Wednesday, December 5, 2007


With all the drama surrounding the release of Wu Tang's "8 Diagrams", it's easy to forget there was a time when stumbling upon a track like this one would have your homies stuffing tissue paper in the top of their cassette tapes faster than they could empty the White Owls. Nowadays this will probably get lost in your iTunes library before you can even finish downloading it, just another freestyle from some mixtape. Sure the sound quality is horrible and yes, that sure is the SMPTE timecode you hear bleeding throughout the entire track, but the haphazard immediacy of it all is where the real charm lies. The Sandman beat is a great dose of 90's minimalism: cinder block drums, a bass tone and a dusted rhodes sample and Meth sounds high off the vibe of the mid 90's Wu season. At the time, that's all we really needed and the shit was banging, son.

Method Man - Off The Wu Headbanger Freestyle (bootleg, 1995)

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I discovered Cue's Hip Hop Shop in 1995 after seeing an ad in Bomb Magazine and after my initial visit, became a loyal customer driving weekly from Redwood City to Daly City to cop whatever new joints they had got in. At that time, my jones for collecting hip hop wax greatly outweighed my income (I was washing dishes in at the cafe inside the Stanford Nordstroms), but owner Frank "DJ Cue" Cuevas always hooked it up with a free promo or a discount and there were always tons of posters and stickers for the taking. Frank's shop was a hip hop paradise like nothing else the Bay Area will ever see again. NY had Fat Beats, we had Cue's. When I first started working on this blog I realized that most of the music I wanted to focus on I was exposed to through my frequent trips to Cue's. In addition to running the store, Frank is a member of the Bullet Proof Scratch Hamsters DJ crew (who released the infamous "Hamster Breaks" records) and it's many offshoots (Space Travelers, Drum Machine Technicians) as well as organizer of two Cue's Hip Hop Shop compilation albums. Here's a quick interview I did with Frank in October 2007.
Cue with The Infamous

How long have you been DJing?

I’ve been djing since 1986. I was in Jr high and bought a set of 2 belt drive turntables and a Pyramid mixer with echo from my sister’s boyfriend. It was 150 bucks. Only 1 turntable had pitch control and that was a trip for belt drive. I bought records back in grammar school but never thought about getting into djing since all I did was play sports. To this day baseball still ranks higher than djing for me.

At what point did your obsession with records reach the point where you decided to open a store? Was it a response to not being able to find the records you wanted or was there another motive?

The store was something I wanted to do since while I was in high school. I’ve always wanted my own business and once we released Hamster Breaks, I got a taste of how shops ran when we dealt with the owners selling to them. For me opening a shop was an extension of making records. I could have a location to be at fulltime, making, selling, and buying records. It solved all my objectives at once.

While other small DJ shops catered towards club records and wicked mix compilations, you had an entire wall devoted to independent and underground hip hop 12 inches and lp's. Why this focus?

Back then I had a mindset of changing things for the better for the music scene and giving people what I wanted them to hear. I felt the indie scene was so much better than the commercial music being put out. If I could make an indie artists record get 5 more sales than the best Top 40 record, I was happy. Having a shop in the Bay Area was also very big for the indie scene. Not having any support from the majors was one of the main reason why the indie scene was our choice. The major labels weren’t trying to support vinyl only shops at first. We sold vinyl and we went with what felt was best for our shop and future.

You were carrying a lot of obscure, indie 12 inches from the East Coast. How did you decide what to order? What distributors were you dealing with?

The selection was based upon what the indie customers wanted. The local indie and college stations pretty much predicted what was going to be our selection. We listened and read the magazines. The community was small and close so everyone kept in contact letting each other know what was out. We bought from distributors from all over. Once in awhile we would sell records on consignment if we weren’t sure the records would sell.

What are some of your favorite records of that era?

Wow, good question. High and Mighty B-Boy document, East Flatbush Project Tried By 12, all the indie Big L and DITC stuff. Rawkus always had some bangin stuff. Ras Kass “Remain Anonymous” was one of the hottest complete tracks I recall too.
Back then 12 inches almost always had an accapella, a remix or an unreleased b-side - there was a reason to collect them even if you weren't a DJ. Nowadays the 12" seems to be more of a boutique item. Why do you think the industry moved away from the exclusive 12" goodies?

The industry is really lazy now and it shows with the quality of the music they put out. Everything is an anthem or says the same thing on every verse. That being said, what else can the labels do? There’s no need for acapellas or instrumentals if the crap they put out really is short term. They are just trying to stay alive and will release as much stuff as possible looking for a hit. They can send out email blasts of tracks all day for minimal price compared to a 12 inch single to 3,000 dj’s plus the cost of postage and advertising. At the end of the day it’s just business.

You had a virtual who's who of 90's artists come through and do in store appearances. Which one's were the most memorable?

I think a few that were memorable were Biggie and Craig Mack, Big L, Saafir, De La Soul, and 2 Live Crew. Those in store appearances were always so unpredictable. You never knew if people would show up, especially since a lot of the artists were unknown at the time. All of them were interesting in their own way from Ol' D B to Bootcamp Click. I wish I recorded them to see them now.
Biggie instore

Why did you decide to close the store?

At first I think I was lying to myself and feeling overwhelmed by everything going on in my life at that time. I was 20 when I started the shop and never had time to go do anything normal like most people. But that wasn’t the case. I did do things that were normal and a whole lot more. I had a good time with the shop when it was around. It’s been about 7 years now since I closed it and now after looking back, there wasn’t much else to go further with at the shop. People were downloading files with Napster, DJ’s started migrating to the Pioneer CD players. If I wasn’t going to enjoy it, I had to get away from it. I think I was tired of the fighting with labels to try and get new records on vinyl for my core DJ’s and trying to keep the CD DJ’s interested in the vinyl we did get. I wasn’t going to only sell cd’s and I didn’t have the motivation to look for another way to run the shop. The era had come and gone for it.

Sandbox Automatic recently stopped selling vinyl. I was talking on the phone with a homie from NY and he remarked that it was a true sign that hip hop is dying.
What are your thoughts on the further digitizing of DJing and hip hop in general?

You know I wish I could agree with that. But the thing that keeps me looking forward to a new era and revolution is the internet. The same thing that has killed off most of our culture is helping rebuild it. Many of the folks who never got into the networking and establishing identities online are now doing it and making a difference. Just imagine you can send a shout out to DJ Premier or hit up producers you never had contact with. I feel like a kid again and this time I have full access to what I want to look for. I don’t have to listen to any radio or any DJ’s music but my own. When the digital world was new everyone took what was given to them and that was the written word, now you have multiple choices and you can fact check and find the realness that you want. I know it will work and I look forward to being a part of it.

What have you been up to recently?

Recently I’ve been just taking what I’ve learned the last few years and been making a new game plan for my career in music and business. I’m a real estate agent, notary, and I work in the I.T. dept for Lucasfilm. Everything I’ve gotten myself into is for the sole purpose of growing and expanding my music/business careers. Each thing gives me an insight on the aspects of technology, business, and property. Last year I got certified as a Certified ProTools Operator so it gives me that little extra when people ask for me to work on projects. I guess you can say I’ve been going to school the last few years catching up on everything. I think the plan is working out.

Thanks for the interview! Anything you'd like to plug?

The only plug is really the new site I put together for the crew at Its a site that has the whole crew together in one place. we've never had a central location as a crew until now.


DJ Cue Myspace Page

Cue's Hip Hop Shop Myspace Page

Sunday, November 18, 2007


The bathroom at my house was being remodeled for the past six weeks. I had no shower and had to shit in a port-o-potty in my drive way. The side of my house that the port-o-potty sat on gets direct sunlight for a majority of the day. Shit was definitely not pleasant! My studio was sealed off with plastic and almost everything else in the house was stashed away or covered up in one form or another. Having my house in such disarray pretty much killed any creative urges I got during the last month and I really slacked off on pretty much everything and just tried to maintain sanity. They finally finished work on it last week. The same day they put my toilet back I retreated to the lab and put a real nice beat together like it was nothing.

In the meantime, Luke Sick and I have been putting the finishing touches on the first Grand Invincible album, "Ask the Dust", Jake Won and I are working on putting together a new podcast-style mix show, and Funeral Shock is working on a new self released 4 song 7" that will come out early next year.

Since I haven't posted in a bit I'll drop this megamix 12" I picked on a weekend dig a few weeks back.
Juanito and DJ EFX worship at the altar of "Planet Rock" circa 1989. Props to Uncle Enrique!
Juanito (FX) - Don't Stop The Mix b/w Cold In Effect, Sound EFX Recordings, 1989

Don't Stop The Mix

Cold In Effect

UP NEXT: A look back at Cue's Hip Hop Shop with DJ Cue

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I used to play in a hardcore band called Spazz. We were around from 1993-2000 and put out a ton of records and played a bunch of shows. We recorded our 2nd album, "La Revancha", in 1997 which had a drop by Kool Keith on it. It totally bugged everyone out at the time (including myself) and I'm constantly asked to tell the story how it all came about so I figured I'd write it up here and give you all the real deal.

Spazz was heavily inspired by the underground hip hop explosion of the 90's. Hirax Max (drums) and I were avid listeners of college radio mix shows and I was DJing and collecting hip hop 12 inches and making beats much to the chagrin of some die hard punks. If you check out our lyrics there's tons of references to old hip hop tracks and we even named our 3rd album "Crush Kill Destroy" as an homage to Organized Konfusion homaging the MC's Ultra. I can safely say I was listening to a lot more hip hop than hardcore while we were doing the band.
Our friend Neil was a childhood friend of Dan The Automator and had met Keith with took a trip with Dan out to NY. Neil told of Keith's infamous peep show and video arcade route and told us Keith's pockets were bulging with change ready to begin the trek. He even brought Max back a signed promo poster for the "Four Horsemen" LP. I was jealous. One night, Max calls me up and says Neil had just called him to see if we wanted to meet Kool Keith up in SF. Max had school or something so he called me and said I should call Neil back ASAP. I called Neil, got directions and in my haste grabbed my recently purchased "Basement Tapes" LP that happened to be sitting out Keith was in town recording the Dr. Octagon LP at Dan's parent's house. I drove up to SF, met Neil in front of the house and we ended up chillin' in Dan's room while they were working on "Girl Let Me Touch You", waiting for them to take a break. The finished their take and emerged Keith emerged from the makeshift vocal booth. We chopped it up a bit and I showed him the "Basement Tapes" LP and he got pretty bummed. He asked where I got it and he said Ced was doing all sorts of shit with their material and he had no say in any of it. I told him where I picked it up and he asked Dan if they could go there tomorrow so he could buy one. Then he reached down beside Dan's bed and pulled out this huge blue duffle bag. "Do you like Max Hardcore?" he asked as he unzipped the bag which was stuffed full of VHS porno tapes. He started pulling out different tapes and talking about him. We talked porn for a minute. Somehow we started talking about metal bands (I think Neil told Keith he should check out Spazz or something). "Do you like Gorefest?" he asked. I told him they were alright "Do you like Autopsy?" I told him of course and that I knew one of those dudes. Keith was pumped. I told him I had a tape of the record we were working on and The Automator threw it in so we could check it out. Keith was bugging out on it. He asked if I could do that same guitar sound on the record they were working on. I said no problem and told him I would get in touch with them tomorrow. I asked Keith if he could do a shout out for us and we would put it on the record. Automator flipped the tape over and recorded Keith's drop that you hear on "La Revancha".

The next day I called the phone number Automator had given me to figure out if and when I could go back up to the studio and do some guitar. I never got through and they never called me back. "Andy Boy" is credited as playing guitar on the track and while I cannot confirm or deny it, Neil told me it was Andy from Attitude Adjustment. I was happy enough to chill with Keith and get that drop. To this day, it has to be one of the most bonkers hardcore / hip hop crossovers in the history of music. The Judgement Night soundtrack has nothin' on this!
A few days later Neil called and told us that Keith had mentioned Spazz in one of his new rhymes. What the fuck??? We never thought it would see the light of day until we heard "I'm Destructive". Holy shit! The line taken almost word for word from the conversation Keith and I had that night. And then Dr. Octagon drops and completely blows up, etc, etc. I'm not sure how many people who were listening to Spazz were also listening to Ultramagnetic at the time. but it seemed that EVERYONE was listening to the Dr. Octagon LP. A lot of people were catching the Spazz reference and asking us about it. I'm not sure if Keith ever got a copy of "La Revancha" (I'm still holding one for you, man), but I hope someone has played it for him at some point. It's one of my favorite records we recorded and I'm stoked to have a hip hop legend on it. Yeah, I know that this post is on some fanboy ish, but it's Poppa Large; the one, Rhythm X; KOOL MOTHERFUCKIN' KEITH!!

Dr. Octagon - I'm Destructive (Dreamworks, 1996)

Kool Keith - I'm Fuckin' Flippin' (Tuff City,1994)

Kool Keith & TR Love - Live at the 1990 Zulu Nation Anniversary (taken from Edan's Sound of the Funky Drummer mix)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Rob One was one the tightest mixtape crafters from the left coast until his untimely death from Leukemia in 2000 at only 27 years young. Back when mixtapes were really on tape and were actually mixed, Rob was relentlessly rocking the set. You may be able to catch downloads of a few of them floating around on the web, but it's a shame whoever inherited his master tape legacy didn't keep them in print. This promo record he put together for EMI in 1996 may even be rarer than some of his original tapes. The only time I've ever seen it is when I picked up this copy. While the mixes are done in the unmistakable style of Rob's tapes, the track selection is what keeps them from really standing out since they were all new EMI joints they were promoting at the time.

The real gem here is Rob's "Bring It Back To Philly B-Boy Mix" of Bahamadia's "Uknowhowwedu". Rob basically gives her track a Double Dee & Steinski style makeover, giving us all a history of Philly hip hop and a panic sweat inducing display of just how deep his crates went. It's a shame this track is practically unknown in comparison to both Shadow's and Cut Chemist's versions of "Lesson 4" as it definitely can hold it's own right along with these cut n' paste hip hop classics. Listen and learn!

Bahamadia - Uknowhowwedu (Rob One's Bring It Back To Philly B-Boy Mix)

Mix One

Mix Two

Bahamadia - Uknowhowwedu (Kool DJ EQ Remix)

Friday, October 5, 2007


A guest post by Luke Sick

The sweaty, baby-oil "Belly" effect on their faces aside, just look at the dispositions expressed on these fools mugs! A soldier was walkin' thru hell in '96! The paranoid wastedness of angel dust fry. But then peep the back cover, even more decadent, look at homey with the wet ass bag lunch joint, he's too took! And remember homey is not just showing off his 5th Ward Boyz tattoo, 'cause he's also showing off an awesome farmer's tan. Even Larry the Cable Guy would have to admit that that is pretty damn redneck!! 5th Ward Boyz is the truth!! Real playaz from the ward puttin' it down for the ward-- no frills, that's a good example for anybody who considers themselves a low budget soldier. One homie is wearing a grey p.e. shirt for chrissakes. I don't have to mention the lack of jewlery, I'm just sayin' sweaty, scummy, and paranoid is back for '08!!! Check it: One dude is praying they won't get caught, one guy is so paranoid he knows they're gonna get caught and he ain't goin' back to jail, and one guy is so burnt that he doesn't even give a fuck:

Check out the janky Underground Records logo, I don't think there is anything in the world that says "front for a drug cartel" next stop the liner notes, where I will prove that 5th Ward Boyz predicted Tupac's death... stay tuned:

If you will direct your attention to E-Rock's section you will notice how he says peace to Eazy E and 2-Pac right after he mentions the Luniz... Now peep game: Eazy E died on March 26, 1995, Rated G by 5th Ward Boyz was released on Nov. 14, 1995, but 2-pac didn't die until Sept. 13th, 1996!!!! And homie E-Rock puts them together to say peace knowing Eazy was already dead as in "rest in peace," so why does he put Pac's name there next to Eazy's when Pac isn't even dead yet? He is obviously relating the two somehow and Pac was never really down with E cuz he had beef with Deathrow. I think I've stumbled onto something here like the Da Vinci code, the 5th Ward Code... anyway besides all that pay close to what E-Rock says from then on out, hardness like that shit is sorely-missed in these days of sissy-collared sweater-shit... threatening the lives of potentially pregnant women? Classick!!! And it's always cool to big up your weed smokin' boys, hell ya! Not to mention "Fuck Peace we all gone burn in hell" and "This world ain't got no love why should I!" Man I love that mid-nineties "it's all fucking over, so fuck it" shit!!
5th Ward Boyz - Rated G CD (Rap-A-Lot Records, 1995)

Concrete Hell

Death Is Calling

Friday, September 28, 2007


The first of of 2 12 inches the heavily Wu-influenced Camouflage Large dropped in the mid 90's. "Hitmen Holdin' Steel" is somewhat of a posse cut which credits Ghetto Minds, 21 Guns, Messiah and Underground Assasins as MC's. Producer E. Knight lays down some nicely dusted piano chops with the occasional horn stab. The slighty catchier flipside, "Cocbacda 9", features an ominous organ and piano loop atop a driving, bass heavy beat with only Razen Cain and 21 Guns holding it down lyrically. Razen Cain also raps on "Hitmen" which makes me wonder if the some of those credited MC's are crews or not. Another mysterious 90's indie release and the sole offering from Closerange Records.

Camouflage Large - Hitmen Holdin' Steel 12", Closerange Records, 1996

Hitmen Holdin' Steel

Cocbacda 9


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


This is a remix I did of Missin' Linx's "Sametime" which was originally produced by Mark B. This beat was actually from an old Underbucket demo Luke Sick and I were working on years ago. I threw this one together old school style only using records and the MPC, no Pro Tools.

Missin' Linx - Sametime (Eons One Remix)

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I'm sure most of you caught the recent 3 part T-Ray interview over at Unkut where he discusses how the Ghetto Pros LP was supposed to be the first release on his Warner Brothers distributed label until all sorts of drama went down and it never came to be. Someone ended up bootlegging the finished product and ironically I came across it at Amoeba the same day the I read the Unkut post linked above. I had heard of it years ago, but had never come across a copy online or in real life. I gotta say it's definitely a slicker and slighty more mainstream Ghetto Pros sound than you may be used to if you followed V.I.C. and Mike's previous Hydra and Rawkus related productions. It may be the case that the large budget played a big part in ruining that sound. Instead of making the best of what you have available , suddenly it becomes the sky's the limit. Personally I think hip hop sounds best when produced under extreme limitations and that's probably why this is some of my least favorite Ghetto Pros material. Featured MC's are Kurupt, Jo-ell Ortiz, Kool G Rap, The Beatnuts, Nate Dogg, Big L, Brand Nubian, B Real, Dead Prez and Tha Alkaholiks, among others. The only track I've seen officially released elsewhere is the Dead Prez one which T-Ray released as a split 12" with Milano on his Beatdown Recordings label.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


Here's another one from the grimey 90's. I had forgotten all about this 12" until I recently came across an auction for it on eBay where it fetched almost 20x what I paid when I bought it new back in "nineteen such & such". I always remembered it not being all that spectacular back then so I decided to pull it out to revisit it. At the time of it's release I'm sure it was definitely overshadowed most of the other records on the racks, but spinning it today you'll hear that Lefrak's Chrome Rebels (aka Chrome Rebel Dynasty) had the CNN/Tragedy Khadafi/Mobb Deep sound DOWN. Over an melancholy 8 bit piano loop, Mr. Chrome and Crab Rebel spit heavy QBC influenced flows inspired by the "scientific genocide" going down Irak City. The sole release on producer Coptic's Coptic Soundsations label, he later went on to produce tracks for Da Brat, Boot Camp Clik, Black Rob, Memphis Bleek, G-Dep, etc.

Chrome Rebels - Escape From Irak (Vocal Org.) Coptic Soundsations, 1997

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Who were Death Camp? I have no clue, but this KRS One producer banger is serious underside of a manhole cover in the middle of the projects type grimey. Only surfacing as a test pressing, this appears to be the final release for Bill Stephney's short lived Stepsun Music Entertainment label. The production is raw hip hop at it's most primitive with KRS dropping a 2 note bass line over a heavyweight kick/snare combo while Tombstone and crew break down their daily schedule which is the polar opposite of my sorry ass, working stiff lifestyle. At least I can live vicariously through this elusive piece of wax. My boy the Zodiak Iller (RIP) originally turned me onto this 12" and he used to end every episode of his weekly radio show with it. It was our anthem as we climbed out of the basement, zooted at 12pm on a weekday.

Death Camp "Sleep All Day" (Main Mix) Stepsun Music Entertainment, 1995