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Speaker of the House: Binky Griptite Interview
03/22/2010, 12:37 AM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Interviews | Tags: , , ,

(Editor’s note: The voice of the Dap-Kings, Binky Griptite, graciously gave us the scoop on I Learned The Hard Way, the fourth studio album by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. For this this interview, we got miss Sharon herself to introduce Binky, which is somewhat of a role reversal, as he explains his duty as a King of Dap. Thanks Sharon. Big ups Binky! –DM)

Intro by Sharon Jones

I first met Binky at a session for Lee Fields, it was on 42nd Street in Manhattan. He still had on big dreads he’d wear under a beanie that looked liked a turban. I think he was still playing with Antibalas at the time. I remember thinking how so laid back he was. The Dap Kings hadn’t really formed yet, and Binky would just show up and do his thing. At the time, I was actually real afraid he’d leave our band and just stick with Antibalas full-time!

For the new one, he’s been working so hard. Some nights he’d come to the studio late and just lay down his parts; other times he’s playing the guitar half asleep with his eyes closed. He’s a stubborn perfectionist, really. He had me re-record a song over and over again because he said it ‘wasn’t soulful’ enough. It ended up taking four days! And I don’t take four days to record anything.

Really, I love what Binky does with the Dap Kings and his own Mellomatic stuff is great too. As an announcer, his voice gets people hyped. He’s like Bobby Bland. He’s a master. I really notice when he’s not at one of our performances. He’s that good.

You’re essentially the master of ceremonies at all the shows. Where do you draw your influences from?

BG: Well of course there’s Danny Ray, James Brown’s longtime emcee, as well as some gospel preacher. I come from a family of preachers so it’s not that much of a stretch. There’s also a real strong circus ringmaster influence there too. You know why people call the Ringling Bros. Circus the “Greatest Show on Earth”? Because the emcee told them to, that’s why.

My job is to prepare the audience for what they are about to see and hear, and to let them know what’s expected of them. We are not a ‘sit down and pay attention’ show, we’re a ‘get up and dance’ show. You’d be amazed at how many audiences still need to be told that they are a part of the show and that it is not meant to be a passive experience. Continue reading



Femme Fatales
03/16/2010, 8:14 AM
Filed under: Tunes | Tags: , , ,

I’m not too deep on Jamaican soul or reggae in general, but I’ve always loved things I’ve heard from say, Phyllis Dillon (pictured above), The Dreamletts, or compilations like this one. Below are random Jamaican girl-group joints I scored from my girlfriend, mixtapes, 45s, rare comps, and LPs. All of which are rather short, sweet, and uncomplicated.

The First Generation’s “Give Him Up”, a rare Jamaican soul track with, even rarer, a change-up in the arrangement! This song gets better and better as it moves along.

One of my favorite girl-groups in any genre, The Gaylettes. Here’s a b-side called “Goodbye”.

Susan Cadogan’s “Hurt So Good”. The her vocals really propel the simple arrangement.

Marcia Griffiths’ cover of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” won’t let you down. Note the crashing cymbals and unexpected hi-hats.

Phyllis Dillon has so many great random songs. “Tell Me You Love Me All The Time” is another one.

The always enjoyable Nora Dean, “Mojo Girl”. Supposedly she’s 15-years-old on this one.



Beat Merchant: Jake One Interview
03/16/2010, 5:10 AM
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , ,

Originally Published on URB

Kids with new MPCs and “Listen To Dilla” shirts only dream of the career Jake One’s having. Out of Seattle’s late ‘90s rap scene, he’s worked with all types and degrees of MCs—essentially, most anyone who’s caught wind of his beats. Big names, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes; to indie cats, Casual, Gift of Gab, and Slug; to legends like De La and Dre.

“It’s weird because at a certain point you actually build relationships and become friends with these people,” he says, adding: “I’ve been making beats for complete superstars and complete non-superstars. I’m across the board as usual. ”

He just made tracks for Snoop, which he’s hoping will see the light of day, as is a cut on De La’s upcoming album. And DOOM is currently still “sitting on some beats”. Same with M.O.P., Bun B, Raekwon, the list is impressive as it is long. Meanwhile, he’s pushing his latest effort, another project on Rhymesayers.

Along with the clever packaging, The Stimulus Package, shows Jake piecing together soulful, versatile joints for another touted MC—Ex-Roc-A-Fella turned Cash Money signee, Freeway. Here, Jake explains the differences between working with indie artists and big names, and what’s next for someone who’s already worked with his heroes. Jake’s beats continue to attract MCs of all regions, genres and varying rap tangents, and the callbacks haven’t halted. With The Stimulus Package just out, here’s a very broad, 3 part look at Jake’s career, one that any beatmaker would kill for right now.

JAKE ONE, DAY ONE…

What was your first piece of equipment?
Well, my first sampler was some sort of Rolland. I was 16 working at Taco Time for a couple months and saved up for it. I looked in the ads and bought the only sampler I could afford. I didn’t know how to use it; I just wanted one so bad.

What about soul records struck you as such good sample fodder through the years?
I think it’s just being into hip-hop and just being used to those sounds. When I was younger, I actually depended on samples quite a bit because I wasn’t proficient in playing things like synths—so I had to go the sample route. Its one of these things where you go through phases. When I first started I was sampling Jazz almost exclusively and I’ve just transitioned to other things as I’ve aged and learned more. Continue reading



Guest Post con Alma!

(Editor’s note: Adam D. who runs Musica del Alma, an audio blog that explores rare Latin funk, soul, and rock, kindly contributed this quick guest post. He’s been a constant source for Latin grooves and we’re glad to have him finally on board. Gracias por el calor!)

Leonello y sus Palos Nuevos

“Soul Makossa”

“Paso Al Gigolo”

From Calenturas De LP (Caliente, Colombia, 1973)

Mega props go to David Ma and the wonderful thing that is NERDTORIOUS! Thought I’d discuss an excellent LP from Colombia that features two funk tracks for my guest post.

Don’t know much about Leonello except that he was a Colombian guitarist who played cumbia and porro. On his Calenturas De LP, he branches out, covering the Manu Dibango classic “Soul Makossa” in a hot Afro Latin way. Also on the album, a strange funk track called “Paso Al Gigolo” has fat horns and a blazing keyboard. This may be the one and only Colombian funk track with a slide guitar (a haunting one at that!). It almost sounds like one of those musical saws.



’93 Til Now: Tajai Outtakes
03/05/2010, 5:56 PM
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , ,

I was listening to old Hiero tapes and realized I was hearing dudes half my age rap. It was “Step To My Girl” by Souls of Mischief whom, says Tajai, were only “15-years-old when we first recorded those songs.” He continues, explaining “Cabfare”: “I didn’t even have a driver’s license let alone a cabbie license! I just laugh at those songs when I hear them but they have a special place because they’ve touched so many people and have the ability to bring me back to that era.”

“Cab Fare”

“Step To My Girl”

I just spoke with Tajai for an upcoming short piece on their new album, Montezuma’s Revenge, produced by Prince Paul. Here are some quick outtakes from that interview—for Hiero fans, and cats that remember seeing “93 Til” on CMC.

When was the first time you heard Prince Paul? How did he get on board with the new album?
Opio and Domino were on a Handsome Boy Modeling school tour with him and he mentioned doing some music with us. What started out as a dream became reality when he came out to record with us in 2006, damn near 20 years after we first were exposed to his wizardry. His projects have been some of the most influential in my progress as an artist and a person so it was a no-brainer to work with him. Continue reading