Category: rap

On this day in music history: November 18, 198…

On this day in music history: November 18, 1985 – “Radio”, the debut album by LL Cool J is released. Produced by Rick Rubin and Jazzy Jay, it is recorded at Chung King House Of Metal in New York City from Late 1984 – Mid 1985. A talented young MC with a prodigious gift for writing sharp and concise rhymes, delivered with plenty of B-Boy attitude, LL Cool J stands out immediately from his contemporaries. Looking to make it in the music business, the teen aged rapper makes demos at home and sends them out to various record labels. After calling Rick Rubin, the co-founder of Def Jam Records numerous times, he listens to LL’s demo tape at the urging of King Ad Rock of The Beastie Boys. Impressed with what he hears, Rubin signs the then sixteen year old rapper to the label. LL Cool J’s first single “I Need A Beat”, released in 1984, is an immediate smash on the street, selling over 100,000 copies. By the end of that year, Def Jam has secured a major label distribution deal with CBS/Columbia Records. LL Cool J is the first artist on Def Jam given the green light to record a full length album. Aided by Rubin’s stripped down, minimalist production, the finished album does not take long to make a major impact. An instant classic, “Radio” quickly establishes LL Cool J as a force to be reckoned with, and as one of hip hop’s first bonafide mainstream superstars.  It spins off four singles including “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (#15 R&B), “Rock The Bells” (#17 R&B), and “You’ll Rock” (#59 R&B). In time, it is regarded as a seminal album of rap’s “Golden Age”, becoming one of Def Jam’s all time best selling albums. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued in 2014, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Def Jam Records. “Radio” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty six on the Top 200, and it is Def Jam’s first album to be certified Gold just five months after its release. “Radio” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 17, 199…

On this day in music history: November 17, 1992 – “The Predator”, the third album by Ice Cube is released. Produced by Ice Cube, DJ Pooh, Sir Jinx, Torcha Chamba, and DJ Muggs, it is recorded at Echo Sound in Glendale, CA and The Hit Factory in New York City from Late 1991 – Mid 1992. Issued as the follow up to the platinum selling “Death Certificate”, the L.A. born rapper/actor writes many of the albums’ songs in the wake of the LA Riots in the Spring of 1992 and reflects those events and the aftermath. It spins off three singles including “Wicked”, Check Yo’ Self" and “It Was A Good Day”. Well received by fans and critics upon its release, the album is Cube’s most commercially successful. The album cover photo is taken by photographer Pamela Springsteen (Bruce’s younger sister). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, with four additional bonus tracks, including the remixes of “Check Yo’ Self”, “It Was A Good Day”, and the B-sides “24 Wit An L” and “You Ain’t Gonna Take My Life”.

Issued on vinyl in limited quantities during its original release in 1992, it is remastered and reissued as a double LP pressing in 2003, and as a single 180 gram LP in 2016.

“The Predator” spends one week at number one on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 16, 199…

On this day in music history: November 16, 1999 – “2001 (aka "The Chronic 2001”)“, the second album by Dr. Dre is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, Mel-Man and Lord Finesse, it is recorded at Dre’s Crib in Los Angeles, CA, Larrabee Sound Studios, A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, Can-Am Recorders in Tarzana, CA, Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Record One, Los Angeles in Sherman Oaks, CA, Skip Saylor Recording in Northridge, CA, Sierra Sonics Studios in Reno, NV and D&D Studios in New York City from Early 1998 – Mid 1999. Making a huge impact with his landmark solo debut "The Chronic” in late 1992, nearly seven years passes before the producer and rapper follows it up. In spite of the prolonged silence between albums, Dre is far from idle during this time. He produces protege Snoop Dogg’s multi-Platinum debut “Doggystyle”, tracks for the soundtracks of “Murder Was The Case”, “Above The Rim” and “Friday”. Dre also issues the compilation album “Dre Presents The Aftermath”, appears on Blackstreet’s Grammy winning chart topper “No Diggity” as well producing tracks for 2Pac and for Emimem’s major label debut album. By 1998, Dre begins working on his long awaited sophomore release. The producer pulls together an elite crew of talent including Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Eminem, Devin The Dude, Knoc-turn’al, King T, Defari, Kokane, Hittman, and Mary J. Blige. Any talk of Dre having lost his touch is quickly silenced with the release of the first single “Still D.R.E.” featuring Snoop Dogg (#11 Rap, #32 R&B, #93 Pop), anchored by samples of ominous sounding strings and a piano vamp played by keyboardist and producer Scott Storch (Beyonce, 50 Cent, The Roots). The album is an immediate hit, spinning off two more singles including “Forgot About Dre” (#14 R&B, #25 Pop) and “The Next Episode” (#11 R&B, #23 Pop). Other tracks including “The Watcher”, “F*** You” and “Xxplosive” also become favorites, with the track from the latter being sampled as basis for the hit remix version of Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” (#1 R&B, #6 Pop) in 2000. “2001” is nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for “Forgot About Dre” in 2001. “2001 (aka "The Chronic 2001”)“ spends four weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number two on the Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 16, 199…

On this day in music history: November 16, 1993 – “Hand On The Torch”, the debut album by Us3 is released. Produced by Mel Simpson and Geoff Wilkinson, it is recorded at Flame Studios in London from Early 1992 – Mid 1993. Formed in 1992 by producers Geoff Wilkinson and Mel Simpson, their first release under the Us3 name titled  "The Band Played The Boogie" becomes an underground hit in the UK after its picked up by Ninja Tune Records. It receives unexpected widespread exposure when radio station Kiss FM in London begins playing it. The record which samples jazz guitarist Grant Green’s classic “Sookie Sookie” also attracts the attention of Blue Note Records, the label that released Green’s original recording. Having sampled the Green record without authorization, Wilkinson and Simpson are initially fearful that they are going to be sued by Blue Note when they are called to the label’s London office. Instead, they are surprised when the label not only offers to sign them, but also gives them unlimited access to the company’s vast archive of landmark jazz recordings. Recruiting rappers Rahsaan Kelly, Kobie Powell and Tukka Yoot, the group begin recording their first album. Among the songs cut is “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” (#9 Pop, #21 R&B), sampling Herbie Hancock’s  "Cantaloupe Island" and Birdland MC Pee Wee Marquette’s voice from jazz drummer Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland Vol. 1” album. The song is released as a single in September of 1993, and becomes a major hit, also going Gold. The success of the song propels “Hand” to Platinum status in the US, becoming the first album in the history of Blue Note Records to achieve sales of that level. It spins off another single with “Tukka Yoot’s Riddim” (two other singles in Europe). “Hand On The Torch” peaks at number thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, number twenty one on the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 15, 198…

On this day in music history: November 15, 1986 – “Licensed To Ill”, the debut album by the Beastie Boys is released. Produced by Rick Rubin and the Beastie Boys, it is recorded at Chung King House Of Metal in New York City, from Early 1985 – Late 1986. One of the first acts signed to then indie rap label Def Jam Records in 1985, the New York City based hardcore punk band turned rap trio consisting of MCA (Adam Yauch), King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), and Mike D. (Michael Diamond) releases the 12" single “Rock Hard” for the fledgling label. Close on the heels of that release, Def Jam signs a distribution agreement with Columbia Records. Proceeded by the singles “She’s On It”, “Hold It Now, Hit It”, and “It’s The New Style” b/w “Paul Revere”, Rubin and the Beasties spend over a year working on and off on the groups’ full length debut, finally being scheduled for release in the Fall of 1986. The album’s unique hybrid of Hip Hop and rock samples, is instrumental in further crossing rap music and Hip Hop culture over into the pop mainstream. An instant critical and commercial smash upon its release, CBS Records is caught off guard by the record’s huge out of the box sales. It becomes one of the fastest selling debut albums of all time, selling over a million copies in its first two weeks of release. It spins off six singles including “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” (#7 Pop) and “Brass Monkey” (#48 Pop). The album’s iconic cover art by David Gambale (aka “World B. Omes”) features an illustration of a 727 jet crashing into the side of a mountain. On tail end of the plane is the aircraft registration number “3MTA3”, which is actually an in-joke that when viewed in a mirror reads “EAT ME”. In the mid 90’s when Def Jam changes distribution from Sony to Polygram (absorbed by Universal Music in 1999), “Ill” becomes one of the largest selling catalog titles of the decade, more than doubling its original sales (an unprecedented feat for a rap album), as The Beasties are experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity with the albums “Check Your Head” and “Ill Communication”. “Licensed To Ill” spends seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number two on the R&B album chart, and is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

On this day in music history: November 14, 200…

On this day in music history: November 14, 2003 – “The Black Album”, the eighth studio album by Jay-Z is released. Produced by Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Eminem, Rick Rubin, The Buchanans, DJ Quik, Luis Resto, Aqua  and Joseph Weinberger, it is recorded at Baseline Studios, Battery Studios, Right Track Recording Studios, Manhattan Center Studios, The Hit Factory in New York City, The Hit Factory/Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, 54 Sound in Detroit, MI, The Mansion, The Record Plant and Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 2003. With seven Platinum or multi-Platinum selling albums under his belt by the early 2000’s, Jay-Z publicly announces that he is “retiring” from recording. The rap star cites a lack of competitive spirit among his other rap contemporaries as one of the reasons for wanting to retire. He collaborates with a number of top Hip Hop producers including The Neptunes, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, DJ Quik, and Rick Rubin. The final result is lauded as one of Jay-Z’s strongest efforts. The album is launched with a concert at Madison Square Garden, and is filmed for “Fade To Black”, a 2004 film documenting that “final performance” as well as showing behind the scenes footage on the making of “The Black Album”. It spins off three singles including “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (#5 Pop, #3 R&B, #2 Rap), “Change Clothes” (#10 Pop, #6 R&B, #4 Rap), and “99 Problems” (#30 Pop, #26 R&B, #10 Rap). To encourage DJ’s to do their own remixes and mash ups, Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam releases a double vinyl promo LP featuring Jay-Z’s acapella vocals. Producer Danger Mouse creates an alternate version titled “The Grey Album”, mixing Jay-Z’s vocals with samples from The Beatles “White Album”. The underground bootleg release is an instant sensation, also inspiring a lawsuit from EMI Records in spite of the surviving Beatles and their families and Jay-Z giving it their approval. Jay-Z’s “retirement” proves to be short lived, as he collaborates with the rock band Linkin Park and releasing a second album with R&B star R. Kelly in 2004. The album is nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2005, winning one for Best Rap Solo Performance for “99 Problems”. “The Black Album” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, three weeks at number one on the R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in history: November 14, 1998 – &l…

On this day in history: November 14, 1998 – “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written and produced by Lauryn Hill, it is the biggest for the singer, songwriter and musician from South Orange, NJ. Issued as the first official single  from Lauryn Hill’s debut album “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” (her cover of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” is released to radio but not commercially, and is a hidden bonus track on the CD version of the album). The song is written as a positive message to young women to not be too impulsive in relationships, giving themselves to men who may not really care for them, beyond having physical relations. Released as a single in early November of 1998, “Doo Wop” is an instant smash. It enters the Hot 100 at number one, holding the top spot for two weeks. Hill becomes the second female recording artist in history to solely write and produce a number one single. Debbie Gibson achieves the same feat twice in 1988 (with “Foolish Beat”) and 1989 (with “Lost In Your Eyes”). The songs’ music video also wins four MTV VMA Awards including Best Female Video and Video Of The Year. The single also wins two Grammy Awards (of five won by the album) for Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1999. “Doo Wop (That Thing)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 9, 1996…

On this day in music history: November 9, 1996 – “No Diggity” by Blackstreet Featuring Dr. Dre & Queen Pen hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on October 19, 1996. Written by Andre Young, Chauncey Hannibal, Teddy Riley, William Stewart and Larry Walters, it is the biggest hit for the New York City based R&B group led by producer and songwriter Teddy Riley. Issued as the first single from their second album “Another Level”, the song originates from an earlier Blackstreet track called “I Like The Way You Work” from their self-titled debut. Based around a sample of Bill Withers’ 1971 single “Grandma’s Hands”, Dr. Dre originally intends the track to be for 2 Pac, but gives the it to Blackstreet after he leaves Death Row Records. Dre also contributes a rap verse to the song, as well as rapper Queen Pen. Entering the Hot 100 at #48 on October 12, 1996, it streaks to the top of the chart only four weeks later. The single wins the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 1998. “No Diggity” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 9, 1993…

On this day in music history: November 9, 1993 – “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, the debut album by the Wu-Tang Clan is released. Produced by RZA, it is recorded at Firehouse Studios in New York City from Late 1992 – Mid 1993. Formed in the New York City borough of Staten Island in 1992, the group is put together by RZA (birth name Robert Diggs) and GZA (birth name Gary Grice), after both have recorded unsuccessful solo efforts (as Prince Rakeem and The Genius respectively) for Tommy Boy and Cold Chillin’ Records. The nine member group also features Method Man (Clifford Smith), Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Russell Jones), Raekwon (Corey Woods), Ghostface Killah (Dennis Coles), Inspectah Deck (Jason Hunter), U-God (Lamont Hawkins), and Masta Killa (born Elgin Turner name changed to Jamal Arief). The group record and release the single “Protect Ya Neck” on their own Wu-Tang Records label before signing with Steve Rifkind’s Loud Records (distributed by RCA/BMG). United by their mutual love of martial arts movies, their debut album’s title is inspired by the title of the kung fu film “The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin”, and that the nine members “each having four chambers of the heart”, equaling (9 x 4 = ) 36. The finished album is unlike anything that has come before it, marking the resurgence of East Coast Rap in popularity and influence, after West Coast Rap has dominated the genre for much of the past several years. Though raw and underground in its sound, it breaks through to a mainstream audience to become a commercial success. It spins off four singles including “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” (#8 Rap, #32 R&B, #60 Pop), “Method Man” (#17 Rap, #40 R&B, #69 Pop), and “Can It All Be So Simple” (#24 Rap, #82 R&B, #116 Pop Bubbling Under). Issued on vinyl on a limited basis in 1993, it is reissued in 2000 by both Loud Records and Music On Vinyl. A limited edition pressing on yellow and black swirled vinyl is issued as an exclusive through Newbury Comics in 2014. The album is also released as a limited edition box set, pressed on six 7" vinyl discs with a 56 page book by Get On Down Records in 2016. The set also comes with a bonus 7" featuring a remix of “Protect Ya Neck”. “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty one on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 9, 1993…

On this day in music history: November 9, 1993 – “Midnight Marauders”, the third album by A Tribe Called Quest is released. Produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Large Professor and Skeff Anselm, it is recorded at Battery Studios, Platinum Island/Mastermix Studios, Sorcerer Sound in New York City from November 1992 – September 1993. Following the critical and commercial success of their sophomore album “The Low End Theory”, A Tribe Called Quest return to the studio in late 1992 to begin work on their third album. Like before, they produce much of the album themselves, but work with Large Professor of Main Source, and previous co-producer Skeff Anselm. Picking up both musically and lyrically where they left off, the group will spend almost an entire year working on the album before finally handing it in to their record label. Many of the tracks are linked together by the voice of a woman speaking in a robotic voice (performed by Laurel Dann), describing the meaning and concept of the album’s title and the songs. The album is a major critical and commercial success upon its release, becoming Tribe’s fastest selling release to date, and is regarded as one of the best rap albums of the era. It will spin off three singles including “Award Tour” (#7 Rap, #27 R&B, #47 Pop), “Oh My God” (#15 Rap, #69 R&B), and “Electric Relaxation” (#13 Rap, #38 R&B, #65 Pop). The cover artwork (presented in three different color variations) features a series of headshots (seventy one in all) of numerous influential and iconic hip hop artists and DJ’s (most wearing headphones) including Chuck D., The Beastie Boys, Heavy D., Kid Capri, MC Lyte, Large Professor, Grandmaster Flash, Dr. Dre, and Too Short. Released on vinyl on a limited basis in 1993, it is reissued in 2004, and again in 2014 on split red and green vinyl as an exclusive through Newbury Comics (limited to 1,000 individually numbered copies). “Midnight Marauders” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.