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Friday, January 29, 2016

[Stream] K-DEF - "The Unpredictable Gemini" / "The Way It Was"

A few posts down I talked about hip-hop and the celebration of mediocricity and how it is bringing the culture down like never before. One of the artists that is the very definition of quality and original hip-hop music that's still heavily rooted in the musical traditions is New Jersey's finest producer, K-DEF, a producer I have championed probably more than any other since I started The Lost Tapes back in 2010. I've been a fan for years and as much as I love his classic sample based boom bap production of the '90s as part of the House Of Hits team with Marley Marl (the LP that truly put me on to his work was Tragedy Khadafi's underrated sophomore album "Saga Of A Hoodlum"), I must say that his huge output of both instrumental and vocal projects that his signing with Redef Records back in 2011 has showcased has really become the heart of his long career in my humble opinion. The way he manages to create some of the most musical and best orchestrated/arranged hip-hop productions entirely without the use of samples is nothing short of mindblowing and is the ultimate proof of the old question of man or machine when it comes to lacing banging shit.

Though I miss his production for other artists (which throught the years have included classics and overlooked gems for Ghostface Killah, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Lords Of The Underground, LL Cool J, World Renown and many, many more) his solo output with records such as "One Man Band", "Night Shift", "The Exhibit", the "Sneak Shot" and "For Def's Sake" EP that has really solidifed his place as one of the top 10 hip hop producers of all time. Following in the footsteps of all those aforementioned albums and EP:s, heavily arranged and well thought out original instrumental compositions that avoids the reliance of samples (and live instrumentation too for that matter!), 'Def and Redef has again teamed up for what sounds like a future classic of an album that dropped today. "Double Gemini" includes no less than 20 instrumental joints that flows together very well as a proper album, and includes an excellent bonus vocal cut featuring AG and Damu The Fudgemunk. Available on vinyl, CD and digital (including a free preview stream which you can check out below) as I'm listening now, and with the risk of sounding like a dick rider, I can't find enough good things to say about this... 

And as if that wasn't enough the label/producer is also releasing a second full-lenght project at the same time (both are available on separate vinyl/digital and as a double CD featuring both)! The second project is entitled "The Way It Was" and is an inspiring look to the past, featuring never before released instrumentals mostly conjured up in the '90s when K-Def was still working the MPC and sampling jazz, soul and funk. Aside from classics like De'1's "Uneke", World Renown "How Nice I Am", Mic Geronimo's "For The Family" and a never before heard instrumental that was considered by KRS-One for inclusion on "Return Of The Boom Bap" the compilation also comes strapped with three (to my knowledge) previously unreleased 2010 tracks with Blu. Head over to Redefinition Records to order the CD including both albums or the separate vinyl editions of each LP while you stream the projects through their Official Bandcamp.


D.I.T.C. - "Diggin' Number" / "Brolic"

As you, my loyal readers, noticed in the last half of 2015 I really became somewhat disillusioned with hip-hop (and still am to a degree) and I will expand on this theme on an article I intend to write called "Hip Hop and the celebration of mediocricity" which I feel is a huge problem with the musical aspect of this culture right now. But as you notice by many updates today I feel that several artists are coming back out with that real shit that I've been longing to hear and provides a much needed counterbalance to the extreme wackness of the mainstream artists like Young Thug, Slim Jesus, Stitches, all that drill music bullshit and so on as well as the so called "underground movement" which I feel rehash old tried and tested formulas that have been done so much better in the past, without saying nothing new.

But upcoming projects from favorite artists like D.I.T.C., K-Def, Ghostface/Killah Priest, KRS-One, Scarface, Erykah Badu and younger talents like Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and even Kanye West is restoring some of my faith for 2016. Especially Diggin' in the Crates has long been a favorte and as I've written previously the original intent for a website of mine was one exclusively designed around that group. Though I've been somewhat dissapointed in the rehashing of old material over and over again as well as hastily put together projects like "The Movement" and "Unreleased Production '94", stellar projects like Finesse's "The SP1200 Project(s)", OCs "Trophies" and "Ray's CafĂ©", AG's EP with DJ Koss, Show & A's "Mughsot" trilogy and Diamond's "The Diam Piece" (and his excellent and ridiciously overlooked BIGREC collaboration "DoomsDay") is ample proof that this collective is still at the top of their game. However a new group album has been at the top of the list of many hip-hop fans wish list for over a decade by now and the excellent "The Remix Project" has turned out to be a appetizer for an upcoming full-length by the entire crew. 

The album which is to be titled "D.I.T.C. Studios" is set to be released via Slice-Of-Spice (the same label who handled the remix album and all recent Lord Finesse releases) definitely seems to be an official follow up to 1999's excellent, yet somewhat underrated "Worldwide" LP on Tommy Boy. All active emcees is participating again (AG, Fat Joe, Diamond D, OC) with at least one apperance by Milano promised. Judging by the four singles released thus far the main difference seems to be that the crew has turned to more outside producers this time around which might be a wise move since interviews throughout the years have revealed that the main problem the members had with the direction of the debut was that the four D.I. producers wanted to stray in somewhat different directions. Following the soulful "Make 'Em So Proud" and my personal favorite "My City", the last week has seen two more singles from the album being unleashed on the highly anticipating public. "Diggin' Number" features AG, OC and Fat Joe and is produced by J. Clyde while Diamond D handles beats and production on "Brolic" which sports verses from AG, OC and Diamond himself. This ish is shaping up lovely so be sure to check out the joints below and be sure to support the real once this album drops - I know I will, and I barely bought a single hip-hop album in 2015.

AG - "Price Of Fame"

Anyone who follows AG on Facebook knows how serious he's been taking his"Taste Of Ambrosia" project, an album he has worked on for years and that finally is about to drop this year. Following the single "Blow", The Giant has now come through with the second single off the project - complete with a music video. The track is called "Price Of Fame" and is another highlight for A's calm but potent flow and his knack for writing lyrics that's direct and piercing with a lot of emotion. Stay tuned for more info on the album as it progresses.


If there's one thing I've learned from being a hardcore Wu-Tang head for the last 19 years or so is to not pay much attention to whatever projects these hip-hop generals announce. So when Killah Priest and Ghostface Killah, two of my favorite rappers of all times as well as being two very different emcees, revealed that they were working on a full-length album together I chalked it up to empty talk. Their somewhat recent collaborations "Purified Thoughts" ("Apollo Kids", 2012; with GZA) and "Devotion to the Saints" ("Physical World Of Walter Reed", 2013; also featuring Inspectah Deck) have both been tremendous achievements of pure unadeltered rawness, exactly the type of shit Wu-Tang fans want to hear. However it now seems that this project might become a reality after all as they have released a straight up banging single called "Wu Goo" which works partly as a bizaree music video and partly as an hilarious advertisment for a THC vape cartridge they are developing called... you guessed it, Wu Goo. Check out the video up top, peep an alternative version below and keep your fingers crossed that this is only the first of many songs from this power house duo to be released in 2016. Oh and also check out this hilarious coke prank that Ghostface, Dr. Zodiak (who also produced the "Wu Goo" joint) and a bunch of pranksters pulled on the Murderous Priest.

FREDDIE GIBBS x MADLIB - "Cocaine Parties in LA"

While I am a fan of Kanye West you won't see any posts of his music on here as I don't feel that's what The Lost Tapes are about. However the always on point Gangsta Gibbs who produced not only one of the best LP:s of 2014 with his Madlib collaboration "Pinata", but one of the best LP:s of the decade, is definitely an emcee that I gladly spread the word on. Like I said in my review of that project, Gibbs has always been a grippng spitter to my ears but much of the beats he has picked for his solo projects has not really been up my alley which made the Madlib collabo all the more potent to my ears. So when he hijacked the new 'Lib produced Kanye West single "No More Parties in LA", appropatiely renamed "Cocaine Parties in LA", you know this is something to rejoice about. Let's just hope we'll see a follow-up to "Pinata" sooner or later. It appears the song has been taken down from Gibbs official Soundcloud so if you haven't heard it yet be sure to press play ASAP as it might be taken down from YouTube as well any day.

[DJ Mix] J. ROCC x J DILLA - "DiLLAtronic Mix"

Whenever J. Rocc are in charge of a DJ mix you know it's going to be potent as hell and his "Thank You Jay Dee" series still holds up as perhaps the best tribute mixes to the late, great producer that has yet been produced. Just like he did with Pete Rock's instrumental 2015 banger "PeteStrumentals II" the legendary Beat Junkie has cooked down the excellent instrumental posthumous Dilla compilation "Dillatronic" that was released last fall into a seamless 30 minutes mix of his favorite moments from the original 40 tracks selection. While I did thoroughly enjoy the official compilation some of the beats were definitely drawn out for quite a bit too long so this is a good alternative experience of that same music which Dilla mostly recorded between early 2001 and late 2003 (covering unreleased beats from the period that brought us gems like "48 HRS", "Champion Sound", "Ruff Draft" and his work on projects like Slum Village's "Trinity" and Talib Kweli's "Quality"). Matter of fact given the short running time of both I would imagine playing J. Rocc's sets of this and the Pete Rock one back to back should be a great way to spend an hour of the best instrumental hip-hop avalable at the moment. TURN IT UP!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

[Comp] BLAQ POET & DJ PREMIER - "Blaq Poetic Justice"

 Earlier today I revisited one of my absolute favorite albums of 2009, "Tha Blaqprint", Blaq Poet's official full-length collaboration with DJ Premier. I, like many with me, first became aware of Poet's powerful presence and aggressive rhyming style via the excellent debut of Screwball, an album completely immersed in the ruff, rugged and raw New York City style boom bap. This is a path that Poet never steers away from - something which we all should be thankful for as he constantly delivers, giving us hardcore heads an injection of some pure, unfiltered hip hop shit. Going back to the Screwball album you could hear that he was extra charged up whenever he got a chance to murk a Preemo beat - especially evident on his solo outing "F.A.Y.B.A.N.". Not only that, but the legendary DJ himself often seems to hook up his nastiest beats when producing for rough edged cats that's heavy on the street element and possess aggresive flows. I'm talking cats like Bumpy Knuckles, M.O.P. and of course Poet. With these factors in mind it was a no brainer that the duo would hit the studio on and off for years, eventually creating enough material to be compiled into a full-length album... and then some.

When "Tha Blaqprint" was finally released in 2009, via Year Round Records, many of the tracks had been heard on radio shows and mixtapes going back as far as 2005. This caused some people to label the project a compilation or a street album, but personally I'd say that "Tha Blaqprint" is undoubtedly a proper album - as all of these songs saw their first true official release here and it's put together, sequenced and packaged like an album no matter how you slice and dice it. It would also mark the end of a long and fruitful partnership as Poet would leave Year Round a short while after the album dropped, which in one way is a shame but considering the fate of the other label signees like NYGz and MC Eiht it was probably for the better. Unfortunately the albums that have followed in its wake like "Blaq Poet Society" and "E.B.K." has certainly failed to grab me. Poet can be a thrill to listen to but his somewhat old school style and agressive street persona needs excellent beats to really shine through in my opinion. Not to say that he needs Premier to deliver quality material as there's plenty of stuff he has recorded in the last decade that's absolute heat but some of the producers he has worked with more recently just don't cut it for me. Anyway I'm truly glad that the Poet/Preem Co-Op worked as long as it actually did, providing us material to fill up two albums... and as I understand it they parted ways on remotely good terms so future colaborations is not an impossiblity.

For the first Lost Tapes compilation in 2016 I decided to bring together all the joints this power house duo cooked up outside of the 13 tracks found on "Tha Blaqprint". If you dug that album as much as me this little collection right here is nothing short of a blessing as there's plenty of material here that's just as good as the best shit on the aforementioned album. Some of these tracks was originally released on Poet's previous album "Rewind: Deja Screw", others appeared as B-sides to YRR 12" singles, and a few are guest apperances or remixes featuring Poet and Preemo. I hope you enjoy this one, but remember that you'll need to blast this shit LOUD AS FUCK to get the desired effect.

01. "2 The Stomach (Poet's Coming)" [2004]
02. "Ain't Nuttin Changed II" (Ft. MC Eiht & Young Maylay) [2009]
03. "Bang This!" [2005]
04. "N.H.B. (Nigga Hoe Bitch)" (w. The NYGz) [2007]
05. "Seen It All" (w. Screwball) [1999]
06. "We Gonna Ill" [2001]
07. "Vigilante" [Preemo's VHS Remix] (w. Venom) [2010]
08. "Poet Has Come" [2003]
09. "Watch Your Back" [2006]
10. "Too Strong" [2009]
11. "Just" [DJ Premier's JustRemixIt Mix] (w. Mark Ronson) [2008]
12. "F.A.Y.B.A.N." [1999]
13. "A Message From Poet" [2003]


Just checking through some random stuff on Soundcloud this dark, rumbling beast of a joint started blaring through my headphones as Phat Kat took microphone duties. Ron Bon Jovi was not a name I recognized so I did a quick search and turns out that the Microphone Master of Detroit has joined up with the super talented Hieroglyphics member Casual to form this duo. Collaborative projects like this has become something of a norm in underground hip-hop these days and sometimes it works like a charm while other times it never truly gels. Listening to the single, "Time Tunnel", I gets a good vibe though so I'm definitely looking forward to the full-length ("Neaux Mursi") which is supposed to drop on February 19.

D.I.T.C. - "My City" / "Make 'Em Proud"

Now this right here is a true treat that I know a lot of real hip-hop heads like myself have been awaiting for years upon years by now... and that is the official reunion of D.I.T.C. as an actual group rather than a loose crew. There's been talk of a new album in interviews for a long time by now but I remember OC somewhere saying that for it to happen everybody would need to be on board and on the same page - meaning that without Fat Joe the chances of a new Diggin' in the Crates LP were slim to none. I had my doubts as if Joe would ever return to the fold as I haven't heard him claim D.I.T.C. since 1999 or somewhere around that time. The great news is that the whole group have been back in the studio recording brand new material that will be unleashed on the world sometime during 2016.

Not much information has been made available at this point but I've seen it mentioned as both an upcoming album and an upcoming compilation so we'll see were we will eventualy land. The one thing I do know is that the release will be a Co-Op between D.I.T.C. (the label) and Slice-Of-Spice, much like the excellent remix project that dropped back in 2014. This means that it will be available on both vinyl and CD which of course is fantastic news. So far one full track has been made available to the public - "Make 'Em Proud (Hold Up)", a collaboration between Fat Joe, AG and Diamond D over a Lord Finesse production (speaking of 'Ness it will be interesting to see whether or not he will be rhyming again). Just as I was writing this and going on to get the links for the music I noticed that a second single has just been released - a joint called "My City", produced by a to me unknown cat by the name of Motif Alumni (peep his Soundcloud - SKILLS!). In addition to the two singles the group's official Soundcloud page also holds 90 seconds snippets for an additional three songs. Most exciting news in quite some time, don't you think?!

[Throwback] HERBIE HANCOCK - "Rockit" (LIVE)

Herbie Hancock is one of the most talented artists around having honed his skills on hundreds of great records since he first broke onto the scene in 1960. One of Hancock's greatest talents is his ability to stay true to his jazz roots while absorbing and transforming new musical movements of the day. His work as part of the The Miles Davis Quintet between 1963 and 1968 helped marry the burgenoing free jazz scene with the more traditional harmonies and rhythms of free bop. Also with Davis, Hancock took part in sessions for classic fusion albums "In A Silent Way" and "On The Corner" which helped him evolve the concept of his own fusion band, the sextet known as The Mwandishi Band - to me the most underrated of fusion groups. In the late '70s and early '80s he adapted to the disco scene (resulting in a handfull of, to my ears, very sub-par albums) but it was with his incorporation of the rapidly evolving hip-hop scene that he truly captured the young audience.

Hooking up with prolific record producer and bassist Bill Laswell, keyboardist Michael Beinhorn and legendary turntable wizard Grandmixer D.ST (now known as DXT) Hancock released the groundbreaking "Future Shock" LP in 1983. Using their jazz sensibilities the group combined deep grooves of electro and funk with blistering keyboard solos, screeching electric guitars (courtesy of the extremely underrated Pete Cosey), booming drum programming and powerful turntable attacks. The turntables were treated as any other instrument, with the DJ being given equal billing as a soloist and ensemble player as Hancock himself. The lead single "Rockit" with it's strangely weird concept video (see above) became the first hip-hop video ever played by MTV, a channel which at the time heavily downplayed music by black artists. As the first true combination of jazz and hip-hop the album, and especially "Rockit", was a revelation... a musical revolution!

Check out the rare clip of Hancock and the Rockit band (as it is often referred to) smash a blazing version of "Rockit" with D.ST on the wheels of steel. I'm not sure where the footage is lifted from but it is likely that it's from a tour done the same year as the release of the album. ROCKIT!!!

No Updates @ The Lost Tapes?

First off, I want to appologize to my faithful readers for the heavy disregard of The Lost Tapes from me over the last couple of months. This has a few different reasons which I would like to explain to you, but first and foremost The Lost Tapes is not shutting down, though I will not be continuing the daily updates for at least the coming months. There's a lot of good sites out there that focuses on new hip-hop singles on a daily basis which I recommend y'all to check out instead (EgoTrip, OkayPlayer, etc.). Instead I will focus the updates I do on more exclusive shit, which is the reason I even started this blog in the first place (hence the name). I'm talking about stuff like compilations, articles and reviews as well as the occassional rare lost tape (as in demos, etc.). 

As for the reason why the site hasn't seen too many updates as of late is simply that my heart hasn't been in it. I have run The Lost Tapes for more than five years at this point, often doing several updates each day, and at one point I started feeling that I wasn't doing it as something I enjoyed anymore, but rather as something that often felt like a burden. The second thing is that I've been listening less and less to Hip-Hop the last six months, instead craving all that Jazz. This does not mean that I've lost any love for Hip-Hop, its music or its culture, but as that has been pretty much my life since I was a kid it is sometimes refreshing to explore other musical idioms. All in all I have to say that 2015 was probably the least interesting year as far as new Hip-Hop albums goes. Sure there was Kendrick's masterpiece of an album and a bunch of solid LP:s but compared to every previous year since the '80s it has been heavily lacking if you ask me.

So with that being said I want to wish all my readers a happy new year and I hope that you will continue to check in with me here at The Lost Tapes from time to time. There should be at least a couple of updates a week, starting today with a brand new compilation of bangers from Blaq Poet and DJ Premier (all the non-"Blaqprint" stuff) which will be followed by a Public Enemy remix compilation... so stay tuned!