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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

[Exclusive Interview] OXYGEN Pt. 1

New York based emcee Oxygen, sometimes Ox The Architect, is one of those emcees who's been paying his dues for years, dropping true quality music on a fairly regular basis. Releasing his first solo 12" back in 1990, as Jonzhaft The Psychopath, and as part of the early '90s jazz/hip-hop fusion scene with the group Jazz Not Jazz, Oxygen is one of the underground scene's best kept secrets. Fellow artists like DJ Spinna, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Sadat X, and Kurious already recognizes the name and know the skills behind it, yet many listeners have yet to discover the true school hip-hop that Ox The Architect embodies. But things are starting to look up as more and more heads all over the world are starting to embrace his work with former crew Sputnik Brown, his duo Spox-PhD with DJ Spinna, and his latest work with super group Soundsci. The latter just dropped one of 2012's best releases in the form of "Formula 99", so if you haven't heard that yet make sure to grab it/check it out ASAP. If you know the music, it's now time to learn to know the man as Ox has graced The Lost Tapes with a very informative interview; and if you have yet to learn about the music, hopefuly this interview will help you wake up and smell the coffee!

claaa7: First of all many thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview for The Lost Tapes. It is extremely appreciated!

Oxygen: Thank you. It's an honor and pleasure to be granted this interview.

c7: For those not yet too familiar with your music and many projects, could you give us a quick breakdown of which crews you currently rep and what aliases you go by?

Ox: Sure, I go by the name Oxygen most of the time. Sometimes I use 'Ox The Architect' or my first ever emcee name 'Just Divine'. I'm part of the groups Sputnik Brown, Soundsci and SPOX PhD with DJ Spinna. In my PAST rhyme-life I recorded under the name 'Jonzhaft The Psycopath' and 'Jon Shaft' as part of the group Jazz Not Jazz, both in the early 1990s.

c7: Many emcees would be perfectly happy just repping one crew haha; you instead have gone full throttle to get your name out there, and it definitely seems to be working!

Ox: Thanks man. I have to give praise to my parents for instilling this work ethic in me. I learned early by watching them. For me, it's all about quality over quantity. I don't accept every project that is presented to me, but if I choose to work on anything I make sure I give it my absolute best and work hard at it.

c7: Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're an emcee originally from Long Island, right? How did that surrounding inspire you in first grabbing a microphone, and how old were you when you first started rhyming?
Ox: That's correct. My area and a few of the immediate towns surrounding have bred some of the finest emcees, singers, and musicians in the industry. Some of the most notable are Rakim, Supreme Force (Freddie Foxxx 1st group), De La Soul, Too Poetic, Groove B. Chill, Bolaji, J.V.C. F.O.R.C.E., EPMD, Craig Mack, Keith Murray, LL Cool J (who is originally from my hometown of North Babylon), Tone Kapone from Def Squad, Resident Alien... The list goes on and on. There were also some ill DJ crews as well. This whole melting pot of style constantly flowing through the air by the mid-80's was crazy. But way before then, back in the early '80s, my first inspirations were the combination of a local DJ crew called Fantasy, Inc. & one of my older sisters best friends named Greg Rawls (RIP). Fantasy, Inc. used to set up their sound system on the next block over from me, and a few random emcees would hop on the mic and get loose. Then I would notice many of the emcees also spun records as well. So for me, becoming a DJ and emcee kind of happened at the same time based on seeing this. I would say I was around 11 or 12 when I caught the bug. It was Rawls who fine tuned them both for me. He was the first older guy that "allowed" me to touch his turntables. With Fantasy, Inc. that was out of the question unless you were crew. Greg would also hop into the corner ciphers when my friends and I would be out there practicing our little rhymes. I miss him a lot.

c7: You're part of at least three crews that specializes in a certain brand of hip-hop; one that I would like to call modern true school hip-hop. Do you think that's a fitting description of the music you strive to make?

Ox: Well, I'm not sure that I would label it anything. What I strive to make is simply SOUL music. My writing stems from the connection a beat has with my spirit. So at the end of the process, it's all deemed as soul music to me. With all the groups I've worked with, there was always strong emphasis on the writing. Many songs that come out these days you can instantly feel the disconnect artists have with their music, which leads to the consumer having no connection with it either. I just want my songs to stand the test of time. Something you can go back to, and have some kind of memory about the first time you heard them.

c7: I really like your take on that! Your latest endeavor is as part of the group Soundsci, which is a quintet if I'm not mistaken? Y'all just released our incredible debut album "Formula 99" to much critical acclaim. Did the release meet the expectations you were hoping for? 

Ox: Yes, Soundsci is (now) a five man crew. As far as the album, it definitely met my expectations both sonically and the way people are responding to it. We don't have any major distribution set up for it, which we're in the process of trying to change that. Still in all, the buzz has been growing and we're quite pleased.

c7: What is the meaning behind the album title, "Formula 99"?
Ox: "Formula 99" basically describes the combination of the sound we've created as a unit with us all being elements of different groups. 1999, you can say, was also the year in which the broader sound of rap music started to cross over dramatically. What we wanted to do was not so much stay stuck in the '90s, but bring that whole vibe into the future with us as we build our catalog. Most of the album was complete before I added on with the group. When I heard the tracks that had already been laid down for the album, plus the impressive "Dig For Victory" EP, I knew I needed to be a part of it in some way.

c7: Ah ok, that explains why you had so few verses on the LP compared to Audessey and U-George, which is something I was curious about. How did you officially hook up with these guys and become a full-time member?

Ox: Right, the group was already in motion by the time I added on late last year (2011). I had actually been friends with both Ollie Teeba and Jonny Cuba for a few years now. Actually the beat for the song "Formula 99" Jonny had submitted to my former group Sputnik Brown a couple of years back to rock on. We never got the chance to use it, an he was saying he could use it for this upcoming project he was working on. I did fall in love with that beat the first time I heard it, and I was a little heart broken when he snatched it back, haha. I finally met Jonny in person during my trip to London in 2010 out at Plan B in Brixton. I think it was then I basically BEGGED him to let me drop a verse on the beat once he knew what he was doing with it, and it all panned out in the end. Teeba I met initially through building on Myspace. I had linked up with him on a couple of occasions here in NYC while he was out for some DJ gigs. From there, he reached out to me and Sputnik Brown to open up a show for Herbaliser at Knitting Factory back in 2008, and we stayed in contact ever since. Tone (Audessey) and U-George I met just a year or so ago, however it seems I've known them forever. I've always been a fan of the music Aud dropped with Mass Influence & Geo with The Hemisphere. I love working with all these gentlemen.

c7: To me, all your verses on the album ("In a Flash", "Formula 99", "Ill Dialect") are true standouts; Is it safe to assume that you will be featured a lot more on forthcoming Soundsci projects?

Ox: Thanks. All the songs I have verses on that you mentioned had Audessey's verses on them already and were mostly produced, so really I just fed off the energy that was built into the tracks before I got there. We have been in the lab laboring hard on the follow-up joints, and yes it's safe to say I'll be featured on plenty more of what the world is about to be blessed with from Soundsci. 

c7: When can fans expect to hear some of this follow-up material you've been working on?

Ox: Sometime around early this fall, we have the next EP on the way from the group. Geo is presently working on his solo LP, and we've teamed up for some heat on that. Tone and I have also linked up for a couple of outside projects as well, so be on the lookout for those. Everything will be released on vinyl for all you diehards out there. We're working man.

c7: That's fantastic news, and also much props for being part of keeping vinyl alive. While we're still on the topic of "Formula 99", I have to ask you what's your personal favorite record on the LP, and why?

Ox: Wow, that's a tough one. I LOVE that remix of "Remedy". The way Tone's verses, cadence, and voice is weaving through that beat feels so incredibly right! Then the scratches to cap it off... Just beautifully done. "Da Livin'" is real fly too. Geo got busy on that one. Of course you said ONE, but that entire album is just cleverly balanced out and each track has it's own uniqueness about it. 

c7: No doubt man. As you mentioned that "Remedy" remix though, I really wish that would've made the vinyl set. "Give Thanks" is one of my own favorites, but the former was just such a dope closer too, although it of course had been released in original form on "Dig For Victory".

Ox: I THINK that remix was just an exclusive bonus for the digital sales. Not too sure. I didn't have anything to do with the track selection process.  

c7: You was also a member of the crew Sputnik Brown and works with DJ Spinna as SPOX PhD. All these groups have released some absolutely terrific material, but is it possible for you to say which one of these crews you enjoy working with the most?

Ox: Honestly, no. Each one hold a special place in my heart. Sputnik Brown I was with from the birth of it until we decided to let it go. I appreciate everything about that group from the creative process to the shows to every high point and every low point. Those are my brothers for life. We did a lot of hanging out together outside of being creative, so it made it that much easier when it came time to work. With SPOX PhD, Spinna and I very rarely create together in the same space. His schedule is bananas, so I hardly get to see him. But I'm a fan of this music first, so just being able to create ANYTHING with him is a personal blessing. With Soundsci, I'm still growing with. I've only been officially down for just a few months and the fact that we all basically live in different regions of the earth doesn't slow down our process one bit. We just have this natural understanding of our direction without even having to discuss anything. What's bugged is I haven't even met Tone and Geo in person yet. Crazy right?

c7: Haha, yeah that is weird, yet, as you say, the chemistry is there to be heard on the records.

Sean Price - "Haraam"

Damn, we need that "Mic Tyson" album right about NOW! At least he's keeping busy dropping hot shit like this single "Haraam" right here; not to mention those priceless Sean P's rapping school skit videos. This joint is lifted from the DJ Muggs / Supernatural hosted official "Rock The Bells 2012 Mixtape" which I have yet to fully peep but based on exclusive shit from KRS-One, RZA, Sick Jacken, Deltron 3030, Hieroglyphics and many others, it's a no brainer.



I've been super hyped about this project since Planet Asia first announced it, proclaiming their forthcoming album to not only be produced by the Alchemist, but calling it some of his absolute finest work, while confidently promising us the best album of 2012. He also compared the overall vibe of it to Group Home's DJ Premier produced classic "Livin' Proof" and we all know that was real dark and knocking street rap. And now that the singles have been starting to drop one after the other, my anticipation is as high as when I first heard those words. Oh, and for those that don't know, Durag Dynasty is Planet Asia, Killer Ben & Tri-State.

Today Durag Dynasty hit us with the latest, "The World's Most Dangerous", a single that sounds just as dangerous as what Planet Asia proclaimed in that HipHopDX article. We have previously been treated to three other supreme tracks from this quartet; "Spudnik Webb" was released as an internet single right before ALC released his "Russian Roulette" where they appeared on the aptly titled "Junkyard Fight Scene". And somehow, I managed to miss out that they released another single in the end of May, "Glass Of Astonishment" so you can grab that now thanks to DotGotIt. With all these new tracks, you better TURN IT UP.... A LITTLE LOUDER!!!!!!!!

DJ Prince Paul - "Sponge Bob" [2004 Demo]

You can't help but to just love the twisted genius mind of a certain Paul Huston. For some time now, the producer has used his Soundcloud page to bless listeners with various rarities, unreleased demo tracks and such. It's been a wile since we were treate that cool Bob James remix, which featured yet another sample twist on the oh so familiar bassline of the classic "Nautilus". Today, the silence was broken as Prince Paul uploaded the, what i take to be, unreleased intro to the "Sponge Bob" soundtrack of all things. Said O.S.T. did however include Paul and Wordsworth's "Prince Pau's Bubble Party" (click to download), stretching the limits of hip-hop and totally blowing up the box rather than thing outside of it.

These two tracks and a 7" released in 2002, featuring the Paul cut "Back to the Lab" as a soundtrack for the children show "Dexter's Labrotary" would later help form the genesis for Dino 5, a group consisting of Paul, Words, Ladybug Mecca, Charlie 2na and Scratch's and their extremely unconventional, and groundbreaking Baby Loves Hip-Hop.  "I recorded this and Prince Paul's Bubble party for the Spongebob movie and this one got rejected .. I actually liked this the best" - Prince Paul

Monday, July 30, 2012

Substantial - "Check My Resume"

Talented Maryland to Brooklyn emcee Substantial will make sure that we'll get another edition of what we've been missing, when he drops his first album (third overall) on Mello Music Group this year, "Home is Where The Art Is"; executively produced by Oddisee. The latter also produced the first single, "Check My Resume", and Substantial's autobiographical rhymes and Odd's hard drums and overall production makes for a perfect marriage.

His past albums have had been interesting for sure so I'm hyped about this, and as I've been listening a lot to "People Hear What They See", Oddisee's first real solo album, this joint feels like an extension of that. September 4 is the date, so get your pre-order on; and for doz that slept, grab the Oddisee while we're waiting.

Antone Mecca Ft. Side Effectz - "Higher"

Check out this dope English-spoken Swedish shit for all the heads to enjoy. "Higher" is lifted from Antone Mecca's (of Goon 4) full-length "Planet Mecca", and features Lost Tapes favorites Side Effectz with the big homie Linkan killing it on guest vocals and Akopalips goes in on this soothing and, for this group, somewhat unusual production.

[ESP Video] MIDAZ The Beast - "Loops" Promo

MidaZ The Beast has been making noise on the underground circuit for several years now, and on August 2, he's dropping another free project; entitled "Loops". In the ESP documentary above, you'll see MidaZ and DJ Sharp talking about the concept of the tape, how it came together and we even gets to see some studio session footage. There's also a couple of previews on the actual music from the project, and in my opinion the snippets and commentary here should be enough to get anybody interested.

I've had a review copy of the album for maybe two weeks now, and I can assure you that this tape is straight off the fucking meatrack; front-to-back satisfaction, In fact, it might be my favorite MidaZ project yet. And no, don't ask me to to share it, because that won't happen, but of course you'll get both the review and the link to the project right here on The Lost Tapes on August 2... so stay tuned trusted readers!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

[EXCLUSIVE] INI - "Center Of Attention" (The Real Deal)

Any self-respecting hip-hop fan are well aware of INI's ill-fated Pete Rock produced masterpiece that was supposed to be released in 1996 on Soul Brother Recordings. I even covered this album in my Shelved Classics section, where you can read more extensively about the project and the group. As I also mentioned there, when speaking to Robbie over @ Unkut, Pete Rock spoke on how there's never been a proper release or bootleg of the album ever released. The unauthorized BBE release from the 2000's featured slightly different mixes of many songs and totally missed out on Pete's trademark insstrumental interludes. Probably the closest thing to the real deal was released on a white label in '96/'97, likely by Pete or someone involved in the original sessions, as the original instrumentals was released by the same white label vinylists at the same time. This featured more of the interludes, the otherwise unreleased "Keep On", a totally different sequence from the BBE release, but instead three other songs were M.I.A. So it seems Pete's quote from that Unkut interview above seem pretty right on spot, don't you think?

Well, maybe not, and this is where it gets really interesting. My man ANT and I've been discussing the album for a long time, and he have the aforementioned white label release but assured me there were yet ANOTHER version, and that he actually was in posesssion of a rip of this. Thanks to this great digger, I finally got my digital hands on this a few days ago, and been pretty much banging it non stop. Ant originally got this rip from a blogger who run a site called My iPod Weighs A Ton, which is now long gone (although much of the original posts are still intact), but this is to my knowledge the first time the entire album is available in full anywhere on the net. It is a vinyl rip but I'm pretty sure this is not something that has ever been released in stores or in usual bootleg spots. Mine and Ant's take on it, is that the aforementioned blog guy or whoever gave it to him, was someone very close to the group; and that this is the original vinyl test press that was given to  group members, the producer, engineer Jamie Staub, label owner, and probably a very few selected others.

This theory gets more credible when you read the original blog post, which features much information that at least I have not heard elsewhere; and I've researched this album quite heavily to say the least; The album was originally not even titled "Center Of Attention", but "Who's Gonna Rock The Spot?"; and Heavy D was the one that convinced Pete to sign INI to the latter's Soul Brother Recordings imprint. Despite the "Fakin' Jax" single being something of a success, and featuring the classic "Props" which Funkmaster Flex played daily for months, label head Sylvia Rhone were unhappy with the finished projects and the heavy price tag of the Greene Street Recording Studies. The quartet eventually broke up as Rob-O and Grap Luva, who were the main voices of INI, wanted to use the name for themeselves. At the same time, Sylvia Rhone, clearly not one that should've been involved in hip-hop promotion at all, shelved the album along with projects from Deda/Pete Rock, Juggaknots, Omniscience, Supernatural and many others. 

The album is ripped in 160 kbps, but it's souning good enough for certain, especially consiering the chance to finally hear the full original album as it was intended to be heard! It's also not split up into separate tracks, just two tracks (Side A and Side B), but this is an album you listen to front-to-back either way so who gives a fuck. More people should rip stuff like that to force these ADD kids with the finger always close to the skip button to actually LISTEN and appreciate the arts of albums like we did, and sill do. But I'm getting carried away from the topic; the sequencing is the same as the white label, and has the same slightly different mixes of many songs as opposed to the BBE release; but it also has "Mind Over Matter", "Props", "Kross Roads" and "Keep On". In addition to that, it has all the instrumental interludes; and the chopped up spoken word interlude that's chopped up to form the intro/interlude/outro. Last but not least, it's filled with short skits featuring Mekolicious and Pete Red freestyling popping up every now and then. Massive thanks to INI, Pete Rock, Jamie Staub, Ant, the original uploadeder (Reinvention) for creating one of the best hip-hop albums of 1996, and finally giving us a chance to hear it, respectively. Total running time is about 65 minutes; the only song missing from the BBE release is "No More Words". Enjoy!

EDIT: Some people had some problem with the link, so I fixed it and uploaded it to MediaFire. should work like a charm now.
Side A:
A1. "Intro"
A2. "The Life I Live" / "Interlude"
A3. "Square One" / "Freestyle Interlude"
A4. "Fakin Jax" / "Interlude"
A5. "Step Up"
A6. "Interlude" / "Kross Roads"
A7. "Vocal Skit"
A8. "Center Of Attention" / "Interlude"
A9. "Mind Over Matter" / "Freestyle Interlude"

Side B:
B1. "Freestyle Interlude" / "Grown Man Sport" 
B2. "Think Twice" 
B3. "To Each His Own" (Ft. The Abstract & Q-Tip)
B4. "Interlude" / "Props"
B5. "Keep On" / "Freestyle Interlude"
B6. "What You Say"
B7. "Vocal Outro"


Saturday, July 28, 2012

La Coka Nostra / Sean Price - "Electronic Funeral"

DJ Eclipse hooked up 2DopeBoyz with an exclsuive premiere of this slamming cut from La Coka Nostra's upcoming "Masters Of The Dark Arts". Joint features Sean P, is produced by Beat Butcha, and between this and the DJ Premier produced "Mind Your Business" that recently dropped mark my words; this album will be SERIOUS. CD is out now so get your pre-order on, wax heads will get their treat late August. Stream the joint via 2DBZ below; shouts to the them boys!


[Single] HAS-LO - "MMG Series #7"

Has-Lo's dropped some of the more impressive music of the last couple of years with his LP's "In Case I Don't Make It" and "Conversation B". A few days ago, he and his label Mello Music Group decided to give away the digital version of his very first 45 RPM 7" single which you can pre-order here. The A-side features my clear favorite of single, the Apollo Brown produced "Stained Glass" but !llmind's "Make A Beat" is definitely real good too. In case you haven't, make sure to stream it for free or enter your e-mail for a free download in the bitrate and format of your choice (definitely worth it).

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raekwon x DJ Babu - "Keep it Politics"

Around an with the releasess of "Cuban Linx 2", "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" and this year's free "Unexpected Victory", Raekwon The Chef  seemed to pop up just about everywhere; it hardly went a week without at least one Rae cameo. Now, I think it's been chilling on the insane amount of recording it seems, which makes this collaboration with the always superb Beat Junkie/Dilated People, DJ Babu, even more interesting. That they both give very impressive performances doesn't exactly hurt either.

"Keep It Politics" is the third single to be released so far from the upcoming compilation "Closed Sessions Vol. 2", you cna check out the two previous singles and the album trailer/info @ the official site.

[Video] Casual x J Rawls - "Reign"

Casual and J Rawl's might sound like a somewhat unexpected collaboration, but as Casual is one hell of a lyricist and his last few albums have failed on the production side I think this will turn out lovely. The visuals to the opening song "Reign" undoubtedly souns promising, and features a brief guest apperance from fellow Hieroglyphic Pep Love.

Casual & J Rawl's "Respect Game or Expect Flames" will be released on CD and 2xLP via Nature Sounds on August 28 and October 2, respectively. Tracklisting is looking serious too (I need to hear that Souls Of Mischief / MHZ posse cut ASAP); check it out and place your pre-order @ UGHH.

01. "Reign"
02. "Respect Game or Expect Flames" (Ft. Del The Funky Homosapien)
03. "La Danse Du Fessie"
04. "Caziest Story"
05. "The Authority" (Ft. The Mystery School)
06. "Surely, I'm Right"
07. "Fly" (Ft. Allah Reign)
08. "Nota Problem Part II"
09. "Hier O-Dot" (Ft. Copywrite, Phesto Dee, Tage, Tajai, Opio, Jakki Da Mottamouth)
10. "Ain't Tryna Hear"
11. "Find A New Remix" (Ft. Rene Dion)
12. "Emergency" (Ft. Kurious)
13. "Give Respect"
14. "Upper Echelon"
15. "We Servin' Y'all"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

[Revisited] FRANK-N--DANK - "48 HRS" [Alt. Version]

James Yancey, also known as Jay Dee or J Dilla was one of the best musicians of our time and when he tragically passed away in 2006, the loss was felt by the entire hip-hop community. He was able to touch so many people through his music and was nothing short of a musical genius. Despite the sadness of never again hearing a newly recorded Dilla cut, Yancey's legacy lives on through his huge catalouge of immortal projects like Slum Village's "Fantastic Vol. II", Common's "Like Water For Chocolate" or Q-Tip's "Amplified", his top-of-the-line productions for both hip-hop and soul legends like A Tribe Called Quest, D'Angelo, Busta Rhymes and Erykah Badu or even his own raw underrated rhyming skills heard on such classics as "Fuck The Police", the early Slum Village material, "Champion Sound", etc. Apart from all the released material he left behind him; the countless knocking beat tapes mainly used for practice and inspiration that he used to pass around to his close friends for whom these tapes became known as "Treats". And even now, six years after his untimely passing "new" Dilla tracks pops up every now and then, like Yasiin Bey's brilliant "Sunshine Screwface" and the full album "Rebirth Of Detroit". Hopefuly generations to come will continue discovering the vast catalouge of Yancey, never letting his name fade into obscurity.

Around 2004, Yancey left his home of Motown for the sunny LA and Stones Throw records; but only after one of his most productive periods had tooken place; releasing "Welcome 2 Detroit", the 12" anthem "Fuck the Police", recording the "Ruff Draft" EP and produced countless other artists. All this dopeness coupled with his history caught the interest of an A&R at MCA Records. The label wanted to sign the producer/emcee for at the very least one retail album. This was fine with Yancey but he refused to sign the contract unless they also signed his P.N.C.'s and Detroit homies as well - Dankery Harv and Frank Nitti; the,duo known as Frank-N-Dank. MCA was reluctant to sign a totally new and unheard rap duo from Detroit, even though Jay Dee were to produce the entire album. Eventually they gave in and in 2002 both Frank-N-Dank and J Dilla were signed to MCA Records for one album each; "48 HRS" and "Pay Jay", respectively.

After signing the contract with MCA, it didn't take long before it become clear that the label wasn't too happy with either of the two projects in work. Dilla's '"Pay Jay'" was something of a prank-on-the-industry as it featured one of the greatest producers of all time only showcasing his rhyming talents over other respected producer's beats like Madlib, Pete Rock, Wajeed, ?uestlove Kareem Riggins, Bink, Kanye West and more. As for the trio's "48 HRS", the label originally rejected the original material Frank-N-Dank and their producer handed in. Part of Dilla's production idea for the original F-N-D material was to create brand new beats using well familiar samples that had previously been made famous on classic hip-hop songs. The idea was to put his skill as a producer to the test to show that he still could flip something like that in an interesting and new way. Some samples used included "Juicy Frut" by Mtume (better known to hip-hop heads as the main sample for Biggie's "Juicy"), Labi Siffre's "I Got the Blues" (used for both Jay-Z's "Streets is Watching" and Em's "My Name Is") and Curtis Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love"
It can be speculated that MCA decided to shelve this original sample based version due to not wanting to pay for clearing that many famous samples for a atill totally unestablished act. MCA didn't however shelv the project entirely but made the trio take it back to the drawing board to begin work on a completely different, sample-free version of '48 HRS''. This version sounded much more like a early 2002 club album with a Dilla twist; heavy on the live instruments and especially the synthesizers was a prominent sound, thug lyrics and clear influences from the production that The Neptunes and Timbaland were doing at the time. After completing the second version of the album as well, MCA ultimately shelved both versions of the project as well as "Pay Jay" resulting in both acts being dropped from the label.

Frank-N-Dank did however  put out a semi-official bootleg of the second version of the album themeselves; the one that Dilla himself has been quoted as saying was the version of the LP he didn't like very much at all. Also at the time the trio worked on both drafts of the LP the duo released a rather large amount of 12" singles and white label releasess which I have collecdet and put together with the five best songs on the semi-legit 2003 bootleg release. My point is to create an album like compilation showcasing what "48 HRS" could and should hae been. While it's not the original album they recorded in full, I think it manages to give us a pretty good look into how incredible that unreleased LP actually were. The instrumental to the original sample version of "Ma Dukes" can be found as the last track on "Jay Stay Paid" but i have never been able to find that version with vocals, but i love the other version as well so it's included here - same with "Keep it Coming" which has ?uestlove on the drums and is simply amazing. Either way this ended up being an infinitely better album than the one that was released in 2003 and any Dilla fan should fucking love this. Also I'm pretty sure, you won't find the original "All Seasons" anywhere else. I know i've banged the hell out of this for two year or so, and i think there might be several songs on here that you are not too familiar with if you're not a true Dilla fanatic. TURN IT UP!!!!
"We tried to give the masses what they were looking for, but it wasn't what the label was looking for. And we kinda took a whole year-and-a-half in the hole, basically. We worked on the album so hard. If I'd known that they wanted this simple shit, well I wouldn't call it simple, but the shit that we do so easy, you know, we woulda did that. But we tried to put work into this album and tried to give them some shit that's competitive with this Roc-A-Fella camp and with this big money shit. We wanted to take it bigger." - J Dilla on the original album

01. "48 HRS Intro" [48 HRS Bootleg, 2003]
02. "Push!" [EP, 2002]
03. "Me & My Man" (Ft. Phat Kat) [12" VLS, 2000]
04. "Where The Parties At" (OG Mix) [EP, 2002]
05. "Everybody Get Up" [12" VLS,, 2000]
06. "Give It Up Part 2" (Ft. Jay Dee) [12" VLS, 2000]
07. "Ma Dukes" (Ft. Tammy Lucas) [48 HRS, Bootleg, 2003]
08. "I Bet You Will" [EP, 2002]
09. "Love (A Thing Of The Past)" [12" VLS, 2000]
10. "Keep It Coming" (Ft. ?uestlove) [48 HRS Bootleg, 2003]
11. "All Seasons" (OG Mix) [EXCLUSIVE]
12. "Move" (Ft. Jay Dee) [12" VLS, 2001]
13. "Take Dem Clothes Off" [12" VLS, 2003]
14. "Off Ya Chest" [12" VLS, 2003]
15. "Okay" [12" VLS, 2002)

DJ Nu-Mark - Broken Sunlight Series Vol. 3

Throughout the year, the skilled producer and turntablist DJ Nu-Mark has been gearing up to a full-length album by occassionally dropping madly interesting limited 10" singles in what he has choose to call his "Broken Sunlight Series". Previous installments has featured J-Live, Large Professor, Bumpy Knuckles and Tiron. Volume 3 features DJ Nu-Mark's chopped up take on the immortal Earnie Hines classic "Our Generation" with the A-Skillz featuring original "The Fever" on the flip. As with the previous releases, you can download all the tracks via Nu Mark's official home by simply entering your e-mail adress below. If you don't want to subsccribe, you can stream the A-side via Soundcloud.

Good news is that for those who have missed out on buying these limited collectors items, you can pick up all three 10" for a limited price. Enjoy this banging take on one of the illest soul songs of all time!'

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

KRS-ONE x DJ PREMIER - "It's Gettin' Hectic"

KRS-One's '93 solo debut "Return Of The Boom Bap" is definitely one of my favorite albums of all time; not in little thank to the marriage of DJ Premier's bass heavy boom bap and Kris immaculate vocals. Apparantly, there were more records recorded by the duo for the project, this one called "It's Gettin' Hectic" was just unearthed for the first time on DJ JS-1's three hour "Demolition Mix" of rare demos and freestyles. Since that's packed into one large file, this dope time capsule definitely warrants a separate post.

[MIXTAPE] DJ JS-1 - "DEMOlition Mix"

It's hardly a secret that Rocksteady's DJ JS-1 is both incredible on the wheelz of steel, and got crazy connections with the cream of the crop. His latest freebie is this straight up incredible Old Skool Demo Tape called "Demolition Mix"; as the cover says, 100 demos... 3 Hours!! And there's no sucker artists featured here either, you got more or less rare cuts from the likes of Show & A, Tribe, Gang Starr, KRS-One, Big L, Kane, Ras Kass, Tragedy, Mobb Deep, Cypress Hill, LL, G Rap, OC, Bran Nu, Kurious, Main Source and many many more. You must be crazy to sleep on this so get your download and tracklist peep on via JS's site below, and much props to Oxygen for bringing this to my attention.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Maffew Ragazino / Lil' Fame / Teflon - "Brownsville Bullies"

Maffew Ragazino mangaded to build hype with "Rhyme Pays", a good project that was wisely more a full-length debut album than the traditional mixtape. Now the rhymer is preparing his first retail album, titled "Never Run, Never Will", a classic Brownsville slogan. So what better way to kick things off with a first single featuring not only M.O.P.'s Lil' Fame, but also the super underrated First Family member Teflon,who we see way too little these days. Produced by DJ Skizz.

The LP will feature a lot of other intersting guests, including Masta Ace, Billy Danze, DV Alias Khryst and Sonnie Carson. No date as of yet, but shouldn't be long now, and we still got "Rhyme Pays" to bang. Fizzy Womack fanatics like myself can also check out the video to his guest feature on 1982's latest album here: "Live It Up".

[STREAM] REKS - "Rebelotionary"

It wasn't too long Boston's REKS and Numsonic announced their collaborative album "Rebelutionary" for a release tomorrow. This is actually Reks' second album this year, following his pretty cool joint with Statik, "Straight No Chaser". Already now, we can preview the Gracie Records release in full below. Haven't listened yet, but I have yet to hear a project from this guy that has dissapointed, so this is a given.

The Smirnoff Remix VLS

Hip-Hop and large corporations didn't exactly go hand in hand. Things change however, and when multi-million dollar company Smirnoff launched their new Signature Mix series brand of vodka, the promotional run included exclusive tracks from some of hip-hop's premiere emcees and producers. The idea was to have some of the hottest beatmakers of the day create '08 versions of some of hip-hop's finest's most classic joints. The resulting three songs were made available for free via the now defunct Smirnoff Signature Mix Series website for a limited time, but luckily it didn't took to long before a 12" version was released; featuring the clean edits and instrumentals of the three joints. The idea and execution was a success, promting the brand to repeat the idea the following year; remixing classics by Buckshot, Nas and Nice & Smooth, but thaat's a post for another day. One last thing, the VLS included all the instrumenstals, but here I only featured thevocal mixes. Enjoy!

01. KRS-One / DJ Premier - "Criminal Minded '08"
For us true school heads, the true blessing of this 12" was the DJ Premier and KRS-One collabo for "Criminal Minded '08"; a dark production with a bass keys loop at the center stage; a time machine with sinister beats, ill scartches which inspire KRS to deliver a performance attacking sucker emcees and reminiscing of where he was in life when cooking up the original "Criminal Minded". Personally, I absolutely love this joint and as has been said so many times before, we need that "Return Of The Boom Bip" ASAP!

02. Common / Just Blaze - "The Light '08"
Just Blaze remixes Common's classic J Dilla produced hit single "The Light"; taking a more laid-back approach with piano and strings take the center stage while Marsha Ambrosious takes on the role of Erykah Badu on the original Jay Dee remix. Both Just and 'Com does a pretty good job here, but considering how fantastic the original version was, this is hard to fully appreciate. The scratches near the end is a nice touch though. Considering how superb just Blaze often is, it's a little suprising that this is without a doubt the least intersting song on the 12" single.

03. Q-Tip / Cool & Dre - "Midnight '08"
"Midnight" was and remains one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite rap albums of all time, "Midnight Mauraders". And as perfect as that record was, the question is whether or not it was a good idea to do a 2008 version of this; produce by Cool & Dre on top of it all. However, Q-Tip gives a great performance on this record, revisiting the origina song topic with new lyrics to great effect. The production is not bad, but Cool & Dre's seems to be aiming to recreate the vibe of the original, but with heavily relying on a electro sounding synthesizer rather than the trusted Fender Rhodes piano that was so prominent on the early Tribe albums. It's an interesting song though, and as it was recored around the same time as The Abstract's "The Renaissance" he is, to me, bringing his A-game here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

[Shelved Classics] One Man - "Crime & Punishment in America"

A discussion about 4th Disciple's brilliant production work on Killarmy's "Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars" over @ The T.R.O.Y. Forum sparked my interest in revisiting the Shelved Classics section of this blog. I don't really think 4th Disciple need no longer introduction here, but a few interesting poiints can be made. He first met up with The RZA when the latter lived in 4th and about half of Killarmy's home of Steubenville, Ohio for a period of time - spreading knowledge about the NOI and their 12 jewels. 4th Disciple, who was a superb producer in his own right, was soon invited to be a part of the Wu-Elementz and in 1994 became the first producer to work on a Wu-Tang Clan solo album besides RZA when he got a co-producer credit for Method Man's "Sub Crazy". It was first in 1997 that his name really started to ring bells amongst hip-hop heads, as he got the chance to provide no less than five stand out cuts on the multi-platinum selling "Wu-Tang Forever". This was soon followed by the release of "Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars", the '97 debut of 4th's own group Killarmy, which was featured six emcees, made up of members hailing from both Sreubenville and NYC. Aside from two RZA beats, 4th Disciple produced the album in its entirety and arranged and molded it in to a dark, haunting sonic masterpiece. It was these two releases that once and for all solidified his name as a genius producer with a unique sound vision.

Besides his work with Wu-Tang Clan and its many affiliates, 4th produced albums worth of material for lesser known artists that unfortunately never saw the light of the day (another day I'll make a post on The Orphanage crew). One such project in particular was the immaculate "Crime & Punishment in America" starring the mysterious Ohio native One Man. Not much information is available on either the album or the artist, and while he's not the sharpest rhymer 4th recorded with, his mixture of political, afro-centric rhymes, and heartfelt, deeply personal lyrics more than makes up for any shortcomings on the technical side of things. Production wise, 4th Disciple's vintage mid-'90s sound is quickly recognized with all of its trademarks - breakneck drums, multi-layered tracks often incorporating string sections and music with symphonic qualities, avoiding the typical funk and soul grooves commonly associated with '90s boom bap - giving the music an epic feel in creating a sort of hip-hop symphony. Together these two go together like you wouldn't believe - peep the haunting center piece of the album, "Black Sheep", where 4th's saxophone driven beat and One Man's brutally honest lyrics about growing up hard together creates images and feelings as clear as any cinema will produce.

There's little info on when this in reality was recorded, or even if it originally was intended as an album, but the information sheet released with the CD states that at least parts of the music found here were recorded in 1994. This means it predates the Killarmy debut and "Forever" joints by three years, going back to a time where really the only released 4th production was N-Tyce & Meth's "Hush Hush Tip", which was co-produced by The RZA. The then unknown 4th's unconventional production style, and One Man's personal experience as a poor black man in America could not have been an easy sale to whatever mountain climbing A&R they might have shopped the album too, but it makes it clear why RZA made sure 4th Disciple were included in the Wu-Tang fold. 

There's also a chance that the album was recorded but lost in 4th's vaults, until it was found around the year 2006, considering the release of a very limited edition digital release of the album in 2007, made available together with another nine track mini-LP of unreleased productions entitled "The Best Of 740: Unreleased Classics" . The latter is getting a proper re-release this year but the, in my opinion, superior "Crime & Punishment in Ameirca" is still not available in any official capacity. This is something no 4th Dsciple and/or Killarmy fan should allow themeselves to miss out on hearing, so make sure to grab the free download below. I also added a 13th bonus track featuring both artists, lifted from 4th's original '99 solo debut; "The Steel Valley Project Vol. 1" (remember fellas?), which will make for another interesting post another day. Enjoy this gem and TURN IT UP!!

01. "Nowehere to Run"
02. "Deadly Missionz"
03. "Next Level" (Ft. Juvenile)
04. "Interegations"
05. "Evolution"
06. "Game #7" (Ft. Killah Priest)
07. "Pain Growz"
08. "Black Sheep"
09. "Symphony Of Life"
10. "Heavy Berdenz"
11. "Attak the Slave Master"
12. "Lass Days" (Ft. Unknown)
13. "Just For You" [*]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

[VIDEO] Gangrene / Roc Marcy - "Drink Up"

The boys behind last year's terrific "Greneberg" EP joins back up for some nice visuals to the trio's collaboration from the equally slamming "Vodka & Ayahuasca" project on Decon. Produced by The Alchemist.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marley Marl & "Mama Said Knock You Out"

Marley Marl is your favorite producers favorite producer, and for a good reason, considering how he was more than an innovator in the production game, and a pioneer in recording techniques. Marlon Williams produced classic albums for everyone in the Juice Crew, from Big Daddy Kane, to Biz Markie and Kool G Rap.... The list goes on, but my personal favorite might very well be the superior work he did with LL Cool J in 1990, whne he prodduced his "comeback" album "Mama Said Knock You Out". From the way Marley hooked up the exact right type of samples and cooked up the perfect mix of agressive "punch you in the face" killer cuts to laid back chill out records, and that one classic around the way girl anthem; the total production was nothing short of genius, and to me it's not only Marlon's finest full-length, but LL's as well. It was a very clever move on LL's part to hook up with the hottest producer of the day to take charge of his next project afer his mostly ill-fated "Walking With A Panther"

A few years later, Marley and LL reunited for the "14 Shots to the Dome", an album that still often fails to get the rightful props it deserves. But that's another story for another day... The video below is a real, real treat for all the true school fanatics out there; Marley breaks down the thought process behind hooking up with LL, to him taking a trip down memory lane, speaking on and recreating several tracks from the album. And as if that wasn't enough, Marlon digs into the archives and brings out an exclusive alternative LL verse recorded to the title track; never before heard. Absolutely priceless, major shouts to Okayplayer where I spotted this gem!

Kool Keith x Roc Marciano - "Pressure Up"

Here's the first single from the "Luv NY" compilation that Red Apple 45's Ray West is putting together and producing. "Pressure Up" is a real smooth summer banger, centering on a addictive "accoustic sounding" electric piano loop and a nice rhythm track, and true New York legends Kool Keith and Roc Marciano doing their thing as expected. Based on this, I must say that Ray West stepped his game up and if the album features more joints of this quality then put me up for a purchase. Other guest artists include lots of AG, OC, Kurious, Dave Dar and more Kool Keith and Roc Marciano. Snippets, info and tracklist here. Shouts to 2DBz ont the linkage!


[Tracklist] Showbiz & AG - "PRELOADED: Remixes"

Now that Gang Starr is gone, there is no question who's the sharpest duo around; whenever Showbiz & AG drop I always support. "MugshotMusic: Preloaded" and "Still Diggin' Vol. 1" have been on steady rotation this year, so you can imagine my joy when Show took to Twitter to announce a limited vinyl release of exclusive "Preloaded" remixes and outtakes. To give more credibility to Show's statement we soon after got treated to a booming remix of "That Nigga Crazy", followed by "Do It 4"; a vocal take on one of the exclusives from "Still Diggin' Vol. 1".

I've searched long and hard for somewhere to pre-order; all the online record spots, and even iTunes, but not a single mention of this record anywhere. But then Kamal made me take notice that Amazon has posted a link for pre-order, stating the official release date is July 24. I would absolutely LOVE to have this on wax, and I hope they come to their senses and release it on was or at least on CD, but for now it seems we will be getting another digital release. You can pre-order the album via Amazon where you can also hear snippets of all the cuts.

01. "Intro"
02. "Show & A" [Remix]
03. "Mugshot"
04. "That Nigga Crazy" [Remix]
05. "Celebrate"
06. "Justice"
07. "Timeless"
08. "Do It 4"
09. "Just Go Along" [Remix]
10. "Trapped"
11. "Berri Love" [Remix]
12. "Suspended Animation" [Remix]
13. "Walk With Me" [Remix]
14. "If I Met Me"

Side Effectz - "Counter Clockwise"

Linkan goes IN on Side Effectz's latest promo single, "Counter Clockwise". The video is just as  low budget and rugged as Linkan and the homies in AOTS like it, as Akopalips basically just filmed the emcee spitting his verses; home made stylee baby. The song might, or might not, appear on the upcoming "Wunderbaum Music" EP, which is planned to feature around six brand new cuts. If everything goes as planned we might very well see a limited vinyl release of the project so keeps your fingers crossed, and stay tuned for more info. 

At the same time, próducer Akopalips is preparing a fully instrumental project to be released simultaneously, tentatively titled "Akopalips Now: Leaving Earth". The first single was released a while back, "Splash (Champion)", and it's sounding real promising! Last but not least, in case you've missed out on my extensive interview with Sweden's finest, peep the interview here.

[Mixtape] Wu-Tang Clan / D-Block - "Wu-Block"

Dennis Coles, the masked assassin broke through on the sccene in 1993. Now, 21 years later and some ten albums later, he stil remains one of the most interesting emcees hip-hop has to offer. He's an amazing story teller, got one of the most unique voices in the game, created his own slang lexicon and knows how to create a real live drama with only 16 bars, no problem; we must never forget that Ghostface music is 100% based in the streets in whatever he does, more than the majority of his Wu brothers GFK represent the streets.

Another group that's the epitome of New York street music are D-Block, originally knwn as The LOX, and out of its members, maybe the most hardcore motherfucker of them all is Sheek Louch. Therefore, the news that Ghost and Sheek were working on a full length album together seemed as natural as Bruce Lee's fighting style. Consdiering that both artists are currently signed to Def Jam, and the leaks have been coming on a regular basis I hink it's safe to safe that the "Wu-Block" album will actually see the light of the day, and probably sooner than we think!

To prove that point, D-Block and Wu-Tang has put together the official mixtape of the same title as the forthcoming album; "Wu-Block". The 11 track tape features all prevuous leaks from the LP; "The Heist" from the Rae/Ghost/Meth album; "Ready 4 War" is actually the original Styles P assisted version of 2006's "Tony Sigel"; "The Outsiderz" is an old D-Block joint. In other words, there's not many exclusives here but it's a great listen and works as a cool prequel to the official album that finally drops in late August. Thanks to HAQ and Hollow Dartz for link and information. Enjoy y'all!

01. "Wu-Block"
02. "Wu-Block Pt. 2"
03. "The Heist" (Ft. Trife Da God)
04. "Block 36th Chamber"
05. "Ready 4 War" (Ft. Beanie Sigel)
06. "The Oursiderz" (Ft. Papoose & Lil' Cease)
07. "Batman"
08. "Barry"
09. "Flash Back"
10. "Tradin' Places"
11. "Hands Up"


Thursday, July 19, 2012

[Album] BEATIE BOYS - "B-Sides & Bullshit"

The trio of Beastie Boys hails from New York City and is one of the most hailed old school acts of all time. And on top of that, they are still active, 25 years later. Despite the success, they were always different than their peers on the current hip-hop scene, yet quickly was accepted by their peers. There style and apperance always differed vastly from the rypical hip-hop ac;, their music was more rooted in punk and roc attitudesk than their fellow peers funk, soul and jazz.,To say the trio that wasn't always htecily rooted in the hip-hop music of its time, woul be to sell them way short.

Once The Beasties' decided to go the hip-hop route full throttle, after in the early '80s releasing a few ill-fated punk rock singles, the group consisted of Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz and Adam "MCA" Yauch. Despite them all being cacausians, a rarity amongst respected and serious hip-hop acts in those days sif we are being honest, they found respect and praise from both their musical peers, hip-hop fans and even music critics. Some of the artists they early found respect from was De La Soul, Tribe, Run-DMC, BDP and even Public Enemy. 

Of course the future of The Beasties' right now is very uncertain as Adam Yauch this year passed away due to terminal cancer. A true legend who blessed us with many hours of classic music and entertainment, I would like to dedicate this post and out-of-print mixtape to the one and only MCA! Rest in power brother!

If you´re not up on the Beastie's vast catalouge yet, it's never too late to dig into it. In my personal opinion, you should start with their 1992 materpiece "Check Your Head", possibly followed by "Paul's Boutique", "Hello Nasty" and the '86 debut is a given. In 2006, Grand Slam Records released the limited, but absolutely fantastic vinyl only "B-Sides & Bullshit; a compilation of rare remixes, classic B-sides and previously unreleased material.Again, if you're still new to the trio's out-there, unique brand off hip-hop; this serves as a great introuction to their sound, at the same time as it has enough material to satisfy the most dedicared fan. The music spans more than a decade, and althogh The Beasties' are great producers in their own rightt; the 15 songs repsented on "B-Sides & Bullshit" features rare and absolutely knocking remies from tue hip-hop lrgrm including Madlib, Large Professor, Kutmasta Kurt, the Beastie's themeselves, Prince Paul, Paul Nice, Sever & Hoffer aand more. A definite listen no matter how huge a Beastie fan you happen to be, so before we get into the music I would jusr ask tou to TURN IT UP!!

01.  "Intergalactic" [Sever & Hoffman Remix]
02. "Shake Your Rump" [Madlib Remix]
03. "Sure Shot" [Large Professor Remix]
04. "Dub the Mic"
05. "Hey Ladies" [Paul Nice Remix]
06. "Looking For The Barrell Of A Gun" [Egon & John Doe Remix]
07. "Body Movin'" [Kutmaster Kurt Remix]
08. "Honky Rink"
09. "So Watcha Want" [All The Way Live Freestyle Mix]
10. "Shadrach" [Peanut Butter Wolf Remix]
11. "Pass The Mic Pt. 2: Skills That Pay The Bills"
12. "Root Down" [Prince Paul Baloon Mix]
13. "Alive" [Evidence Remix]
14. "Stand Together" [Live At French's Tavern]
15. "Intergalagtic" [Original 94' Version]