Monday, October 25, 2010

MTV: Diary Of Kanye West 2004 (Video)

As u can see Kanye West is making headlines with his newest short film that was shown over the weekend and new LP which is upcoming. To say the least, this man went thru his fair share of ups and downs in his career. And he steadily evolving as a artist, but ill be honest with u to say i never seen this coming. Go back to '04 when he 1st came out. He was like a breath of fresh air to the hip-hop game, cause everybody was doin what 50 was doin. And he went in his own lane. He brought back out the Polo's and the paper denim jeans and his whole style was dope. All he wanted to do was to make real good music, but many bumps on the road was headed his way on the horizon. But lets take it back to the beginning when College Dropout was gettin ready to drop and he was that dude ready to change the game!! Lets go!! And i hope one day he will go back to the Polo game.

Kanye West MTV Diary '04 from Brandan Evans on Vimeo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BET: Ghostface Killah on Rap City 2000 (Video)

Man, when Supreme Clientele dropped in the beginning of 2000 it was a huge following behind it. At the time, Wu tang was slackin a bit and the only person holdin the name down was Ghostface. He carried it on his back! I remember when this dropped i was in NJ, and once i put it in the CD player i was blown away cause the quality of this LP was flawless and the production was top notch. Right away i was thinkin that this was a classic, i mean it was perfect. Hot 97 was playin mad cuts off the LP and receiving alot of support. Great times.

Now this episode of Rap City was a classic one in which the way this show played out, but at the same time it was this show that kinda sparked the controversy between Ghostface & Big Tigger. I dont know if it was because of this show or another after this but these two had some kinda beef. Why? I dont know, but all i know was that after this show everytime Ghostface came to Rap City Big Tigga was not there. I think this went all the way up to 2004 when they eventually was on the same show together. So there goes some hidden info for ya. Enjoy the show!

Ghostface on BET Rap City 2000 from Brandan Evans on Vimeo.

Monday, October 11, 2010

MTV: Def Jam Survival Of The Illest Tour 1998 (Video)

Well back in '98 Def Jam was back to reclaim its throne as one the premier record label!! Jay Z went 5x platinum, Ja Rule is blazin, DMX basically like Jay Z said "DMX'd the game" (in reference to what 50 did back in '03), Def Squad was poppin and Onyx came back with a vengence with a very solid 3rd LP!! And i didnt even mention Foxy, Meth & LL. So Def Jam was like OK, we gonna give back to the streets with this Survival Of The Illest Tour. Now this tour aimed to perform at the gullest, grimiest venues that tours really dont go to at all. And remember, hip-hop at this point wasnt getting any major tours poppin cause violence was related to it and sponsors wasnt supportin it. But that all ceased cause a year later with the Backstage Tour & in 2000 with the Up In Smoke Tour. But before all that, it was this and who else to go out rock these ill places but none other than Def Squad, Onyx & DMX! And as u can see by this preview it had its bumps on the road but all in all its great hip-hop being done and this not even comin close being done today. Once again i ran across this on MTV while i was flickin the channels cause MTV was showing somethin about Janet Jackson and her tour which was upcoming (dont ask why i was watchin this in the first place), but i glad i did watch so i could catch this classic footage. Great times man, and the last year of the golden era!

Def Jam Survival Of the Illest Tour '98 from Brandan Evans on Vimeo.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Was The Firm Really A Flop?

“All you niggas that said that I turned pop/ Or the Firm flop/ ya'll are the reason Dre ain't been getting no sleep!” That’s a little sample of what of the Dr. thought back in ‘99 . So let me ask u, was the Firm really a flop? If u take in account of how it came about and the final result, was it really a flop? To me….hell no!! Was the album sales were what they expected? No, but we all know u don’t judge a LP being dope by album sales. For most of you, the tale of the Firm is unknown cause it happened oh so long ago. But the rest of us know how it went down and how it ended. Let me dive into it and try to clear up something’s and from there u can draw up ur own opinions.

How it started? Well let me mind u, the name The Firm, never existed. None of the members never even mentioned that name for group until Foxy Brown did on the classic I Shot Ya Remix. Nas said himself that nobody never even heard of that name until she dropped it on that song. Now we all know the orig. members of the group which included Nas, AZ, Cormega & Foxy Brown. From what I know, Foxy Brown was included with Nas & the crew cause they were label mates plus Trackmasters had something to do with it. Not to mention Steve Stoute who was the mastermind of this thing, but played a big role of destroying it. They were plenty of affilates that wanted to be down with this next big thing goin on at the time like Jay Z, Noreaga, Mary J. to name a few. So by 1996 this wheel will start to be in motion. The 1st track all 4 appeared on? Affirmative Action of course. This track on Nas’s It Was Written LP, was a preview of what a dynamic team this could be. At the time its was the 1st of its kind that 4 MC’s of that caliber could be all in group! It was a very exciting time in hip-hop! The next track was the remix to Affirmative Action then it was the rare unrealeased gem La Familia! Im telling u now, after hearing that track I was ready for the Firm. Ill put that track up against any top posse cuts of all-time and ill bet it will rank up there as one of the best. By late 1996 the annoucement is heard ‘round the world, The Firm LP will be coming in 1997 with production by L.E.S, Trackmasterz and……..DR. DRE!!! Now when people 1st heard about this they were speechless!! Dr. Dre is working on a East Coast product? He and Nas will be workin together? This cant be true right? It was a huge hip-hop moment and many hip-hop headz were waiting for a classic to drop. So its safe to say that at this point everything on is on the up & up right???

Enter 1997, Puff & Mase is ruling it. Jay is comin on strong. The Wu is in full force. Busta is puttin everybody hands up where they can see. And now its time for the Firm to come thru! But the 1st chink is now delt. Word got out that Cormega is ousted in the group. He was a major player in the group and held his own lyrically, plus that’s Nas’s right hand man. But remember Steve Stoute is behind the scenes pulling the strings. Cormega earlier that year had signed a deal to Def Jam & and he had solo LP which would droppin that year also (but we all know, it never came out). His singles was already bubblin on radio & mixtapes. Now why didn’t Stoute didn’t include him in the group after that? Just because of that, the deal with Def Jam. Cormega would have signed with Columbia / Trackmasterz but they took too long offering up the deal. Cormega says that he needed the money bad at the time cause he just gotten out of jail not too long before ago and the money Nas set aside for him wouldn’t last that long. Stoute said to him that he would sign him but never came thru with the offer and Def Jam was hollerin, so he took it. So that made Stoute mad, and refused to incorporate him in the group no more. Now Nas tried and pleaded with Stoute to keep Mega in the group but Stoute wasn’t havent it. Sadly enough the relationship between Nas & Mega wouldn’t be the same after that. But this movement had to go on. Who would replace him? Nature of course. The latest QB emcee under Nas’ camp was now thrown in the for front and he had a alot to live up to. So now the anticipation for the LP is in full force and the Firm is flooding the mixtape scene with dope tracks and freestyles.

October 21 1997 the LP drops. Now for me the only letdown was choosing Firm Biz as the first single. Me personally, I wasn’t really with it. It was kinda annoying. I wish they would went with Firm Biz Remix as the 1st single. Cause it was that version of the record that they would be performing live on their tours. So when I 1st heard Firm Biz I was kinda skeptical of getting the LP and that’s why I waited until years later to actually cop it. But when I heard the 2nd single which is the now classic Phone Tap, that when I said this is it right here! That track is timeless with the ill violin/ piano sample plus the phone sounding vocals. Its one of the most creative hip-hop tracks of our time. Then u hear other classic tracks like Executive Decisions, Im Leaving, Firm Family, Desperados & Fuck Somebody Else. I mean this LP was loaded with dopeness. But for some reason the people was expecting too much from them & Dre. For its time it was the best that they can do. And I applaude them for even attempting to make this happen because at the time it was unheard of. Remember we never got to see the Commission come to life cause of BIG’s passing. So the Firm is closest we got to a super group coming together. So go back and look at this LP and anaylze it. You’ll see that it was pretty great compared to today’s standards of what a LP should sound like. Its sad that the group just went their separate ways after this LP dropped and anytime somebody mention’s the word Firm they relate it to a flop. But what if they came out with a 2nd LP that they was supposed to do in ‘99 in which Nas referenced to in the XXL magazine. I think if they came out with a 2nd LP in ‘99 it would have probably been better received since around that time crews were staring to pop like Cash Money, Murder Inc & The Roc. AZ mentions that he had big plans for the Firm like clothing lines, television and the whole nine. So who know what could have been, but go back to 1997 and see how huge this movement was. Listen to old Clue tapes and etc. back then to hear how The Firm was dominating the mixtape scene. It’s a time ill never forget and neither should u. So was the Firm really a flop? U tell me…

How Can U Mention Who's One The Best, Without Mentioning Lord Finesse?

You know over the years u hear other artists or people in the hip-hop industry mention their top MC’s & Producers all-time. And u always hear the standard answers all the time, like for MC’s its Jay, BIG, PAC & Nas. Then for Producers its Primo, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, Marley Marl and etc. Me personally I have no problem with those names, none at all. But lets take a further examination and open it up a little bit. It blows my mind that The Imperial Lord Finesse isn’t mentioned in any of those categories! Now this is my personal opinion, so if u have any problems with this article we take it up later. But this dude to me deserves his name to be mentioned up there with the best of the best.

The crazy thing is, is that this man only wanted to be a DJ! He didn’t wanna rap, he wanted to be one of the illest DJ’s around. So he worked hard at it and he was becoming one of the nicest. But his partner at that time, DJ Mike Smooth, was like yo u need to step away from the turntables and focus more on rhyming. Finesse was like naw, I wanna be a DJ but Mike Smooth was telling him yo we cant be both DJ’s in this group somebody has to rhyme. In the upcoming months Finesse took heed into what he said and started to perfect his craft in the art of rhyming. By ‘89-90 he was one of the nicest MC’s in the game that was unsigned!! He was killin cats in Rap battles and blowin the hip-hop insiders minds in the Rap Seminars. His name spread everywhere. Heck, when Finesse was on his way goin to high school he used to get always stopped by Diamond D. He heard about him a couple years earlier thru others cause of his rhyming style. Diamond used to ask him, “hey what u doin today?” Finesse be like “yo im goin to school” Diamond says “yo, chill with me today and lets make a tape!” When Finesse heard that he was mesmerized, cause he got a chance to rhyme over beats that Diamond made to further get his name out there. By ‘90, Finesse was the one of the illest MC’s that was not signed and that year there was a Rap battle or Seminar goin on (cant remember which one) and u had to be signed to get in. Gangstarr was in attendance and they knew him cause of the status he built as a rhymer, and Guru suggested to a rep that was workin at Wild Pitch that was there that they should sign him. But that representative was kinda hesitant to do it cause he thought the company couldn’t market him. So somehow right after that he heard Finesse spit some dope rhymes and he was sold right after that. Then before u know it, Finesse was at Primo’s apartment goin thru loops to use for his 1st LP. That’s is when the producing seeds were kinda born right there. Not to mention he was already messin around with Diamond D who a dope producer in his own right. By Finesse’s 2nd LP he was already goin behind the boards craftin his own beats and the rest is history.

Also we all know this man has a ear for talent. In 1992, he was in Harlem (I think) doin something up there when he got word that there is this local cat he needs to hear that has been blowing up the spot with his crazy lyrics. So u already know Finesse had to check this out. He went up in the back of this record store and saw one of the best MC’s of all-time doin his thing in full motion. Finesse was blown away by his style, delivery and his whole flow. He told duke right then and there yo u rollin wit me! Then later on that year Finesse dropped the now classic remix to the track Yes You May! It featured the man himself and Percee P (who was a dope emcee in his own right), but the man who stole the show was the legendary Big L! The verse he dropped on that joint put him in the driver’s seat as one of the next upcoming greats to come in the game. The man that Finesse u to call “Mont-Mont”, tragically died in 1999 and I know that took a lot of out of Finesse cause he saw up close the talent this man possessed was second to none.

My fascination with Lord Finesse kinda started the way u wouldn’t expect but it is what it is. Back in ‘95 I was at the crib watchin TV, then a 1-800-Call-AT&T commercial comes on. These are the ones that used to come on with Bill Bellamy was in them, and on this commercial I was jamming my azz off cause the beat they was playin in the background was pure dopeness. In my mind I was thinking yo AT&T sure do know how to make a slammin commercial cause I never heard nothing like that before. So for the next couple of weeks I was kinda stumped cause I wanted to know where did that beat come from. I was askin friends at school about the commercial and they felt the same way I felt about it but they didn’t know what beat that was. Then finally a person I knew at the rec center where I used to play ball at told me yo, it’s a Lord Finesse joint. I was like Lord Finesse? Remind u, I had no idea who he was at that time. My hip-hop knowledge was very limited at that time. My friend didn’t know the name of the song but he knew it was from Finesse. So I was gonna make sure I was gonna get that track some way some how, but coincidentally a couple of days later I caught a episode of Rap City that night and I saw for the 1st time Lord Finesse’s vid for “Actual Facts”. To say the least, I was blown away. The whole vibe of track was mesmerizing to me and I was hooked. Come to find out that was the 2nd single for his new LP at the time The Awakening. Again, I was determined to find somebody with this LP. I finally tracked a down a friend who had it, and when I heard it I was in pure hip-hop heaven. The beats were so melodic and the rhymes was picture perfect. As I was skimming thru the LP, up came that track I was looking for from that AT&T commercial a couple of weeks later! The track was called “Hip 2 Da Game”!! Im telling yall, I must have played that song like 10-15 times straight that day. That track was and still is my shit!! And that’s where my fascination with Lord Finesse started.

Over the years as my hip-hip knowledge grew I had done mad research on him and lookin for more of his previous work. That’s when I knew that this dude is one of the illest that ever done it in producing and rhyming. Have u ever heard S.K.I.T.S? Have u ever listed to those classic freestyles he laced on Stretch & Bobbito’s show back in ‘97 when he brought in his own SP-1200? Did u know he helped out Dr. Dre on some samples for his Chronic 2001 LP? His 1st 2 LP’s on vinyl will cost u a couple hundred dollars because of the rarity, did u know that? I mean cmon son, I can go all day on this cat. Remember now, he only dropped 3 albums but if u a true hip-hop head then those LP’s have to be included in ur collection! Now go back to what I said earlier: How Can U Say Who’s One Of the Best Without Mentioning Lord Finesse?
Need more proof? Check out the vid below of the Imperial one!

Friday, October 1, 2010

MTV: LL Cool J Career Retrospective 1996

In anticipation of LL's Mr. Smith LP, he sat down with MTV to discuss his career up to that point in 1996. Very great stuff in this interview. I ran across this special when i was just flickin thru the channels and instantly pressed record when i seen it. Like i said, this is when MTV was heavily in hip-hop and it was a great time! I miss those days man, so its time to go back to '96 in 10th grade and relieve some of LL's prominent moments! To me he should have retired right after the G.O.A.T LP in 2000, that would have been a perfect ending. And one more thing i have to admit, back in '96 when MR. Smith dropped i thought it was one of the illest LP's i ever heard (still think that way), that some of my friends had a conversation at school and we were asking each other, who is ur fav. all-time rapper? my answer? i said LL Cool J! Just based off this LP, remember now BIG was in his prime and Jay was only out for a month and for some reason i didnt even think about Nas at the time. Crazy right? BIG will always be my nigga but LL holds a special place to me. Ok, lets move to the vid!! Check the Vanson LL has on, what yall know about Vanson leathers??@!!

MTV: LL Cool J Retro 1996 from Brandan Evans on Vimeo.