God Genes: Tahmell - The After Effect / Fam First Unisgned Hype

So Tahmell is basically Jesus Christ ... kidding, but you know what I mean. Born in Central Islip, raised in Stamford, Connecticut, but rooted in Wyandanch, he released several mixtapes around the beginning of the decade but has been mostly quiet over the past few years, just popping up on a track here and there. Read his one sheet via issuu and stream his last tapes below.


Rakim - "I Ain't No Joke" Unknown Radio Promo

This is what #RakimWeek is all about, my friends. Today, William Michael Griffin, Jr., the God MC, Rakim celebrates his 48th birthday.

To mark the occasion, here is an ultra-rare radio promo version of "I Ain't No Joke," so rare in fact, we don't even know which radio show or station aired it, or when it aired for that matter. What we do know is that it had to make quite the journey to get to your ears tonight. We cut it from Edan's Radio Show (No. 4) mix; Edan ripped it from a cassette that he got from his man Pacey (sp?) who got it from DJ Magnus Johnstone, who was one of the first guys to play hip-hop on Boston radio, but as far as we know, this promo wasn't done for his show. Regardless of where it came from, or how it got here, it's now yours. Enjoy ... and "bless the mic for the Gods."

If you have any additional info about this track's origins, please drop a line in the comments. Props to Dan Lish for the incredible illustration used above.


God Genes: Aunt Ruth

It's often been written and said that music "runs in the blood" of Rakim's family. Critics and journalists cite Rakim's mother; who sang opera and jazz; his brother Ron, who was a band teacher at Wyandanch High School; his brother Steve, who played keys on Paid In Full and engineered numerous other recordings; and the most famous musically gifted relative of them all, Ruth Brown, a Grammy and Tony Award winning singer who's been called the "Queen of R&B," who's credited with bridging the gap between that genre and pop music, and who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

What few realize is that Ruth Brown is not actually a blood relative of William Griffin, Jr. To be fair, I didn't realize either. In preparation for today's post, while trying to find out whether she was related on Rakim's mother's or father's side, I instead found a New York Times article in which Ruth refers to "Cynthia and Willie Griffin of Wyandanch" (Rakim's mom and dad) as "my good friends." So that cleared that up.

Of course, you don't have to be blood to be family, and that much is clear from the touching tribute Rakim wrote about Aunt Ruth for Entertainment Weekly following her death in November 2006. Below you can read that article, penned with the same natural flow of imagery Rakim is known for bringing to the world of hip-hop; then listen to Ra reminiscing about Ruth while on stage at B.B. King Blues Club in NYC on November 25, 2006, just eight days after her passing; and watch several classic performances by "Miss Rhythm" herself.


Rakim: The Early Years (As Told By Those Present)

The following "oral history" is actually a compilation of statements made by DJ Belal (of Groove B Chill), Freddie "DJ Kaos" Cox (of Too Poetic), Sid "S.I.D." Reynolds (of Sid & B-Tonn and Crimedanch Cartel) and John "Oxygen" Everette. The majority of these were taken from interviews conducted by Jesse Serwer and posted to his blog, which though now defunct is preserved in the Internet Archive. The three pieces not taken from Serwer's site come from other blogs and a DJ Belal Facebook post. The exact URLs referenced here are listed below. None of the original words have been altered by Long Island Rap Blog in any way, with the exception of some minor deletions and grammar/spelling corrections.

The Kid Wizard

DJ Belal: I met a 12-year-old kid called William Pop Griffin, yes the Kid Splash, the Kid Wizard Rakim, the God Rakim. This dude sounded so good at 12 rapping most MCs could not even come close NOWHERE. So I stopped rhyming…

DJ Kaos: Wyandanch used to be one big…everyone was interchanging, this one’s down with this one, that one’s down with that one. At one point we had a group where Rakim was in it … with him and these guys G-Stro, Grandmaster Chas, Teddy Ted. I think it was the Almighty Force?

DJ Belal: Before I started deejaying, back in ‘83, I used to be an MC in a crew called the Almighty 5 MCs. That was my first crew. But I couldn’t MC, really. I tried doing my little rhyming thing but they were so good. Rakim was in there.

DJ Kaos: We had slight beef back in the day over a name. ‘Cause I was Wiz MC and Rakim used to be the Kid Wizard.

DJ Belal: When I say he was a child prodigy, he was a child prodigy. He didn’t act his age. We called him “Pop” because he always acted older.

The Love Brothers

DJ Belal: Ra was in another group called the Love Brothers that was a carbon copy of the Cold Crush Brothers. They’d do their routines at my man Snake’s house. We was all bouncing from house to house, where our parents would let us rock at.

DJ Kaos: He wasn’t a biter but when he was with Love Brothers, he used to say, “The L baby the L,” and I’d say, “You got that from DLB in the Fearless Four.” I was always that one criticizing. If you did it wrong, I’m gonna tell you.

S.I.D.: Rakim was a part of the Love Brothers with these guys Rashan, Snake and Cool Breeze and G-Stro.

DJ Belal: …Love brother #1 Snake L, Love Brother # 2 Ron Drew, Love Brother #3 The Kid Wizard Rakim, Love Brother #4 MC Blade, and Canard Brown at the rope as security ready to punch somebody in the face if they passed that rope.

With the Wyandanch High School Band


Wyandanch High School Band

DJ Belal: Ra used to play baritone sax in the Wyandanch High School Band. I played the bass drum. The producer Nate Tinsley, too, we all was in that band together. Our band director was from Southern University so he taught us their stuff that was unprecedented for Long Island. Ra’s brother used to be one of the band teachers. We just called him Mr. Griffin, I think his name was Ronnie? Ra’s other brother, Stevie Blast, played the keyboards on most of Paid in Full.

The Talent Show Tape 

Oxygen: The Wyandanch High joint. Belal brought Biz to my house one night, and all Biz wanted to see was my tapes. He took this one box, dumped the tapes out on the bed, sat on the floor and he was like, “I got this, I got this,” and then he saw the Wyandanch one. He has the master copy. My copy’s pretty clean but he’s got the one that I want. I just want a copy, Biz. That’s one of the historic area documents.

DJ Belal: The classes of 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983 my class, 1984, 1985, 1986 the party crew that set us off, 1987, 1988. These classes remember what hip hop was foreal and gave us the fuel to keep going. A special shout out To Wyandanch High School for letting us rock at the parties and the talent shows there where this tape was made.

Oxygen: It was at that show [Biz] introduced a live version of [“Make the Music with Your Mouth Biz”] before the single even dropped. Instead of TJ Swan on the chorus and the beat that made it to the final version, this performance featured a much more raw beat that sounded to me like Synsonic drums. The chorus was actually this vocoder voice finessed similar to the way the Fearless Four used it on “F-4000.″ Classic! It’s hard to believe that was over twenty-five years ago now that I reflect back on it.

DJ Belal: Biz use to do the beatbox in front of  Wyandanch High School and Chill & Rakim be rapping in the front. We made the high school a house party and they didn't even know it.

The 7 MCs

DJ Belal: He was saying, “I take 7 MC’s put ‘em all in a line” when he was 13...

I remember being in Brentwood at a little house party [years later] and Smitty’s group, the Rock Squad came down. From Wyandanch, it was just me and Ra and some people who weren’t MCs. And Ra tore them up by himself. He did the whole “Seven MCs in a line” routine then. The look on they face was priceless because it was 7 of them.

Wyandanch Day

DJ Belal: On Wyandanch Day, we had different crews, one and three or four DJs all rocking at the same time, all night on the basketball court, the tennis courts. It’s nowhere near what it used to be. If you were able to get out there in the park and show your skills, you was the man. LL used to be behind the rope trying to get on. He never touched that microphone. You had to be elite to get on. You couldn’t just come out of the blue.

S.I.D.: I used to set up my equipment in the park when I was 10 or 11. I was known as the littlest DJ around the hood.

DJ Belal: I was right there playing on the basketball court when it happened. I remember [Kid 'N Play] coming out, and it only took one bottle to fly. If you wasn’t nice, and came with that corniness, you would get stoned. And that’s what happened. How you got good back then was playing in hostile environments. As a DJ, I had to be better than Cool Breeze or anybody else out here. I just happened to get lucky and was rocking with the best dudes out of Wyandanch, and that made me look even better. That's why the parties popped off. People knew Ra and Chill would be there.

With S.I.D.

S.I.D.: We had Rakim kicking that futuristic shit that the world went crazy over back then. The God was just so lyrically in tune with the mind. Kid ‘N Play was rapping happy and dancing, kind of where we at now, but Rakim was like, “We gotta go a little deeper than this. We got Gods and Earths out here in Wyandanch, we got knowledge, righteousness, serious shit.” The mentality we had was you can’t come out here with no bullshit. I think with Kid ‘N Play, they were supposed to represent Queens but it was like, “Nah, we on this shit out here.” I think they got a reality check. Rakim changed the whole scene. You had to be spitting something deep. Like how we be pissed off right now with the lyrical content today? It was the same then. Rakim made every rapper step up.

Oxygen: [Wyandanch] didn’t like [North Babylon]. I guess because we went to school with white people they felt we thought we were better, and there’d be a lot of beef. A lot of them coming to our area and starting fights and leaving. But when it came to hip-hop, those barriers were broken. Wyandanch Day was always a beautiful thing. We were allowed to go in Wyandanch. When it came to hip-hop, there was no neighborhood beef but when it came to neighborhood parties, it was always a problem.

Wyandanch House Parties

DJ Belal: Wyandanch back then was like a baby Harlem in a sense because we was giving the livest parties. We grew up hearing these old school DJs like Pleasure and Maniack. When they started dying down, we took over. Now from 1984-1987, that was the time when we all had some of the best times in our HOUSE PARTY ASS LIVES. Let me set the scene for you. Me, Chill E Dawg, Groovy Groove, Rakim, Biz, Nate and Speedy Speed at every house party, backyard party, high school party, High School Talent show in the Wyandanch High School lunchroom, every Wyandanch Day AND MY BASEMENT.

I asked my mother if I could do a party in the basement for some new equipment and she said OK. You would pay a dollar, and it would be like no lie everybody in the basement jamming, no drinking mostly, and no weed smoking at all. Mom wasn't having that either. The walls was sweating AND YOU COULD HEAR A PIN DROP WHEN RAKIM OPENED HIS MOUTH AND EVERYBODY INCLUDING ERIC B IN THE CORNER LISTENING SAID, “WHAT THE HELL HE SAY?”

With Daryl Mitchell (seated) and DJ Belal (last on right)


Rakim - Holy Are You

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2nd annual #RakimWeek. Today, we're going to cover one of the God's latest works; in fact, one his last two singles to get a physical release (the other, Walk These Streets, isn't even listed on Discogs, though it is for sale on eBay). Apparently pressed only on CD-R, this promo single contains both the album version and instrumental version of "Holy Are You," which was produced by longtime Rakim collaborator Nick Wiz.

Nick Wiz previously produced "Show Me Love" off The 18th Letter and "We'll Never Stop" off The Master, as well as all three tracks on The Cellar EP (a compilation of previously unreleased recordings from 1995, 1996 and 2002). In addition to "Holy Are You," Wiz produced three other songs on The Seventh Seal: "Psychic Love," "Dedicated" and "Still In Love," which you can watch him mixing here. But it's "Holy Are You" that hit first and continues to hold up the strongest, anchored by a solid sample of a David Axelrod composition for The Electric Prunes called what else but "Holy Are You."

In the press release that accompanied the July 18, 2009 premiere of "Holy Are You," Rakim was quoted as saying, "Holy Are You is for those core brothers and sisters . . . the first building block – the lyrical and spiritual piece – of an album that’s my monument to Hip-Hop past, present and future. You’ll see us keep building as we break through each Seal . . . showing the best of what I can do in many forms, bringing the energy and having fun, but first I’m laying that foundation and give my longtime fans the conscious fire they expect." This is definitely that.

Read the complete press release for "Holy Are You" here (courtesy of the now-defunct hiphopgalaxy.com), download a digital version of the Holy Are You CD-R promo single here (courtesy of 1994hiphop.com), purchase the single for $.99 on iTunes (vocal track only) and stream the vocal and instrumental tracks below (instro is 2nd down), along with a live performance of the song at Knitting Factory in NYC and several different versions of the original sample material.


God Genes: JReadi - The Welcome Mat / The Pretape

Welcome to the 2nd annual #RakimWeek, a week-long celebration of the music of God MC Rakim. This year, we're starting the week off a little bit differently, by tuning our ears not to Ra but to his literal next generation, beginning with nephew JReadi.

Pictured here with uncle Rakim, JReadi attended North Hills High School in Dix Hills, just north of Wyandanch. According to his ReverbNation page, he started getting busy in 2004, was mentored by Spiv Dolla, and made early appearances on the 2008 Fly Guy Family mixtape, Rise of the Empire.

Since then, he's released two mixtapes, 2010's The Welcome Mat (which featured Rakim on its last track, "Talking to God") and 2015's The Pretape (a precursor to the upcoming album, Radio Readi, which has been in the works for a while). Stream both tapes below, along with videos for "Don't Sweat the Technique" and "Insufficient Funds," and visit his PR site for more.

#RakimWeek continues until Saturday, with more Ra-related info, music, etc. each day of the week.


John Jigg$ & BP - "L.I. Bullshit" / "Give It to 'Em"

Always nice to see when two artists covered separately here team up to create something great. Case in point: CI's John Jigg$ and AV's BP combining forces for "L.I.B.S." and "Give It to 'Em," the latter of which also features QB legends Tragedy Khadafi and Nature (and is in fact the debut single off Nature's upcoming album). Suffolk County in the building.


Too Poetic - Droppin' Signal EP

Talk about a long time coming -- the six songs on this EP, finally issued on vinyl in December 2015 by Chopped Herring Records, were originally part of an album that was submitted to Tommy Boy Records in 1989 but subsequently shelved and lost until Too Poetic DJ Freddie "Kaos" Cox aka Capital K shared it online in an interview with Jesse Serwer in 2010 (highly recommended reading material). Sometime after that, the album was removed from Jesse's site at the request of the estate of Anthony "Poetic" Berkeley. This brings us to another point about which there is some degree of confusion; though Berkeley (later known as Grym Reaper, co-founder of the Gravediggaz) is sometimes referred to as Too Poetic, this is actually incorrect. His name was Poetic, and his group, Too Poetic, consisted of himself and two DJs: Capital K and Woody Wood. Anyway, do yourself a favor and read the interview  above, then preview the songs below and purchase this EP edition of 350 before I snatch up the last copy. 


LongIslandRap.Comp V1 (Mix Version)

In case you missed it the first time around, LongIslandRap.Comp Volume 1, our first annual compilation of Long Island hip-hop standards (and not-so-standards) of yesterday and today, is now available in a two-sided continuous mix format, with Side A containing the compilation's first nine tracks and Side B containing the back nine. Mixing chores were handled by yours truly, both sides are streaming/downloadable below, and the original split-track compilation is still available.


Sky Walker - "武士歌手 Samurai Singers"

The Force Awakes underwhelms, but Sky Walker doesn't. With just one verse over a jazzy loop, the Freeport MC manages to carve out so many consecutive quotables it sounds like his style actually does come from a galaxy far, far away. After streaming "武士歌手 Samurai Singers," download the Soul or System EP from which it's taken.