Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Crate Digging 4 - The Last Emperor Secret Wars part 1

This is the fourth entry in my Crate Digging series whereby I pick out gems I had forgotten I had in my collection.  This little slice of mid nineties indie Hip Hip is brought to us by underground hero The Last Emperor and was released in 1997.  This was his first 12" and featured three joints; Secret Wars part 1, Bums and Monumental.  The Last Emperor was originally from Philadelphia but in the mid nineties moved to New York and began performing at The Lyricist Lounge. He was featured on KRS ONE's "C.I.A. (Criminals in Action)" with Rage Against the Machine's Zach De La Rocha which was featured on the. Lyricist Lounge compilation released on Rawkus. Two years later he signed to Dr Dre's Aftermath however like a number of promising artists at that time that never lead to an album release.  In 2003 it was announced that The Last Emperor had signed to Rawkus Records. A few singles were released in a period of 6 months, but around that time Rawkus ceased to trade. He finally released his solo album in 2003, Music, Magic, Myth (Palace of the Pretender in Europe) this was on his own label Red Planet.  I cannot recall exactly where I picked this up although something tells me I may have picked this up on the internet from either or Sandbox who at the time had some great deals on vinyl.  The main track on this 12" is the Secret Wars Part 1 joint (was there a part2 ?).  Its a simple beat with a nice piano loop that sounds like it was taken from the opening bars of the Love Story theme.  The real selling point of this track however is the lyrics.  The Last Emperor tells the story of a battle between some Hip Hop's best lyricists and Superheroes with vocal impersonations of both the rappers and the heroes.  Its a fun track and the Last Emperor shows off his lyrical skill.  There is only a radio version an instrumental.  Onto the B-Side this features two joints and an instrumental.  The first track is called Bums and has a slightly more interesting beat than the A-Side.  Lyrically he tells the story of his life as a bum awaiting a record deal with a humorous slant.  There is an instrumental for the track Bums included.  The final joint is Monumental which has a nice mellow beat allowing the listener to focus on the considerable talents of the emcee.  Although musically these joints are pretty much standard beats for the indie scene in '97 the differentiating factor that sets them apart is The Last emperor's lyrics.  He is a skilled lyricist who deserved better beats but nonetheless drops original concepts and rhymes on all three track.  Check the link below for the rip.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Crate Digging 3 - Hip Hop Remixes Live from New York feat. Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes....

Back in the summer of 1996 (which is almost twenty years ago, damn I feel old) there were all sorts of dodgy remixes and bootlegs floating around.  This here piece of vinyl is a perfect example of this sub-genre.  Someone has managed to get hold of a few a capellas and have made up their own beats for these tracks that were everywhere that year.  I probably picked these up in Uptown Records where I bought a lot bootlegs that year.  Although there were plenty of these bootlegs around at that time the cheap music creation apps like Garageband and Fruity loops had not yet come into existence and making tracks like this actually required access to high end music software like Q-Base and some actual hardware.
All of the tracks on this EP are produced by a dude called Funkmaster Frankenstein who soon after dropped the Funkmaster and went onto produced some nice underground head nodders throughout the 90s and well into the 2000s.  The first track is Frankenstein's Woo-Hah remix which is as you would expect a bouncy track with a nice off kilter organ riff for the Busta Rhymes a cappella to blend into.  Not really an improvement on the original but a slightly different more mellow version.  The Masta I.C. remix is again a more mellow version than the original. With a soulful organ sample and a sporadic xylophone in the background this remix is more for the sunday afternoon in the park rather than the saturday night in the club.  The Danger remix is based around a sparse piano loop and features the same scratches as the original for the chorus, not a bad remix but really not a patch on the original.
Lastly we have Shook Ones part 3 which is my favourite track on this little EP.  It has more depth to it than the other three.  A simple track with nice piano loops providing what could almost be a Havoc produced track if it wasn't so upbeat musically.  Check the link below for the rip.
Straight up Shook Ones.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Deal Real Jam Saturday the 19th Mau Ma Bar

This coming Saturday, the 19th of April at  the Mau Mau Bar at 265 Portobello Rd in London Deal Real (Mid 90's London's Best Indie Hip Hop Record shop) will be holding another night of great Hip Hop.  Sarah Love, Pete Real (one of the original shop owners), Kuku and Bunn Bread. Festivities kick off at 21:00 until 02:00 and cost a measly £5 on the door.  If you love great golden era Hip Hop this is the place to be.

Crate Digging 2: M.O.P. - Pounds Up Show remix

Post number 2 in my Crate Digging series.  I came across this a few nights ago when looking for an entirely different M.O.P. track and to be honest I had totally forgotten I had this joint.  Its from about 2002 and I could have picked it up at any number of London Record shops.  I am a big M.O.P. fan and at that time was buying a lot of 12"s from them.  I love the original Pounds Up joint and when I saw this remix by Show, one of the reliable D.I.T.C. crew I figured it was bets to grab a copy.  I do not know if this ever got an official release, I think that Wild Life was one of the record labels associated with D.I.T.C. as I have a number of other Diggin' In The Crates joints on that label.  The track itself features the same lyrics as the original but Show provides a totally different beat.  The beat is the same throughout the joint with no difference for the chorus or verse sections.  It is made up of a punchy horns sample with nice but somewhat muted kick and snare.  Check the link below to grab the rip.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

New Roots Single “When The People Cheer”

The Roots are one of the few groups who consistently drop great music, not just Hip-Hop but music that crosses genres.  This is the first track released from their upcoming album on Def Jam "...and then shoot your cousin" an anti rap opera.  Black Thought is on point lyrically as always, easily one of the most interesting emcees in the game and he is joined by Greg Porn on the bridge.  Musically the track has a nice piano sample over a decent mid tempo beat with a high hat.  

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Crate Digging 1 - Morcheeba Featuring Slick Rick "Women Lose Weight" remixes

Finally having setup my trusty Technics 1200s, Vestax mixer and Serato I have started going through my vinyl and have decided to start putting some of the long forgotten gems up on here for you all to enjoy.  The first of these is this strange little 12" that I picked up from one of London's West End record shops back in 2002.  Unfortunately I cannot remember which shop but it was probably Mr Bongo's or Major Flavas both of which have long since closed down, like many of the West End's record shops.  Although I had heard of the experimental London trio Morcheeba in the past and had even seen them live in Brixton Academy the real reason for buying this slice of vinyl was the guest emcee.  None other than the legendary Slick Rick.
The original version of the song was on their 2002 album, Charango released on EastWest records.  The album is a laid back blend instrumental beats heavily influenced by Jazz and Hip Hop with sweet soul vocals it also has a guest appearance from PaceWon.  This 12" features the album version of the song with a two remixes; the Spare tyre remix and The Alchemist remix.  The album version of the song is a funky track with a nice crisp snare with nice soulful vocals alongside Ricky-D's adulterous and murderous lyrics.
Slick Rick is on point with this joint telling us an intricate story in the form of a rhyme.  He talks about having ot kill his wife because his wife has gained weight.  Obviously talking is out of the question in Rick's world however his scheming only ends up causing him nothing but trouble.  Ricky-D show us why he is a legends on the mic when it comes to storytelling even going so far as to change voice during the story.  In addition to the original, the remixes this 12" also includes an instrumental of The Alchemist remix and an accapella. 
The Spare Tyre remix is produced by Morcheeba and a great deal more funky than the original.  There is a heavy bass driven organ sample with nice drums and cymbals throughout.  This gives the song a more 70s sound.  The Alchemist remix is infinitely more East Coast Hip Hop flavoured than the other versions.  With a guitar sample and QB sounding drums it provides a nice back drop for Slick Risk's rhymes.  Click on the link below to download a copy of this 12" for promotional purposes only of course.