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HIGH FIVE MARINERO.

Now that I’ve sat with Marinero’s Trópico De Cáncer, his Needle to the Groove debut, I wanted to know more about what went into the songs, the person behind the music, other songs that inspired these ones.

Trópico… is spacey, sensitive, beatific, Los Freddy’s-esque, a little bossanova too. To shed light on the inner approach of Jess Sylvester, the songwriter behind Marinero, we asked Jess to share with us FIVE enormously impactful records that were foundational inspirations behind Trópico De Cáncer.

It’s eye-opening to have thoughtful artists narrow down prominent works that framed their own– and we’re always grateful when they take time to do so. Thanks Jess!

Antena – Camino del Sol (Numero, 2004)

This record is basically ’80s French-Belgian electro-bossa. It’s like ’80s outsider music made by Astrud Gilberto fans. There’s even a song called “The Boy From Ipanema”, which is basically a darker, synthier, and more monotonous version of the original. The title track “Camino del Sol” is one of my faves though. I’ve even sampled it and used it for my other band Francisco y Madero on a song. I can’t tell you the song title because Napster might sue me, but it’s a track I find myself playing during long car rides from The Bay to LA when I’m in the company of friends who might not yet know it. I chose this album because I admire how Antena reinterpreted bossanova and did their own thing with it by using drums machines, synths, guitars with chorus, and solid hooks and harmonies. Even though the singer is French, her vocal style is smooth enough for any Sausalito style jazz or bossa combo.

Eydie Gormé & Trío Los Panchos – Amor (Columbia, 1964)

This is kind of a supergroup. Kinda like when Batman and Robin or the Harlem Globetrotters joined forces with Shaggy and the gang on an episode of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You. On this album, American singer Eydie Gorme teams up with one of my favorite bolero groups Trío Los Panchos. This is one of those records that your mom and tias get drunk to and sing along with, or sometimes even making up their own lyrics too. There are so many classic tracks on this record but when I was writing “Trópico de Cáncer” the song “Nosotros” was on heavy rotation. At the time I was going through some heartbreak and the line “No es falta de cariño, te queiro con el alma” would destroy me! I would listen to it on repeat and just cry my ass off. At the time, I even considered covering it.

Los Ángeles Negros – Y Volveré (Odean, 1970)

People usually refer to this band when they hear “Siempre en La Clave de D”. Even when we were recorded it in Guadalajara and played demos for our homies they’d say “Guao! Suena como Los Ángeles Negros y Los Freddy’s!”. And they were right! I totally lifted their vibe lol! I even made a little nod to their title track “Y Volveré” in the chorus when I sing “Siempre me sentiré…”. I definitely ripped off their organ and guitar style. It sucks because I love their sound so much! To be honest, I don’t really care and I plan continuously bite off Los Angeles Negros and other gruperos like Los Terricolas, and Los Pasteles Verdes on my next album. Don’t quote me.

Chico Buarque – Construção (Phillips, 1971)

Basically this a masterpiece. Here we have Chico Buarque, who is on this Bob Dylan level as a lyricist and is also an amazing singer and composer. String and horn arrangements on this album are incredible! Like scary good. I definitely get an orchestrated Danny Elfman vibe from the first song “Dues Lhe Pague” which has such a dark theme that’s reprised on the album again and again, even on the title track “Construção”. He’s basically one of my favorite songwriters or composers from that era in Brasil. My compa Benjamin Zarate, who played classical guitar and keys on “Trópico” showed me this album a few years back. When we were younger we both played in sorta psych sounding bands, and then in our thirties we got heavily into Brazilian music. In “Trópico” I used the melody from “Flor de Jamaica” and reprised it instrumentally in the middle of the song “Distant Lover”. That’s one thing that “Construção” inspired at least. I also don’t speak portugues so this album has been a slow discovery as to how lyrically deep it gets socially/politiacally, but musically alone, it’s an inspiration to me, as the finest example of what you can do conceptually and with an orchestra.

El Chicano – Viva Tirada (Kapp, 1970)

I sent Los Tíos de Oro, my backing band, tracks from this album to give them context for some of the sounds I envisioned before we recorded. This band has the “Brown Sound” similar to early Santana or Malo, but one characteristic of theirs that stuck with me was their jazzy guitar style where the guitarist uses octave chords to play melodies throughout the album. When we were in the studio recording Trópico… I made my lead guitarist Vicco copy this style hella. To the point where he thought it was a little too much and he basically told me to settle down. But if we had more time to record I would have added way more El Chicano inspired guitar parts. When I eventually played the album for my sister Sarita and she commented during the song “XPACHECX” saying it reminded her of El Chicano. Mission accomplished.

THE OFFICIAL WAX POETICS PODCAST #1

I can barely speak without fumbling words. Good thing my playa patna Nate LeBlanc is a complete natural at podcasting– and we were both lucky enough to sit down and speak in-depth with a favorite of ours, Del The Funkee Homosapien. We nerded out and broke down his illustrious sophomore release, No Need For Alarm. Not only does this stand as the deepest dive into the album, but it’s a first in a series of podcasts we’re developing for Wax Poetics and beyond. Take a look and have a listen HERE. And please, no boo-boo heads.

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PLATURN’S BREAKING THE ICE

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This project with DJ Platurn has literally been 10 years in the making (more if you count his lifetime’s worth of sourcing these records). The project is out at the end of the month on San Jose’s Needle To The Groove Records.

The mix is an astounding collection of obscure Icelandic funk, proto-rap, rock, soul, and disco, all expertly put-in-place by Platurn. The release comes with liner notes (by yours truly) and is limited to 1000 CDs with a booklet of awesome ephemera. To gain a bit more perspective on the BTI, here are some past blog posts which aided in the realization of the project. Peep the nice mini-doc (by Kicker Dixon) above and kindly purchase HERE).

Doris Troy:What’Cha Gonna Do About It?

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I’ve always loved Doris Troy before I even knew her work. As a 12 year old this Pepsi commercial  is seared into my memory (probably like all pre-pubescent dudes at the time.)  “Just One Look” is so iconic and just a perfectly recorded song in so many areas. I slept on this one recently but it certainly has all the right elements that made her other hit such a fine recording. Can’t get enough of this one.

MEEK SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH

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I’ve always had a love affair with Joe Meek’s music and strange life– “Telstar”, I always thought, would be the perfect dirge at my funeral. Meek was so innovative for his time, lacing spooky instrumentals with washes of echo and sound effects. He sang, composed, and famously produced so many songs, and a good number of them were weird and icy, mostly due to his innovations behind the engineering board. It was also said he had a weird obsession with Buddy Holly, claiming that he spoke to him from the afterlife.

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*“Sunday Date” by the Flee-Rekkers (1961)

Meek also infamously told Brian Epstein not to sign the Beatles and advised the Small Faces to get rid of Rod Stewart. His story ends with a crazy murder suicide that capped a career of eerie tunes and an obsession with the occult (he’d set up tape recorders at graveyards to ‘speak with the dead’).

Produced by Meek, “Sunday Date” by the Flee-Rekkers is one I’ve wanted for a while and just recently acquired. It’s distinctly Meek, sounding like a slowed down surf instrumental, melancholy and kind of pleasantly haunting.

These Are The Breaks: J-Zone’s Top Ten Drum Breaks

(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.

Continue reading “These Are The Breaks: J-Zone’s Top Ten Drum Breaks”

Boom Zap, Ba-Boom, Boom Zap!

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Danny Brown & Black Milk : “Zap”

Admittedly I wasn’t hugely into Black Milk’s catalogue but part of it, I came to realize, is how prolific dude’s been in the last few years. I spoke with him for the recent Wax Poetics and thought it was endearing that, to him, he finally “made it” when his parents came to one of his shows.

“My moms and pops were there! It was the first time after all these years that they saw me live. I knew right then and there this is what I’m meant for,” he said. While researching his work I re-listened to his Danny Brown collab, Black & Brown. As it now stands (and I consider myself a fan of Danny’s work) this album with Milk might be the only one where Brown’s abrassiveness doesn’t wear thin– don’t get me wrong, this Danny joint is still one of my favorite semi-recent rap songs. Peep the new Wax Po piece and here’s my favorite joint from the two; it thumps when the drums finally set in, and is such a hard, flashy moment in their young careers.

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

Doris & Kelley – “You Don’t Have To Worry”

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Doris & Kelley’s “You Don’t Have To Worry” was my favorite “new (to me)” song of 2013. Granted, it was released in 1967 to little or no acclaim but it flipped my wig this year when at a DJ gig in Bernal Heights with DJ Ferrari aka Forty Fivan. He played it, I ran to the speaker.

Ferrari said that night: “This ain’t hard to come by, but it ain’t cheap.” By far the most moving and impactful song I’ve been lucky enough to hear in 2013. Vocals are killer right out the gate and the arrangement doesn’t drag. I couldn’t find much on Doris or Kelley so please hit us with any info if you’ve got it! For now, enjoy the slow, sultry burner.

Glad to finally have this in my modest crates and glad to add the “audio” aspect back to the site, which, after all, is an “audioblog” first and foremost. More audio to come!

F*ck Being Hard, This New Mix Is Complicated

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This is the best mixtape I’ve heard in a long time. So This is De La Heaven 2 is the long-awaited sequel to DJ Platurn’s excellent De La tribute mix from 2003. The long gestation process has been fruitful, as the accumulated effort is apparent in the impeccable song selection, blending, pacing, and tasteful yet apparent ‘dj hand’ audible throughout. Though this is not just a straightforward exercise in playing originals into the tack that sampled them, some of the strongest segments consist of the unique ways that he re-contextualizes each track by comparing them with their source. The ‘Hey Love’ segment is a master class in utilizing turntable techniques to bring new context to beloved and intensely familiar tracks.

De La played a major role in expanding the sonic palette of sample-able material throughout their career, and Platurn is unafraid to get a little weird here, as you will notice when you get caught at a red light really enjoying bumping a Walter Wanderly instrumental. Props are due to Platurn for focusing on semi-deep catalog material like ‘The Patti Dooke.’ It’s a treat for the De La obsessives among us. Also incredible is the long section dissecting and interacting with the ‘Buddy Native Tongues Remix’. There are so many references both musical and verbal in that song that there may have been an entire mixtapes’ worth of material just in that song. How many dudes that you know could get an actual member of De La to drop an intro to their tribute mix? Platurn is that dude, and this mix is absolutely top-notch. Get it. – Nate LeBlanc

* To read more on the mix and order, please go HERE.

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!

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.

(DJ) DAY IN THE BAY

(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

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.

The Profiles – If I Didn’t Love You

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Released in 1968, this here is a choice 45, one that I play out whenever I can. It’s a hard, driving love number with irresistible doo-wop touches and the beginning alone thumps, sounding like something Prince Paul would’ve used. But it’s the vocals (and harmonies) that drive this, along with a lively arrangement anchored by sharp horn stabs. I picked this up a while back in Chicago but can only gather that its origin is Detroit due to the label. Though certainly not a rare record, it’s a favorite with seemingly no information available anywhere (hit us with any info!).

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.

Guest Spot: Stacy Gueraseva

(A friend to blog, my collaborator, music journalist and author, Stacy Gueraseva was an obvious pick for this year’s guest spot series. Here, she covers two classics through her own immersion in ’90s rap prior to her renowned work, Def Jam Inc. Like her book, these picks have a timeless quality to them and best believe we’re stoked to have her back. – DM)

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Back in the late ’90s when I fancied myself a bedroom DJ with my Numark mixer and Technics tables, I made a monthly pilgrimage to a record store in Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall called Beat Street. I say pilgrimage because when you lived in Manhattan, like I did, late 90s Brooklyn was still a bit of another country. Pre-Barclays Center’s Times Square-style descent upon downtown Brooklyn, the Fulton Mall, a bustling outdoor shopping strip filled with jewelry and discount clothing stores, was the true essence of Brooklyn. There was simply no other place like it on the planet.

I may have looked like a bit of an anomaly at Beat Street, but it didn’t matter. I fit right in, because everyone at Beat Street was there for the same reason; man, woman, black, white, we were all united in our passion for hip hop. As soon as you descended into the basement store, you were greeted by eye candy unlike any other: row upon row of records, vintage and new, way below Manhattan prices. My pulse would quicken; it was shopping time. I knew I would be walking out of there with a nice stack—instrumentals, vocals only, remixes, promo releases—without breaking the bank.

More than half of my record collection came from Beat Street. Reading the liner notes of these is like thumbing through pages out of hip hop history books: names of places and labels that no longer exist. Loud Records…. D&D Studios…the Hit Factory (which was converted into condominiums in 2005). The following two vinyl cuts, for artistic and sentimental reasons, remain some of my most treasured.

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ATCQ feat. Faith Evans: Stressed Out (Raphael Saadiq Remix) [Jive, 1996]

To me, this single off Tribe’s fourth studio album, “Beats, Rhymes and Life,” is one of the best showcases of the unique vocal dynamic between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, a perfect example of how their respective flows differ yet compliment each other perfectly. The song is affirmative, almost soothing, with the kind of soulful, laid-back vibe that could only be crafted by the hands of Raphael Saadiq. He, along with Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jay Dee comprised the production crew The Ummah, which produced the album.

This remix is mellower than the original version, more layered, and also more emotional. “So nowadays I go see wifey just to keep from stress / lay my head on her breast / Sugar dumpling knows best / Explaining all my problems to her / Getting things off my chest…,” Phife raps, in a departure from his typical braggadocious rhymes. Q-Tip, meanwhile, is philosophical as ever, examining the human condition in a way only he can—”Your whole being comes from greatness”—as Faith Evans sings in her warm tone, as though giving the listener a big vocal embrace: “I really know how it feels to be stressed out… We’re gonna make this thing work out eventually.” It’s kind of like a big bowl of hot soup on a rainy day; it hits the spot, when you need it most.

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Mos Def: Ms. Fat Booty [Rawkus, 1999]

While on the subject of Tip, I’d like to take it back to the night of December 2nd, 1999. The scene: Kit Kat Klub on Manhattan’s theater district, filled to the brim with everyone who was anyone in the hip hop industry, gathered to celebrate the release of Q-Tip’s first solo album, “Amplified.” The mood was high, everyone was dancing, girls rocking Baby Phat, guys in Northface jackets and Phat Farm parkas, the air was filled with anticipation of the impending new decade and all of its futuristic promise.

Jay-Z was there too, and so was producer Lance “Un” Rivera. At some point, there was a momentary scuffle, but it was cleared out quickly. No one quite knew what happened, until later, when we learned that Jay-Z had in fact stabbed Rivera. Ah, rappers…The party continued, and so did the head-bangers. The DJ dropped all the best songs at the time, like “Still Dre” by Dr. Dre with Snoop Dog. There were so many juicy cuts of hip hop that it would have been hard to blast through them and come out with something truly remarkable. And then, just as I observed, in disbelief, Prince—decked out in a white suit, flanked by three bodyguards—walking in and sitting down a mere few feet away from me, I heard it: Mos Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty,” clocking me upside the head with its beat, fatter than any beat I heard that night. It was vintage and new, sexy and hard, quintessentially New York, with lyrics that were at the Slick Rick-level kind of storytelling, but with a dash of dry wit. (“Ass so fat that you could see it from the front.”)

Soon enough, I was going down to Beat Street to buy my own copy, and then listening to the instrumental over and over, examining the complexity of the layering and sample use (***courtesy of Aretha Franklin’s “One Step Ahead”) on this unique song. It is an underrated but genius track, and will forever live in my mind as the finest example of the great potential and promise of 20th century hip hop music.

** Aretha Franklin : “One Step Ahead” (Columbia, 1965)

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.

Breaking The Ice pt. 3

[Our homie and frequent contributor DJ Platurn hit us with this, the 3rd and final installment of Breaking The Ice, a three-part series highlighting these immensely ill, not to mention very rare, Icelandic records Platurn grabbed when in the motherland. His brainchild The 45 Sessions (which I’ve been honored to be a part of) reaches its boiling point next month when famed producer Just Blaze headlines. Don’t miss it or Platurn’s ongoing works, including an official full-length release of Breaking The Ice with liner notes by yours truly. But for now, peep this terrific bookend to the series.– DM]

Trubrot: “Hr Hvit Skyrta Og Bindi b/w A Little Song of Love”

Although only one LP, an EP, and couple of 45s to their credit, I think it’s safe to say that Óðmenn (translated literally as ‘mad men’ or ‘crazy men’) is my favorite all time Icelandic band–with Trúbrot coming in a close second. Their sounds were similar and I believe they shared some sessions players — easily the finest groove based prog rock out of Iceland in the ’70s came from these two outfits.

This particular 7″ is especially interesting — as far as I know none of these songs appeared on any of their albums. On the b-side, ‘Hr. hvít skyrta of bindi´ (Mr. White Shirt & Tie) segue ways into ‘A Little Song of Love’, not something you commonly hear on a 45. When it’s two songs to a side then the tracks are usually seperate and it’s considered an EP. This particular record has a track entitled ‘Starlight’ on the back — not a bad song in itself but much more folky in comparison to the more, almost b-boy-esque feel of Mr. White Shirt.

The lyrics are also poignant, touching on subdued hints of being a mindless drone who doesn’t know who he/she is while trudging through life with little meaning, other than wearing a suit and tie and pleasing Mr. Boss Man. The lyrics of ‘Little Song’ are a simple ode to the joys of innocent love, with a fresh flute intro that could have easily been flipped by one of DITC’s finest in the mid ’90s.

This single is a true gem, a rare piece of bad ass music from one of Iceland’s finest and is incredibly hard to find.I first heard this 45 from my cousin Sveimhugi, the other half of my excavating journey through Iceland’s lesser known wax history. Still trying to find my own, but in the meantime the motherland based half of the duo currently claims the only copy I have access too (him and I are the ones who initially began the ‘Breaking The Ice’ journey). This will be the last post until the whole compilation actually drops, brought to you in part by Nerdtorious dot com and with even more extensive insight, liner notes, and stories of diggin’ thru Middle Earth. Enjoy! – DJ Platurn

CUMBIA MONSTER MIX = ¡GUEPA CARAMBA!

(This is hands down our favorite mix of the year. Alex LaRotta is a friend to the blog (and to the most excellent Musica Del Alma whose new mix is bonkers). He’s also co-founder of the Alamo City Soul Club and is completing his thesis at Texas State on San Antonio’s “West Side Sound” (i.e. Chicano Soul) of the late ’50s and ‘60s, tracing the narrative history of the local music industry and the introduction of artists like Sunny and the Sunliners, Royal Jesters, Spot Barnett, The Webs, etc. Hopefully we’ll hear from him as he ascends into academia. Immense thanks to Alex for unleashing this exclusive, utterly awesome mix of Cumbia cuts! – DM)

——————> LINK TO DOWNLOAD ¡GUEPA CARAMBA!

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

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.

“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.

In Review: Q&A with Water Borders

(Though we typically cover tangents of hip-hop, funk, and soul, it’s fun to diversify here and there. The following piece is from Gabriel Ramos, a San Francisco native and musician who records as Ssleeping DesiresS. Here’s a rather in-depth q&a with fellow upcoming SF-based electronic troupe, Water Borders. Thanks Gabe! – DM)

By Gabriel Ramos

I first learned of Water Borders in late spring of 2009 while working in a warehouse. One of my co-workers was Amitai Heller, a member of the group. One morning, before the work day officially begun he handed me a CD-R wrapped in torn newspaper with “Water Borders” scrawled on it and said something along the lines of: “Here’s what I’ve been working on. Give it out to as many people as you want.” I tucked it away in my bag and threw it on shortly after arriving home. The first track “Even in The Dark” immediately entranced me not even 10 seconds in. “What is this?” I thought.

It was inevitable that I wouldn’t be the only one captivated by their music. It seemed like a blink of an eye between my introduction and the group unleashing a slew of carefully crafted releases on a myriad of smaller but much lauded labels. A 6-song release on witchhouse epicenter label Disaro, a 12″ EP on the blog 20 Jazz Funk Greats’ label Hungry For Power, and a cassette on Skrot Up. And in October 2011, they released an official full length on one of the UK’s most prominent up and coming labels of the year, Tri Angle Records. In addition to this prolific output of material, simultaneously Water Borders released free mixes and remixes through their Soundcloud profile and a variety of blogs and online magazines.

In early February I had the pleasure of interviewing the two men behind this murky electronic project. Comprised of Amitai Heller and Loric Sih, both formerly of gothic art punk collective New Thrill Parade, Water Borders, in a short span of existence, have carved out an impressive and significant niche for themselves within the darker regions of the electronic community.

I wanted to start from what I imagine would be the beginning. I was curious about the transition between your past group, New Thrill Parade, to your current one, Water Borders.

Amitai Heller: We were in a suburb of Atlanta, on tour, doing karaoke, it was someone’s birthday. We were on a grueling two month tour.

Loric Sih: Grueling.

Continue reading “In Review: Q&A with Water Borders”

Firewire: Interview w/ Lateef The Truthspeaker

(Lateef at one point was the most vicious MC around, especially on songs like “The Wreckoning” (produced by DJ Shadow) an aggressively dark track where he details the decomposing body of a dead MC on the second verse. It was unlike anything then (or now really) as him and Solesides aka Quannum took over the West Coast. Here’s a recent talk I did for URB with Lateef, one of the most creative and genuine dudes who’s built quite the career over the last couple decades– DM)

“21 Gun Salute” ft. Lateef and Headnodic (Production by DJ Platurn)”

Hailing from the West Coast’s Quannum Projects (home to DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Tommy Guerrero, Pigeon John, etc.) Lateef The Truthspeaker is a longtime MC with deep histories that precede him. As half of Latyrx (with Lyrics Born, half of Mighty Underdogs (with Gift Of Gab) and half of The Maroons (with Chief Xcel) there hasn’t been a shortage of output from the Oakland native. What is noteworthy is that, after all these years, after all the tours, all revered tracks, and a Grammy to boot, Lateef finally debuted with a long-awaited solo album, this year’s Firewire.

“I’m very happy with it” he says of the new album. “I always try to keep busy but it was nice to finally focus on just my own songs.” Lateef’s focus has been what’s driven him and his crew since they were college-aged kids in the early ‘90s when they were known as Solesides. It’s this early work that catapulted their subsequent careers, a body of work that ranks amongst the best West Coast has ever offered. And while “Lateef” translates as “gentle” in Arabic, Lateef the Truthspeaker is a vicious MC with a catalogue that precedes him. Here, we talk with this son of Black Panthers about work ahead in both political and musical realms, touching on some history, the time he battled Murs, the forming of Latyrx, old recordings and interesting new ones.

You’ve been doing this for awhile. Why so long for a complete solo project? Continue reading “Firewire: Interview w/ Lateef The Truthspeaker”

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.

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!

New Musica Del Alma Mix!

Our buddies at Latinfunk.org recently dropped this incredible mix courtesy of Japan’s Soul Bonanza site. In tune with past heat, my dude Adam aka DJ Slim Jenkins filled this mix with mas South of the border gems–fast, funky and con alma (with soul!). Stream or download after tracklist below!

01. ricardo flores – pachanga ricardo (corona, california)
02. lucho y su conjunto – prende la vela (latin, colombia)
03. orquesta casino – el mosquito (dicesa, el salvador)
04. alfredo gutierrez – salsa mona (costeno, colombia)
05. mario allison – salvaje (sono radio, peru)
06. el caballo – me gusta como bailas (corona, california)
07. pedro miguel y sus maracaibos – descarga maracaibo (iempsa, peru)
08. rafael labasta – labasta llego (cbs, panama)
09. wuelfo – bueno y pico (inca, nyc)
10. joe quijano y conjunto cachana – mani tostao (fuentes 7” press)
11. edmundo arias – cumbia morena (sonolux, colombia)
12. hermanos cortez – apolo nueve (arcoiris, nicaragua)
13. los rumberos – sun sun babae (polydor, germany)
14. mulatu astatke – ebo la la (philips, ethiopia)
15. fajardo y sus estrellas – pa’ coco solo (panart, cuba)

Hear DJ Slim Jenkins’ Me Gusta Como Bailas HERE.

Lonely Progeny


“Hey There Lonely Boy” is an American classic written by Earl Shuman and Leon Carr, recorded in 1963 by Ruby & The Romantics. It eventually charted at #2 in 1970 by Eddie Holman who famously covered the tune as “Hey There Lonely Girl”. It also was done again in 1980 by Robert John. And while John’s take is perhaps the least memorable, it’s 1980 version shows that “lonley” had legs that carried it almost 2 decades after it’s release.

The Decoders, Itai Shapira and studio musician Todd Simon (trumpeter/arranger for Mayer Hawthorne, TV On The Radio, The Lions, Dap Kings, Antibalas and Quantic) put out a new project and the lead single is another addition to the “Lonely” progeny. Overseen by Richard Rudolph (songwriter/producer and husband to Minnie Riperton) the project features Leon Ware, Coco Owino (Quadron) and a notable cast full of musicians both legendary and contemporary. Keep an eye out for future tunes from the LA-based duo and peep their classy take on a classic below.

“Hey There Lonely Boy” by The Decoders ft. Coco Owino

Keepin’ Up With The Joneses

I recently came across this record and was really struck by the sound; very Philly soul, lush arrangements with strings and Barry White-esque moments. Then I was struck by its cover; who’s the blurred dude with the big gut and hockey stick and why are they all staring at him? The Joneses were out of Baltimore and had a long string of hits before releasing their debut, Keepin’ Up With The Joneses in 1974 on Mercury. Though its a famous record, its history is new to me.

There were minor lineup changes but The Joneses remained mostly a vocal group through the late ’60s and early ’70s. Some earlier songs had more falsetto but their later releases (perhaps due to the Philly soul explosion) leaned towards deep vocals and an unrelenting backbeat that switched between disco and funk– or a hybrid of the two. But they had good slow jams too, notably “Please Let Me Stay” where he talks about how his “ego trippin’ days are through…” A sweet song and a standout on the LP, especially the changing deliveries during the verse, bridge, and hook. The song is a proclamation of change and is a sleeper joint on an album full of charting singles.

“Please Let Me Stay” off Keepin’ Up With The Joneses LP [Mercury, 1974]

While researching a bit on the group it seems that through all their hits, the one that gets top mention is “Sugar Pie Guy”, part 1 and part 2– both appear on the LP. It’s an uptempo number and shows the band’s easy blending of disco, funk, touches doo-wop and sweet soul. Their records also apparently showcased some of Baltimore’s leading studio musicians of the time.

To my surprise, the 45 version is even better than the LP versions! Same song with extended drums at the start, lower vocals and overall much harder bass and drums. It’s still sugary but there’s no beating this hard, 45 version of what is perhaps their most remembered recording. “Sugar pie guy don’t tell no lie…”

‘Sugar Pie Guy’ (7″ version) [Mercury 1974]

THE RETURN OF SOUL BOULDERS

Soul Boulders 2 has arrived, and it more than lives up to my ridiculously high expectations. As defined on the original mix’s packaging, Soul Boulders are slow, funky soul burners. Volume 2 hews closely to that theme, and incorporates some slightly left-of center ‘real-people’ moments that keep the listening experience lively. Revered Bay Area DJs and collectors DJ B.Cause and Matthew Africa have perfected the soul mix formula: Forgoing unnecessary intros and drops, assuring the songs are obscure without being rare for rarity’s sake, keeping the mixing minimal and letting the songs speak for themselves. Some tastefully chosen covers and forays into gospel broaden the sonic palette without distracting from the mix’s purpose. SB2 gets the Nerdtorious seal of approval! – Nate LeBlanc

Purchase the mix HERE or if you’re in the Bay Area wait until the physical copies arrive at Groove Merchant. Below are snippets off Soul Boulders 2 put together by B.Cause. “Part 2 in a series of carefully selected and mixed soul jams – for serious connoisseurs and casual listeners alike.”

Matthew Africa has been by Nerdtorious, read his post HERE. B.Cause will be dropping by with a guest spot soon, stay tuned!

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.

Dawn’s Arrival

Adrian Younge’s awaited second project, Venice Dawn, Something About April comes out this week via Wax Poetics Records. We’re fans of Adrian ever since he came correct on the Black Dynamite OST, producing, playing, composing and arranging the score and original music. Adrian (and his band) have been touring the US, bringing live show madness to audiences ever since. Peep our in-depth, exclusive interview with Adrian HERE and take a listen to “Thunderstrike”, a track off the new album which features Shawn Lee, the legendary Dennis Coffey and others.

“Thunderstrike” off the upcoming Adrian Younge presents Venice Dawn Something About April

* FREE download of Adrian’s Venice Dawn teaser EP (all original compositions) HERE

Gong Show: Chinoiseries Pt. 2

We’re glad to hear Onra’s back, especially since it’s a followup to his breakthrough release, Chinoiseries. The forthcoming Chinioseries Pt. 2 is also widely sample based, all taken from records Onra grabbed on his travels through Southeast Asia. The album’s lead single “A New Dynasty” is another gong-filled production, neatly clocking in at under 2-minutes; followed by “No Matter What”, the album’s second single. Peep Chinoiseries Pt. 2 out in a few weeks (and it’s promo video seen HERE to get a sense of Onra’s style and approach).

From the upcoming Chinoiseries Pt. 2 :

‘A New Dynasty’

‘No Matter What’

J Rocc Quantic Mix

Our friends at Tru Thoughts sent over this mix of Quantic’s career highlights, all strewn carefully together by J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of both or either artists. Quantic’s new release, a ‘best of’ 32-song double CD celebrates 10 years of music and is now available. Listen to the new mix below.

Ed. Note: Since we’re on the subject of Quantic, head over to Soul-Sides where Will Holland (aka Quantic) recently joined O-Dub for the always informative ‘Sidebar’ series, discussing his prolific and diverse career up to this point.

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.

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!

Pants on Fire

Snippet of ‘Darlin” off Love Craft

Multi-instrumentalist and Stones Throw intern-turned-artist makes random yet varied work– his first project was an electro-rap throwback and his second was a lo-fi post punk record. Both were interesting but never really stuck, at least with me. His latest, Love Craft, shows a lot of know-how underpinned with an uncompromising ethos. It’s also yet another reminder of Stones Throw recent deviation away from hip-hop.

I spoke to James for WaxPoetics issue #40 and he’s made more noise since. Peep ‘Darlin” off the new album. It’s a minimal, post-punk sounding garage track with doo-wop melodies and lyrics. And it works. Interested in seeing what dude does next.

Los Cinco Mejores Canciones!

(NERDTORIOUS has in the past worked with Musica del Alma given its solid selection and educational posts. So of course we’ve been following as its “Top 5 Latin Funk Tracks” have been announced in recent weeks. Numero uno was just unveiled and it doesn’t disappoint; a tune underscored with trumpets and trombones, rooted in Fela Kuti’s gorgeous catalogue. Follow the link to hear it (as well as the rest of the funky top 5!). – DM)




——->>>> LISTEN TO MUSICA DEL ALMA’S ALL TIME TOP FUNKY LATIN TRACK !!!

Breaking The Ice

(Here’s another great find by one of the hardest working dudes I know, DJ Platurn . Check some newer work of his available at Turntable Lab. And if you’re in the Austin area, peep his outrageous schedule at this year’s SXSW. Stay tuned for future installments of our ‘Breaking The Ice’ series which, as far as I know, is the only venue for Icelandic gems such as this.– DM)

Wuddup beat nerds, back once again with another from the cold Icelandic crates of Sveimhugi and DJ Platurn. If you read the last installment then you’re somewhat familiar with this series– basically these tracks were songs myself and my cousin unearthed in the motherland years ago; joints off Icelandic LPs and 45s that lie on the groovy side of things. We put them all on an unreleased comp called ‘Breaking The Ice V.1’ that never saw the light of day, until now.

‘Syrpa II’ Leikur Vinsæl Islensk Lög [SG Hljómplötur, 1970]

So ‘Syrpa II’ translates to ‘Medley Two’, a track off of an LP that literally means ‘Plays Popular Icelandic Songs’ by recording artist, producer, arranger and groovy Hammond player Þórir Baldursson. This LP is composed entirely of medleys of relatively well known Icelandic songs, none that would sound familiar to anyone outside of the indigenous population and primarily the generations before the last two or so. Continue reading “Breaking The Ice”

Funky Drummer

I had the pleasure of speaking with Tony Cook recently. Besides serving as James Brown’s main drummer for 30 years, Tony also made dance tracks and early rap records while in London in the early 1980s. His career and musical history is the stuff of legend.

Read my talk with Tony recently done for Wax Poetics HERE and check out ‘On The Floor’, a monster dance cut from the early ’80s now dubbed “The Grandaddy of All House Records”.

‘On The Floor (Rock It)’ by Tony Cook & The Party People

Fleeting Sweet Thing pt.2

I was intrigued with Tammi Terrell after coming across this recording a few years back. I’ve since grabbed most of her 45s and recently picked up Come On And See Me: The Complete Solo Collection , a 2-CD boxset of all her singles as Tammy Montgomery and arguably her best solo album, Irresistable. The second disc has live recordings, different takes, and unreleased songs.

”Baby Don’t Cha Worry’

‘Sinner’s Devotion’

This is probably the best, most complete collection of Tammi’s work. It’s available ONLY on CD and has been out for months now (admittedly, I’m real late on this). But I can’t remember the last time I even bought a CD, let alone one with so much great material. Plus, I wanted a some more Tammi on the blog.

‘I’ve Got Nothing’ To Say But Goodbye’

‘If I Would Marry You’

better with age

Collector and pal Adrian “Age” Mendoza sent me a copy of his newest 45 some months back. A fan of his Soulstrut mixes (and THIS latin/funk/soul/garage mix) I was also stoked to find a burn CD with “Owl Sessions’ cryptically written on it. Turns out it’s a random hip-hop mix, a pleasant surprise of classic rap from all over the map– Charizma, D.I.T.C., The Nonce and other stuff that makes me feel old. The selections all really hold up and the recording itself just sounds great. And it’s a NERDTORIOUS exclusive to boot; mixed on 3 turntables, 1 Vestax 06 Pro, A Stanton SA-3 Mixer & a Delay Pedal. Tracklisting and link below.

1)Typical Cats – “Take A Number”
2)Natural Resource – “Negro League Baseball”
3)D.I.T.C. – “Day One”
4)Nubian Crackers Feat.The Artifacts – “Can You Feel It”
5)Micranots – “141 Million Miles”
6)All City Productions Feat. Mysterme – “Unsolved Mysterme”
7)Eyedl Mode – “End of The Innocence/”Here comes the..” [partial end transition]
8)The Dereliks – “I Am A Record”
9)Tha Alkaholiks – “Turn Tha Party Out(Feat. The Lootpack)”
10)Casual – “Thoughts Of The Thoughtful”
11)Kurious – “Walk Like A Duck”
12)Jigmastas – “Execution”
13)Eric B. & Rakim – “In The Ghetto” (Mort Garrison/Age Plant Moog Remix)
14)Ahmad,Rass Kass & Saafir – “Come Widdit” [3 in 1 Edit]
15)The Nonce – “Mix Tapes”
16)Yaggfu Front – “Where’d Ya Get Ya Bobo’s?”
17)Charisma & P.B. Wolf – “Methods”
18)Outkast – “Elevators” [“Methods” Accapella Blend]
19)L’ronious – “In The C.O.R.N.”
20)Hobo Jubction – “It’s Just Not My Style”
21)Ugly Duckling – “Fresh Mode”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> DOWNLOAD “THE OWL SESSIONS” by AGE

* Hit up New Medina Music for info on Age and his upcoming work.

Butang Clan

‘Killa Bees LIve’ off Wudos Band [Wu-Tang/Budos Band]

This recent online release celebrates Staten Island’s gritty ethos, combining Wu-Tang with the Budos Band. Put together by Tekst (of The Higher Concept), a producer/engineer who’s worked with G Rap and Wu members in the past, The Wudos Band is considerably interesting if you’re a fan of both groups. It has a mixtape feel and Budos’ dark undertones matches quite naturally with Wu. It also makes you want a Budos/Ghostface project to happen. Give it a listen for free HERE.