Ludacris on FDB?!
November 18, 2008, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Ludacris – ‘MVP’ & ‘I Do It For Hip Hop’ feat. Jay-Z & Nas
taken from Theater Of The Mind (Def Jam, 2008)

I gotta say that I didn’t ever anticipate this moment passing, but two of the leaked tracks from Luda’s upcoming Theater Of The Mind are worthy of your attention. The Premier produced ‘MVP’ is extremely dope despite the shabby quality of this radio rip and ‘I Do It For Hip Hop’ has its charms as well with verses from Nas & Jay-Z (nice score Chris). Although most people’s focus is inevitably on the high-profile guest spots here I really like the beat, but would have liked it even more if producer Wyldfyer had let the Mountain drums do the talking solo throughout instead of adding in additional skittering hats and snares. However, I can appreciate that this would have also killed the song’s commercial appeal. Damn those ignorant masses.

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Open Letter To GZA
November 15, 2008, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

That’s right mate, you think about what you’ve done.

Dear Mr Grice,

I have to admit that it was with some trepidation I attended your show last night at the Bristol Academy. At £18 a ticket the entry cost felt a little steep and to be honest with you I have some reservations about the current trend for long serving members of the hip hop community to tour on the sole premise of performing their classic albums, but you know what? I love you man. I love Liquid Swords even more. I own every album you’ve ever released and I want to support you whenever possible. I mean damn, the last time I saw you at Subterania in ‘99 it was sensational. Why would anything be different this time around?

But I got to be honest with you Gary, you sucked ass last night. Major ass. Your cause wasn’t aided by the shambolic organisation of the show in general terms, but I know that wasn’t your fault. I was even willing to forgive you for coming on stage nearly an hour late because I love you. Have I mentioned that already? But how can you expect me to leave satisfied when yours was one of the most achingly tired performances I’ve ever seen? I mean, did you even want to be there? At all? I know Liquid Swords was thirteen years ago, but apart from anything else it kinda looked like you’d forgotten half of your rhymes. Your usually impeccable flow was inconceivably pedestrian and you just sauntered around on stage a little. Is this really all you’ve got left in the tank? What happened to the live presence of one of the greatest MCs to ever do it?

I want you to know that I will always remain a fan. I also want you to know that I will never attend one of your live shows again. Ever. I mean, I might not even bother paying for your albums anymore. Cheated doesn’t even begin cover it. I’m so sorry things turned out this way, but you’ve left me no choice. You’ve torn my heart out of my chest, so why not stamp on it while you’re at it?

Your massively disappointed fan,

Dan Love

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Jaw On The Floor – Mayer Hawthorne & The County
November 13, 2008, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous



Mayer Hawthorne & The County @ Stones Throw

Mayer Hawthorne & The County @ MySpace

Just stumbled across this care of Phill and it’s blown me away. New artist signed to Stones Throw, 29 year old white man who sounds like Gil Scott Heron on ‘When I Said Goodbye’ and isn’t ashamed to throw some ‘Get Out My Life, Woman’ drums onto the smooth ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work It Out’ to give it a sumptuously gritty edge. Very pleased to meet you Mr. Hawthorne.


Still having problems embedding video… check both tracks out at Phill’s spot.

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It’s Phife Friday
November 7, 2008, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Phife Dawg – ‘Ben Dova’
taken from Ventilation: Da LP (Groove Attack, 2000)

Because I’m on a serious trawl through the Dilla archives after bumping Yancey Boys and it’s Friday. Hit the weekend running people.

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The Beeb, The Brits & Jay-Z
October 30, 2008, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Jay-Z: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered

I’m gonna kick this post off by upping my street credibility by like, a gazillion: my mother texted me to let me know about Tuesday night’s BBC arts documentary that propounded to explore “the life and work of the chart topping rapper and multi-millionaire businessman Jay-Z.” Great, I thought: it’s rare that we get any decent coverage of American hip hop in the British mass media; I really like Jay-Z (duh); I’m intrigued by how his Glastonbury set was ultimately so well received and believe that there’s quite a lot to consider as a British fan of the genre about the way that we – as a nation – interact and engage with American rap.

And it’s not because I think there’s anything particularly lofty at stake here as we already know that rap is global and Jay is one of its leading figureheads, but up until last June my parents and their friends had never really spoken or inquired about the man and now they do (I approach this topic scientific-like). It may not seem it for those of you across the pond, but that seems like a pretty big deal to me because I would say that Jay-Z is the first American rapper to cross over to that extent in this country, where Jonathon Ross interviews him and pretty much everyone knows who he is. I guess Hammer may have done it back in the day, but what we’re talking about here is ‘real’ hip hop and one of its key proprietors becoming a part of the everyday collective consciousness in this country.

So this could have been good, and to be fair in places the program worked reasonably well. Some of the interview segments with Jay were enjoyable as were the clips of footage from gigs in L.A., Las Vegas and New York, but unfortunately that was about it as the remainder of the show’s content was blighted by two key factors. Firstly, presenter Alan Yentob who I’m sure is a very culturally informed man outside of hip hop knew next to squat about Jay-Z or his music and secondly, at times the focus for this documentary strayed too far away from the music and tried to get ‘in deep’ about his other interests only to expose the distance between interviewer and interviewee even further. Cringe-worthy moments included the pair wandering through an art gallery which made Jay look kind of stupid (which he clearly isn’t) and Mr. Yentob incredibly uncomfortable (which presumably he was) and Yentob commenting on Jay’s compositional process of feeding off a beat “freeing up the lyrical flow.” I’m sorry old man, but I just ain’t buying it.

I guess the problem is that the aesthetics and legacy of hip hop at a core level feel in some ways distinctly at odds with what it is to be British, or at least certainly at odds with the BBC’s version of Britishness. It’s what makes me slightly uneasy telling people that I’m into rap music in this country because certainly for the majority of the population, they don’t get it and I don’t blame them. On the surface, Jay-Z’s music is too gawdy, too brash and his persona too overtly materialistic to be taken seriously by middle Britain and that’s why what this documentary needed was somebody who could in some way bridge the gap between these two worlds and make sense of it in some way. Ultimately, by placing a stuffy, middle-aged intellectual as interviewer Jay-Z: He Came, He Saw, He Conquered only served to highlight the disparity between American rap and your average Brit and in all probability left most viewers feeling even more bemused by Jay-Z, his popularity and his role in global popular culture.

Yentob started the documentary with the statement, “If there’s one rapper you need to know about it’s him.” Alan, if you’re out there, name three other rappers that someone might need to know about in 2008. Nope? Didn’t think so. If the BBC wants to be cool and informed then that’s great, but it seems like a bit of a no-brainer that if you plan on this sort of coverage you should probably get someone involved who has a vague understanding of the subject at hand in the first place. Seriously, I’m available whenever.

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It’s The Links, Baby
October 27, 2008, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

I’m deep into The Wire season 5 after finally managing to get a hold of the whole box set. If you think I’ve got time to blog ‘proper’ then you’ve got another thing coming. Drop a comment that reveals anything and I will hunt you down, I swear.

Whilst this continues, let me refer you elsewhere:

Flood brings it with a recipe and suggested aural accompaniment.

Doc Zeus takes on XXL’s freshman MCs list.

Eric continues his Top 100 of the year.

Robbie’s got a nice overview of the ubiquitous ‘Nautilus’ break.

Joey takes a look at some new hip hop jawns.

Metal Lungies revisit their Alchemist beat drop.

“The game’s the game” – Marlo Stanfield

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Blogger’s Block – Hit The Links
October 8, 2008, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

So I’ve been meaning to get my arse in gear for a proper beat deconstruction, but I’m struggling to find the inspiration. I’m blaming the change in season and that pesky credit crunch.

Here are some folk who seem to be weathering the storm just fine:

Brandon completes his notes on post-lyricism.

Zilla wants to be schooled on Slick Rick.

Jeff interviews Bishop Lamont.

Eric already starts cracking on with his top 100 of the year.

Ivan keeps on killing it with the sample sets with A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing.

Robbie drops a new Sadat X track that’s been growing on me.

Kanye rocks a new colourway of the Yeezy. Oh, and premiers ‘Love Lockdown’.

Go give Jaz a hand with his requests.

Dart pays homage to the bloggerverse like no other.

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Isaac Hayes RIP
August 13, 2008, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Isaac Hayes – ‘The Feeling Keeps On Coming’
taken from Joy (Stax, 1973)

So in internet terms this tribute to the musical genius that was Isaac Hayes comes late, but I can’t let this very sad event pass without mentioning it in some way here at FDB. I’m a relative latecomer to Hayes’ work, having only really delved into his back catalogue within the last year or so, but during this period I have fallen in love with his sumptuous arrangements and am pleased that I still have treats to uncover in the future.

I doubt it’s possible that you could have avoided the various tributes that almost immediately surfaced on the net, but just in case you missed O-Dub’sFlood’s or Sach’s, go check them out now. I’m in the south of France at the moment so don’t have full access to all of my Hayes’ material, but given that the utterly fantastic ‘The Feeling Keeps On Coming’ is sitting on my hard drive I’m throwing it up as a tribute to one of the most iconic figures in Black popular culture that this world is ever likely to see. Rest in peace big man: you’ll be sorely missed.

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Beat For A Monday
August 4, 2008, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

World Renown – ‘How Nice I Am (SID Remix)’ (Instrumental)
taken from How Nice I Am VLS (Warner, 1995)

I guess the whole point of this blog ish in the first place was for me to just share the music that I’m feeling at any particular point in time, so that’s exactly what this post is. I’ve been rocking the instrumental to the S.I.D. remix of World Renown’s ‘How Nice I Am’ hard all weekend, and given that I love the K-Def original so much, this is no small feat. Beautifully crispy drums, upbeat vibe and marvelous use of filters: that ol’ boom bap doesn’t come much purer. My favourite moment is at the 0.36 mark with the change up in the filtered bass, but this really is one of those beats that just carries you along until it ends leaving you wondering where the last four minutes went.

As a brief supplementary observation it also sounds ludicrously similar to something that Dilla and Q-Tip would have produced circa ‘96. The model for The Ummah aesthetic? Perhaps not, but the similarity is quite striking: see what you think.

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Crazy Like A Foxxx Release
July 18, 2008, 4:10 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Freddie Foxxx – ‘Can’t Break Away’ & ‘So Tough (Mellow Mix)’
taken from Crazy Like A Foxxx (Fat Beats, 2008)

DJ Monster Crazy Like A Foxxx Preview Mix

It’s frustrating that hip hop as a genre seems to have suffered from industry nonsense more than any other over the last two decades or so, but thankfully it seems we’re reaching a point in time where people are realising that there is a demand for out of print and shelved releases from rap’s most dynamic years. The highlight for me in 2007 was the surfacing of the Ultimate Force LP, and it looks like 2008 will have a few treats in store as well, no less so than Freddie Foxxx’s previously unreleased sophomore outing Crazy Like A Foxxx, scheduled to drop at the end of this month.

I’ve been making do with the ridiculously hissy rip of the promo tape for a while now and even though the sound quality is incredibly poor, the caliber of the music still shines through: the whole album typifies the kind of rough, no frills, New York boom bap that made me fall in love with hip hop in the first place. I’ve tried to clean up the audio a little on the two tracks offered here to make them a little more listenable, but I’m literally busting to hear them in all their remastered glory. ‘Can’t Break Away’ features a lovely Curtis Mayfield guitar lick and beautifully rolling bass line that serves as the perfect opener to the album, and although the original mix of ‘So Tough’ that features Queen Latifah is slammin’, I’ve always preferred the ‘So Tough (Mellow Mix)’ that was also included on the promo tape. Whether this is the same ‘mellow’ mix as the one featured on the 12” or not is unclear to me, but Hip Hop DX suggest that there was a remix put together by Pete Rock so I guess this could be his work (although it doesn’t sound like the Chocolate Boy Wonder to me particularly). Ultimately, I can’t wait to see how the production roster is laid out track by track as the album is pretty much filler free and it’s something that has intrigued me ever since I stumbled across Crazy Like A Foxxx at the beginning of last year.

The album is due to drop at the end of the month on Fat Beats alongside the original demo version produced entirely by Buckwild, Showbiz and Lord Finesse (I think I just let out a dribble of sex wee), so there’s going to be plenty on offer for fans of that official rap business. I’ve linked to the DJ Monster preview mix above that features largely the DITC-honed originals as opposed to the final album versions which gives a tasty overview of what to expect from the bonus disc.

Wipe the drool off your keyboard and brace yourself for one of the most exciting musical events of the year so far. I can only hope that 2008 holds more treats like this in store: Pete Rock Future Flavas remixes perhaps? I won’t hold my breath…

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