Nov 30, 2021
"It's the song for those who've finished singing."
- Talib Kweli
One of those nice round-ish numbers on the episode count this month, so I've broken out a couple of numerically-appropriate selections along with a segment I've had on my mind for ages! On top of that, I've included some tracks by two artists I somehow ended up DJing for this month - Ras Kass and Big Noyd! It's a pretty rugged selection as the winter continues to draw in, so lace up your boots, throw a hood over your headphones, and let's go...
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Buc Fifty : Metal's Advocate
An ignorant gem from the vaults, just raw disrespectful music. This MC gives off heavy NYC vibes, but apparently comes out of California, and had a run of street records from 1998 to 2004, including this 12" from 1999 This dark and claustrophobic number is an early Alchemist production, liberally sprinkled with quotes (and playing on the title of) the 1997 Pacino/Keanu film. Buc comes through super grimy on the mic, with "...never say 'I' and 'think' in the same sentence" being a particular standout.
[Havoc] Mobb Deep : Scam (Instrumental)
I played the vocal version of this many moons ago - a little-known unreleased track from the Mobb catalogue. Havoc shows his mastery here, with an extremely sparse track that only an expert could pull off.
Oh No ft. Wildchild : WTF
"Ohh noooo!" That's the highlight of the hook as well as the lead vocalist. A real family affair, this is not actually not produced by Oh No (who does have a deep catalogue on the boards), but his brother Madlib, and features Wildchild - putting two-thirds of Lootpack on the track. This is a stomping track from the early 2000s banger "The Disrupt".
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib : Massage Seats
A little reggae flavour mixed into this one with Madlib, no stranger to the genre, on the boards for a characteristically raw-sounding track from the "Bandana" LP. Freddie Gibbs cannonballs through the chaos with his own brand of gangsta wordplay. The second Gibbs and Madlib album is absolutely as worthy of your listening time as the first. (Oh, and as an aside, I would totally drive that "auntie Benz" 😆 Put a decent sound system in it, yes please)
Stic : Stay Ready
If you're just getting back to working on your fitness after so much time inside, the "Workout II" album should be finding a spot in your gym playlist. This two-album series is an innovative concept, and the vibes cover all manner of workouts. I'd love to be able to tell you who the guest vocalist is (thanks, digital-only releases), but he's a great compliment to Stic on this ode to discipline.
Semi Six : NWA In This NWO
An absolute killer track from this Detroit MC who you should be getting to know from some of the tracks I've been playing here and the releases I've been pointing you to! Taken from his debut "He Who Ascends" LP, this tune has Semi dropping serious bars with a confident flow, all over a knocking beat by Ashton Woods. This is exactly the kind of track that puts paid to the oft-stated complaint that there's no good new Hip-Hop coming out - you just have to know where to look!
Black Milk : Shut It Down (Instrumental)
Ghostface Killah ft. Method Man, Cappadonna, and Redman : Buck 50
This is the second selection for the month that was inspired by the episode number. Taken from the 2000 "Supreme Clientele" LP, many people's pick for the best from Ghostface's catalogue, it says a lot that with all these great MCs on one cut, Ghost absolutely slays everything on his closing verse! Everyone else does themselves proud though, with Redman's verse being another standout for someone who doesn't get enough mention in the "greatest MCs" conversation. RZA's beat is suitably rugged, working a well-known old soul sample that chugs along on the low end and gives you the feeling of a perilous tightrope walk on the highs.
Nicole Bus : With You
This Dutch singer throws a whole lot into the pot on this track from the "Kairos" LP - lyrical stylings from Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner", a classic drum break which you'll recognise from a hall-of-fame level Hip-Hop cut, and a main sample which Black Moon also rocked on "Buck 'Em Down". The result is a glorious whole with all the influences lifting each other up. With Roc Nation now backing her, she's got a good chance of getting the attention her talent rightly deserves. Also check out the similarly-titled "You" if you want more soul with a heavy Hip-Hop underpinning.
Mobb Deep ft. Big Noyd : Double Shots
I was going to go with the Noyd-headlined "Air It Out", but as well as that being maybe too obvious a pick, I ultimately just felt like including this single which I often like to break out at live shows. Unusually for Mobb Deep, Havoc steps back from production in favour of S.C., and instead is first up to bat on the mic. Prodigy does his thing on the middle verse before Noyd comes through amped up to slay the closing. S.C.'s production somehow fits, and despite the fact that this crew are most at home on dark and threatening beats, this bassy disco-ish track doesn't break their stride at all.
Camp Lo : Soul Fever
This is far from my favourite cut on "Black Hollywood" (it's maybe in fourth position), so the fact that this soulful Ski-produced track is as dope as it is should give you an idea of the overall quality level! This 2007 release saw Cheeba and Geechi continue to catapult the 70s into the 21st century - maybe not as slang-dense as some of their other stuff, but still unmistakably Lo.
Ronnie Laws : Love Is Here
This dopeness from the 1978 "Flame" album has an opening that sounds more like a track that should be closer to the end of the mix, but then the funk groove kicks in and ultimately merges lovely with his jazz stylings. If you see a copy of this LP for a decent price, don't hesitate to pick it up.
Royal Flush : Movin' On Your Weak Productions
The first track I ever heard from Royal Flush, a Queens MC who was making his debut on the "Ghetto Millionaire" LP, which still stands up twenty-five years later. Da Beatminerz supply a nice bit of boom-bap production, with a sample that's pure vibes and a snare drum that could slap you through a brick wall. For the hook, they sample and cut two classic Hip-Hop tracks - one being a Nas feature on a Mobb Deep cut, and the other you'll hear later on...
Erick Sermon ft. Redman and Keith Murray : Open Fire
The sample that places this record into this section only appears in the intro, but it sticks in your head. There's also a subtle Zapp sample that weaves in, a signature of the great Erick Sermon who unquestionably was one of the first to bring their sound to Hip-Hop. A full Def Squad appearance on this track from the "Double Or Nothing" album, which is worth seeking out if it escaped your notice the first time round.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth : The Main Ingredient
The title track to the second Pete Rock and C.L. LP doesn't get as much play as it deserves - it's an absolute sonic monster. Despite the sheer size of the beat, C.L. doesn't need to raise his voice or do anything else different to cut straight through with quality bars from beginning to end. The production blends an amazing breadth of samples, all unified into a coherent whole - I won't give any of them away here, but this is expert-level beatmaking and mixing.
KRS-ONE : Sound Of Da Police
Of course, you knew we were going to end up here! We played the original track that used this beat waaaay back on episode 17 in 2010, but now you hear Buckwild's beat in the home most people know it from. This is an unimpeachable Hip-Hop classic from the "Return Of The Boom Bap" LP, one on the highest level of the pantheon of anti-police brutality records.
Jake One : Crowning (Three Kings Instrumental)
One of those instrumentals I needed to loop up a bit to make it long enough for this spot, which is to everyone's benefit because it's a great beat! Coming from the studio of Jake One, a versatile producer of Seattle, this gospel-flavoured beat from "#Prayerhandsemoji" was the instrumental to the track "Three Kings" by a rapper I don't include in my sets...
Ras Kass, Talib Kweli, MK Asante, Bishop Lamont : Gods N The Hood
You don't put a record like this in the middle of a mix - it's grand enough to cement its place at the closing of proceedings. A showstopper from Ras' 2013 "Barmageddon" LP, it opens with an excellent NGE-influenced verse from Bishop Lamont and builds from there, with Ras' verse describing his family's move in the Second Great Migration - and what they found on the other side - and then MK Asante and Talib Kweli bringing it home. The Canadian producer Chris Noxx had to knock it out of the park for this track to have the necessary weight, and he does.
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!