Wed, 30 November 2011
"When I walk through I set off all sprinkler systems..."
Two and a half years of episodes in the can now! Grateful to still have an audience after all this time :) This month I've got a few left-field unexpected picks, some stuff you won't know (yes, you), and some old favourites including a track by the late, great Heavy D who passed on November 8th.
In other news...
Catch me at the Badman Ting Charity Fundraiser on December 9th - it's mostly a D&B affair but in the back room I'll be doing a Hip-Hop set alongside some great DJs, and also donating a print of one of my photos as a prize for the tombola - please give generously :)
Shout out to Watch Deez - as I say on the voiceover, his new "Dream With Open Eyes" tape is a nice relaxing collection - have a listen here!
Ghostface Killah & Trife : Fire
Big favourite from the "Put It On The Line" LP. The opening voice sample sets it off and the escalating guitar sample works brilliantly underneath the lyrics. Not much else to say about this one, except I've been waiting ages to get it in at the start of an episode and other things kept taking its place - not this time though!
[Alchemist] Poverty : Life Sucks (Instrumental)
One of those random 12"s I picked up because it was cheap and the production credit looked interesting! It didn't jump me out of my seat, but on the vocal version Poverty definitely does his thing - you just have to be in the right mood for it! I didn't know much about him at all, but he hails from Portland, ME and had a hard time - living on the streets and in shelters - before getting his break. The beat is from Alchemist, who is a master of the dark style and so hits the mark here when it comes to matching the theme.
J-Zone : Bling Around The Collar (Fake Gold Chain)
For me, one of the biggest, most entertaining personalities in Hip-Hop - but don't get confused by the humour, the lyrical skill and musical quality is always on point. He goes biographical on this one with a classic tale about coming out in fake jewellery back in the days, on top of a crazy piece of sample work; there's just no-one who makes beats like him. This is taken from the "$ick Of Bein' Rich" album, another quality Zone release. I just realised this was a 2003 record, which is crazy as I still bump it like it came out last week!
Wreckonize : Who's The Man?
From Miami, and with some bass, but not Miami Bass, comes the energetic Wreckonize. While looking up background info, I found out he was actually born in London but has been in the US since childhood, so any trace of a British accent is long gone! DJ Spinna on the production for this one - I shouldn't have to say any more, your ears will tell you all you need to know.
Heavy D & The Boyz : Who's The Man?
Same title, different tune - probably my favourite from the late, great Heavy D, an early 90s jeep-rattler of a track. The man from Mount Vernon flows with confidence with that unmistakeable voice, and Tony Dofat provides the production to go along with it. Like the next track in selection, I remember this one from the days in Leeds listening to the guys on pirate radio playing the quality stuff - was glad to get a vinyl of it a while back. RIP Dwight Myers.
Black Moon : Who Got The Props? (MW Smooth Mix)
Brooklyyyyyyn! The original version of this track was one of the most "what the hell was THAT?!" tunes from my teenage years when the man P-Wiz first played it on Supreme Radio in Leeds, and when I eventually found out the title I bought it the second the import 12" became available. Even though my funds were limited, and at £7.49 it was damn near the cost of an album, it was a must-own and remains so. The B-side was "F*** It Up" but the final B-side track was this remix, taking the same underlying sample but switching the drums. Evil Dee did the original and he (along with the rest of the group) actually hate this remix, which was done by Mike Weiss (owner of Nervous Records) and Schlomo. The original is definitely better to my ears but I don't mind this version, and it made for a much better blend here.
Camp Lo : Future
Tucked away at the tail end of what I think is the seriously underrated "Stone And Rob : Caught On Tape" release - I can't think of anything that sounds quite like it! The Bronx boys give you the usual slangy, back-and-forth vocal stylings, and the Apple Juice Kid is on the beat. Check how they channel Curtis Mayfield on the hook too...
Hans Zimmer : Bakara
Bit left-field in comparison to the tracks preceding it, but it blended so well I had to use it :) Hans Zimmer is one of the world's foremost film score composers, with more than 100 to his credit - from "As Good As It Gets" to "The Thin Red Line" and plenty more, as well as games like "CoD : Modern Warfare 2" and "Crysis 2." This particular track is from the "Black Hawk Down" score, and makes a good background to games of "Goldeneye" :) Nice album, not necessarily an essential purchase but if you see it for a good price and like instrumental stuff, pick it up.
The Intruders : Cowboys To Girls
One of the many records I have liberated from my parents' collection over the years :) The Intruders were an influential four-man soul group out of Philadelphia who had hits working with Gamble & Huff - in fact, they were the first group to do so, yet they are rarely mentioned! This particular track was a 1968 release which went as high as #6 on the US pop charts; only a snippet here but it shouldn't be hard to find a copy of the whole thing.
Big Noyd : Shoot 'Em Up (Bang Bang), Pt.1
Here we come to the flip of the above track - kind of bumps along with the way it's put together, and weaves the key bits of the vocal into the track with Noyd leaving space for them to come through. As with the second version, you can find this on the "Only The Strong" LP - not a "must own" but a solid enough album.
The Deele : Shoot 'Em Up Movies
Yes, serious cheese! Let me just say now that the phrase "all at once" is used inappropriately and far too many times in this song - must have been having an off-day on the lyrics! The Deele came out of Cincinnati in the 80s, and produced two breakout production and songwriting stars in L.A. Reid and Babyface (who also had a solo career as an artist). This tune is from their third album, though I got it on a "Best Of" compilation, and it was a big hit for them - been sampled a few times as well. A bit on the soft side for me but not without a certain charm!
Big Noyd ft. Mobb Deep : Shoot 'Em Up (Bang Bang), Pt.2
Definitely my preferred version of this track - brilliant sample flip and has just the right kind of pace and feel for me with the stabs and all the added handclaps; I think the vocal samples in this version work a little better than in the first one too. Nasty!
Air Adam : Key Ring
So-titled because of the little keyboard sound I put in there. This beat isn't properly mixed or anything, but just provides a little bridge from which I can blend into the next track...
Elzhi : Hands Up
Somehow managed to overlook this track on the "The Preface" album the first time round, then I heard it on shuffle in the gym and it smacked me in the face! My word, this is that real hardness. An all-Detroit affair, Black Milk on production gives you the ominous thumping, droning beat while Elzhi kicks some quality storytelling from the point of view of the low-end armed robber - top-notch writing. Don't get confused and think he's glorifying it though...it doesn't end well!
730 : 13th Commandment
Love that sample that the track's based around! I picked this up in London if I remember correctly, just on the strength of seeing that Lord Tariq was involved; from looking around it seems that 730 is the combination of Lord Tariz, Peter Gunz, and Cory Gunz (son of Peter). Despite that, it's a long way from "Deja Vu!" Lord Tariq's opening verse is the lyrical high point here, the flow is crazy. The only thing is that I wish they hadn't bothered with those horns in the hook - slightly on the corny side for my taste...
Beatnuts : Out Of State Case (Instrumental)
Got this on the "Hydrabeats 5" vinyl, just a collection of instrumentals I picked up many moons ago. This is a 1997 release on Hydra Entertainment, 12 tracks of Beatnuts-produced instrumentals - definitely worth having for mixtapes if you're a Hip-Hop DJ.
Onra : Send Me Your Love
A selection from Onra's 80s-flavoured "Long Distance" LP - a glittery but soulful MPC1000-programmed beat. If you like the sound of this at all, I'd definitely recommend getting yourself a copy of the album! I've been revisiting it lately and it's a really nice release.
Ras Kass : Won't Catch Me Runnin' (Moet Mix)
This was the first version of this track I heard, and I definitely prefer it to the original; a sample I won't reveal here stands alone as the intro before the drums come in to meet it, then continues in normal and filtered form throughout. Bird, the producer, who I must say I've not heard of elsewhere, definitely cooks up a beautiful track. Lyrically, this is early Ras, before even the debut "Soul On Ice" album, bringing out that kind of alternative West Coast flavour in the vein of (approximate) contemporaries like the Hieroglyphics camp - just really dope. I'd only ever heard this on MP3 before I came across a copy earlier this month in Vinyl Exchange - snatched it up quick, worried about the price later :)
Akinyele : In The World
Such a favourite of mine from this era (1996 release), I feel like I'm putting too many treats on here but it goes along so well with the previous two tracks! A very underrated MC out of Queens, you might know him better from his verse on the legendary Main Source track "Live At The BBQ" or the hit "Put It In Your Mouth" (which truth be told, I never liked much). As it happens, this was one of the B-side tracks on the "Put It In Your Mouth" EP and just shines. Production is by DJ Enuff and Jiv Pos - what's mental is that I have the record they sampled, I've sampled it myself, and I *still* didn't recognise it straight away - they made it work, definitely!
DJ Quik : Let You Havit
Damn, why don't you just say how you feel? Seriously though, Compton's own DJ Quik goes in with vigour on this 1995 track from the "Safe + Sound" album, mainly aimed at then-longtime rival MC Eiht of Compton's Most Wanted (note: Quik says on this track that he's wack. He's not.) They were definitely going at each other back then but these days I've read it's all smoothed out. All the same, this is a serious track, catches you straight away with those tough, smacking drums and then turning into a P-Funk, G-Funk keyboard extravaganza, right into the extended outro. If you don't have this one, get your West Coast collection up to par :)
[Just Blaze] Beanie Sigel : Beanie (Mack Bitch) (Instrumental)
Another record with a really tough beat driving it, but a sharper, more angular keyboard vibe and the occasional bit of piano for the low end. Completely different side of Philly to the Intruders track! Just Blaze was killing it on this, one of five tracks he produced on Beanie's second album "The Reason" - from which the very first post on this blog took its name!
London Symphony Orchestra : John Henry
Beautiful piece of music. I first heard this on the opening sequence of Spike Lee's brilliant "He Got Game" - the music and the images together are actually very moving if you have a deep connection to the game. While Public Enemy provide all the songs for the film (definitely worth buying their soundtrack), the orchestral score comes from the London Symphony Orchestra playing the music of the American composer Aaron Copland. This particular piece tells the story of the folklore figure John Henry, a Black steel-driver on the railroads who according to the story raced a steam-powered hammer bought by the railway owner to replace all the human workers, with the agreement that if he beat the machine that his co-workers would keep their jobs; he wins, but the effort kills him in the end. I'm no expert, but I think the music really communicates the story well - might not be everyone's cup of tea but I think it's tremendous.
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!