DJ Format’s 5 favourite of 2005

Two staples of the UK hip-hop scene, DJ Format’s Music for the Mature B-Boy and If You Can’t Join ‘Em… Beat ‘Em saw a collaboration with MC Abdominal that formed a formidable duo in the game, arguably on a par with more esteemed rap duos from across the pond like Dre and Em and Madlib and DOOM.

Abdominal and The Oblique’s tour earlier this year made it was clear that he’s still very much loved for his unique sound and delivery, especially whilst performing a string of classic Format & Abdominal tracks at the shows. This was the seed that cemented the idea of bringing both DJ Format and Abdominal back together and touring the length and breadth of the UK again for the first time in over ten years.

Alongside new material to be premiered at the shows, the duo will no doubt draw for favourites like Ill Culinary Behavior, Vicious Battle Raps and Ugly Brothers – the tour begins in Manchester on Thursday, before shows in Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and many more. Ahead of then, Format rewinds all the way back to the mid noughties to select his five favourite songs from 2005.


Edan – Beauty
It’s hard for me to choose just one track from Edan’s masterpiece Beauty And The Beat.. Edan somehow somehow manages to bridge a gap between hip hop and ’60s psych/rock. Each track flows into the next and everything is extremely well thought out and perfectly crafted…there are no fillers here. I’ve highlighted Beauty because having since discovered the 3 key records he sampled to make this track, I have even more appreciation for it. Oh, and did I mention that the rhymes are incredible too? Edan lyrics paint psychedelic imagery to perfectly compliment the incredible music. In my personal opinion, I don’t think another hip-hop album has even come close to this one from 2005.


Breakestra – Family Rap (feat. Chali 2na, Double K & Soup)
Breakestra were such an incredible and innovative live band because of the way they put together and played medleys of classic funk/soul songs. It sounded as if a hip-hop DJ was cutting together all the best breaks you know and love… except this was a band recreating everything live in front of your eyes & ears! After 2 successful ‘live mix’ albums in that style, and the subsequent world tours that followed, Breakestra came back with a third album of their own original material. Instead of recreating samples made famous by rap songs, here they wrote and played their own old school hip-hop backing track and invited the perfect MCs to rhyme over it. You couldn’t go to a party in 2005 without hearing Family Rap, it was one of those songs that everyone loved.. and of course it featured Chali 2na so that pretty much sealed the deal.


Little Barrie – Greener Pastures
Little Barrie were singed to the same record label as me (PIAS) in 2003 or 4. When their debut album We Are Little Barrie was finally released in 2005 it was perfect timing for them to join me, Abdominal & D-Sisive on our UK tour. I had fallen in love with We Are Little Barrie way before it was released but I always think of that tour together in 2005 when I hear it. It’s fair to say I was listening to very little ‘current’ hip-hop at that point in my life and Little Barrie weren’t exactly a ‘current’ rock n roll band either. They sounded more like the soul, funk, rock and blues records I was buying and listening to for things to sample, except these guys were a new band from Nottingham! Greener Pastures isn’t one of Little Barries’ funkiest songs but it was always my favourite for some reason. I have to admit that during that tour I often felt frustrated just going on stage and playing records after seeing such talented musicians expressing themselves in a way I’d never be able to do as a DJ.


Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones – Soothing Music For Stray Cats
Following on from my last story, during that tour of 2005 we would all take turns choosing CDs to play on the tour bus. Barrie kept playing an album that I couldn’t quite pigeonhole, but I found was growing on me more & more with each listen. He said it was the new album by his friend Edgar from Liverpool, and that’s how I was introduced to Soothing Music For Stray Cats. I’ve chosen the title track as that’s the one song from the album that I can listen to anytime and instantly feel better about life. The album is so diverse and unique, I can’t really compare it to anything else. It just makes me want to create a whole animated film with different characters inspired by all the different songs, very much like Fritz The Cat… except I can’t actually draw. But that’s the power of Edgar Jones’ music!


Nostalgia 77 – Freedom
I always used to bump into Ben (Nostalgia 77) whilst digging for similar records at the Brighton record fair in the early 2000s. We hung out and loosely became friends after that, but then I didn’t see him for a while. Fast forward to 2005 and I was in Australia and we’d been invited to a rooftop BBQ in Sydney by someone from my record label. We were politely chatting and I’d half noticed the music playing quietly in the background…but then it grabbed my full attention. I was initially pissed off because what had grabbed me was a lovely drum break that I’d only just recently bought and was planning to sample myself. Someone had beaten me to it…and their track sounded GREAT! I asked what the record was and had a little smile to myself when I was told it was Nostalgia 77’s new album The Garden. So my old beat digging nemesis from the local record fair in Brighton had just one-upped me all the way in Australia.

The whole album is beautiful and at times cleverly combines dusty old samples and live jazz musicians. It really inspired me to hear how a hip-hop producer and beat digger like myself could make the transition into making jazz records. I’ve bought all of Nostalgia 77’s subsequent albums (and even collaborated with him and his quintet in 2012) but The Garden is still my favourite album. It’s a toss up between Changes and Freedom for my personal favourite song but when listening back to it just now I remembered that night in Sydney as soon as I heard the drums at the beginning of Freedom.

DJ Format & Abdominal begin their three week Reunion tour on Thursday in Manchester. Full info here.

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