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Friday October 31, 2014
Feature of the Week

[Run the Jewels 2] Don't cry.

Run the Jewels Review

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Video: Yannic & Carey Fountain - "This One Goes" (@DoReMeMovement)

Video: Yannic & Carey Fountain - "This One Goes" (prod. Yannic)

DoReMe: Yannic & Carey Fountain go bar for bar to bring you a very clever song over this hypnotic Yannic produced beat. Which MC can kill the other? Appropriately put "This One Goes".

Audio: Bigga Rankin f/ P-Nyce - "Who Gone Check Me" (@BiggaRankin00 @MsRiverCity)

Audio: Bigga Rankin f/ P-Nyce - "Who Gone Check Me"

Ms. RC: Bigga Rankin featuring P-Nyce “Who Gone Check Me,” produced by Red OnTheBeat. Bigga Rankin is one of the most powerful record/artist breakers in the business. He is CEO/founder of one of the most influential DJ crews in the country, Cool Running DJs.

Video: @BodegaBamz on How to Pick a Good Movie - Rap PSA - Ep 20 (@NoiseyMusic)

Video: Bodega Bamz on How to Pick a Good Movie - Rap PSA - Ep 20

Noisey: In this day and age, our time is limited, and our movie selection is infinite. With so many actors and directors out there and so much data to sift through, choosing the right movie can be a research-intensive task. With a life that's pretty much like a movie, Harlem's own Bodega Bamz is the perfect guide to the world of cinema, which is why we enlisted him for the Brisk Bodega Rap PSA Program. The next time you need to pick a quality flick, don't go with your Fan Boy instincts, trust Bodega Bamz's Tan Boy instincts instead and follow his advice.

Video: J-Zone - "Mad Rap/Stick Up" (@jzonedonttweet)

Video: J-Zone - "Mad Rap/Stick Up"

Zone: I have the lousiest YouTube presence of anyone in the modern music business. Never did like being on camera but we're in a visual age, so I'll meet the rest of the world halfway. My "Stick Up" b/w "Mad Rap" single just got a fresh pair of legs thanks to a wildly imaginative collage-style music video created by my talented friend, Kevin Young. And I'm barely in it. That's a win-win.

Some of you will note I have the same exact outfit on in all three of my existing music videos. As mentioned, I don't like being on camera, so I'd like to think of myself as the king of utilizing all available b-roll footage. But I do own multiple outfits. No, I'm serious.
Audio: @FelSweetenberg "Psalms of a Soldier" prod. @ApolloBrown (@Effiscienz)

Audio: Fel Sweetenberg "Psalms of a Soldier" prod. Apollo Brown

Effiscienz: *All Tracks Produced by APOLLO BROWN from the Thirty Eight album except "Potatoes", "Avoid Misery" & "Dangerous Infections" which is from the Dice Game album.

Video: Superfly Ky - "Never Alone" (@SuperflyKy)

Video: Superfly Ky - "Never Alone"

SK: The point we all face in life is deciding what to do for the rest of it. Does one settle for more solid and obtainable dreams, or does one continue to chase their true passion? Journey into the mind of Superfly Ky as he reviews his choice. A crowded career path that has his heart, but when there are so many artists in pursuit of this same dream—will he ever truly get noticed?

Audio: DJ Connect - "Well Connected"

Audio: DJ Connect - "Well Connected"

CJM: The newest release from Creative Juices Music: Dj Connect “Well Connected”. Dj Connect is a DJ/Producer from Sweden. He has traveled the globe over the last decade, collaborating with a wide variety or artists. “Well Connected” is a compilation featuring many of those collaborations. DJ Connected sharp clean sound, with hard hitting drums, accompanied by some of the best lyricists East to West you are sure to have this on repeat. Check the album sampler!

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Get On Down US Record Store Day - Run-DMC, Rammellzee Basquit, Planet Rock and People Records

Get On Down US Record Store Day - Run-DMC, Rammellzee Basquit, Planet Rock and People Records


Run-DMC "Christmas In Hollis / Peter Piper" picture sleeve 7-inch with "Audible Postcard"

Re-issue of group's classic holiday anthem with Keith Haring picture sleeve and an additional "Audible Postcard," back in print for the first time in more than 15 years.

Once you hear those warm-but-mildly-distorted intro horns (sampled from Clarence Carter's 1968 hit "Back Door Santa"), you are instantly filled with the holiday spirit, thanks to the most important hip-hop group of the 1980s. By late 1987 this incredible Run-DMC production (co-produced by Rick Rubin and Steve Ett) had taken full hold of the music world. That holiday season, the song was featured on the A & M Records charity compilation A Very Special Christmas and was also granted its own A-side release outside of the U.S., complete with a cover illustrated by the late Keith Haring.

Whether you are a die-hard hip-hop fan or a casual music listener, the song - a tribute to the group's hometown of Hollis, Queens - remains a classic December jam to this day, that also gets heads bopping in March or August. This version of the 7-inch also includes a little song called "Peter Piper" on the B-side that you may have heard before, plus the full lyrics to "Christmas In Hollis" printed on the back cover. And to make this package impossible to pass up, Get On Down is also including a playable "Audible Postcard" of "Christmas In Hollis" in addition to the vinyl - keep it as a collector's item or send to a friend to become the illest rap gift-giver of the year.

Various Artists Christmas Rap LP (Green or Red Vinyl)

Re-issue of 1987 Profile Records holiday compilation on colored vinyl, with songs by Run-DMC, Dana Dane, Sweet Tee, The Showboys, The Surf M.C.s, Spyder-D, and more

Leading off with the aforementioned Run-DMC smash, "Christmas In Hollis," this comp featured some of the hottest rap artists of the day, celebrating the holidays, hip-hop style. Highlights include Dana Dane's "Dana Dane Is Coming To Town," Sweet Tee's "Let The Jingle Bells Rock" and even the Surf M.C.s' "A Surf M.C. New Year," adding a California surfer (and, ahem, Beastie Boys rip-off) twist to the proceedings. Not to be overlooked is the classic front and back cover artwork, featuring a gift-wrapped B-Boy. It remains an essential, evergreen (pun intended) holiday album to this day. This special Get On Down edition features two versions: 750 LPs on Red Vinyl and 750 on Green Vinyl.

Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force "Planet Rock" 12-inch re-issue on glow-in-the-dark vinyl

B-Boy anthem from 1982 lights up any dancefloor… literally! First time ever on glow-in-the-dark vinyl.

Fresh off Bambaataa's historic donation of his vinyl collection to the Cornell University Hip-Hop Collection and the Fall 2014 "Renegades of Rhythm" tour by DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist celebrating his unparalleled contribution to hip-hop, Get On Down celebrates the song for which the Godfather of Hip-Hop is best known: 1982's "Planet Rock," a Kraftwerk-meets-Bronx-B-Boy anthem. Renowned the world over as a never-fail floor-filler, this new 12-inch pressing of the single is printed on glow-in-the-dark vinyl for the first time ever. Although Bambaataa may have gotten top-billing on the release, it was a team effort, with crucial contributions by a team including DJ Jazzy Jay, Afrika Islam, Arthur Baker, John Robie, a Roland TR-808 drum machine (aka Planet Patrol) and of course MCs Mr. Biggs, G.L.O.B.E. and Pow Wow. This edition is housed in a clear, thick plastic sleeve with a sticker on the front.

Rammellzee vs. K-Rob "Beat Bop" 12-inch on split black-and-white vinyl [Jean-Michel Basquiat artwork re-issue]

Re-issue of ultra-rare 1983 hip-hop masterpiece, co-produced and with artwork by the late Jean-Michel Basquiat

The original issue of the 1983 song "Beat Bop" by lyricists Rammellzee and K-Rob has been heard by many, but held by few. Only a reputed 500 of the song's initial run, on Jean-Michel Basquiat's one-off Tartown Records label, were made with jacket cover art by the infinitely influential graphic artist (and moonlighting musician and producer). They remain one of hip-hop's "Holy Grail" items, selling north of $1,500 if you can even find one. The audio, which clocked in at over 10 minutes, was issued - with no picture sleeve - on Profile Records soon after the Tartown pressings, and went on to influence countless MCs, with its minimal, languishing funk beat (produced by Basquiat) and Rammellzee's and K-Rob's next-level lyricism. The picture-sleeve version of the release has never been officially re-issued, and this edition, curated by hip-hop historian and archivist Noah Uman, goes the extra mile. It features officially-licensed original artwork from the Basquiat estate and a four-panel folded insert with deep background on the original single's creation, compiled by Andrew "Noz" Nosnitsky - including interviews with many of the artists involved with its production: Rammellzee, K-Rob, Glenn O'Brien, percussionist Al Diaz, Profile's Cory Robbins and more. Rammellzee left this Earth in 2010 and Basquiat passed away in 1988 - with this deluxe reissue, their important contributions to the formative years of hip-hop on wax are remembered and celebrated. A must-own for any hip-hop purist.

Various Artists For The People Part 1

Five 7-inch singles with deluxe embossed carrying case. Limited edition of 1,500 hand-numbered boxes.

Continuing their People Records deluxe reissues series - which launched on Record Store Day in April 2014 with the release of the JBs' classic 1972 album Food For Thought - this unique box is a celebration of James Brown's People label and some of the imprint's most famous singles (two which were released in 1974, 40 years ago). Featured 45s include James Brown's "Escape-ism" (1971); Lyn Collins' "Think (About It)" (1972); Fred Wesley & The JBs' "Same Beat" (1973); The Devils' "X-Sorcist" (1974); and Maceo & The Macks' "Cross The Track (We Better Go Back)" (1974).

Each 45 has been lovingly re-created with visuals taken from the original artwork. And beyond the five singles themselves, this set includes a deluxe, cloth-covered 45s carrying case with a People Records logo on the exterior and purple People embossing throughout the interior. This is a soul, funk and hip-hop DJ's dream!

GET ON DOWN, the record label and online boutique dedicated to presenting and celebrating music with unique packaging and exclusive extras, has another amazing slate of items available for "BLACK FRIDAY" RECORD STORE DAY 2014: Friday, November 28. Get On Down was given the inaugural "Adapter Award" in September 2013 by the Record Store Day organization (for "Record Store Day Release of the Year 2013") for its GZA Liquid Swords 4-LP "Chess Box."

For a list of participating U.S. stores where these exclusive items can first be purchased in-person-only on November 28, visit .
The (W)rap Up - Week of October 21, 2014

If you missed any of the new reviews this past week including T.I.'s "Paperwork" then do yourself a favor and check out this week's edition of the (W)rap Up!

[Paperwork] T.I. :: Paperwork
Grand Hustle/Columbia Records

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

"T.I. has ambitious plans for "Paperwork" - so grand that I admire his hustle but also so grandiose that I worry if it will all come to fruition. He talks about wanting to release "Paperwork" as a trilogy of albums 6-9 months apart, and how he wants to film a movie to illustrate the subject matter of the songs. The rapper who once aptly described himself as a "Trouble Man - always in trouble man" needs to stay free of legal and persnal drama for long enough to make that possible. There's no doubt his heart is in the right place and his intentions sincere - how many rappers do you know that stopped and took the time to stop a suicidal man from jumping off a building? (True story.) I just want Cliff to worry about himself though. If the "Trouble Man" could go on a five year run where he's trouble free, he'd not only achieve all of his personal dreams but be too large for VH1. His reality show would have to be on NBC or CBS. A typical T.I. album is loaded with singles ready to blow and "Paperwork" is no exception, the latest of which is the Tommy Brown produced "New National Anthem" with Skylar Grey crooning the hook. Obviously some of the sentiments are going to have to be cleaned up - like when he says "What the f#@% you know about being a black man in America?" He's clearly inspired by the shooting of Trayvon Martin though, and the song would be timely even if it had been recorded two years ago given the shooting of Michael Brown this summer shows that history seems (unfortunately) doomed to repeat itself. The song that generated the most buzz to date though is the DJ Mustard produced "No Mediocre" but for unintentional reasons - he became embroiled in a feud with Azealia Banks and his protege on the song Iggy Azalea became embroiled in a feud with Nicki Minaj. The latter two have stated that the media took their alleged beef out of context, but I haven't heard of Ms. Banks apologizing to Tip or vice versa. Regardless it's the kind of buzz that Mr. Harris can ACTUALLY use - it beats the kind he gets for being sent to jail on weapons charges or back to the pen again for violating his probation."

Akrobatik :: Built to Last :: Akrobatik MC
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Built to Last] The title of "Built to Last" is both an affirmation and a reminder of Boston-based emcee Akrobatik's presence in hip-hop. It's possible some people had forgotten about Ak, but six years is a fairly long time to go between albums, and that's how long it has been since "Absolute Value" dropped. That's not to say Ak hasn't been busy in the interim - he was lecturing on the college circuit, dropping singles, performing and dealing with some medical issues (more on that in a minute) but for some people if you don't have a new album in stores you haven't been doing anything. It's a fallacy of the music industry in general and fickle hip-hop blogs in particular - everyone is so focused on "the next big thing" it's easy to skip the little things that are just as important and more worthwhile. It's 2014 so even the term "in stores" needs redefinition, as these days a physical presence on a shelf seems unnecessary - occasionally even antiquated. Artists continue to embrace a direct-to-consumer model of marketing, bypassing the middle man and keeping more of the earnings from the hard work they put into their music in the process. "Built to Last" is built to succeed with this in mind, put out directly by Ak through his own Bandcamp imprint, making it easy for consumers to choose between a physical or a digital copy of his music. For a couple dollars more Ak will even personally autograph the CD before he drops it in the mail to you. If that's not your thing, or you just don't need a hard copy to hold in your hand, the entire album is available for $10. To promote the new album and to remind people that Akrobatik is still a factor in hip-hop, Ak dropped a "Built to Last" video with a post-apocalyptic feel. Zombies seem to be staggering toward or past Ak at every turn, and Ak scavenges for supplies in deserted homes and eerily vacant parking garages. "

MarQ Spekt and Blockhead :: JustPlayWitIt :: HiPNOTT Records
as reviewed by Patrick Taylor

[JustPlayWitIt]"MarQ Spekt's career spans decades. He started out as a battle rapper in Philadelphia in the 90s before being signed to Subverse Records in 2000. That label folded before he could release an album, but he did put out work with as part of the Broady Champs in 2005 and Invizzibl Men in 2008. In 2011 he put out "Machete Vision," entirely produced by Kno of the Cunninglynguists. His latest album, "JustPlayWitIt," is entirely produced by Blockhead, who has previously worked with Aesop Rock and Illogic. (For those not familiar with HiPNOTT Records, it is the label run by indie rap blog It is an interesting state of affairs when blogs are running labels.) Spekt's battle rap roots are all over this album. It's one big aural assault, with Spekt taking out anyone in his path, and especially other rappers. You wouldn't want to call Spekt a conscious rapper, but he does deserve credit for mixing in some genuine knowledge amongst his verbal beatdowns. A lot of "JustPlayWitIt" is boasting and smack-talking, but there are also some insightful rhymes. MarQ Spekt's aggression is balanced by Blockhead, who makes "JustPlayWitIt" the record it is. Blockhead has an ability to mix interesting and often melancholy music with hard-hitting beats. No matter if he's sampling mourning pianos, or sitars, or lumbering upright bass, he always lays fat beats underneath it. Most importantly, Blockhead adds color to Spekt's often monochrome delivery. Like Aesop Rock, Spekt is an intricate rapper with a flat delivery, which pairs excellently with Blockhead's melodic beats. I had a problem with Spekt's rhymes, and it is the same problem I have with all battle rappers: Fourteen tracks of someone calling people names is a lot to take, especially when they use the second-person "you" so often. It's hard not to take it personally when someone is saying they will destroy "you." I don't mean to come off as over-sensitive or whiney, but I don't like being yelled at, especially when I'm listening to music."

Saigon :: G.S.N.T.3. - The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard :: Squid Ink Squad Records
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[G.S.N.T.3.]"One of the main representatives of the 'mixtape rappers' era, Saigon had to wait an eternity to release his proper debut album. A little more over three years later he's already presenting the third installment of what now has to be called the "Greatest Story Never Told" series. Subtitled "The Troubled Times of Brian Carenard," it's the first one without the support of Suburban Noize Records. Nevertheless "the motherfucking saga continues," one might be tempted to quote N.W.A, were it not for Saigon's image consciousness. His story - or the story he'd like to tell - is essentially that of the bad guy gone good, so quoting the bigggest icons of gangster rap seems inappropriate. And yet N.W.A and their generation packed a lot of political dynamite into their music, and if Saigon has a problem with street orientated rap, he likely has today's unreflected glorification of the fast life in mind. He's on a mission and like any proselyte doesn't hesitate to let you know about his conversion "from gangster to good guy." Detractors are easily found and named (Jimmy Iovine apparently conclusively being identified as the industry fall guy). Just Blaze, while not actively involved in the production, encourages him in the album intro to stick to his vision, and Saigon complies instantly with "Come Alive," orchestrated by DJ Corbett as a typical contempo rap/pop combo. If this crosses over, it's a Trojan Horse rolling right into the courtyard of the record industry."

Smoke DZA & 183rd :: Ringside EP :: DatPiff
** RapReviews "Back to the Lab" series **
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

[Ringside EP] "Every now and then the RapReviews staff will debate the merits of what belongs in the Back to the Lab category. Though the ostensible purpose of its existence is to look back at albums that either (A.) got released before the site was founded or (B.) got overlooked due to the overwhelming flood of hip-hop releases, it also serves as a calendar line in the sand that generally extends 12-18 months back from the current date of a review's publication. We can't easily lump a review of something on the shelf for a year in with new albums that just hit retail, unless the album has somehow been updated or re-released in a new format. This happens occasionally with mixtapes, especially if they get an "official" release. That's not going to happen with the "Ringside EP." First and foremost the self-confessed pro wrestling fan DZA goes all out with the WWE (or WWE owned) samples on this five track DatPiff download. It's possible that the up-and-coming rapper could afford to pay the sample clearance fees - but would you really put down that kind of cheddar for just eleven minutes of music? That's the second reason this will never see an official release - it's a clear bit of time sensitive fandom that was intended to drop the same day as WrestleMania 29, though according to DP's own records it came out a day later. The real nail in the coffin of an official release (and this pun is definitely intended) is the opening track "The Streak.""

Vince Staples :: Hell Can Wait :: ARTium/Def Jam
as reviewed by Clara Wang

[Hell Can Wait] They say that you are a product of your environment. "Hell Can Wait" embodies this; Vince Staples' debut EP evokes a kid coming into his own, with the difficulties of the ghetto underlying the regular trappings of ho's and bankrolls. As a young man who grew up in the meccas of West Coast rap, his music harkens to socially-conscious thug themes reminiscent of Tupac and N.W.A. Here's a gangbanger who's been in the game a minute and fully realizes the damage he causes. The smooth production strikes a neat balance with Staples' cool delivery, over bare-bones West Coast beats and screeching sirens. It's more minimalistic than Staples' previous mixtapes, implying a serious tone. There's no comedy here - just a cold-blooded high school dropout. Even the EP's requisite "turn-up" single of "65 Hunnid" serves up a killer's viewpoint with its killer hook. Is he jumping aboard the protest following Ferguson regarding police brutality? Yes, "Hands Up," (produced by No I.D.) as a single does seem suspect to the trend. But there is more genuineness in the work when the EP is taken as a whole with Staples' persona as a "sensitive" gangster-rapper. He's simply noting the fear that people who dress a certain way and live in certain areas have for the police. The timing of the single, which dropped less than a month after the Ferguson shootings, is more a reaction to the event than following a fad. In fact, Staples scalds the thirsty hordes amassing Twitter fans off the heat of a tragic incident, with lines like, "This is all a part of Huey P and Bobby prediction, making profit off of violence they arousing attention."The repetition in "Blue Suede" reminds us of the monotonous grind of what a gangsta's life is really like - all that sacrifice when "all I wanted was that blue suede." Suddenly he's just the boy in Langston Hughes's story who turned to the fast life because there was no kind Mrs. Bates."

Ray West & O.C. :: Ray's Cafe :: Red Apples 45/Fat Beats
as reviewed by Matt Jost

[Ray's Cafe]"From emo to cloud rap, from drug to weirdo rap, a lot of more recent rap music has been about capturing moods, however vaguely or precisely. "Ray's Cafe" excels at mood-capturing. And although some would argue that it has little in common with contemporary sounds, it's actually a very modern approach to the kind of rap that refers to a time in the past. Producer Ray West has already been part of Diggin' In The Crates side projects like "LUV NY" and "Everything's Berri," and "Ray's Cafe" strengthens the D.I.T.C. affiliation by joining him with Omar Credle. The recently released deluxe CD edition essentially combines the original "Ray's Cafe" vinyl from January and the upcoming "Ray's Cafe - The Afterhours EP." O.C. plays the part of maître d', making the listener feel welcome at this virtual cafe - that could be situated in any major city but is of course particularly easily imaginable in New York. It's a sanctuary for kindred souls who enjoy a moderate amount of shots and smokes accompanied by charming companionship and good music. It's a scenery typically populated with blues and jazz musicians and an environment a rapper primarily has to prove himself in. There are a number of rappers who could emcee an evening of refined entertaiment or just an informal afterhours, although all need to bow before the late Guru, who hosted a total of four "Jazzmatazz" projects. But do not mistake "Ray's Cafe" for "Jazzmatazz." It's two guys creating the illusion of a band playing for a gathering of cool cats and hot foxes - canned applause included. At the same time O.C. does his best to establish the place as a metaphor for a universal refuge from the hustle and bustle of the streets where you can check your cares at the door. Sounds like an advertising slogan for any hip joint, but in O.C.'s words it becomes more."
Audio: Future Shock - "Secret Weapon" (@SportnLife206)

Audio: Future Shock - "Secret Weapon"

Sportn Life: Check out the most recent visuals from Future Shock.

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Welcome to for the week of October 28th, 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! Check out Black Milk's "If There's a Hell Below," Blu's "Good to Be Home," an editorial on Charles Barkley, Steve 'Flash' Juon's The Hip-Hop Shop #297, Liotta's "Rap Music Heaven Is An Emcee's Hell," Logic's "Under Pressure," Rapsody's "The Beauty and the Beast," The Regiment x Random's "A Gamer's Anthem," Run the Jewels' "Run the Jewels 2" (our featured review) amd Emanuel Wallace's The (W)rap Up for October 21, 2014.

Be sure to check the RapReviews newsfeed for the latest news and updates. Subscribe to the newsfeed via your browser for daily updates like Cornell's Adler Hip-Hop Archive. also recommends The SmackDown RunDown from the AngryMarks Podcast Network. We appreciate your support and welcome any feedback you have. Thanks for visiting!!

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