9/23/20

Public Enemy - "Fight The Power (2020 Remix)" feat. Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Jahi, YG & QuestLove

One YouTube comment reads, "Chuck D didn't need to write a new verse because the original is still as relevant as it was in 1989." That pretty much says it all.

Smitty D & Rock Squad - Facts of Life / Kic Kic

Rock Squad aka Smitty D & Rock Squad released all of two singles before fading to obscurity. Today they're best know as the group Parish Smith aka PMD (fka DJ Eazzy P) was in before EPMD, the one led by his brother Smitty D. While that's always going to be the central talking point around these records, it's also worth noting how different they sound from one another despite being released only one year apart from each other. To hear it from Rock Squad, Hip-Hop evolved awful fast between 1985 and 1986. While "Facts of Life" is pure '80s electro dance rap, "Kic Kic" looks ahead to the stripped down boom-bap of the man who "mixed" this record, Marley Marl. Hearing them back to back is a study in rap's changing of the guard.

9/22/20

Escapism - "Bootlicker"

A few years back, I got into it on Twitter with a certain white, Suffolk County rapper over whether the president was emboldening Long Island's armchair white supremacists to voice their hate more publicly. He contended that wasn't happening. Now they're literally screaming "n****r lover" at protesters a few towns from his home. You live, you learn. Escapism is Smithtown's Taboo and New Jersey's TabInStereo. Register to vote. Find your polling place. Vote.

Kendo TAF - Shut 'Em Down (Live)

"I had a lot of issues growing up," Kendo TAF once said, speaking about how his Hyenaz in the Desert group arrived at its horrocore look. "How bad it was. It darkened me. Like I don’t want to be around nobody; when I did the mask it made me feel I was hiding. But I can still speak. It took a life of it’s own. It became the insignia when you see me. That’s what you see. This dangerous dude but he changed his ways. That mask let you know there’s a darkside to this dude." Kendo would shed the mask for the cover of 2006's Almost Famous only to don it again in videos and on tour with Public Enemy. Below, he raps both with and without it over Pete Rock's "Shut 'Em Down" remix, live in Japan in 2009.

9/11/20

Johnny Storm - Blacc Leathers & Gold Chains

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, the agency's School Breakfast Program served over 2.4 billion breakfasts in FY2018. The very inclusion of the letters FY in that stat says a lot. Johnny Storm fka Uncle John fka Sky Walker has been on this site since 2016 and rapping further back than then. Christ Kenneth is a relative newcomer to these pages. I'm not saying this is that, but if Johnny Storm and Christ Kenneth came out as a group called the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, would anyone object? Meantime, Blacc Leathers & Gold Chains is 12 of the most nutritional minutes of rap music you'll hear this fiscal year.

9/3/20

Poepan the Prolifik Penn - "DoItTogether!"

Sometimes, there's not much one can say; see me watching this video, knowing I'm going to sit back and let it speak for itself.

Sometimes, there's a lot to say; see Poepan the Prolifik Penn getting so galvanized by the movement he comes out the woodwork, i.e, off a multi-year hiatus, with something like this:

"Our philosophies derive from Haile Selassie, Garvey, El Hajj Malik and others hated by Nazis / DGS is my posse of Buffalo Soliders bombarding the industry with artistry."

Hear, motherfucking hear.

9/2/20

Nomad Carlos x The Artivist - The Psyche

The rental rolls down a desolate highway, winding hills on either side with many behind, more ahead, and nothing else to command the driver's attention. His mind wanders abyssal spirals. Until ... what's that ahead? Any blip along this route would demand a stop if only to see something other than open road and barren hills. A fruit stand? Perfect. Pull off. But wait ... who works this place? Something's wrong. The sign reads Freshly Picked but the setup screams store bought. And there's the discarded Driscolls package. Click. Bang. Vroom.

8/21/20

Akari - NOMOH

If you know Akari as a rapper, you know that his voice resides in the low-end of the frequency spectrum. I've called him the Barry White of hip-hop; if that pitch isn't his hallmark it's only because his beats and rhymes are every bit as engaging.

NOMOH, Akari's first cassette release, showcases the artist's evolving talents as a producer as he ekes post-regional funk from deftly composed arrangements of dusty loops and vintage synths. Still, the low-end remains his wheelhouse, lyrical sub bass lines speaking volumes on his voice box's behalf.

In recent years, Akari has co-produced and engineered some brilliant work for stablemates AM and Isaac Thursday (and was also the only artist to appear on two tracks on LongIslandRap.Comp v4) , and while those collaborations have been amazing in their own right, it's vindicating to hear Akari's sound boom even deeper speaking wholly for itself.

8/16/20

What Happened to the Legion of D.U.M.E. Members Who Weren't in Darc Mind...

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of interviewing Darc Mind, the duo of MC Kevroc and DJ/producer GM Web D aka X-Ray Da Mindbenda. One of the many topics we touched on was Legion of D.U.M.E., the crew that Darc Mind was part of before branching out on their own. Legion of D.U.M.E. released its sole single, Son's of Sam b/w Darc Mind Inc. indpendently in '94. Seventeen years later, Dope Folks Records issued the '94 Dume EP, including the two tracks from that single and four other songs the group had recorded in their day. Now, we know what Kevroc and GM Web D were up to before and after Legion of D.U.M.E., but what about the other members of this crew?

In our interview, Web identified the two rappers appearing with Kevroc on "Son's of Sam" as Schott Free and MC Prime. He also named B-Wyze as a founding member.

Staten Islander Schott Free is best known to most hip-hop heads as the former A&R for LoudRecords, who helped bring legendary groups such as Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and The U.N. to the label; he also co-executive produced The Infamous and Marcberg among other projects. As a rapper, Schott Free hasn't released much. However, it turns out he did put together something of a solo project called The Tom Hagen Tragedy, which features Roc Marciano and Lagato Shine among others. Two songs from this project — "Sake, Me & Rocky" with Roc Marc and "X-Clusive" with Sadat X — are included in the playlist below. Schott Free has also continued to help bring other artists up via his Frozen Files collective.

By comparison, much less is known about MC Prime. Surprisingly, Web identified him as an early KMD member who was signed to the Idlers label. It's hard to figure which, if any, Idlers release(s) he was a part of, though the label's first single, 1986's "Merlin," was by a group/artist named Legion, so ... maybe that's it? Anyway, years after Legion of D.U.M.E. dissolved, Prime resurfaced under the alias, Third Rail Phantom, as one-third of a group called Hocuz Pocuz along with MC Lando Lakes and DJ/producer Chris Loot. Hocuz Pocuz released at least two singles: 1999's "Rip the Mic" and 2003's "Summer in the City," the latter of which was executive produced by DJ Kay Slay. There's also what appears to be a full-length album called 123 on the Hocuz Pocuz YouTube channel, albeit without an ordered tracklist; three of those trafcks, all of which feature Prime predominently, are in the playlist below.

Lastly, we come to B-Wyze  who Web says might have come up with the name and idea for the group. Despite not being on the Legion of D.U.M.E. single, B-Wyze was arguably involved in more high-profile projects than anyone else in the crew other than Schott Free. As a Public Enemy affiliate, B-Wyze was a member of 5ive-O aka the Homicide Squad as well as Professor's Griff's Last Asiatic Disciples and featured prominently on those groups' respective albums, If U R Not Part Uv Da Solution... and Pawns in the Game. He also rapped alongside Chuck D himself on "Endonesia," from the Public Enemy frontman's 1996 solo debut, Autobiography of Mistachuck, co-wrote the song, "Wandering Eyes," by Nuttin' Nyce off the Sister Act 2 Soundtrack, and is likely related to singer Carolyn Harding, who appeared on a number of popular dance singles in the '80s and '90s. B-Wyze raps on four songs in the playlist below, including a strong standout from X-Ray Da Mindbenda's Monsta Mixes Vol. 2.

 

8/12/20

Adam Snow - "42" ft. Freddie Gibbs & Josh Alias

When you get on a track with an MC like Freddie Gibbs — an MC who has done multiple projects with Madlib and Alchemist, an artist who's consistently in the conversation for best rapper and best project of the year, and who somehow manages to pull all this off while often sounding like he's barely even trying — you must do more than come correct. If you're Josh Alias, you recognize this, so you come with the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. This is what it sounds like when an MC who specializes in blacking the fuck out pushes himself far beyond his personal best and then just keeps going. Look for Alias and Snow's collaborative album, A Place In the Sun, coming soon.