Review: The second salvo on the Street Knowledge series of golden era hip-hop reissues comes from legendary East Coast twosome Gang Starr. It offers up a pair of much-loved 1990s club bangers: 1999's "Full Clip" and '92's "DWYCK". The former is a classic DJ Premier production: a toe-tapping, head-nodding bounce through rubbery beats, jazzy guitars and toasty bass topped off with the fine flows of the late MC Guru. "DWYCK" meanwhile is a more bass-heavy, floor-friendly affair, with Premier's on-point scratching complimenting Guru's vocal and the addictive weightiness of the groove. In other words, these are two golden era classics you definitely need in your life.
Review: Some fans argue that "It Ain't Hard To Tell" is the best production on Nas' legendary "Illmatic" album. Large Professor certainly did his job in making it pop: the beat is killer, and the whole thing is driven by a Michael Jackson sample of "Human Nature". As if that weren't enough, samples from Stanley Clarke and Mountain are layered in to perfection and the smooth, sweet rolling beat draws you in over and over and Nas' creamy delivery finishes it in style. Flip over for the instrumental and bask in the glow of it all. Classic.
Review: Nearly five years after the first seven-inch appeared, the seventh volume in J Rocc's on-point "Funky President Edits" series lands. As with the tracks contained on previous volumes, the showcased cuts have long been staples in his DJ sets and should be considered "tried and tested bombs". First up on side A is "Flight #2", a shuffling, ear-pleasing affair that combines jangling elements from a semi-acoustic Afro-Soul cut with borrowed chorus vocals and languid, laidback percussion. "Greddy Foot", on the other hand, is a low-slung funk bomb -a slightly dubbed-out revision of a James Brown original with additional vocal samples from other Godfather of Soul workouts.
Review: First time round, this bonafide classic reached #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the highest charting tune from the Geto Boys. Sampling Isaac Hayes' "Hung Up On My Baby", the Geto Boys' edit plays out in several movements and goes big and small. Stretched over a long legged beat with crisp snares and languid chords with lyrics that touch on a range of deep subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the track was originally destined for a Scarface solo album before it was decided it was more valuable as a Geto Boys single. Wise move.
Review: It's been almost 11 years since Featurecast dropped their heavyweight revision of Aretha Franklin's "One Step" on Wah Wah 45's "Dubplate" series. Here the sought-after side is finally given the reissue treatment. It remains one of their finest revisions: a loose, languid and head-nodding fusion of hip-hop beats, subtle dub skank, occasional Marvin Gaye samples and seduction sections from Aretha's sugary, string-drenched original. Over on side B you'll find another gem from Featurecast's vaults: a tidy hip-hop style revision of Marvin Gaye's "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" from 2016, which was made in collaboration with Washington D.C pal The Gaff.
Review: The first missive from the reissue-focused Throwdown imprint takes a deep dive into the bulging back catalogue of West Coast hip-hop legend Ice Cube. Side A offers us another chance to own 1992 hit "It Was A Good Day" a languid, sun-kissed Golden Era jam crafted from elements of a familiar slab of laidback jazz-funk. Over on side B you'll find 1999's "You Can Do It", another once high-profile single featuring additional verses and vocal contributions from Mack 10 and Ms Toi. For those who've forgotten it, the track is a punchier and heavy club cut that utilizes all three rappers' distinctive flows to ratchet up the intensity throughout.
Review: Since launching last year, Lil Static has offered up new, lightly altered editions of classic tracks from Jeru the Damaja, Kraftwerk, Run-DMC, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. Here they continue to serve up vital beats for break-digging DJs via classic cuts from Eric B. & Rakim and Mountain. The A side sports an edited version of 1986 cut "Eric B. Is President", a synth-bass propelled NYC hip-hop gem rich in unmistakable rap vocals and tight scratching. Over on side B there's a chance to savour Mountain's late '60s rock cut that provided the Eric B. & Rakim track (and so many others since) with its distinctive drum break, "Long Red". This edited version gives more prominence to the breaks, making it an ideal mixing tool for hip-hop DJs.
James Brown & The Wu Tang Clan - "Sex CREAM" (3:33)
James Brown - "Sex Machine" (dub edit) (3:02)
Review: It would be fair to say that the latest edition in DJ Soopasoul's "Soopastole" edits series is one of the producer's biggest yet. A-side "Sex C.R.E.A.M" is particularly potent, with the mash-up maestro layering the vocals from Wu-Tang Clan classic "C.R.E.A.M" over a chunky beat crafted out of classic James Brown samples. To our ears, it's arguably better than the Wu-Tang original, or at least a little more dancefloor-friendly. Fittingly, Brown gets the treatment on the flip with Soopasoul getting busy with the EQs on a suitably heavy but stripped back "dub edit" of all-time-classic "Sex Machine". While it probably didn't need tampering with, he's done a very good job of delivering a version that successfully takes the track in a different direction.
Review: An original 7" of this gem will cost you upwards of 100 quid so Know How are doing us all a favour here. As EPMD, Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith were a red hot duo who served up many quintessential rap gems. "So Watcha Sayin'" is taken from their second album "Unfinished Business", imbued with scratching by DJ Scratch, deeply buried chords and of course a slick verse that is pure old school. While flipside "You Gots To Chill" has some fresh vocoder work, dusty drum loops and body popping bass, the a-side takes all the glory here.
Review: Smoove is back with another of his magical conceptions. This is one of the most bold and adventurous projects he's ever undertaken on Wack Records and finds him layering up hundreds of samples taken from more than six full lengths by A Tribe Called Quest, and he's one of the best to ever do it. The result is a magnificent and mellifluous 7" that brims with soul, jazz, rich beats and vocal snippets that interplay so smoothly you'll be in awe. Both sides are alive and authentic and picking apart the pieces is all part of the fun.
Keep Rising All Night Long (Sunday Service mix) (6:19)
Review: GAMM has been a treasure trove of edits, golden old soul and forgotten funk gems for an eternity and they come correct again with this monstrous dance floor dynamite on a loud, one-sided vinyl pressing: Ukokos & Jabco's hip hop and gospel styled rework of the world renowned clip of Kanye West's Sunday Service band doing a live cover of "Keep Rising". A majestic, triumphant and real floor filling, crowd pleasing bomb that will bring everyone together for many years to come.
Review: This mini-album marks a shift in emphasis for Lustwerk Music, with boss Galcher Lustwerk choosing to showcase the work of another producer for the first time. He's apparently been nurturing Florida-based Quavius for some time, encouraging the young producer to "experiment more" while following his instincts. It seems to have worked, because the majority of music on this debut release is top notch. It covers a lot of ground, with the A-side alone moving between R&B-inspired hip-house ("Love The Way"), hip-hop ("Magic Man"), woozy electronica ("R 'n' V") and spacey deep house ("Composure"). There's naturally plenty more to enjoy on the flipside, too, from the old school deep hip-hop bump of "M 320", to the crunk-tinged, cut-up goodness of closer "Can I Be".
Review: When it comes to delivering party-starting funk and soul 45s, Jorun Bombay has an impressive track record. His latest seven-inch is rather fine, too. On the A-side he joins forces with a trio of musicians to offer up "Peas In An Alternate Universe": a riff on JBs classic "Pass The Peas" that layers extended organ and trombone solos over a groove dominated by crunchy breakbeats and virtuoso bass guitar. Flipside "Mister Magic" is a deeper, warmer and more laidback affair, with tidy electric piano parts, toe-tapping drums, occasional string-laden disco samples and warm bass being joined by a simply wonderful new vibraphone solo.
Review: Hip-hop diggers will happily tell you that "Top Billin" was one of the tightest, heaviest and most stripped-back rap jams to emerge from New York in the mid 1980s. Here the 1987 hip-hop club classic is given the reissue treatment by fresh label Know How, marking the cut's first appearance on "45" for 32 years. The A-side vocal version - the most famous of the two takes - is a great example of the dancefloor power of stripped-back hip-hop, with the completed cut being little more than chunky drum machine beats and on-point raps rich in call-and-response sections and crowd-pleasing slogans. The harder to find flipside instrumental lays this bare, peppering the duo's beat with select snippets of reverb-laden chants.
King Most - "Rhythm Rug" (My Favorite edit Ever) (3:29)
Altered Tapes - "Ego Drip" (Outta This Horn remix) (4:20)
Review: If hot-to-trot and heavyweight funk re-fixes are your thing, you should already be familiar with the work of Chicago-based Heat Rock Records. Their latest limited seven-inch delivers two must-check workouts. On the A you'll find the "Rhythm Rug" edit by San Francisco scalpel fiends King Most, a cut-and-paste concoction that peppers a sunny, hip-hop tempo good-time soul-funk groove with excerpts from the acapella version of rap classic "Can I Kick It?" Over on the flip, label regulars and Windy City heroes Altered Tapes provide something even wilder: a hot-stepping fusion of Afro-jazz horns, dancehall style drums and what sound like occasional Q-Tip vocal snippets.
Review: Peak time dancefloor action with this 45 with the familiar classic b-boy sampling fodder coupled with an infectious r & b vocal club monster. It's never had a physical release till now. On the flip it's instrumental breaks galore for B-Boy/B-Girl back flips action from a sought after uk trio release now in handy 45 form with tuff breakbeats and smattering of electro vibe...Only 200 copies..
Review: The Atlanta based B Boy Breaks series continues with another drop of serious cuts to get beat jugglers, sample diggers and just straight up funk lovers going hog wild over the lashings of drum breaks. First up on the A side there's some widescreen, expansive beatdowns taking place with the massive "Show Me The Funk Breaks" - a fela esque sax screaching ,hammond organ swirling classic you already know from the many times it's been lifted for its treasured sonic ingredients. "Harder Breaks" on the flip is another monumental jam, presented here in instrumental form most recently used for the theme tune of a UK TV show . The evergreen groove is just crying out for someone with the skills to drop some serious turntablism all over this one.
Review: 10 years ago, El Michels Affair - a hip-hop loving funk combo spearheaded by Leon Michels - released "Enter The 37th Chamber", an instrumental tribute to the world of the Wu-Tang Clan. To celebrate the record's tenth birthday, they've decided to reissue two of that album's most potent cuts. On the A-side they re-imagine Ol' Dirty Bastard's 1995 anthem "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" as a fine fusion of rousing horns, jazz-flecked hip-hop beats and vocals provided by what sounds like a children's choir. Over on side B, Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces" gets the cover version treatment, with the band peppering their deep, jazz-funk influenced groove with sharp horns and evocative electric piano solos.
Review: Galaxy Sound give this 1997 hip hop classic a new twist with some slick jazz stylings. Lil Kim's "Crush On You", is known by all but here it becomes something completely different: a forgotten jazz funk gem, colourful trumpet leads awash with lush drums and timeless soul. The flipside houses a re-edit of Jeff Lorber's "Rain Dance", which is in fact the original source of the samples on Lil Kim's track, and one that has been used on more than 20 other big time tunes. Here it's subtly tweaked but still remains a classic bit of jazz-flecked hip hop with some proper rude vocals.
Review: Following their launch with Jay Airiness in May, super-limited French edit imprint return with two more juiced up feel-gooders. This time fellow Frenchman MOAR takes the lead with two untitled hip-hop edits of the funkiest order. "B" takes us for a run up Sugarhill on a groove made of salubrious sub bass, dubby horns and vocal clips while "BB" takes Nas into pure electro boogie territory with incredible results. Genuine edit magic... Feel the Loves.
Review: The Altered Tapes crew's sneaky remixes are amongst the finest around, as this latest must-check "45" proves. "Cherchez" has been doing the rounds for a couple of years digitally, so it's great to see it finally land on wax. It's a flip of Ghostface Killah's "Cherchez La Ghost", with the venerable rapper's verses rising above a weighty backing track crafted from hand picked samples of classic funk jams. Weighty and floor-friendly, it's the kind of bootleg revision that's guaranteed to get the party started. "Cherchez La B-Boy" on the flip strips out most of his vocals and instead chooses to base the action around fat funk breakbeats and an even more sizable bassline.
Foxy Brown - "Oh Yeah" (Featuring Spragga Benz) (4:12)
Review: The first volume in the Lickshot series serves up two almighty slabs of reggae and dancehall-influenced hip-hop from two of the biggest names in the game. On side A you'll find an edited version of Jay-Z's "Bam" from 2017 album "4:44", where the long-serving rapper trades verses with Damian Marley over a sparse beat and sampled reggae horns. Over on the flip dancehall vocalist Spragga Benz guests on Foxy Brown"Oh Yeah", a hybrid hip-hop/ragga workout . Like its' A-side companion, it's a weighty, club-ready rocker that should be in every hip-hop head's collection.
Review: Although they've been dropping gems digitally for the best part of five years, the Heat Rock Records crew only recently upgraded to vinyl. This is the cheeky rework collective's third "45" and the good news is that it's every bit as heavy and club-ready as its predecessors. Pickster and DJ Melo handle side A with "Saturdays (110 Edit)", a head-nodding, mid-tempo roller that layers snippets from classic Mighty Ryeders and De La Soul cuts over a chunky, disco style 4/4 beat. Label mainstays Altered Tapes take over on the flip and serve up the chunky hip-hop/soul/jazz fusion warmth of "It's Like Butter". It's not quite as instantly arresting as the A-side, but it's every bit as good.
How We Do The Show (Doc Flex & NMX Westside mix) (4:14)
Review: They make you wait 15 months for a new release, then put out two in the same few weeks. Dusty Donuts, now five years into their mission to serve up the biggest party breaks and funkiest funk, this time offer the low riding Cali g-funk of "I Get Juiced (Doc Flex & NMX Mix)" which will be familiar to anyone who has heard "I Get Lifted" by Gwen McCrae. The flip is even more smooth and seductive, with the boom-bap grooves and early r&b flow of "How We Do The Show (Westside Mix)" making it a superbly sweet set.
Review: D3 Elements clocks up release number five here by offering up a full EP to Zhao-Ski, who previously appeared on the VA EP release in 2014. What he serves up are a clutch of instrumental hip hop tracks that speak to the soul.
Zhao-Ski has been a key figure on the Detroit scene for years. A DJ since his teens and owner of the Black Operation Records label since the 90s, he has produced as part of collectives, played live with MCs and has been mentored by the famous Mad Mike Banks. As such his credentials and skills are long established, so he makes a welcome return to the D3 ranks.
'Enter the Void' opens things up with louche, sun kissed beats that immediately brighten up your world. 'Mischief Meadow' has tumbling drums, trilling keys and lots of dusty atmospherics and 'Warning Signs' marries spoken world snippets with jazzy percussive, slowly funky drums and woozy pads that lull you into a wholly relaxed state. On the flip, 'Tight and Upright' is all about the huge over sized drums, snares and cymbal splashes that are all miked up super closely, then 'Time Reimagined' starts with some filmic and evocative vocals and sound design before a trumpet led groove unravels in stoned trip hop fashion. Overall, this is a magically compelling and authentic little ride through the mind of Detroit's hip hop king, Zhao-Ski.
Review: To our ears, there are few greater golden era dancefloor hip-hop workouts than Main Source's "Looking At The Front Door", a stone-cold classic that remains a much-played anthem decades after it was originally released. Here the 1990 jam gets the reissue treatment. It's available in both vocal and instrumental versions, with both sides doing a great job in showcasing the duo's killer beat - a fine mixture of crunchy drums, woozy electric piano chords, scratched-in samples and toasty bass. Naturally it's the vocal version that we'd reach for more often than not - the trio's flows are particularly good on 'Looking At The Front Door' - but the instrumental is nevertheless a useful tool to have at your disposal.
Review: First featured on Nas' peerless 1994 album "Illmatic" - a classic that really should be in your collection - "The World Is Yours" is a classic Pete Rock production that has never appeared on a seven-inch single before. Mr Bongo has decided to set the record straight, pairing the album version, which includes some of Nas' most potent lyrics, delivered in fine style as you'd expect, with an instrumental take that showcases Pete Rock's brilliant beat and tight, on-point scratches. It's a deliciously baggy beat all told, with sampled pianos and subtle jazz lifts combining cannily to create a suitably laidback, golden-era groove.