Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic LOX Mixtape Cuts

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Yonkers rap group The LOX—Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch—have without question cemented themselves as one of the hardest and most consistent crews in the history of the NYC mixtape game. Their stint on the scene, starting with their entrance as Bad Boy artists alongside The Notorious B.I.G. in 1996 and continuing well through their D-Block days in the 21st century, is nothing short of legendary, impactful, and influential. You can make a case that The Diplomats and G-Unit belong in the discussion of “best NYC-based mixtape rap group ever” as well, but of the three cliques, them LOX boys’ run lasted the longest. And they’re still going too, dropping new material together in 2014, with a full-length release in the works.

To help celebrate Styles P’s new album release on our very own NMC Music Group record label (pre-order here), we thought it would be the appropriate time to highlight the wealth of heat his home team The LOX gave us via mixtapes back in the day for our latest Mixtape Memories list. Here are twenty group mixtape joints that we hand-picked from their bottomless pit of recordings (no solo shit), equipped with original mixtape audio for you to stream and download at your leisure. YO stand up.

1. The LOX ft. The Notorious B.I.G. “You’ll See” (off Stretch Armstrong and Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Mixtape Vol. 3

The LOX officially made their grand entrance into the rap game as Bad Boy artists in early 1996 when their posse cut with labelmate The Notorious B.I.G. “You’ll See” set off Side A of Stretch Armstrong’s Bad Boy Mixtape Vol. 3. It wasn’t often that an unknown act would be the first voices you would hear on a major mixtape release, but we all tuned in to listen to the exclusive Biggie verse, and were pleasantly surprised by how undeniably dope Styles P, Jadakiss, and Sheek Louch were too. A new rap group was on the scene, and Bad Boy’s roster was now that much stronger.

 

2. The LOX “Back 2 Back” (off DJ Clue’s Show Me the Money)

DJ Clue championed The LOX early on, and to set off his Show Me the Money tape, he got The LOX to spit over the DJ Premier-produced remix of Showbiz & A.G.’s single “Next Level.” And boy did they go in. Jada spits, “You ain’t got chips? Fuck the world/You got chips? You could fuck the next man’s girl,” while Styles compares himself to “the blunt three in the morning you take to the head” before letting Sheek loose in the caboose spot. A lotta rewind buttons were abused listening to this!

3. The LOX ft. Kasino “Well, Well, Well” (off DJ Clue’s Show Me the Money)

Of course Clue always came with multiple exclusives, and in addition to the freestyle to set off Side A on Show Me the Money, he got his hands on an unreleased LOX cut with their cronie Kasino on it, which features a dope flip of the Cheers theme song on the chorus, as Jada sings with smooth raspiness, “Just making your way in the world today takes everything you got/Being involved with all this money sure do help a lot.” The laid-back beat is crazy, too, as is Styles’ opening verse, where he lets wack rappers know, “I’m in the whip, playing your shit, I fast-forward you.”

 

4. The LOX “Freestyle” (off DJ S&S’ Bad Boy Mixtape Vol. 4)

We recently interviewed DJ S&S (now spelled SNS) for our Mixtape Memories series, and spoke to him about his involvement in the Bad Boy mixtape series. In addition to an exclusive freestyle from Biggie, Puff also laced him with something special from Bad Boy’s Yonkers trio, where Styles, Sheek, and Kiss spit hard bars over Case and Foxy Brown’s “Touch Me, Tease Me” instrumental. Hot.

 

5. The Notorious B.I.G. & The LOX “Freestyle” (off Funkmaster Flex’s The Mixtape Volume II: 60 Minutes of Funk)

Unfortunately, Biggie and The LOX didn’t have the opportunity to make a ton of tracks together, so it’s a must that we cherish recordings like this Funk Flex freestyle over Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” instrumental, where the four Bad Boys once again get busy back-to-back. Thankfully, we’d get to hear them team up one more time on B.I.G.’s Life After Death album cut “Last Day,” but it was a somber moment, knowing that it was the last of their in-studio collabos.

 

6. The LOX ft. Mase “Hot 97 Freestyle” (off DJ Self’s The LOX Family Pt. 1)

For fans of radio freestyles, this Hot 97 recording of Puff Daddy introducing us one-by-one to his newest Bad Boy artists on Funkmaster Flex’s show should whet your appetite. Biggie wasn’t in the house for this freestyle session (Puff requests that he call up and spit over the phone though), but he would appear once with the crew on Hot 97 before his death to represent.

 

7. Richie Thumbs ft. The LOX “Thumbs Up” (off DJ Clue’s Holiday Hold Up 1996)

“We need our own Republic, just like the Dominicans.” This is a gem right here from The LOX and their homeboy Richie Thumbs. It came out during the holidays, but it had that summer feel to it, so shit, it got knocked for mad months after it dropped. You may recognize the sample from Sauce Money and Jay Z’s duet “Face-Off 2000,” which producer Clark Kent claims was made before “Thumbs Up” hit the streets. But it really doesn’t matter—both songs are dope, and still worthy of rotation in 2014 if you ask us.

*Bonus* The LOX ft. Rufus Blaq “Life Shit” (off DJ Clue’s Show Me the Money Pt. 2)

This was actually officially released on Rufus Blaq’s Credentials LP under the title “Artifacts of Life,” but we’ve been getting a couple requests for it, so we’re throwing it in as a bonus for you, because that’s how we do! Our homie Peter Rosenberg from Hot 97 loves Jada’s line on this song, “The Jew lawyer, the true employer.” Haha, right Pete?!

 

8. The LOX “Freestyle” (off DJ Clue’s Triple Platinum)

Clue set off Side A of his Triple Platinum mixtape with The LOX’s first single off their Bad Boy debut, “If You Think I’m Jiggy,” and saved this exclusive freestyle cut for the top of Side B. For those that may have been upset with the direction of the “Jiggy” joint (shit wasn’t bad though come on), they had nothing to complain with here. Yes, The LOX were a versatile crew, and had songs to make the cats in the board room and on the boulevard happy.

 

9. The LOX “You Know Clue’s Steez” (off DJ Clue’s Clue for President)

For those who couldn’t wait to hear more Kiss over Premier after the “Back 2 Back” joint, Clue hooked up another Primo-laced LOX freestyle, this time over Gang Starr’s “You Know My Steez” instrumental, released well before they went in the lab with the man himself to record “Recognize” for their sophomore album We Are the Streets. You can also hear the trio rapping over DJ Premier production on Jadakiss’ Kiss Tha Game Goodbye album cut “None of Y’all Betta,” and of course Jada makes an unforgettable appearance by himself on Gang Starr’s The Ownerz single “Rite Where U Stand.”

*Bonus* The LOX “1, 2, 3, 4” (off DJ Clue’s Clue for President)

DJ Clue got a hold of another unheard LOX joint titled “1, 2, 3, 4” (not to be confused with LL Cool J’s posse cut “4, 3, 2, 1”), and threw it on his Clue for President tape, which also had the famous Jay Z, DMX, and Ja Rule freestyle commonly known now as “Murdagram,” as well as The LOX’s DMX and Lil’ Kim-assisted hit single “Money, Power, Respect.” It’s understandable that songs like this didn’t make The LOX’s Bad Boy debut—they weren’t exactly shiny suit-ready. But let’s all be thankful that Clue was able to liberate them regardless of their commercial appeal, in addition to the hits he was getting early too.

 

10. The LOX & Black Rob “Chain Gang Freestyle” (off DJ Clue’s Clue For President Pt. 3)

Now that Black Rob joined the mob, it was only right that The LOX officially aligned themselves with him by blamming off on a Clue tape together. As Clue says on the intro, “This is as live as it gets.” Louch sets it off this time, rapping some ill shit like, “Sheek give it to you like a bitch with a disease/That got AIDS on her lips, so when she talks it bleeds.” And with Rob, P, and Kiss backing him up, it only gets iller. Clue!!

 

11. DMX ft. The LOX “Get At Me Dog Freestyle” (off DJ Clue’s ClueManatti “New World Order”)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Yup, The LOX weren’t the only dangerous spitters in Yonkers. They may have bursted on the scene first, but their neighbor DMX was amped up and ready to clobber his competition, too. And he joined forces with The LOX on this vicious freestyle over the instrumental for his debut single “Get At Me Dog.” Kiss remembers his fallen Bad Boy homie on this nicely, as he raps, “Take a puff then a swig, then think about how I’ma hold it down for B.I.G., my mafuckin’ nig.” This is insanity.

 

12. The LOX “Freestyle” (off DJ Whoo Kid and Stretch Armstrong’s Murda Mixtape Part 3)

One of our most talked about Mixtape Memories interviews thus far has been our sit-down with DJ Whoo Kid, who told us hilarious stories about everything from being kidnapped by Big Pun to Puffy stalking him backstage at Saturday Night Live. And he also talked about his Murda Mixtape series with Stretch Armstrong in-depth, and how he was able to secure so many exclusive freestyles and tracks like this joint that set off Volume 3 of their series, which was hosted by The LOX as well. These dudes definitely are the streets! Damn this shit is hard.

 

13. The LOX “Who Did You Expect” (off DJ Clue’s Backstage Mixtape: Music Inspired by the Film)

DJ Clue’s alignment with Roc-A-Fella Records enabled him to put out some official mixtapes for retail, including this project inspired by the documentary Backstage, which featured the smash single “Best of Me, Pt. 2” with Mya and Jay Z, and also this exclusive LOX joint “Who Did You Expect.” It’s a sleeper in their catalog, but hosts one of the best lines about modern parenting and religion courtesy of Styles, who raps, “You christen your kids, I let my son listen to B.I.G.” Church.

 

14. The LOX “Living Off eXperience” (off DJ Green Lantern’s BLAZE)

DJ Green Lantern got his hands on this unreleased track that spells out the acronym in The LOX’s group name, and put it on the end of Side A of his BLAZE mixtape. Imagine if The LOX’s first album was made up of shit like this?! Special props to S.O.U.L. Productions and the Original Underground Hip Hop for blessing us with the original audio and cover for this one. You can download the whole tape here, too.

*Bonus* The LOX “The Rawness”

Here’s another unreleased LOX joint for your enjoyment, from the same era as “Living Off eXperience” and with a similar feel, courtesy of our fam Heve Hitta from The Diggers Union, who included this on his 3 Kings (The LOX Edition) mixtape a few years back. The title says it all.

 

15. The LOX ft. Jae Hood “Freestyle” (off DJ Clue’s Stadium Series Pt.3)

Shortly after 9/11, DJ Clue dropped his Stadium Series Pt. 3 mixtape, and it was successful in that it gave us plenty of exclusives to ride out to, and it also helped restore that glorious feeling New York had before the Twin Towers fell. And on the tape, a new young spitter from Yonkers by the name of Jae Hood emerged, helping to forward a D-Block movement that The LOX were now pushing with full strength. Jae bodied the beat (as did his LOX brethren), finishing the track off declaring that he was “the voice for the hood, the ear for the young gangsters.” He went off on the on-air freestyle Clue provided on the tape, too. Classic stuff right here.

 

16. The LOX “Freestyle (Dissing Beanie Sigel)” (off DJ Clue’s Stadium Series Pt. 4)

The beef on wax between Jadakiss and Beanie Sigel, which should go down in the history books as one of the dopest lyrical wars of all-time, continued on past Clue’s Mixtape For Dummies (which featured their diss tracks going at each other), as each of their crews started to get involved also. On Stadium Series Pt. 4, The LOX went at Beans over Hov’s “Jigga That Nigga” beat, with all three members getting gully on the track. Styles spits, “Would say the nigga name, but he far from The Truth,” while Jada puts it out there a bit clearer, rapping, “Beans just make you fart, Kiss really shit on niggas.” As for Sheek, well, he gets right to the point, rapping, “I ain’t trying to do this shit all night, let’s fight.”

 

17. The LOX ft. Jae Hood “D-Block Burial” (off DJ Kay Slay’s Renegades Pt. 4Roc-A-Fella vs. D-Block)

The hard tracks kept coming from The LOX, and this round, Jae Hood got involved once again, as D-Block went in over Smif-n-Wessun’s classic “Sound Bwoy Bureill” instrumental to prove that they were the hardest rappers out. It originally appeared on DJ Kay Slay’s Renegades Pt. 4 tape, and then was added to the Canal Street favorite Roc-A-Fella vs. D-Block mixtape (though no names from The Roc were actually mentioned on this particular cut). Lotta dope raps on here, and definitely great beat selection.

 

18. The LOX ft. Jae Hood “D-Block Party” (off DJ Clue Presents: Desert Storm Vol. 3: Grand Theft Audio II)

Here’s another LOX joint over a Jigga beat. This time, they chose Hov and R. Kelly’s “Somebody’s Girl” instrumental, and they’re robbing everyone in sight on it. Sheek’s on his bully shit, “eating your food and using your fork,” while Styles is ready to “turn a robbery to murder 1 in half a second.” Give it up fast.

 

19. The LOX “Freestyle” (off Funkmaster Flex’s Big Truck Series Pt. 4)

Want to hear The LOX absolutely murder a freestyle session? Well here you go! Flex blessed us with the recording of this on-air spaz-out over Jay Z’s Primo-produced “So Ghetto” instrumental on his Big Truck Series Pt. 4 tape, and it’s a doozy. They all come hard as hell, especially Sheek at the top, but the highlight has to be Jadakiss’ verse, where he spits, “I can show you how to get your neck broke, stretch coke, in the middle of the ocean on a mean duplex boat,” and gets some laughs from Flex after the clever line, “Haters shaking like Ali holding the torch.” Straight to the chest.

 

20. DJ Green Lantern ft. The LOX and Jae Hood “Two Guns Up” (off Invasion Pt. II: Conspiracy Theory)

We spoke to Green Lantern about the creation of this incredible mixtape cut from his Invasion Pt. II: Conspiracy Theory during Part One of our Mixtape Memories interview with him, and he explained how it came from a freestyle that the boys recorded for his Hot 97 show, where Jada flipped an old football chant of his, “Everywhere we gooo, people wanna knoooww…” to start off his verse. Green snatched that and made it into a song by taking their vocals from the freestyle, adding in a verse he had stashed away from Styles (who was locked up at the time), and laying it all over his original production. And of course, he added all those little Evil Genius drops and scratches to make it super official. Sick song, and it became an unexpected hit for D-Block.

 

*Bonus* The LOX ft. Ma$e “If You Want It”

To keep it completely a trillion with you all, we can’t remember what mixtape this song originally debuted on (we blew through a lot of trees back in those days). All we know is that the version that we heard when it first came out circa ’96/’97 didn’t have Puffy doing ad-libs on it. We looked long and hard for the original mixtape audio, but couldn’t find it, so fuck it. We’re tossing it in as a bonus for good measure, straight from the Bad Boy promo, Puff Daddy ad-libs included. Now go use this to make your own LOX mixtape! Haha, enjoy.

Audio/Visuals via UpNorthTrips, The Diggers Union, Original Underground Hip Hop, Recognize the RealRap Mullet, Miss Info, Just D Block, and the NahRight/Westcheddar archives.

Previously: Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic JR Writer FreestylesMixtape Memories: 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories with DJ SNS Mixtape Memories: 20 Classic Nas Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Whoo Kid (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 2) | Mixtape Memories with Tony Touch | 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts | Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles |Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles