Disco Vietnam - House Rabbi Vol. 5

Tonight (technically last night, December 29, 2019) was the last night of Hanukkah, tomorrow (technically today, December 30, 2019) is the last day, and I can think of no better way to celebrate than with House Rabbi Vol. 5 from Barry "Disco Vietnam" Schwartz (excecpt maybe if there were 8 volumes of this series, not 5 — then that would be a decidely more apporopriate way to celebrate). Shalom!

UptownBODEGA - Hennesis

And the award for Long Island rap's best album cover of 2019 goes to Central Islip's UptownBODEGA for Hennesis.

Blaq Kush - Lost Files from 2013-2017

One of the most readily recognizable voices in Long Island rap brings 10 tracks from 2013-2017 out of hiding.

Rome Streetz & SmooVth w/ DJ Eclipse

Came here to post a video of Rome Streetz on Live from Headqcourterz Radio with DJ Premier on the tables (August 6, 2019), but found this 10-minute video of Rome, SmooVth and Rasheed Chappell on Rap is Outta Control (September 30, 2018) instead.


Fuck a List 2019

Roc Marciano - Marcielago

Theravada - Xennis Rodman

Lisaan'dro - M.A.D.E. (My Allies Died Early)

Elucid - Every Egg I Cracked Today Was Double Yolked

Josh Alias - Growing Pains

Azomali - Guayaba

WiFiOG - Disrupt

Darc Mind - What Happened to the Art?

Christ Kenneth - The Abomination of Desolation

AM - self.


Long Island Rap Blog Is Now Long Island Rap Records

I started Long Island Rap Blog in 2014 to document and promote the rap music and hip-hop culture of Long Island, NY, the place where I was born, raised and have lived for most of my life. Which is really just a fancy way of saying I started the site because I wanted it to exist and it didn’t. I wanted there to be a single platform where listeners could enjoy the sounds — and learn about the architects — of Long Island hip-hop's past, present and future. I like to think I have succeeded in that regard.

I now plan to redouble my efforts on LongIslandRap.com, to do more than just post text, audio and video. I still want to bring attention to Long Island rap, but I also want to help bring the music into physical existence, to put it in a form where it can be held, opened, and felt by listeners such as myself. Therefore, I am turning Long Island Rap Blog into Long Island Rap Records.

Moving forward, LongIslandRap.com will continue to function exactly as it has in the past. However, it will also provide a platform to sell physical copies of new and previously unreleased recordings from Long Island artists, namely cassette tapes. This format will enable Long Island Rap Records to materialize quickly and inexpensively. Rest assured, the site’s commitment to quality and originality will be not just upheld but intensified when it comes to the label side.

Long Island Rap Records’ first release will be I’m From a Little Place, the debut solo album from Andy Koufax of Massapequa, NY (by way of Wantagh). Andy previously released the Chin Music EP in 2013. Since then he has appeared alongside Armand Hammer (billy woods & Elucid) on “The Thousand Headed Man” off Willie Green’s Doc Savage and alongside Warren Britt on “We Are Not Afraid” off Britt’s With Laurel.

Additional tape releases from other Long Island artists are currently being planned and will be announced in the months ahead.

To everyone who has ever visited LongIslandRap.com, hit play on a song you found here, shared a post, left a comment, or submitted a release for consideration, thank you for helping this site grow into the platform it is today. I am grateful for every second you have spent here. I hope you dig our forthcoming releases as much as I do.

Samuel "$bin♦" Diamond
Founder, Long Island Rap Records


DJ Surrup - Aja (ChopNotSlop Remix)

It's been a minute since we posted something from ZeroKlique's resident remixer DJ Surrup. Thankfully while this site's been quiet, the world's taken notice. In 2019, DJ Surrup surpassed 1 million plays on Audiomack and became an official member of the OG Ron C's Chopstars camp, hence the logo that appears on the covers for all his most recent releases including this one. If you're not familiar, Aja is probably the best known album by '70s jazz-rock outfit Steely Dan. You have most likely seen a dad or uncle grooving to several joints on here, or you are one and that should be you. The album was also a favorite among hip-hop produers of the '80s and '90s, yielding samples for at least one classic Long Island rap record and at least one hit single.

Poepan the Prolifik Penn - The Winds of Change

Decades before re-emerging as the Prolifik Penn, Poepan was a member of the Kemelions, a Native Tongues-type trio from Central Islip that put out an EP on Zoo Street in 1992. In the interim, he released a 2001 single for A Gattaca Project Recordings and was managed by AJ Woodson (aka AJ Rok of the almighty JVC Force). He also linked up with Heavy Hitters Music for "The Earth Revolves" as well as the Heavyhitter himself DJ Enuff for this mixtape, 2015's The Winds of Change. For more info, check the liner notes and tracklist.


Pipomixes - De La Slow / Raw Smooth Sh*t

Picking up where the last post left off, here we have two mixes from Pipomixes, including one that's all slowed versions of De La Soul cuts. The De La Slow title will be familiar to De La Soul fans as De La themselves included a previously unreleased joint by that name on their Impossible Mission album and also used the phrase on the "WRMS: Cats in Control" interlude off De La Soul Is Dead. Pipomixes smartly started off the mix with that cut as a matter of fact.

As for Raw Smooth Sh*t, this mix harks back to another one featured in the early days of this website, that is, Sounds Like Porridge, which was featured here in January 2015. The difference this time around is that instead of blending Roc Marciano tracks with their sample sources, Pipomixes is blending in cuts from inimitable sonsgstress Sade. This mix also helps satisfy a longing for effectively slowed Roc Marciano songs that has been festering in me since I recorded a DJ doing this to "Deeper" at one of the early Casette Store Days. Stream both mixes below.


DJ Screw - 6:31 'n the Mornin'

Influence is a nothing word, like interest. Obviously, DJ Screw influenced a whole generation of musicians including Long Island's. But what of his influences? Time's fluidity is easier to catch when considering art that treats it as such. This compilation was sequenced over the course of a few late-night sessions, mostly during the week of August 25 in a condo near Savannah, Georgia. The tracks were pulled from various chapters of DJ Screw's Diary of the Originator series and blended using Audacity. The full track list with buy-links for the source materials appears below, but first a few observations on Screw's Long Island rap selections...

Among all Long Island hip-hop artists, Public Enemy and LL Cool J appear most frequently in DJ Screw's public discography. There are a few more PE tracks in total, but LL appeared on some of the most seminal Screwtapes, including Chapter 1: Don Deal and Chapter 108: 3 'n the Mornin'. It's worth considering that both artists could have been in Houston at some point around 1987 as part of the Def Jam tour, along with Eric B. & Rakim who also appear three times on this mix. Additionally, a DJ Screw edit of Public Enemy's "Gotta Do What I Gotta Do" was used in ESG's "Swangin' and Bangin'," and it's not hard to hear echoes of the Bomb Squad's discordant production style in DJ Screw's sometimes chaotic but always funky blends.

Popular Long Island rappers curiously absent from the Diary of the Originator series include Biz Markie and Mobb Deep's Prodigy. Keith Murray did appear on Chapter 60, but only with his feature from R. Kelly's "Home Alone."

Lastly, as many know, Screwed Up Records & Tapes has continued to release DJ Screw CDs long after the artist's passing. One of the most recent installments, Chapter 342: Club New Jack 91, features semi-obscure Long Island hip-hop act Resident Alien, the Prince Paul-produced West Indian rap group that released a little known EP on Paul's Def Jam imprint before it shuttered. The C&S version of Resident Alien's "Ooh the Dew Doo Man" is not yet available to hear online but can be purchased along with the rest of the chapters listed below. And as it happens, Chapter 342 also includes Public Enemy's "Shut Em Down."

Enough words. Long Island Rap Blog presents DJ Screw - 6:31 'n the Mornin', featuring:

1. De La Soul - Plug Tunin' (from Chapter 207: Goin All Out '96)
2. EPMD - You're a Customer (from Chapter 84: Straight Puttin It Down)
3. Busta Rhymes - Dangerous (from Chapter 147: N****s & Flys)
4. Public Enemy - Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (from Chapter 301: Smoke One & Smoke Two)
5. Eric B. & Rakim - Eric B. Is President (from Chapter 222: My Block)
6. LL Cool J - Rock the Bells (from Chapter 108: 3-N-Da Morning)
7. A+ - Party Joint (from Chapter 287: Floss Mode)
8. Public Enemy - By the Time I Get to Arizona (from Chapter 245: Waitin on Slant)
9. EPMD - You Got to Chill (from Chapter 114: Bow Down)
10. Eric B. & Rakim - I Ain't No Joke (from Chapter 307: BC & Screw 97)
11. Method Man - I'll Be There for You ft. Mary J. Blige (from Chapter 295: Screw Dub '95)
12. LL Cool J - Who Do U Luv (from Chapter 1: Don Deal)
13. Busta Rhymes - This Is Serious (from Chapter 69: Southside Riders)
14. Public Enemy - M.P.E. (from Chapter 229: Thugs Nite Out)
15. Eric B. & Rakim - As the Rhyme Goes On (from Chapter 40: Yellowstone vs. The Nation)


Theravada Interviewed on The Oldneon Experience

Definitely asked this kid if his parents were buddhists or hippies when he first told me his name. Oops...


Erick Sermon - Vernia

Erick Sermon has a new album out in multiple formats for the collectors among us. There's the digi below, but also a series of limiited edition vinyl in different colorways via Netherlands-based De Rap Winkel Records (splatter edition shown here), as well as limited edition cassettes via self-proclaimed esoteric art merchant Trevor Lang.

The owls are not what they seem...


Urban Sasquatch, Red Carpet Hobo and the Hindsight Genius - Celebrity Internment Camp

"This 52-minute instrumental hip hop concept album blends together a collage of sonic vignettes from a dystopic future where war on American soil forces its celebrities into concentration camps." Celebrity Internment Camp dropped in 2013. Personally, I'll take that dystopic future over the dystopic present. Also, "TRIGGER WARNING - Graphic torture scene at the end [of the video below]." Shout out to East Setauket punk labels and Baldwin pizza parlors.

JustWoz - Lost Files


Kaleber - Rather Be ft. Shea O.D.

Some Caribbean flavor from the Wyandanch MC.

Bolaji - In Demand Demo

Known for releasing a coveted "fast-rap" single on Zakia Records, as well as his work with the High Council collective, Bolaji is an interesting character from Long Island hip-hop history to say the least. He came out on Eric B & Rakim's first label, sounded almost like a cross between Ra and Big Daddy Kane, grew up around Freddie Foxx (who one of his sisters dated for a time) in North Babylon, and was rediscovered after some 20 years thanks in part to Dope Folks Records, which has issued several EPs worth of previously unreleased material from the MC.

At least some of this music, it seems, was originally intended for an album called In Demand. In a 2010 interview, Bolaji told Jesse Serwer: "We recorded a whole album with 12 songs at Chung King Studios, which was going to be called In Demand. [Zakia] spent some money. I can’t say we were totally jerked because if we told [Zakia owner] Robert Hill, 'We need some bread, when are we going to start seeing some money?' he would just dig in his pocket and break us off. I can’t say that I didn’t get nothing. Over the two years we was running with him, he was giving us money. I’m sure we were entitled to more. I should have appointed somebody that knew better. I took the contract to a lawyer that wasn’t an entertainment lawyer. I didn’t know the difference between entertainment lawyers versus criminal lawyers versus paralegals. I was so excited to be getting to where I was going as a rapper that I let the important things get by. But that forced me to to learn how this business really works. So, we didn’t release anything else off that album because while we were waiting, he closed up shop."

In addition to being able to hear a number of these tracks on the Dope Folks records, you can now stream or download what appears to be the original In Demand demo, a six-track tape clocking in at nearly 30 minutes, which was posted to Soundcloud by user Hidingplaceplce. Speaking of Soundcloud, you can also find some newer music from Bolaji here.


Uncle John - Cold Fish

A cross-island collaboartion to write home about, Cold Fish teams Freeport's Uncle John with Holbrook's Fony Wallace aka Fony47.

The last/first we heard from Fony was on Christ Kenneth's The Abomination of Desolation. Cold Fish presents a similiar afterhours-type atmosphere, but seen through an entirely different lens.

Uncle John has been flooding the net since the early days of this site, but this is definitely a new look for the MC, especially when you compare it with his Lyrical Assassin series, the latest installment of which was produced by FarmaBeats.

Pure, uncut scaly, fresh out the icebox; hopefully, Cold Fish is the first of many collaborations from these two artists.


The Def Squad Freestyles Vol. 1

Erick Sermon
Parish Smith
Keith Murray
Tommy Gunn (RIP)


Radio DJs: Lady B, Sway & King Tech, Funkmaster Flex, Stretch & Bobbito...

WiFi OG - Serato Sample Mix 4-19-19

WiFi OG aka DJ Prince, of Mobile Kitchen,

selector for Yahdcast, Ode to Vinyl, et al.

Live Serato mix,

17+ minutes upped April 19.

Mind the Disrupt,

his latest LP, up April 22.


AWOL Da Mindwriter - "Return of the Death Egg"

AWOL Da Mindwriter, of Great Neck, calls himself "a hardcore hip-hop/nerd-core artist, songrwiter." That explains the Sega shirt and references to obscure Dreamcast games you might hear in some of his songs. The latest, however, "Return of the Death Egg" is more about murder. It's the first single off Insert Coin: The Sampler, which is produced entirely by The Dopplegangaz and scheduled for release April 20.


Nox - "Minimal Friends" ft. AllOne

What's better than having no friends? Arguably, having mad friends. But what's better than having no friends or mad friends? Definitely, having a select few really good friends.

Here, Farmingdale (by way of Blue Point) rapper Nox calls on his friend AllOne to wax poetic about and around the topic.

"How many of us have them?"

Blaq Kush - Kushan Sundaze Vols. 10-1

Regular visitors should remember Blaq Kush from his work as 1/3 of Ubvn Architects NYC, and that clique is steadily killing everything and everybody, but the die-hards know Kush's solo work goes back even further. In fact, roughly around the same time the crew starting getting attention here, Blaq Kush also put out a series of bugged out music videos called Kushen Sundaze. Another collaborative effort — this one with Kush's Outer Galactic Marauder Faction — the series has a completely different aesthetic than what you might be used to from Urbvn, but is dope in its own right, so enjoy.


Christ Kenneth - The Abomination of Desolation

For Christ Kenneth, a home-studio in Holbrook is the (un)holy cave of Nazareth. There the artist loops funeral dirges for beats over which he pens dark missives, like "The light was so bright in your eyes, the moon was full / You were looking beautiful, now I'm alone and my room is full / Of smoke but I'm bleeding from my cuticles, losing hope." That's from "No Sheep 2 Count," which opens Kenneth's The Abomination of Desolation. As those lines and that title indicate, darkness and isolation are common themes throughout the project. About half the production was handled by Fony47 (who also guests on the final track), yet the relase feels like a one-man black metal album as much as a rap mixtape. Not a bad thing.


Public Enemy - "Terrorwrist" (Threepeeoh Alternate Remix)

Back in 2017, we had the privilege to share with you Atlanta producer Threepeeoh's unreleased original version of the Public Enemy song, "Toxic." As we mentioned, the remix of that song (also by Threepeeoh) ended up on PE's Nothing Is Quick in the Desert album. Today, we are proud to premiere another unreleased Threepeeoh remix for another song off that album, the incendiary "Terrorwrist."

The story behind it goes like this: the current DJ for Public Enemy and Prophets of Rage, DJ Lord, recently released a project with Kool Keith and Chuck D called Afterburn, and one of the cuts on here is a Threepeeoh remix to "Terrorwrist." However, it wasn't the only remix Threepeeoh did for that song. "Being the weirdo that I am, I made like five," the producer tells us. (To be fair, if I had the chance to do a remix for Chuck D, I would probably show him five versions also.) As it turns out, Chuck ended up passing on Threepeoh's favorite, so he passed it on to yours truly. Check it out below, and if you're digging what you hear, support the artists by copping Afterburn on CD or digital.

whodat - VVVVVVVVVVVV / Alice x Love

Here we have two beat tapes from a producer by way of Lindenhurst.

He described the first, VVVVVVVVVVVV, as, "3 minutes of sanity that quickly devolves into some hard, avant garde shit."

The second, Alice x Love, picks up where that one left off.

You can lease some of these and others here.

Daymian - Senior Year

 Narcotized emo-rap in the vein of Lil Peep but from the Farmingville/Holstville area.


Vik Shade - Crooklyn Freestyle

Vik Shade goes in over the classic Crooklyn Dogers track produced by Q-Tip.

Mitch Green - Help Me Help You

It's been too long since our last Lost Island Records post, but then I guess the mistake befits the moniker. Speaking of, today's featured artist from that collective shares a name with one of professional boxing's all-time characters, Mitch Green. However, this Green has a story all his own, one "on contemporary feelings and modern trial and error," told from the critical perspective of "a young black man from Long Island." If that sounds overly broad, let Mitch's music fill in the gaps. He's asked nicely, Help Me Help You.


Nomad Carlos - "Post Up"

For anyone who missed Nomad Carlos's 2018 project, aptly titled The Nomad Carlos Project, "Post Up" provides notice you might need to go back and hear exactly what you missed. For this new single (not on the 2018 project), the Nomadic one teams with Toronto-based production duo The Quarter Inch Kings. Menace ensues.

"Crime pays on fine days ... knuckle game gave you migraines and blind rage snatching supply chains in nine ways." Bars abound.


Back to 85: Wyandanch High School Jam

With the Wyandanch High School football squad
(from Rakim's Instagram page).
This post takes the site full circle in a sense. As some readers might remember, the famous live recording of Kid Wizard Rakim, Biz Markie, Grandmaster BMC (aka DJ Belal) and MC Chilly Dawg at Wyandanch High School was featured in one of our earliest posts (the fourth to be exact). Today, we have a much, much longer recording from that day.

The jam kicks off with DJ Fantasy and a rotating cast of MCs. It's tough to make out all the names, but one I did recognize called by the DJ (whether an audience member or someone who steps up to the mic) was Teddy Ted, who may have been a former rhyme partner of Ra's from his day's in the Almighty 5 Mcs. At any rate, most of these rappers from the beginning of the jam sound cut from the old Busy Bee body-rock cloth of the early '80s. However, at around the 32:40 mark Biz Markie takes the mic (yes, there is about 30 minutes of Biz before the "main event").

With the Milton L. Olive Middle School basketball team
(same source as above).
Biz's opening routine is so raunchy for the time it's shocking to think it was actually performed at a high school without the whole show being shut down. (Then again, remember Belal saying they basically turned the high school into a house party, so this fits that narrative perfectly.) The Diabolical one follows this up with a long beat-boxing set, and MC Chilly Dawg joins in around 49 minutes in. Now keep in mind, all of this comes before the cypher featuring Kid Wizard Rakim. He comes in around 55:30 on this recording. There's also some more beatboxing by Biz and an early performance of "Make the Music With Your Mouth Biz," both of which come after the Rakim cypher, so you're getting a bunch of additional gems in this longer recording.

Below, I've included two streams: one from YouTube, one from Mixcloud. The latter sounds much louder, but those of us in the U.S. can't rewind it due to licensing issues, so take your pick.

This concludes Long Island Rap Blog's 5th Annual Rakim Week. I hope you've enjoyed the sights and sounds. Thanks again to all of the creators, as well as the original listeners who had the good sense to record what they were hearing for posterity. 

EDIT: The previous YouTube recording has been taken down. Another version has been uploaded by Tape Deck Wreck, but it doesn't look like the time stamps above match up with it.

Rakim & Toure Talk Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, Marley Marl


Rakim Honored at 50th Annual Wyandanch Day

Stevie Blass in the cut?
Last year, Rakim was honored at the 50th Annual Wyandanch Family Day. In recognition of his contributions to hip-hop and the community, Rakim received a Legacy Award and had his name placed on the town's "Wyandanch Welcomes You" sign. Also present at the event were Eric B., Alvin Toney (the producer/manager who introduced Eric B. to Rakim), Eugene "Groovy Groove" Allen, Darryl "Chill" Mitchell and many others. In addition to the award ceremony and other regular festivities, the day featured performances by Groove B. Chill, Das EFX and Nice & Smooth.

Below you'll find a number of photos from the day (several courtesy of Dre's House TV), some videos posted by DJ Maniack, and finally an interview with Rakim by Brittany Marie.

With Daryl "MC Chilly Dawg" Mitchell

With Alvin Toney
With Eric B


Kool Moe Dee & T La Rock - My Melody Freestyle
(Live @ Latin Quarter)

Backstage at the Def Jam II Tour, 1987
Returning to Sunday's topic of legendary MCs rocking over Rakim beats, and picking up the Awesome Two thread from Monday's post, we arrive next at a live peformance by Kool Moe Dee and his partner in rhyme T La Rock at the world-famous Latin Quarter. This recording, featuring the two MCs trading verses over the "My Melody" instrumental, was played on the Awesome Two show on November 2, 1986, so presumably the performance took place sometime earlier in the year.

Kool Moe Dee graded his fellow hip-hop
artists in the liner notes of 1987's
How Ya Like Me Now. Note the misspelling
of Rakim as Rakhim.
Perhaps what's most notable about this recording is how it connects two rappers — Kool Moe Dee and Rakim — both known for changing the guard in the way they revolutionized rapping. Though closer examination typically reveals that such "revolutions" were really evolutions that happened gradually rather than overnight, Kool Moe Dee's legendary battle against Busy Bee is generally considered a touchstone moment, as is the recording of the Eric B. Is President/My Melody single. No matter how you look at it, most would agree Kool Moe Dee pushed the envelope in terms of lyrics and delivery, and Rakim would push it even further.

And if you really want to get into it, one could make the argument that T La Rock not only served as a sort of evolutionary bridge between the revolutionary rhyme styles of Kool Moe Dee and Rakim, but also pushed the envelope in an entirely different direction that would soon thereafter be picked up by Kool Keith and Ultramagnetic MCs whose experimental raps basically launched an entire subgenre. However, that's a whole different story.

Below, stream Kool Moe Dee and T La Rock performing over "My Melody" at the Latin Quarter, as well as the full Awesome Two broadcast from November 2, 1986, during which this performance aired. And please forgive the feedback that occurs in both recordings, along with the fact that they end abruptly when the tape cuts off; of course, if you have a better recording, I would be more than happy to share!


Early Eric B. & Rakim Interview with Awesome Two (July 27, 1986)

A supposed 7" test pressing of Eric B. Is President / Check Out My Melody
For those who haven't yet heard, today is Rakim's 51st birthday. Each year, Long Island Rap Blog celebrates the occasion with a week's coverage dedicated to the God MC. Picking up from yesterday's topics of early radio appearances and interviews, today's post features what might be Rakim's earliest on-air interview. This occurred July 27, 1986 on the 105.9 WHBI Awesome Two show with hosts Special K and Teddy Tedd. The discussion played out over the "My Melody" instrumental and provided listeners a pretty straightforward introduction to Eric B. and Rakim.

One point that stands out is the repeated reference to an imposter Rakim who might have called in during a prior show or otherwise crossed paths with the Awesome Two. It's unclear exactly whom or what they're talking about, but it could be a call-in that was uploaded to YouTube just last year, in which someone claiming to be Rakim refers to "Eric B. Is President" as "I Came In the Door" and forgets the name of the radio show, both of which call the speaker's true identity into question. The best part, though, is when the fake Rakim is asked who broke "My Melody" in NY, with the DJ of course expecting to hear "Awesome Two" or the the radio station call letters, but instead the reply comes back, "I did," a remark that is referenced toward the tail-end of the actual interview. Stream both appearances below, along with the full July 27, 1986 broadcast, which features a number of classic cuts from the likes of Steady B, T La Rock and others.


DJ Run - My Melody Freestyle

Eric B, Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay and Rakim
Our fifth annual Rakim week begins now. Last summer, Stretch & Bobbito interviewed Rakim for NPR. In reminiscing about the first time they heard the MC, Stretch recalled hearing the "My Melody" instrumental on Mr. Magic's Rap Attack on WBLS 107.5, except it wasn't Rakim rapping over the beat — it was DJ Run of Run-DMC. "He put that beat on and Run just does a destruction," Stretch remembered. Below stream Run's 'destructive' My Melody freestyle (starts at 4:20), as well as Rakim's S&B interview from last year.

Rome Streetz - EastNYRadio Freestyles

Rome Streetz swung through PF Cuttin's EastNYRadio show earlier this month for an interview and a couple freestyle sessions. You can also hear three tracks from Rome's latest project, Noise Kandy 2. which is availalbe on mp3 or limited-edition CD along with the first installment.

The real treat, though, is hearing him get busy over Roc Marciano's "Tek to a Mac" instrumental. Pretty much every bar is quotable.

Stream the whole broadcast below, or jump ahead to the interview, the first freestyle (over a Wu-Tang instro) or the second (over Roc).


Spectrum - NBC / Funky Revolution (Post #500)

Anyone who's done their homework on Public Enemy knows that the group's origins lie with Spectrum, a Long Island DJ crew which later rebranded itself as Spectrum City. The crew originally consisted of brothers Hank and Keith Shocklee, who would go on to found the Bomb Squad, and Richard Griffin, who would become Professor Griff of Public Enemy security/dance troupe the S1Ws. Chuck D (then Chuckie D) linked up with Spectrum around 1979 and helped the crew land a Saturday-night radio show called the Spectrum Mixx Show on WBAU in the early '80s.

Eventually, the group began making music of its own, and in 1984, as Spectrum City, they released the Lies / Check Out the Radio single on the Vanguard label. This 12" vinyl also featured rapper Aaron Allen aka Butch Cassidy, who was like Chuck's hypeman before Flavor Flav. (Although Flav, then known as MC DJ Flavor, was in the picture at that time as well, he wasn't on this single.) You can read about all of this and much more in biographer Russell Myrie's Don't Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin': The Authorized Story of Public Enemy, which I can't possibly recommend highly enough for anyone interested in the history of Long Island hip-hop.

However, what you won't read about in that biography (and will find little information about anywhere else, really) are two acetate recordings Spectrum did before they became Spectrum City: NBC and Funky Revolution. These releases were plated and mastered by the Sunshine Sound label, which did a number of acetates for disco and early rap projects from 1974-1982. Though Myrie's book mentions Spectrum putting out mixtapes around this time, it never mentions any acetate recordings. That being said, Keith Shocklee may have alluded to these when, in a 2017 interview with the Conversations with Bianca website, he said: "Most of the stuff we’d make in my mom’s basement, it’s called an acetate of a song. We had to mic the drummer and a bass player, it was so primitive. We recorded it all on to a 2-track tape, in one take."

NBC and Funky Revolution do fit the bill in terms of fidelity, but there seem to be more than just drums, bass and vocals on the records, as you'll hear. "NBC" features that network's familiar three-tone chimes as a sort of refrain for the group's funky jam session, along with some additional electronic noises that theoretically could just be harnesseed feedback or another kind of recording trick, if not a synth or other instrument. Regardless, one might say the free-form electro sounds foreshadow the dissonance that would be the Bomb Squad's calling card in later years. And though there are very few vocals on "NBC," Chuck D's distinct voice is immediately recognizable in the intro. The same goes for "Funky Revolution," on which Chuck kicks things off at the :25 mark, with "Check it out, you ready to funk, Butch?" to which Cassidy responds, "Hey, you know that, homeboy." From there, someone intones, "How about The Wizard?" to which Chuck adds "K-Jee 2-3," spelling out Keith Shocklee's old DJ handle, The Wizard K-Jee. After this, Chuck and Butch sing along with the record, calling out dance moves such as the moonwalk while referencing tunes like Edwin Starr's "War (What Is It Good For)." If this sounds totally unlike the hard-hitting Public Enemy we know and love, it's important to remember that this record comes from the days when Spectrum was primarily a party group and hip-hop was still very new, so Long Island listeners were much more accustomed to funk than rap. Nevertheless, at the 7:44 mark of "Funky Revolution," you begin to hear some vocals that are closer to rapping than singing. The anti-disco, pro-funk rally is a far cry from Public Enemy, but it's them.

The rest that can be said about these cuts comes from the Discogs listings and Anthony Meijer, the person responsible for uploading the tracks to Soundcloud. He says, "Someone posted these acetates on ebay years ago (pre 2008 I think), way before everyone jumped on acetates and test pressings." The seller who auctioned off these acetates provided no info other than the names of the records, so Meijer is left guessing like the rest of us. One thing is certain, though: as two of the only four known songs released on record by Spectrum (City), these jams represent crtically important primary sources in the history of Public Enemy and by extension, Long Island hip-hop. To that point,  they certainly pre-date the earliest songs posted on this website heretofore and could in fact be among the first examples of plated rap recordings by a Long Island artist (I'm yet to find anything else pre-1984; Chuck D joined Spectrum in '79, and Sunshine Sound closed down in 1982, so these records would have to be from sometime between those years). Therefore, though I don't own the records, I am honored to be able to bring them to you with this, our 500th post.

A special thanks to Anthony Meijer for uploading these acetates to Soundcloud and for telling me how he came across them, and to everyone who has visited this website, shared a link to it, or commented on a post. Your continued interest, support and engagement are all deeply appreciated.

***EDIT: 2/11/20*** 
Last night, I dug up a 2005 interview with Aaron "Butch Cassidy" Allen by Jessie "Orosco" Serwer. I know I've read and linked to this in the past, but apparently not since long before this post went up last year. In the interview, Allen provides tremendous insight into Spectrum's early years. Most notably, in response to a question about Professor Griff's involvement in the crew, Allen says, "We made a jam called 'NBA', like 'something boogie association' and Griff was playing timbales." It's certainly conceivable that "NBA" could have been "NBC," and the "boogie assocation" could have been the boogie corporation, coalition, or some other acronym, or these could be related tunes. Supporting the argument that they're one and the same, you can definitely hear "timbales" on the "NBC" acetate, and Allen's description of  recording "NBA" certainly jives with Keith Shocklee's remarks about making acetates in his mom's basement. As Allen states, "There was a little room with turntables and a washing machine. We had the mics hooked up and made our first jam on a dub plate." Based on this assessment, I've added Professor Griff to the tags for this post.