Archive for May, 2006

Q&A with Conscious / Conscious Mixtape


Concious

Neo Retro Spectro Grafiks Vol.1
Download (ZIP)

Tracklist
01. War Games
02. Hello: Co-Conspirators Intro
03. Type
04. Say Uncle
05. Dont Make Me Angry
06. Unorthodox
07. Getcha
08. Spinnin (feat. Thinker & L-Star)
09. Man Size Steps (feat. Thinker)
10. Audition
11. Scrub Handz (feat. Kaleal Crooks & Thinker)
12. Hotshots
13. King 45
14. Traffic NIggahs: The Title
15. Love 007 (feat. Tzo & Nixx P)
16. Yellow Cake, Yellow Cake

What we have here is an incredible mixtape compilation entitled “Neo Retro Spectro Grafiks Vol.1” from Free HipHop Now’s own Conscious. While he handles most of the verbal warfare, He got several hot underground MC’s involved in the project including Thinker, L-Star, Kaleal Crooks, Tzo and Nixx P.

I noticed that throughout the mixtape, Conscious refers himself as Travis Bickle. If you remember, Travis Bickle is the main character from Martin Scorsese’s film “Taxi Driver”. In the film, Travis was an depressed imsomniac war veteran who was horrified by the moral decay sorrounding him in NYC. Conscious steps into that mentality with a new millenium twist, via rhymes and beats. Conscious did alot of the production and invited some guest producers like Borgue on “Love 007”, I.R. Producer on “Traffic Niggahs: The Title” and Mark The 45 King on “45 King”. On 3 tracks, You got Conscious rhyming over MF Doom and De La Soul beats. Conscious’ production is reminiscent of Berdard Herrmann’s score for Taxi Driver. A variety of beats ranging from headnodders to lush, spooky grinding beats.

The CD officially has 16 cuts but upon listening, It technically has 22. I was digging alot of the songs on here. I like the way the tracks were segued from one to another via samples or a clever beat programming. “War Games” is an excellent mixtape starter with great beat shuffles. “Dont Make Me Angry” has a dope sample and Conscious name checks C Rayz Walz as a “Dope Bronx representative”. That’s word. “Unorthodox” has intricately chopped up beats… Madlib and Jaydee immediately come to mind on this cut. “Man Size Steps” speaks on the current state of the government and political affairs going on in America. What you will find on this mixtape and there is very few like this (for the exception of Dead Prez/Immortal Tech type stuff) is that you get a good grasp of social/political commentary immersed in the intricate rhymes from Conscious and his cohorts. Not all of the subject matter on this project is political but its a good balance to be seen in hiphop these days.

Back to the cuts… “Scrub Handz” has an interesting off beat production. It reminds me of Punish’s beat on “Headaches and Woes” by Aceyalone. “Hot Shots” has that ill filtered funk loop going on. This track has been getting alot of underground play in NY and CT, of all places. “Traffic Niggahs” is another dope banger with quality production from I.R. Producer. “Love 007” has a cleverly put Barrington Levy sample in the hook that ties it together with Conscious’ lyrics. Just when you think its over, Its not. Conscious delivers some words of wisdom and even Nixx P gives a quick shoutout to the listener before you are thrust into the hidden cuts of the project.

It’s a great compilation of Concious’ own music from the last 5-6 years, promoting the albums that are out and promoting the projects that are on the way. The homie is a rennaisance man, keeping busy on all angles of hiphop and life. Grab this mixtape. You will not be disapointed.
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Q&A with Conscious

Conscious was born in the LBC and spent his life living between the Bronx and Harlem. He currrently resides in the Bronx, near the Concourse in the 170’s. We caught up with him recently and chopped it up about his career, his views and other information. Check it out!

How long have you been Rhyming and Producing?
I’d say, on a professional level for about six years. Honestly though, I didn’t have much prep time before I started performing and getting paid to do so. The most I had was an open mic in Harlem, called the Suga Shack. When a lot of folks where getting there practice on at open mics I was hosting and performing at shows all over the tri state area.

How many projects have you released since you started?
Let’s see. My first record was Journal: An Eklektik Journey followed by Pagan: 1st Movement 1968. But even before then in like 2000 I had the priviledge of being on an album recorded live at the world reknown house of poetry, The Nuyorican poets Cafe. It was called “Urban Avant Garde: Live at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe”. I have another record called Vinyl Destination that I can’t for the life of me figure out why i have not released it. But I will. Matter of Fact look for it next month! there’s been a few mixtapes. I have a lot of projects that are near completion. Some outside the real of Hiphop.( Can I say that. Does a realm outside of Hiphop really exist.)

What motivated and/or inspired you to rhyme and produce?
I’d been doing poetry for a lil while but at the same time I was writing rhymes here and there. I found some real cheap software in like 98-99 that did nothing much but loop, it wasn’t very powerful, yet powerful enough for me to create and realize I enjoyed making new sounds. Ultimately, I stepped it up, did a bit of research on some programs that were a little more advanced and began to craft interesting and obscure sounding beats. Around that same time I was becoming acclimated with the current underground hiphop music of the time. There was the Black Star album back then and a lot of plays of De La’s, The Stakes Is High accompanied by Organized Konfusion and that first Lyricists Lounge tape. A few mixtapes from Fatbeats and listens to Stretch and Bobbito definitely inspired me to engage in this form of expression.

Name some of your favorite HipHop MC’s, Acts, DJ’s, Producers
I wish you’d have asked me about music in general. I love hiphop but I spend a lot of time getting aquainted with music from the past. But when it comes down to the question you asked, it goes a lil something like this… Mc’s on the line up… Common Sense, Sum Kid, Doom, Sadat X, Monch, but of course Ghostface, Redman ( you know the docs da name), De La Soul (All them kats). I’ve seen CL Smooth perform and murder a show. You got Wordsworth, C Rayz Walz (A bronx neighbor), J Live and D.V. Alias Khrist. Slick Rick is sick on stage! Kanye can do it up large on stage as well. DJ Spinna, DJ Babu, Q-Bert, D Spliff (Outtah NYC), Rich Medina, DJ Concept. Producers… Though he was much more then any ‘Producer’. Dilla, Jay Dee, Jay Dilla, Mr. James Yancey would have to be my favorite producer. Then we can talk about some of those dudes that these modern day listeners of hiphop don’t know, and even some oldschool heads forget to mention in blurbs about the creators of sound for dope emcees to rock to. Let’s talk about Large Professor and how he doesn’t get the mentions for not only being a dope producer but also that dope producer that spawned some of the great kats that people call their favorites.( I noticed i’m saying dope way too much) And the list begins with random names tossed out there like Diamond D, Dj Jazzy Jeff (who I should have mentioned as being a dope DJ as well because his technical skills on the 1 and 2’s are immaculate, whether on real wax or Serato.) I hear Kev Brown, I hear 9th Wonder at times. But I also hear RJD2, ?uest Love, EL-P, Belief. I am one of my favorite producers as well. There’s kats you don’t know and haven’t heard of like Adam Bomb. ( Dude is simply ridiculous.) Of course Pete Rock, DJ Shadow, Mathmatics. I would be a fool if I did not include RZA aka B-B-B-Bobby Digital. I have to stop now because there’s just far too many to name.

How did you come up with the name Concious? Is there a meaning behind the name?
Simple as it gets. In highschool I learned about stream of conscious writing or freewriting. I describe my so called ‘style’ as just that, freewritten rhymes, poetry, production and the visual work I do follows that ‘formula’. Let’s call it the ‘Unformula’. ( Wow, there goes a new album title.)

Anyway when I signed the open mic list, I signed as Stream of Conscious. And why not it was my writing style. But after a couple of years I decided to drop the stream of portion and just go with Conscious. And that’s not Konscious or Conscience either. I think that some people sturggle with coming up with a name for themselves. I didn’t have to. It should come to you easily or it should be given to you. It’s not all that deep.

What are your thoughts on the current state of hiphop?
Well Hiphop in some ways reflects the state of the world. Right now that state is confused, conflicted, volatile, erratic, angry, blind, stubborn, selfish… You know what it is. But also there’s quite a lot of great things happening. You just gottah look for’em. You can’t decide that things exist as they are presented to you in media. There’s more to what those controled oulets privide for your eyes. The responsibility is finding out more yourself or being one with information that shares it. I think I kinda answered your question. I don’t like when I get asked that question.

What is Free HipHop Now all about?
Well. Educate Entertain & Empower. Free Hiphop Now means Free Your Mind! The site is basically a portal to various forms of information, new music, art and culture. We intend on exposing those looking for new content to articles and such they will not see anywhere else. Syndication online is also great but we pride ourselves in at least making the attempt at giving folks a choice of something new. All we’d like to honestly do is give people access to more information that can benefit them even in the smallest way. If you’re tired of the same album reviews and interviewers asking the same predcitable questions to the same handful of artists over and over, you can check out FHHN for something fresh. We also encourage writers of vairious level of experience to submit content. We intend on reaching as many people as possible online and off. There will be future FHHN events in NYC. I specify now, They Will Be Awesome!

Where can people find out more about you and Free HipHop Now?
Hmmm. It shames me to say check out my personal website because I need to rework it. But check it out anyway. www.conscious.freehiphopnow.com, My blog www.consciousme.blogspot.com and of course the ever popular myspace page which I’ll be updating music on frequently. I have a lot of music. A whole lot of music. www.myspace.com/conscious. I have a blog called Growing Money Trees that I need to toss a new article up on. It’s basically a blog about making money online. Some hints and tips and an occassional million dollar idea tossed at anyone that is willing to work at it. There’s the whole www.consciousbootleggers.com online store that is functional but steadily being worked on to provide customers with better service. FHHN’s sydication blog is for anything you may have missed during each week on FHHN. And it’s also for the pieces or music that is not direct content from our site. Anything we may have covered for affiliates. www.freehiphopnow.blogspot.com (You asked so I’m telling and the list of links is a long one.) I’d be a crazy person not to mention some of my fam. Kats I build with and create music and at times perform with. You can check out www.bluecollarllc.com where you’ll find a few different artists, some of which I’ve done production for.. I’m all over the place doing my best to take advantage of the web. I have video up on Video Google, You Tube, Myspace, Live Digital, Vomeo, Revver, The Crave, Video Bomb.. the list is long. And then there’s the ringtones. Do a search for Conscious on www.zingy.com and you can get some more over at www.decentx.com. I’m rocking www.jaskclothing.com gear. You can see me in their store catalog and some flicks on my myspace page. Man if you wanna dig deep you can even find me in the IMDB for the flicks I’ve been in. But I’m not telling you my government name. Good Luck with that.

Haha! What advice would you give to cats coming up in the hiphop game?
Respect the art. Love the music. Enjoy the interaction with the people involved. Educate yourself on business and strive for not so much perfection but try and push the envelope with everything you do. Set standards for this thing that we do. Don’t get cuaght up in someone elses ideas either. Stick to your guns and do you. We don’t need anymore clones. We have enough!

Any last words:
Saturday May 27th. I’ll be performing at the Knitting Factory NY. Download that free mixtape and stay posted for Eklektic Gardens releases in the future and for those already in digital distribution channels,(iTunes and so forth…) Thank you Audio 1 for even thinking that I was worthy enough to be exposed to the world.

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Frankie Cutlass needs You and You and You


Frankie Cutlass

You and You and You (feat. Sadat X and Redman)
Original Mix
Original Remix
KD’s Party Mix
from You and You and You 12″ (1996, Relativity)

Bonus: Mambo Remix

The powers of this thing we call MySpace. I ran into Frankie Cutlass recently on MySpace (Add Him) and got to chop it up with him for a bit. Its good to see him still doing his thing out in NYC. Original Party rockin’ joints like “Puerto Rico” made him an infamous icon all over the place. Before that, He was choppin’ up beats for a bunch of rappers. He laced Akineyle with”Fuck You for Free”, Fu-Schnickens “Sum Dum Munkey (Remix)” and even Tito Nieves “I Like It like That (Hip-Hop Mix)” which was played everywhere… Dude has some serious history, even joining Funkmaster Flex’s Flip Squad (God I miss the old Funk Flex). Speaking of Funk Flex, DJ Spinbad slaughtered Funk Flex on that diss track thats been floating around. haha!

Back to the post… I was diggin the other week and had this joint out of the crates. It’s been a while since I heard this. It took me back to Senior Year @ Hayward High, Lunchtime BBoy sessions in the gymnastics room with the boombox with beats. You got Frankie Cutlass on the production tip doing what he does best and he invites the 2 dope mic slingers of the time, Sadat X and Redman to do what they do best. The original mix is hella cool with Sadat X. The Remix has Redman on it… My favorites are the KD’s Party Mix, which gots the Method Man “Set It Off” loop at the intro, Old R&B sample over the track and the bongo’s over Redman’s verse. I also like the Latin House version. We used to play that at the house parties mixed with some old Armand Van Helden, CLS, Boriqua Bros and even freestyle from Angelina, Jocelyn Enriquez, Buffy and Lina Santiago. (Where’s my old freestyle/latin house heads at?). Anyways. Enjoy these joints. Imma dig for some more classic flavors from Frankie Cutlass. More classic flavas coming your way from the Broke BBoys family.

-Audio1

p.s.
We are looking for contributors to Broke BBoys. If you got any artists you’d want to write about, email us and let’s make that happen. We welcome our site visitors to contribute. Comments are now open to the public. Just click on the number next to the topic title. Feel free to leave us some shouts, feedback on the material we’ve been featuring on the site, whatever is on your mind.

Breeding the Midwest


MC Breed Reppin Da Flint Crew

Better Terms
Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin
That’s Life
from MC Breed & the DFC (1991, Ichiban Records)

Before hooking up with The D.O.C. and Too Short, MC Breed repped Da Flint Crew. Originally from Flint, Michigan, they put the Midwest on the map when “Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin” went gold. Breed kept the formula simple for his debut album with music about getting a job, ghetto realities (That’s Life), and partying. His voice somehow reminds me of a mix between K-Rob and Tone Loc.

Watts Fire, Watts Poets


Poetry that kills

Excerpt 1
Excerpt 2
Celebration
What Color is Black?
Pain
There’s a Difference Between a Black Man and a N_gger
Response to a Bourgeois N*gger
from The Watts Prophets: Things Gonna Get Greater, Watts Prophets 1969-1971 (2005, Water Records)

Enter the Watts Prophets. I think it is too simple to say folks like the Watts Prophets and Last Poets can be regarded as the direct roots of Rap music aesthetic. For one, MC’s setting off a party and poets inciting revolution are two different goals. We can’t deny the influences, especially during the Afrocentric era, but what links these two movements–Black Power and Hiphop–together is the struggle to become that voice for communities on the margins–whatever the message. Black Power poets of this generation defined the future politics of Hiphop later manifested with artists like Public Enemy, NWA, X-Clan.

The story of the Watts Prophets’ formation follows the flames of the 1965 Watts Riots. The Los Angeles region of Watts had a long thriving Black Arts movement in the tradition of Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman. The Watts Writers Workshop would be started in 1966 by a progressive Jewish Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg. From here, Amde Hamilton, Otis O’Solomon, Odie Hawkins, Richard Dedeaux would meet to craft and perform their pieces. They would later add Dee Dee McNeil, a Motown Contract songwriter, who conducted most of the music accompanyment on their first album, Rappin Black in a White World. By 1975, an FBI-counterintelligence agent had burnt down the Watts Writers Workshop which included a brand new theater and all remnants of the scene.

From hearing these pieces, there is no question that music and politics today is a far cry from the justified Black Rage and urgency the Prophets articulated. This isn’t your normal friendly theatrical spoken word group at your local bougie coffee shop. What you get is a first hand listen to the conflicts, critiques and tensions within the Black Community and rage against systematic White supremacy.

You might recognize the “rapping blacks/facts” chant on Excerpt 1 sample from Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb. Excerpt 1 is made up of the opening pieces–Sell Your Soul/Take It/Instruction/Amerikka. Excerpt 2 opens with Richard Dedeaux’s “Freedom Flames” as it segways to the question of defining “What is a Man”.

In “There’s a Difference…& Response…”, we get the critique of the growing Black middle class. The Black Power movement came at the height of questioning the issue of Integration or Segregation. Adding to the charged content, the Prophets created dynamic stimulating pieces: the clanging chants of “Pain” hitting like hard steel or the ticking alarm clock of linking Blackness beyond skin in “What Color is Black?”

Though timeless as they are, let’s hope one day pieces like these won’t sound so relevant. And yes, if you haven’t found out by now I am one of those folk who believe you can’t talk about race without power so any future arguments of “what if these pieces were white folk talkin wouldnt that be racist” please spare them. Because when that happens, there is an OBVIOUS balance of voices and systems in full effect as we speak (anyone hear Bush talk today?)

-BoogaLeo

blogger’s note: Thanks to Jeff Chang for the info provided in the album insert.

Also, my posts after Sat will becoming less frequent as I will be in New Orleans for a year-long AmeriCorp Fellowship program. So my goal is to whip out as much music as I can until then, so bear with me. Thanks for your constant support and I will be contributing as much as I can out in NOLA. peace.

SKEETER RABBIT, REST IN POWER!

I truly regret to announce that Skeeter Rabbit, of the pioneering Electric Boogaloos, has died today.

The Popping Community right now is in a complete state of shock. Skeet has mentored and influenced so many around the world. I will always remember him as one of the most approachable OG’s I ever met. I just saw him last year in Orlando….
He will truly be missed.

More clips of the late pioneer courtesy of everyone at the Mr. Wiggles Message Board

DX from the BX returns


Sadat X

God is Back
Come On Down (Remix) ft. Money Boss Players
Help Yourself
Why Don’t You
from Experience & Education (2005, Female Fun Music)

Whattup,

Amongst lookin for a job, rallies and random trips in DC, I’m coming off of this unexpected hiatus with some new stuff finally! Anyways, what’s up with this Sadat X album? Released on Female Fun not too long ago.

Entering the mid 2000s, post-Brand Nubian, post-afro-centric era, this album reflects basically Sadat X after all those movements and is an extension from that. The album is laced with notable underground favs–Money Boss Players, Edo G and Madsol-Desar, as well as hot production from DJ Spinna (God is Back) and the P Brothers (Come on down). Most of the album is on some chill vibes as Sadat reflects where he’s been throughout his long career. Enjoy.

-BoogaLeo

(extra props whoever can guess the DX reference)

HAWK R.I.P.

Rapper and Screwed Up Click member Big Hawk was shot and killed last night (May 1st 2006) in Houston, Texas. Big Hawk, born John Hawkins, was struck multiple times around 10:30 pm in front of an associate’s house. Sources said Hawkins’ car was still running when he was shot and according to police, no one witnessed the shooting.

Big Hawk became popular as a member of the late DJ Screw’s pioneering group, Screwed Up Click. Big Hawk’s younger brother, Fat Pat was murdered in 1998. Big Hawk recorded with such rappers as Lil’ Flip, Lil’ KeKe, Big Moe and was featured on Lil’ Troy’s hit single, “Wanna Be A Baller.” In 2000 he released Under Hawk’s Wings, on Dead End Records. Big Hawk leaves behind a wife and two children.
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