Supar Novar – “These Waters” (Flip Life / 2010)
Taken from the London emcee’s forthcoming mix-CD “Man On Fire”.
Supar Novar – “These Waters” (Flip Life / 2010)
Taken from the London emcee’s forthcoming mix-CD “Man On Fire”.
Eternia & MoSS ft. Termanology & Reef The Lost Cauze – “At Last” (Fat Beats / 2010)
Taken from the forthcoming album “At Last”.
How can XXL magazine have just done a story about the lack of female emcees in the game when there’s material like this out there??!!
1991 interview with Strong Island’s Son Of Bazerk.
Lords Of The Underground’s Do-It-All presents the latest episode of his “On The Road” video blog to promote his new album “American Du”.
Pugs Atomz & Grant Parks – “Rocket Love” (Coalmine / 2010)
Taken from the forthcoming album “Kinda Like A Rapper”.
Producer Nick Wiz chops up some ill rock guitars in the latest episode of his “Beat In The Making” series – someone get M.O.P on the phone to jump on that beat quick!!! LOL
Venue: The Jazz Café, London Date: 17 May 2010
Whilst many in the rap world persistently talk about ‘keeping it real’, few have kept it realer than arguably Hip-Hop’s greatest ever producer, DJ Premier, a man whose trademark boom-bap sound has benefited many artists over the years, from underground acts such as NYGz and Smiley Da Ghetto Child, to marquee names like Jay-Z and Nas. Add to that six impeccable Gang Starr albums, and it’s clear that Preemo’s credentials are not to be questioned. Hell, even when pop princess Christina Aguilera tapped the Texas-born beat king to produce her “Back To Basics” project, Premier still managed to deliver the goods and walk away with his integrity firmly intact.
Anyone who’s witnessed a live DJ set from Premier will already know that it consists of approximately two hours of old-school Hip-Hop classics, breaks and, of course, a varied selection of the many bangers he’s helmed the production boards for. But tonight, Preemo was in London to do one thing and one thing only, and that was to celebrate the life and rhymes of his former Gang Starr partner, the late, great Guru.
With travel complications leading to Premier arriving onstage some thirty minutes late straight from jumping off the Eurostar, the golden-age icon wasted no time in getting down to business, much to relief of a sold-out Jazz Café (most of whom had been clock-watching and praying that the night’s main attraction was actually going to show).
With the loss of Guru and the subsequent drama surrounding his death still fresh in everyone’s minds, it was a visibly emotional Premier who told the crowd “This shit still hurts!” as he spoke of seeing his friend and recording partner in hospital. And whilst he didn’t refer to him by name, it was clear that Preemo was addressing Solar when he spoke passionately about “that fake motherfucker”. But before he allowed himself to dwell too heavily on the negative aspects of Guru’s passing, Premier pointed a finger towards the sky, yelling “Tonight is for my nigga, I love you Guru!” and unleashed the flawless Gang Starr classic “Above The Clouds”.
Proceeding to drop back-to-back sure shots from the Gang Starr catalogue, Premier interspersed his musical trip down memory lane with brief recollections of Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal and the duo’s early days, pausing only to put a young heckler in place who shouted a comment about Premier trying to be “hard”. “I’m not trying to be hard, youngster,” explained a vexed Preemo. “I’m real! There’s a big difference”.
Whilst the crowd greeted each track with shouts of approval, from the sublime “Jazz Thing” to the head-nod favourite “Mass Appeal”, you couldn’t help but wonder how many were pondering the sad fact that never again will we hear any new music born out of the undeniable chemistry shared between Guru and Premier.
If Preemo’s heartfelt performance taught those present anything, it was to celebrate the lives of our musical heroes whilst they’re still here to receive and enjoy the praise. R.I.P. Guru.
Xzibit ft. Kurupt & 40 Glocc – “Phenom” (Open Bar / 2010)
Taken from X-to-the-Z’s new album “MMX”.
Freestyle specialist Supernatural announces the line-up for 2010’s Rock The Bells event in his own inimitable way.
Consequence – “Life Is Short” (Show Off / 2010)
Taken from Cons’ mixtape “Movies On Demand” and Statik Selektah’s “100 Proof” album.
Download Diggin’ In The Crates affiliate Milano’s new mixtape here.
M-Dot – “No Money Down” (Commonwealth Records / 2010)
Taken from the compilation album “A Boston State Of Mind Vol. 2”.
Mysdiggi drops a dub-plate for UCMMA cage fighter Lee Wieczorek and WHOAH!TV.
Mystro’s new EP “Digmund Freud” will be released in August.
UK producer Skitz releases his new album “Sticksman” on June 8th featuring Task Force, Masta Ace, Rodney P, Iron Braydz etc – peep the 5-track sampler here.
Diamond District’s yU on IgnantWitted.Com talking about his new album “Before Taxes”.
In today’s world of watered-down rap, few artists are actually able to deliver that raw, gritty sound that so many longstanding Hip-Hop junkies still fiend for. Long Island, New York’s Roc Marciano, however, is one such artist who is more than capable of bringing the ruckus, with music that is so entrenched in the streets of the Rotten Apple you can almost smell the subways and hear the police sirens whilst listening to it.
Hailing from the location that gave us rap greats such as Public Enemy, EPMD and Rakim, the former member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad is fully aware of the Long Island legacy he’s carrying forward each time he touches a microphone. Having reached underground hero status as a member of the four-man crew The UN, whose 2004 album “UN Or U Out” was championed by the likes of Pete Rock and Q-Tip, Roc is now finally ready to leave his own individual dent on the game with the release of his first official solo project “Marcberg”.
Entirely self-produced and totally removed from any popular trends of the day, “Marcberg” is a heavy dose of basement boom-bap brilliance. It’s not that the album sounds like it was recorded during rap’s late-80s / early-90s golden-era, but rather that it feels like so much of the music that is cherished from that particular period in Hip-Hop history – honest, unique and uncompromising.
Here, Roc talks about the New York of his youth, producing his own material and the current status of The UN.
Your new solo album “Marcberg” has been out for a minute now and I’ve heard people saying it has a real cinematic feel to it and comparing it to Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” and Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…”. How do you feel about comparisons like that?
“It’s an honour! Those are classics, so it’s an honour to make a project that’s spoken of in the same vein as albums like those. I can only salute that. I mean, I used to write to those albums. People have said that “Marcberg” has a cinematic feel to it, but I really didn’t plan it that way. It’s just that when you’re doing an album that’s your first official solo LP, it’s all of your life built up from the beginning to now put into one project. So I think that’s part of the reason why people are saying it has a cinematic feel and it’s being compared to other albums like Jay and Raekwon’s first solo projects, because a lot of my life went into making this album.”
The album finds you taking the listener back to the Roc Marciano of the 90s – what inspired you to revisit that time and mind state?
“The days of albums like “Reasonable Doubt” and “Cuban Linx…” was my favourite era in rap and I always wanted to make my soundtrack to the streets that I never got a chance to actually do back then. I always wanted to make an album that represented those of us that were out there at that time hanging on the block, hustling and stuff like that. I wanted to make sure my music was something that brothers like that could play in the background and struggle to come up to.”
If the album had actually been recorded back then do you feel it would’ve been a similar project in terms of how it sounds?
“Nah, it wouldn’t have really been a similar album. It might’ve been similar in terms of my stories that I’m telling, but as far as production, no, because I wasn’t engulfed in the production side of music at that point in time. I mean, I’m still not fully engulfed in production now. People approach me for beats and tell me they like my production, but I don’t really make that many beats. I only make a beat if I need a track myself. I’m not like a typical producer who wakes up, turns on the beat machine and makes beats all day. I make beats because I need something to rap to.”
Describe the environment you were in during that early-to-mid 90s period?
“It was all about the come up and the struggle back in the days before New York became a police state. People travel to New York and are like ‘Damn! It’s not what we thought it was’ and they’re right, it’s not what it used to be. Dudes used to be able to just hang out on the corners, you could have your beer and the cops would just tell you to put a bag over it. You could walk around smoking blunts, people were getting robbed, brothers used to hustle, and the cops weren’t out there on every corner like they are today. You’d get your little money, go hang out on 125 late nights, it’d be packed out there like a car show. We had a real rich street culture back then, but now that New York’s become a police state it’s shaken that all apart. So I wanted to bring that era back with this album and bring listeners back to those days I loved the most.”
How do you feel that environment contributed to the vibe of New York Hip-Hop at the time?
“That’s an interesting question, how the culture of the time translated into the music. I would say it was just more organic and the music wasn’t all about the money yet. Back then we didn’t care whether our favourite rappers were rich, we just cared about the music being good. Nowadays people gauge artists on how good they are by their record sales and it wasn’t like that back in the day. It wasn’t about how much you sold, it was about how many people were playing the record. If cars were driving by playing your record, that had a massive impact on where you stood as an artist in the culture, not how many copies you sold. Now, a Vanilla Ice could even be respected if he was to come out as a new artist and move the units he moved back then.”
So do you feel the music lost some of that organic energy once artists started making a conscious effort to appeal to a wider audience outside of their surroundings?
“Definitely. It was all for the love back then and no-one was going into the studio thinking about making a platinum album and those who did go platinum were often surprised like, ‘Wow! People are buying it?” because they had no idea. When people are going into the studio trying to record a platinum record that takes away from the natural creativity. It was always a business but back in the day the business wasn’t something that the artist themselves would get involved in too much, they’d just make music. But now artists are making music as businessmen instead of just being creative. I have no problem with it as long as the music is good, which is something I always like to make clear as people try to put you in a box as an underground rapper like you’re anti-success.”
What artists were you listening to back then?
“Pretty much everything that Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito were playing on their radio show, that was where you heard all of the extra stuff that wasn’t really being promoted and all of the crazy freestyles, b-sides, stuff like that. But aside from that I’d say EPMD, Public Enemy, Nice & Smooth, Rakim, D.I.T.C., Main Source, Compton’s Most Wanted, N.W.A., Scarface, The Geto Boys. I’m a mixture of all of that stuff. To me that music represents a time in my life when I was finally at an age where I could hang out late. When those albums came out dudes in the crew were just starting to borrow their mother’s cars and those were the albums we’d ride around listening to (laughs).”
I’m guessing that everyone was really careful about not leaving their copy of the Geto Boys album for their mother to hear in the car stereo the next morning as she was leaving for work?
Nah, nah, that wasn’t going down. You couldn’t be leaving anything like that in the car (laughs). You couldn’t be having moms jump in the car and “Mr. Scarface” starts playing, y’know…”
That first Scarface album was a classic…
“He was that dude man. I always try to get that across too because people always used to talk about the segregation in rap back in the day, but to me there wasn’t no segregation because on the street we were listening to all of that West Coast and Southern stuff as well as the New York artists. Dudes were always saying New York cats were against the South and that we weren’t willing to accept the music coming from the West Coast when they started blowing up, but that was bullshit. Maybe some of the deejays and magazines on the East Coast fronted, but the niggas I fucked with on the streets, we drove around listening to “Straight Outta Compton” and stuff like that. That segregation stuff was all media and politics.”
You mentioned listening to Stretch & Bobbito – do you remember hearing any artists for the first time on their show or are there any particular freestyles that really stand out for you?
“I can’t really remember being introduced to anyone on Stretch & Bobbito because I kinda had my ear to the street so I knew about cats coming up at that time like Nas and people like that. But it was definitely the freestyles that I remember, like the Big L / Jay-Z freestyle, that was the big thing to hear artists on the mic in the studio. But if you were getting your record played on Stretch & Bobbito then you were definitely official in the streets.”
Did you go back and listen to a lot of that old music when you were recording the new album to help get yourself back in that zone?
“Nah, not really, because all of that stuff is just in me, I don’t need to go back and remind myself of it. Sometimes I might go back and listen to something like N.W.A.’s “Niggaz 4 Life” album or something aggressive like that if I feel my feet are dragging a little and I want to feel inspired to write. That was something I was doing more around the time of the U.N. album rather than the “Marcberg” project though.”
I remember when we spoke around the time the UN album dropped in 2004 and you were talking about how you felt uninspired with the rap game back then. Do you still feel that way now?
“I would say it hasn’t changed much, it’s just that now I can see a lane for the music that I’m making. At the time of the U.N. album it was like an all or nothing period in the game, like you were either trying to get on a major or you were staying independent and there wasn’t a lot of money to be made. When you get grown, money has to be made because we’re not kids anymore, we’ve got bills to pay. So it was difficult at the time to find motivation in something that wasn’t paying because I was trying to take care of myself and my family. It don’t matter how good you fuckin’ rap if you’re not eating. But now I’m seeing independent projects receiving a lot more sales than I was back then. I didn’t really see the value of independent records as much as I do now. But as far as the inspiration to do music, it can be hard to stay inspired when the music that’s out doesn’t inspire you. Back in the day you’d hear records for the first time, like Tribe’s “Scenario” remix, and feel like that was what you had to compete with as an artist and that was a real push as far as motivating you to deliver your best. But when the music that’s out doesn’t make you feel competitive then where do you draw the inspiration from?”
Given that 90s era artists such as O.C. & A.G., Buckshot, Raekwon and Sadat X have all dropped projects recently, do you feel like you’re competing against your peers again and, if so, does that give you any form of motivation?
“I never look at a Raekwon or an O.C. as competition because I’m fans of theirs. So I’m not really competing with them, it’s just that brothers like that inspire me when I see them still putting out good music. So that’s how I use the energy of seeing a Raekwon putting out a “Cuban Linx II” and still receiving the same level of respect as an artist as he did in the early 90s, y’know. It lets me know there’s a lane for artists from that era to still make music.”
You’ve worked with the likes of Pete Rock and Large Professor over the years but you’ve produced “Marcberg” yourself – what made you decide to do that?
“It’s for different reasons, really. For one, I always wanted to produce my own record and give myself that challenge. The music had to fit and really be life music, but it couldn’t just be music that would fit anybody’s life, it had to be music that would fit my life. So I felt like the production on the album was something that I had to take responsibility for because only I could identify the sounds that really connected with me. If I’d have given that responsibility to someone else then I don’t know how many beats I would’ve had to go through to get a project done. So that was the main reason, but then there was also the politics that come with recording an album with outside producers. There’s a lot of business stuff that has to be handled that I didn’t feel like going through with this “Marcberg” project.”
Is there a particular process you go through when making beats?
“The beats come first. It always starts off with the samples, that’s the beginning, and then I build around that. I go digging in different spots in Manhattan, but I really get it anyway I can, whether that be buying old records or finding stuff online as MP3s.”
There was a time when everyone and their mother seemed to be out there digging for breaks and samples, but that’s not so much the case nowadays. Is it an easier process now digging in stores as there are less people out there doing the same thing?
“I wouldn’t say it’s easier because although there might be less people out there doing it, that also means there’s less spots to go digging in because a lot of places have closed down. So it sometimes feels like all of the cats who still dig are all there in just one store (laughs). I mean I bumped into Showbiz a few times while I was out digging for samples for “Marcberg”. That’s actually how I met him as we didn’t know each other like that. Me and A.G. are cool as we’ve worked together, but I actually met Showbiz for the first time digging for records. I kept it real brief, let him know I’m a fan and that I respect the music and then asked him for some beats (laughs). But Showbiz definitely had seniority in the spot I saw him in because while we were all in there digging, they let Showbiz in the basement to dig through the stuff they hadn’t even put on the shelves yet. That’s why his beats sound the way they do (laughs).”
Are there any plans for a new UN album?
“The whole idea of the UN was for all of us to get in the game by doing a record together and then we were each going to do our own thing. But right now brothers are working day jobs, starting families, stuff like that, so that takes over from making music.”
What’s the thinking behind the upcoming “Marcberg Reloaded” project?
“I always want to give the fans as much as I can. I’m just generous (laughs). It’s like how I put out “Strength & Honour” on the tail of The UN’s “U N Or U Out” album, it’s just about putting out more songs and more new material. You can’t let up on these bums out there, y’know? The corny dudes are trying to outwork the nice niggas so you’ve gotta keep the pressure on.”
If the music game came to an end tomorrow what would you want people to remember you stood for as an artist?
“I would want people to say that I didn’t take away from the art and culture, but that I added onto it and helped keep it going. As long as people respect that and understand that I’m official then I’m good. It’s all about respect, strength and honour with me. I’m here to contribute to the art form and inspire others to do the same.”
Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence speaks to HipHopOfficial about his upcoming Rhymesayers project “Cats And Dogs”.
Terror Squad’s Armageddon drops a quick verse for the camera.
Download the new project from Bay Area emcee Lefty (Bash Bros) and North Carolina’s Tab One here.
1. The Youth Of America Intro
2. Indy / Tab One, Lefty [Prod By: Sinopsis of Kooley High]
3. New Ears, New Eyes / Lefty, Tab One
4. Smash 101 / Tab One, Lefty
5. Victory / Verbal Kent, Lefty & Oneself Davinci [Prod By: Mix]
6. Never Knew Me / Lefty [Prod By: Dextah]
7. Tell Us The Truth / Tab One [Prod By: Kash]
8. Something Called Grass Interlude
9. Sign Of The Times / Lefty, Tab One (Cuts By: DJ Icewater)
10. Ole / Tab One [Prod By: Sunshine J]
11. Street Walk / Lefty, Very & Tab One [Prod By: Style Misia]
12. Who’s Up Next / Lefty & Tab One feat. Bambu, Raashan Ahmad (Crown
City Rockers) & Charlie Smarts (Kooley High)
More Lupe on OkayplayerTV.