Mello Music Group to celebrate ten years with 'special' re-releases • Word Is Bond

Over the course of 2018-2019, to celebrate their upcoming tenth anniversary, Mello Music Group will be releasing special Audiophile Editions of their classic titles. The Mello Signature Series will be pressed on double LPs, limited to 300 copies of each title, on 180 gram black vinyl, with special gatefold packaging, including liner note stories from Mello about the creation of each title. Available exclusively at Fat Beats.

Limited to 300 copies of each title, on 180 gram black vinyl, with special gatefold packaging, including liner note stories from Mello Music Group about the creation of each title.

So for the first release, they’ll be unleashing Diamond District‘s (Oddisee, X.O., yU) 2009 release of the In The Ruff album, which is scheduled for a 11/9 release, but pre-order is now available.

In 2009 Mello Music Group had released just four records (101, Mental Liberation, New Money, and Black & Read All Over). Diamond District “In The Ruff” was the fifth record and the first to garner national attention. It was the moment we felt like a bonafide record label.

Oddisee had crafted a brilliant group album that was timely in multiple ways: a DMV album riding the appeal of HBO’s The Wire that had just concluded its fifth and final season; giving the album away free first in a time when people still looked at you funny for even having a free song; and touching on the nostalgia for golden era Pete Rock, Marley Marl style sounds and Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul styled groups. The record was an indie hit. “Streets Won’t Let Me Chill”, “Who I Be”, and “I Mean Business” all struck chords as singles, but the album itself was a complete front to back masterpiece helmed by Oddisee who produced, arranged, mixed, mastered, and rapped on the whole thing. yU offered philosopher king’s poetry to the album, while Uptown XO brought the street sensibility to the project. iTunes named it to their best rap of 2009 list. NPR included the vinyl on their best of 2009 along with calling the trio a DC Supergroup. In a time of Blog Supremacy, OkayPlayer, 2DopeBoyz, NahRight, and Potholes In My Blog pegged the record as a best of. For myself, a Little Brother mega-fan, Phonte’s praise rang loudest.

The entire music world felt open after “In The Ruff” laid a concrete foundation for Oddisee and Mello Music. The new audiophile edition of course made sense to do with Fat Beats who put out the original vinyl edition with us. The cover art from J. William Washington, aka Brutha Brub is as iconic today as it was then, highlighting the DMV (Maryland, DC, Virginia) map that shaped the album’s sensibility and sound. After almost a decade of being out of print, we are excited to present the new 180g audiophile edition as part of the Mello Signature Series.

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Black Moon's 'Enta Da Stage' 25th Anniversary Show at SOBs! • Word Is Bond

In the words on DJ Evil Dee (linear notes):

“This album was done on blunted terms. Anyone who is offended by the contents of the album, FUCK YOU. Nuff said.”

In the 90s, Black Moon was basically EVERYTHING hiphop fans wanted to be like.

The idea of having huge crews in your music videos was something unheard of until Black Moon stepped on the scene. Despite the main people involved can be at least 3-5 on average, you wouldn’t have known that especially when you see at least 20-30 heads in one music video. The west coast artists wasn’t doing that in music videos at the time.

Black Moon’s debut album Enta Da Stage will be turning 25 on the 19th of this month. To celebrate their quarter-century-old album, they’re having a celebration over at SOBs in New York, with the help from Move Forward Music & Funk Flex on the decks. Tickets are now available for purchase.

This album alone introduced to the world the Boot Camp Clik.

It also did a lot for Buckshot, 5ft, and DJ Evil Dee – who saw their early beginnings in high school. They eventually linked up with Mr. Walt and dropped this album on Nervous Recordings in ’92 (Walt & Dee are brothers who became infamous on the production as Da Beatminerz). First single came from this album was ‘Who Got Da Props?’ All the while, Buckshot was trying to get people to take him seriously as a manager at the age of 18 – under being 5’6. He met Dru Ha at the label and the two formed a management company called ‘Duck Down Management’ – which later became Duck Down Records. For Buckshot, it was a really hard time for him personally.

When they dropped the video for the single in late ’92, what was to follow in the later years was unexpected: the fashion sense of dressing in baggy clothes and the 6″ boots; the idea of having more than 15 people as a part of your crew in your music videos (as stated above), the grittiness in the rhymes – especially the location of the music videos to match, the overlaying of jazz samples and production being dark (thanks to DJ Evil Dee) and – the term ‘backpack rap’. In this video, Buckshot, 5ft, and a few others are the more notables that are wearing them while wildin’ out.

“Booming like a speaker with my 100 dollar sneakers
Baggy black jeans, knapsack, and my beeper…”

They’ve dropped four singles, but two of them have been came hits – Who Got Da Props? and ‘I Got Cha Opin’ (remix). The remix itself was given life with a video (above), new lyrics, and new music – everything that the original didn’t have.

That changed in 2013 when Eminem remade the original, titling it Don‘t Front. It was him paying homage to the crew that showed him love during his early beginnings, which in turn let the world know who he would’ve signed to if he didn’t sign with Dre.

According to AllMusic‘s Vincent Thomas (at the time), this album played a huge role in re-emergence of NY street hiphop, setting the precedence for the west coast dominance to end.

“It set the tone for much of the hip hop to follow. Biggie Smalls suicidal thoughts and Noreaga’s boisterous thuggery both have their roots here. The album marked a turning point in hip hop.”

Even though the album was huge in popularity, the sales unfortunately didnt match, selling a little over 350,000 copies. Despite that fact, it’s still one of the most prominent hiphop albums of today’s time, again – opening up avenues to albums like Nas’s Illmatic, Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers, Biggie’s Ready To Die, Mobb Deep’s The Infamous, (and so forth) to ‘enta da stage’.

Congratulations to the crew that heavily influenced NY rap in the 90s, and happy 25th!

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The Killuminati Conspiracy Theory Continues (part 2) – Suge J Knight • Word Is Bond

A little over eight years ago, one of our older writers wrote this compelling piece that got folks talking about Tupac Shakur speaking about the Illuminati. The difference was that the opinion piece took the opposite position that most people was taking. The end result was it became one of our most read (and retweeted) articles that year.

So in between then and today, two years later Afeni Shakur goes after Death Row Records for the second time (which ends up getting bought by eOne) because they breached the contract about getting paid in royalties and getting unreleased music. According to her, she was owed about seven figures. In 2016, Shakur died from a heart attack, and her legal representatives took over the suit. Five years later – and a few days ago – the estate won their case with getting the unreleased music, but not as much money Shakur sought to get.

Suge Knight was once considered as one of the most dangerous men in the industry running Death Row. From all the stories that guests have spoke about on VLAD TV, you can see understand how he has a stronghold on a number of those who worked at the label. Knight got into some serious trouble with killing Terry Carter at a music video shoot, and a few days ago he gets sentenced for 28 years behind bars.

Knight’s son (who also carries his name) decides to drop a loaded bomb that reignites the rumors that Pac is alive and well. There have been theories in the past that he’s living in Cuba, but according to Knight,s son, Suge – he’s alive and breathing in Malaysia, and he’s been kicking it with a few heads of today’s music industry.

According to Suge’s instagram posts, it seems like now he’s being targeted.

Considering all that has happened, why did he decide to bring this questionable theory back into the public conversation – after it has been dead for so many years? Whether or not this ‘idea’ of him being alive and older (as seen in these pictures) has yet to be seen as accurate, the fact that there’s an actual corpse that was seen by many should be enough to put this whole idea to rest.

What about the authenticity of these pictures? Who has taken them? Why are they now being in the public eye, and no one else has seen them? In the comments from the pages, fans are even questioning if they’re even photoshopped – and why the hell are they blurry?

And what about these … ‘sightings‘? And also, didn’t Pac die in the arms of a cop trying to save him?

This whole ordeal shouldn’t have been brought up without any credible sources. Unless one or a couple of people are willing to come to the plate and say that this is actually real, and have more recent pictures that doesn’t look like they’ve been washed up with waterpaint, then the conversation should be laid dead to rest – just like Pac.



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Tupac Shakur's Estate Awarded Unreleased Music & Royalties • Word Is Bond

The estate of the late Tupac Shakur has recently settled a five-year-lawsuit with Entertainment One (eOne) – who purchased Death Row Records a few years back.

According to TMZ, the estate has filed documents earlier this week stating that the two sides came to agreement to settle. Sources that knew about the deal made known that there was a six-figure payout made that will go to the estate, and that there’s a bunch of unreleased music from Pac that will be given to them.

The music that will be given to the estate will include more than enough master recordings for at least two albums, and probably enough music for at least three albums.

‘Pac’s mother, Afeni Shakur sued Death Row back in 2013 over royalties owed to the late rapper. At the time, according to her, she was owed seven figures. When she passed away in 2016, her lawyers took over the lawsuit.

As of yet it is unknown when all of this is supposed to take place.

 

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Mac Miller tribute concert taking place on Halloween in Los Angeles • Word Is Bond

An all-star cast will pay tribute to the late Mac Miller at the end of the month at the Greek Theatre. The cast will include those who Miller collaborated with in music, friends, and associates in music.

The “Mac Miller: A Celebration of Life” concert will feature acts like Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Childish Gambino, Travis Scott, Vince Staples, and more. They will help bring the house down on Halloween night, while assisting with the launch of the Mac Miller Circles Fund (MMCF).

Miller passed away last month from a drug overdose. He has struggled with substance abuse in the past, and even spoke about it in his music. For example, in his song Self Care’ from his newest album, Swimming, Miller referenced his DUI and arrest back in May, ‘That Mercedes drove me crazy, I was speedin’ / Somebody save me from myself, yeah / Tell them they can take that bullsh– elsewhere / Self care, we gonna be good / Hell yeah, they lettin’ me go.’ In the music video for the same song, he carved the words ‘Memento mori’ into a lid of a coffin – which in latin means ‘remember you have to die’.

Miller was set to go on a 26-day tour towards the end of this month in San Francisco, but that got cancelled following his unexpected death.

Tickets for the tribute concert started selling today via MMCF.



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Little Brother reunited at Art Of Cool festival over the weekend… • Word Is Bond

For their first time in almost 10 years, Little Brother got back together for one night at the Art Of Cool‘s 5th festival event in Durham, North Carolina.

According to the city’s twitter page, they managed to make the reunion happen a few hours before the show. Initially, 9th Wonder was the only member out of the trio that was on the bill (95 Live w/DJ Spinderella), but no one expected Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte to appear as special guests.

The group hasn’t released anything since Leftback in 2010 (sans 9th), and (as a trio), Getback since 2007 – which the world saw Pooh and Phonte part ways from their longtime producer.

Phonte has been the only person that spoke on the possibility of an LB reunion in the past. Speaking with Andreas Hale back in March, he wasn’t for it at first, but when the passing of Phife Dawg happened – and witnessing The Revolution reunite for a show in Minneapolis ( w/o Prince [RIP]), he then reconsidered it while reflecting on the idea in a separate interview during The Combat Jack Show.

“There’s one thing to say that I have the option to not do this,” said Phonte. “I can either take it or leave it,” he said. “It’s another thing when that option no longer exists. So, it definitely made me think a lot about wanting, if nothing else, to just put a period at the end of the sentence, to end it properly.”

There’s no new update on what this surprise will mean going forward for them.



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Fat Beats Returns To Los Angeles • Word Is Bond

On Saturday, September 22nd 2018 Fat Beats Los Angeles reopened its iconic doors. 

Fat Beats closed its doors in Los Angeles back on September 19th, 2010. The New York location closed down earlier that same month. For many, the closure of Fat Beats marked the end of an era. The record store being closed left a tremendous void in the city. Fans no longer had that go to hub for celebrating Hip-hop culture. Fat Beats was a place where music was pushed to the forefront, you could discover new artists and see incredible live performances on any given night.

Thats why when it was announced that Fat Beats would make its return to LA, the Hip-hop community spread the good word like wildfire. House Shoes had a particularly great post on his Instagram about the grand opening of the new store.

The grand opening was incredible, two of our Word Is Bond team members George and Eric were able to attend. So many pillars of the Hip-hop community in LA were there to show support. The lineup up of performers was special as well. The lineup included the most talented beatsmiths and DJs from the likes of DJ Rhettmatic, Dibia$e, House Shoes, Ras G, Exile and DJ Babu. One after the other, these talented artists spun dope records that had the new store packed to the brim with fans. Check out some photos taken from the grand opening of Fat Beats below.

Exile went on at 7:15PM and had one of the best sets because he brought along a handful of special guests. Most notably, he brought out his longtime partner Blu. After his surprise performance with Exile, we had the opportunity to speak with Los Angeles legend Blu.

When asked about what Fat Beats meant to him, Blu shared his nostalgia associated with the record store.

“The record store was the source. It was the source, it was where everybody touched down at. We used to come by bus and ditch school to get to Fat Beats. That was way back in the days and we’re glad Fat Beats is back! Plus we don’t have to ditch school anymore haha.”

Blu went on to discuss what performing at the grand opening of Fat Beats was like.

“It feels good, it feels really good man. Exile brought us out and had us here as special guests. We’re honored to be here.”

Blu also shared some information about future events and shows at Fat Beats from him at the Dirty Science crew.

“We have some new records coming out with Fat Beats. So we are definitely looking to do more in-stores in the future.”

DJ Babu arrives to spin around 9PM for his attendees. The Beat Junkie turntablist decides to play some new music from his upcoming projects that will be available through Fat Beats, such as a 45″ series, the fourth installation of Duck Season, and Super Duper Duck Flips. Before he starts his set, he takes people back in time to when he discovered Fat Beats in New York, and how he and the rest of the Junkies eventually worked for Fat Beats when it opened for the first time in LA. The opening of the LA store happened 6-8 months after Babu and Fat Beats founder Joe Abaijan (aka DJ Jab) initially met.

According to Babu, he went to his first DMC battle, and somehow he heard about the record to store that took over the space over the Beatles’ old shoe store. He and the Bay Area legend DJ Shortkut went to go pay the store a visit.

“And so I walked in and they’re playing my DMC battle tape on the TV,” Babu said. “And my man Joe was behind the counter and was like, ‘Yo, Shortkut, Babu… what’s up,’ and it became like family ever since.”

Abaijan acknowledged that the resurrection of the store was important to his team and the community. Ever since the store closed, the element of even having a great store that was dedicated to the hip-hop community, went along with that, too. The idea of an underground community nowadays seems to fall on ears of those who have apparently been unaware.

“Hip-hop has all these different meanings, but there’s a void of all the good stuff that’s (kind of) not being pushed,” Abaijan said. “There’s an underground community that’s really big but people don’t know about it.”

When the store was open back in the ’90s, it was for the meetings of the minds. Customers would either come in and shop, or even just hang out and listen to dope music that would be playing by the DJs that worked there. Abaijan hopes that this element of the experience will also return to today’s crowd once they step into the store.

Plans to reopen a store in New York aren’t currently in the works. For Abaijan, the possibility of a chain opportunity has to be reasonable.

“I wouldn’t go open a store in New York,” Abaijan said. “But if the situation presented itself that makes sense, there could be one there.”

Talks among the attendees were nostalgic when it comes to the memories of their past experiences at the store. Now that the store is back and running, more memories are expected to be made.

“Congrats Joe, we’re glad to have you back,” Babu said.

Contributor Eric Soul



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Lauryn Hill responds to Robert Glasper's 'stolen' comments • Word Is Bond

Lauryn Hill responds to Robert Glasper’s comments that she stole music from ‘The Miseducation…’, a claim that were made on Houston’s 97.9 The Box a few weeks back with a statement. She wanted to respond right after her debut solo album’s 20th anniversary date passed.

In the statement, she addresses a number of things, such what it was like for her to work with new musicians, Robert Glasper, old rumors, and her live performances.

“-The Miseducation was the first time I worked with musicians outside of the Fugees who’s report and working relationship was clear. In an effort to create the same level of comfort, I may not have established the necessary boundaries and may have been more inviting than I should have been. In hindsight, I would have handled it differently for the removal of any confusion …  I may have been inclusive, but these are my songs.”

She goes on to address Glasper..

“-I’m confused as to why such a principled musician, who thought I ‘stole’ from his friends, would show up to work for me anyway. If that was hypocrisy or opportunism instead of genuine interest, it would further explain why an artist would feel the need to put his or her guard up.”

“Who are you to say I didn’t do enough? Most people are probably just hearing your name for the first time because you dropped MINE in an interview, controversially. Taking nothing away from your talent, but this is a fact.”

A couple of weeks back Glasper appeared on Houston’s 97.9 The Box and spoke on a concert he was going to be a part of with another artist. Towards the end of the interview (around the 30 min. mark), Glasper spoke about his career taking a turn in 2005 (when he got signed to a label) and he had denied his service to a number of artists – one of them happened to be Hill.

The interview continues to go on with Glasper talking about his experiences in dealing with her. He goes on explaining how some of his friends got their music stolen from her.

A great number of people who were following this story on twitter didn’t know this happened –  which caught so many people off guard.

Glasper’s reference was in regards to a 1998 federal lawsuit against Hill, her management, and the label by the band called New Ark, who says she “failed to properly credit them for their work.” After a nearly 3-year battle, they’ve settled out of court, with New Ark walking away with $5M.

In celebrating her album’s 20 year mark, she performed on a number of dates that were scheduled. Back in July, she cancelled a number of shows right after fans in Toronto were disappointed with her 45-minute set after arriving to perform late, according to Exclaim.

Tour dates are still ongoing.



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RBMA: Engineering the Wu-Tang Clan's '36 Chambers' Album • Word Is Bond

A little over a week ago, the Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) did a segment called ‘Mixing & Mastering’ which gives you a closer look at the last stages of recording a project. They’ve covered a number of artists, one of them in particular, is the Wu-Tang Clan and their debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).  RBMA’s Phillip Mlynar has caught up with the engineers behind the project and gave their take on how it all came together.

The 36 Chambers album was put together at a studio called the Firehouse in Brooklyn, which was owned by Yoram Vazan. It was called the Firehouse because it was stationed in an old fire station on Dean Street before moving to Manhattan. It was the home of many hiphop legends like MC Lyte, Guru, Das-EFX, and even the cousins RZA and GZA (who were going by Prince Rakeem & The Genuis) who cut their solo demos there to eventually get signed to Tommy Boy & Cold Chillin’ Records.

Unfortunately the labels dropped them, which on the flip side helped them form the Wu.

“We’re gonna show everyone they were wrong,” Vazan recalls RZA telling him. “You’re gonna hear the new style now: this isn’t Rakeem, it’s RZA, the RZArector!”

READ: Engineering The Wu-Tang Clan.

 



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DJ Muggs Announces New Album, releases single with MF DOOM & Freddie Gibbs • Word Is Bond

DJ Muggs has just announced a new album called ‘Assassination Day’, which is scheduled to be released August 3rd through his Soul Assassins imprint. The album itself will feature a “chapter” concept with a number of emcees.

For example, MF DOOM has a two-song “chapter” with one of the collaborative tracks featuring Freddie Gibbs (as the first single, which you could hear below). This “chapter” of the MUGGSxDOOM concept will be released next Friday, June 29th. You can already pre-order the vinyl now.

According to Madlib’s website, Assassination Day “is a thematic album with a vigilante concept where hip-hop takes corruption head-on, figuratively killing off powerful evildoers in positions of power as the story unfolds.”

Soul Assassins Records will be releasing a limited vinyl of 1000 pressings (already being sold on the website) of the two-song project between Muggs & DOOM. A portion of that (300 copies) will be distributed with colored vinyl packages and will include an exclusive Kool G Rap’s remix of “Corona” and also two unreleased instrumentals by Muggs.

In addition to this, there will be 300 handmade copies that will be sold on Rappcats, packaged in five unique screen-printed jackets. The other 300 will be sold in Europe via HHV. The last 100 will be sold at a pop-up event at Rappcats HQ in Los Angeles (Highland Park) next Saturday, June 30th. The event is free, and it’s from noon-6PM, so be sure to arrive early!

Listen to the song ‘Deathwish’ below. Also, check out the preview to the animated video, which will be out Tuesday.



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