Archive for the 'Features' Category

Heavy Rotation with Taxstone

Friday, August 28th, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

“There’s really no title for what I do, because I do so much.” That’s how Brooklyn’s own Taxstone describes his place in the game right now. And it’s true. What started as a streetwise (and hilarious) presence on social media has turned Taxstone into one of the most important new personalities in hip-hop. Not only is he the host of his own Loud Speakers Network podcast Tax Season (recent guests include Styles P, Desus & Mero, and Memphis Bleek) and a regular on MTV2’s Uncommon Sense, but he’s also a sought-after industry “consultant,” working with both artists and record labels. In fact, when we caught up with Tax earlier this week, he was in the back of an Uber on the way to Atlantic Records for a meeting, anticipating a barrage of questions about his “opinions on shit.”

As Taxstone’s tastemaker status continues to rise, we felt it was only right to tap him for our latest Heavy Rotation. Read below to find out what five songs Tax has been listening to recently, and make sure you follow him on Twitter, check for him on Uncommon Sense (new episodes air Friday nights on MTV2 at 11pm), and of course, subscribe to his Tax Season podcast on iTunes to get his uncensored perspective on what’s happening in hip-hop every week. This is that real rap talk, beloved.

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Diggin’ In The Crates: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 7)

Friday, August 21st, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Okay, hip-hop heads in the house. It’s time for a brand new batch of Twelve Jewelz. We’re on Volume 7, son! I’m excited, hope you are too. This week, we’ve got more B-Sides, remixes, radio freestyles, original versions, unreleased gems, and mixtape rarities, all from the ‘90s and early 2000s (except one special one from 2007). And I threw a bonus in too, because that’s how I do. So like we always do at this time, hit the jump to read and stream, and make sure you don’t miss the link to download all Twelve Jewelz at the bottom. Let’s get it.

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Thank You, Sean Price

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Before I ever spit a bar as a rapper, or got paid to write about rap, I was a rap fan. Just a lanky high school kid who liked to play ball and listen to hip-hop. Certain rappers made me laugh, others made me think, some made me a little nervous, and some just made me say, “Damn, that was ill” and reach for the rewind button. Sean Price made me do all of the above.

For me, the summer of 1996 was about three albums. Reasonable Doubt, It Was Written, and Nocturnal. I didn’t know much about Sean Price, who at the time was more commonly known as Ruck, ½ of Heltah Skeltah. But off the strength of their debut album Nocturnal, he quickly became my favorite Boot Camp Clik member. He had the dope voice, crazy mic presence, and his witty wordplay was next level. I was obsessed with his brief freestyle on “Who Dat?” and I used to play “Sean Price” in my whip for everyone as an attempt to prove that he was one of the most underrated rappers in the game. And everything else on that album knocked, from favorites like “Letha Brainz Blo” to “Understand” to “Place To Be” to “Da Wiggy.” He ripped all his verses, and quiet as kept became one of my biggest influences as an aspiring MC.

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Mixtape Memories with DJ Craig G (Summer ’95 Edition)

Friday, August 7th, 2015

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

In the summer of 1995, I was going into my senior year at White Plains High School. I had a four-door Honda Civic DX, and a camp job that kept gas in my tank (and chronic in my sock). And the soundtrack to my summer was DJ Craig G’s Sneekin’ Up On That Ass II.

Back in ’95, DJ Craig G—who is now known as the #1 hip-hop DJ in Connecticut holding down a prominent afternoon slot on 93.7 FM in Hartford—was among the elite mixtape DJs in New York City. Along with peers like DJ S&S, DJ Clue, DJ Doo Wop, Tony Touch, and DJ Ron G, Craig kept the streets fed with phat tapes that were always jam-packed with exclusive flavor. And it wasn’t just hip-hop. Craig G came correct with the R&B, reggae, and slow jam tapes, too.

Sneekin’ Up On That Ass II—the follow-up to the classic first volume from the summer of ‘94 that boasted Ready To Die exclusives months before Biggie’s debut dropped, plus mad other instant classics by everyone from Redman to Snoop Dogg to O.C.—continued the tradition with never-before-heard B.I.G. joints, and so much more. He had a comeback gem by Rakim, Bad Boy remixes featuring hot artists of the moment like Keith Murray, Smif-N-Wessun and the already legendary LL Cool J, all the hot joints off The Infamous… and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… , plus new shit by everyone from Das EFX to Special Ed. It was one of those tapes you let rock ‘til it popped—and then you’d take it apart, fix it, and let it rock some more.

For our latest Mixtape Memories feature, we linked up with Craig G and asked him to take us back to the summer of ‘95 to revisit what the mixtape game was like when he released Sneekin’ Up On That Ass II. Craig talks about his partnership with DJ S&S, his in-house recording techniques, his memories of having the original version of Biggie’s “Dead Wrong” before any other DJ, his experience working at the Music Factory in Brooklyn, and so much more. Let’s rewind twenty years back with one of Uptown’s illest mixtape DJs ever.

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Loop Library with El RTNC

Friday, July 17th, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Last April when I first heard Your Old Droog’s “Nutty Bars,” my initial reaction was, “Yo, who is this dude? He’s nice!” My second reaction, which came almost simultaneously, was, “Yo, who did this beat? Shit is sick!” Turns out the man responsible for lacing Droog up with the ill sounds for not only “Nutty Bars” but his entire debut EP was El RTNC (above left). And quiet as kept, he’s also been producing heat for a host of other popular New York MCs for a minute now (Action Bronson, De La Soul, Mos Def, Homeboy Sandman, Timeless Truth, etc.)

As El RTNC continues to prove he’s one of the dopest sample-based producers in the Big Apple right now through not only his beats for Droog (cop The Nicest EP out now and check out “Have a Nice Day”) but also with his recent slew of instrumental releases, we thought it would be appropriate to feature him for our latest Loop Library. So we reached out to give him a chance to showcase his eclectic ear and keen sampling skills (note—he makes all his beats start to finish in Pro Tools) as well as share some personal stories and perspectives. Read and listen below as RTNC walks us through five choice samples—and yes, expect the unexpected.

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In The Lab with Papoose

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015


Words by Eric Diep
Images by Lauren Gesswein

DJ Premier’s new producer home is in the deep depths of Kaufman Astoria Studios, a historic lot in Queens, New York, where they filmed classics like Goodfellas and Carlito’s Way. Inside the basement of one of the stage buildings, it’s decorated with movie posters worthy of display: Men in Black 3 and The Accidental Husband are just a few wall ornaments that complement movie paraphernalia in the hallways. Navigating through requires careful directions from security on the grounds, but once you reach Preemo’s studio it’s everything you would imagine. The space is adorned with plaques from iconic projects by Gang Starr, Big L and The Notorious B.I.G. Other plaques from Death Row Records and Roc-A-Fella Records are also on display to show the longevity of his career that’s still very active to this day.

While Brooklyn vets like Jay Z, Fabolous and Talib Kweli get a lot of respect for their contributions to the culture, there’s a fighting spirit within Papoose that many don’t give him credit for. The 37-year-old MC gets more press for what he says publicly about younger MCs (Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar) and rap at large than his music, but that’s because what he says isn’t too far from the truth. Shamele Mackie has been a student of the game ever since he picked up a mic and impressed everyone with his wordplay on “Alphabetical Slaughter.” As his career progressed through the years, he cared less about what people think and focused more on delivering music to supporters who’ve been there since his start. You Can’t Stop Destiny, his follow-up to The Nacirema Dream, sums up his whole mantra: No matter who brings you down, you can’t stop what’s aligned in the stars. For him, it’s being the top MC of the world.

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Diggin’ In The Crates: Twelve Jewelz (Volume 6)

Friday, July 10th, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

The gems continue this week as we return with Volume 6 of our Twelve Jewelz series. This time around we’ve got a dozen more B-Sides, remixes, unreleased cuts, bonus bangers, and mixtape rarities from the ’90s and early 2000s for you to feast your ears on. Take a break from the new shit and enjoy another trip down memory lane below. And after you stream/read, make sure to click that download link at the bottom of the post to add these Twelve Jewelz to your collection!

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Video Vault: 5 Classic D.I.T.C. Music Videos From 1995

Friday, June 26th, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

The more time I spend revisiting ‘90s gems for our Twelve Jewelz series, the more I find myself diving as deep as I can into the Diggin’ In The Crates crew catalog. To me, D.I.T.C. is the essence of New York street hip-hop, complete with gritty, boom bap, neck-breaking beats and sample-based jazz/soul sounds, and that witty, no-bullshit Big Apple talk. They’re a special rap collective that deserves to be celebrated more than they normally are, for sure. So as we continue our look back at one of rap’s most monumental years, we invite you take a break from the new shit and enjoy our latest Video Vault featuring 5 Classic D.I.T.C. Music Videos From 1995. Hit the jump to read/watch.

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Editorial: 10 Loosies You May Have Slept On In 2015 (So Far)

Thursday, June 18th, 2015


Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

It’s only June, and it’s safe to say this year has already bodied ‘14 musically. There’s dope shit out across the board album-wise, and in addition, there’s been a decent dose of non-LP freshness floating around, too. So as we say hello to summer, here’s 10 Loosies You May Have Slept On In 2015 (So Far). It’s our way of recapping a few favorites (songs not freestyles) that weren’t featured on an album or released as an official single during the first half of the year—just in case you missed or forgot about any of them. Enjoy the catch-up.

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Next Up + Video Premiere: Salomon Faye

Monday, June 1st, 2015


Salomon Faye is a hodgepodge of every New York borough and it’s no surprise why. Growing up in Harlem, living in Brooklyn and bouncing around each of the Big Apple’s sectors the 22-year-old emcee is wise beyond his years and has learned a whole lot just from living in his neighborhood.

Born in Paris to a Senegalese father Faye has a more diverse background than most New Yorkers who venture to clutch a mic. He moved to New York at a young age and hasn’t left the area. It’s there where his music career was born before he ever decided to put his thoughts to wax. The rich cultures of New York City and its surrounding areas constantly provide inspiration for The iLLuzion emcee and it’s obvious when you listen to his music.

“Harlem gives me a particular perspective of the city. [It shapes] my taste in music, soulful music, my taste in apparel, women. I really love [it]. Black is beautiful. Even growing up in Harlem and being an artist I ventured out of Harlem to cover the whole realm of New York. I spend a lot of time in Brooklyn as well. I’m real familiar with the underground scene over there, the nightlife scene, the hip-hop scene over there. But currently my focus is in Harlem.”

Recently releasing his latest EP, Stimulation to noticeable acclaim, Salomon has finally given the world a solid body of work while expressing who he is and what he wants to become. It has also warranted attention from other creatives in the hip-hop world without a major platform, something Faye finds encouraging.

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