Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Lemon D - Urban Style Music


Lemon D - Urban Style Music (Metalheadz, 1995)

Today would have been the 52nd birthday of the rapper Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal), real name Keith Elan. One of my favourite MCs thanks to his effortless, monotone delivery and socially conscious lyrics, he is best known for his work with DJ Premier as Gang Starr. He passed away on April 19th 2010 after a battle with cancer followed by a heart attack, his final weeks spent in a coma - RIP.

The most celebrated of his solo projects was the Jazzmatazz series which saw him working with jazz legends such as Lonnie Liston Smith and Donald Byrd. The latter appeared on 'Loungin' which is the source of the main vocal sample on Lemon D's evocative 'Urban Style Music':

"What they did was, which was so ingenious was, to create a whole form of urban style music from just two turntables and two records and a microphone."

Guru is referring of course to the origins of hip-hop and the sample perfectly suits the jazzy instrumentation of the track. The horns, keys, flute and vibraphone create an air of hazy nostalgia while the live-sounding drums and tough bassline give the track a hard edge. There is also a "Fresh!" vocal taken from the beginning of Run DMC's 'Rock Box', further enhancing the track's hip-hop feel. It appeared on a 12" entitled Urban Flava Pt 1 with the Amen-led 'This Is L.A.' on the flip and it's a shame Lemon D never delivered a second volume because these are two of his finest works.

You can hear 'Urban Style Music' in Bailey's 'Intelligence' Studio Mix from Autumn 1995 which is available to download courtesy of Hardscore.com. Lemon D produced a laid back 90 BPM version of the track for the Metalheadz Tin Box, check that out below:


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