Editor's note: In Tweets is Watching, Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.
Earlier in the month, the Brooklyn-based rap duo of Smif N Wessun dropped a slinky, six-track reggae-infused EP. Titled Born and Raised, the project has the venerable Steele and Tek spitting raps over production courtesy of Beatnik and K-Salaam. Following up the release of Born, we checked in with Tek to find out about his dirt-bike hobby, his roll-call of favorite rap producers, and why he won't be slipping on a Santa hat any time soon.
See also: Da Beatminerz Are Too Old to Dress Up For Halloween
1993 was a very good year for hip-hop. Wu-Tang Clan, Souls of Mischief, Lords of the Underground, and the under-recognized Rumpletilskinz all made their debuts, while Cypress Hill, LONS, KRS-1, and A Tribe Called Quest furthered their already admirable reputations. One exceptional debut that year was Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, a record that set the path for the Duck Down label (though the album was technically released by Nervous) and the entire Boot Camp Clik. Who knew that a skinny, short kid with "baggy black pants, knapsack, and a beeper" named Buckshot, an MC whose cadence recalls jazz improv at times (listen to "Buck 'Em Down" to see what I mean), would go on to create something of an indie hip-hop empire. Heltah Skeltah, Smif-N-Wessun, OGC, and others all subsequently made their mark upon golden era hip-hop, and Duck Down is still going strong today. So why not add Enta Da Stage to the list of albums performed in their entirety, especially when a live band is handling musical duties?
Raekwon, Smif-N-Wessun, Joell Ortiz
Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell
Saturday, July 9
Better than: "Salem (DJ set)" at Brooklyn Bowl
The Prospect Park Bandshell is probably the best place to catch a hip-hop show in the New York City summer. Yes, you're going to have to stand in a line that stretches beyond the park's BBQs and puggles to get a metal detector wand waved in front of your junk. (Uh, did you guys do that before the Andrew Bird show?) But the park's all-inclusivity and neighborhood picnic feel makes it the rare occasion to see, say, Skyzoo perform his underrated, chest-caving "Speakers On Blast" while watching antsy little kids fidget like they're at the opera and earnest, elderly white ladies making the most of their Celebrate Brooklyn! memberships.
Fortunately no one celebrates Brooklyn like Joell Ortiz, who somehow managed to perform "Brooklyn" and "Brooklyn Bullshit" back to back for Saturday's Lyricist Lounge-curated throwdown. Naturally, he got a hero's welcome from his borough, but he didn't understood the neighborhood as well as Smif-N-Wessun's Tek, who performed their "Timz N Hood Check "while literally pushing his daughter in a stroller. Hello, Park Slope!
Sirens are forever wailing around town, but the sirens I heard as I walked down Houston Street Tuesday night sounded extra-menacing. And judging by the sheer number of squad cars flying past me, and the intensity with which they ran red lights and drove against traffic up Orchard Street, it was evident something bad was about to transpire.
Shortly after midnight, a gang (and I use that in a very literal sense) of New York Police Department officers rushed Tammany Hall on Orchard Street, interrupting a peaceful Pete Rock/Smif n Wessun event.
Witnesses say the attack by police was unprovoked. Several onlookers captured much of the chaos on camera; judging from the footage, the police were the aggressors.
When rappers reference items they consume--whether Cristal, Clarks Wallabees, or chronic--listeners seek them out, either out of curiosity or a desire to be like their heroes. And thanks to hip-hop's tendency to occasionally serve as an educated, sound-advice-giving older sibling, those references can sometimes motivate listeners to pick up a book. I always loved reading, but sometimes I needed a bit of advice as far as what to check out next, and the literary references dropped by MCs often served as my introduction to new wings of the library. Here, in no particular order, are ten books that rappers have turned me on to over the years.
Kanye West and Jay-Z's Lex Luger-produced "H.A.M." is a creative union of the two biggest currently recording rap stars in the world -- as the lead single to the duo's upcoming Watch the Throne project, it's a feisty statement of intent. But more importantly, it's a fresh edition to the canon of wonderful rap songs tagged with (usually) brilliantly bad acronyms. With "H.A.M." Fever still in full effect, here are 10 of rap's biggest acronym-based anthems.