Welcome to a new feature here at brokencool. It's called The Online Hip-Hop History Series. What's it all about?
Yours truly is one of the originators of urban entertainment coverage online. I launched the Hip-Hop Newsletter (also known as the HHN) back in 1996. It was the original email based Hip-Hop Newsletter online and one of the few reliable sources of Hip-Hop and urban entertainment coverage anywhere on the Internet. It was distributed to over 100,000 worldwide readers monthly. The publication was also one of the first Internet based properties to engage entertainment companies in unique online marketing opportunities.
During my 10 years publishing the HHN, tons of great Hip-Hop content funneled through the publication. Some of the issues have vanished into thin air (anyone have issues 1-12?) but I've managed to retain much of the content. In this brokencool feature, you'll get to see some reviews, interviews and controversy. Originally I was just going to publish pieces of the content however I will be posting full issues. Now keep in mind, much of these issues were published by me when I was a teenager not having any fuckin' clue what I was doing. The issues are presented unedited. So sit back and go back, way back...back in time.
*NOTE - The content that follows was originally published in June, 1998. Should you wish to have any of this content removed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope everyone has been doing alright as we head into the summer month's.
I would like to say wus up to all the new HHN warriors as you join us at
a very busy time. In the coming month's the HHN will bring you
interviews with M.O.P., underground soldier Headkrak and you will also
see the 2nd interview with Mountain Brothers. Also be on the lookout for
upcoming accurate reviews of John Forte's "Poly Sci", Cali Kings Mixtape
Volume 1, JD "Life in 1472" and a whole lot more. Issue #16 is another
busy issue that features reviews of new albums from Xscape,
Concentration Camp and more! Also, peep the interview with Psycho Ward.
Let's not delay cause I wanna finish typing this today! One more quick
note, peep me soon in Rap Sheet as I now run the fashion section of the
This issue of the newsletter is sponsored by:
http://www.beatstreet.com Coming straight out of Brooklyn, Ny,
Beatstreet is your premiere source for all of the phattest vinyl, Cd's,
Cassettes, Videos and gear.
http://www.everythingblack.com The place for anything and everything
Black on the net.
http://www.chillinonline.com Urban entertainment online. Interactive
discussion, polls, MUSIC/movie reviews, live Hip-Hop video/audio
performances, Black comics/urban events and more! Chill with us!
**** a STORM warning is now in full effect **** a STORM warning is now
in full effect**** The new maxi-single by STORM THE UNPREDICTABLE is
finally here!!!! MC's Be Killin Me/Verbal Expressions/bonus cut:
MiddleEast (f/Priest, Muyi & Kokayi) URBAN INTALEK RECORDS (301)
439-7515 or email@example.com $5 vinyl or $3 tapes.
3 THA HARD WAY- 1, 2, 3 and to the 4, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Daz is at
your door. Those are the emcee's that will star in "3 Tha Hard Way"
being written by Snoop. The 3 will also supply the music for the film's
soundtrack. Look for the whole package in mid 99.
BACK TO THE GRIND- Uncle L, LL Cool J will have a busy summer. He will
be appearing in the latest Halloween flick, he is in the midst of a tour
and he is now in the studio with Dr.Dre working on his new album. Look
for an early 1999 release.
FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY- The Beastie Boys are finally back. After
the Tibetan Freedom Concert, the boys will head on the road for a North
American and European tour. Their new album "Hello Nasty" will drop on
PAC, PAC AND MORE PAC- We will probably be hearing the name Tupac for a
long time to come as more of his pre-death material continues to
surface. Currently available are Makaveli 2 and 3, Hit Em Up2 and East 2
West (where Tupac appears with the Boot Camp). These titles can be
purchased bootleg styles at http://www.hiphopspot.com and they most
likely will be put out on Amaru and/or Death Row records in the near
future at a cheaper cost.
YO STAR!- Talib Kweli and Mos Def are joining forces to create the group
Blackstar. They will soon release an EP on Rawkus. Their current single
"Redefinition" is available when purchasing the current issue of Stress
magazine. The plastic record insert has some heads buying multiple
Are u ready to get psycho? I hope so because this month's interview is
with the Psycho Ward out of Maryland.
HHN: Please breakdown the group member by member.
Psycho Ward: Venom, Sweeps and L.Cannon.
HHN: Where did the name Psycho Ward come from?
PW: Venom: The name has to do with our music. We feel that music is a
powerful tool in stirring up people's emotions. We tried to come up with
a sound that made people do what they thought they would never do, and
that's go insane. Cannon: We tried to experiment with the mind and how
the mind controls the body and soul. We figure that if we can control
the mind, then we can control the body and soul, from a musical and
lyrical aspect. Sweeps: We also attack the ills that plague our society
and Hip-Hop as well, and when you deal with issues that people feel so
strongly about, we can't help but to get a little psychotic. I think
that it was Seal that said "we are never going to survive unless we get
a little crazy". That's real.
HHN: It doesn't take long to notice that the ward has a very east coast
sound, but the beats at times sound mid-west style. Is this correct on
how you would describe your sound? and if not how would you describe it?
PW: Venom: Psycho Ward sound is derived from the type of music we like
and listen to. We like all types and forms of music. However, we are
very east coast inclined because that's where we are from. Sweeps: From
the regional aspect, we are in the mid-atlantic, but it's considered a
HHN: On the track dedicated to a murdered brother of a member of the
group I can't help but notice how deep it gets with thoughts of suicide
and the good times that were once had. As artists how do the Psycho Ward
feel about getting this personal?
PW: Cannon: Well to me it was very easy to write because that song was
from the heart. Terry is the biggest reason why we are pursuing this
music dream. From the beginning, I wanted to let everyone know how I
felt when he was wrongfully taken from us. It's hard to lose such a big
part of my life. I wanted to let the whole world know what I was going
through at that specific time. It was hard but we all managed to get
through it. Whatever we accomplish is for him and he will never be
forgotten. RIP Terry from your little bro!
HHN: "Why you talk about it/when you don't have it" is the opening to a
track called "Snake N*ggas" that shouts out those fake emcees acting
like mobsters. In regards to this how does the group feel about the
often criticized NAS?
PW:Sweeps: It deals with the people who talk the game and never lived
it. We aren't trying to call out names, it's an attempt to tell people
who are rhyming about this type of life-style and never seen it except
in the movies, they need to identify themselves, and not somebody else's
shit. Cannon: Basically no, we aren't' trying to call out anybody's name
specifically. It's just to tell the people who are fronting and know
they are fronting to stop that shit. Venom: For those not living that
way need to chill because as Black people we already have enough
negativity surrounding us. Cannon: As for Nas, gots nothing but love for
that n*gga and the Firm. They are definitely doing their thing. I can't
tell you why they rhyme the way they do because i've never been around
them to know anything about them, but I can tell you that the stuff they
rhyme about definitely happens there.
HHN: What are Psycho Ward bringing to Hip-Hop and how can you help
Hip-Hop advance in a positive direction?
PW: Venom: We bring creativity and 100% originality. Sweeps: As long as
it's new and exciting and talented people are involved with Hip-Hop,
then it will never die and always be positive.
HHN: I notice that you guys aren't afraid of using R&B hooks on tracks.
Why do you feel the R&B/Hip-Hop combo always gets a bad name?
PW: Cannon: I'm not sure, I think that some very influential artists in
the industry aren't doing it so many people that follow those artists
feel the same way. We experiment with all types of music and we came to
a concept that just happened to be R&B hooks. Sweeps: We play with
everything from R&B to Heavy Metal, to Reggae, to Techno. We have come
up with some banging shit for other markets.
HHN: What is the most important event in Hip-Hop history?
PW:Sweeps: The most important event in Hip-Hop history is the creation
of music. The creativity displayed in taking two turntables, wax and a
microphone and creating a whole new art form is phenomenal, and I think
it is imperative that we look at the art form in this context. Let's not
destroy our only form of musical expression created by our generation.
HHN: What do the Psycho Ward like to do in their chill time?
PW:Sweeps: Well we get wild. LOVE TO PARTY and the things that come with
it. We love to perform and turn the party out!
HHN: Can you drop a freestyle for the newsletter?
PW:Sweeps: Mos def, call me on the phone.
HHN: Will Psycho Ward be touring?
PW:Venom: If everything goes right, yeah this summer, we aren't sure of
the dates yet.
HHN: Where can people pick up your music online?
PW:Cannon: Head to http://www.psychoward.com There you can reach us for
information on our new CD as well as some Real Audio clips from our new
HHN: What is your final message for the newsletter?
PW: As long as people be real to their standards and morals then they
can't fail. Also there is a strength in numbers, we need to multiply and
unify, instead of divide and allow for people to come between us!
FREESTYLE SHOWCASE- This month's freestyle comes to us from
firstname.lastname@example.org If you think you got more skills then prove it by
sending your freestyle 10-15 line max to the newsletter. "Here comes da
black sheep pullin more hits than Blackstreet/da black fee that creeps
in cleats on ya backstreets/wit phat beats and dope lines rough rhymes
and ghetto 9's/186 in a death mix ya ass is mine!/no description of a
prescription no codes or encryption/make ya blind blow ya mind goin off
in a canniption/despite fact and fiction/my invention powers da ignition
of a lynchin/but I have NOOSE for you/face in dirt foo--come strapped or
get jacked/just a minor setback when you live da life of a mack/kickin
out verses more funky than similac it's da lyrical miracle comin
straight wit da pimp slap!!! Grim Reefer.
WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN AND WHY- This section in the newsletter is where
random questions will be asked regarding current events in the urban
music, film and t.v. industry. If you have a who, what, where, when and
why statement/question to make send it to the HHN. Here we go.
WHO......will dis Canibus next?
WHAT.....album this year could possibly be better than "Moment of Truth"
by Gang Starr?
WHERE.....is Michael Jackson?
WHEN.......will we see a new Fugee's album now that Lauryn Hill and
Wyclef are beefin?
WHY..........is the Smoking Grooves concert not coming to Toronto,
ILL SITES- This section is dedicated to those Hip-Hop, R&B and Reggae
sites that standout above the rest. Please submit sites that you feel
deserve to be in this section and they may appear in the next
installment. This issues ill sites are:
OFF THE WALL- This is the section where each issue we will give url's to
ill Graffiti pieces on the internet. Please submit pieces you come
across and send them to the newsletter (please include url's). Here are
this issues pieces:
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR- Please submit your questions and comments to the
LORD TARIQ&PETER GUNZ "MAKE IT REIGN" (Codeine/Sony) Rating $$$ out of
I don't care if you're from Toronto, Canada or L.A. we were all shoutin
"Uptown Baby" in early 1998. The duo of Tariq&Gunz were talking of never
recording another track together, now all of a sudden we have their 15
track debut album. Things begin hard with "Make It Reign" but smooth out
with the new single "We Will Ball". "I'm too hot to handle/too cold to
freeze/write's the illest shit and don't smoke no trees" states Gunz as
he leads "We Will Ball" off. Official Nastee and a dawg stop by on
"Massive Heat". Sticky Fingaz and Kurupt help create one of the rawest
shots on the album. Lack of originality is evident throughout the album,
especially on the Michael Jackson sampled "Startin Somethin" and the
Lionel Richie jacked "Fiesta". The only straight lyrical track is "Who
Am I". Of course the hit "Deja Vu" is included and another track with
potential is "Keep On" produced by Clark Kent. Cleverly using "Award
Tour" by A.T.C.Q., Gunz and Tariq hook with the terror squad (Pun and
Joe) to come up with the hook, "I'm on the cross Bronx with Gunz my
man/on the southside of town with a brick in my hand". Things finish
with the JD produced bonus cut where the team comes very soft on a track
for the ladies. There are no doubt some strong points, but the lack of
originality when it comes to rhymes and beats hurts them in the end.
XSCAPE "TRACES OF MY LIPSTICK" (So So Def/Sony) Rating $$$.5 out of
The women Biggie described as "ugly Xscape bitches" are back and simply
don't care what people think. Gone is the Hip-Hop/R&B feel, substituted
with a more mature tone. The new direction was clear after hearing "The
Arms of the One Who Loves You". "Your my little secret/and that's how we
should keep it" is undercover advice from the group on the twisted "My
Little Secret". The old Xscape stops by on "Do You Know" and for some
reason it doesn't fit the group anymore. JD's off balance production on
this project is evident on "I Will" as he continues with the Hip-Hop
beats although the girl's seem to be off that vibe. The album's only
guest appearance is from Babyface on "Your Eyes". He is not used very
well as he is only faintly heard in the background. "The Runaround" and
"Hold On" finish off "Traces Of My Lipstick" on a mellow vibe. If your
looking for a hit packed album, look elsewhere. What we have here is
nothing more than a well sung, straight forward album.
DELINQUENT HABITS "HERE COME THE HORNS" (LOUD/BMG) Rating $$.5 out of
It's been a minute since Hip-Hop's heard from Delinquent Habits, well
it's time to welcome them back with "Here Come The Horns". Appropriately
sampling Tupac for the chorus to "This is L.A.", "It wouldn't be L.A.
without Mexicans". When on their own, Delinquent Habits sound like their
on their last leg, but when Sen Dog of Cypress Hill stops by things pick
up and receive an injection of originality. "Here Come The Horns"is a
boring lead single that uses an inappropriate beat. Real Hip-Hop breaks
through on "Super D.J." as the group gives love back to what they call a
"dying artform". The first half of the album is too mellow, and things
don't pick up really until the last three tracks including "Life I Live"
and "Get Up, Get On It" featuring Rude, Mellowman Ace and Sen Dog. The
heavy bass and faster delivery on "Get Up..." give the album the only
east coast moment. If your looking for that Latino Hip-Hop vibe, stick
to Fat Joe and Cypress Hill.
CONCENTRATION CAMP 2 "DA HALOCAUST" (C-Loc/Priority) Rating $$$$ out of
Back on home turf is Young Bleed as he is joined by his homies C-Loc,
Lay Lo, J-Von and others to create the Concentration Camp. The lead
single "Sickess" rides on a guitar and a typical southern beat. "Man
f*ck ya'll n*ggas/man f*ck ya'll bitches/always runnin to git us/but you
can't get wid us" is the chorus that spoils a tight single. It is clear
that Young Bleed's new found stardom is used through the album as he is
on almost every track. "Comin Down" has Bleed and the raspy voiced Lucky
Knuckles trading rhymes. The colonel of this gold and platinum tank
drops by with his bro Silkk on "Where The Playas At" with C-Loc. The
nicest surprise here is Master P releasing the tightest verse I have
ever heard from him, "runnin game like a choo choo train". Production on
"Outside My Life", "Still In All" and "Grind" can only be described as
ghetto dope. The whole C-Loc Records family stops by on "Cabbage
Savage". "Me and my n*ggas chop the streets like a butcher/things that C
couldn't/ghetto Rap pushers" spit in that NO drawl. "Didn't Mean To Do
It"should be enough proof that C-Loc should stay away from R&B and the
crew hit their first slow moment with the played "Dog Ass Hoes". The
backwoods feel of "Candy&Cream" is a haunting ending to a very solid
album that clearly takes C-Loc Records out of that No Limit shadow.
VARIOUS ARTISTS "THE LAND IN BETWEEN" (Regime Records) Rating $$$$ out
Underneath the Bad Boy's, the Loud heads and the Wu are some hidden
underground talent that won't be hidden for long. Regime Records has
released a compilation of Urban talent out of Wisconsin. The talent is
evident right away as Big Three (one of the artists destined to blow)
hits with "Diamond Studded Ish". It's hard not to compare Big Three's
delivery to Camp Lo as he comes with that smooth playalistic flow. Jesse
Lester introduces the R&B with a positive but sloppily produced track
"Mental Drift". Another Hip-Hop joint hits with the confident flow from
Rob Deez on "Who Dat Mc". The hardcore of the compilation is supplied by
Club Mecca who I am going to call one of the tightest groups in Hip-Hop
right now. Their two joints "Why Label" and "Guard Your Life" are so
impressive and the production on both joints is hella tight. "Diamond
Valentine" is Big Three's joint and it has the biggest chance to blow up
out of all the cuts on the album. "How much I dig your vibe/shorty let
me count the ways/1,2...but anyway's" drops three. A well crafted
compilation shows the future of Hip-Hop. The disappointing points are
the R&B joints and the emcee Noname.
RENAISSANCE MAN "MR.BANGA"B/W"NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER" (Renaissance Man
Productions) Rating $$$$.5 out of $$$$$
Mix tape award winners Double R and G-Bo the Pro come together to form
Renaissance Man. "Mr.Banga" is a DMX influenced track that states "I got
big plans in the city that never sleeps". "No Retreat, No Surrender" is
blowin up daily on hot 97 and after hearing the track, one would know
why. Harder than a brick of cement would describe the track as the NY
mentality is strongly placed over a desperado type beat.
STORM the unpredictable "MC'S BE KILLIN ME" (Urban Intalek Records)
Rating $$$$ out of $$$$$
Out of the home of the #1 playa Bill Clinton comes Storm with his single
"Mc's Be Killin Me", also included are "Verbal Expressions" and
"MiddlEas". "Lyrically you emcee's can't do me" is just one of many
times when storm challenges fake emcee's. The beat is backed with horns
and flows on the jazzy vibe. Yet another hidden underground talent in
LIL MO "5 MINUTES"feat. Missy (EastWest/Elektra) Rating $$$.5 out of
Another new artist off of Missy's Gold Mind label is here, Lil Mo's lead
single was written by Kelly Price and Missy and will appear on the
soundtrack to "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?". It appears that a little
outside influence has crept in as the track's verses and beat sound
similar to "Swing My Way" by K.P.&Envyi. Lil Mo has average singing
skills and will be brought along by the beats of Missy and Timbaland. "5
minutes/I was knockin at the door/2 minutes I had her on the floor".
Danceable jam that will receive average radioplay.
Thanks go to all subscribers of the HHN and all companies and
individuals that support the newsletter.