12/29/20

The 10 Most Viewed Long Island Rap Posts of 2020


Like the title says, these are Long Island Rap Records' 10 most visible posts of 2020, as determined by the little view count icon in the Blogger user interface.

10. Thoughts on a couple semi-obscure De La songs from 1993 and their legacy
It warms the heart to see this post squeaking onto here, as it’s easily one of my quirkiest in recent memory, connecting Tony Touch mixtapes to Buhloone Mindstate-era b-sides to my all-time favorite album, Stakes Is High to Ras Kass’s foray into the East-West beef. Also, my lady bought me the Ego Trippin’ (Part 3) VLS for Xmas (imported from Japan no less).

9. Hus “Wavo” Kingpin – The Threesome EP
Hus never takes years off, but 2020 was an especially prolific one for him. This being arguably his strongest project of the year, and a very early post on Cognac Spaceship being the fourth most viewed post in site history, it’s fitting that Wavo should find himself on this list. Shout out the Internet Archive for being a place where you can still find Madonna’s Sex book online.

8. Lil Pharo – “F4mous” / “Hendi”
Artists and managers who hit the submission page: good things come to those who wait and also to those who share these posts across their social media channels. There was about a month between submission and follow-up here, so obviously I’m not in the practice of premiering hit singles ahead of pay-to-play sites, but I’m happy to provide a platform for those who do their due diligence.

7. “He’s a Caveman, It’s Another Time.” R.A. the Rugged Man Puts the Id in Long Island.
R.A. the Rugged Man is known as both a crazy motherfucker and a devout hip-hop head, and this interview shows why. His antics are legendary, but for me it was most fun hearing R.A. talk about his roots in the mid- to late-1980s LI hip-hop culture. I learned a lot from our discussion. Trust I’m still trying to find the Latino freestyle single that provided his first appearance on wax.

6. Andy Koufax – I’m From A Little Place
Fun fact: the original promo for this album compared it in a roundabout way with a pineal gland cyst and was attributed to Jesus Christ. Side note: the Long Island Rap Record Store page that also launched with this release brought in more views than the top two posts on this list combined. If one-twelfth of those visitors bought a tape, they’d be sold out. If you buy one, I’ll be super grateful.

5. “It's a dirty game of chess or checkers. Get paid or be left naked and desperate. I lit a candle and played Jamaican records, prayed and rested next to my favorite weapons, saved my bread up and then made my exit. I'm going back and forth with the thoughts of quitting like table tennis, but what's the game if the players ain't in it? Every pen ran out of ink on the day this was written.”

4. Roc Marciano: The Flipmode Era
The only surprising thing about Roc Marciano having two of the year’s top 10 posts is that neither of them is in the top 3. This post was basically me cataloging an afternoon spent listening to Flipmode Squad songs from 1999-2001. In the immortal words of Busta Rhymes, “So then they said, ‘Oh, so that mean we gon’, you gon’ switch it on em?’ I said, ‘Yeah, Flipmode. Flipmode is the greatest.’”

3. Dreddy Kruger Spotlights LI Talent on Think Differently Two: The Audio Film
Dreddy hit me after seeing DJ Booth’s feature on I’m From A Little Place. This led to me doing a feature on his latest project, which is a great listen, and DJ Booth doing a feature on the man himself, which is a great read. Definitely check all that out if you haven’t and look out for more Think Differently-related posts coming in 2021.

2. Darc Mind Was Here: Kevroc & X-Ray Reflect on 30 Years “Going Through It”
The possible opportunity to some day do this very interview was one of the main reasons I started writing about music in the first place, so you’ll have to understand when I say that this is easily my favorite post in the site’s history and the one I’ve gone back to most throughout 2020. With so many threads to follow from here, I expect to continue returning to it for many years to come.

1. An oral history of IGT, the Ill Got Team.
A post on IGT was long overdue, to the point where I felt the only way to do it justice would be to include a little bit of everything I could find on them. To organize it, I used the same tactic I’d adopted for my post on Rakim’s early years (the site’s second most viewed ever). I’m happy to report this ended up connecting me directly with IGT’s Lagato Shine, who was nice enough to submit some tracks for LongIslandRap.comp v4 and who will no doubt be featured here again in the future.

12/27/20

J.Yard - No Pity for Winners

For many artist-performers and professionals in general, there's a clear divide between presented persona and personal presence. For others, it's harder to distinguish. J.Yard's No Pity for Winners is self-produced, -engineered and without a single guest feature, but that's not what has me thinking about the blurred lines of daily grinds and performance art. More impressive is that it's all those things while also autobiographical and ambitious in the truest sense of those words. It's the kind of project that, irrespective of streaming stats or sales or critical reception, is victorious in and of itself. I don't know J.Yard personally — his manager sent me a couple videos a few months back — but congratulations to that man for everything. #NP4W.

12/26/20

Crazy Harry - "No Narcan"

There's no way to glamorize opioid overdoses. You pass out, seize and turn blue. The stark darkness is emphasized by limits on access to medications that can prevent overdose deaths, as Crazy Harry's "No Narcan" depicts. In working on this post I tried to source some needle exchange or Naxolone distribution programs to link, but these byzantine webpages are all I could find.

Urbvn Architects NYC - Mutual Understandings 2

Mutual Understandings 2 follows up on the group's collective debut and showcases some of their extended collective with features from Profound, Matty Stones, Yung Kobain, Smerk, who also appears on the first album, and V1NO, who delivers a show-stopping performance on "Real Ties." At the project's core, however, remains the trio of Josh Alias, Yung K, and Blaq Kush, three MCs whose creativity is matched only by their daring; see lines like "Cybernetic internet got me outlandish / I stay on line like I'm waiting for a sandwich." Also new in UA world: Blaq Kush's identifiably titled No Dental Insurance is pay-what-you-can for 48 hours.

Some More Gifts from Johnny Storm

"Ghost of P" is off Lyrical Assassin 5. The 2nd joint is unreleased but definitely needs one of those. "Christmas In 99" is a little something from St. Nicholas, who was Black.

Prince Paul - The Crazy Forgotten 80's

Prince Paul dropped another installment in the It's Not the Size Your Mix It's How You Use It series streaming on his Mixcloud page. The description labels it part 1, so hopefully there's another coming soon. Note: it's been five years since the last one so some patience may be required here.  Also required listening: the hilarious and insightful interview podcast Prince Paul and Open Mike Eagle did earlier this year, featuring in-depth discussion of some of Paul's best and lesser known projects. Completely unknown: whether or not Prince Paul received the cassette tape and letter I tried to send him this year.

Grandmilly - Cookies For Santa (Hosted by Shozae)

"This is more than music to me, this shit is everything / Sun, moon, and stars, the science of being / Chris Kringle, I'll call him Santa, that means Satan to me / When you black they be looking at you like you got a disease / So I keep a mask like it's Halloween for the quarantine." Grandmilly and Shozae are back with some seasonal presents of mind, produced by Zenan. This the same duo that brought us 2 Stoopid Dogs, Motel Six, Mausoleum, and Adventurelandso don't be surprised when the whole tape bangs. Great minds think alike. Touch the tracklist to download via Mediafire, or stream below sans outro due to Soundcloud being a tool of neo-capitalist oppression.

12/20/20

October 1981, Hampton Bays, NY: The First Long Island Rap Recording?


In December 2017, I went to Mr. Cheapo in Mineola digging for records to include on a Christmas mix. In the dollar bin, I found an album called Crystal Christmas for the 80's by The Rolling Snows. 

The back cover provides the following credits: rapper - Mike T (appearing courtesy of Golden Pyramid Records), vocals - Johnny Fox, guitars - Joe Drab, bass - Bill Heyman, drums - Dennis Raven, keyboards - David Lebolt, alto sax - Johnny Ice, congas/all percussion - Milton Cardona, and piano/cat synthesizer - Joe Khejl. The album was produced and arranged by Gilla Nolan and John Talimini, engineered by Denny McNerney of Bolognese Recording Studio in Merrick, and manufactured by Pros in Motion of Hampton Bays. The recording was done in October of 1981. 

The rapper, Mike T, appears to have released one single called "Do It Any Way You Wanna," also in 1981. It's unclear if he's from Long Island or elsewhere in the Tri-State Area, as his label, Golden Pyramid Records, was based in Fanwood, New Jersey. Nonethless, this Christmas album was almost definitely made on Long Island (either in Merrick or Hampton Bays) and features Mike T rapping on the "Frosty the Snow Man," "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," and "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" pieces of the Medley that occcupies all of Side A. Thus, Crystal Christmas for the 80's includes what just might be some of the earliest Long Island rap recordings.

Other points of interest: engineer Denny McNerney went on to produce Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It"; percussionist Milton Cardona has appeared on countless jazz and salsa recordings, including albums by the likes of Dave Valentin and Willie Colon; and keyboardist David Lebolt, who played a Prophet-5 synth on this album, went on to become an executive with Avid Technology's Digidesign division, makers of Pro Tools. 

The other musicians on this album have few documented credits between them, and this appears to be the only release from The Rolling Snows, which leads me to think Crystal Christmas for the 80's was something of a one-off novelty record conceived by Hamptonite "producers" (i.e., people with money, likely under the influence of the day's recreational substance of choice; see Santa's shades on the cover) and executed by studio musicians, who one hopes were fairly compensated for their efforts. 

With that, Long Island Rap Records wishes you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. Look out for LIRR03, coming sometime in 2021.

11/29/20

Breon S.Y.N.D.E.L. - Lavendar TVs, Neon Blue Glass


Over the past few months, Elmont-raised R&B hip-hop amalgamator Breon S.Y.N.D.E.L. has released no less than four broken-open-hearted, cyanosic songs with stunning visual accompaniment. Here's a quick watchlist. Hear more on Breon's Spotify.

11/27/20

Roc Marciano - "Downtown 81"


In which we find our protagonist riding the Shinkansen to Tokyo, touring Buddhist shrines, playing croquet, walking around a luxury estate in a Versace bathrobe, attending a Formual 1 race and finally catching the bullet train back home.

Aesop Rock - Spirit World Field Guide

The "must not sleep, must warn others" ink of Aesop Rock's early spellbooks has gradually given way to more insular themes, as if the sorcerer mage, having flown too close to the sun, has retreated to his cave to ride out some internal hellstorm near-rhyming infernal maelstrom, and it turns out this single-player, many-charactered D&D campaign is much more fun than faithfully filling the role of your doomsday cult's most loquacious doomsayer. 

"The Gates" closes, "My dream home is like 10,000 dead bolts and less than no windows." Make no mistake, though, this isolation is a means rather than an ends, the negative darkness a dream portal.


A telling aside: Aesop Rock albums often have one relatively straightforward song, which you can listen to just once and know what it's about. Labor Days had "No Regrets." Skelethon had "Ruby 81." Spirit World Field Guide has "1 to 10," a 53-second track about the rapper's bad back. 

All at once, Spirit World Field Guide is Aesop Rock's most outlandish, focused, conceptual and funniest album yet. I'm equal parts upset and unsurprised the vinyl has already sold out.

11/13/20

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.

11/3/20

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.

10/25/20

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.

10/21/20

S.I.D.sters

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.

10/20/20

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."

10/9/20

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.

9/28/20

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?!

9/23/20

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.

9/22/20

Escapism - "Bootlicker"

A few years back, I got into it on Twitter with a certain white, Suffolk County rapper over whether the president was emboldening Long Island's armchair white supremacists to voice their hate more publicly. He contended that wasn't happening. Now they're literally screaming "n****r lover" at protesters a few towns from his home. You live, you learn. Escapism is Smithtown's Taboo and New Jersey's TabInStereo. Register to vote. Find your polling place. Vote.

Kendo TAF - Shut 'Em Down (Live)

"I had a lot of issues growing up," Kendo TAF once said, speaking about how his Hyenaz in the Desert group arrived at its horrocore look. "How bad it was. It darkened me. Like I don’t want to be around nobody; when I did the mask it made me feel I was hiding. But I can still speak. It took a life of it’s own. It became the insignia when you see me. That’s what you see. This dangerous dude but he changed his ways. That mask let you know there’s a darkside to this dude." Kendo would shed the mask for the cover of 2006's Almost Famous only to don it again in videos and on tour with Public Enemy. Below, he raps both with and without it over Pete Rock's "Shut 'Em Down" remix, live in Japan in 2009.

9/11/20

Johnny Storm - Blacc Leathers & Gold Chains

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, the agency's School Breakfast Program served over 2.4 billion breakfasts in FY2018. The very inclusion of the letters FY in that stat says a lot. Johnny Storm fka Uncle John fka Sky Walker has been on this site since 2016 and rapping further back than then. Christ Kenneth is a relative newcomer to these pages. I'm not saying this is that, but if Johnny Storm and Christ Kenneth came out as a group called the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, would anyone object? Meantime, Blacc Leathers & Gold Chains is 12 of the most nutritional minutes of rap music you'll hear this fiscal year.

9/3/20

Poepan the Prolifik Penn - "DoItTogether!"

Sometimes, there's not much one can say; see me watching this video, knowing I'm going to sit back and let it speak for itself.

Sometimes, there's a lot to say; see Poepan the Prolifik Penn getting so galvanized by the movement he comes out the woodwork, i.e, off a multi-year hiatus, with something like this:

"Our philosophies derive from Haile Selassie, Garvey, El Hajj Malik and others hated by Nazis / DGS is my posse of Buffalo Soliders bombarding the industry with artistry."

Hear, motherfucking hear.

9/2/20

Nomad Carlos x The Artivist - The Psyche

The rental rolls down a desolate highway, winding hills on either side with many behind, more ahead, and nothing else to command the driver's attention. His mind wanders abyssal spirals. Until ... what's that ahead? Any blip along this route would demand a stop if only to see something other than open road and barren hills. A fruit stand? Perfect. Pull off. But wait ... who works this place? Something's wrong. The sign reads Freshly Picked but the setup screams store bought. And there's the discarded Driscolls package. Click. Bang. Vroom.

8/21/20

Akari - NOMOH

If you know Akari as a rapper, you know that his voice resides in the low-end of the frequency spectrum. I've called him the Barry White of hip-hop; if that pitch isn't his hallmark it's only because his beats and rhymes are every bit as engaging.

NOMOH, Akari's first cassette release, showcases the artist's evolving talents as a producer as he ekes post-regional funk from deftly composed arrangements of dusty loops and vintage synths. Still, the low-end remains his wheelhouse, lyrical sub bass lines speaking volumes on his voice box's behalf.

In recent years, Akari has co-produced and engineered some brilliant work for stablemates AM and Isaac Thursday (and was also the only artist to appear on two tracks on LongIslandRap.Comp v4) , and while those collaborations have been amazing in their own right, it's vindicating to hear Akari's sound boom even deeper speaking wholly for itself.

8/16/20

What Happened to the Legion of D.U.M.E. Members Who Weren't in Darc Mind...

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of interviewing Darc Mind, the duo of MC Kevroc and DJ/producer GM Web D aka X-Ray Da Mindbenda. One of the many topics we touched on was Legion of D.U.M.E., the crew that Darc Mind was part of before branching out on their own. Legion of D.U.M.E. released its sole single, Son's of Sam b/w Darc Mind Inc. indpendently in '94. Seventeen years later, Dope Folks Records issued the '94 Dume EP, including the two tracks from that single and four other songs the group had recorded in their day. Now, we know what Kevroc and GM Web D were up to before and after Legion of D.U.M.E., but what about the other members of this crew?

In our interview, Web identified the two rappers appearing with Kevroc on "Son's of Sam" as Schott Free and MC Prime. He also named B-Wyze as a founding member.

Staten Islander Schott Free is best known to most hip-hop heads as the former A&R for LoudRecords, who helped bring legendary groups such as Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and The U.N. to the label; he also co-executive produced The Infamous and Marcberg among other projects. As a rapper, Schott Free hasn't released much. However, it turns out he did put together something of a solo project called The Tom Hagen Tragedy, which features Roc Marciano and Lagato Shine among others. Two songs from this project — "Sake, Me & Rocky" with Roc Marc and "X-Clusive" with Sadat X — are included in the playlist below. Schott Free has also continued to help bring other artists up via his Frozen Files collective.

By comparison, much less is known about MC Prime. Surprisingly, Web identified him as an early KMD member who was signed to the Idlers label. It's hard to figure which, if any, Idlers release(s) he was a part of, though the label's first single, 1986's "Merlin," was by a group/artist named Legion, so ... maybe that's it? Anyway, years after Legion of D.U.M.E. dissolved, Prime resurfaced under the alias, Third Rail Phantom, as one-third of a group called Hocuz Pocuz along with MC Lando Lakes and DJ/producer Chris Loot. Hocuz Pocuz released at least two singles: 1999's "Rip the Mic" and 2003's "Summer in the City," the latter of which was executive produced by DJ Kay Slay. There's also what appears to be a full-length album called 123 on the Hocuz Pocuz YouTube channel, albeit without an ordered tracklist; three of those trafcks, all of which feature Prime predominently, are in the playlist below.

Lastly, we come to B-Wyze  who Web says might have come up with the name and idea for the group. Despite not being on the Legion of D.U.M.E. single, B-Wyze was arguably involved in more high-profile projects than anyone else in the crew other than Schott Free. As a Public Enemy affiliate, B-Wyze was a member of 5ive-O aka the Homicide Squad as well as Professor's Griff's Last Asiatic Disciples and featured prominently on those groups' respective albums, If U R Not Part Uv Da Solution... and Pawns in the Game. He also rapped alongside Chuck D himself on "Endonesia," from the Public Enemy frontman's 1996 solo debut, Autobiography of Mistachuck, co-wrote the song, "Wandering Eyes," by Nuttin' Nyce off the Sister Act 2 Soundtrack, and is likely related to singer Carolyn Harding, who appeared on a number of popular dance singles in the '80s and '90s. B-Wyze raps on four songs in the playlist below, including a strong standout from X-Ray Da Mindbenda's Monsta Mixes Vol. 2.

 

8/12/20

Adam Snow - "42" ft. Freddie Gibbs & Josh Alias

When you get on a track with an MC like Freddie Gibbs — an MC who has done multiple projects with Madlib and Alchemist, an artist who's consistently in the conversation for best rapper and best project of the year, and who somehow manages to pull all this off while often sounding like he's barely even trying — you must do more than come correct. If you're Josh Alias, you recognize this, so you come with the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. This is what it sounds like when an MC who specializes in blacking the fuck out pushes himself far beyond his personal best and then just keeps going. Look for Alias and Snow's collaborative album, A Place In the Sun, coming soon.

7/23/20

Hus "Wavo" Kingpin - The Threesome EP

In October 1992 Madonna released a 128-page photography book called Sex, which featured on pages 102 and 104-108 pictures from a shoot with Big Daddy Kane and Naomi Campbell. (Flip the pages below.)

In July 2020 Hus Kingpin released The Threesome EP on digital, vinyl and CD formats with cover art inspired by said shoot, including the illustrated alternative by Squat Deadface seen here.

"She said, 'Yeah, it's wavy, ain't it?'"

"Huh, say what? What was that?"

CDs and LPs include the download.

Sugiwon - "Nova"

In Sugiwon's bag for new single "Nova": jungle drums, forgotten zips, cruise control, Marvel and Capcom references but not Marvel vs. Capcom, and as per usual no shortage of catchy hook-line sinkers.

If arcades were still a thing, "Nova" would go there for romance. At once woozy and wavy, Sugiwon's warped croon rhymes take off via all major modes of transporation, by land, by sea and by air.

Planet devouring demigod in the rear view, new herald on deck.

7/22/20

PcaSoul - Batcha Mama (prod. by DJ Prince)


I'm late. Something might've happened. Regardless, this exists. In addition to producing his own shit, which scorches, DJ Prince has been soundtracking a number of side projects in recent months as always. PcaSoul, of Washington Heights and Arcane Potential, freestyles sung raps like dance recitals on dub slaps. Lauryn Hill interpolations become note app word associations become...

7/18/20

Jazzy Yowa - 2 Months After February 20

The title might lead you to think trees and spring, but if that's the intent, the result is more palm trees and hot springs. It's no vacations, though.

2 Months After February 20 is a sweaty, steamy affair, like moving into a new apartment in August with no air conditioning.

Sipping Dark n' Stormies after a day of lifting U-Haul boxes filled to the breaking point with a life on wax, those little corner slices of packing tape keeping it all together, the glass's sticky condensation recalling that.

Where are we going with all this? "Somewhere."

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.



5/9/20

Busta Rhymes Freestyles 10 Minutes for UK Radio

 Today feels like a 1995 Busta Rhymes freestyle kind of day.

Little Vic & SmooVth - "Ego Trip"

When Little Vic said, "Tired of the civilian life and I be riding like I'm [jockey] William Pike martyred on the 'gram for a million likes. Brilliant reptillian used to sip Killis and twist Phillies, keep it thick like Sicilian slice. Call the cops Satan, molotov shaking, garlic knots baking, harlots at the barber shop waiting," I felt that shit, even though I know absolutely nothing about horseracing.

For "Ego Trip," Valley Stream local Little Vic is joined by fellow LI vets SmooVth Dude Calhoun and 5ickness on the rare bicameral beat that's so dope it's hard to say which chamber's better.

5/7/20

"It's a dirty game of chess or checkers. Get paid or be left naked and desperate. I lit a candle and played Jamaican records, prayed and rested next to my favorite weapons, saved my bread up and then made my exit. I'm going back and forth with the thoughts of quitting like table tennis, but what's the game if the players ain't in it? Every pen ran out of ink on the day this was written."

That's it. That's the post.

Mini-Concerto Trap Loops from Jigsaw Fittin' It

Into the tradition of classically trained Long Island musicians who also make dope beats (see Kerwin "Sleek" Young and many others, I'm sure) comes Bellmore's own Jigsaw Fittin' It whose operatic, sample-heavy instrumentals make mini-concerto movements of modern trap. Which is to say notes become music that is exactly as beautiful as the universe intended it to be. Don't let the fact that almost every beat on Jigsaw's Soundcloud is simply tagged "#Hip Hop #Trap #808" bely the diversity of texture and mood therein, because it's a lot. Check out some prime examples below, and if you're in the market, check his Wixsite for rates.

Alchemist Shares Unreleased Roc Marciano, DOOM & Prodigy Cuts


Hip-hop producer and DJ Instagram live feeds have been a silver lining through the current gloom. To wit, here's Alchemist doing what I imagine I would be doing every day if I was him: sitting in my dungeon surrounded by vinyl, getting nice while playing unreleased Long Island rap records. Props to Blunted Soul for having the good sense to screen-record these.

4/25/20

Dzoe - "Dash" ft. Dblock

The Driver's Ed instructor said I had a "lead foot," played that passenger brake like his life depended on it, which, to be fair, it probably did on at least one occasion. The concept of automobiles as "aluminum death traps" is even funnier when considered beside the concept of driver's education. "You see this? This could easily kill you and your loved ones. Here's how to operate it safely." Perversely, there's little fun in that compared to the adrenal rush of dashing past mini-vans and driver's ed cars. Dzoe's out in Bellport by way of Riverhead, which can be quite a haul ... unless, of course, you push the DeLorean speedometer to 88 mph, as such >>>

4/22/20

MF DOOM Tribute ft. Pete Nice, Kurious, Bobbito, Lord Sear, Jake One & MC Serch

In 2004, during my sophomore year of college, I came across Philaflava, a message board with blue skin, some bad attitudes and a lot of really good hip-hop music. Side note: joining rap forums in the '00s may have inoculated an entire generation of rap nerds against the trolldom that now runs the world. I've never met the site's founder Jason Gloss, but as the man behind the T.R.O.Y. blog, he was the first person to let me write about music for their website. So, in a way, all this here is his fault.

Anyway, Gloss is now a co-host of Take It Personal Radio. The podcast recently aired a HUGE (six-hour!) episode dedicated entirely to MF DOOM. I'm only two hours in, but already I've heard some amazing anecdotes about the Metal Faced Supervillain from collaborators Pete Nice, Bobbito and Jake One. Those alone are more than worth a click, but the kicker is the super-slick mix by DJ 360. In addition to the aforementioned guest appearances, 360 smoothly blends all sorts of pop-culture clips, highlighting some very obscure references in DOOM's lyrics — imagine random TV ad drops revealing product slogans from the previous bar while the instrumental track continues without missing a beat. There are also some very unexpected selections, including deep album cuts from DOOM's less-celebrated alter egos.

Bottom line: it's dope, and you should check it out (stream below or download here). Also, Philadelphia (home of Philaflava if you didn't know) is the second best rap city, and if I can ever travel again, I can't wait to revisit.


P.S., If you're looking for more anecdotes featuring the artist formerly known as Zev Luv X, check out Long Island Rap Records' lengthy interview with Darc Mind, wherein producer X-Ray da Mindbenda briefly reminisces about the early days of KMD as well as his time with King Geedorah in the Monsta Island Czars.

4/19/20

Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement - Pan African Dub

Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement is the brainchild of composer/producer Kerwin Young, who's known in hip-hop circles for his work with The Bomb Squad and in orchestral circles for having composed seven-going-on-eight (yes, 8!) symphonies. Pan African Dub is his ninth (yes, 9th!) studio album under the Kasuf moniker. However, to hear him tell it, "It was never intended to be a Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement album, but…shit happens, and I had to improvise and keep it moving." Pan African Dub was meant "to feature spoken word artists and rappers, but I couldn’t get the cooperation I wanted," Young says.

It's hard to gauge without knowing which specific vocalists he had in mind for the project, but judging by the overall vibe, the instrumental outcome could be considered a happy accident. Kasuf and the Mazz Muvement's twanging guitar and triumphant horn lines draw the listener into rank and file in such a way that lyrics might've only distracted from the experience. Plus, there's a certain ease of refinement in how Young composes here; it's almost militaristic but pointedly so, always toward the cause of freedom. Besides, the song titles themslves succeed in setting scenes for the music to populate. Take, "Book of Poison Burn" or "Chopping the Claw (Of the Colonizer)" or "Black Woman Smash the Devil" for example. There's a cinematic quality to each – no surprise considering Young's experience composing for TV, film and video games. Having contributed music to everything from New York Undercover (1994) to The People vs. O.J. Simpson (2016), the producer knows how to tell stories through sound alone, and his background as a classically trained, jazz informed composer crearly aids in giving his take on dub a transportive quality.

The change in gears may have been an act of improvisation, but what is improvising if not composing in real time? And in terms of that, call him Kerwin or Kasuf, the man most definitely excels.