When I first went to high school, I remember I’d memorized the entire intro to Rhyme Pays and would recite it to pretty girls for reasons which now escape me. Let’s just say it was a simpler time. Ice-T‘s first four albums combined humor, slick talk and social commentary in a way which set him apart from the competition and allowed fans to overlook that fucked-up ponytail. Here’s a collection of remixes, b-sides and essential album cuts from everyone’s favorite Law & Order: SVU detective.
Rising up through the ranks from the ‘Son of Bambattaa’ to the DJ at The Roxy and launching the Zulu Beat radio show on WHBI, Afrika Islam went on to release the very fist cut and paste record, help found the Rhyme Syndicate and produce the majority of Ice-T’s first four albums after moving to LA in what has certainly been an action-packed career. He took a little time out to reminisce before he headed over to Ice’s house to watch the latest episode of SVU.
Robbie: How did you first get exposed to the culture?
Afrika Islam: I was a member of the Zulu King b-boys, under Afrika Bambaataa. That’s how I came into the culture, from the floor up. Being a member of the Zulu Kings I went out to battle other b-boy crews across the city, representing the Zulu Nation. From there, my second step was becoming a Zulu Nation DJ – the first line – which would have been myself and Jazzy Jay and Red Alert and DXT. I was under Afrika Bambaataa – we all were – but I was very close to Afrika Bambaataa. Then I got named ‘The Son of Bambaataa’ because I was always under him and his teachings and what was going on in the Zulu Nation at the same time in hip-hop. That’s my roots of hip-hop – I was there as a DJ.
There must have been a lot of competition to make it into that first line of Zulu DJs?
My technique I took from those that were creating the techniques – Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore. That’s primarily where the technique we used came from, but being that I was with Afrika Bambaataa the main thing was learning all those records, because he was definitely the ‘Master of Records.’ Learning all those records was honestly what everything was about. Having all those records, the repertoire, most of these other DJs only had the ability to….even though they were technically incredible and the pioneers of what modern-day DJing is – Flash and Theodore – the repertoire of the records was the soundtrack to New York City. That was the soundtrack to hip-hop. (more…)
Cole James Cash was cleaning up his mom’s basement last week and found this old record which features not one but two rhymes which are ripped off word-for-word from other rappers. Apparently Lo Down had some connection with the Wu-Tang, with Islord from Killarmy contributing the final verse which is actually the Raekown’s rap from ‘Meth Vs. Chef.’ This either means that:
1. They both shared a ghostwriter who sold them the same rhyme without telling the other one;
2. Islord from Killarmy used to write Rae’s raps; or
3. The dude was so weeded out when he heard the Tical album that The Chef’s verse blended into his subconscious so deeply that he somehow convinced himself that he made it up himself. (more…)
Do you ever sit around and wonder ‘What the hell happened to that marginally talented rap crew who released an album in the early nineties?’ If so, I’m here to help. It turns out that some of your old favorites didn’t all go back to working ‘civilian’ jobs after the roller coaster ride that is a recording contract. Some of them kept keeping on for another shot at fame, and a few are still releasing music this decade, believe it or not. I’ve previously posted modern efforts from The Legion and Freestyle Professors, but after donning my grey trenchcoat and developing a Columbo style wonky eye I was able to dig up the following: (more…)
Forgive me if this is common knowledge, but I only just realized that the group Whistle, best known for their 1985 hit ‘(Nothing Serious) Just Buggin,’ released four albums on the Select label. Jazzy Jazz, Kool Doobie and DJ Silver Spinner were the original line-up, with Kraze and Terk joining in ’90 after Jazzy Jazz Doobie broke north. At this point they abandoned rapping altogether and got on some Boyz II Men type shit for their third album Always and Forever. By the time 1992 rolled around, the crew was riding the Bel Biv Devoe wave and broke out the mustard hooded t-shirts to join the New Jack Swing movement bfore they rode off into the sunset.
As a major fan of Behind the Iron Curtain, the previously CD/tape-only 1996 album by the 4 man NY/Atlanta crew Sleestack’z, GRR is excited to be releasing the long overdue 2LP vinyl version of this cult classic. Featuring all 18 tracks from the original album PLUS 3 bonus joints recorded around the same time, this is a must-have for any fans of 90s hip hop. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies (100 on clear vinyl, 200 on black vinyl) and comes in a white jacket with oversize sticker, as well as printed liner notes on the history of the group and making of the album.
My old drinking buddy Phillip Mlynar penned Lyricist Lounge: An Oral History this week, which reminded me of just how disappointing the actual album dedicated to that place was. As a record buyer during that period, I fondly recall that period in the mid to late 90’s when MF Doom, Juggaknots, Jigmastas and Scaramanga were releasing some cutting-edge music. But I also remember that, as it’s always been, 85% of the singles released during the ‘indy rap renaissance’ were either generic, corny Backpack Rap or weirdo Company Flow type nonsense. When the Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1 album in 1998, there was a fair amount of hype behind it and in what would turn out to be one of my more regrettable purchasing decisions I decided to shell-out for the 4 LP edition only having heard the breezily enjoyable ‘Body Rock’ single with Mos Def, Tash and Q-Tip. (more…)
This sounds great but I can’t help but wonder why Chopped Herring and other labels don’t offer stuff like this on CD as well. It’s not like a bunch of demos off an old cassette are going to playable in a club, is it?
DJ Spinna and Kriminal provided the 1996 indy stand-out single, ‘Beyond Real’/’Dead Man Walking,’ which proved to be the one of the highlights of an extensive discography over the next six years. Spinna was in high demand during this period for his signature lush production style which combined restrained sampling and original riffs for an atmospheric canvas of sounds, while Krim provided the most compelling verbal contributions from a wide range of vocalists who utilized the Beyond Real catalog. Ignoring the hackneyed ‘conscious’/’underground’ cliches that came to sully much of the ‘independent as fuck’ mantra of the day, Kriminal maintained a refreshingly honest style of Brooklyn brag rap that wasn’t afraid to boast of of ‘putting a dick in your girl’ during a time of tiresome politically correct posturing and underground flag-waving. (more…)
Following on from last year’s interview with former Beatnut Al’ Tariq, I finally got a chance to speak with Psycho Les about the ups and downs of one of rap’s greatest groups. Turns out that Les’ history foes back even further than I thought, as he revealed he worked at Music Factory during high school and produced his first record in 1988…
Robbie: Do you feel like Al’ Tariq’s comments about his time with the Beatnuts were accurate?
Psycho Les: It was pretty much right. Me and Al’ Tariq never had a problem. The problem was between Juju and him, they didn’t really get along. When people don’t get along shit ain’t gonna happen.
He mentioned some subliminal stuff between him and Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul?
There was subliminal shit going on but it was more on Juju and Fashion’s part. That had nothing to do with me, I always stay away from any negative shit. I ain’t out to diss nobody.
What made you want to get involved in hip-hop?
Just being a kid from the streets. When I was coming up in mid ’80s the streets was the only place you could find hip-hop. You would go to the parks and we would have the cardboards, people breakdancing and the guy with his boom box playing tapes of Cold Crush and Spoonie Gee and Kool Moe Dee and all that shit. I was into everything of the culture, man – from breaking to graffiti, I did it all. I just fell in love with the music, just watching the DJ and all the power he had. I started messing with all the DJ’s that lived in my building. I would go to their apartments and watch them DJ. From there I developed the whole dream to have turntables and mixers and collecting records. (more…)
Newest latest for the good people at Cuepoint is an in-depth look at the story behind Snap! and ‘The Power,’ covering Chill Rob G‘s response, how Penny Ford was recruited to add new vocals and an unfortunate incident involving Turbo B and some drag queens in Boston.
Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate was one of the more unusual extended rap crews, with a core membership that included everyone from old school veteran Donald D, ‘Caucasian Sensation’ Everlast, rapper/crooner dude Bronx Style Bob and acid casualty Divine Styler. According to the Syndicate Facebook page, which looks like it’s run by Donald D, the official role call is as follows:
Ice-T, Donald-D, Everlast, Afrika Islam, Darlene the Syndicate Queen, Bronx Style Bob, Divine Styler & the Scheme Team, Bilal Bashir, Low Profile (W.C. & Aladdin), Spinmasters (Hen-Gee & Evil-E), Hijack, Randy Mac, DJ Chilly Dee, MC Taste, Shaquel Shabazz, Nat the Cat, Domination, T.D.F., Mixmaster Quick, F.B.I. Crew, Lord Finesse, Nile Kings, Rhamel, Tre Kan, Bang-O, Toddy Tee, Monie Love, MC Trouble and Body Count.
Here’s a collection of my favorite Syndicate songs from that era, a reminder of when LA rappers were still trying to impress New York by rapping properly and when important issues such as how great it would be to have a sweet new Rolex watch were addressed with the seriousness they deserved. Sadly, despite having some great production from Aladdin and SLJ, Ice’s rapping had begun to fall into steep decline by the time he made Home Invasion, where he introduced some teenage chick rapper named Grip. I blame Body Count, obviously.
As a member of The Chosen Few, Trio Connection and Black By Demand, CJ Moore did his thing as a rapper in the 80’s while honing his skills as an engineer and mixer. Here are some examples of CJ in action on the mic and behind the boards.
Prior to his reign as The Rap Bandit, Danny Ozark went by the pen name Pistol Pete. For this column in the January 1991 issue of The Source, Pete invents ten rap rumors as an excuse to drop some hip-hop punchlines. Just think, before Twitter rappers had to listen to dumb myths about themselves for months and months! Progress.
File under ‘Attempted Club Bangers That May Never Have Actually Been Played In A Club’, much like Rockwilder‘s remix of ‘Thick’ for D.I.T.C. It appears that Puba wasn’t trying to hear that rapping-on-top-of-a-building shit and filmed his part in a bar, although it’s more likely that he just slept-in on the day of the shoot. One can only imagine that Loon was contractually obliged to provide the hook due to the Arista connection, since I’m pretty sure he literally phoned in his contribution from a payphone. (more…)
Just saw this advertised on Facebook. Does anybody know what the final track titled ‘Unexplained’ is? I’ve read elsewhere that this was the alternative name for ‘Swordsman,’ but since that’s listed as well it must be a totally different song…
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.
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’). (more…)