Mar 27, 2020
"We'll get the drums goin' so y'all can dance again, don't worry..."
- "Old Man" Ebro
I think it's fair to say that this has been a month like no other, certainly in the UK, where the restrictions on movement that other places in the world were ahead of us on finally came down. These are strange times where we're all trying to get used to new ways of living, but I hope this month's show has some tunes that can lift your mood a little!
As mentioned in the show, Hip-Hop Chip Shop are selling gift vouchers which you can cash in when the restaurant opens back up - and crucially, for every one bought, they'll donate a meal to someone in need!
Twitter : @airadam13
Heltah Skeltah : Operation Lock Down
The sampler 12" for the "Nocturnal" LP made its way onto my turntables this month, and this old 90s favourite wormed its way into my head as a possible inclusion for this episode. I umm-ed and ahh-ed but a chat with someone whose opinion I respect convinced me to go with it. Actually referring to Heltah Skeltah and Boot Camp Clik's goal to lock down the industry, it was a big statement of intent for the Ruck (Sean Price) and Rock, two MCs making their entry to the game. The skills are on display without question though, and this track is notable for being a reach outside their camp for production - E-Swift of Tha Alkaholiks is on the boards for the woozy, dreamlike thump. Big tune then, and unexpectedly fitting now.
Abstract Orchestra : Eyes Up
Great version of a solid Slum Village beat. Abstract Orchestra have been touring and recording for a while with their takes on J Dilla material, and along with the current lineup of Slum Village, they've finally released "Fantastic 2020", a version of the classic "Fantastic, Volume 2" with instrumental and vocal tracks. By the way - make sure to buy the two-disc CD version for all the content!
Voodoo Black ft. LayFullStop : In The Mood
Voodoo Black have been getting ratings here since the start - and it was an honour to have Dubbul O, one of the MCs, here as a guest last year - and so it's with great pleasure that we can talk about their debut LP! "Sitting At The Table" will have just been released as you read this, and it's a lean ten-track collection that does Manchester proud. Ellis Meade, Sparkz, and Dubbul O are joined on this particular number by adopted Manchester daughter LayFullStop, who really does set the mood on top of the DJ Cutterz beat. It's always great to see sustained effort come out on top!
Kombo ft. Vinia Mojica : Sands Of Time
I played the wicked B-side to this back on episode 2 (!), then filed the vinyl back on the shelf from where it occasionally made outings - but only as part of the recent effort to digitise my collection has the A-side really got the deep listening it deserved. Ge-ology on the chilled beat perfectly scores Kombo's love rhymes, and Vinia Mojica keeps it subtle with her vocal contribution.
Little Brother : Altitudes (Flyin' High)
Another great B-side that may have escaped your notice! Back in 2002, Little Brother were making noise on the underground as a promising crew on the rise - one of the first to blow up primarily on the internet - and their single "Whatever You Say" was a mixshow/mixtape staple of the time. Tucked away at the very end of the B-side was this little gem that didn't make the album (but was later heard on "The Chittlin Circuit 1.5"), themed around aviation and featuring classic 9th Wonder production underneath confident rhymes from Phonte and Big Pooh.
Consequence ft. Phife Dawg : No Place Like Home
One of the last tracks Phife ever recorded, this was a great release from last year. These two real-life cousins who both made their different contributions to A Tribe Called Quest over the years come together in an ode to their home of Queens over a smooth beat by Cons and Mike Cash, with Alex Isley on the hook. Yes, that "Isley" does in fact link directly to the famous Isley Brothers - the songwriting and multi-instrumentalist legend Ernie is her father!
Superior Thought : Sky
I was amazed I hadn't played this already - quality sample-heavy beat by a producer and engineer out of London, a 2011 release that feels like it was only out a few weeks ago! Pick this one up on the "S'strumentals" LP along with twenty-three other beats, and all for free!
Clear Soul Forces : Kraken
Always here for some CSF. Ilajide brings the bump as always, and on the mic, all the MCs are representing lovely. This was available on the Fat Beats 25th Anniversary Compilation from last year, but CSF have a brand new LP out which is well worth checking!
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib ft. Anderson .Paak : Giannis
Anderson does his thing here for sure, but Gibbs is unquestionably the star turn on the mic here. Waka Flocka Flame recently admitted being a "wack rapper" but said "my realness overcame my wackness". Freddie Gibbs has the realness and the skills. This is one of the big tunes from his second LP with Madlib, "Bandana", which is definitely worth your time for a listen. The quick line that gives the track its title ("real Gs move in silence like Giannis") might not be the first time someone has referenced a silent "G" in that way, but then Gibbs builds off it immediately afterwards like the elite MC that he is.
The Cool Kids ft. Louis The Child : Super Smash Bros
Tim Dog's "Fuck Compton" was an angry diss. Pusha T dripped with disgust at Drake's conduct on "The Story of Adidon". This? This is... disdainful. Dismissive. The Cool Kids sound like they're just annoyed they had to take time out of their day to address people who aren't coming up to standard. It's also kind of amusing to me that here's a group I remember as the new young artists - now, several years down the line, they are older heads disappointed about how the new generation of youngsters are doing it! Wicked single, with fellow Illinois natives Louis The Child providing the booming beat. Full marks for the inspired sampling of Ebro's rant for the break after the first verse; if you didn't know (and I didn't at first), you'd think this was recorded specifically for this track!
Stic : Motivated
It is so time for a second album of motivational music by Stic of dead prez! The original "The Workout" was an original and welcome release for those in the know, and hopefully the sequel can gather even more of a following. Here, his dramatic production comes through with "Eye of the Tiger" vibes filtered through a Hip-Hop mentality, with a positive lyrical message of pushing forward to victory!
DJ Bombjack : From The Depths Of The Soul
Another one that popped up in my vinyl conversion mission, this is a nice instrumental from a UK DJ and producer from the 1999 "The Brothers Grim" EP.
De La Soul : The Future
Supa Dave West made this one thump! This is the opener on "The Grind Date", and the sampled hook points to an mix of optimism about the future and a determination to shape it. The solid two verses speak on the unquestionably strong legacy De La have carved out over the years - and they're not done yet.
Lisa Shaw : I'm Okay
This was a track from the 2009 "Free" album that I overlooked for a long time in favour of some of the others, but have grown to appreciate. Lisa's voice has the kind of cool clarity that points to the influence of Sade, and Dave Warrin keeps the production low-key to give her space to breathe.
Jazzanova : No Use
A personal headphone favourite which somehow hadn't been played on the show yet! Jazzy (as you'd expect), continental, breezy production from the German production collective, with the kind of delicate balancing of elements that so many fail to master. Clara Hill's lead vocals fit in perfectly, making this a really satisfying listen. The "In Between" album is almost twenty years old, but hasn't really aged at all.
Pete Rock ft. Carl McIntosh & Jane Eugene : Take Your Time
If you've never heard Pete Rock's "Soul Survivor" LP, it's a must-own - he takes an imaginative selection of excellent guests and knocks it out of the park with his stellar production. This is a prime example, where he shows his appreciation for talent that wasn't necessarily "current" at the time, bringing in McIntosh and Eugene of the seminal UK group Loose Ends to lend their soulful vibes. The beat is a relaxed head-nodder supreme, and Pete gets it done on the mic too - not breaking your head open with crazy bars, just staying in the pocket, which is what the track needs.
MindsOne & Kev Brown : Manipulated (Instrumental)
Kev Brown really is one of the best when it comes to those basslines. My god. Serious beat from the 2014 "Pillars" EP.
The Notorious B.I.G. : Hypnotize
A huge tune to finish, one which can't fail to put a smile on your face! I first heard this one in a club, likely just before its official release, and the reaction it got was something special. The first single from "Life After Death", and the last Biggie record to be released before his death, this was a perfect combination of elements. Biggie's rhymes had skills for the streets but still appealed to the club and radio, The Hitmen took the Herb Alpert "Rise" sample and gave it new energy, and Total's Pamela Long nailed the infectious, sing-along hook. Fittingly for our current times, that hook is almost exactly twenty seconds long, making it a perfect timer for thorough hand-washing. So fresh, so clean.
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!