Wednesday, 24 September 2008

American Exchange

baby j

I've talked and talked in the past about Baby J's production credentials on this site since day one, and highlighted the modern UK classics he's already created with countless british emcees.

He has three solid producer albums under his belt, all of which have been well-recieved. He's helped Blade craft arguably one of his best albums a couple of years back in 'Guerilla Tactics' and he is about to unleash new material very soon. One thing Baby J doesn't get credited for is his work with US emcees.

Even on his debut album 'Birth' he had songs with Shabaam Sahdeeq of the late 90s indie label Rawkus fame. In fact, one of his best ever songs was with revolutionary, at times quite racist but always entertaining 'dead prez' on his song 'Scattered People'.

One US group that have been a permanent fixture on Baby J albums is the A-Alikes. They are a duo who are loosely affiliated with dead prez and Tahir (Hedrush) and they make some hard-hitting tracks. Whilst not the MOST talented duo, they certainly know their way around a hook and a beat. Also, with Baby J producing every track on this album, they couldn't really fail.

'Kill The Middleman' is a solid if not spectacular that showcases J as notjust a one trick pony. Although he does rely on soul samples a lot of the time, he has proved that he has other weapons in his arsenal.

A-Alikes - Kill The Middleman (2005)

1. Intro
2. Pop Off
3. Young Buk to OG (feat. I.G.)
4. Love Is Love
5. Why? (feat. Laurissa)
6. Freedom
7. Treeman
8. Keep It Funky
9. What Niggaz Do
10. Throw Ya Gunz
11. I'll Probably Wind Up
12. If I Get On (feat. Teresa)
13. The Babies
14. Some Of Us
15. Snitch
16. Eenie Meanie (feat. Teresa)
17. Strategy
18. Grey Skies

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Wreck The House

Let's go back to the very turn of the century. Its 2000, there is a certain smell in the air. Some man is fishing on a dock and he notices the ripples of the sea are quickly increasing in size. He looks into the distance and sees a wave of monumental proportions heading his way. He drops in rod and desperatly tries to escape its clutches. However, its too late. The man gets swallowed up by the wave in double-quick time. Only its not a wave. Something in the water caused that wave and he's surfaced to wreak havoc on decks nationwide. It's Agzilla!!!!!

Sadly, in this album there are no excerpts from Matthew Broderick or Hank Azaria. There are no smaller agzilla's hatching in the bowels of Madison Square Garden. But there are a ridiculous amount of heavy beats interspersed with large doses of scratching & film quotes.

Deckwrecka (aka Agzilla) came out with his debut full-length album 'V...For Vengeance' in 2000, a rip-roaring hour of nothing but beats and breaks that would put a smile on any b-boy Brit's face.

Wrecka's LP was incidentally the first ever release from UK label Ronin Records, famous pretty much only for being the label that released the classic 'COuntryman' by Skitz. But more on him later. This album makes up with great scratching and quotables what it loses from a lack of vocalists, and its the type of CD you can just put on and listen to all the way through as a full piece of music. Sit back, light a blunt (or in my case put the kettle on and make a cup of tea cos I don't smoke that sh*t) and enjoy some proper turntablism.


1. Intro
2. The Big Up
3. Assassin's Road
4. Secret Warz
5. My Thesis
6. Furious Styles
7. 23 Forever
8. Sever The Wicked
9. Dedication
10. Change The Style (interlude)
11. Scores On The Doors
12. Sycosis
13. Double Zero Zero
14. Ogami's way
15. Live @ Visage
16. Catch Wrecka
17. Deleted Files (Bonus Beats)
18. Mind Control
19. Tsik Wei Step
20. Bayou Boogie
21. Zilla's Theme
22. Rough Winds
23. The Return
24. Ghetto Princess
25. Rice Cakes
26. Hah Breakdown
27. 5 Door Finale
28. Outro - Deckwrecka Theme

Skitz & Pieces

skitz rodney

I did say in the last post 'more on Skitz later', and this is what I meant. Daddy Skitz released a series of mixtapes in the past few years (I say a series, I mean err...two volumes) engineered to mix the best talent from UK, intersperse their music with a couple of choice tracks from overseas and bring the fans some exclusives along the way.

'Homegrown Vol. 1' kind of went under the radar when it came out and the second one didnt do much better, but don't let their lack of sales take away from the fact that they are brilliant compilations. To be honest though, hardly any UK hip-hop albums get good sales figures unless you're called Dizzee so no-one on our shores should really worry about that anyway.

The album is less mixtape more track selection, coming off just like Skitz himself was in his front room picking tracks he likes at the time on his iTunes just to listen to. Believe me, this is a good thing, because this man has been there and done it all and probably knows more about UK hip-hop than anyone else in the game.

He's released a classic album I still listen to religiously to this day, he's had a very succesful 1Xtra show with Rodney P, he's produced countless tracks for pretty much anyone who is anyone in our genre and he's still got a lot left in his tank.

The album is from 2004, and its like a small time capsule of hot tracks from the time, featuring Million Dan's SEMINAL monster hit 'Dogz & Sledgez', Pharoahe Monch's brilliant political attack 'Agent Orange', Canadian rapper-who-has-just-sold-out-and-is-just-about-to-blow-up-because-of-it Kardinal Offishall with arguably his best ever song 'Bakardi Slang' (if you don't know or haven't heard this song, the beat is pretty astounding).

Great artists like Seanie T, Rodney P, Taskforce, Braintax, Phi Life Cypher, Skinnyman, Roots Manuva, actually pretty much every big name in UK rap are on here, and the album itself shines because of it. Great selection, great DJ, great download.

skitz 2

1. Skitz & Solomon - Intro
2. Million Dan - Dogz & Sledgez
3. Keith Lawrence (feat. Seanie T) - Muzik Ed Special
4. Life & Nappa of Phi Life Cypher - Soldiers
5. Kardinal Offishall - Bakardi Slang
6. The Extremists - Revolution
7. Pursuit & Taskforce - Norse Code
8. Terra Firma - Sionara (Skitz Xclusive Mix)
9. Braintax - Just Me
10. Karl Hinds (feat Seanie T & Toyin) - You Done Know (Live-O)
11. Skibadee - The Greatest Show
12. Dynamite MC - Bubble
13. Pharoahe Monch - Agent Orange
14. Roots Manuva - Check It
15. Skitz, MC D & 2Ice - Champion Sound
16. Rascalz (feat. Notch) - Warrior (Dirty Version)
17. Ty (feat. Roots Manuva) - So U Want More? (Revox)
18. Beyond There (feat. Yungun & Jehst) - Slumber (Skitz Xclusive Mix)
19. Rodney P - Big Black Boots
20. Sterling Collat (feat. Skeme, Dirt T & Big P) - What Goin On
21. The Sea & Mr Ti2bs - Introducing Mr Tibbs
22. Skinnyman - What's My Life Like

Sunday, 7 September 2008

New Events & Videos

Just while I'm away from my music collection for a week, here's a word from the sponsors:

hhc ad

Hip-Hop Connection magazine are celebrating their 20th anniversary this Autumn. For the first time ever, the world's longest running hip-hop magazine Hip-Hop Connection will go on tour. With a line-up designed to attract all spectrum's of hip-hop fans, this tour is set to be one of the most historically important events in British Hip-Hop.

Leeds Hip Hop Scene have teamed up with the longest hip hop magazine in the world to bring a special one off gig at the Wardrobe in Leeds on 4th October 2008.The night will feature an all-star team of UK Hip-Hop artists,Million Dan, Jehst, Stig Of The Dump, Dr Syntax, Klashnekoff and hosted by Baby J.

The night is guaranteed to have crowd participation, featuring an open mic emcee battle hosted by Million Dan and product giveaways (free artist merchandise, free copies of Hip-Hop Connection, free CDs, free Puma goodies, free LHHS gear and much much more).

50 Special Advanced Tickets for £10 from will be available from 9am Monday 8th September 2008.

Further Tickets will go on sale later in the month via Jumbo Records in Leeds, & if that wasn't enough for you we have Blak Twang performing at the Wardrobe in Leeds November 2008 look out for more info!!

To tide you over till the next post, here's some brand new videos you might enjoy:

ROOTS MANUVA - again & again

BLAK TWANG - champagne lifestyle

Friday, 5 September 2008

A British Soul

Right, then lads and lasses. Something a little different for your ears instead of the usual hip-hop. Here is the debut album 'Just Living' by Kevin Mark Trail, a British born singer-songwriter.

KMT is a brilliant soul singer that makes exemplary and modest soul music ideal for any night in. This album garnered HUGE critical acclaim from everyone from The Guardian to being pondered over for a Mercury Music Prize nomination. You may know him, or at least his voice, as he guested on two tracks on The Streets' debut 'Original Pirate Material', most notably he sung the chorus on the single 'Lets Push Things Forward'.

After touring with Mike Skinner he went out alone to push his solo career and this first release is a great introduction to his sound. Plus, he had UK legends Blak Twang (so glad he brought out new if only I had money to buy...) and Rodney P on the remix to his song 'Last Night', so you can't argue with that. Hopefully the man will come out with some more material soon and not get lost in the already massive pile of r'n'b singer that failed to really blow up commercially despite their considerable talent. Sit back, make a hot beverage, wear a cardigan, and relax in front of the fire (or the radiator for the lesser posh) to the sounds of Kevin Mark Trail.

kevin mark trail

1. D Thames
2. Vibe
3. Lion By Trade
4. Last Night
5. Ticket Line
6. Bread
7. Ego City
8. Full Moon
9. Breathless
10. Backbone
11. Perspective
12. City Boy

Kevin Mark Trail - Last Night REMIX feat Blak Twang & Rodney P (VIDEO)

Back to Business

Finally here we go with some more Great British material from our beloved urban scene! Today we have the underground duo of Jiff & Rap6, better known as Paragon.

In 2004 they released their long-awaited, long-anticipated long-player 'The Long Road' to some critical acclaim and not much else. Their videos got a bit of play on the now very poor Channel U when it first arrived on UK digital television and it seemed that they were a group ready to set alight the airwaves (or at least the pirate airwaves) of England. Four years down the line and save for one or two singles they have pretty much disappeared off the face of the earth (to my knowledge anyway), and that is a very sad thing.

In fact, Paragon had been going a HELL of a long time before they got their acclaim and dues for 'The Long Road' - it was actually a decade of hard work for them before they put the album out!

The album is true underground hip-hop in a universal sense as it has that gritty sound, but Jiff & Rap6 are true Brit rhymers through their slang and delivery, and the sound is much more warmer than some underground emcees from the US. By that I mean the production value is at a paramount and always solid throughout.

The big hit from the album was 'The Anthem', and if you were big on UK rap in the early 00s and youu havent heard it then shame on you. They followed that up with the, frankly, exquisite ode to the ladies 'Queen Like No Other' and eventually a year later a remix to 'The Anthem' was released to much fanfare (see video below).

The album features guest spots from such UK stalwarts as Tommy Evans, Cashino & Asaviour and is a very enjoyable listen.


1. Intro
2. 16 Bars Aren't Enough (feat. Finale)
3. The Anthem (feat. Esta)
4. You're Making Me Laugh
5. Queen Like No Other
6. Back Against The Wall (feat. Dil, Toby Thompson & Ms Davies)
7. Give It Up (feat.Dil)
8. You Just Don't Get It
9. Music (feat. DBlack, Cashino & Toby Thompson)
10. Hard To Believe
11. Beef
12. Alright
13. V.I.P. (feat. Toby Thompson)
14. The Heist (feat. Redmaster & C-Lone)
15. You (feat. Sam The Man)
16. UK Hot With It (feat. Asaviour & Tommy Evans)