May 31, 2017
"It's not the world, it's the people in it..."
What a month it has ended up being. Manchester suffered a terrible blow, and the figurative reverberations will be felt for a long time to come. It has been something to see how people have come together in the wake of the attack, and hopefully that spirit is something that can be carried forward.
While I wasn't able to completely re-do this month's show, I hope it's a pleasant listen for anyone who has the time to give it an ear. Amongst this episode's tracks we have a couple of Manchester tunes, some beautiful instrumentals, and an uplifting ending. Enjoy.
Kendrick Lamar : DNA
"I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA". Absolute fire. The Mike Will Made-It beat is dark and banging and from the very first line, Kendrick is on point. A beast of a track from the new, appropriately-titled album "DAMN." Definitely worth checking the video starring Don Cheadle too!
[Lex Luger] Kid Ink : Blackout (Instrumental)
I was struggling to find an instrumental in my library to fit in here but then thought about which producers might have something to fit, and Lex Luger, Mr."Hard In Da Paint", was my first idea. To be honest, I went to go and have a listen to the Kid Ink track and...I didn't rate it. All about the beat here, thanks to a mixtape of instrumentals on Datpiff!
Devin The Dude : Acoustic Levitation
Devin is a bit of a southern legend, starting off with Odd Squad and Facemob before commencing a long solo career. He's noted for bringing his sense of humour to his music, but that's not the vibe on this cut, the title track from his ninth solo LP. It's a fairly serious number with Devin in reflective mood about the world over a beat produced by his old Odd Squad running mate Rob Quest, who cooks up a solid 808 groove.
Children of Zeus : I Want You
The first time I heard this, I stomped over to DJ Chris E and demanded (ok, not like that ;) ) he tell me what it was immediately! It had only just been released on the CoZ Soundcloud account, and I got my download as soon as I got back home. This is a bodywork-rattling, baby-making slow jam out of Manchester that deserves all the listens. Vocally, it's a Tyler Daly solo, and as much as I love the lead vocal I think his backing styles on the hook put this one over the top.
Dr Dre ft. Jill Scott, Jon Connor, and Anderson .Paak : For The Love Of Money
One of my highlights from Dr Dre's "Compton" LP, a piece inspired by "Foe Tha Love Of Money" by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. This has some of the foremost soul vocalists of recent-ish times taking a starring role, with Jill Scott bringing the gentleness and Anderson contributing a rougher tone. The origins of the track are that it was the first beat made by New Jersey native Cardiak when he moved to Los Angeles, and Jon Connor heard it and wrote his lyrics to it - it was only after that that it found its way to Dre for it to become what you hear now.
MC Eiht : Just Lean
This Compton veteran has carved out a long career, and it's amazing to think that "Affiliated" is his eleventh solo album. Add that to the Compton's Most Wanted LPs, and you have someone who deserves a ton of respect. He's not talking about anything super complex on this weed anthem, but he does definitely slip in some clever references - Ice Cube and UGK, to name but two. The longtime CMW producer Tha Chill collaborates with the D&B producer DJ Subflo for an eerie, creeping track with those echoing snares adding to the dissociative feel.
UNKLE : 24 Frames (Redux)
I can't remember how I exactly found this one - I hadn't been up-to-date with UNKLE's output after the "Psyence Fiction" album, but heard this orchestral killer on Spotify and have been dying to find a place to slot it into the show for months!
Count Bass D : Subwoofer (Dumile)
Somewhere right now, Count Bass D is making a beat. Crafting. Refining. He's sixteen solo albums in, not to mention EPs and compilations, but right here were back to his third, 2002's "Dwight Spitz", now available via Bandcamp. A tribute to the fallen DJ Subroc of KMD and also paying homage to Hip-Hop luminaries of times past, this is almost certainly my favourite tune on the LP. For a little listening detail, check how the drum pattern changes up on the approach to the hook, doubling up on the kicks and snares - very nicely done.
Mothership Connection : Space Junkin'
Manchester's Mothership Connection have been doing a stack of live appearances over the past few years, but as they're a collective of solo artists and member of other groups, it's taken a while for them to release their own product. we finally have their debut EP, "This Train Goes To Junkleberry Junction". All tracks are produced by Mankub, and this one is on a bit of an Apollo 13 vibe while the crew of MCs spill lyrics all over the equipment!
Ilajide ft. Propaine : In The House
The man behind the beats for Clear Soul Forces stays producing quality material. This particular piece is on the "Five Week Heet III" Bandcamp release, and after the quiet intro groove (hard to hear on the mix in/out, actually) it just thumps along. I definitely need to hear this man doing extra work outside the camp. Actually, how about Ilajide and Camp Lo...?
J Dilla ft. LaPeace, Moe Dirdee, & Seven The General : Say My Name
One of those songs that pops into my head fairly regularly but which I don't play even for myself as much as it deserves. Nothing esoteric here, just dope rhymes over an old Dilla beat - that's enough. Catch this on the "Rebirth Of Detroit" album.
The ARE : Midnight (Instrumental)
It's been a while since our last visit, but we return to The ARE's reworking of samples used by A Tribe Called Quest on the "Midnight Marauders" LP. This one is a re-imagining of one of my favourites, but crashing along with a vibe of its own :)
Ka : Up Against Goliath
I was having a listen to Ka's brilliant "Grief Pedigree" this month and found myself rewinding this track. It may at one level be a song about the street game, it could be an anthem for anyone up against the odds. DJs, for full thematic effect you could follow this with UGK's "Pocket Full Of Stones", which is also pretty close speed wise too. #yourewelcome
Damian Marley & Nas : Friends
It's been a while since "Distant Relatives" was released, and every so often a song gets shortlisted for the podcast before getting dropped at the last minute. This time though, it makes the cut. It's not often that Nas doesn't put in the best lyrical performance of all the vocalists on a track he appears on, but I think Damian's performance is superior here! Damian also handles the production, which is well-done, except that the periodic sloppiness on the two and four beats makes it sound like yours truly is making mixing mistakes :)
Yusef Rumperfield : Sparklin
From the Tall Black Guy Productions label come the instrumental stylings of Yusef Rumperfield on his "Jazz In Motion" album. I picked this chilled-out number because sometimes, there's no room for words.
Portishead : It Could Be Sweet
An old favourite from Portishead's debut "Dummy". Beth Gibbons' heartfelt scratchy-throated vocals go nicely on top of the drum machine beat and some subtle keyboards.
Air : High Point
The B-side to the "Once Upon A Time" single, and once again proving Chuck D right about the flip side, this is a beautiful instrumental.
Thundercat ft. Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald : Show You The Way
A great song to end on, and one I've been playing over and over since I bought Thundercat's "Drunk" album. This bassist, producer, and singer is a really unique gem, and as is somehow befitting of a man who's worked with artists as different as Suicidal Tendencies and Kendrick Lamar, he's a lover of the R&B-infused jazz fusion styles of the 70s and 80s. When Kenny Loggins called him up to say that he and Michael McDonald would be interested in collaborating, he rightly flipped out! The combination on this uplifting cut is a straight classic to me, and I think with the pain of the last month, this is a fitting place to close the episode.
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!