Non-Rapper Dudes Series: Matt Fingaz Interview [Guesswhyld Records]
Matt Fingaz is living proof that unpaid internships can be more than just slave labor for record companies, as he was able to parlay his connections into an independent record label with Guesswhyld Records before he made the move into project co-ordination with the B.O.C (Business of Coordination) management company with Stat Quo, which handles with music, sport and fashion. Matt took some time out to kick it about those idealistic days when making an underground rap record was as simple as knowing the right guys in the neighborhood, as he helped everyone from Mos Def and Talib Kweli to Sha Money XL get their feet in the door of the music game.
Robbie: What led to you getting involved with starting a label?
Matt Fingaz: In 1994 I was a DJ for college radio and I interned for Blunt Records – Mic Geronimo, Royal Flush and Cash Money Click – Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Tuesday and Thursday I was interning at Relativity, when Common and the Beatnuts and Fat Joe and Bone Thugs was popular. I just loved vinyl, I loved collecting records – I didn’t even want to be in the music business! One day my friend Brandon put out this record called The Derelicts, and I said, “Wow! You put out your own record?!” He said, “Yeah, and I put it out in Japan!” He had this check and it said “$1,000”. I was like, “Oh, you’re rich!” Cos we were just kids. I was nineteen years old and I was really good with the college promotions and marketing, but I was terrible in the mail room. Basically I didn’t know how to tape up packages, and they hated me so they complained. I used to work under Irv Gotti – he was DJ Irv at the time – and I worked under this guy Chappy. Chappy was like, “I’m sorry but we can’t use your services anymore.” I’m like, “You’re firing me? I’m working for free!”
The UMC’s – Tried To Tell Ya
Kool Kim aka NYOIL has reunited with Haas G aka Fantom to deliver the first UMC’s track in over twenty years.
The 45 King feat. Supreme – Go Head Up 
Some hidden New Jersey rap gold, taken from The 45 King‘s The Lost Breakbeats – Test Press LP. Don’t call it Fast Rap though, that’s not a valid genre.
McGruff feat. Mob Style, Loon and Meebo – Bow Down
Following the mixed blessings that were McGruff‘s deal with Uptown, where Heavy D tried to Sean “Puffy” Combs’ Herb’s sound for something smoother, with decidedly mixed results, the Crime Dog took it back the gutter with this self-released 1998 single featuring the mighty Mob Style, Loon and Meebo over a gritty piano loop. “They thought it was over? Own label!”
Mobb Deep feat. Big Noyd – The Bridge ’94
After twenty long years, the CDQ version of Mobb Deep’s contribution to the long tradition of “The Bridge” remakes has finally been released into the wild. I’m declaring today an international holiday to celebrate – skip work, grab a few 40’s and go and brake some car windows in honor of this historic occasion.
Ten Early Cormega Appearances
Just after I put this together I recalled I’d already done a similar post back in 2009. Regardless, here’s a new improved look back at Cormega’s early raps from 1989 to 1997.
The Unkut Opinion: It’s Mostly (Completely) The Voice
There may only be two rapper’s with high pitched voices who I can tolerate – Milk D from Audio 2 and Ad Rock from the Beastie Boys, who also happened to have joined forces to record “Spam,” perhaps the most ear-splitting, obnoxious and completely brilliant rap song of all time. Otherwise, I have little to know time for whiny-voiced rapper dudes, regardless of how clever their rhymes may happen to be. While many aging hip-hop fans have a special place in their hearts for groups such as Souls of Mischief and Pharcyde, to my ears their debut albums represented the musically equivalent of golf being “a good walk spoiled.” Both 93 ‘Til Infinity and Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde featured outstanding production weighed down by some of the most annoying voices ever to rap.
MF Doom on The Stretch Armstrong Show, April 24, 1997
As is usually the way, it appears that MF Doom was inspired by Stretch Armstrong‘s beat selection for this 1997 rhyme session to go home and chop-up Kool G Rap‘s “Truly Yours” drums for the recorded version of “Go With The Flow.” Peace to Megalon, who may now actually be homeless after dedicating a song to said dude’s without a permanent address.
Thanks to Dirty Waters.
Download: Debonair P – Debonair Blends 10
Feel like taking a trip back to the mid 90’s? Debonair P has you covered:
“It’s been a little while since I uploaded a mix – I recorded this one in 2012, released it on CD last year, and finally got around to uploading it. This mix features 67 tracks, mainly from ’95-’97, and as usual hopefully there is something you haven’t heard before. Enjoy!”
Download: Debonair P – Debonair Blends 10
Video: Greyson & Jasun – Livin’ Like A Troopa 
After having this Vance Wright produced gem on repeat for the last few days after being reunited with my records, I stumbled across the video today. Two things worth noting – Greyson and Jaysun might have sold more records if they’d shot a cover photo dressed like this instead of the whole “suits in an abandoned bath house” look they went with, and this is still the finest use of “The Big Payback” loop ever used in rap, thanks to the slight pitch distortion effect, which I’m sure was the result of something messing up in the studio for brilliant results along the lines of the “Top Billin'” drum pattern.
Download: Kamakaze – Head On Promo Tape 
Thanks to The T.R.O.Y. Blog you can finally hear the unreleased Kamakaze album that the late KL and Kyron recorded with Marley Marl for Warner Bros. around ’94/’95. Special mention goes out to Poet for saying “Fuck the Juice Crew, we got some new niggas!” on “House ‘O Hitz Crew.”
Diamond D – The Unkut Interview
Growing up in Forest Projects in the South Bronx, DJ Diamond D embarked on a career as a local DJ before teaming-up with childhood friend Master Rob to form the Ultimate Force crew and release the “I’m Not Playing” single on Strong City. Following on from yesterdays detailed breakdown of his first solo album, we discussed his formative years as a music fan, his loyalty to those he grew-up with and some of his lesser known musical contributions beyond his work with the D.I.T.C. crew.
Robbie: How old were you when you first deejayed publicly?
Diamond D: First time I deejayed in public I was around 13, 14 in my projects at the jams outside. There were two DJ’s in my neighborhood – DJ Supreme and DJ Hutch. They would come outside and basically provide the soundtrack to our lives, through hip-hop. At some point, from me pestering them, they let me get on their set. To me that was the biggest deal, to be able to get on the turntables in your projects and feel the love of the people that were in the projects, basically.
Track By Track: Diamond D Breaks Down The Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop Album
Today marks ten years since I started Unkut Dot Com, and what better way to celebrate than to sit down with the original “Best Producer On The Mic” himself, Diamond D. Originally scheduled to take place in late 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of his classic debut album, Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop, it wasn’t until last week that it finally happened. We began by discussing his timeless debut, track-by-track:
Diamond D: I’mma keep it a hunned with you, I only wanted twelve songs on there. But you’ve gotta remember in the early 90’s it wasn’t uncommon for an album to have 18, 19 songs. You look at Pete Rock‘s album, Mecca and the Soul Brother. You look at De La Soul‘s first album. If it had been up to me it wouldn’t have been 21 songs on that album. But Chemistry was just like, “We gonna just roll the dice and throw all the shit on there.” I can’t say which ones I would have left off, but I can tell you I ain’t want all 21 on there! But it seems like it’s good that they did that, because I never put out an album with them again.
Pre-Order: 93 til Infinity Souls Super Bundle
The latest collectible from Get On Down is this Souls of Mischief ’93 Til Infinity bundle includes a Hiero Light Box, a music box, gatefold 2XLP, a t-shirt and eleven bonus tracks. Unfortunately there’s no sign of the instrumentals, which I copped on double vinyl from the Hiero site years ago and allowed me to enjoy the production goodness of this album minus the high-pitched rapping.
Jigmastas – The Resurge
Kriminal and DJ Spinna are back at it with their first new music in five years. I’ve been a fan of the J.I.G.’s since day dot, so this is one rap reunion that means something to me.
A Collector’s Guide To White Rap Players
Click to enlarge. Pause.
Motorbooty, aka the Greatest Music Magazine Ever, once featured this four page collection of baseball cards dedicated to the history of saltine rappers dudes and dames. Salutes to Mark Dancey and Mark Rubin for putting this pioneering work together.
L The Head Toucha – Sesame Street Hood
Did it ever occur to you that there haven’t been enough Sesame Street themed rap songs recorded (outside of KMD‘s “Humrush”, which wasn’t about said street at all but featured Bert acting as the Human Sound Machine)? Goodie Mob‘s cut from the Soul Food album was sadly lacking in Super Grover references, while K-Otix “The Countdown” and MF Doom’s “Cookies” flip samples from the beloved program without any lyrical references, leaving Agallah’s “Crookie Monster” as the reigning Children’s Television Workshop champ, until now. Chopped Herring released an EP of L The Head Toucha demos in 2013, which featured this track which adds a whole bunch of extra “street” to said address over a sublime Vinyl Reanimators beat.
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.