..in the history of NY rap?
Firstly, before Hip Hop Hans pops up in the comment section to argue that he's got a 1-of-1 Illmatic pressing on Kelis's period blood coloured vinyl which has The Understanding on it, let's define "officially unreleased" tracks as songs which only came out on promo/white label/indie 12"s/promo tapes or songs which only ever appeared on the radio or on mixtapes when they first appeared, okay?
So, without even touching all the obvious classics which fall into this category like Year Of The Hip Hop by LL, Break A Bitch Neck by Kool G. Rap & Akinyele, the o.g version of In The World by Akinyele, Deja Vu by Nas, any of those 90s Tragedy tunes which were on RareDave's tape, Sandwiches Part 2 by The Beatnuts, the o.g version of Tempreture Rising by Mobb Deep, Rotten Apple by Royal Flush, Killaz Theme 2 by Cormega ft. Mobb Deep, Get Off Dat Bullshit by Large Pro, and Ghetto Qu'ran by Fiddy, I present you with 10 examples of why Queens does, indeed, have the deepest vault of officially unreleased tracks in the history of NY rap.
Beatnuts - Robbed, Stole
Taken from the Stone Crazy promo cassette in 1997, I'm imagining this one was nixed from the album due to the Chuck D sample/10 Crack Commandments situation earlier that year, and not because Juju and Les were desperate to include Strokes instead.
Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo - Enter The Dragon
DWG are really the only collective putting out rare shit that I'm prepared to give money to; they're not from Norway, they generally put out quality material with nice packaging, and unlike their competitors in the pre-manufactured rare vinyl realm their records are sensibly priced (I'd be fuming if I'd paid £50+ for that Brand Nubian demos EP OLU Records put out only to find all the songs are atrocious quality and the full version of How I'm Livin' isn't even on there). Everyone went cuckoo for the other G. Rap & Polo cut on DWG's Juice Crew EP but I thought it sounded like some weird modern recreation, and not in a good Top Shelf '88 sorta way. The mythical original version of Enter The Dragon, however, which people had talked in hushed, reverential tones (remember Primo telling Marley he stil had a copy of it on tape on Westwood that time?) wins every time.
Nas - Life Is Like A Dice Game
Given all the painstaking re-records for Illmatic it's a wonder those 3 bright-sparks Nas, Serch and Large Pro didn't have the braincells to rub between them to think : "hey, remember that Life Is Like A Dice Game tune we did as a quick demo in 1992? That was pretty damn hot, right? Let's tidy up the end of that 1st verse, add another 2 verses and we've got our perfect summer-single joint which'll get radio play on the west coast and in the south and then we probably won't have to wait another 6 years for Illmatic to sell a million copies, yeah?".
Akinyele - Enter
"Holdin' guns which boom-boom like Mancini". Ak' and Large Professor never made a bad track together, and I weep thug tears that all those non shit The LP-era Large Pro cuts like The Mad Scientist and Ijuswannachill had been Akinyele tunes instead. Wasn't there supposed to be an Akinyele reality show chronicling him opening a stripclub in Manhattan or did I just completely dream that up?
Noreaga - Married To Marijuana
Rumours that The War Report is going to feature a follow-up to this titled Married To The Munchies are currently unconfirmed. Now that we've got the Wow, Nore Really Blimped Up, Eh? joke out of the way let's try and assertain whether this was intended for The War Report or Nore's first solo album. Anyone know?
Blaq Poet - Poet's Comin'
If Poet and Primo hadn't arsed around for, like, 6 years and just released all the best tracks they did together and the odd outside-production like Alchemist's Bloody Mess as a 12-song album in 2007 they could've had an NY street classic a la Y2K on their résumés instead of 3 patchy Blaq Poet cds. The real tragedy here, though, is that none of those 3 cds even featured Poet's Comin', which was the first post-Screwball track Poet and Preem did together in 2003 and still one of his hardest cuts to date.
Cormega ft. Hell Rell - Stuntin' (o.g version)
Plus an uncredited Juelz on the hook. It's unlikely Cormega suffers any sort of sample clearance issues on an indie label, so your guess is as good as mine as to why he switched up the beat for this gem for a vastly inferior version on that Who I Am compilation. 'Mega is great at yer emo-thug rap and yer Nas-baiting rap, but he's also pretty adept at at yer flagrant shittalking-rap too and this is a fine illustration of it. And on the subject of Hell Rell, alongside Mac Dre's Back 'N Da Hood EP, and the Nathaniel interlude on Aquemini, his freestyles on Diplomatic Immunity Volume 1 are pretty much the only successful examples of listenable rapping-over-the-phone-from-the-bing.
Mobb Deep ft. Tragedy Khadafi - First Day Of Spring
From Avirex to Gangstaz Roll, the M.O.B.B's vault of never officially released songs is well worth investigating, but this one kills 2 birds with 1 stone since there isn't enough room here for anything by Tragedy. Oh, and Mobb have them splendid officially unreleased solo gems too, kicko..
Prodigy - Raining Guns And Shanks
Of course, Public Enemy are still keyholders to the house of rap songs which sample The Grunt but Prodigy is now officially in the building concocting a caps lock blog post about how the po-lice have been following him since 1993 because he's the resurrection of Horus and Fritz combined. So, um, why didn't this appear on either Return Of The Mac or NHIC 2 again?
Havoc ft. 50 Cent & Big Noyd - Bump That remix
The original Bump That was proof that Havoc could also ride solo effectively after P's glorious Keep It Thoro, but the song didn't really take flight until the remix with 50 and Noyd, which then essentially became one of Fiddy's mixtape comeback records and a much better song to boot.
(Thanks to Boothe and Step for the 2 audio hook-ups).