Posted 3 weeks ago
Posted 3 weeks ago

Episode 64 : Fresh From Above


Fresh From Above.

"Rich for a poor man, poor for a rich man…"

- Essa

What a month - started a new day job, had a couple of photo assignments, plus needed to plan a mix including some Biggie (20 years since “Ready To Die” was released), 2Pac (18 years since he passed), and a few other tracks I’ve had on standby for a while. So far, all is good - let’s get into the notes for the month…


Playlist/Notes

Essa : The Middle Man (Tall Black Guy Remix)

A bit of a poetic start to the proceedings; great new UK track to kick things off, with the production getting a top-line upgrade with Tall Black Guy on the boards! I didn’t know until researching the episode that Essa went to school at Eton, but it makes sense since he’s also a practicing lawyer - it all shows in his lyrics. This particular version is a limited edition 7” release you can buy through Bandcamp, but for more of his quality rhymes grab the “The Misadventures Of A Middle Man" album - bargain price for it right now.

[Buckwild] Mendoughza : Club Banga (Instrumental)

One of those random tunes I dug out trying to find an instrumental, only to find it’s pretty notable in its own way! Mendoughza was down with the late great Guru of Gang Starr, and featured on a few things but this looks like it may have been his only 12” release. If you’re only going to have the one, then having D.I.T.C’s Buckwild produce it is a pretty huge result!

Main Ingredient : Summer Breeze

We’re just leaving summer, so here’s the last flush of the season. Soul cover version (and an upgrade, I feel) of the Seals and Crofts track, but you only get one verse before…

The Notorious B.I.G : Things Done Changed

"Whatever happened to the summertime cookouts?" Gone. Gone like the preceding track, which provided the bulk of the samples for this incredible Darnell Scott beat. Whatever happened to him? I actually did a web search looking for more credits and it seems he only did this one perfect track. The first full song on Biggie’s “Ready To Die" was instantly arresting, and it stopped me dead the first time I heard it roughly twenty years ago. Biggie’s lyrics on how life got so much harsher for so many people as he grew up set the tone perfectly for a beautifully dark album - or was it darkly beautiful?

Cocaine 80s : To Tell You The Truth

No I.D.’s collective are a little on the mysterious side but do turn out some serious free releases. I got this one from the “The Pursuit EP,” and it’s got a nice bit of edge to it. James Fauntleroy is a killer on the lead vocals for the group, and they really, really need to get a full album out there!

2Pac : Temptations

It’s been eighteen years? Feeling old again. Taken from the “Me Against The World" album, 2Pac gives his take on temptation (of course), commitment, and loneliness in his own style; nothing tongue-twisting, just very simply worded. The Easy Mo Bee beat is insane, blending Zapp’s "Computer Love" (for the bassline), Redman’s "Watch Yo Nuggets,” and more besides. From the twilight of the period of 2Pac’s career that interested me, before the Death Row era, this was a fantastic single. Funny video too :)

Nitty Gritty ft. Wise Intelligent : Good Morning Teacher (Crush Sounds Poppa Fred Mix)

Quality dedication to the late reggae artist Nitty Gritty (for whose killing Super Cat was once charged) and other fallen dancehall stars by Wise Intelligent of Trenton, New Jersey’s Poor Righteous Teachers. Nitty Gritty recorded the original for King Jammys sound in Jamaica, but Wise Intelligent takes the vocals for the hook and adds his own lyrics for the bulk of the tune. Ill Will Fulton does the business on the remix production, working around the famous "Stalag" riddim.

Hieroglyphics : Love Flowin’ (A-Plus Remix Instrumental)

Another under-appreciated beat unearthed from the vinyl vaults! A-Plus of Souls Of Mischief on the boards for this one.

Boot Camp Clik ft. Aaliyah : Night Riders (Original Remix)

Brooklyn! A nice 90s piece recently put out for free by the official BCC Soundcloud page. The first version was on the 1997 “For The People" LP, and there’s a more modern remix done by 9th Wonder, but apparently this was the original remix version. It keeps the Buckshot and Boogie Brown instrumental, but exchanges LaVoice for the late Aaliyah to give little extra to the hook. Works. Oh yeah, look out for Omar from “The Wire” in the original video ;)

Lowkey ft. Shadia Mansour : Too Much

More UK flavour, this time with an MC who is unafraid to take on political topics - whether it’s militarism, Palestine, media, or whatever - and puts himself in the vein of the Immortal Techniques of this world. Absolutely love his breakdown of what money can and can’t get you, and the laid-back Nutty P production and Shadia Mansour on the hook give it a smoothness that helps the medicine go down. Taken from the “Soundtrack To The Struggle" album, this wasn’t a single but I think definitely could have been.

Sean Price ft. Phonte : Let It Be Known

Two of my favourite MCs combine here, each with their own style but pure talent regardless. On this selection from Sean’s second album “Jesus Price Supastar,” check how the rhyme schemes on the two verses are actually the same, with just the actual words changing - very cleverly done. On the beat, 9th Wonder comes in - people often complain about his drums, but you have to appreciate what he brings here with that drum pattern - unusual, and very dope.

The Regiment ft. Guilty Simpson : Beef

Beef is guns and butter, no peace line / Sauteed, fried, with hate on the side…" I’ve had this one on deck for months, never quite being able to fit it in - finally got there this episode! Detroit’s OSI and Ise Qold go in hard on the mic alongside hometown guest Guilty Simpson over a grimy Nick Speed beat. I got this free from Bandcamp, but it’s also on their debut “Live From The Coney Island" album, which is well worth checking.

Om Unit : Folding Shadows

The man also known as 2Tall for his turntablist exploits is also a very accomplished producer, and he showcases a deft touch on this dark, dark track from his “Threads" album.

3rd Bass ft. Chubb Rock : Kick ‘Em In The Grill

Just so we’re clear, we’re totally coming back to this album in the future! “Derelicts Of Dialect,” the group’s second album is an extremely underrated 90s release which I think everyone should have. The Brooklyn/Queens trio only had a two-album run before an acrimonious split, but both were quality. Right here you have (now label exec and reality TV host) MC Serch and (current baseball memorabilia dealer) Pete Nice ripping the mic on an SD50-produced track, with Daddy Rich jumping in with the cuts and Chubb Rock with a dope guest verse. 

Camp Lo : Cold Retarded

New flavour from one of my personal favourites, a preview for their forthcoming album which will be solely produced by Ski - the man responsible for the beats on “Uptown Saturday Night.” As usual, an absolute slang torrent on this short and sweet track, and on the instrumental side, pay close attention to the ridiculously dextrous bass work; all kinds of runs and slides going on!

OutKast ft. Raekwon : Skew It On The Bar-B

I think I underrated this one when it came out, but that was partly because I just preferred ”ATLiens" to "Aquemini,” the album this was on. My bad! Raekwon, responsible for one of my top two albums of all time ("…Cuban Linx…”) absolutely melts down his guest appearance - pay attention to how he keeps the same rhyme going through the entire verse. Insane. Organized Noise have the drums snapping, and OutKast themselves are quality on the mic as always, but that Rae verse though…

Ty ft. Bémbé Ségué : Groovement (Parts 1 & 2)

I kept meaning to ask Agent J if his website/podcast is named after this tune, then in the middle of a Google search found out it was! Ty has been one of the great talents of the UK scene for a long time and this is one of my favourite tracks from him, proper funk workout with just a hint of Latin flavour. I got this on the 12” with “Ha Ha" on the flip but it’s also on the "Upwards" album. Great track to have in your collection either way.

Professor Griff : Bro Kemit Splitting Atom’s In The Corporate War Zone [sic]

Sorry for the needle skip - tried to clean it out but to no avail!

This song is at least in part being included because of that incredible title, which I remember using once in a high school game of “Hangman” (seriously). Before a field trip to a place called Cober Hill, I had a few quid in my pocket to buy just one new record to tape and take with me; the choice came down to Public Enemy’s “Yo! Bum Rush The Show" and Professor Griff’s second album "Kao’s II Wiz *7* Dome,” and Griff won it. Turned out to be a good thing since the PE album has remained available, whereas I’ve not seen a copy of this outside my own library in years. This track closes the album and is very much of its era - a long posse cut, pro-Black lyrics, and the most incredible amount of shout-outs ever. Even dedicated “shout out” tracks on other albums don’t have as many as this one. The beat comes from The Soul Society, of which Griff is a member, and bears the Miami influence of the Skyywalker Records label that this was released under - listen out for the sub-bass drops!


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 1 month ago

Episode 63 : Breezin’ & Ballin’


Bajan Ballin'

"They plant drugs on us, stamp ‘thugs’ on us…"

- Guilty Simpson

Back from a great two-week trip to Barbados, I’m working some West Indian vibes into the selection this month! Got some nice long blends going too, and a bit of a subwoofer test :)

Only one link up in this section this month - leave me a drop from the comfort of your own computer!


Playlist/Notes

Dawn Penn : You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)

Starting it off with a classic! Dawn Penn recorded a track called “You Don’t Love Me" back in 1967, before taking a break from the music industry in 1970. She came back to the scene in the late 80s, and in the early 90s reprised the ‘67 track with more of a contemporary dancehall feel - still the same soul though! Lisyen back to that original, then come back and enjoy this one - it just goes to show that when it comes down to it, songwriting and vocal talent are portable and enduring, fads and trickery are not. Salute!

Jae Millz : No, No, No

Big up Andy Peek for playing this 12” at In The Loop one month! Scram Jones (credited as Marc Schemer) takes the intro of the Dawn Penn track and bases his own beat on it, and then Jae Millz rhymes around the “no, no, no” interjections - not a unique idea, but a well-executed one. I don’t know if Millz has any Jamaican background but the video is shot there and he’s rhyming in front of the flag for parts of it! Despite having been around on the fringes for years, he’s just now getting ready to put out a debut album - with the Young Money crew though, so possibly not as much my speed sonically as this track is. This is a nice record, though one where the beat definitely outshines the mic work!

Tnght (Hudson Mohawke x Lunice) : Higher Ground

Big Scottish/Canadian combination, I would never have come across this record if I hadn’t heard DJ A-Up and Agent J drop it in a club to serious effect! Very electronic, nothing acoustic sounding in the whole track, booming kick and handclaps taking the place where many hi-hat patterns would normally sit - while the hats here go independent :) Great track from the "Tnght" EP, which is only about £3 as a digital download if this is to your taste!

Assassin :Anywhere We Go

Anthemic dancehall track from St.Andrews Parish (JA) native Assassin, expounding on how much the women love him! Big tune on the “85” riddim by Dave Kelly, also heard on Baby Cham’s “Ghetto Story,” which is definitely better known around these parts. There are 7”s of this one around for very reasonable prices, so this is one for the dancehall DJs to grab.

Run The Jewels : Get It

Good test for your bass setup right here. El-P and Killer Mike combine here for some unadulterated hardcore from their eponymous free mini-album. All kinds of low-end kicks, and listen out for that repeating/echoing snare drum - it wouldn’t be half the track with a normal one there.

Paul Wall ft. Big Pokey : Sittin’ Sidewayz

Love this record. The Salih Williams beat is an absolute monster; as I said many episodes ago, built around that little guitar sample, but that bass is what most people will remember! Houston’s Paul Wall had this as the first single from his solo debut “The People’s Champ" after he parted ways with Chamillionaire. One thing that did stay the same (in a good way) was his lyrical content - no nations being uplifted, just stunting like Lee Majors in “The Fall Guy!

Shinehead : Billie Jean

First became aware of this one when the sound system Mighty Crown dropped a special of it during a soundclash I was listening to. That snare is so intrusive and crunchy on the high end, it snatches your attention almost as much as the Wild West whistling running through the intro! An unexpected, unusual, but excellent cover version of the legendary Michael Jackson track from the UK-born, Bronx raised Shinehead.

Byron Lee and The Dragonaires : Mission Impossible

A treat for the steel pan fans! Tenor pan getting busy here on those rolls with a Caribbean take on the well-known Lalo Schifrin spy theme. The Dragonaires have been going since 1950 with Byron Lee passing in 2008, and always had a rep for being able to play any style of music; with that in mind, it makes sense that they could take this track and make it extra-hot! You can get this on the 1997 “Socarobics" album, along with a lot of other flavour :)

Guilty Simpson : Pigs

The first of two critiques (to say the least) of the police, and as it happens they’re both out of Detroit. Here we have Guilty Simpson with a short but crushing track from his 2008 debut “Ode To The Ghetto" album, going in on the police for their well-documented racial profiling and the kind of laziness on the job that leads to real criminals snitching and walking while others take the fall. The somehow busy and bare beat comes courtesy of Madlib, on fine form.

Jay Dee : Fuck The Police

This will be much better known to most heads than the Guilty Simpson track - in fact, some people will know this even better than NWA’s certified classic “Fuck Tha Police" from 1989! Dilla wrote this at the suggestion of his mother, who put the idea forward after seeing him suffer from constant police harrassment. You can find this as a 12” with the incredible “Move" on the B-side, and it’s a must-own. 

Boogie Down Productions : Gimme Dat (Woy)

Wanted to go with “Who Protects Us From You?" but as it wasn’t close to a speed match, I went for a different track from the same album ("Ghetto Music : The Blueprint Of Hip-Hop”) that was a better fit in terms of tempo and composition. Don’t be fooled by the relative smoothness of the beat, the drums knock and KRS is on battle mode on this one.

Blak Twang ft. K9 :Where Lions Roam

I’m a big Black Twang fan but wasn’t totally sold on “The Rotton Club" - this was one of the body-moving standouts though. Tony Rotton self-produced this one and it bounces along nicely in a stripped-back kind of way!

Ali Vegas : Gangsta Boogie (Instrumental)

One of those tracks where I’m really unlikely to play the vocal (it’s not actually that good), but the beat has the little charm of sampling a recognisable 80s song…which I won’t reveal here since I think it might be uncleared! I think this is a 12”-only release, but the A-side isn’t really hitting so only pick it up if you need this track.

Teff Mayweather : Starz

I was looking for some contemporary Bajan hip-hop to play, and so far as I can see this is one of the guys making the most noise right now. It’s a little commercial sounding, and fits in with the mainstream American vibe - I was a little surprised, but I’m not sure why. As such, the lyrics aren’t especially complex but if you’re anything like me, you can hear that there’s something he’s holding back! If you like this, there’s more on his “Dream World" album.

Chuck Nubian & Konny Kon : The Skullsnap

Next up is UK Bajan Konny Kon, alongside Chuck Nubian, exchanging ill flows and lyrics over a beat by Finimo from the “The First Connect” EP - on Skullsnap Records as it happens! For those that don’t get the reference, an old-school funk group called Skull Snaps recorded a track called “It’s A New Day" with some legendary drums which have been sampled many times, and the record itself is a collectible. Anyway, this is a fine bit of UK Hip-Hop, and the EP is worth putting on your wantlist!

Grandmaster Flash : Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel

You may not know this but Flash is a 100% Bajan, born in Bridgetown, and so the country can feel proud of their contribution to Hip-Hop’s foundation :) This is an extremely important record which I’d been meaning to play for those who aren’t deep in the scene and might not know it; it’s really the first record to display the particular skills of Hip-Hop DJing, and was mind-blowing at the time. Flash insisted on recording this live, using three turntables, with no editing, multitracking, or other studio technology - real rawness. This is one of the most revolutionary records of all time.

Ohio Players : Boardwalkin’

I was looking for something funky to go alongside the “Good Times" sample the Flash track was based on, and found this tune in my collection that I’d never heard before. Nice little cut from the 1981 "Tenderness" album, one of two they released in the same year! 

Gorg : Meh Rum

This was probably the big tune of Crop Over in Barbados this year, the kind of soca tune with a hook that really lives up to the name - sticks in your head and can’t be removed!  Whoever Gorg’s woman was, she was cold for taking those Jordans*. That’s unforgivable.

*apparently the woman is real, but the Jordans stayed. Also, he stretched it to get that rhyme to work.


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 2 months ago

Episode 62 : Summer Is The Coldest Time


Untitled

"I’m scared of Mother Earth…"

"…and I’m scared to communicate over the phone."

 - KMG

Back once again! It’s been two years since KMG of Above The Law passed away, so I’ve got a couple of great ATL tracks in this month’s choices. Overall, we have a few recent releases and some gems that I think really have been overlooked. Maybe next month will be the one for the sunshiney summer selection, but for right now…


Playlist/Notes

Ka : Summer

I’ve been waiting for summer to come so I can play this! Dark track from the Brownsville MC and producer, one of my favourites from the short (but not sweet) “Grief Pedigree" album (find a video of the whole thing here). Don’t be lulled by the hook - he packs some serious rhyming skills into the two verses, and backs it up with a subtle, almost drumless production. It’s the opposite of the average Hip-Hop summer anthem, and with good reason; he has pointed out himself that the summer is actually when more bad stuff happens, since everyone is outside and there’s more chance of confrontations. DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince this is not.

Bob James : Far From Turtle

Knowing that there’s little Hip-Hop at the speed of “Summer” which would mix with it, I went to my soul/jazz/other shelves and heard this particular track for the very first time - I knew it had to work. It’s sped up a reasonable amount but hopefully not enough to take away from the feeling. Bob James has been sampled over and over again, but this is from a 1990 album (“Grand Piano Canyon”) which probably hasn’t been used much. After doing a little internet reading to look for interesting facts about this record, I found that apparently this is Guilty Simpson’s favourite song of all time!

Redman : Basically

Back with the dark sound, and maybe te lyrics to a certain extent. I do wish it was a little longer, but maybe the brevity makes it more concentrated. You’ll find this self-produced killer around the middle of Redman’s sophomore album “Dare Iz A Darkside,” one widely respected by those in the know - although as it happens, Redman himself doesn’t like it for personal reasons.

Njena Reddd Foxxx : Watercolor

Coming out of Brooklyn, Njena is an MC with an interesting history - accepted into Cooper Union, after completion she decided to forsake the traditional fine art world in favour of picking up the mic! Hopefully it all works out, but based on this she certainly has the skills. She sinks deep into this laid-back track and gets what she wants to say said in under two minutes, just as GZA would advise :) I got this free from her Soundcloud account - keep an eye on it! 

GQ ft. Nipsey Hussle and Rapper Big Pooh : Count ‘Em Up

In another example of life changing directions, Oakland’s Quentin Thomas had a great run on the ball court, all the way up to a national championship with the University of North Carolina, before switching careers. He had to battle the negative stigma of “ballers who think they can rap" before winning over 9th Wonder, who took him under his wing and onto the Jamla Records label. I’d not heard of him until his name and the title of his latest album "Rated Oakland" kept bubbling up on my Twitter feed, so I went and had a listen and was very impressed! I could have played any of a number of tracks, but this ended up winning out - produced by 9th himself, and featuring Little Brother’s Big Pooh and South Central LA spitter Nipsey Hussle. I can relate to the end of that last verse…

Tanya Morgan ft. Napoleon : Plan B

Was struggling to work out how to end this little mix but ended up finding this one on my CD of the “Brooklynati" album, and it fit pretty well (could have done with a longer intro though). This is a great story of the everyman rhymer, rather than the superstar talk you often hear, talking about the scraping and sacrifices that are often made to pursue a music career. The production by Brick Beats is nice, but the lyrics are the clear star here.

deadxbeat : lifes.a.snitch

Found this one on a scouting run through Bandcamp, as just one of thirty-eight beats on the “Pure Dopeness Vol.11" beat tape from worldwide producer collective Sinoptic International. This particular beat is out of New Jersey, and is chilled out and low-slung enough to match the previous track and the next…

Slum Village : Forth & Back (Original)

Bit of a summery vibe here before we take the temperature down for the next few. This is the original “Forth & Back” from the “Fan-Tas-Tic, Vol.1" album - an album which itself has many, many supposed versions. I actually prefer this to the more well-known version on “Fantastic, Vol.2,” but then it’s pretty impossible not to like! Signature Dilla production of the time, with the laid-back vibe and the handclaps.

Above The Law : Marvin

I only wish the mixing/mastering was a little better, but easily one of the best tracks on the “Forever : Rich Thugs" album. The late KMG definitely has the best verse, writing with a little paranoia and a sense of trepidation of the modern world; makes me wonder what he’d make of today’s current events. Cold 187um puts a more hyped verse in but really makes his presence felt in the production, a late-night creeper of a beat accented by the voice of Marvin Gaye through the hooks. Quality…just deserves better sound!

J-Live : Vampire Hunter J

Had this one stashed for a while, and this month I find a chance to use it in a winning combination with two other great tracks. J-Live deftly rhymes from an 5% perspective, taking on the evildoers of the world - the 10%, according to their lessons, and slips all kinds of NGE references into the lyrics. The beat is dark, subtle, and minimal without being minimalist, great work by Grap Luva. This is just one of the quality tracks on “The Best Part" (another 5% reference there!)

DJ Skitz : Fingerprints Of The Gods

A true UK classic. I actually dropped Skeleton’s verse from the end (sorry), but that should be an incentive for you to check the whole thing! With so many great MCs  and the beat changing for each one, this could easily have been a set of different songs but instead this was one monster track. Originally released as a single in 1998, it’s also available on the “Countryman" LP which is an essential if you can find it - a masterful collection. Back to the sonics, as much of a Phi Life Cypher fan as I am, I think Roots Manuva takes it here. “I used to want the Queen’s heads, now I want the crown?” Serious! He does also benefit from having the best beat on the track; the section in the intro with the high piano part and Vegas cutting over it still sends chills up me even now. 

Da Beatminerz : Let’s Talk About It (T.R.O.Y Remix Instrumental)

Just a little instrumental from the brilliant “Brace 4 Impak" album which feels fresh but actually came out all the way back in 2001 :) Even though the full version this was far from my favourite cut on there, it’ll still bury a lot of records out right now!

Above The Law : Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust

I don’t know if this is now a full-on rarity, but it’s definitely not well known. From the 12”/EP of “Kalifornia,” we have some back-and-forth rhymes from the highly underrated mic duo of KMG and Cold 187um over one of Hutch’s gangsta funk beats. The talkbox hook is kind of crazy, though I can’t say I can make out most of the words… The “Kalifornia” 12” is definitely worth having if this is at all your style - somehow, the title track is actually the third best thing on there out of three!

Cormega ft. Raekwon : Honorable

Brand new track from the “Mega Philosophy" album, just released this Monday. The whole album is produced by Large Professor, which alone should be reason enough to check it out, but of course it’s Cormega’s album and he’s settling more and more into the veteran role, which definitely suits him. I think this might be the most instantly-accessible track though, with Rae on the criminology rhymes on the first verse and Mega bringing it home. Definitely peep the album.

Amerie : Talkin’ About

Those drums are just killing it. The percussion line is super-busy in the go-go style, and for that you can thank Rich Harrison - it should slightly remind you of the drum work on “1 Thing,” which is also on the “Touch" album. Amerie (now Ameriie) is a seriously underrated artist, and if you’ve passed by her records before I’d really recommend going back and giving them a try. Here, she unleashes her surprisingly powerful voice to be heard over the hectic track, and knocks it out in fine style.

Mya : Fallen

Maybe a bit gentle for some, but you’ve got to appreciate it for its integration of the Dilla beat for Pharcyde’s “Runnin’.” It does add all kinds of strings and lighter touches but at its heart, the drum pattern and the loop of the Stan Getz/Luiz Bonfa sample keep the blood pumping. I can’t remember what made me pick up Mya’s “Moodring" LP years back, but I do think it’s a quality record - the rare modern(ish) R&B album that finds a home in my collection. One aside; your ears aren’t tricking you, this track does actually get louder as it goes along! I actually re-recorded the mix once as I thought I’d been turning up the wrong tune…

Visioneers ft. Luke Parkhouse : Mystic Brew

Picked this one up on Record Store Day this year and both sides were quality! Visioneers is a studio project, a pseudonym of Marc Mac from 4Hero and you can always rely on him for something interesting. This of course is a cover version of the famous Ronnie Foster track that’s best known for being sampled on Tribe’s “Electric Relaxation,” but with almost a Latin flavour on the rhythm. The flip of this 7” has a cover of “Smilin’ Billy Suite" by the Heath Brothers, which you’ll recognise from Nas’ "One Love.” Actually, I’ve just realised while typing that both of the sampling records I mentioned were produced by Q-Tip!

Jean Grae : Planes (The Trilogy)

Made me smile and nod in agreement! If you’ve ever travelled on a plane, at least one of these short songs should make you do the same, or even make you adjust your behaviour ;) The final pick this month is from Jean’s recent release “That’s Not How You Do That : An Instructional Album For Adults,” a set of short songs offering advice on how to get along in the world! Listen, laugh, and fix up!


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 3 months ago

Episode 61 : Radio, v2.0


...Killed The Radio Star?

"God walks the earth as MCs…"

- H.U.G.

The fifth birthday episode! For someone who once took over two years to finish a mixtape, you might just have an idea of what a big achievement that actually is :) There’s a lot going on right now and I really had to dig deep to put together this month’s mix, but I think you’ll be pleased with it. It’s also been five years since Michael Jackson passed, and I’ve included a couple of pieces you probably don’t have.

Quick shout out to Scott at Good Podcasts, who gave me a great write-up and was even inspired to jump on the mic ;)

RIP to the great Bobby Womack; I wasn’t able to include any of his music this time round, but his legacy is carved into what we do.


Playlist/Notes

Hood Headlinaz (Mata, Mali Boi, Jhi Ali, & Money Addict) : Soul Glo

Been holding off on this one for ages! There’s not even much that blends with it, but you don’t want to put anything in front of it anyway to take away from that mighty intro :) I can’t even remember how I stumbled on this one, but it was a digital release and it was initially free - would definitely have paid though! This track comes from Alabama’s Paper Route Gangstaz (PRGz) crew, and it just is what it is. Building a whole track off the hair product advert from Eddie Murphy’s “Coming To America" was genius, and while it may not be calling for the upliftment of the nation I will note that they do in fact use the word "plethora" in context in true “Sophisticated As Hell" style ;) 

Jan Hammer : Rico’s Blues

Now that’s the 80s right there :) While Jan Hammer’s “Crockett’s Theme" was easily one of the best-known instrumentals of the decade, this was also a great track from the "Miami Vice,” the theme tune for Rico Tubbs. Kind of makes you want to be on a yacht to really feel it though…

Krimewave : Increase The Pressure

I was passed this instrumental by a friend and asked to see what I could do with it on the cuts, so here we go! I went trying to scratch up some info on Krimewave and found that he’s a Manchester producer, and clearly someone with talent as this is a nicely refined beat. I almost feel bad for butting in! You can find this and plenty more on Bandcamp.

Ultramagnetic MCs : Delta Force II

Been banging this one since 93! Great Ced Gee solo cut from Ultra’s “The Four Horsemen" album, which in my opinion is leagues ahead of "Ced Gee (Delta Force One)" from the classic and highly significant ”Critical Beatdown" album. Straight MC business on here, and my guess would be that Ced Gee did a lot of the beat himself. While the production is credited to the group, but Ced is an oft-overlooked figure in the history of Hip-Hop production who actually did the bulk of the work on BDP’s "Criminal Minded" LP and is justly respected as someone who got busy on the SP-1200. No pop flavour here!

Public Enemy : How To Kill A Radio Consultant

With recent events, this seemed like a very appropriate choice! Pretty deep album cut from “Apocalypse 91 : The Enemy Strikes Black" with Chuck D going in on the BS of the modern radio model and the lack of connection commercial stations have with the communities they supposedly serve. This tune might be over twenty years old but it’s even more true today than it ever was. On the music side, it’s Bomb Squad production as always - listen out for the Run DMC "Beats To The Rhyme" sample, which is then swiftly buried under a whole heap of other stuff going on in the track. I was kind of lukewarm on the production at the time but have grown to appreciate it with more mature ears!

Raekwon : House Of Flying Daggers

Fast-forward eighteen years and head across the water from Long Island to Staten Island for this big opening track from “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…Pt.2!” Raekwon put together a great album but unlike the first one, he went for a range of different producers; on this track, he got the legend J Dilla to give him a dramatic, pounding, relentless banger that just doesn’t let up…ever. Inspektah Deck slays the opening verse once again (remember “Triumph?”), but every single MC on here is on top form. I just wish I could totally hear and parse those first two bars on Rae’s verse - sounds ill as hell, but I don’t think I could tell you exactly what he said :)

One last detail - that kung-fu dialog sample at the end is from the well-known but still incredible ”Drunken Master.” If you’ve not seen it, do so…

J-Zone & H.U.G : I’m Fuckin’ Up The Money

This was the song that got me into J-Zone, and he wasn’t even on the mic! The rolling, dramatic instrumental is the perfect landscape for Huggy Bear to absolutely go off on the mic, dropping quotable after quotable on the dark state of the world. That BDP/UN line? “Peacekeeping with a gun is fraudulent?” “Prisons got signs up reading ‘no vacancy,’ but those locked up are still earning for the industry?” Come on now. Huggy (aka H.U.G) has spit some quality rhymes in his time but for me, this is the pinnacle. The “Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes" album as a whole is on a slightly different vibe, but very much a great purchase.

Eightball & MJG : Break ‘em Off (Instrumental)

I could never decide if I wanted to play the vocal of this - it’s been up for selection a few times in the past - but right here the instrumental just kind of fit. Memphis’ Eightball & MJG produced this themselves and probably came up with one of the few tracks not to be improved by a Beatminerz remix!

SPOX PhD (DJ Spinna & Oxygen) : Chicken Scratch

Brand new 7” release with both sides being amazing, all I can say is “get it!” The man DJ Spinna gets on the turntables cutting up an ill break with a crazy chicken sound in it, and Oxygen of SoundSci gets on the echoey mic - the combination is straight park jam style. Oxygen actually came to my “Manchester Marauders” exhibition last year before playing a show in the city, and he’s a properly good guy - nice to see him link with another well-regarded man in the scene. 

NWA : Quiet On Tha Set

Deeeep album cut (the closer on the vinyl, not quite on the cassette) from the legendary “Straight Outta Compton” LP, and one of two MC Ren solo tracks on there. It’s also notable for actually being completely clean on an album that is famously…not. Leaning away from the “gangsta” vibes on the rest of the record, he’s just in Hip-Hop party MC mode, but nothing corny - never would be with him really! Dr Dre is on the beat as always, several years before the G-Funk sound many people associate with him; instead you just get hard drums and some James Brown samples lying back there in the mix. As much as this is a 1988 record, it really doesn’t sound quite that old.

Michael Jackson : I Can’t Help It (Todd Terje Remix)

Here we have a modern remix of a track from MJ’s big breakout solo album, 1979’s “Off The Wall,” as constructed by the Norwegian producer Todd Terje - I have to admit, I thought it might have been an alias of Todd Terry, but in fact his name was chosen as a tribute! The original was masterful and not really to be bettered, but the remix just brings in a lot more percussion and is also much longer; I’ve cut it short here but it carries on for several more minutes. This came from a promo vinyl of MJ remixes, so probably not the easiest to find - and also part of the reason for the questionable sound quality, it’s not your headphones…

De La Soul : Breakadawn

I did think “is it too obvious?” and then remembered that not everyone listening will actually know these records. This was the first single from “Buhloone Mindstate" and from the first time I saw the video on "Yo! MTV Raps," I knew it was a winner. There’s a lot going on in the production, from the main sample from the original of Michael Jackson’s "I Can’t Help It,” to the Smokey Robinson snatch for the hook, and other bits besides - have a listen out. The lyrics and delivery very much reflected their “grown man” style, so to speak - despite not even being old at the time of release, they wrote with the gravity of the industry veterans they were. Top quality record.

BR Gunna : Somethin Good

This was such a short instrumental I had to loop it up a few times to use it here! BR Gunna was a group made up of Detroit’s Black Milk, Young RJ, and Fat Ray, and this track came from an obscure release of the “Dirty District Vol.2” EP. Just something a little laid back to give you a quick break on the way into the home straight…

Michael Jackson : Starlight

Rareness! I know you don’t know about this one - ok, a few of you might - but I want to have just one small collar-popping moment :D The album we now know as “Thriller" was originally going to be called "Midnight Man" and this would have been one of the main singles. When the decision was made to flip the whole concept of the record and go darker, Rod Temperton came up with the title “Thriller” and this demo was reworked, remixed, and re-written to become the giant record we have today. Can you imagine a world that didn’t have “Thriller?” I can’t. Anyway, all things considered I’m sure you’ll overlook the sound quality on this one just for all the history points :) If you want a real rundown from someone who was at the very core of the work, check out this interview with the master engineer Bruce Swedien.

Alena : Changes (Ron Basejam Remix)

I think this was another internet radio find! I’m not even sure exactly what genre this fits under - house-ish, maybe? - but I think it’s a great record. Did a little research on it and apparently it blew up back in 2011 when it came out, deservedly so in my opinion! I can’t actually find any info on Alena, but wouldn’t mind hearing more of her - the nature of the track means we only get snatches really. And who is Ron Basejam, you ask? Well, we put it through the anagram machine and we get James Baron, one of the members of the electronic group Crazy P - great job by him on the bouncy production. I haven’t been able to find the original, but Yam Who have another remix which you might like!

The Coup : We Are The Ones

Street revolutionary direction on this one from the “Pick A Bigger Weapon" album. Boots Riley is one of the sharpest thinkers in Hip-Hop, and his approach on this is hilarious, with the faux-posh voice and associated vocabulary telling the story of someone you totally wouldn’t associate with the delivery. He self-produces it too and brings in players for the guitar, bass, and keys to give it a real live feel.

Big Daddy Kane : Nuff Respect

Getting hype with it, going to the soundtrack for the 1992 Ernest Dickerson film “Juice" - well worth having. There’s a lot of great tracks on there and I’m sure I’ll be returning to it on a future episode. For now, you get King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal spitting ridiculously over a hectic Gary G-Wiz and Hank Shocklee track. Very much of its era, and all the better for it.

Toni T : Disco Groove (Siesta House Mix)

I’d be lying if I said I knew who Toni T was really - I picked this track up on a Mastercuts Beach Bar compilation. It gets the nod here for fitting in smoothly between two other tracks I wanted to play, and also using a classic b-boy break as the main element! Nominally I suppose it’s house, but without that four-to-the-floor kick pattern, it really does come off as something else.

Ice-T : Lethal Weapon

Huge track from the “Iceberg" LP. Definitely playing this one for me, as it was a huge favourite for me when I first heard it back in high school - and even more once I saw the video! That image of all the hoods in the library really stuck with me - in fact, I suppose they kind of looked like me! Afrika Islam and Ice-T make the beat super hectic in a way that just doesn’t happen these days and Ice keeps right up with it lyrically. And how often now would you hear a big-selling artist explicitly telling you to take yourself to a library?


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 4 months ago

it8bit:

Best of Miami 2014

Series of illustrations for the Miami New Times’ annual “Best of 2014” issue. They wanted the cover, and each section opener, to imagine iconic video game characters experiencing the best that Miami has to offer.

Created by Jude Buffum || Shop

Posted 4 months ago

Episode 60 : Western Eyes


Shaded

"Why you wanna fuck up my last few days with the news?"

- Suga Free

I seem to have ended up with a reasonably high proportion of West Coast records on this month’s mix, at least nine tunes - didn’t plan it that way, it was just how it came out! Tough picks this month but I think there are some interesting ones you may not know - get in touch and let me know how you like it!

One link promised in the show - free tickets for the last In The Loop cypher session, and two others - Janelle Monáe controlling the crowd, and then the whole place exploding in the climactic pillow fight and crowd surf!


Playlist/Notes

Yo-Yo : Black Pearl

I have never heard this record anywhere outside my own house! First caught it on “Yo! MTV Raps” many moons ago and loved it, so was very glad to come across a 12”. One for the women from one who famously went head-to-head with Ice Cube on his track “It’s A Man’s World,” this is the title track from her second album, which I’ve not heard in full but will definitely pick up if I see a copy! The beat is provided by a crew I’ve not heard of - Down Low Productions, doing a nice job with something that could easily have fit in with some of the rougher, slower New Jack tracks of the time.

Dam-Funk : Mirrors

I actually hadn’t paid much attention to Dam-Funk until I saw him in the Stones Throw documentary “Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton,” and I found his story interesting enough to go back and check for his music. He worked for years trying to get his career going before being picked up by Stones Throw and this track comes from his debut release; the five-vinyl opus “Toeachizown.” It’s definitely his own take on soul and funk, in a space-traveller kind of way, produced by Leon Sylvers III, who was instrumental in many of SOLAR Records’ hits back in the 70s and 80s.

Suga Free : Sana Sana

Quite a polarity change from the opening track! Again, I may not co-sign Suga Free’s admitted day job, but my goodness he can rhyme. That opening verse packs plenty in, and I would have never taken him for someone who’d drop that kind of anti-war/draft lyric - followed succinctly in the hook with the adlib “draft these nuts” :D Second verse starts off with the classic quote that makes up this month’s epigram, before switching to another language altogether! I don’t really speak Spanish, but I understand enough to know that verse is nothing nice. At all. Co-T handles musical duties, with the kind of beat that I can’t really hear anyone else rhyming over - very tailored to the artist. Just one piece of heat from the excellent “Smell My Finger" album. 

(As an aside - his line of “I gotta be honest with you sargeant, you give me that gun, I’ll probably shoot you with it” reminds me somewhat of this quote from Malcolm X speaking in 1965; “This is what they thought of you and me in those days. For one thing, they didn’t trust us. They feared that if they put us in the army and trained us on how to use rifles and other things, that we might shoot at some targets that they hadn’t picked out. And we would have. Any thinking man knows what target to shoot at. And if a man doesn’t, if he has to have someone else to choose his target, then he’s not thinking for himself—they’re doing the thinking for him.”)

Tash ft. Raekwon : Rap Life

From the Alkaholiks, Tash released a pretty decent album in “Rap Life" which apparently just didn’t sell that well. Shame as there were some quality tracks on it - this isn’t even my favourite but fit well in the mix. Production comes from Young Lord, and an energised Raekwon helps out on the mic while they trade tales of splashing out music money on cars, jetskis, and plenty more…even if it’s true, a far cry from today’s industry! This is the clean version from a 12" album sampler - I actually greatly prefer it with the censoring. Oh, and if it’s not blindingly obvious, I put in that little pause and cut at the end of the first verse - thought it just added a bit of extra flavour :)

Murs & Fashawn : Peace Treaty

Staying West Coast again, we take a cut from the “My Generation" collaboration album, calling for and dreaming of a truce between Los Angeles’ gangs. Both headliners hold it down on the lyrics, as you’d expect, and they are given some quality production to ride by Beatnick and K-Salaam; special mention must be given to the cuts in the hook, sampling Watts native Kam’s 1993 "Peace Treaty,” which itself spoke on the topic of the real 1992 gang treaty. Great homage.

Janelle Monáe ft. Esperanza Spalding : Dorothy Dandridge Eyes

Janelle’s range is so incredibly wide that there’s no one song that could give you a picture of just what kind of artist she is, so I just chose a quality song from her latest album (“Electric Lady”)! This is apparently inspired by a particular scene (“the jeep scene?”) in the film “Carmen Jones,” but I’ve not seen it so can only speak on it as a stand-alone piece - top notch groove, could fit in with some of the 80s Quincy Jones productions, just a really nice track. The multi-talented jazz musician Esperanza Spalding comes in on the second verse and it’s a winning combination.

Lex (de Kalhex) : Revelation

I went scouting around on Bandcamp for something new here, and found a compilation by “The Find” magazine which was centred around jazz-style beatmaking, from which I took this track. Nothing crazy, but I thought the pianos and live-sounding drums would lead into the next track nicely!

Sean C & LV ft. Styles P, ASAP 12vvy, & Charlie RED : Tomorrow May Never Come

These guys are the kind of producers who can sneak right past you, but they’ve been doing big work for years for all kinds of artists - Jay-Z, Big Pun, and Clipse to name but three. Sean C was actually a co-founder of the legendary X-Men DJ crew which gives you an idea of the kind of pedigree he comes from. The duo released a free producer project “Loud Dreams" which linked them up with a wide roster of vocalists, and this is a track that stood out for me. 

DJ Babu ft. Little Brother, Joe Scudda, & Darien Brockington : Fan Mail

California production but a North Carolina roll call on the mic - two-thirds of Little Brother alongside Justus League compatriot Joe Scudda, and Darien Brockington on the hook. I got this on an unofficial 12” pressing, but this was on Volume 3 of Babu’s “Duck Season” projects. Just in case you didn’t know, before becoming the DJ for Dilated Peoples, Babu was one of the founders of the Beat Junkies DJ crew and also invented the word “turntablist” to describe one who plays the turntable as a musical instrument. In short, a man worthy of respect in this culture!

Joey Chavez ft. Iriscience & DJ Babu : Live

Back-to-back Babu! This time he’s strictly on the turntables, doing great work cutting up the phone call sample from the closing verse of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Keep It Rollin’" on the hook. Joey Chavez gives us some straightforward but low-key boom-bap, and Rakaa Iriscience comes with the kind of lyrical style you’ll know from Dilated Peoples. You can get this one on the 2001 "Original Structure" EP, which is still available digitally should you be so inclined.

Large Pro ft. Nas : Stay Chisel

Great little track that originally appeared on Large Professor’s “1st Class" LP. That version transitioned straight out of what you hear here into a second, rougher part with Akinyele on the mic; this came of a 12” which helpfully had them both edited into separate tracks. I’ve heard the original sample for this and it’s actually not been changed much at all - sometimes, the best thing to do is get out of the way and let the loop rock…

Washed Out : Feel It All Around

I got Netflix the other month and discovered an odd little comedy called Portlandia, and thought the intro music was interesting, so decided to search it out - this is it. Washed Out is a musician out of Georgia who put out his first releases in 2009 - about the same time the podcast started! He cites Hip-Hop as an influence without being part of the culture directly; hopefully he’d appreciate being included here.

Capone-N-Noreaga : Illegal Life

You can’t take anything away - 1997’s “The War Report" was an incredible debut and definitely one of the best records to be released that year. I think this was the first CNN track I heard, and it’s still right up there as one of my favourites! Tim Westwood played it on Radio 1 and me and my friends were bugging out about it the next day; that eastern-sounding sample coming off like it’s playing across a desolate desert sandscape, neck-snapping drum programming (by Havoc of Mobb Deep), and a bassline that has only a passing interest in melody - just grit. Tragedy Khadafi cooked up a mean piece on this one. When it comes to the rhymes, you were getting that raw street business and nothing but that - which was really what these guys were all about. Remember when it was reported at one early showing of the film "Juice" that someone was shot at a cinema? Well…adolescent Noreaga would have to put his hands up to that one…

Cesar Comanche ft. Kenn Starr & Rapper Big Pooh : The Future

Proper excavation from the archives, a nice Justus League B-side. All the MCs hold it down - in fact, I could stand to hear a little more Cesar Comanche about the place! Nothing crazy topic-wise, just showing out. DJ Resident shows a little Pete Rock influence on the beat, I’d say. This is a B-side to the also good “Miss You (Remix),” but is also on the 2005 “Squirrel And The Aces" album - not got it, but might look out for a copy.

Stacy Epps : Movement

I pretty much have to check for everything she puts out. Found this on Spotify but then bought it from Bandcamp, where you can find it on the “AURA" release (which actually looks incomplete on there). Short but sweet, she delivers the vocals low-key and rides along with that tasty production - unfortunately can’t find a credit for it, one of the problems with digital releases…

Lacks : Beautiful

Gorgeous bit of production here, very much befitting the track title. Detroit’s Lacks (now known as Ta’raach) crafts a great track; that bassline and then the harp (?) make it. Well, those and the countering string line that runs behind the bass. Drums are tight too. Ok, pretty much everything. If you see a copy of “Re:Lacks // Vol.1 With The World" (yeah, odd title), pick it up as it’s got some really good tracks on there.

[Madlib] Prince Po : Mecheti Lightspeed (Instrumental)

I’ve never been a huge Madlib fan; people who know me know that about me. Nevertheless, when he nails it I have to give him his credit and this right here is one of those times! Wicked B-side to “Holla” (which itself was on the podcast way back on episode 11), get this 12” if you see it!

Dr. Dre : Let Me Ride

One of the doctor’s best! The closing section of this song, for me, is just perfection, with the sung hook interplaying with the sample of Glenn Goins singing on Parliament’s “Swing Down, Sweet Chariot" - that’s the kind of beauty I’d like to have played for me when it’s all over and I finally return to the Earth. This solo track was the final single from "The Chronic" and rightfully won Dre a Grammy in 1994. I wonder if he knew how much his life would change in twenty years…


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 5 months ago

Episode 59 : ‘hillsmatic.


(12/52) Neighbourhood Watch

"…for listeners, blunt heads, fly ladies, and prisoners…"

- Nas

This April marks both four years since the passing of Guru and twenty (!) years since the release of Nas’ “Illmatic,” so I had to pay homage to both on this episode. We start the show off at blunted speed and work our way up to the dancefloor!

Couple of links I promised you;

The Soul Twins new podcast is here - give them some support!

Watch Deez’ selection for Groovement. Coming up!


Playlist/Notes

Black Josh : Purple Rain

Slightly left-field and admittedly drug-enhanced lust story, with a beat that just makes me want to rewind and drive slow! With Metrodome on production, 40% of Manchester’s Ape Cult, a young crew on the rise, get busy on this one from the “Blick Flair’s Ape Mountain" album.

The Mouse Outfit : Kickstart (Instrumental)

I was privileged enough to be treated to the instrumentals from the “Escape Music" album, and this track fits in nicely here. The album has been getting a lot of well-deserved respect, which has been really good to see. This particular track has an unusual sound for a group who are primarily known for their live instrument chops, but it shows that they can definitely get versatile with it!

Onyx & Wu-Tang Clan : The Worst 

Ok, sorry about the pun :) Did you ever see “Ride?” Nope, me neither. Those mid-90s film soundtracks were a clearinghouse for all kinds of studio offcuts, but you’d always be guaranteed at least one quality tune and this is the one on this occasion. Couldn’t afford the 12” when it first came out but managed to pick up the whole album last year for a few quid! On this hardcore meeting of the minds, you have Fredro, Sticky Fingaz, Sonsee, and X-1 on the Onyx side, and Raekwon, Method Man, and Killa Sin (from Killarmy) representing for the Wu. The verse structure obviously has to lean away from the three 16-bar model, and of particular note is how Sticky and Meth share the closing verse - rightly so. The production is handled by Latief; if you know the original sample, you’ll appreciate how just a small amount of rearrangement can do good things!

Planet Asia : Place Of Birth

One of the Cali Agents puts in the work on a lovely Evidence beat. Heard this one for the first time this month, but it fit beautifully into this spot! This is on the 2000 “Always Bigger And Better Vol.1” compilation on ABB records, but was a 12” release back at the time too. Planet Asia has definitely kept grinding away over a 16-year career, so if you like his rhyme style you’ll be able to find plenty more material out there. 

Gang Starr : Jazz Music

This was the first Gang Starr tune I ever heard, back in about 1989 - on a mixtape that was followed by NWA’s “Boyz N Tha Hood.” Memories! Anyway, this is a great little track from the debut “No More Mr Nice Guy" album - 25 years old this month - with Guru reminiscing on the history of jazz, and DJ Premier with an early production credit. Nice work with the Ramsey Lewis sample, and the little transformer cuts still get me even though I could pull them off myself these days!

Roni Size / Reprazent : Play The Game (Extended)

Looove this one. It was a pain to get hold of though - the original version on the UK album is much shorter. The last track on the “In The Mode" LP, it’s a complete change of pace from the rest, which is very high-tempo D&B. Onallee is strong on the vocals, and the instrumental behind her is classily done. Bristol can justifiably be proud of this crew.

No I.D : Jump On It (Instrumental)

Just a little Chicago here, a head nodder from the “Sky’s The Limit” 12” and the “Accept Your Own & Be Yourself" album. Nothing complicated!

Marlena Shaw : California Soul

A soul classic! Only a short piece though, to warm you up for the track to follow. I thought this was the first version of “California Soul” but it was in fact one of a series of covers, with the original being recorded by The Messengers in 1967.  This wasn’t even a single for Marlena Shaw, but what turned out to be a standout album track that ended up hitting for those in the know. Pretty much everyone knows it now, and rightly so.

Gang Starr : Check The Technique (Remix)

Here we go with a slight tweak on a well-known classic! I have this on a compilation of Gang Starr rarities but I think this has had a 12” release. It’s not wildly different to the original that was on the “Step In The Arena" album, but it’s got a liberal sprinkling of extra horns. Thought I’d throw this one in for the older heads just in case they hadn’t heard it.

Oh No ft. Wildchild : Stomp That, V.2

That bassline does the damage. The title is no affectation - there was at least one previous version of this track already. The MC and producer who was at the time of this release primarily referred to as “Madlib's brother” had to be given props for a very solid debut album, 2004's “The Disrupt,” and this was one of the top tracks. Using the bassline from the same break as X-Clan’s “Verbs Of Power,” Oxnard’s own give us some quality alongside Wildchild of Lootpack - Madlib’s old group!

Common Sense : Soul By The Pound

Never knew when this came out what kind of a career this guy would have, and I don’t think there was necessarily any indication here. Still, this was a well-regarded track when it came out as I recall. Didn’t realise this was the third single from “Can I Borrow A Dollar?" - it was certainly the first track I heard from him. Produced by Immenslope, who later changed his name to No I.D, it just pounds away on the low end leaving plenty of room for the MC to operate. As I’m sure you know, he eventually had to shorten his name to just "Common" because these guys forced it - probably a pain at the time, but overall I think the cropped version did ok :) 

J-Live : Not Listening

This impressed me on the very first airing when it came out online a few weeks ago!  It sounds like it comes out of sheer exasperation at a lot of the material out there right now, and the always-insightful J-Live even notes that there are plenty of other songs saying very similar things. That said, a lot of those tracks lack the honesty to say that a lot of records saying nothing…actually sound really good! You could level the same accusation at most genres, but he’s speaking on what’s closest to him. Atlanta’s Korede handles the beat, and this is a great preview for the “Around The Sun" album, which should have just been released as you read this.

[The Neptunes] MC Lyte : I Can’t Make A Mistake

From where I was standing, this 1998 single pretty much disappeared even though it was blatantly a big reach for radio - I bet most people won’t know it, and the rest will only vaguely remember it! I like this beat, it is very much the sound of The Neptunes as we first came to know them, and this could easily mix with a track like N.O.R.E’s “Superthug.” Brooklyn’s Lyte is more known for her late 80s/early 90s output like “Poor Georgie" and "Ruffneck,” but this is towards the tail end of her recording career. Even though this didn’t hit big, I can understand trying to work within the sound of the time!

Roger : So Ruff, So Ruff

Easily one of my all-time favourite records, and I used to be unbeatable at video games whenever this was playing! Regular listeners to the podcast will know of my love for Roger Troutman’s genius, and this is one of his finest tracks. From his first solo album, 1981’s “The Many Facets Of Roger,” this has been heavily sampled and is a true funk classic. The talkbox harmony at 41:07 is absolutely flawless, the highlight for me of an amazing track. 11 out of 10.

The Whispers : Keep On Lovin’ Me

Only got up on this one earlier this year, after Phonte guested on the “The Black Guy Who Tips" podcast and they were all laughing about the video :) I’d imagine the best known Whispers track is “And The Beat Goes On,” but they’ve been doing it since the 60s, with changing members over that time - sadly, often due to health reasons or deaths. They had a heavy run in the 80s on Dick Griffey’s Solar Records, which is the time period this track comes from, with Leon and Ricky Sylvers killing it on the production.

Zo! ft. Eric Roberson & Phonte : We Are On The Move (Original/Black Coffee Remix)

The reason the Whispers video came up in the first place was that they did their own take on it when it came time to do a video for this song! Zo! is a multi-instrumentalist and producer from Detroit who has quietly racked up ten solo albums dating back to 2001, three EPs, and a handful of collaborative projects. From his latest release, “Manmade" comes this uncomplicated and beautiful track, with Eric Roberson doing a bang-up job on the lead vocal, ably assisted by Phonte (formerly of Little Brother). I also thought I’d do a little blending in of the Black Coffee remix (I think done by the South African DJ?), which takes it into a house style and makes its own additions. Appreciate.

The Jones Girls : Nights Over Egypt

The preceding track reminded me very much of this for some reason! An old classic, but only introduced to me at Zumbar in Manchester in the early 2000s. A phenomenal soul track that only peaked at #23 in the US R&B charts back in 1982, this should have been a big hit. Another Detroit act, the Jones Girls were backup singers for many years - working with Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin to name but two - before striking out on their own. This track was on their third album, “Get As Much Love As You Can" and written by the combination of Cynthia Biggs and the brilliant keyboardist Dexter Wansel. Beautiful late-night cool.

[DJ Spinna] Akil : Hey Luv (Instrumental)

It’s that patented DJ Spinna bass on this B-side from Beyond Real. Not to be confused with the MC of the same name from Jurassic 5, Akil only had a couple of solo 12”s out, as well as a track with a group known as the BX Crew. The little organ sound in the background is a nice little link to the final tune of the episode…

Nas : Memory Lane

So many great tracks on “Illmatic,” which was released twenty years ago this month, but this might just be my favourite. Despite only being 19 at the time, Nas reminisces on life and Hip-Hop from his own perspective - he says in an interview for Spotify Landmark that he felt able to do so because he had lived an accelerated life. Great lyricism, and a top-shelf DJ Premier beat - five-star track.


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!


Check out this episode!

Posted 6 months ago

How To Listen To The Podcast

Every so often I get questions on this, as many people don’t listen to podcasts at all, so I thought I’d write a little post to help. There are three ways to listen to this show - subscribing, downloading MP3s individually, or streaming.

  • Subscribe if you can install apps on your computer/phone, and want to be able to get the latest episodes automatically. They will downloads as MP3s so you can play them anywhere once they arrive.
  • Download individually if you don’t want to install a podcast app, but just want to grab the audio files to play on any device, especially if you just want the odd episode here and there.
  • Stream if you’re on a computer where you’re not at liberty to download/install programs or MP3s, or have unlimited data access of any kind.

HOW-TO

Important note : The show is not in the “Podcasts” section of the iTunes store, so don’t look for it in there.

  • Subscription
    • If you’re on a computer and have iTunes installed, each webpage has a link you just have to click which will launch iTunes and make it subscribe. At the Podcast section of http://airadam.com, it’s the big black icon on the right. If you’re at http://podcast.airadam.com, it’s the first white icon in the right hand panel, showing the iTunes logo.
    • If you have any other podcast program, there will be an option somewhere to “Add Feed,” “Subscribe Manually,” or similar. These programs will ask for the URL (or sometimes “RSS address”) for the show. You need to give this text; http://airadam.libsyn.com/rss
      • I’m an Android mobile user, and BeyondPod is my favoured app; in there, you’d select “Add Feed,” then click the icon in the top right, then “Enter Feed Address,” then paste the address in.
      • For iPhone users, I hear Downcast is good.
      • Pocket Casts for Android and iPhone is recommended by many people, though it’s not free - only a couple of quid though.
  • One-off downloads
    • On the main webpage (http://podcast.airadam.com), each episode has a little icon that says “Pod” before each title. That icon is a link to the MP3 file with the episode audio in it, so just do the usual “Save link as…” browser stuff you normally would, and it’ll download.
    • If you’re on http://airadam.com, it’s similar - the link is in text, directly below the episode title. 
  • Streaming
    • The easiest way to listen to the podcast streaming is on TuneIn radio. If you’re on a computer with a web browser, just head to http://tunein.com/radio/Air-Adam-Podcast-p570554/ - you’ll be able to listen to episodes with no extra software needed.
    • If you have the TuneIn mobile app, or a Sonos device, or similar, you can search for “Air Adam Podcast” and it’ll show up - go from there.
    • If you’re on Facebook, there’s a “Podcast Player" tab on the Air Adam page which allows you to stream episodes.

If you’re new to the world of podcasts, I hope you find this helpful!

Peace,

Adam


Check out this episode!

Posted 6 months ago

torn water. on Flickr.

A little something from a recent trip to Berlin - timing is everything! #photography