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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

U-GOD Ft. Raekwon, Rebel INS & Scotty Wotty - "Epicenter"

Real Wu-Tang heads know that Scotty Wotty is a beast on the mic who at one point in time was supposed to hold down a part in the legendary Clan before drugs and life happened. Scotty and GZA even was the Staten Island rhyme teacher on the street corners so for U-God to not forget where he is coming from speaks volumes. "Epicenter" is like the fourth cameo from the older God and it's a monster record from March 30th BabyGrande release "Venom" so be sure to check that one out. And if you're like me having trouble waiting DJ Green Lantern, DJ Homocide and Baby U has released the second installment in the "Bring Bad God" mixtape series while we wait for the official album. March will also see the release of the official first autobiography of one of the nine generals, so be sure to support and pick up "RAW: My Journey into The Wu-Tang" as soon as that drop.

Monday, February 19, 2018

D.I.T.C. Still going STRONG

The entire legendary D.I.T.C. posse and the extended Diggin' in the Crates posse gang, has stayed busy from 1988 to 2018 to say the least. Bursting on to the scene with Jazzy Jay and his label, super DJ Diamond D and MC Rob in '88 when they made noise with the single "I'm Not Playin'" which was also the name of the Ultimate Force LP that unfortunately got shelved until 2007  While the album wasn't officially released for almost 10 years it sure as hell made waves and started the D.I.T.C. brand as Jazzy Jay's studio in The Bronx became the go-to-studio for the producers and emcees in the Bronx Area that Jazzy saw potential in. within a couple of years, the Diggin' in the Crates brand was established, building on Lord Finesse's classic "Funky Technician" and Showbiz & AG's "Soul Clap" EP. Diamond, 'Ness, Showbiz & AG was in a couple of years expanded to a full fledged crew including super-talented Big L and OC as well as, produced Bucwild and Fat Joe Da Gangsta. Not to mention semi-related affiliates like Party Arty, D-Flow, AG's brother Wally World, to name a f ew.

D.I.T.C. is probably the one crew that's on the level of Wu-Tang Clan in continuing to release solid projects amd through their 
The Shop you can still grab both free digital albums and physical  vinyl and CD:s. A couple of years back we got the excellent "Mugshot Music" trilogy from Showbiz & AG, "The Diam Piece" by Diamond D,  Lord Finesse's instrumental series and so much more. In other words few crews still goes as hard as the Diggin' in the Crates crew and much of the music is free so don't sleep. Only recently OC dropped the digital but limited "Same Moon, Same Sun" LP via the DITC Store. That project doesn't seem to be available anymore but don't cry over spilled milk because the lyrical phonemona that is Omar Credle has already struck gold again with yet another LP. This one, entitled "A New Dawn", which now be pre-ordered from the site so don't sleep on its February 23 release date. There's both vinyl pressings and CD:s  to grab so hurry up and buy!

As if this wasn't enough Showbiz is also releasinga new project through the site, this one called "A Room Therapy" and officially drops and should actually be out now (although the webstre says Pre-order). The CD goes for 12.99 while LP heads will be forced to pay the somewhat hefty sum of ... About the project it says that it features prodcution by Show, Motif Alumni (who has really shown and prove over the last ew years or so), OC, AG, Tashane Bars, Tashane (R.I.P.), A-Bless, Majestic Gage and Jay Nortey. At the moment there's actually a free digitalal download on the page so as they say "Hurry up and buy". The same goes for Show & AG's very overlooked 2017 project "Take It Back" EP which i still upp for free digital download, physical copies and if you want to show at least a little support you can get the LP version rather than the free EP version for only a minimum dollar. D.I.T.C. always move with the times while staying true to their roots!

Yo, and since it's Lord Finesse's birhtday today I think it's only right i'll hit you up with a gem or two of his that's might ne all that well know. Check it out:

Bringing back The Lost Tapes...with EMINEM's "Revivall"

I worked on this site for damn near 10 years and I did it all for the love, not making a single dime from it. Writing about Hip Hop and jazz music has always been a creative outlet for me and something i mostly really enjoy. The problem is that when you have built up a considerade fan base and flashes the "Daily Updates" tag on the front page which at times allowed for some stuff that shouldn't be on here. What I like is the interviews, the compilations, some of the news, the articles and reviews. So if I am reviving this it's doubtful that you'll see daily operations but at least a few posts a week - quality over quantity.

After a long hiatus Eminem finally dropped his tenth album "Revival" - most likely the thematic closer to the trilogy we didn't know we wanted that also includes "Relapse" and "Recovery"which in some ways where somewhat similiar albms. All looking at somewhat similiar themes but from totally different perspectives. Some of it honest while some of it presemted in a metaporical Slim Shady style The "Relapse" LP and especially the "Refill" bonus EP certainly prove Em was just as good as Phoarhae Monch with that insane wordplay while still being able to stick to some outlandish concepts. With this album he has trown in everything and the kitchen sink whch at times is a plus and at times is a big no-no that hurts the final product.

Even before the album dropped haters started coming out of the woodworsk to destroy the product and what it looked like on paper based on all thee popsingers and commercial soul/R&B artists they guessed would be what the project was supposed to be. Don't get me wrong, there's a few real golden turds on here but at 19 tracks and 79 minutes long it's clear that Em despearately needed someone to not play the Yes man and instead give him constructive critique. When "Revival" is good it's really GOOD but when it's weak it's really fucking WACK. Had you got all the weak shit out you would still have the strongest Eminem album in YEARS in my opinion. For example the first single "Walk On Water" was met with some critical ambivalnce but I personally' think's it's a great record where veryone involed (producer, main artist and Beyonce does a great job in conveying the fact that these artists is probably even more sensitivie than s in their feelings and insecurities. The pressure of deliivering a solid project is unbelievable for us listeners). It's somewhat a strange start, Rick Rubin's Grand Piano, Beyonce's strong voice with strong like amd no beat whatsoeverö It doest grow however, no doubt about it.

The next two tracks are among my favoritees without a dout ("Believe" and "Chloraseptic"), at it's Eminem's taking on both the musical and lyrical style ofwhat's currently popular and killing these youngings at their own game, Following this with the albums next two joints, "River" with Ed. Sheerah and the 6-7 minutes lyrical onslaught that is "Untouchable" clearly shows Em is still relevant. The latter is conceptwise a lyrical masterpiece, The song is thematically structured in to two parts; Part 1 is exploring the tense race relations in America from the POV of a white police officer that think he IS the law by default; workingin the hood and dwells on his scare for black people, and we all know in many of the cases it's fear that has have him act out as he does. In the second half of the song this is totally subverted as we get a similiar perspective on the why's and why not's of having to struggle to keep his life a float while trying to get away from the structured racism he sees everyday. The first part is more of a rock song, sampling a clasic Cheech & Chong song, while the longer and final part, produced by Mr. Porter and Emile Haynies who with non-hook Eminem bring that much needed Hip Hop revival back to great effect,

The next single is certainly different and was one of the songs that had people crossing their ams after the tracklist wa reveled, "River" is a clever break-up that is one of Eminem's pop songs, featuring Ed Seerah and produced by Emile Haynie. It took some time for me to embrace the song, but overall I feel that this is a strong Eminem single in 2018. Production is on point, Em's vocals are on point and has the possibillity of both gaining new fans and satisfy some of the older ones. The video that was just released added more to it as well... So that's 5 out of 5 records so far, but now think takes a turn for the worse, unfortunately.

Had the album been a solid 10 songs then this could have been a very focused album but as always lately Em is always trying to cram in like 20 tracks and have a little something for everyone. Big mistake! I for one relaly liked 3/4 of Rick Rubin's productions on "MMLP2", hearing him pay homage on "Bezerk" in a hit single in 2015 was tasteful and really worked. "Rhyme or Reason" with Em's fierce lyrical display attacking his dead beat dad over a funky sample of The Zombies' late '60s album "Time Of The Seasoon" was a brilliant move that worked all kinds of wonderfull.

Unortunatalely for the four tracks Rubin has produce here, two of them is among the weakest and most out of touches joints off the entire LP. Sampling Joan Etts' "I Love Rock and Roll" with a straight face brings back memories of Britney Spears and what's worse she did it more convincing. And lyrically it's a throway to say the least with wack ass lines like ""... The other Rick Rubin weird rock hybrid is only slightly better but still nothing you'd want to remember a couple of times after you heard it. Other weak songs in the middle section includes what should have been the trimphant policial track on the Trump Adiministaration, where he although we gets both Just Blaze and Alicia Keys on board things just fall flat. "Bad Husband" is better from a lyrical point of view as it shows a lot of maturing on the once blond-headed musical ligist as he pens an heartfelt and honest letter to the former Kim Mathers and what went wrong between them. Kind of like the last albums "Headlights" i hope that ths is the last we hear of them on an Em album. Production and guest hook byAlex Da Kid and the overall plodding vibe of this record and the similiar "Tragic Endings" Neither of whih just don't sound in any way shape or form as Eminem record.

Luckily then that most of the second half of the album is DOPE. Starting with "Framed", we get a straight up Slim Shady classic style record produced by the always reliael DJ Khalil. It's tounge in cheek song but at the same time it's also packs a lot of truth considering that there's been a few cases recently where Rap lyrics has been used as evidence in courts these days which is a scary evolution. Production, Slim's voice and flow, lyrics (i always laugh at the Steven Averry reference menas a lot in making this one of Em's best records in a long time). Could definitely have been a street single.

"Offended" doesn't reach the levels of "Rap God" but in a way it's like "Rap God Pt. II". Produced by a somewhat unfamiliar producer (in this case IllaDaProducer) who does a pretty slraightforward beat that puts Em's intense lyrical schemes at the front and center to great effect. Plenty of rewind heavy material here despite an boxious and actually straight up wack hook that would be buitter suited to a sandbox beef between a couple of 8 years old.

However the albums real highlights, and the three tracks that really puts this album from a good to a great one is the loosely put together  trilogy of "In Your Head", "Castle" and "Arose" which really closes the album on a GRAND NOTE. Over prodcution from Scram Jones, DJ Khalil and Rick Rubin all three songs he looks back at different tryng times in his life. Really going into the moment with a 100% seriousness that would make his therapist proud. "In Your Head" samples the classic Cranberries' song "Zombie" and is somewhat of the calmb before the storm but between "Castle" and "Arose" this is an absolute masterpiece. On the first song ("Castle") a moody piece strongly enhanced by Liz Ridrogiuez beautiful but subdued vocals and Khalil's excellent drum programming underscoring the accoustic guitars really draws you in a world of saddness. The thing is that Em apparantly wrote letters to Hailie growing up just to get things of his chest (i don't he ever gave them to him). So we get three verses where Em is rapping in first person to his firstborn, starting with 1996 and her newly being born whil working on "Infinite" and the flop that was. The final verse is a litterally being written just before he is taking his 2007 Methadone overdose, not being able to take everything that happened in his career, being burned out from drugs, and missing Proof. As we hear him fall onthe cemtn golv after the pill s kick in we are transformed toa more heavenly sounding production, "Arose", undoubtedly Rick Rubin's best contribution here and one that shold shut the naysayers up as its an extremely heartfelt song, greatly mixed, and the chemistry here between them is through the roof. It's of course based on the Bette Middler song "The Rose" and i heard one misinformed critic say that the reason the Middler sample (which runs throughout) was so low compared to Ems vocals here was a case of bad mixing. This is absolutely ridiciolous, the thing is that those vocals that most of us recoznize are only supposed to be heard in a faint ghostly vocal apparation and a ssuch it works very well. I don't want to reveal everything that happens in this song becaue there's some suprises and it's certainly one of the most well-thought out and execute careers in Eminems long line of clasics.

Last but not least, check out this fierece remix of "Chloraseptic" featuring 2 Chainz, Phresher where he totally obliberates haters and naysayers who took stabs at the album befrore even hearing it. Check out the link above, "Revival" is of corse available on CD; LP, on Deezer, on Spotify, etc.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

PEEDI CRAKK - "Good Life"

Good vibes from the North Philly spitter who brings a little summer anthem over a smooth instrumental conjured up by the elusive 4th Disciple. Shout out to WTCFoLife Blog for linking the stream.


Feel free to hate on me all you want for posting shit that's been out for some time but as you know I haven't been updating The Lost Tapes and slept on a bunch of solid releases myself and this is one release that deserves that spotlight big time. This will most likely be the last such update as I don't need to make this some backlog site but this May release by The Legion's Molecules over Showbiz beats really brought out the certified Hip Hop head in me like it was the late '90s all over again. For sure, there's been some hot shit dropping while I've been away (Kendrick, MC Eiht, Boxcutter Brothers last project which I reviewed for Vendetta Vinyl) but this one right here feels a little extra special to me as Show's been a favorite of mine for a long time and I feel that this is all-around one of his finest work in some time. Molecules was of course part of The Legion who dropped the much slept-on "Theme + Echo = Krill" back in 1994 so he is a seasoned underground veteran as well, and his connection with Showbiz on wax goes all the way back to "Runaway Slave".

Both lyrically and sonically "A Bronx Tale" sounds like it could have been recorded in 1995 - and I mean that in the best way possible. Many producers try to recreate that classic sound of the Golden Era while only ending up with something that sounds like an empty knock off of the real thing. This is the real thing right here. You got the breakbeats and gritty drum loops, the accentuated bass lines, horn stabs that fades in and out, Rhodes and all that good stuff. Combined with Molecules' knack for ghetto storytelling in a gruff voice that will speak volumes to the type of rap heads who can't get enough of hardcore emcees like Blaq Poet and Bumpy Knuckles and you got a really well balanced, strong release. 

Fans of D.I.T.C. and The Legion will of course remember that 'Cules and Show first worked together as a duo on the brilliant storytelling joint "Revenge" that first appeared around 1999 on a rare Japanese pressing of the D.I.T.C. album. That classic cut definitely feels like a prequel to this project and that could never be a bad thing. Grab the 12" vinyl or the CD (both which also includes the full instrumentals for all cuts) over @ Fat Beats and check out the stream below.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

[Album] SADAT X x DIAMOND D - "Sum Of Man"

Now I know damn well that three weeks is a lifetime on the world wide web but considering I haven't been posting for The Lost Tapes at all I never got around to post about Sadat X's latest album when it dropped. You don't have to worry that I'm going to backtrack and post all sorts of stuff that dropped in that interim but this one is special to me. Called "Sum Of Man" Sadat X teased about it quite some time ago, saying his next album would be entirely produced by super producer Diamond D. Truly a man of his word, the two has been hitting the studio hard to create a solid twelve joints that's nothing short of certified Hip Hop. The Brand Nubian emcee and the D.I.T.C. production maestro has been working together for a large chunk of their respective career, ever since Diamond laced the classic Nubian single "Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down" (in three equally sick versions) and X and Lord Jamar returned the favor by appearing on "Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop"

Just like he did with Southern hardcore spitter BIGREC a while back the sound and atmosphere is perfectly catered to Sadat X smooth style, intelligent lyrics and unmistakable voice, at the same time as it's unquestionably carries signature of Diamond D. The record is all about these two, a celebration of their 25 year long musical relationship, but guests turn up in extended family like Jawz Of Life (seen and heard on the first single, above) Kurupt and Tha Liks, former Terror Squad crooner Tony Sunshine and the always impressive Raheem Devaughn. I've only heard the singles so far but I'll definitely be listening to the entire LP later today. The release of this album hasn't exactly been big news so hopefully this post might shine a light on the project for some other heads who's been sleeping. The album is released independetly through Dyamond Mine Records and can be purchased in both digital format via iTunes and on vinyl @ Fat Beats or Amazon so pick your choice but do support this!

01. "The Devil is Near" (Ft. Jawz Of Life)
02. "Neva" (Ft. Timmy Hunter)
03. "Good Inside"
04."Out of Bonds" (Ft. Diamod D)

05. "Always Be My Lady" (Ft. Raheem Devaughn)
06. "Yawl Can't Drink With Us" (Ft. Kurupt & Tha Alkaholiks)
07. "Celebrate"
08. "Who's Judging" (Ft. Tony Sunshine)
09. "Bang Bang"
10. "Get Away"
11. "The Five Boroughs"
12. "Reflections"

Stream @ Spotify

[EP] AYATOLLAH x HELL RAZAH - "Blaxploitation"

That Heaven Razah and Ayatollah release a full-on project together has been written in the stars for quite some time now. When Razah and Shabazz formed T.H.U.G. Angelz word was that Ayatollah would lace the entire project and was basically the third member of the group. Then we got "Welcome 2 Red Hook Houses" which featured no 'Tollah beats at all. A dope album but it lacked the signature soul of the man behind classics like "Ms. Fat Booty", "Hold U", "Lift Ya Glass", "The Life" and so man others. Shabazz and Razah had a falling out and the planned T.H.U.G. Angelz album was put on hold. Luckily Razah released it as a free download for the fans called "R.I.P. T.H.U.G. Angelz" and as promised it was a true trio collaboration. If you haven't peeped it yet, be sure to do so, it stayed in my phone for months and months (the first 13 tracks are the actual album and the majority of it is produced by 'Tollah).

The two worked again on Hell Razah's finest statement today, "Heaven Razah", where Ayatollah produced the single "Kids in the Street" (see above). Now the duo is back with more untouchable music, this time in the form of a 12-track release called "Blaxploitation: A Piece of the Action". I think this is the first time we hear Razah recording after beating his brain aneurysm and waking up from his coma so you can imagine the strength of this brother. Stream below but support these legends over @ iTunes.

[Video] METHOD MAN - "The Classic"

This video has been around for a while but I bet a lot of people missed on it or slept on it, which is a god damn shame because Method Man brings the heat on a solidifed beat. Pure spitting, no hook or nothing. But the reason is that this was originally a track by a cat named Cortez who grabbed Meth for a feature on a remix to his "The Classic". Meth hijacked the shit, cut off everything but himself and put out a video to promote his forthcoming "Meth Lab II: The Lithium" project. You can check out the full version featuring Tommy Boy artist Cortez @ iTunes.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

[Review] JAY-Z - "4:44"

Last week out of nowhere JAY-Z dropped his thirteenth studio album pretty much out of nowhere; no promotion, no hype, just 37 minutes of fantastic music. In fact this might be one of the Hov album that will go down as one of his best, a future classic alongside "Reasonable Doubt", "Blueprint" and "The Black Album". I loved "American Gangster" so I'm a bit on the fence on which album is better but this is more focused and the lyrics is just on another level, totally original from the JAY-Z we know. With one of the best emcees in the game meeting one of the best producers of the industry, NO ID and Hov has created an album that brings back the values of what a really great Hip Hop album could and should be. "4:44" is entirely focused both from a lyrical and a sonic perspective and the two mesh exceptionally well. It reminds me of classic albums from the late '80s where an album was treated as a body of work that was being worked equally hard on by both the artist and the producer to sound like a body of work that could stand on its own. From the first track "Killing JAY-Z" to the final song "Legacy" Jay-Z is telling the story of where he is at today, and it's brutally honest at the same time as it's packed with slick lines that I already noticed went straight over fuckers heads. And what's great is that the music in itself does so much in telling that very same story. 

Jay-Z has built a career on being a tough business man who's great at talking slick to girls, loving to spend lavishly on designer brands and champagne and he can outrap almost anyone, and not only does he know it - he lets it be known. But what made Jay succesfull isn't only the ill flow, his fabolous lifestyle and fierce battle bars but also the little hints of honesty that allowed us to come close to Jigga and learn about him, faults and all. He was never as transparent as say Nas or DMX, far from it, but for almost every album he had a joint or two where he invited listeners into his world to let us partake in the world of the real Jay-Z. These records were often the stand-outs on each LP and I dare say that if it wasn't for these type of tracks he wouldn't have made it to the top. I'm talking songs like "You Must Love Me" (such a heartfelt verse, describing how he shot his own brother and just ran), "Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)", "Moment Of Clarity" and "Where Have You Been" (making up with the father that abandoned him), "D'Evils", "Regrets", "Lucky Me" and so on. I feel that since his 2006 comeback he has kind of shied away from these type of topics which in my opinion has hurt these proects somewhat. It's like they've been missing something.

With "4:44" I'm glad to say that JAY-Z is back in full efect and it's easy to see why he often comes up in discussions about the G.O.A.T. Hov is a grown man now, he is in Forbes magazine, he could care less about petty beef, and here he basically decided to do his most personal album yet, It's like a 36 minute therapy session, and the way thing starts is pure brilliance. With "Kill Jay-Z" he is admitting his faults and killing his ego to get to the bottom of Shawn Carter really is. There's quotable for days here as it's basically an older, more experienced man speaking to his younger self, explaining where he did go wrong. "The Story Of O.J." is another standout from the set which is directed to black people in the US, and once again also can be seen as a wiser Jay-Z speaking to a younger, more immature version of himself. He talks about managing our finances in a proper way, investing money and not flexing. The line "Y'all on the 'Gram holding money to your ear/ there's a disconnect, we don't call that money over here" is a classic Jay double entendre that could've been straight from "Reasonable Doubt". A lot of fools don't get how slick that line is, only hearing the "holding money to your ear on Instagram" flexing" line when its the lines that come after that really solidifies it at lyrical and worthy of recognition.

All through this NO ID certainly rises to the challenge and it's such a beautiful thing to just hear two artists vibing in the studio coming up with a really coherrent sound. TThey have worked before, but often with at least a gang of producers around - the one song I can think off that was just Jay and NO is "Death of Autotune", and matter of fact that wouldn't be too out o place here. Sonically that is. It's a great mixture of sampled gospel, soul and jazz classics and live instrumentation coupled with some real hard drums but the beats never got to busy to take the top spot from Jay-Z. He touches on so many honest topics here, from his mother's homosexuality and finall coming out the closet on the more laid-back but beautiful "Smile". There's the title track (see video above) which features a truly heartfelt apology from Hov to his wife for cheating repeatedly on here (as macho as Hip Hop is, could this be the first record of a man saying he is truly sorry for that). No ID again does a beautiful job of combining a repeated vocal sample that stretches out and finds the team in the melting pot between R&B and boom bap.

And that's halftime, but there's really no point in breaking down every song as this is as true an album as they come and I dare to say that 10 years from now this will be looked upon as one of Jay-Z's classics. And the same goes for NO ID as this was undoubtedly a team effort. It's a blessing that Jay-Z realized he doesn't need a million and one producers to make a hot album; just get one really talented guy that understands your vision and we're almost there. Lyrically this is a new chapter in Jay-Z's book and one that is very welcome, he's grown up and got some rich man problems but that doens't mean that he's gone soft on us. There's plenty of shit here for the average man to relate to and for the rest there's a lot of advice to be taken heed to. I really liked "American Gangster" but as that was a concept album perhaps it's more honest to say that is Jigga's best joint since "The Black Album" some 15 years ago. No matter how you feel about this man be sure to check it out ASAP and let's hope that more artists follow suit in letting one or two producers handle their whole album front to back.

Friday, July 7, 2017

PRODIGY mural pops up in Queensbridge

 The artists unveiled the mural Thursday at 13th Street and 40th Avenue to honor the late hip-hop star.
On June 20 we lost one of the true legends in this Hip Hop game as Prodigy, real name Albert Johnson, lost the fight with his sickle cell disease. Heads over the world has been mourning as his words has touched people all over, and with one of the illest flows and voice nonetheless. Graffiti was always an integral part of the culture and memorial pieces has been an important statement and a tribute. The other day, the first of many, super dope memoral pieces of P appeared in his stomping ground of Queensbridge, on the corner of 13th and 40th street. The artists behind the mural are curator/artist Eli-Eos and portrait artist Jeff Hernandez. Check out more info about the piece and see pictures of the piece in the making over @ The Fader.

If there's anything like good news coming from this terrible event is that at the beginning of the year P told media that he was about to drop one album in three volumes during 2017. In late January he dropped the first "book" of "Hegelian Dialectic" subtitled Book of Revelations. The second part was to be called Book of Heroine and Part 3 to be titled Book of the Dead. Originally the trilogy was supposed to drop in a pretty narrow time frame and each volume would explore three distinct traits of P's personality; the occult knowledge, the party type joints as heard on "H.N.I.C. III" and the straight street shit that he built much of his career off. So Prodigy fans, its very likely we haven't heard the last word from the Hempstead emcee turned Queensbridge representative. My prediction is that we will have all books of "Hegelian Dialectic" within a year so stay tuned. And The Lost Tapes will most likely drop a solo P compilation as well. Check out this freestyle from better times and rest in power Albert Johnson, you'll never be forgotten.