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Medicinal Muzik: Q&A w/ Oh No and Tristate
01/24/2017, 8:48 PM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Interviews | Tags: ,

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

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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.

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Miles Ahead: A Talk With Robert Glasper
08/07/2016, 11:34 PM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Interviews | Tags: , , ,

The homie Layne Weiss–an emerging journalist whose bylines include LA WeeklyMass 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

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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.”

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These Are The Breaks: J-Zone’s Top Ten Drum Breaks
03/10/2014, 2:54 PM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Tunes | Tags: ,

(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)

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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”

Drummer: Unknown

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”

Drummer: Unknown

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.

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DJ PRESTIGE GUEST SPOT
01/23/2014, 1:16 AM
Filed under: Guest Spots | Tags: , , ,

(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 )

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Soul Tornadoes – ‘Go For Yourself’ [Burt]

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.

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TNT Band – ‘The Meditation’ [Cotique]

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?



How He Got Over: An Oral History of Darondo Fandom
07/01/2013, 8:12 AM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Interviews | Tags:
"Darondo" by Frances Marin

Painting by Frances Marin

There’s a certain espirit de corps in the following posts, all of which stem from our basic love for Darondo and his music. He was also from the Bay and just sharing the same turf makes his eccentricities and songs personally more touching. The majestic “Didn’t I” struck a chord with all those who heard it– and all who did, all wanted more. That’s how a chance discovery of said single led to wonderful meetings with Darondo, culminating in songs resurfacing and him doing the splits onstage again at age 60. With Darondo, the more layers that peeled away, the more endearing he became.

Spry with a pompadour and belt buckle bearing his name, he was an actual former pimp who drove around Oakland with a mini-bar in his car. He sometimes wore a cape and sported huge, almost novelty jewelry. He had local cable access shows, one was called Darondo’s Penthouse After Dark. There are more lovable asterisks to his story but ultimately, what we adore is his music– the only thing tantamount would be his personality. After recording a few more in the ’60s, he did odd jobs and left the US during the ’80s before settling into the real estate business where he floated until the market slowed in the early 2000s.

Here’s where we pick up the story; Darondo’s songs are rediscovered by clued-in cats who were awestruck and moved, compelling them to share and officially release what was doable. All the funny, interesting lore aside, anyone who saw Darondo live was struck by his natural stage acumen and dirty humor. He radiated during those performances, energized though at times visibly old and shaky.

When word got out of Darondo’s passing, we tapped our Nerdtorious braintrust to cover a bit of the history behind his late but more than worthwhile ascent, including those who aided his career in its later stages. The stories here highlight Darondo’s pronounced persona. If only there were a time machine to relive the magic of hearing “Didn’t I” again for the first time. Rest in peace soul-master D. Thank god cats like you existed. – DM

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Guest Spot: Antwon
05/09/2013, 11:33 AM
Filed under: Guest Spots | Tags:

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Antwon has been a local standout for a minute now, amassing great press through fun videos and kiler mixtapes. His latest, In Dark Denim, was released a few months back and here he shares some choice cuts by way of words and youtube. Word Antwon!-DM

Spank Rock – “Chilly Will”

The perfect example of “club rap”. At one time it was the standard I guess. I saw so many copy cats between 2006-2009 but Spank Rock was my favorite. The focus was on being very cool and technicolor. Spank Rock releases spoke to me the most because I felt the roots; I could tell the influences that were being payed homage ’cause I very much did the same thing but defintely not at that caliber. Pay this nigga.

You only really grew up in the ’90s if you subconsiously were into house music. MTV’s The Grind had all the jams back then. If you thought Yo MTV Jams was where it was at you were sadly mistaken. I care what no says, if this doesn’t make you throw your hands up and say “ohhhh shiiit” we are not friends.

I love the formula of Goldie songs. They’re what I basically look for in most music; to be emotionally attached to it and for it to take me to another place. I know Goldie is still around and it would be a dream to work with him. – Antwon



(DJ) DAY IN THE BAY
02/21/2013, 4:23 PM
Filed under: Guest Spots, Tunes | Tags: , ,

(With the release of his LP Land of 1000 Chances, DJ Day has pretty much lived up to what friends and fans anticipated– a moody album with many change-ups anchored by a vast yet tempered sample pallet. And the album’s terrifc title video just happens to be thematically couched in all things Bay Area. So we thought the timing was apt for Day to pop by Nerdtorious with some of his favorite Bay Area joints, from LPs to specific tracks. Have a look/listen below and grab his fantastic full-length– it won’t disappoint. – DM)

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Specific Tracks:

Third Sight – “Rhymes Like a Scientist” [Darc Brothas Records, 1996]

I don’t remember where I bought this 12″, but I do remember bugging out on D-Styles scratches type heavy. San Francisco and Philly are truly the greatest cities when it comes to the history of DJing and this record is a prime example of one of – if not THE – best the bay has to offer. Jihad and D made a perfect team and the whole album is worth checking out.

Soft Touch – “Plenty Action” [Sundance, 1976]

I’m still trying to find a copy of this, but if we’re talking Bay Area funk records, this has gotta be in the top 5. I could hear that intro on a loop for days. Top quality every which way.

RBL Posse – “A Lesson To Be Learned” [In A Minute Records, 1992]

I got hip to this record in ’93 while in Job Corps in San Bernardino. Dudes used to blast this playing ball and “Bammer Weed” became the anthem. I still play this cut on the regular.

Specific Albums:


The Residents – George & James [Korova Records, 1984]

The Residents, for those who might not be up on them, are an experimental/performance art group originally from Louisiana, but didn’t get their start until moving to San Mateo. I was listening to them quite a bit while I was making Land Of 1000 Chances and some of that influence can be heard on “FML”. They’re weird and pretty fucked up all around, but I’m a fan. This particular album is a split LP with one side being George Gershwin covers and the other being their version of James Brown’s Live At The Apollo siphoned through a lot of hallucinogens and bad recording techniques. I love it.

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Matthew Larkin Cassell – Pieces [N/A, 1977]

The first time I heard this was on a Kon & Amir comp and later found out a good friend of mine (what up Herm) in Tuscon was responsible for the record getting some publicity. “In My Life” and “You” are the jams. Wish the OG record was easier to come by.

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Too Short – Life Is Too Short [Jive, 1988]

No Bay list would be complete without a Too Short or E-40 record. Trying to choose from Short’s first 5 albums was tough, but I think I played this one the most growing up. “I Ain’t Trippin” , “Don’t Fight the Feeling”, “Cusswords”… this one had all the classics.

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Doobie Brothers – Livin’ On The Fault Line [Warner Bros., 1977]

My love of yacht rock is well known and, again, was probably apparent on some of Land Of 1000 Chances. This whole LP isn’t the greatest, but “You Belong To Me” is the joint. Reminds me of what a coke and wine fueled night strolling in a half unbuttoned shirt with your lady on Embarcadero in the 70’s would sound like. Or something like that.

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Huey Lewis & The News – Sports [Chrysalis, 1983]

I don’t care what anybody says this is going on the list. – DJ Day