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Mixtape Memories: The Oral History of Strictly Classics, A Maryland Mixtape Store

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

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Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

Back in 2003, my boy DJ ROZ and I opened up our own mixtape spot in the back of Extreme, an urban clothing store on the second floor of the Lakeforest Mall, located in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Both of us were from White Plains, New York, and had recently graduated from the University of Maryland (me in 2000, ROZ in 2002). And rather than move home after receiving our diplomas, we chose to settle in locally and explore post-grad lives in the DMV. This is the oral history—told through a conversation between myself and DJ ROZ—of how we leveraged our shared hip-hop passion into a successful mixtape business.

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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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Mixtape Memories with DJ Doo Wop

Friday, June 20th, 2014

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Of all the Golden Era DJs that soundtracked my life throughout the 90s, DJ Doo Wop stands out for one important reason: this dude and his crew rapped their asses off. As he mentions in our latest Mixtape Memories piece, although his tapes were undeniably hot and loaded with exclusive verses from the hottest MCs out, people often copped them just for the intros. On those first few minutes of each tape, you’d find him and his Bounce Squad crew demolishing the illest beats of the time in memorable fashion. With the exception of his “brother” Tony Touch, what other mixtape DJ can you name that was legitimately respected as an artist in his own right?

From its inception, myself and Ip knew the Mixtape Memories series would never be truly comprehensive without the testimony of the Bounce Master. Now we’ve finally got him and the story is as fascinating and informative as you would expect. He told us about his humble beginnings as a 9-year old DJ in the Bronx, to his first tapes in the late 80s and his eventual ascension as one of the most sought after DJs in New York City. He covered historic moments in his career, like when he debuted Prodigy’s Jay-Z diss that led to the infamous Summer Jam screen incident, the conception of his legendary ’95 Live mixtape and his time as Guru’s official tour DJ. And that’s only a fraction of the story.

Click here to read Mixtape Memories with DJ Doo Wop

Previously: Mixtape Memories with DJ Ron G  |  Mixtape Memories with DJ SNS 

Mixtape Memories: DJ Lt. Dan Presents The Black Remixes: Back to Basics

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

There were a lot of The Black Album remix projects that dropped after the Jay Z acapellas for the LP were made available to the world, most notably Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album, which featured all beats constructed using samples from The Beatles’ The White Album (great concept). But in my humble opinion, DJ Lt. Dan put out the best The Black Album remix project. On The Black Remixes: Back to Basics, Lt. Dan (who also has one of the illest DJ drops ever, sampling Forrest Gump’s voice), put together what he billed on the cover as “a thematic prequel to Reasonable Doubt.” It aligned itself with the premise of the album by matching up Hov’s vocals with classic early ’90s beats. And as far as blends go, these shits are fire. We’ve all heard DJs sound wack trying to do blends, whether the vocals are off-beat, or the pairing of the vocals and instrumentals just don’t make sense. But that’s not the case here, at all.

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15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

It’s always Killa Season here at NahRight. We’ve never made any bones about our affinity for the Dipset admiral’s catalog and we aren’t about to start now. In honor of last week’s release of Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1, Ip compiled 15 standout mixtape appearances from Killa’s long and storied career. I’ll be honest, I could probably do this list 3 or 4 times over with different songs each time. The discography is just that deep you little Yentas.

Click here to read Mixtape Memories: 15 Classic Cam’ron Mixtape Cuts

Previously: 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts | 10 Classic Showtime at the Apollo Performances

Mixtape Memories: 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts

Friday, September 13th, 2013

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You probably know that today marks the 17th anniversary of the day Tupac passed away, but you may not have realized that September 13th is also the 19th anniversary of the the release of Biggie’s seminal debut album Ready To Die. In honor of the memory of Frank White, we pulled together 10 of Big’s most important and impactful mixtape appearances from the periods before and after his first album.

Click here to read Mixtape Memories: 10 Classic Biggie Smalls Mixtape Cuts

Previously: Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles | Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles

Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Pt. 1)

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

There may be some debate as to whether T.I. can still be considered the “King of the South”, but there is no arguing the fact that DJ Drama is the undisputed king of the Atlanta mixtape scene. The Philly transplant’s rise coincided with the rise of the South through the 2000s and his Gangsta Grillz series and brand was instrumental in bringing artists such as Tip and Young Jeezy national attention. For our latest installment of Mixtape Memories, we caught up with Mr. Thanksgiving and took it back to the early mixtape scenes in Philly and Atlanta, his days hustling tapes as a student at Clark Atlanta University, the birth of Gangsta Grillz, his rise to prominence and much more.

Click here to read Mixtape Memories with DJ Drama (Pt. 1)

Previously: Lil Wayne x DJ Drama – Dedication 5 (Mixtape) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 1) | Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Part 2)

Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Pt. 2)

Monday, August 12th, 2013

In part 2 of our Mixtape Memories piece with Green, he speaks on getting back in the game following his split with the Shady camp during the Jadakiss conflict, his experiences working with legends like The Beastie Boys, Nas and Eminem, the EDM lane and his unreleased Jay-Z material that we may never hear.

Click Here to read Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Pt. 2)

Previously: Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern (Pt. 1)

FEATURE: Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

If you’re a student of the various eras of the New York City mixtape culture, you are no doubt familiar with DJ Green Lantern’s repertoire. During a period when mixtape DJs were being judged solely on how many exclusives they could cram onto their latest tape, Green carried the torch for the true mix masters by implementing time tested techniques such as blends and custom remixes of hot street songs. He put that extra time and energy into his tapes and it showed. When you picked up a Green Lantern tape, you knew you were going to hear something you wouldn’t be hearing anywhere else. For our latest installment of Mixtape Memories, we caught up with Green and got the backstory: from his start in Rochester, NY and eventual infiltration the NY industry, to eventually becoming the official tour DJ for one of the biggest MCs the game has ever seen and the decline of the mixtape industry. It’s all here, and this is only part 1!

Click Here to Read Mixtape Memories with DJ Green Lantern

Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Redman Freestyles

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

 

We rounded up some classic Reggie Noble mixtape freestyles for our first installment of Mixtape Memories.

Click here to read and listen