“A Rose For Emily” is so gorgeous and so sad, bright and haunting all at once. A lot of their songs are that way. “Emily” is just a personal favorite but the Zombies seriously lay claim to so much high art material. We’d be remiss not to mention Odessey & Oracle, an immortal masterwork that’s rightfully considered one of the best things ever. Learn more about how it came together (more accurately, how it almost didn’t come together). Speaking with Chris White, bassist and one of the group’s key songwriters, was a HUGE honor. For Wax Poetics, READ IT HERE.
I spoke with Ruby maybe six or seven years ago, needless to say I’m very pleased to see it finally published. The story was meant to capitalize on her music’s reemergence due to a Q-Tip sample that was making its way onto everyone’s playlists at the time. But Ruby’s own history and colorful career runs deep– and her stories were so magical. The piece was delayed because we couldn’t get the high quality images we wanted to. But the other reason is simply because the interview went so well and her memories were so epic, that I kept it close to my chest, hoping and waiting to find the ‘right time’ to drop it.
Well, years later, I’ve learned that there’s never a bad time to publish evergreen stories that will one day outlive us all– the earlier these are shared, the greater the chance more will learn about these incredible artists while they’re around to see its impact. Read my interview with Ruby HERE. Thanks so much Ms. Andrews. What an honor.
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).
I wanted to get this post up since it’s been days since an update: The current issue of Wax Poetics (In print! On newsstands!) features my story on the venerable DJ Shadow. I don’t think I’m over speaking by saying this is the deepest piece ever on Shadow, his history and catalogue. It’s not only his origin story but is connected to so many deep, fascinating tangents of other histories; particularly Bay Area DJ culture and Mo Wax’s early days of dominance.
Check out some rad pictures and order it HERE. There’s a killer David Axelrod feature in here as well.
We’ll soon be unveiling a large story on DJ Shadow. It not only commemorates Endtroducing‘s two decade anniversary but is also a pretty sizable feature for the upcoming issue of Wax Poetics. I conducted the interview in his studio which was huge honor and HERE’S a sneak peak at some ill old photos from his personal documenting his origin story and subsequent rise.
I never really wrote about Prince (or for that matter, Bowie) when he recently passed. I mean, what can be said that hasn’t already been? And in any case, words seem inadequate in describing their immense work and influence.
Wax Poetics is however re-releasing a special version of their epic Prince issue containing some serious coverage that any Prince– or music– fan could devour. I covered Blood Orange in the issue whose work is a terrific reminder of Prince’s sonic progeny. Honored to be a part of the issue which you can grab HERE (before it’s gone forever!).
Man, been so busy I forgot to mention a recent cover story I did with one of the greatest ever– the uncanny, most venerable, most natural rappers to ever do it, Tony Starks himself, Ghostface. We went over hilarious ODB memories and pretty much detailed his entire catalogue, touching on rather baroque benchmarks and his profound prolific streak. As of this writing, the followup to his Adrian Younge collab, 12 Reasons To Die Pt. II, is slated for release, as is a VERY VERY much anticipated album with DOOM. Go HERE to pick up what I consider to be– at least up to this point– the most in-depth piece with Ghostface ever written.
UPDATE: Wax Po just made the entire piece available online. Take a gander HERE.
Pete Rock’s long-awaited followup to his Petestrumentals album is finally here. But unlike its predecessor, and partially due to the ever changing landscape of how people get their music, Petestrumentals 2 is available totally for free, featuring a memorable, head nodding tribute to Dilla (“Dilla Bouce (RIP)”). Go HERE for a listen.
Hearing this reminded me of a talk I did with Pete a while back; we discussed his famous production histories and essential records that profoundly inspired his own style. For example, when asked about the last time he spoke with Biggie, said Pete: “Man, it was right before he died. He told me: ‘Pete, my raps sound best with you and Large Pro. I love that shit!’ That was the last thing he said to me before he died, I swear.” You can read the article in full HERE.
* Published concurrently on www.waxpoetics.com
* ‘G Rap’ Image By Kori Thompson
G Rap’s early career was a minefield of shifty fictions anchored in large by a dizzying cadence and attention to detail. And while these early years were fleeting, they, like any true pioneers’ work, set the framework for younger cats to explore. Wu-Tang, Jay-Z, Nas, and Biggie were all spawned from G Rap, later citing his delivery and Mafioso street narratives as immensely impactful and of influence.
I spoke in depth with G Rap for Wax Poetics issue 58, touching on ballyhooed history and other watershed moments during his immensely rich upstart. But there’s so much more to his story, so many colorful characters that came and went in an era where Biz Markie had entirely long beatboxing routines and Big Daddy Kane rapped while doing vigorous dance numbers— all of it under the guidance of rap’s first super producer, the venerable Marley Marl. It was a showcase of fun and well roundedness that underscored the Juice Crew’s heyday.
To this day, the trajectory of his career and its catalogue has been a point of reference for so many, and here’s the rest of our interview, bookended by opulent moments of his storied rise. Says G rap: “I just had crazy confidence in myself. I knew that skill-wise, especially back then, I was an elite. I was untouchable.”
Even though most fixate on those first early records of yours, you’ve had a lot of artistic output since. What are you up to these days?
I’m working on a screenplay. I’m transitioning from rapper back to just writer and am working on concepts for short films. Some of the themes are taken from my old albums. I’m gonna start shooting short films of all these song concepts I’ve had through the years. I can’t wait to get in the field and just put art out there again.
Perhaps one of your well known is “Road To The Riches”. The video itself is remarkable. Talk about working with director Fab Five Freddy.
I was no older than twenty at that point even though I looked thirteen [laughs]. It was directed by [Fab Five] Freddy who I think did an excellent job. He’s from that element, he’s from the streets. He’s definitely a fan of hip-hop and captured what we were going for.
That song was taken from my real life experiences. I wasn’t literally sweeping floors for dimes but if you consider the minimum wage then, I was basically working for dimes [laughs]. It was just my life and things that were going on around me. I mentioned John Gotti because it was the topic of the times. Any part of the violence that I wrote about were things I saw, even if I didn’t directly participate in all of it. I mean, right before the video shoot, this Jamaican cat I knew shot this dude in my neighborhood. Later, the dude ended up killing the Jamaican cat. These were real life things and experiences that I took in.
Let’s talk about the Juice Crew explore that history a bit. How was it working with Marley Marl? He was already known and you were actually the newcomer to the crew.
He’s that dude! Needless to say, he’s one of the first, most innovative producers in the game. Marley was the first one where people knew him equally as much as the vocalist. His name stood out as much as Kane or Biz. It was like he set the format without rapping on anything. Everything he did was behind the scenes. He was in a skit and a video, which was cool since he was already so big and should’ve made himself more identifiable. Then (Dr.) Dre and RZA kind of became what Marley laid out— the dude in the studio that made everything happen and known to the listener.
How close were you guys as a unit? Did Marley keep things tight or were you really more or less affiliates? Continue reading “OG, Original Genius: Kool G Rap Interview Pt. II”
I believe I saw Bronson in SF around 2010 and have been a fan ever since, especially after hearing his mixtape (Bon Apetite…Bitch), Dr. Lecter, and his free internet release, Blue Chips Pt.I. Dude was intense and funny, made old WWF references, loved Kool G Rap, and talked about food. My story with the weedsmoking-gourmand is featured on the cover of the new Wax Po and Bronson was a great interview; super candid, hilarious, and grateful for the successes he’s had so far– he even addressed claims of him sounding derivative. We talked about hash, Wu-Tang, and plenty of food.
One of my favorite later Bronson joints is on Blue Chips 2, as you hear below:
Action Bronson (production by Party Supplies)- “Midget Cough”
I learned from O-Dub that the sample source was some Filipino band called Joe Cruz and the Cruzettes. Hear the OG version below, with its slow groove that kind of oozes along. Says O-Dub:
“I don’t know very much about Joe Cruz except that he and the Cruzettes were largely a lounge act with heavy Brazilian/bossa influences. Most of their albums claim to have been recorded at different tourist hotels in the Philippines, including the one “Love Song” appears on (which is, by far, their most obscure LP from what I’ve seen).
Their version of “Love Song” came out in 1973 (supposedly) which would mean they were covering Lani Hall and not the other way around. It’s also notable that Hall’s album had a release in the Philippines.”
Joe Cruz & The Cruzettes – “Love Song”
* Bronsolini Sketch by Kori Thompson
* Grab The New Issue of Wax Poetics HERE.
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.
“The former soloist whose flow was sick,
The token sober kid stressed so the role was switched.
Now Four Lokos down the hole and a loaded spliff,
Look who’s as useless as a broken wrist when trying to open shit”- Earl
I spoke with Earl Sweatshirt recently who was open, insightful, and a bit deflective. It’s understandable when you’re 19 and the world is picking your brain. Dude dropped our favorite album of 2013 (Doris) which is dense enough to keep unpacking through the next year. He’s young and formidable, and it doesn’t hurt that his idol is DOOM. Earl’s off to an epic start and I’m glad to have caught him before the glitz does. Peep the feature article in the current Wax Poetics.
A huge congrats to Wax Poetics for 10 years and 50 issues of fine– and in many ways, unmatched– music journalism. Peep the anniversary issue HERE and take a listen to a wonderful coinciding mix by our dude FA.
It’s been a pleasure to contribute to Wax Po through the years– such a notable cast of nice dudes whom I’ve been lucky enough to now and again brainstorm with. For the anniversary issue, I covered Devonte Hynes, recently known as Blood Orange. Check the video for “Forget It” (directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz, shot on VHS) off his killer debut, Champagne Coast. Here’s to another 10 years of classy coverage.
I spoke recently with Babu for 2 different publications; the first ran for CLOUT Magazine, a graffiti culture mag out of San Jose, California. Even more rare, it’s one of few publications that actually still operates in print, especially given its subject matter. That piece can be read HERE. The other–and newer of the two–is up now on Waxpoetics’ website, part of their renowned ‘Record Rundown’ series. He mentions great material so head over and check it HERE.
Peep Babu’s famed routine of the Emotions’ ‘Blind Alley’ to see why he’s considered one of the best in his field. If you’re familiar with the original, it’s almost surgical how he rearranges (and basically re-sequences) the song into his own. A routine like this can ONLY BE flawless and dude delivers. Thanks again Babu!
* Image above by Dion Bello of Illuskrate..
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
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!
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.