Music, Writings and Art live from the twisted mind of Tokyo Cigar


lyrics for “1995”, “I wonder ( remix )” and “Here Now”

So………………..I just got back after performing at TEDx Baltimore. WOWWWWWW. I’ll expound further on the event tomorrow. ( spoiler: IT WAS EPIC ) I’m doing the twitter thing right now and i was asked if i had my lyrics online. I just typed them up yesterday to give them to a lady that was gonna translate it to sign language ( between the experience of typing my lyrics for the first time ever rather than writing them down on paper and seeing a lady signing the words as i was rhyming it was a real epiphany moment ) so here is the first post every of my rhymes. SHAZAM


Where I’m from/ they teach hard work to the daughters and they sons/ kids at the market they used to run/ up to car windows selling dodo/ Muslim cats they get dough/ Hausa ,Yoruba and plus Igbo/ a couple of more/ tribes co-exist on the same side/ women keep babies tied/ to they backs surrounded by gats/ different army cats/ Ikoyi ,V.I., Ikeja, Festact/ African black/ ran streets alley cats/ studied philosophies of hustles/ dude they got a lot of muscle/ working with they hands/ F a work out plan/ most of us natives/ we born creative/ do things innovative/ this is where Fela learned how to play/ and world famous writers learned what to say/ it showed me beauty and it showed me stress/ I seen a man get/ beaten to death/ they left him by the gutter/ never found out why the reasons undiscovered/ my uncles and cousins they got shot/ pandemonium plot/ but the night life showed me how to rock the body body rock the body body rock/ we used to play soccer on blocks/

Seen him gleaming/ weed leaning/ empire steaming/ Victoria station/ meeting a fly Asian/ summertime in London/ BBC watching ITV switching/ London was the first place I got lifted/ hit the spots right/ I’m flying back to Ireland in like/ two nights/ to the Blackrock section/ blue and white rugby jerseys they repping/ no jive very live my girlfriend used to glide/ her tongue on my tongue/ smoke a fat one/ doze in class/ play the hallway with my Walkman on blast/ walk around Grafton street/ Tommy Hilfiger physique/ flirting with Irish chicks mad Joy/chilling at the Savoy/ Fly s**t/ but Dublin is Dublin Live s**t/ was always liable to happen/ them white boys were getting down scrapping/ donnybrook action/ life mixed with passion/ up in Belfast gats were blasting/ school locked us down when they thought beef would happen/ a lot of protests and rallies/ the city architected beautifully/ plus the country had magnificent scenery/

“I wonder (remix)”

My best friends were my headphones/ head blown/ off the melody/ before weed and Hennessey/ self-therapy/ like NLP/ my life’s a crazy flick but the film score is sick/ ever emotion that I had got hit/ I’m dead inside my feelings mad numb/ roots I have none/ living life on the run/ relationships didn’t last/ over too fast/ grab my passport/ pass/ another time zone/ another home/ another hood that I never known/ adapting environment/ I love Depeche Mode but I don’t enjoy silence/ drowning it in boom bap and violins/ cats hate me/ music set me free/ they seen I’m a star in the making too strong to be faking/ when I shine I seen em contemplating/


You know the feeling right?/ in the lab late night/ Styrofoam Chinese food/ ashtray interlude/ writing rhymes at work/ inspiration burst/ like a supernova/ you made an ill melody when you were making quota/ you referenced mythology in your rhyme while mixing coke and baking soda/chemistry/ capitalist philosophy/ peace girl your writing rhymes in your bed room/ sitting at the window sill for extra leg room/ performing at the bar you a genuine star/ five deep in the car/ hit the music seminar dream chase the new Nas he caught a case/ the new illmatic never got release date/ some of us blow/ some of us slow/ to get dough/ but we still making music though/ you can spot us up in guitar center spending mad dough/

(Chorus x2)

We the chosen few/ our life is musical/ it’s beyond a habit/ it’s like magic/ old man 65 play guitar live/ young boy with an SP studying Tribe/ Lady singing the blues till her soul cried soul cried soul cried Lady singing the blues till her soul cried soul cried soul cried  ( repeat )

(Chorus x 2)

“Here Now”

I was raised by rappers I never met/ my father left me fatherless/ young and searching for wisdom hidden in the dialect/ I learned for certain a dress where you hide a Tec/ same day I learned that sleeps the cousin to death/ mind correct/ heavy intellect/ plus learned respect for gang sets/ life in a capsule/ speak up don’t be bashful /graduate and flip your tassels/ do it like it aint a hassle/ cause the world smiles with you  but you cry alone/ same way your gonna rest underneath your tombstone/ I put the polo on and then I think/ grab the water and took a drink/ the seeds grow/ one generation flows/ into the next/ trends resurrect/ I light a cigarette/ deep in introspect/ staring at the taxes that they just took out my paycheck/ hella stressed/ rubbing the back of my neck/


And it gets greater later/ the reanimator/ brought the soul to soul back to life/ back to reality/ can’t control the spite/ perfect your strategy/ don’t fold do it right live like a majesty/ party for the right to fight assault and battery/ talking to shorty/ her name Kenya/ we rolling up and then we chill listen to Enya/ after dinner/ a bunch of naked sinners/politicians argue over who got a right to live/ couldn’t walk a mile in shoes that they did/ senate debating/ got hungry families waiting/ foul shepherds leading blind sheep/ keeps/ drama infinite like bio shock/ life’s a first person shooter but you getting one shot/ if you blow it/ cant reload it/

(Chorus x 4)

And life is game of thrones/ the sinners they chill and throw stones/ some of the kids never make it home/ even without white walkers with rotten bones/ war is king weapons make the iron throne/ some good men they still die disgraced/ just for having guts to stand up in the face/ of wrong/ we know the words sing along/ time is either gonna soften or harden the blow and I seen it all before so I play to win made the choice from within trying to die old and rich with scars on my skin and a satisfied grin/ a hundred years from now everyone is maggot food/ only the lucky get to die feeling gratitude/ balance the attitude/ longitude/ latitude/ move/ put the needle to the groove/

Ivy rest in peace I gotta say Biggie smalls rest in peace I gotta say

2pac rest in peace I gotta say Big L rest in peace I gotta say

Guru rest in peace I gotta say ODB rest in peace I gotta say

Big Punisher rest in peace I gotta say Paul walker rest in peace

(Chorus x 4)

It was written…………………………….shout out Nas.

36 chambers 20 years later a.k.a. Why Wu tang Clan represented the best and worst of my generation

wu tang cover

On a random brisk November day in Blackrock College ( Dublin Ireland Stand up ) i was walking out the lunchroom to the dorms and i saw the homie Hassan, a fellow African who was a year ahead of me. He called me over and handed me a tape as he usually did. I looked at  the cover and stared at it so hard he was like “you okay?” “yeah” i replied half dazed from how scary/interesting/original the cover looked. We talked about how FAT the cover was and how it had a certain hard to place element of intrigue to it.  Rap covers at that time were usually straight mean mugging rappers gloriously rocking ghetto attire fit for a king of a  future covered in barb wire or some painted/designed pictures a la prog rock/funkadellic albums. But this was different. The masks they rocked appealed to the kid i was, a kid that grew up hooked on Ninja movies. WHO THE FUCK were these guys? We opened it up and i was struck by how even when they showed their faces ( minus the incarcerated members U-God and Method Man ) Ghost stood in the middle still rocking a mask. In the hands of a less grimy group that would have screamed “GIMMICK” but for some reason they had an element of “wow i think the cops might really be looking for this guy” to them that made it seem more necessary than meditated.In the pre internet era where you were forced to use your imagination i had no reference point for the cover to strike me as being reminiscent of……………….I dunno……………..anything. Funny thing is i look at it now and it makes me think of a horror movie in the vein of “SAW” and “The Purge”. Having previously heard “Method man” and “Wu tang aint nuthin to fuck with” i was already stone cold blazed from how fly the music was but was in no way shape or form prepared for the sonic assault to the senses and life altering philosophies i was in for when i pressed play on my walkman.

Wu tang still blows particles from my subconscious 20 years later after a slew of classics that people were salivating over have been awarded the honor of having settled in to the minds of millions. But this is not about the music.  Nah Playboy, this is about everything that went into the music. I had a conversation with my fam Rome in the bookstore about it and he was dazed at how many points i brought up. Wu tang as a whole were such a phenomenon because they represented everything beautiful and tragic about the generation we grew up in. I was listening to the Combat jack show ( craaaaaaaaaaaazy show btw ) and an interview N.O.R.E. had with them really put into perspective how fucked up the golden age of hip hop was. Yeah………….i said it…………….FUCKED UP. We were blessed with magnificent music every Tuesday to the point that masterpieces were over looked. ( shout out “All we got iz us”, “The Natural”, “Hold it down” , “The aftermath” [ which had a production line up damn near as potent as "Illmatic"], “The Turnaround: a long awaited drama” etc ) but the n.o.r.e. interview really hit me when he told Combat Jack that he hates to listen to “The War report” ( which i still say is the last of the seminal criminal east coast rap albums ) because it takes him to a dark place. That album was haunted by souls of people that were shot, killed, paralyzed, traumatized etc aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand to top it off Capone was in jail while it was being made. The album has fucking skits of one of the members in jail as your listening to it. Let that sink in. The music was so glorious it was an overwhelming immersing experience to hear it but when N.o.r.e said he wrote that album when he didn’t know how to use his imagination it fucked me up because it really dawned on me that that lines like “put the bogey out in your face” and “bloody up your goose/ now who scream for truce/” were more diary entries than action movie script. I also thought of the underlining sense of rage that seethed through a lot of the best hardcore albums. You had to be a certain kind of person to appreciate the beauty in a loud abrasive drum loop and to take samples that came from love songs and turn them into the beat you could rap about witnessing a close friend die to. A lot of people lost their lives for albums like “The infamous”,”Illmatic” and “Enta da stage” to be born. I also thought about all the crack fiends and shattered families i saw on a recurring basis when i was in Greenbelt MD/D.C. and the sheer numbers of them it took to give birth to an album like “only built 4 cuban linx” and the fact that screaming “Bring da muthafuckin RUCKUS” that convincingly suggests a life where violent encounters had been honed to the point of muscle memory. Wu tang was the voice of those left to die ( Ironically, the only kind of people that would survive if the world suddenly turned to mad max like conditions ) and they instead impressed everybody out in the world with their display of marvelous talent and wisdom because they are hip hop and that is what hip hop does. Hip hop is not having a band and wanting to make music, hip hop is not having access to galleries to display your art, hip hop is not having shit but what is laying within arms reach and then turning that shit into gold that shits out diamonds. These dudes were high school dropouts that were smart as fuck ( the facts of Rza becoming a chess champion and Harvard…..yeah that Harvard invited the GZA to come and speak to their students attests volumes to that ) based on 5% teachings and a life where knowledge of everything from social customs and economic strategies to how to read body language literally held the keys to life and death. I thought about people i met that one second detailed extreme acts they committed ( the kicker is when they tell you how much doing certain things fucked with them psychologically afterwards ) and the next spoke to me about how to build a computer from scratch or something else that required a lot of brain capacity to do and Wu tang took on another level of importance because they showed that when the people were shipped off to places to die, their captors didn’t notice they were carrying books, lots of books. They were also armed with the same curiosity we all had as children. As they grew up they were inspired by Bruce Lee and watched, the killer, Voltron and Underdog too just like the children of the people that condemned them.

They were also the generation raised by parents who were around to talk about “That brother Malcolm X” from a first person perspective. They were jagged reflections of Black people that fought for dignity and carried themselves with an air of class ( i mean damn look at dudes like Sidney Poitier, Gordon Parks, Miles Davis etc black folk sure can get fly and classy when we feel like it ) The slacks turned to army fatigues but the self love that poured through even made a champion hoody look as flashy as a Hefner robe or a Sinatra tux. The idea of unity was also strong enough to outgrow neighborhood beefs between members and showed how people can put aside past hurts for a better future which is lucrative for all, something y’all politicians out there can STILL stand to learn from. These dudes didn’t send someone to shoot for them, they did the shooting and were still able to come to the round table and work it out. If they didn’t they could have all died like their captors intended.  But one did die……………….DAMN. Not in the war zone as intended but on the other side. In the tradition of countless other talents that succumbed to the temptress of intoxication. The war zone they came from is pre packaged with trauma and people cope with trauma several ways, the most popular being chemical. This reminds me of people i saw heroin swallow up whole around the way only to spit them back out as hollow cheeked zombie like folks and the friends i have that casually push the limits of their tolerance at the expense of their health. Sad. “After laughter comes tearz” R.I.P. Russell Jones and the others that fell.

People try and articulate what made the group as great as they were and it aint that deep. Look at where they came from and it will make sense cause of how it doesn’t make sense. I can relate to that cause i come from a place where we earn our scars and learn to give them back at a tender age no matter how secure financially we are and i chose to live a life where me and my people still wonder how something horrible kept on narrowly escaping us and oh yeah violent trauma and i have been on a first name basis for a while now, so even though i’m not a NYC 70’s baby like the Wu was, i get it.  I also was blessed to see a lot of things and places and stayed curious about stuff that “Black people weren’t into” so even though i wasn’t a project kid reading up on Bobby Fischer or walking into a Chinatown store to buy books based on Asian culture that was thousands of miles away from where i was from, i get it. Voltron is the shit, i get it. But really, Voltron is the shit, i mean it. This album was followed by others from the crew that shook up hip hop as hard as this one did but it will forever be know as the first step of a thousand mile journey. The kid’s didn’t die, they grew up, the scars didn’t disappear they just don’t hurt as much and the books they carried into the killing fields didn’t burn, these brothers just put it on wax and still told kids to go read the books. Rap music now is based on what you have when before it was showing what you could do with what you didn’t have. Not saying it’s good not saying it’s bad it just is. I’m always happy to see people feeding their family in a positive way. When i visited New York last i heard this guy say “the bad times are gone” people actually feel safer. Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. But sometimes it’s good to remember what overcoming adversity feels like cause that is the spirit that birthed the Wu movement and looking at this clip from Method Man reminds me that even without big jewelry on someone dressed in a skull cap and a simple winter jacket can be just as fly as anyone with a mink coat on when they can spit stuff as intelligent as this……………..

TOKYO CIGAR presents WU2 ( Wu tang Clan VS U2 )

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH High school. The wonder years. I was a kid in boarding school in Ireland.  Running thru Dublin bugging out and soaking in all the Hip hop i could find. I was such a fiend that i remember being in Abbey Discs and buying the “I got ya opin” vinyl even though i didn’t have a record player and having the dude that worked there play the whole shit ( instrumentals included ) and record it to a tape for me. ( Shit i still got the tape i think ) I was ecstatic that they had the joint on import cause when i saw the video on Yo MTV Raps i NEEDED that song in my life. Abbey discs was also cool cause of the people i wold meet there.  I’ll never forget the day this one Irish dude and i got into one of the most detailed conversations about hip hop production i ever had. I had never even thought about making music at that point, i was just a fan, but i remember the way homeboy was breaking down the Al Green drum break in “Mahogany” and telling with me that it was better on that than on the “Tried by 12″  joint.  I was like “WOW dude really knows his shit.”  Hell, i didn’t even really know what a fucking drum break was back then.  Sampling was Fuzzy to me. I just knew the music put me in a zone and i assumed people made it with keyboards or bands or some shit.  One fateful day when i was in school the big homie Hassan called me over and handed me an “Enter the wu tang ( 36 chambers)” tape and life as i knew it would not be the same for the next few decades as the Staten Island crew BLEW particles off my brain. I heard about the clan for a while and i heard “Method man” and “Wu tang aint nutting to fuck with”  so i was drooling to hear the album. The cover hit me the most the first time i got it. CARTEL did a fucking fantastic job with the artwork cause you couldn’t see their faces on some ill Ninja shit. I had never seen an album cover like that before and i was struck. It looked like a damn movie poster or something. When i got back to the dorm, grabbed my walkman and popped in the tape and heard “Shaolin shadowboxing and the wu tang sword style. If what you say is true the shaolin and the wu tang could be dangerous”  it was OVER. The rhyming, the beats, and everything was just too next level. I remember i played it for a couple of the dudes there and heads kept on trying to borrow the tape. I must have dubbed that 36 chambers album for like 7 cats before i even gave the joint back to Hassan. ( Who by the way i was ducking cause i didn’t wanna give that tape back ha ha ). With the exception of “Iron man” i bought all the solo albums while i was still in boarding school too. Hell, i still get Flash backs to to riding the bus to Grafton street every time i hear “Knowledge God” or “Sub Crazy”.  Heads in school were really feeling the Wu as well. I lost track of the amount of times i heard “Protect ya neck” or “Diary of a madman” blasting through somebody’s boombox. Back then most cats that were into hip hop were more into the west coast artists ( Ice-t, Cypress Hill and House of pain got a lot of airplay i remember ) but when the Wu hit it just had all kinds of people open. From those years Wu tang has always been the greatest rap group of all time to me. If you think i ain’t keeping it a 100. Ask anyone that i got into a heated “Wu tang is the best of all time” discussion with.

The First time i ever heard U2 was when i was living in VA. I remember being in the whip with my family and the radio being on and “With or without you” being played a lot. Something about that song just always stuck out as being beautiful but sorrowful. Ironically when i was living in Ireland i was not into U2 cause i was such a “strictly hip hop” kid. I remember hearing the “Joshua Tree”, “Zooropa” and “Achtung baby” bumping but i would tune it out cause i felt “That’s that other shit” Damn shame cause i still remember the way everyone in school was going crazy cause of this one show U2 was gonna play, in retrospect i wish i went cause as much as i love their music now it would mean so much to have the memory of seeing them live.  As i grew up i fell in love with U2’s music. They have mad emotional power and a dope cinematic feel to their music that started to resonate more as time went by and i began to understand great music is great music regardless of genre. But i cant front even back then i was digging the joint that had the Edge rhyming on it. The video was crazy too. When i hear U2’s music now it give me a feeling i cant even describe. That shit just hits me like “Thank God i’m alive to hear this”. As i got more of their albums i also respected the fact that they always reinvented themselves. I can understand why some who swore by “WAR” may think “POP” was too out there musically but hey……………..THE MUSIC WAS ALWAYS CRAZY. Bottom line. I love the fact they always did what they felt like doing cause no matter what the fuck they did they always had joints that would send a chill down my spine when i hear it start. U2 gets into the same zone of some deeeeeeeeeeeeep soul music. Think of the feeling you get when Marvin goes “ohhhhhhhhhh makes me wanna holler the way they do my life” in “Inner city blues”, that soul music that is so raw and strong it actually burns. U2 takes that and spreads it over mad various styles of rock. Crazy!!!!!!

Putting this project together was fun. I originally planned on doing something like my “Black faith mixtape” with Depeche Mode but one random day the name WU2 popped in my head and i couldn’t get it out. I went and grabbed the vocals and when i put em together it was Zen like the way it all fit. Even down to the titles of the songs and the way U2’s music matched the feel of the Wu’s rhymes when blended together. It took about 5 days for the production ( i did the beats for “Love in Daytona” “Holla First” “God’s Zoo” and “Run to the Exit” on the same day matter fact ) and 2 days of mixing in the vocals. When it was all said and done and i listened to it i caught a very ILL feeling.

I hope yall enjoy it

Keb0 & Tokyo Cigar “Live on Cloud 9″ EP


Keb0 and i have come full circle. EP to album to EP again. In between we made a lot of dope joints. I put a lot of emotion into my beats and when i find an MC that can match the emotional content neck and neck is always the biggest blessing. This EP came together seamlessly as all our collaborations do but this one took some extra time and grew a lot as a result of the extra time put into it. Scope out the breakdown.

1. Reverse Oragami – This is personal introspection mixed with a “walking past a swamp barefoot” type murky soul beat. Kebo jumps out the helicopter with the flow off the break. Its almost like the space at the start is the only chance you have to cath your beath cause once the onslaught starts it doesnt stop till the end. This is the start of the movie and introduces the lead characther in a funky way.

2. Drifting – This beat makes me wanna slide across the hood of a car “Dukes of hazzard” style. When keb0 sent me the vocals i was like WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?????? The smoothness yet ruggedness of Keb0’s delivery really struck me about this track. They lyrics were poignant as always. Painting a scene of his stomping grounds in such a way that i tend to listen to this joint with my eyes closed just to visualize it.

3. Middle fingerz up – This is one of those joints that makes you feel invincible. Arrogant in confidence levels and overdosing on adrenaline. I went for a triumphant layered beat with a lot of texture in it. I barely jog but if i jogged a lot i think this would be in the playlist cause something about it just screams “go the extra mile” even if your tired. The delivery on this was waterworld. Keb0 really expanded his tones and flows on the EP and this song is one of the strongest examples of that.

4. Live on cloud 9 – This is what i would consider a hip hop version of “Eye of the tiger” if the rapper was a pimp. The beat screams EPIC but the verses whisper LIFE. Life in all it’s glory and misery. Compacted and spit out in the form of a song that makes you wanna snuff someone then turn around and hug your mom’s two seconds later. Build ups and instrumental breakdowns mirrior the build ups and breakdowns of the narrator. Life in techicolor with some static thrown in for good measure.

5. Late at night – This is the anthisesis of the extreme emtional highs the EP has. Keb0 sent me 2 versions of this joint. The first one was very fitting for the beat already but the second version damn near made me tear up. This song is the manifestation of every bad day you had. I dont mean getting your car towed type bad. I mean total devastation borderline suicidal type bad day. The loop is based on some strings i played while going through a particularly rough time in my life and when i sent it to keb0 he honed in on the misery of the beat and created rhymes that took the beat by the hand fucked it hard in an abandoned building then took it to Vegas to marry it. if this EP is a movie the movie ends like something like “Gone baby gone” Where you find yourself comatose at the end of the movie cause you are stunned at the sad ending and find yourself wondering how the characters journey would ultimately end.

Salute to Keb0 for the next chapter in the saga.

Check out the post we got on 2dopeboyz.

Tokyo Cigar thoughts: OLD BOY


“Wow”.  A simple three letter word.  One that attempts to sum up and communicate that which is usually beyond mere words.   Wonder, mystery, and awe inspiring moments are some of the things that word could describe. But what does one do when something blows your mind to the point that simply saying “wow” not only would not be enough to convey it but it almost disrespects  the level of wonder the said work of art inspired?

This movie is that work of art. My peoples have told me that I have NEVER stressed them to watch a movie as much as this one. Hindered by the fact I couldn’t really explain the full plot of the movie without giving away THE greatest cinematic “OH SHIT” moment ever. What I can tell you is this Korean revenge movie has some of the most incredible acting rubbing shoulders with some of the most imaginative and iconic directing I’ve ever seen. A man is locked in a room for 15 years and he has no idea why he’s in there and when he gets released he goes on a quest to find the person responsible. You get to see the hero go through so many different states of mind by the end of it you kinda feel like all your emotions are fighting and climbing over each other to claim your attention all at once at a break neck pace.  Plus the main chick in the movie is one of the hottest Asian chicks I seen in my life (but when I think of how she works into the plot it always gives me a slight uneasy feeling haha).  This movie has moments/shots that scream EPIC (The hallway fight is worth the price of admission alone), and it also boasts some life altering quotes sprinkled amongst the straight forward dialogue. This is far from a movie like “Snatch” which partially draws its strength from how witty everybody ( and i do mean EVERY fucking BODY ) in that movie is. The lines in this movie are more “to the point” style. The plot is so complex and nerve racking that fancy adornments may actually fuck it up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking porn movie level canned lines, it’s just that most of the lines are very, verrrrry simple when someone isn’t happening to be saying something that rock’s your subconscious out of the daze it’s in to contemplate how powerful the statement you just heard actually was.

Movie endings over time are bound to get repetitive (cue Nas’s “no ideas original”). Every movie we’ve seen is a variant on another story we’ve seen/heard/read about. Few films stand out for simply giving you a mind fucking at the end. It may be a revelation someone makes or a plot twist that has you shaking your head in disbelief (Kevin Spacey suddenly walking straight at the end of “The usual suspects” anyone?) I promise you NOTHING you have seen will prepare you for this one. Revenge gets broken down to it’s many faces in this movie, showing it’s different levels of intensity among the characters but the climax in this movie is simply the most INTENSE showing of revenge I have ever seen in my life. For someone to do that to someone else, that takes a very rare potent type of hatred.

This movie is not for everybody but it is so great everybody NEEDS to see it. If only for the minutes you find yourself frozen in your chair as the credits roll, totally bewildered trying to explain to yourself what you just saw. How often do movies do THAT for you nowadays?

The Triple Crown of Rap part 3: TOKYO CIGAR “codename: DEVASTATOR”

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)

Producer, artist and writer Tokyo Cigar recently released arguably his most important project to date, namely, Codename: DEVASTATOR (listen / purchase after the jump). A sonic reflection of his influences, from the likes of Wu-Tang, Gangstarr, Peterock and CL Smooth, with a lyrical focus on striving to become better and gripping society’s state of affairs by the throat.
The project finalises his Triple Crown Of Rap Saga (3 albums in three months!) that began last December and features guest appearances from Keb0, Nasty Nyne, Cyclops, Czarina and Teddy Faley.
Tokyo recently chopped it up with me to breakdown the outcome of his personal milestone, track-by-track. Enjoy!
The day I decided to make this album was at Rock The Bells 2010. I walked into the spot and saw KRS ONE on stage. He was talking to the crowd, dropping mad jewels and the fact that I had been listening to him for so long and was seeing him in the flesh for the first time had me ZONED OUT. He was on stage with a crew that included Supernatural and Freddie Foxx (who kicked a dope freestyle that shut it down) and I was absorbing the vibe of everything. Then Primo came on stage after Kris and had a quick DJ set. That really bugged me out ’cause as much as everyone knows that I’m a complete RZA fanatic, I also know that Primo is THE MOTHERFUCKING MAN! [cont.]

Just seeing him for the first time and flashing back to “Supa Star”, “New York State of Mind” and “Come Clean”, I was in a zone. Same thing with Tribe, hearing “check da rhime” performed made me realise how much Q Tip played a part in my production development. Without a doubt the high spot of the night was WU. I have seen them do their thing, mad times so it wasn’t the fact that they went INNNN that had me open, it was the moment Nas came thru and laced “Verbal Intercourse” with Rae and Ghost. That sparked it. The mastery of music and also the communal vibe that laces Hip hop at its essence. I left the spot in a daze and VERY hungry. I decided to round up my people and go in. I was in the middle of mixing “When Inspiration Hits” for Cyclops and producing “CoExist” for Keb0 (on top of other stuff too) and making beats for the next Plexiglass Fountain projects, so I was swamped. But when that hunger hits me I refuse to ignore it (as you can tell from my heavy musical output haha). So I started lacing joints for it and writing. The whole thing was a six to seven month process. While making it I took a break to jet out to South Carolina to unwind (and went through some crazy life changing shit), finish the Cyclops and Keb0 albums and do the “Felt 3.0 a tribute to Nancy Sinatra” remix album (which made so much noise online I was kinda shocked).

I’ll give a breakdown of each track:

Anyone that read my Kill Bill write up knows that the moment Uma was walking the desert to kill Budd, has one of the best pieces of music I ever heard. I had to lace it up even though I already flipped it for a Jay Z remix. I felt the fight Club speech summed up a running theme of the album. Striving for better and analysing life as it is. It was one of the last things I did.
Dr. Crisis

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.

Anti Creation

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.

Skeleton Bent

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”

Dialogue Of Funk

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”.

Broken Wings

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.

Alley Cats Part 2

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.

Money Lust

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 Network ( D.M.V. )

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.

At Night

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.

She Gave Me Pineapple Express

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).

Big Speaker Spot

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.

Cinema Life

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.

The New Matrix Reloaded (The Marsha Brady Sequel)

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.

I wonder

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

Tokyo Cigar Thoughts:Terriers ( Season 1 )

What does Socrates have in common with Columbo? The science of the bummy genius. Those people that can break down complex things about human behavior and easily figure out the motives of others but don’t care about the basics of dressing themselves presentably for the public eye. Socrates was considered the greatest of all the philosophers to walk the earth ( check Inspecktah Decks opening bars of “Triumph” to see how far Socrates influence reached ) but he lived his life in poverty, dressed very plain and walked the streets of Athens barefoot. Columbo deduced many crimes on his show but the character was as famous for his rumpled appearance as he was for his detective skills.

What the fuck does that have to do with Terriers? The show carries on that tradition. The two main Characters Hank and Britt solve crimes and help people in Ocean Beach but between the both of them seem Incapable of mastering the art of shaving or popping tags. One of the people in the show sees Hank and says “You know I thought you were undercover but now I realize you just dress like that” Wit like that drives this show to be one of my current favorites on TV.

Hank is a recovering alcoholic ex cop and Britt is a thief that Hank catches but eventually sees the good in. They both start a private investigation agency and combine their streetwise natures to help the people that hire them. Sure, shows like “White Collar” ( another favorite of mine ) have explored the idea of crook and cop working together but while that show is more high society this one is more gritty. Consider this show the Frank Miller’s“The Dark Knight Returns” to that shows Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” both exploring the non pretty side of heroes but placed in different settings and with differing levels of darkness and grit. One theme that runs through the season is Hank and Britt’s relationships with the women in their lives. Hank has to watch ( not idly mind you, he goes all out to stop her wedding any way he can ) as his ex wife Gretchen moves on even though he still has strong feelings for her while Britt deals with the fact his love of his lady Katie scares him ( mainly the thought of settling down and growing up ) as much as it keeps him going. Hank also deals with the relationship between him and his sister Stephanie. A mentally unstable genius whom he feels especially attached to when post divorce he finds her secretly living in his attic. Her companionship filling a void left by his ex wife.

Now as the good guys, these dudes don’t believe in the straight and narrow. They frame somebody for revenge when they cant legally prove him guilty, they break into buildings, sneak in and out of the border and at one point ( maybe two ) Britt becomes a fugitive. These aren’t your typical dashing, morally upstanding citizens more two guys raised on the age old practice of ”kicking ass and taking names” Along the way they meet various members of Ocean Beaches underbelly and even find themselves neck deep in issues with a Mexican kingpin. Old friends and foes pop up to threaten the little semblance of normalcy they try to build and the biggest obstacles they tend to face are their own penchants for self destruction. But DAMN, They stay saying slick shit. This is one of those shows that has dialogue so ILL that you find yourself laughing at what the characters say as much as worrying about them. One episode finds them pretending to be thugs shaking down a tarot card reader for protection money in order to draw out her fugitive boyfriend. They threaten to trash her place if she doesn’t pay when they come back. When they show up her boyfriend, her VERY FUCKING BIG boyfriend kicks their asses up and down her living room, knocking over all her furniture and after he throws both of them out the window Britt says “Well we did say we would trash the place” I bust my ass laughing.

I cant recommend this show enough. The first season kept me hooked and when ever I missed an episode I would catch it online even though I hate watching TV shows online ( I don’t know why that shit just irks me. If its a TV show I like to watch it on TV damnit ) The season ended up on a very crazy cliffhanger that had me going “REALLY?!? How the fuck they gonna end it like that?” But best believe I will be tuning in as soon as it comes back. This show is great and I bet if you ask Socrates or Columbo about it they would say the same thing.


originally posted on

My write up about the Kanye West album.

[Review] Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Written By Tokyo Cigar

Some albums are just meant to inspire debate. Those albums are usually the ones that set the bar of what will be considered the “Next shit”. The debate aspect comes from the fact that said album challenges the comfort zone of the genre that it comes out in. This is that type of album. The universal outlook on this piece of art (make no mistake kids, this is ART) has been glowing. As it should be. Being a producer myself I look at things differently than what a person that is simply a fan would. This is because I have more of an idea of the work that goes into it. [cont.]

One thing I always love is when I can hear that said artist bust his/her ass to make the album. It’s sort of an unwritten code that only other producers can decipher. The chick in the club shaking her ass to her latest favorite jam (you know her, the chick that rushes the floor screaming “That’s my song” when she hears the opening bars leak through the speakers) can appreciate the song for what it is but the producer’s that stay up for nights straight working on a beat until it fits the vision they had will look at the same song differently. Noting little details like how Runaway uses the same drum break that leads into The Basement from Pete Rock and CL Smooth‘s seminal Mecca and the Soul Brother album. Mentally breaking down all the elements to it until he/she understands the vision the other producer was going for. Some of us may critique the beat if it doesn’t fit into our own particular way of doing things ( some fans do this too ) others simply sit back and marvel at the work we are witnessing, shaking our collective heads and simply saying “WOW”. For me this album easily is the latter.
I had a conversation with my boy J earlier today about the fact that when the “Underground” first gained prominence in Hip Hop it was a place where those that thought outside the box could gain accolades for favoring progression that the mainstream didn’t allow. But nowadays the majority of the underground has succumbed to the approach of having a formula. (usually a chopped up sample over heavy drums and light orchestration) Usually when an artist goes beyond these confines they are met by certain people claiming “That’s not REAL hip hop” even when the artists doing it are certified underground legends. (Exhibit A: Peep the reaction Felt 3 by Slug, Murs and the one and only Aesop Rock got from the backpack elitist that would have preferred for Slug and Murs to only rhyme over soul beats like they haven’t been doing that for YEARS)

Kanye West has been in the spotlight for many things (none of which I care to get into) but one thing people seem to overlook is despite the ego (or confidence depending on how you look at it) is the fact he is OBVIOUSLY someone who love music with a passion. How do I know? LISTEN TO THE F*CKING ALBUM. Do you think anyone who see music as simply a hustle would have bothered to make an album as musically complex as this? Everything from the breakdowns to the lavish instrumentation screams out “This dude worked on these beats for MONTHS not minutes” Even the beats provided by RZA ( as I said before, if you don’t know who that is KILL YOUR DAMN SELF ), No ID, Bink, Mike Dean etc are clearly manipulated to fit the vision Ye‘ had for this album. I can relate. When I produced the beats for my instrumental album Frozen Flesh, Ugly Soul or Left of the Scenery and Midnight Hindsight for my group The Plexiglass Fountain I was on such a mission that I lost more nights of sleep than I care to admit. People that heard the finished products told me that they could hear a lot of extra work and passion went into making those joints. (Hell yeah it did haha ) It was the same thing I felt when I heard The Cold Vein by Cannibal Ox for the first time. It’s a mutual respect that fellow producers have for each other when we hear one of our own push the boundaries just for the sake of doing it. Believe me MBDTF is literally dripping with that shit. Pretentious? You’re damn right that this album is that, but it is that in the best way possible. From the expertly layered vocals that announce Dark Fantasy to the filthy ( for lack of a better word that to describe it ) guitar chops, drum break and keyboard sprinkles that form the boom bap fueled Hell of a life Speaking of boom bap, one of the elements that informs that production style, Drum breaks, are used heavily on this album. Either chopped or looped. The drums on this album stand out for their smack capabilities. I read in a “making of” feature that Kanye used Mobb Deep‘s drums as a reference point for this album. It really shows because these drums punch in the same way that Havoc‘s early style did. Uncompromising in their aggression and very HARD.

This album has had so many reviews written about it that I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said before. So rather than rehash what other writers said about it, all I’m gonna say is THANK YOU Kanye. Thank you for making an album that is exciting to listen to in this age of safety nets. The purists can stick to their guns. Shit, I love traditional hip hop as much as they do (if you saw me wilding out to the jazzy beats of the Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders at Rock The Bells 2010 you would know better than to doubt that) but I still love to hear something that is so good and next level it almost scares me how adventurous it is. This is a double edged sword because certain producers create a great sound then abandon it for something else that is nowhere near the initial brilliance they displayed but this is not one of those albums. The only “traditional” Ye‘ sounding beat was done by Bink but I dare anyone to say that Ye‘ did not push his sound anywhere but forward with this.

So, allow me to end this with one of my favorite lines off the album “DJ’s need to listen to the models/ you ain’t got no fucking Yeezy in your serato?/ (you aint got no Yeezy nigga?)” Any self respecting music head that doesn’t have this album deserves to get cursed the fuck out. Nuff said.


Tokyo Cigar


originally posted on

Tokyo Cigar Thoughts: BELLY


Hood classic. That movie that represented the hood so thoroughly it is revered by ghetto dwellers world wide for showing outsiders ( which I myself was until I moved to Springhill Lake and started seeing firsthand what the hood was about ) the daily operation like Guru and Primo. Hood classics tend to only vary in terms of location. Weather it’s Uptown New York’s gritty sidewalks underscoring “Juice” or the Brazilian trenches that framed the blood soaked saga of “City Of God” the background adds it own element to the story but regardless of slang or fashion senses the drama had it’s own undertones that were indiscriminate of area. To quote  Rakim “It aint where your from it’s where your at” Weather your particularly “at” is Far Rockaway Queens or Kingston Jamaica certain things remain the same. Slugs burn, drugs are married to problems and shit is REAL.

This movie centered around the character Tommy “Buns” Bundy ( No relation to Al ) from Queens New York ( played by the kid DMX ) and gave a glimpse into his day to day life. Nas also starred in the movie as Sincere, Tommy’s right hand man, but DMX was the undisputed star of the flick. He came off as the cat he rhymed about on record but with more money. Shit, dude had the JUMPOFF crib for sure. Stacks in stacks but still that grimy project cat that would yoke anybody up over a wayward glance.  The ultimate charismatic villain. The plot revolves around an outta town trip to sling dope fronted to them by the Jamaican Kinpin Lennox ( THIS DUDE IS CRAZY!!!! ) They get snitched on by envious local dealers and a police raid stops the music like a drunk cat bumping the DJ’s turntable at a packed house party.  The movie is overall a commentary on the glamorization of crime in Black communities. DMX represented the devil in the equation. Overly ambitious and ruthless to perfection. Nas represented the tortured soul. Drawn to the lifestyle he and Tommy have but realizing the fact success in that life still represents a universal loss. Things kind of loosen up structure wise towards the end  but the message is still subliminally sprinkled throughout the movie. Like the part where Tommy has an argument with Knowledge ( Played by Power from Wu tang’s camp. Speaking of Wu, Method Man plays a ghetto assassin in the flick too. SUUUUUUUUU ) one of the characters asks “What happened to Knowledge?” and Tommy responds “Fuck Knowledge. Roll up. I wanna get high” Very slick move Hype. I like that.

Hype Williams has a right to be considered the best music video director of all time. Seriously. Dude is a monster with his.  He created marvelous epics for most of the certified superstars in Hip hop and RnB. Stuff like “Put your hands where my eyes can see”, “The rain” and “Can it be all so simple” redefined videos forever. The cinematography was beyond belief and his videos played like mini movies. Hollywood was the next logical step for him. His work on this movie is fucking amazing. The club scene with the black light, the parts in Jamaica, hell, every frame of this movie is beautifully shot. It’s one of those types of films that was hard to look away from even for a second because you didn’t want to miss that next fly image that was guaranteed to pop up. Even the image of the snitch ( Played by dude that played Cain in Menace 2 Society ) popping up for the first time rocking a VERY yellow track suit, hair permed, eating a banana just stuck out because of how it looked. ( me, Stix and Troub used to say his line from that scene “I don’t like that shit. Don’t like that shit one bit” at random times for weeks after we saw it, straight laughing our ass off every time ) I’m not a film student I’m just a cat that knows what I like and believe me I like the way this movie was directed. This flick is the embodiment of the term visually stunning. Hype combined all his tricks for this and stepped it up even further. It’s like when Dre made the Chronic. It had elements of his style from NWA but he redefined and perfected it on that album.

Hood classics may not win Oscars but the effect that they have are just as strong for those that relate to them. My boy called me up today and told me a crazy thing that happened to him and he said that he felt like DMX in Belly. Which caused both of us to laugh because the flick still gets brought up in casual conversations on the regular. And that, boys and girls, is a TRUE HOOD CLASSIC.





There are certain things I miss about England. Sausage rolls, Notting Hill carnival, Walking around London, the clubs etc. One of the things I miss the most is the people. Not the snooty rude muthafuckas, but the normal working class, everyday people. It was such a diverse mix of individuals that it was crazy. The ravers, cool kids, hip hop heads, football hooligans, pub crawlers, smart kids, FLY chicks (a fit bird with British accent is still the biggest turn on for me), West Indians, Pakistani’s etc It was a fucking crazy melting pot of Neighborhoods and little worlds within itself. When I was over there I would get so caught up in life that I would never sightsee. Running the streets at night with my cousins was fun, dangerous and ALWAYS interesting. The spots and lives there were breeding grounds for crazy stories.

I said all that to say this. Those same people I spoke about were dramatized perfectly for this movie. Guy Ritchie dug up the best of England’s worst and polished them up for the screen in this movie. Although the story spans 3 different countries. The heart of the story is in merry old England. The characters in the story are memorable as hell. I cant say the word “Bonjour” without picturing Bullet tooth Tony (Vinnie Jones) slamming some dues head in the car door while some 80’s pop plays in the background. Sol, Brick top, Mickey (man this was the moment I realized the Brad Pitt was a fucking ILL actor) and of course Turkish (Jason Statham). All the characters, apart from their various personality quirks, stuck out for one strong reason: DIALOGUE. Man listen, Everybody in this movie was coming out their face in style. Few movies have had me laughing my ass off as much as this. If you’re a rapper, this is a flick your gonna love cause it makes you wanna step your pen game up. Trust me. The “Desert Eagle POINT five o” speech alone is worth the price of admission.

The other part of the equation is the sequencing. The way certain things are hidden from plain sight adds another layer of humor to the scenes they are used for. Scenes also cut in and out in ways that when pieced together play like a classic episode of “Seinfeld”. The technique of one character setting off a chain of events that affect everybody in the film is used to perfection here (when you see the milk scene you’ll know what I mean). Guy Ritchie really pieced together a well though out gem. Stuff like the “I’m coming to London” section had me like “DAMN!!! Dude wasn’t playing”. I feel it was Tarantino influenced in certain bits but what the hell Tarantino himself was influenced by others so it’s just the natural cycle of creation. Guy Ritchie really put his stamp on this movie and consolidated his own crime flick sub genre style. Previously seen on his other masterpiece, “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”.

Even if anyone say’s that the movie didn’t “innovate” the gangster genre, you cant tell me it’s not entertaining. This is one of those movies I’ve watched dozens of times and it never get’s old. Seriously. A couple of months back they showed this “Snatch” every other day on cable. I always caught it when ever I saw it was on. It’s like “The Infamous” by Mobb Deep. You pop it in wanting to hear like 2 songs but you always wind up listening to the whole thing. Truly a classic.

So now, tell me one thing…”Do you know what “nemesis” means?”

TOKYO CIGAR THOUGHTS: Frank Miller ( Batman “The Dark knight returns” and Daredevil “Born Again” )

TOKYO CIGAR THOUGHTS: Batman “The Dark Knight Returns”

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller

The point of no return. Once past, nothing can fit the image/idea/sense of what it used to be any longer. At this point that I read this book. Batman was represented by Adam West, zany plotlines and BAM, POW and BANG!!! flashing on the on the screen during the fight scenes. Before that, It was the Super friends adventures and stuff like that. Batman was a “Good guy” in every sense of the word. I had seen the Tim Burton take on batman before but even the darkness there wasn’t enough to erase the image in my mind of who Batman was. When I turned 11 years old and I came across a copy of this in the local Giant store, I bought and read it. That was the moment I first experienced what a mind fuck was. Nah Nobody had even explained the concept to me at that point I just knew that something in my mind had been altered by this book, never to return to it’s original shape.

Frank Miller ( God bless him ) had deconstructed the Batman mythology so intensely in this book that over 20 years after it’s inception it still informs much of the versions of Batman seen today. ( Including the aforementioned Tim Burton movie ) This was the book that turned Batman into the grim, brooding hero he is today. Matter fact I would say that the wave of grimy superheroes from “Spawn” to the new volumes of “X force” owe their dark overtones to this book. Batman as a character has always been as crazy as the people he hunts. ( Picture CNN running a story about a real life millionaire that dresses up as a giant bat to beat up thugs. Seriously, picture what you would think of such a man if he was flesh and blood like you and me ) This book really showed how tragic, dark and ( most of all ) INSANE he really was. It also crowned the Joker as the Yin to Batman’s Yang. A relationship that showed that despite their Polar opposition of each other they were linked as one.

The artwork is stunning and the cinematic aspects of the drawings make you believe that you are watching a movie that you were not supposed to watch as a kid. The violence and sexual innuendos were intense but not gratuitous. Anything lighter would have lessened the impact of the book. But like I said it is INTENSE. Children get killed, eyes get stabbed, suicide and battered women all pop up in the story.

The plot itself is simple. Batman has a midlife crisis and after 10 years of retirement comes to show a new generation of scum that certain things don’t change. Simple right. Now add in the craziness of Batman’s world and what this turns into is a masterpiece of emotions. He faces off against Two Face, The Joker, The Mutants ( Gotham City’s newest generation of degenerates ) and crazily enough Superman. His gritty disposition is enhanced by the fact he is a much older man. Cranky, irritable but still a viciously skilled fighter and peerless strategist. Alfred is present but Robin is re imagined as a girl named Carrie. Which gives the story a cool twist. It doesn’t take away or enhance the plot as Robin has always been a sidekick but it’s just kinda cool that Frank took that turn.

I cant recommend this book enough. A must read for Batman fans. The line that a cop in the story says to his younger partner when Batman is about to be seen in full costume by the reader for the first time sums it all up “were in for a show kid”

Tokyo Cigar

Tokyo Cigar Thoughts: Daredevil Born Again


I had a conversation earlier with my boy Danimal ( whut up Playboy ) about the DVD series that DC comics have been releasing. At the end of the convo I stated how despite my tremendous respect for DC comics ( Batman is that DUDE ) , I’m always gonna be a Marvel. I wrote about Frank Miller in my last post for his work on “The dark Knight returns” ( shame on you if you haven’t experienced it yet ) because that is, simply put, the greatest graphic novel of all time to me……..even though I’m still a Marvel. My second favorite is another Frank Miller masterpiece. One he did for the house that Stan Lee built.

Daredevil was never a favorite of mine growing up. The stories just seemed too adult to my still developing young mind. If you told me my second favorite graphic novel would be a Daredevil story when I was a kid I would have looked at you like you were stupid ( I probably would have looked at you that way even if you told me something else, I was a real asshole as a kid ) TDKR had already introduced me to the concept of comics being more than just kid stuff, but Daredevil still didn’t grab me. I owned like one Daredevil comic growing up and I didn’t bother to catch the movie in theaters. About a year and a half ago I was online reading up on Frank Millers work to see what I hadn’t read yet and people kept on bringing up “Born Again” So I grabbed a copy and sat back. As I read it I caught the exact same feeling I had when I heard “Method man” for the first time. Which was “What the FUCK?!? This is incredible”

Maturity is a cool thing because it brings a whole new level of appreciation for certain things you just wouldn’t give too much of a fuck about as a kid. Daredevil seems to have always been intended for more older readers ( the character spends as much time working as a lawyer as he does kicking ass ) but when you mature and read it, it makes you feel like a kid again. The plot for “Born Again” revolves around Daredevil ( Matt Murdock ) being sold out by his ex girl Karen Page. Karen is a drug addicted, adult film star who sells Matt’s identity to a drug dealer for a fix. The info gets back to New York City’s top crime lord The Kingpin who has had beef with Daredevil for a long time. The villain discovering the hero’s identity thing has been done before but it usually turns into the villain fighting the hero at home rather than on the streets. What hit me about this is HOW the Kingpin attacks Murdock. He gets him disbarred, cleans out his bank accounts, strategically drives him mad from paranoia, turns him against his closet friends, THEN blows up his apartment. I’ve seen Superman get beaten to death by Doomsday, I’ve seen the Joker viciously murder Robin and his mother, hell, I’ve seen Magneto rip the skeleton out of Wolverine. None of them compared to what Kingpin put Daredevil through. Reading the story, I was like “DAMN!!!”

The art by David Mazzucchelli is very well done. Serving the story perfectly. I don’t find the artwork as mind blowing as works by Todd McFarlane, Norm Breyfogle or the almighty Jim Lee but it compliments the story better than I think even their fantastic talent could. The same way that the sound of “36 chambers” was nowhere near as polished as “The Chronic” but it was the PERFECT medium for the WU to do their thing on.

The magic in this is in the writing. Frank Miller outdid himself with the dialogue, both internal and between characters. If there ever was a comic that played out like a compelling movie, this is it. In one scene a man is murdered while a reporter listen’s in over the phone and the way the scene is set up and written is THE most nerve wracking moment in my comic reading history. The story is so good that I didn’t even notice that Daredevil was barely in costume for the entire duration. This is not a traditional superhero story. Rather than being amazed at feats of superhuman strength the most amazing thing in this is the triumph of the human spirit in the face of crushing adversity.

I recommend this book to anyone going through a hard time in life as it will make you wanna face your tormentor head on a punch him dead in the teeth, even if you don’t have a costume for fighting crime.




Part 1

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Remember the first time you really bumped your head hard on something? A cupboard, the floor, somebody else’s head, whatever. Remember the slight feeling of being dazed that hit you as your brain tried to soak in all that just happened. That is what the end of this movie left me like.

Quentin Tarantino solidified his spot in cinematic history way before he made this. But yo, this to me was his Livin Proof/Only built 4 Cuban Linx. This was literally ALL the shit a lot of people grew up on compressed into one movie. ( it starts with a Klingon proverb for Pete’s sake ) Simple in plot ( and brilliantly so in dialogue as well ); incredible in execution. I once saw a flick where I literally did not give a shit about the main character or anyone in the movie. That was never the case with this movie. From “The bride” ( as Uma Thurman’s character is referred to since here name is bleeped out anytime anyone mentions it ) to Nikki Bell ( Vivica Fox’s character Vernita Green’s daughter ) the movie is packed with people that stay with you even if they only appear on screen for a short time. Hell, people still speculate that Nikki will grow up and hunt down the Bride for killing her mother in a Kill Bill sequel.

The movie ( for the five people who didn’t see it ) is about Uma playing an assassin who wants to leave the life behind when she get’s pregnant. She gets betrayed by her former crew and wakes up after a bullet induced coma to seek revenge. Like I said, simple in plot. The execution is where it gets crazy. I think the references are where it really shines. Everything from the fact we never see “Bill” ( R.I.P. to the homie David Carradine who played the part remarkably ) to the fact “the bride” has many unknown things about her even though she is the protagonist gives the movie a very 70’s action drama feel. Everything from zooming into the eyes when she’s about to fight, to the deadly viper name flashes on screen give it enough humor to offset how dark the movie actually is. Parents are murdered in front of their children, people get shot up in Church and the INFAMOUS tea house scene let you know this is some seriously ill blood and guts shit going on.

While the story and Dialogue are purposefully simple in homage to the olden days action/Martial arts features that inform a lot of this movie. The acting, pacing and references is where the true power comes through. Uma really makes you feel for her. When she kills Vernita you may not fully realize her quest yet but by the time she kills Buck ( yeah you know Buck ) you already start rooting for her. The randomness of certain things like the Yakuza argument where dude flips out then start’s fanning himself keeps you laughing and the black and white parts, the animated origin of Oren Ishi and such spark memories of that classic movie/anime you know you saw a while back but cant recall in detail.

Another demographic this film will appeal to is the beat making crowd. Brilliantly scored by The Rza ( if you don’t know who that is KILL YOUR DAMN SELF ) the movie is jam packed with ill music that had producers running from the theater to MPC to flip something. From Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang, bang”, to the raw theme song used for the Crazy 88’s entrance to the tea house, to the Zamfir song that had all Killarmy fan’s yelling “Yooooooo that’s the joint 4th disciple flipped”. The music was such a classic element to the movie that the songs still turn up today in commercials.

Intense, funny, graphic, this movie is what good cinema is about to me. I saw it in the movies 4 times and I still watch it on DVD. Totally engrossing. This ain’t the sort of flick you have on in the back ground. Like the aforementioned Group Home and Raekwon albums, you have to fully pay attention to what is going on to realize that this is one of the dopest pieces of art ever. Some may not be able to stomach the gore but if they close their eyes for those parts and watch the rest, I think even they could not deny that Tarrintino knocked another one out the park with this movie.



Part 2

Immaculate beauty. That is what one scene in this movie captures unlike any other attempt before or after it in my memory.

I’ll get to that moment when I get to it. Like I said in my last review, Quentin Tarantino skillfully crafted an intricate simple movie. Linked by strands of old cinema and guerilla style edge, he touched upon a million classic Kung fu references mixed with anime styled excess. In this part of the movie the eastern influences play a more background role to the western themed final showdown between the Bride and Bill. The Bride still has her Hanzo sword but rather than get the feeling you got when you KNEW Bruce Lee was about to give 20 dudes a beat down, it feels more like Eastwood about to face an enemy at high noon.

The switch in themes is not the only opposite to the first film at play here. The simplistic dialog that gave the first one it’s playful charm is replaced with dialogue that proves why Tarantino is as respected as he is. Pulp Fiction’s “Royale with cheese” exchanged is topped by Bill’s fantastic deconstruction of the classic Superman character’s egotistical view of humanity. ( I swear I never looked at Superman the same way again, What an asshole ) The only place for the type of old school Kung Fu flick talk prevalent in the first part is during The Bride’s training with Pai Mei ( that’s my dude right there. Son don’t play ) and that is mainly done in Chinese with subtitles. This is a movie where insight into the characters is really shown by what they say. Often funny but very deep in certain parts. Seriously there are so many quotable in this movie it’s not even funny.

The tradition of compelling characters is still intact in this movie. From Bill’s surrogate father Esteban, Bill’s brother Budd and Elle ( who to me was the ultimate villain in the movie ) to the random characters that pop in and out. ( Budd’s strip club boss that said he was as useless as an asshole on the elbow was funny as hell ) Out of all of them though, the ultimate addition to the cast is Bill. ( RIP David Carradine ) You know those bad guys that are so cool you actually don’t want to see them die. That’s Bill. Dude is just so damn down to earth it doesn’t make sense. The fact that the daughter he raised requested her bedtime movie be “Shogun Assassin” ( trust me Wu tang fans were foaming at the mouth when the “Liquid Swords” intro started playing ) is a testament to his quirky but seasoned and wise killer vibe. After you saw what he did to the Bride you still expect him to get what’s coming to him but a part of you is like “damn. I wish they could work it out somehow” cause dude brings such a fly element to the movie. Rather than see him as just a cold blooded killer ( Like Elle ) you see him as a father and a man that was hurt by a woman he loved. But don’t get it twisted, he still always let’s you know what he’s capable of.

Now. On to the whole immaculate beauty thing. I gotta keep it real with y’all. I saw this movie on bootleg for the first time. My man hit me off with the DVD and I rocked it out for like 2 weeks straight. Seriously I would literally play this movie everyday. When it ended I would start over. For 2 weeks straight. The reason I bring this up is because there was one scene I kept on rewinding like a dope Big pun verse. It was the part where the Bride was walking through the desert on her way to kill Bud. As the song “sunny road to Selina” ( Check my remix of “My 1st song” on my Jay-Z remix album to see how much I love this song ) played in the background the image mixed with the music just hypnotized me unlike any other movie ever did. Seriously, this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I rewound that part a million times just staring at the screen and listening to the music. It’s not a major part in the plot at all but IT JUST WORKS. Any other song in that place would not have had the same effect. The music was as important to the scene as the image was and they combined to make immaculate beauty. This movie is full of things like that. Moments that hit you in the heart more than the funny bone. You saw the Bride cut through the Crazy 88’s in the first one. Here you see her train to get that good. Pai Mei is no picnic so when you see her earn his respect you feel for her even more. Even though this movie is the end piece to the saga in many ways it’s a prequel as you get to really see the inner workings of the characters you caught glimpses of in the first one and fully realize the dynamics of the Brides world.

That’s why “Kill Bill” as a whole is my favorite movie of all time. All the references come together flawlessly and the execution is blessed with that special coat of divinity that mark’s all true artistic genius. Hate it or love it, I don’t really care. To me “Kill Bill” is a masterpiece on all levels and solidified more than ever Tarantino’s place in cinematic history.


What Hip Hop’s supposed to sound like 3

Song 3.

“Better off dead”   by    Onyx

1995 New York crunk musik mixed with a healthy dose of death metal. The adrenaline rush that one would imagine such a musical concoction would carry is just about HALF as crazy as this track is.   Let me explain…….

The crunk part would be represented by the beat. The “ONYX” chant that loops in the background. The synth that quivers softly in the midst of the sonic ambush. The demonic bassline that courts evil thoughts quite effectively. All those elements mingle nicely with the crispy drums to create that George Romero flick type tension. As a producer i gotta give it to Onyx. They made RIDICULOUS BEATS. I guess their movie interests translated over to the beats they made cause this is that type of music that makes you see shit. ( in this case it keeps making me see the part in “30 days of night” when the vampires gather around the burning town , but hey ,different strokes and all that ) This song serves as a reminder that ( as fucked up as it may be ) negative music still has that way to make your blood boil and adrenaline pump like nothing else. This is’nt just punch you in the face music it’s L.A. riots in the 90’s type illing shit.

The rhymes are where the overdose factor kicks in ( represented in our earlier metaphor by Death metal ) Sonee seeza and Fredro were both hype ( old word i know but appropriate non the less ) m.c.’s. Admit it or not, they had a lot of cats beat in terms of verbal dexterity and pure 200% agression. Sonee switches up his flow at leats 4 times in the first verse and put in much work on this track while Fredro gives a good performance. ( but his rhymes on “last days” was where he truly made his mark on this album ) But STICKY FINGAZ MURDERED  THIS SHIT.  He gives heads a little 4 bar jump off  to let you know he is lurking in the back while the rest of the group spazz out before closing down the track on the final verse. Nothing i can put down here can prepare you for the way he GOES IN on the last verse. Seriously. I cant think of any colorfully worded way to tell you how he tore the shit down. Yeah IT’S THAT SERIOUS. Listen to it and judge for yourself.

Honestly speaking the “all we got iz us” album was one of the best albums of 1995 ( although the reviews it got would have you think otherwise ) it was lost in the overflow of classic shit that was coming out. 13 years after it’s release when i play the album for people who dont know about Onyx, this track is always the standout that grabs peoples attention. ( apart from those that bug out over the fact that the “last days” beat was used in “8 mile” ) And that, my friend is POWER. Well maybe not power but good enough reason for this track to deserve it’s spot on this joint.


What Hip Hop’s supposed to sound like 2

Song 2

“In my continental” by Atmosphere

Divinity. One of the words that defines it is “God like”. I know this may be seen as a bit of an extreme word to talk about a hip hop joint to some but it fits perfectly within the context of this song.

Slug. Love him or hate him, is one of the BEST lyricist to ever touch the mic. His brutal honesty trancends any barrier possible and he is truly somebody who speaks to the people. From “WND” to the whole “Lucy Ford” album to the new joints. His words seem to strip memories from your mind and project them over a breakbeat. On this joint the memories are’nt registering because your mind is wrapped around his flow and the way he contorts his delivery and pushes it to Eminem like propotions ( for em haters bump the “re -up” title track listen to how he KILLED that joint then shut the fuck up till you can do better )  Slug on this one joint speaks about hip hop in a way that has’nt been heard since Common dropped  ” i used to love h.e.r.” From the art of writing, touring, the message that it can spread, even the way undergound cats equate un understandable shit with niceness. Slug breaks down the parts of the machine that make it move. He does this while maintaining that sense of humour that always balances out the seriousness of what he said.  “if i gotta pick a position i’ma pick missionary” and   “i’ve had a little bit too much to think tonight” are some examples of it. All in all the rhymes stick out like the saxophone in the Night Court theme song. ( 90’s babies need not worry if they dont get the reference )

Now the beat. Ant really needs to be making beats for Ghostface cause damn this white boy got soul. Ant really knows how to update that boom bap shit without making it loose the grit and crunchiness. ( hell you can even hear the vinly crackling ) The loop was used before by Psyco les for the song “screwed up” by Screwball ( peace to Queens NY cats ) but Ant throws on the type of drums that used to bully other drums in high school over the loop and increases the neck snap quotient by 80. Minimalist but full at the same time this is the sort of beat that back in the days my click would have rhymed to for hours as it is chunky enough to get you hype while leaving enough room for heads to get open with the flow.

This joint speaks to rappers ( or any type of artist ) especially cause it makes you look at what you yourself are trying to contribute to the artform and even seriously question the intent behind pursuing a career in music. So for those who slept, the formula for divinity in this rap shit is mind elevating lyrics + sub level concrete production = Divintiy too funky for Church.

Catch the spirit children catch the spirit.


R.I.P. To my sister IVY ( 1977 – 2007 )

R.I.P. Heath Ledger. The words posted on the VDB WU TANG mountain blogspot hit me like an enclosed fist, rocking my brain into a state of heavy contemplation. I wasn’t a fan of dude ( although i was excited to see the spin he gave on the Joker in the previews for the upcoming Batman flick ) but death is a very touchy subject for me right now since i lost my sister last month. I wasn’t going to write about this but seeing as how since i read about dude just a few minutes ago and have been feeling this weird feeling in my gut since ( not to mention the fact that while at the movies yesterday watching Cloverfield, the part when dude had to tell his mom his brother died had hit me hard as well ) I figured i may as well get this shit out of me in any way i can.

Death is a strong motherfucker. You never realize it’s power to devastate life until it strikes close to home. As a kid it was something i knew about but never fully understood. my earliest memory of it was riding through Lagos and seeing a boy and his little sister laid out on the street after what had to be a hit and run. From the window of the car i only saw their motionless, scrapped up, blood soaked bodies for a few seconds but i can still vividly recall the scene till this day. The second time it hit me was in Dublin when the janitor in Blackrock college passed away. I used to buy candy from him at one of the schools tuck shops ( spots where students could buy candy and little pastries ) and then all of a sudden me and the rest of the boarding school students are walking single file viewing his body in a casket. When i started to run with more thug type cats in Greenbelt during the late nineties they told me countless stories of friends and family that died or got murdered ( sometimes right in front of them ) in places like Franklin ave Brooklyn, south west Philly and south east D.C. the thing that struck me about it the most were the rituals they had. Everything from the time worn tradition of pouring out liquor, to the way on the anniversary of his friends murder Dry Tearz would roll up a dutch and burn it down without smoking it , to the tattoo Troub had on his arm that read “Thank you Lord for this day, thank you Lord for this wonderful day” which is what his moms used to say in church when she was alive. Reminders. Reminders of times shared, but more painfully reminders of the fact that those memories are all that is left.

The power of death is always strong cause as an observer of somebody’s grief you cant fully understand the emotional and mental hell the person has to sustain but you can feel a small dose of it’s power through their suffering. Before dec 29th i had only every cried over my cousin Maurice’s death this one day walking through Hyattsville bumping Nas’s “sometimes i wonder” on my discman ( the third verse did it for me yo ). Now stress and drama are nothing new to me and a couple of  times life had been so hard that the kid let off a few tears just to get those negative feelings out. But I HAVE NEVER CRIED LIKE I DID WHEN IVY DIED. Man listen, that shit was horrible. Stress, pain and drama i had been accquianted with but never straight full fleged DEVASTATION. Air wasn’t the same, food was’nt the same, music which always served as my therapy for the first time ever in my life was hard to make. My liver is still mad at me for all that bacardi i was downing and even the la spot cats are kinda concerened that i am blowing more dutches than ever. At the drop of a dime my demeanor switches from happy to depressed according to others, and i find myself not wanting to be around people as much. The most painful things are the memories. The fun we had, schools we went to, fights we had, the sound of her voice, the way she stayed fly, her bulletproof swagger, the way she could walk with everybody from celebs  to real live street cats, the way she used to sing “sweet home Alabama” at random times, her kids, the way she used to tell me to go hard with the music, they way she used to dance, run track, play pranks on me, days we used to team up and pick on my little sister, the way her and my oldest sister used to talk, the way that every fly country i had ever lived in she was there too. EVERYTHING, AND THEY ALL HURT. The last time i hugged her was a few years ago cause when you live the life of drifters you tend to accept that people come and go in your life all the time but if i had know that would be it i wouldn’t have let her or her kids go. The way i came up was that Family was sacred. I put my music goals on hold for a minute cause mom dukes and my little sis needed help with getting by so i hold them down with rent, when Ivy came over last i gave her my room and slept on the couch, when i’m fucked up in the game my older sis holds me down eventhough she has her own bills, that’s how we get down. But when ivy died for the first time we were powerless to help her, no money we could send or compassion we could lend could help her and that was one of the things that hurt most.

When i sat down to write this i didn’t know what i was looking to accomplish by the end of it. The pain is still raw and the reminders are still there. I don’t know how this is going to continue to affect me down the line. Some people go through this and go crazy the others become motivated. Me being my usual oddball self  I’ll probably do both. My heart goes out to the Ledger family and all those that lost a loved one. One love, stay strong, mourn their death and represent their life.




I LOVE YOU FOREVER  ( my soul cries )

What Hip Hop’s supposed to sound like


Raekwon  featuring Ghostface killah and Cappadonna “Ice Water”

Halfway through one of the illest hip hop albums of all time there IT was.

After the “shark niggaz” skit ended, rza dropped some wierd videogame sounding shit for 3 seconds before the beast entered the building. There are many things that pushed this beat to be  ( in my humble opinion ) the best beat on a flawless masterpiece of an album. The dirty fender rhodes, the way rza would randomly let the Iron butterfly loop wander, the cinder block hard drum pattern that stiched it all together, the scratches that sounded like the turntable was angry while Big un was screaming on “lamebrain ass niggas”. But who are we kidding ? the shit that stains your soul about the beat is the intensely haunting vocal sample. For 3 mins 36 seconds you are damn near hypnotized by by a low pitched vocal constantly going  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH the shit is creepy yet spellbinding in an aural way that is similar to some of Tim burtons best movies in the visual context .

Then we have the rhymes. Cuban Linx was one of those super lyrical albums that save for one track ( Guillotines ) never focused on mic skills. It was high art because the cats spitting it were artistically gifted but they focused on the pictures they painted rather than on how they painted them. Ghost did’nt say “i’m nice” because saying “the bionic microphone and smack mechanic/ move like a bunch of mexicans with bandanas/” said just that in spades. Cappa put in much work on “ice cream” a few tracks down but his verse here was blistering ( and for all yall that did’nt know what ghost meant by raviolli bags on “supreme clientele” go sit in the corner cause cappa dropped that word first on this song, speaking of which i gotta get me some of those too ………… where was i ? OH YEAH )  To me raekwon became the best writer in hip hop when he became more abstract ( around the time he laced the “doe or die” remix with AZ ) but he was already in the upper echelon of my favorite mc’s due to his attention to detail, slang blade and willingness to show not only the good but the bad  with lines like “eating good had to shoot my way up outta bennigans/ that’s life/ to top it all off beef with wife/pulling bleach out tring to throw it in my eyesight/”.

I intended to start this series off with “Verbal Intercourse” off the same album due to the fact that Nas blurred the line between RAPPER and PHILOSOPHER in an incredible way and birthed what is undeniably ( to anyone that heard it ) one of the top 3 deepest verses in music. Not just in rap, but in music period. But “Ice water” was just too strong a track and after 12 years, hearing that wierd videogame intro to it still send chills down my spine.


Why music is life

“Durable physically fit raps articulate/ you get your whole skeleton cracked something ridiculous/” DAMN !!! It’s a shame that very few artist in the game can still kick shit as visually stunning as that. Ah!  Hell on Earth. An album that marked transitions in so many ways it’s crazy. The drums havoc flipped still had that stone hard feel ( perfectly described by my man OX as “the type of snare that makes you blink involuntarily when that shit drops” ) , but also sported the cleaness that would eventually dominate mainstream rap’s sound. The Infamous Mobb appearacne was also significant in the sense that The Alchermist was brought in through their affiliation with DJ Muggs. On a personal note 96 was the year that i came back over here after 3 years of living in Ireland doing the boarding school thing. ( Blackrock STAND UP )  While kicking it with my cousins in London ( where i always spent holidays at ) i saw the review for the G.O.D. father part 3 single in the Source and was fiending for it in Europe but copped it in Greenbelt MD ( Springhill Lake STAND  UP ) , so the album also represents a big transitional period in my life being where i went from classy to fly and ashy.

Which brings me to the main point about why music is life for me. I went from balling out in spots like Paris and Knightsbridge to busting my ass working over at Alabama ave in Southeast D.C. and living in the Kirkwood apartments in Hyattsville ( where my man Stix from Franklin ave in B.K. swore that the buildings reminded him of some low rise projects down to the corner store ) and no matter where i was at, Music always had a way of overpowering anything that was going on in life.  For example, sticking with the Mobb deep theme. I remenber waiting on Grafton Street in the city center of Dublin to link up with this chick i met at the movies. To kill time i jetted up the block from the McDonalds i was supposed to meet her to see what was new at H.M.V. Walking downstairs  to where you could find their rap section i walked up and i saw it. The big “IT”. Staring me in my dumbstruck face baring a sticker that read IMPORT was the cover of Mobb Deeps “The Infamous”.  Top 40 shit was bumping through the in store speakers, dozens of people buzzed around buying and selling shit and the only thing that i was aware of was the the bone chilling guituar riff of “shook ones part 2″, the relentlessly evil undertone Havoc served up using  bass and drums spliced together flawlessly on “cradle to the grave” ( the track that made me start putting vinly static on my beats for extra ambiance ) and the way that the sample used on “if it’s alright with you” ( WHY WAS THIS TRACK NOT ON THE ALBUM )gave me a warm yet sad  feeling everytime i heard it. Oh! by the way , big up to Tim Westwood for playing these tracks on his show before the album dropped.     Needless to say i copped it, stood shorty up ( it’s all good cause  i was wrong for trying to cheat on my girl any way ) hopped on the train back to school, pressed play and was immediately struck by the haunting string plucks of “start of your ending”. ( COT DAMN!!!!  THAT BEAT IS STILL HARD AS HELL  12 YEARS AFTER IT CAME OUT ) from start to finish nothing else mattered. On the flipside one day coming home from work in D.C. I was exhausted beyond anything i had experienced before. Rent was looming, stress in the crib and various other things were kicking your boy in the the teeth. Jumping off the greenline train in Hyattsville i was mad tight at the world. I had my heaphones off for the train ride cause i was reading ( now and then i go through a  bookworm phase ) after exiting the station i threw my joints on cause cars, busses and hundreds of people just as tired as you are is not really a relaxing soundtrack. I skipped the J-Love “Hidden darts” Mixtape to “The Sun” and from the intro( with Ghost talkin over lush strings and a flute so serene that it could put anybody in a beautiful coma ) to the outro, nothing else mattered. Rent was still due but music was still more powerful than stress. When the headphones came off the stress was still there but for that little while i was bulletproof to that shit and that is why to me music is life. I read somewhere that Egyptians used to say that music was medicine for the soul and i feel that way too. That’s why die hard wu tang fans that never knew each other can stop and have a 40 minute convo with each other based on nothing but the heavy love we got for the killa beez ( whut up Reynard the grandmaster of the wu tang collections )

I thank God for every little good and bad time i had in life cause ultimately it made me a better writer and producer. Cats ask me how i can make sample free beats like “beautiful scarz” that tend to have a lot of emotion seeped in without any formal training. ( shit i flunked music theory class with an incomeplete grade ) The answer is this. Any one of my fam that has seen me loose my mind at a show when a certain song drop’s or seen me jump out my seat scraeming when they hit me with a cd i’ve been dying to hear, they have the key, which is. I LOVE THIS SHIT. Fuck it. Thats all. Solo single no more no less. I’m a fully operational music geek. I’m the dude that reads album credits meticulously cause i want to know everything about that shit cause music just has that effect on me. I dont kow if my zodiac sign has anything to do with it. I rock the Aquairius sign ( fellow cats like Dr. Dre famous for his marathon studio sessions know about the love and from what i read about him the late great J Dilla knew too.     note: I am NOT comparing myself to these legends so dont go flying off the handle ) and people say that cats like us bang out joints too much due to a heavy love for creativity, but if that’s what makes somebody happy why brake that love.

Before i bounce let me hit you with this havoc line that just passed ( I really do got that that Hell on earth shit on the side of me ) “hit you up/ from the waist up/ thats how it is and how it is is kinda fucked up/ but the beats banging/ got your whole click singing/ on the corner while it’s ringing/”     Life is gonna stay fucked up and complicated but evryone from thugs on the corner to stressed out white kids in mosh pits, to grown folks catching a show by The Manhattans  can attest that just TURNING UP THAT GOOD SHIT AND ENJOYING IT always has a good effect.



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