Run, DMC, and LL Cool J Bring Christmas and Larry Smith Tributes to Brooklyn

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Hot 97
LL Cool J, noted bell-rocker.
Better Than: That Christmas episode of All That with Run-DMC.

Friday night's Christmas in Brooklyn show at the Barclays Center (presented by Hot 97 and WBLS) was a fulfilled Christmas wish list of a show: Run and DMC shared a stage in New York for the first time in more than a decade, and LL Cool J seemingly consdensed an entire music festival into a single set.

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Brian Coleman's New Book, Check the Technique 2, Shines a Light on Rap Classics

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Mary Galli
Brian Coleman, Noted Technique Checker
Author, hip-hop expert, and journalist extraordinaire Brian Coleman's new book Check the Technique 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies has been on store shelves for a little over a month now -- at least in the few remaining places where it hasn't completely sold out yet. Containing the track-by-track stories of 25 certified classic rap albums as told by the artists who made them, Check the Technique 2 has instantly become essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in the genre.

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Positive K Says His 1992 Hit 'I Got a Man' Isn't Street Harassment

A man approaches a woman on the street and compliments her on her looks. The woman responds, which leads to the two having some back-and-forth chitchat. The man then asks her out on a date, but the woman declines, explaining that she currently has a boyfriend. Not seeing how this fact is applicable, the man continues to pursue the woman; however, she continually rejects his offer. The man keeps at it, though the woman's stance never changes.

This is the plot of Positive K's classic 1992 hip-hop single, "I Got a Man," an excellent slice of rap's golden era. But is it also an example of street harassment?

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The Ten Freestyle Rap Commandments

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Eddie Soto
MC Elijah Black Freestyling at Legendary Cyphers
New York's hip-hop scene had plenty of surprises in 2014, the most unexpected of which was probably the return of freestyling. What was once considered a niche pastime or endangered art form has found new life through fans rediscovering the joys of both extemporaneous wordsmiths creating new works in front of their eyes, as well as established MCs rekindling their love of freestyling itself.

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The Real Story About Why Non-Phixion Broke Up, and Why They Reunited

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DJ Eclipse
Non-Phixion in 2014
The night before Halloween, commonly referred to as Devil's Night, is known as an evening of mischief and tricks. But it was no trick at Best Buy Theater when a wholly unsuspecting New York hip-hop audience, there to see Cypress Hill, caught the most unlikely reunion in rap history.

It's official. Non-Phixion have reunited.

See also: Non Phixion: Diggin' in the Vault With the Underground Rap Heroes

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Was Chief Keef Too Gangster for Interscope?

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Courtesy of Glory Boyz Entertainment
Chief Keef
America in the 21st century is one of the most economically polarized and heavily armed societies in history. As the top rises, it becomes harder to see the ground through the clouds.

Disconnected, nihilistic subcultures have developed in areas abandoned and forgotten by mainstream society. Such aberrant cultures used to exist only in isolated wildernesses: mountain men in north Georgia, the uncontacted tribes of Brazil.

But today, with the prevalence of guns and drugs, cities are wildernesses, too.

"These guys are from an entirely different world," says Peeda Pan, manager of the notorious Chief Keef (a/k/a Sosa a/k/a Keith Cozart), the most gangster gangsta rapper since the 1990s. At only 19, he's already been to jail twice and rehab twice, in part due to his penchant for Instagramming photos of himself posing with guns.

When a rival was murdered, Keef tweeted, "LMAO," prompting an uproar among more mainstream rappers like Lupe Fiasco, who threatened to retire because of it. Fiasco said, "Chief Keef scares me. Not him specifically, but just the culture he represents."

See also: The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time

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Revisiting Method Man and Redman's Failed Fox Sitcom, Method & Red

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Method Man and Redman in Method & Red

While Method Man and Redman have consistently put on an acclaimed live hip-hop show for close to two decades, not everything they've done together has been as successful. This year marks a decade since their short-lived Fox sitcom, Method & Red.

Let's revisit the series.


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The Wu-Tang Clan Doesn't Care How MF'ers Feel Anymore

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Photo by DeAnn Prinz
Masta Killa, guiding us around Wu-Tang's studio
Outside the 10th-floor window of Quad Studios in Midtown Manhattan, the neon and LEDs of M&M's World caught the eye as a brand-new Wu-Tang Clan album blasted through a tiny soundproof room packed with a who's-who of music writers, producers, and a chosen few rap fans.

"The second song was called 'Felt' because we don't give a fuck how motherfuckers feel anymore," Wu-Tang impresario the RZA said, about a quarter of a way through a listening party for A Better Tomorrow, the new album he produced for the seminal rap crew. That must be a good feeling, especially as you couldn't hear a fucking thing over the general din of internet friends catching up IRL. But that didn't matter to the RZA, who spoke to us over a mic from behind glass in the soundbooth. He heard only what he wanted to.

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The Story Behind Def Jam's Worst-Selling, and Most Misunderstood, Album Ever

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Def Jam Records
Flatlinerz...Def Jam's Darkest Secret
Storied hip-hop label Def Jam Records has spent the month of October celebrating its 30th anniversary. While there's been much cheer for all the label's iconic and groundbreaking releases, one album's received nothing but scorn and ridicule ever since it hit store shelves two decades ago. Often the go-to punching bag for Def Jam flops, even with its 20th anniversary passing by, nobody is willing to give it and its legacy the time of day.

This is the story of Flatlinerz' USA (Under Satan's Authority).

See also: The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time

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A History of Rappers Who Tried (and Failed) to Bring New York Back

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Photo by Phillip Toledano
A$AP Rocky
Sometimes New Yorkers can come off a little self-conscious. We've got the stars, the scenes, and the go-to dreams of practically every American teenager in the world. But when it comes to hip-hop, it seems we really have a difficult time dealing with waning omnipresence and the steadily increasing mainstream attention paid to those non-Most Important Place in the Universe locales. Atlanta, Miami, Memphis, even the resurgence of Los Angeles -- it terrifies us, which is why we've seen an endless string of anonymous New York MCs held up as that foregone arbiter destined to "Bring New York Back."

That's the slogan. "Bring New York Back." It always struck us as strange, because it's not like the city hasn't produced interesting rap music over the last 10 years; all the same, it harkens to an era when New York hip-hop was the only hip-hop that mattered. You know, that same era when groups like OutKast and Goodie Mob were getting buried.

So with that in mind, we're going to chronologically track the people who were supposed to bring New York back. Maybe we'll learn something about unrealistic expectations in an increasingly diverse world.

See also: The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time

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