Sun, 29 November 2015
"Use our music to get by."
At times like these, you have to take your comforts where you can find them, and hopefully this month's mix can be a part of that. The month did have one highlight for me - I finally got to see the Zapp Band live in concert, after about thirty years of waiting for an opportunity! As such, I've decided to make them and some of the records that sample them the focus, but not exclusive content, of this episode. As usual, some you'll probably know straight off and some you won't, but I think the selection has come together nicely.
Zapp & Roger : Living For The City
Heavy in all senses - serious content and kicking on the low end. The Zapp band have a tradition of interesting covers going back to Roger's take on "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (which was partly intended to help people understand talkbox-recorded vocals), and this was one of their last while he was still with us. I think it's a great re-work of the classic Stevie Wonder record, miles away sonically and also changing the lyrical emphasis slightly by leaving out the final verse, which was often dropped from radio play anyway. As far as I knew, this was only available on "The Compilation - Greatest Hits II And More", which is where this version comes from, but it apparently also got a promo single release with several remixes. I'm making no guarantees you won't hear one of those in the future.
Oddisee : Inglewood
He may be from the DMV, but Oddisee knows his West Coast funk! One of the many ill beats on his "Oddisee West Coast Beats" beat tape.
Redman ft. Erick Sermon : Funkorama (Double Green Remix)
"...the first one to bring the Zapp clap to rap" - Erick Sermon certainly has a strong claim. There's a subtle little sample in this tune, but it's just one element of this very satisfyingly chunky remix. Tucked away as the final track on the flip of L.O.D's "I Feel It" single, this was a tune I'd not heard for years until I got the 12" this month. Redman is still very much active and skilled, but it's still nice to go back and hear him wrecking the mic as a younger man! If you want to hear the original version, that and the L.O.D track are on Erick Sermon's "Insomnia" compilation.
L.E.G.A.C.Y : Nice
So many quotables that could easily have been the epigram for the month. "Seed made from a bad poppy". The Konami code. "Agony of the heat, carry the torch on". Legacy manages to sound thoroughly dismissive of anyone competing with him on the mic, and spits some great bars in his cause on this lead track from the "Project Mayhem" LP. There is a 12" release of this single, but the sound quality is pretty bad - I've got it but ended up using an MP3 here. Khrysis is on the boards (with the heat, as he would say), and the beat has a nice shuffle to it - check the changing volume and pitch on the shaker pattern, and the relaxed timing on the snare/clap sounds. The topper is the Greg Nice sample on the hook - one of the most distinctive voices in Hip-Hop history brought into play!
Tall Black Guy : I Wanna Play Summthin' For You
If you're a regular listener, you know how much I rate Tall Black Guy, and admire his consistency. I was flicking through his Bandcamp page at the few things I didn't already have, and found this on his "Hollyweird 2.0" album. That bass line should give you all the good feelings, and the piano samples and keyboard work float nicely over the top. Also, those claps...big.
Ahmad fr. Roger Troutman : The Jones'
Straight up - it was the Roger Troutman guest appearance, not the big single "Back In The Day" that made me pick up this album, probably 1995. It's that same cassette I dug out of the shoeboxes to sample and play for this episode. Granted, the hook could have done with a bit less repetition - Ahmad does wear it out a bit - but Roger's accompaniment is absolutely worth the price of admission. On the whole though, I definitely rate this track. The Ahmad and Kendal beat is dope, and on the mic Ahmad has a vocal tone somewhere between Hiero and Das EFX.
Jake One : Computro Love
This was originally going to be the instrumental bed for the first voiceover this month, until I realised that the speed change halfway through made it ideal to bridge between the first and second mix segments of the show! It makes no secret of the fact that it's a flip of Zapp's hit single "Computer Love" (which presaged internet dating by more than ten years), but the divide means you actually get two different constructions from the same track. You can get Jake's "Seaplane" beat tape free on Soundcloud, and you really should - he's an excellent producer.
Keith Murray : Danger
Another Erick Sermon production, another Zapp sample, this time in the background on the hook. Last track on the A-side of Murray's 1994 debut "The Most Beautifullest Thing In This World", the sound quality of the pressing is every bit as bad as Jive were renowned for at the time. I gave it a bit of an EQ boost but it's still pretty sketchy!
Edo G : Let's Be Realistic
I once had a housemate who found it amusing how low-key Hip-Hop night names were; at the time, I was playing at one event called "Homegrown" and an associated night "Maintain". He'd have loved the title of this track :) Boston styles over Brooklyn beats, with DJ Spinna giving Edo a neck-snapper to get busy on. Sixteen years old now but still sounding great, you can get this on "Superrappin Vol.1" along with some other great examples of the underground flavour of the time.
De La Soul : The Pitch
Always a winning combination - De La Soul over J Dilla beats. If you want more - and you should, head straight to De La's website where the "Smell The D.A.I.S.Y (Da Inner Soul Of Yancey)" mixtape is available as a free download.
7 Days Of Funk : Do My Thang
I wouldn't blame anyone for not recognising the artist name here, but 7 Days is the combination of Pasadena's Dam-Funk, and Snoop Dogg (aka Snoopzilla); both artists have been dedicated to the funk on their very distinct career paths, and the union of the two came from real-life meeting and collaboration. Their eponymous debut is primarily influenced by the Parliament/Funkadelic style and the thump of the West Coast sound that went on to sample those records later. Only eight tracks long, but definitely worth a listen - top-down music!
BMB : CadillacLedy
I only heard of this Russian producer while looking up the credits for Dr Dre's "Compton" album, where a beat he'd originally done with DJ Premier made the cut, but then he popped up today while I was searching Bandcamp for "P-Funk". The "GP-Funk" EP is a very reasonably priced collection that shows that the funk can come from anywhere, as long as it's in your soul! The snare timing on this one is a little...laissez-faire, so it's not easy to mix perfectly, but the pure flavour of the track means I can't be too mad at that.
Roger : Breakthrough
Uptempo dance workout from Roger's final solo album, 1991's "Bridging The Gap". Just one thing to note on this track - is that mid-bass note at ??:?? supposed to be there, or do you think it's a mistake? It feels to me like either a mistake that sounds good and ended up being kept, or an absolute stroke of genius to know that just adding that one key hit would increase the funk level...
Compton's Most Wanted : I Don't Dance
I mentioned this track in the notes for Episode 56, and here it is at last! My man Nick L introduced me to this track way back when (well, some point after "Straight Checkn 'Em" was released in 1991) and it's a great mixture of the deadpan and the funky. You'll recognise a lot of well known samples in the mix, pretty much all notable for being big dance records, while Eiht lets us know how much he can't be bothered with actually getting on the floor himself. I wish I could communicate the vision I have in my head of him at the end of the first verse, in a daze watching an over-energetic mover :)
Public Enemy : 1 Million Bottlebags
The second I heard that a malt liquor company had sampled Chuck D's voice for an advert, I knew the thunder was coming right back at them; it was one of the most inappropriate sample uses of all time! He was well known for his criticism of these companies and their products, which were pointedly targeted at the Black community, and couldn't have his voice out there promoting them. This great album cut from "Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Black" leaves you in no doubt what Chuck thinks of the effects and marketing of malt liquor (for UK readers, our closest equivalent is something like the notorious Special Brew), and the Bomb Squad keep up the ferocity, backing him up with the "More Bounce To The Ounce"-sampling track.
Zapp : Mega Medley (with bonus beats)
Keeping that "More Bounce" groove going at the start, the Greg Beasley edit of some of Zapp & Roger's biggest hits first came to my attention on their "All The Greatest Hits" compilation, but this specific version with the extra drums at the end is a B-side from a 12" release - handy for DJs to blend over.
Nuyorican Soul : The Nervous Track
Struggled to find the right record to follow up with but I dug up this one and it offered the chance to blend out the "Mega Medley" drums just in time for this track's own drums to fade in - thought it was a nice little move! From the re-issue of the classic "Nuyorican Soul" LP, Masters At Work do a top job with the production on this; I didn't realise it, but apparently this was MAW's first track under the Nuyorican banner and preceded the original album by several years.
Dungeon Family : Follow The Light
I love the introductory words on this track, and while I originally had the idea of starting an episode with it, it fit in really well as a closer for this month. For those that don't know, the Dungeon Family is the Atlanta-based collective that spawned OutKast, Goodie Mob, and more - the "Dungeon" being the basement studio of producer Rico Wade from Organized Noize. Their "Even In Darkness" collaborative LP delivers many permutations of all the members over the course of the album, and this track features Big Boi, Big Gipp, Sleepy Brown, Cee-Lo, and Shuga Luv in fine form. A record absolutely worth picking up if you see 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!