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Combat Jack: A Legacy Of Journalistic Excellence

Yesterday (December 21) the world was shocked to hear of the untimely passing of one of the culture’s most prominent…

Yesterday (December 21) the world was shocked to hear of the untimely passing of one of the culture’s most prominent and crucial historians, Reggie Osse, better known as Combat Jack. His death came just over two months after it was announced that he was diagnosed with colon cancer — a deadly disease that claimed the lives of 50,260 Americans in 2017 alone (with an additional 135,430 Americans diagnosed this year).

Starting his career as a legal intern for the storied Def Jam Recordings in 1989, he spent the 90s (up until 2004) as a music attorney, most notably working with Roc-A-Fella Records (among MANY others). He later spent time as the managing editor of The Source Magazine and lent pen game to some (major) blogs — including his own. It was his podcast though, The Combat Jack Show, that ultimately solidified his place within the culture and helped to pave the lane to brand new industry that has since seen a new wave of strong voices.

The in-depth interviews that Reggie was able to get on his show, coupled with his well-spoken demeanor and incredible microfiche of Hip Hop knowledge allowed him to — since launching the show in 2010 — create a rich archive of stories. These have effectively helped to fill in many gaps in golden era happenings while digging into more contemporary artists and brands pushing the culture forward.

We’ve since become acclimatized to a number of (new) staples in the Hip Hop storytelling game, such as DJ EFN and N.O.R.E’s Drink Champs (currently airing on Revolt). Reggie, though, set the blueprint.

The stories were crazy. D-Nice described to Reggie in astonishing detail the events that led to the shooting (and death) of DJ Scott La Rock. John Forte told the story of his rise alongside the Fugees — and eventual downfall after a massive drug bust. Ice-T gave an excellent first-hand account of how gangsta-rap developed organically in 1980s LA. That, of course, is on top of more guests like J.Cole and Big Krit. The show’s seven-year run built up an incredible library that will forever teach and inspire a new generation of both fans and fresh journalistic voices.

From the success of The Combat Jack Show, he built an empire, Loud Speakers Network which includes other notable shows like The Brilliant Idiots with Charlamagne Tha God and Andrew Schulz, and (of course) Tax Season with the notorious Tax Stone. His roster boasts 1.2 million listens per month and regular appearances on Apple’s Top Podcast Charts.

This year, he had been riding particularly high after possibly his greatest body of work, Mogul, which was the incredibly detailed life and times of iconic music executive Chris Lighty — as told by the people that knew him best. Touching on topics such as mental health and domestic abuse, it unbiasedly traversed the good, bad, and ugly in the music industry, while walking listeners through digestible chapters in the life of a man who profoundly steered the most glorious and arguably essential years in the growth of the culture.

It was, without question, one of the best listening experiences I’ve personally had in many years.

As Hip Hop is getting older, we’re increasingly being reminded of our mortality. Earlier this year, I had to (sadly) write about the death of Jay “Icepick” Jackson, a producer and A&R who was instrumental in the Ruff Ryders movement, who passed away from prostate cancer. According to Swizz Beatz, who is the Godfather of Jay’s son, his final request was that men are made aware of how important it is to see the doctor and check up on their health.

Perhaps — like Jay — Reggie can also serve as a reminder that we need to keep a close eye on our health. Scarily enough, 1 in 21 men are at risk of developing colon cancer. If caught  early, about 92% people with stage I colon cancer are given relative 5-year survival rate.

He will forever serve as the benchmark for Hip Hop journalism that all of us in the game should aspire to achieve. As well, he exuded a level of love and detail that readers and listeners should demand. Reggie’s spirit is a tremendous loss for the culture — he leaves behind four children, many (many) friends and a legacy of fantastic content. Our condolences to all those personally affected by his loss.

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns

You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

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Migos Announce “Culture II” Release Date + Cover Art

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced…

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced Culture II via Instagram on Monday night, with a release date of January 26, almost one year after Culture (now certified platinum), took the world by storm, moving 131,000 copies in its first week. The announcement comes after a late 2017 interview with Montreality, where Quavo was vocal about the group’s new sound.

“We’re creating a whole new sound [with this album.] Hip-Hop has changed in a big way, so you could mark this down as we changing.” –Quavo (to Montreality)

The album is led by the Pharrell-produced single “Stir Fry,” and the Cardi-B assisted “Motorsport” — both of which are tearing up the Billboard Hot 100. While little is known about the project, Quavo promises top quality production. “CULTURE II WAIT TILL U C WHO EXECUTIVE PRODUCED IT” the rapper tweeted back in October. Check out the announcement below, and pray the trio release the tracklist soon.


A post shared by Migos (@migos) on

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Lil Pump’s Team Finesses Their Way Out Of WB Deal

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new…

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new year as an independent artist. According to Billboard, The “Designer” rapper recently terminated his contract with Warner Bros., stating he was only 16 when he signed.

Famed entertainment attorney John Branca wrote a letter to the label on Pump’s behalf, reaffirming the age issue, and further arguing the contract was “never certified by the court,” Billboard states. Warner Bros. Larry Mattera, the labels VP of commerce and marketing, said:

“We, as a company and as a label, needed to build and establish more of a presence in the urban space. They (clearly) had insights and relationships on the urban side of the business in the network landscape.”

The “Gucci Gang” rapper is well positioned as an independent artist and is rumored to be fielding offers anywhere from $8 to $12 million, according to Complex. The young Soundcloud breakout is already a high-paid sensation. In December, TMZ reported that Pump received a $345,000 advance on his debut album, in addition to 15% royalties. The album moved 46,000 copies its opening week, and its lead single “Gucci Gang” is still moving. Former Warner Bros. CEO Cameron Stang Praised the rappers business savvy, telling Billboard: “They’re innovative spirits, and they don’t take no for an answer. Pump is an incredible artist; he’s got fantastic charisma and a huge personality, with lots of talent and no fear.”

Lil Pump isn’t the only one making serious moves in 2018. Fellow Soundcloud rapper and childhood friend Smokepurpp recently signed to Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records and is finishing up a highly-anticipated collab album with Murda Beatz. Pump recently released his latest track “Trap Jumpin” featuring Juicy J, which you can find below.

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“Money Power Respect” Turns 20

It’s a glimmering artifact that marked the end of Bad Boy’s golden era.

1996, I’m up at 2 am on a Friday dubbing College radio — as was the routine at the time — and then I hear it, “You’ll See” by The LOX featuring the Notorious B.I.G. Over the repurposed instrumental of Faith Evan’s “Used To Love Me,” the trio (though obviously younger) had that signature chemistry that we’ve always collectively loved them for, and of course a flame emoji Biggie verse. The song was dubbed off that original tape so many times the tape popped.

“Money Power Respect” Turns 20

The following year, we became even better versed with the Yonkers trio, as they made incredibly high profile appearances; first on Puffy’s “All About The Benjamins,” Ma$e’s “24 Hours To Live” and then on Mariah Carey’s “Honey” remix. By the time “If You Think I’m Jiggy” dropped on white label samplers, the hype for their debut album Money Power Respect was tremendous.

20 years later, it remains one of those albums that has stuck with me; though dipped in elements from the grandiose height of Jiggy” era, which was stamped with big budget videos and shiny suits, the album holds up with its incredible production and (timeless) street-hop lyricism.

When I call an album timeless, I base that title on the ability to rock an album all these years later and still have the same impact as it did the first time I rocked it. To put that statement into perspective, playing the debut album by Das Efx today likely doesn’t create the same charm as it did back in the day.

The title track of this album can still be played anywhere — at any time — and garner a positive reaction. The shit is a classic. But, apparent hits aside, it’s B-sides like the Carl Thomas “Let’s Start Rap Over,” which is an homage to rap legends of the 80s, or the spacey “All For The Love” instrumental that genuinely carry this project.

Ending with the touching “We’ll Always Love Big Poppa,” a tribute to Biggie, the album ultimately stands up as the end of the golden era of Bad Bay Entertainment. With Ma$e’s eventual departure from the game, Biggie returning to the essence, and Puff’s solo career taking on a new life of its own — on top of The Lox’s campaign to be released from the label — shit was never really the same. The label had hits and had a more than a few new “superstars” on its ever-changing roster, but nothing felt as powerful and impactful as their original run.

Money Power Respect is a classic album. Plain and simple. Whether you’re a Young head wondering how The Lox came to be so revered, or an old head who hasn’t bumped this album since your teens, It’s worth revisiting — in fact, here it is. Press play and let it run.

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