Oct 31, 2013
"You too near me not to hear me."
- Big Boi
What a month! Podcast out in the nick of time, and with it being Halloween I decided you deserved a treat more than a trick - hope you enjoy it :) Things have been hectic this month with the opening of the Manchester Marauders exhibition, which went as well as I could possibly have hoped! Here and here you can find a few photos of the exhibition, and if you'd like to buy one of the prints from the collection, then click here to get the print catalogue. It's been a lot of work, but good work lasts forever...
Public Enemy : Show 'em Whatcha Got
Starting things off with the first track on the second side of what could well be the greatest Hip-Hop album of all time, "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back." Based around a killer sample from the Lafayette Afro Rock Band, the Bomb Squad layer things up with some vocal stabs from the group and then longer pieces from a speech - I wish I could tell you who by! Always enjoyed this, and it's a track that can only really come at the beginning of whatever mix it's on.
A Tribe Called Quest : Rhythm (Devoted To The Art Of Moving Butts) (Instrumental)
First bit of Tribe this month, an instrumental from one of the tracks on their debut album. This never got a single release, but I happened on a collection of unreleased Tribe instrumentals on vinyl a while back, so that's where I found this one.
Big Daddy Kane ft. Q-Tip & Busta Rhymes : Come On Down
This is some classic heat. When some a lot of heads were doubting Kane's direction, he dropped this classic track on the "Prince Of Darkness" album which should have put everyone on notice that all those love records didn't mean the mic killer from the "Raw" days had been put to bed! He kills it on here and then recruits Q-Tip from Tribe and Busta in his LONS, destroy-the-last-verse guise to ensure quality mic work all the way through. He also self-produced this, basing it around a dramatic loop from the "Kelly's Heroes" soundtrack - nicely done!
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo : Poison
Yes, you're right. This is indeed where the vocal sample on Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" came from. Old news for the Hip-Hop in-crowd perhaps, but I can see a lot of people not knowing that! Second straight Juice Crew selection, this is from the duo's debut album, "Road To The Riches," released all the way back in 1989 - one that everyone should aim to have at least have some familiarity with. Marley Marl is on the thumping production and Polo is on the scratches - cutting up Biz Markie, just for the record. Classic again!
Outkast : Red Velvet
Total direction change here, taking it to Y2K Atlanta and - at least initially - half speed. Deep album track from the "Stankonia" LP, with a very distinctive beat (check the piano mixed with all the crazy synth sounds), and a heavy admonishment/cautionary tale about materialism and flaunting wealth. For me Big Boi's first verse is the one but both MCs come off well, and in addition they both had a hand in the production!
The ARE : The Chase
Part of the low-key Tribe influence on this episode, I decided to pull out this track from The ARE's "Manipulated Marauders" project, which took the original records samples on "Midnight Marauders" and flips them into new beats. This particular one takes Steve Arrington's "Beddie-Bye" as used on "The Chase, Part II" and rather than using the laid-back main groove like Tribe did, The ARE does his work with the dark intro to the record. An interesting take I think, and the whole album is worth checking out!
dead prez presents M-1 ft. stic.man : Early
So basically...dead prez. Motivational music of a sort! I got this on a Source compilation, but it's originally from M-1's "M-1 Confidential" album - I need to get a copy of that and have a proper listen. I can definitely relate to the lyrics on this one...
Skyzoo & Torae : Get It Done
I've been intending to do this transition for goodness knows how long! There was no way I was using either the previous song or this one without highlighting where the hook sample came from - though it sounds like it may be from an accapella. I thought these two were actually a duo when this came out, but it's really more of a collaboration between two New York MCs who were just up and coming. DJ Premier handles the production, and for some reason I feel like I detect a little Super Mario Brothers in there...is it just me? On the mic, check that final verse where they work the names of classic Premo tracks and MCs he's worked with into the lyrics. This was a great 12" with "Click" on the B-side - one to get in your collection.
Jedi Mind Tricks ft. Crypt The Warchild : The Rage Of Angels
One of those downcast beautiful tracks, with very personal verses from both MCs. Vinnie Paz is someone who's lyrics I often have issue with but no complaints here, as he writes a letter in "One Love" fashion to a locked-down friend. The beat is top quality, with Stoupe not doing a huge amount to the original sample (I don't know if it's cleared, so I can't reveal it), but that turns out to be the right move - less is more here! You can find this on the "Visions Of Gandhi" album, which is very good, but...
Rapsody ft. Nipsey Hussle, Ab-Soul, & Terrance Martin : Never Know
Rapsody is an MC out of North Carolina who's been bubbling on the low for a little while but seems to be getting some traction right now; big time producers like DJ Premier and 9th Wonder are backing her, and it's 9th who gives her the gorgeous backdrop for this track from the "She Got Game" mixtape. A lot of people need to take notes from a track like this; she absolutely kills her verse and then lets the guest in to do their thing - Ab-Soul probably doing the best job. On the beat, check how the kick effectively lands just before the "one" of each bar, making the track sound super-relaxed or hurried depending on whether you focus on the kick or the snare; combine that with all the other elements and you have a winner!
A Tribe Called Quest ft. Erykah Badu : I C U Doin' It
I'm not sure many people know this one! It was recorded for a Violator Records compilation "V3: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly," but apparently that never actually got released! I got this on a promo 12" plugging the non-existent album, but at least we got this one, which is probably one of the last records Tribe ever recorded together - it's post-"The Love Movement" by a few years, so that's my theory. All the same, they cover one of their recurring topics ;)
Logikbomb : Not Like Me
Nice little instrumental from "The Smooth Grooves Beat Tape" by the Beat Tape Project. I'm not even sure I can hear an MC going over the top of this - and yet here I am talking over the top. Anyway, it's a free download so why not grab the whole tape, turn the fire on, and kick back for a listen?
Wu-Block : Been Robbed
I shouldn't be laughing along with this record. I really shouldn't. It's the sample though, I can't help it! Apparently not the first time it's been used but it's new to me, and Joe Milly on production uses it well here. Sheek Louch (of D-Block) and Ghostface (of the Wu) have done an interesting thing with the song structure here - no full length verses, but working in four-bar vignettes which are then separated by four bars of the vocal sample coming in. Tale after tale of halfway crooks getting robbed! This is the clear standout for me from the "Wu-Block" collaboration album.
Yamin Semali & P.U.D.G.E : We Rockfresh
Got to admit I hadn't heard of either artist before this song! Pulled this one from Rockfresh's "Superimposed Headphones" mixtape, which people were hitting me up about when they saw the cover :) Sonically I'd have liked a touch more bass, but that's probably just how it came out on the tape - it's a dope track nonetheless! As far as I can tell, NY-LA operator P.U.D.G.E is the producer on this (and it's the beat that grabbed me immediately), and Yamin Semali took the mic on this one - yeah, it's kind of an extended advert, but then I always loved adverts as a kid :)
Mack Wilds : Keepin It Real
Until I heard Juan Epstein this month, I had no idea this guy had a music career! Tristan Paul Mack Wilds is better known to most for being the brilliant young actor who played Michael Lee in seasons 4 and 5 of "The Wire." I don't check for much modern R&B but gave this a listen and it gets a spin largely on the strength of Salaam Remi lifting the DJ Premier beat for Group Home's "The Realness" (ironically, needing to add some elements to soften it up a bit!). Wilds isn't exactly a romantic on this cut but does have a decent voice and carries it well! If you like this, have a listen to his album "New York : A Love Story" - some good stuff on there, a lot of 90s Hip-Hop borrowing so definitely something to get the heads nodding.
Rakim : NY To Cali
Correction to voiceover - this track was actually produced by Dominic Owen, not Clark Kent as is generally credited. Apologies!
I remember wigging out over this when I first heard it on Radio 1 in 1995 - it was the first thing that had been heard from Rakim for quite a while at that point, though it never got an album release as it turned out. I was disappointed when it was absent from "The 18th Letter," but I picked this up on a couple of "unofficial" releases - a 12" and then a collection of rare/unreleased Rakim stuff - years after the event. A real underplayed gem.
Superior Thought : Me & You
This London-based producer and MC is an underappreciated talent, the kind who sounds like he just works on his craft and ignores the BS. This super-chopped, kind of glitchy beat is from his instrumental album "The S'strumentals - Skyisthelimit LP" and is just the right kind of head-nodding calm to lead us to the finale for the month...
Nostalgia 77 ft. Alice Russell : Seven Man Army
Heard this at a birthday party last year and knew immediately that a) I had to own it, and b) that it was going to make the podcast one day! Completely different feel to the original by The White Stripes - and somehow even more stripped-down. An all-British affair on this version excursion, with Suffolk native Alice Russell letting the soul out on the vocals, and Nostalgia 77 on the production leading everything off with a heavy kick drum and building from there. This is the first thing I've heard from him but will be looking out for more!
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!