On September 4, Southern California’s Blu & Exile return to their collaborative origins with the release of Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, the long-anticipated followup to the duo’s landmark debut, Below the Heavens. Featuring Fashawn, Homeboy Sandman, Johaz of Dag Savage, Black Spade of Hawthorne Headhunters, and ADAD, the new album on Fat Beats / Dirty Science is both an evolution from and complement to their first: a cohesive, kicked back collection of hip-hop buoyed by Blu’s gymnastic wordplay and Exile’s soulful, sample-driven beats. While Blu’s penchant for introspection and analysis remains intact, his perspective ebbs from the sun-soaked nostalgia of Below the Heavens to a more playful realm where raps about lost love and forgotten dreams find equal footing with those about Gondry films and delivery cheesecake. Together Blu & Exile have taken the raw materials of rap and crafted charmingly idiosyncratic, album-minded mu- sic that transcends coasts and continents alike. As with Dilla & Common, Hi-Tek & Talib Kweli, and Pete Rock & CL Smooth, there’s a kindred understanding between Blu and Exile that invites instant ease and empathy. Although Exile has produced tracks for Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Akon, Aloe Blacc, Jurassic 5, Kardinal Offishall, and Mobb Deep, it is with Blu that his production feels most at home. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, though undoubtedly a logical progression in both sound and scope, defies all the hype, precedents, and expectations to reaffirm the duo’s position at the forefront of LA’s burgeoning beat scene.
From Hempstead, Long Island, representing an area that boasts some of rap history's most iconic giants (Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, EPMD, De La Soul), Roc Marciano will settle for nothing less than greatness. After a long history with Busta Rhymes and The Flipmode Squad in the late 90's and early 2000's, Roc found himself in limbo without a solo deal. Undaunted, Roc continued to record at his Long Island home studio which became the meeting grounds for his brain child The UN. With his solo debut on Fat Beats Records, and collaborating with some of the new producers in the game (Marco Polo, DJ Babu and The P Brothers), Roc plans to show the world his raw lyricism and production savvy. "I just remember sitting next to the radio trying to tape Marley Marl’s Rap attack" adds Roc. "It was all about Rakim, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Granddaddy I.U all of that. Back then whoever was the nicest on the mic had to get dealt with. You couldn't just be talking about anything on the mic. That was millions of blunts ago. I wanna bring a little of that feeling back." With songs like "Snow" and "Thug's Prayer" he is well on the road to doing just that. "[Marciano] stakes his claim as one of Hip- Hop's most original and exciting artists, with his pulse-pounding 90s throwback of a debut" -Hip-HopDX (Top 25 Albums of 2010)
POSSIBLY THE BEST HIP HOP ALBUM OF 2010 NOW INCLUDES NEW BONUS CUTS! From Hempstead, Long Island, representing an area that boasts some of rap history's most iconic giants (Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, EPMD, De La Soul), Roc Marciano will settle for nothing less than greatness. After a long history with Busta Rhymes and The Flipmode Squad in the late 90's and early 2000's, Roc found himself in limbo without a solo deal. Undaunted, Roc continued to record at his Long Island home studio which became the meeting grounds for his brain child The UN. With his solo debut on Fat Beats Records, and collaborating with some of the new producers in the game (Marco Polo, DJ Babu and The P Brothers), Roc plans to show the world his raw lyricism and production savvy. "I just remember sitting next to the radio trying to tape Marley Marl’s Rap attack" adds Roc. "It was all about Rakim, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Granddaddy I.U all of that. Back then whoever was the nicest on the mic had to get dealt with. You couldn't just be talking about anything on the mic. That was millions of blunts ago. I wanna bring a little of that feeling back." With songs like "Snow" and "Thug's Prayer" he is well on the road to doing just that. "[Marciano] stakes his claim as one of Hip- Hop's most original and exciting artists, with his pulse-pounding 90s throwback of a debut" -Hip-HopDX (Top 25 Albums of 2010)
On the crime-infested east side of Lost Gates CA, there is a vinyl pressing plant whose brochure says, “we will do anything for a price.” Back in the 70s & 80s, they specialized in private press porno soundtracks, but these days Madlib is their only customer. Stones Throw took them a couple Quasimoto tracks and a drawing or two, and here’s what we got: a custom-shaped record, half picture disc, half clear, thick vinyl. One side is Quasimoto’s “Planned Attack” from the album Yessir Whatever, and the flip side is the previously unreleased “Talkin’ Shit,” a short track with Lord Quas doing what he does best. Both tracks are produced-by and featuring Madlib. Pictured below is the front, family-friendly side of the vinyl. The backside of the record, the “x-ray” portion, show’s Quasimoto disgusting insides. Artwork by Jeff Jank.
Quasimoto first came to life on Madlib's personal beat tapes in the producer's early years in Oxnard CA – private music, not meant for release, made for himself and a small circle of local smokers and their car stereos. By the time of Quasimoto's debut The Unseen, most had caught on to the fact that Madlib and Quasimoto were one in the same. The MC as artistic alter ego, like a talking dummy from surreal rap vaudeville. Quasimoto is usually the "bad character," doing and saying what the producer doesn't, with Madlib along side as a noncommittal collaborator. The Unseen (Stones Throw, 2000) was among the new decade's first sleeper hits, ranking on Spin's year end list at a time when the producer and label were unknown outside hip-hop DJ circles. After a subsequent journey through jazz production and now-legendary collaborations with MF DOOM & J Dilla, Madlib called on Quasimoto again for The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. The album played something like a smoked-out comedy/crime Blaxploitation flick, and continued to build Madlib's reputation as one of the most creative and fearlessly skewed creators in hip-hop. As for Quasimoto – usually represented by pen & ink with brick in hand – he has been many things over the years: rapper, cartoon, the poor-man's Gorillaz, a toy, bad tattoo, internet meme. To all this Lord Quas might say, yessir ... whatever. It's all about the music. Yessir Whatever collects 12-tracks made by Madlib and Quasimoto over a roughly 12-year period. A few were released on rare & out-of-print vinyl, while a few others are previously unreleased, now mixed and mastered for the first time. Take two & pass. Yessir ... whatever. Artwork by Jeff Jank. Mastered by Dave Cooley.
"Before we get this started, let me explain it. It's Ruff Draft. For my real niggaz only ... Sound like it's straight from the ma'fuckin' cassette! ... Let's do it." ...Thus begins Ruff Draft. These self-produced tracks make up one of the late J Dilla's least known works during his lifetime. Released on vinyl only in February 2003 this sought-after release was elusive and virtually unknown to the casual Dilla fan until Stones Throw's reissue in 2007. Recorded in the wake of a failed deal with major label, Dilla returned to solo recordings as a fiercely independent artist with Ruff Draft. The CD contains photos from this era and detailed liner notes by Ronnie Reese discussing Dilla's career in 2002 when Ruff Draft was recorded. Tracks on this disc were taken from J Dilla's original master tapes, where additional previously-unreleased tracks “Wild” and “Take Notice” were also discovered.
MF DOOM is the man in the iron mask. The most mysterious figure in hip-hop has also become one of the most popular, supplying beats and rhymes for Gorillaz, De La Soul, Madlib, Danger Mouse, and Wu-Tang Clan, and drawing praise from heavyweights like Just Blaze, Nas, and Mos Def. Since 2002, DOOM has released numerous volumes of Special Herbs, one of the longest-running instrumental series in hip-hop history. Now, the first two volumes in the acclaimed series are available on vinyl for the first time in years. With obscure loops and dusty samples galore, Special Herbs Vol. 1 & 2 is a must-have for any DOOM fan or hip-hop head. Also includes a limited-edition bonus 7”, featuring two beats from DOOM’s days as a member of 90s hip-hop trio KMD.
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Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star was released on August 18, 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping company founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. The album deals with modern-day issues, philosophies and life in Brooklyn. The two MCs had planned to release solo albums around the same time, but decided instead to collaborate on a full-length album. The first single, “Definition (song),” is a reaction to hip-hop’s fascination with death, dedicated to both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., with a chorus that gives a nod to Boogie Down Productions’ “Stop the Violence.” “Children’s Story” is a re-imagination of the Slick Rick original, featuring Mos Def cautioning against materialism. The second single, “Respiration,” featuring Common, includes a Hi-Tek produced beat that samples Don Randi’s “The Fox” and another from the hip-hop documentary Style Wars. The track offers a melancholy ode to city life, with references to organic life functions such as breathing, eating and sleeping, but with an ominous edge, as Kweli raps about “sitting on shitty steps/we stooped to new lows, hell froze/the night the city slept.” The album peaked at No. 53 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 13 on the Hip-Hop Albums chart, but has become considered a classic since then.
Mayer Hawthorne (Aquarius) and Jake One (Taurus) – they are descendants of the one- word moniker family of funk, where you will find groups such as Chic, Shalamar, Plush & Zapp. The Tuxedo collaboration began with an exchange of mixtapes back in 2006. The fruits of a long-standing kinship were three tracks that mysteriously showed up on Internet doorsteps nearly two years ago. In between personal projects, these three tracks became a full album's worth of Tuxedo. The album was mixed by original disco don dada John Morales at his home studio in South Plainfield, New Jersey. "I flew out there," Mayer says. "His wife made me spaghetti and everything."The duo is excited to release the upcoming album on Stones Throw Records, which also marks Mayer's return to the label since his debut release of A Strange Arrangement in 2009. Until then, stay classy.
Brazilian born, Orlando-based hip-hop artist, NIKO IS, readies his debut album, Brutus, courtesy of Talib Kweli’s Javotti Media. All production credits on the album are attributed to NIKO’s longtime collaborator, Thanks Joey. This is NIKO’s third body of work, following two mixtapes he released independently with the support of DJ Smallz and Javotti Media. While recording his previous projects, Chill Cosby and Good Blood, NIKO simultaneously worked on Brutus.
Tenth anniversary re-issue in 2014! 2LP colored vinyl (one LP orange / other LP is blue). Included for the first time, ''Shoomp'' featuring Sean Paul. "De La Soul were interrupted just before they could deliver the third volume in their AOI series -- projected to be a DJ album -- to Tommy Boy. (The label perhaps bailed out from a 15-year relationship precisely because the group was going to release such a commercially bankrupt title, one that was planned instead to appear on an independent label run by Maseo.) De La Soul quickly realized they couldn't go ahead with the plan after signing their AOI label to Sanctuary, so they wrote a new record, The Grind Date. Although it may see them settling into a holding pattern, at least the pattern of 2001's AOI: Bionix is one that any hip-hop fan won't mind hearing repeated. Better yet, it boasts productions from an excellent cast of figures -- partner in crime Supa Dave West, author of the best tracks on their AOI series, J-Dilla, who's stretching out his patented (read: overdone) sound to embrace classic hip-hop, an only slightly commercialized Madlib, and young phenom 9th Wonder. Madlib gets what must be the first lead single of his career, a bright, antimaterialist tale called "Shopping Bags (She Got From You)" that thumps like a club tune, but lurches as only the Beat Conductor could do it. "Verbal Clap" finds J-Dilla allowing some grit into his productions, and Supa Dave only continues floating the most fluidly catchy productions of any rap producer in action. Meanwhile, De La Soul voices Posdnuos and Dave balance their time breezing easy on bumping message tracks with a few old-school shots that show them a bit defensive about the passing of time. (Check out "Come On Down," a Madlib-produced shot with Flava Flav, or "Days of Our Lives" featuring Common.) Without a concept to tout, The Grind Date doesn't gel like AOI: Bionix, but it does show De La Soul keeping everything together more than 15 years after their debut. After all, you certainly wouldn't see MF Doom guesting on a Tone-Loc record." -John Bush
An original member of New York’s new-school pioneers the Ultramagnetic MCs, Keith Thornton is best known as a solo rapper. His signature style is stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow and complex vocals, two skills that earn him a perennial nod from the underground hip-hop community. The average Kool Keith album is peppered with bizarre, disjointed, even delusional or disassociated themes, concepts, and references. Nearly all of his albums incorporate a satirical dislike for more commercialized strains of hip-hop, as well as major record label scams. After single-handedly redefining "warped" as the mind and mouth behind the Bronx-based Ultramagnetic MC's, "Kool" Keith Thornton - aka Rhythm X, aka Dr. Octagon, aka Dr. Dooom, aka Mr. Gerbik - headed for the outer reaches of the stratosphere with a variety of solo projects. A onetime psychiatric patient at Bellevue, Keith's lyrical thematics remained as free-flowing here as they ever were with the N.Y. trio, connecting up complex meters with fierce, layers-deep metaphors and veiled criticisms of those who "water down the sound that comes from the ghetto." His own debut single, "Earth People" by Dr. Octagon, was quietly released in late 1995 on the San Francisco-based Bulk Recordings, and the track spread like wildfire through the hip-hop underground, as did the subsequent Dr. Octagonecologyst full-length released the following year. Featuring internationally renowned DJ Q-Bert (of Invisibl Skratch Piklz) on turntables, as well as Dan the Automator and DJ Shadow behind the boards, Dr. Octagon's left-field fusion of sound collage, fierce turntable work, and bizarre, impressionistic rapping found audiences in the most unlikely of places, from hardcore hip-hop heads to jaded rock critics. Although a somewhat sophomoric preoccupation with body parts and scatology tended to dominate the album, Keith's complex weave of associations and shifting references is quite often amazing in its intricacy. Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will continue its Respect the Classics tribute to many of hip-hop’s finest with the vinyl reissue of Dr. Octagon's underground masterwork Dr. Octagonecologyst with a trippy 3D lenticular cover that appears to suck you right into Dr. Octagon’s crazed world.
In an age of slammin’ superhero crossovers, get ready for a Hip-Hop team-up to beat them all: Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark! With the Delicious Vinyl release of their album-length eponymous collaboration, the legendary Pharcyde MC and Jurassic 5 DJ/producer have created a soulful Hip-Hop soundtrack for the ages. Ever since his time as a founding member of The Pharcyde, Slimkid3 has stood out for his relationship raps, both warm-hearted and coolly observant. As an innovative member Jurassic 5, DJ Nu-Mark has long propelled golden era sounds into the future. "Ding ding! True school is in session!" trumpeted okayplayer.com when Tre & Nu-Mark released their freebie EP Another Day, Another Dollar in 2011. The duo knew they were onto something good, and re-upped to create new music. The new album's standout tracks include "Bouillon" featuring Del and Murs, "King" featuring Diamond D, reggae-fueled summer jam "Bom Bom Fiya" and "I Know, Didn't I" a savvy flip of Darondo's soul classic. Single releases from Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark will come on 45rpm vinyl 7-inch format. Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark will be performing together through the end of 2014.
Beat Konducta in India: Madlib productions inspired by Bollywood soundtracks and other 60s-80s productions from India.
2009’s Imaginary Falcons was its own savvy slushpile of tape-hissy drift-dub haze pop, no question, but 936 takes every facet of husband and wife duo Peaking Lights mighty diamond and shines it even further. The songwriting is killer; “All The Sun That Shines,” “Amazing & Wonderful,” “Tiger Eyes (Laid Back),” all seep into your mindstream and float there like melodic gold dust. Indra Dunis’ silky soul-jazz keys and tranced vocals have never sounded so exquisite, and Aaron Coyes busts out the best bass/drum loops and sneaky dub guitar of his musical lifetime. It is a hauntingly beautiful and intensely immersive record that merges elements of dub, psych, minimal house, disco and krautrock with a distinct pop sensibility and provides a great window into a wonderfully close, creative and prolific songwriting partnership. Recorded by Luke Tweedy at Flat Black Studios in Iowa City and mastered in Berlin, 936 retains the cool crate-digger grit of their earlier highlights, but within a much more vivid spectrum of sound.
Produced entirely by MF DOOM Following the success of two collaborative releases (EMC “The Show”/2008 and Ace & Edo G “Arts & Entertainment” /2009), Masta Ace joins forces with the metal faced MF Doom for Son of Yvonne, a highly personal concept album that celebrates the life and legacy of Ace’s recently departed Mother. Like his 2004 landmark Disposable Arts, Son of Yvonne is meticulously constructed with stories, settings, and characters that resonate with flesh and bone humanity. Interstitial vignettes provide a thematic backbone to the experience, and each track complements and completes the previous to form a narrative whole: a sometimes visceral, sometimes nostalgic slice of Ace’s young life in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Entirely underscored by MF Doom’s iconic Special Herbs instrumentals, Son of Yvonne features the Juice Crew general Big Daddy Kane, new comers Pav Bundy (The Bundies), Reggie B and even MF Doom on the mic. It’s Masta Ace’s no frills flow, however, that looms largest above the dusty samples and digger loops that define Doom’s production. Ace’s photo-realistic rhymes about stick-up kids, spraycan artists and wack emcees add extra gravity to his already celebrated reputation as “truly an under-appreciated rap veteran and underground luminary” (Allmusic Guide). Like Eminem recalls in his 2008 autobiography The Way I Am, “Masta Ace had amazing storytelling skills. His thoughts were so vivid.”