vrijdag 7 mei 2010


This is another one people have been asking me to revisit. Since i posted some of these demos a couple of years ago, this has been done better and more comprehensive by others (probably before as well), but i think it still serves as a beautiful time document that is worth posting again.

Most people ain’t trying to hear it when you are shopping them. Kool G rap couldn’t sell Nas to any label and it took Serch a while too before Columbia saw the potential. Jay even started Rocafella because nobody would offer him a decent deal. KRS started his Juice crew war over the fact that Mr.Magic wasn’t trying to hear his early BDP tracks. However, in retrospect it’s always fun to hear the first steps of artists who later became certified superstars (or at least much respected). Over the years i stumbled over a couple of these demo’s on the internet and i wanted to share them with you. This is for the listeners…

Most of these are not really demo’s but early features and freestyles. It’s no secret Hova started out as a sidekick to Jaz-O, his feature on ‘Hawaiian Sophie’ is probably the best known example of this period. The other notable features are with Original Flavor who had some momentum at the time, Jigga steals the show though. It’s also with O.F. where he gained his first stage experience, touring with the crew.‘What’s in a name’ cleverly uses some famous names from that time and ‘I Can’t get with that’(which was a b-side to in my lifetime on payday) showcases Jay’s fast flow. This collection was compiled by 'Vinyl' by the way.

This here is a rare glimpse into a time before The great adventures, Ricky D probably already enjoyed massive success with the Show and La-di Da-di. On this track you hear him playing around, freestyling over a basic drummachine loop. He shouts out his Kangol crew and Doug E Fresh and displays his incredible talent for setting a scene with just a couple of bars. Hail to the Ruler!


This is supposedly the original demotape that Kool G Rap and later Serch shopped around (more likely it's a collection of tracks from around that period). All of these songs have been widely spread on the internet, showcasing a pre-illmatic Nas that already shows the promise of one of the greatest. On some tracks like ‘I’m a villain’ and ‘number one with a bullet’ you can still hear the G Rap influence dominating his style (the Kool Genius of Rap also features on the latter), but on tracks like ‘Déjà vu’ the brilliance of Nasty Nas prevails. ‘Understanding’ also features the first ever appearance of a young AZ.
Ever since i first heard 'Microphone fiend' as a teenager (it had been out for at least 5 years, i'm not THAT old), Rakim Allah has been my personal favorite. He was only 18 when he dropped his debut, My Melody, but recently even older material has surfaced. This is an outtake from a high school party in Wyandanch (Long Island), where the 'R' grew up. He was still rhyming under the 'Kid Wizard' name, as he called himself before he found righteousness, and appears along Biz Markie was already fairly succesful at that time with Roxanne Shante. Ra has not perfected his style just yet and especially the first verse betrays his influences from old school heroes like Cold Crush and Kool Moe Dee. However, the second verse (5:10) definitely shows a glimpse of the emcee this kid was about to become in the following years. The greatest indeed.

This collection of Biggie Smalls demos and early freestyles paints an amazing picture of the emcee before the success of Ready to Die. It features all the demos Biggie did with DJ 50 Grand and Mr.Cee and then some. His amazing timing is already evident, but at this time also done over more uptempo production. Last time around i already had some of these, but with DJ´s talkin over them and as far as i can hear, these are all original. Big thanks to whoever compiled this. Listening to these tracks Biggie Smalls remains the illest.

Big Daddy Kane & Kool G Rap - Raw (demo)

Here I am, R.A.W.... Kane was tearing em up in the late eighties and Raw was the perfect example of that. This demo right here steps the rawness up a couple of notches, with G Rap stepping up to push the Big Daddy even harder. It reminds me of Finesse & Percee P's famous clash in Paterson Projects, the energy is that crazy. When these two go at it, you get Hip Hop at it's finest really.

Last year WIDEawake entertainment, a Canadian company, has bought the rights to Death Row's infamous catalog including all the unreleased material and outtakes from the days when Suge reigned supreme with the Chronic and Doggystyle. I can tell you back then we were fiending for anything snoop and the demo's included here would've been the most sought after treasures. Thanks to the internets they are now available, although these are pretty bad cassette tape rips only diehard G-funk fanatics will truly appreciate at this point in time. Hopefully our Canadian friends do the right thing and release these in CDQ and proper mix sometime soon.

Also included is an actual 213 demo. Again in bad quality due to the cassette tape, but if you can listen through that you will hear a unique pre-chronic/deep cover Snoop going at it with Warren G. The unique voice stylings are already there, I wonder if this is the track that got Dre’s attention? Besides the 213 demo and the Death Row outtakes this link also features the 'Over the counter' tape Snoop put out in 1991.

Wu-Tang Clan

Some people claim that the Wu’s early work was badly engineered and had that vintage basement sound, but listening to these demo’s they stepped it up a lot one their later releases. RZA lays the foundation to the signature sound on here with some very early versions of later Wu-Bangers. The unique style and swagger that made the wu movement so big, with such an impact, is already evident. They did grow a lot from this 92 demo to 93’s Enter the Wu-Tang… and i’m glad they did. Still the greatest run of albums a Hip Hop group will ever have (and i love Tribe!).

A Tribe Called Quest

Speaking of those Midnight Marauders, here's a couple of demo's from ATCQ for good measure. Included are some demo versions and unreleased songs from the Ummah period as well as the white label for Phife's If Men are Dogs. the real gem here must be the demo to Scenario with entire different lyrics from the Native Tongue family members. It's a nice peak into their working process, but it's probably fair to say they went with the better version eventually.

This joint still sounds like the old school sound that KRS’ generation revolutionized. The influence of a Melle mel is definitely heard. Also the Synth/bongo sound didn’t make way for the JB breaks yet. The young KRS does already show his teacher persona attacking the crack epidemic of that time. He evolved from this powerful, yet rather average mc to one of the biggest Hip Hop artists of his generation.

O to the C made a lot of heads turn when his classic ‘Time’s up’ dropped in 94. His debut album is still an underrated 90’s eastcoast classic. He was first heard on Organized Konfusion’s fudge pudge, but the talented DITC lyricist had a demo out at that time as well. These tracks showcase an already mature artist that was ready for his ‘word…life’ and ‘jewelz’ records. Damn shame he never really made it above ground really….

Pharoahe Monch/Organized Konfusion

Speaking of OK, Pharoahe and Prince Po had their own demo out some years before that. The virtuoso flows of the duo (then known as Simply II Positive) are already evident on here. The influence of a Rakim and a G Rap is more obvious on here, but the signature cadence is already there. On the demo track to ‘Prisoners of war’ their knack for original concepts also shows.

These are really some early Fame tracks, but since Fame went on to become one half of Brownsville’s hardest; MOP, i will look at it as a predecessor to their work. These two tracks indicate the hardcore mentality of the young fizzy Womack, but the sound is still funky and less adrenaline induced- in your face than the later work the Mash Out Posse put out. The tracks were featured on the 92 'the Hill that's Real' compilation that showcased the local Brownsville, Brooklyn talent.

Common (Sense)

Com has always been artist whose artistic growth was evident from album to album. In retrospect his debut album ‘Can i borrow a dollar’ almost sounds like a demo. Here's his first 7-track demo that won him Unsigned Hype status at the Source back when it still mattered. As a bonus i threw in some instrumentals that were supposedly meant for Com's underrated Electric Circus project (Thanx Quest!).

Black Moon

The distinct jazzy laidback jeep sound from the Beatminerz combined with Buckshot’s gruff voiced singsong flows were not there from the very start. The same crew is responsible for this uptempo demo in a typical early nineties NY style. The Bucktown attitude is already there, as well as the obvious talent and the duckdown chants. Interesting start to one of NY’s nicest movements from that era. The track eventually appeared on the debut single ('who got the props') as a b-side and on their diggin in da vaults compilation.

Dead Prez

Hip Hop’s favourite militant act of recent times started out as just that. These early demo’s indicate the same political mindstate that made them relatively famous, but have a more traditional eastcoast sound than the more progressive sounds and flows featured on their debut album (which had some of the earlier Kanye beats) and later work. Nevertheless these are some dope conscious tracks from the RBG’s.

Not exactly a demo, but still a great listen. This track actually had some momentum in the early nineties and features a young DMX without the style that made him a household name in the late 90s. With the decline of his career over the last years, the only time he makes headlines nowadays is when Darkman X clashes with the law. Born loser after all??

Another underground favorite. I was fiending to hear these cats when they came out at the time. I got into Hip Hop through graffiti in the early nineties and to have artists combine the two artforms was right up my tagged up alley. I was able to grab the last available copy at the recordstore in Amsterdam, but was persuaded to surrender the record by Mental Kees before i could actually cop it. That night he played some tracks on the national Hip Hop radio show (Villa65) and shouted me out. It helped a little bit against the regret i was feeling at the time. Either way, this here is the unpolished demo to their first single Wrong side of the tracks. Unlike the single this version features Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar. After the second album Artifacts desintegrated and El da Sensei and Tame One basically kept busy in the margin of the underground scene.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth - T.R.O.Y. (demo)

As soon as those amazing horns come in every head knows one of the greatest Hip Hop classics is on deck. however, the demo version (or was it a remix?) didn't have the distinctive Tom Scott sample. Instead it has a female singing a hook over a sparse, uptempo soul groove. Needless to say they made the right decision changing up the beat, turning it into a hallmark of 90's eastcoast Hip Hop.

Mobb Deep/Poetical Prophets

So yeah, Mobb Deep were pretty much a kidsgroup when they debuted in 1993 with Juvenile Hell. Hell, they hadn't even reached their twenties when the Infamous dropped. But even before all that they were the Poetical Prophets (coming straight out of NYC's high school of Art & Design). As you can see below they were nice enough to win the Source's Unsigned Hype even way back then. Stretch Armstrong posted one of their demos all while back, but besides that gem this link also features demos from the period around the Infamous album. Even considering how young they were at that time, that album is about as gangster as it gets. I guess you grow up quick in QB.

3 opmerkingen:

hl zei

Great post. Never heard alot of these demos.

scjoha zei

Props, that's a dope ass post, and a damn huge one! I know most of these songs, but it's good to have them all at one spot.
I agree that the Nas demo is not the actual demo that got him signed in '92. It's a collection of demo versions of songs that were recorded for Illmatic, after he got signed. The actual demo that he shopped around, and which was produced by Large Pro, never surfaced - to my knowldege. Really would love to hear that.
Another thing: the Mediafire link for the Biggie collection is kinda fucked up. I tried downloading five times, but every time it reaches 50 MB (or less), it stops. Could you reup on Megaupload or Rapidshare, please? Would love to hear that.

Dj Randy zei

Cool post thx a lot, I've started making beats and using this drum pack
what is ur opinion about it?