Summer actually lasted exactly 14 hours and 17 minutes in 2012 but this is what soundtracked that blissful half-a-daysworth where we actually saw the sun.
Swell, swish, sumptuous Premier production, and hats off to Torae for actually stamping his personality on the track when he can. Truth be told, though, you'll keep coming back for the amazing lace-up of scratches and loops that starts unfolding on the chorus, a gorgeous collage that reminds you of exactly what hip-hop production can unlock, exactly what CARE about the music can still uncover. Superb.
Some pure gold from 1993 only now finding the light of day. The Legion (Chucky Smash, Molecules and Cee-Low) were signed to Black Sheep's One Love imprint, and they debuted in 1993 with the brilliant underground classic, 'Jingle Jangle'. 'The Lost Tapes' EP is coming out soon and this is one of the previously unheard highlights from it - absolutely not dated and sounding as fresh and fearless and fantastic as if it was recorded yesterday. Timeless futurism.
Taken from Mr. Wrong & Maximus' 'Quackhandle - Peppered Moth Soup' LP coming in early May, this is a stonking fat beat, simple beautiful bass and some shades 'n' shadows of clavinet that are just plain unhinged and eerie. Great cameos from UG of Cella Dwellas and others, and the feeling of cumulative derangement, of a night gone sloppily wrong is overpowering. Essential.
Weirdly downbeat production here - like a J.Rawls or PBW joint from about a decade ago, but no less compellingly chilled out for it. Love the way pretty much every single vocal tic gets reflected 'n' refracted out into the cosmos, like someone left the echo settings on maximum, forgot about it, then stuck with it. From such big names I didn't expect such niceness. Much niceness.
From the wonderful 'Random Joints' LP, this is about as dementedly downlow a track you've heard since DC Basehead was a name you cared about. Barely there at all, the steady headnodic beat and uber-minimal bass pushing Sean Born's mental detritus into the back of your cerebellum. Spark a big fucker up and enjoy.
Regular readers will know how much I dig what the Bristolian Split Prophets crew are giving us - here's the latest new name to conjure with. Datkid gives us a snotty, snarly delivery bristling with simmering rage, that sits perfectly with the heavy-dub bass and locked-on stoner-funk. Never has a statement that a rapper's staying in for a quiet night seethed with so much menace! If you don't have an ear cocked out to Bristol in 2012 you're deaf, dumb and blind. The album's coming soon.
Wrong's 'Peppered Moth Soup' LP is a doozie and here's one of the highlights rerubbed to deliciously dark depths by Pete Cannon. The pure Antarctic chill that drops with the shuddering synth lines Cannon slides behind the heavy beats is addictive as hell, and if anything, you want this to go on longer, sink its snowbitten fangs into your jugular even deeper.
Fantastic to hear legendary Onyx figurehead Sticky Fingaz spitting again, Oh No giving him the perfect backdrop to reclaim what's his. Spooky bass and keyboards and a rock-solid hi-hat-heavy beat that just slides up in your day like some kinda titanic funky gastropod. Great sense of locked-groove insanity going on here and as the heat starts rising the perfect soundtrack to your own moments of summery strangeness. Essential.
Love the Wizard production on this - the best of post-Neptunes nu-skool crushed against some brilliantly twisted vocal samples and needling organ samples straight out the Madlib kitbag. Superb rhymes from RTKal, nailing the simultaneous mental disease and supernatural sharpness that we call BEING YOUNG. Fantastic new plastic heavily endorsed by Foreign Beggars. Should be all you need to know.
The second single to be lifted off LP's forthcoming album 'The Glass Ceiling', and featuring the inimitable vocal styles of the mighty Sadat X, 'Walking On A Razor' is a gorgeous meld of heavy drone funk slathered with all kinds of demented detail. Smear of easy-listening vocals, sudden ruptures of jazzed-out menace and some of the sexiest flute you've ever heard in your life. Like Vince Guaraldi hooked up with Pete Rock. Seek and keep close.
Don't think, feeeeel. I love Dubbledge for constantly using the internet as a way of throwing out these little nuggets of ad-hoc joy. Downloadable for free, a great little tribute to Bruce Lee, laced with that Lalo Schifrin riff you know and love, put on the fattest beat it's found since the Alkaholiks 'Let It Out'. Man, you come straight out of a comic book.
Wow, what a fantastically wierd little 7" slab of wonder this is. Pure psychedelia in the backing vocals and twisted tempos, like the Meat Puppets kickin' back and widdlin' some with Bubble Puppy! Great rhymes from Gensu & 7even throughout - this isn't gonna gatecrash the charts, but as a one-off slab of nuttiness it's unmissable.
184's production is fantastically focussed yet wide-screen in its epic scope: a hard-as-fuck beat with an almost military post-punk groove, everything else (queasy glistening synths, sudden waves of drone guitar) damn near squeezed out of existence. JB's bars are some bleak, moody horrorcore shiz ("Let's all meet up in the year 3000, won't it be strange when we're all drowning") that suits the oppressive vibe perfectly. The un-summeriest single of the year. Perfect to light up the greyness with pure black light.
Gotta admit it was the Beat Butcha production credit that made me investigate this - SO SO glad I did. Tight beat, simmering menacing Bernard Hermann-esque strings, heavy-assed doom-funk bass - it's like some of Marley Marl's darkest '90s productions touched by the hand of RZA. Spida Lee's forthcoming EP 'Carriacou Jack 99%', from which this is lifted, should be shaping up as one of this summer's essential UK releases.
The Purist have found a sweet, sweet loop here, strings sighing and cresting like prime Quincy or Axelrod, man-of-the-moment Action B dropping by for a perfectly weighted cameo. In sheer sumptuous grain and melodic power, this is like Camp Lo at their finest. Taken from The Purist's 'Double Feature' LP which is now going on my birthday list toot-sweet.
Quaranteam are Skillit, Mentalist, K-nite13, Loudmouth Melvin & Pyrobarz and their free mediafire EP is a doozie indeed. 'The Scheme' bristles with tension and stealth, an ultra-repetetive snap of beats, bass and string stabs, disturbing horns splaying in to unhinge you at irregular moments, the assembled MC talent ripping chunks out of the groove and each other. Superb, go get the EP NOW. Would love these guys to get an album out there in 2012.
Trust Mystro to wake hip-hop the fuck up with this fearsome foreboding monster of a track. Straight-up righteous rant-style on the lyrics ("when you've got guys in jeans looking tighter than the women's"), just a big-assed blow of death in the microphone-fiend beats and spooked-out synths, undeniable truths spilling out faster than lightspeed.
You can bet yr arse that if a track appears and immediately a load of online comments about how various dimwits aren't 'feeling it' pop up you're on to a winner (hip-hop fans are some lazy-minded fuckers sometimes). A stunning, almost-beatless wending spiral of hippy-soul beauty over which Evidence runs through some mind-bending rhymes: the soon-come Alchemist album 'Russian Roulette' is gonna be something you're gonna wanna press close to your head as soon as it's out. Superb.
Tiny little interlaced elements make this a joy — the Steve Cropper guitar, Modeliste drums, Carol Kaye bass, Native Tongues sunny vibe and pulsating percussion blended together by producer Cadence with a subtlety that feels entirely natural. Even though you know this is an assemblage of found sounds, it still feels entirely organic, and consequently this reaches warm hands and hearts into your day way more than anything else coming out of US hip-hop right now. Love it.
Somewhere beautifully 'tween dub, hip-hop and psyche-pop, Chemo produces a febrile stew of bubbling mud-bath organ, skin-tight guitar, rolling neck-snapping beats over which Phoenix drops some of his finest bars from the astonishing £5 bargain-of-the-summer 'Quantum Leap' album and Generous croons a sweet chorus. Straight up bass-heavy rebel music.
[LATE BREAKING PHOENIX DA ICEFIRE UPDATE - ALSO CHECK OUT 'CINEMATIC']
Stupendously good hooligan-hebraphrenia inna J-Zone stylee, what sounds like the folk-funk music of Azerbaijan combined with whiney idiot-savant vocals so hopelessly adrift in their own mentalism it makes Funkdoobiest sound like Movement Ex. On the flip Krash Battle joins in the jocularity for the high-larious, massively obscene and entirely innappropriate 'Chillin With The Kids'. I wouldn't let these sick fuckers anywhere near my postcode but I want more and more of this derangement please.
One of the Gang Starr foundation's most unsung sons comes more than correct with a fantastic track featuring MOP & Fat Joe — can't seem to find out who the producer is, but it's a stunning loop of lounge-funk peppered with tasty scratch-licks and a woozy reversed-vocal that sinks its teeth into your brain pan like the most unshiftable earworm you've encountered since 'Popcorn'. Oops, sorry if that's in your head now. Get this to shift it. Essential.
Sometimes you actually want a rapper's rhymes to be unobtrusive, not so meaningful to be distracting from the production, not so meaningless to annoy. AWAR gets it just right here, perhaps aware that many will be listening to this for the absolutely barnstorming Alchemist production. As ever with the John Dee of hip-hop an object listen in how to chop a sample, when to detonate the right dubby-echos, what elements to foreground and when. So beautiful the instrumental could last for an eternity. Seek out.
From the stupendous 'Key To The Kuffs' LP this goes nowhere VAST. A locked rictus of jazzed-out vibes and the kinda backwards beat Anti Pop Consortium fans are gonna love (c'mon I know there's millions of you out there), the lyrics a great flowing mix of Wu-style rugged randomness and highlarious US/UK slang. Absolutely brain-jangling video as well, seriously SEE it, and if you can't see it just SEE this sound in your ear right now. .
Numonics plays a blinder on the production here, finding not only a fantastically pugilistic beat but then augmenting low-end tom-hits to accentuate the impact, letting horns and keys drone into deranged new spaces whilst all the time Reks keeps hitting you up with revolutionary rhetoric that suggests the album 'REBELutionary' is gonna be beyond essential. On the flip 'Gepeto (Reality Is)' ramps up the tension with some startling anti-cop lyrics and unsettling nu-skool menace. Superb.
More slo-mo spooked out genius from Sheffield's finest - this track has the ultra-minimal, maximally-unsettling feel of an old-skool Underdog production for Output Records, peppered by T&S's typically twisted ("bullet to your mullet") verbals. The "North Luna" EP this is lifted on may just be one of the releases of the year. Fantastic, frabjous, fucked-up uniqueness. Essential.
Absolutely goddamn fkn righteous work by Lupe here, asking all the right questions about hip-hop's autopilot mysogyny and perpetuation of stereotypes and gender cliches. Don't expect a hit, don't expect hip-hop to even register the fact this track exists but hats off to Fiasco for taking the roll of figurehead rapper seriously, and pushing hip-hop, lyrically at least, into territories it's scared of going. The only way this music is gonna progress, and therefore 'Bitch Bad' is demonstrative of a deeper love for rap than anything else this week. Much love.
First taster from Meta's forthcoming 2nd album 'Caviar Crackle' (and if you ain't picked up his debut 'Metaphysical' yet what the fuck you doing reading a hip-hop page?) and my god, the beats seem to be getting even more impossibly heavy than before. Great rhymes from man of the moment AB, eerily redolent of the most off-the-hook Mobb Deep, but it's that planet-sized boombap you'll keep coming back for. Heaviest hiphop this side of Zygote & Boot Records. You KNOW what that means. Fantastic, violent, vicarious thrills all round.
Fab new banger in the essential MMG 7" series: 'Make A Bet' features some of the meatiest and gnarliest fuzzy synth textures you've heard since Billy Cobham's quaalude-phase and 'Stained Glass' is straight-out slo-mo East Coast ruffness straight outta the Pete Rock school of devestation. Only 300 of these out there, snap it up if you can.