Either Way

"I'm the animal that Hugh Hefner created..."

- Nas

The end of another year, and an eventful one in so many ways. Some of that influences this month's selection; overall I've just looked to put together a set of tunes to give your speaker boxes that extra bump to see out 2014 in style!


Wu-Tang Clan ft. Nas : Let My Niggas Live

Dark, dark, dark! The intro sample from the film "Short Eyes" sets the tone and it just stays tough from there. Guest-starring on a Wu track seems to bring the best out of Nas (think "Verbal Intercourse"), and his verse here is a gutter classic which manages to steal the show from both Raekwon and Inspectah Deck. The beat is a masterclass on how to use percussion and drums other than the kick/snare to give the atmosphere, and the main sample for the track is worked to perfection. Easily the standout on "The W."

Pro P : The Breadline

Manchester's Pro P putting in yet more work on the MPC, and last month he released his "Concrete Jungle" beat tape on Bandcamp. It's well worth a listen, and this beat was one that grabbed me from the first run-through.

Jeru The Damaja : Invasion

An overlooked "airing out the police" gem, surprising since the "Wrath Of The Math" album is a pretty well known one for the core heads. DJ Premier is on production and weaves several samples together expertly for the backing, and then kills it with his simple(ish) and highly effective scratching with the word "invasion" from Nas' "It Ain't Hard To Tell."

El Da Sensei : Under Pressure

I just thought this was a great opportunity to slot this track in, with the hook cutting up vocal samples from the preceding Jeru record - no better place for it. This was originally on the 1998 compilation "New York State Of Rhyme" which I never got round to buying, but thankfully this track at least is available for digital purchase. P.Original on the quirky beat, but for me the production highlight is those cuts.

Rodney P ft. Skinnyman, Mr. 45 & DJ Grazzhoppa : Worldwide (Muneshine Remix)

Picked this one up as a free download from Rodney P's Soundcloud page, and was pleased to come across it! I think this is even better than the Joe Buhdha-produced original, which was the A2 track on the 2001 "Big Tings We Inna" 12". I'd not heard of Muneshine before but s/he sounds like a producer to check for, and I think you can find some more work here.

J-Live : One To 31

A mini autobiography and career summary from J-Live, patterned after Lessons 1-31 of the Nation of Gods and Earths' Supreme Wisdom Lessons (hence the title). An excellent choice to open his "Then What Happened?" album, setting the stage for all the tracks to come. I would have sworn this was a DJ Spinna track had I not read the credits, but it's DJ Jazzy Jeff with some serious bounce in the bass, great layered horns, and judicious scratching. 

DJ Spinna : Germz

You can never go wrong with a Spinna beat. Grabbed this one from the "Compositions 2" vinyl, and I'm thinking I need to find the others in the series...

Bounty Killer & Future Troubles : Kill A Sound

What a combination; the Stalag riddim driving the track, with the hook reusing the melody from the hymn "Gloria In Excelsis" with decidedly un-Christmassy intent! This was a 1996 7" single on VP Records, perfect for clash purposes. On the vocals, the two deejays work together well as they have on several other records, with their contrasting tones filling the spectrum. Fire! *airhorn*

Emanon : Count Your Blessings

Keeping the dancehall spirit going with the quality Exile production on this track, slicing and dicing Sister Nancy's "Bam Bam," giving it a speed boost and adding some slightly off-beat snare to keep you off-balance! Emanon ("No name" backwards) is the combination of Exile on the beats and Aloe Blacc on the mic, and this cut from "The Waiting Room" LP always gets a big reception when I include it in a set. Lyrically - absolutely nuts. Listen carefully and check how Aloe counts from 1 to 30 as the track progresses - sometimes using the number explicitly, sometimes by reference. Great work.

Shabaam Sahdeeq : Do You

Like I said, Spinna beat = automatic good move. These two have combined to good effect many times in the past (notably as half of Polyrhythm Addicts), and Shabaam shows he's still up for the challenge of riding an unusual backing; Spinna goes space age on this one! This is available as a digital download or as the B-Side of the "Motion Picture" single. 

Lost Boyz : Music Makes Me High

Taking it back with a track that was a big single when it was released - I certainly remember it from my first year at university! A lot of people are into the remix, but there was never anything wrong with this original version :) Great party track from the "Legal Drug Money" album. RIP Freaky Tah.

[Just Blaze] Beanie Sigel : Beanie (Mack Bitch) (Instrumental)

Tough beat, even if you're not into the synth sound much you can't deny it. Seems like an age ago when something this heavy could be a relatively mainstream track/club banger, but there we go. Check that drum pattern and see if it has an air of familiarity; it's the same layout as "It's All About The Benjamins," which was a heavy club tune in its own right. 

The Roots : Panic!!!!!

That line I cut up jumped into my head when the Eric Garner grand jury ruling came out and I just knew I was going to include this track from "Illadelph Halflife" on the next episode. Very short, but Black Thought crams the whole story into a compact package with skill.

Brian Digby Jr. ft Donte and King Solomon : Showtime

Best MC name. Ok, second to Edgar Allan Floe. Obscure piece here, the B-side of the 2001 Raw-N-Tellect single "The Game" - I didn't know anything about any of the personnel on this record but gave it a go! Turns out the B-side takes it, with the MCs doing a good job over Jahson's string and piano-laden beat. If you like this, I've seen copies on Discogs going cheaply!

Camp Lo : Army

One of those 12"s with tracks that never showed up on an album but were serious flames all the same! The super-basic hook somehow totally works for me, and contrasts with the standard slang-heavy Lo style on the verses. Production is courtesy of Tribeca, who once again hammers the drum machine like it owes him money, with sound exploding all over the place. If you're a DJ, you'd do well to have this single in your crates.

M.O.P. : Shake 'Em Up

Brownsville's foremost representatives killed their performance of this at their recent show in Manchester, and as it was an early favourite of mine on the new "Street Certified" EP, it makes the cut. Los Angeles' Jazi Moto is on production, and the highlight has to be the drumming - not sure if it's live or programmed but she kills it! A little more low end would have been a bonus in my opinion but then it might have made it sound less natural. Big tune anyway :)

J-Zone : The Fox Hunt (Instrumental)

 I wanted to follow the M.O.P. track with something where the drums were pretty active, and then remembered that on his return to releasing music, J-Zone had learned to play the drums and was incorporating a lot of live work into his tracks. This is the no-vocal version of one of the tracks from his latest album "The Peter Pan Syndrome," which is an album I'd recommend, just like the rest of Zone's output - he just doesn't sound like anyone else!

Dirty Diggers : Let The Pound Get A Round

Yorkshireman Young Max and Londoner Pat Stash put a perfect UK spin on the J Dilla beat that sampled Billy Paul's "Let The Dollar Circulate" and was the underpinning for Steve Spacek's "Dollar." Hopefully the worldwide listeners can appreciate this one as much as my domestic audience will :) Got this on one of those mysterious unofficial vinyls with a few other blends/remixes, so it may not have got an official release - snatch it up if you find it!

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!

Direct download: Episode_67.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:45pm EST

Don't Cross The Line.

"You killed the god, might as well throw a chair at me."

- Raekwon

If the Ferguson grand jury decision had come earlier in the month, I would have absolutely breathed fire through the entire selection - as it is, some of the third main segment ended up influenced by that travesty. I didn't even get into talking about Tamir Rice. Anyway, while a few tracks do communicate some of my thoughts on the whole affair, the selection as a whole has some brand new gems, some tracks to pay tribute to ODB and Big Bank Hank, and a little for anyone who enjoyed the electro era!

Links for this month;

The 2014 Good Podcasts award show, and the Straight To Your Head Podcast.


Ras Kass ft. Xzibit & Saafir : NBA

There was a long period when Ras just couldn't seem to catch a break and in the early 2000s, label and legal drama meant that his "Goldyn Child" album was shelved, which was a great shame. He's just managed to release it for sale on Bandcamp (minus the brilliant original version of the title track) and so I had to pick it up and support. On this cut, the theme from "NBA On NBC" forms the basis, with mic support from Ras' Cali compatriots Xzibit and Saafir. The three were an unofficial group calling themselves Golden State Warriors until the NBA team of the same name sent them a "cease and desist" notice; as just "Golden State," I believe they put one 12" out but for various reasons the planned album never came to be.

Lacks aka Ta'raach : Mann Up

A bonus beat from the instrumental version of the first Lacks album - don't have any back story on it, just a nice beat you're unlikely to hear anywhere else!

DJ Quik ft. Mack 10 : The Conduct

One of the big tunes of the last month from where I'm sitting! Im a big DJ Quik fan but have to admit I just wasn't feeling "The Book Of David" LP - however, he's back on form with "The Midnight Life!" This guitar and talkbox-packed monster is a great track musically and a sonic devastator; play it on a good system and just compare it to so many of the under-mixed rush jobs that make up the bulk of the market right now. Lyrically, Mack 10 resurfaces with a solid verse, but there's no-one with a cutting tongue quite like Quik. "And they gotta reapply every year for that job?" Ouch.

M-Phazes, Sean Price, Billy Danze, & Matthew Ragazino : Land Of The Crooks

Not enough street bangers like this one about right now, and this Brooklyn anthem is helmed by a producer many thousands of miles away from the borough - Queensland's M-Phazes, who brings the huge kick drums through! This is the title track of the "Land Of The Crooks" EP, which is a great pickup if this is your kind of thing. With a heavy beat like this one you need to be careful not to waste it, but Sean P and Billy Danze (of M.O.P) bring the veteran hardcore mic work, and relative newcomer Matthew Ragazino does his thing on the close too. 

Platinum Pied Pipers ft. Jay Dee : Act Like You Know

Waajeed on the production for this shoulder-slumping head-nodder from the Bling 47 camp and extended Slum Village family. The late J Dilla pops in to do his thing on the mic here and as he says, "holla at the boy, he don't just produce beats!" From the "Triple P" album, which isn't super well-known but is well worth investigating.

Voodoo Black : Day To Day

A fine local product I hope all the listeners worldwide can appreciate! Manchester's Voodoo Black is Dubble O, Ellis Meade, and Sparkz on the mic, plus DJ Cutterz on the wheels, and their second EP ("Outsauced," available on Bandcamp) is a keeper. All the MCs do the business over the ill Pete Cannon beat which has the kind of flavour the NouGold guys would enjoy! Classic sample in the mix driving this one...

Air Adam : Harvester

Dug up this MP3 of a little beat I made a long while back, at least twelve or thirteen years ago, working on my PC before that was the fashionable thing to do! Long since lost the files for this one, but then I've done a lot more since :)

Zapp : It Doesn't Really Matter

I first saw/heard this (big Youtube find right there!) on a TV programme called "Solid Soul" back when I was about seven and thought "this is one of the greatest things I have ever heard," and so began a lifelong love of all things from Zapp and Roger Troutman. A tribute to the greats of soul, funk, and R&B, this was an overlooked record only because the same album ("The New Zapp IV U") also contained the runaway classic "Computer Love." Not even a very heavily sampled track as it turns out, so might be worth experimenting with for any producers listening!

NWA :  Panic Zone

Probably not the sound you conjour up in your head when you think of NWA! Owing far more to Dr.Dre's lineage from the World Class Wreckin' Cru than the "Straight Outta Compton" explosion, this is a serious electro workout. Taken from what is sometimes considered their debut, the compilation "NWA & The Posse," this was co-written by Krazy Dee, a Mexican-American MC who originally wrote it as "Hispanic Zone!" (No, I'm not making a joke). Dre talked him out of it, and it became what it is now. That's got to be a suitably obscure-enough fact for you to be glad you're reading these notes.

Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force : Looking For The Perfect Beat

I've heard a lot of this tune this month! Second single from Bambaataa, and you have to bear in mind that people simply weren't making records that sounded like this back in 1983! Arthur Baker and John Robie pulled out all the stops on the production, and the video in this article will tell you everything you might ever have wanted to know about the process. Oh yes - someone at the Hip-Hop History event at Leeds City Museum asked Bam if he ever found the perfect beat; he said he was still searching :)

Run The Jewels ft. BOOTS: Early

The combo of Killer Mike and El-P are back with a new album ("Run The Jewels 2") and it's probably even better than the first one - and at the grand price of £0, everyone should really have it! This track is my favourite and turned out to be a very timely inclusion for this month's episode (well, any month really), given its focus on police brutality. The great move in this track is the switch to the harder, more hectic beat partway through each verse as the situation takes a downward turn. BOOTS (not to be confused with Boots Riley) provides the hook, and El-P has a great verse, but Killer Mike... he lives up to his name.

Orbital : Know Where To Run

Hadn't heard this one from "The Middle Of Nowhere" in a while, but dug it out while looking for something to mix well with the preceding track and it was a great fit. That fourth Orbital album is underrated in my opinion, but if you like electronic music it really is worth having in the collection.

Wu-Tang Clan : Severe Punishment

Fierce track from the second Wu album, with the beat just stomping. Everyone slays their verses, and this month's epigram could easily have come from just about anything GZA spits here! On top of that, everyone who knows this album remembers the kung-fu sample that opens things and comes back at the close - it's from the film "Three Evil Masters," which I need to add to the collection...

Ol Dirty Bastard ft. Method Man : Dirty Dancin'

Ten years now since Dirty left us. I thought I'd share this bonus track from the CD/digital versions of the "Return To The 36 Chambers : The Dirty Version" album, even though it should have been a bonus just for the vinyl heads :) RZA on production as always, and some classic ODB bizarreness on the mic!

Public Enemy : Brothers Gonna Work It Out

Classic PE from "Fear Of A Black Planet," just the right speed and the right sentiment for this spot. While it takes its name from a 1973 Willie Hutch track, it's sonically a world away and packs in so much more lyrically - as is the advantage of rap. Chuck D in great form on the mic over some of that peak Bomb Squad production, which is a story in itself.

Ice Cube : Wicked

When this track first came out, I taped it off pirate radio and listened over and over -  in my head, I had really vivid images of rioting and chaos. When I eventually saw the video, I was stunned to find it looked almost exactly like I'd imagined! This was the slamming lead single from "The Predator" released in the shadow of the Rodney King verdict and Los Angeles uprising, and much of the album carries the raw anger and rebellion of those times. The track is dense like something the Bomb Squad might have produced, but this beat is co-produced by Ice Cube and Torcha Chamba, who worked on a few West Coast records around that time. To top things off, we have the debut of Don Jagwarr, filling in the role of obligatory early 90s dancehall toaster ;) Heat!

Leaders Of The New School : Connections (Instrumental)

Big ups to DJ Omas for gifting me the "What's Next?" 12" this came from! Milo on the beat, early 90s drum-fest. The full version is either on this 12" or the 1993 "T.I.M.E" album.

Sugarhill Gang : 8th Wonder

With the passing of Big Bank Hank I figured everyone else was playing "Rapper's Delight" (despite its murky history), so I'd go with something different - it's not as though they only ever recorded one song! My vinyl was pretty beat so bought a digital copy and went with the full length version - there are a few shorter edits out there. In keeping with what Sugarhill Records were doing at the time, the beat is a live band recreation of a record that was being used by the Hip-Hop DJs of the time; in this case, "Daisy Lady" by 7th Wonder, hence the title!

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!

Direct download: Episode_66.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:20am EST

Friday The 31st

"We were trading our crowns for our souls..."

- James Fauntleroy

Had I finished this episode earlier, it would have had a different title - but as it's Halloween and a Friday, I couldn't pass up the opportunity! Got some quality new releases and some definite archive raiding all lined up, which I encourage you to spread the word about as much as possible!

PS I mention Afrika Bambaataa appearing in Leeds next month; here's the info!


Common ft. Cocaine 80s & Lil Herb : The Neighbourhood

If that intro doesn't get you, I suggest you head to the bathroom to check if you have a reflection. James Fauntleroy of Cocaine 80s opens it up with a fantastic vocal and lyric, before the sweeping, Curtis Mayfield-fuelled No I.D track comes in and helps Common to paint a dark picture of growing up in 70s-80s Chicago. He doesn't carry the mic alone though, with 90s baby Lil Herb taking the second verse and giving a perspective from his own generation. Common couldn't have opened his new "Nobody's Smiling" album any better.

[J.Cardim] AZ : Vendetta (Instrumental)

Few words. Dope beat. Soul sample. Sounds familiar. "The Format." That's all.

Fu-Schnickens ft. Shaquille O'Neal : What's Up Doc (Can We Rock)?

When this came out back in 1992 and I saw who was featuring, I cringed. Shaq was in his rookie year in the NBA and getting an insane amount of hype, and I thought this was just a quick cash-in move; in some ways it was, since he was added onto the end of an already-done track. Credit where it's due though, he put in a decent enough performance, and it turned out to be the prelude to his own little rap career. Moc Fu on the third verse takes the crown for me, despite not having the straight up speed or density of the other group members that appear on the track before him. Beat-wise, Main Source's K-Cut brings the bounce in a decidedly early 90s style. This was the lead single for the Fu's "Nervous Breakdown" album but actually first appeared on Shaq's debut - so at least three options there for finding it!

Oh yes - "when it comes to money," Shaq was not like Dick DeVos, given that this was the man who was paying him...

The Mouse Outfit : Power

This Manchester crew have been making moves since the release of their debut album "Escape Music," and now they're back with a brand new track. Sparkz and Ape Cult's Truthos Mufasa tag team the mic duties over some instrumental work that sounds like nothing this crew have done before. Constantly expanding, great to hear.

Jungle Brothers : 40 Below Trooper

I think this has to be my favourite track from this foundation crew, despite the fact that it's from one of their less-regarded albums ("J Beez Wit The Remedy"). I caught the video on MTV many moons ago back in 1993 and was an instant favourite. Reportedly, the production of this album was mired in drama as the group wanted to go experimental, and the record company (Warner Bros) kept rejecting their material and sending them back to the studio. The final version was much less out-there than the original, and this track maybe speaks to that - very dope, but also accessible to the average head of the time, like me.

Kazahaya : Remember Hip-Hop (Instrumental)

2009 release on Breakin' Bread from Kazahaya, a Japanese beatmaker very much in the cut-and-paste vein and wedded to the classic sound. This is the instrumental of course but to get the full effect, search out the "Remember Hip-Hop" EP, if you can!

EMC : Charly Murphie

Big stomping track! To really appreciate the full awesomeness of this track, you need to have seen the now-legendary episode of the Dave Chappelle Show where Charlie Murphy (brother of Eddie) tells the story of his run-ins with Rick James. All the MCs - Masta Ace, Stricklin, and Wordsworth - slay this track with callbacks to that famous sketch, and 14KT handles the production, with a track based around "Three Blind Mice." Stormer from the new EP "The Turning Point."

Tall Black Guy ft. Ozay Moore : Mon amie De'troit

Beautiful production by Tall Black Guy, just absolutely golden. That bassline lets you know straight off, but the skittering hat work and the guitar line elevate it right out of whatever building you're in. Ozay Moore, formerly known as Othello, brilliantly carries off his lyrical personification of Detroit as a woman going through hard times. The album "8 Miles To Moenart" isn't long, and doesn't have many vocals, but it's truly high-quality and gets my recommendation.

Dilated Peoples : Century Of The Self (ft. Catero)

After a long layoff from working as a group, Dilated are back with the "Directors Of Photography" album (damn, wish I'd thought of using that title) and it's a good return to the stage. This is one of my favourites on there, but it's an unusual lineup; Oh No on production, and with only Rakaa on the verses. Oh, and what verses! All the way political, and what would be called "paranoid" if so much of it wasn't actually documented fact, it's definitely worth sitting down with this one and really absorbing the lyrics.

The Brotherhood : Alphabetical Response

Trivia note - this was the first track on my first ever mixtape! It turns out it's a lot easier putting it at the start than mixing it in, the intro is a DJ nightmare - took some careful listening :) Late 90s UK single taken from the "Elementalz" album, with Underdog on the haunting head-nod beat and working in the Speak & Spell for the hook! I would also wager this one track has more uses of the word "bonce" than the rest of Hip-Hop to date combined. I'm glad we righted that ship.

C2C : The Beat

France stand up! Turntablists par excellence C2C get very busy on this, cutting and scratching everything in sight/hearing on a track I have to believe would work very well on a discerning dancefloor. It's also a bonus they kicked it off with another Speak & Spell sample! If you want more, you need to pick up the "Tetra" LP.

The Action Figures : Russell Westbrook

Had this one hanging around for a while, and it was not only a sonically good fit but the title is pretty topical if you're an NBA fan! TAF hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and are tied into the wider Hip-Hop community centred around Detroit - in fact, this track was produced by Young RJ of BR Gunna and Slum Village, and you can definitely hear the Motor City sound in there. Just a nice little digital single, which you can get free from their Soundcloud.

Clear Soul Forces ft. Kooley High : Freq Freq

Detroit yet again, striking to see so much material coming from a city which pre-Slum Village was never thought of as a Hip-Hop hotbed! Clear Soul Forces combine with North Carolina's Kooley High (who I'm only just hearing for the first time) to just kick lyrics over the crisp drums provided by Ilajide to great effect. Bargain price on Bandcamp, so don't be shy about picking it up and following both crews!

Mos Def : The Edge

The album "The New Danger" contained a track titled "Close Edge," which is almost identical to this; I got this on a while label a while before the album was released, and it seems that they gave it a bit more tweaking and changed the title. Either way, a solid track with Mos in low-key battle mode on a Minnesota beat that has all kinds of percussion going on in the background - have a keen listen for it and note how empty the track would sound without it.

O.C. : The Professional

What you know about this one? You could justifiably call "Starchild" O.C.'s "lost album" - hamstrung by sample clearance problems, not a big seller, rarely remembered as part of his discography, and produced without any input from the rest of the DITC crew. If you can get hold of it though, then do - you'll probably have to go for digital download since only 20,000 were ever pressed. I think it's fair to say O.C. is never one to disappoint with the lyrics, so the concern is always going to be whether the rest of the package can keep up. A producer named Vanguard takes the boards for this heavy horn-laden outing, with the infamous DJ Revolution contributing the extra-sharp cuts - mission accomplished.

Damu The Fudgemunk : Work In Progress

One for the DMV! Washington's true-school stalwart beatmaker is always reliable for some classic drum and sample tracks, and this (maybe unfinished) one from his "Spare Time" album delivers the goods.

The Lench Mob : Lord Have Mercy

If you weren't listening to Hip-Hop in the early 90s, you probably never heard of this crew. If you were, you definitely have! Their controversial debut album "Guerillas In Tha Mist" from which this track is drawn made some noise at the time with some of the big hammering tunes but this little gem was overlooked. Uncomplicated but dope use of a well-known sample made the perfect backdrop for the heartfelt lyrics. Ice Cube put this LA crew on, and it was all there for them but unfortunately a murder conviction for J-Dee was a near-final blow; they replaced him for their second album, before fading away. Regardless, this track will always stand tall.

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!

Direct download: Episode_65.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:30pm EST

Fresh From Above.

"Rich for a poor man, poor for a rich man..."

- Essa

What a month - started a new day job, had a couple of photo assignments, plus needed to plan a mix including some Biggie (20 years since "Ready To Die" was released), 2Pac (18 years since he passed), and a few other tracks I've had on standby for a while. So far, all is good - let's get into the notes for the month...


Essa : The Middle Man (Tall Black Guy Remix)

A bit of a poetic start to the proceedings; great new UK track to kick things off, with the production getting a top-line upgrade with Tall Black Guy on the boards! I didn't know until researching the episode that Essa went to school at Eton, but it makes sense since he's also a practicing lawyer - it all shows in his lyrics. This particular version is a limited edition 7" release you can buy through Bandcamp, but for more of his quality rhymes grab the "The Misadventures Of A Middle Man" album - bargain price for it right now.

[Buckwild] Mendoughza : Club Banga (Instrumental)

One of those random tunes I dug out trying to find an instrumental, only to find it's pretty notable in its own way! Mendoughza was down with the late great Guru of Gang Starr, and featured on a few things but this looks like it may have been his only 12" release. If you're only going to have the one, then having D.I.T.C's Buckwild produce it is a pretty huge result!

Main Ingredient : Summer Breeze

We're just leaving summer, so here's the last flush of the season. Soul cover version (and an upgrade, I feel) of the Seals and Crofts track, but you only get one verse before...

The Notorious B.I.G : Things Done Changed

"Whatever happened to the summertime cookouts?" Gone. Gone like the preceding track, which provided the bulk of the samples for this incredible Darnell Scott beat. Whatever happened to him? I actually did a web search looking for more credits and it seems he only did this one perfect track. The first full song on Biggie's "Ready To Die" was instantly arresting, and it stopped me dead the first time I heard it roughly twenty years ago. Biggie's lyrics on how life got so much harsher for so many people as he grew up set the tone perfectly for a beautifully dark album - or was it darkly beautiful?

Cocaine 80s : To Tell You The Truth

No I.D.'s collective are a little on the mysterious side but do turn out some serious free releases. I got this one from the "The Pursuit EP," and it's got a nice bit of edge to it. James Fauntleroy is a killer on the lead vocals for the group, and they really, really need to get a full album out there!

2Pac : Temptations

It's been eighteen years? Feeling old again. Taken from the "Me Against The World" album, 2Pac gives his take on temptation (of course), commitment, and loneliness in his own style; nothing tongue-twisting, just very simply worded. The Easy Mo Bee beat is insane, blending Zapp's "Computer Love" (for the bassline), Redman's "Watch Yo Nuggets," and more besides. From the twilight of the period of 2Pac's career that interested me, before the Death Row era, this was a fantastic single. Funny video too :)

Nitty Gritty ft. Wise Intelligent : Good Morning Teacher (Crush Sounds Poppa Fred Mix)

Quality dedication to the late reggae artist Nitty Gritty (for whose killing Super Cat was once charged) and other fallen dancehall stars by Wise Intelligent of Trenton, New Jersey's Poor Righteous Teachers. Nitty Gritty recorded the original for King Jammys sound in Jamaica, but Wise Intelligent takes the vocals for the hook and adds his own lyrics for the bulk of the tune. Ill Will Fulton does the business on the remix production, working around the famous "Stalag" riddim.

Hieroglyphics : Love Flowin' (A-Plus Remix Instrumental)

Another under-appreciated beat unearthed from the vinyl vaults! A-Plus of Souls Of Mischief on the boards for this one.

Boot Camp Clik ft. Aaliyah : Night Riders (Original Remix)

Brooklyn! A nice 90s piece recently put out for free by the official BCC Soundcloud page. The first version was on the 1997 "For The People" LP, and there's a more modern remix done by 9th Wonder, but apparently this was the original remix version. It keeps the Buckshot and Boogie Brown instrumental, but exchanges LaVoice for the late Aaliyah to give little extra to the hook. Works. Oh yeah, look out for Omar from "The Wire" in the original video ;)

Lowkey ft. Shadia Mansour : Too Much

More UK flavour, this time with an MC who is unafraid to take on political topics - whether it's militarism, Palestine, media, or whatever - and puts himself in the vein of the Immortal Techniques of this world. Absolutely love his breakdown of what money can and can't get you, and the laid-back Nutty P production and Shadia Mansour on the hook give it a smoothness that helps the medicine go down. Taken from the "Soundtrack To The Struggle" album, this wasn't a single but I think definitely could have been.

Sean Price ft. Phonte : Let It Be Known

Two of my favourite MCs combine here, each with their own style but pure talent regardless. On this selection from Sean's second album "Jesus Price Supastar," check how the rhyme schemes on the two verses are actually the same, with just the actual words changing - very cleverly done. On the beat, 9th Wonder comes in - people often complain about his drums, but you have to appreciate what he brings here with that drum pattern - unusual, and very dope.

The Regiment ft. Guilty Simpson : Beef

"Beef is guns and butter, no peace line / Sauteed, fried, with hate on the side..." I've had this one on deck for months, never quite being able to fit it in - finally got there this episode! Detroit's OSI and Ise Qold go in hard on the mic alongside hometown guest Guilty Simpson over a grimy Nick Speed beat. I got this free from Bandcamp, but it's also on their debut "Live From The Coney Island" album, which is well worth checking.

Om Unit : Folding Shadows

The man also known as 2Tall for his turntablist exploits is also a very accomplished producer, and he showcases a deft touch on this dark, dark track from his "Threads" album.

3rd Bass ft. Chubb Rock : Kick 'Em In The Grill

Just so we're clear, we're totally coming back to this album in the future! "Derelicts Of Dialect," the group's second album is an extremely underrated 90s release which I think everyone should have. The Brooklyn/Queens trio only had a two-album run before an acrimonious split, but both were quality. Right here you have (now label exec and reality TV host) MC Serch and (current baseball memorabilia dealer) Pete Nice ripping the mic on an SD50-produced track, with Daddy Rich jumping in with the cuts and Chubb Rock with a dope guest verse. 

Camp Lo : Cold Retarded

New flavour from one of my personal favourites, a preview for their forthcoming album which will be solely produced by Ski - the man responsible for the beats on "Uptown Saturday Night." As usual, an absolute slang torrent on this short and sweet track, and on the instrumental side, pay close attention to the ridiculously dextrous bass work; all kinds of runs and slides going on!

OutKast ft. Raekwon : Skew It On The Bar-B

I think I underrated this one when it came out, but that was partly because I just preferred "ATLiens" to "Aquemini," the album this was on. My bad! Raekwon, responsible for one of my top two albums of all time ("...Cuban Linx...") absolutely melts down his guest appearance - pay attention to how he keeps the same rhyme going through the entire verse. Insane. Organized Noise have the drums snapping, and OutKast themselves are quality on the mic as always, but that Rae verse though...

Ty ft. Bémbé Ségué : Groovement (Parts 1 & 2)

I kept meaning to ask Agent J if his website/podcast is named after this tune, then in the middle of a Google search found out it was! Ty has been one of the great talents of the UK scene for a long time and this is one of my favourite tracks from him, proper funk workout with just a hint of Latin flavour. I got this on the 12" with "Ha Ha" on the flip but it's also on the "Upwards" album. Great track to have in your collection either way.

Professor Griff : Bro Kemit Splitting Atom's In The Corporate War Zone [sic]

Sorry for the needle skip - tried to clean it out but to no avail!

This song is at least in part being included because of that incredible title, which I remember using once in a high school game of "Hangman" (seriously). Before a field trip to a place called Cober Hill, I had a few quid in my pocket to buy just one new record to tape and take with me; the choice came down to Public Enemy's "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" and Professor Griff's second album "Kao's II Wiz *7* Dome," and Griff won it. Turned out to be a good thing since the PE album has remained available, whereas I've not seen a copy of this outside my own library in years. This track closes the album and is very much of its era - a long posse cut, pro-Black lyrics, and the most incredible amount of shout-outs ever. Even dedicated "shout out" tracks on other albums don't have as many as this one. The beat comes from The Soul Society, of which Griff is a member, and bears the Miami influence of the Skyywalker Records label that this was released under - listen out for the sub-bass drops!

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!

Direct download: Episode_64.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:30am EST

Bajan Ballin'

"They plant drugs on us, stamp 'thugs' on us..."

- Guilty Simpson

Back from a great two-week trip to Barbados, I'm working some West Indian vibes into the selection this month! Got some nice long blends going too, and a bit of a subwoofer test :)

Only one link up in this section this month - leave me a drop from the comfort of your own computer!


Dawn Penn : You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)

Starting it off with a classic! Dawn Penn recorded a track called "You Don't Love Me" back in 1967, before taking a break from the music industry in 1970. She came back to the scene in the late 80s, and in the early 90s reprised the '67 track with more of a contemporary dancehall feel - still the same soul though! Lisyen back to that original, then come back and enjoy this one - it just goes to show that when it comes down to it, songwriting and vocal talent are portable and enduring, fads and trickery are not. Salute!

Jae Millz : No, No, No

Big up Andy Peek for playing this 12" at In The Loop one month! Scram Jones (credited as Marc Schemer) takes the intro of the Dawn Penn track and bases his own beat on it, and then Jae Millz rhymes around the "no, no, no" interjections - not a unique idea, but a well-executed one. I don't know if Millz has any Jamaican background but the video is shot there and he's rhyming in front of the flag for parts of it! Despite having been around on the fringes for years, he's just now getting ready to put out a debut album - with the Young Money crew though, so possibly not as much my speed sonically as this track is. This is a nice record, though one where the beat definitely outshines the mic work!

Tnght (Hudson Mohawke x Lunice) : Higher Ground

Big Scottish/Canadian combination, I would never have come across this record if I hadn't heard DJ A-Up and Agent J drop it in a club to serious effect! Very electronic, nothing acoustic sounding in the whole track, booming kick and handclaps taking the place where many hi-hat patterns would normally sit - while the hats here go independent :) Great track from the "Tnght" EP, which is only about £3 as a digital download if this is to your taste!

Assassin :Anywhere We Go

Anthemic dancehall track from St.Andrews Parish (JA) native Assassin, expounding on how much the women love him! Big tune on the "85" riddim by Dave Kelly, also heard on Baby Cham's "Ghetto Story," which is definitely better known around these parts. There are 7"s of this one around for very reasonable prices, so this is one for the dancehall DJs to grab.

Run The Jewels : Get It

Good test for your bass setup right here. El-P and Killer Mike combine here for some unadulterated hardcore from their eponymous free mini-album. All kinds of low-end kicks, and listen out for that repeating/echoing snare drum - it wouldn't be half the track with a normal one there.

Paul Wall ft. Big Pokey : Sittin' Sidewayz

Love this record. The Salih Williams beat is an absolute monster; as I said many episodes ago, built around that little guitar sample, but that bass is what most people will remember! Houston's Paul Wall had this as the first single from his solo debut "The People's Champ" after he parted ways with Chamillionaire. One thing that did stay the same (in a good way) was his lyrical content - no nations being uplifted, just stunting like Lee Majors in "The Fall Guy!"

Shinehead : Billie Jean

First became aware of this one when the sound system Mighty Crown dropped a special of it during a soundclash I was listening to. That snare is so intrusive and crunchy on the high end, it snatches your attention almost as much as the Wild West whistling running through the intro! An unexpected, unusual, but excellent cover version of the legendary Michael Jackson track from the UK-born, Bronx raised Shinehead.

Byron Lee and The Dragonaires : Mission Impossible

A treat for the steel pan fans! Tenor pan getting busy here on those rolls with a Caribbean take on the well-known Lalo Schifrin spy theme. The Dragonaires have been going since 1950 with Byron Lee passing in 2008, and always had a rep for being able to play any style of music; with that in mind, it makes sense that they could take this track and make it extra-hot! You can get this on the 1997 "Socarobics" album, along with a lot of other flavour :)

Guilty Simpson : Pigs

The first of two critiques (to say the least) of the police, and as it happens they're both out of Detroit. Here we have Guilty Simpson with a short but crushing track from his 2008 debut "Ode To The Ghetto" album, going in on the police for their well-documented racial profiling and the kind of laziness on the job that leads to real criminals snitching and walking while others take the fall. The somehow busy and bare beat comes courtesy of Madlib, on fine form.

Jay Dee : Fuck The Police

This will be much better known to most heads than the Guilty Simpson track - in fact, some people will know this even better than NWA's certified classic "Fuck Tha Police" from 1989! Dilla wrote this at the suggestion of his mother, who put the idea forward after seeing him suffer from constant police harrassment. You can find this as a 12" with the incredible "Move" on the B-side, and it's a must-own. 

Boogie Down Productions : Gimme Dat (Woy)

Wanted to go with "Who Protects Us From You?" but as it wasn't close to a speed match, I went for a different track from the same album ("Ghetto Music : The Blueprint Of Hip-Hop") that was a better fit in terms of tempo and composition. Don't be fooled by the relative smoothness of the beat, the drums knock and KRS is on battle mode on this one.

Blak Twang ft. K9 :Where Lions Roam

I'm a big Black Twang fan but wasn't totally sold on "The Rotton Club" - this was one of the body-moving standouts though. Tony Rotton self-produced this one and it bounces along nicely in a stripped-back kind of way!

Ali Vegas : Gangsta Boogie (Instrumental)

One of those tracks where I'm really unlikely to play the vocal (it's not actually that good), but the beat has the little charm of sampling a recognisable 80s song...which I won't reveal here since I think it might be uncleared! I think this is a 12"-only release, but the A-side isn't really hitting so only pick it up if you need this track.

Teff Mayweather : Starz

I was looking for some contemporary Bajan hip-hop to play, and so far as I can see this is one of the guys making the most noise right now. It's a little commercial sounding, and fits in with the mainstream American vibe - I was a little surprised, but I'm not sure why. As such, the lyrics aren't especially complex but if you're anything like me, you can hear that there's something he's holding back! If you like this, there's more on his "Dream World" album.

Chuck Nubian & Konny Kon : The Skullsnap

Next up is UK Bajan Konny Kon, alongside Chuck Nubian, exchanging ill flows and lyrics over a beat by Finimo from the "The First Connect" EP - on Skullsnap Records as it happens! For those that don't get the reference, an old-school funk group called Skull Snaps recorded a track called "It's A New Day" with some legendary drums which have been sampled many times, and the record itself is a collectible. Anyway, this is a fine bit of UK Hip-Hop, and the EP is worth putting on your wantlist!

Grandmaster Flash : Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel

You may not know this but Flash is a 100% Bajan, born in Bridgetown, and so the country can feel proud of their contribution to Hip-Hop's foundation :) This is an extremely important record which I'd been meaning to play for those who aren't deep in the scene and might not know it; it's really the first record to display the particular skills of Hip-Hop DJing, and was mind-blowing at the time. Flash insisted on recording this live, using three turntables, with no editing, multitracking, or other studio technology - real rawness. This is one of the most revolutionary records of all time.

Ohio Players : Boardwalkin'

I was looking for something funky to go alongside the "Good Times" sample the Flash track was based on, and found this tune in my collection that I'd never heard before. Nice little cut from the 1981 "Tenderness" album, one of two they released in the same year! 

Gorg : Meh Rum

This was probably the big tune of Crop Over in Barbados this year, the kind of soca tune with a hook that really lives up to the name - sticks in your head and can't be removed!  Whoever Gorg's woman was, she was cold for taking those Jordans*. That's unforgivable.

*apparently the woman is real, but the Jordans stayed. Also, he stretched it to get that rhyme to work.

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!

Direct download: Episode_63.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:30pm EST


"I'm scared of Mother Earth..."

"...and I'm scared to communicate over the phone."

 - KMG

Back once again! It's been two years since KMG of Above The Law passed away, so I've got a couple of great ATL tracks in this month's choices. Overall, we have a few recent releases and some gems that I think really have been overlooked. Maybe next month will be the one for the sunshiney summer selection, but for right now...


Ka : Summer

I've been waiting for summer to come so I can play this! Dark track from the Brownsville MC and producer, one of my favourites from the short (but not sweet) "Grief Pedigree" album (find a video of the whole thing here). Don't be lulled by the hook - he packs some serious rhyming skills into the two verses, and backs it up with a subtle, almost drumless production. It's the opposite of the average Hip-Hop summer anthem, and with good reason; he has pointed out himself that the summer is actually when more bad stuff happens, since everyone is outside and there's more chance of confrontations. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince this is not.

Bob James : Far From Turtle

Knowing that there's little Hip-Hop at the speed of "Summer" which would mix with it, I went to my soul/jazz/other shelves and heard this particular track for the very first time - I knew it had to work. It's sped up a reasonable amount but hopefully not enough to take away from the feeling. Bob James has been sampled over and over again, but this is from a 1990 album ("Grand Piano Canyon") which probably hasn't been used much. After doing a little internet reading to look for interesting facts about this record, I found that apparently this is Guilty Simpson's favourite song of all time!

Redman : Basically

Back with the dark sound, and maybe te lyrics to a certain extent. I do wish it was a little longer, but maybe the brevity makes it more concentrated. You'll find this self-produced killer around the middle of Redman's sophomore album "Dare Iz A Darkside," one widely respected by those in the know - although as it happens, Redman himself doesn't like it for personal reasons.

Njena Reddd Foxxx : Watercolor

Coming out of Brooklyn, Njena is an MC with an interesting history - accepted into Cooper Union, after completion she decided to forsake the traditional fine art world in favour of picking up the mic! Hopefully it all works out, but based on this she certainly has the skills. She sinks deep into this laid-back track and gets what she wants to say said in under two minutes, just as GZA would advise :) I got this free from her Soundcloud account - keep an eye on it! 

GQ ft. Nipsey Hussle and Rapper Big Pooh : Count 'Em Up

In another example of life changing directions, Oakland's Quentin Thomas had a great run on the ball court, all the way up to a national championship with the University of North Carolina, before switching careers. He had to battle the negative stigma of "ballers who think they can rap" before winning over 9th Wonder, who took him under his wing and onto the Jamla Records label. I'd not heard of him until his name and the title of his latest album "Rated Oakland" kept bubbling up on my Twitter feed, so I went and had a listen and was very impressed! I could have played any of a number of tracks, but this ended up winning out - produced by 9th himself, and featuring Little Brother's Big Pooh and South Central LA spitter Nipsey Hussle. I can relate to the end of that last verse...

Tanya Morgan ft. Napoleon : Plan B

Was struggling to work out how to end this little mix but ended up finding this one on my CD of the "Brooklynati" album, and it fit pretty well (could have done with a longer intro though). This is a great story of the everyman rhymer, rather than the superstar talk you often hear, talking about the scraping and sacrifices that are often made to pursue a music career. The production by Brick Beats is nice, but the lyrics are the clear star here.

deadxbeat : lifes.a.snitch

Found this one on a scouting run through Bandcamp, as just one of thirty-eight beats on the "Pure Dopeness Vol.11" beat tape from worldwide producer collective Sinoptic International. This particular beat is out of New Jersey, and is chilled out and low-slung enough to match the previous track and the next...

Slum Village : Forth & Back (Original)

Bit of a summery vibe here before we take the temperature down for the next few. This is the original "Forth & Back" from the "Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol.1" album - an album which itself has many, many supposed versions. I actually prefer this to the more well-known version on "Fantastic, Vol.2," but then it's pretty impossible not to like! Signature Dilla production of the time, with the laid-back vibe and the handclaps.

Above The Law : Marvin

I only wish the mixing/mastering was a little better, but easily one of the best tracks on the "Forever : Rich Thugs" album. The late KMG definitely has the best verse, writing with a little paranoia and a sense of trepidation of the modern world; makes me wonder what he'd make of today's current events. Cold 187um puts a more hyped verse in but really makes his presence felt in the production, a late-night creeper of a beat accented by the voice of Marvin Gaye through the hooks. Quality...just deserves better sound!

J-Live : Vampire Hunter J

Had this one stashed for a while, and this month I find a chance to use it in a winning combination with two other great tracks. J-Live deftly rhymes from an 5% perspective, taking on the evildoers of the world - the 10%, according to their lessons, and slips all kinds of NGE references into the lyrics. The beat is dark, subtle, and minimal without being minimalist, great work by Grap Luva. This is just one of the quality tracks on "The Best Part" (another 5% reference there!)

DJ Skitz : Fingerprints Of The Gods

A true UK classic. I actually dropped Skeleton's verse from the end (sorry), but that should be an incentive for you to check the whole thing! With so many great MCs  and the beat changing for each one, this could easily have been a set of different songs but instead this was one monster track. Originally released as a single in 1998, it's also available on the "Countryman" LP which is an essential if you can find it - a masterful collection. Back to the sonics, as much of a Phi Life Cypher fan as I am, I think Roots Manuva takes it here. "I used to want the Queen's heads, now I want the crown?" Serious! He does also benefit from having the best beat on the track; the section in the intro with the high piano part and Vegas cutting over it still sends chills up me even now. 

Da Beatminerz : Let's Talk About It (T.R.O.Y Remix Instrumental)

Just a little instrumental from the brilliant "Brace 4 Impak" album which feels fresh but actually came out all the way back in 2001 :) Even though the full version this was far from my favourite cut on there, it'll still bury a lot of records out right now!

Above The Law : Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust

I don't know if this is now a full-on rarity, but it's definitely not well known. From the 12"/EP of "Kalifornia," we have some back-and-forth rhymes from the highly underrated mic duo of KMG and Cold 187um over one of Hutch's gangsta funk beats. The talkbox hook is kind of crazy, though I can't say I can make out most of the words... The "Kalifornia" 12" is definitely worth having if this is at all your style - somehow, the title track is actually the third best thing on there out of three!

Cormega ft. Raekwon : Honorable

Brand new track from the "Mega Philosophy" album, just released this Monday. The whole album is produced by Large Professor, which alone should be reason enough to check it out, but of course it's Cormega's album and he's settling more and more into the veteran role, which definitely suits him. I think this might be the most instantly-accessible track though, with Rae on the criminology rhymes on the first verse and Mega bringing it home. Definitely peep the album.

Amerie : Talkin' About

Those drums are just killing it. The percussion line is super-busy in the go-go style, and for that you can thank Rich Harrison - it should slightly remind you of the drum work on "1 Thing," which is also on the "Touch" album. Amerie (now Ameriie) is a seriously underrated artist, and if you've passed by her records before I'd really recommend going back and giving them a try. Here, she unleashes her surprisingly powerful voice to be heard over the hectic track, and knocks it out in fine style.

Mya : Fallen

Maybe a bit gentle for some, but you've got to appreciate it for its integration of the Dilla beat for Pharcyde's "Runnin'." It does add all kinds of strings and lighter touches but at its heart, the drum pattern and the loop of the Stan Getz/Luiz Bonfa sample keep the blood pumping. I can't remember what made me pick up Mya's "Moodring" LP years back, but I do think it's a quality record - the rare modern(ish) R&B album that finds a home in my collection. One aside; your ears aren't tricking you, this track does actually get louder as it goes along! I actually re-recorded the mix once as I thought I'd been turning up the wrong tune...

Visioneers ft. Luke Parkhouse : Mystic Brew

Picked this one up on Record Store Day this year and both sides were quality! Visioneers is a studio project, a pseudonym of Marc Mac from 4Hero and you can always rely on him for something interesting. This of course is a cover version of the famous Ronnie Foster track that's best known for being sampled on Tribe's "Electric Relaxation," but with almost a Latin flavour on the rhythm. The flip of this 7" has a cover of "Smilin' Billy Suite" by the Heath Brothers, which you'll recognise from Nas' "One Love." Actually, I've just realised while typing that both of the sampling records I mentioned were produced by Q-Tip!

Jean Grae : Planes (The Trilogy)

Made me smile and nod in agreement! If you've ever travelled on a plane, at least one of these short songs should make you do the same, or even make you adjust your behaviour ;) The final pick this month is from Jean's recent release "That's Not How You Do That : An Instructional Album For Adults," a set of short songs offering advice on how to get along in the world! Listen, laugh, and fix up!

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!

Direct download: Episode_62.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:26pm EST

...Killed The Radio Star?

"God walks the earth as MCs..."

- H.U.G.

The fifth birthday episode! For someone who once took over two years to finish a mixtape, you might just have an idea of what a big achievement that actually is :) There's a lot going on right now and I really had to dig deep to put together this month's mix, but I think you'll be pleased with it. It's also been five years since Michael Jackson passed, and I've included a couple of pieces you probably don't have.

Quick shout out to Scott at Good Podcasts, who gave me a great write-up and was even inspired to jump on the mic ;)

RIP to the great Bobby Womack; I wasn't able to include any of his music this time round, but his legacy is carved into what we do.


Hood Headlinaz (Mata, Mali Boi, Jhi Ali, & Money Addict) : Soul Glo

Been holding off on this one for ages! There's not even much that blends with it, but you don't want to put anything in front of it anyway to take away from that mighty intro :) I can't even remember how I stumbled on this one, but it was a digital release and it was initially free - would definitely have paid though! This track comes from Alabama's Paper Route Gangstaz (PRGz) crew, and it just is what it is. Building a whole track off the hair product advert from Eddie Murphy's "Coming To America" was genius, and while it may not be calling for the upliftment of the nation I will note that they do in fact use the word "plethora" in context in true "Sophisticated As Hell" style ;) 

Jan Hammer : Rico's Blues

Now that's the 80s right there :) While Jan Hammer's "Crockett's Theme" was easily one of the best-known instrumentals of the decade, this was also a great track from the "Miami Vice," the theme tune for Rico Tubbs. Kind of makes you want to be on a yacht to really feel it though...

Krimewave : Increase The Pressure

I was passed this instrumental by a friend and asked to see what I could do with it on the cuts, so here we go! I went trying to scratch up some info on Krimewave and found that he's a Manchester producer, and clearly someone with talent as this is a nicely refined beat. I almost feel bad for butting in! You can find this and plenty more on Bandcamp.

Ultramagnetic MCs : Delta Force II

Been banging this one since 93! Great Ced Gee solo cut from Ultra's "The Four Horsemen" album, which in my opinion is leagues ahead of "Ced Gee (Delta Force One)" from the classic and highly significant "Critical Beatdown" album. Straight MC business on here, and my guess would be that Ced Gee did a lot of the beat himself. While the production is credited to the group, but Ced is an oft-overlooked figure in the history of Hip-Hop production who actually did the bulk of the work on BDP's "Criminal Minded" LP and is justly respected as someone who got busy on the SP-1200. No pop flavour here!

Public Enemy : How To Kill A Radio Consultant

With recent events, this seemed like a very appropriate choice! Pretty deep album cut from "Apocalypse 91 : The Enemy Strikes Black" with Chuck D going in on the BS of the modern radio model and the lack of connection commercial stations have with the communities they supposedly serve. This tune might be over twenty years old but it's even more true today than it ever was. On the music side, it's Bomb Squad production as always - listen out for the Run DMC "Beats To The Rhyme" sample, which is then swiftly buried under a whole heap of other stuff going on in the track. I was kind of lukewarm on the production at the time but have grown to appreciate it with more mature ears!

Raekwon : House Of Flying Daggers

Fast-forward eighteen years and head across the water from Long Island to Staten Island for this big opening track from "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt.2!" Raekwon put together a great album but unlike the first one, he went for a range of different producers; on this track, he got the legend J Dilla to give him a dramatic, pounding, relentless banger that just doesn't let up...ever. Inspektah Deck slays the opening verse once again (remember "Triumph?"), but every single MC on here is on top form. I just wish I could totally hear and parse those first two bars on Rae's verse - sounds ill as hell, but I don't think I could tell you exactly what he said :)

One last detail - that kung-fu dialog sample at the end is from the well-known but still incredible "Drunken Master." If you've not seen it, do so...

J-Zone & H.U.G : I'm Fuckin' Up The Money

This was the song that got me into J-Zone, and he wasn't even on the mic! The rolling, dramatic instrumental is the perfect landscape for Huggy Bear to absolutely go off on the mic, dropping quotable after quotable on the dark state of the world. That BDP/UN line? "Peacekeeping with a gun is fraudulent?" "Prisons got signs up reading 'no vacancy,' but those locked up are still earning for the industry?" Come on now. Huggy (aka H.U.G) has spit some quality rhymes in his time but for me, this is the pinnacle. The "Pimps Don't Pay Taxes" album as a whole is on a slightly different vibe, but very much a great purchase.

Eightball & MJG : Break 'em Off (Instrumental)

I could never decide if I wanted to play the vocal of this - it's been up for selection a few times in the past - but right here the instrumental just kind of fit. Memphis' Eightball & MJG produced this themselves and probably came up with one of the few tracks not to be improved by a Beatminerz remix!

SPOX PhD (DJ Spinna & Oxygen) : Chicken Scratch

Brand new 7" release with both sides being amazing, all I can say is "get it!" The man DJ Spinna gets on the turntables cutting up an ill break with a crazy chicken sound in it, and Oxygen of SoundSci gets on the echoey mic - the combination is straight park jam style. Oxygen actually came to my "Manchester Marauders" exhibition last year before playing a show in the city, and he's a properly good guy - nice to see him link with another well-regarded man in the scene. 

NWA : Quiet On Tha Set

Deeeep album cut (the closer on the vinyl, not quite on the cassette) from the legendary "Straight Outta Compton" LP, and one of two MC Ren solo tracks on there. It's also notable for actually being completely clean on an album that is famously...not. Leaning away from the "gangsta" vibes on the rest of the record, he's just in Hip-Hop party MC mode, but nothing corny - never would be with him really! Dr Dre is on the beat as always, several years before the G-Funk sound many people associate with him; instead you just get hard drums and some James Brown samples lying back there in the mix. As much as this is a 1988 record, it really doesn't sound quite that old.

Michael Jackson : I Can't Help It (Todd Terje Remix)

Here we have a modern remix of a track from MJ's big breakout solo album, 1979's "Off The Wall," as constructed by the Norwegian producer Todd Terje - I have to admit, I thought it might have been an alias of Todd Terry, but in fact his name was chosen as a tribute! The original was masterful and not really to be bettered, but the remix just brings in a lot more percussion and is also much longer; I've cut it short here but it carries on for several more minutes. This came from a promo vinyl of MJ remixes, so probably not the easiest to find - and also part of the reason for the questionable sound quality, it's not your headphones...

De La Soul : Breakadawn

I did think "is it too obvious?" and then remembered that not everyone listening will actually know these records. This was the first single from "Buhloone Mindstate" and from the first time I saw the video on "Yo! MTV Raps," I knew it was a winner. There's a lot going on in the production, from the main sample from the original of Michael Jackson's "I Can't Help It," to the Smokey Robinson snatch for the hook, and other bits besides - have a listen out. The lyrics and delivery very much reflected their "grown man" style, so to speak - despite not even being old at the time of release, they wrote with the gravity of the industry veterans they were. Top quality record.

BR Gunna : Somethin Good

This was such a short instrumental I had to loop it up a few times to use it here! BR Gunna was a group made up of Detroit's Black Milk, Young RJ, and Fat Ray, and this track came from an obscure release of the "Dirty District Vol.2" EP. Just something a little laid back to give you a quick break on the way into the home straight...

Michael Jackson : Starlight

Rareness! I know you don't know about this one - ok, a few of you might - but I want to have just one small collar-popping moment :D The album we now know as "Thriller" was originally going to be called "Midnight Man" and this would have been one of the main singles. When the decision was made to flip the whole concept of the record and go darker, Rod Temperton came up with the title "Thriller" and this demo was reworked, remixed, and re-written to become the giant record we have today. Can you imagine a world that didn't have "Thriller?" I can't. Anyway, all things considered I'm sure you'll overlook the sound quality on this one just for all the history points :) If you want a real rundown from someone who was at the very core of the work, check out this interview with the master engineer Bruce Swedien.

Alena : Changes (Ron Basejam Remix)

I think this was another internet radio find! I'm not even sure exactly what genre this fits under - house-ish, maybe? - but I think it's a great record. Did a little research on it and apparently it blew up back in 2011 when it came out, deservedly so in my opinion! I can't actually find any info on Alena, but wouldn't mind hearing more of her - the nature of the track means we only get snatches really. And who is Ron Basejam, you ask? Well, we put it through the anagram machine and we get James Baron, one of the members of the electronic group Crazy P - great job by him on the bouncy production. I haven't been able to find the original, but Yam Who have another remix which you might like!

The Coup : We Are The Ones

Street revolutionary direction on this one from the "Pick A Bigger Weapon" album. Boots Riley is one of the sharpest thinkers in Hip-Hop, and his approach on this is hilarious, with the faux-posh voice and associated vocabulary telling the story of someone you totally wouldn't associate with the delivery. He self-produces it too and brings in players for the guitar, bass, and keys to give it a real live feel.

Big Daddy Kane : Nuff Respect

Getting hype with it, going to the soundtrack for the 1992 Ernest Dickerson film "Juice" - well worth having. There's a lot of great tracks on there and I'm sure I'll be returning to it on a future episode. For now, you get King Asiatic Nobody's Equal spitting ridiculously over a hectic Gary G-Wiz and Hank Shocklee track. Very much of its era, and all the better for it.

Toni T : Disco Groove (Siesta House Mix)

I'd be lying if I said I knew who Toni T was really - I picked this track up on a Mastercuts Beach Bar compilation. It gets the nod here for fitting in smoothly between two other tracks I wanted to play, and also using a classic b-boy break as the main element! Nominally I suppose it's house, but without that four-to-the-floor kick pattern, it really does come off as something else.

Ice-T : Lethal Weapon

Huge track from the "Iceberg" LP. Definitely playing this one for me, as it was a huge favourite for me when I first heard it back in high school - and even more once I saw the video! That image of all the hoods in the library really stuck with me - in fact, I suppose they kind of looked like me! Afrika Islam and Ice-T make the beat super hectic in a way that just doesn't happen these days and Ice keeps right up with it lyrically. And how often now would you hear a big-selling artist explicitly telling you to take yourself to a library?

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!

Direct download: Episode_61.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:25pm EST


"Why you wanna fuck up my last few days with the news?"

- Suga Free

I seem to have ended up with a reasonably high proportion of West Coast records on this month's mix, at least nine tunes - didn't plan it that way, it was just how it came out! Tough picks this month but I think there are some interesting ones you may not know - get in touch and let me know how you like it!

One link promised in the show - free tickets for the last In The Loop cypher session, and two others - Janelle Monáe controlling the crowd, and then the whole place exploding in the climactic pillow fight and crowd surf!


Yo-Yo : Black Pearl

I have never heard this record anywhere outside my own house! First caught it on "Yo! MTV Raps" many moons ago and loved it, so was very glad to come across a 12". One for the women from one who famously went head-to-head with Ice Cube on his track "It's A Man's World," this is the title track from her second album, which I've not heard in full but will definitely pick up if I see a copy! The beat is provided by a crew I've not heard of - Down Low Productions, doing a nice job with something that could easily have fit in with some of the rougher, slower New Jack tracks of the time.

Dam-Funk : Mirrors

I actually hadn't paid much attention to Dam-Funk until I saw him in the Stones Throw documentary "Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton," and I found his story interesting enough to go back and check for his music. He worked for years trying to get his career going before being picked up by Stones Throw and this track comes from his debut release; the five-vinyl opus "Toeachizown." It's definitely his own take on soul and funk, in a space-traveller kind of way, produced by Leon Sylvers III, who was instrumental in many of SOLAR Records' hits back in the 70s and 80s.

Suga Free : Sana Sana

Quite a polarity change from the opening track! Again, I may not co-sign Suga Free's admitted day job, but my goodness he can rhyme. That opening verse packs plenty in, and I would have never taken him for someone who'd drop that kind of anti-war/draft lyric - followed succinctly in the hook with the adlib "draft these nuts" :D Second verse starts off with the classic quote that makes up this month's epigram, before switching to another language altogether! I don't really speak Spanish, but I understand enough to know that verse is nothing nice. At all. Co-T handles musical duties, with the kind of beat that I can't really hear anyone else rhyming over - very tailored to the artist. Just one piece of heat from the excellent "Smell My Finger" album. 

(As an aside - his line of "I gotta be honest with you sargeant, you give me that gun, I'll probably shoot you with it" reminds me somewhat of this quote from Malcolm X speaking in 1965; "This is what they thought of you and me in those days. For one thing, they didn’t trust us. They feared that if they put us in the army and trained us on how to use rifles and other things, that we might shoot at some targets that they hadn’t picked out. And we would have. Any thinking man knows what target to shoot at. And if a man doesn’t, if he has to have someone else to choose his target, then he’s not thinking for himself—they’re doing the thinking for him.")

Tash ft. Raekwon : Rap Life

From the Alkaholiks, Tash released a pretty decent album in "Rap Life" which apparently just didn't sell that well. Shame as there were some quality tracks on it - this isn't even my favourite but fit well in the mix. Production comes from Young Lord, and an energised Raekwon helps out on the mic while they trade tales of splashing out music money on cars, jetskis, and plenty more...even if it's true, a far cry from today's industry! This is the clean version from a 12" album sampler - I actually greatly prefer it with the censoring. Oh, and if it's not blindingly obvious, I put in that little pause and cut at the end of the first verse - thought it just added a bit of extra flavour :)

Murs & Fashawn : Peace Treaty

Staying West Coast again, we take a cut from the "My Generation" collaboration album, calling for and dreaming of a truce between Los Angeles' gangs. Both headliners hold it down on the lyrics, as you'd expect, and they are given some quality production to ride by Beatnick and K-Salaam; special mention must be given to the cuts in the hook, sampling Watts native Kam's 1993 "Peace Treaty," which itself spoke on the topic of the real 1992 gang treaty. Great homage.

Janelle Monáe ft. Esperanza Spalding : Dorothy Dandridge Eyes

Janelle's range is so incredibly wide that there's no one song that could give you a picture of just what kind of artist she is, so I just chose a quality song from her latest album ("Electric Lady")! This is apparently inspired by a particular scene ("the jeep scene?") in the film "Carmen Jones," but I've not seen it so can only speak on it as a stand-alone piece - top notch groove, could fit in with some of the 80s Quincy Jones productions, just a really nice track. The multi-talented jazz musician Esperanza Spalding comes in on the second verse and it's a winning combination.

Lex (de Kalhex) : Revelation

I went scouting around on Bandcamp for something new here, and found a compilation by "The Find" magazine which was centred around jazz-style beatmaking, from which I took this track. Nothing crazy, but I thought the pianos and live-sounding drums would lead into the next track nicely!

Sean C & LV ft. Styles P, ASAP 12vvy, & Charlie RED : Tomorrow May Never Come

These guys are the kind of producers who can sneak right past you, but they've been doing big work for years for all kinds of artists - Jay-Z, Big Pun, and Clipse to name but three. Sean C was actually a co-founder of the legendary X-Men DJ crew which gives you an idea of the kind of pedigree he comes from. The duo released a free producer project "Loud Dreams" which linked them up with a wide roster of vocalists, and this is a track that stood out for me. 

DJ Babu ft. Little Brother, Joe Scudda, & Darien Brockington : Fan Mail

California production but a North Carolina roll call on the mic - two-thirds of Little Brother alongside Justus League compatriot Joe Scudda, and Darien Brockington on the hook. I got this on an unofficial 12" pressing, but this was on Volume 3 of Babu's "Duck Season" projects. Just in case you didn't know, before becoming the DJ for Dilated Peoples, Babu was one of the founders of the Beat Junkies DJ crew and also invented the word "turntablist" to describe one who plays the turntable as a musical instrument. In short, a man worthy of respect in this culture!

Joey Chavez ft. Iriscience & DJ Babu : Live

Back-to-back Babu! This time he's strictly on the turntables, doing great work cutting up the phone call sample from the closing verse of A Tribe Called Quest's "Keep It Rollin'" on the hook. Joey Chavez gives us some straightforward but low-key boom-bap, and Rakaa Iriscience comes with the kind of lyrical style you'll know from Dilated Peoples. You can get this one on the 2001 "Original Structure" EP, which is still available digitally should you be so inclined.

Large Pro ft. Nas : Stay Chisel

Great little track that originally appeared on Large Professor's "1st Class" LP. That version transitioned straight out of what you hear here into a second, rougher part with Akinyele on the mic; this came of a 12" which helpfully had them both edited into separate tracks. I've heard the original sample for this and it's actually not been changed much at all - sometimes, the best thing to do is get out of the way and let the loop rock...

Washed Out : Feel It All Around

I got Netflix the other month and discovered an odd little comedy called Portlandia, and thought the intro music was interesting, so decided to search it out - this is it. Washed Out is a musician out of Georgia who put out his first releases in 2009 - about the same time the podcast started! He cites Hip-Hop as an influence without being part of the culture directly; hopefully he'd appreciate being included here.

Capone-N-Noreaga : Illegal Life

You can't take anything away - 1997's "The War Report" was an incredible debut and definitely one of the best records to be released that year. I think this was the first CNN track I heard, and it's still right up there as one of my favourites! Tim Westwood played it on Radio 1 and me and my friends were bugging out about it the next day; that eastern-sounding sample coming off like it's playing across a desolate desert sandscape, neck-snapping drum programming (by Havoc of Mobb Deep), and a bassline that has only a passing interest in melody - just grit. Tragedy Khadafi cooked up a mean piece on this one. When it comes to the rhymes, you were getting that raw street business and nothing but that - which was really what these guys were all about. Remember when it was reported at one early showing of the film "Juice" that someone was shot at a cinema? Well...adolescent Noreaga would have to put his hands up to that one...

Cesar Comanche ft. Kenn Starr & Rapper Big Pooh : The Future

Proper excavation from the archives, a nice Justus League B-side. All the MCs hold it down - in fact, I could stand to hear a little more Cesar Comanche about the place! Nothing crazy topic-wise, just showing out. DJ Resident shows a little Pete Rock influence on the beat, I'd say. This is a B-side to the also good "Miss You (Remix)," but is also on the 2005 "Squirrel And The Aces" album - not got it, but might look out for a copy.

Stacy Epps : Movement

I pretty much have to check for everything she puts out. Found this on Spotify but then bought it from Bandcamp, where you can find it on the "AURA" release (which actually looks incomplete on there). Short but sweet, she delivers the vocals low-key and rides along with that tasty production - unfortunately can't find a credit for it, one of the problems with digital releases...

Lacks : Beautiful

Gorgeous bit of production here, very much befitting the track title. Detroit's Lacks (now known as Ta'raach) crafts a great track; that bassline and then the harp (?) make it. Well, those and the countering string line that runs behind the bass. Drums are tight too. Ok, pretty much everything. If you see a copy of "Re:Lacks // Vol.1 With The World" (yeah, odd title), pick it up as it's got some really good tracks on there.

[Madlib] Prince Po : Mecheti Lightspeed (Instrumental)

I've never been a huge Madlib fan; people who know me know that about me. Nevertheless, when he nails it I have to give him his credit and this right here is one of those times! Wicked B-side to "Holla" (which itself was on the podcast way back on episode 11), get this 12" if you see it!

Dr. Dre : Let Me Ride

One of the doctor's best! The closing section of this song, for me, is just perfection, with the sung hook interplaying with the sample of Glenn Goins singing on Parliament's "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot" - that's the kind of beauty I'd like to have played for me when it's all over and I finally return to the Earth. This solo track was the final single from "The Chronic" and rightfully won Dre a Grammy in 1994. I wonder if he knew how much his life would change in twenty years...

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!

Direct download: Episode_60.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:45pm EST

(12/52) Neighbourhood Watch

"...for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies, and prisoners..."

- Nas

This April marks both four years since the passing of Guru and twenty (!) years since the release of Nas' "Illmatic," so I had to pay homage to both on this episode. We start the show off at blunted speed and work our way up to the dancefloor!

Couple of links I promised you;

The Soul Twins new podcast is here - give them some support!

Watch Deez' selection for Groovement. Coming up!


Black Josh : Purple Rain

Slightly left-field and admittedly drug-enhanced lust story, with a beat that just makes me want to rewind and drive slow! With Metrodome on production, 40% of Manchester's Ape Cult, a young crew on the rise, get busy on this one from the "Blick Flair's Ape Mountain" album.

The Mouse Outfit : Kickstart (Instrumental)

I was privileged enough to be treated to the instrumentals from the "Escape Music" album, and this track fits in nicely here. The album has been getting a lot of well-deserved respect, which has been really good to see. This particular track has an unusual sound for a group who are primarily known for their live instrument chops, but it shows that they can definitely get versatile with it!

Onyx & Wu-Tang Clan : The Worst 

Ok, sorry about the pun :) Did you ever see "Ride?" Nope, me neither. Those mid-90s film soundtracks were a clearinghouse for all kinds of studio offcuts, but you'd always be guaranteed at least one quality tune and this is the one on this occasion. Couldn't afford the 12" when it first came out but managed to pick up the whole album last year for a few quid! On this hardcore meeting of the minds, you have Fredro, Sticky Fingaz, Sonsee, and X-1 on the Onyx side, and Raekwon, Method Man, and Killa Sin (from Killarmy) representing for the Wu. The verse structure obviously has to lean away from the three 16-bar model, and of particular note is how Sticky and Meth share the closing verse - rightly so. The production is handled by Latief; if you know the original sample, you'll appreciate how just a small amount of rearrangement can do good things!

Planet Asia : Place Of Birth

One of the Cali Agents puts in the work on a lovely Evidence beat. Heard this one for the first time this month, but it fit beautifully into this spot! This is on the 2000 "Always Bigger And Better Vol.1" compilation on ABB records, but was a 12" release back at the time too. Planet Asia has definitely kept grinding away over a 16-year career, so if you like his rhyme style you'll be able to find plenty more material out there. 

Gang Starr : Jazz Music

This was the first Gang Starr tune I ever heard, back in about 1989 - on a mixtape that was followed by NWA's "Boyz N Tha Hood." Memories! Anyway, this is a great little track from the debut "No More Mr Nice Guy" album - 25 years old this month - with Guru reminiscing on the history of jazz, and DJ Premier with an early production credit. Nice work with the Ramsey Lewis sample, and the little transformer cuts still get me even though I could pull them off myself these days!

Roni Size / Reprazent : Play The Game (Extended)

Looove this one. It was a pain to get hold of though - the original version on the UK album is much shorter. The last track on the "In The Mode" LP, it's a complete change of pace from the rest, which is very high-tempo D&B. Onallee is strong on the vocals, and the instrumental behind her is classily done. Bristol can justifiably be proud of this crew.

No I.D : Jump On It (Instrumental)

Just a little Chicago here, a head nodder from the "Sky's The Limit" 12" and the "Accept Your Own & Be Yourself" album. Nothing complicated!

Marlena Shaw : California Soul

A soul classic! Only a short piece though, to warm you up for the track to follow. I thought this was the first version of "California Soul" but it was in fact one of a series of covers, with the original being recorded by The Messengers in 1967.  This wasn't even a single for Marlena Shaw, but what turned out to be a standout album track that ended up hitting for those in the know. Pretty much everyone knows it now, and rightly so.

Gang Starr : Check The Technique (Remix)

Here we go with a slight tweak on a well-known classic! I have this on a compilation of Gang Starr rarities but I think this has had a 12" release. It's not wildly different to the original that was on the "Step In The Arena" album, but it's got a liberal sprinkling of extra horns. Thought I'd throw this one in for the older heads just in case they hadn't heard it.

Oh No ft. Wildchild : Stomp That, V.2

That bassline does the damage. The title is no affectation - there was at least one previous version of this track already. The MC and producer who was at the time of this release primarily referred to as "Madlib's brother" had to be given props for a very solid debut album, 2004's "The Disrupt," and this was one of the top tracks. Using the bassline from the same break as X-Clan's "Verbs Of Power," Oxnard's own give us some quality alongside Wildchild of Lootpack - Madlib's old group!

Common Sense : Soul By The Pound

Never knew when this came out what kind of a career this guy would have, and I don't think there was necessarily any indication here. Still, this was a well-regarded track when it came out as I recall. Didn't realise this was the third single from "Can I Borrow A Dollar?" - it was certainly the first track I heard from him. Produced by Immenslope, who later changed his name to No I.D, it just pounds away on the low end leaving plenty of room for the MC to operate. As I'm sure you know, he eventually had to shorten his name to just "Common" because these guys forced it - probably a pain at the time, but overall I think the cropped version did ok :) 

J-Live : Not Listening

This impressed me on the very first airing when it came out online a few weeks ago!  It sounds like it comes out of sheer exasperation at a lot of the material out there right now, and the always-insightful J-Live even notes that there are plenty of other songs saying very similar things. That said, a lot of those tracks lack the honesty to say that a lot of records saying nothing...actually sound really good! You could level the same accusation at most genres, but he's speaking on what's closest to him. Atlanta's Korede handles the beat, and this is a great preview for the "Around The Sun" album, which should have just been released as you read this.

[The Neptunes] MC Lyte : I Can't Make A Mistake

From where I was standing, this 1998 single pretty much disappeared even though it was blatantly a big reach for radio - I bet most people won't know it, and the rest will only vaguely remember it! I like this beat, it is very much the sound of The Neptunes as we first came to know them, and this could easily mix with a track like N.O.R.E's "Superthug." Brooklyn's Lyte is more known for her late 80s/early 90s output like "Poor Georgie" and "Ruffneck," but this is towards the tail end of her recording career. Even though this didn't hit big, I can understand trying to work within the sound of the time!

Roger : So Ruff, So Tuff

Easily one of my all-time favourite records, and I used to be unbeatable at video games whenever this was playing! Regular listeners to the podcast will know of my love for Roger Troutman's genius, and this is one of his finest tracks. From his first solo album, 1981's "The Many Facets Of Roger," this has been heavily sampled and is a true funk classic. The talkbox harmony at 41:07 is absolutely flawless, the highlight for me of an amazing track. 11 out of 10.

The Whispers : Keep On Lovin' Me

Only got up on this one earlier this year, after Phonte guested on the "The Black Guy Who Tips" podcast and they were all laughing about the video :) I'd imagine the best known Whispers track is "And The Beat Goes On," but they've been doing it since the 60s, with changing members over that time - sadly, often due to health reasons or deaths. They had a heavy run in the 80s on Dick Griffey's Solar Records, which is the time period this track comes from, with Leon and Ricky Sylvers killing it on the production.

Zo! ft. Eric Roberson & Phonte : We Are On The Move (Original/Black Coffee Remix)

The reason the Whispers video came up in the first place was that they did their own take on it when it came time to do a video for this song! Zo! is a multi-instrumentalist and producer from Detroit who has quietly racked up ten solo albums dating back to 2001, three EPs, and a handful of collaborative projects. From his latest release, "Manmade" comes this uncomplicated and beautiful track, with Eric Roberson doing a bang-up job on the lead vocal, ably assisted by Phonte (formerly of Little Brother). I also thought I'd do a little blending in of the Black Coffee remix (I think done by the South African DJ?), which takes it into a house style and makes its own additions. Appreciate.

The Jones Girls : Nights Over Egypt

The preceding track reminded me very much of this for some reason! An old classic, but only introduced to me at Zumbar in Manchester in the early 2000s. A phenomenal soul track that only peaked at #23 in the US R&B charts back in 1982, this should have been a big hit. Another Detroit act, the Jones Girls were backup singers for many years - working with Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin to name but two - before striking out on their own. This track was on their third album, "Get As Much Love As You Can" and written by the combination of Cynthia Biggs and the brilliant keyboardist Dexter Wansel. Beautiful late-night cool.

[DJ Spinna] Akil : Hey Luv (Instrumental)

It's that patented DJ Spinna bass on this B-side from Beyond Real. Not to be confused with the MC of the same name from Jurassic 5, Akil only had a couple of solo 12"s out, as well as a track with a group known as the BX Crew. The little organ sound in the background is a nice little link to the final tune of the episode...

Nas : Memory Lane

So many great tracks on "Illmatic," which was released twenty years ago this month, but this might just be my favourite. Despite only being 19 at the time, Nas reminisces on life and Hip-Hop from his own perspective - he says in an interview for Spotify Landmark that he felt able to do so because he had lived an accelerated life. Great lyricism, and a top-shelf DJ Premier beat - five-star track.

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!

Direct download: Episode_59.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:10pm EST


"I do shows, I go home, I spell my name in cash like I'm Busy Bee..."

- Konny Kon

March is here again, and so we celebrate the life of the great Biggie Smalls. Spread love, it's the Brooklyn way!

Here are the links for things mentioned in the show;

EPMD tickets? If you're in Manchester (or anywhere within reach), you really should...

The podcasts I mentioned were Peer Pressure Radio (the URL for subscription is http://feeds.feedburner.com/peerpressureradio/INMq) and In All Airness - both great listens!


The Notorious B.I.G : One More Chance (Hip-Hop Remix)

Definitely preferred this to the first remix! Rashad Smith and Puffy throw out the smoother vibe and go with a stripped down instrumental based on the same break as Marley Marl and Craig G's "Droppin' Science," somehow more fitting for Biggie's raw take on his way with women.

Akinyele : In The World (Large Pro Remix Instrumental)

Just dug this up on a white label I had hanging around - sound quality isn't the best but hopefully you can appreciate it all the same. While I actually preferred the DJ Enuff-produced original (also on episode 30), this is just trying to do something completely different sonically, harder and darker.

[Easy Mo Bee] Craig Mack : Flava In Ya Ear (Instrumental)

One of the best beats ever, not in needless complexity but just in that...ugh! Easy Mo Bee kills it with that one-note guitar sample pitched up and down, and possibly the greatest drum sounds you'll hear anywhere, programmed just right. Every aspiring Hip-Hop producer should study this beat.

Craig Mack ft. The Notorious B.I.G, Rampage, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes : Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)

One of my favourite remixes of all time, with a classic Biggie verse leading things off. The beat is only slightly tweaked (hell, there was nothing wrong with it), this version is all about letting the MCs get busy. Craig Mack (second verse) was a decent rhymer in my opinion, but at best he's the fourth best on here - though looking at the lineup, there's no shame in that! This track also has one of my favourite Hip-Hop videos, a minimalistic masterstroke from Hype Williams before he went fisheye crazy, and if it's to be believed, then the cuts on here are courtesy of Funkmaster Flex, putting the icing on the cake!

EPMD : Da Joint

With EPMD coming to the city in April, I had to include one of their tracks this month. This was the first single from their fifth album, "Back In Business," which as you might expect from the title was the first one after their reunion. At the time, everyone was just ecstatic to hear Erick and Parrish together again, and this Erick Sermon and Rockwilder-produced track was a great one to come back with. For those that don't know the old skool (note : that's before Run DMC :) ), the hook is a direct reference to the Funky Four Plus One's 1980 single "That's The Joint" - know your history, kids ;)

Call O' Da Wild : Ruffturrain

Find of the decade! Let me qualify that :) I first heard this on Radio 1 in 1996, but as far as I know they never mentioned the track title or the artist, so I just had it down as "Riders Of The Storm." I spent a long, long time trying to find out what it was, using every method I could think of to search it out, but to no avail. This year I decided to dig the tape out, record a bit, and mail it out to DJs I knew to see if anyone recognised it. No-one knew the record at all, but Agent J of Groovement correctly identified the main sample, and then Obelix of Too Many Cooks worked out the artist and title! Great work by those guys, Barron Ricks and Angelo Campanioni on the mic and Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs with the dark and sinister beat. Turns out that this track was only released as a promo 12", which I splashed out on as soon as I found a copy on Discogs. Unfortunately, the album went unreleased by Sony after they handed it in and the duo broke up shortly after. Crying shame, because if they had anything else like this, it would have been a really quality LP. 

The Notorious B.I.G ft. Beanie Sigel, Black Rob, Ice Cube : If I Should Die Before I Wake

Tracks like this feel a bit unsettling to listen to in hindsight, given what happened to Biggie. It's also one of the tracks that was constructed around his unreleased lyrics posthumously, but one of the best I think. The "Born Again" LP this comes from is unfortunately (and understandably) pretty patchy but has a few good bits, this one included. Charlemagne, Coptic, and D-Dot cook up a beat that could easily have been on "Life After Death," and the MC roster is one that definitely makes sense - if anything, Ice Cube is the wildcard but easily the best.

Dubbul O & Pro P : Slang To Ya Brain

Manchester material from one of my favourite MCs on the scene right now, alongside the man Pro P on the beats; both these artists are being really productive and coming out with polished material. This is my early favourite from the newly released "Omega" LP, and has the characteristic darkness that these guys can summon up at will. You can name your price on the album, so check it out and see what you think!

Large Pro : After School (Instrumental)

Another Large Pro beat - only occurred to me after I'd recorded it all! Head-nodding 12"-only release, this is the B-side to "The Beginning," which is an ill track indeed.

Nas : 2nd Childhood

A nice beat from DJ Premier, but an unusual one structure-wise; even if you don't study these things, you might get the feeling! Easily one of the standouts from Nas' "Stillmatic" LP, and one of those tracks that for me show clearly why he's one of the greats. The stories of people stuck in their lives and not moving on ring very true, and the music behind him has a kind of bittersweet sound to it. I will always, always take Nas over Jay-Z when it comes to the rhymes...

Children Of Zeus : Elevate

More Manchester for you! Mainstay of the scene Konny Kon combines with Tyler Daly for this track which is actually just a demo - but that hasn't stopped me having it on repeat since I got it from their Soundcloud! They self-produced this track and the music is just beautiful, and will only shine more with a final mix. On the lyrics, Konny is smashing over buildings on his verse, and I can't get enough of Tyler's hook. When this album is mixed and released, it's definitely going to be one to check for!

Gaelle : Moonsglow

Love with bass! I last visited the "Transient" LP on episode 9, so I think it's fine to head back for more :) This album closer is one of the top tunes on there, downtempo and gliding. Just to mention one small point of detail, this is Exhibit A on when to use a shaker rather than a hi-hat in the rhythm track - listen and imagine it had been done the other way.

Source Direct : Love & Hate

Bit of a change-up here with some D&B which manages to be sparse but kind of luxurious at the same time. One of the select few five-star tracks on my iPod, it's one of the best tracks on Source Direct's "Exorcise The Demons" album which has darkness aplenty. Those of you who listen to D&B regularly (I honestly don't) might have a different opinion, let me know!

EPMD : Scratch, Bring It Back (Part 2 - Mic Doc)

This might be far from the biggest track on the "Business Never Personal" album - which I have a horrible feeling may have been deleted - but I've always liked it since it flipped my wig back in the pirate radio days! All about that second section with the beat change, and the amazing DJ Scratch cuts. EPMD got through a lot of DJs in their time (K La Boss, Diamond J to name but two) but when they got Scratch they stayed with him. Good move. Besides being a ridiculously ill DJ, he also carved out a very respectable career as a producer, which basically means everyone in the group is top shelf on the beats :)

Freak L : When The Pen Hits The Paper

Now this is seriously obscure! I heard Dan Greenpeace play this once on the radio, but I'd never heard of the artist before and hadn't seen any records around either. When I eventually came across it in Fat City years later...snatched it up! This is the B-side (yes, it wins again) from a 1988/89 12" which was produced by Vandy C but was mixed by the late great Paul C. SP-1200 goodness all around, with absolutely stacks of samples thrown into the mix - none of which I'm telling if you don't know them, since I doubt there was any clearance! Freak L only put out a couple of singles, but that's two more than most, and he shows his mettle on here.

Diamond : Best Kept Secret (Remix)

If you're a long-time listener, you might have caught a chunk of this on episode 12 when I did a whistle-stop tour around the "Stunts, Blunts, and Hip-Hop" album, but it fit well here and I thought the whole track deserved an airing! Diamond is a production legend in his own right but for this remix he brings in Mark The 45 King, and this is just vicious - the relentless bassline makes it.

Chic : (Funny) Bone

A nice little funk/disco workout which closes the 1978 "C'est Chic" album, though this was also on the B-side of the "I Want Your Love" single. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards hold it down on the guitar and bass, and Tony Thompson on the drums gets that little extra accent with the claps on top of the snares. Not a big hit as a track by itself as far as I know, but a great tune!

The Notorious B.I.G. : "Microphone Murderer" (1991 demo)

Note: The interview segment you hear in front of this comes from the Juan Epstein podcast, it's well worth listening to the whole episode!
This track was before everything you ever heard, a 19-year-old Biggie slaying the mic on a demo with the then local DJ 50 Grand on the turntables. When Big Daddy Kane's DJ Mister Cee heard it, he loved it and played it for Matty C of the Source who then got B.I.G into the "Unsigned Hype" section, which was then read by Puffy (or Diddy, as you may know him now)...and the rest is history!

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!

Direct download: Episode_58.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:30pm EST

it's for you.

"I'm a lion in the day, I'm a tiger at night..."

- Illa J

It's February again, so once again we remember J Dilla, Big L, and Big Pun, as well as Donald Byrd. Sadly, we add a local name to the roll this month - the man known as Salford John. Each of these men gets their moment in the selection; I hope you find it worthy.


Fat Joe ft. Big L : The Enemy

Claaassic. In a gathering of hardcore heads, this one will always get the heads nodding and someone rhyming along! I was working out which Big L track to play this month and a video I was shown recently made the choice for me, though this track really focuses on racial profiling. L snatches the starring role on this brilliant A-side, but both MCs get busy on the eerie DJ Premier beat. Nighttime track for sure, you can find this on 12", Big L's "The Big Picture," or DITC's debut album. No excuse to miss it really!

K-Def : Preying Mantis

Bit of a horror-film sounding beat from K-Def's "Beats From the 90s Vol.2" vinyl, useful one to have for the DJs and beat connoisseurs :)

Fat Joe ft. Raekwon, Armageddon, and Big Pun : Firewater

"95% alcohol, 5% cancer?" Serious! I first heard this on Radio 1, I think it might have been Westwood's show by then (when it was good), but can't really remember. That little ringing sound in the Showbiz beat caught my ear, and it's just straight head-nod 90s flavour. All the verses are dope, but of course it's Big Pun's aggro closing verse that gets this on the show this month. This was one of his first appearances, and this classic B-side (to "Envy") had him blazing with the hunger of a new MC aiming for the top. 

Jigmastas : Resurge

They're back! DJ Spinna (easily one of my favourite producers) and Kriminul return from a long hiatus with this track that was kindly made available for free on Spinna's Soundcloud. It's the first peek at the forthcoming "Resurge" EP, so be sure to support that when it comes out.

All City : Afta Hourz

The "Metropolis Gold" album is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least, but besides the two killers "The Actual" and "Priceless," I found this low-key boom-bap piece I thought would be worth sharing. V.Black on the beat with an assist from DJ Premier on the mix, it's just that 90s filtered bassline flavour with a sprinkling of piano. If you see the album cheap, grab it, but as I say it's patchy so don't overpay!

De La Soul ft. Mos Def & Truth Enola : Stakes Is High (Jay Dee Remix)

This month, for twenty-four hours only, De La Soul gave away their entire catalogue for free download (I posted about it on my Facebook page!) and when I was flicking through the files, there was a collection of remixes that included this version I didn't know. As it turns out, it's a Dilla production so that's yet another reason to include it this episode! The original "Stakes Is High" was a great record of course, but this remix definitely stands eye-to-eye with it. You should recognise how the bass is based around the main melody of the original, and I think the drums here are actually better. This is how you rework one of your own classics.

Grussle : S.U.F.L.A.N

I thought I'd already played a track from The Beat Tape Project's "The Ghostface Beat Tape" album, but I was wrong! Anyway, this is a nice track I found on there which I could definitely hear the man in question rhyming on. Grussle is a producer from the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area who has a well-stocked Soundcloud page, so if you like this then give it a visit and check him out!

Cake Boys (Illa J & Frank Nitt) : Do It For Dilla Dawg

Win! Heard a rough instrumental on one of the many compilations of Dilla beats that you see circulating, and always loved it - great to see it used at last. Family affair on this one, with his brother Illa J and longtime friend and colleague Frank Nitt (of Frank N Dank) grabbing the mic. Dilla's beat on this is just super-staccato on the verses, with a super-tight snare and those stabs coming out with the little delay/reverb going on. Fire. Got this on the "Rebirth Of Detroit" CD this month at Manchester's "J Dilla Changed My Life" gig - there are some other quality tracks on there, so expect me to come back to it in the future!

I.G. Off & Hazadous : The Nicest

I digitised this months ago, ended up not using it, then realised it gave me the perfect bridge between two tracks. It's also an appropriate selection for this month because unfortunately I.G. Off is no longer with us. I.G. Off & Hazadous were actually unsigned according to Discogs, but put out a few 12" singles in the late 90s/early 00s on Spinna's Beyond Real Recordings label. This particular track was on two of those 12"s, as well as the "The Beyond Real Experience" compilation, which also includes a couple of their other cuts.

Phife : #dearDilla

Very new track from another artist who can claim to go way back with Dilla, as part of A Tribe Called Quest of course. Phife said "I’ve been wanting to record a dedication to J Dilla for the longest, it just seemed to finally be the right time to do it," and the patience shows in the quality of the result. Never one to bite his tongue, Phife speaks on what he doesn't like in the scene today, what he remembers from an earlier time, and most importantly - his feelings on the passing of a friend.  Someone I've not come across before, DJ Rasta Root, is on the production and he does a very nice job - taking the same drums as on Slum Village's "Hold Tight" and sampling plenty of Slum/Dilla classics for the hooks. On top of all that, he's got a KC & The Sunshine band loop running through it alongside guests on the keys (V.Rich) and bass (DETOXXX). Fittingly quality material.

Hexs and Miranda : I Don't Know

Friend of the show Hexsagon returns with another piece of quality production! Hexs and his fellow Arizonan, the MC Mr.Miranda have kindly given us the totally free "The H&M EP," which you can get over at their Bandcamp page. It's uptempo for the most part but this is the more reflective closing track, with Hexsagon's clean and refined production leaving the perfect space for Mr.Miranda to shine! On top of all that, it's got a nicely-executed video. Phoenix rising!

Donald Byrd : Onward 'Til Morning

The jazz trumpeter (and Hip-Hop guest star) Donald Byrd passed away in February last year and after sitting in the house listening to some of his stuff, I thought it'd be good to include one of his songs this month. From the 1976 "Caricatures" album, it's hot even before Byrd grabs the trumpet, at which point it becomes amazing. Enjoy the mastery.

The Step Brothers ft. Roc Marciano : See The Rich Man Play

Evidence and The Alchemist have been working together at least since Alchemist was producing stuff like "Worst Comes To Worst" for Dilated Peoples, and at last we get a full-length collaboration project - the "Lord Steppington" album. It's got that backstreet, sample-heavy grittiness to it, and is definitely worth picking up. Also, it has a track called "Swimteam Rastas," so is worth buying for that reason alone :) Anyway, this track is one of my favourites, and Roc Marciano is the perfect guest to close it out - the beat could have some straight from one of his albums. The lyrics and the subdued are definitely conjour in my mind images of a late night casino and the dashed dreams of the gamblers...dope.

Massive Attack : What Your Soul Sings

I never really got into the "100th Window" album, which was a bit of a departure with only 3D of the original members taking part. Despite that, this track was easily a standout for me - beautiful pulsing and gliding production, and the always-interesting Sinead O'Connor on the vocals. Also, although it's subtle, check how much the guitar adds to the track. In fact, that comment just prompted me to do a little web research and it turns out that guitar riff is the only surviving piece of the original six months of recording sessions!

Genaside II : Under The Bridge

One of those little-known favourites from the collection. I didn't even know this was a cover version until a long time after the fact, as I'm not a Red Hot Chili Peppers listener! Great British production from the excellent "New Life 4 The Hunted" LP, working the speed trick of starting around 72bpm and then doubling up in the drums outside the verses. In my opinion, this album top-to-bottom sounds like nothing else. UK reggae singer Rose Windross was a great choice to sing this too, total switcharound from Anthony Kiedis on the original.

Skitz ft. Task Force & Juni : Rainy Day Science (Remix)

The "Sticksman" album had a very different flavour to the debut Skitz producer project "Countryman," which is only to be expected with the nine-year gap. I preferred the first one, but there were definitely good tracks on the second and this is one of the interesting remixes; Brothers Of The Stone's BVA puts in the work here with all kinds of reversing and effects on the vocal samples. On the mic you have some real veterans of the scene, Highbury's Task Force, and then Juni who I don't know - but the whole package works.

Three 6 Mafia : The End

Memphis style, but no Elvis! I bought this one especially for this episode after scouring my collection for the right instrumental for this spot; 70ish BPM is very slow for Hip-Hop, or at least the type I listen to. I'm not a Three 6 listener really but this tense 1996 track is top, DJ Paul and Juicy J on production getting busy with the guitar and drum machine. You can get this on "Chapter 1 : The End," their second album, but funnily enough...it's not the final track! That said, I've done exactly the same thing...

Bricky Mortar : Salford John

At the very end of last month, a man who was loved by many in the two cities of Manchester and Salford passed away. He was younger than me even, and lost his life because of the actions of some of the less evolved among us. I never knew him but certainly knew of him, and some mutual friends are really going through it right now because of his loss. Mancunian stalwart Bricks had done a track to big him up a few months ago, and there's no better time to let you hear it; he takes the idea of the hook from A$AP Ferg's "Shabba" and flips it into our local version on this drum machine workout. Gold indeed, RIP!

STOP PRESS : Dub Phizix, another close friend of John has just today released his own remix of the track here; it's an unrestricted download but he asks that you please make a donation to John's family in exchange - that's more than reasonable I think.

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!

Direct download: Episode_57.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:24am EST

Black Under Pressure

"...and that's what's wrong."

- Bumpy Knuckles

¡Feliz año nuevo! Last month's episode was obviously a special one which called for a particular selection, so there were some killer tunes I couldn't use which I've brought into this one - then combined them with some extra quality material I've managed to get my hands on. 

As mentioned on the voiceover, the podcast is now on TuneIn Radio - that link will allow you to stream any episode on your computer, but you should also be able to find me on the search if you use the Android or iOS mobile apps, a Sonos device, or anything else that allows streaming. Just one more way to get me, and makes it easy to send on to other people to check out (hint hint :) )

Shows for the month coming are dead prez and Pharoahe Monch - don't miss out!


Ken Cheong / Jacques Slade : Never Die Intro

I wish I could find a video of the whole scene, but this will have to do! I was properly rolling the first time I saw this episode of Community, and was determined to use this part to kick off the show for 2014 :) The absurdity of the scene was indicated by the fact that this teacher had supposedly had a track created just for this occasion, and I was pleasantly surprised that you can actually buy the full version - "I Never Die" by the LA rapper Jacques Slade (or "Kustoo"). 

T-Love : Chiquita

A bit of forgotten - or maybe just never-quite-known - Dilla production for the first full track of the episode. T-Love is an LA-native MC who debuted in 2003 with her "Long Way Back" LP, the sampler 12" for which I got this tune from. The discography I can find has her last release in 2010, but this multi-talented woman (she also produces, and was hip-hop editor for Urb magazine) looks to still be active, especially helping other artists coming up. Love indeed!

[DJ Premier] DITC : Thick (Instrumental)

Some late-90s boom bap for you! The slight offbeat-ness of the preceding track makes the mix harder than it might otherwise be, but this one is as on the mark as they come. Got this on a 12" but it's also the first track on the debut posse album by DITC (well, the vocal version, as you'd expect).

Raekwon ft. Mink : Rap Killers

Been searching for this one for absolutely ages, since I heard a snippet of what turned out to be a slightly different version on the second of Raekwon's "Vatican" mixtapes. The French duo Jazz E Cut and Skeezo are behind the boards and their beat bumps along very nicely, with the guitar licks and occasional vocal sample adding the flavour to the rewind-worthy production. Raekwon gives you the crime rhymes, and Mink (who I think is one of his understudies) puts his two cents in - little bit of a mismatch though. Hope your enjoyment of this one matches my pleasure in finding it!

LL Cool J : Life As...

Why, why does this tune never get any burn? Always been a top LL track for me, some straight up hardness from the "Mr.Smith" album, which is overall a bit of a mixed bag. Easy Mo Bee kills it on the beat, arranging a couple of handfuls of tiny stabs alongside his drums and bass to give LL a suitably tough backing for this shortish track. Never worked out why it wasn't just called "Life Of..." though...

Ugly Heroes : Ugly

I only really discovered Apollo Brown when he did the "Trophies" album with O.C, but he's a busy guy for sure. His new collaboration with Chicago's Verbal Kent and fellow Detroit native Red Pill, "Ugly Heroes" came out around the middle of last year, but this bonus track was released online a bit later. Big blasting track with all three members killing the mic outrageously and DJ Eclipse of Non Phixion contributing the cuts. Nice bonus, so do check the album.

Alchemist ft. Littles : Block Value

I'd be surprised if many people know this one - I'm not sure it ever made it to an album. When you get Queensbridge's Littles on a track, you'd be pretty safe to bet your house on him getting on the crime tip, and this one is no exception. The Alchemist takes the opening horns from Kool Moe Dee's "Monster Crack" and puts together a sparse track to keep the focus in the foreground -  most of the time there aren't more than two or maybe three things happening in the instrumental. You can get this on a 12" backed with Mobb Deep, Noyd, and Bars & Hooks' "More Like Us."

Kev Brown : Batida

The beat that grabbed me immediately from last year's "Songs Without Words," which I was checking on Spotify the other week. It reminds me a little of the flavour Pete Rock had on the "Petestrumentals" LP, and would blend beautifully with many of those tracks...just a tip for the bedroom DJs out there ;)

H.U.G : Rebel Radio

A healthy helping of strings from the MPC of J-Zone, who has one of the most unique styles of anyone ever to do it. H.U.G (or Huggy Bear) came out of Zone's camp and rides his beats effortlessly, with this being a prime example. You can get this on the B-side of the "Fuckin Wit Hug" 12" if you look around.

Bumpy Knuckles : Somn'wrong

Been playing this soooo much this month. Bumpy is holding court on the BS he sees in the rap game - a topic he does well - but also puts in the work on the production. This beat is serious, with that snapping and trapping drum track, and all sorts going on in the bass area; the pitch bends and slides make it extra ill. Grab this on Bumpy's "The Mix Files" EP, and turn it up!

Inspectah Deck : Trouble Man

This one gives me that real "Rotten Apple," grimy New York feeling. From Deck's first solo "Uncontrolled Substance," he gives us the thoughts of the man on the street going through it. Pete Rock cooks up the beat, chopping up some vintage Isaac Hayes, and the Sade-borrowed hook has Vinia Mojica making a quick guest appearance. A little buried on the album, but pride of place here!

Roc Marciano ft. Ka & Guilty Simpson : Squeeze

Another track that got a lot of headphone time for me this month. Roc has a knack for the unusual when it comes to production, and this track is a great example - hardly any drums, but hitting the snare drum on the first beat of every bar. Lyrically, it's the street business Roc is a prime exponent of, and his regular collaborator Ka helps out in his incredibly low-key style. Guilty Simpson is the surprise guest; he doesn't have the same kind of quiet flow as the other two, but still turns in a great verse. Easily my favourite track from the "Marci Beaucoup" LP.

[DJ Slip & The Unknown DJ] Compton's Most Wanted : Compton's Lynchin' (Instrumental)

Straight gangster funk on this instrumental version of a track from the "Straight Checkn 'Em" LP, which is an underrated West Coast classic. Get that one for the title track and the hilarious "I Don't Dance," which will surely make a podcast appearance at some point in the future! CMW (led by MC Eiht) were always a quality act but often overlooked (certainly in the UK) as "just another Compton group," which I thought was very unfair. Credit where it's due though - I first heard them on Pete Tong's radio show!

Talib Kweli : Inner Monologue

Half of Black Star, half of Reflection Eternal returns with his new album "Gravitas" which just came out last month. I'm actually not the biggest Talib fan usually but picked this independent release (at a very reasonable price) up to support and was pleased with it! This is the opener, with Talib spitting on what he observes in the current state of the industry over a Khrysis beat. The album is only available through his website, so head over there to get the whole thing!

Naledge ft. Brandun Deshay, J Davey, & Geechi Suede : Pearl Heist

Can't even remember how I stumbled on this one but this space-age thump and bass number from "Chicago Picasso 2" is alright with me :) You might know Naledge from Kidz In The Hall, and he brings along his partner from that group (Double-O) to do the honours on production. Subject matter is kind of all over the place,  but it's all about the flavour here really - especially with Geechi Suede cleaning up on the last verse.

Zero 7 : Pop Art Blue

Probably one of the more popular tracks from the "Yeah Ghost" album; I was lucky enough to hear this one live in concert before the album came out. A bit of a folk-flavoured number, with Martha Tilston on the vocals and the production centering around plenty of brush action on the drums. I've had it on the list of things to play for a while, not sure if it was too much of a left turn here but hopefully it doesn't lose you!

Busta Rhymes & Q-Tip : We Taking Off 

If this doesn't sound like a natural combination to you, you must have forgotten "Scenario," to name but one! One of the few brand new tracks from the new "The Abstract & The Dragon" mixtape which rounds up some of their greatest collaborations from over the years and adds on a few new gems. You can get the tape for free, so what are you waiting for? 

Gang Starr : Say Your Prayers (Instrumental)

Instrumental of one of the short tracks from the classic sophomore album "Step In The Arena," just something that fit nicely here. You're supposed to know that album, by the way :)

Ronny Jordan : Keep Your Head Up

An uplifting selection from a gifted musician who passed away this month, taken from his "Off The Record" LP. Nu Colours' vocalist Faye Simpson gives voice to the sentiment, and Ronny Jordan gets busy with his funky guitar licks in the band. On production, he has a couple of quality guys to help shape the vision - James Poyser (from the Soulquarians collective, and also sunny Sheffield) and Vikter Duplaix. Much respect!

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!

Direct download: Episode_56.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:30pm EST


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