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Diggin’ In The Crates: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 2)


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

We’re still diggin’, y’all. Yes, this is another edition of the new NahRight column Twelve Jewelz, focusing in on gems from rap’s yesteryear. This week, we’ve got a dozen joints by everyone from Gang Starr to Biggie to State Property. Just a reminder and a heads up for those who missed Volume One—Twelve Jewelz was created to take a break from the daily onslaught of new music to revisit some rarities from the ’90s and early 2000s. This is not an attempt to overly-impress you with shit you’ve never heard, but rather highlight some past favorites for you to bump (that you may or may not be up on). Hope you enjoy the selection. Let’s dig.


1. Gang Starr “Gotta Get Over (Taking Loot) Remix”

This is one of those rare instances when a Gang Starr record was remixed by an outside producer. And Large Pro fucked around and hit it out of the park! All praises due to DJ Premier, but even he would probably admit that Extra P got him on this remix of Gang Starr’s Trespass soundtrack jam. For those interested in the back story, check out my Complex interview with Large Pro from a few years back where we spoke about the making of the remix.



2. Casual ft. A-Plus “That’s How It Is – Part II”

“I’m making the microphone laugh at y’all.” A sequel to Fear Itself’s first single, “That’s How It Is – Part II” features Casual and Souls of Mischief member A-Plus going in over production by Hiero’s in-house disc jockey Toure. It’s a complete revamping of the original, and was first released on the B-Side to Casual’s classic follow-up second single from Fear Itself, “I Didn’t Mean To.” There’s no question that Hieroglyphics is one of the most talented crews in the history of hip-hop, and this is a lesser-known smidgen of their greatness.



3. Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard ft. The Notorious B.I.G. and Lord Tariq “Think Big”

Biggie always had the ability to force your finger to hit the rewind button. “Big Poppa, throwin’ niggas off of cliffs/Smokin’ spliffs, disappearing with my bitch in a Mitsubishi Eclipse…” Crazy flow. Plus he had punchlines, like, “Niggas is ass out like fat bitches in bikinis.” Fuck, man. I remember having this on a Clue tape when it first came out, and playing it over and over and over forever. Bronx heavy hitters Pudgee and Lord Tariq come off on this joint too with the hard bars. But unfortunately, it was never officially released due to sample clearance issues. According to an interview Pudgee did with Unkut, the women in Donny Hathaway’s family felt the song contained too many curses. Horseshit! In the end, another version dropped, with Sadat X sliding in to replace B.I.G. in the lineup.



4. Jay Z “Bad Boy Vol. 3 Freestyle”

Puffy linked up with Stretch Armstrong in the early months of 1996 for the third installment of his Bad Boy mixtape series, and he scored a freestyle from a pre-Reasonable Doubt Hov, who talked his shit over LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya” instrumental. It’s kinda crazy to think that at the time of this freestyle, even rap fans immersed in the culture weren’t fully up on Jay yet, but that would all change shortly.



5. Bounty Killer ft. Raekwon “War Face (Ask Fi War) Remix”

NahRight is for the people. And one cultured cat by the name of Bucky Turco hit us up, praising the format of Twelve Jewelz and saying that he wanted to steal it to do the same with dancehall gems. Well Bucky, we appreciate the love, so this one’s for you. You probably remember this one, but for those who don’t, Bounty Killer and Raekwon linked up about two decades ago for a war-ready collabo that first appeared on Doo Wop’s Blunt Special Blends EP before landing on Bounty’s My Xperience album. It’s as hard as you would expect from these two, with Bounty Killer leading the way, and Rae interjecting with two dope verses. Gunshot!



6. Pumpkinhead “WNYU Freestyle”

I used to stay up mad late recording Mayhem and DJ Riz’s show on WNYU back in the day. That, and Stretch and Bobbito, were the main spots on the FM dial to hear all the new ill shit in New York. They would get joints before the mixtape DJs a lot of the times, too. Anyway, one night this dude who I had never heard of, Pumpkinhead, hopped on and spit some crazy shit live on-air, and I was like, “Hold up, who is this cat?!” Thankfully, I caught it on tape. Yo, I used to play this non-stop. He starts up by rocking over Saukrates’ “Father Time,” before flipping into a fun, off the dome freestyle over De La and Common’s “The Bizness.”

Just a footnote to this story. I cherished this recording forever, but had laid some of my own Ipcus rhymes on the other side of it one night due to lack of blanks in the stash. Then, I went to to go visit my boy in Philly to see The Roots one night at Villanova, and we met Questlove after the show hanging around outside the venue. I reminded him of the time I rapped on stage with him in NYC, and he was mad cool and asked if I had something he could hear. I ran back to my whip, grabbed the tape, wrote my number on it, and gave it to him. Never heard from Quest after that, but thanks to the Internet, I got this freestyle back! Props to my dude DJ Nes who blessed me with the audio to this last year. I was buggin’ when he sent it to me. This is some priceless New York radio shit for the true underground heads.



7. Mobb Deep “True Lies”

Mobb Deep has so many mixtape classics in their back catalog, it’s ridiculous. And this is one of them. “True Lies” contains a portion of Pee’s “Nighttime Vultures” verse, but extended with some other bars, too. And Hav does what he does to complement the crack. But yo, I can’t stress to you how much I love this beat, ever since I first heard it on a Clue tape back in ‘96! So fucking tough. Shouts to J-Love for liberating this on the first volume of his Mobb Misses series.



8. N.O.R.E. “Noreminati”

Noreaga took a stab at fellow Queens MC Tragedy Khadafi’s “Alluminati” beat on this B-Side release from CNN’s “Bloody Money” single, which was pressed up on red and green vinyl and given the title Have a Very N.O.R.E. Christmas and a Thugged Out New Year. The double-promo vinyl also featured another classic N.O.R.E. B-Side “Married to Marijuana.” But for rap fans who love that The War Report-era Noreaga super-fire, this one is right up your alley.



9. 50 Cent “Many Men (Pudgee-P Mix)”

It seems easy enough to do, but it’s really not all that simple to construct a great rap blend. So when I hear one that works extremely well, I cherish it. This is one of those. Props to mixtape DJ Pudgee-P for this fantastic mix that takes 50 Cent’s “Many Men” vocals and perfectly places them over Dr. Dre’s “Bitch Niggaz” instrumental. Ride to this.



10. Peedi Crakk, Freeway, and Omillio Sparks “Ring The Alarm”

State Property was such a problem in their prime. And these three dudes right here were my personal faves from the crew, so to hear them all get busy on a sparse but banging track like this was truly a treat. These guys were so ferocious on beats, it’s not even funny. I still knock this album-worthy rarity like it’s brand new, and you should too.



11. AZ ft. Nas “The Essence (Remix)”

Nas and AZ have tag-teamed a decent amount of untouchable records together, from “Life’s a Bitch” to “Mo Money, Mo Murder ‘Homicide’” to more slept-on but just as fire joints like “Serious.” “The Essence,” off Aziatic, is one that belongs on that list as well, and this remix of it needs to be embraced. Big ups to DJ Thoro, he had this on one of his mixtapes before I had ever heard it anywhere else, and it found a permanent home on the B-Side of AZ’s “Feel Good” single.



12. Redman “I See Dead People” (Prod. by Eminem)

I’m not sure why this never was properly released, but Redman rapping over Eminem production with the haunting vocal samples of late legends Big Pun, Biggie, Big L, and 2Pac mixed into the raps is one of the illest things to ever be recorded in the 21st century. Big ups to Big Mike, I heard this on his Year of the Rookie Part One tape, early.

Download Link: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 2)

Twelve Jewelz artwork by TJ Bennett.

Images courtesy of Discogs, Wax Poetics, and the Westcheddar archives.

Previously: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 1)

Catch up on all other NahRight features HERE.

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