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.


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.


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.



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.


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."


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.


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?!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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...


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."


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.


"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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


"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.


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 >>>


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. 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.


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.


Aesop Rock Soundtracks Space Shooter Videogame Freedom Finger

Those who lost and found themselves in the voluminous lyrics of Aesop Rock back when his wordiness was alternatingly admired and assaulted but not yet cataloged for comparative data analysis might remember a verbosely titled song by the name of "The Greatest Pac-Man Victory in History." The song, off Aesop's second Def Jux full-length, Bazooka Tooth, chronicles the artist's adventures as a Long Island teenager whacked out of his mind on LSD, doing things Long Island teenagers who are whacked out of their minds on LSD tend to do, like hang out at the Beverage Barn and beat its Pac-Man. Seventeen years later, those who once obsessesed over the repeating L-S-D alliterations in the second verse of "The Greatest Pac-Man Victory in History," as well as those just now hearing about it, can delight to find Aesop Rock further blowing minds — his own, ours, animated space villains' — in Music from the Game Freedom Finger, which collects his soundtrack to the space shooter along with three new rap songs inspired by it. At this point in writing intentionally long sentences about the new Aesop Rock release, it also occurs to me that a middle-finger-shaped spaceship blasting explosive projectiles at a cigar chomping, uniformed brain beast may be a workable visual metaphor for the rapper/producer's entire catalog. Well played, Aesop Rock ... well played indeed. So put your quarters up!

UptownBODEGA - "Silly" / "Andriene" & "One Thing"

In these volitle times, consistency itself is a commodity of increasing value. Supplies may be short, but two reliable sources come in the form of Smif-N-Wessun instrumentals and the always reliable weed man. Now, I know what you're thinking: you texted your weed man two days ago and still haven't heard back. Well, clearly your connect isn't as reliable as UptownBODEGA, whose sense of social responsibility is such that in "Silly" he dons a surgical mask while making a sale. UptownBODEGA first came to my attention last year with his Hennesis project, also notably consistent. Since then, he's been consistently active, dropping well shot videos, hocking well branded merch, and rocking shows all acorss NYC and LI, well, at least as long as venues were open. He was even ahead of the curve on the masks. Note the balaclava below.


Public Enemy #2: "We're Down with the DJs"

It's a WBAU radio promo cut by MCs Chuckie Dee and Flavor, it hit the airwaves years before Yo! Bum Rush the Show, it was played in regular rotation by DJ Doctor Dre, and it's NOT "Public Enemy #1." It's "We're Down with the DJs," a track that's been online since at least February 23, 2008 but was recorded well over 20 years prior. The Slam Jamz website dates "We're Down with the DJs" to 1985, when Flav and Chuck were hosting back-to-back Saturday night radio shows on WBAU. The MC Flavor Show would air from 10:00-11:30PM, and the Super Spectrum Mixx Show with Chuckie Dee, Butch Cassidy, Wizard K-Jee and DJ Mellow Dee would come on from 11:30PM-1:00AM. Afterward, they might be heard at the Twilites Nite Club aka Entourage in Bay Shore. (Above, Chuck holds a Spectrum City jacket up outside the club.)

Slam Jamz also tells us this record was cut at 510 South Franklin studios, the home base of Pubic Enemy and the Bomb Squad. While comparable to the dissonant style of the latter, the beat on "We're Down with the DJs" is actually "Close (To the Edit)" by Art of Noise. "This promo was typical of what [WBAU] had in supplementing the records out at the time," says the Slam Jamz site. "DJ Doctor Dre flew this into rotation just as he did the Public Enemy number One promo the year earlier. DMC of RUN-DMC still says this tape was an influence. The names mentioned are all DJs who contributed to the pioneering WBAU radio scene." Among those DJs shouted out in the track's chorus are: Wizard K-Jee, Mellow Dee, Doctor Dre, Rusty J, Butch Cassidy, Hank Shocklee and of course MC Flavor and Chuckie Dee.

Read more about WBAU in Jesse Serwer's "Bomb the Suburbs" article from a 2006 issue of Wax Poetics and stream "We're Down with the DJs" below.


Leoskux - Boxer

Spoiler alert: a little under two minutes into the "waydown" video below, Leoskux ollies a guard rail into a manual down a hill then narrowly turns 90 degrees out of the way of a coming pickup truck. The driver stops, gets out of his truck and yells, "What are you a fuckin' asshole? You coulda got fuckin' killed just now, you dick!" He then turns to the cameraman who's captured this entire event, including Leoskux's shocked reaction at having landed the trick and avoided the truck. "What the fuck are you doin'?"

I'm spoiling this incredible scene, not because I'm a "fuckin' asshole," but because I think it perfectly describes the sound and modus operandi of Wrong Islander rapper Leoskux, formerly of East Northport, now presumably sheltering in place in Brooklyn. That is to say it's effortlessly spectacular. Wildly creative and philosophical thoughts leap over boundaries and somehow stick the landing with slickly stoned delivery. Onlookers are outraged. That these moments have been captured by recording seems equally amazing. Like ... how!?

For example, on "Porno," the kid starts off his verse with "Life's just a simulation that I'm always getting faded in / Wonder if god has favorites / Bet he fucks with the atheists, maybe Mormons / Bet we only here 'cause he's tryna see some porno." In the cadence of a more traditionally minded MC, those bars might fall flat like corny, half-baked punches, but instead they serve as a perfect window into Leoskux's mindset, one from which he promptly leaps and again, against all odds, sticks the landing.

"Waydown" and "Porno" are both on Leoskux's last project, January 2019's Boxer, streaming below.


$LR - Lysergic Energy

While we're using analogies to describe sounds, $LR is to NYC-based "New New York" flag bearers like Mike and Medhane as De La Soul was to then-new-school forebearers Ultra Magnetic MCs and Boogie Down Productions. Or, if you see Southern-influenced New Yorkers as the crème de la crème, the same applies; Lysergic Energy is to Always Strive and Prosper as Buhloone Mindstate was to Critical Beatdown.

It's a similar mileu but driven further, like that hazy day-trip along the 495.

That said, $cott LaRock is his own man with his own vision, and it's substantial regardless of the substances involved. As $LR writes in Lysergic Energy's disclaimer, "DONT DO DRUGS BUT IF YOU DO TAKE IT DONT LET IT TAKE YOU." The PSA recalls $LR's handle on his cadence, which doesn't so much conform to the beats as it does use them, thereby taking them places that less capable rappers couldn't without ODing.

Lysergic Energy is $LR's first release of 2020 but his fourth in the past 12 months, follwing The Don LaRock EP, Out w the Old & In w the New and No Sleep Vol. 1. It's a long trip so catch up.


Nomad Carlos x Inztinkz - Blxvk Desert

Nomad Carlos and his Council comrades have long mixed rude boy attitudes with boom-bap aesthetics, but has it ever sounded so seamless? A far cry from the up-tempo anthems of reggae-rappers like Smif-N-Wessun, Blxvk Desert finds Nomad Carlos painting patois portraits of poverty and dejection across Inztinkz’s bleakly barren soundscape. If Clint Eastwood outlaw Josey Wales, dancehall deejay Josey Wales and Marlon James character Josey Wales were one, they might sound something like this.

Or how about "WWW" [Wild Wild West]? "If I had a dollar for every criminal act / Poverty stricken victims would be living relaxed," Carlos concedes in his opening bars. "Circumstances in a yard with a quell / Streets clean not a single sight of a shell / Is this a dream? But still..." What's next? Police shootouts, hopsital beds, surviving off meds, etc. Even when his gun bars shoot for gain, they're not glorified. They just point, shoot, kill, and keep it moving.

Nomad Carlos' Kingston roots could place him among that long lineage of Jamaica-influenced hip-hop artists, from Kool Herc to KRS One to Tek and Steele to Curly Castro and Soopah Eype. But this isn't that. It's more like what Prodigy was to the Queensbridge rap tradition: a colder, purer distillate.

Blxvk Desert was actually Nomad Carlos's 2nd release of 2019 following Cipher, which was produced entirely by London's Farma Beats. Both are available on CD via Bandcamp.


Darc Mind Was Here: Kevroc & X-Ray Reflect on 30 Years "Going Through It"

"Darc Mind was the theme, the thrust and the emphasis..." -Kevroc
Darc Mind has never been a household name, but if there’s ever been a time to get familiar it’s right now, when darkness abounds and mindfulness is needed like never before. Long Beach producer GM Web D aka X-Ray da Mindbenda and Elmont MC Kevroc have been making music together since the late ‘80s. Despite that, until the mid-00s, Darc Mind’s commercial discography consisted of one radio single and two soundtrack appearances. Over the past 15 years, however, the group has been rediscovered, their previously unheard works remastered and released. Still, as for public appearances, there have only been a couple interviews and a few photos. The duo didn’t put out a music video until 2019. If MF Doom is hip-hop’s masked supervillain, Darc Mind are The Watchers, cosmic beings surveying the universe from above, an unseen omnipresence inextricably woven into the culture’s quantum fabric.

Before Roc Marciano and The U.N., before I.G.T., Darc Mind was the first Long Island rap group to sign with Loud Records. In 1996, they were label mates of Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep, with rhymes equally cerebral to the former and beats damn near dustier than the latter. In the early to mid-2000s, when another longtime collaborator of X-Ray da Mindbenda, the aforementioned supervillain MF Doom, became the world's most popular underground rapper virtually overnight, and when his and X-Ray’s Monsta Island Czars crew released an album on Rhymesayers followed by a seemingly never-ending string of solo efforts, MC Kevroc remained on the “Outside Looking In,” his unmistakable bass vocals reserved almost exclusively for Darc Mind, album or no.

I first heard Darc Mind sometime shortly after their previously unreleased ‘90s sessions were issued on LP by Anticon Records in 2006 as Symptomatic of a Greater Ill. It immediately became one of my favorite Long Island rap records (hence one of my favorite albums in general) and has maintained that standing since. In fact, as I’ve aged, the duo’s music has taken on greater significance for me as a listener, the depth of Kevroc’s pitch exceeded by the depth of emotional resonance and lived meaning in his lyrics. Likewise, as more and more Darc Mind records have been unearthed over the years, it’s become increasingly apparent that X-Ray reserved some of his most progressive beats for Kev, that this MC could push this producer’s sound further than could any of the myriad talents in their shared cipher.

Now, a pandemic has engulfed the globe. We’re all inside looking out. Darc Mind has a new album. What Happened to the Art? is a rhetorical question posed by quietly prolific surveyors, as much an overview of the current post-cultural mileu as a retrospect of the moments leading up to this penultimate hour. It’s also their first collection of wholly new material in over a decade. The world might be about to end, but if it must, it first has to know: Darc Mind was here. Let it be known then.

Below: Long Island Rap Records humbly presents an extensive discussion with Darc Mind MC Kevroc and producer X-Ray da Mindbenda, which took place Saturday, March 21, 2020.


ADUM⁷ - The Prototype / Ephemeral

ADUM7 finger-drumming on the Akai MPK 49.
Last fall, ADUM7 released two full-length instrumental albums just one week apart from each other. To hear him tell it, this wasn't so much a rollout strategy as an artistic purge. "Sometimes as artists, we create so much material that the world never gets ​to see or experience it​," ADUM7 said. "We end up hoarding our divinely inspired ideas and vibrations for whatever reason ​we create for ourselves. It makes me think about all of the amazingly unique material that has gone unreleased via countless friends of mine that have already ascended back up​ to the stars." As someone who's been spending more and more time cataloging rarely heard music, I too think about that often.

The Prototype and Ephemeral — released October 24 and November 1, respectively — were both made entirely with the Akai MPK 49 and Propellerhead's Reason 10 software, but the range of sounds between and even within the two albums is astounding. Sure, there's an electronic underpinning to both, yet in this application genre seems almost like instrument, a tool for expression rather than a box for confinement.

As for the expressions, they too run the gamut, from loss to triumph, wistfulness to blissfulness and everywhere in between these extremes. "I’ve been going through a ton in life outside of music," ADUM7 shares."The experiences continue to remind me of how precious and delicate our human existence is. Literally like wings of the butterfly.... like the butterflies that are taking flight for the first time, we need to slow down and just enjoy the vibration of life itself. The bonus would be if we can actually slow down to love each other. For me right now, nothing else matters to me much these days, besides learning from nature, being fully self-expressed and enjoying the quality of human exchange. Please enjoy, share the music with friends and family."