Jul 30, 2019
"Scripture tell me no one excluded when rain drippin'..."
- Tobe Nwigwe
This month has been a rough one, but here we are once again with a brand new selection for your headphones and speakers! We remember the great KMG, and then sprinkle the selection with some strong UK tracks, overlook gems, rapid genre jumping, and one absolutely amazing remix. While individually there aren't many obscurities in the mix, I'll be impressed if anyone already knows every track on here...
Twitter : @airadam13
Above The Law : V.S.O.P (Remix)
Been waiting a long time to play this one - it was quite a few years of looking to find a decent 12" copy (thanks Discogs!), and then it was one I was determined to save for an anniversary of KMG's passing. The original from the excellent "Black Mafia Life" is proto-G-Funk, but this version puts a just a touch of extra chaos (and bass) into the mix, courtesy of Cold 187um on both occasions. An ode to late-night partying and cognac, but still bringing the battle edge to the second verse, this has KMG handling the hook solo but going back and forth with Cold 187um on the mic. A much underrated tag team from the west!
Jigmastas : Too Ill (Instrumental)
I love the fact that the "Resurgence" album came with a complete set of instrumentals, just so you can get that DJ Spinna flavour undiluted - here's just a taste!
Tobe Nwigwe ft. FAT : PEEP GAME
Another #GetTwistedSundays killer! I'm bringing this Texan back for a second appearance in the last four months, with a track I think a lot of you will really enjoy. The producer Nell brings a fresh style, with some great change-ups in the beat - and the other half of the bargain is held up with skills galore. Tobe absolutely crams meaning (and syllables) into his devastating monotone flow, and his wife FAT provides a great spoken-word-like breakdown in an efficient eight-bar appearance. This is a trio of brilliant artists (along with their video crew) doing amazing things.
BADBADNOTGOOD ft. Kaytranada & Snoop Dogg: Lavender (Nightfall Remix)
Canada's BBNG first released the original version of this track on their "IV" album, but Snoop Dogg heard it and somehow knew it could benefit from his own unique enhancement! This version ended up as an inclusion on his 2017 "Neva Left" album; his added verse addressing police brutality, in addition to the controversial video, thrust it into the consciousness of a much larger audience.
DRS : All Time High
I was reminded of this track from the new "From The Deep" LP when DRS performed it live at a Manchester International Festival event recently. He's one of the most important artists the Manchester scene has ever had, with his influence spreading far and wide - whether fully acknowledged or not. While he's now mostly known for his drum & bass work, he was of course one-third of Broke 'n' English (alongside Strategy and Konny Kon) and this album has him displaying his Hip-Hop skills over the production of Pitch 92.
Lowkey : Hand On Your Gun
If you like politics in your Hip-Hop, then Lowkey is someone you should definitely be checking for - a British MC of Iraqi descent, he brings his worldview to the mic with strength every time. His second album, "Soundtrack To The Struggle" gives us this stinging condemnation of some of the big players in the global arms trade, with ShowNProve providing the Wild West-themed track.
Kaytranada ft. Karriem Riggins and River Tiber : Bus Ride
A nice instrumental from the "99.9%" album. The guest star Karriem Riggins gets busy on the drums in a subtle way through most of the track before showing out right at the end with a little double-time flair!
Children of Zeus : Respect Mine
"Travel Light" is now a year old and it's still getting just as much play as it did on release! Juga-Naut on production, Mr.Thing on the sharp cuts, and Tyler and Konny Kon putting it down on the mic make up a major league quartet.
Robert Glasper Experiment ft. Norah Jones : Let It Ride
As strong as this track is, it's not even one of my top three from "Black Radio 2", which speaks to just how good that album is! Mark Colenburg earns his money on the double-time drumming that you'd think had to be a programmed drum machine, setting a furious pace that the rest of the groove languidly follows. The bass and piano are low-key and do their thing without upstaging Norah Jones on the vocal of this classy cut.
Janelle Monáe : Cold War
This is an absolutely furious cut. The video is definitely worth a watch - similar to the one for Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U", it stays focused on her face for the entire running length and is packed with emotion, as are the lyrics. Clearly one of the standouts on "The ArchAndroid", with the themes of isolation and struggle articulated by one of the best artists of this era.
OutKast : B.O.B
I've been wanting to do the blend from "Cold War" to this for ages! One of my favourite tracks from this duo, this pretty much made my brain explode when I first heard it back in 2000. I was surprised to find out recently that this wasn't a big hit even on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts, but they were actively trying to go against the grain and a lot of the audience probably just wasn't ready. To me, this is Andre and Big Boi at the peak of their lyrical games, keeping up with a track that really would fit the name "organised noize" - but was actually produced by the group themselves alongside Mr.DJ. That's a real gospel choir you're hearing on the hook and the outro, a really serious guitarist letting loose all over the track, and a real MPC being beaten into submission for those drums. Stone classic from the "Stankonia" LP. Oh, and "got a son on the way by the name of Bamboo"? Well, time flies...
[The Alchemist] Cam'ron : Wet Wipes (Instrumental)
This fit the bill here as something electronic-sounding that was also half the speed of the frenetic OutKast track, allowing us to come back down to earth a bit. The Alchemist cooked up a thudding, menacing beat for what was a typically disrespectful Cam'ron track from 2006's "Killa Season". This was actually Alchemist's first MPC beat (he was a devotee of the ASR-10 up to this point) and has the chopping and aggression that is very reminiscent of a track he did years later, Raekwon's "Surgical Gloves".
The Lady of Rage : Raw Deal
I finally sat down to listen to the "Necessary Roughness" album from front to back for the first time recently, and I can confirm that it was indeed slept-on. This was probably a consequence of it being pushed further and further back by Death Row, until it finally got a very quiet release in 1997. If you'd forgotten about the skills that made her a people's favourite, here's a reminder over a Daz Dillinger and Tyrone Wrice beat, laid-back enough to give her the space to get busy.
Glenn Lewis : Don't You Forget It (Curtis Lynch Remix)
FIRE 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥! The original Glenn Lewis cut from "World Outside My Window") has always been a favourite of mine, and it's one you don't want to mess up with a clumsy remix - for example, the Desert Storm attempt with the most "missing the point" guest rap verse in music history. I can't remember how I found this one, but it stunned me - the re-interpretation is perfect. Lewis is from Trinidadian and Jamaican roots, and the move to connect with someone like London's Curtis Lynch for this remix was a natural but also an inspired move. It sounds like this one has been re-voiced rather than just swapping instrumentals, and it's a rootsy dancehall masterpiece with the drums, bass, and every single accent on point. Turn this one all the way up!
London Grammar : Non Believer
I'm not even sure what genre you'd count this as - Wikipedia claims "indie pop", but even that doesn't quite hit the mark. For me there are definite vibes of what they used to call "trip-hop" - I can imagine previous eras of Portishead or Massive Attack doing a tune like this. This track from "Truth Is A Beautiful Thing" is itself a melancholic beautiful thing, with Hannah Reid's crystal-clear vocals soaring over the moody beat.
Sean Price & Illa Ghee : 2Pac by the Locker
If you know "Juice", you know what this title is all about! I'd describe the track as "short and sweet", if there was anything remotely street about it. Sean P and Illa Ghee come through like a pair of brass knuckles as they do on every other cut on the "Metal Detectors" EP - just beasting.
Jake One : Gangsta Boy (Instrumental)
Coming through slamming like a new take on Dre's "Lyrical Gangbang", this is a monster of a beat from Jake One's "White Van Music Instrumentals". It had to be, since the MCs on the vocal version are the rugged neva smoove M.O.P.
Raekwon : Canal Street
Raekwon is one of the greatest picture painters in Hip-Hop history and this is an absolute art masterclass. From the first lines "All of our fathers is bank robbers, holding TECs/Eights of hero'n, shooting in the steps" he grabs your mind's eye and never lets it go until the track ends. Flawless street imagery all the way from "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...Pt.II" to such an extent that the video actually takes away from it! Icewater Productions bring a fairly well-used sample in that brings the crime-flick menace the lyrical content demands. One nice touch on the production side - the sudden turn up of the volume in a matter of a beat or two in the transition from the intro to the first verse - definitely makes it hit you in the chest.
EDIT : This is the second time ever I've accidentally re-used a track on the podcast! If ever there was one to play twice though...
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!