Prodigy mastermind Liam Howlett has tapped a who’s-who of classic hip-hop, electronica and breakbeat for his first-ever DJ mix album — The Dirtchamber Sessions — Volume 1.
Among the significant artists to be sampled for the album are old school hip-hoppers the Ultramagnetic MCs, Tim Dog, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and T La Rock, as well as latter-day British dance and rock artists, including the Chemical Brothers, the Charlatans, Primal Scream and Fatboy Slim.
The hour-long CD, to be released April 6, will be a “chopped-up” mix of 50-plus tracks in the tradition of recent albums by the Chemical Brothers, San Francisco turntablists the Invisbl Skratch Piklz and the Live At the Future Primitive Soundsession series, according to Chris Sharp — a spokesman for Prodigy’s English label, XL Recordings.
“It will be a proper beat-mix record,” Sharp continued, “with some really obscure hip-hop from 1984, funky breaks, rare grooves, bits of rock music and break-beat records.”
The album was inspired by Howlett’s guest shot in October on Britain’s national pop station, Radio One, Sharp said. The late-night program, hosted by Mary-Anne Hobbs, features a segment entitled the “Breeze Block,” which has invited British hip-hoppers Monkey Mafia and former Spacemen 3 member, Sonic Boom, to stop by and help program a half-hour of freestyle radio.
The album’s release was held up for a while by the laborious process of obtaining rights to the numerous samples that will make up the core of the album.
Just this month, Howlett was ordered to remove a sample of the Beatles classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” from the album. “[Former Beatle] Paul McCartney is a fan,” Prodigy’s U.S. spokeswoman Sioux Zimmerman said. “But [the Beatles label] Apple Records said it can’t allow any McCartney or Beatles material on any compilation.”
Clearances for the most obscure source material were the hardest to get, according to Sharp. “In the case of some of these break-beat records, they’re always of slightly uncertain provenance,” Sharp explained, “You try to find where they got the break in the first place, and it could be [from] some ’60s easy-listening album, so you have to track down that person first.”
The music on the album has been broken down into eight sections, each containing an eclectic mix of classic hip-hop, pop, rap, funk and break-beat.
Section 1: Rasmus, “Tonto’s Release”; Hardnoise, “Untitled”; Chemical Brothers, “Chemical Beats”; Ultramagnetic MCs, “Kool Keith Housing Thing,” “Give The Drummer Some” (source for Prodigy’s controversial hit “Smack My Bitch Up”); Lightning Rod Featuring Jalal, “Sport”; and Time Zone, “Wildstyle.”
Section 2: Bomb The Bass, “Bug Powder Dust”; Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, “Pump Me Up”; The Charlatans, “How High”; Prodigy, “Poison”; and Tim Dog, “I Get Wrecked.”
Section 3:The Mexican, “Dreams Of Santa Anna”; The B Boys, “Rock The House”; Chemical Brothers, “(The Best Part Of) Breaking Up”; and Word Of Mouth, “King Kut.”
Section 4: DJ Mink, “Hey Can You Relate”; KLF, “What Time Is Love”; Bones Breaks, “Funky Acid Makossa,” “Shafted Off” and “And The Break Goes Again”; Meat Beat Manifesto, “Radio Babylon”; Herbie Hancock, “Rockit”; Prodigy, “Smack My Bitch Up,” “Molotov Bitch”; Public Enemy, “Public Enemy Number One”; 45 King, “900 Number”; Propellerheads, “Spybreak”; and Beastie Boys, “It’s The New Style.”
Section 5: Sex Pistols, “New York”; Fatboy Slim, “Punk To Funk”; and Medicine, “I’m Sick.”
Section 6: DST, “The Home Of Hip Hop”; JVC Force, “Strong Island”; Primal Scream, “Kowalski”; Beastie Boys, “Time To Get Ill”; Barry White, “I’m Gonna Love You A Little Bit More Baby”; Public Enemy, “Public Enemy Number One”; JBs, “Blow Your Head”; and T La Rock, “Breakin’ Bells.”
Section 7: LL Cool J, “Get Down”; Digital Underground, “Humpty Dance”; Uptown, “Dope On Plastic”; and Coldcut, “Beats And Pieces.”
Section 8: London Funk Allstars, “Sure Shot”; West Street Mob, “Breakdance Electric Boogie”; Hijack, “Doomsday Of Rap”; Renegade Soundwave, “Ozone Breakdown”; The Beginning Of The End, “Funky Nassau”; and Jimmy Castor Bunch, “It’s Just Begun.”