Jun 29, 2023
"Paid my dues, now pay my fee."
- Pete Rock
Another year in the books! This is the fourteenth birthday episode of the podcast, and it's wild to look back at how different the landscape looked back in 2009 when I started it off. At least nowadays, I don't have to explain what a podcast is!
I needed a selection worthy of the milestone, and I think you'll enjoy it - Hip-Hop basically end-to-end, with some virtuoso performances on the mics, the boards, and the turntables. Turn the volume up and check the styles...
Book a ticket to see me play live in Salford with the 45 Kings and Queens on July 8th here!
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Swizz Beatz ft. Jadakiss, Benny the Butcher, and Scar Lip : Take 'Em Out
Huge new single to open things up for this month, and a track I can already tell is going to make my list of top Spotify tracks this year. As part of the 50th year of Hip-Hop celebrations, Mass Appeal have released a couple of producer-led EPs with a selection of MCs, and this is of course from Swizz' contribution. It's not the production style most would think of when Swizz Beatz is mentioned, but listen for the classic "The Bridge Is Over" drums accompanied by what sounds like a pipe organ with the "evil" stop pulled all the way out - vicious. And the MCs, my goodness! LOX legend Jadakiss opens up, hands off to modern-day street rap giant Benny the Butcher, and cleanup duty is handled in fine style by the young and hungry Scar Lip. The video is great as well - chaotic, dark, monochrome, giving me just a taste of the same energy as the visuals for Ice Cube's "Wicked" back in the day. The whole package is hard like titanium.
Onyx : Throw Ya Gunz (Instrumental)
After starting the show with a track sampling the yelled into Onyx's first single, which was a big tune in its day, I decided to follow up with the instrumental as I hadn't heard it in so long. RIP to Chyskillz, the producer, who passed away in 2018.
Coach NYM : Work Ethic
One from my gym playlist for you, taken from the "Healthy Gangsta" LP. Part of the RBG movement, NYM gives a message on this track and the rest of the album that very much aligns with the innovative "Workout" LPs that stic of dead prez (their lowercasing, btw) released in 2011 and 2020. Turn this track up and get your motivation right!
Bronx Slang : Excuse Me Again
My man Jerry Beeks accurately and sadly points out that the subject of this track will continue to be relevant into the foreseeable future. Following up from the original "Excuse Me Officer" from the "Bronx Slang" LP, this is, in Beeks' distinctive style, a run-down of yet more Black people who have been murdered by the police. The producer Fake Blood gives it a soundtrack with just a hint of melancholy that still makes you nod your head thanks to his drum programming, and leaves enough space for you to hear every work clearly. Find this on the appropriately-named "Substance" album.
Blak Twang ft. Fallacy : Homegrown
I promise I didn't just try to find every track that sampled Onyx and throw them into this episode! The b-side of the incredible 1996 "Real Estate" 12", this is not only pure lyrical rawness from both MCs (Blak Twang/Taipanic/Tony Rotton and Fallacy) over a beat from V.R.S, but it's also the source of an incredible number of samples. If you go and check the excellent Blak Twang LP "19 Long Time", you'll be amazed how many times he samples himself, and from this specific cut - EPMD would be proud :)
The Musalini ft. Pete Rock and 9th Wonder : Carmel City 2
The vast majority of times, a sequel track is done by the original artist (for example, EPMD's "Jane" series, Ice Cube with the "Gangsta's Fairytale" pair), but this is an interesting exception. Pete Rock, the producer of the original "Carmel City" from his and CL Smooth's "The Main Ingredient" LP is here...but only on the mic, and even then only as the featured guest! Lead duties are taken by Bronx native The Musalini, and production is by a man who would absolutely name Pete Rock as an influence, North Carolina's 9th Wonder. This track has had a lot of rewinds in my headphones over the last month!
BusCrates : Get It Going
The brand new BusCrates LP, "Control Center" released this week, and it starts off with this serious groove, one which I had to let you get a good helping of before my voiceover! The new LP is overally lower in tempo than his "Blasting Off" album, and leans a little more in the direction of Hip-Hop while maintaining his funky and soulful style. BusCrates is an exceptionally skilled producer and DJ - as well as a thoroughly nice guy - who absolutely deserves your support.
Little Brother : Sittin Alone
This track will, depending on your age, inspire mocking laughter or wry recognition! The time comes to all of us where the thought of hitting the clubs on a Saturday night sounds...kind of tiring. If nothing else, I'm sure everyone can relate to the flyer with eight different fonts on it :) Mixing real feelings with a great bit of humour, it's just one example of the grown man rap on the "May The Lord Watch" album. As an aside - paying child support is not, of course, just a Black thing!
Kev Brown : Homework Part 1
Like most of the tracks on the "Homework" album, I wish this were a touch longer, but the man from Landover has a gift for leaving everyone wanting more! You can certainly hear his characteristic bassline action, while the high end is actually really prominent on this too, in a lo-fi fashion - almost sounds like a rough draft, but you know it's all intentional and provides a canvas for him to kick some lyrics, in case you forgot he puts in work on the mic too :)
Prodigy & Nas : Self Conscience
One of those great mixtape tracks from a previous era that you just don't hear around anymore, but absolutely deserves an airing. A concept piece lyrically, this has the late great Prodigy talking to his conscience, going back and forth, before Nas closes things out. The beat is by Infinite Arkatechz, who were basically the patron saints of sampling New Age and prog rock records (you might recognise this one). Find this somewhat forgotten classic on the "Nas & Ill Will Records Prsents...QB Finest" compilation.
dead prez : The Game Of Life (Score)
The "Soul In The Hole" soundtrack may be better known to many than the excellent film, but either way, here's the top-notch opening track, bringing a message to set the tone and frame the events of the story in a much wider context. This is actually my favourite iteration of the dead prez sound - tracks like this and "Sellin' Dope (Drugs Oppress People Everyday)" really stood out sonically from the mass of releases of the same time period. The production is provided by Da Heads - according to Discogs, only ever credited for this one song, but I'm wondering if somehow, somewhere, DJ Spinna is in the mix...
[Swizz Beatz] Nas : Salute Me (The General) (Instrumental)
Thumping, militaristic instrumental from the keyboard era. I love the opening on this before it settles down into the rhythm of the verses, which is even better on the vocal version with the opening adlibs.
Gunshot : Clear From Present Danger
RIP MC Alkaline. For those that don't know, Gunshot were truly one of the defining groups of their era, standard bearers for what became known to many as the "Britcore" style. The beats were almost always uptempo (this isn't even that fast compared to many), dramatic and dense, with a clear influence of The Bomb Squad - as time went on, this style went on to help give birth to other UK electronic music genres. The lyrics and delivery were always aggressive - as I say on the voiceover, think "action film" rather than trying to make you believe they were gangsters. This is one of the classic singles from this crew out of Leyton, East London, complete with a full lyric sheet on the back of the sleeve if you can get hold of the vinyl.
DJ Supreme ft. Son Of Noise : R.I.P.
More UK Hip-Hop royalty from the same era as Gunshot - the legendary DJ Supreme of Hijack producing for the mic-destroying Son of Noise on a 2016/7 release that shows that neither half of this combo have lost a step since they first came out. Raw, hard-edged, unapologetic British Hip-Hop on a battle tip.
Rob Swift ft. DJ Klever and Melo-D : 2-3 Break
One of the greatest DJs of all time and also a fierce defender of DJing ethics, rights, and responsibilities, Rob Swift is a man that should be held up high by all those who claim to represent Hip-Hop culture. On this 2002 cut, he pays tribute to the original "Two, Three, Break" by The B Boys (with the great Chuck Chillout on the wheels), and combines with two other turntable titans, Klever and Melo-D of Beat Junkies for a turntable workout over some classic beats and breaks. I was pleased to find that Rob's second LP "Sound Event" that this is drawn from is on streaming platforms, so don't miss out having a listen to the rest of the album.
Tobi Sunmola : Not The One
If you've heard me DJ on Twitch in the last few years, you may well have heard me play this absolute heater to great response! From Lagos to Manchester, Tobi Sunmola is a real talent with his own style, and kills it on this uptempo cut from his 2018 EP "Good Guys Don't Survive". Let's hope that this one does.
Ilajide : INDYNSUMRLUV
Faithful podcast listeners will already know how I rate this man, an incredible producer out of Detroit who hammers the funk into a sequencer like few can. The bassline is simple, but is just what's needed underneath those drums, where the hi-hats are doing the work of bringing the complexity while the kick and snare keep time. Very dope business from January's "NO SAUCEPAN TUESDAYS" album/beat tape. I'm assuming Tuesdays are for air fryers only.
Tobe Nwigwe ft. Coast Contra : DESTRUCTION
Tobe Nwigwe and his team are continuing to have success which is great to see - it's been four years since I first played him here (which is not when he started), and it's been constant elevation from there. This cut from last year's "moMINTs" album is big, booming, and as heavy as the title suggests, with Tobe, Nick Humes and Nick Baker on production. Guesting on several mics are the crew of dangerous Los Angeles MCs that is Coast Contra, who bring the heat to help close the episode in dramatic fashion. By the way, I realised how much time is flying when I realised that two members of Coast Contra are the sons of Ras Kass!
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!