Saturday, July 28, 2007

Black Milk

Born and raised in Detroit on the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Curtis Cross found out at an early age that he had a talent for hip-hop, especially with beats. He spent hours in his basement — at first with just a cheap drum machine and a home karaoke system, eventually moving up to more sophisticated MPCs and samplers — making tapes. One of these tapes got into the hands of fellow Detroiters Slum Village, who were impressed by what they heard and invited Cross to produce a track on their 2002 mixtape, Dirty District, as well as on their official full-length, Trinity (Past, Present and Future). After that, Cross, who was going as Black Milk, teamed up with producer RJ Rice, Jr. (or Young RJ) as the group B.R. Gunna, rhyming and making beats on the duo's 2004 release, Dirty District, Vol. 2. That same year, Slum Village, who were looking for production work because usual beat-makers Waajeed and Kareem Riggins were busy with other projects, hired B.R. Gunna for 11 of the 13 tracks on their Detroit Deli LP. In 2005, without a label and with his group on hiatus, Black Milk went on to release Sound of the City, which was more of a mixtape than a typical album, on his own Music House Records, and shortly after worked on SV's self-titled record. By this time, indie-rap label Fat Beats had heard Black Milk's work, which many compared to that of the late J Dilla and producer/MC Madlib; impressed, the label signed him in 2006 and issued his official solo debut, Popular Demand, in March of 2007.


Black Milk - Pressure (The Official Mix CD)


Black Milk - Popular Demand (Fat Beats: 2007)

Although 2006 was a hard year for Detroit hip-hop, with the death of both Proof and J Dilla, it brought more attention to the scene than it had experienced since the rise of Eminem in 1999. Suddenly, everyone was heralding the genius of the late James Yancey, giving him shout outs and crediting him as a major inspiration. Of course, for some, these claims are actually true, and can be proven in their work. One such artist who falls into this category is Black Milk, who besides having already produced tracks for Slum Village, was also part of the duo B.R. Gunna with RJ Rice, Jr. On his first official solo debut, the Fat Beats-issued Popular Demand, Black shows off his skills both behind the boards and the mic. Comparisons to Dilla, and in some ways Madlib and even Kanye West, abound, much in part thanks to their mutual penchant for soul sample-based beats over hollow drum tracks. While Dilla's production may have been more inventive, and less dependant upon the same formula, Black Milk wins in rhymes (he even addresses the idea of producer/MCs, who "get the most criticism/Until they heard Black, now they gonna feel different," and in this case, what he says is correct). The rapper is able to adjust his flow to fit his beats accordingly, going from spitting quick 16s on "Watch Em" and "Insane" to slowing things down on tracks like "Lookatusnow" or "One Song." In true hip-hop form, Black invites a number of hometown guests to appear on Popular Demand, including Guilty Simpson, Elzhi and T3 from Slum Village, Baatin, Phat Kat, and One Be Lo from Binary Star, but he holds his own with them, isn't overshadowed by his elders' lines. He's adamant about not being placed "in a box," and so he shies away from overtly socially conscious lyrics and instead rhymes about women, hanging out with his friends, music, and of course, his own skills. "The beats is dangerous, and the rhymes is crazy, and my flow is on that new-age sh*t/So I'm like, 'Damn, how can they hate this?'/But niggas still can't relate like two kids that ain't kin," he spits in "Shut It Down." Maybe that's true; but for anyone who wants to hear the rebirth of Detroit hip-hop, there's no reason to look further than Black Milk.

+ Bonus CD

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Little Brother (9th Wonder, Big Pooh, Phonte)

Part of the new-millennium resurgence of alternative rap, Little Brother's inspirations were atypical for Southern hip-hop: classic Native Tongues outfits like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as more recent torch-bearers like the Roots and Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli). MCs Phonte (born Phonte Coleman) and Big Pooh (born Thomas Jones) swapped rhymes with an easy chemistry, but the group's real focal point was DJ/producer 9th Wonder (born Pat Douthit), an old-school sampling technician who quickly established himself as a worthy heir to production wizards like DJ Premier and Pete Rock. Little Brother formed at North Carolina Central University, located in Durham. All three members had known each other since 1998, when they performed in a local hip-hop outfit called the Organization; after its dissolution in 2000, they spearheaded a 12-member crew dubbed the Justus League. The trio worked together off and on in varying combinations, until they officially teamed up as Little Brother in August 2001, adopting the name as a humble nod to their influences. Their first recording together was "Speed," a playful, down-to-earth look at the pressures of holding a day job while trying to make it in the music business; it set the tone for much of their early material. Over the next few months, they developed enough of a repertoire to start performing live around the area, and quickly earned a following. When the group made its music available for download on the Internet, a substantial buzz built far outside of North Carolina, and it eventually earned them a deal with the Oakland-based ABB Records in 2002. In early 2003, Little Brother released its full-length debut, The Listening, which won widespread critical praise that focused especially on 9th Wonder's production. The buzz helped him earn a raft of high-profile outside gigs, including tracks on a pair of multi-platinum releases: The Black Album by Jay-Z and Destiny Fulfilled by Destiny's Child. Little Brother leapt to a major label (along with ABB) in 2005 for The Minstrel Show. In January 2007, as the group was finishing up their next release, Getback, it was announced that Little Brother had left Atlantic and that 9th Wonder had amicably left Little Brother.

Little Brother - The Listening (Feb 25, 2003: ABB)
In Little Brother's music, the North Carolina group makes a specific point to highlight the more refined aspects of mid-'90s hip-hop. Basing its 2002 sound upon the foundation previously established by the likes of Pete Rock, A Tribe Called Quest, Jay Dee, and Black Star, Little Brother makes somewhat of a political statement by applying such standards to this modern age. The Listening does an exceptional job of proving that soulful meditations have indeed retained their traditional relevancy within the contemporary realms of rap. 9th Wonder's production leads the charge with distinct drum kicks pacing larger-than-life melodic samples, which are often enhanced with sultry female voice-overs. Meanwhile, Phonte and Big Pooh dig even deeper within the hip-hop vaults as they draw upon classic routines by the likes of Rakim, Slick Rick, and Audio 2 for their lyrical inspiration. Whether engaged in storytelling, braggadocio, or simple reassurance, the rhyming duo complements 9th Wonder's varying shades of mood music with a consistent degree of skill and sincerity. The album both starts and finishes strongly, with "For You," "Speed," "Nighttime Maneuvers," and the title track serving as its most stellar moments. Despite its unavoidably derivative orientation, The Listening is a finely crafted musical document, composed by artists who want nothing more than to provide even just a glimpse of hip-hop purity within an ever-expanding maze of cultural deterioration.
Few groups earn a major-label contract based on their producer's merits, but when Little Brother jumped to Atlantic for their second full album, The Minstrel Show, any cynic looking for a good reason would point to the increased profile of trackmaster 9th Wonder (Jay-Z, Destiny's Child). But it wasn't just 9th Wonder that made Little Brother's first album one of the best underground rap debuts of the new millennium; rappers Phonte and Big Pooh matched a smooth Southern drawl with up-North smarts. Like their influences in the Native Tongues family, the trio cast a clever eye over music and culture, sniffing out hypocrisy and greed, then dismissing them with sparkling satires. The Minstrel Show presents more of the same, expanding the palette to a host of hot topics: R. Kelly's "Trapped in the Closet" series, which gets skewered by the spot-on "Cheatin"; exploitative urban TV stations (the album's main concept); and even the need for brand-name clothes ("5th and Fashion"). And any fans who feared that 9th Wonder's success would lead to a diluted or overly polished record have nothing to worry about; awash in '70s soul and mellow, slapping beats, his productions make the message tracks carry just as well as the humorous material.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present Exclusive: Keith Murray - Rap-Murr-Phobia (The Fear Of Real Hip-Hop)

Label..........: KOCH
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Rap
Size...........: 56.4 MB
Rip Date.......: 07-24-2007
Release Date...: 07-31-2007
Quality........: LAME 3.97 V2
01. Keith Murray - Walk up (Skit) (feat. Tone Capone) 00:30
02. Keith Murray - Da F***ery 04:13
03. Keith Murray - Weeble Wobble 03:59
04. Keith Murray - Don't F*** Wit 'Em (feat. Kell Vicious) 03:37
05. Keith Murray - I Love It When It Rains (Skit) 00:51
06. Keith Murray - U Ain't Nobody (feat. Redman & Erick Sermon) 03:49
07. Keith Murray - Do 03:57
08. Keith Murray - Nobody Do It Better (feat. Tyrese & Junior) 04:01
09. Keith Murray - Hustle On 03:18
10. Keith Murray - Whatmakeani**thinkdat (feat. Lil' Jamal) 03:47
11. Keith Murray - What It Is (feat. Method Man & 50 Grand) 03:17
12. Keith Murray - We Ridin' (feat L.O.D.) 05:01
13. Keith Murray - Da Beef Murray Show (feat. Taya & Baggy Bones) 01:58
14. Keith Murray - Never Did S*** (feat. Unique) 03:43
15. Keith Murray - Something Like A Model (feat. Junior) 04:15
16. Keith Murray - Late Night (feat. L.O.D., Ming Bolla, Bosie & Ryze) 04:21

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Masta Ace

With an impressive resume in rap that includes membership in the legendary Juice Crew (along with Marley Marl, MC Shan, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, and Craig G) and a verse on the 1988 classic posse cut "The Symphony," Brooklyn's Masta Ace is truly an underappreciated rap veteran and underground luminary. Two years after "The Symphony," Ace released his debut album Take a Look Around on rap's version of the Motown label, Cold Chillin' Records. While not a huge commercial success the album spawned a hit single and video for "Me and the Biz" which popped up on many popular rap video shows in the late '90s for nostalgia's sake. The album has Marley Marl's keen production aura all over it and also features a guest appearance from the Biz himself. After three years on the hush, Ace returned to the fold in 1993 this time with his crew as Masta Ace Incorporated (Lord Digga and Paula Perry) and dropped Slaughtahouse. The album broke new ground by taking the synthesized West Coast Sound and filtering it through an East Coast mentality. The memorable "Born to Roll," with its tweaked Moog/Kraftwerk bass line, brought Ace some serious commercial attention. In 2000, De La Soul used this classic beat on a remix of "All Good" featuring Chaka Khan. The album also produced a few hits for undergrounders including "Jeep Ass Niguhz" and "Style Wars." The album is highly notable for its cross-coast compatibility. In 1995 Masta Ace Incorporated dropped Sittin' on Chrome, a continuation of the themes on Slaughtahouse and owning an even slicker sound. Using the Isley Brothers' much-sampled "For the Love of You" for the track "I.N.C. Ride" may have offended some of Ace's loyal fans but the song's catchy vibe made it a hit. Sittin' on Chrome is another album chock full of Jeep beats that doesn't relinquish its standing with underground tastes. "B Side" and "4 the Mind" featuring the Cella Dwellas are also crucial jams. Ace has been known to release sleeper singles that cannot be found on his albums; one of the rarest, 1996's "Ya Hardcore," is a bumping indictment of studio gangsters and thug rap neophytes. The talented survivor in the rap game released a variety of singles in 2000 including "Hellbound," a duet with Eminem, giving him over twelve years of experience in the rap biz.

Masta Ace - Take a Look Around (Jul 24, 1990: Cold Chillin') (Remastered 2007)
Take a Look Around, Masta Ace's throbbing, Marley Marl-produced debut, mixed the loopy humor of Biz Markie (who shares a cut here, on "Me and the Biz") with the urgency of the best LL Cool J. The best cut by far is "Music Man," but nearly every track is up to a high caliber, including "Can't Stop the Bum Rush," "I Got Ta," and "Letter to the Better."

Five years after making his name as a member in Marley Marl's legendary Juice Crew (he was one of the featured MCs on the classic 1988 posse cut "The Symphony" from Marl's In Control, Vol. 1) and three years after recording his buoyant, artistically on-point (though commercially stillborn) debut album, Take a Look Around, with its memorable hit duet with Biz Markie, "Me and the Biz," battle-scarred Brooklyn underground star Masta Ace returned for his second album with a newly tweaked name and his own supporting crew (Masta Ace Inc.), a new sound and sharply honed style, and a cynical new outlook on the entire rap game. In fact, a disgusted new outlook might be a more appropriate characterization, as a controlled abhorrence oozes from every pore of SlaughtaHouse, lashing out not only at easy outside targets (bigoted police, for instance) but also at those shady characters inside the "SlaughtaHouse" whose violence is enacted physically (Ace himself places the part of a mugger on "Who U Jackin?") rather than lyrically, bringing the entire community down in the process. A loose concept album, it is at once an intense exposé and a roughneck paean to the hip-hop lifestyle that broke new ground by merging the grimy lyrical sensibility, scalpel-precise technique, and kitchen-sink beats of East Coast rap with the funk-dripping, anchor-thick low end of West Coast producers. The classic "Jeep Ass Nigguh" was one of the quintessential cruising singles of the summer of 1993. Its unlisted remix, "Born to Roll," with its subsonic gangsta bass, is an equally thumping highlight and (with its sample borrowed from N.W.A's "Real Niggas Don't Die") can be seen as the most explicit bridge between East and West. But other hectic, relentless tracks like "The Big East," "Rollin' wit UmDada," and "Saturday Nite Live" are just as excellent, and Ace's crew — particularly Bluez Brothers Lord Digga and Witchdoc — really shines.
Although it suffers from the same lack of imagination and uneven songwriting that plagued SlaughtaHouse, Masta Ace's second album, Sittin' on Chrome, is a stronger effort than his debut. The best tracks show that Masta Ace Incorporated can turn out by-the-books gangsta rap with flair, but it's a little distressing that the best song, "Born to Roll," was initially featured as a bonus track on SlaughtaHouse.

After a six-year period of disillusionment with the rap game, one-time Juice Crew member Masta Ace returned with this supposed sayonara album that reads like a bittersweet memoir. Though Ace had been active in the underground scene since the release of 1995's Sittin' on Chrome, appearing on a number of singles and contributing memorable verses to various collaborations, the artist's disdain for the industry and disgust with his contemporaries kept him out of the studio for lengthy recording sessions. Feeling that rap's heyday had passed with the deaths of rappers like 2Pac and Biggie, and seeing a media- and market-influenced, watered-down product, Disposable Arts broods with anger, cynicism, and satire for the modern rapper bent purely on trend capitalizing. The paradox here is that Ace himself seems to seek and feels worthy of the same multimillion that he accuses his contemporaries of securing through less-than-artistic means. The burden of underground respect that nets only underground sales seems to be the primary source of Ace's frustration. While smacking of classic player-hate, Ace's response for the Cash Money Millionaires and Roc-A-Fellas of hip-hop is: "the rap game's a book and I read mad chapters/and if you ask me, it ain't enough Madd Rappers." Ace enlists a healthy balance of true schoolers (King T and Greg Nice) and eccentric up-and-comers (Punch, Words, and the delightfully weird MC Paul Barman) for the project. Musically, the album offers anything but the disposable; highlights include the eerie narrative "Take a Walk," the fierce dis record "Acknowledge," and the ingenious "Alphabet Soup," where Ace runs through the alphabet with some witty old-school rhymes. More four-alarm flames light up "Something's Wrong," the psychedelic "Dear Diary," and the thumping homage to the West Coast, "P.T.A.." A knockout punchliner with an airtight flow and delivery, Ace, in the face of everything he hates about hip-hop, turns in his most expansively satisfying work. With 24 strong tracks and only faint signs of misstep, Disposable Arts is tightly wrought thematically, musically, and lyrically, not to mention one heck of a parting shot. Most hip-hop albums of the modern era are lucky to cover even one of these areas.
Masta Ace - A Long Hot Summer (Aug 3, 2004: M3)

Mirror (filefactory)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present Exclusive: Sean Price - Master P. (2007)

Label..........: Bucktown USA / Duck Down
Source.........: CDDA
Genre..........: Hip-Hop
Size...........: 56,5 MB
Rip Date.......: Jul-19-2007
Release Date...: Jul-24-2007
LAME 3.97 V20
01. 6 Dollar Man 01:40
02. M.A.S.T.E.R. P (feat. Agallah) 02:43
03. BCCC (Frankenstein) (feat. Buckshot & Tek) 04:40
04. The Huckabuc (Produced by Khrysis) 02:17
05. All I Know (feat. Jozeemo) 02:46
06. One Question (feat. Rustee Juxx & Cousin Reeks) 3:34
07. Long Fifth Goodnight (feat. Starang Wondah) 02:07
08. Jackass Number 2 (feat. Flood) 01:43
09. Get It Together (feat. & prod. by Diamond D) 03:18
10. Connect 4 (feat. Shabaam Sahdeeq, U.G., & Casual) 03:27
11. Knock Em Out The Box (feat. Eratik Statik) 02:56
12. Legbreakers (feat. Big Shug) (prod. by Moss) 03:51
13. Jamaican (Produced By Khrysis) 02:45
14. Fish 02:12
15. Good Fellaz (feat. Sayez & Goverment) 04:08
16. Rotten Apple Remix (feat. Prodigy) 03:00
17. What's The Deal (feat. A-Rob & Nezquic) 03:08
18. Psycho Ward (Produced By Khrysis) (Music From Mic Tyson) 01:34

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rapaholic™ Present: R.I.P. Bootleq (2007)

01 2Pac - All About You
02 Aaliyah ft. Jay-Z - I Miss You (Remix)
03 Proof ft. 50 Cent - Forgive Me
04 R. Kelly ft. Notorious BIG - Happy
05 Thara ft. Stack Bundles - U Want It
06 Keith Sweat ft. Left Eye - How Do You Like It
07 Gerald Levert ft. Keith Sweat, LL Cool J & Busta Rhymes - Curious
08 2Pac - Me Against The World
09 Rick James ft. Busta Rhymes - In The Ghetto
10 Mary J Blige ft. Notorious BIG - Real Love
11 Mya ft. ODB & Pras - Ghetto Superstar
12 J-Dilla ft. James Brown - Mans World Chop (Instr)
13 Dangelo ft. J-Dilla & Common - So Far 2 Go
14 J-lo ft. Fat Joe & Big Pun - Feeling So Good
15 Rell 7 ft. Stack Bundles - Why
16 Mya ft. Left Eye - Takin Me Over
17 Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill - Turn Your Lights Down Low
18 Floetry ft. J Dilla & C.L. Smooth - Floetic
19 Tony Sunshine & Big Pun - Get off My Dick
20 Gerald Levert ft. Styles P - Real Shit
21 Notorious BIG ft. R. Kelly & Charlie Wilson - Mi Casa