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Writing in depth pieces about classic records takes time. Talking about modern rap is boring (except if it’s talking about new Jay/Wu/Beanie material) and talking about which celebrity got arrested is so asinine it might give you cancer. Listen to these albums instead.
Best known among Hip-Hop fans for her funky take on “California Soul” which provided the backing for Gangstarr’s “Check the Technique”, Marlena Shaw stands as way more than a convenient sample source. Her debut album (which includes said take on California Soul) is an excellent mix of Motown-style giddiness, rough funk and smooth jazz-pop that somehow manages to sound coherent. It’s Marlena’s powerful and versatile delivery that keeps things together making this essential listening for anyone interested in R&B’s adventurous side.
Sounding like early Santana crossed with the incredible Bongo band on a particularly funky day, Candido’s “Beautiful” is a funky selection of dance-floor ready Latin jazz that’s just begging to used in a Quentin Tarentino chase scene. While the focus is on Candido’s superb percussion, the horns, organ and sax players all get love with extended showcases and the funky bass keeps things on time and on point.
While I generally liked the same albums as the rest of the blogosphere last year (Roots, Clipse, Ghostface), none of those records got as much play around my crib as The Team’s World Premiere. Hailing from Oakland California, The Team (Clyde Carson, Kaz Kaizah with the occasional verse by Mayne Mannish) are to smooth playa rap as the Clipse are to cinematic coke rap: the next shit. Building on a mix of Bad Boy smoothness and funky Oakland grooves, the Team throw in copious amounts of ecstasy and weed and the results are spaced out futuristic grooves and high-octane slappers which make for one of the most interesting listening experiences in a minute. There’s no crime-talk going on here and the lyrics pretty much focus on getting high, getting laid and getting around The Bay area which works to the group’s advantage: when’s the last time you heard an album that’s decidedly NOT gangsta but that doesn’t fall into cliché positivity either?
Give this one a shot. Maybe you’ll think I’m crazy but you just might like it too.
Aaaaalllllllll niiiiiigghhhhtttt looooooong! Even if you’ve never heard of the Mary Jane Girls, chances are you’ve heard the Mary Jane Girls. Their mega-hit “All Night Long” has been looped and chopped by everyone from Big Daddy Kane to LL Cool J to Redman, always to fantastic results. A side project of Rick “weed is a helluva drug too” James, The Mary Jane Girls compare favorably to Prince’s Vanity Six, not to mention to the other dozens of pre-fab girl groups of the era. This greatest hits disc misses out on a few key album cuts but the trade off comes in the form of extended 12-inch mixes sprinkled throughout the album. All songs written and arranged by Rick James. All songs funky.
If I was serious about this production shit (a part time hobby, not yet about to be taken to the maximum) I wouldn’t be giving out any good samples but what can I say? I’m generous like that. John Miles is the kind of overblown radio-ready 70’s rock that was eclipsed by Punk, Disco and New Wave by the end of the decade. But for all it’s pomp, Stranger in the City has some surprisingly dope songs including the title track and the album ending Music Man, both of which are ready for a Just Blaze/Kanye/Heatmakers treatment. Rock Star, Roc Star…same thing at this point.