Jan 31, 2017
"...make you feel as if the Bill of Rights was counterfeit."
- Cuban Link
This month has just been hitting us over the head with "WTF?" moments on a daily basis, but in between I managed to put the show together - as you can tell, the finishing touches only made it in close to the end-of-month buzzer! While this is an all-Hip-Hop episode, I feel fairly confident that there won't be many people who know every track, so there'll be at least one new gem here for everyone. Let's run down this month's crate excavations...
Fat Joe ft. The Terror Squad : The Hidden Hand
It's bleak, but it's life. The whole Terror Squad weigh in on this cinematic cut (produced by Spunk Bigga) from the "Don Cartagena" album. Packed with cautionary tales, observations on the state of society, and ending with a touch of advice, this very much has the air of the person that's been through a lot trying to stop someone else going down the same road. In my opinion, this is a very much underrated deep album cut.
Oddisee : No Rules For Kings (Inst)
From the "The Beauty In All" album we get this lovely instrumental, heavy on the cymbals and drum fills.
3rd Bass : Gladiator
I've just realised that I've only played 3rd Bass once before on the podcast, so there are some great tracks in their small catalogue still for me to share with you. Here's one I think you probably won't know - their contribution to the soundtrack of the 1992 boxing-themed film "Gladiator". DJ Daddy Rich makes the beat boom, and whoever it is on the hook is battling me in the low voice stakes :)
J-Live : Worlds Apart
"The white man's burden still the brown man's backache"? That's just fire. The amount of clever, insightful quotes on this track is just unbelievable. It's well worth sitting and listening carefully to this one a few times - nothing but facts right here from J-Live on this Oddisee-produced piece from his "Around The Sun" album.
Melanin 9 ft. Roc Marciano : White Russian
Melanin 9 is a UK MC who had somehow escaped my notice up to now but I stumbled upon this track with Long Island's street rhyme specialist Roc Marciano and knew I had to include it! The production by Anatomy channels the feel of the SP1200/S950 90s golden age; I love it, apart from the awkward 5-bar intro ;) Melanin and Roc go stream-of-consciousness in fine style on this one, taken from the "Magna Carta" LP.
Apollo Brown & Skyzoo ft. Joell Ortiz : A Couple Dollars
"The Easy Truth" was one of the picks of 2016 and the combination of Skyzoo, a real lyric fan's choice, and Apollo Brown's soulful production is a match made in Hip-Hop heaven. Adding Joell Ortiz to this story of the lure of money when you start off broke just takes the track over the top. The album is definitely worth checking!
Kappah : Supafly
Kappah from the Beatfonics crew flips some Curtis Mayfield inside out right here and adds some solid bass underneath for a highlight from the "Beatxploitation" beat tape. Heavy business as usual coming out of Italy.
Nas : Thief's Theme
A dark favourite, and an appropriate one as we see the dawn of a new kleptocracy! This was a great single from the "Street's Disciple" album - there might have been a radio mix, but you couldn't call this a radio record. Salaam Remi harnesses the "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" sample (as played by the Incredible Bongo Band) while Nas goes full crime rhyme for three verses - and on the hook, re-using some of his own famous lines from "The World Is Yours". The video for this one is well worth a watch too!
Camp Lo : A Piece Of The Action
The recently released "On The Way Uptown" is the demo album Camp Lo recorded that got them their record deal and paved the way for the classic "Uptown Saturday Night". Well worth picking up if you're a fan, as you can hear early versions of some tracks that made the official album as well as others that were borrowed from or reworked. There's also a scattering of "lost tracks", and what later became B-sides. This tune, I believe, has been out on white label but is a tough one to get so I was very happy to find it included. Geechi and Sonny Cheeba showcase their back-and-forth skills on a great foreshadowing of killer records to come, while Ski gives us some boom-bap drums over a cleverly-chopped, sneaky sampling of a jazz classic. Heavyweight.
Talib Kweli : Gutter Rainbows
I think the world "lush" would fit this one when it comes to the production! M-Phazes brings a dramatic 70s flair to the title track to Talib's 2011 album, and Talib sounds thoroughly amped to be on it. You've all seen a gutter rainbow in the literal sense - the colours formed when oil spills onto the street, and while Kweli does point to that in the lyrics he also gives a more poetic alternative definition.
Pete Rock ft. Little Brother and Joe Scudda : Bring Y'all Back
"...catch a fist and a elbow"...Richard Spencer, come on down! Three very dope verses from LB and Joe Scudda over a Pete Rock beat; I think Phonte's is my favourite, but you can't go wrong with any of the three. Check this one on Pete Rock's third producer-driven compilation, "NY's Finest".
[Context] Maylay Sparks : Legacy (Inst)
One of those random independent 12"s that makes a DJs vinyl collection individual, rather than just an "essential hits" compilation! Context of the Danish crew "Nobody Beats The Beats" provides a quintessentially early-2000s instrumental.
WC & The MAAD Circle : Ghetto Serenade
RIP DJ Crazy Toones. This is a beat I've always loved since I heard it on MTV back in the day, and as Toones had his hands in the production (alongside Sir Jinx and Chilly Chill), I thought this was a good time to play the track. This is played from the 12" single which is itself taken from the 1991 "Ain't A Damn Thang Changed" album. You may not find the story as told by WC to your taste, but you can't deny that funk!
Main Source : Atom
Taking it back to '89, we have one of the first recordings from the Main Source crew. This is the B-side of the "Think" single and for me, a perfect case of "B Side Wins Again"! The mixing and engineering was done by the legendary Paul C, who sadly would be killed before Main Source released their debut "Breaking Atoms" album; his influence lived on, and not just in the name of Large Professor's publishing company.
Mega Ran & Storyville ft. Wise Intelligent : I Know Who I Am
It's been great over the last couple of years to see Mega Ran's profile climbing. He's an extremely talented artist and on the "Soul Veggies" album he reunited with long-time friend Storyville, who both took the mic and produced on the project. For this knowledge-packed track, it was only right that both of them connected with Wise Intelligent of the Poor Righteous Teachers; in fact, it was actually him who got on the DJ Seedless track first and then brought them in! The production is funky, jazzy, African...the whole pot, a perfect home for some excellent rhymes.
DJ Quik ft. Mausberg and James DeBarge : Change Da Game
The "Balance & Options" album from the legendary Compton DJ/MC is a must-own for me, with some absolute killers on it - this one being the opening, a statement of intent from Quik and the late Mausberg. The timing and dynamics on the rhythm part of the track gives it a certain bounce that is harder to duplicate than your average beatmaker might think, and as always with Quik, the musicianship is right there for you to appreciate.
[DJ Premier] Gang Starr : Skills (Instrumental)
You could do a mix of just DJ Premier instrumentals and it'd be a satisfying hour! This is from the 12", one of the four singles from "The Ownerz", the final Gang Starr album. Check the full version if you don't already know it - personally, I'm really missing that trademark Guru monotone style.
Heltah Skeltah ft. Starang Wondah & Doc Holiday : I Ain't Havin' That
I decided to finish the episode on a seriously energetic note, with this banging track getting a well-deserved outing. The Boot Camp crew rip the beat from A Tribe Called Quest's "Hot Sex" and you can almost hear them falling all over each other to get their rhymes in - the session in D&D Studios must have been insane! Topping it off with the Redman sample from "Pick It Up" just seals the deal. This is a 12" well worth having but you can also find the track on the "Magnum Force" album.
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!