Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quantity is the new quality

Somehow in the midst of 18-hour days that otherwise consisted only of skimming Lil B's million MySpace pages, deleting party promoters from my Facebook friends and bathroom breaks, I found time for this:

Andy Milonakis: "Twitter Dat" (Mad Decent, 2009)

Hearing about Twitter annoys the shit out of me and I think I would have had the same feeling about Andy Milonakis if I'd ever paid attention to him prior to now.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

But there are in jello

I can't believe it never occurred to me to rip this until this morning:

Nice & Smooth: "No Bones In Ice Cream" (Fresh, 1989)

This is gonna be on repeat until approximately July.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009


A quickie mix for today's radio show:

Matthew Africa: "KALX Mix 4229"

Feist: Sea Lion Woman (Feisty RMX)
Moodymann: Tribute
Omar-S: Day
Puzique: Don't Go
Earth People: Dance
DreDay: Spider People
Kid Sister: Get Fresh INST

I had completely forgotten that Feist had covered Nina Simone's "See Line Woman" until I saw this 12" up at Turntable Lab. I didn't get the hype over Feist's Reminder LP but I thought it was a really cool song choice and liked how spare her version is. The remix is subtle but really good-- they strip the guitars and dub it out a little, but leave the best parts intact. There are a lot of good versions of "See Line Woman" but I think Yusef Lateef's is my favorite.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Record hatin'

This weekend I finally found time to check out the homie B-Cause's Record Haterz, a new mix that he did with his 4OneFunk partner, Mista B.

The theme is all-Bay Area and all-vinyl, and the mix is really well-executed. The selections are mostly from the mid-90s, bypassing both obvious stuff and alt-rap in favor of mobb music drawn largely from Vallejo and Frisco. They're mostly really good, too-- I got about two-thirds of the way through the mix before I heard anything I wanted to skip.

B-Cause and Mista B are both pretty savage on the scratch but they confine most of the wikki-wikkis to the intro and outro and keep the mixing smooth and unobtrusive. The mix sounds like it was made to be bumped while driving around slowly, just like the records that appear on it and the analog crackle adds to the nostalgia. (Favorite all-vinyl authenticity moment: hearing them re-reverse the curses on E-40's "Record Haters" in order to turn out radio-friendly vinyl.)

Here's a link to the mix. You can cop a physical copy with separately-indexed tracks by hollering at B-Cause; at $10 post-paid, it's really with supporting if only so they'll be motivated to make more mixes like this. Full tracklist and ordering details (buried in the comments) here.

Speaking of record haters, I was really psyched to catch this on a recent trip to New York:

AZ: "Your World Don't Stop" (Buckwild version) (white, 1995)

This version of the song didn't make AZ's Doe or Die album, apparently due to problems clearing the Lou Donaldson sample. It's been booted multiple times but I had never found an original copy before.

I like a lot of AZ's catalog-- even his recent records on Koch and Fast Life sound better than, say, much of the bullshit Nas puts out-- but this is the record he was born to do. His voice was made for melancholia like this and his flow just meshes perfectly with the beat.

UPDATE: Via the comments, I learned that the song was produced not by Buckwild or by Pete Rock, as some assumed, but by Spunk Bigga. Big shout to Spunk for setting the record straight!

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

A soul version of Voltron

O-Dub's Soul-Sides blog steered me to newly-posted episodes of the early '70s NYC PBS show Soul, which I mentioned last month. Among the new episodes is one featuring three of Harvey Fuqua's acts-- the New Birth, the Moonglows and the Nite-Liters.

When I was relatively new to buying funk, the Nite-Liters' five records were among my favorites. Their brand of instrumental funk was mostly of the same ilk as the J.B.'s and early Kool & the Gang but a little more streamlined and, on tracks like "Damn", "Do the Granny" and especially "Afro-Strut", heavy. Along with a group of vocalists the Nite-Liters also made up the New Birth, which was sort of a soul version of Voltron.

Both groups were overseen by producer Harvey Fuqua, who began his career as a singer and songwriter with the Moonglows, the quartet that cut doo-wop classics like "10 Commandments of Love", "Sincerely", "Most of All", etc. When the Moonglows fell apart, Fuqua replaced the other members with a new line-up that featured Marvin Gaye, then brought Gaye to Detroit where Fuqua formed the Harvey and Tri-Phi labels, married Berry Gordy's sister and brought Gaye, Jr. Walker & the Spinners to Motown. Fuqua spent the remainder of the 1960s as a writer and producer at Motown before landing a production deal with RCA and putting together the Nite-Liters and the New Birth.

Fuqua had conceived of the New Birth as a revue composed of four separate acts recruited from his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The New Birth's first album describes the group's composition like so:

After the New Birth's second album, Fuqua jettisoned the Mint Juleps and the Now Sound, replacing them with three vocalists who had been recording for him at RCA as Love, Peace & Happiness: Ann Bogan and brothers Melvin & Leslie Wilson. That lineup cut a number of hits including "I Can Understand It", "It's Been a Long Time" and "Wild Flower" before breaking with Fuqua and hopping labels.

The soul revue is really an artifact of a different era, so it's cool to see it captured in the Soul episode-- vocalists come and go, so you see the Nite-Liters alone, then backing the New Birth, then the Moonglows, followed by a New Birth reprise. The highlights are great-- there's a blazing version of Bobby Womack's "I Can Understand it" (good lord can Leslie Wilson sing), a very clever "Do the Granny"/"Grandma's Hands" mash-up, and a rip-off of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want to Make Love to You" that segues into this Harry Nilsson rip-off:

The New Birth: "You Don't Have to Be Alone" (RCA, 1970)

Although I'd enjoyed hearing it sampled in Rhymefest's "Tell a Story" and more recently in Lil Wayne's "La La La", I'm not sure I'd ever listened to it all the way through before today.

Oh, um, BTW, does anyone have a decent-res, unmarked version of "La La La"? All that I've heard sound terrible and have annoying drops to boot.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

The weekend is here/Gonna get my head right

The Inner Drive: "Party Man" (Zodiac, 1974)

This is such a perfect end-of-the-week song. I love the its lazy feel, its lyric, its warbly synth and especially its bassline. It's a Chicago record but in my mind I always group it with Miami stuff that Clarence Reid & Willie Clarke were producing at the time, particularly Little Beaver's sublime Party Down album.

Ric Williams's Zodiac Records is mostly associated with Ruby Andrews, who cut two really strong LPs and about a dozen singles for the label. As far as I can tell this was the last release Zodiac put out.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unreal worlds

Gloria Ann Taylor: "World That's Not Real" (Selector Sound, 197?)

Gloria Taylor has a really scattered discography. During the '60s and '70s she recorded for a half-dozen labels (King Soul, Silver Fox, Mercury, Selector Sound, Columbia, House Guests, Glowhiz, Whizenglo) and seems to have moved around a fair amount--Cincinnati, L.A., N.Y., etc. The only constant in all the recordings is producer/arranger Walter Whisenhunt.

On Selector Sound she cut some collectible disco, a decent Leon Ware cover and this moody oddity, which is the eeriest "Welcome to Dumpsville, Population: You" song I know.

Nick of Tyme: "Unreal Dream"

I know this 45 is lurking somewhere in my house, but damn if I can find it to make a scan. I wish I knew a thousand more records that sounded like this.

EDIT: A-ha! Found you! Now tell me where the APG Crew and Khemistry LPs are hiding!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In case you're reading this

and thinking to yourself, "Wow, what a thoroughly awesome music blog! How can I possibly show my appreciation?", let me point out that Michael Jackson's effects are being auctioned off next week and these are excellent gift ideas (and roughly in descending order of how bad I want them):

Triumph tour hat

Apocalyptic scene with portrait of Michael Jackson in armor

Creamsicle basketball uniform

The glove (anyone else remember MC Hammer challenging MJ to a battle for the glove?)

Portrait of Michael Jackson dressed as a king

Fan-made hand-stitched embroidery

Bad tour bodysuit

Painting of Michael Jackson sitting in a theater with Walt Disney, Peter Pan, Mickey Mouse, The Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Temple, and Kermit the Frog

Enhanced giclee on canvas of Brooke Shields


Michael Jackson wax figure

Michael Jackson electric jacket

Come on people, let's make this happen! I really need to freshen up my wardrobe and home decor. Full browsable but very buggy electronic catalog here.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Tony D

In preparation for tomorrow's radio show I pulled a few more Tony D productions and figured I'd rip them:

Ice Cream Tee: "Keep Hushin'" (Strong City, 1989)

Most underrated female rapper ever?

Blaque Spurm feat. Fyne: "Nonoxynol Rhymin'" (Contract, 199?)

Say what you will about these guys as rappers, they had a genius for pause-worthy titles.

Bonus: Here are a couple of quick mixes I cooked up for my KALX show:

Tony D Tribute Mix Part 1

Too Def: I Am What I Am
Ministers of Black: Step Into My Office
YZ: Tower with the Power
Blvd Mosse: You Can't Escape the Hypeness
Poor Righteous Teachers: Strictly Mashion
YZ: In Control of Things
Poor Righteous Teachers: Shakilya (JRH)
Tony D: Inspiration Abstract

Tony D Tribute Mix Part 2

Wise Intelligent: Steady Slangin'
Scott Lark Da Sensei: Insight
Poor Righteous Teachers: So Many Teachers
Poor Righteous Teachers: Rock Dis Funky Joint
Poor Righteous Teachers: Time to Say Peace RMX
YZ: Thinking of a Master Plan
Ice Cream Tee: Keep Hushin'

It was the first time I'd recorded mixing vinyl in a long while. It felt weird.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Tony D, R.I.P.

Tony D passed away in a car accident on Saturday. He was 42.

Although he's best known for producing the first two Poor Righteous Teachers albums, he also rapped (solo and in Crusaders for Real Hip Hop) and produced a ton of other great rap music, much of which remains below the radar. Here are two of my favorites:

Ministers of Black: "Step Into My Office" (Warlock, 1989)

Scott Lark Da Sensei: "Natural Bliss" (Contract, 1995)

I wrote about Tony D once before. That post featured the beat he made that was ripped off for Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P.".

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ultimate ultimate ultimate

Ultimate 3 MC's: "What Are We Gonna Do?" (Partytime, 1984)

Post-"The Message" message rap. They name-check a bunch of generic social ills (crime, nukes) but display real creativity in addressing the problem of ugly girls. Too bad they were never able to get their solution off the ground.


Friday, April 3, 2009

High society

Norma Jean: "High Society" (Bearsville, 1979)

I'm a long-time Chic fan but hadn't heard this until relatively recently. Norma Jean Wright was Chic's original singer but left after their debut album. Her 1978 solo LP never grabbed me but this non-LP single is one of my favorite Bernard Edwards/Nile Rodgers productions. I think it epitomizes their gift for crafting songs so smooth and funky that they sound effortless and natural even when they aren't; you don't notice how far-out they are until you start to pick them apart and seize on details.

As a bonus, here's Whipper Whip, Dota Rock & Easy AD rocking over "High Society":

Whipper Whip, Dota Rock & Easy AD: "High Society" (1980)

Poached from my man Phill Most's That Real Schitt blog.

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