sh0p7ift - #Grey

How about some feel-good lyrics to end the summer on a high note? "I hate my face, I hate my skin / Hate my stupid fucking brain, wish I didn't exist / I hate myself but I can't die / Cause if I did  then they would win." Whoa! Hold on, grey man. Not that high. How about we bring it down a little bit? "All I am is a bitch / Everything is all right / What'd you think, that I'd switch / I really hope I die soon." Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Let the sun shine over everything: sh0p7ift's brilliant stage name, $30-$50 beats, $45-$50 hoodies I'm hoping this post and my enduring fandom will earn me, and a discography so long you won't know where to start. Here's as good a place as anywhere else ... better even.


Ja'King the Divine, Javi Darko - Fear & Loathing in LI

Sadly, we all know at least one person who needs to hear this: adrenochrome can't be harvested from the human body. It's a synthetic that was so overhyped in the '50s, it was later fictionalized by writers Anthony Burgess and Hunter Thompson. And here we are today. The stupidest thing about the entire conspiracy surrounding this compound is that it relies on people's complete ignorance of the fact that the human body does naturally produce all kinds of chemicals that can get you high. This is how most drugs work in the first place. As far as scientific fact is concerned, though, your body doesn't have much use for hallucinogens. Consensus reality is already plenty hallucinogenic enough on its own. Psychedelic enthusiasts will claim that dreams are made of DMT, but this too is bullshit. However, if it weren't, and if we all were just overgrown mechanical elves wrenched in some interdimensional way station, we might do worse than to soundtrack our days with Ja'King the Divine and Javi Darko's Fear & Loathing in Long Island. After all, damn near half its denizens live like that anyhow, and not in the healthful "we're all connected, New York Telephone" ego-death type of way but the "none of this matters, so I can do whatever to whomever whenever and however I want" type of way. Oh, what cruel irony that those claiming demonic plots could use some by-the-book Satanism in their lives. Ja'King the Divine and Javi Darko speak to this conundrum, and it talks back ... loud as expected.


Sydney D. & Lokedo - IRIE

Unrequited love talks in circles like a loop. The continuous function, not the parkway continually under construction. Let that hurt go, Jane. Open-ended statements better describe the best questions: we courted to these movies, the happiest times the loneliest beauties. Perpetual condescension perpetuates imposter syndrome. Imagine Molière ended every verse with "if that makes sense" instead of making verse of every sense.


Harri-O & Steevie Weevie - "Beatitude/Paranoimia"

For many, college offers a kind of political awakening. It's not just that you're old enough to vote now. You've been living with mom and dad for 17-plus years, largely focused on being a kid and less so on the non-governmental politics that (in)effectively govern society as we know it. That is, if you're socially and/or economically privileged enough to need not recognize and navigate such concerns earlier on in life. The rest of us have been political.

So, it'd probably be at least gross oversimplification, if not outright fantasy, to imagine some Adelphi University-inspired political awakening influenced the members of Spectrum City to remobilize as Public Enemy, the Bomb Squad, and the Security of the First World (S1Ws). But it was at Adelphi that Chuck D designed the Public Enemy logo. And it was there that he and another student by the name of Harry Allen first crossed paths. Public Enemy would later dub Allen the Media Assassin, even naming him as their director of enemy relations at one point. But before Public Enemy debuted on the national stage, when Harry Allen was introduced to the Spectrum crew, he went by or was given another name, Harri-O. 

Now, "Don't Believe the Hype" is generally regarded as Harry Allen's recording debut. If you've read this far, you know his appearance in the song so I won't draw this transition out any further. But what you might not know about is the time in February of 1985 or '86 when Harri-O went on Adelphi's WBAU to read an essay about apartheid in South Africa. One listener all the way up in Nyack, New York, was so moved he called the station and was connected with Harri-O himself. And so began the correspondence that forms the crux of today's post. Allen would go on to send this listener, a kid named Steve, a recording of the essay along with a trio of pause-tape beats he'd created.

Upon receiving this parcel, Steve would remix the recorded essay to Art of Noise's "Paranoimia," possibly drawing inspiration from the WBAU mainstay, Chuckie D and MC DJ Flavor's "We're Down with the DJs," which used Art of Noise's "Close (To The Edit)" as a backbeat. Steve then sent this remix, dubbed "Beatitude/Paranoimia," back to Allen. Decades later, Steve, now a self-proclaimed "archivist overlord" would upload the (unremixed) recording of the essay along with those three Harri-O beats to his Pause Button Remix site. In sharing these tracks, he referred to his remix as "dreadful, not worth publishing here." 

But back then, at least on paper, Harri-O would have disagreed. He told Steve he loved the remix and offered up some suggestions. But he didn't stop there. After all, this was the 1980s. Ambitions abounded. And so Allen wrote Steve, "Let's start an indy + begin it with a release of our own stuff. Mine thus far ... and whatever rappers, suckers or criminals we decide need to be heard," a noble ambition, to be sure. The postcard continued, "I have an idea for a group (rap-punk) that would be a Just-Ice / Dead Kennedys / Fishbone cross, and of which I would be lead MC. Write back soon concerning this idea ... or just send another tape." 

The correspondence would also yield a typed copy of the "Beatitude" essay "slightly revised" by Allen. Notably, its last page states that the essay was "originally presented Saturday, September 7, 1985 at the hempstead seventh-day adventist church, hempstead, ny." 

Perhaps it goes without saying that the rap-punk group Harri-O envisioned never materialized. (Unless, maybe this idea evolved into Son of Bazerk? Sheer conjecture on my part.) However, as alluded to earlier, Steve did hold onto "Beatitude/Paranoimia." And I asked him for it. And here it is, definitely well worth publishing and not at all dreadful. 

Which brings us back to politics. Assuming "Beatitude" was written in 1985, delivered on air in '86 and revised in 1987, it is cotemporaneous with the beginnings of Public Enemy. The group formed and recorded their first song in 1985, signed to Def Jam in 1986, and released their debut album in '87. Allen may not have been an official member of the Public Enemy/Bomb Squad/S1W collective at that point. However, he definitely shared their politics. He shared them at church and on the radio. 

But then again, to call these statements political essentially misses the point. What are the politics of basic human rights? Politics of survival? The more one considers that less than 40 years ago racial segregation was the law of the land in South Africa, and that then U.S. President Ronald Reagan attempted to block legislation imposing sanctions on South Africa over apartheid, the easier it is to see political ignorance for what it truly is, a bastion of first-world privilege. "I know ... the company I work for has a branch there."


AWOL Da Mindwriter & JHershey - SEGA-AM2 (Part II)

Super Mario World, TMNT: Turtles in Time, Mortal Kombat games with four buttons instead of three. Take it from someone who was there. Super Nintendo was the better system than Sega Genesis. But then again, Sega had Road Rash, Beavis & Butthead, and Mortal Kombat 1 with blood. So even if it was an overall inferior gaming platform, it did have SNES beat in terms of corrupting the minds of America's youth, as Joe Lieberman might have said. AWOL Da Mindwriter and JHershey's SEGA-AM2 (Part II) offers much the same appeal, steam-letting mischievousness with mad replay value.

"But Sega-AM2 was a game developer, not a system, you schmuck!" Word and "My Baby" does not fit the above description either, except for the replay value part. 


Samfl3 - The Kamara Method

Just like anyplace north of Yonkers is Upstate, anywhere east of Islip is Out East. 

And now I am become life goals of purchasing a home close enough to the City to feel civilized yet far enough from civilization to retreat into my own world of sand, paper, and vinyl (material, girl). The complications that make people human also make life sufferable and Samfl3's music personable despite any obscurity. The most-hidden gem of LongIslandRap.Comp v4 continues to shine like one despite possibly having relocated to a town upstate with a name so upstate it sounds made up but isn't.


NERO//FLESH - Disposition of Intimacy

Flesh tones bleat drone-pop cyber-dreams like ketamine therapy for electric sheep as Lucy's lullabies lapse the blood-brain barrier. (But yo, if I wrote that like this would you pay for it?

Flesh tones bleat
drone-pop cyber-dreams 
ketamine therapy 
for electric sheep 
Lucy's lullabies lapse the
blood-brain barrier.

Because if so, the kid's novella-cum-microfiction-collection contains myriad chapbooks. And that too, my friends, is a motherfucking metaphor.)


Glamorous, the first lady of Long Island hip-hop?

How's pioneer for a loaded term? Hear it now and think innovator. But the word has bodies and battle scars. Merriam-Webster traces its origins from the Middle-French pionnier, a "worker employed on field fortifications who accompanies an army," from Old French peonier, a "foot soldier, laborer tasked with excavation," to peon, a "foot soldier." Pawn also comes from this word. Insert sinister cynic-critic sexploitation plotlines. I for one am more drawn to the Juice Crew's having three Long Island rappers (Biz, Glam, and I.U.), and (speaking of foot soliders) this one with personal ties to Public Enemy's Professor Griff. 

Mike Street - Rubba Clip / Matt X

Take a month off, and the authorities might fuck around and find a LISK, burner profiles and all. If I ever followed you on Instagram, I apologize. I must've assumed you were a Long Island rapper, or else my finger slipped. "I'm freaking out bae smh," read the Unknown Sender's text. Down in the basement, there's a page of original art from Rick Veitch's Unknown Soldier #21 (Vertigo, 2010), purchased direct from the artist, the email about "I Gave You Power" unanswered, the seller's silence a clear admission that yes, he and Joshua Dysert knew damn well they bit off of Nas' shit. Me thinks Ebay may be in the cards, or at least a spot at the record fair in September.