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killah priest’s heavy mental at 20: the empire never ended


Few years back I wrote about Killah Priest's Heavy Mental for Passion of the Weiss. The album turns twenty years old today, and I had a few extra thoughts on its extreme depths. It's easily in my top twenty all-time LPs.

What Priest is doing on Mental is a pan-cosmic mystagogy linking Biblical times and concrete jungles, Exodus and the Middle Passage. Salvation from the 4D holographic galaxy will only come through music.

Why does he say on ‘PriestHood’ “I’m having constant dreams I’m Constantine?” Or on 2007's "The Maccabees," drop a vision of JFK, Jesus and "a vision of Malcolm X/sitting at the Last Supper/Elijah passing the butter/I'm at the end of the table with my gat tucked up" and then "Romans rush in / I start busting." Because the Empire never ended. 

On ‘B.I.B.L.E.,’ he says: "the white image of Christ is really Cesare Borgia, the second son of Pope Alexander."  This theory—that our modern image of Jesus comes from a 15th century Italian nobleman's portrait (by da Vinci, no less)—gets kicked around a lot here and there, but doesn't have much historical basis.  Not the point.

In medieval portraiture popes & aristocrats would have themselves inserted into Biblical scenes—here’s me cooling at the Crucifixion, here’s my wife the duchess suckling baby Jesus. Time travel selfie shit in oils. But this wasn’t just artistic license.

Benedict Anderson posits in Imagined Communities that people didn’t have a linear sense of time before newspapers—you were born in your village and shit was the same for your grandfather. It was all one thing. And in Auerbach’s ‘Figura,’ he illustrates all the times one person is a pre-figuration—a jataka tale—of another. Moses is a figura of Jesus. Or in another way, they are all the same. Everything is happening on repeat and at once. Nothing here now but the recordings. 

See, those samples that lace Heavy Mental? Aside from 20 seconds of Judas from The Robe, they’re all from 1954’s The Egyptian.

The Egyptian is about a doctor who gets caught up in Pharoah Akhnaton’s effort to change Egypt’s religion from all those cat- and alligator-head gods into a monotheism around the sun and the ankh—the cross of life. Some say (including Freud) this is a figura of Judaism or Christianity—the movie ends with big letters saying “THESE THINGS HAPPENED THIRTEEN CENTURIES BEFORE THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST."

And there’s others who think Akhnaton’s portrayal as a long-limbed, egg-shaped head dude means he was an alien. So an alien in 1300 BC was trying to start Christianity or at least its doctrines of pacifism and humanism. That’s some Killah Priest shit for real.

On a literal tip, there's increasing evidence from Einstein onwards that, in fact, time takes place all at once, and we only perceive it to be linear.  It's a long-standing philosophical debate (since at least Taggart's B-theory of time), but in real (or at least theoretical) scientific terms, efforts to reconcile relativity and quantum mechanics, like the Wheeler-DeWitt equation, point towards the universe being a 4D block which we only experience as individual slices of 'now.' 

So Priest is saying that it's one long story of bondage leading up to today, until we escape it—because it's all happening at the same time, that each element prefigures another. Where then, is escape from this time/space cube Cell Block 4D?  Outside of time and space.  What is outside of time and space?  Music.

In Philip K Dick’s VALIS, Horselover Fat asks if the soon-to-be-born savior child is Christ returning, "or another one," i.e. a new cosmic redeemer.  He gets the reply that:

"It's him again but not him; another one.  There are many Buddhas, but only one.  The key to understanding it is time...when you play a record a second time, do the musicians play the music a second time?  If you play the music fifty times, do the musicians play the music fifty times?"

Dick spent his entire life probing the noosphere to find out what was behind our reality and how we could get to a better one.  In 1974 he either went nuts or got zapped by a beam of pink light from an alien satellite and/or godhead.  Either way he had a vision of a Golden Doorway and spent the rest of his life trying to get back to it.   But there isn’t any way out of the physical world from the physical world.  "We fall asleep," Priest says on 'Temple of the Mental,' "and they handcuff us in our dreams."

The Golden Doorway is heavy mental and Heavy Mental—and "the only time you could catch jet lag is if your cassette drag."

The problem with an eternal string of prefigured martyr-saviors is that they will always be martyred, right?  As Burroughs says, "nothing here now but the recordings."  So we have to sidestep.  Into the Temple of the Mental.  Stop the tape.  STOP IT.


dope of the month club :: steel tipped dove

New beat tape by the maestro Steel Tipped Dove...the homie's been around for a while, producing beats for PremRock, Armand Hammer, the Das Racist guys, YC The Cynic, Tone Tank, Open Mike Eagle, SHIRT and other illustrious underground MCs I fuck with heavy.
The style is heavy on expanded sound, TV-static skies, 3am realizations about the Ten Thousand Things, that dream where the stairs were red and squishy and squirting water, and that joke about punching the guy whose face is made of cookie dough.  That is, it's not thumb-heavy boom bap, it's not block-rockin' beats, it's how we do in these Roy Batty baby years.
Cop the new beat tape here, and argue about in on your favorite internets.
(Steady blogging on new content/releases usually isn't my bag, but what the fuck, let's try it out.)

never put me in your giant flying stone head if that shit eats tapes

The best of PSY/OPSogist, curated by me and laced with Zardoz...now that shit is on a limited edition cassette on Formerly Known As (run by the maestro Bil Basmala).

You can hear it first here, but for the cassette the audio's been much cleaned and punched up.  Don't sleep, there's only 25 of these and they're only nine bucks.

I made mixtapes that were actual tapes from 1988-1996. I been making digital mixtapes since 2007. Now one of those is on a real live, back-in-the-day, sold-from-the-trunk cassette. We building out here. We going full circle.


The name, meaning, an expert at psychological operations--in all senses. Psy-ops is a Vietnam War term, freak the enemy out, ghost riding the Valkyries, Capt. Harry Potter and the orders of the Phoenix Program: terminate the Colonel. Exterminate all rational thought.  Carried on after--blast rabbit screams at Waco, pump Slayer at Gitmo detainees.  Also known as psywar.  Lord Ha Ha. Inflatable tanks.  Rename your cities, take your language, destroy your gods.  Psyops are categorized white, black, grey.  Like magic.

The musician, an instrumentalist.  I think I first came across him on the short-lived I Hook A Beat Up site, where a song was posted and producers would compete to make the best track sampling it.  PSY/OPSogist's were not the funkiest, but they were always the best, the strangest.  Someone complained about his track once. He replied in the c-box, 'I make no-music.'  I pulled The Cathode Ray Tube out the ether, an instrumentalist interpretation on Videodrome.  The battle for the mind of North America had been won.

PSY/OPS did the beats for the unfortunately short-lived underunderground rap group Solaris Earth Pipeline, which you can't get anymore, it's too bad because they made two dope LPs.  Now he makes some of the most deepcut, fracked and fried, sturm und fog instrumental LPs you ever heard.  They cannot be defined or pinned down.  You hear some rock in there.  Some jazz. Some straight-up hip hop. Some surfer shit. Then some other shit.  Then along comes another dripping purple thing.  Then something else. Like a Dr. Seuss Bardo Thodol, And To Think That I Saw It On The Street Between Death And Rebirth.

That's why I put him on the year hip hop got weird, the Doom mix, the They Live mix, the 9/11 mix, the second be-bop mix, and made him the headline hostage of reality...shit, I probably forgot some. He's on mixes you ain't even heard yet, I got him on stash like a secret weapon, the UBIK mix, the time travel mix.  He's out there. He's in there, and you don't even know it. Invading your brains.

What is instrumental music for?  To zone out to?  Loops for rappers to rappity rap over?  What the fuck is 'intelligent dance music,' how do you dance intelligently, shuffle your feet while stroking your goatee?  PSY/OPSogist's music induces a kind of trance state, there are layers beneath the layers like journeys to the far side of the sun.  But not on some trippy weak sauce.  No noodles.  It is ill, evil, dark, booming and dooming.  And then the drums, some of the hardest, on-point drums.  I said this before: it's about the drums. Do they go boom bap? It's dope, it's hip hop.

About half the sounds are him playing the instruments, the rest sampling, you will never know what is where.  He lives in Georgia I think?  The state not the country?  He has goats.  It doesn't fucking matter. Let's not do the here-is-the-bio, here-are-the-influences (Premier, El-P, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy, OK dammit?). That counts for nothing. It is the sounds that matter. Or anti-matter.

One thing you won't hear on this mix--you gotta cop some originals--is his peerless use of vocal samples, crazy shit from movies, from lost radio, from late-night TV you're not sure you watched the next morning, maybe you dreamed that shit where the Air Force major said God is only in man, not robots?  Descriptions don't do it justice. It has a uniqueness, a thing-in-itself like no other.

A John Boorman film. That makes no fucking sense on the first viewing, revealing its actually pretty great thematics of slaves, masters, freedom, death, passionate life, mortality later.  But obscured by Sean Connery in red underpants, batshit dialogue, ridiculous hippie costumes, and lots of girls with bad headwraps and their titties out.  A fuckload of drugs was consumed making that movie, and it shows.  You could remake it with that dude from 300 all gritty and greywash, but it wouldn't be Zardoz.  It's Ziggy Stardust and the Matrix from Shropshire. That shit is 1974 all over, druggy hangover, bitter aftertaste of broken '60s dreams. It is 2293. It could never be 2293.  James Bond Exterminators hunting on orders from a giant flying stone head.  A cult film for cult leaders. Descriptions don't do it justice. It has a uniqueness, a thing-in-itself like no other.  And Charlotte Rampling got it going on though.

Zardoz vs. PSY/OPSogist vs. Elmattic.  Zardopsyopsmattic, which by sheer coincidence is the name of the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, so we will call it...ZAR/DOZogist. Come to the second level with us.

K.O.S. intro / Chariots Of The Gods / The Sneak Attack / A Quick Reminder / Another Glass Of Whiskey / Cardinal [unreleased] / Who Would Watch / Life Grammar / Anti-Robot Freestyle #73 [unreleased instrumental] / SLY opps OH jist [unreleased] / Simplistic Summary / Dis Cosign [unreleased] / Wonderful Fall, Trying Accomplishment / That Will Work / One God / Little Pieces Of Paper / Capetown Villa / Mushroom Clouds Over Paradise / This One (Oblivion)

He is also on the Facebook, the Twitter, and the Blogging Spot.  He's been making some insane videos, talking about making his next record a video album.  I'm not sure our tiny minds can handle it.

bil basmala :: nobody beats vol. 5


Bil Basmala (formerly known as Autolect) came in hard this year with his four volume Nobody Beats series...he asked me to take the slew of funky, soutronica, neo-hop, authentically deep tracks and create a best of in my usual style. (Meaning lay samples all over the place.)  Peep it out and get the upcoming Nobody Beats box set of all five volumes when it drops.  You can cop the mix chopped into tracks here, if like that Some Like It Hot sample bugs you or something.

Wake Up / Shots / Prophet (vs. Jeru Tha Damaja) / Vortex / Measure / Yesterday (vs. Jack Lemmon & Joe E. Brown) / Floating Lazarus (vs. Malcolm X) / Time Lapse / Nice / Miles A Head (vs. Miles Davis)

Sort of hosted by Gary Farmer and Johnny Depp.

autolect :: autology volume two


I already said all I had to say about Autolect and then some last time.  Controlled by dendera light.

Props to Jazzpants, Tony Grands, Beatbox Radio Show, Under Emergent, and Haas Muhzak for upping Volume One.  Big old 1989 style gasface to all that didn't.

This is the (mostly) instrumental volume, giving you the full taste of Auto's power behind the boards.  It will seep into your bones.  Dusty bootsteps on cracked pavements.

Prize (vs. Derek Walcott) / Non Other (vocal) / Psycosis / The Differance / Others / Circumvent / Live / Supernova Combust / Shukem (elmattic loopstrumental) / Therapy (vs. Saul Williams) / Burnout (vs. Amiri Baraka) / Bb77 / Huh / Weekends / Collectors Choice / At One (vs. Ben Okri) / Evolve Or Die (vs. Langston Hughes)

Check out the new Bil Basmala isht here or on Souncloud...many, many new joints on the way and the catalog is mad deep.

autolect :: autology volume one


I've been meaning to do a series on M.O.A.T.s-the most overlooked LPs and artists of all time. Not talking about ‘oh Black Moon is so underrated' or ‘oh Biz Markie is actually a very accomplished lyricist by Keatsian standards' but cats who are incredibly talented and so under the radar they're like those cyborg housefly Predator drones the C.I.A. wants to fly up Ahmadinejad's nose. At the top of the M.O.A.T. list was Autolect: the greatest MC/producer you never heard of.

So I felt mighty blessed when Autolect himself reached out to me. I'm amped to be the DJ Whoo Kid of the underground, but for reals there aren't many others I'd be this lucky to hook a mix up for. For one thing, not many have a catalog this deep-everytime people get wood over a new Jay Constipatica song I'm all baffled, because Autolect's been doing that since 2004 and has about literally 15 times as much material.

I've been feeling Autolect's stuff for about three years, and between Every Mans Universe and Between God And The Deep Blue I was no doubt finna collect every last track. This meant some Mickey Spillane isht to hunt him down under his different monikers-AHMM (Autolect & His Meltdown Movement), BSML77, Hasan and even that one record where he called himself Velox Nur (after his favorite housepaint and/or alien reptilian overlord).

The namechanges are a reason why you maybe haven't caught on to his genius yet. But in the mains it's because he's a true iconoclast.  I don't do the whole bio-blazhay-he's-from-he's-influenced-by-blahzay; it don't really tell you nothing about the work, and the work speaks for itself. You want a logline? OK, imagine Butterfly or Jay Elecetcetera over Marcberg beats. If you like DDay One, Shabazz Palaces, Saul Williams (pre-rock star), Flying Lotus or RZA's Ghost Dog score, you are feeling Autolect.

The flow. Autolect doesn't really rap. He's not singing, he's not talking. I don't know what to call it. You just gotta listen. It's serious business. It has some Digable Planets flavor with a dash of Mos Def. It's spiritual in the real sense, not the patchouli-smelling PM Dawn sense. It's intelligent and conscious without being didactic or preaching.

The production. Dusty. Intricate loops and samples. It shimmers, not on some fairydust isht but like rain on concrete. Like neon through a tumbler of scotch on the rocks. Hard jazz, deep funk sounds, but taken so far and so deep from the source as to be absorbed and transformed. From some alternate reality where Dolphy and Mingus invented the MPC and jazz never ended, kept on going. Or some time traveler went back with a sampler and crafted some parachronistic Dendera light grooves, Bebop On The Edge of Forever.

So Autolect is being retired, as the man moves on to a new era of music under Bil Basmala. As per usual, he's got a huge slew of material lined up which is bound to be dope.

Autology both celebrates and closes the books on the Autolect era. What you got here is 13 of his greatest tracks with some interview snippets which give you a little taste of his larger thought.

Soon enough we're gonna drop a Volume Two to give a full flavor of his instrumental productions, but for now, sit back and marinate in this. Then pick your jaw up off the floor and hit his Bandcamp.  Welcome to Autolect.

Doorks / Lubrication / Autio Therapy / Accepted / Shukem / Equation (feat. Nac One) / Define / Coco Cloe / Heavy Duty / Bridge The Gap / Levitate / iAM (acurate mix) / Antidote: Out Of Space (feat. Megan Davis)

wu-tang revisited


The story of Wu-Tang is a lot like Brideshead Revisited, with Meth as the guy with the teddy bear and RZA as the other guy. Or maybe Raekwon as the guy with the teddy bear and Ghost as the other guy.


Nah mean?

Or maybe the saga of the Clan is more like Enter the 36 Anna Kareninas. Or maybe the best way to describe the Clan's history is in their own idiom, something like: Pinot grigio your DeVito, the Black Ronald Reagan cold countin' peanuts in the crib.

Anyway, I been collecting Wu remixes for a while, got about 200 or so of 'em.  What you realize is the Wu can go in over any type of beat: Chinese opera, 8-bit Nintendo, old school, dubstep, The Nutcracker...it really don't matter, they go in hard.  This here is a mix of some rarities and remixes.

P.L.O. Style (Frankenstein Remix) / Apollo Kids (Raw Stiles Remix) / Real Shit (One of These Days Remix) / Astro (Lord Hakim Remix) / Verbal Intercourse pt. II (Kenzo Digital Remix) / Long Live (Mathematics Blend) / What's Happenin (Showoff Remix) / Real Estate Breaker (Tcha Blend) / Associated (Bronze Nazareth) / Rec The Party (Perfecta Remix) / Mystery of Chessboxin' (DJ Muggs Blend) / Pinky Ring (Magowl Remix) / Dirty & Stinkin' / Wu Banga 101 (Mathematics Remix) / All Flowers (Exclusive Mix) / Daytona 500 (Tom Caruana Remix) / Lyrical 44 / Shimmy Shimmy Ya (Q-Fish Remix) / Run (Problem Child Remix) / Those That's Bout It (Inna Blends Blend) / Publicity (Goodwill Projects Blend) / P.L.O. Style (Unknown Remix)

rammellzee :: elegy for a gothic futurist


Beat Bop (1983) - w/K-Rob / Lecture (1987) - w/Shockdell / Equation (1989) - w/Material / Hisstory (1999) - w/Material / His Stories Crockery (2002) - w/New Flesh / My Horizon (2003) - from This Is What You Made Me / Sigma 1 (2004) - from Bi-Conicals of the Rammellzee / Beat Bop, Pt. 2 (2004) - w/Shockdell / Revelations Part 2 (2008) - w/Praxis / Uncommon freestyle (2007) / On Iconic Panzerism

Rammellzee, The RAMM:∑LL:Z∑∑, The Quantum Equation, The Gothic Futurist, Iconic Panzerist, The Master Alphabiter, King of the Garbage Gods, All-Around Crazy-Ass, moved from the material(ist) plane to one of pure graffiti on June 30.

Ramm started out as a graf writer and that informed everything he did.  The late '70s, early '80s--there was nothing we'd call hip-hop.  Just graffiti.  When downtown came uptown he got down with the art scene.  He was in the movie Wild Style and dropped "Beat Bop" with Schockdell and Basquiat.  Over the years he moved between making strange records, making strange artwork, and making very strange costumes--Iron Man by way of the garbage can.

He was one of those autodidact, true original, is-he-genius-or-just-talking-shit types.  Hip-hop's Sun Ra, George Clinton or Lee Scratch Perry, except his shit was too advanced to be as well-known and influential.  Why not more famous?  Well, the Museum of Modern Art owns some of his work, but in hip hop as usual the godfathers are left behind.  He wasn't really that interested in making records, and I think he was too unironic, too ghetto and too out there for the Soho scene to big him up.  I mean, wine and cheese gallery openings don't go well with homemade doll-head-covered Kabukitron outfits.

Kool Keith, K-The-I???, DJ Spooky, Killah Priest, Sir Menelik, Buck 65, Company Flow, Cannibal Ox, Super Chron Flight Brothers, Madlib, Lil B, Lil Wayne, all Anticon and Def Jux artists, and anyone who ever rapped about outer space, extreme/supreme mathematics, alien autopsies, Egyptian mythology, or any other kind of weird insane cryptic type shit, or rapped in highly coded messages of fractured language, all these people owe Rammellzee ten million dollars.  Because he invented that shit in Nine. Teen. Eighty. Three.

MF Doom wears a mask?  Rammellzee invented that shit.  RZA stands for Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah?  Rammellzee stands for RAM plus M for Magnitude, Sigma (Σ) the first summation operator, first L - longitude, second L - latitude, Z - z-bar, Σ, Σ - summation. I say it stands for: Rap's Ascended Master Mad Eloquent Lectures Landing Zone Earth Elevated. He legally changed his name to Rammellzee, for Christ's sake.  Top that, P. Diddly Oodly.  And Wacka Wocka Flame my ass.

Open Mike Eagle just dropped a nice LP called "Unapologetic Art Rap."  R:L:Z invented unapologetic art rap in 1983.  Open Mike Eagle owes him ten dollars.

The obits keep saying he 'influenced the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill,' by which they mean Ram's 'Gangsta Duck' nasal rhyming style made it OK for B-Real and Ad-Rock to be all nasal.  The Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill do not owe Ram ten dollars.  Maybe five dollars.

When you first saw The Matrix and got your mind blown in 1999, Rammellzee just shrugged and said: 'Told you.'

While today's no-talent rappers cozy up to cognac executives, Rammellzee invented some 2083 shit.  You best catch up.

This concise XLR8R review of his Bi-Conicals LP sums him up well:

Sometimes the album art says it all: some growling homeboy in a Beijing Opera mask, rainbow ski boots, with what appears to be a travel version of Connect Four dangling from his belt and, in the mirror, his opposite reflection. I don't know quite how it's happened, but Bi-Conicals sounds exactly like iconic hip-hopper Rammellzee looks--not quite insane, not quite clown. This album is full of gothic videogame hip-hop tunnel-scavengers that aren't quite demented enough to be truly fun, yet crazy enough as to be totally confusing to listen to.

Giovanni Marks sez: The dude was so far ahead of his time, no one even knew what it looked like when we all caught up to it.

Will Luckman sez: In a culture born of a desire for fame, RAMM∑LLZ∑∑ put on a mask and forced his way outside—transforming himself into a true god, an unseen force manipulating the world he dominated as he looked down from above, laughing.

He was one of those cats who dabbled in lots of media because the artform he specialized in hasn't been invented yet: a combo of graffitti, hip hop, sculpture, costumes, lectures, writing:

Q: Music or art? Which inspires you the most?


A lot of the time rappers who act crazy and talk shit, it's just an act.  There's no thinking behind it.  This is why I got tired of Kool Keith a few records ago and, like I said earlier, get frustrated with DOOM.  Rammellzee thought so much about grafitti and what it could mean, he sounded nuts, but he drops mad science if you listen.  He keeps going until ends up at pure mathematics.  It's hard to unpack it.  The Iconic Treatise is as dense and insane and brilliant as P.K. Dick's Exegesis.  The ideas about how language uses us, language's independence and domination, the need to free it from its own boundaries to reach enlightenment...these are all Burroughsian-like concepts in a wild style frame.

Q: You initially made your reputation in graffiti?

A: No, I was involved in gothic futurism and gothic text. Graffiti is a word that society placed on people it did not possibly understand. Before we could grow up and make our own determination of what technique or iconic statement we were doing, they decided - instead of saying we were abstract and have a whole society built on non complete information and these guys are about to scare the shit out of us with the biggest culture since futurism 10000 strong - to call us scribble, scrabble artists which is a contradiction right there. They called us something that eventually wiped us out.

So how does an all-city bomber end up in a handmade robot soundsystem suit making wildstyle Voltron skateboard sculptures?  Graffiti emerged from the dead zone, the war zone of '70s New York.  It was the disenfranchised taking back the trains.  You take the trains, you take the city.  They took the trains with their names, with letters.  The alphabet became the weapon.  The trains were the tanks.  The terminology was already there--bombing, burning.  So trains are 'rolling pages'--blank of writing, public transit papyrus.

My inspiration was my curiosity of why people wanted to write on trains, the biggest distribution gallery for any art form known to man...JESTER did what we should call now, the "signoverture." a letter with a harpoon on it. I based most of my style on that. I often wondered why JESTER armored the "letter" with a barbed arrow...

The letter music notes and weather notes that were done down there reached a point where you didn't need to kill a person. The piece itself became a weapon: the letter itself. So fame was the most interesting to take out. How do you know George Washington? You know him through a name. You shoot the letter on the train at the other name and it takes out that name. So therefore homeboy has no identity. Why should I kill him? He'll just be dead anyway because nobody will know who he is.

My style did not break away from any traditional art form of the illuminations. I just went further, did what people wouldn't. We all painted three dimensional letters. I just finished mines by building them. Those rolling pages in those wind tunnels showed everyone what to do. Those who chose to complete "that" competition of the five boroughs of New York City, had their reasons to finish or not their studies. Even if their studies were rolling at the speed of 35 miles per hour.

Wild style.  Three-dimensional letters--illegible unless you're initiated.  Coded language.  Electricity straight down the third rail.  These are also armored letters--protected from interpretation and exploitation.  "The letter is armed to stop all the phony formations, lies, and tricknowlegies placed upon its structure..." as Ram put it, "...how a letter aerodynamically changes into a tank."

Rammellzee is a military function formation… I am ramming the knowledge to an elevation and I am understanding the knowledge behind the Zee. Since we are dealing with Roman letters, we have to go back to the day when the Romans were using the ram to break down doors. Our situation today is to break down a door of knowledge hidden behind society. We're going to work our way around it instead of breaking it straight up. Whereas before you'd be trying to break through and you would be on the bottom of the pile. We're talking about where graffiti originated, where hardcore war went down, with markers against markers and letters against letters. You think war is always shooting and beating everybody up, but no, we had the letters fight for us.

From there it gets even more obtuse.  He started thinking about the connection between graf and illuminated manuscripts (gothic script).  And he decided he was continuing the work of medieval monks whose illuminations were banned by the Catholic Church.  Then he got into the idea that language is mathematics, and electromagnetic forces, and all this is preventing us from moving out into space...into Burroughs territory but also into Time Cube territory.  But there was always a coded Afrofuturist agenda there, his Five Percenter past keeping it relevant.

In 2001 R:L:Z said:

We failed what could have been "our" culture. I went to the Puck Building (Guernsey's Auction) in June of the year 2000 and offered my services. Everyone who was anyone in this "subculture" had works for sale. No one sold, except for a few. I felt that the "culture" died right there. There was too much "mannerism" not enough "burner"!!! Our futurism! We should have only stuck to doing the "letter" and joined together to fight the light dwellers. but, we will always be Kings From the Dark Continent. The veins of this Gotham! Remember this the next level, as you said, is the third dimension. I hope.

Born in Far Rock, Away.  He took the A train.

Source Codes:

gifted unlimited rhymes universal


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


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

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