Tue, 27 November 2012
"...the government lies..."
This was one of those months where I think I've really found some great blends with some very varied tunes - not an all Hip-Hop outing by any means, but stay with it :) Oh, and the episode title? Well, I may not have the biggest name, but those who know...know how I get down.
Ab-Soul ft. Danny Brown and Jhene Aiko : Terrorist Threats
That. Hook. That could be the 2012 version of the big speech by Cyrus in "The Warriors!" I listen to The Combat Jack Show mostly for the chat/interviews but it was also the first place I heard this track - didn't know who it was or what it was called so I had to look it up, and it was well worth a purchase. This definitely falls into the category of the new Hip-Hop I'm not totally up on, but Ab-Soul is a Californian MC and member of a group called Black Hippy - this is no flower-power business though. He and Danny Brown connect on this with high-energy rhyme styles over Dave Free's slow, half-haunting, half-club beat, topped with Jhene Aiko's vocals. I need to put the "Control System" album on my homework list to see if there's anything else close to this!
[Timbaland] Aaliyah : One In A Million (Instrumental)
A true landmark record. It might be hard to remember but when this came out there was nobody doing drum programming like this - Timbaland unquestionably changed the game with his work on the "One In A Million" album. As an aside, I remember being at a battle at Jazz Cafe once where a band were playing in between rounds or something. When the drummer started playing this pattern live, the crowd went absolutely nuts! Aaliyah was definitely more established than Timbaland when this came out, but after having showed some of his style with his production of Ginuwine, this was really the start of the big breakout. A choice pick from a must-hear album.
School Of Seven Bells : Show Me Love
This is one of those records that'll throw people a bit! I don't listen to much at all in the "indie" lane but I do check out Shell Zenner's radio shows and one week I heard her play this record and it grabbed me straight away - heavyweight sound! This particular track reminds me a little of "Mezzanine"-era Massive Attack but that's just an observation. School of Seven Bells - or SVIIB as they're sometimes known - are a duo (formerly trio) out of New York City who blend electronic sounds with electric guitar and a style of dreamlike vocal that ticks my boxes. If you've got a system that does really good sub-bass, check the little sneaky licks under the main groove. Niiice :) If you're open on this, try checking the rest of the Ghostory album, their third - it's not the same sound all the way through, but it's a solid album which I'm glad I picked up.
Smith & Mighty ft. Tammy Payne : Move You Run
Such a great tune - extra-heavy bass, those background dub echoes and a crystal-clear vocal from Tammy Payne. I learned a top fact about these guys this month - they produced Massive Attack's first single! Now that is a serious credit, before you even get onto their own records. You can find this on the "Big World Small World" album, which is definitrely worth having if you like the British, West Indian-influenced sound.
Pete Rock ft. dead prez : Warzone
I don't think anyone would pick this up as a Pete Rock beat without being told beforehand, or even after - at the time this came out, it was an incredibly radical departure from anything he'd previously been known for. The second single from his second solo album ("Soul Survivor II"), it might at first sound like a common-or-garden club record but as it progresses you quickly realise it's something a lot more dystopian and political - Admiral Ackbar might describe it as a trap! dead prez get it dead on point with the lyrics, taking the surface sheen off the stereotypical club scene as portrayed on so many other records and exposing the dysfunction beneath. On the beat, Pete Rock gives it a sense of tension and urgency - and just check how those drums explode at 15:44. Man's a genius.
Hijack ft. Huntkillbury Finn, The Icepick, and Shaka Shazam : The Contract
If you don't know, Hijack are one of the most important groups in UK Hip-Hop history - founded as a DJ crew (Turntable Trixters), the addition of Kamanchi Sly on the mic and the further expansion of the crew created a monster. The monster was so powerful that Ice-T signed them to Rhyme Syndicate Records - a hugely significant deal. The "Horns Of Jericho" LP is a must-own in my opinion, and this was one of the closing tracks; all the speed of what some would call the "Britcore" era, but with a bit of refinement also. Classic!
Leftfield : Afro Ride
The opening sections of this track are just untouchable for me when it comes to this lane of music; the drum pattern, keyboard and African-sounding speech (it's nonsense, by the way) together are just super motivating :) Back in the mid 90s, when I was spurning anything I thought came under the banner "techno," I happened to get the chance to review "Wipeout," one of the first releases on a little something called the Sony Playstation. There was a marketing effort being made to move gaming from something for kids to something for young adults, maybe after a night at the club or whatever. In keeping with the strategy, the soundtrack to the game was made up of tracks licensed from different electronic acts, and this was one of them. After playing the game, I couldn't front on the flavour of Leftfield or Orbital, to name just two - who says video games don't teach you anything? Big B-side on the "Afro-Left" 12".
DJ Quik : Quik Is The Name
Taking it back to 1991, you can almost smell the jheri curl juice! Title track from DJ Quik's first album, and one of the more uptempo Hip-Hop records you'll hear (in keeping with the next two). When I think back to some of the press coverage of the time, I laugh at the ignoramuses who saw him as just a "Compton clone," a follower in the shadow of NWA - they evidently failed to spot the enormous talent. Hopefully they ate their words in time - he's clearly one of the best producers Hip-Hop history, and is pretty handy on the mic too!
Ellis Meade : Do Not Follow
Ellis aka L-Digz is one of the new generation of Mancunian artists coming up - doing his own style and making his own moves. I first heard this on NouGold but since then it's been released as part of the free "Conceptions" mixtape, which you should definitely check out! Rare to hear a modern track tear along at this kind of speed but this stripped down self-produced number does, and Ellis flows over it with confidence and clarity. Perfect length as well!
Leaders Of The New School : Transformers
Supreme Radio in Leeds back in the day is to be thanked for introducing me to this tune! For those who are older but not Hip-Hop savvy, or those who are pretty young, this is the group Busta Rhymes was in before he became a solo artist. This is from their debut "Future Without A Past," which everyone should at least hear! Dante Ross kills the production on this one, and the scratching tops it off - funnily enough though, not many transforms...
Louie Rankin : The Sting
A second straight pirate radio discovery for me - released back in 1992, someone played part of the track once and I flipped out over it! Despite that, I never quite managed to come up with the money for the "Typewriter" EP before it disappeared from the shops - and this is the pre-internet era, remember! A few years later when I came to Manchester in '96 I found it for a bargain price on vinyl and here it is for your enjoyment :) Louie Rankin doesn't have a huge discography - most of his stuff is in the 1991-1993 period though he does go back as far as 1983 - but he's been in at least one film, playing Teddy Bruk Shut in "Shottas" (not a great film, but some quality quotes!)
[Alchemist] Mobb Deep : Got It Twisted (Instrumental)
Has this Mobb single already been forgotten? I think I'm the only DJ who ever plays this out! Alchemist uses the Thomas Dolby single "She Blinded Me With Science" and made it evil. I approve.
James Brown : Funky President (People It's Bad)
Everyone should know this one. Not to say you already do, it's just that you should! Apparently this track was written about Gerald Ford, but I'm repurposing it on some President Obama business. Opening track on the "Reality" album, which came into my record collection via my father's record collection ;)
LL Cool J : Cheesy Rat Blues
I can't think of a song anywhere that better (or more humourously) describes how it goes when you've fallen off! Great album track from LL's "Mama Said Knock You Out" LP. I did wonder how based in reality it was, but LL says it wasn't autobiographical. I can't help but picture him though! On the music side, Marley Marl's on production rocking that same sample that you might know from the ATCQ "Scenario" remix, and this track also provides the hook sample for another track on this same LL album - "The Boomin' System." That's good recycling right there.
Chris Lowe : Round & Round
Not the one from the Pet Shop Boys :) This is a low-key man with an interesting story - a student of the late, great Paul C, he was most active in the late 80s/early 90s and produced classic tracks like Stezo's "It's My Turn" before largely dropping even further into the background, apart from the occasional release. The "Black Life" album this track is taken from was released in 2004 but I could have sworn I read somewhere it was recorded several years before. Anyway, if you like the no-nonsense classic production style, and good-time rhymes in the vein of Large Professor - get yourself a copy!
N.E.R.D. : Lazer Gun
(Yes, with a 'z.') We need to get rid of this "bonus track" business. To think that any number of people who bought the 2008 "Seeing Sounds" album might have missed out on this song makes me sad inside.
Ski Beatz : Ticket For 2 (Instrumental)
This needs to be on an airline commercial! Super-smooth production from the man behind Camp Lo's biggest tracks and some of the best of Jay-Z's first album. Got this on a 12" single - the main mix of the track has Camp Lo on the mic. Allow this to float you beautifully into the closer for this month...
Jazzanova : Takes You Back (Unexpected Dub)
So fresh, so clean :) One of less than thirty "five star" tracks on my iPod, it could have earned them just for that "I don't wanna lose you..." section at the start of the second verse - don't know why, just does it for me! The crew out of Berlin smack it out of the park on the production of this track from their debut album "In Between," with Desney Bailey supplying the vocals. The magazines might call it "nu-jazz," but whatever the label, it's quality and still a great listen ten years after release.
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!