Aug 31, 2022
"...today, we choose violence..."
Last month we had a nice, chilled, downtempo selection, gliding through several different genres. This month, we're flipping the script and rooting ourselves in pure beats, rhymes, and cuts!
Twitter : @airadam13
Twitch : @airadam13
Public Enemy : Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic
I was originally going to start the episode with the second track you'll hear, but a) I figured there'd be some listeners who wouldn't grab the reference it was making, and b) I'm always up for a bit of Public Enemy! This is an album cut from the seminal "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back", and a bit of a signal of the era; how many groups nowadays would do a track about their DJ? In fact, how many of them even have DJs?
The LOX : Terminator LOX
And now, we slide into a brand new release that has lovers of the real nodding in approval! Yonkers' own LOX come out swinging with this rugged single based around the preceding PE track. Great to see skilled veterans of the artform paying homage to those who came before them.
J-Zone : I'm Fuckin' Up The Money (Instrumental)
J-Zone is now a highly-accomplished drummer, but he was a beast on the MPC - even if the lyrics were humourous, the skills were no joke. The vocal version of this cut from "Pimps Don't Pay Taxes" actually has H.U.G soloing on the mic with a fine performance, but you'll need to grab the "Live From Pimp Palace East" single for this instrumental.
Neelam (ft. Da-Neek and Goalden Child) : We Got Em Like
I rarely use emojis in my write-ups, but 🔥🔥🔥🔥! If I recall correctly, I heard a snippet of this posted on Instagram by Pete Rock, and immediately went to chase it down. The video clip was immediately attention-grabbing, with women in militant garb doing drill manoeuvres around the MC, who's crystal-clear flow cut through the ominous, militaristic beat. Neelam and the guest MC on this cut are all representing the Nation of Islam, and each is from a different part of the country - in order, California, New York, and Chicago. All of them have skills, but Neelam is an absolute standout. This is a killer from the "Anomalous" EP, with Marquis Henri Scott and Vinson Alaz Muhammad providing the instrumental backing for three verses of the type you rarely hear these days.
Royce Da 5'9" : Soldier's Story
I decided to follow up with another military-inspired track, even if it's not coming from the same place message-wise! This Reef-produced 2000 track from Royce was on the B-side of the "Boom" single, and if I'm honest, I've always preferred it!
Red Astaire : Ghetto Hell
RIP to Red Astaire, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away in June this year. The Swedish beatsmith put out some incredibly high-quality work over the years, and this 2004 12" - now available as a digital release - is just one example. It takes a brave person to consider ripping out DJ Premier's production on D'Angelo's "Devil's Pie", but Red does it. Stripping things all the way back to a straight rhythm at first and then adding synths along the way, he crafts a beat that is a worthy remix - and then tops it off by throwing a sample of a speech on economics and exploitation on at the close! Red Astaire may no longer be with us, but his 12"s will be in the crates of many DJs for a long time to come.
[Charlemagne] Natural Elements : 2Tons (TV Track)
One of the few TV Tracks that isn't marred by a load of vocals! The drum action on this beat is serious, courtesy of the real Charlemagne, who was the man behind the board for almost all of Natural Elements' earlier material. Definitely seek out the vocal version of this cut, as what NE are known for, more than anything, is their incredible MC skill.
Tek : Hip-Hop
A bite-sized heater from the 2006 "It Is What It Is" album which also spawned the monster "#1 Sound". Tek works in perfect sync with the production here, leaving space for the various vocal samples and wrapping them into the verses themselves.
Pete Rock : One Time (Strap Yourself Down)
All these years and still going strong, Pete Rock continues to give us that work and evolve his sound; not to say that anything needed to change, but he's not afraid to throw in sonic elements that aren't obvious signatures. The drums on this selection from "PeteStrumentals 4" could easily have come from The Basement back in the 90s though...dopeness.
Omniscence : Raw Factor
Speaking of the 90s, we go back to that storied decade for this tune, the title track of the debut album from North Carolina's Omniscence. The LP was actually shelved at the time due to label politics and didn't see the light of day until 2014, when it finally got a release on Bandcamp! Produced by Fanatic, this sounds incredibly of its era in the best way - you can imagine this on a mixtape with Mic Geronimo, Nine, and plenty of others, slotting in seamlessly.
Sean Price and Small Professor (ft. Illa Ghee, Rock, and DJ Revolution) : Think About It
In August I always like to make sure I play some Sean Price, and we dip into one of his posthumous releases, the "86 Witness" LP with Small Professor. He slays the first verse, Illa Ghee does his thing on the second, and then Rock - Sean's partner in Heltah Skeltah - brings it home heavy. Small Professor's beat is dark, and accented by the sharp, angular cuts of DJ Revolution. The stereo panning on those cuts are a nice touch too!
Dubbul O & Jointhedots : 100 Degree
Brand new single release from one of my favourite MCs alongside the skilled musicianship of Jointhedots, showing the level of talent coming out of Manchester. We did actually reach 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) fairly recently, which is a bit worrying, but I digress...this meeting of the minds hasn't missed with any of their releases - whether lyrics or production is your thing, they have what you need.
Da Bush Babees : Gravity
The title track of the second LP from this Flatbush, Native Tongues-affiliated crew (yep, I thought it was the debut myself), this just has that down-to-earth bump that you can't help but groove to, alongside solid lyricism with the underlying flavour of the Caribbean, from which all the members hail (Jamaica and Trinidad). The Ummah are on production, meaning any combination of J Dilla, Q-Tip, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Da Bush Babees a crew that should have got more shine in their original form!
Statik Selektah : You Win (Instrumental)
This just fit nicely! Statik Selektah is one of those producers who quietly, consistently has worked his way into being one of the true heavyweights in today's scene. This particular track is from the "Mahalo (The Hawaii Instrumentals)" album, which as the title suggests, was entirely recorded in Honolulu.
Black Soprano Family (Benny The Butcher, Heem B$F, Rick Hyde) and DJ Premier : Times Is Rough
Different generations of ruggedness combine across the mic/board boundary for this ill new single. DJ Premier cooks up a signature beat and seasons it with another great scratch hook, while the BSF crew, headed up by Benny The Butcher, drop fire 2020s street bars from start to finish.
Bumpy Knuckles : The Flow Is Classic HipHop
That track title passes the Ronseal test! If there's a list of MCs who will never sell out for commercial appeal, Bumpy Knuckles' name would be a sure inclusion. Classic boom-bap here, self-produced, from the 2013 "Mix Files, Vol.1" EP. You'll only find a couple of tracks on Spotify, so you'll need to make a purchase - if you can find somewhere still selling it - to hear the release in its entirety.
Little Brother & Chaundon : The Honorable
Ok, kind of interesting labelling on this one. Originally credited/titled as "Untitled (Hot)" by Phonte and Chaundon on the "Just Us, Volume 7" Justus League mixtape, this eventually surfaced again as "The Honorable" on LB's "The Chittlin' Circuit 1.5 (Deluxe Edition)" release. 9th Wonder on the incredible beat of course, with a very dope scratch chorus might I add, and all the MCs representing strong. Chaundon's guest verse is a gem, and his line about tossing "your Microsoft ass out of 98 windows" marks the time period when this was recorded!
dead prez : Way Of Life
An anthem for the martial artist, this is from a crew who walk it like they talk it. Produced by Stic, this one draws you in with the reversed sounds and the bass and guitar work, then keeps you there with the repetitious, almost meditative flow. Find this on the "RBG (Revolutionary But Gangsta)" LP.
Repeat : Repeat To Fade
This one just got pulled out of the deepest corners of my stash, a compilation where I wouldn't have expected for a second to find something to mix in here - "Life...Style : Summer Sessions", which is primarily a dance-oriented three-CD compilation. As you can imagine, trying to Google for info on an artist and song with these names is pretty brutal, but I think this Repeat was an Italian act - that's the extent of what I can find! This cut could fit into a Bristol bass/trip-hop mix, with a crashing drum break or two working against atmospheric pads and an insistent bassline.
Sean Price & Agallah : Telemundo
We close the episode with one more for Sean Price, a single from that period after Heltah Skeltah's hiatus, and before Sean's second act had gained the momentum it later would. Agallah appreciated the talent even when others somehow slept, and this Brooklyn union has always made me smile. Ag is on the beat as well as on the mic, but Sean still makes this his track with skill, wit, and humour :) R.I...P!
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!