Monthly Archives: January 2010

RJD2: The Colossus – 2010 – Album review

Rating: ★★½☆☆

This week’s guest album review style comes courtesy of gratuitously offensive print mag Heat. Because their music review format is actually quite dull though, we’re using their film review format instead to take a closer look at the latest full-length effort from RJD2. Or Ramble John Krohn as his mum knows him…
The beats stupid! Always inventive and funky with those drum patterns or samples RJ doesn’t disappoint on this score once again. The production is also strong (as past form would lead you to expect) and this is slightly less self-indulgent than last effort The Third Hand for which read that RJD2 limits himself to only singing on a few tracks this time though, surprisingly, the biggest hook on the LP does actually come from Glow on which Krohn sings.
Hmm – where to start? Well, it’s a shame those great beats are all plastered with soundscapes that call to mind nothing so much as 70s prog rock (and let’s face it – all the warning signs are there in the LP cover) – the only saving grace being that even RJD2 baulks at dropping 20 minute tracks – though having heard this – I wouldn’t put it past him next time round. Even when he does what he does best and ropes in a some rappers all we get is the leaden backpack-rhythms of A Son’s Cycle on which Catalyst, Illogical and NP fail to dazzle. Mind you none of the other guests (including Kenna and Phonte Coleman) really impress as if they too have been afflicted by the same uncertainties as Krohn himself. And what the fuck is it with those digital horns? They’re on everything and they sound like they’ve come off Apple’s Garageband.
Colossus would probably like to imagine itself as a beat-laden Flaming Lips standing legendarily astride the entrance to some sort of harbour of cool whereas it actually comes across as something uncomfortably closer to a beat-laden Yes that has washed up on the beaches of coffee-table land. This has all the danger and glamour of an afternoon with the kids at a ‘soft-play’ centre.

Listen to RJD2 – The Colossus

RJD2 – Myspace

BASEMENT FREAKS: ‘Disco Life’ EP released 22 February 2010

Big G’s back and he’s used the ‘D’ word! Despite this, the EP’s not as disco as you might fear. Then again, if you actually like disco, it might not be as disco as you hope. Life’s a funny old game.
(PRESS RELEASE) Basement Freaks is actually Greece’s George Fotiadis, who presents four tracks well-endowed in the funk department. The title cut sets up a solid boogie synth-line for 90s-style filtered disco action with cool vocals from Jazzmin and George Perins. Three more tracks – old school JB funk of ’Hit The Flame’, ’Here We Go Again’ and ’Something Freaky’ – keep the party spirit simmering making for another red hot pepper for this esteemed label.
(Released 22 Feb on Jalapeno)

Listen to Basement Freaks – The Disco Life EP

Basement Freaks – Myspace

T BIRD & THE BREAKS: The Piano Joint – 2010 – Single review

Rating: ★★★★★

The band with more members than there are people in the state of Texas continues an ongoing campaign to deliver one slice of funk every month. It’s a turnaround time which, on the evidence of these drops, doesn’t seem to be causing them any creative problems at all. Indeed – this is the best one yet. Lest the name itself fail to provide a sizeable hint as to what you’re likely to hear, let me describe The Piano Joint simply as a gospel-tinged groove that provides a pleasing counterpoint to singer Tim Crane’s raspy vocals over a rather sizeable breakbeat that wishes it was around 20 years ago so that Eric B could have sampled it. Oh yeah – and it’s got a piano on it. If that isn’t enough for you – and god knows it should be – you’ve got B side Mr Rockwell which recalls early G Love & Special Sauce only with more groove. Have that!

Listen to T-Bird & The Breaks – Piano Joint b/w Mr Rockwell

T – Bird & The Breaks – Myspace

FREEWAY & JAKE ONE: ‘The Stimulus Package’ album news + tracklist + ‘Hands On’ video + free ‘The Beat Made Me Do It’ mixtape

Back in the day it used to be so easy. In fact, the recipe is so straightforward it’s hard to see why so few manage it these days. What am I on about? Getting a decent rapper and a decent DJ/ Producer to actually work together of course. Jake One’s 2008 drop White Van Music was one of that year’s better hip-hop releases and the Freeway track How We Ride was one of the better tracks on it. Expectations are high then, for the pair’s collabo The Stimulus Package, released 15 February this year on Rhymesayers. In the meantime check out Jake One’s bad man wagon on the Hands On video – he’s so G he rolls in a hatchback. Better than a white van though…oh yeah and have a free mixtape on the pair of them and DOWNLOAD – The Beat Made Me Do It mixtape HERE.
Press release and tracklist beneath the video…

(PRESS RELEASE) February 17th, 2009 in an effort to stimulate the U.S. economy President Barack Obama signed into law The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package. On February 15th of 2010, another bad brother Philadelphia Freeway, seizes the moment and sets out to stimulate the Hip Hop industry by signing into law the Hip Hop Recovery and Reinvestment Act with the release of his third official studio album “The Stimulus Package”.
Produced entirely by veteran G-Unit producer Jake One, “The Stimulus Package” showcases some of Freeway’s most dynamic and engaging work to date. The collaboration of these two heavyweights along with the strength of independent powerhouse Rhymesayers Entertainment [home to Atmosphere, Brother Ali and MF Doom] makes The Stimulus Package already one of the year’s most anticipated releases.
Since his breakout Roc-A-Fella debut “Philadelphia Freeway” in 2003, which achieved gold status selling over 500,000 units, Freeway has consistently been regarded as “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper”. Releasing his sophomore follow up “Free at Last” in 2007, which featured the Jake One produced classic “It’s Over”, Freeway has kept his skills sharp recording numerous mixtapes, unofficial albums and online leaks all while playing hundreds of shows across the country.

Jake One & Freeway – The Stimulus Package – Tracklist
1. STIMULUS INTRO feat. Beanie Sigel
6. ONE THING feat. Raekwon
9. MICROPHONE KILLA feat. Young Chris
10. FOLLOW MY MOVES feat. Birdman
11. SHO’ NUFF feat. Bun B
12. FREEKIN’ THE BEAT feat. Latoiya Williams
13. MONEY feat. Omilio Sparks and Mr. Porter

Jake One – Myspace

Freeway – Myspace

CANDICE MONIQUE & THE OPTICS: ‘In My Soul’ – LP news and tracklist

Bit too soul-y/ jazzy for my tastes (gahhh – now I said the ‘J’ word!) but hey jazzbos are people too right? Slick production and a singer with class – if you hanker for the days of Galliano and the Brand New Heavies you’d best get your wallet out innit?
(LP released 22 Feb. on Freestyle)
(PRESS RELEASE) Candice Monique is a talented & unique vocalist, songwriter and poet whose individual vocal and lyrical style fuses classic and Neo-Soul, Jazz, RnB, Funk, Blues, Folk & Spoken Word. It is this distinctive style along with her stage presence & artistic depth which makes her one of Freestyle Records most exciting & original new artists.
After recording her first demo in Atlanta with producer Professor Griff (Public Enemy) in 2003 and later in New York in 2005 with Jill Scott and Vassy producer, Rich Medina, Candice returned home to Australia and began working on more original material, honing her writing, continuing to perform and refine her already formidable stage craft and the results speak for themselves.
Kicking off her debut album with the sparse, punchy groove of the title track ‘In My Soul’, Candice and her band show how the ‘less is more’ approach can yield fantastic results. The beautiful, mellow and soulful ‘For All Time’ reaches the parts much contemporary RnB often fails to touch with electric piano and sweet backing vocals providing something akin to a Stax style soul groove.
It is Candice’s wide ranging influences, from Bill Withers to Skunk Anansie that inform her musical style and on the dance floor filler ‘Feel The Vibe’ one can really understand that simply recreating old skool sounds is not what Candice is about, this music could only be the product of now, by someone aiming to create quality rather than pastiche.
‘In My Soul’ is a strong, confident debut that draws together disparate influences into a well rounded modern sound that bodes well for Candice and her band. This is where the story starts and it is clear that a remarkable new talent is emerging in front of our ears and eyes!
Candice Monique & The Optics – In My Soul – Tracklist
1. In My Soul
2. For All Time
3. Mama Dont Know
4. Feel The Vibe
5. Soul Dance
6. My Child
7. Shave My Head
8. Crazy Crazy Thing
9. Hypothetical
10. Revolution ft. MC Momo
11. Wish I Was A Bass

Listen to (tracks from) Candice Monique & The Optics – In My Soul

Candice Monique & The Optics – Myspace

DJ MOAR feat. RAASHAN AHMAD: ‘Love’ + Video

Easy now! French funkster DJ Moar – i.e. he of the Tribute To B-boys breaks EP last year has hooked up with Crown City Rockers MC Rashaan Ahmad for the reggae-tinged summer vibery of Love. It drops on 7” and digital on 26 February. In the meantime you’ll have to content yourself with the video – see below links.
DJ Moar – Myspace
Raashan Ahmad – Myspace

SHARON JONES & THE DAP KINGS: ‘I Learned The Hard Way’ LP released 4 May 2010 + Tracklist

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are the most authentic sounding deep funk band in the world and that’s not up for discussion. In fact they’re so authentic sounding I couldn’t believe they didn’t perform in black and white last time I saw them. I Learned The Hard Way is unleashed on 4 May this year. Let’s hope that what they ‘learned’ was not to forget to put some dancefloor belters on it – which, for all its soulful glory, were sadly missing off the last one.
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are already well known as one of the most exciting acts in the nation for both their explosive live shows and their prolific output of gritty studio recordings. Their breakout release, 100 Days, 100 Nights, sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. On Jones’ birthday this year, the band will release I Learned the Hard Way, their fourth full-length on Brooklyn’s independent Daptone Records. The record marks a bold step forward for a band who almost singlehandedly stewarded today’s return of soul music to its more traditional sound.
‘I Learned the Hard Way’ was produced by Bosco Mann and recorded on an Ampex eight-track tape machine by Gabriel Roth in Daptone Records’ House of Soul studios, the record drips with a warmth and spontaneity rarely found since the golden days of Muscle Shoals and Stax. Sharon’s raw power, rhythmic swagger, moaning soulfulness, and melodic command set her firmly alongside Tina Turner, James Brown, Mavis Staples, and Aretha as a fixture in the canon of soul music. From the lush Philly-Soul fanfare that ushers in “The Game Gets Old” at the top of the record, to the stripped down Sam Cooke-style “Mama Don’t Like My Man” at the tail, the Dap-Kings dance seamlessly through both the most crafted and simple arrangements with subtlety and discipline. I Learned the Hard Way is the “Daptone Sound” at its finest………
‘Dap-Dippin’ with the Dap-Kings’ – May 2002….
‘Naturally’ – January 2005….
‘100 Days, 100Nights’ – October 2007….

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – I Learned The Hard Way– Track List
1. The Game Gets Old….
2. I Learned The Hard Way….
3. Better Things….
4. Give It Back….
5. Money….
6. The Reason….
7. Window Shopping….
8. She Ain’t A Child No More….
9. I’ll Still Be True….
10. Without A Heart….
11. If You Call….
12. Mama Don’t Like My Man….

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Myspace

WU-TANG CLAN: Return Of The Wu & Friends’ released 16 January 2010 + Tracklist + Free download ‘Clap (2010)’

DJ Mathematics puts together a compilation of sorts (presumably because RZA can’t be arsed) including some exclusive tracks including Clap (2010) – DOWNLOAD HERE. The question is – will it be more Iron God Chamber (which is included, incidentally) or cast iron clanger (as the free download would suggest)…Wu knows? Full press release below tracklist…
Wu-Tang Clan: Return Of The Wu & Friends – Tracklist
1. Wu-Tang Clan feat. Raekwon, Ghostface, Method Man, U-God- “Clap 2010”
2. Wu-Tang Clan- “Respect 2010”
3. Masta Kila feat. Raekwon & Ghostface- “It’s What It Is”
4. Wu-Tang Clan feat. Inspectah Deck, RZA, Ghostface- “Strawberries & Cream”
5. Wu-Tang Clan feat. GZA, Masta Killa & Inspectah Deck- “Steppin 2 Me”
6. Wu-Tang Clan feat. Raekwon, Method Man, Ghostface, Ica da Don & Inspectah Deck- “All Flowers”
7. Method Man- “John 3:16”
8. Raekwon- “Treez”
9. Wu-Tang Clan feat. RZA, Streetlife, Buddah Bless- “What It Is”
10. Masta Killa feat. RZA & Method Man- “Iron God Chamber”
11. Masta Killa feat. Ghostface, Buddah Bless, Raekwon, Eyes Low- “Real Nillaz”
12. Wu-Tang Clan feat. Method Man & GZA- “Rush”
13. Mathematics- “Da Way We Were”
14. Wu-Tang Clan feat. ODB & Bad Luck- “Early Grave”
15. Wu-Tang Clan- “Keep Pace”
(PRESS RELEASE) Since their debut album, 1993’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang has become synonymous with gritty, direct lyrics and beats that draw from classic soul, horn-blasted funk, cinematic curios, and dirty guitar licks (among many others.) With each successive album, the group solidifies their hold on hip-hop, watching over the years as rappers, trends and ephemeral styles come and go and become musical footnotes in the game.
As devoted fans clamor and salivate for anything Wu-related, Gold Dust & Nature Sounds are proud to announce the release of Return of the Wu & Friends, produced and compiled by Wu-Tang Clan producer/DJ Mathematics and including some exclusive tracks, lost gems and old time favorites featuring all nine emcees.
The 16 tracks featured on Return of the Wu & Friends were compiled from songs recorded during the group’s critically acclaimed 2000 album The W through 2008, including exclusive tracks like “Steppin 2 Me” featuring GZA, Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa. The producer also offers a slew of new remixes, including “Respect Mine” and “Clap”. On the former, featuring Raekwon, Method Man and Cappadonna, the sprightly piano loop found on the original (from Mathematics’ 2003 solo album Love, Hell or Right) gets flipped into a slower, more ominous track anchored by a funky slap bass line.
On Return of the Wu & Friends, every member gets their chance to shine, backed by Mathematics’ acute ability to perfectly match each member’s cadence and tone to the respective beat. Slower, more soulful tracks like “Da Way We Were” and “Strawberries & Cream” are balanced with classic Wu funk like “Iron God Chamber” and “It’s What It Is” (the latter the new superhero anthem for the 21st century.) For anyone fiending for more Wu classics, Return of the Wu & Friends offers up an album’s worth of tracks sure to fill the need for Wu bangers.
Having known the Clan since the mid-80s and produced for them since 1996, Mathematics is no stranger to the group. Starting off as GZA’s DJ during the emcee’s Cold Chillin’ days, the producer has since gone on to create a diverse and memorable production catalog with the group, contributing tracks to The W and 8 Diagrams, as well as Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, GZA’s Beneath The Surface, Method Man’s Tical 2000: Judgement Day and Method Man & Redman’s Blackout!
Wu-Tang- The Return of The Wu-Friends will be released on 2-16-10 on Gold Dust Records.

DOWNLOAD Wu-Tang Clan – Clap (2010)


Rating: ★★½☆☆

Manmade’s Feature Funk series has been a regular drop over the last year or so, with each volume tending to have a different sub-generic slant (last time round it was mostly disco-tinged) and throwing up some big bangers in the process. There have, however, previously been hints that the label has had an itch to go to the big beat/ breakbeat-house cheesefest ball and on this one they finally go properly large. Let’s hope they’ve got it out of their system. Dancefloors will still be jumping of course – especially those that feel the world would be a better place if only more people would make music like Fatboy Slim but unfortunately, despite the press release, what’s really happened here is that noise and energy have ganged up like a pair of ugly sisters and locked real funk in the scullery. As with its predecessor the best cut on here is the CMC & Silenta one which (by accident or design) uses a Red Hot Pipe & Slippers sample from the same song as the last Goodgroove drop. The others kind of made me want to go and put the kettle on.

Listen to Manmade Feature Funk Vol. 4

Manmade Recordings – Myspace

BREAKESTRA: Posed To Be b/w Come On Over – 2009 – 7” review

Rating: ★★★★★

So good they released it twice…must have been the thinking behind this seven inch. The A side, nineties-underground-hip hop-throwback Posed To Be, already appeared on the B side of the Joyful Noise twelve inch back in the autumn where it doubly pleased the monkey by rehabilitating Chali 2Na after his lame solo LP and boosted the pitifully tiny number of decent hip-hop bumps dropped last year. Yes I did say ‘bumps’ not ‘albums’. The B side on the other best track from recent LP Dusk Till Dawn the loose limbed soul sista cut featuring Afrodyete. Should keep you going till the Bamboos drop the massive On The Sly.

Listen to Breakestra – Posd To Be/ Come On Over

Breakestra – Myspace