Is Def Jam's Icon Series That Iconic?

Best Buy
This year marks 30 years since the first Def Jam single was released. Originally formed in NYU's Weinstein dorms after Russell Simmons was introduced to Rick Rubin by Vincent Gallo, Def Jam quickly became a brand early hip-hoppers could trust. Whether you fall in the camp who considers T La Rock's "It's Yours" or LL Cool J's "I Need a Beat" to be Def Jam's first single, there's no denying the legacy and impact the label's had on the world at large.

In celebration, electronics giant Best Buy released bargain-priced collections of notable Def Jam artists as part of their Icon collection. But since, as Bruce McCulloch of "Kids in the Hall" once put it that "Greatest Hits are for housewives and little girls," as well as the tumultuous relationship Def Jam seems to have with some of their artists over the years, you could question whether the selections are truly their most iconic works.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time

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30 Rock's Most Hilarious Rap References

Happy belated Ludacrismas!
30 Rock wraps up tonight, as the Tina Fey-penned show signs off with its final episode. During the show's seven seasons of hilarity, it's never been shy of weaving rap references into its script (a tick helped by Donald Glover a/k/a/ Childish Gambino holding down a writer's position at one point). So with a doff of the ol' faithful Kangol to Liz Lemon Cool J, here's a round-up of 30 Rock's most ROFL-worthy rap references.

See also: Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

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Five Rare Ghostface Killah Songs You've Never Heard

Tonight, lauded Wu-Tang MC Ghostface Killah takes the stage at Webster Hall. Ghost has spent almost two decades being one of the most prolific MCs in the game. Unfortunately, many legal restrictions have kept some incredible work of his from seeing an official retail release. So, for the Ghostface fan who has everything, we have assembled the five best Ghostface songs you've never heard.

See Also:

- On Raekwon and Ghostface's "Criminology 2"
- Stream Ghostface's Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry

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Make Time for These Hip-Hop Shows at CMJ 2012

Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire
By all means, enjoy the whispy waifs warbling their sensitive indie ballads up and down the city during CMJ. But make time for some hip-hop while you do. Here are a few acts worth your time.

See Also:
- Don't Miss These Bands At CMJ
- Handy CMJ Flowchart Panel Selector

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The Ten Best Hometown Productions By Large Professor

Large Professor cuts an outside figure in the New York hip-hop scene these days. As a producer who also happens to rap in an endearingly economical manner, he's integral to any overview of hip-hop's storied golden era--he tutored under Paul C, contributed production input to Eric B & Rakim songs, scored a classic with his own group Main Source's Breaking Atoms, and helped kick-start the career of a [then] Nasty Nas when Queensbridge's golden son was still rocking a band-aid over his cheek in promotional pics. But since his late-'80s emergence, Large Pro's solo career has unfortunately faltered, with his intended solo debut The LP caught up in label politics and long-delayed, and his subsequent statement on Matador, First Class, resonating limply at best. As a producer, Large Pro has never caught a particularly pop break either--unlike, say, DJ Premier he's never been handed an opportunity to gallivant with a feisty chanteuse. Instead, he's maintained a dedication to working with grass-roots New York rap talent as if the very idea of cracking the mainstream is absurd.

Large Pro's newest project, the album Still On The Hustle, reunites him with fellow Queens resident Neek The Exotic--a pairing last heard on 2003's Exotic Is Raw set, for which Large Pro handled around half of the production duties. It's a release unlikely to trouble those whose RSS feeds frolic above rap's underground layer, but it's a collaboration that allows Large Pro to continue to dwell in a hip-hop world of his own creation. When I interviewed him a couple of years ago, he was late because he was cycling around Flushing Meadows Park while listening to his iPod--the impression given was that he'd prefer to produce at his own leisurely pace and on his own terms rather than pucker up and play the major-label game. It's a stance that should be applauded. With that in mind, here are ten commendable hometown anthems produced--as opposed to remixed, which would be a whole other lengthy listicle--by Flushing's finest self-proclaimed "live guy with glasses."

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2010: The Year In Music Photos

The year in music, circa 2010, started at the Cake Shop, with a shred-down to the New Year courtesy of Siren Festival MVP-to-be Marissa Paternoster and her band Screaming Females. After a tour through the NYE fetes of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, that night ended amidst a marathon show at Bushwick's Shea Stadium, right around the time the Blastoids' drummer poured paint on his kit and started splattering away.

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CMJ 2010 Initial Line-Up Announced: Surfer Blood, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Ghostface Killah, the Blow, Salem, and More

Surfer Blood play Cake Shop during last year's CMJ. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
Hey, remember last year, when we predicted that the stresses of Surfer Blood's twelve different CMJ shows would cause the band to self-destruct? Um, that's not at all what happened. Instead, the Florida band rode their week of shows here last fall to some semblance of that ol' traditional CMJ success story, and here we are a year later with the band headlining the 2010 edition of the annual music festival, taking place October 19 through October 23. Surfer Blood join the Drums, Ghostface Killah, Helmet (?!), Lissie, the Blow, recent New York darling Big Freedia, and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the top of the 2010 class, announced in part today. We still have no idea why this festival continues to exist. But you can probably count us being there come October. It's like a paradox, see? Full first round line-up, here:

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Annals of Unlikely Sample Clearance: How in the World Did Method Man, Ghostface, and Raekwon Clear Michael Jackson for "Our Dreams"?

When "Our Dreams," the awesomely emo first single from the eponymous group effort from Method Man, Ghostface, and Raekwon (Rap Radar just confirmed that Wu Massacre, as in the cover, at left, is the name of the record and not the group) circulated a few weeks ago, we figured that'd be last anyone heard about it. Why? Because of the substantial chunk of the hook and sample on the verse is pulled from Michael Jackson's "We're Almost There"--a beast of a clearance, even amongst the elevated, no-permission-granted-ever climate of sampling in general today. And yet not 24 hours ago the song popped up again on an official Island/Def Jam site, streaming, with its own single art and everything. What gives? It's not like these guys have Jay-Z's money.

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Still the Best Name for This Proposed Ghostface Killah/Method Man/Raekwon Project

Right? Or that would be too accurate? Ironman, Iron Chef, and the Iron Lung would also be acceptable, we suppose. More info here, if this confuses you. [JensenClan88/Ghostface]

Did Ghostface Killah Give Holy Ghost An Actual Drop On This New DFA Mixtape?

Probably not, but damned if we can remember where the sample ("This is Ghostface, I got a twin ghost in the building--that's the Holy Ghost") that kicks off this DFA double-disc winter mixtape comes from. Anybody? Sadly, James "Jigga" Murphy's "Phone Tap" intro on disc two is decidedly not a Firm reference, but otherwise, well done--certainly our favorite Phoenix remix so far, with no apologies at all to last year's flaccid Animal Collective take on "Love Like A Sunset." Plus, Panthers are back? [MOKB]