Kai Fortyfive Live in Brooklyn Friday, July 9

Kai Fortyfive, the rapper/producer behind Long Island Rap Records' latest release, performs live in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn (988 Decatur Street) 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.


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.


Brothers of the Mind - 1992-1996

There are a ton of '90s rap acts that released killers 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.


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.


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.


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!


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).


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.


Akari - danse

Scrolling through Akari's Twitter looking for an image to include in this post, I found a Tweet where he said, "i'll never not be ecstatic about the abundance of amazing music out in the world," and I just want to say in response, fuck yes, and also that his new project, danse, is giving me the same exact feel. An "ode to the dansefloor and the grooves that it provides," danse is the deep house set the whole world needs right now and always. (By the way, the image comes from Akari's set for whoswyLee's sleeopver so check that out too.)

Hus Kingpin - The Threesome Pt. 2: The Art of Sex

Despite the title, The Threesome Pt. 2: The Art of Sex is a prequel in that if The Threesome EP was about having threesomes, Part 2 is more about being so sexy that opportunities to have threesomes present themselves in the first place. To that end, the beats set the mood. A standout, "Date Night" incorporates a film sample into both the beat and the vocals in ways I'm not sure I've ever heard before, which is to say it's as if Hus is fucking with the beat (produced by Chin Beats), the sample and the listener all at once, paying equal attention to each as one does. A foursome then?

Vinyls and hoodies are available via Wavo3000.com.  


Hardcore - We Got It All / The Power of Rhyme

Who is Hardcore? Aside from the rap act with maybe the least googleable name ever, it's hard to say, as Hardcore apparently only released two singles, neither of which lists any writing credits. The closest you'll find to one of those is on the second single (to be covered further in another post), which cites Chris Nicholson and Brian Birthwright as its producers. Brian Birthwright, aka Double B, would later become a member of Resident Alien and is referred to here in the song, "We Got It All," as the DJ. Listen close and you will also catch the name of the group's MC, Cooley High. Whether or not Cooley is Chris Nicholson is unclear. Unfortunately, the name Cooley High is not on the label of either single, and there does not appear to be any other information about him readily available. At any rate, Cooley is almost undoubtedly from around the way as he shouts out "the ville," and both of the singles involved Long Island legends. Case in point: We Got It All / The Power of Rhyme was produced and mixed by none other than Prince Paul.

Notably, this single, released in 1987 on Priority imprint NuBeat Records, actually pre-dates Plug-Tunin', making it possibly Prince Paul's first production credit apart from his work with Stetsasonic. As for the sound of that production, it's certainly more closely identifiable with Paul's work from Stet — heavy basslines, loud snares and a kind of electro feel to it — than with De La. (In fact, at the end of the single Cooley shouts out Stet along with Paul. He also name-drops Rakim for that matter.) The B-Side, "Power of the Rhyme" is similarly straightforward and true to the name Hardcore. Nevertheless, both songs bang in their own right and showcase Prince Paul as a young producer who was more than capable of making a dope record or two. As for Cooley, he sounds here no less capable as a rapper, which only adds further mystery to the question at the start of this post. 

Who is Hardcore? Tough call. But in 1987, at least according to this single, they had it all.


John Jigg$ x BP - "Slang Original"

Filmed at 7th Headquarters with private dances by mood light over bumper pool, "Slang Original" is the latest video off John Jigg$ and BP's new album, The Madness. If any of those elements appeal, stream or download this. If all of them do, politely insist on a physical release as well!


DJ Surrup - Trappin Out Tha Bandwidth VI

Like Alchemist telling Wapo he'd been living under a rock not knowing about Armand Hammer, I couldn't name one of the artists on this choptape, slowed or not. To be fair, we've all been living under our own rocks for the past 12 months, masked up, time stretched, trapped, hearing only what's on our bandwidth, what the algorithm allows.

How long has it been like this? Has it always?

Oh wait, I think that's A$AP Ferg. Yeah, that's him. How's it going!?

{Slowed down lady laugh}

Public Enemy + LL Cool J - Rebel Mama Said Knock You Out Without a Pause (Stretch Armstrong Blend)

Marley Marl deserves mention in this post's title as much as, if not more so than, LL Cool J, but when you hear that four-note vocal sample odds are your brain jumps to James in a boxing ring not Marlon in a recording studio. So it goes. This blend was mixed live on a January or February 1991 broadcast of the world-famous Stretch & Bobbito Show. After this, Stretch transitioned seamlessly into the full song, "Mama Said Knock You Out," but the blend is what grabs my attention, as it 1) is dope, 2) brings together two of the headliners of the 87 Def Jam Tour, and 3) in a roundabout kind of way, reconciles Rap Attack's infamous on-air diss of "Public Enemy No. 1" by placing Chuck and Flav's voices on beat over a Marley Marl loop. Talk about the magic of radio!

As it happens, in addition to the PE-LL dream team, this broadcast also featured songs from several other Long Island rappers, including EPMD ("I'm Mad"), Bolaji ("Massive Material"), and L.O.N.S. ("Where Do We Go From Here?"), and although I can't say for certain, we may even hear a young Zev Love X shouting out the latter group during Kurious's mic break around the 18:20 mark.


Dzoe - "Patience Freestyle" + Slowed Version

Missing the days when walking through Midtown meant making sure to not take the CD that was being handed to you as that was considered grounds for beginning a transaction.... 

Thinking I might need to adopt that same sales tactic as soon as this plague is over...

Meanwhile, if Times Square lights made music, it might sound something like this... 

Orrrrrr thhhiiisss....

Dzoe with the glow up...

That's a thing the kids are saying, right?


EPMD & Erick Sermon Instrumentals

Last month, Montreal-based writer/producer Son Raw tweeted, "Erick Sermon's 94-96 production run >>>," then brought attention specifically to his bass lines, which got me thinking, Erick Sermon's production run from 1988 onward is really underappreciated in general, which later got me thinking, I ought to make a compilation of EPMD/Erick Sermon instrumentals. 

"And I could hear, 'sorry son, good idea, but you're a little too late.'" 

Of course Erick Sermon knows how dope he is behind the boards: the man's in a class all his own! It should come as no surprise then that a compilation of 16 EPMD beats is already available on the Hit Squad Bandcamp, and another compilation of 14 Funk Lord Instrumentals is on Sermon's. Side note, while reflecting on the obvious: this site is severely lacking in EPMD, Erick Sermon and Parish Smith posts and that should change in 2021.


Pal Joey's Mid-'90s Hip-Hop Mixes

Joseph "Pal Joey" Longo's name rings loudest in halls of house, but the Central Islip raised, SUNY Farmingdale educated DJ has never been shy about his hip-hop roots. After coming up making pause tapes, he was present for the recording of many a classic as second engineer at Power Play Studios, went on to produce for the likes of Boogie Down Productions and even claims to have done demos with a young Nas. Below, four hip-hop mixes from 1993, '94, '95 and '96, all taken from Pal Joey's Mixcloud page. If you're unfamiliar, definitely check that out along with his online "diary."


Lyrica - Notes to Self

One year ago yesterday, Broadway shut down. Four days later, New York schools shut down, as did all restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and casinos in the tri-state area. 

You'd have to be excused for missing any album that dropped at this time, even one as notable as what Lyrica dropped March 12, 2020. As it turns out, Notes to Self was not just appropriately but presciently titled, as every repsonsible adult would spend plenty of time with themselves over the next year. I wish I'd have known to recommend this album at that time, even if only to myself.

So it goes, a year late and a salary short. 

"Who is Lyrica?" All I have is her notes. Still, I'm happy I'm hearing them now and hoping you are too, whoever you are.

...Even if only myself.

DJ Muggs x Rome Streetz - Death & The Magician

Imagine Muggs' record stacks, like bookshelves in grandpa's house — plain sight occultism, totally nonchalant, no attempt at hiding anything, the rhetorical "what of it" toned accordingly. Rome Streetz gives dramatic readings from and of the texts, true to atavistic form like a third-generation Soul Assassin assassinating the souls of grandchildren. This film is based on a true story.



Sugiwon - "Syzzle"

Even when he brings Disney+ level production value and commercial appeal, Sugiwon still manages to slip in something for the astigmatic set (see: "Circle small as ever, I did this on Cedar Road / Everything I say is gold, I'm C-3PO"). This is why I do this.

AZOMALI - "Tofu With Brown Rice" Live! + Freestyle

AZOMALI burns down UGHH Blog's Mic Session then kicks a freestyle that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt he's one of the dopest poets alive. (This appears to be from an appearance on the LA Natives Podcast, whom he has also given a very insightful interview.) If you haven't been following him on Instagram, you're missing out on so many brilliant off-the-head sessions like this one. 


Rian Wyld - She Is Me

There could actually be a summer, like a real one. I'm going to have to finish writing this book, start editing it, get these screenplays going, buy a ring, line up LIRR03, unload the rest of these LIRR01 tapes, spend more time with family and friends, get a raise, and listening to She Is Me by Rian Wyld makes me feel I can definitely do all that and more this year. 

She Is Me is the latest release on Hofstra University's student-run label, Unispan. The album came into this world at the same time Wyld did something more trying than all the stuff mentioned above: brought another person into this world. Check out three videos from the project below and stream it in full here.


Get 2 Know Deaf 2 U

Deaf 2 U aka Deaf 2 U Productions/Inc. was the production duo of Lucious "Luck" Mercer and Neal "Purp" Forrester, who first met at Amityville Junior High School. The group produced three songs for Gee Street singer Ambersunshower (previously a member of the duo Groove Garden) and another three for De La Soul, culminating with masterpiece "Trying People," the final track on AOI: Bionix. Shortly thereafter, they reemerged producing and rapping under the new name, Mood Doctors, with their debut album General Medicine released independently on a label called Deaf 2 U. (Mood Doctors have since released no fewer than seven albums, but that's for another post or seven.) 

Mercer and Forrester did also rap under the name Deaf 2 U on at least one song, "Caution," which appeared on Tags Of The Times Version 2.0, a compilation put out by Japanese label Mary Joy Recordings in 1999. An interesting artifact of its times, this compilation series featured tracks from some of the most popular underground hip-hop acts of the late '90s and early '00s, including Company Flow, MF DOOM, Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock and Aceylaone to name just a few. Nevertheless, Deaf 2 U's appearance stands out and not just because it's the only song they released under the name. It's also noteworthy to hear two artists who came up under De La Soul (if you haven't figured it out already Luck is Posdnuos's brother) rapping on a song produced by Da Beatminerz's Mr. Walt in a kind of alternative hip-hop setting. In that sense, "Caution" foreshadows the turn De La themselves would take on their AOI albums.

Below you can hear "Caution" followed by Deaf 2 U's first credit, Ambersunshower's "Blue Skies Butterflies" (1995), and De La Soul's "Oooh," "Foolin'" and "Trying People." (For the other two Ambersunshower tracks Deaf 2 U did, you'll have to dig up her Walter T. maxi-single.)


Lungs - Osprey Tape

Repping NYC's Tase Grip by way of our Wrong Island, Lungs aka Lone Sword spits on this, his Osprey Tape, like a rap fiend scripting bars far beyond a regular user's fatal dose o'er beats like flakes picked from carpet, gathered together and sculpted into one glorious hit. A 26th birthday present to self, it's his longest and most complete project to date, which also makes Osprey a fittting, though long overdue, debut for Lungs on this here site. Stream continuous

Break Plissken - Not an End in Itself

Another timely blend from the Break man's Minneapolis sessions.


Dunbar - "Why You Do That" (prod. by Josh Lamont)

For "Why You Do That," Dunbar summoned up the type of Josh Lamont beat that helped make Rozewood's The Ghost of Radio Raheem one of, if not the, last decade's dopest documents of Amityville hip-hop. It's short, slow, and straight to the point of slapping the shit out of you. Sure Shot and Bunchy Cartier's No Hook 3 has been operating in kind since October 2020.


Kaleber - "P.T.I." ft. Zonya Love

The words "it's been a long time" speak more than volumes in hip-hop; they speak classics bridging decades. When Kaleber raps them on "P.T.I.," they speak too of the silence between now and the stated departure, of an endless unspoken void all the more familiar now in times of isolation and distance, and of the indescribable regret one knows feeling they could have done something more to prevent that departure, to close that distance. "P.T.I." embodies the indescribable and in so doing, one hopes, helps to heal the lasting unimaginable trauma Kaleber has endured losing his brother and going on in this world without him. 


"Paid In Full" (Julio "Ton" Rodriguez Edit)

One of my personal favorite posts from eight years (!!!) of doing these Rakim Weeks is 2017's Behind the Boards of Coldcut's "Paid In Full" 7 Minutes of Madness Mix, and one of the things I like most about that remix is how, in a way, it foreshadowed the kind of anarchistic bricolage aesthetic that would later become a hallmark of the duo's Ninja Tune label. No doubt that remix arguably forever altered the course of hip-hop and music in general.

Back on this side of the pond, though, there was another 7-plus-minute remix of "Paid In Full." This one, which was issued on a white label sometime in the late 1980s with remixes of KRS-One and Public Enemy songs, was actually done exlusively for the club but ended up getting bootlegged and released without the remixer's name attached to it. Fast-forward decades: shortly after the remix is posted to YouTube in 2011, Julio "Ton" Rodriguez pops up in the comments claiming it as his own and providing a back-story on how it came to be. Rodriguez introduced himself as a DJ who did arrangements and editing work for Pal Joey, and said he put together this remix along with the KRS-One edit for Roman Ricardo to spin at Club 1018 (formerly The Roxy in Chelsea, Manhattan). "However, it got in the hands of the wrong person, and ... I never got recognition for the work I performed," he explained.

Ton's props may be long overdue but they're certainly deserved. An edit of the Coldcut remix, this version does seem to have a more distinctly New York club flavor than the British source material. Check it out below, along with the KRS-One "My Philosophy" edit that accompanies it.


Rakim's "My Melody" Jazz Demo with DJ Maniack & Stevie Blass Griffin

In the 2018 edition of Rakim Week, I shared a two-part documentary by James "Kraze" Billings called Check Out My Melody. If you haven't already watched this in full, do that. If you have, you should remember the clip of the pre-Eric B. jazz version of "My Melody" that played at the start of the second part. How could you forget it? 

For years since that documentary came out, I've been hoping the full track would surface. Sadly, that still hasn't happened. However, earlier this year, Kraze posted the entirety of his interview with Rakim's early DJ and producer, DJ Maniack, portions of which appeared in the documentary. Here, Maniack shares his recollections of several iterations of "My Melody" that were recorded before before Eric B. and Marley Marl entered the picture. These include the aforementioned jazz version.

As DJ Maniack (pictured on the left, above) recalls, "Me and Griff [Rakim’s older brother Stevie “Blass” Griffin] had already made this jazz tune. Griff had invented this jazz tune. He taught me how to play this melody while he played the bass line, and then he played some chords on top of that while I added some DJ stuff, and it was a jazz tune — it was really hot. And Rakim came and laid the 'Melody' lyrics over that jazz tune and we recorded that… That was the second 'Melody.'"

Below you can watch the full interview with DJ Maniack and stream or download the 41-second clip of Rakim's "My Melody" jazz demo with musical accompaniment by Blass (pictured below) and Maniack.


Chuck D Interviews Rakim

Eric B. Is President (Marley Marl Remix, June 6, 1986)

It's Rakim week. Let's get into it.

On June 6, 1986, Mr. Magic and Marley Marl kicked off that night's edition of Rap Attack with Eric B. & Rakim's "Eric. B. Is President." A few days later, the show was re-broadcast on Dave Pearce's BBC Radio London show. DJ Step One posted it online in 2018. Last January, I downloaded it from the Internet Archive and clipped the "Eric B Is President" segment. Why?

Hopefully when you listen it'll be self-evident, but Marley's playing of the song on this particular night is essentially a live radio edit. In other words, what you're hearing here is Marley Marl remixing "Eric B. Is President," a song he engineered and co-produced, live on the air.

That being said, what Marley's doing with the track isn't anything too crazy. It sounds like he's basically just throwing a delay on the acapella track, which gives the song a kind of dub feel, but with only Rakim's vocals and the scratches echoing across the mix. Still, it's not something you'd expect to hear on the radio today, and with "Eric B. Is President" being the A side of his and Rakim's first single, it's a great way to kick off this year's Rakim week, the week in which Long Island Rap Records celebrates the birthday and pays tribute to the music of the greatest rapper of all time. PEACE.


Metal Face Akademy

Apart from his solo work, MF DOOM was well known as part of two groups: (as Zev Luv X) KMD and (as King Geedorah) Monsta Island Czars. However, he also founded another lesser known group, Metal Face Akademy. According to my research, this crew assembled in the early 2000s, and the following rappers and producers were all at one point recognized as members: MF DOOM, Mobonix, The Darkmonk, Hassan Chop, DJ Wesu, and John Robinson aka Lil Sci from Scienz of Life. 

Though the crew never put out a collective project, and there don't appear to be any songs featuring all of the members, each has collaborated extensively with at least one of the others. Robinson released a full album produced by MF DOOM, the criminally slept on Who Is This Man? And two members, Hassan Chop and The Darkmonk, actually released projects under the banner of DOOM's label, Metal Face Records. Hassan's The Sharpening from 2006 was meant to promote an album called The Pen & The Sword, which was also slated for release on Metal Face but never came out. 

The Darkmonk's True Underlord dropped six years later and features multiple appearances by DJ Wesu and Mobonix. These three seem to have collaborated the most among any of the Metal Face Akademy students. Notably, Mobonix and The Darkmonk also took their enrollment in the school to another level, donning metal masks in videos and apparently on stage as well. So too did DJ Wesu in a sense, as he was known to be one of the so-called Doomposters. 

All this being said, one of the things I find most interesting about the Metal Face Akademy is the idea that DOOM legitimately could have served as a mentor for these guys, taking them on the road, giving them beats and in some cases even putting them on his own records (Mobonix rapped on "Supervillainz" off Born Like this, and Chop on "I Wonder" off King Geedorah's Take Me To Your Leader). The concept isn't far-fetched when you consider that DOOM might have also assumed this role for his younger brother Subroc, at least some members of the Monsta Island Czars, and later, Bishop Nehru, with whom he did the album, NehruvianDoom.

As it happens, Marvel Comics' Dr. Doom also had a school, the Viktor von Doom Institute for Gifted Youths, but this didn't appear in print until 2015. Regardless, even before MF DOOM established the Metal Face Akademy, there were references to academia in his music: the "Back in the Days" skit took place on a college campus, and a Scienz of Life track featuring DOOM on the wheels was appropriately titled "Metal Fingers Scraped the Chalkboard." Those tracks bookend the playlist below. The rest of it is comprised of collaborations between two or more members of the Akademy. (The only possible exception is Hassan Chop's "Fresh Kutz," which doesn't sound much like a DOOM beat but which appeared on a mix that King Geedorah did for Solid Steel Radio.) 

"Definition supervillain: a killer who loves children; 
one who is well skilled in destruction as well as building."

1. MF DOOM - Back in the Days (prod. by MF DOOM)
2. Mobonix - Shine (prod. by MF DOOM)
3. The Darkmonk - Sinista - (prod. by MF DOOM)
4. Hassan Chop - Fresh Cutz (prod. by MF DOOM?)
5. John Robinson - Sorcerers ft. MF DOOM & Invizible Hands (prod. by MF DOOM)
6. The Darkmonk - Trust No. 1 ft. DJ Wesu (prod. by DJ Wesu)
7. Mobonix - This Wrek (prod. by DJ Wesu)
8. The Darkmonk - Real Terror ft. Mobonix (prod. by Jake One)
9. MarQ Spekt - Heroin Jonezz ft. Mobonix (prod. by MF DOOM)
10. King Geedorah - I Wonder ft. Hassan Chop (prod. by Metal Fingered Villain)
11. DOOM - Supervillainz ft. Posdnuos, Kurious, Mobonix & Slug (prod. by DOOM & Mr. Chop)
12. The Darkmonk - Hyena! ft. DJ Kool Akiem & Mobonix (prod. by MF DOOM)
13. Mobonix - Rodeo (prod. by MF DOOM)
14. Hassan Chop - It's No Secret (prod. by MF DOOM)
15. The Darkmonk - Text Off Da Celly ft. DJ Wesu (prod. by DJ Wesu)
16. MF DOOM - Air (Jordan Remix prod. by DJ Wesu)
17. Mobonix - Reset Button (prod. by MF DOOM)
18. Scienz of Life - Metal Fingers Scraped the Chalkboard (Cuts by MF DOOM)


Disco Vietnam - House Rabbi Vol. 7

After and before. Disco Vietnam posted House Rabbi Vol. 7 to Bandcamp 985 days after posting Vol. 1. And there's a 5.5. That's a new instrumental hip-hop album every 123 days or nearly three a year. Before I even get to the music, let's take a moment to consider what a rap mitzvah it is that all seven of these projects are available at the generous rate of pay-whatever-the-fuck-you-can-including-$0-if-you-so-choose. It's not that these beats aren't valuable, and it's not that Disco doesn't value them. He must know he making that salt-of-the-earthen-criminological-elite-enteprise-level mack music. It's probably just that he wants you to rap on it. Do that. Yes, you.

Hus Kingpin - "The Gram Tape"

Hazy deconstructionist noir on a Rainer Werner Fassbinder m.o., i.e., displaying flagrant irreverence for one's peers and forebearers alike; (SPOILERS AHEAD) see "It's time to scratch off the scabs / Pictures with Jay won't stop albums from being trash" and "Feeling my soul assassin / I robbed a half a dozen of you n****s six jackings." Portishus drops 1/21/21.


MF DOOM Tributes

Songs, Freestyles


 DJ Mixes


MC Paul Barman and MF DOOM are Paul Dooman

Some DOOM fans may rejoice to find they will no longer have to point out that the MC/producer did much more than "backpack" rap. The rapprovacateurs among us, however, may miss the opportunity to make a "real hip-hop" head's skin crawl. So, if ever you do want to make the argument that DOOM was the backpack rap GOAT you might consider that he did no fewer than eight songs with nerdcore pioneer Paul Barman. Just put this playlist on and watch the boom-bap set squirm! (The irony, of course, is that Barman can and does rap his ass off, a fact that wasn't lost on DOOM as he did more beats for Paul than just about anyone other than those select few rappers for whom he produced a full album.)


The Other Alias

Not Zev Love X, not King Geedorah, not Sci Fly, not Viktor Vaughn, not Metal Fingers, not the Super Villain, nor any spelling variation of the aforementioned; I'm talking about King Dumile, a name with exactly one credit. DOOM took on this alias for his sole appearance alongside international rap group A State of Mind (ASM) on the appropriately titled "Masking" off their album, The Jade Amulet. This is actually a narrative album wherein one of the two rappers from ASM and each of the guest vocalists on the album assumes the roles of a particular character (and the other rapper from ASM serves as the narrator). King Dumile is a kind of tyrannical antagonist who appears on the album's penultimate chapter/song, and when you hear it, you can tell DOOM didn't phone this in; he really embraced the concept and wrote his verse in a way that suited the story — and made for a dope animated video as well. Here you can see the guys from ASM talking about how the track came together. Below is the video animated by Monkey Eggs.


The Art of DOOM: Character Concepts, Cover Art, Sketch, Graffiti and Paint

Dumile's sambo character appeared on 
every KMD cover, either crossed out or hanged

The original version of the Black Bastards cover art,
which provoked the unwarranted ire of a Billboard 
columnist, leading Elektra to shelve the album.
The final version signed emef
DOOM drew this character in the sketch book of
Ego Trip journalist Noel Callahan-Bever in 1997 
DOOM's MetalFace tag, also from NCB's book
Per Operation: Doomsday front cover artist Blake
"Skotch 79" Lethem, DOOM traced this cartoon off the TV for an outline

DOOM's tag from the inside cover.
The DOOM-tagged van from the back cover
of Operation: Doomsday
A throw-up by Skotch 79 aka KEO and DOOM,
jacked from KEO's Instagram page
DOOM, clearly having not lost a step, did this mural in 2012 for adidas Originals
A painting DOOM did for Adult Swim's Jason DeMarco,
downloaded from his Twitter page


I know I’m not alone when I say that MF DOOM was one of the artists who got me into hip-hop. And by “into,” I mean really, really into it: listening to it constantly, aspiring to be involved in it, doing my best to live out that aspiration, thinking in beats and rhymes. For those of us who grew up worshipping Wu-Tang then worked our way back to golden-era hip-hop via the early ‘00s and late ‘90s underground scene, DOOM’s music was a driving force that at once bridged these movements and soared beyond them.

Everything about DOOM was iconic, not just the mask: the dollar-bin sample selection that was in constant conversation with itself; the smorgasbord of pop culture references that mined philosophical treatises from Saturday morning cartoons and Saturday afternoon Daikaiju films; and the intricately structured yet effortlessly breathless rhyme schemes, cadences within cadences, like mesmerizing burners sprung to elaborately dynamic life from deceptively simple sketches. It would’ve taken him three or four words to say all that, it would’ve sounded six thousand times better, and maybe freestyled.

When KMD’s first album dropped, I was five or six years old, so I’m one of the fans who never heard of Zev Love X until Black Bastards was released on Sub Verse. To this day, it’s my favorite DOOM album, one of my favorites by anyone for that matter. To my ears, the audio collage of “Garbage Day #3” is a high watermark for sample-based music. In just over two minutes DOOM and his late brother Subroc lay the thematic groundwork for what could be a full catalog without so much as one lyric. And then they proceed to rap and produce circles around their Native Tongues forebearers. And they would’ve been in their early 20s when they wrote that album. Truly inconceivable.

Of course, there’s no wrong answer to “what’s your favorite DOOM album,” and one can make a case for any number of them being among the best of their time. The run he went on from 1999 to 2004 has to be one of the greatest by any rapper/producer in any era. People forget he also produced prodigiously over that stretch, including no less than eight volumes of his Special Herbs & Spices series as well as the majority of MF Grimm’s The Downfall of Iblyss: A Ghetto Opera, an overlooked classic with a story behind it to rival even DOOM’s own reinvention saga.

Indeed, for such a singular artist, a remarkable amount of DOOM’s most iconic work was done collaboratively: with Subroc as KMD, with KEO on the mask, with Madlib as Madvillain, with Danger Mouse as DANGERDOOM, and with the Monsta Island Czars, who’ve featured prominently on these pages. A true visionary, he brought in the best and brought out theirs. Let’s not forget he also did four tracks on Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale, and to this day heads clamor for a DOOMSTARKS album.

Long Island has given the world some of the most original and landscape-altering rap music in hip-hop history, and DOOM’s was perhaps the most uniquely earth-shattering of it all. I haven’t even touched on Take Me to Your Leader, probably my second favorite album of his, and already I feel like I’ve given birth from the heart spilling words here. God do I hope there’s another King Geedorah project in the archives. Man am I thankful there’s one in the first place. By any name, Daniel Dumile was an absolute inspiration and an unforgettable genius. May he rest in peace.