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Air Adam Podcast

Apr 30, 2024

Digging at Britannia Record Fair Manchester. Photo used with permission.

"If you're wrong, you're wrong, and if you're right, you're right."

- Malcolm X

It's been a rough month in the Hip-Hop community, as we've said goodbye to Mister Cee, Rico Wade of Organized Noize, MC Duke, and Keith LeBlanc, all of whom are included in this episode's selection. Rest in peace to all, and thanks to them for all their contributions.

Despite spending a fair amount of time (and £) digging in the vintage crates this month, the selection is mostly a mix of exploring my existing colllection, plus a few new brand new digital releases. I will be very impressed if there's anyone who knows every track here already!  

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MysDiggi : Skull Island

It was a pleasure to hear the well-respected UK MC MysDiggi explain some of his approach to writing and maintaining a career at the Hip-Hop @ 50 event at the Contact Theatre in Manchester recently, and so I wanted to include a track from him on this episode! On this track from "Tip Of Da Mysberg 3",  he's in full King Kong mode over an 8-bit-style beat from Manchester's Twizted Roots (now Strange Soul Music) that has demolished the room when he's played it at the WORKINONIT producer sessions. A perfect union for a literally monster tune!

[Dabrye] Bus : Keep Life Right Remix (Instrumental)

Bass and more bass, following up with another electronic track that was very popular in Manchester on the underground scene in the early nineties. The vocal version has lyrics by Scottish MC Soom-T, and if you go all the way back to Episode 55 you can hear it there - though of course, if you like it, I recommend buying a copy!

Sparkz : Buzzin

Last year's "Overload" EP by Manchester's Sparkz was a great release on High Focus records, with five tracks entirely produced as well as written by the man himself - and with a touch not seen nearly enough these days, all the instrumentals coming included as well! This is the opener and probably my favourite, with a nice relaxed bounce to the rhythm and the lyrics flowing over nice and easy...until he ramps it up with some devastating double-speed bars! I don't know if any of the vinyl copies of this are still available, but it's on Bandcamp so you can pick it up for yourself there.

OutKast : Elevators (ONP 86 Mix)

Of course there had to be some Rico Wade this month, and so I've gone back to what is still my favourite OutKast LP ("ATLiens") for the remix of the lead single. It retains some of the same spooky keys as the OutKast-produced original but overall swaps elements out for something more of a live feel, you could say - almost like a funk band putting their own spin on it.

Cookin Soul & The Musalini ft. Planet Asia : I Want It All

Mus has been cultivating his New York take on the "gentleman of leisure" lane, and this luxurious track is a standout on the newly-released "Mackaroni" album, with Valencia's Cookin Soul hooking up an Anita Baker sample for a short and sweet cut, with both Mus and guest Planet Asia cooking (no pun intended) up visions of fly living, with those Mediterranean lamb chops sounding good right about now...

Z-Ro ft. Mya : Clearer

This has been a track on repeat for me this month, great track from Rother Vandross' new "The Ghetto Gospel" LP. He's never really made a mainstream splash, but those who know him have no choice but to appreciate and respect him. Getting the legendary Mya to feature here was a big win, and Beanz & KornBread on production beautifully interpolate a Houston classic for a sparkling clean track perfect for when the sun does eventually appear!

DJ DMD : 25 Lighters (Instrumental)

I was utterly amazed to find out that I'd never played any version of this track on the show before, but with the preceding tune drawing heavily from this Houston anthem, I had to drop the instrumental at least. DJ DMD sampled the classic "Nite and Day" by Al B. Sure and hooked it up perfectly for an absolute classic which has been referenced by many within the culture - and even covered by ZZ Top!

Polyrhythm Addicts : Smash

Banging, bludgeoning Hip-Hop right here, with DJ Spinna's beat indeed out to smash everything in sight. This is taken from the second Polyrhythm Addicts LP, "Break Glass...", which saw Apani B. Fly step away from the group and the also-ill Tiye Phoenix take her spot. I think I missed this the first time round, only really hearing the debut LP, but after happening upon this it sounds like the lesser-known second album is worth seeking out.

Slum Village & Mick Boogie ft. Rapper Big Pooh and Vice : Fresh

This isn't the sound that many associate with Slum Village, but they've produced some pretty varied material sonically through the different lineups of the group over the years. The intentionally raw "Dirty Slums" mixtape by Mick Boogie featured this grimy track, with banging drums, wailing electric guitar and dirty synth bass, plus the Detroit crew bringing in reinforcement from North Carolina in the shape of Little Brother's Rapper Big Pooh. 

Dungeon Family : Curtains (DF 2nd Generation)

Going into the Organized Noize/Rico Wade catalogue again, this was a track at the end of Dungeon Family's "Even In Darkness" album, and as the subtitle indicates, showcases the members of the crew who were up next after OutKast, Goodie Mob, and the rest. The one who probably jumps out to most is Killer Mike, who has gone on to have a long career as a soloist and as half of Run The Jewels, but everyone holds theirs down on this track. For those that might not have known, The Dungeon was the name of the basement studio in Rico's mother's house, where he and the rest of the crew honed their crafts and did their first recordings; it's nice that the name lives on.

Nas & DJ Premier : Define My Name

If you're a very online Hip-Hop fan, you'll certainly have heard this track already, but I thought I'd share it for those who aren't! This is the lead single from the long, long-awaited Nas and Preemo album - and as much as some people complain they wanted it years ago, things happen when they happen. Nas breaks down his actual name and then looks back over his history from the viewpoint of someone who, like the rest of us, might not have imagined that nineteen-year-old who wrote "Illmatic" still releasing heat at fifty! DJ Premier's beat is sparse in one of his signature styles, and of course his near-trademark scratch phrase hook is in effect. The wait is almost over...

[Mark B] & Blade : Sealed With A Diss (Instrumental)

RIP Mark B, who along with Blade made a great duo that even managed to get some mainstream success after years of holding it down on the underground. This track, the second A-side cut on the 2001 "There's No Stoppin' It" EP, was the answer to all those who took shots at them because of that success, with this urgent beat and Blade playing no games on the mic!

Ultramagnetic MCs : Kool Keith Model Android 406

Sound quality is a bit rough, combined with some...interesting ideas on panning, but hopefully that doesn't take away too much from this Ultramagnetic rarity! It's on a compilation called "The B-Sides Companion", but I can't seem to find what, if anything, it was ever on the B-side of - information would be appreciated. By the way, if you're looking to buy the compilation you might want to get the CD, as the overall pressing quality of the vinyl isn't great.

Malcolm X : No Sell Out

I was sure I'd played this recently, but couldn't find any record of it so I must have just been listening in the house 😆 Keith LeBlanc was the producer here (though the record is credited to Malcolm X), and he had the idea of combining spoken word samples (this back in 1983!) with a beat, after hearing Grandmaster Flash playing part of the famed Dirty Harry "do you feel lucky?" speech over a record. A drummer by trade, he built the track completely with drum machines, the cutting-edge tech of the time, and then laid quotes from the legendary freedom fighter over the top. It was controversial in some circles, but if nothing else, he ensured that he got permission from Malcolm's widow, Dr. Betty Shabazz, and that the family got paid. Love it or hate it, this was a groundbreaking record for sure, and one that preceded the Afrocentric Hip-Hop era where Malcolm's words very much came to the fore. 

Big Daddy Kane : Mister Cee's Master Plan

We hardly have DJs in rap groups anymore, so the DJ track has long since sadly been consigned to the history books in all but a handful of cases. However, there was a time it was a must and Big Daddy Kane cedes the spotlight on this cut from his debut "Long Live The Kane" to his DJ, the recently-departed Mister Cee, bigging him up on the mic and then letting him cut it up on the turntables. Plan executed.

Gang Starr : Take A Rest (Take 5 Remix)

Of course there had to be some Guru this month, so here we have a remix of an old classic from the "Step In The Arena" LP. London's CJ Mackintosh gets on the boards for this one, keeping the foundation of DJ Premier's production but blending a little extra jazz into it! I picked this up on a compilation of Gang Starr rarities, but the official place to find it is on the B-side of the UK release of "Take A Rest" itself.

Sadat X : The Great Dot X (Instrumental)

The wax I got this on (a sampler of tracks from the Stimulated label) unfortunately doesn't credit the producer, but this takes an old R&B (in the original sense) dancefloor classic that was a big single in its day...and wisely, doesn't mess with it too much!

Duke : Return Of The Dread-I

We close the episode with a track from the late MC Duke, a UK pioneer who got his start when he served up the winner of a DMC MC battle who said he could beat anyone in the place! He was signed to the famed Music of Life label, on which he released two LPs - "Return Of The Dread-I" being the second. Of course, it heavily channels "Star Wars" in the way you'd expect from the title, with Double H Productions working the vocal samples into the hook of this frenetic track, with Duke himself coming with the rebel attitude like Luke Skywalker and the aggression of his father. RIP Duke.

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!