Thursday, July 31, 2008

God only knows

There's an awesome mix of soul, disco and funk-style gospel posted free here.

It was put together by Nick the Record, an English dealer who runs the very fine DJ Friendly website; if you've got pounds to spend, he's got great records.

There is no track listing for the mix, which is a shame because there's plenty of stuff that moves even a non-believer like me (the intro! the record that comes in at 19:15! rip-offs of "Dance to the Drummer's Beat" and "What Cha' Gonna Do For Me"! that record at 1:07:45 and the one after that!).

The best song on the mix is this, which comes in at about the 26:30 mark:

Celestial Choir: "Stand on the Word"

I learned of the song through DJ Eli's blog, but I guess it was a big record for several DJs on the NYC scene including David Mancuso and Larry Levan. Currently, there's a Justice-ish remix that's catching some run, but it's like 1/100th as good as the original so don't worry about it.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Talkin' 'bout she can make it right

Not to get all O-Dubby, but this is a cover version I don't hear often enough. It's not as good as the original, but then what is?

First Choice: "Love & Happiness" (Philly Groove, 1973)

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Why in the club you don't make it precipitate?

Speaking of Killer Mike, this is genius:

I've been thinking lately about how much current rap and R&B is either explicitly about strip clubs ("Make It Rain", "Ayo Technology", "I'm N Luv (Wit a Stripper)"), implicitly about strip clubs ("Love in the Club", "Hypnotize", "Sexy Can I") or just sounds like it was made for lap-dancing (all the 80 bpm and slower tempos).

I'm not sure what's driving this, although my best guess is that the places that are dominating black popular music (e.g., Atlanta) are places where strip clubs are pretty central to nightlife and to breaking music. There's a lot of spillover, though-- whenever I DJ on weekends in the Bay, I notice at least a few dumbasses trying to enact their strip club fantasies. As someone who's not a fan of strip clubs or of youngsters doing way too much, it's kinda hard to take.


I love these two songs:

Trina: "Da Club" feat. Mannie Fresh (Slip-N-Slide, 2005)

Mannie Fresh should sing more.

Tela: "Table Dance (Millennium mix)" feat. Jazze Pha (Rap-A-Lot, 2000)

Am I hallucinating or is this an interpolation of "1983... (A Merman Should I Turn to Be)"?


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Player I grind

Speaking of Big Boi, the new album from his former protégé Killer Mike is really good.

After sharing a Grammy for "The Whole World", Mike released an album on Outkast's short-lived Columbia/Aquemini label, got a second one shelved (the recently leaked Ghetto Extraordinary) and later left Big Boi's crew in a huff.

As much as I admire Big Boi, splitting from him was probably not a bad look for Mike given that the only things Big Boi has managed to get released since were the 2006 Bubba Sparxxx and Sleepy Brown albums; both were really good but disappeared pretty much instantaneously. Since then, Mike has released an album and a couple of mixtapes, given some great interviews and (all too briefly) hosted a web TV show, Killer Mike's Grind Time Sports Show Bang! Bang! Bang!

Anyhow, back to the new record, I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind 2-- Killer Mike is always a strong rhymer but sometimes not great at putting songs together. This time out the production is solid and Mike comes up with good hooks about 80% of the time, which is by my calculation about a 50,000,000% improvement from his last album, the 2-CD I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind. He even manages to get a good verse out of Ice Cube (who may at long last be in the process of un-falling off):

Killer Mike: "Pressure" feat. Ice Cube (Grind Time, 2008)

One of my favorite tracks is built around the same loop as this, which I'd forgotten all about:

PMD: "Rugged -N- Raw" (Boondox, 1996)

Also, for once actually told me something I wanted to know (I just want to celebrate!):

Rare Earth: "Eleanor Rigby" (Rare Earth, 1970)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In November I'll be cheering for Obama

In the last year, Andre 3000's taken a break from recording children's music and shitty pseudo-show tunes and returned to rapping at least occasionally. His verses on "Int'l Player's Anthem" and the "Walk It Out" and "Throw Some Ds" remixes got a rapturous reception and once again a lot of people are (or at least Lil Wayne is) talking about him like he's the greatest of all time.

Which is not to say Andre isn't, I just can't help feeling like Big Boi gets a raw deal in this prodigal son situation. I mean, I admire Andre's flamboyant iconoclasm, but while Andre was off trying to sing and act, Big Boi never took a break from killing it, even with Idlewild-- several of his songs on that album are among the best they've ever done, whereas I can't think of one of Andre's that I ever want to hear again.

Anyhow, Big Boi's got a new song, the second one I've heard from his forthcoming solo album (at the risk of a jinx, let me just say: sooooooooo excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!):

Big Boi: "Something's Gotta Give" feat. Mary J. Blige (Purple Ribbon?, 2008)

Musically, it's kind of bland, probably not shitty enough for radio, but it would be nice to hear on there.

It reminds me of this, which is one of my favorite Raphael Saadiq productions:

Kelis: "Glow" feat. Raphael Saadiq (Star Trak, 2003)

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Friday, July 18, 2008


I've got mixed feelings about hipster hop, but XXXchange is a really talented producer. I was checking out the new Fully Fitted EP on Money Studies and almost fell out when I heard a snatch of this in one of his songs:

Isaac Hayes: "Truck Turner" (Enterprise, 1974)

The insane bass part had been flitting through my head for the last month or so but it took me a minute to place those grandiose horns. It was kinda like running into an old friend unexpectedly.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The TR-808 is coming

My friend Julie co-produces Alternate Tunings, a monthly show on KALX devoted to unusual instruments-- theremin, ukelele, etc., etc. The show is always interesting, clever and very well put together.

A few months ago she told me she'd gotten in contact with electro legend the Egyptian Lover about interviewing him for a segment on the Roland TR-808 drum machine. He not only agreed to be interviewed, he rolled the red carpet way out, inviting her to fly down to LA and let him demonstrate the machine at his studio (!!!!!!!!!!).

The fruits of the interview will finally air tomorrow on KALX at 9 a.m. You can catch it at 90.7 FM or stream it here. Hopefully I can persuade Julie to let me get a copy of the show and post it here.

Boogie Down Productions: "The TR-808 Is Coming" feat. D-Nice (1987)

The BDP song is a promo from Red Alert's radio show. The TR-808 in the title refers to their protégé D-Nice, who had the nickname "The Human TR-808". He later re-recorded the song for Jive. This version is from his blog.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Do you think we'll ever meet Stevie?

Last Tuesday I went out to 330 Ritch for the relaunch of Sake One's PST party, which had been packing the Levende Lounge on Thursday nights for the past few years. I guess Sake felt like the party was getting away from what he wanted it to be, so he took the brave step of uprooting it and starting all over again clean.

Sake did it big with guest DJ Spinna and a live performance by Goapele. There were some great moments, like seeing Chuy Gomez dancing to Moodymann, meeting SF house legend David Harness and seeing a lot of folks I don't generally see out.

I took a whole bunch of photos, although for photos that are actually good, you should probably go see Fred at Suckafreeze.

D-Sharp prowls, Chuy does the robot

Willie Maze poses with Sake One and his pants of many colors

Spinna's smile is bright, but Hakobo's shoes are electrical

Like every other time I've seen him, Spinna was great-- the guy is a master of all trades, playing breaks, house, afrobeat and even rocking a "not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good" routine in the middle of a rap classics set.

When Spinna played this, I just about ran from one end of the room to another to find out what it was:

Gichy Dan's Beachwood #9: "On a Day Like This" (Anonymous Simple & Plain edit) (, 2008)

Gichy Dan was a protégé of Kid Creole who cut one LP, 1979's Gichy Dan's Beachwood #9. The original version of this song also appears on Strut's recent compilation of Kid Creole's productions. The version I've posted (which I think is the one Spinna played) is a re-edit by Finland's DJ Anonymous. I grabbed it from his excellent blog, DJ's Delight.

Anyhow, back to PST, my only gripe, which isn't really a gripe, was that a special invited guest who was in town that night and who was rumored maybe possibly hopefully to be coming didn't in fact make it through. Here's an aural love note from Rahiem to him:

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5: "Dreamin'" (Sugarhill, 1982)

It's an insanely goofy rap moment, even if it doesn't involve actual rapping.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

You and I have an understanding

I've never understood A Tribe Called Quest.

I mean, they were a great, great rap group. I've just never been able to put my finger on what made them so good.

It wasn't the rhymes. Q-Tip is basically a really average rapper. His flow is unremarkable and his lyrics were seldom particularly deep or clever. His strengths (I think) are that he's supremely likable and doesn't say much dumb shit. Phife, on the other hand, is a sub-average rapper. I'm not sure he has strengths.

Similarly, the production was good, but not that good. They never blew minds the way contemporaries like Premier or Dr. Dre did.

Instead, Tribe records tended to sneak up on you. A week after Midnight Marauders came out, I remember comparing notes with a friend and both of us saying, "Yeah, it's just okay. It's no Low End Theory." Before long, though, each song wormed its way deep in.

Anyhow, Q-Tip has a new song and it's kind of great:

Q-Tip: "Getting Up" (Universal, 2008)

Like a lot of Tribe stuff, I can't really explain why it works. It probably helps that the sample is from this:

Black Ivory: "You and I" (Today, 1972)

Black Ivory's two albums on Today are among my favorite sweet soul LPs. The songwriting is consistently good and arrangements are flat-out gorgeous. There's a good compilation of the two Today albums, although for some reason the version of "You and I" on there has a re-recorded backing track that's much lamer than the album version.

Producer/arranger Patrick Adams has also been the subject of a couple of compilations in the past few years. Although he's not widely known the way, say, Quincy Jones is, he had a phenomenal talent, producing great records not only in the soul genre but also disco, funk and rap.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

A root that will not be reversed

Real-life situations have me listening obsessively to this:

D'Angelo: "The Root" (Virgin, 2000)

I really hope D'Angelo gets his shit together to make more music. Voodoo was a pretty great album, but "The Root"? Jesus.

The guitar part of "The Root" part always makes me think of this:

Finsta Bundy: "Don't Stress Tomorrow" (Tape Kingz, 1998)

The lyrics are sort of whatever but I love the way they use Kool & the Gang's "Winter Sadness", a song also interpolated for 2Pac's "Picture Me Rollin'". The vocal sample is such a nice touch.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Mixed messages

Yesterday I did my first radio show on KALX in forever (a/k/a 4 months). I had way more music to play than I had time to play it in, so there were a couple mixes I'd prepared that I didn't even get to air.

Both are mixes of some new new stuff with some other stuff that isn't but is new or newish to me. As usual with the radio stuff, everything was one-take, but I like how things came out.

Fixxers: Doe
Blaqstarr: Get Off
Model 500: Starlight
Mike Dunn: Na Na Na (I Walks With God)
Shoes: Afro-Percolater

Husalah: Yo
E-40: Showin' Out feat. B-Legit & Laroo
5th Ward Weebie: Bend It Ova
Hot Boy Ronald: Walk Like Ronald

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Morning, Noon & Night: "Movin' On Down the Line" (Roadshow, 1977)

This song reminds me of a bunch of other ones, "Chocolate City" and "Smiling Faces Sometimes" especially, but doesn't really borrow enough from any one of them to be a ripoff. The Frampton Comes Alive-style talk box solo is what's really and the rhythmic feel is crazy-- it makes me feel like I'm cruising in a hovercraft.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Midget in quicksand

This record is super-duper slept-on to me.

Brenton Wood: "All That Jazz" (Midget, 1975)

Brenton Wood is best known for his mid-60s hits on Double Shot, "Gimme Little Sign" and "The Oogum Boogum Song". After that, he never really had any success although he recorded singles that got picked up by Prophesy and Warner Bros. and cut an album for Cream. Here, the combination of the lyric, Wood's Isleys-esque vocal and the Roy Ayers-style chords really do it for me.

According to the discography at Soulful Kinda Music, this song also came out as a single on Warner Bros. and Cream, although I can't remember either of those pressings or if there's a difference among them.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You a muddy mother mother

Sammy Brown: "Vietnam (You Son of a Gun)" (Grassroots, 1973)

For the longest time I thought he snuck a curse in there but I guess not.

I love the lyric and vocal on this but for me the music puts it over. The track rolls in like Lafayette Afro Rock Band's "Congo", drops a sour gloss on "Hail to the Chief" and then a bassline and horns that sound suspiciously like Cymande's "Bra". Credit the arrangement to Joe Panama, a guy who cut one recently reissued rarity for Decca and was last seen playing at the McDonald's at ground zero.

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