Sep 29, 2011
"...as you sing your senseless songs to the mindless..."
- Chuck D
Got something of a theme this month - starting off really fast and bringing the speed down as we go through the episode; kind of like reverse club DJing! Got a bit of Public Enemy (saw them live again this month - they killed it, again), some great tunes from Manchester, and the usual selection of "I never heard that before" tracks to hopefully plant that digging bug in your head! Start playing this one in the gym and finish off driving at about 15mph under the speed limit...
Suga Free & The Time : Cool
Starting things off with energy; I don't do drugs but the pace of this tune combined with the occasional high-pitched keyboard hits for some reason makes me think that this is what being extra-high in a club and dancing crazy must sound like! This is a semi-cover version of the original "Cool" from The Time's first album, with Suga Free spitting pimp talk all over a beefed-up version of the 1981 track. I got this as a download from the "The Features, Vol.2" compilation, would definitely love to have it on vinyl but I suppose Serato will have to do...
Cybotron : Clear
Great electro track from all the way back in 1982, one of the original records that started off what we now know as techno. Coming out of Detroit, Brian Davis and techno co-originator Juan Atkins combined to show just what could be done with all electronic instruments at a time when most people just couldn't see it. I dug a digital copy of this out after seeing it mentioned in the brilliant book "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" and instantly recognised it - it's one of those tracks which soaks into your subconscious the first time you hear it and never goes away! For the younger generation, this should sound familiar as the basis of Missy Elliott's "Lose Control," and for those who follow Mobb Deep's ridiculous amount of unreleased material, this was used on the incredibly menacing "Everything's Cool" (find it if you can) - the producer slowed this track down and it gives it a really nasty edge.
Ice-T ft. Nat The Cat & Donald D : Fly-By
Huge favourite of mine, from Ice-T's masterpiece album "OG : Original Gangster" (essential purchase). Ice-T opens up strong, I learned Donald D's killer closing verse off by heart when I was in school, and Nat The Cat's middle section is amazing when you hear how he kicks that style over a beat that's right around 120BPM.
The Roots : Boom!
Woooooooy! Super-tough drumming from Questlove provides the bedding for one of the illest solo MC performances you'll hear anywhere. Yes, I said solo. Black Thought throws down a heavy first verse before switching into jaw-dropping impersonations of Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap on the other two verses! Rewind it, play it again, appreciate! Taken from the "The Tipping Point" album, which wasn't my favourite Roots release (though I greatly preferred it to "Phrenology") - my pick is still "Things Fall Apart," which you should already own if you listen to my recommendations :o)
Public Enemy : Caught, Can We Get A Witness?
Overlooked PE track from the certified classic "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" album, closing the first side nicely (well, unless you have the CD...) On the Bomb Squad track, Chuck D, never a man backwards in coming forwards, thunders down his thoughts on everything from sampling to the vacuousness of love songs. I say and say again, if Chuck D doesn't get mentioned in your list of all-time great MCs, your list is wrong.
Master Fuol & ODB : Wingworms
Brooklyn stand up! This tune is from Thirstin Howl III's "Licensed To Skill" album but as far as I can tell he's actually not on this track at all - instead, mic duties are handled by fellow Lo-Life Master Fuol and the late great Wu-Tang loose cannon ODB, basically both just talking crazy on the beat; I've also seen this one around titled as "Last Call." This track is definitely too little-known! I'll just leave you with a choice lyric; "fall on your butt, yo' ass gon' hurt." That's wisdom right there.
PMD : Back To Work (Instrumental)
I love it...it's just kind of awkward. Parrish Smith handled the production himself on this one - many people forget he does beats as well as rocking the mic - and it's dope, but just loops kind of oddly! As such, it's not a record I pull out often as it's strange to mix with, but as I didn't need to mix right at this point, I took the opportunity to include it - hate to see a good record go to waste!
Two-One : Swing
Local talent coming up with a big tune here! Manchester's Two-One is a skilled MC and producer who you might know from In The Loop and many other events besides. On this track, he showcases a confident flow over a tasty beat from Oldham's Kuartz who you'll have heard on the podcast previously. This was taken from the "Mathematics" EP which was a free download - no longer available, but I kept on at the man until I could get a copy of this to play you :o) Keep an eye out for more material from Two-One here and Kuartz here!
Cormega : The Other Side
One of the realest MCs out on a great track from the "Born & Raised" LP on the unglamourous sides of the street life, featuring a light airy production from none other than Fizzy Womack of M.O.P! Yes, I was surprised too :o)
The Mouse Outfit ft. MC Presto : Who To Trust
If you've never seen The Mouse Outfit live, you're missing out. Coming out of Manchester, they're an absolutely firing band who in the last couple of years have added both members of Plato (MC Bedos and producer Pitch) to their lineup. To my mind, they're now at the start of the big push a lot of us have been waiting for them to make and have just released their debut EP "Check Your Pulse" from which this track is taken. On this tune, Bedos passes up mic duties to the American MC Presto who also turns out to be a good complement to the band, and this track just might be my favourite on the EP - the beat just works so well. Keep an eye out for these guys!
Troy S.L.U.G.S : Get It 4 Real
One of those 12" singles I've been waiting to play for a while, bringing a little harder edge sonically than the last few tracks. I can't even call this a forgotten gem since that would imply that people really knew about it the first time round! Pete Rock brings a dope, shoulder moving beat which already puts the track above the average and Troy contributes some fairly straight-ahead, solid rhymes - no crazy complex technique, but no nonsense either. I must say I don't know much about him except that he's from Astoria, NY, and that he had another 12" which I've got in the library with a nice B-side "88 Bars." That's good, but this is better - worth a pickup I think if you see a copy.
Superior Thought : Holding On
Like this beat? Find more of his stuff here. Talented UK producer out of South London who's really doing some good things staying true to the sampling style, keeping a very Hip-Hop flavour rather than going dubstep/grime/whatever. He's got a lot of stuff up on his Bandcamp, either free or cheap - definitely worth checking out. This particular tune is from his "S'strumentals" instrumental album, a free download you'd be mad to not at least give a listen!
2Pac : Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z
Can you believe it's been fifteen years this month since 2Pac died? Crazy. I've never been a huge Pac fan - people who know my listening know that about me - but I will always say that I greatly preferred the era of his first three albums to anything he recorded after that. This here is a track which always stays on the iPod, always enjoyed it since it was first released and it's a good motivational one for the weights too! Produced by Laylaw (who has some great Hip-Hop history), the slow and low, sample-heavy vibe fit the attitude of the lyrics much better than any synth outing could ever hope to. Lyrically, 'Pac would never fit into the super-complex category, but could always be said to put down how he felt whenever he hit the booth; there's something to be said for that in life as well as in music!
Dr.Dre ft. Lady Of Rage : Lyrical Gangbang (edit)
Didn't feel like having the whole song so just knocked out a quick edit to give you some instrumental after the first verse. Taken from "The Chronic" of course, this one plays slow and bangs loud - not the first tune people think of when this album comes up for discussion but sometimes, only this tune will do! If they end up creating a time machine I want a quick trip back to when hard rhymes like Rage's and heavy beats like this were standard issue...
Camp Lo : Something For Nothing
The Camp Lo unreleased/soundtrack/compilation/B-side catalogue is full of gems, if you can find them! I've definitely said before how much I rate this Bronx crew going back to the first time I heard "Coolie High," and this track is a seriously under-the-radar piece I was glad to add to the collection! This is on a white-label 12" with some other bits from other artists so is lacking full credits, but a quick web search tells me this is a 2001 track from the compilation "Stimulated, Vol.1" and Lord Digga was the man with the slow, swaggering, soulful beat. Add to that the Lo's dense slang styles and you've got a winner!
UNKLE ft. Alice Temple : Bloodstain
Bit of personal trivia - the first time I went to donate blood, I lay down on the bed and this tune came on my MP3 player on shuffle! That said, since it was the very early days of MP3 players and it had a grand total of 64MB memory (read that again, carefully), it wasn't that unlikely! This is still a headphone staple for me, it still sounds fresh - hard and heavy drum track with plenty of space for Alice Temple's vocal to breathe. Bit of trivia - apparently, Alice Temple was the first female UK and European BMX champion. All that and an angelic voice! As for UNKLE, this is the "Psyence Fiction" incarnation of the group, with James Lavelle and DJ Shadow being the driving forces behind the project.
[Slip Wax] Bomshot : Kill Em All (Instrumental)
2005 track out of Boston on Commonwealth Records; truth be told, this 12" is pretty nondescript on the whole. I got it primarily because Agallah produced the A-side, but the rhymes just didn't grab me. I do like this B-side beat and it worked nicely for the blend, but again, lyrically the track didn't do anything for me at all. It's just like that sometimes!
Raphael Saddiq ft. Q-Tip : Get Involved
First heard this on one of DJ A-Up's mixtapes a while ago, chased him up to find out what it was and managed to get a vinyl copy recently in time to get it on the podcast; I'd slowed the MP3 down before and liked how it sounded so knew it needed to be on here! Oakland's Raphael Saddiq is one of those artists who was always kind of at the periphery of my consciousness - never really knew his work properly but did know of Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl - but this track got me on board and having checked some of his albums since, I can better appreciate what he does! Got this on a 12" single but you can probably find it more easily on the soundtrack to "The PJs."
Nas : It Ain't Hard To Tell
One that everyone knows, so you've got a point of reference to go with! I love what the slowdown does to the "da-da, da da" in the hook, and Large Professor's filtered bass on this damn near drops out of the bottom of the speaker!
Unknown : Grand Theft Auto Theme
This is from the original Grand Theft Auto game, the top-down one that was released on the PC back in 1997; if I recall correctly, I searched the CD for sound files to get hold of this track and have been carting it around ever since! Not sure who put this track together, but it sounds like they were heavily "inspired" by Easy Mo Bee's beat for Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear." Grand Theft Audio?
Slum Village : Climax
On the very first podcast episode, you heard the instrumental of this - now you get the vocal, but missing more than 20% of the speed! From the "Fantastic, Volume 2" album, this is probably my favorite Slum Village track. The big speed drop here makes it sound more ghostly and eerie than seductive...try it at night! This is probably the beat that made me a Dilla believer - some of the stuff he'd done before this point I didn't know he'd done, and some wasn't to my taste, but this one smacked me round the head and got me up to speed. Fresh.
EPMD : You're A Customer
Winding up with one that the heads will certainly know, another classic! Over 23 years old but never fails to get the necks snapping! The samples/interpolations it uses are well known so I can talk about them; taking a four notes from ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses," a little "Jungle Boogie," and of course the "Fly Like An Eagle" snatch and adding some drum machine, EPMD built a monster. Result.
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!