Raise 'Em Up

Posted by Beats Royale on 23. Mar 2010

Editor's note: Markie Royale's rise to fame -- like many others -- started out back in the kitchen of his mom and dad's house where he could often be found banging on pots and pans with a wooden spoon: he had an innate talent for rhythm.

After watching the hip hop culture classic movie "Wildstyle" shortly before his fifth birthday, he begged his folks for an Akai MPC 2000 sampling drum machine.

The big day came and no such gift materialized.

Markie ran away from home. After a brief stint in the circus and later in Vietnam, he became a roadie for k.d. Lang and later, embarked on a career as tour manager for recording artists Gwar, Liberace, Bob Dylan, N-SYNC and Napalm Death.

These days, if he's not rolling through Alum Rock or Ladywood in his home city of Birmingham, UK with the windows of his ‘86 Mini down and bumping "Ice Ice Baby" on the stereo, he can be found relaxing doing Sudoku puzzles and seeking out beefs with rap fans and genderbending European kids on Internet dating sites.

Mr. Royale can also be found spinning genuine hip hop as part of the ongoing Beats Royale party series. The next installment, a joint appearance with the Meiwenti Soundsystem crew, is scheduled for Sat, Mar 27 at Obiwan.

With that said, here is what's on Markie Royale's playlist.

"Raise It Up," by Slum Village (listen below)

This is one of those tracks on permanent rotation in the Walkman, in the car and on the stereo. In fact, anywhere. This track is dry: it ticks all the boxes for a hip hop song and bumps at a party... Slum Village and Jaydee (pictured above) over tight stripped-down funk.

Jaydee talks on hip hop clichés and how he's been there, done that and bought the XXXL T-shirt already, braggadocio-style followed up with a "pump your fist" chorus. For the second and third verses, T3 drops some mind-bending rhymes that steal the show.

Anything I write can't do it justice. Just listen:


"Do I Love Her," by DJ Quik ft. Suga Free

This is a classic West Coast track. In terms of personality and intricacy and delivery of rhymes, nobody comes close to Suga Free except perhaps E-40 (earlier period) and Mac Dre (late period).

I'm going to get hate from Tupac fans for saying this, but Suga Free's rhymes work on so many levels and make me laugh on repeat listens: he's a comedian, a story teller and rapper. Anyone requiring further proof of his credentials should seek out the skit where Snoop Dogg is repeatedly reaching Free's voicemail, the final message begging Free to return his call.

On this one, DJ Quik's lowriding funk production is on point. His verse is extra smooth, but it's just warming the beat for Free's. This is pompous, camp, vain and grandiose: it pushes the boundaries of bad taste. And it's probably my favourite G-funk track of all time.

"Style Indiglo," by Sensational

I could have named a track by any number of better East Coast rappers: Percee P, Kool G Rap, Kool Keith, GM Grimm, KRS-One, Nas, Ghost Face, Biggie, Godfather Don, Grand Puba... a load of people. I chose a song from one-time Jungle Brother Sensational. He is to hip hop what Marvin the Martian is to Warner Brothers.

Sensational's beats have virtually no mass appeal: his delivery is gung ho and seems to be missing the point almost every time. Lyrical content oscillates between big willy, platinum sales talk of high rollerdom and abstract, bugged-out rhymes that would have made Ol' Dirty Bastard scratch his head confused.

Sensational is the real NY anti-hero. You should also listen to his track on Prince Paul and Automator's "Handsome Boy Modelling School" album to hear him on a beat that sounds less like it was produced on a Spectrum ZX hooked up to a Casio keyboard.

"Head In Advance," by Juvenile

Ca$h Money Millionaires have been responsible for a fair few musical trainwrecks, mostly Lil' Wayne's recent output. "Head in Advance" and a lot of Juvenile's other songs rectify the situation. This club-friendly track bounces with one of the finest bouzouki beats ever made, and might even sway hip hop purists that won't normally be messing with any music from the dirty south.

Juvenile sounds like he had fun recording this. I challenge any purist to show me a Dilated Peoples or Gangstarr song where it sounded like they even cracked a smile in the studio.

No. I didn't think so.

"Godzilla," by Fu Manchu

This one is my Beijing metro rush hour song, as is the whole of Fu Manchu's The Action Is Go album. With a journey that's something like playing a contact sport, I need something fitting to zone out to. This is it.

I like to imagine Godzilla's three meter diameter beady one, peek-a-booing everyone through the window of the carriage before picking it up, and tossing the whole thing skywards. Muscle cars, loose women, evil eyes, aliens and Black Sabbath riffs. Fu Manchu know how to get a groove locked and flip it perfectly.

Beats Royale is not just about hip hop. Hip hop is music about music, so don't be hating because of the inclusion of some rock music. There are a lot more vintage cuts I'd be mentioning. We have 1960s and 70s rock, jazz, blues and more bouzoukis. For those, you will have to check out upcoming gigs and mix tapes.

You can follow the latest in the world of Beats Royale here.

Past contributors of FIVE SONGS have included You Mei You guitarist Skip Lunch, Maybe Mars Creative Team Member Nevin Domer, Hot & Cold multi-instrumentalist Josh Frank, Pacalolo singer and guitarist Ma2 and Split Works Partner and Operational Director Nathaniel Davis. Click here for the archives.


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