Jan 31, 2014
"...and that's what's wrong."
- Bumpy Knuckles
¡Feliz año nuevo! Last month's episode was obviously a special one which called for a particular selection, so there were some killer tunes I couldn't use which I've brought into this one - then combined them with some extra quality material I've managed to get my hands on.
As mentioned on the voiceover, the podcast is now on TuneIn Radio - that link will allow you to stream any episode on your computer, but you should also be able to find me on the search if you use the Android or iOS mobile apps, a Sonos device, or anything else that allows streaming. Just one more way to get me, and makes it easy to send on to other people to check out (hint hint :) )
Ken Cheong / Jacques Slade : Never Die Intro
I wish I could find a video of the whole scene, but this will have to do! I was properly rolling the first time I saw this episode of Community, and was determined to use this part to kick off the show for 2014 :) The absurdity of the scene was indicated by the fact that this teacher had supposedly had a track created just for this occasion, and I was pleasantly surprised that you can actually buy the full version - "I Never Die" by the LA rapper Jacques Slade (or "Kustoo").
T-Love : Chiquita
A bit of forgotten - or maybe just never-quite-known - Dilla production for the first full track of the episode. T-Love is an LA-native MC who debuted in 2003 with her "Long Way Back" LP, the sampler 12" for which I got this tune from. The discography I can find has her last release in 2010, but this multi-talented woman (she also produces, and was hip-hop editor for Urb magazine) looks to still be active, especially helping other artists coming up. Love indeed!
[DJ Premier] DITC : Thick (Instrumental)
Some late-90s boom bap for you! The slight offbeat-ness of the preceding track makes the mix harder than it might otherwise be, but this one is as on the mark as they come. Got this on a 12" but it's also the first track on the debut posse album by DITC (well, the vocal version, as you'd expect).
Raekwon ft. Mink : Rap Killers
Been searching for this one for absolutely ages, since I heard a snippet of what turned out to be a slightly different version on the second of Raekwon's "Vatican" mixtapes. The French duo Jazz E Cut and Skeezo are behind the boards and their beat bumps along very nicely, with the guitar licks and occasional vocal sample adding the flavour to the rewind-worthy production. Raekwon gives you the crime rhymes, and Mink (who I think is one of his understudies) puts his two cents in - little bit of a mismatch though. Hope your enjoyment of this one matches my pleasure in finding it!
LL Cool J : Life As...
Why, why does this tune never get any burn? Always been a top LL track for me, some straight up hardness from the "Mr.Smith" album, which is overall a bit of a mixed bag. Easy Mo Bee kills it on the beat, arranging a couple of handfuls of tiny stabs alongside his drums and bass to give LL a suitably tough backing for this shortish track. Never worked out why it wasn't just called "Life Of..." though...
Ugly Heroes : Ugly
I only really discovered Apollo Brown when he did the "Trophies" album with O.C, but he's a busy guy for sure. His new collaboration with Chicago's Verbal Kent and fellow Detroit native Red Pill, "Ugly Heroes" came out around the middle of last year, but this bonus track was released online a bit later. Big blasting track with all three members killing the mic outrageously and DJ Eclipse of Non Phixion contributing the cuts. Nice bonus, so do check the album.
Alchemist ft. Littles : Block Value
I'd be surprised if many people know this one - I'm not sure it ever made it to an album. When you get Queensbridge's Littles on a track, you'd be pretty safe to bet your house on him getting on the crime tip, and this one is no exception. The Alchemist takes the opening horns from Kool Moe Dee's "Monster Crack" and puts together a sparse track to keep the focus in the foreground - most of the time there aren't more than two or maybe three things happening in the instrumental. You can get this on a 12" backed with Mobb Deep, Noyd, and Bars & Hooks' "More Like Us."
Kev Brown : Batida
The beat that grabbed me immediately from last year's "Songs Without Words," which I was checking on Spotify the other week. It reminds me a little of the flavour Pete Rock had on the "Petestrumentals" LP, and would blend beautifully with many of those tracks...just a tip for the bedroom DJs out there ;)
H.U.G : Rebel Radio
A healthy helping of strings from the MPC of J-Zone, who has one of the most unique styles of anyone ever to do it. H.U.G (or Huggy Bear) came out of Zone's camp and rides his beats effortlessly, with this being a prime example. You can get this on the B-side of the "Fuckin Wit Hug" 12" if you look around.
Bumpy Knuckles : Somn'wrong
Been playing this soooo much this month. Bumpy is holding court on the BS he sees in the rap game - a topic he does well - but also puts in the work on the production. This beat is serious, with that snapping and trapping drum track, and all sorts going on in the bass area; the pitch bends and slides make it extra ill. Grab this on Bumpy's "The Mix Files" EP, and turn it up!
Inspectah Deck : Trouble Man
This one gives me that real "Rotten Apple," grimy New York feeling. From Deck's first solo "Uncontrolled Substance," he gives us the thoughts of the man on the street going through it. Pete Rock cooks up the beat, chopping up some vintage Isaac Hayes, and the Sade-borrowed hook has Vinia Mojica making a quick guest appearance. A little buried on the album, but pride of place here!
Roc Marciano ft. Ka & Guilty Simpson : Squeeze
Another track that got a lot of headphone time for me this month. Roc has a knack for the unusual when it comes to production, and this track is a great example - hardly any drums, but hitting the snare drum on the first beat of every bar. Lyrically, it's the street business Roc is a prime exponent of, and his regular collaborator Ka helps out in his incredibly low-key style. Guilty Simpson is the surprise guest; he doesn't have the same kind of quiet flow as the other two, but still turns in a great verse. Easily my favourite track from the "Marci Beaucoup" LP.
[DJ Slip & The Unknown DJ] Compton's Most Wanted : Compton's Lynchin' (Instrumental)
Straight gangster funk on this instrumental version of a track from the "Straight Checkn 'Em" LP, which is an underrated West Coast classic. Get that one for the title track and the hilarious "I Don't Dance," which will surely make a podcast appearance at some point in the future! CMW (led by MC Eiht) were always a quality act but often overlooked (certainly in the UK) as "just another Compton group," which I thought was very unfair. Credit where it's due though - I first heard them on Pete Tong's radio show!
Talib Kweli : Inner Monologue
Half of Black Star, half of Reflection Eternal returns with his new album "Gravitas" which just came out last month. I'm actually not the biggest Talib fan usually but picked this independent release (at a very reasonable price) up to support and was pleased with it! This is the opener, with Talib spitting on what he observes in the current state of the industry over a Khrysis beat. The album is only available through his website, so head over there to get the whole thing!
Naledge ft. Brandun Deshay, J Davey, & Geechi Suede : Pearl Heist
Can't even remember how I stumbled on this one but this space-age thump and bass number from "Chicago Picasso 2" is alright with me :) You might know Naledge from Kidz In The Hall, and he brings along his partner from that group (Double-O) to do the honours on production. Subject matter is kind of all over the place, but it's all about the flavour here really - especially with Geechi Suede cleaning up on the last verse.
Zero 7 : Pop Art Blue
Probably one of the more popular tracks from the "Yeah Ghost" album; I was lucky enough to hear this one live in concert before the album came out. A bit of a folk-flavoured number, with Martha Tilston on the vocals and the production centering around plenty of brush action on the drums. I've had it on the list of things to play for a while, not sure if it was too much of a left turn here but hopefully it doesn't lose you!
Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip : We Taking Off
If this doesn't sound like a natural combination to you, you must have forgotten "Scenario," to name but one! One of the few brand new tracks from the new "The Abstract & The Dragon" mixtape which rounds up some of their greatest collaborations from over the years and adds on a few new gems. You can get the tape for free, so what are you waiting for?
Gang Starr : Say Your Prayers (Instrumental)
Instrumental of one of the short tracks from the classic sophomore album "Step In The Arena," just something that fit nicely here. You're supposed to know that album, by the way :)
Ronny Jordan : Keep Your Head Up
An uplifting selection from a gifted musician who passed away this month, taken from his "Off The Record" LP. Nu Colours' vocalist Faye Simpson gives voice to the sentiment, and Ronny Jordan gets busy with his funky guitar licks in the band. On production, he has a couple of quality guys to help shape the vision - James Poyser (from the Soulquarians collective, and also sunny Sheffield) and Vikter Duplaix. Much respect!
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!