Eleven Years of Unkut Dot Com
This week marked the eleventh year of this website/weblog/blog/web page/national treasure/institution/boom-bap graveyard. As is our want, rather than celebrate the achievements that Unkut Dot Com and the mighty Conservative Rap Coalition have achieved, I’d like to focus on pouring out a little liquor for all the great things that are no longer with us:
The Unkut Guide To Greg Nice’s Human Beatbox Career
There once was a time when the human beatbox was an entertaining addition to 80’s rap songs, rather than something that you could do on into an iPad on your late night talk show. One of the unsung practitioners of this humble talent was Greg Nice, who lent his vocal percussive skills to no less than three crews before he teamed-up with Smooth B to make history. As revealed in my interview with CJ Moore, Greg Nice was down with the Nasty Comedians crew, which was originally Greg and Cool Nate-T. Their first single was released on Home Boys Only Records in 1985, the same label that CJ’s Small’s Chosen Few 12″ appeared on. As it turns out, the guy who owned HBO Records was Larry Davis, who would later rise to worldwide fame after he shot six cops in self-defense when they raided his sisters apartment in the Bronx.
Def Dames: Frick ‘N Frack
If you were a rap fan outside of the USA in 1987, it was in your best interest to collect the Street Sounds Electro/Hip-Hop albums, which were compilations of an often eclectic mix of current singles, mixed together by a selection of UK DJ’s. The one that really stood out for me was Hip Hop 18, which was mixed by a fellow named R.J. Scratch [Roger Johnson] and was a particularly mixed bag of great, obscure and just plain weird rap tracks from New York. I was eventually able to find copies of ‘You Know How To Reach Us’ and ‘We Have Risin”, but the two Marley Marl produced tunes on this volume remained out of reach. As it turns out, what would have been Frick ‘N Frack’s second single was never actually released, only existing on a couple of acetates. This was annoying since it means there was no way to hear the complete, unmixed versions of these tracks – until now. Turns out that Frick ‘N Frack have uploaded some of their old songs to iTunes for those of us who have waited for 28 years to hear the last minute of ‘Who’s On Mine.’ From the preview it sounds like they’ve been dubbed off cassette from when they were played on WBLS, but for 99 cents each I guess it’s worth taking a gamble.
UPDATE: The iTunes version is just a recording of the version on the Street Sounds compilation that cuts off when the Kings Of Pressure comes in. Guess we’ll be waiting another 28 years until Marley presses it up on Hot Chillin’…
Puffy Dee Revealed?
Another rap mystery case file can be closed, as we finally have photographic proof of what Puffy Dee looked like, courtesy of Fat Lace. In case you missed it, here’s her infamous Pumpkin produced b-side:
No Country For Old (Rap) Men: Nas – Live At The Forum, Melbourne
Last weekend I caught Nas rapping in front of an audience. Due to some kind of review embargo, this is only running now. *shrugs*
No Country For Old (Rap) Men: Nas – Live At The Forum, Melbourne
The Unkut Guide To Beeper Rap
Beeper’s seemed pretty great – although I never had cause to own one – what with the whole not having to speak to people until you can be bothered finding a phone booth thing. While there are dozens of songs that name check these trusty telecommunications devices, only a handful were savvy enough to actually utilize the distinctive sounds of the pager itself. Feel free to let us know if any other examples have been overlooked…
Update: Twelve new entries thanks to Rap Twitter and the comments section.
Non-Rapper Dudes Series: Freddy Fresh Interview
This morning I had a quick chat with DJ, producer and record collector Freddy Fresh about B-Boy Records, Breakbeat Lenny, The Rap Records book and the correct storage of 45’s. Freddy’s latest album, Play The Music, is out this March.
Robbie: How did you get involved in remixing a track for BDP’s Man and His Music album?
Freddy Fresh: That was ‘88. My first recorded work was that remix with one button pause switching and broken turntables. That was me hanging out at the offices in the South Bronx of B-Boy Records. The plaque on the Criminal Minded album – there’s a plaque between Kris and Scott – I made that plaque. If you look at the back of the album it says, ‘Freddy Fresh, thanks for the plaque.’ I got name-checked on a lot of those albums – Public Enemy thanked me, MC Lyte, Audio Two – all those guys said ‘thanks Freddy Fresh’ on their album, because I was engraving name plates and sending them out to my favorite hip-hop artists in the Bronx and Brooklyn and stuff in 1985, 6 and 7.
KRS-One – Late Night [Unreleased 1993 Practice Session]
DJ Kenny Parker sez:
Off the Practice Tapes album. Krs-One free styling & practicing an early draft of a song meant for the Return Of The Boom Bap LP.
The Return of HHC’s Connections Page
Click for full-size
Are you an ill homeboy looking to find a funky fresh fly girl to chill with after school? Then step on up the Hip Hop Connection‘s cleverly titled ‘Connections’ page and find a pen pal today! Sure, these ads were placed on the late 80’s but there’s a decent chance that some of these fellas are still living with mum if you care to try sending them some snail mail, ladies!
O.C. – The Unkut Interview
Working through my list of D.I.T.C. members to interview (only Fat Joe, Buckwild and O.Gee remaining), I got to talk shop with O.C. recently to ask the question that’s been burning my soul slow since 1994 – why didn’t he use that Rakim sample on ‘Time’s Up’!?
O.C. – The Unkut Interview
Ten Examples of Kid Rap That Aren’t Embarrassing
Kid Rap became a fad in the early 90’s, but youngsters rapping has been going on since the beginning of hip-hop. Matter of fact, some of them had more to offer than shaved heads and shouted choruses. Tragedy and LL were sonning their peers back when they were 14 and 16, respectively. Meanwhile, Jeff from the De La Soul skits never made an album while those Quo clowns got Redman and Aaron Hall features on their album. Where’s the justice?
Ten Rap Remixes That Are Barely Remixes But Still Win
The following are a collection of remixes that where perhaps only an extra horn, new drums or a rearrangement of the samples differentiates them from the original version, but they’re still significantly better. You could add most of the 80’s Cold Chillin’ 12: mixes to this list, natch.
Brand Nubian – Slow Down [Pete Rock Remix]
Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Straighten It Out’ [remix]
EPMD – ‘Crossover’ [Test Pressing Remix]
Stezo – ‘Freak The Funk’ [12″ Version]
Tarrie B Had Great Taste In Rap
Tarrie B, who’s the missing link between Blondie‘s shirt-lived rap career, a Madonna impersonator and Iggy Azalia, wasn’t much of a rapper. She did, on the other hand, film an amusing segment with her boss Eazy-E for the Slammin’ Rap video series, got a beat from Schoolly-D and clearly listened to some great great rap records before she abandoned rap for ‘grindcore’ band Tura Satana in 1997. Sadly, she makes no mention of the late Eric Wright in this Metal Hammer interview either, which only adds fuel to my theory that she was somehow responsible for E getting ‘the bug.’ Maybe she introduced him to some of her scumbag metal buddies who tempted Compton’s little big man to try a shot of horse with a dirty needle?
Bowing Out On Top
If Ice Cube had been able to stand by his claim in this August 1990 interview with Andy Cowan of Hip-Hop Connection, he would have been able to retire with a perfect battling average.
Straight Outta Compton, AmeiKKKa’s Most Wanted, Kill At Will and Death Certificate.
Ten Soundtrack Exclusives That Deserved To Be Singles
Many quality non album cuts have found themselves buried on movie soundtracks over the years. Here are just ten of them.
The Awful Truth About Rap Shelf Life
The limited shelf life of most rap groups is a an unfortunate reality. For some MC’s, the window of opportunity is so small that getting stuck in record label limbo for two or three years can spell career ruin, while even some of the genre’s greatest groups such as Run-DMC and Public Enemy suffered album release delays which saw them slip from cutting-edge to being eclipsed by the new kids on the block (with the exception of Donny Walberg’s ‘posse’).
Download: The Unkut 40 Oz. 2014
These are the best 40 rap songs of 2014, according to the Conservative Rap Coalition. Please mail all complaints to the usual address.
Download: The Unkut 40 Oz. 2014
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part Three
Concluding the three part interview with Black By Demand front man CJ Moore, he covers working with Paul C, Ultramagnetic MC’s and Super Lover Cee, the importance of engineering and chopping, getting ripped off on the ‘Rump Shaker’ single and his deep crates of unreleased material.
Robbie: What was your involvement with Super Lover Cee and Cassanova Rudd?
Super Lover Cee lived in the building behind mine. He has a group called Future Four MC’s, which was Super Lover Cee, myself, DJ Rudd and there was another DJ named Tiny Tim. We did shows around the neighbourhoods and then we disbanded. I was the guy doing the beats and the choruses and putting the track together. When I did ‘All Rapper’s Give Up,’ I had not gotten a deal just yet. He was hanging out of his window, cos he lived on the first floor, he was playing some stuff and he said, ‘Yo C, listen to this!’ I’m standing by his window and I said, ‘Let’s put it together.’ He wound up putting it together and I wound up tightening it up. When I brought him to the studio to do the session and introduced him to Paul and Mick, Paul C. didn’t want to do the session. He couldn’t hear it, he didn’t see anything pleasurable about it. He wound up doing it. As far as the entirety of the project, when he did their album Girls I Got ‘Em Locked, I did not do any of those records. But a lotta those routines we had in the Future Four? He wound up using them.
A Salute To Larry Smith
Larry Smith passed away on the night of Thursday 18 December 2014, seven years after suffering a stroke that left him incapacitated. His son, Larry Smith Jnr. apparently read Larry the article I wrote about him for Cuepoint in October and he is said to have enjoyed it, so at least he knew that there were a lot of people who still appreciated his contributions before he left us.
While his the tributes are flowing on Twitter, there seems to be no mention of the fact that Larry was a ward of the state since his stroke, receiving the minimal attention from the staff for the final years of his life. Where were all these hot shot celebrity friends of Larry when he really needed their support and financial assistance? People such as Talib Haqq, Akili Walker and Spyder-D took the time to visit Mr. Smith in his time of need. I wonder when was the last time that Russell Simmons or Reverend Run took the time out to check up on the guy who helped to get them where they are today?
Russell Simmons actually sold-off Larry Smith’s half of the publishing from their Rush-Groove company to fund the deposit that Columbia Records required to give Def Jam their distribution deal, effectively selling him up the river so he could hand Rick Rubin the keys to the rock/rap blueprint. I can’t help but feel like the hip-hop world let Larry down when he needed them most.
The RZA – The Unkut Interview
The mastermind responsible for the mighty Wu-Tang has finally reunited with the original crew to celebrate their 20th anniversary with a new album and a new approach. The RZA has been more focused on the film world in recent years, but it seemed like the perfect time to talk about his founding days and what lead up to him creating the infamous Wu-Tang sound, which reminded the rap world of it’s humble beginnings in the basement during a time when everything was getting a little too polished.
Robbie: What sparked you off to want to start making music?
RZA: My cousin, the GZA, had took me to a block party. I probably was 8 years-old, and the DJ was deejaying and somebody had grabbed the microphone and was saying some lyrics like, ‘Dip, dip, dive. so-socialize/Clean out your ears and you open your eyes.’ I started repeatin’ that, and a year later the GZA – he’s three or four years older than me – he started making his little rhymes, him and his homeboys were trying to make their little DJ set, and I would watch them. At the age of nine, the first rap record comes on the radio – Sugarhill Gang. When that happened I knew that’s what I was gonna do, I knew that I’m gonna have my voice on the radio, because they proved to me that it was possible.
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Engineer all-star CJ Moore delves into the behind the scenes events of Kool G Rap‘s Roots of Evil and the infamous Rawkus album, heading out west, working with the Live Squad and much more in the second part of this interview trilogy.
Robbie: What happened after the Akinyele sessions finished?
CJ Moore: When money started coming into play between Dr. Butcher and myself, things started getting funny. I went out to California and I teamed-up with Ed Strickland again and we was with a guy doing a project called The Reality Check – a guy named Michael Harris – Harry O. He’s the guy who funded Death Row Records. Ice Cube, Ice-T, Dub C, all those guys were involved. I produced a couple of records with Ice-T with me and him rapping back and forth. I was doing the east coast stuff, Battlecat was doing the west coast stuff. I went to Big Daddy Kane, talked to him on the phone, I said, ‘I need you to be out in California. I’m doing this project, it’s kinda merging the east coast with the west coast. Let’s talk about what it’s gonna take to get you on the project.’ He asked me who was on the project, and I explained to him. There was guy named Black Ceasar on the project, he was from Pittsburgh, real talented guy, but Kane had a problem because his name was Black Ceasar. I said, ‘But your name is Big Daddy Kane!’ ‘Yeah, aka Black Ceasar.’ I said, ‘What kind of bullshit is that?’ He couldn’t do the project because of that. I stepped to Method Man and I was trying to get to Redman and everyone was kinda busy, so the east coast/west coast thing never did the proper merge. There was so much money on the table, more than these guys have ever made. For some reason it just backed-out. I guess the whole Harry O thing might have scared people to a degree, if you know the homework on the whole Death Row situation. But we can’t get into that.
Stream: Boogie Down Productions – Live In London 
DJ Kenny Parker has shared this recording of a Boogie Down Productions show at Brixton Academy, 1990. Highlights include the freestyle session where KRS kicks some rhymes that would appear on later albums. Also, it’s my birthday today so I’m off to drink some RAER whiskey and whatnot.
CJ Moore [Black By Demand] – The Unkut Interview, Part One
CJ Moore has been at ground zero for more classic hip-hop records that most of us can either count, through his work as an engineer at 1212 during the Paul C. era, with his group Black By Demand and with his work for Akinyele and Kool G Rap to name a few. After chopping it with CJ for three hours, there’s a lot of material to get through and a lot of behind the scenes stories to drop, so let’s begin with how it all got started.
Robbie: When did you first get involved with music?
CJ Moore: About 83, 84. My brothers had a DJ group, and I was just a guy around the group. They were into the deejaying aspect of it and I was into the rapping aspect of it. I started getting into the technical side of it around 84, 85. My mom had bought me a little portable piano and I started making my little compositions from that point. That stemmed into me being the guy who understood a lot of the technical ins and outs as far as equipment was concerned, and I took it from there.
You didn’t study engineering formally?
I just picked it up as I went along. It was a studio called 1212 that I worked at, I was 14, going on 15. I had made a record called ‘We’re Gettin’ Paid.’ My aunt had bought me a drum machine, called a Casio RZ-1. One of the first sampling drum machines, it had like a 2.5 seconds of sample time on it, so I started making my beats from that and using my little piano. I took it into 1212, and the guy who owned the studio – his name is Mick Corey – he took a liking to the fact that I had never been in the studio before, how I kinda knew my way around to where I recognised what I was looking at. I knew how to get in and out.I used to go over to Sam Ash and Manny’s on 48th Street after school and play around with the equipment until they kicked me out. I would watch people and at some point I would overhear conversations about studios. I was trying to get in these places, but I didn’t have the money nor the backing, as far as you get into the buildings and they see this little kid trying to come into a music building. They looking at me like I’m crazy, with no supervision. 1212, I saved up my little money and went and did the sessions. I asked him, ‘I would love to work in a place like this!’ And he said, ‘Why not?’ I liked at him like he was crazy. He was asking me what did I know about this and what did I know about that and I was answering all of the questions right. He was talking about ratio and threshold and attack and things of that nature. I understood that because I used to read a lot and picked it up from that point until I really got my hands on it. I had some sort of a tutorial head-start due to literature.
Al’ Tariq aka Fashion – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Continuing my interview with Kool-Ass Fash, we discuss him leaving The Beatnuts, meeting Kanye West, forming Missin’ Linx, getting beat-jacked by Dr. Dre and his ill-fated experience signing with Dante Ross.
Robbie: At what stage did you decide to do a solo album?
Al’ Tariq: While we were out on tour doing The Beatnuts joint, we were doing a show close to home at a school, maybe in Long Island or some shit, being on stage and then somebody started heckling us. Talking shit, ‘Yo, you fuckin’ aargh!’ I finally look and it’s Juju. Then he comes and hops on stage and joins in on one of our songs and shit. I was so mad, and I could never understand why Les and Peter Kang didn’t get mad with this dude. I had a few serious run-ins with him.