Do you remember when Hiphop used to challenge itself? When skill on the mic had to be proven and not just talked about? Blackalicious does. Witness "Alphabet Aerobics (The Cut Chemist 2.5 Minute Workout.)" Just as Gift of Gab begins to recite his verses (based on each letter of the alphabet,) the tempo gradually accelerates so that he winds up with a frenetic "Zing zang zoom... ... Zealots!" at the end.
I recently travelled to a country in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. The mountains are lovely and were full of snow, but I was there for the other popular pastime there in Andorra--shopping. Naturally, I checked out the music stores and found a few interesting items which make their way into this show: Dynamite X, a compilation of James Brown remixes by electronic producers containing "Sex Machine (Readymade jazz defector Mix)" which follows Blackalicious. The next track, Cesaria Evora's "Angola (Bateau Ivre Rework by Pepe Bradock,) is from Club Sodade another purchase from Andorra. This collection remixes Cesaria Evora's music. "Cross Bronx Expressway" is a self-titled track from a group on a Keb Darge compilation -- for those who aren't familiar with him, Keb is a famous Scottish dj who seeks out extremely rare funk and soul music and is kind enough to share it with those of us who can appreciate it. UNKLE's "Coffeehouse Conversation (Plaid mix)" is one of my old favorites from the old "trip-hop" days. The Time Has Come EP that this track is from also features a remix by Dj Shadow before he was a member of UNKLE where he actually raps! ...It's only for the intro, but it's still Shadow rapping. Speaking of trip-hop, Richard Dorfmeister (of Kruder & ...) treats us to "Fondue" with his buddy Rupert Huber--they are better know as Tosca. "Digging in the crates" I found an old Jan Hammer Group track "What It Is" from Melodies (the pictured album on this post.) SK Radicals' "Reachin' 4 Da Farside (Misa Negra Remix)" is another track I'd been jonesing for as well as the track it leads into, "Futuristica" by Joseph Malik.
Next up is something I'd been hearing in clubs around here, but hadn't figured out why... Ian Oliver's "Bucovina (Ian Oliver Clubovina Mix)" is obviously a balkan-flavored track, which makes it appealing to me, but it seems that unless you go into the Eastern-European immigrant areas that you'd be unlikely to hear something like this. As it turns out Vendetta, a label based in Barcelona, put out this track and the following one "Heater (Album Version)" by Samim. "Heater" sounds like Mexican Ranchero music electro'd-up--consider the mystery solved. Closing us out are Nitin Sawhney's collaboration with Ojos De Brujo (a famous local group) "Noches En Vela, Pt. 2" and Swell Session gliding to a smooth end with "The Girl (Swell Session Vs Jimpster featuring Else Esmeralda.)