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Thursday, March 31, 2011

New "Finding Forever" left-over unearthed

To me Common is one of the greatest lyricists of our time and it's been that way ever since he released his first classic LP, 'Resurrection', in 1994. People might have this image of him being soft which is all wrong, he preaches love, talks about societies ills and ain't afraid to show and preach love and a voice like that is very important. Plus there's nothing more real than having the guts to be yourself all the way, at the same time he got hardcore lyrics too and he's a pretty big guy and i'm sure he wouldn't hesitate to knock a sucker out trying to come at him. He had a very interesting career too; i love albums that's done by an MC with a producer/producer-team and with his first three albums No I.D. handled the beats lovely. After his move to New York he released my favorite album of his, 'Like Water For Chocolate' which was mainly produced by Jay Dee with a little additional help from Soulquarian's which were his crew anyways at the time and that one banger from DJ Premier. The next album was once again Dilla and The Soulquarians handling duties with Com' going somewhere no other rapper dared go before, 'The Electric Circus' - one of those albums you either love or hate and it seemed a lot of people hated it but it seems to have gotten some kind of redemption over the years.

But each album is necessary to be made to be able to make the next and that's why the critically acclaimed Kanye West and Dilla produced 'BE' could've never happened if it wasn't for the above mentioned Circus. 'BE' was easily one of the best albums of the last decade and a very important one at that, plus he was taking it back to the essence of the old school with gorgeous soul samples, important messages and making sure the album didn't have no extra fat - 11 tracks, 40 minutes and that's it, more artists should take heed to this. If Saigon would've worked out a similiar plan for his 'Greatest Story' he might very well have had a future classic on his hand right now (this is a subject I will write more about in the future). By the time of 'Finding Forever', Dilla had passed away and ony had one beat on there and the rest was mostly Kanye. It's a good album but not as classy as it's preecedor. There's been a few leaked tracks over the last few months now that for some reason didn't make the cut that could've improved the album big time, mainly through "Strange Fruit". I choose to include this together with the newly leaked F.F. track called "Follow Me Now" and the iTunes bonus 'Play Your Cards Right'. 'Follow Me Now' wasn't really essential to the album but it's a good summer jam and as the weather is gearing up towards a real spring this comes in timely.

This post is already too long but I just want to say that while I praised Common heavily in this post, he did drop one album after 'Forever' which was produced by Pharell Williams of The Neptunes. That was so dissapointing I could barely stand making it through one time, neither lyrics or beats were what a Common supporter would want to hear from him and with the amount of flack he caught for that bullshit release one can only hope he tries to redeem himself with his next LP. Good news is that it's been announced he's working with No I.D., Kanye West and Dug Infinite for the next one, back to Chicago style. Hopefully that's not just empty promises but we'll just have to wait and see. Ok, i'll shut the fuck up now and leave you to the music.


COMMON - "STRANGE FRUIT" (Ft. John Legend)


12" Throwback(s): JUGGAKNOTS / M.B.P.

This two vinyl only releases quickly became out-of-print and rarities, which is a shame since they are both straight up incredible. The first one is from Money Bo$$ Players, with their extremely hardcore street'mini album "Ghetto Chronicle Daily". This was back when underrated producer Minnesota handled the majority of the beats and was a full time member of the group, as was brillaint emcee Lord Tariq together with Tray Bag and Eddie Cheeba - all repping the Bronx to the fullest with that gritty New York sound we all love. The extened EP/features no less than seven songs that hold up all the way through and with track titles like "Death Of A Salesman", "Used to Fear Death (But Not Anymore)", etc. it's easy to see why no major label wanted to push this and the group kinda fell into obscurity. This was until two of the original members reunited as the duo Bo$$ Money and in a way became DITC affiliates. Appearing on their compilation "The Movement" besides dropping their rare solo album, "Consignment", which I strongly recommend, They also appeared on pretty much every Sadat X albums between 1996 and 2009 and their work on the UK's The P Brothers album, "The Gas". That album was some of the sickest, releast shit released in 2008. Come to think about it I need to do a proper Bo$$ Money compilation to wake you out of your coma. The "Ghetto Chronicle Daily" rip below is lifted from a white label vinyl press so the sound quality ain't all that but it's definitely worth hearing. All tracks and cuts produced by Minnesota; vocals by Eddie Cheeba, LordTariq and Tray Bag.

A1. "Use to Fear Death"
A2. "Ghetto Chrornicle Daily"
A3. "Sat. Nite / Sunday Morning"
A4. "What You Saying?"
B1. "Nighty Nighty"
B2. "Stick N Step"
B3. "Death Of A Salesman"
B4. "Ghetto Chronicle Daily" [Instrumental]
B5. "What You Saying?" [Instrumental]

The second incredible, but sadly forgotten, and by noq is out-of-print. The release I want to focus on is the original Juggaknots album that was released in 1996 on 'Fondle 'Em Records, and if I recall right that was Bobbito's short-lived record label who also put out DOOM's first album. The self-titled mini abum features 9 songs that all hold a very high quality and this was before lady Heroine had joined the group so they were still just a duo with Breezly Breewin and his brother BMS. There's plenty of underground masterpieces on here, such as "Trouble Man" (my favorite which samples an absolutely amazing piece of McCoy Tyners piano solo from John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things"), "Jivetalk", "Clear Blue Skies", fuck it the whole album is great. They re-released the album in 2002 but with 11 additional songs (!!) and the original sequencing switched up so i figured to bring y'all the original debut  release of Juggaknots. All tracs are full, CDQ editions of the elevenn song sounds great and If you're listening to both EP'syou got no less than 60 minutes of classic boombap. Enjoy!


A1. "The Hunt is On"
A2. "Trouble Man"
A3. "Jivetalk"
A4. "Loosifah"
A5. "Epiphany"
B1. "Romper Room"
B2. "Circle Pt. 1"
B3. "Clear Blue Skies"
B4. "I'm Gonna Kill You"

The Lost Tapes reivists 'The Big Picture'

"The Big Picture" was Big L's first (and in my eyes only worthy) posthumous full-length album, released via Rawkus about one and a year after Lamont's untimely and tragic passing. The main executive's of the album/compilation was Rich Nice and Big Leroy, with associate help from DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, Show and Mike Heron. Without a doubt, It's a dope album, but in many ways, which really isn't that suprising, it feels  whole lot like a compilation of some of L's last track, remixes and even freestyles. What's worse is that some of the original tracks that Big L originally had recorded, for some reason were remixed, resulting in a weaker version not at all representative of Big L's original style and featuring beats that I highly doubt the emcee would've even touched if he was alive. The two strongest examples of this is how the very good, original Buckwild mix of "Who You Slidin' Wit'" run laps around the suprisingly weak Pete Rock remix which made the album insteas (which was very suprising to me). The second example of this, is the Ysae remix (?) of Big L's overloked "Games Female Plays", that totally switched the somber feeling to a party track gone wrong, which even deleted two L verses to have Sadat X and GURU  On the flip side, DJ Premier and Mike Heron's respective remixes outshined the originals.

There's certain other things that I feel could make the album better and closer to L's original vision of an original album. For example the track "We Got This" with Mr. Cheeks was even released as a single but mysteriously was left off the Rawkus retail. This could, and should have, replaced tracks like "'98 Freestyle" and "Deadly Combination", two absolutely terrific mixtape joints that however have no place on an actual retail album at all; especially not since there were plenty of other songs to replace them with. This might all sound very negative, but the fact is that "The Big Picture" is a great album and major props to all involved for making it happen. The album presented below is simply my vision of how I think the album could've been improved,... To your ears, this might not at all be better, but I recommend you at least give it a chance, and play it front-and-back as intended I can say, that countless hours and research have gone into this project..

As any Lost Tapes fan knows, I never post albums that are not out of print, but here I make an exception. The reason for this is because it is still different from the retail, and the word is that since Lamont returned to the essence, people like Lord Finesse and Show have mentioed that the deceased artist's biological father, who was never there during Lamont's life, is claiming a large amount of any sales of Big L albums, which is the main reason why we still haven't seen the proper posthumous album that 'Ness and Premo was working on. So it's a real fucked up situation, and I hope he doesn't get a cent for any of Big L's music now or tand rest in peace to Lamont Coleman, one of the best to ever do it. You are surely missed!! And with that being said, let's get to the music - as I present the tracklist, I am giving y'all a track-by-track take on each song and why it is included, and possibly why I chose this version rather than what's heard on the retail. I hope y'all enjoy it fo what it is, and I also hope that you give it a fair chance and please drop a comment on your feelings of this c7 take of L's final, but not finalized, album.

01. "The Big Picture Intro"
This intro was obviously created posthumously, but it's the perfect introduction of the album, and I wouldn't dream of leaving this off the tracklist. In reality DJ Premier and Big L really didn't get the chance to work much together ("Thick" and "Da Enemy" are the two that comes to mind), which is a shame considering their chemistry were equal to that of Preem and Nas.The L verse is an all-time classic, although it been used in freestyles and on other songs; parts of it even appear on a later song but who really cares. The live intro by Bumpy Knuckles and DJ Premier from the Big L tribute concert is a perfect way to set up the album; I'm glad they didn't put it together to constantly remind us of the fact that the artist we're listening to had just been killed, but it would be equally wrong to not give it some kind of tribute.
02. "Ebonics"
Wow, this is one of the best hip-hop tracks ever recorded in my opinion, and is also the last song L released officially; as a 12" single on his own Flamboyant imprint with the equally stunning "Size 'Em Up" on the flip. Right before L was killed, I remember how I used to bump this multiple times each and every day and were just stunned by the concept an the way L delivered it; and to this day, it sounds just as fresh. This, together with the following song, is, to me, Ron Browz absolute best work.

03. "Size 'Em Up"
As mentioned before, this was the B-side to "Ebonics" , and to me both songs proved that L was on a warpath, going in a totally new direction from his debut. A direction that potentially would give him a lot more exposure while still keeping it hardcore with a capital H. There's also a L song called "On The Mic" whih uses the same lyrics as "Size 'Em Up", but I think we can safely assume that the latter is the only "real" version. Even if you have "The Big Picture" on CD, cassette or LP, I would strongly recommend getting the "Ebonics / Size 'Em Up" 12" as well, as it's without a doubt one of the best singles released in the late '90s.

04. "We Got This" (Ft. Mr. Cheeks)
Another song produced by Ron Browz, or Rondell as he was called then, who seemed to be something like L's in-house producer during his final days. Featuring Mr. Cheeks of The Lost Boyz, this was most likely L's next planned, and completed single, as it was released on Flamboyant Records, with "The Heist" on the flip, shortly after his death. While it's not at all one of my favorite tracks, I think it makes zero sense that Rawkus did not include this in favor of tracks like "Games" and "'98 Freestyle Pt. 1". Lyrically, Cheeks and Big L bounces off eachother to great effect, and as a strictly lyrical record it's really good.

05. "Devils Son '98 (Interlude)"
Rather than using the Stretch Armstrong freestyle, I felt that the 1998 one verse-and-hook live recording of "Devil's Son" worked a lot better as a cool lil' interlude. While the beat remains the same, Big L totally flipped out with a brand new verse, that's just as off-the-wall hardcore and dark humorous as the original '93 mix. This was recorded during Big L's last European live performance, in Amsterdamn on October 8, 1999.

06. "Holdin' It Down" (Ft. AG, Party Arty & Pete Rock)
This is the original 12" version of "Holdin it' Down" and it's the superior and more hardcore version without a doubt. Pete Rock does a great job on the beat, scratches and typical ad-libs, but the real treat here is to hear L go head to head with AG and Party Arty, another now deceased D.I.T.C. affiliate and Ghetto Dwellas member. P-80 also appeared on "Da Graveyard", and has an equally raw verse here so it's ahrd to figure out why his verse was replaced by one of Stan Spit. The other main difference, that goes a long way, is that instead of Miss Jones' singing the hook (a singer I often liked on hip-hop tracks of the '90s), the hook is made up of a superb scratch hook courtesy of Pete Rock.

07. "The Heist" (Lord Finesse's Re-Visit)
The original Ron Browz produced version of this flawless exercise in storytelling appeared as the B-side to the '99 single "We Got This", as mentioned above. The Lord Finesse remix takes on a much more funk infused sound that places the story in an altogether new setting, much like movie music is so important to establish a scene. I like both versions, but in my opinion Finesse's revisit is the stronger mix, and since it's The Funky Man's only contribution to the album, I eventually decided to go with this one for my take.

08. "The Enemy" (Ft. Fat Joe)
Originally started making the mixtape circuit as early as 1997, and even making a stand-out apperance on DITC's "Worldwide" the same year as "The Big Picture". Therefore, it might have been logic to cut this off the album, but I didn't have the heart for that considering how fucking ridiciolous this monster of a track really is.Not only is it one of the best anti-police anthem's of all time, DJ Premier hooks up one of his hardest beats of all time and Big L and Fat Joe soun so damn nice together, Historic track!

09. "Flamboyant" 
This is The Ghetto Pro's Mike Heron's only contribution on the album, and although it's one that was made after L's passing, it's an absolute stand-out on the album. I moved this back a step on the album, because I felt it sounded somewhat superior when sequenced between "The Enemey" and "Platinum Plus".Mike Heron might be one of the most underrated producers in the game, this joint is aboslutely magic and was the first choice for a single; in the linear notes A&R Rich Nice thanks Mike Heron for "giving L a #1 single". This is a true anthem right here my friends!

10. "Platinum Plus" [OG Riverside Mix] (Ft. Stan Spit)
This is not the version that appeared on the retail but rather the original track that L recorded, that DJ Premier used for the Big Daddy Kane assisted remix that was used for the retail. This is very different, kinda soulful, with L's protogé Stan Spit and Lamont going back and forth over the beat by The Originators (or possibly Riverside). I'm not sure who actually produced this, it was released in 2006 on the Corleone release "The Archives 1996-2000", as "The Original Riverside Mix" but it has also been released as "The Originator's Mix". Could it be that it's this french crew, their producers seem to have worked with Das EFX and Cocoa Brovaz as far as US artists goes. Anyone have further information about this, or able to clear it up, please drop a comment.

11. "Who You Slidin' With" [Buckwild Mix]
A lot of things point to this being the original version, as well as originally meant to be included on the album. It sounds much more natural than the weak Pete Rock remix on the retail, which is one of the wackest Pete beats I've ever heard, and it's also Buckwild's only contribution to the known songs recorded around this time. Add this to the fact that the linear notes shouts out Buckwil in the list of artists labeled under "thanks to all the artists and producers involved in the making of this album". This was also released before the album on an early Rawkus sampler for the project. This sounds so much better in the context of what Big L was doing at the time of his last singles and guest apperances.

12. "Games Females Play"
Just like "The Enemy", this is an older record, made for a Columbia sequel that never materialized around '96-97. As mentioned eaerlier, this is the song that was remixed for the retail by no-name producer Ysae into the emb(wherarassing club-track gone wrong called '"Games", that appeared on the retail. It's cool to hear Sadat X and GURU make an apperance on the album, but when you take into account that neither verse were actually done in studio with L, and that none of them are particular good, it becomes nothing more than a missed opportunity. Worse yet, is that, for this reason, it deletes not only the original beat, but also two excellent Big L verses which were never released on anything official. and we all kno how brilliantly funny L was when taking stabs at shady female!

13. "Fall Back" (Ft. Kool G Rap)
It's quite clear that this collaboration never really took place in reality; I would imagine that Big L at least would've give a shout out to G Rap in his verse or even in the intro or something in any other case. But shit, G Rap and Big L on the same record - that's an obvious dream collabo, just like the after-the-fact joint with Big Daddy Kane and DJ Premier. Producer Shomari (?) does a great job with the backdrop too, so in the end this is obviously a keeper.
14. "Furious Anger" (Ft. Shyheim)
This collaboration with Shyheim was one of the last tracks L ever recorded, and was made for Shyheim's 1999 album "Manchild". The song was produced by E-Blast and Jimmy Swag, but an interesting fact is that Lamont actually produced another record on Shy's third  LP, "Trust It's On". Hanging so closely with Finesse, Show, Buckwild, Diamond D and later DJ Premier and many others, it's possible that L would've been getting more into production. In fact on the 12" releases, Big L was credited to have produced "Ebonics", "Size 'Em Up", "Yje Jeost" and "We Got This" together with Rondell/Ron Browz. But back to "Furious Anger", it's an absolute classic and if they could reuse "Da Enemey" they could've easily used this for both "Manchild" and "Big Picture".

15. "Causualties of a Dice Game"
On the retail, this was placed much earlier in the sequencing, which to me was somewhat of a mistake. I admit to not liking the production that much, but the minimalist approach works in the context that it put L's story at the forefrnt. "Casualties of a Dice Game" is another vivid exercise in story telling that put most rappers describing the backsides of street life to shame. As the title indicates, this is a story about a dice game gone horribly wrong, and told from an "I perspective", which results in Big L getting shot and killed at the end. This is both pretty morbid and a bad omen of what was to come when listening now, but due to the nature of the end this should definitely be sequenced closer to the end of the album.

16. "Platinum Plus" [DJ Premier Remix] (Ft. Big Daddy Kane) 
I placed the original version a little higher up, but it would be a cardinal sin not to include the DJ Premier remix of "Platinum Plus" as well. To me, this is the Big L / Preem equivallent to, say, "Nas is Like" with an up-tempo beat that's absolutely impossible to resist. This also shows DJ Premier's impeccable remixing skills, as L sounds so natural over this beat that it might've weel been the beat he actually spat that verse over. And then of course, you got Big Daddy Kane closing it out with an unforgettable performance. This is without a doubt, one of the five best songs on the LP; some days I would say it's even #1. I made a mistake when I uploaded the .rar file though, and put this as track 17, but just switch it to 16 and the next joint to 17 and you got the intended sequence.

 17. "The Triboro" (Ft. OC, Fat Joe, Show & Remy Ma)
Finally, we get a true D.I.T.C. posse cut, that should satisfy any fan of the crew or either rapper appearing here. Come to think about it, there's very little directly D.I.T.C. related material  featured on this disc, so once Show's booming and bapping beat, complete with a fat ass bass line and well used synth lines, you know you're in for a treat. If I remember right, Big L's verse is the same as that on "We Got This", but that's easy to overlook considering how dope it is to hear L with OC, Fat Joe and even Remy Ma on a beat like this, one last time. The perfect album closer, although it will have you fineding for more... Something we unfortunately never will get. Aight, hit download and LET'S GO listen to one of the all time greats. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cormega with the "Intermission"

Cormega rarely dissapoints, wheter we're talking spitting hot verses or picking the right beats, and here's another sure shot banger. This short but potent cut is lifted from DJ Deadeye's new LP, "Substance Abuse", which is shaping up lovely with loads of classy guest features from the likes of Freddie Foxxx, Skyzoo, Reks, Panchi of NYGz, Steele of Smif-N-Wessun and many others - read more about the album + pre-order it @


New J. Rocc - "Play This Too"

It's funny that while we're discussing Stones Throws (see the post below) some new music from their number #1 DJ, J. Rocc, hit my e-mail. J. Rocc has been instrumental in the careers of J Dilla, MED and Madlib during their stays at the West Coast label and he's also a member of the legendary The Beat Junkies but has yet to release a proper solo album. That is just about to change as the beatmaking DJ is gearing up to release "Some Cold Rock Stuff" on CD and 2xLP via S.T. on April 5 so mark that date in your calendars peeps! "This is not a DJ album, this is not a Beat album and this is NOT a mixtape. This is an original work of instrumental hip-hop... electronic music... dance music... smoking blunt music... assorted cold rock stuff" - sounds kinda promising don't you think? The first single is called "Play This Too" so g'ahead and do just that!


MED - "Bang Your Head 3" (2010 Mixtape)

This dope mixtape by Stones Throw's own MED (or Medaphor) was released back in October 2010 but as the saying goes, better late than never, right? I totally missed out on this one when it first dropped but through a recommendation from my homeboy Linkan so props for this one. Just check out the tracklist and if that doesn't make you want to hit the download link then you should hit your head repeatedly with a hammer, knocking some goddamn sense in to that sorry excuse for a brain. The only downside is that it comes packed as one single mp3-file featuring all the songs, if anyone has a link with the tracks seperated feel free to throw it up via the comments section.

01. "Intro" [prod. by J. Rocc]
02. "Advice" (Ft. LMD) [prod. by Madlib]
03. "Misunderstood" [prod. by Madlib]
04. "Candlelight" (Ft. Georgia Anne Muldrow) [prod. by G.A. Muldrow]
05. "50.000 Wattz" [prod. by Soul Professa]
06. "Salute" (Ft. Wildchild & Baby Boogalu) [prod. by J. Rocc]
07. "Fall Back" (Ft. Fred & Poke) [prod. by Fred]
08. "R.E.M." (Ft. Epsilon Project) [prod. by Oddisee]
09. "West is Back" [prod. by DJ Khalil]
10. "Saga Continues" [prod. by DJ Babu]
11. "O.U.T." [prod. by Matt]
12. "Listen" (Ft. Descry) [prod. Descry]
13. "Outro" (Ft. Daru Jones on live drums) [prod. by J. Rocc]


Link via VTech

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Camp Lo & Pete Rock drops free tape

As you might know by now Camp Lo has hooked up with Pete Rock to form the power trio 80 Blocks From Tiffany's. After releasing their first single "Mic Check" they teamed up with DJ Trackstar and Mark Di Vita for this promotional mixtape - 'The Tiffany Blue Mixtape Pt. 1'. This is of course something to get our mouths watering in anticipation of the actual album which I believe is to be titled 'Tiffany Blue Tuesdays' and as it looks now it's about finished and should be released within a few months; I can't fucking wait! I haven't listened to the actual tape yet but looking at the tracklist below we can see that it features a mix of freestyles over classic Pete Rock productions, new tracks and Camp Lo/Pete Rock blends by DJ Trackstar - sounds like a night mix for sure.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Prince Paul "Feak The Sorceress"

When discussing Prince Paul you can't ignore the countless albums he has produced and overseen from top-to-bottom, and a big bunch of them are true classics. Something that is often forgotten is that Paul was a "go-to producer" back in the entire '90s (and somewhat beyond) and as promised here's the first volume in a series highlighting those dope productions. This first installment focus on his outside work for artists like Chill Rob G, De La Soul, Queen Latfah, KRS-One, Candyman, 3rd Bass and MF DOOM, Cypress Hill, Gravediggaz, Jay-Z/Jaz-O, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and many more. I choose to focus on his work from 1990-1994 but trust me when I say there will be at least another compilation in the same vein, highlighting his later productions from 1995 to 2000 next so there's something to look forward to for y'all. In the meantime just enjoy this bangers from Prince Paul delivered to you by the one and only 'The Lost Tapes and don't forget to TURN IT UP!!

01. 3rd Bass Ft, Zev Luva X - "The Gas Face" [Prince Paul Remix]
02. Big Daddy Kane - "It's Hard Being the Kane"
03. Boogie Down Productions - "Drug Dealer"
04. De La Soul Ft.Dres & Big Daddy Kane - "Who's Skating?"
05. Chill Rob G - "Let Me Show You" [Remix]
06. Boo Ya Tribe - "Psycho Funk" [Prince Paul Remix]
07. Candyman - "Return Of The Candyman"
08. Cypress Hill - "Latin Lingo" [Prince Paul Remix]
09. Gravediggaz - "Reincarnation Of Freud"
10. Gravediggaz - "Freak The Sorceress"
11. The Jaz Ft. Jay -Z - "It's That Simple"
12. Nikki D - "Freak Accident"
13. Queen Latifah Ft. De La Soul - "Moma Gave Birth to the Soul Children"
14. Fine Young Cannibals - "I'm Not Satisfied" [NY Rap Version]
15. De La Soul - "What Yo Life Can Truly Be" (Ft. A Tribe Called Quest & Dres)
16. 3rd Bass - "Derelicts of Dialect"
17. Groove B Chill - "Let it Roll"
18. Justin Warfield - "K Sera Sera"
19. Slick Rick - "Behind Bars"
20. De La Soul - "Lovely How I Let My Mind Flow" (Ft. Biz Markie)

Prince Paul - "Freak The Sorceress"

EPMD and E. Sermon back in business... again

'I've been meaning to post this rather new EPMD track for a good while now but it somehow got lost in the shufle, but never late than never right. It's always good to see that Erick and Parish seem to come along again which is great to hear; in 2008 they finally dropped their long-awaited seventh album ("We Mean Business") after a seven year hiatus. While the album was far from as critically acclaimed as all their previous bangers but nontheless in my opinion it was a solid album. This new track called, "Don't Get Clapped", sounds pretty neat if you ask me, revisting Notorious B.I.G.'s first 12" release, "Party And Bullshit", and while it's not a traditional EPMD track it sounds pretty damn sweet.

At the same time Erick Sermon has also announced a new solo project to be called "ESP: Erick Sermon's Perception". Not much more info has been released at the moment but slated guests so far are Mary J. Blige and Syleena Johnson. Hopefully it will be a ill album although I think Sermon has often been sounding quite generic in his production style over the last few years with some exceptions ("Baggin' Crack", "Dangerous MCs", "Goldmine", etc.) Below is the quite new EPMD single for anyone that might've missed it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

KRS-One compilation for y'all

It's unbelivable when you look at the amount of material KRS-One has released since he first came on the scene with Scott La Rock as Boogie Down Productions, besides album after album he's responsible for a whole load of dope guest spots, soundtrack apperances, rarities, etc. There will most likely be more compilations of that material available via The Lost Tapes in the future since I hold Kris as the G.O.A.T. MC for several reasons. It wasn't easy compiling these 17 tracks (that I call "Killing Rhyme Sessions") since I wanted to give y'all something that bangs hard front-to-back while mainitaning a decent sound quality throughout and avoid the most common features. I decided to focus on the period between the transition from Boogie Down Production to the solo artist KRS-One and up to the "Maximum Strength" period. I listened to it before and think I succedeed quite well as I included many of my favorite KRS non-album tracks from that period and tied it together with two rare interludes, originally intended to appear on his 1995 self-titled album (when it was still called "Hip-Hop vs. Rap").

01. "Who's Kris?" (Intro)
02. "We In There" [A Tribe Called Quest Remix]
03. "Mad Izm" [Buckwild Remix] (w. Channel Live)
04. "Feel the Vibe, Feel the Beat"
05. "Metaphysics" [Interlude]
06. "Hip-Hop vs. Rap"
07. "East Coast/West Coast Killaz" (w. RBX, NaS & B-Real)
08. "Move Ahead" (w. DJ Muggs)
09. "Break the Chain" (as Big Joe Krash)
10. "Brainstorm/PSK Remix" (w. Lord Finesse & OC)
11. "Cyber Teeth Tigers" (w. Digital Underground)
12. "Bulworth" (w. DJ Muggs, Method Man, Prodigy & KAM)
13. "1,2 Pass It" (w. D&D All-Stars)
14. "Conscious Style" (w. Poor Righteous Teachers)
15. "The French Connection"
16. "DIGITAL" (w. Goldie)
17. "World Perfect"



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two lost Prince Paul LPs

This ain't the latest, just unearthed shit that you might be lead to believe by the title so don't get too hyped up if you're already got everything Prince Paul. It is however two full albums fully produced or co-produced by the ol' Gravedigga, both from the '90s, that leaked to the net around last summer if I recall correctly. I've been listening extensively to alot of Paul's work lately, sometimes I forget just how incredible, original and often underrated this genius of a producer are. I'd say that genius is a term that gets thrown around way too lightly when discussing music (as does the word classic) but I think if we're gonna give just one hip-hop producer that title of creative genius then Prince Paul would have to be considered King Paul in that area. The man helped De La produce their first three albums and all three of them are just insane, genre-bending, innovative and influential as hell; and already back then Paul showed that change in sound and executing different ideas was his thing. That change and risk taking has been an evident part of his career ever since, from the hardcore sounds of the Gravediggaz's debut (one of my favorites of all time) to Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid's spaced out '96 debut, to a psychotic therapy session on wax ('Psychoanalysis - What is It?") to the most well-executed concept album hip-hop has ever seen ('Prince Among Thieves') to educational hip-hop/sketch album for kids between 5-8 and raw stand-up albums by Chris Rock, I mean you name it!

Besides having a passion for steering full albums, Prince Paul was an early "go-to" producer, over the years lacing classics for Boogie Down Productions, Big Daddy Kane, Jaz-O/Jay-Z, 3rd Bass, Beastie Boys, Method Man, Biz Markie, Cypress Hill, Last Emperor, Slick Rick and many more. I will post one or two compilations highlighting his work in this field later on during the coming week and I might throw up a few of his albums that are out of print for those who missed them. But today I want to focus on two albums that got shelved in the early and mid-'90s respectively. They are fully produced by Prince Paul, yet they are distinctivly different in sound - the earlier one has more of a De La Soul vibe while the other is much mroe hardcore, sort of what he was doing with The Gravediggaz. There's really not that much information available about either of these LPs but I give a quick rundown of what I know about them below.

This album was recorded in 1991 by Prince Paul and a three man group that went by the name Resident Alien, and the title of the LP is "It Takes A Nation of Suckers to Let Us In". I don't know anything about the group at all really, they only released one 12" single (where the cover above is actually lifted from) called "Mr. Boops", which had "Shakey Grounds" (with Dres from Black Sheep on additional vocals and cuts by Maseo from De La Soul) and "The Dew Doo Man!" as B-sides. All three songs were included on this shelved album which was supposed to come out on Prince Paul's own imprint, also called The Dew Doo Man (remember that skit on 'De La Soul' is dead too, right?) which was to be a sub-division of Def Jam - a deal worked out between Russell Simmons and Paul. After only that one single 12" release the label quickly folded, leaving the Resident Alien album completed but unheard by the public for almost two decades. According to Prince Paul he also completed an LP for someone called Mic Teeke which has yet to see the light of the day so maybe we'll see another leak like this sometime in the future.

As this was recorded around the same time as 'De La Soul is Dead' it bares some similiarities and the emcees styles are more Native Tounges than NWA - there's a few bangers here and there but ultimately I could see why it was left on the shelf. Interesting listen for any fan of Prince Paul though but take warning - watch out for track #13, from 2:07 the rest of the song is fucked up with a loud buzzing static noise that's not supposed to be there so be prepared to change track there (if anyone got a complete version of the song post it in the comments section; EDIT: The Professor actually did so you can download the full album without hiss on track #13 in the comments section).

This one is called 'War Party' by Horror City, who's a little more familiar to me as they appeared as a group on a few tracks from 'A Prince Among Thieves' as well as one of their members, Big Sha, playing one of the leading roles. This is also the superior album to me, by far, this is actually really fucking great and is probably the most hardcore project Prince Paul ever did. The beats are raw and agressive and alot more stripped down than his work with De La, Resident Alien or even Gravediggaz but there's still alot of "Paul" in them, his singature drums and mad scratching are intact for example. The album consists of only 11 tracks including intro and outro and clocks in at about 35 minutes but it's one hell of a ride while it lasts. If you missed out on this one when it first leaked then please do yourself a favor and check it out.

It was supposed to be released in 1995 I believe, shortly after The Gravediggaz and from what I heard Paul was in a very depressed and angry place around that time which reflected in the more agressive music he made back then. Neither of these albums has any specific guests and this post is already too damn long so I'll just post the links without a tracklist. Enjoy and TURN IT UP!!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

NEW Mobb Deep!!

A result of Prodigy's first studio session since 2007 has just been made available by Hot 97's one and only Funkmaster Flex. The track is called "Love Y'All More" and although it's not the hardcore Mobb Deep style we're used to it's a great way for the group to reintroduce themeselves to their fans. The Alchemist is behind the soulful beat which influences P and Hav to show love to their fans and fam!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The lost tapes of OC's "Starchild" remix project

Back in 2005 D.I.T.C.'s finest, OC, hooked up with the Japanese record label Grit to release the album 'Starchild', the 13 track CD that was released was critically acclaimed. OC was in truly fine form rocking over solid beats from Locsmif, Vanguard and Sweden's own Soul Supreme and everything looked great but for some reason the album was only released in Japan and some parts of Europe, and at a limited pressing at that it quickly became somewhat of a rarity. I'm lucky to own a copy of the album and if you ever find one you should buy it immediatly. But around the same time OC and the Grit label announced the released version was a promo only and not the complete album. For the official release the album would have new tracks added and at one point the whole album was said to be remixed by Pete Rock (and be renamed 'Soulchild') and at another time it was supposed to be remixed by !llmind and Slopfunkdust for Beat Fanatic Productions. 

Sadly neither version got released as OC and Grit Records fell out with eachother but it's a subject that's been interesting to me for years resulting in alot of extended internet searching for information and whatever leaked tracks. A while back the dope blog Rappers I Know posted a 7 track snippets mix with a duration of 11 minutes sent to the label by Slopfunkdust to showcase the direction he and !llmind's remixes were heading. Together with the other songs I collected previously we now have 20 minutes of music from this shelved OC project to enjoy, and as good as the original 'Starchild' was I think it's safe to say that this would have been even iller. Judge for yourself, I packed all the tracks into a .rar file for an easy download. And once again a big shoutout to Rappers I Know site for the promo track and props to Slopfunkdust, !llmind, Pete Rock and OC for  the great music.

01. STARCHILD (The Beat Fanatic Remixes Promo):
* "Intro" [prod. Slopfunkdust]
* "Who Run It" [prod. !llmind]
* "Acid" [prod. Slopfunkdust]
* "Mush" [prod. !llmind]
* "Underboss" [prod. Slopfunkdust]
* "Outro" [prod. !llmind]
02. "1nce Again" [Pete Rock Remix]
03. "Childhood" [Pete Rock Remix] (Snippet)
04. "Story to Tell" [!llmind Remix]


Rest in peace to Nate Dogg

 This is truly a sad, sad day for hip-hop as I just woke up and realized that we lost one of the illest and most unique voices we had. Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, better known to the world as the one and only Nate Dogg, passed yesterday at the age of 41 after years of struggling with health problems after he first suffered a stroke in late 2007. Ever since his voice was first heard on the classic debut albums of Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G the West Coast sound had truly found the last missing piece in the puzzle and it's for damn sure it will never be the same again. Imagine tracks like "Regulate", "How Long Will They Mourn Me", "Xxplosive", "The Next Episode", "Deez Nuts", "It Ain't No Fun...", etc. without that pimping low bass voice blessing the beats. Rest in peace big man, you will be truly missed!

Here's a few words from his closest associates who commented on the fallen soldier via Twitter.

Snoop Dogg: "We lost a true legend n hip hop n rnb. One of my best friends n a brother to me since 1986 when I was a sophomore at poly high where we met.”

Daz Dillinger: "R.I.P. to my homeboy Nate Dogg, DPGC DOGG POUND GANGSTA 4 Life"

50 Cent: “I just landed Nate Dogg is dead damn. GOD BLESS HIM R.I.P. He meant a lot to west coast hiphop. I've always been a fan of him."

* The ill tribute picture at the top of the page was created by RuggedSounds666, props to him for that one

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pete Rock & Camp Lo are... 80 Blocks From Tiffany's

Great news right here that the rhyming duo of Camp Lo is teaming up with the one and only DJ Pete Rock to form a trio that they call 80 Blocks From Tiffany's. I've heard about this project a while back but like so many other promised goodies I was doubtful that it would ever materialize, but with the release of the first single it seems like things hopefully will actually go down. The production on this is really stripped down and raw with a different nod to the old school which I think fits the MC duo perfectly. Maybe with the help of Pete Rock behind the boards they can finally make an album that's a worthy successor to their brilliant '97 debut "Uptown Saturday Night". Also this year could be Pete Rock's finest in a long time as he's got both the above-mentioned album and the collaboration with Smif-N-Wessun and as if that weren't enough he's also supposed to release that long overdue project with DJ Premier before 2011 is over. Also as a bonus Camp Lo/80 Block's From Tiffany's released a track called "Jimmy Page" which is basically a freestyle over the classic Pete Rock & CL Smooth beat for "Straighten It Out" but it even came with a digital cover so maybe they will somehow incorporate it onto the album (which I believe is to be called "Tiffany Blue Tuesdays" btw).

80 Blocks From Tiffany's - "Mic Check"'
80 Blocks From Tiffany's - "Jimmy Page" (Freestyle) 

New video and track by Oddisee

Just received this mail from Oddisee's mailing list, in other words the latest edition of what you've been missing. Anyone familiar with the producer/MC knows that he's incredible at creating boom bap reminiscent of the sweet 1990s, and if you haven't heard his group Diamond District and their album 'In The Ruff' yet, it's definitely not to late yet - easily one of 2009s fattest albums. His new single is called "Different Now" and features Toine of DTMD, check out the video below (directed by Zack Schamberg) and be sure to download the song if you like it.


[COMPILATION] "Evolution of the Groove Vol. II"

Hip-Hop is what I live and breathe but next to that, jazz is the alternate soundtrack to my life these days. As I said in my article that accompanied the first installment of this series, there's so much similarities between the two. I believe a lot of young people generally have a totally wrong image of what jazz music really is, then and today. Thinking because you heard some old swing records of Louie Armstrong  and the Hot 5; the original vocal jazz movemen is so far from representative of the entire genre. The fact is that just like with any other musical grene, there's a ton of different styles within that sound that are collectively labeled as "jazz". With a lot of records that I put on for people I know, they often get that suprised look resembling a big questionmark in their faces, scratching their head, saying something like "but hey, this isn't no jazz, is it?". Take an album like "In A Silent Way" by Miles Davis, or "Mysterious Traveller" by Weather Report, and to me hip-hop head need to be real closeminded ro nor see the similarities and think that the music is wack; unless he's ready to fully embrace another genre yet.

Jazz has influenced hip-hop artists since the late '80s at least, when groups like Gang Starr, De La Soul, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Main Source, Easy Mo Bee, A Tribe Called Quest and many more started using samples of jazz, thus creating a fusion of jazz and hip-hop for the first time. Easy Mo Bee who produced an album for Miles Davis, and the late, great innovator GURU took it a step further with the "Jazzmatazz" series. Here he actually invited live jazz artists to perform and solo over hip-hop beats that he rhymed over, and to great effect nontheless. Next in line to push the envelope was the incredible The Roots, who originally started out as a strictly jazz-hip-hop fusion band, with live instruments backing the dope emcees Black Thought and Malik B - an early version of them are featured on this second volume of "Evolution Of The Groove".

The first volume in the series of "Evolution of Groove" got great response from a lot of people when I posted it, and if you liked that I'm positive you will dig this one equally much. Just like last time I put together various track that features at least one respected jazz artist and one respected hip-hop artist, so I avoided hip-hop tracks that simply uses samples from jazz records or jazz records that later would inspire hip-hop artists. There is also gang of original remixes by some of hip-hop's best/producers who respectfully give their take on legendary material by the true jazz greats. Artists featured here are Miles Davis (prodcued by Easy Mo Bee), Branford Marsalis, DJ Premier, Lady of Rage, GURU, Donald Byrd, Ramsey Lewis, Buckwild, The Roots, Steve Coleman, Maceo Parker and De La Soul, Q-Tip, Kenny Garrett and many more. Also I added a track I had no clue existed, a joint from Quincy Jones's 1989 album "Back On The Block" that features Miles blowing his trumpet with verses by Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee; now that's what I call a monumental line-up for the open minded! The majority of the songs on here are instrumental and are rather awesome, but there's also a few vocal tracks to mix it up good. Enjoy this great shit; hopefully this will make you realize how great jazz can be if you're a non-believer, and I also wanna take this time to recommend Madlib's 'Shades of Blue' remix album and DJ Pete Rock's mixtape 'Diggin on Blue' for that same reason. Enough talk, download, load it on to your mp3 player or whatever you prefer, and press play; this is one of those that works best when listened to from beginning to end as I worked hard on getting the sequencing righr. Enjoy!

01. DJ Premier Ft. Branford Marsalis - "Some Shit @ 78 BPM (The Scratch Opera)"
02. Miles Davis - "The Doo Bop Song" [Instrumental prod. by Easy Mo Bee]
03. GURU Ft. Donald Byrd - "Loungin'"
04. Curtis Fuller - "Five Spot After Dark" [Ali Shaheed Muhammad Remix]
05. Duke Jordan - "Night in Tunisia" [DJ Jazzy Jeff Remix]
06. Gene Harris & The Three Sounds - "Slim's Return" [Madlib Remix]
07. De La Soul/Prince Paul Ft. Maceo Parker - "I Be Blowin'"
08. Herbie Hancock - "This Is It" (Ft. The X-Ecutioner's Rob Swift]
09. GURU Ft. Ramsey Lewis & Bahamadia - "Repsect The Architect" [Buckwild Remix]
10. Buckshot LeFonque Ft. Lady Of Rage - "Blackwidow"
11. Q-Tip a/k/a Kamaal The Abstract - "Abstractions" (Ft. Kenny Garett)
12. Philadelphia Experiment (?uestlove, Uri Cane & Christian McBride) - "Grover"
13. Donald Byrd - "Lansanas's Priestess" [DJ Spinna Remix]
14. Quincy Jones Ft. Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee & Miles Davis - "Jazz Corners"
15. Buckshot LeFonque - "Music Evolution" [DJ Premier Remix]
16. The Roots Ft. Steve Coleman & Rufus Harley - "Do You Want More?!!?!"


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Raekwon Ft. Havoc - "Your World & My World" (iTunes bonus)

iTunes bonus track of Raekwon's fifth solo album, 'Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang', that drops today. This track is produced by and features Havoc and there's also another bonus cut on iTunes which features GZA and Killah Priest. I think it's fucked up that the ones who buy the actual album on CD or vinyl should be the ones receiving bonus cuts rather than downloaders which is why I will post them both as soon as possible. 'Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang' is definitely worth the money though, Raekwon really pulled it off again - who would've thought that Rae would soon to be the most prolific member of Wu-Tang Clan a few years back?! Much props to Chef for giving the fans what they want.

UPDATE: I got a link for "Wu-Crime" featuring GZA and Killah Priest as well, but it's an M4A feel but it'll have to do. Props to the man Jammin for that one, thanks man!



Three dope projects for release TODAY!

This second Tuesday in March 2011 is a great day for hip-hop as both legends of the game and a representant of the younger generations greats releases projects today. Raekwon's "Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang" is my favorite LP of the year so far, it took me by suprise as it was actually even better than I expected so that was an automatic purchase. Then we got Reks who drops his third album today, "R.E.K.S. (Rhythmatic Eternal Supreme King)" is a one hour long showcase in why he should be considered one of the top lyricists of today as he flexes his verbal muscles over tracks by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Lil' Fame and many more. The video for the track "Cigarettes" dropped today and is posted below (featuring a real heavy verse by Fame). The third release of the day has been available through downloads on iTunes and such since a few weeks back but it's first today that it will be available in physical form (CD only so far I believe). KRS-One's and Showbiz's collaboration is named "Godsville" and while they both ranks amongst my favorite artists of all time I must say that I was pretty dissapointed in the LP; not that it wasn't good because it is but a album from these two should be more than just good. Hopefully I'll get the time to write and post up reviews of all of all three albums. Below are one selection each from every one of the LPs so check it out, enjoy and if you like what you hear support the artist(s)!

REKS video for "Cigarettes"
Produced and featuring Lil' Fame a/k/a Fizzy Womack plus Attica Barz

"Snake Pond" by Raekwon - one of many incredible tracks on 'Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang'

"Runnin' in the Dark" by KRS-One and Showbiz from 'Godsville'

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mobb Deep - "Mobb Of Steel, Vol. I"

It's great to hear that one of New York's illest vets is back home after finishing his three year bid. Hopefully this will result in new music from the man, both with Havoc and whatever solo projects he's interested in doing. In honor of the ocassion I put together a gang of my favorite Mobb Deep non-album tracks from 1993-1998, featuring both collaborations with other artists, soundtrack cuts and white label joints. The majority of these bangers are Havoc productions which of course guarantees quality stuff as far as the sonics goes and this tape is filled to the limits with incredible Prodigy verses. There's been a real lack of updates on this blog lately I know, but hold your eyes on this spot and I'll try put some more time into it.

01. "Live Nigga Rap" (w. NaS)
02. "Rare Species (Modus Operandi)"
03. "The War's On" (w. Almighty RSO)
04. "Back @ You"
05. "Survival Of The Fittest" [Havoc Remix]
06. "It Could Happen to You" (w. DJ Muggs)
07. "Know Da Game" (w. Kool G Rap & MOP)
08. "Eyes May Shine" [Remix] (w. Xzibit)
09. "Reconcile & Recognize Part II" (w. Big Noyd)
10. "Cop Hell" (w. DJ Premier)
11. "Mobb Of Steel"
12. "Street Life" (w. ACD)
13. "Legal Money" (w. Shaquille O'Neal)
14. "Infamous" (w. Charlie Baltimore)
15. "Hoodlum" (w. Rakim & Big Noyd)
16. "Play IV Keeps" (w. Method Man, Inspectah Deck & StreetLife)
17. "Killaz Theme" (w. Cormega)
18. "Temperature's Rising" [Original Mix]

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Reks, produced by DJ Pete Rock

The young emcee who broke through in 2008 with the DJ Premier laced masterpiece "Say Goodnight" and the potent follow-up album "Grey Hairs" is gearing up for the release of his third album. The LP which is called "R.E.K.S. (Rhythmic Eternal King Supreme)" packs a heavy line-up with producers including Preemo reprising his role but also Pete Rock, Lil' Fame, Alchemist, Sean C & LV, Statik Selektah and Hi-Tek and as you should know Reks already proved that he's real disgusting with the wordplay so this will be a heavyhitter that's for sure. One of the tracks that has had my mouth watering is the collaboration with the Soul Brother which I present to y'all below. In case you missed the Premier produced lead single, "The 25th Hour" do yourself a favor and hit play on the YouTube video. "R.E.K.S." drops on Tuesday!

REKS - "Thin Line" [prod. by Pete Rock]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

THROWBACK: Guru's "Jazzmatazz Vol. II" review

GURU released his second album in the ”Jazzmatazz” series in the summer of 1995 and to me this eclectic fusion of East Coast hip-hop, jazzy live instrumentation, soul singers and ragga hooks still stands as a testament of the man’s greatness. GURU was a leader in hip-hop; as a rapper from Boston he was pushing the envelope of how true New York hip-hop was supposed to sound together with DJ Premier in Gang Starr, and with the “Jazzmatazz” series he creatively and successfully bridged live jazz and hip-hop. Many hip-hop acts had used samples from the Blue Note and Columbia Jazz catalogues but it was GURU who first incorporated actual instruments to a beat and thereby created the so called “jazz-rap” when he and DJ Premier invited Branford Marsalis to play sax on the Gang Starr classic, “Jazz Thang”. Something that was bound to happen sooner or later for sure, but also something that needed a leader to first take the step and test the waters.

While 1993s “Jazzmatazz Vol. 1” was a short but effective punch (10 songs in 40 minutes), its follow-up almost doubles the length with its 20 tracks clocking in at 74 minutes. It also features a massive amount of guest features, so much in fact that the artwork presents the LP as one being “hosted by GURU” rather than a solo album in its own right. Unlike its predecessor it does not feature jazz instrumentalists exclusively but rather a mix of artists representing jazz, rap, soul and reagge – black music if you will. Names involved include Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Garrett, DJ Premier, Mica Paris, Chaka Khan, Bahamadia, Branford Marsalis, Kool Keith, True Master, Ini Kamoze, Jamiroquai and many more. An all-star line up to say the least but sometimes too many chefs in the kitchen is a recipe for a disastrous and unfocused effort. This is not the case with “Jazzmatazz II: The New Reality” because although its filled to the limit with high profile names from four different musical genres, GURU is always present and ties it all together, making sure the album flows and the sound is cohesive. Despite what the front cover states there’s no doubt that this album is GURU’s, his voice graces every track, he’s been involved with the production and picking the guests and “The New Reality” clearly represents and realizes his vision.

The amazing opener “Lifesaver” kick things off with a laid-back beat with emphasis on a heavy bass line and jazzy sax and vibes (uncredited and probably sampled) floating in and out in the background which puts the artist in the zone. One of GURU’s biggest strengths as an emcee was his ability to touch the listener’s heart and making us relate without sounding forced or corny; I often say that he rapped with more heart than any other rapper when he was at his peak. Here he speaks on life’s ill but also offers a solution, something a lot of rappers fail to dwell on and the sweet-sung vocals of Baybe adds color to the song. “Living in this World” follows a similar pattern with GURU doing his best to educate through his rhymes and Jay Rodriguez and Sweet Sable helps push the song to the next level with the addition of gorgeous flute, clarinet and vocals, respectively. The last verse is a performance that captures everything that makes people quote the MC’s name in G.O.A.T. discussions.

The following two songs are also my two favorites on the entire album; “Looking Through The Darkness” is produced by True Master (of Wu-Tang fame) and stands as one of his finest productions yet. The drum pattern is heavy enough to knock down a wall, with True’s traditional chopped up sample style, here using at least two songs to create one masterpiece – the majestic trumpet and whatever string instrument that is comes off as simply amazing. GURU absolutely tears the beat apart, sounding hyped up and angry as he almost shouts out the verses, a true classic and proof that he was very capable of creating such tracks without help from DJ Premier. But of course one can’t deny the impact he and Preemo’s relationship have had on hip-hop and that pure quality is showcased on “Watch What You Say” where Guru rhymes about the importance of being a role model and embracing that role. Premier’s backdrop has his traditional pounding drums and bass and comes off as a perfect example of “jazz-rap” with the inclusion of a sampled trumpet being looped under the vocals throughout. The young but great saxophonist Branford Marsalis closes the track on a very high note with Chaka Khan wailing intensively. Whereas “Jazzmatazz Vol. 1” was completely separate from his work with DJ Premier, it’s good to have at least one Gang Starr track on this album. And a banging one at that!

Although the LP doesn’t feature jazz artists on each and every song the vibe throughout is that of hip-hop meeting jazz whether that sound is achieved through the use of samples or live instrumentation. GURU is really shining here, strongly influenced by the jazzy and soulful music he allows himself to go deep and often get personal in his verses. The lyrical themes range from a wide array of topics; “For You” is a heartfelt tribute to his family and friends while “Medicine” is a slamming anthem for all the weed heads with Ini Kamoze providing some sweet toasting. The jazz vibe is maintained by absolutely impeccable blowing by the one and only, Mr. Donald Byrd. Byrd also appears on “The Traveler” where the rapper touches on life on the road and all the countries he visited while on tour. “Lost Souls” is another one of those tracks where G rhymes with all his heart, making sure that every word is captured by the listener, while Jamiroquai provides background vocals and instrumentation to great results.

There are so many ill songs on this album that I could just go on describing them all to you but you’d be better off listening to it for yourself. GURU was in peak form between 1994 and 1998 if you ask me, with “Hard to Earn” and “Moment of Truth” speaking for itself but also the little recognized “Jazzmatazz Vol. II: The New Reality” which is a very personal album. For me this is slightly better than its predecessor (which is also a great album however) and besides his work with DJ Premier it stands as the finest solo album he did. When GURU spoke you’d really listen because you could relate to him. He invited you into his world with his words, as a peer and someone that wanted change for the better. The King of Monotone as he called himself, his voice was unique and loaned itself perfectly for jazz inspired music which is one of the reasons why this album wouldn’t have worked with any other rapper. 

To give some critique it is slightly too long, at 74 minutes it could have benefitted from tightening up a bit; maybe cutting off maximally three or four songs. Most of the tracks hold a very high quality though and there is nothing on this disc that’s bad, far from it, but “The Traveler” and “Feel the Music” doesn’t sound as inspired as “Respect the Architect” or “Something in the Past” for example. Yet these are very minor things, overall this album is packed with more heat than the oven door and it’s a goddamn shame that it’s so overlooked and underrated. The singles released from the album came with some now classic remixes that didn’t appear on the album; DJ Premier’s take on “The Lifesaver” and Buckwild’s mix of the Bahamadia featured “Respect the Architect” (both included at the bottom of this post). I recommend you all to pick up “Jazzmatazz Vol. II: The New Reality” in tribute to Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal a.k.a. Keith Elam, we all sure miss you – Rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Havoc & Rosenberg welcomes "P" back home

 I think we're all excited that Mobb Deep's H.N.I.C., Mr. Prodigy, is finally done with his bid and will be released from prison on March 7. Hopefully he will hook right back up with Havoc and produce some heatrocks for immediate release, I can't wait to hear some new Mobb stuff. While incarcerated I can imagine P has most likely spilled his guts writing verse after verse, he probably have alot of shit to get off his chest considering all the letters exposing guys he was writing from the pen. Matter of fact, he even wrote a biography in there, "My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep's Prodigy", which you can pre-order now through For anyone doubting that P still got it they obviously didn't hear the track he recorded over the prison phone that was released last year, where he straight up molests a murderous Sid Roams beat for over six minutes. The sound quality of the vocals wasn't all that but obviously but that wasn't needed to know that he's on fire and ready for war. That hot joint is included on the tape posted below for anyone that might've missed it when it first dropped. By the way you can expect a lot of Mobb Deep and Prodigy compilations and shit the week of his homecoming, starting on March 8 i'll bring out a collection of rare Mobb goodies for y'all.

Peter Rosenberg and Havoc has cooked up a little mixtape in anticipation of the man coming home, featuring some rarities, some classics and some freestyles by Prodigy and Mobb Deep. The tape is mixed by Rosenberg and hosted by Havoc and is available now for free download. "Prodigy comes home on March 7th and I thought it would be dope to welcome him home properly. He is one of the greats and I can’t wait to see what this chapter holds for him. So I linked up with Havoc and put together this mix to celebrate his return! This is not all of his appearances obviously, but it is many of my favorites–including some rarities!" is what Pete has to say on the subject. Enough talk, bring on the music! Mobb for life! 

01. Drink Away the Pain - Mobb Deep
02. Give Up the Goods – Mobb Deep
03. Crime Connection – Mobb Deep *Unreleased*
04. Eyes May Shine (RMX) – Xzibit feat. Mobb Deep
05. Hell on Earth – Mobb Deep
06. It’s Mine – Mobb Deep feat. Nas
07. I Shot Ya (RMX) – LL Cool J
08. Extortion – Mobb Deep
09. Legal Money – Shaq feat. Mobb Deep
10. Recognize & Realize – Big Noyd feat. Mobb Deep
11. Right Back at You – Mobb Deep
12. Eye for an Eye – Mobb Deep
13. It’s the Pee ‘97 – PMD feat. Prodigy
14. Tres Leches – Big Pun
15. Gun Love – Prodigy *Unreleased*
16. Rare Species – Mobb Deep
17. Microphone Masters (RMX) – Das Efx feat. Mobb Deep
18. Drop a Gem On Em – Mobb Deep
19. Quiet Storm (Original Demo Mix) – Prodigy *Unreleased*
20. G.O.D. Part III – Mobb Deep
21. G.O.D. Part III (Night Time After Hours Mix) – Mobb Deep
22. Still Shinin – Mobb Deep
23. Bloodshed & War – Da Youngstas feat. Mobb Deep
24. Temperature’s Rising (Original Mix) – Mobb Deep
25. Burn – Mobb Deep
26. Keep It Thoro – Prodigy
27. H.N.I.C. – Prodigy
28. Clap Those Thangs – Mobb Deep
29. Stuck on You – Prodigy
30. Mac 10 Handle – Prodigy
31. Tha Game – Pete Rock feat. Prodigy
32. Return of the Mac – Prodigy
33. When I See You – Prodigy
34. Veteran’s Memorial Pt. 2 – Prodigy
35. Phone Tap – Prodigy