Sep 30, 2021
"Tryna make it from the bottom, pull everybody up."
Finally, all the parts of my DJ setup are fully operational, and so I get to use the new mixer and freshly-serviced turntables for the first time on my birth month episode! There are some old classics in the selection alongside some lesser-known modern underground material, and I think the mix will make for a great listen! Here we go...
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Ka : Everybody Up
Ka has always been an MC I've respected highly but going back to watch his interview at the Red Bull Music Academy took my respect for him to a whole different level. He's someone with the deepest regard for the craft of writing, and he's building a body of work that those in the know will look back upon and study. His brand new LP, "A Martyr's Reward" is another top-quality release, and this track is an early favourite for me. It's a little quicker and has more prominent drums than the average Ka cut, but not in the standard boom-bap sense - just a muffled but relentless kick driving the track on. Lyrically, it's a masterclass as always.
Kuartz : Feels Like Forever
When I included Kuartz as part of my "Manchester Marauders" piece, featuring 49 people I'd met in my journeys through Hip-Hop in Manchester, a lot of people had no idea who he was. A relatively new beatmaker on the scene at the time, he has paid dues and worked tirelessly to elevate his skills and the whole package around his music, and it's been great to see. The recent re-pressing of his "Koishiteru" LP gave me another chance to get that project on wax for the archives, and if you like the sounds of this beat then I strongly recommend giving the whole album a listen for yourself!
Skyzoo : Humble Brag
Our second visit to this album - I had the digital already but had to get this album on CD, and thought this was a nice track you may not yet have heard. Coincidentally, the name "Strike Dunham" jumped out after I rewatched "Clockers" this month for the first time in years! The "All The Brilliant Things" album could be referring to itself with that title - masterful writing by Skyzoo and polished production throughout (MarcNfinit on the beat on this cut) make this a recommended purchase.
Flex (ft. Ellis Meade) : Eternal Sunshine
A quality track from a few years back from the "Soul Food" EP on Room 2 records, with Flex and Ellis Meade representing for Manchester very nicely. A good one to play, even if the sunshine seems to have left us for another year!
Haile Supreme : Danjahrous
I first heard this vocalist on the track "It's On You" by 1982 (played here back on episode 115) and thought he was someone worth looking into more. Coming out of Washington DC, Haile Supreme brings an uplifting reggae vibe to the mic and this tune from "Earth Tones" is pure sunlight. Big Wave's production is just the right vibe to back this vocal performance, and this is a track that will stick in your head in the best way!
Phife Dawg, Redman, Illa J : French Kiss Trois
It wasn't so long ago that we played another collab between Phife and Redman, but here they combine with Illa J for a suitably French follow up to "French Kiss Deux"! Vancouver production duo Potatohead People come through with a soulful little bump for the MCs to show love to the city of Montreal. Hopefully this will make the cut for "Forever", the posthumous Phife LP.
Nicolay : The Chase
From the days of the Okayplayer boards to now, this is a producer who has not just grown but absolutely flowered over the years. If you like tracks that can only be describes as beautiful you should give him a listen, and this night-driving anthem from "City Lights Vol.3 : Soweto" is a great example.
Curren$y : Yacht Master
The original Yacht Master? Yes please, if you're rich and offering :) YM II? Not my taste! Curren$y comes through with the horological references on this track taken from the new album (it feels like he always has a new album out), "Matching Rolexes". Kino Beats handles production over the whole project, and the booming kick and rapid hi-hat action here are accented by some wistful piano that deserved to be played loud on a quality system!
Fred The Godson : Ribbon In The Sky
RIP to yet another MC who left us way before his time - in this case, due to the pandemic that has touched all of our lives in one way or another. We go back to his HeatMakerz-produced 2013 "Contraband" LP for this track, where the production crew who made their name with what was often called "chipmunk soul" give him a beat very much in that lineage. (Slightly) Sped-up Stevie Wonder combined with a drum track including nice sub-surface percussion and the occasional double-time flash is a great soundtrack for Fred's lyricism.
DJ Woody : Feel Alright
Short and sweet track from a proud son of the North West who tore up battles and showcases for years before dropping his debut LP "Point Of Contact" in 2016 - in fact, almost exactly 5 years ago at the time of this podcast release! You get a sample of his production style and a bit of an exhibition of his turntable precision into the bargain, as he cuts up the conversation between the patient and the doctor.
2Pac : No More Pain
He passed twenty-four years ago this month - it doesn't feel like so long, but I've met adults who listen to his music and weren't even born until he died. This track totally dropped out of my memory - partly because I'm not the biggest fan of post-"Me Against The World" Pac, but it's an absolute beast. On the mic, you get what you expect, alongside an interpolation of Method Man's opening lines from "Bring The Pain", but the beat is the star here. DeVante Swing of Jodeci was a little ahead of his time with this one, with some trap-ish elements mixed in, the drums thumping hard and a killer wah-wah guitar sample dropping every couple of bars.
BoomBaptist (ft. Keeper) : Slamma Jamma
A whole album (apologies, called this the "Shattered Backboard" LP on the voiceover!) based around "NBA Jam"? Sounds like a great idea for those of us who were in the arcades when that title smashed the game in the early 90s. BoomBaptist, coming out of Austin, Texas, has a deep catalogue on Bandcamp for those who appreciate a quality beat tape. He goes kind of spacey and tripped-out on this one, which gives him a chance to show how he can play with drum patterns and mixing in effects.
Nas : Rare
I wanted to play this anyway and it's convenient that the change-ups allows a chance to transition the mix from one tempo range to another! Hit-Boy starts it off slow, with Nas very capably spitting double-time, then the track eventually moves up to the midtempo where Nas' flow settles into more familiar territory. The years have flown by and this is a single from Nas' fourteenth studio LP, "King's Disease II" - and with his skills remaining sharp, you have to think we've got yet more music to expect.
Masta Ace : Born To Roll
That switch-up at the end of the Nas track put this one in my mind immediately and I had to go and dig it out! This is a track which at the time of release, along with the rest of the "Sittin' On Chrome" LP, was not universally welcomed. Masta Ace had travelled a bit, visited California, got into the car culture, and tried to bring some of those vibes to his work. Unfortunately, there were some purists who just couldn't get with it, but hopefully can appreciate the actual quality of the music in retrospect.
DJ Jazzy Jeff ft. Jean Grae : Supa Jean
I needed something in this position that was just raw Hip-Hop, and as always, Jean Grae has what you need. Nice track from DJ Jazzy Jeff's "Return Of The Magnificent" compilation, with classic samples all over the place, bringing to mind an updated version of "Ego Trippin'" by the Ultramagnetic MCs. With Jean's characteristic skills and wit all over the mic, this is a track that pays tribute to an earlier era with full skill level upgrades in an excellent way.
Camp Lo & Pete Rock : 80 Blocks From Tiffany's
This low-key cut is a hidden gem in the catalogues of both PR and the Lo, and is essentially the title track on the "80 Blocks From Tiffany's Part 2" mixtape, and the union of one of my favourite producer with two of my favourite MCs is a pure winner. The choice of drum sounds is muted enough to match the noir-ish vibe of the main samples, and the slang level is on 100 as always!
The Mouse Outfit : Every Single Time (Instrumental)
Taking it back to the "Escape Music" LP era, the release of the instrumentals was a gift for DJs like me, who sometimes just want to play the production for people who might have overlooked it, especially for a crew like this who consistently brought in excellent MCs. Dr Syntax is on the original version, but on this instrumental you can hear the crispness of the instrumentation without adornment.
A Tribe Called Quest : Butter
I'd be surprised if many people listening don't already know this one, so there's probably not much I can add on to your knowledge! The late great Phife goes solo on the mic on this track from "The Low End Theory", which turned thirty years old this month. Even if you don't agree with chunks of his opinion, he speaks his mind with the skill that most didn't realise he had until this LP dropped. The production lives up to the album title, thumping along on the low end and then blending that with some classy jazz on the hook, where Q-Tip lends a hand vocally. Buttery, indeed.
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!