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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

[Album Stream + EPK] MASTA ACE - "The Falling Season"

I am just as aware as you the lack of updates on The Lost Tapes the last six months or so, a place that once bragged about its daily updates and exclusive contents and again sorry about that. I hope some of you ocassionally check out what's happening here, because although I don't really have time for this blog at the moment (and to be honest the large amount of watered down music, even from the legends these days, have made me somewhat uninterested in any new hip-hop compared to just a couple of years ago). With that said I still will want to highlight some new releases that I feel are worthy of our time as well as the ocassional compilation and so on. So if you're still here, trusted reader, peace be upon you, and if not.. Well, so be it.

The first album that I want to talk to you about is Masta Ace's "The Falling Season" which dropped a week or so ago by now but as it has been a suprisingly low-key record as far as promotion goes I figure some heads might still have missed out on it. Ace used to be one of my favorite artists in this game for a long time, releasing some incredible album gems that I would argue are, if not masterpieces, then at least close to that classic status. I am of course talking about the two Masta Ace INC. albums as well as the undisposable "Disposable Arts" and the equally slamming "A Long Hot Summer". Nothing but bangers on those albums, excellent rhyming over excellent production that sounded fresh and cohessive despite featuring a multiple of producers and guest emcees sharing mic duties with Ace. If you remember, "A Long Hot Summer" was supposed to be Ace's final solo album, and as such he truly went out with a bang. Instead he was to focus the rest of his career touring and droping ocassional collaborative efforts with his groups EMC, Ace & Edo (G) and the MF DOOM produced (through recycled beats) concept album/mixtape "M.A. Doom: The Son Of Yvonne". All these albums had their joints to be sure, and Ace could still deliver hot verses, but I always felt that a large chunk of the production and overall themes left a lot to be desired on all of these albums.

Imagine then the hype when I found out that The Master was working on an official follow-up to "A Long Hot Summer", a real solo album with all original beats that told a story interweaving skits and songs into a cohessive concept album just like his last two highly acclaimed and aforementioned proper solo albums. That album is finally here - entitled "The Falling Season" which follows the young future underground star throughout his childhood years, all set to the production of newcomer KIC Beats. Of the latter, Ace has described the previously untested California beatsmith as a beatsmith that does not rely very much on samples but instead incorporates live instrumentations whenever possible. And this to me is the albums greatest weakness, although I suspect it might grow on me. But I really have a bug about these legendary emcees who on his recent projects got bangers upon bangers from some of the greatest underground producers in the industry (Domingo, MF DOOM, J-Zone, Beatnuts, Ayatollah, 9th Wonder, Khrysis, Dug Infinite, Marco Polo, DJ JS-One, and so on). While KiC Beats has some good tracks his best work hardly reach up to the levels of the great tracks supplied for Ace by the producers mentioned above, and it definitely hampers the project. 

Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad album per se, just an underwhelming one when you consider how amazing music Ace can put out when the chemistry between producer and artist is on top. Still well worth checking out, and don't take my word for it because I've heard several people highly praise this LP so judge for yourself - you can stream the entire project below via Bandcamp before grabbing a digital copy from their site. More good news is that its available on vinyl, CD and cassette so if you dig this or just want to complete your collection I say go for it (check out HHV for prices and editions). Check out the EPK up top, and stream the album above - oh and one more thing guests include Cormega, AG, Your Old Droog, Wordsworth, Pav Bundy, Stricklin, Torae and The World Famous Supreme Team. Give it a spin below right away!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

[Throwback Tape] BDP - Live in Japan ('90 Cassette)

Another rare, historical gem from KRS-One and the BDP crew that I stumbled across on YouTube yesterday. This rare tape with original handdrawn artwork and inserts were given away at Boogie Down Production's first Japanese tour in the very early '90s. Since they had the tape prepared and done by then my guess was that this featured recordings from US shows but at least one track you can hear Kris shout out Japan so it's most likely a Japanese recording as welll.

The rare cassette features two sides (Duh); one being KRS freestyling and strictly going in over classic, and some more obscure, ragga flavored joints while the B-side is labeled the "Hip Hop Side" and (you gussed it) instead features Kris on more traditional breaks and beats. Well worth a listen, and ahuge thank you goes out to YouTube uploader FITTY for allowing us all to hear this forgotten document of one of the best "groups" hip-hop has ever witnessed.

[Live Concert] BOOGIE DOWN PRODUCTIONS - "Live 1990" (VHS)

If you follow Hip Hop news you and especially The Star Chamber you know that he's driving a campaign against Afrika Bambaata based on the multiple ocassions on child molestations that has come to light and there's no doubt in my mind that Bam should be punished for this, and that his legacy will forever be tarnished. However, KRS-One was asked about his thoughts about this on N.O.R.E.'s recent podcast, and though his comments was hardly well thought out or well put together, it has been twisted to say that he meant that he is down with pedophilia and child abuse. What he did say was that as far as Hip-Hop goes, you can never change the legacy of hip-hop - whether or not the allegations turn out to be true, Afrika Bambaata has been such an integral part of the culture that no matter what his legacy will stand firm. His choice of wording was very poor and his comments was in very poor taste, but for the hip-hop community to turn his back on KRS for a stupid comment doesn't sit welll with me. He is one of the innovators, oen of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time and his discography is timeless. Now the P.K. mafia is digging up classic BDP joints like "13 & Good", taken from the 5/5 concept album "Sex & Violence" (which to this day still holds up as one of my three favorite KRS/BDP albums OF ALL TIME).

So far from boycotting KRS I'm hooking you up with a rare VHS of Boogie Down Productions performing in NYC in 1990, featuring D-Nice, Ms. Melodie, Kid Capri, Harmony and even the late Heavy D. The interview segments are interspersed with dialouge, interviews and clips of the crew hanging around. This was released in 1991 on VHS tape and is a true historial document. I believe that this is the video portion of the same concert that made up the "Live Hardcore Worldwide" LP but I am not entirely certain since it been years I listened to that LP (not a favorite of mine at all as live hip-hop albums, as opposed to jazz, are a drag unless the name of the group happens to be The Roots). All praises due to uploader Alan-Proctor Thompson.
01. Hip Hop Will Never Die
02. Cuff
03. Crazy Glue
04. SP 1200
05. Beef
06. Love's Gonna Get'cha
07. Jack of Spades
08. My Philosophy
09. I'm Still #1
10. Original Lyrics
11. Call Me D-Nice
12. Reggae Freestyle
13 House Ni**as

[Throwback Video] RZA, Pete Rock & Mark Morales Discuss Beats

Along with the homie FatboyBrandon, YouTube poster Hezakaya is something of a legend in Wu-Tang fans circles these days as he got tons of rare clips of the Clan and some other hip-hop legends on shows like Yo! MTV Raps and most you can imagine. And he is willing to share them for free whch is of course super appreciated. I made a good find yesterday that he had uploaded somewhat recently which is a sitdown between Fab 5 Freddy, Pete Rock, The RZA and Prince Markie Dee (original member of Fat Boys who later started producing R&B and Soul records under his real name Mark Morales). This was taped in 1995 and I have never seen this before and its some neat footage, no doubt. Check it up top and props to Hezakaya (oh the clips after the interview concludes about midway through is from the underrated movie"The Show").

[Throwback] KILLAH PRIEST - "A Prelude To The Offering" (2xCD)

As big of a Wu-Tang fan that I am, I must admit that, although I absolutely adore "Heavy Mental" as one of the greatest, most creative and original musical works of the last 25 years I more or less lost interest in him following "A View From Masada", and was barely checking his material for the following six years. But then something happened, both the underground and Wu-Tang fanatics started whispering about a monumental comeback on Priest's part - an upcoming album called "The Offering" which Priest promised would be a classic album, and judging by the singles, freestyles and loosies he kept churning out during the two year build up Priest showed that he clearly meant business. And then of course when "The Offering" finally came in 2006, it was just as terrific as I had hoped and then some.. For me it's in that rare league of albums that I hold among the 20 best discs to be releaed since 2005 (other works include Freddie Gibbs "Pinata", Raekwon's "Cuban Linx II" (if just slightly modified), Kendrick Lamar's both LP:s, KanYe's "Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", Ghost's "Fishscale", Nas' "Life is Good", Evidence's "Cats & Dogs", and so on... Matter of fact Killah Priest is up there twice with "Psychic World Of Walter Reed" as well).

"The Offering" put Killah Priest back in the position as one of the most cinematic and poetic storytellers of our generation, and his rhyme schemes are constantly excellent. For me he is without a doubt a top 10 emcee, and not only is he a master of his craft but given the right time he is also a master of putting together real songs and construct proper albums that should be enjoyed from front-to-back. "The Offering" is all that and then some - it has the heavily mysticism, religious ambiguity, hood tales, personal biographical stories, fierce guest apperances and posse cuts and superb production supplied mosty by, at the time, relative new-comers collectively known as Godz Wrath. The first single was the title song and right from the jump I knew this album was going to be something really special. Take for example the first single of "View From Masada", which was a track called "Whut Part Of The Game..." featuring Ras Kass - a banger in its own right, but hardly represent of the Priest we had come to known and love from his masterpiece of a deut (an album that was once crowned The Best Hip Hop album of all time in an editorial in Hip Hop Connection back in like 2002 when I was still buying magazines).

I think I told y'all before that I never been much for the art of the mixtape that is such a prominent part of this hip-hop culture we all love and cherish. I dislik the fact that there's rarely full songs, whatever exclusives are on there are hidden between records I already have in way better quality on their original album, and that's not even mentioning the often lame transitions from songs and DJ shouts (some DJ:s really DO get it right though, and those mixtapes are often incredible). But to cut to the chase I found an extremely cheap, used, copy of a Killah Priest release called "A Prelude to the Offering" a week or two ago, and for the reasons I stated above I hadn't actually heard this mindblowing release beforehand although I of course remember its release and it making some buzz on the Wu forums. Now searching on Discogs it turns out that there are actually two versions of this mixtape - one mixed by the talented DJ J-Ronin and featuring a hopscotch of new and old material, including tracks like "4th Chamber", "B.I.B.L.E." and "America" blended with new or unreleased cuts. This is the type of mixtape I don't care for; however, the version I have is spread out over a double CD, getting rid of all the previously released material (or at the very least disposing of the very well known cuts like the aforementioned joints). The two discs features 13 songs each with the first one being called "A Prelude To The Offering" and the second "The Best Of Killah Priest", however the second disc at one point has a female introduction stating "You are now listening to the sounds of "A Prelude..." so it's really one and the same, something also the tracklist confirms. 

Needless to say I was absolutely blown away by this release - as a build-up to the album it works tremendously well as it will have your mouth salivating for more due to the fact that it showcases Priest reclaiming his spot as one of the more interesting emcees around. Of course it's not better than "The Offering" but as an album I place it above all three of the discs he released between "Heavy Mental" and "Offering" (four if you cound that "Black August Revisited" project). The thirteen tracks on Disc 1 are more or less all exclusive for the time it was released and here the DJ lets more or less the full songs of each cut play out from beginning to end. It's clear that the majority of the tracks were songs recorded for "The Offering" but left off due to the fact that Priest had so much material already and wanted to make a cohessive project - this doesn't mean that thhe majority of them are inferior to the ones on the album. For example, I was suprised to see "Hood Nursery" and "4 Tomorrow" on here - songs that would later appear on the album's official sequel "Behind The Stained Glass". Speaking of that, there is a beautiful, very atmospheric song with INTENSE lyrics on here with that title that I believe was meant as an "Offering" inclusion as Priest urges the listener to look at the album cover and try to envision what's behind the stained glass (if you have seen the cover to "Offering" you'll know what he's getting at). Most of the beats are original, though there are some freestyles set over other tracks (including Busta's "Touch It" and KanYe's "Big Brother) and a beautiful track like the somber, accoustic guitar monster called "Lost Generation" sounds like Priest basically put on an old instrumental and straight up rhymed to it - very effective.

Between the two discs a couple of gems would later appear on "The Offering" - the immaculate "Uprisign", a way too short track that I can probably count on how many fingers the times that I'd not rewinded it at least once. The other banger is the hardcore guerilla attack known as "Stand Still" with Immortal Tech and Poison Pen. The only other songs previusly released (aside from a small amount of guest apperances) comes in the form of the Main Flow collaboration "The Rain", which appeared on the weird "album" or compilation "Black August Revistied" and the song "Black August" which serves as the intro to remarkable effect. Both very good tracks, and especially the latter manages to do what Priest failed to do on the "Masada" LP - adapt hs flow to a more trending one at the time over some bouncey drums, yet the backdrop is as soulful as soulful can be and they talk about some real shit (especially Dont├ęs verse is particulary strong). Other highlights include the amazing collaboration with Nas on "Crime Cardinals" (the original "The Saints" with an even stronger KP verse - "the day Escobar die it snowed cocaine, so let's BLOW smoke"; the triumphant return of Shabaam Sahdeeq who joins forces with Priest and Hell Razah on the soothing, yet heartfelt "On The Way To The Top"; and of course the Just Blaze produced "Masada" outtake "Last Fall Of Solomon" which once again shows that few can construct rhymes as cinematic as Walter Reed.

If you're a fan of Killah Priest you owed it to yourself to listen to this, take my word for it - many of these songs are so good you realize that Priest must have had a hell of a hard time cutting down "The Offering" to its 16 tracks. Grab it from DatPiff below and TURN IT UP!!

1-01. "Black August"
1-02. "Stained Glass Freestyle 2" (Ft. Antonio Chance)
1-03. "Lost Generation" [Exclusive]
1-04. "Hood Nursery"
1-05. "The Hit" [Exclusive]
1-06. "The Rain" (Ft. Main Flow)
1-07. "Crime Cardinals" (Ft. Nas)
1-08. "Behind The Stained Glass"
1-09. "Felony Fights" (Ft. Noname Zodiak)
1-10. "The Abyssinian Sword" [Exclusive]
1-11. "Give It More" (Ft. Canibus) [Exclusive]
1-12. "Stained Glass Freestyle #1"
1-13. "Wolf In Sheep's Clothing" (Ft. Antonio Chance)

2-01. "Intro Skit Freestyle"
2-02. "The Letter 1, 2 and 3" (Freestyle)
2-03. "Touch It Freestyle"
2-04. "Uprising" [Exclusive]
2-05. "Things We Share"
2-06. "Blessed Are Those" [Original Y-Kim Mix]
2-07. "On The Way to the Top" (Ft. Hell Razah & Shabaam Sahdeeq)
2-08. "Breathe"
2-09. "Get Lifted"
2-10. "Excalibur"
2-11. "Bread Of Life"
2-12. "Fall Of Solomon"
2-13. "5 Boroughs" (Ft. Redman, Prodigy & Cam'ron)
2-14. "Outro"