By the time Jigmastas were formed in 1991, hip hop had come a long way from the genre was born in the Bronx in the late sixties. Its founding fathers were groups of African American and Latin American youths. This includes the Ghetto Brothers. They plugged the amplifiers for their instruments into the lampposts on 163rd Street and Prospect Avenue. Soon, music was being cranked out of their speakers. However, this was no ordinary music.

The music the Ghetto Brothers played was credited with breaking down racial barriers. It also had a social conscience. The Ghetto Brothers were involved with Puerto Rican independence, and the nascent Puerto Rican Socialist Party. Like future hip hoppers, they were determined to make a difference, and used their music to do so. Despite the importance of the music the Ghetto Brothers played, they only released one album Ghetto Brothers-Power-Fuerza in 1971. It’s become part of musical history. So have DJ Kool Herc’s block parties.

They took place at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. At these parties, DJ Kool Herc sampled parts of records, looped breaks and added his imitable “shouts.” This was the equivalent to Jamaican DJs toasting. Nobody had ever done this before. It was a first. Modern hip hop was born, and DJ Kool Herc was its founding father. However, it was Afrika Bambaataa, who was  of the Zulu Nation collective that identified the four key elements of hip hop.

Afrika Bambaataa believed DJing, MCing, B-boying and graffiti art were the four key elements of hip hop. It was only then, that many onlookers realised that there was more to hip hop that spinning records. 

That was the DJs role. MCing or rapping saw the MC rap or chant rhyming lyrics. B-boying was the breakdancing that accompanied the music. Graffiti art was either writing or drawing that were illegally painted on a public place. This was the art of hip hop. Having identified the key components of hip hop and gone onto become one of the progenitors of breakbeat DJing, Afrika Bambaataa was about to join hip hop’s nascent hall of fame. 

During the eighties, Afrika Bambaataa took to spreading the hip hop message worldwide. By then, a new generation of hip hop artists were making a breakthrough. Fab Five Freddy starting hosting parties in New York in 1981. The same year, RUN D.M.C. were founded. The released their eponymous debut album in 1984. Run–D.M.C. was released to critical acclaim and commercial success. Then in 1985, his LL Cool J his Radio album, Just like Run–D.M.C., it’s considered one of the most influential hip hop albums of the eighties. That’s the case with Run–D.M.C’s Raising Hell and the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill, which sold over ten million copies. Hip hop was no longer the music of the streets. It was big business,

Rick Rubin realised this early on, and founded the Def Jam label in 1983. That was a shrewd piece of business. His label would release some of the biggest and most influential hip hop albums of the eighties.

While Eric B. and Rakim’s Paid in Full was released in 1987, on one of Def Jam’s competitors, 1988 proved to be a good year for Rick Rubin’s label. Def Jam released Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Public Enemy’s seminal album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Full of social comment, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back sold a million copies in America alone. The album is now considered a hip hop classic. So would an album released by in another of Def Jam’s competitors.

Tommy Boy were another of hip hop’s biggest labels. It had been founded by Tom Silverman in 1981. In 1989, Tommy Boy released De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising. Not only did it reach number one on the US R&B charts, but was hailed a classic. Another of Tommy Boy’s releases was Queen Latifah’s All Hail the Queen. This landmark released was certified gold in 1990. 

That year, Public Enemy returned with another album bristing with outrage and social comment, Fear Of A Black Planet. Again, this Def Jam release was certified platinum. Another  groundbreaking albums was A Tribe Called Quest’s People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. Given the success of hip hop during the eighties, hip hop was suddenly seen as a career choice.

As a new decade continued, 1991 proved a vintage year for hip hop. Albums like A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, Cypress Hill’s double platinum eponymous debut album and De La Soul’s De La Soul Is Dead were among the highlights of the hip hop released 1991. They were also among the biggest selling hip hop albums of 1991. However, 1991, was also the year a new production duo was founded. Jigmastas. 

DJ Spinna and Kriminul met, and founded Jigmastas in Brooklyn, This was the beginning of a long partnership for the DJ, producer-emcee combo. Their recording career began in 1995, when Jigmastas featured on Rude Rydims’ single Everybody Bounce, However, it wasn’t until 1996 that Jigmastas career began in earnest. 

It’s documented on Jigmastas’ Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition which will be released by BBE Music on 18th September 2015. This twenty-one track compilation documents part of Jigmastas’ twenty year recording career. Most of the tracks on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition are singles and non album tracks. They’re part of the Jigmastas story, which began in 1995.

Back in 1995, Jigmastas were making waves. A&R executives were constantly searching for hip hop’s next big thing. Some A&R executives thought Jigmastas were the future of hip hop. Especially, after they featured on Rude Rydims’ single underground hit Everybody Bounce. This brought  Jigmastas to the attention of major labels. They knew hip hop was big money. That’s despite the change in hip hop. By 1995, the music had a much tougher edge.

That had been the case since the mid-eighties, when gangsta rap came to prominence. Many thought this glorification of the “thug” lifestyle would be a passing fad. It wasn’t. In 1992, Ice-T released one of the most controversial rap songs, Cop Killer. This caused outrage amongst the moral majority. The same year, 1992, Ice Cube released The Chronic. 

It proved an equally controversial album. Described as G-Funk, it glorified the use of guns, alcohol, and marijuana. According to purveyors of G-Funk, this solved any problem. While three million people bought The Chronic, politicians and the album’s critics weren’t impressed by what was among the most explicit gangsta rap ever released. However, this was just the start.

The Chronic proved that what was explicit gangsta rap could prove commercially successful. After the success of The Chronic, West Coast gangsta rap came to dominate rap, and Death Row Records which released The Chronic, would become one of the most successful hip hop labels.

By then, hip hop  was changing, and looking to its past. There was a resurgence in interest of Mafioso rap, after the release of Raekwon’s debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…in August 1995. Then in October 1995, Nas released Doe or Die. This pseudo Mafioso rap continued the glorification of the criminal lifestyle. To some extent, it was playing out before hip hoppers eyes.

The East Coast-West Coast feud began in 1994. Suddenly, two of hip hop’s biggest names fell victim to the feud. Tupac Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting on September 13th 1996. The was just twenty-five. Less than a year later, twenty-four year old The Notorious B.I.G.died on March 9th 1997. Just like Tupac Shakur, he was the victim of a drive-by shooting. In the space of a year, two of the biggest names in New York hip hop were dead. By then, there was a new name in the New York hip hop block.

That was Jigmastas. Although they had interested major labels, DJ Spinna and Kriminul decided to found their own label, They called this new label Beyond Real Recordings. It had been inspired by a track Jigmastas had just recorded. Jigmastas decided that this would become their debut single Beyond Real. On the flip side, was Dead Man’s Walk. Both tracks feature on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition which will be released by BBE Music. What was Jigmastas gave them a minor underground hit, However, it  was the last single Jigmastas released until 1998.

After two long years, Jigmastas returned with their new single Hip Hop. It was released on their own label Beyond Real Recordings. Hip Hop, which was produced by DJ Spinna features on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. So does a remix of Beyond Mix. However, after the releae of Hip Hop, Jigmastas released a single on one of hip hop’s biggest labels.

Last Will & Testimony was the second single Jigmastas released during 1998. It was released on the Tommy Boy’s Black Label imprint. Jigmastas it seemed, were going up in the world.

Later in 1998, Soul Scream and Jigmastas released an E.P. in Japan. Soul Scream’s contribute was Vibe, while Jigmastas released the original and instrumental version of All Day. For Jigmastas, that was the story of 1998. 1999 would prove just productive.

During 1999, Jigmastas released another three singles. This included an E.P, with Defari. They both contributed three tracks. Jigmastas’ contribution was three versions of Let Me Hear It. Along with three version of Defari’s Blast, they were released on Tommy Boy’s Black Label imprint. After that, Jigmastas returned home to Beyond Real Recordings.

Chandon was one of two singles Jigmastas released on Beyond Real Recordings. On the flip side was Iz You Dee. Both the original and remix of Iz You Dee join Chandon on The Prologue-Deluxe Edition. So does if, an E.P. which featured Jigmastas  and the then unsigned I.G. Off and Hazadous. Jigmastas contribution If, also features on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. By then, Jigmastas’ music had a much more laid-back, mellow vibe. However, that would change with their next release.

As a new millennia dawned, Jigmastas were planning on releasing an all-star collaboration. This was their Lyrical Fluctuation E.P. Mos Def, Mr Complex, Pharoahe Monch, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Talib Kweli all featured on the Lyrical Fluctuation E.P. Two tracks. from the Lyrical Fluctuation E.P.,the Original Mix and 2000 Spinna Mix feature on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. Both tracks have a much tougher sound than Chandon and Iz You Dee. It seemed Jigmastas’ sound was constantly evolving.

That became apparent when Jigmastas released a compilation album Grass Roots “Lyrical Fluctuation” in 2000. Over ten tracks Jigmastas showcase their musical prowess. That’s the case from Intro through Across The Globe. It features twice on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. The other version on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition is the Joc Max remix, From Across The Globe, Jigmastas Keep On Rockin before dropping the Joc Max produced Matrimony. Jigmastas aren’t finished yet. 

Awareness, Thief’s Theme and Outro conitune to showcase the skills and versatility of Jigmastas. Each of these tracks feature on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. So does the remix of Iz Dee and the Original Mix and 2000 Spinna Mix of Lyrical Fluctuation. Essentially, the entire Grass Roots “Lyrical Fluctuation” album features on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. It was released in 2000, which had been Jigmastas’ busiest, and most productive year.

2001 proved just as busy for Jigmastas. They released two singles and album. Their Infectious album was their debut album. It was released to critical acclaim and spawned two singles, Till The Day and Don’t Get Twisted. Both the Infectious album and the two singles were released on Jigmastas label Beyond Real Recordings, Just like Jigmastas, Beyond Real Recordings it seemed, was going from strength to strength.

2003 saw things slow down for Jigmastas. They released On The Strength on the Las Vegas label HipHopSite.com Recordings. That was the last we heard of Jigmastas until recently.

After releasing their debut album in 2001, Jigmastas released So What as a single in 2002. It was released on Beyond Real Recordings, and features on Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition.

On 14th August 2015, Jigmastas dropped a new single Magnetize. It was released on Beyond Real Recordings, just in time for the release of Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. It’ll be released by BBE Music on 18th September 2015, and features twenty-one tracks from Jigmastas.

This includes Comments To The Sure Shot, which featured on the 1998 mix compilation Hip Hop Independents Day Volume 1. It makes a welcome reappearance on The Prologue-Deluxe Edition. So does Semi-Precious which in 1999, was one of three tracks Jigmastas contributed to The Beyond Real Experience compilation. These tracks complete the story of the Jigmastas compilation Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition,

For anyone interested in hip hop, Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition is the perfect introduction to Jigmastas. They celebrated twenty-five years together in 2016. That’s quite a feat in the world of hip hop. Especially hip hop in the mid to late nineties. However, Jigmastas were only interested in making music.

And music they made. Between 1995 and 2003, Jigmastas were at their most productive combining Moog synth riffs, sliced and diced samples and Krim’s gravelly vocals. The result is some of the most important underground hip hop to come out New York during the nineties and noughties. It features on the forthcoming Jigmastas compilation Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition. It’ll be released on BBE Music on 18th September 2015. Grassroots The Prologue Deluxe Edition features twenty-one slices of Hip Hop Jigmastas style.




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