May 31, 2012
"Never a pretty boy, always a beautiful mind..."
This month's title is kind of a nod to the ongoing NBA Playoffs as well as to trying to get through the struggles life can hit you with from time to time...all the same, back for another episode! Had a tough time picking tracks for this one but dug a few out I'd been saving for a while so hope they work for you!
RIP MCA, Chuck Brown, Donna Summer, & Robin Gibb...
Bumpy Knuckles : Mic & Gun
Big opening tune! This track is actually a few years old, but it seems to have had the vocals re-recorded - I prefer the changes, but also liked the original delivery just a touch more! Anyway, that's maybe nit-picking - another ill performance from the New York third-verse legend on the mic (bonus points for the 52 reference) and on the beat, DJ Premier with another under-the-radar banger. Your best place to get this one is the deluxe edition (digital only?) of the new Bumpy & Premo album "Kolexxxion" which is definitely worth checking out; a few of the tracks have already been out so the DJs might know them, but it's overall a solid set!
[DJ Spinna] Dynas : Game Huntin' (Instrumental)
Thought this beat just worked well here, but I'd recommend peeping the vocal with Masta Ace and Krym guesting on it - pretty heavy co-signs all round!
Phat Kat ft. Elzhi : Cold Steel
Organised chaos all over this track! Gun talk from both sides of the equation in fine style on the first two verses by Detroit mainstays Phat Kat & Elzhi, with Kat coming back on the last verse to just go out battle style. Dilla comes through with an outrageously hard beat - not sure if he was alive when the lyrics were recorded but the two elements go together lovely :) Extra-gritty video too.
Mic Geronimo : Up Now
From the 2003 "Long Road Back" album (though I got this on a digital download), the Queens mic holder who brought us "Masta I.C" and "Shit's Real" resurfaced after a long absence on this gem, with production by another Queens stalwart, the legendary Large Professor. The flavour on the beat isn't the old-school Extra P but more of the sound from the "1st Class" album - not everyone's bag but in some places I think it can work, and I think this is definitely one of those places!
Samson & Sejour : Rock Rock Y'all
Is it the little tweaking electronic sound? Is it the constant back-and-forth style? Is it the nice little samples at the start? I don't know what it is, but there's something about this track I really like despite it not being anything crazy on the surface! I picked this 12" up a while ago mostly because it was on sale, which is fortunate because I've never seen or heard it anywhere else. In fact, I've not heard of this New York duo before or since, though the producer Mark Ronson has maintained a decent career. I expect some of you will really like this but a fair few others will be pretty nonplussed. Thought I'd put it out there anyway!
Al B. Sure! : Nite & Day (Onra Edit)
Ridiculously ill - first time I heard Agent J play this re-edit I stormed to the DJ booth to find out what it was! French producer and 80s soul fan Onra gives us a short and sweet bass-heavy re-edit of Al B. Sure's 1988 classic, which you can find on Episode 14 of the podcast as it happens! You can currently get this free on Bandcamp so run there now and treat yourself! Even though the original track is very much "of it's time," I think there's just something classic about it which means it'll always be being sampled, edited, or interpolated somewhere...I do still laugh at super-dramatic moves in the video though :)
Nu Vintage : Raw Essentials
The "Beats & Dreams" album was just one of those finds after an evening browsing Bandcamp, though as it happens I think I might have first heard a little something on NouGold. I thought I'd paid for this one but it seems to be a free download now so worth a listen. S/he is pretty sparse on details but I reckon I'll check back for more sometime!
Malik Yusef ft. Kanye West, Common, & JV : Wouldn't You Like To
"The most critically-acclaimed wordsmith in the game?" I think that might be stretching it a bit, but nonetheless a good track :) I heard this first on a compilation of Kanye tracks called "The High School Graduate" seemingly made up of tunes he did before he really blew up big [ Incidentally, watch this :) ]. The drums thump along in what was then quite a signature style, everything else floats around them nicely and then the lyrics take it from there! Great track that was on Chicago native and poet Malik Yusef's "The Great Chicago Fire" LP (which I haven't heard) and also the "Coach Carter" soundtrack LP (even though it wasn't in the film itself).
DJ Jazzy Jeff : Da Rebirth
A little non-album cut from the "The Magnificent" EP, this one showcases Cy Young on the mic reminiscing about the Golden Age of Hip-Hop and just bounces along nicely with the stuttering horn stabs and ill drums; thought this was an actual Jazzy Jeff beat but in fact Kev Brown produced it, little more of an upfront and aggressive sound than a lot of his other stuff (which I still love, let's not get confused here). As far as I know, Jazzy Jeff does come in with the ridiculously ill scratching to round off the package though - if you're in the know, you know how pioneering a DJ he was back in the day - peep him on this 1986 recording...
Casual : Chained Minds
Pretty poor vinyl pressing, Casual's "Fear Itself" (what a title) was a quality album! Coming out of Oakland, Casual's been a mainstay of the Hieroglyphics family from the start and is still roasting the mic right up to the current day. On this one he handles the (excellent) production himself and shares some of the lyrical shine with the man Phesto from Souls Of Mischief, speaking on survival in an aggressive world. Classic track, still a favourite after over 17 years!
Slick Rick : It's A Boy (Remix)
Extra Extra P! Another Large Professor production, with those heavy 90s SP-1200-style drums and the laid-back bass and vibes on top. Perfect backdrop for The Ruler's silky-smooth styles on the mic! The original version of this is on the "The Ruler's Back" album but I *think* this remix is only available on the 12" release of the single. An essential for the vinyl collectors!
Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers : Ashley's Roachclip
1974 tune, one of the classic Hip-Hop breaks! I can hardly imagine how many times this has been used, I know it's shown up in a couple of past podcast tracks though...I'll let you go and find them ;) If Chuck Brown had done nothing but this track, he would still be notable. but as one of the inventors of go-go music as well...an immortal.
Beastie Boys : Hey Ladies
Is it intellectually edifying? Nah! Would we expect anything less? For the younger listeners, "Paul's Boutique" isn't just a clothing line ;) The second Beasties album can only be described as sample overload and is definitely one of those projects that could never be produced and released in the modern era - the cost of clearing all the samples would be astronomical, even assuming you could do it! I have to smile when I hear the drums right at the end, which ended up being sampled by another legend - I've looped them up a bit here so see if you recognise them!
Fusion Unlimited ft. Big Tone : Up 2 U
The first time I read about Fusion Unlimited it was an interview by Soulman. They were getting deep into chatting digging and sampling so I was quite surprised when I eventually heard his production on this; I like it, just not what I expected! Big Tone I'd never heard of at all, but I think he carries this one well. As it happens, Discogs has him with two albums in his discography but they've never come to my notice. And on the B-side to this single? A little someone called Joell Ortiz...
Parliament : Flash Light
One of the standouts in the Parliafunkadelic canon, hands down! Release in 1977 (a great year), this came off the mighty "Funkentelechy vs The Placebo Syndrome" LP. The low-end is serious, with Bernie Worrell on the synthesizers - I've heard them claim this is the first song ever to use a synth bass, but someone else could probably confirm or refute that! Sampled countless times, it's just part of our fabric now...
Rodney O & Joe Cooley : U Don't Hear Me Tho
West coast attitude in spades! Coming out of LA loud and proud, Rodney O spits some serious venom on this track, taken from an album which in an inspired, low-key, subtle way was called "F__k New York." Musically, this plunders some of the biggest funk tunes ever, and topping it all off is Joe Cooley on the cuts - one of those DJs not much spoken of nowadays but definitely influential! Check him out on this old tape or battling DJ Cash Money at the 1987 New Music Seminar!
T La Rock : Breakdown Dub
Big up to my man Jerry Beeks for blessing me with this vinyl! A futurisic MC who was ahead of his time but still sounded somewhat of his time, T La Rock split production duties on this one with the man Special K. 80s drum machine business all the way! Check the vocal version if you don't know it, old gold :)
Jeep Beat Collective : Hip-Hop Love, Hate, & Hope
(or at least, that's how I've seen it labelled!) Picked up this vinyl not that long after arriving in Manchester, and from that day to this it sounds amazing. A piece in three movements masterminded by Manchester's own Dave The Ruf, it's a brilliant example of instrumental/DJ composition - glad to finally have chance to play it for people!
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!