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Air Adam Podcast

Feb 28, 2023

Mixing desk with mic 2 unplugged. RIP Trugoy.

"Too old to rhyme? Too bad, too late."

- Dave

This month marks a huge loss for the Hip-Hop community, and the music world more widely, as Dave, aka Trugoy The Dove of De La Soul, passed away. As part of the group, he was a perfect match with Pos on the mic, and was one of those low-key people that no-one ever had anything but good to say about. De La's influence is hard to overstate; without them, we might have had no Tribe, no Pharcyde, no Souls of Mischief... They showed that you didn't have to follow the hypermasculine style of their time, and brought their own brand of humour and creativity. On top of that, they were frequent and much loved live performers, and Dave's presence as part of one of the best shows in the culture will be greatly missed. Of course, in tribute, we have several De La Soul tracks in this month's selection.

Before we get into the tracklist and notes; here's where you can donate to relief efforts in Turkey and Syria following the devastating earthquake they suffered this month.

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De La Soul : Stakes Is High

Knowing that we were going to make several visits to the De La catalogue, I just had to open the episode with this one, the title track to their fourth album. The late J Dilla is on production, and there's a classic story of Posdnuous having to "Jedi mind trick" Q-Tip out of taking the beat for himself! To Pos' ears, the majesty of the beat perfectly fit the grand theme De La were going for with the lyrical theme, and he was bang on. The title actually came from Dave's late cousin Fudge, who told him " all better do something. The stakes is really high for you right now..." and his words live on through this work. De La take that title and use it to warn how high the stakes were for Hip-Hop at that time, with the jiggy and Mafioso era in full swing and raising real alarm for the direction of the culture. 

Pete Rock : Play Yo Horn

The first instrumental of the month is a 2015 release, though whether it was actually recorded anywhere near that year, I couldn't be sure! For one, Pete Rock is a master at channeling vintage flavours, and secondly, he's been known to bring stuff out of the vaults that sounds great even today. I would love to hear MCs getting busy on this dense cut from "Petestrumentals 2".

Fat Joe and Big Pun : Best Behavior (Remix)

I love the dark, late night flavour of the original version, but Show does an equally good job on this remix (one of at least three to exist) - big horns, banging drums, and an overall stripped-back, boom-bap feel. You already know Big Pun is going to give you heavy bars, and Fat Joe holds it down on the mic too. I have this on a 12" backed by "My Life's On The Edge" by A-Bless, but I hear it's also on the 2005 "Street Talk" DITC compilation. 

Big L : On The Mic

This vinyl had already been throught the wars when I got it, but I guess the surface noise lends a certain flavour! You might recognise the vocals from the track "Size 'em Up" from the posthumously-released "The Big Picture" album, but this raw Roc Raida-produced track is on the B-side of the "Flamboyant" 12" single - definitely one to pick up for the Big L fans. RIP Big L and Roc Raida.

D'Angelo : Devil's Pie

One of those happy accidents, the bassline of this track was created by DJ Premier for a track with Canibus. It didn't work out and D'Angelo happened to call the same day, and he asked to hear the unfinished product. He loved it, and they went back to the studio the next day to finish what became one of the standouts on his sophomore "Voodoo" LP!

Mad Skillz : It's Goin' Down

Arguably the first MC to really make some noise out of Virginia (hence the name of his debut LP, "From Where???"), Skillz may not have the record sales of some of the more famous MCs...but he may well have written their rhymes at some point! This track is an early J Dilla production (from when he was going by Jay Dee), and has a little of the Latin flavour that would make up a big part of one of his better known productions, "Runnin'" for The Pharcyde. Also - don't Skillz and Big L have a very similar vocal tone?

[Pete Rock] InI : Fakin' Jax (Instrumental)

You can't be mad at getting another Pete Rock instrumental! This one is vintage SP action, the  instrumental for the lead track from the originally-unreleased InI LP "Center of Attention", and it's a real "if you know, you know" number.

De La Soul : U Can Do (Life)

I decided to lead this off with part of the album intro that immediately precedes it on "Art Official Intelligence : Mosaic Thump", just so you could hear where the podcast intro comes from! The LP came four years after "Stakes Is High", an eternity in Hip-Hop, and marked a departure from their norm in one way - a relatively large number of featured artists. This track, however, is the core group coming from the heart, over a chunky beat from Supa Dave West. Dave/Trugoy both opens and closes the track, with his last line being "live your live to the fullest". He did just that. 🕊

Libretto & Buscrates : Culture

With so much music being released on a daily basis nowadays, it's too easy for a killer track like this to slip through the cracks, but I've got it here for your enjoyment! Libretto is speaking on the rawness of the streets and how that ties into the Hip-Hop culture from his perspective, while Buscrates smashes it with a beat that feels part classic sample and part bass synth workout. And of course, he has the drums thumping through. An absolute jewel from the "Eternal Ridin'" LP.

Sparkz : Overload

Manchester's own Sparkz has featured on the podcast many times with his contributions to various groups, but here he is as a soloist on his first release after moving to the UK's well-respected High Focus records. This single will test your bass response, but while heavy, the beat provides plenty of space for Sparkz' to give you a full mic workout. Keep an eye out for new material from this man.

De La Soul & J Dilla : No More No Less

What a track - a reworking of "The Magic Number" concept, over an officially unreleased beat from J Dilla (which you might find online, entitled "Watching Smurfs On Shrooms"). We take this one from an EP that was originally a free release, and hopefully still findable now - "Smell The DA.I.S.Y" (Da Inner Soul of Yancey) - with even the title being a remix, a revisiting of the "D.A.I.S.Y. Age" idea from the beginnings of De La. The whole EP is made up along similar lines, with De La revisiting old themes over unreleased Dilla beats. The relationship between De La and Dilla was real, and there are few other crews with as much claim to put out a project like this.

Blackalicious : My Pen and Pad

That pen and pad were working overtime for this excellent lyrical display from the late Gift of Gab. Flow is as dope as you'd expect, and Chief Xcel holds down the beat as usual on a low-key funk vibe that changes up occasionally in the background without ever stealing the focus. You can find this on Blackalicious' third LP, "The Craft" - perfectly titled for such a dedicated crew.

Evil Needle & Misha : Cloud Zone

This new release is the kind of thing that will slip under most radars, but is the kind of quality I've been finding since plugging into the whole Chillhop Music movement. It's beautiful beatmaking, warm and bumping, and the vocoded quasi-background vocal additions take it over the top. The opener on the "chillhop beat tapes: Evil Needle x Misha" six-tracker, this beat is a perfect example of coming out of the gate strong when you're ordering tracks on a release.

Brelstaff ft. Fashawn : Cursive

This brand-new release is quite the trans-Atlantic combination, with Edinburgh's Brelstaff cooking up a laidback instrumental for Fashawn, representing Fresno in California. Only a very short one, but sometimes, as GZA once said, it makes for a stronger track to cut it off early.

Beanie Sigel : Look At Me Now

"Moms? Tryna lock me out. Cops? Tryna lock me in." Wow, that is some heavy business in the first verse of this quality come-up album cut, that ends happily, with Beanie looking out for the youngsters who struggle as he once did. You can find this tucked away towards the end of the 2005 LP "The B. Coming", with Buckwild providing the lush, string-laden production.

Joell Ortiz : In My Feelings

No hook, no filler, just raw - feelings, indeed. Joell speaks on the ups and downs of his career without interruption on an ill Heatmakerz beat, opening up the 2021 "Autograph" album on an intensely personal note. 

Ozay Moore, Vursatyl, and Chip-Fu : Slingshot

Seattle stand up! Ozay Moore brings friends through on this selection from the "Taking L's" album. It's nice to hear Chip-Fu of the Fu-Schnickens again, and with the tempo being relatively low, you can hear every word in his signature flow as he slows it to match. 14K is on production, and the kick is kicking like the police want to come through the door, but sometime in the next couple of hours or so :) The beat is heavy, but the timing of the composition is nicely relaxed!

J-Zone : The Commandments (Instrumental)

Labelled as "The Commandments" on the "J-Zone Instrumental Box Set: The Headband Years (1999-2006)" collection, this is the instrumental of the cut styled as "The Commandment$" from the 2003 "Sick Of Bein' Rich" album. Can't believe it's been twenty years already! He may have fully moved from Hip-Hop production and MCing into drumming, but you can't front on his great catalogue of previous work.

De La Soul ft. MF DOOM : Rock Co. Cane Flow

I was shocked to find out that I hadn't played this monster from "The Grind Date" on the podcast before, though maybe that was because the (manually-done!) speed changes make it awkward to mix with. As a closer though? Perfection. Jake One's beat just smashes through like Godzilla, building to the kind of grandness and drama that would fit the climactic action sequence of a Marvel film, and all the MCs are on form for it. The late MF DOOM fits right in alongside Pos and Dave as a devastating three-mic unit, and fittingly, Dave closes the track, and this epidose, out. RIP.

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!