"That's the number one part of DJing, know your records," says Zernell, the Chicago born, now LA-based DJ and head of the music label, Grimy!. Zernell, along with fellow house DJs Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman, were spinning records at Amoeba Hollywood for our weekly DJ series, ROTATIONS, in celebration of the Crate Diggers Record Fair. Parrish and Pittman, both Detroit based, are also heads of their own labels, Sound Signature and Unirhythm, respectively. Before their sets the three DJs went record shopping and we got a chance to hear what they had to say about their killer picks.
Pittman starts with the Gang Starr album he considers their best, Hard To Earn, though Parish and Zernell seem to have different opinions on the matter. Parrish chimes in next with Hiatus Kaiyote's latest record, Choose Your Weapon. Zernell picks up Robert Owens' "Bring Down The Walls" 12", which was produced by Larry Heard, who he considers "the dopest 'house' producer." Also in the picks are some of great female singers, including Melba Moore and early Natalie Cole, whose song "Annie Mae" was, according to Parrish, a major tune in '80s Chicago.
With just a quick glance over the forty records included in the rap/hip-hop chart, courtesy of the defunct Gavin Report radio trade magazine from the week of July 5th 1991, it's evident that this period in the still growing urban music genre was a truly incredible time in hip-hop history with so many soon-to-be classics being recorded and released! These include singles and album tracks, all very popular to this day 24 years later, from such legendary, influential hip-hop acts as De La Soul, Gang Starr, KMD (featuring a young MF Doom), Leaders of The New School, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, EPMD, Main Source, and Brand Nubian. Also included are such hip-hop legends as Big Daddy Kane, Chubb Rock, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Ice T, Rodney O & Joe Cooley, Naughty By Nature, 3rd Bass, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Ice Cube protege/female rapper Yo-Yo and the late great NJ producer/rapper Tony D to name but some.
Mark Ronson is a DJ and producer whose work nods to classic soul and funk style sounds. Born in London but educated in New York City, Ronson began his career by DJing high profile gigs like Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' 29th birthday party. In 2003, he found success in the UK with the release of his debut album, Here Comes the Fuzz, which features guest appearances from the likes of Anthony Hamilton, Nikka Costa, Rivers Cuomo, Jack White, Mos Def, and Sean Paul. In 2007, he released a collection of cover songs called Version, which was followed by 2010's Record Collection.
In 2015, Ronson released Uptown Special. He dedicated the album to Amy Winehouse, whose Back to Black he had produced and for which he had received the 2008 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Uptown Special features "Uptown Funk," a collaboration with Bruno Mars which marked Ronson's first entry into Billboard's Hot 100. Interestingly, the album features lyrics written by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon.
Here is our list of gift ideas culled from recent Hip Hop releases (with a few classics thrown in), plus 10 Hip Hop vinyl reissues from 2014 every fan should have.
Diabolic - Fightin' Words
Fightin' Words is a long delayed release from East Coast rapper Diabolic which has been in the works for four years. Originally intended to come out on Viper Records, the album instead got released via the recently founded WarHorse Records. Mic collaborators include such hard hitters as Vinnie Paz, Apathy, and R.A. the Rugged Man, while production is handled in most part by DJ Premier.
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Pinata