Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present: Bishop Lamont & Black Milk - Caltroit

Black Milk Presents-Caltroit
Label................: Music House
Genre................: Hip-Hop
StoreDate...........: Dec-24-2007
Source...............: CDDA
Size.................: 87,9 MB
Total Playing Time...: 75:06
01. Caltroit - Murder Hextro 02:16
02. Caltroit - Caltroit (feat. Indef & Chevy Jones) 03:31
03. Caltroit - On Top Now (feat. Stat Quo) 04:05
04. Caltroit - Inconvenient Truth 04:27
05. Caltroit - Bad Girl 03:59
06. Caltroit - Goatit (feat. Phat Kat & Elzhi) 05:33
07. Caltroit - Go Hard (feat. Rass Kass & Royce Da 5'9") 04:33
08. Caltroit - Mouth Music (feat. Guilty Simpson & Busta Rhymes) 05:27
09. Caltroit - Juggernauts (feat. Young Dre, Glasses Malone, & 40 Glocc) 04:16
10. Caltroit - 4 All My Niggaz (feat. Planet Asia, Mistah Fab, & Ya Boy) 04:43
11. Caltroit - I Need It (feat. Ras Kass) 04:07
12. Caltroit - Bang That Shit Out (feat. Diverse) 03:59
13. Caltroit - If You Ready (feat. T3, Illa J, & Kardinal Offishall) 04:55
14. Caltroit - Ape Shit 03:09
15. Caltroit - Everything (feat. Kardinal Offishall) 04:41
16. Caltroit - Not The Way (feat. Mike Ant) 03:49
17. Caltroit - Get Em (feat. Fattfather, Marv One, & Trick Trick) 03:23
18. Caltroit - Spectacular (feat. Busta Rhymes, Illa J, & Frank Nitty) 04:13

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present: Saigon - The Moral Of The Story

Title [The Moral Of The Story]
Artist [Saigon]
Label [Fort Knocks Ent.]
Genre [Hip-Hop]
Quality/Size [44.1 @VBR 56,9 MB]
Ripped [12-14-2007 ]
Grabbed from [CDDA]
Enc [Lame 3.97 V2 ]
01 04:06 Saigon Ft. Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz - Come On Baby (Remix)
02 03:44 Saigon Ft. Tre Williams - What A Life
03 02:53 Saigon - The South, The West, The East Coast
04 02:11 Saigon - Saigon Meets Just Blaze
05 03:05 Saigon - Get Mine and Go
06 03:27 Saigon - Wake Up
07 04:08 Saigon - In A Mess
08 03:03 Saigon - I Know
09 04:00 Saigon Ft. Al B Sure - Homegirl
10 01:53 Saigon Ft. Grand Puba - Who Can Get Busy
11 03:54 Saigon - Anybody Can Get It
12 02:38 Saigon - How We Get Down
13 03:13 Saigon Ft. Memphis Bleek - Ryders
14 03:53 Saigon Ft. Obie Trice - Wanna Know
15 01:36 Saigon - Rap and Bullshit Part 2
16 03:21 Saigon Ft. Jovan Dais - Reason Season Lifetime
17 01:10 Saigon - Just Blaze Speaks
This Bootleq is damn hot...grab that urgently!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Cyrus Tha Great" Presents: Film Skool Rejekts

1. Cyrus Speaks (Intro)
2. Rappin’ On Acid (I’m Eat-Ting Food) (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
3. Pow Pow (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
4. No! (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
5. Websters (Prod. By J Dilla)
6. Cyrus Talks MIXTAPES (Skit)
7. Cyber Punk (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
8. 3 Wisemen (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
10. F.S Carry The R (Teaser Snippet) (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
11. Sickfit (Prod. By Madlib)
12. Walk With Us (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
13. Words from L.A. (skit)
14. Big Binoculars (Prod. By Dr.Dre)
15. Cyrus Says NO! 2 Drugs (Skits)
16. Montega (Prod. Cyrus Tha Great)
17. Fake Friends (featuring CRISIS) (Teaser Snippet) (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
18. The Real (DJ Prince and Sheen Philips) (Prod. By Majestic)
19. The Champ (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
20. New Machines (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
21. Daytona 2008 (Prod. By RZA)
22. Timbz and Hoodies (Prod. by Cyrus Tha Great)
23. Radio Homicide (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
24. Sheen Philips WSHA 88.9 promo
25. WSHA 88.9 Freestyle (Sheen Philips and DJ Prince)
26. Time Freezer (Teaser Snippet) (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
27. NJ/Mass State Of Mind (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
28. Church (Prod. By Cyrus Tha Great)
29. Cyrus leaves (Outro)

Yaw yaw yaw...pay attention 4 this hot mixtape...big ups 2 Cyrus, dawg ur great 4 real...yall have 2 grab this and hit the props with your comments...show sum respect!

As Salaam Aleikum!


Monday, December 10, 2007

MC Lyte

MC Lyte was one of the first female rappers to point out the sexism and misogyny that often runs rampant in hip-hop, often taking the subject head on lyrically in her songs and helping open the door for such future artists as Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Lyte began rhyming at the age of 12, which eventually led to a single, "I Cram to Understand U," which led to a recording contract with the First Priority label. MC Lyte's debut full-length, Lyte As a Rock, surfaced in 1988, while a follow-up, Eyes on This, followed a year later. Both discs are considered to be the finest of the rapper's career, especially her sophomore effort, which spawned the hit single "Cha Cha Cha" (peaking at number one on the rap charts) and the anti-violence track "Cappucino." Lyte turned to Bell Biv DeVoe's writers and producers Wolf & Epic for her third release overall, 1991's Act Like You Know, a more soul music-based work than its predecessors and in 1993, issued Ain't No Other (the album's popular single, "Ruffneck," earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Single and turned out to be the first gold single ever achieved by a female rap artist). By the mid-'90s, Lyte had relocated to a new record label, Elektra/Asylum, issuing such further releases as 1996's Bad As I Wanna B, which featured a duet with Missy Elliott on the track "Cold Rock a Party," and 1998's Seven & Seven, which included further guest appearances by Elliott, as well as Giovanni Salah and LL Cool J, the latter of which produced the track "Play Girls Play." In addition to her own albums, MC Lyte has teamed with other artists from time to time, including Atlanta's Xscape on the Soul Train Award-winning "Keep on Keepin' On" (a track that also appeared on the Sunset Park soundtrack and became Lyte's second gold single), and has tried acting, appearing on several TV shows, including such comedies as Moesha and In the House, plus the crime drama New York Undercover. Lyte has also put aside time to become active in several social projects/organizations, including anti-violence campaigns, Rock the Vote, and AIDS benefits. In 2001, Rhino Records issued the 16-track career overview The Very Best of MC Lyte. Lyte then mounted a comeback in 2003 with Da Undaground Heat,Vol. 1.

In the earliest years of the hip-hop game, women were quite frequently overlooked until a new breed of female lyricist came along and gave the proverbial middle finger to a male-dominated game. MC Lyte's debut ushered in the era of the female MC -- confident, brazen, and not afraid to put male MCs in their misogynist place without flinching. The album starts off with a rather slow introduction before kicking things into high gear with the now classic title track, which put Lyte in the center of a media frenzy. With Lyte reasserting her femininity over and over again without compromising production quality or lyric delivery, Lyte as a Rock has aged better than most records that came out during hip-hop's formative years, although at certain moments it has become dated since its release. But what has aged is more than compensated by the classic tunes and the disc's potent historical impact on a generation of women MCs. A classic.

MC Lyte - Eyes on This (1989: First Priority)
A rapper with considerable technique and a fine sense of humor, Lyte was one of the most highly regarded female MCs of the late '80s and early '90s -- especially on the East Coast. Eyes on This, the Brooklyn native's second album, tends to be one-dimensional lyrically -- she spends too much time bragging about how superior her rapping skills are and how inept sucker MCs are. Though it's hard not to admire the technique and strong chops she displays on such boasting fare as "Shut the Eff Up! (Hoe)" -- a an attack on Lyte's nemesis Antoinette -- and "Slave 2 the Rhythm," she's at her best when telling some type of meaningful story. Undeniably, the CD's standout track is "Cappucino," an imaginative gem in which Lyte stops by a Manhattan cafe and gets caught in the crossfire of rival drug dealers. In the afterlife, she asks herself: "Why, oh why, did I need cappucino?" Were everything on the album in a class with "Cappucino," it would have been an outstanding album instead of simply a good one.

MC Lyte - Act Like You Know (Sep 17, 1991: First Priority)
Though highly respected in rap's hardcore, MC Lyte was never a platinum seller. Atlantic Records no doubt encouraged her to be more commercial on her third album, Act like You Know — a generally softer, more melodic and often R&B-ish effort than either of her first two LPs. But even so, the album is far from a sellout — Lyte's music still has plenty of bite, substance and integrity. Like before, she's at her best when telling some type of story instead of simply boasting about her rapping skills. Especially riveting are "Eyes Are the Soul" (a poignant reflection on the destruction caused by crack cocaine), "Lola at the Copa" (a warning about how a one-night-stand can lead to AIDS); and "Poor Georgie," which describes a young man's life and death in the fast lane. Lyte's change of direction proved to be short-lived — with her next album, Ain't No Other, she returned to hardcore rap in a big way.

MC Lyte - Aint No Other (1993; First Priority)
Whenever a hardcore rapper becomes more commercial, hip-hop's hardcore is likely to cry "sellout." That's exactly what happened to MC Lyte when she increased her R&B/pop appeal with 1991's Act Like You Know. The album wasn't without grit or integrity and even had some strong sociopolitical numbers, but hip-hop purists can be every bit as rigid as jazz purists — and they tend to be wary of any attempt to cross over. So in 1993, Lyte ditched the pop elements and emphasized hardcore rap on Ain't No Other. The song that did the most to define the album was "Ruffneck," a catchy, inspired single that found Lyte expressing her preference for ragamuffin street kids from the inner city. "Ruffneck" expressed Lyte's allegiance to hip-hop's hardcore, and she's equally rugged and hard-edged on tunes like "Fuck that Motherfucking Bullshit," "Hard Copy," and "Brooklyn." As a bonus track, First Priority includes a remix of "I Cram to Understand U," the song that had put Lyte on the map in 1987. Not earth-shattering but generally decent, Ain't No Other will appeal to those who prefer Lyte's more hardcore side.

MC Lyte - Bad as I Wanna B (Aug 27, 1996; East West)
MC Lyte's Bad As I Wanna B suffers from stilted production, conventional musical ideas and over-reaching lyrics. It is clear that MC Lyte wants to restore the luster to her career, but she is not sure how. So, she surrounds herself with top-flight producers, who such away the passion from her music. Sure, there's a couple of good hooks and funky beats on Bad As I Wanna B, but for the most part, it's lacking in soul.

MC Lyte - Seven & Seven (Aug 18, 1998; East West)
Ten years after releasing her first album, MC Lyte delivered Seven & Seven, her sixth album. During that time, Lyte remained remarkably unchanged, and Seven & Seven proves to be startlingly similar to the slick, R&B-influenced hip-hop she's been turning out since Lyte as a Rock. At times, that's not too bad, but the album's exhausting 77-minute running length makes the similarity of the material a little numbing. There are good songs buried in the album, to be sure — it just takes too much time to dig them out.

MC Lyte - Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1 (Mar 18, 2003; IMusic)
Four and a half years after parting ways with EastWest (a subsidiary of major label Warner) in the wake of the commercial disappointment of her last album, Seven & Seven, MC Lyte, at the advanced age of 31, attempts a comeback with Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1. Pacting with the production team Maad Phunk!, she benefits from contemporary-sounding beats and gimmicks. But her own rap approach remains determinedly old school. She is still relentlessly self-congratulatory, praising and mythologizing herself in a style reminiscent of her 1980s origins. An obnoxious, repetitive bit finds her listening to answering-machine messages from various peers delivering eulogies to her. The best and most unusual track is "Boy Like That," which uses a sample of the song by the same name from West Side Story. But for the most part, Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1, for all its claims to be an update and return to form, is a throwback from an artist unable to keep up with the fast-moving trends in hip-hop.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hi-Tek - Hi-Teknology 3

Title [Hi-Teknology 3]
Artist [Hi-Tek]
Label [Babygrande]
Genre [Hip-Hop]
Quality/Size [44.1 @VBR 69,2 MB]
Ripped [11-29-2007]
Grabbed from [CDDA]
Enc [Lame 3.97]
01 01:12 Tek Intro
02 04:37 Life To Me Ft. Estelle
03 00:43 Interlude Ft. Lil Tone
04 04:07 My Piano Ft. Ghostface, Raekwon And Dion
05 02:34 Gods Plan Ft. Young Buck And Outlaws
06 04:33 Ohio All Stars Ft Cross, Showtime, Mann And ChipThe Rippa
07 04:28 Back On The Grind Ft Riz, Sean Kingston And Dion
08 03:54 Im Back Ft. Rem Dog
09 03:22 Kill You Ft. Push Montana
10 03:57 Handling My Bizness Ft. Lep, Count, Big D And M-1Of Dead Prez
11 03:40 Come Get It (Tekstrumentals)
12 03:49 Step Ya Game Up (Remix) Ft. Dion And Little Brother
13 05:19 Know Me Ft. Jonell
14 04:39 Time Ft. Talib Kweli And Dion
15 01:09 Outtro15 52:03 min

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Hip-Hop can be dead if Wu-Tang is Forever?

The album's title is derived from the Kung Fu film Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter. The Clan, which has not released an album since 2001's Iron Flag, signed a one-album deal with Steve Rifkind's SRC Records in December 2006. The group's four previous albums were all released on Rifkind's now-defunct Loud Records. On Sunday, August 5, 2007, at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, RZA announced that the new release date for the album will be November 13, 2007, noting that this is the third anniversary of the death of Ol' Dirty Bastard. However, the date has now been pushed back to December 11, 2007. In a released statement, group leader RZA commented on the need for the Clan's return:“ This is the perfect time for us to come back; the stars are aligned. It's like when we first started with Steve. We put out real hip-hop at a time when it was turning into pop or R&B. We brought the focus back to the music in its rawest form, without studio polish or radio hooks.... People want something that gives them an adrenaline rush. We're here to supply that fix. How could hip-hop be dead if Wu-Tang is forever? We're here to revive the spirit and the economics and bring in a wave of energy that has lately dissipated".Cappadonna mentioned at the public premiere of Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang in NYC some new news regarding the album. He said that the Clan already recorded about 40 to 50 songs, but that the new album will only have about 14 tracks. Loud.com have released a free 8 Diagrams mixtape containing exclusive and unreleased tracks. The mixtape includes new 8 Diagrams songs "Thug World", "Life Changes", "Stick Me For My Riches" and "Weak Spot".

ARTiST.......: ghostface killah
ALBUM........: the big doe rehab
GENRE........: rap
TRACKS...: 16
RELEASE DATE.: 11/28/2007
SiZE.....: 64,4 MB
YEAR.........: 2007
SOURCE...: cdda
LABEL........: n/a
PLAYTiME.: 50:04 min
QUALiTY......: VBRkbps / 44,1kHz / joint-stereo
01. at the cabana (skit) 01:13
02. toney sigel a.k.a. the barrel brothers 03:02
03. 3. yolanda's house (feat. raekwon & method man) 03:12
04. we celebrate (feat. kid capri) 04:13
05. walk around 03:32
06. yapp city (feat. trife da god & sun god) 03:44
07. white linen affair (toney awards) 04:07
08. supa gfk 03:39
09. rec-room therapy (feat. raekwon & u-god) 03:14
10. the prayer (performed by ox) 01:24
11. i'll die for you 03:07
12. paisley darts 05:36
13. shakey dog starring lolita (feat. raekwon) 03:09
14. ! 00:37
15. killa lipstick 03:39
16. slow down (feat. chrisette michele) 02:36(bonus track)

Styles P - Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman)
Label................: The Phantom Ent. / KoCH
Genre................: Rap
StoreDate...........: Dec-04-2007
Source...............: CDDA
Size.................: 70,1 MB
Total Playing Time...: 57:53
01. Intro 00:42
02. Blow Ya Mind (feat. Swizz Beatz) 03:34
03. Let's Go (feat. Ray J) 03:46
04. Alone In The Streets 03:43
05. In It To Win It (feat. Bully) 04:30
06. All I Know Is Pain (feat. The Alchemist) 03:44
07. Got My Eyes On You (feat. Akon) 03:53
08. Green Piece Of Paper 03:39
09. Holiday (feat. Max B) 02:57
10. Look @ Her 02:47
11. Da 80's 02:38
12. Inerlude 1 (feat. Comedian Tony Roberts) 01:06
13. Shoot Niggas (feat. Raw Buck) 03:44
14. Super Gangster 02:53
15. Star Of The State (feat. Ghostface Killah) 03:28
16. U Ain't Ready (feat. Beanie Sigel) 03:01
17. Interlude 2 (feat. Comedian Tony Roberts) 00:38
18. Gangster, Gangster (feat. Jadakiss & Sheek Louch) 04:04
19. Cause I'm Black (feat. Black Thought) 03:06

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another Muslim for yall mind Freeeeway!

Almost five years after releasing a near-classic rap debut, Freeway finally gets his second shot, and there’s some unsurprisingly frank talk about his surroundings not being identical. Since Philadelphia Freeway’s early 2003 release, there was the Damon Dash/Jay-Z Roc-A-Fella rift, so Free addresses that, despite it being old news. He was, after all, caught in the middle and did not switch labels. The issue is brought up in “It’s Over,” which could be the first track to mention the producer not responsible for its beat; in fact, both Just Blaze (who produced ten Philadelphia Freeway tracks) and Kanye West (who chipped in with two) are saltily put on blast for either not getting back or being too busy. Throw in a deepened relationship with 50 “Somewhat Responsible for Mobb Deep’s Blood Money” Cent, who replaces Dash’s role as co-executive producer, as well as what could be perceived as an enthusiasm shortage on the part of the Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam family, and Free at Last has all the makings of a disappointment — a release destined to slide off everyone’s radar within a couple weeks of release. “Oh, yeah, Freeway eventually put out that second album… uh, Free Again, or something?”
The album is not the least bit deserving of that fate. Even with the amount of expectation-lowering context heavy on the mind, Free at Last sounds like a very strong follow-up. Apart from the 50 feature “Take It to the Top,” with a light and frilly production that is absolutely the worst fit for Free’s gruff and pop-unfriendly voice, there are no obvious points of weakness — unless, of course, Free’s lack of vocal versatility is something to gripe about. His “boa constrictor flow” (his words) can still be taxing (or even immediately off-putting to some ears) across the course of an album, almost always requiring a forceful/bombastic production to be effective, and it is apparent that Nice & Smooth would consider him an automatic lost cause for their MC’ing class. But his intelligible grunts and rasps are just as commanding and riveting as any other MC’s best mode. With a pilgrimage to Mecca also in his recent past, the dichotomy between his threat/boast-based rhymes and more introspective side is greater than it was on Philadelphia Freeway, and it isn’t at the expense of toughness — take, for instance, “I will squeeze and leave your spleen on the outside.” He is a sharper, more vivid lyricist, and it can also be sensed that he has done everything in his power to make up for all that lost time. And it must be said that his as-common-as-ever exultations of “Early!” — practically a tic at this point — are more perplexing and amusing than ever.

Go & Get It!!!

01 03:44 This Can't Be Real (featuring Marsha Ambrosius)

02 03:40 It's Over
03 03:45 Still Got Love
04 03:41 Roc-A-Fella Billionaires (featuring Jay-Z)
05 03:43 When They Remember
06 03:42 Take It To The Top (featuring 50 Cent)
07 03:43 Spit That Shit
08 03:59 Reppin' The Streets
09 03:38 Free At Last
10 03:27 Baby Don't Do It (featuring Scarface)
11 02:55 Nuttin' On Me
12 04:06 Walk Wit Me (featuring Busta Rhymes & Jadakiss)
13 03:43 Lights Get Low (featuring Rick Ross)14 03:11 I Cry

You heard him Go & Get It!
Support the artists!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wu-Tang Clan - 8 Diagrams Mixtape...Guess Whos Back!?

01 - Intro (Featuring Method Man)
02 - Watch Your Mouf (Wu-Tang Exclusive)
03 - State of Grace (Raekwon Exclusive)
04 - Break that Break (Unreleased)
05 - Wu Banga 101 Remix (Unreleased)
06 - My Corner (Raekwon Exclusive)
07 - Stick Me 4 My Riches (Wu-Tang Exclusive)
08 - Thug World (Wu-Tang Exclusive)
09 - Maxine Remix (Unreleased)
10 - King Toast Queen (Unreleased)
11 - Strawberries & Cream Remix
12 - Weak Spot (Wu-Tang Exclusive)
13 - Intoxicated (Featuring Macy Gray) (ODB Exclusive)
14 - Crooklyn Dodgers (Ghostface Exclusive)
15 - The W Remix (Unreleased)
16 - Real Nillaz
17 - Ghost Is Back
18 - Don't Go Breaking My Heart (ODB Featuring Macy Gray)
19 - Violent Skit
20 - Life Changes (Wu-Tang Exclusive)
21 - Treez (Unreleased)
22 - The Abduction
23 - John 3:16
24 - Good
25 - Da Destroyer (Raekwon Freestyle)
26 - Iron God Chamber
27 - 4:20
28 - Wise (Unreleased)
29 - Presidential MC

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Little Brother - Get Back (2007)

Little Brother - Get Back
Label................: ABB
Genre................: Hip-Hop
Store Date...........: Oct-23-2007
Source...............: CDDA
Size.................: 58,5 MB

01. Sirens (feat. Carlitta Durand) 04:12
02. Can't Win For Losing 04:20
03. Breakin My Heart (feat. Lil' Wayne) 04:28
04. Good Clothes 04:39
05. After The Party (feat. Carlitta Durand) 04:53
06. Extrahard 04:09
07. Step It Up (feat. Dion) 03:30
08. Two Step Blues (feat. Darien Brockington) 03:42
09. That Ain't Love (feat. Jozeemo) 04:24
10. Dreams 03:47
11. When Everything Is New 06:33

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cali Agents (Rasco & Planet Asia)

Cali Agents are American rap group from California made up of rappers Rasco and Planet Asia.Bringing together the talents of respected West Coast solo rappers Rasco and Planet Asia, both of whom had piled up music awards and critical praise within the hip-hop community, Cali Agents issued their debut album in 2000 with How the West Was Won. The recording, which reflected influences from both coasts, combined the strength of Rasco's powerful delivery with the fluid lyrics of Planet Asia.


Rasco and Planet Asia, two West Coast MCs who had enjoyed mildly successful and well-respected solo careers, joined forces in 2000 to produce a group much stronger than the sum of its parts. Their individual releases, although technically sound, had been a bit monotonous at times, but as a tag team duo they complement each other perfectly. Rasco plays the part of the grumpy, serious old veteran, scolding those he doesn't approve of, while Planet Asia personifies the younger, wilder side, playing off his partner to include some fun in the mix. Together with a diverse lineup of producers, they create an incredibly simple yet effective sound, combining hard drumbeats with a violin, piano, or guitar sample in a formula heavily influenced by Gang Starr's DJ Premier. Lyrically, the duo tiptoes between pleasing an underground audience highly suspicious of the mainstream and attempting to make a living and enjoy success. Planet Asia sums up the group's approach on "This Is My Life," rhyming, "Not only do we rock fresh gear, but when it comes to hip-hop we're like a breath of fresh air, like yeah!/And just to let y'all side busters know, we rep the underground but still we're out to make dough." Cali Agents craft a surprising debut that strikes a balance between different hip-hop crowds, East and West Coast, underground and above, but manage to maintain their artistic integrity.



A long-anticipated yet under-the-radar late-2006 release, the Cali Agents' follow-up to their excellent 2000 debut, How the West Was One, presents more decidedly dark, East Coast-flavored production over Rasco and Planet Asia's West Coast flow. Despite its lack of much press, Fire & Ice is a pretty good record, showing off the two MCs' skills on tracks like "The Science," "Bang," and the Stones Throw-esque sounding "Something New." Though California's mainstream hip-hop scene has been lacking some in the past few years, the underground has been very strong and has produced a lot of notable, important artists (Jurassic 5, Madlib, Blackalicious, Del, Ras Kass, just to name a few), and both rappers here have had impressive solo careers. And their collaboration as Cali Agents just shows how strong they, and the West Coast, really are.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Boot Camp Clik

Boot Camp Clik is a loose congregation featuring similar-minded underground hardcore rappers like Originoo Gunn Clapaz, Cocoa Brovaz, Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah, Bucktown Juveniles, Jahdan, and Illa Noyz, all of whom are concerned about keeping the music real and on a street level. That meant much of the music on their debut, For the People, sounded a little similar; still, this is the very thing that makes Boot Camp Clik appealing to a certain audience. Their second record, The Chosen Few, appeared in 2002, and other followed: The Last Stand (2006), Still for the People (2007), and Casualties of War (2007).
Boot Camp Clik is an American hip hop supergroup from Brooklyn, New York. The group consists of Buckshot (of Black Moon), Smif-N-Wessun, also known as Cocoa Brovaz (Tek and Steele), Heltah Skeltah (Rock and Ruck, aka Sean Price) and O.G.C. (Originoo Gunn Clappaz) (Starang Wondah, Top Dog, and Louieville Sluggah). Though commercial success has largely eluded them, the Camp has gained a large following in the underground rap community. Principally known for their hardcore content, in their later years the group also began adding personal and socially conscious aspects to their lyrics, and were among the first rap acts to infuse elements of Reggae into their music. Buckshot, along with Black Moon, also helped establish the backpacker scene in underground hip hop. The Camp reached the height of their popularity in the mid-90s, with the release of four acclaimed albums, Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, Smif-N-Wessun's Dah Shinin', Heltah Skeltah's Nocturnal, and O.G.C.'s Da Storm. These albums spawned a number of underground rap hits, most notably Black Moon's "Who Got Da Props?" and "I Got Cha Opin (Remix)", Smif-N-Wessun's "Bucktown", "Sound Bwoy Bureill", and "Wrekonize", Heltah Skeltah's "Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka", "Letha Brainz Blo" and "Operation Lock Down", and O.G.C.'s "No Fear", "Hurricane Starang", and "Danjer". Despite the acclaim of the albums and the minor success of the singles, no Boot Camp affiliated release was able to reach Gold sales status. Following the lukewarm reception for the Camp's first group album For the People, the crew's popularity began declining, eventually leading to a lengthy hiatus from the rap game. Since returning independently in 2002, the Camp has been able to regain their past popularity in underground hip hop with a number of acclaimed underground releases. Since their inception, the Boot Camp has spawned a number of affiliates. The group's earliest affiliate is the production-crew Da Beatminerz, lead by Black Moon's DJ Evil Dee and his older brother Mr. Walt. Da Beatminerz originally produced the majority of the Camp's work, but since 1997, they have taken a backseat to a number of outside producers. Other affiliates include rappers the Representativz (consisting of Supreme and Lidu Rock, the younger brother of Heltah Skeltah's Rock), Illa Noyz (the younger brother of Heltah Skeltah's Sean Price), M.S., LS, BJ Swan, The BTJ's (Bucktown Juveniles), Rustee Juxx, Doc Holiday, Thunderfoot and Lil' Hardcore, Reggae-vocalists Jahdan and Twanie Ranks and R&B-vocalist group F.L.O.W. Though Black Moon is closely connected to the group, members DJ Evil Dee and 5ft are not official members of the Boot Camp Clik.


The Boot Camp Clik is a bit like a low-rent Wu-Tang Clan. Instead of establishing themselves as a crew before recording an album together, the rappers -- including Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun and OGC -- each made solo albums and reunited in 1997 to make For the People. Happily, the group used the opportunity wisely, deciding to forge ahead to new sonic territory. Leaving gangsta rap and standard funk behind as the group abandons their production crew Da Beatminerz, the Boot Camp Clik has created an appealingly off-kilter sound that relies equally on wobbly rhythms, old-school synths and acoustic instruments. There are times that the mix is too dense, particularly when the group tries to get slow and soulful, but For the People is the best thing anyone in the Boot Camp Clik has yet produced.
Five years after their first full-length, Boot Camp Clik came together again with an LP that finally delivered on the promise that'd kept hip-hop fans hoping for an album to rank with incredible singles from the collective like Black Moon's "How Many Emcees" and Smif-N-Wessun's boot-camp anthem "Bucktown." Featuring the combined talents of members of Black Moon and Cocoa Brovaz (the reincarnated Smif-N-Wessun), plus Originoo Gun Clappaz, The Chosen Few is one of the tightest rap albums of the year. Better yet, it succeeds by keeping it simple: the production, the beats, and the themes -- nearly everything except the rapping. The productions come from a parade of family members (da Beatminerz, Hi-Tek, Coptic) with nothing to prove on their own, instead simply concentrating on constructing tough beats and kinetic tracks. The crew set it off with a pair of openers, "And So" and "Let's Get Down 2 Bizness," that top anything heard on 1997's For the People. From there, Boot Camp Clik cycle through everything that fans could've asked for; a crazy party track ("That's Tough [Little Bit]"), a classic beat-down on "Whoop His Ass," and a rough-and-rugged "Bucktown" sequel ("Welcome to Bucktown U.S.A."). Considering nearly all of them have their own projects on the front burner, it may be awhile for another full LP from Boot Camp Clik, but the collective have left listeners with plenty to keep them happy.

The Last Stand is the third group album from Hip Hop collective Boot Camp Clik, released on July 18, 2006. The group consists of Black Moon's Buckshot, Smif-N-Wessun's Tek and Steele, Heltah Skeltah's Rock and Sean Price, and O.G.C.'s Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah and Top Dog. The album marks the return of Rock, who had left Duck Down Records in 1999 to pursue a solo career.
Popular producers involved in the project include Pete Rock, Da Beatminerz, 9th Wonder and Large Professor.
The first track released from the project was "Trading Places", which was also the first music video from the album. The first official single released was "Yeah", which features "Trading Places" and "Let's Go" as the B-Side.



Casualties of War is a continuation of the productivity that East Coast underground rap favorites Boot Camp Clik sparked in 2005, when they released a rash of high-quality solo projects (Sean Price's Monkey Barz, Buckshot's Chemistry, Smif-N-Wessun's Reloaded) on Duck Down Records, followed by a couple collective efforts, The Last Stand (2006) and Still for the People (2007). Casualties of War is comparable to recent efforts by the Boot Camp Clik, be they solo or collective: rugged rappers rhyming over hard-hitting beats with simple hooks, without any commercial gloss whatsoever -- no marquee-name guests, nor any hitmaking producers. Whereas The Last Stand had boasted production by classic N.Y.C. beatmakers Da Beatminerz, Pete Rock, and Large Professor, Casualties of War lists a more modest roster: 9th Wonder ("I Need More") and Marco Polo ("My World," "I Want Mine") are the most notable producers on tap this go-round, along with Coptic and Dan the Man, who get multiple credits each. The highlights of Casualties of War come during a standout four-track run that includes "What You See," "BK All Day," "My World," and "I Need More," though the album never hits a dull stretch, wrapping up after a solid 14 tracks in 45 minutes. The title track is another noteworthy highlight, graced with a heartfelt production by Marvel. Casualties of War is another respectable effort from the Boot Camp Clik, one that bodes well for the future of the collective. A dozen years after the founding of Duck Down Records, Buckshot, Sean Price, Tek, Steele, and company seem to have lost very little of their hip-hop spirit. If anything, they've grown into seasoned professionals enjoying a good, steady grind at this moment in time.

This compilation from the Crooklyn warrior b-boy crew known as Boot Camp Clik contains a cross section of the posse's hits. BCC brought a military attitude and a rough, rumbling sound to the hip-hop table. The sound and feel is the essence of the Boot Camp, largely provided by the production team, the Beatminerz. Two members of the production squad, DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt, deployed missile-type beats with a signature bone-snapping snare. On the microphone, Boot Camp soldiers possess the kamikaze philosophy of infantrymen and the skills and wit of generals. Beats and flows are fashioned by the notion of Brooklyn as a treacherous abyss of warfare and gunplay, a proving ground for mental and physical toughness. Black Moon was the first out the gate with the 1993 release of Enta da Stage, an underground favorite that found mild commercial success with the remix of "I Gotcha Opin," which lifted Barry White's "Playing Your Game, Baby" effortlessly. Enta da Stage introduced the focal member and mastermind of the crew, Buckshot the B.D.I. In late 1993, the next battalion, Smif N' Wessun (later incarnated as the Cocoa Brovaz), dropped "Bucktown," the anthem for the Camp, and their blistering debut, Dah Shining, followed shortly thereafter in 1994. Heltah Skeltah and O.G.C. teamed up as the Fab Five in 1995 with "Lefleur Leflah" to take BCC into a newer, funkier direction. These two platoons followed in the footsteps of their Boot Camp predecessors laying further claim to the Brooklyn battlefield. Heltah Skeltah's debut Nocturnal and O.G.C.'s debut Da Storm took the Boot Camp back to the basement. With the heartbeat of Brooklyn beating within them, BCC is a unified collective that invented a rugged sound.

Special Request!

Guerilla Black - God Bless The Child
Label..........: n/a
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Rap
Size...........: 51,1 MB
Rip Date.......: Sep-15-2007
Artist Info....: n/a
Release Date...: Sep-18-2007
Quality........: LAME 3.97 V2

01. Genesis 02:24
02. Thank You (God Bless The Child) (feat. Janet) 04:37
03. The Streets (feat. Chris Jones) 04:34
04. Whatever 03:58
05. She Wanna Baller 03:13
06. Put Yo Hands Up 03:26
07. I Know 04:14
08. The Life (feat. Lejohn) 03:30
09. U Do U 04:05
10. Pour Me A Drank 03:08
11. Round & Round 04:06
12. Revalations 02:24

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bahamadia (Antonia Reed)

Bahamadia rose to prominence on the hip-hop scene as the female protégée of Gang Starr's Guru, and lent her smooth-flowing raps to a variety of projects during the late '90s, including several electronica and acid jazz artists. Born Antonia Reed in Philadelphia, Bahamadia started out DJing at local house parties in the early to mid-'80s, and soon stepped out front to prove her skill on the mic as well. She remained a presence on the Philly hip-hop scene, but didn't make her first recordings until hooking up with producer/radio personality DJ Ran, who helmed her independent 1993 single "Funk Vibe." "Funk Vibe" caught the attention of Gang Starr MC Guru, who took an interest in Bahamadia's career and helped her get a record deal with Chrysalis. Her first singles, 1994's "Total Wreck" and 1995's "Uknowhowwedu," were well-received in the underground for their jazzy flavor and laid-back raps. She also appeared on the second volume of Guru's acclaimed Jazzmatazz project. The full-length LP Kollage followed in 1996, and featured production by both Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, as well as fellow Philly natives the Roots.Unfortunately, Chrysalis folded a year later, and Bahamadia chose to wait out her contract before resuming her solo career. In the meantime, she made a string of musically adventurous guest appearances that solidified her underground reputation: the Roots (Illadelph Halflife's "Push up Ya Lighter"), Sweetback (Sade's backing band), drum'n'bass auteur Roni Size (the title track of the landmark New Forms), Towa Tei, acid jazzers the Brand New Heavies, the Herbaliser, trip-hoppers Morcheeba ("Good Girl Down"), Rah Digga, Slum Village, and Talib Kweli's Reflection Eternal (their collaboration, "Chaos," appeared on the seminal Rawkus compilation Soundbombing, Vol. 2). She also hosted a hip-hop radio show in Philadelphia from 1997-1999. In 2000, she signed with the L.A.-based indie Goodvibe and released the chilled-out seven-track EP BB Queen (as in "beautiful black"), which received excellent reviews.
Bahamadia - Kollage (Mar 19, 1996: Chrysalis)
Bahamadia's debut album, Kollage, is an underrated, jazzy affair paced by some nifty production and the MC's own dryly gentle delivery. Despite her laid-back, even deliberate flow, she has a confident, upfront presence on the mic, with strong rhyming skills and a fondness for old-school wordplay (as demonstrated on, naturally, "Wordplay"). Being a protégée of Gang Starr and a native of Philadelphia, she gets production help from the former's DJ Premier and Guru, as well as the latter's Roots. The music often recalls both of those artists, as well as the unassuming, low-key ambience of Digable Planets. But there's also often a dreamier quality than any of those groups, thanks to some spacy keyboards and fusion samples, and some R&B elements as well, most notably on the excellent single "I Confess." Other highlights include her two early singles, "Total Wreck" and "Uknowhowwedu," and the quietly shimmering "Spontaneity." Kollage isn't hugely varied, but it is fairly consistent, and fans of intellectual bohemian hip-hop will find this album very good at what it does.
After a four-year exodus, Bahamadia couldn't have picked a more opportune time to reintroduce herself to the hip-hop masses. After all, the female MC arena changed considerably after the Philly native dropped her 1996 debut, Kollage. Injecting some much-needed class back into the female ranks, Bahamadia transcends the common denominator (sexuality and gold digging) of her scantily clad colleagues. Though she returns without the aid of DJ Premier, the hypnotic lounge music of Jay Dee's soulful apprentices Kwele and EQ enables Bahmadia's subtle flow more of an opportunity to truly flourish. Her eternal optimism is defined by the sublime "Beautiful Things," a wonderfully crafted track that reminds us to appreciate the simple things we often take for granted. Just as refreshing is the red-tag anthem, "Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks)," a track dedicated to the thrift-store honeys that try to stay with it while rocking discounted gear.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present Exclusive: NYGz - Welcome 2 G-Dom (2007)

Large Professor (William Paul Mitchell)

Widely known initially for his work as a producer and MC with the rap group Main Source, Large Professor soon after became a full-time producer working with such acts as Big Daddy Kane and A Tribe Called Quest. Professor originally became involved in rap when he won a tryout held by Main Source members K-Cut and Sir Scratch in 1989. Contributing significantly to the creative direction of the group, Professor eventually broke with Main Source over creative differences . He then lent his hand to albums by some of rap's biggest names, including Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. For his full-length solo debut, 2002's 1st Class, Large Professor called in favors from friends including Nas, Q-Tip, and Busta Rhymes.

He was programming beats and producing records for hip-hop legends while still a teenager, but Large Professor waited nearly a decade to put out his own album. If 1st Class isn't as exciting as any of his outside productions (which are simply begging for a greatest-shots collection), it's because LP tries to handle nearly everything himself. The album's five tracks in before we finally hear a guest, and it's a long wait — Large Professor doesn't have much to say on a track like "Brand New Sound" (with his beats or his rhymes), and he repeats the title enough to make it sound more like desperation than defiance. A three-track spate of features finds him trading some tough rhymes with Nas, Akinyele, and Q-Tip, though here Q-Tip is basically reduced to freestyling over the choruses. Large Professor gets back to boasting with "Born to Ball," but he doesn't prove up to the task. Either more space for guests, or a little more time in the studio would've resulted in a better effort than this half-baked record.
Recording Date 1992-1993. In a just world, a review of this album would have been simply about the music. Instead, this is a story riddled with tales of record-label politics, high expectations, poorly pressed bootlegs, and careers put on hold. In 1993 Large Professor made an appearance as a guest MC on A Tribe Called Quest's "Keep It Rollin'," a track he produced for their Midnight Marauders album. The last line of his verse, "buy the album when I drop it," has since become a classic of golden-era New York rap. Unfortunately, it was for the wrong reasons. As it turns out, the world would have to wait another nine years for a proper full-length solo debut, 2002's 1st Class. It wasn't for a lack of effort, though. In 1996 Geffen released two Large Professor 12" singles ("IJUSWANNACHILL" and "The Mad Scientist") in anticipation of his then-forthcoming album. After a number of delays and disagreements about the album's "outdated" vibe, Geffen dropped the project, leaving it to collect dust in the label's vaults for seven years. Fortunately, Large Professor reacquired the rights to the recordings in 2002, resulting in a limited promo-only CD pressing. Fans familiar with the singles should already know what to expect here, especially since five of the album's 12 tracks were spread among the two 12"s. From a production standpoint, the sound is similar to that heard on Pro's previous full-length, Main Source's Breaking Atoms, though in a more stripped-down and mid-'90s manner. Among the highlights are the two singles, the hazy organ loop of "Hungry," and the flat-out stunning Nas collabo, "One on One." Remember, Nas was fresh from his classic debut, Illmatic, when he recorded this track, so fans that felt a little disillusioned by his later, ghetto-fabulous leanings owe it to themselves to check this track out. All said, Large Professor was never flooded with consistently interesting lyrics — and there are some flat moments here — but they never get in the way of the consistently high-quality production. A lost treasure.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jeru The Damaja (Kendrick Jeru Davis)

Speaking out against what he saw as a decline in rap during the mid-'90s, Jeru the Damaja came to the fore as a self-proclaimed prophet and the savior of hip-hop, much as KRS-One had done almost ten years before. Jeru first appeared as a guest on Gang Starr's Daily Operations album, and his own deal with Payday/ffrr appeared soon after, resulting in 1994's The Sun Rises in the East. Though he made few friends in the rap world — given his outspoken criticism of such popular figures as the Fugees and Sean "Puffy" Combs — he proved a vital force in the emergence of the new rap consciousness of the late '90s.Raised Kendrick Jeru Davis in Brooklyn, the Damaja began writing rhymes at the age of ten. At high school, he met Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr, and first guested on Gang Starr's "I'm the Man," from the 1992 album Daily Operation. Jeru toured with the group during 1993 and released his solo debut, Come Clean, for Gang Starr's Illkids label. The single became an underground sensation and led to his contract with Payday Records. He recorded The Sun Rises in the East with DJ Premier producing, and released the album in 1994. Though the album was well-received, Jeru got some flak for the song "Da Bichez" — though he explicitly stated that most girls did not fit into the category. During 1994, he appeared on Digable Planets' second album (Blowout Comb) and recorded his follow-up, Wrath of the Math, with DJ Premier and Guru once again helping out with production. The independent record Heroz4hire followed in early 2000, and his protégé, Afu-Ra, debuted in 2000 with Body of the Life Force. Jeru kept a surprisingly low profile thereafter, though he did appear on a stellar track from Groove Armada's Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub).
DJ Premier's first album-length production outside of Gang Starr was his best by far. Where Premier's productions hadn't shone underneath the cracking, over-earnest vocals of Guru, with a superior stylist like Jeru these tracks became brilliant musical investigations with odd hooks (often detuned bells, keys, or vibes), perfectly scratched upchoruses, and the grittiest, funkiest Brooklynese beats pounding away in the background. Of course, the star of the show was Jeru, a cocksure young rapper who brought the dozens from the streets to a metaphysical battleground where he did battle with all manner of foe — the guy around the corner on "D. Original" or an allegorical parade of hip-hop evils on "You Can't Stop the Prophet." The commentary about inner-city plagues arising from spiritual ignorance only continued on "Ain't the Devil Happy," with Jeru preaching knowledge of self as the only rescue from greed and violence. Jeru also courted some controversy with "Da Bichez," at first explaining, "I'm not talkin' 'bout the queens...not the sisters...not the young ladies," but later admitting his thoughts ("most chicks want minks, diamonds, or Benz"). His flow and delivery were natural, his themes were impressive, and he was able to make funky rhymes out of intellectual hyperbole like: "Written on these pages is the ageless, wisdom of the sages/Ignorance is contagious." It lacks a landmark track, but The Sun Rises in the East stands alongside Nas' Illmatic (released the same year, and also boasting the work of Premier) as one of the quintessential East Coast records.

Jeru reunited with DJ Premier for this slightly sprawling second record, though fans must have been delirious with joy to find it was similar to — and usually just as strong as — his debut. Though it's clear Jeru isn't as hungry a rapper as he was two years earlier, he has just as much to say, and he's just as angry with the state of hip-hop and black life in general. Jeru goes into metaphysical drama once again with "One Day," wherein commercial rappers (including Puff Daddy and Foxy Brown) kidnap hip-hop, and continues his comic-book battles with the evils of rap amidst the backdrop of the Big Apple on "Revenge of the Prophet (Part 5)." Jeru also spends plenty of time directly addressing real-life issues, dissecting the crass, money-hungry hip-hop scene on "Scientifical Madness," running a sequel to "Da Bichez" called "Me or the Papes," and preaching more knowledge on "Ya Playin' Yaself." His version of the classic braggadocio track comes with "Not the Average" and "Whatever," where he uses knowledge as well as immense skills to foil anyone who's testing him. Though Wrath of the Math did sound similar to Jeru's debut, Premier was even more wide-ranging for his backing tracks, ranging from the comparatively atmospheric ("Invasion") to a succession of momentary samples from out of nowhere ("Physical Stamina"). Unfortunately, it was their last time together; perhaps a bit jealous of Premier's sizable profile, Jeru began producing himself with his next record, Heroz4hire.

Jeru the Damaja returned from a three-year absence with Heroz4hire, an independent album released on his own Knowsavage label, featuring both production and mixing by Jeru himself. His rapping style, as dense and inventive as ever, entails listening to the album at least three or four times to understand the tongue-twisting rhymes. From his last album, Jeru continues his interrogation of women with more than love on their mind on "Bitchez Wit Dikz," and contributes an apocalyptic production to the historical saga "Renagade Slave." Jeru is surprisingly good as a producer, weaving scratchy, repetitious samples around tough, lo-fi beats — similar to DJ Premier's work on the first two Jeru LPs. Though the hooks here aren't quite as catchy as Premier's, the incredibly raw production suits the independent status of Heroz4hire. Jeru also shares the mic and the credits on several tracks; female rapper Mizmarvel appears on "Verbal Battle" and "Anotha Victim." Highlights include the hilarious New York exposé "Seinfeld" and the paternity case "Blue Jean (Safe Sex)."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Kanye West

In the span of a few years, from 2001 to 2004, Kanye West went from hip-hop beatmaker to worldwide hitmaker, as his stellar production work for Jay-Z earned him a major-label recording contract as a solo artist. Before long, his beats were accompanied by his own witty raps on a number of critically and commercially successful releases. West's flamboyant personality also made a mark. He showcased a dapper fashion sense that set him apart from most of his rap peers, and his confidence often came across as boastful or even egotistic, albeit amusingly. This flamboyance, of course, made for good press, something West enjoyed plenty of during his sudden rise to celebrity status. He was a media darling, appearing and performing at practically every major awards show (and winning at them, too), delivering theatrical videos to MTV that were events in themselves, and mouthing off about whatever happened to cross his mind. For instance, he frequently spoke out against the rampant homophobia evident in much rap music, posed for the cover of Rolling Stone as Jesus Christ, and even said during a Hurricane Katrina fundraiser on live television, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." West courted controversy, no question about it, but his steady presence in the celebrity limelight sometimes eclipsed his considerable musical talent. His production ability seemed boundless during his initial surge of activity, as he not only racked up impressive hits for himself like "Jesus Walks" and "Gold Digger," but also graced such fellow rap stars as Jay-Z and Ludacris with smashes. In addition to these many accomplishments, it's worth noting how West shattered certain stereotypes about rappers. Whether it was his appearance or his rhetoric, or even just his music, this young man became a superstar on his own terms, and his singularity no doubt is part of his appeal to a great many people, especially those who don't generally consider themselves rap listeners.From out of left field (i.e., Chicago, anything but a hip-hop hotbed), West was an unlikely sensation and more than once defied adversity. Like so many others who were initially inspired by Run-D.M.C., he began as just another aspiring rapper with a boundless passion for hip-hop, albeit a rapper with a Midas touch when it came to beatmaking. And it was indeed his beatmaking skills that got his foot in the industry door. Though he did quite a bit of noteworthy production work during the late '90s (Jermaine Dupri, Foxy Brown, Mase, Goodie Mob), it was his work for Roc-a-Fella at the dawn of the new millennium that took his career to the next level. Alongside fellow fresh talent Just Blaze, West became one of The Roc's go-to producers, consistently delivering hot tracks to album after album. His star turn came on Jay-Z's classic Blueprint (2001) with album standouts "Takeover" and "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)." Both songs showcased West's signature beatmaking style of the time, which was largely sample-based — in these cases the former track appropriating snippets of the Doors' "Five to One," the latter the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back." More high-profile productions followed, and before long word spread that West was going to release an album of his own, on which he'd rap as well as produce. Unfortunately, that album was a long time coming, pushed back and then pushed back again. It didn't help, of course, that West experienced a tragic car accident in October 2002 that almost cost him his life. He capitalized on the traumatic experience by using it as the inspiration for "Through the Wire" (and its corresponding video), which would later become the lead single for his debut album, The College Dropout (2004). As the album was continually delayed, West continued to churn out big hits for the likes of Talib Kweli ("Get By"), Ludacris ("Stand Up"), Jay-Z ("'03 Bonnie & Clyde"), and Alicia Keys ("You Don't Know My Name"). Then, just as "Through the Wire" was breaking big-time at the tail end of 2003, another West song caught fire, a collaboration with Twista and comedian/actor Jamie Foxx called "Slow Jamz" that gave the rapper/producer two simultaneously ubiquitous singles and a much-anticipated debut album. As with so many of West's songs, these two were driven by somewhat recognizable sample-based hooks — Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire" in the case of "Through the Wire," and Luther Vandross' "A House Is Not a Home" in the case of "Slow Jamz." In the wake of his breakout success, West earned a whopping ten nominations for the 47th annual Grammy Awards, held in early 2005. The College Dropout won the Best Rap Album award, "Jesus Walks" won Best Rap Song, and a songwriting credit on "You Don't Know My Name" for Best R&B Song award was shared with Alicia Keys and Harold Lilly. Later in the year, West released his second solo album, Late Registration (2005), which spawned a series of hit singles ("Diamonds in Sierra Leone," "Gold Digger," "Heard 'Em Say," "Touch the Sky"), topped the charts (as did "Gold Digger"), and won a Grammy for Album of the Year. West's production work continued more or less unabated during this time; particularly noteworthy were hits for Twista ("Overnight Celebrity"), Janet Jackson ("I Want You"), Brandy ("Talk About Our Love"), the Game ("Dreams"), Common ("Go!"), and Keyshia Cole ("I Changed My Mind"). West also founded his own label, GOOD Music (i.e., "Getting Out Our Dreams"), in conjunction with Sony BMG. The inaugural release was John Legend's Get Lifted (2004), followed by Common's Be (2005). In addition to all of his studio work, West also toured internationally in support of Late Registration and released Late Orchestration: Live at Abbey Road Studios (2006) in commemoration.After retreating from the spotlight for a while, West returned to the forefront of the music world in 2007 with a series of album releases. Consequence's Don't Quit Your Day Job and Common's Finding Forever, both released by GOOD, were chiefly produced by West; the latter was particularly popular, topping the album chart upon its release in July. And then there was West's third solo album, Graduation, which was promoted well in advance of its September 11 release (a memorable date that pitted Kanye against 50 Cent, who in one interview swore he would quit music if his album, Curtis, wasn't the top-seller). A pair of singles — "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Stronger," the latter an interpolation of Daft Punk's 2001 single "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" — led the promotional push.


Producer Kanye West's highlight reels were stacking up exponentially when his solo debut for Roc-a-Fella was released, after numerous delays and a handful of suspense-building underground mixes. The week The College Dropout came out, three singles featuring his handiwork were in the Top 20, including his own "Through the Wire." A daring way to introduce himself to the masses as an MC, the enterprising West recorded the song during his recovery from a car wreck that nearly took his life — while his jaw was wired shut. Heartbreaking and hysterical ("There's been an accident like Geico/They thought I was burnt up like Pepsi did Michael"), and wrapped around the helium chirp of the pitched-up chorus from Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire," the song and accompanying video couldn't have forged his dual status as underdog and champion any better. All of this momentum keeps rolling through The College Dropout, an album that's nearly as phenomenal as the boastful West has led everyone to believe. The bad points? A few too many skits, "The New Workout Plan," and the fact that the triumph that is "Through the Wire" is de-emphasized and placed so deep into the album that it's almost anticlimactic. Apart from this? Abundant hotness in every aspect. From a production standpoint, nothing here tops recent conquests like Alicia Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" or Talib Kweli's "Get By," but he's consistently potent and tempers his familiar characteristics — high-pitched soul samples, gospel elements — by tweaking them and not using them as a crutch. Even though those with their ears to the street knew West could excel as an MC, he has used this album as an opportunity to prove his less-known skills to a wider audience. One of the most poignant moments is on "All Falls Down," where the self-effacing West examines self-consciousness in the context of his community: "Rollies and Pashas done drive me crazy/I can't even pronounce nothing, yo pass the Versacey/Then I spent 400 bucks on this just to be like 'Nigga you ain't up on this'." If the notion that the album runs much deeper than the singles isn't enough, there's something of a surprising bonus: rather puzzlingly, a slightly adjusted mix of "Slow Jamz" — a side-splitting ode to legends of baby-making soul that originally appeared on Twista's Kamikaze, just before that MC received his own Roc-a-Fella chain — also appears. Prior to this album, we were more than aware that West's stature as a producer was undeniable; now we know that he's also a remarkably versatile lyricist and a valuable MC.
And then, in a flash, Kanye was everywhere, transformed from respected producer to big-name producer/MC, throwing a fit at the American Music Awards, performing "Jesus Walks" at the Grammys, wearing his diamond-studded Jesus piece, appearing on the cover of Time, running his mouth 24/7. One thing that remains unchanged is Kanye's hunger, even though his head has swollen to the point where it could be separated from his body, shot into space, and considered a planet. Raised middle class, Kanye didn't have to hustle his way out of poverty, the number one key to credibility for many hip-hop fans, whether it comes to rapper turned rapping label presidents or suburban teens. And now that he has proved himself in another way, through his stratospheric success — which also won him a gaggle of haters as passionate as his followers — he doesn't want to be seen as a novelty whose ambitions have been fulfilled. On Late Registration, he finds himself backed into a corner, albeit as king of the mountain. It's a paradox, which is exactly what he thrives on. His follow-up to The College Dropout isn't likely to change the minds of the resistant. As an MC, Kanye remains limited, with all-too-familiar flows that weren't exceptional to begin with (you could place a number of these rhymes over College Dropout beats). He uses the same lyrical strategies as well. Take lead single "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," in which he switches from boastful to rueful; more importantly, the conflict felt in owning blood diamonds will be lost on those who couldn't afford one with years of combined income. Even so, he can be tremendous as a pure writer, whether digging up uncovered topics (as on "Diamonds") or spinning a clever line ("Before anybody wanted K. West's beats, me and my girl split the buffet at KFC"). The production approach, however, is rather different from the debut. Crude beats and drastically tempo-shifted samples are replaced with a more traditionally musical touch from Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann), who co-produces with West on most of the tracks. (Ironically, the Just Blaze-helmed "Touch the Sky" tops everything laid down by the pair, despite its heavy reliance on Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up.") West and Brion are a good, if unlikely, match. Brion's string arrangements and brass flecks add a new dimension to West's beats without overshadowing them, and the results are neither too adventurous nor too conservative. While KRS-One was the first to proclaim, "I am hip-hop," Kanye West might as well be the first MC to boldly state, "I am pop."

01. Diamonds From Sierra Leone 04:08
02. Touch The Sky 04:07
03. Crack Music 02:48
04. Drive Slow 04:34
05. Through The Wire 03:33
06. Workout Plan 02:53
07. Heard 'em Say 04:10
08. All Falls Down 03:13
09. Bring Me Down 03:21
10. Gone 04:15
11. Late 03:54
12. Jesus Walks 03:14
13. Gold Digger (AOL Sessions) 03:18

Exclusive!: Kanye West - Graduation (Retail) (Sep 11, 2007: Roc-A-Fella)01. Good Morning (Intro) 03:15
02. Champion 02:48
03. Stronger 05:12
04. I Wonder 04:03
05. Good Life (Ft. T-Pain) 03:27
06. Can't Tell Me Nothing 04:32
07. Barry Bonds (Ft. Lil Wayne) 03:24
08. Drunk And Hot Girls (Ft. Mos Def) 05:13
09. Flashing Lights (Ft. Dwele) 03:58
10. Everything I Am 03:48
11. The Glory 03:33
12. Homecoming (Ft. Chris Martin) 03:24
13. Big Brother 04:47