Jan 31, 2023
"...baking soda, get it crackin' when you mix me with Kane."
If you're like me, every time you write 23 this year you're thinking it! The first episode of 2023 is here, and we go mostly on the downtempo tip and mix up the genres in a big way, so there's almost sure to be something new for everyone in the mix!
RIP to Laylaw and Gangsta Boo.
As mentioned on the voiceover, you can now keep up with the schedule for all my streams (and I'll start putting my IRL shows here too) at events.airadam.com!
Twitter : @airadam13
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Termanology ft. Raekwon : Passport Kingz
I was reminded of this track after listening to a podcast about citizenship and a shady character known as the "Passport King"! It has an ominous-sounding intro (as an aside, that pastor should be in prison), and then doesn't let up for the rest of its running time, with Raekwon and then Term going hard over Staik Selektah's production. One verse each is the perfect dosage. Find this on Termanology's 2018 "Bad Decisions" album.
[Dru Kevorkian] Smif-N-Wessun : Reloaded (Instrumental)
Just screaming mid-2000s New York, this is the instrumental for the title track of Smif-N-Wessun's third LP. I could hear this beat on the soundtrack (and too loud) for a street DVD of the era...
El Michels Affair & Black Thought : Grateful
Looks like there's a big treat coming later in the year, with the collaborative "Glorious Game" due in April. One of the best writers in Hip-Hop history in combination with one of the coldest bands in years? Yeah, that's a must. This lead single was released this month to give us all a taste and it's a great appetiser. The flute kind of hypnotises and draws you into the thick mists of the rest of the music, where Black Thought is waiting with high IQ, high-density street lyricism. Be grateful, indeed.
Shabba Ranks : Have This Woman
Coming off the back of the "Ting-A-Ling" sample woven into the "hook" of the preceding track, I thought I'd take the opportunity to move straight across into a Shabba track, and one that I just recently digitised during the task of taking on my whole reggae and dancehall 7" section! Over the "Girl A Love" riddim, Shabba's lyrics remind me that despite the gyalist/player image put forth in most of his catalogue, he's been happily married since 1992 - so he and his wife will just have celebrated their pearl wedding anniversary!
Camp Lo : Award Winning
They may never have got the level of acclaim that the title speaks of, but those who know know. Bars upon slang-filled bars on this deep album cut from "Ragtime Hightimes", with Ski on production. Play this one loud in your headphones when you need to go somewhere and let them know who you are :)
Above The Law : Another Execution
Including this one as a tribute to the recently-departed Laylaw, who was an integral part of the Above The Law story - not only did he manage them, but he has production credits on their debut "Livin' Like Hustlers", including for this track. It's a slow and low number on a classic sample, and if you want the instrumental then you can find it on the B-side of the "Murder Rap" 12". Unusually for ATL, it's Cold 187um solo on the mic, in storytelling mode with two tales of having to let that thing ring out.
People Under The Stairs : Chris Says 'Nice One' (Bonus Beat)
This short semi-interlude track from the 12" of "The Cat" is actually only 44 seconds long, so I looped part of it up to make it a suitable length to include here - just because it's a nice piece of digging/production that PUTS clearly included just for that extra flavour! RIP Double K.
Gangsta Boo ft. DJ Paul & Juicy J : Where Dem Dollas At?
I've not historically been a big follower of 3-6 Mafia, so I bought this track specifically to play it on this episode. DJ Paul and Juicy J of 3-6 are on production, but even though DJ Paul also takes the third verse, he has to play second position behind Lady Boo, which is only right. This was apparently the big hit on 1998's "Enquiring Minds", Boo's solo debut which paved the way for two more LPs over the next five years - and one which I remember being advertised in The Source back in the day. RIP Gangsta Boo.
Machinedrum : Center Your Love
Machinedrum is, amongst other things, half of the duo Dream Continuum alongside Bristol's Om Unit (formerly the turntablist 2Tall), but this is a beautiful solo exhibition of electronic composition. The drums are hectic in timing but not loud, and elements come in and out creating a soundscape around the vocal; I can't tell if that's a repeated sample or a singer brought in for this track specifically, and if I'm honest, I can't make out the words either 😆 Ten years old this year, it's taken from the "Vapor City" album which is available on Bandcamp - definitely worth checking!
Children of Zeus : Cali Dreams
California is a long way from the cold and rain of Manchester in many ways, but as they say, you can dream! I've got at least three copies of the 2021 "Balance" LP (vinyl, digital, and cassette) that this is taken from - so hopefully that gives you a prompt to go and get at least one! As much as Konny says it's "just another weed song", they elevate way past the average with their writing and execution. Their production is great too, and they bring in additional skilled musicians to crystallise their ideas - listen to this track outside of this episode to enjoy the long outro segment. Zeus!
Massive Attack ft. Liz Frazer : Teardrop (Mad Professor Mazaruni Vocal Mix)
Most of you will know the original version of this classic from the "Mezzanine" LP, and I even played the instrumental version of this remix a few years back - but today, you get the brilliant production of Mad Professor with the beautiful vocals of Liz Fraser in perfect combination. While Fraser can sound good on anything, her floating vocals are set really well here into the echoing, dubbed-out production. Apparently Madonna was the original choice of the songwriter to deliver this lead vocal - with all of the respect due to her, I don't know if it would have been as timeless as the final version turned out to be.
[Mr. Rogers?] Trae : Swang (Remix Instrumental)
While uncredited on the 12" single, I think this quality beat might be the work of Houston's Mr. Rogers, who, appropriately for this cut, is something of a car expert! You'll probably recognise the song it's borrowing from for its melodic underpinning, but it sounds to be all replayed/interpolated and so probably dodged the sample clearance issues that the original mix had...
Torii Wolf : 1st
An entirely new track to me even though it was a 2016 release, I only became aware of it when a DJ played it recently on a DJ Premier raid train on Twitch. Yes, this is a DJ Premier production, giving a sturdy backing to this New York singer/songwriter. Not only that, he apparently did another eight tracks on her 2017 LP "Flow Riiot", so it's one to check out for those wanting to hear some real deep Preemo cuts from the modern era!
The Doppelgangaz : In The Black
With their most recent album coming out just before Xmas last year being titled "Black Cloak Lifestyle" you have to give them credit for committing to that lift for real. Starting with ominous pianos, it's not long before the live-sounding boom-bap drums and bassline come in to augment them, and those rhymes of course from the self-styled "Ghastly Duo". A self-contained unit who handle their own production as well as all the MCing, they're dedicated to their craft.
Soul Supreme ft. Big Daddy Kane, Checkmark, and DJ Revolution : Come Get It
This one had been, unfairly, languising forgotten on my shelves until I digitised it recently. Big Daddy Kane is a legend, and is clearly the headliner here - it takes a brave MC to go after him, but Checkmark (of Skitzofreniks) does just that on top of production from one of Sweden's finest, Soul Supreme. Seasoning the pot beautifully, DJ Revolution contributes the cuts for this straight-up Hip-Hop gem. It's available on the 12" I'm playing it from, but also on 2003's "The Saturday Nite Agenda". Can't believe it's twenty years old already!
Sonnyjim ft. English and KoSYNE : Barcodes
This made me smile when I pulled the "Soul Trader EP" off the shelf recently, as at one time or another I've either DJed for (in cipher sessions) or produced everyone on the track! This is a fittingly-titled track, with all the MCs spitting out bars with confidence over KoSYNE's rugged beat - and the punchlines are plentiful. While you hear the main part of the track here, there's an extended ending with some ill freestyling... which you can get if you pick up the EP!
Dr. Dre : Murder Ink (Instrumental)
I've got to admit, I'll always prefer the original "The Chronic" to "2001". That said, you can't deny that Dre continued to refine his skills as a producer and engineer over time, and the sound quality of the production on his second solo LP was crisp and flawless - to my ears, at least. This track works a classic horror film sample into the mix with deadly effect.
The Lady of Rage : Necessary Roughness
To end the episode, just a high-quality track from an MC who never got her due. According to a recent interview, she was effectively punished for not jumping into the middle of someone else's beef, which is a great shame. This is the title track from her lone LP, and every bit of the mic control she displayed on "Afro Puffs" is on display here on top of a beat that reminded me of Craig Mack's "Get Down" - turns out they both were produced by the same man, Easy Mo Bee!
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!