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Posts from November 2009

In My Lifetime: My Jaÿ-Z Story

'Hustle' Man: Jay-Z (Circa 1996)

Inspired by VIBE Magazine Tweet:

Vibe Magazine Tweet

Jaÿ-Z -- "Dead Presidents"

"Dead Presidents." And yes, I knew that Jay-Z would become the rap superstar that he is today.

Let me "re-phrase" that -- I knew he would be a superstar, but I never thought that he would be the "rap mogul" that he is today.

It was in 1996, I was the music editor for Beat-Down magazine, a fledging indie rap magazine in New York City. I received a promo CD from Roc-A-Fella Records that read:  Jaÿ-Z -- "Dead Presidents" b/w "Ain't No Nigga" (F/ Foxy Brown). After a couple of listens, I said to myself, 'This guy could be the next rap superstar.'

Real talk. I loved Jay-Z's voice, his flow, his persona and his back story: A former drug dealer turned hype man for Big Daddy Kane to an entrepreneurial rapper. Sure, Jay had a few songs under his belt, most notably with Jaz-O ("Hawaiian Sophie"), who was his mentor at that time. And then there was "In My Lifetime," which never caught my ear. All together, Jay-Z had "the greatest story" that has never been told.

I got in contact with Jay-Z's publicist who then set up a "phoner" interview with Jay and I. It was supposed to be for only 15 minutes -- but we spoke for an hour. We talked about everything: from his days with Big Daddy Kane to how super-producer Clark Kent discovered him to how record labels were dissing him because he had big lips. He also spoke fondly of his buddy/business partner Damon Dash and his love for Brooklyn, in particularly, the Marcy Projects. Finally, we discussed his decision to go the independent route and the future of Roc-A-Fella Records.

All and All, Jay's story intrigued me. So much so, that Beat-Down magazine gave Jay-Z a three-page spread inside the magazine just based off that one single, "Dead Presidents." The other single -- "Ain't No Nigga" -- didn't pop off just as yet.

Rap magazines, even today, would never give an up-and-coming rap artist a three or even a four-page spread in their publication just based off of ONE hit single. So, during that time (circa 1996), Beat-Down magazine was either simply naive or a trailblazer, because no one "really" knew what Jay-Z's potential could be. I would go with the latter, because, for me, I was confident enough that Jay-Z would be a rap superstar. I trusted my ears to the fullest; these two ear lobes have never lied to me.

But I had no inkling that Jay-Z would eventually become the "CEO of Hip-Hop." I figured he would record three, maybe four albums, and he would be done.

I had no idea he would record the classic 2001 album The Blueprint.

I had no idea he would marry the hottest chick in the R&B game.

I had no idea that he would become a "business, man."

"I'm out for presidents to represent me!" -- Nas


The Making Of  "Dead Presidents" (Video) [Props to legendary producer Ski Beats]


On The Level: With Dame Dash and Creative Control

This is a must-watch video as Damon Dash talks about the Black Roc project and his new website Creative Control TV.  You also will learn a new term: "Wack World."

Props to Street Level


It's Dillamentary!

Ill Roots: Dilla Mixtape

DJ Rasta Root: The Rest of Dilla Vol. 1 (The Dillamentary)

It never cease to amaze me at how many people were somehow influenced my the music and legacy of the late and great hip-hop maestro J Dilla.

DJ Rasta Root filmed a brief documentary explaining how the concept of his summer mixtape release The Rest of Dilla Vol. 1 came about. The clip also features designer Eric9 who created the cover art (see above) and Dilla's mother Maureen "Ma Dukes" Yancey who gave her approval of the project.

If you haven't heard the mixtape, you can listen to it below:


Props: Classic Example Podcast

Download: Classic Example Podcast (Download)


@Phontigallo On Why Men Love MJB's My Life Album

'Life' Stories: Mary J. Blige's Album My Life

Phonte Coleman (of Little Brother and The Foreign Exchange) wrote an excellent piece of music journalism on Mary J. Blige's 1994 classic album My Life.  Phonte describes the three-times platinum album as the ultimate break-up for both men and women.

Phonte writes:

"Men didn't just sympathize with Mary, we empathized as well. We questioned our decisions. We reminisced on past loves and past mistakes. We wondered what could've happened in a woman's life to make her sound so fragile. We wondered if somewhere, someplace there was a woman out there writing her own "My Life" based on her shitty experiences with us. For men, My Life was our guilty conscience. For women, it gave voice to an entire generation. Make no mistake about it, Mary J. Blige's sophomore LP is The Official Life Soundtrack For Black Women With Daddy Issues. It was more than music, it was ministry."

Read the entire commentary on

Mary J. Blige -- "My Life"

Mary J. Blige -- "I Never Wanna Live Without You"

Mary J. Blige -- "I'm The Only Woman"


Mary J. Blige is set to release her ninth effort Stronger with Each Tear on Dec. 22.


The Black Friday Music Post: Booty, Beats & Links

Ms. Laenne
Ex-Model Laeann Amos | Instagram

Mos Def  (F/ Talib Kweli) -- "History" (Jimmy Fallon Show Performance)

Mos Def and Talib Kweli reunited on the "Jimmy Fallon Show" Thursday and performed "History," which was produced by the late and great J Dilla.

Snoop Dogg -- "I Wanna Rock" (video)

Y'all already know -- This is the fa-shizzle, my nizzle. Club Banger of the Year!

Eminem -- "Let It Bump Never Seen" (F/ Lil Wayne & Fabolous)

Meh . . .

Jay Electronica -- "Exhibit C" (Produced by Just Blaze) [Radio Rip]

Because I can't get enough of this song

Wale (F/ Marsha Ambrosius) -- "Diary" (Acoustic Version)

Allen Iverson Retires. What He Meant To Hip-Hop

Music Journalist Simon Reynolds Claims Hip-Hop is "At Death's Door"

Rapper Game: "The R.E.D. Album Is Gonna Be Classic" | Dr. Dre, Pharrell to Produce

Rapper B.o.B

B.o.B. -- "Nothin' on You" (F/ Bruno Mars)

Props to Yee & Crew

Meek Mill -- "Make 'Em Say" (Video)

Timbaland -- "Maniac" (F/ Keri Hilson, D.O.E. & Chris Brown)


Happy Turkey Day!

I Love Me Some Pie! Happy Thanksgiving!

Unlike last year . . .

I'm Thankful . . . to still have breath in my lungs.

I'm Thankful . . . for having shelter and food despite losing my job.

I'm Thankful . . . that my blog is getting some shine this year.

I'm Thankful . . . for my Ma Dukes. She cooked a mean-ass Thanksgiving dinner. Props!

I'm Thankful . . . for my friends -- at least the ones who are returning my calls and e-mails.

I'm Thankful . . . for my barber who gives me a discount on my haircuts.

And . . .

I'm Thankful . . . for my readers. Thank you for checking out Beats and Rants.

Happy Bird Day to everyone!

Thanksgiving Message from President Obama