A Six-Part Miniseries event


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A Clipse Guide to New York City

The Clipse make coke rap cut straight out of Virginia. But Pharrell‘s favorite rapping brothers, Malice and Pusha T, have a discernible New York streak running through their rhymes. Which is no surprise given that they were born in the Bronx and grew up smitten with the aura of golden era MCs like Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. Further boosting their VA-to-NY connection, their grandmother played family matriarch from the stronghold of her Bronx building, a time later immortalized by Malice in the song “Young Boy”: “Spoiled the grandkids, each one she would treasure/Said she kept two guns and to do so was a pleasure/The cigarette dangle, 45-degree angle/Still every bit a lady but you don’t wanna tangle.” Pusha also traveled up to New York to spend his youthful summers under her watch, as he recounts here.
The Village Voice asked Pusha for a guided tour of his childhood haunts.

Born In The Bronx
I was actually born in New York, in the Bronx. My family were the ones who migrated first to Virginia, and eventually all my family did, but we’re from New York originally. My grandmother lived in the Bronx and my sister lived in Harlem. I don’t remember too much about being there then cause I was young. But Malice, who’s older than me, has definitely mentioned seeing and hearing hip-hop everywhere at that time–like coming from the park through everyone’s apartment windows.

Summers At Silver Towers
I went up to stay in the Bronx every summer as a child after school was out. My grandmother lived in Silver Towers on Gun Hill Road in the Bronx. My mother would send me up there to go since I was young. You know, my brother might beat up on me all summer so she’d rather have me up there staying with family while my parents worked. I loved being there.

My grandmother was a very independent-minded woman and she liked to instill that same independence in me. So she’d basically let me do anything in the world and when you’re in New York City as a kid it’s like, ‘Wow, I get to run around with my friends all day in this city where there’s just so much stimulation around you!’ Even though I was among such chaos, my grandmother didn’t have a worry in the world about me.

Rambo’s Pizza
As a kid, I used to go to this place called Rambo’s pizza. It was a great pizza shop in the Bronx that had all this Sylvester Stallone memorabilia decorating it! I don’t even think any of it was for sale – it was just posters and toys and memorabilia all over the place. I used to buy slices there to eat, then wash them down with shaved ices with a flavor in them. You eat that all day long, then go over to the basketball courts – that was a day for me over the summer.”

Wild Stylin’
“It’s always been a sneaker thing with me. In New York back then, I’d go down to 125th Street in Harlem and just hit up the stores there. Not even one specific spot, just whole blocks. There were certain things that New York was very hip on and very quick on with fashion. Like Starter jackets, I remember they were the big thing at one point and I was the first one to come back to Virginia on that. But Virginia is more Southern, so as far as winter coats, they don’t always translate, you know, or you might only have those couple of months you can wear them. What’s the worst fashion mistake I’ve made in the name of hip-hop? Ah, it’s gotta be Cross Colors!”

Top Billin’
“Coming to New York, all you’d hear would be hip-hop. Totally hip-hop everywhere. That was the soundtrack. I’d come up and see my cousins, who’d stayed in New York, and I’d be talking about how Run-DMC was the best. They’d hit me back like, ‘What? Are you serious? Rakim is the best! You ain’t heard that, huh?’ New York was always so far ahead of what was hot in hip-hop. Then, you know, of course I’d go back to Virginia and go around telling everyone how Rakim was now the best! It always opened my eyes to things.

“Even later on when we were a little more up on things, I remember calling up my cousin, Snapper, who lived in the Bronx and just talking about things like the new record by Big Daddy Kane or Kool G Rap and going over and over the lyrics. I guess those days are definitely instilled in the way that me and my brother rap today.”

view in original context

60 seconds of New York Minute

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April 94, Minya gives 5 mics to Nas’ Illmatic

classic status
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Back in april 94 Minya Oh (aka Miss Info) was Shortie…
I mean she’s still shorty but that was her nickname @ The Source Magazine… when she gave 5 mics to the Nasty One

The Source #55

“That was in 84, at the height of the crack problem in NY…”

George Pelecanos considers him the leader of Noir’s new school, Bret Easton Ellis is already adapting his Follower into a HBO serie…
Meet Jason Starr, a novelist from Flatbush who sometimes gets like
Psycho killa : Norman Bates !


I’ve been living in Flatbush -right in the middle of Brooklyn- until I was 18-19 y.o, then I left to go to college… I’m in Manahttan right now, Upper East Side.

I’ve heard you’ve had a lot of shitty jobs before you blew up.
A lot. I’ve been a dish-washer, a telemarketer, I’ve parked cars, I’ve written for a couple of financial magazines… I even had a job where I was operating pizza vending machines… you know, like they do for drinks, but with pizzas (laughs), that was stupid…

Whats does the expression « New York Minute » mean to you ?
The intensity of the life in Manhattan. Guys laying in the subway, yellow cabs… Wall Street.

Only Manhattan ?
Yeah… Like most people, I identify New york to Manhattan. Nobody don’t really think of all 5 boroughs when you speak about New York.

We do. People say anything can happen in a New York Minute, for better or worse… Do you have a Brooklyn example ?
(Long pause, he tries to remember one) Back In the 1980’s… I’m walking home from school one day, it’s a normal day and then, I see a guy attack this teenager and start slashing his face with a knife. It was brutal, bloody, horrific.

Do you know why he did it, or if the guy has been arrested ?
No, I never heard anything about it. This was in 1984, the height of the crack problem in New York, when violence was rampant. I have no doubt the attacker was high on crack.

Did the kid survive ?
Yes, it was just his face that was slashed and he was running, screaming for help.

You were 18 at the time, and you started writing later… Do you think seeing such a violent act “triggered” something about your imagination ?
I’m not sure, it might have… It was the first time I’d seen brutal violence. This happened right in front of my house, on Bedford Avenue, near the Long Island Railroad train tracks.

You never read crime fiction before going to college, what brought you to it ?
I’ve never been deep into books. When I started writing (in college), my style was already precise, the sentences were shorts, so I started looking for writers who worked like that. I began with Albert Camus, but then I found out he was influenced with James M. Cain, that
The Stranger was inspired by The Postman always rings twice… I had started writing « literrature » novels and I realized my style was naturally feeling like Noir, so I got into reading Elmore Leonard’s books, then Jim Thompson’s, then others… and this whole thing became my world.

Now that you’ve get to know the guy, peep his Top 5 lists for eternity
Continue reading

Halftime: Buckwild the Mixtape by DJ Kozi

Once upon a time ODB peed on LL’s platinum plaque

Ladies love Cool James, ODB doesn’t.
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Jet-lagged! Straight Outta Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills is a zip code, a TV show, but it’s also a real place, with real rich people with real mistresses and real kids going to highschool driving expensive cars, just like in the show.
90210, you either be born there or you move there, after a long quest dedicated to yourself. This kinda place is called a destination: you dream about it, get invited, finally settle here, whatever you want. But you’re not supposed to leave. I’ve been checking: in Denver, Colorado, nobody has a new neighbour coming outta Beverly Hills.
By the end of the 90’s, this guy promptly parked daddy’s car on the grass and jumped the fence of rich man’s heaven.


“Large Pro was lookin at me…
th a disappointed look on his face”

Producer A-A-A-Alchemist shares some secrets

THE REALEST Mobb Deep feat. Kool G Rap
When I left LA for NY, Muggs (Cypress Hill) told me to hook up with Infamous Mobb : they’re young, they wanna work. I met them, they told me we gonna introduce you to Mobb Deep, you’re dope. At that time, I’m alone in New York, hanging with no one, just doing beats 24/7. They realized: he has done nothing but working since he got here, he’s grinding real hard. So they introduced me to Havoc. Said like that, it sounds like it was quick, but it really took some time -years really- before I met Hav. They came to realize I’m loyal, thorough, and I’m a team player. I’m not the boss type of guy, I really can play for others (…) When Mobb Deep started working on Murda Muzik, I was visiting them from time to time, always accompanying Twinz or Gotti… I was meeting Prodigy or Havoc -they were never together in the studio- and playing them some of my beats on a DAT. The first time, Prodigy got through all of them, and he said I like this one. The next day, same thing, with Havoc: this one. It was the same beat! So I told him Prodigy picked the same and… Nothing happened. I got back home and that was it. 3 or 4 weeks later, I got a phone call form Prodigy: you still have that beat from the other day? Come by the studio.
I came in and who do I see? Kool G Rap ! Shit! I didn’t even know he was gonna be on the track! I had brought my keyboard and my records, so I just redid the beat. No manager, no phone call, no contract, no nothing: I didn’t give a fuck. It was just a crazy opportunity and I took it.

When I moved from LA to NY, I left a few records in my parents garage. One day I came back spending the week-end with my family, and since I always had my sampler with me (the infamous ASR 10), I hooked with my turntables and tried to do something with what I had. The only drums sounds available were on this old MC Lyte record, so I chopped it to make my beat (on top that loop from Bill Conti’s Theme).
Sometimes I take a look at what Prodigy is writing in the studio. I read it, shit leaves me cold. I don’t know how he’s gonna rap his bars. Only when he’s recording I see how and where he places his words. Prodigy once tried to write some stuff for me, but it didn’t work: only the way he delivers things makes his raps so special. His choice of words don’t impress me, but his timing when he uses them always will.

I did this beat in New York, when I was living in this small room. At that time I wasn’t doing well at all, I was strugglin. My man Agallah often came by – he’s a crazy-talented produced, I studied him a lot… He stayed at my crib a few days and we were listening to each other’s beats. We were working together and I really absorbed his way of programming drums. To be honest, I really did that beat his way… DJ Premier came to visit me the day I was doing this beat. I was really nervous to get him ear it, because it has a clap sound, and I know doesn’t like these kinds of drums too much. He was my idol and I always get nervous when he listens to my stuff. He started nodding his head big time -you know how he does- saying Yeah Yeah ! I could rap over that beat! Shit made me laugh, he always says that when he likes a beat (laugh).

Nas impressed me when he did Book of Rhymes and this one. Him and his team were working on Stillmatic, back around 1999. I had a lot of well-constructed beats, but I was seeing something simple with an old school feel for Nas. I talked about a Barry White sampled based track, so he could rhyme like in the old days, when people used to party and freestyle in the park. He agreed and asked me to record the beat with Pro Tools. Large Professor was with us in the studio. I was feeling ashamed. He was lookin at me puttin that loop in the computer, with a disappointed look on his face. It felt awkward, because a guy like him isn’t used to see us work that way. He’s from another era, where there were no computers involved… But when the track was finally done, he understood what I was trying to do.
What’s crazy is when I was preparing my loop, I was explaining Nas the concept I was seeing for the track. Then I had to leave and couldn’t come back before the next day. Nas wasn’t there no more. The engineer made me listen to the track: it was already done, and just like I imagined it. That guy’s talent blew my mind that day.

Me and Prodigy, we often start from nothing, just talking, sharing ideas… Got it Twisted actually has a funny story: we call Prodigy « Science » because he’s very knowledgeable, always into books…. so one day I ask him if he remembers that song that goes « Science! », he says no, so I go online and download it. I try to sample it, but it doesn’t work, because the rhythm is weird. So I restart from scratch, replay the tune on my keyboard, just by ear, real quick… and I see Hav and P starting to write to my beat and it’s not even finished! If you pay attention, the beat sounds a little undone, its structure is real simple: just a kick and a cymbal. But it’s cool, it was the moment’s vibe. I didn’t have time to finish, but it was better left that way. Kinda like Quiet Storm: super simple, but sometimes, it’s just the best way.

(to be continued)

Last Prodigy’s studio session before jail (Gasface was there)

The year is 2008. February 17th to be precise.
Prodigy was slated to begin serving his bid on February 3 but has gotten that date extended a week to February 20.
Our camera caught the last Pee’s studio session (@ Battery studios) before he went to jail

workin on the Cormega‘s Dirty Game remix
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another take in the booth
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