FLOAT LIKE GRAVITY
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
PHIFE DAWG REST IN POWER TRIBUTE
phife building over ATCQ vibes n stuff instrumental
1nce again (acapella) // bound to wreck your body
butter // game day // peace prosperity & paper
one two shit // 8 million stories // oh my god (remix)
push it along // god lives through // lyrics to go
(tumbling dice remix) // baby phife’s return // skypager
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
joey badass – brooklyn’s own
digable planets – jettin
diamond d feat nottz – vanity
michael christmas feat manu manzo – jackie brown
black moon VS dilla – how many MCs (138 blend)
A F R O – infantry
termanology feat freddie gibbs & ea$y money – make believe
curren$y – black rally stripes
flatbush zombies – R.I.P.C.D.
elzhi – two 16s
jay z – girls girls girls (dilla remix)
blimpie’s shout outs harlem world 1981 (edit)
smif n wessun – bucktown
sixtus preiss – lololo (band version)
kendrick lamar – track 03
james brown (KNG edit) VS G rap & nas – fast life (138 blend)
public enemy VS the JB’s – grunt w/o the noise (ill advised edit)
slakah the beatchild feat ebrahim – this beautiful feeling
termanology feat cory guns & kid ink – up every night (remix)
biggie smalls – sky is the limit (cookin soul remix)
lalo schifrin – the human fly (interlude)
busta rhymes & q tip – wild hot
chox-mak & henny tha brain – 40 ounces
madvillain – air
diamond d feat alchemist & evidence – it’s magic
A F R O – dark energy
beef wellington – feel fantabulous
jeru the damaja – come clean
moresounds – lightness
de la soul feat beastie boys – squat!
This mix was already finished when I caught news of Phife’s death, so I went back and put together a quick blend of some verses I’ve always liked. I tried to dig through some well known cuts as well as some remixes heads might not have already worn out.
A lot has been said about the man in the last 2 weeks since his death. All of it true. Without a doubt, A Tribe Called Quest is one of my all time favorite groups. Understanding Tribe’s and thus Phife’s place in the pantheon of Hip Hop is essential for any music lover seeking to live and breathe this music. Their influence is profound to this day, both lyrically and sonically.
I’ve been a fan since Q-Tip’s odd, I’ve-got-a-bad-cold flow first appeared on a 1988 Jungle Brothers promo that used to play on Red Alert’s radio show on KISSFM. I listened to it religiously at the time, and every new rapper that appeared among Red’s cast of characters sent nerds like me digging for clues. Then Phife dropped a verse on the “Buddy” remix in 89 and the pieces began falling into place.
I’ve been trying to articulate just what it is that I loved about Phife so much. It’s not easy. It’s also not easy being second fiddle – especially to a guy as brilliant and cerebral as Q-Tip – but he was the perfect man for this job. He balanced out Tip’s abstractness with shout outs to Queens boulevards and big ups to Nicks players and countless hilarious lines that simply made you smile, especially if you lived in NY (Seaman’s furniture comes to mind). His lyrics were never over-thought. They seemed un-edited, like the kind of shit you might hear friends tossing back and forth in a cypher. More importantly, unlike most rappers drowning in their own bravado, Phife’s lyrics betrayed a raw vulnerability few could muster. They were self-deprecating yet full of swagger. He sounded effortless. He sounded honest. And it all just made you LOVE him. He was the one guy that was giving it to you straight. Uncut. There is a clarity in that. Few can pull it off so flawlessly. I miss him already. Please keep him in your hearts and your earbuds and make somebody you love a Tribe mixtape before they listen to one more Drake song.
DJ Julian intro – The beat in the background is “Interstellar” from Milan jazzophiles The Dining Rooms, from their “Do Hipsters Love Sun Ra” LP released in 2015.
PHIFE DAWG REST IN POWER TRIBUTE- I kicked this off with Phife building over Vibes n Stuff instrumental – Always loved this Grant Green sample, and the interview is from MTV, years back.
1nce Again (acapella) – This is one of the very few Phife acapellas in existence. I just wanted to drop the beat out for a sec and hear the brother do his thing before getting into the whole mix below.
Bound To Wreck Your Body (edit) – This came out on bootleg vinyl around 94 or so. I think it was intended as a remix of The Chase Pt II, but who knows. The sonic quality is adequately bootleg, but nothing beyond that.
Butter (edit) – Any Phife fan can rap every verse of this verbatim. It is etched into my brain alongside The Beatles “Help” and The Clash’s “Death or Glory”. You know it too, don’t you?
Game Day (edit) – A short edit of two verses from a track he made in 1996 with the NY Giants’ Rodney Hampton for the “NFL Jams” Compilation (seriously). The Dilla beat is awesome, yet again, and any chance to rhyme Vince Lombardi with “party” is a good thing IMO. Rodney Hampton’s verses were straight garbage LOL and had to be edited out.
Peace Prosperity & Paper (edit) – Props to Neil Whiting for reminding me about this track from the High School High soundtrack. Such a dope Q-Tip beat. This particular type of sonic simplicity was Tip’s real genius IMO. And it was the DNA Dilla seemingly absorbed in whatever of toxic waste accident gave him dem super powers.
One Two Shit (edit) – 1994 hotness. This too came out on bootleg before surfacing as a B-side of an “Oh My God” promo. I think it got an official release on a Love Movement bonus LP. I kept Tip’s verse in cuz I always loved the way he shouted out Riker’s island cell blocks and followed it up with a Spacely Sprockets ref. Seriously. Nobody ever did that before (or since). Recognize.
8 million stories (edit) – “And to top it off, Starks got ejected” – This one line embodies everything that I loved about Phife. He spoke in the language of every person in NYC. Peep the original Brasilian break. This is some real romantic candle-light dinner in an 80s movie type track.
Oh My God (remix – edit) – One of the many remixes of this track – this one from the domestic 12”. No Busta on the chorus, and I think Phife re-recorded his lyrics for some reason.
Push It Along (edit) – One of my favorites from the first album. Feels like it was the first time we really heard Phife step out front. Built on a great sample from Grover Washington Jr’s “Loran’s Dance” from his 1978 Reed Seed LP.
God Lives Through (edit) – The final track on 1993’s utterly flawless Midnight Marauders LP. I always loved the slightly syncopated rhythm of the bassline on this track. It just gives each measure this slight push and pull. And the JB’s vocal loop is pure Q-Tip genius.
Lyrics To Go (tumbling dice remix – edit) – Another thing about Phife that always spoke to me was his connection to the West Indies. It was forever woven throughout his lyrics. Sometimes his Trini accent would come through, just when he needed to emphasize the point. Sometimes not. Like in this song when he says “This is dedicated to all then honies that be Boglin’ ” – The Bogle dance was all the rage in reggae clubs at the very moment the song dropped. The Bogle Dance was a creation of Gerald Levy aka Father Bogle aka Wacky. He took the name from the famous Jamaican deacon and activist Paul Bogle – leader of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion. People would make gun fingers in homage to how gangsta Paul Bogle really was in standing up to his oppressors.
Baby Phife’s Return (edit) – Sweet Jesus this beat is FIRE. This has Dilla written all over it. The man was a master of subtlety. I mean, there’s almost nothing there, and yet there is something there. Just enough, in fact. The perfect amount of funk. This was his gift.
Skypager (edit) – I can barley describe how much of a big shot I felt like when I got my first skypager. Pre-cellphone. Pre-two way pager. It was the thing that told the Hip Hop world you were so important that people HAD to be able to reach you, no matter where you were on the globe. Not that I was ever important, but it felt that way, and that was enough.
Brooklyn’s Own – East Flatbush represent! Joey Bada$$ released this on the 2016 anniversary of Biggie’s death. Statik Selektah has been absolutely KILLING IT on production for the last few years, and the streak continues. The chorus, sung so badly it’s almost good, is kind of a throwback to those days when rappers like Grand Puba weren’t shy about singing off key for the right hook.
Jettin’ – I was in the studio with them the day this song was recorded, and I’ve been saying ever since that Digable’s entire “Blowout Comb” LP is the most slept on Hip Hop record in existence. Fucking LOVE this shit.
Vanity – That’s right. One of the greatest producers ever, Diamond D, is back! With an entire album, no less. OK this actually came out awhile back, but who cares. It’s great. No, really. Dude hasn’t lost a step. And his rhymes are what they always were – just good enough to make you like him, but never stepping on his A-list roster of guest vocalists. The sample is lifted from the Ohio Players’ “Pride & Vanity”, which you will recognize from a classic Mary J track if nothing else. You can cop Diamond’s album on iTunes HERE
Jackie Brown – Did Lord Sear have a kid in Boston back in 1994? Cuz I swear Michael Christmas could be that kid. Just 22, Michael Christmas is repping lovely for nerds and outcasts of all stripes. This came out in 2013 and has been drifting from folder to folder on my laptop ever since. He even made a video.
How Many MCs (138 blend) – Threw the acapella over an old Dilla beat (“Sounds Like Love”) he made for Illa J and voila!
Infantry – Just when you want to give up on Hip Hop for good, along comes a kid like A F R O aka All Flows Reach Out. He was discovered at 16 in a Youtube rap contest that R.A. The Rugged Man put together. Download his “Tales From The Basement” mixtape. It does not disappoint. MCing is alive and well in 2016. If you don’t know, now you know.
Make Believe – The pride of Lawrence, Mass – a ghetto wasteland akin to Bridgeport, Conn – Termanology continues to hold it down. What he lacks in original subject matter, he makes up for in sheer lyrical flow. The dude is just nice with his. And more importantly, he invariably has great beats – thanks to cuts like this 2013 gem from Statik Selektah, who delivers, as always. I randomly met Statik hanging out with Dante Ross in a strip club in LA some years back, so its clear that I run with classy mother fuckers.
Black Rally Stripes – Slow, Nyquil-esque Hip Hop is not really my thing, but my GOD did Alchemist put his foot in this beat. Get yourself some proper speakers and turn it up. YES! Let the sub-bass flow through you!
R.I.P.C.D. – After years and years of mix tapes, the Flatbush Zombies finally release an album – 3001: A Laced Odyssey. I give them props for the Kubrick pun alone. Being 21st century kids, most of the record is real downtempo, with some trap type beats the kids are so crazy for these days, but rest assured, lyrically it delivers. And the album cover art is straight up bananas.
Two 16s – The Slum Village veteran from the D never fails to bring it. This came out 2 weeks ago. Jazz drummer Karriem Riggins made the beat and it’s Land-O-Lakes quality butter.
Girls Girls Girls (Dilla remix) – UK producer Jimmy Green made a whole mixtape back in 2009 called “What if Dilla produced The Blueprint?”. I guess some beats were actually submitted to Jigga for the LP, but he passed. Good thing he released those acapella albums so we could find out.
Bucktown – I threw a snippet from the legendary 1981 Kool Moe Dee VS Busy Bee Harlem World Battle at the front of this track, just to remind de yoot dem where this all comes from. Pretty sure that’s DJ Hollywood shouting out Blimpie’s.
Lololo (band version) – Speaking of Dilla, without him, I highly doubt you’d have Jazz cats from Vienna like Sixtus Preiss making weird instrumental songs like this. That snare is just slightly early for a reason. This came out last year on Affine Records. Peep more of his music HERE
Track 03 – Kendrick’s new album is great. Not as mind blowing as his last, perhaps, but it’s full of originality and wit and dopeness and street wisdom on a level that almost nobody else is operating. Seriously. When future historians write about Hip Hop in the second decade of this millennium, they will be talking about Kendrick, while most everybody else will be completely forgotten. Put that in your time capsule and smoke it.
Fast Life (138 blend) – G Rap and Nas acapella over a recent edit of James Brown’s “Blind Man Can See It”, from the Black Caesar soundtrack. When Kool G Rap gets moving, as he does here, he’s unstoppable. The original track was a very half-assed loop of Mtume’s “Juicy”, and I always felt like the lyrics deserved better.
Grunt Without The Noise (ill advised edit) – Somebody took the original JB’s cut “The Grunt” and replaced all of the bomb squad samples. Still one of my all time favorite songs, no matter how you slice it. And the energy and impact of the original JB’s song still holds up.
This Beautiful Feeling – Slept on smoothness from Slakah’s 2011 Something Special LP on BBE. Has a real Raphael Saadiq thing going on. Makes me want to dance right now.
Up Every Night (remix) – An old school-ish party track from Termanology’s Cameo King III, which you can download for free HERE
Sky Is The Limit (cookin soul remix) – Valencia’s Cookin Soul aka Big Size & Zock never make a bad mash up. These dudes should hook up with The Weeknd and make some magic.
The Human Fly (interlude) / Wild Hot – The original Lalo Schifrin song from the Enter The Dragon Soundtrack is so great, I just had to tease it in a little. Busta was in top form in 1997, as you can clearly witness here. Props to Chilly Willy, the only penguin in the North pole.
40 Ounces – Carolina MC Chox-Mak, whose whole crew is called “90s Flow”, dropped this track in 2014. The lyrics are kinda whatever, but I just love this beat.
Air – MF Doom made a whole mixtape of Sade beats. It’s as weird and random as you would expect, but I do like this track. He only put drums in the left channel LOL.
It’s Magic – Another lovely track from that Diamond D album. And Alchemist can spit, for realz.
Dark Energy – As I said above, get this mixtape. This dude is the truth. And this beat is murder. And I’m getting tired of writing these liner notes.
Feel Fantabulous – Turns out Orlando had a rapper back in 2001 or so and he made some nice tracks. This is news to me but never too late to shine some light on good music. The album cover is so fucking 2001 Photoshop rave flyer you’d almost think it was a throwback parody.
Come Clean – In my top 10 90s tracks fo sho. Maybe DJ Premier’s greatest beat? I dunno, but it’s up there. The drums are just so hard on this shit.
Lightness – Did I mention I’m tired of writing these liner notes. Just sit back and enjoy this beat.
Squat! – I was going to end the mixtape with the previous track, but then I remembered that my man DJ Whyteout from the Chi had posted this sleeper from De La’s 2000 LP Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump on FB, and after a few listens I was like “I’ll be damned… this shit is really really good!”