Sun, 24 February 2013
"You thought I fell off? You smokin' somethin'..."
- Tim Dog
Big dedication episode. February is the month where we mark the passing of J Dilla, Big L, and Big Pun, but this year we also lost Donald Byrd, Cecil Womack, and Tim Dog. Allow me to pay tribute in this month's selection the best way I know how...putting them into a quality mix.
Caveman : I'm Ready (12" Version)
One of the generation of UK classics from just before I was really up on UK material. Caveman were real trailblazers, coming out of High Wycombe and getting themselves signed to Profile (home of Run DMC and others) back in 1990 - this 12" is based on a track from their "Positive Reaction" LP. Yes, you know the main sample - Jimi Hendrix' "Crosstown Traffic" - no secret there!
Public Enemy : Welcome To The Terrordome (Instrumental)
This is The Bomb Squad at their noisy best! You don't get tracks like this anymore, partly because the cost of all the sample clearances would be off the scale :( For the full version of this track, grab yourself the "Fear Of A Black Planet" album.
Big L & Kool G Rap : Fall Back
I've not played much Big L up to now but was looking for just the right track to slot into this episode. I think the link up with Kool G Rap on this one might have been an editing move, but someone else will know better! The "The Big Picture 1974-1999" album this appears on was released after L's murder, and was drawn from material he was working on at the time but had further work done on it. Regardless, he comes out here on the flamboyant style and then G Rap cleans up and handles the hook over a Shomari beat.
Pharcyde : Soul Flower (Wrong Tree)
After this month's great Pharcyde show (check the photos), I had to give them some love and play a track here! As usual though, tried to go for something a little different :) This is UK producer The Underdog's remix of this track from the debut "Bizarre Ride II..." album. There's apparently an EP of pure "Soul Flower" remixes but I got this on an unofficial-looking vinyl with two versions of "Ya Mama" on the other side.
EPMD ft. LL Cool J : Rampage (Pete Rock Hardcore To The Head Remix)
If you don't know the original for whatever reason you need to check it now - no-frills, extra-hard early 90s track based around a piece from Lowell Fulson's "Tramp." I put this remix a shade behind it but that's no shots, it's still a great cut - Pete Rock bringing out all the percussion on this one along with his signature horns. Great move on production (which a lot of people would have got wrong) to make sure to keep DJ Scratch's cuts in - wouldn't have been the same without them. The original is on the "Business As Usual" album, EPMD's third and, in my opinion, greatly underrated. I got this remix on a white label but I think it's on the original 12" release of the "Rampage" single too.
KRS-ONE & Tim Dog : I Get Wrecked
Bronx bass destruction! Producers TR Love and Moe Love probably locked the mixing room's doors and made Joe The Butcher turn everything up to 11 on this one :) They also provide that Ultra backing for Tim Dog here, and he comes with that raw, gruff style alongside KRS, who is not in "building a nation/saving the children" mode here - just battle mode all the way! Lead single from the "Do Or Die" album, which I don't actually have - didn't make as much noise as "Penicillin On Wax" did, but "F*** Compton" will ensure he's never forgotten...
J Dilla : Side 2, Beat 5
Short and very sweet - I wish I had a proper title for it though! This was from a "white label" (not actually white) of Dilla beats I got many moons ago, some of which turned up on retail tracks but I can't say I recognise this one from anywhere else. If anyone else does, fancy letting me know?
J Dilla ft. Havoc & Raekwon : 24K Rap
Took me a while to work out "why is that bassline familiar?" Then it hit me - Xzibit's "Los Angeles Times." It's used pretty much the same way on both tracks, but Dilla puts a touch more speed on it and hits with enough extra drumming and that spooky keyboard on the top to give it a totally different feel. You can get this one on the "Jay Stay Paid" album, which was released three years after Dilla's passing, formed from instrumentals he'd already done, and put together by a pair of executive producers - his mother, Maureen Yancey (aka Ma Dukes) and Pete Rock. They brought in guest contributions from people Dilla was a fan of, and here we get Havoc and Raekwon on some straight street business. Good choice.
The Beatnuts ft. Big Pun & Cuban Link : Off The Books (Remix)
I definitely prefer this to the original, and that was a great single! "Off The Books" was one of the first tunes to really introduce people to Pun - I can never decide whether they did the right thing letting him open the song or whether they should have put him at the end to nuke the whole thing Freddie Foxxx/GZA style...
DJ Lord Jazz ft. Doitall, Mr Funke, J-Ro, Tash, & Sticky Fingaz : Royalty
I was given the CD this is on by the man Lord Jazz himself after a show in Manchester! The DJ from New Jersey's Lords Of The Underground is definitely doing his own thing on the producer showcase album "The Plain Dealer" but has the whole group together on this track alongside most of The Alkaholiks and Sticky Fingaz. My goodness, does he give them an evil track to rhyme on...love it :)
Mystro ft. Mr Thing : Mystentatious
Illll.Lll. Great example of clever lyrics, Mystro taking a cue from GZA and weaving a street tale while working in the names of places all over the UK. The British listeners will probably appreciate this one the most, but hopefully everyone worldwide will be able to spot a good few :) Scratch expert Mr Thing (formerly of the Scratch Perverts) gets busy on the cuts in the hook, and the on the beat too - definitely dope but does take a back seat to the crazy lyrics on this one! Excellent work from two of the nation's finest, taken from the "Mystrogen" LP which features Junior Reid and Homeboy Sandman amongst others and can be got for a very reasonable price!
Donald Byrd : Wind Parade
A true jazz classic, and a record which has been sampled many times in Hip-Hop, by artists from Black Moon (maybe my favourite) to Organized Konfusion and 2Pac. The late, great Donald Byrd was serious with the bebop but showed plenty of stylistic versatility during his career. The 1975 "Places And Spaces" album, produced by the Mizell Brothers, yielded this beauty. RIP to one of the giants...
The Dazz Band : Let It Whip
Not sure if these guys ever blew up on this side of the pond, but this track won a Grammy! 80s funk with a glittery dancefloor flavour to it, you can tell the difference between this and your 70s kind of records. Dazz are a group from Cleveland, which makes me think there's just something about those Ohio bands - The Ohio Players and Roger Troutman/Zapp all hail from the same state. This track was from the "Keep It Live" album on Motown, though I got it on a 7" - as it was a big hit, it shouldn't be a hard one to find!
Michael Jackson : Get On The Floor
Check out the point at 45:58 coming out of the breakdown where he just overflows with joy and laughs on the track! Full-on disco from the 1979 "Off The Wall" which really is a classic, must-have piece. I thank my godmother for being the first to put me up on this album!
Womack & Womack : Teardrops
As a kid, this record was my introduction to the Womack family - big chart tune which still gets love today! There's a whole long story about how Cecil and Linda came together, for which I'll just give you a link - let's talk about this record. It doesn't hit you in the head with loads of different lyrics, but what is there works a treat and is delivered with quality by Linda Womack - makes it a great sing-along track for the dancefloor. On the music side, it's more sparse than you think; you get some subtle synth and ill bass playing, and those drums are smacking hard! This song will always be old, but never get old.
Blue Six : Bittersweet
This is definitely in the lane of cooled-out house-ish stuff I have grown to really enjoy over the last few years. Blue Six is an alias of the producer Jay Denes and this is from the third and most recent album under that name, the 2010 release "Noesis." More than once in reference to this album, I've heard Roxy Music mentioned, and I can hear little hints of that inspiration in there. Check out what I like to think of as the "unfinished" bassline, minimal and perfectly fitting. Vocals are from Aya, who I've played on the podcast before and who I still hope will release a second album - "Strange Flower" was great! One more subtle detail for the producers - check how the low-pass filter changes on the kick drum line...
Nuyorican Soul : Mind Fluid
For those with wide-ranging tastes in quality music, the 1997 Nuyorican Soul LP (headed up by Masters At Work) is an essential one for your collection. MAW are primarily house producers but the album has Latin, jazz, and a whole load of other flavours going on, played by live musicians for the most part. This track fit nicely in the mix and I love how frenetic it is, the percussion going absolutely mental at that speed and then the synth action really giving a rush too. Only giving you a portion here, but I'd say to you to go and get the rest :)
Wookie : Time
His surname is Chue - you can see how schoolyard business ends up generating his stage name! Wookie's a UK garage producer but his stuff is definitely towards the more soulful and complex end of the spectrum on both the lyrical and musical fronts. This is the closing track on his eponymous debut LP, which is very affordable and recommended!
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!