Kool G Rap @ 2Funky Music Cafe, Leicester, England. June 28, 2017

Show Review

Kool G Rap
2Funky Music Cafe
23A New Park Street
June 28th 2017

1992: I was but a 12-year-old. Missed an entire year of secondary education. The stories about my cousin’s cassette tapes, are legendary. To my knowledge he still has them. A lot of tunes I used to rock to but never knew who the artists were and it wasn’t all the time I was exposed to Yo! MTV Raps. Ill Street Blues was one of those tunes. The man responsible was in the UK in 1992, rocked every crowd possible, left, and was not seen in the UK again….


2017: ‘Mumble Rap’ reigned supreme. Grime is misunderstood in America as UK Hip Hop, some fans just couldn’t give a DAMN despite Kendrick’s continuous effects to push boundaries, while others were stuck in 2001 playing Ether while sleeping at 4:44am. This has called for the Don himself to return, your rapper’s favourite rapper, the man who Nas said wrote the Hip Hop bible. The people of Leicester and surrounding areas came together to witness history. Kool G Rap, new album in tow, rocking the UK for the first time in 25 years.

The 2Funky Music Cafe’s strategy of exposing as much local talent as possible are a bit hit & miss. The show started with a Polish Hip Hop group whose name I didn’t quite catch unfortunately, A lot of what they performed was in their respective language and whatever they were saying in their lyrics – they meant it. Massive props go out to them as the UK continues to become more multi cultural and those who support Brexit for the wrong reasons cannot stop the power of Hip Hop.

Trademark Blud followed alongside DJ Tricksta and dropped an impressive 20 minute set. His ferocious delivery over tongue in cheek like beats and political subject matter left the crowd wishing he could have been on a little longer. If an opening act gives you that feeling, you are going places.

Leicester’s own Shakezpeare & DJ Roll Blunt were determined to top Trademark Blud’s performance, and They did. Even with sound check problems which Shakezpeare easily overcame by dropping hot freestyles like a professional, and that is what Hip Hop is about, to be able to adapt in any situation. His mission was a simple one – make sure his performance was so on point that no one apart from G Rap could follow him. Were Galaxy High from Sweden up for the challenge?

This is the part where I shed sympathy for Galaxy High, what I saw were two talented emcees who struggled to keep the crowd rocking which brings me to my point earlier: Too many opening acts may have been hit or miss, or maybe Galaxy High were positioned wrong in the line up sequence, or maybe the crowd were just ready for G Rap, it was the middle of the week, some may have had to commute the following morning, maybe 4 opening acts might be overkill. It is understandable in one aspect, keeping the crowd waiting for the main event for too long can also be a disadvantage.

15 minutes before G Rap took the stage, it was up to DJ Anthony Mace to set it, and it doesn’t start any better with a series of Mobb Deep tracks to remember Prodigy. The time when G Rap finally jumped on stage was the time the show was scheduled to finish according to Facebook which proves when it comes to gigs you cannot believe what Facebook says by gospel.

Performing the biggest tracks like ‘Take Em to War’, ‘Ill Street Blues’, ‘Streets Of New York’ & ‘Fast Life,’ the Don showed he never lost it. He takes time out to remember Prodigy in his own way by performing ‘The Realest’, in which Prodigy featured, and G Rap reveals a true story on stage of how Prodigy impacted him.

An interesting moment was when G Rap performed ‘First N!&&@’. Many of us know the DJ Premier produced version but on this night the Dr.Dre version was blasting through 2Funky Music Cafe’s airwaves before a capacity crowd.

The Don closes out his 45 minute set with one of his newest singles from the Return Of the Don album – Wise Guys which features Freeway and Lil Fame of M.O.P. The crowd response was greater than I imagined, as usually a predominately 90s Hip Hop orientated crowd look a bit confused and unfamiliar, but that was not the case here.

Admittedly Kool G Rap was not on my essential ‘see live’ list but looking at it in retrospect, I’m glad I did see him live. Leicester saw history before their very eyes on this night, and G Rap’s time was yours – he embraced his fans and engaged in full conversation after the show, taking pictures and signing memorabilia, even with Prodigy’s memorial service which took place the following day.

Massive respect and salutations to The NGE (New Golden Era) massive and crew for looking out for a brother. They are some good dudes right there, just don’t front on them! Last person who did that got BLAOW! In their mouth corner! Others talk about it while they live it and that’s the Hip Hop we support over here.

Take a bow Kool G Rap! He’s Out For That Life!
(Michael Grant of RePPiN4U)

Photo images courtesy of @Kip1979_kipp

30 years on, Eric B. & Rakim get “Paid In Full” again

Eric B. & Rakim
30th Anniversary Of The Paid In Full Album
Apollo Theater
New York
July 7 2017

Not so much an Eric B. & Rakim concert, but a tribute celebration of the duo’s debut album release “Paid In Full” took place at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York yesterday. July 7th, was the 30th anniversary of the initial event.

With Eric B. as DJ, numerous artists attended on stage, or performed on the night including: EPMD, Fat Joe, B-Fats, Lovebug Starski, Joeski Love, Sweet Tee, Roxanne Shante, Ice-T, Flava Flav, T La Rock, Peter Gunz, Main Source, Maino, Mr. Cheeks, Special Ed & Ma$e. Also present at the Apollo were: DJ Kool Herc, Michael Bivins of New Edition/Bell Biv DeVoe, Ralph McDaniels of Video Music Box, Bumpy Knuckles & DJ Chuck Chillout amongst many others.

Rakim limited his appearances on stage to only 2. He did 5 tracks from the album: “My Melody”, “I Ain’t No Joke” I Know You Got Soul”, “Eric B. Is President” & of course “Paid In Full”.

Whether or not a recording re-union will take place between Eric B. & Rakim is unsure, but for now check out some footage of the show below:

Jay-Z – The Story Of O.J.

Track Review

The Story Of O.J.
S. Carter Enterprises, LLC./Roc Nation/Universal Music Group Recordings Inc.

Here’s the debut visual from Jay-Z’s latest album, which just like “4.44” was initially released exclusively on his Tidal streaming service. For me personally this is the standout track on the album.

Some of the lyrics have led to Jay-Z being accused of anti-semitism, but if the line “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it” is taken in the right context the myth is dispelled. It’s in reference to a group of people gaining wealth by beneficial financial & business management.

The title is in reference to O.J. Simpson, the former NFL football running back, broadcaster & actor. O.J. was accused, put on trial & acquitted of killing his ex-wife & her friend. In 2008, he was convicted and sentenced to 33 years imprisonment for armed robbery and kidnapping.

There’s more to the story though. A listen to the lyrics give a message that as a Black person, no matter your complexion, financial or social status you are still Black. Additionally, with that said, your Blackness is the only criteria used & then used against you in racially prejudiced America. Also, regardless of any differences Black people have, individually there are lessons to be learned from the mistakes & successes of those made in the past & present.
(Rashad Unique)

Check out the lyrics below:
(Intro: Nina Simone)
Skin is, skin, is
Skin black, my skin is black
My, black, my skin is yellow

Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga
I like that second one
Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga

O.J. like, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” …okay

(Verse 1)
House nigga, don’t fuck with me
I’m a field nigga, go shine cutlery
Go play the quarters where the butlers be
I’ma play the corners where the hustlers be
I told him, “Please don’t die over the neighborhood
That your mama rentin’
Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood
That’s how you rinse it”
I bought every V12 engine
Wish I could take it back to the beginnin’
I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo
For like 2 million
That same building today is worth 25 million
Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo

Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga
Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga

You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit
You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it

(Verse 2)
Financial freedom my only hope
Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke
I bought some artwork for 1 million
2 years later, that shit worth 2 million
Few years later, that shit worth 8 million
I can’t wait to give this shit to my children
Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine
But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99
I turned that 2 to a 4, 4 to an 8
I turned my life into a nice first week release date
Y’all out here still takin’ advances, huh?
Me and my niggas takin’ real chances, uh
Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear
There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah

Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga
Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga

J-Live wants us to swim 9000 miles to reach his fundraising project

Fundraising Campaign

The 9000 Miles Project

The rapper J-Live has announced a fundraising project to finance his teaching campaign. In order to do this more effectively he needs to upgrade his studio. He aims to teach those of all ages, utilizing the art form of Hip Hop, all in order to enable people to empower themselves for the better. Those who donate to this fund will be rewarded with a gift. The more donated then the greater the reward.

Project details:
Peace! My name is J-Live. I’m an emcee, producer, DJ, and an educator. Born and raised in New York City. Currently residing here in Atlanta Georgia.

9000 Miles is my very first crowdfunding project. The purpose of this campaign is to enable and empower me to serve not just an artist, but as an educator.

My vision is to not only teach through my lyrical content and performances, but also through lectures, classes and hands on workshops for aspiring artists of all ages. The title “9000 Miles” and the concept, is actually an old song of mine.

It actually refers to the lessons of the 5% Nation and the N.O.I. The lesson is a poetic conversation about the [Trans] Atlantic Slave Trade. This notion of a captured people that want to return to their home but can’t swim 9000 miles across the ocean. This question of; Why didn’t their people come and get them? And this answer that, their people just didn’t know where they were. Metaphorically for me, it represents struggle, not just artistically but financially as well.

A lot of us, artists and otherwise, are treading water and surviving in sink or swim situations. So this 9000 Miles gofundme is my way of saying, “I’m here, and I’m asking for help.”

I’ve actually developed a curriculum to teach everything that I’ve learned through my experiences and travels as a hip hop artist; Writing, recording performing, cutting and scratching, blending, mixing, producing, beat making and then some.

The goal of this campaign is raise money to take this knowledge from my little home studio here, to the hip hop ed community around the world. Upgrading this studio will empower me to not only better produce and perform my own music, but help me to enable others to get the best of themselves creatively through hip hop.

The money will go towards repairing gear, updating and improving software, hardware, learning new technologies, so that I can apply them to my own music and have more to teach others, and of course some day to day living expenses. It will also allow me to outsource things I’ve been doing myself out of necessity and pay other creatives for their time energy and skill. Things like art direction, photography, videography, engineering, marketing, promotion, publicity, you name it.

And for fans of my music, a lot of whom affectionately refer to me as underrated, I can’t begin to express how much this help will enable me with the head space, the time, the resources, to not just make more music but to expose more people to my music.

For advocates and allies, these funds will help me to become not just a more successful independent hip hop artist, but to actually serve the community as a social entrepreneur.

I am thankful for any all support you’re willing to give. Be it monetary or social by sharing this with other people. I’ve set up rewards and incentives for various levels of support. From music in my digital catalogue, to signed CDs, to T shirts, to posters to online experiences and even some in person experiences for people here in Atlanta. But to show and prove the value of this project, I’ve actually begun producing a series of videos speaking on different points in the curriculum. I’ll be rolling them out as things progress.

One of the things I liked about gofunme is that projects don’t have expirations or time limits. Having said that, I’m actually setting a goal of 2 weeks for the 9000 Miles Project to reach the benchmark of $9000. As an added incentive to reach this goal in time, I’m pledging from the onset that monies exceeding $9000 will be split between this project and other like minded crowd funding campaigns from other people. Consider this my way of paying it forward. I’ll be back here frequently keeping you posted as things progress. I want to thank you in advance for your support. PEACE!
(J-Live/Justice Allah)

Rewarded donations start at $65.00 & upwards.

Donate to J-Live’s 9000 Miles Project here

Avarice – When Pawns Become Kings

Album Review

When Pawns Become Kings
Release date: April 14th 2017

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Avarice then familiarize yourself here with his Bio:
Originally hailing from Uniondale, New York, Avarice is an independent hip hop artist. His material can always be expected to be witty, lyrical, and to have a certain measure of authenticity that is currently (and unfortunately) rare in hip hop. He lists artists such as Nas, Mos Def, Ras Kass and Pharoahe Monch as some of his influences, and the same inclination of those individuals, as far as pushing the bounds lyrically and conceptually within a song, is shared by Av.
In the past Avarice has opened for acts such as Mobb Deep, the aforementioned Mos Def, and Shabaam Sadeeq. Recently he has released “Words And Sounds”, a six track EP, and followed that with his latest full length project, “When Pawns Become Kings”. Currently he resides in Waterbury, Connecticut, and is recording and performing with a CT-based collective of hip hop artists called the “Ninja Science Team”.

Now onto his latest album release:
When you drop your release on the same day as projects by Kendrick Lamar & Talib Kweli/Styles P, you have some serious competition in getting it noticed. All you can do is put out an album worth noticing. Avarice has done this by following up his “Words And Sounds” EP, released earlier this year, with “When Pawns Become Kings”.

Sometimes, if something is worth doing then it’s worth doing yourself. As Avarice explained to me he had to take this route when releasing the album. All the efforts reward any listener & should reward the artist.

When describing the general sound, the words “Jazzy” & “Boom-Bap” instantly spring to mind. On first listening I detected particular concept to the album, although mentions to subject matters such as racism, police brutality, poor vocal deliver of some rappers & of course, the vocal skills of the artist himself often appear in the lyrics. Then, after continuous rotation, it becomes clearer. It’s all about overcoming your struggles & the constant strive to do so.

For me this is an album strictly for the hardcore Hip Hop heads to bump loudly. No gimmicks, no preaching, just non-stop lyrical gymnastics. Some rappers attempt to spit 10 or more words in every bar & fail miserably. Not so with Avarice. Also, many a time he never pauses for breath when he raps & does so with ease. Clearly the man has no time for simplistic words & delivery, unlike the “Mumble Rap” that dominates the commercial airwaves.

High profile guest features give a boost to you as an artist. On this album it’s provided by Ras Kass on the track “96​ (​Quadriplegic Centipedes)”. You wouldn’t expect anything less than vocal excellence from the LA legend, but Avarice is equally adept verbally as he yet again proves.

When Pawns Become Kings
When Pawns Become Kings
Directed by: Zenith

The title track in my opinion should always be the standout joint, so I guess that’s why it got the visual treatment.
You can totally appreciate the concept & the album’s title after watching. No frill, just pure feeling & if you get that feeling too after listening, you’ll feel like Avarice does as well, like a King!!!

(Rashad Unique)

Preview the “When Pawns Become Kings” album here

Visit Avarice @ Twitter here
Visit Avarice @ Bandcamp here
Visit Avarice @ Facebook here

Kasim Allah – R.O.T.G.E. (Return Of The God Emcee)

Album Review

Kasim Allah
R.O.T.G.E. (Return Of The God Emcee)
Sandy’s House Entertainment/Right & Exact Entertainment
Release date: March 17th 2017

Us Hip Hop purists feel that the artform is in a stage of Emergency. No fear, the God Kasim Allah from Now Rule (New Rochelle, N.Y.) has come to the rescue & “R.O.T.G.E. (Return Of The God Emcee)” is his panacea.

A blend of social commentary, rhyme skills & attack on the wack elements of Hip Hop are delivered in Kasim’s trademark monotone voice, backed by thumping beats that are all tightly produced & varying in style.

The intro of the opening track “Call Me Dat” at first leaves you thinking “What the f*ck is goin’ on?” “Is this gonna be some trap sh*t?” Naah! Don’t be fooled, it’s a smokescreen. The old school drums soon kick in with a rhyming style that complements.

Kasim’s love for Hip Hop is evident, that’s why he !”Can’t leave rap alone” therefore “The Game Needs Me”. It’s a history lesson of the artform that goes back & forth through the good & the bad of it all over the years. The production is bouncy & swirls around the eardrums Golden Era style. Pure listening pleasure.

The title of the track speaks for itself: “Hip Hop Is Black” let the facts stand clear. Again, more lyrical assessment of the game according to Kasim Allah.

It’s ass whuppin’ time for all the new cats out there, acting the fool with their “Ignorant” nonsense they portray. Short in time length, but straight to the point in it’s indictment against the perpetrators. The same subject matter is continued with an attack on those who act all soft yet thuggish, happily being what the media & record companies want them to be. What’s that? Industry whores who promote negativity. Why? Just to get a chump change paycheck so that the paymasters can get rich off their foolish behavior, not caring about it at all. “F*ck Boi” is an appropriate label for them.

One of the many alarming & disturbing acts of police brutality, leading to yet another death of a Black male is highlighted in “Eric Garner”. On July 17, 2014, Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a NYPD officer put him in a chokehold for around 15 to 19 seconds while arresting him. Why did the police kill him? Because he was suspected of selling “loosies” (slang for single cigarettes) from packs without tax stamps, then deemed to be resisting arrest. It’s only right that these incidents are raised & the police are condemned for their brutal behavior.

“Return Of The God Emcee” has Kasim flowing over a triumphant & dramatic fanfare of a music track. This is who I am & what I’m about is the agenda here. The last verse has some sword swinging lyrics & head get severed!

The social commentary touched on in “Eric Garner” is revisited again. The clarion call is to “Fight Back” against injustice, police brutality & racism towards black people. No justice, no peace.

An insight into Kasim’s foundation in Allah’s Five Percent is given on “The Time”. This is followed by retrospect concerning important women in his life & how he would have told the word he loves them, “Anytime”. It’s a smoothed out break from the hardness of the album’s content so far. Don Scribbs provided a melodic sung chorus.

Remaining in the chill out zone, “Foolz Paradise” is a clear contender for summertime jam of 2017. The Meli’sa Morgan sample sets the scene perfectly & gives the track club appeal. Relationships that aren’t right & exact for you can bring you some major emotional stress, nobody needs that. A man needs to know when to bring a romance to an end if that’s the case. Health, wellbeing & being able to say to yourself “I’m Alright” are more important.

Next up is a tribute to “Keita “Wizo” Speed” from Now Rule (New Rochelle N.Y.) who was murdered in early 2014. Along with Don Scribbs, Da God Jaquan, Sadat X & Bullet Baines they ask “Who Was There?” when it happened…

When it comes to negative & fake talk, the message is clear “Save It”. At the same time, many don’t want to adhere to the track’s title when it comes to saving Black lives & decaying neigborhoods. Damn shame.

It’s imperative that we all do the knowledge to those people around us. Nobody is above examination & by doing so you separate the real from the fake. Many claim to be something that they are not & “Who Dat?” covers the topic perfectly. Never take anybody on face value, let them show & prove.

What is shown & proven yet again is Kasim Allah’s ability to command attention with his strong vocals, deliver a message in his music & entertain all at the same time. Return Of The God Emcee? I would say that the God never went away, but he just added on to his impressive back catalog of musical builds.

(Rashad Unique)

Preview the “R.O.T.G.E. (Return Of The God Emcee)” album here

Lord Jessiah presents: Grounds Of Detroit 2: The Wrath Of God

Album Review

Lord Jessiah presents:
Grounds Of Detroit 2: The Wrath Of God
Black 7 Productions
Release date: March 21st 2017

It’s been an almost 4 years to the day wait for the follow up to the “G.O.D. :Grounds Of Detroit” album, but now the wait is over. Lord Jessiah presents for us “Grounds Of Detroit 2: The Wrath Of God” & I can personally say it was worth the eager anticipation. This is the kind of Hip Hop I like, it’s ruff, rugged & raw & then some! This album also shows that there is more to D-Mecca (Detroit to the 85’ers LOL) than Eminem & people that he put on. Lord Jessiah does the same by having features on each & every track, including guest cameo appearances from Guilty Simpson & Njeri Earth.

The production:
All the tracks are produced by Jessiah himself, apart from two which were constructed by X The Detective. In general the sound is a mix of chopped samples, sound stabs, hard beats & occasional cuts & scratches. Most times there are smooth, dramatic & melodic samples used, yet they don’t detract from the ruggedness of the album’s sound. The DJ work is provided by DJ Los & can only be described as vicious. There are no interludes or sung, harmonized choruses, just straight up hardcore beats. With this high standard of product I’d be happy to work with Lord Jessiah myself.

The vocals:
The album to me is like a continuous freestyle cipher. The raps are aggressive & packed with metaphors, none of which are intended for commercial radio play. Each rapper showcases their ability to spit their best lyrics without the aim of trying to outdo, or upstage one another. There is no preaching or teaching here, just hard street rhymes.

The tracks:
Let the wrath begin! From the onset & right to the end of this album, every track is a sonic assault. The album begins with “Pistols” feat. the Wisemen. With their mics being the aforementioned pistols, you can picture them storming stage to the dramatic musical backdrop provided. Now the arrival is over, a steady pace comes in the form of “Karma’s Kitchen” feat. Beej & Slautah & “Horse Power” feat. O1 & Kawshus.

As it suggests “No Friend Of Ours” feat. Illah Dayz tells a tale of betrayal which will be followed up in a later track. “Gun Chariots” feat. Loe Louis, La Peace & Drugs TheEmCee & “Nights At The Round Table” feat. Metasyons & J-Kidd both have an uplifting sound to them.

The title track “Wrath Of God” feat. Alius Pnukkl & Fatt-Father & “Detroit Decembers” feat. Konphlict & Da Prezident Chris Walker calm things down musically a little before “Cold Dishes” are served with Drugs TheEmCee & Venus Sky. The debut single off this album comes across as being the follow up to the story in “No Friend Of Ours”. I may be wrong, but it certainly gives that impression. After all the album is entitled the “Wrath Of God” & every rapper sounds mad vexed!!! What I can confirm is that it’s my standout track on the album. The production is fiyah!

“Prize Fighters” feat. 5-Star & Njeri Earth is a bass driven battle track. Even though she has already more than proved her worth, trust me, on this evidence Njeri Earth could easily outrap many male rappers. Man, she went in hard on this joint!

“Suicide Doors” feat. Rome & Jade Josephine & “Cry Later” feat. Fat-Ray & Phillie see the album continue in the same vein as the rest of the content, a posse type track with hard raps.

Now for the album finale. Without trying to be condescending, or taking anything away from the talent of others, it’s always a massive advantage to have a well known artist on your album or track. This is provided by Guilty Simpson on Stress Plates, also feat. Bronze Nazareth. The beat is choppy, but smoothly rapped over by all featured.

This album, as I stated earlier is not for commercial radio play. What “Grounds Of Detroit 2: The Wrath Of God” is, is an album that stays true to the original format of hardcore Hip Hop. If that’s your vibe, then you’ll surely appreciate it as much as myself. Long may the wrath of The D-Mecca God Lord Jessiah Allah continue!

(Rashad Unique)

Preview the album “Grounds Of Detroit 2: The Wrath Of God” here