6/28/20

Remy Represent - "Juneteenth"

Seeing the words "Remy Represent" pop up on the Soundcloud feed is a rare treat. This is because, as far as I can tell, Remy Represent has released a total of two solo tracks over the past five years. The first, "Death Prone," was accompanied by a beautifully dark short film, which, in combination with Remy's incisively introspective lyrics, managed to lift the goth-rap sentiment that was beginning to find traction around the middle of the decade, from mere aesthetics to real art. Five years later, "Juneetenth" comes with no artwork, video or mastering, and no less gravity than its predecessor. Here, Remy Represent speaks truth to power, framing the day's social unrest as an extension of Black people's 400-plus-year struggle for freedom, justice and equality. Yet again Remy Rep's real.

6/24/20

"He's a Caveman, It's Another Time!" R.A. the Rugged Man Puts the Id in Long Island.

Photo by Enkrypt Los Angeles
I didn't plan to bring up the Jive showcase riot. I promise I didn't. I wanted to talk to R.A. the Rugged Man about b-sides like "Smithhaven Mall" and "Even Dwarfs Started Small" and longtime collaborators like Anthony "Capital T" Marotta and Marc Niles. We covered them too, but some stories just have a way of slipping themselves into conversation.

Several times in this interview, R.A. channels the voices of his critics. When I try to ask about his favorite '90s records from rappers who never dropped albums, he becomes his old label. Talking his latest album, All My Heroes Are Dead, I try to ask about the dichotomy between "First Born" (about R.A.'s daughter) and "The Big Snatch" (about a giant vagina). He becomes those who've been telling him to "grow up" since he was a teenager. When I ask if his album titles are in conversation with each other (i.e., is All My Heroes Are Dead a response to Legends Never Die as that was to Die, Rugged Man, Die), he is less certain. Ditto when I commend him for helping fans through tough times.

Few names are more synonymous with Long Island hip-hop than R.A. the Rugged Man, and it occurs to me now that may be partly because he somehow represents the id in this island, its instinct to need, want, react and create. If this drives R.A., it's done well for him, as he's continually recognized by his peers as one of the most gifted lyricists in all of underground hip-hop, and for mutliple decades at that. If not, he also has two lovely kids and legions of adoring fans. And if all else fails, Niles, Cap and Big Earth the Midget Face are still making beats.

Below: Long Island Rap Records humbly presents an extensive discussion with R.A. the Rugged Man, which took place Saturday, June 20, 2020.

6/23/20

Kai Fortyfive - Silky Joints

There's a dearth of love songs on this site. It's not you. It's me.

Kai Fortyfive's Silky Joints isn't posted here as a corrective measure, but it is that. It's music to hold your lover close by, that shelter from the storm, that Quiet Storm set spliced and assigned to the pads.

On "Knockin' Timbs," Kai says, "Every king need a queen and every queen need a king / Everybody need somebody, everything is everything," and it's just the coda. How that's not already the chorus of a classic soul song our mothers and fathers sing each other on special occasions is beyond me.

6/14/20

Tokyo Cigar - Rough Enough to Break New York from Long Island

The latest remix collection from Tokyo Cigar, Rough Enough to Break New York from Long Island is the type of project that's so dope it makes me angry. So many questions: How did he do this shit? How isn't he one of the most sought beatmakers working today? How have I never posted anything about K-Solo this whole time?

Every track on here is eminently enjoyable, and the replay value is tremendous. Moreover, several songs are so well reimagined here, one could easily argue the remixes are every bit as fresh as the originals were when they dropped — no small feat considering Tokyo's selections.

To my ears, immediate standouts include Tokyo Cigar's remixes of R.A. the Rugged Man's "Till My Heart Stops," Aesop Rock's "Citronella," Prodigy's "Pile Raps," and EPMD's "Strictly Business." The range of styles those tracks present is indicative of the breadth of abilities Tokyo Cigar showcases throughout the project. Breadth is a good word for it too, because these beats somehow open up the track even when the backing acappella's a busybody. Easily the second best LI hip-hop compilation to drop this year {nudge}, Rough Enough to Break New York from Long Island should be on repeat all summer.

6/10/20

B-Christ - M1

From Friday Night Car Shows in LIRR parking lots to drag races on Deer Park Avenue, one usually need not look far on Long Island to find examples of the area's car culture. Personally speaking, it's more of my dad's bag than mine.

That said, as a former delivery boy, I do enjoy a good drive, especially when it's accompanied by good tunes. M1's trunk-thumping bass and four-seat soundstage speak to B-Christ's appreciation for the same. And hey, great minds think alike.

M1 is the second whip-minded project B-Christ has dropped this year following March's SSD3 (short for Super Stunt Dummy). Both bang, especially in terms of pavement shaking, perfect for demoralizing and dispersing a gathering of racist white Long Island counter-demonstrators.

Drive carefully now.



6/9/20

One Single, Many Sides: A Closer Listen to Burnt Clique's Dipladoekisss / Wild Wild East

Before delving any deeper, due credit must be given to the always dope HipHop-TheGoldenEra blog, whose coverage of "Wild Wild East" brought Burnt Clique and their sole single to my attention in the first place. Reading about and listening to J-Boogie the Journalist, Capital the Crimelord, and S-ON the Terrible, I thought I recognized at least one of the Burnt Clique members from somewhere, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it, so I kept digging.

As the post linked above explains, Burnt Clique dropped their debut single on Blank Records in 1996. As far as one can tell, it's also their only single. Burnt Clique also released The Album on CD in 2004, but without any audio floating around at present date, "Dipladoekisss" and "Wild Wild East" would appear to be the only tracks you can hear from them, a shame as they only leave the listener wanting more.

Thankfully, the post linked to J-Boogie's Facebook page, where we find the rapper today continues to release music under his given name, Jay Hill. Moreoever, he continues to rep Long Island, with anthems such as "Long Island State of Mind" off his 2013 mixtape, Strong Like the Island I'm From (the title referencing a Posdnuos line from "The Bizness"). Jay has most definitely updated his sound since 1996 — check out "No Benefits" released just a few days ago, for example — but the unmistakable voice and talent he showcased on "Dipladoekisss" remain sharp as ever. As nice as this was to hear, though, I wasn't sure it was ringing the same bells that I thought I'd heard on first hearing Burnt Clique, so further I searched.



And as it turns out, Capital the Crimelord actually has connections to two of Long Island's most prominent artists, Biz Markie and R.A. the Rugged Man. In talking about his song, "Stanley Kubrick," off Rawkus' popular Soundbombing 2 compilation, R.A. told Rap Genius, "The real producer of that beat is Capital the Crime Lord, out in Long Island." Indeed, you can hear Cap's name shouted out on the song. R.A. Continued: "[Capital] was a big rapper, one of the better rappers in my neighborhood growing up. A little white, Italian and Puerto Rican kid, he rapped on Biz Markie's album. His name's Capital T. He rapped on I Need a Haircut. He rapped on Diamond Shell's album. He was a really, really good rapper/producer, you know?" Well, if we didn't, we definitely do now. In addition to appearing alongside Biz and Biz's brother from Brentwood, Diamond Shell, on 1991's "Take It From the Top," Capital T raps with both of them on "Bugged Out Day at Powerplay" off Diamond Shell's 1991 album, The Grand Imperial Diamond Shell. How's that for some history? Actually, there's even more...

Capital the Crime Lord did more than produce for R.A. the Rugged Man. He also lent vocals to a bonus mix of Rugged Man's 1996 single with Sadat X, "50,000 Heads" and provided scratches on R.A.'s 2001 single, "Don't Wanna Fuck Wit," featuring Havoc. And not only that! Seven years back, while promoting his Legends Never Die album, R.A. did a reddit "Ask Me Anything" session in which one participant asked how he developed his flow or if it came naturally. Rugged Man responded, "nah.. when I was like 12 my boy Capital the Crime Lord was older than older than me and told me yo! you got an ill rhyme but you dont got no flow. And we sat in his basement rocking to beats and he taught me how to flow like a pro and ever since I was obsessed with improving on it." So, Capital T the Crime Lord not only appeared on multiple tracks with Biz Markie and produced one of R.A. the Rugged Man's best known songs — he also helped teach R.A. how to rap!



It's amazing how much history can be connected to one 12" VLS. Maybe that's why it fetches up to $150, but more likely it's just because the raps and beats contained therein are every bit as fiery as the sticker would have you believe. Here's hoping that The Album surfaces sometime soon along with more from Jay "Boogie the Journalist" Hill, Capital T the Crimelord, and S-ON the Terrible.

5/28/20

Ekundayo - The Master Has Returned (From a Long Journey)

Often words fail to do justice. Consider the nomenclature for rap lyricism: bars, lines, rhymes, verses, mics, ciphers, cadence, flow, delivery, spitting, ripping, etc. Does any of that begin to fully convey the magic and beauty of rap music?

If Ekundayo experiences these issues with language, it doesn't show. Indeed, the beauty and magic of his sound lies partly in its strict adherence to form. It is what it is, which is dope.

There is so much to be said for "just rapping," namely that it is never "just" anything. Its masters demonstrate time and again the form's inherent infinite potential. Ekundayo is one such master, and he's back like he never left.

5/21/20

Big Breakfast - Mikey

Big Breakfast's "debut album," Mikey, is also one of his most lo-fi albums to date, as it was recorded in his parents' house in Mastic, at least partially amid the COVID-19 lockdown. On the topic, track one, "Lush," includes these lines: "I used to bring hoes to Commack Motor Inn / And now life is so damn sobering, I'm over it / Postpone the funeral, corona got me more alone than usual / At least every song I wrote was beautiful." Say word. And let's be clear, by "lo-fi," i don't mean minimal; I mean roughly mixed and unmastered. But so it goes. Thankfully, Brekkie did not slack in the least on the beats or the rhymes — quite the opposite. He's rapping like he's trying to squeeze the most fun and life out of every line he writes, and his beats bang like he's trying to turn his drum machine into an orchestra of drum machines. Word is Big Breakfast is moving to Philly, which means the second dopest city in the nation is about to get that much doper.

5/20/20

Lord Brothers - By Every Means Necessary Vol. 1

It'd be futile to try and write about By Every Means Necessary Vol. 1 without also writing about the program for which this music was composed, Who Killed Malcolm X? And it'd be dismissive to merely categorize the latter as a true-crime docu-series without acknowledging the show's subtext. Yes, the documentarian's search for the truth about Malcolm X's murder is the underlying premise, but perhaps an even larger conflict at hand is reconciling a crucial legacy of Black empowerment and message of self-determination with an enduring hyprocrisy of dogmatic totalitarianism and decades of institutionalized scapegoating. More than a plot point, it's a mood, a slow burn that sears far nastier than any simple murder mystery arc.

The series soundtrack, composed by 39-year songwriting partners Prince Paul and Don Newkirk and released on Needle To the Groove records as By Every Means Necessary Volume 1, captures that mood and heightens that tension by elucidating stakes even higher than life and death. Also, like the series, the soundtrack is not prisoner to genre conventions; instead, it showcases the universality of Don and Paul's musical sensiblities as well as the depth of the crates that helped these composers hone their chops. And then there are the lyrics. On "The Hilton," vocal accompanist Saleem says, "The third world war? It's about the revolution of the spirit. Religion is anti-revolutionary. Revolution: what goes around comes around, again and again. If there's one thing I know about revolution, it's inevitable. Televised or not, it's just a matter of time. Are you ready for the inevitable?" It's not the first project Paul and Don have scored together, and it definiteley shouldn't be the last (this is Volume 1 after all!), but it just might be the most important one.

5/16/20

LongIslandRap.Comp v4 Out Now on Bandcamp. Pay What You Can. All Proceeds Support LI Food Shares.

 
LongIslandRap.Comp v4 is the fourth installment in a series of compilations showcasing Long Island hip-hop artists and the second release on Long Island Rap Records (LIRR02). It includes 23 new or unreleased tracks, featuring artists such as SmooVth (Hempstead), Rozewood (Amityville), Theravada (Bellmore, Wantagh), Cryptic One (Westbury), Grandmilly & Shozae (Hempstead, Uniondale), Darc Mind (Elmont, Long Beach), AZOMALI (Freeport), Andy Koufax (Wantagh, Massapequa), Lagato Shine (Roosevelt), WiFiOG (Central Islip) and many others.

With this compilation coming together amid a pandemic and economic collapse, which have diproportionately devastated Long Island's low-income communities, Long Island Rap Records decided it only right to make this project a pay-what-you-can benefit release. All proceeds from LongIslandRap.Comp Volume 4 are being donated to Community Solidarity, a nonprofit organizaiton that holds weekly vegetarian food shares in Hempstead, Huntington, Farmingville, Wyandanch and Bedford-Stuyvesant. If you can afford to support this release, please pay what you can; even $1 allows Community Solidarity to share an additional 32.8 pounds of groceries. Each purchase includes the full digital album along with three bonus cuts.

Last but definitely not least, please join Long Island Rap Records in thanking all of the artists who contributed tracks for this release. If you enjoy a song from a particular artist on here, look them up  and support their art in any way you can, be it by purchasing their albums or simply sharing a track on social media. Links for all of the featured artists can be found on the Bandcamp page below, and if you'd like any additional info, just drop a line in the comments.