May 31, 2011
"Just because you play the role, don't mean you get the part."
Getting this in barely in the nick of time before the month ends, things seem to have been conspiring against me! This episode marks the end of the second complete year of episodes and is an hour on the dot of gems from the 70s right up to last month. Hope you like it!
Just to give you a couple of links I mentioned on the show;
Nougold Podcast (DJ A-Up & Bedos) - monthly podcast of strictly new Hip-Hop, picked by two of Manchester's most discerning heads!
Ice-T : High Rollers
I had this playing in the car the other day on the way to work and decided right there that it should open up this episode! Despite the fact that this was one of the singles from the "Power" album (Ice-T's second) it might not be familiar to everyone simply due to its age - 23 years old now! The sample's from Edwin Starr's "Easin' In" from the "Hell Up In Harlem" soundtrack, and the lyrics are classic Ice-T of the era - describing the glamourous life of the gangster for most of the song before teasingly asking at the end if you really think you want it. The video nicely intercuts the shiny exterior with the harsh reality of real footage, definitely worth a look.
Jeep Beat Collective : Like Dis Dat? (Instrumental)
JBC was just one facet of the man known as Dave The Ruf AKA Rufmouth, a man of respect in the UK Hip-Hop scene. When I was a student I used to buy records from his mail-order shop, as well as my first turntablism videos, and his Radio Zero monthly shows on cassette were a definite influence on me deciding to do a podcast in the form you have now! I'm proud to be able to say that nowadays I can count him as a friend, and a friend who can smash out a serious beat - I'd say without breaking a sweat, but when it comes to hosting a jam he's as energetic as they come!
Naughty By Nature : It's On
Without question one of my favourite Naughty By Nature tracks, coming from the "19 Naughty III" album. The little stabs of horn leaking through that early 90s drum track with the bassline running under it just add the seasoning to a killer Kaygee production on which the MCs can get busy. Love the video too. Naughty By Nature are coming to Manchester fairly soon and if they don't perform this track I'm going to be very disappointed!
D-Flame ft. Camp Lo : Nuh Like Dem Neither
Having been to Munich in the past month, I thought I should try to play something German! I believe D-Flame is from Frankfurt, and he makes the connection across to the Bronx to bring in the incomparable Camp Lo. This was one of the first tracks I found on Spotify, while searching for any Camp Lo I didn't know. The sample-free production might not be to everyone's taste, but to me the heavy low-end boom on the kicks and the insistent keyboard somehow work :o)
Phi-Life Cypher ft. Skit Slam : Rap It Up
As I've probably said before, PLC are one of my favourite UK groups - they just overwhelm mics with a verbal torrent on every track you hear them on.This is taken from their second album "Higher Forces" and along with guest Skit Slam (featured all over the album), they ride DJ Nappa's occasionally Indian-flavoured beat ferociously. These guys are high up on the list of Hip-Hop artists I'd love to see perform live but haven't seen yet!
Bavu Blakes : Play The Role (Bzzz Mix)
I didn't know much about Bavu Blakes so had to do a little research! He's from Texas (Austin, I think) and has one album, "Create & Hustle" which was released in 2003. The original version of this was the closing track on that album, and in short it gives everyone some very simple and useful advice - be yourself! Remix comes from Dallas' Hydroponic Sound System, and it's from their "Choice Cuts Vol. 1" EP that this track comes. Take the lesson, and meditate on it during the next song...
Peshay : Pacific
Gorgeous track, summery and laidback despite the tempo. Peshay is best known as a D&B producer/artist but his "Miles From Home" album from which this is taken shows more range than you might expect. Some reviews see that as a good thing, some as a negative - I'd say have a listen and make your own mind up! This track has been an iPod favourite for me for so long that it's almost a crime I hadn't played it until now :o) Still, mixes well with the Bavu track, no?
Suga Free ft. Porsha Jade : Married To My Cadillac
"Don't be like me." Wise words from the alter ego of Suga Free out of Pomona, California, who by all accounts is a real-life pimp with the prison record to prove it. His occupation tends to reflect itself in his lyrics, and he'll never make Germaine Greer's iPod, but my goodness can he rhyme! He's easily in the top 5 MCs for me when it comes to "rewind moments," in the sense of "he said WHAT?!" and one of those MCs who I will always check for every time he puts something out. He's got 5 good albums out of 6, with one due this year, so we shall see... On this track from the "Smell My Finger" album he takes this smooth beat by a producer called Khrys and weaves what at least starts as a story around his Cadillac pimpmobile in a style only he could pull off. Dope.
Rakim ft. Talib Kweli : Gettin' Up Anthem
One for the graf writers! Don't know too much about this one - got it on a bootleg-looking 12" of under-the-radar Rakim tracks, but I think it's the theme tune from the video game "Getting Up" which came out a few years ago. I've also seen it other places titled as "Subway Surfin'" (which would fit the voice sample in the hook), but no idea who produced it.
De La Soul : The Grind Date
Despite the fact that they didn't turn up to the Manchester gig this month where people were expecting to see them, here's a De La track that I've always liked. In addition, I'm sure it's one I'm sure a lot of people can relate to - the daily struggle of hard work to make a living! Supa Dave West is on production with a beat that sound halfway between celebration and some kind of working cadence - supa indeed.
Tek : All Massive
Ayatollah on the beat, bringing the reggae flavour to this Brooklyn track, with Tek of Smif 'n' Wessun on the mic. I never really listened to the lyrics on this properly before but it's actually much harder than I thought from just hearing it in passing - a proper vicious revenge story! This was on a 12" under Ayatollah's name but later turned up on Tek's "It Is What It Is" album, which is up and down but when it hits - knocks it out of the park.
DJ Quik & Kurupt : The Appeal
Great DJ Quik production on this track from the "BlaQKout" album with Kurupt. I've only played the first half of the track as that's my favourite part, after the hook the beat and theme changes and while it's still good it just doesn't do it for me like the opening half! It's all about the bassline I think, but also Kurupt's voice fits this track perfectly.
Ian Martin : Tell Me If You Still Care
Seems like a left-field selection but coming out of that Quik beat that precedes it it just seemed to go so well I couldn't see putting anything else in this spot! This is a jazz instrumental version of a track by The SOS Band which has been sampled a few times to good effect, with the bass probably being the focal element. I'd not heard of Ian Martin before I heard this track, but apparently he's a name when it comes to jazz bass - I'm sure some of you know his stuff a lot better than I do!
Elzhi : It Ain't Hard To Tell
Big move from Detroit! Any kind of cover or tribute version in Hip-Hop is dodgy ground, but my goodness did Elzhi and Will Sessions smack it with the "Elmatic" LP! They took a very wise approach to making the beats on that project, consciously avoiding adding all sorts of little live band cuteness and freelancing and keeping it focused to allow Elzhi (who you may know from the later incarnations of Slum Village) to come in on the mic with his quality lyrics, influenced a touch by the original but unmistakably his own. Get yourself a copy right now from here. While you're at it, every listener to this podcast should have a copy of Nas' "Illmatic" LP which "Elmatic" is of course based on. Every listener.
The Roots ft. Mos Def : Double Trouble
The main beat on this track is phenomenal, they shouldn't have even switched it up in the hook! Not that I'm an expert, but my neck doesn't lie :o) This is a pick from the "Things Fall Apart" album, which as far as I'm concerned is The Roots' best, closely followed by "Illadelph Halflife." Trust me, pick up those two albums and you will not be sorry. Bonus points if you read the novel "Things Fall Apart" from which the album takes its name. Anyway, as far as this track, Black Thought and Mos Def work their magic over the beat from the band, which incidentally has a nicely-mixed kick drum that can do damage on the right system!
Black Moon : Act Like U Want It
Nice B-Side to the mighty "How Many Emcees," in fact even though that track is a classic, I'm much more likely to be listening to this. Da Beatminerz handle the production as is standard for Black Moon and notably both Buckshot (the don) and 5ft Accelerator are on the vocals - 5ft missed a lot of the recording of the "Enta Da Stage" album itself due to legal problems, but he brings his sneaky aggro style in for the second verse here. Underappreciated track, definitely.
Kool DJ EQ ft Xzibit, Del The Funkee Homosapien & Casual : Three Emcees
I was listening to this tune in the days of downloading RealAudio files (ugh) onto floppy disks at university - and there was me thinking at the time how super-advanced that was! I think I prefer having a proper vinyl of this at last, thanks to the man Mikey Don :o) Three great West coast MCs grace EQ's beat - yes, some of you might only know X from "Pimp My Ride" but you need to go and do your homework!
Eric Lau : Ill Invasion (Left Steppin') (Instrumental)
Detroit-influenced spacey head-nodder but coming out of London! This is the instrumental of the lead track on the "Dudley and Friends" 12" and just bumps along with a nice clean sound and just a hint of off-beatness in the rhythm. Yes, I just sounded like some kind of Hip-Hop wine critic... let me switch gears and say I had the pleasure of meeting Eric a few years ago when he was in Manchester and he's a thoroughly down-to-earth guy as well as talented - fair play to him!
Gil Scott-Heron : Pieces Of A Man
I'm not someone who owns the whole catalogue or anything, but out of all the Gil Scott-Heron tracks I've heard, this is my favourite. The way the world economy is at the moment, there are probably a lot of people who can relate to the lyrics at least in part. Haunting and powerful, it says a lot in few words.
Please remember to support the artists you like! The purpose of putting the podcast out and providing the full tracklist is to try and give some light, so do use the songs on each episode as a starting point to search out more material. If you have Spotify in your country it's a great way to explore, but otherwise there's always Youtube and the like. Seeing your favourite artists live is the best way to put money in their pockets, and buy the vinyl/CDs/downloads of the stuff you like the most!