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Monday September 15, 2014
Feature of the Week

[Dark Horse] Never coming in last.

Twista Review

Latest News Headlines
Skila - Fresh to Deaf

The arts of rhyming and production aren’t easy for anyone to master, but they’re nearly impossible to when you can’t hear. Skila, an artist from Queens, NY, who both rhymes and produces, had to deal with this fact three years ago when, already deaf in his right ear, he was given the diagnosis that he had Meniere's Disease in his left ear, which was causing it to slowly go deaf, as well. The man who caught the rhyme bug from hanging out with the likes of Creature, Gab Gacha, Buck Live and Jam Dot was suddenly unable to record music. Thankfully, through taking care of himself he regained some of his hearing in his left ear and immediately hit the studio. This week I sat down with Skila to discuss the resulting album, Audionarcotics, his path back to being a recording artist, and the disease that nearly robbed him of his career.

Read the full story at:

Big Stat No Longer Hushh-ed

In the latest edition of the Fairfield County Weekly I have an interview with Big Stat that has so many interesting revelations it’s tough to choose the biggest. Is it that Hushh is no more? Is it that Stat has logged over 100,000 miles driving over the past two years for the sole purpose of networking? Is it that Canibus sounds like he’s ready to do a commercial for Subaru? The feature has all that plus info on the documentary chronicling Stat and his former partner in rhyme Diadem’s life and career and details on Stat’s recent work with Method Man and Redman.

Check out the story at:

Benefit Concert For Children With HIV

Press release courtesy of

January 20th: San Francisco Ca -- Yoga Tree and Upmost High Records, in conjunction with Artistpr, present: A BENEFIT SHOW FOR CHILDREN WITH H.I.V. who are supported by the Seeds of Light Foundation and Power to the People Foundation.

"This inspirational and humanitarian Love Dub Event is happening at the perfect time to open up your heart and share your love with those in need," says music promotion publicist John Mahoney from Don't miss the Love Dub Event on Friday, February 13th, 2009 from 8:30PM -12:00AM at Yoga Flow Castro. Address: 97 Collingwood at 18th. San Francisco Ca 94114 Phone: 415 701-9642 Tickets are $40 each, and 15% of this event's profits will be donated to your charity of choice: Power to the Peaceful, Seeds of Light or the Surfrider Foundation.

The Ragga Soul Jahs, Reggae Engineer, The Scientist, and Hawaiian Lyon will come together with Catherine Chapman of Yoga Tree San Francisco for one unforgettable event promoting Unity, Love, Dub, Reggae and Yoga, in which we will meditate upon love through music and movement.

"This spiritually enriching evening will begin with a Native American blessing by Virgil Freeman of the Pit River Tribe. There will a Hatha Yoga session, followed by a guided meditation for inner healing, both conducted by Catherine Chapman of Yoga Tree San Francisco," said music publicist John Mahoney of

The meditation class is accompanied by All Star Ragga Soul Jahs, who will be joined onstage by master percussionist, Hawaiian Lyon. The music will be mixed live by Dub legend, Hopeton Brown, aka, "The Scientist." The Scientist, who comes from Kingston, Jamaica, is world-renowned for his unique, highly creative dub skills. The Scientist has mixed over 250 albums for major musicians, ranging from Bob Marley and The Wailers to the Rolling Stones. The Scientist and Hawaiian Lyon have joined forces in the last decade, creating many tours and albums in the spirit of one love. Hawaiian Lyon is internationally known for his Reggae and Worldbeat dub styling, as well as Nyabingi drumming. Hawaiian Lyon is one of the creative forces behind The Love Dub event, and has played with Don Carlos, Eek-A-Mouse, and Ras Michael. Hawaiian Lyon's original music inspired Catherine Chapman to assemble an event honoring love, community, and unity.

The event will also include Kirtan, lead by Mirabai, Janet Stone, Christopher Love, and Elizabeth Rosser. Surrounded by the live sounds of Dub meditation music, we will move, breathe, and connect with our souls and each other during this peaceful, harmonious experience. We hope to create a wave of love that travels around the world!

Love Dub is a limited engagement at the Yoga Flow Castro. Address: 97 Collingwood at 18th. San Francisco Ca 94114 Phone: 415 701-9642 for 150 people. The first annual event sold out, so hurry and buy your tickets now! This event will be videotaped by Upmost High Records, and the concert will be engineered by The Scientist. Publicity for Love Dub is provided by, Hollywood, CA.

Sponsors for Love Dub are: Satori Clothing, Yoga Tree, and Upmost High Records. We gladly welcome additional sponsors. If you would like information on being a sponsor please email Artistpr at artistpr6(at)yahoo(dot)com For more information, please check out the following links: .

X-Clan's Brother J Comments On Obama Taking Office

Press release courtesy of Kerosene Media.

For Immediate Release:

X-Clan’s Brother J Comments On Obama Taking Office;
Debut More New Material Online From Upcoming Album

New Album “Mainstream Outlawz” Out January 27th Takes Aim At Those Planning
Hip-hop’s Funeral

Hip-hop legend Brother J has released the following statement about President-elect Barack Obama being sworn into office. The historical event has prompted the following statement from the hip-hop legend:

“I am so happy with the timing of this album release, as this is the year of the birth of change. Obama is a symbol of America breaking racial traditions; it will mean nothing to the people if we don't change for the better. Less violence,  more education, more jobs and less prisoners. Barack in office does not mean the system is all good, but it’s a start to try get it right by the people's standard.  X-Clan's new album rubs against the grain of ‘industry standard,’ just like Barack Obama becoming commander-in-chief. Conscious music is destined to ride the streets and the charts in heavy rotation.

“People are ready for a balance. X-Clan is not here to change the game, but we want to offer a different taste of lyric and thump that the industry is not offering to the people regularly. People are more intelligent than they are judged to be. The people will stand up and support when the time is right, and the time is now. The youth are imitating the art and molding street tales into a lifestyle. Hip-hop music represents freedom, glorifying the gutter makes it cool to be a slave. We need more music of empowerment, intelligence and flow to bring it all together. That would be the change in the game!”

X-Clan have debuted the track “Keys To Your City” online at  from their upcoming new studio album “Mainstream Outlawz”, which is slated for a January 27th, 2009 release through Suburban Noize Records. With the release of their upcoming album, X-Clan are on a quest to bring hip-hop back to the roots of the genre with the aid some of the industry’s biggest lyrical assassins including Bun B of UGK, Medusa and Supanatural. X-Clan are proudly waving the flag for hip-hop, while others would rather plan the genre's funeral.


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10 Years & 1 Movie Later - My Thoughts on "Notorious"

"Notorious" opened to audiences nationwide in the United States this weekend. Most of you visiting the site or reading this article are well aware of the film - in fact my advertising firm has been plastering EXTRA large billboards all over OHHLA and RapReviews promoting the film. Don't let that fool you into thinking I have any kind of pull whatsoever - I had to shell out $20 for popcorn and two movie tickets like the rest of America to see this film yesterday afternoon. That price level often makes me think twice about going to see a flick, because if you're patient the film will be out on DVD for the same price or less in six months (or $5 more if you go for the Blu-ray). Movies about hip-hop are fairly few and far between though, biographical ones even more so. My professional curiosity as a hip-hop historian was also piqued by the concept of a Christopher Wallace film. Even more than that, I felt like I had a personal stake in the film, given I came of age to Biggie's music. His remixes and soundtrack appearances got my attention when I was still in high school, his music shaped my college career, and his untimely demise occurred before I even finished my degree. I suspected watching "Notorious" would be like reliving a six year span of my life at the same time I got to witness his. Before now there had been unauthorized documentaries, books on his unsolved murder, all sorts of tribute albums and everything else under the sun dedicated to the Notorious one. To me "Notorious" had the potential to be a definitive statement not only on his life and times but on MINE - an Andrew Jackson well spent.

The trailers before "Notorious" seemed to play to a mainstream as opposed to a hip-hop audience. Only one film struck me as being target-marketed directly to me - a comedy/action flick titled "Next Day Air" starring Donald Faison, Mos Def and Mike Epps. The premise is that a hapless delivery man (about to be fired by his MOM for his incompetence) takes a package containing drugs to the wrong address. Rather than inform the delivery man of his mistake, the cheerful recipients immediately plan to sell the drugs to a well connected friend and pocket the profits. When the drug cartel finds out their package went missing, they believe the delivery man stole it, and he has to try to make amends before they kill him not knowing the contents of the box are LOOONG gone. While the movie strikes me as having some amount of comedic potential, this is likely to be one of those "I'll wait for the DVD" films - and in this case I mean RENT not buy. I was also intrigued by the "Wolverine" prequel although I wonder if X-Men movie fans will buy into it without Charles Xavier and the rest of his crew. Thankfully Hugh Jackman is still playing the role or the movie would suck an incredible cock and I wouldn't even bother with it whatsoever. One other trailer comes to mind - "12 Rounds" starring John Cena. I was actually hoping it would be a boxing flick, but instead it's a very predictable rip-off of "Die Hard With a Vengeance" where our cop hero Cena is given specific time limits to complete impossible tasks. This is not a film I will see it theatres, buy on DVD, or even rent from the local video store. If it shows up in a $5 bargain bin by next Christmas, I may pick it up, but that's about it. If I get a comp on it as part of my WrestleMania travel package though, what the hell, I'll go. Nothing else comes to mind - the rest of the trailers were a blur.

"Notorious" starts with Biggie's son CJ Wallace portraying the life of one young CHRISSY-POO as his strict but affectionate mother likes to call him. Through CJ's eyes we see life growing up in do or die Bed-Stuy, where life was hard and the only heroes were the hustlers on the corner. Young Chris wanted to wear the clean white sneaks and fat gold chains of his idols, but Mom Dukes wouldn't let him off the stoop to get anywhere near that kind of trouble. The reappearance of Christopher's erstwhile father changed all that. Mom begrudgingly let him in their apartment to talk and almost as quickly threw him out when he offered a token C-note instead of taking any real interest in his son's well being. With no other male role model in his life, Chris made the street entrepeneurs his idols. He puts down the pen and pad while writing rhymes about hating his dad and finally ventures off the stoop despite his mother's potential repercussions. His friend D-Roc proved to be a perfect conduit into the drug game, and soon Chris was making hand to hand sales "like you're slapping the man a five."

From there we quickly progress to Jamal Woolard playing Biggie Smalls, the teenage son who now has a thriving career in illegal drugs. Biggie dresses down to fool mom into thinking he's an angel, then unlocks a secret stash once outdoors with his gold chains and virgin white sneakers to wear to school. The young man has problems though - he's "smarter than he looks" according to his teachers but he's learned he can make more selling drugs or being a garbage man than his educators can, so he plays class clown until he gets the boot. That's exactly what he wanted anyway - he just wants to kick it on the corner with his crew. Biggie also has a girlfriend who's pregnant, and he's trying to make more loot to support her and his soon to be born daughter. To kill time while selling rocks Biggie raps for his friends, who see his potential and urge him to challenge a neighborhood rap star named Preme. Biggie wins the crowd, but loses two years behind bars shortly after when he's caught dealing. Wallace vents his frustrations by writing book after book of rhymes, sharpening his skills for a soon-to-come rap career.

Now if you already know Biggie's life story, you know how the rest of the movie goes down from this point forward. If you don't, I don't feel like I should give away the whole plot before you put down your own Andrew Jackson on it. Let's shift up then to whether or not the movie realistically portrays said life, starting with Jamal Woolard. Personally I believe Woolard was the perfect choice to play Notorious B.I.G. Let's not pull punches about this - Biggie was no svelte teen idol - and that was part of his appeal. Through his personality and his incredible rap ability Biggie turned a deficit into a positive. Biggie admitted in his songs he was a "heartthrob never, black and ugly as ever" but the fat man from Bedford-Stuyvesant was as charming as Frank Sinatra to the ladies, and Woolard oozes the same charisma Wallace did. From the diminutive thugged out Lil' Kim to the statuesque beauty of Faith Evans, women fell for Notorious like apples fall from trees. This also turned out to be a negative in the end, as Biggie was a little TOO charming for his own good, resulting in his lovers becoming enemies with each other and feeling no trust when he went out on tour. Kim has complained to the press that she is portrayed as too conniving but I feel Naturi Naughton was spot on as the spunky yet sensitive Kim. She really did want the best for Christopher Wallace, but she also wanted him all to herself and was very reluctant to share. Antonique Smith was also excellent in the role of Faith Evans, occasionally wooden but still easily believable as the shapely diva whose good looks and beautiful voice won Christopher's heart enough to wife her. The strongest of all female performances though was Angela Bassett as Voletta Wallace, Biggie's frustrated but still loving and supportive mother. The accent may have faltered once or twice but not in a way that shattered the role, as you never had any doubt how much she loved her son no matter how much trouble and drama swirled around him.

On the flip side the central male figures in Biggie's life come up a little short in the flick. Dennis L.A. White as D-Roc is by far the most believable and realistic, right down to his unwillingness to compromise when he thinks he can further Biggie's rap career by doing a jail bid in his place. The scene feels exaggerated for the sake of the film's plot, a little too "Law & Order" if you will, but until I can re-read a biography of Wallace's life I'll accept it at face value. Derek Luke as Sean Combs though is to quote a Biggie song DEAD WRONG. Arguably Puffy is such a unique cat, for better AND for worse, that Combs is the only man who could ever play Combs in a movie. I realize how absurd that would be to film, let alone how awkward it would be for Combs to play himself as real standing next to a fictional version of Wallace, but they definitely could have cast someone who LOOKED more like Combs let alone had his mannerisms down better. He's reduced to the role of an "aiyyo" hypeman in many scenes, and when the Suge Knight character derides him in a pivotal scene setting up the East/West feud you have to wonder what the beef really is. Knight claimed both in film and in real life that Puffy was making himself a star at the expense of being in every song and video Bad Boy made, but the statement had far more truth in real life. This Puff Daddy isn't nearly obnoxious enough to be real. Other than their keen sense of marketing saavy, the two men are nothing alike. Anthony Mackie gets an A for effort trying to portray Tupac Shakur, first as an intelligent and affable young man, then as an increasingly paranoid and vengeful rap star. Unfortunately Shakur is another man who is hard to accurately portray on screen, because Mackie is far from nihilistic and paranoid ENOUGH to get the larger than life Shakur right. It may be too much to hope for in a film about Biggie that Tupac also be realistic - the movie has to focus on Wallace first - but considering how close Woolard came to the real thing it's hard not to notice how little his unintentional rival came to duplicating that feet.

In the end "Notorious" strikes enough right notes and few enough wrong ones to be satisfying. Minor things irked me here and there, such as Biggie songs playing in the background that chronologically hadn't even been recorded yet in the film's timeline, but one can argue that's the film's "score" and not meant to be literal in context. It's still disconcerting all the same. On the other hand Wallace's steadfast refusal to elevate the beef with Shakur is very accurately portrayed, as he constantly refuses to call Shakur out even when the crazed rapper gets in his face time and again in person and on wax. The only time Wallace snaps in the film is when a picture of Shakur with his wife Faith Evans surfaces in a magazine, and unfortunately Biggie takes out his frustrations by scaring her to death instead of calling Shakur out for it. This too seems accurate as the two were estranged (but not seperated) at the time of his death. What haunts me about the film is the same thing that haunted me in 1997 when he died. In interviews and on his album Biggie sounded like a man who had been matured by the traumatic experiences of his young life and his rapidly expanding role as a father to his young children. In both cases at the end Wallace was ready for a whole new stage in his career and his life, only to be gunned down before "the new improved B.I.G." could step into the limelight with his sophomore album. Seeing the funeral procession through Brooklyn is as emotional now as it was back then. Like the rapper the movie portrays, "Notorious" is not without its flaws but will still leave you charmed and ultimately heartbroken. Don't be surprised if you catch yourself rapping along with Woolard as he performs Biggie's songs - just like you're watching a music video from the genuine article himself. His performance is that good and it makes this film, though it's hard to wonder where he goes from here considering just how much he looks and sounds like B.I.G. I'm already looking forward to whatever transformation he undergoes for his next starring role to see how it compares to this one, and the fact I want to see him again proves just how compelling he can be. Whether you're a fan of the man and his career or happened to skim across this article because you're curious, you'll enjoy "Notorious" either way - a powerful story about a young man who for a very short time made the whole world his oyster. I hope his children better understand the father they knew so little of when they see this film.

The Adam B Experience (ABX) Podcast #10!

The Adam B Experience

Adam B: "Here's the latest podcast. Sorry, no flowery intro, gotta finish editing my interview for this week! As always, feedback is welcome, just hit me up at Enjoy the show!" Well maybe Adam doesn't want to say more but fuck it, I DO. This is one of the craziest editions of ABX ever. Not only does Adam bust out some of the best underground bangers you've ever heard, he plays a parody of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and tells a story about getting GAY RAP PORN in the mail. No bullshit! If you've never checked out The Adam B Experience now is he time, and the show is 100% PODSAFE and TOTALLY FREE for listeners at - no worries about downloading or sharing this show. Tell your friends to check it out at!

Download Here (right click to save)

Hip-Hop Shop #18 - Saigon, Tanya Morgan, Zion I

The Hip-Hop Shop is the precursor to Kayfabe 4 Dummies every Sunday night, a 30 minute show of hip-hop tracks and talk. On this week's show McFly and Steve 'Flash' Juon discuss everything from movies to wrestling all while playing new tracks by Saigon, Tanya Morgan and Zion I. Our friend The Cancer from K4D calls in too! Tune in every Sunday at 9:30 PM EST, 8:30 Central via and if you miss the live show be sure to look for the replay here on RapReviews or via our sponsor The shows are 100% podsafe so distribute to your friends and tell them to visit Enjoy!

Download Here (right click to save)

Urbalist - Beating Cancer with Rhymes

Growing up in the middle class suburb of Westfield, New Jersey, life was pretty normal for Urbalist. He had his own group of friends, and started rhyming in his mid-teens. In 1999 he went off to college at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, met Moses "Moe Mentum" Hernandez, and the two formed a group. Something happened on the way to stardom, though, Urbalist received the news that he had cancer. Determined to beat it, Urbalist decided to write rhymes during the entire experience. Those rhymes turned into an album, Cancerous Flow: Lyrical Journal, that details his journey from the time he was diagnosed all the way up through his eventual victory over the disease. This week I sat down with Urbalist to find out more about the recording of the album, what it feels like for him when he listens to it now, and some of the other projects he’s working on.

Read the full story at:

Unfortunate Stabbing at Party for "Notorious" Movie Premiere

Credit to for bringing us this news. "Police report that four men were stabbed outside of a club in NYC promoting a party for the film premiere bio-documentary movie of slain rapper Notorious B.I.G.. Police say that a 21-year-old victim was stabbed various times and is in critical condition in Brookday Hospital. Three other club goers were also stabbed and are in stable condition.The Djumbala Club in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn was the location of the stabbing. No further information has been released by police regarding this incident." Finalists Episode 6 Is LIVE

This update courtesy of Presents... The Finalists, Season 2

New York, NY (January 16, 2009) -, what's the science? Hope you had a great week, this one has been full of surprises for all of us over here!

We're now down to five Finalists and we've really turned the heat up on the remaining contestants. The previous elimination task saw our Finalists putting on a live show at a local venue, rockin the mic, crowd surfing, fliering cars and in general keeping the spirit of self-promotion alive with the intent of making people love them. Yes. Unfortunately, we had to eliminate someone and this week, Obae from Denver, Colorado was cut. You can watch a condensed episode of The Finalists here on our Kyte Channel here, but if you'd like to see the extended version with guest appearances from Rhymefest and Skyzoo, click here.

Also be sure to check out our Finalists on Kyte too, they've got a host of great content on their own personal channels! We're gearing up for the The Producer Finalists in the coming days, so be sure to tune to hear some serious slaps!

Now, a few other quick items of note:
*** Finalists: Episode 6 – The Live Show

Rhymefest drops some science about live shows for Episode 6

    * The live show is one of the most important parts of an emcee's appeal
    * The contestants all did their thing, but Obae was the one chosen to go home
    * Watch the extended version of this week's episode here

*** Had The Exclusive Premiere of Q-Tip's New Video "ManWomanBoogie"

Q-Tip, Amanda Diva and Rik Cordero link for a classic video!

    * Director Rik Cordero takes a classic approach to Tip's new single, "ManWomanBoogie"
    * Anyone else peep the Barbara Fritchie historical plug?!
    * Go cop "The Renaissance," it's in stores NOW!!


Exclusive Interview With Saigon, Talks Joe Budden Beef

    * Saigon gives an update on his latest projects, offers opinion on hip-hop's new jacks
    * Addresses Joe Budden's "Letter To Siagon" & promises to return fire soon

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Welcome to for the week of September 16th, 2014!! Please like us on Facebook and shop Amazon through RapReviews so we can bring you new material every week. This week we have TEN new items for you: Amp Live's "Headphone Concerto," an editorial on Adrian Peterson, Ensemble Mik Nawooj's "Hip-Hop Orchestra," the "Illect Recordings: Mind the Rap Volume 3" compilation, Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #291, Mirandom's "The Otherworld EP," Sonnyjim & Leaf Dog's "How to Tame Lions," Twista's "Dark Horse" (our featured review), Ugly Heroes' "Ugly Heroes EP" and Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for September 9, 2014!

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