Apr 21, 2012
"My real name is Kunta Kinte"
Despite being a little under the weather this month I feel great about the selection! I'm paying respect to the great Guru, dropping a couple of ill new releases, and of course dipping into the vaults for some too-often-overlooked gems - 58 mins of goodness. Enjoy listening, and do spread the word!
A few links to things I mentioned on the show;
and this is a great book : Nothing To Envy
Anyway, let's dig into the tracklist for the month...
Lina : It's Alright (Gang Starr Remix)
Been sitting on this one for a while but this was the perfect month to bring it out. The original version is from Lina's 2000/2001 debut album "Stranger On Earth," but while looking up info on it, I found it doesn't even seem to be on all the releases! As far as this remix, it seems to be on just one of the vinyl releases, or on the 12" promo single that I'm playing from. Lina is a singer and songwriter with kind of a jazzy style, and three albums to her credit - probably worth searching out if you want that kind of old-school vocal with updated production!
DJ Premier : Waaaaaa
Premo twice in a row? Yeah, why not? This one's a slightly off-beat but extra-hard instrumental from the first volume of the "Beats That Collected Dust" series. How did no MC get on this one?
Tony Touch & Gang Starr : The Piece Maker
Premo three times in a row? Well, good things do come in threes! I'd forgotten all about this one, but found I had it on a compilation of Gang Starr B-sides and rarities. It's basically just a Gang Starr track since Guru is on the mic and DJ Premier is on production and even the cuts I think, but it's a special track done for the mixtape DJ legend Tony Touch for his compilation "The Piece Maker." If you don't know about Tony Touch...well, that's your homework assignment for the month!
Keak Da Sneak ft. E-40 : T-Shirt, Blue Jeans, & Nikes
Big slapping Hyphy track! Can't even remember how I came up on this one for the first time, but I think it's one of those tracks that can't be denied. Bought the digital download of this on a "Greatest Hits" compilation but it was originally on the 2003 independently-released "Counting Other People's Money" album (love that title) - a track definitely worth chasing down for a party! Keak is a seasoned Bay Area veteran with 16 solo albums in his discography, not to mention his work with 3X Krazy and others. On top of that, he came up with the word hyphy in the first place! Definitely feeling the contrast between his low and gruff style and the legendary E-40's higher-register rhymes.
stic.man : Sober Soldier
This could be my theme tune! Shout to the man Ro for being the first one to tell me about this album. "The Workout" is an LP based around the themes of exercise and healthy living; great gym motivation and also completely radio-friendly! If you didn't already know, stic.man is half of dead prez and he's taken a very interesting tack with the album and his RBG Fit Club movement - definitely worth a look, as so many of us could do to improve our health and fitness and then apply that same discipline to other parts of life.
Motion Man : Play Dough
Check KutMasta Kurt cutting up the ill Guru sample for the hook! Back to the Bay Area for this one from Motion Man's debut album "Clearing The Field," which is worth having - solid and on its own vibe! Motion was the MC on the well-regarded DJ Vadim cut "The Terrorist" and has worked alongside Kool Keith as well as putting out two solo albums. Not heard anything from him for a while, but I get the feeling he'll be back...
[Barbershop Kiz] Defari : Blast (Instrumental)
Just some low-key dopeness here, instrumental of a 12" release from the Tommy Boy Black Label "Hip-Hop 101" compilation (note: that link currently has copies going for a penny plus postage, so you can't say fairer). There are some gems on that so it's one worth picking up when the price is low!
Chamillionaire ft. Saigon : You Gon' Learn (Early Service)
The first of two tracks out of Houston this month, this is a hot-off-the-presses release from one of my favourite MCs, taken from his new "Ammunition" project; he's highly underrated in the actual Hip-Hop market but has great mic skills - check the Paul Wall & Chamillionaire "Get Ya Mind Correct" album or any number of his amazing mixtape flows for proof. Also one of the most tech- and business-savvy MCs around, his intelligence shows whenever he speaks or writes. Accompanying him is the man behind one of last year's best albums, "The Greatest Story Never Told" - always one to speak his mind and call out fakeness. Not a strikingly obvious pairing, but an excellent one! Love the heavy drums on this beat too, courtesy of the Atlanta-based Sweatbox Productions.
Funkadelic : I Bet You
Keeping the big thumping drums going for another track, I could have chosen another Hip-Hop record but instead reached back for a selection from Funkadelic's first LP, released all the way back in 1970! George Clinton's various musical projects have contributed a huge amount to the sonic fabric of Hip-Hop and this track is no exception...if you're of a certain listening age you should recognise that different parts of this track have been sampled by some of the greats!
Dilated Peoples : Heavy Lighting
Not 100% sure of the accurate history of this one. I first heard it on a download years ago on an album/compilation called "The Deta Lideracy Project," which nowadays seems to only come up on Google on dodgy-looking websites. I really wanted to play it on the podcast but only play stuff obtained the right way so did a search for this particular track and found it on an officially-released compilation of Dilated Peoples B-sides and rarities - sounds about right! Interesting track, which seems to sway topic-wise between environmental concern and taking out sucker MCs; I'm not sure who produced it, but I love what they've done with the samples in the hook, got a really eerie and dark feel.
Cormega : Therapy
One of the few 5-star tracks on my iPod, this has been a headphone staple for me since I first heard it almost ten years ago! All heads with refined taste should know about the Queensbridge legend Cormega, who not only writes great lyrics but also gives the impression in interviews of being a very sincere and straightforward person. In recent years he seems to have laid to rest a long-running dispute with Nas but the album this is taken from ("The True Meaning," which is definitely one for your collection) is from that era - doesn't show on this track though. Beat-wise, another Queensbridge foundation man (DJ Hot Day) cooks up a buttery-smooth track based on Chaka Khan's "Stronger Than Before" (that one's already out there, so I'm not blowing anyone up). Got to love this one.
Air Adam : Breezeblock
A little something from my beat archives, not given it a big mixdown or anything, just straight two-tracked out of the MPC and into the computer! Just replaced my whole pad set and as soon as all the tact switches have been replaced too I might jump back into the beat game...
Trae ft. Styles & Jadakiss : Smile
Not an MC with a high profile in the UK, Trae is one of my favourites out of Houston - not the super-technical type of rhymer but has a really cold feel to his style. Another non-obvious collaboration with two-thirds of The LOX/D-Block bringing their Yonkers style down south, but it definitely works! I didn't know at first but the beat is actually all taken from a record by San Quinn and Messy Marv also called "Smile" and produced by Sean-T - I can thank Youtube comments for that knowledge!
Strategy : Kill 'Em
This was the early favourite for me from the Broke 'n' English veteran's "Pre-Season Training" mixtape - "The Bleep Test" was a more popular track but I love the production on this one, and Strategy's from-the-heart lyrics can't be fronted on - if you're fortunate enough to know any of the context, then they have that added impact too. Always representing Salford & Manchester, he's been doing it for a long time now and I'm waiting for B'n'E to come out with their second album - with all the talent and a new studio up and running, expect good things!
Stalley : She Hates The Bass
He should have got himself a British
Ok, I won't just stop writing there :) Stalley is quite a new MC to me - he first came out in 2008, but I only got up on any of his material last year. Coming out of Ohio, he's mostly been doing his thing independently (this is from the "Lincoln Way Nights" LP), but is now affiliated with the Maybach Music Group. Also definitely a member of #beardgang. Production on this is handled by Rashad, bringing that late night vibe to this track - and of course, the bass. Nice 80s sample and some other bits in there, skilfully blended together to give a great backdrop to the story of the girlfriend who just wishes he would turn the car stereo down :)
Zero 7 : Sleepr
This track manages the neat trick of sounding pretty uptempo despite only clocking in at around 80bpm! I'm just putting a dash of it in here for the flavour though - I absolutely love the breakdown that comes just before I mix out of the track. The rest of the tune is kind of angular and abstract, lots of effects and stuff so check it out if that's your bag. The album it's from ("Yeah Ghost") was pretty underrated I think - it's not another "Simple Things" by any means but at least it shows a willingness to experiment!
Gangrene : Due Work
The new Gangrene album "Vodka & Ayahuasca" is an absolute essential purchase for anyone who likes the real, and it was tough to even just choose a single track from it to play this month! This isn't totally typical of the sound of the rest of the album but fit nicely enough into the mix to make it my choice. Both Oh No and Alchemist are top producers and I'm not sure who gets the most credit for this but it pounds along and shows how to pull off the dark style with panache. Take notes!
[Kool Akiem Allah] Micranots : Glorious (Instrumental)
Dark tune from the Minneapolis-raised, Atlanta-based duo. Picked this up ages ago and it's just languished on the shelf for the most part so it's nice to dust it off! Extra-crunchy beat to say the least. You can find the vocal version of this on the A-Side of the "Welcome To The Empire" 12" (like I did) or on the "The Emperor & The Assassin" album.
Maze featuring Frankie Beverly : Look At California
Classic soul! My parents didn't have any Maze in their collection so I wasn't up on them as a kid, but heard them mentioned on boards and so on and that was when I started to discover the magic :) Coming out of San Francisco, they give us this great 1977 track to end the show, paying homage to their home state. Structure-wise, it's quite something - almost like four songs in one! You can find this on their debut, self-titled album, where it also plays the closer role.
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!