General Jimmy

Writer / DJ / PR Manager / Fat Bastard

Archive for the tag “Spotify”

Five for the Funk – Party like it’s 1999

Five for the funk returns after a fortnight hiatus (bloggers have bank holidays too). And this time it’s all about one apocalyptic year. Nineteen. Ninety. Nine.

Remember the millennium bug? It had one hell of an impact on hip-hop, everything from Def Jam 2000 to the obsession with the impending apocalypse that the likes of Method Man and Busta Rhymes rapped frequently about cropped up. Will Smith used the year to go from playful pop to out and out wack with a helping hand from KCI and Jojo, and Puff Daddy reacted to the Lox destroying his street appeal by getting Buckwild of DITC to produce the greatest underground joint Bad Boy ever put out without Biggie behind it.

Most importantly though, 1999 was the year hip-hop got good again. Really good. Slick Rick did what the likes of KRS-one and Rakim had been incapable of in recent years, return with a scintillating degree of relevancy, the dirty south started to get really hot with the help of Mannie Fresh and an upstart from Detroit proved being melatonin deficient wasn’t a guarantee of being poor. That rapper in question, a certain Eminem, also brought with him maybe the most important development in hip-hop’s post millenium popscape… the return to prominence of Dr Dre. But most of all the music was just fantastic.

I recently linked to the Czarface album as they heralded the year as a golden age for hip-hop and whilst there’s better points historically for sure, this definitely stands up as one of the finest 12 months the genre has ever seen. Here’s five of the choicest cuts from that time period, and apologies in advance for the andre heaviness.

Slick Rick ft Big Boi ‘Street Talkin’

Few rappers go onto live up to their earlier work a decade afterwards. Nas did so last year with ‘Life is Good’, his second best album after Illmatic, but 1999 was a time when two of the biggest forces in late eighties rap appeared from the doldrums to capture the critical consensus once more. The first was golden age icon Slick Rick, who’s ‘Adventures of Storytelling‘ is an absolute classic. Peppered with star turns from big hitters of the time such as Nas, Raekwon and Canibus, it brought his sinister sense of humour back to the forefront alongside that butter flow. One of the standout tunes was Big Boi returning the star turn Ricky gave on the remix of Outkast’s song of the same title, with the glorious Street Talkin. So, so good.

Ghostface Killah ft U-God & Goldie ‘Cherchez la Ghost’

From 1993-1997 Wu Tang were flawless. Raekwon, GZA and Ghostface delivered classic debuts, whilst Method Man and ODB managed to put forward compelling visions of their personality which if not classic were still very good, not to mention a litany of guest appearances across albums from 2Pac, Mobb Deep and Biggie. Of that five only one managed to deliver on their sophomore, in fact he went better on it. Ghostface.

Supreme Clientele is the greatest non debut Wu solo album ever, no question, and I’d probably say it was the best solo joint full stop. RZA tearing through awesome beats, Ghostface’s patented gibberish and this record, an example of how to go R&B and stay grimy. U-God putting a ruff rider on his dick and busting right through them vying for Tony Starks and that dressing gown for the finest jaw dropping moment in the three minutes of bliss, as the Wu shows Bad Boy how to take an obvious disco sample and keep it street. Jiggy Y2K style.

Eminem ‘Guilty Conscience’

Slick Rick was the hot rapper from the 80s to come full circle, but undeniably Dre was the producer. Part of the story of how he clambered back to the forefront comes in lieu of this record…

Slim Shady had caught the attention of the underground with a runners up slot at the rap Olympics, a slew of underground bangers with Rawkus and the catchy ‘Just Don’t give a Fuck‘, but he really blew up with what seemed like a novelty single in the shape of ‘My Name is’ in early 1999. Dre produced it and has since said the plan was to make it as annoying as possible to ensure the word was out and follow it up with Eminem showing his true class. It was a tactical masterclass Jose Mourinho would be proud of and this record, the two of them sparring together on record, was the first of a series of relentless OMG moments from Slim.

The good/evil combination isn’t exactly original but the way it’s played out certainly is, Dre suddenly being reinvented as a paternal figure and then Eminem exposing the hypocrisy of ‘Mr NWA/Mr AK’ dishing out advice. If it had been a diss record it would of been a milestone, but for it to be something that he convinced Dre to do (and almost certainly ghost-wrote the lyrics that he responded with) it shows so much about the level of trust and respect Dre had gifted his protege at such an early stage, and the start of a glorious two years of shared creativity. It also shows as much as Em was a savagely humorous extortionist of questionable subject matter, he also utilised balance in his yarns, even if through the voice of overs. This would reach it’s staggering apex with Stan – incidentally introduced to the Slim Shady entertainment world in the second verse.

That subject matter was as disgusting as Eminem would become known for, advocating under-age rape, armed robbery and murder (even if done with delicious humour – the way he berates Dre’s explanation with ‘slipped, tripped, fell, landed on his dick’ a prime example), but at the time it was ridiculously exciting, unquestionably. Music fans very rarely get to live through super-stardom in real time (the percentage of Beatles fans on the planet around at their peak must be minuscule) but Eminem’s finest three years I lived through every step of the way and watched how the music only a few people in my school liked suddenly became omnipresent.

Snoop Dogg ft Nate Dogg and Xzibit ‘Bitch Please’

The Doctor again. Dre was ‘back’ through working with Eminem but he was doing so through the medium of a white trailer trash kid from Detroit and with a poppier focus; the next dawning of g-funk wasn’t hinted at yet. 1998 saw a blistering Dre production creep under the radar with the shape of old sparring partner Kurrupt on ‘Ask yourself a question‘ but one record snapped into focus and threw up the dubs. When ‘Bitch Please’ appeared on Snoop’s ‘No Limit Top Dogg‘ as one of three Dre productions, you knew this shit was back on.

Everything about this joint is perfect. When the beat kicks in with the drums and the low end rumbling it was seismic, I remember hearing this for the first time better than most milestones in my life. Xzibit, at that point an underground emcee with plenty of heat and no dodgy MTV show, drops the verse of his life which is littered with quotables, referencing his likwit connections, slick rick and Canibus in 24 breathless bars. He would go on to tread water for the majority of the rest of his career, but this was the reason why.

It was also the point where Snoop realised his future career, hot singles where the focus was on how he sounded over a ridiculous beat. His delivery here is this out there hybrid of crooner, pillow talk and street slang, completely alien to anything else and tailor made for the Dre sonics. And if that wasn’t enough Nate Dogg decides to turn up at the end and say ‘hey oh’ in the most amazing fashion. All four protagonists deliver resoundingly for what is a beyond brilliant masterpiece.

Pharoah Monche ‘Simon Says’

That riff. Those drums. The four note sample from Godzilla was inspired, and Pharaoh drifting brilliantly between his usual cerebral self and straight up club thug stance made the whole thing so much more accomplished. The added whut-whuts on the chorus deliver a broad chested swagger (that’s already evident in spades) and the lyrics flip between self-deprecating humour (“you sold platinum round the world, I sold wood in the hood”) and the clever way both verses end with 2if you holding up the wall then you missing the point” meant an emcee known for technical genius could dumb down with the best of them whilst still having that lyrical subtlety. This is a cat remember that no less an authority than The Alchemist cites as the greatest of all time.

The impact of the record was so much certain commentators even labelled it as the beginning of the end for Rawkus who suddenly saw a product rather than an artform, which is a delicious irony considering the impact it has when it sounds. It’s just brasher and louder than everything else going, M1 & Stic-Man aside. Big and clever? Only in the hands of the Pharoah. An anthem of epic proportions.

Camp Lo @ Sound Control

To say I’m a fan of Camp Lo’s ‘Uptown Saturday Night’ album is an understatement. Released in 1997, it’s one of those rare records that I loved just as much when I was a teenager as I do now, an absolute joy from start to finish. Everything about it is perfect, from the ridiculousness of De La’s Trugoy guesting with clown central lyrics about eating his honeycomb cereal with his big spoon on’ B Side to Hollywood’, the mesmerising slang on the ode to parlaying ‘Sparkle’ or the get rich soon heist classic ‘Luchini’ (see below). Even the artwork was amazing, aping brilliantly Marvin Gaye’s classic ‘I want you’.

So when Liverpool’s hip-hop mainstay Paddy of No Fakin‘ took a rare moment outside of ripping me for my lack of hip-hop involvement to let me know that Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede were playing live in Manchester, I was pretty happy. When I did some more research and uncovered the fact it was one of those play the whole album in full gigs, dedicated to ‘Uptown Saturday Night’, the excitement reached untold levels. Props to More Bounce for picking an absolute stone cold classic to ring in their first birthday celebrations, and better yet for doffing their caps further on the hip-hop tip by putting it on on March 9th, the date of course when Biggie Smalls was shot.

This couldn’t get any more in the throes of 1997 if it tried, and what with that being the year where Hip-hop fully gripped me in a full never ending clinch, I’ll be definitely in attendance at the show. There will be bubbly flowing through me for sure. Hype!

New Daft Punk album due in May

Apparently it’s official; the Gallic troubadours are releasing a new album in May. Whether it will be any good is a moot point, but it certainly won’t do anything to dim rumours of the duo headlining Glastonbury, the first human landing on Mars or finding the cure for AIDS via synth exploitation.

It’s also worth noting that even though it’s not as good as ‘Homework’, either musically or in terms of the amazing videos like the one Michel Gondry did above for ‘Around the World’, sophomore effort ‘Discovery’ really was a gem as well and an opus that made my Friday evening just gone a lot of fun. Stream it below on Spotify.

#GJHH25 25 – 23 Beastie Boys, Roots Manuva, Massive Attack

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

I’ve never been that massive a fan of the Beastie Boys in all honesty, but this record is just awesome. The ultimate exercise in sampling, it’s one of the few hip-hop albums where a production outfit not only adds to the sonic palette of an artist, but they enhance the very personality of what they’re about. Furthering the Bomb Squad’s approach of throwing everything into the mix this album also helped pave the way for instrumental hip-hop and turntablist albums from the likes of DJ Shadow, The Avalanches, X-Cutioners and even Jurassic 5’s dj enhanced releases, marking it not only the best Beastie’s cut but also probably the most influential, especially considering the path Mixmaster Mike would go on.

The result is a ridiculously madcap, off kilter and wondrously weird pastiche of near enough every musical genre under the sun. The rowdy frat feel of Licensed to Ill is replaced by a much more endearing, humorously woven together masterpiece that most Beasties fans would agree is their best album. Of course it bombed commercially, but it helped set them up for the alternative role they would fulfil in the wider world of music up until MCA’s death last year.

There’s always something very brave about artists who rip up the rulebook when dealing with success and this is one of the best executions of doing so (see also De la Soul and 2Pac with Makaveli), and hip-hop at it’s most irreverent and fun. It has to be listened to as a whole opus as well, somehow cohesive despite the madness.

Roots Manuva – Brand New Second Hand

As a teenager the world of UK hip=-hop wasn’t something I delved into particularly deeply, but I can remember Roots being on the cover of HHC around the time I regularly started buying it in early 1999. The reason was this album, and in the midst of one buying surge at HMV based on some kind of offer like 3 for £20 (there was always a second tier of needed albums which only got bought if they made it to this area, £14+ was the cost back in these days) it landed in my ownership.

I was impressed, the use of strings at various junctures made it extremely atmospheric and ‘Motion 5000’ peppered one of the many tape compilations I made for me and my mates at that time. Albums for us then were resources for said tapes, very rarely anything to listen to in full, and this opus to my ears sounded like something a bit different for the continued process of one-upmanship that these tape exchanges were, but not much more. Then I went to university.

Uni changed the way I listened to music, mainly because I had more free time and but also because I wasn’t always in control. Very few of the gangster dominated songs from Tupac, Biggie, Scarface and so on was getting a chance and seeing as there was no tape players I couldn’t revert to the tried and tactics of wowing them with a rare Yukmouth stomper. This was one of the albums that I managed to coerce in, and when I did I realised the languid glory of it. Undeniably British, roots’ created a mellow masterpiece that is the perfect blend of Caribbean culture and the black British experience so redolent in Bristol and London, which although still pretty far from my middle class white Midlands existence was still closer to my mindset than the gang soaked streets of the states.

It’s near flawless (‘Dem Phonies is an aberration), gorgeously cohesive and a record that breathes with humour and individuality at every stage. It makes sense at 3am in the morning smoking and letting it absorb your eardrums, or lazily caressing your ears of a weekend whilst doing the housework, and has some absolute monster records alongside the strings of ‘Motion 5000’ such as ‘Inna’ and ‘Juggle Tings Proper’. The influence of dub as well, weaving a tapestry of sound underneath, means the space of the record is brilliant and the juxtaposition of all these disparate influences makes for a beguiling album that is still unique nearly fourteen years later.

Roots would go on to smash out the indomitable Witness and create a glut of albums that have made him one of my favourite rappers ever. He’s also perhaps behind the greatest live performance I’ve ever seen, his gig at the Lomax in September 2001 when he was accompanied by a string quartet was nothing short of sensational and, despite it following ‘Run Come Save me’, was mainly made up of tracks from this album. I’ve heard some people say ‘Awfully Deep’ is his true masterpiece but for me this one will always ring true.

Massive Attack – Blue Lines

Is this a hip-hop album? In my eyes yes; whilst what followed from Massive Attack and erstwhile member Tricky would go onto become the fabled trip-hop movement, this offering was probably the first ever truly great UK album that existed outside yet still belonged to the underground hip-hop scene. Sample led, bolstered by rap turns that welded British slang and Caribbean patois and very much born from the Streets of Bristol, ‘Blue Lines’ is undoubtedly carved in the same spirit of musical expression that exploded from the Bronx in the early seventies, reflective more of our mongrel culture of integration as opposed to the US’ segregated values (although the subject matter would delve into the class divides).

Deliciously short it’s near perfect, featuring some delectable soul turns and in ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ one of the most heartfelt and beautiful pieces of music ever made, and certainly the most emotionally wrought use of a cowbell ever. The video also ingeniously transported singer Shara Nelson to South Central Los Angeles, the vanguard region for hip-hop at that time, before the other members of the band joined her. This was famously homaged or pilfered, depending on your viewpoint, both musically and visually by The Verve with ‘Bittersweet Sympathy’, and the influence of the band saw the album acclaimed by the wider music press. The other four videos that sprung from the album were also pretty special.

Such was the power of the album that it is understandably classed as more than just hip-hop, but for me it has a special place in my heart on those very core characteristics of the genre it shows so well. Much more worthier voices than my own put this album in higher echelons of importance and influence too, and I’ve heard it suggested as one of the most important pieces of soulful music Great Britain has ever created. It’s a legacy it deserves.

22-21 is here.

PUTV DJ Mix

This weekend I am rocking up in London for Pump up the Volume, alongside headliner Tayo for the final set of the night. It’s a 90s revival party and it’s fancy dress, it will be beyond ridiculous and now there’s a natty DJ mix from the PUTV crew to promote it which you can stream below.

Want further information? Head on over to my previous post explaining it in full detail.

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:

Halloween Pump Up The Volume – Saturday 27th October at Visions Video Bar, Dalston

I’ve got my first London gig in just over five years on Halloween weekend, playing for 90s party-starters Pump up the Volume. It’s the fourth time I’ve played for PUTV, doing two festival gigs last year for them at Latitude and Isle of Wight last year and one show in the Shipping Forecast for them in march this year. But this will be me coming to their London centrepiece, and I’ll be alongside Tayo, main resident Wang Chung and Toby Williams. Facebook event details here.

I may even (gulp) record a mix to promote this gig, but I did get together a Spotify playlist chart based on my festival performances last year. Stream that below.

Jessie Ware: “Night Light” (Official Video)

Brand new Jessie Ware video to the stunning single ‘Night Light’, which is of course over the simply beautiful ‘Devotion’ which she released earlier this year. Check my review or better yet, head straight over to Spotify and let the album flow through your ears.

Font 2012-13 Playlist

Last month I mentioned I was compiling a playlist for the Font and here is the final edit. There’s 150 tracks of pure aural goodness on the go, the thinking the same as last year in that it’s designed with a student friendly bar in mind. There’s a definite influence from Breaking Bad prevalent – as I’ve been a late comer to the series and completely engrossed by the music involved. Alongside that there’s everything from bass heavy hip-hop from Tyga and The Pack over to music raided from some of my favourite albums of the year so far – Jessie Ware, Frank Ocean, Justin Martin and Nas.

It’s also a bit more ‘current’ – the last one was much closer to the classic records that had been part of my DJ sets over the years whereas this is definitely more of a home listening experience with some slabs of bass music form Bondax, Disclosure and Last Japan all freshening up the student indie disco vibe, and things get a bit noisy towards the end as well. It’s tailored to fit a full day in the bar, so it’s a bit weighty to get stuck into but go for it anyway. Or just rock up to the gaffe and experience it in the environ with a pint of Liverpool Organic for yourself.

Salt Dog Slim’s Playlist

I DJ the majority of Saturday nights in Seel St’s best new gaffe Salt Dog Slims, and have been doing so now since mid may. I’m kind of getting a mix together but the likelihood is I’ll probably record a live one once I get a decent mixer. Anyway; I’ve compiled a really short playlist that rocks in at 15 tracks and 55 minutes which can get you in the mood for grooving now the weekend is, 100% officially, here.

It features some old 50s doo wop style grooves from Sam Cooke and Gene Chandler, full on disco funk from Billy Ocean and Shalamar and then some eart screaming soul and funk from Aretha Franklin and Maceo & the Macks, among others. best thing to do though is pop down the bar and hear all this and then some in full flow. Spotify users follow the instructions below.

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