Fri, 30 August 2013
"I've been...to places never seen..."
- Sheyenne Rivers
With involvement in two upcoming photo exhibitions, plus work and the podcast, this month has been off the scale for being busy! Nevertheless, managed to put together what I think is a quality mix, and the fact I've been going around listening to it heavily before release hopefully means it'll be an enjoyable one for you all!
A couple of links;
September 13th - I'll be one of the hosts for the second Example photo exhibition, and I have some good pieces to show. This opening runs until late with a heavy DJ roster, so would make a great night out!
October 17th - my first solo photo exhibition - "Manchester Marauders" opens. It's all about the Manchester Hip-Hop scene from my personal viewpoint, with the centrepiece being a Manchester recreation of A Tribe Called Quest's "Midnight Marauders" album. The opening will be heavy, do come down!
Anyway - let's get to the music...
George Duke : Just For You
Starting things off gently, with the love song that closes the first side of Duke's 1977 "Reach For It" LP. I love how long the chorus is on this and how it builds. The album as a whole moved away from purist jazz, and is definitely worth having from a soul/R&B standpoint - George Duke brings his top-flight musicianship to the proceedings as always and it sounds fantastic.
Reks : Showoff Forever
Next up, a blend straight into the first of two tracks this month that sample the first one. I do like sample chops where a long note in the original becomes almost a continuous background presence due to the rearrangement, and that's how this one was hooked up by Walthamstow's Jewbei. After a bit of an "ehhh" intro, Reks settles into this one with his veteran flow. Taken from the "Revolution Cocktail" album, I could definitely see this one becoming a single - it's got that kind of bounce to it.
9th Wonder : Just For You
Finally, the track that I knew even before the George Duke one! I got this on a Justus League compilation, and thought it was an amazing beat - one of a select few five-star tunes on my iPod. It wasn't very long, and always had me wanting more. After picking up the George Duke album after a digging trip, I left it playing and was stunned and very happy to hear as the track was ending all the sample pieces 9th had used to make his beat! I actually got on my MPC and did my own recreation of it as an exercise, but here, we go with the genuine article.
Blak Twang : Surround Sound
Not sonically, but in terms of theme, this is very much like part 2 of the Blak Twang classic "Real Estate." Not the best known track, this was on the B-side of the "U Know" 12" and was never released on any albums. Tony Rotton self-produced this one; the beat is dark but not harsh, and the cuts on the hook work brilliantly - especially the Common parts. Low-key London stuff.
Shadowman : Rap Shit
I wonder if he's now in the post-rap stage of life? Shadowman rails against the BS of the rap industry on this selection from the 2002 "Beyond Real Experience Volume 2" compilation. It's a wise MC who hooks his wagon to DJ Spinna's production, and the signature killer synth bassline styled definitely drive this one along. Nice Slum Village sample on the hook, though I did keep wanting to hear the following line, which would have been perfect. Intentional omission for those that know, perhaps?
Termanology ft. Wais P and Ras Kass : We Stay High
The phrase that jumped into my head this morning when listening to this was "thug lullaby." No, it's not saying anything positive, but yes, it is a good record! From the seventh (!) of Term's "Hood Politics" releases, I think I only heard this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Statik Selektah does a nice job on the beat and all the MCs make it their own - not an obvious combination of guests but no objection from me! Ras Kass has been a favourite on the mic for years and Wais the P is breaking out in this second stage of his career as a man with a vicious turn of phrase. Funnily enough, Da Ranjahz (Wais' old group) and Ras Kass have recorded together in the past - can't find the track online to link here but might play you it sometime as I have a vinyl stashed away :)
George Duke : Reach For It
Classic! Big single from the album of the same name, all kinds of funk going on on this one. Something of a Parliament/Funkadelic vibe to this track! I've heard this on the "American Pimp" soundtrack and sampled in a number of places I won't reveal here as I don't know if they were cleared...you might need to do some homework on this one!
Air Adam : Glaze
A little something from my MPC library! First thing you hear is the original sample (looped a few times, just to create a longer blend), and then it switches into my flip. I'm not sure if I ever shopped this one around to any MCs, but I do enjoy listening to it.
Tony Touch ft. Sean Price & Guilty Simpson : Random
Heard this on a Conspiracy Radio podcast and knew I had to get it! Tony Touch is a longtime NY DJ institution, a mixtape legend who has an amazingly deep catalogue. On his famous 50th tape, "Power Cypha," he featured fifty MCs, and on his new project - now far away from the cassette era - he does it again! Sean P and Guilty have already combined as the MCs for Random Axe and so you know what to expect here - no love for the weak!
Prodigy : P Broke The Switch
An unusual instrumental as far as Hip-Hop goes on this one, with the four-to-the-floor drumbeat (kick drum on every beat) driving it - that's something more typical of house music. It's perfect to match the original beat under the disco-soul record intro that makes up the main sample though, and Mobb Deep's Prodigy gives you a slow burn vocal that just seems to go perfectly with it despite the contrast! Alchemist on production, and you can find this on his "Cutting Room Floor" mixtape/compilation.
Run The Jewels : DDFH
Heavy, dark, political, nihilistic, and brilliant. I was late on really appreciating Killer Mike (despite having enjoyed him featuring with Outkast), but you really have to respect what he brings lyrically. Similarly, it wasn't until I listened to Killer Mike's "R.A.P Music" album that I realised just how good El-P is as a producer. The two unite for a full-length and absolutely free project "Run The Jewels" which you really should grab a download of - if nothing else, to hear something a little different from the norm!
(oh yes - "drones over Brooklyn?" The NYPD wouldn't mind...)
Jaylib : React
On the collaborative "Champion Sound" LP, I'm personally a believer that J Dilla had better beats than Madlib...and better rhymes. Basically, I just wanted a Dilla album. Madlib brings out his Quasimoto alter-ego for this track, but the beat is the star! When I heard it loud in a dark basement party in Manchester shortly after it was released, a love for the song was born. Those drums thump and snap hard and the crazy wah-wah violin (I think) is the most unusual high-end I can remember hearing in quite a while. All part of that Dilla genius :)
Legion : Brazil
Local flavour right here. Legion is one of the MCs from upcoming Manchester group Mothership Connection but here he goes on a solo spacewalk. Extra-Vehicular Activity, as it were! He almost sounds like he's freestyling, going abstract on this beat from The Mouse Outfit's MPC man Pitch. Get the whole thing here, and keep an eye on this crew!
[Asheru/Joe Money] Asheru : Mood Swing (Instrumental)
Not even sure when/where/why I got this 12", but I pulled it out this month and found this nice little instrumental - amazing what you can find tucked away in a record collection. I think this may have been a 12" only release, and it features Talib Kweli on vocals so if you're a fan, it looks like you could probably pick this up pretty inexpensively.
Ka ft. Roc Marciano : Soap Box
Now this is that stripped down, low-key, Brooklyn business. This is a standout for me from the "Night's Gambit" album, Ka's third. A former member of Natural Elements, Ka is someone you really need to check for if you want to hear someone who is really serious about their writing. He's also a very distinctive producer - sometimes throwing drums out of the window altogether, which is highly unusual for Hip-Hop. Nothing for the club, all for the headphones or a late-night cruise. If you like this, check out not just the latest album but also the "Grief Pedigree" LP. Really nothing that sounds like it.
Sneaker Pimps : Walking Zero
One of those deep album cuts you know I like! From the debut Sneaker Pimps album "Becoming X," this really does bring to mind walking across a dark and desolate landscape...or the darkest parts of a city somewhere. It's that open hi-hat pattern that really puts that trudging feel into it, even more than the more prominent elements of the track. Goes to show how much all the little pieces matter when it comes to production! This has been a headphone staple for me for 14 years...with no sign of stopping.
Common ft. The Last Poets : The Corner
I really don't hear much of this tune anymore, which is odd when I think about what a big deal it was at the time! Kanye West (who also directed the video) is on production, bringing a nice drum track and his signature sped-up soul sample to what is a deceptively slow song (79bpm), The Last Poets add a cross-generational angle, and Common holds down the forefront. He's a Chicago native but his lyrics could be talking about the corner in any number of cities. I wasn't a huge fan of the "Be" album, but this track? No denying it.
Lord Finesse & Roy Ayers : Soul Plan
I have no idea how this collaboration came to be, but it sounds good! DITC producer/MC Lord Finesse is blessed with the presence of jazz legend Roy Ayers on this one, who gives the whole thing a smothering of vibraphone magic. I don't know if this was ever on an album - I got it on a white label 12", and I've seen it as a B-side to "Gameplan," so it was probably released 1996-ish. More background on this one appreciated...
K-Murdock : Dreams Come True
This is an instrumental that just draws you in and won't let go. Panacea's K-Murdock has been featured on this podcast a number of times and every appearance is quality. On a recent listen to his Japanese-based "Beats From The East" EP, I just couldn't believe how dope this one was and it just happened to fit perfectly here!
Camp Lo & Pete Rock : Dream Journey
One of the many great tracks on the newly-released collaborative "80 Blocks From Tiffany's Part II" mixtape - a free release which is an absolutely unmissable download. You should have clicked that link by now. Anyway, this is just one of my favourites from the project, with Pete Rock channeling some 70s flavour and Camp Lo weaving their usual mic magic but maybe with just a touch less dense slang than usual! As an aside, the construction hook reminds me of the bridge from N.O.R.E's "Grimey." That's a good thing, trust me. Camp Lo do it again, Bronx style.
Blue Stone : Dreamcatcher
Final track on the dreaming theme - I heard this when half asleep on internet radio one night and snapped awake to find out what it was! Robert Smith and Bill Walters are Blue Stone, and handle the production and instrumentation - for me, while the verse sections are good, the chorus switch is just amazing. Of course, it'd only be half as good without a vocal, and the guest singer Sheyenne Rivers obliges with an ethereal but still strong performance. The album is worth checking out, but for me personally this is the standout by a mile - just presses my buttons I suppose...
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!