Sun, 30 October 2011
"I am sworn to life, I am bound to death"
- Professor X
* (but never the college dropout)
Thought I'd take the opportunity to show a little something I did this month :o) As it happens, three of the acts on this photo collage are included in this month's selection. Which ones, you ask? Well, read the show notes for the detail!
RIP Dr Geraldine Connor...
Bass-O-Matic : Fascinating Rhythm
Starting things off with a big UK chart hit from 1990 which I've never stopped listening to! Based on the same Soul Searchers "Ashley's Roachclip" sample as Eric B & Rakim's "Paid In Full," it's packed with flavour in a way I don't think a lot of modern chart music can match. I didn't realise until recently that the producer on this track was William Orbit, better known to most as the production brain behind Madonna's 1998 "Ray Of Light" album - big move from him there!
Eric B & Rakim : Paid In Full (Drums only)
Thought it'd be a nice blend to come into this track, sharing as it does the drum sample from the opener. If you don't recognise this straight away, just head out and get a copy of the 1987 "Paid In Full" album, and cleanse yourself :) PS ...am I the only person who liked "Chinese Arithmetic?"
X-Clan : In The Ways Of The Scales
Maybe the best use ever of the Tom Tom Club "Genius Of Love" sample, tucked away as the last track on the indisputably classic "To The East, Blackwards" LP. Even if X-Clan weren't the best group of the Afrocentric era of Hip-Hop, they could definitely put in a strong claim for being the funkiest! Made up of the late Professor X (son of Sonny Carson), the late Sugar Shaft on the wheels and Brother J (handling most of the mic time), they had a combination of consciousness and danceability which is yet to be matched. The album, their first, drips with so much quality it's just ridiculous - a "must own."
New Flesh ft. Blackitude : Stick & Move
UK UK! Bassline action on this killer from the "Understanding" album produced by legendary UK graf writer Part 2 (York stand up!); I once heard he picked up some of his first production pointers many moons ago from DJ Greenpeace, who was also a great influence on my record buying as a teen! New Flesh (originally New Flesh For Old) were definitely unafraid to be original from the moment they came out, and in my opinion managed to do "futuristic" sounding tracks before there was any such thing as "future beats." This track is one of their more dancefloor-ready pieces, but check the albums to get an idea of the full scope of their sound - "Equilibrium" is the place to start, with that being the beginning...if you like the more technical, abstract sound, it'll be right up your alley.
Ice Cube : My Summer Vacation
Underrated to a ridiculous degree. For me this is one of the standouts of Ice Cube's sophomore "Death Certificate" album; the production (by DJ Pooh, Bobcat, & Rashad) is just ridiculously dope and Cube takes the mobbed-out, gangsta-funkin' track to spin a tale of a gang who leave LA to do business elsewhere...and things just go downhill from there. The topic of this song is serious - Ice Cube was rhyming about the spread of the LA gangs to other parts of the country when it was by many accounts barely getting underway. From what I've read, there were many reasons - from copycats, to members being sent out of the city by their families in an attempt to get them out of the firing line; as I say, that's what I've read and heard - you'd have to check with an expert though.
Foreign Legion : Voodoo Star
Changing the mood on this track, though it quite handily capitalises on the "my life is f**ked" ending of the track before (I'm saying that like I didn't choose the order!) Can't remember when I picked this one up but it was cheap as I remember and sometimes it's worth taking a chance on a tune. Not a huge fan of the semi-sung hook but in truth it does fit, and overall it's a strong package - funny rhymes from Prozack and Marc Stretch, good production, and a few cuts for good measure (from DJ Design, who also did the beat).
Gang Starr : Take A Rest (Instrumental)
I rarely pull out my white-label copy of the "Step In The Arena" instrumentals but flicked onto it while doing the selection and found that this track blended lovely with the preceding one so in it went :o) Hard to believe when listening to this beat (or any other on the same album) that DJ Premier once said he didn't have full confidence in the science of his production until "DWYCK" - I wish I could find the article where I read that!
Jasiri X : Occupy (We The 99)
Jasiri is his real name, and he's a member of the Nation Of Islam so the X is real too! A committed activist who also gets busy on the mic, Jasiri X has been behind such topical tracks as "What If The Tea Party Was Black?" and "Enough Is Enough." There aren't many young MCs right now hitting the issues of the day like him but he takes it all on and on this track, he gets into the grievances behind the Occupy movement. The strength comes not just from the lyrics but from the knowledge that it's not just posturing - he has the track record of speaking on social justice issues that lets you know it's not a cynical move. On top of all that, check the video - filmed at Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Pittsburgh.
Bumpy Knuckles : Pit In The Basement
Rugged tune that sounds like it should be the soundtrack for boxing training! Taken from the "Leaks, Vol.2" collection, it's just classic aggro Bumpy in fight mode. Definitely get both of the free "Leaks" mixtapes, turn them up, and try not to punch anyone in the face :o)
Grand Agent : Mingling Goes To Church (Shitake Monkey Remix)
I had this record (the "Fish Outta Water Remixes") hanging around for ages before I really had a proper listen, and when I first heard this track on there I couldn't believe how badly I'd slept on it! Over the years it's had a good number of outings in the record bag and really moves a big sound system. The well-travelled Philadelphia-native GA gets busy on the mic here regulating the garbage in the game, and the New York production crew Shitake Monkey absolutely smack it on the beat. Still haven't sussed out how the track got its title though...
Nine : Lyin' King
Underrated, and mostly unknown by people I know, this is a great 90s cut. Nine sets his stall out on the fakeness he doesn't like, and if the shoe fits, get a matching bag! Nine is probably best known for "Whutcha Want?" from the "Nine Livez" album (or, if you go back further, as 9mm on Funkmaster Flex's "Six Million Ways To Die") but this is from his second album "Cloud Nine." His go-to producer Rob Lewis is on the track - it's the little breakdown and the voice sample that I think really make the beat.
Hexsagon : How Can I Love You (Instrumental)
DJ A-Up put me up on Hexsagon originally, and after checking out some of his stuff on Bandcamp I grabbed a download purchase of the "Beat Flip Tuesdays, Volume 1" tape (I can't help it, it's always a tape to me!). A great talent coming out of Arizona, keep an ear out for this man!
Curren$y & The Alchemist : Smoke Break
So very dope (no pun intended). I think I first heard this on the DJ Lee Majors "Bitches Leave" mix (word to Clarence Boddicker) and then got myself a copy a while later. It feels like a semi-interlude, but there's enough going on to make you realise it's a full track - just short and sweet. Coming out of New Orleans and originally part of The 504 Boyz on No Limit Records, as well as having stints on Cash Money and Young Money, it's interesting to see how Curren$y has kind of remade himself and opened up an audience who never would have checked for him before. The star here for me though is Alchemist on the beat - it's hard but dreamy, with drums to die for. Definitely my favourite from the "Covert Coup" EP.
NYOIL : I Tried
NYOIL came out blasting on his first track under that name, the pull-no-punches "Y'all Should Get Lynched," done on zero budget but grabbing a huge reaction. That track was just the warning shot for the full "Hood Treason" album, where NYOIL spits his manifesto over an international selection of beats. This was an early favourite for me despite the someone out-of-place hook, and I think the sentiment is something a lot of people can empathise with; to me, the beat even sounds like someone carrying or dragging a heavy load! Obligatory trivia : NYOIL was originally Kool Kim of the UMCs - quite a style change!
Massive Attack ft. Liz Frazer : Teardrop
Fantastic, classis track - by all accounts, went through a lot of work putting it together but it must have felt worth it in the end when the result sounds like this. Taken from the "Mezzanine" album, Massive Attack's third, Liz Frazer of The Cocteau Twins is on the vocals but what I didn't know until I was researching this episode was that Madonna was originally in the frame to sing on this instead! That's two Madonna mentions in the show notes now...
Dom Kennedy : Menace Beach
Heard this first on the Combat Jack Show in one of the musical breaks but had to to some Googling to actually find what it was called and who had recorded it. From Leimert Park, Los Angeles, he's got a track here which at least in the production style reminds me of something NWA might have rhymed over back in the day, pre-"Straight Outta Compton" even! Great cut from the free "Future Street / Drug Sounds" mixtape.
Danny Drive Thru : Violence Makes
If you missed this man on episode 19, head back and hear some of his thoughts on production and hear some more of his stuff! A dedicated and talented producer, as well as one of the humblest guys you'll ever meet, Drive Thru has just released his "Psychedelia Smith" 7" (it took me a while to notice the pun) on Mind On Fire records but as usual, I headed for the B-side to pull out this low-tempo, mournful instrumental. Really good to see someone who deserves it coming up!
Funkadelic : The Song Is Familiar
Dopeness from the "Let's Take It To The Stage" album (great write-up on it here). When I first heard this, I knew a little about Parliament and how much they'd been sampled, and that Funkadelic were parts of the same movement, but I didn't realise how different the sound was. True to thje name, Funkadelic could come with that rockish, psychedelic kind of feel with the heavy amp flavour, and despite not being much of a rock fan at the time (aged about 15), the hook on this was enough to make me want to pull the air guitar out and set it on fire :)
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!