Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Tape Kingz #7: DJ Diablo


Aside from having contributed a ton of tapes from his extensive collection to OB4ZL, DJ Diablo is also a founder member of The Brotherhood, was resident at legendary London club night The Hop, DJ for Roots Manuva's Banana Klan crew and most recently held it down on BBC 1Xtra with a guest spot on the Heartless Crew's sunday night show. Here's his top 3 mixtapes...

DJ Riz on the Capital Rap Show (1994)

No one had ever heard a mix like this before, everything about it was perfect the cuts, the blends, the mixing. Westwood first played Riz's mix in '93 but only dropped 20 minutes of it and due to popular demand he had to play the whole thing. Simply untouchable. 

 Mr Wiggles - Rock Steady Vol 1 (1994)


Another incredible mix for its time influencing many copycats, some good some and not so good. Using a 4 or 8 track mixing classic breaks with Zulu Nation gems. The definitive B-Boy mixtape. 

 DJ JS-1 - Flashbacks  
Another mix that blew my mind. Insane cutting and mixing with legendary tunes that birthed the culture. Flawless from beginning to end, JS-1's masterpiece is still in heavy rotation today.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Tape Kingz #6: DJ Yoda


Tape Kingz #6! Another big name DJ! More classic mixes for your domepiece! In The Before Times, DJ Yoda could be found anywhere and everywhere from mixing on BBC6 Music to a ton of festivals and clubs and making songs with Edo G and the Jungle Brothers, all the while doing some mind blowing stuff with AV that makes your average DJ look rather ordinary and boring. Catch him on Twitch on Wednesday evenings. He's also contributed some tapes to this site and back in the day he wrote a mixtape column in HHC so he's a good person to talk to about this kind of thing. Here's his Top 3...

Q-Bert - Demolition Pumpkin Squeeze Muzik (1994)

There's some confusion over whether this tape is called that, or "Pre-School Breaks"? Regardless, this was probably the most influential mixtape for me, because Q and the Piklz were finding all sorts of vocal snippets from movies like The Warriors and Wild Style, and throwing them over the breaks they were cutting up; it inspired me to include movies in my DJing, which I've done since.

DJ Spinbad - Rock The Casbah (1995)Spinbad's recent passing made us all re-assess just how influential this mix was, but it obviously inspired me on a personal level more than others, hence all my 80s mixes I've done since. Spinbad was the first to show me that you could combine the music of your youth with the style of DJing you grew up to love. Plus it's just so insanely clever, every scratch sample is thought out and there for a reason.

Kid Koala - Scratchcratchratchatch (1996)

Kid Koala remains, to me, the most musical of DJs - he just has always had a unique way of really using records as instruments. This tape was so creative - the Charlie Brown "I Gotta Rock" was just so iconic.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Tape Kingz #5: Tobes


 You may know Tobes from the dope Sparkle Motion mixes (with DJ Yoda) and as part of Blood Money (with DJ Dub), or for his work on Spine Magazine back in the day. He's also a mixtape aficionado and has contributed some of his extensive collection to this site in the past. Here's his top 3...

Doo Wop - Spring '94 (1994) 
To be a teenage rap fanatic in the Spring of 1994 was a true blessing. Looking back, I honestly feel so fortunate to have experienced it all. As consumers we were completely spoiled for amazing music on a weekly basis. This tape was a perfect snapshot of the time. Completely unskippable, every track a banger. Plus you had the Bounce Squad intro, and Wop hyping every song like crazy throughout the tape. I listen to this one every now and then and the memories come flooding back. It was an amazing time.      

Ron G - Mixes 12 (1993)  
I have every Ron G mixtape he put out in the 90s. This is probably my favorite along with It's On Pt. II and 187. Mixes 12 featured classic hip hop beats paired with various acapellas, everything from Tina Turner to Buju Banton. It was a big influence for Sparkle Motion's 'Mega Blends' mix which has Ron on the intro. He had the art of the mixtape blend down to a science. The opening Jomanda 'I Like It' / Steady B 'Use Me' blend is so cold. I would play the transformer scratch he did on that over and over and over again, completely mesmerized. It was so ill. Still is. I feel like Ron G never got the props he deserves. His R&B/hip hop blends helped shape the sound of 90's/00's R&B as we know it. Ask Puffy. 

Kid Capri - 52 Beats (1991)  
The fact that this tape was recorded live in one take just makes it so ill to me. When the records skip a few times and Capri jokes "ooops excuse that!" gave it that raw factor, along with tons of tape hiss. I miss tape hiss! It was all breakbeats, but it doesn't get any more hip hop than this. So many break mixes came after, but none were as good. It's a magical listening experience that every hip hop head should be forced to listen to!

BONUS! Tobes and I collaborated on the internet hood classic A Queensbridge Project a few years back which you should definitely check out when  you're in the mood for some early 00s QB raps.


Friday, 19 February 2021

Tape Kingz #4: DJ Swerve


Great choices here from DJ Swerve, who you'll be familiar with from Kiss FM and numerous club nights all over the place. You can currently catch him on Twitch on Monday nights 8 - 10pm and on Kiss Fresh on Thursday nights 10 - 12 .


Bad Boy Mixtape Volume 3  
Picked up the tape from Red Records/Unity in Beak Street if I remember correctly. First track is You’ll See by The LOX and Biggie; prime Bad Boy, Puffy ad-libs and a dope selection put together by Stretch Armstrong. Say no more. I can even remember where I was when I heard Winter Warz on this tape.

Arthur King & Uncle T - Gangster Boogie
 
A low key sleeper. It doesn’t get too lairy, and has a perfect balance of skills and selection. I still have this in rotation for when I need some West Coast vibes. 

 DJ Swerve - Word Of Mouth Volume 4  
This one is so significant for me. Along with the club work that I was doing at the time, and Christian and Karen in the Kiss Clubs dept, this tape really helped me get me my shot at Kiss FM. These tapes were the ones to get on. They were limited to a few hundred but distributed to the right people. Jamie Topham was in charge of selecting the DJ’s for these and I just about managed to get the right level of hustle going to get on. I borrowed a 4 track Minidisc recorder from my mate Gordon and set about it putting it together in the living room of my flat. 

 Honorable mention for Double Dee & Steinski - The Lessons. This was my first experience of mixes and edits.Totally mind blowing. Where does one track stop and the other start? This was a major influence on me; a classic.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Tape Kingz #3: DJ Snips

Stepping up next to drop his top 3 mixes is DJ Snips. Currently based in NY, Snips co-promoted and DJ'd at Livin Proof which was one of London's biggest hip hop nights. His production CV includes Trife, Cappadonna, Skyzoo and the infamous Poisonous Poets crew which included Lowkey, Doc Brown, Reveal and Tony D. He's currently in the middle of releasing a new beat every week as part of his 52 Beats project. 


DJ Spinna - Live on Westwood (1999) This one always sticks in my head as it was a pivotal time for hip hop when the underground and mainstream worlds were completely divided. It seemed like a breath of fresh air to hear a DJ like Spinna, who was very much a staple in the underground scene, on a show like Westwood's, who by that time would rarely play records from that world. 

 Kid Capri - 52 Beats What even needs to be said about this? Hip Hop DJing 101. With the introduction of the internet many of these breaks are common knowledge to most people but that wasn’t always the case. I recently named my latest beat tape after this. 


DJ Premier - NY Reality Check 101 (1997)  

This and Stretch Armstrong's 'The Lesson' were the pinnacle of mid-late 90s NY indie hip hop. This tape stands out to me particularly because I used it as a gauge to make my own tapes. I had doubles of most of the 12”s on here and was imitating Premo's juggles as a way to get tighter myself. Seems fitting in hindsight as I did the same thing with his beats when I started producing.

Saturday, 13 February 2021

Tape Kingz #2: DJ Ayres

 Next up in the Tape Kingz series is DJ Ayres, perhaps best known for co-promoting legendary Brooklyn club night The Rub. Along with the acclaimed History Of Hip Hop mix series he has also DJ'd for no less than  Ghostface and Bun B. In these uncertain, unprecedented times you can check him out on Twitch and you can also check out his Top 3 mixtapes right here:

DJ Daze - Hip-Hop From the Good Old Daze Vol. 2 DJ Daze is a bit of a mystery to me. I bought this cassette at Fat Beats in the 90s, and I know he did scratches on some High & Mighty songs.  The cuts and arrangement on this tape are super clean and sharp, and the tracklist is golden age 80s rap perfection.  Daze is very democratic in his selection, mixing some bigger names like Special Ed, Heavy D and NWA with lesser-known singles from Sid & B-Tonn, Markey Fresh & Bizzey Boys.  The JVC Force album cut he chose, "Stop-N-Listen," sent me on a mission to find their underappreciated second album.  It's a perfect mixtape to me.

Green Lantern - Best of 2000 (Cornerstone) Cornerstone is a marketing agency which is probably best known because the founders also started The Fader magazine, but their monthly mix CDs were legendary.  They tapped mixshow DJs from all over the US to record mixes, which went out to tons of DJs, creative people and music journalists.  Because they were recording for an audience of their peers, the DJs put a ton of work into the mixtapes, and it's hard to think of one more creative than this Green Lantern set.  At the time, monophonic midi ringtones were extremely hot, in some cases outselling the music itself, and Green Lantern recorded them into Pro Tools and arranged them over the songs, which was mind-blowing at the time.  But the section that fucks me up to this day is when he mixes Cam'ron "What Means The World To You" -> The Police "Roxanne" -> Outkast "Bombs Over Baghdad" -> Foreigner "Cold As Ice" -> M.O.P. -> "Cold As Ice," cutting the Outkast drums into halftime and back to 150 BPM to bridge the whole thing together.  The Evil Genius! 

P.F. Cuttin - Da 4-Oh 

 

This tape still gets me so hype! P.F. Cuttin is best known for producing Danger for his group Blahzay Blahzay, and his mixtapes were right up there with Tony Touch and Mister Cee.  'Da 4-O' is my favorite, with huge street anthems by Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., O.C. & Jay-Z alongside more underground 12"s by Brainsick Mob, Goodie Mob, and, well, Mobb Deep.  What I love about this mix is the layering, with long blends, instrumentals teased over choruses, and little sound effects scratched in; plus his doubles skills approach the levels of the X-Men or the Beat Junkies without losing the flow of the tape. 

This mix is available on PF Cuttin's bandcamp page

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Tape Kingz #1 : DJ 7L

 Mixtapes are as big a part of some people's musical history as albums, in some cases more so. They provided the soundtrack for memorable times of years gone by. That one tape that was stuck in your walkman for a whole summer, or played endlessly in your mates car when you were at college. The one you played so much that the songs on it don't sound the same when they're played in any other context. 

Depending on where you where from or what age you are you were probably all bumping different mixes. They might've been by local DJs, purchased on trips out of town or abroad, or recorded off the radio. They might've put you onto songs you didn't know about and never heard elsewhere and if you're a DJ there's almost certainly some in particular that inspired you or made you want to step your game up. 

The thing is, there's a lot of tapes out there and although most of the notable ones have appeared online by now, it's easy to be a bit overwhelmed and not know where to start if you're looking for some good ones to check out. With that in mind (and with no tapes to rip at the moment) I hit up some DJs of note to find out what their favourite tapes of all time are.

Because OB4ZL is taking no shorts in the Deuce-1 (remember when years had rap names?), we're starting the series off properly. Boston's DJ 7L of Czarface, Bladerunners and 7L & Esoteric fame. He's a dope DJ and he knows his shit. Here's his Top 3:


7L: I am sure if I sit and think there would be much deeper ones, but these are the tapes I played to death...

DJ S&S - Old School Volume 3 (1994)

 
I bought this on a school trip to New York. I just really liked the energy of this mix, and I remember playing it around the clock in my car for a good 2 years. It has the classic New York slam style of mixing and great mic work.

Doo Wop - Cool Out '93

This one I got when we went to New York for Rock Steady Anniversary for the first time. I got this near Rock&Soul. This was another tape that I remember playing for many years, had all the R&B I liked, and again the mic work and mixing was great. Mixtapes back then were like albums to me, even if I knew the music on it, if it was done in a cool way it was all I needed. I saw Doo Wop a few times back then when he would come to Boston, and live he was incredible. One time he was at North Eastern (College) and only had one working turntable, and still killed it for 20 minutes by using the mic and just grabbing records and dropping them. A fight ended the party early. Another mix that ties in with this is Biz's Classic Cuts - Theory of Old School


DJ Shame & Kool DJ EQ - Wreckord Fiendz (1994)  
Man..Shame's side of this mix is still one of my favorites of all time, it's just wild. It had the DJ mix intro, then his own remixes, with his own cut up hooks, plus an amazing selection all in a seamless megamix. Shame was very mythological to me back then, I hadn't met him yet, but you heard a lot about him from other DJ's, or from his name on the radio or his remixes. A year earlier he did Travelling Through Sampleland which is probably a tie with this mix as being outstandingly influential on me.

Thanks to 7L for stepping up with the first contribution to the series. I interviewed him for this very blog 10 years ago now. You can check that out here.