Aug 30, 2021
"Reminiscing 'bout my style, before it was yours..."
- Snoop Dogg
First things first - RIP to Zumbi of Zion I, who passed away unexpectedly this month. He penned some incredible music in his too-brief lifetime, and he will be missed by all who knew him in the Hip-Hop family.
This episode was tough to put together - it seemed like some of the most crucial parts of my DJ setup all decided to stop working at once. Still, with a crucial turntable loan courtesy of past guest Danny Drive Thru and pressing an old laptop into service, we're back on time once again. Enjoy the show, I think there are some A1 picks here!
Also: I'll be DJing live on Saturday September 4th as part of the charity "Flyest & Friends" show in Manchester - get your tickets here.
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Zion I : Luv
One for Zumbi to open the episode. On the 2005 "True & Livin'" album, Zumbi and Amp Live were continuing to develop their sound , but this track is one of the more straightforward sonically you'd find in their catalogue. Amp Live's production lays back to leave plenty of room for Zumbi's words and message to be heard clearly, and both play off each other perfectly - even leaving space for a bridge featuring some appropriate cuts before the final eight-bar verse.
[Cold 187um] Above The Law : What Cha Can Prove (Instrumental)
Based around one of the most used drum breaks of all time, this is the instrumental to the remix of what is for me, the clear standout on the "Livin' Like Hustlers" album - "Untouchable". The vibe is very different, but both versions are excellent in their own ways.
Snoop Dogg ft. WC : This Life
I've been waiting to play this one for years, mostly because that cold, dismissive, rightfully-condescending line from Snoop deserved to be the quote for the episode! As far as I know, there isn't any version without DJ Crazy Toones drops and effects over it, but it's nice to hear the late DJ's name. Produced by Quazedelic, who keeps the bass squelching, I first heard a shortened version on one compilation, but you can get this little-known track in a surprising place - the compilation "50 Hip-Hop Classics".
The Roots : Don't Say Nuthin'
I will never not be amused by the story of this track, as mentioned in the podcast voiceover! The hook as heard was apparently supposed to be a placeholder, something to be erased and written properly later on, but on listening back, it was left as is - with him literally saying nothing! Scott Storch is on production, with crisp and clean synth work throughout. You can find this one on "The Tipping Point".
E-40 ft. Doonie Baby and Turf Talk : Gasoline
It's been a long time since I've played this one out - absolutely love it, but it's not the kind of thing that most DJs over here would play even back then! Rick Rock soundtracks this cut from the highly-entertaining "Breakin' News" LP, E-40's eighth, with a beat based around a ton of percussion, a subtle "breathing" sound effect bringing to mind pistons working and some dope keyboard work. Lyrically, 40 is working his usual microphone magic, with a ton of slang and humourous turns of phrase. Don't deny yourself quality tracks like this!
Redman : So Ruff
"Whut? Thee Album" is an absolute favourite, and while this track was never a single or even one that attracts much mention, I think it's a standout. A safe sex anthem of sorts, covered in absolute buckets of funk, production is handled by both Redman himself and Erick Sermon, with flawless cuts by DJ Scratch. If you don't yet know this LP, I strongly recommend you having a listen!
Focus... : Moonwalk In Water
Just so you know - that drag/slowdown as I mix this in is part of the track itself! This haunted-sounding instrumental will give your system's low-end a serious status check. Short but sweet, you can find this on "aNALOG iN a dIGITAL wORLD 5" (no, I didn't get my Caps Lock wrong there), which apparently will be the last in that series. The son of Chic's Bernard Edwards continues to do the family name proud.
DJ 2-Tone Jones ft. Uptown X.O., LetTheDirtSayAmen, and Kenilworth Katrina : The Curry Out
I only recently stumbled across the "Contraband From India" album, from which this is taken, but let me tell you there is some heat on there! This track features a slate of talent from Washington D.C. - not always a place that gets a mention when it comes to Hip-Hop, but maybe releases like this can change that. The Drew Dave-produced beat is bassy and bumping and the mic goes back and forth like a lyrical game of pass-the-parcel. Definitely names to watch!
Sean Price ft. Rock : P-Body
It's the reunion of Heltah Skeltah on this stormer from Sean Price's second solo LP, "Jesus Price Supastar". Both MCs go crazy with the alliteration, and the heavy beat courtesy of 9th Wonder is a great canvas.
Bronx Slang : Another Night In New York
It's great to see Jerry Beeks and Ollie Miggs continue to garner respect from people who didn't know them before, and the new "Substance" LP is already getting excellent reviews. This track does give you that feel of stomping around the big city after hours, with the MCs having the confidence of people who've seen it all. With no hook, as though to say "I said what I said" after each verse, Jadell takes the eight bars each time to drop a little organ section. Quality material once again from this crew.
AZ ft. Jaheim : The Wheel
The brand new single from AZ signals good things from the upcoming "Doe or Die 2" album. Covering both the lavish and hazardous sides of life, AZ's verses are punctuated by Jaheim's hook, and the production from Eric Hall and Naughty By Nature's Kay Gee wouldn't have been out of place on the original LP.
Lord Finesse : Galactic Soul (Makes The World Go Round)
3rd Bass : 3 Strikes 5000
The second and final album from 3rd Bass, "Derelicts of Dialect" doesn't get nearly enough props, or even mention, in my opinion. I still remember the time when our local pirate radio station had to leave the studio unmanned for a while and just left this LP on loop! There are plenty of tracks I want to play you from this one, but for now this is the choice - 3rd Bass and SD50s on production, MC Serch and Pete Nice on the mic, and DJ Richie Rich cutting it up on the wheels. Just quality early-90s break-driven Hip-Hop.
Khruangbin : Evan Finds The Third Room
I learned about this band when Bomani Jones mentioned them on his podcast, and I'm glad I was paying attention! This Houston trio bear down on a classically-styled funk groove on this cut from "Con Todo El Mundo", and while the title is a bit of a mystery, the quality is plain to hear.
Rob "Fonksta" Bacon ft. P-Funk Horns and Amp Fiddler : Cause & E-Funk
We go all the way in with some P-Funk here, with the longtime DJ Quik collaborator breaking out on this excellent 2016 single. The Parliafunkadelic horn section bless him with top notch brass work, and you can hear clear pieces of the collective's influence in the keys/piano - have a listen to something like "Aqua Boogie" and you'll hear what I mean.
Sounds of Blackness : Optimistic
A stone classic to end the section, this inspirational anthem will always be relevant. The Twin Cities' Sounds of Blackness managed to give us this iconic track on their debut LP, "The Evolution of Gospel", in 1991. They were part of a long bloodline that started with The Macalester College Black Voices back in 1969, and after many years of performing excellence, their recorded material had all the polish you'd expect. The song itself was written and produced by Gary Hines alongside the legendary Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and it hasn't aged a day since they released it.
[J Dilla] Illa J : We Here (Instrumental)
This gives me slight vibes of J Dilla's previous beat for Phat Kat's "Don't Nobody Care About Us" - but this time, the MCs is his own younger brother. The 12" of this is worth having in your collection, and a must for Dilla completists.
Zion I : Believe
It seemed only right to not only open but close the episode with an inspirational track from Zion I. This selection from the "The Labyrinth" album is from a period where the group in its original form had split, with Amp Live leaving to explore other avenues and Zumbi remaining and collaboration with different producers. This bassy, warped, half-time beat very much exemplifies the kind of non-traditional production Zumbi was always willing to tackle as an MC, and he builds on it with an exhortation to have self-belief in trying times. RIP to a real one.
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!