Wed, 31 August 2016
"You get that, money?"
- Sean Price
Back with another episode, fresh off a trip to the Mecca of Hip-Hop, New York City! I didn't pick up any new vinyl on the trip but I did get a bunch of inspiration for the selection this month - I think you'll enjoy it. As promised, here are some of my photos from NYC, and here is a full album just of the Tools Of War Diggers Delight jam - it deserved its own extended coverage!
Cam'ron ft. Jay-Z and Juelz Santana: Welcome To New York City
Well, when else was I going to get the chance to start an episode with this? :) Big track from the "Come Home With Me" album, with a triumphant and defiant tone, especially in the wake of the World Trade Center attack that happened less than a year before. Just Blaze, then in his early days with Roc-A-Fella, absolutely kills the production on this, giving it a tone like something from a bombastic sportscast theme. And that 80s hair metal singer on the hook? That's him too.
Pro P : Cops and Robbers
One of the foremost Manchester producers for that boom-bap sound, Pro P brought it once again on his "Street Life Beat Tape". He stays knocking out the work - you'll have heard earlier work on past episodes.
Sean Price ft. Starang Wonder and Steele : Shakedown
Unapologetic roughness from the late, great Sean P's solo debut, "Monkey Barz", with three Boot Camp Clik MCs dropping some straight street talk. One bit of trivia for you; I've heard this same verse used on a separate guest appearance (recorded previously, I assume), and the sound of prison bars closing in the first verse is actually the censoring out of the name of a prominent industry figure...I think you can guess who if you think about it! Star.com and Justice are on production, basing their beat around those plucked strings and slow, pounding drums. Listen out for the bass as well; it's barely a bassline, just a low drone that gets turned up on the second beat of each two-bar phrase - but it's the perfect menacing undertone.
M.O.P. ft. Mr Probz : Hustle
Been playing this track a fair bit this month and it just so happened to fit well into this spot. Lil Fame and Billy Danze are kind of reflective here, but they never take that energy out of their deliveries! They definitely elevate the Beat Butcha instrumental, and while it may not be to everyone's taste, I think the slightly-autotuned hook by Mr Probz absolutely works here. This is the second time we've visited the "Street Certified" album, and there are a good few more solid tracks to find on that release.
Stephen Marley ft. Rakim and Kardinal Offishall : So Unjust
A recent release I thought you'd appreciate; a rare Rakim appearance on the new Marley album "Revelation Pt.II : The Fruit Of Life", speaking righteousness alongside Toronto's Kardinal Offishall, a man who excels at the nexus of reggae and Hip-Hop. This track apparently started with more of a Hip-Hop lean but was reworked into the shape you hear here; maybe in the future we'll hear it as a remix?
Sister Nancy : Bam Bam
One of the all-time classic reggae singles! Sister Nancy was one of the first, if not the first dancehall DJs (MC, to you) to emerge, and one who has worked with some of the great producers and sound systems. This track has been so ever-present, I was really surprised to find it was only released in 1982! It rides on the late Winston Riley's classic "Stalag Riddim", which has been so heavily recorded on and sampled that I bet most listeners will recognise it, and Nancy's voice cuts through on the high end - you might recognise that too.
Gladiator : Run To Me
Another trip to the "Smooth Grooves Beat Tape" by The Beat Tape project; I don't have much info on Gladiator, but s/he did a good job here!
DJ Spinna ft. Phonte : Intergalactic Soul
I was scratching my head trying to work out what the following track reminded me of, and this was my closest pick. The sound of it fits the title perfectly, and it's the title track from DJ Spinna's second solo album (don't forget his Jigmastas work). The bar count is a little unusual for Hip-Hop, but Phonte handles it with no problem, and he's gone on to show he can rhyme on pretty much anything. A lot of the album is more uptempo, but this is a tasty headnodder.
The Mouse Outfit ft. Truthos Mufasa and Black Josh : Sit Back (Sivey Remix)
The Mouse Outfit have a remix LP coming out in October and they kindly gave me an advance listen and permission to share a little something with you! Manchester's Sivey works a little magic on a cut from the "Escape Music" LP, spacing it out and giving it even more of an explicitly live feel. The full remix project is one to grab - you heard that here first :)
Scritti Politti : Die Alone
From the "Anomie & Bonhomie" LP, which was laden with Hip-Hop influences and artists, we carry on that live feel but with more of a straightforward head-nod rhythm driving things. The album credits don't say who's on each track, so I'm not sure who's rhyming, but they mesh well with Green Gartside's vocal interjections. He's got one of the most unique voices in music, and if he was to collaborate with more people, I wouldn't mind at all...
Slum Village ft. J.Isaac and Kurupt : It'z Your World
This is a track that's always been a personal favourite but which I've never heard outside my own selection! This is on the "Prequel To A Classic" LP, and is a real standout on there. Production is by J Dilla and Young RJ, bridging the original lineup and the changes that came after Dilla's passing, and it's just...so dope. J.Isaac is from Minneapolis and released just one LP, 2002's "Marriage Material" - so you could be forgiven for not being familiar. He's kind of animated vocally but I think it's a nice offset to the track, which isn't particularly busy. Kurupt puts in a short guest appearance, with Slum bringing him back after his verse on "Forth & Back" from "Fantastic, Vol.2".
Charlie : Mr Trustmaker
Taking it to Italy with this nice piece from Charlie of the Beatfonics Crew - this particular project based around the work of Bobby Hutcherson, who sadly passed away this month. At only one Euro for the whole thing, it's well worth picking up!
Masters Of Illusion ft. Kool Keith : The Bay-Bronx Bridge
Modern(ish) retro stylings here, from the 2000 "Masters Of Illusion" LP. Kutmasta Kurt cooks up a beat that could easily been on the Ultramagnetic MCs' 1988 "Critical Beatdown", and Motion Man's verse is very much a homage to Kool Keith; in fact, one part is a rework of a piece from "Ease Back". Keith himself comes in for the second verse and is definitely in fine form!
Future Troubles and Merciless : Man A Thug
Big dancehall favourite for me! I first heard this in the early 2000s, blended with the instrumental of Missy Elliott's "She's A Bitch", which sounded incredible - but I can't be a biter and do the same blend here! The late E.J. Robinson puts down a heavy riddim for the tag team to get busy on, and they do it justice. Picked this up this year on 7" and had to share it with you.
Eric B & Rakim : Lyrics Of Fury
Probably the most sampled drum break in Hip-Hop history combined with some furious guitars from Funkadelic on this microphone throwdown from the god MC. If you're new-ish to Hip-Hop you may be hearing this for the first time - in which case, do yourself a favour and check the whole "Follow The Leader" album.
Hijack : Brother Versus Brother
Hijack are apparently releasing a new album within the next year, roughly 25 years on from the much-respected "The Horns Of Jericho" LP, from which we take this selection. Kamanchi Sly just brims over with indignance and frustration on this one, over a suitably urgent backing. A vintage bit of UK Hip-Hop!
Kwanzaa Posse : Wicked Funk
I don't know anything about this act unfortunately, but this is a nice bit of sample stew I first heard on a Martin Brew mixtape! Even the casual diggers amongst you will recognise some bits...
Marvin Gaye : Trouble Man
A classic bit of Marvin, the title track from the soundtrack of the Robert Hooks-starring 1972 Blaxploitation film. It's one of the vocal numbers which focuses on the main character, but the soundtrack is largely instrumental, with Marvin playing more instruments than many would expect! There's a whole backstory to the recording here that's well worth reading.
Has-Lo : Hindsight (Apollo Brown Mix)
I think that one of Spotify's recommendation playlists brought this track to my attention, so apologies if it was actually one of you! Short in the way that frustrates you, this is just fantastic. An Apollo Brown-remixed version (from the "Conversation B" album) of "Limit" from Has-Lo's "In Case I Don't Make It", it starts off with a long uninterrupted sample from Marvin Gaye's classic "Trouble Man" before looping it up perfectly under some heavy-yet-understated drums and on top of a nice bit of sub-bass. Philadelphia Hip-Hop is often overlooked (except perhaps for The Roots), but Has-Lo represents for his city here with some low-key quality MCing.
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!