Archive for the ‘Hip Hop’ Category

Billy Cobham – Stratus (1973)

May 24, 2016 Leave a comment

There is a great deal of enjoyment to be taken from spotting the original from which a recent (ish!) record has been sampled or developed. For all who enjoy such pleasures, I submit to you the inspiration behind Massive Attack’s seminal “Safe From Harm” – the opening track  from their unimpeachable Blue Lines LP of 1991.

Billy Cobham had recorded with Miles Davis and the Mahavishnu Orchestra before finding time to record his first solo LP, Spectrum in 1973. This is blistering, ahem, jazz-funk – a perfect example of how every genre can deliver the goods when it wants to.

This version strips away the 3 minutes of noodling that precedes the river of bass kicking in …  the full version and the whole Spectrum LP are worth a listen!













Gravediggaz – Dangerous Mindz (1997)

February 28, 2015 Leave a comment

20 years ago, RZA was the king of the world. Providing the soundtrack to the Wu-Tang was one thing but RZA always seemed to have the best lines and the greatest intensity of any of those rapping as well (check here for evidence as he raises GZA’s 4th Chamber into the lyrical stratosphere).

To be honest, I feel a bit conflicted by this track. The beats and samples are sublime and the rap is relentless, it never loses momentum.

That said, I think some of the lyrics fall short of genius … the gratuitous reference to, ahem, “morning glory” being a case in point; childish posturing to what end?

Nonetheless, an all-time RZA classic.

The original “parental advisory” version and then the official video which, while it blanks the unnecessary knob reference, also censors some important uses of the “f” word … ah, well.

The Fugees – Family Business (1996)

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

A classic slice of mid 1990s hip-hop taken from The Fugees’ second and final LP “The Score” released in early 1996. This was a real golden era for hip hop with the Wu-Tang Clan and all of their side projects releasing records every few months it seemed. For clear evidence of the truth of this, check here for Genius’ all-time classic 4th Chamber.

A typically fantastic performance from Lauryn Hill alongside Wyclef Jean. Fire and Rain by James Taylor gets a quick namecheck and the underlying melody is a simple loop from the early parts of Recuerdos de la Alhambra composed by Francisco Tarrega in 1896 (check here for a nice version).

File:Fugees score.jpg

The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight (1979)

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment

A towering record in the history of popular music.

Sampling the classic bassline from Chic’s perfect “Good Times”, The Sugarhill Gang launch hip hop/rap into the pop music mainstream.

Remember like yesterday listening to this on AM radio in 1979.

There were various versions but the 14 minute “long version” is the one. Simply never flags over quarter of an hour and the only problem is that you wish it could go on even longer.

The full 14 minute version ….



Gang Starr – Jazz Thing (1990)

September 8, 2012 2 comments

Classic hip hop single from 1990 – never released on a regular Gang Starr LP, it featured in Spike Lee’s 1990 film “Mo’ Better Blues”.

A tribute to the greats of 20th century jazz, this track joins the pantheon of great “lists” songs also inhabited by LCD Soundsystem’s immortal “Losing My Edge” (previously posted here)

As Mr Lee himself observed:

Not everyone is fortunate to have a jazz musician for a father and grow up in a household listening to the music. It is my hope that maybe, just maybe, some young folks will know from this film “Mo Better Blues” and the single “Jazz Thing” as much about Duke, Coltrane, Monk, Diz, Mingus, Billie Holiday, Bird, etc…etc…etc…, as Public Enemy, Biz Markie, L.L. Cool J, Hammer, Queen Latifah, etc…etc…etc…etc…

Spike Lee – July 13,1990

Superb video to accompany the track.


Gang Starr - Jazz Thing

Goodie Mob (featuring Big Rube) – Blood (1996)

August 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Just loved mid 1990s hip hop; Wu-Tang Clan and all their offshoots ruled the world but Goodie Mob, Outkast, Mobb Deep, Gang Starr, Gravediggaz, etc, were right up there.

This track is taken from the Red Hot Organization‘s seminal “America is Dying Slowly” (AIDS) compilation. The whole LP is terrific but the Goodie Mob track is the stand out.

Goodie Mob is where the remarkable Cee-Lo Green first started and all the Goodie Mob LPs are well worth checking out.

Brooding beats, minimal piano, and socially conscious lyrics with none of the crap that often disfigures the all too traditional hip hop track ….

Typically, it is Cee-Lo’s verse that hits the mark ….

I try to make sense outta nonsense each and every day
I got to cos things is kinda crazy round the way
Each word that I say may cut you like a knife
And totally influence and change somebody life
Who me? I’m 19, and best to have seen
What I already seen
Life taught me a lot
That you ain’t gotta carry no gun to get shot
Ain’t gotta be no jacker for offense from the high
A liquor store on every corner that you walk by
I watch my niggas die for no reasons
In my neighbourhood ain’t nothin changed but the seasons
Them crackers don’t give a fuck, then again why should they
They evil from their head to they toes so how could they
You could say, the biggest problem in the black community is lack of unity
I love you but I ain’t gon’ let you pray for me
So if you must she’d blood so be it
The end is comin I can see it
Yeah, the end is comin I can see it…..
It’s in the blood

Find the track here …

House of Pain – Jump Around (1992)

August 4, 2012 Leave a comment

After 15 hours solid on the sofa in front of The Olympics, I deserve a rest. How much pizza can one person eat in the name of British sport?

A perfect record ….


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