One More With Mayer


Now that everything’s come full circle, I called up Mayer Hawthorne recently for URB. This interview, I think, is a proper bookend to that first piece we did. Link below:


*Link is down since URB’s site got a makeover. Will it be up again? Maybe so, maybe no…

We were one of the first (if not the first) to interview Mayer Hawthorne when his catchy single debuted last November. People know him now—especially since his full-length, A Strange Arrangement, has gotten nods from Alicia Keys, Justin Timberlake, ?uestlove, and other celebrities. It was also a top seller at itunes the week of its release and is currently becoming one of Stones Throw’s most popular albums ever. Yessss. Congrats Haircut!


Bonita Voz De Sophy


This album has been getting lots of play lately. Made in 1973, Yo Soy Mujer is a perfect blend of funk, folk, rock, and disco. It’s very cohesive, due to the vocals and how they tie everything together. It’s no wonder this album made Sophy one of Puerto Rico’s most known singers.

Born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, Sophy moved to New York City in 1960. There, she met and worked with Tito Puente, a towering figure of Latin-jazz and mambo. Sophy sung in Tito’s orchestra, and was so impressive, that he later produced some of her projects. Yo Soy Mujer was her third release in a career that would produce over thirty albums. She had a string of big hits in South America in the ’80s, but it’s her early ’70s work that really shines. The music is fantastic, so check it out. This would be a good starting point if you’re unfamiliar with Sophy and her records.

Below are two great cuts off Yo Soy Mujer, both of which were also famously sampled by RJD2.

“Un Amor Original”

“Locuras Tengo De Ti”

Koushik’s Ghost


I’m a couple days late, but Stones Throw just posted an exclusive version of Koushik’s Out My Window for free download. The vocals on this are mixed way below the beats, making it sound extra ghostly than the original.

For the unfamiliar: Koushik sounds like Four-Tet and Air on valium. My problem with him are his vocals, which can sound too New Age, too Enya-esque at times. This version is perfect, since it’s basically the instrumentals with a couple bonus cuts. Download this if you dig laid-back, melodic beats drenched in reverb. It’s solid stuff, so GET IT FOR FREE while you still can!

The free download cycle has ended. You can still purchase the album HERE though.

Stacy Gueraseva on Psychoanalysis


I was sitting in the Soho offices of Interview Magazine on a hot July day in 1996, working on one of the most challenging album reviews of my life, MC Lyte’s Bad As I Wanna Be. Its sheer mediocrity was giving me a bad case of writer’s block. A dose of inspiration was required, so I began rummaging through the piles of unopened jiffy envelopes with various promo CDs that were strewn all over the tiny office of my boss, the Music Editor. I was his intern.

I tore one open and out fell a regular 60-minute TDK cassette tape. Hand-written on one side was: “copyright Wordsound Recordings” and on the other: “Prince Paul, Psychoanalysis.” Continue reading “Stacy Gueraseva on Psychoanalysis”

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In the works:

I recently interviewed Aja West for an upcoming Wax Poetics feature. He’s the mad genius behind Mackrosoft Records. Not only do they have a new project coming out— they have 3! We’ll be posting our conversation and some exclusive tracks from the upcoming trilogy. Expect some of the hardest jazz beats you’ll ever hear from one of the weirdest, most genuine dudes ever.

We got a hold of Prince Paul’s promo, Confessions Of A Beat Junkie, a tape Tommy Boy provided press and media to promote the reissue of Psychoanalysis. It’s a 35-minute “Best of Prince Paul” blend that showcases his famous work, b-sides, and unreleased material. We’ll have it available for download next week! Plus, an introduction by Prince Paul himself!

Speaking of Psychoanalysis, Stacy Gueraseva, NY writer and author of Def Jam Inc. , will be stopping by with her thoughts on the album, what it meant to her, and what it did for hip-hop as the millenium closed. It’s an exclusive she wrote for NERDTORIOUS!

Similar upcoming contributions from DJs, writers, rappers, musicians, music nerds: Cosmo Baker, Prince Po, Brian “B+” Cross, Vivian Host, Amir (of Kon & Amir), Binky Griptite, Dam Funk and many, many more!

We landed an exclusive interview with Pax Nicholas, teenage member of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70. Mr. Nicholas is in his 70s and lives in Berlin. This is a VERY RARE interview! His lost record, Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef, will be out soon on Daptone. He had some amazing stories to tell.

We also have another rare feature in the works: An in-depth interview with Jamaa Fanaka, ’70s cult-filmmaker and pioneering African American movie director. This timeless interview has been in the works for awhile and shouldn’t be missed!

An upcoming NERDTORIOUS mixtape for download, featuring rare records ranging from Psych to Soul, Funk to Garage— and other recordings we think you might dig.

– More contests and giveaways from labels we love!

This is just the stuff we’re telling you about! STAY TUNED FOR WAY MORE!

Darrell, Eddie, Ernie, Ever-Soul


Daptone puts out so many good projects that it’s easy to overlook their equally impressive subsidiary label, Ever-Soul. They specialize in forgotten soul and have another great project out next week—Detroit’s own Darrell Banks, a singer known for his hit “Open The Door” and who was fatally shot when he was 35. Here’s a great blog post about some fans who raised funds and bought a memorial plaque for Mr. Banks after visiting his grave and seeing that it was unmarked. You can read about Ever-Soul’s release, pre-order it, and hear snippets over at Daptone’s storefront.

One of Ever-Soul’s best releases is Eddie & Ernie’s “Bullets Don’t Have Eyes”. It’s a spirited track made in the early 1970s. This would be one of the pair’s last recordings and is one of their best. This came out a while ago, but copies are still available and are highly recommended. Hear it below.

Eddie & Ernie – “Bullets Don’t Have Eyes”

whatnauts and what not


The Whatnauts: “Instigating (Trouble Making Fool”)

The Whatnauts put out some great 45s on Stang Records during the early ’70s. They also joined forces with The Moments for “Girls“, a great cut that was later sampled by Diamond D.

He’s nothing but an instigating, always fakin’, trouble makin’ fool…” is the hook on this 1973 single. The song is a warning to an ex-lover about her new, shady boyfriend. It’s actually a sweet tune despite the negative lyrics about some nefarious dude. This is the only 45 The Whatnauts ever cut on GSF Records. “Instigating” is another smooth Whatnauts joint, full of nice melodies and even nicer harmonies.

catch the blast of a hype verse


I can’t think of a rapper that has aged as well as Ghost has. Raekwon is 39 and Jay is turning 40. And while both dropped big albums recently, their best work is likely behind them. But with Ghost, who is 37, there’s still the possibility that he’ll outdo himself. He’s so natural and is sharper than ever. Like his earlier work, he still raps with vigor, except it’s more focused, more tempered and a lot funnier. Big Doe Rehab has some great songs on it and, I think, is heavily slept on.

I received the sampler for his new project, Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City, a while back. I didn’t realize how near the release date was or else I would’ve posted this sooner. A big part of why Cuban Linx 2 wasn’t a total failure was because of Ghost’s appearances. If you like Starks, peep the sampler for his new one, Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry In Emerald City. It leans more towards Pretty Toney than Fishscale, but I’m still looking forward to it. It comes out in a couple weeks. Hopefully that supposed Ghost/DOOM project, Swift & Changeable, will be next.


(end of) summer songs

sf sundown by mike drummond

Summer’s over and I’m bummed to see it go. No more sunsets at 8pm. No more t-shirt weather. Now comes rain and the terrible holiday season. To bid adeui, here are four tracks I intended on posting in May but never got around to it. The first three are among the sunniest songs ever; the last, not as much, but it’ll remind me of summer when I hear it during the cold, bitter winter.

1) “Let’s Have Some Fun (Pt. 1)” is a foot-stomping funk 45 by the Mod Singers & Mod Lads. It’s a bit novelty, but it’s one of the happiest songs I’ve heard and captures what it feels like when summer first starts. It’s akin to Shirley Ellis’ “The Clapping Song“, but shorter and less literal. I picked up this 45 in Chicago for two bucks.

2) These next two are Latin tracks from my friend John who was recently in South America. The first, “Menino Jesus de Praga”, is by the great Jorge Ben. It’s from his late ’70s phase, off the album A Banda Do Ze Pretinho. It kills during John’s DJ sets and certainly goes great with summer.

3) This second one is “El Rayo de Sol” by Le Mans. It caught my attention at a BBQ in early August. Sweet and totally laid back, this is a summertime joint if ever there was one.

4) This last one is Dusty Springfield’s killer cover of “Spooky”, the 1967 Mike Sharpe (AKA Mike Shapiro) recording which has been covered many times. And though it isn’t particularly rare or anything, it’s a song that aesthetically sounds like a hazy, summer evening.

Large Pro uses payphone


Large Professor (ft. Nas)- “One Plus One” from The LP

Is this the best picture they could find? Who’s on the other end? The awkward (and hilarious) photo is from a piece I did on Large Pro and is currently one of the coverstories for Waxpoetics Japan.

On the real, Large Pro has made some classic material. Plus, he’s a revered figure— Pete Rock and DJ Premier have cited him as being influential in their own development. He also helped Nas’ career early on, recording demos that later became Illmatic. It’s fitting this article is currently out since Large Pro’s lost debut, The LP, was also recently released. Shelved since ’95 or ’96, it finally came out after years of speculation. To read my interview with Large Pro, hear more of The LP and buy it, head over to Wax Po’s storefront.

reasonable clout


I like Jay-Z. I like how he carries himself in interviews. I like Blueprint 3 too (though it ranks lower compared to his back catalogue). Not many mainstream rappers actually rap anymore. No one cares about having different cadences or actually riding rhythms. Cats like Wayne have made it cool to be lazy, to limp over beats as if ferocity is somehow played out. Jay still switches up his flow and remains pretty charismatic, but even he doesn’t utilize (16) bars like he used to.

DJ Ayres just posted a new mix–D.O.J.- The Best Of Jay-Z— on The Rub. I seemingly like Jay’s new stuff more than Ayres does, but I also agree with his overall sentiment. The dudes over at The Rub (DJ Eleven, Cosmo Baker and DJ Ayres) are the homies so please check their site, and prolific mixtapes, if you haven’t already. For now, check Ayres’ killer mix to hear pre-retiremant Shawn Carter, when he was vicious and more wordy.


Jesse Serwer on NYC Badmen

nyc badmen cover


I’ve been asked a few times how I “got into” dancehall. It’s pretty simple: I’m from New York. (Anyone asking me this is usually not from here). Jamaican music has been a familiar soundtrack for nearly as long as I can remember. I think it was around 1990, when I was 11, that it first left an impression. New York’s twin Black radio stations WRKS (“KISS FM”) and WBLS were playing records by Shabba Ranks and Mad Cobra. Chaka Demus & Pliers’ “Murder She Wrote” first came out around then, beginning its steady rise to Bar Mitzvah/White Folk Wedding-level ubiquity.

Truthfully, I didn’t like the stuff at first. Not knowing too many Caribbean folk at the time, the lyrics, particularly from gruff deejays like Shabba, were initially tough to decipher. And the rhythms, made more for the dancefloor than passive consumption, didn’t grab me the way hip-hop beats did then. My gateway drug came in the form of Shabba Ranks’ “The Jam,” a collaboration with the reggae-absorbent KRS-ONE, and Bobby Konders and Mikey Jarrett’s “Mack Daddy.” This was dancehall, but with a hip-hop beat, and I was hooked. I’d heard rappers like KRS toss around patois in their own songs, but the sound of Shabba and Jarrett’s full-throttle toasting over the familiar thrust of a hard-hitting breakbeat grabbed me in a way I can’t quite explain so many years later. Continue reading “Jesse Serwer on NYC Badmen”

Stones Throw Contest Winners!


First off, thanks to everyone who took the time to enter! Second, thanks to Stones Throw for building with us!

The response was much larger than expected! We were stoked to see entries as close as San Jose, California and as far away as Australia and Japan! The East Coast and Canada represented too! Thanks so much! We’re looking forward to doing it again with more of our favorite labels and companies. Stay tuned!

CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS: Kamal, Waylan, Lady K, Benjamin, and KB! Hope you like the freebies!

Here are the answers to the contest: Continue reading “Stones Throw Contest Winners!”

Straight Outta SJ: The Mumlers


The Mumlers- “Coffin Factory”, lead single from Don’t Throw Me Away

The Mumlers‘ second album, Don’t Throw Me Away, comes out tomorrow on Galaxia Records. Like their debut, the musicianship is sharp and the songs really sound sincere. And the arrangements, though quirky at times, always compliment the vocals in an unforced way. The first album had traces of Soul, but the new record has even more. Don’t Throw Me Away contains some of their best work yet.

What’s more, these guys are from San Jose, California of all places. In the coming months, Will Sprott, lead singer/songwriter of the Mumlers will be dropping by NERDTORIOUS with thoughts on his favorite singer; American soul and blues artist, Bobby “Blue” Bland. Until then, please pick up the new record and catch them on tour where they’ll be opening for The Black Heart Procession. They’re definitely going places—check out their music to see why.

Drunken Master: Interview With Kid Koala

kid koala_photo by selector marx

Kid Koala (ft. Dan The Automator)- “Unreleased Live Track”

I spoke with Dan The Automator back in ’05 when he was riding the success of Deltron, The Gorillaz, and Lovage. Kid Koala, who had emerged years earlier as a DJ with fresh, innovative routines, subsequently did the cuts and scratches on all those albums. At the time, Automator said this: “Koala does his own thing. I think other DJs are starting to catch onto his methods now. He has an amazing musical touch. Q-Bert’s technical, but Koala’s musical. He knows how to drop shit in and work the musical keys unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of DJs, and Koala’s acrobatics are amazing. There’s no one I’d rather have touch up my records than Koala. He’s insanely good.”

It’s been 4 years since that interview and Koala still does his thing. I’ve seen him do wildly entertaining sets without using headphones, tossing records behind him until they pile into huge, tipping stacks. His reputation as an oddball follows him, but so does a lot of reverence (Cut Chemist referred to him as his “hero” during The Hard Sell tour). Koala still uses only vinyl; still puts together weird projects that confuse and engross fans. I spoke with him recently, talking about his gear, his “Drunk Trumpet” routine, and seeing what future directions he thinks DJs might take. Koala hits the road later this month on a big tour–The Slew–with a live rhythm section and 6 turntables. Here’s our talk with one of the most creative DJs around, Kid Koala.

What new routines do you think DJs might start doing?
Turntable love ballads. Rocking parties is easy, trying to pull off a turntable serenade is a whole other animal.

You think DJs get better with age or is there a point when they’ve done all they can do?
I think as you get older it gets easier to communicate ideas through your instrument. Your life experiences and personality just sort of naturally come through the more you play. I look up a lot to those jazz musicians down in New Orleans. They seem to really hit their stride when they’re 70 years old. It’s like they’re monks of music. They just breathe into their instruments and the most beautiful sounds and stories come out.

What does your setup look like right now?
For The Slew tour we are using 6 turntables, 2 Rane Empath mixers, Radial Duplex DIs and an old Fender PA100 with two 4 x 8″ speaker columns.

No Serato?
I actually haven’t jumped over to that yet. I’m too lazy to bring a computer to shows. I have more fun with a pile of records. I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.

Continue reading “Drunken Master: Interview With Kid Koala”