Wed, 29 March 2017
"...yo' ass lie like the president!"
- Ice Cube
This month marks twenty years since the death of Biggie Smalls - and yet it somehow doesn't feel like that long ago. The B.I.G man's influence still looms large over the culture and this show is no exception. Several Biggie tracks and others inspired by him dot the episode, alongside choices from the discographies of the late Phife and Nate Dogg. Besides those, a few classics and some fairly modern gems you may have missed!
Catch me DJing at Eastern Bloc Records on April 22nd for Record Store Day and then stay out for their big party in the evening! Just over a week later, check DJ Andy Smith at Whiskey Jar for a Sunday night session :)
Twitter : @airadam13
Ice Cube ft. Chris Rock : You Ain't Gotta Lie (Ta Kick It)
The way things are right now, I should do a whole mixtape strictly on the subject of lying! Chris Rock was an inspired choice to guest on this track from "War & Peace Vol.2 (The Peace Disc)" for the adlibs, while Cube just goes in with venom on an assortment of unnamed dishonest people. Production comes from Chucky Thompson of The Hitmen, and it does have a little of that Bad Boy flavour - you could imagine someone like The Lox on this beat back in the day.
Da Beatminerz : Bentleys & Bitches (Instrumental)
Tough beat right here from instrumental version the "Brace 4 Impak" LP (can't believe it's 16 years old this year!) - definitely an album to have in the collection if the ruggedness is what you seek.
ODB : Hippa To Da Hoppa
Two short verses of battle rhymes in Dirty's own truly inimitable style :) I don't play much ODB here somehow, but he was an MC unlike any other. This isn't one of the most often heard tracks from "Return To The 36 Chambers : The Dirty Version", but it popped into my head as one to bring out this month. The beat was one that RZA had in his archives and that Dirty had mentally bookmarked for himself when the time was right.
Lords Of The Underground : Chief Rocka
I was well pleased to be able to cut this in and have it rhyme with the hook of the preceding track! A classic Hip-Hop single out of Newark, New Jersey, with K-Def on production. This is the video version, taken from the 12" single, with the original of course being available on the "Here Come The Lords" LP. This tune is quality all the way through, but we don't quite make it to the end of the third verse, because it made sense to loop up a notable Mr.Funkee line and then come in with...
The Notorious B.I.G. : Machine Gun Funk
...a track which happens to use it as a hook! The 1-2-3 combo on "Ready To Die" of "Things Done Changed", "Gimme The Loot", and "Machine Gun Funk" is phenomenal, but this is still an underrated cut in my opinion. Easy Mo Bee contributed an absolutely cracking beat, and Biggie's rhymes are enough for his son to rate this as maybe his favourite from the catalogue. Pure fire.
Mary J. Blige ft. The Notorious B.I.G. : Real Love (Remix)
If you weren't around at the time, it's hard to communicate how revolutionary this was. Hip-Hop and R&B were very separate things back then, and it was people like the Harlem DJ Ron G with his innovative and influential blend tapes who showed the possibilities of combining the two. When Puff Daddy (now P.Diddy) went to Uptown Records, he masterminded producing that kind of combination to the studio, and the "What's The 411? (Remix)" album is one of the most well-known examples. Ron G is actually on the intro to this track (just before the part I start playing from), but Puffy and Daddy-O (of Stetsasonic) are credited with the Hip-Hop-heavy production, blending several classic samples together to give Mary a fitting backing - which also works brilliantly for Biggie, when he comes in.
[Buckwild] Sadat X : The Lump Lump (Instrumental)
Classic boom-bap from 1996, Buckwild's bumping instrumental for the Sadat X track discussing... adventures about town. This was a quality single from the "Wild Cowboys" LP - remember when a tune like this could be a club banger?
Curren$y ft. Nate Dogg & Nijay Sincere : Let's Get It Crackin'
This has one of those hooks that just sticks in your head - Nate Dogg can do that to you. Just know that you cannot sing like him :) Anyway, this is kind of an interesting one; you may be familiar with Curren$y's recent career, the "lifestyle rap" and the sonic flavours that come with it, but this 2010 single sounds more like a move for the clubs and the radio - not necessarily a bad thing at all. He's firmly midtempo here over the DJ Taylormade beat with Nate supplying a hook that may not be catchy, but one that works for sure.
A Tribe Called Quest : The Donald
RIP Phife Dawg...aka Don Juice, apparently! Dancehall-accented tune with some nice turntable work (courtesy of DJ Scratch) for the sureshot combination of Tribe and Busta Rhymes on this closer from "We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service", the final ATCQ LP. One of the only things I've heard in months that involves the name "Donald" and doesn't make me want to be sick!
Lexxus : Stress
I'm kind of mad I had to buy the "Mr.Lex" album a second time (on CD) because so many tracks aren't on the vinyl. Still, big tune here with Bobby Konders on the digital production! Lexxus only has two albums, but his singles discography is deep if you like what you hear.
Large Pro : Off Yo Azz On Yo Feet
(Note: I've just realised that this was also included on episode 76. First repeated track in the history of the show! #oops)
The live guy with glasses just keeps on going. His latest LP, 2015's "Re:Living" was a concise eleven tracks, with this being one that just stuck in my head. Self-produced, of course, with the snare smacking away relentlessly in the mix. Lyrically - I guess it's motivational music, after a fashion? The hook certainly leaves no doubt about the message :)
The Alchemist : The Thirst
Thinking about it recently, I realised that in this post-anthem world with an explosion of music availability, Alchemist has quietly worked his way into the pantheon of greatest all-time producers. A nice dark beat from the first "Rapper's Best Friend" beat compilation.
Mega Ran : 10 Gamer Commandments
Random aka Mega Ran is best known for his skill at blending of video game culture and Hip-Hop, and he gives just a piece of it on this cut from his "Notorious R.A.N - Ready To Live" tribute album. Twenty years after the passing of Biggie, Mega Ran reworks some of his tracks in tribute, and this bonus track is of course his flip of "Ten Crack Commandments"; a step-by-step booklet on how to conduct yourself in the gaming world ;)
Kaytranada ft. Craig David : Got It Good
A year ago we heard a Ras Kass track based on this instrumental, but I thought it was worth giving you the original! Coming strong for the crown of best producer to come out of Haiti, the Canadian-raised Kaytranada made some serious noise among those who know last year with the "99.9%" album, and this was a standout cut for me. The highly underrated Craig David supplies a smooth vocal performance at the high end while the beat bumps along at the bottom - great blend.
Omniscence : Golden
North Carolina coming through! The likes of Bandcamp is a godsend for allowing independent releases to be easily obtainable by the fans, and after putting out stuff like the previously-unreleased "The Raw Factor" digitally, Omniscence then moved on to bringing new material onto the platform. This piece from "The God Hour" has some bump but the gentle keyboard work is a fitting backing to Omni's two contemplative verses.
Geto Boys : Leanin' On You
A group often missed when we discuss Hip-Hop legends, Houston's Geto Boys went through lineup changes early in their life, then settled for a while before changing again, and finally coming back together with what most consider the canonical MC lineup - Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill. Here, we take a reflective track from their seventh LP, "The Foundation", with each MC taking a turn to describe a missed person or a struggle in their own lives. The production comes from someone you may not associate with this style, and also may not have thought about in a while - Mr.Mixx of 2 Live Crew, a pioneer of the Miami Bass sound. This certainly has some heft in the mix but rather than the accelerated beats that he made his name with, this sample re-work is slow and somewhat solemn, perfectly matching the lyrics.
Oddisee : Brixton
A bit of an old one (2010) from Oddisee's "Traveling Man" instrumental album; I don't know if he made this beat in Brixton or just took inspiration from there, but it's quality as usual. I'll likely play you something from his new album "The Iceberg" in the coming months.
Willie Evans Jr. : Nerd English
Finally, we come all the way back to the theme from the episode opener! A very amusing but sincere track about keeping it all the way real, staying in your lane...however you want to put it :) It reminds us that trying to be something we're not is stressful, hard work, potentially trouble, and just generally undignified. A solid tune from the "Introducin'" LP that always makes me smile.
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!