FDB Archives
June 30, 2013, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

With Google Reader finally shutting down tomorrow it was time to get as much of the content back up on this site as possible, as Reader was acting as my own form of archiving.

What you see here is the majority of the content I produced between the end of 2006 and July 2009 when I moved to New York City.  Use the different categories on the left hand side to navigate through the content.  All links are dead.

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Where I’ve Been & Where I’m Going
July 13, 2009, 3:24 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

So what the hell has happened to FDB in 2009? Well, as I’ve commented on several times one of the major changes in my life this year has been the purchase of my first property.  This has been stressful and time-consuming but worth it given I’m now on that infamous ladder.  Solicitors + estate agents + insurance companies = no time for blogging.

More significantly, I’m also on the brink of leaving the UK.  Back in January I went through a relatively grueling interview process for a job at the United Nations International School in New York City.  The beginning of the year was fraught with preparation and worry, as were the following couple of months as I waited for news on whether I had got the job or not.  I did.  In just over two weeks I will be in New York City on the hunt for apartments and gearing up for the greatest adventure of my life.  Needless to say this is hugely exciting but incredibly daunting particularly given that I leave behind my girlfriend (only temporarily), family, and a network of friends who I have had in Bristol for nearly a decade.  Evidently FDB, blogging, and the internet in more general terms have been way down my priority list for some time now.

So what lies ahead for this modest little corner of the internets? To be honest, I’m not sure.  Imagining myself in New York City is still a pretty abstract concept in itself, so the thought of sitting down on a Tuesday night and rattling off something about a drum break is bizarre to say the least.  It may be the case that living in the mecca of all things hip and hop means I have an insatiable desire to share music and musings with you; it may also be the case that the city and life is so absorbing that I don’t.  Right now, I just can’t tell.

I want to thank everyone who has regularly (or irregularly for that matter) visited this spot over the last few years and want to give a particular shout out to my internet brethren without whom running this blog would not have been the life enriching experience that it has been.  You know who you are and we’ll stay in touch.  If you have voyeuristic desires to see how my personal life in the US progresses you can do so at Five Borough Brits, a blog I’ve set up to keep track of my movements in the greatest city in the world.

But let’s mark this moment with some music, shall we?  Here’s some recent stuff I’ve enjoyed and recommend you check.

Chris Read presents The Legacy: World’s Greatest Jackson Tribute Mix


Read the bumpf and download the mix here

This does what it says on the tin. And then some.  If you’re not already familiar with Chris’s sensational mixes then why not start here: The Legacy is technically and musically masterful and my hands down favourite piece of post-Jacko tribute material currently available.  You done did it again Chris.

5 O’Clock Shadowboxers – The Slow Twilight


Download the LP here

Check the MySpace

If you’re at all in tune with the internet hip hop blog scene then you can’t have failed to notice this release from my boys Zilla and Douglas.  Dudes even picked up a review in HHC digital this month.  The Slow Twilight is a brilliantly put together little package that brings something genuinely original to the table and although not all of it is to my taste this is as refreshing and innovative as hip hop gets in 2009.  Kudos fellas.

Prafit – ‘New York Swing’


Vocal available here

Instrumental available here

Third installment from this duo hailing from Long Island and a truly bangin’ track that’s already featured on Hot 97 care of Peter Rosenberg.  It’s so rare that something new gives me that old hip hop ‘buzz’ without feeling tired but ‘New York Swing’ does so with aplomb.  Rolling keys, big drums… nothing to complain about here so get familiar.

I’m outta here for now.  Thanks again.

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Just Another Day – ‘Trife Life’ Beat Deconstruction
June 25, 2009, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Mobb Deep – ‘Trife Life’
taken from The Infamous (Loud, 1995)

Norman Connors – ‘You Are My Starship’
taken from You Are My Starship (Buddah, 1976)

Nothing like an exciting sample find to bring this blogger temporarily out of stasis.  I’ve been listening to The Infamous a ludicrous amount of late and enjoying it as much as ever, but it’s the undeniably great ‘Trife Life’ that has seen the most action.  It’s always been one of my favourite beats on the album and epitomises the dark, murky aesthetic that Prodigy and Havoc achieved with such aplomb on this legendary LP.  But then, you knew that already.

Only one key sample source at play here besides drums and it’s Norman Connor’s ‘You Are My Starship’, a sweet mid-70’s R & B cut featuring vocals by Michael Henderson, a bassist who had played with Miles Davis during the earlier part of the decade.  The opening section of the song is immediately recognisable as the introductory section of the Mobb Deep cut, but it’s what happens after this that is perhaps more interesting as it represents some pretty visionary production at the hands of Havoc.  Listen closely to the first couple of bars that mark the start of the first verse at 0.44 and you’ll hear that distinctive bassline nestled in amongst all the other elements of the Connor’s groove that ultimately form the backbone of ‘Trife Life’.  It’s an extreme use of a low pass filter that to me is only matched by Large Pro’s work on ‘Halftime’ in terms of sheer depth, where all other components of the sample source are pretty much obliterated.  Ultimately it’s this truncation that makes the melody here feel like it’s swarming around you: it’s just not possible to get a particularly clean sound when extracting the bass from such a busy source, but of course this would detract from the end result even if it was and be far less effective.  ‘Trife Life’ was born to be dirty.

The other flurry that I love is the use of the two bars of sax that drop in at 1.57.  A similar aggressive filter must also have been applied to remove this from the original source, so much so in fact that I’ve actually failed to acknowledge it as a saxophone until hearing the sample.  The way it balances out the bass-heavy groove throughout the rest of ‘Trife Life’ is devastating, floating loftily during the chorus sections and intermittently breaking out during the verses providing that sense of space that prevents the song from monotony.

And Havoc knows how great this beat is.  Just as you think it’s all over the groove comes right back at you, and when the fade out begins that sax drifts into play again.  So menacing and yet so beautiful: that’s what The Infamous is all about, right?


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The Mighty Mos Def
June 16, 2009, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Mos Def – ‘Workers Comp.’ & ‘History’ ft. Talib Kweli
taken from The Ecstatic (Downtown, 2009)

What’s this?! Digital Existence has landed a forceful jab and hook to the otherwise relentless onslaught of Real Life? It’s the comeback of the century!

Well, maybe the week.  But this new Mos Def album has got me all excited and I had to briefly give it due props in case you’ve ignored it due to the dubious charms (read: I didn’t like either of them) of The New Danger andTrue Magic.  I’m loving The Ecstatic right now.  Save for a few missteps the beats are good to great growers and Mos is blistering throughout.  You can hear that DOOM obsession in full force here and it works wonders.  The prophet has returned! Do. Not. Sleep.

Oh, back up a minute… a group of solicitors and a mortgage exchange seem to be hovering around the edge of the ring.  Digital Existence’s brief flurry of activity looks set to take a trouncing: brace yourself buddy, this could get nasty.

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Slice of Soul – ‘Mariana, Mariana’
June 9, 2009, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Breaks, Slice Of Soul

Maria Bethania – ‘Mariana, Mariana’
taken from A Tua Presença (Universal, 1971)

It’s not long until I’m able to fill y’all in on exactly why FDB has fallen into such a stagnant state over the last few months, but I’m assuming you’re not losing too much sleep over it.  If you are, just end yourself right now because there’s not gonna be a significant change any time soon.  At the moment real life continues to beat my digital existence into a whimpering, bloody pulp and it’s showing no signs of letting up just yet.  In fact, it just pulled a mallet out…

Still, a swift counterblow has provided me with just enough respite to share this jewel of a track that hasn’t left my headphones in a minute.  I’m really starting to get a taste for this 70’s Brazilian material, and Maria Bethania’s ‘Mariana, Mariana’ is just one of the reasons why.  Enjoy: I’ll see ya when I see ya.


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Beats From The 90s Vol. 2 – It’s Coming…
May 5, 2009, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Producers

Beats From The 90’s Vol. 2 Preview (Ghetto Man Beats, 2009)

Good news for fans of K-Def and indeed that ‘real’ hip hop, as the Jersey legend’s follow-up to his utterly fantastic Beats From The 90’s Vol. 1 is (tentatively) due to drop this July.  I loved the first edition of this series and the provided preview confirms that this should be similarly bangin’, so watch this space for more news as it reaches me.  Shouts to richdirection once again for the hook-up.


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Reasonable Doubt Decontructed
April 27, 2009, 3:29 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Reasonable Doubt Deconstructed

For those of you who have been following my ‘work’ for a while, you may well remember the piece I put together for Oh Word back in February last year on Illmatic where I deconstructed all of the key sample sources that went into the production of the album.  The second installment in this series is now beginning over at The Passion of the Weiss, and this time it’s Reasonable Doubt that is receiving the full album deconstruction treatment.

Part 1 is already up over at Jeff’s spot now, with further installments throughout the week.  We took the decision to break this bad boy up a little because at over 3000 words in total for the whole album, I doubt your internet dented attention spans would have made it through the whole piece in one go.  I know mine probably wouldn’t.  Enjoy and make sure you chime in with some comments to make me feel like the labour of love was worth it.  Huge props to Jeff for the opportunity to let the piece reach a wider audience than it could ever have hoped to here at FDB.

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Woah! 7 Incomprehensible Premier Flips
April 15, 2009, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Although only a handful of cuts ever make it to the fully blown beat deconstruction process, my desire to understand the craftsmanship behind my favourite bangers means that I’m constantly on the digital dig.  With such a wealth of information out there on these here internets (shouts to Dallas) it’s not often that such searches end in disappointment, but they do sometimes result in having to scrape my jaw off the floor after marveling at the revealed ingenuity of the producer behind the boards.

Clear leader in the ‘how did they do that?!’ stakes is unsurprisingly the inimitable DJ Premier whose legendary status requires no further exposition from yours truly.  Instead, here are a handful of Preem-honed cuts and their sources that failed to qualify for the beat deconstruction process on the grounds that I simply have nothing intelligible to say about them that enlightens the composition process.  Commentary will be sparse because – and this goes against all my blogging tendencies – the music speaks for itself.  Hats off to Premier: the man’s abeast.


All City – ‘The Actual’ 
taken from Metropolis Gold (MCA, 1998)

Chi-Lites – ‘We Need Order’
taken from A Letter To Myself (Brunswick, 1973)

Okay, so the stabs are there at the beginning, and that percussive roll kicks in after six seconds… this flip is blinding.  On a side note, half of Metropolis Gold is brilliant, half is awful.  Weird album.


Gangstarr – ‘Royalty’ 
taken from Moment Of Truth (Noo Trybe/Virgin/EMI, 1998)

Latimore – ‘Let’s Do It In Slow Motion’

taken from It Ain’t Where You Been (Glades, 1976)

What?!  You can hear the chimes that make up the Gangstarr track in the first few bars, but basically Latimore’s smooth groove is rendered completely unrecognisable at the hands of Premier.  You’d have to know: now you do.


Common – ‘The 6th Sense’
taken from Like Water For Chocolate (MCA, 2000)

Intruders – ‘Memories Are Here To Stay’
taken from Save The Children (Philadelphia International, 1973)

Clearly this has been sped up, pitch shifted and chopped all over the place, but you can hear the solitary piano chord at 0.23 that makes it into this fine track from Like Water For Chocolate.  That’s about the only sensible thing I can say about this though: ludicrous flip.


Mos Def – ‘Mathematics’
taken from Black On Both Sides (Rawkus, 1999)

Fatback Band – ‘Baby, I’m A Want You’

taken from Let’s Do It Again (Perception, 1972)

Oh, actually this one’s straightforward.  Chop that section at 0.02, splice it in with that other bit at 0.05, chuck in that cheeky guitar lick… who am I kidding.


Royce Da 5′9” – ‘Hip Hop’
taken from Death Is Certain (Koch, 2004)

Jerry Goldsmith – ‘Overture’

taken from The Sand Pebbles OST (20th Century Fox, 1966)

You can actually pick up on the one bar that becomes the main loop with this one (check the 0.40 mark), but those chops at the beginning? Get outta here.


AZ – ‘The Come Up’
taken from A.W.O.L. (Fastlife, 2005)

Lawrence Hilton Jacobs – ‘Holdin’ On’
taken from Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (?, 1978)

I need my mate Geoff to tell me if this is tremolo or vibrato on those strings at the 0.10 mark.  Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be able to shed much light on the construction of Preem’s loop though. I’d forgotten how good this track off A.W.O.L. was: I bet you had too.


Black Eyed Peas – ‘BEP Empire’
taken from Bridging The Gap (Interscope, 2000)

Curtis Mayfield – ‘Billy Jack
taken from There’s No Place Like America (Curtom, 1975)

Mr Martin, you blow my mind.



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Easter Sunday Head Nod – Damu
April 12, 2009, 3:32 pm
Filed under: Producers

Damu The Fudgemunk – ‘The Bright Side (Unreleased)

I’ve broken the blogging seal and finally made it through my ludicrously jammed Google Reader account, hence more music.  FDB favourite Damu never releases anything I don’t enjoy and this latest jawn is no exception.  Beat’s an outtake from the Travel At Your Own Pace sequel, rhymes seemingly just ‘happened’:

“Recorded on inauguration day, just done in the midst of other musical tasks. I was feelin’ it so I laid it down.”

Too cool.

Easter Sunday may be the Sunday to end all Sundays: heavy chillin’ is mandatory. Don’t mess it up.

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Back Up In It – Mediterranean Holiday Playlist
April 11, 2009, 3:33 pm
Filed under: Lists

Nothing like ten days in the south of France to get you back in the right frame of mind for music and blogging.  Eff ghetto credentials, being a middle class Brit with a second home on the continent unequivocally rules.  Here’s what’s been tickling my inner ear over the last week on the Riviera.


ATCQ – ‘Can I Kick It?’ (Extended Boilerhouse Mix) & ‘Scenario’ (Young Nation Mix)
taken from Revised Quest For The Seasoned Traveller (Jive, 1992)

I may be wrong on this one, but I’m convinced that the Boilerhouse edit of the Tribe classic was the mix commercially released in the UK all the way back in ‘89.  Either way, this was my first introduction to the track and it has endured as my favourite version of ‘Can I Kick It?’, even to the point of surpassing the original.  This may be blasphemous, but the chorus is the real selling point for me, triumphant in tone as opposed to the deliberately jarring effect of the original.  The Young Nation take on ‘Scenario’ ain’t half bad either.


Arthur Verocai – ‘Sylvia’
taken from Arthur Verocai (Luv N’ Haight, 1972)

I’ve got Jeff to thank for introducing me to Verocai, a master Brazilian guitarist, composer and arranger who seems to be one of many artists to only be fully appreciated many years after they originally committed their work to reel.  The whole of this self-titled debut is nothing short of staggering, but ‘Sylvia’ is the song that I have returned to again and again, a beautifully realised instrumental piece that attests to Verocai’s innate genius when it comes to arrangement.  Check the drum fill at 0.54 before the introduction of strings for proof if you’re not immediately hooked.


Donny Hathaway – ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’
taken from Extension Of  A Man (ATCO, 1973)

Given my predisposition to sumptuous ’70s soul it seems ridiculous that I’m only just coming around to Donny Hathaway, but ultimately I’m thankful to have yet another indulgence to explore and savour.  Zilla described this song as being better than life itself and after a week or two of it lurking constantly in my headphones I’d have to agree.


Eric B. & Rakim – ‘Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em’ (Chris Read Remix)
taken from The Diary 1.5 (Music Of Substance, 2009)

Upon first listening of Chris Read’s latest project it was his reworking of this Eric B. & Rakim classic that immediately stood out for me, and months later not much has changed.  If you’re yet to latch onto The Diary 1.5then you are categorically sleepin’ because although this is ultimately my personal favourite from the collection the whole project is the definition of dope.  Get familiar if you haven’t already.


Baby Charles – ‘Indecision’
taken from Baby Charles (Record Kicks, 2008)

Any frequent visitor to FDB will know that I’m a sucker for some well executed retro soul and Brighton’s Baby Charles deliver just that with their debut release which seems to have taken a minute to bubble up to the surface of even the more discerning listener’s consciousness.  Still, I’m glad it has, and despite lacking the edge captured so masterfully by the Truth & Soul/Daptone brotherhood, I can’t front on the infectious dancefloor groove of ‘Indecision’, a satisfyingly raw funk workout that barely stops to let you breathe.  In a good way.


De La Soul – ‘Days Of Our Lives’ feat. Common
taken from The Grind Date (Sanctuary, 2004)

If you’re like me you probably skipped through The Grind Date and then quickly reached for one of the early De La releases to make you feel whole again.  It’s understandable, but upon revisitation The Grind Date is a very solid album with more than enough going on to satisfy even the most hardened De La purist.  This Jake One produced sonic thump is the current standout for me despite an appearance from Common whose very existence is enough to make me reach for the nearest bucket at this stage.  Sorry brother, but enough’s enough.


George Benson – ‘California Dreamin”
taken from White Rabbit (CTI, 1972)

I’ve been back on yet another CTI trawl of late, and White Rabbit is the latest thing to grab me from the back catalogue of Creed Taylor’s legendary label.  Featuring a truly remarkable group of players the whole album is worth checking, but this cover of ‘California Dreamin” has felt particularly appropriate whilst gazing at the Mediterranean despite the fact that it’s still a good 8,000 miles away from the Golden State.  Go figure.


Joe Bataan – ‘Ordinary Guy’
taken from Gypsy Woman (Fania, 1968)

I’ve got O-Dub to thank for the recommendation here despite catching onto Bataan via his narration of City of God’s Son at the tail end of last year. More and more I’m finding myself drawn to the Latin end of the musical spectrum and although this is the most obviously soulful song on Gypsy Woman, it strikes a balance between doo wop and boogaloo that is truly delectable.


Rhymefest – ‘Deal’s A Deal’ feat. CL Smooth & Haffa
taken from The Manual Mixtape (N/A, 2009)

If there’s one semi high profile MC I was rooting for this year it was Rhymefest, but I’m afraid to say that The Manual mixtape falls short of the mark for me, neither throwback nor contemporary enough to fully capture the imagination.  The homophobia doesn’t help either.  Still, this particularly cut’s lounge jazz vibe feels undeniably satisfying in the haze of the Mediterranean dusk, and the added bonus of a CL verse doesn’t hurt matters.  A pity that the majority of the mixtape won’t last long on my hard drive, but then I guess disappointment ain’t nothing new in the current rap climate.  And yes, that is a tone of resigned bitterness you’re detecting there.

Shout out to my crew at The What? for the various hook ups.  We takin’ over fellas.


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