jay funk + norm skola: “jerry turner”

Here’s a new song from one of my all-time favorite Baltimore MCs, Norm Skola, alongside and over a track by one of my all-time favorite producers, Jay Funk. Baltimore folks over the age of, let’s say, 28 will certainly remember Jerry Turner (second from the left in the photo above, circa 1976) as an anchor on WJZ Channel 13, along with the equally popular and locally iconic Al Sanders. This beat feels like a breezy late summer day, with rhymes to match. Enjoy.

al great: “the take”

photo by kelly connelly

Al Great has released The Take, the follow-up to last year’s The Heist. This effort is another solid one from this very talented and prolific Baltimore MC. There are a bunch of guests on here, and they all fit the flow of the project nicely. There’s something Nas-and-AZ-ish in the lyrical back and forth Of “Give and Go”, with Duce Wayne. Another standout is “Is It Really Me”, which samples one of my favorite groups, Love Unlimited Orchestra. Daysia Starr does a wonderful job singing over the hook. (As with other songs I’ve heard her on, she does not over-sing–which is kind of rare and very appreciated these days.)

Production on The Take is shared by Heist and E. Hill, whose styles of production are somewhat similar. One beat that really stood out to me was “Blinders”. The song features Suffolk, VA’s Jet Noise Cardi, who does a fine job with it, but it’s Al’s flow on this one that made me rewind–the aggressive flow isn’t one I’ve heard much from Al, but he does it well.

Click the cover (with artwork by @raggsman) below for a free download of The Take.

kokayi: “roxtar”

Kokayi has released the first single off his forthcoming, highly-anticipated-by-me-especially Robots and Dinosaurs album. “RoxTar” finds Kok name checking a slew of rock bands in a characteristically clever way. The original “thrash” version is heavy and aggressive, while the “bounce” version has a more pep-in-your-step, head-nod feel. QN5 also has the instrumental and acapella versions of the song available online, so if the spirit moves you to make your own remix, the ingredients are there for your taking. I’m really looking forward to this album.

“sands on sports”

Interest in hip hop and sports often overlap, so the first time I saw J. Sands’ Sands on Sports videos, I thought to myself: what a clever idea.  Since starting the videos less than two years ago, Sands (an MC/producer probably best known as one half of Lone Catalysts) has produced and uploaded almost 60 episodes, in which he combines interview segments with his own commentary on current topics in the world of sports. Guests have included Pete Rock, Del the Funkee Homosapien, Kev Brown, Black Milk, Roddyrod, and many, many more (most often fellow hip hop artists). Sands’ knowledge coupled with an easy-going enthusiasm really makes for entertaining viewing.

Check out the latest episode, featuring Jeru the Damaja, then scroll down for a quick Q&A I conducted with J. Sands.

How did you come up with the idea to do the “Sands on Sports” videos?

Well, I am a super sports fan, so I figured since I am around all these interested people I might as well do something constructive with it.

How do you decide upon guests for the show?

It depends who I am around on the road or if an artist is coming through the DMV, so really convenience decides the guest.

Are there any artists you really want to interview who you haven’t been able to yet? If so, who?

Aw there are so many hip hop artists, Nas…I don’t know…I want to get at them all eventually.

Of those you’ve interviewed, who have been the most knowledgeable about sports?

I would have to say Mr. Lif, Phife Dawg, and Sen Dog. [note: the Sen Dog interview is complete, but not yet available online.]

How do you keep up with everything going on in the world of sports?

Well it’s 6:30am right now and I have Mike and Mike blasting through the house, so I always listen to sports talk radio, watch ESPN a lot.  It’s nothing I have to go out my way to do because my mind and ears are always tuned in to the sports world.

I know you’re a Steelers fan, but you live in the Baltimore area now, so how do you think the Ravens are looking this year?

The Ravens are going to have a tough season with the loss of Stallworth. I think if they do make the playoffs it will be a wildcard.

What is your all-time favorite sports-related memory?

The Steelers winning the Super Bowl against the Cardinals… Santonio Holmes catch…CLASSIC!

dirt platoon: “pennsylvania avenue” video

Dirt Platoon is one of my favorite groups in Baltimore to see live, but I don’t think I’ve ever really had any of their recorded music. Tom Delay, who produced this track with R. Taylor, sent me the link to this video for “Pennsylvania Avenue”, which features notorious former drug kingpin Melvin Williams. The song, as the title so clearly suggests, is about Baltimore’s famed Pennsylvania Avenue, a westside thoroughfare with a rich history. Little remains of the active cultural scene that once thrived there, but the Pennsylvania Avenue is still an area abounding with Baltimore’s unique character. This song and video–both with a bit of a rugged 90s underground feel, without looking or sounding dated–capture it well. The video was directed by Profitt Prod.

skarr akbar: “ventilation” video

I ran into Profitt at Best Buy yesterday. Profitt is one of the more prolific artists in the Baltimore hip hop scene–it seemed as if every time I used to run into him at shows and such, he had a new CD to give me. More recently, Profitt has been trying his hand at video directing, and I guess he is just prolific by nature, as he told me yesterday that he has done nearly 70 videos since he first started doing them less than a year ago. He clearly has the eye for it, as evidenced by what I think is his best work (although I haven’t watched all the others), the video for Skarr Akbar’s “Ventilation”.

The gritty black and white video lends the perfect complement to Skarr’s introspective, slightly gloomy track. Check it out:

To see more of Profitt’s video work, visit his YouTube channel.

miscellany…

Looking through my old myspace blog just now, I had forgotten how much I used to post. It was fun to re-read stuff I hadn’t looked at in years.  (If you have any interest in taking a walk down part of my memory lane, click here.)

photo by kelly connelly

E Major released his new mixtape today. I’m downloading now–if you’d like to do the same, click here.

( I had previously posted these photos on myspace–just wanted to add them here, as well.)

Mullyman: “She Hurtin’ Em” Video

Check out this new video from one of the hardest working MCs in Baltimore, Mullyman.  Directed by Tabi Bonney, the video complements the song well, with its hyper-quick edits. Check back soon for photos from Mully’s most recent video shoot for “Step Aside”, a new song with DJ Booman and Jimmy Jones.

the black sunn: “godsound”

i’m posting this–the black sunn’s recently released album, godsound–much later than planned. but you know what i say (far too often, probably): “better late than never!”

i haven’t spent a whole lot of time with this album yet, but i am again impressed with black sunn’s thoughtful lyrics and ear for beats. check it out here.

(cover photos by yours truly. toot, toot!)