Dec 30, 2023
"Speaking to the people that matter, with my mind."
While a lot of December up this way has been surprisingly mild, but there was an absolutely vicious period - was lucky that the heating in the house only died after the worst had passed. Still, it's fixed now, so I didn't freeze to death putting this episode together! As we draw towards the end of the year, the themes here might be wintery and seasonal, but the tunes are heat :)
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Median : Median Alleviates The Drama
A deep cut from the heyday of the Justus League, with 9th Wonder (of course) chopping it up on this breezy beat for his Winston-Salem, North Carolina, compatriot to get busy on. You may not know Median as he only recorded two albums, his last in 2011, but he's a grounded yet imaginative writer who is well worth your listening time. Of interest to many who do take the time to dig into his history will be "Brenda's Baby" from the 2007 "Median's Relief" LP, his sequel to 2Pac's famous "Brenda's Got A Baby".
Soul Supreme : Mood Swings
Big shout to Jim Bane of Eastern Bloc who gifted me the "Poetic Justice" LP on wax for my birthday earlier this year! Amsterdam's Soul Supreme has been giving us quality music for a long while now, but in recent times has been locked in what sounds like an awful legal dispute with a record company and another producer. Despite still being in the thick of it, he delivers his commentary in the form of instrumental music on this album, which is even clearer when you read the track titles. The interplay between the horns and his keyboard work are the highlight on this particular track, but for the full effect, sit down and listen to the whole album end-to-end.
Cookin Soul : Kamaal Xmas Time
Cookin Soul usually comes out with a special Xmas release each year, mixing up an artist you know well with seasonal sample flips. This track comes from the 2002 "A Tribe Called Xmas" collection, and takes Q-Tip's verse from "Mind Power" and adds on a few more lines I can't place before going full Christmas - but keeping that boom-bap!
Noveliss & Mega Ran : Memory Card
One of the OGs of leaning fully into video game culture in Hip-Hop alongside the Clear Soul Forces veteran and manga writer Noveliss? You know the references are going to be fire. Hir-O provides the beat, and both MCs bring it as they centre the concept of the memory card (ask your parents if you don't know) on this standout from their "Maverick Hunters" album.
Bounty Killer, A.R.P, Curly, and Tulokk : Evils Of Your Mind (Edited)
Devil on one shoulder, devil on the other? Almost like a dancehall version of Eminem's "Guilty Conscience" (especially with that second voice), this is a big single from 2001 on the "Heavyweight" riddim that also appears on the 2002 "Ghetto Dictionary : The Mystery" album as "Evils Of The Mind". 2002 was a busy time for the Warlord, who also dropped "Ghetto Dictionary : The Art Of War" that same year.
Kuartz & Vybz Kartel : Clarks (Kuartz Real Badman Remix)
If you're a DJ, especially in a city like Manchester where crowds react to big sounds, get "Hybrid Dialects" just for this monster! A local producer with worldwide rep and reach, Kuartz has done the home scene proud and on his latest release, the industrial, digital vibes come through loud and clear. The cold, wintery feel on the intro make it a perfect inclusion this dark month. Kuartz bends and effects the voice of Vybz Kartel as much as any other instrument on the track, making for a sound system killer!
Da Beatminerz & KRS-ONE : Seckle
KRS was one of the first to really bring that reggae/dancehall flavour into the Hip-Hop arena, and Da Beatminerz have had that as an element of their style since they debuted on the production for the first Black Moon album, so this is a union you know is going to come correct. Slow and low single, with the soundclash samples at the front, back, and in the hook, this loping, skipping beat allows Kris to come through clear as a bell on the mic, still, after almost forty years of recording. Continue to enjoy new artists, but support the veterans too!
NYG'z ft. Rave : Itz On
Rugged and triumphant in equal measure, this was the big opening track on the first and so far only LP from NYG'z, "Welcome 2 G-Dom" from 2007. Guest emcee Rave (sometimes credited elsewhere as R.A.V.E Roulette) features on six of the album's fifteen tracks, which definitely puts him in "honourary group member" territory! Production is handled by DJ Premier, who also released this album on his own label Year Round Records - truly backing this crew in every way possible. PS - the apostrophe setup in the artist name and song title are verbatim from the release, don't come after me :)
Paul Wall & Termanology : Talk About It
As I say, you might not think that Houston's Paul Wall and Lawrence (Massachussetts) native Termanology are the most obvious MC pairing in the world, but my goodness, they fit togther perfectly. They already gave us one excellent LP in "Start 2 Finish" and now they're back with "Start, Finish, Repeat". It might just be in my head, but it feels like they each lean towards each other - Paul Wall with slightly more wordplay in his flow, and Termanology dialling back on the trademark syllable barrages he can unleash at any time. Large Professor bases his production around a great soul sample I added to my own collection this year, spices up the hook with some cuts.
Curren$y ft. Mac Miller : Money Shot
I've always been iffy about including this one from 2014's "More Saturday Night Car Tunes" - partly because the sound quality isn't great, but also because if I'm honest, I don't think the late Mac Miller's verse on this is his finest work. That said, I know many people online disagree with me and love it! Curren$y is solid here, but for me, the real star is the production by Sap - taking a great late 70s slow jam sample, and speeding it up (which speaks to how slow the original is), layering a suitably straightforward drum track, and then trying to turn your speakers inside out in the closing seconds! I blend out during that segment, just in case...don't want any of you coming after me for damages 😄
Luxury Elite : Parkway
A bit of vaporwave for this interlude, pure 80s vibes on this slow, moody instrumental from the "World Class" album. Luxury Elite digs out some of those really obscure 80s samples for her work, and it's all about just vibing out to the loops and little change-ups.
Mega Ran, Young RJ, Erick Roberson, Abstract Orchestra, Daru Jones, Marcel P. Black : Black Is Beautiful
Apologies to Marcel P. Black - the digital file I read the artist information on at first didn't have his name, but he kills it on the third verse and rightly deserves major respect here. This is a gorgeous and poetic track about Blackness from the 2020 "2 Hands Up" album by Young RJ and Mega Ran, which is not just (or even mostly) about police violence, but a varied and well-rounded LP. Young RJ produces this one in not just the sense of getting on a beat machine, but pulling in Leeds crew Abstract Orchestra, frequent collaborators with the Detroit scene, plus the Grammy-winning drummer Daru Jones and shaping the union into this exceptional song.
Amp Fiddler : Eye To Eye
I first heard this track on a Qool DJ Marv mix, and it was years before I could tell you who the artist was! It turned out to be just one facet of the talents of the brilliant Joseph "Amp" Fiddler, who featured this track on his debut album "Waltz Of A Ghetto Fly". It's a classic piece of funky soul, which could easily have been written twenty-plus years earlier, but had all the quality and polish to stand out in the early 21st century. RIP Amp.
InI : Mind Over Matter
Classic, if relatively little-known heat from the 90s. This Mount Vernon crew had their debut "Center of Attention", from which this is taken, shelved due to friction with the label and legal issues around ownership, but it was heavily bootlegged before eventually surfacing officially in 2003. Solid rhymes here from Grap Luva, Rob-O, and Ras G, atop some vintage SP-1200 action courtesy of Pete Rock, who produced the whole project.
Platinum Pied Pipers ft. Invincible : Detroit Winter
After that brief trip to New York State, we close out the section by bringing it right back to Detroit, this time to the PPP duo (Waajeed and Saadiq) for a track from their debut album, 2005's "Triple P". MC Invincible of the Anomalies crew kills it on the mic with their almost monotone flow, describing the bitter coldness of Detroit in detail, making it a suitable selection for this time of year. Musically, the piano riff is the standout element, but if you listen really closely, you can also hear a famous rhythm sample in the background quietly holding it down too!
[EZ Elpee] Capone-N-Noreaga : Calm Down (Instrumental)
"Calm Down" never made it onto the classic C-N-N debut album "The War Report" due to sample clearance problems - hey, I guess Bette Midler wasn't down with the Queensbridge thug life - but you might get lucky and find it on a promo 12" somewhere. If you're really lucky though, you might find an instrumental LP of tracks from the LP, including a couple that, like this one, didn't end up on the final release. Nice beat by EZ Elpee, just a shame it didn't get the shine it deserved!
Souls Of Mischief : A Name I Call Myself
I really didn't know what to end this episode with, but settled on a track from a much-loved LP which turned thirty this year. This was a deep album cut, produced by Del The Funkee Homosapien, with some really clever sample combinations underneath the cheerfully-rhymed X-rated lyrics! It's great to see how Souls' music has continued to reflect their journeys through life, from this during their teenage years through to the present day - and by the way, they were pioneers in using the internet to promote their music.
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!