Richard Flesh - Violent Ballets

Limted, custom-packaged tapes available
Violent Ballets isn't rap or r&b or instrumental hip-hop, which means you won't find anything else like it here. 

So, what's it like? Maybe art rock? But with very little rock and really fucked up art at that. Released the same day the U.S. declared COVID-19 a national emergency, Violent Ballets does make for perfect pandemic music, though recorded months earlier. A while back, presumably while he was working on this, I asked Richard Flesh what he'd been listening to lately. He sighed, maybe even groaned, and got that look people get when you ask them something too excruciatingly complicated to get into. But we were at a barbeque in Wantagh Park, and the schmutz was flowing — like I said, these were simpler times — so with only a little prodding, he indulged me and rattled off a litany of geniuses not typicially mentioned in the same sentence. I can't remember exactly who but for comparison's sake, let's say it was La Monte Young, Shostakovich, Sun Ra and John Carpenter (at least one or two of those names probably came up, at any rate).

Produced, arranged, composed, performed and collaged by Richard Flesh, and mixed by the esteemed Gareth Jones (the guy who introduced sampling to Depeche Mode), Violent Ballets draws as much from the psychosphere that passively haunts both Memorial Day celebrations and long-overdue national emergency declarations. If the spot on the wall your cat spends hours staring at made a sound, it might go something like this.


De La Soul - “Remove 45”

Find your polling place here (NY) or here (elsewhere in U.S.). Polls are open until 9PM in NY. If you're still on the line when polls close, do not leave — you have the right to cast a ballot. Fuck fascism.


PIRATA - "Davey Jones Locker"

Pirata is the duo of Atoms Family veterans Cryptic One on the mic and Jestoneart on the beats. It's also the name of an upcoming album from the duo, which you can get on CD for free — yes, FREE (plus shipping) — just by signing up for Cryptic One's mailing list. In addition to his works with NYC undeground rap royalty (such as fellow Atoms Familyman Vordul Mega, who makes a guest appearance in this video) and his many solo efforts as both rapper and producer, you might recognize Cryptic One from LongIslandRap.Comp v4. As for Jestoneart, if you haven't heard TheParadoxicalState, fix your life.



Easy Mo Bee, S.I.D., Miles Davis & Nikki D
In the annals of Long Island rap, Sidney "S.I.D." Reynolds is probably best known as a protege of Rakim, one half of the group Sid & B-Tonn and founder of the short-lived Crimedanch Cartel. However, his mark on the music industry is much bigger than his local ties. 

Lyor Cohen helped link S.I.D. with New Jersey rapper Nikki D for whom he produced the hit song, "Dadddy's Little Girl," which reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot Rap Singles Chart. With this credit on his resume, S.I.D. was called on to produce or remix numerous singles, including songs by Slick Rick and Freddie Foxx. He saw perhaps his greatest success as the in-house producer for the Flavor Unit, doing beats for a large chunk of Queen Latifah's Gold album, Black Reign, as well as songs for Apache and Naughty By Nature. 

In listening through his discography, it occurs to me that a sizable portion of it — including several of his biggest singles — featured him producing or remixing songs for female rappers and singers. This might have been a result of labels hiring him in an attempt to duplicate his successes with Nikki D and Queen Latifah, or it could be due to his penchant for sampling soulful jazz songs that lent themselves to the '90s R&B sound, or maybe he was just a lady's man. Whatever the reason, I put together the following playlist showcasing 11 songs he produced or remixed for female singers and rappers. (Oddly enough, not one of these ladies was from Long Island.) For more information on S.I.D., I encourage you to read his interviews with Jesse Serwer and Jaz.


Charles DaBeast - "Deal or No Deal"

It's been five (!) years since we covered Charles DaBeast. Since then, he hasn't let up a bit despite some setbacks; case in point his 2020 output. "Coming off my 4th release this year and two music videos, I bring my latest effort," he writes. "I'd describe this release as old-school rap with a contemporary twist, my goal was to get a few bars off and complement them with a melodic hook. The lyrics address my staunch stance towards record labels and recording contracts especially after experiencing being shorted in most recent years."


Zigs - "Everything Will Be Fine"

This is Zigs. Her song is so nice you might almost believe her for a second. You can hear more from her here. This is the the firsthand account of a reporter present for the execution of Mussolini: 

While I watched, a civilian tramped across the bodies and dealt Mussolini‘s shaven head a terrific kick. Someone pushed the twisted head into a more natural position again with a rifle butt. 
Although the Duce’s upper teeth now protruded grotesquely, there was no mistaking his jaw. In death, Mussolini seemed a little man. He wore a Fascist Militia uniform — grey breeches with a narrow black stripe, a green-grey tunic and muddy black riding boots. A bullet had pierced his skull over the left eye and emerged at the back, leaving a hole from which the brains dripped. Mistress Petacci, 25 -year-old daughter of an ambitious Roman family, wore a white silk blouse. In her breast were two bullet holes ringed by dark circles of dried blood.
The mob surged and swayed around the grisly spot. One woman emptied a pistol into the Duce’s body. “Five shots!” she screamed. “Five shots for my five murdered sons!” Others cried: “He died too quickly! He should have suffered!” But the hate of many was wordless. They could only spit.


Top Ninja - "Stories of the Drip" / "Fuck Punch n Kickin"

Canibus told LL Cool J, "99 percent of your fans wear high heels." LL replied, "99 percent of your fans don't exist." (We all know there was a moment where Canibus turned to one of his friends and said, "That doesn't even make sense.") Decades later, Elucid added on, "99 percent of your fans are sex bots," which is to say they both wear high heels and don't exist. Or don't they?!?! Cue Top Ninja's sex bot drillgorithm rap. If green screens were bass lines and Pen & Pixel graphics vinyl loops, that might get you halfway here. Add on a clothing endorsement deal and lyrics so straightforward you can't possibly look away — e.g., "I see that ass and all I can think / I need that ass in my life" — and you've officially arrived.

Hagen - "Climax"

Hagen looks at the mix like I'm looking at the new blogger interface right now, like why are you doing this to me ... why. Why is there an extra, invisible line break above the photo? Why isn't there any space between the text and the photo border? Why?! Oh, so you want this to only display properly on mobile devices? Here, what if I do this? OK, so one of those things is fixed. For now. But what about next time? 

While Google eats itself, stubborn makers such as myself and Mr. Hagen plod on, against the wind, ever uphill, lamenting our losses at the screens coldly staring back at us "How do you make choices like this easy? I would never do that to you. Oh, oh, oh." You hear us, Google? Do you?!


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.