Archive for the 'Features' Category

The Making of Jewelz with O.C.

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

1997 was a crazy year for New York rap music. In many ways, the scene was thriving, with Jay-Z and Nas on the brink of superstardom, and the Wu-Tang Clan making international noise. But the biggest artist of them all—Biggie Smalls—was murdered in March, two weeks before his sophomore double album was set to drop. It was a loss unfathomable to the Big Apple hip-hop community, and it forced the rest of B.I.G.’s peers to step up and rep even more to fill the massive void.

With pride and perseverance, that’s what they did. Biggie’s Bad Boy brethren Puff Daddy and Mase turned tragedy into triumph with a series of platinum hits. Jay and Nas continued to excel, and would go on to lyrically duel for the King of New York slot. And in the midst of it all, New York continued to show its depth, with talented rappers emerging and evolving throughout the five boroughs.

One artist in particular who had shown promise in the past was D.I.T.C. representative O.C. The Brooklyn MC was coming off his stellar debut Word…Life in 1994, which spawned underground hits like “Born 2 Live” and “Time’s Up,” and a critically-acclaimed appearance on the DJ Premier-produced single “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” alongside Chubb Rock and Jeru The Damaja. And in the summer of ‘97, he was set to drop his sophomore album Jewelz, and show the rap world that in the wake of Biggie’s death, there was another godly MC from the streets of Brooklyn worth worshipping.

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In The Lab with Roc Marciano (Rosebudd Edition)

Monday, February 27th, 2017

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Last time we were In The Lab with Roc Marciano, it was 2013, and he was in Los Angeles cooking up Marci Beaucoup, his self-produced, collabo-heavy compilation album featuring a who’s who of rap fan favorites (Action Bronson, Freeway, Ka and Blu to name a few). Now, almost four years later, we return to discuss his new solo masterpiece Rosebudd’s Revenge, which is out now digitally with limited edition vinyl and CDs available for pre-order HERE.

For loyal Roc Marciano fans, Rosebudd’s Revenge is another pristine body of work that encompasses everything we love about his past albums, from the envelope-pushing production to the God-level lyricism. So the question becomes, how does he keep doing it? I mean, we all know of artists that have put out classics and then dropped a dud or two. But that’s far from the case here.

Step back In The Lab with Roc Marciano as we go behind the beats and bars to talk about the creation of his latest LP, and uncover how one of the dopest MC/producers of all-time just keeps getting doper. Plus much more.

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In The Lab with Avenue

Friday, February 17th, 2017

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

I first encountered Boston rapper Avenue’s music in mid-2015 on a friend of mine’s blog. It was a video for his song “SPILT MILK,” and there was something about his modern take on classic street rap that struck me. He had his own style and sound with strong traces of golden era grit, but it was also deeply rooted in the millennial mindset of the new school hustler. I was intrigued, so I did what any rap fan should do when they discover a new artist’s music they like—I started following and supporting.

It’s now a year-and-a-half later, and Avenue’s new project Mass Ave and Lenox is on my short list of most anticipated rap releases of 2017. It started with the first single “Party’s Over (Ringing Off),” a captivating banger complete with block-wise bars, hard drums and smart samples. It was apparent with this drop that Ave’s writing and ear had matured during his hiatus. Clearly Avenue, along with his production partners Frank The Butcher and Arcitype aka Cooking To Kill, were preparing to put Boston back on the rap map in a real way.

As we rapidly approach the release of Mass Ave and Lenox, we thought now was an appropriate time to get Avenue on the horn for our latest In The Lab, and get a feel for how him and his team get down in Beantown when it comes to putting a new project together. It turns out it’s a lot of what you’d expect (beats, rhymes, and blunts), but there seems to be an extra layer of thought and craftsmanship going into their collective process, because they know the legacy of their city is on the line. Go In The Lab with Avenue, the new pride of Boston, below.

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Diggin’ In The Crates: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 8)

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

It’s time to take a break from all the current shit that’s popping on your playlists right now and dive into our latest edition of Twelve Jewelz. It’s been a minute since we served up a batch of throwback gems from the ’90s and early 2000s, but trust that we never stopped digging. Enjoy our latest hand-picked selection—it just may be the last in the series, so please savor it.

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In The Lab with Daringer

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Beneath the brazy bars spit by Buffalo-bred brothers Westside Gunn and Conway, you will commonly hear sample-based soundscapes crafted by a buzz-worthy producer from the same city—Daringer. In the past year, this three-headed monster has ushered in a new wave of hard body hip-hop, keeping that real street shit many of us grew up on alive and well. And Daringer has been at the helm, spearheading the production on celebrated Griselda Records projects like Flygod and Reject 2, not to mention a shitload of Soundcloud loosies and EPs. And though they’re steeped in tradition, Daringer’s beats are not just batches of recycled ‘90s nostalgia. Instead, he’s putting his own stamp on the sample-flip style with a stripped-down signature sound that has earned the respect of legends in the game like Alchemist and DJ Premier.

It’s not easy to go back to basics and still help push the genre forward, which is what intrigues us most about Daringer’s discography thus far. So we hopped on the horn with him to find out how he constructs his tracks, and dug into some interesting personal history along the way. Plus, we got a feel for the vibe in his Buffalo-based, crib-set studio, the stories behind some of our favorite cuts, and what it’s like to record with two of the illest new dudes in the game. Let’s take a trip upstate, shall we? It’s time to get In The Lab with Daringer.

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Heavy Rotation with Brandon Wardell

Friday, August 19th, 2016


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

“I feel like there’s a 70 percent chance that Drake knows who I am.” That quote pretty much sums up how popping Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell pictures himself at the moment—which seems accurate. His Twitter timeline is littered with viral memes and verified-to-verified interactions (most recently Jhene Aiko), he’s IRL friends with rappers like Heems and Asher Roth, and he’s been seen doing stand up on Viceland and Comedy Central (he also hosts a Hot Takes show on CC’s Snapchat channel).

So—if he hasn’t already—it’s only a matter of time before Drake catches wind of Wardell’s bit about What A Time To Be Alive or the OVO “Work” video sweatsuit style he served up at the MTV Movie Awards and deems himself a superfan across all social media channels. But until then, consider Brandon Wardell a rising comedic star with hip-hop head sensibility and a look that he’s jokingly described as “an anime character,” or even better, “What a Japanese businessman jerks off to.”

For this edition of Heavy Rotation, we connected with Brandon to discuss what songs he’s been listening to lately when he’s “extremely off the kush.” Coincidentally, he has his own “Heavy Rotation” Spotify playlist, and he was more than happy to share his faves from it. Read all about them below.

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Editorial: 10 Loosies You May Have Slept On In 2016 (So Far)

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Another day, another rap song is released. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? It takes time and effort to weed through the wack shit and find the fire in the midst of so many daily drops. But it’s a process that the true heads love and take pride in. Discovering a sick new song is invigorating, right?

Being that the first half of this year has been absolutely flooded with new music, I spent some time digging through my music archives to pick out ten loosies that should not be slept on in the midst of the meyhem. These are the non-album cuts that made a real impact on me when I first heard them, and are still in my heavy rotation leading into the summer. Listen below.

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In The Lab with Nesby Phips

Friday, June 10th, 2016

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Don’t try to put Nesby Phips in a box. For the past decade, the New Orleans native has been on his grind as a producer, lacing heavy hitters like Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa, and Action Bronson with carefully crafted tracks (check out Spitta and Bam Bam’s “Godfather 4,” a personal favorite). And he’s been putting in work with the pen, too, making a name for himself as a sought after MC who’s always good for a solid project or slick feature. Whether you want beats or bars, Nesby Phips is fully equipped.

But that’s not all. Nesby’s a renaissance man of sorts, whose passion extends beyond the MPC and the M-I-C—he’s also an avid painter and well-respected (and connected) barber who’s been cutting hair since high school. In fact, that’s how he built relationships with many of the artists he’s worked with over the years.

For our latest In The Lab, we spoke to Nesby Phips about his first recording experiences, how he lost almost all his production equipment to looters after Hurricane Katrina, and what his current creative routine entails. And we discussed the eye-opening time he spent working out of Dame Dash’s famed DD172 gallery in New York City, collaborating with living legends like Ski Beatz and others.

Plus, we chopped it up about his recent contributions to Lil Wayne’s new mobile game Sqvad Up (download HERE)—which he produced all the music and sounds for. And much, much more.

Welcome to Hollygrove.

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In The Lab with Lex Luger

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Warning—Lex Luger is locked and loaded. The Virginia-bred producer—best known for early ‘10s bangers like Waka Flocka Flame’s “Hard in the Paint,” Rick Ross and Styles P’s “B.M.F.,” and Jay Z and Kanye West’s “H.A.M.”—is still hard at work in 2016 pumping out next level joints. And his latest placement, A$AP Ferg’s collabo with ScHoolboy Q “Let It Bang,” is further proof that Lex Luger is an upper echelon beat king poised to push the limits more than ever this year.

For our latest In The Lab, we connected with Lex Luger to discuss what he uses to craft his tracks, what the vibe is like when he’s creating, and what he’s learned over the years about working with artists. Plus, he runs through the making of his most notable songs (including the story behind his Electric Ladyland studio session with Kanye, Jay, and Beyonce), discusses how spending time with guys like Juicy J and A-Trak affected his outlook on beatmaking, and breaks down his new instrumental project, Lex Luger Experience: The Tour, Vol. 1. Roll up peoples, this is a good one.

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15 Classic Biggie Smalls Live Performances

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

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Words by Daniel Isenberg

The Notorious B.I.G. is often remembered for his short but potent discography. Both Ready To Die and Life After Death are certified classics, as is pretty much every verse he ever laid to wax. But let’s be clear—Biggie was an incredible live performer, too. For an MC of his size and stature, he had top-notch breath control and an unparalleled stage presence. And whether he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a Coogi sweater, a butter soft leather or a tuxedo, his style was always on point.

Rather than wait until the anniversary of Biggie’s death on March 9th, we thought we’d set the month off by celebrating his life and music right now with our latest Video Vault featuring 15 Classic Biggie Smalls Live Performances. From the streets of Brooklyn to the stages of London, and with appearances by everyone (Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Method Man, Nas, Jay Z, Puff, Lil’ Kim, etc), this is a collection of live B.I.G. clips that we all should cherish every day of the year.


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