Hip-hop used to be a laugh, back in the day. Block party DJs would cut up Micky Mouse records with drum breaks in and goof right off on the mic, getting all ‘dibby dibby’. But, by the early 2000s, it was like, ‘Why so serious?’ 50 Cent was all up in ‘da club’, and your grill, showing off his bullet holes and stomping about like everyone on earth owed him a fiver. Hip-hoppers needed a chuckle. It was time for someone to stand up, be counted, and dick about once more.
Enter DJ Yoda, the clown prince of the ones and twos. The Muppet Show on turntables. The one man who would go on this mission to bug on out, and lob a banana peel on the dancefloor.
For his debut album he’d meld comedy and rap, with the aim of cracking you up and moving your butt. He’d take a slice of the silliness found in his DJ sets, add a cut and a paste of the madness of his mixtapes, and assemble a crack list of gag-slinging MCs to ride the results. These would be his ‘Amazing Adventures…’ [a nod to Grandmaster Flash, if ever there was one], and they were good.
“I was really putting comedy first with that album,” says Yoda. “I really wanted it to be ‘funny’ above all else, so I sat down and made a list of people who would ‘get it’ and they became all the vocalists.
“Musically, it’s pretty mental when you think about it, too – electro swing, big beat, blues, hip-hop, trap, kid’s records...Then there’s the skits…”
These – of which there are many – pepper the album, and make sandwich filling out of the ‘proper’ tracks. So for every full-length jam featuring the Jungle brothers or Biz Markie you get a Bobby Dazzler of a shout out from TV’s David Dickinson, or a quick sketch poking fun at gangsta rap. It certainly makes for a fruity journey.
“It’s all pretty random,” says Yoda. “But hip-hop was getting too po-faced. I just wanted to mix it all up and bring the humour back.”
“God - there are a lot of tracks on this album! We’ll have to zip through them to get them all in. Right, the intro. I’m big on intros.
“This is just a massive collection of samples of people saying, ‘Hello’ over a prog rock/proto-trap beat. That sound was starting to creep in and I was feeling some of it.”
He’s A Nutbag
“This is an extension of the intro. It’s a skit that’s done with samples and turntables, pretty much in the same way I did all my How To Cut & Paste mixes.”
“This is the first song, proper. It was probably the biggest single off the album. It’s a weird anomaly, that one, because it came out sounding pretty much like ‘big beat’ [laughs]. That sound would have been well and truly over by about ten years at that point.
“It’s one of those genres that, for some reason, people find a dirty word. Like ‘trip hop’. But I really don’t have issues with those categories. Not only that, I’m proud to like a lot of music like that.
“So, I had that genre in the back of my head, then I added a big ’80s pop sample [Level 42]. I liked that he was talking about ‘wheels’, like ‘wheels of steel’. Taking stuff out of context was my whole aesthetic for about 15 years.”
“It says, ‘I’m entirely too busy to sit around talking about buffalos’. I don’t know what film that’s from, but I heard it and had to have it. Another really silly skit.”
“This features Biz Markie, and it’s a combination of two of my biggest passions – breakfast and hip-hop.
“Biz Markie was my favourite rapper, growing up, because he had a sense of humour and made songs about body odour and picking his nose. The common ground, musically, was we both loved children’s records. A lot of Sesame Street records were exchanged as we made this.”
“The other cool thing about that track is a lot of the sounds are made out of breakfast sounds. So there are cereal crunches and spoons clanging and milk pouring. We recorded it all!”
“This was the first time I’d worked with the Jungle Brothers. They are on my new album, as well. Their Done By The Forces of Nature album was one of the first hip-hop records I ever had. I subconsciously always wanted to work with them because they were my Ground Zero for hip-hop.
“Musically, it was like the kind of tracks I would play out at the time. I was making these beats in the style of the hip-hop I was enjoying. DJ Premier [from Gang Starr] is inbuilt into anyone’s DNA who likes hip-hop, so he was an influence. And then I was experimenting with trap sounds, or Neptunes-style sounds. It was just reflective of what was around at the time.”
Cuban Brothers FM
“I played a lot with the Cuban Brothers back then. We were in China at one point, then New Orleans – we just ended up together in weird parts of the world.
“This is just a skit. He can sing. He can rap. He can do anything, but I really liked his skills as a host, so thought that would be the coolest thing to have him do.
“I mainly just found a beat and said, ‘Just talk some shit!’ ”
Let’s Get Old
“Princess Superstar is on here. Again – [the track features] just people I liked at the time and was playing their records. I have always liked female rappers.
“She’s talking about getting old, and growing up. I wanted to do something like that. Inspired by old music. I think I even sampled one of my granddad’s old records on here."
“I believe this is Bath-based DJ BobaFatt, doing an impression of 50 Cent. He would do random impressions, like a Scottish Busta Rhymes, or a kind of Mancunian Chuck D. Funny.”
Holdin’ Down The Block
“I listened to the first two seconds of that just before you guys called and it made me laugh straightaway.
“It’s Andy Cooper from LA rap group Ugly Duckling doing a parody of gangsta rap. He came up with all this fake gangsta rap slang.
“The track starts with him going, ‘Yeah! Straight blurkin’...’ It was a pisstake. Probably why I put that 50 Cent thing before it.
“There is a whole chunk of the world that enjoy hip-hop and were brought up on gangsta rap but just can’t relate to it in any way. Even Andy was brought up in LA and was surrounded by NWA… you just have to make sense of it any way you can.”
“Another Biz track. We both love kid’s records, and the highlight of that world are the Halloween ones, like the Fat Albert LP.
“This was a whole hip-hop song inspired by that one record. It was sampled by loads of rappers and there are breaks in it. We made a hip-hop Halloween special.”
“David Dickinson shout out track. Enough said.”
“I wanted some British rappers on this album and Sway really impressed me. He was very lyrical, and funny. He’s one of those people that are massively underrated, even now.
“This song is about people who talk too much. With a half/double time trap thing going on. Instead of just looping beats, I’d re-jig drums to work around the lyrics. If you listen to the patterns on here and Salaam they are doing all kind of crazy things, drumming along to the words, rather than the straight beat. It suited the more lyrical rappers on here.”
“This track samples a guy called Tiny Tim. He was such an interesting character. If you ever get a chance to read up on him or hear his music, you’ll see why.
“He’s such a curiosity. He used to sing in a strange falsetto. I liked the idea of doing a wonky turntablist thing with his stuff.”
“This is a drop [shout out] from Mark Hamill [aka Luke Skywalker]. I don’t remember how that came my way.
“There was a whole era back then of hip-hop DJs getting crazy shout outs. Me and [Dizzee Rascal’s DJ] MK used to battle each other. He had a good one from Ken Livingstone.”
“Bristol rappers, Aspects, on here. I was good pals with those guys. I had a strong connection to Bristol, too.
“We hung out and thought doing a track about dental hygiene would be funny. The beat is all made up of the sound of brushing teeth and my electric toothbrush is in the chorus!”
The Zipper Scratch
“When I wasn’t around turntables I would make scratchy noises with the zip on my hoodie. This is me seeing how funky I can get with the zip.”
Fresh Fly Fellas
“This track features Apathy, Celph Titled and Kwest … some of the best ‘punchline rappers’ out there.
“It’s the most ‘straight’ hip-hop song on here, and representative of the independent hip-hop I was into and buying at the time.”
“This came out of something I would do at live shows. A lot of that stuff did. I battled a banjo record, lick for lick. I ended up doing that as a cover version for the album, and hired a banjo player. I can’t remember how I found him. My memory is shocking!”
“MC Paul Barman on this. He raps the way that I DJ. Which is: he puts too much thought into it. Most of what he’s doing is going over people’s heads.
“I do a lot of stuff in my A/V shows that I know no one will get. He’s the king of overthinking. He has whole verses he rhymes in the pattern of Morse Code.
“I wanted to include one thing on the album that alludes to some drum & bass, as I enjoy that. This track drifted off into that Photek territory.”
“This skit is all about putting that time in if you want to call yourself a DJ. You gotta practise.”
“After hip-hop, blues is my favourite music to listen to, so I went down that route here. It features Mr David Viner, who represented that. We recorded his vocals and pressed them to vinyl to scratch them over the song.”
“The rapper Akinyele here. He makes some pretty weird hip-hop. This is him on a sombre, reflective tone, though. It was time for a mood change at the end of the album.”