1. J-Zone presents...Diggin in the Tapes: WNYU Demos '96

    J-ZONE_WNYU_DEMOS96

    Alright, it’s no obscure video of a baby Wu-Tang on Bronx public access TV . But going through my shoeboxes of tapes has again revealed something dope. I wear a size 13, so you know the box has room for plenty of jewels and the box is for a pair of Sauconys, so you know its contents go back.

    From 1994-98 I was an avid fan of underground rap shows on college radio. They presented an alternative to “getting on” in the rap game and were proof that you could be a big fish in a small pond and ensnare a following while completely disregarding what was happening with major label rap music. As an engineer at Vance Wright’s Vee-Dubbs studio in New Rochelle, listening to the likes of WKCR’s Stretch & Bobbito (on Thursday nights) and WNYU’s Mayhem, Sunset & DJ Riz (on Wednesday and Thursday nights) gave me hope when A&Rs at the majors weren’t feeling anything that wasn’t cloaked in a Bad Boy Records influence or name-dropping Italian mobsters that didn’t know or give a fuck about rap anyway. The mid-late ‘90s 12” single movement was brought to the New York listeners via radio shows like these, but both shows were also good for allowing the top artists of that niche to roll through with DAT tapes of their demos or a bag of their rhyme books. A Tuesday post on a blog was a Wednesday or Thursday night debut on the air, and unless you knew someone who was taping, you probably never heard the shit again.

    One night in the Fall of ‘96 I was lucky enough to have the Sanyo rolling when producer Charlemagne came through with a DAT of his productions. From Last Emperor to Mr. Voodoo and the rest of the Natural Elements, he leaked some serious joints that never saw the light of day. Along with Minnesota (Sadat X, Money Boss Players, Grand Puba), Charlemagne was one of the most promising producers of that era - and when the major labels jumped on the indie bandwagon and it failed on a major stage, the producers and artists of that ilk and era never collected their full props. Even worse, the knee-jerk reaction to the sudden end of this epoch was to dis it on message boards and become a Dipset fan in an act of irony; the rep of mid-'90s indie rap has yet to recover (sans a few of the 12"s going for stupid loot online). While some songs have surely aged better than others, this diminutive niche meant giant things to your average college kid in NYC trying to find an entryway to the music biz at the time. I haven’t seen any of these online, so here go the sounds. Enjoy.



    The Last Emperor: “The Empire Strikes Back”

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    The Last Emperor: “Title Unknown”

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    Mr. Voodoo: “C.R.H.Y.M.E.”

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    Natural Elements: “Title Unknown”

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    Essence: “The First of Many Reasons”

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    Unknown Artist: “Title Unknown”

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    I also first heard Common’s “The Bitch In Yoo” on WNYU (the version with one verse aimed at Ice Cube and the other at a pussy-whipped friend), but according to Google it’s not all that elusive. That’s what happens when you live under a rock like I do. Shout to the WNYU crew for regularly bumping Half-A-Mil (R.I.P.) and having him on the show as a guest. Anyone giving a man who rapped about getting his Fila suit out the cleaners in ‘95 ample props and airtime deserves a humanitarian award.




  2. You might wanna peep...

    • http://www.mattnortham.com Matt N

      That 'title unknown' Last Emp track is 'Animalistics' from The Legend of Bigfoot (which never actually released I don't think, but floated around Napster in 2000-something).. Better quality version here for reference if anyone wants it: http://www.sendspace.com/file/012o83

      The other one is also on the same album, but as 'Keep On'..

      Both are dope though, regardless of what they're labelled as. Nice finds.

    • henrik

      that title unknown natural elements track is "I got your heart". released on chopped herrings records last year

    • Krisch

      The unknown artist is Nightbreed (K.A. & Kev).

    • http://www.thetroyblog.com verge tibbs

      ahhh, nice, that NE "I Got Ya Heart" demo is not the one on last year's chopped herring release. Very slight difference. There's no hook where the hooks are.
      Thanks for these J Zone, even though most of us cats who appreciate it already have it. Keep diggin up some more. Need more Half A Mill demos!

      And that Mr Voodoo CHRYME Life og demo version is sickness, i hadn't heard it until i got online and i think it only surfaced like 2 years ago. Hoping it gets released on wax fully mastered and shit.

      Any Last Emp fans from back then when we thought he would blow up, check the tag "last emperor" at the TROY blog, we had a dude VincentLopez who knew him in Philly and got tons of high quality demos we posted including these ones.

    • http://www.thetroyblog.com verge tibbs

      and these are much better quality full versions of VooDoo's CHRYME Life and Nightbreed's Thirsty. Thanks again Zone!

    • http://govillaingo.com J-Zone

      Haha, OK, my suspicions were correct. NOTHING is really that rare when you consider we have the internet. I'm so out of the loop with the blogs and stuff and I didn't know the titles so I had no idea of how to search for these on You Tube. I just knew none of these came out as Natural E 12"s ("Paper Chase," "Shine," "Bust Mine" etc.) back in the day. Good looks on checking out the post anyway. (Cleans egg off face.)

    • http://www.myspace.com/dj_pan bad-cop

      Thanks for these J-Zone. I do believe that Essence track is called 'Hardcore'

      I asked her about it a while back and she still has the DAT, but it's "hidden" in storage.

      BC

    • SunnyMeadowz

      This comment thread is one more reason I absolutely love (most) rap nerds!

    • Jaz

      Ill as f--k post Zone, thanks moneygrip.

    • http://www.thetroyblog.com verge tibbs

      No egg on face Zone. You blessed us with better quality versions that we needed for a couple and an alternate version to one of 'em and I don't think that Essence joint was out there either. You done good for us og tape heads, thanks. Now im out before it looks like im kissin ass or sumthin out this piece. Peace.

    • HecticEclectic

      Love these posts about dirty dusty demos..hopefully more to come. Nice job J-Zone.

    • oskamadison

      Zone, another banger! Natural E, lookin' back on it, were like three (pre-Dre) Eminems. All three of them could rhyme their asses off. Remember that blizzard of '96? L-Swift and A Butta were on Stretch and Bobbito goin' back and forth off the head for (what seemed like) a half-hour and A Butta said some shit like "My dick is 36 inches like the snow on the ground". Stretch and Bobbito, Awesome Two, Hank Love/DNA, Marley Marl and Pete Rock with Future Flavas, even da Beatminerz had a show on Hot 97 for a minute (until the powers that be yanked them and replaced them with that d-bag Clue). The mid-90's was a special time and place in NYC underground radio. Is it just me or did the whole scene fall apart when Stretch and Bobbito split up?

    • http://govillaingo.com J-Zone

      Man I remember Blizzard of '96 like yesterday. I wasn't trying to get that bus to school so I would stay up and tape Stretch and Bob til 5am. I have a tape that says "Blizzard '96" and I know it had an alternate version of Mobb Deep's "Street Life" and G Rap freestylin over the "Incarcerated Scarface" beat. He was killin it. Future Flavas did it for me after Stretch & Bob split (KCR got to bizarre without Stretch there to balance it out). And yeah, then Clue took over and options started running low. I really thought Natural E was gonna blow the fuck up when that Rawkus phase came shortly after.

    • DoubleLGetsBusy

      Man I remember that night like yesterday Zone....Still have the tape somewhere too!

    • naje

      can you re up these through soundcloud or zippyshare or sendspace