Archive for the 'Features' Category

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

Me

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

rza

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

PURIST PRESS SHOT 2

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

DAVIDD

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

slickrickxrun

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

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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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Editorial: 5 Rappers’ Mixtapes to Revisit This Week

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

mixtapes

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

There’s a lull in rap music this week, for me at least. Don’t get me wrong, there are some hot songs out there right now that I really dig. I’m in love with the new Cormega and Black Rob song “Home,” that beat is crazy Extra P! Mega’s new album has a few joints on it, actually. And I got that Mobb Deep “Dirt (Remix)” with Ghostface in heavy rotation too, along with that new Cali kid Cozz’s song “Dreams” and Your Old Droog’s latest leaks “Free Turkey” and “No Message” with RAST RFC (which just dropped this morning). But these are just songs. Even on repeat, they can and will not sustain my necessary hip-hop intake. I need multiple, full projects of fire to survive, and I’ve played out all the other new shit I’ve been bumping this year to the max (which is a light stack in comparison to last year’s abundance of remarkable releases let’s be honest). Shout to Issa Gold of The Underachievers, I just downloaded his new solo EP. But even with that in the queue, I’m know I’m not going to meet my weekly quota of heat absorption.

Okay, you’re right. I’ve been spoiled by the frequency of modern-day rap releases, forgive me! But it’s all good. When the new shit ain’t dropping fast enough, there are always older joints you can pull out to reverse the quiet. So with that said, I decided to dive into my archives this week and revisit five rappers’ mixtapes from the past, and I invite you all to join me. Read, stream, and download below.

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Video Vault: 10 Classic ’90s Brooklyn Rap Group Videos

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

BKGROUP

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Brooklyn is enjoying a moment right now, with the rapid rise of Bobby Shmurda and the recent success of artists like Troy Ave and Joey Bada$$, but it’s always been home to great solo rappers. From Big Daddy Kane to The Notorious B.I.G. to Jay Z to Fabolous, the borough knows how to crank out star MCs, there’s no doubt about it. And it’s also the home to many legendary rap groups. So for our latest Video Vault, we collected 10 Classic ‘90s Brooklyn Rap Group Music Videos for you to enjoy. Included on the list are early Gang Starr and M.O.P. clips, a hat trick of Boot Camp Click visuals, certified dopeness from the Rawkus Records catalog courtesy of Company Flow and Black Star, and much more. Tie up your Timberlands for this one. It’s time to stomp through the back blocks of BK.

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Interview: Sir Michael Rocks Talks Solo Identity, Banco, and Favorite Miami Strip Clubs

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Mikey 5

Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)

When most rap fans hear the name Sir Michael Rocks, they instantly think of The Cool Kids. But while the embrace of projects like The Bake Sale and When Fish Ride Bicycles brought the duo nationwide notoriety, Sir Michael Rocks has publicly attempted to separate himself from The Cool Kids’ early beginnings over the past couple of years. In late 2012, he relayed that The Cool Kids would no longer be in existence. Mikey and Chuck wanted to pursue different ventures at the time, and each would, musically. Chuck Inglish released his debut album Convertibles earlier this year, and while Mikey Rocks has a few mixtapes floating out there, an album has never been released. Until now.

This Tuesday, July 29th, Sir Michael Rocks will drop Banco, his 16-track debut studio effort, and according to Mr. Populair, the project is an all encompassing work of everything he’s learned in the past, including how to exist as a solo artist. Chuck Inglish will not have any production on Banco, only a rapping feature. But no worries Cool Kids fans—the duo is slated to reunite for the long-awaited release of Shark Week later this year.

We caught up with Sir Michael Rocks recently, and he spoke about creating Banco, The Cool Kids dynamic, hip-hop journalism, and superlative strip clubs in his new home of Miami. Read below.

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