It cannot be overstated how much influence and just overall pleasure we’ve gotten from O-Dub’s site, the venerable Soul-Sides. From the blog’s consistency to its superb song picks, it’s nothing short of, I think, one of the best blogs ever published. So we were certainly geeked when selected tracks from the site were pressed onto vinyl– Soul Sides Vol.1 and Vol.2, respectively.
Through the years, O-Dub has dropped by Nerdtorious and I’ve had the honor of dropping by Soul-Sides. This year, however, marks Soul-Sides’ 10th anniversary! To celebrate (and as a goodwill token) Volume 3 was released for download. Though it’s a bummer we won’t see Vol.3 on wax, these songs, in short, connote everything that anchors Soul-Sides– both are quality driven. And, it’s free. Thnx O-Dub, here’s to another 10 years. – DM
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Blackilicious, Chief Xcel, Gift Of Gab, One More Robot
I was lucky to pen the coverstory for the last issue of One More Robot, the premiere art & music magazine out of Dublin, Ireland. For the latest one, themed the “The Crime Issue”, I interviewed Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel about one of the most colorful yet anti-crime records ever, their debut, Melodica.
It firstly reminds me of being young with a backpack full of distrust for all things radio. But it was also the pair’s first outing and still stands out to me as far as Bay Area rap goes. Pick up the latest issue of OMR and relive hearing “Swan Lake” for the first time all over again. Below is an excerpt of the transcript.- DM
Let’s start off with basics. How old were you guys when this was recorded and about how long did it take to make?
Gift of Gab: We were in our early twenties, I’d say 22 or so.
Chief Xcel: Off and on, it took about a year finish. It was actually released as a cassette tape first [laughs]. We probably haven’t heard it since the mid-nineties.
But you guys had already recorded together prior, right?
Xcel: Yeah, we had teamed up about 5 years before we actually sat down and made Melodica.
How advanced was your studio at this point? What equipment was this primarily made on?
Gab: We were still in our dorm rooms then [laughs]. Everything was kind of makeshift. And although we all had been making music for a few years then, we were just in our learning phase.
Xcel: Basically, we used a MPC 60 and a Tascam 4-track. Not much really [laughs].
Did you two have certain concepts in place before making it? Or was the concept simply good rhymes and good beats?
Gab: It was our first project together and we had been together since high school. We were hip-hop heads and just wanted to make some sort of contribution that would be respected by our peers.
I understand Melodica was recorded mostly at Dan The Automator’s place? Did he have any influence on the project in any way?
Gab: That was at a time when our crew was young and just formed. So even though he didn’t work on the EP directly, just being around Dan definitely had an influence. I think it’s important to always surround yourself with creative people whom you respect.
Doris & Kelley’s “You Don’t Have To Worry” was my favorite “new” song of 2013. Granted, it was released in 1967 to little or no acclaim (of course) but it flipped my wig this year when at a DJ gig with DJ Ferrari aka Forty Fivan, a local Bay Area DJ/Producer. He played it, I ran to the speaker.
As Ferrari said, “This ain’t hard to come by, but it ain’t cheap.” By far the most moving and impactful song I’ve been lucky enough to hear in 2013. Vocals are killer right out the gate and the arrangement doesn’t drag– please hit us up with any info on Doris or Kelley if you got it. For now, enjoy the slow, sultry burner. Glad to finally have this in my modest crates and glad to add the “audio” aspect back to the site, which, after all, is an “audioblog” first and foremost. More audio to come!
It had been years since the last time I spoke with Q-Bert but the time was apt given his TWO releases this year. Titles like “Yoda”, “Jimmy Hendrix”, or “Einstein of Turntablism” would be outrageous if it were anyone but the Bay’s own DJ Q-Bert. Peep his new projects and our recent discussion HERE via MIXCRATE.
“The former soloist whose flow was sick,
The token sober kid stressed so the role was switched.
Now Four Lokos down the hole and a loaded spliff,
Look who’s as useless as a broken wrist when trying to open shit”- Earl
I spoke with Earl Sweatshirt recently who was open, insightful, and a bit deflective. It’s understandable when you’re 19 and the world is picking your brain. Dude dropped our favorite album of 2013 (Doris) which is dense enough to keep unpacking through the next year. He’s young and formidable, and it doesn’t hurt that his idol is DOOM. Earl’s off to an epic start and I’m glad to have caught him before the glitz does. Peep the feature article in the current Wax Poetics.
A couple new tracks out of San Jose’s Sticky Lab, courtesy of Motion Man, Da Hermit, 2Mex, and D-Styles. Production by D-Styles is particularly beastly while Da Hermit also lends mixing credits.
“Funk (Ft. 2Mex)” – Produced by Da Hermit
“Out Of Control” – Produced by D-Styles
Filed under: Guest Spots | Tags: DJ Prestige, Fleamarket Funk, Soul Tornadoes, TNT Band
(One of our favorite sites to nerd out on is Flea Market Funk, ran by our dude Jamison Harvey, a collector who also goes by DJ Prestige. Stop by FMF for merch, cool features, funk-bombs, and posts like the one below. Glad to kick-off 2014 with this one. More stuff like this in the coming year. Without further ado, DJ Prestige. -DM )
Here’s a record that I scored at my go to “Spot” in New Jersey. I used to scour this place about three days a week. It took me many years to finally get in with the local, old-time vinyl dealer. He would piece meal me records every week. I had to buy stuff from “The Old Man” aka “Samurai Mike” even if he sold me the same record previously to keep him bringing more from his stash. Unfortunately we lost him a few years ago and his massive collection got stolen from his family by swindlers. This particular day I had bought my stash from Mike but saw another dealer, The Meatball, who was notorious for trying to make a quick buck. As I dug and found this record, he immediately told me it wasn’t for sale. Bullshit I said. I’ll give you $20. Now I don’t pay more than a few bucks for records but this Midwest burner was not slipping through my fingers. He agreed at $20 but said he wanted to do research. Whatever man, and the next week I saw him he tells me it’s not for sale. I don’t want to say I bullied him into selling it to me but I questioned his character as a record dealer, and he finally had to sell it because he knew I’d see him every week and give him shit until I finally got it off of him. I read about this record from an old Big Daddy article and knew it had to be in my 45 box.
Straight out of Rubbertown, Akron, OH, the Soul Tornados Heller Twins (not really twins) were destined to be entertainers. Their mother, who at any time had performers like Jimmy Smith or Brother Jack McDuff sleeping and eating her home cooked meals when they were performing at the local Hi Hat Club, might have given those boys the inspiration to play the B-3 and drum kit she bought them a little longer with those kinds of house guests around. In other words, these boys learned from the pros. They formed the Soul Tornadoes and soon were signed by Ernest Burt to Burt Records. Burt was responsible for labels like Magic City, Mello, and Sock-It among others. The Tornadoes dealt with a lot of adversity including a bad contract with Burt that locked them in, preventing a move to Motown,, a diss by James Brown on this very record as a rip off of “Cold Sweat”, and various other tragedies that prevented them from making it big. Some members found their way to LA where they were in the band Lakeside, but all in all this two-sided 7″ on Burt was their shining moment.
This record absolutely moves me because I believe they weren’t trying to rip off JB per se, I’d like to think they were paying homage to the Godfather in their own Midwest way. It’s an all around Funk bomb and a record I dare anyone to sit still to. You just can’t. This was $20 well spent, as this kind of Funk never would turn up in any of my digging spots ever again.
I have never been a Latin expert so when I was digging through a 50 cent box with some other friends and someone said “This looks right up your alley”, it wasn’t long before I fired up the Fisher Price 825 and listened to this Latin Soul record through some headphones. Immediately this mellow side with Tito Ramos on vocals called to me. No sooner did I get into this record did I hear a shout of “Drum call” before this giant drum break which then went right back into the Latin flavored Soul pill I just ingested. 50 cents for this? I wish there were 10 of them. Now this particular digger had totally passed on records like the Funk Factory LP , Dave and Ansel Collins “Double Barrel” and a few other choice 45s in my collection, so I’ll tip my hat to Long Beard Neil for passing on those sides. This side quickly became one of my favorite 45s ever.
The Cotique label was short-lived (1968-1970), but initially was attempting to capture the “new Boogaloo sound” (already available since the 50′s known as guajira) coming out of New York City. Clearly trying to lure in the young Latin audience with liberal lyrics about illegal drugs and LSD to a Boogaloo rhythm, it would be bad business practices and gradual move to Disco that eventually crippled the label. However, this is just one of the gems released on this NYC label, and it found its way to a pile of 45s in some dirt farm in Central Jersey. I will take the mint copy with pleasure. I’d like to think that this side is equal parts Archie Bell & the Drells “Tighten Up” and a James Brown dance cut rolled into one all done in the TNT Band’s unique Latin style. Although both vocalists, Ramos and Tony Rojas were accomplished front me in their own right, it would be Ramos taking center stage on this record. 3 records and a few hits later, to me, “The Meditation” is of their all time best. Who would have thought that a mellow Latin Soul 7″ could also be so funky?