Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Return Of...AKA Dartflix Edition #14

I just saw the new Transformers trailer and I must say I wasn’t realy impressed. The Transformers don’t look that great to me...cuz they don’t look shit like they’re supposed to. Of course, to a person who grew up playing with them I’ll feel different from the kids that’ll be occupying the seats and marvelling at the special effects. I’d rather watch “Transformers: The Movie” myself...even though my favorite Autobots were blown to hell by Megatron (and some of my favorite Decepticons by Optimus Prime, but I digress), I’d rather see it in animated form. The CGI effects are well and good, but if the end result is something that doesn’t look shit like what it’s supposed to then who in the hell cares?

The Luke Cage project is awaiting a script rewrite and I hope that the screenwriter Killa Ramsey was a “Hero For Hire”/”Power Man And Iron Fist” fan growing up so I at least recognize something of the character I grew up reading (all except his wack ass catchphrase “Sweet Christmas!”..bury that shit!). Hopefully, if this project is successful we’ll see a new resurgence of Black hero movies. Maybe we’ll see the Black Panther project emerge from development limbo (and Wesley Snipes and Amen Ra Films get out of trouble with the IRS) and how about a film about the original Captain America? Who knows? All I know is that I’d like to write one of ‘em. I apologize for not being able to write on of these for the longest. If I can fix my computer issues and not have to negotiate borrowing other folks gear just to get my write on, I’ll get back to doing these regularly (and maybe get back to uploading rare CD’s). Now, on to the top trailers I’ve selected for upcoming flicks.

Dart’s Top Ten Trailers Of The Month (4/3/07-4/30/07):

D.O.A.: Dead Or Alive

Day Watch

Fay Grim

The Tripper


The Assassination Of Jesse James...

Wind Chill

28 Weeks Later

Day Night Day Night


Movies you should consider seeing available to rent through Netflix:
Smokin’ Aces
Last King Of Scotland
Young and Dangerous
Young and Dangerous: The Prequel
Beowulf & Grendel
Kill Zone
The U.S. Vs. John Lennon
Notes On A Scandal
Pan’s Labyrinth
Maxed Out
Deja Vu
Urgh! A Music War
The Last Waltz
Home Of The Brave
For Your Consideration
Casino Royale
Flags Of Our Fathers
The Upright Citizens Brigade
Letters From Iwo Jima
Stranger Than Fiction
Seraphim Falls
The Devil & Daniel Johnston
Larry Sanders Show: The Complete First Season
Not Just The Best Of The Larry Sanders Show
La Haine (The Criterion Edition)
The Queen
Alpha Dog
Little Children
See No Evil
The Number 23
The Aura

Dart’s Picks:
The Devil & Daniel Johnston- This documentary about the life of a genius artist/singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston is better than most documentaries because the subject himself recorded his entire life because he always thought he’d be famous. Just when he was on the brink of stardom, he developed mental problems that prevented him from achieving his dreams. He became an underground/cult phenomenon during the early to mid 90’s and he still records and tours to this day. I was surprised to hear one of his songs “Devil Town” covered on the season finale of NBC’s series “Friday Night Lights”...this doc is bugged out and it uses a lot of Johnston’s own footage.

Stranger Than Fiction- I’m one of those people that watches movies with the subtitles on so I don’t miss any lines of dialogue. I love movies like this because it’s almost like having a screenwriter show you how they wrote their material and you get to watch as they deconstruct the entire writing process (and break all of the rules of it) right there on the screen (just like in Adaptation). It was almost like Dustin Hoffman was reprising his role from “I Heart Huckabees”...Watch this joint.

Pusher 2: Blood On My Hands- This sequel to Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Pusher” flick got even grimier. It’s not about the glamorous side of being a dealer, but the dirty, seedy underbelly of the drug trade. Only one deal goes down in the entire flick, but the fall out is ridiculous. I’ll post a review of “Pusher 3: Blood On My Hands” later. You’ll appreciate them more if you watch them back to back to back.

Smokin’ Aces- The last American action movie since “Running Scared” to convince me that quality action films can still be be made on this soil. There were some holes in the story, but that’s to be expected out of a popcorn flick designed specifically to get asses on the seats. I liked it.

Kill Zone- Yet another Asian actioner that spent a lot of time in my DVD player...I would’ve included “Dragon Tiger Gate” but it’s not available on gotta cop that one for yourself (use the list of sites I posted in my Martial Arts Edition of Dartflix to save cash).

Dart’s WTF/Watch This Bullshit At Your Own Risk Award:
Freedom Writers- I know it’s based on a true story but if you’ve seen “Stand & Deliver”, “Dangerous Minds”, “Lean On Me” and “Take The Lead” then just smash them all together and you have “Freedom Writers” (minus the ballroom dancing).


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sox Up, Yanks Down

The Red Sox have won four straight against the hated Evil Empire and are dominating them and the AL East in every way possible. Joe Torre's head is on the chopping block due to his mismanagement of the bullpen and pitching staff (on the bright side, A Rod's having a GREAT year! LOL) and the Yankees are looking downright terrible as they are in the midst of a seven game losing streak. Karstens just took one right off the knee from Julio Lugo as I write this. As a lifelong Red Sox fan I have to say that I am loving every minute of this and deriving a lot of pleasure from the Yankees pain and suffering. Hold up, the head trainers on the mound? They're pulling Karstens for Kei Igawa? Say Word! I gotta watch this and stop bloggin' right this minute. How much worse can things possibly get for the Yankees? The Red Dox are currently 15-7 and the lowly Yankees are 8-13. In the immortal words of Sean Combs "Take that!" "Take that!" *Starts dancing on the grave of the Evil Empire while Igawa warms up*

Well, the Sox ended up dropping that game 3-1 due to the fact that Kei Igawa pitched his ass off and the Yankees bullpen successfully kept the Sox from getting on track...there's a first time for everything and even a broken clock is right twice a day. On Sunday, the Sox get another chance the put a foot in the collective ass of the pinstriped Evil Empire's squad and their bloated contracts. In the end, the Boston Red Sox continued their supremacy of the AL East and the Yankees by taking the game 7-4 behind HR's by Alex Cora and Boston's Latino version of the Thunder Twins David "Big Papi" Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The 5th starter Julian Tavarez held his own against the vaunted Yankees lineup (and we're getting John Lester back soon! The rich get richer!).

The Red Sox have now taken 5 out of 6 from their hated rivals with 12 mores game to go (but the Sox need 5 more!) in the season series of what is far and away the biggest rivalry in all of sports history. In unrelated news, the Patriots just acquired Randy Moss from Oakland for a 4th Round pick (#110) in the NFL Draft! If we get the 1st pick in the 2007 NBA Draft it's a wrap! (Expect a blog on why the Celtics deserve it coming later).


Friday, April 27, 2007

Check The Fine Print AKA What Us Old Hip Hop Heads Learned (And Never Forgot) From Reading Liner Notes

Like most other 70’s and early 80’s babies, I grew up listening to my parents’ records (No! Not another one!). I marvelled at the fact that adults seemed to read and memorize the liner notes to damn near every important record they owned and retain every detail contained therein (to which seemed like all of them). It was bugged out to watch old drunk brown people with varying accents at every family reunion or house party get into arguments about what seemed like trivial shit to us kids. For instance, who accompanied David T. Walker on his “Goin’ Up” LP? Or what group recorded some obscure ass soul song or who did it first or better. “So and so never recorded for Invictus Records!” “He was on Volt, fool!” "That girl never recorded no albums on Chess!" etc.

We used to laugh our asses off at our parents, cousins, uncles and their friends from the back room with the TV (this was where the kids were always remanded to while the adults “partied” was the 70’s, y’all)...that is, until we were trotted out to settle an argument or perform some talent for the assembled partygoers to gawk at. Then they’d pull out old Blues or Soul records to play. I noticed that the most serious debates came in regards to Jazz albums, cats would start calling around to their friends to see if they had the album that was being argued about...sometimes it took weeks to settle. What is it about this music that they feel the need to argue over it so intensely? I thought to myself...I don’t ask that question anymore.

I was always amused that on the Cosby Show when Cliff and Clair Huxtable had a dispute over who recorded what tune on what label...They always managed to be calm and civil and nary a drop of alcohol was involved (I know it was TV but, seriously). I didn’t get how that was possible that two people can argue over details of an old Blues/Jazz/Soul/R & B record and not raise their voices at all. Even after it was found out that Claire was right (was that chick EVER wrong about anything ever?) she didn't feel the need to rub it in Cliff face either. Nothing like the "I TOLD your stupid ass you was wrong!" I was used to hearing when people usually won a music bet.

People felt such an attachment to the music they loved that they knew everything about who was involved in the creation of it, where it was recorded and when. This love of music and the drive to learn everything about the creation of the music I loved was passed on to me through my family. By the time I was 6, I knew more about Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, The Intruders, The Delfonics, Etta James, Brooke Benton, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Chairmen Of The Board, and the Ohio Players then any other kid onmy block. The other kids on my block, however didn’t give a fuck and were largely unimpressed with my encyclopedic knowledge of Buddha, Stax or Strata East Records releases, they just wanted me to play some kickball...and shut the hell up about Archie Bell and The Drells and kick the goddamn ball hard as I could when it was rolled to me by the kid with the Battlestar Galactica iron-on on his shirt and karate shoes.

By the time Hip Hop albums started actually coming out regularly, my focus solely on old records had come to an end. I was more interested in the new Rap records that my big brother and his friends were buying and listening to. Everytime someone showed up with a new record I remember reading the sleeve and flipping it over to read every damn word printed on it. It was as close to the cats on the record that I’d get as a 9 year old. Now I had to listen to the record back and forth trying to catch every little thing that happened and soak it all in. It used to kill me that I started hearing parts of the old records I grew up listening to (that the adults still argued about) on these new rap records. I began learning all of the names of people and places that constantly appeared on these LP’s and cassettes and CD’s over the years until they filled my head along with the names and dates and places that were in my own textbooks at school:

Noun- Refers to a person, place or thing. Examples: Suekwon, Cheif Groovey Lew, Herb Powers, Paul McKasty, Eddie Sancho, Pumpkin “The King Of Beats”, Kurtis Mantronik, Dave “Funken” Klein, Bill Adler, Cey “Cey City” Adams, Daniel Hastings, Mr. Dave, Andre “The Record Lord” DeBourg, Sylvia Rhone, Omega The Heart Breaker, Geeby Dajani, Skeff Anslem, Faith Newman and Ivan “DJ Doc” Rodriguez are all people. Studio 1212, Frankford/Wayne, MasterDisk, Chung King House Of Metal, Libra Digital Studios, Battery Studios, House Of Hiits, Power Play Studios, Rampant Recording Studios, Calliope Studios, Unique Studios, and D & D Studios are all places. The Linn Drum, Fairlight CMI, Roland TR 808, Technics SL 1200 MKII, Akai MPC 60, E- Mu SP12, E-Mu SP1200, Ensoniq EPS 16, Ensoniq ASR 10, Alesis SR16 and Akai MPC 2000 are all things. All of the above are considered nouns. By the end of the first Golden Era of Hip Hop I had enough people, places, things and dates committed to memory that I needed an outlet to use it.

The problem was that I couldn’t share it with any kids my own age. I had to talk Hip Hop with the older kids, namely my big brother’s friends...thing was that they were usually between 4-6 years older than me. Apparently, there were a lot of things that happened in these songs that flew right over my head as a kid...for instance, what the hell is this “cheeba” that Schooly D kept going on about? What beef does the Hilltop Hustlers have with the Juice Crew? This was all information that the average 11 or 12 year old just wasn’t privy to. I got put on the all of the adult subject matter, nuances, metaphors, similes and double entendres my young ass couldn’t fully grasp at the time. My understanding began to grow by leaps and bounds. I stayed reading those liner notes in my tapes for any extra information I could find.

I began having my first in depth critical Hip Hop/Rap discussions/debates with these sameolder kids. There weren’t many magazines that seriously tackled the subject of Hip Hop or Rap music at the time, either. Occasionally, Right On! or Black Beat would have a vanity or puff piece that was only good for a color poster for your wall as no real information could be gleaned from them. All of that came from the occasional rap review that was printed in mainstream publications (that rarely, if ever understood the music they were reviewing). It wasn’t until years later that any publications were created that covered and wrote critically about Rap music or Hip Hop culture.

By that time my classmates had caught up to where my head was at and we started having heated debates about stuff like how “Critical Beatdown” influenced the sound of “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” , Finesse & Synquis were better than Salt N’ Pepa and which emcee was the greatest? Rakim, KRS One, Big Daddy Kane or Kool G Rap? Discussions such as these involved a lot of reciting lyrics, breaking down album tracks, and doing detailed autopsies of every element involved in the creation of said tracks (a la I beagn to slowly understand why my relatives and their friends would have these marathon debates about 20 year old records...these albums were new and look at me!

Once the activity of sampling became an issue and they had to be cleared, get permission and then print any interpolations aor usage of other original compostions in the albums liner notes circa 1990/1. In other words, once the sample sources got revealed the game got real once again. People would rush out to get those records whose names were printed in those hip hop album liner notes. Songs like Cymande’s “Bra”, The Emotions “Blind Alley” and Bob James’ “Nautilus” were now sought out by casual music fans and people began searching for recordings by artists like Dyke & The Blazers, Brass Construction, Galt McDermot, The Winstons, 9th Creation, John Klemmer and Bob James all because their favorite hip hop producers/groups used them in songs. The copyright laws and rigid sampling and clearance rules did affect the music, but producers just had to improvise and create new production techniques. Readers of liner notes now had a new element added to the ritual of buying an album and poring over the text contained in the panels of the tapes packaging.

I have random shoutouts from obscure albums made 15 years old ago committed to memory to this day but I can’t find stuff I used yesterday in my own kitchen. I remember looking forward to each BDP album to figure out who was officially down the BDP crew according to Kris this year. I miss seeing the names of my favorite emcees publishing companies so much of the years that I memorized them. Names of people that did the art direction for the albums and took the pictures, names of various A & R’s and record excecutives through the years at different labels are all part of my collection of esoteric wisdom. If it wasn’t for my jobs at records store in the past or books like Ego Trip’s Big Book Of Rap Lists I’d feel like all of this knowledge was for naught and I’d have no hope of using it ever. The closest I came to that feeling I used to have then now is reading a new article on (chock full of the names I learned from years of reading liner notes). Besides, the digital age has made the whole liner notes experience moot now.

Now I’m an adult and I’m one of those sad bastards arguing with someone else about Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich’s “Dust To Dust” LP being damn near classic and that Cage was the guest on “Rich, Bring ‘Em Back” but his name was Benz back then. Then I break out the CD and bring up an old Cage interview from the depths of the internet to further hammer home the point that I’m right...Now just if there could be a Hip Hop Edition of Jeopardy (or if I could get a job writing questions for it) so I could make some money off of knowing any of this shit!. One

This blog was written and posted TODAY by me for my blog series Poisonous Paragraphs.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Industry Rule #4080: Record Company People Are Shady! AKA What Are Big Red's Office Hours?

There is an old saying in the rap industry "Rap is a young man's sport". Some people probably think it's because of marketing purposes, and related matters...nope. It's because the younger and more inexperienced you are in regards to the industry, the EASIER you can get jerked and the more you can be exploited!

Artists have been getting robbed blind, taken advantage of (financially), mismanaged, and stuck in bad contracts since day one. I will begin at the beginning and jump around through the early years of the rap industry and chronicle some of the little known to the most notorious fleecings in hip hop history.

Let's start with two of the first and most successful labels in the early history of rap industry, Sugar Hill and Enjoy Records. They both had a lot in common, both used to be successful Soul/R&B labels in the 50's and 60's . They also both were run by families last named Robinson. Lastly, they both had label heads that became convinced by their children to begin recording rappers.

In the early days of hip hop, all of the elite crews back then did parties and park jams. The DJ's were the star of the show and the emcees were merely there to hype up the crowd while the DJ rocked and recite some rhymes that very often celebrated the skill and quickness of the DJ. Sylvia Robinson at Sugar Hill Records and Bobby Robinson at Enjoy Records knew that same dynamic wouldn't work on record, they both went out to scout for talent to record.

We've all heard the story about how the Sugar Hill Gang, the "crew" behind the first rap hit "Rapper's Delight" was prefabricated and how some of the classic rhymes they recorded weren't even theirs, but it goes so much deeper than that. With the recording of "Rapper's Delight", Sugar Hill had in effect, created the rap industry. The success of "Rapper's Delight" made it so that they had become the premier label for rappers and rap crews to go to if they wanted to record.

Oddly enough, even tp this very day there are NO inconclusive records on how many units of "Rapper's Delight" have actually been sold to this date. If you follow logic, it should have been easily the first rap record RIAA certified Gold and then Platinum back in wasn't. Why not? We'll get to that later.

It's also crazy how Grandmaster Caz has managed to receive NO writer royalties to this very day for his lyrical contributions to that same hit. Of course, old school heads will tell you, he wasn't the only one who should receive a kick down as somewhere between 4 and 6 other emcees claim to have lines recited by the Sugar Hill Gang in "Rapper's Delight".

In those days, the only way to hear emcees rhymes was to either attend a throwdown a crew was having or buy a tape of the event. Some fans knew several of the rhymes spit on the full version on "Rapper's Delight" ALREADY. That wouldn't stand up in court as none of these emcees had publishing or even any legal rights to their own material at the time...Sugar Hill and Enjoy took full advantage of the situation.

Enjoy Records was run by Bobby Robinson, his nephew was an up and coming rapper (that became rap pioneer Spoonie Gee) as was his son and they introduced him to Hip Hop and Rap music. Bobby Robinson then went out to different parties, jams and clubs to scout talent. He was the first to sign some of the best crews on the scene, including Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Treacherous 3, The Funky Four Plus One, and The Fearless Four.

He signed The Furious Five to a contract on the hood of a car for $6,000 ($1,200 each didn't sign because he was still a minor), he went on to record the classic hot selling single "Superappin'" with them as well as "Superappin' 2". Of course, the Furious Five blew their money on mopeds, clothes and jewelry thinking more was wasn't. Bobby Robinson never paid them again.

The Furious Five chased Robinson all over town trying to get the residuals he originally promised them. Never happened. No one knows exactly how many units the Furious Five's classic singles sold on Enjoy Records. Ultimately, Sugar Hill Records came in and signed Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five again for $6,000 ($1,000 for each member as each of them were now of legal age) and Sylvia Robinson paid $10,000 to Bobby Robinson to buy out their contract from Enjoy Records.

Mind you, that Bobby Robinson had licensing and publishing rights to all of the material the Furious Five recorded with him and still saw monies from the sales and residuals of those recordings. Sugar Hill signed to to big boy on the block, but they were about to learn an invaluable lesson about how the music industry worked.

In NONE of these signings did the Furious Five have a lawyer look over these contracts, even though their families advised them to. This was due to several factors: First, they wanted to be the first legitimate group to sign a record deal and have their song on the radio because they were sick of the Sugar Hill Gang getting so much notoriety.

Secondly, they were promised more money than they'd ever seen at once for an advance (they received $1,200 each for their first advance...they were paid approximately between $50-75 per the math) and there was a promise of more to come, being that they were one of the hottest crews in Hip Hop and the Sugar Hill Gang were nobodies they were SURE they'd make a lot of money.

They were all hovering around age 18 at the time of both signings and they knew nothing about publishing, royalties, residuals OR having creative control of the material they recorded. All of these things came back to bite the Furious Five in the ass later. Considering that had been used to getting jerked (and even Deebo'd once when they decided to seek a better deal with DJ Charlie Chase) by their former manager Ray Chandler at Black Door Productions they should've caught on, but that is another matter entirely.

The Funky Four Plus One were an even younger group that went the same route as the Furious Five. Difference was that they did parties and got paid even less because they had two DJ's, DJ Baron and DJ Breakout and their manager made sure that they put the majority of the money into the maintenance of their massive sound system and personal security, the Brothers and Sisters Disco.

Being that Bobby Robinson signed Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five BEHIND their managers (Ray Chandler & Black Door Productions) backs by offering some poor kids cash, he knew he could easily do the same with them.

When Bobby Robinson approached the Funky Four Plus One, they knew him as the man who had made hits with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five so they were more than willing to record with him. He used their lack of knowledge of the industry against them and signed them for $3,000 dollars (HALF of what he what he signed the Furious Five for) or $600 each. Keep in mind that they each saw about $25-$30 per party and they also hovered around 18 at the time of their signing and their youngest member was in the 10th grade. They received the equivalent of more than 20 shows pay at once to record with Enjoy.

The Funky Four Plus One were signed by Enjoy but NOT their famous DJ's or manager who were completely cut out of the deal. They recorded with a band provided by Bobby Robinson and recorded the incredibly successful single "Rappin' and Rockin' The House". Once again, I can't exactly tell you how many units Enjoy Records moved of that single but I CAN tell you one thing...They never received any more money from Bobby Robinson. Guess what ended up happening next? Sylvia Robinson and Sugar Hill Records came along to buy out their contracts.

The difference being that this time Sugar Hill Records decided to tie up loose ends by compensating all parties involved with the Funky Four Plus One. DJ's Baron and Breakout and Jazzy Dee were all incredibly pissed off by the Funky Four Plus One's defection. Bobby Robinson had successfully managed to break up the group by waving more money than they'd ever seen in their lives in front of them.

Sugar Hill Records found out that they stood to make a LOT of money off the group based off of estimates of their previous sales (which, as I mentioned before, NO ONE can confirm) , their live stage show and street buzz. Sylvia Robinson made a huge deal for them for a total of $50,000.

The breakdown went like this: $10,000 off the top went to buy out their contract with Bobby Robinson and Enjoy Records. $40,000 was split 8 ways to pay the Funky Four Plus One, DJ's Baron and Breakout and their management (Jazzy Dee). They each received $5,000 for their troubles...this was a lot of money to some previously broke teenagers in 1980.

However, this deal meant that not only did Bobby Robinson own rights to the early recordings of both Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five AND The Funky Four Plus One but he also held the publishing and licensing rights to these songs. He was seeing the residual monies for the sales of these hits and he could sell them to other companies for usage. He later repeated this process with The Treacherous Three after they recorded the hits "The New Rap Language/Love Rap", "Body Rock" and "Feel The Heartbeat" and sold them to Sugar Hill as well.

As for Sugar Hill Records, they were also a hit factory...just a much bigger one. The signing of the Funky Four Plus One meant that they had no publishing, no mechanical rights, no creative control so they couldn't pick their own music or material and DJ..s Baron and Breakout were PAID OFF. They did, off course hire them as their tour DJ's for shows but they sometimes performed to a tape as Sugar Hill put them on the road and had them play in front of any and every crowd they could.

Even crazier was that at this time there were no official Rap/Hip Hop charts. They often showed up in the Soul/R&B charts but Urban Music as a genre was in it..s infancy. With no accurate way to track sales of rap singles, Enjoy and Sugar Hill took full advantage of this situation. They bootlegged their own product, took ownership of the publishing and pocketed the money.

There was no concrete evidence of these under the table dealings, even though every one in the industry KNEW it was happening. The artists were completely oblivious. They were just happy that their songs were on the radio and they got to perform their hits in clubs all across the country.

The Funky Four Plus One joined Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five as yet another cash cow for Sugar Hill Records, who booked them on nonstop promotional tours. No one knows exactly how many records they sold for Sugar Hill, but they ultimately became so popular to the crossover audiences they performed in front of that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie invited them as their guests when they were booked to perform on Saturday Night Live.

The Funky Four Plus One became the first rap group to perform on national television back in 1980 (Where's their check?). The response was tremendous afterwards and Sugar Hill Records began caking off something terrible...exactly how much? Nobody knows. LOL.

By 1984, newer independents joined the fray such as Profile Records, Tommy Boy Records, Tin Pan Apple, Jive and Def Jam. After years of being jerked by Sugar Hill Records a lot of the old crews either broke up out of frustration or did whatever they had to do to get out of their Sugar Hill contracts.

Many of the songs recorded by the artists at Sugar Hill weren't even their choice! Sylvia Robinson and her son Joey usually dictated not only what songs they'd record but they'd have final say in the music as well. On the label credits you often saw S. Robinson on the writer line under the song and the songs were produced by Sylvia Inc.

There were instances were they'd sign a group (like the Crash Crew and Treacherous Three) strictly because they were competition to the acts on Sugar Hill and to take them out of the game.

On top of that, when a song became a hit on Sugar Hill, the only people that got rich were Sylvia and Joey Robinson. "The Message", "White Lines", "Freedom" and several other classics that The Furious Five are known for are on several compilations yearly. That money all goes to the Robinson family, all F5 could do then/can do now is collect show money.

Don't think that after the Robinsons (no relation) at Enjoy and Sugar Hill Records runs ended that artists stopped getting jerked. Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew signed a deal with Danya/Reality Records back in 1985 and it took him until 1991 to get out of it...even though by then he was the last act left on the label!

He endured years in court trying to get out of a contract he signed as a teen that screwed him out of his publishing and residuals, he eventually won the case and signed with MC Hammer's Capitol Records imprint Bust It Records...damn, didn't he learn anything!

B Boy Records screwed over Boogie Down Productions by underpaying them royalties and residuals as well as releasing unauthorized recordings made by them to capitalize on their hit album "Criminal Minded". Ultimately, BDP signed with Jive Records where they also got screwed, but to a much lesser degree. Fresh/Sleeping Bag Records had an impressive roster during the mid to late 80's (EPMD, Nice & Smooth, Stezo, T La Rock, Just Ice), too bad they didn't bother to PAY any of them.

It was well known that EPMD went Gold with their first two LP's...since they wrote AND produced those albums themselves they should've seen a lot more money. Just Ice STILL doesn't know how many units his albums officially sold...but he knows he was owed more royalties and that he never saw a plaque that he should have from the RIAA!

EPMD and Nice & Smooth were eventually bought out of their contracts on Fresh Records and brought over to Def Jam in 1990 after years of getting jerked by their incompetent label. Tommy Boy Records' Tom Silver is famous for signing and dropping artists as well as years of numerous shady business practices. The end result? Tommy Boy has one of the greatest catalogues in Hip Hop history and the can make compilations and cake off of them as well as sell/license individual recordings to other labels.

One of the most notorious labels when it came to mismanaging and jerking artists was Wild Pitch Records. Stu Fine is still reviled by his former artists to this day, they were once home to artists like Chill Rob G, GangStarr, Main Source, The UMC's, and The Ultramagnetic MC's.

While these artists made numerous hits and classics, they saw very little monetary compensation for their work, forcing acts like Chill Rob G to quit the game entirely rather than continue recording for them and GangStarr to get EMI/Chrysalis to buy them out their contracts with Wild Pitch entirely.

Not only did labels screw the artists but in some cases management, lawyers, producers, A & R's (ask Kwest Tha Madd Ladd) and even fellow crew members tried to snatch funds from the other's noses. Some other notable cases of "Get yo hand outta my pocket, nigga!" include Salt N' Pepa when they found out what publishing and production royalties were the day they went to get paid and noticed that Kwame came out of the office with three checks instead of just one like each of them.

They of course, were curious and asked Kwame how come his 17 year old ass got so many checks while they only got one, and he explained why. Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor's life was never the same after that day because Salt N' Pepa wanted to write their own rhymes and start producing some of their material as well as have creative control. They still moved units but Hurby never caked up off of them like he did in the past.

Erick Sermon finally realized that Paricken Music, Shuma Management and executive producer credits for Parrish Smith meant that PMD got to drive to the studio in a Lamborghini while E Double was whipping around in the same joint he had on the cover of "Unfinished Business". In this particular case, Erick told Parrish that he wanted to focus on music and Parish should handle the business...Big fuckin' mistake.

This meant that even when Erick made a beat by himself they BOTH got publishing rights from it. On top of that, the entire Hit Squad (K Solo, Redman & Das Efx) was managed by Parrish so he saw 10% of all of their earnings AND he executive produced all of their projects (Mo.. money! Mo.. money!). You all know the saw the Beef DVD.

Main Source broke up when Large Professor wasn't seeing his proper publishing for his writing and production on their "Breaking Atoms" LP. It turns out that Main Source's manager was K Cut and Sir Scratch's mother and she was holding back on LP's cut of the I'm sure you know, if you mess with someone's money, you mess with their emotions.

Large Pro bounced just to get jerked by Geffen Records for years before they ultimately dropped him. Main Source tried to continue with Mikey D and their manager was trying to jerk him, too. They, of course were dropped by Wild Pitch before their album .."F*ck What You Think" could ever be released.

This was also evidenced in the breakup of N.W.A. Once it came time for those reup contracts to be signed with Ruthless Records, Ice Cube wondered why he wasn't compensated for his publishing (he ghostwrote for Eazy-E and Dre) and where was the other money they were promised in the past?. When he was told that it would all be settled after the new contracts were signed, Cube refused to sign and later he went solo.

Of course, N.W.A. dissed the shit out of him for bouncing in interviews and on wax...until they realized that they were, in fact, ALL getting done with no vaseline by Jerry Heller and Ruthless Records...No homo.

Dr. Dre bounced from Ruthless Records just to go through the same exact shit at Death Row. Suge always stressed the importance of owning your masters...not his masters, nigga. YOUR masters! After years of making hits, Dre bounced from Death Row with little more than ..piece of mind.....and all his limbs intact. If you look through Death Row releases liner notes, you..ll see Suge Publishing in some questionable places. If you look through some old Bad Boy projects liner notes, you'll see Janice Combs Publishing in some odd places...not that I..m comparing the two in any way.

Nervous/Wreck Records screwed an underage Black Moon for years, even after they had started their own label and stopped recording with them. Not only did Black Moon decide to become their own management and release their own artists because of their ordeals. Nervous even released some of their unauthorized material under the title "Diggin' In Dah Vaults" as in attempt to make even more money off of them.

Artists are still getting jerked today, but NEVER to the degree of the Old School artists or pioneers. I was watching MTV and incidentally, Joey Robinson of Sugar Hill Records' son was on the MTV show "My Super Sweet 16". His party was extravagant, for his entrance he rode a damn camel with Rihanna! I saw all of the shit there and did the math in my head...If Sugar Hill Records hasn't had a hit in more than 20 years, then where did they get the money for that extravagant ass party? Or those huge houses that the Robinsons own? Or those brand new studios? The Robinsons are still caking off the artists they jerked almost 30 years later!

I remembered reading somewhere that Kool Moe Dee remarked that while he got jerked by Enjoy Records, he got robbed blind by Sugar Hill as part of Treacherous 3. "At least Bobby paid us. At Sugar Hill, I didn't see a dime!". I guess we all know where that money went now, huh?

Nowadays, artists would drop a double door stainless steel refrigerator off of a high rise on you if you jerked them out of their publishing and residuals. However, every day someone's either ghost writing or ghost producing for credit so that they can increase their worth in the industry and demand more money in the future. Back in the days, Teddy Riley convinced a 17 year old Redhead Kingpin to produce 8 out of the 11 tracks of the first Wreckx N' Effect album for $5,000

How much did the label actually give them for a production budget? Who knows, but if you lowball it would've been between $50,000-$100,000. How much did Teddy charge for a track? Not sure, but I DO know that for $5,000 he wouldn't even come to the phone to tell you to kiss his ass, he'd let the secretary do it for him. Did Redhead get any residuals off the sales of that project? Doubt it. Back in the days, we had 16-19 year olds with no business acumen or knowledge of the music industry signing record deals.

Will Smith and LL Cool J were both teenage millionaires that became broke and then millionaires again in the span of a year. Will Smith once remarked that he didn't realize then that if you got a $50,000 check and you immediately bought something that was $30,000 with it you were actually ALREADY broke because HALF went to taxes...and he was a math genius on his way to M.I.T.! Do you think you could've convinced a 17 year old Todd Smith NOT to buy another four finger ring and gold rope and INSTEAD put his money in a mutual fund for his future children?

The music industry is modern day share cropping, at it's worst it's borderline slavery. You can't even sue your record label for treating you like shit...because that IS the nature of the industry! You have no health insurance or dental plan. No guaranteed benefits of any kind. If your wife encounters complications during her pregnancy, do you think your label will help you out?

Grym Reaper AKA Too Poetic of Gravediggaz developed colon cancer and ultimately died from it...none of his record labels would help him the costly pay bills for his treatment. You are a commodity. A product. You aren't even viewed as a person by a record label...even if you make them a shitload of money.

The lesson for today, kids? Know your worth. Know everything about your chosen field BEFORE entering it. Take control of your own destiny as opposed to having it dictated to you. There was no hip hop industry in 1979 and 1980 so rappers had NO IDEA that they stood to lose potentially millions of dollars in future earnings. They never even thought of making records!

In the climate of this industry, there shouldn't be anyone recording that isn't aware of publishing, mechanical royalties, residuals, points or any other aspect of the music business. Have an entertainment lawyer look at anything you sign beforehand...if you can, get a second opinion because THAT lawyer can be in league with the asshole/s trying to jerk you.

Lastly, remember that if your label's CEO Big Red told your ass that he will only talk about business during his stipulated business hours, PLEASE BELIEVE HIM. If you decide to bring up any business related topic (for instance, the matter of your missing royalties) at any other time to him (and you're on a floor above the 1st) you better have some fuckin' wings growing out your back or body armor on. No Suge Knight. One.

Originally posted on October 3rd, 2006 on and as part of my State Of Hip Hop blog series.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Damn Bassy! In High School You Was The Man Bassy! AKA What The Fuck Happened To You?

For anyone that's a basketball fan, you've surely heard the news already that the former 13th pick in 2004 NBA Draft and New York high school and playground legend Sebastian Telfair has been let go by the Boston Celtics. Wyc Grousbeck released a statement to media outlets a while back letting them know that Sebastian Telfair will no longer be rocking the distinguished kelly green and white anymore.

Where did Bassy go wrong first? Was it asking for #31 when everyone in Boston knows that it's Cedric "Cornbread" Maxwell's old number (not to mention that it's retired and he's a legend and the Celtics current radio voice?) How about having an amazing showing at the Las Vegas Summer League and then completely forgetting how to play point guard once the season started, thereby allowing Rajon Rondo to surpass him in every way, shape or form? Was it his reluctance to use his speed and push the tempo? How about him not penetrating and kicking to the open shooters? How about his tentativeness to shoot when he was wide open? Maybe it was that he showed flashes of brilliance too far apart and was largely ineffective when he was on the court? How could that dude rockin' #30 be the same guy as the one that led the Lincoln High Railsplitters to three consecutive City championships in New York? How could he be the same dude that used to run with Team Roc A Fella at the Rucker?

How could he be the same dude that basketball writers at Slam and Dime magazine have been writing about since he hit puberty? Is this cat really the same dude that ran in the Adidas ABCD Camp for four straight years against NBA level talent and dominated? I still remember the video clip of him catching a two handed alleyoop from LeBron James back in 2002 (Yeah, he can dunk). I still remember sitting in the stands of the old Shaw's Summer League (it moved from Boston to Las Vegas after the Democratic National Convention forced it to move) reading that Slam with Bassy and LeBron on the cover.

I shake my head thinking that the dude that I saw play for the Celtics this year with no passion or drive is the same cat that had two national games on ESPN in 2004, his senior year of high school (all with a camera crew following him around getting footage for the documentary "Through The Fire") in which he faced his highly touted nemesis, Darius Washington and his Edgewater (FL) squad. Later on he faced the next great big man Dwight Howard and his Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy (GA) squad at the Isles Prime Time Shootout.

He was fouled hard, double teamed and jeered in hostile gyms all while celebrities like Jay-Z watched in the front row. He carried his team on his back and lead them to victory in both instances against insurmountable odds in dramatic fashion in front of the glaring lights and scrutiny of the sports media. In both games, Sebastian laid it all out on the line and gave two virtuoso performances (27 points and 7 assists in the first and 30 points in the second game including the game winning three pointer with a hand in his face falling away). Any sportswriters or fans that weren't convinced he was the real deal were now believers that the 6'0 kid from C.I. in Brooklyn might be the next great NYC point god. Shit, he even made the cover of Sports Illustrated!

Rick Pitino over at Louisville began to worry...he'd been burned by so many preps that jumped to the NBA he began to think that Bassy was all but gone. The attention he received during Lincoln High's playoff run reached a fever pitch. With each win it came closer and closer and the questions came more and more furiously...Is Bassy going to college or the NBA? His life began to parallel Jesus Shuttlesworth's from Spike Lee's "He Got Game'" (ironically enough, the character of Jesus Shuttlesworth was modeled after Telfair's cousin, Stephon Marbury). After the succesful basketball season in which Bassy led Lincoln High to a third consecutive city championship (which is a tough task in NYC) everyone knew it was was merely up to Bassy to formally announce it.

After ending his senior season by averaging 31 points and 8 assists a game and performing in a few high school all star games (including the McDonald's All American game where Bassy went for the assist record and ended up with 2 points and 9 dimes) it was time to let the world know what the deal was. In Spring 2004, Sebastian Telfair officially announced that he was entering the 2004 NBA Draft and signing a lucrative sneaker deal with Adidas/AG Salomon Group. He was all smiles at the press conference. His squeaky clean image and high level of poise under the constant scrutiny of the basketball world and the New York media lead Adidas to think that he would be successful at the next level and help them sell a shitload of we all now know, neither of those things happened.

Sebastian Telfair was picked #13 (his number backwards) in the first round of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers. They were known as the "Jailblazers" in the league and the brass in their office's thought that Bassy's clean cut image and lack of any problems in his past made him their point guard of the future...Plus, he'd have Maurice Cheeks there to coach him. It was a perfect fit..on paper at least. Bassy was never able to win the starting job outright from Steve Blake, Juan Dixon or Jarrett Jack and he was caught with a loaded gun on the Blazers team jet in Boston (ironically) during the 2005 season. After a disapointing couple of seasons in Portland, he was shipped off to the Celtics on a draft night deal made before the 2006-7 NBA season.

He impressed fans with his showing at the Las Vegas Summer League and Celtics fans had high hopes for their new point guard acquisition...that shit didn't pan out well, either. His problems on the court were compounded by the instances surrounding him getting robbed outside of Justin's in October 2006. The following events cast doubt on exactly what kind of cat Bassy is...Keep in mind that we have Ron Artest and Steve Jackson running around the court in the NBA. Sebastian Telfair ain't gangsta. He's far from a thug, yet and still he's caught enough cases and had enough run ins with the law to make people in positions of power and influence to think different. Here are his stats over the last 3 seasons and an article containing Wyc Grousbeck's statement regarding Bassy's current status as a Celtic.

Are we witnessing yet another story of failure from a highly touted sports star that's been thrust into the spotlight since he was 13 years old? Would we have seen his deficiences if he went to college instead of the NBA? Was the pressure too much for Bassy to rep Brooklyn and support nearly 20 family members with his earnings? Did the weight of trying to make it for his brother Jamel Thomas that didn't get the opportunity to shine in the NBA or living in the shadow of his legendary cousin, Stephon Marbury prove to be his undoing? The only good part to this story is that it's still being written. Bassy can still salvage his career, his image, and most importantly HIMSELF. Stay up, Bassy...I'll be rooting for you same as back when you were the youngest kid at Adidas ABCD Camp.


Friday, April 20, 2007

25 Greatest Hip Hop Albums Of All Time (At Least In My Personal Opinion)

Jeff Weiss of Passion Of The Weiss, in association with Joey from Straight Bangin' asked me for my opinion on the 25 greatest albums in Hip Hop history. Being that this is a tough question and several deserving albums are going to get unfairly fronted on (something that I'm painfully aware of). It took me 2 hours of arguing with my brother and going through my tape, vinyl and CD collection (and several books...were talking about ME here, after all!) just to compile my list and 30 more minutes of me switching positions on said list. After much soul searching and agonizing deliberation, here are my picks for the 25 greatest Hip Hop albums of all times (at least in my opinion) with a disclaimer at the end:

1. It Takes A Nation Of Millions...-Public Enemy
2. Paid In Full- Eric B. & Rakim
3. Criminal Minded- Boogie Down Productions
4. Long Live The Kane- Big Daddy Kane
5. Mecca & The Soul Brother- Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth
6. Illmatic- Nas
7. The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick- Slick Rick
8. Raising Hell- Run DMC
9. Critical Beatdown- Ultramagnetic MC's
10. Bigger And Deffer ( B.A.D.)- LL Cool J
11. In Full Gear- Stetsasonic
12. Strictly Business- EPMD
13. 3 Feet High & Rising- De La Soul
14. Rhyme Pays- Ice T
15. Death Certificate- Ice Cube
16. Daily Operation- Gangstarr
17. The Low End Theory- A Tribe Called Quest
18. Liquid Swords- GZA
19. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...-Raekwon The Chef
20. Illadelph Halflife- The Roots
21. Capital Punishment- Big Punisher
22. Ready To Die- Notorious B.I.G.
23. Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)- Wu-Tang Clan
24. No One Can Do It Better- The D.O.C.
25. Reasonable Doubt- Jay-Z

While I feel that some of these groups made better albums than the ones I posted (i.e. EPMD 's Business As Usual, De La Soul's Stakes Is High, Wu-Tang Clan's Wu Tang Forever, Ice T's Original Gangsta, The Roots, Things Fall Apart, Eric B. & Rakim's Follow The Leader, etc.) it was the creation of the seminal classics that I included in this list that helped spark quantum leaps in the Hip Hop field once they were released, paving the way for future great albums (including their own catalogs).Here's a collection of all of the joints that just missed the above list for those of you that wanna choke me unconsious for not including some of your favorite joints (Honorable Mention/Certified Classics):

Brand Nubian- One For All
Ghostface Killah- Ironman
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo- Road To The Riches
N.W.A- Straight Outta Compton
Dr. Dre- The Chronic LP
Redman-Whut? Thee Album
X Clan- To The East, Blackwards
Geto Boys- We Can't Be Stopped
MC Lyte- Lyte As A Rock
Queen Latifah- Hail To The Queen
Whodini- Back In Black
Beastie Boys- Licensed To Ill
Fat Boys- Crushin'
Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation Of...
OutKast- Aquemini
Poor Righteous Teachers- Holy Intellect
Del- I Wish My Brother George Was Here
3rd Bass- The Cactus Album
Jungle Brothers- Straight Out The Jungle
Mobb Deep- The Infamous
Ol' Dirty Bastard- Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version)
Main Source- Breakin' Atoms
Beatnuts- The Beatnuts AKA Street Level
Company Flow- Funcrusher Plus
Cypress Hill-Cypress Hill
King T- Act A Fool
Fugees- The Score
Mos Def- Black On Both Sides
Pharcyde-Bizarre Ride II Tha Pharcyde
2Pac- Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
Above The Law- Livin' Like Hustlers
Snoop Doggy Dogg-Doggystyle
Common (Sense)- Resurrection
DJ Quik- Quik Is The Name
Special Ed- Youngest In Charge
Scarface- Mr. Scarface Is Back
Showbiz & A.G.- Runaway Slaves
Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud- Girls, I Got 'Em Locked
Biz Markie- Goin' Off
Heavy D- Big Time
Freestyle Fellowship- To Whom It May Concern...
Cannibal Ox- The Cold Vein
Das Efx- Dead Serious
Digital Underground- Sex Packets

And the list goes on and on and on and on to the break of dawn. Feel free to critique mine or post your own. Good looks to Jeff Weiss, Joey and the heads at Straight Bangin'. One.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

They Don’t Dance No Mo’ AKA The Weed Carrier Killed The Hip Hop Dancer

Back in the days (yeah, it’s another one of those) hip hop/rap groups consisted of emcees, DJ’s/producers, and dancers. MC Lyte had Leg 1 and Leg 2, Heavy D had The Boyz, Def Jef had the Soul Brothers, Kwame had A Sharp and Peekaboo, Big Daddy Kane had Skoob & Skrap Lover, De La Soul had China and Jet, and Queen Latifah had the Safari Sisters. Redhead Kingpin had The F.B.I., Vicious Beat Posse had Gumby and Pokey and Kool G Rap & DJ Polo had the TCF Dancers.

Not only would the dancers do the fly routines on stage but the emcees would jump into them during the song themselves on occasion. Most notably, Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Fresh Prince (Will Smith), MC Serch, Kid N’Play, Redhead Kingpin and MC Hammer, who ultimately took the dancing rapper to a level so high above what it once was the he contributed to it’s undoing. Some emcees would let their dancers jam for them...growing up in Boston I never saw any members of the Almighty RSO even contemplate jamming while the 9MM Dancers were going off.

Oftentimes, dancers ended up on the mic, take for example EPMD’s dancin’ machine Stezo (Fendi never made a joint), who ended up recording the classic LP “Crazy Noise” in 1989. Special Ed’s former dancers became Zhigge and Little Shawn. 2Pac used jam on stage with Digital Underground before spitting his first verse on “Same Song” in 1991. The UMC’s were a couple of hip hop and house dancing kids that also spit rhymes before dropping a couple of #1 hits in 1991. The crew Rumpletilskinz used to dance for Leaders Of The New School before dropping an album in 1993.

The Pharcyde and Black Eyed Peas (formerly the A.T.B.A.N. Klan) both started out as dancers before they got signed to group deals in 1992. Chubb Rock’s main dancer Hot Dog was put into the group The A.T.E.E.M. and he guest appeared on Black Sheep’s 1991 debut on the song “Pass The 40”. Skoob & Skrap and G-Wiz of The Boyz were both supposed to have albums released before they ultimately got scrapped by their labels. The last crew of dancers to form a group that was signed by a major label were the Mystidious Misfits, their album “A Who Dat?” was shelved in 1995.

The industry was a completely different animal back then. Pretty much all hip hop regardless of genre or region was considered dance music and it got played on the radio and jammed frequently at the club. There was a time when you could play Public Enemy, Nice N’ Smooth, N.W.A., EPMD, The Geto Boys, D.O.C., Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Ice T, Run DMC, King T, Ultramagnetic MC’s, Main Source, Above The Law, Gangstarr, Kwame, BDP, Heavy D & The Boyz, Run DMC, Queen Latifah, Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Eazy E, Kid N’ Play, Brand Nubian, Doug E. Fresh, MC Breed, Compton’s Most Wanted, Monie Love, Three Times Dope, Chubb Rock, Niice & Smooth, Poor Righteous Teachers, Eric B. & Rakim, Slick Rick, Digital Underground and LL Cool J all behind each other at the club and the floor would be packed just like if the DJ was spinning New Edition, Keith Sweat, Guy, and Al B. Sure records.

People used to make up dance routines to records and dress like their friends to go out and jam at the next house/block party. Can you imagine that same thing going on this new era of “No Homo”? I can’t (even though one of the fathers of the phrase has engaged in some pretty suspect activity lately). Besides, the era of the hip hop dancer was soon about to come to an end.

Right around 1990, the influence of House music took a hold and bumped Maryland/DC Go Go music out as the next style that was blended with rap music. A long list of hip house songs, albums and artists came out between 1990-1992, most notably Technotronic, Soul II Soul, Royal House, Raze, Kyper, C & C Music Factory, Black Box, Dee-Lite, Kyze, Snap!, Mr. Lee, 2 In A Room, and several other groups began to make hits. The former straight up B Boy was now also a house dancer, rocking high top fades, gumbys, steps with blond dyed in the corner, print shirts, beads (they replaced the African medallion and the clock as hip hop accessories) dress pants and “mailman shoes”.

The hip hop/house dancer was everywhere. In videos, on stage with emcees, and on stage with R & B/pop acts (Lalah Hathaway’s “Baby Don’t Cry is a perfect example...I hope that joint is on YouTube for you that never saw it). Later on pop/dance based rap acts began to cross over into the pop charts such as Kid N’ Play, Salt N’ Pepa, Young MC, MC Hammer and most regrettably, Vanilla looked like the hip hop dancer was here to stay...then the backlash happened.

The backlash against dance based rap began just as gangsta rap began dominating the charts. The entire climate of the music industry began to change slowly as rappers that purposely did commercially viable music began to be seen as sellouts and soft...even odder considering the fact that Hip Hop is, in essence, nothing more than party/dance music. Once MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Young MC, and several other acts had huge hits making poppier rap, record labels began looking for the next pop rap sensation...problem was that the music was often watered down and the lyrics often suffered. Even worse were when respected hip hop artists would make obvious reaches at a hit with pop rap singles...most of the time they failed miserably. MC Lyte made singles like “When In Love”, “Ice Cream Dream”, and “Poor Georgie” (even though they were hits, it wasn’t the Lyte fans were used to). Queen Latifah dropped “Fly Girl” and “How Do I Love Thee” from her “Nature Of A Sista” LP (these songs confused her fans). Other rappers followed suit and got clowned for it incessantly.

The other side of the coin was that MC Hammer began doing multiple endorsements in an age where a rapper was lucky to get ONE (usually for Coke, Pepsi or Sprite). MC Hammer began selling British Knights, Pepsi, KFC Popcorn Chicken and several other products. Not to mention, the fact that Hammer had any ARMY of dancers. Not two, not three...more like THIRTY. Vanilla Ice appeared in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel doing the cornball “Ninja Rap” and he began endorsing merchandise with his likeness on it to all comers for a check.

Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch scored a big hit with “Good Vibrations”, another hip house song. The fans became fed up with the crossover rap acts. It got so bad that MC Hammer eventually dropped the MC from his name because of the backlash he recieved from the rap community after the massive success of “Please, Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em”. Vanilla Ice was dissed publicly by damn near everyone, and had a foot put in his ass on national television by Arsenio Hall himself. If you were a rap group you began to pray that your first appearance on MTV was on Yo! MTV Raps and not The Grind. If it was Yo! you still had a chance with rap fans, if it was The Grind? That’s your ass Mr. Postman!

Hip hop fans were appalled at what was happening. They thought that if rappers/emcees began acting in movies, doing TV shows, having endorsement deals, going platinum and modeling in print ads hip hop/rap music would be on it’s way to becoming extinct (This really what people were afraid of almost 15 years ago...makes me wish I had a DeLorean with a Flux Capacitor for real).

This lead to a rise in hardcore music and artists publicly dissing hip hop/pop acts with dancers in order to rid the culture of the pop rap element that was once accepted, but now seen as dilluting the music and giving the public a false sense of what the music was about. Ice Cube said “but I don’t party and shake my butt/I leave that to the brothers with the funny haircuts” referring to Kid N’ Play who crossed over into superstardom with Salt N’ Pepa and starred in the film “House Party”..later Ice Cube would star in the film “Boyz N The Hood”, but not until after he helped put the nail in the coffin of the hip hop dancer. More and more aggressive music began to come out in the coming years and the music of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Cypress Hiill, The Geto Boys, Spice 1, DJ Quik, etc. began to invade the psyche of East Coast listeners.

The hip house/pop sound was crushed by a wave of new music at the end of 1991 leading into 1992. Little did hip hop fans/listeners know that they were entering the second Golden Age of hip hop (1992-1996). New albums by Dr. Dre, Redman, Das Efx, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest (“Rap is not pop, if you call it that then stop!”), Ice Cube, Geto Boys, Brand Nubian, Scarface, Showbiz & AG, Spice 1, Compton’s Most Wanted, DJ Quik, Grand Puba, EPMD, and Gangstarr completely changed the direction of the industry.

While fans did dance to the music, no longer were they compelled to do the Running Man, the Wop, the Hype, the Biz Dance, the Steve Martin, the Pee Wee Herman, the Fila, the Smurf, the Jordache, the Mike Tyson, the Roger Rabbitt, the Happy Feet or hold one leg while jumping over the other with their remaining leg (If anyone tries that shit after reading this and busts their ass DON’T BLAME ME).

Eventually, heads were just nodding their heads and jumping up and down thanks to Kriss Kross and House Of Pain. The hip hop crew had already undergone several changes in the past. No longer was the DJ the focal point of the group as they were in the past. The DJ used to pick his emcees, or the emcees would search for the illest DJ. The industry made the MC the focal point and built from there. The MC now had a DJ/producer...and that was it. No more beat boxers, and no more dancers....although, this doesn’t explain Arrested Development or the Lost Boyz AT ALL. Where once we saw acts on stage with dancers, they began to dial it down and focus on the beats and lyrics.

The Native Tounges and their affiliates even dropped their dancers from their crews. Not only were they seen as an unnecesary expense given the changing climate of the industry , but if they couldn’t contribute...they were cut loose. This turned many former dancers into hype men or full time emcees...or in some cases, telemarketers, security guards or office temps. After the huge success of Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic Album”, “40 & A Blunt” rhymes popped up everywhere...weed references were all over rap records now.

Kids were wearing Phillie Blunt and weed T shirts on the streets now. Weed was the new in thing and artists that once smoked it on the low were free to admit they puffed too. All of a sudden, Branson’s name appeared in liner notes and referenced on records, it even appeared in The Source on occasion. It became obvious that there were folks moving more trees than the Department of Parks & Recreation in the world of hip hop to even the casual listener. Mad heads got them idea to get into the herb dealing game (no Nancy & Conrad).

The artist couldn’t afford to be the guy holding the weed...what if he got busted? Everyone’s meal ticket...I mean, the head of the crew and the main source of income for everyone including the label could get locked up. Therefore, the weed carrier was born. The first case of a weed carrier spittin’ on a track was when J Swift (the former producer of The Pharcyde) received his deal for Fat House on Tommy Boy Records. His roster consisted of his sister’s group Jazzyfatnastees (now on Okayplayer), The Wascals (Buc Fifty’s former group), and Quinton The Chronic Man. You may remember his name being mentioned on “A Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde” in a skit. He spit some pretty half ass rhymes on his single (yes, it had a video) “Quinton’s On His Way”. However, the title of the B side explained it all to the was called “I’m Not A Rapper” shit.

Weed carriers have been spittin’ half ass rhymes in crews and getting solo deals ever since. Some of them still get their dance on, shit, Young Dro just recently had the world doing the “Shoulder Lean”. The end result is that in the modern era of hip hop emcees take themselves so seriously that none of them would dance on stage and most of them only use dancers in special performances. Which is a good thing nowadays, considering that the best dances a rapper can come up with is the “Young Joc” dance. I never thought I’d be ending a blog with this sentence, but thank God for Diddy. One.

Originally posted on October 14th, 2006 on and for my State Of Hip Hop blog series. One.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Revenge Of The Nerds AKA Big & Pac Wrote Poetry! (Sarcasm Alert)

Before I get started, I'd like to say that only a nerd would write this shit. It kills me knowing that all these people that come down on artists such as Lupe Fiasco for making "nerd rap" don't realize that some of their favorite rappers could've been considered nerds themselves. Besides, what actually makes you a nerd? First, take into account that what makes street cats/thugs call you a nerd and what average everyday people would call you a nerd for are two different things entirely.

To some, reading a damn book once in a while can automatically qualify you as a nerd. Knowing some random facts that aren't absolutely necessary to your survival as a human being can make you a nerd in the eyes of some. You knew that E Love was the person in the Public Enemy logo? Guess what? You are one nerd ass nigga, son! If you watched any of the X Men movies in the theatre and screamed at the screen something to the effect of "Bullshit! His/her powers don't even work like that!", your ass MIGHT be a nerd...It also counts if you thought it, but kept it to yourself. I've heard several times in the past few years that if we were to eliminate the nerd element from Hip Hop/Rap music entirely, then it would be better off. I'd like to see that theory put to the test right now by eliminating all nerds past and present from the industry, leaving us with only the realest, gulliest, and most official rappers once and for all (So all you muthafuckas can finally stop complaining).

If I broke down the histories/pasts of some of everyone's favorite most thugged out/gulliest rappers, you might see an odd connection. Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, better known as 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G., were both honor students with an aptitude for language at an early age. They both attended advanced classes and wrote poetry often. Tupac even attended a performing arts school during his teen years. They both also loved public speaking and they lived to make their mothers proud. Now, I don't know about you...but that sounds like two nerds bios to me. How about O'Shea Jackson, better known as Ice Cube? Honors student with an aptitude for writing and public speaking at an early age. Went off to a school in another part of town due to his special talents, he also wrote poetry. Yep...Cube was a nerd. How about Scarface? A young Brad would look around at his environment and complemate his existence. He would then sit down and write these deep stirring poems about depression, suicide and the bleakness of his life and his surroundings. His command of the English language came from staying in with his grandmother and reading the Bible during his early years...Damn, son...Face was a biblical nerd!

Wu Tang Clansmen RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, and Method Man were all placed in advanced classes when they were young due to their advanced reading and writing and verbal skills. They attributed it to reading so many comic books (nerd alert!) and seeing all of those Shaw Brothers/Golden Harvest Kung Fu flicks as children. Listen to the rhymes of Raekwon, Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa. They stay making up words, creating new styles and rhyming about shit that no one but them seems to understand (U God, this means you). Plus, they all later became members of the Nation Of Gods & Earths (AKA The 5 Percent Nation)...all those cats do is study lessons, learn the Supreme Alphabet, the Supreme Mathematics, etc. They stay "doing the knowledge" and sharing it with other people in order to uplift them. You know what OTHER group always reads and then tries to tell other people about the new shit that they just learned about? The Nation Of Nerd Ass Niggas.

Fat Joe is one thorough ass gully dude, but he's down with D.I.T.C. (that's Diggin' In The Crates!), a collective of legendary emcees and producers revered by hip hop nerds worldwide. Since he's down with no longer relevant, washed up types like Diamond, Lord Finesse, Buckwild, Showbiz, A.G., super lyrical Big L (R.I.P.) and nerd rap icon O.C., he's a nerd by association. The Lox admitted to reading a bunch of books and watching films and studying past emcees styles to come up with their approaches. Jadakiss, Styles and Sheek all wrote rhymes for other artists in the can you be a thug when you're always studying something and reading and writin' and shit? Didn't Styles P have an album shelved because he was getting all political on it? Concern for your people's welfare ain't gangsta! Those niggas are nerds, straight up. Damn, I just realized...there are MAD nerds in hip hop!

Jay-Z once admitted to liking Dead Prez, The Roots, Common and Talib Kweli (all a bunch of nerd ass niggas loved by other nerd ass rap fans). He also writes all of his rhymes in his head (something he learned from that nerd ass nigga Biggie...nerds love to share information). It goes without saying that Hova's a nerd. Nas? Did you hear Illmatic? That's a backpacker album if I ever heard one! He tried to switch it up on his next two joints but we all knew the truth. It ain't hard to tell that God's Son is a nerd as well. Rakim? Nerd. KRS One? Nerd. Kool G Rap? Nerd. Big Daddy Kane? Nerd. Masta Ace? Nerd. 50 Cent? He copyrighted the G Unit name and orchestrated the takeover of Gluceau (the Vitamin water company) by finding out that they were trading publicly and slowly buying the stock and researching the company until he bought the majority of the stock. So 50 was looking through the NYSE and NASDAQ and checking the trade papers? That sounds like some ol' nerd shit to me. That being said, ALL executives in Hip Hop/Rap music are nothing but some glorified nerds. Sitting in an office all day coming up with marketing strategies and trying to track spins and all that other non gangsta shit is straight up cornball. Dame Dash? Nerd. Steve Stoute? Nerd. Chris Lighty? Nerd. Kevin Liles? Nerd. Diddy? Come on son! It's obvious! Nerd. (Thugs ain't concerned about preserving their sexy OR moisturizing their situation!)

Let's take it a step further. If you're a rapper that gets recognized on the street in Europe and Asia but niggas on your own block don't know who you are, you MUST be one of those damn nerd rappers! If you're a rapper that writes rhymes with too many multisyllabic words and sometimes people have to ask about or Google some shit they were talking about in a're a goddamn nerd (This means you Ras Kass, Saigon and Papoose!). If you are in any way, shape or form original...then, your ass is a nerd. If you're a punchline/battle rapper and you've never sold drugs or shot anyone, leaving you with no choice but to actually talk about your opponent's skill level/appearance during a're a nerd. If you actually spit off of the dome during battles with no writtens, you're an even bigger nerd (and in some cases, a dumbass). If you're a rapper that has ever appeared on CNN, C Span, or any show hosted by Dennis Miller, John Stewart or Bill Maher, you're a nerd. If you're a rapper that does speaking engagements or lectures, then your are obviously a nerd. If you're a rapper that has every written a book before, (especially one about the artform of rapping or Hip Hop culture) you're a nerd (I'm looking at you Kool Moe Dee and KRS One!).

Think about it. If you write a book, you're an author. A thug can't write a book (They don't read 'em, either), if he does he's a SNITCH. Besides, what the fuck does a thug wanna write a book for? The game is to be sold, not to be told. Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines were nothing but some nerdy niggas with typewriters. If you're a political or conscious rapper in any way you're obviously a nerd. Why? Because the only people worried about the Bush Administration, anywhere else overseas (and you live HERE), global warming, the world water supply or the future are fuckin' nerds anyway...they need to be worried about gettin.. some pussy and stop crying about not being able to sell CD's because of the radio. Now, if you look back at the last couple of paragraphs, I've almost eliminated every nerd ass rapper in existence...Let's kill some more birds.

Let's move on the people behind the boards that actually make the music. DJ's and producers? Mostly nerds. They often memorize breaks and riffs from obscure musicians and go digging for old records. They spend hours alone locked in a room with musical equipment and computers trying to master it and trying to chop up some horn sample so much that some other nerd ass dude in Denmark won't be able to tell it's from an Art Blakey record. They know what record is an original pressing due to the catalog number and color of the print on the jacket/sleeve of the album. They even write lists of obscure records/breaks and go searching for them to collect them. These cats have all of these theories and tricks for beatmaking. They know mad shit about beatmaking tools, instruments and keyboards. A lot of times they sit around with other producers in a room and talk all day about sounds, effects and kits. Swizz Beats not only produces but he paints abstract art and studies under legendary artist Peter Max...That sounds like some uber nerd shit to me. Marley Marl? Nerd. DJ Premier? Nerd. Large Professor? Nerd. Dr. Dre? Nerd. Rick Rubin? Nerd. Pete Rock? RZA? Nerd. Nerd. DJ Quik? Nerd. Mannie Fresh? Nerd. Battlecat? Nerd. DJ Scratch? Nerd. DJ Pooh? Nerd. Jermaine Dupri? Nerd. Prodigy? Nerd. Timbaland? Nerd. Scott Storch? Nerd. Just Blaze? Nerd. Alchemist? Nerd. Fredwreck? Rockwilder? Nerd. Nerd. MF Doom? Lord Of Nerds. Madlib? King Of Nerds. Kanye West? Super Nerd. Pharrell Williams? Super Duper Nerd.

Only the realest and gulliest rappers should be left now that we've eliminated all of those wackass nerds that are ruining hip hop so let's see who that leaves...Young Jeezy is definitely not a nerd. Young Joc is definitely not a nerd. Young Dro is definitely not a nerd. Jibbs is definitely not a nerd. Rick Ross definitely isn't a nerd. Nelly isn't a nerd. I'd say T.I. and Lil' Wayne but, according to my blog stipulations above^, they're actually both Wayne is in college and he's currently a CEO so he's definitely a nerd. Chingy isn't a nerd. Jim Jones is actually a nerd because he can negotiate new label deals and get out of binding preexisting contracts like nobody's business. He directs videos and he's also a record executive at Warner AND Dipset Records ...only a nerd can do all of that type of shit at the same time. The Game? Wasn't he on "Change Of Heart." trying to keep some chick that didn't want him? That's some true nerd shit right there. Sometimes REALLY smart nerds come up with a word to disguise the fact that they just happen to be cool nerds...they call themselves "hustlers", "entrepreneurs" or "businessmen/women". Bullshit. If they know a whole bunch of shit that most other people don't, they're just some more goddamn nerds trying to trick people that they're really not.

Of course, SOME people believe that being smart, well spoken, well read, or being good at verbal/math skills doesn't neccessarily make you a nerd automatically. They believe that a nerd is actually someone who lacks basic/necessary social skills due to all of the time that spent doing something/anything else other than regularly interacting with other people. Since they never spent time with their peers they never properly developed intrapersonal skills that might allow them to blend in others. They usually don't know how to talk to women/men or acquire new friends. They usually don't play sports or know how to dance. They often times dress badly or have to no style or fashion sense. They're also known as geeks. These same people actually believe that it's okay for a person to be well rounded and it's possible to have a wealth of knowledge about street shit, sports, music, literature, film as well as world history and other cultures without them being called a "nerd"...but who gives a fuck what "they" think? ... "They" ain't shit but some nerds anyway. One.

This blog was originally posted on on October 9th, 2006 as part of my State Of Hip Hop Blog Series.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Walkman Days AKA I Let The Tape Rock Until The Tape Popped

I've touched on one of the many differences in how us 70's and early 80's babies grew up with hip hop versus the next generation of hip hop/rap listeners. Rather than write some essay on some journalist type steez, I've decided that I can only write a piece to help the younger cats gain some understand of an older cats "Hip Hop Is Dead/30 Is The New 20"type mindset based on our experiences growing up with hip hop...I'm gonna get semi autobiographical on this one:

Nowadays cats can just get on their computers and go to iTunes, swap out whatever songs they want to hear onto their iPods, throw in their earbuds and be out...We old heads WISH we had it so easy, son .We had Walkmans...that played cassette tapes. There were many different types of walkmans and they all had different types of problems depending on which one you had.

The best ones to get were the high end Sony, Panasonic, or Pioneer ones. The Sanyo, Aiwa and Sharp ones were also readily available at Circuit City, Tweeter and other electronics specialty stores. The better walkmans required the least maintenance, like head cleaning, dust removal or having to cop a precision screwdriver set to keep your joint working. No working walkman, no hip hop...I didn't want to be trudging through the snow in the cold ass winter (pre global warming) with no music playing...that shit was dead.

There were some real generic shitboxes available for between $10 or $20 dollars made by companies like Sylvania (who had no business making them), Coby, GPX and Radio Shack's Realistic line of portable cassette players...the walkmans they made were wack, but they more than made up for it with their selection of headphones. Radio Shack made the hip hop heads official affordable headphones of choice...the Koss Pro 35's. Not only did they sound ill, but if they shorted out you could return them as long as you kept the box and receipt. (They changed their return policy later)

Tapes were another matter altogether, you had to hold out and cop the best tapes possible because if you didn't, it was like throwing money away. If you bought cheap tapes they'd pop or get ate quick, wasting the hours I spent at the radio/stereo tape deck trying to record new jams off of the hip hop radio shows.The two biggest shows when I was in high school (1991-1995) were WMBR's Dope Jams Show and WERS's Rap Explosion Show. I used to sit there in front of my radio at night just waiting for them to play that brand new hot shit. We had multiple radio shows with different formats in most major markets so we had diversity and selection...that shit's out the window now. Everyones station sounds the same because they all have the same owners.

I'd have my radio on at night, sitting there in front of it with the buttons on Pause, Play and Record down for the full two or three hours trying to get exclusive joints off of the new EPMD, Spice 1, Scarface, GangStarr, Das Efx, Ice Cube, 2Pac, Tha Pharcyde, Geto Boys, Kool G Rap, OutKast, Beatnuts, Onyx, Del, Masta Ace, DJ Quik or Souls Of Mischief album.

I'd even switch back and forth between multiple stations trying to catch joints as well...using blogs,,,,,,,, and the Google bar is so much easier than the shit I had to go back in the days through to get new joints.

Pause tape recording required editing skills, rewinding and pausing at a place that didn't cut off the end of other songs was important. The levels on the radio has to be right, too. Walkmans with XBass or Bass Boost and equalizers on the side Nobody was gonna pay for a sloppy ass/wack sounding tape.

Everytime I filled up a 90 minute TDK with joints, I pulled out the tape cover and wrote out the tracklisting in graf letters. I'd make about ten or twelve copies of it using the tapes decks off of my radio and the big stereo in my living room with the TDK 6 and 10 packs we used to boost from Strawberries at the mall (they didn't have up to date security..this was the early 90's, son!).

I'd sell these mixtapes at school for $3 each to the fiends and dub my own bought tapes and sell them as well. The Da King & I, Cypress Hill, Black Sheep, Nas/Kurious two siders, Rumpletilskinz, Da Lench Mob, Boss and Leaders Of The New School dubs sold the best and ...come to think of it, I was a damn bootlegger!

It was important that every joint on a tape had to be dope, if you fast forwarded a track, you were killing your batteries. Depending on the Walkman you had, too much fast forwarding or rewinding loosened up the motor and the Walkman became useless because it couldn't play the tapes any more. The worst were those cheapass walkmans that switched sides on you automatically. If you didn't switch that option off on the Walkman, then it would jam up and keep switching sides until you just had to throw the goddamn thing out...heads weren't getting warranties on their Walkmans...they cost as much as the Walkman itself!

I can never get those telltale warning signs that my box or my walkman was about to eat my tape out of my head. First they tape started either playing slow or mad fast. Whenever that happened, you stopped your walkman immeadiately and took the tape out. If the tape had partially come out of cassette itself, all you had to do was tap the side a couple of times and it would go back in and play fine.

If the tape started getting chewed up, you had to get a pencil and wind the tape straight at each end until the tape would go through the reel with no problem. Then, you fast forward the tape and go past the scrunched up part. The tape should play fine and you just saved yourself some money.

There got to be a point when I became a "tape doctor", the cat that people would take their tangled up, unraveled, cut/popped, or chewed up tapes to. I was an expert at it from fuckin' up so many tapes from back in the days recording Rusty The Toe Jammer mixtapes and making pause tapes off of WILD and WRBB in Boston was I was a little kid (1980-1988). Another annoying issue with walkmans were of course, batteries. I got to be such a walkman veteran by the time I was in high school that I had it all down to a science.

The first thing I did when I got to school was to either put my Walkman in my locker or my backpack. Before I did anything else, I either removed the batteries from my walkman or turned one upside down. Why would I do this? Because if any of the buttons got pressed by mistake during the time the walkman was in the locker or the bag, the batteries would be dead by the end of the day and you'd be assed out with your 2Pacalypse Now tape in your dead Walkman on the iron horse ride home from school.

The size of your walkman was an issue as well. You had to either keep it in your pants or jacket/coat pocket on the outside or the inside. If your clip broke and it was summer, then you had to carry it in your own sweaty ass hands. It was a step up from carrying a radio on your shoulder (No Radio Raheem) but it still wasn't a good look.

The other part of being a walkman warrior that was wack were bullshit headphones. Some had cords that broke easy, some had the wires that would become loose going into the receiver and short out. Sometimes you had tie the wires in knots so it didn't get tangled up. Headphones had a variety of issues, sometimes the plastic ends that were around the metal band that adjusted your headphones broke right off.

In order to avoid copping new headphones, you'd have to tape them together. If the shit didn't hang right you'd look like a complete asshole walking down the could cover it up in the winter by rocking a skullie over them...which could potentially make you look like an even bigger asshole.

After a day of slingin' mixtapes and dubs, I'd have enough money to cop all of the releases I wanted from the new edition of The Source. Back then, The Source was THE hip hop magazine, if you couldn't get in The Source pages between 1991-1998, you pretty much didn't exist. Let me give you an example from one of the old Sources I got lying around:

I picked up a copy of the November 1994 Source (#62) with Redman on the cover. The other cover stories are "Atlanta: Hip Hop's Brave New World", "South Africa's Lost Youth", Parrish Smith (PMD of EPMD) and Organized Konfusion (Pharoahe Monch & Prince Poetry). As I turn to the Source System page that has the Best Buys and Heavy Rotation all included for November 1994, the following tapes are listed:

The Roots- Do You Want More?!!!??!
O.C.- Word...Life
The Coup- Genocide & Juice
Notorious B.I.G.- Ready To Die
OutKast- Southernplayalisticadillicmuzik
Organized Konfuzion- Stress: The Extinction Agenda
MC Eiht featuring CMW- We Come Strapped
Gravediggaz- 6 Feet Deep
Artifacts- Between A Rock & A Hard Place
Bone Thugs N Harmony- Creepin On Ah Come Up
Boogie Monsters- Riders On The Storm
Big Mike- Somethin' Serious

This is a mix of East Coast, West Coast, Midwest and Southern hip hop. Some of these joints could be considered backpack rap (The Roots, O.C., Organized Konfuzion, Artifacts), some could be considered conscious (The Coup, Gravediggaz, Boogie Monsters), back then it was just all considered HIP HOP...period. I miss that there used to be variety and a mix of groups (where have the groups gone?)...nowadays, you're lumped into a category, stuck doing one thing and that's what you do. How corny is that?

Tapes used to cost between$ 6.99- $9.99 each depending on if they were on sale or not, being that it was the 2nd Golden Era (1992-1996) I used to cop at least two tapes a week. That got to be pretty damn expensive for a teenager with no job, so of course as I explained above I got my hustle on. It was enough to afford my younger brother and myself tapes, Nintendo, Genesis, and later TurboGrafx 16 games.

It was an ill time for Boston Hip Hop as well...Funkmaster Flex had just signed Joint Venture (R.I.P. Fly Ty), Almighty R.S.O. had just signed a new deal, Top Choice Clique had a major deal (what up Jawn P!), Ed O.G. was making classics and Scientifik (R.I.P.) had just dropped "Criminal". Things were finally looking up for us.

I still have cases and shoeboxes full of tapes from label that have been folded for MAD LONG like East West, Chrysalis/EMI, Jive/RCA, Uptown/MCA, Rowdy, LaFace/Arista, Pay Day/FFRR, Delicious Vinyl, Tommy Boy, Mad Sounds/Motown, Loud/RCA, Priority Records, Tuff Break/A&M, Pendulum, Wrap/Ichiban, Fang/Continuum, Select Street, Ruff House/Columbia, Immortal, Nervous/Wreck, Big Beat/Atlantic, Elektra, Mercury/PolyGram, Profile, Cold Chillin'/Warner Brothers, Sire/Warner Brothers, Relativity, Wild Pitch, Hollywood Basic, Correct Records, In A Minute Records, etc....nowadays, there are only around 5 labels to sign to if you wanna get on.

The game was MAD different back maybe some of you can understand why some of us oldheads are so damn salty about Hip Hop half the time....look at all the shit we had to go through just to listen to it^!


Originally posted on December 15th, 2006 for my State Of Hip Hop Blog Series on

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Random Uploads To Let Folks Know I'm Still Alive...

I'm having serious computer issues that will hopefully be resolved soon. Due to me not having my own personal computer, I'm forced to type from one of the Mac G5's we use for making beats and recording. This also means I don't have time to write the detailed blogs that I'm known for, which sucks tremendously. Right now I have a keyboard on top of my brothers MPC2000XL typing away furiously while he plays NCAA Football o7 behind me. I'm upping two random samplers that I got with some purchases that I made from Sandbox years ago and two mixtapes I received from some of my peoples from the Boston hip hop scene.

The two extras are MM...More Food (that I got as a bonus with MF Doom's Rhymesayers release MM...Food) which featured remixes and some Rodan joints and instrumentals produced by Doom himself. The other joint is Stealth Magazine's Sampler 02 that was a bonus disc that I got from the Australian hip hop magazine that I ordered because it had a huge spread on Boston's burgeoning underground hip hop scene called "Boogie Down Boston". The bonus disc features some Australian artists as well as Grand Agent, DJ Cheapshot and Boston's own Reks and Lucky Dice from their Brick Records years (the issue was printed in 2001).

I also have two mixtapes from 2005 made by my people over at Beanstock Records (Mr. Shoosh and Keet) and an ill group from the Boston area consisting of producer Max Powers and emcee Black El, Head Turners. Don't sleep on either. The heads at Beanstock Records are extended family of ours and I first encountered the Head Turners while talking about hip hop on my old overnight job and Max Powers hit me off with this very mixtape. The big joint that got people open was their collabo with Sean Price "Verbal Fisticuffs" (which is on the mixtape) appropriately named "The Boston Fire Mixtape". Beanstock's mixtape is called "Things To Do...2" after the original "Things To Do..." mixtape (which was a warmup to the "Things To Do In Dorchester When You're Dead" project). Either way you can't go wrong...Now I'm gonna go handle some business so hopefully I can get back to writing and blogging soon. In the meanwhile, check the Beanstock Records roster and the Head Turners out here:

Beanstock Records (Mr. Shoosh & Keet)

Head Turners (Max Powers & Black El)

Now check out my uploads here:

Stealth Magazine Sampler 02 (2001)

MM...More Food Promo (2005)

Beanstock Records presents Things To Do...2 (2005)

Head Turners-Boston Fire Mixtape (2005)