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Saturday, February 21, 2015

[Out Now] MILANO CONSTANTINE - "The Believers"

Ever since he held his own next to Big Punisher on the D.I.T.C. classic "Where Ya At?" back in '99 real heads have definitely been fiending for more music from Milano Constantine. Back in the early 2000s the Wild Life member signed to T-Ray's Beatdown Recordings and recorded the full-length album "The Believers" with an all star line-up of producers including Showbiz, Lord Finesse, Amed, Buckwild and T-Ray. Unfortunately the LP was shelved leaving the public only with the three track EP "That's Milano". Now the 15 song album is finally seeing an official release, with the digital copies already being sold through iTunes and the CD coming very soon. Support this one y'all, this shit goes HARD!

01. "The Believers Intro" [prod. Buckwild]
02. "When You Hear" [prod. Emile]
03. "Drama" (Ft. A Black) [prod. Lord Finesse]
04. "Hope You Listening" [prod. Showbiz]
05. "Bring It Home" [prod. Showbiz]
06. "Tramps Freestyle"
07. "Awful" [prod. Amed]
08. "That's Milano" [prod. T-Ray]
09. "Show 'Em" [prod. Showbiz]
10. "Morir Sonando" [prod. Lord Finesse]
11. "Harlem" [prod. Showbiz]
12. "Live Your Life" [prod. Showbiz]
13. "New York City" [prod. Molecules of The Legion]
14. "Where Ya At?" (Ft. Big Pun) [prod. DJ Premier]
15. "Warrior's Drum" [prod. Lord Finesse]
16. "Everybody Hurts" [prod. T-Ray]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

[EP] NUTSO - "Divided Soul"

This is BIG right here, rugged and raw street spitter Nutso, straight out of Queens, is hooking up with the production team of Divided Souls Entertainment and DJ Pain 1 (which includes Lost Tapes friend Chris Moss) for a brand new EP. Fittingly titled the "Divided Soul EP", the seven tracks featured on this blazing project brings out the best out of both Nutso and the production trio who previously has supplied amazing tracks for Chuck D and Public Enemy. This is real headnodding boom bap shit that will definitely put a smile on your face and keep your ears peaked for rewind worthy street lyrics. An extra plus comes from the large amount of scratches and turntable work being incorporated throughout the Extended Play, while Nutso is being held down by Rasheed Chappel, Blacastan, General Steele, Trae The Truth and more this is DEFINTIELY not one you want to sleep on! It's early in the year yet, but so far it's easily one of the best records released thus far.

Stream the entire project for free below, which I bet will lead to you supporting the real by either purchasing a HQ digital download from Nutso's Bandcamp or grab the CD edition from Amazon.

[Comp] MF GRIMM - "MF Love Songs"

Today I got more banging MF Grimm for y'all, one of the best and most underrated emcees of all time. He's now taking time in between recording his excellent just released third installment in the "GMV" series with Drasar Monumental and the next Vendetta Vinyl release, to bring back a compilation of some old classics that are linked thematic to form a very unusual love themed album. But don't expect this to be all lovey dovey as Grimm's take on love is not only that between a woman and a man but that between true brothers, family, etc. and includes classics like "Bloody Love Letter". While I'm familiar with a lot of these joints I just started listening to hear how it works as a full-length compilation and so far it sounds fucking incredible. Don't sleep on this if you're a true hip-hop head - the digital project can be streamed for free via Spotify below or purchased from iTunes. Support the real!

01. "It's No Secret"
02. "Mary Mary"
03. "My House"
04. "Love Jones"
05. I.B.s."
06. "Bloody Love Letter"
07. "When Faith is Lost"
08. "Yes You Are (It's Only A Movie)"
09. "Delilah"
10. "Medicine"
11. "Yin & Yang"
12. "Things I've Said"
13. "Life & Death"

CANNIBAL OX Ft. U-GOD & ARTIFACTS - "Blade: The Art Of Ox"

Cannibal Ox dropped one of the best albums this side of 2000 some 15 years ago; an album that still holds up to this day as one of my all time favorites. While Vast Aire and especially Vordul Mega (especially the latter) has dropped some really hot solo projects, fans has been eagerly awaiting that sophomore, long awaited LP that finally lands in stores on March 3 (pre-order @ iTunes). So far all the singles have sounded incredible, with Bill Cosmiq stepping in to fill El-P's big shoes from the classic debut, but for the new posse cut "Blade: The Art Of Ox" the duo grabs the always impeccable Black Milk to provide a soulful backdrop that lets Vordul Mega, Vast Aire, U-GOD and The Artifacts loose to create a real headnodder. Can't wait for this album, for real!

FASHAWN x NAS x ALOE BLACC - "Something To Believe In"

When young California lyricist Fashawn first broke out onto the scene on a national level I was super hyped by this incredible wordsmith, solidified by his official solo debut "Boy Meets World", produced by Exile, and the ALC-produced prequel tape "The Antidote". Unfortunately since then this promising young emcee has barely released a track that has managed to capture my attention, releasing mixtape after mixtape that strayed way too far from what made me fall in love with his East Coast influenced West Coast bangers. Now signed to Nas' Mass Appeal Records, he late last year released the absolutely incredible free Alchemist collaboration "Fashionably Late" which even made it to my man Antoine's top three albums of 2014 and I wouldn't place it far behind. The real album will be another Exile full-lenght collaboration, this time called "The Ecology" and so far the singles are sounding a lot more promising than anything released by this heavy spitter for years. 

The latest single "Something to Believe In" features excellent verses by Fashawn and Nas going at it, while Aloe Blacc provides some welcome vocals to take it to the next level. The other singles released thus far include the Busta Rhymes assisted "Out The Trunk" and the lead single "Guess Who's Back". Check all singles below and watch out for "The Ecology" on Febbruary 25.

ROC MARCIANO - "Three Sixty Five"

Producer The Dirty Sample is a new name to me, but I'm always down to hear new Roc Marciano music, one of the best emcees doing it right now - no doubt whatsoever. The Dirty Sample recently released his compilation album "Raw Produce" which includes this vintage Roc Marcy banger called "Three Six Five" which showcases Marcy at his finest both through his writing and calm, deadly flow but also in the way the dusty production compliments the Strong Island veterans hardcore versees. The six track EP for the song was just released on Phono Graphique, and features the incredible original version, as well as two additional remixes (and instrumentals to all) that both goes pretty damn hard as well, Download the digital @ Bandcamp ASAP

[Album] AGALLAH DON BISHOP - "Don Status"

Ever since I first heard Agallah as a producer back in the very late '90s on Group Home's and Cappadonna's second albums as 8-Off Tha Assassin I always kept an eye out for him. And while he's ocassionally been quite hit-or-miss, when he's good he's real fucking good. His latest endeavor is the free project "Don Status" that's filled with hardcore hip-hop featuring some of today's finest young hip-hop artists such as Hus Kingpin, Rozewood, DirtyDiggs, Killer Been, SmooVth, Spit Gemz, and guest producer Opi Tayler. Definitely worth a listen so be sure to press play below.

DJ EFN Ft. SCARFACE, TROY AVE & STALLEY - "Who's Crazy" [prod. DJ Premier]

We've heard some excellent singles from DJ EFN's upcoming compilation-type album "Another Time LP" which drops March 3. The latest single is a slamming joint produced by none other than DJ Premier who does a great job providing the backdrop for the immortal Scarface with Stalley and Troy Ave. In other words not Preem's usual NY gritty emcee showcase, but perhaps all the more interesting for it. Especially interesting to hear Scarface on a Preem beat again. Pre-order and check the tracklist @ iTunes. Turn this up LOUD!


This is a true hip-hop watershed moment as far as legendary collaborations that's long overdue goes. True hip-hop heads knew that MF Grimm was actually supposed to rock things out with Nas, Akinyele and Joe Fatal on Main Source's "Live @ The BBQ" in 1991, but faith wanted things different. Either way MF Grimm has truly bounced back from the hard life he has lived, and came out stronger because of it. Few artists that I have spoken directly with are as humble as MF Grimm, a wise man with nothing but respect for his fans; in fact clips from my interview with Grimm and Drasar are actually included on their excellent collaboration "GMV III - The Phoenix Program", which of course is a true honor. 

I might be mistaken but I can't recall an actually released Large Professor / MF Grimm collaboration prior to this. The boom bap renaissance joint is fittingly called "United" [SP Remix] and is produced by the talent DJ Cucumber who does an excellent job in bringing out the best out of these legends. The song will appear on Cucumber's upcoming Trash Flow/F5 Recordings release, "Retro Active", which is out on limited double cassette on February 24. The 12 track project features previously unreleased music, both old and new, from Cucumbers' stash recorded between 1997 and 2014. MF Grimm also appears with a solo song called "Streets (Ruff Demo Mix)", while other standout features include Sadat X, Count Bass D, Black Spade, Edo G, and Grand Puba. Read more, check out the tracklist and pre-order from

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

[Review] A look back @ CORMEGA's "MEGA PHILOSOPHY"

Since I started this blog about five years ago I always featured an in-depth article/review for the five to ten of my favorite albums of that respective year. I'm a big reviewhead, but writing these takes some time, and I've been quite busy as of late (which is why The Lost Tapes has kind of lacked in updates recently). There was however some absolutely tremendous projects released last year by some of the most esteemed emcees and producers doing it, so I say better late than never to give some of these albums a more thorough spotlight. Since his official debut "The Realness" in 2001, a hardcore QB album filled with rugged beats and equally rugged street stories, metaphorical songs, and agressive diss tracks the album became an instant classic. "The True Meaning" was much in the same vein, though sporting some higher profile producers like Buckwild, Large Pro, Emile and The Alchemist. It also featured more reflective tracks that still stands as some of 'Mega's finest ("Love in Love Out", "Ain't Gona Change", "Live Ya Life", etc.). Although dropping several mixtapes and the street album "Legal Hustle Volume One" it wasn't until 2009 that one of QBs finest dropped his third official LP - an album ("Born and Raised") that showed a much more mature sound of Cormega. With titles like "Love Your Family", "Live and Learn", "Define Yourself", "One Purpose" and "The Other Side" it was clear that Cory wasn't very interested in being stuck on rapping about crack and smack but rather grow as a person while inviting listeners to hear his own personal growth. With backdrops by Large Pro, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Havoc, Easy Mo Bee, Ayatollah, Buckwild and Fizzy Womack it was more a laid back effort, yet an extremely well crafted front-to-back listen.

Which leaves us in 2014 when the long awaited joint collaboration between Cormega and producer The Large Professor, that had been discussed for years, finally saw the light of day. As mentioned earlier, each of his albums up to this point has enabled listeners to follow his growth not only as a talented wordsmith, but also as a man - which gives listeners the feeling of actually knowing the man, much in the same way that Nas has done throughout his career. Listening to "Mega Philosophy" there is no question that this is 'Mega's most personal album to date, venting about the industry and how especially treat black artists, the negativity of being incarcerated, personal issues both about his baby mother and close family members, the marginalization of Africa as a country of old wisdom and knowledge, and much more. Pretty much every song has something to say; even in the opening posse cut "MARS II" there are bars touching on the police brutality and loss of young black life that we see today. It's a short album but from the first to last song the lyrics is incredibly well written, representing Cormega's finest hour as an emcee's emcee (not to say it's his best album overall). A few times listeners will find him rhyme slightly out of pocket, as he sometimes trying to squeeze to many words within a couple of bars, but this is a minor complaint as for the vast majority of the LP he is really on his grind. Guest spots on the album are thankfully limited, but the few emcees who help Cory out, is Raekwon, Nature, and Black Rob as well as the second installment of the posse cut "MARS" which features Mega, AZ, Redman, and Styles P. 

A Cormega album entirely produced by Large Professor has been on mine, and a load of true hip-hop heads, wishlist for years. With previous tracks like "Journey", "The Come Up" and the original "MARS" has proved what an incredible chemistry these two Queens representatives can bring  out in their best moments. In fact both Cormega and Large Professor are two of those rare type of artists which I rarely have heard a wack track from. Add the fact that "Mega Philosophy" was first conceived some two or three years ago and this tells you a lot about the thought and quality time put into this project. At first listen some listeners only knowing this duo's more hardcore material might be a bit suprised as the sound here is, although filled with pounding drums and booming basslines, more laid back, filled with melodic samples that often feel like analog live instruments. Though there are a few harder joints on here, "Honorable", "D.U.", "Rap Basquiat", these are also the songs that find 'Mega in a harder B-Boy stance, showing off his immense skills on the mic. On the other hand of the spectrum are songs like the beautiful "Rise", "More", and the incredible album closer "Valuable Lessons". These are also some of the most reflective and thematically important records on the LP, which Extra-P's prodution really grounds and amplifies with his melodic sample-centered use of keys, guitars and african rhythms (on "More"). The eleven songs found here really showcases how good an album can turn out with just one emcee and one producer if the two have the extreme type of chemistry that these two definitely does. It should also be noted that Cormega himself was heavily involved in the production, picking out samples and working hand-to-hand with Large Pro at times as told in the excellent interview article that XXL published shortly before the albums release.

Clocking in at only thirty three minutes, and as it definitely follows a theme, I'm torn between whether or not I would like to have more songs on here or not. When I listen to the digital version of the album I often add the first version of "MARS", the remixes of "Industry", and the remix to "Joruney" with OC and Sadat X (which in fact was created especially for inclusion on the LP but was scrapped somewhere in the process, perhaps due to the fact that it had been out for too long - I'm still waiting on a CDQ version of that though, such a slamming joint). With or without bonus tracks "Mega Philosophy"  is one of Cormega's finest works yet, and it's amazing how he just keeps on growing as a lyricist. You can tell he means every word, straight from the heart, and he's never been one to shy away from any topic. If you don't already own this, then HURRY UP AND BUY!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

BIG SHUG x DJ PREMIER - "Off Rip" (Ft. Termanology & Singapore Kane)

Shit, this one goes HARD, but what else is expected from the gruff voiced Boston legend. He is currently in the midst of promotion his soon-to-be-here new album "Triple Oguz" that will feature production and cames from DJ Premier, Works Of Mart signee GemCrates, MoSS, Kid Called Quest, Termanology, Singapore, and REKS. The first official single, that is now getting the video treatment, is a rugged and raw Preem banger called "Off Rip" that also features sick verses from usual suspects Termanology and Singapore Kane. The album will be available via Brick Records on March 17 and can be pre-ordered @ UGHH (CD only though; click the link to see tracklist, features and production credits + artwork) or iTunes.

I was a fan of Shug's latest solo offering "I.M.4-Eva" which featured plenty of bangers, though not suprisingly the really, really hard hitting joints where all produced by Preemo, and that might very well be the case on this one too. These guys definitely need to hook up for a full-length album together - between Shug and Bumpy they are the only two guys that I feel can come close to creating new music with a Gang Starr flavor (given that Premier is behind the boards of course).

RAY WEST Ft. BLU & DAVE DAR - "Stay Still"

NY producer, and D.I.T.C. affiliate, Ray West keeps dropping EPs, 7" singles and the ocassional album on his Red Apples 45 imprint and especially over the last few years he has really improved his skills. The laid back, jazz infused production gives a solid platform for Blu and Dave Dar to go in over. Don't sleep on this while you're waiting for the spring to come at us. Ray's slamming "Berrii Lipstick" EP is out now and also features apperances by AG and OC and can be streamed via Spotify below, before you order your copy @ RedApples45 where you can also still order two of last years finest EP:s - "Ray's Cafe" with OC and the Ray West/John Robinsion collabo callled "Sample & Percussion". The V/A 7" EP "Berrii Lipstick" is available now, and so is the highly recommended Robinsion EP which you can grab here here. You can stream both projects for free via Spotify below.

"Samples & Percussion" (JR & Ray West) [Spotify]
"Berri Lipstick 7" (AG, Blue, OC, Dave Dar) [Spotify]

Sunday, February 15, 2015

MOBB DEEP - "Temperature's Rising" [Original Mix]

I've been listening a whole lot to the previously unreleased 1994 sessions packaged as the bonus disc on "The Infamous Mobb Deep" last year. That shit almost plays out like a lost classic, and reminds us how incredible Prodigy and Havoc when they first broke through with "The Infamous...". The version of "Temperature's Rising" that appears on the disc, however, is not the original version of the track but rather Havoc's remix that also appeared on the 12" single. The original version of the song was actually released on a rare promo 12" single back in '94 and played by the likes of Stretch & Bobbito. This is "Temperature's Rising" before Q-Tip came in to work on the album and is built on a completely different beat, with a banging Al Green sample that probably couldn't get cleared. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

J DILLA - "Bangin' Like A DILLA Instrumental"

OkayPayer premiered this really, really solid mixtape put together by Chocolate Sunday's resident DJ:s Manuvers, Sharpsound and Louie Arson. Titled "Bangin' Like a Dilla Instrumental" this expertly crafted mix blends some of the most legendary Jay Dee instrumentals for other people, to classic solo work and group settings, and rare beats "straight from the fucking cassette". It's amazing how fresh these beats still sound today and one thing that's pretty amazing with DiLLA beats is that they are usually just as interesting with or without vocals on top. Enjoy this shit but be sure to TURN IT UP!!! A LITTLE LOUDER!!

Also released via OkayPlayer is this rare studio footage of The Soulquarians in action (with Dilla on the drum set), jamming out a track that would eventually transform into "Aquarius" on Common's underrated "Electric Circus". Read more about the session @ OKP. Last but not least in this selection of DiLLA news, FatBeats and Ne'Astra Music Group are reissuing both the original Slum Village albums with JayDee on wax and cassette, so if you don't have those gems you better grab them both. Read more over @

[Mixtape] MOBB DEEP - "White Cocaine #2"

Though they always been among my favorites, a few years ago I had almost counted out Mobb Deep as a group but a couple of strong releases as of late has definitely proved me wrong on that point. As they are working on the follow up to last years "The Infamous Mobb Deep" album, P and Hav hooks up with DJ ArabMixTapes to let fans get a taste of what's to come. There's some strong material on here to be sure, Havoc continues dropping those crazy hard hitting beats that made "13 Reloaded" one of my favorite albums of last year. Also, as I was browsing through Fat Beats catalouge I noticed that the aforementioned "The Infamous Mobb Deep" has finally been pressed up on wax with four vinyls containing the regular album (with bonus tracks) and that incredibly dope disc of previously unreleased 1994/1995 sessions. For $40 it's a bit pricey for me at the moment but you can cop it @ FatBeats.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I haven't really paid enough attention to what's going on on the underground hip hop scene these last couple of weeks, as I had missed out on this jewel of a record which already is basically sold out. I'm talking about the split EP between the younger Soul Brother Grap Luva and St. Louis based Black Spade that was released on small indie label F5 Records a couple of weeks ago. Entirely produced on the SP1200 and concocted from dusty jazz samples this record manages to bring back that classic Hip Hop vibe we all love without sounding forced. Black Spade holds it down on the mic throughout, with the two tracks on the A side being produced by Grap Luva and the four joints on the B side are handled by DJ Crucial and Spade himself (also includes instrumental). This is a very limited run as most sites are already sold out but it looks like Fat Beats have a few copies left, so be sure to grab one ASAP! 

All songs have been uploaded to YouTube and is highly recommended listen... Favorite joints on first listen for me? "Perfection" (see above) and "The SP Jazz"!

A1. "Perfection Is..."
A2. "Bonafide" (Ft. Count Bass D)
B1. "The SP Jazz" (Ft. Fresh Daly)
B2. "Listen" (Ft. Dharma Jane)
B3. "Get Wid It" (Ft. Kryptonite)
B4. "Bonafide" [Ruff Mix]

KENN STARR - "Say Goodbye" + "Square One" LP Stream

Kenn Starr is an integral part of the Low Budget crew (which also includes Kev Brown, Oddisee, Sean Born, etc.) and his latest album "Square One" is ample proof of his talents as a writer and emcee. The single "Say Goodbye" is a good example of what you'll find on the album as Starr reflects on his career and the industry over a signature Black Milk banger. "Square One" is available from retailers such as UGHH now, and you can also stream the entire album for free via the official Bandcamp page (where you of course also can purchase a HQ download). Production by Kev Brown, Black Milk, Kaimbr and 14KT - don't sleep!


Ghostface & jazz trio BadBadNotGood lets go of "Tone's Rap", the fourth leak from their upcoming collaboration LP called "Sour Soul". This is an excellent jam and with a third of the record out there I don't see how this will dissapoint any fan of this quintet (Frank Dukes is co-producing everything and his track record with Ghost is on point too). "Sour Soul" hits stores on February 24.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

[Comp] MARLEY MARL - "The Godfather Of QB"

Marley Marl... The name alone invokes an aura of respect even for thie most casual hip-hop fan, at least one should hope so. Hip Hop as we know it today owe a whole lot to Marlon Williams and his many contributions to the culture. Not only is he the true pioneer of sampling records in the way that would soon after become the staple of making rap music, his ear for talent helped bring some of the greatest emcees and producers of all time to the forefront, including Pete Rock, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Tragedy Khadafi, and so on. Not to mention his love for pure street shit that is so often displayed on his incredible Future Flavaz radio show. But all this is well known to anyone that's familiar with his history. 

So while many of his early production work for legends like LL and Biz Markie are generally considered all time classics it seems that fewer heads hold his later joints in the same high regard. This is bullshit, Marley Marl never fell off for a second, and should proudly be mentioned among other giants like DJ Premier, Diamond D and Pete Rock. His more recent album with KRS-One wasn't that well received as far as I know, but if you ask me that LP is a fucking monster that I urge all my readers to revisit ASAP. It's been a while since I made a compilation for The Lost Tapes and I never ever done one focusing on Marl's work before. For the reasons stated before the focal point of this comp is Marley Marl's production work from the mid-'90s onwards, and on strictly hardcore shit at that. No R&B remixes, just hard cooked bangers with a lot of Queensbridge emcees holding it down. So download this knocking compilation, press play and turn that volume up LOUD while the Godfather of Queensbridge guides you through 70 minutes of pure hardcore Hip Hop. Another Lost Tapes exclusive!

01. Kamakazee - "Bridge '95"
02. Troy SLUGS & Capone - "What U Hold Down"
03. Capone-N-Noreaga / Tragedy Khadafi / Mobb Deep - "LA LA [Kuwait]"
04. Noreaga / Kool G Rap / Musolini - "40 Island"
05. Kool G Rap / KL - "With A Bullet"
06. Killa Sha - "Nightshiftin'"
07. Nas - "Bridging The Gap" [Remix]
08. PHD / Havoc / Kamakazee - "Set It Part 3" [Remix]
09. Kamakazee - "Head On"
10. Pop Da Brown Hornet - "Follow Me Up" [Marley Marl Remix]
11. Imam THUG / Tragedy Khadafi - "QB2G"
12. Fat Joe - "Find Out"
13. Killa Sha - "Black Dracula"
14. Kool G Rap - "$ Ova Bitches"
15. Capone-N-Noreaga / Tragedy Khadafi / Mobb Deep - "LA LA [Iraq] 
16. Screwball / Havoc / Cormega - "On The Real"
17. Truck Turner / Kool G Rap / Big Pun / KRS-One - "Symphony 2000"

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Don't know too much where this might end up, but the line-up here is crazy to say the least. Psycho Les brings a hot Bob James sampling beat while Tragedy Khadafi (don't sleep on his "Pre-Magnum Opus" LP btw), Royal Flush and Illa Ghee gets loose. Banger!

MAGNIF / J DILLA - "The Shining Pt. 2"

Back in 2004, a couple of years back J Dilla released his final solo album of the same name, underrated Detroit duo Lawless Element dropped the knocking 12" single "The Shining". As February 7 marks the anniversary of Dilla's untimely passing Magnif, one half of the duo, lets loose of "The Shining Part II" set over a thumping previously unreleased Jay Dee banger. Unlike much of the posthumous music that has been released since 2006 this one actually really works well, so be sure to TURN IT UP!!

Friday, February 6, 2015

L'ORANGE / KOOL KEITH - "Sometmes I Feel"

This is an intersting collaboration here! Always been a huge fan of Kool Keith and MMG producer L'Orange has done some slamming albums and EP:s the last couple of years, and the results of "Sometimes I Feel" sure doe snot dissapoint. This is another joint from the upcoming Mello Music Group compilation called "Perona" which will feature exclusives from Nottz, Oddisee, yU, Oh No, Rapper Big Pooh, Apollo Brown & Masta Ace (!), Quele Chris, Blockhead and more. The album is slated for a March 01 release, you can check out the tracklist (with streams of all singles so far) and pre-order @ Bandcamp.


Bay Area legend and Mobb Fingaz emcee tragically was shot and killed this Wednesday night, and left a vacuum in the Bay Area scene that will take a long time to recoverer from. I was lucky enough to see him perform live a couple of years ago and it was a strong concet. "Dunya", the official video, probably the last music video approved by The Jacka before his tragic passing, comes from his full-length collaboration with Freeway - "Hiway Robbery". Don't sleep and be sure to cop the LP!

[Music Film] JAY-Z - "Streets is Watching" (1998)

As I mentioned before Jay-Z posts on The Lost Tapes ocassionally get shut down quite nasty in the comments sections, which I can understand as I personally hate everything the Jiggaman stand for these days (with that being said, still to this day he at least have a few banging cuts on each album). However, Jigga's official debut and sophomore in 1996 and 1997, respectively, "Reasonable Doubt" and "In My Lifetime... Vol. 1" are straight up incredible albums. Although the 1998 documentary / extended music video for Roc-A-Fella Films "Streets is Watching" ties together a loose narrative connecting a large amount of videos, mostly previously previously unreleased; a large amount of the best songs from Jay-Z's best album a long with his two finest early videos - "I Can Get With Dat" and "In My Lfetime"; two excellent '95 tracks.

This was originally released in '98, proabbly slightly earlier than "Vol. 2... "Hard Knock Life" and features pretty much all the original Jay-Z videos from his two first abums, many of them never having reached the public before. Whether you're on of the guys who trapped in the mindstate that Jay-Z is not a truly gifted lyricist, before he dumbed down his flow, this is purely excellent hip-hop and makes for an interesting viewing, so if you haven't catched it before... Don't sleep!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

[Mixtape] J. ROCC Presents MADLIB - "The Remixes"

Original Beat Junkie J. Rocc shows of his impeccable turntable skills in a boom blazing fashion in this 50 minutes deep mix of Madlib remixes. This was originally released as Stones Throw podcast #21 but was reposted by Rappcats about two years ago so in case you missed this the first time around, or just feel like blasting some raw Madlib shit, you better hit play and TURN IT UP!

01. PB Wolf - "Definition Of Ill"
02. Foreign Legion - "Nowhere To Hide"
03. Zion I - "Critical"
04. Charizma - "My World Premiere"
05. Prozack - "Bang It"
06. Que D - "Cash Flow"
07. Common - "The Sun God"
08. Madvillain - "Money Folder"
09. Lootpack - "Long Awaited"
10. Mos Def
11. AG - "Take A Ride"
12. Jaylib - "Strapped"
13. Jay-Z - "Say Threat"
14. Defari - "Say It Twice"
15. DoggyStyle All Stars - "Tell It Like It Is"
16. Kurupt - "Ride With Us"
17. Jadakiss - "Put Ya Hands Up"
18. Mr. Cheeks - "Lights, Camera, Action"
19. J Dilla - "Reckless Driving"
20. Interlude
21. Madvillain - "Rainbows"
22. Madvillain - "One Beer"
23. Jazzanova - "L.O.V.E." / "You & I"
24. Zero 7 - "Distractions"
25. Bilal - "Soul Sista"
26. Common - "8 Minutes to Sunrise"
27. Lootpack - "Frenz Vs. Endz"
28. Nas - "Revolutionary Warfare"
29. Interlude
30. Nas - "Get Down"
31. J Dilla - "Let's Take A Ride"

[download @ Soundcloud]

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

[Article] An alternative version of RAEKWON's "OB4CL2"

On a personal level I have always held Raekwon's marvelous '95 debut "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." to be the single greatest album ever created. An opinion that is not all that unpopular amongst hip-hop heads and music critics, so when the Chef announced plans to produce a true sequel to hsi masterpiece in collaboration with most of the supporting cast of the original music fans everywhere were ecstastic at the prospect. Though the initial recording sessions went down as early as 2005 the project faced label and distribution problems that caused it to be delayed until mid-2009. Within that time a whole lot of changes occured that would transform the original idea behind the project into something else, while the countless recording sessions allowed Raekwon to release a huge amount of mixtapes that made sure the hype didn't die down. I was following the developement of the LP rather fiendishly at the time, snapping up any media reports and digging through every article and interview that I came across. The early articles was also some of the best in increasing the hopes of listeners getting a sequel that could live up to its name. Two of my favorites, and also those who I base much of my own conclusions on, is two interviews with RZA from SCRATCH and Hip Hop Connection, respectively. The piece in SCRATCH is based on a listening session and breakdown of several key songs together with RZA, while the HHC interview only slightly touches upon "OB4CL2" but in doing so reveals important pieces to the puzzle. Both articles were published already back in 2006, giving credence to the fact that a full album was basically completed and ultimately remade before it reached the public. This is the basis for my own writing today, to use all the information available to recreate a possible interpretation of what "OB4CL2" might have been like had it been released when it was originally intended to.

To clarify, I think that "OB4CL2" indeed is a very good album that stands on its own, but that being said it is not, unlike its predecessor, without flaws. In its initial stages, the concept of the album was to have RZA be the main producer steering the ship while additional tracks would be supplied by J Dilla,  Scram Jones, Erick Sermon and a couple of others. However, by the time Raekwon was able to release it this had changed drastically as only two RZA tracks remained on the album ("Fat Lady Sings" was in fact produced by True Master). Now, to me RZA was every bit as integral to the original "Cuban Linx" sound as Raekwon was - and so was Ghostface. To then make a sequel barely carrying RZA's sound is just wrong, like making a sequel to "Carlito's Way" and having Jay Hernandez and Puff Daddy play the leads. However, a big reason for this is that many of the cuts recorded for "OB4CL2" was snatched up, in some cases remixed, and put out as Wu-Tang Clan tracks on "8 Diagrams". I personally believe that is the main reason for Rae's public resentment against that LP, which is totally understandable. So without a main producer and years of building the album, leaving Raekwon with tons of material to consider, the 24 tracks deep LP that was finally released comes off as a heavy, but disjointed almost mixtape like album. This didn't stop me from banging the shit out of it for months after it dropped though as almost everything on it is pure crack and an unbelivable step up from Raekwon's previous outing, 2003:s "The Lex Diamond Story". With that being said I did miss a central sound and the always sharp on-record chemistry between Raekwon and RZA. That begs the question - had it actually been better had the original vision been kept in tact, had RZA not given away tracks for "8 Diagrams", etc.? I personally think the version that I am about to present y'all with, based only on songs confirmed to have been recorded by 2006 or at the very latest 2007, answers that question in the affirmative but you'll be the judge for yourself!

01. "Baggage Handlers" Ft. Busta Rhymes
This was originally pegged as an early single from "Cuban Linx II" and made an apperance on the first installment of Chef's "The Vatican" mixtape series (2006). I initially figured this as more of a street single to build up hype, but conversations about this topic with Seamuz made me change my mind. As an album opener I think it works really well; beginning with a Scarface sample that leads into a real hard knocking banger of pure energy that builds up the anticipation of what's to come... An anticipation that is doubled up with Busta Rhymes raw hook - "YO IT'S CUBAN LINX II MOTHERFUCKERS!!". Some debate about whether this was produced by ?uestlove or J Dilla, however it is clear that Busta figured it a Jay Dee beat (which he, in his role as executive producer, probably presented to Raekwon together with the other Dilla beats that he picked) as he included it as such on "Dillagence".

02. "House Of Flying Daggers" Ft. GZA/Genius, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah & Method Man
Another J Dilla production, structured around a one bar loop that I believe is sampled from RZA's "Ghost Dog" score and mixed down in a real lo-fi manner with the drums and bass line booming and blasting at you. In other words this song is raw as fuck! "House Of Flying Daggers" was mentioned early on as a posse cut with the Clan. In the VIBE article it mentions how GZA and Inspectah Deck had recorded a lot of material for the LP, playing a similiar position as that of Ghost on the first one, and here they make their first, out of several, apperances.

03. "Black Mozart" Ft. Inspectah Deck
Originally titled "Secret Indictment" this Inspectah Deck collaboration was at one point considered to be the next single from the LP, following "State Of Grace". RZA's flip of 'The Godfather' theme is neither original or very creative, but the track has an aura of dark mystique, an intense hook and killer verses from both parties. Great success!

04. "Sonny's Missing"
Produced by Pete Rock, this song was never mentioned in any of the early interviews, though it clearly was recorded back then (perhaps in the same session as "Kids That's Rich"). The reason I know this is because the beat was first heard in early 2008 on Pete's "NY's Finest" where Royal Flush made a great track called "Questions" out of it. Mr. Philips put a light on the situation - "I gave the beat to Raekwon, and it was just lingering for years and years ... I didn't think he wanted the beat anymore, so I used it for my album" (Complex, 2011).

05. "Broken Safety" Ft. Jadakiss & Styles P
This was often mentioned in earlier articles under the title of "Forty Deuce" and is produced by Scram Jones. Jones was also one of the first outside producers, together with Jay Dee, whose work was confirmed for the album, hence their inclusion here. It also fits the vibe of the album very well if you ask me, and hearing The LOX and Wu is always a good thing.

06. "Rockstars & Smoking Barrels" Ft. GZA/Genius & Inspectah Deck
"Rockstars" (which it was renamed for) was discussed in the SCRATCH article and the description made it sound like the most awesome song ever recorded. In 2009 when we were getting real close to the release, Raekwon and the Ice Water team kept posting the tracklist, albeit with slight changes and "Rockstars" was deleted only at the last minute, which is a true shame. This is without a doubt the song that I'm the most disapointed with not being included on the LP. The team of Raekwon, GZA and Inspectah Deck over RZA's laid back, blues inspired production is just fantastic. GZA's storytelling abilities is on another level as proven here.

07. "New WU" Ft. Method Man & Ghostface Killah
Classic Wu vibes on this, the lead single from the 2009 release, and I remember I was gobsmacked hearing this monster jam for the first time. I never saw this track mentioned in interviews back in '06/'07 but since it's a RZA production I figured that it might very well have been done then as all songs obviously wasn't revealed at the time.

08. "10 Bricks" Ft. Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna
Yessir, the Ghost/Rae/Cappa collaboration is definitely a must for a proper "Cuban Linx..." sequel, and "10 Bricks" delivers in every sense. J Dilla is behind the production, and the beat would later be pciked up from a beat tape and modeled into "The Red" remix for Madlib. Once again this particular title was not mentioned to my knowledge but I remember reading an interview with Busta who revealed that Jay Dee had several tracks on there.

09. "Kareem Khan" Ft. GZA/Genius, Masta Killa & Slick Rick
Real stripped down, pounding track that put the emphasis on thick DRUMS and a beautifully structured bridge sampled from Bobby Womack's classic "Across 110th Street". "Kareem Khan" was described in the SCRATCH Magazine article and was luckily kept for inclusion on the final album, although renamed "We Will Rob You". The aforementioned article states that this song was a co-production between RZA and Young Justice (the son of GZA) though the linear notes only credits the latter. I think the first scenario is the more plausible one but who knows. Very ill track nontheless, and I love the intro with Slick Rick (", but I'ma tell you one of them old, Raekwon crime joints").

10. "Baggin' Crack"
As with "Rockstars" this song appeared and disappeared between the various tracklists Raekwon posted before the release of the album - it did survive however. Erick Sermon's involvement with the album was announced in 2006 and as far as I know this is the only known song from them (save for "Goldmine" on Busta's Aftermath LP and the "We Mean Business" cameo). Interesting fact - the constant hacking hi-hat sound is created from looping a razor hitting the table, It does have a West Coast vibe to it which makes for a nice transition into...

11. "About Me"
When Raekwon signed to Aftermath in '06 he went in the studio to record with Dr. Dre. At one point it was said that The Good Doctor would be responsible for a large percentage of the beats on the LP, but to my knowledge only three songs has been revealed to have came out of those sessions. Two of them appeared on "CL2" while a third track, supposedly featuring Busta Rhymes have yet to be released. Although "Catalina" fits the time frame I decided to cut it, simply on personal taste as I never been big on it nor do I find it very "Cuban Linx"-esque. "About Me" is a heavy track though, and more in line with the sound of the LP.

12. "Thug World" Ft. Inspectah Deck & RZA
"Thug World", which was mentioned in the SCRATCH article, is the very definition of a Wu banger; sparse, hard hitting, dark, opens on a movie sample, etc. For this very reason I found it extremely frustrating that RZA completely reworked and remixed it into the psychadelic rock-rap experiment "Unpredictable" on "8 Diagrams": Luckily DJ Allah Mathematics included the first 2:30 of the song on the official promo mixtape preceding the Clan album. This version has been expanded two times by creative and talented fans. The first version extends the snippet by repeating the chorus after RZA's verse and including the full movie sample. The second version, created by Rusty WU Chain on my request, adds the acapellas to Raekwon and U-GOD's verses on "Execution in Autumn" as these verses followed RZA according to Cilvaringz. The only problem is that there's not any clean parts to allow the beat to be looped up in a proper way, so a part of the movie dialouge plays under the two last verses. It's good in the way that you'll get an idea of what the complete original track sounded like. I included the extended version by Hom1e, but be sure to check out the Rae/Uey version HERE (again many thanks to Rusty and Hom1e for their respective mixes).

13. "Weak Spot" Ft. RZA & GZA/Genius
Another song that ended up on "8 Diagrams" but unlike "Thug World" did so virtually unchanged from the mixtape version. In an interview with HipHopConnection in 2006 RZA mentions a track called "Weed Spotz" (probably a misinterpretation by the interviewer) that he produced during the "Cuban Linx II" sessions. Already here RZA was not sure whether they should include it on "CL2" or save it for the next Clan album as it was heavy on the Kung Fu vibe and he wasn't sure if he wanted to mix the Mafia and martial art themes. The version that appeared on the "8D" mixtape in 2007 is different in the way that it is a different mix of the song with a whole lot more emphasis on the strings which is placed a lot more far back on the album version. You can download the mixtape version here (it's actually the superior version, although I went with the album version due to sound quality).

14. "State Of Grace"
This song is correctly titled for sure, it's got a truly majestic vibe although it is based around a simple loop. This reminds me a bit of LL Cool J's comeback single/LP "Mama Said Knock You Out" in that some people had counted Rae out as a solo artist and this track, the first single from the album, let everyone know that he's back and not going anywhere. The chemistry that I mentioned between Rae and RZA is truly in effect here, and despite it having been out for years when "CL2" was finally released it's a shame that this was cut. "Halftime" had been out for a few years when "Illmatic" dropped, imagine they had deleted that because everybody already having heard it.

15. "Mean Streets" Ft. Inspectah Deck & Ghostface Killah
Yet another Inspectah Deck collaboration, underlining the notion that INS and GZA taking on the role of Starks for this sequel. Rebel INS appears on a total of six tracks on this version, while GZA kicks knowledge on four joints (about the same amount of songs he usually rhymes over on Clan LP:s). Produced by Allah Mathematics I remember this joint catching some flack from Wu-Tang fans when the LP was first heard, likely because of the chorus, but for me this is an all around winner. I think the first time I saw this song title mentioned might've been in 2007.

16. "Kiss The Ring" Ft. Inspectah Deck & Masta Killa
"Kiss The Ring" closes the album on the official version which I think is a great choice, as it is a triumphant celebration of a mission completed. Scram Jones on the beat again, and Inspectah Deck is joined by Masta Killa, making sure it's a family affair.

17. "Sunlight" Ft. RZA
Here's one that is likely to suprise a whole lot of people who didn't know about this. Remember the RZA solo track on "8 Diagrams" where he's rapping about the greatness and grace of God, Allah, over a really dark, strange track without drums. This was in fact originally recorded and intended for inclusion on "Cuban Linx II" as some sort of intermission. That is why you'll hear Raekwon on the intro saying "It's fat man, it's fat!". Kind of strange how RZA wasn't sure about mixing the martial arts theme with drug rhymes, but Coke and the goodness of God works fine.

18. "Ason Jones"
Raekwon was at one point listed as one of the guest features on J Dilla's still unreleased (in official format) "Jay Loves Japan" release around 2005. That album is where the instrumental for "Ason Jones" belongs, titled "Believe in God", which makes it possible that "Ason Jones" would've appeared on "Jay Loves Japan". I don't believe that Raekwon would not have included such a personal song on his own album as well, however. A beautiful tribute to the late Russel Jones, this makes for a very powerful outro to the album, something that Raekwon too would agree with as early 2009 tracklists often placed this as the final cut.

00. "No Matter How Hard You Try" Ft. RZA & Inspectah Deck
The song which appeared on RZA's solo album "Digi Snacks" in 2008 had a long journey before ending up as a Bob Digi single. Originally mentioned as part of "OB4CL2" in the SCRATCH article, it was then moved over for inclusion on "8 Diagrams" before being exercised and resurrected for "Digi Snacks". If I remember correctly it also featured Ghostface but as their was quite some turmoil between RZA, Ghost and Rae around that time it's easy to see why their verses were cut. As those verses never have been made available to the public I decided against including it here, but I highly recommend including this somewhere in the middle of "8 Diagrams" whenever you listen to that in digital format.

So there you have it! My revisit of "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Part 2" which I personally think makes for an almost flawless album, and one that is more reminiscent of classic Wu albums - especially "Supreme Clientele". It has a cohessive sound created by having The RZA producing a large chunk of the album (producing eight of the eighteen records), while Jay Dilla and Scram Jones stick to the script by contributing beats that fits the project like a glove. Again bringing up "Supreme Clientele", RZA and Raekwon collaborated on "CL2" in much the same vein. As Raekwon explained to WaxPoetics - "We kept the same vibe. I ain't stupid. I went back and made sure that shit was compatible. RZA sat for hours and guided everyone through exactly what we needed" (WaxPoetics, 2008).' I would love to hear some comments on this to see if people appreciate this alternative version as much as I do, and while you're at it I would strongly recommend checking out my Raekwon compilation "Enter The Vatican". That's a great companion piece to this as it collects all of the, to me, illest mixtape songs by Chef from around 2005-2007. Last but not least, PEACE to Seamuz for the good discussions that led to this post and compilation.

[on the down low]

FAT JOE / BIG PUN / NAS / RAEKWON / JADAKISS - "John Blaze" [Original Mix]

Just an old classic for any music purists that might've missed this gem before. This is the original mix of "John Blaze", the blazing posse cut from Fat Joe's third (and last truly dope) album "Don Cartagena", recorded somewhere between '97 and early '98.  This demo version features a different, very scaled down beat that makes sure all the attention is kept on the immaculate wordplay of these five heavyweight lyricists. What's really interesting is the different Esco verse that sets off the session. The video up top is of course the music video for the album version while the original demo mix, ripped from a DJ Clue tape, is available to download. Shouts to the original ripper of this, and peace to SiccMade for the upload.

Monday, February 2, 2015

CANNIBAL OX Ft. DOOM - "Iron Rose"

Vordul Mega and Vast Aire is back as Cannibal Ox... with a venegance! This sounds incredible and should silent any doubts about the duo's new album not being up to par because El-P dropped out. DOOM went in too, ill combination. "Blade of the Ronin" in stores worldwide March 3.