1. Company Flow | Info Kill II
I get this strange, sad, futuristic nostalgia from this one. It samples Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, which is always a brilliant idea. The last chord in the sequence is a thing of wonder, the way it lifts, and keeps lifting, like a UFO you're craning your neck to get a glimpse of. Excuse me, EL DIABLO, excuse me. I have no idea what Big Juss is saying there, but it could be my favourite line on the album. Legends is the soundtrack to El-P scuttling your boat during a sea storm and barking Independent As Fuck propaganda over the intercom as you drown. Any rapper on a label should resign and quit. I love that sample, the audacity of it. And as a statement, I guess it's even more relevant today than when Funcrusher Plus was first released.
2. Goldie | This Is A Bad
Some of my friends got into Drum And Bass, but I didn't get interested until I heard these earlier records. It was like the thrill of discovering Hip Hop all over again. So I got into the clubs and the things that go with that. These Goldie tunes felt like they were pulling you in so many different directions at once. I was 18 and I felt like that was happening to me. The strings are floating in the clouds, the bass is trying to burrow into the ground and hide. And the drums, those producers were telling such a story with drums. To me that was the strength of the sound, I never understood why the boom-tsch, boom-tsch took over. Books I was reading at the time, like The Primal Scream, had me really interested in the idea of catharsis. That you didn't need to become anything, you just needed to feel and express whatever darkness was there. Similarly, Goldie's Music seems to be about purging. His arrangements unravel and pull you into cavernous areas, but the pads and the strings, they soothe the wounds. After he played in Perth one time I approached him to tell him how important This Is A Bad” was to me. He said Of course!, sneezed on his hand, and wiped it on my shoulder as he walked off.
3. UGK | Diamonds & Wood
My conscience fuck with me so much that I can't eat or sleep... Amidst the braggadocio, I love how Pimp and Bun gave us the other side here. It's hard to split them on a track this perfect, but Pimp's third verse really pushes it over the edge. Got to the point where I can not decipher day from night, she say she love me but all we do now is fuck and fight. The 808-reinforced Bootsy Collins groove (Munchies for your love) is perfection, and definitely makes this a stay in my car until it ends song.
4. Davina | Don't You Want It (Extended)
Perth is a small city but it's got an amazing pool of DJs. Selectors that really dig deep and just have immense knowledge. Personally, I get stuck on tunes that I love and listen to them forever. I heard the MOVE guys play this at a warehouse a couple of years ago and I became obsessed with it. It's produced by Mad Mike so it's got those distinctive UR synths, but it's this sultry, deep, House tune with a rousing vocal.
5. High Plains Drifter | Sholay (feat. Goldspot Productions) (Epic Mix)
I must have spent years loading bits of Indian records into my sampler, trying to catch the vibe of this. Though a lot of producers have fused Asian sounds with the flex of UK Garage, there's usually a rift where the two meet. On Sholay though, the welding joints are invisible.
6. Ghostface Killah | The Faster Blade (feat. Raekwon)
RZA's beats from that era, they're from another planet. Though this is on Ghostface's Ironman album, it's a solo Raekwon effort. Rae's adlibs are legendary. He'll just throw you a little entre before he starts, like tranquilizer. Or my personal favourite, Put your shoes on... He's got this inexplicable middle aged Italian man vibe about him, so amongst all of the Mafioso obsessed 90s New York rappers, you kind of believe Rae. I remember swapping CDs with a mate at School and first hearing this in my Discman, and the rush it gave me. Music from those years seems to stay with you.
7. Slowdive | Crazy For You (Alternative Version from Pygmalion Demos)
Crazy For You ended up on the Pygmalion album, but it's this version I love, it just aches beautifully. It's a skeletal arrangement, and everything that is there is perfect. When the jangly chords kick in, and the crazy for love refrain, yeah...
8. 2Pac | Temptations
Yo Mo Bee man, drop that shit... As a vocal performance, this is untouchable. It's got this melodic quality, almost like he's singing it. Don't need lights, I can see you by the moooonlight. By all accounts, no one valued spontaneity in the studio more than Pac. Though he used overdubs, he rejected the notion that an engineer could cut and paste various takes together to build a song. Rather, he'd record all three verses in one take, and I think that intensity is part of what makes his Music so enduring... The fact that Easy Mo Bee isn't a bigger name has always puzzled me. His production here is flawless - the keys, the horns, the Erick Sermon Heeeeey. Somehow the vocalist is uncredited in the liner notes, so I did some digging and found out that it's Mo Bee's long term collaborator A.B Money. He needs his props because that vocal solo at the end, I've got to sing every bit of that when I hear it. There's just something about this song. I must have heard it ten thousand times and it's still there.
9. 2Pac + Outlawz | Still I Rise (with Ta'He)
Somebody wake me, I'm dreaming, I started as a seed, the semen, swimming upstream... One of the great Pac verses, a minute and a half autobiography beginning right from Conception, no less. It's all about the original mix, with the Big Syke sample (96 Big Body Sitting On Chrome) and the Walter Beasley break. No sunny days and we only play sometimes, when everybody's sleeping... I open my window jump to the street and get to creeping... I love those details, and the picture he paints.
10. Blackdown | Crackle Blues (Burial Remix)
I like that feeling of being alone with a song, and, with certain sorts of Music, I think you have to be. A lot of Burial's work is thick with heartache, envy, and despair. This one is different. This is more like those moments when the strangeness of everything hits you. Oh, I'm alive. What's this about?... When you see things fresh, with no dust. Sometimes you hear yourself talk, and it's weird, you know? Some of Burial's early stuff, I don't really revisit it. When his first album came out, I'd read this amazing interview with him on Blackdown's blog. I went straight up to the city to buy the CD. My little sister had just been born, same Dad. Something about track 10 really hit me from left field, I remember putting it on repeat and crying for a long time. The stilted trumpet notes, the voice. And it only just hangs together, it's so fragile.
+11. Oneohtrix Point Never | Along
This song really is a miracle. Something in it says to me, persist.
+12. Dillinja | Deadly Deep Subs
I want you... An understated masterpiece from Dillinja. He samples Reese's Just Want Another Chance quite liberally, but he weaves those sounds with such finesse they become his own. Everyone uses the Think (About It) breakbeat but the way he twists it, it's so nimble, light on it's feet. I love that he made this more intricate, moody tune and just thought those subs are pretty deep, I know what I'll name it. For me, the unofficial sequel to Deadly Deep Subs is Cooly G's Up In My Head (Her 2010 single, not the album version). It's that same vibe of lusting after someone and just being in a daze over it, lost. Once again, incredible drums.
+13. Round Five | Na Fe Throw It (feat. Tikiman)
This is the strongest example of Music As Medicine I've come across. Those two chords may well be clouds that they've plucked from the sky and played from their sampler. I'm certain this record will be dug up in a thousand years and revered as a sacred ancient recording, as will much of Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald's work. I listen to their Basic Channel releases Quadrant Dub (I & II) and Lyot Rmx constantly. Along with Vainquer's Elevation, they're tunes I play I when I want to zoom out from the World. The things we're caught up in are very transitory, and this Music reminds me of that.
+14. G-Dep | Head Over Wheels
If I could only own ten seconds of Music, the opening bit of Tom Browne's Charisma might do. It's just one of those heavenly loops like C.R.E.A.M, that needs to play out forever. In the second bar there's this woodblock or something that's soaked in reverb. It's the sort of sound you need to dive into a lagoon to. I haven't done that but I did make a 20 minute edit of the loop so I can stare out the window to it. G-Dep, he's just a natural MC. Only place I'll be seeing you is in my rear-view.
+15. Lil' O | Can't Stop (feat. Destiny's Child) (Screwed & Chopped by DJ Screw)
When you're listening to Screw you're kinda listening with him as well, like he's there in the room. He might open with the instrumental and just talk for a while, and you end up singing along with those words as much as with the actual lyrics. I guess they become the lyrics. There's certain songs that you can feel he just knows inside out - he'll pick the perfect lines to juggle. Lil' O was given a label from the cradle to the grave when I was put on probation, a slave to the nation. Slowing the record down just thickens each moment so much. Lil' O does his thing but Screw just makes you feel it. Put it in their motherfuckin' face!... Beyoncé and friends are on the hook, and I think it might even be their first major appearance.
+16. The Conscious Daughters | Something To Ride To (Fonky Expedition) (Remix) (Screwed & Chopped by DJ Screw)
This one's built on a great S.O.S. Band sample, but in Screw's hands it just takes on this extra drama. He extends the intro for a few minutes and it feels like such an event. I drive to this one and have to do a lot of air-scratching. It seems counter-intuitive for Ultra Slow Music to motivate you, but it really can give you great strength. Salute to Conscious Daughters, great rappers.
+17. MVP (Da Hardware Vandal) | Heart
A close mate of mine, Mick will say this one's not finished yet and then play you something so good it makes you angry. Even in High School, when he was using laughable equipment to make beats for us to rap on, he really had his own style. He won't go near a computer, but after some convincing he did let me make him a Soundcloud. I've always wanted people to hear his Music, but he's never seemed to care either way.
+18. A.r.t. Wilson | Rebecca's Theme (Water)
Andras Fox – a brilliant producer and a great ambassador of Australian Music. There's something in this track that is just good for you. I'm rejuvenated each time I hear it.