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11 December 2015
Tags: Big Sean, Cam'ron, Christmas Hip Hop, CyHi the Prince, Dana Dane, David Banner, De La Soul, Diddy, DMX, Easy-E, Ghostface Killah, Hip Hop, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Kanye West, Keith Murray, Killer Mike, Kurtis Blow, Ludacris, Mase, Mr. lif, Music, Musiq Soulchild, Onyx, Outkast, Pear Shaped, Pusha T, Rap, Run The Jewels, Run-D.M.C., Salt-N-Pepa, Snoop Dogg, Spyder D, Starr, Sweet Tee, Teyana Taylor, Tha Dogg Pound, The Juice Crew All-Stars, TLC, Top 25 Christmas Rap, Treacherous Three, Vado, Ying Yang Twins
What would Christmas be without great Christmas music?
Every genre has that bit of festive spirit running through its creative veins, and Hip Hop is absolutely no exception. Hitting us with a varied collection of sometimes serious, often humorous, and on the rare occasion, outright bizarre tributes to the time of giving and receiving, it's safe to say Hip Hop loves Christmas. So what better way to get hyped for Christmas time than with a list of Hip Hop's 25 best Christmas tunes!
Santa's a busy man, so let's get rolling!...
TLC - Sleigh Ride
Snoop Dogg - Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto
Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin'
Run-D.M.C., Mase, Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Salt-N-Pepa, Onyx and Keith Murray - Santa Baby
Spyder D - Ghetto Santa
Ying Yang Twins - Deck Da Club
Run the Jewels - A Christmas Fucking Miracle
Ghostface Killah - Ghostface X-Mas
Sweet Tee - Let The Jingle Bells Rock
Eazy-E - Merry Muthafuckin' Xmas
Kanye West, Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Vado, Pusha T, Musiq Soulchild, CyHi the Prynce, Teyana Taylor and Big Sean - Christmas In Harlem
Mr. Lif - Santa's Got A Muthafuckin Uzi
Jim Jones - Ballin' On Xmas
Treacherous Three - Christmas Rap
Ludacris - Ludacrismas
Tha Dogg Pound - I Wish
Killer Mike - Christmas Grind
De La Soul - Millie Pulled A Gun On Santa
Juelz Santana and Starr - Jingle Bellz
David Banner - The Christmas Song
Dana Dane - Dana Dane Is Coming To Town
DMX - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Remix)
The Juice Crew All-Stars - Cold Chillin' Christmas
Outkast - Player's Ball (Christmas Version)
Run D.M.C. - Christmas In Hollis
Done and done. Merry Christmas all.
Til next year!
23 October 2015
Tags: 80s Hip Hop, 90s Hip Hop, Andre 3000, Big Boi, Black Sheep, Black Star, C.L. Smooth, Cage, Dilly Danze, DJ Abilities, DJ Mighty Mi, Double K, Dres, El-P, Eminem, Evidence, Eyedea, Eyedea & Abilities, Golden Era, Hip Hop, Hip Hop Duos, Independent, Jedi Mind Tricks, Killer Mike, Kool Keith, Lil' Fame, M.O.P., Mad Skillz, Mainstream, Mista Lawnge, Mos Def, Mr Eon, Old Skool, Outkast, Pear Shaped, People Under The Stairs, Pete Rock, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Pharoahe Monch, Rap, Run The Jewels, Smif N Wessun, Steele, Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind, Talib Kweli, Tek, The High & Mighty, Thes One, Underground, Vinnie Paz
Now let’s get straight on with Part Two, and likely break some Hip Hop hearts in the process.
Jedi Mind Tricks
Jedi Mind Tricks are a greatly esteemed duo within independent music. Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind is rightly considered one of Hip Hop’s most talented producers, and Vinnie Paz is just as well known for his gritty, insightful and thought-provoking lyrics as he is his recognisable delivery. ‘Violent By Design’ released in 2000 is widely considered a masterpiece of production, and their 2006 release ‘Servants In Heaven, Kings In Hell’ is equally acclaimed and revered.
Smif N Wessun
Making up one part of supergroup Boot Camp Clik, Smif N Wessun’s debut ‘Dah Shinin’' released in 1995 is an influential classic. Containing multiple well known tunes, as well as the huge underground hit ‘Bucktown’, the album also marked the official debut of Boot Camp Clik as a supergroup. Though forced to change their name to Cocoa Bruvaz to avoid being sued by firearms company Smith & Wesson, the duo would unofficially revert back to Smif N Wessun with the release of their third album, this time the name stuck and is now synonymous with respected Hip Hop.
Active since 1992, M.O.P., short for Mash Out Posse, remained heavily underground until the release of their fourth album ‘Warriorz’ in 2000 exploded in popularity and gave the world two huge hits in ‘Ante Up’ and ‘Cold As Ice’. MCs Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame have become well known for their rugged beats and uniquely aggressive delivery, a style which they essentially pioneered alongside the likes of group Onyx.
People Under The Stairs
People Under The Stairs have never tried to be more than what they are, straight up Hip Hop. Though strictly underground, in terms of record sales, the duo are well known and respected among Hip Hop artists and fans alike, thanks largely to regularly touring the world out of love for their craft. Their music is pure head-nod music, their beats are soulful and varied, and their rhymes are generally upbeat, and based around personal experiences and enjoyment of life.
Outkast are a well known name inside and outside Hip Hop music, that’s because the duo is one of the most successful of all time, with multiple awards between six albums and huge worldwide sales. Composed of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, the duo helped popularise South Coast Hip Hop, otherwise known as ‘Dirty South’, in the early-90s, with their music incorporating a varied style of musical influence including soul, funk, jazz, techno and gospel, giving them widespread appeal.
Before their solo careers took off, Mos Def and Talib Kweli came together to create a key recording which led to the dominance of Independent label Rawkus Records at the time. Released in 1998, ‘Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star’ is revered for its meaningful, intelligent, socially aware lyrics, and incredibly well crafted beats. Making an immediate impact, the album is now widely recognised as one of the most acclaimed in Hip Hop music, cementing both Mos Def and Talib Kweli as deeply respected masters of the verse.
Choice Tracks – Every Track On The Album.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth are a Golden Era duo whose 1992 debut ‘Mecca And The Soul Brother’ and 1994 follow-up ‘The Main ingredient’ are considered influential and acclaimed works, not least thanks to Pete Rock’s inspired production. Their single ‘They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)’ is not only the duo’s biggest hit but is one of the most highly regarded and well respected tunes in Hip Hop.
Run The Jewels
Consisting of MC/producer El-P and MC Killer Mike, Run The Jewels made an immediate impact on the Hip Hop scene with the release of the self-titled ‘Run The Jewels’ album in 2013 receiving universal acclaim. The duo’s lyrical style fits perfectly over El-P’s bass-filled, electronic-leaning production. Releasing a successful follow-up last year, and a third album already in the works, Run The Jewels are going places fast and could well be looked upon as pioneers of something truly unique in a scene some might argue is growing stale.
Eyedea & Abilities
Eyedea is widely regarded as the best freestyle/battle MC to ever hold a mic, winning multiple high-profile tournaments. However, when Eyedea started recording with DJ Abilities, his content wasn’t just clever punchlines and put-downs, it was also some of the most philosophical, poetic and socially-conscious verses put on record. The three albums the duo created are highly acclaimed works, with DJ Abilities’ trademark experimental production the perfect frame for Eyedea’s now legendary wordplay and story-telling ability.
Black Sheep’s debut ‘A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ released in 1991 garnered them immediate recognition in the Hip Hop community, the duo’s intelligent, witty, satirical and imaginative lyricism blends perfectly over their infectious and recognisable beats. Since then Black Sheep have become influential and respected members of the Hip Hop world, with lyrics and beats regularly sampled and given homage by other artists. Their debut is rightly considered a must have album.
Well that’s it. 20 Hip Hop duos done. Pretty varied list if I say so myself.
As it’s Friday, here’s an extra duo. Not so much a great duo but a duo whose debut album remains a personal favourite…
The High & Mighty
Consisting of MC Mr Eon and Producer DJ Mighty Mi, The High & Mighty made an instant name for themselves with the release of their classic album ‘Home Field Advantage’ in 1999. The recording is notable for featuring multiple now legendary artists in the early stages of their careers, with names like Eminem, Cage, Mos Def and Evidence, alongside established legends like Mad Skillz, Pharoahe Monch and Kool Keith, among others. Thanks to Mighty Mi's inspired and, at times, brilliant production, the album is filled with timeless, unforgettable tunes, and remains a fitting end to the 90s and perhaps Hip Hop's finest decade.
16 October 2015
Tags: 7L, 7L & Esoteric, 80s duos, 90s duos, Ant, Atmosphere, Blackalicious, Cannibal Ox, Chief Xcel, Das EFX, DJ Premier, Dray, EPMD, Eric B, Eric B. & Rakim, Erick Sermon, Esoteric, Gang Starr, Gift of Gab, golden era, Guru, Havoc, hip hop, hip hop duos, independent, mainstream, Mobb Deep, Organized Konfusion, pear shaped, Pharoahe Monch, PMD, Prince Po, Prodigy, Rakim, rap, Skoob, Slug, underground, Vast Aire, Vordul Mega
The duo. Perhaps Hip Hop in its purest form. But what makes a duo truly great? The following is Part 1 of a list of 20 great Hip Hop duos compiled for your viewing/listening pleasure.
As with lists before, this isn’t a countdown, just a list in random order.
Perhaps once you’ve been through them all you’ll be closer to understanding duo greatness, or perhaps you’ll just be enraged by the lack of a certain duo or the inclusion of one you think sucks. Either way, try to enjoy yourself. It’s Friday after all.
Let’s get rolling…
Is DJ Premier the greatest producer in Hip Hop history? It’s possible. But one thing undeniable about the man is the fact he is by far the most consistent. Active since the late-80s, Premier is still putting together incredibly well crafted tunes to this day, with a large portion of his best and most timeless works easily as part of Gang starr. Alongside the legendary and gifted wordsmith Guru, this duo has become one of most well respected and well known in music.
Slug’s lyrics are notable for his heavy use of metaphor and symbolism, openly examining his own thoughts, feelings and personal experiences when it comes to drugs, alcohol and relationships, giving Atmosphere a relatable and down to earth feel. Ant’s production is varied and perfectly complements Slug’s delivery, be it understated, powerful, or simple head-nod inspired. Together Atmosphere have created a unique and ever-present place for themselves in the Hip Hop world.
7L & Esoteric
7L & Esoteric are an influential and respected duo in the independent circuit. Active since 1996, they made a name for themselves with 7L’s throwback, boom bap style beats and Esoteric’s versatile subject matter and intricate, deeply impressive, wordplay. Ever active and involved in many important projects, their pioneering, predominantly electro-influenced album ‘A New Dope’ released in 2006 was a huge step away from their usual style and is often compared to The Beastie Boy’s ‘Paul’s Boutique’ with its influential and ambitious mix of eclectic samples and experimental production.
With the release of their self-titled debut in 1991 Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch of Organized Konfusion made an instant impact due to their intricate and complicated lyricism and delivery which was nothing less than ground-breaking at the time. However, it was their follow-up ‘Stress: The Extinction Agenda’ released in 1994 which solidified their cult status as one of the most gifted and acclaimed Hip Hop acts of the 1990s, that album now regarded an out and out classic.
Eric B. & Rakim
Erik B. & Rakim are widely considered among the most important duos in Hip Hop history. Between 1987 and 1992 the duo released four albums, with their debut ‘Paid In Full’ released in 1987 and their follow-up ‘Follow The Leader’ released in 1988 going down as two of the most ground-breaking and influential albums of all time, thanks to Rakim’s pioneering flow and wordplay, and Erik B’s inspired production.
Mobb Deep is one of the key acts to contribute to The East Coast Renaissance in the early 90s, a movement which emerged to counteract the dominance of West Coast Hip Hop at the time. Alongside the likes of Nas and Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep helped re-establish East Coast Hip Hop, making a name for themselves with their dark, gritty style. Their second album ‘The Infamous’ released in 1995 and their third ‘Hell On Earth’ released in 1996 are influential and acclaimed works.
With the release of their debut ‘Dead Serious’ in 1992, Das EFX introduced the Hip Hop world to their unique and hugely influential flow, which consisted of often adding non-words like ‘iggedy’ to the end of actual words and delivering them in a fast-paced style. This type of delivery became hugely popular at the time and is now iconic of 90s Hip Hop, solidifying the duo’s debut as an acclaimed classic and the duo themselves as important pioneers.
Everybody knows the name Blackalicious, and everybody recognises Gift of Gab, his style and ability is among the most complex and tongue twisting in Hip Hop music, possessing rhymes filled with metaphors and insane feats of lyrical skill untouched by his peers. Producer/DJ Chief Xcel is an accomplished beat maker, producing tunes with a classic and infectious vibe. Together the duo have released four incredibly well received albums and are one of the most original and respected acts in Hip Hop.
EPMD is widely recognised as one of Hip Hop's greatest duos. The release of their debut ‘Strictly Business’ in 1988 marked the beginning of a long and respected career (though not without a few break ups). From 1988 to 2008 MCs Parrish Smith and Erick Sermon released seven albums together, three of which, including their debut, are considered important, influential classics and regularly feature on top albums of all time lists.
Cannibal Ox’s debut ‘The Cold Vein’ released in 2001 is rightly considered one of the top independent Hip Hop releases of the 2000s, and is also a key album in the influential Definitive Jux label’s early success. Consisting of Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, the two MC's intricate lyricism has rarely been equalled with the duo often praised for their profound content and ability to work on multiple levels. Releasing their follow-up 'Blade Of The Ronin' earlier this year, no less than 14 years later, the pair haven’t lost any of their mind-bending chemistry.
That’s it. Part 1 complete. Make sure you tune in next Friday for the potentially controversial conclusion to this top duos list. Same time. Same place.
27 September 2015
25 September 2015
Sean Price, originally known as Ruck, was one half of Heltah Skeltah alongside fellow MC Rock, The duo were also members of the Hip Hop supergroup Boot Camp Clik which featured Smif-n-Wessun’s Tek and Steele, Black Moon’s Buckshot and O.G.C.’s Louieville Sluggah, Starang Wondah and Top Dog.
Heltah Skeltah made their first appearance on Smif and Wessun’s classic 1995 debut ‘Dah Shinin’ which signified the beginning of a dominant few decades for the members of Boot Camp Clik. Ruck and Rock would release their own Heltah Skeltah debut ‘Nocturnal’ a year later and Boot Camp Clik’s debut came the following year titled ‘For The People’.
After the release of a second Heltah Skeltah album in 1998 ‘Magnum Force’, and a second Boot Camp Clik release in 2002 ‘The Chosen Few’, Ruck rebranded himself using his birth name ‘Sean Price’ and began working on his solo career. His debut ‘Monkey Barz’ released in 2005 was an immediate success and was named independent album of the year by multiple publications. Price followed up Monkey Barz with 2007’s ‘Jesus Price Superstar’ and 2012’s ‘Mic Tyson’ all three releases received rightful acclaim with Mic Tyson considered Price’s best work to date. Proving that the already incredibly talented MC was just getting better and better. Between his solo efforts Sean Price continued to release music with Heltah Skeltah and Boot Camp Clik, he formed Supergroup Random Axe alongside producer Black Milk and MC Guilty Simpson, releasing the self-titled 'Random Axe' album in 2011 which garnered instant classic status, and throughout his career he made regular guest appearances alongside prominent artists, particularly in the underground and independent scene, constantly proving his ability on the mic no matter who he appeared with.
Sean Price’s Raspy voice and rugged delivery is distinct in the Hip Hop industry. He became known for his intricate lyricism, humour, hard-body rhymes and intelligent word play, and also by the way his delivery always commanded a beat.
When asked in the book ‘How To Rap’ about flow and delivery, he said:
‘It’s down to attaching flow to the beat. …Like Bruce Lee said, if the water is in the jug, it becomes that jug. If water is in that bowl, it becomes that bowl. That’s how I approach it.’
Sean Price passed away in his sleep on Saturday August 8th 2015, aged 43, he was in fact working on his latest album before his untimely death, lets hope some of that material sees the light of day, Because if there’s one thing we can make certain of the late great Sean Price it’s that his legacy will rightfully live on in his music, which was always of the highest quality.
You can pick up ‘Songs In The Key Of Price’ from any major online UK retailer as of today. As with all his releases, the mixtape is brimming with the witty, gritty, clever and humorous verses Price has come to be so well known for. The man was a true MC, sticking to the roots of Hip Hop. Beats and rhymes with meaning, nothing more and nothing less. The way it should be.
Support a legend, and the family of a legend.
Rest In Paradise Sean (Ruck) Price. You join a list of greats taken from us way too soon.
17 September 2015
14 September 2015
In the Zone, produced by Proclaim Knowledge. Taken from the All I Can Do LP out now on Room2 Records. Another Mancunion master piece from Room2. There carrying the flag for UK hip hop at the moment and its so refreshing.
11 September 2015
A supergroup is a group formed by artists or acts which already have prior success in the industry. Like a collaboration between established artists but on a permanent (intended) basis. Many hip hop supergroups fail to live up to their potential and a great many more are planned and talked about but never officially come together, So the following is a list of hip hop supergroups that have actually achieved genuine success. ...mostly.
A few ground rules before going forward. To make it on this list a supergroup must consist of at least 3 members, with at least two of those members having achieved some kind of success BEFORE the formation of their supergroup. They must also have released a minimum of one album during their time together.
Right, let’s get rolling.
Albums: The Horsemen Project (2003)
Albums: Random Axe (2011)
Albums: Stereotypez (2007)
Notes: I've heard some people debate whether D.I.T.C. is actually a supergroup… I’m ignoring them.
Albums: The Conspiracy (2003)
Notes: I’m bending the rules here with The Weathermen as their only official release ‘The Conspiracy’ was more a compilation/mixtape than an album, but this is my list so I can bend the rules. The group did intend to record an album titled ‘The New Left’, however, multiple members left before recording could begin. The Weathermen ultimately disbanded after the death of Camu Tao, with Cage confirming they wouldn’t release new material without him. Shame.
Members: Apathy, Celph Titled, Esoteric, Ryu, Blacastan, Motive (Former members include Reflex, Open Mic, Louis Logic, Rise, DJ Cheapshot, Tak, Vin Skully, Chum The Skrilla Guerilla, Jabberjaw, Eternia, 7L, Feedback, Naptron, L-Fudge, One Two, Mr Mayday, Emilio Lopez, Metropolis, Spin 4th)
Notes: Demigodz wasn’t a supergroup at all when it was founded by Open Mic and Reflex back in 1990, Apathy joined shortly after and since then both founding MCs have left. Members have come and gone over the years but the current line-up is arguably the strongest ever and consists of multiple well established MCs/Producers.
Boot Camp Clik
La Coka Nostra
Notes: I got a lot of flak for not including Gravediggaz in the hip hop groups list. Well now you might understand why. Before the formation of Gravediggaz Frukwan had prior success with Stetsasonic, Prince Paul was also with Stetsasonic and made a name for himself producing for De La Soul, and RZA produced for Wu Tang Clan. Together they are a supergroup. End of.
Albums: The Hard Way (2004)
Notes: 213 actually existed (loosely) before they were famous, but I’m pretty certain they had no intention of releasing an album together until they had achieved individual success. So I’ll let this one go.
Army Of The Pharaohs
Members: Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled, Crypt The Warchild, Des Devious, Esoteric, King Syze, Planetary, Reef The Lost Cauze, Apathy, Demoz, Doap Nixon, Block McCloud, Blacastan, Zilla, King Magnetic, Lawrence Arnell (Former members include Jus Allah, Chief Kamachi, 7L, Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind, Faez One, Journalist, Virtuoso, Bahamadia)
Albums: The Album (1997)
Notes: Formed in 96 and disbanded in 98, why? Because The Album sucked. The Firm made the list solely as an example of wasted potential.
There you have it. 16 hip hop supergroups for your listening pleasure.
05 September 2015
Ever wondered what £R is? Well C-Biz explains all in this interesting interview. I haven't heard too much about this guy in the past if I'm honest, I'd never seen the Cowboy freestyles but it's an interesting interview to say the least. I have to admit i've always rated guys who turn up to interviews with presents (special mention to English Frank) and C-Biz does not disappoint with a case of rose bubbles, pouring the man dem a glass. As the interview continues if feels more and more like I'm watching 4 guys pretending to do and English version of an old school late 80s US gangster rap interview. The money, the bling, the girls, the bubbles; but its not... They're straight out of South Kilburn.
With the rise of Trap on both sides of the pond we're seeing more and more Trap rappers popping up all over the place. What it really says is there a lot of people trapping i suppose, or everyone's on a grind in their own way. Whether you agree with his methods, he is pioneering a whole style of music emerging from the UK at the moment and it's definitely a movement to watch. Even purely for entertainment as much as music. Lets just hope it doesn't end up like 2-pac & Biggie.
04 September 2015
Back in 1968 a comedian/entertainer named Pigmeat Markham released a record called 'Here Comes The Judge' in which he played the role of a judge dispensing comedic judgement on a series of defendants.
'Uhh, Uh, Judge, Your Honour Pigmeat Sir, Don't you remember me?'
'No, Who are you boy?'
'Well I'm the fella who introduced you to your wife.'
'To my Wife!? Life! You son of a gun you!'
The record was made with Pigmeat Markham speaking in rhythm and rhyme over a steady beat. The particular beat here is especially notable for containing a characteristic funk drum pattern common in early rap music and reminiscent of Boom-Bap Hip Hop of the early 90s.
In 1979 The Sugarhill Gang released the first hit rap record with ‘Rapper's Delight’, and in 1973 DJ Kool Herc was the first to form the basis of straight rap music by constructing an elongated funk drum beat using two turntables whilst speaking vocals over the top, But Pigmeat Markham deserves recognition for releasing one of the earliest records to contain fundamental elements of rap music way back in 1968.
Even if you're not a fan of the genre it's worth listening to this great record for a little bit of musical history. Plus, you get a snippet of Pigmeat Markham's brilliant comedy routine 'The Trial' which is still comedy gold even after 47 years.