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.



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."


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.


Roc Marciano: The Flipmode Era

Busta Rhymes & Roc Marciano in Hollywood, circa 1999.
As a Roc Marciano fan who's long aware of his roots in the Flipmode Squad, I've always wondered why the MC seemingly appeared on so few songs with Busta Rhymes, let alone the rest of the crew. Of course, most everyone who's a fan has already heard "The Heist" (also featuring Raekwon and Ghostface Killah) off Busta Rhymes' Anarchy album and "Let's Make a Toast" (featuring Roc, Busta, Chip Banks and Raekwon) off Easy Mo Bee's Now or Never: Odyssey 2000. Thanks to House Shoes, we've now also heard the version of "Modern Day Gangstas" where Roc raps alongside Biggie, Busta and Labba on a Dilla beat. But none of those are technically Flipmode Squad songs, and of course, Roc Marciano isn't on any songs from the crew's only studio album, The Imperial. However, that doesn't mean Marc never appeared alongside the rest of the squad.

In fact, much of Flipmode's output from the late '90s and early '00s is preserved on mixtapes of that era, as well as the crew's guest spots on other artists' albums. Searching Google and YouTube for such Flipmode Squad apperances yielded several songs I'd never heard. Not including "Modern Day Gangstas," I now have a YouTube playlist of 10 tracks featuring Flipmode-era Roc Marciano. Some standouts are the ferocious "Set It On Fire" from Tony Touch's first Piecemaker album (2000) and the "Talk Too Much" freestyle, a Petey Pablo diss that appeared on a P-Cutta mixtape in 2001 (probably on a Kay Slay tape as well, though I'm not sure which one). Perhaps most unexpected is "What It Is (Part II)" off  the Dr. Dolittle 2 soundtrack (yes, Roc Marciano is on the Dr. Dolittle 2 soundtrack). The earliest cut, though, is "Whatcha Come Around Here For" from Violator the Album (1999). I'm betting there are many more, so I'll try to continue adding on to this list in the future. For now, enjoy Flipmode-Era Roc Marciano.


Andy Koufax - I'm From A Little Place (LIRR01) Streaming Now on Bandcamp, Limited-Edition Cassettes Available in the LIRR Store

A guy gets off one train just to get on another. A summer is lost like sunken treasure. The phone is left at home, dropping the opportunity of one lifetime just to get on another. Under the right conditions, growth can be achieved literally overnight, said a plant. The pig didn’t sit well, said a lion, mane dripping sick. Three drunks at the Rockville Centre stop argue over whether Townes Van Zandt was a bluesman. Three kids emerge from Twin Lake Preserve smelling like cigarettes and cologne. A cover band singer hears all of his dreams die violently in somebody else’s mythology. A seven-year-old finds God on the Jones Beach boardwalk … with a Walkman on … playing “Waterfalls.” A 30-something puts out a cassette tape and lives forever.

I’m From A Little Place is the debut album by rapper/producer/singer/songwriter Andy Koufax and first release on Long Island Rap Records. Andy wrote, performed and recorded every note and lyric of this autobiographical psychogeography. The titular place — Wantagh, NY, a hamlet best known as the “Gateway to Jones Beach” and briefly the home of best-selling author Amy Fisher — is indeed little. However, the ideas on this album are anything but.

As for those notes, they’re visceral, sprawling, fever pitched. Andy describes I’m From A Little Place as “all my strife, love, pain, joy, and madness exploded out a maze of croons, raps, guitars, samples, synths, drums and magical flout.” To mix and master the project, he recruited maestro Willie Green, whose techno-wizardry helps keep this labyrinth’s multigenre minotaur from devouring all those brave enough to enter. Multigenre who now? Let’s say alternative hip-hop with a touch of grunge and the occasional neo-soul wail, but also, inextricably, Long Island Rap.

Andy Koufax’s I’m From A Little Place is available now for just $14 on limited-edition blue and orange cassette tape with download code, hand-numbered liner notes and autographed baseball card. Downloads are also available ($14 on Bandcamp, $10 direct) and come with complete lyrics sheet. Order now in the LIRR store.

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