Feb 28, 2022
"Seasoning drippin' off of my style, I dress tastefully..."
- Meyhem Lauren
It's Feburary once again, and so we dig into the catalogues of J Dilla, Big Pun, and Big L as we mark the anniversaries of their passings. Alongside those gems. we have some excellent brand new releases and some rarities from the vaults. You should definitely have some tunes to add to your shopping list after listening to this one!
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Semi Six : It's On
I would have called this the brand new single, but Semi Six dropped another straight after this with the quickness! Just heavy business from this Detroit booth incinerator, with the hook and the sample incorporated into it coming from Biggie's classic "Who Shot Ya?" Tuamie, who did the production on the recent "Assorted Fries" EP, comes with the heat again - a modern boom-bap sound with some nice extra touches. And you know that "LOX vs Dipset" line he spit is facts!
Jay Dee : Dreamy
Here we have the more chilled side to the late Jay Dee's style, taken from his "Vintage" EP - which is now available on Bandcamp, and an essential for those who appreciate this kind of vibe.
Big Pun : That's How We Roll
Apologies for the sound quality - I know it's pretty rough! This is a white label I picked up from somewhere, and while it shares the same lyrics as the track of the same name from the "Endangered Species" album, the beat is completely different. I'm not going to mention the sample, but you probably recognise it, and I can only imagine that they couldn't clear the sample. Anyway, I definitely prefer this version, and I've always found it interesting how an MC as rugged and raw as Pun could sound absolutely at home on such relatively gentle instrumentals.
De La Soul : Goes With The Word
One of the landmark Dilla beats was the monster he delivered for De La Soul's "Stakes Is High", and so they'll always be tightly associated; had he lived, I'm sure they'd have produced many more classics. Sadly, it wasn't to be, but De La remix their "D.A.I.S.Y" as "Da Inner Sound Of Yancey" on this mixtape, combining re-interpretations of their own lyrics with J Dilla beats from the vaults. In this case, the beat entitled "Don't Say A Word" is repurposed underneath a version of De La's "Potholes In My Lawn".
Devin Morrison : No
As well as being a great artist in his own right, Onra clearly knows how to spot talent, signing the Orlando native Devin Morrison to his own label and then letting him do his thing on the way to the release of the 2019 "Bussin'" album. This is the lead single, and is pretty much impossible not to like! Somewhat reminiscent of what is often called neo-soul, this definitely isn't stuck in the past and and Devin's production and tastefully-processed vocals sound up to date with a classic feel. Just dopeness.
J Dilla ft. Amp Fiddler : Let's Pray Together
You're not imagining things if you think you recognise the beat - this was previously used by Common on "Dooinit", but it gets a welcome re-airing on this track from the "Rebirth Of Detroit" album. Amp Fiddler is a Detroit legend who preceded J Dilla, and in fact mentored him and gave him his first MPC!
[Tall Black Guy] Essa : The Middle Man (Remix Instrumental)
It's been a long while since I played the vocal version of this track on the podcast, so I thought I'd break out Tall Black Guy's instrumental. The vinyl is sold out I believe, but you can still buy this excellent single in digital form.
Big L : Casualties Of A Dice Game (9th Wonder Remix)
People in the know tell us that we were yet to see Big L reach the height of his powers before he was tragically taken from the world. That's quite something when you hear the skill level he'd already attained, as demonstrated here on one of his classic street storytelling rhymes. You might know the lyrics from his posthumously released "The Big Picture", but on "The DITC Remix Project" the tense Ron Browz beat is removed in favour of an instrumental by 9th Wonder with a kind of mournful feel - both versions are appropriate, given how the story ends.
Waajeed ft. Invincible : The Place Where We Dwell
This is an interesting record, with the original "The Place Where We Dwell" as recorded by Gang Starr to big up their home of Brooklyn being reinterpreted with a Detroit-based remake. There are some sonic similarities, as Waajeed works the same base sample, but puts his own twist on it. Invincible does their adopted home proud with her bars - as Guru was with Brooklyn, Invincible was a transplant to Detroit. Solid cut from "The War LP".
A Tribe Called Quest : Same Ol' Thing
This is a Tribe cut that might have passed you by - an Ummah production (you'll hear the J Dilla in it) which didn't appear on any Tribe records until "Hits, Rarities & Remixes" but was a highlight of the "Men In Black" soundtrack. The bump and low end is immaculate, and concentrating the beat in that range leaves plenty of space for Q-Tip's comparatively higher tone to cut through as he goes solo on the mic.
Black Moon ft. Tek : Roll Wit Me
As I say on the voiceover, I'd recommend giving "Rise Of Da Moon" album a listen if you haven't already if you're a fan of the golden 90s. Banging boom-bap for the 21st century...they have it! Buckshot and Tek on the mic give you that consistent BCC connection on the mic, and Da Beatminerz are sounding as solid as ever.
J Dilla : Dillatronic 09
I would love to have heard MCs tearing up some of these beats, but they were just offcuts to J Dilla in his time. In contrast to "Dreamy" as heard earlier, this is the grimy and electronic side to his style, which you can hear more of on the "Dillatronic" collection - most of the tracks are very short, but still interesting to hear.
Meyhem Lauren & Harry Fraud : Steamed Monkfish (Remix)
The "Glass 2.0" project was a worthy follow-up to the first project from the Queens MC/amateur chef/fashion collector, and this standout track made my pick for the "Groovement 10" a little while back. Meyhem is always one for a good food reference or a completely off-the-wall intro (as heard here) or adlib, and the rhymes are always top-notch. This remix (both versions were produced by Harry Fraud) definitely outdoes the original in my opinion, with an elegant ruggedness playing the banging drums off against generous helpings of strings.
Kaytranada ft. BADBADNOTGOOD : Weight Off
Even though I predominantly play instrumentals on the podcast as beds between segments, I was enjoying a listen to this and thought it would be a nice one to hear breathe! If you haven't already got the "99.9%" album, you're missing out - Kaytranada is an excellent producer/composer, and this collab with Toronto's BADBADNOTGOOD is just one example.
Curren$y & Harry Fraud : Seven Seas (Miami Nights Mix)
We head to the "Bonus Footage" EP for more of Curren$y's patented rhyme style in combination with the production of recurring collaborator Harry Fraud. The low boom adds some gravity to the gliding synths and skittering hi-hat pattern, which is a similar construction to the original from "The OutRunners" but with different sounds - you'll get where I'm coming from if you listen to both back-to-back.
Benny The Butcher ft. J Cole : Johnny P's Caddy
I think this is an absolutely outstanding track, and it's a new release I put my money down on immediately even though I'll likely buy the upcoming "Tana Talk 4" as well. Alchemist supplies a brooding instrumental as Benny puts his lifetime in between the paper's lines (RIP Prodigy) on the opening verse, before J Cole - who might not strike you as an obvious choice of guest star - kills it on the second. As I often insist - those who say no good new Hip-Hop is coming out nowadays simply isn't paying attention.
[Harry Fraud] Eddie B : Nike Slogans (Instrumental)
The "The Johnny Utah Story" project by Eddie B and Harry Fraud is one we've visited a few times, and the fact that it came with all the instrumentals as well is great for the DJs among us! I needed something with just a touch of darkness to lead into the final track, and this one fit the bill...
Method Man ft. Iron Mic : Last 2 Minutes
The only appropriate place to play this track is at the very end! An absolutely fire new single by Method Man alongside the battle rapper Iron Mic, if this is indicative of the quality of the upcoming "Meth Lab 3 : The Rehab" then it'll be a must-purchase! The rhymes are razor-sharp and the production fits like a glove, courtesy of Chris Wellz and Genius On The Beat. Definitely nothing to play after this!
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!