4/15/24

DJ Surrup & Makeda Iroquois - Demo (Chopped Not Slopped)

It's been nearly seven years since #BarcelonaBrazy3 dropped. Though long gone from the internet, the genre-defying mixtape has stayed in heavy rotation 'round here. Oh, you don't rip streams so you can return to them long past their DMCA-allotted shelf life? That's wild to me. It's been almost three years since Zero Klique songstress Makeda Iroquois released her Demo album and over two since DJ Surrup gave it his Chopped Not Slopped treatment. You could say we slept 'round here. But then, you might also say all time begins and ends with zeroes — what goes around comes around like. 


4/8/24

Kai Fortyfive - Dinner at Lonely's

The sun is an 865,000-mile ball of gas 93 million miles away from the Earth. The moon is a 2,159.2-mile ball of rocks 238,900 miles away from the Earth. It just so happens that our moon is one 400th of the size of the sun and one 400th as far away from us. This is essentially the definition of a cosmic coincidence, true for no other no other planet's moon(s) across the solar system. Try telling all that to the average human walking the Earth 400 years ago. In 2024, doomsday prophecy still makes for an easier sell than math and science. As for me, I'm just thinking back on Stop 20 solo visits—late night burgers and early morning Benedicts, with only the Criterion Channel for companionship.

4/4/24

Chuck D on the struggles of Black and American Indian peoples, mixed with commentary from a renowned Indigenous Canadian writer, soundtracked by an international dub outfit, later remixed by Mad Professor


Sometimes, the title says it all. Sometimes, it says a lot and there's still more. 

In 1988, a man named Pat Andrade produced and put out a cassette titled The Secret War Against The Black Panthers And The Indian Movement In America. It was one of the first releases on Maya Music Group, an independent label based in Canada, founded by Andrade and the Spirit Voice aboriginal radio collective. Andrade himself is Canadian-Jamaican, but had enjoyed a formative stay on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona. The music of The Secret War is dub-reggae, performed primarily by a group called the Neo-Mafia (likely this Neo Mafia), with drums recorded in Budapest, Hungary, and guitar and harp in Ottawa, Canada. The vocals are spoken word from Indigenous authors Lee Maracle and Ward Churchill and yes, Chuck D. Where his vocals come from is unclear, but the record label's radio origins suggest it might've been an on-air interview. (Indeed, one might be tempted to take all this a step further, drawing some interesting parallels between Chuck D and Pat Andrade's broadcast origins.) At any rate, Maracle and Chuck D's voices appear together over two Neo-Mafia tracks on this release. However, only one, "Are You Comfortable," appears to be floating around the internet. And in fact, the version that's out there is taken from another Maya Music Group tape, 1989's Your Silence Will Not Protect You Volume 1. In 1991, "Are You Comfortable" is remixed by dub great Mad Professor, given the much more revealing title "At Least American Indian People Know Exactly How They've Been Fucked Around," and released on a 12" of the same name. Both tracks appear below.

 

That's all I've got. For more about Andrade and Maya Music Group, check out "Radical Rhythms: 'Dancing on John Wayne's Head'" from the September-October 1995 issue of Against the Current.  

4/1/24

BAIBEEBEAN - "Dream" / "Safe & Sound"

Sports bar physicists double down on IQ-genics like the guy who runs that other Long Island rap site isn't illiterate. How's that for Double Negative?

Then again, if I'd said "is literate" instead, cornhole league mathematicians might've come around screaming about an anagram for Israelite.

What did Wesley tell Woody? You can have a view of me, but you can't see me.

The view looks something like this, like Wednesday night at McMurphy's after too many $4 Millers and ¢25 wings. If only the library would stay open so late.

Roc Marciano - Marciology


Less than seven months ago, John Caramanica authored an article titled, "Sean Combs Doesn't Need to Ask Anyone for Anything." Talk about aging horribly. 

While some may have been shocked to learn of the latest allegations against the artist who recently changed his middle name to Love, one Long Island Rap Records source was not. "Remember when he mentally tortured people on national television, and everybody was like, 'Oh, he just knows what it takes to make it in music, he's just making DA BAND," recalled the source. That reminded us of the time Combs turned a song about stalking a woman into an ode to his dead employee. And, of course, who can forget how he tarnished both of said employee's only two studio albums by saying "Uh-huh, yeah" and "Take that, take that, take that" on every song therein? 

To be fair, Caramanica is at least half-right insofar as he did write, "Combs Doesn't [...] Ask Anyone for Anything." And as far as mankind's oldest profession goes, even Robert DeNiro was once questioned in connection with a French prostitution ring. Of course, contrary to what internet conspiracy theorists would have you believe, he was never charged. DHS hasn't raided his Tribeca penthouse. 

The moral of the story? If you're going to engage in sex trafficking, at least check everyone's ID at the door. Leave all grooming to Merrick Road's pet pampering sector. And avoid incorporating reality-bending psychedelics into the mix. Toad venom and all-ages parties a happy marriage don't make.



3/14/24

Crack Val - Rap for Ordinary People

Nowadays, everyone's extraordinary. We all have beautiful homes, giant televisions, and luxury vehicles. Or, at least, we can all convince each other that we have these things. But long ago, in the 2000s, we had only our aspirations. This isn't some social critique of influencer anti-culture or late-capitalist lamentation for the American dream. It's a blurb for a mixtape that never was. 

If Crack Killz Vol. 1 ever was released, Crack Val isn't around to tell us about it. The I.G.T. co-founder passed away seven years ago this month. He left online about a dozen solo tracks. Most are about money and women, especially the joys they bring and the fearful pain of losing them. Most have beats with the kind of 2000s mixtape-era magic today's producers yearn to recapture. The beats on here that don't fit that description are still ahead of their time. All of these songs are best described in Crack Val's own immortal words as "rap for ordinary people." I present them to you here in a continuous mix, with the blessing of Val's longtime partner in rhyme, Lagato Shine. Be grateful for everything and everyone in your life, with the understanding that all we ever really have is us.


1. Caviar
2. Bentley
3. Hate Yourself
4. R.O.A.E.
5. She Know
6. Top Notch
7. Rope-a-dope
8. Get Money
9. I Live It
10. Opposite of Found
12. In My Zone

3/13/24

$cottLaRock - If Love Could Kill

Symbol cheating like an unscrupulous Scrabble player, $cottLaRock remains the first name in Long Island Rap. Say what you will about board game night. 

If Love Could Kill, it would. (Would.) Imagine the body count. It would rap under the name Mass Grave. Peace to YoungBeenDead. It would say something dramatic before doing the deed. "If I can't have you, no one will!" And then, my friend, you die. It would assassinate, denoting the stature of its victim. It would slam the door behind it. 

If only...

3/5/24

Whirlwind D - Long Island Pioneers Hip Hop Show


Great Britain's affinity for Long Island hip-hop goes back decades, to the 1987 Def Jam tour if not longer. I dare say the connection has roots in the culture's progenitors. Indeed, recent posts here waxed philosophical on genre- and medium-spanning cross-pond collaborations, like Rakim's with Art of Noise or De La Soul's with the Grey Organisation. In our current century, Roc Marciano has produced an entire EP for UK rap duo The Planets and received nothing short of a hero's welcome on English tour stops. I even remember hearing somewhere that the famously purist P Brothers, who'd featured Roc on their 2008 Gas album, held Long Island up beside the Bronx in terms of hip-hop bona fides. I say all of this to say that much like the Germans go nuts for obscure Southern horrorcore and West Coast g-funk, the Brits love them some Long Island rap. Now, Salisbury, UK rapper/DJ Whirlwind D has compiled all that respect and admiration into a multi-decade history lesson of a megamix for the Pioneers Hip Hop Show on England's 103.7 Kane FM. Regular readers will no doubt recognize that Long Island Rap Records postings and musings served as a big source of inspiration for this mix. That said, regular readers may in fact be Whirlwind D and his fellow countrymen, and to them I say cheers, bruv, dun know.

 

2/25/24

Fire Arson - "His Apartment" ft. Kiko

How destructive rages Fire Arson? Not even the DATPIFF Hip-Hop Mixtapes Archive could salvage her releases. Instead, the lasting embers of her discography flicker about long-dormant Soundcloud and YouTube playlists titled FireHouse Classics and firearson, respectively. Yet this jewel survives neither. "His Apartment" sprays resource-guarding affirmations in the vein of "Territorial Pissings." Hell, as it happens, one of her mixtapes is called Nirvana. The Godmother reigns silent. The ocean is on fire.

Ray Robinson - Yasiin Ray

Placing Talking Book and In Control, Volume 1 toward the front of their respective stacks for the first-time shoppers, filing the Juggaknots single in its rightful place, the 12-inch crate, not pulling it or The Leon Thomas Album just to claim doubles: a man got to have a code-type beats.

There are no windows, but every LP in the room costs $5. These are the breaks? To be clear, I don't work here: a man got to have a hobby-type beats. 

Dust settles like collective unconscious. Day vanishes. Emerge into evening like a time traveler. Head home: a man got to eat-type beats.

(See also Essentials.) 

1/31/24

Rakim's Clothing Line, Urban Expedition


Two Rakim weeks ago, I covered Rakim's Rap City appearance, on which he promoted his clothing company, UBX.  About that: UBX stood for Urban Expedition. Rather than an independent clothing brand owned by Rakim, UBX was a label created by I.C. Isaacs & Company, Inc., a jeans and sportwear company founded in 1913. From then until the 1980s, the company primarily sold riding wear for the horse racing industry. In the 1980s, they were purchased by investors, started selling general men's and women's apparel, and made their way into J.C. Penney department stores. It was around this time that they also acquired Boss. By 1996, Boss become their best-selling line, accounting for more than 70% of annual sales. The acquisitions continued piling up, and in September 1999, I.C. Isaacs & Company announced the launch of UBX, an overt attempt to cash in on the streetwear trend that helped fuel Boss' rise. Or, as CEO Robert Arno put it, "The launch of Urban Expedition gives us the opportunity to capitalize on what we do best, providing style-conscious customers with cutting-edge fashions. By offering up-scale streetwear collections under a fresh new brand, we have an opportunity to capture a share of the audience who appreciates fashion-forward urban styling." The company hired Rakim to promote the line and even threw a party with Universal Records in November 1999 at NYC’s Metronome Restaurant & Lounge to celebrate the UBX launch along with the release of The Master. Also on the night's agenda: a preview of the Nelson George documentary A Great Day In Hip-Hop.

The only problem was that I.C. Isaacs was already running into financial trouble, had been since going public a couple years prior. UBX was discontinued in 2001. By 2011, I.C. Isaacs had completely divested from manufacturing and changed its name to Passport Brands Inc. 

Above: a selection of vintage UBX jackets, shirts and jeans floating around the resale market in recent years. Still unlocated: the Funkmaster Flex Great Day In Hip-Hop mix, a snippet of which accompanied the Rakim promo CD single handed out as an invite to The Master/UBX launch party.

Your Forecaster: Rakim (As Told by Art Of Noise)

Art of Noise were big in New York in the 1980s. How big? Getting played in clubs big, no doubt. But also pre-record-deal Public Enemy rapping over their songs big, Harry Allen doing spoken word sermons over their songs big. Did those WBAU airings make their way across the pond back then? Rakim definitely did. See: the UK-smash Coldcut remix to "Paid in Full." From there, Coldcut starts Ninja Tune. Ninja Tune begets trip-hop. And when Art of Noise return from a nine-year hiatus with Lol Creme (yes, that Lol Creme) in tow for high-concept comeback album The Seduction of Claude Debussy, it's Rakim, they ping to provide lead vocals on lead single "Metaforce."


Rakim had previously collaborated with Art Of Noise producer Trevor Horn on 1998's "Buffalo Gals (Back to School)," a reworking of Malcom McLaren and the World Famous Supreme Team's 1983 classic, and it's there that today's brief oral history lesson begins. 

Trevor Horn: "He remembered all the early hip-hop stuff I’d done with Malcolm McLaren like ‘Hobo Scratch’ but told me his favourite track was ‘Moments In Love.’"

Ann Dudley: "As soon as Rakim came up with the immortal rhyme 'Aerodynamic in the Evening Air' we knew that we had it!"

Paul Morley: "We just sent Rakim some information, thinking it wouldn't mean much to him, and he did this fabulous rap, throwing things out of context all over the shop."

Dudley: "He was very interested in it – the whole idea of what we were doing."

Morley: "We sent him this big raft of stuff about Charles Baudelaire, who’s one of my favorite poets. It was kind of interesting because one of the thrills of the whole thing was that he totally got inside the spirit of the record and didn’t lop anything on top of it that came from his world. [He] went inside what we were trying to do with the record and gave it something that then inspired us to cover other areas as well. It was a fabulous thing that he did. There’s some great images in there."

Dudley: "It seemed like Rakim represented the modern poet, the poet at the end of the 20th century, rapping about Charles Baudelaire, the poet at the end of the 19th century, and I've never heard those sort of rhymes in a rap."

Morley: "It was a wonderful moment. It’s like 'Splatter my wisdom in a design,' is a great way to describe painting. We were absolutely thrilled."


Sources
"The Noise are back in town," The Guardian, June 20, 1999; "Art of Noise makes a new impression with 'Debussy,'" CNN, September 27, 1999; "The Art Of Noise: Do You Dream in Color?" Ink19, October 15, 1999; "Anne Dudley and Paul Morley discuss The Art Of Noise," Chaos Control Digizine, 1999; "Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Trevor Horn," NME, November 11, 2021.

Additional reading: "Somebody Down There Loathes Me," The Observer, August 31, 2002; "The Velvet Revolution of Claude Debussy," The New Yorker, October 22, 2018.

1/30/24

Marley Marl's "My Melody" Remixes

Imagine you're Marley Marl. Eric B. has brought to your home studio an unknown 17-year-old Long Islander calling himself Rakim. The kid doesn't sound like any rapper you've ever heard. He's not putting much energy into this, won't get up from the couch. Shan comes in and has the same reaction. Matter of fact, the kid's like an anti-Shan. "Just let me finish doing what I'm doing," he says. So you do. And well, it's something. You don't know what, but something. The kid leaves, and you play it on the radio, and the lines blow up. Who was that? What was that? And now you get it. And you proceed to replay and remix it over and over for no less than a year.

1/29/24

More Than Friends: "A Variety of Party People in Unity"

"Friends," Jody Watley's hit single with Eric B. & Rakim, is known as the first R&B-rap crossover to achieve commercial success. To my ears, the song skates the lines between those genres and house music. Indeed, like most of Watley's hits, it landed on the Dance charts. The song's video, directed by Jim Sonzero, captures its broad appeal. "The video notably blends b-boys, drag queens, and a variety of party people in unity for a good time capturing a slice of New York nightlife at the time," Watley says. "Fabulous and street in its realness without pandering, being contrived or sending a negative message, certain stereotypes or coonery. Proud." 

That theme also comes out with the aptly titled, club friendly "Friends" Unity mix produced by André Cymone. However, there's another remix that deserves note in the annals of Long Island hip-hop history. I'm talking about the Extended Version, produced by Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, and Paul Shabazz of the Bomb Squad. Shocklee would, of course, later team with Eric B. & Rakim for "Juice (Know the Ledge)," one of the duo's biggest and final hits. But the "Friends" Extended Version is, I believe, the first release on which we can hear Rakim rapping over Bomb Squad production in all its deconstructive kinetic glory. 

Years after Eric B. and Rakim disbanded, the God MC would again collaborate with Watley for the remix to "Off the Hook," the lead single from her 1998 album Flower. The producer of that remix is D-Dot, another name that should be familiar to hip-hop heads, if for very different reasons. By the time "Off the Hook" released, practically every successful R&B album had at least one rap collaboration and vice versa. If "Friends" started the trend, Bad Boy Records' Deric "D-Dot" Angelettie helped to make it the formula for crossover success. While "Off the Hook" might not be as remembered in hip-hop circles, it still managed to hit number-one on the Dance charts. And it also provided Rakim the opportunity to reflect on his prior collaboration with Watley. "At the time, we didn't even realize what was going on," he told MTV News. "I wasn't sure our people was gonna accept it, everybody feeling me like one of the hardcore artists. But then ... it blew up."

One more deep cut while we're on the topic of Jody Watley: Those familiar with her full body of work know that she first rose to stardom as a member of Shalamar. The funk group has been sampled by all manner of rap producers. Whether Eric B. & Rakim ever made use of their records, I can't say. However, I can say that Hempstead rapper True Mathematics' 1988 single "For the Lover in You" is essentially a rap version of the Shalamar's 1980 track "This Is for the Lover In You," and in a final cherry-on-top-kind-of moment for this post, it's produced by none other than Hank Shocklee, Carl Ryder, and Eric Sadler. Hit the playlist below for all the above and then some.

1/28/24

(Completely un)officially licensed Rakim football post

Today is Rakim's 56th birthday. And falling on Sunday this year, it's the beginning of Long Island Rap's 10th (!) annual Rakim week. It's also, I gather, a day of some consequence in football. Below, Rakim, Ed Lover, and former Giants linebacker Carl Banks talk about Rakim's high school football years and the Starter brand among other topics, plus more football-affiliated Rakim content: the "Rice Returns" webisode for All-Pro Football 2K8 and the DJ Z-Trip-produced remix to "Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em" from the game's soundtrack.


 

1/24/24

PlusNone & Marlo DeMore - Imported Diesel


I first heard Marlo DeMore going on 10 years ago. I had just started this site and was searching Soundcloud for music to write about. Lo and behold, here was a rapper living around the way from where I grew up, and he had a show coming up at the pool hall I used to hang out at every weekend. The pool hall I used to hang out at every weekend did rap shows, what? A kid named Theravada also performed. It was a great show. A good time was had by all. Today, Imported Diesel dropped. Also today, I'm married to a beautiful woman who's my best friend and a physicist. We own a house in Lido Beach about a half mile from the Atlantic Ocean. It has a pool, too. All my enemies are dead, truly. 

1/19/24

Nikmoody - "Say It Twice" ft. Marlo DeMore

Most everybody can appreciate art that's so bad it's good, or at least we can all appreciate this being a thing. What now concerns me is the opposite. What about art that's so good it's bad? Not bad as in good, but bad-bad, awful, sucking hard. Today, I watched The Whale and concluded that this too is a thing. The Whale is a brilliant film. Anyone who says they enjoyed watching it is a liar or masochist. The Whale is like The Witch if it were set in a condominium and centered around food and Moby Dick instead of a goat and the devil. The Whale is so good I almost made myself watch Sound of Freedom afterward as a palate cleanser. I'm not saying The Cypher Tape, Nikmoody's album with 50 rappers on it, is so good it's bad. But the thought occurs. Anyway, here's the song with Marlo on it. Nikmoody has an EP called Rabbit's Foot coming January 31. Marlo DeMore has one called Imported Diesel coming January 24 (release party Jan. 26).

1/9/24

KAD - KADZLAB TAPE TWO

From Metal Face Akademy bomb shelter rubble rise a new crop of villainous rabble rousers. There's a Bronx-based self-proclaimed bot acting as such, launching album promotions as daily spam attacks, with no fewer than two more bombardments to come. And now here comes doom legionnaire KAD, riding the drive-in theatre intermission wave to concession stand infamy. Does he get in a few good licks?  Do prison reform programs channel car thieves to tow truck companies?