Apr 29, 2019
"Your mind's not ready and your heart's not open."
Back in the studio solo this month, with a bag of Hip-Hop, reggae, and more for the mix. Sadly, this month we also wave goodbye to and salute Nipsey Hussle, who was taken from us this month at just 33. A community activist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur as well an an MC, he leaves a baton for the rest of us to pick up to continue the relay.
Events coming up...
Gang Starr Foundation - Jeru The Damaja, Group Home, Big Shug @ Gorilla (Manchester), June 7th
Hip-Hop Psych @ University of Manchester, July 15th
Twitter : @airadam13
Nipsey Hussle : Dreamin'
I thought it was only proper to open the episode with a track from Nipsey. I was almost going to start the episode with some of the track this sampled, but thought that might throw people off a bit too much! From his 2010 mixtape "The Marathon", things are looking up for him on this tune and he wants to share that feeling.
8-Off : Neighbourhood Hoe (Instrumental)
Dipped deep into my vinyl archives for this one, the instrumental of the B-side from the first single of the man now known as Agallah. From the very beginning, he's shown himself to be a double threat as an MC and producer.
Havoc & Alchemist : Seize Power
This has been waiting around to be played on the show for ages. The Alchemist has been part of the Mobb family for a long time, and while he's contributed to many a Mobb Deep album and mixtape, 2016's "The Silent Partner" is his first LP working with Havoc exclusively. As you'd expect, the results are dark and sinister and this brooding tune is a great example - you could imagine this on a film soundtrack for sure.
Ghostly Kisses : Touch
I heard this one in passing and after playing it in my headphones x amount of times, realised it would fit in great here. Ghostly Kisses is the performing name of Margaux Sauvé, and this track from the "The City Holds My Heart" EP leans in the direction of 90s Portishead or Massive Attack with the subtle programmed drums and swelling strings.
Freddie Gibbs : 20 Karat Jesus
This is some heat for sure. Gibbs kicks his trademark gangsta styles, then adds a church tinge after the beat changes to a gospel groove. Don't sleep on that first half though, that beat is outrageous. Blair Norf, ESVYBE, Speakerbomb, and Pops are credited with soundtracking this two-piece killer from the "You Only Live 2wice" album - only eight tracks, but worth checking.
Nipsey Hussle : Right Hand 2 God
One more from Nipsey, from his final album "Victory Lap". After his death, it sounds more melancholy than it may have originally been intended, but it was a fitting track to play at his funeral. Axl Folie, IAMNOBODI, Teddy Walton, and Rance all collaborate on the production but Nipsey's lyrics are the star turn here.
Cashous Clay : Jesus Is Waiting
A little dig around on Datpiff led me to the "Uncleared Instrumentals" beat tape of this producer out of Miami, and this specific beat did fit sonically as well as completing an unintentional three-song streak of religiously-themed cuts! Trap-ish (not to be confused with Trappist) drums and aggressive sample re-triggering all the way here.
Linton Kwesi Johnson : Sonny's Lettah
It was a real privilege to hear this moving piece performed live by the great poet himself earlier this month. A standout track from the 1979 "Forces of Victory" album, this was written as a protest to the "Sus" law that operated in the UK until the early 80s - a 19th century piece of legislation dragged out and dusted off to allow the police free rein to harass young Black people. The law may have gone in its old form, but this is still the lens through which we view new calls for the expansion of stop and search powers.
Children of Zeus : The HeartBeat, Part 2
The soulful "The Heart Beat" from the "Travel Light" LP featured both Konny Kon and Tyler on vocals, but this new take from last December's "The Winter Tape" leans minimal. The instrumental is replaced by a deep lovers' rock groove, and Tyler goes solo on the mic for a track that will work late night, at a BBQ, in the car, wherever!
Natural-Ites & The Realistics : Picture on the Wall
Somehow, despite having so much reggae around while growing up, I only heard this song properly for the first time last year when it was performed live in Leeds. It's one that just grabs you from the first listen and sticks in your head, in the best possible way. Nottingham's vocal trio Natural-Ites struck gold back in 1983 with this, their very first single, alongside the backing band The Realistics. It paints a mental image of the inside of a house of a Rasta, the picture of Haile Selassie I that is on the wall, and what he means to them. Straight classic.
Smif-N-Wessun ft. Jahdan Blakkamore : Shots in the Dark
"Born and Raised" is described by Tek and Steele themselves as a reggae album, so I'll go with it even though the Hip-Hop flavour is still undeniable! They link with their fellow Brooklynite Jahdan on this cry for the strugglers, and it's a winning combination as always. Beatnick and K-Salaam provide the yard flavour on the riddim.
Pete Rock : Live from the Basement
I only had one thing on my want list for Record Store Day 2019 (shout out Eastern Bloc), and it was this vinyl release of Pete Rock's "Return of the SP-1200", a collection of unused and unreleased beats from the 90s. I actually remember hearing this beat once before back in the day, in this little clip on "Yo! MTV Raps", with CL Smooth rhyming over it while holding his baby!
Guru : Where's Our Money?
Guru had recorded three volumes of the Jazzmatazz series, plus six Gang Starr albums, before we heard him on a pure solo Hip-Hop LP. To be accurate, "Baldhead Slick & da Click" did have an absolute stack of guest MCs and producers (he likes to share the wealth), but this is one of the four tracks where he goes solo on the mic, with Biggest Gord on the string-underscored beat.
Gang Starr : Full Clip
Those of you who are regular Hip-Hop listeners will all know this - for everyone else, hope you enjoy it as much as we do! The title track from Gang Starr's ten-year greatest hits collection, this was one of a handful of new tracks and definitely the one that made the biggest impact. From the second "Big L, rest in peace" drops, the crowd knows what's coming. In the internet era, there is so much music that lots of stuff can pass you by, but this is from one of the last generation of Hip-Hop tracks where everyone knows it.
Keith Lawrence ft. Seanie T, Karl Hinds, Spoonface, and Pesci : Let It Be Known
I always thought that in terms of the beat, this track was pretty much the British "Full Clip", and so had been waiting to combine these two tracks in a mix! Huge track from the "Goin' True EP", with the longtime DJ and producer Keith Lawrence giving a heavy backing for solid vocalists to get busy on - Seanie T and Karl Hinds likely being the best-known to most. Lawrence's deep reggae influence comes through strongly, and this is an EP well worth having in your collection.
GZA : Gold
This is a too-often overlooked track from "Liquid Swords" in my opinion - GZA bringing his heavyweight lyrical talent to this hustling anthem. RZA's beat is angular, harsh, and banging in equal measure. One piece of trivia, with credit to Wax Poetics' interview with GZA on the making of the album - the hook is inspired by the Diana Ross & The Supremes classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"!
J Dilla : Dilla Beats '05 #3 - 34
One of those unreleased/leaked beats from the depths of the hard drive. Dilla has throwaway beats that bury a lot of other producers' best work!
Nas & The National Symphony Orchestra : The World Is Yours
It's amazing to think it's been 25 years since the launch of "Illmatic"! Easily one of the best Hip-Hop albums of all time, it had a special tribute on it's 20th anniversary when The National Symphony Orchestra performed it from end-to-end along with Nas. The Kennedy Centre show was an extraordinary event that a nineteen-year old Nasir Jones could never have dreamed of when he wrote all those legendary lines in the Queensbridge projects. Pretty much any piece from the performance could have gone here, but I decided to choose the motivational anthem which is the favourite of many. Pete Rock's beat, crafted on his trusty SP-1200, is re-imagined here with a full orchestral arrangement and to have the original MC on the mic right there? Magical. The vinyl of this is expensive, but the digital release is an essential addition to your collection.
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!