Your Memory's Museum
Your Memory's Museum

110
Investigative Reports: Breaking Down GZA’s “Labels”
Last month I saw a tweet that I found to be very interesting, and shocking. My respected colleague, and a fellow hip-hop purist, Combat Jack, [attorney, author, king of marketing strategies] claimed that 85% of the record labels mentioned in GZA’s classic 1995 cut “Labels,” are no longer around.
Compelled by this nugget of rap nerdery, I retweeted, highly impressed that someone had dissected his lyrics and analyzed the current status of each label mentioned. Taking into consideration the obvious shift from the physical state of the record business to the digital era in which we now live, 85 percent seems like a pretty logical number, right? I mean, think about how different the rap game has become in the seventeen years since the release of GZA’s Liquid Swords. Ipods have replaced the Walkman, iTunes is your new neighborhood record store. It’s a new – and sometimes cold – world.
So, it’s feasible that almost two decades later, due to mergers, absorption, and the crumbling market of physical distribution, that only a few of those labels still exist. But only 15% of them still around? That’s a tough number to digest.
With today being GZA’s birthday, and with my fondness for doing tributes celebrating oft-ignored hip-hop moments (here and here), I figured it was a good time to not only honor Gary Grice’s 46th trip around the sun, but to quench my own rap nerd curiosity.
Now, in no way, shape or form am I doubting my boy Combat’s knowledge. But being the “Hip Hop Stat Boy” that I am, I figured it was only right to investigate these claims and do the knowledge on my own abacus.
So after quite a bit of research, here’s what we came up with. Read the labels and say it Loud!  [Read More]

Investigative Reports: Breaking Down GZA’s “Labels”

Last month I saw a tweet that I found to be very interesting, and shocking. My respected colleague, and a fellow hip-hop purist, Combat Jack, [attorney, author, king of marketing strategies] claimed that 85% of the record labels mentioned in GZA’s classic 1995 cut “Labels,” are no longer around.

Compelled by this nugget of rap nerdery, I retweeted, highly impressed that someone had dissected his lyrics and analyzed the current status of each label mentioned. Taking into consideration the obvious shift from the physical state of the record business to the digital era in which we now live, 85 percent seems like a pretty logical number, right? I mean, think about how different the rap game has become in the seventeen years since the release of GZA’s Liquid Swords. Ipods have replaced the Walkman, iTunes is your new neighborhood record store. It’s a new – and sometimes cold – world.

So, it’s feasible that almost two decades later, due to mergers, absorption, and the crumbling market of physical distribution, that only a few of those labels still exist. But only 15% of them still around? That’s a tough number to digest.

With today being GZA’s birthday, and with my fondness for doing tributes celebrating oft-ignored hip-hop moments (here and here), I figured it was a good time to not only honor Gary Grice’s 46th trip around the sun, but to quench my own rap nerd curiosity.

Now, in no way, shape or form am I doubting my boy Combat’s knowledge. But being the “Hip Hop Stat Boy” that I am, I figured it was only right to investigate these claims and do the knowledge on my own abacus.

So after quite a bit of research, here’s what we came up with. Read the labels and say it Loud!  [Read More]

22
Say Hello To Mr. Greico
People are smoking blunts, smoking dust. People have weapons out, long sharp knives, big scissors that you cut bushes with. It was just crazy.”
When S.H. Fernando Jr., better known as “Skiz,” entered Sterling Sound Studios in Manhattan in 1995, he arrived not just as a journalist. Granted, his credentials as a writer were strong: Skiz was already a regular contributor to The Source and Vibe, while his first book “The New Beats: Exploring the Music, Culture & Attitudes of Hip-Hop,” published in 1994, helped solidify his reputation as a forward-thinking voice in contemporary rap.
But on that day, he was also a fan getting a chance to hang out with one of his favorite artists. And while sitting in on the chaotic mastering sessions for GZA’s Liquid Swords, he would become part of one of hip-hop’s all time greatest albums—not as himself, but as the mysterious “Mr. Greico” on “Killah Hills 10304.” In this exclusive interview, Skiz talks with Get On Down about the making of Liquid Swords, his role on the album, and why you should never cross RZA in a drug deal, real or fake. [Read More…]

Say Hello To Mr. Greico

People are smoking blunts, smoking dust. People have weapons out, long sharp knives, big scissors that you cut bushes with. It was just crazy.”

When S.H. Fernando Jr., better known as “Skiz,” entered Sterling Sound Studios in Manhattan in 1995, he arrived not just as a journalist. Granted, his credentials as a writer were strong: Skiz was already a regular contributor to The Source and Vibe, while his first book “The New Beats: Exploring the Music, Culture & Attitudes of Hip-Hop,” published in 1994, helped solidify his reputation as a forward-thinking voice in contemporary rap.

But on that day, he was also a fan getting a chance to hang out with one of his favorite artists. And while sitting in on the chaotic mastering sessions for GZA’s Liquid Swords, he would become part of one of hip-hop’s all time greatest albums—not as himself, but as the mysterious “Mr. Greico” on “Killah Hills 10304.” In this exclusive interview, Skiz talks with Get On Down about the making of Liquid Swords, his role on the album, and why you should never cross RZA in a drug deal, real or fake. [Read More…]

30
Let’s Take It Back to… ‘95
Seventeen years is a long, long time in internet years. Shit, that’s a long time in real-life years. Back on this date in 1995, Microsoft released the newest version of their operating system, Windows 95. (Yes Canibus, you still reign supreme for the “Best Microsoft Reference” in Rap, when you said, “Y’all niggas is microsoft like DOS.”)
Back in those prehistoric days, the Desktop Computer was nothing more than a word processing machine, far from the multimedia entertainment vortex it has become. Imagine for a minute sitting down at a computer (well, first imagine that, if you can….). And sitting down with no RapRadar to check, no WorldStarHipHop videos to watch, no Facebook photos to look through, no Twitter and Instagram feeds. And, most of all, no music to play in the background! Yes, those were the dark days we suffered through in our not-so-distant past.

When Windows 95 first hit, it was issued on CD-Roms or 3.5-inch floppy diskettes (talk about throwbacks…). The retail floppy disk version of Windows 95 came on 13 diskettes, and took over 2 hours to install. [Today I could download the entire Def Jam catalog in that time.]

Because attention spans seem to get shorter by the hour, it’s easy to take for granted how technology has simplified and shaped our music listening. Since the inception of recorded music, constant improvements in technology have dictated the flow of how we interact with it. But in my generation, none of those advancements has been as impactful as the “digitalization” of music.
At this time, we ask you all to ignore your inbox for a minute, put down your iPhones and Blackberries and take a quick trip with us, back to a time when pagers kept you connected, MTV still played videos, CDs cost $16.98 and Chief Keef wasn’t even born yet. Let’s check out August ’95, through the lens of rap music (of course!) … [Read More]

Let’s Take It Back to… ‘95

Seventeen years is a long, long time in internet years. Shit, that’s a long time in real-life years. Back on this date in 1995, Microsoft released the newest version of their operating system, Windows 95. (Yes Canibus, you still reign supreme for the “Best Microsoft Reference” in Rap, when you said, “Y’all niggas is microsoft like DOS.”)

Back in those prehistoric days, the Desktop Computer was nothing more than a word processing machine, far from the multimedia entertainment vortex it has become. Imagine for a minute sitting down at a computer (well, first imagine that, if you can….). And sitting down with no RapRadar to check, no WorldStarHipHop videos to watch, no Facebook photos to look through, no Twitter and Instagram feeds. And, most of all, no music to play in the background! Yes, those were the dark days we suffered through in our not-so-distant past.

When Windows 95 first hit, it was issued on CD-Roms or 3.5-inch floppy diskettes (talk about throwbacks…). The retail floppy disk version of Windows 95 came on 13 diskettes, and took over 2 hours to install. [Today I could download the entire Def Jam catalog in that time.]

Because attention spans seem to get shorter by the hour, it’s easy to take for granted how technology has simplified and shaped our music listening. Since the inception of recorded music, constant improvements in technology have dictated the flow of how we interact with it. But in my generation, none of those advancements has been as impactful as the “digitalization” of music.

At this time, we ask you all to ignore your inbox for a minute, put down your iPhones and Blackberries and take a quick trip with us, back to a time when pagers kept you connected, MTV still played videos, CDs cost $16.98 and Chief Keef wasn’t even born yet. Let’s check out August ’95, through the lens of rap music (of course!) … [Read More]

55
Rawkus Records’ B-Side Bangers
In 1998, the divide within the rap game was at its most glaring. On one side of the stage stood the jiggy, “shiny suit era” mainstream rappers, with CD sales on their mind, expensive tastes, and a penchant for fly cars, clothes, money, cash and hoes. At the other end of the stage was the underground, “backpack”, independent scene, where rappers and crews still made time for college radio, performed small venue shows, and aimed more for putting out records on vinyl than for selling CDs in stores. A strange state of affairs was that this was a year where the dichotomy of Hip Hop was at its furthest split. And then an album dropped and something happened. The deep chasm between the mainstream and the underground was filled, but not by much.
Yesterday marked the fourteenth anniversary of Black Star’s debut album. It was a higly anticipated release celebrated and critically acclaimed album immediately from the moment it dropped. It gave a celebrity face to the indy movement that was going on, and did it’s best to bridge the gaps between the polar-opposite movements that were co-existing inside of Hip Hop’s genre. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, was the second full-length album on Rawkus Records and was the epicenter for the NYC underground movement.
Last week, the good folks at Complex tackled another famous list by profiling 50 Best Rawkus Records Songs. Inspired by the idea to honor Mos and Kweli’s epic release, and the label that birthed it, we figured it was our turn to pay respects as well. Sticking more towards the Rawkus-released vinyls, which was the essence of the movement, we put together a list of 14 of the dopest B-Sides from Rawkus Records. [Read More…]

Rawkus Records’ B-Side Bangers

In 1998, the divide within the rap game was at its most glaring. On one side of the stage stood the jiggy, “shiny suit era” mainstream rappers, with CD sales on their mind, expensive tastes, and a penchant for fly cars, clothes, money, cash and hoes. At the other end of the stage was the underground, “backpack”, independent scene, where rappers and crews still made time for college radio, performed small venue shows, and aimed more for putting out records on vinyl than for selling CDs in stores. A strange state of affairs was that this was a year where the dichotomy of Hip Hop was at its furthest split. And then an album dropped and something happened. The deep chasm between the mainstream and the underground was filled, but not by much.

Yesterday marked the fourteenth anniversary of Black Star’s debut album. It was a higly anticipated release celebrated and critically acclaimed album immediately from the moment it dropped. It gave a celebrity face to the indy movement that was going on, and did it’s best to bridge the gaps between the polar-opposite movements that were co-existing inside of Hip Hop’s genre. Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, was the second full-length album on Rawkus Records and was the epicenter for the NYC underground movement.

Last week, the good folks at Complex tackled another famous list by profiling 50 Best Rawkus Records Songs. Inspired by the idea to honor Mos and Kweli’s epic release, and the label that birthed it, we figured it was our turn to pay respects as well. Sticking more towards the Rawkus-released vinyls, which was the essence of the movement, we put together a list of 14 of the dopest B-Sides from Rawkus Records. [Read More…]

27
How To Be Nice and Smooth like Nice & Smooth
As we approach the Back-To-School season, we all know having the newest, dopest gear is the biggest thing on the mind of every kid across the country. Making sure that you’re the most fresh-to-death as you bop into home room on that first day, is probably more important to any teenager than what his class schedule is. Fashion and Hip Hop share a relationship that extends back to the earliest days. Rap’s pioneers have influenced dress codes from the Dapper Dan days of yesterday all the way on through to today’s style-centric rappers.
Today Nice & Smooth’s sophomore album, Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed, celebrates it’s twenty-first birthday. In paying tribute to that release AND to help the young buck out there who hasn’t hit the mall yet, we went back through their videos and picked some must-have looks and fashion tips from their cache of videos. Rather than feverishly checking your favorite brand’s look book or constantly refreshing the home page of the new streetwear websites, we figured we could provide you with what the youngster’s call it, swag. So let us re-introduce some stylings of Hip Hop’s past, and maybe you too, can be Nice and Smooth like Nice & Smooth. [Read More…]

How To Be Nice and Smooth like Nice & Smooth

As we approach the Back-To-School season, we all know having the newest, dopest gear is the biggest thing on the mind of every kid across the country. Making sure that you’re the most fresh-to-death as you bop into home room on that first day, is probably more important to any teenager than what his class schedule is. Fashion and Hip Hop share a relationship that extends back to the earliest days. Rap’s pioneers have influenced dress codes from the Dapper Dan days of yesterday all the way on through to today’s style-centric rappers.

Today Nice & Smooth’s sophomore album, Ain’t a Damn Thing Changed, celebrates it’s twenty-first birthday. In paying tribute to that release AND to help the young buck out there who hasn’t hit the mall yet, we went back through their videos and picked some must-have looks and fashion tips from their cache of videos. Rather than feverishly checking your favorite brand’s look book or constantly refreshing the home page of the new streetwear websites, we figured we could provide you with what the youngster’s call it, swag. So let us re-introduce some stylings of Hip Hop’s past, and maybe you too, can be Nice and Smooth like Nice & Smooth. [Read More…]

20
Crunching Numbers: Masta Ace Videos (via @getondowntweets)
To celebrate the re-release of Masta Ace Incorporated’s criminally underrated album, “Sittin’ on Chrome“, we decided to re-visit the album seventeen years from its original release.
As we cracked open the Limited Edition 3CD Boxset and the nostalgia of the 90′s coursed through our veins, we realized a couple of things. First off let’s be clear, Ace one of the most unheralded, slept-on MC’s- period. From his early days as a member of the Juice Crew, on through to his most recent collaboration album with MF Doom, Ace has never really received the shine he deserved. In a career which has spanned over four decades, he is continuously overlooked and rarely included on the ever-so-prestigious list of ‘Greatest Rappers from Brooklyn’.
Now this album in particular, has not only held up over time, but actually, it has gotten better! The production, which was mostly handled by Ace himself under his moniker, Ase One, had a super West Coast sound and coming from a Brooklyn cat at that time, this was unfamiliar territory for an East Coast rapper. (Yes, this is before Going, Going, Back Back, To Cali Cali..)
As we continued our trip down memory lane, we had another important revelation. In re-familiarizing ourselves with the album, we realized what a serious influence all things car-related had on many of his tracks. You can feel it in the bass-thumping, trunk-ready beats. You can hear it in the verses of the songs. Duh, it’s even clear in the song names and album title. Whether it was rims, cars with kits, low riders, drop tops, Ace and the I-N-C both obviously had an affinity for whips, dudes loved ‘em all.
At this point we decided it would be fun to do a bit more investigating. So, as we’ve done in the past, we took to YouTube and dug through the collection of his videos from that era. What we discovered was that not only did his music hold a great influence of the car lifestyle, but his videos did too !! Car Shows, kitted-out whips, fly sports cars, trucks, rims, tricked out classics appear everywhere! See for yourself how the numbers breakdown. [Read More…]

Crunching Numbers: Masta Ace Videos (via @getondowntweets)

To celebrate the re-release of Masta Ace Incorporated’s criminally underrated album, “Sittin’ on Chrome“, we decided to re-visit the album seventeen years from its original release.

As we cracked open the Limited Edition 3CD Boxset and the nostalgia of the 90′s coursed through our veins, we realized a couple of things. First off let’s be clear, Ace one of the most unheralded, slept-on MC’s- period. From his early days as a member of the Juice Crew, on through to his most recent collaboration album with MF Doom, Ace has never really received the shine he deserved. In a career which has spanned over four decades, he is continuously overlooked and rarely included on the ever-so-prestigious list of ‘Greatest Rappers from Brooklyn’.

Now this album in particular, has not only held up over time, but actually, it has gotten better! The production, which was mostly handled by Ace himself under his moniker, Ase One, had a super West Coast sound and coming from a Brooklyn cat at that time, this was unfamiliar territory for an East Coast rapper. (Yes, this is before Going, Going, Back Back, To Cali Cali..)

As we continued our trip down memory lane, we had another important revelation. In re-familiarizing ourselves with the album, we realized what a serious influence all things car-related had on many of his tracks. You can feel it in the bass-thumping, trunk-ready beats. You can hear it in the verses of the songs. Duh, it’s even clear in the song names and album title. Whether it was rims, cars with kits, low riders, drop tops, Ace and the I-N-C both obviously had an affinity for whips, dudes loved ‘em all.

At this point we decided it would be fun to do a bit more investigating. So, as we’ve done in the past, we took to YouTube and dug through the collection of his videos from that era. What we discovered was that not only did his music hold a great influence of the car lifestyle, but his videos did too !! Car Shows, kitted-out whips, fly sports cars, trucks, rims, tricked out classics appear everywhere! See for yourself how the numbers breakdown. [Read More…]