Build Your Own Black Album Remix

When the Black Album dropped I was unhappy that Jay-Z didn't stick to his promise of releasing it open to the masses- no promotion, no distribution. You just get it however you can get it. I imagined that it would be the first the greatest open source album. Jay reneged on his original idea for the album and released it like any other music.

Weeks later he also released his vocals on vinyl. This started a rush by producers to remix the Black album using their own beats. The most notorius reworking so far has been from DJ Danger Mouse. So, in a clever way Jay did hold to the original vision...he just did it in way where he still made tons of money from it first. And his legacy grows with every remix.

He's quite the hustler.

If you want to create your own Black Album remix try using the Jay-Z construction set. They even have a blog to help you keep up with things.

March 18, 2004 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Tribe Called Quest: Midnight Marauders

Today is the 10 year anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders, a classic amongst classic rap albums. If the early nineties of hip-hop passed you by, and you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you must pick this album up and school yourself! The songs on it are beautiful man, just beautiful. And the cover is crazy, in a cool sort of way:

I first read about the album's decade milestone at the infamous HHI message board. I posted this reply to the thread:

"I don't know why but thinking about the feeling Award Tour and Electric Relaxation gave me when I first heard them gets me choked up with nostalgia. I'm literally at an internet cafe with with tears forming in my eyes.


Don't you just love the feeling music can give you? And nothing sparks memory and emotion like a familiar song from yesterday.

Let's have a "Where Are They Now?" look at Tribe's members now that they have broken up and gone on with their solo careers.

1. Ali Shaheed Muhammad: He went on to form the "urban supergroup" Lucy Pearl, which consisted of Dawn Robinson of En Vogue, and Raphael Saadiq of Tony! Toni! Toné! The three of them got together and did what they do best- release a critically acclaimed jazzy/soulful/funky album and then break up...of course.

2. Phife Dawg: He released a so-so album called Ventilation: Da LP . I think it had a track on there dissing Q-Tip.

3. Q-Tip: the "Abstract" had a two hit singles (Vivrant Thing and Breathe & Stop) after he left Tribe but the full length flipped flopped. I didn't get the album, but I liked those two singles despite the howles from certain Tribe faithful who felt 'Tip sold out his soul to the Jiggy-Monster. He has an unreleased album called Kamaal the Abstract that you can only get on one of those file sharing programs or maybe by using the Google Keychain. According to MTV, he has a third solo joint called "Open" set for a March 2004 release date (that really means "July" in hip-hop industry speak).

This story has a good ending though. Tribe has decided to reform and have already dropped a new song on the last Violator compilation. Welcome back, boys

November 8, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No More Prisons 2

I loved the first No More Prisons album even though I'm not a fan of overly "positive" hip-hop. Years ago in a song lyric I complained,

"I hate conscious hip-hop!
When I can't find a job man
Don't want to hear your problems!
Put on some dirty south and get crunk with it
I'm dumb witted
I zone out, I got numb senses"

But No More Prisons was different to me. It had an urgent message and the artists rarely strayed into corniness or cliches. Plus it was good music, thanks to the talent of Dead Prez and others.

I'm debating whether to get the follow up- No More Prisons 2. I doubt it will surprise me like the first one. Plus, it's only 12 tracks long! I can spend the same money on two 20 track long mixtapes and be good for weeks. But props anyway to Raptivism for bodly releasing this type of music to docile revolutionaries such as myself.

November 6, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jay-Z's Black Album

The cover art for the "Black Album" is finally online. A-Wood seems to like it. I think it's hella ugly.

Jay promised years ago that the Black album wouldn't have any art at all. Yet this has a poorly done silhouette that looks like he's holding his eyelids open. Wait...those eyes I see are actually his fingers. O...kay, I see...he's pulling his fitted over his face. I still don't like it.

Jay made some other promises about his "last" album. Two he broke already, the other we'll have to wait to see if he keeps it.

Broken promises:
1. No promotion for the album. He said that he would make it, drop it, and bow without caring or catering to what the press thinks. Yet, last week he held an album preview press conference.

2. No distribution for the album. Jay said that this album would not be released commercially. Fans would have to download it, or get it from bootleggers. This was most exciting to me. I imagined there being an uncertainty about the number of tracks, track order, or even songs names. So the dj's would be empowered to make their own mix and the fans would have to collect until the felt they had something complete. It would be the first open source album!

Wait to see promises:
1. This album is supposed to be a prelude to Reasonable Doubt. Yeah, I have my own reasonable doubts about that. He should have scrapped all the guest appearances except for Sauce Money and Jaz-O. Not that would be throwback fire!

UPDATE: Selected review quotes and news by others: "I did quite enjoy my first run-through of The Black Album. Much of it is driven by the lush classic-soul loops that Kanye and Just Blaze have made the new standard, plus a few doses of the obligatory Neptunery." JAY-Z is bringing the curtain down on his glittering hip-hop career with a nationwide tour of America starting in November.'s The Dynasty is the wackest album he ever made...meanwhile, The Black Album gets better and better.
Hookers and Blow-We've learned that Jigga may want to develop artists with Steve Stoute, the former Universal Music executive who helped launch his "S. Carter Collection" sneaker line for Reebok, and is planning a black sneaker tied to "The Black Album," Jay's much talked about last CD, due in November.
DJ Spicerack- Needless to say, I wasn't totally impressed with everything the first time I heard some stuff - but it's definitely grown on me as I've been able to listen to the whole thing, getting the whole context. I've heard people saying that this wasn't better than Reasonable Doubt, and that it wasn't better than this or that. Whatever. I think it's a pretty good disc, and has some good variety.

November 3, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack

The Four Horsemen Sampler

This is a backpacker's wet dream come true.

The Four Horsemen teaser cd is on sale at Sandbox Automatic. The damage? Just 5 dollars, or free if your order is over $50. For the uninitiated the Four Horsemen consists of Killah Priest, Ras Kass, Canibus, and Kurupt. These four guys (well, actually three of them) are lyrical icons to most indie hip-hop fans.

I haven't heard the cd yet but I'm hype to get it.

Here's what Sandbox says at their site:

Rumored to be in production all throughout 2003, the first taste of the hip-hop supercrew The Four Horsemen finally comes to fruition on this specially-priced introductory CD, featuring 9 new recordings which may or may not appear on the actual, official full-length project which has not been formally announced yet. These official artist copies are being run off independently by Killah Priest's camp here in NYC, so we expect the discs to be dropped off here at Sandbox towards the end of this coming week...we will be the first spot to ship these sought-after tracks to customers. To help promote this high-profile collabo, we are offering "The Horsemen Project" for the super-low price of $5, or even better yet, get it for FREE with any Sandbox purchase over $50 (before shipping charges)!

And here's the tracklisting:

The Horsemen
Shaky Love
Leather Steeds
Fourth Windz Blow
The Four Horsemen of Apolcalypse
The Fourth Seal


October 31, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Street Wars Vol 8

Here we go again.

P-Cutta releases another mixtape chronicling the many public feuds in the rap world. I have an article idea I want to put together for about this. But that will come later.

Ok. Let me not front. I'm addicted to these beef cd's. I have every single one that came out. Some diss
tracks have made me respect an artist more (Nature versus Nas), some less (Krs versus Nelly), and altogether this has been fun like wrestling (just keep the threats on wax fellas!)

Though I love it, I wonder if O-Dub thinks that this type of collection contributes to the problem with mixtapes these days? Ehh...probably not.

One question...where's the Joe Budden diss to 50 Cent? I was sure P-Cutta would have included that in there.

October 21, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

50 Shekel and the Jew Unit!

Every fad and trend needs good satire. And the popular 50 Cent has been ripe for a send-up for some time now. Enter Curtis Jackson's semitic doppelganger: 50 Shekel!

This guy's website is hilarious. He jacks "In da Club" and re-makes it as "In da Shul." And his crew is called J-J-J-J-J-J-Jew Unit!

He's appeared in the Wall Street Journal and New York Magazine. The Forward recently wrote this piece about his pre-history:

50 Shekel was working in Los Angeles as a production assistant when he first heard "In da Club." "They played it, like, 40 times.... so I asked myself, who is this 50 Cent?"

Slowly the idea began percolating in his mind: A Jewish boy like him would not be spending his time in da club, he would be in da shul. So 50 Shekel did his own variation. Where 50 Cent raps: "Go shorty! It's your birthday!" Shek raps: "Go boychik! It's your birthday!"

Ah...God bless the Jews.

October 10, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (30) | TrackBack

50 Cent Mixtapes

I found this link through a Google ad on my site. The Clinton Sparks mixtape website "" has an extensive 50 Cent mixtape collection. I'm impressed.

September 30, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

MTV Blogs Now?

I just found this MTV Blog today. I searched for one by Sway but then realized that MTV only has one which is a group blog. I was very excited at the thought that this will take music blogging a little more mainstream. Then actually read the posts and saw that it sucks.

Obviously they're hopping onto trend they see is becoming popular. But they're doing it late and wrong, just like when they added more hip-hop to their line-up a few years ago. Here are some suggestions for the folks there:

1. Update more often. 7 writers and there's a single post every other day? Bloggin is supposed to be quick and timely.

2. Use permalinks. It's not that hard. How can I link to a specific post they write unless it has it's own link?

3. Um...write about something.

I'll post more about this later

September 21, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bazooka Tooth

I was so impressed with the Bazooka Tooth cover art that I wanted cop the album without hearing any tracks first. Stupid right? In our world of P2P filesharing and the Google Keychain hack I should probably just snatch some free mp3 samples before I buy. Or I can do the legal thing and read reviews. Here's what I found:

1. Jon says "I never thought I'd say it... these sounds are too abstract for me." Yep. Sounds like an Aesop Rock album to me.

2. Beat heard only two tracks but says they're "hot as hell."

3. Cats Music thinks "The music of Bazooka Tooth is harder and thicker than 2001’s Labor Days or last year’s Daylight EP, with more of the sci-fi dystopia feel that pervaded other Definitive Jux albums by El-P and Cannibal Ox."

And so far that's it. I'll update this post as more reviews happen.

September 20, 2003 in Music | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack