Nov 30, 2023
"Ain't a damn thing changed boy, protect ya neck!"
This month marks a full thirty years since the landmark date of November 9th 1993, when two of the greatest albums of all time - in any genre - were released. I've played many of the tracks from those LPs on the podcast over the years, but both do get a nod of respect in the selection here, alongside some absolute fire new releases and old classics. This month's selection tends towards veterans of the culture, while for the most part staying in the relatively recent past. Like Nas says, keep on putting out records...we want to see and hear the art!
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Champion Sound ft. Smif-N-Wessun : One Luv
This is a really grand-sounding track which deserves to be heard from the very first note. The piano chords and overall instrumentation bring to mind less a Hip-Hop single and more the kind of thing you might hear on the soundtrack of a Spike Lee film. I looked up the band Champion Sound and was amazed to find that they hail from Prague - a serious cross-continental collaboration for them to link up with Brooklyn's finest! Tek and Steele drop grown man street raps over the brooding, cinematic soundscape for a standout from the "Stash Box" LP that just dropped last month.
[DJ Eclipse] O.C. : Time's Up (Remix Instrumental)
Buckwild's beat for the original version of this classic single is one of the best-known and loved pieces of production in Hip-Hop history, and it would take a brave man to remix the track - enter DJ Eclipse. The former Fat Beats retail supremo and DJ for Non Phixion isn't one to shy away from a challenge, and he does an excellent job bringing a different flavour right here. While this might have once been tough to find (I'm only just hearing it for the first time myself), it's now easily available on the deluxe version of "Word...Life", which has been released digitally.
Wu-Tang Clan : 7th Chamber
In the month where we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the debut Wu album "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)", I've gone for one of the deeper cuts that isn't something you'd hear at a typical gig or club night. Quintessential Wu, with RZA nailing the production (personally, I love the loop with the stabs before the main groove comes in), and seven of the Clan MCs murdering the track. Wu forever, indeed.
Kev Brown & J Scienide : Legendary Rugged
Simply a slice of raw Hip-Hop, no fancy studio gloss, just rough drums, deep bass, and a warbling main sample over which J Scienide spits that goodness. Kev Brown drops some bars himself on the second verse, showing why he clearly has to be thought of as one of the best producers on the mic of the current era. 2021s "Stray From The Pack" LP is inspired by the great duos both inside and outside of Hip-Hop, and Kev and J pay tribute in fine style.
MC Eiht ft. Xzibit : Medicate
The various battles over the years aside, I love to see how much true respect the veterans of the culture have for each other, especially when it leads to pairings you might not immediately think of! In this case, Texas-born but longtime Brooklyn resident DJ Premier, possibly the exemplar of the East Coast sound links up with one of the OGs of the scene in Compton, California, the legendary MC Eiht to executive produce his "Which Way Iz West" album, from which this is drawn. Connecting with Xzibit takes the union to an even higher level, and Austrian producer Brenk Sinatra captures just the right vibe for both MCs to get busy on.
Krumb Snatcha : Rich Man Poor Man
A heavy album track from "Respect All, Fear None" that I'd imagine passed most people by, Da Beatminerz come with some boom-bap accented by a dramatic horn sample for one of Boston's ruggest to spit over. As a man whose trials and tribulations are a matter of record (including his classic single "Closer To God"), when he gives you lyrics like this they come with the weight of someone who has experienced the realities of the world first-hand.
[Hit-Boy] Nas : 40-16 Building (instrumental)
I just picked up the instrumentals of Nas' "Magic" LP on vinyl, and this was one of my favourite beats on that album. As great as Nas is on it, I always love a chance to hear the production brought to the forefront!
Pusha T : Just So You Remember
"Livin' a lie, but die for your
This dark and subdued Kanye-produced track from "It's Almost Dry" absolutely drips with menace and contempt from the pen and vocal performance of Pusha T. You might recognise the sample, which was on "Six Days" by DJ Shadow, and it bubbles along with the periodic vocal interjections from the original source, in between Pusha's verses - notably, the first being longer than the other two put together. Packed with quotables, this is headphone music at its best.
Queen Omega & Little Lion Sound : No Love
You might have heard the raw, 100% from-the-soul vocals of Trinidad's Queen Omega on an IG video that was going round recently, where she recorded an absolutely fire dubplate over the beat for Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode". This is the original track it's based on, a roots reggae cut with a lyrical message that seems especially accurate right now.
Shortie No Mass : Here Goes Nothing
I only heard this recently and assumed I was just way behind the curve, only to realise it's a 2021 release! This MC famously guested with De La Soul on "Buhloone Mindstate" as well as The Roots on "Organix" before releasing a couple of singles and then falling all the way back for an extended period. After many requests from fans over the years, she's out with an LP, from which this is the appropriately-named title cut, and is talking about more after getting very positive feedback! I don't have credits for the digital release, so I can't say who produced this, but it's got the vibe of the opening track passed through a happier filter, and of course you know the lyrics are tight.
Six Figga Digga & Camp Lo : The Jig
Six Figga Digga might be known to you as Lord Digga (when he was with the INC Crew), or just Digga (certainly around the time of his work for Biggie), and he's been in the industry for years, not always in the forefront but always keeping the quality high when you do hear him. He lines up two of my favourite MCs, Camp Lo, the slang grandmasters of the Bronx very nicely here. You usually put textures together in a beat that sound like they could have come from the same place, but to blend electronic drums like these with those seventies sounds and make it work takes real skills. Catch this one on the recently-released "Person Of Interest" LP.
Agallah : Gotta Love Me (instrumental)
I've always got time for an Agallah instrumental, and this soulful groove from 2015s "PCP Instrumentals" is, despite an undeniable bump, actually a chilled beat you could add to your studying playlists :)
Temu : Temu's Talkbox Groove
I can't remember how I happened across this track this month, but I'm very glad I did! It seems that Temu is a modern day funk maestro, a devotee of all that that makes you pull the stank face, and a true "Relic Of The Mothership", as his debut LP is titled. Flying the flag for that vintage heavy electronic funk, this track references quite a few tunes you might know as he takes you on a journey, rocking the talkbox through the whole track like the great Roger Troutman would have done. If this man comes to Manchester on tour...that's a guaranteed ticket purchase from me!
Essa & Pitch 92 : Heavyweight
A brand new single from two quality artists in combination - Pitch 92 on production (alongside co-producer Viva Cee), and the young veteran Essa (formerly Yungun) on the mic. Thumping, rolling beat with Essa's assured vocals running over the top make for a heck of a preview for the forthcoming album from this duo.
Erick Sermon : Stay Real
Taking it back to the early 90s, this was the second (and final) single from Erick Sermon's solo debut, the wryly-titled "No Pressure". Everyone knew the pressure was on after the EPMD breakup, but he came out strong as a solo artist with this LP and shut down all the questions. His trademark lisp accents his bars over a tough self-produced beat highlighted by that synth-funk bassline, plus a little Roger Troutman in the hook.
Clear Soul Forces : Get Wit It
No shame if you missed this one the first time round, as it was a bonus track only on the deluxe edition of CSF's excellent "Gold PP7s" album, ten years old this year. It's what you expect from this Detroit crew - bouncy production from Ilajide (with some nice short bass stabs and an epic clap) and styles upon styles from the whole crew on the mic. It's certainly not intended to pander to the club, but if you have a pulse it probably wants to make you move nonetheless!
J Dilla : Say My Name (Instrumental)
Weirdly, when I played the vocal version of this track all the way back on episode 96, it was also following an Ilajide production! Anyway, since then I've got hold of the instrumentals that were used for the controversial "Rebirth Of Detroit" project and even if this beat was an offcut, it's better than a lot of people's best work!
Natural Elements : #TribeVibes
I almost played this last episode, until I realised the milestone we were reaching this month! One of the fiercest crews of MCs ever to form, Natural Elements and their producer Charlemagne pay homage to the great A Tribe Called Quest on this track. Beginning with and interspersed by an announcer inspired by the performance of the sadly departed Laurel Dann on "Midnight Marauders", the crew kill it over beats inspired by "Lyrics To Go", "Midnight", and "Bonita Applebum". "Midnight Marauders" is my favourite Tribe LP to this day, and this is an appropriately high-quality homage to it.
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!