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Saturday, August 29, 2015

ERYKAH BADU x MADLIB - "Real Thang" / "The Healer"

Erykah Badu is without a doubt the undisputed modern Queen of Soul music. There's plenty of more talented young signers like Angie Stone, Jill Scott and Mela Machinko, but Badu is on another level as she is always pushing boundaries and has changed up with each new relase, and to gret effect to. To me she is up almost like a modern day Billie Holiday or Aretha Franklin. She's got a lot of love for hip-hop, often collaborating with producers and session musicians like Jay Dee, Madlib, ?uestlove & James Poyser, Karieem Riggins, Sa-Ra, Ta'raach, Rashad Smith, Bilal, Lil' Wayne and Common to name a few. On top of that she's got an incredible discography, with albums I strongly recommend any of y'all to pick up. It's hard to pick a favorite (though "Worldwide Underground" is easily her least fully realized project), but together with The Soulquarian's backed "Mama's Gun" I'd have to say my favorite proejct(s) of her is the two part album "New Amerykah Part One" and "Part 2". Between the two albums these saw Badu collaborate with Madlib on no less than four tracks, each bonafide classics ("The Healer", "My People", "Incense", "Umm Hmm"). 

Recently I came across a 2007 promo single for "New Amerykah Pt. 1" that I had previously missed out on, The two songs on the 12" single were both produced by Madlib. What's intersting is that the A-side "Real Thang" never made it to the album (save for a UK version where it appeared as a bonus track between "Telephone" and "Honey"). It's another slamming Madlib/Badu joint that would have fitted it perfectly on the LP so it's really a shame it didn't make the project, which either way happens to be one of the best releases of 2008. The single also include a nice remix by long-time Badu collaborator Rashad Smith who has plenty of hits under his belt dating back to the early days of Bad Boy. I will most likely hook up a Badu compilation sooner or later, she's just too good and has enough dope material that never appeared on an album so I think it should be appreciated. But for now, I uploaded the Madlib and Rashad Smith mixes of "Real Thang" as well as "The Healer" remix featuring Pharoahe Monch, although only the original version appeared on the "Real Thang" CD-single. Still, "The Healer" is probably my favorite 'Lib/Badu collaboration so far along with the dreamy "Incense"and with a slamming verse by P. Monch you know this is a must hear!

01. "Real Thang" [Extended Play]
02. "Real Thang" [Remix by Rashad Smith]
03. "Real Thang" [Remix by DJ Green Lantern]
04. "The Healer" [Remix] (Ft. Pharoahe Monch)

ERYKAH BADU - "REAL THANG" / "THE HEALER"

[Review] SLUM VILLAGE - "Yes!"

By 2015 there's been a lot of posthumous releases celebrating the music of the late great J Dilla. The early projects like "The Shining", "Dillagence" and "Jay Stay Paid" were done with a lot of respect for the artist and stood on their own pretty much as well as any other official Jay Dee releases, However projects like "Return Of The Detroit", "The Lost Scrolls" EP and Yancey Boys' "Sunset Blvd." felt thrown together and really uninspired, using throwaway beats that I doubt Dilla would never have approved of being released, and I was beginning to feel that I really didn't want any more posthumous Dilla releases beside the still unreleased albums like the MCA 2002 vocal LP. Therefore I was extremely positively suprised by Slum Village's latest album "YES!". The bulk of the album features original production by Jay Dee dating back to the mid-'90s, which has then been built on and mixed by Young RJ to make them sound a little more current. Young RJ studied under Jay Dee since the early Slum days, and they have a few tracks they produced together, so as he said in an interview he felt he knew exactly what Dilla wanted with the beats they had. Being that many of the beats come from old cassettes the album has a real grimey feel, though with RJ's touch up it never sounds weird or like they had to make a compromise in any way - just like they set out to do a real grimey, throwback joint.

Production is absolutely excellent throughout, creating a real nostalgic album as SV hasn't released an album as close to in sound to the "Fan-Tas-Tic" volumes (which still stands as SV's illest projects). It also has loads of verses by Baatin which is very welcome as him and T3 always had a cool chemistry together. Now, don't get me wrong "YES!" is far from only being some nostalgic thrown together mixtape type of album. It's an album for the fans that according to interviews with T3 and Young RJ might be the final album in the Slum catalouge and as such it's a marvelous way to come full circle and close the chapter. There's not a single weak song here, there's no beats that I'm at all familiar with since before and the Jay Dee beats used are actually tracks he created with SV in mind - a song like "Yes Yes" was something they all worked together on for "Fantastic Vol. 2" but they couldn't come up with a hook at the time so they scrapped it. Baatin and T3 does a great job riding the thumping, heavily filtered soul bangers here and the guests like Jon Connor, Dwele, Illa J, De La Soul, Phife Dawg and the verses from Young RJ are all in the family which is definitely a great thing. 

There's a minimum of songs on here that doesn't stand among straight up incredible headnodders, if any. "Windows" "Push it Along" with Phife, "Right Back" with De La Soul, "Tear It Down", "Love is.../Fantastic", and the bonus track "Just Like A Test" are all stand outs though this is definitely an album that should be played from front-to-back, and it's clocking in at only 40 minutes at that. Jay Dee's trademark sound is all over this, the somewhat unsyncopated drum programming, the beautiful bass melodies, heavy filters, and melodic Rhodes and acoustic piano melodies, and so on. The only thing that feels like it's missing and would have improved the LP is if the group could have patched things up with eLzhi to at least get a couple of verse from him at least. For me, with every SV release from "Trinity" to "Villa Manifesto" his verses has always been what I've looked forward to the most hearing the most. Still with an LP that is so well put together I have to say that it works really well either way and like I put in earlier it really puts any previous posthumous J Dilla release post-2009 to shame. 


The only track not produced by Jay Dee and Young RJ are "We On" laced by Black Milk which still bangs very hard and works well in the context given the amount of material Black Milk has produced for the group throughout the years. The song was actually originally solo song by Baatin that was never finished before 'Tin's untimely passing, which has been completed with added verses by Slum Village for the LP. It's an interesting idea that is well executed, as what T3 and Young RJ has set out to do is bring together the sound of the Slum Village from then til' now. This is an interesting way to make a posthumous release which only would work in this context - a group that all worked together many times in life and making a last album together for a group that has gone through so many changes really takes things full circle. The LP is full of moments like this, songs sounding like they were actually created in the studio together by all involved rather than two deceased artists and two livign ones piezing together a full-length for 2015. An interesting tidbit is that the cover used was originally the decided cover to use for "Fantastic Vol. 2" until they decided to change it a the last minute. Compared to dissapointments like "Evolution" this album is pure classic Slum Village sound and if they decide to close it out on this joint, they are definitely closing out at the top of their game. To be honest, I'd definitely rank this amongst the quartet's finest releases ever. Be sure to don't sleep on this gem! Matter of fact be sure to head over to UGHH and order the album in your choice of LP or CD.

MidaZ - "Murky Socks"

MidaZ The BEAST is known for murking whatever joint he jumps on, and with projects like the superb "LOOPS" mixtape and his official debut "A.U." under his belt you damns sure better be up on this Florida emcee by now. Just now he dropped an incredible, previously unreleased track, called "Murky Socks", A good little bone to wait us while we're waiting for his upcoming "LOOPS #2" project so bang this one loud! 

[EP Stream] SEAN PRICE - "Songs In the Key of Price"

I've been super busy with the blog interfering with my real life, and I know I promised a Sean Price compilation for y'all. Don't worry it's commin, and I will try to it ASAP. But Sean P has been a lot in my thoughts, what an incredible entertainer, emcee and overall dope person judging by what all his huge posse has to say him. At the time of his passing word is that he had several projects already in the can that he and Duck Down was planning to release over the next few months, including a Fizzy Womack complete album, a EP/mixtape called "Songs in the Key Of Price" that is supposed to be an appetizer for his real album. I haven't followed the hip-hop blogs or my e-mail very closely lately, but I was suprised to see that Duck Down released the full "Songs..:" about a week ago which at first flew right over my head.(the release that is, not the actual music once I heard it). The digital album is an EP featuring eight songs, while the mixtape/street album features an almost completely revamped album from what the physical which features eight songs rather than 30. Either way, whatever version this is some great shit and one of the last Sean Price projects we will ever hear were he had complete creative control.... so TURN IT UP!!!

APOLLO BROWN - "Not That Guy" / "Detonate"

Apollo Brown is sometimes a little hit or miss to me, but his track record has proved time and time again that he can be an INCREDIBLY dope producer when he gets everything right and with amazing albums and EP:s under his belt I will always keep checking for him. His latest project is a "solo" project in the vein of "In Control" and "Soul Survivor" where Apollo provides banging backdrops for a handful of talented emcees from all over. The guests include MOP, Oddisee, Skyzoo & Torae, Evidence, Rasheed Chappell, Chino XL, Finale, Ras Kass, Vinnie Paz, Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Freddie Gibbs,OC, Sean Price, Reks, and more. The project drops on Mello Music Group the 25:th of September but already know you can check out the two promising singles released so far. Below you'll find the streaming singles "Not That Guy" featuring Your Old Droog and even more intriguing his collaboration with MOP called "Detonate". Bang this LOUD!!



[Video] DIAMOND D - "Jose Feliciano"

Diamond D is as I'm sure you know by now one of my absolute favorite producers, and his first two albums is either a hip-hop classic or very close to at least a personal classic. Since then his outside productions have continued to bang hard for the most part, but his solo albums and mixtapes have left a lot to be desired. 2014s "The Diam Piece" was a very pleasant suprise as Diamond left most of the rhyming to his A-list guests which gave him to cook up marvelous shit in the ktichen to get our mouths watering. His marketing campaign has been terrific too, with his new single "Jose Feliciano" being like the seventh video from the project. Check it out above, and if you haven't supported the LP yet be sure to do so ASAP. You know where to find it!

Q-BALL & CURT CAZAL - "At The Same Time" / "Demo" (Ft. MOP)

I first caught eyes and ears on the talented boom-bap esque D&D in house producer Curt Cazal on excellent records by the likes of MOP, Guru, Afu-Ra, Krumbsnatcha, Big Jaz, Craig G, Boot Camp Clik and more, pretty much always bringing the heat to whatever project he was involved in. Originally a part of the legendary late '80s posse JVC Force he would in the mid 2000s decade hook up with emcee Q-Ball & Curt Cazal (Q-n-C) and released the underrated full-length "Duo Dynamic". Since it's been quited from the duo both as a group and as solo artists/producers but now they are finally back with a brand new 45, called "At The Same Time". A powerful joint but the B-side bangs even harder, as they have grabbed Brownsville's finest for the B-side (called "Demo") of the single. Stream "At The Same Time" in full below, and to supporth the entire project be sure to cop the single at iTunes. Another sure shot from Ill Adrenaline Records, with the 7" vinyl being available now as well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

[Demo] SLUM VILLAGE - "The EPHCY Sessions"

 Browsing some SV stuff on YouTube the other day I came across a complete four minutes version of "Hoc N Pucky", one of the many short but powerful bangers on "Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1". The uploader claimed it was taken from something called "The EPHCY Sessions". Jay Dee fans will recognize EPHCY as the name of his early publishing management often listed in credits. Naturally I had to found out what this was about and to my suprise there's pretty much no info at all on where this project came from. My first thought was that it was one of those limited edition vinyl EP:s of old demos that often circulates these days but I can't find no one selling this which is why I'm posting it up for all of you to check it out for yourself.

However this is definitely the real deal, Slum Village demos from 1993 or 1994 featuring Jay Dee, Baatin and T3. The sound quality is poor but it is listenable and should without a doubt be heard at least once by any fan of this legendary group. A lot of the songs are actually dope though they only really stand on Jay Dee's beats as none of the members have really come into their own as emcees yet on here. There's a lot of clowning around and experimenting which makes me think that some of these songs were just three young guys having fun, getting used to being in the studio and trying out some ideas. Stuff like these early demos with its off-key singing in the middle of verses obviously helped the group develop the percussive vocal style they had fine tuned on "Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1". The real highlight of the set is easily "Hoc N Pucky" which is also the track that's most fully realized as a complete song. Be sure to check this one out and big shouts to Respecta.net who I borrowed the link from!

Also I want to take this moment to really strongly recommend Slum Village's latest album called "YES!", easily one of the best albums of the year. It's a very different way to create an album too as they have used old demos and previously unreleased instrumentals produced by Jay Dee with the group in mind back in the '90s which have then been completed and added on to by Young RJ. Add to that loads of previously unreleased verses by Baatin, with new stuff by T3, Young RJ, and guests Illa J, De La Soul, Phife, Black Milk, etc. Perhaps it shouldn't work but it really does and I think it would be a perfect way to close the Slum Village chapter on - with a celebration of the past and the present. The cover is even the original artwork for "Fantastic Vol. 2" which was changed at the very last minute! Pick up a copy if you haven't already, it's available from UGHH now.

01. "And I Got..."
02. "Roxanne"
03. "Dance With Me"
04. "Dance With Me" (Instrumental)
05. "Hoc N Pucky" (Original)
06. "Mountaintop"
07. "Tell Me What You Want"
08. "And I Got"
09. "Roxanne 2"
10. "Roxanne 3"
11. "The One For Me" (incomplete)

J DILLA Interview on Giles Peterson Worldwide Radio 2001

I've been heavy on my Dilla and SV shit the last couple of weeks, digging up all sorts of goodies so I thought I'd share some of them with y'all. First out is one of Jay Dee's rare interviews, as we all know the guy wasn't big on giving interviews so the few he did give always provide for an interesting look into the creation of some of his many classic records. On February 15th 2001 J Dilla appeared for a 30 minute show on Giles Peterson's Worldwide Radio on BBC Radio 1 promoting his then upcoming "Welcome 2 Detroit" LP. Listen as Jay Dee tells stories about the making of records with Erykah Badu, Slum Village, Pharcyde, D'Angelo, Q-Tip and more... Good stuff!

An interesting little side note for us real Dilla nerds is that all songs played on the show are Jay Dee productions, yet the first song they use for the intro happens to be A Tribe Called Quest's "The Love". A personal favorite from "The Love Movement" the song are not usually credited to Jay Dee as he has no writing credit on the song but perhaps he had more input on those other songs than the writing credits lets on.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

[Video] BIG TWINS - "It's A Stick Up"


One of the grimiest voices in hip hop goes all out with his new triple threat of a video, "It's A Stick Up" / "I Don't Give A Shit" / "Ben Franklin", all hard, solid tracks. Produced by Knxwledge, Animoss, and Chuck Strangers, respectively. All songs can be found on Twins latest project, the digital 21-tracks album "Thrive 2", available from iTunes now.

[Article] A look back at JERU THE DAMAJA's "Heroz 4 Hire"

In 1999, Jeru The Damaja returned to the music scene with his third solo album, "Heroz4Hire" on his own label Know Savage Productions. A lot of things had happened since The Damaja's last release, as he and his producer DJ Premier had a falling out, resulting in Jeru handling all of the production himself on the disc. Since Preemo is seen by pretty much every hip hop head as a top 3 producer, and his work with 'Ru is often held as some of his finest top-to-bottom work, there was no way that people would not be dissapointed. My personal first reaction was running through the album once or twice and putting it back on the shelf again for years. Yesterday I popped the disc into my stereo again and I must say I was pretty damn amazed at how slept this album truly is. Though there are a few wack selections here, the majority of the production is suprisingly solid and fits Jeru's style to a T... and it's like he just decided over a night that he was going to start producing because the disapperance of Preemo. Dating back to "The Sun Rises in the East", Jeru has been listed as a co-producer on all of his releases, meaning that he worked closely on the production with Preem for years, watching his process and helping to pick out samples and picking up studio tricks. And more importantly is that Jeru was planning to start producing more of his own shit even before the break from Gang Starr as revealed by this interview on a '96 Stretch & Bobbito show. One of the things about Premier that makes him a true master at his craft is his way to create a signature sound for his artists. So why many dismissed Jeru's production here as a bad imitation of DJ Premier. The fact is that On "Heroz 4 Hire" Jeru creates somewhat similiar beats to those heard on its predecessors - dark, sinister beats, stripped down to its bare minimalist essentials of broken piano chords, guitar stabs and thick, pounding drum programming that really compliments Jeru's commanding voice and raw flows in a major way.
 

Don't get it twisted though, "Heroz4Hire" is a far cry from a classic album, not only is it a big step down from his previous material - at times the LP is all over the place and a few tracks are truly bad. Without the perfection of Premier's production Jeru, with his preachy style and monotone voice, isn't the type of Nas / BIG lyricist that can hold a listener's attention over wack beats which is the case on songs like "Bitchez With Dickz" and "What A Day". However, the point is that the LP is a whole lot better than it's given credit for and I would imagine a lot of heads might even never have bothered to check it out at all.... which would be a shame! "I did the Heroz4hire joint for liberation purposes, and to show cats I can do this shit. The beats are three years old, nah mean? I did everything, all the studio work, the production, everything." Lyrically, the Damaja sounds every bit as ill here as he passionately runs through his main themes of the dangers of overly commercial hip hop, African pride, the horrors of the ghetto, Brooklyn as well as introducing the concept of fake friends on songs like "Bitches With Dick" and "99.9%", the finest song on the LP.


As far as guests go Afu-Ra is nowhere to be found - "Man, money and fame change shit up. I taught the nigga how to rhyme and all that, but now I don't see the nigga anymore. It's basically the same thing with Gang Starr. We still cool and all that, but brothas ain't on the same level right now, nah mean?" However at least Lil' Dap of The Group Home pop up for a guest verse on the otherwise forgettable "Bitchez Wit Dikz". The main guest is female emcee Miz Marvel who appears on no less than three songs, strangely enough all of them being solo songs. To my knowledge she never appeared on anything else either after or before but she's definitely got some skills, though the decision to give her three solo songs is really weird.

In conclusion, I would like to recommend any fan of Jeru The Damaja to give this album an honest chance, without any preconceived notion of comparing it to his work with Gang Starr. You might just be as suprised as I was by the dopeness of songs like "Great Solar Stance", "99.9%", "Seinfeld", "Renegade Slave", "Billie Jean (Safe Sex)", "Another Victim", and "Presha". I give The Damaja major props for showing heads that he was able to deliver a good album entirely created by himself and him alone. You can tell that he was on a mission to really prove his own worth here as he absolutely slays mics all over this LP. Just like Nas with "Illmatic", "The Sun Rises in the East" is the gift and the curse of Jeru's career and as a true bonafide classic he will always be faced with that comparision. But dismissing Jeru The Damaja's work post-Premier is definitely a mistake as there's plenty of heat rocks on all of his later albums. Hopefully his next album will see him reaching out to more established producers again as his excellent "The Hammer " EP saw him linking up with Large Professor, The Beatnuts and the still underrated PF Cuttin' (who in fact was Jeru's first producer) to great effect.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

[Video Clip] OC - "Time's Up" @ Stretch & Bobbito Anniversary

The god OC rips the crowd performing one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time in the form of his Buckwild produced breakthrough single "Time's Up". This went down at the Stretch & Bobbito Anniversary show in Central Park. Footage shot by J. Burke! Big shouts to OC, Stretch and Bobbito - legends in the game!

[Video] GANGRENE Ft. SEAN PRICE & HAVOC - "Sheet Music"


Gangrene just put together a video in tribute to Sean Price and his apperance on the sickest song from the duo's latest banger "You Disgust Me". "Sheet Music" is a Heavy posse cut with a grinding funeral organ and pounding drums where Sean P, ALC, Oh No and Havoc go head to head. Video isn't anything to write home about but it's good that they getting this song more attention at this moment! SEAN P!!!!

[Album] TALIB KWELI - "Fuck The Money"

Shit like this is always appreciated, when a major artists decides to give his loyal fans something back. Legendary Brooklyn emcee Talib Kweli has been dropping solid projects since 1998 including "Black Star" with Mos Def, "Quality", "Liberation" with Madlib and "EarDrum". His more recent output has been a bit hit-or-miss to me, with a few lukewarm albums that all had their moments but where quickly forgotten as they failed to live up to his potential. Therefore I'm glad that he's decided to release his brand new album that popped up out of nowhere and is completely free for anyone, hence the title "Fuck The Money"... and while it might not be a front-to-back masterpiece there's plenty of hot music on this digital disc. Featuring twelve tracks, Kweli is Always center stage while the few guest spots comes from Styles P, Miguel and Patrick Stump, Nire, Kendra, Niko-Is, and AB Soul. The majority of the production comes from Amadeus with additional contributions by The Alchemist (on the stand out The Venetian(, Thanks Joey, Farhot, Abhi/Dijon and Kaytrananda. Head over to the official Kweli Club Store and get your free copy by entering your e-mail adress and voila! You can also stream the entire project below via Soundcloud, which also has a download link for the full thing. Enjoy this sick mix of sick lyrics and sick beats!

[Compilation] SCARFACE - "Longevity"

This is a compilation I've been wanting to do for a long long time, and hopefully I will make a Volume 2 very soon. This summer I've been caught in something of a depression and the soundtrack to my Life this summer has with few exceptions been Scarface a.k.a. Brad Jordan, without a doubt one of the top 5 emcees to ever to do it. He always picks great beats that will get true hip hop heads from New York, the South, the West Coast, Europé or Japan truly bang their heads without taking away from his incredible wordplay - few, if any emcees have the ability to tell stories and touch on subjects like suicide, self destruction and self loathing in a way that's hundra procent truthful and relatable to everyone that feels these type of feelings once in a while - and most of us do though must don't like to admit it. Besides going through his entire catalouge of solo material and Geto Boys records plenty of times the last few months I also read his very satisfying biography "Diary Of A Madman" which I strongly, strongly recommend to anyone interested in the histroy of hip hop, and want an understand of how the Southern hip hop and the Rap-A-Lot empire made it so big as they did all over the world. And just like in his Music he doesn't spare on the grimey details that has formed him into the man he has become today - it pretty much all in there, the good and the bad, the drugs, the betrayals, the suicidal tendencies, and so on. Again, I can't stress how terrific this book is, by far one of the best hip-hop biographies I've read in my life and I've read plenty.

This compilation, which I decided to call "Longevity" stands as a perfect companion piece to that book, a long with the rest of his catalouge. I tried to make it a coherrent experience while making sure we get songs spanning from 1992 to 2012 - twenty years in the making, hence the title. I also tried to include some of the work he has done with both East Coast, West Coast and Southern producers and artists so you'll find classics, new and obscure records produced and featuring legends like WC, Buckwild, DJ Premier, Troy Ave., Too $hort, Nas, Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, KanYe West, Common, Mos Def, Dr. Dre, Stat Quo, Ice Cube, Seagram, FaceMob, and so on. Since my PhotoShop is working I just borrowed the cover for the "Dopeman Music" pre-megamix release (not the actual mixtape), but it's better than nothing. Don't sleep on this, whether or not you're already up on Scarface or not this will work well for any true hip-hop fanatic so be sure to TURN IT UP!!

01. Scarface - "Street Life"
02. Scarface - "Among The Walking Dead" (Ft. FaceMob)
03. Jay-Z / Scarface / Beanie Sigel - "This Can't Be Life"
04. Seagram - "Action Speaks Louder Than World"
05. Scarface / FaceMob - "FaceMob"
06. Ice Cube / Scarface / Nas / Juice - "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It"
07. Too $hort / Scarface - "Longevity"
08. DJ EFN / Scarface / Troy Ave. / Smitty / DJ Premier - "Who's Crazy"
09. Common / Scarface / Mos Def - "The Corner Remix"
10. Smitty / Scarface / KanYe West / John Legend - "Ghetto"
11. Stat Quo / Scarface - "The Way It Be"
12. WC / Scarface - "So Hard"
13. Compton's Most Wanted / Scarface - "N 2 Deep"
14. NASA / Scarface / Ghostface Killah / Cool Kids - "The Mayor"
15. Jay-Z / Scarface / Beanie Sigel - "Some How, Some Way"
16. Scarface / Nas / DJ Premier - "Hip Hop"
17. Scarface / Anthony Hamilton - "Sunshine to the Rain"

SCARFACE - "LONGEVITY"