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Saturday, March 24, 2018

PRODIGY - "THE REAL H.N.I.C. Mixtape (Vol. 1)" [2000]

I and The Lost Tapes was missing in action when the devastating news of Prodigy's passing hit us all like an atom bomb. He was a guy that did so much for Hip Hop, always spoke his mind, but always with the respect he estimated his opponent to be deserving of and being a smart man he understood that there was so much more to life than petty hood beef that never gets anywhere constuctive for anyone. In the end it wasn't a violent confrontation by some disgruntled low-life thinking he owed them something (often despite helping them, giving handouts and power up to a point). But are we not all men, P wasn't put here to hold your hand through your careers, the fact that he gave you a helping hand at all speaks volumes of his character. Y'all kow who I'm talking about, but fuck them, this isn't about them, 

Together with his rhyme and production patner in Havoc they created 3 classics or at least damn near classis for Loud Recods before P's health and writer's block got the better of him for a while, all while the Hip Hip landscape was shaping up differently around them. But those three albums right tere, "The Infamous....", "Helll On Earth" and "Murda Muzik" will go down in history as some of the best music the '90s had to offer both musically and lyrically. At this time they were clearly on a roll, and despite the unreleased "Murda Muzik: The Movie" being pretty damn unwatchable they did record an unreleased soundtrack for the album - granted some of the songs found other outlets later, some of them being on this very mixtape although some are only snippets to get you hyped for the actual album with WHOO KID quipping "COMING ON INFAMOUS RECORDS THAT MURDA MUZIK: THE SOUNDTRACK". Well I'm am going to bring as complete Murda Muzik Soundtrack album that is humanly possible so stay tuned for that.

But one man doesn't make Mobb Deep, but one man sure as hell made "H.N.I.C." which is in fact a better album than later Mobb Deep albums like "Infamy", "Blood Money" and "Amerika's Nightmare" (I did dig the last joint they put out as a team though). Just titling his solo "Head Nigga in Charge" was bold as hell, but his rhymes, songs, bars and personal statements and struggles on there sure as hell backed it up. You got "You Can Never Feel My Pain" (perhap the realest shit 'P' ever wrote), you got "Keep It Thoro", you had "Three", you had "Veteran's Memorial", the "Trials and Tribulations", the obligatory Mobb Deep cuts. Yes, this was everything a Mobb Deep head was wanting to hear at the time but from Prodigy's side of the spectrum and over the years it has only grown in status.

But this is not only a little mini-review of "H.N.I.C." but also a thank you to Albert Johnson for helping to shape Hip Hop as a whole and as such my own adolenscene. This is also about the official DJ Whoo Kid mixtape "H.N.I.C. Mixtape Part One" that dopped in 2000. To my knolwedge there was never a second part ever made but this mx is dope enough to rewind at least a couple of times. I've noticed that there's been floaing around a lot of fake mixtapes with this title on YouTube, basically Prodigy compilation of YT users favorite tracks. But this is the real deal. As DJ Whoo Kid shouts out "This is the best of P" several times, the tape had a few objectives to lay out. Showcase Prodigy as one of the best emcees out there and one who could do it on the solo tip, but also to promote Infamous Records with the upcoming Bars-n-Hooks (why do you think Bars N Hooks get the 5 minute opener),and the "Murda Musik: The Soundtrack" and film. There's some really sick exclusives here so press play and enjoy.

Matter of fact I was going to upload and do the Mp3 thing, but thanks to DJ Whoo Kid himself he has uploaded it to his AudioMack account. Last but not least: Rest in power Albert Johnson a.k.a. Prodigy, you were one of the truly greats and we won't let you be forgotten! 

Friday, March 23, 2018

[Video] CZARFACE / MF DOOM - ""Bomb Thrown" + Natuical Depth"

For those not in the know Czarface is a slew of concept records about this superhero named Czarface (not CESAR-FACE, but TSARFACE) that is portrayed in rhyme form by Inspectah Deck and Esoteric over 7L production. The fist time the trio connected was on 7L & Esoteric's very first EP, "Speaking Real Words" where Deck absolutely murdered the title track that also boosted perhaps 7L's finest production to date... still. Kicking the concept off in late 2013 with about an album a year since then, some love it and some feel its just another gimmick. Personally I'm torn but I nontheless check for them.

Suprisingly It was recently released that their 2018 project would be a little different as they have invited fellow masked villain MF DOOM for an hopefully epic showdow on wax. While it's kind of bizarre we get this LP before the long awaited DOOMStarks album we are hardly in a position to complain. Two singles of the project have been relesaed, one stictly audio and one an animated high quality video.

The tracks are called "Nautical Depth"and "Bomb Thrown" respectively. I get the feeling that DOOM will only appear as a guest emcee on here which is Ok and all but I would really love to hear Deck amd DOOM over original Metal Fingrz herbs over 7L's geneic beats any time of the day. Can't win them all i guess! Album drops May 30 (if I'm only buying ons album that day it's U-GOD's).

[Demo] D.MD. Posse - "I Gets Down For My Crown"

U-God's memoir "RAW" is filled wiith intriguing moments of anecdotes both for those who's a hardcore Wu-Tang fan and for sociologists want to know more about wht it was like growing up in the drug infested buildings of New York for a young black man with not much going for him. "RAW" has plenty of both and as it's the first true biogrphy of  a Wu-Tang Clan founer it holds a littl exttra weight; I guess you could call RZA's "Tao Of Wu" at least in part an autobiography but it's so much more (and of coure also comes highly recommended).

One of the illest annecdotes of the book is the real semi-professional recording of the first Wreck/D.M.D. Posse cut (Method Man, U-God, Inspectah Deck and Prince Rakeem on the production tip). Luckily for us tracks like this, "16th Chamber" and "Cuttin' Headz" managed to survive at a relative pristine quality "RZA's home studio was our first studio, and that four-track was our first equipment ... With RZA's four track - we keep making bangers [and at the end of the night] we leave his place with a tape of what we done", U-God remembers. "One night while working on our first Wreck posse cut, "I Get Down For My Crown", - Meth wrote a verse which a portion from would later be used for one of Ghost's biggest hits "CherChez La Ghost"".

Once Meth laid down his verse, I went into my rhyme book and pur down my verse, and then Deck came behind us and laid the last verse. RZA evem sampled the flushing toilet and sound effects to the joint as well. Back then we would dub them off for the other brothers in the hood" ... next thing we know everyvody in the 'jects had "I Get Diwn For My Crown"," He's keep talking about a few other songs he dd, jut him, Meth and Deck with RZA on tthe boards. specifically mentioning "Let Me Put My To´Two Cemts" that seems to have been dubbed on cassette for a lot of people as well so hopefully we will get a leak of that one day.

U-GOD Is on a roll buiding up to "VENOM" (30/3)

The month of Match 2017 is U-God month, one of the dopest voices in Hip Hop and one of the realest emcees to touch a microphone on really succesful level is HUNGRY as hell. If you haven't read his book "RAW" (Faber and Faber) yet be sure to do that ASAP before you get the "Venom" album which drops on March 30 because you will understand why he's so hungry to make this a coherrent album. And while "Golden Arms Redemption", ""Dopium" and "Keynote Speaker" all had their moments they sure as hell wasn't coherrent albums that you could bump front-to-back. Check out the snaky RZA diss around the 1 minute mark.

"DOPIUM" looks a lot more promising since the majority of the album, more than half is produced by DJ Homocide and Jose Reynoso, who fans know better as Choco and has been around the Wu-Tang Clan since 1993 although he originally come from a House movement, In fact it was he who helped RZA find all those dusty drum samples for the early Wu-Tang albums through the drum samples LP:s he put out together with Carlos Bess. As a hip-hop producer he produced "Bob N' I" for RZA, "Digital Warfare" for RZA, GZA's "0% Finance". Not any of my favorites from those repsective albums to say the least, but U-God has put him together with his longtime producer DJ Homocide who has produced a lot of bangers on the low all hw way back to U-God's first solo outing. I mean "Mr. Xcitement" was shit but who can deny that THAT song was anything but a monster? Oh and the two have produce before as a unit on his last album - on these two joints ("Skyscaper") and ("Stars"). I fuck with that.

This is getting long winded what I'm trying to say that the production which has been Uey's achilles heel seems to be in find hands. Not only are Choco and DJ Homocide co-producing 7 of the records, but we get one joint each for Lord Finesse and one from Large Professor. DJ Green Lantern is lacing two jonts, including the immaculte single "Epicenter" so no need to worry there. So that leaves two joints, one by Powers Pleasant of Pro Era fame who has worked with Joey Bada$$ and Capiral Steez, and Ill Tall who sets off the entire album, and everyone knows that you don't set off your album with one of the weaker tracks of the album. This is reassuring and with the singles Babygrande and Uey has given us I have a feeling this will be U-God's best album yet. The album that "Dopium" was supposed to be if it hadn't been watered dwn with weak ass tracks like "Hips", that tea joint, the painful Dubstep remix, the Jim Jones track, you get it. Not to mention that Scotty Wotty The Jackpot, real Wu heads not, get two fetures - one which might actually be a solo joint!

1. “Exordium” (Produced by ILL TAL)
2. “Unstoppable” (Produced by Powers Pleasant)
3. “Epicenter” featuring Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Scotty Wotty (Produced by Green Lantern)
4. “Bit Da Dust” (Produced by DJ Homicide and Jose Reynoso)
5. “Elegance” f/ Nomdiq (Produced by Green Lantern)
6. “Climate” (Produced by Jose Reynoso)
7. “Venom” (Produced by DJ Homicide and Jose Reynoso)
8. “Felon” (Produced by Large Professor)
9. “Legacy” (Produced by DJ Homicide and Jose Reynoso)
10. “Whole World Watchin’” (Produced by Lord Finess & he Bossmen)
11. “XXX” featuring Method Man (Produced by DJ Homicide)
12. “Jackpot” featuring Scotty Wotty

(Produced by DJ Homicide and Jose Reynoso)
13. “Wisdom” (Produced by Jose Reynoso)

EMINEM Ft. Kelhani - "Nowhere Fast" [Extended Remis]

It's certainlty a given that undeground Hip Hop heads HATE Eminem these days and especially his latest album "Revival". It's far from a perfect album but it's  hell of a lot more interesting than many of thees fake ass thugs talking about destroying the black community that's so prominent in the mainstream rap game rigth now. In 2016-2018 its solely little kids with little to no talent that's trying to build Soundcloud and Wold Star fame by snitching on themeselves on how much stupid shit they have done. It' a sad evolution of what was once something noble. Next time I'm naming names because it's not only Soundcloud rappers doing this bufoonery.

But enough of that jive for now, So here we got the second remix/alternative mix of a "Revival" single, complete with new Em verses. The first was of course the "Cloraseptic" Remix which proved to anybody and their grandmother that M&M can still obliterate anybody whn provoke him.  This track here. "Nowhere Fast" with singer Kelhani was one of the joints I rocked with immedatly as The Hit-Boy/Rock Mafia production and the anthem like chorus works even better in this version where Em gets more in the politicl zone by attacking Charlton Heton and his cold dead hands and his NRA movement that is constantly growing. Who would have thought Eminem would've become a pollitical rapper of this caliber when they heard his three first slabums (pro-"Mosh") although there's alsways been political barbs and bars in there? Check out and let me know what you think. Yay or nay?

[Official Video} AMP LIVE - "Wheel Of Fortune"

AMP Live is the new project by rhyme monster Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Amp Live who is the official producer of legendary underground West Coast crew Zion I. He hasn't really been known to venture to far awayh from his Zion I brethren previously, but he has laced tracks for Goapele, The Grouch & Eligh and Latryx and dropped a couple of EP:s by himself. Del on the other hand, has pretty much collaborated with everyone and their mama. This is a win/win situation and when it drops the Hip Hop world might stop for a good 30 minutes.

The "Wheels Of Fortune" video above is both fun and dope (a breath of fraish air in today hip hop's climte to say the least). "Gate 13" as it's called drop on April 20 so stay tuned for at least one more single before the album dops. Taking it back to the old school with this one!

[Review] MILES DAVIS - "The Bootleg Series Vol. 6"

Alright, I'm about to mix it up a little for this post as Sony/Columbia is honoring perhaps the greatest artist of any field of music with a new posthumous release today. I'm talking about Miles Davis, the man with the horn, the man who saw jazz as a dirty word and came to embrace funk, soul, rock and Hip Hop while releasing classics upon classics with some of the best players of any era (people like Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Keith Jarrett, Easy Mo Bee, Mike Henderson, Prince, Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, Gil Evans, and the list goes on and on). The man really needs no introduction but since this is a Hip Hop site I don't blame you if you only really know him by his name and through his sampled loops on classics by Gang Starr, J Dilla, Mobb Deep, Biggie, The Crooklyn Dodgers, Prodigy, OutKast, DJ Shadow  and so many more. Also check out that recent remix album Robert Glasper put together building on Miles legacy a while back, its called "Everything's Beautiful" and it is indeed beautiful.

The release we're discussing today however is the latest entry in Columbia/Legacy's Miles' "Bootleg Series", so named because they have sorted out all the necessary red tape and restored and remastered many of the legendary concerts that was previously only available as half-assed bootlegs. This is a good thing as it's not only gives us the music as it was supposed to be heard (Ok, it was obviously meant to be heard LIVE but as far as technology goes this is the best experience of this msusic imaginable), but also because it helps the Miles Davis Foundation set up by his son, sister and nephew which will insure more future projects. And what's crazy about Miles music, at least for me, it's that no matter what era, or what year, every concert recording was a brand new "album" when you heard it in your headphones. So despite often featuring the same tracklist they came off as something totally new and fresh as innovationan and improvisation was the name of the game. Something I always compare to Hip Hop's show and prove freestyle movement. And no I'm not talking about blowns like Omelly though perhaps he's more of a comedy artist? For "Bootleg Series Vol. 6: The Final Tour" they have finally gone back to the European broadcast vaults to freshen up three full concerts defining a watershed moment not in just in the career of Miles Davis but also in the equally important John Coltrane's musical direction (and if you haven't seen the recent Coltrane documentary "Chasing Trane", cop the Blu Ray or head over to Netflix).

Spread out over four discs these three concerts represents about twenty European concerts in the spring of 1960, which was originally to have featured vibist Buddy Montgomery, making the group a sextet - unfortunately his fear of flying got the better of him. And while it would have been interesting to have an additional voice in there I feer that it would take away some of the magic of this being  the last time Miles Davis and John Coltrane shared a stage together after a fruitful 7 year partnership. About 6 more of these tour concerts can be found on bootlegs with varied quality buy I would venture out to say that both from a sonic perspective and a playing perspective Columbia/Legacy made a wise choice in keeping especially the legendary Paris and Stockholm concerts and added the Copenhagen show as a bonus).

What's so striking here is that Coltrane, the everlasting musical seaker, was clearly ready to break off and start his own group and go full-on solo. Miles D. had to make some bending to even get Coltrane to hit the plane with the quintet, and lets thank our lucky stars he did. He had in fact already recorded and just released his firstt solo masterpiece "Giant Steps" in the US but the European "high society people" had at its very hight heard "Kind Of Blue" (19599 but more likely "Round About Midnight" or "Milestones" (1957/1958) so they sure as hell wasn't expecting what they got those night and especially on the first night, The Paris concert spread over CD1 and CD2, minds were certainly blown that night with some of the jazz press calling the sound of the future wile others demanding their money back. Coltrane, always the searcher would find a similiar situation when hooking up with Impulse! Records and Eric Dolphy for The Village Vanguard sets a year or so later. The thing is that 'Trane's music was becoming quite different from Miles' blueprint here, which was highly evolved Be Bop with the musicians playing beautifully but with force and commitment but it was also evolving and creating Modal Jazz, which did away with chord changes and relied on scales and setting a mood that let the player go for almost as long a he likes.

So a tune like the standard "Bye Bye Blackbird" will start familarily enough with the classic piano introduction by Kelly, before Miles introduces the theme and builds a modal solo of about 4 minutes over Kelly's accompaning and Jimmy Cobbs and Paul Chambers tandem rhythmicl excellence. Then as Miles' is lowering his horn 'Trane takes the stand and blasts away into the stratosphere with an absolutely astounding 8 minute solo that mixes pure melodic beauty, with atonal shrieks, sheets of sound and by and large true  experimenting and what some would even call rehearsing on the bandstand by the most ardent naysayers. But isn't this a part of what daring live jazz should be? Fuck playing it safe. And this discrepancy between Miles smoother, beautiful, non agressive sound, with an saxophonist that's doing the exact opposite is not a discrepancy - it's pure balance, it's Yin & Yang. This is the  way he worked with all of his best long-time saxophonists from Wayne Shorter to Dave Liebman to Kenny Garrett and before that he picked it up from Charlie Parker, The Byrd, himself. 

The three concerts in question in this beautiful package might actually be as good an introduction to the music of Miles Davis to latecomers as any although I suspect for us Hip Hop heads something like "On The Coner", In A Silent Way" or "Live-Evil" might  probably a better bet. But it's 5/5 music no question, everyone involved play as through telepathy. The rhythm section was so good that they broke off within a year and became a highly sought-out piano trio called The Wynton Kelly trio, releasing classic albums with Wes Montomety in '65. It's also a very important historical moment for black music. 

The nights are presented in chronological order and the first two discs are dedicated to the infamous May 22 concerts in Paris' Olympia Theatre. It's amazing now to think that about half of the audience is cheering and applauding Coltrane and the other half is catcalling and strongly disapprove - metaphorically telling the band to "turn off that racket!". Man I bet those guys felt like suckers some years down the line, but I can't really blame them. Change in a beloved musician, or even n hero, can be a tough thing to swallow and something that takes patience and repeated listens to try to understand. And Miles Davis himself would be in a similiar shitstorm (just like Bob Dylan) when he started incorporating funk rhythms, loosing the black suits,  embracing electronic instruments like multiple keyboards and the use of both electric and stand-up bass on what we now consider classics like "Bitches Brew" and "On The Corner"´. I hope I am not too out of line in posting this review, as I know I haven't been posting much, but this is my site after all and this is without a doubt have been one of my most anticipated records of the year. Add to that that "The Bootleg Series" in the Miles Davis legacy CD:s always look wonderful and is really well thought out, no expenses spared. And the Paris set is also being released on a 2xLP set while the Tivoli, Copenhagen drops on a limited single EP.- From this original Bootlegs The Copenhagen concert is without he best restoreed and the rarest in the set so is in a way th the gem of the set. As far as straight audacity and sound quality the Paris and Stockolm concerts is the crown jewels they been released in great quality by Parus NPR and Swden's SR broadcast. But two  hours and 40 minutes of the best this music has ever been heard is really something. Don't take my word for it, and even if you see that many of the tracks appear a couple of times throughout he rracklis don't be discoruged, because this is really three excluziv comcerts that not even this quintet could evey replicate The albm is available on Amazon for a resonable pirce but if you''re from the AI digital realm just type you head over to iTunes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

[Album] BISHOP NEHRU - "Elevators 1 & 2" (w. DOOM & Karytrananda)

I was a fan of Bishop Nehru's Mass Appeal released debut "NehruvianDOOM", a 10 track offering that saw the 19 year old New York emcee team up with the mythical MF DOOM to create the soundscape for the entire project. Now he is back with an equally impressive feature as he releases "Elevators 1 & 2". As the title implies its one project but with two distinctinctive part, labeled as Act 1: Ascension. This part is entirely produced by the always interesting Karytrananda. Act II is entitled Free Falling and sees the young emcee team up with MF DOOM again for all the songs in this section. Very creative, very interesting, and very worthy of your time so check it out below.

[EP] Sean Price / Illa Ghee - "Metal Detectors"

We've lost way too many rhyming legends the past couple of years and we see the reminders now and again. Luckily this time its at least a positive reminder, an unreleased EP that Sean Price worked on shortly before his death that let us remember how incredibly dope he ALWAYS was on any project. The man had an incredible work ethic, after his passing we quickly got "Impreius Rex" which shitted on most artists entire output and there are rumoured finished products with Lil' Fame and 4th Disciple, respectively. He also worked a lot with Illa Ghee during his last few years and they were actually working on put out an EP that they were more or less able to complete before Sean was taken from us. The project is called "Metal Detectors" and over 8 songs it features the duo going back and forth over sold production and guest spots and cameos from Michael Rapapaport, Royal Flush and Rim. Check it out below, stream and then support @ iTunes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

[Comp] CRAIG MACK - "That '94/'95 Bad Boy In Ya Ear"

It's always sort of shameful to give artists their due props and their roses to smell only after they passed away. But in the case with Craig Mack there's no question that he put Bad Boy Records on the map with Sean Puffy Coombs and The Notorious B.I.G. in 1994/1995 and aside from an ill-fated comback album with Eric B. in '97 he laregely dropped out of the public eye. So we love Craig Mack mostly because of those records he laid down for Bad Boy back in its heyday.

It's pretty crazy looking through the discographies of BIG and Mack and see how right from jump the spotlight was always on BIG. Of course Biggie was B.I.G. but you sure get the feeling they kind of did Mack dirty, like that hilarious but sad clip of Puffy straight up lying to MTV cameras about having a new Craig Mack album being recorded and set for release in January - something that was obviously news to Mack. As a rightous man (listen to a song like "When God Comes", perhaps my personal favorite in all of Craig's catalouge) I don't think the industry politiciking on the side was worth it for him.

Anywyay it's been at least a year since I came up with a decent comp and as O-ren Ishii would say "NOW IS THE FUCKING TIME". All songs on this is tracks that was recorded during Mack's Bad Boy stint either as a B-side to one of the singles, a remix by The Hitmen, a guest apperance, a freestyle session or a soundtrack joint. Pretty short but sweet, so enjoy and as always TURN IT UP!!!

01. Mary J. Blige Ft. Craig Mack - "You Don't Have to Worry" [Eddie F remix]
While Mary J. was certainly one of Puff Daddy's artists who he helped managed and form she was a holdover from his Uptown days as she was never never really signed officially to Bad Boy. In 1992 she released her slamming debut album "What's The 411?" that Puff helped produce and featured a heavy dose of Mary's incredible soul mixed with a hip hop sensibility by inviting prodcers and emcees to appear in the studio such as Busta Rhymes. Grand Puba, Mack, Kid Capri as well as cameos by royalty like CL Smooth, DJ Red Alert, etc. Mary blew up with her debut so it was a smart business move of Puff to put Craig Mack on the remix to the already loved "You Don't Have To Worry", remixed to bring out the Hip Hop sound by Mt. Vernon's Eddie F., the "leader" of The Untouchables production crew that around this time also included DJ Pete Rock. Solid track for sure!

02. Craig Mack - "Flava in Ya Ear" [Nashmack Remix]
A darker, more brooding remix from the 12" single that while not being as dope as the original (really what is?) laced by Nashiem Myrick - who's always been my #1 Hitmen a long with his partner in crime Carlos Broady, The bass is straight up nasty and the ocassional guitar breakdown and new ad-libs makes this a must hear for Craig's Bad Boys era fans.

03. Craig Mack - "Shinika"
This track appeared on an early sample tape for "Project: Funk Da World" but must have been decided to be cut loose sometime between then and release date. Luckily this short but sweet jam wasn't lost to time as Craig instead decided to put it on various versions of the "Flava in ya Ear" single (and there was a lot of them). Produced by Kenyon Smith and Craig Mack himself this is classic Mack that could easily have fitted on the LP.

04. Craig Mack - "Get Down" [Q-Tip Remix]
This will forever go down in Hip Hop history as one of the illest remixes of all time, in such company as Pete Rock's "Represent the Real Hip Hop" for Das EFX and the Bad Boy remix of "You're All I Need" by Method Mna and Mary J. While Easy Mo Bee's original was a solid as hell album track, The Abstract incorporates everything that made him one of the sickest '90s Hip Hop producer the world ever saw. The brooding bass incorporates a bit of mystery, the horns accellerates it, the turntable work is immaculate and the jazz flavor of the synthesizers/electric piano melody really brought it all home. And both Q-Tip and Craig Mack were damn abstract rappers so hearing them together here is sure as hell a joy.

05. Craig Mack / The Notorious B.I:G. - "Let Me Get Down"
Bringing out and marketing two Hip Hop artists on your label during roughly the same time it shoud be a no brainer to have the two artists appear on each other's album. As has been documented before Mack resented the favoritism that Puffy showed B.I.G. and judging from interview clips with the deceased legend he didn't have much charisma with Mack to begin with. So when their respective albums were relased within a week of each other, not one collaboration was to be found (there was of course the "Flava in Ya Ear" remix featuring Biggie but they more or less sounded like they were going for each other's throats on there). Luckily for we Hip Hop historian buffs Puffy actullly managed to get the duo in the studio to organize a recording one time. Its a rough typical '90s boom bap joint called "Let Me Get Down", possibly concocted by Easy Mo Bee, and I do like how their voices compliment each other. Was this an early demo version of "Let Me Get Down" or not? Was it recorded with "Ready to Die" or "Project..." in mind. Who knows? Lets just be thankful that this piece of Hip Hop history exits.

06. Craig Mack & Notorious B.I.G. - Tim Westwood Freestyle
Following up that demo joint above, in further promoting the launch of Bad Boys and the just released album the two emcees and Puffy stopped by Tim Westood's radio show on August 19, '94 to spit some heat for the UK listeners. Its a historical moment where Biggie incorpoartes lines from joints like "The Points", "Think BIG" and "Oh My Lord"). The entire session is 18 minutes. Listening to this it's quite clear that there was no dark conspiracy pushing Mack out of the limelight to begin with, BIGGIE was just one of a kind. The compilation version is 5 minutes in length but I strongly suggest you check out the entire thing over @ Youtube thanks to user Masar TV for allowing us all to hear this legendary Hip Hop moment... and oh yeah, TURN IT UP!!!

07. Craig Mack - Do You Have What It Takes?

If you like me and my crew up in the early-to-mid-'90s then I'm willing to bet my copy of "Project Funk Da World" that you til' this day have very fond memories of that excellent 8 bit beat 'em up game. I can assure you that a lot fewer of us have any redeeming memories of the 1994 movie cash in with Jean Clause Van-Damme and Raol Julia. However as was often the case in the mid-'90s suited boardmeeting fucks had come to the realization that kids will be fooled into thinking the film is cool if it is "endorsed" by "hip", talented emcees and singers. Enter 1994:s "The Street Figher" sondtrack which in many ways is actually better than most. Not did it only fetures this rock solid Mack jam, but one of the extremely few Nas' solo joints recorded around the time of "Illmatic" to not make the LP. Other highlights include LL CoolJ's "Life is..." and one of the fist joints by the now disbanded supergroup that included Xzibit, Ras Kass and Saafir. Well worth tracking down despite the movie.

08. Boyz II Men - "Vibin' (New Flava 2) w. Craig Mack, Method Man, Treach & Busta Rhymes)'
Another beautiful thing we miss from the '90s is the rugged posse cut and the R&B / hardcore Hip Hop collaborations that didn't sound like label intervenions at all. This little known track is actually one of my favorite posse cuts of the era. You got a pounding, pretty hard beat with guitar stabs and scratches but at the same time it's matched well with a beutiful melodic jazz sampes that does both the emcees and Boyz II Men a favor. The song appeared originaly on a "rare" Boyz II Men single for "I Remember" but shorlty after was given the wide relesase it deservered on their official album collection "The Remix Collection" - this particular version was  a remixed version by Tim & Pop of the groups original work. What might be less known is that there's even a full-length video made for this (see above).

09. Sista - "It's Alright" (Ft. Craig Mack)
Now this joint is interesting from several stanpoints. If you don't know your Hip Hop history you might have gotten the impression that Missy Elliot more or less was an overnight sensation. So was not the case at all. Just like Craig's solo cut "Do You Got What It Takes" this appeared both as a single and on a soundtrack. It was all blessed with two equally dope version. One produced by DJ Evil Dee and the remix handled by Fredwreck who was then pretty mcuch an unkown up-and-comer but his seamless blending of gritty New York style hip hop and the more laid back L.A. cultural music has by now made him a household name and one of the go to guys for peeps like Snoop Dogg, Soul Assassins and even Die Antword. I'm including both versions here so you can make up your own mind.

10. Brownstone Ft. Craig Mack - If You Love Me [Street Vibe Version]
This is strictly for completists, you might even want to skip this one after Craig's verse in my opinion. It's one of those dussin songs by all those dussin R&B-bands that popped up in the mid-'90s and wanted to be a little too  street in their image. Produed by Dave Hall.

11. Craig Mack, Notorious BIG, Biz Markie, Mic Geronimo, Busta Rhymes & Rampage - Club Free '95

This is a crazy Club Freestyle that should have any head go absolutely crazy if you're not familiar with it. DJ Clue and Ike Love is the host for the night, a New York club in 1995, with all the emcees being hyped as hell. Biggie absoltutely murders this and has loads of sick lines I never heard him use elsewhere.

12. Craig Mack Ft. Notorious BIG, LL Cool J, Rampage, Busta Rhymes - Flava in Ya Ear
Of course we must include this. One of the best posse cuts of all time, hell maybe one of the best hip Hop tracks of all time nnd they ALL WENT IN!

13. Sista Ft. Craig Mack - "It's Alight" [Fredwreck Remix] [*]
The remix to the aforementioned track. Just one more thing about the group Sista. They were a quartet of singers in the early '90s that released a full-length in 1993 - before that they were known by Fayze. Their one and only album, 1993 "4 All Da Sistas in the World" was mainly produced by a certain Timothy Mossley (soon to be known as Timbaland). So Missy Elliot, who then went by Sista, was the emcee of the crew before she decided to go for dolo. Like  I said above this is the same joint remixed by Fredwreck, a very early placement for him.

14. Craig Mack - "Flava in Ya Ear" [Easy Mo Be Club Mix] [*]
Another remix culled from the original 12", keeping the main parts intact but adding some new depths as well. Easy Mo Bee was a monster back then!

CRAIG MACK - "The Bad Boy Flavor in Ya Ear..."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

[Album] CRAIG MACK - "The Mack World Sessions"

This album compilation passed a lot of heads without further notice when Craig Mack self-released it on his own digital label in 2017. To tell you the truth I wasn't even aware of this release when it dropped amd only came across due to his untimely passing. However looking through the tracklist I see that this is not a newly recorded joint but rather a collection of all the rare 12" singles and their B-sides he dropped in gearing up for his third album which would probably find its way to stores between 2000 and 2005. After Bad Boy cut him off after giving them their first grammy nominated and platinum selling he found a new home on StreetLife Records for his sophomore, and pretty lackluster, '97 joint "Operation: Get Down". Despite being overseen by Eric B. and featuring production by Ty Fyffe, Al West and Johnny "J" the LP flopped hard.

So it's not suprising that Craig Mack decided to leave all the glamor, glitz, A&R:s and major labels behind to focus on his third album. Unfortunately it doens't seem to have been completed, but through his work with proucers like K-DEF, The 45 King, Self, Hot Runner, Minnesota and J-Force. Though many of these songs appeared on rare White Label 12"s, the album never manifested.  Until last year that is - Craig Mack himself released the majority of these songs, sequenced as a proper album and given the title "The Mack World Sessions". This is interesting as many of the WLB singles was released under umder a "MackWorld" label, created especially for these releases. Perhaps Craig knew he had little time left and wanted to get the music he once worked hard for out there for the people to soak in. Enjoy and Rest in peace to a legend that was quickly forgotten.

Friday, March 16, 2018

[Audiobook] U-God is RAW

As most of you probably know U-God of Wu-Tang Clan has just released his memoir, entitled "RAW" on Picador USA (Faber & Faber for the UK/Europe market) and as this is the first true biography of one of the original members of Wu-Tang Clan people should flock to the stores or online places to pick this up. I received the hardcopy US version in the mail today and it looks very professional and from what I heard it's an exceptional book so I really think you should "Hurry up and buy". Filled with anecdotes, the story behind the workings of the Clan and an autobiography of Lamont Hawkinx from when he was young to today. This is a must have for any Wu fan and there's even an audiobook read by Uey himself on there. Here's an audio exceprt to have your mouth watering: Check the snippet below and order the book from your usual bookstore: You can book from Amazon amogst other retailers.


NPR has recently become a brand to count on when it comes to releasing quality, exclusive Hip Hop. Not only are they often getting the rights to preview albums in full a week ahead of release but their Tiny Desk Concerts that drop every Friday or so is ust marvellous. Check out this entry from February 26 where they invited Big Daddy Kane for a set in that tiny office. The legend rips through classics like "Smooth Operator"; "Raw" and "Ain't No Half Steppin"'. And as usual he does it flawlessley as far as flow is pertained. Backed up by musicians Anthony Hardy, Matt Lambert, Benjamin Geils, Judon Nelson and John Williams this is one you don't want to miss out on.

And on top of that, in case you missed it, DJ Premier (amongst many others) swung back the small "studio" to deliever an absolutely mindblowing set using his live band that he is currently working with (The Badder Band). With live instruments like trumpet, trombone, electric bass, live drums and turntables these Preemo classics got a fresh interprettion. This might very well be my favorite out of the NPR Tiny Dish Concerts so be sure to prees play and play it LOUD. "Da Bichez" is out of htis world.

NAS & The National Symphony Orchestra - "Illmatic"

This premiered a while ago but I haven't had the time to post this yet, but let me tell you that you're doing yourself a huge disservice if you sleep on this. NAS was invited to be a part of the PBS' show "Great Concerts" back in 2014 - a program/concert series that link up legendary artists from different genres to perform their masterwork backed up by a full sympony orchestra, in this case the National Symphony Orchestra usually heard at the Kennedy Center. PBS sponsors the concert and also broadcasts it and for this installment they got what I believe is the first Hip Hop artist to be a part of the program - and of course it was Nasty Nas and his delivery of the timeles "Illmatic" album. Sometimes a full-orchestra and the heat of the moment sucks away all of the magic that made the original gritty piece what it was - not so here. Interspersed with small interview segments and vocal clips between most of the songs the acutal music proves why "Illmatic" has stood the test of time and should be considered by everyone as just as important as albums like Sly & The Famiily Stones' "There's A Riot Going On", Beatles' "Revolver", "OK Computer" by Radiohead, "It Takes A Nation..." by Public Enemy, and David Bowie's "Low" to name a few.

Here Nas, dapperly suited, standing in front of a huge orchestra, also backed up by what's more aking to a jazz quartet and a DJ, put further notice that he still is the greatest and that his debut still holds up as Hip Hop's crowning achivement. Hearing a live rendition of the LP with a huge instrumental barrage is further proof of that. Be sure to watch this while It's still available. Unfortunately PBS will only let you watch it if you're in the US but luckily anonymous YouTube user LonnieMac has supplied the rest of us with a HQ rip of the entire 52 minutes set. Don't sleep, this is Hip Hop history in the making!


Although NPR had the exclusive rights to preview DJ Premier and Royce Da 5'9"'s new album in its entirety a week early its actual release date is today (2018-03-16) and can now be bought on both 2xLP or CD. Preemo and Royce Da 5'9" is somehwat of a match made in heaven and has constantly killed shit since back in 2001 when the team let loose of the underground classic "Boom" and the not so intriguing album cut "My Friend" (where Royce mistreated a slamming Preem beat by talking about his Johnson for four minutes). Since then Premier has appeared on the majority of Royce projects, often being behind the LP:s best tracks. It wasn't until the excellent Freestyle tape "The Bar Exam Vol. 1" and later "Street Hop" that you truly saw the immense potential a full collaboration between the two promised. "Street Hop" was marketed as a modern East Coast classic featuring 6 Preemo productions out of the 18 tracks featured on the  LP. For some reason when we finally got our hands on it, there were only 3 Preemo cuts left. And although they all were solidified it came off as a dissapointment. The reason we ended up with that trio is that one couldn't get past sample clearances and the other two had been lincensed to and issued on the Game Recordings label. The double-A side single featured the Preem/Royce bangers "Ding!" and "Hit' Em Up" which really would've worked wonders in making "Street Hop" (which was not a bad album at all anyway) even more street.

So in 2014 finally these two legends got together to release a full-length album under the group name of "PRhyme". With only 9 songs it was a front-to-back LP that both rhymewise and with itsproduction took it straight back to the essence and was undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year. The idea was not to release any standard rap record but in challenging themeselves the entire project was created using samples from the extensive catalouge of Adrian Younge, kind of how Danger Mouse did it with The Beatles for "The White Album" - but with permission of course. Not to mention that they released a deluxe edition adding 4 additional songs once again killing Adrian Younge samples while inviting legends like Black Thought and Phonté. It certainly helped bring that East Coast boom bap back and was true to form one of the best New York albums of the year.

The question is if the duo can do it again - we know of course that when Premier and Royce get together they can make excellent Hip Hop music. But part of PRhyme is that it's a challenge; all beats and samples has to be chopped from a current artist. And since Arian Younge isn't super prolific compare to many of his peers, this time they have gone with Philly based Antman Wonder who shuns samples in his beat making process. What's cool about Antman Wonder is that he doesn't fuck with no fisherman price Casio type of beats but actually stay true to dusty boom bap type beats but completely without samples. Matter of fact, he even made an ode to "Reasonable Doubt" with Skyzooo that way a few years ago.

So just like for the first PRhyme, it's all about live instrumentation from the original sampled artist with Premier chopping it, adding his turntable work, his unmistakable drums and giving it that classic Gang Starr vibe, Still, Antman and Younge are two very different artists so the projects are really quite different and might be a question of taste. Personally I like both a lot but I'm a sucker for Younge's lush soulful soundscapes that volume 1 had to offer. But I was also much more familiar with the original samples there so it could very well be that I need some time to adjust. Save for Rapsody, Roc Marciano (and occassionally) Cee-Lo Green) the guests aren't really my cup of tea. Fucking Yelawolf? 2Chainz? Big K.R.I.T. (i know a lot of people dig him, but I just can't get into him).

Still, it's almost a 60 minutes project and Royce is killing it, Preemo is mostly killing it and I applaud the brothers for trying something different. I have a feeling this will stay in rotation a while and will mostly gets better on each spin so I'm positive on this release. While its no "Daily Operation", "Livin' Proof", "The Sun Rises in the East" or even "Tha Blaqprint" it's a must hear for any serious Hip Hop head so my rating is a somewhat weak 4/5. Don't sleep!

P.S. - A fun tidbit is that this is not the first time DJ Premier and Antman Wonder have worked together, back in 2013 when Skyzoo and Torae dropped their "Barrell Brothers" project, the best song ont the album ("The Aura") was actually produced by DJ Premier and Antman Wonder and it sounded marvellous.

You can pick up the album @ UGHH, HHV, iTunes or