Sep 30, 2022
"Whose ways are strange when it's time to survive?"
My birth month comes around once again, but times are getting rougher out there, so this is a pretty rugged selection on the whole - which, to be fair, fits the changing of the season too. Looks like I'm going to be pulling the hoodies and boots out...
RIP Coolio, who passed away just after the music recording was completed for this episode. Never heard a bad word said about the man even once. I'd love to see our legends grow old.
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L.E.G.A.C.Y : 7-3-71
For all these years, I had no idea what the track title was referring to, but I decided to try and find out while writing these notes. There weren't too many notable events that seemed to fit, but one looked possible - the death of Jim Morrison. On this track, L.E.G.A.C.Y mentions being "the Jim Morrison of this"...the mystery might just be solved! 9th Wonder is on the beat, which shuffles along nicely with a bassline-driven rhythm while L.E.G.A.C.Y spits two freewheeling verses. The "Legsclusives" album from 2003 is now available on Bandcamp, so you can get this and put some money directly into the man's pocket.
Statik Selektah : Nobody Move
As much as the vocal version with Raekwon and Royce from the "8" LP is a winner, it's actually nice to hear this dramatic number on the instrumental version of the LP without the vocals. The drum track brings to mind the famous "Amen" break, but I don't think it's a sample, and the horns are a great accompaniment.
Black Moon : Stay Real
If the sample sounds familiar, your ears aren't deceiving you! While you might recognise it from Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement", it was the Beatminerz who cooked it up for this track first (and actually, Buckwild touched it even before them). It's a noisy, dark backing for Buckshot's slithering Brooklyn flow, while 5ft comes with a more animated mic style. This single was a standout from the "Total Eclipse" LP, which was a worthy addition to the Black Moon catalogue. They're truly a group who never, ever switched it up for commercial appeal.
Prodigy & DJ Premier : Walk Out
The welcome surprise of the month is this dark single, just released by the estate of the late Prodigy of Mobb Deep. With DJ Premier, who backed Mobb Deep early on, on production, P just goes in with his legendary icy-cold delivery. For more, check the any-day-now release of the first posthumous Prodigy album, "The Hegelian Dialectic 2: The Book of Heroine". Rest in peace P.
Meyhem Lauren, Daringer, and Hologram : Raspberry Crush
Meyhem is one of my favourite on the mic, so I was excited to see he had a new release out, entirely produced by Daringer from the Griselda crew. "Black Vladimir" is a 15-track platter of fuzzy, dusty, mostly downtempo street production for an MC who knows exactly what to do with that kind of material. On this tune Meyhem's fellow Outdoorsman Hologram comes along for the ride, and he does his thing - though there was one adlib I had to be rid of - but Meyhem will pretty much always be the best MC on any track you hear him on.
Roc Marciano & The Alchemist : Zig Zag Zig
If you like the kind of dark, downtempo crime records that have been in vogue over the last few years, understand that Roc Marciano was a pioneer of that style. Combine him with the genius behind the boards that is The Alchemist, leave to cook, and you get something like the new "The Elephant Man’s Bones: Pimpire Edition" album, from which this is drawn. The drums are more prominent here than on many Roc tracks, but still somewhat subdued, and he kicks his trademarked slick talk, street corner, word association lyrics over a long verse before Alchemist brings it home with a changeup on the beat. If you've ever heard me talk about "headphone music", this is a prime example.
Jay Dee : Kamaal
A little something to nod your head to, taken from Jay Dee's 2003 "Vintage" release. The tracks themselves are from the mid to late 90s, but even several years later they stand up, and there's no mistaking the producer - this was the era of his work that arguably spawned the most disciples and imitators.
Zo! and Tall Black Guy ft. Sy Smith, Black Milk, and Elzhi : The Ride
Last year's "Abstractions" album is a compact, beautiful collaboration between these two talented producers, and one which the R&B fans should definitely have a listen to. Here, it's an all-Detroit affair on the mic with Black Milk and Elzhi coming with short, laidback verses over an instrumental I'd call smooth as silk if it wasn't also giving the woofers a bit of a workout too. Sy Smith rounds things off with a staccato, breathy hook, and a little bit of talkbox action on backing vocals is the perfect accent.
Snoop Dogg : The Way Life Used To Be
West West! Something told me I needed a DJ Battlecat production in this spot, so here's one from the 2011 "Doggumentary" album - and Snoop was trying to go even further back that that! Reflecting on the old days and the wisdom of family elders, this actually leads well into the following cut...
2Pac : Nothing But Love
This September marks twenty-six years since 2Pac's passing, so I thought I'd go to a B-side (well, co-A-side at least) from my collection, as I've recently been back on my digitisation project. This is on the "I Get Around" 12", and has Pac talking about the streets and lessons learned over a beat he co-produced with Tony Pizzaro.
Stro Elliot & James Brown : Coal Sweat
Vintage funk with a 21st century kick (literally) as the highly talented producer and multi-instrumentalist Stro Elliot puts some grade A knock into this version of James Brown's pivotal funk classic "Cold Sweat". This is just one of the heaters on his excellent release "Black & Loud : James Brown Reimagined by Stro Elliot" from earlier this year. If any track on this episode deserves your volume turning to 11, it's this one.
Otis McDonald : We Go Hard
Otis McDonald is the alter ego of producer Joe Bagale, and since finding out about him this year, I haven't heard a bad beat yet! A lot of his music has actually been released as copyright free, which is definitely an unusual move. As great as this new single from the "Fall" LP would be with a top-tier lyricist rhyming on it, it simply doesn't need it, and effortlessly lives up to its title.
The Basement Khemist : Everybody (L.I.F.E.)
This B-side slipped by me for many a year, as the excellent "Vibrate" was always a favourite, but I gave the other side a spin recently and thought it'd be a good one to share! While the act name implies a single person, their name has varied over different releases and this is in fact a group. Produced by crew member Joc Max, there's a lot to like lyrically here, with the MCs alternating between a prayer and lamenting the temptations of the streets.
Elzhi ft. Ayah : The Leak
Elzhi again, why not? This time he takes centre stage though, on the first full track from his 2008 LP "The Preface". Black Milk's beat is burly, with the kick-bass combo filling the low end nicely, and all the other (sampled?) instrumentation falling into place around it. Of course, it's all about the bars when it comes to an Elzhi cut and he gives us the quality verses we've come to expect. For the streaming fans, this LP currently is on Tidal but not Spotify, but personally I'd recomment buying it - especially with the excellent "Hands Up" also being included.
Nym Lo, Dave East, Statik Selektah : I Love The Game
The final tune chosen for this month's mix, this one leapt into the selection before I'd even got to the end of the first verse! Harlem representative Nym Lo drops a wicked single, but it's guest Dave East who more effectively emphasises the message from the hook - the streets don't love you. Statik Selektah's beat has plenty of low-end knock on a 2022 boom-bap tip. Definitely a release to add to your collection!
Madvillain : Strange Ways
"Now, who's the real thugs, killers, and gangsters?" Who indeed? Probably my favourite track from the classic "Madvillainy" LP - while I confess to not being as big a Madlib fan as some, this beat of his is a perfect canvas for the late MF DOOM to spit a compact two verses on the violence of the world.
Pete Rock : Mind Frame (Instrumental)
Winding it back over twenty years, we have this bumping, brash Pete Rock beat that you might well know from the updated release of the "Petestrumentals" album; pretty much any modern-day purchase will include this, with Freddie Foxxx coming extra-rugged on the vocals. This instrumental did come out as part of the "Mind Frame/Back On The Block" single though, as well as the compilation "The Beat Generation 10th Anniversary Single Collection" - both well worth having.
Wu-Tang Clan : Protect Ya Neck (Radio Version)
As I say on the voiceover, Wu-Tang came to mind when I reached this episode number, and this track in particular. Rather than play the album version, I decided to go with the radio edit from the original 12" single - this was the way I heard this track for the first time, and to this day I still prefer it! Absolute rawness that still hits almost thirty years after its original release, and a near-perfect introduction to the Clan; Masta Killa and Cappadonna, who at various times have been listed as members, don't appear, but everyone else does and they burn it down. You had to be there in '93 to appreciate what a rebellion this was against the dominant sounds, but just know that it changed the game.
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!