St. Louis, Missouri is the genesis for Coultrain, Black Spade and the group Hawthorne Headhunters. ‘Train was introduced to music via the church and by his teens was immersed in poetry. Spade had a record-enthusiast for a father who took the youth record shopping with him around town often. By the time the two were teenagers, they were well on their musical path, experimenting and refining their sounds. They met in 1999 and instantly formed a connection. The following decade saw each individual bounce around the country with different musical endeavors, both in groups and as solo artists.
In search of something new, Black Spade migrated out west to soak up the vibrant Southern California vibes and promptly met producer Proh Mic at the famed Do-Over. The two hit it off and began toying with music, soon bringing I,Ced, another St. Louis expat in LA, into the fold. The collective was taking shape and drew their moniker from ‘Ced’s residence in Hawthorne, California. The St. Louis natives reached out to their old comrade Coultrain and he eventually moved out to LA as well. A jam session at the HVW8 gallery solidified the group’s identity and the creative relationship with it’s owner resulted in an eponymous EP in 2009. Consisting of songs that originally had no intention of release, the EP was the first physical manifestation of Hawthorne Headhunters on HVW8 Records.
The creative process of the newly formed group was very natural. Members of the group liken the approach to that of old Jazz musicians; organic and instinctual, drawing from whatever influences they were feeling and writing about whatever was on their mind. They began plotting a full length record, but Proh Mic and ‘Ced decided to pursue solo endeavors instead of focusing on the group and ‘Train and Spade became the official torch-bearers of Hawthorne Headhunters. The duo went in the studio and Myriad of Now was recorded, a 14-track collection of Funk, Electro, R&B and more that speaks on spirituality, sexuality and everything in between. Carrying on the lineage of Black music dating back to the Blues and the inception of Jazz, Hawthorne Headhunters melt influences together to break new ground.
In listing the greatest albums in hip-hop history, one title never seems to stray from the upper echelons, no matter how many years pass: Boogie Down Productions' undisputed classic from 1986, Criminal Minded. Released amidst a battle between BDP and MC Shan that would redefine the New York rap landscape as it was then known, the album, which features the songs "South Bronx," "Criminal Minded" and "The Bridge is Over," captures the excitement, urgency and raw power that embodies hip-hop culture as we know it, with KRS-One's aggressive yet intelligent lyricism backed by Scott La Rock's hard-hitting, stripped-down beats. A true classic, Criminal Minded has been recognized by Vibe Magazine, The Source and Rolling Stone as one of the most important albums of all time.Traffic Entertainment Group and B-Boy Records are proud to present Criminal Minded, presented for the first time ever in a double-LP pressing with a new digital transfer from the original analog master tapes.The album is packaged in a gatefold "paste-on style" jacket, featuring extensive liner notes from journalist Brian Coleman and KRS-One, full color printed dust sleeves with vintage B-Boy Records graffiti artwork, full-color 24" x 36" poster and the bonus track "P is Free (Original 12" Version)."
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.
...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is the eleventh studio album by American hip hop band The Roots. According to Black Thought, the album is conceptual like the previous one, but unlike Undun, ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin will feature several characters in his story, not just one. The Roots' lead rapper described the forthcoming album as a satirical look at violence in hip hop and American society overall.
Arguably Jay-Z's finest piece of recorded work, 2001's The Blueprint is officially where the Brooklyn-born rapper became the heavyweight champ of the hip hop game. Produced primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze and featuring only one guest appearance by Eminem, The Blueprint became Jay-Z's fourth consecutive #1 album on the Billboard 200 charts. From radio anthems "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" to introspective cuts "Never Change" and "Song Cry" to diss tracks like "Takeover," the beats are consistently as extravagant as the rhymes are rich. Ten years after its original release, The Blueprint has only grown in acclaim, rightfully taking its place as a hip hop classic and one of the genre's greatest album's of all-time.