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.

Drone Sweet Drone

El-P is one of those cats whose style gets more refined (and thrashy) with each release. If Funcrusher was his Bottle Rocket then I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead is his Royal Tennenbaums. His most recent release–Weareallgoingtoburninhell Megamixxx 3–was really slept on I thought. And the few recent glimpses of his newer work seem equally as booming, equally head rattling and layered. And while his rapping has never been aesthetically ear-catching to me, his writing has. Here’s a brand new one we just got; the uncensored version of “Drones Over BKLYN” done for Adult Swim. Classic El-P!

Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

(“Only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck / And still keep your attitude on self-destruct”- MF Doom)

Judgements aside, it’s no doubt that Amy was enormously talented. During her short span she made one of the best albums of 2006, Back To Black, a slick, modern ’60s throwback done with the help of the Dap Kings. And while people, for the most part, have fixated on her antics, it’s apparent she bolstered the modern soul revival, bringing it mainstream regard, opening doors for similar projects both commercial and independent. And she did so in large fashion simply by killing every track (with such ease, as seen HERE).

“It’s always the good ones that have to die.” RIP.

In addition to “Valerie” and “He Can Only Hold Her”, Amy’s cover of The Specials’ “Hey Little Rich Girl”, off The Ska ep, is one of her best.

Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

It’s been a couple weeks since the passing of the great Gil Scott-Heron. I refrained from posting on Gil because truth is, I’m not as qualified to speak on him as some recently have. He more than underscores everything that is hip-hop and is beyond the myriad of soundbites he’s credited for. Below are some (and my opinion, the best) examples of recent Gil tributes. All touch on his music and history within different contexts beyond the revolution not being televised.

* Gilles Peterson’s fantastic tribute mix, a great primer of classics and rarities

* Greg Tate’s obit on Gil for the Village Voice

* Jamie Byng’s touching piece for the UK’s Guardian

* The Melting Pot Blog’s very thorough radio show tribute

Some J.Rocc Stuff

I spoke with the Beat Junkies’ founder for a quick piece in this month’s DJ Times Magazine, which can be read HERE. His first solo joint, Some Cold Rock Stuf, came out just last month; original production and turntablism, a mix of Latin, Funk, Jazz, Disco filled with hip-hop variants.

Peep a snippet of ‘Chasing The Sun’ from Some Cold Rock Stuf. [Stones Throw, 2011]

The J. Rocc print (below) is an exclusive done by Dion Bello (dNA), a Bay Area artist and illustrator whose work can be found on the Illuskrate site. Thanks D!

Heart(s) of Gold

Finding Daptone 45s in my mailbox never gets old. This time was Charles Bradley with Menahan Street Band doing an all-time classic, Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’. It’s a great cover though Bradley at times deviates from the original melody too much for me. The Menahan arrangement is worth it alone though.

It also immediately reminded me of Boney M’s version. I’ve always liked their cover songs as cheesy as the German disco coverband sometimes were. This is off their album, Night Flight To Venus, which also has a great rendition of ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’. Lead singer Bobby Farrell passed in 2005 due to heart failure while in Russia, where apparently they’re still very popular. He was 61, RIP.

More Eccentricity

Numero just released Eccentric Breaks & Beats Vol.2, a followup to Vol.1 which was made using their outstanding (and astounding) catalog. Best of all, IT’S FREE! Below are some words from Numero’s chief officer, Ken Shipley, with whom we’ve spoken to before– read it here:

After we issued ‘Eccentric Breaks & Beats’ last year our inbox was suddenly flooded with junior producers looking to do something similar. A handful of sorta-okay-but-not-really-that-great entries were submitted, but none could touch the original Shoes boot. When Adam Calman from Parallel Thought dropped their entry into our lap a few days into the new year, we were eyeball-deep in royalties and couldn’t process how good the mix actually was.

It was played on computer screens, background to our Excel nightmare. Between ‘Pressed At Boddie’, the ‘Penny & the Quarters’ debacle, ‘Willie Wright’, ‘Salsa Boricua De Chicago’, ‘Father’s Children’, ‘Nickel & Penny’, and our looming Boddie box set, there seemed to be no room for another record. And rather than let EBB Volume 2 collect dust and play counts on our hard drives, we decided to let it live in the same manner that the original EBB had: unfettered. But perhaps best of all, we’ve decided to make it free.

If you bought Volume 1, you may’ve noticed our bite on the original ‘Ultimate Breaks & Beats’ cover concepts. We enlisted Eliza Childress, second runner-up in our Pressed At Boddie design contest to create another ridiculous/hideous cover, and we think she succeeded. That she turned it around in five days is perhaps more impressive. — Ken Shipley

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>DOWNLOAD ECCENTRIC BREAKS & BEATS VOL. 2

New Nu-Mark.

Veteran DJ Nu-Mark’s new release sounds promising, a mix focused on Samba, Calypso, Balkan and other world rhythms. It’s called Take Me With You and is due out late January. Mochilla just posted this 20-minute mix in the meantime, serving as a peak inside the project. This ‘mix of the mix’ does the job and makes you want to hear entire thing. Head over to Mochilla and download it HERE.

Nu-Mark’s official debut album, Broken Sunlight, also comes out early next year.

2 decades of grooves

San Francisco’s Groove Merchant is one of the most celebrated and respected record shops in the world (Pete Rock famously spent weeks there thumbing though music). It’s really a hub of activity for DJs, musicians and music lovers alike, ran by knowledgable dudes who love what they do. This recent comp celebrates the shop’s 20 years in existence with selections from “behind the counter”. It’s filled with heat you (and I) have probably never heard of. O-Dub wrote the intro (and a nice post with music from the release), Props designed a limited t-shirt, and it’s put out by Ubiquity— I am, of course, taking some Bay Area pride in this, but it’s ultimately about the music and the shop that made it all happen. Pick it up HERE. I’m working on a story on the shop’s founder, “Cool” Chris Veltri, so keep an eye out in the months to come. Here’s to another 20 years.

en route with onra

‘I Wanna Go Back’

‘Relax In Mui Ne’

Parisian beatsmith Onra stopped by SF during a recent small tour that took him across major US cities. His visit reminded me of how much I dug his Chinoiseries, an instrumental release from ’07 with touches of Dilla and even early RZA, but with far out timbres and melodies all lifted from 30 or so Southeast Asian records he found in Vietnam. His latest, Long Distance, heavily deviates from Chinoiseries, sounding more like an electro boogie album than dusty boom bap. For a relatively new producer, dude’s already shown much versatility with a penchant for sampling the old and unusual. Glad he’s getting some shine. Peep a couple tracks from the Chinoiseries and purchase his latest album HERE.

RIP Cool Ruler

Funny, kind, and candid, Gregory was an utmost gentleman years back when we spoke for a feature story that just recently hit newsstands. He never really viewed his career in hindsight, feeling that it was “always ongoing” and feverishly recording and touring up until he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. The interview is one of the lengthier ones I’ve done, as Gregory patiently recapped almost his entire career for longtime fans. Gregory passed today at age 59 and it’s with a heavy heart that we celebrate his songs, life, and well-kept career. Below are my favorite recordings from reggae’s Cool Ruler. Rest easy, Mr. Isaacs.

‘Far Beyond The Valley’ off In Person [Trojan 1975]

‘Too Late’ a-side b/w ‘Each Day’ single [Success 1970]

‘Sun Shines For Me’ off Gregory Isaacs Meets Ronnie Davis [Plant 1979]

‘Each Day’ b-side b/w ‘Too Late’ [Success 1970]

‘My Time’ a-side b/w ‘Rockers Time’ [Gussie76 1978]

Riddim & News

Very excited to have written the story above for the new issue of Wax Poetics. It’s been years in the making and seeing it in print finalized an incredibly long process of emails, cold calls, miscommunications, and a lot of waiting around. But it ended well, standing as one of the few long, in-depth pieces ever done on the Cool Ruler himself, Gregory Isaacs.

This is the 43th issue of Wax Poetics and is dedicated solely to Reggae. I also added to the Re:Discovery section, writing about one of my favorite 45s, The Gaylettes’ cover of ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Listen to it HERE

Budos Giveaway!!!

Our homies at Daptone gave us the new Budos LP to give away. They also threw in this 45 (out of print) which was only available with pre-orders, featuring a track not available elsewhere. Purchase the release HERE and check out a song off the new album below.

‘Unbroken, Unshaven’ The Budos Band III [Daptone]

*** Send an email to NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with ‘Budos Giveaway’ in the subject for your chance at some new Budos vinyl. 2 lucky winners chosen at random. Contest ends in 1 week!

* CONGRATS JAMIE S. and SHAWN H. **YOUR RECORDS ARE IN THE MAIL! ***MORE GIVEAWAYS SOON!

Icelandic Pentameter

This new 45 on BSTRD Boots takes Toots and the Maytals’ ‘Peggy’, blending it with ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately’ by Janet Jackson. It’s the latest release by our bud and Nerdtorious contributor, DJ Platurn. The flip is a pretty nice take on Prince Buster’s ‘Al Capone’ too.

Listen to it here. Buy it here.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Platurn’s Breaking The Ice series for some more rare Icelandic goodies.

Tru Thoughts Giveaway!!!

Tru Thoughts, the ever expanding decade old UK label, gave us tons of CDs and a collection of their newest projects to give away; 4, by The Bamboos, the Saravah Soul project, the latest Zero dB album, and a couple others. 1 grand-prize winner gets the entire set of new projects (5 CDS!) and 20 other winners gets the newest Tru Thoughts compilation. Winners chosen at random.

Answer the following question and send it to NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with “Tru Thoughts” in the subject. Winners announced in 3 weeks.

An early Tru Thoughts signee, Bonobo, eventually went onto to work with Ninja Tune. What other Ninja Tune affiliate currently sits on Tru Thoughts’ roster?

Answer: Hint

Winner: Samuel K.

Thanks to everyone who dropped us a line! More giveaways soon!

Words Manifest

It wasn’t mostly the voice, it was mostly the consistency–indeed, a daily operation. Guru (right) and Primo are a prime example of a rapper and producer perfectly meshing. Their output married and listeners benefited for decades. I spoke with Guru a few years back and, of all the older, revered artists I’ve interviewed, I never thought I’d be writing on him in this uneasy light. But his work lives on. RIP.

Read my 2007 interview with Guru for Wax Poetics

Read a very candid recent interview with Primo by Rob Harvilla of the Village Voice

Download Matthew Africa’s recent Gang Starr Mix

DVD Giveaway!

It’s almost rare to see a Rap DVD that doesn’t suffer from poor production quality. Most, regardless of huge budgets, seem thrown together for some reason. I just reviewed the new Jam Master Jay documentary which was NOT the case AND was able to snatch an extra copy for our readers! Peep my review HERE for more on the film.

To get a copy of 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay send your name and address to NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with “JMJ” in the subject.

Winner chosen at random by week’s end. Good luck!

Congrats to Dom L. out of Colorado! Your DVD is en route!

Raise It Up For Ma Dukes!

Here’s a track mixed and mastered by Bob Power, the grammy award-winning producer who worked on Tribe’s and De La’s early records. It’s from the Timeless Series which were held earlier last year. The DVDs and music will be released as an ultra-deluxe boxset this March, but for now, here’s the orchestral version of “Take Notice” off Dilla’s Rough Draft EP and a link to the video. The “Suite For Ma Dukes”, and said track, really add dimension and a sense of epicness to Dilla’s beats. Take notice.

“Take Notice” by the Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and the Suite for Ma Dukes orchestra

Arthur Ponder’s Dr. Strangelove

One of my favorite audio blogs, Derek’s Daily 45, asked me to drop by a few weeks back. In fact, we ended up swapping posts. You can read (and listen) to Derek’s post HERE. Below is my quick contribution to his site. Thanks D!

“Dr. Strangelove” by Arthur Ponder

I first heard this on a mixtape years ago. “You know, that song where he says ‘Doctor Strangelove’ over and over in the chorus,” I’d ask people I knew. No one had info besides the occasional, “Does it have anything to do with the film?” “No,” I’d say.

This year I finally got it. I wish I could say I found it digging in Georgia somewhere, but it was Ebay. So here we are:

Arthur Ponder began his career singing with Johnny Jenkins, a left-handed guitarist and known influence on Jimi Hendrix who also played on Otis Redding’s early work. Not much info exists on Arthur himself, who recorded for Capricorn Records, a Georgian label founded in the late ‘60s known for spearheading Southern Rock led by their biggest signee, The Allman Brothers Band.

Arthur’s credited for additional vocals on other projects and also cut singles for Trey Records, another local Georgian label. He continually, albeit very quietly, put out material well into the ‘80s as far as I know.

I’ve since heard Arthur’s other work, but “Dr. Strangelove” is his defining opus: a song where he teeters on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the chorus, and where steady drums and a beautiful bassline propel the arrangement for roughly 3-minutes. The singing is so pained but the music’s so sunny. It was both written and produced by Eugene Davis. It’s killer Georgian soul, overtly filled with so many warm elements that can grab you. Hope you dig it.

Daptone Contest!

We’re happy to announce the first of some major contests with Daptone Records!

This time, 2 winners will get this HOUSE OF SOUL SHIRT and 1 winner will get this DAPTONE COLLAGE POSTER! Like the label itself, both items are real classy!

The 3 winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends December 18th 2009. Goodies will be in your stockings by X-mas! Correctly answer this to win.

Q: Daptone was founded by two dudes. What are their names?

Easy right? Send the correct answer to NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with “Daptone Contest” in the subject. Good luck!

Subscribe Yo!

It’s that time again: our friendly reminder telling readers to SUBSCRIBE!

Our subscriptions are still going strong, but the more the better. In fact, there’s many different ways to subscribe and none of them require much info or time. And there’s no spam or anything else intrusive.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE NOW!!!

Some stuff we’re working on:

– An exclusive interview with Edan about his killer new project, Echo Party!

– Guest spots from DJs, musicians, and writers we dig: Dam Funk, Derek See, Cosmo Baker, Amir (of Kon & Amir), Binky Griptite, Prince Po, Vivian Host, Dan Ubick, Sam Sever and more!

– An interview with Alan Palomo, the producer behind Brooklyn synh-pop-ish dance-rock-ish band, Neon Indian.

– NERDTORIOUS MIXTAPE Vol. 1 : A blend of choice cuts ranging from funk, psych, soul, garage, and rare joints you’ll hopefully dig!

– An interview with pioneering filmmaker, Jamaa Fanaka. This one is a long time in the making, so stay tuned!

– Contests and giveaways with labels we love! Up next: we’re building with Daptone, so expect a slew of Daptone related giveaways!

– A talk with The Whitefield Brothers! Their new album, a world-psych project features El Michels Affair, Edan, Percee P, Poets of Rhythm, The Dap Kings and more! Stay tuned for this one!

– Way more!

MC Bobby D

THE DZA

I’m checking my facts for an upcoming Kurtis Blow article and found out about a “duet” that features Bob Dylan “rapping”. Dylan just says a couple lines at the beginning which is later chopped and replayed throughout song (all 8 minutes of it!). But he’s not doing spoken word or just talking; it sounds like he’s trying to rap—or at least imitate what rap at the time sounded like. The track isn’t memorable, nor does Dylan exactly spit hot fire, but it’s funny and he sounds exactly like how you’d imagine. I have tons of questions and wish I had known about this before I spoke with Kurtis. For kicks, here’s a snippet of just Dylan’s part:

“Street Rock” by Kurtis Blow featuring Bob Dylan (snippet)

You can hear the entire track on youtube HERE.

Orchestrated Funk

I recently interviewed “Music Man” Miles Tackett, the cellist, producer, DJ, bassist and guitarist of Breakestra. If you haven’t already, check out their latest LP, Dusk Till Dawn. It’s funky and filled with all kinds of nice grooves. My talk with Miles recently went up on Soul Culture, a London-based music site focused on soul and all its modern tangents. Check the interview along with a couple great Breakestra joints below.

“Inner City Blues” (Live Mix Pt. 2)

“Got To Let Me Know” (Hit The Floor)

———–>> Miles Tacket Interview

80 Blocks From Tiffany’s (video)

classic-ny-street-gangs (2)

In the coming weeks, some coverage will likely renew interest for 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s, the 1979 documentary on New York street gangs directed by Gary Weis. It captures the end stages of South Bronx gang culture; the high unemployment, violence, racial overtones, angst, and just the overall social decay hip-hop came from. Grainy footage of city scenes, gang uniforms, and the interviewees’ lack of self-awareness make this a valuable time-capsule of urban American history.

I was lucky see this many years ago as a teenager working in a video store. It’s not available on DVD (not yet anyways) and VHS copies can go for hundreds. But thanks to the internet, you can watch it for FREE in its ENTIRETY… Continue reading “80 Blocks From Tiffany’s (video)”

The Funk Soul Brother: New Lord Finesse Interview

ness and joe

Lord Finesse, pictured above with Presentable Joe, is an ALL-TIME favorite. He projects such attitude and always comes with hilarious, bull’s-eye punchlines. I still chuckle to the same verses I’ve heard a thousand times. We spoke some months back where he was full of stories about D.I.T.C., stories that shouldn’t be missed if you’re into small histories behind amazing records.

Our interview ran as a Record Rundown for Wax Poetics issue #35 and the remaining portions of the interview (in my opinion, the more interesting parts) were recently published over at Wax Poetics’ site. You can read it in its entirety HERE.

Also, here’s one of the best battles ever: Finesse and Percee P from ’89. The footage is grainy, but both wreck shop. Ness slays it in part 2… Continue reading “The Funk Soul Brother: New Lord Finesse Interview”

Black Dynamite Giveaway!

black_dynamite (2)

Black Dynamite, Scott Sanders’ new hilarious spoof on the Blaxploitation film genre, is currently playing in limited runs across the country (to stellar reviews) so click HERE and request to see it in your area. PLUS, the film has two—that’s right, TWO—accompanying soundtracks! The original score and the soundtrack itself are available now.

To score FREE COPIES OF BOTH SOUNDTRACKS just send an email wth your name to NERDTORIOUS@gmail.com with “Black Dynamite Contest” in the subject. Winners will be chosen at random from all entries received. The contest ends in one week, November 9th ’09…SPREAD THE WORD…ENTER NOW!

CONTEST HAS ENDED…THANKS FOR ALL THE ENTRIES…WINNER ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK!

Black Elvis Is In The Building

kool kieth (2)

Me: You’ve worked with so many different producers through the years. How have those experiences struck you?

Kool Keith: If you just got off the plane from 42nd Street with crazy people yelling at you, and bums on the streets, and piss-filled elevators, and people upset, and traffic, and all that mess, your style isn’t gonna mesh with a producer who’s from a sunny meadow… they made the beats in their beautiful backyard, with a horse in their garden and poodles running around… I don’t want to rap over a fluffy beat from a producer who just picked flowers from his garden.

Read the rest of this new piece I did with Kool Keith on the recently relaunched Wax Po site.

One More With Mayer

mayer_

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

BRAND NEW MAYER HAWTHORNE INTERVIEW FOR URB

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

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

Large Pro uses payphone

LP_WPJ 05

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

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

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

Stones Throw Contest Winners!

VARIOUS-Stones-Throw-Ten-Year

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

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

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

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

Kid Cudi Cover

Photo taken by Raymond Leon Roker

Kid Cudi was cool when I spoke to him a few months back. He was mad grateful for all his recent success and came off like a very positive dude. My interview with him ran as the cover story for the current issue of URB (check for it if you’re a Cudi fan!). URB organized a photoshoot for the story, which you can check out here. And while I’m not a huge fan of the Kanye protege (in fact, not feeling “Day N’ Nite“), it’s always interesting talking to young cats doing big things.

SJ In SJ

sharon_jones (2)

I was able to get Sharon Jones on the phone for a quick interview last week. She was at the airport so I kept it brief, knowing she’d probably rather chill than be interviewed at a noisy airport. Besides, this was for The Metro and they tend to like short, almost generic interviews that introduce more than inform. Sharon was more than pleasant and will be in my backyard (finally!) this week for The San Jose Jazz Festival.

Read: Finally Soul’d Out: Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings Visit San Jose

greetings greetings

joelle phuong minh le

Joelle Phuong Minh Le, who goes by a mouthful of a name, Greetings From Tuskan, made a couple cool beats on her new collaboration project with Buck 65, Bike For Three. She’s this half-Vietnamese, half-Belgian beatmaker who kinda sounds like Boom-Bip, Jel, and Four Tet thrown in a blender. I thought it be interesting to talk to her real quick and ask her some real basic questions. REMIX kindly posted it. Check out the album More Heart Than Brains to hear more expert knob-twiddling via Ms. Le. Below is a cover of MC Shan’s “MC Space” , produced by Joelle from said album.

HEAR “MC SPACE” BY BIKE FOR THREE

impending doom: Interview With Daniel Dumile

(After cold calls and much thumb twiddling, I spoke to DOOM, a huge favorite who’s one of the most fascinating emcee/producers ever, and whose latest at the time of this writing, BORN LIKE THIS, is a loud exclamation point on a career that has shown tremendous artistic growth from KMD ’til now. His longevity, shape-shifting career, and lack of public exposure, all make for a rare breed of performer— the kind that shuns attention. Dude’s notoriously hard to get a hold of so here’s my long-awaited and rather extensive talk with the usually low-key Daniel Dumile. -DM)

doomonwhite1

 

KMD, Know Mr. Dumile:

DOOM explains BORN LIKE THIS, talks own history, and draws line between himself and written characters

Daniel Dumile’s gift is the ability to be totally engrossed in and devoted to whatever his character does. He flouts criticism –even from his own fans– and has been doing so for a while, since the ’80s. This is how he teeters between mainstream success and inde-rap stardom. BORN LIKE THIS, is more of the same, with guests (Slug of Atmosphere and Raekwon, for example) that reflect his presence across rap spectrums. Production-wise, Dilla, Madlib, and Jake One have a song each while DOOM manned the rest. But without a doubt this is all Daniel Dumile, or DOOM rather, and certainly a standout from his cache of celebrated work. Here we find is DOOM at his most strange, most gruff, weird, and somewhat confessional.

As a rapper, as an interview subject, he’s been notoriously elusive, often silent come promotion time. Antics aside, he remains a totally uncompromising artist, standing tall on rap’s list of all-time consistent emcee/producers. As unapproachable as he’s been with journalists, the guy behind the persona is anything but. He starts our long-scheduled interview with: “Sorry it took this long man! Not trying to discriminate! How are you doing today? What’s your name man?” Hardly a mean guy, definitely a normal dude, Dumile details with candor and insight to all my questions on all things DOOM.

Let’s start with the mask. Why wear one?
It’s really just another character. Zev Love X was a character too, most people think that’s me but he wasn’t. They’ve all been characters. The DOOM thing is to be able to come at things with a different point of view. I decided the mask would just add to the mystique of the character as well as make DOOM stand out. I though it’d be an easy way for people to see and differentiate between characters, sorta like when an actor gains weight for a role. Throwing on the mask was just a good way to switch it up. King Geedorah and Vik are characters too for example.

Continue reading “impending doom: Interview With Daniel Dumile”

re:Discovery – Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

I was stoked to contribute to Waxpoetics’ Re:Discovery series recently. Besides being a fan of the series (which always exposes me to lost, overlooked albums), writing-wise, it allowed me to contextualize the music however I chose—which was freeing and really fun. If you haven’t heard Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto, and you like ’70s Philly soul, go check it out.
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(Originally ran in Waxpoetics issue #33, The Philly Issue)

Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto
(Philadelphia International Records) 1977

The planets were aligned for change in 1977. The Vietnam debacle had ended and President Carter begun issuing pardons for nearly ten thousand draft evaders. In the postwar glow, America’s War on Poverty surfaced with renewed boldness. Politicians were reinvigorated and, more importantly, listening.

A wail came from Philly by way of Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto, a Philadelphia International Records comp featuring elites of “The Sound of Philadelphia,” a style that had long dominated R&B charts. Kenneth Gamble (owner of Philadelphia International Records) combined his biggest acts—The Three Degrees, Billy Paul, the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Lou Rawls, and others—to raise concern about Philly’s growing ghettos. Gamble is quoted on the back as saying: “Anything physical has to first start as a thought…there’s a message in the music.”

Bobby Martin’s arrangement of “Ooh Child”, performed by Dee Dee Sharp Gamble, is pessimistic, dark, and nowhere as sunny as previous recorded versions. The Intruders’ resounding “Save the Children,” paired perfectly with Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Old People,” showed the generational effects of diminished opportunity. And Billy Paul’s buoyant “New Day, New World Comin’” wove some hope into the record’s ten-songs.

Yet the title track is the project’s real centerpiece. Written by Gamble & Huff and Carey Gilbert, “Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto” is a posse cut of epic proportions. The Philadelphia International All-Stars consisted of Lou Rawls, Billy Paul, Archie Bell, the O’Jays, Teddy Pendergrass, and Dee Dee Sharp Gamble. Rawls pleads for “cleanliness” and “safety” on the opening dialogue sequence, followed by each artist echoing the sentiment, each in their own distinct fashion. Aesthetically, hefty bass and washes of harmony usher the song along for eight-minutes. And while it’s hard to measure the effect of a single recording, it certainly voiced concerns of a voiceless minority, as all the profits from the record went towards local community development as promised.

Kenneth Gamble went on to redevelop South Philadelphia for decades, and Let’s Clean Up the Ghetto marked the start of his community-minded efforts. The project is a timely battle cry given that education, affordable housing, and job creation remain dominant hurdles in many communities of today. With Obama now at the helm, let’s hope populist issues will no longer be approached with elitist policies.

Meet Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel

I had to wait to post this link because it crashed due to the overwhelming number of visits it (immediately) received. Kutiman and his camp didn’t get to properly launch the video, but now they’re keeping up with crazy demand, and here it is.

Check out: THRU YOU: KUTIMAN MIXES YOUTUBE

I interviewed Kutiman a few months back when he released his debut full-length on Melting Pot Music. Read to find out more about him, his background, and musical influences.

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(Originally ran in Waxpoetics issue #29)

Rhythm has a funny way of crossing borders. After all, you wouldn’t expect the streets of Tel Aviv to pound funk and afro-beat rhythms well into the night. But the large Israeli city, situated on the Mediterranean coastline, has been bustling with drums Tony Allen would approve and grooves The Meters could’ve dug.

“The groove scene here is great and is positively growing each day,” says twenty-five-year-old musician, Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel. “But I have nothing to compare it to. I’ve never lived anywhere else, or seen any other music scenes. I know we have some great musicians here, and at the same time, people are discovering music filled with flavor and rhythm,” he says proudly.
Continue reading “Meet Ophir “Kutiman” Kutiel”