September 18, 2018

Jermaine Dupri - Life In 1472: The Original Soundtrack (July 21, 1998)




I truly believe that most producers and CEOs in hip hop are content with their behind-the-scenes roles, happy to let the artists invade the public eye while they quietly count all of the money. There are obvious outliers, though: folks like Puff Daddy aspire to be just as famous as their young charges, if not infinitely more so. Typically when a producer or label head becomes a star in their own right, however, there’s a field in which they lack: for example, Puffy doesn’t write any of his own rhymes, and the vast majority of his production work is outsourced to his team of Hitmen. Dr. Dre and Timbaland work with multiple collaborators, sometimes all on a single track, and tend to accept full credit when they don’t really put in any of the work. Or you’re Kanye West. But these names represent but a small percentage of beatmakers within our chosen genre: not everyone wishes to hog the spotlight.

Today we’re going to focus on someone who definitely believes he earned his time to shine: Jermaine Dupri. And he may be correct.

September 11, 2018

My Gut Reaction: Black Rob - The Black Rob Report (October 18, 2005)


Pose the question, “Who is the best rapper from Harlem?”, and you’re likely to get several different responses. A younger hip hop head may bring A$AP Rocky into the conversation, or you may run into a fan of Dave East or Smoke DZA. The older demographic may spit out the late Big L’s name automatically, as though they had been waiting their entire life to answer your query, or, just to be subversive, they may throw Cam’Ron into the mix. Someone could throw Azealia Banks’ name into the conversation and honestly mean it. If you manage to get some actual rap artists to participate, you may hears responses as varied as Ma$e, Doug E. Fresh, or Kurtis Blow. You may get a smart-ass who’ll name-drop 2Pac on a technicality. Just know that anyone responding with Herb McGruff is trolling you and doesn’t deserve your attention.

Alter your question to read “Spanish Harlem”, however, and you’ll likely only get one answer: Robert “Black Rob” Ross.

September 4, 2018

Ludacris - Release Therapy (September 26, 2006)



Prior to the release of his sixth full-length solo album, Release Therapy, rapper-slash-actor Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges wished to announce a shift in the tone of his upcoming work. Although better known for boasts-n-bullshit that fell more in the “lightly goofy” category (which his most popular singles portray, such as “Saturday (Oooh! Ooooh!)”, “Southern Hospitality”, and “Rollout (My Business)”), Chris wanted to dive into more serious topics of discussion, and with that naturally comes a different sound. So he did what any film writer would have a character do so to signal the change visually instead of through copious amounts of dialogue: Ludacris cut his hair.

And his braids have yet to returned, even to this day. Which may be more the result of a clause in his Fast & Furious franchise contract than anything else, but let’s pretend it has more significance.

August 28, 2018

Reader Review: MC Face - Not The Green Tom Show (June 20, 1998)




(For today’s Reader Review, we’re going the less serious route, as Mathieu Frasier submitted his thoughts for the rather rare album from MC Face, Not The Tom Green Show. For the purposes of this lone project, MC Face was the alter-ego of Canadian comedian and former MTV talk show host Tom Green, which is a weird creative choice, as he has other albums under his own name. Anyway. Leave your thoughts for Mathieu below.)

August 21, 2018

Black Milk - Album Of The Year (September 14, 2010)





It was a Saturday night, I think, and my friends and I were at the second bar of the evening. Aside from some flashing lights, it was fairly dim inside, and music was blaring in my ears (most likely New Wave, given my well-documented preferences, but I honestly can’t remember) while conversations around me were being both attempted and abandoned. I was already five or six drinks in, so I have absolutely no idea how I even got to the second location in the first place, as this was before Uber was a thing, but that isn’t the story. The only place you could even dream of being heard by another human being was by the bar itself, so obviously I stuck around there instead of moving to a table or a couch, because when you’re that drunk and you choose to sit down, you’re not getting back up without a fight, and you become useless, let’s be real.

August 14, 2018

My Gut Reaction: DJ Muggs - Soul Assassins: Dia del Asesinato (August 10, 2018)


The Lawrence “DJ Muggs” Muggerud comeback tour continues today on HHID. After squirreling away in the club during his dubstep year, and then retreating to South Africa to record with rap group Die Antwoord under the alias “The Black Goat”, Muggerud returned to his hip hop roots in the fall of 2017 with Gems From The Equinox, a collaborative effort with Queens rapper Meyhem Lauren released and distributed by his own Soul Assassins Records, named after the artist collective he formed during his early days in Cypress Hill. Another DJ Muggs Vs. project with Roc Marciano entitled KAOS was promised, and still is, I’m guessing, but instead of dropping that effort, Muggs opted to unleash the leftover songs from Gems in the form of the vinyl-only Frozen Angels EP (which made Max happy anyway, not just because it contained some great fucking songs, but hey, no Roc Marcy), and this fall, he’s getting back together with Cypress Hill to release Elephants On Acid, the group’s ninth full-length album. So it’s safe to assume his return to hip hop is at least for the long-term, if not permanent.

Before B-Real and Sen Dog get another opportunity to shout into microphones while stoned, however, Muggs has given us Soul Assassins: Dia del Asesinato, the fourth project credited to the Soul Assassins.

August 7, 2018

Reader Review: MC Solaar - Prose Combat (February 9, 1994)




(Today’s Reader Review is kind of special, if by “special” you mean “holy shit, Max has been holding on to this submission for four fucking years? What the hell is his problem?” Yes, it’s true: back in 2014, Tochi sent me his pitch for French rapper MC Solaar’s second album, Prose Combat, which I promptly held onto , as I had different plans for the site at the time. And then I vanished for two years. But hey, with Tochi’s blessing, it’s here today, so leave some comments for him.)