Sun, 30 October 2016
"Penitentiary's the plan to plant the new plantation."
I'm currently getting ready to relocate the podcast studio but still got this episode out on time. Round of applause? As the autumn begins, the feel starts to get a little darker - not a full-on Halloween episode, but touching on everything from zombies to the upcoming US election (well, kind of) and finishing with a track from a long-time supporter of the show!
As promised, here are some charities helping Hurricane Matthew victims;
Shows to make this month;
Flatbush Zombies : Thug Waffle
Suitably Halloween-themed first artist? The man you hear on the intro, Agent J was the man who introduced me to this one! As you'd expect from their name, the Zombies hail from the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, and have been releasing music since 2012. No strangers to psychedelics, their debut mixtape was entitled "D.R.U.G.S", and "Thug Waffle" was their debut video. Lyrically, it's on some straight drug business - from the consumer end - and Erick Arc Elliot's production is bassy, dark and trippy in terms of sonics but tightly-timed. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's just one that grabbed my ears!
Kuartz : Night Train
This man just keeps pumping out the beats! March this year saw the release of his "The Tormented Revenge of Slick Jnr" instrumentals on which this track appears, worth checking out over on Bandcamp. This guy must have disk after disk of unheard material...may have to ask for a crafty listen!
Agallah : Propain Campaign Election
There isn't ever going to be another month in the future where this song will fit any better. I do like this record, it's a strange one - it's like they just crowbarred as many political references (accurate or not) as possible into a street record! Released just as Bush's presidency ended and Obama's began, the "Agobama" mixtape is politically-tinged all the way through, and on this cut Agallah's production fits perfectly, coming off like a Hip-Hop version of a news theme. I'd like to credit all the MCs here, but the copy I have of this tape doesn't have full credits and even searching the web isn't turning up much. Oh, one last thing; yes - Agallah called President Obama that several years before Larry Wilmore, but I dare say considerably after many Republicans would have done the same in an entirely less affectionate fashion...
Curren$y & Alchemist : 500 Pounds Of Gas
Just a short number, but I love the feeling. Alchemist digs down to give Spitta Andretti something sinister on this selection from the "Carrolton Heist" mixtape, something like if John Carpenter met Lord Finesse!
Travis Barker ft. The Cool Kids : Jump Down
Big up DJ A-Up for putting me up on this one a while back! For those who don't know, Travis Barker is the drummer from Blink-182, and while they may be on the punk vibe Travis is known to dabble in the Hip-Hop world. His "Give The Drummer Some" (good title!) debut solo LP sees him collaborating with a wide range of Hip-Hop artists, and right here he lays his drums down behind the Midwest's BMX bandits The Cool Kids. On the rest of the production, he manages to craft a track that fits them perfectly without actually biting their style - nice job.
The Mouse Outfit ft. Fox : Wrap Another Zoot (remix)
With their new remix album hitting the streets, I thought I'd play a Mouse Outfit cut which has been re-imagined by some solid guys on the Manchester scene, Band and Nymad. Jim Bane is a D&B DJ and producer who has been putting in work for years, and he got the green light from Chini to put together a new version of this cut from the "Step Steadier" LP. He and Nymad have crafted a track that you might have described as laid back if it weren't for the highly complex drum programming, blending electronic and acoustic sounds deftly. Also, being a DJ, I need to make sure the scratching gets recognised - like a chef with the salt, Jesterman adds just the right amount! Fox is a highly-versatile vocalist who does his thing over all kinds of beats, and this is a winning combination.
Jel : Special
If you are or have been a fan of the Anticon side of things, you might be familiar with Jel as a producer - he's done tracks for Atmosphere, Sole, and Sage Francis amongst others. He debuted as a solo artist with the "10 Seconds" album, a love letter to the SP-1200 drum sampler, back in 2001. The title itself refers to the total sample time on the machine, and each track is named after a control or function on it. This one happens to have a most fitting title as it's a clear standout, with Jel showing off his drum programming over a reggae-rooted groove.
Dr. Dre : Deep Cover (Instrumental)
This is one of the all-time great beats, thought I'd go do a little Halloween scratching on it before letting the whole track go!
Dr. Dre introducing Snoop Doggy Dogg : Deep Cover
Here we go with the full version, a hugely important single - Dre's first after leaving NWA, and the title track to the soundtrack for the Fishburne/Goldblum film of the same name. Few knew what to expect beforehand but from those first bass notes on the intro crackling into my room via the pirate radio, I knew it was a killer. This was Snoop's first on-record appearance, and in an era before Youtube - or even widespread MTV - we had no idea what this mysterious new MC looked like. As it turns out, he was about a foot taller than I imagined :) The voice he came with was quite unlike anyone we'd heard before, and as good as he was, there was little clue that the guest MC on the record would reach the heights he has! Apparently this was going to be on "The Chronic", but with the then-controversy around Body Count's "Cop Killer", I guess a track with a hook of "1-8-7 on an undercover cop" was considered a little too much...
Clear Soul Forces ft. Brogainz : Won Too
This one has missed the cut for a few episodes in a row but finally it finds a sonically-fitting place here. A one-off bonus cut available on Bandcamp, the Ilajide-produced beat bumps along really nicely and the on the mic...these Detroit MCs are showing off their skills for real.
Naughty By Nature : Chain Remains
This has always been a favourite of mine from the "Poverty's Paradise" album, essentially a Treach solo track where laments how many Black people are in prison and draws an explicit connection from slavery to modern-day incarceration. An extra-poignant note is added by having the voices of actual inmates played on the track between the verses; whenever I hear it, I always wonder what ended up happening to them.
dead prez : Behind Enemy Lines
Keeping the theme going from the previous track, we head to dead prez' 2000 debut "Let's Get Free". The strong opening verse makes specific reference to the jailed son of the Black Panther Fred Hampton, who was himself killed by the police & FBI (the recent film "13th" goes into some of the detail). As a whole, the track offers DPs perspective on the prison-industrial complex in general, an example of how someone with few options might find themselves there, and the impact on families. I think this is the perfect month to give this an airing.
Gaelle : Haiti (Interlude)
A gentle little instrumental from the very enjoyable "Transient" album, with Eddie "Ede" Wright taking the starring position on the guitar.
MC Trouble : Blackline
For all the enormous contributions Motown have made to Black music, they've never been a big player when it comes to Hip-Hop. They found a promising artist in the young MC Trouble, who released her debut and only album "Gotta Get A Grip" in 1990, only for us to lose her tragically only a year later at just 21 after an epileptic seizure triggered a fatal heart attack. This was easily my favourite cut from her album, conscious lyrics with an effective take on the "news interview" style. RIP Trouble.
Michael Jackson : Rock With You
One of Rod Temperton's many classics, and putting it into the hands of Michael Jackson allowed the song to be taken to the heights it needed to be at. Not much I can say about this that hasn't been said before, but make sure you have the "Off The Wall" album in your collection!
Patti Austin : Oh No Margarita
Rod Temperton did do some writing on this album, but not this track - however, I came up with the transition from "Rock With You" to this a long while back and the opportunity came up to do it for you! Patti Austin is a truly great artist who has turned her skills to soul/R&B, pop, and jazz over a career that started in the late 1960s. She has worked extensively with Quincy Jones and he's the man helming the production on this 1981 album, "Every Home Should Have One" - if we're talking about copies of the record, I agree wholeheartedly! This track was written by Patti Austin with Michael Boddicker and it's kind of an R&B-jazz fusion, with the jazz element most explicit when the track breaks down to a crazy rhythm part way through. I forgot about that when I played this in a bar once :)
Big Daddy Kane : I Get The Job Done
Always a pain when the snare drums on the track are double-hitting and make it sound like your mixing is off! Anyway, we keep it 80s with this cut from the second BDK album, "It's A Big Daddy Thing" where the topic is a staple for Kane - how he gets down with the ladies. Production comes courtesy of the New Jack Swing legend Teddy Riley; I would have said originator, but let's not forget Jam & Lewis' work a few years before that really fed into the sound. You can certainly hear his signature all over this one, and even though I was never much of an NJS fan I do love this track.
[Sean C & LV] Busta Rhymes : Don't Touch Me (Instrumental)
Drum madness all over this one! Originally recorded for Busta Rhymes' "Back On My B.S." album, it was for some reason omitted from the final release - a shame, as it was making some decent noise when people first heard it, and it's an obvious single. I picked this up on 12" and it should still be available fairly inexpensively. I may play the vocal version for you sometime in the future!
DJ Woody : Ready For War
It's been a long time coming, but the highly-respected turntablist and no-fader scratch legend DJ Woody has finally released his debut LP, "The Point Of Contact". I jumped on it early to get one of the limited number of vinyls, but the digital download version is an absolute bargain. The link I just posted has a way better write-up of the production process than I could give you, but it's been a process of going back and forth with other instrumentalists to create the final product, and it works really well. This particular track is fittingly kind of hectic with a real ominousness to it, and perfectly-chosen samples are scratched as expertly as you'd expect. Big up Woody!
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!