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Monday, December 31, 2012

[Best of 2012 Review] APOLLO BROWN & GUIILTY SIMPSON - "Dice Game"

I wasn't sure if I wanted to include "Trophies" òr "Dice Game" in this review, and although OC is maybe my favorite emcee of all time I have to go with the latter; don't get me wrong though, "Trophies" is an amazing LP and you can read my original review here. But I feel that Apollo Brown really came through with his best work since The Left debut here, possibly ever, and Guilty Simpson's performance, who I consider to be one of the illest rhymers doing it right now, sets it apart from his previous projects and makes it his finest LP yet. While I love both "Ode to the Ghetto" and "OJ Simpson", but the lyrical themes and topics here are on another leve. As for the latter Madlib collavo, The Beat Kunducta smoked one too many blunts and fucked up what was very close  brilliant hardcore hip-hop record with 30 minutes of interludes with a very short life-span. A vinyl nightmare if I ever saw one; a picked aparrt CD rip excluding the vast majority of interludes and inserting the 7" only "Friends Only" and the street single "Before the Verdict".
Whereas Guilty on ocassion have gone deep, his subject has not too often strayed away from the macho themes of brutal repurcessions, hip-hop realness, guns, menacing violence whether metaphorical attacks on lesser rappers or those fucking with him or his crew. "Dice Game" shows an extremely mature Guilty, by far his best performance yet; there's still some of those classic elements described avove present which of course is a good thing - but it's whenever he allows himself to become introvertive, reflective and truly deep that the magic really happen. The first song I heard from the project was the single "Truth Be Told"; it blew me away then and still do each and every time. Over Brown's neck powerful drum programming, strings, haunting and ocassional vocal sample and the overall hardcore beautifulness of the whole thing, Guilty turns in an A+ performance that have him relieving his past while eflecting on his younger years, the violence and crimes he commited, the mindstate he was in and explains why he was this way. At the same time, he comes across as a truly changed mind, it's obviouis he's still no one you want to wrong do, but once he turned his life around and focused on his true passion, things changed for the better. It's autobiographical, and it's perfect; a great choice for a first single as it in a sense is the main theme iof the LP. One of the things that I have to give Apollo credit for is how he's constantly re-using very famous samples that been the basis for some of the most recognizable hip-hop classics over the years. This is actually one of the stronger points here, and one that shows that Brown is becoming better and better, woth each project. Hopefully this inniovative idea will shut up all those haters claiming this extraiordinary guy only got one sound. Fellow In fact, fellow Detroit lrgdnd Jay Dee and Frank-N-Dank was once supposed to record an album called "48 HRS" back in 2003 and one of the original ideas for the album was for Jay Dee to produce records using samples of classics like "Juicy" (BIG), and "Streets Know" (Jay-Z). I'm not sure if Apollo Brown was aware of these concept when crafting "Dice Game", but he's definitely using a similiar formula in parts here. What easily could have came off simply as a tired and lesser resentation of the original classics, Apollo instead makes these samples and the record he uses to create from them truly his own.
Already on the powerful opening track, Guilty Simpson gives banging. or should I say powerful, dedication to his hometown of Detroit, representing the good and the bad sides of the Motor City. This all takes place over a rugged beat that hip-hop connisceours definitely will recognize; All the basics of Nashiem Myrick's produced Jay-Z classic "Where I'm From"; the dark, eerie and progressive instrumental main theme, even the ocassional vocal sample, are all there, yet it sounds is completely rejuvenated, coming off as an extremely impressive "remix" which out of these type of the tracks that are the most similiar. The drums are typical Apollo though, and Guilty's homage to his hometown once again mirrors Jigga's 1997 Marcy salute. This is then followed by "Let's Play", which samples no less of a hip-hop masterpiece than Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M.".Luckily, it's not the main sample that is being used, instead Apollo opts for creating a piece around the intro which stretch into the vocal loops, and the ocassional background horn. Guilty sounds right at home here, dealing with groupies; "Let's play, watch me catch her/ she's starting at my crotch like a picture/ waiting for the signal so she can throw it at me, she's nasty..."
Another outstanding example is on the aforementioned "Truth Be Told"; Brown flips one of Masta Ace's more pouplar songs of the last decade, "Good Ol' Love". Unlike "Reputation", Brown's magic here totally transforms the sample, transforming it to a rather different goove than 9th Wonder originally created. Much of the vocal samples are intact, you got the strings and keys, but Apollo often juxtaposes it all over each other at once, while putting his traditional boom bap drums at the forefront. In fact, it took me a few listens before I even realized it was the same Earl Hines sample that Ace had used, despite having listened countless times to The Masta's interpretation. And that is very impressive!
Anothér thing that has to be said about the album is that Guilty and Brown sound damn near perfect together here. The chemistry is one of the year's finest and as is the case with so many MC/producer combinations that have truly suceeded over the years (KRS-One/DJ Premier, Show & A, RZA/ Ghostface, OC/Buckwild, etc.) they allow each other to together become one, bringing out the best of each other. With the possible exception of Show&AG's trio of releases, the power duo that's behind "Dice Game" is the best emcee/producer combination of the year. Apollo delivers true boom bap drums, Guilty's delivery is rough and agressive; yet the slightly disorted soulfulness and extensive use of strings adds an element of tenderness, while Guilty's self-reflecting lyrics together creates an extremely impressive oxymoron that gives the album an edge that sets the album apart while at the same time show both artists variety. Besides the dominating boom bap soul, things does switch up with tracks like "Dear Jane", and especially one of the LP:s finest joints; "Wrong Hand¨" which owes more to an interesting mix of jazzy horns, electronic ´synthesizers, and of course the knocking drums we come to expect from the Detroit production master. There's far from any weak tracks here, lyrically or production-wise; this one you play front-to-back with no skipping. While some of Apollo's earlier material gave the impression that he was still trying to found his sound which resulted in an often repetitive sound.. Hoever, it's clear with his last three LP:s that Brown has finally found the perfect outlet, and one can only hope that the future holds a lot further collaborations between these two gentlemen. There's only two songs on the project which includes guest features, and while "Potates" and "Nasty", which features impressive performances by Torae and Planet Aisa respectively; I can't make up my mind whether if these might have been better off as solo versions while the cameo-laced mixes would be released on a 7" single or something like that.
As the reviews the last few days have strictly focused on "The Best of 2012" releases, they are all obviously very positive, but don't believe for a second that I'm not able to criticize artist that i do adore. "Dice Game" is just that good, and if there's one thing I feel I need to complain about is the same thing I mentioned in my review of "Trophies"; some of these tracks are in desperate need for some heavy turntable work, which would add yet another dimension to both albums as several songs really call out for it. For example, the closing track here, where Guily wonders when, where and how he's gonna go out ("How Will I Go?)", which adds a brilliant BIG sample from his sligjtly similiar "Suicidal Thoughts". The sample is repeated as a sort of a hook, but kind of falls flat in this regard since it's just repeated a fewtime; where's DJ Soko when you need him, right? But let's not nitpick, Guilty Simpson and Apollo Brown has made one of the best albums of the year (in fact, Apollo's done two of the best records this year, iincluding the OC collabo). and one that will live on for a long time.. Support real hip-hop and pick it up in your choice of vinyl, CD, or Mp3 ASAP my little droogies, UGHHiTunes,and Amazon,are jjust a rew retailers caring the LP- Big up to Guilty, Apollo, and everyone involed,

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Kamakazee - "Head On" [prod. by Pete Rock '95]

Before there were Screwball, the late, great KL was recording freestyles and underground 12":s with Marley Marl. My homie and long-time DJ Jaz (check his Tumblr/Soundcloud) was digging through his crates and made a pretty extraordinary find when putting on his copy of the unofficial "Snakes" 12" from '95 which is the only release to include "Head On" and "Bridge '95".

The "Head On" joint sounds not much at all like a Marl production, but extremely much of a Pete Rock classic around that time (for comparision peep the Champ MC remix from the same year).You got the up-tempo head nodding groove, the vintage horns, the Pete drums, the shout hook over the cuts, and so on. It might be co-produced by Marley, but I'm putting my money on this is a Pete Rock production. Mega thanks for Jaz for providing this gem, and not only that he linked the YouTube clip above but he also provied a HQ download below. Enjoy!


[DJ Mix] K-DEF - "The Breaks: Sessions 1"

I haven't yet had time to write my two remaining best of 2012 releases reviews, but hopefully I'll do one tomorrow as well as bring you a little new year's present in the form of really ill compilation. But while we're waiting for that, you know I can't get enough of K-DEF's ish, whether its his vocal productions, instrumentals, old stuff or dj mixes, so this free DJ mix called "The Breaks: Sessions 1" is a real treat. Shouts to Redef.

[Video] NATURE - "Welcome to my World"

Many Queensbridge emcees that have been written off as has-beens has been coming back strong this year, the latest example being Nature with his new video "Welcome to my World". The DJ SupaDave (not the De La guy, the G Rap's "Sad" guy that is) and will appear on DJ Concept's upcoming "Deep Concepts Media". This is some true hip-hop shit right here, from Dave's beat to Nature's lyrics, flow and delivery. Banger!

Friday, December 28, 2012

[EP] Blue Sky Black Death & Deniro Farrar

Blue Sky Black Death is a pretty interesting production duo when they want to be, sometimes they are a little too far out for my taste but on releases like "Razah's Ladder" and "The Holocaust" projects they proved they can make pretty epic hip-hop beats. For this EP that was released last week they ´have teamed up with rapper Deniro Farrar (no clue) and released a seven tracks set titled "Cliff Of Death". It hardly stands among BSDB's finest works, but it's a worthwhile listen to stream ; if you like to download you can do that do for the price of $7 over here.

[Stream] TIMELESS TRUTH - "Rock-It-Science"

The Queens duo Timeless Truth recently released their impressive debut LP, "Rock-It-Scnce"; an album that will undoubtedly find a lot of appreciation from fans of that true school New York boom bap sound. It was released to iTunes on December 19, but there's unfortunately still no word on a CD or vinyl release yet. However, the group have allowed fans to preview the entire album in its entirety via their Soundclud page so make sure that you give this a proper listen. Features include Roc Marciano, Sean Price, and Action Bronson, but Timeless Truth hold their own very well with both the rhymes and the beats.

[Video] MILANO - "What Kind Of Shit You Want"

Milano Constantine is such a great artist, yet he's haven't really gotten the props he deserves; a fact that is hopefully about to change soon. From his early 12":s with D.I.T.C., his unbelivably ill collabos with P Brothers, to his "Sidewalk Stores" mini LP and now recently his part in the trio BarBury'n with D-Flow and Gauge who so far has released two brilliant singles with Showbiz in 2012. The video you see above is a P Brothers produced single from a way overdue solo release entitled "Boulevard Author" which I really hope will be out sooner rather than later.

[Video] JON CONNOR - "Blackout"

Jon Connor is a very talented rhymer who I always kept my eyes and ears open for when he first came out a couple of years ago. To tell you the truth, I haven't really checked for Connor in quite a good while but his new single/video "Blackout" really caught my attention. The song is actuallty produced by Jon himself, and appears on his free mixtape "While You Were Sleeping" which you can download for free below.

Statik Selektah & JFK Ft. Slaine & Jaysaun

Boston rappers Slaine and Jaysaun represents on this agressive NBA tribute single by Statik Selektah & JFK "Let's Go Celtics". I've been having divided meanings about Statik during the years, mainly due to the fact that I think he rushe´s out material far too quickly, but he's really been on a roll this year; "Stereotype" (Strong Arm Steady), "Ambition" (Bumpy Knuckles), the cuts he added on "´Fizzyology" (Lil' Fame & Term), and now I can add this to the list. If you have missed out on Statik & JFK's NBA-inspired mixtape "#AGE (All Green Everything)", make sure to check it out below.

Substantial - "Umoja" [prod. Odisee]

Substantial and Oddisee is a superb MC/producer combination, and now they are back at it with anew single entitled "Umoja". Odd's production is absolutely terrific,  real laid back stuff with powerful drums and impressive use of Rhodes, while Substantial gets clever on three verses dealing with three different relationships, from his wife and family to the community he's living in. The final message of the song is that we should work together and thereby creating a better world for us to live in. Relaxing and powerful stuff, that has me fiending for a full long-player by these two gentlemen.

[MIXTAPE] Reef The Lost Cauze - "Reef Iz Dead"

Reef The Lost Cauze's music is not exactly very similiar to what De La Soul was doing back in the early days. Yet, Reef's latest mixtape is an homage to De La's 1991 classic "De La Soul is Dead", cover, titlte and all. No guest apperances, but all tracks are produced, mixed and recorded by Caliph-NOW (with the exception of "Thought Control" which was done by Dumhi). I haven't listened yet, but could very well be dope; especially if the music takes a page from the Long Island trio's album as well.

[MIXTAPE] M3 Entertainment - "M3RRY CHRISTMAS"

As promised when the brilliant eMC singles, "4 Minutes", Masta Ace's M3 Entertainment drops the free mixtape compilation "M3RRY CHRISTMAS". Besides the new eMC cut, we are treated to brand new tracks by Torae, Punchline, Stricklin', Wordsworth, Masta Ace, The Bundies, DeLaZoo, and more. The mixtape is available over @ DatPiff with no need for registration. Enjoy this Christmas treat!

PF Cuttin & Labba - "World Famous" (Ft. Sean Price & Meyhem Lauren)

Last week, I posted the audio to this knocking cut of PF Cuttin' & Labba's collaboartive EP, "Blunts, Bongs, Bitches" which is available through iTunes now. I'm always hyped to see PF Cuttin's name in production credits and if this single is any indiciation of what to expect from the 9 song record, this will be pretty damn amazing. Labba, Sean Price and Meyhem Lauren makes for a pretty damn impressive posse cut too.

Jabee - "Stephanie" [prod. El-P]

Jabee is an upcoming artist who's been getting a lot of praise and notice from class acts like Chuck D, NBA star Kevin Durant, and now he's caught the attention of hip-hop's avant-garde producer #1, El-P. The latter has provided the music for Jabee's new single "Stephanie", complete with guest vocals by Carlitta Durand. Hopefully, this will be the start of a further relatiionship between El-Producto and Jabee. Whatever the case, this will be released as a limited 45 next month.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

K-DEF - "Bonus Beats Vol. 1"

Newark legend K-DEF has had a busy couple of years; releasing plenty of quality 45:s on Slice-Of-Spice and Redefinition Records, as well as droppinng his incredibly dope mini album "Nightshift". On the Slice-Of-Spice label, he has been keeping vinyl collector's extatic with his "Signature 7's" series, a gang of 45:s of previously ureleased masterpieces that K-Def produced for artists like World Renown and Rated R back in the '90s. Each 7" single also comes with a bonus flexi-disc featuring exclusive instrumentals, and for the first installment in the series ("K-Def Presents Rated R") the flexi featured the two bonus beats, "The Prelude" and "The Monologue". Thanks to Slice-Of-Spice you can now download both these bangers for free below, and if you got the $$ for it check out the label's internet shop which is filled with great, but pricey, items.


Serious Truth - "Wild" [prod. Buckwild]

I love how Buckwild throughout his career never turned his back on underground rhymers after he started getting placements on albums by people like Nas, Jay-Z and BIG. Case in point is this track "Wild" that he laced for a rapper who calls himself Serious Truth. As usual when Buck is involved you need to hear this, stream up top and download below.

Raekwon - "Neither One Of Us"

The Chef's "Lost Jewelry" EP is right around the corner; last week he premiered the first, and very promising, single "Never Can Say Goodbye". For the second single, "Neither One Of Us", Raekwon keeps to the same formula by reminiscing over his past over a smooth record, created around a sample of Gladys Knight and The Pips.

Diamond D & Big Rec - "Bullseye"

Diamond D is not only bringing us his "Diam Piece LP" in 2013, he's also announced his venture into the R&B world with "The Blake Moses Project" (with Blake Carrington), but he's also teaming up with emcee Big Rec of RHHIB for an album that he will produce called "Doomsday". I'm feeling the artwork which you see above, especially how they using the classic Diamond logo from way back when.

Diamond has posted a 1:30 long snippet of the first single "Bullseye", and if this is what we should expect from the album then you can count on it being one of the best of 2013 reviews here on The Lost Tapes. We'll have to wait and see, but I do know that the Bronx bomber is still top 5 dead or alive when it comes to crafting unbelivable shit like this. I can't do much but shake my head in disbelief at the dopeness, the cuts adds a whole nother level and this cat Big Rec comes very correct. I need this in my life ASAP!

[Best of 2012] Showbiz & AG - "Mugshot Music: The Series"

As individual releases, Showbiz & AG might not have dropped one of the three best albums of the year, but when viewing "Mugshot Music" as a three-piece project things start to look a little different. And I think, that is the way it is supposed to be viddied; different chambers of the same project, and as such I'm gonna review it that way. If you got a problem with this, sue me! As my friends and avid readers of The Lost Tapes can testify to, Show & AG has long been one of my absolute favorite groups; Showbiz bass heavy beats, dark MPC chops and synthesizer melodies coupled with the smooth delivery and always intelligent and thought provoking vocals and voice by Andre The Giant. Yet they never got the true props they so rightfully deserved, their MC/DJ formula is only rivaled by Gang Starr and Pete Rock & CL; not saying that those are better, but they are on an equal level. 

Now that we have get that out the way, needless to say I was excited when I heard that Show & A was returning to the scene after a long hiatus - they dropped the brilliant "Live Hard" EP in 2008, but prior to that their previous release dropped in 1998. On top of that, Showbiz 2011 album with KRS-One was a major dissapoint, while AG's Ray West produced "Everything's Berri" wasn't anything to write home to. But the thing is that whenever the duo get together, they bring out the beast in each other, which is exactly what happened on the first rleease in the "Mugshot Music", the free album "Preloaded". 15 tracks of pure D.I.T.C. hardbodie hip-hop; Show's production aching back to the "Full Scale" project in its heaviness and agressive drum programming. and his traditional MPC madness. 

I've said it many times; AG is like a fine wine, meaning that he's getting better with each year, soemthing extremely rare in this genre of music. His style is thugged out, but he's not by any means a gangster rapper or one that glorifies crimes; instead he, in that clam, unmistakable voice that almost sound like he's conversing directly to you, The topics are varied; there's a few cuts that deal with hp-hop culture and his greatness as an MC, but when A really shines is when he comments on the horrible fates many meet in the black ghetto ("God is 4 Us", "Experince: The Show Remix") , black power messages as in rhw powerful opener "That Nigga Crazy, or when he goes into an original narration that's so far off most rappers imagination. A great example is "Walk With Me" where AG rhyme over a hauntingly beautiful Show producion with string an flute. A speaks on how we all are three people that will always influence all our deciisions; the person we are, the one we want to be and the one we once was. Its a clever concept that anyone can relate to.
Other stand outs are the neck breakingly hard "You in Trouble" and "South Bronx Shit", featuring some of Show's best prouction in years, complete with horns, hypnotic basslines and perfect scratch hooks coiurtesy of DJ Premier (who btw aced as the executive producer of the album, and mixed songs). "The Bond" is a very impressuve closing statement, a beat that's in two parts; one somber intermission without  drums, rhoes and Showbiz speaking his mind on how the music business has fucked up so many frienships. and musical partnerships. Between these intermissions, the beat kicks in and A drops two solid verses on the same theme; "Insane, fame is a rollercoaster / Slick and Doug left after "The Show" was over/ Friendship gone, business replaced it/ That's sucess, that's the truth, let's face it/ I want sucess, The Bond so important/ Can't pay with my friends, a price I'm not afforded/ Don't be sad it's over, be glad that it's once was/ Signing off, Show & A, nigga One Love...". At 15 (or 18 tracks on the iTunes version), I've played this so much front-to-back that I already know the majortity of the lyrics live. All songs are absolutely excellent and with all original beats, rymes, full songs and no DJ shouts, this is really an album, no question about it. My only complaint, which really is quite minor, is the "Experience Remix"; the original track was probably the best song of 2006, while this remix really 1doesn't do anything for me. Even A's vocals, who's brilliantly written, are minimized in their effect due to beat being such dull. But that'sone song out of 18, so it's still pretty damn close to a true masrerpiece based on AG's vocals, Show's production, OC's two strong guest verses ("Wolves" and "Berri Love"), and even the arwor´j

A couple of months later, Show & AG continued the boom bap parade with a sister release to "Preloaed", exclusive to iTues. Featuring 14 tracks, including six remixes, seven brand new tracks and a short intro, all clocking in at just under 40 minutes. Neeless to say, I purchased it on iTunes as soon as it dropped, and didn't regret it a bit. The remixes are powerful stuff, "That Nigga Crazy" breathes new life into the song with a mesmerizing keyboard loop, a powerful bssline and the boom bap drums we ave come to especf from the D.I.T.C. crew. Other remixes that might very well be better than their respective origials are "Just Go Along", which flips the original beat into something even more soulful, yet adding some mystic that was missing from the original, The way Show flips the vocal sample gives even more insight into A's verses. Another remix that blows the original out the water to me is the "Suspended Animation" remix, which slows down the BPM slightly and once again add more mystique with some taunting keys that gives more weight to AG's verse. The original single was short but deadly, and ended right after AG's verse and the beat just stopped; Since the "Remixes" omits listing any features, I was thrilled when the beat stops after A's verse, only to return seconds after with a "brand new" verse from Muthafuckin' Party Arty; "You niggas don't want it with 80, I break 'em all off/ Guns from the Bronx to Haiti,  I make 'em haul off/ Pump shotties, double barrellls, I get 'em sawed off/ I ain't waiting for you to set it, 'cuz I'm a stall off/ I ain't waiting for you to dead it, because you're all soft/ When it's on nigga, my dogs I can't call off...", the late P-80 rhymes with a passion, sounding alive and well, giving the impression that he actually recorded that verse to this beat. One of the best verses on the entire set, very powerful, and really makes you miss when Show & A constantly collaborated with The Ghetto Dwellas.

The finest part of the set, however, is the new songs; with only one exception (the boring "If I Met Me"), this is nothing short of classic Showbiz & AG. Three of the songs appeared as bonus tracks on the iTunes version of "Preloaded" but there's such dope cuts that it hardly matters. The title track "Mugshot" was most likely supposed to have appeared on the final album, it's a short but explosive joint with a progressive rhythm track underlying moe keys and a sgort horn sample. My least favorite cut of those exclusives were "Celebrate", but here luckily it appears in a different mix (which I suspect is the original version). Show's produciton is a lot tighter here, a guitar sample fades in and out, dark organ stabs can be hearc in´fhe background, while sinister synthesizer lines and soud effecfs. I guess it can be compared to the "Night Tyme Version" and "Day Time Versiion" of the classic "Next Level" single; this of course being the former. AG is in fine form here, taking a break from describing the struggle to focus on the joys in life.. LET'S CELEBRATE!

"Timeless" and "Trapped" with their darkness and breakbeat friendly production might just be the best ish on the entire set, but more about in the next section of this long review. As a sister album to "Preloaded" it's a great project, and it does stand well on its own as well, though it's not as good as its predecessor. Yet it's definitely worth the $10 dollars it will cost you on iTunes if you haven't already picked it up.

So after plenty of singles dating as far back as late 2010, one pre-album, a double-EP of remixes and new songs, and an instrumental album, "Mugshot Music" was finally released on D.I.T.C. Records on October 9 this year. Suprisingly, it's not even the best of the three releases to my ears ("Preloaded") is, though the best songs on "M.M." is some of the finest Show & A songs in more tha a decade. Three tracks from the "Remixes" project reappears here; the short, and slightly pointless introduction, and two of the aforementioned cuts that stand among the bst out of all three of these releases - "Timeless" and "Trapped". Besides those, the 13 remainning songs are all new shit.

As I had been so eagerly awaiting this project, when I first got it a few days before the actual release and played it through I was left slightly dissapointed; I felt there were too many sung hooks, and somewhat soft beats compated to what I'd heard on "Reloaded". But if there's one thing that really stands out about this release, is that it grows on you on every spin; and by now I've played it again and again, and really came to appreciate it a whole lot. AG drops plenty of interesting concepts, delivered in the most potent pattern whihch as usual sets him apart from his peers. For example, you got "Michele", a story about a girl and her struggles in life, going from selling drugs and her body, to making it out the hood, getting a good education and living a beautiful life - a true hustler as AG puts it. "I Luv Her When I'm High" is another joint that will take a few listens to before you get it, as its actually an ode to hip-hop and A's love for writing lyrics stoned at the same time as it's a story of the argument that many musicians probably can identify with; how an artists love for music comes before his wife or girl. 

Show's production is more varied on the two preceeding releases, and sometimes it works better than ever, and sometimes it could have been stronger. For example, "One Way" features repetitive drums, a synthesizer hook that sound far away from anything D.I.T.C. and a rather corny hook by Frank V. On the other hand, "The Soul" also features a soulful hook by Frank V. and is a beautiful track from all point of views; Show's production is haunting with a low-key but effective bassline, hypnotic keys and what sounds like a vocal sample hidden in the background as a loop. The track is universal and one that any spiritual person could relate to; AG's final verse is mindblowing and it's great that he gives a shout to the late Keith Elam in there - "Soul to soul, divine sounds/ GURU in my thoughts, at least we know Keith is at peace/ What happened to the hood in you? Ain't nothing wrong with moving up, but your soul shouln't move/ I loose concious, transcended by the drums and the harmony/ When I wake it's a part of me, our bound is unbreakable/ We co-exist the same way nature do, You can feel it!"
There's a lot of old DITC fam that pops up here, OC drops by on both the album opener "Everytime I Touch the Mic" and "Don't Worry", two tracks that are as excellent as they are different. The former is one of the album's finest songs, one that truly screams D.I.T.C., with lyricists going at it,knocking drums, cuts ans stringsl T being another laid back joint where Show clearly is trying something new but comes off to great success. Party Arty reappears with yet another vaulted verse on the potent gutter cut "All Time Greats". A Bless appears on one of the LP:s hottest songs, "Walkin' On Air", a true school jam where keys and guitars lay the foundation for A and Bless to both perform two outsanding performances. In fact, this might very well be the illes A-Bless verse I ever heard; his voice is  alot more ruffer than it used to be, even sounding slightly like P-80. "Ain't Shit Changed" closes the album on a positive note, Show's drum game is top notch here, which is a beautiful thing as the song isn't particular hardcore but works as a mix of the hard and the soft, the good and the bad, if you will. There's also an outro with a sampled voice discussing how hip-hop has been degraded from what it originally was, basically a joke of what it's supposed to be. This is set over a memorable Showbiz beat, making it the perfect and memorable closer to Show & A's fifth album.
So what's the verdict: "Preloaded" is a damn near perfect album to me, and if they choose to release only one of those albums on vinyl I would hope it's that one. "Preloaded: The Remixes" features several amazing songs and remixes but works best as a companion piece to the aforementioned LP, or possibly as a bonus disc if we ever get a physical release. Finally, "Mugshot Music" didn't sound what I had came to expect and inititally I was slightly dissapointed by it; but as is often the case with these types of album, it has been getting better and better with each listen. The album is not perfect, there's a few tracks I could have lived without, but at the same time there's really nothing that as weak or boring that I would skip anything. One thing is clear, Showbiz & AG is the artist of the year, releasing two and a half albums in less than a year, plus an instrumental album as well as producing and appearing on other people's records. I have one huge complaint though, although I always support Show & A, and I did buy  these albums on iTunes a crew called D.I.T.C. NOT releasing their music on vinyl, or even CD, is a travesty. So please, if anyone in contact with them, a limited edition or something would definitely sell. Until then, I'ma keep bumping "Preloaded" and "Mugshot Music" while giving props to Show & A for still releasing quality music.

[EP] Freeway - "Black Santa"

Philadelphia Freeway is back, beard and all, with a late Christmas present for all us hip-hop junkies. Called "Black Santa", this is the third release from Free in a very short time which luckily doesn't affect the quality of the music. The nine track mixtape is presented and mixed by DJ Benja Styles. and features production and cameos from Statik Selektah (check out his contribution which opens up the album, truly unbelivable shit), Gillie Da Kid, the Jake One produced Roc Family reuion cut, Tek, and more. Loads of well crafted, hilarious rhymes and a flow as great as ever, with soul dripping beats, vocal sample loops, and cracking drums. Make sure to peep this to get in the spirits of this Black Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

[Compilation] Hannibal Stax - "Prequel to Seize The Day"

The real Gang Starr heads are well aware of who are Hannibal Stax, and though he has yet to release a proper solo release yet he's been part of The Foundation since at least 1995. Together with underrated producer Mike Rone, he was part of Fabidden Fruit who was signed to GURU's Ill Kid Records back in the mid-'90s; releasing the banger "Hi Energy", produced by the Wu's True Master, on that GURU sampler which was followed by "Forbidden Fruit" on the first "D&D Project". People probably best know him for his memorable performance on the Gang Starr classics "It's A Set Up", and "Same Team, No Games", the Afu-Ra '98 B-side "Trilogy of Terror" and "All That" from his debut album. More recently H.Stax appeared on the DJ Premier produced Big Shug monster "Dirt" in 2005 and the Works Of Mart 2006 12" featuring "Proper Dosage" b/w the Mike Rone produced "It Iz What It Iz".

Now, finally he is preparing some well deserved solo material, as we got a testament of last week with the brilliant Marco Polo produced jawn "Sr8 Smashing". His mixtape, "The Honorable", mixed by the incredible PF Cuttin' and hosted by DJ Premier which of course guarantees quality will be made available in the coming days. The mixtape will serve as a prequel to Stax 2013 album "Seize the Day", which will be completely produced by Marco Polo. Polo has also announced that he's working on a second installment of his "Port Authority" series.

While we're waiting for the tape and following album, I put together a lil' Lost Tapes style compilation of H.Stax's previous works. As far as I know this is all the songs he ever officially released (not including his freestyle works); Thanks to the homie Fritz I was also able to include the 2005 B-side "Proper Dosage". Enjoy my little droogies!

01. F.A.B.I.D. - "Get It In" (Intro)
02. Afu-Ra / Fabidden Fruit - "Trilogy of Terror"
03. Fabbiden Fruit - "From Within Out"
04. Fabidden / True Master - "Hi Energy"
05. Fabidden Fruit - "Cup Of Life"
06. Gang Starr / H. Stax - "It'z A Set Up"
07. Afu-Ra / H.Stax / Mike Rone - "Trilogy of Terror"
08. F.A.B.I.D. - "Proper Dosage"
09. GURU / Big Shug / H.Stax - "Stay Out Of My Face"
10. Big Shug / H.Stax / Smiley The Ghetto Child - "Dirt"
11. Gang Starr / NYGz / H. Stax - "Same Team, No Games"
12. F.A.B.I.D. - "It'z What It Iz"
13. Hannibal Stax / Marco Polo - "Str8 Smashin'"


[EP] TORAE - "Black Christmas"

Just like Sha Stimuli, Torae is another very talented rhyme slinger who's been releasing plenty of great music this year; both free projects and retail albums. His "For The Record" LP was a superb exercise in true lyricism and some of the best producers in the game (Preemo, Pete Rock, Diamond D, 9th Wonder, Marco Polo...). This was followed by its sister EP "Off The Record" that featured especially Da Beatminerz' produced "New Day" and the complete version of 9th Wonder's "Only Way"; two records that were real curious why they didn't make the actual retail album.

Now, it's time again as Torae is back with "Black Christmas", a free EP mixed by E.Jones and mastered by Khrysis! while guest spots comes from lesser known names like Bluu Suede, Kelby Silverio, and Haz Solo. Another free release to bang your head do during the holidays. Hope you all had a great time these last couple of days, I'm sure I had!

[Best of 2012 Review] DJ Premier / Bumpy Knuckles - "KoleXXXion"

You can't discuss quality New York hip-hop without mentioning the name DJ Premier; the king of D&D Studios (now HeadCQuartrerz) has kept true school hip-hop alive and well since 1989 and has an instantly recognizably sound that just about everybody loves. Whether remixing R&B joints, producing Chrisina Aguilera or lacing LP:s for Group Home or Blaq Poet, Preem is always worth checking for. Some of the hardest, and by that I mean illest, joints in his entire catalouge however is the stuff that he's provided for James Campbell, p.k.a. Freddie Foxxx, now better known as Bumpy Knuckles.

Bumpy is somewhat of an unsung hereo of the rap game; from missing out on the opportunity to team up with Eric B. in 1986, to Flava Unit ultimately shelving both versions of his brillint '94 LP "Crazy Like A Foxxx", it wasn't until he returned more agressive than ever with 2000's "Industry Shakwdown", a full-out assault on the entire music industry, that he finally got the props he so rightfully deserved. An album, that's so powerful in both prouction and rhymes that it remains one of the absolute top releases of the last 15 years. Building up the hype for the album was Foxxx's murderous guest verse on Gang Starr's "The Militia", a verse that will go down in history as one of the best cameos in history. Premier also produced two stand-out cuts on the album, "R.N.S." and "Part Of My Life". This was the beginning of a long-standing relationship that would stretch over Bumpy's and Gang Starr's respective albums and often resulted in the best songs of the respective projects. Premier has often said that he love the most to produce for angry hardcore emcees like M.O.P. and Blaq Poet, so wen news broke that DJ Premier was teaming up with Bumpy for an entire LP worth of material, fans expected nothing less than true school bliss. And, "Kolexxxion" does not dissapoint.

Listeners that expected an album filled with nothing but brand new material migt have found themeselves slightly dissapointed; as the title indiciates, "The Kolexxxion" exists somewhere in the wasteland between a new album and a collection of older material. Had they included songs like "Part of My Life" and "The Militia", then it would have been a problem, but as I see it now, there's really not a problem calling this an original album, as really only one single song has appeared on a previous Bumpy release. A few tracks have been played on the LiveFromHQ Show, which to me is really a positive thing as they finally have found a home in our record collections. Despite being classic tracks, I can't help but feel that including "The Lah", a song released on 12" over ten years ago, and "P.A.I.N.E." which appeared on Freddie Foxxx's "Konexion" LP in 2003 doesn't do the album a favor; especially when considering that there's previously unreleased material that's almost as good ("StoodioTyme", "Inspired by Fire") that could have taken up that space instead. The same goes for the only two average songs on the entire set; the rather pointless "Everebodee" and "FYPAU", the latter which might very well be one of Preem's most boring beats yet.

But let's focus on what this long-awaited collaboration in reality is. And what it is, is 70 minutes of brilliant superior boom bap of the hardest and most agressive variety; music that follows all the "rules" of what true school hip-hop has and should be. Ever since "The Militia", Foxxx and Premier have been the epitome of what rugged New York rap should sound; and "Kolexxxion" is full of that type of violent, slamming music that readers of The Lost Tapes love and cherish. Tracks like "Shake The Room", "The Lah", the full-out assault on bootleggers "We Are @ War" and "P.A.I.N.E." rocks harder than anything in 2012 and is bound to get any club pumped; something I can testify to, as these records all had the crowd going completely insane when the duo performed them live this November. But the real 5/5 record on the first disc is the first single, "B.A.P.", a majestic track with boom baptic drums, trumphant horns, classic Preem cuts, and three Bumpy verses that's so well woven and threatening that sucker emcees might be tempted to hang it up. My only complaint here is why this wasn't used as the album opener; "My Thoughts" is a solid cut, but "B.A.P." would've been on a whole 'nother level as it sets the tone for what the LP is about in both production and lyrics.

The entire 17 tracks 2xLP is never less than fucking dope; Freddie Foxx and DJ Premier and their "Kolexxxion" feels like the closest thing that we're ever gonna get to a new Gang Starr album. Case in point is the jazz-infused homage to the late '90s tours with The Foundation on the powerful "Gang Starr Bus" where Bumpy leaves the agressiveness in favor for some powerful storytelling. Other standouts include the fierce single "More Levels" - a perfect symbiosis between Bumpy's rough hip-hop homage and Preem's cuts and synth- and bassdriven beat. "EyeNeverPutMy4cusAway", which in fact was rejected by KanYe West for his "Dark Twisted Fantasy" LP; another superior tracks, with a hypnotizing horn sample being looped while Bumpy turns in an A+ performance; "I was born a follower who learned to lead/ among low-lifes, shit bags who burn and grieve/ criticize me when you reach my level/ 'Til then, just admire my style of fire" he vividly spits.

There's a lack of guests here, just like back in the days it's an album of one emcee and one DJ doing their thing. Only Nas turn up for a pretty fun verse on the Preemo remix of "Turn Up The Mic", a Freddie Foxxx 12" from 2004. Bumpy's voice is often agressive and the subject matter is often "limited" to despicable sucker emcees, real hip-hop and keeping it real in life and music. This works great over Premier's head-nodding production, but it's fortunate that we get at least two storytelling tracks; the previously mentioned "Gang Starr Bus", and the heartfelt album closer "Word is Bond". It's a dedication to Headcquarterz who passed away in 2005, though it differs from the usual tribute record as Foxxx rhymes from the point of view of Headcquarterz himself for the entire song. If you don't know about Headcquarterz you might not even realize that it is a goodbye to a fallen friend, and as such it's a very clever record and a perfect album closer.

It might not be the best album of the year, but for a true fan of hardbodie New York hip-hop not to put this on their top 5, or at the very least top 10, list would be sheer ignorance. Also make sure to check out the "StOoDiOtYmE" EP, as well as the two bonus tracks "Mic & Gun" and "Undagroondgoon" for more quality music in the same vein. This might very well be the album I've banged the most this year, and seeing it performed live brought another level to an alreay great musical experience. If you're late on picking this up, do so on

Pharcyde / Gummy Soul - "Still Got Love" [Bizzare Tribe Mix]

Producer Amerigo Gazaway of Gummy Soul is back with an exclusive Pharcyde joint, set over the same type of A Tribe Called Quest sample based production that created the crazy mash-up "Bizzare Tribe (A Quest to The Pharcyde)". From what I understand this is actually exclusive vocals provided by The Pharcyde crew so this is of course a must hear.

[Album] SHA STIMULI - "The Present"

Sha Stimuli is probably one of the most active emcees when it comes to dropping music this year. Starting in January of this year, he dropped the first installment in "The Rent Tape" series with "The Calling" mixtape. Since then, Sha has released a new free tape on a monthly based, and wisely he's save the best for last - "The Present" is a collaboration with production duo Dynamite Bruhz and is full of banging beats and intellectual rhymes. Guest features are many and heavy; how about J-Live, Reks, Torae, MidaZ The Beast, Wordsworth, Skyzoo, Planet Asia, Boog Brown, Rapper Big Pooh, Buff1, and more. Don't sleep on this one guys!

Monday, December 24, 2012

RZA - "Ode to Django (The 'D' is Silent)"

Quentin Tarantino rarely, if ever, dissapoints when it comes to making incredible films. Witty dialouge, interesting stories, great actors, fantastic shots, and definitely not least his unbelivable knack for combining visuals with audio; whether if he's using an original score or if he's sticking with pre-recorded music, the result is always stunning. Besides David Lynch, I can't really think of any other director who's soundtracks stand on their own even years after the movie's run time is over. 

"Django Unchained" is the title of Tarantino's latest and trust me when I say you'll find me in the cinema darkness when it hit theaters over here. I was hoping for a little more hip-hop joints on the soundtrack (especially sinnce Rev. William Burks dropped two impeccable pieces for the flick), but at least RZA made the iTunes version with the solid "Ode to Django (The 'D' is Silent)". Check it out below.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

KA - "To Our Name"

Brownsville spitter KA released one of this year's grimiest albums with "Grief Pedigree" this summer. Vinyl heads got a slamming bonus track entitled "To Our Name" which is now available in mp3 format thanks to EgoTrip. Bang it loud!

[Video] Large Pro - "Barber Shop Chop"

Extra P drops the visual to the album cut "Barber Shop Chop" from his very stellar "Professor @ Large" LP. This is one of the illest joints on the entire album to me, I absolutely loved how Large decided to include a few slamming instrumentals to keep it interesting. The video, directed by Aaron Katsnelsen, looks clean too, "Professor @ Large" is available via Fat Beats now!

Beat Bop Scholar Meets Lord Finesse & Percee P

Producer and hip-hop historian Beat Bop Scholar sat down with D.I.T.C. founder Lord Finesse and The Super Rhyme Inspector Percee P to break down some hip-hop history, talk influences, kick some wicked acapellas and takes a trip down memory lane of their respective careers. This is some amazing footage that's a must see for any true hip-hop head. 30 minutes of hip-hop history right here... Big ups to Beat Bop Scholar and Strictly Cassette.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Maffew Ragazino - "Friday"

Brownsville, New York has brought us some of the finest rhyme slingers in the industry through the years, and the latest emcee to hail feok The Ville is Maffew Ragazino. In early 2010 he dropped his street album "Rhyme Pays", a solid rlease featuring production by Frank Dules, Clark Kent, Digga, Harry Fraud. Following that has been a pair of really dope joints; "Brownsville Bullies" with Lil' Fame and Teflon, and most recently the absolutely brilliant video for "Got 2 Love It".

Now he's back with another heavy hitter, and I for one can't fucking wait for a proper Raggazino debut. "Friday" is the first joint for Fokis' Loyal Digitl Corp. label.


 "Wide Angels" was the name of a very dope compilation of some of the finest underground hip-hop available around 1999 for Blind Side Recordings. Released on the 1st of January 2000, the fifteen track collection was an impeccable mix of some of the most potent underground lyricists and producers available at the time. Sporting both somber and aggressive beats and fierce vocal styles, mesmerizing hooks and memorable 16:s, this is a must hear. While I don't have the actual album in my collection yet, my crates pack plenty of records that do appear on the project; in fact "Wide Angles" is about as powerful of a late '90s unerderground hip-hop showcase as Rawkus and their "Lyricist Lounge" and "Soundbombing" series.

I'm not sure if DJ Spinna had anything to do with actually compiling this as it was not released on but his productions and a lot of artists he worked with at the time are all over this. Things kick off with the brilliant "Voicestress" produced by Spinna and Joc Max as Domecrackers; a 12" by Truth Enola which features  De La Soul. This is a laid-back, guitar driven  song which sets things of lovely. Next up is, what is probably a left-over from the "Black Star" album, as it was originally recorded in '98. Called "Another World" it's produced by UK wizards The Creators who cooks up an uptempoi beat promting Kweli and Mos going back and forth. Next up, is what is probably one of the illest 12"s I have in my entire record collection; the Spinna remix of underground monster Big Kwam's "Verbalize". This is a true underground anthem right here, complete with a hypnotic beat, lyricism at its finest and powerful scratches. Natural Elements' L-Swift, is joined by A-Butta and talented prodcuer Kenny "Dope" Gonzales on "Ride This", a pretty dope jawn but in my opinion the weakest track so far.

Brother Alphonso Greer (better known as Joc Max) get things back to the previous mood; a laid back joint to kick your feet back to; between the accoustic guitar, the low-key turntable work and Joc Max's spoken word message, this is  a very nice midtro. The younger Soul Brother Grap Luva pops up for a beautiful solo cut, "Touch The Sky", a mellow cut where Grap sounds right at home and where he's right in his element. A solo album by Grap around this time, produced by people like Spinna, Pete Rock, and Grap himself could easily have been a classic.

After another funky piece by Alfonso Greer, the team of DJ Spinna and Pharoahe Monch.returns with the non-album cut "Toooley Crew Personified". I'm still mad that i passed on the 12" single last week, because this is a real powerful joint. An an up-tempo, agressive ans powerful beat with Pharoahe revisiting the theme of his super classic "Stray Bullet". We need a full Spinna / Monch collabo ASAP.

The intennse power trip of the previous joints take a left turn to a smoky jazz club setting; a slow jam with Fender Rhodes, accoustic bass and live drums is the recipe for the beautiful voice of Alice Russel and  her "Someday". I need to check out some of this girls albums ASAP as pretty much everything I've heard so far been real graceful. Mr. Complex, of Polyrhythm Addicts, Subterrenean, and Structure Rize follows with more hardcore underground hip-hop at its finest. Drums bangs, horn glares and emcees dominate their respecciive pieces.

DJ Spinna is the one who really dominates the set however, and its when he is credited for producion that the "album" really takes off. Much of the stand-outs are also available on 12":s, but to have tracks like Big Kwam's "Verbalize" (DJ Spinna Remix), "Tooley Crew Personified", the brilliant Big Twan joint  "One For The Lyricist", the Nick Wiz produced banger "Kwamaniz" (once again Big Kwam), the De La Soul/Truth Enola collabo and many more. All in all, this is pretty good compilation that, unlike most collections could and should be played front-to-back.... TURN IT UP!!

01. Truth Enola / De La Soul - "Voicestress"
02. Mos Def / Talib Kweli - "Another World"
03. Big Kwam - "Verbalize" [DJ Spinna Remi]
04. L Swift Ft. A-Butta - "Ride This"
05. Grap Luva - "Touch the Sky"
06. Invisible Mics - "Way Post Go"
07. Brother Alphonso Greer - "Situation Reakistic"
08. Pharoahe Monch - "Tooley Crew Personified"
09. Alice Russel - "Someday"
10. Mr. Complex - "Do It Up"
11. Subterenean - "My Style is Phreaky"
12. J-Live - "Shyste"
13. Big Twan - "One For the Lyricist"
14, Structure Rize - "Put You Hannds Up"
15. Big Kwam - "Kwamaniz"


Purpose & Confidence - "Felony Findings"

Ill Adrenaline Records keep pumping out the hot shit; the latest of their releases is the joint venture between underground phenomenon Purpose (of Tragic Allies) & Confidence (of Rashad & Confidence). Recently, they released their collaborative debut album "The Purpose Of Confidence" which is still in rotation. The latest single from the project is "Felony Findings" which is also getting the visual treatment courtesy of director P. Silva. The album is available on 2xLP and CD @ UGHH and in digital copies via iTunes so grab your pick. 

NO I.D. - Who Need A Rhyme?

No I.D. is constantly overlooked when it comes to the most amazing beatmakers and producers out there. He got at the very least one of the most clasic albums of all time in "Resurrection", he launched the careers of KanYe Wear and Common Sense. he's the A&R of hip-hop's maybe most succesful label, and so forth... But most of all, he is just an extremelly talented cat  who makes beats like no other and gor his own style. Taking a break from producing albums like "Life is Good" by Nas, here he delivers two neck-breaking instrumentals that I doubt you'll be able to sit still to. I can only hope for a No I.D. albm a´la "Soul Survivor"; spotted @ OkayPlayer. Don't sleep on this man!

[BONUS EP] Action Bronson x Alchemist - "Rare Chandeliers"

A few posts down I posted "Dugs Cheese On A Roll" one of the three bonus tracks from the extended version of ALC and Bronson's free album "Rare Chandeliers". Turns out I got something better for you, as I got my hands on all three of the bonus jawns from the set for your steering pleasure so grab them while you still can. Unfortunately, this is not available in your favorite retail stores but the complete album only comes packed with supporters of the new theme collection by Diamond Supply Co. Bring on the wax, or even CD, and I'll buy this one in a heartbeat. Oh, well, you can't win them all... Check out the three joints below!