Get On Down

UGK “Dirty Money” (Get On Down)

2020-03-20T19:52:29+00:00March 19th, 2020|

After the release of UGK’s third studio album, the wildly influential, and critically acclaimed Southern hip-hop classic Ridin’ Dirty, the duo of rapper Bun B and rapper/producer Pimp C took a five-year hiatus from releasing albums. This is not to say that the pair didn’t keep busy during their time away from putting out records; if anything some of their highest profile appearances occurred during this period. Through guest slots on now iconic tracks like Three Six Mafia’s “Sippin’ On Some Syrup”, and Jay-Z’s Billboard smash “Big Pimpin’” UGK managed to greatly increase their profile, and build even greater anticipation for a fourth studio album.

This album, titled Dirty Money, would arrive in November of 2001, after having been shelved by their label Jive Records since 1998. Across 14 tracks of syrup-soaked, drawling Southern hip-hop tracks, UGK stretched their creative chops and showed that in the five years since Ridin’ Dirty they hadn’t lost their step in the slightest. Bun B’s and Pimp C’s rhymes were free-wheeling, clever, and irreverent as they had ever been, while the production was classic Texas rap, courtesy of Pimp C and Southern hip-hop legend N.O. Joe, who shared production duties. Guest contributions from Juicy J & DJ Paul of Three Six Mafia, Big Gipp of Goodie Mob, Too $hort, Devin The Dude, and more helped bolster the duo’s codeine-drenched witticisms, over samples from the likes of BB King, Barry White, and The Staple Singers among others.

Riding on UGK’s newfound mainstream fortunes, Dirty Money managed a remarkable #19 debut on the Billboard 200 chart, as well as reaching #2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In spite of this, Jive failed to capitalize on the attention the duo was receiving; with a lack of promotion and marketing behind it the record left just as quickly as it had arrived. We at Get On Down haven’t forgotten this album’s greatness though; we now present to you this color vinyl reissue of Dirty Money, an under-appreciated and oft-forgotten relic of Southern hip-hop, one that has never before been committed to wax.

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Instant Vintage

2020-03-19T20:09:21+00:00March 19th, 2020|

Raphael Saadiq did not rest on his laurels after bringing his famed R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! to a close in 1997. In the coming years he was a highly sought after producer and session musician, leaving his mark on tracks by D’Angelo, The Roots, and Erykah Badu, and briefly formed the supergroup Lucy Pearl with Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and Dawn Robinson of En Vogue. After nearly a decade of working in the realm of New Jack Swing, Saadiq’s interests gradually gravitated towards the burgeoning musical subgenre of neo-soul.

2002 marked Saadiq’s debut as a solo act with the release of Instant Vintage, a record so titled to joke on the fleeting nature of pop culture. It proved to be an album many years ahead of the curve, with its singular focus on organic, instrumentation-driven soul. (With guest appearances from D’Angelo, T-Boz of TLC, Angie Stone, Calvin Richardson, Hi-Tek, and the South Central Chamber Orchestra, among others.) A record that foresaw the arrival of the neo-soul revival, and the mainstream success of nostalgia-mining artists like Amy Winehouse, John Legend, Mark Ronson, and many more.

Instant Vintage underperformed commercially upon its release, having the misfortune of being released at a time when pop audiences were more inured with the electro-infused sounds of The Neptunes and Timbaland. In spite of this the record was an absolute marvel to critics, who praised Raphael Saadiq’s shimmering sounds, and effortlessly warm reproduction of the classic 70s soul of acts like Curtis Mayfield, merged with a then modern neo-soul sensibility. Heavy praise from the likes of Chicago Sun-Times, The Village Voice, USA Today, and many more. Instant Vintage would also go on to earn a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album in 2003, and would be ranked as one of the Best R&B Albums of the 00s by Rhapsody.

In the nearly two decades since the album’s release in 2002, Instant Vintage has never been reissued on vinyl. Get On Down aims to change all that in 2020 with this sterling LP reissue, featuring remastered audio and an intricately re-created Gatefold sleeve of the original, enigmatic cover art.

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Big Pun “Capital Punishment” (Get On Down)

2020-03-13T20:34:42+00:00February 7th, 2020|

2020 repress. “Big Pun remains on the best rappers ever list to this day. Reasons for this weigh largely on his debut Capital Punishment. His commanding voice and rapid fire delivery make it clear there will never be another Big Pun. Pun was New York. His confidence on the mic made him stand out among his contemporaries. Similarly, the production — by a cast of many — remains ever so New York loyal. The close cousins ‘I’m Not a Player’ and ‘Still Not a Player,’ may have been the hits off this album but it is packed with so many more that show Pun’s true abilities. ‘Beware’ and ‘Dream Shatterer’ are great examples of Big Pun at his best, dark cinematic production with just enough room to let him breathe fire. On ‘Twinz (Deep Cover)’ Big Pun is trading bars with his mentor Fat Joe over a remake of Dr. Dre’s classic beat. Here Pun delivers one of his most quoted verses that contains among others ‘Dead in the middle of Little Italy little did we know that we riddled some middlemen who didn’t do diddly.’ There are numerous guest appearances, the best of which include afore mentioned Fat Joe (on several tracks), the Roots’ Black Thought on the MC showcase ‘Super Lyrical,’ Prodigy and Inspectah Deck on ‘Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy),’ and an extra-insane Busta Rhymes on ‘Parental Discretion.'”

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Deee-Lite ‎”World Clique” (Get On Down)

2020-03-13T20:34:42+00:00February 7th, 2020|

Sometimes a single is released that reaches such dizzying heights of success that it becomes a pinnacle of the decade they’re indelibly tied to. Groove Is In The Heart by dance-house trio Deee-Lite is one such single. The infectiously quirky, and eminently danceable track is prominently based around samples of Bring Down The Birds by Herbie Hancock, and Get Up by Vernon Burch, among many others, (Courtesy of dual producers DJs Dmitry and Towa Tei) paired with top-tier guest contributions from JB’s veterans Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley, background vocals from Parliament-Funkadelic’s own Bootsy Collins, and even a guest rap from Q-Tip, not to mention frontwoman Lady Miss Kier’s own siren-like vocals. All disparate and disconnected elements, but ones that would come together to form dancehall greatness, and chart-topping success worldwide for Deee-Lite. Groove Is In The Heart managed to reach #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but excelled at its best on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, where it reached to the #1 spot. On top of its success in America it was a smash internationally, climbing the heights of the charts in the UK, Canada, Australia, and a vareity of other countries. It remained in heavy rotation for much of 1990 on MTV as well. As the decades went on, Groove Is In The Heart would be ranked among the greatest dance tracks of all time, as well as one of the greatest songs of the 1990s by VH1, Pitchfork, Buzzfeed, and many more. Groove Is In The Heart was a potent single for Deee-Lite to lead with, but the album bearing it was nothing to slouch at either. The group’s debut record, 1990’s World Clique was released to major commercial and critical success, owing just as much to its addictive hybrid of seductive retro aesthetics, modern dancefloor flair, and esoteric, socially conscious messaging, on the back of celebratory club staples like Power Of Love, Good Beat, E.S.P., and of course Groove Is In The Heart. World Clique would reach top 20 charts in the US, UK, and Canada in sales, as well as earn rave reviews from NME, Chicago Sun-Times, Rolling Stone, and Slant Magazine, who called it an “essential pop album.”

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Deee-Lite “Infinity Within” (Get On Down)

2020-03-13T20:34:42+00:00February 7th, 2020|

Never Before Reissued On Vinyl! After the smash success of Deee-lite’s debut record World Clique, and their now-iconic dance club hit Groove Is In The Heart, anticipation was high for a follow-up from the New York-based dance music trio of vocalist Miss Lady Kier, and producers DJ Towa Tei and Super DJ Dmitri. For their sophomore record Infinity Within, Deee-Lite opted to venture in a different direction of sorts. The club-embracing disco-funk sounds and groovy vibes of World Clique were ever present,but while that record contained themes of global togetherness, Infinity Within took a more socially aware route, with politically charged themes of environmentalism, (To show their bonafidese, Infinity Within was one of the first titles to be issued in an ecologically friendly Eco-pak.) sexual liberation, voting rights, and critique of the juidicial system. Taking major inspiration from the ancient Chinese divination text I Ching, Miss Lady Kier would later explain that Infinity Within was a natural progression for the group, not a departure.

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Da Lench Mob “Guerillas In Tha Mist” (Get On Down)

2020-03-02T07:05:09+00:00January 23rd, 2020|

Deluxe green and orange splatter-colored vinyl “Possessing lyrics heavily focused on political and social justice, inspired heavily by West Coast gang culture and Islam, Da Lench Mob made waves throughout the hip-hop scene when they first appeared on the track ‘Rolling With Da Lench Mob’, off Ice Cube’s famed 1990 solo record AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Initially, the titular ‘Lench Mob’ of the track namesake referred to Ice Cube as well as the other participating rappers, but J-Dee, Shorty, and T-Bone would adopt the name for their own in time. Their standout appearance on the Ice Cube track would earn the trio critical interest, (as well as shout-outs on Ice Cube’s 1991 follow-up Death Certificate) and generate palpable anticipation for a studio album of their own. Guerillas In Tha Mist, their 1992 debut record, was recorded in the wake of the Rodney King riots, taking its name from infamous comments made during the riots. The record was uncompromising and confrontational in its depictions of urban decay and an unjust system wreaking havoc on an economically disadvantaged Black population. It was starkly realistic (bordering on abrasive) in the content of tracks like the armed revolution-advocating ‘Freedom Got An A.K.’, the kill-your-idols style of ‘You And Your Heroes’, and the anti-pusher anthem ‘All On My Nut Sac’. These harsh manifestos were made all the more smooth via Ice Cube’s jazzy G-funk and Bomb Squad-influenced production, which sampled heavily from classic songs by Parliament, Kool & The Gang, The Incredible Bongo Band, and even Vangelis. Cube himself would make guest appearances throughout the record, as well as an appearance by B-Real of Cypress Hill on the track ‘Ain’t Got No Class’. Guerillas In Tha Mist was a Billboard success upon its release, reaching #24 on the Billboard 200, and rendering rap radio hits out of its title track and ‘Freedom Got An A.K.’, but Da Lench Mob would fall into obscurity over the years, eventually going their separate ways after creative differences, financial rifts, and the life conviction of rapper J-Dee for suspected murder in 1993. Despite their loss of commercial fortunes, Guerillas In Tha Mist would develop a strong reputation as an unheralded gem among hip-hop heads, and would be considered one of the great lesser-known releases of the era among critics (in 2018 Complex would declare the title track as one of the 100 Best L.A. Rap Songs). Decades after its initial release, and in tribute to the memory of Da Lench Mob member Shorty, who passed in 2019, Get On Down now presents an exclusive LP reissue of Guerillas In Tha Mist, which previously was only released officially on wax in Europe. Remastered audio and a painstakingly recreated full color jacket.”

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Nas “It Was Written” (Get On Down)

2019-10-25T03:50:59+00:00October 25th, 2019|

‘Illmatic, the 1994 studio debut of Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones, was more than just a critical success for the Queensbridge-based rapper. At a time when East Coast hip-hop was increasingly being taken less seriously than their West Coast counterparts, Illmatic’s raw jazz and soul-based production, dire atmosphere and lyrics, coupled with Nas’ uncompromising flow was integral in restoring interest in the East Coast as a hotbed of hip-hop artistry. Along with key releases from Wu-Tang Clan and Notorious B.I.G., it shifted attention away from the funky, dayglo synth-based G-funk coming out of California and back to the grimy streets of New York. After such an unprecedented debut record, expectations were understandably high for Nas’ follow-up. What came next threw critics and fans for a loop, but was no less influential than Illmatic, and would become the most commercially successful album in the entirety of Nas’ discography. The 1996 sophomore follow-up was titled It Was Written, and in contrast to the urban bleakness of his debut, had Nas dipping his toes into the world of mafioso rap. Amidst production from heavy hitters like Trackmasters, Dr. Dre, L.E.S., Havoc of Mobb Deep, and Illmatic-collaborator DJ Premier, among others, Nas weaves evocative narratives of gang warfare, downtrodden neighborhoods, drug deals gone awry, and gangsta triumph, against a backdrop of samples from Sam Cooke, Etta James, the Isley Brothers, and even Chuck Mangione. It Was Written was not hard up for top-tier guests either, featuring major guest turns from Lauryn Hill and Joel ‘JoJo’ Hailey of K-Ci & JoJo. It also introduced the world to The Firm, the brief Nas-led supergroup featuring rappers AZ, Foxy Brown, and Cormega. It even managed to cause some minor controversy in the hip-hop community for its collaboration with West Coast producer Dr. Dre, at a time when the East Coast/West Coast rap feud was reaching a fever pitch, briefly attracting the ire of one Tupac Shakur. Not only was It Was Written received warmly by critics, but became a major commercial success, reaching the top of the Billboard 200 charts, reaching platinum sales status four times, and alongside albums like Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, helped usher in the era of mafioso rap in the mainstream. It rendered chart hits out of singles like the Eurhythmics-mimicking ‘Street Dreams’, and the Grammy-nominated ‘If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)’, and proved to be a major influence on artists like Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, and many more.”

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David Axelrod “Seriously Deep” (Get On Down)

2019-09-27T03:48:17+00:00September 27th, 2019|

“The rediscovery of the music of David Axelrod in the 1990s was a revelation to the scores of hip-hop and breakbeat DJs that sampled him, but his composition genius was on display as early as the 1960s. After producing and arranging major critical and commercial hits for Lou Rawls, The Electric Prunes, David McCallum, and Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley, he was encouraged by Capitol Records to record and produce solo material. Coming right on the heels of The Beatles’ revolutionary 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, Axelrod would produce a slew of instrumental baroque pop records, which were intricately orchestrated, fused elements of jazz, psychedelic rock, chamber music, and neo-classical, and tackled issues of mental enlightenment, environmental impact, and would be hailed by critics as highly ambitious pieces of conceptual art. The albums Song Of Innocence (1968), Songs Of Experience (1969), and Earth Rot (1970) are most often hailed as David Axelrod’s finest moments, but little is mentioned of the producer’s 1970s material. Among these records is Seriously Deep, his lone album recorded for Polydor, and an unheralded gem of jazz-rock fusion. On Seriously Deep, Axelrod dispenses with the heavily orchestrated measures of previous works to conduct a powerhouse crew of session musicians, including Leon Ndugu Chancler of Santana on drums, Mailto Correa on percussion, Jim Hughart on bass, Joe Sample on electric keys, and many others, with production from frequent Axelrod collaborators Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Bowen. Seriously Deep is an obscure release, but also one of David Axlerod’s tightest, and most exploratory ones. Across six tracks, Axelrod and his collective of players dip in and out of bounding jazz-funk, Afro-Latin grooves, cinematic flourishes, psychedelic synth washes, and blaring big band horns. It’s a singularly insular curiosity of musical impressionism that’s equal parts brooding and joyous, a definitive part of Axelrod’s discography, and a well of sample material for tracks by Mobb Deep, Large Professor, The Black Eyed Peas, and Beanie Siegel, among others.”

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Herbie Hancock “Dedication” (Get On Down)

2019-06-07T03:01:15+00:00June 7th, 2019|

RSD 2019 release. “Never before released on vinyl outside of japan. Packaged with a full-color obi-strip. Dedication by Herbie Hancock is an anomalous entry in the discography of the revered jazz-fusion keyboardist. The album was recorded over the course of a single day, in the middle of a tour of Japan at Koseinekin Hall in Tokyo, and for years would be available exclusively in Japan. Produced a month ahead of his 1974 studio album Thrust, the follow-up to his career-defining album Head Hunters, Dedication’s tracks were noteworthy for how drastically different they were from the material that followed. Gone was the dangerously funked-out rhythm section goodness of the Headhunters; instead Hancock is alone, performing four solo pieces on grand piano, electric keys, and synthesizer. Side one features Hancock at his most introspective, featuring romantic, ballad-like takes on two of his 60s pieces: ‘Maiden Voyage’, and ‘Dolphin Dance.’ Side two, on the other hand, is almost a polar opposite, utilizing early techno rhythms through Fender Rhodes electric keyboards, and the sample-and-hold features of the ARP 2600 synthesizer, rendering spacey, exploratory jams such as the original track ‘Nobu’, and an electro-funky take on ‘Cantaloupe Island’. (Two tracks which predicted Hancock’s eventual electro-funk dominance in the 1980s.) A unique and momentous obscurity of Herbie Hancock’s catalog, Dedication has never seen a vinyl release outside of Japan prior to now. Nearly 30 years later, Get On Down has sought to allay that, with a premium-grade Record Store Day reissue worthy of any jazz collector’s archives, or any crate digger’s armament.”

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Sisters Love “With Love” (Get On Down)

2018-11-09T15:48:36+00:00November 9th, 2018|

“Motown’s First Ladies of Funk finally release their vinyl debut, some 45 years after it was originally scheduled! As the ’70s dawned and Motown relocated to the West Coast, the era of their honey-toned ’60s girl groups came to a resounding halt. The Sisters Love were the antithesis of the traditional Motown group and came to the label from A&M, armed with a lot of funk, sass and attitude. Paired with some of Motown’s finest writers and producers – Hal Davis, Gloria Jones, Pamela Sawyer, Paul Riser and Willie Hutch – they got off to a rousing start with the gritty ‘Mr. Fix-It Man’ and went into high gear for the UK only release ‘I’m Learning To Trust My Man’. Motown had them playing arenas with The Jackson Five (probably not their smartest move!), issued the odd single and scheduled more but Sisters Love’s anticipated breakthrough didn’t happen. In 1980 New York DJ Danny Krivit pressed up an extended eight-minute re-edit of ‘Give Me Your Love’, an old B-side from a 1973 single! That song was somewhat of an underground classic but the Krivit mix brought in a whole new legion of fans amongst the rare groove crowd, both in the US and the UK. Sisters Love had long been rumored to have recorded a complete album for the Motown subsidiary MoWest. Get On Down Records combed the vaults with Motown’s help and the result is the original 10 cut album, plus a bonus cut, ‘Give Me Your Love.’ Although Gwen Berry passed away some years ago, the other three members of the group – Jeanie Long, Lillie Fort and Vermettya Royster have all been actively involved in this release.”

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Too Short “Shorty The Pimp” (Get On Down)

2018-10-12T16:03:32+00:00October 12th, 2018|

“Too $hort’s legendary 1992 effort Shorty The Pimp is back in effect on vinyl thanks to the hip hop preservationist at Get On Down. Though many don’t consider this to be one of Too $hort’s strongest releases, the project did move well over 80,000 in its first week of release landing at Number 6 on the Billboard Top 200. Taking the title from the incredibly rare 1973 Blaxploitation film, Too $hort does what he does best on Shorty The Pimp: funk beats, boastful braggadocio, a few conscious rhymes and layers of straight up pimp talk. The lyrical content can certainly be considered comical and entertaining. Shorty The Pimp is also a stand out project for producer Ant Banks who did many of the beats for the project, his first works with Too $hort with many more to follow over the next decade. Oddly enough, one of the best comments on Shorty The Pimp comes from a random guy on the internet who commented on his experience listening to the release, ‘I ran my car into a tree after listening to ‘It Don’t Stop’ Definitely made for cars with the booming systems!'”

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Compton’s Most Wanted “Music To Driveby”(Get On Down)

2018-09-14T01:30:19+00:00September 14th, 2018|

There are West Coast classics, and then there is Music To Driveby, the third LP from the group that birthed MC Eiht: Compton’s Most Wanted. Although the group started in the late ‘80s with multiple MCs (including Tha Chill and Boom Bam), by 1992 Eight was pulling the group’s vocal weight – supported by DJ Mike T on turntables and production – and even producing and co-producing tracks. Music To Driveby might lack beats-per-minute variety, but to fans that’s not a bad thing.

Across the board, this is mid-tempo, super deep, funky hip-hop, made for cars creeping along boulevards across the West and South, and it’s about as good as it gets for such purposes. Just about filler-free, the album struts intensely and with purpose, as Eiht throws tales of Cali street life at fans for an hour straight, almost without a break. This solo marathon is given a respite only once, with Scarface’s guest spot on “N 2 Deep,” an excellent hood roller supported by a soulful guitar lick sampled from Lyn Collins’ “Do Your Thing.”

Elsewhere, Eiht rolls alone and intensely, on cuts like the classic smash single “Hood Took Me Under”; the album’s second single and Tim Dog attack “Who’s Fu**ing Who?”; the hometown big-up “Compton 4 Life”; and hustle tales like “Jack Mode” and “I Gots To Get Over.” After this album, Eiht released more classics under his own name, and with similar fan worship. It was the continuation of a legendary career and Music To Driveby still ranks high on anyone’s “West Coast Legends” playlist.

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E-40 “Federal” (Get on Down)

2018-07-19T18:00:08+00:00July 19th, 2018|

“The development of hip-hop during the 1990s is partially indebted to the styles that were cultivated on the West Coast, more specifically in the state of California. When one thinks of the California hip-hop scene invariably the G-funk of Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Los Angeles comes to mind, but to ignore the equally impressive San Francisco bay area scene is a travesty. It was in this environment where Earl Stevens, better known by his stage name E-40, came up in and developed his following. Alongside regional staples such as Too Short, Spice 1, and Ant Banks, E-40 was among the first West Coast rappers to sign with a major label, and scored a Billboard-charting hit record with 1995’s In A Major Way. His flamboyant attitude, mixed with a driven, DIY spirit, would lead to further Billboard-charters, as well as collaborations with top-tier names of hip-hop, from California peers like Tupac Shakur, Too Short, and Keak Da Sneak, to underground legends like Tech N9ne, Bun B, and Danny Brown, to modern MCs like 2 Chainz, YG, and Juicy J, to even the company of comedy trio The Lonely Island. While E-40’s break into the mainstream came with 1995’s In A Major Way, he had recorded on numerous EPs and features, as well as a studio album through his own self-run label Sick Wid It Records. That studio album, 1993’s Federal, would also serve as his solo debut, and paint a picture of things to come for the bay area rapper. With it’s stark and aggressive sound, over top of beats that sampled classic funk and soul staples like Isaac Hayes, Sly & The Family Stone, and The Ohio Players, Federal put E-40s skills as an MC on full display, as well as promising things in the following years. Not to mention solid guest spots from his fellow Californians B-Legit, Kaveo, Little Bruce, and various others.”

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Lebrón Brothers “Llegamos/We’re Here” (Get on Down)

2018-07-19T18:00:10+00:00July 19th, 2018|

“The venerable Cotique existed at the juncture where Afro-Caribbean music met the rootsy sounds of soul and R&B that blossomed in the United States during the ’60s and ’70s. Some of the finest albums in the boogaloo and Latin soul genres were recorded for this label, including sessions by Joe Bataan, Johnny Colón and Larry Harlow. Cotique’s product was marked by a refined aesthetic and unerring good taste — consider Machito’s foray into R&B idioms on the Soul Of Machito LP. The label was also wise enough to invest in down-to-earth salsa, recording New York’s ultimate barrio orchestra, The Lebrón Brothers. The Lebrón Brothers celebrated their 50th anniversary in the business in 2016. Their career spans five decades of doing things uniquely and uncompromisingly in their way: making funky, gritty, streetwise and relentlessly swinging music that mixed Spanish lyrics, Latin tunes and English-language R&B/soul-oriented numbers. ‘Lebrón Brothers are the only other band (besides Willie Colón) to arrive during the boogaloo era and survive long after boogaloo was dead and buried,’ comments Ray Rosado, leader of Maña. ‘I believe that for these two bands, boogaloo was merely a means to an end.’ Originally called Angel Lebrón and his Orchestra in 1965 (co-founded by Puerto Rico-born brothers Angel on bass and José Lebrón on piano,) they changed their name to Lebrón Brothers at the suggestion of George Goldner (1918-1970) when they signed to his Cotique Records label during the peak of the 1966-1969 boogaloo craze. The eldest, Pablo Lebrón, sang Spanish lead vocals with the band until 1981 — when sadly, he suffered a stroke. Between 1967 and 1982, the band recorded 16 albums for Cotique, during which time brothers Carlos and Frankie joined on bongo and conga, respectively. The multitalented José and Angel wrote and arranged most of the material. Fania Records took over Cotique in the early ’70s and drafted star bandleader Larry Harlow to produce one of the band’s albums and Johnny Pacheco, the label’s co-founder, to produce another three. Reportedly, Fania boss Jerry Masucci (1934-1997) tried to persuade the Lebrón Brothers to replace Pablo with a younger, thinner white lead singer. Proud of their Afro-Boricua heritage, they resisted and were consequently excluded from major industry opportunities. Angel and José eventually took over the reins of production on the band’s 14th Cotique release in 1980, and Angel took the producer credit on the remaining two albums for the imprint (Frankie produced a one-off return to Cotique in 1998). ‘On all of their recordings, the coro is precise, the swing formidable and the message is both timely and seemingly prescient. That’s more than enough to make up for whatever naïveté one might observe in their recordings at first blush,’ says John Walsh, trumpeter with the Grammy Award-winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra, who began playing with Lebrón Brothers in the mid-’80s. ‘And then there’s the vibe. When they walk on stage, they made their presence felt: five or six of them, not one under six feet or less than 225 pounds!'”

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Group Home “Living Proof” (Get On Down)

2017-07-17T01:30:45+00:00July 17th, 2017|

Although they have been tragically defunct for almost two decades, the influence of Gang Starr is still felt today, almost as heavily as it was back in the 1990s, when DJ Premier and Guru ruled atop boom-bap mountain. As fans know, beyond the duo’s direct output, one of their lasting legacies was bringing younger talent to the rap world at large — including Jeru The Damaja, M.O.P., Afu-Ra and Big Shug. One of the more unsung talents that came out of the Gang Starr Foundation was the Brooklyn-based duo Group Home, consisting of MCs Lil Dap and Melachi The Nutcracker. Dap was first showcased on the Gang Starr posse cut ‘I’m The Man,’ on 1992’s Daily Operation; Melachi appeared on ‘Words From The Nutcracker’ from 1993’s Hard To Earn. The early Group Home song ‘So Called Friends’ was also featured on 1993’s now-legendary Gangstarr Foundation Sampler, which also gave the world Jeru’s ‘Come Clean.’ By 1995, Dap and Melachi had paid their dues and finally got their own full-length: Livin’ Proof. And it was everything that Gang Starr and any true school hip-hop fans could have wanted, produced almost entirely by DJ Premier (with two exceptions: ‘Serious Rap Shit’ helmed by Guru himself; and ‘4 Give My Sins,’ produced by Jay-Z mentor Jaz-O (aka Big Jazz). Beyond the album’s still-jocked commercial singles ? ‘Supa Star,’ ‘Livin’ Proof’ and ‘Suspended In Time’ — there are Premier-overseen classics all over, including ‘The Realness,’ ‘Inna Citi Life,’ and ‘Sacrifice.’ In fact, many Gang Starr scholars agree that the beats on Livin’ Proof are in the Top 5 of all Premier-produced albums — no small boast, but certainly hard to disprove. More than two decades later, the album still sounds as strong as it did upon its release. So dust off your turntable and give it another ride, back to the days when boom-bap was real, and ruling.

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UGK “Too Hard To Swallow” (Get On Down) 

2017-07-10T21:02:45+00:00July 10th, 2017|

Repressed; previously: impossible-to-get RSD 2017 release. “To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of UGK’s first album, Get On Down goes the extra mile, presenting it for the first time ever on vinyl. And 2-LP clear vinyl at that, giving the strutting, funky grooves the chance to really stretch out on your system. Back in 1992, Southern hip-hop was still proving to the world that it could sustain a fan base that was chiefly raised on rap from New York and LA. The Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew had made strong cases by the earliest ’90s, and Pimp C and Bun B were ready to make their own. Most of the trunk-bumping bass comes from drum programs and basic sampling on these tunes — in later years they would build their sound into something even fuller and deeper. Self-produced with additional work from Houston locals Bernie Bismark and Shetoro Henderson, the tracks here are minimal, slow and menacing, which matched their lyrical approach quite nicely. You can hear the beginnings of the group’s true greatness in these early lyrical workouts — several taken from the regional cassette-only EP The Southern Way that got them signed to Jive — with tales of street hustles, relationships and self-reliance in a world stacked against them. They may have been done early-on, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t crucial to UGK’s legacy — cases in point being the three singles: ‘Something Good’; a charismatic update to Bill Withers’ ‘Use Me Up’; and ‘Pocket Full Of Stones’ (the latter featured on the Menace II Society soundtrack). Beyond the singles, deeper cuts like ‘I’m So Bad,’ ‘Feels Like I’m The One Who’s Doin’ Dope’ and ‘Cramping My Style’ made it clear to the world that this crew had the attitude and charisma to make even bigger waves in the years to come.” Edition of 1000.

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Jurassic 5 “Quality Control” (Get On Down)

2015-08-09T00:06:15+00:00July 19th, 2015|

“In many ways, Quality Control is a product of its time. When it was released in June of 2000, the boom was cresting, the Y2K bug was a joke (not a threat), and the good times seemed endless. J5 were the darlings of 1990s “alternative” rap, and by the time they released this hotly anticipated full-length debut, they’d been toiling in the underground for nearly seven years. Decidedly, even defiantly, old school, Quality Control is a triumph of flow, unity, and positive vibrations–a cheerful party record that is a testament to the power of simplicity. Featuring four rappers and two DJs, it surges with a fresh, exciting, organic sound and boasts deft vocal interplay, soulful, straightforward beats, and the seamless cohesion of the two. Look no further than the Cut Chemist-produced title track, which glides across samples from ‘70s filthy funkster Blowfly and showcases J5’s trademark mix of group vocals and solo spitting. “The Influence,” produced by DJ Nu-Mark, is an anti-bling manifesto that borrows part of its melody from ‘50s jazz vocal group the Hi-Lo’s, of all people. “Jurass Finish First,” another Nu-Mark beat, cops a ‘50s snippet from West Coast jazzman Shelly Manne. Although there are a few “message” tracks, the album’s levity is its greatest asset.”

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