Mar 31, 2022
"Where the venom corrodes the street..."
- Large Professor
We have a great mix of the old and new this episode, and I all but guarantee that everyone will hear one new track, and hopefully one that will send you to the shop to add to your collection! Some of the tracks were fitting together as though it was meant to be, so I hope you enjoy the flow.
As well as picks from some of the best artists working today, this month's selection contains several jewels left to us fromour departed greats - including a track from Phife's recently-released final LP, flaming Sean Price and Nate Dogg features, and a track from and a story about the late Biggie Smalls. I can't believe it's been twenty-five years already.
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Armani Caesar ft. Benny The Butcher : Simply Done
Short(ish), but not a thing sweet about this one! It's an all-Griselda affair on the mic, with Armani Caesar bringing it alongside guest Benny The Butcher...and then there's that beat. It's exactly what you want from a DJ Premier beat, right down to the trademark multi-sampled scratched hook. You can find this as well as Armani's other styles (no pun intended!) on 2020's "The Liz".
Lone Apostrophe : Come Back
In this city, you don't have to go far to find talent, and Lone Apostrophe is just one example. A veteran on the boards as well as one of the brains behind the WORKINONIT beatmaking events (get down there!), he blesses us with a gentle groove here that was the opener on last year's "Webs" album.
Paul Wall & Termanology : Recognize My Car
Surprise (to me, at least) collaboration of the month, but one I'm pleased to hear! Houston and Lawrence, MA come together to answer the call from Pete Rock for this import of the slab life to the East Coast. Pete Rock is in fine SP-1200 fashion (though I know he could easily be doing this style on a more modern machine), and the whole blend just makes me smile. The upcoming Paul and Termanology album "Start 2 Finish" is going to be a good one!
Rakim : How I Get Down
This is one of those tracks that was
buried in my collection, but popped up as exactly the right record
to be here and now! DJ Mark The 45
King is on production, giving us two contemporaries who rank
among the greats combining for this selection from 1999's "The
Master". Even a relatively-overlooked* Rakim LP still gives you
bars that will bury most people's favourite MCs, please believe it.
The beat is raw boom-bap, with enough space that you catch every
single word Ra spits.
* I will concede that the cover art is pretty awful though.
Statik Selektah, Thirstin Howl III, and Sean Price : Ralph Lauren's Closet
Part Hip-Hop, part opera, the haunting feel to this low-slung track, courtesy of Statik Selektah, is a winner. The Lo-Life general Thirstin Howl III has represented the Ralph Lauren lifestyle in Hip-Hop from the jump, and the late Sean Price has been known to be fresh with it also - and both have that classic NYC style woven into their mic skills. This is definitely one of the standouts from "The Balancing Act" LP.
Sir Michael Rocks ft. Trademark Da Skydiver : Livin' It Up
This tune makes you feel like you should be on a yacht somewhere, even if your budget doesn't even stretch to lilo! 2011's "The Rocks Report" sees Mikey Rocks of The Cool Kids in full floss mode, and he's celebrating with New Orleans' Trademark with the high-dollar sound of the great Ski Beatz soundtracking the whole regatta.
Sadat X : Notorious B.I.G. Story (Interlude)
A little interlude from Sadat's "Never Left" LP which I thought was perfect to include as we commemorate B.I.G.'s passing twenty-five years ago this month. I believe Sadat's story here of witnessing Biggie's legendary "writing without writing" style describes the recording session for the original "Come On", later remixed for the posthumous "Born Again" album.
Tavaras Jordan : G.S. 400
I only found out about this North Carolina heatmaker when he produced the excellent recent "E30" LP by Le$, but if you just want to nod your head to some incredible beats, he's got you covered there too. His "(Still) Stuck In The 90s" instrumental collection is a joyous 25-minute listen, and the work of someone who clearly knows and loves music. Keep your ears open for more from this man!
Main Source : Snake Eyes
An old favourite to many, but might well be new to quite a few of you! This top-quality cut opened up the classic "Breaking Atoms" album from 1991, with Large Professor taking the mic to tell tales of treachery, hopping in and out of the metaphor of a craps game (where two ones, or "snake eyes" is the worst roll). Some of his turns of phrase are absolute gems - "the cash curfew" and "nine times out of every ten crimes" are just two of my favourites. He's of course also behind the production, with absolutely blazing SP-1200 work like you hear on this track all over the LP. If you've never heard it, make that your homework for the month 🙂
James Brown : Blind Man Can See It
Classic, classic funk. To hear Fred Wesley tell it, James Brown first approached film scoring from the viewpoint of just taking appropriate-sounding songs from his catalogue and putting them with scenes, but once he grasped the possibilities...we got a masterpiece like "Black Caesar". This particular track has been sampled a good few times, and while I could have followed up with one of the more well-known usages, I decided to come with...
Punch & Words : Da Cipher
...this! A low-key favourite of mine from the "Lyricist Lounge, Volume One" LP, this has Curt Gowdy with a different chop of the sample to most, and a pounding boom-bap rhythm along with it, the perfect era-appropriate setting for these MCs to get busy. Punchline & Wordsworth might be better known to you as two of the original members of eMC (along Masta Ace and Stricklin), and while Punch eventually left, all are still ripping mics to this day.
Phife Dawg ft. Q-Tip : Dear Dilla (Reprise)
"Forever", the posthumous - and I presume final - LP by the late Phife is finally available, and it's nice to hear the man's voice on new material one more time. However, these specific lyrics you've heard before; the original "Dear Dilla" was released in 2014 when while Phife was still alive. Now, both Dilla and Phife have passed on, but the verses have been reworked into a new version of the track, with Phife's Tribe partner Q-Tip on the hook and DJ Rasta Root swapping out the instrumental. Long live those who are still with us, and the memories of Phife and Dilla continue to be blessings.
The Mouse Outfit : Chillout Vibes 8
A nice recent pickup, with the production team of Chini and Metrodome providing exactly what they say on the tin with the lastest in the "Chillout Vibes" series of cuts. The gentle keys, the bass, subtle guitar licks are all set off with a drum track that doesn't dominate, but does exactly what it needs to. The tune is less than two minutes long, but just long enough to induce a nice, relaxed state!
A Tribe Called Quest : Hot Sex
One of my favourites from the Tribe catalogue, even if it's not the track that many people would think of! This was originally on the "Boomerang" OST, which it was very on-theme for (unlike lots of soundtrack cuts from that era), before showing up on the UK release of "Midnight Marauders" and again as a bonus cut on "The Love Movement". It's got an aggressive edge to it sonically, confirmed when Heltah Skeltah borrowed the beat for "I Ain't Havin' That", and stands up just as well today as it did in 1992. Trivia for you - Q-Tip wears a mask in the video to supposedly cover up the effects of a fight with Wreckx-N-Effect back in the day...
The Notorious B.I.G. : Going Back To Cali
Easy Mo Bee recently posted a video of him running through some of the sounds he sampled to make this, so I took that as a sign to play it this month! It's centred around a sample of one of my favourite records of all time, Zapp's mighty "More Bounce To The Ounce", and Biggie flows in a suitably upbeat style all over it - it's just a shame how darkly ironic the theme is, in retrospect.
Snoop Dogg ft. Nate Dogg : Outside The Box
The "B.O.D.R" (Bacc On Death Row) album is a hell of a homecoming for Snoop Dogg, who now owns the label where he first made his name all those years ago. As if that wasn't enough, we get a feature on this track from the much-missed Nate Dogg - there can't be many more of these hooks in the vaults, so enjoy it while you can. Snoop brings a positive message, and DJ Battlecat handles the production for these two mic legends.
BusCrates ft. JP Patterson : Take A Ride
Pittsburgh represent! If you don't already follow the work (and the Twitch stream) of BusCrates, then do - I heard him play some of the most incredible remixes I ever heard in my life a few weeks ago, all his own work. His "Blasting Off" LP contains plenty of boogie flavour like this - great music, and truly fun.
[D-Dot and Amen-Ra] Tracey Lee : The Theme (Instrumental)
This was a huge single when it came out back in 1997; the talented Tracey Lee didn't make the longer-term impact that might have been hoped for, but this record can't be denied!
NWA : If It Ain't Ruff
One of the two MC Ren solo tracks on "Straight Outta Compton", this is a tour de force from a lyricist who is too often overlooked in the mainstream when this group comes up for discussion. It's by now well-known that Ice Cube wrote for Eazy-E (RIP) and Dre, but no-one was going to write for Ren. The beat is quality as well, definitely a treat in the headphones - check out those reversed kick drums panned to the left and right extremes to add a little extra interest. You know the big tunes from this LP, but go back and check some of the deeper cuts - still great listens!
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!