Archive for the 'Features' Category

A Conversation with Wendy Day (Pt. 1)

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


Words by Jimmy Ness

Wendy Day has been responsible for over a billon dollars in album sales, meaning she’s involved in shifting units comparable to Jay-Z and P-Diddy combined. But the 52-year-old isn’t a label shark profiting from manipulating artists into bad deals. She’s dedicated her life to building careers, sharing industry insight and negotiating fair contracts for rappers. In 1992, Wendy used her sizable life savings, stocks, Condo and BMW to fund non-profit organization Rap Coalition, a move that former Bad Boy accountant Bert Padell critiqued as “fucking crazy.” Day brokered some of the biggest deals in music history including Master P’s No Limit Records signing to Priority and Cash Money’s $30 million distribution deal with Universal, which allowed them to keep 85% of their royalties. The outspoken industry veteran held nothing back during our chat and has enough stories to fill several autobiographies. In part one of this interview, we discussed what 2pac planned for his next album, the time Freddie Foxx put a gun to Birdman’s head in public, 50 Cent crushing Young Buck, and a possible collaboration between Slick Rick and Kendrick Lamar.

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Happy 75th Birthday Queensbridge: The 75 Greatest QB Rap Songs

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

nas QB

Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

Queensbridge Houses was infamous long before any hip-hop gatekeeper donned it such. The harrowing hallways of North America’s largest housing projects were a refuge for drug dealers, stick up kids and mob figures long before Marley and Shan touched a 4-track or mic and broadcasted about it. Opening in 1939, The Bridge has a long history of housing the hard-stricken. Those who famously made it out did it either with a basketball or a microphone.

There’s no doubt the crack epidemic affected the surroundings of those who would choose music. Pioneering clique The Juice Crew’s earlier rhymes didn’t typically assume the gangster element but those who spawned from them couldn’t help but represent what they saw. The youngest member of the 80s mega posse began to take it exclusively to the streets. Intelligent Hoodlum, and his debut self-titled LP, was one of the first in a long succession during the 1990s to represent QB’s dark street vibes while incorporating a wiser message. And this trend continued with nearly everyone who followed. Nas would be next. Up to that point in Hip-Hop’s history, nobody had ever come across an 18-year-old with such a firm command of the English language and rhymes imparted with a wisdom beyond his years. Mobb Deep would release their peak project at the tender age of 19 soon after. Tragedy Khadafi disciples Capone-N-Noreaga would keep the fire burning two years later with another Big Apple classic. No other neighborhood in hip-hop music’s history released more quality in a shorter amount of time. It was legendary and heavily influential in not only New York’s rap makeup, but also the genre’s.

In honor of Queensbridge’s 75th year in existence (and Nas’ recent release of Time is Illmatic), Nah Right has compiled and ranked as many songs. The greatest QB hip-hop cuts of all time. You know, the joints that scream grimy. The ones that take you straight to 41st and Vernon. The jawns that helped shape the legacy of Queensbridge and were important in its musical vibrancy. This list isn’t the greatest songs from artists who happen to be from QB. Nah. This is that diggin’ though crates for unreleased white labels shit. That dun lingo laced crack that brought you straight across the 59th Street Bridge into the valley of tough cats and rhymes just as thoro. Or as Mobb Deep would call it “Hell on Earth.”

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All the Way Live: Party Supplies Performs with Action Bronson and Roc Marciano at Sonos Studio NYC

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Sonos Studio NYCPhoto by Bryan Derballa

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus) | Photos by Bryan Derballa (unless otherwise noted)

This past Friday night I had the esteemed privilege of attending a private event hosted by Sonos and Soundcloud, featuring live music by Party Supplies and my two favorite rappers alive—Action Bronson and Roc Marciano. As a Rap Dad of three who doesn’t get to go out much anymore and enjoy live music, I must say it was well worth the journey from the 914 into Manhattan. Here are my ten highlights from the night.

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Interview: Diamond D Recalls Fat Joe & Lord Finesse’s Early Days, Says He was Stunned when Big L Passed

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Diamond D 1

Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

Heads and historians have thoroughly noted Diamond D’s knack for elite crate digging and superior mic skills for over a quarter century. While most will point to his impressive production catalog, the Bronx native and Diggin’ in the Crates founding member is much more than what many can recall. Some of the earliest bars we heard from Lord Finesse, Fat Joe and even Big L was on Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop. D doesn’t like to take credit for their careers or even teaching them the ropes but he will tell you he was there from the beginning.

“Joe was doing his thing around the way and one day he approached me and was like, ‘Yo, I’ve got some rhymes,’” Diamond D recalled when asked about developing D.I.T.C. artists. “He spit a couple of bars at me and I was like, ‘OK, boom let’s go hit the studio.’ We went in the studio and made a couple of demos.” From there, and with the assistance of DJ Red Alert, Fat Joe’s career was on its way. And that happened with so many noteworthy New York artists at the time.

Surprisingly, after 25 years in the game, Diamond D hasn’t had as much time for himself or his own catalog. It has been six years since D released a solo album and he has never released his own production compilation album. Until now.

On Tuesday (September 30), Diamond D released Diam Piece, a 19-track album fully produced by the Diam man himself. The LP features artists D admires. He wouldn’t have it any other way. Nah Right recently talked with Diamond D about the project, his early days and his involvement with some of hip-hop’s most coveted players.

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Heavy Rotation with Shea Serrano

Friday, August 29th, 2014


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

It’s rare that a writer makes me literally laugh out loud, but Shea Serrano (above, top left) gets me every time. Dude is mad funny with the pen, straight up. And it’s not like he’s out here trying too hard. It comes off very naturally, and it’s the type of witty comedy related to hip-hop and fatherhood that I as a fellow Rap Dad can appreciate, which is why we reached out to him to be a part of our recent Father’s Day Feature back in June. And his skills aren’t limited to just writing. He did the illustrations for Bun B’s Rap Coloring and Activity Book, and he’s cooked up other brilliant stuff online like the Drake-ing Bad Tumblr and the Illmatic Influence Infographic.

Basically, Shea’s one of the most entertaining and talented guys around. Whether he’s contributing to Grantland (where he’s now a staff writer) or simply tweeting out daily musings, it’s always a must read. So we asked Shea to return to NahRight and share what he’s been listening to lately for this week’s Heavy Rotation feature, completing a very strong trifecta of rap writers dropping gems on the column (big ups to Jeff Weiss and David Drake). Check out Shea’s selections below.

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The Lone Swordsman: RZA’s Best Solo Songs

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


Presented by Dr Pepper

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Staten Island-bred hip-hop icon the RZA has enjoyed a fruitful career in the music industry. Of course, he is best known for his work with the Wu-Tang Clan, producing and rhyming on their untouchable group albums like their debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and their follow-up double LP Wu-Tang Forever, as well as the many five-star solo albums under the Wu umbrella (Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx, GZA’s Liquid Swords, and Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele to name a few). He’s also collaborated on joints with everyone from Cypress Hill to The Notorious B.I.G. to Kanye West. But truth be told, the RZA is quite capable of making classics on his own. In fact, some of his finest musical work has been done when he’s gone for self. Read about and listen to RZA’s Best Solo Songs below, and be sure to check out RZA’s One of a Kind Studio Sessions EP courtesy of Dr Pepper.

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Loop Library with The Purist

Friday, August 22nd, 2014


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Please don’t think that the only cats making ill beats right now are located in America. This is not the case, at all. Want proof? Okay, check out this dude The Purist from the UK. First of all, if you’ve been sleeping, he’s already produced tracks for some of the dopest stateside MCs, such as Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Sean Price, and Danny Brown. And to dig deeper than the names on the resume, the music itself is wild dope. Man, I still remember discovering his Bronson cut “Northern & Roozy” accidentally on YouTube the day it dropped, like, “What is this?!?!” The loop was so fresh, it made Bam Bam sound better than ever. To this day, it’s one of the most slept-on songs in Action’s catalog. And that’s just one of many bangers that The Purist has concocted. Trust, this man’s got heat. Want another example? How about this Maffew Ragazino joint “Fish$cale.” Flamessss.

Since The Purist is one of the producers we’re anxiously awaiting new material from here at NahRight, we hollered at him to share some of his samples for our latest Loop Library feature. Dig into The Purist’s crates below, and make sure you cop both his TR-ILL and Double Feature EPs on iTunes now.

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Heavy Rotation with David Drake

Thursday, August 14th, 2014


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some of the dopest rap writers out here. And one of them whose pen game I’ve always admired is Chicago’s own David Drake (above left). Sometime towards the latter months of my stint writing daily for Complex Music in 2012, Drake joined the channel’s full-time staff, and started making his presence felt on the site with a string of excellent interviews and think-pieces. For the most part, he seemed to have a different taste in rap music than I did—more trap than boom bap. But through our regular interactions— which included working together on a 50 Best Nas Verses list—he proved to have a unique appreciation and knowledge of my preferred side of the genre too, and hip-hop music and history overall. And his style of writing was truly impressive without him ever having to be too extra with it. To this day, I make sure to never miss a long-form article that he has published, regardless of the article’s subject.

Since we all enjoy high-quality rap writing here at NahRight, we asked David Drake—who also writes for top-notch publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Pitchfork, and The Fader (he still contributes to Complex as well)—to share a short list of what he’s been listening to recently for our latest Heavy Rotation. It’s a proper follow-up to our last edition of the column which featured another superb rap writer Jeff Weiss, and it will most definitely give you some keen insight into a crop of tunes found slightly off the beaten path.

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NahRight & UpNorthTrips Present: Picture Perfect with Ricky Powell

Friday, August 8th, 2014


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Ricky Powell aka The Rickster, for those who don’t already know, is the man behind some of the most iconic images in the history of hip-hop and NYC street photography. Whether it was the Beastie Boys or Run-D.M.C. or Public Enemy, he was always up in the mix, ready to take professional photos of the early Def Jam scene on what he describes as “a hangout tip.” And he was heavy in the culture beyond that, snapping timeless shots of everyone from Basquiat to Eazy E to Big L (RIP to all), and hosting his infamous public access television show Rappin’ with The Rickster (which is now available on DVD), which gave people an opportunity to become acquainted with his extremely fun-loving personality. Point blank, dude has taken some of the illest rap flicks of all-time and is a legendary character in the game, so it was only right that we tap him for our Picture Perfect series.

Along with our brother Ev Boogie at UpNorthTrips, who we insist be recognized as the kingpin of the throwback rap photo wave that every other Instagram account seems to be riding these days, we carefully compiled ten classic pictures of different hip-hop artists Ricky Powell has taken over the years to ask him about for our latest edition of Picture Perfect. And it was an honor to listen (and laugh) as he told the stories behind them while walking the NYC streets, pausing at times to say what’s up to friends of his on the block (and his building’s new super), take a photo of a cute dog for his Instagram account, curse out a group of Sex and the City wannabees, dodge getting hit by a delivery man on a bicycle, and collect a rack from a Manhattan restaurant who recently put his work on display. This is Picture Perfect with the guy who dicked your girl—Ricky Powell.

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Heavy Rotation with Jeff Weiss

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

There are a handful of writers in the rap journalism world that I do a weekly timeline check-in on to make sure I don’t miss anything they have published, and Jeff Weiss is one of the elite within that category (that’s him in the pic above holding a slice of pizza with a blunt in his mouth). Not only is his site Passion of the Weiss a top location on the web for heads who prefer their bloggers to scribe with substance, but he’s consistently cranking out insightful articles as an LA Weekly columnist, and he co-hosts arguably the tightest hip-hop podcast coming out of Cali right now, Shots Fired (past guests include everyone from Ratking to Roc Marciano). In addition, you can catch him penning righteous reviews and features on Pitchfork, and he just so happens to be the author of this month’s exclusive XXL cover story on Lil Wayne. Oh, and did I mention dude released a book last year, too? It’s called 2Pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battles, and it’s available on Amazon now. Cop that if you don’t already got that.

Because we all hold Jeff’s work in such high regard here and appreciate both his taste in tracks and his colorful commentary, we asked him to share some thoughts on five songs he’s been listening to recently for our latest Heavy Rotation. I know I can speak confidently for eskay and the rest of the team when I say that it’s an honor to have Jeff’s words grace the pages of NahRight. Enjoy the breakdown of his selections below.

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