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Marvel collector's editions albums out 7 December 2018

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Album release: Universal and Marvel Comics collector's edition hip-hop vinyl reissues
Release date: 7 December 2018
Label: UMe
More info: Urban Legends website

  • Featuring GZA, LL Cool J and 50 Cent.

Deluxe collector’s editions (limited to 3000 copies) include double colour vinyl with 3D lenticular print of Marvel’s variant cover artwork, along with a copy of the limited-edition corresponding Marvel comic book that ties in with the artwork.

Urban Legends, the urban catalogue platform of Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), and Marvel Comics are collaborating to bring together the mighty, epic worlds of comics and hip-hop with an ongoing exclusive album series that will feature variant covers for select collector’s editions of some of the record label’s most legendary hip-hop releases. The first releases in this joint series, out December 7, are Iron Man standing behind cracked glass for 50 Cent’s incendiary 2003 debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’; the Punisher replicating LL Cool J’s famous stance on the cover of his 1990 album Mama Said Knock You Out; and Iron Man duelling Maestro, mirroring the cover of GZA’s second studio album, Liquid Swords.

Marvel Comics originally debuted these album art-inspired images as comic book variants for many of their top comic titles in 2015, reinterpreted by a number of fan-favourite comic book artists. Now Marvel’s highly successful variant comic book cover series will be combined with UMe’s vast catalogue that includes the most revered and influential albums in hip-hop history.

In making this announcement, Bruce Resnikoff, President/CEO, UMe, said, “Marvel comics have always occupied a special place in the hearts of hip-hop fans – both media continue to serve as source of expression, escapism and inspiration for generations of super fans around the world.”

Andre Torres, Vice-President, Urban Catalogue and Head of Urban Legends, adds: “There is an undeniable heroism that consistently runs through the veins of both art forms and I’m excited to help weave these iconic narratives together in a way that celebrates their art and introduces new fans to their genius.”

Daniel Fink, Executive Director, Business Development at Marvel, said, “Marvel’s hip-hop variant covers celebrated the music industry in a whole new way, combining the creativity of original album art and the Marvel Universe to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art. We’re excited to collaborate with UMe to bring these variants back for fans of these iconic albums.”

Each album release will boast a pair of collectable options, the first one being a double colour vinyl Variant Cover Collector’s Edition that replaces the album’s original image with Marvel’s variant hip-hop cover art.

Second, a Deluxe Variant Cover Collector’s Edition will sport the featured album itself housed in a gate-fold LP with the variant cover printed directly on the front. The deluxe collector’s edition will include double colour vinyl, along with a copy of the limited-edition corresponding Marvel comic book that ties in with the artwork. The deluxe version will also include a 3D lenticular print of Marvel’s variant cover artwork. Each initial Collector’s Edition will be capped at 3,000 units.

UMe plans to release hip-hop variant albums each quarter, distributing them to traditional record stores and retail channels, as well as directly to consumers. The initial limited-edition runs will be capped at 5,000 units each.

Pre-order the first three titles:

  • 50 Cent Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ here

  • LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out here

  • GZA Liquid Swords here

Released in 2003 by Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 50 Cent’s debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, was the year’s bestselling album worldwide. It stormed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with more than 872,000 copies sold during its first week of release. Featuring the acclaimed No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 singles "In da Club" and "21 Questions,” and the Top 5 "P.I.M.P.," the album is six-times platinum-certified by the RIAA. The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn and coloured by Brian Stelfreeze for Invincible Iron Man #1 in 2015.

LL Cool J’s fourth studio album, Mama Said Knock You Out, drew praise from critics worldwide, lauding the album’s hard-hitting, soulful jams. Released in 1990 by Def Jam, the multi-platinum album’s chart-topping and GRAMMY®-winning title track is an iconic hip-hop staple. The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn and coloured by Tim Bradstreet for Punisher #1 in 2016.

Released in 1995 by Geffen, GZA’s second solo studio album, Liquid Swords, peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The platinum-certified album is critically acclaimed, recognised as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time and as a particularly strong solo release by a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The exclusive hip-hop variant cover inspired by this album was originally drawn by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz and coloured by Chris Sotomayor for Contest of Champions #1 in 2015.

About Urban Legends/Universal Music Enterprises (UMe)

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) is the centralised U.S. catalogue and special markets entity for UMG. Working in concert with all the company’s record labels, UMe provides a front-line approach to catalogue management, a concentration of resources, opportunities in new technologies, and an emphasis on strategic marketing initiatives to engage all types of consumers across multiple entry points and platforms.

Urban Legends is a multi-platform website that honours the past 30 years of Universal Music Group's (UMG) urban catalogue. The label imprint and platform, which came to fruition in late 2017, celebrates the artists and music at the heart and soul of hip-hop, with commentary by noted music writers and the artists themselves.

Nobody forgets the album that changed their life—that one song that defined the moment. Urban Legends remembers and re-imagines what it means to be a fan, helping music lovers fall in love with their favourites all over again. We celebrate our icons, our culture, our style, our legacy, our music—and why it matters.

About Marvel Comics

Marvel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years. Marvel utilises its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit here.

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"Life Well Lived" - the new album from :Brownstudy

Album release: Life Well Lived by :Brownstudy
Release date: 10 March 2014
Label: Third Ear Recordings

"From the often indistinct morass of modern hip-hop comes something so singular as to merit special attention ... His beats are fresh and different, but it is his Rap stylings, a vehicle for social comment and heart-felt self examination, that mark him out as special and worthy of attention." - The Guardian

"A most soulfully cerebral volume of no-pose wisdom. Musically :Brownstudy evokes the clammy, distressed soul of Sly Stone's 'Riot', and the lush visions of 4 Hero." - Mojo

"Electronic beats, the darker influences of jazz and abstract hip-hop lyricism.. sounds like a meeting between George Clinton and Madlib somewhere in the outer stratosphere. Definitely a good thing.’ - DMC World

:Brownstudy, real name: Jason Hogans, comes with an adventurous style and musicality that has caught the attention of DJs and tastemakers worldwide.

Hogans’ first impacted through Detroit’s electronic music scene, impressively debuting on Carl Craig's Planet E in ’98 with an EP called Peter And The Rooster. But his most enticing identity came after his experimentations with folk, cut & paste, minimal, punk, ambient, glitch, soul, reggae/dub, jazz, hip hop and prog-whatever. Debut album Tell Me More About Bubbles in 2005 under the new moniker :Brownstudy came out on Third Ear Recordings. Jason returns to Third Ear for this next LP, Life Well Lived, with 11 tracks that further showcase his polyrhythmic and experimental sound.

:Brownstudy (don't ignore the :colon) covers all styles in trying to convey what he wants to say. "I've been doing music in some way since elementary school” says Hogans. “Violin, trumpet, piano/keys, electronics, percussion, vocals, etc. Some formal training (classical theory, jazz theory, jazz improv, sight singing/ear training, creative writing), but ultimately relying on my ear & heart.”

The record features some truly nonsecular sounds, steeped in impressive analog blends. His masterful and quirky thesis in beat programming particularly notarises instrumental tracks such as ‘Wax Suckas (Decline)’, ‘Dead Doldrums’ and ‘Red Dreaded Stepchild’, in a way that the most seasoned beatmakers like Cut Chemist, Mr Scruff and Luke Vibert can beguile. With an extra smattering of Herbie Hancock-esque progression, charm and soul, it all adds up to an impossibly endearing album. An album with a social conscience at its heart, but never veering into soapbox lecturing.

Never one to avoid an issue or confront a taboo Hogans has carved an album that puts him at the forefront of rappers with real lyrical ambition. Yes, his beats and grooves are original, and his sounds are unusual, but ultimately it’s his words and his delivery that marks :Brownstudy out. He spouts potently intelligent and honourable lyrics in tracks like the title ‘Life Well Lived’, and ‘Towards Improvement’ where the lyrics are further maintained by a bed of indolent vocal loops. For more impact, a sprinkling menace is called upon in his words, but staying true to his playful character it works to display his facetious and cheeky streak perfectly. Tracks like ‘Bitchslappin’ Motherfuckas To Hell’ and ‘Glorious Future’ are where the record really harks to the warmly mischievous traits of hip-hop, just like A Tribe Called Quest, Run DMC and De La Soul. But nobody tells it how it is and how it should be quite like :Brownstudy.

"I'm spanking protocol" he says. “I still act like an 18-year-old and pass it off as eccentricity,” coos Jason. “I’m proud of that. Life’s too short to posture like you’re dignified. Nobody’s anything but carbon, water and a set of circumstances.”

Eloquent and self deprecating, shot through with insight and humour. Charismatic and critical. And self critical. There isn’t much to dislike about :Brownstudy and Jason Hogans, and he is clearly onto something in the pursuit to lead a Life Well Lived.

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Public Enemy: 25th Anniversary Vinyl Collection released

Vinyl collection release: Public Enemy, 25th Anniversary Collection
Release date: 15 April 2013

Public Enemy are one of the most influential, controversial and radical hip hop groups of all time. True pioneers, the band revolutionised hardcore rap in the late 80’s with a trailblazing blend of political themes and innovative music production. 

As lead MC Chuck D tackled all kinds of social issues in his rhymes, particularly in the black community, the group brought an intoxicating musical mix with comic ‘hype man’ Flava Flav and the epic unrelenting cut-and-paste beats of their production team, the Bomb Squad. With a militant outlook and lyrical content condoning revolutionary action and social activism, Public Enemy initially gathered much controversy but soon won widespread acclaim to be regarded as the most influential band of their time. 

The Public Enemy 25th Anniversary Vinyl Collection celebrates a landmark 25 years since the band’s first release, bringing together the complete original Def Jam studio album catalogue on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl, in a limited edition box set.

Including iconic hip-hop anthems such as Public Enemy No 1, Bring The Noise, Fight The Power, Welcome To The Terrordome, 911 Is a Joke and He Got Game, the set features the albums Yo! Bum Rush The Show (1987), It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (1988), Fear Of A Black Planet (1990), Apocalypse 91…  The Enemy Strikes Black (1991), Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (1994) and He Got Game (1998);

Public Enemy remain true hip hop legends, marking their landmark 25-year career achievement with a nomination to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

Key features of set

  • 12” LP vinyl box set combining the complete set of original Def Jam studio albums
  • Released to mark the band’s 25th Anniversary
  • Features 6 original albums, on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl

Format / info

  • Vinyl Box Set **LIMITED EDITION / INITIAL ORDER ONLY** – 9x12” LP
  • Catalogue number - UPC: 0600753408780
  • Label: IDJ
  • Rights: Worldwide excluding US & Canada

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Chantal Claret (ex-Morningwood) releases debut album

Album release: The One, The Only… by Chantal Claret
Release date: 25 March 2013
Label: The End Records
Listenon official website 

Singer/songwriter Chantal Claret unveils an exciting new direction, blending big 60s beats with a contemporary hip hop embellishment, for her new solo debut album The One, The Only… out in the UK this March.

Fans around the world know the little lady with the big voice for her time fronting acclaimed rock band Morningwood, whose “catchier than Chlamydia hooks” (as described by Rolling Stone), led to sold-out tours around the world, countless film and television appearances and a No. 1 debut on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

Written and co-produced by Chantal, new album The One, The Only... puts a modern twist on early femme-pop, getting inspiration from the clubs she used to sneak into underage. She’s created an album harking to the upbeat gems of the 60’s and 70’s – the sultry swing of Nancy Sinatra teamed with the rock n roll sass of April March, complete with backing singers and saxophone flourishes.

Avoiding being merely a vintage throw back, Chantal employs fat and modern hip hop flairs to revitalize the 60s beats Outkast style. Enlisting the likes of friend and songwriter Rob Kleiner (David Guetta, Cee-Lo), producer Mher Filian, Pigeon John and mixer Mark "Exit" Goodchild (Erykah Badu, Outkast, LMFAO, Gnarls Barkley) her soulful and energetic musical vision was fulfilled. Chantal’s development of such genres is a unique and perfect platform to showcase her boundlessly powerful singing style.

Her voice has also been recruited for an upcoming record by Fuktronic - a collaboration between Serj Tankian (from System of a Down) and Jimmy Urine (Mindless Self Indulgence – Chantal’s husband).

"I’m really proud of everything Morningwood did,” she says. “But that was a collaboration of personalities, whereas this record is all me” – and she is the one, the only, Chantal Claret.

Watch the video for ‘Bite Your Tongue’ here.

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