Monday, November 30, 2009

Souls of Mischief - 93 'til Infinity | Insomniacs Club

Souls of Mischief are back!

Their new album, Montezuma's Revenge, drops in just a few hours!

Preview + Support

Bandcamp: Hip Hop Is Read Approved

Word to the wise: I like Bandcamp. If you're a new artist that wants to pitch your music, Bandcamp is the way to go. No attachments needed; no horribly-tagged files to deal with. Just music, straight from the website. No BS. Bandcamp, again, is the way to go. Check out our sidebar's "Now Playing" section. Simple, right? Bandcamp. The way to go. Add a Twitter account with a strong following and you're on your path to success. Want me to hear your music? I might click your zShare/Limelinx/Usershare/Mediafire/Sharebee link - only if I know you. Otherwise, no dice. Bandcamp, please. I won't say it again.


Guy who deletes most e-mails with attachments.

P.S. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, but seriously, if I had a penny for every "media blast" I've received, I'd be swimming in... well, I'd be swimming in a lot of copper-plated zinc, quite frankly.

Timbaland - Shock Value 2 | First Peek

I didn't think much of Timbo's first installment of the Shock Value series (check out my review from 2007), so my expectations for this record aren't too lofty to begin (especially after looking over the features; Miley Cyrus? Really, Timbo?). Might be worth a download though, if at least just to stay on top of the album's upcoming singles (we'll get into that later with a new DJ Raida-approved feature...). More info on the album below:

Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel - Fall of the Roc

Here's one of the highlights from Jay-Z & B.I.G. Pt. 1: it's a mix of Hov's verses from American Gangster's "Fallin'" with Beanie Sigel's beat (and select vocals) from "Run to the Roc" off his overlooked '09 album The Broad Street Bully. In the midst of Jay and Sigel's beef (which I hope either escalates or, preferably, resolves itself), this well-conceived mix is perfectly executed.

DOWNLOAD: Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel - Fall of the Roc (Mix) [MP3]

From DJ Whiteowl's Jay-Z & B.I.G. Pt. 1

DJ Whiteowl & Massive Trip - Jay-Z & B.I.G. Pt. 1 | Download

I bumped into DJ Whiteowl by chance last summer; cool guy to meet. You might know his mixtape series Whiteowl Drop That. This right here is something different. It's mostly a blend tape, combining verses from Brooklyn's Finest, Biggie and Jay. Plenty of cool remixes here, check it out:

Tracklisting + (Rapidshare) Download Link Below:
1. The Notorious B.I.G. - Hardcore (2:33)
2. The Notorious B.I.G. - Take It Easy 2010 (feat. Mad Lion) (2:17)
3. The Notorious B.I.G. - It's Like That Y'All (feat. Black Rob) (2:35)
4. The Notorious B.I.G. - King of N.Y. (3:21)
5. The Notorious B.I.G. & Jay-Z - Excistance (2:39)
6. The Notorious B.I.G. - Freestyle #1 (1:28)
7. Jay-Z - M.A.F.I.A. (2:01)
8. Jay-Z - Fire in the Eyes (feat. Michael Jackson, Method Man & Mos Def) (4:33)
9. Jay-Z - Rebirth (2:29)
10. Jay-Z - Transform (feat. Lil Wayne) (4:12)
11. Jay-Z - Fall of the Roc (feat. Beanie Sigel) (2:37)
12. The Notorious B.I.G. - Whatchugonnado (2:03)
13. The Notorious B.I.G. - Suicidal (2:11)
14. The Notorious B.I.G. - Floating in the Sky (Remix) (feat. KiD CuDi) (3:15)
15. The Notorious B.I.G. - The Big Apple (feat. Gravy & Busta Rhymes) (2:44)
16. Jay-Z - 700% (3:56)
17. The Notorious B.I.G. - Freestyle #2 (1:54)
18. Jay-Z - The Watcher (Whatchu Remix) (feat. Rakim) (2:28)
19. Jay-Z - Warm It Up, Jay (1:00)
20. Jay-Z - Me I Play (1:47)
21. Jay-Z - No Hooks (feat. 2Pac) (2:06)
22. The Notorious B.I.G. - Haffa Speaking from the Dead (2:31)
23. Jay-Z - Lick Shots (2:18)
24. DJ Whiteowl & Massive Trip - Outro (Jay-Z & B.I.G. Pt. 2 Coming Soon) (0:45)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Souls of Mischief - That's When Ya Lost | Insomniacs Club

Souls of Mischief are back!

Their new album, Montezuma's Revenge, drops this Tuesday!

Preview + Support

Snoop Dogg - Malice N Wonderland | First Peek

A follow-up to last year's surprisingly solid Ego Trippin', the Big Dogg's new album, Malice N Wonderland boasts production from frequent collaborators like The Neptunes, Scoop Deville and Battlecat, as well as Timbo and Lil Jon. Malice N Wonderland drops in a week, on Tuesday, December 8th. Check out the album's tracklisting, production credits, preview tracks and snippets below:

Clipse - Til the Casket Drops | First Peek

Virginia rap duo the Clipse first broke onto the scene in 2002 with their debut record Lord Willin'. Featuring the hugely-popular club tracks like "Grindin'", emcees Malice & Pusha T certainly raised some heads. In the midst of a series of acclaimed mixtapes, these crack rappers upped the ante with 2006's Hell Hath No Fury, earning heaps of praise from heads and hipsters alike.

Enter 2009, where the pressure is on for Pusha T and Malice more than ever before. Til the Casket Drops, their first album non-exclusive to Neptunes production, features equal participation from the likes of the Hitmen and DJ Khalil. Tracks that have already been released or leaked, like "Kinda Like a Big Deal", "Popular Demand (Popeye's)" and "Door Man" have sparked interest and hit The Tape Deck's radar. Now let's preview a few more tracks!

Souls of Mischief - Montezuma's Revenge | First Peek

It's been a minute since I dropped a First Peek post, but I think they're great to keep your heads up for upcoming releases to look forward to. I'll try and post them more often, particularly since they'll work in union with my weekly In Stores Today drops. Hip Hop Is Read is great for music compilations, but I also want to work on turning this into a more opinionated blog. Moving on...

The Oakland-based rap collective Souls of Mischief is releasing Montezuma's Revenge, their highly-anticipated follow-up to 2000's Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution. If you've been listening to The Tape Deck, you've probably heard a few cuts from the album. Check below for Montezuma's Revenge's tracklisting, production credits (Prince Paul!), (more) preview tracks and a pre-order link. The album drops this Tuesday, December 1st. I haven't given it a full listen, but I will by Tuesday and offer my two cents.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Tape Deck '09: Volume #60

The Tape Deck '09: Volume #59

Friday, November 27, 2009

O.C. - Born 2 Live | Insomniacs Club

Artist: O.C.
Song: "Born 2 Live"
Album: Word...Life (1994)
Producer: Buckwild

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"We Got Hosed"

What are you thankful for?

Mos Def & Talib Kweli – History (Live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon = Yo! MTV Raps2K9

Lupe Fiasco - Enemy of the State: A Love Story

Like most e-released mixtapes, this one's ID3 tags were blah. Fixed 'em. How we do. Enjoy new Lupe. Lasers coming soon but not soon enough.

Tracklisting + (Rapidshare) Download Link Below:
1. Lupe Fiasco - Enemy of the State: A Love Story (Intro) (0:44)
2. Lupe Fiasco - The National Anthem (Radiohead) (3:24)
3. Lupe Fiasco - All the Way Turnt Up (Travis Porter) (1:58)
4. Lupe Fiasco - Fireman (Lil Wayne) (2:33)
5. Lupe Fiasco - L.A.S.E.R.S. Manifesto Interlude (0:19)
6. Lupe Fiasco - Angels (Remix) (Dirty Money) (3:10)
7. Lupe Fiasco - So Ghetto (Jay-Z) (1:15)
8. Lupe Fiasco - Say Something (Timbaland) (2:47)
9. Lupe Fiasco - Thank You (Jay-Z) (1:53)
10. Lupe Fiasco - The One (Slaughterhouse) (1:30)
11. Lupe Fiasco - Popular Demand (Clipse) (2:00)
12. Lupe Fiasco - HP Skit (0:36)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Queen Latifah - I Can't Understand | Insomniacs Club

Artist: Queen Latifah
Song: "I Can't Understand"
Album: Black Reign (1993)
Producer: Tony Dofat

O.C. & A.G. - "2 for the Money" (Live in Brooklyn)

Produced by underrated beatsmith Showbiz, "2 for the Money" is one of the many notable tracks on Oasis: Together Brothers available in stores as of yesterday (and HHIR's New Album of the Week). Beat kinda sounds like "Street's Disciple", don't it?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Redman - Blow Your Mind | Insomniacs Club

Artist: Redman
Song: "Blow Your Mind"
Album: Whut? Thee Album
Producer: Erick Sermon
Quotable: "The kind of loops I sample from a James Brown group/
I give credit cause I'm cautious about lawsuits/"

Apathy Sets In | Politics as Usual

He hasn’t waved his wand and fixed the economy! He hasn’t gotten us out of Iraq and Afghanistan! He hasn’t fixed the health care system! Jeez, Barack Obama is such an asshole!

Only in our overly-medicated, A.D.D.-plagued society of wishy-washy idealists could you be so hysterical (double meaning there) and impetuous. If I hadn’t seen the above pic shared by nearly all of my Google Reader contacts, I probably wouldn’t be so peeved about it since I catch a good whiff of anti-Obama rhetoric just about every day. But I get pissed off by this shit.

The problem lies on both ends of the spectrum. On the right, you’ve got Reagan-worshippers who mourn their long-gone flag-bearer of conservatism. They resent the fact that Barack Obama is the left’s own Ronnie Wilson. They call him a Messiah to mock his followers – sometimes they’re right – while hypocritically dumping undeserved praise on Reagan as if he’ll rise up from the dead and take them to the promised land. Then on the left, you’ve got folks who aren’t really hip to the game of politics and the machine of Washington, D.C.; these people got caught up in the hype of the ’08 election and expected the world to change in January of ‘09. Well, it did change! Obama is popular all across the globe and Americans don’t have to throw a red maple leaf button on their traveling bags anymore. But it didn’t change that much. How drastic did you expect it to be? In just ten months? Really? I could never understand the basis for this blind flock of sheep’s otherworldly vision of the future. And that goes for the left and the right.

Here’s the scenario: Right-wingers are going batshit, hollering “gimme back my country” at town halls and left-wingers are down and out because they expect more from Obama. Shit. Meanwhile, Barack’s carrying a steady pace through the middle, just like he said he would, just like rational voters (thaaaat’s me!) anticipated from the get go. If your hope is fading already, you didn’t have much to begin with. That or your head was wedged so firmly up your ass, entangled in the t-shirts, bumper stickers, that catchy O logo and the plethora of celebs who showered their support. And now, to show your dissatisfaction with the Prez, you’re gonna buy another t-shirt. How… fitting. Wake your ass up to your own ineptitude, please!

When it comes to politics, I’m an outspoken guy. I’ve brought a lot of conservative friends and acquaintances down at otherwise cheery events (i.e. house parties, etc.). Sorry ‘bout that (really). I wear my political heart on my shoulder. Fuck a hipster douchebag t-shirt. For what it’s worth, I’m also one of those sorry saps who’s waiting on Barack to turn the heat up and put the pressure on. But I recognize that he walks a fine line on some Philippe Petit type shit. You should too. And if you knew what this game will do to you (whattup, Big), it’s that it crushes your spirit. So keep hope alive.

Have you called a local representative about health care? Have you shown your dissatisfaction with them? You know, the politicians who openly ignore the majority of their constituents who are crying out for the public option, bowing instead to big business. No? Of course not. You’re too busy buying an overpriced t-shirt.

You could be one of those Alex Jones-listening conspiracy theorists (*cough* Bol *cough*) who have valid issues to raise against Obama and how he’s continuing the policies of his predecessor. Hey, I fux with you more than the apatheists because at least you’re digging for truth. But I still think it’s too early to seal the book on the President just yet. The angry left does a great disservice to people who actually need affordable health care and folks who want to see their loved ones abroad come back home when we’re as hostile to the president as the right-wing is.

That’s how the right-wing always gets us when a Democrat is in power. They attack. We back down. But when they come to power, they stick together and put up an iron curtain. We attack. They attack us back. They don’t eat their own like we do. We should change that. The only thing fading is your own participation. Change that too.

In Stores Today: November 24, 2009

Angie Stone - Unexpected
Worth it? Not as good as Mahogany Soul, but that's not much of a statement. Give Unexpected a shot if you're a fan. Otherwise check out her old stuff and keep it moving.

Birdman - Pricele$$
Wo... No.

Bill Cosby - The Cosnarati: State of Emergency
Worth it? You know, for all the rap-bashing Mr. Cosby -- one of my all-time favorite comics, so don't take this as disrespectful -- has done over the years, you'd think he'd co-sign something a little better than this! I mean... If you listen to the record, you can kind of understand why he put his stamp on it: this is so-called "conscious" rap. But it's not very good "conscious" rap. It reminds me of that CD that Cornel West put out, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations only this is much, much worse. If you've got some cash to spend, buy this instead. Trust me.

Boot Camp Clik - Triple Threat
Worth it? Why the hell not!? For under $20, you can be the proud owner of three great Boot Camp albums of the 00's: Sean Price's Monkey Barz, 9th Wonder & Buckshot's Chemistry and Smif-N-Wessun's Reloaded. This one's for the die-hard fans and the folks who missed out on the first go-round for these solid albums. Everyone else can save their hard-earned spinach.

Miles Davis - The Complete Columbia Album Collection
Worth it? The recession's still goin' on, right? Uhuh. So what the fluck is this? Truth be told, if I had the dough I'd throw myself at this ridiculous box set. This exclusive boasts 52 Miles Davis albums -- most of which I have (and you should think of getting) on MP3 -- released via Columbia Records over a span of 30 years. Each CD comes in a sleek vinyl-replica jacket and you get bonus stuff like a DVD, a book and unreleased goodies as well. Like I said before, be my guest if you've got the money. But even better, if you're stacked like that, why don't you go ahead and pay my utility bills as well!?

O.C. & A.G. - Oasis
Worth it? In a year where we've seen plenty of collabo records (KRS-One & Buckshot, Masta Ace & Edo G), we've also seen plenty of disappointment. Ahem... from those records. Sad, right? Thankfully, Oasis is one of the better albums to come out from this bunch of lackluster polly records from rap legends. Oasis gets a HHIRecommendation, but Runaway Slave and Word...Life get HHIReverence.

Rihanna - Rated R
Worth it? If you follow and read Hip Hop Is Read on a regular basis, then no. 'nuff said.

Various Artists - Def Jam 25: DJ Bring That Back, Vol. 1 & 2
Worth it? No. No, no, no! Don't get me wrong, the music is great, but it'd be a travesty to pay a record label that's making money from a legacy of the past while they shit all over it in the present. So don't! What I don't understand about this release is the wide range that they cover. On one disc you've got classic old school cuts like "This Is How We Do It", "Bring the Pain" and "911 is a Joke". The other disc is chock full of Rihanna, Young Jeezy and Rick Ross. Huh? This entire set represents the depressingly sad decline of Def Jam Recordings.

Various Artists - Ultimate Death Row Box Set
Worth it? This'll set you back a cool $40, but hey, it's got a t-shirt! How can you go wrong? The difference between this and that Def Jam set is congruity. If you love West Coast gangsta rap, dive ride into this 3-disc collage.

Wiz Khalifa - Deal or No Deal
Worth it? If you're the type to go apeshit for Drake then by all means please familiarize yourself with the lesser-known -- but still relevant on the scene -- Wiz Khalifa. Your best bet is to check out his free mixtape, released just a few weeks ago, called Burn After Rolling. And then you have to decide... deal, or no deal.

New Album of the Week:

Friday, November 20, 2009


I don't know which is worse: the fact that we see the closet door and anticipate its fall while she's none the wiser, the actual hit to the head that this girl receives, or the fact that we receive enjoyment from watching children get hurt!

Still funny though...

Video of a Hot Girl Belly Dancing to an Obscure Timbaland Sample

Need I say more?

Props if you can figure out the track Timbo used this for!

Hint: Think 2001 :D

Samples of the Year 2000

As we approach 2010, I set out on this mission with the expectation of wrapping up a decade’s worth of the best samples of the 2000’s, but the task was too great for me to finish by December 31st. I hope you won’t mind that this series will run well into next year.

What you’ll find below are a total of 38 samples for songs from 2000. Why 38? That’s what I could fit into a 200 MB .zip file! After I finish wrapping up the decade, I’ll probably compile a mix or two of leftover samples. That’s where you can come in! In the comment section below, please feel free to add any samples you remember from 2000 (or 2001, 2002…). The tracks I’ve included below were my own personal favorites. For the most part, I went after single releases, but many of these are b-sides and album-only tracks. Enough chit chat, here’s the music… Dig in!

Albert King – “Oh, Pretty Woman”
Sampled for: Wu-Tang Clan – “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)”

What a way to jump things off! Produced by the RZA, “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)” actually featured a handful of samples; but it’s the loop that begins at around 01:17 of Albert King’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” that strikes out the most. I’m not surprised the RZA was digging through some blues records since his musical palette is extensive, but how did he conceive of this ridiculous cut? The sample was originally released on King’s 1967 album Born Under a Bad Sign which was later included on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Baby Huey – “Hard Times”
Sampled for: Ghostface Killah – “Buck 50 (featuring Method Man, Cappadonna & Redman)”

Beyond gully, “Buck 50” was the bangingest Wu-Banga on Supreme Clientele, hands down. Everybody’s verses flowed seamlessly, but Reggie’s was notable for offering a rare Red/RZA tandem; now what’ll it take for The Abbot to produce a Mef-less track for Redman?

Biz Markie – “Make the Music With Your Mouth”
Sampled for: Jay-Z & Mya – “Best of Me, Pt. 2”

Unleashed by DJ Clue on his “Backstage” mixtape to the Hard Knock Life tour, “Best of Me, Pt. 2” was one of those tracks that were better than the original (sorry, Kiss). The unmistakable snare stabs and various vocal snippets on this Biz classic provided the basis for this summer anthem featuring two of the hottest solo acts of the time, Jay-Z and Mya.

Blowfly – “Outro”
Sampled for: Jurassic 5 – “Quality Control”

“Quality Control” was the first J5 song I ever heard, and oddly enough the photo for the album’s cover was shot a few blocks away from where I lived at the time. This smooth jam featured a brilliant sample from the outro track to foul-mouthed Blowfly’s 1973 record The Weird World of Blowfly. A great find by record junkie Cut Chemist. Damn I wish these brothers were still making music together…

Bobby Caldwell – “Open Your Eyes”
Sampled for: Common – “The Light”

Produced by J Dilla (then known as Jay Dee), “The Light” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance and shoulda won (sorry, Em). Dedicated to the ladies, “The Light” helped to bring Common a legion of new female fans and usurp Cool J’s LL crown. You’ve gotta love what Dilla did with this Caldwell classic: submerged instruments and vocals with Jay’s own drums stapled on top. Smooth.

Charlie Whitehead – “Shaft’s Mama”
Sampled for: Reflection Eternal – “Move Somethin’”

There’s plenty of lovely soul material to be sampled on the first two minutes of this Charlie Whitehead cut, but Hi-Tek insisted on waiting ‘til the 2:06 mark for something a little more sinister. Speeding up the loop and throwing on some menacing drum kicks, Tekzilla’s vision materialized as the ear-popping kick-start to Reflection Eternal’s first and hopefully not last album. Nudge, nudge…

David McCallum – “The Edge”
Sampled for: Dr. Dre – “The Next Episode (featuring Snoop Dogg, Kurupt & Nate Dogg)”

Why is this song here if 2001 came out in 1999? Well, “The Next Episode” dropped as a single in 2000, so that’s why! Most people go crazy over the ominous horns that commence on McCallum’s “The Edge”, but I get a kick out of those sparse pluckings that find their way in between this cacophony of brilliance which seemed to be prepackaged for future hip hop producers to take full advantage of in later years. And why shouldn’t it be the good doctor?

Dido – “Thank You”
Sampled for: Eminem – “Stan”

This song was major. First and foremost, the radio version of this track was over five minutes. That’s huge considering the fact that most of the songs of the day – or today – were no more than four minutes in length. But the subject matter and lyrical content was light-years beyond anything else playing. In the midst of playlists where Mystikal wanted you to shake ya ass, No Doubt wanted you take a dip in the bath with them, Jay-Z wanted you to give it 2 him and *NSYNC were bye-bye-bye-ing away, Eminem was telling the story of a psychotic fan whose obsession pushed him to drive off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend. And “Stan” got more play than all those aforementioned tracks! And he performed the song at the Grammy’s. With Elton John! It kind of sucks that Dido’s beautiful song rests in the shadow of “Stan”, but hey, that’s how it goes…

Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band – “Cherchez La Femme”
Sampled for: Ghostface Killah – “Cherchez LaGhost (featuring U-God)”

There were actually two samples on this Supreme Clientele single, but this Savannah Band sample is more likely to ring a bell for you. Producer Carlos Bess stripped things down to create a light soundscape for Ghost and Huey to bust their lighthearted raps.

Eddie Holman – “It’s Over”
Sampled for: Ghostface Killah – “Nutmeg (featuring RZA)”

Another Supreme Clientele cut, “Nutmeg” demonstrates RZA’s loopy production style, loopy in more ways than one. What other producer would have thought of this? No one I can think of... other than The Abbot!

Edwin Starr & Blinky – “Sweet Joy of Life”
Sampled for: The Lox – “Recognize”

This sample was not easy to come by, but I’m so glad I found it. DJ Premier is a master of chopping and partitioning instrumentation and he does just that with subtle snippets from this overlooked gem from Just We Two. “Recognize” wasn’t released as a single, but it should have been as it was my favorite track off of We Are the Streets.

Foreigner – “Cold as Ice”
Sampled for: M.O.P. – “Cold as Ice”

So here was Fizzy Wo’s plan: take a classic rock jam and inject it with some mash out madness. You better believe he hit the nail on the head. Few songs match the gulliness factor of “Cold as Ice”. Just blast this out your window anytime you want to frighten the shit out of your neighbors.

Foreigner – “I Want to Know What Love Is”
Sampled for: Memphis Bleek – “In My Life”

Another Foreigner track? I know. I’m sorry. This track might not be a great fit since 90% of you have never heard this Memphis Bleek track. A lot of folks clown on Malik, but I feel it’s generally undeserved. Go back and listen to “In My Life” and tell me you don’t catch a head bopping vibe. Produced by Just Blaze, this introspective track closed out Bleek’s sophomore record The Understanding. Shocker: Bleek’s discography rests securely in my iPod. Sorry, haters.

Francois De Roubaix – “Dernier Domicile Connu”
Sampled for: Lil’ Bow Wow – “Bow Wow (That's My Name) (featuring Snoop Dogg)”

Blast from the past, right? I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “all that and a bag of chips” back in 2000. It’d probably amount to no more than a meager four dollars, but that’s still more than it should be for such a bizarre saying. Jermaine Dupri scooped up this sinister string sample from who knows where. The funny thing about “That’s My Name” is that aside from Bow Wow’s age, it doesn’t sound dated (to me at least). And it’s definitely better than anything else that Bow Wizzy’s dropped ever since. And now that I think about it, the music video for this track predated the scourge and trend of teachers who have sex with their students. Maybe “Bow Wow (That’s My Name)” started it all?

Grace Jones – “Nightclubbing”
Sampled for: Shyne – “Bad Boyz (featuring Barrington Levy)”

It’s a shame that this is Shyne’s most recognized track due to his absence from the music scene for a decade. Everything about this track screams classic, especially Barrington Levy’s diddly-widdlying. Pause.

Graham Nash – “Chicago”
Sampled for: Beanie Sigel – “The Truth”

This should’ve been Sigel’s first single for The Truth. Instead, Jay-Z decided to release his own “Anything” instead. Ain’t that some nonsensical shit? Whatever… “The Truth” marked the days when Kanye West made music that wasn’t consumed by teeny-boppers. And boy are they long gone…

Harald Kloser – “Downloading”
Sampled for: Jedi Mind Tricks – “Genghis Khan (featuring Tragedy Khadafi)”

Wait until just over the 3:00 mark for the zany loops that bears a great resemblance to the sample used on “4 Da Fam” (also included in this compilation). If this joint isn’t evidence enough to the fact that Stoupe is an underrated producer and digger, then I don’t know what else is.

Hossam Ramzy – “Khusara Khusara”
Sampled for: Jay-Z – “Big Pimpin’ (featuring UGK)”

“Big Pimpin’” is a brilliant and important song for many reasons. First, it opened up a new fan base for Jay-Z in the south. More importantly perhaps, it brought UGK to a wider audience. But even more importantly than all that, it introduced Timbaland’s ridiculous and unmatched style to the radio. Ivan trivia: “Big Pimpin’” was my first non-generic ring tone. Good times…

Jack Mayborn – “Music People”
Sampled for: Prodigy – “Keep It Thoro”

I can’t tell which is more affective, the keys or the horns. I dare you to find a Jack Mayborn song not titled “Music People” on the internet. You can’t do it! Alchemist single-handedly resurrected this mystery music man to sample heads worldwide. My question is how in the hell did Alc find this gem to begin with!

James Brown – “Make It Funky, Part 1”
Sampled for: Slum Village – “I Don’t Know (featuring DJ Jazzy Jeff)”

This isn’t the only sample on “I Don’t Know”. Heck, it isn’t even the only James Brown sample on the track. But I think James Brown’s brief “I don’t know” quotable supersedes all other samples on this Dilla-produced Slum classic.

Jim Gilstrap – “Move Me”
Sampled for: Big L – “Flamboyant”

From the grave, Big L demanded that his “production be tight”. Well, his wish was certainly granted on this gem of a track. This was the first Big L song I ever heard, released on a posthumous album that dropped on my thirteenth birthday. This track was playing over a highlight reel of some of Allen Iverson’s greatest moves. That being said, I’ll always associate this beat with ill crossovers and layups.

Jimmie & Vella Cameron – “Hey Boy Over There”
Sampled for: Capone-N-Noreaga – “Invincible”

Speaking of hoops, I also first heard “Invincible” on a basketball video, the third volume of the And1 Mixtape series, to be exact. DJ Premier’s brilliance definitely outshined everything else on The Reunion, though I’m still impartial to L.E.S.’ “B EZ” with Nas.

Lee Dorsey – “The Greatest Love”
Sampled for: De La Soul – “Oooh. (featuring Redman)”

I nearly flipped out when I first heard Redman and De La mentioned in the same sentence. This track works well on so many levels; the music video, however, not so much. It’s amazing how a gospel soul record can be twisted into a hype club track.

Leon Haywood – “I Wan'ta Do Something Freaky to You”
Sampled for: 50 Cent – “Corner Bodega”

Infamously sampled by Dr. Dre on “Nuthin' But A "G" Thang”, old school Fiddy tried his luck with this soulful jam and made it work on the East coast tip. Composed as a hustler’s anthem of sorts, “Corner Bodega” was overshadowed by Power of the Dollar classics like “How to Rob”, “Your Life’s on the Line” and the infamous “Ghetto Qu’ran (Forgive Me)” – all of which were prepped as street singles in ’99.

Marvin Gaye – “Is That Enough”
Sampled for: Three 6 Mafia – “Sippin’ on Some Syrup (featuring UGK & Project Pat)”

Produced, composed and written by Marvin Gaye, the intro to Here, My Dear’s “Is That Enough” was destined to be sampled one day. Who’da thought it’d be flipped into a southern homage to cough syrup and codeine?

Raymond Lefevre & His Orchestra – “The Days of Pearly Spencer”
Sampled for: Black Rob – “Whoa!”

This string-driven record was picked up by producer extraordinaire Buckwild and supplied as the backdrop for Black Rob’s most recognized track. A true gem of a sample.

Roy Budd – “Fear is the Key (Main Theme)”
Sampled for: Amil – “4 Da Fam (featuring Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z)”

Remember when the Roc was more like a boulder? Produced by Ty Fyffe, “4 Da Fam” was one of those tracks that kept the crew bubbling in the streets while they were bursting wallets and topping the charts.

Sam & Dave – “Soul Sister, Brown Sugar”
Sampled for: M.O.P. – “Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory)”

Producer DR Period came up in the game producing for M.O.P. on their debut album To the Death, including the classic “How About Some Hardcore”. But he didn’t stop just there! Six years later, DR gifted the Posse with their biggest song ever, “Ante Up”. Yap that fool!

Santana – “Maria Maria (featuring The Product G&B)”
Sampled for: Destiny’s Child – “Independent Women, Part 1”

This may or not be considered a sample. Either way, it’s definitely a full-time jack move.

Solomon Burke – “Cool Breeze”
Sampled for: Ghostface Killah – “Apollo Kids (featuring Raekwon)”

Boasting the Ghost quotable “since the face been revealed, game got real” , “Apollo Kids” was the first GFK single since 1996’s “All That I Got Is You”. Ghost made up for lost time by dropping Supreme Clientele, easily one of the year’s – and decade’s – greatest rap records.

Stereolab – “Come and Play in the Milky Night”
Sampled for: Busta Rhymes – “Show Me What You Got”

Known for his smooth, soulful beats, Dilla seldom sampled rock records – contemporary alt. rock much less – but boy did he know how to pick ‘em: “Show Me What You Got” is as smooth as can be.

Steve Miller Band – “Space Intro”
Sampled for: Slum Village – “Climax (Girl Shit)”

Yup, more Dilla! “Climax” features more than one sample, but it’s this Steve Miller track that’s most striking, for me at least. This wasn’t the only time that Dilla played around with “Space Intro” as he often injected this trippy track into many of his songs. But its emergence in the chorus section for “Climax (Girl Shit)” is one of the most notable. Detroit heir Black Milk would go on to follow the same tactic on “Sound the Alarm”.

Stu Phillips – “Theme from Knight Rider”
Sampled for: Lil’ Kim – “How Many Licks? (featuring Sisqo)”

The Knight Rider theme has been sampled many, many times, but only Kim’s raunchy raps could match appropriately, with quips like “grab your meat while I ride the beat”.

Ten Wheel Drive & Genya Ravan – “Ain’t Gonna Happen”
Sampled for: Jay-Z – “1-900-Hustler (featuring Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek & Freeway)”

Back in the good ol’ days of the Roc, if it wasn’t Just Blaze, it was Bink! “1-900-Hustler” introduced us to the rapid-fire raps of Philly emcee Freeway. You could also say it established or at least helped to popularize the pending trend of sped up, chipmunk vocals that were evident on Jay’s next record, The Blueprint, as well as the Roc’s own Dipset movement that was awaiting to flock.

The Delfonics – “Ready or Not Here I Come (Can’t Hide from Love)”
Sampled for: Three 6 Mafia – “Who Run It”

Released as the first single off of When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixy 1 (hands-down the greatest Three 6 album), “Who Run It” boasts an amazing string sample from the soulful Delfonics. That was then. Now Three 6 Mafia has the same number of Oscars as Martin Scorsese and they’re working with DJ Tiesto. What the fluck has the world come to?

The Intruders – “Memories Are Here to Stay”
Sampled for: Common – “The 6th Sense (featuring Bilal)”

Kudos to Premo for this lovely find! Clicking on all gears with this amazing track, it makes you wonder why Common and DJ Premier haven’t collaborated ever since (no, “The Game” doesn’t count). Wouldn’t a Premo-produced Comm’ record be a masterpiece to behold? I can dream, right?

The Police – “Roxanne”
Sampled for: Cam’ron – “What Means the World to You (featuring Keema)”

Keeping in mind that this track dropped a couple of years before Cam blew up with Roc-A-Fella, this high-profile sample clearance (shouts to Andy Summers on the axe) must’ve captured some ears from outside of the rap world.

William Sheller – “Intoit”
Sampled for: Deltron 3030 – “3030”

On this principal track from the trip hop classic collab Deltron 3030, Dan the Automator’s otherworldly sample selection constructed the perfect backdrop for Del’s futuristic raps.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tupac Shakur – Still Overlooked

NOTE TO READERS: This post was written with the intent to refute Combat Jack’s XXL post titled “Tupac Shakur – Still Overrated”.

Was 2Pac the greatest emcee of all time? How about the greatest rapper of all time? There are different ways to look at this question, primarily because there are different ways to define “emcee” and “rapper”. KRS-One once wrote that “rappers spit rhymes that are mostly illegal/ emcees spit rhymes to uplift their people”. 2Pac did both. Biggie did only one of the two. Does that make 2Pac a better emcee than Biggie? Not necessarily. If you prefer to view an emcee in the more technical sense (i.e. flow, cadence, timbre, flexibility), Biggie was ahead of 2Pac by a long shot. But at the same time, Big’s subject matter was narrow as a grain of rice. It’s a shame these two brothers were – and still are – endlessly compared to one another when their styles were so diverse.

To compare Big and ‘Pac is natural, but leave their albums out of it. Big’s albums sit amongst East coast elite records like Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, and The Infamous – gritty at heart. 2Pac’s albums, at least his earlier ones, fit more appropriately alongside provocateurs like Ice Cube, Cypress Hill and Public Enemy. I say if you can’t appreciate an early ‘Pac record, you probably wouldn’t dig Death Certificate or Yo! Bum Rush the Show either.

Combat Jack’s point that 2Pac is overrated is not unsubstantiated. In fact, I’ve often said that 2Pac is overrated for all the wrong reasons and by the same token underrated or underappreciated for all the wrong reasons. He’s overrated by people who typecast 2Pac for songs like “Hail Mary”, “Hit ‘Em Up” and “California Love”; he’s underappreciated by people – like Combat Jack – who overlook amazing performances like Me Against the World’s “So Many Tears” and “Lord Knows” or the Above the Rim soundtrack highlight “Pain”. How could “Dear Mama” and “Old School” be the only good songs you take away from Me Against the World? In my book, ‘Pac’s soulfully-pronounced “ee” and “ah” vocals from “So Many Tears” are deeper and more profound than most rappers’ discographies. But maybe I’m just a stan, right? Maybe. So how ‘bout we take a step away from the music and discuss 2Pac’s background.

2Pac emerged from a family of Black Panthers and revolutionaries. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was hit with 150(!) charges of conspiracy against the United States. ‘Pac’s stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, was on the FBI’s most wanted list. Mutulu’s sister, Assata Shakur, escaped from jail and sought refuge in Cuba. This is where 2Pac comes from. As a youth, ‘Pac excelled in academic studies, taking up interests in acting and dance, as well as music and poetry. Socially conscious and aware from a young age, ‘Pac exhibited his egalitarian points of view. This is what 2Pac was about. For a generation that didn’t have a King or a Malcolm, ‘Pac was poised to fill the void that Jackson or Sharpton’s generational distance simply couldn’t.

In 1991, 2Pac was brutally assaulted by Oakland police. This took place in the same year as the Rodney King beating and as such didn’t attain the media attention it probably should have received. In 1992, a teenager in Texas, claiming he had been influenced by 2Pac’s music, killed a cop; Vice President Dan Quaylin (sorry, Quayle) even stepped in on the controversy, pinpointing 2Pac as a problem child and railing against his lyrics. This only fueled ‘Pac with more energy for his second record.

In 1993, 2Pac spotted a couple of drunk, off-duty officers harassing somebody. ‘Pac stepped out of his car and an altercation soon ensued. As told by Mopreme Shakur, ‘Pac got down on one knee and shot both of these cops in the ass. Literally, shot them in the ass. And he beat the case soon afterwards, dancing his way out of court. Now that’s gangsta. Later that year, ‘Pac was hit with a rape charge which, until his death, he vehemently denied any wrongdoing. On a posthumously-released track, ‘Pac spit: “Tell the world I feel guilty to being anxious/ Ain't no way in hell, that I could ever be a rapist/”. In 1994, 2Pac assaulted the Hughes Brothers at a music video shoot. He also dated Madonna for a while. Later on that year, 2Pac was gunned down in a recording studio lobby, hit by bullets on all angles of his body. As 2Pac was being wheeled off into an ambulance, he infamously greeted photographers with a present: the bird. That’s right. Bandaged up, being carted off by paramedics, ‘Pac was still ‘Pac.

So just to recap, in four short years, 2Pac assumed the role of Rodney King, Kobe Bryant and Mike Tyson with a little bit of Malcolm X, all in one. Add to that, he essentially survived an assassination attempt. Add to that, ‘Pac was only 23 in 1994. I haven’t even gotten into 1995 and 1996. Yet.

In 1995, 2Pac served his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility while his album, Me Against the World, reached number one on the Billboard 200 charts. 2Pac was and still is the only artist to go #1 while in jail. (Give it up, Gucci and Boosie, it’ll never happen.) The album also moved a quarter-million copies in its first week, a number unseen by any rap artist at the time.

1996 was the year that 2Pac became a supernova. He dropped All Eyez on Me, a vicious record with threat-filled bangers and anthems. “Hit ‘Em Up” was – and still is – the greatest diss record ever released. And the rest is history. 2Pac got shot up in Vegas, spent seven days in the hospital while the world prayed for him, and then he died at the age of 25.

It’s no surprise that 2Pac died at such a young age since he lived life at such an accelerated speed. No other rapper/emcee has a life story that even attempts to come close to ‘Pac’s. And I haven’t even discussed his cultural impact, his movies, or analyzed his music, let alone his poetic lyricism and unmatched passion. Overrated? I think not.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


So as you know by now, Hip Hop Is Read has been included in XXL's coveted Top 100 list. I'm honored to be a part (not apart - there's a difference, dum dums) of this and I'll be quick to scoop up a copy or two at newsstands, just like I did when Vibe gave me the same honor. It woulda been nice to have seen Rock the Dub in here, but you already know that...

Anyways, by now you've probably looked over the full list (immaculately compiled by ANIMAL), but you probably haven't seen the blurbs they included about each website! Here's what XXL wrote about Hip Hop Is Read:
Ever wonder where rap’s hottest producers get their samples from? This gem of a site is like a virtual dig spot, offering compiled playlists of hip-hops’s original source material, minus all the digital dust, of course.
I guess that's my niche, ain't it? Samples, samples, samples! Well, we've got more samples (a decades' worth, to be exact *hint, hint*) coming your way, so stay tuned...

Thanks again, XXL!

READ: XXL’s Official 100 Best Hip-Hop Web Sites, Pt. 1 (#-K)