12/31/21

Kai Fortyfive - Silky Joints, Vol. 2


Commercially, Long Island Rap Records' 2021 was all about Kai Fortyfive. It's fitting then that I cap the year with a post on his latest, Silky Joints, Vol. 2, the sequel to the EP that put me onto Kai's music to begin with. Truthfully one of the things that hit me hardest about SLUGSMOKE&MIRRORS when I first heard it was how different it was than Silky, that a rapper/producer who made that could also make this. I'm not saying I like one style more than the other {adlib: not at all}. Quite the opposite: I most appreciate that Kai does both so adeptly it breaks down boundaries in a way that recalls the Duke Ellington quote, "There are simply two kinds of music, good and bad." As for Vol. 2, it's every bit as sophisticated as the comma in its title. Play it for your lover as the ball drops. (And hit Kai on IG for CDs.)


12/30/21

Hus Kingpin - The Firm


In the The Last Dance, they say that Jordan was playing at such a level during the mid-90s it was as if he wasn't competing with his opponents, just with himself. Another way to look at it would be that he wasn't even playing in the same game as everyone else on the court, never mind the same league. I'd liken it to Sacha Baron Cohen's performance in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. He so embodies and elevates the character of Jean Girard, it's as if he's acting in an entirely different film. People get so hung up on stats and lists, they assume this kind of transcendence must be tied entirely to skill, but consider that it may very well be as much a product of self-image. Hus Kingpin's songs of late — the entire winning streak that was his 2021 output, really — sound like the musings of a poet writing from, of, in and for an entirely different form and paradigm than every other rapper. How ironic then that his latest (sixth, seventh, who can keep count at this point?) project released in 2021 is named for and conceptualized around a group of other rappers. I get it though. The Winners are a supergroup unto themselves. SmooVth and Sageinfinite's verses on "Affirmative Action" and Rozewood's on "Cayman Islands" leave no doubt about that. Buy [me] everything on wavo3000.com.



Fun fact: for who knows how long, everything on Hus's Bandcamp is name your price.

12/27/21

The Chopstars & Busta Rhymes - The Coming (ChopNotSlop Remix)

Over a million people bought each of Busta Rhymes' first two solo albums, yet they remain two of the most underappreciated rap records of all time. That's how dope Busta Rhymes is. Even two million sales can't begin to explain the brilliance, the inventiveness, the unprecedentedness. Chopstar DJ Surrup breaks it down nice and slow for those who still haven't caught on.

Charlés - Progress 4

No matter how mature one grows as a musician and songwriter, a rapper's rapper can always come back to just ripping instrumentals. If Charlés fka Charles DaBeast showcased his versatility on last month's Thoughts That Roam 2, this month he proves that development hasn't dulled his fundamentals a bit. Progress 4 finds Charlés returning to a mixtape series whose last installment came over seven years ago, and more than living up to the title's promise. It's not just progress; it's evolution.

12/26/21

Nomad Carlos - Element of Surprise

Nomad Carlos raps hit like Y2K-era Flash animations killed time in Junior year journalism class, sometimes crudely but always effectively. At their best, as in Element of Surprise, they murder details, provocatively telling stories from heretofore unseen angles, even when talking shit, e.g., "It's crazy how one line could truly speak volumes / While rappers' artwork stay better than they albums / Make good for a coaster for my fam to crush weed on / While blasting Undertaker's theme song."  Said high school journalism teacher Mr. Kravitz wrote and self-published a memoir. Nomad Carlos wrote, performed and self-published a proper LP, as in a vinyl record album (RIP Phil Schaap).

Often Spaced - Black Summer

South Shore boatfolks fly kleptocrat flags in polluted channels, sinking. The stench of low tide creeps like climate change, that is, until it's on you. Then, time is no longer factor, it's everything. A Tweet this morning called Don't Look Up a documentary. True story and perfect timing, like Black Summer dropping Friday, August 13. Often Spaced is only 16 – ABSURD. Long Island prevails.  
"I feel hopeless at the macro level," said evolutionary anthropologist Paul Hooper in an interview published this year by Nautilus (also in August, as it happens). "But still I feel like there's untapped creative potential in determining the nature of our own society. Everything in this model works because of social action, because one strategy imposes constraints on the whole rest of the society, and then the society changes. We see radical, enormous shifts in social norms and institutions through history. I know that we haven't explored all of the possibility space yet. If we could tap that potential, and we could make egalitarianism truly a self-perpetuating cultural unit that also preserves itself, then it'll stay around. It'll be a new kind of society. The math points to those possibilities, so I'm not entirely pessimistic. There's amazing untapped potential that comes down to face-to-face relationships that endure over time."

11/22/21

Bronze Nazareth & Roc Marciano - Ekphrasis

Bronze Nazareth is perhaps best known for his production work, and that makes sense; his credits behind the board include the lion's share of the seminal Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture compilation and full albums for Willie the Kid and Canibus among others, as well as "that one track" for seemingly every third underground rap act of note from the past two decades. The irony here is that the Bronzeman has also been spitting some of the deadliest darts to blowgun out of the Wu encampment since he linked up with Cilvaringz and RZA in the early '00s. His 2006 debut full-length, The Great Migration remains an unheralded masterpiece, and he was murdering mics even before that if you go back to 2003's "Sinuhe's Impasse" or his early days rapping alongside late brother Kevlaar 7 as a duo called Unknown. Point being: if you don't know him as a rapper, it'd behoove you to get familiar.

Roc Marciano's reputation as a mold-breaking rapper/producer is at this point concrete. However, to date, the beats he has done for others aren't nearly as well known as those he's kept for himself. And that's not to say he hasn't been spreading the love. On the contrary, even before lacing albums for Stove God Cooks and Flee Lord, Roc had already built a respectable body of production work, including projects for Muja Messiah and The Planets among others. Nonetheless, when someone refers to "the Roc joint" on so-and-so's album, nine times out of 10, they're talking about a song he rapped on, not one he produced. Indeed, nearly all of Bronze Nazareth's collaborations with Roc Marciano heretofore featured the latter rapping over the former, and there are several, including "Think Differently," "Capos (Bronzed)" and "Avalon" (the one exception I can find is "Seal of Approval" off Messiah's Saran Rap).

Ekphrasis makes sense for a number of reasons, not least of which is it provides means for two parallel, yet in many ways opposite, artistic tracks to unanticipatedly coalesce. But beyond the logistics of the collaboration, this album also works in a purely musical sense. In other words, even if you didn't know that Bronze also makes beats and that Roc also raps, the former's vocals and latter's music pair seamlessly here. One gets the sense that the two artists really and truly hear one another, allowing for each of them to bring out in the other something the rest of us might not otherwise get the chance to experience. Right from the jump, "Crazy Horse" sees Bronze Nazareth giving intimate details about his mindset following the death of his brother, how the fragility gave way to an opening of lyrical floodgates. The effect of this introspection renders the beat's minimal loop darkly psychedelic. By the time we get to "Kettle Black," Roc's returning the favor, finding in Bronze's Jesus Feet persona the slick-tongued twang of a Motor City hustler archetype. 

There are so many ways to interpret this album, and from the title you can tell that's part of the point, but one shouldn't mistake this as music made only for headphones and solitary nighttime drives. That room for interpretation also provides space for moving about, with fantastic acoustics and many points of entry.

10/11/21

Lungs/LoneSword - The Birth of LoneSword

There are eight million stories in the naked city, and The Birth Of LoneSword contains multitudes. Various characters pass in and out of frame. Loops explode. Societies collapse. Many-faced plugs facilitate all. Lungs/LoneSword has been on one throughout 2021, and it's all been leading up to this project, his first for Purple Tape Pedigree, which has also issued releases from fellow Tase Gripper AKAI SOLO and has more from the Wrong Island camp in the works.

10/3/21

Hardcore - Take It from the Top / A Different Groove / High Time (Maxi-Single)

Back in April, I shared what little info I could gather on a group called Hardcore, who released two singles on NuBeat Recores. In writing about the first, 1987's We Got It All / The Power of Rhyme, produced and mixed by Prince Paul, I mentioned that the second single also involved a Long Island legend. In this case, 1988's Take It from the Top / A Different Groove / High Time maxi-single was mixed by none other than Hank Shocklee of the Bomb Squad. As it happens, Shocklee's isn't the only recognizable name associated with this release, as the back cover lists the group's manager as Lumumba Carson, who would soon after become known as Professor X of the X-Clan. In fact, you can even hear Carson saying "vanglorious ...  protected by the red, the black and the green" on each track (and if I'm not mistaken, that's him standing in the back right on the cover). As for the music itself, all three tracks are in keeping with the whole "hardcore" hip-hop angle. The first, "Take It from the Top," was even included on Priority Records' Hard Rap compilation, a project that featured gangsta rap pioneers Ice-T and N.W.A. along with the likes of MC Hammer and Kid 'N Play. Beyond that, there's not much to say. Cooley High raps about rocking parties and taking down rival MCs, and Double B scratches on every chorus. It's dope.

10/2/21

L.A.D.S. - Four What?

L.A.D.S. is the quartet of Boston's Lu Chin Chen, Binghamton's Awful P, Brentwood's DaMarco and Lindenhurst's Stryke. Those whose LI rap scene credentials go back a bit might recall the latter from his involvement with another group, Mic Shine (with MC Artifakt and DJ Spyncere), or All Business Records or numerous other associations. You also might remember DaMarco as Spectah from his group with Stryke, Double S. Regardless, the four have dropped two EPs inside of about six months, following up their debut, The FourWarning, with their latest, Four What? That one's below. Weathered but not worn, bullhorned bars abound.

Manny YS Sanchez - Small Introduction of Manny YS Sanchez ... In Search of Hylyfe

Haven't seen the name "Clams Casino" in a minute, hadn't seen the name "Manny YS Sanchez" ever. I found his (year-old?) tape reposted to Soundcloud the other day, hit play, and was blown away before I even got to the Clams beats, which is to say somebody find that man and tell him about this man. How's this for a chorus? "I'm from the home of the drop-outs pregnant at 14 / Still living at your mom's house at 33 / Lost dreams, abortions and court hearings / Kids that don't think, dads that don't see 'em, trapped and never leaving." Small introduction?

9/28/21

88-Keys' The Death of Adam, the Long Island Hip-Hop Album Co-Produced by Kanye West

Where have I been all month? Listening to Donda of course. J/K, just "Lord I Need You" on repeat. Nah but really work, birthday, work, ring shopping, etc. That album is great, though, and that's thanks in part to West Hempstead's 88-Keys, whose production appears on six tracks, including standouts "Jail," "Heaven and Hell" and "New Again." Of course, to those who know, Kanye's chemistry with 88-Keys comes as no surprise; the man contributed to "Blood on the Leaves" and "No Church in the Wild." Less well known is that Kanye executive produced 88-Keys' only solo album, 2008's The Death of Adam. Fun fact: Ye also rapped on it, on the song "Stay Up! (Viagra)," in which, to the point of the title, he rhymes, "Try imagining something passionate / Between you, Cassie and Kim Kardashian / Maybe that'll work when you get to hit that ass again." Talk about prescient!

All jokes aside, this album has aged really damn well, musically, lyrically and conceptually. As for its ties to Long Island, on the one hand, it's any high school's toilet stall graffiti as a brilliant album; on the other, there's a clear through-line from 3 Feet High & Rising to the entire backpack era to this. The Death of Adam retains all the humor of the former while building on the record crates of the latter.

  

8/29/21

the NAIT SIRK - SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY

The dude responsible for one of the dopest beat changes on LongIslandRap.comp Volume 4, the NAIT SIRK has dropped his official debut EP. The self-recorded, -mixed and -mastered SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY is a punch bowl of introspective fun featuring production from Jesepi Kicks, rapsody3000, Waylay Creations, Flousen, SKYE, and Benzine. It's hot non-gender-specific summer music, through good times and bad. As for the rhymes, they're all physical, diaphragmatic, sometimes mushmouthed, yet somehow, someway (!?) cogent, bile-logical if you will. "One standout, "Lying to Myself" is damn near balladry. RUNITUP!

8/27/21

Remy Represent - "Tranquillo" (Lyric Video)

One of Long Island rap's most elusive artists might be set to become slightly less so ... emphasis on "might be" because such is the nature of elusiveness. 

Little has been heard from Remy Represent since he first appeared on this site back in 2015, but that doesn't mean he hasn't kept busy. "I’ve been working in silence for a long time since 'Death Prone' and many things have happened since," Remy says. "But I’m finally back and ready to drop a new EP called LOST ON WHERE TO START, coming with a whole new brand relaunch, with a new clothing brand called “RA1NCL0UD."

If you fully took in "Death Prone," then you already know Remy as a multidimensional talent whose focus extends past music to video, illustration and beyond. Case in point: the lyric video for "Tranquillo." Premiering below, the animation somehow manages to keep pace with Remy's rapid-punch-combinations juxtaposing Japanese otaku and New York hip-hop, at least until he drops the word "trylophobic" to describe the aim of a retired cop, at which point the video basically says, "look it up yourself," and you do because it's that goddamn dope.


In conjunction with the above video and announcement, Remy Represent is also launching his new website, RemyRep.com, which will give you some additional insight into who this artist is and what he's been up to these past few years ... emphasis on "some" because there's more in the works. Look out for LOST ON WHERE TO START coming soon along with an interview furnished by none other than Long Island Rap Records.

8/24/21

Bellmore: The Unscene

Long Island Rap Records artist and longtime musician-friend Andy Koufax hipped me to this documentary about Bellmore punk bands from the '90s and '00s. It's bugged out. We used to frequent Ground Zero but were in separate orbits from the film's central characters as we went to all-ages shows, and they were 30-year-old dustheads. Highlights include the Agnostic Front and Kill Your Idols drummers talking shit.

The film appealed to me primarily because I haven't set foot in this venue since it closed, but think about it every so often. Note: the "final show" depicted here was actually not the venue's last. As director Frank Fusco mentions on his website, there was an all-ages show the following week, which, if memory serves, was headlined by sludgecore act Blood, Lots of Blood. Somebody threw something through the front window. Anyway, Fusco's site is also worth checking out as it's filled with information about Long Island-based musicians, some of whom have achieved some degree of recognition beyond the Island, some of whom have not. See Spooner Central for a '60s/'70s version of this. Hopefully you will find photos/video of an older relative that you can hang over their heads.

8/14/21

Uncommon Nasa - Only Child

"The grass here is super tall and there are frogs everywhere. They are very big and loud. Up close they go RIBBIT. When you put them in the can you can feel the can ribbit. I do not touch the fence because it is sharp and mom said no. Tomorrow we will take a trip to the city. There is less grass but the buildings are even bigger than the grass. You have to cross the water to go. There is a bridge we will go over to go to the city. It is very long like a long hallway but with other cars on the sides and deep water underneath. Mom said it is safe. Sometimes I get scared and run away but the car goes fast so we will be OK."

Only Child is about baby, toddler, child, and adolescent Nasas and their continuing lives inside the mind of adult Nasa. It's insular as fuck. If Written at Night was about collective consciousness, Only Child is about getting comfortable with yourself. Hard stop. For some listeners, it may be awkward hearing a grown man rap about getting to know himself. There are songs on here with subject matter that begs the question, why would you write a whole song about that? I was an only child for about eight years, so I am pretty good at occupying myself (see this entire website). It might help to think of Only Child as a very particular kind of take on a coming of age story. Baby, toddler and young child Nasa lived in Patchogue, and I take it there were many frogs there at the time, or at least enough that they populate adult Nasa's baby Nasa's perception of what Patchogue is. 

I went to Patchogue once for a book signing where they went up to the attendees and had them write on post-it notes what they wanted the author to write in their copy of the book. I wrote "Write whatever you want to write." The author did not take kindly to this, wrote "You've got a lot of nerve pal" above his signature, and then made it a point to tell me, "That was not what I wanted to write," which I took to mean he wanted to write "Go fuck yourself," because, I guess, asking a writer to write is akin to asking a comedian to tell a joke. To be fair, he was a comedian, but wouldn't it be more presumptuous to ask a writer to write something specific? What's up with book signings anyway? 

Nasa used to proclaim his music progressive hip-hop, but not so much anymore. ("I actually think I'm at peace now," he raps on "Vincent Crane.") Progressive-folk hip-hop would be a good way to describe Messiah Musik's beats on here and maybe in general; they're at the vanguard but humbly, even primitively so, shattering conventions without a multi-track maze to decipher, complex but not overly complicated. That also may be a decent way to describe Nasa's lyrics on Only Child. Endearing or offputting isn't the point; they're quirky. The universe is quarky. They make a good pair. 

8/9/21

The Biz Never Sleeps

As you've surely heard by now, the Diabolical One, the Inhuman Orchestra, the Clown Price of Rap, Biz Markie passed away last month at the age of 57. Listen to Biz's peers reflect on their time with him and you can't help but get a sense of the joyfulness, orginality, genuineness and larger-than-life personality for which he was so well known. One of the greatest and most compelling performers in hip-hop's history, he didn't play a character — he was a character. His routines were the stuff of house party legend and world stage phenomena. His music was fun, funky, wild, loud, noisy, hilarious and heartfelt — it could be sweet or sinister or both simultaneously. Listening to Biz's raps in 2021, thinking about his playfully crude vocal interpolations of songs from just about every other genre under the sun, one can't help but see him as a kind of walking embodiment of hip-hop itself, as if his brain formed thoughts from experience the way DJs pulled beats from breaks. In this sense, "Make the Music with Your Mouth, Biz" was just as much a statement of purpose as it was a song about beat-boxing, rapping and singing, all of which he did masterfully in his own way. 

I say "walking embodiment" because my mind keeps returning to "Kung Fu" off Biz's third full-length album, the underrated I Need a Haircut (1991). In the song's third verse, he raps about journeying across Long Island to meet up with Midnight Express, a local crew that put him on as a youngster: "I was a walking son of a gun before the day I begun / I'ma tell you how it started from day one / Well me I lived in Patchogue, they lived in CI / I was ambitious and devoted til the day I die / I used to get off at Islip, take the S42 / Get off at Banana Street, go to the house of the crew / I would walk from CI to Bay Shore / Just to see if I really had the rhymes galore / I'd go to house parties here, go to house parties there / Walk to Wyandanch Day with my pants off my derriere / Like if I was David Carradine who played Kung Fu / Who would walk to China from Japan without his shoe / Humming beats, saying rhymes kept me going / From giving up or being crazy or just stop flowing / My teachers and parents said I should just stop / Just go to the Army, go to college, get a job with your pops / I can't take no more of this rendevous / And that's why I sing this song to you."

It may be one of the most Long Island rhymes ever committed to wax and not because he name drops no fewer than four local communities in his lyrics, but because he captures a kind of island-of-one/crew-as-lifeboat mentality that permeates every town, village and hamlet here. May that defiant spirit of self-determination be as much a part of Biz Markie's legacy as any of his funniest faces and biggest commercial successes. May he rest in peace.

8/1/21

KMD-MF DOOM Way Street Dedication Ceremony

Yesterday, July 31, 2021, the KMD-MF DOOM Way Street Dedication Ceremony was held at the corner of Hudson Street and Riverside Boulevard in Long Beach, NY. 

Below are some phone-video recordings from the event, including heartfelt remarks and recollections from KMD member Onyx the Birthstone Kid, DOOM and Subroc's sister, Thenjiwe Dumile, and their cousin, Working Families Party National Director Maurice Moe Mitchell. 

This was a truly beautiful ceremony thanks to the KMD-MF Doom Way Committee, its leader, Dr. Patrick Graham, the Get Yours Posse, the City of Long Beach, NY, all the speakers (not featured below: DOOM and Subroc's aunt, members of the committee, and several public officials including NY State Senator Todd Kaminsky), and everyone in attendance.

7/5/21

Blaq Kush - Ghosts of Jazz Musicians

On record, Blaq Kush spits raps of/for cyphers; that is, rhymes that are both inherently inspired by those who came prior and purposefully unlike any others. Bars pulled from a collective space tend to flip out of thin air. 

If DOOM and Sean Price are the two late, great MCs who most readily embody that tradition, Blaq Kush and his Urbvn Architects cohorts (Josh Alias and Yung K) are three living upcomers most eagerly pushing it forward. 

Ghosts of Jazz Musicians makes that case as well as if not better than anything they’ve released to date, be it individually or as a group. (Which is not to say it’s their best album; that’s a different, arguably pointless discussion.) Voices of hip-hop immemorial flow among beats and choruses. Verses build on one another then mutate like ethereal mists.

“Blaq Kush News” closes with a standalone eight that updates the Rambo franchise’s premise for post-2020/21 headlines. The beats for this and four more of the project’s eight songs are provided by kckflip, whose loops are like chalky outlines – stretched just beyond corporeal, their significance unmistakable whether or not their sources identifiable. As such, they so lend themselves to the EP’s themes they could’ve inspired its title.
 
Another standout, “Suit Case // War Machine” (prod. by Lim0) has Blaq Kush rapping “Cultivate cilantro, journal written off fronto / I’m gone though, the dime rolled hitting like Joe DiMaggio / Signs show your mind’s slow, vacation no Cabo / Imagining with your eyes closed, place where I find flows.” If nothing else, this is what I’m talking about. Stream/download Ghosts of Jazz Musicians below and hit Blaq Kush’s Linktree for all types of ill shit.

6/24/21

EPMD Freestyle on WBLS Circa 1989

If you enjoyed the Def Squad Freestyles compilation posted here in 2019, or the EPMD remixes compilation posted here in 2014, this freestyle is going to really get you going. If you're unfamiliar with those, dig in because Erick and Parish are pillars of this whole structure. Here, they perform "Get the Bozack" off Unfinished Business, but with a completely different beat that sounds like something Marley Marl or DJ Scratch could've been cooking up right there on air. Trying to find the full episode from which this was taken, I stumbled on an August 1989 recording, which also featured DMC, but I don't think that's it. At any rate, you now have three links in addition to freestyle I came here to post, so I'm going to go watch Star Trek.

Billypalmtrees - S.W.A.A.M.P.

Earlier today I was saying one of the best pleasures in life is having a dream so funny you wake up hysterically laughing. That happened to me this morning. It's super-rare, which makes it all the more appreciable, like a Billypalmtrees release. Last heard from with 2018's Delorean, Billy's back with S.W.A.A.M.P. — i.e., Society Won't Always Accept My Personality — a sentiment I feel often and six songs to bring it out in any of us. In case you were wondering, in the dream the Hardy Boyz had returned to win the WWF tagteam championship, but they were dead. Jeff Hardy was just a tombstone with an arm reaching up from the grave; Matt wasn't present. I haven't watched wrestling in years.

Chilo - "Unleash the Beast"

 

Anything I write here will only get in the way of the 100 bar onslaught Chilo must be referring to in the title. Get devoured by it.

6/12/21

Kai Fortyfive Live in Brooklyn Friday, July 9

Kai Fortyfive, the rapper/producer behind Long Island Rap Records' latest release, performs live at The Living Gallery in Brooklyn (1094 Broadway) Friday, July 9. Also in the house will be Kai's Lowcaste LXRD$ ensemble. Tickets are $8 in advance via Eventbrite or $12 at the door. Merch will be sold at the show, including the newly released SLUGSMOKE & MIRRORS cassettes. Speaking of which, these arrived from the plant looking and sounding lovely. Check them out and order yours via the Long Island Rap Records Store or Long Island Rap Bandcamp.



6/5/21

Cassandra the Goddess MC - "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" / "Flows"

Even NYC by way of Detroit by way of Hempstead is, for this site's purposes, Long Island hip-hop, especially when you black out right from the jump like Cassandra the Goddess MC does with the first verse on her new album, Cobra

The video for "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" and "Flows" offers a solid example of the D-Block affiliated songstress's double-entendre Cassandra style, i.e., bars of death/depth. Speaking of the latter, check this Linktree!

FlareScouts - P.O.O.R. Tapes VOL. 1

It's been five years (!) since I've seen the name FlareScouts pop up on my radar. How it did that again, I'll save for another post, but the important thing is that it got me Googling, which put their November 2020 release P.O.O.R. Tapes VOL. 1 in my sights and then ears. Whether or not you've caught their previous work, the first notes of P.O.O.R. Tapes opener "We Seen" lets on you're in for some different shit. Alternative-alternative hip-hop, like that subgenre but better dressed, the tape (un)incorporates a little of this and a little of that, as FlareScouts do, like Lakeview being in both West Hempstead and Rockville Centre but also its own place.

5/31/21

Brothers of the Mind - 1992-1996

There are a ton of '90s rap acts that released killer singles but never dropped an album. NYC duo Brothers of the Mind just might be the quintessential '90s rap act that never dropped an album. Consider their names. Brothers of the Mind consisted of DJ Krazy Kraz and MC Lyrical Freestyle. I rest my case. 

That being said, their music, while very much of its era, also holds up exceedingly well today and not only because '90s rap has come back into vogue. Krazy Kraz and Lyrical Freestyle were clearly skilled in their craft, which would explain why, according to Kraz, in April 1992, renowned DJ, engineer and producer Pal Joey judged them best out of 85 acts he auditioned for a deal. 

The group released two singles, both produced by Pal Joey and recorded in his Astoria studio, The Temple. However, apparently they did a lot more songs with Joey than that, as, in 2010, his Foot Stompin Records issued a compilation of 15 Brothers of Mind tracks Pal Joey produced between 1992 and 1996. In addition to showcasing the unsung talents of both Krazy Kraz and Lyrical Freestyle, the project demonstrates that Pal Joey clearly knew his way around a rap tune. It's likely Kraz also had a hand in the production, as he worked as an assistant engineer and co-producer with Joey during the time these songs were recorded (you can also hear Kraz scratching on a bunch of instrumental 12 inches Joey dropped in this period). Regardless of who did what on which beat, it seems the project was very much Pal Joey's baby since he still put it out 14 years after the fact. Eleven years since then, it's my pleasure to share it here with you.

5/19/21

A Mentally Ill Crack in Time


Five months have passed since we got the news that DOOM was gone, and it still doesn't sit well. I've signed the petition to have his old block renamed KMD-MF DOOM Way (or maybe just Dumile Way if Long Beach City Council hasn't the stomach for that?), and I'm digging the photos KMD member Onyx the Birthstone Kid has been posting to Instagram, but somehow none of this feels right, as if the whole story hasn't been told yet. I don't mean the story of his death — his family has every right to keep that private — but rather that of his life and its work and impact. I will say, though, that Conor Herbert's Shades of Tomorrow series for Central Sauce, which I've only now just seen, does a wonderful job illuminating the beginnings of all that by connecting various threads. 

One mystery in particular, which I'd all but completely forgotten, revolves around the fate of the fabled third KMD album. At one point, DOOM talked about a KMD album called Mental Illness or Mentally Ill, which would've dealt with the dark period in his life following the death of Subroc. Later on he teased the release of an album called Crack In Time. Was either ever completed? Were they one and the same? Maybe someday these mysteries will be solved. Maybe it's better they're not. Make of all this what you will. At any rate, here are three loose joints credited to KMD, none of which appear on Mr. Hood or Black Bastards, each as brilliant as the last.

5/18/21

OSP - "Blabb" / "Magic"

Rebraaaaaaand! {Shouted over backspinning record ala Jamaican selector holding the last syllable in "Rewind!"} 

The artist f.k.a. Hazestacks is now k.a. OSP a.k.a. King Pickle and doing some altogether different shit, namely manic-tempoed drum and bass, faerie flittering across aetherial samplescapes like the collective fever dream of every COVID long-hauler alive yearning for a summer of love.

And creepy clowns too.

Big Breakfast - "Hitachi Nail Gun"

"Whole neighborhood locked down, they let it rock now / When I moved to Philly it was looking like Moscow / 2020 took DOOM and took Pop out / '21 Glee Club taking your whole block out." Brecky's in a new city with a new crew and some banging new music to show for it. Coincidentally I just rewatched the Wire episode where Snoop buys the powder actuated nail gun. "Man said if you want to shoot nails, this here's the Cadillac, man. He meant Lexus but he ain't know it." But I digress. If you missed Glee Club Volume 1, head over to the Hardware Barn and get schooled.

5/11/21

A Selected Discography of Asia "Sepka Nitah" Jackson


The names Sepka Nitah, Asia J and Asia Jackson may be familiar to longtime fans of Hus and SmooVth aka Tha Connection, as she rapped and sang on numerous songs with them and then-frequent collaborator Marvelous Mag. A member of the Winners crew before they had the name picked out, she more than held her own with her arresting voice, deep-cutting lyrics and free-verse-informed delivery. As a testament to that, Asia raps on three songs on Tha Connection and Roc Marciano's 2012 album, Strive. When it comes to that album, those who know, know. The fact that she appeared on about as many cuts on that album as Roc did (more if you consider that two of his apperances were on remixes to the title cut) speaks volumes about the kind of talent we're dealing with here, not to mention Hus and SmooVth's by-now-well-established knack for identifying and highlighting such talent. 

Although Asia did score solo tracks on a number of Digi Crates releases, unfortunately, it doesn't look like she ever released a full album. Nevertheless, her discography remains pretty well stacked, especially when one considers that the majority of these songs came out within the same four- or five-year stretch. To help document that output, I've put together the following playlist, which includes just about every song I could find from Sepka Nitah on YouTube. (The few omissions that come to mind are remixes and maybe one or two tracks on which she just sings the hook.) Shouts to SmooVth for confirming that Sepka is from Long Island. Enjoy!

5/6/21

Kai Fortyfive - SLUGSMOKE & MIRRORS (LIRR03) Deluxe Edition Cassettes Now Available for Pre-Order


There are few poetic flourishes among SLUGSMOKE & MIRRORS’ breathing details of New York street life, no glitz, glamor, glory, or even grit, just survival or death. In a place where yesterday’s foreign car could be tomorrow’s only home, futures are built on regrets or not at all. With this in mind, Kai Fortyfive speaks plainly and bares souls.

SLUGSMOKE is really just a compilation of stories/memories from not only my life but the lives of my friends,” says the rapper/producer from Elmont, New York. “It was type hard to write this album because mentally I had to go back to a lot of shit I’ve been through. It’s tough to recollect on pain and trauma, but I feel like in order to deliver the album the way I needed to, I had to go back and relive those stories. All in all, this is definitely my most important work I’ve ever done and I’m glad people are in tuned for real.”

Call these criminology bars or worse, reality raps, and severely miss the point. There’s little space here for distinguishing between shadows and ghosts, let alone musical classifications. The rhymes are dope, the beats are hard, and Kai Fortyfive does them all. The only guests are family, Lowcaste LXRD$. The only style the painful truth flickering through fogs of war.

SLUGSMOKE & MIRRORS is Kai Fortyfive’s fourth release and first on cassette. This deluxe edition, limited to just 25 copies, includes the album instrumentals on the-b-side. Tapes are expected to ship in late June 2021. Preview the album below and pre-order now via the LIRR Store (no fees, $ goes direct to LIRR and Kai) or Bandcamp (cards accepted).

4/24/21

NugLife - "Milly Joint" ft. Grandmilly

There's an indefinable yet undeniable quality about Grandmilly's music such that when LA producer NugLife brought together a dank roster of rhymers (including Planet Asia, Rome Streetz and Chuwee among others) for an album aptly titled The Beat Dispensary 2, Milly's joint was simply called ... "Milly Joint." 

My man said, "When the water supply get low and aint no money to blow / And the constables won't respond to any crime outside your door / Controlling stock prices, covering up UFOs / The same ones genetically modifying food that I stole." 

What more can one say?

Midnite Society - "Familiar Stranger"/"Midnite Crypto"

From crypt to crypto, Midnite Society have two new(ish) videos shot by the Diggers — "Familiar Stranger" featuring Dunny Cold Facts and Petey Max and "Midnite Crypto" on which those two are joined by Y2the3rd — both produced by the maestro Shozae.