Used to be, the Ninja Tune label’s website was a fount of free music, a free-flowing stream of MP3 uploads. The label’s penchant for freebies seemed appropriate, given how sample-based is much of its music (from founder Coldcut to Funki Porcini to the later explorations into hip-hop). These days, the “free” section on the site’s downloads page is stagnant, but the Ninja podcast series — titled Solid Steel — continues apace, and it’s as always packed with tasty mixes, interview segments, and new Ninja goods.
Case in point, the most recent entry (MP3), which features a sprawling interview (dating from 2002) with remix figures Steinski and Double Dee, backed by a massive haul of classic, beat-driven, copyleft-crazed goods, from Dee’s own use of Led Zeppelin’s “The Crunge,” to Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” set in context alongside Grandmaster Flash (whose “Adventures on the Wheels of Steel,” also heard here, gave the Ninja series its name).
The duo recount numerous stories from life before mash-ups dance parties and lawyer-cleared sampling, back when audio appropriation, much like graffiti, was an outsider art just beginning to make its mark on pop culture. Full track list at ninjatune.net.