Dec 30, 2022
"...while she was waiting for her son to shine."
Ok - last month was a bit chilly but this one was ridiculous! As 2022 ends, we loosely have a winter/Xmas theme scattered through the selection, some brand new releases that deserve sharing, and many other gems including a Grand Daddy IU production after he passed away this month - RIP to him.
By the way - as well as all my other social media accounts, I'm now on Mastodon, since Twitter seems to be falling apart - you can follow my account on @email@example.com
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Shaquille O'Neal ft. Jay-Z and Lord Tariq : No Love Lost
I'd almost forgotten that this track existed until I was going through the "S" section of my wax! Shaq was certainly a competent MC, if not a standout, but he was consistently able to leverage his status into some memorable collaborations. Even in 1996 when this track was released on the "You Can't Stop The Reign" album, his third, Jay-Z was a big feature to get, and Lord Tariq was not long off dropping the enormous hit "Deja Vu (Uptown Baby)" with Peter Gunz. Production comes from Poke and Tone (Trackmasters), and it's a chill head-nodder that definitely brings back memories of the era. Side note: there's another version of this cut from the DJ Clue "Fall Pt.1" mixtapes that also features Nas!
Kev Brown : Myrrh
The don of the bassline dropped a surprise Xmas project last year, the sixteen-track and appropriately-named "The Kev Brown Holiday Special" and generously offered it at a discount this month. This track goes straight for the nativity angle, with those choral voices floating around the the classic eighth-note sleigh bells and the kind of solid, chunky, funky foundation that Kev has absolutely mastered. This wise man from the east (coast) delivers 🔥
Jointhedots, Dubbul O, and Berry Blacc : Right Now
Brand new flavour from Manchester! I was literally waiting for them to bless me with a copy of this track before recording this episode, so convinced was I that it'd be another in a streak of excellent singles, and it does not disappoint. Dubbul O and Berry Blacc, who are the vocalists for their live performances, combine to provide the vocals on this one, with Berry showing his versatility by singing on the haunting hook as well as spitting the second verse. JTD's production, headed up by Defty, is based around a classy bassline, and everything else falls into place perfectly around it. Another release worthy of your support!
Smif-N-Wessun : Nothin' Move But The Money
Nineties classic! This was an underground and mixtape staple shortly after it was recorded, but...it never actually got released. This track was supposed to be on "Dah Shinin'", Smif-N-Wessun's debut LP, and would even have been first single, but they couldn't clear the sample, and so it had to be dropped. Shame, as it's an absolute killer, with Da Beatminerz taking the original track and manipulating it over to the dark side like Palpatine, creating a perfect canvas for Tek and Steele to get busy, weaving in and out of each other's bars like the legendary duo they are. If you see a copy of this (which will usually involve some kind of bootleg vinyl), just grab it!
Tiny Hearts : Snow Cold
I can't even remember how I stumbled upon this cut, as I totally missed it on its 2013 release on the "Stay" EP, but this definitely felt like the right time of year to drop it, certainly if the well-below zero temperatures in this area were anything to go by! Tiny Hearts is the combo of Detroit production legend Waajeed, and the duo of producer/composer Tim K and singer Deanne Reynolds of DEDE. Reynolds' dreamy, ghostly vocals are a great compliment to the heavy synth bass and machine drums, and this is the kind of thing that could fit nicely into all kinds of headphone mixes as well as moving a big sound system - even if it's no club tune.
Cookin' Soul x A Tribe Called Quest : Butter Cookies
I thought I was the only one in my immediate circle to catch this release when it was announced, but I had multiple people either sending me clips or posting it on their own social media within the first couple of days! Cookin' Soul has been doing his thing since the mid-2000s, never being afraid to experiment and blend approaches together, and the new "A Tribe Called Xmas" tape is no exception. As you can imagine from the name, it blends Xmas influences and samples into the beats, then combines that with the songs of A Tribe Called Quest to produce an irresistible seasonal flavour! This particular song makes me smile for two reasons; firstly, as it's a reworking of "Butter", one of my favourites from "The Low End Theory", and secondly, because it's titled after the delicious Danish biscuits which are, all too often, not to be found in the tin as you might expect!
BusCrates : Early Morning
Silky synthy jazzy vibes out of Pittsburgh, taken from the "Internal Dialogue" release. Those synth sounds are so luxurious - if you follow BusCrates on Twitch, you might have seen a glimpse of his awesome collection of hardware, and he knows exactly what to do with it.
Grand Daddy IU ft. O.C., Marquee, Ximone, and Money Harm : Party & Booze
With the untimely passing of Grand Daddy IU this month, I decided not to go back too far, but instead to take a different tack and feature some of his more contemporary material. Given the season, the track selected seems somehow appropriate, and it wouldn't be a party without guests - which this track has by the houseful! IU is behind the boards on this and the rest of his 2020 project "The Essence", and it's got a nice vibe, kind of 80s but with the low-end bump that so much of that era lacked added, subtly. RIP.
DJ Mentat ft. Mystro : Waiting
Real. Just real life all over this brilliant track, which was hidden away as a B-side on the "When I Give My Heart To You" single by DJ Mentat, but is also easily available on Bandcamp as well. I don't even want to talk about Mystro's lyrics - they speak better for themselves than I ever could.
Grand Agent and Pete Rock : This Is What They Meant (Ge-ology's Fried Fish n' Cornbread Remix)
This is one of the incredibly small number of tracks where Pete Rock's mix might not be the best one! His beat has been replaced here by Ge-ology's excellent work, but you still get Pete on the mic alongside the underrated Grand Agent. This is taken from an EP which contains two different Ge-ology remixes plus the original lick - so take a listen yourself, and let me know if you agree about which the best version is!
Nas : Michael & Quincy
Another brand new track, taken from one of the most notable releases of the year, "King's Disease III". Nas pays homage to and likens himself and producer Hit-Boy to the the storied, legendary pairing of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones, most explicitly on the final verse, weaving in life events and some of the famous track titles. Hit-Boy keeps the change-ups coming through this active, dense track to great effect; I may not have been convinced (at all) when he broke out with "...Paris", but he's proven himself time and time again since.
Mark B & Blade : Use Your Head (Instrumental)
Skitz ft. Estelle, Tempa, and Wildflower : Domestic Science
For those from countries with a different educational tradition and lexicon, "domestic science" was the old name for the school subject that included cooking, sewing, and other household skills. As I digitised this B-side earlier in the month, a thought popped into my head - with a male producer and an all-female MC lineup, who was it that titled the track...? Either way, it is a clever flip of the phrase in the sense of the lyrical content being straight down-to-earth Hip-Hop about surviving at home in the UK, both in life and in the music industry. This was a strong, proud track which was the first full song on Skitz' seminal 2001 "Countryman" project, and set the tone for the heat found throughout the rest of the LP.
EPMD : Can't Hear Nothing But The Music
On this podcast we like to bring out the album cuts that don't get the most shine, and this is a prime example - track three on 1992's "Business Never Personal", produced by the duo and Charlie Marotta, it's a rugged, rumbling cut perfect for the jeep sound systems of the time.
Ice-T ft. Buckshot : Eye Of The Storm
I will continue to assert that Ice-T doesn't get enough props for all he's done in Hip-Hop. Twelve years after his debut LP "Rhyme Pays" (but sixteen after 1983's "The Coldest Rap"), he's right here holding up his end of this track from "The Seventh Deadly Sin" with Black Moon's Buckshot in true OG style. The producer, Ross Avila, is a singer/songwriter with a long catalogue of beautiful love songs to his name but this...is not one of them. Dark, frenetic, with the kick drum pattern dancing all over your head, this is rawness.
Little Brother : Carolina Agents
Tucked away on the "2K6 : The Tracks" compilation from a long-ago version of NBA 2K is this LB track that would likely have escaped your notice. 9th Wonder on the beat, of course, with Phonte and Big Pooh taking the first and second verses before going back and forth on the third. It's quite an uptempo track compared to much of their output, but they handle it flawlessly, representing their home state with a heater.
[DJ Spinna] Big Twan : One Time 4 The Lyricist (Instrumental)
It was many, many episodes back that I played the vocal version of this, but the beat deserved an airing just by itself - great work by the versatile DJ Spinna on the Hip-Hop tip. Not to say that the rhymes aren't quality, but it's worth picking up this 12" just for the instrumentals!
DMC, Chuck D, Ice-T, and DJ Jazzy Jeff : Me And My Microphone
In keeping with DMC's recent moves into the comic world, this song is like one of those issues when the superheroes from many stories all combine to take down some supersized threat! Icons across the board on the mic and turntables here, with Bumpy Knuckles taking on production duties. You can't come with a soft beat for a lineup like this, and this cut has the kind of banging rock sensibility which I think could give this some appeal outside the core Hip-Hop audience. This either had to start or end the episode, but ultimately I think this was the right place to have it, allowing it to breathe and play out right to the death.
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!