Embracing the roots of Hip Hop!

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NAS (@Nas) Illmatic XX: 20 Years of Greatness

April 19th 1994, the day hip-hop changed and this week marks the 20th anniversary of the hip-hop clas­sic album Ill­matic by Nas. April 15th, Nas released Ill­matic XX, the reis­sue of his ground break­ing album.

The reis­sue fea­tures the ori­ginal 10 great tracks plus, rare remixes, unre­leased demos, and freestyles.

The fact that the album is cel­eb­rated 20 years on speaks volumes of the qual­ity of Ilmatic and Nas. No spe­cial fea­tures, 10 fant­astic tracks, great pro­du­cers and a young New York rapper’s first album. Ill­matic made his­tory in the hip-hop game. One of the only few albums to be cel­eb­rated and remembered sev­eral years after it’s release.

“My first album had no fam­ous guest appear­ances the out­come, I’m was crowned the best lyricist”

Although it wasn’t a com­mer­cial suc­cess, the cre­ation of Ill­matic changed the hip-hop scene, through how albums were pro­duced, how stor­ies were cre­ated, rap­pers flows and even through the album art­work cre­ated by rap­pers in the future. In USA today Nas was quoted saying:

“I think I was a real ser­i­ous guy at a young age,” says Nas. “I was a kid who came up in the ‘80s, and I was into always writ­ing, and then rap came into my life. So when I look back now, it all makes sense – this is what I was sup­posed to do.”

Ill­matic is seen as the bench­mark for rap­pers if they want to be a great.“It’s not an ill­matic” will be a phrase which will haunt many rap­pers, includ­ing Nas. This album will con­tinue grow and influ­ence musi­cians and will remain immor­tal as an undeni­able classic.

For hip-hop, we salute you Nas! And if you’ve always wanted your own Ill­matic art­work, go to Nas’ Ill­matic XX web­site to cre­ate your own Ill­matic cover:

http://illmaticxx.nasirjones.com/

Ill­matic XX Tracklist:

Disc 1: Remastered ori­ginal album
01. The Gen­esis
02. N.Y. State Of Mind
03. Life’s A Bitch
04. The World Is Yours
05. Half­time
06. Memory Lane (Sit­tin’ In Da Park)
07. One Love
08. One Time 4 Your Mind
09. Rep­res­ent
10. It Ain’t Hard To Tell

Disc 2: Demos, Remixes & Live Radio
01. I’m A Vil­lain (pre­vi­ously unre­leased)
02. The Stretch Arm­strong and Bob­bito Show on WKCR Octo­ber 28, 1993 (pre­vi­ously unre­leased free­style)
03. Half­time (Butcher Remix)
04. It Ain’t Hard To Tell (Remix) (promo single)
05. One Love (LG Main Mix)
06. Life’s A Bitch (Arsenal Mix) (promo single)
07. One Love (One L Main Mix)
08. The World Is Yours (Tip Mix)
09. It Ain’t Hard To Tell (The Stink Mix) (UK single)
10. It Ain’t Hard To Tell (The Laid­back Remix) (UK single)

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 Aaron3000

@Aaron3000_

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Westside TV (@westsidefm) Interviews EPMD’s Parrish Smith (@PMDofEPMD)!

West­side TV back stage at the EPMD con­cert in Kentish Town Forum and talks to the legend Par­rish Smith from EPMD! 

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www.thisiswestside.com 

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Video: I Am Hip Hop Meet Ugly Duckling (@UglyDuckling)

I Am Hip Hop’s Aaron 3000 caught up with Cali­for­nian Hip Hop group Ugly Duck­ling (Andy Cooper, Dizzy Dustin and Young Ein­stein) dur­ing their recent per­form­ance at Jazz Café in Lon­don. Ugly Duck­ling dis­cuss the his­tory and dir­ec­tion of the group, their exper­i­ences, musical influ­ences, life and views on Hip Hop today!

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Cam­era man : Liam Lucien

Aaron3000

@Aaron3000_

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Video: I Am Hip Hop Have A Chat With Lazarus (@Yorke_Lazarus)

Lon­don based rap­per Laz­arus invites us into his home for a chat about life, his jour­ney so far as an artist and the release of his debut album “Come Forth”.

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Inter­view by Liam Lucien 

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Review: Versus (@VsOfficialMusic) - SunBathe

The super wavy sum­mery synths that start off Sun­Bathe announce a pro­gress­ively expans­ive yet mel­low hip-hop pro­duc­tion cre­ated by mys­ter­i­ous East Lon­don pro­du­cer Versus. And it’s debut on Boutique Groove is a sign of his sound devel­op­ing into an exper­i­ence which cre­ates vibes without the need for vocals.

An over­whelm­ing feel­ing of fun exudes from this tune and cre­ates men­tal images of head bop­ping and two step­ping around a BBQ whilst sip­ping cold ones in the midst of a cool pool party some­where in Miami; the vibe of Versus’ music is always mood set­ting, whether that be a more dra­matic the­at­rical sound or in this case he’s cre­ated an ambi­ent instru­mental that lends itself to being enjoyed as a soundtrack for a hot day.

Both uplift­ing, cha­ris­matic and a bass banger all in one, Sun­Bathe is cer­tain to help push Versus’ name out into the hip-hop sphere even more. He is cur­rently work­ing with refresh­ing Lon­don rap­ping Trip­ster Che-Lingo so be sure to stay locked for their col­lab­or­a­tion com­ing real soon. The sounds com­ing out of West­wood Hill Stu­dios, Vs Music’s own pro­duc­tion house, range from hip hop to soul and indie and he has more tracks to come over the course of this year with artists such as Geor­gia Cope­land and Tom Gren­nan that’ll show off the extent of the tal­ent this young pro­du­cer has.

So enjoy Sun Bathe and be sure to stay locked to Boutique Groove for more sweet beats for your sum­mer selection!

Ranako

Ranako 

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Review: Iron Braydz (@braydz) “Verbal sWARdz” EP Unorthostract Records

“Verbal sWARdz” marks Iron Braydz return after announ­cing that he was quit­ting in the sum­mer of 2012. Tak­ing heavy influ­ence from Wu-Tang Clan and the mar­tial arts films that they intro­duced to the world of Hip Hop, the EP kicks off with a skit taken from the 1980s Hong Kong film “The Thun­der­ing Mantis”. Using Bryan Leung’s out­burst to relay his feel­ings about the way black people are treated in this coun­try, he makes a state­ment that “Verbal sWARdz” is an “out­burst of facts, feel­ings, per­spect­ives and opinions.”

“Scor­pion Sting”, a nod to “The House Of Fly­ing Dag­gers” on Raekwon’s OB4CL 2, declares the war he is waging with the com­mer­cial rap industry. Res­ist­ing against white suprem­acy “Crow­bar Head Top­per” is a mes­sage to the white man that he’s “sick of turn­ing the other cheek” and a retell­ing of an encounter he had long ago. The most com­plex and lyr­ic­ally intric­ate offer­ing on the pro­ject comes in the form of “Mil­lenium”. Mak­ing sure that his bars were a match for Prince Po of Organ­ized Con­fu­sion, Braydz and Prince Po tell a story of slaughter­ing demons while provid­ing social com­ment­ary to the prison indus­trial com­plex, islamo­pho­bia and a pleth­ora of demons that exist in the system.

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Remain­ing on the theme of social prob­lems, “Dredd” laments about the con­di­tions of people at the “bot­tom of the pile”: “crack­heads, deal­ers, scum and skeez­ers, bot­tom of the pile and they all want to be us”. The entire EP is a lyr­ical onslaught and this is only rein­forced with “Rambo”. While the repet­iv­ity of the vocal sample can tire the ears, the vivid imagery of Iron Braydz, Skrib­lah and Kyza eas­ily com­pensates. The next track fea­tures the one and only Sean Price. “Fiery Red”, released in 2011 with its eerie piano keys, brings more of the heavy artil­lery: “choke your throat when you feel the cobra grip/ mak­ing me flip/ swing of the fist/ mak­ing you flip/ flick of the wrist/ bust in your lip…”.

Exper­i­ment­ing with synths, Iron Braydz and Detroit legend Phat Kat team up to stress their import­ance in the game with cuts from DJ Shortee Blitz to com­ple­ment. “Rambo Relapse” uses a dif­fer­ent skit from the ori­ginal track, sig­nalling the fero­city of the verses to come with added verses from Black Cripton and Solar Black. Lastly, the title track “Verbal sWARdz”, sum­mons Triple Dark­ness Gen­eral Cyrus Mala­chi to join him in a verbal assault pet­ri­fy­ing “fake guys who try and step here” over a looped angelic vocal. “Verbal sWARdz” is pre­par­ing us for what he’ll be releas­ing in the future and I can’t wait to hear what he has in store.

I’m pleased Iron Braydz is back and excited to see these new tracks per­formed live. With most of the EP being self-produced and not a weak verse on the entire pro­ject I encour­age you all to get “Verbal sWARdz” from his band­camp page on the 14.4.14.

This pro­ject is ded­ic­ated to Natty and Ricky Bishop who both passed away due to police brutality.

Dhruv Shah
Dhruv Shah

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Westside TV (@westsidefm) Interviews Nice & Smooth (@darealGregNice)

West­side FM’s Richie talks to Hip Hop Legends Nice & Smooth back stage at the EPMD con­cert in Kentish Town Forum.

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To listen live to West­side Radio and to check out more inter­views visit: 

www.thisiswestside.com 

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Review: shortMAN (@shortman_spoken) ‘Jokesville [part won]’

All too often hip-hop is con­sidered a solely Amer­ican sport, an under­stand­able con­sid­er­a­tion given the his­tory of the genre and it’s firm roots in New York, but an offens­ive one all the same. Since the 1980s the UK has fought it’s own rap corner with many heavy­weights, acts such as Cookie Crew, X Posse, Rod­ney P and Monie Love fly­ing the flag spec­tac­u­larly and today there are still many UK artists who con­tinue to do this, it’s unfor­tu­nate that so often they don’t receive the credit or suc­cess their work deserves.

Earlier this week UK spoken word artist short­MAN aka Matt­Black released new 5-track album ‘jokes­ville [part won]’ via his band­camp page. The album has no set price, you can pay as much or as little as you want, you can even down­load it com­pletely free.

Let’s start with Self Taught Beats, the pro­du­cer of this album. STB has pro­duced some of the slick­est, most pol­ished beats the UK scene has heard in recent years. He’s worked with artists includ­ing national rap treas­ure Speech Debelle and the crim­in­ally under­ex­posed Real­ism (both of whom are cur­rently work­ing on new mater­ial by the way) and pos­sesses the kind of beat mak­ing skill that, were the UK hip-hop mar­ket as luc­rat­ive as the Amer­ican scene, you would most def­in­itely have heard of. The pro­duc­tion on ‘jokes­ville [part won]’ is world class, the beats are soft where you want them to be and hard where you need them to be, the bril­liance of this album is reli­ant as equally on the pro­duc­tion and the sen­sa­tional sound­scape they pro­duce as it is on the vocals.

‘Get No Play’ kicks off the album, an intro­duc­tion to shortMAN’s vocal style, which is ser­i­ously high-grade. Part spoken, part rapped and part sung the deliv­ery is fault­less, wrap­ping around the beat at times and dis­tan­cing itself from it in the next bar. Major points are also earned on this track for the rhym­ing coup Julia Roberts/Hippopotamus (trust me, it works).

Track two ‘Lady Love’ keeps the bar up where track one set it. The beauty of this track lies in the uncom­plic­ated old skool beat (there’s rave horns too) and the rhymes and deliv­ery both remain faultless.

‘God’s Gift’ fol­lows as track three, an upbeat anthem with organs and horns play­ing lead­ing roles in the beat and a chorus that will stick in your head, in a good way. The vocal deliv­ery here reaches a peak, crit­ics who refuse to acknow­ledge the tal­ent of rap­ping should listen to this track, the way short­MAN goes through the track with subtle but effect­ive use of tone and aggres­sion really show­case the skills he pos­sesses as a per­former brilliantly.

Track four ‘Pro’ is another ear-gasm. By this point it’s clear that the pro­du­cer and artist have an awe­some cre­at­ive energy com­bined, the beat and vocals wrap around each other with amaz­ing ease and ori­ginal choices of both instru­ment­a­tion and vocal style play together to cre­ate an immense hip-hop experience.

The album closes in per­fect fash­ion with laid back rap slow jam ‘Tak­ing the Pop’, hon­est lyr­ics delivered in a way that really emphas­ises shortMAN’s tal­ent as a spoken word artist. With flaw­less poetic metre the vocal line cre­ates a counter rhythm to that of the beat, cre­at­ing a really unique sound.

With this record short­MAN and Self Taught Beats have cre­ated a mas­ter­piece in mod­ern UK hip-hop, a work that deserves recog­ni­tion and suc­cess, a per­fect blend of ori­gin­al­ity, tal­ent and pas­sion that has con­ceived some­thing very spe­cial indeed. Short­MAN is def­in­itely an artist on the rise and it’s so excit­ing to have him on the UK hip-hop scene.

Micky Roots

Micky Roots

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Video+Lyrics: Reflections by EyeSistar and I & Ideal (@IdealArtist @EYESISTARUK)

 

http://youtu.be/Iejq3DKSQgQ

Reflec­tions

I am a reflec­tion of you..

And you are a reflec­tion of me..

Yes we are one,  Most definitely..

So lets spread some love, Affectionately..

(Eye­Sistar)

(Listen) Come we trod together in unity..

We are one fam­ily, Yes you and me..

Repat­ri­ation start build­ing the community..

Love for every­body coz’ i can see you in me..

I felt the strength, from the age of 2 or 3..

but as i got older, I put it under lock and key..

Someone talk­ing crazy don’t belong in this society..

I sit down and observe quietly..

Was right for ask­ing ques­tion cos now I know the truth..

They told me many stor­ies but didn’t have the proof..

Were all in the same shitty boat without a roof..

I am, That I am, That I am, That is only you..

You reflect me, and I reflect you..

Were dif­fer­ent sizes might as well be in the same shoes..

Because on this rocky road no ones des­tine to loose..

Unity and strength and that’s the only way to move..

Chorus

I am a reflec­tion of you..

And you are a reflec­tion of me..

Yes were one, Most definitely..

So lets spread some love, Affectionately..

x2

(I & Ideal)

As I sit alone, Yeah I’m with the globe..

For every single souls, Reflect­ing like a mir­ror so..

Stop the sin and show, The pos­it­ive evolve..

Or be neg­at­ive, And watch it bring you low..

And if you carry on, Act­ing like the facts are wrong..

You best listen slow (We Are One) You can’t say that you didn’t know..

This is old, But it isn’t shown (No)

For some for­bid its told, And yeah they hid the scrolls..

But are we any dif­fer­ent? (No) So don’t care what the shade of someones skin is toned..

We’ve all got a con­nec­tion like when you ring a phone..

Sticks and stones, May break you bones..

But words ain’t inflict­ing, No, So their opin­ion don’t.. Matter..

Yeah its just chatter..

So uplift and grow And don’t listen to their per­sist­ent moans..

Chorus

I am a reflec­tion of you..

And you are a reflec­tion of me..

Yes were one, Most definitely..

So lets spread some love, Affectionately..

(I & Ideal)

Me and Eye­sis, We are like twins..

Non identical, And its dif­fer­ent steps we walk..

In ours lives lived..

Blessed to choose, Whatever route..

Never left we move, we see the right thing..

And we keep it righteous..

For it mainly effects the youth if we abide sin..

So we reflect the truth and we gleam enlightenment..

Ensure its the best we do and we keep upris­ing.. Never be declining..

(Eye­sistar)

Strength in num­bers gather round, gather round..

If your a free spirit stand proud, stand proud..

Were all one and we shout it out loud now all our days are sunny even if theres clouds out..

Strength in num­bers gather round, gather round..

If your a free spirit stand proud, stand proud..

Were all one and we shout it out loud now all our days are sunny even if theres clouds out..

Chorus

I am a reflec­tion of you..

And you are a reflec­tion of me..

Yes were one, Most definitely..

So lets spread some love, Affectionately..

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