Jun 30, 2020
"Why you think Bobby and Huey P were heat holding?"
- Toki Wright
It's been a very up and down month, which I imagine isn't at all a unique experience. This episode reflects some of that, marking the eleventh birthday of the podcast while also recognising the incredible Black Lives Matter street protests that have been taking place over the last few weeks. The selection takes that as the main theme, and I think it's a solid mix that you'll enjoy - and one where almost everyone will learn one new track at least.
By the way, today would be a good day to arrest the murderers who killed Breonna Taylor.
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Cappadonna : Splish Splash
I'd been thinking about doing that little doubles manipulation and scratch on a mixtape for about twenty years - no exaggeration! Cappadonna blew everyone away with his debut on Ghostface's "Winter Warz", and his debut LP "The Pillage" was highly anticipated by Wu fans. I think it's reasonable to say it maybe didn't live up to the outsized expectations, but there were a few standouts and for me, this was one of them. Only a short track, but Tru Master's beat is solid and Cappa knows what to do with it.
Jay Dee : Fuck The Police (Instrumental)
Love this beat, Dilla had these drums banging right through the speakers. This 2001 single-only release is a classic in Dilla's catalogue, written after suffering one of many incidents of police harassment in his hometown of Detroit. It was slated for the long-shelved "The Diary" album, but MCA records didn't want the heat and so it got the release as a 12" on Up Above Records. A must-have, in my opinion!
N.W.A : Fuck Tha Police
The iconic anthem. This is the track that got a group of young (Eazy-E, at 25, was the oldest) Black men from Compton and Los Angeles onto the radar of the FBI, and into an indelible place in music history. I've only played Ice Cube's verse here, as I wanted to blend into the next cut which carries on in the same sonic vein. I figure every listener already knows this track well, or should be putting "listen to Straight Outta Compton" on their homework lists immediately!
B.Dolan ft. Toki Wright, Jasiri X, and Sage Francis : Film The Police
I only stumbled upon this one this month, and it's so perfectly fitting that there's no way it was getting left out of the selection. Just because of the length (it's around six minutes long, as is the NWA track before), I omitted Jasiri X's verse, but of course it's on the full version on the "House of Bees, Vol. 2" album. Dolan is an MC out of Rhode Island, while Toki Wright is from Minneapolis - home of the late George Floyd. This is a great re-working of "Fuck The Police" in an era-appropriate way; while almost all of us walk around with pocket video cameras today, the Rodney King tape was notable not for the violence, but the fact it was recorded.
EPMD : Give The People (Remix)
The original version of this track as heard on "Business As Usual" lifts the groove from the O'Jays "Give The People What They Want" heavily, but this version de-emphasises it and piles in enough other samples to give a lawyer a heart attack! I personally prefer this mix, which is a bit less obvious (and harder to find). Lyrically, the track is primarily about the difficulties Hip-Hop had finding acceptance in the era in which it was recorded, but with a sprinkling of the wider politics in there, and the perfect title, I thought it was a good one to go with.
The P Brothers : Across The Planet (Instrumental)
This track turned up for me while undertaking my vinyl digitisation project, and with The P Brothers, the quality is always going to be there. The veteran Nottingham crew are responsible for some of the most uncompromising material ever to emerge from these shores, and this track is no exception. The vocal version on the 12" single features Imam T.H.U.G on the mic, with a heavy Cappo track on the flip. The Akala sample I laid over the top came from his brilliant two-part IG Live session which you can find here and here.
Above The Law : Freedom Of Speech
The 1990 "Livin' Like Hustlers" LP is arguably one of the greatest "gangsta" albums of the era, and some of that was because they comfortably covered different topics and sounds without it ever sounding forced. Uptempo here - by modern standards - Cold 187um and KMG (RIP) ride a classic Myra Barnes sample (it's out there, I'm not snitching) and talk about the atmosphere of censorship that was around Hip-Hop, as well as the role of parents. Definitely check the album if you don't already know it.
Saigon : Shok TV
Dug this DJ Shok-produced cut out from its place on "The Best of Saigon, Pt. 2" to take a position in this month's selection, "Hill Street Blues" sample and all! Saigon has always had a social/political streak in his content, coming from a very street perspective, which I think comes across in this very short track. A 2003 recording, this preceded his long-awaited debut LP by eight years - when you listen to both, you can hear how he refined his style without drastically changing it.
Apple Juice Kid : Protest
A fitting pick from an album about a very different revolution, in Egypt in 2011 - seems an age ago already. The "Beats of a Revolution" album is still available on Bandcamp, and as a free download you really can't go wrong.
Anderson .Paak : Lockdown
Big new single that captures so much of what's been going on this year. The Black Lives Matter protests and the violent reply of the state would have been incredibly significant on their own, but at the same time as the coronavirus pandemic...your grandchildren will be asking you about what it was like to survive these times. This timely track is one where it's worth seeing the video as well.
Mobb Deep : U.S.A. (Aiight Then)
It's been three years since Prodigy passed so I totally wanted to drop one of his records here - my first thought was "Real Power Is People", but in the end this quasi-unity track from "Murda Muzik" was a better sonic fit. It's actually got a little bit of a club feel to it without pandering, and was definitely a welcome inclusion on the LP. This was also a single release with "Spread Love" on the flip, which is pretty much the other end of the goodwill spectrum, don't be fooled by the title...
Sampa The Great : Final Form
"The Return" is a wicked album with an array of styles, but this was the first track many would have heard - Sampa stamping her authority on a beat based around the same break as Ghostface's "Be Easy". Silentjay is on production, taking that sample as a base but building out from there, and Sampa gets very busy with it.
X-Vandals : A Poem For Black Boys
I happened across the "The War of Art" album when I got it from one of the crew in Spanish Harlem at a Tools of War park jam a good few years back! It's taken me a while to find just the right spot for one of their tracks, but this is perfect. The production is courtesy of Johnny "Juice" Rosado (who did scratches for Public Enemy for many years), and the bulk of the vocal is a sample he laid in - the voice and words of the poet Nikki Giovanni, with a dark and sardonic poem of resistance.
Ta'Raach : Yeah! (Instrumental)
It's been a long, long time since I played the vocal version on the show, so I think it's fair enough to drop Ta'Raach's ill instrumental here! If you see a copy of the 12", definitely pick it up.
Public Enemy : State Of The Union (STFU)
Unless I'm very much mistaken, this new single is the first beat DJ Premier has ever done for Public Enemy - two iconic forces combining at last! It should be obvious for anyone who knows about PE at all that conscious and rebel music has been their lane from the very start, and so this is very much in keeping with their long and storied history. Chuck D may be very much an elder statesman but that voice and that message are as raw as ever! You don't need to go to the usual download sites to get this one - go straight to the Public Enemy website for the real.
Waajeed ft. Tiombe Lockhart : The Overtaking
Detroit comes to the selection a second time (after Ta'Raach) with the ominous opening track from the excellent "The War LP". It grinds along with almost a slow dark metal vibe, and Tiombe Lockhart creeps in and out as the voice of the people.
DJ Vadim ft. Phi-Life Cypher : Ghetto Rebels
I had completely forgotten about this one, and I don't know how, because this is killer. The basslines (there are several, at different points) will have your system under pressure, then Phi-Life just drown you in a lyrical tidal wave. It's unusual to hear Hip-Hop coming from a Rasta perspective, but you can definitely hear it in their words. DJ Vadim's "U.S.S.R. The Art of Listening" features some very serious production, and is available used for a very reasonable price either as a download or on the used market on CD.
Gang Starr : Riot Akt
Tucked away on the back half of "The Ownerz", the last Gang Starr LP to be released during Guru's lifetime, we find this dose of reality. Guru's message of focusing on the real threats and drawing together to protect the community may have been written in 2003, but is 100% on the nose right now. Everything down to the militarised police, tear gas, and corruption are the things that have been the case for years, but in the last few months we've seen them in HD and on social media.
Enes Suleman : Lo Quiero Todo (Instrumental)
The Impressions : We're A Winner
An uplifting, motivational song to close the month, and one which was an anthem of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This pre-dates tracks like James Brown's "Say It Loud", and was a trailblazer in being as straightforward a statement of Black pride and the righteousness of the struggle as it is. Curtis Mayfield, the frontman of The Impressions, wrote this track after the concept came to him in a dream. When it came time to record, the group brought a live audience into the studio to give it extra flavour - I think you'll agree, it really adds something. This was a big single that was also the title track to the first of two 1968 albums by The Impressions, and deserves to be heard in full here.
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!