DJ MATTHEW AFRICA

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Namesakes



Jocelyn Brown: "I Wish You Would" [edit] (Vinyl Dreams, 1984)

Although she never became a mainstream star, people who know dance music know Jocelyn Brown. She was the main vocalist on disco classics by Inner Life, Musique and Change among other acts and her 1984 hit, "Somebody Else's Guy", is as close to timeless as club anthems get.

"I Wish You Would" was her follow-up and is really slept on to me. It also happens to be the name of this blog. The version I've posted is an edit I made that trims the intro and lengthens the vocoder breaks.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The bootleg of the bootleg


Earlier this week I had intended to post a few things that I was excited about or that seemed relevant to various things going on (inauguration, yee! the one-year anniversary of this blog, yee!) but got hung up when I realized the songs, off the beaten track as they were, were commercially available in one way or another. I'm not trying to take money out of anybody's pocket, so I try to avoid posting things that can be legitimately bought.

It was kind of frustrating to me to not be able to post the songs in question, but on the other hand it's great that people can now easily buy, say, this gem as a loosie or on CD. (For vinyl obsessives, it looks like there's a Slow to Speak bootleg 12" on the way.)

Rather than hem and haw about the ethics of stuff, I figured I'd post a few things that were never legitimately released. Both were bootlegged on Nappy Dugout, a mid-90s NYC-based imprint that seemed to be a part of a family of interchangeable labels (e.g., Phat Mix). Their 12"s were generally a mix of current releases that were hard to get on 12" (e.g., "Deep Cover"), random crap and songs dubbed from muddy advance cassettes.


Redman: "Smokaaa Blunt Too" (Nappy Dugout, 1994)

I think this was intended for 1994's Dare Iz a Darkside but didn't make the album for whatever reason. Regardless, it's one of my favorite Redman songs both for the beat, which crams every nook with ad-libs, talk box, random scratches, keyboard squeaks and Parliament/Steve Miller/Bambaataa interpolations, and Redman's vocal, which foreshadows the best of Weezy's high-as-fuck stream of consciousness. It all sounds so loose, so chaotic and so right. I'm pretty sure Redman produced it himself.


Mobb Deep: "Young Luv" (Nappy Dugout, 1995)

Between how notoriously hard it is to clear Prince samples and Prodigy's over-the-top but kinda awesome filthiness it's no wonder this one never came out. This was ripped by my homie DJ Eleven who I don't think ever appreciated Prince till he heard this.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Every valley shall be exalted



Fingers Inc.: "Can You Feel It spoken word: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." (Jack Trax, 1988)

For a long time, this was the only house record I owned. Even back when I disliked house music, there was just no fronting on it.

Fingers, Inc. was an alias for Larry Heard, better known as Mr. Fingers. The original version features Robert Owens singing and is an absolute Chicago classic; it's widely comped and available. This version, featuring excerpts from Dr. King's March on Washington address, was tucked away on the b-side.

Every time I hear it I'm knocked out by the power of Dr. King's language. It seems like one week a year I hear snatches of the March on Washington speech on the radio or TV, but it's usually reduced to the greatest hits soundbites ("I have a dream...", "... join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'free at last'", etc.) and robbed of context and detail. Here, heard in longer form, the beauty, simplicity and clarity of his words shine, like when he describes Mississippi "sweltering with the heat of injustice" being "transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice" or says that "every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight".

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Break it on down

Before snagging it from Chairman Mao's blog, I'd never heard G.C. Cameron's great "No Matter Where". I'm glad I have now.

It prompted me to rip this, which was G.C. Cameron's first solo single after the other Spinners bolted to Atlantic, stranding him at Motown:



G.C. Cameron: "Act Like a Shotgun" (Mowest, 1971)

The song reminds me a lot of two equally great records by acts that also spent time as Motown benchwarmers, the Sisters Love's "Now Is the Time" and Popcorn Wylie's "Funky Rubber Band". The former is available on iTunes and on this excellent and long overdue anthology; the latter isn't commercially available, so what the hell, why not?



Popcorn Wylie: "Funky Rubber Band" (Soul, 1971)

This record is so loose it could almost pass for Apple & the Three Oranges.

In preparing this post, I learned that Popcorn Wylie passed away in September. G.C. Cameron continues to record and perform solo; he also spent much of the last decade as a member of the Temptations.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Grafted

If Labi Siffre's "I Got the..." got knocked up by the Ohio Players' "Pride & Vanity", the baby would sound exactly like this:



Henson: "Part-Time Lady" (United Artists, 1974)

I'm not exactly sure how to explain the baby's race. I think it might have something to do with Yakub, recessive genes and the devil's tricknology.

On this one, the math is simpler:

(white guys from Pittsburgh) x (Gamble + Huff) = awesome.



The Jaggerz: "Gotta Find My Way Back Home" (Gamble, 196?)

The Jaggerz later switched labels, went kinda rock and had a hit with "The Rapper". The lead singer then joined Wild Cherry and made "Play That Funky Music", a song I hate like no other.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

"We do not advocate the selling of drugs or the use of firearms; items shown in photo are props"


The Young "D" Boyz' "Mac God" is one of my favorite Bay Area rap records.

It's mob music heard through a hallucinogenic fog, so slow and murky it sounds screwed even at normal speed. High synths sound like sirens, a synth bassline creeps, vocoded vocals make ghost echoes of a guitar part and spectral wails emerge from somewhere. In their way, the raps sound other-worldly, too-- detached drug game and pimp theology float in the haze.

I was going to post the vocal version but then I saw that the song and the entire Straight Game album are available on mp3; instead here is the instro:


Young "D" Boyz: "Mac God" (instrumental) (River-T, 1994)

The Young "D" Boyz were a trio from the Southside of Vallejo that was made up of Bebop a/k/a Master Splinter, Khadaffi and Matty Wack a/k/a Tony Francis a/k/a Tony Francis Cardassius a/k/a the King of the Jews. 1995's Straight Game featured production from Khayree and sold pretty well locally; it's a minor Bay classic. After that, I think the group got sidetracked by a lot of real world stuff. Individually they've made a number of solo albums and Bebop is still at it-- according to a 2007 Murderdog interview reprinted here, he patched up a longstanding crosstown beef and has joined up with Sick Wid It.

The production on "Mac God" is by John Dillinger, who I believe was from Vallejo. There's a production discography of his work here, but I have no idea if it's complete or if he has other beats as mind-bending as this.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Sexy red suit purchased at Emilio's in the Del Amo Mall



... says a credit on the back cover. It doesn't indicate whether the suit in question was his or hers, although we do learn that her name is Ziggi.

Other questions that come to mind: what kind of gun is that? (looks scary!) will jheri curls ever come back? is that Bobcat on the cut? how come every time I hear the intro dialogue I picture Crispin Glover speaking rather than Michael Biehn?


Lover II: "Terminator" (Egyptian Empire, 1988)

Lover II was a protégé of (and I presume named after) Egyptian Lover, whose career was waning by the time this was released. I love how raw this era of LA rap was, in particular the cuts. Dudes like Joe Cooley were just so funky on the scratch.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Just "Flakin"



I love everything about this 12".

Let's start with the cover:

Two dudes pose with a kitted-up 1979 Celica. One of them, rapper L.A. Wee-Vo, holds a car phone to his ear as if taking an important call. His eyes meet ours. Can't you see I'm on the phone? The other, DJ Felly-Fell, stands guard in matching Ellesse.

Photos are cropped awkwardly. Questionable punctuation and spelling choices are made.

Then there's the song:

The beat is nothing but 808s and scratching-- some guitar, some Beastie Boys. It's a perfect time capsule of rap music in the window between Run-DMC/Rick Rubin and when sampling took over: minimal, raw and for the first time sounding nothing like anything that preceded it.

The rapping is conspicuously literate-- SAT verbs abound: emulate, eradicate, familiarize, enhance. LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee and T La Rock inspired someone to stay awake in English class. Ellesse shouts abound. Auto-didactic pronunciations are made.


L.A. Wee-Vo & DJ Felly-Fell: "Just 'Flakin'" (Bedford and Associates, 1987)

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lights... camera...


In the early '90s, Gang Starr put out a couple of super-limited vinyl samplers featuring some of their protégés. The first one is relatively well-known; it featured Jeru tha Damaja's classic "Come Clean", as well as tracks by the Group Home and Big Shug, both of whom also got deals shortly thereafter.

The second sampler didn't draw the same notice-- it led to a deal for Bahamadiah, but not for any of the other acts. For me the standout is Operation Radification's "Trés Pound God":


Operation Radification: "Trés Pound God" (Ill Kid, 1993)

Guru's beat kinda bangs and the rappers have great M.O.P.-style chemistry. Years later, Operation Radification became the NYG'z, who were featured on Gang Starr's "Same Team, No Games" and have been set to release a DJ Premier-produced album for several years now.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Oh and...



1984: "There's a Wrinkle in Our Time" (Round, 196?)

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reelin' in the years



Jane Birkin" "69 Année Érotique" feat. Serge Gainsbourg (Fontana, 1969)



Mad Lads: "Monkey Time '69" (Volt, 1969)



Inmates: "1974 Trying to Be a Pro" (Prison, 1975)



Horace Andy: "Africa (1983)" (Message, 1978)



Jimi Hendrix: "1983" (demo) (1968, Rising Sun)

This is nowhere near as good as the regular version or even the demo that appeared on Between the Lines, but it's a revealing oddity.



Ray Luv: "1991 R.I.P." (Strictly Business, 1991)



Common: "One-Nine-Nine-Nine" feat. Sadat X (Rawkus, 1999)



Roy Ayers Ubiquity: "2000 Black" (Polydor, 1975)



Obscure Disorder: "2004" feat. Non-Phixion (Audio Research, 1999)

The producer and manager of Obscure Disorder now record as Chromeo.



Alkaholiks: "2014" (Loud, 1995)



US69: "2069: A Spaced Oddity" (Buddah, 1969)

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