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Home » Author Archives: Jeff Leon

Author Archives: Jeff Leon

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Jeff is a senior staff writer for A lifelong fan of Hip Hop culture since the moment he discovered Public Enemy and De La Soul, Jeff is always on the lookout for new and engaging rap, and is willing to talk (and write) Hip Hop to practically ANYONE who will listen. Escaping from Florida where he went to the University of Florida (his thesis on Hip Hop and African culture was well received), he now resides in Washington, D.C., where if he isn't jogging, he's tinkering with his Android phone, listening to copious amounts of music, re-watching "The Wire," and taking out suckas in Battlefield 3.

Diamond District: March On Washington [Album Review]

March on, Washington. March on. Five long years. Let me tell you where I’m coming from. When I first heard In The Ruff, the debut of the Washington, D.C. group Diamond District, it was the fall of 2009 and I was in my senior year of college in Florida. I came across the record on a Hip Hop blog with the reviewer praising the gritty feel, the rugged lyrics and interplay of the three emcees, concluding that the album was an expertly modernized take on NYC’s golden age boom bap… except these guys weren’t from New York. Oddisee, yU and Uptown XO all hail from the DMV, or the District, Maryland, and Virginia, and In The Ruff was their cannon shot to the world to show that D.C., a much overlooked scene in the Hip Hop world, could bang as hard as anywhere else. The album was definitely a diamond for me, and remained in my headphones for a good while. And I was hungry for more. Five years later? I live and work in Washington, D.C., and have been witness to the steady rise that the DMV is having in Hip Hop. Artists like Logic, Fat Trel, Shy Glizzy, Wale (of course) and others are garnering interest outside the DMV. Oddisee, yU and XO have all dropped several solo works, pretty much all of them dope, and left many, me included, awaiting their reunion. And now they’re finally back with March On Washington. Five years. About time. March On ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush The Show

Simply put, Public Enemy changed my life. That is not an exaggeration. I was in my late teens when I first heard the legendary group and their music guided me throughout my youth. They were that group for me rebellious and fiercely intelligent; the soundtrack to your most tumultuous years when you start getting out into life and begin figuring out who you are and what you want to achieve. P.E. launched my fascinations with Hip Hop, music, history and Black cultural studies, and provided a canvas for my college years. While I was nearly two decades removed from the groups heyday, the music and the message still resonated to me more than anything else Id heard in my life up until that point. Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Terminator X and the Bomb Squad got me listening, thinking and writing. They got me inspired, got me passionate. This is all thanks to their second album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Now, their first record? Wellto be quite honest I kind of slept on it. Public Enemy was originally known as Spectrum City in the early 80s, a collective comprised of emcee/deejay/visual artist Chuck D, Bill Stephney and Hank Shocklee. The trio worked at WBAU, the student radio station of Adelphi University in Hempstead, NY. The group dropped a few early singles, which gained some burn locally thanks to Chucks socially conscious lyricism. But it was a response record entitled Public Enemy No. 1, targeted ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Prince Paul – A Prince Among Thieves

When I started Forgotten Classics back in 2011, I had a master list of albums which I wanted to spotlight. Some I’ve written about, others I’ve yet to cover, but there’s one particular record which has been sitting on the list since the beginning which I feel is time to talk about. It’s a joint that seemingly only the staunchest of Hip Hop listeners who, to put it bluntly, know their shit, know about; a classic amongst classics that never got it’s time to really shine, though it has earned admiration and praise from all who knew the artist and appreciate truly dope work. I’m talking about super producer Prince Paul’s magnum opus, A Prince Among Thieves. Hailing from Long Island, New York, Paul Huston got his start in the mid-‘80s by being a member of arguably the first Hip Hop band Stetsasonic, operating as the group’s DJ. Although the Stet was gaining commercial and critical success with their records, 1986’s On Fire and ‘88’s In Full Gear, Paul wasn’t exactly getting his dues. His role was that of a little brother in the group, getting shunned when trying to help out in production duties and passed over when it came time for the photo shoots and groupies. Though he had talent behind the boards and a twisted sense of humor, it wasn’t until he met up with three kids out of his hometown of Amityville who dubbed themselves De La Soul that he got his chance to shine. De ... Read More »

Forgotten Classics: Da Grassroots – Passage Through Time

“Take it back to Grassroots…” In the late ‘90s, Canada’s Hip Hop scene was undergoing a renaissance, returning from years of being on the backburner. Poised to explode in the late 1980s with emcees like Toronto legends Michee Mee and Maestro Fresh-Wes gaining attention at home and abroad, cosigns from major American rappers like KRS-One, and a pioneering Hip Hop radio program known as The Fantastic Voyage hosted by deejay Ron Nelson at Toronto’s Ryerson University, several stumbles sidelined the rise. Lack of attention by the American public and dismissal as a fad at home, as well as lack of a true Hip Hop radio station in many major markets, Toronto, in particular, kept the scene north of the border very low until 1998. That year, a legendary collaboration between several prominent Canadian emcees — Rascalz and Checkmate out of Vancouver and Toronto artists Kardinal Offishall, Thrust and Choclair — changed the game. The track, called “Northern Touch,” reenergized the community, bringing dope rhymes and a much-needed spotlight to listeners on talented emcees and producers who aren’t from America. It didn’t take long for other local artists to shine, and one of the most stellar crews present during this rebirth was Da Grassroots. The trio of Mr. Attic, Mr. Murray and Swiff had been producing for Canuck rappers throughout the ‘90s, with a string of singles and close connections within Toronto’s Hip Hop scene. In 1999, they dropped their one and only record, a compilation known as Passage Through Time, ... Read More »

Latyrx: The Second Album [Album Review]

2013 has certainly been an intriguing year for long-awaited returns. Eminem with MMLP2. Deltron with Event II. Well, add Latyrx to the list. The duo of Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker, part of the solid Bay Area collective Solesides (or now known as Quannum Projects) just dropped their first record in 16 years. Simply known as The Second Album, the record follows up on their 1997 forgotten classic, The Album, a terrific work which thumbed its nose at the rap trends of the day and had both emcees exploring life over soulful and experimental beats, some contributed by DJ Shadow and Blackalicious’s Chief Xcel. Though both emcees have had considerable solo careers since, they felt it time for a reunion, and The Second Album has them commenting on the state of Hip Hop, media, life, death, and more, with contributions from Busdriver, Gift of Gab, Zion-I’s Amp Live and others. It’s been over a decade, so of course the duo has to make a grand entrance and on “Arrival.” They do the damn thing nicely, coming with a large and anthemic vibe, perfectly set up by Jel of Anticon. Lateef declares, “Seize the moment, collectively own it, victory is waiting for us, arms open. We have arrived!” There are claps, shouts and cheering as Lyrics Born steps up like an energized reverend, presiding over a wild congregation: “It’s an awesome time for those of us who felt marginalized, compartmentalized, or felt like we led nominal lives,” he reveals, “or ... Read More »

Top 10 Albums of 2014
Top 10 Mixtapes/Free Albums of 2014
Top 10 Slept-On Albums of 2014
Top 10 EPs of 2014
Albums / Mixtapes Instrumentals New Singles Sponsored Releases
Ben Boogz (of 2 Hungry Bros): Soleil (feat. DJ M-Tri)
MarQ Spekt & Blockhead: Devil’s Island Storyteller (feat. Sadat X)
Hassaan Mackey & Kev Brown: That Grit [EP Review]
Big K.R.I.T: Cadillactica [Album Review]
Black Milk: If There’s A Hell Below [Album Review]
Stalley: Ohio [Album Review]
Ras Kass Talks Blasphemy LP, Working with Apollo Brown and Longevity in Rap
D.S. Interview At 90.5 FM [Video]
Artist Spotlight: RF3RD
Otis Brown III Talks The Thought of You, Jazz & Hip Hop’s Symbiosis and Donald Byrd
Lazarus: Open Heart Surgery (feat. Bizarre of D12)
Clay James: Kool Water Intro (Music Video)
Git x 1Mt: Lifestyle of an Artist
British Producer Actress Embarks on Short Tour – Win Tickets!
Paid Dues
Win Passes to see Lil Wayne, Ab-Soul and more at Paid Dues Fest in Los Angeles!
Microphone Check 1-2, 1-2
Donwill: Bad With Names Episode 8: 2014 Wrap Up (feat Von Pea)