Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grand Killa Con

So I just blogged about Sacred Hoop's old '94 demo tape getting reissued, but what're they up to these days? Well, as it happens, Luke Sick has a new album out, kinda like Dose One or Kool Keith in the sense where every new project is a new group. Rime Force Most Illin' was him and Rob Rush, Brougham was him and Third Eye Blind, Motel Crew was him, Z-Man and Doug Surreal. Underbucket was him and DJ Eons, Grand Invincible was also him and Eon, Get the Hater was him and The Dwarves, The Disturbers was him and... god knows. Well, this new album, Year Of the Tre Bag, is by him and a producer named Brycon - together they're known as Grand Killa Con.

You may've noticed that a bunch of those groups mentioned above are Luke working with rock artists or other not-strictly-hip-hop types. Happily, that's not the case. This is the first I've heard of Brycon, though I looked him up and apparently he's done a couple tracks for guys like Murs in the past. This is just some regular, underground hip-hop shit; and I mean that in the best possible way. One song ("Cloven Hoof") is like a vintage Saafir track, with Luke rhyming like the nomad (though without biting his unique "chockin'" flow from Boxcar Sessions) and Brycon cooking up that sounds like it was quietly borrowed from The Junction library.

Nothing else here borrows from Saafir, except that it's raw, underground and west coast. Luke is his incomparable self, and Brycon provides a wide variety of hard tracks for him. One beat has big horn samples, another chops a large chunk of an old r&b record including the vocals, and another is all dark and ominous atmosphere with a grumbling bassline. Interestingly, the effect is that album doesn't feel like another Luke Sick side project or group - it feels like his first solo album.

This is a full, fourteen track album. I was disappointed that the original "Hemmed Pt. 1" isn't on here - an advance track they leaked onto Youtube earlier in the year - But there is a "Pt. 2," with new verses over the same, smooth instrumental. And one track here, "Cinderblocks & Cyanide," is labeled as a remix - where was the original? But a fan's desire for completionism [screw you, spell check, I say it IS a word!] aside, this is a super solid, very consistent album. Well... maybe I could've done without one song called "Dynasty Killa" with a shrill instrumental and a guest rapper named Lightbulb; but otherwise this is a very full and rewarding album.

I have a feeling no matter what I write, not many heads will bother to check this one out... one more side project to lose track of by an already criminally slept on MC. But anyone who does is going to be glad they did. Consider it a secret prize for being one of the few in the know. It's the kind of album you can leave on repeat all night. And right now, it seems to only be available as a digital download (here); but I was laced with a CD with proper artwork, which makes me hope that a physical release might be just around the corner, even if it's only some low-key, limited run primarily for the merch tables.

...And if you're wondering, like I was, what about a return of the ACTUAL Sacred Hoop, with Luke Sick on the mic and Vrse on the beats, no more substitutes, I'm pleased to say that I've been told they are recording together again - I even heard a little mp3 advance of a song they were working on. So hang tight, and seriously, don't be afraid to explore Grand Killa Con while you wait.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Let's Talk About This "Symphony 2013"

This video just came out this week; it's apparently from an upcoming PMD EP called New Business. The song's called "Symphony 2013." Let's give it a quick watch so we can discuss it:
Here's my first question, right off the bat: why is this even called "Symphony 2013?" What does this have to do with the original "The Symphony" or any of its sequels, official or not? Firstly, it features none of the same MCs, except for the fact that PMD had already created an unofficial sequel already, EPMD's "Symphony 2000." It's not even the same number of MCs. The concept of "The Symphony" is that you're lining up your all-star MCs. Sure, you might stick an up & comer on there... like Master Ace when MC Shan bails on you at the last second, or letting Truck get on the other "Symphony 2000" with Big Pun, Krs and G Rap.  But, basically the idea is that these are your all-star heavy hitters. And usually, like with "The Cypha (Part 3)," "The Symphony part 2," "Flow On (New Symphony" or "Next Up," you tried to keep as much of that Juice Crew connection as you could.

But there's none of that here. No Juice Crew, and every MC except PMD is an unknown. Also, it isn't the same beat, or instrumentally referential to the original. It's completely unrelated. And there's no "next up" or equivalent hook when passing the mic. Even EPMD's previous "Symphony 2000" held most of these core principles (the "next up" hook, all star MCs). There's honestly no cause to associate this with "The Symphony," other than the fact that there's multiple rappers on it. They might as well have called it "I Got Five On It 2013" or another remix of "U.O.E.N.O." It would be just as arbitrary.

Put, okay. let's push past that. The track isn't terribly exciting, but it's not bad. The video looks alright. PMD's a veteran with some real classics in his track record. But damn, every vibe I get off this video is telling me that this is The Unit all over again:
Even the video is basically the same, minus the dark blue filter.

None of PMD's past crew members/ proteges/ weed carriers are here. No Das EFX, Hit Squaddians, not even K-Solo... Hell, not even Don Fu-Quan. They're all fucking out. This is Team Takeover, the replacements for the replacements.  In fact, wait, did the first guy just call them The Hit Squad? Yes, he did. It's totally The Unit 2.0, clearing out the existing line-up - again! - and starting all over again with random new acts - again! In fact, this is totally "100% Hater Proof 2013." Both songs feature exactly six rappers including their OG team leader, one Jay-Z sound-alike and two white guys. Although thankfully their overly Italian guy doesn't go nearly so overboard as The Unit's did, pairing him up with an extra from The Sopranos and all. Whose insane idea was it to copy this formula? They might as well've ended with a Benzino cameo just to complete the circle.

But I didn't make this post just to bash these guys. Let's give each MC an honest look (in order of appearance):

PMD - kinda has that "I'm an OG; I don't have to spend my time on a creative verse" thing going, but he IS seasoned enough to still come come off respectably while phoning it in. It's a fine opener.

Michael Nixx - is decent. He doesn't have me rushing out to look for solo projects, but he fills a place on a posse cut well enough, with a nice use of the crew name (even if, again, he did say Hit Squad instead of Team Takeover - whoops!).

Joey Battz - is just weaker than Nixx. His persona is hammy, and his verse is corny with a mix of generic filler and that extended Back To the Future reference.

Nam Nitty - Not sure he could stand on his own, but as part of a crew, this guy definitely brings some energy and a nice grimy feel. I could see him providing a good hook on PMD's upcoming EP or something. Whatever vocal effect they put on his voice for that one line makes it totally incomprehensible, though.

Comatoze - Talk about burying the lead! This guy kills it. Forget the PMD EP, give us more Comatoze!

Nymrod - This is the Jay-Z soundalike I mentioned (he even shouts out Brownsville). He starts off alright, but gets strangely lost in a convoluted threat about putting various holes through different parts of a Benz:

"Put a hole in the back of your Benz,
Put a hole in the front of ya speaker,
And the back of ya pants,
Put a hole in the backseat,
That'll put a hole in the back of ya man in the back seat,
Then it'll exit out the front of ya man in the back seat,
Put a hole in the back of the man in the front seat,
That'll exit out the front of the man in the front seat,
Put a hole in the steering wheel,"

It's like, Jesus Christ!  Is this guy still prattling on about holes and rhyming "seat" with "seat?" That one line "put a hole in the front of ya speaker and the back of ya pants" is a little clever. It's not crazy genius, but it's a decent enough line to throw in a verse. But after that, it's like he's gotta be high, right? Like he's totally forgotten what he's supposed to be writing and just gotten lost in the plot of which direction all these holes go. And it's hard to appear gangster when we can all tell you obviously came up with your bars while playing Portals 2 with your buddy at three in the morning.

It reminds me of Eminem's verse on The Outsidaz' "Rush Ya Clique," a song I otherwise love. Remember that whole "I'm so weeded... (How weeded are you?)" where it's like one long, contrived joke with awkward phrasing like "Lauryn, huh? Hill? There's more than one? Eww!" You can tell he really thinks he's doing something mind-blowingly clever, but it's really unfunny because of how forced it is, and irritatingly painful in how long it goes on for. So the whole bit should've been scrapped; it's just embarrassing to listen to; but you just know Em walked out of the booth thinking he killed it and this is the one all the critics will be quoting.

But apparently PMD was more impressed than I was, because I looked on itunes and he featured Nymrod on 3 of the EP's 7 tracks. The only other guy from this song to appear elsewhere on the EP is that Michael Nixx guy on one song. There's also two more new guys (named Enjo and General Stone), but I didn't care enough to listen to any of it. Something tells me PMD didn't even try to make a hot comeback track on this project.

But if Comatoze comes out with something more, I'll check for that.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Latest Release... From GoodFelons?

So, I've already blogged about a couple records that managed to make it out to the people since GoodFelons closed up shop: Kev E Kev, of course, and then Marco Polo. Well, more good news, folks, another GF LP has been rescued and delivered to the public. This time it's the legendary Sacred Hoop, with the vinyl debut of their first album/ demo: the unfortunately titled Runny Poop.

Sacred Hoop's demo was recorded in 1994 and originally released in 1996 (and maybe a bit earlier), on cassette only, through Hoop's own Miasmatic Recordings. This vinyl re-issue was one of the final releases announced by GoodFelons before it all went down; and now Megakut Records has seen it through to completion.

I have to say, this is one nice package for any Hoop fan. Everything's been remastered and sounds great. It still has a small case of muddiness to it, but that's probably down to how it was recorded in the first place. And this new LP also includes a new, bonus instrumental version of the final song "Jedi-Subterranean" that wasn't included on the original tape. So while the OG tape is certainly still an awesome collectors' item for any fan who's got it, this is definitely the preferable, definitive version of the album to own.

If you've never heard it, it's a really dope album. Granted, it's not their best - Luke Sick's voice and flow sounds a little more derivative of other 90s artists than what its since matured into. But a lot of heads buying a 90's reissue like this is probably looking for that raw, throwback feel; so a lot of people might wind up appreciating this album more now than they would've back in the day. And Vrse Murphy's rich production definitely holds up, lots of layers and change-ups that really shine on vinyl.

One odd choice is that they moved the album's final instrumental track (not counting the new bonus one) to the front of the album, so this starts off with an instrumental. I guess they thought two instrumentals back to back would be a bit of a dry run; but having this album open with a vocal-less track, at least to me, pulls a little from the album's punch. Oh well, it's a minor quibble; I just mention it more because it's a strange choice, since the rest of the album remains in sequence.

Anyway, the "nice package" comment doesn't just apply to the actual content of the album, though of course that's where it counts most. The presentation is absolutely first class. It comes in unique, individually hand-screened picture covers AND a full-color inner sleeve. Inside, you'll also find an envelope with a signed note from the both members of the Hoop and, umm... some other weird, random shit, which I'll let you guys discover for yourselves. ha ha The cover has the Goodfelons logo on it, while the actual record label has Megakut's. It's available direct from the label here, and limited to 120 hand-numbered copies (mine is #120), so don't deliberate too long.

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Of the Raw

Dope Folks is back with more of Omniscence's heretofore unreleased album, The Raw Factor. Raw Factors Pt. 2 features three more unheard and remastered tracks from 1995 and '96, replete with the instrumentals on the flip.

Well, when I say "unheard," I mean unheard by all of you. I've actually owned two of the three tracks on my unreleased Omniscence promo tape since the 90s. To save you the intensive labor of clicking that link, here's what I had to say about those songs:

3. "My Main Man" - The first verse of this is featured on the mixtape; but on the tape it's a full song with three verses. It's another smooth track, and has Omniscence reminiscing on his past with his best friend. He's not really doing the punchline thing here (well, he still does a little, with lines like "I remember when I had no status; but you still backed me up like the Pips did Gladys"), but his MCing is still unquestionably nice. It also features some nice scratching on the outro.

6. "When I Make Parole" - This one is a surprise. First of all, for the record, it's not on that mixtape. Secondly, despite having another smooth instrumental, Omni kicks a surprisingly harder flow here, but it actually works. His voice is rougher, he sounds angrier, and his lyrics are definitely more street:

"I'm so incredibly criminal minded;
Puffin' that angel dust got me blinded.
Rush up on the spot with my glock on cock,
Crack rock bustin' out the side of my sock.
Stumblin' up the block,
Yo, I see this devil bitch;
Yeah, just enough to make my trigger finger itch.
'Excuse me, miss,
Do you got the time?'
Smack her in the grill with the steel-piece nine!
Gimme the jewels and the butter-soft leather.
Should I let her live, or should I fuckin' wet 'er?
Click click boom!
Gun shots to her chest;
Situation critical, I'm dippin' to the rest.
Mom duke's flippin' 'bout the rumors:
I'm goin' 'round town, rollin' with my crew, givin' out brain tumors!"

And it's just so awesome now that everybody else finally gets to hear those songs!  And to have them as fresh vinyl copies with their instrumentals to boot.

Of course, for myself, it's the third track that's the most exciting, since that one's completely new to my ears along with the rest of you guys. It's called "Nuff Love" and is a real crowd pleaser. I'm already seeing online responses saying Pt. 2 is even better than the first. It's certainly everything you'd expect from a vintage Omni track: a cool, vibe-heavy (a la "Maintain") instrumental with a mellow shouted (yes, that's a possible combination) chorus. Omni brings plenty of punchlines ("you may be live, but the vandals are much liver; we beat you worse than they did that white truck driver"*), but never crosses the line to schticky.

Actually, "completely new to [our] ears" is a bit of an overstatement.  If you've ever downloaded one of those bootleg Raw Factor mixes online [read my interview with Omniscence for the story behind those], you've heard this track before, paired with the made-up title "Love To the Crews." Of course, that was all hissy and crappy. The sound quality here is far superior; plus again it's on vinyl and comes with the instrumental version.

It goes without saying at this point, as a release from Dope Folks, it's limited to 350 copies and reasonably priced. It should also go without saying that this is an absolute essential for any Omniscence fan, featuring three tracks, all top shelf, released for the first time ever. This is what we've waited all these years for.

*Meaning Reginald Denny, for all you younger heads out there.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Still Up In Newark - Gov Mattic Interview

Gov Mattic interview, conducted by Custodian of Records and edited by myself. This is the second in our series talking to underground NJ artists, following the Scott Lark interview. Yep, there's more to come.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tony D, Redman, Meth, Pace Won and Young Zee

So, I've blogged once or twice before about how the US end of Ruff Life Records dropped the ball on The Outsidaz full-length, leaving all the 12" singles and what-not to their UK division. But they did get one nice 12" out of their doors before closing up shop - or two, strictly speaking. A limited edition (though I don't know just how limited... it doesn't seem to be that rare or hard to find all these years later) double 12" single of "Who You Be," The Outsidaz album cut featuring Redman and Method Man.

These were their big, heavy-hitter guest appearances (and you'll notice, they only let their biggest Outz members on the track, too; no junior members), so I'm not sure why they relegated this song to a limited edition vinyl only release, as opposed to a major single with a music video and what-not.  I guess they expected mix-tape DJs to blow this up a lot more than they did. Plus the record label was dying, so that might've been all they could afford.

Anyway, the first record focuses on the album version. If the song feels like a Redman track with guest stars, as opposed to an Outsidaz song (and it does to me), that's because it's produced by two of Red's regular producers, DJ Twinz (yes, it's really a pair of twins). It's a little soulless, but ultimately a pretty effectively head-nodder with a hook built around each member bigging themselves up. It's got a cool freestyle flow, with the MCs passing the mic back and forth, everyone getting the chance to rhyme more than once, so it doesn't just come off like your "plug in your guest's acapella here" collabo.

Interestingly, it's Pace Won who really shines here. I mean, they're evenly matched enough that fans of any particular artist will probably prefer whichever MC is their favorite.  But Redman seems stuck on juvenile blowjob rhymes, Meth kinda phones it in, just relying on his delivery, and Zee sounds like he's saving his best material for other album tracks with a bunch of obvious (and now dated) movie references. But Pace gives one of his best performances, hard and lyrical, the kinda shit you wish he'd kick more often. Everybody sounds good, though, don't get me wrong. These are pros, and it's evident.

So you get the full break-down, with Clean, LP, Instrumental and A Cappella versions. But, while it's cool that this track sounds like it's ripped right off of a Redman album (because Redman albums are good shit), but there's definitely room for instrumental improvement, especially if this is gonna be a single.

And that's where the second record in this set comes in. It's dedicated to nothing but exclusive remixes of this track. You've got one mix by Ruggedness, a Philly producer who presumably also produced that test press-only "Keep On" remix. It's a little more high energy, but still has that tacky, studio-made feel where all the sounds are clearly computer-generated. Still, it's well done and the fake horns will pull you in despite yourself. It also does a really good job of matching the vocals, punching in around their vocals in a way that shows they definitely custom-made the track for these verses.

The second mix is by Newark underground legend Gov Mattic. This is kind of a weird one. The vocals are sped up a bit so everyone sounds squeaky. This is definitely aimed at clubs, which is strange, because this is not a club song at all. And it's another sample-free artificial sounding beat (except maybe for the actual drums), but that's what club music is, so that fits here. It's well made; I just have a hard time imagining who's the audience for this version.

Finally, we have the Anthony Depula mix. I kinda feel this would've received more attention, at least among collectors and more serious fans, if he'd signed it with his professional name, Tony D. This is the most organic sounding of any of the versions, including the album version. It's built around an ultra-deep bassline thudding drums and an eery string riff in the background. It's still not among Tony's best work... I wonder if everybody working on this project was instructed by the label that they couldn't afford to clear any samples, so don't use 'em. But this mix has a deep underground, street feel; like the kind of shit you find when you dig up a super obscure indie 12" pressed in the mid 90s. A labor of love produced by a bunch of struggling cats with cheap equipment and undiscovered talent.

So, Tony's is the winner for me; but I can't help like feeling the definitive music for this song, the one that could've blown up, was never recorded. Because there's an A Cappella in this set, other producers have tried their hand online. There's a Madlib one floating around out there, which sounds promising on paper; but he doesn't pull it off either.

It comes in a solid black (meaning: without the standard hole cut) sleeve with a sticker cover. Perfect mix or not, this should be a crate staple for any Outsidaz fan.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gee Rock From Jerzee

In 1993, Gee Rock & da CND Coalition released their debut album, a very indie, and now quite collectibly rare, cassette called Straight Outta Jerzee. Since then, Gee Rock has stayed consistently active in the underground scene, If you're not from New Jersey - Hell, even if you are from New Jersey - you've probably only ever come across him if you've been searching up rare, indie hip-hop online. Maybe you've seen somebody requesting rips of his albums on a forum, or come across a random album of his on CDBaby. Well, he's finally caught the attention of "the limited labels;" and twenty years later, his debut album has been repressed, appearing on wax for the very first time.

The production is the star here. Gee Rock is more than passable on the mic, with a high energy flow to match his tracks. He clearly knows his hip-hop and knows what's called for to make some really hot shit. But his voice and lyrics sound a little unrefined; sometimes other members of the Coalition even wind up stealing the show from him.  I think he's honed that aspect of it as career went on; this was, after all, his first tape.

But the point is, he's at least good enough to keep the flow moving without stumbling so you can appreciate the music, which you absolutely wouldn't want to miss. I said "high energy" before, and it absolutely is; but it's still rugged and hardcore. Layers of killer samples, dusty horns, deep bass lines, scratches that blend smoothly into the track. Track after track is a killer. Sometimes you'll recognize a sample - "This Is a Recording" uses the same basic break as a classic Das EFX single, for example - but he gives them all new life by pairing them up with several other records, and his crew adding a totally different flow over it. "It's Like Dat" features a classic break you've heard many times before, but never used the way it is here

And it's a full-length album. As you listen to it, you keep thinking, "well, the rest of the tracks can't be as good as that first one." Then a few more tracks in, "they must've blown their load by now!" But no, from beginning to end, every track is a monster. It's almost overkill. Most artists, if they were capable of producing something so dope in the first place, would've filled up an EP and declared victory. But this album just keeps going.  There's so much you won't even be able to fully appreciate everything until you've put in a lot of time with this album. With a lot of albums, the first listen is the most compelling and after that you start to recognize the weak spots until your interest shifts to other albums. This album's the opposite; you won't even know what you've got on your hands after the first listen.

Almost as interesting as the record itself is the aforementioned "limited label" that's issued this. We've got a new player in town, Heavy Jewelz Records. It's either owned or co-owned by Verge, of The TROY Blog, and who you've probably spotted in the comments section here. I remember saying years ago that I'd love to be able to support their stuff if they ever shift from posting rips of other labels' records to putting out wax themselves, and now I finally can. And happily, both musically and in terms of presentation, this is the kind of top quality release any TROY reader knew they were capable of.

The sound quality is pretty great. It's sourced from an original cassette, as the masters are long lost; but it sounds like they've cleaned it up and remastered it a little. It comes in a sticker cover (and my copy at least came with extra stickers), and is limited to 300 copies - 100 on a caramel swirl colored wax, and the rest pressed on classic black. And for a limited release, they're basically priced the same as any new LP - $25. I definitely recommend copping this one before they disappear (their site is here); and I'm quite interested to see what they come up with next.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Return To Killer Queens

Chopped Herring just delivered a trip back through time on my doorstep. Their latest release takes it back to the heyday of killer Queens, back when the Intelligent Hoodlum became Tragedy Khadafi, Nas and AZ were hip-hop's leading pop stars, Mobb Deep had the industry shook and CNN were shooting up out of the underground, and it was quickly being refilled by everyone from Screwball to Mic G and Bee Why. Yeah, they've gone ahead and resurrected The Killa Kidz, best know for being Queens legend Killa Sha's original group back when he was still known as Prince AD.

This is The 1996-1997 Phenomenon EP, and it's pretty terrific. First of all, it represses the Kidz' rare 12", "'96 Phenomenon" b/w "Time 2 Shine," one of the illest, rawest examples of classic Queensbridge criminology that can stand up alongside the best of any of the artists listed above. It's very rare and highly sought after, so just getting that repressed by itself would be more than enough reason for me to highly recommend the new record.

But that's literally not the half of it. Because, besides those two songs, this EP also includes four never before released Killa Kidz tracks from the same period. And all four of the unheard tracks are just as tight as famous ones. The production is tight, but the kids are fierce on the mic, and that's what really sets them apart from so many other MCs coming from Queens or anyplace else.

Make no mistake, the Kidz are genuinely young and they sound it. But this isn't any Kriss-Kross/ "Booty Pop" novelty kid act. They belie their age Special Ed did on his first record, a n adult-level artistic achievement... legit music by younger artists. It's like The Super Kids round two. Their not having their strings pulled by some cynical cigar-chomping manager out to make a quick cash grab; in fact Sha produced all their tracks himself (and he did the cuts, too).

Look, I'll come clean.  Back when the Kidz first came out, I didn't check for their 12".  I was burnt out on the whole Queens style. Everybody was doing it, even The Wu-Tang Clan were going that way with Raekwon's classic debut (though he's from Brooklyn, of course). It was non-stop on Hot 97, The Source mag and everywhere else. They took over the whole east coast, and there was a time I decided I was done with it. I got all of CNN's opening singles ("LA, LA," "TONY"), but then passed on their album. Every Queens group seemed to have three or four similar-sounding proteges. And I turned towards the west coast 4-track movement and there was certainly no shortage of other incredible ground-breaking material to relish instead.

But I've since gone back and realized I'd been shutting myself off from some incredible material (and yes, I've gone back and picked up The War Report). Queens blew up for a reason. And if you did the same thing, this is the perfect record to bring yourself back. It's not one of those "it's from Queens but sounds nothing like Queensbridge artists of that era" groups. This is quintessential Queens that shows just how awesome they were.

It sucks that the Kidz only released on 12" and that Sha never lived to see his star rise as high as it should have. But the material is finally here now. And of course, Chopped Herring has given first class treatment... Limited to 300 copies, with 75 pressed on mixed white (white) and yellow (yellow) vinyl, 75 on black, white (white) and purple and the rest on traditional black. And all in a sticker cover. Cop it; it's great.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Nice Underground Shit

Sometimes it's cool to just dig out a nice, underground 12", isn't it? Just some random artist you've never heard of, drop the needle on the record, and thank goodness it doesn't suck. Let it play through, and slowly realize this is nice... solid production, good flow, decent lyrics. The guy doesn't have to be your next favorite rapper, setting the streets on fire and breaking new ground. Just a good quality antidote to whatever nonsense is playing on the radio or being paraded across TMZ.

Here's one. An EP by a guy called Sef the X-Cutioner, entitled Evian on Flowasis Records (apparently a one-off label) from 2001. Yeah, 2001 is a bit newer than your average "random rap" head usually checks for, and is a dangerous period for finding disappointment; but this it pays off.

Dude is from Chicago. He's got production from The Molemen and Opus of Rubberroom. He seems pretty connected to have a single release career, but googling around and his only other credit seems to be a track on a Chicago mixtape from Mass Hysteria a couple years later. He also has a myspace. There's no info left there anymore, thanks to the incredibly wasteful myspace purge earlier this year, but he has another EP's worth of songs on there from 2008, called Sophisticated Street Shit. That's not as good, though.

This EP, on the other hand, is nice. He's got a very deep Rockness Monstah-like voice, and a penchant for slightly complex (nothing too mind-bending) battle rhymes with a rugged street edge: "Make no mistake in ya/ Savage lyrically rapin' ya/ Mom heads straight for ya/ When she sees the crime tape on ya/ Breakin' ya in half/ Last laugh goes to Sef." Imagine a smoother, less chaotic Saafir. The production's simple but effective headnodder stuff - you know how The Molemen do. And Opus injects some extra atmosphere for his part. Tracks like "Medevil[sic.]" and "The Realness" will definitely having you go back for seconds, while "The Struggle" rounds out the package with some lyrical some substance. And at just five songs (plus a Clean version of the opener), it's lean and consistent.

This was released on both vinyl and CD (maybe cassette, too?), and it's easy to find online if you want some heat without breaking open the piggy bank.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Scott Lark and I

Hey, guys!  If you haven't been following my twitter lately, you've been missing out on some stuff...

First of all, check out this video interview with NJ MC Scott Lark. He had an album on Contract Recordings produced by Tony D in 1996. The interview was shot and conducted by producer The Custodian of Records, and edited by myself.  =)

And that's just the first of several interviews with some of Jersey's deepest underground heads. The rest have been shot, and I'm starting to edit #2 now, so stay tuned.

Also, I've announced a short film I wrote, produced and directed called Rap 'N' Reno, a short (25 minutes) hip-hop documentary that's premiering this weekend at the New Jersey Film Festival. Specifically, it's on Sunday at 8PM in New Brunswick. I'll also be speaking, so drop by if you're in the area. Check out their site for details. Here's a little video interview I did for EBTV about it:

And here are some articles featuring interviews with me about my film and the fest: The Sentinel, Trim Magazine, The Home News Tribune, The Daily Targum and The Asbury Park Press. Hope to see you there!