It’s quiet for you 2018. You are cast into the sea of nevermore. You had your ups and downs, as with any year. I’m thankful I made it through you. Now let the organized confusion commence...
Shouts to my queen Brandi, who sponsored this Moët Rosé I’m sipping out the bottle. I love you my queen. Additional shouts to my bro Pyrex, who supplied the aromatics for the evening. Shouts to my CEO @themisterceizzo, Crew Visionary. Without him none of this is possible. Shouts to everyone out there who loves me. I love each and everyone of youse back. I don’t care what age, sex, color, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, or political affiliation you are/have. You’ve got a friend in me. And chances are you’ve never had a friend like me. Shouts to my SACC Coordinator Ms. Lehman. She’s a cool lady. And she reads my blogs. I’m gassed. I’m being premature with this shout, but fvck it. Shouts to my Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LII CHAMPIONS. I waited 30 years...literally (fan since 8/88). The city of Philadelphia waited forever. Thank you. Truly.
RIP: My cousin Corey (we miss you young man), my big homie Michael (hope you and Jerry Garcia are blissfully taking bong rips in stoner heaven-no disrespect to the Lord), Damon, BKA Billy Goat (forever bro FOREVER), Aretha, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee, Burt Reynolds, Penny Marshall (love you boo), #41, Wayne Huzienga (always knew him as the Dolphins owner growing up, just read he founded Waste Management and co-owned Blockbuster...wow) Verne Troyer (my favorite midget, err um little person ever), Billy Graham (Amen), and my great uncle Keith Jackson (whoa Nelly!), the voice of college football during my childhood. I pray you all made it to heaven’s gates. P.S.—-if you’re a celebrity who passed in ‘18 and I didn’t mention you, I was never a fan.
#45 is a mothereffing troglodyte. But his day soon come (old Jamaican lady co-worker voice from back when)...Justice Kavanaugh...(sighs)...irrespective of opinion and/or sentiment, he’s here to stay until retirement or death barring extreme matters...glad to see he voted to uphold Planned Parenthood...dunno if he raped that nice lady or not, but if he didn’t (I think he did) his vote may indicate that he actually has a soul...we shall see, said Ray Charles to Stevie before he passed...Umm...Governor Murphy...please go on ‘head and legalize reefa in New Jersey...thanks a bunch doc...and finally...the Dems take the House majority in a few days...between them and Mr. Mueller, #45’s goose is set to charbroil under the mighty flame of Congress and the free American press...as a journalist (my degree is actually in Journalism) I can’t wait for the press and diverse media outlets to fillet your punk ass, you racist, sexist, elitist MF...kiss my toe. Your family too.
LOVE IS IN NEED OF LOVE TODAY
Please never forget the victims of police brutality as well as our babies and dedicated coworkers lost in school shootings and all lost in random acts of violence across our great nation. We are one.
I know...a lot of my blog content is music related. What can I say? I’m from a musical family and I have musical training. I LOVE MUSIC. Having said all that, I always talk music. This is a diverse year end blog. Music only gets the holiday side dish love today. No main course tonight, baby. Matter fact, I’ll just mention names and a lil bit to go with. You take it from there: Nasir (my favorite MC ever...self-titled LP...B-), Travis Scott (keep on pushing young fella). Jacquees (love you much lil homie...you ARE NOT the king of R&B...keep doing what you do baby paw). Drizzy (it’s your world big fella, respect infinite...but King Push gotcha mane). King Push...DAYTONA (double strong arm emoji, cocoa tan colored...2up2down for Virginia). Jay Rock (new rap People’s Champ), Innanet James (Rookie of the Year...check him out, he’s fly). Lil Baby (I respect your work ethic young fella and Yes Indeed is a classic track). Meek...you did it bro...you put it all together at the same time, no finally necessary. Result? Classic album. 2019 is yours. Cardi keep rocking baby girl...BXNYC love til it’s over. Sule...short time, bro. The world gon know your name. I promise. Once again...RIP Ms. Aretha. You are the GOAT.
This is usually my brother’s lane, so I’ll keep it short and sweet...Black Panther—- WAKANDA FOREVER...SAY IT LOUD I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD. We needed one. Thanks Marvel. About damn time. A Star Is Born...a great remake of a great movie...a timeless tale of talent, love, and tragedy...starring that guy from The Hangover and a couple other insignificant movies and some lady who kinda looks like Lady Gaga (just kidding...Bradley and Gaga, you are both AMAZING). And finally...the movie I’ve been waiting half a lifetime for (literally)...Bohemian Rhapsody. Unless you live under a dump you prolly know that’s the long awaited biopic of the legendary rock band Queen and deceased default frontman Freddie Mercury, LEGEND (one of my all time fav voices). I’m not finna hold you. Shit...I liked it. I liked it a lot. I went opening night. Fried. Had a ball. Came in Ridgefield Park AMC singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the concession line. Mama, I just killed a man...
Last but certainly not least. My first passion. Sports. Let’s do this ... FLY EAGLES FLY. We the champs, bitches!!! MAN CITY...CHAMPS!!!What a historic Premier League Season. My favorite soccer club...Salute to the great Alex Ovechkin. I watched you agonize year after year as your Caps would get tossed out the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Plenty of those years you were the best on the league in mine eyes. I watched you live as you finally hoisted the trophy. I’m a Blue Shirt fan for life but I smiled and cheered you on. You deserved it. Roll Tide...again...but honestly...even if you are a true crimson Bama fan...isn’t it getting a bit ridiculous??? Jay Wright is a wizard. That’s two. He’ll get two more before he retires. Shouts to Nova. Get your money young Jahvon. The entire Bergen County and Uptown Barber Shop family are rooting for you. Golden State...do your damn thing. I can’t hate. That’s three now. Durant is a cold-blooded assassin. Those two guys they have playing guard are pretty good too. And Boogie’s gonna be back soon...don’t trade Draymond. Is Tiger back? I think so. Love you Serena. Fvck that official from the US Open...with all that wagon you dragging...err umm...oh yeah...BUCK FOSTON. But congratulations. You earned it. We’ll see you in April. LET’S GO YANKEES!!!
IN SEARCH OF SERENDIPITY
My book of poetry is out now. Signed copies are available for $15 + $2 S&H. If you’re local I’ll deliver. My PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s pretty damn fly. My baby told me so. Get yours today.
HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR. STAY SAFE AND STAY PAID.
MNR: Silver Anniversary
This entire blog is dedicated to the year 1993 in rap music. It isn’t about #45, Yeezy/Kim, Bitcoin, the Gay Rapper, Jason Witten’s hair piece, the fact that Philly outscored the entire rest of the NFC yesterday, Elian Gonzalez, Flip Wilson, Barry Goldwater, the lil sister who just disappeared on Family Matters, the fact that I’ll never again eat at Yankee Stadium for the rest of my life (eh...), the “Gaesha” that used to creep me & Cuervo out on our 3 am Eastside Harlem dirt missions ‘07 era, the way Cash App never allows you to deposit your bread without taking their cut even though it’s an option, Marlon or Randy Jackson, the lil African American midget that’s nice with the nun chucks, Mr. Regalado’s short, punk ass, Lil Mama, Lil B, Lil Cease, Lil Fame, Sonny Carson, or Bleeding Gums Murphy. It’s about 1993 in rap music, dammit.
Having said that, I’d like to shout out Doggystyle, Enta Da Stage, 93 ‘til Infinity, Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z., Black Reign
(u-n-i-t-y), Represent (Don Cartegena aka Joey Crack), Lethal Injection, and Bacdafucup. All are classic albums in their own right, some outright. But I’m concentrating on two albums in particular, who ironically share the same birth (release) date of 11.9.93— Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) and Midnight Marauders. Let’s start by taking the Staten Island Ferry to Shaolin.
Picture it...Staten Island, 1992. Mega-talented MC/Producer Prince Rakeem (RZA), jaded by his underwhelming solo debut (bad promo), got squad up with his cousins and collaborators Ason Unique (Dirty) and The Genius (GZA). He met a kid from the 1-6 Ooh by the name of the Method Man. He scooped five more kids from ‘round way (Deck, U-God, Rae, Ghost, Masta Killa), brought that ‘80s Saturday afternoon Kung Fu Theater on WPIX Channel 11 and Forty Deuce Kung Foo movies energy to the music, and...the Wu Tang Clan was born.
Understand this, no one had ever seen a group this deep and this talented. EVERY nigga was nice. “Protect Your Neck” hit radio air waves early to mid ‘93 (pre-internet). No one I knew knew anything about this record or this squad. It was crazy. I spent that summer in VA Beach at my cousin DJ Green crib. The local radio station used to play it late night. No mention of the group name or the song’s name. That’s what made the aura so crazy. There was nary a face or personality to attach to any of these bars and verses. Just absolute mystique. And pure fury. By that fall, we knew exactly who the Clan was. Kind of. “Method Man” was the first group (video) single by the man we initially saw as the group’s front man, Mr. Meth (move it on your left!!!). I mean, he had the first single. To his lonely. We loved it. And then the showstopper(s) came...
It’s crazy that I would even attempt to push the idea of plural showstopper on youse. I mean, by definition it’s the ultimate track on a classic album. TLC’s CrazySexyCool remains iconic. It went diamond, for heaven’s sake. But the consensus showstopper is “Red Light Special.” It’s not even up for debate. But with the Wu, it actually exists. “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Can It Be All So Simple” share this rare distinction. They both put you in the exact same mood with their gritty RZA sound. They are both soulful, reflective, nostalgic, and venomous. And both feature my favorite sword from the Clan, Shallah Raekwon the Chef, later of Purple Tape fame. You coulda been from Sri Lanka. Both those tracks put you dead in the B-Stairs of every building In either Park Hill or Stapleton projects. And the videos were visual masterpieces. Grimy yet necessary. And that Snow Beach Polo Sport pullover Rae rocked in the “Can It Be” video...Iconic. Add “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” and “Wu Tang Clan Aint Nuthing ta F’ Wit” and you’ve got six solid classic cuts on one project. Add the interludes and the other tracks (no filler), and you’ve got one of rap’s greatest pieces of work. Everything about this album was iconic, the lyrics, the production, the visuals, the style, and...THE PERSONALITIES. There will NEVER be another ODB (unless you count his son but even then). There was no father to his style. That’s why he was the Old Dirty Bastard. Then there was Meth with the XXXL fro. The toothbrush. The cigars. The eye. He was literally the coolest nigga on planet fucking earth. They were bigger than life. RIP Russel Ason Jones. Boy, I miss you. Forever Wu Tang.
“Honey check it out, you’ve got me mesmerized. With your black hair and your fat ass thighs...”
Q-Tip, “Electric Relaxation”
Wanna know how to accurately predict a classic album off the jump ball? Well, I’ll tell you. You look for the artist(s) who release a lead single titled “Award Tour.” Maybe there was something in the water round ‘bout Linden Blvd in Queens near the 192. By the cleaners. Cuz they were right on with it. Two years removed from their ground breaking iconic sophomore release Low End Theory (their magnum opus, don’t fuck with me on this one), the Tribe reloaded with perhaps the last iconic non-“gangster” or mafioso branded east coast release of the period. If Low End Theory was a 99, Midnight was a 98.5. “Electric Relaxation” is probably their signature song. I still get those same feelings i had as a fifteen year old in tenth grade whenever I play it. “Sucka Nigga” is so fucking slum beautiful, and the #3 defense why I’ll NEVER stop using the word nigga (#1 Amendment 1, #2 my grandparents and parents used nigga around me my entire life). Just for the record, #4 is...fuck you. But Tip defended us to perfection. And that Jack Wilkins “Red Clay” sample Tip procured was soooooooo funky (shouts to Rep & the Vvillain for playing it that night). “Lyrics To Go” is amongst my personal favs on the project. Yet again, Tip’s production is legendary amongst legends. He took the breakdown of Minnie Ripperton’s “Inside My Love” and freaked it. “Oh My God” featured baby dragon Native Tongue Busta Bus growling on the hook. I could go on and on, track by track. They were all amazing. But the project’s final track, “God Lives Through” leaves the ultimate lasting impression on me, even 25 calendars later. And my key sentiment is because without a doubt, it solidifies Phife’s position in the lyrical driver’s seat on the project. I’m forever a Quester. I bear the logo on my left shoulder blade. Tip was my fav of the squad. He always will be. But Phife couldn’t be denied on Midnight. He was shy and humble on People’s Instinctive Travels... He stepped it up big time on Low End Theory. But he took the gold on Midnight.
“Now if my partners don’t look good, Malik won’t look good. If Malik don’t look good, the Quest won’t look good. If the Quest don’t look good, then Queens won’t look good. But since the sounds are universal, New York won’t look good...”
Classic. Through and through. Rest peacefully Phife. Lord knows we miss you. And oh yeah. By the way...ATCQ won the Source Award for Best Group. And with that they became prophets.
Midnight saw the Tribe at its absolute popularity height. No other act could touch em. Their aura was so amazing that the young Brooklynite Mos Def trooped all the way to Manhattan to be one of the faces in the studio during the sessions. Years before Black Star. Years before Black On Both Sides. So did a young kid from Virginia Beach. Yes, all the way from 757. You may have heard of him. His name is Pharrell Williams. Years before the Neptunes. Years before The Clipse. Aura.
“While my Nikes match my Lo hat...” Tip did it to me y’all. He’s the reason my style is so amazing. My Nikes gotta match my Lo hat. Even to this day.
11.9.93...one heaven of a day in Black culture.
MNR: Winter Meetings
They want the old Monday back. That fuck you and five niggas who look like you Monday. That don’t invite that fat nigga over here again Monday. That piss on the floor of Waala’s bodega cuz he was too slick with his verbs Monday. Well, you’ve got him. This is for my day one fans, the DJ Green page fans. I never left y’all. Buckle your safety belts. Light all the marijuana you please. Po’ up. It’s time, Black.
I’m tired of you slow ass millennials calling every new release from your favorite mentally retarded lil rapper a classic. And not just the slow ones, but all the new jacks and younger established vets. Drake is my nigga. BUT DRAKE ONLY HAS ONE CLASSIC ALBUM, HIS SO FAR GONE MIXTAPE. Yes, Drizzy is the king of Billboard. Yes, Drake makes really good music. But aside from his legendary mixtape, he does not have a flat-out classic album. In my opinion, NWTS came closest. Yes, Drake does make hit after hit after hit. But hits do not automatically or alone make an album classic. These things in company with the hits do: cohesiveness/arrangement of songs & interludes (Kendrick GKMC), lasting impact/staying power (Illmatic), cultural significance (Public Enemy It Takes a Nation...), uniqueness (De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising), peer recognition (Raekwon Purple Tape). Some albums have these and other intangibles that aren’t even on the list, yet they still add greatness. To me, Hov’s Vol. 2 wasn’t even in his top 5. But it’s a true classic because Hov and the Roc camp realized they had the open lane to the Baja...and they not only dunked, they shattered the backboard. Hov finessed the Annie MF for the clearance and they laced “Hard Knock Life” in legendary fashion. By the time the album dropped Hov already had 3M MF ready to buy that thang hot off the press. He’s made much better music, before and after. But Vol. 2 put the biggest numbers on the board. Wave wise, no artist had a bigger wave headed into his debut album as Earl Simmons, Dark Man X. X had long since ripped the YO (Yonkers) and NYC underground rap scene. He killed the mixtape circuit. He shined as the guest artist on the big LP circuit (“24 Hrs To Live” off Harlem World, “4,3,2,1” off LL Phenomenon, “Time to Build” off the slept-on debut classic The Natural by Mic Geronimo along with fellow then unknowns Hov and Jah Rule). He was ready to literally explode onto the rap scene. And he didn’t let us down. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot is still one of the best albums I’ve ever heard, flat-out. Everyone not from Harlem remember the Swizz tracks. But Uptown niggas and rap junkies know Harlem’s own Dame Grease made that album pop. D brought his own unique DMX style to the table. No rapper is like D. Understand, plenty of rappers had a monumental wave headed into their debuts and fell face first (Canibus and Bleek to mention a couple). Few lived up to the hype. Even fewer exceeded expectation. DMX gave us one of the most amazing, unique, and impactful albums of all time. It continued to sell and rock through Summer ‘98, even with both Pun and NORE debuts doing ridiculous numbers and getting sick amounts of spins. Then at the end of the year X did the unthinkable. He dropped a whole other album Holiday ‘98 (Flesh of My Flesh...). A whole other classic. The last thing that makes a classic a bonafide classic is the almighty generational test. If no one talks about the album five years after it’s released it’s not a classic. Classic albums withstand the test of time. Stevie Wonderful’s Songs in the Key of Life is 42 years old, and largely considered to be amongst the best albums ever released. If you pick it up now, it is still relevant to this day. It has a message applicable to today’s times. Love is still in need of love today. That hasn’t changed. It never will. That’s classic. So stop calling that fucking C+ album your favorite dumb ass and sensitive lil rapper just dropped a classic just cuz you like his feature single featuring the Migos or Drizzy. Next week you’ll move on to dickriding the next lil remedial English rapper’s Twitter overhyped project. Matter fact, just STFU.
Within the past calendar month, I’ve seen a MF actually tweet that that sapo Tekashi is the new Tupac Shakur. Nigga, what? I don’t have a run down nay stat from Pac. I’ll just leave you with this...Pac blew trial and did his time on the Island and then up north in Clinton Max. No isolation. No PC. Tupac was a stand up nigga. Tekashi is a government snitch. Someone oughta drown the ignorant lil monkey who said it. But my bro the Vvillain got a track on that pussyclot.
I digress...the other night I actually read a nigga tweet that Lil Baby and Gunna are the new OutKast. Nigga...WHAT??? I’m not gon knock those boys. I fux with ‘em (a little). But come on bruh. Do you really believe these two continuation school scholars can fuck with Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton? Have you even listened to all their shit and not just the two or three songs your mama played around the house while you shit your no frills pampers? Please...do us a favor and stick a metal fork in the first electrical outlet you see. It’s crazy that we live in an era where the
all-time greats actually have to listen to complete idiots compare them to at best average and inexperienced rappers. Only in rap does this type thing happen. But I can say that about a lotta things with concern to rap. Bottom line, shit, I dunno. Nothing’s sacred anymore. I digress.
I’m taking orders for my latest book, a menagerie of love poetry titled In Search of Serendipity. Personalized signed copies are available for $15. Many blessings.
Where to begin? What's the most important? A thought that has been running through my mind for a while: being too accommodating is a negative characteristic trait. I don't even know if there's a discernable difference between being accommodating and being a door mat but I feel like there should be. An overly accommodating person may be aware of the position they are putting themselves in, they prolly even have a justification for it, I believe that at the core everybody is selfish to a point, and the overly accommodating people may be tryna make up for negative things they have done, or rack up some of that good karma
\nAt times I feel like I'm a lot of peoples emotional storage locker, or a dime store therapist of sorts, I dont mind it. I have a hard time understanding the illogical minefield that is my own, but somehow I can navigate other's easily. So if i can stop trying to look at my own GPS the directions of someone else's flows a little smoother. Doesn't mean my problems go away. And let me stress that I don't have monumental problems or anything, my life is pretty good. Besides working all the time and not having a lot to show for it, but then again i have horrible spending habits, and I live a lifestyle that I'm comfortable with.
\nHow fly would I be if I didn't have any vices? What type of whip would I be pushing? Would I have all these strange body aches? Would I be more stressed out by the little things in life that I cant control?
\n#MAKEYEEZYYEAGAIN RIP Kanye to the... my nigga gone man. Funny shit is Gucci came home on some healthy shit and niggas thought he was a clone, YE started wildin and niggas just call him crazy. Not too sure that's fair. i mean we gave Gucci the benefit of maybe another person coming along and pretending to be him and he was making positive life changes. How does that make sense? Homie decided to take his time in prison and learn from it, to be a better person, cut off the super hard drugs and get married to the woman who held him down, he's a fucking clone. Kanye West dilenates from his original course, starts trying to make sense out of nonsense, rocks a MAGA hat, even starts treating this naranja faced celebrity in chief like some sort of father figure. Nigga. Yo daddy ain't dead. (Mine is. Cut that shit out.) Acting like a completely different person in a negative way... and the nigga is just crazy, no Kanye clone, just crazy. Which may very well may be true, at least to some extent, (i'm not a mental health professional)but nevertheless, no mention of him possibly being replaced by some imposter. His music has changed, his style has wained and, and everything about him is not the same. Nada? Just "take them meds Ye" ? and drop the prices on them Yeezy's while you at it.
\nWelp that's all I managed to decipher for now, be sure to check out the blogs, follow us on IG @theunbearablescrew
\nShout out to Ty @tymonday Thompson for continuing to bless us with his literary majesty #100BlocksStories #2NNProductions
until the next time the mood strikes me, this has been C.E.Izzo
MNR: Love Unconditionally
Could this be, be the one for me? That is really all I need. Someone to love me unconditionally (unconditionally).
SWV, “Love Unconditionally”
To be loved...to truly, absolutely, and indelibly be loved.
To be loved unconditionally.
It’s all I’ve ever wanted.
It seems so long...my season of loneliness.
And even that beats strange or marginal love.
You can keep that.
Been there, endured that.
That’s what tempted me to forfeit love’s possibility.
But, just as I’d all but given up, at the moment
I felt it was a lost cause,
you entered my life.
You showed me what it truly means to be loved unconditionally.
You brought life back to me.
I’d like to take the time to wish my lady a blessed born day. Of course I did that ‘pon dem midnight hour. But this is her day all 26 hours. And this portion of MNR is dedicated to HER. #143 BT
There’s a blessed union between the movie and its soundtrack. A crazy sdtk makes a good movie even more memorable. I wish there was a camera to record me and the CEO reaction when Yeezy & Hov “HAM” played at the exact moment the party realized the gnome was full of rollers on Project X . We went absolutely...HAM. Or for the older heads and movie aficionados alike—The opening scene of Saturday Night Fever. Tony walking down the avenue while Bee Gees “Staying Alive” made his steps a hunnit times flyer. Or even better—the opening scene of Superfly with Priest chasing the fiend as Curtis wailed pure soul over the organ, bongos, drums, electric guitar, trumpet, sax, and violin on “Little Child Runnin’ Wild.” Fucking EPIC. Yes, I put the track on and listened to every instrument. Thank God for growing up in a musical family AND Music Appreciation freshman year at ye hallowed halls of VUU (1865 Panther Pride). But back to the soundtrack. Sure, there’s the scene and the song that matched up perfectly and became indelible in your heart. But on to other aspects. I’m always intrigued by that movie no one really cares about but has that one memorable song. There’s a movie from the ‘80s titled The Woman In Red. Pretty unmemorable aside from the fact it starred the great, late Gene Wilder AND the lead song off the sdtk...a little number by the name “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by the GOAT Stevie Wonderful. By the way, it won an Academy Award for best song (yeah, Stevie has an Oscar TOO). Then there’s that whatever trash ass Batman with the mid-90s Too Ugly For TV Seal and his powerful love ballad “Kiss From a Rose”. Completely fucking horrible movie. Like, I’d deadass rather watch the Leggo Batman movie over that ridiculously horrible Batman movie. It fucking sucked elephant and giraffe ass. But Seal completely killed that song. He put the love AND the ballad in love ballad. I digress. Then you have your R&B/hip hop sdtk. It may be my “Soul/R&B/hip hop is my culture” bias, but Black movies have the best and most memorable sdtks. Short range, I’ll mention the Black Panther sdtk. TDE did their MF thang in an era where the movie sdtk is vastly undervalued. I’m glad they brought some attention back to it. Here’s a short list of some of the best sdtk from the past 30 years: Above the Rim, Juice, New Jack City, Menace II Society, Idlewild, Soul Food, New Jersey Drive, Men In Black II, Friday, Crooklyn, Boomerang. At one time, the sdtk was damn near as big as the movie itself, and on rare moments, it did outshine the picture it accompanied. One such example is my favorite sdtk ever, The Show Soundtrack. The Show was a Def Jam produced documentary on hip hop that featured many of the top artists of the time: BIG, Wu, Dr. Dre, to name a few. The documentary, aside for the Wu argument featuring Meth vs Rae/Ghost, the doc marketed as a movie wasn’t particularly memorable. But that damn sdtk. That damn sdtk. There were plenty good songs, with quite a few obscure classics. Onyx turned in a rare “happy” track, the party friendly yet signature Onyx “Live”. My nigga Pac dropped one of his most memorable and heartfelt songs, the melancholy “My Block” (original version; my fav Pac song overall), 64 bars of the most real talk he ever spit. Many agree (including self) that Me Against The World is Tupac Shakur’s magnum opus, and the song was written during that time period, right before he went to prison. The mark of a great song is when you can play it a generation later and it still has absolute relevance. He breaks your heart 100 times on that song. You feel his pain. Next is perhaps the most memorable song on the classic sdtk, Red & Meth “How High” (LP Version). I prefer this version over the video version...and I LOVE the video version the same. The only difference is the beats. But the LP version pulsates crazier through the speakers. I think Red’s bar “I beez the ultimate rush to any nigga on dust” pretty much sums the song up quick fast and in a hurry. Then there’s the GOAT Mary J. MF Blige and her obscure gem “Everyday It Rains.” A lotta music heads overlook or forget about this one. But it’s from the My Life era, her best era musically. That shit has the quintessential MJB rock, sure to make the dance floor tap out in 2.5. I gotta throw in The Dove Shack “Summertime in the LBC” cuz that was me and my nigga Jab track freshman year. We used to two-part harmonize the hook. I had tenor, Jab had bass. Much love to my brother Aaron Joseph Baker. My fav all-time The Tribe delivered “Glamour and Glitz”, a solid ATCQ Tip unassisted track, solid but not at all classic classic. Just memorable classic. Definitely BRL era and not MM. Then there’s Uncle James Todd Smith with another obscure classic from a GOAT type artist on the project, “Papa Luv It”. In my opinion, as far as LL on his extra fly LL shit go, it’s his best track. MF may disagree. But understand what I’m really saying and give it a listen. You just might agree. To end the memorable track listing, the great, late BIG fella and Puff deliver a live version of “Me And My Bitch” that rocks the crowd into a frenzy. They had great chemistry performing together. We’ll always love BIG Poppa.
It’s my time y’all. Two blogs in 3.5 days with two jobs and a life is a MF. But thank God. Somehow, some way.
MNR Special Edition:
Saturday School: Mixtape 101
“It’s about to get uglier than the Master P sneaker.”
Lloyd Banks freestyle over “Victory” from a live Hot 97 freestyle session
I was in my baby’s SUV kicking it like Liu Kang when her Pandora immediately kicked my mind into ultra nostalgia when I heard that bar for the first time in so long. When Banks dropped that freestyle that Friday night back when over the airwaves in NYC and NY/NJ metro (mid ‘00s), he was one of rap’s newest phenoms. His boss was top dog in the game and his crew was unstoppable. True indeed, 50 had the OD wave going at the time; the Unit really didn’t need much else. But keeping the rap wolves nourished with exclusive crew mixtapes solidified G-Unit as a force not only in the industry but the streets first and foremost. Us rap junkies couldn’t get enough of 50, the wonder boy Lloyd Banks, and Q-Boro’s capo, Mr. Tony Yayo (still a top 10 rap name ever). And waiting for general releases is like waiting on babies. Station freestyles like this, though legendary, were sporadic and didn’t come quite often enough. So, just as it’s been since day uno, the mixtape temporarily cured our perpetual hip hop junkie fix. Ahh...the mixtape. Hip hop’s enduring ambassador. For this special MNR edition, I will bring you its glorious history, starting from day one.
Herc and the beat break
The origin of the mixtape dates back to rap’s rudimentary and grassroots days in the South Boogie Down Bronx, mid to late 1970s. DJ Kool Herc is the founder of this culture of ours. He was the first to bring the speakers and turntables downstairs, first to the Rec center of his projects (Sedgwick Houses) and then to the area parks. He, Grandmaster Flash, and other pioneering hip hop DJ’s would record their live jams/battles via the cassette tape (damn I’m old) and sell them to fans hungry for this thing. Do know that at the beginning the records they played weren’t rap tracks. Rap wasn’t even truly formed yet. Rather, songs with funk, Afro-Latino, and even disco influences were the recipe, as they were the songs that made the youngsters hit the dance floor and do their groove thing, two-step, or break routines. Herc found a way to extend the beat break with the twin wheels of steel, making the dance time much longer. Songs like “Bongo Rock” by The Incredible Bongo Band and practically any song from Mr. James Brown’s funk era in collaboration with his trusted drummer Clyde Stubblefield provided the DJ with just the right beat break to make the party fucking explode. And so did the music. When Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” hit airwaves in 1979, the music had a definite reference point to begin with (even though it’s the second rap song, not the first). But it took some time for radio to be as accepting as those uptown Black, Hispanic and even Jewish kids brave enough to travel to the 100/200 Blocks were. But little did the industry know hip hop had its own magic man.
KDAY 1580 AM (later 93.5 FM) of Los Angeles is credited with being the first radio station to feature an all rap format circa 1983, and deservedly so. It deserves its just due. But a couple years prior, a NYC DJ named Mr. Magic (John Rivas) became the first radio DJ to regularly play rap music during his radio show “Mr. Magic’s Rap Attack”, originally on WHBI 96.3 FM in NYC and then WBLS 107.5 FM NYC a year later. From 9 pm-midnight on Saturday nights, rap’s original town got three hours of exclusive rap material, heard nowhere else on the planet at the time. Mr. Magic, his apprentice the legendary Marley Marl of future Juice Crew game, and Fly Ty brought the vibes directly to your car, apartment stereo system, or boom box. Mr. Magic and his influence is a whole other blog (RIP, KING), so I’ll leave that on the table for another meal. But the “magic” listeners provided for millions of others was in the recording of Mr. Magic and his on-air rival Kool DJ Red Alert (yeahhhhhhhhhh!!!) on 98.7 KISS FM NYC. These recordings ushered in the second era of the mixtape, as fans faithfully recorded these shows, and made dubs (duplicate recordings) that via mail spread to relatives down south and eventually the country and eventually around the globe. This, along with the touring of rap pioneer Afrika
Bambaataa, his rap crew Soulsonic Force,
And the Universal Zulu Nation helped introduce rap and the hip hop culture to the world. Literally. Two decades before internet. Three decades before social media. Shit, years before BET or MTV (shouts to another innovator Uncle Ralph and Video Music Box) dared to even play a rap video. This faithful listening to rap shows and cassette dubbing would extend into the ‘90s until the third generation of the mix tape emerged: the mixtape (one word).
During the early to mid 1990s, the actual mixtape begin to push its way to the forefront of the music and the culture. Fans would faithfully hit the record shops and cop the latest shit, but without internet or social media, they had no idea when new music was on the way. They had to rely on old fashioned word of mouth. The Source would soon become to rap what the Wall Street Journal means to traders and investors in the stock market. But even then, The Source was a monthly periodical, and even with their upcoming releases section releases were subject to pushbacks and delays. But what the mixtape did was provide listeners with fresh new material from diverse artists, the hottest of the time, of course. DJ’s like S&S, Doo Wop, Tony Touch, Kay Slay, Ron G, and DJ Clue brought that fire to rap faithfuls, and their mixtapes were superfluous. Ron G and Clue were the innovators of the time, Ron G for his blend tapes (R&B vocals over rap beats), which basically birthed the most of the shit we hear today. Clue was the true innovator for the mixtape itself, as he was able to get the hottest artists of the time’s exclusive tracks on his mixtapes, sometimes months before the album dropped and weeks before the single hit the radio airwaves. His signature though was procuring the HOTTEST MC/crew at the time for an exclusive freestyle to start his tapes off. You knew who had shit on lock by who set the mixtape off. Clue was also the first to realize that promo meant everything. This made his wave spread from Frisco to Maine and back to Queens. By the late ‘90s there 1,000,001 mixtape DJ’s in the game. But Clue was and is the all-time king. The boy was 17 driving a big body Benz through the streets of Queens. No drug money. All legal paper. Even though he remains the undisputed king, his reign would only remain in symbolism. Time waits for no man. Moreover, time breeds innovation. By the early 2000s the mixtape had evolved yet again.
Crew mixtapes, street DVD’s & beyond
By the start of the millennium, rap and the entire way music is distributed and received was in the early stage of outright change. It began with a purr and concluded with an all out roar. The change from analog to digital music meant records, tapes, and CD’s were in their eleventh hour. The digital music format was soon to flip the music business on its ass. But just before the storm, rappers were able to eat. Damn good, too. The dot com movement, Billy Clint in office, and relative global peace meant money was being made like never before. And we Americans wrote the blueprint for just what to do with excess: spend it on the shit we love. Music is atop that list for myself and many others. So we bought music in record numbers. BOUGHT. At that time, going platinum was slight work. Record companies still invested in its artists. That meant the artists were in turn able to eat better than ever. But even with all the record store purchases, fans still needed their mixtape fix. But fans were more concise in what they wanted to hear. It came to pass that less fans were interested in the buffet style mixtape. They were cool with the single entree. With this the artist driven mixtape or “crew mixtape” was born. The Dip Set and the aforementioned G-Unit were the first to release their own mixtapes, shunning the old get a track or two on a DJ mixtape and be happy narrative. They were selfish. They needed all theirs. And they were right the fuck on point. Why have one song circulating when you can have twenty? This meant more exposure. So when it was time to release a commercial project, fans were foaming at the mouth to get it. Cha-Ching! More money, more money, more money!!! Simple formula: get your own personal DJ (Who Kid, DJ Lantern, Webstar, etc) put out all types of songs from beat jacks to freestyles to even the rare exclusive material from an upcoming commercial project then watch the wave kick up. And it did. This led to “hosting”, a method in which an artist or collective bring a DJ in to talk shit randomly throughout the project and slap his name on it along with the artist. Damn it, it worked. Just ask my nigga DJ Drama or Don Cannon. The street DVD simultaneously heightened the wave, as outlets like my nigga Smack and Sub Zero provided visuals to these mixtape songs. Not videos, but raw footage from rappers’ neighborhoods. Watching them get down live from their block added that extra bit of grit and allure to the game. Fans couldn’t get enough. This run extended until the digital platform eventually eradicated all hard copy music and visuals. So what happened? Shit, we just readjusted again.
Unless you were born last month, you can write this part of the blog. You saw it happen from jump, even if you were pissing on yourself when I had every Clue tape he had in the streets at that particular time. If you need a mixtape from your favorite artist, you hit Dat Piff, Live Mixtapes, or whatever platform works for you. And there’s SoundCloud, so now you can hear some exclusive material minutes after an artist puts it out. It’s all cool, I guess. We have unparalleled access the music. But damn it, it’s nothing like my hey day of past or even before my time. Nothing will match that feeling of being the one in your crew to cop the latest Clue or Ron G or S&S had to offer and make the one dub to be duplicated by each crew member. Or that feeling when the dub circuit finally made its way to you. Who knows what the future has in store for the mixtape? My bet is that it’ll see it’s way through to the next movement. It’s survived every single one thus far. It’s my time, y’all. Bendicion.