Dec 31, 2021
"Don't quit now, you're just a heartbeat away..."
No copy-paste, back of the store cupboard mix business, this show always aims to give you an episode crafted around recent listening (which doesn't necessarily mean recent releases), events, and ongoing conversations. The work level is real! This month's episode includes a classic track from The Roots (RIP Hub), some recently-suggested Verzuz competitors, and some of the best tracks of 2021 alongside some pulls from the vaults. I think you'll enjoy it!
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I've been planning to play this song on this episode for at least the last four or five years - I couldn't pass up the opportunity! This has early 2000s underground Hip-Hop written all over it, from 7Ls production to the super-aggressive lyrics from Crypt and Planetary. Not one for the club, this is headphone music all the way!
[Vance Wright] Slick Rick : It's A Boy (Instrumental)
I play the remix of this track a fair bit, but this is the beat for the original as heard on "The Ruler's Back" - to get this instrumental, you'll need to pick up the 12" single, which is now thirty (!) years old, but still findable.
The Mouse Outfit ft. AyiTe and FLISS : Don't Stop
Manchester and London in combination here, as Chini and Metrodome of The Mouse Outfit cook up a nice midtempo beat on this single from earlier this year. AyiTe on the lead delivers a confident two-verse performance, while FLISS provides backing vocals for that extra sparkle that completes the track.
The Roots : No Alibi
One of the things I appreciated about Hub's style was that his bass playing always exactly what was needed - no self-centred showing off, always doing what made the sum of the parts work. You hear him here ably filling in the low end on this album cut from the absolute classic "Illadelph Halflife", which has a lovely chilled vibe despite not actually being particularly downtempo. The late Malik B can be heard putting it down on the opening verse, with Black Thought taking the latter two.
J-Live : Audio Visual
A great track you may have missed from one of the hardest-working guys in the culture. He came out of the gate with incredible bars and this track from his third album is just one example. He produced most of "The Hear After", but calls in Georgia's Floyd The Locsmif for this beautifully dark beat.
Phi Life Cypher : Verbal Wars
Bars upon bars upon bars. That's what you get on literally every Phi Life Cypher track, with Luton's Si Phili and Life being two of the most skilful MCs you'll ever hear. Nappa takes an interesting approach with the production here, making it virtually drumless and engineering the whole thing with a haunting feel centred around the main loop and vocals that sound like they're coming over some kind of military radio handsets. Mix in the interference and squealing tuning noises, and this track from "Millenium Metaphors" is a bleak masterpiece.
[Redman] Mother Superia : Most Of All (Instrumental)
He doesn't only get busy on the mic! This is some real 90s MPC funk from Brick City's own Reggie Noble, who does his thing on the production of the debut single from an MC who sadly didn't get the shine she deserved.
Lyric Jones ft. Little Brother : Cruisin'
Lyric Jones is one of those special artists with an array of skills - a drummer, keyboardist, singer/songwriter and a serious MC to boot. The Boston native's "Closer Than They Appear" LP was executive produced by Phonte of Little Brother, and that group blesses the album with a guest appearance here. Each MC kicks off their verse setting the scene, each writing as though cruising down a different freeway (85, 405, 95), then spitting with ease over a fitting soundtrack courtesy of Focus...
Nas : 40-16 Building
The new Nas LP "Magic" was released in the last few days, and while the very short album has a bunch of strong tracks, this one just had the edge as something to fit into the selection this month. Hit-Boy is on the beat, with a third straight album of Nas production credits establishing him firmly into the catalogue of this legendary MC, and Nas commands the mic as he always has.
The Carters : 713
From Queens over to Brooklyn and Houston, we take a track from "Everything Is Love", the first joint album from Jay-Z and Beyonce. Houston takes the lead (the track title comes from one of the city's area codes), as Jay and Bey talk about their relationship - one that it seems like everyone else has opinions on. The beat has more than its fair share of low-end boom, courtesy of 808-Ray and Cool N Dre, alongside the star couple.
Clear Soul Forces : Unlimited Bounce
These guys ooze dopeness on every track they create - even if there's one you don't like, you can't front on the skill levels. We go back to the 2013 "Gold PP7s" album for a track that provides exactly what it promised in the title - big up Nameless for the bouncy production. When it comes to lyrics, all the MCs come with the kind of flavour that would stand out in a cipher pretty much anywhere. If you want that old feeling with a 21st century energy, check this crew out.
Dibia$e : One4Jax
This is the kind of heat you get when you give a producer the green light and get out of the way. Lovely bump from California's Dibia$e, taken from his entry in Fat Beats' "Baker's Dozen" series. There may have been only 250 vinyl copies that contained all thirteen tracks (with another 250 having twelve), but you can get the uncut raw over at Bandcamp.
Blak Twang : '96
Appropriately for the "Speaking From Xperience" album, here Tony Rotton reminisces on the year 1996 - when he was picking up momentum at the start of his career. As an older, more seasoned person, it's interesting to hear him reflect on the experiences that shaped him as an artist and as a man. As with so many of his other great tracks, this reggae-influenced beat was self-produced.
7th Floor Freeze and Planet Asia : Succe$$
For the rest of this section, we switch back to 2021 releases and kick those off with this vintage-sampling heater. Ohio's Freeze describes himself as an "artrepreneur", and as well as running his own clothing label he finds time here to go toe-to-toe with one of the great underground MCs, Planet Asia out of Fresno. Just straightforward dopeness.
Tall Black Guy and Ozay Moore ft. KUMBAYA : Viberite
TBG has quietly been building a really strong catalogue, and his latest LP "Of Process And Progression" (in collaboration with Ozay Moore) is up to his usual high standards. The beat combines his trademark bumping drums and command of the bassline, yet could just as easily be a canvas for a singer - as demonstrated by KUMBAYA - as one for an MC like Ozay. It's a vibe, indeed.
Curren$y & Harry Fraud : Purchasing Power
I can already tell that this track from the recently-released "Regatta" album is going to be on next year's Spotify roundup for me because I have been rinsing it! That sample makes me feel like I should have a tux on and be doing a two-step in an 80s soul video, and Curren$y weaves visions of Los Muchachos and motivational speak into his trademark lifestyle bars. These two are always a winning combination and their particular evocation of the "Cocaine Cowboys" era over a series of releases has been producing some really quality music.
Stan Forebee, Josh Jacobson, The Field Tapes, Kennebec : Snowland Sunset
The Chillhop label puts out an amazing amount of chilled, often lo-fi material that's perfect for when you don't want to focus on lyrics but just need to nod your head to something. This seasonally-appropriate beat from last year's "Chillhop Essentials Winter 2020" is headed up my Melbourne's Stan Forebee, who has done some of my favourite tracks on the label. Definitely look up more to soundtrack your WFH days!
Terri Walker : This Is My Time
You might not know this track, but pretty much everyone knows the beat! Produced by Cutfather & Joe, this one heavily re-uses the same sample as Ski's beat for "Luchini" by Camp Lo, but with some extra instrumentation and a bridge as we move through the track. It's a perfect soundscape for Terri Walker's triumphant vocals on the opening track of her "L.O.V.E" album. Somehow this was never released as a single - it was supposed to be, but it was ultimately cancelled. Can't help but think the record label might have dropped the ball there!
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!