Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

Ghost is for Lovers

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

By the mid 1990’s Rza had burned through every kung-fu VHS in his basement and was forced to find a new thematic direction. I imagine he hopped in the Wu-mobile with his girl, popped in some Al Green and drove down to Blockbuster to rent some 70’s movies. 36 Chambers is the blueprint for the Wu-Tang sound but by Ironman Rza hits his stride as a super-producer. It’s the first Wu album I ever really loved, I mean how can you not love an artist’s debut solo album where he’s so G that doesn’t need to spit the first verse on his own album?

“Oh shit, that’s my man!”

When I was younger I really believed I would be able to know if a girl is “the one” by whether they knew the opening line to “Camay”. In my mind it’d go:

Me: “What’s the deal goldielocks?”
Her: “Ain’t nothing, I’m just hibernating.”

Then our beings would become one and the secrets of the universe would unlock or something. I never actually used this as a pickup line, but it was something I’d build the nerve to test on a girl after a few months to see what would happen. Every time the response was “what the fuck are you talking about?”

Imagine having the swagger to walk up to a woman and spit the lines in that song and she doesn’t laugh in your face? It’s unthinkable in my world, but Raekwon could say his verse to Michelle Obama and she’d grab her shit and bounce out of the white house immediately.

One of the most underappreciated sub-genres of hip-hop is the pickup song. This is AP level rhyming that only MC’s truly confident with their game can pull off. The hip-hop image was always that you have to be a pimp and wherever you go women were dropping their panties without hesitation. Making a track where you talk about having to put effort in on a girl can be really embarrassing if you’re not careful.

One of the better examples is LL Cool J’s “Around The Way Girl.” LL had to take a break from knocking people out on that album to talk about his ideal girl at the bus stop with a Fendi bag and a bad attitude. Another undeniable classic is “Big Poppa” by Notorious BIG where he masterfully spits game to a girl by asking her interests and offers a delicious after club snack of a t-bone steak paired with refreshing juice. Who didn’t want to get with Tribe’s Bonita Applebum? This isn’t desperate Positive K falling flat on his face with “Got A Man”…we’re talking about pro level pickup artists.

When I was in high school the Wu double cd came back like a comet and I would listen to it all day and night. There was no need for a cd wallet in the visor because you’d just have CD2 of Forever in there and every school day would end in a Triumph. I’d switch it out with Ironman every now and again when I was tired of hearing Rza talking about the fusion of the five elements or whatever.

I was dating this girl for about a minute and a half and she was a total bimbo but I was just glad to be with someone that was good looking. For weeks she was bugging because I was a senior and she was a junior and after the summer I’d be on my way to college and she’d still be back home doing lame high school shit. I had zero intention of starting college life with a girlfriend so I was always looking for a way out (Sidebar: Kissing this chick was like kissing a goldfish. She was the absolute worst, I can’t even…).

One night we were driving home from a movie and I was playing Ironman and she goes “ugh I hate Wu-Tang lets listen to something else”. I pulled over to the side of the road (really) and told her I’m done, our interests are not aligned, and I took her home. She sat there silent as I drove her home with trademarks around her fucking eyes. I wasn’t insisting she memorize all 9 members (plus cap cap cap cap cap cappuccino) or anything. Just to sit there and listen to music that wasn’t some unthinkable crap on the radio.

In my mind, Ghostface is a social barometer you can use to judge someone by. If you like Ghost, there’s a chance we have things in common. There are lots of things in life you can use to pass reasonable judgment on people. For example go out to eat and see how someone orders a steak. If they say well done they are dangerous and you should call the police immediately. If someone is wearing head to toe Supreme you can hypothesize that they are more than likely a virgin.

I find it hard to find a 1 or 2 tolerable people to grab a pizza with and somehow (most likely brokered by the illuminati) Wu Tang has 9 of the best rappers of all time. In the same group. That all lived near each other. How? Regardless of how good the other guys are Ghost straddles the line between underground and mainstream while making amazing music in a way none of them were ever able to do. Method Man was probably the only other member that could have broken out of the shadow of the group and he somehow blew it.

Despite my bullshit about wanting to find a girl that was down with the Wu, it didn’t happen for me. I mean, if I wanted to be with someone that really was really into hip-hop I’d probably have to date someone with a beard and a backpack named Mark. You don’t choose who you love and lord knows you don’t want to marry someone that is exactly like you. As you get older you realize you are a piece of shit and you need someone that is the opposite of your personality to offset how awful you are. In the end I didn’t marry a girl that likes the Wu but to be fair, she’s Chinese so she IS kind of down with the Shaolin by association. – Mike Bodge @mikebodge


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Buhloone Mindstate: Counting Down the 19 Best De La Soul Skits

Monday, September 24th, 2012

De La Soul’s classic album Buhloone Mindstate saw its release nineteen years ago today. The group’s third album was the last to album that was produced by Prince Paul. The breakup appears to be amicable: in fact, Pos and Dave still turn up on Prince Paul’s many side projects to this day. Back in ’93 though-smack in the middle of the street-fueled Gangster Rap Era, De La’s music stood away from the pack, making genre-shifting music that was more critically acclaimed than popular. 

Leading the charge of the Native Tongue movement, one that stood for for peace and harmony, De La’s aura was more happy, humorous, and fun than their hardcore counterparts. They pushed the creativity of rap to it’s limits, in both flow and fashion, leading some to coin the group as “hip hop hippies”.

Earmarked by their unique use of clever wordplay and dope production, De La’s album’s made you nod your head while at the same time laughing your ass off. One of their greatest contributions to the rap game was their use of skits on their albums.  This wasn’t an all brand new idea;  Ice Cube’s Death Certificate made use of lighter, funnier skits to break up the seriousness of that album, but De La took the idea to the next level.

So in order to celebrate the release of this album, and to pay homage to one of the most slept-on trio’s in the game, we decided to take a look at ALL of their albums, and put together our list of the top 19 De La Soul Skits.  ENJOY.

19. “Skit 5″
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown: Dres is back questioning the album after realizing that there were no guns, pimps, or curse words.

18. “Do as De La Does”
3 Feet High and Rising
Breakdown: De La paying homage to the “call and response” style of party rockers. Obviously they aren’t doing it seriously, as they run through pocket checks for cough drops, condoms and shout out soft drinkers. Oh, and I still call people scungilli heads.

17. “Not Over till the Fat Lady Plays the Demo”
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown: This skit should’ve been an entire song.  Trugouy kills this story about being chased by a fat chick with a demo. .The story is hillarious, and only Prince Paul could work the ill Serge Gainsbourg sample with a Slick Rick sample.

16 . “I Can Do Anything (Delacratic)”
Album: 3 Feet High & Rising
Breakdown: This is a complete parody of JJ Fad’s “Supersonic” but taken to the next level. The rhymes couldn’t get any more corny on the original and they seemed to out do those. It’s easy to see that Maseo and the boys weren’t feeling the Jam Pony Express style booty shakin’ music that was competing with hip hop on the charts. Luther Campbell was somewhat labeled for starting the movement, but we also know he sampled this song over a dozen times. At least Luke’s was cool.

15. “Johnny’s Dead AKA Vincent Mason (live in BK Lounge)
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown:  When you put two creative people in front of a crowd you get hilarious things like this. Prince Paul on keys Plug One tearing up the vocals.This micro song explains how Johnny died taking a bullet to the dome. By all the laughing in the background, it’s safe to say this was a total freestyle

14. Dave Has a Problem…Seriously
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Breakdown: This is one of those perfect examples where an inside joke, turns into a skit.  I have no fucking clue what is going on here, however it is definitely clear. Dave Has a Problem. Seriously.

13. “Reverend Do Good #1″ / “Reverend Do Good #2″ / Reverend Do Good #3
Album: AOI: Bionix
The Reverend Do Good pops up all over their sixth album. In the final Reverend Do Good skit, there is one final advertisement for Ghost Weed, which was a re-occurring skit on their 2001 album, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump. This time around, a youngster takes a hit of the substance, then morphs into J Dilla, who provided the intro and outro to the marijuana-themed song “Peer Pressure” (which he also produced).

12. “WRMS’ Dedication to the Bitty”
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown:  Radio station interludes have always been popular in music, especially hip hop. It gives the listener a feeling of authenticity and helps waste time simultaneously breaking up an album. Joe Sample’s “In All My Wildest Dreams” sets the tone for this half baked radio announcement by Cat Jackson.

11. “Rap de Rap Show”
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown: Everyone loves Dew Doo Man. A bit of  long-ass interlude, but showcases a serious line up of players  praising Paul’s alter ego, the Dew Doo Man Even Prince Paul himself jumps in on the fun.

10. “Intro”

Album: 3 Feet High & Rising
Breakdown: This is what originally set the standard feel for how De La operated mentally. They transform themselves into totally random game show contestants over an annoyingly repetitive bar scene loop. All this to answer 4 questions no one would ever want to know the answer to.

9. “De La Orgee”
Album: 3 Feet High & Rising
Breakdown: Maybe a best sex skit/interlude post sometime soon? This, Biggie’s “Fuck Me” and Pun’s “Taster Choice”, would definitely round out the top three.  Barry White’s “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More” sets the back drop for the sexcapade that unfolds here. Prince Paul jacked it over a year before Dr. Dre copied it and put his own flip on it for “Just Don’t Bite It”. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

8. “Kicked Out the House”
Album: De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown:  In rap’s history we’ve seen rappers shit on other rappers. Heard them shit on other crews. Even witness them dis whole regions. But rarely do we hear a crew shit on an entire genre, and that’s what De La did here. Their disdain for House is something of a head-scratcher, as there Native Tongue counterparts, the Jungle Brothers practically made Hip-Hop House famous.

7. “Intro” (Stickabush)
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Breakdown: Clearly they’re not talking about balloons here.

6. “Paul’s Revenge”
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Breakdown: You won’t like Paul when he’s angry, and Paul is angry. Venting over voice mail, he aims his anger towards The Source  for not crediting his work with Slick Rick. They used sound effects to cover up the specifics of who at the mag he was calling out, however he made it clear to say, “you can quote me, and you can record this and put this on record” and then tops it off with, “hope you have a pleasant day.”

5. “Intro”
De La Soul Is Dead
Breakdown:  The album kicks off with the intro-as-children’s storybook format. The intro continues with some back and forth dialogue between a bunch of school kids, when one finds a De La tape in the garbage, and is eventually beat down for it. After bringing the girlies inflated talk about Vanilla Ice to a halt, he is bullied by none other than Dres from Black Sheep and forced to give up the tape he just came up on. Straight Jack Move.

4, “Can You Keep a Secret”
Album: 3 Feet High & Rising
Breakdown: Years before the Ying Yang Twins popularized the whisper flow De La was all over the shit. Back in the late 80′s/early 90s hip hop songs had much faster tempos from the days of today. From The UMC’s “Never Never Land“, to songs like Grand Puba’s “360″, our heads and necks stayed plenty busy. So it would make sense to say that higher tempo skits would come into play. This must have been totally done on the fly because, you really can’t write things that dumb. We found out who likes pudding, who needs a haircut, who has dandruff, and finally who was the super scrub of the camp. Dante.

3. “Ghost Weed
Album: Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump
Breakdown: Easily Top 5 skit right here. Ever. This group of three different skits weren’t stand alone skits, but wrapped into tracks on the group’s fifth album. The first skit is a mock commercial for a fake product they call  “Ghost Weed”.  In each of the skits, the announcer introduces the product, and explains that by smoking the Ghost Weed they can magically sound like any rapper they choose. The skit pokes fun at both the pot smoking MC’s and ghost writing at the same time.  The three MC’s featured are: Pharoah Monche, Phife Dawg, and Black Though

2. “Cool Breeze on the Rocks”
3 Feet High & Rising
Breakdown: Prince Paul. Nuff said. Prince Paul digs up 17 snippets that feature the word “Rock” and mixes them together in a string of organized mayhem. He touches everything from Public Enemy and LL Cool J to Ashford and Simpson.

1. “Long Island Wilin’
Album: Buhloone Mindstate
Breakdown: I mean how great is this?  Japanese rappers Scha Dara Parr SDP And Takagi Kan drop a couple of quick verses, over some Prince Paul production. Originally slated to be the intro to the album, Prince Paul and De La scrapped the idea, thinking people wouldn’t take them seriously.  The cross cultural collaboration was somewhat of an introduction to  Japanese rap back then proving  that hip-hop was bigger than just the United States. BRING THAT BEAT BACK!

Diggin’ Deeper: Five Classic Colored Cassettes (That aren’t The Purple Tape)

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Today we are excited to wrap up our first week of the release of our Only Built 4 Cuban Linx “Purple Tape Cassette Box”. The overwhelming response to the release and the extensive media coverage proves that the Purple Tape is as popular today, as it was seventeen years ago.

To continue to honor the release, we chose to dedicate the latest edition of Diggin’ Deeper, not only to the purple tape, but to spead love to some of the other colorful cassettes. We did our research, dug in the vaults and put together our list, and then looked towards our  brothers over at STRICTLY CASSETTE for some imagery.

All classics in their own right, the following selection is not a “Best of” or a “Top Five”, but five super dope albums that were released on colored cassette. GET YOUR TAPE DECKS READY!


Redman – Dare Iz A Darkside
Release Date: November 22, 1994
Label: RAL (Rush Associated Labels)
UPC: 73145-23846-45
Who better than Funk Doc to put out his classic on a red tape? Always out thinking out side of the box, Red’s second album boom bapped in and out of tape decks from the streets of Brick City all the way to the Burbs. Press Rewind If I Haven’t Blown Your Mind!


Beastie Boys – Ill Communication
Release Date: May 31, 1994
Label: Capitol/EMI Records
UPC: 72438-28599-49

The Beasties have always been known to explore and push the envelope with all their releases. This experiment was no different, in ’94 they dropped a solid green version of their 4th studio album. Although some die-hard fans don’t remember “The Green Tape”, this sure shot proved to everyone and their Ma Bell that the kids from Manhatthan had the Ill Communication.


Masta Ace – SlaughtaHouse
Release Date: May 4, 1993
Label: Delicious Vinyl
UPC: 7567-92249-4
Before taking you on a ride with The INC, Ace dropped the prequel to the highly acclaimed Sittin’ On Chrome LP. This was his second studio album, but the first with his INC imprint. It focused on the commercialism of hip hop and his feelings toward it. Jeep Ass Niguh was the first single he let slide and gave collectors a treat when it was released on clear vinyl. He took this one step further when he dropped the album on an yellow cassette for all of the brainiac dum dums. This is one of those gems that will be gone but will never forgotten.


Jay-Z – The Blueprint
Release Date:
September 11, 2001
Roc-A-Fella//Def Jam Records
Who can forget where they were the day this album dropped. With it’s release date pushed up a week prior, Hov curbed the jackmove of the street bootleggers The album sold over 420,000 copies in its opening week, becoming Jay-Z’s fourth consecutive album to reach number one on the Billboard Charts. Some labeling it as Jay-Z’s best work, the takeover happened when this was issued on a clear blue vinyl LP and cassette. At the doorstep of the digital age, Mr. Carter made a smart move adding a contribution to hip hop heads and collectors worldwide.

Run DMC – Raising Hell
Release Date:
July 18, 1986
Priority Records
In the summer of ’86. this tape along with some fresh Shell Top Adidas and a boombox, made the cipher complete. It was the epitome of Hip Hop.  Originally debuting in 2 color schemes, some of the early pressings were misprinted calling both sides, side 2. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, album sales exploded and sales increased, peaking at #1 on Billboard’s RnB/Hip Hop chart.



Illegal – The Untold Truth
Release Date:
August 24, 1993
Label: Rowdy/Arista/BMG Records
UPC:  75444-37002-4
Once upon a time before Jamal faded ‘em all, he was 1/2 the group Illegal with his co-defendant Lil’ Malik. Featuring production from an all star cast including Lord Finesse, Diamond D., Biz Markie, and “the Green Eyed Bandit” himself, the album floated below the radar due to weak promotion. The only LP let loose by the group, featured the Kriss Kross diss track, which  was worth the money’s worth alone.  The tape, released on a blood red cassette, is a true Hip Hop rarity  had true collectors scouring flea markets and record swaps since the 90′s.


Thanks to @UpNorthTrips + @ButtonPusha once again! – Staff

Purple Pedigree: Ten Great Purple Hip Hop Album Covers

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Everyone is talking about the “The Purple Tape“, but who’s talking about “The Purple Album” ?

No one.


Because it doesn’t really exist. There is not one particular album that could be donned “The Purple Album” (however Rae’s OB4CL1 + OB4CL2 have been released on purple vinyl). However, there are many that come to mind that have rocked out in amethyst album artwork. Let’s explore.

Throughout history, Hip Hop has embraced color phases. We had the red, black, and green era of Public Enemy and X-Clan in the late 80s/early 90s. Some years later Cam’ron had “all of New York wearing Pink.”

Today Hip Hop  is completely fascinated by the color purple (no Oprah).  From purple drank to purple weed, rap culture is a completely frenzied with the lavender lifestyle. So with purple on the brain, let’s take a list of the ten best purple-tinted album covers in Hip Hop.


Run DMC  - Raising Hell
Year: 1986
Label: Profile/Arista
Purple Pedigree: One of the classics of the first-second generation old school. This album merged Rap and Rock & Roll back when no one would’ve thought to attempt it. Thanks Russell and Rick. The purple and green colorway was a bold statement at the time of it’s release and still would put any instagram filter to shame.


Big Daddy Kane – Long Live The Kane
Year: 1988
Label: Cold Chillin’/Warner Bros.
Purple Pedigree:  The debut album by everyone’s favorite mack. Kane’s style, whether hard of soft, smooth and rough, set the standard on how to balance the act of murdering emcees and pleasing the ladies.  Purple, a sign commonly used to symbolized royalty, is draped in the background of the Kane’s thrown. Long Live The Kane!


Funkdoobiest – Which Doobie U B?
Year: 1993
Label: Immortal/SME Records/Epic
Purple Pedigree:  If Hip Hop had a porn-core posterchild, this album cover would be it. Illustrated by Detroit’s Glenn Bar, the Funkdoobs were easily one of the first group to combine sex, funk, and rugged rhymes. This album mainly produced by DJ Muggs gave them their signature west coast sound and set a defining line between them and Cypress Hill.


Digable Planets – Blowout Comb
Year: 1994
Label: Pendulum/EMI
Purple Pedigree: In many aspects this album pioneered the shift in focus towards an era of smooth jazz infused hip hop. All the production was handled by Butterfly himself. The album’s featured track, ‘Rebirth of Slick’ showed everyone how to be “cool like that”, and what’s cooler than the album cover’s lavender color-scheme?


Company Flow –  Funcrusher Plus

Year: 1997
Label: Rawkus
Purple Pedigree: Co Flow had a knack for choosing sounds and effects that normally wouldn’t go together and making them work in harmony. Their debut full length, “Funcrusher” , as some people call it, was, and still is an underground classic. One of the earliest full lengths on Rawkus, El-P and Big Jus’ subject matter touched on everything from weak rappers, buffed subway trains, and even the time/space continium. The artwork for the album was designed by artist, Matt Doo (R.I.P.)


Outkast – Aquemini
Year: 1998
Label: LaFace/Arista
Purple Pedigree: The album’s title, Aquemini, derives from a mixture  of Big Boi (Aquarius) and Andre’s (Gemini) zodiac signs. The third studio album from the duo out of East Point, Georgia, features one of my favorite joints from their catalog, “Da Art Of Storytellin’ feat. Slick Rick. If you threw, Iron Butterfly, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Sly and The Family Stone and The Jungle Brothers in a blender and pulsed it on smoothie mode for an hour, this is what you would get.


Eminem – Slim Shady LP
Year: 1999
Label: Aftermath/Interscope
Purple Pedigree: This was music industry’s version of The Great White Hype. This LP gave all the angry whiteboys across America a reason to live. With the guidence and some production from Dr. Dre, this was easily a game changer. Focusing more on lyrics and conceptual ideas The Slim Shady introduced us the who the ‘real’ slim shady was way before he even recorded that song.

Kanye West- Graduation

Year: 2007
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam
Purple Pedigree: As Kanye gained popularity within mainstream rap, he took every opportunity on this album to take a look in the mirror and reflect on his life and newfound fame. The result was 51 minutes of music that even 50 Cent couldn’t front on at the time. Defeating 50 in the “07 Soundscan Wars” looking back this was the record that could’ve caused Curtis to hang it up. The album’s artwork, designed by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, portrayed an anime version of Kanye’s  mascot and trademark, Dropout Bear.


Raekwon OB4CL2
Year: 2009
Label: Ice H20/EMI Records
Purple Pedigree: This list wouldn’t be complete without include Rae’s follow up to OB4CL. Understanding the power of the purple, Rae tinted the cover of sequel with that lavish, lavender filter.  The second segment in the Cuban Linx series was well received by all the hip hop media outlets. Although it wasn’t as good as the original, OB4CL2 was close enough, and didn’t miss the mark when we talk about real hip hop.



Currensy – Pilot Talk 2
Year: 2010
Label: Roc-a-Fella/DD172/Def Jam
Purple Pedigree: Currensy has gained momentium in these past few years hopping on a variety of different projects. Spitta’s fourth studio
album (second on a major) helped Dame Dash and Def Jam capture sales from consumers that normally wouldnt be interested. He knows how to pick beats and what to put over them. I’m sure we will be seeing more great collaborations to come.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: C’mon @UpNorthTrips – How could you leave off the greatest “Purple” album in the last 10 years:

sorry, had to do it! - editor)


Happy Birthday Roy Ayers

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Roy Ayers, the legendary vibraphonist, is a man who needs no introduction. Renowned for his skills as a percussionist, master composer and a producer, his string of Soul and Funk classics are indelible to Hip Hop. His deep catalog of jazz-funk-fusion records are so stacked full of loops and melodious arrangements, that he may very well be the most important Jazz/R&B artist to bless the rap game.

In the 90′s, as the merger of Hip Hop and Jazz took hold, his music influenced everyone from Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock & CL Smooth, to Nas and DMX. Ayers relationship with Hip Hop grew from sampled artist to participant, and in ’93, Ayers contributed greatly to Guru’s seminal Jazzmatazz album and toured throughout New York with Guru and Trumpeter Donald Byrd.

Today marked Ayers’ 72nd Birthday. And as those glorious days of the 90′s slip farther and father away, we figured we would pay homage to both the man and the music he’s inspired. We curated a list, one for every year, of classic Ayers’-sampled productions.

Trapped In The 90′s: Roy Ayers by upnorthtrips

Year: 1990
A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Description of a Fool’
Producer: Q-Tip
Sample: “Running Away”, Lifetime

Year: 1991
Ed O.G & The Bulldogs – ‘Be A Father To Your Child’
Producer: Joe Mansfield
Sample: “Searching”, Vibrations

Year: 1992
Showbiz & A.G. – ‘Hard To Kill’
Producer: Showbiz
Sample: “Ain’t Got Time”, He’s Coming

Year: 1993
Pharcyde – ‘Passin Me By’ (Fly As Pie Remix)
Producer: J. Swift
Sample: “The Third Eye”, Everybody Loves the Sunshine

Year: 1994
The Beatnuts – ‘Get Funky’
Producer: The Beatnuts
Sample: “Painted Desert”, Ubiquity

Year: 1995
Smif N Wessun – ‘Home Sweet Home’
Producer: BPzy (Beatminerz)
Sample: “We Live In Brooklyn Baby”, He’s Coming

Year: 1996
Redman – ‘Creepin”
Producer: Redman
Sample: “Shining Symbol”, Coffy OST

Year: 1997
Capone-N-Noreaga – ‘Capone Bone’
Producer: Marley Marl
Sample: “Step Into Our Life”, Step Into Our Life

Year: 1998
Puff Daddy ft. Mase & Carl Thomas – ‘Been Around The World’
Producer: Deric “D-Dot” Angelettie
Sample: “Feeling Good”, Feeling Good

Year: 1999
Nas – ‘Life Is What You Make It’
Producer: L.E.S
Sample: “Vittroni’s Theme – King Is Dead”, Coffy OST

Year: 2000
Prodigy ft. N.O.R.E – ‘What You Rep’
Producer: Hangmen3
Sample: “Vittroni’s Theme – King Is Dead”, Coffy OST

Record Digging & Disco Boogie: A Word from Uchenna Ikonne (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Since the release of their first compilation, Brand New Wayo in May 2011, Uchenna Ikonne, founder of Comb and Razor Sound has been working diligently to “bring the best in cool and rare Nigerian music and pop culture oddities…”

Ikonne, also a writer, DJ, and filmmaker entered into the music industry because a great sense of moral integrity and obligation he felt towards the artists and performers he loved to listen to. “I know this might sound crazy in this era of ‘free content’ but when I was blogging I always felt this sense of guilt that I was ripping off the artists in some way. I know people would tell me what does it matter if it has been buried for years anyways so it is not as if they would even get paid from it.”

But Ikonne noticed on his blog ( that whenever he put out a mix and people downloaded it, had he affixed a dollar amount to the download, this would be money going directly back to the artist.

“So I fell better in this way that I’m distributing music and I’m also making money from it; not for myself, but for the artists. Because it is really important that we licensed the music and made sure that the artist got paid because some of these guys were seriously ripped off back in the day.” Ikonne pauses. “So that was one thing that I really wanted to do.”

Thus far, Comb and Razor has released two compilations: Brand New Wayo in May 2011, and just recently, in July 2012, a record by a band called The Semi Colon, a popular eastern Nigerian group from the 1970s. Brand New Wayo, which was featured on NPR last year, showcases various disco artists from 1979 to 1983.

Comb and Razor is currently working on releasing a Nigerian country music compilation. The concept originated from a blog entry posted in 2008. “I’m always trying to think of new concepts, new ideas, new things to showcase on the blog, and I just started thinking that different Nigerian versions of country music, so I thought I would see if I had enough to put together a little mix of it.”

The entry received the greatest response of any of the blog’s other entries. “I’m looking forward to putting it out as an official release and having more people exposed to it… And you know country music, country music from Africa is the furthest music that you would expect. So I’m really excited about it.”

Whle the track listing is not yet finalized, listeners may expect to hear Joe Nex, Remy Cottonheart, Henry Pedro, Ed Jatto, Dedication, an a few others. “There’s a lot to actually choose from, but I tried to put stuff on there that people didn’t hear the first time. There will be a lot there.”

Comb and Razor has encountered some challenges processing the records, especially regarding audio restoration. In Nigeria, “there isn’t a lot of preservation, so in a lot of cases the original master tapes for these records don’t exist anymore. So you have to master it from an existing copy of the record, and if you don’t have the record in perfect condition, ten a lot of work goes into trying to digitally restore the sound.”

Another problem Ikonne has faced is locating a particular record and not having a copy of it. “You have to find that record, and that could take forever. Or maybe you know someone that has that and can give you an audio duplicate of it. Getting really good source material, getting really good master material is definitely a huge challenge.”

Comb and Razor Sound delivers music that is carefully packaged, informative and stylish with vintage photographs.

The name for Comb and Razor Sound originates from Ikonne’s boarding school days. It was less like a posh high school with uniform navy blazers and Oxfords-striped ties, than “boot-camp or prison” Ikonne says.

“We used to give each other haircuts using a particular method of holding a razor blade pressed up against a comb and then running the comb through the hair,” Ikonne explains. “It was terribly painful and to some degree unsanitary, but it was representative of the spirit of improvisation that the boarding school environment fostered in us—that drive to make something out of nothing.”

That same resourcefulness is how Ikonne approaches Comb and Razor Sound: “Use what you got and try to make something you want!”

Special Thanks to Lee Hershey.
This is the second article in a three part series.
To check out PART ONE please click here.

To check out Comb & Razor’s titles on Click Here.

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