Friday 29 July 2016

DMX freestyles tape (1996)

It's easy to forget that in the late 90s DMX was one of the biggest artists on the planet. Admittedly alot of people weren't keen on him and Swizz Beatz's production wasn't for everyone, especially if you were bumping Shawn J Period and Hi Tek at the time. Dude is a more than competent rapper though so if the keyboards and barking put you off back in the day I'd still suggest giving this a try. I don't think this has been online before, and it finds the Darkman in a considerably less amped mode than he was known for. You'd expect a rapper on the come up in '96 to be rhyming off things like Shook Ones and Who Shot Ya but Earl goes with a less predictable selection of instrumentals. Omniscence's 'Touch Yall', LL's 'Hey Lover' and the 'Wu Wear' beat all get laced, plus there's 3 takes over 'If I Ruled The World'. They vary slightly so I left them all in. The tape itself is fully no frills. Literally just someone playing the beat and DMX rapping over it. No multitracking or added adlibs etc...

I didn't have a cover or tracklist so I've just named the tracks after the instrumentals, apart from a few I couldn't recognise. Big up Grime & Lime for throwing this one my way. Go see him for mixtapes.

Thursday 21 July 2016

The Firm - La Familia (1996)

As you might already be aware, a recent collaborative effort on the Philaflava forum resulted in a reconstruction of The Firm album, re-imagining the track selection as it should've been. It's one of those releases thats generally considered a bit underwhelming, mostly due to it being less than the sum of its parts. The highs are high but the lows aren't really what the people involved should have put their names to in 1996. During the course of the discussion, the subject of 'La Familia' was raised. This was a song I'd kind of forgotten about since having it on a Future Flavas tape back in the day, but it turns out it's only official release was as a clean version on Foxy Brown's 'I'll Be' single, and Cormega's verse had been replaced by one from Nature after the group's line up changed. Save for a couple of mixtapes and poor quality youtube rips, the original was nowhere to be found. You can probably see where this post is going.
A quick check on my shelves turned up this bootleg 12" with the uncensored version featuring Cormega. So here it is. Shout out to DJ Filthy Rich for cleaning up the pops and crackles for me.

The Firm: How It Should've Been

The 12" is well worth picking up if you see it, as it also includes the original version of 'Benjamins' without Biggie and 'You'll See' (another promo only Bad Boy track). The Tracey Lee/Canibus/McGruff joint is also unreleased.

Friday 15 July 2016

Don't Sleep #12
FT 'Stand Up' (2000)

If you have an interest in late 90s/early 00s indie rap you're probably familiar with FT from his Tru Criminal/Street Smartz releases. I've selected the lesser known 'Stand Up' for this installment of Don't Sleep as it's kind of different to a lot of what his peers were doing at the time, especially with the high hats + double time flow combo at 2:42 as NY was still a way off adopting the dirty south style at this point. Dipset's JR Writer used pretty much the same beat about 8 years later and you can't say that about too many indie joints from the turn of the century...

Turns out that this is produced by a dude called Rodney Hunter who might not be a big name in rap circles but he did produce the dope 'Boundaries' by Leena Conquest which I used at the start of my recent Technics & Chill mix.
'Stand Up' was recorded for Stretch Armstrong's 'Spit' compilation, although I discovered it by way of what was possibly the best cover mounted freebie CD of all time, given away with HHC back in the day. I know everyone brings up the Soundbombing, New York Reality Check and Lyricist Lounge CDs as the era defining compilations of the independent Hip Hop boom but that Landspeed compilation bodies them all in my opinion.

Unkut: The 90s Files - FT of Street Smartz

Friday 1 July 2016

DJ Step One - So 90s Volume 3

First of the month so here's the mix for July. Back firmly in my comfort zone for this one. Chucked in a few treats like the original version of Ghostface's 'Box In Hand' and Pac's 'Got My Mind Made Up' with the full Inspectah Deck verse.

The Alkaholiks ft Q Tip – All The Way Live
Mad Skillz – The Nod Factor
LL Cool J – No Airplay (bootleg version)
Kenny Dope – Get On Down
Ten Thieves – Black Reign
Beatnuts – Get Funky
E Rule – Listen Up
Gang Starr ft Jeru The Damaja – Speak Ya Clout
Group Home – Suspended In Time
Kool G Rap – Blowin Up In The World
Extra Prolific – Go Back To School
OC – What I Represent
Big Jaz ft Sauce Money & Jay Z – Foundation
Mobb Deep ft Raekwon – Nightime Vultures
Tragedy – The Judas Theory
Dobie – The B Boy Anthem
Erick Sermon ft Keith Murray – Hostile
Goodie Mob – Dirty South (West Up blend)
Mic Geronimo – Hemmin Heads
Heltah Skeltah – Operation Lockdown
Notorious BIG ft Sadat X – Come On
Ghostface Killah ft Streetlife & Method Man – Box In Hand (original version)
2Pac ft Dogg Pound, Redman, Method Man & Inspectah Deck – Got My Mind Made Up (full unreleased version)