Jun 30, 2021
"Appetite for construction..."
We celebrate another birthday for the podcast this month, marking twelve full years since that inaugural experimental episode! This month's mix includes new tracks from artists who are setting themselves new standards, as well as some deep album cuts, B-sides, and unreleased gems. Sadly, we also mark the passing of Gift of Gab of Blackalicious, who left us just a few days ago. We include just one of his tracks this month, but he's an MC who left a deep body of work behind for us to continue to celebrate.
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Children of Zeus : I Need You
Manchester's finest are back with their brand new album "Balance" and this was an early favourite of mine. Not uptempo, but much more so than "I Want You", with lots of bump, Tyler and Konny gave themselves a perfect canvas to get busy on the vocals. Go get that album!
Ilajide : Please Set Me At Ease
If Ilajide punches as hard as his beats are, a lot of heavyweights could be in trouble. Always bringing the heat, he shows his literal chops right here on this beat from the "Latex" LP.
Cocoa Brovaz : Get Up
For those that never knew or had forgotten, there was a period of almost ten years when due to the threat of legal action from the firearm manufacturer of similar name, Smif-N-Wessun had to change their name to Cocoa Brovaz. During this time you could hear the Brooklyn legends popping up on all kinds of quality records, and this was no exception - the B-side to the Mos Def/Pharoahe/Nate Dogg "Oh No" single, and a worthy inclusion on the "Lyricist Lounge 2" collection. Hi-Tek's beat on this was unconventional back in 2000 and still stands out as unusual today.
Special Teamz ft. Sean Price : Boston To Bucktown
Special Teamz was a Boston supergroup made up of Edo G, Jaysaun, and Slaine, who dropped the "Stereotypez" album in 2007. As signees to Duck Down Records, it was a natural move to tap them up for a guest appearance - and here, the late great Sean Price joins them on this Pete Rock-produced cut.
LL Cool J : Summer Luv
The B-Side to "Loungin'" and an inclusion on the deluxe edition of "Mr. Smith", this is a track I just don't hear enough! LL isn't showing love to the weak MCs he takes out on this one, and Rashad Smith's beat is a punchy and relatively sparse bit of 90s boom-bap crispiness.
Rakim : Last Resort
I think this one may have slipped past a lot of listeners - I got it on one of those random bootleg 12"s - entitled "Unreleased Jewels", released in 2003. According to Discogs, Da Beatminerz provided the beat, and it's an overall solid track. The hook is borrowed from a line from one of my favourite Rakim records, "Teach The Children" from the "Don't Sweat The Technique" LP.
Moods, Yasper : Vibe Vibe
From the "Endless Sunday Vol.1" album, these two Dutch producers on the Chillhop label do indeed bring the vibe. This would do the job for cruising with the top down, BBQing in the backyard, relaxing in the park - it's a pure summery feel-good track!
Swigga : Pendulum
1/3 of the great Natural Elements crew here, from his brand new LP "Sunset Mindset (Swigga SZN)". I can't quite describe the sound - it's dramatic, with a little rock edge to it - almost like a stadium track. Swigga (who some of you will have known as L-Swift) matches the vibe without going head-to-head in loudness, and keeps the flow accessible on the surface - but check the multisyllabic rhymes.
Blackalicious ft. Lyrics Born : Do This My Way
RIP Gift of Gab. He may have been in less than ideal health for some time, but his passing still hit the community hard. On this track from the Blackalicious debut LP "Nia", Lyrics Born of Latryx produces as well as supplying his half-sung, half-rapped vocals as the special guest, but without Gab, it wouldn't have been the tune that it is. He holds down his side of the lyrics with the skill and insight that made him a favourite for those that knew throughout his whole career.
The Mouse Outfit : Sunrise (Shift Ops Remix)
We switch into a little D&B mode here with a remix of a fairly recent track by The Mouse Outfit - in fact, I played it here on episode 132 when it came out! You still get the vocals of One Only, but Chini and Metrodome's production has to move over a little for the work of fellow Mancunian Shift Ops, with sharp drums and plenty of low end.
Lenzman & Konny Kon : Food
Staying with the vibe for one more track, the Metalheadz veteran combines with Manchester's own Konny Kon - no stranger to D&B by a long shot - who flows at half time over this extra-clean track from the 2019 "Bobby" LP.
[Charlemagne] Natural Elements : Paper Chase (Instrumental)
A dope 80s sample for those in the know, with the added bass and slow-walking boom-bap drums on the top make this a personal favourite. 100% check the vocal version of this track by the incredibly underappreciated Natural Elements - I played it a while back, pick up a copy if you can!
Mobb Deep : All Mines
"...where the people do murder for money" is a hell of a half-bar at the kick-off of the second verse, the kind of classic Prodigy line that would have been scratched and sampled in the late 90s for sure. Not much info on this track, which was on a 2005 bootleg release, so I don't know if Havoc produced it or not, but that menacing beat with that muted trumpet accent running through it is dopeness for sure.
Skyzoo & Aaria : St. James Liquors
Brooklyn bars from Skyzoo, from his new "All The Brilliant Things" album, which is themed around the gentrification of his home borough. Kenny Keys' beat is a bass-heavy gem, and Detroit vocalist Aaria adds a little sparkle on the hook.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth : What's Next On The Menu?
Classic Pete Rock and C.L! This was banging heavy on the pirates and mixtapes when it dropped back in 1993 - it was on the soundtrack to the Hip-Hop cameo-packed "Who's The Man?" as well as the apparently unofficial "Never Coming Out" EP (banned from Discogs). Pete Rock blends three huge staple samples on this one but still has ir sounding fresh, and C.L. glides on the jeep-rocking beat. Straight winner.
Platinum Pied Pipers ft. Jay Dee : Act Like You Know
Heavy, nasty, grinding. Perfect. The late great Jay Dee/J Dilla features on this track produced by Waajeed, one of his protoges. Waajeed and Saadiq made up PPP, whose debut "Triple P" definitely worth having in your collection - a mix of Hip-Hop and soul with a kind of jazzy sensibility in places.
Marco Polo : Ps and Qs (Remix Instrumental)
Just a nice instrumental from Marco's "Baker's Dozen" compilation. I had to loop this up a little bit to stretch it out, as he kept it very short and sweet. MP on the MP strikes once again!
Nipsey Hussle and Jay-Z : What It Feels Like
A cross-continental meeting of the lyrics, if not the minds, as the late Nipsey Hussle combines with Jay on this selection from the "Judas and the Black Messiah : The Inspired Album", taking its spark from the film about the assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton. Nipsey recorded this verse eight years ago, and didn't like the song at the time. It was developed in stages over years, with more and more instrumentation and arrangement, plus Jay's verse rougly a year ago. The final product is bombastic and epic-sounding, with the production headed up by Mike & Keys, and there are a stack of guests in the background - for me, highlighted by the distinctive vocals of James Fauntleroy. It was clearly worth the wait,
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!