Category Archives: HipHop

LL Cool J – Rock The Bells (1985)


In 1985, Run-D.M.C. had already broken ground by fully realising a rap album; Ladies Love Cool James was the first to follow with the release of his classic debut Radio. It was also the first seminal work of maniac producer Rick Rubin on his Def Jam label, a year before the release of the ubiquitous Licensed To Ill. ‘Rock The Bells’ is a standout track with its bare-bones b-boy beats. At the time, you just had to crank up the beatbox. Cut Creator delivered; Terminator X was listening. Have a great weekend.

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KRS-One – Step Into A World (A Rapper’s Delight) (1997)


Grandmaster Flash was not the only artist to sample ‘Rapture’, Blondie’s tribute to the MCs of the Bronx and Brooklyn in the late 1970s. In 1997, old school rapper Kris Parker (aka KRS-One) used the track as the basis for his single ‘Step Into A World’. Even conscious rap needs great samples, and like many other hip hop tracks, it also features a looped sample from b-boy fave ‘The Champ’ by The Mohawks.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1987

Another bank holiday and some recent nostalgia about Public Enemy…  it doesn’t take much for me to start curating. These are my favourite sounds of 1987, in no particular order (save a desire to kick off with ‘Bring The Noise’!).

Public Enemy – Bring The Noise

Chris Rea – Josephine (La Version Française)

Phuture – Acid Tracks

Prince – If I Was Your Girlfriend

U2 – Where The Streets Have No Name

Eric B. And Rakim – I Know You Got Soul

Rhythim Is Rhythim – Strings of Life

New Order – True Faith

Fleetwood Mac – Big Love


Honourable mentions also go to: Ce Ce Rogers for ‘Someday‘; Frankie Knuckles & Jamie Principle for ‘Your Love’; The Cure for ‘Just Like Heaven’; Sugarcubes for ‘Birthday’; R.E.M. ‎for ‘Its The End Of The World As We Know It’; Aztec Camera for ‘Somewhere In My Heart‘; INXS for ‘Need You Tonight‘; Deacon Blue ‎for ‘Dignity‘; Depeche Mode for ‘Behind The Wheel‘ and ‘Never Let Me Down Again’; Stone Roses for ‘Sally Cinnamon‘; Terence Trent D’Arby for ‘Sign Your Name‘; U2 for ‘With Or Without You’; Eric B. And Rakim for ‘Paid In Full‘ and ‘I Ain’t No Joke‘, Public Enemy ‎for ‘Rebel Without A Pause‘; Prince for ‘Sign O’ The Times’; and Pet Shop Boys ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?‘.

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Public Enemy ‎- Rebel Without A Pause (1987)


In the late autumn of 1987, I experienced a concert forever etched on my mind. I went with a friend to see LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Erik B & Rakim at the Hammersmith Odeon. It is a memory that no one can rob from me – a visual and aural bombardment. I could go on about the chutzpah of Cool James and the sound of Erik B & Rakim, but even those memories fade compared to the sight of Chuck D and Flavor Flav flanked by its crew, Security of the First World (or the S1Ws), all dressed in paramilitary kit and armed with simulation Uzis. ‘Rebel Without A Pause’ had been released as the B-side to their preceding single, ‘You Gonna Get Yours/Mi Uzi Weighs A Ton’. The song would be one of the many highlights their album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, released the following year. The album would open with an introduction from the MC Dave Pearce from that night: “Hammersmith Odeon are you ready for the Def Jam Tour? Let me hear you make some noise!” The event became immortal.

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Tyler, The Creator – EARFQUAKE (2019)


Last year, Tyler, The Creator, the rapper-turned-singer, released his sixth album, IGOR. It features the single ‘EARFQUAKE’ that he claims he’d originally written for Justin Bieber. Hard to imagine a production different to the idiosyncratic one it became. Tyler sings about heartbreak while supported by a blue suit, the vocals of R&B singer Charlie Wilson, Dev Hynes (fka Lightspeed Champion) and the indecipherable lines of Playboi Carti. Have a great weekend.

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Jay Electronica feat. Jay-Z – Ghost of Soulja Slim (2020)


16 years after ‘Renaissance Man‘ and 11 after the show-stopping ‘Exhibit C‘, Jay Electronica (“Jay Elec-Hannukah/Jay Elec-Yarmulke/Jay Elect-Ramadaan Muhammad Asalaamica/Rasoul Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala through your monitor”) finally delivers an album. The God MC released A Written Testimony on Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label last month. The album’s first real track ‘Ghost of Soulja Slim’ opens with Minister Louis Farrakhan quickly followed by Jay-Z and Jay Elec. The hip hop world stood still in anticipation. It does not let down.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1988

Easter bank holiday and I’ve had the opportunity to look back… way back. 1988 was the year that I wore out my vinyl copy of Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, but in reality most of its standout singles had dropped the year before. But in a similar vein, 1988 was also the year that Inner City released their classic house/chart crossover singles, prior to their big LP, Paradise, a year later.

Inner City – Big Fun

Dinosaur Jr. – Freak Scene

Happy Mondays – Wrote For Luck

The Fall – Big New Prinz

Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock – It Takes Two

The Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

The Style Council – Changing The Guard

Pixies – Where Is My Mind?

R.E.M. – Hairshirt


Honourable mentions also go to: Rhythim Is Rhythim for ‘It Is What It Is‘; The Todd Terry Project for ‘Weekend’ and ‘Bango (To The Batmobile‘; Kariya for ‘Let Me Love You For Tonight‘; Prince for ‘Alphabet Street’; Phase II for ‘Reachin’; Public Enemy for ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’; Sugar Bear for ‘Don’t Scandalize Mine’; A Guy Called Gerald for ‘Voodoo Ray (Paradise Ballroom Mix)‘; Inner City for ‘Good Life’; and Neneh Cherry ‎for ‘Buffalo Stance’.

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Run The Jewels feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier – Ooh La La (2020)


Run The Jewels, aka RTJ, is the vehicle for rappers El-P and Killer Mike. It has been quite a wait since their acclaimed album RTJ3 was released in 2017; and so any advances of RTJ4 are well received. The latest is the single ‘Ooh La La’, with some typical boom-bap hip hop, of course, but helped along by DJ Premier and Greg Nice from Nice & Smooth. The Gang Starr sample is a nice touch too. Have a great weekend.

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Beastie Boys – Rhymin’ & Stealin’ (1986)


Good morning folks! This was the defining sound of 1986 to these ears. ‘Rhymin’ & Stealin’’ kicked off the Beastie Boys’ debut album Licensed to Ill. “Most illingest be-boy – I got that feeling/ ‘Cause I am most ill and I’m rhymin’ and stealin’/ Ali Baba and the forty thieves/ Ali Baba and the forty thieves…”. Have a great week.

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De La Soul – Plug Tunin’ (1988)

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Where it all started for hip hop trio De La Soul, ‘Plug Tunin” was their debut single and set the direction of sound that the group would explore so successfully over the following couple of years. A remix of the track would feature on their album 3 Feet High and Rising. “Transistors are never more shown with like / When vocal flow brings it all down in ruin / Due to a clue of a naughty noise called Plug Tunin’ (Hmm-mm, hmm-mm, hmm-mm, hmm-mm, hmmmm)”… says it all.

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DJ Suede (feat. Pastor Duranice Pace, Grey & Fatha Lee) – Thankful (2018)

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Trap producer and mixer DJ Suede is sometimes also modestly known as DJ Suede the Remix God. He was was born Keenan Webb in Douglas, Georgia in 1990, where he began making music at age 12. He released this mix of a Pastor Duranice Pace uplifting sermon/song in 2018. Have a great weekend and always be grateful.

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Questlove ‎- Goodbye Isaac (2008)

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Good morning. After an action-packed weekend in the Alps, it’s a slow start today and time for a calm beat. Questlove’s track ‘Goodbye Isaac’ was created by Ahmir Thompson (aka Questlove), Randy Watson and James Poyser in tribute to Isaac Hayes. The beat was respectfully laid down the day the Black Moses passed away. Like Hayes, Thompson is an artist, a producer, an actor and author, but best known as the drummer and joint frontman for The Roots. Have a great week.

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Lil Wayne – I’m Me (2007)


No Christmas decoration this morning, but this time of the year is full of self reflection. Between a couple of blockbuster albums, Tha Carter II (2005) & Tha Carter III (2008), southern hip hop artist Lil Wayne released a legendary run of mixtapes that cemented his self-proclaimed title as “best rapper alive”. Originally named ‘1000 Degreez’, the track ‘I’m Me’ was intended a confident opening to Tha Carter III. However, after it had been leaked, it was released prematurely with four other songs on 2007’s aptly-named The Leak. As strong as Tha Carter III is, a mixtape version which included tracks that had been tossed, leaked and/or overlooked was even stronger. This was an artist at the top of his game. His descent would be swift.

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9 of the best – sounds of 1989

As we enter the season of best-of lists, I have found myself looking back at 1989. Which songs feel 30 years old and which beg the question: has it really been 30 years? I give you my favourite nine sounds of 1989, in no particular order…

The Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection

The Blue Nile ‎- The Downtown Lights

The Cure – Lullaby

Kate Bush – This Woman’s Work

Beastie Boys ‎- Egg Man

Pixies – Debaser

Lenny Kravitz – Sittin’ On Top Of The World

Lil Louis ‎- French Kiss

Soul II Soul – Back To Life


Honourable mentions also go to: 808 State for ‘Pacific State 202‘; Happy Mondays for ‘Hallelujah‘, Pixies for ‘Hey; The Stone Roses for ‘Fools Gold‘, ‘I Wanna Be Adored‘ and ‘She Bangs The Drums’; Faith No More for ‘Epic‘; De La Soul for ‘Me Myself And I’; The KLF for ‘3 A.M Eternal (Pure Trance 2)‘; and Frankie Knuckles for ‘Tears’.


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