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(Image: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Samples)


Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Samples)

You don't need me to tell you that the Wu's debut album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" is a classic, and you already know RZA is a musical GZA genius. What you might not be aware of is all of the samples RZA used for the production on that album, and I'm hoping that's enough incentive to check out the mix I put together. There are a few musical references I missed - the amount of callbacks to other works that Method Man makes in his self-titled song would be enough to fill at least an hour's mix on its own - but I did manage to grab the 25 or so songs RZA sampled for the beats themselves plus a few bonuses like the Hall and Oates inspiration behind Meth's chorus.

Here's the tracklisting for the mix, which I have creatively titled Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Samples):

Bring Da Ruckus - Wu-Tang Clan
Synthetic Substitution - Melvin Bliss
CB#2 - Ralph Vargas & Carlos Bess
Shame On A... - Wu-Tang Clan
Black and Tan Fantasy - Thelonious Monk
Different Strokes - Syl Johnson
Clan in da Front - Wu-Tang Clan
Honeybee - The New Birth
Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are - Thelonious Monk
The Love You Save - Jackson 5
Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber - Wu-Tang Clan
As Long As I've Got You - The Charmels
Can It Be All So Simple - Wu-Tang Clan
The Way We Were / Try to Remember - Gladys Knight & The Pips
Da Mystery of Chessboxin' - Wu-Tang Clan
Tramp - Lowell Fulson
Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing ta F' Wit - Wu-Tang Clan
Underdog Theme - W. Watts Biggers
Papa Was Too - Joe Tex
Nobody Beats the Biz - Biz Markie
C.R.E.A.M. - Wu-Tang Clan
Money Dollar Bill Y'all - Jimmy Spicer
Method Man - Wu-Tang Clan
Method of Modern Love - Hall and Oates
Disciples of Funk - Bootsy's Rubber Band
Sport - Lightnin' Rod
Chim Chim Cher-ee - Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins Soundtrack)
Protect Ya Neck - Wu-Tang Clan
The Grunt Pt. 1 - The J.B.'s
She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain - Folk Song
Tearz - Wu-Tang Clan
After Laughter (Comes Tears) - Wendy Rene
Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9 (Part 1 & Part 2) - Wilson Pickett
Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber - Part II (Conclusion) - Wu-Tang Clan
Make It Funky - Ralph Vargas & Carlos Bess
3/4/2019 4:05:02 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post


Nina Simone - Sorry I Didn't Get Him!

Spotted this on Rocky Rivera's IG page, in honor of the late, great Nina Simone's birthday. If you have even a passing interest in her, the full interview is worth a listen.

These days you might know Simone by way of Lauryn Hill and the Fugees as much as anything else, but she was one of the greatest musicians of the past century. Her entire catalog is incredible, but here is my favorite of her songs:


Nina Simone - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
2/21/2019 7:05:01 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

(Image: Patterson Falls, Patterson, NJ)
Eventually I'll get around to writing full writeups on each of the producers below, but for now I just wanted to share a few instrumentals that I've been listening to from artists that have contributed a lot to this site over the years. Check 'em out:


He's Hers (aka Chris Brown/PE/Sans Rivals/No Equal) - Simula
Chris is living out in the Phillippines these days, and his younger brother Pips is a little more active in the music scene than he is at the moment, but he still puts out the occasional instrumental. Keep an eye on his bandcamp page for more updates, or go back through his older stuff on this site.


Bless1 - type beat
For my money, Bless1 is the best producer from Chicago to never have gone on a problematic twitter rant. He's consistently put out some of my favorite beats over the past decade and change, and has a loaded soundcloud page to prove it. For even more, check out some of our previous features on him.

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#BeatsAndBeers got this dope Mirror Universe by @fairstatecoop from @hipstagrahams MN delivery. . ???????????????????????????????????????? . ???????????????????????????????????????? . . . . . . . #music #rapmusic #producers #beats #samples #beatmaker #grownuprap #chicago #brooklyn #chicagohiphop #undergroundhiphop #indiemusic #musicvideo #craftbeer #rapdads #bass #boombap #hiphopheads #hiphoplife #inspiration #beer #vintagerap #beatmakermagazine

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Griff - Beats and Beers January 15th Edition
Speaking of Chicago-based producers, Griff has been doing an ongoing instrumental series on Instragram called Beats and Beers. The above is my favorite of the bunch, and sounds like something that might have been pulled from RZA's archives. Keep an eye on this site for some more from Griff in the very near future.
2/13/2019 7:04:01 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Mad Skillz - Soulquarians Visual DJ Set

Depending on your age, the first thought when you hear the name "Mad Skillz" might conjure up any of the following:
  • Legendary battle rapper who went up against the likes of Supernatural and MF Grimm
  • The originator of the VA rap scene with his first album, From Where????
  • The guy who rapped over that baby crying in the background of Aaliyah's Are You That Somebody
  • Creator of the year-end Rap Up Freestyles (and the guy who destroyed Uncle Murda after Murda jacked the whole Rap Up concept)
  • DJ Jazzy Jeff's hype man
  • Tour DJ for Nicki Minaj

  • Skillz has been one of my favorite emcees since I first heard the Nod Factor as an impressionable college freshman who, up until that point, had been unconvinced that there was anyone outside of NY or LA worth listening to. Until recently I was unaware of his turn towards DJing, but appparently he got into it near the end of his working relationship with Jazzy Jeff. He began teaching himself to DJ, and eventually went on tour with Nicki Minaj. The above audio/visual mix is his latest bit of work, featuring songs that were recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios (at the behest of D'Angelo) during the late 90's by the "Soulquarian" collective: Q-Tip, Dilla, The Roots, Common, Mos Def, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Talib Kweli (and probably a couple of other names I'm neglecting).

    If you're interested in hearing Skillz break down his path to dj'ing in more detail, his appearance on the Reflections of a DJ Podcast is worth a listen. He talks about his falling out with Jazzy Jeff, his reaction to releasing his debut album on the same day that Fugees' The Score and Tupac's All Eyez on Me dropped, getting a beat that Biggie wanted and then sampling Biggie on that same song, and his semester as a Professor. Check it out:



    It would be a crime to post about Mad Skillz and not included his classic neck breaker:


    Mad Skillz - The Nod Factor

    For more from Skillz, head over to his site.
2/5/2019 7:00:03 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Alex Ludovico - New Years Resolution EP

Alex Ludovico has long been an artist ahead of his time. Years before soundcloud rappers discovered indie rock, Ludo was using samples of Elliot Smith and rapping over instrumentals from The XX. As hip hop was walking through the Doors of Lean and other psychoactives, Ludovico was tackling the inevitable issues of addiction and depression that were waiting on the other side. Before acapella battle rappers like Lex Luger were embraced by bigger stars, Alex was showing up on GrindTime. He's covered a lot of the ground that emo rappers like XXXTentacion got famous from, just a decade before hip hop audiences were really ready for it.

All of which is to say that when Ludovico stopped recording music a few years ago he wasn't retiring from the game, he was just giving everyone else a chance to catch up. It's 2019 and he's back now, with a new three-song EP New Year's Resolutions that delivers his signature style of incredibly proficient lyrical depression:


Since the last time we featured him here, Ludo's been transplanted from Atlanta to L.A. The move to Los Angeles, which he made "in search of something to make [him] feel alive again," was a source of inspiration for him and got him back in the recording booth last year. I asked him about the move, and he had this to say about it:

"LA is like the unspoken co-writer of all of my new music. I've seen the highest highs here. Nights in millionaires' mansions and beautiful women everywhere. But I've also seen the seediest underbelly of this place. I had a spot of homeless here and had to hop from shitty hotel to hotel. I landed on my feet but LA . . .never really allows outsiders to feel stable. . .LA has bestowed upon me some nuance in how I write my experiences out. And it has given me a true appreciation of the good things in my life."

For fans of his, the EP delivers what we've come to expect from him: music that is both socially and emotionally aware, walking listeners through his experiences without ever glorifying or preaching. The highlight is You & Me, which vividly details his personal battle with addiction in a way that even someone who hasn't done anything harder than Heineken can appreciate:


The EP closes out with Better, a song that morphs from a cry for help to something bordering on a motivational message, providing enough hope that Ludovico will follow through on his commitment to releasing new music every month for the remainder of the year:


For an artist that's now been in the game for over a decade, his goals have evolved since his debut at the age of nineteen. He says, "my idea of success now is just getting my ideas into the world. I'd love the whole fame thing, but that isn't the end game." The man has more than enough talent as an emcee to match up with those who have achieved fame, but there's only so much control an artist has in the pursuit of it. Nothing's guaranteed, but as Ludovico continues to put out music his success has already been achieved.

For more information on Alex Ludovico, head over to his official website. Then follow him on Twitter and Instagram

The New Year's Resolution EP will be available on all major platforms (Apple, Google Music, etc.) Please go out and show some support!
1/28/2019 7:00:02 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

Prof - Andre the Giant

Given that the above video has damn near 4 million views already, I'm probably not putting you all up on anything new by posting this here. Prof's a new name to me, however, and I only happened to come across him while searching for new stuff from fellow Minnesotan MaLLy (aka Mally from the 612, aka M-A-Double-L-Y, aka the dude who's helped generate about 5% of the content on this site over the past decade). I don't have much to say about Prof, other than this song of his is dope enough to motivate me to post this over the weekend. The song's off of his album Pookie Baby.

Speaking of Mally, at some point I hope to get around to posting all of the stuff he's put out over the handful of years that this site lay dormant, but in the meantime here's one of the highlights of his from the past couple of years. I never considered it prior to hearing this, but a Mally/Bambu joint album filled with socially aware lyrics suddenly seems necessary.

Brother Ali featuring Mally and Bambu - Home Away from Home
1/26/2019 6:00:02 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post


Injury Reserve featuring Rico Nasty and Pro Teens - Jawbreaker

For those of you who have been keeping an eye on my Instagram page the past few years, you may be aware that I am tangentially connected to a company that has tied itself to the ever-rising wave of streetwear and sneaker culture (and depending on how far we're willing to travel up the ownership chain when playing Six Degrees of Employment, I could make the claim that Eminem and Paul Rosenberg are two of my bosses without being entirely untruthful). I've now reached an age where I'm too old to rock a wildly overpriced Supreme tee (though not too old to turn down a nice pair of J's), but still have a need to stay plugged into the hypebeast-iary, if only to maintain some common ground with my co-workers.

As a result of that I've been keeping an eye on various streetwear forums, and this afternoon the above video from the Arizona-based group Injury Reserve started popping up on them. The song - off of their upcoming, but as-yet-untitled album - is getting attention in part because it calls out Ian Connor, the former stylist for Wiz Khalifa and one-time muse for Kanye's fashion line who has since been accused of several instances of rape. Connor's career has been largely unscathed by the allegations, so the name drop in Injury Reserve's Jawbreaker, however well-deserved, came a bit out of left field. The video itself also calls out the streetwear scene's acceptance of another problematic designer, A$AP Bari and his VLONE line, despite video evidence of sexual assault.

I'm not a huge fan of the beat or the chorus from Rico Nasty on this one, but there was enough in the lyrics from Injury Reserve's members to inspire me to dig further into their backlog. Add this group to my ever-growing late pass, but if it's possible to proclaim yourself a fan of a group after just an afternoon's worth of listening then I've achieved fan status. The group is very much a product of the Twenty Teens, but they show just enough influences from rap groups of the previous decade to not entirely alienate grey(ing) haired listeners like myself; an example would be the Spaceship lyric drop in Jawbreak above, or multiple beat samples and quotes from The Roots found in some of their other songs. Here are a couple of the highlights from some of their older material:


Injury Reserve - Oh Shit


Injury Reserve - Black Sheep
1/23/2019 5:00:01 pm posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post

33jones MLK Day Mix

In honor of the great Dr. King, I put together a mix of socially conscious hip hop tracks for today. Throw it on, read up on one of the most important figures in U.S. history, and try to find a spare minute to do something positive in honor of the man. Tracklisting below:

Black and Proud - James Brown
Changes - Tupac
Alright - Kendrick Lamar
Self Destruction - Boogie Down Productions
Fuck the Police - N.W.A.
Sound of Da Police - KRS-1
Bags in my Hand - Bless1
Don't Shoot - Dave East
How Many (Black Lives) - Miguel
Black Rage - Lauryn Hill
Here's to the State of Mississippi - Wyclef Jean
By the Time I get to Arizona - Public Enemy
U.N.I.T.Y. - Queen Latifah
Stop the Violence - Boogie Down Productions
Black is Black - Jungle Brothers
Revolution - Arrested Development
Fight the Power - Public Enemy
Impeach the President - Honey Drippers
Impeach the President - Saigon
Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around - The Roots
1/21/2019 5:00:00 PM posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post


33jones - Steel Drum Mix

Having recently moved back to Jersey just in time to experience sub-zero life (shout out to Francois Petit), I've been scrambling to find ways to cope with the cold weather. Over priced lamps with enough wattage to give me sunburn haven't quite done the trick, so I've instead turned to carribean music to trick my mind into thinking I've landed in a warmer locale.

It's an approach that apparently is being embraced by hip hop A&Rs as well these days (or whatever the soundcloud era equivalent of an A&R is), as two of the biggest rap songs right now make heavy use of one of the staples of carribean music, the steel drum (or steel pan if you want to be truly accurate). Both Kodak Black's Zeze and Tekashi's Kika - a song notable for not only proving that Scott Storch is still capable of making a solid beat, but also for its court-enforced censorship - are built around the instrument, and perhaps not coincidentally they're both doing quite well on the charts at the moment.

The success of these two songs inspired me to dig up some older hip hop tracks that also sampled the steel drum. The mix above is by no means comprehensive, and intentionally leaves out perhaps the most succesful steel drum-sampling rap song of all time, Crank Dat, but I think I hit most of the highlights. Here's the tracklist:

Big Sean - Guap
50 Cent - P.I.M.P.
Clipse featuring Slim Thug - What It Do / Wamp Wamp
Nas - Money is my Bitch
Mura Musa featuring ASAP Rocky - Lovesick
Madvillain - Curls
Big L featuring Tupac - Deadly Combination (Instrumental)
Tekashi 69 featuring Tory Lanez - Kika
Kodak Black featuring Travis Scott and Offset - Zeze
The Outlaws featuring Tupac - Worldwide (Remix)
Drake Featuring Rihanna - Take Care
Gil Scott Heron featuring Jamie XX - I'll Take Care of U
Young Thug featuring Travis Scott - Pick Up The Phone
Jaylib - Strip Club
1/13/2019 8:30:02 PM posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post


Curly Castro - Walking Razor/Sidney Po

As we head into 2019, one of my goals for the year is to use this space to put the spotlight back on some of the artists that helped support the site over the years and get their music some exposure to whatever audience is still left out there. If nothing else, my moms stays riding for this site so there will be at least one additional view added to whatever gets posted here.

First up is Curly Castro, who we've featured here numerous times over the past decade including an interview that talks about his cosigns from Jazzy Jeff and G-Dep. Castro recently dropped a new album called Tosh that features production and guest features from a few people that should be familiar to long time readers: Zilla Rocca, Small Professor, Willie Green (Know What I Mean?), Blockhead, and a few others make appearances.

The above song - or more accurately "songs," which draw inspiration from Peter Tosh's Stepping Razor and Black Uhuru's Guess Who's Coming to Dinner - combined with the title of the album might suggest that Tosh is merely going to be a series of callbacks to classic Reggae tracks, but the album is a lot more varied than that. It's got everything you'd expect from Castro at this point: a smooth flow delivering rhymes that cover everything from the historic to the personal, clearly influenced by dub music but certainly not limited by that influence.

If you want to show Castro some love - or if you're looking for a way to put that Christmas money from grandma to good use - head over to Backwoodz Studioz' site and buy a copy of the album Tosh.

Alternatively, if you are no longer in the Christmas spirit of giving, you can stream the album over on Bandcamp.

While we're here, I want to highlight one more track from the album. The album is sixteen songs deep, and there are several entries worth posting, but one that really interested me was a song produced by Floodwatch. Older heads may recognize that name from the once great music blog Floodwatchmusic, but Flood has since tried his hand at some production work (including a great remix for Bring Me The Head of Zilla Rocca that I can no longer find, but if your DuckDuckGo skills are sharp I'd encourage you to go dig for it). Check it out:


Curly Castro - Dark Skinned Drum (produced by Floodwatch)
1/1/2019 8:30:01 PM posted by Fresh | Comment on this Post