November 30, 2011

Free Downloads

[Note to readers using RSS etc - You may need to come to the site to see the embeded music players etc]

There's a ton of free music out there, but finding the good stuff that is worth listening to can feel like a full time skilled profession.  Well hopefully we can help out a little by providing you with some great new tunes to bump in your iPod.

First up is a new joint from Has-Lo.  Hot on the heels of his highly rated LP In Case I Don’t Make It released earlier this year, he now releases the follow up Conversation B. 
This free promotional track Light Years has been remixed by J-Zone.  It's not quite the usual style of J-Zone production that we're used to (although it still has his trade mark sound to it), but it's just as distinct and inventive.  It's also great to heat that J-Zone has returned to the production boards, as the news that he'd retired was almost like a bereavement. 

November 29, 2011

Clean that sampler please Mr. Polo.

Our contemporary Mr. Polo shares many a trait with his famous namesake. They both liked to discover and explore new lands, be it musical or actual physical land lands. Undoubtedly a shared interest in the arts is also present; early Polo was very keen on a bit of prose, later Polo a purveyor of fine Hip Hop. Fashion wise i am reliably assured that neither Polo was afraid of a hair enhanced chin, nor cutting edge hoodie.

However where the analogy departs violently is the state of their respective ships. Early Polo realised that clean equipment was going to be a must if they were to reach their targets of Asia and South America. Later Polo doesn't seem to object to people randomly scribing on his walls. Although this isn't quite true as the our 12th Century explorer was known to cheekily adorn local merchants dining room tables with a chiseled "Marco woz ere" whilst they were tying up his boat. Leading to some excruciating post lunch exchanges, which usually ended with Marco having sandpaper glued to his forehead, reluctantly assuming a 90 degree angle from the waist up and being pulled back and forth quite rapidly. A scene sadly replicated in many a prison shower, sans abrasives obviously.

Enough of my crushingly unfunny, and eventually homophobic, drivel.

I thought this was a fascinating clip that first and foremost demonstrated our protagonists incredible talent. I truly wish i had the ability to conjure magic from nothing in this manner. Later Polo carefully explains his philosophy, and some of the finer intracacies of his beat making. Detailing how he will often chop up several different drum samples to form a rhythm pattern that is to his taste, before intertwining a number of further elements, from again, a number of different records to establish a sound that is recognisably his, but innovative nonetheless.

As far as i am aware this track has not made it to a general release anywhere, please feel to correct me if i am wrong, it really deserves being riden by a talented MC!

Do check the link and i hope you enjoy.

November 26, 2011

Gravediggaz - Demo

Prince Paul recently posted this unreleased Gravediggaz demo from 1992 on his Soundcloud page.  The track is called The House That Hatred Built.

In his own words, Prince Paul says "This is the First song we recorded as the Gravediggaz in 92" . It was the intro to our demo and it was actually recorded the day I introduced these guys to each other at my house . This track never made the album but It was one of my favorite productions. This was the track that started it all .. RIP Poetic . Enjoy"

What a great piece of history to share with us, and quite timely as the Gravediggaz approach their 20th anniversary. 

The house that hatred built ( Unreleased Gravediggaz demo 92 ) by DJ Prince Paul

November 24, 2011


In case you haven't picked this up else where on the web or in the twittersphere, MTV have announced that they will be resurrecting Yo! MTV Raps for one night on the 4th Dec. The show will air on MTV2 at midnight (presumably that's US time?).

The show will be called Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts and will last 30 minutes. The original hosts (Dr Dre, Ed Lover and Fab 5 Freddy) will return as the shows presenters. Featured in the episode will be A Tribe Called Quest, Geto Boys and Ice Cube as the show looks back at a significant video from each artist during the golden era. There are a host of other artists from today's era also tipped to be making an appearance to.

Now when I first heard this news I was kind of excited at the prospect. It’s been so long since we’ve had a respectable TV series dedicated to hip hop that it’s long overdue. Then it dawned on me, not only is it a one-off episode, but it only lasts 30 minutes!!! In MTV terms, this equates to about 20 minutes (at the very most) of actual program as the station is always bloated with adverts.

Divide that 20 minutes between introductions, a couple of videos, (very) brief discussions with the artists and you’re done, episode over. Ed and Dre must be doing this purely for the love and nostalgia, because it sure isn’t going to make them much money.

20 mins!!!! C’mon MTV, if you’re making the effort to reunite the stars of the show and film another episode, then please make it worth it and at least make an hour long episode, or do a week long series. Ted Demme must be turning in his grave at this token gesture.

Oh well, I’ll reserve any further judgement until after the show. I had hoped the viewing figures would be high and MTV would see the sense in reviving one of its most significant achievements in the last 20 years. But then again, it wouldn’t work as a up to date version of the show would be littered with the Wayne’s, Jeezy’s and Drake’s of this world. So my proposal is for MTV to start re-running the old shows.

Mike Check

November 23, 2011

Queensbridge History

In my recent Silver Anniversary review of one of Tragedy Khadafi's earliest singles, I promised to share the links to the documentary on his life called Tragedy: The Story of Queensbridge.

This documentary lasts approx 1 hour and was filmed in the Queensbridge projects across a two year period.  It attempts to capture the essential parts of his life that have ultimately shaped him to the be the man that he is, and it does this relatively well. 
Whilst following Tragedy on his journey, we are given a rare and honest insight into what Queensbridge was like in the 1980's when some of the biggest names in hip hop were exploding onto the scene.  Trag himself wears his heart on his sleeve and gives frank and open accounts of his past, each one helping to put pieces of the jigsaw into place.

There are plenty of fascinating bits of information, history, interviews etc that help to make this documentary a little different to most others.  Even those who may not be fans of Tragedy or QB hip hop will no doubt appreciate this documentary for the historical perspective it portrays.
There are appearances and commentary from Marley Marl, Mobb Deep, Capone & Noreaga amongst others.

You can either watch this documentary on YouTube (in 7 parts) or download a copy to view in a single part.  Either way it's the same version. 

November 20, 2011

Silver Anniversary Series - An Intelligent Tragedy?

In this edition of the series, I’m going to shine the spotlight on an emcee who has been in the game for so long, has done so much, but seen so little success when compared to his peers, partners and accomplices.  I'm talking about Intelligent Hoodlum aka Tragedy Khadafi aka Jayski!!!!

We all know that Tragedy Khadafi originally went under the name Intelligent Hoodlum when his debut album (of the same name) dropped in 1990.  But not so many know that 5 years before this, he went under the name Jayski and was one half of a duo who called themselves the Super Kids?  The other half of Super Kids was DJ Hot Day.

Super kids dropped several 12”s in 1985 and 1986 when Tragedy was only 14 years old (although when listening to these tracks now, you would be forgiven for thinking that he was a bit younger)! Still, these early self releases on the classic Nia record label caught the attention of Marley Marl.  Marley recruited Tragedy as a junior member of the Juice Crew and then featured him on several of the tracks on his 1988 In Control – Vol 1 album and again on the follow up album (In Control – Vol 2) released in 1991.

Unfortunately, the name Tragedy was an unintentionally prophetic one, as it seems that his life was to be full of turmoil and misfortune.  Before Marley’s first album was released, Tragedy was convicted of robbery and sent to jail for 3 years, so he never got to enjoy his success.  This probably also explains why he never blew up like all the other members of the Juice Crew, their prime years were mainly 1988 to 1990.  By 1990, hip hop had moved on dramatically and he was effectively starting from scratch (again).

November 15, 2011

Who's The Martyr?

Immortal Technique has just released this free LP entitled The Martyr to accompany his tour of the same name. The album contains previously unreleased tracks and features major artists including Chuck D, Vinnie Paz, Dead Prez and Brother Ali. 
It's a generous, and well planned, offer from Immortal Technique to give us this album for free. It's another stab in the eye of corporate America and their attempts to own, control and contain hip hop culture. I know some people find him irritable, but I admire anyone who is prepared to head butt the system and deal with the consequences, especially when it leads to self sacrifice. So why not show your appreciation by downloading and supporting this album?
In its first 3 days this album had more than 250,000 downloads!!!  So who needs a major label to move units?

Also, check out the US tour dates and catch him in a town near you.

Mike Check

November 6, 2011

Blogwatch - October 2011

Damn, what a blistering month its been.  The summer hiatus is over and now I feel like I'm getting high on all of the dope content that is circulating around the web.  There's been so many great finds this month we've been spoilt for choice, so I hope you agree with my selection.  Here's the cream of the crop (incl. a free download!):

MC Lyte & Positive K
Ever wondered what happened to MC Lyte?  Well, like many of the artists from her era she's still going strong, just not on everybody's radar.  She recently hooked up with Positive K for this collaboration:

And if this is a bit too soft for you, then have a listen to this one where Lyte shows that she can still kick it hardcore.

MC Lyte has a host of other tunes that can be found on her website:  She also has a free app that you can download for exclusive pictures, content etc.  It's so good to see one of the greatest female emcee's still in the game and still going strong. 

Jedi Mind Tricks Interview
On the eve of their new album Violence Begets Violence, Viinie Paz and Jus Allah talk about JMT's current sound and direction and the absence of Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind from the production boards.  They also reflect on nearly two decades in the game and a return to their earlier sound.

Red Bull Music Academy - Slick RickComScore
Old School legend Slick Rick attends the Red Bull Music Academy's World Tour at the Bronx Paradise Theatre where he discusses his early hip hop influences, the development of his unique storytelling style and then revisits his classic debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick for a track by track breakdown, giving insightful recollections of their history.
The session lasts around an hour and a half and contains plenty of interesting history pertaining to Rick and some of his early associates.  Check the video out here:

Also, there are four more lectures like this from the Wu Tang Clan, Black Moon, Mobb Deep & Dipset.  Head over to to see each video, although you might need some spare time as they're each an hour or more in length.

Murs Interview
Murs has got to be the most underrated and under recognised emcee from the west coast (feel free to disagree or suggest an alternative name).  Having just released his latest album Love & Rockets Volume 1, Murs takes time out to discuss this and previous releases as well as his attempts to have a greater understanding of homosexuality, working with O.C., family life and plenty more.

Lord Finesse Breakbeat Mix
The microphone master takes to the decks for a mix of break beats and hip hop classics.  As one of the golden era's finest producers, Finesse has an ear for excellent beats and demonstrates that in this nice little mix.

  Lord Finesse - WFMU Mix 6 October 2011

New Masta Ace LP
Last month I gave you the heads up on the new Masta Ace and MF Doom (MA Doom) collaboration LP that's due for release real soon.  Well, to give you a taster of the new LP, Ace has released a free promo single on his website to get us all in the mood.  This single is an exclusive that won't be on released LP, so go grab it whilst you can.
When I first heard this track, I really wasn't too sure about it.  It felt a bit like a DJ mashup, but trust me, it's a real grower when you give it a couple of listens, and I'm now even more excited about the new project.

Peace out,
Mike Check.