Jan 30, 2022
"...and if they don't understand, then they ain't fam, simple as that."
This month's episode is dedicated to the memory of a great friend who also happened to be a serious DJ - Obelix of Too Many Cooks (second from right in the photo), who tragically and suddenly passed away this month. He was known to many as part of the crew that organised the Family Gathering parties in the mid-late 2000s, and when you weren't dancing to his selections, you were probably chatting to him and hearing his famously loud laugh! He was a regular listener of this podcast and I hope he would have enjoyed this episode. RIP to a real one.
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Russ ft. Snoop Dogg and Big K.R.I.T. : Free
Atlanta's Russ wasn't an artist who'd been on my radar at all until this point, but he pulls together a heavyweight lineup for this DJ Premier-produced selection from his "Chomp 2" album. K.R.I.T might have had the most dextrous verse, but Snoop's verse is the perfect closer, and his low tone is exactly what was needed.
Superior Thought : Oddessy
Sorry about the spelling, that's on the original! This subdued, mournful instrumental from South London's Thought, taken from "The S'strumentals - SkyisthelimitLP" was just the right mood for this month's opening announcements.
Dubbul O & Jointhedots : Stay Shippin'
New Manchester flavour here, with a brand new single starring Dubbul O, a true MC who can burn any cipher down or slide along with a groove like this. Jointhedots is the new project headed up by bassist/producer/bandleader Defty, and the stuff I'm hearing makes you wish for a full-length project sometime this year!
Common : Testify
Common is in full storytelling mode here, setting a scene worthy of a big-screen courtroom drama - in fact, this single did get an extended-length video with serious actors playing the roles! The "Be" album was a bit of a return to the good graces of many (including me, truth be told) after he kind of went heavily off-piste on "Electric Circus"; Kanye West produced most of it, including this track, and hearing this reminds you how good he was at picking out and working with those soul samples.
Darkhouse Family ft. Tyler Daley and Kaidi Tatham : All The Way
UK talent blazing all over this one, with Cardiff's Darkhouse Family bringing in some of their First Word labelmates. The multi-instrumental don Kaidi Tatham comes in alongside legend in the making Tyler Daley, best known as half of Children of Zeus, and the result is heavy. A weighty low end and banging drum line are complemented by some gentle piano, beautiful horns and flutes, and Tyler's always-great vocals.
Khrysis, Rapsody, and Sa-Roc : The Disrespect
When you have two serious MCs ready to go, just give them a good beat, hit "record", and get out of the way! It's great to hear Khrysis still bringing it all these years after first hearing him as part of the Justus League, and last year's "The Hour Of Khrysis" (appropriate) is another solid entry in his catalogue. Rapsody, his fellow Soul Council member, puts work in on the first verse with quite a relaxed, smooth flow, before Sa-Roc comes in slightly more amped up on the second.
Havoc & The Alchemist : Throw In The Towel (Instrumental)
Two of the masters of the dark combined on "The Silent Partner", and this gives you a good sample of the flavour throughout! The Alchemist is in sole charge of production here - the fact that such an expert producer as Havoc trusts him in that position is testament to his skill.
Superbad Solace : Sundaze
A very short and sweet cut from "Sol Controller 2", Mono En Stereo clearly dug in the crates to construct this layered soul soundtrack for Solace of the Queens duo Timeless Truth to get busy on. Not every track needs to be a lengthy epic to be satisfying!
Nature ft. Nas : The Ultimate High
Not everyone picks up on the vibe of this one. I remember playing it at a random house party once and hearing someone very much not into Hip-Hop complain "that's a pretty boring beat", but then fairly recently decided to try it in a Twitch set and it got a good response! I had assumed for the longest that this was a Trackmasters beat, but it's actually the sample master Ski who did the honours here, driving straight ahead with a dope library record find and a heavy foot on the kick drum. It's an all-Queensbridge affair on the mic, with Nas taking the first half of the second verse, but Nature handling the major part nicely. You can find this on "For All Seasons", Nature's debut, but I decided to go with the clean version of this from the 12" - just made the hook a little less jarring.
Mega Ran : Flight 2.0
I can definitely relate to that opening verse - I might not have been getting all the nice kicks when I was a kid, but adult me makes up for that now! Mega Ran goes deeper on this track from his excellent new LP "Live '95" (totally on board with the theme/branding BTW), expanding on the politics and significance of the not-so-humble sneaker and the surrounding culture. DJ DN3 needed to come with a heavy beat to keep the energy balanced, and it's just what was needed - some gliding, floaty highs complementing the bass-heavy, slightly glitchy foundation. Flavour!
Nine : Whutcha Want? (Radio Remix)
I understand how it goes, Nine had to do the dance for the media, it's just that I remember him debuting as "9 Double M" on Funkmaster Flex's "Six Million Ways To Die" :) Anyway, many of you will know the original version of this hit single from "Nine Livez", but this remix wasn't played anything like as much - understandable I suppose, but it's dope in its own right!
[Godfather Don] Hostyle : Guilty (Instrumental)
Finally got round to picking up a copy of the original break for this on vinyl - it's a classic, and Godfather Don wisely doesn't chop it around, just adds some nice extra seasoning on top of the strong source material. The scratches laid in even on the instrumental version are a nice accent on top of the main loop. Stumbling upon this single in the average record shop might not be that likely, but you should be able to source a used copy online.
Ultramagnetic MCs : Make It Happen
We open up the section of early-mid 90s gems with this gem of a single - not as well-known as it should be. I believe this was the promo/lead single from the "Funk Your Head Up" LP and its heavy and dense production is the kind of thing you could imaging coming out of the Public Enemy camp. Ced Gee is dope as always, but as is so often the case, Kool Keith is the man on this cut. One personal note - I didn't realise until writing these notes that there was actually a video for this track!
Above The Law : Menace To Society
If you've been around me for any length of time, you know how highly I rate Above The Law, and their 1990 debut "Livin' Like Hustlers" is an album that everyone should check. This track closed the first side of the vinyl, and is thus arguably the deepest cut on the LP. Interestingly, Discogs lists this track as having had some lyrics written by Go Mack and Total K-Oss, the DJs. For a group with Cold 187um and KMG (RIP) on the mic, it seems unlikely that they would let anyone else write a single bar for them - but I'd love to know whether Discogs is just wrong, or if there's a story there!
Brand Nubian : Brand Nubian Rock The Set
The kind of album track that you don't hear often but which this podcast is all about, this is just plain Hip-Hop dopeness. As with the rest of this segment, this is at a pace you don't often hear these days, with the group self-producing and the then-duo of Sadat X (love his opening two bars) and Lord Jamar bringing it on the mic. A lot of people thought the group was on borrowed time when Grand Puba left, but the "In God We Trust" album showed how mistaken that assumption was.
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth : Good Life (Group Home Mix)
Not produced by the famous duo Group Home, just the title of the mix! Taken from the 1991 "All Souled Out" EP, the duo's debut, Pete Rock's genius allows him to swap out pretty much every element of the original and yet still preserve a very similar vibe. On the mic, he steps back to give C.L. the space to control the mic solo. They were so young, and yet so incredible from the off!
People Under The Stairs : Live At The Fishbucket (Part 2) (Instrumental)
I don't know how many copies the 12" of "The Cat" would have sold, but I'm glad I picked it up on release as it's great from front to back, and this instrumental has always been a funky favourite. RIP Double K.
Too Many Cooks and English : Live and Direct
There was absolutely no way I was ending the episode with any other piece of wax than this one. TMC (Obelix & Leeroy) decided in 2006, in a time way before Bandcamp or any of that, that they wanted to put some vinyl out, and as I look back, there's really something to be said for creating a physical artifact of your talent. They combined their production and scratch skills with the bars of English, a London MC who was living in Manchester and slaying it at open mic sessions (and then with us at Family Gathering) to create the "Live and Direct" 12", from which we take the title track here. With all the respect they had for that vintage, golden era sound, they channel it here to great effect. The instrumental of this cut was digitised and played at the opening of Obelix's funeral, and it was fitting that his music was shared right to the very end. Rest peacefully, Obelix.
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!