Nov 30, 2022
"This might be God speaking, it's just my mouth is moving."
The weather might be cooling, but there is some heat on this one. We pay respects to two Hip-Hop stalwarts who sadly and unexpectedly left us this month - Tame One of The Artifacts, and Hurricane G. We include music from both in the mix, along with some material from their contemporaries, and some newer stuff that might have escaped your notice. Listen, enjoy, buy the releases from the artists you like - let's please give them their flowers while they're here.
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Public Enemy : LSD
One of those tracks I've wanted to play for ages - but something always gets in the way! Unrelenting, banging, squelching, militant sonics to go with the always-fierce lyrics of Chuck D make this a perfect episode opener. Released in 1999 as part of the "There's a Poison Goin On" album, you can kind of place it in time thanks to the specifics of the critiques Chuck is making of the music industry of the era. That said, some of the shadiness is, sadly, timeless...
[Non Slick] Genesis Elijah : Jah Bless (Instrumental)
This was a big UK single when it dropped - that heavy bass that always goes down well here, with layers of synth and FX that are so forward that the drum track doesn't have to do too much! According to Neil Craig on Youtube who actually engineered and mixed this tune, Non Slick's beat almost went to Rodney P but they met Genesis Elijah and ended up giving him the beat instead. I'd argue this is still his best single, so that union was a blessing indeed.
Clear Soul Forces : Don't Stop
A good friend gifted me the 2019 "Still" LP on wax this month, which was a perfect present for someone who rates CSF as highly as I do! As always, the MCs absolutely explode with lyrical energy, and Ilajide brings his trademark heavy bass and knocking, slightly off-balance kick drum programming to the dance. Here's the kicker - this only the first half of the track. If you want to hear the rest, go ahead and support with a purchase!
Ozay Moore & 14KT : Record Store Day
Recently I was speaking to a young workman who loves music, but doesn't actually own any - he listens strictly on streaming services. They have their place, but the magic of the record shop is something that can't be duplicated, and that's the subject of this beautiful memoir. As he says, there are still shops out there so let's support them - not just on Record Store Day, but year-round! Production on this, along with the rest of the "Taking L'$" album is by 14KT - nicely done, kind of sunny-sounding with lots of changeups and decorations through the track.
A Tribe Called Quest : Against The World
As I say on the voiceover, I was actually going to play something else here originally, but just picked it out of the library on the fly after the mention of Dilla beats on the preceding track. This was from his work on Tribe's "The Love Movement", which like many others I really didn't like much at the time of release, but it's been long enough that it might need a revisiting!
The15 : Still Here
A bit of soul for you, coming out of a city you might not readily associate with such - Las Vegas! This duo (so far as I can tell) don't have an album out as yet, but this 2020 single is pure vibes. If there's something going off in your head as you listen, you might be recognising a vocal motif from Common's "The Light". By the way - when did you last hear scratching like this on an R&B track?
Packo : Photon Freefall
I'm not sure where I first stumbled upon this one, but I love it. Hawaiian DJ and producer Packo has a long series of "The Pocketbook Collection" singles, but he came out of the gate blazing with this as track one on the first! The rhythm bumps along with some flavoursome loose timing, while the soundscape of synths is warm and draws you in. Then the strings hit, and the piano shortly after - this is a spectacularly dope piece of production.
Cocoa Brovaz ft. Hurricane G : Spanish Harlem
The late, great Hurricane G, like a real storm, was someone I heard about long before she fully arrived on the scene with her trademark bilingual rhyme style. While she, on theme, incorporates Spanish words into a mostly English guest verse here, she has in her career rhymed with great skill in both languages separately. This track is taken from "The Rude Awakening", the second Smif-N-Wessun LP - during the period when legal action from the gun manufacturer forced them to change their name. Mr Walt of Da Beatminerz supplies the low, sparse beat for this late 90s underground gem, and Los Hermanos Chocolates hold it down on this and the rest of an underappreciated album.
Cesar Comanche and Poe Mack : Happy Talk
Cesar Comanche has been dropping heat since the days when he came out as a charter member of North Carolina's Justus League, and he gives you that old flavour but with his new advancements on the "A Promise Not To Sting" album from last year, alongside Poe Mack. J Rawls is on production here, going as far away from the modern trap/synth sound as you can imagine, with a perfect soundtrack for Cesar to talk about, as he tells it himself; "being thankful for my life experiences plus being alive because of and despite them." Wise words indeed.
O.C. : Point of Viewz
Apologies for the sound quality on this one - it seems that all the digital services/stores have a bit of a weird-sounding version of the audio. If you see his debut "Word...Life" LP, from which this is taken, on physical media, you'd do well to grab it as it's a 90s classic. O.C. was a perfect fit for the DITC crew, and sounded like a seasoned veteran from day one. The beat uses the live version of a classic jazz sample and is topped by a chunky boom-bap drum track - just tough. Buckwild and Prestige handled production, and the combo of them and this young, gifted MC gave us tracks like this that will always sound great. Oh, and I went to the dictionary - "interpretate" is actually a real word, but an archaic one :)
Artifacts : Return To Da Wrongside
We pay respect to the memory of Tame One with a track that encapsulates the elements he was so known for - MCing and graffiti. Telling stories drawn (no pun intended) from or at least inspired by his graf exploits, which I'm sure all the writers among you will appreciate, Tame represents himself for eternity on this one. El Da Sensei of course is also on the mic, and the jazzy boom-bap beat comes from the fingers of Shawn J. Period. A worthy sequel to the classic "Wrong Side Of Da Tracks", this is a favourite from the Artifacts' sophomore LP "That's Them". RIP Tame One.
Henry Keen : Digging In Detroit
From another record I was gifted this month, we have an excellent instrumental from this London-based producer, a personal highlight for me from his latest LP, "Freedom In Movement". Beautifully chilled, with some occasional, but brief, tempo changes appearing as we move through the track.
Ka : Vessel
Ka is truly one of the great writers of our culture - a man who truly sweats and agonises over every word of every bar. If you haven't already and have the time, check out this long interview where he speak to Jeff Mao; everything about his approach and his passion is admirable. As an MC who also self-produces much of his material (including the whole of the album this track is taken from, "Grief Pedigree"), he's able to bring both parts of the whole together like few others. The instrumental is almost hypnotic, and draw you in to focus on his gritty, heartfelt, and intelligent lyrics about coming up in Brownsville. You may or may not catch all the double meanings or links straight away, but to listen carefully is to be rewarded.
Defcee ft. Kipp Stone : Ragnarok
I won't lie - I don't think I was up on any of the personnel on this track, but if this is the level of quality to expect then that's something I need to rectify with the quickness! "Descendent of demigods, the hammer chose me"? Come on, that's a bar right there. Over a dark, downtempo soundscape from skilled Chicago producer BoatHouse, it's a Midwest affair with fellow Chicagoan Defcee teaming up with Kipp Stone out of Cleveland to spit raw lyricism over two strong verses. This has been getting repeat play from me all month and it's made the "For All Debts Public And Private" a must-listen.
Le$ : Bucket
This man is approaching Curren$y levels of productivity! It feels like every time I turn round, he has new material out - which I certainly have no complaints about. The new "Tune Up EP" sees him link up again with the incredibly talented Tavares Jordan, who gives him this clean, gliding beat to underscore his confident bars. While he's the unquestioned king of BMW references, if he stays on his current trajectory he may well be not too far off that Bentley Arnage!
Teflon ft. M.O.P : Rawness
The relative smoothness of the instrumental (although those drums do bang hard) courtesy of M.O.P and Laze leaves plenty of room for all the titular rawness to come on the mic! Serious Brooklyn business with Teflon and M.O.P combining for this B-side (from the "Get Mine" single), which was a standout from the 1997 "My Will" LP.
Large Pro : Saturday Night Soul
Just a short beat from one of the greats, which you can find on this year's "Beatz Vol.3" release - one you'll certainly be hearing more from from me on my #BeatsOnly show!
Children Of Zeus : Hoodman2Manhood
We finish the month by going back to the first (if you don't count the excellent "The Story So Far" collection) CoZ album, "Travel Light" for some stripped-back soul courtesy of these modern Manchester legends. Tyler Daley - formerly known as Hoodman - takes on vocal duties solo to tell his story, and combines with Konny Kon on production for a soulful, funky gem.
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!