He’s The DJ: Jazzy Jeff’s Endless Gig

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

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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.”

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UN or U OUT: Roc Marci Reissue

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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.

Platinum Pyramids: Egyptian Lover Interview

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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.

Continue reading “Platinum Pyramids: Egyptian Lover Interview”

Stray Bullets

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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.

“Three Different Types Of Forks For A Monday Lunch / Tamarind Punch / Higher Than A Javelin Jump…”

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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.

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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.

4 YEARS FOR 45 SESSIONS!

45th 45 Sessions @The Legionnaire Saloon, Oakland, CA

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?!?!

As fate would have it, Platurn just put down a killer set at the Boiler Room. Please take a look and listen to the dude behind the Sessions HERE! Congrats homie!

AUDIO II: Just For The Sake of It

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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.

Peep Audio II: Just For The Sake of It, the followup to its classic predecessor now finally available via New Medina Music. Highly recommended.

Soul Sides Volume Free

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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

************READ AND LISTEN TO SOUL SIDES VOL. 3

Early Earl

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“The former soloist whose flow was sick,
The token sober kid stressed so the role was switched.
Now Four Lokos down the hole and a loaded spliff,
Look who’s as useless as a broken wrist when trying to open shit”- Earl

I spoke with Earl Sweatshirt recently who was open, insightful, and a bit deflective. It’s understandable when you’re 19 and the world is picking your brain. Dude dropped our favorite album of 2013 (Doris) which is dense enough to keep unpacking through the next year. He’s young and formidable, and it doesn’t hurt that his idol is DOOM. Earl’s off to an epic start and I’m glad to have caught him before the glitz does. Peep the feature article in the current Wax Poetics.

Local Motion

A couple new tracks out of San Jose’s Sticky Lab, courtesy of Motion Man, Da Hermit, 2Mex, and D-Styles. Production by D-Styles is particularly beastly while Da Hermit also lends mixing credits.

“Funk (Ft. 2Mex)” – Produced by Da Hermit

“Out Of Control” – Produced by D-Styles

We Got Sound: An Afro-Funkified Mix

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One of the year’s most formidable mixes came in March and I’ve lagged on coverage, partially due to a frenzied dayjob and partially due to the denseness of the mix itself– it’s a lot to take in. A home brewed project spearheaded by Nerdtorious regular Allen ‘Overflo’ Johnson and Taran Escobar-Ausman of Fatheadphones.com, We Got Sound features rare African songs outside of the typical ‘High Life’ fare or ubiquitous Fela nods.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Listen to WE GOT SOUND in its entirety :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

These are some serious records you can’t hear anywhere else compiled, dusted-off, and blended together in seamless fashion in all its crackly glory. In short: essential listening. I shoulder-tapped Taran to expound a bit on the mix and some of the artists that went into it. Here’s what he came up with. – DM

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Effi Duke & The Love Family “Time Has Come”
Album: Mr. Love [1980]

This hypnotic, jazz influenced head-nodder is definitely one of the centerpieces of the mix, and it guided the feeling, theme, and tempo of the whole project. It immediately grabs your attention with Effi’s octave guitar workout over the echoed clap (which actually sounds like the scraping of guitar strings with wah-wah and echo) on the backbeat. Once the funky turn-around riff plays, there’s no turning back.

Charles Effiom Duke was a man on the scene, being a hired hand and contributor to a slew of bands, including the Funkees, Wings, Original Wings, Dan Ian, Kingsley Burstic Bassey, and Etubom Rex Williams, to name a few. At the same time, he was a founding member of the Ceejebs, an afro-rock band from Calabar. Eventually, the Ceejebs disbanded in the mid-70s, after which Duke formed his own band, Love Band/Love Family, which recorded two albums, including Mr. Love. Duke gets credits for guitar, bass, vocals, composer, engineer, and producer. In other words, he has the skills to pay the bills!

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The Elcados “Funky Music”
Album: Whatever You Need [1979]

The Elcados started out as the Moonrakers, the resident band at the Moulin Rouge Club in the Nigerian city of Kano, in 1966. After a management change, the Moonrakers left the club and changed their name to the Elcados, recording two LPs for EMI in the mid 70s. The song Funky Music, however, comes from their third album, Whatever You Need, which was more of a reunion album, with one member not returning.

This song gave the mix its name with its refrain, “We got rhythm, we got sound. You’re going to dig it, we got sound.” Sound they have indeed, as they lock into a funk/disco groove that doesn’t let up, declaring their sound credentials to everyone on the dance floor. The Elcados’ previous records were more rock oriented, but with this late 70s ‘reunion’ release the beats get tighter and mixed with Disco/Reggae influences, which was becoming popular in the region. My 3-year old asks for this one on repeat. (Props to ‘oreje’ scholar, Uchenna!) -Taran Escobar-Ausman, Fatheadphones.com

Rap Beautician, Facts You Listen

Man, it’s been way too long since we’ve heard from one of our favorites, Edan. Last time we spoke was following the release of his wildly entertaining Echo Party. What followed were singles, guest spots, and these equally thorough, offbeat, off-the-cuff home mixes dubbed “Radio Shows”. Here’s the latest one, a live mix of records, washes of echo, and on the spot cuts. We’re stoked on the announcement of a new Rap EP due out in 2014, as is a Rock EP. Looking forward!

Escapism: The Running Sounds of Dev Hynes

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“Forget It” by Blood Orange aka Devonte Hynes WATCH HERE

My article on Devonte Hynes is now up Wax Poetics’ site, lifted originally from their epic 50th anniversary issue. It’s a piece that was super fun to write and finally available for the first time online HERE for non-subscribers.

An absurdly talented songwriter, Dev has penned songs for Florence and the Machine, Sky Ferreira, Theophilus London, Solange, and many more in addition to his killer debut, last year’s Coastal Grooves.

“Forget It” is a striking cut off the album and is one of my favorite songs in recent memory. The whole project was made on his Macbook with a keyboard, mic, and guitar. Dev announced this week that his second Blood Orange album is near completion.

Bugged Out Romanian Fuzz

I’m currently working on this upcoming release (off Strut) on Rodion Ladislau Roșca, a forward thinking composer who made mad-scientist-like tracks with homemade speakers and toy Casio keyboards in Romania during intense socially oppressive times. These recordings haven’t been heard in 34 years and are weird, hard-hitting joints with loads of fuzz, keyboards and sound effects. They veer towards funk and even jazz at times but are overall dark, dense, and set in sometimes elaborate arrangements. Interesting stuff to be sure. Take a look at the preview video above and be on the lookout for an expansive piece on this bit of lost Romanian jams.

Farewell Big Al’s

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I still love covering local stories, especially when it’s about two 80+ year old dudes who run the largest and oldest record store in my area. Joe (pictured above) yells “there he is!” every time you walk through the door. I wrote this a few months back but if you’ve ever been in the South Bay or been by Al’s through the years, check the story HERE.

All Killer No Filler

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Snippet from All Killer No Filler mixed by Gaslamp Killer

Long-haired, sweaty, yogi-looking producer/DJ William Bensussen (Gaslamp Killer) is an instrumental part of LA’s Flying Lotus-driven beat scene, anchored by its epic Low End Theory parties with cats like D-Styles and guests Thom Yorke of Radiohead or Erykah Badu.

I wrote about William in the latest Wax Poetics #53 and recently saw this Japanese translation of it while looking for images to post. If you don’t read Japanese, grab the issue and check out his latest project, Breakthrough.

Though I didn’t dig the new one as much as his previous works (sitar overkill and a bit droning, even tepid at times) it does have its moments, rooted mainly in off-kilter breaks and energetic bursts in the arrangement. The snippet above is from a mixtape that showcases more his DJ skills whereas the new one is more production.

Small Records Big Sound

(One of our favorite dudes DJ O-Dub will be dropping by tomorrow at one of our favorite parties, The 45 Sessions— founded by non other than the homie, DJ Platurn. It was an honor to be a past participant in an event where partygoers care about the music as much as the DJs– plus, 45s just sound so damn good and loud! We asked O-Dub to give us a peek into his crates for tomorrow’s not-to-be-missed affair and here’s what he came up with (hit it!). – DM)

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It’s been ages since I’ve spun a “vinyl only” party, let alone “45s only” and truth be told…as great and convenient as the infinite digital crate is, I find far more creative pleasure in working within limits. Sometimes having access to everything makes a challenge banal; it’s like playing a video game in “god” mode. That said, I knew, going into this 45 Sessions set, I was certainly going to bring along a few go-to favorites on one hand as well as some “yeah, I got this” flossalistic singles. But I also want to use this as an opportunity to play out a few 7″s that have always almost made it to the turntables yet, for whatever reason, never quite made my party playlists. To start:

The Springers – (I Want You) Every Night and Day

My friend Hua Hsu put me up on this many years ago and I immediately fell in love with those hard, hammering piano strokes at the beginning. Great vocal touches and harmonies too. It’s not quite as slick – dancing-wise – as other Northern tracks but it has such a distinctive feel and punch to it. Maybe I’ll finally give this one a spin.

Los Amaya – Que Mala Suerte la Mia

I do love me some rumba catalan and Los Amaya’s “Caramelos” has usually been the track I most frequently play out. But this time, I’m planning to play the flip side – “Que Mala Suerte la Mia” – instead. It’s not as obviously “funky” as “Caramelos” but listening to it, I appreciate the slinky soulfulness that infuses the energy of the singing and guitar. I hope the dance floor can get with it too!

Samson and Delilah – Will You Be Ready

Never played this out before but that’s mostly because I only picked it up last fall and haven’t had a gig where it would have made sense to drop it. If ever there was a rhythm that could be described as “irresistible,” this is it. It’s no great songwriting accomplishment, lyrically, but as a groover, I don’t know if I’ve heard anything quite as propulsive in a while.

DJ O-Dub will be spinning at 45 Sessions in Oakland on Friday, January 18.

Viva El Ghetto Brothers

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“Girl From The Mountain” (snippet)

“There is Something in My Heart” (snippet)

I recently interviewed Benjy Melendez of the Ghetto Bros. on his incredible story and the music that accompanies the Ghetto Brothers’ legacy. It’s a record that’s not only considered a ‘holy grail’ for collectors but it also serves as a juxtaposed soundtrack for the violent, fiery Bronx where it was made. I say juxtaposed because you figure an album made by gruff street gang members from the ’70’s Bronx wouldn’t be as sugary as it is. But the GB’s lone output turned out to be a mix of Latin garage-rock, Santana, and The Beatles, some of which were anthemic in a political sense but most were just wide-eyed love songs.

I could do without the Santana nods but above are my favorite joints from the album which FINALLY got the proper reissue treatment from Truth & Soul Records. You can read my story with Benjy in the upcoming Wax Poetics and in the meantime check out a recent review HERE.

Records With Roc Marciano

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Roc’s debut, Marcberg (which you can stream here), was an eye-opener for fans of gritty NY rap. The producer/rapper also made guest spots on seemingly every rappers’ album in 2012 based on the strength of Marcberg and subsequent releases (i.e. Greneberg). His new one, Reloaded, is more of the same inverted rhyme-schemes and dark production that marked his past work.

I spoke with Roc recently for Ego Trip’s “5 Records That Changed My Life”. Check out Roc’s rather rap-centric picks HERE.

Paul For President


As one of our favorite artists, it’s never a bad time to pick Prince Paul’s brain. I spoke with Paul some weeks back at length about what else? Records. Specifically, 5 records that changed his life and career accordingly. Read it HERE on egotripland.com.

Chuck D Autumn 2012

I always jump at the chance to speak with Chuck. He’s always a great interview and never minces words. We spoke last time after the ’08 election so I felt it was befitting to revisit the same themes this time too, especially with the looming election and the ferocious political climate it brings. And if there’s someone you’d want to hear from on the eve of what looks to be a hotly contested debate, it’d be a riled up Chuck D.

The interview is the cover for the Autumn issue of One More Robot, a Dublin-based pop culture magazine (and one of the few upstarts that remains in-print). Old and new issues can be found at its webstore. Check out more on the new issue, which includes a nice interview with Adrian Tomine who is a cartoonist for The New Yorker. What’s more, the issue features a previously unpublished, crazy in-depth interview with Rick James. Stoked to speak with Chuck and be a part of OMR to boot.

HIT UP KEITH!

The last time we heard from Keith was right after the NBA finals. It was hilarious and with Keith hitting us with guest posts throughout the year there’s more hilarity to come. But for now, he’s opening up for questions from the audience.

Hit us with your questions for Poppa Large at Nerdtorious@gmail.com with ‘Mail 4 Matthew’ in the subject and we’ll pass it along to Dr. Dooom. Who knows when we’ll catch him again so send your queries our way (all questions MUST be submitted BEFORE October 15th). We’ll post responses shortly thereafter. Fire away!

WU-TANG NAME GENERATOR

Pick three numbers 1-9, match the words, and BOOM… you have your Wu-Tang moniker! The scan originally appeared in Big Daddy Magazine in the early 2000s (we think). Click the image to enlarge. If fate will have it, you could be Buddah The Jesus…definitely not one to f*ck with!

Alice Russell’s Seven Nation Army

(I just wrapped up a story on Alice Russell for a piece due out soon, touching mostly on her new project with Quantic, Look Around The Corner. But we also covered her past work, most notably a fan favorite, “Seven Nation Army”. It’s a killer White Stripes’ cover heard on Nostalgia 77’s album (The Garden) which I think resonates a bit more due to the heavy, low-end elements. You be the judge and read Alice’s thoughts on the making of it.– DM)

* Original painting of Alice Russell (above) by the talented Ms. Anabella Pinon

“Seven Nation Army” by Nostalgia 77 ft. Alice Russell [Tru Thoughts/Ubiquity, 2005]

“That was Ben’s (aka Nostalgia 77) idea. He called me up and told me he wanted to cover this song. And the thing is, at that time, I hadn’t even yet heard of it. And so I went ’round to his house and he played it to me and told me he had this idea to cover it. I loved it right away. But in our version he said he wanted heavy drums and horns, which of course to me sounded like a fantastic idea. I love the White Stripes and love the lyrics to the song so much. So after listening to it a few times over and over, I just got down to recording it pretty much right there and then in his bedroom studio– or I should say living quarters [laughs]. It’s such a good song and I loved how it turned out is what I can humbly tell thee.” — Alice Russell

Elizabeth Cotten (January 5, 1895 – June 29, 1987)

“Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie” by Elizabeth Cotten [Folkways Recordings, 1957]

Admittedly I’m not much of a bluesman nor do I know much about the great Elizabeth Cotten. But I recently came across this gem of hers and found out today just so happens to be the 25th anniversary of her death.

Born in North Carolina, it’s said that she started playing banjo at age 8 before switching to guitar. Left-handed, she taught herself to play the guitar backwards (or upside down) and performed until she was in her late 80s. Not only that but her style, a plucking technique that sounds like multiple guitarists playing at once, was later dubbed “Cotten Picking”. Most of her work, bare-bones folky blues stuff, was recorded on reel-to-reel in her home and released on Folkways Recordings. “Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie” is the tune that turned me onto her; a striking, somber love song written and performed by Ms. Cotten 55 years ago that speaks to me more now than any modern love track ever could.

Bo Diddley: The Black Gladiator

Selections from Bo Diddley: The Black Gladiator [Future Days Recordings/Light In The Attic, 2012]

“I Don’t Like You”

“Funky Fly”

“Power House”

“You, Bo Diddley”

Though I consider myself a big Bo Diddley fan, I apparently knew very little about his extended catalogue. I always dug his earlier songs and probably regulated myself to them (which I tend to do). But this, The Black Gladiator, is a bizarre and awesome period in Bo’s career equally great as his early work. I was stoked to review this recently for Soul-Sides.com which you can read HERE.

Matthew’s Mail: Monthly Kool Keith Visits

(Editor’s note: We’re delighted to have KOOL KEITH drop us guest posts! Yes, Black Elvis himself– who just quit rap— will be hitting us with monthly musings, running the gamut from answering reader mail, listing his favorite pornos, touching on classic Keith moments, or just random of-the-cuff posts. Who knows! Tune in for these monthly critical beatdowns! And here’s the first: a timely post on the recent NBA Finals. Read Keith’s thoughts and peep the rare, All-Star promo vid from ’89 featuring hilarious Ultramag raps!- DM)

Keith on this year’s NBA Finals:

“Lebron wanted a championship and he was real hungry. He’s also real sensitive, you can tell. Like if you say something mean to him he’ll have to try not to cry right away. He left the Cavs to gain a title and no one wants to play in the league for years and be an old man and not get a ring. Dirk waited forever and kept smelling it but Dirk already looks mad old. Lebron can smelled the ring and I think it was a lot for his head. It was a real good matchup and OKC was real nice. They’re young, aggressive cats and they have an old dude like Fisher on there to keep ’em balanced. A lot of these NBA dudes are old and have ugly faces, but some dudes like Fisher still run things. Plus Durant and Westbrook are young and so fast but I think Miami was just a bit wiser. It’s like rap. Everyone always likes the young rappers but the old ones are wiser.”

“Your rhymes are like an empty prison, a waste of bars” — Lord Finesse

“Check The Method (Remix)” by Lord Finesse [Exclusive WPJ Flexi-Disc]

I recently wrote the upcoming cover story for Wax Poetics Japan on an all-time favorite, Lord Finesse. Though it’s in Japanese it does however offer an abundance of awesome pics from Finesse’s own archives. So many dope shots; from Finesse with Dr. Dre in the studio, to him and Biggie, and even him and Grace Jones chillin’ in a hotel. 

Our buds at Ego Trip are slowly unveiling some of the pictures with article excerpts. Peep everything HERE and check the exclusive remix that’s gonna lace said issue of WPJ in the form of an exclusive flexi-disc via Slice-of-Spice Records.

Belita Woods’ Magic (1948-2012)

Belita Woods passed away a couple days ago from heart failure, leaving behind a pretty stacked legacy that’s often understated.  Belita played with Parliament-Funkadelic in the later stages of both their careers in addition to fronting Brainstorm, a boogie/disco troupe whose work was mostly around in the ’70s.  She had a great voice, belting out easily over Parliament tracks with George Clinton.  But her career began in Detroit in the ’60s where she exuberantly kills “Magic Corner”.  I’ve always really liked this one, especially the arrangement, the piano, and the singing.  This is her at 19, for the Moira label in 1967.  RIP Ms. Woods.

“Magic Corner” by Belita Woods [Moira, 1967]

Don’t Sweat The Technique

I spoke to EL-P around this past SXSW for an upcoming piece spanning his career from Co Flow to his latest, Cancer For Cure,  and R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike (which he entirely produced).  His approach has always certainly been against the grain but his progress as a producer can’t be overstated.  Huge leaps are obvious between Funcrusher, Cannibal Ox’s The Cold Vein and I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead–and of course Fan Dam, his first solo record.  All have cold, eerie templates but the latter are significantly more layered with a focus on structure (and overall just more explosive).  Here’s a portion where we revisit his first joint, “Juvenile Technique”, a lo-fi number which samples an always great Bob James tune.  Take a listen and read the full story in the upcoming Wax Poetics Magazine.

“I Feel A Song (In My Heart)” by Bob James ft. Patti Austin [CTI, 1975]

“Juvenile Technique (clean)” by Company Flow [Libra, 1994]

“I remember this being the first time I broke through and made something that I felt was presentable [laughs].  I was young then.  I come from an era where people still don’t get to hear the first ten years of your music.  Where as now, everyone can hear the first song anyone makes.  This was the first song out of about fifty tracks that I thought finally sounded cool [laughs].  (Big) Juss wasn’t even in Co Flow yet and entered the picture later.  We became  friends when he ended up living in my apartment.  He was working on his own shit so we said ‘lets just work on a project together’ and that’s kind of how the group started.  This is Co Flow at the beginning when it was still just me and (Mr.) Len.  This is us just trying to be different;  just kids rapping our asses off and seeing what happens.” – EL-P

Perception & Today Records

Selections From The Best of Perception & Today Records [BBE, 2012]

“Gingele” by Astrud Gilberto

“Matrix” by Dizzy Gillespie

“Honey Buns” by Bobby Rydell

I recently reviewed this terrific comp and it’s worth mentioning again since its one of the year’s best.  What was meant to be a guest post over at one of my favorite sites, soul-sides.com, ended up schooling me on some history on one of the most short-lived yet varied labels ever, Perception Records (and its subsidiary, Today).  What the comp compiles (and what you essentially hear) is a straight forward jazz label struggling to adapt itself to shifting musical trends, reaching out far and wide, sometimes radically, to stay afloat.  The result was a hodgepodge of songs, huge hits, rare renditions, and artists in different career stages all on one magnificent catalogue.  The comp was compiled by DJ Spinna & BBE Soundsystem, take a look at the review for more.

“New World” ft. D-Styles & friends

“New World” painting by DNA of Illuskrate.

Here’s a nice new one featuring the legendary D-Styles on cuts, Opski Chan (out of San Jose) Roughneck Jihad (Third Sight) and longtime Kool Keith collaborator, Motion Man. Produced by Jerry ‘Da Hermit’ whom I spoke to briefly on his studio and said track. Peep the eerie, lo-fi posse cut and keep an ear out for more of the like from Sticky Lab Studio, one of the busiest studios from South Bay area.

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Hustle.

Another mix via Matthew Africa? Yes please. Like his past mixes, Yay Game is meticulously crafted and untrammeled with filler. This time, he celebrates Bay legend Earl Stevens, also known as Charlie Hustle but widely known as E-40.

Given 40’s lengthy career, this mix (40 E-40 tracks!) succinctly covers all eras of Fonzarelli’s vast catalogue, serving as both a primer for youngsters and welcomed nostalgia for oldsters. Head over to Matthew’s site to grab the mix and read more about the impetus behind it all.

10 Years Tall And Rising…

A huge congrats to Wax Poetics for 10 years and 50 issues of fine– and in many ways, unmatched– music journalism. Peep the anniversary issue HERE and take a listen to a wonderful coinciding mix by our dude FA.

It’s been a pleasure to contribute to Wax Po through the years– such a notable cast of nice dudes whom I’ve been lucky enough to now and again brainstorm with.  For the anniversary issue, I covered Devonte Hynes, recently known as Blood Orange. Check the video for “Forget It” (directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz, shot on VHS) off his killer debut, Champagne Coast. Here’s to another 10 years of classy coverage.

Future Primitive Funk

“What’s On Your Mind” (directed by Alex Saylor) is a new animated video featuring Stones Throw funk maestro Dam Funk and non other than Tony Cook, James Brown’s longtime funky drummer. The video’s aesthetic is a great nod to Tony’s now legendary “On The Floor”, famously dubbed “The Granddaddy of All House Records”.

Read an interview I did with Tony HERE and check the new video.

RETURN OF THE BOOM ZAP!

We tend to keep localized posts to a minimum but this is worth sharing, especially since it’s our first sponsored event! Return of The Boom Zap and 45 Sessions (both hugely successful Bay Area parties) are combining efforts for a killer night this coming Sunday. I’ll be playing records with some very esteemed gentlemen in the Bay Area, most of whom are past and current Nerdtorious contributors as well as some of the best DJs and notable collectors around. Peep more about the party (and come out!) if you’re in the area. We’re playing all 45s, all night– or as Cutso put it: “Small records, Big sound!”

Still Rising…

Plug 1 and Plug 2 of De La are reinventing themselves (sorta), taking on monikers Dave Jolicoeur and Kelvin Mercer for their new project, First Serve. Though it’s more of an excuse to mess around and possibly explore newer avenues of output, First Serve seems like a modern De La project with a party vibe, plenty of laughs, throwback nods and a Handsomeboy-esque approach.

You can see more on the release on their Soundcloud page or peep their Tmblr to get a sense of the humor and aesthetics of the project.

In addition to the ensuing hype, peep their Goon Time Mixtape below, a party mix featuring some odd pairings, mainstream mashups and an old school party vibe– most importantly, it showcases the new First Serve joints. They might blow up but they won’t go pop!

Happy Doomsday!

Happy birthday to Daniel Dumile AKA MF DOOM! We take this opportunity to revisit a past URB Magazine/Nerdtorious interview with the supervillain himself who was born on this day in ’71. Conducted right before BORN LIKE THIS was released, it’s an extensive look back on his career; from KMD, to collabs, to current. Read “Impending DOOM: Interview with Daniel Dumile” HERE. Best wishes D!

Catching Up With Mayer

I caught up recently with Mayer as him and his crew were out and about celebrating their upcoming tv gigs. The brief piece ran for URB and can be read HERE.

It’s been a longtime coming for Mayer, who first caught our (and everyone’s) attention with his debut, “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out“. We were the first to interview him right before he blasted into fame and subsequent world tours. Check out that interview HERE and stay tuned for his career moves (in another one of our interviews dude said he was “writing a new wave album”). Stay tuned!

Shouts From The Atlantic!

Nerdtorious was mentioned in the recent Atlantic! A few weeks back, Raj Dayal (writer for American Songwriter) contacted me for a piece he was researching, an upcoming article on one of the best labels of the last decade, Daptone Records. The story ran last week; “In a Big Year for New Soul, a Small But Influential Label Turns 10“, a great piece that speaks on Daptone’s rise but, more so, its influence on the modern music and its industry as a whole. Happy birthday Daptone! And many thanks to Raj and The Atlantic for the shout out!

Take a look at the self produced video below on Daptone’s first 10 years:

Brown Bless The Mic Like Gesundheit

I first heard of Danny on this joint off The Hybrid 4 release and dude continues to shine, even earning mainstream regard in Rolling Stone and Spin who listed his mixtape, XXX, as this year’s top rap album.

I briefly spoke to Danny for Ego Trip. As a definite bright spot this year for hip-hop, he talked about the time he first met Alchemist (an established producer by the time) before all the recognition rolled in. Unknown then, chances are we can expect a Danny Brown/Alchemist joint soon.

Action Packed Rhymes.

“Amuse bouche”, “duck prosciutto” and “Tunisian olives” are a few things Action Bronson raps about. The Albanian chef / Flushing, Queens rapper has been on a rampage with his Dr. Lector album and more recently (and more impressively) his Bon Appetit…Bitch mixtape.

The first thing that strikes you is the voice– he sounds like Ghostface, a lot like Ghostface. Dude can’t help but be born with the same voice as one of the best to ever do it but the comparisons are indeed merited. In fact, he could distance himself a bit more (Wallabee references aren’t helping). Having said that, his approach is different too; he’s a bit less sporadic, less funnier than Ghost altogether while his culinary nods do add a different (pardon the pun) flavor to his rhymes. Plus, the gritty NY production hits hard, an aesthetic that fits Bronson’s agressive blunt smoking, women chasing narratives.

His career is on the upswing and we dig what we’ve heard. Check his newest work, Well Done (produced by Statik Selektah), out next week. Stay tuned for an exclusive food related Q&A with Bronson coming soon!

For now, peep “Not Enough Words” off Well Done in stores next week.