General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the tag “DJ Premier”

Five for the Funk – Guru

It’s a sad week for Boston. Whilst the city is reeling in shock from the marathon bombings it’s also the anniversary of one of their strongest musical exponents death this week, and more precisely today. Three years ago rapper Guru, one half of legendary group Gang Starr, died.

The aftermath was a lot of guff dissing his Gang Starr comrade Preemo via the cryptic will cum chain letter administered by DJ Solar, and whilst the truth around that was murky at best one thing that wasn’t was the fact the duo made some serious music. They maybe aren’t the most influential or finest hip-hop group ever, but surely the most consistent, with every studio album rammed full of classic joints.

As well as that Keith Elam pioneered jazz focused hip-hop even more with his Jazzmatazz projects, as well as the occasional guest verse proving his clout over and over again. It’s only right that the monotone master gets some five for the funk love. Roll up…

‘Full Clip’

This was the first song that really got me into Gang Starr. They were on my radar as a teenager but this video was a permanent fixture on MTV Base in 1999 when sciving school was a necessity so I could stay up all night watching hip-hop videos. The cameos in the video, the shout out to Big L (again someone who I was just abotu to discover properly), and Guru

I copped the album shortly afterwards as well and realised the full scope of the group’s longevity and ability. I’ve been head-nodding to them ever since.

‘DWTYCK’ ft Nice & smooth

Lemonade is a popular drink and it still is. That’s all.

‘Loungin’ ft Donald Byrd

Gang Starr’s early work in particular was very much focused on exploring old jazz, both from a sample perspective and the way DJ Premier approached his production ethos. Along with the Native tongues crew they were repsonsible for the re-appreciation of the genre in much the same way the music of three to four years earlier had grinded out the funk licks of James Brown and Amceo Parker. Gugu took the ideology one step further though with a number of high profile cooloborations with high profile jazz musicians on the Jazzmatazz projects.

This record featured trumpeter Donald Byrd, and was endemic of the kind of blissed out mellow brilliance capable when the two genres collided. Guru also took Byrd on tour with another legendary jazz supremo, Roy Ayers. Whether it’s been Nas teaming up with his father or ATCQ showing their love, the combination remains a potent one.

Digable Planets feat. Guru – “Borough Check”

Digable Planets were another crew that dug jazz, and this remains one of Guru’s dopest guest verses. Rhymes and rhymes and rhymes, this is a great smoky hip-hop joint.

‘You Know my steez’

Whilst Guru could do aggression he was best when mellowing it out, and even better when he was doing the former by being the latter. And it doesn’t get much better an example of that than this absolute gem. A hallmark Premier production, the melancholy melody sounding butter over the splurging bass, was met by a lyrical masterclass from Guru.

There’s gems everywhere, from the way “Dropping lyrics that be hotter than sex and candle wax, while one dimensional emcees can’t handle that” shows how to be about one thing yet in style the same minute he dismisses emcees for lacking his intelligence, the whole thing is perfect.

Hip-hop have had few as great in an understated manner.

Five for the Funk – Big Daddy Kane

BDK

In two weeks time Liverpool is going to get schooled by the don. Big Daddy Kane is coming to town and you better believe it. Alongside the likes of Kool G Rap, Rakim, Slick Rick and Biz Markie, Kane is part of the pantheon of truly great late eighties solo rappers. Everything about him is iconic, from his ultimate braggadocio rhymes to the ridiculousness of his garbs, he had it going on.

Any rapper stunting owes him so much, Biggie’s avuncular arrogance, Kanye’s fashionista flyness, Jay-Z’s smooth swagger – Kane paved the way for all this and much more. In fact Jigga’s debt stretches further, with his early 90s pre rocafella days spent acting as an intermediary hype man for Kane at his shows. His first two albums are absolute classics, and there’s the fact that Rakim, RA FUCKING KIM, cooled the prospect of beef with him. You know when the God thinks twice about entering a battle with you, you’re pretty good.

So in honour of this epochal event, encased in the soon to open East Village Club, five for the funk delivers five bits of greatness from BDK. Large.

‘Smooth Operator’

Mary Jane Girls’ ‘All Night Long’ is one of the most sampled records in hip-hop history, everyone from LL Cool J, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Redman and Ice Cube being among the fifty people in total who have used the saccharine soul 80s classic. I’ve even built a modest dj career off playing it in 90% of my sets of the past five years. But few have done it as well as on Smooth Operator.

While primarily a record in the classic Big Daddy batting off all competitors mould, he does deliver a few bars implying his acumen with the females, but it’s not as much as the title would have you belive. It’s less of a response to the anti-male diatribe of the same name from Sade than you might initially think, particularly as alongside the MJ Girls there’s samples from two of Marvin Gaye’s sexjams (‘Lets get it on’ & ‘Sexual healing’). Instead it’s just Kane doing what he does best, holding court like the don he is.

‘Raw’

This is the ronseal of 80s hip-hop. Marley Marl’s splicing of James Brown and Bobby Byrd just about manages to avoid being dated and Kane just goes, as you’d expect, raw. He’s an absolute animal on the mic in this, just a relentless barrage of skill that is the calling card of one of the greatest. An absolute monument of the genre.

‘Don’t Curse’ (Heavy D ft Kool G Rap, Pete Rock, Cl Smooth, Grand Puba, Q-Tip & Big Daddy Kane)

As posse cuts go this is up there with the best of them. The roll call features people who earned their stripes repping verse after verse in the Juice Crew, Tribe Called Quest and Grand Nubian, all coming together to show that they don’t need to swear to keep it going. It was of course an answer to the proliferation of Parental Advisory stickers which were rampant in hip-hop in time. It’s not the greatest 8 bars from Kane in his career, but he’s still smooth as ever and the track and video are amazing. Heavy D also looks ridiculous in prison style pyjamas, what’s not to love about that?

‘Any type of Way’

What marks Kane out from some of his peers is how graciously he’s aged. No rapper can ever maintain a scintillating appeal, but some slip from world domination to head in hands moments quicker than most. I’m looking at you KRS and Rakim. Kane however, has gone down the Slick Rick route of touring off the back of a legendary status and the odd track since his heyday and this gem from 2003, produced by DJ Premier, proves his mettle.

He’s still nice on the mic but rather than being on that arrogant tip here he is slipping into the paternal figure of hip-hop a man of his status should do. And his voice fits Preemo’s as ever on point production perfectly. The two recently joined up again for a nike commercial with the brilliant 28 bars, which features the genius closing gambit “I went on 28 just to raise the bars”. Don’t doubt this an emcee still with it.

‘Ain’t no Half-Steppin’

Still the one. This is just a relentless surge of look at me I am boss; put-downs, big me-ups, the lot. From a lyrical point of view it’s hard to think of many songs that deliver an aura of greatness quite like this, and the calling card ‘I’m awesome’ records of rappers, be them Biggie’s ‘Unbelievable’, Jay-Z’s ‘So Ghetto’, Big L’s ‘Flamboyant’ and so on, all stand behind this. Everyone is a butter knife compared to Kane’s machete faced with this.

The video is gloriously lo-fi, a reminder of the lack of real money in hi-hop at the time, when you get the impression that the combined cost of the tracksuits worn by Kane and his dancers probably outweighs the overall budget. That’s not to say he isn’t looking hella fresh, with a chain that probably cost the GNP of an eastern European country and a general persona that is dripping swag. The iconic BDK tune.

For ticket info hit here.

B.I.G. Over Premier – DJ Premier And The Notorious B.I.G. Mix By DJ Finesse NYC

This is beyond mega. Preemo instrumentals with Biggie acapellas over the top, cut and spliced together with the right amount of deck technique. There’s nothing worse than a DJ thinjking his skills are more important than the music being played and Finesse lets Biggie’s bragging and Preemo’s pounding do the talking here. The result is astonishing.

Personal highlights include the laconic bounce of ‘Going Back to Cali’ riding deep over arguably Premier’s finest hour, the beat for CNN ‘Invincible’, and the feel-good genius of both Juicy and Nas is Like combining. And then he sacks it all off to let ‘Unbelievable’ sign things off. A fitting tribute to awesome talents.

Grab your dick if you love hip-hop.

DJ Finesse “B.I.G. Over Premier” Mixtape Tracklist:

1. DJ Premier Intro
2. Flava In Ya Ear rmx over I Gave You Power 

3. Big Poppa over Ex To Next Girl 

4. Dead Wrong over 2 Thousand 

5. 10 Crack Commandments over One Day 

6. Who Shot Ya over Come Clean 

7. All About The Benjamins over Supa Dupa Star (1994 Demo Version)
8. One More Chance over Recognize 

9. Long Kiss Goodnight over You Know My Steez 

10. Things Done Changed over The Format 

11. I Got A Story To Tell over Shit Is Real 

12. Real Niggas over Ready 

13. Juicy over Nas Is Like 

14. One More Chance rmx over Freaky Flow 

15. Warning (Freestyle) over Mind Ya Business 

16. ’95 Freestyle (7 Mac 11′s) over Who Got Gunz 

17. Victory over Project Boy 

18. Kick In The Door over Come Get Me 

19. Going Back To Cali over The Invincible 

20. Mo Money Mo Problems over Golden Child 

21. Party And Bullshit over Now Your Mine 

22. Unbelievable

Czarface

Cazrface, the partnering up of Inspektah Deck from Wu and 7L & Esoteric, is a fictitious comic book character returning to the golden era of hip-hop. Those last four words are probably the most mooted in hip-hop circles, and it’s even more surprinsing that the year in question isn’t before 1993… instead it’s 1999.

It would seem odd that a member of Wu would be behind that assertion, even with his best album appearing that year (as well as the only real post wu tang forever masterpiece, Ghostface’s ‘Supreme Clientele’), but nevertheless there is a grain of truth in 1999 being the don year wise… and one I’ll visit with a stronger analysis in the future.

Anyway the album is a beast, not exactly the greatest lyrics ever but still tight with some fantastic beats, and some decent guest appearances as well. In the 1999 vein Ghostface turns up and mumbles like only he can, and Preemo delivers a textbook production, but it’s not all 20th century doyens. Action Bronson and Roc Marciano bring some heat too. Check it on Spotify below

Five for the Funk… every Friday

Brand new Friday feature for the blog entitled Five for the Funk. Following on from previous exuberant appraisals of the virtues of everyone from the Isley Brothers to DJ Premier, every Friday there will be a small feature with five tracks from an artist, period in time, producer, or basically any kind of crux I can pin on music.

More than likely it’ll come form the world of dance music or hip-hop, but I’ll mix it up a wee bit. Sometimes it’ll be themed around a specific date, DJ gig or cultural event, other times it’ll just be five videos I want to share. Every single one will be boss though. Straight up. First up is the Flipmode Squad…

DJ Premier – Five for the Funk

That Joey Bada$$ track ignited by Preemo got me excited for the hot Texan, so I decided to pluck five of my favourite beats he had gifted emcees over the years. Especially ones where he teased awesome performances out the of rappers sitting atop of them. Here we go…

Few rappers have been consistently brilliant with DJ Premier quite like Nas. During his ‘fallen’ years just before his career saving spat with Jigga, the only time Nas really sounded worthy of his Illmatic legacy was behind a Christopher Martin beat. On this track he may very well have exceeded anything on that album, the leisurely lyrical genius glides effortlessly over the beat which is an absolute master-class in eagle eyed sampling from Premier.

Technically this track isn’t a premier production in the classic bring the best out of a rapper mould, because he instead replaced the original production by Ron Browz after Lamont passed. That though misses the point, this takes an already amazing track and gifts it a relentless urgency such to the point most people sleep on the original. And of course Big L, one of the best braggadocio emcees of all time, delivers one of the finest deconstructions of slang that would prove the template for rappers across the globe to do the same.

Is this the best ever preemo beat? Hard to tell but it’s certainly up there, and the verse from ignorant shouter Noreaga is definitely the finest thing he has ever done as well. His penchant for getting head while he drives is mixed with the admittance his album was poor and a pleading to put it down to his dad dying; well out there for a rapper who had previously made a name for himself shouting whut a lot. Capone is ill too. Absolutely amazing.

This strung out soul classic came to light on D’Angelo’s ‘Voodoo’ album and the soundtrack to watchable but basically a bit shit Hype Williams film ‘Belly’. This however is so far from a bit shit it’s undeniable, an astonishingly deep and dirty track you can listen to over and over again.

Gang Starr were relentlessly consistent, such to the point that there’s a gluttony of records worth salivating over from the duo. However this is definitely my favourite, the opening salvo from Big Shug introducing the posse cut brilliantly (high point rhyming fear with square), Guru anchoring things perfectly before Freddie Foxxx annihilates the track at the end. His verse is one of the scariest and hardest things hip-hop has ever seen, encapsulating his appeal with the gambit “When you speak of who’s the dopest MC, I don’t come up, But when you speak of who’s the livest MC, I stay what up, what’s up?” which is one of about fifteen equatable in there. It’s breathless stuff and for the full lyrical content head here.

And if you’re still fiending for Premier dig his latest radio broadcast below.

Live From HeadQCourterz (01/11/2013) by Dj Premier Blog Radio on Mixcloud

Joey Bada$$ – “Unorthodox” (Produced by DJ Premier)

Oh this is heavy. Hip-hop’s new guard comes face to face with the old master as Preemo delivers a trademark beat for the Bada$$ to get heavy on. The result is a brilliantly produced and sonically clean track which is up there with some of the strongest beats the Gang Starr legend has ever delivered, all crafted with his squiggling scratches perfectly. And Joey definitely comes correct with his husky NY delivery. Get on it.

Action Bronson – “The Symbol” (Official Video)

Action Bronson, in case you didn’t know, is the hottest real big apple rapper to explode out of NY in ages. Sure the A$AP Mob (with their various NY repping members) have been clocking more column inches, Joey Bada$$ has been continuing the dollar sign renaissance in the city and Azealia Banks is nothing if not attention grabbing, but for a rapper who bleeds everything the city represents look no further than the ginger bearded spitter. With a voice and flow that sounds like a hybrid of Ghostface and Pun, coupled with a lyrical ingenuity that deserves to be held up in the same breath as both those and classic crime 5 boroughs slanging emcees such as Kool G Rap and Raekwon, and it’s not hard to see why this is an emcee with a bluster of deserving hype.

The above is the video to track the Symbol, forthcoming off the wholly Alchemist produced mixtape ‘Rare Chandeliers’. The production is awesome, dusty guitars licks allowing for Bronson’s breathy rapid fire delivery to wooze over brilliantly. Aside from Preemo no non NY bred producer has come close to crafting the classic big apple sound, in fact the vast majority from there haven;t either, so this is set up to be an absolute masterpiece. Props as well to Madnice Marauders for sending me to the video via their Facebook page.

Want more Bronson? Stream his last mixtape Bon Appetit Bitch via Spotify below:

Yasiin Bey & Mannie Fresh Recording New Track “OMFGOD”

An unlikely but thoroughly brilliant collaboration has taken place between Mos Def/Yassin Bey and durrty south hero Mannie Fresh, who’s beats and rhymes I have loved since this apocalypse of strings landed in my ears back in 1999. Mos is well known to most people outside of hip-hop (and we all know how nice he can sound on more obvious collabs) but you have to love a certain type to feel Mannie – his southern grind isn’t the most palatable to everyone. But clearly Mighty Mos has impeccable taste in digging Mannie, who even made a cameo on Treme. Fire.

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