General Steele of Smif-N-Wessun/Boot Camp Clik and Burlington, Vermont-based producer Es-K present their collaboration album Building Bridges. Produced mostly by Es-K, the album features guest appearances from Buckshot of Black Moon, Smoothe Da Hustler, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Rockness Monsta of Heltah Skeltah, and a posthumous cameo from his late great partner, Sean Price. As one half of Smif-N-Wessun, General Steele crashed the hip-hop scene in the 1990s with their debut album Dah Shinin’ (named a Top 100 Album Of All Time by The Source and a Top 50 Debut Album Of All Time by Complex). Their last release - 2011’s Monumental - was produced by Pete Rock, and Steele has also collaborated with Tupac Shakur, Mary J Blige, 50 Cent, Raekwon and Bounty Killer. Es-K may be best known for his 2014 album Serenity (listen) as well as his Spontaneous Grooves beat tape series, where every beat on each tape was made in one sitting each. A low-key display of introspective verses, classic cuts and jazz-inflected beats, Building Bridges stays true to its name by bridging the gap between established artists and rising ones alike such as VVS Verbal, Shadow The Great of Loaf Muzik, Napoleon Da Legend, Mar’rz Atomz, Stage One, Louie Skaggs, Boone Bixby, Supreme The Eloheem (from the Representativz) and Coke as well as production from Hellfire Beats and Central Parks. DMC champion DJ Grazzhoppa contributes cuts alongside Hashfinger and Hellfire. The cover art comes courtesy of Joe Buck, the artist behind the De La Soul Is Dead cover art. Building Bridges will be released via Bucktown USA, the multimedia company General Steele created in 2004 alongside partner Cynical Smith, with digital distribution through Duck Down, including a limited-edition pressing of 500 records. #BuildingBridges
Sean Price tragically passed away in August, 2015 at the age of 43. Sean was a popular rapper, hailing from Brooklyn, NY. He was celebrated for his work as ½ of the group, Heltah Skeltah, and 1/8 of the supergroup, Boot Camp Clik. However, his solo albums were what truly set him apart. To highlight this work, Duck Down Music has created a truly unique vinyl box set featuring Sean Prices' Monkey Barz, Jesus Price Supastar and Mic Tyson albums. The limited-edition box set has a hologram cover depicting Sean Price in the jungle, battling a gang of angry gorillas. The scene is reminiscent of the art portrayed from his previous titles. The box set will be available on Black Friday, November 25th, 2016!
A Tribe Called Quest‘s final album and first in 18 years: We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.
The borders between London's musical tribes have always been porous. For Yussef Kamaal, the sound of the capital with its hum of jungle, grime and broken beat has shaped a self-taught, UK-tipped approach to playing jazz. In the states, the genre's long-running to-and-fro with hip hop from Robert Glasper to Kamasi Washington has reimagined it within US culture. On Black Focus, Yussef Kamaal frame jazz inside the bass-saturated, pirate radio broadcasts of London. Taking inspiration from the anything-goes spirit of '70s jazz-funk, on albums by Herbie Hancock or the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it's a loose template with plenty of room to experiment. The pair, made up of Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams (aka Henry Wu), have had little in the way of formal training. Instead, their musical tastes and approach to playing are indebted to Thelonious Monk's piano as much as the drum programming of Kaidi Tatham. "It's all about the drums and the keys," Williams says. "Not to take anything from anyone else, but that's where it all originates from: the chords, the rhythm of the chords and the drums." Born out of a one-off live session to perform Williams' solo material for Boiler Room, it soon became a project in its own right. Coming together as Yussef Kamaal, they played a series of live shows where little more than a chord progression would be planned before taking to the stage. Bringing that unspoken understanding to the recording sessions (engineered by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics), the unplanned, telepathically spawned grooves retain the raw energy of their live shows. "It's not so much about complete arrangement, it's more about flow," Dayes says. "A lot of the tracks are just made spontaneously Henry will be playing two chords, I'll fill in the groove and we'll just leave the arrangement naturally." Both hail from South East London, crossing paths in 2007 as teenagers playing their first pub gigs around Peckham and Camberwell. Dayes drums for cosmically-inclined, afrobeat outfit United Vibrations, while Williams on top of drumming and playing keys in different incarnations over the years has made waves with his solo, synth-draped house 12"s for much-fted labels like 22a and Rhythm Section.
It’s been four years since La Coka Nostra released their sophomore album, Masters Of The Dark Arts, (the group's first project without Everlast was also their most critically acclaimed project--- featured collaborations with Vinnie Paz, Sean Price & production from DJ Premier and Statik Selektah) and the music industry has changed considerably in that time. However, a few things still remain constant; La Coka Nostra will always be as their aptly-titled 2009 debut verified, A Brand You Can Trust, and the group will continue to dazzle their rapid fan-base with sold out shows around the globe with their raucous live performances. Always known for tackling controversial topic matter, the group’s new album, To Thine Own Self Be True, finds them once again in torchbearing mode, addressing subjects that most artists shy away from. “This album was created during a time of unique and individual transformation for each member of the group” ILL Bill stated. “Speaking for myself, it’s been a heavy last couple of years. It’s definitely the most personal record we’ve made under the La Coka banner and while we’re still making music that’s hard as fuck, there’s a maturity to this latest batch of songs that makes it different from a lot of the older stuff. I notice the biggest reactions come from the songs our listeners can personally relate to and we needed to make a record like this right now, not only for the fans, but for ourselves. I got alot off my chest on this one. Making music can be extremely therapeutic and making To Thine Own Self Be True was a rebirth and a re-ignition for me.” Slaine had a similar take on the projects therapeutic manifestation “You don’t put as many years in the game as we have without having ups and downs. We all have gone through struggle and adversity—personally and professionally” Slaine lamented. “This album was recorded as I walked out of a very dark time toward a place of truth and understanding. Music has been how I feed my family, my plane ticket around the world and a place I’ve built real friendships; but at the very core it’s a tool I use to get through life. This album is a moment in time. It is visceral and real.” While DJ Lethal continues to oversee the production end of To Thine Own Self Be True, the group also enlisted Statik Selektah, Marco Polo, Salam Wreck (D-12, Obie Trice, Proof, B-Real, Tha Dogg Pound) & ChumZilla (from the Demigodz) and get vocal contributions from extended family members such as Vinnie Paz, Apathy, Q-Unique, Sick Jacken, SKAM2? & Rite Hook.
Hot off collaborations with Nottz (Titans in the Flesh EP) and Madlb (Bad Neighbor LP), SoCal ambassador Blu has teamed up with the Paris-based production team Union Analogtronics (OJ & Gold) to unleash a new full length album: Cheetah in the City. Featuring Dam-Funk, Phat Kat, Frank N Dank, and more, the album signifies a stylistic sea change for Blu, best known for his dusty, soul sampling collaborations with Exile (Below the Heavens) and his own introspective opuses (Her Favorite Colour, Good to be Home, York!). Rippling with 808s and cinematic strings, Cheetah in the City is an organic evolution from the synth-soaked, futuristic sound of Analogtronics, UNION’s 2012 Fat Beats Records debut album featuring Talib Kweli, MF DOOM, Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, and more. After mutual friends put them in touch at a Parisian post-show after-party, Blu and Union began a musical exchange that spanned continents. Blu returned to LA with UNION’s best beats, and after months of exchanging lyrical ideas, the trio regrouped for marathon recording sessions in UNION’s Paris-based studio. Cloistered for weeks with nothing but drum machines, instruments, keyboards, records, and France’s best bud, Blu became obsessed with infusing his kicked back Southern California sensibilities into UNION’s penchant for pushing the possibilities of technicality into multilayered, densely packed productions. A cohesive story emerged in the songwriting: a young man, raised amongst deadbeats, killers, and hard drugs, metamorphoses into the Cheetah, a money-making predator whose quick talk and cold hustle make him the king of a city that will eventually consume him, heart and soul. We’ve never heard Blu like this.
CZARFACE (Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric) is back! Fresh off the heels of their collaboration with Marvel Comics the trio continues to combine music and art with their latest release ""A Fistful of Peril"" The back story of this album begins in the summer while Deck and Esoteric were in the studio recording some new Czarface material. During this time Marvel Comics had reached out to Czarface wanting some music to soundtrack their Black Panther web series, promoting their breakout comic of the same name. This Marvel meeting spawned the lead track ""All in Together Now"" and served as the primary inspiration for a fleshed-out album that nobody saw coming. The group camped out in the studio playing beats, talking comics, video games, and pop culture....what came about was ""A Fistful of Peril."" Starting the album off with the ARP keyboard odyssey of ""Electric Level 1"" is like entering the vortex of color and light in Kubrick's 2001. The aptly titled ""Two in the Chest"" showcases Deck & Eso's ability to deliver punchlines and pop culture references with ease over an exceptional bass and guitar combo. ""Czar Wars"" has the two sparring back and forth bringing that 'X-Men/Danger Room' mentality that Deck often to refers to when in Czar-mode. Psycho Les of The Beatnuts steps in on ""Dust"" while ""Lizard City"" introduces 'Czarface Pajamas'. Yes you read that correctly. The off-kilter ""Steranko"" has Meyhem Lauren and Rast join forces with Czarface as they weave their way through a mind-bending array of varying beats. Other features on the album are Conway on ""Machine, Man & Monster"" and AOTP's Blacastan on ""Tarantulas."" Another one of the album's highlights is ""Dare Iz A Darkseid"" which along with ""Talk That Talk"" is the perfect balance of wit and humor that make up the core of Czarface. Building on an already rock solid foundation with two critically acclaimed albums, ""A Fistful of Peril"" features some of the groups most cohesive material. The chemistry between the hungry-as-ever Deck and Eso overflows as the two mc's trade lines, humor and plenty of razor sharp lyrics over the backbone of 7L production. ""A Fistful of Peril"" in a word? ""Excelsior!"""
YES LAWD! As temping as it may be to just let that exclamation suffice as your sole introduction to NxWorries, we should go a little deeper. The men at the heart of this LP — soul styler Anderson .Paak and loop beast Knxwledge — make an exceedingly clean pair, even as they deal almost entirely in the gritty: vocals that sound lived in for a couple of lifetimes; beats that kick up dust as they bump; and an 18-track set that plays like a mixtape merging skits, songs, and snippets into a package of fluid groove and rough-cut rap ‘n’ soul gems. You may have heard these two out in the world, on their own or sprinkling some of their musical gold dust on someone else’s songs, but this is what happens when .Paak and Knx get home, lay back, light up, and let it go. If there’s a Blaxploitation vibe to Yes Lawd!, that’s just the depth of NxWorries’ funk and strut showing. If there’s gospel in the grits, that’s the history of the cooks. Each grew up with religion. It was Knxwledge’s job to tidy up the family church in Jersey as a kid, and when he was done, he got to play on the instruments. Better still, when those instruments went bad, he kept them. Similarly, he’d soon find sounds in his growing vinyl cache, and when he moved to Los Angeles in 2008 as a beat maker, his compositions ensured he’d be home at Stones Throw. His hypnotically dank 2015 LP Hud Dreems was the tip of an iceberg—75 Bandcamp collections, and counting. Paak was neck deep in those songs when Knxwledge reached out. The singer grew up in Oxnard drumming in his own family’s church. His folks got locked up when he was a teen, and while he’d eke by on odd jobs (grocer, trimmer, personal assistant), he was homeless for a spell with a newborn son. But .Paak pushed forward, building a career via imaginative albums (2016’s Malibu), and collaborations that always seem to make him the star, even when he’s just there to sing the hook. On Yes Lawd!, .Paak – who calls the album “my best work” – plays theatrically brash version of himself who sings like a ‘70s superstar and talks shit like a stone cold player. But the perfor-mance is seeded with details from his life, which has seen a fair share of struggle and hardwon triumph. Meanwhile, Knx weaves a tapestry of sampled bits and live fragments—bass, brass and violin—that smooths everything over, reminding us that despite whatever struggle it took to get here... well, you already know the name: NxWorries.
Vinyl coming 2017! Donald Glover has detailed his third record as Childish Gambino. Awaken, My Love! will be out December 2 via Glassnote.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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