Sunday, 19 February 2012

Busta Rhymes & J-Dilla - The Collection

Over the course of his (almost) 20 year career, Busta Rhymes has managed to stick close to a lot of his guns. Sure, in recent times he has been known to pursue a quick payday with a guest spot here for Tiesto, or a guest spot there for the Pussycat Dolls, and he has always had at least one track on his solo albums that have chased that elusive pop chart topper.

But one thing you have to respect about the man is that regardless of these temporary pursuits, he has been working with largely the same group of producers for most of his career. DJ Scratch has been on practically everything Busta has released in one way or another. Spliff Star has been surgically attached to his hip for 15 years, and no-one even knows what he does yet. Q-Tip invited him in to star on an ATCQ song in 1991 and they've been working together off and on ever since.

And then there's Jay Dee. Dilla.

Largely regarded as one of our generation's best ever producers, Dilla has been a mainstay of Busta's discography. Most of the tracks they've done together have nestled into his albums silently, often hidden deep in the middle of an album and never a single to be released. However, despite this, these are the very tracks that, for me, have became the bedrock of a Busta Rhymes album. The songs that make the albums worthwhile for repeated listens, even in some cases more than a decade later.

Ever since Busta starred on '1, 2 Shit' by A Tribe Called Quest over a Jay Dee/Ummah beat, the two have worked together in some form on most of his albums, with only 'Extinction Level Event' in 1998 and 'Back On My B.S.' in 2009 of his 8 full studio albums released without at least one burst of James Yancey's talent.

As Busta has been known for a lot of songs, but rarely his Dilla ones, and Dilla has been largely attributed to a huge amount of influence in music, but his Busta Rhymes beats are often overlooked, I've decided to immortalise their work together on one album to showcase just how brilliant a pairing they were.

A Jay Dee beat brought out the incredible character in Bus-A-Buss and that infectious personality surely affected Dilla enough to reciprocate with exciting, entertaining and creative beats.

There's the simple boom-bap of 'So Hardcore', the laid back bounce on 'Show Me What You Got', and the futuristic echoes of 'Make It Hurt' amongst so many other genuinely great great songs.

Recorded over a period of a decade, this is a home-made Northern Author collection I've listened to many a time as a playlist, and it's time I share it with the world.

They did in fact release a mixtape together entitled 'Dillagence' in the mid-2000s the year after Jay Dee passed away, but despite it's great intentions, that mixtape never truly did their working relationship any justice.

Obviously, it goes without saying that you should own these records already, and if not, I can't stress enough why you should. The artists deserve their payola for making the music that ultimately can shape our lives and that sentiment is never more correct than when dealing with true greats. Show respect for one of rap's true greats in Busta Rhymes, and his extraordinary work with one of the greatest producers of all time, Mr James Yancey AKA Jay Dee. Happy Dilla Month.

1. Still Shining
2. It Ain't Safe No More (feat. Meka)
3. Enjoy Da Ride
4. Turn Me Up Some
5. Genesis
6. So Hardcore
7. Ill Vibe (Jay Dee Remix)
8. It's A Party (feat Zhane) (Ummah Remix)
9. Woo-Hah (Got You All In Check) (Jay Dee Bounce Mix)
10. Show Me What You Got
11. Keep It Movin' (feat. Charlie Brown, Dinco D & Milo In De Dance)
12. What Up
13. Live It Up
14. Woo-Hah (Jay Dee Other Shit Remix)
15. Make It Hurt
16. You Can't Hold The Torch (feat. Q-Tip & Chauncey Black)

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Best DJ Premier Beats of 2011

Recently on there was a poll for hip-hop fans to vote on which beat Primo had produced in 2011 that they thought was his finest work. As far as I was aware, the Works of Mart were relatively small and low-key over the past 12 months, aside from a few tracks on the Evidence LP - but I was clearly mistaken.

Primo is a workaholic behind the boards. When he isn't producing tracks for his core family of Big Shug, the Year Round family, Freddie Foxxx, Big Shug's mother or Big Shug's landlord's stepdaughter, he's branching out and bringing some of his trademark boom-bap to overseas artists or musicians from outside his comfort zone.

So, I decided to compile the tracks rap fans voted highest in the poll into one nice, compact little album for general consumption. Isn't that nice of me? I'm sure Primo will approve.

There's a lot to like here, as usual. If you're a fan of DJ Premier (and if you're not you really have no place looking at any rap blog whatsoever - get back to your hippy bullshit and buy a thin tie and some elbow patches - pick up that empty Lana del Rey album while you're there) you know what to expect.

He has a very defined sound which hasn't really changed for a decade now. Some people would consider that to be a downside, and in some ways it has led to the popular opinion that hearing a new Primo beat isn't as exciting as it was say, in the late 90s. I can't really disagree with this, but it doesn't change the fact that he is a top 5 DOA producer in hip-hop history, and there aren't really many people out there that can claim to have a better discography than him.

Here he continues his legacy with a set of mostly understated tunes, none of which will make their way into the average backpackers 'favourite Primo beat ever' sentence, but songs that we can all respect and listen to on our iPods regularly with glee.

The beat that was voted highest in the pool was 'You' by Dilated Peoples emcee Evidence, which was from his superb full-length 'Cats & Dogs'. That particular choice isn't too surprising as it was arguably the most high-profile beat on the list aside from 'Born In The Trap' from Dr.Dre's former butler and reference library The Game. Then there's the remix to 'Writer's Block' from Royce & Eminem's successful Bad Meets Evil EP, which eclipses the original with relative ease. Royce is the only artist that appears twice on the list, as he brought Primo on board for 'Second Place' for his solo LP 'Success Is Certain'.

Strangely, my favourite beat on here is probably the remix to 'Embody' by French dance producer SebastiAn, as not only does it keep the general vibe of the superb original song, but it opens up a great great track to a whole different genre. DJ Premier seems to be producing for a lot more eclectic set of artists these days, from pop to dance to rap, both US and overseas, and that can only be commended.

Enjoy everything here. And thank DJ Premier for the music. RIP Guru.

1. Evidence - You
2. Reks - 25th Hour
3. Torae - For The Record
4. Prop Dylan - Shock & Amaze
5. Edo G - Fastlane
6. The Game - Born In The Trap
7. Apathy (feat. Celph Titled) - Stop What Ya Doin'
8. DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles - B.A.P.
9. Royce Da 5'9" - Second Place
10. Venom - Vigilantes (DJ Premier VHS Remix)
11. Bad Meets Evil - Writer's Block (DJ Premier Remix)
12. Big Shug - We Miss You (Guru Tribute)
13. Kendra Morris - Concrete Waves (DJ Premier 320 Remix)
14. Mac Miller - Face The Facts
15. Bushido - Gangster
16. DJ Fudge (feat. Afrika Bambaataa) - Jump Up (DJ Premier Remix)
17. SebastiAn - Embody (DJ Premier 95 Break Remix)
18. Nick Javas (feat. Khaleel) - Anonymous

Monday, 2 January 2012

It's So Hard Out Here For A G

The turn of the new year brings some new music from one of UK rap's true living legends. Farma G, one half of Taskforce, is set to release a new EP entitled 'The Art Of Moron' with hints given in this first leaked track as to who the targets are.

'It's So Hard' is a superb starting point for the EP, due out this month, and strangely enough, the real shining star in the song is the production. Farma Jesus does his thing on the vocals as you'd expect, but the beat is a sensational cut of emotional soul rap filled with drama, sadness and passion. It comes courtesy of Life Scarz, a producer who admittedly hasn't been on my radar until now. Consider that corrected from this moment forth. Listen to the track below, and look out for Farma G's new release later on in January.

Follow Farma G on twitter for more info:
Follow Life Scarz on soundcloud for more beats: