME (DJ PREMIER REMIX)"

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Money Making Jam Boys

 The Money Making Jam Boys are a group consisting of lead MC Black Thought and several lesser known rappers that we've gotten to know through guest spots on various The Roots project; Dice Raw, STS, P.O.R.N. and Truck North. These guys have worked on a project together for a while now and although several BTS videos and such has surfaced this is the lead-off single from an upcoming mixtape hopefully dropping sooner than later. This record is produced by Khari Mateen who previously worked with Black Thought on The Roots tracks such as "Clock With No Hands", "Game Theory" and "Criminal". Link courtesy of @ 2dopeboyz.com.

MONEY MAKING JAM BOYS - "Tear It Down"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

[Comp] TALIB KWELI + DJ HI-TEK - "Revolutionary Thoughts V.1"

A while ago I put together this compilation with the fantastic MC/producer duo that is DJ Hi-Tek and Talib Kweli and together becomes Reflection Eternal. The two met in Hi-Tek's hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio where they worked for the first time on a Talib Kweli feature for Mood's debut albuum, "Industry Lies". They instantly found that they shared a musical chemistry which led to Hi-Tek producing nearly half of Kweli's classic collaboration LP with Mos Def as Black Star. Following this the producer and MC signed a deal with Rawkus Records and started working on their own debut album, which would become the celebrated "Train Of Thought"; one of the most prominent hip-hop releases of 2000. Around the time of that release Kweli and Hi-Tek made sure to get their names out to the public; working on soundtracks and compilations while releasing exclusive singles and collaborating with other artists of the day. The vast majority of the songs found on "Revolutionary Thoughts Vol. 1" is made up of those tracks, from the afro-mentioned Mood debut to the joints from "Soundbombing II" and the Talib Kweli features on Hi-Tek's solo debut in 2001. In other words the 16 selections presented above represent the original "Train of Thought" era sound as these songs were all recorded between 1997 and early 2001.

It would take the two almost ten years to come full circle and release a second album as Reflection Eternal, which happened back in May of last year. Their sophmore album, "Revolutions Per Minute" catched very mixed reviews, making it seem to be one of those albums that you either love or hate. Personally I really enjoyed "R.P.M.", although it sounds very different in tone from their debut which I guess is what threw alot of peeps off at first. The next installment of this claaa7 series will feature the songs the duo recorded during the years leading up to the second LP. It's a cool thing to see their evolution. If you like this material I suggest you order or pick up both of their retail albums as they are definitely worthy entries in any serious hip-hop collection.

01. "Theme Song"
02. "Train Of Thought"
03. "Manifesto"
04. "Industry Lies" (Ft. Mood)
05. "Fortified Live" (Ft. Mos Def & Mr. Mann)
06. "Let Me See (Remix)" (Ft. Morcheeba)
07. "Transmorgify" (Ft. Mood)
08. "Empty Pages" (Ft. Mood)
09. "On Mission"
10. "Chaos" (Ft. Bahamadia)
11. "Beautiful (Hi-Tek Remix)" (Ft. Mary J. Blife & Mos Def)
12. "Get Back Part II" (Ft. DCQ)
13. "The Human Element"
14. "2000 Seasons"
15. "Sharp Shooters" (Ft. Dead Prez)
16. "Down For The Count"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The best album of 2010 goes to....

Those who know me know I basically regard the D.I.T.C. crew as gods of hip-hop. From that collective hails the legend known to the world as Buckwild and as far as I’m concerned he hasn’t got much all that many worthy competitors among true school producers. Since his early work on OC’s classic debut Word…Life’, his signature boom bap sound has been sought out by everyone from Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G. and Angie Martinez to Street Smartz, Cormega and his D.I.T.C. comrades. In 2007 Buck released a double album highlighting some of his rarer classic productions and remixes from ’93 to ’97, making for close to three hours of essential listening. When rapper Celph Titled (of Demigodz and Army of Pharaohs fame) announced he had recorded an album using nothing but Buckwild productions I got hyped, but at the same time I wasn’t fully sold on the concept. The idea was to use previously unreleased and 100% unheard beats recorded between 1993 and 1996. During that golden era the producer reached a peak which resulted in countless classics; but maybe the beats that Celph Titled got a hold of had been left on the cutting room floor for a reason?

When I first heard the retail album I quickly realized that there had been no reason to worry. The album is actually better than I would have hoped for. Strangely enough the production doesn’t sound the least bit dated and is often just as good as the hottest material on the 2007 compilation I mentioned above - 'Diggin' In The Crates: Rare Studio Masters '93-97'.

The soundscapes on 'Nineteen Ninety Now's 16 tracks are with few exceptions aggressive, dusty and raw , with focus on a rhythm section on full blast with emphasized bass riffs and knocking drums. The atmosphere is drenched in jazz vibes (and to a lesser extent soul, rock and funk) with magnificent horns, jazzy organ riffs, vibraphones and other traditional instruments from the genre dropping in and out of the sound picture. As a true virtuoso on the SP1200, Buckwild’s perfectly crafted collage of samples on masterpieces like "The Deal Maker", "Wack Juice" and "Eraserheads" clearly reminds me why I fell in love with hip-hop to begin with.
But great productions alone will only get an album halfway to greatness and I'll be the first to admit that Celph Titled and the Demigodz never really grabbed my attention. Therefore the white Tampa emcee really surprised me with his outstanding performance here; he really makes the impeccable beats justice with his hardcore delivery and often hilarious battle rhymes. Without sounding dated he has a lot of  the qualities of a mid-‘90s rapper as the influences from Lord Finesse and the ghost of Big L’s spirits shines through in the clever punchlines and salty one-liners. Celph delivers so many memorable quotables on here that it ain’t even funny… or actually it is. His gruff voice deserves a mention as well as it really matches the sinister tone of the music Buck provides him with on the disc.

Another strong point that earns the LP loads of extra points and credibility is the ambitious choices of guests that help Celph Titled wreck mics over these timeless instrumentals. There’s a really good balance in the features in the way that we get to hear the main emcee go forth-and-back with a host of respectable underground legends from both sides of the perspective. Naughty By Nature’s Treach and Jedi Mind Trick’s Vinnie Paz help rip tracks to shreds while four brilliant posse cuts sprinkled throughout the LP’s 16 songs fuel the overall greatness. As a fan of both D.I.T.C. and Brand Nubian my favorite among those has to be “Take It In Blood” which has murderous cameos from Grand Puba, Sadat X, AG, OC and Diamond D. Phew!  We also have the too dope to describe “Swashbuckling” where Celph goes head-to-head with his Demigodz crew (Ryu, Apathy, Esoteric); making it a masterpiece both lyrically and musically as each rapper gets their own equally outstanding beat for their respective verses. 

Buckwild and Celph Titled have made the fattest album of 2010, a year that had plenty of good releases making it quite ironic that it’s an album partly recorded fifteen years prior; much because this sound has gone lost in this modern day and age. If you love the dusty East Coast bap of the early ‘90s, before it was all about shiny suits and big chains, go out and support Celph Titled and Buckwild’s 'Nineteen Ninety Now' and enter the time machine. This is real hip-hop for real heads - creatiive sample based boom with the bap, braggadocio rhymes with the right attitude and incredible turntable work that stands as a bold attempt at reintroducing the DJ as a force to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saigon - "The Greatest Story Never Told"

 The official debut album of talented Brooklyn emcee Saigon has been pushed back time and time again since it was first announced around 2005. A few promising singles like "Come On Baby" with Jay-Z got released years ago, and at times producer Just Blaze and Sai hyped it up to be the second coming of 'Illmatic' while we has also been left to believe that the album isn't going to be released at all. Now it seems that Saigon finally got his distribution together and will be releasing "The Greatest Story Never Told" on February 15th and while Just Blaze is still the main producer we will also see Buckwild and KanYe West amongst others creating soundscapes for the album.

After all the hype and countless dope guest verses from the emcee over the years it will be interesting to see how much of the promised potential it can really live up to. Here is the title track from the album, "The Greatest Story Never Told", and below is the final tracklist with credits. Links spotted at the dopehouse.

01 Station Identification (Intro) f. Fatman Scoop (prod. Just Blaze)
02 The Invita Saigon f. Q-Tip & Fatman Scoop (prod. Just Blaze)
03 C’mon Baby f. Swizz Beatz & Jay-Z (prod. Just Blaze)
04 War (prod. Scram Jones)
05 Enemies (prod. D. Allen)
06 Friends (prod. Just Blaze)
07 The Greatest Story Never Told (prod. Just Blaze)
08 Clap f. Faith Evans (prod. Just Blaze)
09 Preacher (prod. Just Blaze)
10 It’s Alright f. Marsha Ambrosious (prod. Kanye West)
11 Believe It (prod. Just Blaze)
12 Give It To Me f. Raheem DeVaughn (prod. SC)
13 What The Lovers Do f. Devin The Dude (prod. Red Spyda)
14 Better Way f. Layzie Bone (prod. Just Blaze)
15 Oh Yeah (Our Babies) (prod. Buckwild)
16 Bring Me Down (prod. DJ Corbett)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mobb Deep - "Muda Muzik" (Advance)

Mobb Deep's album "Muda Muzik" owas one of the many rap releases in 1999 that got hurt by early leaking via sites like Napster, well before there respective release dates. Other releases include NaS's "I Am...The Autobiography", Inspectah Deck's "Uncontrolled Substance" and Jigga's "Life & Times of S. Carter (Vol. III)". I struggled for a long time with finding accurate info on the advance copy of "Murda Muzik" and collecting the material and put the songs in the right order. It seems there was three different versions of the LP; one promo version, there was this advance that was sent out to magazines like The Source (where it received 4.5 mics) and then of course the retail. In a way I like this version just as much, some songs that got cut for the retail are straight up incredible and some of the weaker tracks from there are not on this. The only prolem is that some of the songs have pretty weak sound quality, but just replace those songs with the ones on the retail version..

Havoc's production was still dark and sinister, with some of the tightest drums in the game, and P totally spazzes out all over "Murda Muzik". This seriously is one of my favorite performance by him of all time; or by anyone for that matter. If you don't think Prodigy was ever lyrical or a top MC on a technical level you're fooling yourself big time. Just listen how he delivers impreccable lines like "This is Heavy Metal for the black people, it's rock and roll but it's hip-hop though/ my drug music, thereaputic to the user - you SLAM DANCE to it". There's jewels like this all over the album and Havoc ain't no slouch either that's for damn sure. The original version  of "Pile Raps" is one of the illest tracks on the entire advance, 100% QB shit and it's a shame it was cut from the retail.

This was probably the last incredible Mobb Deep long-player that works front-to-back although every album since then has dope songs worth listening to every once in a while but they never reached "The Infamous...", "Hell On Earth" and "Murda Muzik".

EDIT:  The original grouprip of the advance is now up here - http://claaa7.blogspot.se/2012/05/revisited-mobb-deep-murda-muzik.html

01. "White Lines (Quiet Storm)"
02. "What's Ya Poison?" (Ft. Cormega)
03. "Allustrious"
04. "Mobb Comin' Thru (Perfect Plot)" (Ft. Big Noyd)
05. "Adrenaline"
06. "The Realest" (Ft. Kool G Rap)
07. "Fuck That Bitch" (Ft. Big Noyd)
08. "Feel My Gat Blow"
09. "Where Ya Heart At?"
10. "Where Ya From" (Ft. 8-Ball)
11. "Murda Muzik"
12. "Streets Raised Me" (Ft. Big Noyd)
13. "Pile Raps"
14. "Nobody Likes Me"
15. "Let A Ho Be A Ho"
16. "U.S.A. (Aiight Then)" (Ft. NAS)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Between A Rock & A Smooth Place

Hope all my readers had a great New Year's eve! With talk of a Pete Rock and CL Smooth reunion in 2011 what better way to start the new year with than a banging collection of their more rare work. While their career as a duo was certainly short the duo managed to produce two classic albums in "Mecca & The Soul Brother" and "The Main Ingredient" and their debut EP, "All Souled Out". Before they broke up in early 1995 they released a slew of dope B-sides and soundtrack contributions (tracks 1-8). Since then they have only re:united sporadically with selections on Pete Rock's solo LPs and various side works (tracks 9-16). One thing is for sure; despite their differences, whenever they come together to create music the chemistry is still intact and allows the magic to be placed on wax. I just used the cover from their Best Of album, "Good Life" (why the hell not right?`).

01. "It's Not A Game"
02. "What's Next On The Menu?"
03. "Down With The King" (Ft. Run DMC)
04. "One In A Million"
05. "Don't Curse" (Ft. Heavy D, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Grand Puba & Q-Tip)
06. "Who's The Mic Wrecka?!" (Ft. Da Youngsta's)
07. "Death Becomes You" (Ft. YG'z)
08. "We Specialize" (Ft. Unknown)
09. "Da Two"
10. "Back On Da Block"
11. "Shine On Me"
12. "Climax"
13. "Family Affair Part II" (Ft. Mary J. Blige)
14. "It's A Love Thing"
15. "Who Is This?" (Ft. Passi)
16. "Appreciate"