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.


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).