Wednesday, September 28, 2005

God Bless The Dead...


only the good die young

I apologize for the lack of posts in the last couple of weeks. I’ve been grinding trying to make some money. I sold off half my studio to get an ill laptop to rock Serato Scratch Live for when I DJ. If you are in the Wilkes-Barre area, please come out to Gondas Elbow Room (111 North Main St, Wilkes Barre, PA) every Tues and Sat night from 10 to 2, to watch me kill it. It’s a small dive bar, but cheap drinks and I'll be playing mad 90's hip-hop and all kinds of other shit. If you’re a fan of the site you’ll get down there. But anyways today’s post is about the dead artists that are in the hip hop arena. Hip Hop is such a young genre of music with its conception just in the late 70's that you really don’t have a senior crowd within it. It just hasn’t been around long enough like Rock and Roll or Jazz where you have old heads. So with that when an artist dies, it very rarely is by natural causes. A lot of the deaths in hip-hop have been violent and somewhat self inflicted, by say obesity or drug abuse. It seems that with success and fame, there is a lot of bad blood that flows around. And past lives from there days in the street seem to rear there ugly heads again. Death somewhat comes with the territory when cats are portraying drug dealers and gangstas. But its fucked up cause seriously some of the best tracks and talent has been from the rappers that died before there time. While most of them have had very short careers with an extremely limited catalog, they still have made some of the best music that hip-hop has experienced. The emcees Im putting up today have left there imprint on hip hop music and redefined the genre. They have amassed millions of fans world wide and their legacy will still be carried on for many years. And with that here is the music, and RIP to them all.

1. It Sounded Like A Roc - Subroc
This is my shit right here. Subroc was one third of KMD, the other being his brother Zev Lov X, known today as MF DOOM and some cat named Onyx. KMD started out when Zev Love X was featured on a 3rd Bass track back in '89 called, The Gasface (a dope Prince Paul production). With this track this let them do a full album called Mr. Hood that came out in 1991. The album was really slept on though even considering the success of the single, Peach Fuzz. Zev and Subroc did all there own productions and had a very Native Toungue-ish sound to there beats and rhymes. They rocked the jazzy samples with crunchy break beats and laid introspective and comedic lyrics on top of them. After this album they were with Elektra records and were trying to release there second album, Black Bastards, but it was shelved due to the controversial cover art of a Black cartoon figure being hung by a noose. (The album was heavily bootlegged and eventually re-released on Subverse records) This was an excellent album though. A lot darker then the Mr. Hood LP, with the production being more gloomier and the rhymes more introspective, it really showed their development as a group. They really stepped there game up compared to the Mr. Hood LP. The label though didn’t want to touch it so they dropped the group. Right after that Subroc dies in a fatal car crash. Zev, decided to take a few years off to grieve, but later reemerged as MF Doom. He then dropped his debut album, but somewhat the last KMD album, called Operation Doomsday, which is another indie classic. Subroc though was a real talented producer, emcee, and barber who if he was still around today would be killing shit with his brother. On this song, Subroc rocks the mic solo over a real funky KMD production. I like the bassline and when the jazzy horns kick in towards the end.

2. Red Light, Green Light (Remix) - Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf
Here is another cat that died before he had a chance to really get on. Born Charles Hicks in a small suburb of San Jose called Milpitas, the emcee Charizma came up. There wasn’t a scene and it was very odd that such a talented cat came from out of this place. Chris grew up rocking all the classic hip-hop that he could consume within the isolated suburb. Raised on the staples such as Krs One, MC Shan, Biz Markie, BDK he had a strong love for the music. He met up with Peanut Butter Wolf when he was 16, and him and the 19-year-old Wolf became close friends. 3 years later after doing the grind of paying dues, they started to forge their own unique sound and style. They decided they wanted to roll with a big label to get themselves on. They went to a few labels slinging demos, but then decided to role with Hollywood Basic, Organized Konfusions label at the time. They were offered big money, a movie part in Sister Act 2, Soundtracks, and much more. For the next year they just made music all day long trying to build up enough tracks for an album. But Hollywood wasn’t really geared to make hip-hop records at the time. Them being a Walt Disney owned label, they wanted to stay safe and roll with what was selling and not allow the group to do there own thing. They had no experience in how to make hip hop records and sell them. The only thing they ever released by them was a promo of the track I’m featuring today, "Red Light, Green Light". Charizma and PNB Wolf said fuck this and got out of there deal right before the label decided to get rid of its hip hop division. Right after this Charizma was killed by a gunshot wound to the head while sitting in the backseat of a car with a girl. Its real sad cause he was a serious talent at such a young age. If he was around right now they would be a force in hip hop and probably be releasing classic shit. PNB Wolf went on to found his label Stones Throw Records, which is quickly becoming the number one indie hip-hop label of this era. With such cats on the roster like, Madlib, MED, Oh No, Jay Dee, Aloe Blac, and many other indie stars, they are selling mad records. They put out that jazzy hip-hop and allow freethinking with there music, which is very refreshing. PNB decided to release the record that Charizma and him were working on a few years ago. The LP is called Big Shots and its really good. I love the beats and Charizma got that smooth laid back flow that’s kind of gruff and rugged but still mad chill. So check that shit out.

3. 1, 2, 3, - Freaky Tah of the Lost Boyz
The Lost Boyz were an ill group from Jamica Queens, that consisted of Mr. Cheeks, Freaky Tah, Pretty Lou, and Spigg Nice. They put out there first single, Lifestyles Of The Rich And Shameless that caught the attention of Uptown Records who then signed them. They then did a song called Renee that was on the soundtrack of Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. They released an album called Legal Drug Money, which actually came from them witnessing a drug dealer get murdered while they were slinging rocks back in the day. The title though meant that they were trying to make that transition into the legit world coming from drug dealing and killing. They wanted to give the money back to Jamacia (NY) when they got on. The problem was that they released the singles before the album came out (a distribution problem with the label) so when it dropped cats were already listening to there second album, "Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz & Benz's". This album also was a success. But when Legal Drug Money dropped it went gold and had such classics like "Music Makes Me High", and "Get Down". They then went on to release another album, which was aight imo, called "Love Peace and Nappiness", which also went gold, in 1997. Freaky was more of the hype man for the group doing adlibs in his mad gruff Rasta tone. He really didn’t do a lot of verses on the album. This track here, 1, 2, 3 was one of the hardest cuts on the lp. It has freaky doing all the verses by himself and its basically him narrating one night when he decides to go on a killing spree cause some cats beat his boys ass. Its pretty rugged. Freaky gets hardcore as fuck on it and is killing bitches and shit. The reversed loop that is sitting hauntingly in the background is on the sinister tip. They you got the traditional horns that are on most of there tracks. Shit is pretty ill. Mr Cheeks fills in for Freaky doing the adlibs and the intro, while Freaky gets his murder raps on. Freaky was murdered by a gunshot to the head while he was walking outside of a party in Jamica Queens on March 28th, 1998 ( a month before Big L was murdered) It was basically an assassination. Dude came up in a Ski Mask at like 4am, behind freaky and blew his brains out and ran. In April 8th though police arrested and charged suspect, Rasheem Fletcher, for the murder of Freaky Tah. On SOHH, i read though that the cops were checking out to see if Tah's murder and Big L's were connected cause the two worked together in the past. Crazy shit.

4. 95 Freestyle (Stretch And Bobbito Show) - Big L ft. Jay Z
Big L was seriously one of the greatest emcees that ever picked up a mic. Big L, Lamont Coleman, was born out in Harlems "Danger Zone" 139th Street and Lennox, back on May 30th, 1974. L was a young cat growing up in the street life and decided that he wanted to get out and the way to do it was to rap. His first debut on wax was on Lord Finesse's single, "Yes You May (Remix)" Finesse met L at a record shop when he was bringing by his mix tape to sell. L said he could rhyme and Finesse was like show me right now. L killed it and Finesse had to work with him. Seeing real talent, Columbia records scooped him up in 1993, and L released one of the dopest underground singles, the promo only, "Devils Son". The song was quickly banned from the radio though for its real hardcore offensive lyrics, like "I pistol whip the priest every Sunday" and other choice lines. He didn’t give a fuck though cause he wasn’t going to comprise his music so he got mad praise from the fans of the underground scene at the time. While still on Columbia records he dropped his first album, "Lifestylz Ov Da Poor & Dangerous". Not a commercial success, it still got mad praise and good reviews, such as the Source giving it 4 mics. On this album he put on a bunch of cats that are heavyweights right now, such as Cam'ron and Jay-Z. Cam used to roll by the name of Killa Kam and Mase used be in there known as Murda Mase and they used to be in a crew with L called, Children Of The Korn. Yeah the same preacher Mase. This album though is a classic. It’s got so much heat on it. After that Columbia dropped him. He was still grinding though cause he was rolling with D.I.T.C. He was doing tours and going overseas and shit. He then decided to put out records on his own label, Flamboyant Records. The first joint he released was the classic "Ebonics". This record is just mowing through street slang and just breaking it down for everyone. This single blew up and was flooded through the underground. But then his success was cut short. Shot seven times in the head and chest, he died right down the block from his Harlem home. In august of 2000 his post humus release, "The Big Picture" dropped and it was basically half completed while he was alive and the other half was done after he was killed. They put on his some of his dopest tracks and then threw on some collabos with the already deceased Tupac, Kool G Rap, Guru, DITC. Pete Rock did a dope ass track on there that I still bump. Big L though was one of the best freestylers in the game and really was just a menace on tracks. Dude was serious. This track here is him flexing his skills up at Stretch and Bobbitos Show in NYC. He just mows through the track and really just blows cats away. Jigga comes on the second verse and crushes shit also. I love it when he fucks up though and recovers himself and flips it all crazy. These two cats have mad skills. The beat is sick too. I love the keys over the grimy drums. Shit is dope.

5. Intoxicated - ODB (ft. Raekwon, Meth, and Macy Gray)
We all know ODB. We all heard bout Ol' Dirtys legal and domestic problems. He was the crazy off the wall cat who just didn’t give a fuck that ran the 90's with his crew the Wu-Tang clan. ODB was around the Wu from the jump. Russel Jones founded the Wu, along with his cousins the Rza, and the Gza. They used to be known as the Force Of The Imperial Master, which subsequently became known as the All in Together Now Crew after they had a successful underground single of that name. ODB was the cat that stood out though in the group. He was known for his bizarre, offbeat, incomprehensible flow, crazy funny behavior that was borderline insane. Some rugged shit. He would always be screaming and wilding out on tracks, which made him really stand out. He was on the first Wu Tang joint the 36 Chambers and that album made hip hop history. Shit received mad praise and accolades without the hip hop world. ODB went solo in 1995, which was how there deal was structured with Loud. The clan was allowed to go off and doing solo projects with no problems instead of being locked into a solo contract. Which was a first for that in a contract. "Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version" was made dropped on March 28th, 1995. Rza did the production on there and really made it just a gritty rugged sound like he was known for with the Clans first album. But on this joint he made it even more minimalist and really provided the focus more on ODB's crazy ass. The album made such hits as, Shimmy Shimmy Ya, and Brooklyn Zoo, which brought the album to gold status. Also in 95 he did that Fantasy (Remix) with Mariah Carey and really that was one of the first popular Rnb and Hip Hop collabos that are so dominant in today’s weak ass scene. This is also when the controversy that kept ODB in the news for years to come also started. He was in some MTV biography piece, when he took his 13 kids to the Welfare office to pick up his check, by a limo. His album was in Billboards Top 10 at the time also. MTV got it on film and sent it worldwide. In 1997, the Wu dropped "Wu Tang Forever" which was not as good as there first joint. ODB though wasn’t featured on it nearly at all. He did contribute the solo track Dog Shit, and he did a chorus and an intro, but for the most of the 2-disc album, he wasn’t there. This was probably during his beginning of his crack smoking days. A year later though while at a recording studio in Brooklyn, he witnessed a car accident out the window. He ran out into the streets with a friend and organized about 12 onlookers to help lift a car off of a 4-year-old girl. She suffered 3rd Degree burns and was taking to the hospital. ODB though using a fake name would go and see her a few times, before the media saw him. He then went back to crazy shit and ran out on an awards show ranting and raving about how Puff Daddy won an award that the Wu should have won. He went on to say that Puffy aint for the children, Wu Tang is for the children. He then changed his name to Big Baby Jesus. Then came his album Nigga Please. This album is crazy as fuck. If you have ever heard it, you hear ODB rant and scream about the most bizarre shit, which you cant really even understand. He is in a cracked out stupor and just is saying all kinds of shit. The album though was pretty successful. It did have a few dope tracks though. You get into it cause of ODB just wilding out. The main single on there, "Got Your Money" was produced by the super group the Neputnes and provided them a key platform to establish themselves and become the stars they are now. In 2001 he went back to jail for Crack Possession and his label at the time, Elektra, decided to put out a greatest hits album. Kinda wack when you only have two albums if you ask me. It didn’t go to well but the label had to recoup from the difficult artists lack of product. They used his publicity to hustle some records. They dropped him then the label D-3 records released the album "The Trials and Tribulations of Russell Jones". This album was made up of pre recorded vocals before ODB went to jail, and had no input from ODB. He didn’t even know it was released or made. Fucked up shit. Dirty was released though and signed up with the Roc after that. Roc A Fella got him on board and tried to put together an album and keep his nose clean. He also started to do a reality TV show with VH1. But unfortunately, he was in Wu Tangs Studio, on 9/13/2004, just 2 days before his 36th birthday, when he collapsed to the floor. He died less then an hour later. The Initial reports were that he had a heart attack, which was true, but during the autopsy, they found a baggie of coke in his stomach. There was a lethal mixture of cocaine and the prescription pain killer Ultram in his system. They ruled it as an accidental overdose. Its hard to kick shit when you got money and fame like that. Especially if you smoke crack. Rip to Ol' Dirty, he was a good dude. Im really feeling this track. The loop is mad sick and Rae and Meth kill that shit. ODB comes in also to impress on this joint. Shit is banging.

6. Niggas My Height Dont Fight - Eazy E
Aight since firefox decided to crash and delete all the shit I wrote about Eazy, im just gonna jack his bio from hi official website. I aint typing that shit again. Took me like half an hour. SALTY!

Compton, California is a small suburb of Los Angeles, a place known for its vast history of rags-to-riches stories, stardom, glamour, and fame. Compton has emerged from being just another surrounding area of Los Angeles to one of the country’s most well known cities. That fact is attributed to the music in which Compton helped give birth to and make so famous. "Gangsta" rap has developed into a money making enterprise, spreading misogynistic messages, violent overtures, and the theories of toting guns as if it was a sport. Sometimes, the words would prove to be more fiction than fact, but the attention was attracted nonetheless.

One of the artists responsible for making this era of music so spectacular is Eazy-E, a gangsta rapper whose claim to fame was not the music, but in the way he presented it. With a career that would span almost a decade, Eazy became the mark of excellence in gangsta rap, but as with all success comes a price. Eazy would rise above many obstacles that would kill just an average person, and tasted the fruits of his labor until his untimely demise.

Born Eric Wright in 1964, Eazy grew up with the same hopes and dreams as most young men from an impoverished background. He wanted to make it big, no matter how he had to do it. Hip-Hop was a flourishing conglomerate, very legal, and one that could provide a way of life that make most envious to the point of rage. The Hip-Hop scene on the western section of the United States was not as lush as it was in the east, but all that would make a drastic change.

Dealing drugs to make a living, Eazy finally did something positive with the money that was leading to the bloodshed on the streets. He took a portion of his earnings and formed a rap label, called Ruthless Records. The attempt to start his rap empire didn’t prove fruitful until up and coming artists Ice Cube and Dr. Dre began to write for the label. When HBO, the signing company of Ruthless Records refused to take one of the group’s songs, titled "Boyz In The Hood," they formed the group N.W.A., an acronym for Niggaz With Attitude. They would bring aboard 1 more member DJ Yella, and the five-man team would begin to blaze the trail that we know today as gangsta rap.

N.W.A.’s debut album, "N.W.A. and The Posse," was a party-oriented jam record that largely went ignored upon its 1987 release. In the following year, the group added M.C. Ren and revamped their sound, bringing in many of the noisy, extreme sonic innovations of Public Enemy and adopting a self-consciously violent and dangerous lyrical stance. Late in 1988, N.W.A. delivered "Straight Outta Compton, " a vicious hardcore record that became an underground hit with virtually no support from radio, the press or MTV. N.W.A. became notorious for their hardcore lyrics, especially those of "Fuck Tha Police," which resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to Ruthless and its parent company, suggesting that the group should watch their step. Most of the group's political threat left with Ice Cube when he departed in late 1989 amidst many financial disagreements. A nasty feud between N.W.A. and Cube began that would culminate with Cube’s "No Vaseline," an attack on the group's management released on his 1991 "Death Certificate" album. By the time the song was released, N.W.A., for all intents and purposes, was finished.

Eazy and the rest of the crew would go on to release two more albums, "100 Miles and Runnin’" in 1990 and "Efil4zaggin" (which is Niggaz 4 Life backwards) the following year, and the albums were mostly Eazy flexing his lyrical muscle. Some of the lyrics provoked outrage from many critics and conservative circles, but that only increased the group's predominately male, White suburban audience. Even though the group was at the peak of their popularity, Dre began to make efforts to leave the crew, due to conflicting egos and what he perceived as an unfair record deal. Dre and Eazy would then delve into a widely publicized feud that would run its course over a few years. Eazy then would have to make the transition as a solo artist, but seemingly the transition was made rather smoothly.

Eazy had released his debut solo album in 1988, titled "Eazy Duz It," which would ultimately be his only full-length album. It was received well amongst fans, particularly in California. Although he would never achieve the astronomical success he received with N.W.A. on a commercial level, he still was considered a force in Hip-Hop. Fans across the nation had begun to see a change in Hip-Hop, and Eazy was one of the many driving forces behind it.

Amidst the drama that was going on between he and Dr. Dre, Eazy decided to take the bold step of addressing the issue on record. "It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa" was released in late 1993, which proved to be a depiction of the murder of Dre on record, and it attracted major attention. The unapologetically violent album would be the first of many on-record feuds between Dre and Eazy, and it shed a lot of light on the issues between the former partners. It also marked the decline in Eazy’s vastly flourishing career.

In 1995, the Hip-Hop nation was struck with alarming news. In a publicized statement, Eazy announced he had contracted HIV, the virus that caused AIDS. No one, including Eazy himself had a clue about how sick he actually was. During the week of 20th March, the star drafted his last message to fans (check the last words section). One month after making that haunting announcement, Eazy succumbed to the disease at a local hospital in Los Angeles. He was 31 years old at the time of his death. Before he died, Eazy had made amends with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, the men whom he skyrocketed to success with and rewrote Hip-Hop history with. A man of his talents has been deeply missed since his passing, and the game has had the unenviable task of going on without him.

Two postmortem albums were subsequently released, "Eternal E" in 1995 after his death, and "Str8 off Tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton," in 1998, both of which proved to be successful. An upcoming group discovered by Eazy, were in the beginning stages of their careers, which would prove fruitful later on. The legacy of Eazy E lives on in the hearts and minds of Hip-Hop and its long list of fans.

Eazy E: 1964-1995 R.I.P.

That’s sad. Its like one of those, "Live by the sword, Die by the Sword deals." This track was banging. I love the beat and just Eazy's fuck you demeanor.

7. Live At The Garden - Big, Pac, Big Scoob, Big Daddy Kane, Shyheim
This is my shit right here. I love this track. Most cats just heard the Big/Tupac edit, but this is the whole version. Shit is rugged. But anyways, everyone knows the story of the East Coast/West Coast beef and how it brought the inevitable deaths of both rappers. Turn on VH1 if you’re interested. They play that shit at least once a day. BEEF! Lets just talk about the track though. This shit here is mad hot. Mister Cee just puts on a dope break beat and lets the artists kill shit for a crowd at Madison Square Garden. Now this is some ill shit casue Big comes on after Big Scoobs aight performance, then Tupac comes after Big. But man these motherfuckers were killing shit. One of the best Biggie freestyles I’ve ever heard, then Tupac just follows up and lays down some of the best shit I’ve heard out of him in a long time. They brought their A-Game. Shyheim comes after Pac and just fucks shit up with his little kid ass, representing the Wu. But he holds his own and the kid has mad skills. The real star though of this shit is Big Daddy Kane. Dude just crushes shit with his punch lines and his whole vibe. He just comes on through with the battle raps. This shit right here is classic.

8. Tribute To Jam Master Jay - Various DJ's
VIDEO!!! Thanks to jorge
Now this is real dope. This was on BET's Source Awards after the DJwas shot in the head in his recording studio. We all know Jam Master Jay, the DJ of the super group Run DMC. These cats really brought hip-hop into the house and they were the first cats to go worldwide. They really made hip hop go international and blow up. Jay also was 50 Cents mentor, so without Jay, no 50, no G Unit, no Vita Water, so all you tugged out cats owe this dude mad respect. Jay just had a real love for the music though and really supported it and helped it grow. So dude is a legend. On this performance, DJ Premier, Kid Capri, Grand Master Flash, Jazzy Jeff, go on a rugged DJ set, flexing all there skills to pay tribute to the Jammaster. I think Jazzy Jeff kills it though. Dude is on another level. I love how you hear Preemo shouting on the whole track. It is real ill.

BONUS BEATS: M.N.C.B - Smith-N-Wessun
This is a real dope track. This was on an unreleased record that Smith N Wessun did with Rawkus before they folded. This cut though here is all about dead rappers and paying respect to them all. Some good shit.

And that’s it. I had a Big Pun joint I wanted to put up, but I want to save that track for another post. It’s a dope posse cut. So enjoy the mp3s, and RIP to all these cats cause they will truly be missed. PEACE.

edit: You know what is funny? I just read what I wrote and when I talk about an artists bio, I sound like a retard. Im all like ME THINKS ME DO type shit. It sounds like my 5th grade book reports. hahaha. Sorry just had to tell yall that.