Combat Jack is on a roll right now, having recently penned this superb True Stories Behind 25 Rap Classics for Complex as well as hosting his always entertaining show on PNC Radio (which also features my semi-regular Weed Carrier Report) with Dallas Penn and NY Delight. This week’s episode featured Super DJ Clark Kent, Maffew Ragazino and Sean P in the studio, which added an extra Brooknam flavor to proceedings.
Before Com was making shitty club music and movies, he was a ‘rhyme animal’. Here we catch him blacking-out on Max and Dave‘s The Kiss-FM Rap Show in the UK, joined by British MC legend Tony Rotten of Blak Twang over a live jam session courtesy of the mighty Brand New Heavies.
“Last time I was in London, people seen me drunk…”
Were you unfortunate enough to cop the supremely underwhelming Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1 LP when it came out? You might recall that the highlight was a recording of a Stretch Armstrong Show freestyle session which assembled Pharoahe Monch, Black Thought, Common and Absolute (House of Reps) for a brain-melting display of verbal destruction. At the end it’s announced that this is actually a new group called The Incredible Force – and nothing was ever spoken of the matter again. A few months afterwards, rumors started to circulate of another super-group called the Psychic Friends, consisting of a similar line-up but replacing the lesser-known Absolute with Jeru The Damaja. I never heard anything result from that combo either, but it’s safe to say that based on what was displayed here, the Psychic Friends could have been fuckin’ incredible if they’d recorded an album. Looks like we’ll have to settle on these guys for now.
Black Thought, Common, Pharoahe Monch & Absolute - ‘Live At The Stretch Armstrong Show’
As the seeds of New York hip-hop began to spread in the mid-80’s, nearby cities such as Philadelphia and Boston were quick to adapt their own unique take on the original recipe. While most people didn’t have the Bean on their rap radar until they heard Ed OG’s ‘I’ve Got To Have It’ (or former Mass. resident GURU from Gangstarr), groups like The Almighty RSO and TDS Mob were already crafting their own brand of hardcore rap, while the Boston Goes Def compilation was an early milestone for local talent. Top Choice Clique (consisting of lead MC Jawn P, MC/DJ Force and DJ Gemini) were an important part of this early movement. They were drawn together through a shared interest in the Lecco’s Lemma radio show, as Force recalls, “I was in a group called Jambox Three, and I had met DJ Gemini. At that time there was another person who was in the original line-up of Top Choice – a beatbox by the name of Andy F. They knew Jawn P, and I guess they were feeling the way I dropped lyrics, and they told me about him and we got together and started vibing. Originally Top Choice Clique was meant to be like the Juice Crew from New York, kinda like a bunch of groups and MC’s under one umbrella. I was a soloist, Jawn and Gemini were called Double Def, there was Andy F the beatbox and we had MC Ace, another MC. Somehow it just ended up coming down to just three of us.” (more…)
Just to remind myself just how well Kris can put it down on a good day, I dug-out this old tape of his appearance on Hot 97 to promote the I Got Next LP. With Flex cutting up every classic break you can think of and KRS dropping verses and off-the-head action for fifteen minutes, you’d be hard pressed to deny his status as the Greatest Rapper of All Time.
You first caught him on The War Report, but it was when Imam THUG teamed-up with Tragedy for the Iron Sheiks material that he really made rap fiends take notice. In the words of our British chums, dude is “straight bonkers”. The “Alluminati” joint in particular is some bugged-out slice of conspiracy-theory madness. combined with religious iconography and bizarre historical references – nothing less than mentalist brilliance. As Trag predicted, “1999 – numb refined/Internet Web control ya whole mind”…and who am I to argue?
Any self-respecting Bridge resident has been involved in at least one remake of MC Shan‘s anthem, right? Imam has done two! I’ve already discussed ‘The Bridge 08′, but the recreation of said landmark for the Y2k version is one of the all-time greatest tracks ever, as Marley adds some music from Scarface and brutal guitar stabs to proceedings. As for the infamous Tony Toca appearance, what more can be said than, “Where that Henny at? Where that weed at?”.
A couple of years ago Imam connected with the P Brothers for “Across The Planet”, and recently recorded a track with another Notts resident (and Unkut Dot Com regular) ED209 called “Karma 360″ (which is available as a limited-edition vinyl pressing here), proving that Queensbridge USA and Nottingham, England make for a good combination like whiskey with a beer chaser.
Thought I might balance out all the shittin’ on Nas last week. Both versions of “Ain’t Hard To Tell” are incredible, and the demo version ain’t too shabby either. Plus I brought back the Nas / De La Soul interview from 1996 with Tim Westwood that I posted a couple of years back…a lot of comedy on here. Little Homey big up’s an early Jay-Z song, comments on the Biggie cover artwork bite and demonstrates why interviews and blunts aren’t always a “good combination”.
Nas - “Nas Will Prevail” (“Ain’t Hard To Tell” demo)
Nas & De La Soul on Tim Westwood’s Capitol Rap Show, 1996.
Following on from Rudy’s finest solo shots, here is some of his better work with other dudes. It’s amazing what a Flush verse and a Buckwild remix can do for an otherwise mediocre record from an otherwise unexceptional indy rapper, as Lace Da Boom‘s “Cut That Weak Shit” is given a much-needed makeover. Big Pun, NORE and Flush over The Meters’ “Hand Clapping Song”? That’s white-label gold right there. Big Ran, who happens to be Royal Flush‘s brother, only provides the hook for “No Love” but also receives top billing on the song. Go figure. “Queens Represent” is another “never made retail” cut from the Ghetto Millionaire sessions, as the Wastelandz crew all get a piece of the action, while Tommy Tee recruits a solid team for “No Holds Barred” (although it would have made more of an impression if F.T. had rapped and made Matt Fingez do the chorus instead). Rounding off proceedings is the Big L and Flush freestyle, which is sometimes labeled as “Flamboyant 2″ although it’s clearly just some mixtape shit. (more…)
“…three drinks later she was damn near Pam Grier maybe my imagination or the black and tan beer.” - Tony Bones on “Splashin Over Monica”
Hailing from Edmonton, North London, but calling New York home since before he was a teenager, Tony Bones has made noise in the rap game both as an underground vocalist and as graphic designer, and for those of you who don’t know much about this guy, here’s your chance to catch-up. I actually spoke with him late last year after I mistakenly referred to him as a white guy, and more recently Keir built with Tony about his exploits, so I’ve combined the best parts of both interviews into some kind of super-mega-Q&A-type extravaganza and all that good stuff. Bones is also responsible for the dope new Unkut Dot Com logo that we’re currently sporting.
Keir: What is your earliest recollection of hip hop out there?
My first encounter with hip hop was seeing Sugarhill Gang perform on Top of the Pops and I hated it. That may have been because I heard ‘Ant Rap’ by Adam & The Ants first which was horrid. I was more into what my older brother was into like The Jam, Elvis Costello, Madness, The Clash, The Specials, The Beat. That and what my dad played like Roy Ayres, Heatwave, Bob James, Lee Morgan, WAR, Cymande, all that stuff.
When did you come to the US?
We first came in October of ’83. I was about to turn 12. My family basically moved here to the US for a change of scenery. My parents are pretty outgoing like that. I absolutely hated it at first, it was like a different planet…
What was it like fitting into American culture at that age?
I remember being asked to say this or that. At a certain point I decided to disguise the way I spoke to avoid the hassle. Eventually I got used to the change and settled in. Having an older brother who was a nutter and nice with his hands didn’t hurt either. (more…)
Here’s some Milano joints to follow-up that post from the other day. “Show ‘Em Freestyle” is an ill bio running down Milano’s moves in the rap game, while his classic tag-team with Pun, “Where You At?” dropped on the DITC album. “Deal With The Feeling” is arrogant nonchalance over a slick Show composition, while “Done In Vein” is a Lord Finesse-blessed piece on some “can’t hold me back” shit. Keep your eyes peeled for the much-delayed Boulevard Author album on Beatdown.