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Baker's Dozen

Bear Necessities: Gold Panda's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , June 1st, 2016 08:29

Following the release of his third album, Good Luck And Do Your Best, Derwin talks to John Freeman about the 13 albums, from Michael Jackson to the Akira soundtrack, that helped shape his Gold Panda project


Mobb Deep – Hell On Earth
By this point [1996], I was deeply into hip-hop. This album has a shit cover – it is just some red fire with "Hell On Earth" written on it in massive letters. Nevertheless, I think that's what got me – it is one of the darkest hip-hop albums. It was released during the big East Coast-West Coast war thing. Mobb Deep were dissing Tupac. There is a track called 'Drop A Gem On 'Em', which is about Tupac but without mentioning any names. Tupac had just done a track where he had dissed Mobb Deep and some other people, and Mobb Deep sang, "You yell my name, that's only giving me props" and I thought it was cool that they weren't direct with their diss.

At the time, hip-hop was having a moment where there would have to be singing in the chorus and it made me so annoyed. I wanted my hip-hop to be rebellious or silly like De La Soul. I didn't want a middle ground, which had a nice chorus and then hardcore verses. I wanted to be angry. The Beatnuts and Mobb Deep and a couple of others including Wu-Tang fulfilled my need to walk around with my headphones being angry.

Again, this album has some storytelling a bit like on 3 Feet High And Rising. Obviously, they are at the opposite end of the spectrum because they are gangsters and they are selling drugs and involved in shootings and stuff. There is a track on which he goes to see a girl who he hasn't seen for years, she sets him up, and these guys come in and beat the shit out of him. I love that song and it contains a sound that seems to be like a docked ship rocking. You can hear the creaking of the ship and the sample might have been from something like The Usual Suspects. It just made me realise that you could put sounds in your music that don't have any reason to be there, other than that you like them. There is no relevance for that sound in that song as far as I can tell, but that idea inspired me to do the same in my music. Everything about that album is great – it is really angry and it ticks all the right boxes for a hip-hop album.