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Friday, July 29, 2016

BOBBY DIGITAL in STEREO [Revisited / Review]

When discussing RZA as a marvel of Hip Hop production the template that really shows his depth and range is usually accepted to be his work between "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" (1993) and "Wu-Tang Forever" (1997), the two WTC group albums, and the solo albums in between. Those latter projects is what we commonly refer to as the first round of solos, five albums which each offered a unique look into the starring emcee's persona, style and musical preferences - or their respective chamber as the Wu themeselves would call it. The way RZA managed to craft a complete body of work for each individual emcee (that was also distinct from the group projects) which was easily distinguishable from the previous and next projects through their sonic substance and either the samples used or the way they were used. The music created for those albums not only reflected the emcees voices but also a sound which were the musical equivalents of their respective personality. "Ironman" (1996) is a great example. For Ghostface who always had a strong love for the soul classics of the '60s and '70's, RZA used those type of records as sample souces (Al Green, Jackson 5, The Persuaders, etc.) and took a cleaner and more polished approach to the music than he did for Raekwon's hard hitting, red hot street opera released a year earlier. RZA and Ghost even invited Force MD's and Delphonics to add their voices to the album and created their own take of a heartfelt soul classic with Mary J. Blige on the autobiographical "All That I Got Is You". It's no question that this was clearly Ghostface's chamber, his personal work, and RZA did a marvelous job of tailoring it to suit his musical needs. In contrast compare it with Method Man's "Tical" (1994) which was all around super grimey, dark and dusty. Layered with unorthodox sounds, heavy drum programming and such heavy low end that the basslines would damn near blow out your speakers ("Biscuits" is a good example), the close-to-scary darkness that surrounded the songs was the musical equivalent of the blunts dipped in honey that Meth supposedly smoked at the time. Each of the albums RZA produced around this time can be described by pointing out their differences, but it's also important to note that despite each album being easily distinguished from the next, RZA also managed to create them in a way that collectively would help create an unmistakable Wu sound - a sound that to this day has never succesfully been re-created by anyone else (despite superb "interpretations" by people like True Master and Allah Maethematics). 

I would like to challenge this commonly accepted discourse by making a case for the inclusion of RZA's very own solo debut "Bobby Digital: In Stereo" (1998) to be considered as a natural part of the aforementioned first round of albums that defined RZA as a producer and built the Wu-Tang brand. In that case it both marks the end of an era as well as the beginnings of a new one, something that can be said for "Wu-Tang Forever" as well. Coming two years after Ghostface's soulful celebration and embracement of his life, beats and rhymes, RZA went back to his well of inspiration to craft yet another totally individual chamber of sounds within the Wu-Tang pantheon. But this time the resulting body of work would take even the most loyal of followers by surprise as RZA stripped down the majority of what had made him number #1 to the hoards of people who worshippped at his altar - his mastery of creating music from samples. Although his various albums had contained very different styles they all shared the common thread of being sample based music. Around 1996 he had instead begun experimenting with a wide range of keyboards and synthesizers which he dubbed his "digitized orchestra" while also taking up Western music theory. Looking back at the album today and putting it within a wider context we can however see that this wasn't as sudden a transformation as was once believed the first time fans heard the synthesized "B.O.B.B.Y." blast through the speakers. I would say that the earliest precursor that could be considered Bobby Digital material would be the Hide-Out Remix of the Method Man single "The Riddler" (from 1995's Batman Forever soundtrack). Another joint that appeared months before the first single from "In Stereo" is called "And Justice For All..." which was featured on the Razor Sharp compilation "Wu-Tang Killa Beez: The Swarm". Naturally, a lot of the stuff we heard were already beginning to take shape on "Wu-Tang Forever" with its stripped use of samples in favor of digitized keyboards based on chord progressions and European music theory.

With this in mind it's clear that this "new" sound wasn't something that The RZA had haphazardly thrown together with the simple reason of doing away with sample-based music. This was a style that he had been working on and trying to perfect for quite some time, and someone with as good an ear as The Abbot has proven to master a style rather fast. What makes "In Stereo" so intriguing from a production standpoint is that it's still quite firmly rooted in the unpredictability and originality that came from RZA being a producer from starting out as a DJ (basing everything by ear), in contrast to a producer working slavishly from music theory (basing everything on "logic"). This unpredictability is something that RZA to a large degree lost as he became more immersed in Western musical theory, but on here he had yet not truly "got a grip on it" more than the most basic stuff, which allowed him to create a sound that mixed traditional and unexpected elements. Two great examples of this is "Unspoken Word" and "Mantis". On the latter cut he has the fat drums programmed, a repetitive piano loop, and really very little else, until he chooses to use what should, by all natural logic, be an incredibly annoying sound effect that sounds something like a repetitive control tone. This is used to create a kind of melody and is then looped across the entire track. With Bobby, Masta Killa and Tekitha all going hard as fuck the end result is hypnotic in its brilliance. The inclusion of . "Unspoken Word" similarily creates a hypnotic groove out of a fascinating anomali, created by a rock hard, but very short loop with a vocal sample that never gets to finish before it is looped back again. This keeps repeating for 5 minutes straight while RZA spits some of the hardest bars on the album - there's a lot of quotables on here and to me this would've been a better first single than the somewhat mediocre "B.O.B.B.Y.".

Like the preceding Wu-Tang albums he produced "In Stereo" is a very cohessive and thematically tight album. The musical tranks linked by accoustic piano intermissions of spoken words in different languages shouting out Bobby Digital as the worldwide superhero he is. As I mentioned above I was never crazy about the lead single "B.O.B.B.Y.", but from the second song and up to the last song on the thematic closer "Domestic Violence" "In Stereo" plays out like a modern day masterpiece. Similiar to the earlier albums mentioned above, the LP is filled with Wu-Tang Clan members (most generals make an apperance in one way or another - save for Raekwon) and like on the older albums some of the best tracks are the posse cuts and cuts with guests. Perhaps because RZA, though a good rhyme spitter, he's always best when surrounded by emcees of equally high caliber ("N.Y.C. Everything" with Method Man; the Inspectah Deck produced "Kiss Of A Black Widow" with ODB; the posse cuts "Holocaust", "Terrorist" and "Bobby Did It"). It also stands out as it is the first true Clan solo that heavily features what RZA in a The Source article in late '99 called his "C-artists" (Killarmy, Black Knights, North Star, Tekitha, Ms. Roxy, etc.). As such it was the first album that introduced the somewhat legendary Holocaust on a track where he attacked the song so viciously that he got the track (which was originally titled "Silkworm") named after him. Those two posse cuts with Ghost are also among the first two tracks to feature the style that Ghost would attract the whole world to with his "Supreme Clientele" style some 18 months later.

When discussing "In Stereo" as a classic it is important to note that the album features 21 tracks, with the information that the four final tracks are bonus RZA tracks (as in not made in Bobby Digital persona). As such the liner notes makes it clear that "Bobby Digital in Stereo" is finished when track #17 fades out - the excellent artistic and violent expression that is "Domestic Violence". Therefore it should be noted that when I am discussing "In Stereo" as a personal classic and a profound and cohessive musical statement on par with the first round of Wu-Tang solos, those sentiments are based on the front-to-back experience of listening to tracks 1 to 17. While a couple of the bonus tracks does have some merit (especially "Lab Drunk") it makes the album sound dragged out and the two weakest songs on the entire disc finish things off diminishes the artistic statement of the preceding cuts. To end the album on the one-two punch that is "My Lovin' is Digi" and "Domestic Violence" is nothing short of genius - the first one being a majestic string filled affair with beautiful, seductive female vocals and Bobby Digital declaring his love for women and love in general. On the other hand, "Domestic Violence" is the gritty backside of that same coin - where Bobby describes a fallen relationship in the harshest terms possible over a stripped down but gut punchingly hard beat. When the song fades out after over 5 minutes we've been treated to misogynistic rhymes and hateful attack on the former partners as well as a chaotic outro with U-God on the phone interrupting the fighting couple in a most cinematic way. When the song finally ends the sudden sound of silence is almost a relief, and like the moments after you've seen a great movie that had a profound impact on you, you'll sit there reflecting on Bobby Digital and his weird, intense world of hip-hop, drugs, women and violence.

Lastly, on an interesting side note, followers of this blog and Wu-Tang in general know that many artists releases different versions of albums for the Japanese market every now and then. Much like the Canadian release of "Supreme Clientele", the Japan release of "In Stereo" features a different tracklist which I have a hard time reconciling with the well-thought out concepts of the orignal album (or maybe the Japanese tracklist was the original before RZA realized there were more to be done - similiar to another pefectionist who kept shaping his work even after their original releases - Stanley Kubrick). The Japanese version loses all the skits and intros as well as the excellent "Handwriting On The Wall" featuring Ras Kass and RZA which uses the same drum-less "beat" as those interludes. Another song that doens't make the final cut is one of my favorites, the triumphant "My Lovin' is A Digi" which makes "Domestc Violence" so much more powerful. Instead the Japanese got the four RZA bonus tracks spread out across the album (yet the back cover still says that it DOES feature four bonus RZA tracks). But what makes the album really inteeresting for westerners despite being far from as good or cohessive - is the inclusion of the 11 minutes self-produced freestyle "Do You Hear The Bells" and the extended version of "Terrorist" with addiitional verses by Holocaust, Dom Pachino and Killa Sin. On the subject of "Terrorist" you have to admire how Bobby borrowed the bassline of "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta Fuck With" and incorporated it in to the flavor of the digitized orchestra. 
"Do You Hear The Bells" appeared on a free "N.Y.C. Everything" cardboard single with Stress Magazie that my homie Big Rob owned, so I got a high quality FLAC file here of that single for your enjoyment (it's quite large considering one of the songs is an 11 minutes/"freestyle").  And if you're intersted you can check out the original "Bobby Digtai In Stereo" (Japan) tracklist, rip the songs and put them in the proper sequence and see what you think. To my ears the US/European versions are far superior.

01. "B.O.B.B.Y."

02. "Unspoken Word"
03. "Airwaves"
04. "Love Jones"
05. "N.Y.C. Everything"
06. "Mantis"
07. "Holocaust" (Silkworm)"
08. "Terrorist"
09 "Bobby Did It ("Spanish Fly)
10. "Kiss OF A Blak Widow"

11. "Do You Hear The Bells" (9 Minute Freestyle)
12. "Project Talk"
13. "Lab Drunk"
14. "Fuck What You Think"
15. "Daily Routine"
16. "Donestic Violence"

01. "N.Y.C. Everything"
02. "Do You Hear The Bells" (Freestyle)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

[Review / Sampler] ARCHITECT - "Butter Soul"

As one half of the duo Homeless Derelix, West Coast producer Architect has been making underground heads nod to his personal vision of Hip Hop production since the early 1990s, as well as helping to define the sound of indie label 75 Ark. His new release is called "Butter Soul" and is bound to satisy both old followers and new listeners alike. Entirely instrumental (as in devoid of any emcees or singers though it does features vocal samples) Architect crafts what to my ears sounds like a wild sonic Sci Fi flick through samples, beats and loops. Blazing trumpets, suspenseful strings, dreamy Rhodes, booming basslines, power house drums and movie samples are all part of a rather intense menu that's a worthy descendent of the idea of the beat tape as album. Rarely letting a particular beat play for more than one minute "Butter Soul" is sprawling with musical ideas that puts the aforementioned sonic world through constant transformation. Despite the huge number of different sounds, instruments and sampled genres it however never feels unfocused as the producer undoubtedly got a great ear and attacks the suite with a true DJ:s attentiveness to mixing and blending. 

"Butter Soul" is the latest release on Drasar Monumental's Vendetta Vinyl, which is more and more establishing a signature sound, and they have once again chosen to encode all of the music into only two 15 minutes tracks for the digital versions. It's a good choice as this is something you should experience in full, from front to back and perhaps back again. One area where I find too many instrumental Hip Hop album fail in, and where Dilla's "Donuts" was one of the most important projects in changing the course, is the length of beats. Many producers let tracks that hold the listeners attention for a minute and some change without an emcee instead play out for three minutes or more. The tracks within here are not fully formed songs in and of themeselves but rather parts of a larger whole that together creates a complete composition - a composition that is defined as butter soul. Highly recommended!

You can purchase Architect's "Butter Soul" @  Vendetta Vinyl now. Check out the sampler below...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

[Review / Stream] BLU & NOTTZ - "Titans In The Flesh"

Real quality releases have been few and far in between in my honest opinion but one producer I fucks with heavily is Mr. Nottz who caught my attention back when Busta dropped "E.L.E." and from then till now he continues to amaze me. It should be noted that Nottz, like Dilla (who was a big fan himself), is a little more prone to experimenting with different styles than say Large Professor or DJ Premier. As such his catalouge might not be quite as constant in quality as the aforementioned legends but when he's on, he's ON. And listening to "Titans in the Flesh", his new project with celebrated LA wordsmith Blu it quickly becomes evident that Nottz's brings his ON game big time, as does Blu. Over only six joints, a remix by J57, and 26 minutes Blu sounds as home on whatever curve ball headbanger beat the producer throws at him - whether as raw as the funkiest LA low rider banger ("Heaven On Earth") to the most soulful New York boom bap classic ("To The East", "The Man"). Or why not bring both of them styles together like on "Giant Steps" which features an exercise in lyrical futility between the Coasts with Skyzoo, Bishop Lamont and Blu all going for the jugular with the exquisite cuts of DJ Revolution tearing up the turntables being the cherry on top. Not to mention the shout out to John Coltrane - if you know, you know. There's no wack tracks here, just that ill shit that made me fall in love with Hip Hop all those years ago. A big shout out to Nottz and Blu for this monster you made. When your head is constantly nodding for 30 minutes you know that you're listening to real fucking Hip Hop.

If you follow this genre and these particular artist you are of course aware that "Titans in the Flesh" is the follow-up to 2013s "Gods in the Spirit" that featured five original collaborations and a Nottz remix. Though three years separate their release and crafting they work well together as an album, as well as a look into the growth of these two artists and their musical camraderie. Be sure to support good music and go and cop this new project through iTunes if digital is your thing or grab the limited edition Yellow 12" EP from UGHH while you preview the sounds via the official Soundcloud stream up top. "Gods in the Spirit" is also still available on iTunes and on Deluxe Edition CD from UGHH. I strongly recommend listening to both of these projects back to back, shit is absolutely excellent.

[Album] SADAT X - "Agua"

When the world first heard The Brand Nubians 1990 debut album "One For All", notorious for being praised with the much hyped five mics rating in The Source, few would think that Derreck X would be the artist out of that trio to have the highest profile and largest catalouge in a few years. In fact "One For All" treated Lord Jamar and Derreck X as Grand Puba's back up band, and didn't even appear on half of the album. But sometimes the tables turn, through hard work and dedication Sadat X (as he soon after changed his name to) crafted a unique style with an unmistakable voice with lyrics that often dealt with personal feelings and surviving in a world where friends and lovers often turn out to be willing to stab you in the back when you least expect it. The only problem was that he might have started to put quantity over quality a little too much in the last ten years or so.

It's been a long time since I've been really excited about an X album, though I did like his "Love, Hell or Right" album from 2013. Now the New York artist is back with "Agua" sporting a pretty damn impressive cast list of guest producers and emcee partners. How about Pete Rock, Diamond D, Da Beatminerz, Nick Wiz, DJ Scratch, Easy Mo Bee, Fokis, Dub Sonata and Will Tell? What about Lord Jamar, Dres, Edo G, A-F-R-O, Rahzel, Cella Dwellas' UG, Milano, Shabaam Sahdeeq, RA The Rugged Man, and Wordsmith? That's a lot of features and producers and as I haven't had the time to listen yet I'm not sure how cohessive the X-Man has managed to make it sound but one thing's for sure, there's bound to be several real bangers on here to cherish. Probably more than any Sadat X albums in ten years or so. Released on Tommy Boy, the album is available for purchase in both physical and digital form now, and can also be streamed and purchased (both digital and on CD) in full via X's official Bandcamp. One thing though, the last I heard from Sadat X was that he's working on a full-length album entirely produced by Diamond D, and as usual we get one track to show for it. Well, I for one hope it's still coming. But what the hell, with Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz and Nick Wiz I sure as hell can complain. I also wasn't a fan of Will Tell on some earlier X albums, but the single/video "Murder Soundtrack" (above) with AFRO and Rahzel has convinced me has stepped his game up big time. You can also cop the physical from UGHH where you can also see the credits for each track. TURN IT UP!

[Reviews] "Miles Ahead" (O.S.T.) / ROBERT GLASPER - "Everything's Beautiful"

Part 1: Miles Ahead (Original Soundtrack)
A couple years back Don Cheadle finally got the go-ahead to produce, star and direct in his long-time dream project, a surrealistic biopic on the lives of Miles Davis, more fiction than fact and titled "Miles Ahead" after his famous 1957 collaboration with composer extraordinaire Gil Evans. With full cooperation from the Davis estate he was free to use the original music of the portrayed star (something that has hampered biopics badly from the Andre 3000 version of Jimi Hendrix story to the more recent Chet Baker flick, "Born to be Blue", which incidentally includes two key scenes with M.D.). Not only had Cheadle permission to use the music as he saw fit, he was also able to excerpt it and cut it up to better flow with the movie - and let's face it, if he was to include all those amazing 20 minutes tracks in full there wouldn't be much of a soundtrack to talk about. The majority of the released film music is made up of such timeless excerpts from our heroes vast catalouge, including brilliantl, and tastefully shortened, classics like "Sivad", "Nefertiti", "Agharta Prelude", "Go Ahead John", "Black Satin" and "Solea". While the movie avoids following a linear narrative the soundtrack starts with the earliest song included, the title track, and then the music is placed in chronological order with most of the musical action taking place during Miles' fusion years (1968-1975) as that's around the time most of the movies action take place. However if you, like me, already own just about everything Columbia ever released of the man, including bits and pieces, somewhat dodgy live recordings and what not, you might not be too excited. But it has a nice flow to it, is interspersed with appropriate vocal clips from the flick, and as it is placed in chronological order it gives a nice overview of Miles, the ever-changing, daring artist going from place A to place B to place C to Musical Dark Nivana before his total breakdown in 1975. If you're new to Miles and maybe jazz in general I would say that this collection is a better place to start than most other similiar one disc selections. For one it's put together by a true fan of the music rather than some exec trying to pump out some more money by yet antother greatest hits collection, as mentioned above it gives you the chronological oversight which allows you to hear multiple styles (with Miles it's never a given that you're not gonna hate point B even if you love point D - at least not at first), and last but not least it features key cuts from what many would consider to be the epitome of this artists genius years.

The actual score for the film was however provided by Robert Glasper - a brilliant pianist, producer and jazz artist in his own right, and one of the few who keeps the artform alive and exciting by allowing it to change and take risk (unlike someone like Wynton Marsalis, no matter how talented). For this soundtrack Glasper had the right understanding of what was needed and through proper respect for Miles and the filmmakers he was able to channel the spirit of him while gathering up talents as diverse as they are from different generations. Included on the four tracks that are also included on the soundtrack are the young bass wonder Esperanza Spalding, Pharoahe Monch, Herbie Hancock, E.J. Strickland and Wayne Shorter. With one exception the modern Glasper cuts are placed at the end of the album and as ahead Miles was back in the days, you won't even notice a very modern/old transition thing going. The soundtrack come highly recommended both for established fans of the trumpeter, but even more so for those more unfamiliar and curious as well as Glasper's loyal fanbase. Shit either camp need to hear this for the beautiful album closer "Gone 2015" where Robert Glasper's soulful production and keyboard grooves creates a sharp feeling of triumph, strongly underlined by young trumpeter Keyon Harold's channeling of Miles' sound and the excellent verses by Pharoahe Monch. You can buy the album at iTunes or Amazon here.

Part 2: Robert Glasper - "Everything's Beautiful"
Robert Glasper's experience with Cheadle in "Miles Ahead" and especially the estate had a huge impact on him as a life long fan of Miles Davis. Like Madlib when he produced his classic Blue Note remix album "Shades Of Blue" the producer/pianist got full access to the Columbia vaults for whom Miles recorded under exclusive contract bween 1956 and 1986. Although most of those tracks that were once rare have since seen official releases on expensive box sets, it sets the album apart from your average remix scavenger assemly as Glasper could manipulate the actual channels and so forth. An interesting point is that he uses a lot of Miles' voice, that famous raspy whisper, taken from various studio sessions and in-studio jams - allowing fans the relatively quiet musician to hear more of his voice than on any other previous M.D. project. But perhaps the most important aspect to know about "Everything is Beautiful" is that this is a Robert Glasper album in all but name, despite Miles' top billing. The LP's theme is of course Glasper's theme of the music and spirit of Miles, something that I think he sometimes manages to capture and sometimes not, as it's built around samples of the man and his music. But that does not mean that you will hear Miles' beautiful trumpet sound on every song, in fact it's really only on "So Long (Maiysha)" and ONE MORE that we get that and though it's unique it kind of feels like being shortshifted. But it's not only Miles and the trumpet that takes a back seat, Glasper's role as a firs rate jazz pianist is minimized as well as he really only gets to stretch out on a couple of pieces. Instead he is fully attacking this project as a producer, picking the samples, making sure the guests does what they are supposed to do and gets the right track to work on, makin sure the vibe of Miles Davis is to be found all throughout the LP's 50 minutes, and so on.

For me Glasper is a unique artist that is hugely talented but we doesn't always see eye to eye on what a dope album from start to finish is. I liked "Black Radio" and "Black Radio II" quite a lot, but there were definitely tracks that I felt brought down the intensity of the overall product. The best thing in the "Black Radio" series for me is without a doubt the six song EP "Black Radio Remixed" which is just pure excellence from start to finish. And I kind of feel that the same thing is happening with "Everything is Beautiful" - some tracks really gets the jonez in my bones; the wonderful light bossa nova Miles on wah wah / Erykah Badu duet that is "So Long" (a new rendition of 1975's "Maiysha"), the gorgeous Phonte collaboration and first single "Violets" where Glasper makes a beautiful hip-hop vibe soul joint based around Bill Evan's timeless chords from "Blue in Green" that works as a tremendous musical canvas for the ever innovating Phonte. The opener "Talking Shit" is beautiful because it is three minutes of studio outtakes from false starts that features Miles getting on drummer Joe Chambers' case about coming up with a beat more aking to what we today know as Hip Hop. It's definitely fascinating, and naturally leads into Glasper's hip-hop tinged version of that track Chambers and Davis was working on in '69 - "The Ghetto Walk" (originally titled "Ghetto Walkin'") and with the smooth vocals of Bilal riding on top of the fat groove I feel that Miles would be proud. of what the producer has come up with here.

However as a tribute to Miles Davis I think aside from the songs mentioned above it generally fall shorts. Oh wait, there's one mighty groove featuring Miles' spitting adlibs under singer Ledisi's hook ("wait a minute, wait a minute") while a pulsating funk headnodder is highlighted by the excellent electric guitar work of former Miles' sideman John Scofield who does his best to bring back the mid-'80s period where he worked with the man on stages and studios around the world. And this to my mind is where the project goes somewhat misguided. Miles' sideman, which features the absolute elite in jazz, pretty much all had the highest respect for their former boss and bandleader and while Glasper's songs on the "Miles Ahead" soundtrack featured Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, Scofield is the lone sideman featured here. Hence using artists like Laura Mvula, Hiatus Kaiyote, KiNG and Georgia Anne Muldrow (who's rendition of "Milestones" is decent) instead of fusing the old with the new by inviting Dave Liebman, Sonny Fortune, Jimmy Cobb, Chick Corea, Wallace Rooney, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Lonnie Liston Smith, and so on, really feels like a missed opportunity. It's not a bad record per se, but it's not a great one either - though it has it's share of great moments. I won't be purchasing it, but give it a listen it might be more up your alley as many critics seems to love it at the moment. "Everything's Beautiful" is available on vinyl, CD and in digital formats via Amazon among other sites.

Friday, July 15, 2016

RAS BEATS - "Knowledge Of Self" (w. OC & eLzhi) / "Wit No Pressure" (w. Roc Marciano)

A couple of weeks ago I got at least two calls from my people urging me to check out the new Roc Marciano joint produced by a somewhat up and coming producer named Ras Beats. The track in question, "Wit' No Pressure" was classic Marciano, dark, gritty and dirty with a nasty guitar loop and some pounding drums which allowed Roc Marciano to channel his inner pimp and thug to the same extent as on many of my favorite works of his. There's no question Ras Beats and Roc Marciano was a good fit, and though I recognized the name but not from where, I was immediatly hooked for more from this gentleman.

Turns out he's not exactly entirely new to the game, as his sound would already attest to, as he's slowly been making a name for himself as a go-to-producer through works with legends like Sadat X, Masta Ace, Neek The Exotic, and Orlando emcee J-Biz.  Aside from Neek all the aforementioned emcees returns the favor by appearing on Ras' 2016 albumm "Control Your Own".Released on indie label Wordplay the album also sees Ra teaming up wtih Roc Marcy (as mentioned), OC, AG, eLzhi, Rasheed Chappell, Blac-a-stan, Subconscious, Fev and German rapper Kool Sphere. I was hoping for an album with banging beats and insane guests of the caliber of the two first singles, I would be truly flabbergastd at this point. At the same time, I'm not going to judge the book by it's cover (or in this case an LP by its tracklist) so we'll see what happens. Either way it's good news as 2016 has been slow as hell when it comes to Hip Hop ("Timmy Timmy Turner", anyone? "He be wishing for a burner".. "He might even kill everybody walking" - pure Genius, deep stuff).

The B-side to "With No Pressure" features no lesser of a line-up than OC and eLzhi and is called "Knowledge Of Self". To my knowledge this is the first OC and eLzhi collaboration (correct me if I'm wrong) which is kind of strange considering how well their respective smooth voices and intricate rhyme schemes works together. Ras Beats does a great job at creating a smoother, more laid back yet punding which shows that he's very capable of custom making joints. Enough talk, we came here for the music right? Though I never posted the Roc Marciano single before I'm posting this I thought I might as well throw it up as well. The digital maxi single features no less than 9 tracks, including an exclusive remix of "Wit No Pressure". You can buy the single either via Bandcamp or iTunes while you'll get more info and music on Ras via his official website (that includes the tracklist for "Control Your Own". Don't sleep on the heat!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

[Album] SOUNDSCI - "Walk The Earth"

The quintet of Oxygen, Audessey, U-George, Jonny Cuba and Ollie Teeba had me hooked with their modern boom bap as displayed on their official debut "Formula 99" back in 2012 and has been a dedicated fan since. Since then they have released several EP:s, side projects and their concept album "Soundsational" where the group found inspiration from the underrated catalouge of James Kirkland. Now the group is back with their third official album and it's just as fierce as their previous work, with the emcees bouncing off eachother over raw, yet often soulful production from The Process (Cuba and Teeba). Check it out for yourself as you can stream the project below. I doubt you'll be dissapointed and make sure to visit the official Bandcamp Page for Merch, info and purchase of the project.

Monday, July 11, 2016


This was released almost two weeks ago but I've been sleeping heavily so if anyone else missed out on this excellent official compilation here's another chance to grab once heavily praised Queensbridge emcee Nature's self-put together "album" of some of his finest '90s collaborations and guest spots. Featrures include Tragedy, Blaq Poet, Nas, Noreaga, Pete Rock, Littles, ACD, E Money Bag$ and AZ. Definitely worth a download and a few nostalgic listen - I'm especially hyped to see that Future Flavaz remix that Pete Rock did for "Ultimate High" though I haven't checked yet if he managed to secure the mater tapes for it for this because that would really be something. I think Nature caught a lot of unwarranted flack for the reason that a lot of heads conceived him as the reason that Cormega got pushed out of The Firm but that was hardly in his hands. Enjoy this one y'all; unfortunately no download link as of yet, but stream all you want for free.

D.I.T.C STUDOS Ft. Tashane & A-Bless - "Bars 4 Dayz"

When Showbiz lost his room in the legendary D&D Studios / HeadCQuarterz Studios which had been his home since around 1995 he decided to find a new home studio, dubbing it the D.I.T.C. Studios and since then we have got the first proper Diggin' album for more than 15 years. Add to that a lot of Soundcloud material teasing us with some real heat. One of the greatest thing is that Showbiz is letting loose of all the banging material he produced for Tashane, a super hungry emcee, that seemed to pull the best out of Show in a way I feel he hasn't always been able to do for AG and his DITC brethren lately. The latest release is called "Bars 4 Days" and features Tashane & A-Bless going in over one of those dark, lovely Showbiz beats that made him one of my favorites way back when. Salute!

[Slept On Classics / EP Comp] LL COOL J - "14 Shots To The Dome"

LL Cool J has had a pretty strange career and these days he's almost all absolte (although I was one of the few who actually found a lot to like on "Exit 13"), but his early work from 1985 to 1995 brought him up to legendary status and that can never be taken away from him. From his incredible debut "Radio" which revolutionized the way Hip Hop was supposed to sound with its minimalist production (reduced by Rick Rubin), the young LL's sure shot flow and cocky lyrics delivered with that unmistakable voice and flow - man that was something else. "BAD" was another good album, but it didn't quite pack the punch of his debut although it featured several cuts that was on the same level as the debut. The rauncy lyrics was still there, and having switched producers to the L.A. Posse which featured the extremely talented and severely underrated DJ Bobcat, a long wwith Dwayne Simmons and sometimes DJ Pooh the album featured an unmistakable raw sound best exemplified on the title track, the fun rock anthem meets DJ extravaganza "Go Cut Greator Go", the storytelling (although basic) on "The Bristol Hotel" and "My Rhyme Ain't Done" and the powerhouse performance of "Ahh, Let's Get Ill". This was LL's true breakthrough album and the main reason was both it's strenghts and biggest failure - "I Need Love". A sugar sweet love serenade, not much more hardcore than anything from Michael Boltons catalouge it had girls going crazy but alienated many of his street fans that came up on "Rock The Bells", "I Can't Live Without My Radio" and "I Need A Beat". The success of "I Need Love" would be a blessing and a curse if I ever saw  one - it gave LL's first real hit single, and it made him realize that he should go after the ladies more with these sugar sweet hip-hop ballads. On the other hand, I respect it because it was a niche that hadn't been done to that extreme before and it was imporant in thoe days that each big rapper had a gimmick or niche of his or their own.

The follow-up "Walking With A Panther" was as misguided as can be on so many levels, and it showed a clear disconnect on what LL thought his fans wanted from him and what society in large wanted from an Hip Hop emcee at that time. The cover sported him with a black panther, clearly trying to casch in on the Black Power movement label mates like Public Enemy was fully immersed in. The problem was that except for a couple of Bomb Squad productions the album was filled with braggadocious rhymes and songs aimed for the ladies. And on top of that he cut the two best tracks from the LP - the Rick Rubin produced "Going Back To Cali", "Jack The Ripper" and the classic LL "Crime Stories" (they all turned up on the cassette only). With this LP people were definitely counting out Uncle LL, but as the artist he was he wasn't let one wack album halt his career. Instead he got with the hottest producers of day; fellow Queens/Juice Crew superstar Marley Marl and produced one of the best comeback albums hip-hop has ever seen in "Mama Said Knock You Out" - it featured "Around The Way Girl", but that was more New Jack Swing than sugary ballad and otherwise it was filled with hardcore Hip Hop joints, impeccable lyricism, funky beats, and one of the most powerful Hip Hop singles ever recorded - the title track, produced by Bobcat and Marley Marl. This was a triumphant return if I ever saw one!

But how do you follow up such greatness? LL continued working with Marley Marl and Bobcat (as well as relative newcomer QDIII), and right from the first track - "This Is How I'm Comin'" with it's powerhouse knockout of a beat, pounding bassline and agressive flow it was clear that this was an attempt to create "Mama Said..." the sequel. To my ears it certainly works, I absolutely love that record to death. There were some suspect cuts like "Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Gettin' Crushed By Buildings" (you'd have to look for a more hamfisted metaphor - the remix by Easy Mo Bee which was used by Easy Mo Bee was straght fire though), "Stand By Your Man" and "Back Seat Of My Jeep". The main criticms of the album at the time was that critics and some fans felt that LL was overly influenced by Treach of Naughty By Nature and tried to become somewhat of a thug rapper. To me this was never a problem, at all, LL is a actually a good actor and when he rhymes stuff like "Saber tooth, the truth/ Ha-coot, spit the juice!/ And let the hot ass lead loose and let it fly/ Betty bye bye if you're ready to die" I don't feel he's more inauthentic than the vast majority of these studio gangsters out here everywhere. And he got the flow and beats to back it up - matter of fact, flow wise and some of the production is even heavier than it's masterpiece of a predecessor.

I'm writing this post to give the album the credit I think it really deserves as it has been put down so much. I can imagine alot of people in this day and age have considered buying it, looked at the reviews and felt that it wasn't for them. But tracks like the [uncredited] K-DEF productions "Funkadeli Relic", "Straight From Queens" and the Lords Of The Underground assissted "No Frontin' Allowed" stands among LL's most fierce productions of all time and I can't see how any LL fan can dismiss these bangers out of hand like that. Not to mention the album closer "Crossroads" - a continatuion of the final track of "Mama Said..." ("The Power Of God") but with LL going much deeper showing that he's far from a a one- or two trick pony, and all set over one of Bobat's most ambitious productions of all time. Here's what he had to say about its making - "One of the greatest records that LL and I have ever done is called “Crossroads” and it’s on that album. I used a full harmonic orchestra on that record in New York. We used 105 tracks on this song. This song is the most complex and unbelievable masterpiece I have ever created ... Go back and listen to that. I personally know that it would have taken LL’s career to the next level because you know you can only stay at a street level or mainstream level for so long and then it’s over with. You’ve got to go somewhere else with your sound and that song I believe would have taken him to that next level." (Source) It's the perfect album closer to an already intense albums that showed more range from LL than perhaps any other album he's done either since and when LL stopped working with DJ Bobcat and Marley Marl he only had one truly great album left in him ("Mr. Smith" - though I know that's debatable to some). The only true missteps of the album is that they couldn't include K-DEF's absolutely mindblowing creation for the album "Year Of The Hip Hop" and the oriiginal Dr. Butcher version of "Soul Survivor"... Oh well, you can't win them all!

If you are or used to be a fan of LL and had heard a lot about bad things about this, or just dismissed it out of hand on its original release be sure to give it another chance because to my mind this and "Mama Said Knock You Out" are sister albums and perhaps LL's three finest albums along with "Radio". One thing's for sure, he pumped out true quality classics for a 10 year period then had some quality albums and singles throughout the years so no matter how much BS he continues to release at this point he will always be a legend in my mind. Below you'll find a selection of five songs that are either remixes of songs on the album (the three first songs), one song that didnä't make the final cut because of sample clearance issues and a 1993 remix he did as a favor to Mary J. Blige feauring a short LL verse which I added as a bonus to this EP comp. Enjoy!

01. "Pink Cookies" [Easy Mo Bee Remix]
02. "Stand By Your Man" [Hip Hop Remix 1]
03. "Stand By Your Man " [Hiip Hop Remix 2]
04. "Year Of The Hip Hop"
05. "Mary Jnae (All Night Long Remix)"  [*]


[Revisited] RAKIM - "The Seventh Seal" (2009)

Damn, a few years ago I stumbled across an extremely rare Rakim track by some DJ that had uploaded it to YouTube that was absolutely bonkers but I forgot to post it for y'all and know I can't find it anymore. I'm gonna get my detective on, but in the meantime I want to get on some throwback shit while discussing his LP "The Seventh Seal". Said album is a good LP in my book, the rhymes are definitely there and it features personal future classic like "Walk These Streets", "Still in Love", "Dedicated" (say what you want about that No Doubt sample, that shit was heartfelt as hell), "Workin' For You" (whew), "Holy Are You" (oh my god) and "Man Above". Then there were the good (and in a few cases even great) but not outstanding masterpieces like "Documentary Of A Gangsta", "Won't Be Long", "Satisfaction Guaranteed", "Put It All To Music", and so on. The only joint I felt was outright wack juice was the cringe worthy rock influenced "How To Emcee" with kicked off the album nontheless and I'm sure gave a lot of heads a bad taste right from jump.

Now don't get me wrong, "The Seventh Seal" is a solid album and it's a lot better album than many claim it to be, but after a eight year hiatus following a somewhat overrated album called "The Msater" (yet it's underrated in many circles as well) I had definitely hoped for more although at the time I tried to tell myself it was a better album than it really was. It needed more bangers, it needed more New York grit, and in many cases it needed better beats. Lyrically it was all there and as Rakim, along with a very select few others (Nas, KRS-One, Ghostface) are able to keep your interest over a mediocre beat it's a worthy addition to his discography and I sure it's not his last. He did some dope records on Aftermath that has subsequently leaked but as he has explained the chemistry with Dre wasn't there so that's understandable, though I would liked for him to include "After You Die" and "Welcome to the Hood" on the album, as well as the four studio tracks that appeared only a few months before on that Live & Unreleased CD.

It became even more apparent that Ra had lost some of his impeccable ear to the streets when it was revealed that "What's Wrong", his collaboration on Marco Polo's "Newport Authority 2" was actually a scrapped joint from "The Seventh Seal". Like WTF, along with "Holy Are You" and perhaps "Still In Love", that would have been the real boom bap banger the album was in such a despeare need for. Add to that not only that but that also a slamming, hard grooving posse cut laced by Ty Fyffe called "Euphoria" was scrapped from the album in favor of being some Mp3 exclusive it just left a sour taste in my mouth. I know you have heard these joints before, but consider this tracklist for "The Seventh Seal" and tell me it's not would have made for a stronger album. Ra definitely need a good executive producer these days, and to tell you the truth he has needed one since he and Eric B. split up. And that is not to say that he's not still the God MC and has put out PLENTY of hot wax throughout the years but as far as albums goes his legacy would benefit from one classic disc. Check this tracklist brothers and tell me this wouldn't be a lot closer to an album fitting of this great of the greats legacy? Considering that the album has been out for so long I took the libery of uploading this version, if Ra or any from his camp feel this is a violation I will take it down immediatly, and either way it won't be up for long - I just want to give a chance for my beloved readers to get a chance to what in my opinion could have been. Feel free too comment! To me this is a much, much better balance of Ra's spiritual side which he conveys great on many of these songs, but strays to far away from his cassic styles when it comes to balancing the smoother joints with the boom bap his fans have come to expect. Please comment after listening - all songs on this was done and most likely at one point considered for "The Seventh Seal". Also having Nick Wiz, the ultra unterrated producer and long time Ra collaborator, produe just over half the tracks gives this exclusive Lost Tapes version a more coherrent feel to my ears. What do you think?

01. "What's Wrong" [prod. by Marco Polo] [*]
02. "Walk The Streets" (Ft. Maino)
03. "Documentary Of A Gangsta" (Ft. YQ)
04. "Man Above" (Ft. Tracey Horton)
05. "Hip Hop" [prod. by Nick Wiz] [*]
06. "Love For Sale" [prod. by Nick Wiz] [*]
07. "Holy Are You" [prod. by Nick Wiz]
08. "Working For You"
09. "Word On The Street" [prod. by Nick Wiz] [*]
10. "Message in The Song" (Ft. Destiny Griffin)
11. "Love For Sale" [prod. by Nick Wiz] [*]
12. "Euphoria" (Ft. Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Styles P & C. Chanel) [*]
13. "Psychic Love" [prod. by Nick Wiz]
14. "Still in Love" [prod. by Nick Wiz]
15. "Dedicated" [prod. by Nick Wiz]

RAKIM - "The Seventh Seal" [c7 update]

ROBERT GLASPER Ft. E. BADU & MILES - "So Long (Maiysha)"

As you should know by now I'm a huge fan of the real jazz music which takes so many forms, and with artists like Kendirck Lamar, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Roland Bruner Jr., Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Ravi Coltrane, to name a few to my ears jazz is in a better, more comfortable, forward thinking position than it has been in years. Miles Davis is one of my top 1-3 top artists all categories, he was just beyond the category of musical genius and at this time I have a collection of about 60 CD:s and albums (counting my many boxsets as one album despite them having between 20 and 4 CD:s each) and though we will never get to hear brand new Miles music, there's still ocassional remix type projects being sanctioned by the estate, giving them a seal of approval. Some of them are strictly wack and should be avoided at any costs but some like Bill Laswell's "Panthalassa" and now Robert Glasper's "Everything is Beautiful" are both things of beatuies (hence the latters name).

Robert Glasper worked with Miles newphew Vince Wilburn Jr, the estate and Columbia Legacy and was given complete acess to original mastertapes that had been collecting dust for years. Glasper, being the experimental artist that he is, took a very different approach in remixing and updating these old original reels than say Madlib did for his (excellent) "Shades Of Blue"). As he has explained in interviews he wasn't interested in producing a regualr Miles remix albums, with Miles trumpet flowing over his production and piano workouts. Instead he dug out samples of Miles' voice, some trumpet playing, some keyboard playing, reworked famous riffs from classics like "Milestones" and made a very succesfull album if you ask me. Just yesterday, the first official video from the project was released (although the excellent Phonté assisted "Violets are Blue" were released as an audio single only; same goes for the John Scofield assisted "I'm Leaving You"). The music clip in question is a funny as hell take on the Erykah Badu assisted "Maiysha (So Long)" which is one of the few, if not only song on the LP, where Badu excusitely solos with the long decased artists. Mies is smiling down on this hilarious video which also shows Eyrkah's acting chops a bit... Enjoy haha. And don't forget to support Robert Glasper and the Miles Davis foundation by buying the album @ iTunes, Amazon or any store of your choice.

[Comp] JAY-Z, DMX & JA RULE - "Introducing Murder Inc. '95-'99"

The debate about commercial Hip Hop vs mainstream Hip Hop was as hot a topic back in the second half of the '90s that it is today, and I sure took a stance against many artists that I later had to backtrack on and admit I had been sleeping on some serious talent. It was nothing as watered down as the mainstream bullshit we hear today though - trust me I will never backtrack on calling out wack juice artists like Chief Keef, Rick Ross, Lil' Durk, Stitches, the entire Trap movement, and so on and so on, but back in the days a popular emcee like Jay-Z and later Eminem had underground heads divided while failing to realize (or denying) their immense talent.

With that out of the way any serious Hip Hop fan not too wet behind the ears knows that Irv Gotti's original plan for his Murder Inc. group was a trio album featuring Jay-Z, DMX and Ja Rule. Now the latter is an artist I still don't have much respect for, as I really feel he never did anything worthwhile but listening to some of his verses from back in like '95 he did have some semi-hot shit on the table nontheless. There were some bad blood between DMX and Jay-Z and between Ja Rule and DMX and though songs were recorded they remains unreleased til' this day. We only got "Murdergram" on the "Streets Are Watching" soundtrack, "It's Murda" on Ja's '99 LP "Venni Vetti Vecci" and a couple of older, perhaps a little more rare (to the not initiated underground head) records like their meeting with Mic Geronimo on the excellent "Time to Build". This is well known to be the first record all three of these guys first appeared and was produced by Irv Gotti like the rest of the records (whereas some were co-produced by Ty Fyffe). Well, it used to be well known but it turns out that there was what is perhaps an earlier record, or at least recorded around the same time, called "If It's On, It's On". The '95 underground sound is evident as it's a vintage posse cut starring Jay-Z, Ja Rule (who damn near steals the show), DMX (who also KILLS it), Jaz-O, Black Child (turning in a memorable performance) and someone called Nemesis. The latter two and Ja were part of an early mid-'90s group called Cash Money Click and the song made it's only apperance on a dodgy bootleg called "Freaknik' 96" as a C.M.C. track featuring JZ (with no mention of Jaz-O or DMX). Up until a couple of days ago I never in my life had heard this piece of Hip Hop history.

I know some people give me the cold internet eye (haha) whenever I put something on about Jay-Z but fuck it he was one of the most talented emcees to ever pick up a mic at one point and though bullshit records like "Blueprint 3" and "Magna Carta Holy Grail" should have been left unreleased, I will never discredit his early work. Therefore I have put together a 320 kbps compilation of all the Jay-Z/DMX/Ja Rule collabos from '95 to '99, some of them only featuring DMX and Jay-Z, some featuring all three of them and then some, and some featuring only Jay-Z and Ja Rule. Download if you want, if not at least check out the YouTube clip on the rare "If It's On..." joint up top and leave it at that and feel free to flood my guestbook on why I am a dickrider for digging Hova. 

01. "If Its On, Its On" (Ja Rule, DMX, JayZ, Jaz-O, Black Child, Nemesis) [1995]
02. "Time To Build" (Mic Geronimo, Jay-Z, DMX & Ja Rule) [1995]
03. "Murdergram" (Jay-Z, DMX & Ja Rule) [1998]
04. "Money, Cash, Hoes" (Jay-Z & DMX) [1998]
05. "Why We Die" (Busta Rhymes, DMX & Jay-Z) [1999]
06. "Blackout" (DMX, Jay-Z, The LOX) [1998]
07. "The Grand Finale" (DMX, Ja Rule, Nas & Method Man) [1998]
08. "Gangsta Shit" (DJ Clue presents Ja Rule & Jay-Z) [1998]
09. "More Money, Cash & Hoes" (Jay-Z, DMX, Beanie Sigel & Bleek) [1999]
10. "Mudergram" (Jay-Z, DMX & Ja Rule)

INTRODUCING MURDER INC. (The '95-'99 Recordings)"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I remember first hearing Brand Nubian's sophomore album "In God We Trust" and being blown away by the beats and rhymes - matter of fact this was my first introduction to Brand Nubian. Sure as a white guy, it took some critical thinking to truly get past some of the more outrageous things said, but once I understood that it's not all a matter of black and white (though it of course plays a big part), I started understand the incredible chemistry, production and lyrical onslaught that these two guys possessed. At the time the group only consisted of Lord Jamar and Sadat X with DJ Sincere, as Alamo and Grand Puba had fled after the group's other members felt they were underepresented on their classic debut "One For All" - which they definitely were; while Puba was on 14 out of 16 songs, the other two members where on about half of that. "One For All" was like a Grand Puba album guest starring two of his protogés on a bunch of tracks - ultimately, Jamar and Derric X (as we called then) received one solo track each, but out of the 16 songs on the CD edition, no less than 7 of them were Grand Puba solo joints in all but name. 

While the entire group all were heavily indoctrined in 5% ideology Puba had always been the fun-loving, laid back super slick rhymer, Derric X was the introspective MC who touched upon the perils of his and people in his personal lives, while Lord Jamar was the most political outspoken (and remains so to this day). So when Grand Puba went, many people thought the group would just fizzle out. Hell no, was the response of the remaining memebers, creating an album almost as a revenge to show that they could do it with or without the veteran Masters Of Ceremony almuni. The first hting they needed were a good producer, as Grand Puba had produced nearly all of the debut, with a few notable exceptions - three tracks was laced by Dante Ross' production team the SD50's and Dante was still with them as managerss by the time of "In God We Trust") and the song "Ragtime" was produced by Skeff Anselm, a regular alumni at Jazzy J's infamous studio where countless Hip Hop classics were created back in those day. Oh and Dave Hall produced that horrible New Jack Swing track "Try To Do Me". Speaking on the creation of the album with, Jamar told a no-names-given story of how it was decided that one of the producers who had worked briefly on the first record. In Jamar's word this producer kind of looked down on these two young artists, and demanded an incredible high price for each beat which would totally fuck up the budget. The producer wasn't called out by name, but it's pretty easy to figure out that it was Skeff Anslem considering that Dante Ross and SD50's was sitll involved in the making of the later albums (although in a background capacity). 

Instead Lord Jamar picked up a dusty SP1200, and a long with the record collection between the trio and their families, asked Dante Ross and some of the engineers to show him the ropes (although it's clear that he took a keen interest in the process already on the first album). The result was a much less polished album, one with all the roughness and grittiness of someone relatively new to production, but you couldn't deny the talent as Lord Jamar clearly had an ear for hot samples and the result was a much darker and more militant album than the first one. "In God We Trust" is a straight-up militant hardcore album, from the accoustic bass heavy boom bap opening of "Allah U Akbar" to the Diamond D produced Rocky sampling all-time classic "Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down" (i'm personally a huge fan of the album version while many dismiss it in favor of the single remix): and this was reflected in both the lyrics and production. Whereas "One For All" had plenty of 5% idelology it was balanced out with some fun tracks and some less-serious party anthems, whereas "In God We Trust" was Sadat X and Lord Jamar getting straight up in your face with their beliefs over earth shattering beats. It was an unexpected success amongst true heads for sure.
In 1994 the trio (with DJ Science) released the critically (severely) misunderstood "Everything is Everything" which to my ears is even better - a dividing album that is in some circles cited as the worst Brand Nubian album of all time, and in some circles as the absolute illest. To me it's closer to the latter; save for a song by Buckwild, Lord Jamar again handles all the beat making and it's now evident that he really got a grip of how to really produce sick records. The material and mixing is slicker, and there's a brilliant strangeness in the sample choices from unexpected sources such as The Average White Band, Simply Red and The Fuzz along with more typical sample stapes of the time like Lou Donaldson, George Benson and Luther Ingram.Not to mention the Simply Red sampling/covered single "Holdin' On", which has caught some hate but which I always loved. The group reuinted with Puba and released "The Foundation" in 1998 (a very good album but not as coherrent as the predecessors, despite having D.I.T.C. and DJ Premier on board), and later a forgettable LP called "Fire in the Hole". Oh and don't forget to check out his one and only solo album, "The 5% Album", featuring guest and production from Preservation, Bronze Nazareth and several Wu-Tang Clan alumni.

I've been wanting to make a compilation of Lord Jamar material and the main reason is that these youngings don't know how dope this guy really. They know him from fucking DJ Vlad's BS gossip interviews that NEVER focuses on music (doens't matter who he's talking to) - it's like the TMZ of Hip Hop - and guess what Vlad is on record saying stuff that Nas only has one good album, not any songs that could rival "New York State Of Mind", and that the best hip-hop single in the last 10 years or so happens to be "Lollipop" by Lil' Wayne. So for the sake of Hip Hop, a compilation like this is much needed to give Lord Jamar his proper credit.  The album focus mostly on Jamar's excellent prodction work throughout the late '90s for acts like Shabazz The Disciple, dead prez, Red Foxx and UGK, intersperesed with some fine guest apperances. The compilation is bookended by two of my favorite Jamar focused joints on "Everything...", something I rarely do but these two tracks are just too good and as I know a lot of people are hesitant to give this even a chance I think it works well in the context. "Return Of The Dread" is a perfect opener as it's a Jamar solo tracks and discusses beats that's pancake fat - how could you go wrong with  that. The final song, "Claimin' I'm A Criminal" is not only one of the Nu's best songs but one of the more heartfelt hip-hop joints of all time... So withour further due, download, press play, and enjoy "The Devil & His Couch" and turn that militant shit way up brothers and trusted readers.

01. Brand Nubian - "Return Of The Dread"
02. Daddy Dogg Ft. Dead Prez - "Bluesanova" [Dead Prez Remix]
03. Artifacts Ft. Lord Finesse & Lord Jamar - "Collaborations Of Mics"
04. Shabazz The Disciple - "Prelude to Pestilence" (Interlude)
05. Shabazz The Disciple - "Street Parables" (Ft. Lord Jamar)
06. Dead Prez - "Propaganda"
07. Kool G Rap Ft. Lord Jamar & Talib Kweli - "Oz Thme 2000"
08. Sadat X Ft. Brand Nubian - "The Lump Lump" [Nubian Mix]
09. Shabazz The Disciple - "The Link..." (Interlude)
10. Shabazz The Disciple - "Organized Rhyme Pt. II"
11. Red Foxx - "What The Girls Want" [Raggamuffin Hip Hop Mix]
11. UGK Ft. Keith Murray & Lord Jamar - "Live Wires Connect"
13. Brand Nubian - "Lick Dem Muthafuckas" [OG Mix]
14. Dead Prez - "The Pistol"
15. Lord Jamar - "The Sun"
16. Brand Nubian - "Claimin' Im A Criminal"

All tracks produced by Lord Jamar except:
03 prod. by Lord Finesse, 07 prod. by Domingo, 08 prod. by Buckwild


Monday, July 4, 2016

[NEW] GZA/GENIUS - "The Spark"

I rarely post singles these days when I do it's something that holds a lot of personal value to me. Since GZA's new single "The Spark" is the first full track on the subject of his "Dark Matter" album, this is incredible.. he's surgically on point with the rhyme scemes, concepts and listening to this first joint for the first time I was immedatiely flabbergasted by both the production and rhymes on "The Spark" which really compliment eachother. GZA is the most talented dude in the Clan, and one of the true pioneers and such, and his voice and energy (when it gets it right proves that he's an absolutely ecellent emcee - you don't get the nickname by accident. And as such he's often more of a genius now than he was during the Wu's beginnings.

 While fans complained immensely on 2008:s "Pro Tools", not because it was bad produced, badly written or held together like a weak project - but GZA's drowsy voice and  the feeling he wasn't really into it anymore (one exception was the excellent True Master laced "Alphabets"). With "Dark Matter" (as it is called, and will be released on BabyGrande) its clear that he has never before worked as hard on an album before lyrics wise.... So it might still be some time before we get it. But as long as we get quality I'm happy waiting. It's also clear that some of the lyrics he wrote for the album appeared on "A Better Tomorrow" which means he has written more verses that are better than what he started with, and his verses on tracks on there were fierce for the most part.

The song is produced by Paul Ryder of alternative rock band Happy Mondays but it does certainly not have a indie rock vibe to it - this is pure hip-hop. Fans on boards speculated it might be a DJ Muggs beats before the credits were revealed. The single is available on iTunes now but is originally a project for NASA's collaboration with Apple Music to curate a playlist for its Juno Mission who's unmanded probe is set to reach Jupiter's orbit today (July 4). Check out the YouTube stream up top and if you want to support for the cause you can head over to iTunes and purchase the song.

"THE SPARK" @ iTunes