For the 20th anniversary of Illmatic i decided to highlight Nas as well as the producers that made the album the masterpiece that it was. I gathered up different beats from Primo, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip and L.E.S. and went bezerk real quick. I do so much production that i forgot how much fun it is to just catch wreck over a classic beat you grew up on. I sequenced their beats to match the tracklist on Illmatic and i also got Tone Blunt to fill in the Brooklyn guest spot role.
I also used lines from Illmatic to title the freestyle.
The second part of the tape is me remixing Illmatic era Nas. It was dope to zone out to the vocals and really appreciate how incredible he is as a lyricist.
This took about a week to hook up and i gotta say it was mad fun to put this together because it brought the fan out of me. I was in the middle of finishing up the project when the homie Slew hit me up and we started to build about why Nas is so dope and he was dropping so many fly stories i decide to tape it and put it throughout the second act.
Salute to Nas, AZ, Olu Dara, Primo, Pete, Extra P, L.E.S. and Tip for what they did. That album raised a whole generation of MC’s to sit down and really think before they put pen to paper and by extension birthed other classics in that already exceptional era.
RESPECT. That’s what this is all about. Man, i been messing with Depeche Mode even when i was a kid and HATED music cause i was so into cartoons and comic books. Their songs just always had a way of haunting my thoughts even back then. But hey It’s Depeche Mode. If you say you don’t like em, either you aint heard the right songs or your just a fucking asshole.
I put this tribute together over the past week. 3 days making the beats ( actually one day making it and two days tweaking up what i made ) and 4 days writing and recording. I was knee deep in the mix of finishing the Plexiglass Fountain album but the idea of doing this just kept fucking with me so i took some time out to hook it up. Hell i was so into enhancing the music for the PGF album ( which is FUCKING INSANE now by the way ) that it was not gonna be released in March anyway so i had a week to spare.
Anyone that has been keeping up with my music for a while will know i did another Depeche Mode tribute project based on the Violator album around 2008 so this is kind of a sequel to that but way better. On top of lacing rhymes over the samples i decided to remix “Enjoy the silence” and used 3 different records from “Black Celebration” to hook up my remix for it.
Well that’s that Enjoy the music. Peace and love.
Plus here’s the EPK via Youtube
Well here goes the new mixtape. Check it out yall. Got some crazy collabs and freestyle frenzy galore in store. Shout out to the homie Menace for hosting the joint. It was an honor to have him backing the project. He rocks with some of the biggest names in the game but he’s been a heavy supporter since he heard the “codname: DEVASTATOR” album. The line up for the tape is Me, Cyclops, Keb0, Zeynep, Nanigan, Cee, Notion, Had One, Kaotik, HL, Notoriety Music, Savant and 9 Millz. As usual i handled all the production on the joint. I used some of my older beats from various remixes i did mixed with some new bangers i made. Out of the 28 tracks, 12 are sample based. The rest have original music with a few vocal clips sprinkled in here and there. ( stuff like L.O.V.E. is completely sample free though ) I was talking to my neighbour about music yesterday and i brought up the mixtape. he asked me how long i worked on it for and i realized that i started it around April. I made a concious effort to put out less music this year and i like the way having extra time to lace one project felt. But hey, it’s making music. ther nevr been a fucking rules to it. One of the biggest things i did was the Felt 3.0 remix and that came together over 3 days of smoked out meditations but hey it still felt nice to take it slow. I gotta thank all the heads that came thru on this.
Peace and love. Well, here it is. My first video ever. I been studying directing by myself for a couple of months now and this is the result. Breaking down how videos are made is mad interesting ( yeah i used to be the kid that took apart the VCR to figure out how it works ) and doing this was more fun than i expected ( it was also VERY FUCKING HARD but oh well ) Storyboarding that shit helped a lot. But there were also those random moments where i was like “Yo this shit would be dope to film for the video”. Mad props to my big sis for holding me down on the camera she added her own fly touches here and there to it and really surprised me with how natural she was at filming.
Check it out yall.
Well, this is it folks. I would have posted this earlier but i wrote a making of feature for the album for the homie Menace from Conspiracy Radio ( VERY dope show ) out in London so i figured i may as well wait. Much love to everybody that repped on this album with me.
Peep the feature.
[Breakdown] Tokyo Cigar – Codename: DEVASTATOR (Exclusive)
I’ll give a breakdown of each track:
This was the last song I made for the album. I made the beat and my boy Grant heard it and he was like “You need to put this on the album”, something bare bones and straight forward. Not too musical, just rugged with some hard drums over a crazy flute. I wrote the rhyme on some let loose shit and introduced myself and my crew.
Teddy Faley has been my man for years. I love the dudes music. We collaborated on a couple of songs before and I wanted to get him on this joint. I made the beat early in the album stages. Some sandpaper rugged and mean shit. I had the first verse and sent it to Teddy and he laced his, then I laced up the third verse with this rhyme I had in the stash that was ill. I added the Transformers joints in there to announce the fact that from that moment forward Devastator had been formed, plus I wanted to have the original “Alley Cats” beat on the album in some way shape or form, so I added it to the end.
One of my favorite beats on the album. I made it on some random shit then sat back and like WHOA!!! The organ just does it for me. It took a LOT of chopping to create that melody (trust me your not gonna figure out what it is). I did the drums differently at first but when I went back and redid the pattern it was the money. The beat had such a life affirming vibe, I wanted to touch on life in a positive but real way.
I made this beat originally for the next Plexiglass fountain album. I just loved the fuck out of it. When I sat down to make it that was not what I had in mind at all. But when I played the pattern I was like “are you fucking kidding me?” I had a different verse to it but I wrote a hotter one and laced the hook too. Cyclops killed his verse on some wow shit. I called the dude up and said like “Yooooooooooo you killed it”
Hard; that was the mind frame going into making this beat. The sample was maaaaaaad funky, up-tempo and had mad energy but when I slowed it down and chopped it up it became very mean. I told Keb0 and Nanigan to go in on some some wild out shit. The CL smooth sample was just sitting in my sound bank and I don’t even know why I decided to add it in but when I did I was like “Yep, That’s it”.
A lot of people have been going crazy over this joint. I was in a very dark place when I wrote this song. I don’t think I ever will get over my sister’s death and this song represents my trying to deal with the finality of life and death. The idea is that we are all going to die, so while living I try and make things better for when I finally have kids and pass life onto them. I had a different beat for it but when I came across the record I flipped, I was like “this would fit better” because of the amount of emotion it had when I chopped it up.
One thing that tends to follow sadness is anger and that’s why this track is up next. But rather than just talk about violence happening I wanted to make a song that deals with those moments before the jumpoff. I told Cyclops and Nasty Nyne to kick a scene of being a person that is about to set it off in different situations and they came ILL with it. My verse was about a dude that robbed this one cat for hating on the fact he got head from a fly chick and the night ended up in College Park MD about to get in the mix of a big brawl with hip hop heads and some drunk truckers. The beat just represents that tight feeling in your chest, when you realise that it’s about to go down and people may not survive. You know, the big set off.
I made this song to touch on Nigeria, London and Dublin because even though I post up in Maryland now, those spots played a HUGE part in my upbringing. Traveling represented a lot of my life in the 90’s. Even though cats go through these spots on tour, there is something that has to be said about living there that that tour life can never tell you. Visiting London and staying in hotels for a few days will never show you the life on that side the same way that waking up there for months on end, running the streets of West Croydon with your cousins, getting the bottle of milk the milkman left every morning, eating coco pops (I don’t fuck with Weetabix), channel surfing between ITV and Sky satellite channels, hopping the train in Victoria station to hit the city, reading Hip Hop Connection every month and taping stuff like Tim Westwood, Max and Dave etc can give you. People also go apeshit over the beat. I wanted to make something mad cinematic for this joint. Something visual in sound but also very heartfelt.
This one is for the ladies but rather than make a bubbly pop sounding joint, I wanted to take it back to the dance hall clubs I used to hit. This beat represents all the times I been in a club grinding on two chicks, squeezing asses and bugging. That’s why when the bass drops in the DROPS IN. Something dirty but sexy. The rhymes are just different scenarios I’ve been through and my outlook towards chicks. I put the homie Kebo on this joint ’cause he was always dope with writing rhymes about females.
I decided to reflip this beat from the first one because of an interview I saw with Primo and Pete Rock. Man, that interview had me bugging out so much from hearing the stories ’bout all the classics they made that I went into an immediate beat-making stupor. I made like 15 joints in 4 days and this was one of ‘em. I loved this beat so much but I didn’t want to add another track on the album ’cause that would have been too much ,so I decided to use the beat for this song instead. Its very different from the original but I swear this beat makes me think of 1996 everytime I hear it. I kept the rhymes the same and the more laid back nature of the track actually fit the “cool out and chill” part of the hook more.
I wanted to make a western sounding beat on this one. Some riding into town at sunrise type shit with some heavy drums on top. The song concept came from me thinking about the saying “it’s lonely at the top”. Life is crazy to the point that you can spend it chasing something so ferociously, only to find out that it cost you your life. Rather than kick a single story about it, I decided to get different perspectives on that idea. Cyclops and Nanigan went in on this joint. I picked them ’cause they are always incredible at breaking down subjects and really nailed it with this one.
This is one of the earliest beats I made for the album. I sent it out and when the verses came back I went in and added more music to it. Nasty Nyne and Cyclops came correct on this joint with the battle rhymes. I wanted to attack the track in a different way, so I wrote a story dealing about apocalypse and used it as a metaphor for what batting Devastator would be like. One of my favorites on the album.
The loop chop is something I made YEARRRRRS ago. I dusted it off and drummed it up for this track. I had to rep’ the DMV real quick on this one. Maryland has shown me so many different sides of life it’s crazy and I had to touch up on it. I mentioned when I used to hang with Damu the Fudgemunk at Capital City records in DC too. I’d seen everyone from Kev Brown to Oddisee up in there every week and its crazy how that one record store used to have just about every ill rapper and producer in the area up there catching wreck. Good times.
This is the point of the album where I get more complex with the music. This track is mad symphonic and emotional. My boy said it reminds him of Star Trek. The concept of the song is surviving the struggle. Mal Moe zoned out on the hook something CRAZY. Cyclops and Keb0 originally wrote their rhymes to a different beat but I ended up changing it and using their vocals over this one because I felt the emotion of the beat fitted the rhymes more.
This is a song dedicated to my little sis’. Everyone knows that I burn down chronic but when I found out that she started smoking, the big brother in me kicked in. Even though I puff I feel weird to know that she does it too, so I wrote a song for her on some “keep your head up” shit, giving here advice about life and telling her to be careful what she gets into. The beat is one of the best beats I ever made and it gets me zoned out when I hear it (especially when the bassline drops in and the melody switches).
I always liked going to spots and passing the mic around and rhyming so I made a song that captures that essence. You know, you hit a spot the DJ drops a beat and you go for yours. Simple. 3 MC’s + 3 beats = SUPER IGNORANT RHYMING. I added the background effects and played the host too to add to the scene. Nasty Nyne and Keb0 went INNNNNNNNNNNN on this joint too. Crazy track.
I made this beat on some movie shit and sent it to Czarina. I named the beat Cinema Life just as a reference but when she got it she wrote the hook and her verse combining romance and cinema and when she sent it back I heard it and flipped. I wrote my verse along the concept and when the track was done, I was amazed at how ill it was. Master peice for sure. I feel with some label support this song could be huge.
This was made in the tradition of posse cuts like “protect ya neck”, “Scenario”, “Headbanger” etc and some MC’s going in over a barbarian stone hard beat. No fancy shit just nothing but intelligent brutality. Heads are spitting some science on this but it is covered with a very strong “fuck you” attitude, break beat drums, synths and pure evil combined to make the beat. Mad hip hop heads been hitting me like “That beat is RAWWWWWW oh my God”. I gathered all the guest rappers for this one joint because this is essentially all the MC’s forming Devastator for this track. This is the climax of the album.
This is a love letter to music. Anyone who knows me knows that when I hear a song I like go crazy no matter if I’m by myself, at a show whatever. Music has this grip on my soul that is beyond love, beyond obsession, beyond…………I don’t know. I’m just addicted to making music. This track is pretty much like if music was a chick, this is me on bended knee proposing to her. Musically very lush and orchestrated. The homie Gray is Nanigans room mate. I met the dude in South Carolina and we kicked it puffing in some and watching James Bond flicks. Very cool dude. He played me some of his music and I was like “Yooooooo I got this one song I want you to lace for me”. I wrote the words and I sang it myself (with my grimy ass voice you can imagine how that sounded) and I sent it to him and he laced it and I was like YEAH!!!!
Well that’s it. This album represents my life up to this point and is a personal milestone. My main objective with this project was to make sure anyone who hears this album has no choice but to call me someone that truly lives by the statement, “music is my life, life is my hobby”.
Plus heres the artwork
Remember that movie? Me neither. Just the title ( and Uma Thurman’s sexy ass ) Which perfectly combines both the titles of these songs in a clever way ( at least it’s clever to me…………..so…………..uhhhhhh………READ THE DAMN POST )
“Alley Cats” b/w “Cinema Life” is the first official single from the “codename: DEVASTATOR” album. Both tracks are in a word, HEAVY. “Alley Cats” is a 70’s influenced face smacking joint. I went in extra hard with the rhymes. Everything on the track screams SMOOTH AGGRESSION and it’s one of my favorites on the album. “Cinema Life” is a track i did with Australia’s own Czarina. I made the beat ( No samples y’all ) and called it “Cinema Life” as a working title to send to her. She wrote the concept around cinema and sent the track back to me and i was blown away that she took the title and came up with some crazy lyrics around it. I got the demo back and immediately went to work on my verse. I feel if enough people hear this song it can be a certified hit. It’s dope and accessible but with enough real artistry that keeps it interesting. Another highlight on the album for sure.
“Stray Dog” is the first single off the “CoExist” album with keb0. He hit me up and told me he wanted to do a follow up to the “12 Fingered” musician EP we did and we knocked it out the park. The single has one of the best piano loops i ever flipped and is a very emotional song. keb0 always blows me away with the lyrics but i swear this song took it to another level. Dude most def has a gift with words. One thing i really like about artist is when they speak about their life in a way that makes you feel like they are talking about you and this track ( and “invalid” off the “12 fingered musician” ) hits me like that. I remember that i was depressed as fuck once and i listened to this song and the third verse basically served as my therapy and made me feel better. Response to the joint has been good so far. I guess other people are feeling the same way.