Ever since I Came From Nothing 2 came out there’s been a single tiny office inside my brain with one little clerk patiently yet diligently searching for the follow-up to “Keep In Touch“.

Young Thug – Keep In Touch

It’s not that it’s my favorite Thug track ever or that it’s even a crucial song-type that he needs to master to round out his oeuvre, it just stuck out so much on that tape that’s so full of cacophonic wildness that I couldn’t help but hold out just a shred of hope that he’d make another song with that special kind of carefree playfulness usually reserved for Biz Markie or Fatlip.  Behold!  And over a Temptations sample no less.

Young Thug – No Games

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Today I was sitting listening to my $1 copy of Going Steady reading Steady B’s Wikipedia wondering how he’s serving life without parole for a murder he was only the getaway driver for when I heard a groovy little guitar lick that I recognized from my distant past.

Steady B – Anyway U Want It

It took me way too long to put it together, but eventually it came to me.  How could I forget!

The Notorious B.I.G. – Just Playin’ (Dreams)

I think it didn’t come immediately to mind because “Dreams” wasn’t an album cut and back in the day when I was listening to a lot of Biggie I wasn’t venturing too far outside of official album material, even from artists I really loved.  Despite this misguided tendency, I still acquired this single on wax at some point, probably as an add-on to save money on shipping for some other eBay record purchase, so it was a song I only heard when I played it out someplace, unlike the hours spent on Ready to Die and Life After Death.

Now you don’t have to be a prodigy-level sample spotter to guess that the original is probably some “Hot Pants“-era James Brown track, and you’d be right, but don’t stop the search there!  Dig a little deeper into those memory banks and and recall the man who beat both of these dudes to the “Blues and Pants” flip, and arguably out-raps them as well.

Geto Boys – Scarface

For a bonus, in case you’ve become hypnotized by 12 minutes of the same one-bar loop and are now having withdrawals, check out “Announcement“.  The video had me flashing back to the now thoroughly creepy Picture Pages in a big way, and with all the recent discussion of rap ghostwriting I can’t help but wonder if a certain Shawn Carter might have played a role in Pharrell’s verse… and if so, why didn’t Common do us all a favor and follow suit?

Common – Announcement (feat. Pharrell)

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This weekend was the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco and I had the pleasure of serving up many many hours of artisanal wild-crafted soul records from the mezzanine DJ booth.  Three days, 7 hours a day, no rap (family event).  It’d been months since I last did a set like this and I found myself laying eyes and fingers on records I hadn’t even thought about since I moved out of Oklahoma.  Here are 5 choice cuts that I had completely forgotten existed but are newly resurrected in my musical mind after this DJ marathon.

Joe Tex – I Gotcha

Stevie Wonder – Purple Raindrops

B.B. King – The B.B. Jones

Baby Ray – Just Because

Funkadelic – I Bet You

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My first visit to Park Blvd. Records was all over the genre map; Atlanta bass, Bay Area gospel, yogic chant.  On that first sojourn I made it a point put my hands and eyes on every record in the store to get the fullest picture of their offerings and purchased something from almost every bin.  This time I was with a friend who didn’t have hours to waste indulge “diggin’ in the crates” (as the kids don’t say anymore), so I confined myself to the rap bargain bin and came out maybe even better off than the first time.


Gigolo Tony – Ice Cold (LP)

JT the Bigga Figga – The Mack Hand

Kurupt – Behind the Walls (feat. Nate Dogg)

Webbie – Savage Life (LP)

Mac Dre – It’s Rainin’ Game

2Pac – Who Do You Believe In?

Janet Jackson – All For You

The Click – Let’s Side (EP)

Jermaine Dupri – Money Ain’t A Thang (feat. Jay-Z)

T&A – Definitely Dope

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After growing up in a place where the only active music scenes were Christian and hardcore (or hardcore Christian), it’s so refreshing to live in Oakland where the rap scene is not just currently active but has roots that are older than I am and split in all kinds of unexpected directions.  Sure, before moving here I knew the essentials: E-40, Too $hort, B-Legit, Spice 1, Lil’ B, and maybe a couple others, but living here for the past three years has exposed me to so many more and with each new discovery my desire to rep the Bay in any kind of rap discussion grows.  Thanks to The Martorialist I’m now heavy into Nef the Pharaoh, the Jacka’s untimely passing has caused me to delve deeper into his (and other lesser-known Bay Area artists’) music than I ever did before, Noz put me on Turf Talk last year, the list goes on and on.

Today I got another addition to that list when SergDun posted a photo of his copy of Game 2 Be Sold by the Fairfield duo E.Z.S.D.  I wasn’t sure if it was just an interesting Bay Area rap oddity (G Funk from Fairfield?) or if it was a truly solid album at first, but he assured me that it was “easily” better than Snoop’s album of nearly the same name (which is a really good album) so I had to see what the deal was.

Serg was not bullshittin’.  Besides having maybe the funkiest rap song ever recorded and some of the thickest bass of the 90s, there’s one unusually upbeat track with a prominent sample that made me want to dig a little deeper.

E.Z.S.D. – Money Makin’ Genius

Turns out it’s a flip of a moderately popular disco/funk track from 1980 by the group that arguably beat Sugarhill Gang to the first rap record spot.

Fatback – Gotta Get My Hands On Some (Money)

I admit it’s not the most mindblowing revelation to hear the original in relation to the sampled version, “Gotta Get My Hands On Some” isn’t exactly the deepest, rarest cut by any means and its treatment by E.Z.S.D. is great but nothing revolutionary.  The really interesting thing about it is its connection to a very different song that is primarily a masterful reworking of “Geto Boys and Girls” but also has a little sprinkle of Fatback as it turns out.

Z-Ro – Eyes On Paper

Add this to the list of corny 80s songs that you’d think Z-Ro would be embarrassed to be associated with; he did the same thing with “Cherish the Day” on “Respect My Mind“, with “True” on “Continue 2 Roll“, with “Holding Back the Years” on “Rollin“, with “Outstanding” on “Still Standing“, and the goofiest was when he turned “Ring My Bell” into “Bring My Mail“.  I’m glad I’ve got one more example of this strange penchant of Z-Ro’s for turning thirty-year-old cheeze into SLAB gold, and I’m glad I’ve got the Bay (and Serg) to thank for it.

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Thanks to The Martorialist’s hyper-vigilant coverage of Nef the Pharaoh (and his lil’ homies), I’m beginning to appreciate one of Vallejo’s newest and most exciting young talents. I started at the beginning with his 2010 #iamNEF mixtape (that Datpiff claims was released in 2013 but evidence to the contrary abounds in the music itself) and was pleased to find it much more worth my effort than digging through Bloody Jay’s back catalog (which provided some interesting rap precedents but not a lot of enjoyable music).  Not only was the overall quality very high but I got two excellent additions to this recently very active series.


Nef the Pharaoh – Def of B.A.D.


Nef the Pharaoh – Freestyle



Today I made my first pilgrimage to Oakland’s newest and already greatest music store.  Here’s what I walked away with.

Kilo Ali – Organized Bass (LP)

Bootsy Collins – Ultra Wave (LP)

The Mossie – Break Bad (feat. E-40 & Levitti)

E-40 – Big Ballin’ With My Homies / Earl, That’s Yo Life (Test Pressing!)

DJ U-Neek – California Streets / Eastsider / Doctor Doctor

Funkadelic – Uncle Jam Wants You (LP)

Suga Free – You Know My Name

Jungle Brothers – Straight Out The Jungle (LP)

Eloise Carey – Channel of God’s Love (LP)

Paramahansa Yogananda – Chants and Prayers (LP)

Don’t worry there are still other good records (and tapes and CDs) there.

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Years & Years – Memo

When those government people finally decided that the gays could file their taxes together in this great country I wanted to post a song to celebrate but then I remembered that rap is still mostly on the wrong side of that particular issue.  IM GAY is a little obvious (and he’s isn’t), Zebra Katz and Le1f and Big Freedia are kinda fun I guess but don’t really express what I’m feeling about all this, and just posting some vaguely/accidentally homoerotic rap song seems a bit juvenile for this momentous occasion.

Instead I’ll post this because it’s about uncertainty and secret love and I’m happy that every child born after today in America won’t have to know a world where you can’t marry the person you love just because you have matching genitalia.  Hopefully this decision will help “lift this curse” that’s hung over too many lives for too long.

[Shouts out to David Drake for turning me onto this because I never would have listened to these people if a rap journalist hadn’t recommended it.]



When I wrote about Tree & Chris Crack leading the rap vanguard over the cliff into formlessness I didn’t really think the era of rap’s version of free jazz (“free rap” sounds too much like a cheap poster board sign I’d see at the mall around Christmas… “Chaos Rap”?  “Loose Rap“?  “Disarrap”?) was truly at hand.  Justiiice and Satchel Stokes are causing me to reconsider.  It’s a shame Ornette won’t be around to see it happen, if it does.

Justiiice – Coldest Summer’s Mine (feat. Satchel Stokes)

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I think Bloody Jay is tryna troll me from the not-so-distant past right now – while time travelin’ through his back catalog after The Dark Night surprised me so pleasantly I found out he’s not only has his own entry in the Blood, Sweat, Tears” rap canon, but he beat both Looni and Thugga to the “Up, up, and away!” rap lyric by a long shot.

Bloody Jay – Blood, Sweat, N Tears

Bloody Jay – Super Hero

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