As a kid growing up with my parents’ 10 piece record collection (Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Simply Red and Ken Dodd) getting my hands on Mo’Wax’s HEADZ compilation opened my eyes to the burgeoning 90s instrumental hip hop scene (aka trip hop). DJ Krush, DJ Shadow, Nightmares On Wax, and U.N.K.L.E. – they were all blowing my mind for the first time. This stuff wasn’t on the only radio station we could tune to playing modern music, and it definitely wasn’t being played in clubs where I grew up (if only I could have got down to Turnmills a few more times!)

I’m a total obsessive of Ninja Tune music, and Mo’Wax was like the brother / competitor label at the time also putting out this mysterious sounding, cinematic and moody as shit instrumental hip hop. If you’ve heard of them, you probably know this compilation. They put out many decent compilations, but for my money, often included a bit too much indie in with the trip hop. HEADZ on the other hand had a strict focus, and in my opinion, still sounds great today as a result.

I haven’t messed with the tracklisting too much, there’s a bonus track by DJ Vadim as his USSR albums would have been a perfect fit for this compilation, and I tracked down the interludes made by Scanner that were commissioned to go on HEADZ, but in the end weren’t used – I’ve just added a couple of them towards the end (with thanks to the Unkle77 gang for links and knowledge).

As always, would love to hear what you think!

1. Headz Still Ain’t ReadyDJ Vadim
2. Why Hip Hop Sucks in ’96 (alternate take)DJ Shadow
3. Freedom Now (Meditation)Patterson
4. Contemplating JazzAttica Blues
5. Never Can Say GoodbyeJames Brown
6. In FluxDJ Shadow
7. Symmetrical Jazz (Flapper Till 5am mix)Awunsound
8. StarsNightmares on Wax
9. The Time Has ComeU.N.K.L.E. Vs The Major Force Orchestra
10. Destroy All MonstersSkull
11. Miles Out Of Time (Astrocentric Mix ‘n’ Beats)M.F. Outa’National
12. LowrideAutechre
13. The InsideR.P.M.
14. 2000R.P.M.
15. Ravers Suck Our SoundLa Funk Mob
16. Wildstyle (The Krush Handshake)Olde Scottish
17. Gun Fight At The O.K. CorrallHowie B, inc. Head West
18. Slipper SuitePalmskin Productions
19. …Don’t Fake ItDeflon Sallatir
20. Lost And Found (S.F.L.)DJ Shadow
21. Snort (Headz original interlude)Scanner
22. They Came In PeaceTranquility Bass
23. Flame (Headz original interlude)Scanner