Mon, 23 January 2012
"...saliva and hand gestures..."
- Big Dubez
Happy New Year! Hope you all have a great 2012. The first episode for the year is one of those where if anyone knows every single track, I'll be very surprised. Definitely had fun with this selection - grew from one blend that popped into my head and just grew outwards from there...
Shout out to Jay Subterranea aka Jim Underground for donating the fresh chopping board in the cover art! As a DJ I mix and cut on the turntables, now I can take that style to the kitchen ;)
Quite a few links to throw up - not a regular thing as such but there are a number of events I want to mention right now;
Yo-Yo : Mama Don't Take No Mess
Ladies first! A standout track from the "Boyz N The Hood" soundtrack, a compilation I'm definitely going to be revisiting in a future episode. Yo-Yo came out from under Ice Cube's wing on the track "It's A Man's World," going head-to-head with the west coast legend in a battle of the sexes on wax. She's from the era where skills were judged before appearance, definitely. I'm not going to front, I thought Yo-Yo was hot back then though - check the "Paint The White House Black" video. Ah, b-boy crushes... anyway, back to the present! Yo-Yo writes a great lyrical portrait of her strong mother and the upbringing she gave to her children, and production is by DJ Pooh and Rashad - funk-filled for real. 22 years old this cut...time flies!
[Rockwilder] Busta Rhymes : Do It Like Never Before (Instrumental)
Kind of awkward, kind of off-beat...yeah, nice choice to try and blend with! Nice Rockwilder beat though, strictly B-Side from the flip-side of "Do The Bus-A-Bus;" that track was on the "E.L.E : Extinction Level Event" album.
Michael Jackson : Speed Demon
Well, why not? The blend between this and the next tune was the seed for this episode. This isn't the tune that people bring up when talking about the "Bad" album, but I always loved it - it also inspired a memorable sequence in the "Moonwalker" film! Apparently this tune came about after MJ was stopped for speeding on the way to a studio session; Quincy Jones suggested he wrote down how he felt about it, and eventually it became the inspiration for the song. Nice bit of production there, Q :)
Ice-T : Drama
I was put up on this tune back in high school by my man Justin, one of the vanishingly small number of heads I met in my time there! I knew about the "OG : Original Gangster" album which had just been released but he knew about all the older Ice-T and so I have to thank him for hooking me up back then. (Note to the artist : I have since bought all those albums, so it all worked out!) Hugely overlooked track from the "Power" LP, this was never a single and is rarely mentioned. It's classic Ice-T - the crime story on most of the track, and then the downfall/moral at the end; if you like, the sugar and the medicine together. I always thought the production was incredible too, with the drum machine programming over the 303-type melody/bassline. Appreciate this, and then go and get that second album if you haven't already!
Genaside II : Waistline Firecracker
I almost feel bad including this tune as the first track I've played from these guys as I like some of their other so much more, but on the other hand it's the first one I ever heard so maybe it's right! I can't tell you too much about the group other than these snippets; they were from London, almost certainly the first UK act to work with any Wu members, and in style covered the spectrum from rave & drum 'n' bass to Hip-Hop. Their "New Life IV The Hunted" album is very difficult to describe, especially without resorting to cliche, but let me just say that it's always got play from me from the time it was released in 1996 right up to now. If you can find it, get it. This track was one of the lead singles, and rightly so; unique production, and serious gun chat over the top with the right amount of theatre to match.
dead prez : I'm A African
When it comes to dead prez, I think I'll always look to their first album (from which this is taken) as the overall best summation of what they're about, despite most of it being quite a big change in production style from some of their earlier work. Unashamedly pro-Black and anti-capitalist, they shook things up with the "Let's Get Free" album and one of the standouts for me was this early cut; certainly one of the most forthright declarations of being African since the Afrocentric Hip-Hop era. Hedrush and dead prez soundtrack their message with a speaker-smacking track, with drums coming from just about everywhere. Winner.
Kev Brown : Multiply (Instrumental)
The kind of dopeness you expect coming from the low-key, Low Budget representative. Got this from his official Instrumentals LP on Bandcamp, where he shows once again that Maryland shouldn't just be thought of for the university and the cookies :) How can you hate on this beat? Can't be done.
Sporty Thievz : Street Cinema 2
Remember these guys? For 90% of you that have, that'll be due to "No Pigeons," this Yonkers group's response to TLC's "No Scrubs." Actually, it just popped into my head that strangely, both groups were trios who lost one member in tragic accidents; such a shame. This is a great tune from the Thievz, been getting a lot of play in my headphones over the last few months; heard it randomly on Spotify, then tried to find a copy I could play. Was it on the "Street Cinema" album? Nope. I got it on an unofficial-looking 12", with "Enemies Of Hate" on the flip. The beat is nuts, Pete Rock rocking the Mardi Gras bells in a major way with lots of dope bassline action, and just a great amount of space between all the elements. On the mic, Marlon Brando (RIP) and King Kirk come through with low-key but attitude-filled deliveries - just a really cold overlay - and Big Dubez amps up the energy on the last verse, with the first four bars making me laugh out loud for real! Shame this track is so little known, but at least it's here for you guys!
NYGz : Policy
Premo beat. Straight away that should be enough to hook you in. Rugged tune which sounds slightly off-beat but all the better for it. Panch & Sha get busy on here, one of the early tracks from the Year Round Records "Get Used To Us" compilation. If you like this, you know you've got at least a little taste for that no-nonsense, meat & potatoes Hip-Hop :)
Skitz & Rootz Manuva : Blessed Be The Manner
Roots Manuva has really blossomed into a worldwide star for those that know, but this kind of style is always the version I enjoyed him rocking the most. Shout to Dave The Ruf - first heard this on one of his Radio Zero tapes! When it comes to the beef beat, the man Skitz, one of the UK's finest, gave him a track he could really shine on. Has Skitz ever made a bad beat, ever? Nice 12" on Ronin Records with "Where My Mind Is At" on the other side.
J-Live : How Real It Is
J-Live is one of the greatest all-around talents in Hip-Hop, with skills on the mic, the turntables and behind the boards - a true triple threat. All things considered, he may just be strongest on the lyrics, and this is just one of the many hot tracks he's laced over the years. J and Jay Money collaborate on the production, bringing in a small band to provide the instrumentation underlying this killer from the essential "All Of The Above" album. Do not sleep.
The Detroit Experiment : Vernors
The Detroit Experiment was a collaborative project between a number of notables - snuck up on me, I can't even remember where I heard this first, but it got a lot of play before I got a legit MP3 version. This isn't on Spotify unfortunately but if you get a chance to check the whole album, do. As far as this track, it's all about that beat switch halfway through...
J Dilla ft. Ta'Raach : Say It!
Great Dilla beat, light on the top but smacking it underneath! One from the "Jay Love Japan" release, or the version I have at least. I think going back-to-back Detroit here was a good move, hope you enjoy it also!
Freeway ft. Allen Anthony : Alright
An entwined history for these two tracks! The original had the beat from the first tune, but the lyrics from the second - it was Allen Anthony's track. However, it became much better known after a different version was released with Freeway taking centre stage (and somewhat going off-topic with the lyrics, I might add) and Anthony sidelined to hook duty. Finally, the second track here was the A-side of two Blackbeard remixes/re-edits of these two tunes. Despite this, it was the first version I heard, on an MP3 from somewhere - absolutely loved it. I had no joy finding a vinyl until my man DJ A-Up found a copy for my birthday one year! Big props. Musically, Just Blaze (on the Freeway version) and Blackbeard (on the Allen Anthony track here) both catch wreck with their takes on the Ronnie Foster "Mystic Brew" sample, best known to the Hip-Hop nation for its use on A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation." Struggle music. PS - check the video links above; both of them were great in my opinion.
Basic Vocab : Likeness
On the low, Miami has some guys who really do it, even though it's not thought of as a traditional Hip-Hop hotbed. (Someone's going to mention Rick Ross here, but I'm yet to be convinced). BV are a three-man crew with Mental Growth and JL Sorell on the mic and Tony Galvin on production, and I've got a few tunes of theirs on 12" which are nice to have. You can't front on solid beats and solid rhymes, and this tune has a classic east coast Hip-Hop sound, no question.
K-Def : Yeah Def
You should already know about K-Def, I told you months ago ;) One of the many dope tracks on the very little known but extremely good "Willie Boo Boo The Fool" instrumental LP. The real heads want to have that one in the collection, especially if you're into making beats; good source of inspiration!
Dean Atta : I Am Nobody's Nigger
Not Hip-Hop, but unquestionably one of the big noisemakers of the last month. After an 18-year wait, two people were finally convicted for their parts in the racist murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993. For those that doubted whether race was the motive, the attack was reportedly preceded by a challenge of "What, what, nigger?" from one of the killers. Taking inspiration from the fact that that hateful word was one of the last he ever heard (a though I've often had about other Black people), the London spoken word poet Dean Atta wrote a great piece blasting its casual use. He posted it on the Internet and it spread like wildfire, sparking discussion and prompting a number of people to try and set it to music. While I liked it in its raw form, this version constructed by Si Tew is one of Dean's favourites, so I've gone with it to close the show, and hopefully make people think. It's a word I never use - it'd be nice to think that this poem might just make other people check their speech in future.
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!