Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Slipperz Re-Ups

Re-Ups for dat azz. Or if you're from England like me, a reupload for your rectal cavity...because apparently we all speak like that over here. Anyway, enjoy the uncut Slipperz, they're cosy on your feet and music to your ears.

DJ Louis Slipperz £10 Bag Vol. 1

01. Intro
02. Jehst/Mystro/Braintax *
03. Big Tings - Rodney P
04. Rodney P *
05. Bashment Boogie - Roots Manuva
06. Witness The Fitness - Roots Manuva
07. Phi Life Cypher *
08. Who Is This? - Task Force/Phi Life Cypher
09. Simple Scratch
10. Dago Mentality - Ricochet Kalashnikov
11. Concrete Domes - Iasta B
12. Chester P/Mongo *
13. Skinnyman *
14. Dub Plate Pressures
15. Godnose - Braintax Ft. Task Force
16. Ramson Badbones/Chester P *
17. It's All Live - Super T/Jehst
18. Staircase 2 Stage - Harry Love W/ Bonus Farma G
19. Vadim Ft. Task Force
20. Scratch This Suckers
21. Little Man - Mud Fam
22. Day To Day - Skinnyman
23. One Last Scratch
24. Chester P *
25. Killa Kela Outro *

DJ Louis Slipperz £10 Bag Vol. 2

1. Intro (feat. The Kentish Town Kestral Klan)
2. Spies In The Coffin feat. Taskforce
3. UK Warriors feat. Roots Manuva
4. What You Need feat. Reveal & Doc Brown
5. Voodoo Style (skit)
6. Incognito feat. Lewis Parker
7. Yungun
8. Adventures In New Bohemia feat. Jehst
9. Spend It on feat. Yungun & Jehst
10.Tunnel Vision feat. Braintax
11.Nasty Boy feat. Admiral Dirtbag & Elmore Judd
12. Dirty Stopout Uncovered feat. Blak Twang & Rodney P
13. Farmasutra feat. Farma G
14. The Wickerman Theory feat. Chester P
15. Colonalize Man - DJ Vadim & Skinnyman
16. Arrest The President - Taskforce
17. P.O.W. - Panorama On Wax feat. Universal Soldiers
18. Rodney P & Mystro
19. Filthy - M.O.N.G.O.
20. Farma G & Ricochet Klashnekoff
21. Braintax
22. The Snake Charmer feat. Chester P
23. Rockstarz - Taskforce & Braintax
24. Beat Box Special - Killa Kela
25. Outro

Dj Louis Slipperz £10 Bag Vol. 3

1. Intro ft Kentish Town Kestral Klan
2. Chester P. – Glass House
3. Reveal & Doc Brown – Knock em Out
4. Jehst – Brimstone Rock
5. PhiLifeCyper
6. Yungun – Push
7. Farma G – Three minute movie
8. Chester P & Ramson Badbones
9. Klashnekov – Murda
10. Jehst & Yungun – Outrageous
11. Skinnyman – I’ll be surprised
12. Ramson Badbones – SSDD
13. Banjo Bounce
14. Menace
15. Mystro – Move Yourself
16. Taskforce & Rawdog – JD on ice
17. Asaviour – A track called It
18. Kashmere – Chopin’ Limbs
19. Chester P – Trouble &Strife
20. Real Deal Cypher – A tenna a pop
21. Pianostrumental
22. Joe Spitz
23. Mystro – Keep in check
24. Verb T - Instrumental
25. Last cut

Monday, 24 September 2007

The Greatest UK Rapper?

There has been a new addition of sorts to the Northern Author ranks. We have a new contributor (ish) who has been very kind to provide me with many links for you lot to download to your heart’s content, and I have looked at the albums on offer and there are some real pieces of British hip-hop history coming up in the next few weeks.

So, thank you to Adam Ross for his help and hopefully you can help out more in giving the people what they need on behalf of the Northern Author in the future.

First up, one of his link’s reunited an idea in my mind of a post I was going to do a few months back. I was looking through the albums on offer and came across the full length solo debut of UK rapper and absolute legend Blade.

Blade has been in the rap game as long as Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane or Large Professor, and arguably has created as vital a body of work as them. Maybe not on the same worldwide scale, but I know for a fact that thousands upon thousands of hip-hop fans (a lot not necessarily based in Britain) consider Blade to be more than just Mr. Consistency in the rap game. He was one half of the duo that created probably one of the most important UK rap albums there is, as ‘The Unknown’ with producer Mark B kicked in the door for all of the UK artists today that are getting success with their work.

‘The Unknown’ spawned some MASSIVE singles, the main one being ‘Ya Don’t See The Signs’, which got a remix from multi-award winning Feeder guitarist Grant Nicholas, which was the first UK hip-hop song to get into the Top 40 pop charts for a long time (for the oblivious, you may have heard this for the past five or six years as the theme tune to Soccer AM on Sky Sports)

However, Blade is and always was a solo artist first and foremost, and he has released some great solo work before and after that important album. Here, courtesy of my new internet mate Adam Ross, we have Blade’s ‘The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength’ from 1993. It was his first full length , and didn’t disappoint. When I was scouring the net to find some decent background info on the man himself I found his own website which tells us a lot more about the album than I have. It also gives an insight into just how determined Blade was to succeed in a British Rap market that was practically non-existant (or at least not known) at the time. Go here.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Blade - The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength (1993)

1. Keep It Goin On
2. Fade Em Out
3. Music For Universal Pleasure
5. How To Raise A Blade
6. No Compromise
7. Hold Your Own
8. Bedroom Demo
9. Pisstake
10. Take It To The Edge
11. ... Or Get Crushed Like A Pumpkin
12. Heads Are Forever Boppin’
13. Shut The Fuck Up
14. Silence Is Better Than Bullshit
15. No Mercy, No Future
16. The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength
17. The Power Of Positive Thinking
18. Survival Prelude
19. God Give Me Strength
20. Fuck The System
21. Dark & Sinister (feat. Mell‘O)
22. Suck On My Electric Guitar
23. Exit

To show how much the man’s music has changed through time, rather than put up his whole back catalogue (which I’m sure would not only be detriment to you all buying his records like you should be, and would of course be much more time consuming for me) I’m giving you his first and most recent efforts. Thirteen years after he released his first album, Blade brought out ‘Guerilla Tactics‘, which has a much more modern British sound, mostly due to producer extraordinaire Baby J handling all of the beats. Baby J, as already covered on this very site, has such a distinctive sound, and this album could have almost been Blade & Baby J, but in terms of the concepts within and the topics covered by Blade, its very much a personal effort.

The guest spots that are present are on the two ‘posse’ cuts on the album, ‘Army of Barmy Rappers’ and ‘The Massacre Begins’. The other guest spots are only chorus vocals sung by Baby J affiliates Larissa & Dwaine Hayden.

As a personal recommendation, ‘Four Walls’ is f**king immense, but the whole album is superb and one of the most refreshing UK hip-hop albums of the past two or three years. Funny how it takes an old hand to inject passion and focus into a genre while the young guns flap about, eh?

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Blade - Guerilla Tactics (2006)

1. Mumps
2. Four Walls
3. MCs Just Wanna Rhyme
4. System Of A Damned
5. Beatbox (5th Element)
6. I Found A Reason
7. Army Of Barmy Rappers (feat. S. Kalibre, Cipher, Manage, Respek-Ba & Rukus)
8. MC (2nd Element)
9. Its Your Time (feat. Laurissa)
10. Don’t Push Them
11. B-Boy (3rd Element)
12. She’s Gone
13. The Massacre Begins (feat. Yogi, Humurak D Gritty & Mystro)
14. Graffitti (4th Element)
15. B.L.A.D.E.
16. Round & Round
17. DJ (1st Element)
18. UK Hip Hop

Both are examples of how rap should sound in my opinion, which leads me to the question in the title. Is Blade UK's Greatest Rapper? He could very well be.

PS. As a sidenote, Certified Banger did a canny good post on some collaborations Blade has done in their 'Collabo Connections' series, so check that out too. Its seems that great minds really do think alike.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Destinies I Manifest...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Before Zion-I became a semi-famous rap crew with ties to the bay area, and before they changed their sound to widen their fan base by adding more traditional bay area (even may I suggest, hyphy) sounds capes, they were a deeply underground set that dibble-dabbled in some drum ‘n’ bass beat patterns and had that true indie sound that was so popular around the late Nineties.

I’ve always been a massive Zion-I fan, even to this day. Their producer Amp Live is criminally underrated behind the boards, and has created some truly special music, while the emcee Zion is always on his game. I do have an album by them called ‘The Collection’ which I purchased of eBay, which came out around the same time as ‘Curb Servin’ & ‘Deep Water Slang 2.0’ early 2003. Needless to say that CD is pretty much f*cked, because I took it everywhere I went for about two years and played it to death.

But before even that, I first discovered Zion-I kind of by mistake. I hadn’t heard of them before (this was around early 2001, which makes me about 15/16 years old) and just saw the front cover of their cd in an independent record shop in the backstreets of Newcastle. It caught my eye and I looked at the back. One of the songs featured Planet Asia, and another Rasco, both of which I was a big fan of at the time due to Rasco’s ‘Time Waits For No Man’ and Cali Agents’ ‘How The West Was Won’. It only cost about 5 quid so I thought what the hell, and bought it anyway. I didn’t have much expectations for it, but what I heard really struck me as something special.

The album has a very unique sound that is rooted in underground hip-hop but contains spacey-synths and, as aforementioned, drum ‘n’ bass influences. Zion-I have gone under the radar for most of their career, because in my opinion they have never released a poor album. Yet, somehow they never get the recognition they deserve.

They aren’t the only consistently good group in hip-hop, but they have always been one that I thought deserved to get their break in the big time. Well, whether they stay underground or hit the big time, I will always be counted among their fans, and their 2000 debut full-length ‘Mind Over Matter’ is the reason why.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Zion I - Mind Over Matter (2000)

1. Creation
2. Revolution (B Boy Anthem) (feat. Vin Roc)
3. Critical (feat. Planet Asia)
4. Mysterious Wayz
5. Tha Choice
6. Concrete Jungle
7. Metropolis
8. Oh Lawd
9. Trippin'
10. How Many
11. Elevation
12. Little Change
13. Fools Gold
14. Venus
15. Rap Degreez
16. Silly Puddy (feat. The Grouch)
17. Innerlight
18. Big Ups
19. All Tha Way (feat. Knowmatic, Eclipse 427 & Rasco)
20. One
21. Innerlight (Icy Remix)

Friday, 14 September 2007

*Review* - Kanye West - Graduation

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yup, everyone on the internet has already put in their two pence about this album, but I thought I’d add my own too, just because it’s the done thing really. I’ll set the scene in my mind about this whole thing first though.

This 50 Cent/Kanye opening week war was a load of rubbish. It was a commercial ploy and probably worked in terms of generating both artists more publicity and more money. But there’s another reason why its pointless. I’m very much against 50 Cent. I think he’s one of the worst things to happen to hip-hop in a long time. Unlike others, I even thought his early underground material was absolute crap and he has one of the worst flows and voices in rap. His lyrics are playschool at best and he seems to be a very unintelligent man for the most part. I’m all for everyone having their opinion and I think everyone is entitled to theirs, but on this specific subject I have to say, if you are a fan of 50 Cent then not only are you an idiot, but you are an ignorant twat who needs to be burnt at the stake for supporting someone so ridiculously untalented.

Right… now back to Kanye. I was hyping up Kanye West as a producer way before Through The Wire came out, and I think it was his credits on ‘Roc La Familia’ that really made me a fan at first (‘This Can’t Be Life’ springs to mind). He went on to be a great in-house producer for Roc-A-Fella and seemed to just get bigger and bigger with every song. I had all of his mixtapes and then wasn’t disappointed with ‘The College Dropout’, which is still one of the best commercial/chart hip-hop albums of the past 5 or 6 years.

I liked ‘Late Registration’, but was a little disappointed with the lack of proper boom-bap on the album. The songs were decent enough, they were just all watered down a bit more, and it was a bit too polished to be relevant in a hip-hop sense for me. Let’s say it was a good pop album rather than a good hip-hop album.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now Kanye’s back with ‘Graduation’ and he’s a bigger artist in a commercial sense than ever before. Let’s discuss the singles first.

I thought ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothin’ was brilliant. Its an example of West at his best. The lyrics are funny, well thought out and a little erratic (in a good way), and the beat is vintage Kanye. I loved this song from the get-go. Then came ‘Stronger’. One word to describe this song? LAZY. He hasn’t even ‘sampled’ Daft Punk. He’s basically just taken the song, put a different beat behind it and rapped some nonsensical words over the top. I really wasn’t impressed with this single. For an artist who is supposed to be as creative as he is this just smacks of him running out of ideas.

I listened to the album for the first time last night after putting it off for a while, and it got my attention straight away, as I liked the intro and ‘Champion’. ‘Champion’ and later on ‘The Glory’ both reminded me of the Kanye of old in a beat sense, and this what I was wanting to hear. Sadly, the rest of the album, with a few exceptions, is just boring pop drivel.

‘Good Life’ featuring T-Pain just, well, sounds like a song that features T-Pain, which translates as sounding like something that makes me recoil in disgust. ‘Barry Bonds’ featuring Lil’ Wayne was very weak. The beat is easily one of the most dull Kanye has created, and Lil’ Wayne continues his reign as being the most overrated man in rap today. ‘Drunk & Hot Girls’ could possibly be one of the worst songs Mos Def has ever been involved with (mind you, his career has took a nosedive after the disgrace that was ‘True Magic’). Ditto for ‘Flashing Lights’ featuring Dwele. Kanye seems to have attempted to get Dwele in for the respectability factor,. But then proceeds to give him a synthy pop beat and a chorus that sounds like its straight out of a Britney Spears or B2K song. Complete misuse of a guest star if you ask me.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘Everything I Am’ and ‘I Wonder’, but because they’re slow and don’t keep your attention very well, they don’t hold up to repeated listens.. After ‘The Glory’, there isn’t another good song on the album. There’s nothing wrong with the last few songs either, but its just so pedestrian.

The creativity isn’t there anymore, but even more glaringly obvious is the lack of enthusiasm in Kanye himself to deliver a good album. Other than on ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ & ‘Champion’, Kanye just trundles through the songs at a snail’s pace and just seems to be spitting out whatever lame lyrics come into his head. There’s no focus in the whole project. The reason ‘College Dropout’ was such a joy to hear was because of the thirst and passion contained in the music and lyrics. Even ‘Late Registration’ showed the same passion in songs such as ‘Crack Music’, ‘We Major’, ‘Touch The Sky’ and many others.

To sum up, this is the worst album of Kanye’s career, and I think West should have maybe kept some of those Common beats from ‘Be’ for his own project. A big disappointment.

Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Talking Points (Part I)

I apologise again (I'm making a habit of this!) for the lack of updates recently. There's two simple reasons for this: a) I've recently got a new job and have been training on it full-time and have found my spare time few and far between in the last few weeks, and b) my internet connection is awful and cut off for the last five days. To show my commitment to the cause, the first thing I've done getting back online is come here and start a belated blog entry. Let's get reacquainted.

This is the start of a new series of posts that will not appear in any regular slot or at a regular time every week as such. I will simply be discussing some things within the realms of hip-hop that have made me think outside of the box in recent times.

One thing I’ve always liked about hip-hop (and to a certain extent metal) is that the lyricism within sparks not only controversy, but serious discussion. Hip-hop is always at its best when the song has finished and you’re still thinking about the lyrics that you’ve just heard. Even though I didn’t agree with Chuck D on, well, everything (at times I actually found the man to be racist against white people in fact, as some of his songs follow the overused and never fully explained 'white devil' concept - I always feel like that sort of thing is a weak attempt of excusing your own failures through playing the race card, but thats a whole 'nother issue), I always found him interesting. This is why despite the fact I don’t agree with his viewpoints I own at least 6 or 7 Public Enemy albums and listen to them all on a regular basis, and also own and wear a black and green Public Enemy t-shirt with pride.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Chuck D started conversations, he elicited a response, and I honestly think that was his main intention. He knew how to sell records. You don’t need a record company plan. You don’t need scantily-clad lasses in your music videos. You don’t need to have a chiselled jaw and take your shirt off. You don’t even need to be associated with other big artists (although that does seem to help). All you need is something powerful that people will not only recognise you for, but never forget you for. The combination of great music and important and thought-provoking lyricism is the SOLE reason why artists are successful on a long-term basis.

The reason why 2Pac, although an overrated artist he was and still is, always gets thrown up as one of the best rappers in those discussions is not because of his ‘Ambitionz Az A Ridah’. Even though those songs are equally as good to listen to and take enjoyment from, it’s the ‘Changes’ and ‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’ type songs that people will constantly cite to back up their argument. it’s the same with any artist who is often thought of as being a classic rapper. Rakim has ‘Paid In Full’ one of the most relevant and most quoted rap verses about the struggles of being poor and trying just to get some money to allow you some enjoyment in life. Kool G Rap had ‘Streets of New York’. Even Eminem had ‘Stan’. it’s not what your body of work is that gets you put on a pedestal, its what your body of work arises within the listener.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

On that note, I’ll start this very first ‘Talking Point’ article with a touchy subject in recent times. The ‘War on Terror’. How does this link with hip-hop, you ask? Well, towards the end of 2006 and the start of 2007, Wu-Tang affiliate, and emcee and producer Cilvaringz released his rather tasty ‘I’ LP. It had that dusty Wu-Tang feel. The one from their very first album and the feel you got when you listen to ‘Tical’. The album, although light-years away from those Wu releases in terms of quality, was solid as a rock, but had a strange song in the shuffle. It had no beat, no music, just Cilvaringz rapping, more like speaking a 3 minute verse. The song was called ‘Death To America’.

I suggest you listen to the song before we go on, so here is the download:

Cilvaringz - Death To America (from 'I')

A bit heavy eh? I, being an Englishmen who watched 9/11 and the London bombings and saw the pain and terror they caused, find it hard to agree with the sentiments in the song. But its almost impossible to shrug off what is being said. The song is not a piss-take or satirisation of the way the war is perceived (I don’t believe that it is anyway), it is, or seems to be, the genuine perception of what is thought by the average Muslim in regards to the war in Iraq and in regards to the occupation of Iraq by British and American troops.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

In a way I hope Michael Moore had heard this song around the time of the making of Fahrenheit 9/11, as it may have took him to the other side of the war and given the film even more realism. The most harrowing moment of that film for me wasn’t the whole idea of Bush being supposedly in cahoots with the Bin Laden family, or even the awful scenes capturing the victims of bombings in Afghanistan, it was the scene with a young American soldier in an interview with Michael Moore. When Moore asked him whether he’d go back to Iraq, the Soldier simply said he would rather take the risk of jail time, sacrificing his own freedom, than going back to Iraq, and not for the reasons of the conditions of war, but because he couldn’t stand the fact that he knew he was killing innocent people.

This is the same line that this song takes, from the other side, but with the anger of a young man done wrong. As I mentioned before, I don’t agree with him, but it certainly got me thinking when I listened to it.

This is really a test run for this particular thing, as I'm not sure whether I get lots and lots of people coming to this site, or just a few Northern Author Junkies that log on here 10 times a day each! So, for those who have been receptive to this, download the song and give your opinion, whether politically-incorrect or not (I love political incorrectness personally) on the song itself and on the sentiments within it (not to mention what it made you feel and why). I'll reply to every comment and hopefully we can get some dialogue going between at least one or two of us. As I said earlier, this could die on its arse if no-one joins in, so its just a test run.