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.
Well, after excessive amounts of shit talking i finally put out something from the new album to get heads open real quick.
“Anti Creation” It’s basically a run through and BODY EVERYTHING IN SIGHT type joint. Lately life has been dealing the kid a lot of stress and i just took all my frustrations out on the mic. My man keb0 said i sounded like a crazy Pit bull that broke off it’s chain. The beat is some showdown at sundown era shit. Nothing but drama and tension personified musically. The homie Teddy ( who held the kid down with drinks at Ottobar last night YEAH!!!! ) blessed the joint with me on some Kill a MC shit.
The B side “Halo in reverse” is actually an old song i did for the “Kill the Violator” album. The song really never got old to me and i felt that more people needed to hear it. I re recorded the vocals for it and i added a movie clip at the end to let the darkness of the story shine through. It’s a song i stand by even though it’s HELLA TWISTED but i still remember my boy that said the song made him change his life so i hope more people can gain something from hearing it.
I designed the album cover on some horror flick mentality type shit. It’s my favorite cover that i ever did so i wanted to preview it before the album drops.
Man what can i say? If it wasn’t for the Blogs a lot of y’all wouldn’t even know me. I had to rep for my peoples with this project just on the strength of showing cats love for all they do.
My first instrumental album. This album is most definite one of the best things i ever did. Sample free except for the vocal clips i would use, this album was a labor of love. Just straight expressing my emotions through instruments and drum programming. I got WILD love for this. The best compliment came from fellow producer Isbjerg who compared this album to Jean Michael Jarre. A LOT of work and obsession went into making this album. One of my production benchmarks for sure.
Shout out to the homie Randy from When Giants Meet for providing the crazy artwork
Aight, This is an unofficial sequel to the “7 year theory” since it’s essentially an overview of the stuff i been doing over the last bunch of years. Some of this stuff is mad ancient. It just gives heads a nice view of how the kid been getting down.
Happy sequel day. Gotta thank the homie Grant for talking me into doing this. I was at the point where i felt like giving up rhyming and strictly being a producer but my man was like “You at least gotta do a part 2 to that Megaman shit you did” When i made thios joint i really rediscovered my love for rhyming and this was really the joint that gave me the focus to work on the new stuff i’m doing right now. Gotta thank Razorsharpe, GC and Cenzo for giving me 3 dope beats to add to the ones i made for this joint. Mad love to the homie Cyclops for rocking the song “Damn” with me
So here it is a play by play breakdown of the album. You tucked in … Yeah!….Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go…..Once upon a time not long ago….
Enjoy the silence was one of the first songs i REALLY loved back when i was a kid. Back then i hated music ( comic books and video games were my shit ) but there were always a few joints that i would hear that would haunt my thoughts. this was one of em. So for the intro i figured just let it rock and yell out some shit.
2. It aint complex in my eyez.
I went through like 3 different incarnations of the beat. This was the third. When i took the one note and played the pattern i was like “YO”. It mixed perfectly with the drums and when i laced the synths on top it was money. I kept elements of the second version for breakdowns and ………BONG BONG BONG
The rhymes were old. I used em on “complex” on the Megaman Theory. They were reflections of my current mind state. Things i went through, goals, a shout out to Obama, hip hop blogs, stress, a few things i felt on the birthday of my sister that passed away ( R.I.P Ivy i love you ) things i read about, paranoid shit etc. Lines like “some cats work hard graduated college/ and the still ain’t getting paid for they knowledge” came from an article i read in XXL bout and up and coming Middle eastern mc that was a college graduate but was driving cabs in DC and selling his music. Shit like that makes me think that Karma fall’s short sometimes. The hook just sumed up life to me “I guess/ it aint that complex/ Life aint nothing but God and satan playing chess” cause to me shit ultimately comes down to doing good or bad and depending on what you do it’s ultimately a game to God and Satan. Both of which represent good and evil. As yall can probably tell i was blunted as hell when i wrote it.
3. Ritual Perfection.
Kane in 88 was the mindstate for this joint. I wanted to take it back to when rap niggaz were doing the running man and spitting ill rhymes. Just that wild energy but updated. The closing snare at the end of the original song sounded ill to me so i drummed it up and chopped another piece of the song for the hook.
The rhymes are on the same shit. Just spitting some shit and showing off the vocal dexterity. This track is more about the delivery thats why i did a calm and hype take and layerd them. Just to show how locked in the flow was. Random thoughts, autobiograpical lines and a Biggie homage sum up this one.
4. Personal Radio
I loved personal jesus. There was just some thing about the beat of the song that stuck. For some reason it just sounded like good sex with a white girl. Something about it just would activate the image of fucking a fly blonde country chick when ever i heard it. So when i flipped it i kept it raw and hard. It went through about 3 chops before i laced the pattern i used for the beat. A few breakdowns here and there completed it. For the hook, the idea just came to me. I been loved the butch vig remix to Hoise of Pains “shamrocks and shenanigans” One day around when i made the beat i was watching the video on youtube and remembered that Danny Boy’s part was always my favorite, that rhyme stuck in my head for years and i would just kick it to myself at the most random times ( dude just kicked that fly shit and he got that superlive personality, reminds me of some of the livest cats i used to know in Dublin ) so when i heard it. I sampled his voice and layerd it and everything was like ZOINKS ( whut up shaggy and scooby doo )
The rhymes continue the vibe of the last track. Just kicking fly hella ignorant shit. Then i dropped a little jewel at the end. Spoonful of sugar for medicine type shit.
5. Halo in reverse
This is my favorite track off the album. I laced the drums first then was playing patterns with the sample then when that pattern came together i was like “WHAT THE FUCK” The whole thing came together mad fast. I tried to add more to it and nothing fit cause the raw loops just worked. The vocal sample of the hook just went with the story in a wierd way. so i spoke about it at the end and named the track that.
The strory was one i had. Honestly speaking i rarely write to any of the beats i make. I just make them then i pick the rhymes that i have that would fit. when i write stories i always try and give the characters backgrounds just to fill it in more. It was a dark joint i wrote during one of the few times i let the morbid parts of my mind come out to play. Funny enough i got one of the best compliments i’ve ever got for this joint. A freind of mine hit me up and said that when he heard this song it made him think about his life and re analyze things. Hearing that really hit me in the heart cause when i wrote it i was hoping to get a strong reaction that would get people to think. Plus i threw on the slick rick shout out at the end to try and offset the morbidness of the whole story a little.
6. Violent Night
The beat was the second version of the song. I made a slower one but i decided it did’nt really hit the way i wanted. So i upped the tempo and added a bassline. just some basic chops and layering. I went for a bomb squad vibe, fast and urgent sounding but funky.
The rhymes break down violence from the way it’s ingrained in popular culture ( “without the wars nobody give a fuck about jedis” ) to how kids pick it up from abusive parents ( “psycology/ he trying to be/ just like his pops subconciously” ) and different levels to it based on things i’ve seen and learned about.
7. Hide secrets with silence
At first i flipped a beat using the instrumental track that comes on at the end. But i was like “nah”. So i fell back and worked on the drums. When i came up with the drum pattern i went for a tribe/mobb deep feel. Just hard heavy and mean but the sort of shit you could lace a sweet melody on top of it. I decided on the rhyme already so when i was tweaking the track i heard the vocal that went “take me to the top” and when i locked it in it was a wrap.
The dart is years old. I kicked it to one of my homegirls and she was bugging about the fact i made it up. She thought i wrote it about someone i knew. I stay going through my little bookworm phase and when i read a great novel thats when i write some of my best stories. So this was just using a story as a meatphor to say dont judge a book by it’s cover. But yo i saw that flick “deception” and a lot of those chicks reminded me of the shorty i wrote about thats kinda what made me dig out the rhyme. Shit i’ve got TONS of papers and books so finding one rhyme you wrote years ago is not easy but i guess it was meant to be.
8. The Rap Policy
I hated doing this beat cause i loved the beat and lyrics of “the policy of truth” so much. depeche mode were really saying a lot of heavy shit lyrically on the “violator” album. I was like “how the fuck am i gonna flip this?” That beat went through 4 mutations. Once again focusing on the drums first helped make this. I decided to go for an Ultrmagnetic mc’s vibe, something noisy but funky. So i played a pattern kinda similar to synthetic substitution but flipped it and found the sounds that would compliment it. This shit is so chopped it’s ridiculous but it finally came together. Played some keys on top and …….viola!
The darts are just me having fun. Shout out to Oasis and Golgo 13. I was spazzing in the booth off the la and bacardi and just had fun spitting out darts.
9. Blue Armor
Chops and smacking drums. Nuff said. Came together almost a quick as “halo in reverse” i added the bass drops on the turnaround of the loop and that was that. A few added breakdowns and “SHAZAM” it was done.
The rhymes were similar in spirit to “ritual perfection” and “personal radio” just me showing off the talk game. Funny rhymes , random relflections and ignorant thoughts. Super old school vibe on the hook to lock it in and that was it.
10. Clean Soul
I went for a clean alchemist/j dilla drum sound. Chopped the “clean” sample into sections and let them build up. This was the most straighforward sample on the whole project. The song had a very cybernetic feel that built up to a cinematic climax so i wanted to let as much of the original stay intact. The trickiness came with making the tempo of the sample match but once that was done it was a wrap. I went back and forth with Dave’s vocals for the hook cause his words fit the theme. since it was the last song i wanted the closer to be epic so i just let the original play out at the end and dudes lyrics sumed up my worldview.
The lyrics are an abstract reflections of my darkest thoughts. “transform to a bloody archangel/ crawling towards nirvana while he’s getting strangled/” means going through the struggle and getting mentally scarred but your still going for your goals and surviving. It’s essentially a photograph of the darkside of my soul at this point in time. Living in Columbia and watching the suburbs become more crazy and seeing the crazy foul underbelly that already existed but was well hidden. (“we in maryland bitch/ Howard county waking up in the sticks/ wide world of greenery/ cyborg machinery factory/ where all the hallway mirrors/ flashing images of foul dead killers/”)
Well that’s about it. This album was produced in just over a week and a half in between other stuff i was lacing. The album was pretty much a reinterpertation of the “Violator” album. That’s why i kept elements of the original song titles and sequenced the songs the same way they were on their album. It’s just another joint i put out to build up anticipation for “The Eyez Never Lie” my OFFICIAL Solo album. I still consider that my magnum opus.
Peace to those who checked it out and felt it. Thank you for the love.