Category Archives: Rap

THE SHAWN J. PERIOD COLLECTION

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To this day, The Backpack Rap Collection is the second most popular compilation ever released on Uggh…Nice Watch. It’s an era that inspires a lot of nostalgia amongst those who came of age in the period between 1995 and 1999. Producer and songwriter Shawn J. Period’s jazzy, futuristic beats were a central part of the burgeoning backpack rap movement, until he disappeared from the game at the peak of his prominence.

Shawn, whose real last name is Jones (hence the J. Period), was a native of Richmond, Virginia who started a rap trio called Down South after moving to NYC in the early ’90s. The group signed to Big Beat/Atlantic in 1993 under the tutelage of A&Rs Rob “Reef” Tewlow and Stretch Armstrong. Their debut, Lost in Brooklyn, was a flop, but Shawn’s talents as a producer did not go unnoticed. Between 1995 and 1997, he was recruited to contribute music to high profile releases by Da Bush Babees, Artifacts, DJ Krush, Mad Skillz, Heltah Skeltah, and his most famous collaborator, Mos Def. Shawn produced both sides of Mos’s debut single, and the two teamed up on Black Star’s album the following year.

At some point in the late ’90s, it seems as if Shawn accepted God into his life, and things started to change. Soon he was feeling conflicted about working with artists who used profanity, and started to rethink the his reliance on using samples in his music. “Even before I accepted [God], I was conflicted,” Shawn told Practice Video Magazine in 2004. “I’d go and sample a loop—it’d be a one bar loop, and I’d put some stuff on top of it. Then it’s like, ‘Ahh, you don’t need to clear that, it’s too obscure.’ But always, my morality came in.”

Around 1998 he stopped using samples altogether, and leaned on two tools that he was less experienced with: synthesizers and live instrumentation. The results were mixed, as he tried to develop a stripped-down MIDI jazz groove, a bit like an underground answer to Swizz Beatz’s Casio loops. He produced a few memorable records during this period, like Mos Def’s “Body Rock,” but his sample-free sound lacked the richness of his pre-1998 work. By 2000, Shawn had effectively dropped out of the industry to focus on family.

He started periodically popping up again around 2005, working on the occasional jazz fusion instrumental or Christian rap album, but Shawn has yet to stage his big comeback in the secular rap game. Regardless, his catalog is an impressive and interesting listen. Revisit 30 of Shawn J. Period’s best compositions by downloading or streaming the Uggh…Nice Watch compilation…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + LINKS…

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THE HOWIE TEE COLLECTION

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New York City had no shortage of marquee hip-hop producers in the late ’80s and early ’90s, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Hitman Howie Tee a.k.a. Howard Thompson often gets overlooked when discussing the golden era’s key composers. Best known for creating stars like Chubb Rock and Special Ed, Howie was instrumental in paving the way for the new wave of hip-hop that took hold of NYC in the mid-to-late ’80s. Queens had Marley Marl, and Brooklyn had Howie Tee, the borough’s biggest name brand producer at this pivotal time.

After getting his first taste of the industry in 1983 as a DJ, keyboard player, and producer for electro rap group CD III, Howie stuck close to fellow Flatbush natives UTFO and Full Force. The crew were were suddenly thrust into the spotlight when “Roxanne, Roxanne” inspired the “answer record” meme of 1984, and Howie became the DJ sidekick/producer to Full Force’s new female rapper, The Real Roxanne.

Howie developed a fruitful relationship with Roxanne and UTFO’s label, a burgeoning independent called Select Records. Thanks to his work with Select throughout the late ’80s, including classics for his cousin Chubb Rock and Flatbush teen Special Ed, Howie ushered Brooklyn hip-hop out of the old school drum machine era and into the new world of multi-layered funk and jazz samples that would epitomize hip-hop’s golden era.

He realigned himself with Uptown Records in the early ’90s, where he achieved massive crossover success with R&B group Color Me Badd and signed another Flatbush teen, Little Shawn. His clout faded in the mid-’90s, but Howie’s indelible influence on hip-hop had already been made. Experience his underrated catalog with this compilation of 30 Howie Tee bangers…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + LINKS…

THE DJ PAUL & JUICY J COLLECTION


For the last decade, hip-hop has been dominated by a sinister 808 sound that’s weaved its way through crunk, trap rap, and everything within their orbits. Sadly, Memphis duo DJ Paul & Juicy J don’t get enough credit for helping to develop and popularize this aesthetic in the early-to-mid ’90s, despite all their fame and noteriety as the core members of Three 6 Mafia.

As producers, they took Southern club music from the celebratory spasms of Miami and New Orleans to a dark place, both thematically and sonically. Starting in 1991, their underground mixtapes, both solo and together as Triple Six Mafia, expanded on the ominous promise of “Triggerman,” creating a local sound that M-Town could call its own. By throwing gangster rap and horrorcore influences into the mix, they were instrumental in creating the first hardcore Southern rap sound east of the Mississippi.

They rose to national prominence in the wake of No Limit’s success, signing a distribution deal with Relativity Records for their label Hypnotize Minds. I’ll never forget listening to 1997’s Chapter 2: World Domination for the first time in the dorm room of a high school friend from Memphis, and being blown away by how weird it sounded to my East Coast ears.

In the 2000s, their music got bigger, goofier. They won an Oscar by producing a bad song for a good movie about a pimp. They had a pretty entertaining reality show on MTV. But through it all, they deserve credit for staying true to their core sound in a way that few successful hip-hop producers have. They’ve rarely produced for artists outside their circle, they’ve never signed an R&B artist, and they’ve never really strayed from the gritty gangster rap that they came up on.

Simply put, DJ Paul & Juicy J planted an important sonic seed that spread out everywhere across the South. Without them, there would be no Drumma Boy, there would be no Shawty Redd, there would be no Lex Luger. DJ Toomp and Lil Jon might still be making Miami-style bass records if the Triple Six had never come along. I combed through the archives to assemble this compilation of my favorite works by Paul and the Juice Man. Enjoy…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + DOWNLOAD LINK…

THE PERRY COLLECTION


Korean pop music is everywhere these days, but my own introduction to the genre came in 2000 when various college friends exposed me to the era’s K-Pop hitmakers, who are now considered “old school.” Amongst all the sappy ballads and cheesy boy bands, the music of YG Entertainment always stuck out to me, particularly the group Jinusean, who completely floored me with their 2001 album The Reign. I didn’t need to speak Korean to appreciate the big, neck-snapping beats that gave the duo’s hip-hop drenched LP its distinctive sound. I soon discovered that an artist named Perry, who rapped on several of the LP’s tracks, was also the producer responsible for creating its music.

Although he’s one of the most influential figures in modern Korean music, Perry Borja is not Korean. A native of Modesto, California who was raised by Chammorro immigrants, Perry was exposed to the burgeoning West Coast hip-hop scene in the ’80s before relocating to his family’s native country Guam as a teenager. It was there that he began making music with high school friend Noh Seung-hwan (a.k.a. Sean), who would serve as Perry’s introduction to the Korean music scene after his group Jinusean became the marquee act for veteran Yang Hyun Suk’s new label YG Entertainment.

In the early ’90s, the notoriously traditional Korean music scene started opening up to modern Western music, thanks to pop groups like Seo Taji & Boys (of which Yang Hyun Suk was a member) incorporating elements of hip-hop, alternative rock, R&B, and house into their songs. When Yang started his new label YG, hip-hop became the focus, and Perry became his go-to hitmaker, cranking out 12 stellar albums in 5 years for a variety of artists (including his own solo album). It’s remarkable to hear how effectively he injected the aesthetic of hardcore American hip-hop into YG’s early music, which quickly established the label as one of the “big three” Korean record companies.

Over the last decade, Perry’s output has gradually decreased, as he has evolved into more of a mentor to the new generation of YG hitmakers. But he should be honored by all for pushing the boundaries of Asian pop and helping hip-hop find a home in modern Korean music. Enjoy my compilation of Perry’s best…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + DOWNLOAD LINK…

THE E-A-SKI & CMT COLLECTION


In addition to Battlecat, another slept-on West Coast producer who deserves to be in the funk hall of fame is E-A-Ski, an Oakland native who’s been making classic records with his partner CMT since the early ’90s. Best known as the original hitmakers behind Spice 1 and Master P’s California years (Ski released his solo debut on No Limit in ’92), the duo created some of the most memorable records of the ’90s, including smoothed-out gems for Suave House artists like Mr. Mike and g-funk hits for West Coast icons like Kam. After a few quiet years, Ski & CMT popped up again in the hyphy era with a new sound and a string of hits, including The Team’s “Moe Doe.” For 30 classics from their indisputable 20-year discography, download The E-A-Ski & CMT Collection…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + DOWNLOAD LINK…

THE TRACKMASTERS COLLECTION


Aside from Puffy, Poke & Tone were the most villified producers of the ’90s, synonymous with rap’s jiggy era after co-producing “Gettin’ Jiggy With It.” But their discography reveals more hip-hop and R&B classics than crossover cheese, beginning with singles from Chubb Rock, Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane in the early ’90s. Tone (a.k.a. Red Hot Lover Tone) released two solo albums, while Poke linked up with Puff Daddy to co-produce a ton of early Bad Boy/Uptown classics, from Mary J.’s “Be Happy” to Biggie’s “Juicy.” But the Trackmasters name really became infamous to most rap fans in 1995 and ’96 when they produced the majority of both LL Cool J’s Mr. Smith and Nas’ It Was Written.

Golden boys in the golden era of New York rap’s glossy makeover, their reputation as hitmakers was unparalleled by the end of the decade. They started to move away from samples in the early ’00s, and things were never quite the same. Their attempt to bring Jay-Z and R. Kelly together on The Best of Both Worlds turned out to be a debacle, and in 2003 they were perhaps unfairly branded “the guys who missed out on 50 Cent.” Remember the good times with my mixtape of 30 Poke & Tone classics…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + DOWNLOAD LINK…

THE SALAAM REMI COLLECTION

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Today, Salaam Remi is the guy who flies down to St. Lucia to work with Amy Winehouse; he’s the guy who executive produced the Sex & The City soundtrack, for god’s sake. But in the early ’90s, he first made his name as the man to see if you wanted to fuse hip-hop with reggae. In fact, his work with Bobby Konders on Super Cat‘s “Ghetto Red Hot (Remix)” arguably kick-started NYC’s whole obsession with rap/dancehall fusion.

The son of studio musician and producer Van Gibbs, Remi started out playing keys on Kurtis Blow records in the mid-’80s. After stints co-producing records with Konders, Marley Marl and Funkmaster Flex, he gave The Fugees their first hit record (“Nappy Heads (Remix)”), and crossed over to the mainstream with his massive reggae-pop hit “Here Comes The Hotstepper” by Ini Kamoze. In the last decade, he’s continued his mainstream success as both Nas and Amy Winehouse’s most reliable production partner—he’s produced so many records I love, I had a hard time narrowing this one down. I compiled 35 of my favorite Salaam Remi-related songs for one of this week’s Uggh…Nice Watch releases…

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TRACKLIST + DOWNLOAD LINK!!