Dec 30, 2019
"...so instead, you prefer to be lied to."
This feels very much like the stance needed at the end of a rough year on many fronts. Still, we're here on the cusp of a new decade, but we play out this one with a (mostly) wintry selection from both sides of the Atlantic which will take you into 2020 in fine style. Thanks for your continued support - I hope to continue bringing you quality material!
Twitter : @airadam13
Bugzy Malone : December
Thought I'd take the opportunity to play this new track while it's still this month! Manchester's Bugzy Malone is primarily associated with the grime scene, but this single leans into contemporary straightforward Hip-Hop as much as anything else. When you hear his voice there's no mistaking where he's from, and this new release has him reflecting on how things have worked out for him after years of work as an independent artist. The heavy beat by Krunchie and Zdot sounds like the darkest timeline of a Xmas advert - good work!
[El-P] Run The Jewels : Twin Hype Back (Instrumental)
Dr. Yen Lo : Day 70
It's been well over 30 episodes since we last played anything this LP, so I thought it was due a revisit. Ka on the mic and Preservation on the low-key production is perfect for this time of year, cold and wintry. Take time to listen properly to Ka's lyrics - always an absolute treat.
DJ Jazzy Jeff : The Government's Dead
Jazzy Jeff's "M3" LP definitely seems to have passed most people by, but it's definitely worth checking - a very different vibe to his previous albums, but still very well done. The band recruited and produced by Jeff cook up a jazzy groove which starts off sparse and light and then builds into a crashing wave. Lyrics come from "The Trinity" - Rhymefest (an early writer for Kanye), Uhmeer (Jeff's son), and Dayne Jordan - in multiple forms, from spoken word to rhyme to song.
Phonte : Euphorium (Back To The Light)
Little Brother's return this year with "May The Lord Watch" is an essential, but so was the most recent Phonte solo, "No News Is Good News". This was a beautiful closing track to the album, with Phonte starting off displaying a little of his singing skill before switching up to spit some bars - very much a reflection of him feeling free to be his whole self, as he says. Abjo out of San Diego provides the production, which feels faster than the 70-ish BPM it is while also having a lighter feel than much of the 140 BPM stuff that we hear now.
Curren$y & Harry Fraud ft. Styles P : W.O.H.
This sample usage by Harry Fraud is an absolute gem. Kind of in keeping with the original track, it's the soundtrack to a mental image of someone who needs to get out of town in a hurry. Curren$y stunts on everyone in his trademark fashion, but also brings in Styles from The LOX for a little extra flavour on the closing verse. Definitely my favourite track from the "Cigarette Boats" EP, and 100% perfect nighttime driving music.
Jan Hammer : Airport Swap
This track and the previous one almost got saved for a future planned podcast, but hey...there are always more records! Taken from the "Miami Vice" TV series soundtrack (the episode "No Exit"), this is classic 80s Jan Hammer. Production trivia - those electric guitar sounds are all synthesized, no strings in sight.
Gang Starr ft. Q-Tip : Hit Man
I was making some mad faces the first time I heard this track - DJ Premier absolutely put his whole foot into this beat. Straight gangster (appropriate) material from the biggest surprise release of the decade, "One of the Best Yet". Guru's monotone is so clean on here, on something not a million miles away from "Sabotage" on "The Ownerz", and the hook is provided by none other than Q-Tip from Tribe, doing his best gun sounds!
Blak Twang : 19 Long Time
The title track of the first Blak Twang album to get a proper release (the long-lost "Dettwork SouthEast" didn't surface until 2014 for most of us), this 1998 cut is undeniable. Tony Rotton looks back at all the Hip-Hop experiences that brought him to that point, with references that UK heads of a certain age can relate to. The beat is quality, well-mixed with plenty of bump for your speakers. Random trivia : it's odd to think that since this was released, both of the veteran travel agents mentioned in the third verse have gone out of business...
Raekwon ft. Havoc : King of Kings
I guess the title makes it seasonal? Anyway, this is one of the gems on the somewhat patchy third album from Raekwon, "The Lex Diamond Story". I'd assumed that Havoc had done the production here, but on checking the credits I find it's actually Crummie Beats, who's worked with Illa Ghee and Sean P amongst others. Havoc and Rae are experts in delivering that dark NYC street vibe, so there's no surprises when it comes to the bars.
MED, Blu, and Madlib ft. Dâm-Funk and DJ Romes : Peroxide
I only got up on this one recently - a defining aspect of the past decade for me has been such a deluge of music releases that it's common for great records to pass you by for years at a time! 2015's "Bad Neighbor" LP is a collaboration with the widely-popular Madlib on production and MED and Blu on the mic, but this particular track features original Lootpack member DJ Romes on the cuts and the LA retro god Dâm-Funk giving the tune some electronic flavour.
Ilajide : Breakin (Instrumental)
This one kind of crept up, a quiet banger from the "Five Week Heet IV" release. If you're a regular listener then you're probably well up on the brilliant producer from Clear Soul Forces, but if not - search out his stuff!
The Coup ft. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien : The Repo Man Sings For You
I feel like there's a replayed melody here during the verse and sung on the hook that I should recognise, but just can't put my finger on! It sounds like something that would be on the soundtrack for a Hip-Hop retelling of "A Christmas Carol", with the repo man (played by Del) heartlessly and gleefully confiscating goods from a debtor, and Boots (also the producer) playing the put-upon poor worker who is his victim. This is a highlight on the excellent "Steal This Album" which is also an appropriate track to play at a time when Black people are often omitted in the discussion of who is "working class".
Big Hutch : True Lies
Very apt in our seemingly post-truth world... This is a pick from the first solo album by Hutch (aka Cold 187um of Above The Law), 1999's "Executive Decisions". Self-produced as you'd expect from the man who arguably invented G-Funk, it's an ominous one which in my opinion would just have been elevated by slightly better mastering.
Tobi Sunmola : Good Guys Don't Survive
Tobi is a Nigerian-born, Manchester-based MC I learned about from Dubbul O (who gives him a shout here). This man is getting a lot of respect from those in the know, so get yourself up to speed with the title track from his 2018 EP. The drum track that underpins the beat is perfection, and Tobi's voice slices through with ease, allowing us to appreciate his writing.
Frameworks ft. Rioghnach Connolly : Calm The Still Night
Rioghnach is an incredibly talented musician, and someone I came across early in my time on the Manchester music circuit, with both of us at the same open mic/jam sessions. She's gone from strength to strength since then, and she combines here with another star of the local scene, producer Frameworks. This is a lovely chilled-out song, deftly constructed, which was released both as a single from the "Tides" LP and also on one of the First Word Records compilations.
Mudstone : The Tourist
Another quality beat from the "Return of the Tec" beat tape, courtesy of The Beat Tape Project. I couldn't dig up much (no pun intended) in the way of background on Mudstone, but s/he does their thing here.
The Honey Drippers : Impeach The President
I couldn't not play this, with only the third ever impeachment of a US president underway! As you'd almost certainly twig from the sound, this funk classic was released during the Watergate scandal - when Nixon, of course, managed to avoid actual impeachment by resigning first. Roy C of "Shotgun Wedding" fame is the man on the lead vocal, with his lyrics being timeless enough to fit the current indictee perfectly. One of the most often sampled records in all of Hip-Hop, this track gives us some of the best drums ever to enter an SP or an MPC! Not bad work for a band of high school students from Queens :)
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!