Boom Bye Yeah
— Playlist | Savage 01
SuperMC team-ups and hip-hop mashups.
One of the most enjoyable things about hip-hop to me is the intertextuality of it. The references and the relationships between the artists, the genre, and (pop) culture itself. In a way that's what this playlist is: superMC team-ups and hip-hop mashups.
Most the artists on this playlist are prolific-squared, several featured more than once, most have collaborated, and others look up to one another.
May this playlist rabbit-hole you into new found music depths, reacquaint you with stuff you already dig, or quite simply give you the thrill of you and me being into the same beats.
Killer Mike starts this playlist off with 'Untitled' from his album 'R.A.P Music' (produced by EL-P) which marked EL-P and Killer Mike's first collaborative effort and laid the first stones to their tight partnership: Run The Jewels. Mike and EL put out quite a bit of work before they founded RTJ, but it's with their team up that they hit mainstream success. RTJ get their own spot on this playlist with their political beat down in 'Nobody Speak' and their collab with DJ Shadow.
Doom, Doom, villainous Doom, persona-shifting Daniel Dumile, better known under his many supervillain alter-egos of MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedoorah, Metal Fingers, and his collaborative efforts: Madvillain, Danger Doom, NehruvianDOOM, and an upcoming union between Doom and fellow supervillain outfit, CZARFACE, amongst many, many others. There are many things to appreciate when it comes to Doom: ill flows, the villain characters, his embrace of the abstract and the obscure, his identikit samples, his wicked sense of humour, and when it comes to this album how can you not appreciate a food-themed record (illustrated by the ace Jason Jägel).
I don't have an instant love for all of Doom's projects, and with the amount of content Dumile puts out it's only logical that some of it will be a personal hit or miss, but if you're through listening to Mm...Food then sink your teeth into Doom's Viktor Vaughn's first album: Vaudeville Villain. And, before I completely swamp you with Doom tracks and love, I'll cut this one short.
Madvillainy details the villainous deeds of 'Madvillain', a.k.a.: the perfect union between MF Doom and Madlib. We follow the exploits of a master villain through abstract and dense flows interspersed with a curation of sound clips laid over some pretty original samples.
Aside from a small number of guest performances (Med & Wild Child), Doom takes on the lion share of the lyrics, but we've got Madlib's 'Lord Quas' gracing us on 'America's Most Blunted' and 'Shadows of Tomorrow'. Having Quasimoto on just a few tracks makes you appreciate him all the more, then if Madlib had plastered him across the album. That act of restraint tells you something about the entirety of the album: It's always enough, never over, never under, never we stuck this thing on so it'd be long enough for airplay, shortened that thing to please whomever—it's just enough.
On 'Shadows of Tomorrow'—a tribute to Sun Ra—Doom takes a backseat, and we're in the company of Quas and Madlib. Named after Sun Ra's 'The Shadows Cast by Tomorrow', the track has Madlib lyricising Ra's philosophy, repeating 'Sun Ra' over and over, cut through with excerpts from Sun Ra's 1974 film 'Space is The Place': "The music is different here, the vibrations are different. Not like planet earth, planet earth sound of guns, anger, and frustration. There was no one to talk to on planet earth who would understand..."
So far, the album's racked up fourteen years and if it had come out this year, or somewhere in the next few, it still wouldn't sound dated—it's timeless. There's never been a follow up to the project, and I don't feel there's need to do so*, this album stands strong as a full-fledged creature. Besides, prolific as they are, there's plenty of choice to fill your Doom or Madlib hunger, no need to go clawing for a second album.
If you've never heard of A Tribe Called Quest or you've never taken a deep dive into their catalogue then let this song be your push to take the plunge. Tribe busted onto the scene in the late eighties and early nineties, along with De La Soul and Jungle Brothers—collectively known as Native Tongues. Their lyrical game was dead smart, conversational, opinionated, political, as well as laid-back and playful. Native Tongues had a sound unlike any other hip-hop acts that populated the scene during the nineties, and though they wouldn't have been able to predict it at the time, their collective style had a massive influence on the sound of hip-hop throughout the years.
Growing up on sugary pop, disco, and alternative rock, I didn't have a lick of appreciation for hip-hop, but with Q-Tip, the late Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, Jacobi White and their various collaborators I finally developed a very slow burning love. Tribe doesn't feel pretentious or disingenuous, or as Q-Tip has said: each record and each song encapsulated who they were. They stuck to their expression, it wasn't easy, but some of the most significant work you can put down is the work that doesn't conform to what you think should be, it's the work that's true to yourself.
Tribe turned out to be my gateway into hip-hop and with 'We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service' ATCQ proved that close to twenty years after their last group effort they didn't have to come up with a newer, bolder flavour to impress whomever, they brought the same and they're just as strong.
'Monkey Barz' is Sean Price's a debut album. I dig the beat on this song; I don't have much love for the rest of the album*, just felt like it tied together a few of the other songs on this one. Honestly, though, Price drops his name way too often in his songs, and it feels like a cheap ego-trip whenever rappers do so.
Nineteen years after DJ Shadow broke onto the scene with 'Endtroducing' in 1996, we got 'The Mountain Will Fall'. Shadow produced the beat, and he knew he wanted Run The Jewels on it:
Black on Both Sides came out in 1999 and marked Mos Def's first solo album after working on Black Star with Talib Kweli. The music still sounds as relevant as when it came out, but then this Mos Def we're talking about, you can't accuse that man of creating anything otherwise.
If you dig the comic book driven narrative and imagery of Madvillainy, you'll probably appreciate Czarface, though I'll preface that by saying that Madvillain as a character is much more fleshed out than that of Czarface. The album doesn't occupy the same calibre as Madvillain—but it's enjoyable as fuck.
Inspectah Deck, 7L, and Esoteric reference comic book culture a mile a minute, and that's one of the reasons I dig this album. It's all those Saturday and Sunday mornings spent watching superheroes and villains failing or succeeding at the weekly plot. It sparks the enjoyment I felt as a kid watching cartoon after cartoon on weekend mornings and after-school afternoons. When I think about it so much of my childhood was spent watching superheroes and villains battle it out, seeing Mystery Inc. unmask yet another dastardly villain or even watching re-runs of the terribly camp live-action Batman tv show with Adam West and Burt Ward.
Can't have a playlist boasting superMC team-ups if you don't stuff in a few Wu members. 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' was Raekwon's first solo album, but he didn't stray far from his Wu-tang cohorts, with Ghost on half the tracks, GZA producing the album, and several other members and affiliates appearing on the album.
Rae brought out a follow up to Cuban Linx in 2009, and keeping in the spirit of hip-hop's history of collaboration a slew of producers worked on the album. But, it's more than collaborating, it's a Wu member fanning out and teaming up with other talent—J Dilla being one of many. And, because Dilla closes this playlist, I do want to share the praise Rae bestowed upon him:
Dilla, he’s a musical maestro, a Quincy Jones in his own world. I did not know his power until I listened to his catalog. He played his part in hip-hop. I’m glad to be involved with him. It was a blessing. He stepped his grizzly up for me. He gave the tracks that special blend. Thanks to Busta for making it happen. I got this while Dilla was still alive. I worked with the best, it was bound to happen. I really appreciated his energy. Dilla’s whole approach was like “this is what I do!” He fucked my head up hard-body. I respect those type of soldiers.
About six months before Madvillain came out, J Dilla and Madlib released 'Champion Sound' under their compound name: Jaylib. Rapping and producing both equally on the album. If Madvillain didn't convince you to dig further into Madlib's discography, then scroll down and allow me the courtesy.
When it comes to Madlib's samples, they’re quite unlike anyone else’s. He doesn’t drag in the same songs or albums that have been sampled a dozen times over. He searches, collects, and listens endlessly. When asked by Dazed magazine if he saw himself as an archivist, "... The Alan Lomax of the crate-digging generation?" He replied:
But, it's not just Madlib's samples that hold that level of purity and love for music, Dilla had a similar thing going on. His relationship to music is the same as any human to air, water, and food, all the way from early childhood onward.
I remember the first album that we bought for him, and he was three, and we got him Michael Jacksons ‘The Wiz’, and of course, you know that vinyl was played religiously, at all hours. He could sit with the turntable for many, many, many hours at a time without getting up to eat, take a break or anything. Even as a young child, because that was all that he absorbed. It was all that he wanted to absorb.
— J Dilla's mom, Maureen Yancey | Fuse: J Dilla | Crate Diggers
Near the end, when Dilla was in hospital, he still had his sampler and a stack of 45's next to him. Even dying he was still creating.
— design & words by Julie Smits
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Listen to Savage N°01 'Boom Bye Yeah' on
Next Month's Playlist
Savage 02 | Funnel of Love, a complete step away from this month's hip-hop themed playlist and into one stuffed to the brim with somewhat off-kilter love songs that span the length and breadth of the twentieth century.
Madvillainy was produced by Madlib, apart from 'The Illest Villains', which Madlib and MF Doom produced in unison. There's been talk of a second Madvillain album and Doom and Madlib have laid down tracks for it, but in Madlib's words (from 2014): "...I want to see how the recordings are going. It’s not close to finished because it has to be a continuation of the last one. It doesn’t have to be better or worse, but it has to be a continuation."
Black on Both Sides by Mos Def has more than a handful producers attached to it: The man himself, Mos Def; Diamond D; Ge-ology, 88-Keys; DJ Premier; Ayatollah; D. Prosper; Ali Shaheed Muhammad (which you met earlier on this playlist as one-fourth of A Tribe Called Quest); Psycho Les; DJ Etch-A-Sketch; and David Kennedy.
I put this playlist together months back, not realising I'd end up writing quite a bit of text for most of the songs on here. If I did, I would've checked if I could write something in depth about each song. In that way, Sean Price is the only outlier on this playlist, and if I hadn't named it after his song, I would've switched it out with another (which I ended up doing with two other songs on this playlist when I noticed I couldn't write anything genuine about them).