Thursday, April 30, 2009

Black & White People Furniture - WTF?

This has GOT to be the most bizarre commercial I've ever seen in my entire effin' life. Especially because it's no jokes. WTF 2x!!!

Combat Jack Presents: Dick On Wheels! Pt.1

My man Fritz put me up on this cat Lee from Brooklyn. Told me Lee was a wheel chair bound paraplegic who was now living the life of a porn star. WTF? He then pointed me to Lee's web site Dick On Wheels (NSFW) and [||]. I checked the site and... let's just say I HAD to interview dude. Lee's already appeared on the Maury Povich show and his star is on the rise. I now bring to you, for your enjoyment, an exclusive Combat Jack Presentation: Dick On Wheels, Pt. 1.

Special thanks to Dallas Penn & Terrence Cam

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tupac Shakur Is Alive?!?

I don't know if you heard but TMZ posted something about Tupac Shakur being alive and well. They even claim to have a "recent" picture of him throwing some back in a bar reportedly in New Orleans. I don't believe it, TMZ needs more people. But if dude did happen to be alive, does that now make him or Lil' Wayne the most overrated rapper alive? I'm asking.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clipse Ain't Lie

I'm not a fan of the whole drug rap genre thingie. Maybe it's because I'm not too into the systemic destruction of a darker peoples. Or could be that 99.9% of these cats rapping it ain't never did it like how they say they did. Clipse, I been effin with them since their debut album "Lord Willin'". Not that I did or didn't believe all their drug cartel talk, I just fux with them on account of how they always put out quality music, how they really really rap that good and how they keep that sense of urgency in their tone.

Did you hear that Clipse manager Anthony Gonzalez was just charged with leading a 10 million dollar drug ring? They even have an unnamed police officer listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the ring. 10 million dollars and cops? The indictment says "the operation has distributed more than a ton of marijuana and more than 100 pounds of cocaine since 2003". How the hell does one move a TON of marijuana and 100 pounds of cocaine and still have time to manage one of the best rap duos out today? Good Lord and Sweet baby Jesus! Not admiring or giving dude props, but tell me that's not gully.

The drug ring was allegedly run out of a Virginia club, Encore Lounge, the very same club that the Clipse are known to mention in some of their songs. It's even stated that Gonzalez bought the Encore Lounge "in November 2007 from an unidentified co-conspirator for 40 pounds of marijuana and about $80,000 in drug proceeds. The club closed earlier this year after more than 100 incidents of violence, shootings, drug dealing and disorderly conduct." According to, "to date, Anthony “Geezy” Gonzalez remains at large. At press time, the Clipse could not be reached for comment." I bet.

I know this is morally wrong, but the Clipse stock just went way the eff up in my book. I don't know about you, but I'm hoping the brothers Thornton don't get entangled in all of this legal fuckery, only because now I'm really waiting for their third album "Till The Casket Drops" to drop later this year. In this rap game, street cred is worth way more than good credit.

By the way, their latest song, "Kinda Like A Big Deal" featuring Kanye West is some kind of fuego.

Monday, April 27, 2009


What's better than good Hip Hop + Comic books?

I called my brother from another borough Dallas Penn this weekend to see what was popping off since I was playing Mr. Dad with my four kids. He told me he had just taken a "deuce" at Bloomingdale's while in the midst of shooting a DOOM video. I quickly changed the subject since his poop fixation is not at all amusing to me. I assumed he was palling around with the artist DOOM, and even asked if he caught a glimpse of dude with his mask off. Heh. Little did I know he was working on this.


I am so jealous right now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

I missed this last Friday, 7pm on Nicktoons. Not too keen on the yung Tony Stark, but heard and read it was dope. Did anyone see it?

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Letter To Eskay And Byron Crawford

Wow. You both know how much I love, live for blog beef. That shit right there is what brought me to this game in the first place. Being that we somewhat fit into the Hip Hop blogger category, it's most definitely par for the course. It's kinda weird though, when two of my favorite bloggers actually get into it against each other. Especially two bloggers that I'm personally cool with. You already know how I came into the game on Byron's site, that right there is a debt of gratitude that I can never forget. And Eskay showing me continuous support, from personally coming out to my book signing to endorsing this blog through the links and what not, whose effin' with that? I'll be the first to admit that beef in this arena has been overdue for some time now, I just didn't expect that it'd be between you two.

Byron, you did fire the first shot by insinuating that the homie was somehow on some payola payroll ish (as if you didn't know). And then you blasted again. We all know how you get down, you're the original shit talker and I get that. From my perspective though, seeing how hard Eskay goes in on the daily over at Nahright, it's more than apparent that the man takes a great deal of pride in his work. So much even that I can see where dude might could get offended by someone calling into question the very shit that makes him one of the very few that's on top of his game: his integrity. Plus the fact that Eskay rarely goes out his lane to eff with other bloggers on some stray shots shit, one can deduce that he's really not the one to play. But eff it, that's what you do, that's what's kept your name on people's screens for so long, you are the original shock blogger and I respect that. I would never ever suggest you switch your style up, I dig your game that much, plus that's not why I'm here. And I'm doubting very much that you would ever take too kindly to any types of suggestions of that sort. I'm just saying maybe, just maybe, you might be enjoying pushing dude's buttons a lil too much.

Eskay, I hear you man, sometimes you just gotta get shit off yer chest, let a knicca know when playtime is over. At the same time, you been in this game long enough to know how Crawford gets down. That nigga be on his best prowl trying to get under EVERBODY's skin. I'm surprised he ain't come for me yet. I see how you run a tight ship and make it a point to stay out of the bullshit, how you remain focused on building the empire that is the Nahright brand, but you been already know how this dude is, enjoying the fact that he set someone off, while he's chilling out in the mid-west, way off in the comforts of his home. Some battles are most definitely worth it, this one, in my humble opinion, is not. Still and all though, gotta respect your gully for drawing the line in the sand. I didn't expect to see you coming, but I can always expect and respect how every now and then, you just gotta check someone. Plus, I see how you kept it moving with like the next 20 posts in the same day, and without blinking an eye. Heh.

Grown men are gonna be grown men and I'm not here to play mediator to a peace treaty on some Russell Simmons/ Ben Chavis ish. If it's a beef ya'll have, then so be it, I'ma just have to pull up a chair and watch how this shit transpires from the sidelines. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I'm kinda fucking mad that I gotta remain all neutral and shit, not being able to jump in with the flagrant comments and diss co-signs whenever the opportunity arises. Two of my favorite bloggers going at it is not the beef I've been waiting for. Especially when all this bullshit kinda originated with the white boy dropping an ambiguously racial twitter comment.

And Speaking of Asher...

He goes and drops the "nappy headed hoes" thing on Twitter. I'm just saying.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ross vs. Roth


"Ante Up" - Chronicles Of A True Hustler, Part 3

Previously: Pt. 1, Pt. 2,

Once again, and like clockwork, T goes in with his memoirs. Here with another installation is Part 3 of Chronicles Of A True Hustler:

A few weeks after I moved back home, Uncle Mark came to visit us. Uncle Mark is Mom’s younger brother, the youngest of her five siblings. Uncle Mark
wasn’t handy with a gun and pretty useless with a knife. He also wasn’t much of a pimp and was a horrible drug dealer. Stealing? Stealing, he could do. Uncle Mark was a good thief, though he was never able to steal himself away from his drug addictions. Hooked on heroin and crack for most of his life, at his worst, Grandma wouldn’t even let him into her house unless he was under constant supervision.

During his visits Uncle Mark would sometimes shower, eat a home-cooked meal or occasionally pay back money he’d borrowed or stolen from us. On this particular visit, while shooting the shit after dinner, Moms excused herself and stepped into the kitchen, leaving Uncle Mark and I alone in the living room. That’s when he pulled my coat. Looking me dead in the eye he said, “I heard what happened with you and yo momma. What you need to do is get you a real hustle. That weed shit ain’t gone make you no real money. You need to get you a real package. That way, if yo momma kick you out again you can get you a motel room, be a man, you know?”

My first thought was, “Why would I take advice from him?” For all intents and purposes, he’s the last person I should be listening to. But, after the way my own mother had just treated me, I was searching for answers, and he seemed as good a
mentor as any. Plus, he was only echoing what I had been hearing on the streets; Crack had become big business, much to the dismay of then Mayor of San Francisco, Diane Feinstein. She, like other Mayors in California at the time, was overwhelmed by the devastating fall-out from the movements of drug kingpins Freeway Rick, Danilo Blandon and drug ring The Dark Alliance. Danilo Blandon was the cocaine supplier for Freeway Ricky Ross, who is credited for the crack epidemic that was ravaging California during the 1980's. I remember seeing her hold up a huge bag of crack rock on TV, talking about how it had taken over the streets, reporters and camera men taking it all in. Watching her holding up that bag, that sealed the deal for me. It was time for me to ante up. I immediately traded in my weed scissors and shoe box for a razor blade and a crisp, clean mirror.

I knew nothing about selling crack. Moms had given me my start on the block with weed but that was "Hustling 101" and I needed to matriculate. There were things that only the streets could teach me and I was an eager student. One day, on my quest to transition from weed to crack, I headed west toward Hayes Valley looking for a "plug", a connect to supplies of that white rock. The popular term for crack at the time was "Hubbas", so popular even that there was a local hit record called "Hubba Rock" by Rappin' 4-tay, if I remember correctly. I passed Po’ Boys Car Wash on the corner of Laguna and Birch Streets, where I’d occasionally see Willie Brown’s car being detailed. Willie Brown was a highly respected State Assemblyman who was always able to come back to the turf. Rumor was that Po’ Boys was a front for a cocaine distribution ring that dealt only in weight. Staring at Assemblyman Brown’s red Ferrari being gently buffed to shine, I knew I was in no position to challenge the rumor, nor was I in a position to handle the kind of weight Po' Boys was "rumored" to move. I wouldn’t know what to do with a quarter-ounce, let alone a quarter-pound. I continued on to the Valley where I hoped to find a hook up more my speed.

“Are you the police?” he said. “If dude is the police and you ask him, he gotta tell you, or else it’s entrapment.” He continued, “You know what entrapment mean?” Before I could respond, he answered his own question. “That’s when the police trick you into catchin’ a case.” Tela V was schooling me, helping me get my hustling legs. Tela V was 3 years older than me. We were like frat brothers when it came to Hayes Valley. We were never in a gang together, but I knew him from the block, and growing up, we both claimed Hayes Valley as home. Though, he would never become DVP (Death Valley Projects), he was a close homey and the first cat I knew of that was hustling crack in Hayes Valley. He hadn’t been selling for long but was already making some money from the clientele he built. His interest in me was to basically make more money with someone he could trust. He was focused on his grind and it showed. Hayes Valley Projects took up a full city block, with multiple entrances and exits. They were a maze of 3-story buildings, clad in pink stucco and grouped around a parking lot with one way in and one way out. The North side of the parking lot would later be renamed Death Valley and South side, Iketown. The whole complex looked like a pink prison complete with external landings for each floor made from concrete and steel. When the police raided Hayes they would often ask for a suspect's address saying, “What’s your cell number? Which cell do you live in?” That's how much of a prison Hayes Valleys resembled, how much of a prison Hayes Valley was.

Tela V and I stood at the bottom of the stairwell, to the left of the Webster Street entrance, shielded from both Webster and Hayes Streets, facing the internal courtyard. He extended his left hand out toward me, palm up. In his hand, he held five milky-white rocks. Each rock looked like separated pieces of a puzzle. “These are double-ups. I sell ‘em for $20 but you can prolly get about $40 off a each one of ‘em.” “You know how to cut ‘em in half?” he asked. As I shook my head to indicate that I didn't, he put one of the rocks in his mouth. And with a clink of his jaw, he spat out two perfectly halved pieces of the boulder he’d just showed me.

“Never keep yo dope on you,” he continued as he curiously surveyed the ground around where we were standing. Kneeling down to pick up an empty potato chip bag, he explained, “Always hide yo dope in somethin’ like this, and put it in a stash, someplace you can get to quick for a fiend but if the police raid, you ain’t gone have nothin’ on you. “Oh, yeah,” he remembered. “Don’t let no fiend put yo dope in his mouth. Sometimes they want to nibble it to see if it’s real. If you slippin’ he’ll put the whole thing in his mouth, switch it and hand you back some fake shit.” I nodded in the affirmative. He paused to look at me reassuringly, “You’ll be alright,” he said handing me the two damp stones he had just spat from his mouth, “That’ll be $20. You keep coming back and I’ll keep doubling you up”.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Combat Jack vs. Mythbusters

A lot of ya'll have been requesting that I write a book of some sort or another. I actually did write one a couple of years ago, "Bling, The Hip Hop Jewelry Book". My publisher is Bloomsbury, the same publisher that owns the worldwide rights to the Harry Potter franchise. Yes. I roll with Harry. It's really good. The same quality of shit that I bring here to you on Today's Mathematics. If you're so inclined, cop it here. Thanks.

I say all this because when we dropped the book, me and my co-author Gabe Tolliver put together a lil' promo video and uploaded it on to youtube. The promo covered a topic from the book addressing the possibility of making diamonds in a microwave from charcoal and with peanut butter and lighter fluid. Really. Funny and informative, the video garnered a lot of hits. It eventually landed in the hands of one of the producers of that Mythbusters show that airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the Discovery Channel. They liked our video, licensed it from us and decided to challenge our infamous diamond making technique. The episode will be airing tonite, 9pm ET/PT and midnight.

I haven't yet seen what they came up with. Peep it 2nite.

I'm hoping they didn't play us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rick Ross - "Deeper Than Rap" Album Review

Perception. is. reality.

Rick. Ross. is. a. fraud.

"Deeper Than Rap". is. almost. perfect.


When he rolled up on the national scene in his white Maybach and monster single "Hustlin'" back in 2006, we all knew Rick Ross wasn't being 100% with us. Especially with him bragging about how fabled drug lord Noriega owed him several favors. Right. Still, "Hustlin'" banged, and which of our rap stars was really keeping it 100% with us anyway? That rumor about him being a former Correctional Officer didn't help Ross' image any, especially since he vehemently denied being involved in any types of law enforcement type activity, before AND after the picture of William Roberts (Ross' real name) in full C.O. regalia surfaced on the internets, clearly showing us all what type of kingpin the "Bawss" really was before rap. Why didn't this nigga just tell the truth?

The past couple of months with him being savagely destroyed by Curtis Jackson didn't help any either. Still, the buzz was that Ross's latest album, "Deeper Than Rap" which drops today was extraordinarily good. So good even that no matter how badly dude was getting sonned before our eyes, this album might could be the one that would salvage the dead brand that is Rick Ross, similar in manner to how the Nas machine was resurrected after he dropped "Ether".

"Deeper Than Rap" is almost that good. With 14 songs clocking in at just under an hour, the only throwaway track is the God awful "All I Really Want (Feat. The-Dream)". The Dream is so overrated and overexposed and it clearly shows on this track, almost so that I wish T-Pain, his Autotune and Akon were on it instead. T-Pain would have murdered it. If you cop this, please do yourself a favor and always skip this one. "Deeper Than Rap" is a lushly produced album filled with melodies that are reminiscent of that beautiful 1970's cocaine soundtrack music, milky piano keys, warm soulful hooks and rain like strings pervading almost every track, every corner on the album. As a whole, this comes as close as possible to being the most perfect grown and sexy rap album ever produced. This is the album Jay-Z should have dropped when he did "American Gangster". The subject matter is basically that same Rick Ross material, you know, the one dimensional songs about kingpins, chicks, cars and one murderous 1990's New York sounding diss track "In Cold Blood" aimed at you know who. Rick's flows are tighter this go round and even complement the stellar production which takes center stage leaving Rick to play the background. Guest artists Kanye West, T-Pain and Lil Wayne ("Maybach Music 2"), Nas ("Usual Suspects"), and John Legend ("Magnificent") help in making Ross sound a tad bit more credible. But not that much and not really. Foxy Brown drops a cameo on "Murda Mami" and as much as I'm a fan of her old work, there's something that's not sounding right about her performance. Trina, however, and whom I've never really felt before, kills it with Ross on the banger that is "Face", a bouncy Southern joint about ... face, that will be banging out of every candy painted whip and strip club in the US. Flex will most def be dropping a bomb to that. Because the production throughout is that dope, Rick playing the background is a very good thing. Producers J.U.S.T.I.C.E League, The Inkredibles, The Runners, DJ Toop and all others truly went in.

And ultimately the problem that cannot be fixed on this album is Rick Ross himself. Not his performance though, he shocks the eff outta me on this. The elephant in the room is Rick Ross. Other than MC Shan and Ja Rule, I don't think there's ever been a rapper who's come out from beef as banged up and damaged as Ross' image. His being a fraud cubed kills every mental picture I have of him, especially since what I perceive him to be is so far from the amazing shit that's presented on the cd. This has to be one of the MOST historic moments in rap history, where a rapper with the most eff'd up image ever drops their most incredible album to a non-believing audience. Almost like Chingy dropping a masterpiece on "Illmatic" level next week. There is nothing known to man that can restore the mess that is Rick Ross. Not this album, nothing. This is a major win AND major PU~ for Ross.

For what it's worth, this is a damn near classic album, the kind that I will be bumping in the crib when I have friends over, only I won't be letting them know it's Ross that I'm playing. It's that good and his cred is that bad.

"Deeper Than Rap" gets 4 Combat Jack salutes out of 5.

Dollar Van Demos


Now that your boy is coming up on his Internets Celebrity status, I'm getting emails from all types of people asking me to play their songs, showcase their blogs and such. I was going over some of them and checked one I received a couple of days ago from this outfit called Dollar Van Demos. Dollar Van Demos have an incredibly unique concept, take up and coming artists, pack 'em in one of Brooklyn's notorious dollar vans along with camera crew, actual drivers and passengers and shoot real demo videos. EFFIN GENIUS. They even have a channel up on YouTube. Like you can expect from demos, few of the artists featured are superstars, but the execution of some of the videos are funny, campy, surreal, and in some instances show potential. Most of all, they're entertaining, particularly when you catch the expressions of the passengers.

I dunno where these local cats are going with this, but their hustle most definitely caught my eye. Check 'em out and see what I'm talking about. Most definitely beats actually having to listen to demos and unknown artist's "mixtapes". Word to Dave Chappele.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"My Slow Flow's Remarkable, Peace to Mateo"

"My slow flow's remarkable, peace to (Mateo) Now we smoke weed like Tony Montana sniffed the ya-yo" Notorious B.I.G. "Live Freestyle - '95"

One has to be special when a famous rapper drops your name in his raps. Extra special even when that rapper is considered by many to be the G.O.A.T. of Hip Hop, the late great Christopher Wallace p/k/a The Notorious B.I.G. Such was the homie Mateo
Zcheval Mulcare who suddenly and tragically passed in his sleep earlier this month, on April 9th.

I met Mateo around 1995, the same year that Biggie dropped his name in his classic freestyle. He was trying to get on as a rapper and called me up in order to arrange a meeting in my office, hoping that I might be able to help him in landing a record deal. Mateo was a giant of a man, standing at around 6'4"/ 6'5". Like all prospective clients, I required that he spit, just to ensure that I wasn't going to waste my time effin with the fugazi. Spit he did, and on the spot, Mateo ripped through some ill lyrics, so much so that I decided to co-sign him, to knock on the doors of my connects, see if they saw what I did, a young man passionate about his craft as a wordsmith and committed to going the distance in making a name for himself. He killed it when I took him to Diddy too, right in the middle of Puff's studio, Daddy's House. Unfortunately, being a big man, the comparisons between Mateo and Christopher Wallace (who was then very much alive and the brightest of rising stars hailing from the East Coast) were way too obvious and Puff, along with several other execs passed on my client.

Having just had a daughter, Mateo remained unfazed. At 26 years old, he knew he had to break through in order to put food on the table. So determined that when he did get the chance to meet Biggie, they went at it, toe to toe on the mike, big man versus big man in an emcee battle. Word on the street was that Mateo held his own against the Notorious one. Afterwards, Big was so impressed with his competitor that he gave props to Mateo in his famed 1995 freestyle. How ill and rare is that? That's how nice my dude was. That and how big his heart was. Big almost had to give Mateo his just propers.

Mateo kept it moving though, eventually publishing PLUSH, a magazine devoted to the art of customized luxury trucks and the lifestyle of those that own and drive them. His work on luxury trucks have since been featured in various media outlets like USA TODAY, ESPN and SPIKE TV.

Mateo's passing was unexpected and took everyone that knew him by surprise. They say the good ones die young and this young man was one of the best. It was an honor in me crossing his path in this lifetime and my sincere condolences go out to his family and friends. I know for a fact that he and Mr. Wallace are up there doing it BIG!

R.I.P. my dude.

TRIVIA UPDATE: The homie Sean, a good friend of mine and Mateo's, just filled me in on the fact that when B.I.G. was kicking the freestyle, Mateo was standing out in the crowd, close to the stage, and when B.I.G. spotted him he threw his name in his rhyme.

Tupac, by the way, was not freestyling.

I'm just saying.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"There's Rules To This Shit" - The Chronicles Of A True Hustler, Pt.2

Previously: Pt. 1

The homie T really liked the way it went down last week, and we're loving the comments. Please keep them coming. Like I expected, he went in and blessed me with part 2 earlier this week. That being said, I proudly bring to you "The Chronicles Of A True Hustler", Pt. 2

The moment Moms foretold finally came to pass. I was on my own. I remember her telling me “Momma may not always be here to take care of you” when I was eleven. I also remember her advising me to make sure I "keep cop money". And I did. I kept cop money. That's like rule #2 to a drug dealer, #1 being "never get high on your own supply". Cop money is what you keep in order to cop more drugs in order to keep inventory in stock. Keep the business alive. No cop money, no product, no money. I got that. And I kept it.

No amount of cop money could ever prepare me for the shock that hit me dead center in my stomach on the day my moms kicked me out of our house and fed me straight to the streets. I was thirteen years old. She screamed at me, “Get the fuck out!". Shit came out from nowhere, knocked every last bit breath out my thirteen year old lungs.
It was the ultimate betrayal. Having Moms choose a man over me, her son, her flesh and blood. Funny how they say everything has two sides though. That day, one of life’s most important lessons was seared into my brain. From that moment on, I would never again rely on my reality as real. I would never again get too comfortable in the comforts of my daily life, walking around, ignorant in trusting in what I thought I knew to be fact, to be solid ground, because at any given moment, I could lose any and everything, and within a fucking heart's beat away. I would never again take a god damned thing I had for granted.

This whole bullshit started because I thought I was smart enough to do the right thing. Ha! Doing the right thing didn’t make me right, it made me homeless and with nothing. Nothing but cop money though. Cop money, the streets, life's lessons and the rules of the game.
We lived on Oakdale Avenue, in Hunter’s Point. The year was 1979. I was just 8 years old. My mother, brother and me lived on 1086 Oakdale. Some of my best childhood memories are from that period, the late 1970's. My friends Byron, Montrell, Lil’ John, Marcus and I had a Big Wheel chop shop in Byron’s garage. Even then I hustled parts to kids who needed their red and yellow plastic three wheeled "rides" staying fresh. We also had a tree house, built atop the nursery school at the bottom of the hill, across the street from some abandoned buildings. White boys wasn't the only ones with tree houses. It was during that period in Oakdale, when I first heard "Rapper’s Delight", the song I played when I lost my virginity with a 12 year old girl who lived across the street from me. That was also around the time that "Chicken", Moms' new boyfriend moved in and started living with us. Moms taught Chicken how to read and shorlty after he learned, he landed a steady job as a bus driver, driving for the city's MUNI system. He wore a shit-brown colored MUNI uniform to work. He was called Chicken because he teethed on a chicken bone when he was a baby. Must've been cute. The name stuck.

By 1984, Oakdale had gone from being a middle and working class neighborhood to a hot spot for drugs. The epicenter was a two-block stretch cut off from the rest of the world by George Washington Carver Elementary School. The intersection of Oakdale and Baldwin Court was ground zero. Baldwin Court was named after the late literary icon James Baldwin. At the time, I had no clue as to who James Baldwin was. To me, Baldwin Court was just the place that had a free lunch program.
I never missed a lunch.

I was selling good weed at the time, had been since 11 years old. On Oakdale, I was among the gangsters and hustlers, men and women, boys and girls, all talking big shit, all getting in where they fit in. The hustle was real sloppy then, not sophisticated. The daily grind was running up on passing cars, throwing 'bows and bumping shoulders, jockeying with competitors for position. Once you claimed a car window, you'd shove your arm deep into the customer’s vehicle, right in front of the customer's face, offering up your wares for sale. The fiends had their hustle on too. They'd slap your hand in the air, causing you to spill your product all over the floorboards of the car, driving off, dragging your ass up the block if you weren't on point. Most times though, it was business as usual, fiends quickly exchanging money for the fattest bag, the biggest rock, and getting the fuck out of Dodge, hopefully in one piece. This one day, I noticed Chicken pulling up, riding in a little shitty brown Ford Pinto. We owned a brown late-model Ford Pinto at the time. It was the same color as the chocolate Thai weed I sold. It was also the same color as the MUNI bus driver uniform Chicken was wearing as he drove our Ford Pinto. The second I spotted the car and peeped Chicken, I laid in the cut, studying real hard to make sure I was seeing what I saw. What I saw was the Ford Pinto as it slowed to a stop, swarmed by the dealers who were pushing and shoving each other until one claimed that window, the victorious dealer walking away from the Ford Pinto counting money. As the Ford Pinto pulled off, my thoughts raced “Chicken just bought crack?” “Chicken is a crackhead?” "Does Moms know she's fucking with a crackhead?" As much as I was thrown off by the scene I just peeped, I was smart enough to want to protect my mother, my younger brother. Angry and concerned for Moms, I bounced off the block, rushing home to tell her that Chicken was a fiend.

Beating Chicken home from across town, I walked through our door and saw Moms making dinner. I told her “You’ll never believe what I saw today”. I ran the whole shit down, how Chicken drove up with some strange woman in the car. How a crowd of dealers swarmed the car. How I knew that Chicken bought crack and not weed because the guy who claimed the car window, who walked away counting money was a known rock star. Moms took that news and waited for Chicken. When he got home later that evening, she lit into his ass. They moved their beef into their bedroom, closed the doors and screamed at each other, back and forth for what seemed like an hour. Their argument spilled out of their room, out into the hallway, to the living room, into kitchen, back into living room, down the hallway and into my bedroom. Chicken was still in his MUNI uniform. Worn from going at each other head on, Moms and Chicken started directing their anger towards me. They both began screaming at me like if I was the fiend seen driving the Ford Pinto, wearing the brown MUNI, kicking it with a ho' riding shotgun. That's the day I came to hate bus drivers and for a long time after that, thought they were all fucking crackheads.

The screaming ended with Moms telling me to "GET THE FUCK OUT!" Chicken's punk ass, cornered like the fiend he was, hit Moms with that old “him or me” routine. She fell for it. She didn’t even give me time to pack a bag. I hit the streets with the clothes on my back, my weed bags and cop money. Moving with my sudden predicament, I headed towards the Valley to look for the homies. I caught up with my man Dark and told him what went down. Surprised that Chicken was smoking crack, his response was "If you want, I'll help you catch and smoke that fiend ass nigga." And I did want to catch Chicken. Catch him one morning, coming out the house in his MUNI uniform, on his way to work. Catch his ass by surprise the way he caught me when he rolled up in the Ford Pinto to buy crack. I didn’t want to smoke him though, just swing on him with something cold and metal. Let him feel me giving back some of that pain, see me bringing him close to death. Have him scared and scarred, knowing that whenever he saw me, he saw the person who held death over him. Moms loved him too much though, and I fell back because me hurting him would only result in her feeling more pain, more hurt.

Dark let me crash at his house until I could figure out my next move. A week later, I visited my Grandma Jones on 3rd Street. After sitting down for some dinner and bringing her up to speed as to my whereabouts, my current situation she said “You know, your momma called me. She said she want you to go back home.” “Ain’t this a bitch?” I thought to myself. “She let that nigga turn her against her son and now that I'm out, she wants me to come back home. Fuck that and fuck her!” I responded "Really, I'm cool with that". Streets were no joke and I knew I had to keep a roof over my head, knowing I couldn't stay at Dark's home much longer. Plus, I had to keep an eye on my brother. It took a few days for me build up the stomach to tolerate Mom's and Chicken’s bullshit. When I did get home, Moms and Chicken played like the whole scenario never play out like it had, like it never took place. They did their best to act "normal". I played it like I never forgot, understanding that in moving forward, shit would never be "normal" again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Asher Roth "Asleep In The Bread Aisle" Album Review

This past weekend, I was up in Ithaca, NY, speaking on a panel at my Alma Mater, Cornell University. I was on a panel with a couple of Cornell grads who ran with their Ivy League degrees and went on to having a career in the music industry. Like the homie Londell McMillan, a fellow classmate of mine, entertainment Attorney and current owner of the Source magazine. I remember when me and him would run through the campus rocking doo rags, shell toe Adidas and fat laces, he rocked the Cazals. The event was truly dope. Between the students soaking up game, the crazy architecture sprawled out across the ginormous campus or the beautiful town of Ithaca, New York with all its gorges, mountains, rivers and quaint college town, it made me remember how much I loved college. Best effin four years of my life. I feel so grateful in that I was able to transition from Lincoln Place between Albany and Troy Avenues, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, with the crack jackers crack jacking up the block to waking up on campus, on late and lazy Sunday afternoons, with the crazy hangover from too much keg brew and with a young and warm co-ed snuggled up under my comforter, trying hard to not wake up in order to avoid her liquor induced headache from the night before. I loved college.

Which is why I was extremely amped to review Asher Roth's freshman album,"Asleep In The Bread Aisle". Having just mentioned him last week, it might seem like I got sucked into the hype beast surrounding dude, but other than "I Love College", "Just Like I Em'" and his "Roth Boys" freestyle, I did a great job of not having heard his work until I had the opportunity to listen to the album in it's entirety. Here's my review:

"Lark On My Go Kart"
Ahser starts the lp nice, spitting a controlled and smooth flow, white boy inflection and all. The track is crazy too, rolling beats, dirty bass, dusty ass sounding sample. I'm not mad, and now I see where dude says he studied Jay-Z, not in his wordplay but in his tone, on how he rides the beat while keeping his voice on a perfect and steady pitch. This track here is tight and right.

"Blunt Cruisin'"
Slow and low dubbed out beat with traces of reggae and a jungle type break. As a dude whose first single is about how he loves college, this here is the required ode to weed smoking. His lyrics and flow sounds like Asher is spitting free association and under the influence. The song as a whole doesn't grab me, coming off somewhat lazy sounding, but I kinda could see how if I was in college this Spring, and this was being banged out of a dope system, in a small setting, with chicks dancing and with the scent of burning herbals wafting through the atmosphere, warm Guiness in hand, I might could like this a bit more.

"I Love College"
Me too! Perfect single. Never gave it this much attention before. Great pop song but with bass guitar licks that manage to sink into my system. Mellow ass hard beat. Roth does a great job of reminding me why college was the best time of my life. I wish this came out back then. Nice song to get up close to that cutie majoring in engineering, get her to take her study break back to your crib off campus.

"La Di Da"
Sounds like he's sharing some personal issues. Simple melody, soulful vibe, problem is I'm just not connecting with Asher. Not to come off all judgemental on dude, but this here sounds like he ain't really go through some hellish life shit yet, the type of shit that would give his message here just a little bit more depth, a bit more desperation. I don't believe him.

"Be By Myself (featuring Ceelo)"
Groovy song, good to hear Ceelo. Solid hook with Asher flowing, once again though, his words are lost on me. Very Gnarls Barkley sounding, like it should. Might have legs on alternative based college radio shows. Maybe.

"Don't Wanna Man"
Way over-produced for this album. Not bad production mind you, just too obviously and clearly aimed at the pop charts. I'm also starting to get annoyed that I'm not retaining any of dude's lyrics, not really feeling his mind-state. As different as possible from "I Love College" or "Lark On My Go Kart", both of which set the stage for that classic crunchy college album you might think this is, or might want it to be.

"Sour Patch Kids"
Asher goes in deep. Raps about issues like capitalism, war, America's games of lies and deceipt. Problem is Asher doesn't go deep enough for my liking. When I was in college, one of my boys was really heavy on the whole anti-apartheid divestment movement on campus. I personally think he went in only to score with the white chicks. No doubt I would show some support by attending some rallies, but my dude would go the whole nine, sleeping overnight in some janky ass cardboard shanties, all up in the snow and rain and mud. One of the few (if not only) Black dudes that was camped out on campus with a whole lotta white kids. The first time the cops came to bust that shit up and dragged his protesting ass straight towards the paddy wagon, his heels digging deep in the grass as he peacefully resisted arrest, me and my ignorant ass crew stood by the sidelines laughing our asses off as him being subdued was some of the funniest shit I'd ever seen. Just as I'm making it clear here that I wasn't the type to take certain issues on campus that serious is how Asher sounds, only with him trying his best to convince me that he is that concerned dude. Not bad, just not translating. I'm not believing him and I'm wanting to hear something from him again that can make me believe. Great rocking and bouncy funk track though. Good production.

"As I Em (featuring Chester French)"
Being as how him being white and having to be compared to Eminem must really be annoying, Roth comes off sounding like this is some valid personal close to home shit he's going through. Being that the whole white rapper thing is a real issue, Asher's delivery sounds sincere on this one, so much so that I really feel his pain. When Asher raps about issues that Asher really goes through, he sounds at his best. This is most definitely his lane, you know, the white rapper being misunderstood and unfairly being compared to Em. Tough dilemma to be in, but he pulls it off with flying colors. I believe him.

"Lion's Roar (featuring New Kingdom and Busta Rhymes)"
Decent Timbaland sounding pop track, horrible effin sequencing in that it follows "As I Em" which was a great transitional track for Roth to up the ante thematically/ lyrically for the rest of the album. The double time rap thingie is not for him. Busta comes in and does a great job though, carrying the track on his shoulder in order to assist Roth onto the next track. Great save on Busta's behalf.

"Bad Day (featuring Jazzy Pha)"
Bouncy laid back bounce. Pop rap story song about a plane ride gone terribly wrong, starting with Asher having forgotten to pack his i-pod. Same vein as classic 80's songs like "Parent's Just Don't Understand" or any Slick Rick rap tale of woe. Roth manages to come back into his lane after having swerved off a coupl'a too many times. I believe him on this one too.

"His Dream"
A song about his father. Very autobiographical in nature. Decent song. Felt it would have been better and that I would feel it more if this was on his next album as opposed to his first.

Great song with Asher reminiscing back to the 7th grade when he first started studying Jigga, how he fell in love with rap wordplay. Asher's doing Asher. I believe him.

"Perfectionist (featuring Beanie Sigel)"
Decent braggadocio joint. Until Beanie shows up to murder him on his own shit. Interesting to see these two team up, but not certain that the whole odd couple thing works.

"The Lounge"
Jazzy slinky joint about what a rapper looks like and how Asher doesn't fit the bill. "How I Em" kinda already tackled this issue.

Let me be clear, I really like Asher Roth when he's doing Asher, or at least what I think him doing Asher is. Not trying to pigeonhole his artistry, but Roth sounds more at home when he's rapping about shit that sounds like he's experienced or gone through first hand. "I Love College" was the perfect set up for that perfect college album based on issues and situations that most freshmen in college go through. As much as I wanted to love this record as a whole, it sounded like it was all over the place. Over ambitious even. Doesn't mean that there aren't a good deal of singles on "Asleep In The Bread Aisle", the album has plenty. This album will do very well for all the obvious reasons, and being what it is, I'm not mad at that. It just sounds like being the freshman that he is, Asher was way too eager to go from frosh to J.V. in sixty seconds, missing out on the perfect opportunity to drop that classic freshman album.

That being said, "Asleep In The Bread Aisle" gets 3 out of 5 Combat Jack Salutes.


Lars von Trier's Antichrist - Official Trailer from Zentropa on Vimeo.

Sorry I've been taking a while cooking up some more posts. They're coming, trust. But in the meantime, I just came across this trailer which looks creepy as all "hell". The movie is directed by this Danish cat Lars von Trier. Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the flick is about a married couple who take to the woods in order to cope with the death of their young son. Like most movies, once they get to settle down in their cabin, the shits and giggles start to pop off. Enjoy.

Courtesy of Ain't It Cool News.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night..."

Dunno if you're up on the recent string of animated straight to DVD/ blu-ray hits DC has been dropping. With dope titles like "Batman: Gotham Knight", "Justice League - New Frontier", "Superman - Doomsday" and "Wonder Woman" their next heat rock "Green Lantern - First Flight" is looking good. Plus they landed a PG-13 rating to bring some gully to the party.

Over the past 10 - 15 years, Green Lantern has become one of my favorites. Might have to cop.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Asher Roth: "As I Em"

Other than that college song, I have not given dude a listening too. Too much hype, plus that whole white rapper who sounds a little bit like the G.O.A.T white rapper thingie. Decided to pass on him until the CD dropped, give him the full dissection. Just listened to this. Sounds like a white rapper who sounds a little bit like the G.O.A.T. white rapper. I slept. Kid is effin mangoes on this one. Really want to hear the CD now.

I'm not mad at Asher Paul Roth

Courtesy of DJ Vlad.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Can't Knock The Hustle, The Chronicles of A True Hustler, Pt. 1

I never idolized drug dealers. Their way of life seemed too risky and way too dangerous. I do deeply respect the few that I know. And I know a few. Seems like the ones I knew the best were filled with an incredible sense of wisdom, a clear sense of mission as to why there were here on this planet and what they had to accomplish before they left this life. I most definitely met a lot during my career in the music industry. I don't think it's a coincidence that the one's that made the successful transition from working the streets to becoming successful execs in the industry are the few people who continue to make good coin today. The honest way. It did take me by surprise a few years back, when one of my closest friends and former housemates from law school decided shortly after graduating from Georgetown Law that he would forego a career in law in order to hustle drugs. And not street corner slanging either. Because of his credentials, my dude placed himself in a position where he was able to move some serious poundage during the early 1990's. Even lent me the seed money needed in order to start my law practice back in 1995. Good dude. Eventually, he got busted and did time twice, first state, then federal. Shared the fed time with his twin brother who graduated from Columbia University and was on his way to med school. It felt good to pay him back, and then some, once he got out from doing his bid, like maybe the money I paid back would help him get back on his feet. Crazy shit, but no embellishment.

Which brings me to my dude "T". T is an upstanding citizen of the community. Brooklyn homeowner, married to an accomplished writer, a father and an extremely successful real estate agent. Top exec in New York's top real estate company. Member of the block association even. Dude moves brick and mortar like nobody's business. I met T a couple of years back, when my wife and I were on the market for a home. T was real patient, extremely forthcoming with information, especially because I was intimidated by all the things I didn't know about real estate, me being a potential first time homeowner. As we got to know each other better, his kids playing with mine, his wife bonding with wifey, dude began to share some things about his background. How he was from out west by way of San Francisco, how he grew up in an extremely disfunctional family, with a father who was a pimp, sometimes dope dealer and full-time drug addict, a mother who became strung out on heroin at the age of 17, how most of his uncles and aunts were drug addicts who had died of drug overdoses, one dying of aids because of his affinity to the needle.

Some real heavy shit, but whenever T shares his experiences with me, it's never coming from a place of "check my street cred stats" machismo bullshit, it's more like dude is reflecting on the worst aspects of his upbringing with a sense of appreciation as to who he is today, the hurdles he's had to overcome in becoming a successful businessman, husband, father, human being. Almost like he gets this big joke about life and is somehow trying to let me in on that joke. There's no glamorizing or glorification in his words.

T eff's with the Combat Jack blog heavy, and has started writing some of his experiences as an exercise in expression, in growth, in strengthening his skills as an writer. As much as he enjoys doing what he does, selling homes to those that can afford one, he does not want to become complacent in becoming just one thing. I'm really honored that my writing has inspired him to write more. Recently, he's begun to share with me some of his writings. In reading some of his work, especially with regard to his memories as a young kid growing up in the streets of S.F., I was blown away by the things he's lived through and how he's been able to make it over to "this" side. In a sense, his experiences are inspirational to me, in helping me to overcome the challenges that I face on an almost daily basis. I've asked him if he would allow me to share with you pieces of his "memoir". T gave me his blessings, and I promised him I would do my utmost best in bringing his words, his story, his life to you. I truly hope that I do this man's history justice. If what Shawn Carter raps about is true, Jay-Z ain't the only one that dabbled in crazy weight and survived the "game".

That being said, I proudly bring to you, in the words of T, The Chronicles Of A True Street Hustler, Pt. 1

Looking back on my life, in hindsight, I'm able to recognize that some of the worst things that have happened to me were some of the best things that happened to me. Growing up in Hayes Valley, better known as "Death Valley", I received strict "professional advice" as to what my career options were at a very early age. Around the time that I was 4 or 5, my father and my mother's brother, my uncle, would often lecture me on the only two choices I had to look forward to when I grew up. "Niggas round here grow up to be either a drug dealer or a pimp, you need to figure out what you gonna be early, before you get twisted up in some bullshit. Don't ever forget that shit T." My pops used to drill that shit into my head relentlessly. He came from a family of pimps. Through my father, I learned that one of the best ways for pimps to keep their women on a tight leash was to get them strung out on drugs, on heroin, and as soon as possible. My mother met my father when she was in high school. Fell in love with him. By the time she was 17 years old, she was addicted. I don't know if she was using when she was pregnant with me or my younger brother, but I knew she was an addict, and for a very long time. Eventually, my father became an addict as well. My younger brother and I soon were left to be raised by a drug addicted single mother. At the time, I understood these things that I lived through to be normal, and as hectic as shit was, I was content in my extremely fucked up conditions. Maybe that's because that was all I knew.

By the time I turned eleven, I decided to choose drugs over the family business, I decided that I would become a drug dealer. With mom's zoning out on her highs, I felt I was old enough to earn a living and keep food on the table for my younger brother and me. Although I got first hand training in the skin trade, I wasn’t much into pimping. Maybe I was turned off by pimping because I grew up watching my mother catch regular beatings from my father. My brother and I never intervened, but when the beatings were over, we'd look after moms, cleaning her up, consoling her they way she should have been able to do for us. When I finally shared my decision as to my profession to be with my mother, she was very supportive. So supportive in fact that she sat me down at the kitchen table in order for her to instruct me with my first lessons in selling drugs. She started off explaining to me that she loved me very much. That because she wouldn't always be there to take care of me, she would show me how to hustle to make money so that I'd always be able to take of myself. She said "remember, no matter what, you’ll always have a hustle to fall back on.”

And the lesson began. She went in her room and came out with a huge bag filled with marijuana. She placed some of the marijuana on the kitchen table. “This is a quarter-ounce of weed,” she said. “It weighs 7 grams, plus the sandwich bag makes 8 grams all together.” She continued, “Never pay more that fifty-dollars for a quarter and never, ever let me catch you selling anything for anybody else. Only hustle for yourself.” I listened to her intently. After emptying the weed into an empty shoe box, she took a small pair of scissors in one hand and some weed in the other. “This is how you break it down.” She snipped and crumbled the quarter into a fuzzy green mound, removing the few seeds and stems along the way.”See, now you have to let it dry out a bit. It’s heavier when it’s wet and sticky, you’ll end up over stuffing your bags. When it dries out, it will fluff up and fill out the baggies more.” I nodded as if to affirm her observation, not having a clue of what she was talking about. She took a baggie, stuffed it and placed it on the table between us. “This is what a ten-dollar bag should look like. Now, bag up the rest of this weed and make’ em all look like this one. ” I followed my mom's orders like a good son. I figured out that rubbing the baggie between my thumb and index finger

made them open easily. The weed felt crisp and crunchy between my fingers, and it's skunky aroma wafted up into my nose, made my mouth water.

Moms returned about a half hour later, “8 bags”. “Not bad,” she said. “But your bags are too fat, you''re giving money away, nigga. Take some weed out of these two and get one more bag out of ‘em.” After a couple of more turns of breaking down, packing, weighing, after my moms felt I was getting the hang of packing weed bags the right way, efficient and economical with my servings, I felt I was ready to hit the streets. My moms introduced me to one of her, one of my father's connects. I felt grown, extremely pleased with myself and the responsibility that I was readily assuming. My next step though, was to figure out how I was gonna survive the streets. See, niggas in my neighborhood started gang banging heavy, and I wasn't yet down with any gang. I had to get my shit "affiliated". There was no way I was going to place myself out on the streets of a war zone, alone at 11 years old and with no muscle." Fuck that! I need to get my muscle game up and intact.


Uhm, I Like Fish Sticks Too. [||]

I do have kids.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Combat Jack Salutes RUN-DMC

If you're younger than say, 34, 35, close your eyes for a minute and as impossible as it may be, try to imagine a world without Hip Hop.

My first experience with Hip Hop was in the summer of 1978. My best friend Frank, who lived up the block and was two years older than me, used to be a messenger working at a courier service down in the Wall Street area. At work, Frank would hang with some brothers from the Bronx and Uptown and as they would build during their lunch breaks, they would tease my man with snippets of live performances from groups with bugged out super hero sounding names like Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five, Kool Herc and the Herculords and the Cold Crush Brothers as they performed musical routines in an art form then unknown to the world. It was most definitely unknown to cats like me in Brooklyn. For a couple of weeks after coming home from work, Frank would desperately try to explain this new sound called rap coming from Harlem, banging from the Bronx. I had no concept of understanding what the hell my man was talking about, or what the fuck a Melle Mel or a Grand Master Caz was, only that it had the homie Frank amped. This one Thursday night, before payday, Frank convinced me to pony up $5 and go half with him on one of those cassette tapes he was going on about, said he would cop a Grand Master Flash & The Furious Five joint. Little did I know that after that night, my was life was never going to be the same.

That next day, on Frank's stoop, on Lincoln Place in Brooklyn, as he popped the tape in, and emcees Cowboy, Raheim, Kid Creole, Scorpio and Melle Mel invaded my senses, hypnotized by how Flash was savagely raping beats with his furious cuts and scratches, my whole d.n.a. metamorphed into something else, something new. As a young teenager trying to find his way in a changing world, the music that I heard that day seemed like it spoke only to to me, the lyrics was about shit that only I could relate to. Growing up on r&b, soul, funk and disco was cool, but on that very day in 1978, in discovering the beginnings of a culture that I would wholly become a part of, in speak, in dress in attitude, in perspective, I became a B-boy. On that fateful day, I became complete.

Over the next year, my cassette collection blossomed with the likes of Kool Herc and The Herculords, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, Busy Bee. On top of Melle Mel becoming my first rap idol, The Cold Crush Brothers stayed being my favorite crew because they kept their routines sounding fresh and on the way they sounded in their famed battle against rival crew The Fantastic Five. I still have that CCB vs. FF cassette, and even though the FF officially won that, I claim the Cold Crush the true winners. In school, I stayed having an edge on my peers since I was so much more up on Hip Hop than they were. Some cats began to think my shit was a bit weird in how I kept my jeans creased, how I would flip if a sucker scuffed my Adidas, my Hush Puppies, my Puma's, how I stayed with the ice grill when cats I didn't really eff with too tough was around me. Hip Hop was my own little private world, and the more private I kept it, excluding clowns that wasn't down, the happier I was. I was steady tripping on that young teenager shit. My definition of nirvana was sneaking out after dark to the park, packed with other teenagers crowded around our local deejays with their makeshift turntables and speakers blasting the break beats of "Seven Minutes of Funk" by The Whole Darn Family, or "Mardi Gras" by Bob James as our local rappers lined up, waiting patiently for their chance to rock the microphone, their only shot at a brief moment of stardom, weed smoke from all the burning joints further expanding our young consciousness as we danced, grooved, romanced, postured and thugged out in this very private, intimate world of ours. All this without a record deal.

On an October morning in 1979, as I was getting ready for school, I was listening to WBLS when my world was changed again. That morning was the first time I heard "Rapper's Delight" on the radio. Although it was the first rap record I heard on the airwaves, I was pissed. Pissed at how these Sugarhill Gang rappers sounded fake, nothing near as authentic as the cats I had been following on cassette, even though they rocked that Chic "Good Times" beat that had flooded every hood in the US. Plus they looked whack and had corny sounding names like Wonder Mike and Big Hank and Master Gee. Out the gate the record industry betrayed me by insulting my Hip Hop intelligence with a rudimentary Mickey Mouse ass sounding song as it's very first rap single, still and all, I grew to like, grew to love that record as they started playing it at all the little parties I was going to, how the girls who wasn't up on Hip Hop loved to dance to it. How that record was the first official corner stone that went into the construction of the rap music industry. Right after "Rapper's Delight", it seemed like every one was rushing to put out a record, further gelling the makings of a growing musical genre. My favorites, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five and The Cold Crush Brothers got a chance to do their thing on wax, and even though some of their records took off and it felt good to hear my original rap heroes on wax, the sound that I first heard on cassette, primal, raw, fresh was replaced by slick production, almost a smooth blend of Hip hop beats with a lil of that r&b. No doubt I stayed fiending for that next single, that next banger, but over night, the era of the sound of rappers performing the most original of routines as their deejays spun, mixed, cut and scratched records with the crowd screaming in the background was replaced with the rap record. My private little Hip Hop world was now part of a growing industry and teenagers from Brooklyn to Beijing began to take note, began to become a part of this new culture.

Mr. Magic kept me up late on weeknights, trying to catch the latest joints way before anyone else. Rap albums started being released and even though they rarely felt quite cohesive in content and theme, we kept dancing. In 1983, I started hearing "It's Like That" by a group with the unique name Run-DMC. "It's Like That" was cool, but at the time, it was nothing that made me take note. Shortly after, I heard "Sucker MC's" at a block party in Bed Stuy and me along with the crowd went ape. That record was the first time I heard a single that fully captured that feel that I had when I used to rock my earlier rap cassettes, a parse driving beat, cutting and scratching, two rappers spitting fire, nothing more. No chorus, no r&b inflected baselines, no chorus, just that out in the park late at night vibe, packaged neatly as the b-side to "It's Like That". "Sucker MC's had Run-DMC standing out and apart from the herd, right out the gate. Even though they released the follow up single "Hard Times" that was similar in nature to "It's Like That", the heat rock single next launched from the Run-DMC chamber was the instant classic "Rock Box". "Rock Box" was that perfect mix of hood rap and rock strings, what with that electric guitar riff making that joint sound hard as hell. In addition, the single was accompanied by a video, an artsy looking black and white piece that visually showcased the young rappers, Run coming off with the most arrogant of emcee swagger, DMC looking like the B-boy hard rock version of Frankenstein, stiff, menacing, hard, [||], Jam Master Jay showing off his Hollis cool as he manhandled the turntables. Not only did these cats have the hottest song and video out. They also dressed like me (or like how I wanted to dress). Gone were the coked out, older looking rappers with the Jheri curls, leather, lace and leopard, who were desperately trying to jack r&b's and disco's smoothed out and slightly homo-erotic glam look [||]. Run-DMC were the new niggas on the block and with one fell swoop, they declared with "Rock Box" the death of Hip Hop's "old school" generation artists that laid the foundation. Looking like it was shot at a party representing New York City's then downtown scene filled with Punks, whites and a smattering of Black faces, "Rock Box" is known as the first hip-hop music video to air on MTV. Cementing their place in history with the release of their eponymous debut album in 1984, Run-DMC dropped what some consider to be the first true rap album.

Becoming Hip Hop's first true widely recognized stars, Run-DMC set out to conquer not only rap, but the rock genre as well with their follow up release "King Of Rock" which dropped in 1985. Because of the noise they made with their first album, many esteemed critics from the rock establishment began dismissing the group's accomplishments, shitting on them and rap as a whole as not being a true art-form, that Hip Hop was just a passing fad for ghetto kids, that it wouldn't be around that much longer. In what was a shot aimed against it's critics, Run-DMC's next single and video, named "King Of Rock" had the group dissing major pop acts like Michael Jackson, the Beatles and even Elvis. On an intense drum beat and a scathing base line loop, further expanding on the rock feel introduced by "Rock Box", Run-DMC boldly claimed themselves to be the new kings of rock, kings of pop even, and dared every one out there to test them. In retrospect, this was such a brilliant effin move, shutting down all potential rap competitors and aiming for the top spot in one shot. It also helped that the single was fuego and MTV stayed jocking the video in major heavy rotation. Matching Hip Hop's street intensity with rock and roll's colossal instrumental sounds, Run-DMC convinced the world that they were here to stay. The album also broke all Hip Hop records in that it was the first to go gold and then platinum.

If "Run-DMC' is considered to be rap's first complete album and "King Of Rock" it's first major crossover, the following album "Raising Hell" released in 1986 is deemed rap's first masterpiece. Taking over most of the production, legendary producer and co-founder of Def Jam as then partner to Russell Simmons, Rick Rubin went in deep with this one. Whereas their prior records had combined elements of dense and sparse production, "Raising Hell", at the time, was simply the best produced rap record ever. The hits on the album were plenty with classics like "Peter Piper", "It's Tricky", "My Adidas", "Walk This Way" and "Raising Hell", what on earth was effin with this? Run-DMC's 4th album went triple platinum. Even though the group would drop further classics in their subsequent albums "Tougher Than Leather" (1988), "Back From Hell" (1990) and "Down With The King" (1993), "Raising Hell" proved to be the last monster album released by the group.

I can't even begin to get into the highlights surrounding Run-DMC's career in connection with their impact on touring, movies, magazine covers, endorsement deals and merchandise without having to write another coupla thousand words. This past Saturday, April 4th, Run-DMC became the 2nd rap act ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, second only to Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five. Funny, how Melle Mel was my first rap idol and Run-DMC was my second. Not known for their true lyrical skills and rarely mentioned in anyone's top 5, top 10 or top 100 emcee lists, it was great to see them receive the highest props for their contribution spanning back 25 years. Run-DMC may not go down as anyone's favorite G.O.A.T. emcee's of all time, but they remain arguably, Hip Hop's Greatest act of all time. From me to you, a sincere and heartfelt salute from Combat Jack to Run-DMC, the Kings from Queens.

So I'm asking, what's your favorite Run-DMC song?