On this date in 1985, James Todd Smith better known as LL Cool J, dropped his first full length LP on Def Jam Records. Primarily produced by Rick Rubin besides “I Need A Beat”, which was produced by DJ Jazzy Jay, Radio was a pivotal LP for not only LL and Def Jam, but for an evolving Hip Hop landscape that had just seen the rapid decline of b-boying and jams in the park. This was also the era in which the crack epidemic hit the streets and all of the major players used LL Cool J as the prototype image of how a hustler is supposed to look.
Songs like “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and “Rock The Bells” dominated airwaves as well as influenced other artists of that time period with his braggadocios content and virtually forceful delivery. The song that actually got Cool J the deal with Def Jam, “I Need A Beat”, was written and recorded when LL was only 15 years old, making him not only Def Jam’s first solo artist, but also their youngest.
Salute to Cool J, Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons, Jazzy Jay and everyone at Def Jam from that era that help put together this timeless classic!
On this day in 1992, gangsta rapper turned actor/filmmaker Ice Cube released his most successful solo album The Predator. Released months after the 1992 Los Angeles riots, this album follows the same tone that existed in Ice Cube’s music from his solo beginning; Black power against any form of oppression. Although the album was very graphic, it still had great reception among the commercial audience, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart (despite his blatant diss of the Billboard editor on the album’s title track) and selling 193,000 copies in its first week.
The mood of this album was set by the era of violence that was going on in Los Angeles, California. Every song has an element of the type of violence that was going on in the hood between and against Black people incorporated through interludes or references. Even his more peaceful tracks have an air of criminal paranoia about them. Regardless, The Predator is still slightly toned down from his prior two releases AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate, which you can by the titles more outwardly push the militant mindset that Ice Cube has as a recording artist.
This album also toted two #1 rap singles, “It Was a Good Day” and “Check Yo Self”. “It Was a Good Day” is to date Ice Cube’s most successful single. The track peaked #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1993 and sold 600,000 copies. Outside of commercial success, this album is forever a part of pop culture history voted #8 on VH1‘s Top Rap Songs list. “Check Yo Self” was also ridiculously successful, selling 500,000 copies and peaking at #20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Predator LP is a masterpiece and has the sales to prove it. This album has so far gone double platinum and with the success of the film Straight Outta Compton there is no reason why sales figures should not increase over the next few months. As anyone up-to-date in Hip Hop culture should know, with the success of this album, Ice Cube went on to be an entertainment mogul directing, writing, and producing successful films, appearing on television, and releasing six more studio LPs that have all done pretty well in their sales all appearing on the Billboard 200 in the top 20%.
On this day in 1999, legendary super-producer Dr. Dre put out Chronic 2001, his last album before a 16 year hiatus. Containing some of the most known tracks in rap, Chronic 2001 has been extremely successful over the years. As of July 2013 the album has been certified septuple platinum, selling 7,664,000 copies in the United States alone and with the recent success of the film Straight Outta Compton, one can only imagine the increase in its sales that is to come. Dr. Dre is an artist known for the breaks he takes between albums. Chronic 2001, the follow up to The Chronic, came seven years after its predecessor and although it may have been an excruciating period of time to wait, each project he’s delivered has been more than worth the time spent wondering what it would consist of.
The quality of work that makes up Chronic 2001 is epic. Of course, the production of this album is more solid than most coming from Dre himself along with Mel-Man and Lord Finesse, but he vocal features that were at Dre’s disposal due to his success at the time also helped to make this project such a classic. Rappers such as The D.O.C., Hittman, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Eminem made appearances on this album. It would be an understatement to say that this project was an influential part of west coast rap and culture.
As previously stated, this album was widely regarded and critically acclaimed. It debuted in 1999 at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart where it peaked and sold 516,000 copies in its first week. The album also claimed the #1 spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, #4 on the UK Album Chart, and #17 in the Dutch Albums Chart. As far as its legacy, the album has made its appearances on music charts worldwide since its release and is #17 on the Billboard 200 chart for the 2000s. Its hit single “Still D.R.E.”, is certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA and is a household name in the Hip Hop world.
Dr. Dre’s successes following this album are enough to make a second movie about. His influence on rap and rap culture span a generation and his place in pop culture as a whole has been cemented due to what he has accomplished. We can only sit back and watch what the mastermind that is Dr. Dre has in store for us in the coming years.
On this date in 2004, MF DOOM dropped his fifth full length studio release MM..FOOD. Put out on the underground Rhymesayers Entertainment label, some songs from the project were previously released under the name Madvillian on another label. The album featured classic samples from several superhero cartoons including the Fantastic Four, Spiderman and Superman.
The album featured production mainly from DOOM himself, with Count Bass D and Madlib on the help out on just two tracks on the 15 track project. Some of the standout tracks include “Hoe Cakes”, “Guinnesses”, which featured Tennessee born/ATL bred femcee Empress StaHHr and 4ize and the kaleidoscopic “Fig Leaf Bi-Carbonate”.
Salute to DOOM and everyone involved with this timeless album!
On this day in Hip Hop history, Method Man released his debut solo LP Tical. Sticking to RZA’s plan on industry domination, Method was the first to roll out his solo LP after the ridiculous success group debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). In the early years of the Wu, Method Man had grown become the public face of the group. His larger than life persona and multitude of styles won over the hearts and ears of fans after the groups first single “Protect Ya Neck” had “Method Man” on it’s B-side.
Tical delves deeper into the sinister villainous style previewed on 36 Chambers. Method Man creates a dark anti-hero on this album who hungers for the career of wack rappers and perpetrators. It was truly a violent introduction to one of the most outrageous members of the Wu, second only to ODB in theatrical personality.
Considered a “two-man show” by critics, the album was almost entirely produced by RZA. As the Wu’s architect, RZA created specific sounds for each member. Method unique sonic was the most film inspired. Meth continued to build a character likened to the many crime bosses and master villains that starred in his beloved Kung-Fu flicks. Aside from the image, lyrically the album is on another level. Method Man flawlessly juggles synonyms and metaphors with a flow that weaves in and out of the beat to create a hardcore symphony of Shaolin style.
Commercially, the album was a hit and only added on to the cipher of success revolving around the Wu-Tang Clan. The album peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop chart selling a million copies within a year of it’s release. It kick started a wave of successful solo albums and keep afloat RZA’s five-year plan to becoming the greatest rap group in history.
On this date in 1986, Adam Horowitz(Ad Rock), Adam Yauch(MCA) and Michael Diamond(Mike D) aka The Beastie Boys, dropped their sophomore LP Licensed To Ill on the Def Jam Imprint under Columbia Records.
On the heels of the success LL Cool J’s Radio album and the cut classic flick Krush Groove, Def Jam head honcho Russell Simmons decided to head in the most unconventional direction with the quasi-punk rock/Hip Hop trio for Def Jam’s follow up to those monumental releases. The original title of this release was Don’t Be A Faggot, but Columbia Records pushed Simmons to change the homophobic title.
Rated as one of The Source Magazine‘s Top 100 Best Albums, Licensed To Ill received the coveted five-mic status, a precedent for Jewish Hip Hop artists. In less than six months after its release, this critically acclaimed project earned the Beastie Boys a platinum plaque, lead by the singles “Brass Monkey”, “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, Hold It Now, Hit It” and the storytelling smash “Paul Revere”.
Unfortunately, crew member MCA lost his battle with cancer in 2012, which actually caused a resurgence in the album’s popularity and sales.
Salute to Def Jam, Russell Simmons, Ad Rock, Mike D and the continued legacy of MCA for creating such a timeless Hip Hop classic!
As part of the milestone celebration of their landmark debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which was released on November 9th, 1993, Staten Island officially proclaimed that November 9th will henceforth be known as ‘Wu-Tang Clan Day”! The group capped of their 25th anniversary celebration with an unforgettable performance on Good Morning America.
On 10-5-18, Ghostface Killah released a new project and fan favorite, The Lost Tapes, which was entirely produced by Big Ghost and featured guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, E-40, Big Daddy Kane and Sheek Louch and his Wu brethren Raekwon, Masta Killa & Cappadonna among others.
Today, Ghostface announces the Ghost Files, a new Double-Album Remix of The Lost Tapes, featuring 25-tracks in total, with one side remixed entirely by Bronze Nazareth and one side remixed entirely by Agallah.
The Ghost Files Double Album Remix project also includes a new and unreleased track (“N.W.O.”) which features Queensbridge legend and Ghost’s cousin Tragedy Khadafi.
To honor the Wu’s 25th Anniversary and his new remix project, Ghost enlisted Bronze Nazareth to remix “Watch ‘Em Holla” featuring Raekwon, Masta Killa & Cappadonna.
Ghostface Killah’s Ghost Files will be released on 11-30-18.
During Miami Art Basel, Young Thug is teaming up with Netherlands-based artist, Hajar Benjida for their SCOPE Miami Beach installation, “Young Thug As Paintings,” an iteration that Benjida originated on Instagram (@YoungThugAsPaintings).
Originally a school project, Benjida’s “Young Thug As Paintings” pays homage to the cultural capital of Thug, by juxtaposing him with some of history’s most revered works of art. Each combination offers a glimpse into Young Thug’s fluid sense of style and musicality. “I jokingly answered an interview question with “I hope to discuss renaissance paintings with Thug someday. 1.5 years later and I’m bringing my project to life together with Young Thug himself,” stated Benjida.
The exhibit will be available for viewing December 4th through December 9th at the 18th Annual SCOPE Miami Beach Art Fair. SCOPE is one of the most important satellite art fairs that takes place during Miami Art Basel. The exhibit is sponsored by Young Stoner Life Records and 300 Entertainment.
“Young Thug is one of the most profound artists of this generation and we’re going to continue to celebrate him in the most innovative ways.”
Hajar Benjida’s display of Thug’s influence through art disruption is incredible. This is also a celebration of Hajar’s talent and her appreciation of the culture,” says Rayna Bass, Head of Cultural Marketing at 300 Entertainment.
Thug’s exhibit comes shortly after the release of his latest EP, On the Rvn, which featured surprise appearances from Elton John, Jaden Smith, 6lack, and Offset.