Let’s Be Frank-N-Dank


So any given hip hop DJ will laud the utility of some good ol’ instrumentals on vinyl. It allows them to showcase their skills on the wheels of steel without being drowned out by an overzealous emcee. When it comes to instrumentals, J Dilla be the holy grail. So it comes as no surprise that the previously unreleased instrumentals off Frank-N-Dank’s “48 Hours” LP was met with much consumer joy. You can pick up the product in the Stones Throw online store. My concern is the verbiage accompanying the product in the store, here’s some of what I’m talking about:

J Dilla spearheaded a project for two of the most unlikely major label emcees: Frank N Dank. In retrospect it’s not hard to understand why the label shelved and eventually dropped the project.

I get it, I get it. Frank N Dank weren’t The Roots, and they weren’t Mobb Deep. But I was bumping their bootlegs and so were countless others (and this was in Toronto, Canada). Frank N Dank composed of Frank Nitty & Dankery Harv were grimey spitters married to their style and their way of doing things. This ostracized some but made a plethora of hip hop fans ecstatic anytime a random FND track got some airplay. Their involvement in the Detroit hip hop movement inspired a slew of rappers to follow, and gave a vital co-sign to some Canadian artists who now drive luxury cars (ahem, Kardinall & Saukrates).

So please do celebrate this release, Dilla was a genius, and this was one of his finest works. But let’s not use this as an opportunity to subtly blame a couple of uncelebrated dope emcees for causing the delay.

The Dirtiest of Pitts

Another Danny Brown post, I know, I know, guilty, guilty. This is vintage Bruiser, crude references to a cornucopia of sexual activities, I believe there are at least three different types of references to his testicles.  The beat was produced by the production duo Evil Nine and is an ideal canvas for Brown to throw fits over, though he stops and lets it break down at the 2:50 mark, sounds clean as his balls after said sucking by said hoes.

Denmark Don’t Give a F#@k

The new video from Crown Nation member Denmark Vessey is a no-nonsense snippet of the quality that is coming out of Detroit right now, it almost looks too easy. Terminator 2 arcade game meets the neighborhood stoop shot is a classic recipe that DV effortlessly uses to display another Vessey produced banger. Crown Nation has been on our radar for a minute now, but I must admit I am pleasantly surprised that Denmark’s activity has been in overdrive as of late, even with his partner Quelle moving to California. Between the two of them they are inundating your walls/feeds with that next shit. Speaking of which, Quelle also put a video out today, mind you I’m still figuring out what exactly “The Gator Tapes” are, peep that here.

Beatmaster Brown

Apollo Brown gives fans an intimate look at what goes on in the box when he lays down his highly sought-after beats. He takes the audience through a step-by-step lesson on excellence showing how he puts together a beat starting with the sampling and building all the way up to a polished beat. He starts off with a soulful throwback hook for a sample and blends with a basic but raw drum beats that blend fluidly into another hit for the always-busy producer.

See! This is what a video about a producer and a beat should look like. Ayo, Rsonist! Take note, shit, take notes...

ZIF NOTE TO READER: If you’re trying to buy a beat for your project, I recommend hollering at Apollo, you know, before it’s too late/expensive.

The Donut Shop > The Candy Shop [UPDATED]

I told you a few weeks ago about AG pillaging the Dilla shop and coming up with some juicy donuts that he dunked into some hot bars, compiled the Dunkin Donuts mixtape. I’m hopeful that the post-humus career of J Dilla is managed significantly better tha 2 Pac’s. The problem with Pac is that he definitely would have nixed half the shit that has been “released” since his untimely passing. Fortunately the past few Dilla efforts have showcased some of his sweetest beats, worthy of any pastry analogy. Gobble it up here.

Safety Dance


Bars & Twists

* note that these tracks were removed by someone in the sky, they also shut ZIF down for an hour. If you want this album, you can download it for free at Stones Throw Records, or you can get it from me. Either way, way too much hoopla….

Coffee, Dilla, and Twitter

AG copped some Dilla beats and spun this web. It got released on Twitter today. I just started sipping my coffee; judgement pending.

Working On It

Walk On By

Download the mixtape in its entirety here. Oh and FYI, Dunkin Donuts kicks the crap out of all these L.A. coffee chains, trust me on that.

Apollo Brown: Detroit Beat Slayer

Apollo Brown – Real Detroit featuring The Left and Marv Won [ buy it here]

Having just recently released his debut album, The Reset, on Mello Music Group,Apollo Brown delivers the new single, “Real Detroit” featuring The Left and Marv Won. The Left, which is Apollo’s own hip-hop collective is composed of himself and fellow Detroit hometown emcee Journalist 103. With plans to release their own album,Gas Mask, later on this year, the duo set out with the purpose of creating a handful of songs dedicated to and inspired by their hometown. “When we were making the Gas Mask album, we wanted to have a couple songs just for Detroit and about Detroit,” says Apollo. With that premise, “Real Detroit” speaks on the city as a hardened place to grow up, but also being a breeding ground responsible for producing some of the finest hip-hop around. From its violence-laden streets to the hustlers that run and rule those streets, Journalist 103 and Marv Won carry the listener from the safety of their home to the dangerous streets of Detroit. Accompanied with a haunting melody, it stays true that talent does spring from Detroit as Apollo Brown’s beats completes the picture of “Real Detroit”.

Apollo Brown is nice yo. The homie Takstar and myself were checking out his Skilled Trade beat tape from 2007 this weekend, ish is straight fiyah. Something big is going on in the D right now, between Crown Nation, Danny Brown, and Apollo Brown, look out, but that city is on a comeback trail, sans Dilla. Thankfully a bunch of their outstanding artists are marketed through an agency I deal with, so I got the hook up on that Detroit shit, the “real” Detroit at that.

Go ahead and cop the new Apollo Brown album, The Reset, coppable right here. As if you needed more of a reason, here’s one more track to wet that appetite. [below]

Apollo Brown – Hungry featuring Big Pooh and Black Milk

The Roots Smoke Dilla Joints

Click image to download album

No secret in the world of hip hop that the best artists are in its past, sadly, most have actually passed away. Jay Dilla aka Jay Dee seems to have firmly secured the spot as the most prolific producer in hip hop, ever. Dilla joints have been sampled, remixed, and covered by a myriad of respectable and not so respectable acts. It is with great pleasure that I share with you a valiant exploration into the musical genius of Jay Dilla, this time, by the legendary hip hop band, The Roots. Questlove has been covering Dilla tracks for a minute, especially in live sets. This compilation is newly recorded material, of some Dilla material, which is clearly fire. Time to appreciate the past, in the present.

World Of Sadness

She Said

Wicked Ways

Look Into Her Eyes

Louis XIII or E&J’s? A Review of Obie Trice’s Special Reserve

* shout out to Duck Down Records for the advance listen

I’ve never been to Detroit, but I imagine it being colder than a polar bear’s toe nail (god I love Mac Dre) and quite a decrepit place, largely due to the United States’ inability to maintain it’s position as a manufacturing power house. Yet while business and happiness may be dead in the D, often times death breeds new life, and that is the case with Detroit’s Hip-Hop scene. While the Hip-Hop community has never embraced Detroit like it did with New York, L.A., and Atlanta, the hardships of living in a forgotten city has produced some of the illest MC’s and producers to ever touch the mic or MPC. Off top, people will mention Eminem, the whole D12 click (R.I.P. Proof), Royce, Slum Village (R.I.P. Baatin and Dilla), Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, and Black Milk. Yet someone who rarely makes the list these days, despite going platinum in 2003, is Obie Trice. After blowing up way bigger than could have been expected with his debut album Cheers, Obie’s career quickly took a turn for the worse. In 2005, while driving, he caught two bullets including one to the dome, 2006’s Second Round On Me received minimal press and did poorly in stores, and in 2008 he ended his professional relationship with Eminem’s Shady Records. It was a long fall for Obie, but in 2009 he hopes to ascend a few rungs up the ladder with his newest LP, Special Reserve.

Despite a continuation of the drinking themed titles, Special Reserve is a step in a new direction for Detroit’s Well Known Asshole. Unlike his previous two albums, which featured production from some of the hottest beat makers at the time, Special Reserve is a result of Obie solely teaming up with MoSS, someone practically unknown to the public, yet the first producer to sign with the legendary DJ Premier’s new label, Works of Mart Entertainment. Additionally on Special Reserve, Obie takes the path less traveled and has zero features from other MC’s. Who knows if this is a result of lack of funds, or a desire to prove himself, but either way Special Reserve is a great way for fans to see how the past couple of years has affected Obie, as well as get an early glimpse of someone who arguably the most respected producer of all time has given the stamp of approval.

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Charles Hamilton Must Not Like Having A Rap Career

I always thought Charles Hamilton could rhyme, even if his fascination with Sonic the Hedgehog was kind of corny and childish.  I just figured that sometimes (in fact, probably more often than not), very clownish people are blessed with above-average skills.  If he were an artist during the ’90s, we probably would never know how wack of a person he is.  But in the present, we know all about him jacking beats from Myspace pages, getting smacked in the mouth by a girl, and now, trying to fuck with J Dilla’s legacy.


Last Friday, he posted the cover to his upcoming album on his blog, and listed the Executive Producers as Charles Hamilton and James Yancey aka J Dilla.  Strange on it’s own, but he included the following explanation in his shoutouts:

I also wanna thank James Yancey for his guidance in putting this album together. Sound wise, I couldn’t be happier. Again, the album was mastered reel-to-reel/digital-to-digital, and I couldn’t have done the entire process without him being a total jerk about me getting that EXTRA vinyl-ish sound. Thanks Dilla.

Nah seriously. He helped master the album.

You’d think somebody would have made a much bigger deal about this if it were true.  Feeling the heat/hate from bloggers, he contacted some of them personally.  In a phone interview with Sweeney from Rappers I Know, he claims to know Ma Dukes, Dilla’s mom, his daughter, and Phat Kat. He was also allegedly present at the Jay $tay Paid mastering sessions.  To top it off, he claimed  that the “proceeds from my album are going towards the J Dilla Music Foundation.”

It turns out that the J Dilla Music Foundation doesn’t exist.  If he were donating the proceeds from his album to Ma Dukes, it would be easier to let this slide, but his album is FREE.  And straight from Twitter, Ma Dukes confirms that Phat Kat and Illa J don’t know who he is:

Detroit “Hip-Hop Ambassador” House Shoes also chimes in and airs this fool out in the following video:

Ether.  Seriously, I learned when I was 5 years old that lying to get out of a lie comes back to bite you in the ass.  Charles Hamilton isn’t a fan or a stan.  He’s just the most delusional and morally corrupt individual in Hip-Hop.  I’m taking a page out of the Rap Radar book and banning this idiot from Zebra is Food.  Peace, sucka.

Pimp my finances

Xzibit is currently touring Europe and it may be a wise decision to stay on that side of the Atlantic. Recently it has come to light that rapper/actor extraordinaire Xzibit owes Uncle Sam over half a million dollars in back taxes. Wrote a story recently about famous New Yorkers and their back taxes, Dame Dash and Lil Kim included. I must admit this Xzibit situation is rather nauseating to me. I can understand in the case of Dame Dash how accounting can get a little nutty, running a record label is by no means a simple task. And in the case of Kim, well, she came across as a train off the tracks a while ago, not to mention she has more leeches attached to her than a hemophiliac in the Amazon. But Xzibit’s situation is a little less understandable, since he doesn’t run his own label, doesn’t really have a crew, and is totally corporatized, you telling me he didn’t have access to MTV accountants and tax managers? Nah, this foo had it all, his life was ‘pimp’d’ out and he got careless. Not that any of this truly matters, when’s the last time you heard about someone going to jail for this shit? Black or white, good rapper or poor rapper, get your patriotism on and pay your taxes! I make under 40K and I’ve paid diligently, well only had to pay once so far, but I paid. Like Snoop says, you gotta pay the cost to be the boss; that includes your taxes.

Xzibit’s IRS Rap:

$205,485: The IRS filed a lien in this amount on Feb. 4 in the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds office.

$296,355: The IRS filed a lien in this amount on April 17, 2008, in Los Angeles County.

MPFREEE: Xzibit – LAX (prod. by Dr. Dre)