Monday, August 31, 2009

Spaced out

G-Side: "My Aura" (2009)

I never really got into the well-regarded Starshipz & Rockets, but "My Aura" has been stuck in my head since Southern Hospitality posted the video a few weeks ago.

The sample's been bugging the shit out of me-- I know I know it, it's just not coming to me. In the process of trying to jog my memory, I dusted off a few old standbys that share a similar vibe.

Asha Puthli: "Space Talk" (CBS, 1976)

Love the track, hate the vocal, although I know people who feel differently. This was recently reissued along with a couple of Puthli's previously import-only albums.

Ethel Beatty: "It's Your Love" (Uno Melodic, 1981)

Written and produced by Roy Ayers, who has a gift for grooves that are lush, mellow, spacey and yet somehow kinda unsettling.

The Pointer Sisters: "Don't It Drive You Crazy" (ABC, 1977)

So eerie, so classic.

Oliver Sain: "Space Dance" (HCRC, 1981)

I kind of wish he'd left the soprano at home for this, but still... so great.

Frank Walton: "Safari" (Delmark, 1978)

Chicago's Delmark label is mainly known for blues and moderately left-field jazz, so this one was always something of a surprise.

Bill Conti: "Reflections" (United Artists, 1976)

From the soundtrack to a rather successful motion picture.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Only built 4 broken links


This has been floating around for 10 days and has been on quite a few blogs but I'm posting it because I suspect there are a lot of people who haven't bothered with it yet. Plus it's great.

Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx was a classic album. The follow-up, Immobilarity, was so bad that you've probably ignored everything Raekwon has done in the last decade.

Evidently Rae recorded plenty of pretty decent verses in that time, though. Cuban Revolution rescues acapellas from lots of post-OB4CL releases and shines them up with OB4CL-style beats by Memory Man.

If that concept doesn't excite you, let me just say that Memory Man's execution is really, really good. Even where vocals are taken from songs that had good-to-great production in their original versions, like the Fat Joe songs "Firewater" and "John Blaze" or Ghostface's "Holla", Memory Man's beats hold up well. There's an interview with Memory Man at Passion of the Weiss where he talks his methods and how the release came about.

Between Cuban Revolution and many of recent Raekwon leaks, I'm starting to get kind of excited about Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. II. If the leaked songs and the surprisingly banging Wu-Tang Chamber Music album are any indication it seems like the other members of the Wu have figured out that if Ghostface is the only member of the crew anyone still checks for, maybe they just might want to try and make their records sound a lil more like his.

Speaking of "John Blaze", here's an edit I made to make it more playable:

Fat Joe: "John Blaze" feat. Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss & Raekwon (Big Beat, 1998)

It's got a mixable intro and I cut one verse.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Terrace Martin is the shit

Terrace Martin is making some of my favorite beats right now.

Over the past few years, he's produced a number of strong LP tracks for Snoop Dogg ("Been Around the World"), 213 ("Joysticc"!) and others but much of his music has only come out through leaks or mixtapes. He's also been playing the background, working with and learning from legends like Quincy Jones, DJ Quik and Teddy Riley.

He plays a bunch of instruments (saxophone, keyboards, drums, etc.) and his stuff is really musical-- not fussy, just melodic and well-crafted. I think he takes a lot inspiration from 80s-era producers like Prince, Jam & Lewis, etc. in terms of synth sounds and general aesthetic, but he uses different kinds of chords. It sounds old, but it also sounds fresh. I wish he were getting a fraction of the hype Dam-Funk gets.

Here are a few of my recent favorites from him:

Kurupt: "You Know" (2009)

Kurupt & Terrace Martin: "I'm One" (2009)

Kurupt: "Build You Up" feat. Snoop Dogg, Soopafly & Terrace Martin (2009)

Kurupt sounds so great on Martin's beats.

Snoop Dogg: "Rida Man" (2008)

The Snoop Dogg song is taken from Terrace Martin's Gangsta Grillz mixtape, Locke High. The Locke High mixtape is also available unmixed and without drops here.

While the unmixed version is a lot more useful for DJing, I got a huge smile from one moment on the other version, when DJ Drama shouts out Reggie Andrews.

Reggie Andrews is an L.A. pianist who was a music instructor at Locke High for almost 40 years, from its opening in 1969 until shortly after its recent takeover as a charter school (the latter was subject of a good recent New Yorker article).

Andrews mentored some tremendous talent there, from Terrace Martin and members of the Pharcyde to school-band prodigies like Patrice Rushen and Ndugu Chancler, cutting a couple of obscure and extremely collectible records with Locke school bands in the process. In his spare time, Andrews also produced a number of commercially successful records, including several for Patrice Rushen and the Dazz Band's huge hit, "Let It Whip".

Back in April, my homeboy Jonny from Good Records NYC posted a pre-Locke High album by Andrews over at his blog. The album, Mystic Beauty, is gorgeous, with great compositions and gentle Latin vibe throughout. I recommend heading over there to snatch it pronto (plus other amazing treats, like the Brief Encounter LP). I believe Jonny has an online shop coming to the site soon, but in the meantime if you pass through the Lower East Side, I highly recommend a stop at his storefront on E. 5th between 2nd & 3rd.

EDIT: About a month after the initial Terrace Martin post I was ripping some vinyl and came across this:

Sandy Barber: "Don't You Worry Baby (The Best Is Yet to Come)" (Olde World, 1977)

I'm told this was a Loft record; he flipped it nicely.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


A few weeks ago I heard the homie D-Sharp playing Blackalicious's "Nowhere Fast" on his radio show, Sharp State of Mind, and it reminded me of my love of this track:

Friends of Distinction: "Nowhere" (RCA, 1975)

"Nowhere" appears on the soundtrack to Honey Baby, Honey Baby, a blaxploitation film I've never seen but which I'm told is lousy even by the standards of the genre. The cover of the soundtrack credits the LP to the Friends of Distinction, Blood Hollins, Weldon Irvine and Zulema, but their contributions are pretty modest. Although most of the music on the soundtrack was written by Michael Tschudin from the cult psych bands The Listening and Cynara, this track was written by the album's arranger, Carl MaultsBy.

And this one:

Spice 1: "Trigga Gots No Heart" (Long Break Ride mix) (Jive, 1993)

This mix of "Trigga Gots No Heart" was 12"-only. The track was co-produced (along with CMT and Spice 1) by E-A-Ski, who seems to be playing basketball at my gym literally every time I go there. This is the first time I've ever intentionally posted a clean version; I guess it makes the gun talk a little more palatable.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

2 busy saying yeah!

I'm super-psyched to announce my brand new weekly radio show, 2 Busy Saying Yeah!

A few months ago, my old KALX homie Mike Biggz p/k/a Big Mike approached me about doing a show for All Day Play, a new internet radio spin-off of Oakland's Youth Radio program. I got interested when he told me that the station had already signed on some local heavyweights to do shows-- Sake One, D-Sharp, the Oakland Faders, Zumbi from Zion I, etc.-- and once I saw the facilities I was sold.

For me it's a chance to do a real mix show without the technological or legal constraints of my college radio show-- I can blend and cut live, I no longer have to spend hours each week editing curses and I'm not required to break the flow of the show all the time with announcements.

I'm still figuring out the musical scope of the show. I think it'll be a little more narrowly focused (e.g., less psych and jazz) but I'll have some exciting guests and overall the quality will be better. I'm trying to make each and every episode a great listen-- something that will introduce you to some new music, but also be worth listening to next year.

The show airs live on Friday nights from 7-9 p.m., currently through Cached episodes are at Podomatic, where you can stream, DL or subscribe through iTunes and various readers (Google, Yahoo, etc.).

I've done two episodes so far. Here's last Friday's show:

Download 2 Busy Saying Yeah Episode 2

There's some psychedelic funk, some slept-on rap, both new and classic, some disco, some commercial R&B I can't front on and a questionable house remix. I think it's the shit.


Pete Rock: Truth Is feat. Black Ice
Cane & Abel: Girl, You Move Me
Minnie Riperton: Every Time He Comes Around
Leon Haywood: As Long As There's You (I Got Love)
Jo Ann Garrett: Walk On By
Carl Bradney: Slipping Into Darkness
Chico & Buddy: Cracklin' Bread
Lyn Collins: Do Your Thing
D-Rock & Swift C: Let It Rip
Ray Cash: Dope Game
Juicy J: Purple Kush feat. Project Pat & Gorilla Zoe
Marc DeCoca: J's At the Door RMX feat. Backbone, Big Floaty, Don P, Rasheeda, Mac Boney & Big Kuntry
Red: I Should Tell Ya Momma On You [Dam-Funk RMX]
Young Squad: Fire Start
Loleatta Holloway: We're Getting Stronger
Whitney Houston: Million Dollar Bill
Busta Rhymes: Don't Touch Me [U-Tern's Disco RMX]
Four Below Zero: My Baby's Got ESP
Crown Heights Affair: I See the Light
Ron Hall & the Mutha Funkaz: The Way You Love Me feat. Marc Evans [Dimitri from Paris RMX]
Outkast: The Way You Move feat. Sleepy Brown [Johnny Toobad RMX]
Kurupt & Terrace Martin: You Know
Rafael Casal: Bay Area Slang Top 100
Askari X: Ward of the State
WC & the Madd Circle: Ghetto Serenade
King Tee: Ya Better Bring a Gun feat. Mixmaster Spade
DJ Quik & Kurupt: Do You Know
The Coup: Tiffany Hall
Usher: Certified feat. Pharrell
Erk tha Jerk: Right Here
R. Kelly: Take It to the Hotel feat. Clyde Carson
Redman & Method Man: Mrs. International

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The same way tomorrow

Eramus Hall: "Will You Love Me? (The Same Way Tomorrow)" (Capitol, 1984)

Eramus Hall was a Detroit-area group which cut two LPs. The group is mainly remembered for its tangential connection to P-Funk; its second LP, Gohead, was partly produced by George Clinton and featured a fair number of P-Funk musicians. This gorgeous floater appears on that album.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dig & dug

Billy Harper & Jon Faddis: "Two 'D's From Shinjyuku, Dig & Dug" (Trio, 1974)

Saxophonist Billy Harper is maybe my favorite living jazz player.

I first discovered his music thanks to Ubiquity's Andrew Jervis, who tipped me to Harper's Black Saint back in the early 90s. Hearing that album for the first time, I was overwhelmed. It's incredibly powerful music, forceful in its beauty, kind of like Coltrane's "Alabama" stretched to album length.

Over the years I grabbed any Harper LP I could find and I have yet to hear a bad one. Because it was the first I heard, Black Saint is probably my favorite, but In Europe, Love on the Sudan or Trying to Make Heaven My Home are all equally good places to start (and available in digital form for under $3). He's also really worth seeing live.

The track I've posted is from one of his albums that's not in print, Jon & Billy. The album was cut in Japan with Jon Faddis, a trumpeter who happens to be Madlib's uncle and to have gone to high school in the Bay Area; one of his high school jazz band albums is pretty nasty. "Two 'D's" is a beautiful tune and Cecil Bridgewater's kalimba adds a nice flavor.

P.S.: I had been thinking about doing something from on Harper, but a post over at Michael Barnes's excellent new blog, Melting Pot, pushed me over the edge. Michael is an old friend who DJed at KALX for a number of years before finding greener pastures in LA (a teaching job at CSU in Long Beach, a show on at KCRW, etc.). His taste is as eclectic as it is excellent-- bookmark him!

P.P.S.: In his Billy Harper write-up, Michael mentions the Spiritual Jazz comp, which doesn't seem to be getting much light but is really excellent. Typical of Jazzman comps, it features a ton of tremendously obscure music, much of it great; Stones Throw's US edition adds an amazing track by the P.E. Hewitt Jazz Ensemble, a band led by a Bay Area high schooler.


Friday, August 7, 2009


Some eBay time-wasting reminded me of this slice of silky soul, which sounds like a cross between Willie Hutch and Barry White:

Brothers by Choice: "Baby, You Really Got Me Going" (Ala, 1978)

This song was originally released on a 45 credited to Fire & Fury that sells for money. The Brothers by Choice versions on 45 and LP are comparatively cheap.

Another track on the Brothers by Choice album was sampled for this, a comeback that never came off but I always liked:

Dres the Black Sheep: "New York City Ni**as" (Black Pearl, 1997)

Oh, and, internet please tell me: is the Chuck Higgins who sings lead on the Brothers by Choice album the same as this Chuck Higgins?

They don't sound much alike, but records are from the same time and place.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Jerk songs

I've been playing a lot of jerk music at club gigs lately. It usually gets a good reaction even though none of it beyond "You're a Jerk" is really on the radio in the Bay yet. With jerk records, I think people respond far more to the style than to individual artists.

New Boyz: "You're a Jerk" (Asylum, 2009)

There's a ton of jerk stuff on MySpace and YouTube but it's been tough to find playable mp3s. With a couple of exceptions, no one's putting music up on iTunes, Amazon, Snocap, etc. and there's surprisingly little on blogs.

The best source for mp3s I've found is Digitaldripped, but it's a really frustrating site to use. The editorial content is limited to tags like "jerkin song" or "very hot jerkin song", so it takes a lot of clicking through limelinx links just to figure out if songs are worthwhile. On top of that, a lot of the files sound like shit-- they're not mastered, they're encoded at 96 or 128 kbps, etc.

Here's a handful of recent jerk songs that I've been playing in the club. Most were grabbed from Digitaldripped, a few from JHawk's Jerkin With JHawk and others from random sources.

Cold Flamez: "Miss Me Kiss Me" (2009) (320 kbps)

This could easily be a hit. They're from Long Beach.

Pink Dollaz: "I'm Tasty" (2009) (224 kbps)

They're from LA. JHawk is on the beat.

Dizzy: "Swagg It Out" (2009) (160 kbps)

Dizzy's from Vegas. He raps pretty well.

Go Go Power Rangers: "Tippin' On My Dick" (2009) (224 kbps)

GPR are surrounded by a swarm of dollar signs. JHawk produced.

Fresh Boyz: "I Rock Skinnies" RMX feat. Jaye Cooley (2009) (128 kbps)

According to their MySpace, they're from LA and Las Vegas.

Swagg Kidzzz: "I'm a Nerd" (2009) (128 kbps)

They're from Murrieta, which is waaaaaaaaay out.

Clothesz Off Movement: "Better Than You" feat. Rome (192 kbps)

They're from Long Beach. Apparently they take their tops off frequently.

YG: "Crack Out" RMX feat. New Era (192 kbps)

YG and New Era have the misfortune of having really un-googleable names.

D(w)rec(k): "Ride the Boogie (Michael Jackson Tribute)" (160 kbps)

He's from Riverside. I'm a sucker for MJ samples.