12/29/20

The 10 Most Viewed Long Island Rap Posts of 2020


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/27/20

J.Yard - No Pity for Winners

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

12/26/20

Crazy Harry - "No Narcan"

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

Urbvn Architects NYC - Mutual Understandings 2

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

Some More Gifts from Johnny Storm

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

Prince Paul - The Crazy Forgotten 80's

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

Grandmilly - Cookies For Santa (Hosted by Shozae)

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

12/20/20

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


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

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

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

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

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

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