May 24, 2021
"It ain't f-ing sensible."
I ended up completely changing the selection this month when, taking the lead from a few tracks I was considering, I decided to go with an all-downtempo selection - a continuous unbroken mix once the first lyric hits. That said, there's a serious mix of genres so you get a bunch of variety inside the hour-long show! Get yourself plugged in...
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Duett : Video
An extremely short track to open things, just for the flavour! Duett, is a UK synthwave artist (only one person, despite the name) who has released some amazing records channeling that electronic 80s vibe. This one is drawn from the "O U T L I N E S" mini-album from last year - all tracks that were done in a day each - and is a bite-size motif that you could imagine as the sonic logo for a film company or TV station from the VHS era.
Meyhem Lauren ft. Hologram & Big Body Bes : Lexus In The Lobby
I was originally saving this for a future mix, but even though it would have fit perfectly thematically, it's so much slower than pretty much everything else that it may not have ultimately made the cut. This is an absolute gem from the original "Glass" EP, with Harry Fraud on production building an absolute vibe with a quality sample that may be familiar to German listeners and some heavy 808 action. Meyhem Lauren is of course the best MC on the cut but Hologram on the first verse definitely kicks a memorable opening quatrain!
Mikhail Chekalin : As If It Was Not From Here
Going super left-field early for this instrumental bed! Chekalin was a radically-innovative composer from Russia who was not embraced by the Soviet government - they felt his work was too "Western" and while his music was heard by some plugged-in people in the outside world, he wasn't able to tour internationally or release his music outside the USSR. Thankfully for music lovers, times have changed and the "ГАР001: Михаил Чекалин «Экзальтированная Колыбельная 1979 – 1987»" collection (don't even think about asking me to pronounce that) is now available on Bandcamp, and is a great collection of his electronic work - his own take on what could be done with the synths of the time. His sound is a worthy companion to the other greats who were also experimenting at the time, from Jan Hammer to Jean Michel Jarre.
TY ft. Rootz & Deborah Jordan : Eyes Open
It's been a year this month since TY passed and I was glad to find one of his tracks fitting into this pace perfectly, one from his excellent final LP "A Work Of Heart". He was always an excellent MC from the first to the last, and he does himself proud here, spitting thoughtful lyrics with a rapid sharp flow. OG Rootz (formerly Durrty Goodz) is a solid complement, and Deborah Jordan adds a vocal decoration that puts the whole self-produced track over the top. I do like the unexpected switch to French for the hook later in the song too, just *chef's kiss*.
Bumpy Knuckles : Step Up
If you're a real Hip-Hop geek, the highlight on this track might just be the brilliant cuts by DJ Rukas on the hook, not only sharp but incorporating a very clever manipulation of a line from the stone-cold classic "Top Billin'" by Audio Two. Bumpy Knuckles goes in with a quasi-double-time flow in typically rugged fashion over the production of BeatBanga, who gets his only Discogs credit in fine style. You can find this on the "Konexion" album, which is well worth having.
Flatbush Zombies : Laker Paper
It might not be the most conscious track in the world, but it does have the exact type of sonic energy to fit into this spot! Despite the production style (courtesy of Erick Arc Elliott) and the track title, the clue is in the name - this is a trio from Brooklyn who released this cut on their debut mixtape "D.R.U.G.S". They don't try to dazzle with a quick flow on this beat, they stick to their style and settle into it at its native speed.
Samantha James : Come Through
Even for those who might not be into a record like this most of the time, I thought that bassline and the underlying lazy drum break might draw you in! This track was one of the highlights of the 2007 "Rise" LP from LA-based Samantha James. If you like a varied electronic music album, it's one you should check out - a little house, a little broken beat, some singer-songwriter vibes, a showcase for a singer comfortable with working with different production types.
Jake One : Evelen Gravest
We bridge the first and second mixes with a beat from the man Jake One, taken from his free gospel-themed "#PrayerHandsEmoji" beat tape. It'd be worth a purchase, but for zero dinero it's a must-have!
Kano : Ps & Qs
Coming out of East Ham, London, this is one of the early breakthrough grime tracks from a pioneer of the scene. This 2004 debut 12" release was a bit hit on the underground and helped Kano build momentum into the release of his "Home Sweet Home" album. DaVinche's big bombastic beat is an iconic one - a perfect underscoring for Kano, and can still mash up a dance even today.
DJ Quik ft. Hi-C and James DeBarge : Ev'ryday
One of my favourite cuts from Quik's 2002 "Under Tha Influence" LP (which, being a relentless perfectionist, he probably hated the minute he finished it). At the time there really wasn't much, if anything, out that sounded like this, and it was interesting to hear a musician and engineer of his skill level bring that to that double-time style. That stuttering bass and the skipping drum pattern work together brilliantly, and James DeBarge coming through with that hook might just be the vocal highlight.
Strategy : LengBreak
Time flies, and it's already been ten years since the release of the "Pre-Season Training" mixtape from Salford's Strategy, who continued to build his skills in fine style. "Bleep Test" and "Kill 'Em" were the standout tracks for me, and this one kind of passed me - maybe it was my personal taste in beats, maybe it was that I just didn't smoke! I gave it another listen this month and very much deserves a proper airing. One question for those of you who partake - all these years later, how do those prices sound? 🙂
Tobe Nwigwe ft. Royce Da 5'9" and Black Thought : Father Figure
Easily one of the best and most unique MCs to emerge in years, you'll have heard Tobe on this podcast a few times before and his collective have continued to impress and to elevate their profile. This killer is from last year's "Cincoriginals" album, and it's a meeting of heavyweight MCs. The fact that Tobe holds his own against both Royce and Thought, who is widely regarded as the MC's MC, while maintaining his own style, shows that he deserves all the praise he's been getting and more. Nell on production, as always, with the heavy low end for your system.
9th Wonder : Black Album Rejects, Track 15
One more of the instrumentals that 9th Wonder brought to Jay-Z for "The Black Album" that was ditched in favour of the brand-new "Threats" beat that launched him into the consciousness of many. The "rejects" were still dope as anything though.
Children of Zeus : No Love Song
Brand new Zeus! If you know what's good for you you'll be going to place a pre-order for the upcoming "Balance" album, but we've got this as an appetiser for now. Beat Butcha provides the laid-back soulful groove on which Tyler and Konny emphatically don't give you the love song that most other artists would given the same production. If you've been following this podcast, you would have first heard CoZ in the SoundCloud days, and it's been amazing to see this Manchester crew continue to produce great music - and the rest of the world catch up!
Corinne Bailey Rae : Walk On
Representing the city of Leeds lovely, Corinne Bailey Rae is a fine musician who brings the quality every time out. Her third LP, "The Heart Speaks In Whispers", was a worthy follow up to "The Sea", and saw her pairing with Steve Brown on production. This starts with a jazz club reserve and builds from there as she offers inspiration to keep on pushing through difficult circumstances - a message certainly relevant to the current time.
Rae & Christian ft. Lisa Shaw : Should Have Known
I'd somehow forgetten I even had this one! Lisa Shaw is best known for her deep house career, but her sublime voice is a versatile one and she's also on some soulful/downtempo stuff like this Manchester production from the Grand Central Records founding duo. The "Central Heating 2" compilation might be worth owning for this alone.
Zero 7 : Spinning
We finish a coincidentally all-UK segment with a track that didn't make the cut for the original UK release of the "Simple Things" album (twenty years ago!), but I believe was on the US version (plus the recent special edition release) as well as on the B-side of the "I Have Seen" 12". Sophie Barker takes the vocal reins, and it's a beautiful song.
L'indécis x sad toï : Dog Days
For the final instrumental break, we go to the Chillhop label, which specialises in releasing this kind of material - in this case, on the "Chillhop Essentials - Fall 2018" compilation. This track is an all-French connection, with sad toï (sic) alongside Grenoble's L'indécis for a relaxed and partly-acoustic beat that suits a lazy summer day just as much as the autumn.
Scritti Politti : Brushed With Oil, Dusted With Powder
"The day began to decline" - I think many of us can relate to that feeling! One more UK track to close the episode, and this is the one that I think will divide listeners the most. Personally, I love this. It's one of those tunes where no-one seems to agree on the exact meaning of the lyrics, but when Green sings "...some keys they found there"...well, that could be read multiple ways! This was a great close to the "Anomie & Bonhomie" album, with a long instrumental outro to cool us all the way out at the very end of the episode.
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!