Like we do at this time, we’re here with the announcement of the next three Records of the Month for VMP Hip-Hop. If you sign up now, you’ll receive all three of these albums as your next three Records of the Month.
In January, VMP Hip-Hop will reissue Killer Mike’s critically acclaimed 2012 album R.A.P. Music (the “R.A.P.” stands for Rebellious African Peoples). It stands as one of the most revered pieces in Mike’s catalog, and marks his first collaborative effort with El-P as producer. What started as a connection through the legendary Williams Street ended up paving the foundation for a decade of rap that would change both their lives forever. When the Dungeon Family somehow met Def Jux, the world shook.
“Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music is one of the best albums of 2012,” says VMP Editorial Director & Classics A&R Andrew Winistorfer. “But further than that, it's the story of a late-in-life career breakthrough: the sound of a guy with nothing left to lose, thinking of leaving it all behind, leaving it all on the wax. Everything that happened for Killer Mike with Run the Jewels started its wheels in motion on R.A.P Music.”
R.A.P. Music will come on an exclusive 2-LP Big Beast Splatter Vinyl. To celebrate, we’ve released a special two-hour Good Convo episode with Killer Mike detailing the album’s creation, his career journey, flashes of his family history, and a spirited debate on the politics of the day. For Good Convo host and VMP Senior Writer Michael Penn II, it’s an unprecedented opportunity for deeper access into the mind of Mike in a way we haven’t heard before.
“Me and Mike weren’t strangers before this moment... I rapped before one of his lectures in Madison, and we argued at the pre-talk!” Penn recalls. “He graced us with this interview at such a critical moment in time, and I felt I’d be doing him — and the people at-large — a grave disservice if I stuck to the script and only asked him about R.A.P. Music. We disagree on plenty — you’ll hear it! — but I have the utmost respect for him indulging two hours of my inquiries from his kitchen table, glowing or otherwise. Nothing was off limits, and he kept digging deep with me. No matter where you stand on where he stands, there’s plenty to take from his experiences; I know good and goddamn well I did. I’ve never been more exhausted after an interview!”
In February, for the first time ever, the entirety of Quasimoto's 2005 sophomore album The Further Adventures of Lord Quas will be available on vinyl. It comes on an exclusive 2-LP Day Breaking / Night Falling vinyl, complete with exclusive alternate art and a gatefold jacket. Further Adventures arrived five years after the first installment, further expanding the Quasimoto world as a whirlwind of good highs, weird thrills, and an unpredictable collage of loops and samples. This album’s persevered as a cult favorite, showcasing Madlib’s deep penchant for impulsive ingenuity. When Otis’ crates match his mind, anything can happen and it’ll never be what you expected.
“We've partnered with Madlib a lot over the years, and he's one of our favorites to work with,” says Winistorfer. “He's an artist who reveres diving deep into the annals of music history as much as we do, who values the form of vinyl records as much as we do. We did an exclusive of Quasimoto's first album as one of our first ever store-exclusive pressings, so it felt appropriate to run it back for the second Quasimoto album, a knotty, difficult, sprawling, fun thrill ride through Madlib's mind.”
For Penn, it’s a familiar-yet-odd prospect, given the vantage point. “I don’t even smoke, so I’m not finna act like it clicked for me off top, ” says Penn. “But that’s definitely part of the Madlib allure, and that’s what drew me to shit like Madvillainy back when I was a teenager. So Lord Quas is like observing another take at Madlib trying to organize his brain, and I’m in danger of snapping my vertebrae every time he finds something incredible. Even when he finds something weird, I’m intrigued; he’s like a good director that I trust to transport me somewhere, and take me through a fucked up experience without holding my hand. But I trust him, and we might see some beautiful shit somewhere in the madness.”
And in March, we’re doing the first vinyl reissue of Eyedea & Abilities’ debut album First Born, pressed on an exclusive 2-LP Maroon and Silver Vinyl. Regarded as one of the most anticipated underground rap duos in history, the first drop from the late Michael Larsen and Gregory Keltgen struck an electrifying chord when killer instinct met killer intellect. It’s a work of pure sportsmanship for the craft, and a series of tangents deep into the unknown the way only Eyedea could commandeer. For Winistorfer, this release serves as VMP’s chance to further uplift the first chapter of a stellar legacy that changed rap forever.
“Eyedea & Abilities' First Born is one of the best underground rap albums ever made, and it's a title that's often come up in discussions of rap albums that are out of print that we should feature,” says Winistorfer. “Getting to debut this 20th anniversary edition is a huge honor for us, since it honors Eyedea's memory, and puts his album in the hands of a new generation of rap fans that might have missed it the first time around. Albums like this are the very reason VMP was started: to give light to albums that deserve the attention to be in every record collection.”
Penn remembers First Born, and Eyedea in totality, as a beacon of light in the world’s swirling darkness. “I was very late to the E&A wave, I came in at By the Throat,” Penn remembers. “So, I dove into First Born right after I heard Eyedea passed, and instantly felt like I missed so much of the picture. Then, I was pissed I never got to see him play! To hear something so dense and enriching and rewarding at the tender age of 16? Shit changed the way I envisioned the potential for what rap music could be and do for others, the same way all of Eyede’s work did for me. R.I.P. that man, and word to Abilities, true legends.”