Read The Label: The Hydra Entertainment Story
The independent hip-hop resurgence of the mid-90′s seems great in retrospect, but in the days before widespread internets access it was often a case of pot-luck when ordering the latest batch of vinyl via fax from Beat Street or Mr Bongos. While most artists were releasing one-shot singles on their own imprints, there soon emerged a handful of reliable indy labels that were able to maintain a level of quality control amidst the glut of wax dropping every week. Stretch and Bobitto, having championed the best in underground rap for years on their cult radio show, both tried their hands at the label game with mixed results via the Dolo and Fondle ‘Em imprints, while Guesswyld, Tru Criminal, Raw Shack and Tape Kingz also released a few winners.
Download: Frank The Butcher & DJ7L – Illegal Business Mixtape
Here’s a tape of 90′s NY rap put together by my man’s DJ7L and his pal Frank The Butcher.
The Juice Crew – 1990 Tim Westwood Freestyle
Here’s a Tim Westwood sure shot from 1990, courtesy of CRC member Palmer Stallings. Biz Markie, Tragedy, Craig G, Big Daddy Kane and MC Shan all drop verses, alhough sadly there’s no sign of TJ Swan despite him apparently being in the house. Shout-out to the other radio station that crosses the signal a few times.
Unkut TV: Episode 22 – Special Ed Live In Philly
Following the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo set at Treasures in Philly, Special Ed took to the stage and performed “Think About It”, “Crooklyn”, “Come On Let’s Move It” and “I Got It Made”. Basically half of the crowd had gone outside for a smoke by the time he hit the stage, but Ed’s female fans were in full effect regardless.
The U.N. – Unreleased 
A Frozen Files radio exclusive from last month, this is destined for the UN Or U Out re-release next year with a few other cuts that only did the rounds on bootlegs.
Beast Coast vs. A$AP Mob In A Fashionista Rap Royal Rumble?
When Nas dedicated “Loco-Motive” to “all my 90’s dreaded N-word”, he had no idea of the floodgates that were about to open. Not that throwback rap is anything new, but things have apparently gotten to the stage where the Pro Era crew are now claiming that no one outside of the Beast Coast collective is allowed to shamelessly pander to nineties hip-hop nostalgia. After A$AP Mob dropped a track called “Trillmatic” the other day, over an a-typical vibed-out beat and featuring a blistering contribution from Method Man, Joey Bada$$’ manager felt a type of way and aired out the following on Twitter: “Love to see more rappers bite the pro era swank. Good shit Nast. Smh lol whats new with these “New York” negus?” To which Nast replied: “style jacking who my nigguh. 1990 born up you got us fucked up my g need to talk whatchu know” , followed by this more incenidary remark: “I GOTTA SHOW DEZ LIL NIGGUHS HOW TO REP THE 90′s FOR REAL” Roffle Harris.
A$AP Mob feat. A$AP Nast and Method Man – Trillmatic
This shameless attempt to pander to the CRC crowd actually works on the strength of Meth’s superb contribution. That being said, an A$AP Mob song being posted on Unkut may just signal the coming of the apocolypse.
Terror Green – The 1995 Demo EP Snippets
Having become a one of the most requested demos ever played on the Stretch and Bobbito show, Terror Green‘s “45 Stitches” now has an animated video and a vinyl pressing, along with three other tracks. Sounding a lot like Jemini The Gifted Child, this is some of that good old BK ’95 indy action to catch a flashback to. Cop the vinyl here, courtesy of the good people over at Heavy Jewelz.
’45 Stitches’ video:
Forgotten Rap Skits: Threat – Cheating Gal Trilogy
DJ Pooh and Threat put together this trilogy of skits on the superb Sickinnahead LP in 1992, as a prospective player named Joe attempts to creep with a gal named Kim without alerting her boyfriend. Forget De La Soul and NWA skitnology, the layers at work here as Kim fakes-out her man is Oscar-worthy.
Bonus – Sickinnahead TV promo:
Forgotten Rap Skits: Mr. Hood
KMD‘s Mr. Hood album was something else when it first hit the streets. Set out like some Sesame St. style concept LP that threw Ansaar teachings, light-hearted skirt chasing and De La Soul-infused coded lyrics into a blender over some of the most diverse sample sources of the day (everything from blues to Bert and Ernie) made for a compelling and rather unique experience. Special mention for the genius that was “Plumbskinz”, a b-side cut that expanded on the “Peachfuzz” concept and remains as one of the dopest dedications to broads ever set to a beat. The skits dealing with local knucklehead Mr. Hood were one of the many highlights, filled with quotable’s that still come off over two decades later, as both Subroc and Onyx The Birthstone Kid dealt with this character in their own ways. Some dude recently felt compelled to recreate the barbershop scene in classic lo-fi YouTube glory…
Grand Daddy I.U. – The Unkut Video Interview, Part 2
I.U. is joined by his brother DJ Kay Cee as he discusses the making of Smooth Assassin, why he changed his style up for Lead Pipe, record label problems and why shit went bad with Treach from Naughty By Nature.
Boogie Down Productions – Duck Down [Alternative Version]
More BDP action with this vinyl rip from Rob Pursey of Southern Hospitality. Apparently the UK pressing of the “Duck Down” 12″ features an alternative version of the Pal Joey produced track, despite being labeled as the “LP Version”. Sporting a looser deliver from KRS, an extra bassline and an extra verse going at X-Clan, which would later end-up as part of “Build and Destroy”, from the same LP. Was there some kind of fuck up and an early demo version of “Duck Down” was pressed up for the British audience, or did the Jive UK office just prefer this version? Regardless, it’s more greatness from the third best BDP album, and therefore essential listening.
Video: Joe Fatal Live at CBGB’s, 1992
Some rare footage of Joe Fatal’s brief rapping career, at a showcase that also included Artifacts, YAGGFU Front, Total Pack, Hard 2 Obtain and Legion of D.U.M.E. I had to emancipate this from the original account since they deaded embedding. You can catch footage of the other performances over there.
Natural Elements – Competition Is NoNE
Natural Elements have returned to burn, albeit with the new names that they adapted in the mid 00′s. A-Butta is now Anthony Cruz, L-Swift is Swigga and Mr. Voodoo is Agu. Produced by Charlemagne, with scratches by Scram Jones. Interesting to note that they’ve flipped the world’s most annoying girl pop tune, aka Carly Rae Jepsen‘s “Call Me Maybe” in a manner not unlike Brand Nubian turning Eddie Brickell‘s “Who Am I” into “Slow Down”. Thanks to Neil Nice and grandgood for the heads up.
Barsha feat. AG – Green Trees
I have no idea why Barsha has returned to rap, twenty-three years after dropping the enjoyable Expicit Lyrics CD, but since it’s “mostly the voice”, I’m not complaining.