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gifted unlimited rhymes universal

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We lost one of the greats on April 19th.  Guru had a voice like an oak barrel of Bushmill's lined with fine grade sandpaper.  He wasn't bling, or gangsta, or mystical or polemical.  He just dropped gems on our melons.  He was a solid MC, and one of the best. He had a flow that (after the first few joints) became almost metronomic on the beat, but the lyrics were so dense and well-planned--the def(t) rhyme schemes, the hanging and internal rhymes--that combined with that voice made him a great MC. He also was a great storyteller, not something many MCs can do, and it's too bad he didn't do more of it.

Musicians' deaths always seem tragic, especially when they're young, but even when they haven't put out anything good for a while--because although they only cut the record once, every time we play it it's new again; every time we play it, we're back to the first time we listened to it.  Music defeats time in a way other art does not.  And because music is timeless and eternal, we infer immortality for musicians.

The Japanese regarded the Emperor as part of the godhead until after World War II, when MacArthur forced Hirohito to publicly abdicate his holy status.  A line from a Yukio Mishima poem about this goes: How can the Emperor now simply be a man? So how can Guru be dead?  Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is.

The story of hip-hop is the story of men becoming gods on the mic and the tables, gods becoming men, and sometimes dying. It's on some Greek tragedy shit. Mishima's suicide note, in its entirety, reads: Human life is limited, but I would like to live forever. Keith Elam is dead, but Guru lives forever.  Step In The Arena and Hard To Earn will live forever, as long as we keep listening.

It seems pretty stupid to cut a Guru mix when Premier and so many other world-class DJs have dropped theirs, but I had to do it.  It's part of the hip-hop grieving process for those who don't feel like wearing R.I.P. t-shirts.

The Planet / The Place Where We Dwell / 2 Deep / Soul / Check The Technique / Battle / Not Tryin' to Hear That (w/Prince Paul & Planet Asia) / Fed Up (Remix) (w/House of Pain) / DWYCK (Spinbad Blend) / Words I Manifest (Jazzy Jeff Mix) / Loungin' (w/Donald Byrd) / The Piece Maker (w/Tony Touch) / Where's Our Money?! (w/Biggest Gord) / What You Expected (Original) (w/DJ Honda) / Floor Chalk (Best Reprise) (w/Blue Sky Black Death & Chief Kamachi) / Tony Touch Freestyle / Behold (w/J-Love & Ric Nice) / The Meaning Of The Name / Looking Through Darkness (w/True Master) / Above The Clouds (w/Inspectah Deck) / Moment Of Truth / Mostly Tha Voice

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More tributes:

DJ Premier

DJ Premier Live from HeadQCourterz [via T.R.O.Y.]

Conspiracy Worldwide Radio

DDay One

Mister Cee

Tony Touch

Statik Selektah [via HHB]

DJ Critical Hype: The Art of Guru Blends

Original Underground Hip Hop

Hip Hop Is Read: #1, #2

Cold Rock The Spot

johnny cash rules everything around me

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Happy birthday, Johnny Cash.

Ring Of Fire - Z-Trip Remix / Folsom Prison Blues - Everlast / Walk The Line (Remix) - Snoop Dogg*

*(So bad it's good or just bad?  Can't decide.  Also can't think of a more mismatched pairing.  Dolly Parton & Method Man?  Nam June Paik & Eminem?  I mean, even the Immanuel Kant vs. Dr Dre mashup I did one time made more sense than The Man In Black vs. The Doggfather.)

Anyway, nobody hates on Johnny Cash.  He's just too cool.

doom :: live from latveria?!

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Run-DMC had the hats.  Flavor Flav had the clock.  Kool Moe Dee had those stupid wraparound sunglasses.  The Fat Boys had their, uh, fat...ness.

DOOM has the mask.  It's iconic; maybe the most iconic piece of hip-hop regalia.  It's like Van Gogh's ear--it defines him, has only a little to do with his work, obscures the work, and everyone reads a lot into it.  But it's that killer symbol everyone knows.  I bet you right this minute at a university somewhere, someone is typing a paper about how Doom's mask subverts and reclaims minstrelsy (c.f. the Black Bastards cover; sending out impersonators is just like something Al Jolson did or some shit; and "From their point of the view, we‘re the villains. But I‘m the Super-Villain. All caps." see, he's commenting on the demonization of the Black male and blah blah blah...).

I've wondered why Doom overtook Kool Keith a few years ago...every time Doom puts out another re-tread/remix EP/re-release/40-minute-album-where-he's-only-on-a-couple-of-songs everyone falls all over themselves.  Kool Keith?  Put out 3 records last year too.  Didn't see that on everyone's blog or in the goddamn New Yorker.

See, Van Gogh and Gauguin ran tight like that.  Then Van Gogh cuts his ear off and Gauguin bops off to Tahiti and paints a bunch of naked native chicks.  And who's got a whole museum in Amsterdam?  It ain't the guy who painted the equivalent of Sex Style and Bikinis N Thongs.

Granted, Doom is better at making and picking beats than Kool Keith.  He has one of the best flows in all hip-hop.  He's got that Biggie's-wino-uncle voice.  Lyrically though, it's all beautifully internally rhymed total fucking nonsense.  Yeah, I said it.  Listen to this reverent spoken-word rendition and tell me otherwise.  His songs rarely have a subject; they're just clever lines strung together (even in his rhyme books, according to the goddamn New Yorker.)  Could be reading out his shopping list: Minute Maid for the meter maid, she likes that lemonade, sour, bag up the all-purpose flour; zucchini, macaroni, pass that Rice-A-Roni. (This is also true for Zack De La Rocha: EGGS! AND! DON'T FORGET! THE! ENGLISH! MUUUUUUUUUUFFINS!)

Look, Ghostface and K-The-I???, to name two, also spit straight up don't-know-what-he-said-book, but you always feel there's meaning behind it.  With Doom, he just spits.  But as Noz pointed out, hop-hop was built on incomprehensible gibberish.  Fine.  He's the Black John Ashbery.  It's free association.  It's word salad.  All caps and all tangents.  But there's too much talent there--he could do rap's Finnegan's Wake if he wanted to.  If hip-hop is Black America's CNN (© Chuck D)--and these days more like QVC--Doom is, obviously, Adult Swim cartoons.  All good I guess, but I guarantee that schtick is gonna get old...

So I say, Doom: take off the mask.  Give it to us from the heart. Peep it:

Q: Has anything ever come close to equaling how you felt when Scott LaRock died, and then Subroc died?

Doom: Everything else is grey.

Q: Why don‘t you just put out an album that says, Shit is fucked up for twenty-something people of color? Why go through the mask and the characters and outer space?

Doom: Can‘t say it like that. Out here it‘s been so desensitized, that‘s not going to... everybody just turns their back on that shit. I had to figure out a way to get the point across, still make it interesting without making it corny, or making it seem like a race thing.

Oh.  Right.  Which explains the three-headed outerspace monster Ghidra thing.  You might wanna work on that, Doomy.

Whatever.  Don't overthink it, let the fat guy with the mask do his thing.  The flow is too sick to hate on.

So here we gots some remixes, official and unofficial, released and unreleased.  Big ups to PSY/OPSogist for hooking me up some new ones; props to the Sleepy 5 Orchestra and sorry I couldn't jam your Hoe Cakes in there.

Who Is DOOM?! / It Ain't Nuttin' (The Dirty Sample Mix) / Monday Night At Fluid / All Outta Ale (Blockhead Mix) / Change The Beat (DJ Phonetic Mos Def Mix) / My Favorite Ladies (Inhumanz & Latina Mixes) / Ghostwhirl/Rock Co Kane Flow (PSY/OPSogist Mix) / Rhinestone Cowboy (Doom & Four Tet Mix) / Vomitspit (Problem Child Mix) / Melody (PSY/OPSogist Mix) / Distant Star - Heliocentrics (feat. Doom) / Strange Ways (Koushik Mix) / Melody (Komsik Ridiculoid Mix) / Gazzillion Ear (Dr. Who Dat? Mix) / Air (Black Cat The Mouse Trainer Mix) / Impending Doom (Clutchy Hopkins Mix) / Rock Co Kane Flow (Tom Caruana Mix) / Melody (Black Cat The Mouse Trainer Mix) / Change The Beat (Q-Fish Mix) / Air (Clutchy Hopkins Mix) / Blacklist - Prefuse 73 (feat. Doom) / Experience Accordion - Daedelus & Madvillain  / Great Day (Four Tet Mix) / My Favorite Ladies (Zhierut Mix) / Hip Hop (DJ Phonetic Mos Def Mix) / I Hear Voices (Live) / Is This The End Of DOOM?!

rakim : the one true god

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Ten years in the waiting, The Seventh Seal has dropped...

...and goddamn, that is one bad record.  Really awful.  I guess every single top-shelf producer and same-weight-class-MC was in Barbados or Minnetonka that week, so he had to settle for a bunch of cats he found at the bus station or some shit.  It's like Marlon Brando making his big return to acting by guest starring on Everybody Loves Raymond.

So instead, just get yourself 'Holy Are You', cool out to some more unreleased cuts and remixes, and let us never speak of it again.

Eric B. For President (DJ Showtime Remix) / Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em (DJ Ayres Remix) / Hypnotic / Addictive (Remix) - w/Truth Hurts / Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em (Omega One Remix) / Take the Train / New York London Paris - w/Art of Noise & Spleen / Buffalo Gals (Back To Skool) / Once Upon A Time in Japan (Remix) / Shades of Black / Living For The City (Remix) / Cold Feeling / Man With A Gun / We All Got Plans (Original Mix) / I Know You Got Soul (Z-Trip Remix) / The Saga Begins (Desert Eagle Discs-You Scare Me Remix)

rakim : bless the mic

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In honor of The Seventh Seal dropping-any-minute-now-really-honestly-really-it's-coming-out-this-time, here's some remixes and rare cuts.

What's the deal with Rakim?  Greatest MC of all time to anyone not fucked in the head.  Your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. Originator of spiritual MCing and the internal rhyme scheme.  And no new album in ten years.

Reading the few interviews around, all I can tell is: the death of his father really messed him up; he's enjoying raising his kids; and Dre really jerked him around.  I'd bet he also has a really, really bad manager, probably his goofy brother-in-law or something.  I mean, what label is gonna turn down The God Himself?!

So I'm wondering how come the album is late.  Maybe he's giving us time to get the last six straight.

The Coronation of Rakhnaten (Opening Ceremony) / I Know You Got Soul (Dub) / Put Your Hands Together (Parkside Mix) / As the Rhyme Goes On (Pumpin' the Turbo - Chad Jay In Effect) / Follow The Leader (RJD2 Remix) / Complicatem (Pass The Hand Grenade Pt 2) / You Don't Fool Me / Bring It (Turn It Up) / Casualties Of War (Jazz Version) / Don't Sweat The Technique (Original) / Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em (Brixton Upso Mix) / Heat It Up / Run (Freestyle) / Last Resort (a.k.a. Paid Off) / When I Be Flowin (King Tech Remix) / After U Die (feat. Truth Hurts) / Guess Who's Back (Buckwild Remix) / I'm Back (feat. Lil Fame) / Let The Rhythm Hit Em (Z-Trip Remix) / Microphone Fiend (Rage Mix) / The Coronation of Rakhnaten (Closing Ceremony)

Peep out Rap Dungeon and Hip Hop Is Read for more.

New single 'Holy Are You' just dropped; you can check it at The Message or here.

nas : rematix

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Nas has released 10 albums in 15 years, but everyone pisses and moans because 9 of them weren't Illmatic. That's like hating on George Washington Carver for not inventing something better than peanut butter.

Compared to a lot of MCs, Nas is still dropping steady heat (Exhibit A: "Queens Get The Money").  But really though, every album has some weak tracks--and not just the horrible, horrible radio singles.  Nas' problem has always been beats.

A solo rapper lacks the consistency a DJ brings to the sound and keeps the ego in check--the strength has always been in the triumvirate (Run-DMC, Cypress Hill) or the duo (Gang Starr, Eric B. & Rakim) or the everyone-into-the-phone-booth-thing (The Roots, Wu-Tang). Relying on beats-for-hire has made Nas' direction waver all over the place; it's that lack of a defined sound that makes people hate. Every Cypress Hill record is pretty much the same (just in ever-decreasing quality); every Nas record is different. To me, that's a strength.  It's just too bad he didn't hook up with the right DJ early on and drop steady solid.  When he does pick a good beat, it's fire.  When he doesn't...that's when the remixers step up.

So here we got an hour's worth of Nas remixes, freestyles and unreleased cuts. Peep it.

Hope (Kenzo Digital Remix) / Sucker MCs 2007 / Made You Look (#900 Remix) / Stillmatic (Paid In Full Mix) / DJ Clue Freestyle / The Foulness / Talk Of New York (Hard To Earn Mix) / NY State Of Mind Pt. 2 (Meaning of the Name Mix) / Made U Look (DJ ABD Run Remix) / Got Ur Self... (MIDIMarc Remix) / No Idea's Original (Kenzo Digital Remix) / Thief's Theme (Q-Fish Remix) / Streets Disciple (Original Version) / The Setup (Q-Fish Remix) / Affirmative Action (Man Mantis Remix) / One Love (MF Doom Remix) / Every Ghetto (Goodwill Projects’ Minority Report Remix) / Ghetto (feat. Joell Ortiz) (DJ Green Lantern Remix) / Life's A Bitch (DJ ABD C.R.E.A.M. Remix) / The Game (Dirty Harry's Biggie Remix) / Silent Murder / Get Down (Nick James Remix)

biggie : mo mento mo mori

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Here we got some Biggie remixes, mostly from other mixtapes. If that’s too meta for you, get with the times.

Why do we celebrate Biggie on the day he died instead of today, his birthday? It's that gangsta cult of death. Ask yourself: When Big was in that car, broken glass in his lap, bleeding out, do you think he was ready to die? Or did all that gat-poppin’ nihilism fly away and he would’ve given anything to keep breathing?

Mishima wrote: "Human life is limited, but I would like to live forever." Big didn’t leave behind a huge body of work (just a huge body). But every time it gets remixed, flipped around over a new beat, the lyrics become new again. They even become more iconic, like words cut in stone. And Biggie lives again.

Microphone Murderer / Where Brooklyn At? (Live From Madison Square Garden) / C.R.E.A.M. Freestyle / Things Done Changed (vs. Wu-Tang) - DJ Semi & DJ KG / Party & Bullshit (vs. LOTUG) - DJ Semi & DJ KG / Party & Bullshit (vs. Nas) - DJ Vlad & Dirty Harry / Party & Bullshit (vs. Jimi Hendrix) - DJ Doc Rok / Party & Bullshit (vs. David Bowie) - DJ Muggs / Hypnotize (vs. Joan Jett) - TRVS DJAM / Frank White - DJ Sane720 & Dantana / Going Back to Cali - Se7en Productions / Everyday Struggle (vs. Dr. Dre) – Filth / Real Niggaz (Original West Coast Version) / If I Should Die (vs. 50 Cent) - Dirty Harry / Victory - DJ Rukiz / Young G's (Remix) - Astronote / Things Done Changed - Golddragon / Can't Knock The Hustle - MIDIMarc / Ten Crack Commandments – Kenzo Digital / Hypnotize (vs. Frank Sinatra) - DJ Cappel & Smitty / Kick In The Door - DJ Sane720 & Dantana / Hypnotize (vs. Boogie Down Productions) / Nasty Girl (vs. Big Daddy Kane) - Mick Boogie & Terry Urban / Everyday Struggle - DJ Lennox / Dead Wrong (Stop Schemin Remix) - Renegade / Sleepwalkers - Cooking Soul / Things Done Changed (vs. El-P) / A Dream (vs. MF Doom) - DJ LivingDead / You're Nobody Till Somebody Kills You (Original Version) / Juicy (vs. Aphex Twin) - Spin Doctor Zaeus