Over 2 years in the making, and after tons of orchestration, we’re proud to announce that Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage, a record that arguably changed the landscape of ’90s rap releases that followed, has been given the full reissue treatment. I was asked by Fat Beats to write extensive liner notes for which I am honored and thankful for the killer efforts the entire team did to bring this to fruition. Check it out and pre-order HERE. PROPS!
Our good pal, music journalist Layne Weiss (LA Weekly, Wax Poetics, Mass Appeal) quickly spoke with Oh No and Tristate about their new project. For fans of their fuzzy, disjointed brand of stoner rap, take a look. – DM
3 Dimensional Prescriptions, the new album from beatsmith Oh No and MC TriState explores the concept that music is medicine. But as with most medicine, as with most drugs, not everyone is going to have the same reaction or experience listening to their brand of medication. For some, the duo’s latest may bring about inspiration, creativity, or joy; others may get angry, sad, a little crazy, or all at once. This isn’t a one-size fits all brand of treatment. It is up to the listener to choose your own adventure.
Produced entirely by Oh No, whos comes from the pedigree of Madlib-esque inventions, the album features collaborations from stalwarts Evidence, Westside Gunn, Planet Asia, Lyric Jones, and others. This project comes courtesy of Bay Area stronghold imprint, Hieroglyphics Emporium, and is out now.
What does the title Three Dimensional Prescriptions mean and represent?
TriState: The title is like Oh and I are both kinda on some techy shit. And you know, he does his thing in the world. Everybody knows that. And I get down with the tech shit too. I work with a corporation called Hunt AR. And we do AR (Augmented Reality) And anyway, you know. I just thought it would be a good way to tie in our relation into tech shit. He does VR (Virtual Reality). I do AR. That’s the Three Dimensional side of it.
So the “prescriptions” are each song. I look at each song like a prescription. Like you need to get your fix for your addiction. Listening to one of these songs might help you. Oh No is known as Dr No so that goes into the prescription thing as well. So the doctor prescribes you medication or prescription drugs for your issues. That’s another way you can look at these prescriptions.
Passion of the Weiss (POW) is currently one of my favorite music blogs and is ran by my dude, prolific journalist Jeff Weiss. I was asked to write about one of the year’s best cuts, “Nas Album Done” by DJ Khaled ft. Nas. Read my review below and check the rest of the thoughtfully compiled year end list HERE .
[#31] Forget the song’s 8-minute video featuring Khaled in different brightly colored satin shirts—here’s the real major key: Nas’ agelessly nimble tongue and the track’s underpinning “Fu-Gee-La” sample. Here, Nasir sounds like he just finished a Gandhi marathon, successfully tricking his wisdom with the system that imprisoned his son. He’s on fire, backed by bombastic drums and a voice that’s gracefully aged like an Argentinian malbec; textured, smooth yet robust.
In an era where dexterous bars are seldom celebrated, this has enough energy to keep both the millennial and aging classicist happy. Both self-referential and forward moving, says Nas: “To every baby on the album cover existing/This trend I was setting came to fruition.” Seemingly full circle for the MC who at 16 boasted about kidnapping the president’s wife without a plan.
The minimalist production knocks while Nas himself even proves a bit clairvoyant, touching on our now president-elect’s cheap pursuits while shouting out the marginalized: “Celebrity Apprentice a devil show/Big up to Africa, Mexico.” So when exactly will Nas’ album actually be done? He’s recently had fire moments and for whatever reason seems reinvigorated. Dismissing any new hip-hop that came after you is decidedly very non-hip-hop, but there’s nothing wrong in relishing older cats whom are shockingly spry. The song title itself is at worst inaccurate, and at best premature, but it shows why we still owe the prodigious one our due patience. — DAVID MA
We’ll soon be unveiling a large story on DJ Shadow. It not only commemorates Endtroducing‘s two decade anniversary but is also a pretty sizable feature for the upcoming issue of Wax Poetics. I conducted the interview in his studio which was huge honor and HERE’S a sneak peak at some ill old photos from his personal documenting his origin story and subsequent rise.
I was honored to write an appreciation piece on Sharon which you can read HERE. These last couple weeks have been gut wrenching and just when you think it’s letting up, news came that Sharon had passed. To say we’re heartbroken is an understatement. What a gut punch. She was one of the best live performers I ever saw and seemingly just a tough, kind person.
She was kind enough to write a little foreword for our piece on Binky Griptite, years ago, done just as a favor. Thank you so much Sharon.
I recently connected with legendary composer Galt Macdermot and wrote a short primer on his essential recordings (heads might find the list tepid but this is meant to be broad, quick swath of his jams). In the end, that’s the beauty of Macdermot’s enormously effusive catalogue– there’s so much to celebrate. Take a look / listen to the story, written for Redbull Music Academy (HERE). Thank you so much Galt, huge honor.
I’ve always thought Fear Itself should be rated higher when in it comes to Bay Area rap classics. ‘93 Til… and Del’s solo works are all celebrated but Fear Itself is somehow never mentioned despite charting well on Billboard, getting significant play, and aging particularly well compared to its counterparts. I decided to document the album track-by-track– with Casual and producer Domino– about the making of Fear Itself for one of my favorite sites, the homie Jeff Weiss’ Passion of The Weiss. READ IT HERE.
Not exactly breaking news, but we’ve finally set up an Instagram account! We’re suuuuuper late to the party but we’ll make up for it with a bunch of old man shit we’ve accumulated through the years. Expect lots of music, fandom, ephemera, and exuberance! So far, the response has been terrific. Find us on IG at: NERDTORIOUS_BLOG
Also, after years dillydallying I decided to get some stuff made for loyalists. The first of our 45 adapters series is (obviously) Bowie. Others to follow are Nina Simone and Serge Gainsbourg. Hit us at NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with ‘ADAPTERS’ in the subject and *BOOM* we’ll immeditely ship!
*Also, you can find me on Twitter (@_davidma) and longtime contributor Nate (@natejleblanc). Many thanks!!!
I had the immense honor of speaking again with Chuck D, this time, for The Guardian (which you can read HERE). Conducted right around both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, my main focus was politics in modern America. The published version was shortened and is quite edited, so I’ll be running the full piece on Medium in a few months. Given this heightened, frenzied political climate, Chuck D is the perfect person to speak with. Per usual, he doesn’t disappoint. *fist up
The homie Layne Weiss–an emerging journalist whose bylines include LA Weekly, Mass Appeal and others– was gracious enough to pen this recent piece on jazz pianist/producer/fusionist, Robert Glasper. Read a bit of Ms. Weiss’ coverage on Glasper and his latest release, a Miles Davis remix project, Everything’s Beautiful. – DM
By Layne Weiss
When Robert Glasper was asked to remix Miles Davis’ music, he knew it’d be no easy feat. Other artists have remixed the jazz icon’s music in the past, but for him it was different. “I thought I could do it as long as I did it my way,” Glasper reflects. “I felt it was cool as long as I didn’t pattern it after anybody else.”
Everything’s Beautiful, Glasper’s tribute to Miles Davis, features a diverse and eclectic mix of artists– Phonte, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder and more whom, according to Glasper, all had a genuine love for Davis. “I didn’t wanna just get random artists just because they’re artists and they can sell albums or anything like that,” he explains. “I really wanted to make this a labor of love because he’s royal to the music world, he’s jazz royalty first. And so I really wanted it to be a real honest project.”
Glasper has spent the majority of his career fusing jazz, hip-hop and r&b together in a way that has made jazz relevant and enjoyable to hip-hop fans. “I’ve made jazz sound like it was made today,” he says. “Every other genre has a representative of today. R&B music right now, they’re not caught up on Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, at all. They’re all about Rihanna and Chris Brown. But the jazz world is caught up on John Coltrane and Miles Davis. They’re not caught up on any new people out there right now. They’re not caught up on us, on me.”
“My aim is to be a kingpin with words, kids will jock my personality like King Tim the Third…” – Edan [Beauty and the Beat, 2005 LP]
I recently spoke with Bill “Fatback” Curtis, longtime leader behind one of the most understated funk groups ever, The Fatback Band. Besides being astoundingly prolific, they’re also known for releasing rap’s first commercially recorded song, 1979’s “King Tim III (Personality Jock)”. My piece with Bill recently ran for The Guardian and I was only allotted roughly 1000 or so words. For those who are into Fatback, below is the extended transcript of our my talk with Bill on their ascent and lasting impact. – DM
Bill’s beginning and love of drums:
“I started in high school, probably sometime around the 10th grade, playing professional. I mostly was playing blues, most cats were only playing blues then. I got the gig because I was the only one in town with a set of drums. But I didn’t know how to play the drums then. And my mother wouldn’t let no body borrow the drums. And the drummer the group I wanted to play with didn’t have drums. But I wasn’t letting no one borrow my drum set so they’d take me along and I eventually got good and played around town.”
On growing up around jazz greats:
“Bedford, North Carolina. It was like a mecca where all these bands would come through and I’d see them all. Butter Johnson and his band would come through. Duke Ellington would also come by. I saw Louis Jordan and all those acts. But I would only just watch the drummers.”
The making of rap’s first commercially released recording:
“That came about because I made a track and basically we were doing an album and I didn’t hear a single. I told my partner Jerry Thomas that we needed a hit to help the album. Otherwise, ain’t no one was gonna hear the album. So I said, ‘Jerry, what if we do a rap song?’ Jerry said ‘We ain’t got no one in the band who does rap, you crazy?’”
“I kept telling him I would love to make a rap track as our single and one of our members at the time was like, ‘I have a friend that lives in the projects and he’s a rapper.’ So I told him to bring his friend to the studio tomorrow and we’ll make it happen. I asked him what the rapper’s name was and he said ‘Timothy Washington.’”
On Fatback’s artistic pivots:
“From the time that Perception started, every one of our records was different from the last. We didn’t stay in any type of genre and whatever was going on, I was a part of it. So Disco was all big then, so I decided to just do it. Then as the band grew, my sound got more sophisticated, my sound got more polished. Then we played ballads eventually. I always wanted to include songs on the album where people would not recognize was us. I still do that to this day. I still put out 1 album a year since 2001.”
I never really wrote about Prince (or for that matter, Bowie) when he recently passed. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t already been? And in any case, words seem inadequate in describing their immense work and influence.
Wax Poetics is however re-releasing a special version of their epic Prince issue containing some serious coverage that any Prince– or music– fan could devour. I covered Blood Orange in the issue whose work is a terrific reminder of Prince’s sonic progeny. Honored to be a part of the issue which you can grab HERE (before it’s gone forever!).
Humblebrag: I’m always honored anytime anyone cares about my writing. Read a recent interview aimed at aspiring writers where I discuss my career and music journalism’s rapidly changing landscape. Peep it HERE.
Everyone’s heard “Me and Mrs. Jones” but I admittedly was never hugely into Billy Paul beyond his biggest hit. His work with TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) is also well known and revered but their releases were always a little too long and lavish for my taste. I was nevertheless pleasantly surprised recently to learn that in many ways Billy preceded Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield in terms of putting out politically aggressive, smoothed-out ’70s soul. After spending an afternoon listening to Billy– and though I’m certainly not an expert–I chose my top 5 tracks for The Guardian which you can read/listen to HERE. You were electric in the smoothest way possible. RIP Billy.
I’ve always loved Doris Troy before I even knew her work. As a 12 year old this Pepsi commercial is seared into my memory (probably like all pre-pubescent dudes at the time.) “Just One Look” is so iconic and just a perfectly recorded song in so many areas. I slept on this one recently but it certainly has all the right elements that made her other hit such a fine recording. Can’t get enough of this one.
Very excited and honored to contribute to this large group piece for Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Drummers”. The reaction was great, hearing people debate, praise and talk shit about the list. I wouldn’t have minded a few more funk or African drummers but I get the list’s purpose. Spoiler alert: John Bonham (above) is #1. Take a look at the rest HERE.
Of all the artists I’ve spoken to, perhaps no other was a gracious with their time or whose history runs as deep as Giorgio Moroder’s. I recently spoke with Mr. Moroder at length for Cuepoint which you can read HERE. Thank you sir, HUGE HUGE HUGE honor.
As soon as I heard The Chinoiseries I was hooked. It was very apparent that Onra, a Parisian producer of Vietnamese decent who grew up on ’90s rap, was into beat aesthetics that mirrored my own. His subsequent work was equally as moving and I’m glad that after a few years later, I was able to catch up with him and nerd out on over records. Ahead of Dilla’s bday month, I spoke to Onra for Ego Trip about his favorite Jay Dee flips–peep it HERE.
I love how the snare hits so hard while the vocals stay so light and sweet, almost fluttery– it’s both radiant and a bit tepid but it’s a fitting juxtaposition given the tone and subject matter. It’s a Jamaican soul joint (from 1962) that, at the end of the day, I could listen to at least a few times throughout the day. The Jillettes seem to be another one of those rare girl groups where only shreds of info and history exist; send any our way if you’re up on the their brief yet striking stint.
Anyone who knows me knows that Bowie was (and is) a top, all time artist, second only perhaps to Kurosawa. So of course Bowie was fresh on my mind when I recently spoke with disco/electronic pioneer, Giorgio Moroder.
The interview was for an upcoming piece on Moroder’s long history and music and took place only a few days after Bowie’s passing. It was a subject that Moroder gushed about while recalling their time together– specifically when they first met and their late night studio session for the song “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)”off the Cat People soundtrack.
Below is a small excerpt taken from the interview (which will be published in full very soon for Cuepoint). RIP Bowie, hero of heroes. -DM
“I met David a long time ago when he had his first hit with “Space Oddity”. I met him in Switzerland at a TV show appearance we did together. When he walked into the room I thought ‘here’s this good-looking guy who’s also very interestingly dressed!’ I had a couple bubblegum pop records out at the time and like I said, “Space Oddity” was already out. It remains my favorite song by him.”
We kept a little bit in contact through the years but nothing major. In the mid ’70s he called me and asked if he could use one of my studios to record an upcoming project. The particular studio [Musicland] was in Munich and I told him I was really busy at the time to meet up. Plus, the studio was being used by all kinds of people, Blondie, Elton John, Led Zeppelin, so forth. So I recommended him to use a studio in Berlin I had used quite frequently in the late ’60s. He apparently did and spoke highly of it years later when we met again.”
“We’d met again in Montreux, Switzerland and I remember David walking into the room, tall and handsome like before. At the time I was doing an album, a soundtrack for a film called Cat People. This was the early ‘80s if I remember correctly and we needed the main theme. I decided then that there was only one person who could sing it and that was David.”
“The image of the film was perfect for him to be associated with and I thought the song was good for him; it had this sort of strange arrangement and backwards sounds. And all the added audio, of course, David really liked. We actually recorded it really fast, it was a late night session and only took a little over an hour.”
“The funny thing I recall is that the director of the film was also there working in the studio late. He was overseeing a bunch of stuff that day and watched as we hung out and recorded. It took us only two takes to get everything right. But the director said ‘No, no, we need to do that again!’”
“Directors, I think, are used to taking multiple takes onset, doing everything over and over. But this was the music studio. So David, I remember, was very polite and said ‘If you want another take, okay. But Giorgio and I think it’s absolutely perfect.’ David then stood up and just walked out. I knew David and presumed he went for a smoke or something. But the director didn’t say a single word after that. And that’s what you hear now, a song made in two takes.”
“Many years later when David would come to Los Angeles, we would meet. I miss him dearly.” — Giorgio Moroder
“Le Sauvage (He Is No Good)” [Rigolo, 1964]
I’ve always been fascinated with diasporas, especially in relation to Asian ones that mirror my own. Tiny Yong was a Cambodian born Vietnamese girl who ended up in France as an actress, subsequently releasing a slew of minor tracks during the 1960s as a side career. There isn’t much info on Ms. Yong’s musical history besides a few conflicting accounts online. She’s an aquarius and is now 71, presumably living in France. Any info would be nice. In the meantime, peep this gorgeous, melodic number.
The Triplet Twins’ “Pretty Please” isn’t lyrically moving (most Soul revolves around love and heartache anyways) but its effusive rhythm and vocal harmonies are really striking. It prompts head nods and maybe even a quick Shazam– and it’s under 2 minutes. Love this one, it leaves you wanting more and I can’t help but think it’s the type of pleasant, sunny, perfectly appropriate song my mom would dig. More quick music posts to come.
Been so busy I completely forgot to plug a quick piece I did with the one and only, Sir Luscious himself, Big Boi of Outkast. Having listened to Outkast for decades now, it was certainly an honor to chop it up with Big about powerfully impactful records that’ve aided his outlook on music and life. It’s another one I was happy to do for Ego Trip, which you can read HERE. Some of Big’s choices were replete with insight and surely expected, but Kate Bush? For real? Dig it.
Upcoming: we’re proud to announce that a bunch of interviews and editing is underway to document the history of Third Sight– one of the South Bay area’s most long running, most dark, most contemplative, most raw, most interesting rap groups to ever come along; weird cuts and scratches of the most left-field samples coupled with monotoned, referential rhymes anchor (their now 15-year old) sound.
We’ll be speaking in-depth with MC Jihad as well as the legendary D-Styles (Invsbl Skratch Piklz) about their releases and overall musical approach. This will hopefully all coincide nicely with their upcoming album “IV”, as well as a welcomed flood of unreleased tracks slated for the new year. Calling all nerds!
Recently spoke with Josh and Sarah of Phantogram. I’ve always liked their overt hip-hop sensibilities and their new project with Big Boi– Big Grams— really heightens the aesthetic. For Ego Trip, we conversed about records that changed their lives and work. Peep it HERE.
Always excited when I’m asked to contribute to Wax Poetics Japan, especially because their market allows them to explore real deeply into subject matter in a way that the American market doesn’t. The recent one focused on the best rap record of 2015 (and perhaps of the last decade), Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Pick it up HERE and many thanks again to the Wax Po crew out of Tokyo.
Man, been so busy I forgot to mention a recent cover story I did with one of the greatest ever– the uncanny, most venerable, most natural rappers to ever do it, Tony Starks himself, Ghostface. We went over hilarious ODB memories and pretty much detailed his entire catalogue, touching on rather baroque benchmarks and his profound prolific streak. As of this writing, the followup to his Adrian Younge collab, 12 Reasons To Die Pt. II, is slated for release, as is a VERY VERY much anticipated album with DOOM. Go HERE to pick up what I consider to be– at least up to this point– the most in-depth piece with Ghostface ever written.
UPDATE: Wax Po just made the entire piece available online. Take a gander HERE.
Pete Rock’s long-awaited followup to his Petestrumentals album is finally here. But unlike its predecessor, and partially due to the ever changing landscape of how people get their music, Petestrumentals 2 is available totally for free, featuring a memorable, head nodding tribute to Dilla (“Dilla Bouce (RIP)”). Go HERE for a listen.
Hearing this reminded me of a talk I did with Pete a while back; we discussed his famous production histories and essential records that profoundly inspired his own style. For example, when asked about the last time he spoke with Biggie, said Pete: “Man, it was right before he died. He told me: ‘Pete, my raps sound best with you and Large Pro. I love that shit!’ That was the last thing he said to me before he died, I swear.” You can read the article in full HERE.
I’m thrilled to have written my third cover story in a row for Wax Poetics Japan. This issue (#35!) is immensely focused on the rap’s first royal collective, The Juice Crew. The photos are amazing, with deep pieces on Big Daddy Kane, Marley Marl, Kool G Rap, and other stalwarts. You can peruse parts of the issue and purchase it HERE .
Since it’s for WPJ, it (obviously) reads in Japanese, but my dudes at Wax Po here in the US were gracious enough to post the original English translation on their site. Take a look at Rap’s clown prince and his deep history, followed by a Q&A sourced from a series of interviews I did with Biz a few years back. READ IT HERE.
I’ve always had a love affair with Joe Meek’s music and strange life– “Telstar”, I always thought, would be the perfect dirge at my funeral. Meek was so innovative for his time, lacing spooky instrumentals with washes of echo and sound effects. He sang, composed, and famously produced so many songs, and a good number of them were weird and icy, mostly due to his innovations behind the engineering board. It was also said he had a weird obsession with Buddy Holly, claiming that he spoke to him from the afterlife.
Meek also infamously told Brian Epstein not to sign the Beatles and advised the Small Faces to get rid of Rod Stewart. His story ends with a crazy murder suicide that capped a career of eerie tunes and an obsession with the occult (he’d set up tape recorders at graveyards to ‘speak with the dead’).
Produced by Meek, “Sunday Date” by the Flee-Rekkers is one I’ve wanted for a while and just recently acquired. It’s distinctly Meek, sounding like a slowed down surf instrumental, melancholy and kind of pleasantly haunting.
Quick plug: I recently helped edit the latest issue of Globetrotter Magazine, a music, art/design, style and culture publication that dares to exist in the rapidly decaying world of print publishing– it’s 2015 afterall. This issue features Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, Parisian beatmaker Onra, menswear maestro Jeff Staple, and a stunning photo essay from Kathmandu among so much other interesting, worldwide happenings. Honored to be apart of something that’s hard to pigeonhole while making a sincere effort to capture the global community. It’s a big thick book you’d likely find at bookstores and airports. To purchase, or for more info, head over to their Facebook Page and make friends.
When I was in graduate school, Check The Technique was one of the guiding books for my thesis. It not only served the assignment well, but was also every bit as entertaining as its predecessor, Rakim Told Me. I nerded out over specific tracks and their backstories and always thought Brian’s approach and clean presentation really did the subjects justice.
Brian Coleman’s new book, Check the Technique Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies (Wax Facts Press) is more of the same, a wonderfully written celebration of all these songs and artists we grew up loving. Who knew MF Doom’s initial moniker, Zev Love X, was “X Evolvez” spelled backwards? Mindblown! For info and ordering links, visit: www.WaxFactsPress.com.
It’s completely gratifying and an obvious honor to have Brian stop by with a guest post. With the highly anticipated Check The Technique Vol.2 out now, here’s a snapshot on Mr. Coleman’s mantra when it comes to digging for vinyl. Many thanks sir! – DM
I am a digger. Some of my best friends are diggers. And I love hanging with them and shooting the shit. But when it comes to music, I get frustrated at times because they go for obscurity at most costs, and don’t smell the roses in front of their faces. And by roses, I mean records we can all find every day in broad daylight (vs. dank basements of shady record stores).
So here are some records I randomly grabbed from my collection in a matter of 15 minutes (dig-free), records that should be readily available if you choose to seek them out. These are jams that, for the most part, I have loved since high school– which wasn’t exactly yesterday– and I still love as much today as I did then. Support your local record store!!!!! Buy vinyl!!!! FUCK CDs!!!!!
The Young Adults – “Complex World” – Helping Others (Heartbreak Hits, 1989)
Okay, I guess this is a little obscure, but it’s still a dollar record if/when you see it. Goofy drunk-rock from a band I first learned about in the amazing flick of the same name (“Complex World”), based around the debauchery at Providence, RI rock fleabag venue Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.
Bad Brains – “Re-Ignition” – I Against I – (SST Records, 1986)
H.R. is listed as “throat” in the liners, but he was heart and soul, too. This was later in the group’s career (at least their career making great records), but proved they still had it. One of the greatest live bands I have ever seen.
The Carpenters – “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” – Passage (A&M Records, 1977)
If you can think of something cooler than Karen Carpenter summoning space aliens, please let me know.
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band “Dropout Boogie” – Safe as Milk (Buddah Records, 1970)
Off-kilter, raspy, drug-inspired (I can only assume) and actually somewhat sensible, lyrically. Desert heatstroke rock. Fucking excellent. Continue reading “Dollar Bin Goodies With Brian Coleman”
Regular readers will notice we dig international music, especially of the forgotten, funky, soulful, and psych variety. We’ve covered Sinn Sithamouth and other pioneering artists who’ve been criminally overlooked for various (and sometimes, terribly regrettable) reasons. Our good bud DJ Basura has put together an assortment of lost grooves from the Philippines, all culled from glorious, crackly vinyl– lots of breaks, lots of fuzz, and endearing covers. Based on these effusive selections, hopefully more of the same is afoot. Some words from Basura on his fantastic new mix below.
Says Basura: “This mix was inspired by labels seeking to unearth good ‘world music’, like Folkways (now Smithsonian Folkways) and Sublime Frequencies. Ranging from a wide variety of genres including rock, pop, garage, soul, disco, funk, jazz, psych, & Filipino folk dance mainly from the 60’s-80’s (There’s even a surf song and a couple of James Brown covers, amongst others on here!), my goal was to simply shed some light on music made in the Philippines from the past. It’s not an actual ‘mix’ as what most would consider a ‘mix’ to be these days (it’s neither completely beat matched nor made specifically for the dance floor, though you can certainly groove to most of it), this is a collection/compilation more than anything else. This is just an inkling of what seems to be a mainly untapped resource (the past history of Filipino music). Hopefully this could lead to more awesome Filipino compilations/mixes that I put out.”
****************GRAB BASURA’S FILIPINO FOLKWAYS MIX’ HERE
Though I’m not too into Alicia Keys’ music, it was fun and eyeopening researching her backstory. She came from truly humble beginnings and her subsequent ascent into greatness is almost unmatched as far as modern r&b artists go. Like her or not, she’s immensely talented with brains to boot– and she’s not hard on the eyes either, which was something of a hurdle if you want your artistry to be taken seriously. A free ride to Colombia University AND a record deal with Columbia Records, all while she was 16? Must be nice. The article ended up as this month’s cover story for Wax Poetics’ Japan and since Nerdtorious has a pretty sizable Japanese readership, here’s the link to WPJ’s latest issue. On stands now, kampai!
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Will ‘Quantic’ Holland stopped by The Chapel in San Francisco last week, showing off chops that made him known throughout the States, Europe, and South America. His style’s pretty accessible, considering he incorporates different genres into his work over a 9 album course starting in 2001. We spoke a while back, touching on his upbringing, the groundswell of support he’s received, and his work with a personal favorite of mine, Alice Russell. Below is a quick Q&A. – DM
**Here’s a ‘Best Of Quantic’ mix from a few years back by none other than J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies.
Talk a bit about your musical background and history a bit. What instruments do you play? What was the first instrument you picked up? Which would you say is your main one?
My Mum and Dad were into alot of music before I was born, my father played Guitar on Welsh Television regurarly in his teens and my mother played fiddle and sang, they were quite a musical couple interested in Folk music in general, Bluegrass, English Folk, Irish. By the time I was born, my father had taken up banjo and both him and my mother had a house full of instruments, dulcimers, ukeleles, a piano and various british made banjos. My sisters had a ukeleles each and I was taught to play guitar by my dad as well as reluctantly taking piano lessons with my mothers friend. It turned out I was pretty hopeless at it all and rarely enjoyed singing in the family car like my twin sisters did.
Your father was pretty influential then.
Yeah, he was a lecturer and part time computer programmer, so as the 80s progressed, our music room was gradually filled with computer equipment, first a BBC Micro and then various Archimedes machines. My father showed me how to program bits of code and eventually, once computers progressed, how to sample and record. He also bought me a cheap electric guitar once I had gotten into my Iron Maiden ‘Powerslave’ period and out the other side into Nirvana. At 16 my mother leant me money to buy a simpe yamaha sampler and that got me interested in looping, especially using the onboard mic to loop up piano chords and use instruments from the house. Around that time I had inherited a Uher portable reel to reel tape recorder from an uncle on my mothers side who had a sound recording business and I had an uncle on my fathers side who was a DJ and record producer. I remember him bringing us a 45 to house, one each for me and my sisters, he was into managing pop groups and seemed a world away from my household’s folky outlook. But gradually the idea of producing records and stylizing sound in a recorded fashion dawned on me.
Which albums have most profoundly affected you?
There are a few landmark records for me, when I first heard Sly Stone’s ‘If You Want Me to Stay’ that blew me away, so did Carla Bley’s ‘Escalater Over the Hill’. I also remember loving Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath at a young age, their Drums and Guitars seemed so powerful and expressive. As I got further into music and it became more accessible with the internet, I discovered more by Moondog, Richie Ray, Fela Kuti, Arthur Verocai. More recently, hearing ‘Krishnanda’ by Pedro Santos from Brasil changed my ears forever. From getting into 45s at a young age, I had the luck of coming across some really good Northern Soul and Jazz. I managed to pick records cheap like Pearly Queen’s ‘Quit Jivin’ and Russell Gorden’s ‘Double Booty Bump’ and started playing at house partys with my friend Russ Porter. I was lucky, because the Midlands and Northern England has a strong appreciation of American Black Soul, Ballads and Dance music. I was growing up in a period where I could find Chicago and Miami 45s in my local store for cheap but also there was good Dum and Bass being produced, great and exciting UK urban music being made, it was a good time. The Midlands is not the most picturesque of places, but it had alot of Soul.
When you write a composition, do you purposely try to incorporate different stylistic elements or does it occur naturally as it’s being written?
Admittedly, I wasn’t big into Blu before writing about him for the current issue of Wax Poetics— although I always dug the production on his early work with Exile. He has a sizable and seemingly rabid fan base so here’s the full transcript of our recent talk. His new release, Good To Be Home, is a testament to his hometown of LA and finds him on the ascendant in terms of comfortability on the mic and overall more fully realized subject matter. Says Blu: “First off, I have to say this a huge honor, I have been waiting for this opportunity to meet for a long time and preparing for the day I sit down with the magnificent Wax Po!”. – DM
Tell folks a bit about your history with Exile. Your first release was in 2007. How sure were you at that point that music would be your career?
I actually wasn’t sure at all. I started working on the record in 2005 at the age of 21, and I knew I wanted to make a strong debut like all the greats I admire like Nas, Ice Cube, Krs, Snoop, and others. It was a huge blessing to get Exile to produce the entire record. I had other producers in mind when we first started crafting the album but after exile and I did one song, I knew he was the perfect person to man the production on the entire record. I always looked up to Premier, Dilla, and Hi-Tek and I finally met someone from California who was on that level of production mastery. He had all the jewels for me to create and get out everything I needed to express for my debut.
You started as a hypeman? How was that experience as an aspiring rapper?
Well, my cousin wrote my first raps for me when I was thirteen but because I was raised in the church, hip-hop was restricted in my household growing up. It wasn’t until I moved back into LA county with my father that I began to buy rap music. It was right after I listened to DMX’s “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” that I started writing my own raps. I was a great freestyle emcee for years, it wasn’t until my good friend who worked at wake up show convinced me to start writing and recording songs instead of battling every emcee for my recognition.I thank him to this day. I remember he always said, “Aint no money in free styling bro, its free”. Then he hipped me to Aquemini. I would eventually hype man for many california groups and bands before my crew and i would get to the point of gracing the stage on our own. Continue reading “Kind of Blu”
What an honor it was to finally speak with Preemo, especially since his work has underscored so many favorite songs of mine. Here, he gets to discuss records that changed his life. Take a look/listen over at Ego Trip. Shouts to my dude O-Dub for the ill assist and peep Soul-Sides which is currently filled with plenty of awesomeness to round out an all-too-short summer (aren’t they all though?).
I recently wrote the cover story on Dr. Dre for Wax Poetics Japan. I was hoping to get Dre on the phone but dude’s probably busy swan diving into piles of cash after his recent 3 billion dollar headphone deal. If you collect issues of Wax Po Japan or read Japanese, the piece explores Dre’s history and influence on commercial music’s landscape through these last three decades. Pick it up HERE.
I spoke with DJ Jazzy Jeff recently for a local story and our conversation ran a bit long– after all, dude has been in the game very long and remains remarkably personable to boot. With the Bay Area as a frequent tour stop (he calls it a ‘second home’) we conversed a bit on some history and his career as a DJ/producer. Below are snippets from our talk on some of the more poignant moments of his ongoing DJ career. -DM
On Meeting Will Smith: “He was in a crew and I was in a crew too and we knew of eachother. We never officially met. I got a last minute DJ gig and had to go without an MC, which is fine. I was gonna rock the spot anyways, but it just so happened to be on Will’s block. He came down and we gave each other daps and just formally met. He was like ‘Where’s Ice’, which was the name of my MC. I told him Ice couldn’t make it and Will was like ‘Mind if I rock with you?’. So then I gave him the mic and it was magic. We were in sync right away from a musical perspective. As dudes, we hit it off too, just laughing and joking all night. I picked up the phone the next night and asked if he wanted to do another gig with me and that was that. It wasn’t too cool for MC Ice who essentially became unemployed [laughs]. But man, it worked out great.”
Why He Started DJing: “More than anything, I loved being the guy who was in charge of playing music at the local parties. You did it because it made you feel good and I liked being the guy responsible for making people dance. So you go from playing a party on your street, to a party on the block, then you’re playing clubs in Philly. That’s pretty much how it started.”
On His First Time in the Studio: “When you make records, especially rap records back then, you never think they’ll hit iconic status one day. You sort of just go in, have a good time in the studio, and try to be as creative as you can. You have to think it’s just for five people rather than 5 million. I feel that outlook keeps it fun. There’s no pressure. You just wanna make good songs for your friends. It was literally just going into the studio or even my mom’s basement, and Will’s rapping and I’m playing my beats and adding cuts, and it’s all cool by the time we hit the studio.”
On Record Collecting: “I will never stop digging. Its one of those things where I laugh and say thank I have so many records already. I have so much music, man. On my computer, in my garage, everywhere. But you know, you can’t walk pass a record store without going in and buying just one, or two, or ten. And it’s like that everywhere in the world I go to ‘til this day.”
Bay Area DJs and What He Does When He’s Here: “Q-Bert is like the Jimi Hendrix of the turntable. I joke with Shortkut and call him a Swiss Army Knife because whatever you want, he’ll provide. I mean, when I’m in the Bay, I’ll go to Thud Rumble Headquarters or I’ll go to Q-Bert’s house. Me and Shortkut will go get Dungeness crab at a local spot. I have my ritual of where I go to eat, who I go to see and all that. I love the Bay and can’t wait to be there again. It really feels like a second home to me there.”
On Sudden Stardom: “It’s crazy because literally ten months after we cut the first record, we’re on the stage at the Grammys. And all of it came from us just having fun. We went thru a period where it was too serious, which I’m sure most artists go thru. I compare my music and art to basketball; you go out to play ball after school to have fun. And if yo’re good at it, you’l play for your school, then maybe your highschool, then maybe college, then if you’re really good, you go pro. But the day it became no longer fun, your game changes.”
DJing Versus Producing: “To me, DJing is producing on the fly. It’s my job to produce the night. As a producer, you have more time to put things together. It’s piecing things together, which is taking nothing and making something out of it. I can just start playing and programming stuff and piece together a puzzle and it’s one of the moist gratifying things you can do.”
For Fans Who’ve Been Listening Since the ’80s: “I just have a huge, high level of love and appreciation. I love what I do so much and am blessed to still do what I do. There so much drama and I’ve always been lucky to still have all this joy. I’m not young anymore but still travel and do what I love. I’ve covered almost every base one would cover in the music industry and to come full circle and still do what I started out doing as a kid is incomparable. I will always DJ and do music. I might not always be involved in the industry side of things, but I get to cut the middleman and just give music directly to the people now. Then I’m off to the next venue. Not much I can ask for.”
* Published concurrently on www.waxpoetics.com
* ‘G Rap’ Image By Kori Thompson
G Rap’s early career was a minefield of shifty fictions anchored in large by a dizzying cadence and attention to detail. And while these early years were fleeting, they, like any true pioneers’ work, set the framework for younger cats to explore. Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, Nas, and Biggie were all spawned from G Rap, later citing his delivery and Mafioso street narratives as immensely impactful and of influence.
I spoke in depth with G Rap for Wax Poetics issue 58, touching on ballyhooed history and other watershed moments during his immensely rich upstart. But there’s so much more to his story, so many colorful characters that came and went in an era where Biz Markie had entirely long beatboxing routines and Big Daddy Kane rapped while doing vigorous dance numbers— all of it under the guidance of rap’s first super producer, the venerable Marley Marl. It was a showcase of fun and well roundedness that underscored the Juice Crew’s heyday.
To this day, the trajectory of his career and its catalogue has been a point of reference for so many, and here’s the rest of our interview, bookended by opulent moments of his storied rise. Says G rap: “I just had crazy confidence in myself. I knew that skill-wise, especially back then, I was an elite. I was untouchable.”
Even though most fixate on those first early records of yours, you’ve had a lot of artistic output since. What are you up to these days?
I’m working on a screenplay. I’m transitioning from rapper back to just writer and am working on concepts for short films. Some of the themes are taken from my old albums. I’m gonna start shooting short films of all these song concepts I’ve had through the years. I can’t wait to get in the field and just put art out there again.
Perhaps one of your well known is “Road To The Riches”. The video itself is remarkable. Talk about working with director Fab Five Freddy.
I was no older than twenty at that point even though I looked thirteen [laughs]. It was directed by [Fab Five] Freddy who I think did an excellent job. He’s from that element, he’s from the streets. He’s definitely a fan of hip-hop and captured what we were going for.
That song was taken from my real life experiences. I wasn’t literally sweeping floors for dimes but if you consider the minimum wage then, I was basically working for dimes [laughs]. It was just my life and things that were going on around me. I mentioned John Gotti because it was the topic of the times. Any part of the violence that I wrote about were things I saw, even if I didn’t directly participate in all of it. I mean, right before the video shoot, this Jamaican cat I knew shot this dude in my neighborhood. Later, the dude ended up killing the Jamaican cat. These were real life things and experiences that I took in.
Let’s talk about the Juice Crew explore that history a bit. How was it working with Marley Marl? He was already known and you were actually the newcomer to the crew.
He’s that dude! Needless to say, he’s one of the first, most innovative producers in the game. Marley was the first one where people knew him equally as much as the vocalist. His name stood out as much as Kane or Biz. It was like he set the format without rapping on anything. Everything he did was behind the scenes. He was in a skit and a video, which was cool since he was already so big and should’ve made himself more identifiable. Then (Dr.) Dre and RZA kind of became what Marley laid out— the dude in the studio that made everything happen and known to the listener.
How close were you guys as a unit? Did Marley keep things tight or were you really more or less affiliates? Continue reading “OG, Original Genius: Kool G Rap Interview Pt. II”
For this year’s Record Store Day, Fat Beats reissued UN or U OUT, a gritty NY rap joint that came and went but also happened to be Roc Marciano’s first official release. I wrote the liner notes and as a big fan of Roc’s solo joint, Marcberg, I was happy to research a bit about his history. Available on LP, CD AND cassette!
*Take a listen to the re-issue in full via Spin Magazine featuring production from Pete Rock and Large Professor HERE.
*You can also read portions of the liner notes and peep an exclusive, recently unearthed track HERE via our buds at Ego Trip.
DJ, vocalist, and producer Greg Broussard literally started a movement in LA thirty years ago. With a huge Jheri curl only equalled by his bombastic beats, Broussard manifested his Egyptian Lover persona onto party records that defined him for decades. His pioneering history intermingles with characters like Ice-T and Dr. Dre, all of whom were young and using rap as springboards for eventual careers. He was amongst the first in the rap scene to start his own label, Egyptian Empire Records, doing it to control his assets and career path long before others thought to do so. At the time, there was an opulence of open minds– and fun to be had– and Egyptian Lover supplied the score for it all, even encouraging interlopers through his catchy, electro production.
He now gigs the world as a one man show, playing all vinyl, blasting 808 beats that thump hard as they did back then. These are records that were meant to be played loud and there’s a certain genuineness about hearing them on 10 x 10 speakers while your teeth and skull rattle. It’s timeless dance music without versifying complications– or as Egyptian Lover says, “Just get your freak on.” I caught Greg quickly to drop a little background as he heads to the South Bay Area to commemorate Record Store Day. Salute sir! – DM
In this age of MP3s, talk a bit about your obsession with vinyl and record collecting.
I started at a young age buying 45 singles of my favorite songs and then later on I started buying albums. My first 45 single was “A Letter to Myself” by The Chi-Lites in 1973. My first full album was The Best of Earth, Wind and Fire in November 1978. My first 12” single was Rapper’s Delight in 1979 and worth every penny of it. That’s when the bug hit me. 12” singles of everything that came out. I loved the long versions of songs that did not come on the radio. The instrumentals on the B-side, or whatever they put on the B side. I loved it!
Do you still collect?
Yes, that will always be my thing. I always find something I never seen before.
Tell people about the Radio Crew and Ice-T’s involvement. What do you think is its main legacy?
It was a once in a lifetime period in history. Ice T, The Glove and The Egyptian Lover. Playing records at that club was mind blowing. Then we made an album for the documentary and people to this day are still losing their minds from it. It has so many well programmed beats and scratching on it. We only pressed 25 copies so the bootlegs are out there! It was the beginning of a new era in music. Music to dance to.
I spoke with Monch about records that inspired his own writing and added to his already uncanny acumen. Check it out on Ego Trip HERE.
One of the most revered MCs to ever do it, Monch’s dextrous verses are at times completely untouchable, intense, and leaves you amazed by the delivery. As the great music writer Dave Thompkins once wrote (and I’m completely paraphrasing, sorry Dave!) : “Monch raps like he’s in total control of every cell in his body.” Or something like that, but you get the point, and we couldn’t agree more.
I believe I saw Bronson in SF around 2010 and have been a fan ever since, especially after hearing his mixtape (Bon Apetite…Bitch), Dr. Lecter, and his free internet release, Blue Chips Pt.I. Dude was intense and funny, made old WWF references, loved Kool G Rap, and talked about food. My story with the weedsmoking-gourmand is featured on the cover of the new Wax Po and Bronson was a great interview; super candid, hilarious, and grateful for the successes he’s had so far– he even addressed claims of him sounding derivative. We talked about hash, Wu-Tang, and plenty of food.
One of my favorite later Bronson joints is on Blue Chips 2, as you hear below:
Action Bronson (production by Party Supplies)- “Midget Cough”
I learned from O-Dub that the sample source was some Filipino band called Joe Cruz and the Cruzettes. Hear the OG version below, with its slow groove that kind of oozes along. Says O-Dub:
“I don’t know very much about Joe Cruz except that he and the Cruzettes were largely a lounge act with heavy Brazilian/bossa influences. Most of their albums claim to have been recorded at different tourist hotels in the Philippines, including the one “Love Song” appears on (which is, by far, their most obscure LP from what I’ve seen).
Their version of “Love Song” came out in 1973 (supposedly) which would mean they were covering Lani Hall and not the other way around. It’s also notable that Hall’s album had a release in the Philippines.”
Joe Cruz & The Cruzettes – “Love Song”
* Bronsolini Sketch by Kori Thompson
* Grab The New Issue of Wax Poetics HERE.
While parties brand themselves in order to branch-out to other cities, Platurn’s 45 Sessions was able to do the opposite– make OTHERS come to YOUR party. The roster has been thick through the years, Just Blaze, Nu-mark, J-Zone, Maseo (De La Soul), and Diamond D to name a few. As a past participant, I’m nothing short of honored to be a part of something that’s so intrinsically positive; good people, good 45s– what else could you ask for? Hats off to the 45 Sessions for turning the party out for 4 years. Dare I say, here’s to another 41 years?!?!
(J-Zone is back! Last time, he touched on his favorite 45s for a pre-45 Sessions blowout; this time, he zeroes in on his all-time choice breaks. His new release, Lunch Breaks, a sample-palette of live drums performed entirely by Jay himself launched last week, primed for drum-less MPCs everywhere. We’re always stoked to have Jay swing through these parts.- DM)
Every hip-hop producer has their favorite drum breaks – until they start playing drums! I had this epiphany two years ago, when I picked up a pair of sticks and set out to learn a new instrument at the tender age of 34 and three quarters. When discovering the wide range of sounds a kit can make and the wide range of playing styles a drummer can use, you begin to hear breaks differently.
You also begin to realize how difficult some of these classics were to play. Nowadays, it’s no longer about which breaks are easiest to chop up, toss into the MPC and boom bap with, but which ones I like to emulate when I practice and mimic the recording of when I’m making my own breaks. So I’ve decided to mix it up and include both: a few choices from a production angle and a few from a (still learning to be a) drummer angle.
In celebration of the release of my ‘Lunch Breaks’ live drum package out now at The Drum Broker, I present my ten favorite drum breaks of all time.
10. Led Zepplin – “The Crunge”
Drummer: John Bonham
Ask anyone putting on a show in the drum section of a Guitar Center who they’d like to be for a day and the answer is probably John Bonham. The freakish Led Zepplin drummer has more Stans than any drummer in history, and although I have different heroes, I’d never front on Bonzo’s brilliance on the set. For fuck’s sake, the dude plays this groove in 9/8 with the pocket of a James Brown jam. And it was the driving force behind “The Magic Number.”
9. B.T. Express – “Energy Level”
Drummer: Leslie Ming
Although rap hasn’t been this fast in years, I’m shocked at how little this joint has been sampled (or if it’s been sampled at all). Leslie Ming is one of my favorite drummers. A session musician in New York throughout the ‘80s, Ming got his start with disco-funk outfit, B.T. Express, where he lit up the band’s Energy to Burn LP with rat-ta-tat-tat drumming from front to back. Accented, machine gun hi-hat marksmanship, syncopated kick-snare patterns and pure pocket make this a gem for b-boy circles and a dance floor smoker for those with soul.
8. Lonnie Smith – “Spinning Wheel”
Drummer: Joe Dukes
When Q-Tip de-virginized this record for sampling in 1990 for Tribe’s “Can I kick It?” he only scratched the surface. Organ trio jazz drummer, Joe Dukes, goes for his multiple times in the song, playing with grooves and giving producers a buffet of rudiments, licks and hits to fool with. One of the very first drum breaks I cut my sample chopping teeth to, there wasn’t one part I didn’t try to flip while learning to hook up drums. The classic Van Gelder Studios sound brings “Spinning Wheel” to life; it’s even more of a pleasure to listen to as an aspiring drummer.
7. Simtec & Wylie – “Socking Soul Power”
Those toms! The toms often play second fiddle in funk drumming and are tuned arbitrarily. But the way the drum set was miked, tuned and recorded gives the toms a bruising thump that nearly distorts the entire mix. This is just a raw, demo-like drum recording reminiscent of the great drum recordings of Chess Records.
6. Lee Moses – “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”
Sometimes it’s all about feel. I’m not sure who the drummer was on this twisted, mind-melting cover of the Motown classic, but it’s just the right mixture of a slightly ahead pocket, fills, jazz tuning and gritty recording gear that bring the song to life. The simple single stroke rolls on the toms for the breakdowns late in the song are gold. The feel and sound are insane enough on their own; the song doesn’t call for any fancy playing.
Danny Brown & Black Milk : “Zap”
Admittedly I wasn’t hugely into Black Milk’s catalogue but part of it, I came to realize, is how prolific dude’s been in the last few years. I spoke with him for the recent Wax Poetics and thought it was endearing that, to him, he finally “made it” when his parents came to one of his shows.
“My moms and pops were there! It was the first time after all these years that they saw me live. I knew right then and there this is what I’m meant for,” he said. While researching his work I re-listened to his Danny Brown collab, Black & Brown. As it now stands (and I consider myself a fan of Danny’s work) this album with Milk might be the only one where Brown’s abrassiveness doesn’t wear thin– don’t get me wrong, this Danny joint is still one of my favorite semi-recent rap songs. Peep the new Wax Po piece and here’s my favorite joint from the two; it thumps when the drums finally set in, and is such a hard, flashy moment in their young careers.
One of our all-time favorite mixes is Age’s Audio, a blend of old soul, breaks, and rare cuts which continue to (no pun intended) age quite well years later. After all, it kicks off with Quinn Harris’ “All In The Soul” which is hardly a bad way to start any sequence of music.
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 adding to 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 it on wax, these songs, in short, are completely quality driven-as is Soul-Sides has been for a quick decade. Here’s to another 10 years – DM
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.