Eric B. & Rakim - B-Sides, Rarities & Remixes (Vol. 4)

It's been going on nine years since The Seventh Seal, and it was another 10 between that and The Master, so maybe it's fitting that it took Hip Hop Is Read seven years to compile the fourth installment in their Eric B. & Rakim B-Sides, Rarities & Remixes series. We covered the first three back in 2015, during Long Island Rap's first annual Rakim Week. At that time, it had already been six years since HHIR dropped Volume Three, so I guess I assumed it was over and never checked back. Lo and behold, it appears the very next year they picked up where they left off. Many of these tracks have already been posted here, but now you can get them all in one place. Fingers crossed for Volume Five...


DJ Eclipse & Brian Coleman - "Paid In Full 30th Anniversary InterroMix" - Do The Knowledge Vol. 1

DJ Eclipse was the longtime host of the Halftime Show on WNYU 89.1, a kind of de facto successor to the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show on WKCR 89.9. He was also 1/4 of Non Phixion.

Brian Coleman is the author of Rakim Told Me and Check The Technique Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, a hip-hop historian of the highest order, and a big inspiration of mine.

Here, Eclipse blends the Rakim interview Coleman conducted for his first two books, with the songs and sample sources discussed in that interview to create an innovative mix celebrating the 30th anniversary of Eric B. & Rakim's classic 1987 debut, Paid In Full.


Rakim, R.A. the Rugged Man, and ... Rammstein!?

And now for something completely different ... something ... Ra-diculous if you will. The image you see here is of Rakim speaking with none other than Richard Kruspe, the guitarist of Rammstein.

If you don't know who Rammstein is, they're an industrial metal band from Germany that landed a big hit in the U.S. in 1997 with their song "Du Hast." They're also known for having a wild stage show featuring all manner of dangerous pyrotechnics. So, as you might imagine, the pairing of Kruspe and Rakim is an odd one to say the least. The man who made it happen was Aleks de Carvalho, owner of No Mystery Studios. Presumably sometime around 2011, de Carvalho brought together Rakim, Kruspe, singer Shontelle, and fellow L.I. rapper R.A. the Rugged Man for a track called "The Time Is Now."

In fact, someone apparently had the idea to film the studio sessions and use the footage to put together a trailer for something called "TWO WORLDS," which "seeks to capture the moment when artists from vastly diverse musical genres and, as importantly, contrasting life experiences join together to develop and record an original work that bridges all differences they confront," according to the YouTube description. TWO WORLDS never really materialized, as far as I can tell, but the trailer still lives on YouTube, and it's from there that the screen cap above was taken. To be precise, this the moment when Kraspe tells Rakim, "The interesting part of the song is that it's based on a real story, which is the first cannibalism in Germany ... he was eating the penis of the other guy." Ra-diculolous indeed! The trailer, the music video, and an in-studio conversation between R.A. and Rakim stream below.


TRB2HH Presents: Check out My Melody
A true story about Rakim

It's Sunday, January 28, 2018, which means today is the 50th birthday of the God, the Greatest Of All Time, Rakim. It also means that this is the start of Long Island Rap Blog's third annual Rakim Week. For the uninitiated, each year, the site dedicates one week in January to the music and living legacy of William Michael Griffin, Jr., better known as Rakim. We've dug through obscure Facebook and Blogspot posts to rediscover lost curios from the God's career ... but all that is light-work compared with what the folks at TRB2HH have accomplished with Check Out My Melody, a two-part documentary chronicling Rakim's early years coming up in Wyandanch, NY.

Produced, narrated, and edited by James "Kraze" Billings, the documentary features such familiar faces as DJ Maniack, EPMD, DJ Belal, Nate Tinsley, Eric B., DJ Stitches, Freddie Foxx, Grand Daddy I.U. and a host of others who provide insightful first- and second-hand accounts of Griffin's evolution from Kid Wizard to God MC.

The doc fills in more than few a holes from the "Oral History" post that ran on this site a few years back. Most impressive of all, however, is the original "Check Out My Melody" 1984 'jazz' version, produced by DJ Maniack, Stevie "Blast" Griffin, and Rakim, which plays at the beginning of part two and appears to have been provided directly to the filmmaker by Maniack. Elsewhere in the film, Eric B. claims to have a cassette copy of the 90-minute (!!!) demo Rakim recorded years before dropping his first single. That Holy Grail of Long Island Hip-Hop remains tucked away for now, but here we have a treasure trove of anecdotes, music, pictures and archived footage that together represent the most complete retrospective of Rakim's early years ever compiled. What Grammys? Watch this instead.


Grand Analog - "Mutations" ft. Posdnuos

For a rapper who's been at it 30 years, De La Soul's Posdnuos has done shockingly few solo features. Here he teams with Canadian hip-hoppers Grand Analog for a spot on their new Survival EP. I've been meaning to put together a follow-up to The Lost Tapes' Plug Wonders compilation, called De La De La Soul - (Un)Plug 1, so you can bet if that ever gets done, this'll be on there.


J. Ruff (J. Wellz & Ruff) - "Put Ya Hands Where My Eyes Can See"

Been on a huge Busta kick lately, which I don't see ending anytime soon, so this collab from Amityville's Ruff and Copiague's J. Wellz really gets me right now; a worthy homage, which speaks volumes in and of itself.

Gramatik - "Anima Mundi 2017 Version" Ft. AllOne (BmO Remix)

Hauppauge-based MC AllOne sent this track over with the following description: "The song is a winding straight verse of pure writing for humans, writing for writers. Dense with wordplay, imagery, confession, abstract ideas and philosophy over a compelling remix of a Gramatik song." That's good enough for my time, but if you're looking for some more words on it, here's another blog post with all the lyrics and some background info. AllOne also has a new EP, which dropped literally minutes ago and is apparently fully produced by Savannah, Georgia rap legend Dope KNife, so be sure to check out that Dusty Dossiers EP as well if you're digging this.


Ekundayo & Spittzwell - "Life or Death"

Ekundayo lives hundreds of miles from here, but like the man says, "I'm like black genes, you cannot stop the features." This one's off his latest album, the aptly titled Magnificent Brilliance, which dropped last August and is produced entirely by Spittzwell.


Busta Rhymes, Notorious B.I.G., Roc Marciano, J. Dilla - "Modern Day Gangstas"

Busta Rhymes, Roc Marciano, Knowledge the Pirate, and Rockwilder
(presumably backstage at Highline Ballroom),
December 26, 2017, via KP's Insta.
Strap in because there's some history behind this one ... or just scroll down to the track. Story goes that the original version of Busta Rhymes and Notorious B.I.G.'s "Modern Day Gangstas" aka "Dangerous MC's" aka "The Ugliest" was recorded over a J. Dilla beat in 1996 for Busta's debut, The Coming, but was shelved because Biggie went hard at Pac in his verse (like borderline self-incriminatory hard), and Bus didn't want to get mixed up in the beef.

Puffy retained the masters, because he's Puffy I guess, and then released a remix of the song over a Nottz beat on Notorious B.I.G.'s posthumous 1999 album, Born Again. This version featured Snoop Dogg and Mark Curry, whereas the original Dilla version features Busta Rhymes affiliate Labba. (Peace to The Lost Tapes for shedding light on the above back in 2014.) There's also a 12" promo release of "Dangerous MC's" on Bad Boy, featuring Mark Curry, Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes, with "Who Shot Ya" on the b-side. Discogs doesn't give a date for this release, it's not up on YouTube, and I'm not cracking the seal on my copy, so who knows when that came out or what it sounds like. Alas, none of these versions, as far as anyone knows, featured Roc Marciano.

Fast-forward to late 2017. Roc Marciano Tweets this:

Shortly thereafter, DJ, producer and friend of the late J. Dilla, House Shoes implies that he has the unreleased song in question:

Sure enough, five days later, Shoes kicks off the December 13, 2017 edition of his dublab program, Magic, with a track he lists as "Biggie Dilla Busta Rhymes ft. Flipmode – Modern Day Gangsters / Dangerous M.C.’s." The full program is available to download. All I did was cut out the first song, using Audacity. Stream/download Busta Rhymes and J. Dilla's "Modern Day Gangstas" ft. Notorious B.I.G., Labba and Roc Marciano below.

(P.S. It has been suggested, due to some differences in volume between the Roc verse and the rest of the vocals, that this track was Frankensteined using several different versions of the song. Note the DJ Kay Slay drops over Roc's verse and DJ Whoo Kid drops over Big's, which support that theory, as the Dilla version without Roc appeared on Busta Rhymes and DJ Whoo Kid's Surrender mixtape. But do you really care?)

***Update 2/13/20***
Roc Marciano's manager, Jazz, confirms on Twitter that the Roc Marciano verse comes from a DJ Kay Slay radio broadcast, hence the drops. He adds that it was played only on the radio and did not appear on any Kay Slay mixtapes.

***Update 4/14/21***
Props to Civilian3030 for pointing out that because The Coming was recorded before "Hit 'Em Up," it's highly unlikely, if not impossible, that "The Ugliest" was recorded for those sessions. Alternately it could have been intended for When Disaster Strikes or perhaps another project altogether.