Friday, February 29, 2008

Get your frog on

Kool & the Gang: "The Frog" (De-Lite, 1972)

I'd been kinda halfway meaning to rip this ever since I listened to a recording of DJ Day guesting at the Rub-- he killed it with a set that included the song-- but it took leap year to jog my memory.

This rip is from the 45; on LP, there are two pieces of a longer take, "Electric Frog Part I" and "Electric Frog Part II". Unfortunately, they did that thing where they split a long take into two separate tracks that you can't easily re-edit together because there's no over-lap between the two halves.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Vocoder > Auto-tune

Jazzy Jay: "Def Jam" (Def Jam, 1985)

It's vocoder, right? I don't think it's a talk box.

Shit, I'm tempted to call up Dave Tompkins right now and bug him, but I bet a lot of people do that. I just googled to see if Dave's vocoder book was out yet and found a post on Jeff Chang's blog saying it "will appear in book form early 2005." Hah. I hope the book will have an appendix detailing which records use what; in the meantime, there's a pretty good overview of different robotic voice effects on Wikipedia. For a thoughtful take on the social implications of T-Pain's use of Auto-Tune, I recommend this Slate article.

The Jazzy Jay song I posted is kind of a rip-off of the B+ (b/k/a Spyder-D) song "B-Beat Classic", which itself was a remake of Sesso Mato's "Sessomato". If you don't own "B-Beat Classic", do yourself a favor and buy a download here (and enjoy a Dave Tompkins write-up) or here or here or track down the 12", which was back in print last time I checked. If you don't like the song, we probably can't be friends.

)) > < ((

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Internet, I think I love you

My favorite ever thread on the Hollerboard turned up a song called "Rollin'" by the PRGz of Huntsville, Alabama.

A little googling led to a months old write-up on the Fader blog, which in turn led to the Myspace page of their label, Paper Route, which led both to the label's website, where you can download a bunch of their songs for free, and to this site, where you can cheaply buy a bunch of the songs in high-quality mp3s (of the half-dozen I bought, 5 were encoded @ 320kbps, although "Tip Down" was a usable 185 kbps).

I guess I'm not exactly ahead of the curve on this one-- not only did the Fader blog it twice and write a magazine piece I haven't seen, there's apparently an upcoming release with Diplo & A-Trak (!) and even a write-up in Urb (!), which is usually super-duper-late in catching anything that interests me. Still, holy canoli they have some good songs!

Here are two songs that are available for free from Paper Route's website. If you like them, go buy some shit here.

Hood Headlinaz: "Soul Glo" (Paper Route, 2008)

PRGz: "Wood Grain" (Paper Route, 2007)


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From thizzle to fizzle

Last Wednesday, the SF Weekly published Eric K. Arnold's “The Demise of Hyphy”, an article which suggests that local radio station KMEL is responsible for the movement’s premature end.

I was glad to see someone addressing the subject in print. While I don't miss some of the more mindless bullshit associated with the musical style, I do miss how energized the local scene was a few years ago.

For much of 2005 and 2006, hyphy music was all over KMEL and, to a lesser degree, its pseudo-competitor, KYLD. (Both stations are owned by the same company, Clear Channel, and effectively divvy up the demographic pie; KMEL aims older and blacker, KYLD aims more Hispanic, more female and more gay.) Throughout 2005, the style seemed to build, first with a few local hits, then a lot of local hits, and then a tidal wave of media exposure that peaked in early 2006 with a special on MTV and loads of national media coverage. On the strength of this, quite a few Bay artists got courted by major labels, and many signed deals—F.A.B., the Federation, the Pack, the A'z, C-Bo and Clyde Carson among them. For a region that hadn’t had a platinum rap hit since 2pac was alive, this was huge.

Local commercial radio stoked and, for a while, kept pace with the frenzy. By the summer of 2006, KMEL and KYLD were both saturated with hyphy music. A few dozen local songs—E-40’s “Tell Me When to Go” and “U and Dat”; Mistah F.A.B.’s “Super Sic Wid It” and “N.E.W. Oakland”; the Team’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot”; Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle”, “Shake That Monkey” and “Burn Rubber”; Mac Dre’s “Feelin’ Myself”; Turf Talk's "Slumper" and "Turf Talk Is Back"; the Federation’s “Hyphy”, “Go Dumb” and “I Wear My Stunna Glasses at Nite”; Keak Da Sneak’s “Super Hyphie” and “T-Shirts, Blue Jeans & Nikes”; the Hoodstarz “Getz Ya Grown Man On”; San Quinn’s “Hell Yeah”; Frontline’s “Bang It” and “What Is It?”; DJ Shadow's "3 Freaks"; and the Pack’s “Vans”—got as much play as national hits, if not more. Granted, there were a lot of great local rap artists who still didn't receive regular airplay—like the Coup, Mac Mall, Messy Marv, Zion I, the Solesides/Quannum dudes, the Hieroglyphics folks and the Mob Figaz, all of whom have established followings and make music that's worthy of spins—but the amount of support from commercial radio was still very impressive.

Then something funny happened—the Bay choked. Just as local airplay peaked and national doors opened, the music stalled. In late summer of 2006, there was a dearth of new, quality Bay music—it was almost like everyone was waiting for someone else to take the ball and run with it.

For a while, KMEL and KYLD kept airplay up, running the same two dozen records into the ground, as well as a few new ones that were mediocre (Big Rich's "That's the Business") or total shit (F.A.B.'s "Ghostride It"). Before long, fatigue set in, and KMEL and KYLD cut way back on spins for now-stale hyphy songs and, with the lone exception of Kafani's 2007 single, "Fast", seemed to stop adding new material by Bay rap artists altogether. Sensing a chill, national labels pushed back or scrapped releases by all of the local artists they had rushed to sign just months before.

The Weekly article enumerates many ways in which KMEL has hurt the local rap scene and suggests some of these are intentional. For example, it describes how KMEL purposely stopped playing songs by one of hyphy music's most popular artists, Mistah F.A.B., once he began hosting a show for KYLD. The article also suggests that KMEL hindered the popularity of hyphy music in other parts of the country by refusing to play music from other markets that had begun to support the style. It also describes how KMEL has shut out most independent promoters, so that only major-label artists and those represented by a handful of favored independent promoters have access to airplay.

The article has its weaknesses. A lot of arguments are put forward without much support or discussion and seem unconvincing as a result (e.g., that KMEL's F.A.B. boycott caused national labels to postpone or scrap releases by artists other than F.A.B., or that KMEL benefits by packing the Summer Jam bill with national artists even if, according to the article, local artists are more popular). The very detailed retelling of one DJ's conflict with others at the station and eventual firing seems like a digression. The article doesn't really explain how programming decisions are made at KMEL or why KMEL is more blame-worthy than KYLD, which also withdrew its support from the scene. Finally, it's really hindered because KMEL's Music Director, Big Von Johnson, who emerges as a villain in the piece, refused to be interviewed.

Also, the article occasionally loses sight of the larger point: two years ago, local commercial radio stations were playing a ton of new, local rap music. Now, they don’t seem to do so at all. The Weekly article includes a damning and darkly funny statistic: as of the week of February 4, the highest-ranked current local rap song on KMEL’s charts, the Federation’s “Happy I Met You”, clocked in at #187.

Whereas two years ago, KMEL and KYLD were regularly breaking records from unsigned and unknown Bay artists—Nump’s “I Got Grapes”, Kinsmoke’s “Do the On One”, Gorilla Pits’s “Scrapin’”, Champ Bailey’s “Fuck Yo Couch”, the Cataracs’ “Blueberry Afghani”, the A’z “Yadadamean”—now they don't.

Moreover, they don't even support established artists they used to support. For example, last year, the Federation and Turf Talk both made great records but neither got any significant exposure from KMEL or KYLD; the latter literally got a much bigger push from the New York Times than it did from either station.

Currently, even when a local single has a big street buzz or commercial potential—e.g., Keak Da Sneak’s “In Front of Yo Momma’s House”, Too $hort’s “This My One”, Ya Boy’s “Holla At Ya Boy” or either of Clyde Carson's solo singles—it's unlikely to get more than a few token spins on mix shows, if that.

Maybe what was happening two years ago represented a brief, golden age for local commercial radio, things are back to business as usual, and it's foolish to hope for a return to a time when KMEL and KYLD actively support local artists. Reading the article, I'm pleased to see that I'm not the only one who's pissed off about the status quo.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

And another one

The big homies from Brooklyn's the Rub-- DJ Eleven, Cosmo Baker & DJ Ayres-- stay super-duper on their grind with mixes, remixes, tours and releases (as of this very second, I think Ayres's James Brown remix on GAMM is the latest, but that may well change by next week). They also host two internet radio shows, including a monthly show hosted by Scion radio, which frequently features great guests (this month, Ghostface Killah!).

Last summer, they invited me to do a mix for that show and I slapped together a half-hour of slept-on rap, mostly then-recent album cuts and '87-era goodies. The mix streamed in November (a/k/a approximately 10,000 years ago in rap time), but I think it's held up pretty well.

Crime Mob: "Circles"
David Banner feat. UGK: "Suicide Doors"
Trick Daddy: "Breaka Breaka"
8 Ball & MJG: "Turn Up the Bump"
Ya Boy: "Holla at Ya Boy"
Coughee Brothaz: "Rise-N-Shine"
Cataracs: "Cookies"
LL Cool J: "The Do Wop"
Camden Crew: "Summer Kicks"
D-Rock & Swift-C: "Let It Rip"
Live & Direct: "Rock Base Line"

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Introducing the radio mix

For years I've done radio shows weekly at KALX Berkeley 90.7 FM, currently on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. Pacific time.

It's a great outlet to play pretty much anything I want for a few hours, but one of my lingering frustrations with the gig is the absence of equipment that makes it possible to mix music live-- there's no cross-fader, no EQs, lousy monitoring and no way to use the turntables to control MP3s.

This interferes with my ability to present many types of music in the way I'd like to and also makes me avoid playing some things altogether. For example, plenty of dance music is constructed specifically to be mixed-- a 10-minute house song might have a four-minute intro, a three-minute vocal and a three-minute outro-- and sounds really boring played straight through.

To get around this, lately I've started recording some mixes at home to air on the radio. Each one is typically 20 to 30 minutes long and features a mix of new stuff and other things. I record them live in a single take and, time permitting, clean up the curses (otherwise I'm stuck editing them live). They're much looser than mix CDs; I don't prepare a set list in advance and I don't go back to clean up each mix so it sounds as perfect as I can get it. The mixes also differ from my live sets because I let songs run much longer in the mixes than I typically do live. Anyhow, I'm going to experiment with posting them regularly. Enjoy.

Radio Mix 2.21.8

Ying Yang Twins: "Drop"
E-40: "Turf Drop" feat. Lil Jon
Diligentz: "Aligators" (sic)
Gucci Crew II: "Cabbage Patch"
Jokers of the Scene: "Y'all Know the Name"
Thomas Bangalter: "Love"
Axwell feat. Max'C: "I Found U" [Dubfire mix]
Alan Braxe: "Palladium"
DJ Class: "Ruff Ryders"
K.I.M.: "Wet 'n' Wild" [Riot in Belgium mix]

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

I love a rainy night

I didn't know this was a Jose Feliciano song until 30 seconds ago. Whoa.

Bruce Ruffin: "Rain" (Trojan, 1971)

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Friday, February 22, 2008

El Judeo Maravilloso

He acts like he doesn't believe it when I say it to him, so I'll put it in print for the world to read: Sake 1 is the best DJ in San Francisco. My man is so good on so many levels-- taste, skills, versatility, flavor-- that it floors me.

Sake's not one of those DJs you always read about online or see in magazines, but in San Francisco he is loved. His signature party, Pacific Standard Time, packs the Levende Lounge each Thursday and he uses the platform in really cool ways, bringing in legendary DJs (Danny Krivit, Kool Herc), giving up-and-comers a chance to shine (the Honor Roll) and giving back with frequent benefits for community groups. If I grow up to be a little more like him, I won't be even a tiny bit mad.

Anyhow, I bring it up because the boy has a new mix-- an actual, legitimate, commissioned-by-the-label mix entitled Fania Live 03 from the Fresh Coast-- and it's great. The story goes like this: a couple of years ago, Emusica bought the catalog of the great salsa label, Fania Records, and began reissuing tons of amazing music from the '60s and '70s. To promote this stuff to the niños, they commissioned compilations from Gilles Peterson and DJ Muro, and mixes from several DJs, including Sake.

Sake has done a number of mix CDs that I've really enjoyed over the years (this one especially!), but this may be the best example of what he's about as a DJ and a person. The selections, from the likes of Willie Colon & Hector Lavoe, Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto, are great on a musical level, but deliver lyrically, too. You don't have to speak much Spanish to catch the themes of community and social justice in songs like "Mi Gente", "La Revolucion", "Justicia" and "Paz", particularly when coupled with Sake's gentle use of dialog. The mixing is really smooth and tasteful, too. Man, it's just good.

The CD came out last Tuesday and should be available in stores, online, etc. Sake is having two release parties for the CD-- one in SF at PST on March 20th with Bobbito and one in Los Angeles on March 22 with Bobbito, Francisco Aguabella and Chuchito Valdes (!). The entire album is currently streaming here.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wow, lawyers allowed something cool to happen

Two months ago, the New York Times wrote about the imminent release of a free album of remixes of Radiohead's In Rainbows by Amplive of Zion I. I'm a fan of both, so I was disappointed when the January 10th release date arrived and, instead of posting the remixes, Amplive's website featured copies of a cease and desist letter he'd received. Well, they changed their mind and you can get the remixes here now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obsession... obsession... obsession...

One of my favorite albums of the moment is Bully's Obsession comp, which collects a lot of obscure, international '60s and 70s psych. Mike Davis of NYC's Academy Records compiled the set. Whenever I've shopped at Academy, it's seemed like the store was super picked-over; I guess I know why now.

The selections are mostly from Latin America (5 from Brazil, 2 from Peru, 2 from Uruguay and 1 from Argentina), but there are also 3 tracks from Turkey and 2 from India. Unlike, say, the similarly-themed but always disappointing Love, Peace and Poetry comps, all of the selections are good to great.

The track I've posted is kind of an exotic cousin to the Creations Unlimited's "Chrystal Illusion" (which appeared a on two cool, long-deleted comps, the Rustler's Because You're Funky and Dante Carfagna's Chains & Black Exhaust), so I've posted that, too.

Atomic Forest: "Intro/Obsession '77" (?, 197?/Bully, 2007)

Creations Unlimited: "Chrystal Illusion" (Soul Kitchen, 1972)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Disco guys please school me

Where is this bassline from?

Super 3: "Philosophy Rappin' Spree" (Delmar International, 1980)

The Sugarhill Gang: "Giggalo" (Sugarhill, 1981)


Monday, February 18, 2008

Presidents to represent me

The Presidents were a 60s-era band from Indiana who recorded a handful of singles for Deluxe, one-offs for Plum and Hollywood and then, bizarrely, a few singles cut in Spain for the Penelope label.

There's a partial discography here and a bunch of label scans here, but not much biographical information about them to be had. I recall reading that at one point they were being groomed by King Records (Deluxe's parent) to be a sort-of stand-by JB's, much like Bootsy's Complete Strangers, but damn if I can find the source for that.

They've been sampled a little ("Stinky" for BDP's "The Style You Haven't Done Yet", "Peter Rabbit" for Kool G. Rap & Polo's "Ill Street Blues"), had two tracks legitimately reissued ("Gold Walk" on BGP's less-than-half-assed King Funk and "I Want My Baby Back" on Kent's awesome Impressed! comp), and, in the past few years, bootlegged a lot (once by Egon, two times by Vampisoul).

Here are clips of their 78-second demolition of Marva Whitney's "It's My Thing":

The Presidents: "It's My Thing" (Penelope, 19??)

Their equally rough instrumental rip-off of Eddie Floyd's "Big Bird":

The Presidents: "Which Way" (Deluxe, 196?)

And a great, Impressions-y ballad:

The Presidents: "I Want My Baby Back" (Deluxe, 196?)

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm not like Mr. Marketing

but I think this might have done better if the cover didn't feature a drawing of a big, glistening turd. Just saying.

Roadway: "Let's Go For It" (Chocolate Cholly's, 1982)


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Damn, what happened to us?

I'm not one of those bitter, old rap guys who believes rap music peaked in (insert year here-- 1988, 1991 and 1994 are particularly popular choices, but it seems to hinge in large part on the age of the person making the call) and believes most everything since then has been bullshit. No, I'm a bitter, old rap guy who loves tons of new shit and doesn't have a whole lot of prepossessions about what good rap music should sound like, be about, etc.

Rap music began as party music. In David Toop's classic rap history, Rap Attack, Grandmaster Flash said that the reason MCs were introduced was to keep the crowd moving instead of just standing around watching the DJ. If you listen to early recordings of live shows, you hear it-- rappers were there to entertain.

So I'm not persuaded when people gripe about current commercial rap music saying nothing. (This is usually when the bitter, old rap guy brings up Soulja Boy.) Still, I think there are a lot of subjects rappers don't touch on anymore and that's a shame.

I was ripping Ice-T's O.G.: Original Gangster last week and this track really fucked my head up.

Ice-T: "Ya Shoulda Killed Me Last Year" (Sire, 1991)

The directness and immediacy of it are just so foreign to rap music right now-- I just can't picture any current rapper of any commercial stature or prospects being this direct about a social issue, aside from maybe David Banner. I mean, in the months-long run-up to the current war, a war which just about every rap listener I know opposed from the beginning, what rapper had the nuts to say something like this? Jay-Z snuck a "leave Iraq alone" into his Punjabi MC remix, but that's it as far as I know.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

This may be the slowest song of all time


Bayete Umbra Zindiko (Todd Cochran): "The Time Has Come" (Prestige, 1972)

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lots of lovin'

Pete Rock & CL Smooth: "Lots of Lovin'" RMX (Elektra, 1995)

Bonus Beat:

Don Covay: "Where There's a Will There's a Way" (Janus, 1972)

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

V.D. is almost here

These two tracks are drawn from a 7" issued by Chicago's Citizens Alliance for VD Awareness in 1974. The level of talent they were able to draw was pretty amazing: Stax hitman Johnnie Taylor and original Last Poet Gylan Kain each perform a side, while Chess/Cadet arranger Richard Evans and Chicago soul jack-of-all-trades Chuck Colbert lend support. Granted, Taylor was stranded a few years between the commercial peaks of "Who's Makin' Love" and "Disco Lady", and no one had bought Kain's remarkable 1970 album, but still....

According to my boy google, Tuff City reissued this on 45 last year, albeit with a different track on the A-side. No word on why Wolfman Jack replaced Johnnie Taylor.

Bishops of the Holy Rollers Fallout Shelter (Gylan & Denise Kain): "It's Free" (CAVDA, 1974)

Johnnie Taylor: "Something to Remember Her By" (CAVDA, 1974)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Live from New York

Got this yesterday and I've barely begun to digest it-- a DVD containing 26 hours of audio of live rap performances recorded in the NYC area between 1979 and 1985, 33 shows in all.

All of the greats are represented, including the folks everybody knows (Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5, Doug E. Fresh), the folks everybody ought to know but don't because dudes never figured out how to translate their thing to record (the Cold Crush Brothers, the Fantastic Five), plus plenty of folks only known to the fanatics (Johnny Wa!).

I wasn't there, but it seems like the early rap scene was all about live shows. Although some bypassed the live performance scene on their way to stardom, like the Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow, most crews made their names via jams in the parks, at clubs and at high schools. Audience tapes of these would circulate, each dub taking a crew's name further and the sound quality lower.

Unlike, say, my man Mark Skillz or this guy, I've never gotten into the world of old-school rap tape collecting. I've heard fascinating bits and pieces over the years, but I've never gone out of my way to obtain live tapes-- I didn't really have anything to trade with and for a long time I suffered from a form of tunnel vision whereby music didn't exist to me unless it was on vinyl. But god bless the obsessives circulating nth-generation dubs of audience tapes.

NYC Live Throwdown assembles a ton of these tapes. As you might expect, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the recordings sound like they were made from the audience (rather than, say, a soundboard) onto cheap hand-held cassette recorders and then repeatedly dubbed until not much escapes the murk and hiss.

Even so, I was shocked by how awful some of the recordings are, especially ones that have been widely circulated in better-quality versions. For example, the Cold Crush/Fantastic 5 battle, which ought to be a highlight of the set, sounded much better when it was legitimately released in the 1980s. The version of the Furious 5's "Flash It to the Beat" routine-- perhaps the best routine I've ever heard-- is taken not from the surprisingly clear vinyl bootleg, but from an nth-generation recording of someone cutting that bootleg.

On the plus side, the individual performances are broken into separate tracks, which makes it much easier to skim. The way in which sets are divvied up seems arbitrary sometimes, but it's way easier than fast-forwarding a cassette. The IDs on tracks could be way better also-- when the mp3s are imported, they appear as "01", "02", etc. and the artist credit lists the names of everyone who performed at the show from which the track is taken, rather than the names of individual performers on a given track.

More importantly, there's plenty of mind-blowing stuff here. I could geek out for days over which breaks Jazzy Jay is cutting. The stage patter, which falls roughly halfway between polished professionalism and youngsters whyling, is usually hilarious. And then there's stuff that's just mind-boggling, like Staten Island's Force MCs (later the Force M.D.'s) rocking a routine to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" while their DJ, Dr. Rock, backspins a single copy of "Synthetic Substitution".

Force MCs live in Paterson, NJ 1983 (Madison Square Garage, 2007)

Bonus beat:

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5: "Flash It to the Beat" (Bozo Meko, 198?)


Monday, February 11, 2008

Memory lane

The Masters At Work dudes have always been way on the funky end of whatever was going on in house at the moment, but in the early to mid-90s they were drawing pretty heavily on hip hop, too. Kenny Dope, in particular, was killing it with rap-inspired party break records like "Supa", his "Budy Bye" remix and "Get On Down." (Ooooh, gotta remember to rip that one.) This was one of my favorites in that vein.

I'll always associate this record with a Thursday night party Dedan and Toks used to throw in SF back then. There was nothing flashy about the party. The spot, Zanzibar was a nondescript restaurant-- the front was a bar and booths, the back a smallish square room. You had to squeeze through a bottleneck of people playing dominoes to get to the back where Toks played dancehall and Dedan played a mix of R&B, rap and house. It had the intimate, sweaty vibe of a great house party.

Both dudes are still around. Dedan plays soulful house at a weekly in Oakland. Toks pops up a little less often, but folks who followed him in the olden days are still geeked.

Masters At Work: "I Can't Get No Sleep" feat. India (Down Low mix) (Cutting, 1993)

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Who gives a fuck about a god-damn Grammy?

Generally, not me, but I'll be kind of pissed if this guy doesn't win one for this.

and sometimes Y

A few years ago, the homies Diplo & Tripledouble put out an awesome mix of old records called AEIOU2. In the course of 12 mini-suites, they run through about 150 records, mixing psych, soul, funky foreign stuff and all kinds of things that have been sampled or oughtta be. They let very few of the songs ride, rock a lot of doubles, toss in some effects and generally multi-track the shit out of it. While their beat digger/A.D.D. approach that somewhat resembles the CDs by Soulman, Kon & Amir, et al., I think Wes and Tony put the songs together in a much more musical fashion.

The original mix was really limited but it's now back in print and you need it in your life.

It's a tough call, but this was probably my favorite song on there:

Exit 9: "Straight Up" (Brunswick, 1975)

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Somewhere there's someone who cares about this

If you don't believe Big Daddy Kane is one of the greatest rappers to ever do it, then you've probably had the misfortune of being exposed to his post-1990 output.

Big Daddy Kane's first single, "Get Into It", would be high on my list of the greatest two-sided singles in rap history, but with two great b-sides-- "Somethin' Funky" and "Just Rhymin' With Biz"-- it's kinda in a league of its own. Unfortunately, the 12" is pretty rare and only the last of these is even in print.

"Get Into It" did get reissued a couple times, both on the flip of "Ain't No Half-Steppin'" and the UK "Set It Off" single. For some reason, both of those feature an instrumental version but not the vocal. Even weirder, the instrumental is really different from the original, with the most crazily booming 808 hits I've ever heard and someone (Marley Marl?) interpolating the Gap Band's "Outstanding" on the keyboards.

Big Daddy Kane: "Get Into It" (instrumental) (Cold Chillin', 1988)


Friday, February 8, 2008

Lips of wine

The Esquires' "How Could It Be" is one of approximately 10 jillion records I've fallen in love with after hearing on Mr. Finewine's superb radio program, Downtown Soulville. The show's aesthetic is pretty specific-- '60s and early-'70s soul and funk, no ballads and no hits, sometimes an oddball theme-- but Mr. Finewine's selections are deep and far-ranging enough to keep it interesting. Also, his air persona (much like his off-air one) is refreshingly affable, low-key and unpretentious.

The show airs every Friday evening on WFMU from 7 to 8 p.m. (Eastern), but individual shows are also available as podcasts and archived more or less indefinitely. I wish my radio station did that, although I'm kinda glad my numerous fuck-ups aren't preserved for posterity.

The Esquires: "How Could It Be" (Bunky, 1968)

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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Black History Month, Pt. 2

Oh, shit, black people with electric guitars-- RUN!!!!!!!!!!!

Brothers of the Ghetto: "Indestructable (sic) Black Man" (Ghetto, 1975)

Brothers of the Ghetto: "Rockin' Chair" (Ghetto, 1975)

By the way, if you talk to Dante Carfagna, ask him about Kiderian Records and Goodbye Dolores. He's got a really good story.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Grandes parecidos

My indie rocker friend, Disco Shawn, moved to Argentina last year and got turned out by their nascent electro-cumbia scene. He recently moved back to the Bay and started a new label, Bersa Discos, to release the stuff he heard down there.

Bersa Discos' first release, a 5-song EP, should be available on vinyl and digitally any minute. Shawn and his label partner, Oro 11, are having a release party this Friday at SF's Rickshaw Stop with guest DJ Paul Devro of Mad Decent.

Here's a taste from the EP:

Daleduro: "Bombon Asesino" (Bersa Discos, 2008)

EDIT: Dudes have a free mix over at the Fader blog and the EP is now on sale at TTL.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Fat Tuesday

One of my favorite releases of 2007 was Sunnyside's Wild Magnolias reissue, They Call Us Wild. For those who don't know them, the Wild Magnolias are a group of guys who dress up every year as Injuns (um, not Native Americans, exactly-- more like a super-glam, ghetto fab version with enormous feathered head-dresses), parade through the streets of New Orleans and sing songs about squabbing with other guys dressed as Injuns.

In the early 70s, the Wild Magnolias cut two LPs, both of which are relatively hard to find and one of which was only released in France. Their backing band, led by the late, great Willie Tee, had a really distinctive sound-- funky, spacy and percussive. Punctuate that with some chants about drinking, fighting and a little talk-box, and you've got about the best party record ever.

The Sunnyside reissue contains both of those LPs plus some bonus cuts and an awesome-looking PDF booklet I haven't quite gotten around to looking at. I recommend it super-highly.

Here's a taste of perhaps my favorite song from the reissue:

The Wild Magnolias: "Smoke My Peace Pipe" (Polydor, 1974)
(Obsessive The Wire trivia: this is the song playing in the background when Omar sticks up the card game!)


In the future all of us will be on TV all of the time

Google Alerts turned up this, which kinda blows my mind:

Although I remember Mr. Supreme visiting the KALX radio show Beni B and I did several times, I had no idea one of his appearances was videotaped. I'm bugging out (1) at how young we all look, (2) at seeing KALX's old studio on Bowditch St. and (3) that someone posted the clip on YouTube with my name in the title. Now if only we had video of the Wu-Tang Clan, DJ Cash Money and 3xKrazy.

P.s.: I'm not the bald guy, the black guy or the Fabio guy, I'm the wary-looking guy who's backspinning.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Who killed Tommy's boy?

In the mid- to late-90s, I loved just about everything I heard from Natural Elements. Each of the three rappers was dope and they had a nice interplay of styles--L-Swift and A-Butta were both kinda whispery and nimble, while Mr. Voodoo contrasted with gruffer, Rock-from-Heltah-Skeltah-like flow.

I think they were big on the NYC radio freestyle/mixtape circuit, but I only heard them on their all-too infrequent 12"s and EPs, which seemed to come out at a rate of one every year or two. In 1999, they signed with Tommy Boy's short-lived Black Label, which released one great 12" but shelved their album, Trinity. This track is one of my favorites from that album, which I got years ago from the big homie, DJ Eleven (thanks, dunnie!).

Natural Elements: "NE D.E.Finately" (Tommy Boy, 1999)

Dusting this one off reminds me that I really need to rip some of their other releases: the 2 Face 12" on Blindside, Mr. Voodoo's first two 12"s on Fortress, the Fortress EP, that "Triboro" song from the Nervous Independents Day comp and the Dolo single.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

and a dollar short

Ground Hog: "Bumpin' (Gemigo, 1974)


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bombay Falcon


Um, dudes, why not just call it a cover?

Kalyanji Anandji feat. Hemlata: "Na Na Yeh Kya Karne Lage Ho" (Bombay Connection, 2007)

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Friday, February 1, 2008

Woo-hoo, it's Black History Month!

Hype though it may be, it's the bonus cut:

MC Mitchski & the Asiatic Force Production Crew: "The Educational Powers of a Black Man" (Ski, 1988)

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