No topic comes without its quibblers, particularly when it comes to labeling anyone being the indisputable best at any given task, within any given genre. And you know how folks get when it comes to arguing over something like hip hop. That being said, take a poll around any smokey after-hours, nightclub or house party and ask who is the best emcee ever to hit the microphone, in all time, ever, and the answers will be far-flung. Rakim. Biggie. Pac. You’ll probably get some Meths thrown in, Eminems and Jay-Z’s. There’s no fixed answer. But one thing can be said, you can be damned sure someone in that room is going to mention Nas, and he will hear very little dissension. And one thing Nas has above many of the above is longevity. Sure, the man has had many forgettable raps — but even today, there’s always a chance, whenever he steps in the studio, that you might get another “One Mic” or “Made Ya Look”. Bookend that with his landmark verse on Main Source’s “Live At the Barbecue”, and you have nearly a quarter century of dominance.

But without question, Nas’ greatest contribution to the musical landscape was his debut, Illmatic. Which, undoubtedly you’ve heard ad nauseum this week, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Almost 20 years ago to the day, April 19, 1994, the man known as Nasir Jones stamped his name on the musical map in black ink.

So as the interwebs have been going all nutty in celebrating said fact, and Nas has been making the rounds like Liam Neeson promoting a Taken sequel, we decided to collect some of the best recent Illmatic-related posts and put them all together — so all y’all can enjoy about 47 hours of Nas-inspired lyricism. First comes Fuse TV‘s 5-part documentary Time Is Illmatic highlighting the hard work and high art that went into and came out of the record. Interviews include the Queensbridge rapper himself, as well as dudes like DJ Premier, Large Professor and Pete Rock who speak fondly on camera of their involvement with the album. All as instrumental (pun intended) on the success of Illmatic as Nas himself, so it’s good to hear from the legendary producers. Others include Miss Info, Irv Gotti and Nas’ kid brother Jungle. The Time Is Illmatic documentary just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, shown to an audience that included the likes of Raekwon and Robert Dinero, the latter of whom commenting that it has now been 20 years since he was 20 years too old to listen to hip hop. Look out for screenings soon.

After comes his monumental set at Coachella this past weekend, which was without a doubt one of the highlights of the entire festival — and in our humble opinion, one of the best hip-hop performances in the entire history of the music festival (coming in second to only that Tupac-hologram extravaganza that Dr. Dre dropped on attendees two years back). Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard that his once-bitter rival Jay-Z even dropped in to spit some tracks. We were there, as we were at his pool party celebrating Illmatic at the Ingleside Inn, where we took the photo above of God’s Son puffing away in celebration.

Last comes  a series of remixes of three of Illmatic’s biggest tracks — “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”, “The World Is Yours” and “One Love” — by the Shaolin Orchestra, just because. The tracks are remixed from Illmatic’s 20-year anniversary album, titled Illmatic XX, which features the entire album remastered plus a gang of other unreleased tracks. If you’re interested, Illmatic XX can be bought (and streamed) here on iTunes. OK, enough talk — press play on the various videos below to reminisce on a landmark of hip-hop…

ATTENTION: please excuse the sizing issues we’re having with the players below. Like a teenage Nas, you just never know if, and how, they’re gonna show up.

Watch FUSE’s three-part series on Illmatic at 20 documentary, the Full Coachella set + the Shaolin Orchestra remixes below…

 

 


NAS – (ft Jay-Z & Puff Daddy) Live At Coachella… by UnderProject


After Harley-Davidson bought his Buell brand and then dissolved it, many wondered what American motorcycle icon and engineer Erik Buell would do. Well, as any great visionary would do, Buell hunkered back into his Wisconsin lab to do what he does best: design world class two-wheelers. The result? Erik Buell Racing‘s EBR 1190RX, a more street-applicable version of their 1190RS Super Bike. As can be expected the EBR 1190RX not only looks the part, with thoroughly modern faring that rivals that of the Italians, but blood and guts components that threaten both the Europeans and Japanese at their world domination. Weighing only 419 pounds, the EBR 1190RX boasts a Pirelli-shredding 185 horsepower, 102 lb-ft torque, aluminum frame and swingarm, hydraulic clutch and Showa suspension, making it the first true high-performance American production sport bike. Not only does it boast the highest torque available on a street-legal production bike, but its price tag of $19,000 means its attainable for most petrol-headed motorcycle enthusiasts. Completely built in America, the EBR 1190RX should be hitting showrooms right about now. Find your dealer here.

More looks at the EBR 1190RX Sportbike after the Jump…

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It’s not that any eardrum dilettante or amateur musicologist out there doesn’t want analog sound. But a digital file is a lot easier to handle than lugging around some big-ass tube amp octupussing its cables all over the place like trip rope. The folks at Tubecore, however, seem to have finally figured out the best of both worlds. Convenience with chest-massaging bass. So here’s the deal with their Duo amp, the first Bluetooth-powered tube speaker: four inputs with one control, and an on-board customizable computer with 24-bit DAC — which means you can stream basically anything, uncompressed, so you can do your best “Dark Horse” imitation in the comfort of your own closet. The finishing touch: the magnetic speaker is available in 27 different colors. Presently available at lowered price for $479


Jason Freeny, the man behind Moist Production, is a sculptor, designer, illustrator and mangler of all that is cuteness, and he has been seen around these parts before. With a professional history that made a brief pit stop in toy design years ago, it is no wonder that the subjects of his work are often directly inspired by playthings. Fueled by a love of anatomy, he has become known for his toy dissections, those most often being sculptures where the likes of Hello Kitty, LEGO figurines or Goldfish crackers are stuffed with biologically reminiscent bodily systems in lieu of plush fillings, magical rainbows or whatever crap we formerly thought kept toys “alive.”  He has called the approach to his art “reverse forensics” where “the shape of the character dictates the shape of the organs.” While there is indeed an element of the grotesque associated with cramming cartoon spleens into Super Mario, he never completely strays from the precious — the guts of his pieces almost clinically maintaining their toy-trueness in that their insides are representative of their outsides. Freeny’s art, however, is not just sculptures from science class in Candyland, as his work spans design and illustrations too. He is by no means limited to anatomical studies, though his style is definitely most often indicative of the more adorable renderings of blood, guts and yuck.

When asked about his plans for future projects, Freeny mentioned the intention of introducing his own characters, and that while he would continue to be inspired by his trademark elements of anatomy, he plans to expand upon the quarter-cut biological toy-studies for which he is presently known.

Check out several galleries of Jason Freeny’s work below…

 


Back by popular demand comes one more season of The Boondocks. The fourth and final season of the comic-strip-gone-sitcom promises plenty more of viewers’ two favorite traits: humor and controversy. The first episode is set to air this Monday, April 21 at 10:30, and while originator Aaron McGruder has left the show to concentrate on other endeavors — like his newer project, Black Jesus — as long as Uncle Ruckus is around to stir things up into his flask, the show has every reason to go on. The Boondocks has always centered around a heavily hip-hop aesthetic, so it makes sense the show would find new ways to coalign with whatever is hot in the genre nowadays. And hence comes the DJ Drama-produced new The Boondocks mixtape just in time to rhyme along to before the show’s premiere this Monday. The 17-track mix features a slew of artists including Troy Ave, Problem, Reese, Childish Major and Smoke DZA, as well as The Alchemist & Killer Mike dropping the show’s theme song, “The Boonies”. Enjoy…

Stream “The Boondocks” Mixtape below, and get a full track listing after the Jump…

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In its limitless quest to license every cartoon known to mankind, LEGO has now built the home of everybody’s favorite dysfunctional jaundiced family, the Simpsons. And this set of 2,523 LEGO bricks shows a pretty comprehensive study of their Springfield home, its familiar amenities including the (dented) pink car, Maggie’s crib, the family living room (right down to Itchy and Scratchy playing on the tube), Bart’s bedroom complete with Krusty poster and skateboard, the purple piano, Lisa’s room with its books and jazz poster, and basically any detail that our collective memory of America’s premier cartoon home can muster. Aside from all the expected rooms in the house, and many smaller touches such as Lisa’s backpack and camera, the backyard also holds up on its details, being the location for Bart’s skateboard ramp and the BBQ grill with sausages included — Woohoo! The house comes with six figures — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and even Ned Flanders, too — and even includes the detachable roof and garage (with workbench). The Simpsons x LEGO house builds to measure 9″ x 16″ x 9″; it’ll cost you  $200 to get your one way ticket to Springfield.

Grab a Duff’s and check out the many details of the LEGO Springfield house below…


Taking design cues from the famed 1929 Majestic motorcycle, Austrian engineer Johann Hammerschin’s eyebrow-raising Johammer J1 Electric Motorcycle is one of the more unique two-wheelers in the game. Like early motorcycle entrepreneur Georges Ray’s obscure Majestic, the Hammerschin’s Johammer J1 has a fishlike profile with copious side farings. It also shares hub-center steering on the front wheel, another Majestic peculiarity. But Hammerschin updates his 21st century motorcycle by ditching the internal combustion engine in favor of an eco-minded 11kW (14 horsepower) electric motor integrated into the rear wheel. The e-bike stuffs the battery packs deep into the aluminium chassis in order to lower the center of gravity as much as possible — a big improvement on handling. With its whisper quiet zero-emission drivetrain, regenerative braking system, multi-function side mirrors, 124 mph range and 75 mph (120 km/h) top speed, the Johammer J1 is a fine signifier of how far we’ve come since Monsieur Ray was tooling around in his French garage eating baguettes and throwing shit. The Johammer J1 comes with two available Lithium-ion battery packs — 8.3 kWh (called the J1.150) and the 12.7 kWh (called the J1.200). The J1.150 takes 2.5 hours to charge and will cost you $31,500, while the  J1.200 takes 3.5 hours to fully charge and will run you $34,500.

More looks at the Johammer J1 & original Majestic motorcycles after the Jump…

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17 Apr
Also available in naturally aspirated & hybrid powertrains

The leader in hybrid luxury, Lexus now crosses the bridge from luxury full-size vehicles to the compact segment. Their new family of compact SUVs (or CUVs in modern parlance), dubbed the NX, will be available with three power trains: the NX 200t turbo, the naturally aspirated NX 200 (with front or all-weather drive) and the highly efficient NX 300h hybrid. Among the NX family are many firsts for the Lexus brand, including the NX 200t which will be the first turbocharged Lexus ever. Other features include a Lexus-first door handle with a hidden key barrel and integrated lighting, boldly flared wheel arches with standard 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels, Lexus’ signature ‘L’ shape combination lamps with seamless LED lighting, Wireless Charging Tray (another Lexus first), remote touch pad, Human Machine Interface (HMI) technology, Heads-Up Display, All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Although these early pics have leaked, the NX family will be officially revealed at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition this Sunday, April 20.

The turbocharged Lexus NX  200t CUV below…

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