May 31, 2022
"...'cos it's the right thing to do."
- Sensei Of Soul
With no particular theme I wanted to integrate this month, there were all kinds of directions available to go in! I've gone with a selection that has some stellar remakes, one or two old and overlooked gems, and an overall pacing that starts you off storming the barricades and ends at deep concentration.
As mentioned at the end of the show - I know it's seriously a hard time for a lot of people with the rising cost of living, but if you're one of those doing better, I can't see the point of having money in your pocket instead of going to see Rakim!
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Public Enemy ft. Nas, Black Thought, Rapsody, YG, Jahi, and Questlove : Fight The Power 2020
Now that is a serious guest lineup! Everyone invited had to be incredibly honoured to get the nod from Public Enemy to appear on the remix of their classic 1989 protest anthem. Sadly, it's as relevant as ever, and the new verses include the names of more victims of white supremacy - let's hope that we're not here for another version in 2051.
[Kut Masta Kurt] PMD : Straight From Da Heart (Instrumental)
Simultaneously angular and a straight-ahead groove as so many of Kurt's beats are, this was a great backing for Parrish Smith of EPMD on this single from the "The Awakening" solo LP, during the period in which EPMD was disbanded.
Robert Glasper ft. Yasiin Bey : Black Radio
If you like "Umi Says" Mos Def, then this vocal performance will likely be right up your street. This was the title track of the first Robert Glasper Experiment LP "Black Radio" (Glasper's fifth overall), where he mixes his jazz foundation with Hip-Hop and a lot besides. With the third edition released this year, do yourself a favour and listen to the complete set!
Tiombe Lockhart : O'Bloody Days, O'Starry Nights On The Bowery
Of all the tracks on Waajeed's "The War LP", this may not be the one that grabs you instantly, but after repeated listens the quality will draw you in. The Detroit electronic sound and humanised drum timing are in full effect on a dense, sweeping piece of production, while Lockhart's vocals are haunting.
De La Soul : The Return of DST
A short but excellent track which I first heard on "unkut.com presents: The 40 Oz." It channels a vibe just straddling the end of the old skool and the start of the new (for those that don't know, RUN DMC's revolutionary debut is arguably the dividing line), and pays homage to Grandmixer DXT, who was originally known as D.St, and famously was the featured artist on "Rockit" by Herbie Hancock.
Starship Connection : Heartbreaker
I think I first heard this on Twitch, where the sheer number of quality DJs you can view on any given day really makes you want to stay on top of your game! Made up of B.Bravo out of Los Angeles and San Fran's Teeko, Starship Connection fly the flag for the classic electro-funk sound, and this single is a sterling example. Bravo takes command of the talkbox and Teeko on production as the duo cover the classic Zapp track "Heartbreaker". The rhythm is, in modern style, a bit more on the edge, and they punctuate the tracks with extra breakdowns and flourishes compared to the original. This was a brave one to take on, but they do it proud!
Jan Hammer : Transformers
Jan Hammer will always be one of my favourite musicians, and this track from the 1992 soundtrack to the surreal, computer-generated film "Beyond The Mind's Eye" could just have easily slotted into the "Miami Vice" or "Cocaine Cowboys" scores. He's known for being able to do some amazing things with pure synths, including soaring guitar lines like the one we have here - he could much more easily call in a guitarist, but that wouldn't be as much fun!
Maro Music, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah : Throwback Boogie
Of all the combinations of Wu MCs, Rae and Ghost is almost certainly the most iconic and influential, so the producer Maro Music pulled a blinder getting them both to take the mic over his beat on this new single. The beat is just raw crunching thump, and the bars are criminology - exactly how we like it.
Meyhem Lauren : Hate
Somehow I'd forgotten all about this one from the "Piatto D'Oro" album, but was reminded when the video popped up in my Youtube recommendations! This one just grinds sonically, with Icerocks bringing pure ruggedness on the production. Meyhem has fun with it, not going crazy complex but still with some wordplay gems, and the whole attitude is just defiant flossing.
Mega Ran ft. Del Tha Funky Homosapien : Box and One
As DJ A-Up and Bedos might have said, this is that NouGold! Mega Ran's star has deservedly continued to ascend, and to hear him connect with one of the great MCs I remember debuting in the 90s is wonderful. All-star pen game all over this DJ DN3-produced track, which is titled after a basketball defensive technique sometimes used to stifle one dominant offensive player, and seen as a mark of respect for/fear of their skills. The "Live 95" LP is definitely one worth your time, and one that explores possibly the crossover of my interests growing up - Hip-Hop, basketball, and video games!
Herma Puma ft. Sensei Of Soul : Disposable Rappers (BusCrates Remix)
Heavy futuristic-tinged business here with Pittsburgh's Buscrates crafting a remix of this Herma Puma track reminiscent of DJ Spinna, and Sensei of Soul encouraging us to clean house - not in a sniffy purist, "you may only sound like this" way, but in the sense of quality control and the welfare of the art as a whole. Sometimes a reminder is needed that declining standards don't have to be accepted! This track escaped my full notice for a while, but it's available on 2011's "Two Syllables Volume Six" for a bargain sum :)
Le$ : Do You Feel Me? (Instrumental)
While Le$ might have had some of his most memorable on-mic moments on the production of guys like DJ Mr. Rogers and Tavaras Jordan, he can get busy on the boards himself. This beat from "Original Player Sounds" takes a nice 80s sample and just puts a little extra on it.
Dwele ft. Slum Village : Keep On
This is that blend where R&B/neo-soul brings Hip-Hop into the mix, and this time it's all in the family. Detroit's Dwele is part of the extended Slum Village family (you may know him from tracks like Slum's "Tainted"), and here he borrows a taste from Soulquarian Common's Dilla-produced "Dooinit" to sidle up to an unnamed lady. With J Dilla on production again here, and Slum Village appearing as guests on the mic, it's all love.
Snoop ft. October London : Touch Away
Another 80s soul sample re-animated here on this new Snoop single - not from the recently-released "BODR" album, but apparently from an upcoming release "Death Row Summer". This isn't the first time this groove has appeared on a Hip-Hop track, and it's not even disguised - not too much cut on it, as it were. Some accenting bass and drums is all it takes to give it that 2022 wash and wax. Top-down music all the way with October London providing a little soulful accent.
DJ Spinna ft. Apani B & Jean Grae : Hold
I had to flick back into the archives because I was absolutely convinced that I'd already played you this one, but somehow it seems to have escaped the monthly selections! Jean Grae and Apani B are raw on the mic, a perfect combination on top of the production of DJ Spinna. This particular cut is from "Here To There", Spinna's first contribution to BBE's "Beat Generation" series, where a number of top producers were given free reign to turn in any kind of album they liked. Spinna showed his versatility throughout, but this is just straight-ahead Hip-Hop, interpolating a famous soul bassline, building around that, and letting the MCs loose!
Method Man, Jadakiss, Eddie I, 5th PXWER : Switch Sides
The lead two artists will be known to most, but the latter two probably less so. Eddie I was someone I struggled to find info on (no Google, I don't mean Eddie Izzard), but 5th PXWER is the now-emerging son of Method Man. He's got a long way to go to compete with his famous father, but then so do most MCs. P.Version crafts a rugged instrumental, and this track from "Meth Lab Season 3 : The Rehab" speaks to a universal truth - you can't trust a turncoat.
Pete Rock : Time For Learning
A beat that grabbed me from the very first listen, this is my clear favourite from the new "Petestrumentals 4" collection from Mount Vernon's finest. With only two years since the third edition, the pace between releases seems to be quickening - which is great for us :) Don't sleep on the expanding catalogue of1 one of the greatest ever to touch a drum sampler!
Eric B & Rakim : As The Rhyme Goes On
With the prospect of Rakim making his long-awaited return to Manchester, I decided to end the episode with a track from "Paid In Full" that isn't necessarily the most played from the Eric B & Rakim canon. Replaying a classic soul number for the bassline, it kicks off with the drumline audio being reversed (remember kids, no digital editing yet!) before it switches to the normal direction after Rakim's opening four bars. This has a deep meditation vibe, broken up only by the "pump it up homeboy" samples, which are kind of all over the place timing-wise - I'd have preferred less, but who am I to argue with legends?
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!