5/25/23

Naww G - The Long Island Zoo

First thing that stands out about Naww G's Long Island Zoo track list: it contains not only the tempo of each song but also its key. (You're welcome, DJ.) Second thing that stands out, to me at least: the "Interlude" is tagged as a Naww G diss. By now, the self-deprecating introspection trick isn't all that new, but this one's curious because it actually features another rapper, 46SWIN. Get to the song and you'll hear that 46SWIN is in fact the only rapper on it. So, Naww G used a Naww G diss by another person as the centerpiece to his album. And it's a pretty personal diss at that. Dismiss this as mere gimmickry and miss the dimension it lends an album that's by its own admission alternatingly rep-obsessed and star-chasing. Hyperlocal meta-rap concepts for the win. 

5/24/23

Pozy One - "This Is Life"

Poz lives! מוֹדָה אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי ,בְּחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ׃‎. I just finished Snowfall and will politely resist the urge to spoil the final season for all of my friends out of a futile hope that they one day might enjoy it for themselves. But if you've seen it, you know what I'm getting at! Alternate take: never have I ever watched Stranger Things, but from what I can gather it's about how an abandoned top secret government facility out east inadvertently sent a warship back in time. Convince me otherwise. Poz lives! וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃ דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם וְעָשׂ֨וּ לָהֶ֥ם צִיצִ֛ת עַל־כַּנְפֵ֥י בִגְדֵיהֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹתָ֑ם וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־צִיצִ֥ת הַכָּנָ֖ף פְּתִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃ וְהָיָ֣ה לָכֶם֮ לְצִיצִת֒ וּרְאִיתֶ֣ם אֹת֗וֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוות יְהוָ֔ה וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־תָתֻ֜רוּ אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃ לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְותָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ אֲנִ֞י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם לִהְי֥וֹת לָכֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִ֑ים אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

5/22/23

A.Slay - Slaytape V1

By now, (if you exist, dear reader) you may have noticed that the Slayhouse Music Group tag has popped up more than once on this site over the past few months. The women's collective is the brainchild and namesake of none other than Westbury born, Brentwood raised singer-songwriter A.Slay. Sadly she hasn't released much of late, but her 2019 Slaytape EP just might be the crew's definitive statement. And I say this despite the fact that only one other member appears on it (K.Sole on the final track). Slaytape V1  is a sultry statement of heart-worn dispossession. Better to have loved and to have lost vibes abound impromptu parties. And pops takes out the cipher. By the way, that's Volume one not roman numeral six but here's hoping for five more.

5/20/23

I.R.O.C. - "K.A.O.S."

The International Representatives Of Chaos (I.R.O.C.) were a Syracuse University rap act comprised of MC Jozzel, a track runner from Great Neck, and DJ Geminii. The latter would go on to launch Geminii records and do at least two more singles with Jozzel, although neither of them were released under the I.R.O.C. banner. The group is not to be confused with the Long Beach, California g-funk outfit that released "I Came from the Pound" in 1991 and again in 1993 on Doggy Style Recordz. This predates that by about three years. Other Long Island rap records released in 1988 include "Night of the Living Baseheads," "Strictly Business," and "Microphone Fiend," putting "K.A.O.S." in good company to say the least.

5/19/23

Mak Strange - #OPENSESAME

Presentism is a dead-end street. If Rakim first dropped today, would he go platinum or homeless? We like to think he'd find his way to the masses like Jay Electronica finding his way to Jus Blaze and then Hot 97, but let's not forget that Jay Electronica was homeless and is yet to go Platinum. But if Rakim were to first drop today, go homeless, and get even more obsessive over about his craft as a result, I like to think he'd be cool with Mak Strange. Every day might be a struggle. He might not ever turn a dollar from rapping. But he would still be the greatest rapper of all time. Every song here is at least three and a half years old. They've aged better than the public consciousness, and that's actually saying a lot in my opinion.

5/1/23

Blaq Kush - There's Always Hope Vol. 3

A catalog of dreams deferred, There's Always Hope opened up about as personally as possible, with a home recording of a child singing. If the series' second volume expanded its possibilities, the third doubles down on its duality. "Hope" is a good thing but also nothing. "Always" implies infinite, unattainable. When Rick told Islet, "We'll always have Paris," he meant memories. He was saying, "You'll never see me alive again." Kids represent potential. There's Always Hope Vol. 3 has a standout song called "We Couldn't have the Baby." It's about exactly what the title indicates, but still manages to end on a positive note, with the narrator and his lost love reunited in a nursing home. The project itself follows suit, concluding with the glistening twilight of "Summer in NYC." Here, Shalee Beats channels Uptown Saturday Night-era Ski Beatz while Blaq Kush reconciles independent-as-fuck irreverence with the shiny suit era it railed against. It's the song of a summer that may never come or go.

 

4/30/23

Swad - Boyz a Liar / Telling Everybody


For most of its existence, Hot 97's Summer Jam has been held in New Jersey. It's like Jets and Giants games in that way—ostensibly for New Yorkers but really only those who will make the trek to a neighboring state. In 2023, the rap music industry's major public-facing annual trade show returns to New York for the first time in 20 years. But it won't be held in New York City. Instead, the UBS Arena in Elmont will play host to the event. Will any of the performers taking the stage June 4 realize let alone acknowledge they're in Nassau not Queens County? Who knows? But you can bet that the show's promoters know it, and let it ride that there's some corporate tax benefit at the heart of this relocation maneuver. Box that like the Belmont Stakes. Hopefully, the audience will know where they're at, too, and in this recognize that Long Island is as inextricably linked to hip-hop's past, present, and future as any of the five boroughs. Like I was saying to one of my favorite musicians earlier tonight, there's the politic and then there's the emotion. Beyonce and Ice Spice offer plenty to consider in terms of both interpretations. And Swad's remixes of their recent hits relish in the interconnectedness of the two.

4/9/23

MeccaGodZilla - "Tread" ft. thekeenone & Eric Bobo

MeccaGodZilla was a flagship producer for billy woods' Backwoodz Studioz, Eric Bobo was a percussionist on Ill Communication, and thekeenone was the first person to express to me the value of streaming platforms for sharing one's music. This was in the days of divshare, which still exists somehow—wild. All of these artists are also much more than these minor credits. And in 2008 they coalesced for a Bobo song soon to appear on MeccaGodZilla's compilation, Hidden Jewels of Mecca.

Thekeenone obliterates everything here, on some BFG-9000 clear the room, take no prisoners shit. 

WilliefromtheDrive - Lose Until You Win

Job hunt, love life, house hunt, channel surfing, crate digging, competitive sport, poker, trading stock, fantasy sport, acting, songwriting, sentience, conception, evolution, the big bang—there are exceptions, of course, but generally it's all Lose Until You Win. Know the ledge and still jump like Geronimo on some "Ordo Abchao." The Myth of Sisyphus is about becoming the most superhumanly diesel version of yourself, like Pumping Iron.

Being an 80-year-old man, I've taken some lumps in my day, but it's not how many times you get knocked down—it's cushioning the ground beneath you such that getting knocked down becomes unbothersome, pleasant even. Keeping with that thread, WilliefromtheDrive would be the second artist posted here who I first heard about via an aforementioned PDF that hipped me to the fact Hempstead has a thriving drill scene. Lose Until You Win dropped in January, making it a semi-ancient artifact of said scene, but like I said, I'm 80, so times fly.

4/6/23

Kush Blank - Walking LLC

The farther east, the fewer the sidewalks, the closer the sands, real ones or deposits become real, oceanic countersprawl, low-tide phonk, high-tide subterranea. No waterworks, the waters rise, reclaiming mansions and making beachfronts of bungalows. Pocketbooks overflow, pharmacological and/or horticultural. SpongeBob: the whole operation's underwater. The fisherman comes back for revenge, visiting Jason Vorhees hockey penalties on retro-dandy price gougers, high sticking, slashing. New Zealand harbor mates communicate via whale calls and dolphin carrier bottle messages. "I get my powers from the water."

4/2/23

K.Sole - Purple N Passion

When purple haze dropped in New York, it so impressed, overnight every "kind" strain was branded "haze." This was a time of lower THC counts and less variety. Haze delivered an entirely different experience, so desirable it shifted consumer expectations. Nowadays (big lawn maintenance vibes), there are no fewer than 615 cataloged hazes, and Cam'ron's Purple Haze is to millennial rap fans what Hendrix's "Purple Haze" was to boomer rock fans. Purple flower put a generation through college, so don't talk to me about purple drink. K.Sole's Purple N Passion [PNP] dropped within the first few weeks of another big P, like only fogs can overshadow clouds.

3/28/23

Who Is Gustavo Louis?

MF DOOM used to say he rocked a mask to keep the focus on the music rather than the musician—a noble cause and a clever device to maintain one's anonymity, but I can't help imagining that it also has the opposite effect. Humans are inherently curious animals. When we see a mask, we automatically wonder whose face is under it. Is it horribly mangled ala Viktor Von Doom? Or is it the familiar visage of someone we've known all our lives? Or could it somehow be our own face under there, an evil twin come back to collect its revenge for some unseen slight? In Mexican wrestling, it is considered the ultimate disrespect to unmask one's opponent. 

Like the traditional Mexican wrestler, Gustavo Louis dons a luchador mask. Over the past year, he's put out no fewer than 10 projects. However, he actually came to my attention via a retweet from fellow Hempsteader SmooVth regarding their shared origin. Of course, the mask in the profile pic made me wonder 'who's that,' not necessarily in terms of the person's identity but more their profession, as in, 'Is there a rapper coming out of Hempstead wearing a luchador mask?' Yes, there is. His (rap) name is Gustavo Louis, and he releases music under the auspices of Narconomics Records.

The latest release in terms of albums and mixtapes is The Love Tape, which aptly dropped on Valentine's Day. But even newer than that is the Mixed for Narconomics playlist he compiled on Soundcloud, featuring just a couple of his songs as well as a number of LI familiars, including The UN's "Mind Blowin" and De La Soul's "Lovely How I Let My Mind Float" ft. Biz Markie (the LIRR post no less). Both projects provide a solid introduction: the former showcasing his flare for animated hustling and affinity for Phat Bastard beats (the two have three projects together with a fourth on the way), the latter highlighting some of his compatibles and inspirations. Both stream below, along with a clip from a new song produced by Jay Be Ill, possibly from their upcoming Illnarco tape. Get familiar.

3/25/23

Azomali - A MANGO A DAY!

Imagine complete civil unrest, as in every person in every city taking to the streets. At first, of course, it's met with the weapons of the state: police brutality, human rights abuses ... you know the drill. And as the cities burn with revolution, the rainforests burn for industry. Now imagine all that coming to its only logical conclusion. At the end of the day, even military oppression is a Band-Aid. Or, like my father always says, you can only put down a people so long until they pull you from your fucking home. When the revolution ends, then the hope, at least, is that the rainforest and its people can both breathe again. Obviously, there's more to it than that. Revolution, by its very nature, is unending. Rainforests regenerate except when they can't. 

A MANGO A DAY! (Keeps the Colonizer Away), Azomali's first multi-song release since 2019's Guyaba Mixtape, feeds on the nuance undergirding all these generalities. If you've been following his Instagram over the past few years, then between some of most impressive off-the-head freestyles ever recorded, you've witnessed a number of scenes not unlike those generalized above. But seeing is one thing and feeling another. As opposed to social media, AMAD! has a deprogramming effect. It bumps in the corazón, jump-starting empathy. Impressively, it accomplishes this in under 20 minutes with just six songs and five field recorded interludes. For my part, it certainly didn't hurt that one of those six featured Johnny Storm and Azomali together on a track for the first time since they were known respectively as Sky Walker and Kaotik Ellement. But I digress.

Azomali's music ranges from transportive to outright transcendent. The scary thing is that it's only getting better. This naturally should tempt you to wonder what's next. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For now, I suggest simply taking as prescribed...

3/23/23

Marley Marl Remixes Two Public Enemy Classics

Two years ago, writing about a Public Enemy LL Cool J blend, I said it "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." I sometimes write stupid shit. This is Chuck D at Mr. Magic's funeral service. Little did I know that Marley Marl had already remixed my favorite Public Enemy song, "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos." Apparently he put hands on "By the Time I Get to Arizona" at some point as well. 

Nyah'Zo - Flourish

According to a recent study, young and old people's perceptions of time flipped during COVID lockdown, with young people feeling time flying, and olds imagining it slowed to a crawl. Normally, children, young adults, and even some middle-aged folks tend to think time drags while seniors by and large see time speeding by in front of their eyes. I have a theory about this. Maybe humans have evolved to experience time moving slowly for the sake of productivity. We perceive a lag so that all of us may get more done in the relatively little time we have on this planet. Time and space being so closely related, this might help explain how we're able to walk just a few years after we're born. For the sake of energy efficiency, the same genetic knowledge that lets us quickly adapt to our spatial environment also renders us relatively ignorant of our inherent temporal limitations. Life on Earth constantly multitasks so that it might one day flourish.

Nyah Zo's Flourish EP dropped about 10 months ago. She'll be performing at Lithurgy Brewing Co. in Farmingdale on March 31. Use promo code NYAH with your ticket purchase to support her.

3/20/23

Gudda Vell - Champion Season

I found Gudda Vell by stumbling across the video for his song, "Indigo (Here We Go)," possibly because it featured cuts by DJ Stitches. From there, I back-tracked my way to Champion Season, a mixtape from the early days of this website. December 4, 2015 was the advertised release date. The songs were posted individually to Soundcloud some seven years ago. I found them in March 2023. "Real Talk," the first I played, concluded with the voice of Gil Scott-Heron. Though the accompanying art featured a track list, the songs weren't compiled together on the platform as an album or playlist so I grouped them as such. The mixtape largely concerns Gudda's return from a five-year bid. 

3/17/23

KILLKURT - "New York Fashion Week"

Having the fashion sense of a color-blind 37-year-old Long Islander so fortunate as to have come of age during an era when flannel shirts and Dickies jeans were cool, I've dressed essentially the same since 6th grade, so every 10 years, give or take, I look with the times. When it comes to fits, I run them back compulsively like this latest KILLKURT track. But try taking the remote away when I'm watching my fashion competition programs and see what happens. Come find out!

Fka Kurt Hazard? I'm f the fk. Long Island Rap Records rocked with Hazardous. This song's something else, though. Hi-fi, lo-res audio-virtual catwalk companion clutch gets you in one of seven or eight pockets. (I'm partial to the Dickies carpenter cuts these days.)

Elmar the Ripper - Call Us By Our Name

"Stakes Sill High" like the allostatic load never lightened. 

Somebody tweeted something about how all New York drill rappers growl at each other, and I felt that like a callback to M.O.P. era deep cuts, like Knowledge the Pirate's CD-only appearance on DJ S&S' Harlem World Order—extra gravelly but slick too. 

Hardbody hour? Try hardbody century. Elmar the Ripper has a handle on that register, and a new EP called Elephant in the Room ahead. Ahoy! But first...

"King, call me by my name / Intellectuals don't believe in ₲od, fear us the same."

3/5/23

Chow Lee & Friends

The shiny suit era peeked some 25 years ago. Conceivably then, today former-would-be-shiny-suit rapper grands trade remember-back-in-the-days over sips of Cristal. Meanwhile, drill. Chow Lee and Cash Cobain's 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy landed an honorable mention in The New York Times' Best Albums of 2022. Lee and friends have a show coming up at Baby's All Right March 22 and a sticky new label compilation called Welcome To The Dollhouse out now. Being an 80-year-old man (see last post), I came up on Chow Lee via PDF-form EPK. More to come from that in the weeks and months ahead.

Johnny Storm - 80's Porno Flick


Peeking through oak leaves, a shooting star streaks the sky. I take out my dentures, unfasten her garter. The log in the stove smolders to a cackle, one more explosion of a night filled with them.

Cult Favorite - For Madmen Only (Dicennial Awakening)

For the most part, the salvage sale had the usual fare, not quite scrapyard-ready architectural elements and the like. But in one corner, wedged underneath a broken-legged writing desk, might've that brownish heap of papery rot once someplace, sometime been a cardboard box? Disintegrating on contact like acidic brain receptors, the sheath unfurls a heretofore undisturbed stack of perfectly preserved hand-stamped wax records.


Even unplayed, their contents abound like candles so aged they can stink up a warehouse floor.

2/27/23

Keda Face - MOTIVATED

Keda Face's recent birthday bash was deejayed by the rap radio institution, Funk Master Flex. Thus, please feel free to read this post in his voice(💣🔥). New York, I'm so serious right now (💣🔥). I've been doing this a long time, OK? For those who don't know, Long Island is very much in the building. But there's one rapper from Long Island in particular right now, a young lady by the name of Keda Face (💣💣🔥🔥), who has really impressed me. She's a lovely young woman who is very much about her business, OK. And that business ... is bars (💣💣💣🔥🔥🔥). {Growling.} Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, please understand I am so MOTIVATED right now (💣💣🔥🔥🔥).

4DHxH & Azomali - "2:22 A.M."

I love a wild moniker. Case in point: the Outer Galactic Marauder Faction. This [landing] site's interdimensional observers might recall the name from a series of visual communiques Blaq Kush launched several years back, called Kushan Sundaze. The second installment of that series featured Kush along with his fellow Faction founders, including one by the name of 4DHxH, a relatively innocuous handle, that is, until one comes to find it stands for Fourth Dimensional HitchHiker! 

Time-warp to December 12, 2022, whence 4D has teamed with the elusive 1492 auteur Azomali for a one-off called "2:22 A.M." Speaking to the titular subject, the artist formerly known as Kaotik Ellement raps, "Overlook the Earth from the distance before the shine within / I do not understand Father Time so why would I align with him?" This, of course, could also be heard as a response to any and all Azomali acolytes asking how long it'll be until his next album drops, which is to say, probably a while and also it's already here, as it's always been.

2/24/23

Ry'lea - RESIDENCY

Six years ago, I was living in a shotgun-style one-bedroom near the border-zone of Floral Park, Elmont and Stewart Manor (in the latter technically, at the garden apartments pictured in the "Me, Myself And I" element on this page; if you know, you know) and working an 8:30-5:30 in nearby Garden City. The commute was easy. Nothing else was. Anyway, one morning as I was leaving for work, on the way downstairs I heard a frantic commotion. It was the adult daughter of the old lady who lived beneath me, screaming in a panic, having found her mother in the throes of a stroke or seizure of some kind. Their door was open so I saw this happening. I ran in, called 9-1-1 and did what I could to help. Thankfully, the ambulance came quick and the old lady survived to spend some more time with her family. I lived in that building longer than I've lived anywhere other than my parents' house. Eventually, the old lady died. One day afterward, in her apartment, her family mourned her passing in song. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard, the complete opposite of the fearful cries that had delayed my commute some months prior. Ry'lea's "Tilted Halo" had me thinking about this. I don't know why exactly, probably in part because I'm listening to it the day after attending a wake, but also maybe partly because it speaks to the kind of perfect imperfections that make the universe what it is and life worth living long.
 

AWOL Da Mindwriter & JHershey - "Screaming Down the Block"

Cheat code for anyone who wants to see their music featured on this site, be it for the first time ever or in a while: make music with someone else who's been featured here. Not saying I don't love to hear an artist making her/his own lane, just that it's always nice to imagine someone on LI hearing someone else on LI (maybe from this site, maybe from up the block) and getting together on the strength of what they heard.

"Screaming Down the Block" features AWOL da Mindwriter, whose raps you might've heard previously on this site, rapping over a beat by JHershey, whose beats you might've heard previously on this site. Or maybe you've heard nothing because you don't even exist, and I'm doing all this for my own personal edification. Whatever, I had fun. And from the sounds of it, so did AWOL as he yelped and yammered on this track like a young Busta Rhymes reborn to predict Armageddon all over again. 

2/19/23

He Did It for Us: RIP Dave

For me, De La Soul has always been one of the most natural rap groups of all time. I don't mean to say that their music stems naturally from the earth, or spiritually from some ethereal plane as their name might be read to imply. I mean that their members complement one another so well, it's hard to imagine one without the others. Pos and Dave rap like lifelong friends in conversation, starting, continuing, and finishing each others' sentences, their exchange-routines so fluid the numbers 1 and 2 become more for the audience's benefit than anything else. I cannot begin to imagine what Posdnuos and Maseo are going through. 

The singular expression of the human experience Dave shared with the world through his words and voice goes far beyond music. In that sense, it's futile to lament how much the world loses in his absence. It's a shame that De La Soul's legacy and Dave's obituaries seem forever tied to industry politics when their art has so much more to offer; as reductive as dismissing the group as hippies or hearing Stakes Is High only as a reaction to the commodification of hip-hop culture. Those who wish to dwell on these points might do well to check out First Serve, Dave and Pos' 2012 concept album where they play two 20-somethings with a dream of making it in the rap game of that era. Ironically, this project, which has never not been available online, says more about industry politics than any article ever written on De La Soul's relationship with sampling and streaming.

On First Serve, Dave portrays not only one of the two main characters, rapper Dean "D" Witter, but also D's mother, Lenore Agnes Witter. I was playing the album on my way to work this past week. Ma Witter's appearance on "Clash Symphony" elicited in me one of those deep belly laughs, a kind of catharsis I guess. 



Am I just another lost in the pack? 
We Horshack shit, you know, laugh it off
The years just blow by
My eyes stay fixed but the picture's kind of out of focus
I cry a lot but admit to it
Enjoying life now but I been through it
Sometimes I wish that I can go back
No bills, no kids, just getting to' back
I want a wife, I love women
How could I front like I don't be in love with 'em
A little man that I could teach
A little sand but not the beach
I figure excess'll only bring an excessive amount of fuss
So when I'm gone make sure the head stone reads he did it for us
I'm like a modern-day Jesus
I cherish warm thoughts like a Grey Goose
And float soft kisses to my baby (Yo ain't that Dave's little girl?)
Yeah, respect for that, she gonna be somebody
Instead of somebody baby mama
You see, young minds are now made of armor
I'm tryna pop a hole in your Yankee cap, absorb me
The skies over your head ain't safe no more
And hip-hop ain't your home
And if it is you fucking up the crib, son
You make life look like I don't wanna live one
You might as well hold your breath until you die in a corner
Somewhere bent over in the crevasse
This God theory overcomes the worst of weathers
As long as you willing to try
You on a good start, homie
You on a good start so get to trying

People are you ready?
Are you really ready?
Ready for the change that may approach you?
Follow down the path that you supposed to
People are you ready?
Are you really ready to try?
You know mistakes are trials that we learn from
In order to live life, you must earn one
People are you ready?

RIP David "Trugoy" Jolicoeur. 

(Everyone reading this, be sure to run up these De La Soul album pre-orders.)

2/9/23

Billie Ski Mask - F Love

In anticipation of Valentine's Day, F Love. In a world of AI language models that couldn't ghostwrite a Ghostface verse if their coding depended on it, there's some comfort in knowing that Billie Ski Mask fucked your bitch in the metaverse. ChatGPT can't seem to figure out that Wu-Tang and Tribe aren't from Long Island, but at least your bitch has been fucked in the metaverse. Ask ChatGPT to review F Love and it'll spit some jive talk about not knowing any albums from after 2021. Inform it that several earlier Billie Ski Mask releases are available and it'll continue to play dumb. Clearly, ChatGPT feels a certain type of way about Billie Ski Mask having fucked its bitch in the metaverse.

1/28/23

DJ not-I - In The Ghetto Tonight (Rakim & Phil Collins)

If Wednesday's post featured "one of the most perfect blends ever committed to wax," today's features one of the most perfect blends ever, period, end of story. 

DJ not-I's "In The Ghetto Tonight" was mixed sometime between 2004 and 2006. The video mash-up, also by DJ not-I, was posted to YouTube in 2015.

So concludes this year's Rakim week. Happy 55th birthday to the God MC.

1/27/23

The "Eric B. Is President" Beat that Never Was

"Using that 'Fonda Rae' bass line and putting it with 'Funky President' was impossible because the tempos did not match up," says Marley Marl in a video reconstructing how he produced the beat for Eric B. & Rakim's "Eric B. Is President." "Well to combat that problem, I needed to pull out my CZ-101 so I could replay it." But what if it weren't impossible?! What if one could line up any two samples regardless of their tempos and somehow stretch one or both of them to match? Of course, that's not only possible today, but done regularly through the time stretching feature that's a staple of modern production technology. 



Fortunately, Marley Marl is still around, mixing records live on the radio, and able to take advantage of said technology. So, on an episode of Golden Era Radio, he was able to make the impossible possible. "I guess that's what 'Eric B. Is President' would've sound like if I had the technology like I got today," Marley said after recreating the record on air using the original samples along with Rakim's acapella. "That's why I could do that, blend those together, but back then there wasn't time stretching and all the amazing things we're using these days in technology, so that's how it would've sound if I'd had that technology in my pocket."

1/26/23

DJ Mickey Knox - Forgotten Rakim Joints & Remixes

You know I already had this on hand back in August when I posted Mickey Knox's mix of lost Roc Marciano joints with links out to his Biz and De La tapes. There are plenty of rarities on here, some lesser heard than others, but one of the main attractions is Knox's mix itself: the transitions, scratches, all that good stuff. That being said, I will give Mickey extra credit for including at least one Rakim feature I had absolutely never heard or heard of in my life, that is, his appearance on "The Paragraph Chemist" by Norwegian DJ and producer The White Shadow of Norway, off that artist's 2013 album, Nightmare Concert. You know what they say. You learn something new every day (especially when you listen to Rakim daily).

1/25/23

Rakim's Games of Death & Life

In 1996, Shaquille O'Neal released his third rap album, You Can't Stop the Reign. Say what you will about Shaq's rap career; the album included a song with Rakim. And while Ra is technically the featured artist on "Game of Death," he essentially runs point, turning in not just a 16, but also a second eight-bar verse as well as the song's hook. Basketball-reference-laced "Punisher"-era bars abound — e.g., "Thoughts of torture terrify your team in the tournament" — as Rakim and Shaq execute a hip-hop tribute to Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's famous fight from the 1978 film of the same title. Ironically, if not self-referentially, Rakim also used a basketball metaphor nine years later in his last lines on a song called "Game of Life." The track, also featuring Ice-T and Chilly Mac, appeared on the soundtrack of 2005 documentary Slippin': Ten Years with the Bloods. The film was co-produced by pioneering MC Kurtis Blow; hence Rakim's line, "First let me bust another verse for my man Kurtis Blow."



Bonus materials: Rakim's song "Welcome to the NBA" from the videogame NBA 07 (now retroactively included in LIRR's Rakim Soundtrack Work playlist) and a clip of Bobbito Garcia recalling a pickup game with Rakim and his friends from Long Island.
 

1/24/23

M.J. Rap / Billy Jean Knows You've Got Soul

In 1988, a house music label by the name of T.K.L.S.T. Production issued an unofficial white label featuring a Michael Jackson "Megamix" of several of his biggest songs. Bootlegs like this were not uncommon in the record club days of the 1980s. They'd sometimes include mashups and remixes, which often went uncredited as was the case here. Flip this 45-RPM record over and you'll find a track innocuously titled "M.J. Rap." But don't let that misnomer fool you, as this is not Michael Jackson rapping. In fact, it's one of the most perfect blends ever committed to wax: a mix of Eric B. & Rakim's 1987 single "I Know You Got Soul" and Michael Jackson's 1982 Grammy Award-winning hit, "Billie Jean." How perfectly do these songs align? So much so that eight years later, in 1996, another house music label called Cluedo? Records put out another version of the blend, with the much more descriptive title, "Billie Jean Knows You've Got Soul." While both are absolute body movers, there is a notable difference between the two. Where the first track slows the "Billie Jean" instrumental to match Rakim's vocals, the second instead speeds them up to keep pace with the music. Additionally, the first record was put out by a U.S. label while the second comes from the U.K. As for the DJs behind these blends, your guess is as good as mine. Regardless, both blends are well worth a spin and available via the following YouTube streams thanks to some generous record owners.

 

1/23/23

The 45 King & Rakim

Mark the 45 King's first Rakim remix was made for Kool
DJ Red Alert, seen above with a young Rakim.
Rakim's birthday is this Saturday. Rakim week starts now.

If you've listened to Funkmaster Flex much over the past year, there's a decent chance you heard him accompanied on air by the inimitable Kool DJ Red Alert, and if you heard one of those broadcasts there's an even better chance you heard Mark the 45 King's previously unreleased "I Know You Got Soul" remix played on Hot 97 ... in 2022. The track, previously played on Red Alert's Kiss FM more than three decades ago, was practically in Flex's regular rotation last year — a beautiful thing.

This got me thinking about the 45 King's other Rakim remixes, of which I knew there were at least a couple. Mark was behind the boards for the extended remixes of Eric B & Rakim's "Microphone Fiend" and "The R" off Follow the Leader, and it's even possible he had a(n uncredited) hand in the original versions as well. Additionally, he produced the club mix of "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em," previously shared on this site in the first post of the first ever Rakim week. Then there was a white label release in 2000 for the remix of a song called "Feelin' You," which as far as I can tell was never otherwise released, thereby making the remix the original mix commercially speaking. Of course, before the last of those remixes dropped, the 45 King produced "How I Get Down" off The Master.

That makes no fewer than six 45 King-produced Rakim tracks, a nice EP's worth of music from two of the most transformational hip-hop artists of all time. (Let's not forget 45 King produced "Hard Knock Life" and "Stan" in addition to what's essentially a full discography of once-obscure now-familiar breakbeats.) If that sounds like the basis for a great playlist, then you're in luck as that's exactly what I've put together below. 

1/15/23

WXRTHY - The Journey

Can a multimedia executive make outsider art? Can a rap blogger drip immaculately? 

Like a new Kanye album with more focus and less fascism Like high fashion spun from Goodwill donation centers, WXRTHY's Journey makes alt-rap symphonies out of detuned instrumentals and bar-napkin bars. 

In fact, WXRTHY got his first SP while working as a donation clerk at a Goodwill. Talk about right place, right time. Call it fate or fortune, such circumstances could be seen as the yang to the mental health struggles that form this album's yin. (But also, imagine donating an SP!) It's pain- and pleasure-ful, and one of my personal favorite projects of 2022.


Ibrahim Maalouf - "Quiet Culture" ft. Pos

DLS' full catalog is coming to DSPs on March 3, 2023, and they're rereleasing 3 Feet High and Rising along with a bunch of related merch. 

Oui, oui, all very good news. 

In addition, I for one would take a Posdnuos solo album produced and arranged by French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf. To be clear, as far as I know, that's not at all a thing. But after hearing Pos snap on this song off Maalouf's Capacity To Love project, I'd very much like to put the idea into the universe. 

"Quiet Culture" is must-rewind monolith of jazz-inflected, children's choir-backed rap in the grand tradition of "Trying People."

Don't miss the new for the old.