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. 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.

4/12/20

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.

4/10/20

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.

4/6/20

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.


3/29/20

$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.

3/26/20

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.

3/25/20

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.

3/12/20

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."

3/10/20

"You can't front on Long Island; we put too much into the game." An oral history of I.G.T., the Ill Got Team.

Left to right: Lagato Shine, Belly Valentine and O'Hatch
I.G.T. (Ill Gotten Team, Ill Got Team, In God we Trust) was a Nassau County rap crew that released several singles and street samplers with Loud Records before the label folded in 2001, leaving the group's finished debut album, Alpha & Omega, to languish unreleased.


Their story could've ended there, but it didn't and hasn't. After Loud closed shop, I.G.T. released several albums independently as well as mixtapes under the auspices of the group offshoots L.I.P.A.A. and Last Run Entertainment. Roosevelt's Lagato Shine has remained most active of all I.G.T. members, putting out numerous solo projects. His longtime partner and I.G.T. co-founder, rapper/producer Belly Valentine aka Belly White aka Crack Val also enjoyed an active solo career, producing songs for the likes of Ghostface Killah and Tragedy Khadafi among others before tragically passing away just three years ago on March 6, 2017 at age 41. R.I.P. Lakeywen Brown.

Left to right in I.G.T. shirts: Da Nomad Dough,
Ace Hardware and Lagato Shine
During their Loud Records days, the I.G.T. roster consisted of Lagato, Valentine, O'Hatch, and Klee Klepto aka Klee Kevlar. However, Klee was incarcerated during the bulk of the recording sessions that would form Alpha & Omega, so he appears only on a few interludes culled from demo takes, as well as on album closer, "The Ritual," the song that landed I.G.T. its Loud deal. Da Nomad Dough aka Bloody Dough (of Freeport) also made appearances during this period and would later front the L.I.P.A.A. offshoot along with rappers Blaze and Fly Gee. Other MCs from the area, such as Sol Ace fka Ace Hardware (of Hempstead), also count themselves among the extended I.G.T. family. (In addition to Ill Got Team and In God we Trust, the I.G.T. acronym has also been said to stand for Illgotten or Ill Got Ten, perhaps suggesting there may have been as many as 10 members at some point.)

The following "oral history" consists of quotes that have been attributed to I.G.T. members and their label mates in numerous interviews and articles that have been written about them over the years. A complete list of sources and incomplete discography appear at the end of the post.



"The Ritual"

Val: Me & La was rhymin' together for a while, and O and Klee always rocked together. We hooked up to do a joint called "The Ritual." It was spontaenous. We clicked and it just happened.

Lagato: We were the nicest cats in town. It only made sense that we combine it into I.G.T.

Anonymous Ex-Loud Records Source (ELRS): They were signed by Schott Free, the legendary A&R who brought groups like Mobb Deep to Loud.

Schott "Free" Jacobs, A&R, Loud Records: They just pressed play and it was like straight-up steak and potatoes. It's not often that you catch a group and everybody gels. I remember listening to the demo alongside Inspectah Deck. Deck was like, "What a brother gotta do to get a deal?" So we had to get Deck on the album.



"L.I.F.E. (Long Island Forever)"

Lagato: Roosevelt, Long Island in NY is a rough urban town where we scratch and pull to make ends meet, but it’s love amongst the neighbors.

Val: You can't front on Long Island; we put too much into the game. We got legends that everyone knows.

Lagato: We're tryin' to start a movement.

O'Hatch: We all got our own style. We just listen to the beat and let the beat move us. We try to break the rules too.

Val: We rap for ordinary people. I know the music we make is good, but it doesn't mean anything if no one's listening. We gotta get that plaque.

Pete Rock: "Word to Life" is a record that everyone can relate to. It's a song by regular people, for regular people.

Lagato: When they hear us, I just want niggas to respect us, like "Yo, them niggas is nice and they be spittin'. 'Cause I would be doing this regardless. It's a business and we want to be paid, but it's really a respect thing for us.

O'Hatch: We just want to show people that there's more out there than what they hear on the radio. If they listen to it for 30 seconds, they'll realize what they were missing.




Alpha & Omega

ELRS: [Schott Free] largely had a different view of how they should sound. During the making of the album group member Klee Klepto unfortunately went to jail and his only salvageable vocals from their demos were used as interludes. As the album was being finished up, Loud Records was nearing the end of its lifespan and there was a lot of pressure to deliver hit records from Sony ... but the album was made in the vein of classic Loud albums and Schott’s influence meant that the album was largely void of a single for the changing commercial times. The group felt that they had other strong tracks but they were blocked from putting them on the album because they didn’t fit the vibe of the album. So a great album that featured production by Large Professor, Alchemist, Sean Cane, Mahogany, Buckwild, EZ Elpee and group member Belly White never saw the light of day.

Reek da Villian: I remember being in I.G.T.’s first studio session at the legendary Chung King Studio In Manhattan, New York. I freestyled for A&R’s Schott Free, Matty C, and Shawn C. After rapping for them for hours, they all fell in love with my flow and spoke of signing me.

Dino Brave, The U.N.: Even the way we got on was sort of a fluke. Schott Free, we met up with him off the strength of another rap group – a dude that we was doing demos with around the way – he mistakenly played our stuff trying to cue up their stuff. It was I.G.T., it was their session. They were one of the last groups to sign with Loud Records before they folded, and my man G. Gary was up in the studio playing some beats for them and he played a song that The UN did, and Schott Free was like, “Yo, who’s that?” That’s how is started. Schott Free and Matty [C] had signed [I.G.T.], but they didn’t drop. They recorded the album and everything, but by the time they were gonna come out Loud Records had closed their doors. Those were some good brothers though.



Incomplete Discography
G.I.T. Live 12"/CDS, Loud Records RPROLP 4350, 2000
Word to Life 12", Loud Records CAS 32682, 2001
Class By Emself 12"/CDS, Loud Records RPROLP 4486, 2001
Street Music 12", Loud Records, CAS 16843,
Street Music - The Preview, CD Sampler, Loud Records, LOUD9059-1, 2001
Illgotten, CD Sampler, Loud Records, 2001
Eat 2 Live, CD, Ill Gotten Inc., 2002
The 4 Fathers, CD, Ill Gotten Inc., 2006
I.G.T & Drama Squad - Bad News, 2007
Alpha & Omega, CD, Last Run Entertainment, 2015
Lagato Shine & I.G.T. - Ill Gott Till We Rott, Last Run Entertainment, 2017
Lagato Shine & Nomad Dough - Red Zone Ridin', Last Run Entertainment, 2018



Sources
"Everyday People,"Vibe, December 2001;  "One team of MCs Attempts to Reignite their Hometown Torch and Carry the Legacy into the Next Generration," Unknown Magazine; "Shelved Albums #1: I.G.T.," Fat Lace Magazine, January 2008; Reek da Villian Biography, FlipmodeFans.com, January 2009; "Dino Brave [The UN] - The Unkut Interview," Unkut.com, May 2014; "Lagato Shine Takes All Responsibility on His Own Shoulders," Skilly Magazine, August 2016.


3/8/20

Lil Pharo - "F4mous" / "Hendi" (New Apollos Remix)

"I've been walking around like I'm famous / Fuck around might give you a baby / I can't wait til we get out the basement / Tell my brothers we finally made it" might be some of the most Long Island shit I've ever heard in my life, no shade. That's Lil Pharo on "F4mous."On "Hendi," he's even more to the point, that being fast fucking ("slide in your pussy like jelly") and faster escapes ("text me tomorrow girl, I gotta catch my plane").

If there's a common denominator to Lil Pharo's one-offs, it's a penchant for melody. Pharo's flow is drawn to it like a moth on spilled Hennessey to a club pateo heater flame. Just add Jordans ... and trunk bass. Lil Pharo's poised to crack the algorithm like Howard Carter outside King Tut's tomb.

3/6/20

Dreddy Kruger Spotlights LI Talent on Think Differently Two: The Audio Film

Album cover photo by Theophilos Constantinou
On February 7, 2020, longtime hip-hop A&R, executive producer, and jack of all trades Dreddy Kruger quietly dropped the follow-up to his acclaimed 2005 project, Think Differently Music: Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture

For those who were heavy into Wu-Tang and undground rap 15 years ago — yours truly included — that album was a touchstone moment, pairing some of the era's most respected indy rappers like MF Doom and Sean Price with Wu-Tang generals like RZA as well as killa bees like Prodigal Sunn, Timbo King and others. The project also featured several spoken word interludes voiced by independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, known throughout hip-hop ciphers for casting RZA and GZA alongside Bill Murray in the film Coffee & Cigarettes and for giving RZA his first big film-scoring gig with the modern cult classic Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai.

In a sense, Think Differently Two: The Audio Film picks up right where the earlier Think Differently project left off, once again drawing some of the most respected lyricists from both the Wu-Tang family and today's independent hip-hop scene. This time, however, Kruger has crafted the project with the stated intent to explore the cinematic potential of hip-hop music. Thus, in addition to cameos from Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino, we hear several intrumental interludes arranged like on-screen transitions and intermissions. Like its predecessor, The Audio Film is quite the ambitious compilation, but this is no conventional sequel as the new project has a totally different sound and concept, at once grittier and more cohesive than its precursor.



That sound is achieved in part via the new cast of independent rappers who appear on The Audio Film. Most of the tracks that include vocals feature more than one rapper, with just a few exceptions that are especially noteworthy here as two of the four MCs who get the opportunity to stand alone are Long Island rappers. One is Don O., of Hempstead, who has the honor of setting the scene for the single "Slate" alongside Academy Award winning screenwriter and world-famous auteur director Quentin Tarantino. Don O. aka Don the Jeweler, who's also known for his work as part of Schott "Free" Jacobs' Team Frozen, actually manages to set several scenes on the track as his restless reel jumps from "moves like the Earth's crust" to pistol whips that leave a "Rahman knot." Ouch.

The other Long Island-bred MC going for dolo on The Audio Film should be no stranger to this site's longtime visitors, as we were covering him years before the Dutch started pressing him on limited-edition colored vinyl. I'm speaking of the inimitable Rome Streetz, originally of Elmont. Rome closes out The Audio Film with the appropriately titled "End Credits," where he unspools a whole roll of slick shit in his trademark spilling syllable style.


Some cynical fools might wonder why Dreddy Kruger, a man who lives and breathes NYC, would showcase LI so prominently on this project. However, those who think back will note that the Wu-Tang Meets Indie Culture lineup featured a who's who of LI MCs, namely Rock Marciano (four years before Marcberg when he still went by Rock instead of Roc), MF Doom, Aesop Rock and R.A. the Rugged Man. Furthermore, Dreddy's Think Differently was also the label behind 2008's The Box, the unreleased album from Merrick brothers Folk & Stress. But that's a story for another day. For now, nuke yourself some popcorn and enjoy The Audio Film, available on Bandcamp and Apple Music.

Thoughts on a couple semi-obscure De La Soul songs from 1993 and their legacy...


Now here's something that's both an interesting find and a shining example of how YouTube can simultaneously be one of the best and worst platforms on the internet. Above is a 9-minute clip from Tony Touch's Hip-Hop 35 mixtape, featuring a here-untitled track by De La Soul, followed by Tha Alkoholiks' "Bullshit," with plenty of Tony's cuts included. One of the YouTube commenters identifies the song as the ostensibly unreleased "Come On, Yeah," based apparently on the fact that the words for that song on several lyrics sites match the words here. The commenter also takes issue with Tony's scratching, saying it "ruins the song." Which, I mean, come on... Further, if we check the Discogs page for Hip-Hop 35 (which, to be fair, might not have been around eight years ago when this was posted on YouTube), we find that the title of the song is "Ego Trippin' (Part 3) (Egoristic Mix)."



(So, you might ask, why even post the YouTube stream if I've found the source? Simply because this is how it came to my attention in the first place and I like Tony Touch's scratching.)

Far from unreleased, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" appears on the Ego Trippin' (Part Two) single, which was released by a well known record label in 1993 as the second single off De La Soul's third LP, Buhloone Mind State. (Fun fact: Discogs catalogs 21 editions of this single!) However, unlike the A side's LA Jay Remix, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" is not really a remix at all. "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" is a whole other song, with completely different lyrics from Pos and Dave and music by Xavier Hardgrove aka Spearhead X, who's credited with co-remixing the track along with The Beat Messiahs. Curiously, this is the Messiahs' only credit on Discogs. Hardgrove, however, you might also recognize as the producer of "Dinninit" off De La Soul's next album, Stakes Is High. There's also another connection to Stakes Is High here, as Posdnuos spits a line that would later appear on that album's intro ... I won't give it away, though, as his whole verse is utterly fantastic.

Speaking of incredible and incredibly overlooked Posdnuos lines from this single that would pop up elsewhere, later on the B side we get to "Lovely How I Let My Mind Float," which features Biz Markie and also does not appear on any other De La Soul albums (though it was on some versions of the Breakadawn single). Here, Posdnuos drops another ingenious couplet that might sound somewhat familiar: "Now, I'm a rap fan who never saw Bam rock the parks in the Bronx / But I still snap skulls in the dark." Can you remember where else you've heard that?

Here's a hint: it's not on a De La Soul song — in fact, it's not from a Pos verse at all...



...Give up?

Ras Kass delivers those lines verabatim as the hook of "Sonset," his response to the East Coast/West Coast beef, which appeared on his debut album, Soul On Ice, from 1996. For those keeping track, that's three years after this single was released, so there can be no doubt as to who came up with the bars. However, before we accuse Ras Kass of biting, we should consider the context. Again, "Sonset" is Ras Kass's response to the East vs. West bullshit that had engulfed hip-hop in 1996. Like many other rappers, Ras Kass took a critical view of the situation, basically at once representing the West while showing love for the East. Quoting De La Soul on the hook — and not just any De La Soul song but a semi-obscure, three-year-old b-side to "Ego Trippin' Part 2," itself a critical forerunner to the East/West beef, homage to the Ultramagnetic MCs' classic, and really a gushing love letter to the hip-hop medium — could have been Ras Kass's way of showing just how much of a "rap fan" he truly was at heart. As if to say, "If you get this reference and what it stands for, you really get where I'm coming from."

It took me 24 years to get it, but I see you, Ras Kass.

Returning focus to De La Soul, I find it somewhat odd that neither of these songs were included by the group on their Impossible Mssion TV Series Pt. 1 compilation. Maybe they were saving them for Part 2? Maybe they were deemed insufficiently obscure? Or maybe the masters were lost in the label's vaults? At any rate, "Ego Trippin' (Part 3)" did find its way onto De La Soul Rarities & Remixes, which is apparently a GZ Vinyl bootleg, as well as onto a fan-made mix by one El Rey, wishfully titled Impossible Mission pt. 2: The Search for AOI3. In the spirit of rap-nerdom, I'll leave you with that. (Also, props to Montreal's WEFUNK radio show archive, from which both of the above mp3s were ripped, and to Tony Toca of course.)

3/1/20

Lisaan'dro & Timepiece - "Much Better"

If I was the sentimental type, I might say something like "Here at Long Island Rap Records, we're all about bringing people together, no matter how far the distance between them." I'm not, at least not enough to write like that, but I must admit it was cool to get an email from Timepiece that read: "I am a producer from Perth, Western Australia and initially discovered Lisaan'Dro through your blog a while back. Last year I had the chance to work with him and the song has just dropped."

Even cooler, however, was hearing the product of a collaboration between two artists so far apart they're in different days more often than not. "Much Better" for real.

2/29/20

Chilo & Mane Event - No Such Paradise

Challenging a paradigm while arguably operating strictly within its confines might seem courageous or hypocritical, depending on where you stand, but for Chilo and Mane Event it's essentially hip-hop. Take a song like "Real Is," featuring John Jigg$, for example. Where Chilo and Mane Event offer definitions of reality as in/tangible truths, Jigg$ re-ups the ante with an assault on perceptions that dictate false narratives over real ends, e.g., "How you gon deal with a guerilla that rap / I done been to Brazil and back spitting ignorant raps."

The title cut then doubles down as Chilo kicks his verse off with one of the album's tightest couplets — "Wicked intentions abound here / Regardless of what transpired we out here" — then goes deeper, expounding on that opener with, "Spirits scream nightly while you dare to dream / Telling of the treachery that the land has seen." A global studies teacher by trade and Nuyorican poet by practice, Chilo has quotables for days, but concepts as provocative and layered as No Such Paradise's are not built on bars alone.

Mane Event's production m.o. — "slice dusty samples in the precisest angles" — succeeds in part because the beats too seem bent on challenging their own structure. Beat changes pop up not just between song parts but also mid-verse, and almost every song concludes with an outro that sounds like the beat devoured its own extremities only to regurgitate an even doper, albeit possibly unrappable, version of itself. In that sense, the album's production im/perfectly echoes one of its core themes, showing there's always more than meets the ears and eyes, minds' or otherwise. However or whether listeners divine divinity in that message, there's No Such Paradise. It's always something else.

 

2/25/20

Butch Cassidy's Funk Bunch - "On a DJ's Birthday"

"Mad rappers were coming up there, doing the same old
Sugar Hill Gang thing, but I came out with a cowboy hat
on, saying 'I'm the Outlaw of Funk.' Chuck introduced
me and said, 'We got Butch Cassidy here — I had never
called myself that before — and I ripped the microphone."
The electro-funk roots of Long Island hip-hop, particularly as pioneered in Roosevelt, are further exposed in "On a DJ's Birthday," the 1984 single released by Aaron Allen aka Butch Cassidy on TNT Records. The record also provides some of the earliest writing credits for Riddenhour (a misspelling of Ridenhour aka Chuck D, later of Public Enemy) and Eric Sadler (later of the Bomb Squad). Side note: could that be Chuck D playing Butch's pops around the 2:30 mark?

Speaking about "On a DJ's Birthday," Allen once said, "I think I was one of the first ones to have a rap single out on Long Island." According to my limited records at least, he's right, as the only other singles I've written about that go that far back are Spectrum City's Lies/Check Out the the Radio and LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat." (Key-Matic's "Breakin In Space," which, like "DJ's Birthday," was written by Charles Casseus could also be considered an LI rap single from 1984 especially in that it featured the Wizard K-Jee aka Keith Shocklee on the turntables.)

Though Allen was still part of the Spectrum City crew at this time and appeared on their aforementioned single, he contends "'DJ's Birthday' had nothing to do with Spectrum." Instead, he says, "Charles Casseus said he had this idea so I wrote some lines to it, got a deal with TNT Records and put it out. I don't know how I even got that deal." Regardless of how it happened, it did. Some 35 years later, yours truly found this record sitting still shrinkwrapped in the singles section at Massapequa Park's Infinity Records (now carrying LIRR01, cough-cough), and it's a personal rip of that copy streaming below.

Josh Alias - "Was It Worth It"


Urbvn Architect and LIRR favorite Josh Alias has a new EP called Duality out next week. Fittingly  "Was It Worth It," off said EP, showcases exactly that aspect, juxtaposing Josh's incisively chopping cadence with the rare sang hook and one of the best beats I've heard from West Hempstead's JustWoz. If the title "It" means "copping any and everything Alias drops," the answer is "decidely yes."

2/16/20

Smoov Bully - "GunnaWorld" / "Follow Your Heart"

"Gunna was a shooter but he blew himself away / Blew out his medulla, my life ain't been the same / My uncle is a user, hope he shoot his life away / The good don't die young... Gunna shoulda aged / My brother hella young yet he locked inside a cage / I like to buy beats cause I can vibe away my pain." Smoov Bully makes his pain yours, smoothly though.

Divine Wrath - "Agent Orange"

To fans of a certain age, naming a song "Agent Orange" is a bold move for reasons that need not be explained. Whether or not Floral Parker Divine Wrath even hears that challenge, the kid who wrote "The Ballad of Benzie Opus" is more than up to it (and actually addresses it kinda-sorta with these "In reality..." bars). If you're gassed off "Agent Orange," be sure to inhale 2019's Blessed Beretta and 2018's Year of the Dog as well.

Sugiwon - Falling

Soft-spoken but heavy on the low-end, introspective yet disembodied; where adjectives fail to describe, Falling sounds like the action itself.

Sugiwon gives Commack claim to melodic couplets like, "I'm spiraling without a parachute apartment / I am category 9, fucking catastrophic." (Shout-out the dollar bin at Cheapo.)

Falling dropped last year on all digital platforms. Impressively, though its 11 tracks were produced by no less than eight beatmakers, the project sounds remarkably cohesive across its runtime.