Equipment used for making underground hip hop beats (RJD2, RZA, Madlib, Dj Vadim, Dj Krush, etc)

Famous underground hip-hop beatmakers talk on the equipment they use. Here are the quotes:
RJD2: I use an MPC 2000XL and two 1200 turntables. That's all you need. That's what I used to make Deadringer on. I'm not computer literate. So I don't fuck with ProTools or anything.

RZA: As far as the equipment, when I'm scoring I basically use a lot of different keyboards because I'm looking for certain sounds, certain vibes, certain things and some of these sounds you may not hear in Hip-Hop. For this particular score I used mostly a keyboard called Korg Triton and used some older material, MV8000, which I use for Hip-Hop, as well, but I use it in a different capacity for the scoring. And not only am I using Pro Tools but I use Logic and other programs, as well. One machine may not have the right vibe for the scene and then you gotta try another machine or try a different sound that may not be available on SoundLink.


Madlib, J Dilla, Clouddead: The Roland Boss Dr.Sample SP-303

9th Wonder, Little Brother: The programs we use are Cool Edit Pro and FL Studio. Those are the two programs that we use, and that's what we did the whole album on.

Dj Krush: To create tracks I used to exploit the AKAI S-1000, Roland MC-50 and SP-1200 as my main equipment, but I can now say that Ableton Live has completely taken over. At times, I sample once with the SP-1200 and then resample with Live.

MF Doom: I did all the of album (Operation Doomsday) on the Roland VS 1681 as far as recording and MPC2000 studio plus. Did all the tricks on those two bad boys.

Dj Vadim: In terms of equipment, its all done on a Mac G4 Cubase VST 5 with loads of compressors, eq's, valve stuff, MPC 3000, SP1200, AKAI 3000xl. Loads of keyboards like Clav, Rhodes, Wurly, Mini Moog, Nord lead, Oberheim DBX, Hammond b3, guitar pedals and Kaos pads.

Danger Mouse: However, Danger Mouse will say that a couple of his favorite keyboards of the moment are a Korg MS-2000 and a Roland Saturn 09. “Money Mark [who plays on Dangerdoom] has been getting me more into a lot of stuff keyboardwise,” he says. As for software, DM has used Digidesign Pro Tools and Apple Logic in other people's studios, but he prefers Sony Acid Pro at home. “I used to use old samplers and a lot of old drum machines and samplers, and then I made a switch years back,” DM says. “I basically use that program now in the same way I used those.” Although DM buys a new PC every year, it's not to increase his processing power. “I use very basic PCs,” he says. “I don't have any special soundcards or anything. The reason I get a new one every year is because there always winds up being some fucked-up virus or some kind of crash, or something ends up broken on it, so I wind up getting a new one all the time.”

How to Rap Freestyle / Freestyle Rapping Tips

1. Listen to previous freestyle flows and battles by great artists (e.g., rappers like Jin, Jay-Z, Yusaf, Benefit, Rakim, Big L, Eminem, and any other great artist that spits hardcore rap).

2. Understand the techniques those artists use to flow and battle, which will help you enhance those techniques yourself.

3. Start writing rhymes. Write down anything that comes to mind and try to rhyme it. Using your emotions is a good way to describe what you're feeling when you spit or write lyrics. Make sure you eat a hearty meal before attempting a battle.

4. Practice free-styling -- anytime, anywhere, as much as you can. Even if you run out of things to freestyle about, just continue spitting, no matter how wack you think you sound. It helps you develop better rhymes and your mind becomes more focused on what sounds good when you spit. It's like a mental workout. So always practice spitting anywhere.

5. Once you've noticed you can spit on spot (when you want to), try to spit about more specific things. Direct your raps toward things that bother you or upset you. Anything you dislike or want to talk about, try to spit about it. Once again, practice this until you feel you've got it down.

6. Start freestyle battling. The first step to freestyle battling is to practice the first 5 techniques in a battle against a friend or someone who it wouldn't matter to if you messed up. Constantly battle like that with people, especially if you can find a friend who is actually good at battling so they can teach how to improve what you lack. Again, continue to practice this until other friends you know (especially those into hip-hop music) think you're pretty good.

7. Have your first real battle against someone you at least somewhat dislike. If you can find someone who just gets you emotional or who angers you, it makes it easier to flow about them. You want to make sure when you flow about them you include 3 major things.

- Metaphors - Making comparisons with your target (the person you're battling) to something that denigrates them.
- Disses - Saying things that either make fun of them in general (e.g., how they dress, speak, spit, look, walk, talk, act, or their personality) or about them personally (e.g., the way they live, their past, their lifestyle, weaknesses about them, anything that directly goes against them in a way that makes fun of them).
- Punch-Lines - a Punch-Line basically is a bar (2 lines you spit) that incorporates a Metaphor, Dis, and/or anything else to enhance the flow directed at your opponent.

8. Don't worry if you lose your first few real battles, the point is to constantly practice spitting. Continue practicing until you've got it down. And pay attention to how other people spit whom the crowd/judges enjoy. There are many techniques to battling, but these are just the basics.

- If someone beats you in a battle and it gets to you, practice more until you think you're really ready. Then challenge them again: if you win, you will earn a lot of respect back. It's a great feeling, and chicks or dudes will dig your system and flair.
- When you think you lost it, don't worry - just relax. The worst thing to do is freak out. Just relax and keep going. You might still ace it.
- While your opponent is rapping, think how you can come back to what he says, so you get a better punchline.

"Spit" as used in the context of this article is a synonym for rapping, not the forcible expulsion of saliva from the mouth. Please do not practice the latter kind of spitting; it does not make you look nearly as cool.


Paris Hilton was targeted by Banksy

Controversial artist Banksy has targeted Paris Hilton with his latest stunt.

The Bristol born artist, famous for his distinctive graffiti artwork, tampered with 500 copies of Hilton's debut album in 48 record stores across the UK.

Banksy replaced the official CD with his own remixes, giving the tracks titles such as Why am I Famous?, What Have I Done? and What Am I For?.

The CD artwork was also doctored to show Hilton 'topless' on the album sleeve and with a dog's head in other images.

The tampered CDs still retained the original barcode and were purchased by unwitting customers.

Obviously considered artwork by some, the altered CDs have now appeared on eBay.

One auction, by seller 'thiethooitbeg', hit £298 before the listing was cancelled by the auction site because it "contravened eBay regulations". The relisted item is currently selling for £97.

Another listing by 'loveishell2005' with a starting price of £200 is currently selling for £205.

Living Legends Bio / Discography

The Living Legends crew is a family of independent hip-hop creators. From primary earth bases in Los Angeles and Oakland, the Legends extend worldwide and beyond.

It all started with BFAP (now known as Sunspot Jonz) and PSC (Luckyiam), who laid claim to the name of Mystik Journeymen in the early 1990s. By '94 they were locally legendary for throwing Underground Survivors shows, houseparty style at their loft - 4001 San Leandro Street in East Oakland. That's where the Grouch hooked up with the Journeymen in 1995, just before they took off on their renowned first European tour.

Around the same time in the southern part of the state, Mid-city Los Angeles to be exact, 3 Melancholy Gypsys (Murs, Scarub & Eligh) were part of the almost mythic Log Cabin crew going back to 1993. Log Cabin later broke up and the Gypsys wandered separately. As it turned out, the 3 would cross paths again in the Bay Area and became Living Legends.

Aesop came to Oakland from Fresno, Arata from Osaka, and Bicasso from various points, East, West and elsewhere...

In 1999 the Legends shifted their center of gravity to Los Angeles, but their presence has definitely not diminished in Oakland and the Bay. You know it makes no difference where they stay because the universe revolves around them anyway. Over the years, the Journeymen and the Legends have rocked Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada numerous times, plus they've toured the USA, north and south, east coast, west coast and beyond ...

In the years since the Legends have continued releasing solo and crew projects and now have a catalog of over 50 full-length albums and numerous singles. All in all, this crew of motivated do-it-yourselfers has sold over 200,000 albums collectively. The latest crew album "Creative Differences" has turned in to their best selling album to date, (with Soundscan numbers just under 23,000 so far) and continues to sell. Other recent releases are from CMA (Grouch & Luckyiam), Scarub, and Sunspot Jonz. New projects by Eligh, 3MG, Bicasso and Aesop are expected in 2005. March 8, 2005, will see the release of the Legends highly anticipated new album "Classic," a project the crew got together to record earlier this year. That was the first time in recent memory all 8 members were together with the purpose of recording a new project and what came out of those sessions is definitely their strongest material yet. Expect to see them spring 2005 coming to a city near you on tour promoting the new project. The group has no plans to let up, they're only turning up the fire, see if you can keep up. Legends Baby!!!!

Down For Nothing 12" (2005)
Classic (2005)
Blast Your Radio 12" (2004)
Awakening 12" (2004)
Damn It Feels Good 12" (2004)
Creative Differences (2004)
Crappy Old Shit (2003)
Almost Famous (2001)
Gotta Question For Ya 12" (2001)

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1. Oh No – Oh Zone
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3. Madlib – Take It Back
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9. M.E.D. - All I Know
10. Dudley Perkins – Wassup World?
11. Percee P & Quasimoto – Raw Heat
12. Jaylib – No $ No Toke (aka "Blaze Up")
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14. Roc C – Movin’
15. Gary Wilson – Dreams
16. Pure Essence – Third Rock
17. Aloe Blacc – What Now
18. Baron Zen – Turned Around (PBW Remix)
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Organized Konfusion Interview

"When you make it a point to bring light into manifestation, you are metwith an opposite force of darkness," hypothesizes Pharaoh Monch, one halfof the severely under appreciated hip-hop group Organized Konfusion. "Let’s say I attest that there is a truth and the truth is…’If you put yourhand to the fire you will get burned.’ If someone stands to gainfinancially or whatever from people getting burned, they will make it apoint to lie and be like…’That’s not necessarily true because if you wearthis glove, you won’t get burned,’" Monch explains. Light versus dark,truth versus lies, positive versus negative- all opposite, but not alwaysequal, forces working in everyday life. When your life is hip-hop, whichforce is pushing harder? Where is your balance?

Pharaoh Monch and his lyrical comrade, Prince Poetry, are a couple ofhardheaded muthafuckas. Neither of them can boast of having a single"murder/death/kill" notch on their glocks, the death toll remains at zerofor now. Shit, last I heard, they aren’t even prone to flashin’ steel muchless bustin’ it. They also have very few "bitches" making their way throughthe revolving door of a posh hotel and up to their penthouse. Not enoughhoes are getting served…you gotta wonder why. Maybe it’s because they haveyet to pop the cork on a bottle of Cristal. Then, if they aren’t burning anacres worth of herb a day - forget about it. What are they…blind? Didsomeone forget to hip them to the formula for becoming a (in)famous hip-hop"artist?" Bitches + Blunts + Bustin’ Steel = Beaucoup Bucks. Are theytrying NOT to make some ends? Perhaps shit doesn’t go down like that forthem. You gotta wonder.

Since their eponymous debut in 1991, Organized Konfusion has been aboutelevating heads to higher echelons of emcee technique. As hip-hop was onthe verge of being swept away on billows of blunt smoke, heralding the dawnof "The Chronic" era, Organized were on some straight cerebralmanipulation of a different fashion. They extended the mind-fuck on 1994’svirtually ignored Stress - the extinction agenda (Hollywood BASIC). Imaginethis…academically enhanced, urban intelligentsia stilos executed overbutter smooth production, leaving the average listener cramming tounderstand and the active listener - awestruck. On both previous albums,folks were hit with some old next shit.

Emerging from a three year hiatus, the group has just dropped theircinematic opus, The Equinox (Priority). Using several skits interspersedthroughout the fourteen musical tracks, The Equinox tells the story ofLife and Malice, two friends careening towards adulthood, faced with everyexternal and internal obstacle imaginable. Life and Malice are two sides ofthe same coin, good and bad, pleasure and pain, hope and despair,understanding and confusion. In short, and as the title of the albumimplies, they represent balance. The songs on the album also reflect thatbalance. From the battle rhymes of "Questions" and "Confrontations,"heading towards the party mode of "Move" and "Sugah Shorty," and settlingin the troubled introspection of "Invetro" and "Hate," each song presentsdifferent facets of Life and Malice’s coexistence, illuminating every highand low that can be associated with trying to survive in this world. Thewhole story is narrated by a much older Life who comments on his pastactions with the kind of wisdom that can only be attributed to experience.The Equinox is yet another ambitious effort by a group that is known forgoing against the grain. In this age of "guns, money greed, and sex"rhymes, Organized Konfusion’s decision to stay true to form reads like adeath sentence.

"I like a lot of rappers today but 9 out of 10 of them are based off ofwitty metaphors," muses the forthcoming Prince Poetry. "’I’m this andyou’re that. I’m like a Benz and you’re like a Volkswagen buggy.’Everything is sounding stagnant." Yeah, things are sounding rather(e)motionless right now. And whether it’s nihilistic tales of gangsterismor play by play accounts of Cristal soaked parties, the vantage point israrely one actually familiar to the emcee much less his/her audience. Thesedays, most emcees put no heart in their rhymes. Consequently, hip-hop’sheart has slowed, approaching a life threatening state of inertia."People, to me, make ‘dream’ albums," continues Prince Po, his gruffbaritone voice exhibiting equal amounts of disgust and worry for thepresent state of hip-hop. "You can’t hustle everyday. You can’t hang outand party everyday. These things just don’t happen everyday. It seems likea lot of people be sellin’ themselves out for not diggin’ inside themselvesand pulling out more intellect. It just proves to me that you’re shallow."On the contrary, Monch and Po’s songs are often on some "Captain Nemo" typeformat - 20,000 leagues and under most people’s understanding of how lifeshould be portrayed on wax. We’re talking head crushing depths here."Great balls o’ fire/ I’m traveling at higher speeds to proceed topenetrate flesh/ Hitting the spleen after splitting the chest of a Queensteenager/ Pager shredded to pieces from the glock 9 inch hollow tips itreleases/ The police is in the back of the ambulance/ Blood loss as Ishook across your chest/ I rest, rupture/ I’m the slupture, slasher/ I’llbust your liver faster/ blood pours - now it’s up to the master…"-Prince Poetry, "Stray Bullet"

"The whole beauty of being a writer is to allow yourself 100% ability totouch upon infinite subject matter. To say to yourself, ‘If it could besaid…if a bullet or an unborn fetus could speak, what would it say,"explains the more reserved Pharaoh Monch, highlighting a classic rhymingm.o. for Organized Konfusion - the group’s tendency to give voice to thevoiceless, to speculate on the thoughts and feelings of persons or thingsthat don’t usually get to express themselves.

On The Equinox the group has recorded the amazing "Invetro," where Monchand Po assume the perspective of unborn twins, broadcasting live from theircrack mother’s womb. Over a Roy Ayers inspired track, Monch relays thevision of the twin who sees no chance for himself in an apocalyptic worldand would prefer to be aborted, while Po counters with the optimism of thetwin who would like to give life a shot, despite the adversity that hefaces in the womb and the trials that lie ahead. It’s all another part ofthe "balancing act" that is The Equinox. Quite frankly, the song is a thingof beauty, equally imparting utter hopelessness as well as the unfettereddetermination that it takes to get through this thing called life - evenmore profound when coming "from the mouths of babes." Thought provoking asit is, it’s no wonder that the song’s concept is one that has beenmarinating in the minds of Monch and Po for about two years."

Most of the time I second guess my statements. I try to be cautious," saysMonch, the silent intervals between his words conveying his analyticalnature. "Although it’s a conceptual song, I start to question….’Do I reallywant to say this? Am I saying that or is the character? How are peoplegonna take it?’ That matters to me." It’s THAT kind of respect, for theaudience and for the art, which distinguishes Organized Konfusion fromrun-of-the-mill emcees who will rap about anything that makes them money -fact or fiction. Sometimes it’s not all about the Benjamins."We’re making hybrids/ Created potent enough to open eyelids and leavepupils dilated…/ Now it’s easier/ Plus economically feasible for me toleave rap if it’s queasy and inebriated/ We made it/We came/ Dedicated - werated supreme/ Either with or without the cream. -Pharaoh Monch, "Questions"

With unadulterated talent and innovation acknowledged, the questionremains, "Why are Organized Konfusion still slept on?" Outside of the lovefrom their small but loyal fan base, Po and Monch are treated like they’repushing a demo. Been there - done that. Record labels still don’t know whatthe fuck to do with a group whose fans range, as Po puts it, from "b-boyswith mad jewels and diamonds" to "white kids with backpacks who rideskateboards and listen to rock music."

Prince Poetry tries to break down the record label hierarchy and how the"hard sell" gets lost in the shuffle: "There’s a big gap between thepresident and the vice president and their assistants and promoters. Thepresident and vice president generally don’t give a fuck until sales comein. But they don’t know that the person they hired to do your in-storedidn’t have your shit set up when you got there. All they know is that yourrecord is not selling and they’re ready to kick you off the label or shelfyou. They want music that will sell itself. Sex and violence sells itself.Basically, they’re on some genocide shit."

So maybe record execs are addicted to fat pockets and any money devoted topromoting "experimental" stuff could possibly mean they won’t get a thindime in return. Pharaoh Monch doesn’t see it that way. "If I was presidentand there was a song that was selling itself, I would give it a banister tolean on. But at the same time, to flip the company, I would redirect somefunds and try to make a million dollars out of the stuff that needed thesupport. If you work something like that into the program, you’re settingup a whole fuckin’ lifetime of sales for those types of groups."

As the story goes, Organized Konfusion’s record sales have not been theobject of envy. Most recently, their contract with Hollywood BASIC wasbought by the more diesel Priority Records - The Equinox is their firstPriority release. A sign of good things to come? More exposure maybe? Thatremains to be seen.

"I don’t know what Priority’s game plan was but it seemed to be ‘let’spick them up from a label that has bad distribution and make theirdistribution better.’ We’re still screwed ‘cause I walk into stores to thisday and my shit is not there," explains Prince. Not once though does eitheremcee delude himself about their "challenging" marketability. "By puttingout albums that are lyrically, emotionally, and musically versatile , Iunderstand from jump that it would be harder to market than someone justsaying ‘I’m all about fuckin’ the bitches and ice diamond rings!’"

"How did hip-hop get caught up in this ill rap game?" "In hip-hop, whothey following - the niggas with skills or the niggas who be hollerin’?"These are only two of the questions posed by Organized Konfusion on TheEquinox, but they are easily questions that every so-called emcee and everyso called hip-hop head should be asking themselves. There are a few groupslike Organized who are illuminating truth, trying to protect their peepsfrom getting burned by the "fire" that Monch talks about. Still, the powersthat be would have fools believe that true fulfillment comes in the questfor the almighty dollar. So we put on the gloves they give us, as well asthe matching jacket, skully, boots, and goggles, and we leap into theflames. We are so far removed from the days when hip-hop was about takingwhat little resources you had to lace folks with the illest rhyme, thedopest beat, the unbridled truth about life and how you live it. We nowsettle for silly rhymes, jacked beats, and fabricated lies…and all thistime, Prince Poetry and Pharaoh Monch have been diligently putting in workto insure that hip-hop remains original, artistic, and above all, honest.As Plug 1 would say, they’ve been "keepin’ it right." So while we race atbreakneck speeds to fork over dough for the next ghetto fable, one morequestion begs to be answered. Is Organized Konfusion hardheaded or are we?


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Mos Def Bio

Initially regarded as one of hip-hop's most promising newcomers in the late '90s, Mos Def expanded his reach in the years to come, establishing himself as a serious actor and also making a bid to reshape the rap-rock genre. His artistic career began in the late '80s as a television actor, a profession he began directly out of high school. By the mid-'90s though, Mos Def turned to rap music as his new profession, frustrated by how little acting paid relative to rapping. Based in Brooklyn, he began affiliating himself with the local hip-hop scene, appearing on tracks by such esteemed groups as De La Soul and da Bush Babees. Following these guest appearances and some singles for Royalty (most notably "Universal Magnetic"), Mos Def began recording for the upstart Rawkus label. His first full-length album, Black Star (1998), a collaboration with Talib Kweli and DJ Hi-Tek, shook the hip-hop community, which embraced the album and spoke of a Native Tongue revival. His solo debut, Black on Both Sides (1999), did much the same a year later. For the most part though, Mos Def maintained a low profile in successive years, rediscovering his passion for acting and forming the rap-rock supergroup Black Jack Johnson.

Born in Brooklyn, Mos Def pursued the arts at a young age, excelling as a performer. After high school, he began acting in a variety of television roles, most notably appearing on a short-lived Bill Cosby series in 1994, The Cosby Mysteries. He soon grew frustrated with life as an actor and switched to rapping. Appearances on songs by De La Soul ("Big Brother Beat") and da Bush Babees ("S.O.S.") -- both released in 1996 -- began Mos Def's rap career with much propulsion. A year later, he released a single of his own for Royalty Records, "Universal Magnetic," and it created quite a stir. Soon he moved to Rawkus Records, which was just getting off the ground at the time, and began working on a full-length album with like-minded rapper Talib Kweli and beat maker DJ Hi-Tek. The resulting album, Black Star (1998), became one of the most discussed rap albums of its time. A year later came Mos Def's solo album, Black on Both Sides, and it inspired further attention and praise.

Rap groups such as De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Brand Nubian -- loosely known as the Native Tongue collective -- had set a precedent years earlier for socially conscious, thoughtful rap music more likely to celebrate Afrocentricity than gangsta culture. Yet these artists had fallen out of favor by the late '90s as they aged. Mos Def, on the other hand, was young and charismatic, an apparently capable and willing heir. Thus, listeners, critics, and everyone else who had heard Mos Def's work for Rawkus championed him as a sort of savior, a genuine, important MC in an age of flossin' gangstas and angry thugs. And Mos Def certainly fit the role as newly crowned king of the new-school Native Tongue artists such as Common and Kweli. However, for whatever reason -- the hype, the pressure, the attention -- he shied away from the recording studio after Black on Both Sides and began pursuing other interests.

During the early 2000s, he acted in several films (Monster's Ball, Bamboozled) and even spent some time on Broadway (the Pulitzer Prize-winning +Topdog/Underdog). He simultaneously worked on the Black Jack Johnson project with several iconic black musicians: keyboardist Bernie Worrell (Parliament/Funkadelic), guitarist Dr. Know (Bad Brains), drummer Will Calhoun (Living Colour), and bassist Doug Wimbish (the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Living Colour). This project aimed to reclaim rock music, especially the rap-rock hybrid, from such artists as Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, who Mos Def openly despised. What made Black Jack Johnson so anticipated though was not so much the supergroup roster of musicians or even Mos Def himself, but rather the lack of black rock bands. Following the demise of Living Colour, there were few, if any, that had attained substantial success. Mos Def hoped to infuse the rock world with his all-black band and during the early 2000s, he performed several small shows with his band around the New York area. In October of 2004, he finally delivered a second solo album (The New Danger), which involved Black Jack Johnson on a few tracks.


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1. Lyrical Swords - GZA & Ras Kass
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The Ultramagnetic MC's History / Bio

The Ultramagnetic MC's are a rap group whose members included Kool Keith, Ced Gee, TR Love, Moe Love and later Tim Dog. Their work was associated with unorthodox sampling, polysyllabic rhymes, and bizarre lyrical imagery.

The group formed in 1984. Many believe that without the group's primary producer, Ced Gee, the sound and samples, mostly James Brown, would not have been as prominent. Their worldwide buzz started with "Ego Trippin'", their 12" single on Next Plateau Records in 1986 which featured the infamous "Substitution" drum break sample, but their break-out single was "Funky/Mentally Mad", one of the most sought 12" singles of their career. It was released in 1987. This led to the release of the album, Critical Beatdown.

The Ultramagnetic MC's released a new school classic in 1988, Critical Beatdown, with typical James Brown samples. However, they disappeared after that for several years. They returned on Mercury Records in 1992, with the album Funk Your Head Up. 1993's The Four Horsemen was considered extremely strange though still brilliant. It was the last album the Ultramagnetic MC's released.

There were several semi-legitimate and compilation albums to follow, many with outtakes or older material not released (such as The B-Sides Companion). In 2001, they released a single, "Make It Rain/Mix It Down" which whetted fans' appetites for a reunion album.

The Ultramagnetic MC's launched the career of self-proclaimed "Bronx Nigga" Tim Dog who brought out the very successful single "Fuck Compton". Kool Keith and Tim Dog reunited on the Ultramagnetic MC's semi-reunion album Big Time. Kool Keith went on to record many solo CDs, including one as Dr. Octagon. His abstract rhymes influenced many rappers, including Pharoahe Monch from Organized Konfusion.

In a December 9, 2005 interview on Houston's Late Nite Snax radio show, Kool Keith confirmed rumours that the Ultramagnetic MC's had reformed and recorded a new album. Founding Ultramagnetic MCs member Ced Gee has set up Factshen Records. A new Ultramagnetic MCs LP, Back To The Future—The Bronx Kings Are Back, is scheduled to be released in 2006. It features the original line-up of Kool Keith, Ced Gee, Moe Love, TR Love, Tim Dog, and newcomer Grafiq Malachi Sebek.


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Ultramagnetic Mc's 'Critical Beatdown' (1988) Full Album MP3 Rapidshare Download

"Watch Me Now"
"Ease Back"
"Ego Trippin'"
"Moe Luv's Theme"
"Kool Keith Housin' Things"
"Travelling at the Speed of Thought" (Remix)
"Feelin' It"
"One Minute Less"
"Ain't It Good to You"
"Funky" (Remix)
"Give the Drummer Some"
"Break North"
"Critical Beatdown"
"When I Burn"
"Ced-Gee (Delta Force One)"

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1. Make You Shake (Original Lab House Demo)
2. Space Groove
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6. Ya Not that Large
7. You Got to Feel It
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11. We're Ultra (Part III)
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ULTRAMAGNETIC MC'S - FUNK YOUR HEAD UP (1992) Full Album MP3 Filefactory Download

01 Introduction to the Funk
02 Intro
03 MC Champion
04 Go 4 Yourz
05 Blast From The Past
06 Funk Radio
07 Message from the Boss
08 Pluckin' Cards
09 Intermission
10 Stop Jockin' Me
11 Dolly and the Rat Trap
12 The Old School
13 Bust the Facts
14 Murder and a Homicide
15 You Aint Real
16 Make It Happen
17 I Like Your Style
18 Bi-Lingual Teaching
19 Poppa Large
20 Moe Love on the 1 and 2
21 Porno Star
22 The P.M.R.C. ID
23 Chorus Line Pt. 2

Ultramagnetic MC's - The Four Horsemen Full Album MP3 Sexuploader Download
GBR 2xLP 1993
Label: Wild Pitch

1. We Are The Horsemen
2. Checkin My Style
3. Two Brothers With Checks (San Francisco, Harvey)
4. Raise It Up
5. Saga Of Dandy The Devil, The Devil & Day
6. Delta Force II
7. Adventures Of Herman's Lust (Moe Love III)
8. See The Man On The Street
9. Bring It Down To Earth
10. Don't Be Scared
11. One, Two, One, Two
12. Time To Catch A Body
13. Yo Black
14. Big Booty

CunninLynguists Bio

CunninLynguists consists of two individuals, Deacon The Villain and Kno, who aim to make music that reminds listeners why they starting liking hip-hop in the first place. Backed with quality beats and rhymes, gritty sounds, witty lyrics, an occasional curse word and low ends that jump out the trunk like Rae Carruth, the 'Lynguists recapture the soul in southern hip-hop, with what Spin Magazine calls "Outkast's tragicomic poignancy".

Their critically acclaimed debut LP, Will Rap For Food, released in October 2001, features guest appearances by Celph Titled, Tonedeff, and others. It has recently been re-released through Caroline Distribution.

CunninLynguists were joined by Floridian emcee Mr. SOS for their 2nd LP, Southernunderground, which was independently released April 1, 2003 on Freshchest Records. Guests included Masta Ace, Supastition and others, with production from Domingo (Big Pun, KRS-One, Eminem etc.), RJD2 (Cannibal Ox, Mos Def, Copywrite etc.), and Kno. Since the release of Southernunderground, CunninLynguists have received tremendous press in various outlets including The Source, URB, Spin, XLR8R, Import Tuner, The Onion, and others. The group toured throughout the USA, Canada and Europe in 2003 and 2004 alongside acts like The Pharcyde, People Under the Stairs, Raekwon and Brand Nubian. Southernunderground's success with such limited distribution and budget helped win Freshchest Records a distribution contract with Caroline Distribution and was the first project released after inking the deal.

Hailing from Versailles, Kentucky, Deacon has also established himself as a skilled producer, having appeared on Yosumi Record's internationally distributed Game Over 2 compilation as well as The Difference LP. His beats have been blessed by the likes of KRS-One, Masta Ace, King Tee, J-Ro from The Liks, Ruck of Heltah Skeltah and many others.

Kno, hailing from Georgia and described as "one of the top loop-miners east of the Mississippi" by URB Magazine, produced the majority of Will Rap For Food and Southernunderground. He has also recieved critical acclaim in The NY Times, Rolling Stone and other magazines for his remix of Jay-Z's Black Album, entitled Kno vs. Hov : The White Albulum, with copies of the project being personally requested by Black Album producers Just Blaze and 9th Wonder. Jerry Barrow, feature editor of The Source, also praised the album. Elemental Magazine suggested Kno "[will definitely be] known by all very soon", and JuJu of the legendary hip-hop group The Beatnuts (as quoted by feels the same: Kno is an up-and-coming producer to keep an eye on. He is currently working with Jurassic 5, Chapter 13, Immortal Technique and others.

Deacon and Kno are currently working on their third release, A Piece Of Strange, which promises to raise the already high bar for quality they have set with their first two albums. The production is being handled entirely by Kno.


Planet Asia Bio

Planet Asia is well known throughout the hip hop community. As a solo artist and one half of the duo Cali Agents (with Rasco), he has been tearing up airwaves and stages around the globe. Numerous banging 12-inch single releases including "Definition of ILL" (Stonesthrow 1998), "Place of Birth" (ABB 1999), "Pure Coke" (Interscope 2002), and "The Golden Age" (Threshold 2003) have ensured his place in hip hop history. In 2001, The Source Magazine named him First Round Draft Pick and gave him Independent Album of the Year credit for Cali Agents "How The West Was One".

That year, Planet Asia's fire and drive landed him a record deal with Interscope Records. Not many people out of Fresno, California, make it to a huge record label -- especially one that is home to some of the biggest artists in the world including 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, and Eminem. But being signed to such a large label definitely had its drawbacks. Interscope, with many artists on its roster and a huge bureaucracy to deal with could not focus properly on the release of Asia's CD. Even though, Planet Asia was arguably the hottest name in the underground. Despite the fact that Asia was nominated for a 2002 Grammy Award for his collaboration with hip-hop diva Mystic on "W" and even though he was called upon by multi-platinum selling rock super group Linkin Park for his vocal skills on their song "Ppr:Kut"on the highly successful "Re-Animation" LP, Interscope still could not find the time to release Asia's record. Asia also had collaborations with everyone from Black Thought of The Roots, BT, the Dub Pistols, Talib Kweli, & Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan. After waiting three years for his debut CD to be released, Planet Asia decided to take his future into his own hands. He walked away from the hottest record label in the business. It took confidence. It took determination. But most of all, it took courage.

Within days, Asia had a brand new contract. Early 2004 saw the release of Planet Asia's much anticipated and highly acclaimed debut LP, "The Grand Opening," securing yet another Independent Album of the Year credit in The Source. In November 2004, he founded Gold Chain Music with Walt Liquor and took his show on the road with the sold out 26-day Gold Chain Music Tour in Europe. Currently, Planet Asia is in the studio with successful producers, Evidence and The Alchemist, working on his sophomore effort titled, "The Medicine," slated for release in the summer of 2006.

Ugly Duckling Bio / Full Albums Mp3 Download @ Rapidshare

Ugly Duckling are a hip hop trio, formed in 1993 in Long Beach, California. Ugly Duckling's members are Dizzy Dustin, Young Einstein and Andy Cooper. Their style is alternative hip hop, influenced especially by old school performers such as the Zulu Nation and the Native Tongues Posse. Most of their songs follow the creed that hip hop is about having fun and often mock the clichéd gangster rappers who dominate the mainstream. An example of this can be heard in the song "A Little Samba", in which they rap about the enormous wealth mainstream rappers brag about, and the ridiculous nature of their possessions, such as gold name plates on their cars, pet sharks and jetting off to Bermuda on private planes.

Being heavily influenced by old school hip hop, they conform to the original basics of rap music; turntablism and MCing. Their DJ, Young Einstein, forms the backbone of the group; he is renowned for performing very complex scratches both on the record and live, unlike in most modern rap where the DJ has been pushed to the back in order to emphasize the MC. They are renowned for their live shows in which they perform various antics on stage and interact with the crowd getting them very hyped and affording them the reputation as brilliant live performers.



Ugly Duckling Fresh Mode 1999 Rapidshare Download

Ugly Duckling Journey to Anywhere 2000 Rapidshare Download

Ugly Duckling Bang for the Buck 2006 Rapidshare Download

Aloe Blacc Shine Through Review + Rapidshare MP3 Download

What you might want to know first and foremost about Aloe Blacc’s new album Shine Through is that it is not his heavily influenced hip-hop group Emanon. Nor does it follow in the footsteps of his guest spot on Oh No’s late-2004 debut album, or does it feature the superbly crafted conscious rhymes that he has come to be known for. Though he does don his MC cape for parts of this album, Shine Through is mostly a compilation of thoughts, musings and “spirit” that have grown in Blacc throughout his tenure in the music business.

For example, the Oh No produced “Long Time Coming,” is a cover of the classic Sam Cooke song, mixing Aloe’s developing vocal range with No’s vibrant and pulsing beats. While “Busking” is a stripped down acappella tune featuring nothing but Aloe and a typical street corner crooning about awaiting a city bus ride. And the title track itself is comprised of nothing more than vocals and guitar. “One Inna,” one of only two outside produced songs features the evil genius that is Madlib, not subverting his talents, but rather melding them to the style of this artist. Elsewhere on the record you’ll find the classic salsa cover, “Severa,” a world beat record, “Whole World,” and a dancehall inspired riddim, “Are You Ready.”

Blacc wanted this album to reflect all of the inspirations and favorite works he’s experienced over the years. On that note, he succeeds by offering a cohesive reflection of his tastes while showcasing his growth as an artist. But, again, if you’re looking for the DJ Exile and Aloe Blacc reunion album, you’ll be sadly disappointed.



Whole World (3:57)
Long Time Coming (4:13)
Are You Ready (3:21)
Busking (2:17)
Bailar - Scene I (4:14)
Nascimento (Birth) - Scene II (4:31)
Dance For Life (3:41)
Patria Mia (4:28)
Shine Through (1:04)
Caged Birdsong (3:47)
Arrive (3:11)
Want Me (3:31)
One Inna (3:48)
I'm Beautiful (3:50)
+ bonus

And here Aloe Blacc Shine Through Rapidshare MP3 Downloadlink

Roots Manuva Bio

Roots Manuva (born Rodney Smith in Stockwell, South London, 1972) is a rapper.

Manuva grew up around Stockwell in South London. His parents were from a small village in Jamaica called Banana Hole where his father was a preacher and tailor. Spending much of his early years in poverty, this and his strict Pentecostal upbringing clearly had an influence on his music as can be seen in many of his tracks such as "Sinny Sin Sins" and "Colossal Insight".

A quote from Smith himself sums up his early discovery of music: “I was a kid. Before I even knew what a soundsystem was. I was walking past Stockwell skateboard park and there was this sound being set up. They were probably just trying out their speakers. I was with my mum, holding my mum’s hand. And I remember my mum being quite intimidated by the whole affair. Such a barrage of bass coming from it! And these dodgy-looking blokes standing beside it just admiring the sound of their bass. It’s just a bass thing. A volume thing. I don’t know if I rose-tint the memories, but I remember it sounded so good, so rich. It’s not like today when we go to clubs and it hurts. It was more of a life-giving bass.”

Smith made his recorded debut in 1994 as part of IQ Procedure through Suburban Base’s short-lived hip hop imprint Bluntly Speaking Vinyl. He debuted as Roots Manuva the same year on Blak Twang’s “Queen’s Head” single, before releasing his own single, “Next Type of Motion” the following year through the same label, the hugely influential Sound of Money. 1996 saw the release of his collaborations with Skitz (“Where My Mind Is At”/“Blessed Be The Manner”) on 23 Skidoo’s Ronin label. The release of “Feva” on Tony Vegas’s Wayward imprint followed in 1997. This was also the year that saw the first releases from Big Dada, a collaboration between Coldcut’s Ninja Tune label and hip hop journalist Will Ashon.

Releasing for Coldcut's renowned experimental/hip-hop label Ninja Tune in 1998, some of his music may be seen as a predecessor of grime. The following year he released his fearsome debut album, Brand New Second Hand. A reference to his family's modest lifestyle as a phrase his mother used for presents he often got as a youngster that were pre-used. He had such an impact on the UK rap scene that The Times declared that “his is the voice of urban Britain, encompassing dub, ragga, funk and hip hop as it sweeps from crumbling street corners to ganja-filled dancehalls, setting gritty narratives against all manner of warped beats.” Manuva was rewarded for his breakthrough with a MOBO as Best Hip Hop Act that year.

The lyrics of his songs are usually known to take a distinctly British edge, with many critics highlighting his references of eating cheese on toast and drinking bitter as examples of this. His warm and easily recognizable voice can be heard on many songs he performed with other artists such as Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5 & Ozomatli), DJ Shadow, U.N.K.L.E., Nightmares on Wax, The Cinematic Orchestra, Beth Orton and Leftfield. He also made an appearance on the Gorillaz latest album, Demon Days, lending his distinctive vocals to the track, All Alone.

Roots Manuva's "Witness the Fitness" track was parodied by MC Pitman and renamed; "Witness the Pitness".

Roots Manuva produces much of his own music, under his own name and also under the pseudonyms Lord Gosh and Hylton Smythe.


You may also enjoy KRS One reviewing Roots Manuva Run Come Save Me

The Roots Bio / Profile

The Roots, who have also been known as The Legendary Roots Crew, The Fifth Dynasty, The Square Roots and The Foundation, are an influential, Grammy winning Philadelphia-based hip hop group, famed for a heavily jazzy sound and live instrumentation. Inspired by the "hip-hop band" concept pioneered by Stetsasonic, the Roots themselves have garnered critical acclaim and influenced later hip-hop and R&B acts.

The Roots' original lineup included Black Thought (MC) and Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson (drums), who were classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative Performing Arts. As they began to play at school and on the streets, they added a bassist named Josh "The Rubberband" Abrams, who went on to form the Jazz group The Josh Abrams Quartet. They later added another MC named Malik Abdul Basit-Smart, a new bassist Leonard Nelson Hubbard, and a keyboardist Scott Storch. Another MC, Kid Crumbs, was a part of the group for their first album, Organix, but did not appear on any later albums. Another MC, Dice Raw, joined on for cameos in later albums. Scott Storch also left to pursue a producing career following the Do You Want More?!!!??! album, though the split was on amicable terms, and Storch continues to produce tracks for Roots albums to this day. The Roots filled his void with another keyboardist, Kamal, who is still a member.

A beatboxer named Rahzel also joined the group and contributed from 1995-1999. Alongside Rahzel was vocal turntablist Scratch, who DJ'd for them during live concerts. He abruptly left in 2003. Malik B. left the group in 1999 due to drug problems but continued to record, making occasional cameos on future albums. A guitarist, Ben Kenney, had a short stint with the group and contributed to their Phrenology album, but left to join Incubus. A percussionist, Knuckles, was added in 2002 and guitarist, Kirk Douglas (a.k.a. "Captain Kirk") replaced Kenney. A vocalist, Martin Luther, toured with The Roots in 2003 and 2004 and contributed to their Tipping Point album. The current members of The Roots are Black Thought (MC), ?uestlove (drums), Hub (bass), Kamal (keyboard), Knuckles (percussion), and Captain Kirk (guitar).

All members have worked with PETA to promote animal compassion and vegetarian lifestyle.

The group's original lineup was formed in Philadelphia around 1987. They began to do shows around Philly and in 1992 or 1993 left to perform in Europe. They rented out a flat in London and performed in Europe for approximately one year. In order to sustain themselves financially, The Roots released what would be known as their debut album: Organix. The album went on to sell about 150,000 copies. Following the release of Organix, several major record labels offered deals, and the band signed with DGC Records, which at the time was better known for its grunge music releases. With their new record deal, the quintet travelled back to states.

Do You Want More?!!!??!
The Roots' first album for DGC, Do You Want More?!!!??! (recorded live without the use of samples), was a moderate hit on alternative radio. Also lauded for its jazziness, the album was equal parts jazz improv/instrumentation and rap music. It just reached gold staus in 2005, with sales of 501,000 copies.

Illadelph Halflife
The 1996 release Illadelph Halflife was the group's first album to crack the Top 40 on Billboard's album chart, spurred in part by MTV's airplay of the video for "What They Do" (a parody of rap video clichés) and "Clones," which was their first to single to reach the top five on the rap charts. While continuing on the path of live instrumentation, the album's sound was somewhat darker and the band begun integrating programmed drums and samples into their sound. It was also The Roots' first album to include prominent guests, such as Common on "UNIverse At War", D'Angelo and Erykah Badu on "Hypnotic" and Q-Tip on "Ital (The Universal Side)."

Things Fall Apart
Despite rumors of a possible break up, they stayed together and released Things Fall Apart in 1999 (named after Things Fall Apart, a novel by Chinua Achebe). This was their breakthrough album sales-wise, peaking at #4 on the Billboard 200 charts and earning a gold record, signifying U.S. sales of at least 500,000 units. The track "You Got Me," duet with R&B singer Erykah Badu, peaked inside the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and earned them a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group.

Like "Illadelph Halflife", TFA was not quite as jazzy as previous works. First-time cameos on TFA for Philly natives Beanie Sigel and Eve helped to earn them major record deals later (with Roc-A-Fella and Ruff Ryders, respectively). After this album, Dice Raw left the collective to record his solo debut album, Reclaiming the Dead.

The group's popularity continued to rise through the album. With a Grammy under their belts, they were able to perform an extended set at the now infamous "Woodstock '99".

A hectic time ensued for The Roots; several members left, and their popularity increased with their sales and a spot backing Jay-Z for his MTV Unplugged album. With heightened popularity came mounting pressure. The Roots released "Phrenology" (named after the pseudoscience of Phrenology) in 2002, which took a turn away from their jazzy influences and further into rock territory. While commercially successful and nominated for a Grammy for "Best Rap Album," some fans claimed The Roots had sold out because of their focus on rock, electronica and sonic experimentation rather than jazz-influenced Hiphop.

During this time the band also backed Jay-Z for his 2003 farewell concert in Madison Square Garden, and appeared in the accompanying "Fade to Black" DVD.

Tipping Point
After Phrenology, Ben Kenney and Scratch both left the group. Their major label deal with Geffen began to sour, as pressures were mounted on the group to sell more records. This culminated with the release of 2004's The Tipping Point, which took its name from a 2000 book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The album earned two more Grammy nominations: one for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for the track "Star," and another for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for the track "Don't Say Nuthin'."

It debuted at #4 on the Billboard album chart, selling over 100,000 copies in its first week of release, but failed to go Gold. Subsequently, the group left the label after the album's release. Contractual obligations resulted in the release of Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide To Understanding The Roots, Volumes 1 & 2 in 2005, a two-disc compilation album.

Game Theory
The Roots' newest album is entitled Game Theory, and was released August 29th, 2006, on Def Jam records. ?uestlove describes the album as being very dark and reflective of the political state in America[2]. The first single from the album, "Don't Feel Right", appeared on the internet in May, 2006, and is available for free download on several web sites. Various guest appearances have been rumored, but Scratch Magazine confirmed only two: Peedi Peedi and Malik B. The late producer J Dilla also produces one song on the album. The album's first video, titled "The Don't Feel Right Trilogy", premiered on August 21, 2006, and features three songs, "In the Music", "Here I Come" and "Don't Feel Right".

During an interview with MTV, ?uestlove said that The Roots are already working on their 10th album. "As of this speaking, anything to do with the term 'game theory' is strictly past tense only," he said, clearly still relieved that the album is finished. "I'm working on [album] number 10 right now — I want to be the first rap artist to actually make a good 10th record, that's my goal. [We're already] four songs into the next project."

The band tours extensively, and their live sets are frequently hailed as the best in the hip-hop genre. Recently, the band played a concert in NYC's Radio City Music Hall with Common, Nas, Talib Kweli and Big Daddy Kane. They also backed Jay-Z a third time, for his Reasonable Doubt Concert, a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the release of his first album. The Roots have been featured in three movies: Dave Chappelle's Block Party, both performing album songs and playing as a backing band for other artists; Spike Lee's Bamboozled, and Marc Levin's "Brooklyn Babylon," in which Black Thought plays the protagonist, Solomon, and former band member Rahzel narrates.

Recently, ?uestlove reported that he is thinking of adding fellow Philadelphia rapper and Def Jam labelmate Peedi Peedi to the fold as a second group MC. Peedi recently guested on their latest album, and he will join for a set amount of time to "see how it goes."

You may also be interested in the Roots Game Theory Mp3 Downloads

Prince Po Pretty Black Full Album Download @ Rapidshare

Download Prince Po Pretty Black Full Album @ Rapidshare here


1. Intro
2. Prettyblack
3. Mecheti Lightspeed
4. Ask Me feat. 2Mex (of The Visionaires)
5. Right 2 Know feat. Chas West (Tribe Of Gypsies)
6. Holla (L. Boogie's Theme) feat. Presto (GBG), C.J.
7. Feel It 4 U
8. Breaknight
9. Family
10. Purple Kush Ritual feat. China Black
11. Creep On It
12. Interlude
13. U Right Hear (J. Dilla Tribute) feat. Concise Kilgore
14. The City Sleeps

La Coka Nostra The LCN LP Bootleg Download @ Sendspace

La Coka Nostra The LCN LP Bootleg 2006

01 (3:52) Head Nod Shit
02 (3:18) Bloodshed Pt.2
03 (3:46) Rich Man Poor Man
04 (3:12) Whiteys Revenge
05 (3:09) Starksy and Hutch
06 (1:55) La Coka Nostra
07 (4:38) Revolution Up to Left
08 (3:08) Nc Anthem
09 (4:18) Surgical Tactics
10 (2:54) Sometimes
11 (4:23) Fuck Tony Montana (Feat. B-Real)
12 (3:34) Get Outta My Way

La Coka Nostra The LCN LP Bootleg Download @ Sendspace Link

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Jedi Mind Tricks - Legacy of blood (2004)[img]
1. Intro
2. The Age Of Sacred Terror
3. Scars Of The Crucifix
4. Death Falls Silent (Interlude)
5. Saviorself
6. On The Eve Of War (Julio Caesar Chavez Mix)
7. The Darkest Throne (Interlude)
8. The Worst
9. Verses Of The Bleeding
10. Beyond The Gates Of Pain
11. Farewell To The Flesh (Interlude)
12. And So It Burns
13. The Spirit Of Hate (Interlude)
14. Me Ne Shalto
15. On The Eve Of War (Meldrick Taylor Mix)
16. Winds Devouring Men (Interlude)
17. The Philosophy Of Horror
18. Of The Spirit And The Sun (Interlude)
19. Before The Great Collapse

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Demigodz - The godz must be crazy (2002)[img]
│ │ 01 │ Intro │ 01:13 │ │
│ │ 02 │ Science of the Bumrush 2 │ 03:48 │ │
│ │ 03 │ Captivate Deactivate │ 03:15 │ │
│ │ 04 │ The Demigodz │ 04:41 │ │
│ │ 05 │ Off the Chrome │ 04:56 │ │
│ │ 06 │ Dont You Even Go There │ 03:27 │ │
│ │ 07 │ The Godz Must Be Crazy │ 05:39 │ │

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Jedi Mind Tricks - Saviorself (2005)[img]
1. The Age Of Sacred Terror (radio)
2. The Age Of Sacred Terror (dirty)
3. The Age Of Sacred Terror (instrumental)
4. Saviorself feat. Killah Priest (radio)
5. Saviorself feat. Killah Priest (dirty)
6. Saviorself (instrumental)

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King Syze - Syzemology (2006)[img]
1. On A Mission - King Syze
2. Blitz Inc - King Syze & Vinnie Paz/7L & Esoteric
3. Global Warming - King Syze & Block McCloud/Pumpkinhead/Archrival
4. OE Pounder - King Syze & Des Devious
5. Roll Out The Red - King Syze
6. Spittin' Heavy - King Syze
7. Who Gonna Ride - King Syze & Rocky Reyes/Faez One
8. Truancy - King Syze
9. Da Storm - King Syze & Iron Kong/Des Devious
10. Band Of Brothers - King Syze & Crypt Of Outerspace
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12. Reign Of Tyrants - King Syze & Poynt Blanc
13. Day After Tomorrow - King Syze & Reef The Lost Cause/El Dorado
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Battle Axe Records News: Swollen Members - 'Black Magic' 2006 + Full Album MP3 Download @ Rapidshare

1. Intro -
2. Blackout -
3. Swamp Water feat. Phil The Agony, Planet Asia, DJ Revolution
4. Pressure -
5. Press Forward -
6. Grind feat. Moka Only -
7. Torture feat. Casual, DJ Revolution -
8. So Deadly feat. Evidence -
9. Weight feat. Ghostface Killah, Alchemist
10. Prisoner Of Doom -
11. Heart -
12. Too Hot feat. Babu
13. Dark Clouds feat. Evidence -
14. Ritual -
15. Massacre -
16. Go To Sleep feat. Barbie Hatch -
17. Sinister feat. Jacken -
18. Dynamite feat. Mr. Vegas -
19. Put Me On feat. Everlast, Moka Only -
20. Black Magic feat. DJ Swamp
21. Brothers

Swollen Members 'Black Magic' 2006 Full Album MP3 Download @ Rapidshare here

Over two years in the making, Black Magic sees Swollen Members returning to the dark signature sound they have become synonymous with since first busting out to become the best-selling hip hop group in Canadian history. Black Magic is a melting pot of introspective lyrics, bookworm intellectualism, aggressive beats and party-rocking jams, and features collaborations with Ghostface Killah (Wu-Tang Clan), Everlast, Dilated Peoples, Mr. Vegas, Hieroglyphics, The Alchemist, Mix Master Mike, Planet Asia, Phil Da Agony, and more, plus production by The Alchemist, Evidence, Kemo, Rob The Viking, & Squeak E. Clean (Yeah, Yeah Yeahs).

How to Beatbox // How to Be a Human Beatbox // Beatboxing Tips

Have you ever seen people like Rahzel or Matisyahu create beats using nothing but their own body as an instrument? Here's how you can do it, too.

1. Listen to some music by famous beatboxers such as Killa Kela, Rahzel, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Matisyahu, or even Bobby McFerrin (The artist of 'Don't Worry Be Happy.' He created the whole song using only his voice dubbed on different tracks to create many different 'instruments'). This will show you what is possible with the human body.
2. Develop a good bass drum sound. This is done by pressing your lips together and building up pressure with your tongue and jaw, pushing your tongue forward from the back of your mouth and closing your opened jaw at the same time. Let your lips part toward the side for just a moment so the air can escape, and it should make a bass drum sound. You want to add pressure with your lungs, but not so much that you have an airy sound afterward. If you're not making a bassy enough sound, you need to relax your lips a bit. If your sound isn't making a bass drum sound at all, you need to tighten your lips, or make sure that you're doing it off to the side of your lips. Another way to approach it is to say "puh." Then, take off the "uh" so that all you hear is the initial attack on the word, so that it comes out like a little puff. Try your hardest to not let any of the "uh" sound come out, and also try to not have any breathy sound or air noise with it. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can slightly tighten your lips and force a larger amount of air through your lips to make a bigger sounding kick drum.
3. Get a good snare drum sound. This is can be done several ways, but here are the two most common. The first is similar to the bass drum, only you use the very front of your lips instead of the side, and you tighten them more. Most beatboxers put an "f" or "sh" sound afterward to make it sound more like a snare drum. Another way to make a snare sound is to bring your tongue to the back of your mouth and build up pressure with your tongue or lungs. Use your tongue if you're looking for speed, or use your lungs if you want to breathe in at the same time as you make the sound. Try saying "pff," making the "f's" stop just a millisecond or so after the "p." Lifting the corners of your mouth and holding your lips really tight when making the intial "p" will help it sound more realistic. You can also use the same technique to change the apparent pitch of the snare.
4. For a more drum-machine type snare sound, first say "ish." Then, try saying "ish" without adding the "sh" at the end, again going only for the intial attack. Make it very staccato (short), and you should get a sort of grunt in the back of your throat. Push a little bit when you say it, so that it has a big, accented attack. Once you're confortable with that, add the "sh" on the end and you'll get a synth-like snare sound. You can also work on moving the grunt so that it feels like it's coming from the top of your throat, for a higher drum sound, or so that it feels more like it's coming out of the lower part of your throat, for a lower drum sound.
5. Develop your crash cymbal. This is one of the easier sounds to make. Whisper (don't say) the syllable "chish." Then, do it again, but this time clench your teeth and take the vowel out, going from "ch" straight to "sh" without little or no transition, and you'll have a basic crash cymbal.
6. To do a synth-like reversed cymbal, place the tip of your tongue so that it touches the place where your top teeth meet your palate. Keeping your lips about a half-inch apart, breath in forcefully through your mouth. Notice how the air blows past your teeth and tongue and makes a sort of small rushing sound. Then, breath in forcefully again, and this time close your lips as your breathing in; they should sort of feel like they're popping closed, without making a popping sound.
7. Make a good hi-hat sound. There are a few ways to go about this. First, you can make a "t" sound. You can push a little air behind it, making a "ts" sound. You can also do successive hi-hats by making a "tktktktk" sound, using the mid-back of your tongue to make the "k" sound. You can make an open hi-hat sound by drawing out the breath in the "ts" hi-hat, so it's more like "tssss".
8. Practice each sound individually until you can make a good sound consistently the first time.
9. Breathe. You would be surprised at the number of human beatboxes who pass out because they forget that their lungs need oxygen. You may want to start by incorporating your breath into the beat. Eventually you will gain a great deal of lung capacity throughout your practice. An intermediate technique is to breathe in during a tongue snare, since it requires the least amount of lung capacity. An expert will have slowly practiced breathing whilest beatboxing each sound independently (see previous step), thus separating their breathing from the beat, allowing several kinds of bass sounds, snare sounds, and even some hi-hat sounds to continue without pause. As an alternative to breating exercises, there are many sounds that can be done breathing inwards such as variations on the snare and handclap sounds.
10. Start a basic beat. A good beat to start out with is the basic beat below.
11. Start coming up with your own beats. Start out with the basic structure and build upon it, adding basses and hi-hats where you see fit. Most patterns have a snare on beats 2 and 4, but don't be afraid to fool around with the location of the second one. Don't be afraid to use odd sounding beats, as long as they flow.

Modified drum tab

The first line is for the snare sound. This can be a tongue snare, a lip snare, or any other snare. Next is the Hi-hat line, and the third is the Bass line. Another line can be added at the bottom for miscellaneous sounds, which should be defined below the tab and apply only to that pattern. Here's an example:

S ----K-------K-------K-------K---
H --T---T---T---T-----------------
B B-------B-------B-------B-------
V ------------------W---W---W---W-
W = Vocalized "What?"

Beats are separated by single lines, bars by double lines. Here's a key for the symbols:

JB= Bumskid bass drum B = Strong bass drum
b = Soft bass drum
X = Sweeping bass drum
U = Techno bass drum

K = Tongue snare (without lungs)
C = Tongue snare (with lungs)
P = Pff or lip snare
G = Techno snare

T = "Ts" snare
S = "Tssss" open snare
t = front part of successive hi-hats
k = back part of successive hi-hats

Kkkk = Click Roll

Basic Beat

This is the basic beat. All beginners should start here and work their way up.

S ----K-------K-------K-------K---
H --T---T---T---T---T---T---T---T-
B B-------B-------B-------B-------

Double Hi-hat

This one sounds cool and is a good exercise for speeding up your hi-hats without using the sucessive hi-hat sounds.

S ----K-------K-------K-------K---
H --TT--TT--TT--TT--TT--TT--TT--TT
B B-------B-------B-------B-------

Modified Double Hi-hat

This is a more advanced beat that should only be attempted if you can successfully do the Double Hi-hat pattern with perfect accuracy. It switches up the rythms in the Double Hi-hat pattern to make it more interesting.

S ----K-------K-------K-------K---
H --TT----TT----TT--TT----TT----TT
B B-----B---B-----B-----B---B--B--

Advanced Beat

This is a very advanced beat. Only try it if you've mastered the above patterns as well as the successive hi-hat(tktktk).
S ----K-------K-------K-------K---
H -tk--tk-tk-t-tkt-tk--tk-tkSS--tk
B B--b---B--B-----B--b---B--B-----

Techno Beat

S ----G-------G-------G-------G---
H --tk--tk--tk--tk--tk--tk--tk--tk
B U-------U-------U-------U-------

Advanced Techniques
Here's where you'll find out how to do some of the more interesting techniques. Don't worry if you aren't getting it at first, all of these techniques will come with time.

Sweeping bass drum (X) This should be used in place of a bass drum. It takes about 1/2-1 beat to perform. To do a sweeping bass drum, start out like you're about to do a bass drum. Then let your lips loose so they flap when you push air past them. Then touch the tip of your tongue to the inside gum of your bottom teeth and push it forward to perform the technique.

Techno Bass (U) This is done by making an "oof" sound, as if you've just been hit in the stomach. Do it while keeping your mouth closed. You should be able to feel it in your chest.

Techno Snare (G) This is done the same way as the Techno Bass, but position your mouth as if you were going to make a "shh" sound. You'll still get the bass sound underneath.

Scratching This is done by reversing the airflow of any of the previous techniques. A commonly misunderstood technique, scratching involves different tongue and lip movements depending on the instrument you are trying to "scratch" with. To understand better, record yourself laying down a beat. Then using a music program, like windows recorder, listen to it in reverse. Learning to emulate those reversed sounds literally doubles your known techniques. Also, try making the sound, and then its reverse immediately afterwards (Ex: A bass sound followed by its reverse in quick succession make the standard 'scratch' noise).

Jazz Brushes Lightly blow out through your mouth while trying to sustain the letter "f." By blowing slightly harder on the beats 2 and 4, you'll have the accents.

Rimshot Whisper the word "kaw," then say it again without letting any of the "aw" through. Push on the "k" a little harder and you'll get a rimshot. Closed Hi-Hat Whisper "tuh" and take out the "uh," leaving the initial attack to sound like a closed hi-hat.

Click Roll (Kkkk) This is a very difficult technique to perform at first, but once you know how, you can use it any time. To start, position your tongue so that the right (or left, depending on preference) side is resting right above where your top teeth meet your gum. Then pull the back of your tongue toward the back of your throat to do a click roll.

Humming the Baseline and beatboxing at the same time
This technique isn't as difficult as singing, but when you're just starting off, it is easy to get lost. To start, you must first realize that their are two ways to hum: one is from the throat (say "ahh") and the other is through the nose ("mmmmmm"), which is considerably harder to get used to but immeasurably more versatile. The key to humming and beatboxing at the same time is to start with a baseline or melody in mind. Listen to rap hooks, whether they be hummed or not (For example, listen to Parliament Funkadelic's "Flashlight" and practice humming the melody, then try beatboxing over top of it; James Brown is also great for melodies). Scour your music collection for baselines and melodies to hum, then try and put some of your beats or someone else's beats over top of it.It is necessary to learn how to hum a melody or baseline for several reasons, especially if you plan to learn to start singing. This is the area of beatboxing that takes some originality! If you've tried to beatbox and hum at the same time, you must have realized that you've lost of some of your proficiency with certain beat techniques (the Techno Bass and Techno Snare are severely limited, as well as the click roll becomes, if not totally unusable, very hard to hear). Learning what works takes time and practice. If you ever find yourself in a beatbox battle, don't forget that while your endurance and speed are important, using new and interesting melodies and baselines win always win the crowd.

Inward Humming
This is an advanced technique which is not widely used in the realm of beatboxing. There are several resources available on how to sing/hum inwards. For the purposes of beatboxing, when you need to breathe really bad, it may be a good idea to hum inwards. You can always continue humming the same melody, but the pitch (note) will change drastically. With practice, you can correct this pitch change to some extent, but many beatboxing experts who use inward humming decide to change the melody when switching from outward humming to inward humming.

Singing and beatboxing at the same time
This isnt a very hard technique,once you get to know the basic principles. The key to singing and beatboxing at the same time is to line up consonant sounds with the bass and vowel sounds with the snare. Don't try to add hi-hats in, as even the best beatboxers have trouble in that respect.Here is an example: (b)if your (pff)mother (b)(b)on(b)(pff)ly knew(b)new Here are some good combinations:

B as in bus
M as in mother
H as in home
L as in listen

I as in if
O as in only
N as in knew

Holding the Mic

While you can just hold the mic as you would while singing, some beatboxers find that putting the mic between your ring and middle fingers and then gripping it with your first two fingers on top of the bulb and you thumb at the bottom results in a cleaner, more crisp sound.

Practice wherever possible, whenever possible. Since you don't have to have anything but your body, you can practice at home, at work, at school, on the bus, just about anywhere is appropriate.
Always practice with a consistent tempo. This means that you should try to keep the same speed throughout a pattern.
Try to find other beatboxers and beatbox together. It's fun and you can learn things from your new friends.
Periodically take a drink of water to keep your mouth from drying out.
When you first start out, you'll probably feel a bit goofy. But if you stick with it, you'll find that you'll have lots of fun and make some awesome music at the same time.
Your mouth probably won't be used to the sudden new pressure you're putting on it. Your jaw may feel sore at first, and your lips my get the pins-and-needle feeling like sitting on your foot for too long. Try to limit yourself at first as the muscles in your face get used to being exercised like this. If you're feeling sore, stop for a while.


Metal faces, rap masks: identity and resistance in hip hop's persona artist

This paper studies two specific examples of the rap artist persona as resistance strategy, and builds upon several theories of hip-hop identity and resistance. Using Tricia Rose's concept of rap music as hidden transcript, and Russell A. Potter's idea of rap's postmodern play-as-resistance, I argue that certain hip-hop acts intentionally split or obscure their artist identities to subvert material conditions for the rap performer, and to negotiate their own position within the conflicting standards of authenticity and marketability put forth by the ghetto and recording industry.


Hip-hop authenticity is a commercial value that grew in importance as the music gained a substantial market share of commercial radio. By 1990, with MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice albums at number one on the Billboard pop charts, increased mainstream interest began to foster among hip-hop artists challenges to the authenticity or "realness" of acts making money from rap music and marketing their music to an ever-expanding audience. Scholars such as Tricia Rose, Christopher Holmes Smith, and Adam Krims have theorized the performance of authenticity as necessary to establishing credibility as an artist within hip hop, which values a discourse of lived experience, and has roots in oral traditions of testimony and bearing witness. A successful performance of hip-hop authenticity is one which positions the artist as experienced knower, as in Ice Cube's claim "I'm from the street, so I know what's up" on the NWA song "I Ain't Tha One." This focus on performed authenticity was complicated by the crossover of rap albums, such as MC Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em (1990), to the Billboard pop charts. Even such a dance/pop-oriented album as Hammer's, which spent twenty-one weeks at number one, included the track "Crime Story," which centered its subject matter on the artist's lived experience in the ghetto. And Vanilla Ice lost all credibility after The Dallas Morning News (Perkins) revealed several discrepancies between his label's official artist bio, which claimed Ice had grown up in a poor, urban neighborhood, and the artist's lived experience growing up in suburban Dallas.

A theory of hip hop's seemingly conflicting concerns of authenticity and marketability may work to reframe W. E. B. Du Bois' concept of double-consciousness in commercial terms as artists work to produce marketable music for mainstream listeners yet at the same time to maintain a necessary level of authenticity to a place of cultural origin. Paul Gilroy situates rap music as one of a series of modern black cultural forms that draw special power from "a doubleness" through artists' understanding of their practice as "autonomous domain," and of "their own position relative to the racial group and of the role of art in mediating individual creativity with social dynamics" (73). Smith, illustrating such doubleness for rap music, positions the ghetto as both crucial signifier of authenticity and a marketable aspect of self, arguing that the ghetto becomes "simultaneously commodity and safe-haven" as MCs market themselves through narratives of their place as other within mainstream commercial culture (348). In light of Smith's theory, Ice Cube's claim to be from the streets can work to authenticate his image and at the same time market it to an audience not from the streets. Krims argues that, for a rap act to achieve credibility and marketability, the performer must be symbolically collapsed onto the artist, so that, when O'Shea Jackson performs as Ice Cube, the experiences Ice Cube reports are accepted as Jackson's "speaking from authentic experience" (95).

A consistent performed identity here seems crucial to credibility, but Krims' theory of the collapsed identity ignores hip hop's persona artist. Like David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust or Garth Brooks performing as Chris Gaines, certain hip-hop acts perform a second artist persona. This phenomenon can take shape, through costumes, playfully evasive lyrics, and samples, as resistance to the material conditions of the musician. Rose and Russell A. Potter each explore the often subversive politics of hip hop as it grew from an oppressed culture, and cite forms of communal resistance through musical performance. Rose applies James Scott's investigation of power relationships through social transcripts to acknowledge rap music's "hidden transcript" of resistance, which plays a key discursive role, outside the music's direct critique of oppression in the public transcript, in engaging in "symbolic and ideological warfare with institutions and groups that symbolically, ideologically, and materially oppress African Americans" (100-01). Potter explores rap music as radical postmodernism, and he synthesizes Theresa L. Ebert's dichotomy of ludic and resistance postmodernism to argue that hip-hop culture often stages resistance through play itself. For Potter, rap music's resistance through play can become "the mask for a potent mode of subversion" (2).

I argue that such play can take the form of a mask itself, as rap artists obscure, confuse, or split their identities to subvert the often conflicting standards of authenticity and marketability. The persona artist constructs a second, distinct identity that goes beyond a change in name. Although a mainstream artist like Eminem may alternate names to form his trinity of Eminem, Slim Shady, and Marshall Mathers, none of these is an entirely separate persona as much as an aspect of the same MC. Nell Drumming discusses this distinction between naming and performing in persona, by which rap artists experience "much more dynamic character arcs" (1). In one example of such identity play, Greg Jacobs performs in the group Digital Underground both as Shock-G and MC Humpty Hump, distinct artists with individual personalities, vocal styles, and physical images, their identities distinguished Visually through Humpty's trademark mask. Jacobs preserves in Shock-G a traditional, "collapsed" identity, which is presented as authentic both to the performer's experience and to hip-hop culture, while at the same time he performs through Humpty Hump a comic-sexual persona which has proven appeal for the mainstream listener (see Diehl 125-27). Digital Underground uses the Humpty Hump persona to increase the group's commercial appeal and at the same time to criticize mainstream emphasis of image over rhyme skill, thereby aligning themselves with an "underground," "hardcore," or "real" hip-hop aesthetic even as they enjoy widespread commercial success.

Hip hop's ideology of authenticity extends from rock's in that, while rock's live performance works to authenticate the recording, as both Theodore Gracyk and Philip Auslander have argued, rap instead centers live performance as one of a set of cultural values by which the artist's authenticity is judged. As I will discuss in a later section, a live rap performance can often focus on creating musical content onstage through traditions of freestyle rhyming or the MC battle, rather than rock's focus on "re-creating" the music as it exists on record (Gracyk 77). In recorded rap lyrics themselves, power to speak is often negotiated through rhetorical claims to realness and through narrative evidence that those claims are rooted in lived experience. Simon Frith explains the popular music listener's judgement of authenticity as "a perceived quality of sincerity and commitment. It's as if people expect music to mean what it says" (71). Rap music is unique in the extent to which it makes overt claims to such sincerity and commitment in lyrics. Smith explores the use of the term "real" in rap lyrics, and I would add that this term often is extended to the qualities of sincerity within the artist or the recording itself in common lyrical claims to perform "real hip hop" (e.g. Defari) or to perform as a "real MC" (e.g. The Lootpack), or even to be a "real nigga" (e.g. NWA, Nas, Jay-Z, Nelly and the St. Lunatics). Even Eminem claims himself "the real Slim Shady". Hip hop's concepts of realness form a discursive spectrum founded upon standards of authenticity to narratives of hip hop's cultural origins within poor urban neighborhoods with predominantly black and Latino population. Today, more than twenty years after the advent of rap music, to maintain realness is, at one end of the discursive spectrum, to perform dedication to making music rather than making money and, at the other end, to perform an outlaw identity by which the act of selling music is framed as a criminal act well within the bounds of rap's ghetto origins. In this sense, rap artists often argue their realness or authenticity through their skill in performing live, through their skill in selling albums, or through some combination of the two.

Yet this ideology was not always in place, and is in fact rejected by today's underground hip hop, which draws strict lines between performance and commercialism. In that sense, Defari's claim to perform real hip hop excludes the commercial: "Don't mistake this for no pop rap, Pop/But that raw deal feel, that real hip hop" ("Focused Daily"). Standards of authenticity within rap music have often challenged commercial success, as artists and listeners maintain allegiance to a nostalgic authenticity of the culture's brief existence outside the recording industry, which S. H. Fernando Jr. contains to 1975-1979, the period of rap's existence as a distinct musical form before Sugarhill Gang released "Rapper's Delight", the music's first nationwide (and worldwide) radio single, in 1979. Fernando cites tension between the streets and the radio even with this, rap's first radio single, as the group was put together by a record label, and did not write their own lyrics, which is crucial to rap credibility. Grandmaster Caz of the pioneering rap group Cold Crush Brothers claims the group stole the "Rapper's Delight" lyrics from him, and he argues that Sugarhill "didn't really represent what MC-ing was or what rap and hip hop was" (Fernando 21). This notion that authentic hip hop exists in the streets mirrors the authenticating of recorded rock music through live performance that is discussed both in Auslander and Gracyk, but live vocal performance alone has never been enough to link a rap artist to street credibility.

Rap's ideology of authenticity centers also on audience. In 1988, gangsta rap group NWA warned of artists who "forget about the ghetto and rap for the pop charts", and expressed their own pride in being banned from several radio stations ("Express Yourself") even as their album Straight Outta Compton (1988) sold more than one million copies. The audience dichotomy emphasized in such lyrics maintains that an authentic rap artist must direct his or her performance to the ghetto listener rather than to the mainstream. Smith further illuminates the pressure on artists to remain authentic as he asserts:

rappers "keep it real" by foregrounding the duress within which they
wage their struggle for visibility within and against the terms set
by the incessant hails of the mainstream marketplace. In this
respect, a rapper's desire to "keep it real" implies a strategy of
engagement with American commercial culture in which they attempt to
become human valves that regulate the cultural flows streaming from
the ghetto to the outside world, and vice versa. (Smith 346)
While several artists (like NWA, Paris, or The Coup) have engaged in a more public transcript of resistance to commercial radio through their musical style, subject matter, and lyrical content, another hidden transcript of resistance through the identity play of persona may allow rap performers to challenge the dichotomy of authentic vs. marketable music. Auslander finds significant the fact that 1970s rock artists like David Bowie "were more concerned to create spectacular stage personae than images of authenticity" (89), but, while Bowie's "strategy of mutations," according to Auslander, may have foreseen the devaluation of rock authenticity (90), MC Humpty Hump and MF DOOM are personae that specifically critique the existing ideologies of authenticity and marketability within hip-hop music of their specific eras.

This article studies two specific examples of the persona artist as a strategy of Potter's ludic resistance, and extends Rose's work in studying rap music as hidden transcript. While a growing number of rap artists perform in persona (e.g. RZA as Bobby Digital, Kool Keith as Dr. Octagon), I will examine two specific artists, Digital Underground and MF DOOM who each have used identity play to obscure performer identity, and to form multiple artist personae that they, at least initially, do not connect. While RZA titled his 1998 album RZA as Bobby Digital, and has gone on to use the personae almost interchangeably on 2003's Birth of a Prince, Jacobs in Digital Underground maintains two distinct personae, still appearing on albums like Murs' End of the Beginning (2003), billed as both Shock-G and MC Humpty Hump. My second example, MF DOOM, has performed more of an identity shift from Zev Love X of the early 1990s group KMD to his current incarnation, DOOM. As MF DOOM, Daniel Dumile performs strictly in mask and refuses to be photographed out of his costume, thereby avoiding a physical connection to his earlier artist. By intentionally splitting and obscuring performer identities, Digital Underground and MF DOOM both sidestep Krims' concept of a necessary symbolic collapsing of the artist onto the performer. Through hidden transcripts of play as resistance, they subvert commercial presentation of the hip-hop artist and the standards by which his or her marketability and authenticity are judged.

Performing Persona: Shock G and MC Humpty Hump

Before rap music became assimilated with the corporate record industry and rap singles proved themselves more than a novelty on commercial radio as both their frequency of presence and their chart positions increased in 1990-1991, vocalists were judged more by their rhyme skill than by a sense of performed authenticity. MC battles, in which two vocalists challenge each other to rhyme over a DJ's live turntable routine, were won based on crowd reaction, and lyrics generally centered on the rhyme style and skill of the performers involved. In one famous example from 1981, Kool Moe Dee defeated Busy Bee with a direct reference to his overuse of his signature Diggy-Dang routine. Pioneering Top Forty rap act Run DMC's song "Sucker MCs" (1983) issues this challenge to the unskilled rap vocalist:

You can't rock a party with a hip and a hop
You gotta let em know you'll never stop
The rhymes have to make a lot of sense
You gotta know when to start when the beats come in
In the early 1990s, however, after both MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice spent several consecutive weeks at the number one position on the 1990 Billboard pop album charts, rap lyrics began to shift to a focus on authenticity as possibly more important than skill. Eazy-E attacked his former NWA bandmate, Dr. Dre, on his 1993 EP It's On (187um Killa), sampling a self-contradicting anti-marijuana lyric from one of Dre's past recordings. Eazy included in his CD liner notes a captioned photo of Dre in very non-gangsta attire from his 1980s performance with the dance group World Class Wreckin Cru, then completed his challenge to Dre's authenticity by calling Dre's new partner Snoop Dogg a "studio gangsta," borrowing a tactic from old country-western stars who often discredited each other as studio cowboys. None of Eazy's attacks address Dre's musical skill, but only his credibility as hip-hop performer. Eazy's implication that Dre follows trends is a serious charge as hip-hop culture struggles to maintain its identity in the face of commercialization.

Rap's mainstream marketability during 1990-1991 prompted a widespread lyrical shift from claims of performer skill to concerns of crossing over, selling out, and keeping it real. As rap music grew into a viable industry, MCs began to question which artists were in it for profit, especially when these artists came from areas outside the black neighborhoods where the culture originated, and even more so when these new artists were white. As streetwise performativity became the music's strongest selling point, artist Vanilla Ice's claims of ghetto credibility did not match the background of performer Robbie Van Winkle. Vanilla Ice's claim to authenticity was attacked as a marketing strategy, which cost him the respect of the majority of the hip-hop community, and ultimately cost him his mainstream marketability. Fellow white hip-hop artists 3rd Bass directly challenged Vanilla Ice's contribution to rap music in their single "Pop Goes the Weasel," taking the insult further by claiming to have followed Vanilla's "formula" to ensure their response song would be a hit even as it criticized his success (Diehl 125):

Hip hop
Got turned into hit pop
As soon as his album was number one on the pop chart. (3rd Bass)
The era of rap's initial incorporation into the recording industry has been a subject of interest for scholars like Smith, Murray Forman, Kembrew McLeod, and Greg Wahl, who traces rap's move into the mainstream through key groups like Run DMC, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys, who during 1983-1987 gave rap a consistent, if not overwhelming, presence on the pop charts and on MTV, and surpassed the commercial success of what Tom Terrell identifies as rap's "second wave" of talent in the years 1980-1983. Dipannita Basu and Pnina Werbner's study of ethnic entrepreneurship in the culture industries and Mark Anthony Neal's examination of black-owned popular music labels both recall David Hesmondhalgh's chronicle of indie rock as anti-corporate enterprise. Hesmondhalgh argues that "indie proclaimed itself to be superior to other genres not only because it was more relevant or authentic to the youth who produced and consumed it (which was what rock had claimed) but also because it was based on new relationships between creativity and commerce" (34). Ultimately the independent record labels of Hesmondhalgh's study have been annexed into the corporate music machine, but the buying of rap music occurred over a much shorter period of time. Rap was not as deliberately anti-corporate as indie, and Wahl cites "the constant tension between succeeding in a commercially driven art form and retaining the oppositionality that engendered the form's success in the first place" (109). Keith Negus examines a similar tension in his article "The Music Business and Rap: Between the Street and the Executive Suite", in which he articulates rap's "deliberate attempts to maintain a distance between the corporate world and the genre culture of rap" (1), an argument that is complicated by the music's recent focus on the figure of the rap CEO in releases like Jay-Z's The Black Album.

I will discuss in a later section the pride certain artists take in their very ability to sell rap music, a lyrical development which coincided with the commercial emergence of two artists, Wu-Tang Clan and Master P, each of whom prided themselves on the alternative marketing and distribution skills which had earned them reputations outside the corporate record industry. When Wu-Tang did sign with a major label, RCA, to release their 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), they negotiated an unprecedented contract which would allow each separate member of the group freedom to record albums as a solo artist with labels other than RCA. In 1994, Master P released his third album, The Ghetto's Tryin' to Kill Me!, on his own No Limit Records, initially eschewing major media outlets to sell the album from the trunk of his car, and ultimately signing a distribution deal with Priority Records. Such artists challenged industry structure, and, while ultimately both Wu-Tang and Master P have affiliated themselves with corporate record labels, each has carved out a space for more artist control over musical content and the terms of recording contracts.

While such industry developments have worked lyrically to extend claims of credibility to the act of self-marketing, or operating a successful, artist-owned record label, several rap songs also relate a mistrust of the record industry through stories of shady dealings with record executives, A&R staff, and concert promoters. This historical and ongoing tension creates an anxiety, or doubleness, for the rap performer, who must at the same time market himself and maintain ownership and control of his identity. A hip-hop persona may be composed in response to the notion of selling one's identity as artist, and may allow the artist behind the mask to perform as a more marketable alter ego while at the same time performing as Krims' collapsed performer-artist. The persona artist often is marked by a mask or costume that can obscure identity or distinguish between multiple characters. Digital Underground's Humpty Hump is identified by his trademark Groucho Marx-style novelty glasses with an oversized brown nose, yet his playful appearance and vocal style are counterbalanced within the group by the more serious Shock-G. Although Jacobs performs both characters, his identity as performer is collapsed only onto Shock-G, and is distanced from the Humpty Hump persona. He can preserve a level of authenticity in Shock-G while selling records to the mainstream listener through Humpty's "broad, bug-eyed humor," which Diehl cites as a selling feature of pop rap in the early 1990s (125).

Digital Underground reached number eleven on the Billboard pop charts with their 1990 single "The Humpty Dance," a song that showcased Humpty as the sole MC. The track was the second single from Sex Packets, one of only three of 14 tracks to feature Humpty, and the only song to showcase his vocals exclusively. The song's video depicts a live Digital Underground performance in which Humpty takes center stage, in full costume, while Shock-G and the several other members of the group take the position of backup singers. Subsequent DU singles have been very Humpty-centered as well ("No Nose Job," "The Return of the Crazy One"). "The Humpty Dance" pushed Sex Packets to sell platinum, but Shock-G's use of persona goes beyond sales gimmick. Interestingly, Jacobs often uses his Humpty persona to speak against the importance of physical image for the popular hip-hop artist. "The Humpty Dance" begins with a rhyme in opposition to a uniform, stylized appearance for top forty rappers: "All right, stop what you're doin, cause I'm about to ruin, the image and the style that you're used to. I look funny, but yo I'm makin money, see?"

Potter views hip hop as a "collective work" comprised of several characters rather than attributed to a single author. For Potter, the costume is central to hip hop's ludic resistance, and performers stage characters through their fashion, just as gold chains, untied Adidas sneakers, black leather jackets and fedoras mark Run DMC. Through performed characters, hip hop "stages the difference of blackness, and its staging is both the Signifyin(g) of its constructedness and the site of its production of the authentic" (121-22). This analogy, while compelling, fails in that rap musicians perform characters very differently than do dramatic actors. Namely, these musicians cannot step out of character without risking a central element of their credibility. But, as MCs split their identities to perform in persona, Potter's idea of staged blackness becomes more relevant. The costume then goes beyond identification of character to take on an additional role as disguise. Digital Underground videos often show Humpty and Shock-G performing side by side, which further confounds the identity of the two MCs, and an Ernie Paniccioli photograph features Humpty and Shock-G standing together, presumably through use of a body double who wears Humpty's very identifiable costume. Humpty Hump's nose and glasses also play a crucial role in Digital Underground's live show, as Shock-G sneaks off stage to change into his Humpty costume, which can also include a feathered headdress and leopard-print mini-skirt. As Humpty stages his difference, his oversized nose does "look funny", but at the same time is a tactic of resistance to the commodification of black bodies in music videos. [1]

In "No Nose Job," Humpty argues against plastic surgery at both a literal and figurative level as he struggles to maintain black features of his identity in the face of mainstream success. The 1991 single, from DU's second album Sons of the P, opens with a verse from Money B, who recalls Humpty's success with "The Humpty Dance":

People say, yo Humpty now that your records is sellin
Ain't it about time for you to be bailin
Out of the race and community you come from
Yo, your face has gotta change, Hump!
Ice Cube says you're making more than Donald Trump
So yo, go on and get your nose fixed, Hump
The dilemma presented in this verse speaks for a wider crisis for the hip-hop artist: does acceptance by mainstream culture mean the hip hop artist should embrace the dominant culture entirely, reconcile his identity by stepping across the boundary of blackness? To do so would be to ensure commercial success at the cost of losing credibility in his culture of origin, but, through the Humpty Hump persona, Digital Underground is able to straddle this boundary, to participate in and profit from mass commercialization of hip hop even as they make their listener more critically aware of its dangers.

"I Only Play the Games that I Win At": MF DOOM's Ludic Resistance through Persona

The mind teases. Reality, cracked to pieces
Nothin' eases, bein' chastised with blood baptized
Guys revise, acknowledge past lives (Tick, Tick)
The Humpty Hump persona was an early strategy of ludic resistance to hip hop's emerging struggle with market forces that would intensify as gangsta became both villain and selling point for rap music in the mainstream. Amy Binder examines contradictory reactions to explicit content in the music of black rap groups versus white heavy metal groups on the part of moral watchdog organizations like the Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC) in the 1990s, yet Potter cites cases in which "negative publicity added measurable market value" (112). The 1992 controversy that arose in response to the violent, anti-establishment lyrics of Body Count's "Cop Killer" and Paris' "Bush Killa" and "Coffee, Donuts, and Death" increased sales for certain groups, while posing to others what Potter acknowledges as a "material threat" (113). In one important case, the group KMD lost their recording contract because of political messages in cover art for their second album, Black Bastards. Backing away from potential controversy, the Elektra label pulled KMD's single "What a Niggy Know" and refused to release Black Bastards because of cover art, drawn by Dumile, which depicted a cartoon blackface performer in a hangman's noose. According to Dante Ross, Artist and Repertoire Vice President at Elektra, the artwork "represented the hanging of stereotypes. It was a parody of the game hangman--you get it wrong enough times and you die" (qtd in Lichtman).

Through the very outright resistance of their album cover, KMD urged listeners to kill the stereotype, to do away with this white representation of the black man, a message that became even more powerful in a moment in which hip hop was experiencing an unprecedented level of commercialization as it embraced, through gangsta, the very stereotype of black male violence and misogyny. Elektra's refusal to release the album remains one of the more telling examples of major label treatment of rap artists. Though not one copy was officially sold, [2] Black Bastards became an underground classic via bootlegs of early promotional copies. After the loss of his record contract and the death of his bandmate and brother D] Subroc, KMD vocalist Zev Love X dropped out of sight. Seven years later, as a musician whose once-mainstream career had moved not only underground, but away from the music industry altogether, Zev Love X had a unique opportunity to reinvent himself and reemerge as a new persona, MF DOOM.

MF DOOM recorded his return to hip hop on the tiny and now-defunct Fondle Em label, in conjunction with his own Metal Face Records. DOOM produced his album single-handedly, creating the beats in his home studio and writing lyrics that interact with samples to tell the story of an artist injured by commercial forces, now back in mask to seek revenge on the record industry. Brian Goedde reads Operation Doomsday as an "album of continuous meaning." Lyrical narration is interwoven with samples from two specific sources: Fantastic Four cartoons featuring Dr Victor Von Doom as sympathetic villain, and the hip-hop film Wild Style (1982), in which graffiti artist Lee Quinones struggles to keep his art pure in the face of commercial forces. So hero and anti-hero are juxtaposed with Dumile's own history as a musician to situate MF DOOM as both rap's savior and destroyer.

Unlike Humpty Hump, MF DOOM is in some sense a borrowed persona. Greg Dimitriadus has studied performance in hip-hop culture through its connection to popular texts such as mobster movies, comic books, and martial arts films. Smith calls this "a hybrid narration based on mimicry," and applies, through Michel de Certeau, the Greek concept metis to such narrative strategies (358). For Smith, borrowed narratives of the Italian mafia appreciate the gangster as pinnacle of American consumerism whose wealth was identity built outside the lines of this very society, much as the successful commercial rapper may build his career from narratives of ghetto poverty. The figure of the comic book superhero or super-villain may hold a similar connection to the MC, and the persona artist in particular. Recalling Du Bois and Frantz Fanon, Marc Singer theorizes that "[t]he idea of the split identity, one of the most definitive and distinctive traits of the superhero, is also one of the most powerful and omnipresent figures used to illustrate the dilemmas and experiences of minority identity" (113). Singer's study of race in comic books develops the concept of the "costumed identity," in which superheroes (and super-villains) experience "a noticeable and visually characterized division between their private selves and their public, costumed identities" (113). Singer claims that superhero identities, while not necessarily always secret, must be by nature split in that they cannot reconcile the fantastic with the everyday. Such reasoning for split identity of the comic book character contrasts with Krims' idea of a necessary identity collapsing of the hip-hop performer and artist, who must present the everyday as fantastic.

MF DOOM's identity construction employs bricolage to connect his own artistic trajectory thematically to figures from popular culture. He borrows both a revenge narrative and disguise from Marvel Comics' Dr. Doom. Marvel's Doom puts on a metal mask after his face is injured in a scientific experiment. MF DOOM samples Dr. Doom's dialogue from an episode of Fantastic Four in which his experiment goes wrong. "What have I done to myself? My face is ... hideous.... Now I must hide my face from all mankind." Dr. Doom's experiment blew up in his face, and MF DOOM draws a parallel to Elektra's reaction to KMD's pushing industry boundaries with Black Bastards. Dumile's visage as the artist Zev Love X is irreversibly connected to this experiment, and to his status as industry outcast. His metal mask hides a figurative injury and allows him to stage his comeback as a new artist anonymously. "Hey," DOOM's first single, was released to New York hip-hop stations as a debut single from a new artist, and was promoted with no connection to KMD. Further obscuring the link between his past and present artist identities, MF DOOM never performs live or appears in photographs or videos without wearing his mask. Although DOOM's vocal style and production sound nothing like his earlier incarnation, without the mask he could not have avoided critical comparison, and could not have as successfully negotiated his return to the world of hip hop.

MF DOOM's first album Operation Doomsday is a multi-tiered autobiography composed through persona, samples, and lyrics. At the level of samples, the performer's own musical career, aesthetic, and agenda are chronicled in Von Doom's dialogue from Fantastic Four and Quinones' narration from Wild Style. The two alternate throughout the five skits (three from Dr. Von Doom, two from Quinones) and build up to the track "Hero vs. Villain," labeled in the track listing as an epilogue, adding narrative terminology to the album's continuous narrative structure. "Hero vs. Villain" connects two narrative strands by interspersing dialogue from a seemingly victorious Fantastic Four, who have stopped Doom's attempt at world domination, with Wild Style dialogue in which Quinones argues against media exposure for his graffiti. "Yo, I'm not gonna finish my piece, man, not with this lady around. I don't want no fucking picture taken of my shit." Spoken narration from E. Mason reinforces this connection with a challenge to cultural definitions of hero and villain. Mason's spoken verse adds a third narrative voice to the album's already complex lyrical storytelling. At the lyrical level, MF DOOM plays with narrative perspective. Hip hop's standard self-referential lyrics here are delivered in both first and third person ("He cleans his metal mask with gasoline"). DOOM's lyrics are playfully evasive, and he challenges the listener to follow the narrative strand. In another third-person sequence DOOM says of himself, "He's like a ventriloquist with his fist in the speaker's back," and track 10 is especially revealing in its chorus of "Who you think I am? Who you want me to be?"

On "Doomsday," DOOM rhymes that he "came to destroy rap," and in the following verse identifies the contradictions of his character: "Definition supervillian, a killer who loves children, one who is well-skilled in destruction as well as building." DOOM has resurfaced to take revenge on the industry that injured him, that forced him to wear his mask. His grudge is with not only the record industry, but with artists and producers he feels are controlled by this industry, who are doing exactly what record companies want. KMD lost their contract for pushing the political envelope in their music. Now in this verse from "Hey!" MF DOOM calls out more complacent and derivative artists as trained monkeys to the record executive's ferret, specifically attacking pop rap's watered-down lyrics and use of existing hit music intact rather than the cut-and-paste mixes so important to hip hop:

I heard beats,
That sound like karaoke
With monkey rhymers on a lease
Like "Don't have this ferret choke me"
DOOM's disgust with commercial rappers is further evident in other tracks, such as "Rhymes Like Dimes" ("A lot of em sound like they're in a talent show"), and is representative of contemporary underground hip hop's mistrust of the record industry. Underground MCs often lyrically dissociate themselves from mainstream rap music, and claim to be not only more authentic, but more lyrically skilled than the mainstream artists they often attack for rhyming about expensive cars and clothes (cf. Common, Sage Francis). MF DOOM's perspective as a corporate label's outcast fosters a level of authenticity to less commercial-minded hip-hop culture, and his identity play proves an effective strategy of resistance to corporate music in this new stage of his career.

Conclusion: "I Sell Rhymes Like Dimes"

In the public transcript, the political performance of rap music is often seen as a strategy of marketing and promotion, rather than as one of resistance. Several scholars have examined rap's selling in the corporate marketplace as a central dilemma of the discourse between hip hop and capitalist society at large. Rose states, "Commercial marketing of rap music represents a complex and contradictory aspect of the nature of popular expression in a corporation-dominated information society" (17), yet she and Forman disagree on issues of corporate appropriation and exploitation in the development of rap music into a viable industry. Forman complicates the relationship between hip hop and the market as he challenges Rose's idea of an appropriative, profit-driven media industry rushing to cash in. While he agrees rap music has been exploited by corporate music, Forman at the same time attributes rap's expansion into an industry to "entrepreneurs ... participants and fans" from within hip hop culture itself (107).

In rap performance, the artist himself often takes on the role of entrepreneur. Rap music indeed is sold, and the process of selling records is acknowledged more directly within rap performance than in perhaps any other form of music. Through lyrical references to recording contracts, album advances, and royalties, rap artists foreground their material conditions, often as a form of resistance. Tribe Called Quest's "Show Business" takes the form of a warning to aspiring MCs not to be exploited by industry practices. 3rd Bass's "The Gas Face" follows a rap group into the industry as a record executive tells them "Sign your life on the X. Trust me," and the Beastie Boys assure the listener "If you don't buy my album I got my advance" ("Brass Monkey"). Through a similar approach, MF DOOM's "Rhymes Like Dimes" fits into a larger history of rap songs which share a metaphor of rap music as drug. In likening the selling of his art to the selling of dime bags (a $10 amount) of marijuana, MF DOOM turns a critical eye toward the act of marketing his music, which hip hop historically has positioned as a positive, life-affirming alternative to the drug trade. Such a metaphor is articulated in several songs, such as Ice-T's "I'm Your Pusher" and the Lost Boyz' "Music Makes Me High" and "Legal Drug Money," in which Mr. Cheeks describes his group as "legal drug thugs" selling the most addictive drug in the world, music. In these songs, selling music equals overcoming the drug trade, which a larger rap narrative tells us is the most immediately viable option for ghetto survival. Rap artists, however, traffic in the ghetto itself, as they must sell as part of their images the same material conditions that have placed them outside the mainstream. DOOM puts it this way:

Only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck
And still keep your attitude on self-destruct

While still rooted in this entrepreneurial artistic tradition, rap performers through persona can step outside the marketing of a performed authentic self to traffic not in the reality of the ghetto, but in fantasy via MF DOOM's artist as comic book villain or the various sci-fi identities assumed by persona artists like Dr. Octagon, Bobby Digital, or Deltron 3030. As hidden transcript, the fantasy of persona constructs a valuable commentary on hip-hop reality. The persona artist is uniquely positioned to subvert the cultural and commercial gaze by which the rap performer is judged. Jacobs constructs a Humpty Hump persona through which he can at the same time increase Digital Underground's commercial appeal and critique hip hop's concern with image. Dumile uses his MF DOOM persona to critique the industry that wronged him in an earlier stage of his career when he performed as a different artist. These personae, as they split the performer's identity, can at the same time work to strengthen and preserve the rap self that is strained by the differing criteria of the music business and a culture that grew out of the streets.

Potter constructs rap music as a counter-capitalist, rather than anti-capitalist, enterprise. He asserts that "hip hop is not merely a critique of capitalism, it is a counter-formation that takes up capitalism's gaps and contradictions and creates a whole new mode, a whole new economics" (111). Perhaps what rap has accomplished specifically is to create spaces of increased artist control that exist within the corporate industry. The persona artists discussed in this article strategize their position in relation to this industry (even if now from outside it, like MF DOOM), and, as Gilroy suggests, their lyrics and identity play reflect a sense of cultural ownership and at the same an understanding of their music as commodity. It is precisely through their construction of multiple artist identities that they position themselves to critique such contradictions, and the playful nature of their critique allows them also to benefit as artist-entrepreneurs from the contradictory economics of hip hop as business.


[1] The same issue is addressed in 3rd Bass's "The Gas Face" and The Pharcyde's "It's Jiggaboo Time." Maria L. Shelton explores music video representation of the African-American female body, yet these artists, along with Digital Underground, show that concerns with black body image in video extend to the male performer as well.

[2] Until 2001, when MF DOOM's own Metal Face Records released Black Bastards.

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