DJ Premier “Live From HeadQCourterz” – Latest Episodes

July 7, 2012

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July 6th, 2012

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June 4, 2012

Virginia-bred emcee/producer Nottz is one of the most silently influential movers in hip-hop.  Chosing not to brand himself through tag lines or gaudy video appearances in any of the records he’s produced for Grammy-winning artists, his name doesn’t resonate with co-eds and scenesters in the same fashion as Kanye West or other icons he works with.  Nottz doesn’t have to.  With a production resume ranging from Biggie to Lyricist Lounge to Snoop, as well as his own rap records that have filtered through the underground for over 10 years, he’s truly ‘your favorite artist’s favorite artist’…

In late 2010 Nottz released You Need This Music, a Soul Survivor-esque, half-solo record, half-producer compilation that masterfully synthesizes flavors from all reaches of hip-hop/pop culture, enlisting ringers such as Mayer Hawthorne, Black Milk and Travis Barker… In the likeness of that project comes his new EP, In My Mind, available tomorrow, June 5th (2012).  A bit muddier than the preceeding LP, Nottz, Royce Da 5″9, Pusha T and others stomp through the tracks with contributions targeted to the core hip-hop audience…  A must-have in my book.

FREE SAMPLER: Nottz – In My Mind EP

Nico the Beast – Performance Videos

May 21, 2012

This Sunday, May 27th 2012, Nico the Beast (along with producer, Vanderslice) drops his first formal studio project in over a year, True to FormThe release date is chosen as a memorial for his deceased son, Domenic Jr., but the content itself is more of an homage to the straight bars/storytelling brand of hip-hop that begged the Beast to pick up the mic 15 years ago.

Serving as the perfect epilogue to the Vanderslice collab EP coming this weekend, Lost Sessions Volume 1 is comprised of unreleased sessions from 2007-2008 over classic boom-bap instrumentals from the likes of Group Home, Common and Raekwon… Also check the videos from this past Friday @ M Room in Philadelphia.

“Nachurally Gifted (Live)” featuring Rec Raw:

“My Piano (Live)” featuring Big OC Diesel:

iStandard Showcase @ Club Diesel, Pittsburgh

May 9, 2012

Last week I traveled from Philly back to where I grew up to meet with Nico the BeastPremise, Don (aka DJ Thrill Collins), Ciz, and J Hatch for the Pittsburgh edition of the iStandard Producer Showcase…  Club Diesel is a dope venue; despite all the spots here, there isn’t one quite like it in Philly.  The sound system was thorough, to say the least… I didn’t take much video footage; it’s strange to watch 3-5 minutes of a random producer standing on stage looking awkward.  I did, however, grab excerpts from featured producers JBG/Big C and Premise, plus two tracks from Nico the Beast’s live performance.

Nico the Beast – “Deja Vu” & Acapella:


J.B.G. & Big C:

Cyphers Outside StreetArena.TV Battle – 4/27/12

May 9, 2012

Up until last Friday night, when I had plans with Big Oc Diesel to attend ‘a show’ he helps run, I’d never been to a Street Arena battle.  It actually wasn’t until the ride there that Big O even mentioned the word “battle”, so witnessing the epic shit-talk and riddles as these guys break each other down caught me off guard a bit… Since there are multiple cameras inside the event taping the main events, I took mine outside to get some exclusive bars from a few of the exceptionally impressive regulars (make sure to catch Bliss Creed’s verse, 2nd in the SWA video).  Unfortunately, the street lamp didn’t quite provide the lighting I was hoping for, but the rhymes are perfectly clear…

S.W.A. (Mania Mac, Bliss Creed, Madface)


Vizz Da Outlaw:

“The House” @ Dobbs 4/24/12 (Live Sets)

May 9, 2012

Every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month in Philadelphia, OnTyme Music packs the 2nd floor of ‘The Legendary Dobbs’ on South Street with a grassroots hip-hop event that provides a spotlight for rising local acts and a humble atmosphere where all types of fans come to enjoy live music and network.  There are also open mic segments that host emcees, singers, spoken word poets and more; sometimes the one-track sets leave more of an impression than the featured slots… Nate Nizzle, in particular, stood out for his punchlines and professional mic control, though I think he might have aggravated a few of the ladies in the audience…

Nate Nizzle:

Mel Alston Jr:

Jay Griffy w/ Dakota Black:

DistantStarr Listening Session 4/17/12 (New MAGr)

May 9, 2012

After my winter-long hiatus from Philadelphia and rumors from Al Mighty of new MAGr music being recorded, I dropped by producer/MC DistantStarr’s studio to hear the latest adds to his private repetoire, which can become an electro/crunk/boom-bap abyss from the volume of his regularly-added new music.  Capturing a fraction of the session on video, we find the first polished MAGr track in almost 3 years (see Part 2), plus a handful of dope instrumentals and works in progress.

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Lost Public Axis Podcast (2010)

April 26, 2012

Sometimes, regression can be a good thing- like this podcast for example…

Assembled this summer 2010, Overhead & Undersells is a collection of  leaks, remixes and other unreleased joints- most of which are appearing for the first time on a cohesive project.  Amidst a cavalry of releases from Small Professor, Zilla Rocca, and Curly Castro during, and since the time this was compiled, the 40 minute gem mixed by DJ Son Raw fell on the backburner for a while, but it’s too nice to be forgotten.  And with the onslaught of expectation-challenging material still to come from the artists on this mix, Overhead & Undersells serves as a marker for some of the earlier aesthetic milestones of these artists’ ever-elevating sounds.

DOWNLOAD: Overhead & Undersells… Thanks to Fresh from 33 Jones for hooking up the cover art!

Public Axis Podcast Volume 1

Curly Castro – ‘LA Traffic’ Freestyle Video (2010)

April 26, 2012

I forgot that I had this (obviously)… Recorded in Jeff Weiss’ whip during a trip to LA for shows, Curly Castro showcases his freestyle ability over (what is for most MCs) an atypical instrumental.  Enjoy.

Heather’s Birthday Party @ Eagle Tavern – 4/13/2012

April 24, 2012

This past Friday the 13th, we made the hike up to Quakertown, PA for Heather Slagel’s birthday party, where her brother Joe booked performances from Reef the Lost Cauze, Adlib, Nightwalker, Burke the Jurke and Vas Illi.  The performances closed out with an overwhelming cypher featuring Nico the Beast, Slim DSM, Petey Green, Capo, Rich Quick and a handful of others.  The wheels were handled masterfully by DJ Thoroughbred, who played more hardcore hip-hop than I’ve heard in my last 10 trips to a show combined; dude definitely knew his crowd.

Most importantly, it was nice to see so many city-dwellers make the long ride out to ‘the sticks’ for Heather and Joe.  For as long as I’ve been involved with the local event circuit, the Slagel siblings are as much of celebrities as any MC, persistently traveling 1hr+ to endorse nearly every underground show worth seeing.  If only once every year or so, we all can return the favor- a point acknowledged by everyone that picked up the mic that night.

Burke the Jurke & Vas – “That Bullshit”

Rich Quick in the Cypher

Chrome Depot Lives…

April 4, 2012

Chrome Depot Lives...

I was going through my pics and don’t remember where I grabbed this from, but I like the Super Mario-esque bullet-with-a-face chain and get a bit nostalgic remembering the inescapable presence of the Demigodz crew on Sandbox, UGHH, etc when shopping for records a decade ago… As for the convenient manipulation of various logos, I guess it hasn’t blipped on the Kelloggs legal radar, hence the beauty of underground music. What would happen if Mr. West (for some unconceivable reason) did the same thing? …Click the pic for more trademark hijackings and the latest from Apathy & Celph Titled…

Freestyle @ Illvibe Release Party w/ John Robinson, Dave Ghetto, Reef the Lost Cauze and Hezekiah

April 10, 2011

Some of the finest featured on Illvibe Collective’s  long-awaited debut compilation light up a session outside of Silk City during the release party this past Wednesday night.  The four veteran emcees prove why after a decade-plus in the game, they still can’t be touched.  Video credits go to Yusef Muhammad…  Also, make sure to support Illvibe’s All Together Now LP on iTunes, link below.  Big shouts to Panek, Dave, Phil, Skip and Sonny.  Congrats on the release and keep doing your thing, fellas!

Illvibe Collective All Together Now Preview:


Pete Rock, Camp Lo, Kool Keith and More… Conspiracy Worldwide Radio 4/1/11

April 2, 2011

Of the many agendas killing my time in 2011, keeping up with the overwhelming amount of dope podcasts and online radio shows out there is an old casualty.  Luckily, Conspiracy Worldwide Radio is one of the few outfits I’ve managed to keep an eye on through their mailing list.  Plowing through all of the gaudy JV crack-rapper newlsetters I’ve somehow been added to, today’s blast  for their “April Fool’s Gold” episode, tauting nothing but “PETE ROCK” in the subject line, was a simple, effective demand for attention.

Barely 24 hours old, the 4/1/11 edition of Conspiracy Worldwide Radio is broken into Part 1 and Part 2 mp3 podcasts and features interviews with Pete Rock, Grouch of Living Legends, Camp Lo, Lady of Rage, Keith Murray and others.  Check out the additional details below the DL links and pics…

PART ONE (scroll to small “download” link at bottom of the article)

PART TWO (same deal as above)

Pete Rock

Kool Keith

Pete Rock joins us for a superb feature-length interview to explore the making of his new projects with DJ Premier, Smif N Wessun and Camp Lo, [as well as discuss] his aspirations to work with Eminem, his contribution to Kanye and Jay Z’s album (as well as a track called ‘The Joy’ which didn’t make Kanye’s album) and his desire to be part of The Four Horsemen project. We take time to hear the amazing creative process behind his forthcoming on wax battle with DJ Premier, with neither producer hearing what each other has contributed to the album until it is pressed. As focused and heart-warming as you would expect form such a legendary pioneer, Pete Rock also discusses… his future work with the recently-released Prodigy, the reason for his initial dislike of Kayne West… and the prospect of a new Pete Rock & CL Smooth album.  A true classic…

Keith Murray comes onto the show to discuss his new album and forthcoming mixtape “Live Like Your Dying”… We talk [about] the future of Erick Sermon, the brand new EPMD album and mixtape, the hardships of the industry and more in this perfect capture of a man with so much passion for the art of hip hop. Keith [also] takes time [on] The Undergods, including their history, his relationship with Canibus and their new album “In Undergods We Trust Crush Microphones To Dust” set for release on May 31st…

Kool Keith joins us live from a food outlet to discuss all of the fake profiles that exist on Facebook claiming to be the real Black Elvis. We talk about his awareness of Lil B and his new music but then settle in to a long exploration of the necessities for unique eating patterns. Eggs with fish on the top, kebabs, eating deer and refrigerator content – its all here in this space age time warp of an interview. Is Lil B from Paris?

Celph Titled Interview: Passion of the Weiss

February 22, 2011

A few months ago, Jeff from asked me to interview Celph Titled.   Already somewhat of an icon for his omniscience in the NY underground movement and a cinematically flagrant (yet convincing) persona, Celph’s unsuspecting move to obtain Buckwild’s 1990’s production archives as the backdrop for his official solo debut made the opportunity even more undeniable…

Below are some highlights of the piece, which can be read in its entirety at …

Celph Titled (left) & Buckwild (right)


A lot of contemporary rappers pride themselves in ‘bringing the ‘90’s back’, but they’re not doing much more than just saying it. One of the things I like about Nineteen Ninety Now is it’s more cohesive than simply rapping over vintage (sounding) beats; it sounds like the scratches, arrangement, style of hooks, etc are all made to be consistent with the ‘90’s formula for hip-hop music…

Definitely… Being the first to do this concept, we had to basically pretend like this was the ‘90’s. Now, there are procedures on how to make songs and it’s mostly cookie-cutter: three 16’s and 8-bar hooks and that’s that. [Instead,] we got in the mindset of how dudes made records back then because so many things have been forgotten. Whether it’s cuts, not having a set amount of bars, using certain vocal samples as part of the hook or during the verse to answer a rhyme, or [in general] just being loose with it- all these details that are ignored anymore had to be paid very much attention to. So, our formula was about taking new lyrics and a new outlook, while staying within the frame of ‘How would they have made this record in 1994?’ and following that to a tee.

As a long-time fan of rap music, I feel like one of the main things that’s missing from songs these days- not just in the mainstream but now in the underground as well- is DJs doing scratch segments or sampling memorable punch lines from another emcee’s verse. It’s disappointing, because it’s one of my favorite parts of a good rap song.

Exactly, and who better to do [the scratches] than the world-famous champion, Mister Sinister? He did the cuts on Common Resurrection and all kinds of classic ‘90’s albums, so it was perfect that he was able to do it on my album. Going back to the ‘90’s thing, even the approach of rapping and DJ’ing is different nowadays. Everyone is really stiff. My style is more cartoonish and comical and it worked well since we all took a carefree approach and didn’t try to be so serious. A lot of fans get too superficial with their music. You have a lot of insecure people feeling like ‘I only need to listen to crime shit, hardcore, street rap’ and they’re scared to listen to something like this album because it’s actually fun… There are violent undertones, but it’s like an action movie. It’s like Die Hard, where Bruce Willis will blast somebody and then make a punch line about it- it’s fun.

I first became a fan of your music when I heard the “Chrome Depot Freestyle” with Apathy over DJ Premier beats, which was 10 years ago. So, for me, hearing Nineteen Ninety Now kind of brought things full-circle, and it was nice to basically hear the same Celph Titled I’ve been a fan of. I feel like a lot of other emcees that came up the same time in the late-90’s/ early-2000’s indie hip-hop movement, and gained notoriety as punch line/ battle rappers, have since abandoned that style in preference of alternative, genre-bending directions. Whatever the case, it seems doing a punch line song is taboo, or being regarded primarily as a battle rapper is now insulting for these artists. As someone who isn’t ashamed of that classification, what are your thoughts on all this?

A lot of that has to do with ego and fear of being irrelevant. When you start hearing backlash from people about punch line rap, like ‘there’s no substance’, this and that- an insecure artist who’s effected by that is going to question their shit and try to appeal to that [stigma]. They might convince themselves ‘This isn’t my natural growth. I need to go and make this a sad song with a story’, or just do all this weird stuff they didn’t do before. If you look at the long-standing, successful artists in hip-hop- even if they’re not critically acclaimed, guys like E-40 and Too Short never changed their formulas. They might have updated their production styles with the times, but they’ve always given their fans what they want and they’re still here, making plenty of money. I realize that I’ve created a brand through a certain vibe when you listen to me and I never want to let my fans down, especially because I enjoy doing it. I don’t care what other people think, like ‘oh it’s just backpack, rappity-rap’, because that’s what I like and I have enough fans… I’ve been disappointed by my favorite artists so many times, and what they could have done to have my support and everyone else’s was so simple. Trying to do something totally different makes fans mad a lot of times. It could be why a lot of the guys who came up with me and Apathy 10 years ago are gone, and I think the fact we’re still here doing this says a lot.

Nineteen Ninety Now actually isn’t the first time you’ve done a concept, collaboration album. Several years ago, you dropped the Boss Hog Barbarians project with J-Zone, which can be considered another, yet more comical, homage to early ‘90’s rap music. How was this concept and working with J-Zone different than working with Buckwild on the new album?

In a way, that album is the west coast version of Nineteen Ninety Now. Zone and I are such fans of that era and we both wanted to do something different at the time. He was having some issues where people were pigeonholing him into one sound, like the accordion beats, talking about his infatuation with Lucy Lu and that’s all people wanted to hear. As a growing artist, that would make him mad, so we did ‘Barbarians’ in a kind of rebellious way, like ‘this is what we came up on, what we love, and we’re going to make a very funny, killer project out of it.’ I think it went over a lot of people’s heads; they might have thought it was all a joke. There was definitely a joke aspect to it. We’re not super-serious guys- we like to make people laugh and we know how to have fun, but it wasn’t a whole parody. We really felt that project and there were a lot of concepts on it. We shared the mic duties and I did a couple beats that were my tributes to classic [San Francisco] Bay Area stuff… It was different because J-Zone is a friend of mine, and was a friend prior to making that album. We did the album because of our friendship and our admiration for each other’s talent. We would come up with ideas on the spot while joking around, laughing and being loose. With Buckwild, I didn’t know him beforehand. We met each other in order to do the album and I had to get to know him. We’re friends and we joke too now that we understand each other’s sense of humor and stuff like that, but it’s different when you go into a project already having that kind of personal rapport versus building the rapport while you’re doing it…

Celph w/ Treach of Naughty by Nature, who is one of many decorated rap hall-of-famers on "Nineteen Ninety Now"

Asher Roth: Not the First of His Kind

January 25, 2009


One of XXL Magazine’s mostly refreshing 10 emcees to usher rap’s future, and apparent wonder-crush of Steve Rifkin’s collegiate daughter, Asher Roth has garnered quite the buzz for being the white white rapper. Hipsters dig him because they think he’s ironic (even though hearing “The Lounge” on 98.9 The Beat or in the Palmer Club doesn’t really sound misplaced), but hardcore varieties of fans show a more genuine respect for his own, new brand of honkey swagger… and maybe even his mic skills (imagine that). Either way, people are embracing him as the first full-blown preppy emcee. While Mic Skillz dropped the “Andover Hospitality” Ludacris spoof almost 8 years ago, that was only one track. And although John Brown is the self-proclaimed King of the Suburbs, he still dresses like NY Undercover reruns urge him toward the extra-large South Pole/Enyce racks at JC Penny, even though he obviously fits size smedium. Asher, absent of any forced, synthetic urban tokens, can use this to his advantage and could be about to win on a major scale.

While the codes of Philly Fuckery require me to hate on him (since I am, in fact another Caucasian hip-hopper that views himself tougher), the fact that I’m not a rapper myself makes his style easier for me to digest than for a lot of my acquaintances, and I might be fan just yet. I haven’t heard enough to decide one way or the other though… The point of this post is not to praise or denounce the artist, but to acknowledge the power of packaging, and give credit to a true innovator when it’s due. Say what you will about young Roth, but I don’t think he initially intended to pursue the frat boy gimmick before a few recent press shoots and the “I Love College” track. There is, however, a different individual that was all over this angle from the jump, starting five-plus years ago.

Enter Troy Walsh, daring proprietor of Burb Life Records, who hails from an even more fuck-random Pennsylvania town than Roth. While his MySpace page and “Happy Hour” video speak for themselves, note that it was all the way back in 2004 that he enlisted ‘now’ street DJ, Lt. Dan to release his promo mixtape, decorated with nothing besides images of golf greens and an old colonial-style logo. Yes, a new Asher track is banging for its creative sampling of a Weezer melody, but Troy rocks with an entire band every show… and even straps on the old axe himself, bitch. Then there are Mr. Unlikely’s credentials (some notables listed below), which despite some lost promise, overshadow the 22-year Roth’s rather vague rap sheet of pre-SRC dues paid and even out Walsh’s gaudier reliance on presentation.

Granted, there are some fairly distinct image discrepancies. Asher is more the upper class, frat-boy white dude, whereas Troy is more of a grungy, redneck scenester white dude. But the rap game isn’t ready for that degree of genre-splicing just yet, so there’s only room for one of them in the current industry niche of extra-white rapper. Right now, I’d be pretty disgruntled if I were Walsh, but the tides could easily turn with one failure to deliver a trend and an eager big label looking to capitalize on a new gimmick.

For now, they should settle this with a drinking contest. Congrats for affirming binge drinking as the new white stereotype.

Roth Boys

Happy Hour