1/27/21

"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.

1/26/21

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.

1/24/21

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.

1/23/21

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)


1/16/21

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.

1/9/21

MF DOOM Tributes

Songs, Freestyles

Covers  

 DJ Mixes

1/7/21

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.)
 

1/6/21

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.

1/4/21

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

R.I.P. MF DOOM

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.