How’s your space-funk at the moment? Not so good eh? Not to worry, those crazy boys over at cosmicboogie.co.uk have just dropped two tripped out seventies classics that are so massive they could be seen from orbit. Space Machine floats lazily into your ears on a slo-mo funk break, is shortly joined by the vocals of Undisputed Truth lead singer Joe Harris who unleashes some classic acid-fuelled bollocks about how, “Our mission here on earth is peaceful/ We wanna free your funky mind,” and then the guitars kick in like the mothership taking off. Not quite sure how the dancefloor will take to it though. Drop it at the wrong time and you’ll be patrolling the galaxy on your own, get it just right and you’ll probably be able to establish an off-world colony based around free love. Ooh Child, on the other hand, is a more straight up sort of spacey disco funk. Mind you, given the nature of the genre that’s like saying George Clinton was ‘a bit less’ flamboyant than Bootsy Collins.
Out now on Cosmic Boogie
Listen to Cosmic Boogie – : The Undisputed Truth: Space Machine/ Charles Jackson: Ooh Child
Heavyweight piles into the hip-hop fray in a very similar way to Jake One’s White Van Music last year. By this I mean that it finds a talented producer hooking up with a host of talented MCs and dropping dope phatness. It’s even possible that Juliano (formerly one half of 90s duo The Creators), arguably has the edge on Jake One and that this has the potential to give a kick up the arse to a few flagging careers, proving once again that the music industry (and to some extent the public’s) obsession with rapper-cult-of-personality is forgetting one vital thing. It doesn’t matter how good the lyrics, nobody ever danced to poetry. When was the last time you heard a proper jump-up hip hop track anyway? The underground has been plagued by masturbatory production for too long – even if there has been some lyrical insanity. On the other hand, the mainstream shits out club beats like its got diarrhoea – but is plagued by lyrical inanity. This isn’t to say that everything on here will light fires under people’s feet – simply that Juliano remembers one of the key original premises of hip-hop. Move the crowd.
One of two promo singles for Heavyweight, Beatnuts’ vehicle Rock Ya Shoulders is exactly what I’m talking about – the best thing the Beatnuts have done since Watch Out Now and about the best thing for hip-hop dance floors since then too. Sampling an old funk 45 by New Orleans act Salt, the drums get a steroid injection and The Beatnuts cap it with effortless flow, “Keep on spitting that ‘me so fly shit’ and end up missing on some CSI shit’” and a classic vocal hook. The other big club banger on the LP is actually the one that brings it to a close – Keep On which finds Chalice and Ruk riding high on a chunky slice of funk with a “Hey, ho,” chorus that recalls Naughty By Nature’s Hip Hop Hooray. First track on the LP is so-so collab I Cried with Tragedy Khadafi and brings to mind nothing so much as an early Dilated Peoples track – Joell Ortiz fares rather better on the rather more dynamic beat of Take A Walk With Me, which is next up. Stones’ Throws much-vaunted secret weapon, Guilty Simpson delivers tight rhymes on Hip Hop Throwback on a beat that features punishing snares and latin brass while uncharacteristically, Little Brother fail to make much impact on Playin To Lose. Aasim does a turn on You Been Warned near the end of the LP that doesn’t hold up too badly and West coaster Evidence appears on the very 90s flavoured This Is For My Peoples and (if Dilated Peoples floated your boat before they went really boring and shit) you might get on with this – it does at least take away the bland aftertaste of Evidence’s last EP. The ‘other’ promo single Heat probably got more press a while back because of the presence of Mobb Deep and, while it’s moody strings are a grower, it’s far from the best track here. Phil Da Agony, Montage and Mo Money’s consideration of unsavoury characters “Who the hell is out the front of my house/ If they knew that I was watching with a blunt in my mouth…“ on Bad Cats (hot female vocal hook, menacing clavinet loops) is far and away better, as is Da Money featuring Glasses Malone (strings and another wicked female vocal loop). Posse cut Keep It Coming is another one with a big brass sound and the combined talents of Craig G, Will Pack and K Major.
It would be foolish to expect less than superb production on this and Juliano does not disappoint. The most noticeable feature is the percussion (particularly the snares) which is stupidly heavyweight and DJs need to beware that any track from this will make whatever precedes or follows it sound pathetically wimpy. Granted Heavyweight doesn’t break new ground stylistically – much (if not all) of it could have appeared between ‘98 and now – mostly in a good way, occasionally in a not-so-good way and at times in an excellent way. What it does do is remind anyone who still gives a shit about quality hip-hop that if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing properly.
Out now digitally on Recordkingz, CD soon and on vinyl…god knows…maybe when someone remembers that SOME people still play wax. Hint.
Listen to Recordkingz – Heavyweight
Recordkingz/ julinao Creator – Myspace
With Top Yourself (soon to be featured in upcoming Brit Football-hoolie flick Awaydays) The Amnesiacs musically shove The Ordinary Boys to the ground and snatch ska from their limp hold. Then they riotously sprint away, pausing only to give Will And The People a well-deserved shoeing, before returning the genre to pubs full of shouty pissed-up men. Want Your Body is somewhat more mellow, at least initially, and sounds a bit like irie Californian surf-ska-punks Slightly Stoopid might – if they’d lived all their lives in Toxteth rather than San Diego and whose favourite pastime was going down the local instead of getting fucked up on the chronic. Rough, ready and rude. Oi!
The Amnesiacs – Myspace
(PRESS RELEASE) One of the defining moments of this year’s SXSW was the pair of surprise collaborations between Atlanta garage rock rabble-rousers The Black Lips and Wu Tang impresario GZA. This first took place off the beaten path at The Compound for Dickies Battle of the Bands, inspiring the unlikely pair to enter into a whole new chamber together. Soon thereafter, rumblings shot down 6th Street that the unlikely collabo might occur again at The Vice Records Showcase later that night at Emo’s. Sure enough, immediately after the band took the stage, GZA emerged to a roomful of cheers and slack jaws. The following week, the web was atwitter with reports from both events and a grainy MTV video documented a piece of the experience.
Anyone who missed the display of hip-hop and gutter-rock allegiance has a chance to get in on the action. Indeed, the Lips are releasing an iTunes EP including “200 Million Thousand” fave “Drop I Hold” along with a never-before-heard version of the song featuring verses from the Genius himself, GZA. In addition, the release will feature an instrumental version of the track and the video for the album-version of “Drop”. All this, for a whopping $1.99 during its first week of availability, beginning Tuesday, May 5th. Hear for yourself below:
Black Lips are also on tour in the UK throughout May on the following dates:
14th – Brighton, The Fly at Great Escape
15th – Nottingham, Trent University
16th – Sheffield, Rollerpalooza
17th – Cardiff, The Globe
20th – Leeds, TJS
21st – Liverpool, City Sound Festival
22nd – Dublin, Crawdaddy
23rd – Glasgow, Oran Mor
24th – Manchester, Academy 3
26th – London, Electric Ballroom
The Black Lips – Myspace
GZA – Myspace
The unreleased fourth LP Is It Love Or Desire? by 70s funk-rock queen Betty Davis is finally due to see the light this September on Light In The Attic Records.
A former model, Betty Mabry was briefly married to jazz legend Miles Davis and turned the big man onto Sly Stone and Hendrix – thus she was a major catalyst in the creation of Miles’ landmark psychedelic epic Bitches Brew. She went on to release three massive and insanely overlooked funk-rock LPs (Betty Davis, They Say I’m Different and the mighty Nasty Gal) with a band she put together by cherry-picking members of The Family Stone and Tower Of Power.
Is It Love Or Desire? will be accompanied by sleeve notes from Oliver Wang of soul-sides.com.
Betty Davis – Myspace
It’s been two years since Philly Whizz’s excellent Random Era collaboration with partner in crime Ash The Gent and this second solo LP from the respected Scouse MC takes a typically no-prisoners approach to life as a rapper in a genre that is overlooked (UK Hip-hop) and in a city where (if Philly Whizz is to be believed), Shameless is less comedy and more documentary.
Inevitably, anyone familiar with the Random Era LP will find themselves making comparisons with this – and, for the first two thirds of the LP they will find this one somewhat different. As the title Inside The Axe Wound would suggest – shit isn’t always pretty though it’s related with black humour. Sick And Tired’s world weary observation is fairly representative thereof, “This is a story that must be told/ This isn’t a place where you wanna grow old…Nothing’s gonna change, nothing’s happenin la’/ But it’s alright we got Ringo Starr/ Scallies in the front, scallies in the back, prossies everywhere and they’re all on crack.” We Don’t Really Care finds Philly joined by Systems D for an amusing swipe at the industry, both the wannabe try-hards and mercenary southern A&R types. D.T. and C.B. is one of the more dancefloor-friendly efforts here – where Philly has a crack at groupies but the group who take the brunt of Phil’s ire (on more than a few tracks) are those males who constantly hide their insecurity behind posturing and brutal, random violence. A worthy crusade but after a while it becomes a little wearing to listen to and on One Man Mafia every bit as annoying as the people it critiques. Shawn on the other hand is a sympathetic ska-hop portrait of the archetypal boy on the verge of going bad due to lack of parenting and a state safety net with more holes in it than a sieve that’s been used for shotgun target practice.
When you get to the thirteenth out of sixteen tracks however, there’s a sudden and noticeable change. It’s almost like you’re listening to a second shorter EP bolted onto the first longer one. Shit gets all mellow and funky, the mood changes and it’s almost like you’re listening to – er – well – Random Era. Indeed, when Ash ‘The Gent’ Nugent pops up on the woozy stoned groove Slow Lane, you are. Keef and T.L vehicle All Mouth makes great use of a sample of the Life Of Brian stoning/ ‘Jehovah’ scene and Can’t Rewind maintains the mellow. Things are brought to a close by Shit City which melds the edge of the earlier tracks with the funkiness of the last few. Consistent and competent, and free of Philler (Leave it out! Bad Puns Ed.) – would that it had just a little more killer.
The name of the The Cool Kids’ long overdue long player When Fish Ride Bicycles was apparently meant to be a riff on the ‘when pigs fly’ idiom. Both of them might also function well as an answer to the question ‘When is it out?’. Allegedly the date is set for summer – in the meantime they’ve generously dropped a new mixtape. How good is that!:
Download – THE COOL KIDS: Gone Fishing mixtape
1. Introduction to Ice Fishing
2. Hammer Brothers
4. Gold Links
6. Premium Blends
7. Step Back
8. Jump Rope feat. Tennille
9. The Last Stretch feat. Jahda
10. The Art of Noise (interlude)
11. The Light Company
13. Wise Words by GLC -Told by GLC
14. Pennies (the updated rosters) Remix feat. Ludacris & Bun B
15. Broadcasting Live
16. Takin’ a Break
17. Tune Up
18. Weekend Girls feat. Ryan Leslie
19. Summer Vacations
20. Words of Wisdom by GLC – Told by GLC
21. Knocked Down
The Cool Kids – Myspace
Hot on the heels of his gnarly Audio Revolution LP, K-Dilla drops a ‘mixtape’ like they used to make, recorded live in one epic take. On two turntables. Only everything’s digital and shit now right? So you can cop the full glory of it here: DOWNLOAD – K DELIGHT Def Jam MIXTAPE complete with full artwork and stuff. It’s a veritable cornucopia of breaks and beats old and new featuring hip-hop, RnB, and funk. The whole track list stretches for miles but it’s a journey that’ll take you from Aceyalone to The Roots via DJ Mentat and the Nice Up crew and then head from Amerie to the Barkays via Alice Russell and The JBs. Forty-four tracks in just over an hour. Man don’t hang about innit!
K Delight – Myspace
An artist since his schooldays, John Dimery says he’s constantly inspired by things happening around him and ideas for artwork occur to him all the time which he has to write down or do a rough sketch immediately in case he forgets them. The downside to this is that his life is cluttered by hasty sketches on bits of paper. Highly versatile, Dimery is as apt to sculpt as he is to paint or draw, and as likely to do ‘straight’ book illustration as to knock up a canvas. Previous projects have included illustrations for Cornwall Today magazine, designing an insole for a skate shoe, and painting skateboards. He is starting to prepare for an exhibition to go on show in Cornwall in 2010 and ‘stuff’ for an art/ skate magazine to drop at about the same time. He listens to Band Of Horses, The Sea And Cake, Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Sonic Youth (before a skate), and Metallica (whilst cooking). He quite fancies having a bit more time to paint and sculpt and skate or surf when he’s not doing that but he hasn’t worked out how he’s going to fit it all in.
1. (-) Freestyle Professors – Luv U
It’s that ‘Bronx grimy sound’ y’all. Massive.
2. (-) Mako & The Hawk – Ain’t No Other Big Boss Man
Genius funk/ RnB mash-up.
3. (-) The Hangmen – Boogie Now
Philipino funk. No, really. Don’t knock till you’ve tried. (Hit Soul Jugglers sample – listen link is wrong at source))
4. (1) The Hawk – Electric Boogaloo
Crazy bongo breaks and electro flourishes? Pumas on and mat out!
5. (3) Recordkingz (feat. The Beatnuts) – Rock Ya Shoulders
News Orleans funk sampling banger.
6. (4) Black Pepper – You Keep Running Out Of Gas
Re-issue of sweet, funky, 60s sister-soul classic.
7. (2) Rup – Make Moves
The wordsmith returns on this funky robotic bounce.
8. (-) Dr Crobe – Money Grows
Northern sou- er – I mean hip-hop, with added squelchy wah-wah.
9. (-) Wolfmother – Back Round
Hairy snarling rock beast. Obviously.
10. (-) The Killer Meters – Freak
More Betty Davis style funk-rock from upcoming LP.