For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

From the highly anticipated album “Invisible Man”, Shinobi drops another gem!!! Be on the lookout for  “Invisible Man” featuring Roc Marciano, Kap Kallous, and the Vets of Kin releasing this winter in association with Fly Def.

Shinobi Stalin “Welcome to Ozone” Directed By REXsposure Prod By Tempermental

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YUGEN BLAKROK- RETURN OF THE ASTRO-GOTH Iapetus Records

Since the early 90’s I’ve had a knack for thinking outside the box to find obscure dope Hip Hop (and Heavy Metal) in obscure places. Not only was I hunting down talent in the U.S. other than NY or Cali (like Minn., Indiana, Wisconsin and KC), but I was also looking overseas as well. My first introduction to Hip Hop from South Africa came from the group Cashless Society and their single “Blaze ‘tha Breaks.” Once this single dropped in 2001, I was introduced to a treasure trove of talent coming from the Motherland.
“Return of the Astro-Goth” is just a small sample of the deep pool of talent oozing out of S.A. I’m gonna get this of off my chest right now, if this review doesn’t pique your interest and make you go and purchase a copy, you’re seriously missing out on a great album! Arguably Yugen Blakrok has easily created one of the best albums of 2013. Hip Hop has always been geared to be universal so, the fact that this release is an international one shouldn’t stop those from knowing who Yugen Blakrok is. With one listen, you’ll have no choice but to find out what other gems Iapetus Records have cooking in their laboratory.

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The best way to describe Yugen’s style is simply imagine a female version of G.U.R.U. of Gangstarr (voice-wise) and lyrically falling somewhere in between Bahamadia and Jean Grae. Overall her voice is soothing but keeps your attention throughout the 15 tracks. Her subject matter switches from abstract to raw, in-your-face wordplay and allows one to contemplate the industry and her stance as an accomplished artist in this world. Production is done by the supremely talented Kanif Sebright as he concocts beautifully dark and lush/boom bap backdrops for Yugen and her counterparts to feast on.
What I love most about the LP is the fact that Return of the Astro-Goth is not cameo heavy (only two tracks), which allows the listener to really get to know YB and what she’s about. You’ll really find yourself getting immersed in her lyrical skills and subject matter.
I’ve found it extremely hard to pick a favorite track but if I had no choice it would be “Constellations” because it has an appearance from the talented and late ROBO the Technician but there are way too many other tracks I could pick. Other neck breaking tracks include, “Tetra Tarantula”, “Beastleague”, “Neo.Vadar” and “Darkstar” to name a few. Now you have to excuse me for gushing all over this album but I literally played it 7 times before reluctantly ejecting it out of my CD player (I like to keep it moving). I’d also like to highlight the mega-fresh album artwork done by Kobus Faber. The artwork really adds to the vibe of the music, making “Return of the Astro-Goth’ a complete and classic piece of art! Please support Yugen Blakrok and Iapteus Records buy purchasing this manifesto either in physical form, digitally or both @ http://iapetusrecords.bandcamp.com/album/yugen-blakrok-return-of-the-astro-goth  By C73 aka CyPhEr73

P.S. I have to send a huge Rest-In-Power to ROBO the Technician who recently passed. He was a great talent and if you want to hear awesome music check out his self-titled LP also available at Iapetus Records.

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So you tell me you’re a rapper, and can come up with at least one name that’s from the golden era. Likely, you’re able to recite some common names from the documentaries you’ve been watching. Maybe you’ll say The Sugar Hill Gang or Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, however, you have no idea who Parrish Smith is. If this is the case, then it’s time to get schooled. Spend a bit of time and research and learn what made these icons immortal in the rap game (and beyond). Each of these artists dominated their own space in the Hip Hop genre, and went on to influence countless others. What space are you filling? Who will you influence? Are you distinct enough to stand the test of time?

Soulsonic Force

Kurtis Blow

Jimmy Spicer

T-La Rock

Schoolly D

Mantronix

RUN DMC

Whodini

Ultramagnetic MCs

EPMD

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Check out veteran emcee Dreadchild’s (Knotz and Damali family) “Party In Here” from the upcoming “The 7th Session.”
The banging track features Jojo Pellegrino and is produced by Scram Jones.

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Interview by Tommy Screwface.

Amid a flurry of anticipation for the long awaited return of REEEWIND in Jamaica, New York, Papa Michigan of the iconic reggae duo Michigan and Smiley discussed a bit about his amazing history in music.   

What year and how did the duo form?

Michigan and Smiley came together in 1978.  We were living in the same community called Union Garden.  That is in Kingston 13.  We started to deejay (rap) on a soundsystem called Third World.  Then, we left Third World and played for another soundsystem called Black Harmony.  The owner of Black Harmony took us to Sir Coxsone Dodd (the owner of the record label, “Studio One”) and that’s how we recorded the first album called “Rub-a-Dub” style.

When you went to Mr. Dodd at Studio One, did he hear you on the soundsystem, did you auditioned or did the owner just bring you there?

The owner took us there and said “just voice them youths, there.”  No audition, just voice the tunes.  We picked all the rhythms on the album.  Mr. Dodd never heard of us before.

The “Rub-a-Dub Style” album was released around 1979.  During those days, I noticed there were not too many deejay duos recording albums.  Was Michigan and Smiley the first deejay duo to record an album?

That’s true, there weren’t many duos.  Clint Eastwood and General Saint were some the same era, but came and formed after us musically.  Eastwood was there, but; I did not know about General Saint.  I’m definitely sure about Eastwood, because guys like Trinity and all of those guys were there…

But those guys never formed a duo… like Michigan and Smiley formed one.

Nah.

In 1980, “One Love Jamdown” was recorded on the 56 Hope Road label that was distributed by Tuff Gong.  How did the song get released on a label that was owned by Bob Marley?

We were the first deejays to record at Tuff Gong.  The song became number one for about 3 months and eventually became song of the year.  The song of the year previously was “Nice Up the Dance,” which was on the “Rub-a-Dub” style album.  Actually, the song was written by manager Jahnet Enwright. 

In 1982, Michigan and Smiley released “Diseases” on the Mad Mad rhythm.  If I am not mistaken, the rhythm is similar to Alton Ellis’s song “Mad, Mad, Mad.”

Yeah, I heard people keep call it the Mad Mad riddim.  But, that is not what we called it originally.  We have more than one name for it.  Some of us called it the Johnny Dollar rhythm.  A producer, based in New York City, by the name of Tanka made the rhythm.  So I really don’t know about the Mad Mad.

The tune “Diseases” crossed over into the Hip Hop market a couple years later, specifically in New York.  Eventually some dancehall reggae started to receive attention from the major record labels in the United States?

In a way, because; all Black Americans know us because of “Diseases.”  We got the attention somehow.  I was flying into California (solo) and Richie (Richard Daley, the bassist from Third World) stated that Stevie Wonder wanted to speak to him because Stevie Wonder loved the song “Diseases.”  “I’m saying WOW, because; the song is crossing borders.”

Did the major labels “knock on your door” like Yellowman had an album on CBS/Columbia (now a subsidiary under Sony Music Entertainment) and Lieutenant Stitchie had a few on Atlantic records?

You know what, Island Records came to us and took “One Love Jamdown.”  I thought things were going to happen, but; they took it and shelved it. 

One of the last songs that I remember Michigan and Smiley recorded as a duo was “Stress,” which was recorded around 1993 on the “Pepperseed” rhythm.  After that, I saw solo projects from Papa Michigan and General Smiley.  Why did the duo break up?

Prior to “Stress,” we had a single called “Tom’s Diner” that was produced by Donovan Germain.  Stress was from a friend, Lloyd Campbell, in New York that has a record label called “Joe Fraser.” 

Smiley was living here in the states, whereas; I was living in Jamaica.  That is why there were solo projects.  “I have five albums, to date; which are doing great.”  Smiley also has an album and does his thing. 

Earlier in the interview, you stated that you and Smiley started on a soundsystem.  In this day and age, would Michigan and Smiley perform on a soundsystem?

(Straight laughter!)  “That’s a very good question.”  Recently, I was in Mexico and thought I’m going to perform with a band.  I reached Mexico and they had a soundsystem and it was set up, like the original days, on the stage and you have the microphone.  That is what they wanted in Mexico City, the original foundation. 

How do you feel about dubplates?

Many sounds ask for dubplates, I just don’t do it dirt free.  There’s a price for it because, this is a business.

For the people who may not have heard or kept up with Michigan and Smiley, what is your Facebook, Twitter, and all that good stuff?

We stay contemporary, up to the time. 

 Twitter

https://twitter.com/generalsmiley

https://twitter.com/michigannsmiley

 Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/papamichigan

An impressive list of reggae stars including King Yellowman, Josey Wales, Luciano and others  is slated for REEEWIND, a spectacular event celebrating Rub a Dub culture taking place at Amazura Concert Hall in Jamaica, New York on November 9th.

Story/ Interview by Tommy Screwface

Michigan and Smiley’s classic album can also be purchased on CD Universe.

Special thanks to Flair Lindsey for her assistance in this interview.

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