Dec 31, 2017
"So many thoughts in my mind, making it very hard to unwind..."
- Abbey Smith
As we come to the end of what has certainly an eventful year, to put it mildly, the Hip-Hop world lost two people who really committed to the culture; Combat Jack, and DJ Pam The Funkstress. They won't be with us going into 2018, so we need to keep pushing on on their behalf...let's get to it.
Ras Kass : Mike Jack
A little something from Ras' 2009 "Quarterly" mixtape, with him ripping the mic over both direct Michael Jackson samples and the beats from other Hip-Hop tracks that sample MJ. Having recently been to DJ Spinna's brilliant "Forever Michael" party in Manchester, I thought this'd be a good one to open with.
The Mouse Outfit : Escape Music (Instrumental)
The Outfit is continuing to put out strong product with a third album looking to be on the horizon, but here we go back to their first LP - this is the instrumental of the title track. Wonderfully polished production.
Dubbul O ft. Tyler Daley : Do What You Can
Two of my favourite artists on the Manchester scene - certified mic-melter Dubbul O from Mothership Connection alongside half of the brilliant Children of Zeus! Dubbul O's new "Smoka-Motive" EP has a much brighter sound than you might know him for, but it's a style he absolutely nails. Mankub supplies the production for this standout which will be getting even more play when the weather improves!
A Tribe Called Quest : Melatonin
Stress, anxiety, and insomnia are three close companions which can be a lot to bear, and Q-Tip takes it all on in this great song from the final Tribe LP "We got it from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service". Marsha Ambrosius (formerly of Floetry) and Arkansas' Abbey Smith also contribute vocals that really elevate the track to the next level. That snap on each bar between the second and third beats does make it sound like I'm messing up the mix at first :), but it's a nicely jarring little element of the track.
Pudgee Tha Phat Bastard : Keep Ya Coat On
Got this one on a white label, but it's taken from Pudgee's 1993 "Give 'Em The Finger" album. He's probably best known by most for the track "Think Big" with Biggie and Lord Tariq, but he does his thing here, speaking on various people who need to get up out the paint immediately! Tony Dofat is on production with a beat that is very much of its time sonically.
Heavy D : Blue Funk
I can't even front, I wasn't really into this one when it came out but I've come to appreciate it in hindsight! The late, great Heavy D shows his charismatic mic skills on the title track to his fourth and penultimate LP over a beat from his little cousin Pete Rock, complete with some cuts to season the stew.
[Thes One] People Under The Stairs : Youth Explosion (Instrumental)
A 12" from way back in 2000, which I've just found is also available as a digital release if you're interested!
Sugar Bear : Don't Scandalize Mine
Sugar Bear The Powerful Powerlord (not one for subtlety) might qualify for one-hit wonder status within Hip-Hop, but what a hit! He struck gold with his braggadocious rhymes over a classic 80s beat, sampling Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime". Bonus - the video finally surfaced this year, and is worth a watch for some period flavour!
Zion I : Revolution (B-Boy Anthem)
All the way back to the first full track on the debut Zion I album right here; they had a very unique sound for an American group, with a lot of influence from D&B and other electronic forms. This one, true to the title, is like a late-century take on electro courtesy of Amp Live, with Zumbi on the mic and DJ Vinroc putting in a guest appearance on the turntables.
Miguel Migs : Getaway
To be strictly accurate, this closing track from the "Outside The Skyline" album features the vocalist George Levin, but this is just the intro to the track. I think that swirling, almost wah-wah synth pattern combined with that bassline is a winner :)
Michael Trapson : Startin' Somethin'
It's been about a year and a half since I last played something by this guy on the podcast, but he's a regular in the headphones! You can tell by the way he portrays MJ that he's a fan, and his impersonation is pretty on-point. This is a digital-only single release which was well worth the quid I paid. When you have a track that's funny but also well-executed, it's a pleasant surprise!
Photek : Quadrant
If this wasn't so fast, it'd be a perfect one to mix with Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot" - the kick drum pattern/tone change is pretty much identical! A clear favourite from the "KU:PALM" album.
Talib Kweli ft. Anderson .Paak : Traveling Light
I remember when Talib was one of the new guard coming up on the underground, and all these years later he's nothing short of a fixture in the scene. "Radio Silence", released last month, is his eighth solo album, and this cut from it is fire. Kaytranada on production and Anderson guesting bring things bang up-to-date. The hidden highlight for me? That weird, distorted, vocoded scream in the hook!
Killer Mike ft. Emily Panic : Anywhere But Here
Another year, and sadly, this 2012 track from "R.A.P. Music" is as relevant as ever. Mike speaks on police violence, first in New York, and moves to Atlanta to find things no better. The grinding beat by El-P fits the heaviness of the subject matter, and as I've said before, you can see how Run The Jewels ended up coming together. I had to look up Emily Panic, who contributes the hook and outro - she's a comic and a musician, but no joke here, all business.
Samantha James : Find A Way
Maybe not everyone's speed, but I love this tune. Samantha James has one of those incredibly clear singing voices - not overpoweringly loud, just clean and precise. The production of Sebastian Arocha Morton keeps her in the forefront of this solidly midtempo track from her sophomore album "Subconscious", which is well worth getting if you like this!
Children of Zeus : This Christmas
Rounding off a great year for them, Children of Zeus re-release some seasonal love vibes, with Tyler Daly taking the lead vocally. Get your own copy ready for next year either from Soundcloud or as part of the "Two Syllables Volume 14" compilation!
JS aka The Best : Love Affair
Seriously though, I want to know if people really do just call JS "The Best" as a matter of course. Anyway, he does a good job here on his contribution to "The Ghostface Beat Tape" from Washington's The Beat Tape Project :)
The Coup : Tight
We close proceedings this month with what has long since become a rarity (a DJ track on a Hip-Hop album), from a recently departed member of the Hip-Hop family. The late DJ Pam The Funkstress gets to take centre stage with her turntables and show a few of the skills that made her respected.
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!