Apr 30, 2022
"...you can rally troops, but I play the awesome defence..."
155 brought to mind the famous Rucker Park on 155th St and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem, which is the home borough of a recently departed legend - DJ Kay Slay, aka Dez, aka The Drama King (aka Slap Your Favourite DJ. But don't, please). Closer to home, we wish a peaceful journey to Phil Ratcliffe of The Mouse Outfit/Tungusku/Extra Love, who also sadly left us this month. His guitar playing closes the episode, which overall starts off hectic and decelerates towards the contemplative at the end. I hope he'd have approved.
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PM Dawn : The Nocturnal Is In The House
RIP Prince Be. I'd be lying if I said I was really playing PM Dawn back in the day, but when I heard this tune on the "CB4" soundtrack...couldn't deny it! According to Wikipedia, the soundtrack release slightly preceded the "The Bliss Album..." which this is also on. The spoken intro is dope (not sure if it's a sample?), and then that heavy bassline and cuts come in, and finally, those banging drums. Prince Be might have been the bane of other crate diggers at the record conventions in his heyday, but you have to give it up for a track like this!
[Pete Rock] Da Youngstas : Pass Da Mic (Remix Instrumental)
This is some real vintage 90s SP-1200 instrumental action, with Pete Rock creating the definitive version of this 1992 single. I remember when this came out, the kids in the group would have been about my age and so didn't seem that young...now, they look so tiny! If you don't already know it, check the vocal version for the sample that famously appeared as the hook for Gang Starr's "Mass Appeal".
Heavy D : Truthful
Mount Vernon again with the late great Heavy D, letting you know who the real overweight lover is on this cut from the "Blue Funk" LP. Tony Dofat is on the beat, and the guest vocalist might sound familiar even if you can't place the voice - Terri Robinson of Terri & Monica, and a backing singer for some absolute legends!
Gang Starr : Now You're Mine
RIP to Guru, gone for twelve years already. I seem to remember this track being one that Hip-Hop Connection didn't rate when it first came out on the "White Men Can't Jump" soundtrack, but they got that wrong - this is a classic! DJ Premier brings the jazzy vibes on production, but interestingly, Guru's basketball-themed battle lyrics are actually directed at him, since Guru was annoyed about something at the time. While most people missed this on the soundtrack, it later emerged on the must-own "Hard To Earn" LP.
Camp Lo & Teck Zilla : Disco Lo
Big diaspora connection here (Black Connection, as it were) with Nigerian producer and DJ Teck Zilla combining with Camp Lo out of the Bronx on this new single. Tidal recommended me this, so it must be getting to know what I like! Trademark slang-heavy outing from the Lo on the mic, and the production is hectic - a lot going on in this beat. It's got some retro styles with the horns and some of the samples, but you can hear touches of more recent styles folded in too. Excellent release!
E-40 : They Might Be Taping
I'm no expert, but I have to believe the police have figured out Pig Latin... regardless, this big tune out of Vallejo has been a headphone and car staple since the release of "My Ghetto Report Card" back in 2006. Rick Rock provides the slapping beat and E-40 the rapid-fire bars. If you only got up on E-40 after his Verzuz with Too $hort, do yourself a favour and check his incredibly deep back catalogue.
[Part 2] New Flesh : Stick & Move (Instrumental)
This electronic-basslined track is one of Part 2's best, representing for Yorkshire in fine style! This instrumental is on the 12" single, which is a good one to have in the stash if you're a DJ - on a decent sound system, this one moves.
Styles P & Havoc : Pay Me In Cash
The first of three straight tracks featuring members of The LOX as guests, this comes from last year's collaborative "Wreckage Manner" LP, with these two greats coming together for some raw street business. This is definitely a sentiment I can get behind - later for that funny money, give me that real currency! Those lows are absolutely brutal and there's an eerie background feel fading in and out that is vintage Havoc, while Hav and Styles provide a welcome balance to the oft-encountered sugary vocal styles you might hear on the radio.
Freddie Gibbs & Jadakiss : Black Illuminati
Sonically we move into full-on darkness with the second cut, with the team of Fortune, Arianna Reid, and Bizness Boi turning out a beautifully noir piece of production on this 2021 single. The lyrics give no respite either, with both MCs going deep into the street life, Freddie in particular with the brutal "I don't rap about dead opps, I let his name die." Ouuuch.
Curren$y ft. Sheek Louch : Alert
Pretty much every song that uses the sample this is based around is a killer - it's simply a can't-miss. Ski Beatz puts some heavy lows below the classic 80s soul snatch on the lead single from "Pilot Talk 3" (also on "Pilot Talk: Trilogy"), and despite the tempo being pretty low, you can hear the animation in Sheek's delivery compared to the much more laidback flow of Curren$y. I was almost going to save this for a future episode but I think I've already got strong candidates there, so enjoy it early :)
DMX ft. Faith Evans : I Miss You
We end our Yonkers mix with the late DMX, who passed this month last year, alongside Faith Evans with his own tribute to those who passed on before him. This Kidd Kold-produced track from the album "The Great Depression", which was mixed overall, was one of those that showed the emotional side that X fans always loved him for.
Leavv : Voyage (Original Mix)
Leavv is a German producer who has a style perfect for the Chillhop label, and the "Mind Garden" album this track comes from was actually their first LP release. The kick drum in particular feels really loose, reminding you of J Dilla's famous "quantize off" approach to drum programming, and the whole thing can't fail to make you nod your head!
KinKai ft. Saffron Grace : Plantain & Champagne
The definition of being so laid-back, it's horizontal - just listen to KinKai on the mic! A relatable love song from Manchester's KinKai and London vocalist and instrumentalist Saffron Grace, this was a favourite from 2020's "A Pennies Worth", with Blue Lab Beats contributing a neo-soul-ish instrumental with timing as relaxed as the lead vocal.
InI : KrossRoads
A tale of star-crossed love on the Hip-Hop tip, taken from the "Center Of Attention" LP by InI, which was shelved after recording and then heavily bootlegged before eventually seeing a release on BBE. Pete Rock is on production (as he is for the whole album), and Rob-O goes solo on the mic for this 90s gem.
Ill Camille ft. Terrace Martin : Circles
It's a shame that Terrace Martin may no longer work with Hip-Hop artists, because his skills always elevate whatever he touches. It's an all-California affair here, with Ill Camille bringing the rhymes about how she was trying to build her career in the early days around the "Pre-Write" album. Terrace Martin is on fine vocoder form, and the coming together of these two talents is a blessing.
Massive Attack ft. Tracey Thorn : Better Things
A great UK tune, edging toward thirty years old but still sounding fantastic. Massive Attack sent just that killer bassline over to Tracey Thorn (of Everything But The Girl) to write to, and her vocal performance on the finished product is majestic. The 1994 "Protection" album is one that deserves to be in everyone's collection.
[Organized Noize] Goodie Mob : Cell Therapy?(Instrumental)
One of the all-time classic instrumentals, and the world's introduction to the Goodie Mob out of Atlanta, before it was as respected a Hip-Hop city as it is now. Obviously you remember that piano line, the drums, and maybe the sub-bass - but listen without the lyrics at all the other little sounds folded into this one as accents. Find the vocal version on the "Soul Food" LP, and enjoy the listen if it's your first time!
Tungusku : Embers
It's only right that we close this episode with a demonstration of the amazing guitar skills of the recently-departed Phil Ratcliffe. Tungusku was a collaboration between him and former Mouse Outfit bassist and bandleader Defty, based around bringing global influences in and building top-notch grooves, and this second single is an absolute winner. It starts off very chill and floaty, but at around the tw-thirds mark a funk vibe kicks in - almost like the part of the "Enter The Dragon" theme where Williams is introduced - and the guitar excursion just builds from there before calming down for the final few bars. RIP Phil - you and your work will be remembered.
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!