December 24, 2012

World's Most Dangerous Group


It's been a minute since I blogged something from the west coast, and I've never really touched on one of the west's biggest names, N.W.A.  And with all the current hype surrounding Kendrick Lamar, and Compton being put back on the hip hop map, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the history of the original dudes that made Compton famous (even if it was for all the wrong reasons).
I should also acknowledge that this month saw the 20th anniversary of Dr Dre's The Chronic LP.

This hour long documentary on N.W.A. begins by portraying the L.A. environment and music history that gave birth to the formation of the band.  It then follows the groups journey into the mainstream, the controversy that followed, and ultimately the break up of the group and Eazy's death.  That's all to be expected of a documentary like this, but they also cover stories like Eazy-E's intent to kill Suge Knight, so it's not entirely what you might expect!
Overall it serves as a good reminder of the music, the press coverage and what made N.W.A. so great, the controversy.

As with everything that was once controversial, it's comical to look back and contemplate what all the fuss was about.  There's some good contributions from the band members along with Jerry Heller, Eazy's wife Tamica and The D.O.C.

Originally shown on VH1 and narrated by Chris Rock.


December 10, 2012

Ruff (Sleigh) Riders!

As its that time of year, I usually post something festive to mark the occasion (it's about as festive as I get).  I had a couple of ideas, but then this came up.  I'm not sure what's more surprising, a hardcore rapper reciting Christmas carols, or the fact that he can recall all of the reindeer names!

Merry Xmas to all of our readers, from the FoaWP crew.

End of Arsenio

For those that don't remember it, here is a clip from the last Arsenio Hall show which received a major hip hop send off from some of the biggest names in the game at the time.  Let's not forget that Arsenio Hall gave a lot of air time to rap music when many major television networks were not interested.

The line up includes, Yo Yo, MC Lyte, Naughty by Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Fu Schnickens, CL Smooth, Guru, Das EFX, GZA, Method Man and Ghostface Killah, KRS-1 and Mad Lion.

November 30, 2012

What's been out there...

November's been a pretty dope month for classic material and historical hip hop trivia, as this months round up hopefully demonstrates.  Amongst the collection is an unreleased mix of a Rakim classic, some Pharcyde craziness, and a monster collection of rare old school radio rips.  Check it out after the jump.

November 23, 2012

Akapel

A couple of months back, I was digging around in a forum when I came upon a request list from one of the admins. Most of the requests were for records that are difficult to come by, but one of them stood out to me as its a virtually unknown gem from 1992 that I didnt think many people knew about. Since seeing that request list, my fellow blogger Moyinka included exactly the same 12” on his wish list, so given the current demand, I decided to rip it and upload it so that you can all appreciate it too.

However, since I made that decision, I've had unplanned encounters with two of the main contributors to this collaborative project, so I'm able to shed some light on the people behind this EP and make links back to artists that you probably already know about.

This 12 is most commonly listed under the name Akapel. But youll have to bear with me on this one, because there's more to Akapel than first meets the eye and as I've already said, there are several other contributors to this 12. First off, the single is split into two sides, one is titled Akapel, the other is credited as DJ Use. Let me start with the DJ Use side first.

There are 4 tracks on the DJ Use side, and 3 of them are credited as being produced by Dominic Owen and Paul S. However this isnt quite right, as Paul S only produced two tracks. I recently spoke with Paul S about this 12 and he confirmed that he was only involved with tracks 2 and 4. For those who dont know, I should mention that Paul S is better known as being one half of the dope production duo, the P Brothers along with DJ Ivory.  For P Brothers fans, this is probably the earliest example of work from either of them.  
The other producer at work here is Dominic Owen (formerly known as DJ Quick), who like Paul S, is a well known and respected producer hailing from Nottingham (UK), but is now doing much greater things across the pond (more on that later). So the DJ Use side is an all Nottingham affair, and DJ Use is another aka for Dominic Owen aka DJ Quick.

The flip side is the main event and holds the single that will catch your attention. The main track is called Pick It Up and as you may have guessed from its title, it uses a familiar Black Sheep sample to very good effect.  
The emcee on this track is Akapel, but this is the only single he released under this name.  Previously he was known as Fizal Eff (more on that later).  This cut is also produced by Dominic Owen
The 2nd track is Stick Your Big Dinky In, which is more of a chugger than the jazzy main track, but it allows Fizal Eff to show a different style and drop some knowledge.   Its produced by DJ Bizzness, but what's most interesting is that he also drops some lyrics.  I never knew this until Dominic Owen told me!  Another piece of trivia I recently found out about DJ Bizzness (first hand) is that he can still bust some decent b-boy moves.

DJ Quick & Fizal Eff in 1988
Photo provided by Dominic Owen

Some of you may remember Fizals name from his time as a b-boy with the London breaking crew the Zulu Rockers.  I'm sure I don't have to introduce DJ Bizzness, if you don't know who DJ Bizzness is then shame on you!  So Stick Your Big Dinky In is an all London affair.
But there is a greater connection between the two sides of this single. Dominic Owen and Fizal Eff had worked closely together previously.  In late 1988 they created Sing-A-Song records and released material together. You may remember that about 2 years ago I did a couple of articles on Sing-A-Song records, so if you want to know more then check them out as they include some of the history of the label, links to the artists music and a review from an early Hip Hop Connection magazine.

So thats most of the history behind the people who made this single. But what about the music? Well, the main track is a typical early 90s tune with an up tempo beat, and a jazzy hook coupled with that infectious Black Sheep sample I mentioned. Most tracks like this tend to sound quite dated nowadays and lack their original appeal, but for me, this one stands the test of time much better than most. I still love it as much today as I did 20 years ago and I would recommend you take a listen.  I'm sure you will see why this single is being sought after by collectors and those in the know.

The B side of the 12 is a collection of different breakbeats/instrumentals. The first actually reminds me more of early 90's dance music (a genre that Dominic has also ventured into) and may not appeal to many of you, but the other tracks are great breaks, and track 4 sounds like classic Ultramagnetic MC's pitched up a little.  Typical of what influenced Dominic in his early days and later became the P Brothers Heavy Bronx style. 
Speaking of the P Brothers, Paul S told me that this 12" sells for a pretty penny these days, and a quick internet search confirmed that.  It's currently on Amazon US for $113. 

I'd like to say a big thank you to both Paul S and Dominic Owen for taking the time to fill in some gaps in my knowledge around this release, I'm sure some of the hip hop historians among you will appreciate the extra detail.
I'd also recommend you check out Dominic Owen's website.  Like many producers, he's not a household name, but he's worked with some major artists and I think you'll raise an eyebrow when you see some of the artists he's produced for (Raekwon, Das EFX, Rakim, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, and a Notorious B.I.G. classic to name a few).  There are some great stories and history to be found over there, so check it out.

And one last thing, the record label is Phlange Records (another of Dominic's labels).  For the uninitiated, this is old, and now seldom used, English terminology for a woman.  Usually used in a derogatory way, e.g. "I need to get some phlange tonight".  It made me smile when I saw it again as I don't think I've heard anyone use that word since about the time this record came out.  

Download the full 12" (7 tracks) in 320kbps MP3 format (52mb). 
https://hotfile.com/dl/174318444/6204ada/Akapel.rar.html

November 16, 2012

Jimi Zone

I didnt know about this J-Zone release until very recently. Its not really a mixtape or a mashup and its not a formal release either (so its not available from major retailers), therefore its kind of gone under the radar. "What is it then?", I hear  you asking.  Well, as J-Zone announces on the intro, hes produced this LP to pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix whom he was a great fan of, and because its the closest hell ever get to working with him. We certainly cant dispute that claim. But this isnt a traditional tribute or remix album either (trust J-Zone to do something a bit different).

If you can imagine for a moment that Jimi is still alive and he calls J-Zone up one morning saying,hey Zone, I need you to produce some tracks for my new album, then this is possibly what J-Zone would have produced. Its an instrumental album that fuses the funk and soul of Jimi Hendrix with the trademark production styles, infectious beats and zany samples that J-Zone has become so well known for. As an example of Zones wacky humour, theres a bit where he and Jimi have a little conversation with each other, much like James Brown used to talk to his band.

It makes for an interesting blend of styles that actually works really well. It also reminds me a little of Dangermouses Grey Album (where he reworked Beatles records into hip hop beats for the Jiggaman). And just like the Grey Album, it strikes the balance of not sounding too much like a straight sample or loop of the original artist, but retains their unique sound.

https://hotfile.com/dl/178606867/e9420f5/J-Zone_-_Experienced.rar.html

And if you like this Jimi Hendrix and J-Zone LP, then you may also like this compilation from DJ Concept that is along similar lines and contains additional contributions from J-Zone.

http://execute1200.com/v2/2008/11/13/djconcept-a-tribute-to-experience-coming-soon/

November 11, 2012

The Brotherhood - Descendants Of The Holocaust (Remix)



OK, so, I'll hold up my hand and admit that The Brotherhood kinda passed me by when I was a young 'un. In fact it was 1996 before I even knew they existed thanks to MTV screening the video promo to 'One Shot' - still my personal fave - on the UK rap show that aired after Yo's demise which I can't remember the name of. I think I must have not exactly rejected hip hop by then but I was still hanging on to the old school electro years as hip hop was beginning to become boring to me and not like it used to be so I may have stuck my head in the sand. Luckily for me I didn't bury it too far as I watched all the music shows on cable telly in the hope something decent would come around and of course it did. I bought the double vinyl LP, 'Elementalz' from the Virgin megastore a few days later and I still have it today. And that's all I had by them for many years until the internet revolution opened a whole world of 'digging' and my collection grew and I was surprised to find this 'britcore' style tune about 5 years ago. The UK style was unique back then as not everybody wanted to don MC Hammer trousers and dance like you were running on the spot to heavy hip hop beats that were aimed at b boys and b girls who still wanted to be just that. Elementalz is a step away from this record, maybe more than one as it has the head nodding almost Pete Rock-esque production style  but I guess at some stage you have to catch your breath from the old school, hardcore, fuck you music that was the signature UK style in the late eighties.

November 4, 2012

Month in Review


October has been a fairly quiet month in the blogasphere and interwebz.  Nevertheless there is always something of interest out there.  Here's my cream of the crop for October:

The Man With The Iron Fists - Soundtrack

With Rza dropping his (and Quentin Tarantion's) new film, it may surprise you to know that the accompanying soundtrack can be streamed in full, for free!  And just as you would expect from the Rza, it's a mainly hip hop affair.  Many of the Wu Tang members put in an appearance, alongside Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap, Talib Kweli, Kanye West and more. 
Which probably makes this one of the best soundtracks to accompany a mainstream movie for quite some time.  Although I guess that wasn't a particularly challenging achievement given the poor quality of most movie soundtracks.  Still, you might just enjoy it, especially Rivers of Blood with G Rap, it's the Wu-Tang back to their best.  If in doubt, check it out.



New Bumpy Knucks


Check out this new Bumpy Knuckles and Statik Selektah track, personally I thought it was better than Bumpy's recent efforts with Premo and this beat and tempo really suit his style and flow.


Chris Conway - Interview

You're probably saying to yourself 'who is Chris Conway?'.  Well read this interview and you'll see that he's one of hip hop's greatest unsung heroes.  As an engineer, Chris has worked closely with many of the biggest names in hip hop over the last two decades, including Kool G Rap, The Beatnuts, Eminem, most of DITC etc.  He's had a hand in many of our favourite classics.
Chris tells how he inadvertently taught Showbiz to use the MPC-60,  he reflects on Big L, discusses Eminem's intense attention to detail and how he influenced the mega hit Stan and plenty more.  To be honest I think Chris could have filled a 5 part interview with stories for days. 

http://othersounds.com/archives/1574

Peace out,
Mike Check

October 26, 2012

Discover New Artists

I recently read a interesting article on the Rap Genius website that reviewed several online tools you can use to discover new artists who could be suited to your musical tastes.  Now I was going to just point you to the Rap Genius article and recommend that you check it out, but I wasn't really feeling the examples they gave and I didn't think you would either, so I've decided to do my own review here.

The tools on both websites serve the same purpose.  You tell them an artist you like, and they'll tell you a number of similar artists that they think you should explore based on your input.  However, the mechanisms used to generate the suggestions differ greatly, and therefore the results you get from each site vary quite a lot too. 

TuneGlue

First of all, let’s explore TuneGlue. This is the better presented of the two websites and is based upon data provided by Last.FM and Amazon. I’m guessing that Amazon’s input is much the same as the recommendations they make on their website based on purchases that other customers have made previously.

Let me show you an example so that you can keep up with my ramblings. I decided to use A Tribe Called Quest as my favourite group, not because they are, but I think it’s fair to say that they are universally recognised and most people will know all of the main members by name. 

Click on any of the images for a larger version. 


So here you can see that when I clicked on my choice (in the centre) and chose to ‘expand’ it, 6 nodes were added, each one representing an artist with similarities to ATCQ. And we can all follow the logic here, if you like the ATCQ, then you’re probably going to like one, or more, of the suggestions being made. So I can see the influence of the input data taking shape. I’m not teaching you to suck eggs here, but please bear with me because the logic that’s apparent here will become more relevant when I move on to review the other site.

Using the ‘expand’ principle demonstrated above, you can build node upon node and uncover a wealth of additional artists. In the next screen shot I’ve done this on several nodes and then used the ‘lock position’ function to enable me to move them all around and see the connections. If you don’t lock some of them down, it can all get a bit messy!


There are a couple of other useful functions too. As you can see in the first image, there is an option entitled ‘releases’ that allows you to see all of that artists releases on Amazon. And the ‘Delete’ option allows you to remove any artists you aren’t interested in and keep your music map that little bit cleaner.

But what are the limitations? Well, the links to Amazon only work if the artist actually has music listed on Amazon. The more underground the artist is that you choose, the more limited this will be.

Equally, this applies to the main search too. If you choose someone who isn’t on Amazon or Last.FM then you will only get an initial node, there won’t be any expansions to it.

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many little known artists it is aware of, and the accuracy of many of the links. I’ve also enjoyed using the software and have spent some time just playing with it to see what it throws up. As a result of this, I now need to review some of the new artists on YouTube before parting with my cash to validate whether it can be relied upon (in my opinion, of course).

Music-Map

Music Map describes itself as ‘a search engine for music you don’t know about’, which sounds impressive. Like TuneGlue before, you enter a search term, in this case I’ve used ATCQ again, and Music Map will interrogate its database to provide you with a visual map of artists that may be similar to one of your favourites.
It uses a similar method of mapping out the results, but there are notable differences which separate it from TuneGlue and make it a distinctive tool.

Let’s start by looking at the first search result using ATCQ.


As you can see, ATCQ appear in the middle again, but they’re not quite so easy to spot. You’ll also notice that there are no links between the artist’s names and this is because they aren’t linked any way.
What Music Map does, is places the other artists closer or further from your choice depending on how many people have previously said they listen to them. So in this example, lots of ATCQ fans have also been Gang Starr fans, but despite liking ATCQ they clearly weren’t that keen on Q-Tip!
However, before I become too critical, if you look at 90%+ of the names in this example, they are mainly artists I would have suggested to someone who likes ATCQ (Mobb Deep and Jedi Mind Tricks are clear exceptions in this scenario!).

One of the plus sides to Music Map’s method is that if your listening ear extends beyond the realms of hip hop, then Music Map frequently suggests non hip hop artists. Although it should be noted that Amy Winehouse popped up frequently when I tested a range of artists.
Another benefit is that using the radius to show the closeness of the links allows you to prioritise your choices.

However on the downside, once you’ve submitted your search, what you see is what you get. There’s no ability to further expand some of the artists like there is on TuneGlue, you need to search again. I should say that if you click on an artists name it then searches that artist for you, but this takes time and the results often seem distorted.  Remember I said earlier on about understanding the logic, well at times I've struggled with Music Map's logic.  For example, in the image above the closest link to ATCQ is Gang Starr.  But when I clicked on Gang Starr to reverse the search, I found that ATCQ were a long way from Gang Starr!  So Tribe fans like Gang Starr, but Gang Starr fans don’t particularly like Tribe, a little strange.
Obviously the preferences that Gang Starr fans entered will be different to ATCQ fans, but you wouldn't expect there to be such disparity.  I can only assume the database is better populated for some artists than it is for others.
You also don’t get to see multiple links. If you look at the last screenshot of TuneGlue you’ll see that both ATCQ and De La Soul have links to Pete Rock & CL Smooth. So if you liked both of those artists, then you’re even more likely to enjoy Pete Rock than say Eric B & Rakim.

But the biggest disappointment for me with Music Map is the presentation. I feel like I’m using a Commodore 64 again, and after I search it seems to take an eternity for all the names to settle down and stop drifting about. As the database gets bigger, surely this will take longer.
The large box in the bottom left of the window is an intrusion into valuable space, and if you’re going to use the principle of a radius then some kind of faint bulls eye watermark behind the search results is surely essential.

Final Verdict

There are certainly benefits to using either tool, but overall I found myself drawn more to using TuneGlue and, based on my experiences so far, its provided a more insightful experience.
It’s also refreshing to see new ideas and innovations being developed and integrated with existing technology. This can only help us to expand our musical collections at a time when the market is so saturated, that seeking out new music can be an off putting experience.

I hope some of you find these tools useful.

Mike Check.

October 18, 2012

Crazy K.I.D.

 
I wanted to do this post a few weeks ago, but due to my NAS drive dying on me and a lack of time to fix it, it’s taken me much longer than I would have liked. The saga with my NAS drive was the main issue, because the rare footage I’m going to share below was residing on that drive, and doesn’t exist anywhere else. I’ve therefore had to rip it apart and retrieve the data, but hopefully you’ll appreciate the work involved (for the techies out there, why is there not a simple way to copy data from an XFS formatted drive to NTFS or FAT32?).

Earlier this month, I heard the tragic news that Lloyd McDevitt (AKA Crazy K.I.D.) had been found dead. He had been missing for more than a month. Although the causes of his death have not been made public, it was not suspicious. This is another tragic loss of young life and another fallen hip hop comrade.

K.I.D. was a UK legend. In the 80’s he was a key member of the world renowned Rock City Crew and recognised as one of the UK’s finest b-boys. In the 90’s he became one of the most talented, yet underrated, emcees the UK has ever had, and was sometimes referred to as a British Rakim. His most successful track is his collaboration with DJ Mink and Carruthers on the underground hit Hey, Hey, Can You Relate. I’ve previously stated that this is one of my all time favourite tracks, and more than 20 years on it stands the test of time. K.I.D. was ahead of his time and it’s a great shame he never blew up like he deserved to. There is rumoured to be an unreleased LP in existence, but whether this will ever see the light of day remains to be seen.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I had some rare footage of K.I.D. I call it ‘footage’ rather than a video because it’s important to keep this in perspective. In the early 90’s K.I.D. released an EP called Killin' MC's that was only available as a demo cassette. This is before he signed with Kold Sweat Records. The footage below is raw and unedited and was shot for a video to promote the Killin' MC's EP.  To my knowledge the video was never completed. So the sound isn’t perfect and it’s by no means a final product. However, I feel this clip shows K.I.D. flowing at his finest, taking his rap shit serious but also shows his fun loving side at the end.

I have more of this footage, and in time I may edit it down and share it with you, but for now, this is how I remember K.I.D., he was killin emcees. 
After the video, I’ve added some links to some of my fellow bloggers tributes to K.I.D. In their posts, you can download most of his back catalogue and hear for yourself what a talented emcee he was.

Lloyd McDevitt (K.I.D.) 1969-2012 - Rest in peace
 

 

October 16, 2012

A Life of Rhyme


Some of our readers based in the UK may have seen the excellent Channel 4 documentary Life of Rhyme that was originally shown last summer.  For anyone who missed it, it can now be seen on YouTube and is certainly worth watching. 

I recently shared with you a copy of Ice-T's documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rhyme.  Although this film went some way to exploring the art form, it failed to properly recognise many aspects of American rhyme styles (dirty south, mid west, bay area etc), and it completely overlooked the rest of the world.
The UK scene has long been established and constantly at the forefront of hip hop outside of the US.  It's created many interesting sub genres and for decades it's continuously carved it's own sound (well OK, there was a period where some people sounded like the yanks!).  This documentary helps to show a different perspective.

Hosted and narrated by UK emcee Akala, he explores rhyme and the evolution into emceeing through various forms of poetry and rhyming.  There are numerous well known artists (Wiley, Blak Twang, Giggs, Rodney P,  Wretch 32, Sway and many others) spitting 16 bar acapella's to demonstrate their own styles or discussing what emceeing means to them and their approach to it.

Watch out for a rare and informative interview with the highly under rated Lowkey, and then possibly skip forward a couple of minutes when the grime section kicks in, lol.

There's been very little (if anything) in recent years to document the UK rap scene and showcase it on mainstream TV.  This documentary made a pretty good job of pulling together the key players and enrolling an intellectual and respected rapper to pull it all together (instead of a random black celebrity).  Well done Channel 4.

Unfortunately Channel 4 don't want me to embed the video here, so you'll have to head over to YouTube using the link below to watch the film.  It's last approx. 45 mins.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-bjCXi13W8&feature=player_embedded

October 8, 2012

Free of Style

FreeOfStyle Mixtape (1 Long Track) cover art

This is a great little mixtape for those golden age nostalgists out there.  Instead of being the usual mix of classic tracks from established artists, this mix infuses a number of short freestyles over a selection of both well known, and not so well known beats all mixed together by DJ Sav One and DJ Dyllemma.

Dubbed the FreeOfStyle Mixtape - The Underground Come Up: 90's Edition, the whole mix lasts around 45 minutes and kicks off with a nice Lord Finesse track.  There are other DITC offerings from the likes of Big L and A.G. (who goes over a classic Jeru beat to great effect), along with some unexpected inclusions such as Dead Prez and Children of the Corn etc. 

A couple of the freestyles will be familiar to some (hasn't every freestyle by Eminem, Big L, Biggie etc been used to death?), but nonetheless there are plenty of unheard or relatively unknown tracks in here too.  These are frequently coupled with beats that you wouldn't expect, but work well and make for an enjoyable mixtape.  Check Guru over Mobb Deeps Quiet Storm instrumental for example.  The embedded music player and full tracklisting is after the jump.

Mike Check

October 1, 2012

Month in Review

 
September has been a good month.  Maybe not for everyone, but for those of us who crave old school and golden era nostalgia, it's been a bumper month.  What's been most surprising though, is that much of this little collection is kind of new, despite being old (bear with me and you'll see what I mean).  Ah heck, to save me explaining it, just peep the first item and you'll see where I was going. 
 
Be sure to follow the jump link as there are mixtapes, break beats, new music and much more for your eyes and ears.  I told ya, it's been a monster month.
 

Bizarre Tribe

 

No, I've not found a previously undiscovered group of cannibals deep in the Amazon rain forest!  But if you haven't heard this mix yet then you must have been deep in the Amazon yourself.  Amerigo Gazaway (who previously fused Fela Kuti and De La Soul to critical acclaim) has been hard at work again, this time reinterpreting the music created by A Tribe Called Quest.  Using the original soul, funk and jazz samples, Gazaway recreates the instrumentals from some of ATCQ's classics, and then drops vocals from the Pharcyde over the top.

September 25, 2012

Kool Moe Dee - Unsung


If you're under the age of 30 and have an interest in hip hop history, then this is essential viewing.  If you're over 30 (and are a b-boy/b-girl who's aging gracefully), then this is pure nostalgic pleasure and Kool Moe Dee's significance to hip hop should need no introduction.

As a pioneer of the speed rap style, one of hip hop's first intellectual rappers, and the legendary slayer of (the king of his time) Busy Bee, Kool Moe Dee's place in hip hop history is already assured.  But this documentary adds more depth to Moe Dee's contribution and contains many other interesting nostalgic moments as well as interviews with other legends from that era.  Moe Dee makes a good contribution himself and discusses his long running feud with LL Cool J and it's explained how the infamous red Kangol hat that was associated with LL Cool J ended up under the wheels of his jeep on his How Ya Like Me Now LP cover (see above).

Interestingly the programme highlights Spoonie Gee recording music before the Sugar Hill Gang's 1979 release of Rapper's Delight.  It also shows Kool Moe Dee performing on the US TV programme Graffiti Rock which the Arsonists and Non Phixion later paid tribute to in their video for their 14 Years of Rap collaborative single.

This documentary was originally shown recently on TV One's outstanding series Unsung.

Mike Check.





September 19, 2012

Art of Rap

Well, after all the hype, opinions and criticisms, if you haven’t yet seen Ice-T’s rapumentary Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap then here is your chance. Although a minority have criticised it for one reason or another, the majority seem to have welcomed its presence and feel that it fills some of the gaps that previous documentaries have failed to cover. And, it does attempt to cover the art of emceeing, rather than being a collection of interviews with old schoolers talking about how hip hop got started.

For me, this film is a welcome addition.  No single film is ever going to document hip hop perfectly, or explain the art form in consierable detail, and no matter how many people you interview there will always be an alternative opinion from someone.  But hey, it's that complexity that makes hip hop so compelling and captivating to such a broad audience.

Given that this is Ice-T’s directorial debut, I think he’s done a pretty good job. Yes it could have been better and yes it could have included so-and-so. But in fairness to Ice-T, I guess this is what happens when you have to make the film a certain length and appeal to broad enough audience that you can justify the filming costs and get it onto the big screen. With that in mind, I think we’re onto a winner. After all, when was the last time you saw a rapumentary hit the big screen like this one did?

The DVD was released yesterday and although I can’t confirm it, it appears to be longer than the film, so I’m guessing it will contain additional footage and interviews, which may go some way to pleasing the critics.

Peace
Mike Check


Note: - To get the film to play without the advert, make it full screen. Alternatively, you need to click a little x that usually appears somewhere beneath the green 'download' button.  This will close the advert and allow you to play the film at the smaller resolution.  Don't download the advertised software as you don't need it and it'll probably screw up your computer.


September 16, 2012

Saxon Scoundrels - The B Boy Master Files


These days when most people first get online the obvious thing, I would imagine, would be to look for porn. Not so in my case you'll be pleased to know as the old school b boy in me never died so my first mission was to find out some old records I wanted but never had enough money to buy. I remember searching for two records in particular, 'You Can Make It' by Charlie Brown and The CB Girls and 'Little Cezar' by Elliott Ness & The Untouchables. One of the websites that came up was one called 'Trakfinder' and it was run by a chap by the name of Russell and he called himself the MP3 Genius. There was also a message forum where you could discuss whatever you liked musically speaking as long as it was old school related. I was a little nervous at asking for stuff at first but thought what the hell, he can only tell me to cobblers so I asked for both the aforementioned tracks in mp3 format and they appeared within a few days in my inbox and I was delighted I can tell you. He also had some cut 'n' paste, Latin Rascals style mixes for download, namely 'Locked In To The Boss' parts 1 and 2 and they were  unbelievably dope. I discovered this limited 7" single pressed on orange vinyl to make it extra special and released on Freddy Fresh's B Boy Beats and Pieces label which has more of the same razor sharp editing and is the first where he teamed up with his partner in scoundrelling Ictus and they contribute an offering each, both of which I'm sure, will blow you away.



September 8, 2012

Scratch That

I'm sure many of you will already have seen Scratch, the feature length documentary on DJing and turntablism released in 2001.  But whether you've seen it already, or missed it the first time around, it's an excellent film that truly captures the world of the DJ and is certainly worth another watch.

The most poignant moment for me was seeing DJ Shadow sitting in the basement of a 2nd hand record store surrounded by towers of vinyl and telling how it's a humbling experience being a part of the big pile of people's broken dreams, and how every artist will eventually end up there.  So true, and it also highlights the many dedicated, lonely hours that go into making those beats and giving those broken dreams another chance at being heard, even if it is only for a few seconds.

Mike Check


September 2, 2012

Nobody is on holiday!

 
I thought this was the holiday season when everybody went away and the internet hit a periodic lull.  Nope.  The US heatwaves and the UK washout seems to be keeping people indoors, so there's been plenty of interesting stuff to keep me entertained this month, and here are a few things that I think you might appreciate, read plenty more after the jump:
 

Eventually - Show & A.G. LP Is Coming

For nearly a year it's been talked about, leaked, hyped, pre released etc etc, but it seems that it's now actually going to happen for real.  This is the first track from the full LP and if it's anything to go by then the LP will be some real grown man rap (at last).
 


Total Eklips

French beatboxer Eklips gives us a Hip Hop history in 4 minutes of top notch beatboxing .  He covers everything from Planet Rock, to Tupac, Public Enemy to Dr Dre and everything significant in between.  It's good fun trying to name the tunes and keep up with how quickly he flips them.

August 27, 2012

Banned (for the wrong reasons)


Not so long back, I looked back at the contribution of the 2 Live Crew in the late 80’s. During my review I committed to upload their full length VHS home video that was released in 1991.
Well, spare time has been scarce in recent months, so I’ve not had a chance to do it yet, but for once this has worked in my favour.  Instead of me sharing an old VHS rip, someone on YouTube has uploaded a laser disc version for our viewing pleasure.

Now cast aside any thoughts you might have about Luther Campbell and his somewhat unique brand of sex rap, and let us remember that the 2 Live Crew took on the US justice system to define what freedom of speech really meant.
I didn’t care how many times they use the word bitch on their album, nor how many times they used the F or N words (or any other profane or derogatory term), but I was deeply concerned about record store owners being told what they could or couldn’t stock. [Hell, I remember the only reason I copped a copy of N.W.A.’s 2nd LP was because I knew the store owner, and even then he made me buy a bullshit album and gave me N.W.A.’s album free with it so that he couldn’t be accused of selling banned album!].
If the American do-gooders had won this particular argument, it could have opened the door for wholesale censorship on a grand scale!!! So, unexpectedly, I find myself thanking Luther Campbell for fighting for our freedom of speech (but I still won’t buy his records, lol).

Watching this home movie 20 years on, I’m seeing it all from a whole new angle, and I find myself wondering whether the right outcome would have been a compromise between the do-gooders and the 2 Live Crew. Whilst I’m completely against the suppression of freedom of speech and artistic expression, I’m pretty certain that the 2 Live Crew’s victory effectively gave every record exec full authority to put as many scantily clad hip hop honeys, shaking their ass, in every video they could without the fear of being challenged. And lyrics could now be as derogatory as you like, cos hey, nobody’s going to challenge it. The problem isn’t with the derogatory content, it’s that those who specialise in this field are extremely limited in almost every other aspect of lyricism. I’m not thanking Luke for that!

What’s also interesting is the attitudes of the people, and their appetite to stop this type of music from damaging the kids, even though rock and roll had already committed most of the same crimes several decades before.

This video contains excerpts from the infamous Donahue interview, footage of the concerts that got stopped, the record store that got raided etc, along with the usual live footage and videos for the singles.

August 20, 2012

It's A Demo

I'm often found digging around in the bowels of the internet trying to find rare and elusive stuff that I've failed to obtain over the years, and sometimes I find things that I didn't even know existed until I stumbled upon them.  It's much like crate digging, but I'm not restricted to vinyl, I'm not seeking any holy grails and I'm not in dusty old record shops inducing frequent fits of sneezing!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking crate diggers.  I've happily spent many months of my life in those dusty old dungeons, but that was the old days, I'm mostly digital now. And besides, there isn't a high street store or online retailer that sells that old TV clip, concert footage or demo tape that I'm looking for, so alternative methods must be adopted.

While researching hip hop archaeology via the power of the internet, I usually wind up on some defunct blog page that once shared a rare gem, but the download link is now dead.  This sets me off on a wild goose chase to find that item elsewhere.  Successfully finding what I want is currently about 50/50 (it was higher before the demise of Megaupload!).

There is one minor problem with this hobby and the techniques I employ.  Just like a crate digger, you tend to overlook the main retailers.  This rarely concerns me, but every once in a while I find that hidden gem sitting somewhere fairly obvious and easy to find, which brings me to this post.

I was recently digging around when by fluke I came across a gem of an article on the Complex.com website.  Now maybe in the week this was published I was heavily dozing or on holiday or something, but whatever the reason was, I completely missed it.  What surprises me most though, is that something this good wasn't blogged or tweeted much more widely [if someone tells me it was, then I'll have to admit to being in a self induced coma!]. 

So what is this little gem that I'm banging on about..... well, it's only 30 demo tapes from some of the biggest and most influential artists in the rap game!!!  Each of these tapes has been digitised for your listening pleasure and most of them are essential listening. 

August 11, 2012

More Knowledge

I recently shared an old recording of what I believed was the UK Rappin' Championships and asked if any of you knew anything more about it. Well, thankfully someone came forward who knew quite a lot about this event and has provided a considerable update. So here’s a follow up post to share this information with you, along with some video footage of the event!
But before I start, I want to say a big thanks to Shan Dookna for taking the time to help out and share his extensive knowledge.

The event name is still unconfirmed, but I think I’m safe to assume that it probably wasn’t officially called the UK Rappin’ Championships, which would also explain why the all knowing internet didn’t return anything when I started digging.

The competition was actually held as part of the DMC DJ Mixing Championships, and in 1988 these were held at the Hippodrome in London. However, another trawl of the web still doesn’t provide much fruit, the main focus is purely, and understandably, on the DJing. This leads me to believe that this freestyle competition was mainly a warm up show before the main DJ event.

Shan tells me that the judging panel included members of the Cookie Crew and Mike Allen. In my original post I pointed out that the audio cuts off before the winner is announced, but I can now confirm that the winner was in fact Fresh J, who was apparently from Huddersfield. The final battle between Fresh J and MC Brooklyn is actually on YouTube and can be seen here:



One of the female emcees on the recording went by the name of Jazzi P. Shan tells me that this is the same Jazzi P that later went on to work with hip house producer Les Adams. She had a couple of commercially successful singles, as a soloist under her Jazzi P name, but also as the vocalist for Adams’ group L.A. Mix, who had a reasonable hit with the track Get Loose on which Jazzi fires some rapid rhymes. But like what happened to many artists who jumped on the hip house bandwagon, it didn’t take them very far.

August 2, 2012

Funk, History & The God MC


Here is this months round up of interesting offerings from around the internet:

 

DJ Format - Hip Hop & Funk Mix

Thanks to Battlechaser for bringing my attention to this great mix by acclaimed DJ and produced, DJ Format.  A clever mix of Hip Hop and Funk that he put together to promote his live set with Simonsound on the 18th August.  Check it out.


Rakim - Mini Documentary

It's only 10 minutes long, but any amount of time with the god emcee is always an intriguing experience.  Some nice little clips of old freestyles on the streets of NY are included too.



Mixtape History


Unkut.com recently produced an interesting article that documents the origins and evolution of the mixtape.  Personally I never really gave a thought as to how the original mixtape came about, but having read Unkut's brief lesson in mixtape history, I've certainly had an enjoyable history lesson (which is more than ever happened to me at school).

I should make it clear, this isn't about the modern mixtape that unsigned artists use in an effort to get noticed, Think of the old Kid Capri and Ron G style of mixtape. 

Your lesson awaits you:
http://www.unkut.com/2012/07/40-years-of-hip-hop-tape-culture/

July 25, 2012

Demo-lition

 

Yesterday there was a lot of buzz around the web about this awesome mixtape from Rock Steady DJ, JS-1. It’s 3 hours of demo’s from major artists, most of which were big in the 1990’s. Don’t get me wrong, the line up looks stellar and there are quite a few that I’m eager to hear, but when you take a minute to consider some of these joints, I’m not convinced they are all true demo’s.

For example, we know from many different stories how Eric B & Rakim’s early material came to be, and there certainly wasn’t a Rakim demo tape kicking around. So what I think we really have here is a collection of tracks that are either cuts that didn’t make the album, unused remixes, or early versions before they were fully mixed down etc, with a few demos thrown in for good measure.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the mix any less interesting (in fact it probably makes it better as demo tapes can, understandably, sound very amateurish), but it’s good to keep things in perspective. I’ve included the full track list after the jump, along with the download link.

And if hearing a demo from your favourite golden era artist is your kind of thing, keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I’ll be posting 30 more demo tracks, and this time they will be the proper original demo tapes!

Mike Check.

July 22, 2012

A Fresh Lick of Paint


Hello peeps. The new site is now up and running, and there have been a few changes to the appearance and layout. It also seems to be operating a little slicker than before (not that we had any problems previously).

We've been running for nearly two years, and so it seemed a good time to tart the place up a little bit. Be careful as you look around though, there's still some patches of wet paint :)

Mike Check.

July 16, 2012

Do you know anything about this?



Whilst digging in my (digital) crates looking for something a little different to share with you, I stumbled across an mp3 rip that intrigued me. The file name simply said ‘UK Rappin Championships 1988’. I’ve had this for quite a while, so I can’t remember where, or who, I got it from. “Not a problem” I thought, I’ll just do a quick Google search to find out more.

But this is one of those items where the all knowing internet surprisingly returns zilch!!! I’ve got cassette rips that I consider more obscure or rarer than this, but most of them have turned up on blogs or YouTube. Yet this is a national championship akin to other competitions like the DMC, so it seems strange that it’s undocumented. I tried several popular search engines and numerous variations of search text, but the only thing I can find is an entry on Last.fm that has no description. This has just made me all the more curious. This is a part of UK hip hop history that is clearly undocumented, so if you know anything about it, however trivial, then please leave a comment below and let’s see if we can build a better picture of this event.  On the plus side, it does mean that this is probably an exclusive to FoaWP!

If you listen to the embedded music player below, you can hear that it sounds like an officially organised event and one of the first emcees to appear is an MC Einstein. I can only assume that this is the same Einstein that was signed to Music of Life records in 1988. Other named emcees are MC Brooklyn, Jazzy P and Miss Delight, but I think there are other uncredited emcees.

From what I can make out, the format was to line up a number of emcees and let them take turns, as opposed to the now traditional battle style of head to head dissing. However, there are still some nice little battles within this format (listen at around 6:15 for a good example of this). The host also makes a reference to ‘last year’ so this wasn’t the first or only event of its kind.

Whilst the judges are deliberating who the winner is, an unknown beatboxer entertains the audience which includes a nice little tribute to the kids TV programme Rainbow. The biggest travesty though is that whoever edited this from its original cassette omitted to include the announcing of the winner, duh!

The whole affair has been edited down to just less than 25 minutes. As you would expect with a recording of this age, it’s got the atmospheric cassette hiss in the background, but this doesn’t detract from the lyrics, if anything it’s a timely reminded of what we used to endure without really noticing it.

So, can you remember this event? Do you know where it was, who hosted it, or any of the contenders? Let’s hope someone can shed some light on it.  Leave a comment below if you have any info.

Update - Some of the questions here have now been answered.  Check out the update here.

Mike Check



Alternatively, download the mp3: https://hotfile.com/dl/156219942/d041742/UK_rappin_championships_1988.mp3.html

July 9, 2012

De La Soul

The month of April saw the (incredibly quiet) release of De La Soul's Plug 1 & Plug 2 presents... First Serve, the latest LP from the group’s front men.
I’d forgotten that this LP was in production and its stealthy release did nothing to bring it to my attention, nor will it help its sales.  As a result, I’ve not yet listened to it so I’m not going to comment on it.

Instead, when I accidentally spotted that the album is now out, it reminded me of several De La Soul videos I have sitting in my archive, and I subsequently realised that De La Soul haven’t made an appearance on this blog yet. So I think it’s time to put that right.

I wanted to upload the original 3 Feet High and Rising VHS release from 1990 that accompanied their debut LP, but I haven’t got the time to convert if from a vob file at the moment, so instead I’m going to hit you up with this rare concert footage from 1997.

This concert was filmed in Belgium at the Lokerse Festival. In an effort to make it a little more interesting than just the plain raw footage of Plug’s 1, 2 and 3 on stage, the editor has added some visual effects. Although the effects don’t detract from the concert or the music, they’re a little odd as the quality falls somewhere between amateur home video and authorised professional release. If these effects had been added to the video when it was recorded in 1997 then I probably wouldn’t have commented, but according to the closing credits the film was edited in 2008!

But don’t let any of this deter you from watching this DVD as the trio delivers a balanced mix of tracks from their early albums (which some might say was when they were at their best), all tightly pulled together and well performed.

Tracklist and embedded video after the jump.

July 2, 2012

Latest Bloggings

Here is this months round up of goodness from around the web and bloggasphere.  As is often the case with my highlights from the web, it's a mixed bag of old and new, but hopefully it's still full of the realness that us true hip hop heads are in need of (if not, please let me know in the comments section).

Before I get into some of these gems, I want to welcome Moyinka to the FoaWP team. He's an experienced blogger who shares many of his old school rarities (1986-1991) over at the To The Break of Dawn blog (which I recommend you check out). I think he's got something slightly different planned for this blog, but I don't want to spoil any surprises.

Up North Trips Presents The 10s

The fella's at Up North Trips have paid homage to one of the most significant album releases of the 90's, Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's Mecca and the Soul Brother which celebrated it's 20th anniversary earlier this month. 
They've picked 10 tracks from the album and focused on the samples and beat construction to highlight the complexity and ingenuity of Pete Rock's production and thus the major influence his work has had on other producers ever since.  The end product is a brilliant mix of the original samples blended with the finished tracks.
You can listen to the mix on the Soundcloud player below, but I'd strongly recommend reading the full article to gain the full appreciation of this mix. 
 

Large Professor - Part 2


Following on from last months update, Extra P continues to break down his classic records in part 2 of Complex's review.  He not only talks about his productions, but also the tracks he featured on as an emcee working with people like Nas, Pete Rock, Beatnuts etc.  He also gives insights behind Nas' groundbreaking track Rewind (the one where he tells the story in reverse). 
http://www.complex.com/music/2012/06/large-professor-tells-all-the-stories-behind-his-classic-records-part-2/

Kurious & A.G.

Kurious is back with a new joint which features A.G. on the mic and Diamond D on the boards.  It's not what you might expect from Kurious or the DITC veteran, but it's still funky all the same.  Thanks to the DJ Premier Blog for sharing this.



Mike Check

June 23, 2012

Bomb The Bass - Megablast (Original Rap Version)


After many attempts at locating this particular version I finally had the good fortune of stumbling across it and I do mean stumbling. The recent bombardment of mix tapes with unknown or 'random' rap cuts have made me in to a bit of a wreck trying to track down certain records that I never knew existed, which admittedly is a lot easier nowadays what with the internet and all, but also actually owning quite a few that were featured is a surprise and also makes me glad I don't have to shell out silly money to get them. I'm referring in particular to the excellent 'Crown Jewels' series of mixes by King Aroe and the Sound Makers, volume 2 containing this excellent version of a reasonably popular record from the late eighties. It came free with a copy of the Record Mirror and on the back of the sleeve states, 'unavailable elsewhere' although I was told just yesterday by an online acquaintance that this was on the LP which made me feel slightly miffed but I only paid 99p so who could grumble at that? There's loads of these on discogs and they're all incredibly cheap, some starting at 75p and I only went for the 99p one because of the very reasonable p&p the seller was asking for. There's 3 other tracks on it too, all pretty ordinary and not worthy of a mention here but I ripped the whole thing anyway for the completists among us. All hail Michael Viner and his Incredible Bongo Band.

June 19, 2012

Yo! Documented


First off I've got to say thanks to Warz over at the StyleWarriorzRevenge blog for digging this up.  For anyone who missed it, VH1 showed a documentary about Yo! MTV Raps a couple of weeks back.  Now don't let yourself be put off by the previous efforts that have feebly attempted to reflect on this iconic show, this is the real deal.  Firstly it was an hour long show (the minimum needed to do any kind of justice to a 7 year programme that hosted 100's of artists).  Ed and Dre are back reflecting on the highs and lows and some of the back stage drama that went on (like Chuck D being mad at Flava Flav for dropping crack on the stage during a live performance!).

If, like me, you had an episode of Yo! as part of your daily routine then this is essential viewing.  A copy of this documentary briefly appeared on DailyMotion for about a day, but it was quickly removed, so watch this pronto in case the same thing happens again!

The full episode is embedded after the jump

Mike Check

Update - If you haven't seen the first episode of Yo! (or maybe you've not seen it for a long time), then you can get it here in one of my previous posts.

June 12, 2012

My God!

Pace Won and Mr. Green have just leaked a new track, entitled My GOD, from their long awaited forthcoming album The Only Number That Matters is Won which follows up their 2008 LP The Only Colour That Matters is Green.  The new album has been talked about for the best part of a year and feels long overdue, but it's now got a release date of September 4th 2012.  The album features collaborations from Snoop Dogg, Masta Ace and Lee Scratch Perry.

These guys are the perfect blend.  Green's retro sounding beats perfectly compliment Pace's authentic, old school, rhyme style, yet neither sound outdated.  The end product is real, conscious hip hop that's reminiscent of how things used to be, but still contemporary enough to be fresh, new and innovative.  If you need more proof, see my previous post which contains two of their best pieces of recent work.

In the meantime check out their new track which represents what we can expect more of when the album drops.

Mike Check

June 3, 2012

Golden Era History

Large Pro breaks down his classic records


I think the title says it all.  Extra P tells Complex.com the stories behind some of his classic joints whilst this month sees him release his latest LP Professor @ Large.  Essential reading:

http://www.complex.com/music/2012/05/large-professor-tells-all-the-stories-behind-his-classic-records-part-i/#gallery

Nas - The Making of It Was Written


Complex.com has produced a number of gems this month.  As well as the Large Pro stories, they've also produced something that is long overdue, a proper look at Nas' 2nd LP It Was Written.  His debut LP Illmatic has been analysed, dissected and digested to the point where there is nothing new left to say, but his 2nd LP is largely ignored.  As Complex rightly point out, it's his best selling LP to date and there was so much riding on it.  How the hell do you follow up Illmatic?  It could have easily been a flop and signalled the end of Nas' career, but it didn't, so how was this achieved:

http://www.complex.com/music/2012/05/the-making-of-nas-it-was-written/

Free Ice-T albums

The OG rapper has offered to share two of his lesser known albums for free. 

The first is an album that was originally recorded in 2004 when he was part of the SMG collective which consisted of Smoothe Da Hustler, Trigger Tha Gambler and the Ice man himself.  However this album was never released worldwide and therefore it is relatively unheard.


The second album is more recent and is released under his Twitter moniker, Final Level. 

To obtain your free copies, go to his bandcamp page and select to 'buy' the album.  Then enter 'zero' in the price box.

Peace
Mike Check