Aug 29, 2020
"How it took you thirty years just to sound aiiight?"
- Rustee Juxx
2020 continues...feels like all you can say! I didn't get chance to include any Malik B (RIP) last month, but have fixed it this time with a couple of his best verses, alongside other late greats like Sean P and Aaliyah, plus remembering some truly classic albums. Light on the new releases this time, we dig back into the crates...
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JoJo Pellegrino ft. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon : 3 Kings
Coming out of the gate strong on this single, with Ghostface owning the Yountie Tha Noize-produced track in the first few bars! That said, everyone does an excellent job on the mic, including Pellegrino, an MC from the same general area of Staten Island as many of the Wu-Tang - Ghost and Rae included. No pause for a hook, just lyrics on lyrics on lyrics.
[Alchemist] Twin & Alchemist : Different Worlds (Instrumental)
Ah, the early days of Alchemist! One of the most respected in the game, and one who has been associated with two highly significant crews from opposite sides of the country - the Soul Assassins from LA, and the Mobb Deep family in NYC. This is some of his fairly early work with the latter, a 12" from 2001; this beat is dope, but "Big T.W.I.N.S" on the flip is even better!
The Roots ft. Dice Raw, M.A.R.S, and Co-Op : Clones
One time for Malik B! This is a classic single from The Roots' "Illadelph Halflife" album, packed with quotables from all the MCs, and backed by a stripped-down but ferocious beat. The verses are separated by a chilled-out jazz sample, right before the drums, piano, and bars come crashing right back in. Greatness.
Exile ft. Co$$ : Pay The Co$$
I always rated the cutting up of the Malik B line from the final verse of "Clones" for the chorus here, and this is the perfect position to play it. Cashus King (AKA Co$$) is an MC out of Leimert Park in LA, and this track on the 2006 "Dirty Science" producer project looks like one of his first appearances, if not the very first. I'd have to imagine this isn't an easy beat to work with, as the Exile-produced rhythm lurches and twitches, with a somewhat cursory relationship with the beats in each bar. You've got to be good to make this work, on either side of the mixing desk!
Chuck D as Mistachuck ft. Jahi : freedBLACK
Chuck D was comparatively old as an MC when he first hit the scene, and showed how that was nothing but an advantage as he could take a different perspective to the late-teenagers on the mic elsewhere. That has continued throughout his career, where he brings his experience to bear on every verse - including here, on the "Celebration Of Ignorance" album. There's actually a piece at the start of the track I missed off as it wouldn't have mixed well, but that should be encouragement to buy the whole thing! C-Doc and ID cook up a beat rugged enough for the Hard Rhymer and Jahi, his compatriot in PE2.0.
Nine : Any Emcee
This gravel-voiced MC from The Bronx was first heard on Funkmaster Flex's "Six Million Ways To Die" as Nine Double M before tweaking his name, and eventually putting out a solid debut album of his own. "Nine Livez" is definitely worth a listen, if very much of its time, and this was the second single. Tony Stoute is on production - a forgotten name, who to be fair really did his work within the span of 1995. This is quality work though, putting some boom into a classic soul sample and then topping it off with the Rakim sample for the hook.
Brand Nubian : Allah U Akbar
Actually really proud of how much I nailed the mix into this one 😂 The call is very slightly off the nearest beat, but in the context of the production as a whole it totally works. This was a great track to open the second Brand Nubian album, "In God We Trust". Before it was released, a lot of people thought Brand Nu were done after the departure of Grand Puba Maxwell, but those doubts were swiftly dispelled. Sadat (formerly Derek) X and Lord Jamar were more than capable of carrying the load on the mic, and together with DJ Sincere, the production too.
[Kev Brown] MindsOne & Kev Brown : Nightstalkers (Instrumental)
Anyone who's been doing their homework should be able to recognise that Kev Brown bassline style! Great MPC work as usual out of Landover, Maryland from Brown's production on the collaborative "Pillars" LP.
Raekwon : Spot Rusherz
The monumental "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..." was released twenty-five years ago this month, and with it being one of my top two Hip-Hop LPs of all time, I couldn't let it pass without including a track. This one is buried late in the album, but would be the best song on any number of lesser releases! It's one of the few Raekwon-only tracks on the LP, and he goes into storytelling mode, with a highly-detailed account of a robbery of a rival dealer. RZA's beat is one of the many, many killers on that album, which might be his best end-to-end body of work ever.
The Roots : 100% Dundee
Needed a little more Malik B, so dipped into what is definitely my favourite Roots LP, "Things Fall Apart". Malik and Thought are locked in friendly mic competition on this cut, on one of the last tracks they'd work jointly on for some time. The beat is heavy on the low end with beatboxer Rahzel doing drums and bass at the same time, and sparkles at the high thanks to the added keyboard contributions of Scott Storch on an early appearance.
Phat Kat : Don't Nobody Care About Us
Detroit all day for this selection from "Carte Blanche". Phat Kat is rawness on the mic, which we were lucky enough to witness when he visited Manchester, and J Dilla backs him with a beat that bangs in a way that the original sample could never have dreamed of! DJ Dez rounds things out with the cuts on the outro.
Black Rob ft. Lil' Kim & G-Dep : Espacio
An anthem for our time, recorded twenty years ago for the "Life Story" album, the first from Black Rob. He was one of the more rugged personalities on Bad Boy Records at that time, which you can probably pick up from the rawness of his opening verse. Personally, Li'l Kim's verse is my favourite, and the beat by Joe Hooker and Mario Winans underscores her well. Also, possibly the only music video involving stunting on mopeds.
Marco Polo : RIP KALIBMA GOD
(sic) - I'm wondering if it should have been "kalimba", but I just work with the track title in front of me! The Toronto native working out of NYC gets much respect in the production world, and his selection for one of the Fat Beats "Baker's Dozen" projects, from which this is drawn, speaks volumes.
Sean Price ft. Cousin Reeks and Rustee Juxx : One Question
An ignorant classic for sure, and a mixtape cut that might have passed you by if you aren't a diehard Sean P fan. A standout on "Master P", where each MC takes a verse to talk smack and increase the crime rate over DJ Babu's production, playing off the vocal sample. Absolutely loaded with disrespectful quotables, at least one of which has to make you laugh!
Aaliyah : Hot Like Fire
It's nineteen years this month (already?) since Aaliyah passed away. This track so good, I was sure I'd played it before on the podcast - but no, so you get to enjoy it this month! This is from the "One In A Million" album, her second, where the combination of Timbaland's adventurous beats, Missy Elliott's writing, and Aaliyah's ability to work with both formed a winning combination. A slow burner with lots of bump.
Clipse ft. Pharrell : I'm Good
"Hell Hath No Fury" is still the best Clipse album in my opinion, but "Til The Casket Drops" was a solid release too. This was the lead single, and The Neptunes give the track a triumphant feel, appropriate for its summer release.
Massive Attack : Safe From Harm
An old classic from the very first Massive Attack album, "Blue Lines". Masterful sampling (no, I'm not revealing all the samples, just in case) by the crew to concoct a solid groove, and Shara Nelson with the iconic lead vocal. This was the perfect track to open their now-legendary debut with.
The Cool Kids : As We Breeze (Instrumental)
Nothing much to say here - just a dope beat from this Chicago duo, taken from the "Gone Fishing" instrumentals!
The X-Ecutioners ft. Halex The Armageddon : Poetry In Motion
A track very much of its era, when turntablism was picking up traction behind legendary crews like the X-Ecutioners and ISP, and spoken word was having a moment in the sun! The "X-Pressions" LP was not the end-to-end scratchfest that we might have expected, but a varied collection showcasing many different aspects of turntablism, production, and vocals from guest artists. The late great Roc Raida is on production, while poet Halex (who has many versions of her name on different credits) orates on the subject of Hip-Hop as a culture. Certainly no dancefloor track, but a podcast where you listen closely is just the place for it.
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!