3/2/21

Rian Wyld - She Is Me

There could actually be a summer, like a real one. I'm going to have to finish writing this book, start editing it, get these screenplays going, buy a ring, line up LIRR03, unload the rest of these LIRR01 tapes, spend more time with family and friends, get a raise, and listening to She Is Me by Rian Wyld makes me feel I can definitely do all that and more this year. 

She Is Me is the latest release on Hofstra University's student-run label, Unispan. The album came into this world at the same time Wyld did something more trying than all the stuff mentioned above: brought another person into this world. Check out three videos from the project below and stream it in full here.

2/28/21

Get 2 Know Deaf 2 U


Deaf 2 U aka Deaf 2 U Productions/Inc. was the production duo of Lucious "Luck" Mercer and Neal "Purp" Forrester, who first met at Amityville Junior High School. The group produced three songs for Gee Street singer Ambersunshower (previously a member of the duo Groove Garden) and another three for De La Soul, culminating with masterpiece "Trying People," the final track on AOI: Bionix. Shortly thereafter, they reemerged producing and rapping under the new name, Mood Doctors, with their debut album General Medicine released independently on a label called Deaf 2 U. (Mood Doctors have since released no fewer than seven albums, but that's for another post or seven.) 

Mercer and Forrester did also rap under the name Deaf 2 U on at least one song, "Caution," which appeared on Tags Of The Times Version 2.0, a compilation put out by Japanese label Mary Joy Recordings in 1999. An interesting artifact of its times, this compilation series featured tracks from some of the most popular underground hip-hop acts of the late '90s and early '00s, including Company Flow, MF DOOM, Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock and Aceylaone to name just a few. Nevertheless, Deaf 2 U's appearance stands out and not just because it's the only song they released under the name. It's also noteworthy to hear two artists who came up under De La Soul (if you haven't figured it out already Luck is Posdnuos's brother) rapping on a song produced by Da Beatminerz's Mr. Walt in a kind of alternative hip-hop setting. In that sense, "Caution" foreshadows the turn De La themselves would take on their AOI albums.

Below you can hear "Caution" followed by Deaf 2 U's first credit, Ambersunshower's "Blue Skies Butterflies" (1995), and De La Soul's "Oooh," "Foolin'" and "Trying People." (For the other two Ambersunshower tracks Deaf 2 U did, you'll have to dig up her Walter T. maxi-single.)

2/21/21

Lungs - Osprey Tape

Repping NYC's Tase Grip by way of our Wrong Island, Lungs aka Lone Sword spits on this, his Osprey Tape, like a rap fiend scripting bars far beyond a regular user's fatal dose o'er beats like flakes picked from carpet, gathered together and sculpted into one glorious hit. A 26th birthday present to self, it's his longest and most complete project to date, which also makes Osprey a fittting, though long overdue, debut for Lung on this here site. Stream continuous

Break Plissken - Not an End in Itself

Another timely blend from the Break man's Minneapolis sessions.

2/16/21

Dunbar - "Why You Do That" (prod. by Josh Lamont)


For "Why You Do That," Dunbar summoned up the type of Josh Lamont beat that helped make Rozewood's The Ghost of Radio Raheem one of, if not the, last decade's dopest documents of Amityville hip-hop. It's short, slow, and straight to the point of slapping the shit out of you. Sure Shot and Bunchy Cartier's No Hook 3 has been operating in kind since October 2020.

2/15/21

Kaleber - "P.T.I." ft. Zonya Love

 
The words "it's been a long time" speak more than volumes in hip-hop; they speak classics bridging decades. When Kaleber raps them on "P.T.I.," they speak too of the silence between now and the stated departure, of an endless unspoken void all the more familiar now in times of isolation and distance, and of the indescribable regret one knows feeling they could have done something more to prevent that departure, to close that distance. "P.T.I." embodies the indescribable and in so doing, one hopes, helps to heal the lasting unimaginable trauma Kaleber has endured losing his brother and going on in this world without him. 

1/27/21

"Paid In Full" (Julio "Ton" Rodriguez Edit)

One of my personal favorite posts from eight years (!!!) of doing these Rakim Weeks is 2017's Behind the Boards of Coldcut's "Paid In Full" 7 Minutes of Madness Mix, and one of the things I like most about that remix is how, in a way, it foreshadowed the kind of anarchistic bricolage aesthetic that would later become a hallmark of the duo's Ninja Tune label. No doubt that remix arguably forever altered the course of hip-hop and music in general.

Back on this side of the pond, though, there was another 7-plus-minute remix of "Paid In Full." This one, which was issued on a white label sometime in the late 1980s with remixes of KRS-One and Public Enemy songs, was actually done exlusively for the club but ended up getting bootlegged and released without the remixer's name attached to it. Fast-forward decades: shortly after the remix is posted to YouTube in 2011, Julio "Ton" Rodriguez pops up in the comments claiming it as his own and providing a back-story on how it came to be. Rodriguez introduced himself as a DJ who did arrangements and editing work for Pal Joey, and said he put together this remix along with the KRS-One edit for Roman Ricardo to spin at Club 1018 (formerly The Roxy in Chelsea, Manhattan). "However, it got in the hands of the wrong person, and ... I never got recognition for the work I performed," he explained.

Ton's props may be long overdue but they're certainly deserved. An edit of the Coldcut remix, this version does seem to have a more distinctly New York club flavor than the British source material. Check it out below, along with the KRS-One "My Philosophy" edit that accompanies it.

1/26/21

Rakim's "My Melody" Jazz Demo with DJ Maniack & Stevie Blass Griffin

In the 2018 edition of Rakim Week, I shared a two-part documentary by James "Kraze" Billings called Check Out My Melody. If you haven't already watched this in full, do that. If you have, you should remember the clip of the pre-Eric B. jazz version of "My Melody" that played at the start of the second part. How could you forget it? 

For years since that documentary came out, I've been hoping the full track would surface. Sadly, that still hasn't happened. However, earlier this year, Kraze posted the entirety of his interview with Rakim's early DJ and producer, DJ Maniack, portions of which appeared in the documentary. Here, Maniack shares his recollections of several iterations of "My Melody" that were recorded before before Eric B. and Marley Marl entered the picture. These include the aforementioned jazz version.

As DJ Maniack (pictured on the left, above) recalls, "Me and Griff [Rakim’s older brother Stevie “Blass” Griffin] had already made this jazz tune. Griff had invented this jazz tune. He taught me how to play this melody while he played the bass line, and then he played some chords on top of that while I added some DJ stuff, and it was a jazz tune — it was really hot. And Rakim came and laid the 'Melody' lyrics over that jazz tune and we recorded that… That was the second 'Melody.'"

Below you can watch the full interview with DJ Maniack and stream or download the 41-second clip of Rakim's "My Melody" jazz demo with musical accompaniment by Blass (pictured below) and Maniack.