Sat, 30 November 2013
"The only test is to survive..."
Got some interesting combinations this month I think! For a long while I've wanted to do a mix that started and ended with two particular songs that share the same name, and finally I found a good time to do it. There's a good mix of dramatic and laid-back production, a few legends, and some real corner-of-the-shelves finds. With that said, let's see what we have this month...
Snowgoons ft. Smif-n-Wessun & Respect The God : Casualties Of War
Darkly-accented way to open the episode from the "Black Snow" LP, which is another showcase of the Snowgoons' production style. The Boot Camp Clik vets Tek and Steele come through on some street business, and Respect Tha God from Jeru's Perverted Monks crew gets it done on the hook. Production-side, that recurring operatic sample is the one - great element to build the track around.
[Tragedy Khadafi] Capone-n-Noreaga : Parole Violators (Instrumental)
One of the better beats from their thug classic debut; there's a piece on the vocal version which means I'll never play it on the podcast, but enjoy this instrumental! This is a Tragedy Khadafi beat, but it sounds like mid-90s Havoc (who mixed it, actually) all the way - real Queensbridge.
Frameworks & BluRum 13 : Moonlighting (Rondo Brothers Remix)
Manchester's My First Moth records have been putting out quality local material for a while now and this is a combination of MCR talent with someone outside our direct sphere. Local production head Frameworks links up with BluRum13 (who you may know from his work with DJ Vadim) here, with the remix coming courtesy of the Bay Area's Rondo Brothers. I love this one, taken from the very reasonably priced "Brickbuilders: The Remixes" collabo album; got a clean, technical sound to it.
Scram Jones : Wildstyle
I've never been quite sure how to judge Scram Jones as an MC. That said, he's not someone who's always out there and in your face so I'm pretty OK with the fact that he gets the urge to jump on the mic on what are, after all, his own tracks! This is a new one from his free "Dead Giveaway" mixtape. Overall a nice track, with some outrageous scratching going on - good to hear some fader skills nowadays!
2Tall : The Rise
I used to see 2Tall on the turntablist message boards back in the late 90s/early 2000s resurgence in scratching, and was lucky enough to get to know him in the real world through the turntablist/battling scene - as cool a guy as you could hope to find. He's been a serious DMC competitor, and this track is from that era; shows his scratching skills but also his production, which he's carried on and expanded in the following years. You may know him by the name Nyquist, or Om Unit - a man of many guises, but always top skill!
Shaquille O'Neal ft. Ice Cube, B-Real, Peter Gunz, & KRS-ONE : Men Of Steel
A tune that makes you think first "how did they get all these MCs on one track?" and then "how did Shaq get to be in charge?" NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal certainly could never be accused of passing up opportunities that came his way, and this is the main track from the soundtrack of "Steel" - a superhero film he starred in. I haven't seen it, and I bet you probably haven't either. Anyway, he'd been rhyming for a while by this point, and was a reasonable rapper, but nowhere near the same level as his guests on here! Poke and Tone (aka Trackmasterz) on the beat.
Tall Black Guy : The Big Payback
The Detroit-born, UK-based TBG strikes again with another ferocious beat flip, this time taking the knife to James Brown's classic revenge anthem. He's dropping quality material right now, and with his debut LP "8 Miles to Moenart" hitting the shelves, hopefully more people will recognise!
Wu-Tang Clan : Wu-Tang 7th Chamber, Part II
With this month marking twenty years since the release of the debut Wu album - which few realised would launch such a dominant force in the scene as it did - I thought it was a good time to break out one of the most rugged and raw bangers from that LP. RZA grips the ASR-10's Van Der Pol filter by the neck, forces it through a guitar amp, and produces the grittiest baseline of that already-grimy record. This was a great closing tune for the album and is still much appreciated by those who know. Roughness.
DJ Shadow ft The Federation & Animaniaks : Turf Dancing
I needed a bridge between the roughness of the last track and the clean electronicness of the next one - that also maintained the speed - and that gave me chance to pull this one! This is from Shadow's "The Outsider" album, where he embraced the "hyphy" sound of his Bay Area home, which might have wrong-footed the style mags but showed his versatility as far as I was concerned! Scene stalwarts The Federation smash all over the beat alongside the only recorded appearance I can find of The/Animaniaks, all with energy in buckets. I already know some of you will hate this, but hopefully a few will enjoy it!
Scritti Politti : A Place We Both Belong
I love Scritti but only heard this for the first time this month - a relatively recent track which was only released as part of their greatest-hits compilation "Absolute." David Gamson (who did some production for Roger Troutman on the "Bridging The Gap" LP) gets very busy on the keyboards/drum programming and of course, the incomparable Green Gartside provides his unmistakeable vocals. I only wish they released records more frequently, but at least it makes it easy for you to grab them all - which you should ;)
Robert Glasper Experiment ft. Common & Patrick Stump : I Stand Alone
After finally discovered Robert Glasper a month or two back, it turned out he had a new album on the way - another dope release that's been getting heavy rotation from me since I got it. Common leads the way vocally with some uplifting lyrics, and then we have a highly unexpected guest appearance from Stump - the lead singer from Fallout Boy. He definitely gets it done on the hook though, had it stuck in my head all month. The final little accent on the track is the long breakdown section with a sample of a speech by Michael Eric Dyson about Black individuality and striving for originality and excellence; a nice addition I think!
King I Divine : Slick Pavement
Chilled piano beat here, taken from King's recent "Reign Showers" beat tape. The Queens-born, Atlanta-based MPC1000 hitter is pretty new to me, but from listening to this compared with older releases, I think you can definitely hear a refinement sonically, especially in the drums - the kicks, snares, and hats on this track are just right :)
Celph Titled & Buckwild : Miss Those Days
If you never heard the "Nineteen-Ninety Now" album, you should - Celph Titled got the veteran DITC producer to dig back in his disks of original 90s unused beats and bring them to the table for him to spit over in the modern day, which was an excellent idea. This is definitely one of the more relaxed cuts from the project, and a nice stroll down memory lane lyrically - quite a few things to make the older heads smile! On the cuts to end the track, you have the former X-Man/X-Ecutioner Mista Sinista; I've always been a fan of his beat juggling, but he certainly reminds you here he can get down when it comes to pure scratching.
Redman : Lost Ones (Freestyle)
Redman steals a beat from Jay-Z "New Jersey Drive" style and goes in with some lyrics representing his home state. Got this on an unofficial pressing, not sure if there's an official release you can find this on!
HKB Finn : The Path To Inner Peace
Was digging and digging for a good slowdown track and picked up my copy of the ambitious "Vitalistics" album (which had never got a proper run) to search for something new to me and came out with this zen-flavoured beauty :) Finn (formerly of Katch 22) can be heard occasionally in the background of this one, but officially, the main production is credited to Tunde Jegede, who plays multiple instruments and is also a classical composer, amongst other things. Helped along with the heavy kick drum and a much lighter touch on the snare, unplug from the rest of the world to listen to this one...
Questionmark Asylum : Hey Lookaway
A quiet little 90s gem! This tune blew up on the low at the time but the crew pretty much dropped off the radar shortly afterwards - still, one hit is more than most aspiring musicians ever make! This four-man group came out of Washington DC, which was mostly known for go-go, and represented for their city well. Unfortunately, crew member Ding Ding passed away a few years ago, and as far as I know, none of the others are active musically. As far as this tune, they kick a laid-back, almost sing-songy style over a beat based around the well-used "Thoughts Of An Old Flame" sample - perfect backing.
Rithma : (The Only) Dark In The Light (Steve Sampling Mix)
I think this was another late-night, insomnia-fuelled discovery on internet radio - all about the deep, rich bass and lead synth line, this is just beautiful production work. I got this download from the Om Lounge 15th Anniversary collection, and on the strength of this might just buy the whole thing!
Boot Camp Clik : Casualties Of War
For the longest, I wanted to start an episode with the Snowgoons/Smif-n-Wessun track of the same name, and then end it with this one on which they also feature; mission accomplished! A producer called Marvel brings the beat (including the fantastic no-words changeup between verses) and the MC roster for this track (Tek, Bukshot, Rustee Juxx, Steele) take turns to drop heartfelt lyrics of war, fallen loved ones, and struggle. From the BCC album of the same name, this makes a great episode closer - I don't think there's anything you could play after it.
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!