Naww G - The Long Island Zoo

First thing that stands out about Naww G's Long Island Zoo track list: it contains not only the tempo of each song but also its key. (You're welcome, DJ.) Second thing that stands out, to me at least: the "Interlude" is tagged as a Naww G diss. By now, the self-deprecating introspection trick isn't all that new, but this one's curious because it actually features another rapper, 46SWIN. Get to the song and you'll hear that 46SWIN is in fact the only rapper on it. So, Naww G used a Naww G diss by another person as the centerpiece to his album. And it's a pretty personal diss at that. Dismiss this as mere gimmickry and miss the dimension it lends an album that's by its own admission alternatingly rep-obsessed and star-chasing. Hyperlocal meta-rap concepts for the win. 


Pozy One - "This Is Life"

Poz lives! מוֹדָה אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי ,בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ׃‎. I just finished Snowfall and will politely resist the urge to spoil the final season for all of my friends out of a futile hope that they one day might enjoy it for themselves. But if you've seen it, you know what I'm getting at! Alternate take: never have I ever watched Stranger Things, but from what I can gather it's about how an abandoned top secret government facility out east inadvertently sent a warship back in time. Convince me otherwise. Poz lives! וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם וְעָשׂ֨וּ לָהֶ֥ם צִיצִ֛ת עַל־כַּנְפֵ֥י בִגְדֵיהֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹתָ֑ם וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־צִיצִ֥ת הַכָּנָ֖ף פְּתִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃ וְהָיָ֣ה לָכֶם֮ לְצִיצִת֒ וּרְאִיתֶ֣ם אֹת֗וֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוות יְהוָ֔ה וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־תָתֻ֜רוּ אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃ לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְותָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ אֲנִ֞י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִהְי֥וֹת לָכֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִ֑ים אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃


A.Slay - Slaytape V1

By now, (if you exist, dear reader) you may have noticed that the Slayhouse Music Group tag has popped up more than once on this site over the past few months. The women's collective is the brainchild and namesake of none other than Westbury born, Brentwood raised singer-songwriter A.Slay. Sadly she hasn't released much of late, but her 2019 Slaytape EP just might be the crew's definitive statement. And I say this despite the fact that only one other member appears on it (K.Sole on the final track). Slaytape V1  is a sultry statement of heart-worn dispossession. Better to have loved and to have lost vibes abound impromptu parties. And pops takes out the cipher. By the way, that's Volume one not roman numeral six but here's hoping for five more.


I.R.O.C. - "K.A.O.S."

The International Representatives Of Chaos (I.R.O.C.) were a Syracuse University rap act comprised of MC Jozzel, a track runner from Great Neck, and DJ Geminii. The latter would go on to launch Geminii records and do at least two more singles with Jozzel, although neither of them were released under the I.R.O.C. banner. The group is not to be confused with the Long Beach, California g-funk outfit that released "I Came from the Pound" in 1991 and again in 1993 on Doggy Style Recordz. This predates that by about three years. Other Long Island rap records released in 1988 include "Night of the Living Baseheads," "Strictly Business," and "Microphone Fiend," putting "K.A.O.S." in good company to say the least.


Mak Strange - #OPENSESAME

Presentism is a dead-end street. If Rakim first dropped today, would he go platinum or homeless? We like to think he'd find his way to the masses like Jay Electronica finding his way to Jus Blaze and then Hot 97, but let's not forget that Jay Electronica was homeless and is yet to go Platinum. But if Rakim were to first drop today, go homeless, and get even more obsessive over about his craft as a result, I like to think he'd be cool with Mak Strange. Every day might be a struggle. He might not ever turn a dollar from rapping. But he would still be the greatest rapper of all time. Every song here is at least three and a half years old. They've aged better than the public consciousness, and that's actually saying a lot in my opinion.


Blaq Kush - There's Always Hope Vol. 3

A catalog of dreams deferred, There's Always Hope opened up about as personally as possible, with a home recording of a child singing. If the series' second volume expanded its possibilities, the third doubles down on its duality. "Hope" is a good thing but also nothing. "Always" implies infinite, unattainable. When Rick told Islet, "We'll always have Paris," he meant memories. He was saying, "You'll never see me alive again." Kids represent potential. There's Always Hope Vol. 3 has a standout song called "We Couldn't have the Baby." It's about exactly what the title indicates, but still manages to end on a positive note, with the narrator and his lost love reunited in a nursing home. The project itself follows suit, concluding with the glistening twilight of "Summer in NYC." Here, Shalee Beats channels Uptown Saturday Night-era Ski Beatz while Blaq Kush reconciles independent-as-fuck irreverence with the shiny suit era it railed against. It's the song of a summer that may never come or go.



Swad - Boyz a Liar / Telling Everybody

For most of its existence, Hot 97's Summer Jam has been held in New Jersey. It's like Jets and Giants games in that way—ostensibly for New Yorkers but really only those who will make the trek to a neighboring state. In 2023, the rap music industry's major public-facing annual trade show returns to New York for the first time in 20 years. But it won't be held in New York City. Instead, the UBS Arena in Elmont will play host to the event. Will any of the performers taking the stage June 4 realize let alone acknowledge they're in Nassau not Queens County? Who knows? But you can bet that the show's promoters know it, and let it ride that there's some corporate tax benefit at the heart of this relocation maneuver. Box that like the Belmont Stakes. Hopefully, the audience will know where they're at, too, and in this recognize that Long Island is as inextricably linked to hip-hop's past, present, and future as any of the five boroughs. Like I was saying to one of my favorite musicians earlier tonight, there's the politic and then there's the emotion. Beyonce and Ice Spice offer plenty to consider in terms of both interpretations. And Swad's remixes of their recent hits relish in the interconnectedness of the two.


MeccaGodZilla - "Tread" ft. thekeenone & Eric Bobo

MeccaGodZilla was a flagship producer for billy woods' Backwoodz Studioz, Eric Bobo was a percussionist on Ill Communication, and thekeenone was the first person to express to me the value of streaming platforms for sharing one's music. This was in the days of divshare, which still exists somehow—wild. All of these artists are also much more than these minor credits. And in 2008 they coalesced for a Bobo song soon to appear on MeccaGodZilla's compilation, Hidden Jewels of Mecca.

Thekeenone obliterates everything here, on some BFG-9000 clear the room, take no prisoners shit. 

WilliefromtheDrive - Lose Until You Win

Job hunt, love life, house hunt, channel surfing, crate digging, competitive sport, poker, trading stock, fantasy sport, acting, songwriting, sentience, conception, evolution, the big bang—there are exceptions, of course, but generally it's all Lose Until You Win. Know the ledge and still jump like Geronimo on some "Ordo Abchao." The Myth of Sisyphus is about becoming the most superhumanly diesel version of yourself, like Pumping Iron.

Being an 80-year-old man, I've taken some lumps in my day, but it's not how many times you get knocked down—it's cushioning the ground beneath you such that getting knocked down becomes unbothersome, pleasant even. Keeping with that thread, WilliefromtheDrive would be the second artist posted here who I first heard about via an aforementioned PDF that hipped me to the fact Hempstead has a thriving drill scene. Lose Until You Win dropped in January, making it a semi-ancient artifact of said scene, but like I said, I'm 80, so times fly.


Kush Blank - Walking LLC

The farther east, the fewer the sidewalks, the closer the sands, real ones or deposits become real, oceanic countersprawl, low-tide phonk, high-tide subterranea. No waterworks, the waters rise, reclaiming mansions and making beachfronts of bungalows. Pocketbooks overflow, pharmacological and/or horticultural. SpongeBob: the whole operation's underwater. The fisherman comes back for revenge, visiting Jason Vorhees hockey penalties on retro-dandy price gougers, high sticking, slashing. New Zealand harbor mates communicate via whale calls and dolphin carrier bottle messages. "I get my powers from the water."