Sugar Bear & Stezo – Capital Rap Sessions 
Sugar Bear The Powerful Powerlord was responsible for the highly enjoyable 1988 single, ‘Don’t Scandalize Mine’ / ‘Ready To Penetrate’, and was also no slouch when it came to freestyling, as he demonstrated with this amusing Tim Westwood guest spot.
DJ Skizz feat. Your Old Droog, Sean Price, Lil’ Fame and Milano Constantine
DJ Skizz cooks up a marvelous track for Lil’ Fame to threaten that he’ll ‘put a hole in your chest bigger than sleeves on a wizard,’ which is a nice variation of the old saying used to describe the size of a particularly well-worn skeezer’s cooch.
New Vinyl Round-Up
There are a few new vinyl releases that are well worth keeping an eye out for if you still care about such things…
Chopped Herring have recently dropped vinyl for originally digital-only releases from Willie The Kid, Your Old Droog and $amhill, with Fat Beats supplying 2LP versions of Roc Marciano‘s Pimpire Strikes Back and Marci Beaucoup. Tuff City have issued a 7″ version of Davy DMX’s seminal ‘One For The Treble’ paired with ‘Davy DMX Will Rock,’ complete with pint-sized cardboard sleeves. Get On Down has followed-up recent 2LP editions of Big L and Black Sheep with re-issues of Diamond D’s debut and the mighty Hell On Earth album from Mobb Deep, while The Doppelgangaz will issue their 2008 EP The Ghastly Duo on record next month. Perhaps the most anticipated of all is the release of the lost J.B.’s album, These Are The J.B.’s on Now Again.
Video: Food Warriors – 59th Street, Columbus Circle
Has Midtown got any got spots to chow down? Will the IC’s dine on swine or take the ‘healthy option’?
The Mighty V.I.C. – The Unkut Interview
Photo: Alexander Richter
Not sure how my extended interview with The Mighty V.I.C. from 2008 slipped through the cracks, but after using a couple of parts of it I never got around to transcribing the entire three hours that we spoke over a couple of days while Vic ran errands. As before, the full version will be in the Unkut book, but here’s an edited version which covers the major points in his career. V.I.C. discusses how he began interning as a recording engineer at Power Play in the late 80’s, before joining The Beatnuts and working with Godfather Don under the Groove Merchantz banner and later recruiting Mike Heron to create the Ghetto Pros.
Robbie: How did you get started in music?
V.I.C: I started deejaying when I was fifteen years old. I was at the local bagel shop and one of the local kids who worked at the bagel shop showed me a mixer. I was in the tenth grade and I remember being home, sick at the time, and the guy came over after school – and after he was done at the bagel shop – and showed me how to DJ. From there, I found out you can actually go to school for engineering. I was like, ‘You can go to school to edit?’ So I did that a short time after. I went to an engineering school in the city, which I learned zero from, and I started interning at Power Play. That’s where I met Ivan ‘Doc’ Rodriguez, I met Norty Cotto, Patrick Adams – the guy that used to play on all those Eric B. & Rakim albums. At that time there were guys like Just-Ice recording there, you had KRS-One, you had EPMD. Hurby Luvbug used to record there too, Salt ‘N Pepa, Dana Dane, Kid ‘N Play.
Great Moments In Cracka-Ass Cracka Rap: Paleface
Click for full-size version.
After being reminded of this misguided attempt at Saltine Rap pride from 1993, it’s only right to give Paleface his second 15 seconds in the spotlight. It’s safe to assume that this guy was ignored by Ice Cube and therefore nobody outside of the Vibe magazine office ever heard this ‘industrial rock/rap’ track aimed at O’Shea. Shout-outs to Caesar for finding the scan and saving me having to dig through the torn-up magazine crates.
Video: Food Warriors – 125th Street
Shout out to your boy with the parrot on his shoulder as the IC’s continue to explore Harlem spots to grab grub from.
The Source Scans: The Great White Hoax
Classic material from The Source as Reginald C. Dennis breaks down the 1991 White Rap Invasion. Please note that Lavar kid is a Conservative Rap Coalition pioneer with his sensible haircut and crisp polo shirt.
Ghostface Killah feat. Kool G Rap, AZ & Tre Williams – The Battlefield
The second single from 36 Seasons, featuring two CRC-approved veterans of rap.
Pre-Order: Cole James Cash – Street Champion album
The newest project from Cole James Cash is the Street Champion album, which is themed around a certain iconic video game series. CJC has decided to go all out and plans to release this on CD and limited edition vinyl, so if you want to get a piece of the action check out his Kickstarter campaign and get yourself a copy locked in.
Pre-Order: Cole James Cash – Street Champion album
So far the album tracklist, features and themes are:
Stream: Ghostface Killah – 36 Seasons Snippet Mix
DJ 7L has put together a sampler of material from the new Ghostface album over production from The Revelations, Lil’ Fame and The 45 King, with a numver of guest spots from AZ and Kool G Rap. You can pre-order the exclusive Get On Down deluxe edition here.
Download: A Salute To The Mighty V.I.C
Photo: Alexander Richter
The Mighty V.I.C. has been a part of some great production teams over the years, as part of The Beatnuts, Groove Merchantz with Godfather Don and Ghetto Pros with Mike Heron, in addition to his own solo work as a producer and engineer. I recently uncovered an extensive interview I did with him which was left over from the short profile that ran in Hip-Hop Connection in December 2008. I’ll be dropping that in the next week or so, but in the meantime it inspired me to revisit some of his best moments behind the boards so far.
Download: A Salute To The Mighty V.I.C
Lord Finesse – The Unkut Interview
At long last, I got around to interviewing the great Lord Finesse officially. I’m also deep into completing the first proper book of Unkut interviews, so I’m saving the second half of this piece for print, along with a whole bunch of recent follow-up interviews that I’ve been doing. That being said, I didn’t want to hold back everything, so I had to drop a chunk this discussion with the Funkyman to keep your ears ringing until the print edition is released in early 2015. Lord Finesse needs no introduction, as he’s the man who built on the punchline foundations laid down by Big Daddy Kane and paved the way for the next generation of MC’s. We kicked it about his experiences with record labels, his love of the SP-1200, plans for the future and the and the infamously misunderstood Mac Miller lawsuit.
Robbie: Did you feel like you were prepared when you started making Funky Technician?
Lord Finesse: C’mon man, you can listen to that first album and it was dope, there was structure, but nobody was telling me, ‘You should do sixteen bars here, you should do sixteen bars there!’ I was rhyming forever on some of those records.
Nothing wrong with that!
[laughs] Most of that album was written while I was going to the studio or the day before. Some of it was freestyle stuff, but connecting it and doing it all together I had to write rhymes around some of the stuff and make ‘em songs. If you listen to the battle with me and Perc you’re hearing a nice amount of Funky Technician in that ‘89 battle.
So they were your stock battle rhymes?
When it’s time to make records you take ‘em and you re-craft them for the record.
Did any labels try to make you compromise your sound or image?
I didn’t even get that far. I went from Wild Pitch, which was a label with really no money and no promotion to take artists to the next level at the time, to being at a label with a lotta money. They got everything to take me to the next level, but they don’t understand who Finesse is as an artist! It’s like the popular gun that everybody’s talking about, you’ve gotta have the gun, not because you’re a shooter or you go to the gun range. You just want the gun because everybody else got the gun. Then when you get the gun, you don’t know nothing about the gun, you don’t know how to shoot it! You don’t know the mechanism’s of the gun so you kinda toss the gun to the side cos you don’t what you purchased! That’s how I feel when it comes to Giant. I’m there, but they don’t really know what they got! ‘This is the dude everybody was talking about! OK, we got him! Now what do we do with him?’
LL Cool J – Soul Survivor [Unreleased Original Version]
After speaking to Dr. Butcher again the other week, he revealed that he’d located a copy of the song he produced for LL Cool J in 1993, which went on to be remixed by QDIII and included on his fifth album, and generously agreed to allow me to share it with the world.
Dr. Butcher: I produced a song called ‘The Soul Survivor’ for him on the 14 Shots To The Dome album, with C4. Me and C4 – the guy who did [Akinyele’s] ‘Put It In Your Mouth’ – were production partners. I was going to C4’s house one day to work on some music, and LL was shooting his first video from that album on Farmer’s Boulevard, and C4 lived on Farmers Boulevard at the time. I got off the bus and saw him and I was like, ‘Yo! What’s up!’ We was always real cool, whenever he had time he would always come see me, but he had been so busy we hadn’t seen each other in a while. So he’s asking, ‘Where you going?’ and I’m like ‘To my production partner’s house right down the street’. When we originally did the track, we sampled JDL from the Cold Crush Brothers saying, ‘The L baby, baby, the L baby, baby!’That was the first song I ever produced, I didn’t know how to use machines at the time. We had just got an Ensoniq and was learning what to do. It was rough around the edges. As soon as he heard the track he just sat down, got a pen and pad and wrote the song right on the spot. He was like, ‘Yo, we’re goin’ to the studio tomorrow, gimme your information.’ So I had to go get attorney’s and set-up publishing companies and we were in the studio the next day, recording. It happened that fast.
Cold Crush 4 and Treacherous 3 at Harlem World, 1981
Every now and then it’s good to throw on a tape of rap of old school rap at it’s finest, and without a doubt two of the sharpest crews to ever do it where those led by Grandmaster Caz and Kool Moe Dee. These four snippets from Troy L. Smith‘s crates are a fine reminder of just how advanced KMD was in his prime (check for shots fired at Melle Mel) and the amusing banter of weary performers after a long night celebrating Easy-AD‘s birthday.
Video: Food Warriors – 145th Street
Dallas drops bars while Rafi keeps it CRC all day with his tucked shirt steez as the IC’s investigate grub up in Harlem.
Buckshot – The Unkut Mini Interview
Once again I found myself subjected to indignities of a press day, where you have ten or fifteen minutes allotted to talk to a rapper who has already bored themselves to death speaking to the twenty other jerks before you and some herb always messes up the schedule and as a result that fifteen minutes turns into less than ten. Just for laughs, I decided to stay on the line and laugh at the other shitty questions from the amateur journalists who followed me, while witnessing Buckshot get progressively more confusing the more he drank and/or smoked to make the whole process slightly less tedious for himself. Nevertheless, I still managed to get a couple of interesting jewels from the former Black Moon front man.
Robbie: What inspired you start making music?
Buckshot: My uncle David was a dancer, he was an entertainer and he made dancing a big influence on my life when I was a youngster. He was a dancer for a group called Mtume, they made a record called ‘Juicy.’ I saw him on TV and I felt like he achieved the ultimate impossible and one day I was going to do that and I would achieve the same impossible. I kept going and kept going and I kept dancing. I stopped dancing in 1990 and I became an MC at that point. I always wanted to be an MC but never thought that that was my path. I always thought that dancing was gonna be the way for me. When my MC got locked-up I felt like I had no choice but to continue what we started. When he got locked-up he was like, ‘Yo, keep it going!’ I was like, ‘How am I gonna keep it going? You know what? I’mma just start emceeing myself.’ That’s how I became an MC.
Record Labels Are Stupid
Remember how the music industry decided that vinyl was more trouble than it was worth and that the profit margins on tapes and CD’s were far more lucrative so they began cramming 70 minute albums onto one LP? The thing that really grinds my gears is that even when they did bother to press double vinyl, they would often neglect to include the best songs. Here are some notable examples: