I’ve put quite a lot of work into the blog this week, so today I’m just going to throw up Sconeboy’s latest mix rather than a full post. Fortunately for you this is no bad thing: this is straight bangin’. Here’s the tracklist:
1. Justice System – Dedication To Bambaataa (Diamond D remix)
2. Yall So Stupid – Van Full of Pakistans
3. Red Hot Lover Tone – Give It Up (Diamond D remix)
4. Bush Babees – We Run Things (It’s Like Dat)
5. The Roots – Push Up Ya Lighter
6. Large Professor – ijuswannachill
7. De La Soul – Dinininit
8. Buckshot Lafonque – Breakfast At Denny’s (Rap Version)
9. Crooklyn Dodgers – Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers (’95 version)
10. Busta Rhymes – So Hardcore
11. Heather B – If Heads Only Knew
12. J Treds – Make It Happen
13. Lords of the Underground – What I’m After (Remix w/ Keith Murray)
14. Pete Rock – 914 (ft. Sheek Louche and Styles P)
15. Gangstarr – The Piece Maker
16. Rakim – When I Be On The Mic
17. M Boogie – Patience (ft. Born Allah)
18. Erick Sermon – Stay Real
19. Rampage – Beware Of The Rampsack
20. Mobb Deep – Survival Of The Fittest (remix & original)
21. Street Smartz – Metal Thangz (ft. O.C. and Pharoahe Monch)
Quality selections and tight mixing: this is excellent. Stay tuned this week, we may see another Sconeboy selections post before too long…
Filed under: FDB Mixes
For those of you new to FDB, I did start a series of instrument themed compilations back in January that I intended to keep up relatively regularly. However, what with work and other commitments, the ‘FDB Guitar Mix’ has been on the back-burner for a while and is only now seeing the light of day. I’ve had a tracklist planned for ages, but I’ve scrawled it down on various bits of paper that have inevitably ended up going astray and as such it has been through a number of different incarnations. Anyway, here it is:
1. Prince Ali – Incistroduction
2. UMCs – Woman B Out
3. Red Hot Lover Tone – Lil’ Boy Blu
4. Main Source – Atom
5. Ultimate Force – C’mon
6. Brand Nubian – Slow Down
7. Show & A.G. – Next Level (Original Mix)
8. Q-Tip – Let’s Ride
9. Mad Skillz – The Nod Factor
10. PUTS – Plunken ‘Em
11. Oktober – NYC
12. Danger Mouse & Gemini – The Only One
13. Ed O.G. – Love Comes And Goes
14. INI – What You Say
15. Lord Finesse – Bud Mutha
16. The Roots – What They Do
17. Common – I Used To Love H.E.R.
What I love about a good guitar sample is that it clearly harks back to hip hop’s foundations in funk, and as a result, tunes that utilise them often have an upbeat and positive vibe that feels fitting as we head into Spring (finger’s crossed) in the UK. Although I’m not going to break this down song by song, there are a few cuts here that deserve a special mention. I’ve already commented on P.A.’s ‘I Miss 1994′ release on FDB, but given that I have been killing the intro so regularly of late, I felt it fitting to kick off the compilation with the album opener, ‘Incistroduction’. Although the release as a whole is not mind-blowing, I think this beat is excellent and does a good job of incorporating a mellow guitar loop into a heavy beat. Oktober’s ‘NYC’ is a straight up banger off his ‘Projekt: Building’ release which in all honesty I was a little disappointed with, but there is no question that this joint has that infectious head nodding factor that should appeal to the majority of readers here at FDB. Finally, Ultimate Force’s ‘C’mon’ is off their shelved album ‘I’m Not Playin” that sees an official release at the end of this month: 1990, Diamond D production… need I say more? Get it when it drops.
All in, I’m pretty happy with this compilation and indeed the series as a whole (I’ve included the links for all four in case you missed them first time around), and I hope to continue with this idea in the future, time-permitting. If you’re feeling it, drop a comment and I may just set aside a bit of time to do the series justice over the coming months… it’s in your hands.
FDB Guitar Mix
FDB Piano Mix
FDB Strings Mix
FDB Horn Mix
As with the other FDB compilations, I’m taking the opportunity to throw up something a little different that falls in line with the theme of the mix. Nick Drake has garnered a massive cult following here in the UK, perhaps in part due to his tragic and untimely death, but also because his music is of such beauty that it still holds resonance close to 40 years after its initial composition. I remember seeing ‘Pink Moon’ at the top of numerous music press lists of ‘great albums that never make the top 100 albums lists’ and as a result I bought it in my third year of university. Drake suffered from depression, and it is said that he recorded this album facing a wall during late-night solitary sessions only to walk into Island records one day and dump it on their desk. This is reflected in the album’s stripped down purity: this is largely Drake’s voice, his guitar and little else. I’m not usually a massive fan of folk, but this is undeniably beautiful music that I strongly recommend. It’s pretty far removed from hip hop and may not be your bag: give it a try and let me know.
Filed under: FDB Mixes
Back up in it. Man, nothing worse than non-compliant technology. Anyway, I’m back from a nice weekend and fingers crossed blogger seems to be back on side: thanks for your patience. Planned to hit you with this compilation on Saturday but here it is to lift you out of your Monday blues: the ‘From Da Bricks Strings Mix’. I have been happy with all of the entries in my compilation series so far, but I think this might be the best. A string section can add untold flava to a hip hop joint, and is perhaps the most versatile of sample choices. Depending on its usage, it can either provide a dark and moody vibe or contribute to a straight up banger; I hope that this provides a cross-section of both. Here’s the tracklist:
1. Nas – Nas Is Like
2. Nine – Whutcha Want?
3. Society – Yes ‘n’ Deed
3. Royce Da 5′ 9” – Boom
5. Gangstarr – Code Of The Streets
6. Pete Rock – Tha Game
7. Real Live – The Gimmicks
8. KRS One – A Friend
9. Mobb Deep – Animal Instinct
10. Heltah Skeltah – Letha Brainz Blow
11. Black Moon – Shit Iz Real
12. Jay Z – Bring It On
13. Supreme NTM – Tout N’est Pas Si Facile
14. Pharoah Monch – The Truth
15. AZ – Mo Money, Mo Murder ‘Homicide’
The majority of these cuts are string-heavy in that they feature very prominent samples, although some are more subtle, particularly ‘Shit Iz Real’ with its creeping strings at the end of every bar during the verse sections and ‘Tout N’est Pas Si Facile’ which features sweeping strings in support of the horn loop and vocal refrain during the chorus section of the track. All of the big producers feature here: Showbiz, Diamond D, K-Def, Premier and Pete Rock, although Primo deserves a special mention providing the beats for no less than four of the selections made. This happened as a total accident: I had a few tracks in mind, but then just listened to a few albums over the weekend and made my selections. Perhaps this demonstrates Premier’s dominance in the field of string samples, or perhaps it is simply a coincidence. Any nominations for the ‘King of Strings’ gratefully received. I also want to mention that at the end of the AZ cut there is a non-strings track: I can’t do anything about this as it is added onto the end of ‘Mo Money…’ on ‘Doe Or Die’. However, the strength of this track warrants the brief deviation from the theme. Hope you enjoy it.
Ralph Vaughan Williams
As with the previous two mixes, I’m taking the opportuniy to throw up something a little different to complement my compilation. I know next to nothing about classical music, although my Dad has a relatively extensive knowledge of the genre (although this is of course an exceptionally broad musical spectrum). One of the pieces that has always left an impression on me has been ‘The Lark Ascending’, an incredibly beautiful piece of music that is led by a violin, hence its inclusion in today’s post. Composed in 1914, it is one of Vaughan Williams’ pastoral works, and there seems to be something quintessentially English about this piece. Anyway, I’m not going to pretend I know much about this at all, and it may not be something that you are interested in listening to. However, if you feel like something drastically different from your regular hip hop fix and want to appreciate the emotional power of strings in an orchestral context then give it a go. Who knows, you may never look back…
My Daily Blog Run
I thought I would also briefly give props to a selection of the blogs that I check out every day. Given that I spend a fair amount of time writing my own, I have had to streamline my time spent on other blogs. Of course, there are a load of quality blogs out there, but these are the blogs that I check out daily without fail. The key distinction for me here is that these blogs feature extensive, intelligent and unpretentious writing; a real pulling factor for me.
Wake Your Daughter Up – wakeyourdaughterup.blogspot.com
This was one of the blogs that really got me into the idea of starting my own, and it remains one of the best in the world of cyberspace. Although there are other contributors this is mainly run by Travis who has an extensive knowledge of hip hop and he loves sharing it. It is also one of the longest standing blogs out there. If you haven’t been there already, wake your sleepy arse up and peep it.
Poisonous Paragraphs – poisonousparagraphs.blogspot.com
Dart Adams has only recently come onto the scene, but it is a fantastic addition to the blogging community. Dart drops science on loads of classic ish as well as the wider world of hip hop, with articles covering film, music videos and the culture in general. His knowledge is extensive and he writes well. If you are into reading some decent hip hop literature then check it out.
Cold Rock Da Spot – coldrockdaspot.blogspot.com
Jaz has only recently started up his blog, but it is dope, with some phat compilations and written material to boot. Again, there is a lack of pretence about this blog that appeals to me: this is somebody sharing their knowledge and passion for the genre with no front whatsoever. Check it out and show some love.
Biff Hop – biffhop.blogspot.com
Another veteran of the scene, Biff’s hip hop spot is also one of the best blogs out there. Of late it seems to be run mainly by Alley Al who regularly comments here at From Da Bricks. Alley has been dropping some big posts recently linked by a theme, and like all of my favourite blogs, he drops knowledge whilst doing so. This is yet another example of the quality available to those of you surfing the hip hop blog scene: get there!
sām’pəld – sampuhld.blogspot.com
I also want to briefly shine some light on a brand new blog that should turn out to be excellent. Depleted, Moyinka and The Gosub Routine have just started up sām’pəld that will feature original breaks and some comment on their usage. If the quality of basslinesanglesrhymes (Depleted’s original blog) can be replicated then this is sure to join my daily rounds. Good luck boys!
I want to reiterate that this is by no means an exclusive list of the blogs that I frequent and want to send a shout to everybody who spends time and effort in a quest to keeping real hip hop alive in 2007. I have gained a substantial amount of knowledge and pleasure from the blogging community over the last four or five months and am happy to be a part of it. Keep doing your thing people!
Filed under: FDB Mixes
My compilation today follows the same concept laid down by the FDB piano mix, except that this time the focus is horn samples. It has been a difficult task to narrow this down to fifteen tracks due to the huge range of hip hop cuts that have utilised either trumpet or sax loops (these two instruments seem to be the primary source for the majority of samples), but I am pretty happy with the final product: let me know what you think.
From simple stabs at the beginning of every four bar sequence to extended live performances, horns and hip hop go together like a cup of tea and a nice digestive biscuit. Whether making the song more mellow and laid back or providing an injection of adrenalin, some of my favourite albums of all time have been horn-heavy namely ‘Mecca And The Soul Brother’, ‘Stunts, Blunts And Hip Hop’ and ‘Runaway Slave’. There is something so damn funky about a nice horn loop, and laid over some heavy drums, hip hop doesn’t come much better. Here’s the tracklist:
1. Lords of the Underground – From Da Bricks (of course!)
2. Diamond D – Step To Me
3. Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth – Mecca And The Soul Brother
4. Eric B. and Rakim – Don’t Sweat The Technique
5. King Sun – Once Upon A Time
6. Illegal – Illegal Will Rock
7. This Is How We… – Pudgee Tha Fat Bastard feat. Kool G Rap
8. ADOR – Let It All Hang Out
9. Hard 2 Obtain – Ghetto Diamond
10. Main Source – What You Need
11. The Roots – Datskat
12. Dred Scott – Back In The Day
13. Show & AG – You Want It
14. Kurious – Leave Ya’ With This
15. Organized Konfusion – Why
Whenever I put together a compilation I never put two tracks by the same artist, although Pete Rock and Diamond D do appear twice with production credits on ‘Let I All Hang Out’ and ‘Illegal Will Rock’ respectively. I have tried to get a bit of a cross-section of horn sample usage, so for example on ‘Once Upon A Time’ there is a simple stab at the beginning of each bar, whereas on ‘Datskat’ you have an extended live sax solo that brings the tune to a close. As I said before, with such a wealth of material out there this obviously represents only a tiny fraction of what could be put together. Still, I enjoyed compiling these tunes, have had the mix in rotation for the last couple of days and hope that you will too.
With last week’s ‘FDB Piano Mix’ I threw up Ahmad Jamal’s album as it was the source for some of the samples on the compilation. This week, I’ve kind of gone the other way around, with the horn compilation inspiring me to think of some of my favourite jazz saxophonists. Although my knowledge of jazz is by no means extensive, Coltrane comes top of my list with ease. The album ‘Blue Train’ was released in 1957 and it is not only one of Coltrane’s most important and influential albums but also for the genre of jazz as a whole. In line with the horn theme for today’s post, the album features saxophone, trumpet and trombone: a veritable horn-fest. Featuring both smooth, lazy Sunday afternoon tracks (‘I’m Old Fashioned’) as well as more upbeat numbers (‘Locomotion’) this is a certified classic of the genre. Apparently, it is said that Coltrane killed jazz: he was so good that there wasn’t really any point in anybody bothering in the future as they would inevitably fall short of the mark. This is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but there is no doubting the quality of the music on this album and the importance of Coltrane within a genre from which hip hop has drawn inspiration on countless occasions.
As my knowledge of production equipment is limited, this is the last of my brief posts on hardware that is important in the world of hip hop. The SP 1200 revolutionised the way that hip hop could be put together, allowing producers the flexibility required to chop up a sample and flip it in any way that their imagination took them. Briefly re-issued in ’93 and ’97, these drum machines still change hands for considerable money secondhand due to their legendary status in hip hop circles. This was used by pretty much every hip hop producer in the late ’80s and early ’90s, eventually being eclipsed by the dawn of the MPC, a more sophisticated and verstaile piece of equipment. Its importance within the genre is demonstrated by the number of lyrical references that it has acquired over the years, name-checked in loads of classic cuts. Ultimately, the trusty SP 1200 allowed hip hop to develop into the beast that we know today: hats off to that.
I plan to post up a couple of little extras now that the equipment series (not particularly extensive I know) is done with. Fashion, graf and some other bits and pieces to come in the future: stay tuned.
Filed under: FDB Mixes
It’s a bumper weekend post here at FDB, with my first homemade compilation and something a little different in the form of Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Awakening’ album, the source for countless samples utilised by some of the genre’s finest beatmakers. The piano creates such a beautiful sound and is perhaps the most versatile instrument known to man: on what other instrument can you play ten notes all at the same time? As a result of this I have pulled together some of my favourite tracks that feature a piano sample and put them all together in the originally titled ‘From Da Bricks Piano Mix’. The tracklist is as follows:
1. UMCs – One To Grow On
2. Nas – The World Is Yours
3. Main Source – How My Man Went Down In The Game
4. Gangstarr – B.Y.S.
5. Miilkbone – Keep It Real
6. Pete Rock – The Boss
7. Jay Z – D’Evils
8. World Renown – How Nice I Am
9. Common – Resurrection
10. Da Youngstas – I’ll Make U Famous
11. Lewis Parker – 101 Pianos
12. Mr Complex – C.O.R.E. Mix
13. Group Home – Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)
14. Binary Star – Reality Check
15. Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.
The vast majority of these tunes will be well known by the majority of you but I want to give a special mention to a couple of cuts here. Miilkbone held an affiliation with Naughty By Nature and ‘Keep It Real’ is a quality example of how well piano samples can be used. With a tasty horn loop and tight snares as well this is a demonstration of how strong Jersey’s contribution to hip hop has been. World Renown’s ‘How Nice I Am’ is off their shelved LP and was produced by the mighty K-Def. I first heard it at K-Def’s website which is nicely put together with a full discography and some videos to check out as well; peep it at http://www.kdef.biz. As an aside, if anyone has this album in its entirety then please let me know. Finally, although it is probably one of the most well known tunes on this compilation, ‘Up Against Tha Wall’ ranks as one of my favourite Premier beats of all time. Back in my less knowledgable days it took me ages to find out what it was after hearing it played in the warm up session of a Souls Of Mischief gig. I was elated when I finally got a hold of it and even the undeniably wack rapping can’t take away from the quality of the beat.
The idea for the compilation came from an idea I had back in my DJing days when I thought it would be cool to make a mix that was linked thematically by instrument. This is a concept I plan to continue in the future so stay tuned over the coming weeks.
Ahmad Jamal – The Awakening
I am not usually that up on the original sources for samples as often I find myself disappointed by the tunes in their entirety. There is an interest as a result of their usage in a hip hop context but it doesn’t usually go beyond that. However, Ahmad Jamal’s album is not only the the root of both ‘Resurrection’ and ‘The World Is Yours’ along with a selection of other hip hop tracks, but is also a beautiful jazz album that is worth a listen beyond geeky sample spotting (no hating intended). Jamal was one of Miles Davis’ favourite pianists, and his style is subtle yet highly engaging. Check this recording of the the trio in 1959 and imagine yourself in a dimly lit and smokey club with a drink in one hand and cigarette in the other. These old jazz cats had style and grace by the pound.
The track ‘Awakening’ also features the break utilised by Da Beatminerz on the track ‘Change’ by Shadez of Brooklyn. If you have the 12” then please drop me a line. I wanted to include it in the mix but don’t own it: help me out people!
As far as equipment related to hip hop, there aren’t many pieces of technology that are as essential as the Technics turntable. Originally manuactured in 1972, these tables have been through several incarnations with the addition of a couple of gimmicky features but basically these industry standard decks have remained the same for over 30 years. Although there are now equally capable turntables out there, particularly the Vestax range as well as the more recent Numark models, no other deck has the appeal of the Technics for me. The design is classic and the durability is untouchable. It could be suggested that the development of scratching and juggling techniques would have been significantly delayed if it wasn’t for these babies: if you own some then you know what I’m talking about. In fact, just writing about them brings me back to my torn attitude towards vinyl whereby I would love to own a massive collection but don’t have the finances to support the addiction. Who knows, maybe in the future I will return to the format but for the moment I am a CD man. I will be throwing up a few more posts on equipment essential to the genre so once again, keep checkin’ into FDB. Enjoy the weekend folks.