Dec 29, 2020
"Give your mama enough money to bury ya."
We've just about dragged ourselves to the end of the year whose name shall not be spoken, and we're not out of the woods just yet. The winter is drawing in, and so we have not a festive selection, but one which in many parts sonically fits the season. There are some deep album cuts, B-sides, and mixtape tracks here, making it one of those months where pretty much everyone is going to learn at least one new tune! Get those headphones connected and let's go...
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E-40 : I'ma Teach Ya How To Sell Dope
The title of this track from "Revenue Retrievin' : Day Shift" wrong-foots you, because this is A-grade "B-side of the game" material, as Ice-T would say. If you ever thought the drug game was glamourous, E-40 lets you know that it's a dangerous, paranoid, and depressing dead-end - even for the few who live long enough to make a bit of money.
The Cool Kids : Tires (Instrumental)
This had just the right slow pace, boom, and space to form a bridge between the tracks on either side. The vocal version appropriately comes from the 2009 "Merry Christmas" EP and features Boldy James, but this instrumental is available as part of the "Gone Fishing : Instrumentals" mixtape (despite not being on the "Gone Fishing" album, so far as I'm aware!)
Jane Child : Loot$ville
Take the rhythm section alone and you could imagine someone like Above The Law or The Dogg Pound getting busy on this track. It's been a very long time since the release of the "Surge" LP, the last from Jane Child, but it still stands up! Child's production and playing skills, alongside those of Cat Gray have this instrumental growling along at the low end, and then her vocal elevates the whole package into a quality song.
Jay-Z : Where I'm From
A clear standout from "In My Lifetime, Vol.1", this is one of the tracks for the streets, and a stark contrast to the many songs on the album that were obviously aiming for mass appeal. Jay lays down the facts of life in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects over a menacing beat from D-Dot and Amen-Ra, with DJ Premier contributing the cuts.
Scarface : The Fix / Fixed
I decided to blend the opening and closing tracks from Scarface's "The Fix" LP here, since both are excellent, but also very short. Scarface and Mike Dean handle the production, and it would surprise many to know that Scarface is also the singer here! This musical motif was re-used by the great Pimp C for UGK's "Still Ridin' Dirty", which also featured Scarface - another track to check out.
Sean Price ft. Buckshot and General Steele : Apartheid
This tune from "Imperius Rex" is the exact kind of darkness and coldness that matches the current season, especially in a year like this. Crummie Beats provides the score, and Sean is accompanied by two of the absolute foundation BCC members to go all the way grimy with it. Check the video - as well as all the artist guests, Sean's wife Bernadette and daughter Shaun both make appearances.
Mad Cobra ft. The Geto Boys : Dead End Street (Instrumental)
From the early 90s, when all sorts of Hip-Hop groups were trying to add a little Jamaican flavour (to wildly varying effect), there were a few artists from JA with the budget to cross over the other way. This 12" had multiple versions of the GB-featuring gun tune headed by dancehall don Cobra, and this is the thumping instrumental to the main mix.
Bronx Slang : Copy That
Jerry Beeks and Ollie Miggs are back with a new single, which just had to be shared here. Beeks has been doing his thing for a long time and continues to tweak and refine his approach - his flow here is alternately conversational and then more dense, and shows a real level of comfort expounding on serious subject matter on the mic. Grab this either as a single or on the "Bronx Kill" mixtape!
Ghostface Killah ft. Trife : Be Easy
The horns on "Copy That" brought this track to mind, and it's a worthy follow-up. One of the big singles from "Fishscale", it's a triumphant Pete Rock blast flipping "Stay Away From Me" by The Sylvers (this info is already out there), and Ghost leading the charge over the top with an assist from Trife in the hypeman role.
Phat Kat ft. T3 and Black Milk : Danger
All the Detroit on this cut, which has appeared in a few places - Phat Kat's "Carte Blanche" LP, Black Milk's "Sound Of The City", and even the "Saint's Row" soundtrack. As "SOTC" was released two years before the Phat Kat album came out in 2007, I guess that kind of makes it Black Milk's track and may explain why he's on the first verse - although Phat Kat is a beast on the third verse cleanup. Black Milk is on the beat, of course.
Dilated Peoples : Clockwork
I'd somehow forgotten that DJ Premier had done this beat for Dilated, but it's a great bi-coastal collaboration between him and this LA crew! The "Expansion Team" LP, their second, is full of heavyweight production, with Alchemist, Da Beatminerz, and JuJu from The Beatnuts among the boardsmen on the project. This track bumps but has a kind of thriller film soundtrack energy at the same time, and Rakaa and Evidence do it justice on the mic.
Fingathing : You Fly Me
The pairing of bassist Sneaky and world-class turntablist DJ Peter Parker was not the kind of thing that was at all common when they started out, but their original concept went from sensational live performances to quality recorded output. This number comes from the first full album, "The Main Event" (which was preceded by the "2 Player EP"), and is a glorious mix of bass and strings with some jazzy drumming action.
Zo! ft. Phonte : Everything She Wants
Now this is how you do a cover version! The last track recorded for "...just visiting three", this was a left-field idea from Zo that Phonte loved, as he'd always loved the original Wham track and wanted to remake it himself! It's much slower than the original, and as Zo points out, it helps to maintain the focus on the lyrics, which were some of George Michael's best from that era. The multi-talented Phonte kills it on the lead vocal (as well as some choice ad-libs), and Zo has the beat sliding and slumping, with a great switch-up at the end if you go and get the full version...
Freeway & Jake One : The Product
I hadn't played "The Stimulus Package" for ages, but it's still really good. When this was released, it seemed like an idea from a bygone era to pair one MC with one producer for a whole album, but one that was very welcome. Philadelphia's Freeway's addiction-themed lyrics are pretty much timeless, and as is usually the case, Jake One's beat nods to tradition while not being bound by it.
Sadat X & El Da Sensei ft. Bumpy Knuckles : 3 Rounds To Spar
Wall-to-wall rugged MCs right here, with the pairing of Sadat and El joined by the king of the third verse, Bumpy Knuckles for a pure mic workout over some heavy boom-bap (which is never a perjorative round here) by Divine Drummah - a producer I could only find this one credit for, but who definitely cooked up a track with the appropriate weight for the MCs on it. If you check the full version from the "XL" album, you can enjoy the intro where you hear the main sample in a more open form before the chops and drums come in.
Boot Camp Clik ft. Twanie Ranks : Smile In Heaven
This one probably snuck past most of you, as it was buried on the end of the Black Moon "Rush" 12" and didn't appear anywhere else except the "Collect Dis Edition" compilation in 2003. It turned up when I was digitising vinyl and I thought it was a fitting one to play mood-wise, with the contemplative street lyrics and the sombre vibes of the Beatminerz' instrumental underscoring it all. Twanie Ranks adds to the whole with his reggae-styled vocals at the end of the hook sections.
K-Def : The Final Thrill
One of those guys you could describe as a producer's producer, New Jersey's K-Def quietly has an amazing discography! I went back to his "Willie Boo Boo" album for this one, which is so short I had to loop it up a bit to make it long enough to work here - that said, there's no downside to hearing a beat like this for a little longer :)
Tribeca : Charlie Hustle (Pony Express)
With a sample that almost everyone will recognise, even if you can't name it, Tribeca does double duty as MC and producer on this 2003 12". On the mic, he takes on the persona/viewpoint of the former baseball player Pete Rose, who was banned from the major leagues for gambling, and as such is also excluded from the Baseball Hall of Fame (the "Cooperstown" you hear mentioned). When it comes to the production, he pounds the MPC in his characteristic fashion to supply the low end to complement the piano track.
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!