Tag Archives: scarface

#Bandcampgold-MacGregor Park by Fat Tony

#Bandcampgold-MacGregor Park by Fat Tony

by Dan-O

The bandcamp description says Fat Tony read a book on Houston hip hop and found out that the first rap single ever released in Houston was called MacGregor Park, which is where the title track and name of this album come from.

The resulting eight track project is one of my favorite finds of the year (as well as one of Bandcamp’s top 20 hip hop albums of 2017). Every beat slams in the way you would hope a Houston, Texas rap album would but in a really developed way. I love the wind instruments on Ride Home, the pounding bass on Swervin’ (a stupendous first track).

Tony is a no stress listen as master of ceremonies go.  Even when he goes deep he never makes you grab the tissue box for a ham handed tearjerker. He nimbly and honestly discusses fights, food, weed and heavier topics with an earnest pitch in his voice and his pen “..swervin’ alone again back in the day, had no idea of who I really am back in the day made decisions I regretted then lie to your face, blame it all on another man I’m sorry ok…(Swervin’) ” Later when he says “you love me and my flaws I don’t even know why” he’s not sticking the landing of a backpacker line meant to signify how thoughtful he is, rather keeping his music representative of how he feels. While Taydex ,for the first 2 tracks, keeps the beats head nod centric.

I can’t tell you how much I love the Whataburger dedication Drive Thru. Part of this is that I lived in Killeen, TX for a year and now I live in Maine where the fast food options are to be pitied. I kind of miss 4 AM at Whataburger but the dedication Tony has to the song brings it back. Very few rappers are doubling their vocals to shout “Baked Potato!” God bless him for that. We should all shout baked potato more.

The other production force doing great work here is GLDN_EYE who produces the title track, Drive Thru, and Last Night. I don’t know if weird beats come to Tony or if Tony beckons them but GLDN_EYE gets it. Last Night sounds like old Nintendo theme music made into a reggae beat. The beat to Drive Thru sounds like the score for the movie Scarface done by Houston rap legend (my G.O.A.T.) Scarface.

What makes MacGregor Park so relistenable? It is expertly dexterous. The beats are so drastically different not just from what is on the radio but from one another that as an 8 song package it never gets boring to listen to. Tony is hooky melodic and utilizes his voice for as much singing as we are all comfortable with. He has fun, gets serious, gets scary (the park gets scary see the title track) but you always root for him to win. You get the impression that when he does really win he’ll still be eating Whataburger in first class.

Stream or purchase MacGregor Park below:



Sample Snitch-Rick Ross, Scarface, Ice Cube, The Stylistics and Thom Bell—hip hop’s relationship to the song People Make The World Go Round

Sample Snitch-Rick Ross, Scarface, Ice Cube, The Stylistics and Thom Bell—hip hop’s relationship to the song People Make The World Go Round

By Dan-O

The name you need to know is Thom Bell. Philadelphia Soul is known for its grand production, the downside being major name producers treated the singers as dispensable. The notion became “over this production any reasonable voice is going to sound good.” Thom Bell is the man behind the curtain for not just The Stylistics but The Delfonics and The Spinners.

The missing element for Bell who wrote and produced (Linda Creed co-wrote the classic Stylistics stuff) was the impressive other-worldly falsetto leadership of Russell Thompkins Jr. and the end result was the Stylistics self-titled 1971 album. It is one of the very best in the history of R&B, damn near every song is a recognizable classic.

Hip hop has an intimate relationship with People Make The World Go Round. WC, Ice Cube, and Mack 10 remade it into Gangstas Make The World Go Round in 1996, Scarface into Money Makes the World Go Round in 1997. In 2017 Rick Ross’s second single I Think She Like Me featuring Ty Dolla Sign takes the original whole with a slight strengthening of the original baseline. Can you blame him? People Make The World Go Round is the epitome of that 1970’s Cadillac R &B fully formed unabashedly pimpish. While Rather You Than Me will forever be known as the album he dissed Birdman on (very successfully), it’s kind of his Blueprint full of soulful horns and expertly used R & B singer features(Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq), leveraged against thumping snarling takeover music(Dead Presidents, She on My Dick, Summer Seventeen). It really does represent all the things he does well done at their highest level.

Most remakes of People make The World Go Round leave the vocals off, dining on Bell’s soundscape whole hog. Ross kept Thompkins dynamic falsetto in the loop. He didn’t want to conceal how much he owed to the original vision of Bell. Ross wants you to know how dope it was when he first heard it.

The original


Westside Connection version

Scarface version

Rick Ross featuring Ty Dolla Sign

Mixtape Review-Finesse The World by Retchy P

Mixtape Review-Finesse The World by Retchy P

by Dan-O

The easy way to say it is that hip hop needs villains but the statement is incomplete. Hip hop is one of the few genres not just able to readily produce villains but to create albums and mixtapes that speak from the perspective of the villain. In rap the protagonist doesn’t have to be the good guy. The Beatles couldn’t do that.

Retchy P has no compunction about this. It isn’t an act. When A$AP Yams died he took to twitter and didn’t just say he wished it was Wale instead, he tagged him on it. Who does that? Before that he wished it was Flo Rida or Roscoe Dash and added that he was just “thinking out loud.” On Finesse The World P embraces his most unlikeable characteristics, becoming Ice Cube bothering the cute suburban couple at the beginning of Natural Born Killaz. On the first song he negatively namechecks away playing the “this ain’t_” game w/ One Direction, B.O.B, Ariana Grande, Macklemore, and on and on; he says the names with such utter repulsion that it sets the table for a very disturbing listen.

Sometimes it’s disturbing because the beat is pulled from the soundtrack of the few seconds when murder happens in a Hitchcock film (Idk What 2 Tell U) other times the hostility in his voice feels like it’s been saved just for you (Violence). The sex referenced never seems enjoyable just necessary. The drug dealing and violence are the only things that get Retchy P excited. Sure it’s a dark dank perspective that can be analyzed from a ton of different angles as offensive and horrible but that’s exactly what makes it so unique.

The best production award goes to Thelonious Martin who does Dirty Ginger Ale and the mixtapes best song Bad Luck. On Dirty Ginger Ale Martin pulls P out of his minimalist landscape and adds some fuzzy guitars/beat switching that really pushes him. Bad Luck is the power of evil wind chimes and bass drops and P is at his most gloriously hedonistic.

As great as Finesse The World’s highest moments are, it is still an incredibly insular universe. Everyone else around him has so little value that after only twelve tracks we don’t seem to have any more ground to cover. Why talk about women? Retchy P cares nothing of women! Why talk about other rappers, even the ones he likes (Mac Miller) he compares negatively to himself. Other people seem to just be in his way.

After he tagged Wale and wished him death, Wale’s first reaction was to confirm this was indeed his intention (I can understand being thrown off by this situation) but after that Wale responded.

@RetchyP yeah and Id swap U out for a hunnit good men I lost. U wish death on people.. U a different kind of nigga . Enjoy your evening

— Wale Folarin (@Wale) January 24, 2015

Wale’s perspective encapsulates a lot more developed thought process. He’s basically saying DUDE YOUR NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS LOST PEOPLE, WE ALL LOSE PEOPLE, HOW IS THIS HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT? Retchy P does have genuine emotions and chooses to guard them while presenting an impregnable wall but things are way more interesting when you can be the tough guy with no wall. That was Beanie Sigel’s best stuff, Scarface’s best stuff, Styles P, etc. I hope by the next project he’s cracked through to the other side of himself.

stream or download Finesse The World below:


FME Official Guide to The Five Combat Jack Episodes you need to hear

FME Official Guide to The Five Combat Jack Episodes you need to hear

by Dan-O

This is not a podcast review. I have never been able to wrap my head around why those exist. I love podcasts and have heard A LOT of them but only two hip hop podcasts are must listen for me(the other being Ice-T’s Final Level podcast) and Combat Jack is the top of that list. Combat is a former attorney who represented artists, most famously doing work for The Rocafella clique during their heyday. It’s interesting to hear him wax nostalgic on relationships with industry guys like Steve Stoute but that’s not the reason to listen. Without ever coming across as a glory hound looking for pull quotes, Combat manages to really probe and ask follow up questions that don’t put his guest on the spot but put us closer to the guests experience. He’s not afraid to declare his allegiance to what kind of hip hop he supports; he dedicated an entire show to Cormega’s widely overlooked and supremely thoughtful Mega Philosophy album. Shout out to Premium Pete who closes out most episodes with a heartfelt thank you to the guest not just for coming but for being important to the culture. Here are the five shows you will need to hear as a hip hop fan just to catch up.


On top of being a top five dead or alive guy, Face is an incredible interview. He digs deeply into drugs and depression, the problems with rap today. Scarface has such a great nose for talent (having discovered Ludacris and Devin The Dude) that his passionate support of Nipsey Hussle made me completely rethink and relisten. The other really interesting moment from this is Scarface playing guitar and talking about how much he loves Pink Floyd. I don’t like them one bit but I had never heard his favorite album of theirs, The Final Cut, so I gave it a shot and it is awesome; awesome in a totally Scarface way; hardcore, wounded, and honest.

stream or download this episode below:

Dame Dash 1 &2 & any others you can find

Dame Dash is out of his mind. When you get him in the studio with Just Blaze and Combat the old work personalities start to clash again. Dame can’t stop making fun of a jersey the legendary producer wore years ago. Just about anything Dame says sets Blaze off based on the history they have but beyond that…Dame is still important. He’s a brazen reminder for a new generation of hip hop fans that you can do it yourself. You don’t need to go begging for a terrible deal from a record company that doesn’t know how to market you. You can figure it out, and he’s the mouth that never stops saying that.

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Chuck D featuring Keith Shocklee

This is a long one but every second is worth it. If you grew up a fan of Public Enemy you get answers to a lot of questions. You get to hear the story of Ice Cube meeting the production team that gave him Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and the real question…why is Flavor Flav in the group? Chuck is never afraid to tell you why and he really does.

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Ice T

It really doesn’t matter what you think about his music. Two things are unquestionably true about Ice. He was at one time the most dangerous rapper in the world and he’s the best interview in rap. Ice has a way in conversation of being funny when you expect him to be serious, being thoughtful when you expected a simple answer. Everything he says he says confidently and in this long listen he takes you from Michael Mann Heat style heists to hearing himself discussed in Congress. It’s a must hear.

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Joaquin “Waah” Dean Ruff Ryders episode

The mastermind behind the Ruff Ryders come up is at his most fascinating when Combat asks him what it’s like to be forced to wrangle DMX given all of his life’s…complications. The stories that follow are eye opening. The Ruff Ryders were such a special time in music so going behind that curtain is invaluable.

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Theotis Jones does the shockingly unforgettable show art.


I still haven’t heard the new posts for Kool Keith and Juvenile both of which sound like they have top 5 potential.

Mixtape Review-Mailbox Money by Nipsey Hussle

Mixtape Review-Mailbox Money by Nipsey Hussle

by Dan-O

I have said things about Nipsey Hussle like “If he broke in the 90’s he would be just another West Coast Gangsta rapper,” or “I don’t know why everyone cares so much about Nipsey Hussle?” Scarface turned it all around for me. In an interview he did on the Combat Jack Podcast he passionately defended Nipsey to the point where I took to re-listening.

Enter Mailbox Money. His newest mixtape dropped as 2014 was becoming 2015. Nipsey has always had a great ear for production but this time it’s on another level. The tone of the conversation he’s leading and the assembled sounds that back him are as cool as the icy blue cover of the mixtape.

All the reasons I disliked Nipsey Hussle are still very present. The way he rhymes is not great; his delivery sounds choppy like a man running out of breath, his word choice is predictable. The undeniable counterargument supplied by Mailbox Money is that this music is calm, faultlessly sequenced, and very purposely seamless. Pick the silky Vernardo assisted Be Here For A While or bath in the sneering A Hunnit A Show featuring Rick Ross; its all in that TDE, Jay Ant West Coast anti-ratchet Chillwave style. When he brings in R & B voices for the hook its K Camp (see: Between Us) and not another Skylar Grey hip hop assist situation.

It’s rare to hear a free release, fifteen tracks long, that hangs together so well. THC, DJ Mustard, HitBoy, Scoop Deville and DrewByrd all do very different kinds of production but Mr. Hussle had a vision for what he wanted Mailbox Money to sound like. It’s unified but not boring, Only A Case bubbles up with a wonderful curse-word chorus and almost bangs but it never leaves the chillosphere.

The most important lyric is probably on Count Up That Loot where he says “Built this label up just like Russell do, gimme ten years they gone be like Russell who?” and he believes it. He does not say it with any of the desperation that Kid Rock had when he yelled he was going platinum. It’s a warning from one of the hardest working rappers alive. He drops a mixtape every year and his last one was twenty one songs long(he sold it for a $100 a tape at the release party). He’s already working on another one. So while it’s true that he’s not a great or very good technical rapper, working this hard and crafting this polished a product has to make you great.

Sometimes reviewing music is not about deciding the validity of artistry it’s about gauging the enthusiasm of entertainment product. Mailbox Money as a product is spectacularly entertaining. Much like Dom Kennedy (who pops up on Real Nigga Moves) Mr. Hussle has a personality that you can’t help but get sucked into. At the end of Status Symbol he listens to a 16 year old rapper freestyle and salutes his skill. It’s something we used to hear on every great album in the 90’s and he knows that. He’s big enough to give time to people. He’s also not so big that he feels obligated to shy away from issues like police violence; on 50 Niggaz he goes all the way in on Zimmerman and maneuvers the topic with intelligence and tact asking questions like “Could you just accept that we murdered your children?”

As skilled as Jay-z was for a long time a lot of us didn’t know. We thought he was ok. He outworked all his competition and got where he is. I’m not saying we are looking at young Jay. I just may need to think harder about the components of being dope.

Stream or download Mailbox Money:

FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

FREE ALBUM REVIEW- Run The Jewels 2 by El-P x Killer Mike

by Dan-O

Everyone has come up to me the last few weeks asking what I think of the event album Run The Jewels 2. Honestly, I had no idea what to say but at this point I’m willing to take a go at it. This is how a major rap album event used to feel. When the old dogs snicker because Lil B compared himself to 2pac or Joell Ortiz put on his Big Pun comparison again it’s because we know the difference. A new Scarface album, a new Public Enemy or Ice Cube album felt this way. They were always straightforward and in your face; none of this crying in your coffee introspection. Not only were they chest thumping power assertions but necessarily filled with depth. Balance of content was not a gift but an expectation. Run The Jewels 2 has all the electricity, power, meaning and sneering joy of the first track of those old Ice Cube albums. It maintains that all the way through the eleven tracks available for free.

I made the mistake of calling the first Run The Jewels a mixtape and El-P corrected me on twitter. I’m seeing things his way now. Nothing on this feels as off-the-cuff-lets-try-it as a mixtape does; this is an album. The growth from that first collection of music to this one is substantial. While my favorite track is the adrenaline jolt first song Jeopardy which kicks off what I’m calling the most beautiful fight music in recorded history; you could easily make a case for any of the others. Lie, Cheat, Steal a is frank and intelligent discussion of what power means. Blockbuster Night p. 1 is two brilliant minds word game rapping back and forth with unparalleled acuity.

The lesson I learned from the first release was that Killer Mike really is better than your (mine as well) favorite rapper. This time out it’s the depth and beauty of El-P’s production. The sonic universe of to-the-hilt bass and twisted industrial influence is so large and rich it encompasses space enough for Gangsta Boo and Zack De La Rocha to lay the most successful guest verses of the year. Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck) is a rampage made perfect anarchy by Zack’s looped voice in perpetual motion on the chorus. His guest verse makes all Rage Against The Machine fans smile ear to ear. Like seeing an ex looking as good as they ever did and thinking…that was one bad MF. Love Again (Akinyele Back) is brash and sexual with a throttling back beat that Boo lays into. While Love Again is sexual braggadocio and has a chorus about putting genitals in your mates mouth all day it adeptly sidesteps any insulting imagery. I’ve never heard El-P do a verse about sexuality as lovingly as the one on Love Again and it goes to show the influence these two artists have had on one another.

I’m a little tired of reading Run The Jewels reviews about how weird it is that Mike and El have this chemistry. How different their worlds are. It feels a little insulting. A lot of the worst collaborations in hip hop are done by best friends from similar environments with lots of commonalities. These two make each other better. Who cares how that fits into their “cultural” backgrounds? Mike is a sparkplug, lightning rod rapper who pushes El to open up things in ways he wouldn’t otherwise. What they’ve made sounds larger than My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and has the strength to last longer. It shouldn’t shock you to hear El-P scream out tribute to Pimp C it should shock you that these two artists are so much better than you thought they were. Don’t be shocked if their next project is better. Trust these dudes.

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Mixtape Review-King Chip-44108

Mixtape Review-King Chip-44108

by Dan-O

Who is King Chip? He’s the sound coming through the weed smoke in fleets of Fleetwoods, the head nodding stimuli in clusters of Caddy’s all throughout the Midwest. Before his new mixtape 44108 came out I felt like it was going to be important. I was nervous.

Chip is not one of those “flood the market” dudes. He releases long conscientiously assembled mixtapes and he’s been getting better with each one. This strategy requires a lot of patience and patience necessitates forethought which always pays off.

Named after the zip code for his hometown Cleveland, Ohio 44108 is filled with a diverse array of shocking moments. A couple tougher than beef jerky Lex Luger tracks that Chip chews through (Stand Up King and Its Real w/ Fat Trel), smash hits that could dominate the radio (Another You w/ Tony Williams and Kanye West or Vortex w/ Kid Cudi and Pusha T) and shocking hardcore. A N Shot Me feels like early Ice T hardcore story-song, Police in The Trunk has Chip wrapping a police officer up in a blanket and throwing him in the trunk. 44108 has tough music in abundance; sometimes the tracks are stylized mayhem like Thornhill Dr. but the most shocking moments are genuine parts of Chip confessional. Whenever a song begins “My N’s own father shot him in the stomach like four times, he took a step back looked his pops in the eyes and he survived (B*%^ A$$ World),” the artist has your total attention. Chip’s pen is mightier than it has ever been.

The biggest development in Chip is that 44108 is chock full of quotable verse that not only feel necessary but essential. I’m not talking about profound digressions about the world I’m talking about laugh out loud stuff like “I told her to save my name as Shaft, Long in her damn phone,” from Another You or “please excuse my bluntness, oh you don’t smoke…well scuse my blunt B#$%” from Stand Up King. He’s always had the ability to create a vibe in his music that carries it (I’ve always associated this with his close connection to Kid Cudi) and still does on tracks that meander at a gorgeous pace like Actavis but this time he’s rapping on a different level. I’m talking about song of the year candidate If I Die Today where he spits alongside MJG and Scarface(MJG says when he dies bury him in the liquor store)…and holds his own. 44108 see’s King Chip rap alongside Pusha T, Layzie Bone, Fat Trel, Freddie Gibbs, GLC, Travi$ Scott and never once get outshined.

That’s not his greatest accomplishment. He gets great features and great production and really always has. BLK On BLK is one of the best Cardo beats I’ve heard in two years and its suitably bookended with beats from top producers but Chip owns them. He blasts through ever verse, every hook like this is his shot. 44108 proves that King Chip doesn’t really need any gimmicks or proper timing to climb the ladder. He’s climbing it regardless.

stream or download 44108 below: