Tag Archives: BBE Records

100 Best Albums & EPs Of 2016 (Part Five) – Westside Gunn / De La Soul / Booda French etc.

Fifth and final part of Old To The New’s overview of 2016  – check Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four.

Westside Gunn – “FLYGOD” (Griselda Records) – Having spent recent years steadily building a reputation as one of the underground Hip-Hop scene’s most promising talents, 2016 saw Buffalo, NY emcee Westside Gunn solidify his position as a go-to-artist for that gritty-yet-understated street ish, packing the heavily-anticipated “FLYGOD” with densely-woven verses of verbal violence delivered in his signature vocal tone.

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Jigmastas – “Resurgence” (BBE Records) – Revisiting the creative chemistry that made their string of 90s singles immediate underground classics, Brooklyn duo DJ Spinna and Kriminul effectively showcased their trademartrue-school sound on this solid collection of beats and rhymes.

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Enlish – “Slumdog Hundredaire” (Enlish.BandCamp.Com) – Packed with cocky bravado, politically-incorrect punchlines and moments of personal honesty, this thoroughly-entertaining album found UK emcee Enlish stomping all over the competition in his own inimitable fashion.

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De La Soul – “and the Anonymous Nobody…” (A.O.I. Records) – Following a massively successful Kickstarter campaign, Strong Island legends Plugs One, Two and Three returned with this highly-anticipated album, a project which masterfully balanced the group’s ambitious creativity with their golden-era roots.

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DJ Rude One – “ONEderful” (Closed Sessions) – Chicago-raised, NY-based producer Rude One tapped the likes of Conway, Your Old Droog and Roc Marciano to lace his moody, atmospheric lo-fi beats with their respective brands of street-savvy wordplay, resulting in an album that was undeniably raw to the core.

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Da Flyy Hooligan – “Ray Winstone” (Gourmet Deluxxx) – Formerly known as Iron Braydz, London’s Da Flyy Hooligan served up a hefty helping of “gourmet rap” in the form of this nine-track release, displaying razor-sharp microphone techniques and a strong sense of individuality over production from Micall Parknsun, Beat Butcha, Ded Tebiase and more.

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Jakk Frost – “The Beard Awakens” (BeardGangClikk.Com) – Whilst technically a ‘mixtape’, this project from Philly’s Jakk Frost was so dope it had to be included here. Featuring the Illadelph emcee getting busy over self-produced loops of classic material from the likes of Donald Byrd, Keni Burke and Ronnie Laws, “The Beard Awakens” was a captivating blend of street smarts, raw humour and genuine lyrical skill. The beard is still in the building!

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Benny Diction & Blue Buttonz – “Button Up” (BoomBapPro.Com) – Backed by the soulful boom-bap of South African producer Blue Buttonz, Benny Diction one again proved himself to be one of UK Hip-Hop’s most consistent emcees throughout this album, delivering relatable rhymes in his usual down-to-earth style with memorable results.

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Agallah – “Bo: The Legend Of The Water Dragon” (Propain Campaign) – The Rotten Apple-raised producer-on-the-mic was joined by the likes of Hus Kingpin, Planet Asia and the late Sean Price on this expertly-executed collection of hardcore jewels.

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Classic Material – “Classic Material” (ClassicMat.BandCamp.Com) – Meticulously-crafted, sample-driven true-school flavour from UK producer Ill Treats alongside Soundsci members Oxygen and Audessey (with the project also featuring liner notes from yours truly).

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Booda French – “Awesome Is Everyday” (BoodaFrench.BandCamp.Com) – Produced by Brown Bag Allstars member J57, Jimmy Green and Apatight, this EP from UK emcee Booda French was arguably the artist’s best work-to-date, with his unique delivery and likeable, somewhat world-weary personality meshing effortlessly with the quality beats on offer here.

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Apathy – “Handshakes With Snakes” (Dirty Version Records) – A strong addition to an already rock-solid discography, the latest long-player from Connecticut’s Apathy found the Demigodz member delivering his usual high-standard of rhymes over polished self-produced beats, with the likes of Ras Kass, O.C. and Spit Gemz offering worthwhile lyrical assistance along the way.

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Babylon Warchild – “War Journals” (BabylonWarchild.Com) – Known for their politically-charged, uncompromising Hip-Hop, Canada’s Babylon Warchild crew offered more of the same on their latest effort, crafting a fitting soundtrack for the everyday struggle faced by many in an increasingly volatile world.

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MindsOne & DJ Iron – “Phaseology” (IllAdrenaline.Com) – New Jersey’s Ill Adrenaline Records added to the label’s ever-growing catalogue of quality releases with the brilliant “Phaseology”, a sublime, understated blend of intelligent, personal lyricism from Tronic and KON Sci with top-notch production courtesy of Belgium’s DJ Iron.

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AG Da Coroner – “Sip The Nectar” (Man Bites Dog Records) – Personifying the term ‘New York straight talk’, Rotten Apple emcee AG Da Coroner’s long-awaited debut album didn’t disappoint, with its gruff rhymes and drama-fuelled beats carrying on tradition and proudly flying the flag for East Coast Hip-Hop.

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Kyza Sayso – “Miverione: Vol. 1” (KyzaSayso.BandCamp.Com) – London lyricist and former Terra Firma member Kyza made a welcome return to the mic with a potent mix of vivid street-related rhymes and competition-crushing barbs, proving once again why he’s long been considered one of the nicest emcees to have emerged from the UK Hip-Hop scene.

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Airklipz – “Single Speed” (Airklipz.BandCamp.Com) – The UK emcee delivered vivid, captivating verses over a varied selection of soundscapes from producers such as Session 600, Jimmy Screech and Illternal Beats on this project, mixing both traditional and contemporary Hip-Hop flavours throughout.

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SmooVth – “SS96J” (Fat Beats) – The Strong Island representative definitely lived up to his name on this impressive release, which found the talented emcee weaving intricate narratives around mellow, melodic production, accompanied by the likes of Hus Kingpin, Milano Constantine and Sage Infinite.

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Big Toast & Sofa King – “Save Yourself Kill Them All” (RevorgRecords.BandCamp.Com) – UK flavour from the always-reliable Revorg Records camp, which featured producer Sofa King and emcee Big Toast delivering seven tracks of rough, rugged and raw homegrown Hip-Hop with a socially-aware edge.

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Estee Nack & al.divino – “Triple Black Diamonds” (TragicAllies.Com) – Dropping just before the end of the year, Tragic Allies member Estee Nack and fellow Massachusetts microphone fiend al.divino joined forces for this ice-cold collection of winter mood music, with the pair proving to be a formidable partnership as they spat rewind-worthy darts over laidback, and at times melancholy, production.

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Psych Out Mix Stream – DJ Format

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UK crate-digger DJ Format ventures deep into the world of psychedelic breaks and beats for this eclectic mix promoting his forthcoming BBE compilation of the same name.

Album Review – Mr Thing

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Mr Thing

“Strange Breaks & Mr Thing III”

(BBE Records)

Release Date: May 19th 2014

In the beginning, there were the breaks. When the musical foundations of Hip-Hop were being laid down at 70s Bronx block parties, there were the breaks. When Herc, Flash and Bambaataa were soaking the labels off records in their bath tubs to prevent the competition from discovering their secret musical weapons, it was all about the breaks. That portion of often random and obscure records stacked with heavy drums and persistent percussion, offering that short moment of sonic bliss that was guaranteed to push the hardcore b-boys in a crowd to pull out their most impressive and energetic moves, raising the energy again and again as the break section from the likes of “Apache” and “It’s Just Begun” boomed through South Bronx speakers wired to lamp-posts.

Move forward into the 80s and 90s, and the breaks still reigned supreme in Hip-Hop, fuelling the creative urges of everyone from Marley Marl and an N.W.A-era Dr. Dre, on to Lord Finesse, DJ Premier, Madlib and many, many more. With countless producers and music lovers spending hours tucked away in dank record store basements, digging relentlessly through endless piles of disregarded wax in the hope of finding that one record that would make it all worthwhile.

Today, regardless of technological advances in music equipment and the shift in the sound of mainstream rap towards a colder, more electronic sound, for many, it’s still all about those breaks. Record stores. Charity shops. Car-boot sales. Anywhere that vinyl can be found, dusty-fingered diggers the world over still find themselves on a never-ending quest, looking for the perfect beat.

The art of digging is a serious business. For many, it’s more than just a passion, it’s an obsession. That moment of recognition as a familiar sample or unheard break crackles through the grooves after a long day spent trawling through crates of vinyl is the stuff that digger’s dreams are made of.

Whilst some beat junkies still operate under the secretive breaks code of our Hip-Hop forefathers, thankfully, for those of us who lack the storage space, there are those individuals happy to share at least some of their musical treasures for our listening enjoyment. Such as the UK’s Mr Thing.

Rising to prominence in the 90s as a formidable turntablist and member of the Scratch Perverts crew, Thing has gone on to bless a number of artists with both his deck-wrecking skills and production prowess, over the years working with the likes of Mark B, The Creators, Jehst and Essa (previously known as Yungun).

As Thing’s vinyl collection has continued to grow to match the size of his reputation for rocking shows, the UK crate-digger has found himself joining forces with longstanding London-based label BBE, releasing the first volume of “Strange Breaks & Mr Thing” in 2008, providing an outlet for the former DMC champion to showcase some of his rarer musical finds (and if you’ve been lucky enough to check any of Thing’s underground “Anorak” mixes or 2012’s “Nerd Is Bond” then you’ll already know exactly how deep this man digs).

With the third installment of the “Strange Breaks…” series, Thing has pulled together another quality selection of eclectic tracks that range from funky disco and schizophrenic jazz  to dramatic soundtrack vibes and psychedelic rock flavours.

Kick-starting proceedings with the slick, swaggering 1976 Disco Orchestral monster “Do It Again”, Thing unearths gem after gem, such as the gritty Civil Rights era soul of The Internationals’ “Give A Damn”, the organic, horn-driven 70s funk of “One More Time, You All” from New Jersey’s Nu-Sound Express, Ltd, and on to the relentless rhythm section of “La Da Da” from Edwin Starr’s backing band Dynamic Concept.

Elsewhere, Amral’s Trinidad Cavaliers deliver the upbeat “It Sure Is Funky”,  a steel-drum cover of Ripple’s 1973 classic “I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky” (as sampled by Special Ed and Kid ‘N’ Play), whilst the infectious guitar licks and rolling drums of Smiling Hard’s “Fire To The Galleon” deliver combustive, fast-paced funk of the highest order.

Throughout, Thing literally lays in the cut, choosing to smoothly segue the music together and drop some subtle back-and-forth turntable action when the break portion of certain tracks begin, rather than feeling the need to stamp his mark all over the project with constant crab-scratches and frantic flares. Sometimes, all a talented deejay needs to do is simply let a good record play, and this is an element of his craft that Mr Thing appears to understand completely.

Whilst snippets of some tracks included here will be familiar to fans of Eric B. & Rakim, The Beatnuts and The Alchemist, there is still much to discover for even the sharpest of sample fanatics.

A true musical education, with this latest addition to his “Strange Breaks…” catalogue, Mr Thing has once again combined his knowledge, technical skill and ear for a quality tune to great effect.

If your own crates suddenly don’t seem that deep or impressive after listening to this hand-picked collection of choice cuts, well, those are the breaks.

Ryan Proctor

Follow Mr Thing On Twitter – @DJMrThing

Follow BBE Records On Twitter – @BBEMusic

Disco Orchestral – “Do It Again” (DJM Records / 1976)

 

New Joint – The Last Skeptik / Jehst

The Last Skeptik ft. Jehst – “Lullaby” (BBE Records / 2013)

UK producer Last Skeptik teams-up with Billy Brimstone for this heavyweight head-nodder from his new album “Thanks For Trying”.

New Joint – The Last Skeptik

The Last Skeptik – “Be There” (BBE Records / 2013)

Twisted video to accompany this soulful instrumental track from the UK producer’s album “Thanks For Trying”.

52 Best Albums & EPs Of 2012 (Part Two) – Vinnie Paz / Ka / GrindHouse Project etc.

Luv NY – “Luv NY” (Ascetic / Red Apples 45) – Enlisting a crew of iconic Rotten Apple emcees that most producers could only dream of working with, Bronx-bred music man Ray West blessed AG, Kool Keith, Kurious etc with a hypnotic selection of his minimalist, piano-driven production, allowing each of the featured lyricists plenty of room to breathe as they celebrated the bright lights and shadowy back-streets of New York City.

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Joker Starr – “Blood-Ren” (Flukebeat Music) – Not afraid to standout from the pack, UK emcee Joker Starr ensured every track on this project was packed with personality, utilising his individual rhyme style to pay homage to Michael Jackson, impress the ladies and show the British rap scene some tough love.

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Vinnie Paz – “God Of The Serengeti” (Enemy Soil) – Picking up where his brilliant 2010 solo album left-off, Philly rhyme animal Paz’s second shot for delf upped the hardcore ante even further than its predecessor, with the Jedi Mind Tricks frontman collaborating with heavyweights such as Scarface and Tragedy Khadafi over thunderous production that could rattle the gates of hell.

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Beat Bop Scholar – “Authentic Minded” (BeatBopScholar.BandCamp.Com) – Proving the old saying that age really ain’t nothing but a number, Los Angeles-based teenage producer Beat Bop Scholar lived up to his name on this mainly instrumenal project, channelling his love of golden-era Hip-Hop into a nice selection of drum-heavy, sample-laden head-nodders with legends Percee P, Sadat X and Craig G on-hand to offer vocal support.

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Ka – “Grief Pedigree” (Iron Works) – Achieving a nearly impossible balance between rugged street rhetoric and elegant sonic sophistication, veteran Brooklyn lyricist Ka cast a watchful eye over his Brownsville neighbourhood on this self-produced album, delivering pearls of hard-knock wisdom with an understated been-there-done-that flow which only made his observations of the world around him hit home even harder.

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GrindHouse Project – “GHP Is Like…” (GrindHouseProject.BandCamp.Com) – Comprised of producers Futurewave and Astro Mega with emcees Trace Motivate and 360, this Toronto-based quartet’s debut project sounded like it had been recorded by a crew who’d locked themselves in a dark basement for six months with nothing but a sampler, some broken mics and a stack of old vinyl. Uncompromisingly hardcore, “GHP Is Like…” was all about the essential foundations of quality Hip-Hop; sharp verbal skills and quality beats with instant-rewind appeal. Music to stomp your Timberlands to.

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Phoenix Da Icefire – “The Quantum Leap” (PhoenixDaIcefire.Com) – An affiliate of London’s Triple Darkness camp, this labour of love from Phoenix Da Icefire took nearly five years to complete, but judging by the quality of the beats and rhymes heard here it was definitely time well spent. Almost entirely produced by the talented Chemo, the UK emcee covered all the lyrical bases here, from intense self-reflection and intelligent social commentary to competition-crushing verses.

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Visioneers – “Hipology” (BBE) – Multi-talented London-based producer Marc Mac returned this year under his Visioneers guise, with this brilliantly executed concept album encapsulating a variety of musical styles to highlight the many influences that have shaped the 4hero member’s own personal relationship with Hip-Hop culture, from the Incredible Bongo Band to J Dilla.

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Large Professor – “Professor @ Large” (Fat Beats) – The legendary live guy with glasses and former Main Source member continued to demonstrate his loyalty to the 90s NY golden-era sound he helped influence with this no-frills collection of five-borough flavour featuring the likes of Busta Rhymes, Grand Daddy I.U. and Action Bronson.

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Blacastan – “The Master Builder Part II” (Brick) – The Demigodz / Army Of The Pharaohs wordsmith’s latest release contained plenty of the gruff Connecticut emcee’s cautionary street tales and conspiracy-laced wordplay over longtime collaborator ColomBeyond’s hard-edged production.

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Ryan Proctor

Part Three coming soon – check Part One here.

Old To The New Q&A – Marc Mac (Visioneers)

London-based producer Marc Mac has made a career out of drawing on a variety of influences in order to leave an indelible mark on a number of musical genres, from jungle to Hip-Hop. As a member of pioneering drum & bass outfit 4hero the UK studio wizard received a Mercury Music Prize nomination for the group’s 1998 album “Two Pages”, a ground-breaking project which further cemented Mac’s reputation as a master of defying categorisation.

Mac returned to his roots in 2006 with the release of the brilliant Visioneers album “Dirty Old Hip-Hop”, which found the producer utilising a talented band of musicians to create true-school soundscapes that captured the essence of golden-era beats and rhymes whilst still retaining a fresh appeal.

With the recently released sophomore Visioneers album “Hipology”, Mac has once again joined forces with his sonic allies to craft music that succeeds in its mission to fill its creative grooves with the spirit of the many influences that make up the album’s cover collage, including everything from classic Hip-Hop record labels to Spike Lee movies and iconic 80s toys.

Here, Marc Mac gives some insight into why a small selection of the many artists, events and logos featured on the “Hipology” cover had such an impact on his life.

Seminal 1983 Hip-Hop flick “Wild Style”:

“If you were to think of what would be in an essential Hip-Hop tool-kit, I always think that “Wild Style” would have to be a part of that kit. Back in the day it was almost like you had to have seen that movie if you wanted to be in the crew. To me that film really showed the roots of the culture and it brought all the elements of the culture together, showing the emcees, the graffiti artists on the trains, the dancers, the deejays, it really showed the blueprint of what Hip-Hop was about. At the time in London I was surrounded by sound-system culture and for me I was aspiring to be a part of one of those sound-systems in some way, but watching “Wild Style” definitely helped me draw some parallels between what was happening in the film with the music and the graffiti and what some people were doing in the UK at that time. Plus, the actual phrase “Wild Style” has kind of carried on throughout my life in my music, because the wild style concept in graffiti was about taking the art to a different place and really putting your individual stamp on what you were doing, which is something that I’ve always tried to do with my music in terms of approaching things differently and from a new angle that people might not expect.”

Early-80s arcade game Defender:

“People sometimes talk about an album or a film being a backdrop to a period in their life, but back in the 80s it was the sound of Defender for me (laughs). My parents worked at a youth centre so I used to have the priviledge of watching the new games getting wheeled in. But at the time I was almost too small to see the screens of these huge arcade machines once they were set-up, so it was really the noises and sounds that came from the games that I remember most from that time. I used to stand next to the machines and hear the noises and wonder what was happening on the screen, and then I’d see the hands of the older guys who were playing them just constantly moving really fast (laughs). But the memories of that particular game really stayed with me, being in the youth centre, watching people play those games, the older kids would have the boombox set-up playing some electro, and then the sounds from Defender would almost be blending into the music.”

Every 80s b-boy’s favourite item of clothing the Goose jacket:

“That was the one item of clothing you could never have (laughs). Everyone had that one thing they really wanted that was just too expensive and your parents wouldn’t get it for you. For me, that one thing was a Goose jacket. It was just out of reach. I used to see pictures of people wearing them in magazines and on album covers, but they were just too expensive for me to ever get one back then. There were a few people around my area who had them, some of the older kids on the estate, they had the chains and the Goose jackets, but they were just on some different runnings, man.”

Host of Capital Radio’s original 80s Hip-Hop show Mike Allen:

“Mike Allen is a hero. I remember back in the day you could either climb all over your room to put the aerial in the right place so you could pick up a pirate radio station, or you could legally pick up Mike Allen’s show on Capital Radio and still get the real deal as far as the music was concerned. Mike was getting on a lot of stuff early and really introduced a lot of electro and Hip-Hop artists to listeners in the UK. Plus, he had that voice that sounded like a teacher you had at school(laughs). But I heard a lot of stuff for the first time on Mike Allen, sat there with a tape running trying to edit out the adverts when they came on (laughs). As much as people talk about deejays like Tim Westwood and others who played Hip-Hop here in the UK, it was important that we had Mike Allen at that time in the 80s on a legal radio station because he would play everything, from East Coast to West Coast, so it showed you that there was good music coming from everywhere.”

Monumental London Hip-Hop event UK Fresh ’86:

“There’s a little story to that one. That show was at Wembley and back then we knew all the tricks of the trade to get into all the events. At Wembley the trick was to kick the side doors dead centre and they’d go inwards and then fly back towards you and open out (laughs). I remember when UK Fresh was on, one of the older guys kicked the doors and we all just ran in behind each other. Back then we were all small enough to get lost in the crowd quickly so we didn’t get caught (laughs). I think I’d told my parents I’d gone to the shops or something and there I was at this huge Hip-Hop concert. I remember it seemed really high-up and I was looking down onto the stage, but I can remember seeing Captain Rock who killed it and the World Class Wreckin’ Cru as well. I don’t think a concert like that could really happen again today, but having all those huge artists of the time together in once place back then was serious.”

Former London-based pirate radio station Kiss FM:

“Kiss sort of lost me a bit when they made the transition to being a legal station. I preferred it when they were a pirate because it really was radical radio, which is why I put the old logo on the album cover. But for me, Kiss FM really helped you to grow your record collection, because listening to the different shows you were able to join the dots between what was happening in Hip-Hop at the time and the jazz and funk records that some of those samples were coming from. You might listen to a Westwood show and he’d be playing Hip-Hop, and then you’d listen to someone like a Trevor Nelson who’d play some wicked funk sets, which were nothing like the type of music he plays now (laughs). So listening to that original line-up of deejays on Kiss really helped you make those connections between the differents styles of music they were playing, particularly with the breaks and the whole James Brown era of sampling that was happening then. I mean, you couldn’t really have grown-up in London during that time listening to pirate radio and not listened to Kiss and I don’t really think the importance of Kiss as a pirate station is fully appreciated. If you were there at that time, then you know, but otherwise I don’t think it’s fully understood what Kiss meant to the music scene in its early days.”

The mighty Juice Crew’s original recording home Cold Chillin’ Records:

“I’m glad you picked the Cold Chillin’ logo because out of all the other record label logos included on the album cover Cold Chillin’ was probably the most important label of its era. Marley Marl, Masta Ace, Roxanne Shante, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, the amount of talent on that label was ridiculous. But aside from the actual artists, it was the sound of Cold Chillin’ that was equally important to me. The label had a trademark sound, just that funky, dirty feel to the beats and samples, like the vinyl had been recycled (laughs). It had a lot to do with the sound the SP 1200 gives you, but when you listened to some of those incredible records from Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap, they just felt like they’d been done in one take and the whole vibe on a lot of those albums was just magical. It’s hard to pick favourites out of everything they put out, but MC Shan’s “Down By Law” album was always one that stood-out for me as there was a lot happening musically on that one. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s “It’s A Demo” was a classic and I always really liked Roxanne Shante’s stuff and the way she approached her rhymes with her don’t-test-me attitude. The whole Cold Chillin’ sound just defined an era for me.”

Native Tongue low-end legends A Tribe Called Quest:

“I mean, what can you really say about A Tribe Called Quest that hasn’t been said before? For me, Tribe were important because they were the first group who really brought together all the musical elements I loved and shaped them into one sound. From the jazz samples to the way they looped their beats to the chemistry between Q-Tip and Phife, they were just Hip-Hop all-rounders to me. What was clever about Tribe, particularly on their first album, was that they’d use familiar drum breaks that people knew and then drop a sample on top which hadn’t really been used before. I was already collecting jazz and funk records, so when Tribe came out what they were doing musically really made a lot of sense to me and was something that I could relate to. Plus, listening to them pushed me deeper into wanting to know more about jazz and the artists they were sampling from.”

UK Hip-Hop pioneers London Posse:

“I always had a connection with London Posse as my partner Gus who I started Reinforced Records with was in a group Trouble Rap who were signed to Tim Westwood’s Justice label at the same time as London Posse were in the late-80s so there were times I’d be in the studio when they were recording. But I also knew them from when I used to have a sound-system at Notting Hill Carnival where all the emcees in London would get on the set as it was one of the first sounds to play only Hip-Hop at carnival. But the main reason I was always such a big fan of Rodney P and Bionic was because they really brought that London vibe to their music. At the time so many people were doing the yankee accent thing here in the UK and they were really the first to say we’re going to do this Hip-Hop stuff our way and they really made it work. I remember seeing them at gigs and they wouldn’t be able to get past the first track they were performing as people would be going crazy and they’d have to rewind the same tune about seven or eight times (laughs). But I really do have a huge amount of respect for London Posse for what they did in terms of putting the UK style of emcee-ing on the map.”

The late, great J Dilla:

“To me, Dilla is my favourite Hip-Hop producer. The feel in his music that he brought with him out of Detroit spread to influence people in New York, Philly, here in the UK, it really spread out across the whole Hip-Hop world and had a huge impact that can be heard today. As a producer myself, what he was doing with things like time-stretching was incredible to hear. I mean, he just went from making classic to classic with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to his own stuff with Slum Village and then on to Common. I literally could sit and listen to Dilla beat-tapes all day long and “Donuts” is definitely one of my favourite albums of all-time. Listening to what he was doing just before he passed, getting into using synths more and that style, you could really hear him evolving and it felt like there was still so much more to come. Dilla really was a producer’s producer.”

Ryan Proctor

“Hipology” is out now on BBE Records.

Visioneers ft. Baron & TRAC – “Back In Time” (BBE Records / 2012)

New Joint – Visioneers

Visioneers – “Come And Play In The Mily Night” (BBE Records / 2012)

Take a trip around London’s West End with this video from UK producer Marc Mac’s new Visioneers album “Hipology”.

Album Review – Visioneers

Visioneers

“Hipology”

(BBE)

Looking at the cover of the latest project from multi-talented London-based producer Marc Mac you’ll see a huge amount of visual references squeezed into a colourful collage. Afrika Bambaataa. Stax Records. J Dilla. Chopper bikes. Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”. Goose jackets. And so the list continues.

According to Mac, “Hipology” is more than just the catchy title of this new Visioneers album, it’s also a “montage of elements, events, music and fashion that make up an individual’s personal interpretation of Hip-Hop culture”, all those moments throughout our personal history that make us living, breathing cultural scrapbooks each with our own stories to tell about how Hip-Hop has influenced different facets of our lives.

This release is Marc Mac’s acknowledgement of the underlying role Hip-Hop has played, not just in the days of his 80s youth, but also throughout his musical career, even when exploring other genres such as drum & bass as one-half of the award-winning 4hero duo. But that said, that doesn’t mean that “Hipology” is a straight-forward Hip-Hop album in the typical beats-and-rhymes sense. Instead, Mac uses this opportunity to craft a number of instrumentals that draw on the influences that helped Hip-Hop’s founding fathers lay the musical blueprint of the culture, from breakbeats to other sounds such as jazz and Afro-Latin funk.

Opening with the short intro “Dial In”, a flashback to early-80s NY Hip-Hop radio, the sense of nostalgia continues on the mellow walk down memory lane “Back In Time” featuring emcees Baron and TRAC. Weaving their rhymes over a soulful blend of live drums, guitars and horns, the duo reminisce on the days of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Saturday morning cartoons and having to be inside the house before it got dark, admitting how as adults now dealing with the pressures of daily life it’d be “kinda nice to have a slice of innocence again.”

The sparkling jazz funk of “Ice Cream On My Kicks” evokes thoughts of laid-back, sun-splashed days with its combination of subtle percussion and old-school keyboards, whilst the aptly-titled “Shine” features New York’s John Robinson dropping positive lyrical vibrations and pledging “loyal allegiance to this divine culture” over an organic, piano-led sonic backdrop.

Taking it back to the days when the likes of Kool Herc and Bam were digging in the crates at Bronx block parties, Mac and his crew of musicians do an impeccable job of recreating Johnny Pate’s 70s classic “Shaft In Africa (Addis)” before tackling the Incredible Bongo Band’s original b-boy anthem “Apache”, with the punchy “Battle Dub” version staying faithful to the arrangement of the timeless original whilst adding a little extra twist here and there.

Canada’s Notes To Self detail their experiences of artistic struggle on the brilliant “Oil & Water”, the last of the album’s three vocal cuts, whilst the relentlessly funky “Jungle Green Outlines” sounds like a lost track from a classic 70s blaxploitation soundtrack album, with its guitar licks, sharp horn stabs and slick bassline conjuring up dramatic visions of car chases,  smooth-talking players and blown-out afros.

An exciting and unpredictable journey, “Hipology” finds Mac succeeding in his mission to pull together his Hip-Hop-related influences into a superbly-executed display of musicianship that mixes old-school sounds with a new-school approach.

And the beat goes on…

Ryan Proctor

Visioneers – “Shaft In Africa (Addis)” (BBE / 2011)

New Joint – T.R.A.C.

T.R.A.C. – “Like The Heavens” (BBE / 2011)

Produced by 4Hero’s Marc Mac and taken from the album “The Network”.

New Joint – Ty

Ty – “Emotions” (BBE / 2010)

Taken from the forthcoming album “Special Kind Of Fool”.

Freddie Foxxx Interview (Originally Posted On StreetCred.Com Oct 20th 2008)

The term ‘Hip-Hop legend’ is one that’s thrown around a little too easily nowadays. With here-today-gone-tomorrow rappers currently claiming legendary status before their first mix-CD has even hit the streets, the criteria an artist must meet in order to be considered worthy of the title has obviously changed drastically in recent times. Freddie Foxxx, however, is an MC who has earned his stripes the old-fashioned way, through hard-work, determination and a love of making raw, emotionally-charged hardcore Hip-Hop.

With over 20 years in the game, Freddie’s career is perfect “Behind The Music” documentary material. Dropping a 12″ single in 1986 as a member of Supreme Force, the man also known as Bumpy Knuckles went on to work with Rakim’s former right-hand man Eric B. on his debut major label album, 1989’s “Freddie Foxxx Is Here”. The 90s saw the New York giant’s rep grow infinitely bigger, with Freddie entering into a short-lived feud with the Bronx’s Ultramagnetic MCs, his shelved “Crazy Like A Foxxx” album for Flavor Unit Records becoming one of the decade’s most sought-after unreleased projects, and show-stopping guest appearances on tracks from Kool G. Rap, Naughty By Nature, BDP and Gang Starr establishing the gruff-voiced wordsmith as a true cameo king.

In more recent years Foxxx has remained busy on the independent circuit, releasing 2000’s well-received “Industry Shakedown” album (followed a few years later by the equally potent “Konexion”) whilst appearing on projects from Pete Rock, De La Soul and former rap rival Kool Keith. This summer longstanding fans of Freddie were finally rewarded when the rapper dusted off the master tapes of his infamous “Crazy Like A Foxxx” project and released a dual-disc package on Fat Beats which included both the 1993 demo version of the album (produced by D.I.T.C.’s Showbiz, Lord Finesse and Buckwild) and the tweaked 1994 Flavor Unit version.

Often thought to be as aggressive in person as he is in his rhymes, Bumpy Knuckles kicked it with StreetCred.Com to talk about his new-but-old album, recording with rap greats, and his sometimes-misunderstood persona.

Ryan Proctor: During the intro to the recently released D.I.T.C. version of “Crazy Like A Foxxx” you mention that Flavor Unit turned it down when you originally submitted the project back in the 90s. Did they give you particular reasons as to why they didn’t want to release that version of the album?

Freddie Foxxx: When I turned in “Crazy Like A Foxxx” Flavor Unit felt that it was too dark for what they were looking for in terms of the marketing strategy they had planned for me. Back then Flavor Unit had already been involved with big radio records like Zhane’s “Hey Mr. DJ” and Naughty By Nature’s “Hip-Hop Hooray”. My sound at the time was very different to that, so the label turned down the original “Crazy Like A Foxxx” and I went back into the studio and made some more melodic sounding tracks, which was the final version they accepted.

RP: When you went back into the studio to record new material, did you feel like you were being forced to compromise your original vision of the album?

FF: It was more about keeping the concept of the album intact for me. If you notice, some of the tracks on both versions are the same. So to me, what I was talking about on the album was more important to me than the musical underlay I was saying it on. I was more concerned about getting my message across. I wanted people to feel exactly what I was going through in 1993 / 1994 and how I felt as a young man growing up in America. So I just said ‘Okay let me try and do this differently’ in terms of the production the label wanted.

But I was so in love with the original D.I.T.C. version that once I retained the masters and started getting emails from fans saying they wanted to hear it, I had to put the album out. I know there’s been a bootleg version going around for some years now that somebody took from the demo cassette, but the quality of that wasn’t very clear. So I wanted to finally put “Crazy Like A Foxxx” out properly and let the fans know that it was coming from the original source.

RP: Prior to recording “Crazy Like A Foxxx” in the early 90s you released your debut album “Freddie Foxxx Is Here” in 1989 on MCA Records. Did you have a different mindset going into recording “Crazy…” than when you made your first album?

FF: There was a lot that went on in my life between those albums. There was a lot of disappointment because I had high expectations for my first album. I was only young at the time and I thought that once you had a record deal you’d have access to work with all your favorite artists and everything else that comes with a major deal, but that just wasn’t the case. After my first album I went back into the streets and started getting an education there, so by the time I went into recording “Crazy Like A Foxxx” I was so full of a different type of information that it just changed my whole thought process.

RP: When you look back on the material contained on “Crazy Like A Foxxx” and then compare it to the music you’re making today, how do you feel you’ve developed as an artist over the years?

FF: I’m one of those MCs who if I’m going through some turmoil, if I’m angry or happy about something, I’ll write about my feelings. My passion is in my work, so if I get on a track and I’m screaming through the record people know that’s real emotion they’re hearing. I put my genuine emotions in my music, which is what separates me from a lot of other artists because too many cats are scared to really be real on a record so there’s no believability in what they’re saying. I always try to give people the best of what I can do as an artist and put all of the passion and emotion I’m feeling at a particular moment into the music I’m recording. I’ve done that since the beginning of my career and that’s still how I make music today. My format doesn’t change, I just update my rhyme style and stay on top of my skills.

RP: You’ve gained a reputation over the years as being a very aggressive and volatile individual. Do you feel that, even now, you’re still viewed as being a “mad rapper” type of character?

FF: Exactly. Absolutely (laughs). People have painted a picture of me, and I wouldn’t say that I don’t take responsibility for that to some extent, but sometimes you expect people to think along broader lines than they do. It seems like my angry side intrigues people more than my calmer side. It is what it is and I’ve had to learn to rock with that.

The media contributes to that as well; they’ll always describe me as being an angry rapper and use pictures of me with a mad face. So sometimes if I try to do something outside of that musically it doesn’t always gel with people, so the dilemma I go through as a recording artist is do I just stick to doing what people think I am? Or do I keep trying to push that wall down so they can see there’s more to Freddie Foxxx than they think? It’s always a puzzle to me.

I take time out to look at interviews that people have done with me on the blogs and whatever. I’ll read the comments people put up about me, and sometimes I’ll even answer if someone’s taken something I’ve said out of context. People are quick to critique what they don’t know, so sometimes the only way to deal with that is to step to it and say ‘Nah, that’s not what it is.’

One thing I’ve always felt I needed to do was keep my brain fed with new information. A lot of that comes from being a kid whose mother was very strict about me reading a lot. As a kid, every time I got an ass-whipping because I’d done something wrong, part of my punishment was to read. So I’ve always tried to keep up with new information, especially being in this music business, because once you develop a reputation or people decide they think they know who you are, you’ve gotta learn how to get around that intellectually and in a smart way. But I think my temper has gotten the better of me a lot of times and caused people to back away from me without really getting a chance to know me as a person.

RP: Do you think that’s something that’s possibly held your career back over the years?

FF: You know what? It’s been a gift and a curse. Eventually you can become who the people think you are if you’re not focused, and sometimes you have to just fallback because there’s no defense from the truth. I mean, if you do something to me, I’m going to step up and say what I say. If you ask me a question, I’m going to give you an honest answer. It might not always be what people wanna hear, but it will be my genuine opinion. I was raised to always give an honest opinion and I’ve always respected honesty. That’s why I don’t trip out when I hear people saying they don’t like Freddie Foxxx because I don’t expect everyone to think that what I do is to their liking.

I’m always very realistic about things, including my career. I believe there was a time that was right for me to strike, but my temper got the better of me and people still charge me with that. People feel like they’ve gotta be careful around me, but I’m not an animal and I’m not someone who doesn’t know how to handle their business. But I’ve had to learn to deal with the perception people have of me in order for me to do what I need to do as an artist, because my main objective is to make music, it’s not to entertain what people think about me. Once I got past that hump, then I became a better individual.

RP: Throughout your career, you’ve collaborated with some of the greatest MCs of all-time, from Kool G. Rap and KRS-One to Naughty By Nature’s Treach and Guru of Gang Starr. Have you ever gone into a studio and felt intimidated by the level of lyrical skill a particular artist was bringing to the table?

FF: Nah (laughs). I wouldn’t make a song with anyone I didn’t think could put pressure on me. A lot of people have called me to do songs with them, but I felt they weren’t qualified as MCs to be able to put pressure on me. Like, I love being in the studio with KRS-One because he says so much stuff in a tricky type of way that you can’t do nothing but think that he’s getting at you (laughs). We just recorded an album together called “Royalty Check” and there’s a track on there where KRS says ‘We’re all foxes, but you’re more Vivica, I’m more Jamie.’ So I can’t help but think he’s trying to be funny. I’ll laugh about it, but by the same token I’ll turn around and say something back in my next rhyme. But we don’t get into some whole angry beef situation about it, because that’s just what MCs do to make each other better in the studio.

I think someone like Kool G. Rap is such an incredible MC that people expect him to just body you on a record, so I needed that type of pressure to bring my A-game when we did “Money In The Bank” for his “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” album, to at least make people say ‘Yo, I kinda like both their verses.’ G. Rap saying a better verse than me wouldn’t have been a problem, the problem comes when someone totally annihilates you on a record to the point where your name isn’t even mentioned in the discussion. So far I don’t think I’ve had a strike against my name like that and I’ve never felt pressure from any MC that I didn’t want.

Even if someone didn’t think I had the hottest verse on a record, the fact that I’m in the debate tells me that I did my job. It’s when it’s a hands-down decision that the other guy came out on top, that’s when you know you’re in trouble (laughs).

RP: I remember reading back in the day that the reason your part is so long on “Ruff, Ruff” from BDP’s 1992 album “Sex And Violence” is because KRS-One had actually finished his rhyme and was doing graffiti in his notepad but you thought he was still writing.

FF: Yeah, yeah. You know what happened? I wasn’t sure if KRS wanted me to talk reckless on the record or not, so I tried to come with this pro-black, uplifting rhyme. Then when I said the rhyme KRS was like, ‘I like that, but that ain’t the Freddie Foxxx that I wanna hear.’ I’m like ‘What you mean?’ He said, ‘I wanna hear the Freddie Foxxx that everyone’s talking about, the MC-murdering, gun-slinging Freddie Foxxx.’ I was like ‘Oh word!’

I wrote my “Ruff, Ruff” verse right there in like 15 to 20 minutes. When I said the second rhyme that ended up on the record, that was the beginning of our friendship right there. KRS was like ‘That’s what I’m talking about.’

RP: Do you have any other memories of working with KRS on that particular album?

FF: I remember when we recorded the album’s intro “The Original Way”; I didn’t go in the booth to spit my verse. The engineer plugged the microphone in outside in the control room, so we were just handing each other the mic like we’re at a party right there in an open room to get that live sound. It was amazing and the idea was crazy. Kenny Parker was in the studio and me and KRS were just passing the mic back-and-forth. That whole joint was just us freestyling.

The consistency of that “Sex And Violence” album reminded me why I jumped into this game and stuck with this craft for so long because KRS gave me an education in a whole different style of rhyming with that record. When I worked with G. Rap I learned a lot about work ethic. The same thing working with people like Treach, 2Pac and Chuck D, I took something from all those experiences.

That was the great thing about that time, because I actually worked with those people before it was normal for someone to just email you a verse. I was actually able to form first-hand working relationships in the studio with these people. I remember I sat in on a Run-DMC session with Eric B. one time just as a fan, and just to see them working was an inspiration. At that point I’d never even been into a proper recording booth, so when I saw those guys in the studio I was just like ‘Wow! This is what I wanna do.’ I wanted to be behind the mic like DMC, who I thought had the craziest, craziest voice in the world.

RP: There seems to be a real generation gap developing in Hip-Hop with a lot of older artists openly criticizing younger cats. As someone who’s been a part of the culture for many years, what’s your take on that?

FF: Some of the criticism is warranted, some of it’s not. When people are given the opportunity to fully explain themselves, you can see where they’re coming from, but some of it’s just straight hate. Back in the day Hip-Hop was more about lyrics and people wanted to hear MCs spitting dope rhymes. It was all about the rapper back then and it was the rapper who built the personality of a record.

Back then it seemed like artists just had a more creative approach to their overall presentation, particularly where live performances where concerned. I mean, nothing was bigger than seeing Doug E. Fresh climbing out of a globe onstage, or seeing Slick Rick sitting on a throne, Eric B’s turntables rising out of the stage, or LL’s giant radio. Performing was so much a big part of what artists did back then and I think that had a lot to do with fans getting excited about a particular artist because they had a more personal relationship with them than they do today.

When it started to become more about the producer and the rappers became secondary to who was actually producing a track, then you started hearing less quality work from some MCs. But I think the best advice someone can give these new rappers is for them to dig deep into themselves and find something more to talk about than just the normal superficial stupidness.

The business has changed to such an extent now that it’s cheapened the worth of the music. There’s nothing special about rappers anymore like there used to be. Back in the day there had to be something extraordinary about you as an artist in order for you to be considered special by the fans, now there’s such an over saturation of mediocre artists which definitely isn’t good for the music.

RP: What do you think can be done to encourage communication between the different generations of Hip-Hop artists?

FF: I think they need to bring the seminars back. Back in the day, I was going to Jack The Rapper and How Can I Be Down? and that’s how a lot of new artists were getting their information from the older artists. Since they stopped doing the seminars, it’s been more difficult to mix the culture. I was able to meet people like Melle Mel and Afrika Bambaataa and talk to those guys as an upcoming artist. I think there needs to be more events like that today, because to me those seminars were a huge learning experience because you were able to see all these artists who were already in the industry sitting on discussion panels giving you jewels. There needs to be more forums and platforms for discussion, but everyone’s so damn lazy just sitting on a computer all day long, and they’re not looking at informative websites, they’re looking at gossip websites and that kinda shit.

RP: Do you think the internet has hurt Hip-Hop?

FF: Nowadays people are quick to dismiss new music. Like a guy will download a new song, but then two days later when someone else plays it they’re like ‘I’ve heard that already – what’s next?’ It could be a good record, but once they’ve heard it they want something else straight away. It makes me wonder what the fans are listening to or what they actually want from the music. That can mess with your creative process if you’re not focused because some artists are so unsure about what people want to hear, they end up doing anything trying to please everyone. The other problem is that a lot of today’s fans are aspiring artists themselves, so they’re listening to new music and saying ‘I could make a better album than that’ which stops people from fully supporting or enjoying the music.

RP: So what’s next for Freddie Foxxx?

FF: I’m just going to continue to make rap music the way I make rap music. I don’t want to try and fit into an already overcrowded space. I love being in my own lane as an artist and I’m someone who can actually say they have a genuine fan base so I’m not mad at that. When I get emails from fans telling me they’ve been following me for however many years, that confirms to me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, which is making Hip-Hop music the way I think it should be made.

Ryan Proctor

New Joint – Madlib / Guilty Simpson

Madlib ft. Guilty Simpson – “Blow The Horns On Em” ( BBE / 2008 )

Taken from Madlib’s forthcoming album “WLIB AM: King Of The Wigflip”.

Who I Be – Katalyst

The Australian-based producer talks about his early forays into making music and the concept behind his new album “What’s Happening” (see review below).

 

Triple Darkness / Katalyst / Kail Album Reviews (Originally Printed In Shook / Beat Generation Cover / Spring 2008)

Triple Darkness

Anathema

(Higher Heights)

 

Delivering one of the best hip hop albums of 2008 so far, London’s Triple Darkness definitely appear to be on a mission to prove that the art of true lyricism is alive and well amongst the next generation of MCs to rep for the UK rap scene.

A captivating combination of grimy street imagery, social commentary and intriguing historical references, the unapologetically hardcore Anathema finds Cyrus Malachi, Nasheron and Melanin9 filtering their experiences of inner-city British life through a shared intelligence and wisdom that reaches far beyond the trio’s relatively youthful years. The haunting ‘Machinations’ strikes a powerful balance between the harsh realities of urban strife and the crew’s quest for knowledge and spiritual salvation, whilst ‘Snakes & Ladders’ features an incredible performance from Cyrus, with the gruff microphone fiend touching on subjects as diverse as slavery, Egyptology and gun crime. Elsewhere, the pounding ‘Pyramid Wars’ and ‘Thousand Cut Torture’ each display the group’s superior battle rap abilities, taunting the competition with seemingly effortless examples of vivid and intricate wordplay.

Backed by the atmospheric production of Chemo and Beat Butcha (all heavy drums, sweeping strings and nimble piano loops), Triple Darkness have succeeded in creating a poignant soundtrack for today’s troubled times. The revolution starts here.

Ryan Proctor

 

Katalyst

What’s Happening

(BBE)

 

Hailing from the warm climes of Australia, producer Katalyst is sure to leave a mark on the global hip hop community with his first long-player for the ever-reliable BBE imprint. Already a respected name in his homeland, Katalyst presents a vibrant mixture of sounds and styles here, genre-hopping with ease whilst remaining rooted in the dusty-fingered tradition of boom-bap beats.

London-based vocalist Steve Spacek compliments the smouldering soul vibes of ‘How Bout Us’, whilst New York underground mainstay J-Live critiques the current state of hip hop culture on ‘Killing Ya Self’, his intelligent observations given extra weight thanks to a pounding guitar break. Elsewhere, Katalyst deftly turns his production talents to reggae (‘Over & Over’) and bluesy funk (‘Say What You Feel’). The Aussie music man also manages to address socio-political themes on instrumental cuts such as the claustrophobic ‘What Are We Talking About?’ thanks to some well-placed dialogue samples.

Although guests such as Brit rapper Yungun deliver impressive performances, it’s Katalyst who remains the star of What’s Happening, his work behind the boards providing this invigorating album with its dynamic sonic backbone.

Ryan Proctor

 

Kail

True Hollywood Squares

(Big Dada)

 

Over the years, the likes of Ice-T, The Pharcyde and Snoop have all given us their own personal vision of Los Angeles. However, while those artists may have defined the sun-splashed LA of the 80s and 90s, in 2008 South Central’s Kail is here to offer a new millennium perspective on the City Of Angels.

A satirical take on the cult American television show of its title, True Hollywood Squares mercilessly plays with Tinseltown’s extremes, from the star-studded glitz of Beverly Hills to the gritty streets of Compton. Kail demonstrates an impressive writing ability throughout, utilising a collection of colourful characters to tell a variety of stories ranging from the funny and the tragic to the downright strange. ‘The Realest Motherfuckin’ Tour Guide Ever’ finds the sharp lyricist introducing wide-eyed visitors to corrupt police, drive-by shootings and wannabe porn stars over creeping, drum-heavy production. ‘Peter Pennyworth’ highlights the plight of a former casting agent now homeless on the same streets he once cruised in flashy cars, while ‘Cola (The Rhapsody)’ offers tongue-in-cheek ghetto romance over an old-school soul groove.

Combining street swagger, observational humour and a leftfield worldview, Kail provides a unique way of looking at LA’s many vices and sins. True Hollywood Squares isn’t an album that will sit comfortably with everyone, but it is an entertaining break from the norm.

Ryan Proctor

Old To The New Q&A – Mr. Thing

Having gained notoriety in the late-90s as a member of the formidable Scratch Perverts deejay collective, London-based deck-wrecker Mr. Thing has always refused to allow the glare of the industry spotlight to distract him from his musical goals, with the 2000 DMC champ choosing instead to remain true to his passion for playing (and making) good quality Hip-Hop, as well as his addiction to unearthing dusty, often forgotten breaks.

As a producer Thing has worked successfully with homegrown emcees such as Yungun and Life, whilst as a deejay the down-to-earth vinyl junkie’s near-flawless skills have seen him in constant demand at club nights up and down the UK.

It’s the combination of Thing’s ear for great music and technical skill that no doubt encouraged the BBE label to offer him the opportunity to put together his own compilation, the recently released “Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing”. Having already collaborated with the legendary DJ Premier on the label’s 2005 release “The Kings Of Hip-Hop”, it was only right that the imprint should give the respected wax-spinner the chance to helm a solo project.

An eclectic mix of gems discovered during countless hours of digging, bartering and haggling in record stores, charity shops and garage sales across the globe, “Strange Breaks…” is definitely the work of an individual who can hear a back-of-the-stack banger from a mile away.

Here, Mr. Thing momentarily blows the dust off his fingers to give Old To The New a brief insight into the art of looking for the perfect beat.

What was your selection process when it came to choosing the tracks that ended up on “Strange Breaks…”?

When Pete from BBE first put the idea to me about doing the comp I had to go in for a meeting about it, so I decided to make up a compilation CD of the kind of thing I thought would be cool, like some covers of famous breaks, funky reggae tunes, funky rock breaks, all kinds of odd stuff I liked and had found over the years. I gave it to Pete at the meeting, and literally about 75% of what was on that CD made it onto the comp. We had clearance issues with some of the more obscure stuff that’s now owned by major labels so I went back and dug out a few more tracks. I wanted to put a broad mix of stuff on the album so it wasn’t all one kind of thing, so you’ve got some library music, reggae, funk, rock, soul, and even religious music on there! It’s not so much mega rare “trophy” records, but just interesting stuff that you could find if you went out digging and were persistent enough.

You’re an experienced crate digger now – what tips would you offer people who want to start digging themselves?

I would start the way I started out, going through the record collections of your family and friends. I was pretty lucky because three of my uncles had pretty big and diverse collections for me to check out. A lot of it is detective work and you get to learn what labels, musicians and producers to look out for. I’m a cover versions nut, so I always look for versions of tunes that I liked in the first place and sometimes you get results that way. Always take a portable record player with you, although some dealers or shop owners are a bit funny about you listening to stuff (“You either want it or you don’t!”), so it’s good to ask if it’s cool to use them. But if not and the record’s cheap enough, it’s always worth a go!

Yungun & Mr. Thing – “Forget Me Not” (Silent Soundz / 2006)

Do you have any amusing digging stories you could share?

I have a gross story from driving home from digging the other day. I was stopped at a roundabout and I looked over and saw a woman having a dump at the side of the road with a can of super strength in her hand in the middle of the day!

But other than that I always seem to attract nutters on a dig, especially in charity shops, but they’re not really funny, just scary! One guy clocked me in one shop and was really staring at me. I went to the next shop and he was there, same thing again, then the next shop. So I went somewhere else in the town, went to another spot and he was in there too and then he started shouting at me to stop following him around! He was a big f**ker too, so I just left and let him get on with it. The mad thing was that he was buying books not records!

Are there any records out there that you’re still looking for?

I recently got my top want “Moody” by Gentle Rain, or whichever way round it really is as I don’t know two people who can tell me for certain. I was looking for that for maybe fifteen years! But I’ve got a little book I take out with me that’s got my wants list in, but there’s a couple of big records I’m really after which are “Ball Of Eyes” by the 70s Belgian band Placebo, and I’d also love to replace my copy of “Sexy Coffee Pot” by Tony Alvon & The Belairs – I had that but some bastard stole it! They’re both three figure records and I just can’t find them cheap enough and can’t afford the record dealer prices.

Mr Thing In The Mix On DJ MK’s Kiss FM Rap Show

What’s your most treasured piece of vinyl and why?

I think my Gentle Rain LP just because I was looking for it for so long. But other than that, at the total other end of the collecting spectrum is my Al Green “I’m Still In Love With You” LP. That was one of the first things I found when I used to dig at my local indoor market in Sevenoaks. It’s totally battered and someone’s written all over the cover, but it’s one of the first and best break LPs I found before I started to really find good good stuff. I’ve found and sold many copies of it since but I’ve always kept my original one.

Any new production projects coming up?

I’ve just finished up a track for Jehst’s next album which I’m really happy with, and I’ve got two tracks with Life that are next on my to-do list. I’ve got a few other bits on the go that are still only in the demo stage, but my main ongoing project is the mixtape I’m doing with Yungun. We’re just getting the last couple of bits mixed, then I’ll mix it and we’re gonna put it out there for free as a promo thing. It’s basically a bunch of remixes and new versions of songs off our “Grown Man Business” LP and a few exclusives. When we’re done with it you’ll be the first to know!

Ryan Proctor

These Are The Breaks! – Mr. Thing / DJ MK

Mr. Thing deep in the mix promoting his new BBE compilation “Strange Breaks & Mr. Thing” on DJ MK’s Kiss FM rap show.

Feel The Force – Tha 4orce

Longstanding UK rapper / deejay / producer Tha 4orce talks about his forthcoming BBE album “Mind Tha Gap Anthems”.