In the wake of the release of A Tribe Called Quest's first album, 1990's stellar People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, critics who had previously ignored hip-hop sat up and took notice of Q-Tip's sophisticated and unorthodox productions, and Phife Dog's party rocking but winningly self-deprecating rhymes. But the critics often overlooked Tribe's far-reaching roots in the hip-hop underground and their larger place in the history of black music in general. The Low End Theory was in many ways a conscious attempt to redress these critical oversights; it also happens to be one of the finest hip-hop albums ever recorded. From the sinuous Art Blakey samples and myth-making rhymes of "Excursions" to the joyous free for all of the epic posse cut "Scenario", The Low End Theory is a stone masterpiece that establishes Tribe's place in hip-hop's history. They draw on everything from the crowd-hyping improvisations of their early park jams, to the complex sciences of Golden Age rhyming styles. Simply put, The Low End Theory is essential for anyone seeking to understand hip-hop.
With his Southern drawl and soulful production, Mississippi MC Big K.R.I.T. has been called the natural successor to Southern hip-hop legends like Outkast, UGK, and Scarface. K.R.I.T. saw his profile skyrocket following the release of his debut mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here in 2010 and the follow-up Return Of 4eva in 2011, both of which drew universal critical acclaim from the likes of XXL, Pitchfork, HipHopDX and more. Now, for the first time ever, Return Of 4eva is available in physical form, fully remastered with CD-quality audio and including the exclusive bonus track "Shake Junt."
Harlem’s Finest: A Freestyle History is an unofficial compilation album featuring rapper Big L. The album was originally released on vinyl only. The cd version was released in 2003 under the label Corleone 530 Records. It includes some of Big L’s freestyles and unreleased tracks.
L.A. rapper Blu burst onto the scene in the late 00s with the widely acclaimed Exile collaboration Below The Heavens, igniting a West Coast hip hop renaissance in the process. In the years since, the enigmatic emcee has released a steady stream of critically-acclaimed projects, from the love-themed concept album Her Favorite Colo(u)r to the genre-bending NoYork. Now, Blu is back with Good To Be Home, his first ever double album. Featuring a host of West Coast hip-hop luminaries, Good To Be Home is an unapologetic celebration of Los Angeles music and culture. “This is my most defining record ever,” says Blu. A cohesive collection with two discs and no filler, Good To Be Home is an important addition to Blu's already impressive catalog. Available on double disc CD, double cassette, and 2xLP vinyl. Translucent gold vinyl limited to 1000 units and available while supplies last. Artwork designed by famed contemporary artist Joseph Martinez.
Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2007 with the widely acclaimed Exile collaboration Below The Heavens, L.A. rapper Blu has been hailed as the most promising up-and-comer hip-hop has seen in years. With his cool L.A. demeanor and intricate lyrical musings, Blu blew a breath of fresh air into a stale SoCal hip-hop scene, leading hip-hop tastemakers like HipHopDX and XXL to name him one of the genre's top newcomers. After releasing further collaborations with Detroit's Ta'Raach and L.A. producer Mainframe, Blu attracted the attention of Warner Brothers, which will release his first major label album later this year. Lately, the internet has been buzzing about Her Favorite Colo(u)r, his unreleased debut EP. Initially available as a low-quality download from Blu's myspace, HFC is finally mixed and mastered, and will be in stores everywhere on April 19, 2011. With love-themed movie quotes drifting in and out and Blu's heartbreak raps sitting atop his own mellow production, HFC is the most distinct and cohesive project Blu has released to date.
"When Bobby Brown left New Edition at the peak of their fame in 1986 he was staying true to his rules of “really not giving a damn” and doing what felt right to him. And while his solo debut King of Stage (1986) wasn’t bad, it wasn’t what fans were really yearning for - “Hopefully he just goes back to New Edition” one fan wrote in a 1987 issue of Word Up! Magazine. Little did we all know by the time King of Stage was dying down he was already hard at work on the follow up, Don’t Be Cruel, and no one was even prepared for what was coming. Don’t Be Cruel immediately was a smash hit, to any naysayers this was the punch in the face, to NE fans this was a game changer, and honestly to many this was their first time even hearing him. Don’t Be Cruel crafted the perfect match of amazing songwriting and the newly christened New Jack Swing sound that was flooding the streets. Bobby Brown proved why he was “good to go solo” as he owned each track on this album. The new ‘King of R&B” was here. The albums singles: “Don’t Be Cruel”, “My Perogative”, “Every Little Step” & “Roni” all were number 1 singles. “Rock Wit’cha” made all other R&B ballads at the time pale in comparison. The album was one of the best selling albums of the 80’s (33 to be exact). Don’t Be Cruel over-exceeded what any R&B fan would expect. The albums producers L.A Reid, Babyface and Teddy Riley all did outstanding work channeling the right mix for Brown to finally take center stage. And after 20 + years this album still has a strong hold as the R&B blueprint for making hit albums."
With its playful wordplay, innovative sampling, and witty skits, De La Soul’s 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High & Rising, is considered a hip hop masterpiece. It is also the band’s biggest commercial success to date, with their subsequent albums selling progressively less, despite receiving high praise from critics. A measure of 3 Feet High and Rising’s cross-over appeal was the fact that it was voted Album of the Year by NME, a title better known for its taste in guitar-based music. De La Soul has influenced numerous other hip hop artists such as Camp Lo, The Black Eye Peas, and Digable Planets. They were also influential in the early stages of rapper/actor Mos Def’s career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective. They are the second longest standing Native Tongue Posse group, after the Jungle Brothers.The album marked the first of three full-length collaborations with producer Prince Paul, which would become the critical and commercial peak of both parties. It is consistently placed on ‘greatest albums’ lists by noted music critics and publications. Robert Christgau called the record “unlike any rap album you or anybody else has ever heard.” In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine’s 100 Best Rap Albums.
Es-K (Essential Knowledge) was born in Holland, raised in Kansas City Missouri, and currently lives in Burlington Vermont. You may know him from his Spontaneous Grooves series on Cold Busted. Serenity is his first album and features A.G. of D.I.T.C, General Steele, MC Dialect, C-Rayz Walz, Charmingly Ghetto, DJ Grazzhoppa, Central Parks, Maw-, Chel Strong, K. Sparks, Fish Grease, M-Dot, S.Dub, Chromadadata, and Mike Gerbino
You’re Dead! is a shamanic pilgrimage into the psychedelic unknown of the infinite afterlife. A sonic, visual and metaphysical fusion of technological innovation and technical virtuosity that amounts to a transcendent, mind-expanding plasm that could only exist between our world and another. The enduring universe of Lotus’ supporting cast has expanded and evolved to feature in order of appearance, Herbie Hancock, Kendrick Lamar, Captain Murphy, Snoop Dogg, Angel Deradoorian, Thundercat, Niki Randa, alongside mind blowing original artwork by Japanese comic book artist Shintaro Kago.“The album isn’t about the end, it’s really the beginning. It’s a celebration of the next experience. It’s the transition and the confusion. It’s not ‘hey you’re dead.’ It’s ‘hey you’re dead!’”
Step In the Arena is the second studio album by hip hop duo Gang Starr (DJ Premier and Guru), originally released on January 15, 1991.
Originally released in an EP format in 1997, Jurassic 5 is a classic hip-hop album. It introduced the world to the collective genius of Cut Chemist, DJ Nu Mark, Chali 2Na, Akil, Zaakir and Mark 7, whose career as Jurassic 5 spawned a total of 4 beloved albums selling well over 1 million units Stateside. Due to contractual disputes, their first effort has been out of print since 2004.
Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note is a unique project that turns over the legacy of the esteemed Blue Note jazz label to one of hip-hop's most unique artists, Madlib, aka Otis Jackson, Jr. Madlib's ability to absorb his influences and reinterpret them in new forms makes him the quintessential artist for a project of this conception. He is considered to be one of hip-hop's most inventive visionaries. Those who know the enigmatic artist confess he is a quiet personality, but what Madlib doesn't reveal in public, he expresses absolutely in the studio – as a very prolific rapper, producer and DJ. Working diligently on music at all hours of the day, he employs any number of MC and production guises. The idea for Shades of Blue: Madlib invades Blue Note was generated by the esteemed jazz imprint and Stones Throw Records head, Peanut Butter Wolf, both of whom were inspired by Madlib's YNQ project. Shades of Blue isn't just a Blue Note cover album, it's a re-imagination of the Blue Note culture. Madlib draws from the label's music catalog, of course, but also its influence through the years, its history as a prestigious jazz house, the iconography associated with the label and its import on its own. Madlib covers some of his favorite songs from the Blue Note collection, which he cites as being influential to his development. "People say Blue Note was just a phase in hip-hop," Madlib explains, referring to the era when groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Gang Starr would sample the label's sounds. "But music is either good music or bad music and I still listen to Blue Note. I still love it." Some tracks like Donald Byrd's "Steppin' Into Tomorrow" are longtime favorites of his, and he considered their inclusion in this project as a no-brainer. On that song, Madlib gives an already funky tune a voluptuous hip-hop bump. On "Please Set Me At Ease," Madlib rigs a Bobbi Humphrey song into a groovy, soulful beat for rapper Medaphor to rhyme over. Horace Silver's "Song For My Father" was more personal. Not only has it been an everlasting favorite but he says it's his dedication to his own father, notable 70s soul singer, Otis Jackson, Sr. Shades of Blue also includes a new song, "Funky Blue Note," that Madlib conceived as his ode to his favorite era of the label – the 1960s and 1970s. "I just wanted to show my side of understanding the music and bringing the same kind of sound," he says. "That's the sound I like from Blue Note. You were just free to do whatever ideas you wanted to do." The convergence of Madlib and Blue Note on this special project transcends the legacies and reputations of both entities. It's a special convocation . Alfred Lion and Francis Wolf would be proud.
Now ! Underneath his mysterious metal mask, MF Doom hides the cachet underground legends are made of. After KMD's 1994 sophomore album Bl_ck B_st_rds was turfed by Elektra in 1994 and Subroc (one half of the sibling rhyme duo) passed away, surviving KMD member Zev Love X mutated into the MC Avenger known as MF Doom. The Rap world is better for it. This 19-cut deep album is ridiculously dope, in a bizarro Ol' Dirty Bastard kind of way. Doom sounds either high or drunk on most of the tracks, his self-produced beats are gritty, and his rhyme styles are almost indecipherable. On arguably the best track, "Rhymes Like Dimes," Doom weaves some pointed lyrics through his abstract wordplay, spitting 'only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck / And still keep your attitude on self-destruct.' Doomsday features female vocalist Pebbles the Invisible accompanying the masked rhyme avenger on his journey to denounce wack MCs, while on "?" he trades hot verses with former Columbia artist Kurious Jorge. Doom's avant-garde ghetto-rhyme philosophies take even more intentionally weird twists on "Tick, Tick..." where he and guest MC MF Grimm's flows warble over a rhythm track whose tempo speeds up and slows down continually. The comic-book themed skits, many of which include snippets of dialogue from Marvel's Dr. Doom series, will help take you deep into the mind of an MC who is as otherworldly as they come. And in today's bland commercial Rap universe, Operation Doomsday's left-of-center beats and rhymes are the perfect remedy.
Ask any true hip-hop fan and he can tell you exactly where and when he first heard MF Doom's Operation Doomsday. Against seeming insurmountable odds, the album - bootlegged mercilessly, floating in and out of print on various labels since its release in 1999 gained mythical status amongst music aficionados of all backgrounds as one of the landmark releases of the past decade. At its core, one man, a microphone, an MPC 2000 and a Roland VS 1680. By the time of Operation Doomsday's recording, DOOM was a transformed man: a veteran of hip hop's aging "new school" reinvented as the masked, abstract wordsmith of the NOW. His pointed wit, subtly subversive lyrics and stream-of-conscious flow over adventurous sample-based production created the yard stick by which rappers in the coming decade would measure themselves.Now Doom's own Metal Face Records will release Operation Doomsday as a special remastered and expanded two-disc set, featuring a 32-page lyric book and a complete collection of alternate versions, B-sides and instrumental. San Francisco-based artist Jason Jagel, who provided the painting for DOOM's "MM...Food", was enlisted to create both an updated version of the album's iconic comic-book style cover art especially for this release. The entire set was produced under the watchful eyes of Doom himself. Expanded and deluxe, this is the complete Operation Doomsday experience.
Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes) have been the hottest producers in urban/pop music for years now. On their debut as performers they take a left turn from the hard hitting tracks they've produced for everyone from Jay-z to Britney Spears and give us a fresh, innovative, classic record. IN SEARCH OF Is the debut album from the hip-hop, rock, funk band N.E.R.D (No One Every Really Dies). The group is comprised of super producers Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, along with their longtime friend Shay Haley. Fusing rock and rap more forcefully and convincingly than any other album at the time, IN SEARCH OF successfully bridges the worlds of Pop/R&B and Alternative/Classic Rock into a blessed union of sound, making it one of the best albums of 2002. As part of the Respect The Classics series, UMe will be putting this classic double LP back in print on white vinyl. The reissue also includes the original electronic version of ''Run To The Sun'' as a bonus track.
If you’re just tuning into Open Mike Eagle’s stellar career, the LA Weekly anointed him last year as the hottest thing in indie rap. Pitchfork called him a “whiz with matching easy-going hooks to intimate personal reflection.” But Dark Comedy could be the best thing he’s ever done—a record that captures the perennial struggle between art and commerce, the last half- century of widening class rift, and the need to be funny or die. This is intended to dump whiskey on the unsuspecting heads of those with false ideas of authenticity or what rap should be.
Yo! Bum Rush the Show is the debut album of American hip hop group Public Enemy, released in April 1987 on Def Jam Recordings. The group's logo, a silhouette of a black man in a rifle's crosshairs, is debuted on the album's cover. Yo! Bum Rush the Show features a sample-heavy sound by production team The Bomb Squad.The album peaked at number 125 on the U.S. Billboard Top LPs chart and at number 28 on the Top Black Albums chart. NME magazine named it the best album of the year in its 1987 critics poll. Along with the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill (1986) and LL Cool J's Radio (1985), music writer Cheo H. Coker has cited Yo! Bum Rush the Show as one of three of the most influential albums in hip hop history. In 1998, it was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. In 2003, the album was ranked number 497 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Lord Quas, Madlib and Melvin Van Peebles on some fantastic, nightmarish planet, tripping hard. As hallucinatory a hip hop experience as you can possibly hope to experience without mushrooms. For some reason, the remix was featured first, and, as a result was the version featured on The Unseen album. So peep the original version – available only on this 12".
Lord Quas’ first solo 12” on Stones Throw Records! Features three songs also available on Quas’s The Unseen, but get ‘em here with artwork by DJ Design. Instrumentals too.
This 12-inch was released leading up to the full-length Further Adventures of Lord Quas. Cover by Jeff Jank showing the night view of Quasimoto's building where who-the-hell-knows-what goes on at all hours of the night.
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.
His debut LP for Definitive Jux, DJ/producer RJD2's DEAD RINGER is a deeply creative and musically poignant hip-hop record for summer 2002. Creating a raging underground listenership from a series of 45s and white labels and being the only non-MC signed to Def Jux, RJD2's talent as a DJ and as producer, to match beats and lay cult/pop gems over dusty soul tracks, is paralleled only by people like DJ Shadow and Z-Trip. However, his ability to record and marry MCs to his primarily instrumental and sample-based style is evidenced in outstanding tracks with Copywrite and Blueprint as well as his legacy with the MHz crew; at the end of the day that puts our man from Ohio ahead of his primarily one-dimensional peer group. This set will stand out as monumental for Definitive Jux, who with their first record outside of the New York MC box continues to stride toward really being definitive in their roster and catalog of independent hip-hop.