In honor of the legacy of San Francisco rap legend Cougnut and just in time for tonight's (Sept 13, 2014) heartfelt 13th anniversary memorial concert at Brick & Mortar Music Hall - with Baldhead Rick, Shag Nasty, TC, Equipto, Michael Marshall, Cellski, Black C, and more - today I uncovered a radio interview I conducted with the late, great SF rapper 19 years ago. It aired back on November 18, 1995 on several pirate stations I was on when the beloved hip-hop artist, who died on September 4, 2001 in a car crash while returning from a fishing trip, was readying for the then-upcoming release of I.M.P.'s Ill Mannered Playas, which would be released in early 1996 on In-A-Minute Records.
In the interview, Cougnut talks about such things as the production and guests on the 13 track album focusing on tracks such as "Shinin' Star" (one of a few he personally produced on that LP) and the ever-engaging album track "Public Execution," which he relayed was the "story of when I was locked down and my celly who is never getting out....He's on life with no parole....on death row in San Quentin" and the life story that person shared with Cougnut while they were incarcerated together. He also talks about UNLV who contribute to several of the album's tracks including "The Bay Way," the song that Cougnut stressed that he really wanted people to listen to out of all the ones featuring UNLV on that 1996 I.M.P. album. Coincidentally, UNLV's Baldhead Rick is the person presenting tonight's highly recommended show at Brick & Mortar at 1710 Mission Street in San Francisco. Saturday, September 13th. 9pm show. 18+ $10 More info.
2014 DMC US Champions Top 5 (Showcase style: six minutes each DJ)
1st: DJ I-Dee (Fairfax VA)
2nd: DJ Dwells (NYC)
3rd: DJ Ease (Rochester NY)
(aka International Ease)
4th: DJ Esquire (Brooklyn NY)
5th: Ichy the Killer (San Jose CA)
DJs I-Dee and Dwells - the winner and runner-up respectively in this year's heated 2014 DMC US Finals DJ battle presented by Rane, that took place Saturday night at Webster Hall in New York City - are both examples that battle DJing is something that many get into at an increasingly younger age. They're also proof that the DMC is indeed as it claims to be the "most prestigious" and important competition for DJs out of the many other battles over the years - since it's the DMC that these two (like most DJs) strive towards winning, and that each have meticulously studied videos of past DMC competitions for inspiration in bettering their skills in preparing for battle. "When I first started DJing seventeen years ago, when I was ten, I picked up a whole bunch of DMC tapes," said the new US DMC battle champ DJ I-Dee in his acceptance speech for the title that will take him to the UK in October for the 2014 DMC World Championships. "My goal was accomplished ten years ago when I made the [DMC] US Finals. And everything after that has been a complete bonus," added the Fairfax VA DJ [seen in above pic c/o Arvee Eco Photography who supplied most of the photos for this review - others c/o Christie Z-Pabon of DMC/Tools of War].
Dilated Peoples "Good As Gone" (2014)
1) Dilated Peoples Director of Photography (Rhymesayers Ent) (also on clear vinyl LP format)
2) Kendrick Lamar Good kid, m.A.A.d city [Deluxe Edition] (Aftermath)
3) Quasimoto "Planned Attack" / Talkin' Shit" [Picture Disc] (7") (Stones Throw)
4) Freddie Gibbs Pinata (Madlib Invazion)
5) J-Dilla Donuts (45 box set) (Stones Throw)
At the Los Angeles Amoeba Music store this week the number one album in the latest hip-hop chart is the brand new, anticipated album from hometown heroes Dilated Peoples who return after eight long years (but don't call it a comeback!) with an incredible album. Director of Photography on Rhymesayers Entertainment, that was also pressed up on clear vinyl LP format, is a wonderfully executed work that's all tied together with the theme of photography (see the video clip below - one in a series that the group explain the meaning behind this theme). With lots of references to hip-hop and to their hometown Directors is intricately produced with layered seductive bass-lines, bone tingling beats, and engaging rhyme flows that find Evidence and company at their finest. Well worth the wait. See video above for “Good as Gone” and check out such tracks as “Show Me the Way” featuring on the chorus Aloe Blacc. Writes the Amoeba.com reviewer: "Though it’s plenty rooted in classic hip-hop, Directors of Photography mostly avoids feeling dated with some of its more adventurous tracks. Record pops, lo-fi mics and a dark guitar lick give “Let Your Thoughts Fly Away” a terrific modern underground feel, its wicked bass comes through partway in to keep it engaging amid lyrics about “dreaming even though we’re wide awake.” And “Opinions May Vary” featuring great young hip-hop duo Gangrene is head-spinning in the best way, like riding out a bad trip and just going with it. Ditto the rest of Directors of Photography, a heavy dose of chemically altered yet classically minded hip-hop."
Both rappers had drawn inspiration for their names from the 1975 movie Let's Do It Again and its character Biggie Smalls that was played by Calvin Lockhart. So by the time the Biggie born Christopher Wallace arrived on the rap map the other Biggy Smallz was already out there releasing hip-hop singles including 1993's "Cruisin" which, like 1994's "Nobody Rides For Free," was also produced by Johnny "J" who was also producing for 2Pac - an affiliation that he is best known for. Reportedly it was Tupac Shakur who asked Christopher Wallace to change his name from Biggie Smalls to avoid confusion with his Thug Life buddy Biggy. Hence Christopher Wallace officially became The Notorious B.I.G. before releasing his major label debut. Although since some have suggested that it was not Pac's request for the name change but rather fear of legal copyright infringement from the producers of the Let's Do It Again movie that was the real reason for Wallace changing his name.
Gang Starr "Just To Get A Rep" from the album Step Into The Arena (1991)
"Mad brothers know his name" are just a few of the well known (and oft quoted or sampled) Gang Starr lyrics rapped by the late great emcee of the legendary hip-hop duo GURU (Gifts Unlimited Rhymes Universal) over DJ Premier's killer track on "Just To Get A Rep." The song was released in February 1991 by Chrysalis/EMI as the lead single (with "Who's Gonna Take The Weight" on the filp side of the 12" single) from the duo's hip-hop classic full-length Step In The Arena that was released a few weeks earlier. Like that album the single "Just To Get A Rep" remains a hip-hop classic. And now 23 full years later it is even clearer what an important role this particular song plays in its part of hip-hop's legacy, with each phrase and rhyme from the song known by heart by every true hip-hop fan and DJs/producers who like to take snippets of it and throw it in the mix. See full song lyrics listed below along with the videos for the other Step In The Arena album tracks as the mellow, chilled out "Lovesick" whose numerous samples include Digital Underground's best known song "The Humpty Dance," the heavily politicized "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?" (my personal fave album track with "Check The Technique" in close second), and the title track itself from the album Step In The Arena that while it was technically the group's second album it was their main introduction to most hip-hop audiences at the time.