Jul 30, 2023
- Dave East
We're past the halfway point of 2023 and summer in the UK is...variable. Instead of trying to go seasonal in the main, I've gone with a selection which is heavy on relatively-recent releases while excavating some absolute gems from the crates. There's almost no way anyone knows all of these tracks, and as such, I'm aiming to send all of you to go and buy some of this stuff so that the artists know how much you appreciate top-quality material!
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Saigon ft. Benny The Butcher : No Witness
Big New York State action on this new single, with Saigon in combination with Buffalo's Benny The Butcher (lots of alliteration there!). The beat is heavy goodness courtesy of the DITC legend Buckwild, and is exactly what you need for MCs like this. Benny continues his run of form on features, while Saigon kills it as the returning veteran, starting his first and last verses with a similar four bars before diving into his subjects. That last verse is a stark warning to the youngsters who are sending themselves to prison by documenting their questionable associations and/or illegal activities on social media and on records...
Judah : Sweet Jesus
Digging this one out of the stash was a real win - I think it's a perfect chaser for the Saigon track. Taken from an old favourite, "The Ghostface Beat Tape" by The Beat Tape Project, this instrumental by Washington D.C.'s Judah has Blaxploitation flick written all over it.
Serial Killers (Xzibit, B-Real, and Demrick) ft. Kurupt : Dickies & Bandanas
The "Serial Killers Vol.1" mixtape has been sitting in my collection for almost exactly ten years without me drawing from it, but that's part of the nature of the show - it's not about just playing the brand new cuts or the old classics, but digging deeper. Heavy west action from this union of MCs together with the still-underrated Kurupt. No details on who produced this, but there's no G-Funk, no smooth synths on the beat, instead using a hammering rhythm track and string stabs as the driving elements.
Khrysis and Geechi Suede : Delta9
Khrysis has continued to deliver quality material over the years since his early days when the Justus League were first breaking out, and this is no exception. That vocal sample in the beat sounds semi-uplifting, and semi-dark - though the latter might be the reflection off the heavy drums and tense keyboard lines. Geechi Suede comes through with a less abstract verse than you might expect from him, despite it being a track about actually getting high! The 2021 "The Hour Of Khrysis" album is the place to hear more - don't worry, not all the tracks are quite this short :)
Curren$y ft. Jim Jones and Tommy Wright III : Marcus Camby
Curren$y on an entire project channelling 80s Miami vibes? That's something I'm grabbing with both hands. The short "Vices" album came out earlier this month, with all production coming from frequent collaborator Harry Fraud, and this is one of the standouts for me. Lush with just a touch of tension, the production is absolutely on-theme. On the mic, Curren$y is in his usual lane, followed by Jim Jones of Dipset who comes with a slightly more energetic delivery while still matching the downtempo vibe. I don't know Tommy Wright III, but I think he's just on the hook here - either way, one of my favourites this month and looking like a late contender for my most played tracks of 2023!
Dave East & DJ Drama ft. Buda & Grandz : Egyptian Kings
I'm only just catching up with last year's "Book of David" mixtape, but there's some absolute heat on there, including this downtempo, almost bluesy track. I may need to search out the instrumental, because Buda, Grandz, Mike Kuz, and A-Vow knocked this one out of the park, with it being the perfect backing for Dave's choppy flow. In turn, in adopting that slow he leaves space for the beat to show through the gaps - great symbiosis.
K-Def : Anybody Got Budd?
A short, dramatic instrumental from the New Jersey production legend, taken from his 2006 "Willie Boo Boo The Fool" release - which was packed with short tracks I wish were a minute or two longer each!
Boot Camp Clik : Wotcha Call Strength
One of the strongest, most talented crews in Hip-Hop come out in force on this brand new single, their first under the combined banner in over fifteen years! Of course, the much-missed Sean Price is absent, but Ruck of Heltah Skeltah, OGC, Smif-N-Wessun, Black Moon, and longtime associate Rustee Juxx all throw down heavy on Arcitype's beat. These veterans have all got better with time, despite a tough road along the way. This is what we call strength.
Teflon ft. Benny The Butcher : Hostile Takeover
He's back! You might remember this man as a soloist coming out of First Family, M.O.P's crew, but until the recently-released "2 Sides To Every Story" LP, from which this single comes, his last release was in 2006 - and that was a mixtape! You have to go back the 1997 album "My Will" for his only full album release, but it's good to see that he's put the frustrations of the old record industry behind him for this LP. I told you Benny The Butcher was on a hot streak of guest appearances, and then you have the unmistakeable sound of DJ Premier on the production with his signature scratched, multi-sampled hook. Straight boom-bap.
Meyhem Lauren : African Pompano
In a recurring theme for this month, I could happily have had this track last a fair bit longer. Meyhem is one of the foremost representatives of all that fly ish, and he kills it once again on this Madlib beat from the Madlib/Meyhem/DJ Muggs collab album "Champage For Breakfast" - very much his style! No hook at all, just some almost entirely clean space between the two verses, and the instrumental feels somehow tighter and more focused than some other Madlib beats, which is testament to his sense as a producer of what a particular MC needs. As an aside, I had to look up what pompano is, and now I want some :) Meyhem may be this generation's champ of the food references!
Semi Six : 96
Hot of the presses, this single released just a few days ago, with the man from Detroit low-key (ok, not all that low) flossing over an AntBell! beat for the summertime. Just a dope track, with one of Semi's better hooks into the bargain!
Brand Nubian : Meaning Of The 5% (Instrumental)
I've always found the production on this track from Brand Nubian's second LP "In God We Trust" to be deeply stirring, and a perfect use of the sample it's based around. No chopping, just a loop and some relatively subtle added drums, showing that it's not just having the source material, but knowing what - and what not - to do with it.
Above The Law : Flow On (Move Me No Mountain)
I think the subtitle may have been an afterthought - on the vinyl release of "Livin' Like Hustlers" at least, it appears on the label of the actual wax but not on the back of the album cover. Coming towards the end of the album, "flow" is a perfect description - the late KMG and Cold 187 go fluidly back and forth in a playeristic fashion over a smooth 187 production based on a soul cut from which the subtitle is drawn.
Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder, and Kamasi Washington : The Mighty Tree
This is major-league jazz combination, with the Hip-Hop knowledge and sensibility that all these artists have woven into it. There are actually two versions of this cut - this one, the original, from the "Dinner Party" album, and then one with guest appearances from Rapsody and Herbie Hancock that you can find on "Dinner Party : Dessert" EP. There's so much talent, experience, and feeling between all these musicians, there's not much more I can say - just listen and appreciate it!
S. Fidelity ft. NDO : Mixed Signals
Not sure where I learned about this track, but it's channeling those Dilla-influenced neo-soul vibes beautifully! NDO from Florida is the singer with just a touch of Badu in her voice, while Berlin residents S. Fidelity and Suff Daddy lay down an undeniable groove. This was the lead signal from the 2021 "Fidelity Radio Club" album, which is one I'm going to be having a deeper listen to!
Mary J. Blige and Smif-n-Wessun : I Love You (Remix)
This is a serious 90s deep cut, with the remix of this track from Mary J's "My Life" LP keeping the same Chucky Thompson (RIP) and Puffy beat, but adding Smif-N-Wessun to the opening before they give way to Mary's classic vocals. One thing you do have to give Puffy credit for is making that blend of Hip-Hop and R&B mainstream, even if he didn't invent it! Smif-N-Wessun wouldn't be the obvious choice for most producers here, but the selection was an inspired one. Check the seven-track "My Life (Remix)" EP or the deluxe version of the album for more quality.
Pete Rock : Pete's Jazz
We're four albums deep into the "Petestrumentals" series, but here we roll all the way back to the very first, landing almost exactly in the centre for an SP-1200 masterclass. You could just as well have titled this one "Pete's Funk", but the vibraphone and sax samples do put a bit of a bow tie on proceedings!
Slum Village : This Beat
I just finished reading the excellent book "Dilla Time" this month, and it's already making me appreciate some of Jay Dee's work on additional levels, with this very early SV cut being an example - his annoyance with people coming round "all unannounced" is based on at least one real incident! The beat is pure dopeness, with the high end coming from the very start of a well-known sample (listen closely to the hook for a hint), and the drum and bass combination being pure perfection. This is the style that many have tried to imitate, but there's only one originator.
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!