November 30, 2012

What's been out there...

November's been a pretty dope month for classic material and historical hip hop trivia, as this months round up hopefully demonstrates.  Amongst the collection is an unreleased mix of a Rakim classic, some Pharcyde craziness, and a monster collection of rare old school radio rips.  Check it out after the jump.

November 23, 2012


A couple of months back, I was digging around in a forum when I came upon a request list from one of the admins. Most of the requests were for records that are difficult to come by, but one of them stood out to me as its a virtually unknown gem from 1992 that I didnt think many people knew about. Since seeing that request list, my fellow blogger Moyinka included exactly the same 12” on his wish list, so given the current demand, I decided to rip it and upload it so that you can all appreciate it too.

However, since I made that decision, I've had unplanned encounters with two of the main contributors to this collaborative project, so I'm able to shed some light on the people behind this EP and make links back to artists that you probably already know about.

This 12 is most commonly listed under the name Akapel. But youll have to bear with me on this one, because there's more to Akapel than first meets the eye and as I've already said, there are several other contributors to this 12. First off, the single is split into two sides, one is titled Akapel, the other is credited as DJ Use. Let me start with the DJ Use side first.

There are 4 tracks on the DJ Use side, and 3 of them are credited as being produced by Dominic Owen and Paul S. However this isnt quite right, as Paul S only produced two tracks. I recently spoke with Paul S about this 12 and he confirmed that he was only involved with tracks 2 and 4. For those who dont know, I should mention that Paul S is better known as being one half of the dope production duo, the P Brothers along with DJ Ivory.  For P Brothers fans, this is probably the earliest example of work from either of them.  
The other producer at work here is Dominic Owen (formerly known as DJ Quick), who like Paul S, is a well known and respected producer hailing from Nottingham (UK), but is now doing much greater things across the pond (more on that later). So the DJ Use side is an all Nottingham affair, and DJ Use is another aka for Dominic Owen aka DJ Quick.

The flip side is the main event and holds the single that will catch your attention. The main track is called Pick It Up and as you may have guessed from its title, it uses a familiar Black Sheep sample to very good effect.  
The emcee on this track is Akapel, but this is the only single he released under this name.  Previously he was known as Fizal Eff (more on that later).  This cut is also produced by Dominic Owen
The 2nd track is Stick Your Big Dinky In, which is more of a chugger than the jazzy main track, but it allows Fizal Eff to show a different style and drop some knowledge.   Its produced by DJ Bizzness, but what's most interesting is that he also drops some lyrics.  I never knew this until Dominic Owen told me!  Another piece of trivia I recently found out about DJ Bizzness (first hand) is that he can still bust some decent b-boy moves.

DJ Quick & Fizal Eff in 1988
Photo provided by Dominic Owen

Some of you may remember Fizals name from his time as a b-boy with the London breaking crew the Zulu Rockers.  I'm sure I don't have to introduce DJ Bizzness, if you don't know who DJ Bizzness is then shame on you!  So Stick Your Big Dinky In is an all London affair.
But there is a greater connection between the two sides of this single. Dominic Owen and Fizal Eff had worked closely together previously.  In late 1988 they created Sing-A-Song records and released material together. You may remember that about 2 years ago I did a couple of articles on Sing-A-Song records, so if you want to know more then check them out as they include some of the history of the label, links to the artists music and a review from an early Hip Hop Connection magazine.

So thats most of the history behind the people who made this single. But what about the music? Well, the main track is a typical early 90s tune with an up tempo beat, and a jazzy hook coupled with that infectious Black Sheep sample I mentioned. Most tracks like this tend to sound quite dated nowadays and lack their original appeal, but for me, this one stands the test of time much better than most. I still love it as much today as I did 20 years ago and I would recommend you take a listen.  I'm sure you will see why this single is being sought after by collectors and those in the know.

The B side of the 12 is a collection of different breakbeats/instrumentals. The first actually reminds me more of early 90's dance music (a genre that Dominic has also ventured into) and may not appeal to many of you, but the other tracks are great breaks, and track 4 sounds like classic Ultramagnetic MC's pitched up a little.  Typical of what influenced Dominic in his early days and later became the P Brothers Heavy Bronx style. 
Speaking of the P Brothers, Paul S told me that this 12" sells for a pretty penny these days, and a quick internet search confirmed that.  It's currently on Amazon US for $113. 

I'd like to say a big thank you to both Paul S and Dominic Owen for taking the time to fill in some gaps in my knowledge around this release, I'm sure some of the hip hop historians among you will appreciate the extra detail.
I'd also recommend you check out Dominic Owen's website.  Like many producers, he's not a household name, but he's worked with some major artists and I think you'll raise an eyebrow when you see some of the artists he's produced for (Raekwon, Das EFX, Rakim, Chubb Rock, Special Ed, and a Notorious B.I.G. classic to name a few).  There are some great stories and history to be found over there, so check it out.

And one last thing, the record label is Phlange Records (another of Dominic's labels).  For the uninitiated, this is old, and now seldom used, English terminology for a woman.  Usually used in a derogatory way, e.g. "I need to get some phlange tonight".  It made me smile when I saw it again as I don't think I've heard anyone use that word since about the time this record came out.  

Download the full 12" (7 tracks) in 320kbps MP3 format (52mb).

November 16, 2012

Jimi Zone

I didnt know about this J-Zone release until very recently. Its not really a mixtape or a mashup and its not a formal release either (so its not available from major retailers), therefore its kind of gone under the radar. "What is it then?", I hear  you asking.  Well, as J-Zone announces on the intro, hes produced this LP to pay tribute to Jimi Hendrix whom he was a great fan of, and because its the closest hell ever get to working with him. We certainly cant dispute that claim. But this isnt a traditional tribute or remix album either (trust J-Zone to do something a bit different).

If you can imagine for a moment that Jimi is still alive and he calls J-Zone up one morning saying,hey Zone, I need you to produce some tracks for my new album, then this is possibly what J-Zone would have produced. Its an instrumental album that fuses the funk and soul of Jimi Hendrix with the trademark production styles, infectious beats and zany samples that J-Zone has become so well known for. As an example of Zones wacky humour, theres a bit where he and Jimi have a little conversation with each other, much like James Brown used to talk to his band.

It makes for an interesting blend of styles that actually works really well. It also reminds me a little of Dangermouses Grey Album (where he reworked Beatles records into hip hop beats for the Jiggaman). And just like the Grey Album, it strikes the balance of not sounding too much like a straight sample or loop of the original artist, but retains their unique sound.

And if you like this Jimi Hendrix and J-Zone LP, then you may also like this compilation from DJ Concept that is along similar lines and contains additional contributions from J-Zone.

November 11, 2012

The Brotherhood - Descendants Of The Holocaust (Remix)

OK, so, I'll hold up my hand and admit that The Brotherhood kinda passed me by when I was a young 'un. In fact it was 1996 before I even knew they existed thanks to MTV screening the video promo to 'One Shot' - still my personal fave - on the UK rap show that aired after Yo's demise which I can't remember the name of. I think I must have not exactly rejected hip hop by then but I was still hanging on to the old school electro years as hip hop was beginning to become boring to me and not like it used to be so I may have stuck my head in the sand. Luckily for me I didn't bury it too far as I watched all the music shows on cable telly in the hope something decent would come around and of course it did. I bought the double vinyl LP, 'Elementalz' from the Virgin megastore a few days later and I still have it today. And that's all I had by them for many years until the internet revolution opened a whole world of 'digging' and my collection grew and I was surprised to find this 'britcore' style tune about 5 years ago. The UK style was unique back then as not everybody wanted to don MC Hammer trousers and dance like you were running on the spot to heavy hip hop beats that were aimed at b boys and b girls who still wanted to be just that. Elementalz is a step away from this record, maybe more than one as it has the head nodding almost Pete Rock-esque production style  but I guess at some stage you have to catch your breath from the old school, hardcore, fuck you music that was the signature UK style in the late eighties.

November 4, 2012

Month in Review

October has been a fairly quiet month in the blogasphere and interwebz.  Nevertheless there is always something of interest out there.  Here's my cream of the crop for October:

The Man With The Iron Fists - Soundtrack

With Rza dropping his (and Quentin Tarantion's) new film, it may surprise you to know that the accompanying soundtrack can be streamed in full, for free!  And just as you would expect from the Rza, it's a mainly hip hop affair.  Many of the Wu Tang members put in an appearance, alongside Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap, Talib Kweli, Kanye West and more. 
Which probably makes this one of the best soundtracks to accompany a mainstream movie for quite some time.  Although I guess that wasn't a particularly challenging achievement given the poor quality of most movie soundtracks.  Still, you might just enjoy it, especially Rivers of Blood with G Rap, it's the Wu-Tang back to their best.  If in doubt, check it out.

New Bumpy Knucks

Check out this new Bumpy Knuckles and Statik Selektah track, personally I thought it was better than Bumpy's recent efforts with Premo and this beat and tempo really suit his style and flow.

Chris Conway - Interview

You're probably saying to yourself 'who is Chris Conway?'.  Well read this interview and you'll see that he's one of hip hop's greatest unsung heroes.  As an engineer, Chris has worked closely with many of the biggest names in hip hop over the last two decades, including Kool G Rap, The Beatnuts, Eminem, most of DITC etc.  He's had a hand in many of our favourite classics.
Chris tells how he inadvertently taught Showbiz to use the MPC-60,  he reflects on Big L, discusses Eminem's intense attention to detail and how he influenced the mega hit Stan and plenty more.  To be honest I think Chris could have filled a 5 part interview with stories for days.

Peace out,
Mike Check