Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to funk, freak the funk, hype the funk, swipe the funk and all that junk

Dr. Dre: "Puffin' On Blunts & Drankin' Tanqueray" (Death Row, 1993)

This long-unreleased video has been floating around for about a week but I'm still trying to process it.

I don't know which is most astonishing to me: that Dre looks even more awkward than his ad-libs sound, that Lady of Rage is wearing jeans at rib-height, that Daz waves around two different guns, that Kurupt looks to be about 15 or the possibility that a lot more stuff like this exists and might actually see a release. (Please, please let there be an unreleased DJ Quik album in better shape than the boot from a few years ago.)

The "Puffin' Blunts" beat always sounded to me like it was a built around an interpolation of this single, although who knows since this track was a little below the radar back then:

Robert Lowe: "Back to Funk" (Eastbound, 1974)

I've embedded the song but not posted a download link because the song is in print on Searching for Soul, the excellent Michigan soul and funk compilation that Scott Craig compiled for Luv 'n Haight a few years ago. The flip side is not commercially available, so you can have that one.

Robert Lowe: "Put Your Legs Up High" (Eastbound, 1974)

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2 Busy Saying Yeah - new rap music 2!

This week's 2 Busy Saying Yeah is a mix of 37 new songs that remind me why I love rap music-- an ATL ex-stripper goes ballistic, Huntsville does what it does, a few old favorites show they can still rip, 50 Cent and Plies drop songs I can't front on and I finally stop sleeping on Curren$y and play four of his songs. In short, just another week of 2 Busy Saying Yeah.

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1. DJ Benzi: Pop Them Thangs feat. Donnis
2. Brisco: Thinking to Myself feat. Lil Wayne
3. Curren$y: The Jets Son feat. Dee Low & Jean LaPhare
4. Young Dro: Don’t Know Y’all feat. Yung L.A.
5. Pill: Coastin’
6. All Star: Weed Smoker Music
7. WarrenJae: Sleep feat. Playboy Trae
8. Gucci Mane: Follow Me
9. Z-Ro: Rollin’ On Swangas feat. C-Ward
10. Freddie Gibbs: Iodine Poison
11. G-Side: I Remember
12. B.o.B: Paper Chase
13. Aisha Sekhmet: White Man’s Bitch
14. 50 Cent: So Disresepectful
15. Beanie Sigel: All For It
16. T.D.: Going Off 2009 feat. Peedi Crakk
17. Fashawn: Bo Jackson feat. Exile
18. DoDat: Hot Spitter
19. De La Soul: La La La
20. Phil Adé: Try Out
21. KD: Someday
22. Curren$y: 16 Switches
23. Hit Boy: Ahh Shyt feat. Chase N Cashe
24. Kurupt: Bacon & Eggs
25. A.P.B.: Betta Chick
26. Del the Funky Homosapien & Tame One: Special
27. G-Side: My Aura feat. PT of Untamed
28. GLC: Let the Pimpin Commence feat. Cory Mo & Mistah F.A.B.
29. Curren$y: The Seventies
30. Jay Electronica: Suckas
31. Sean Falyon: Wonderful Life feat. Playboy Tre & Scar
32. Sandman: Here & Now
33. Plies: The Letter
34. Natureboy Rowe: Thanking Thowed
35. Bentley: Where I’m Comin From
36. Fly Gypsy: 2 Step
37. Curren$y: Rapper Weed

Many of the songs on here are things I first heard on one or another of the rap blogs I check regularly-- Cocaine Blunts, Southern Hospitality, Fool's Gold's Rappin Ass Thursdays, Burn One's BLVD St., etc.-- so props to them.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

So international

After a great 8 days in NYC, I've been trying to catch up on life and soaking up G-Side's excellent, free new album, the Huntsville International Project.

G-Side is two rappers, ST 2 Lettaz and Yung Clova. They're from Huntsville, Alabama and part of the same scene as the PRGz, Mali Boi, Jhi-Ali, Jackie Chain, etc. that was showcased on last year's excellent Fear & Loathing in Hunts Vegas.

Like those artists, G-Side's music has a really distinct feel to it-- melodic, heartfelt and usually slow. I think of it as sounding like UGK minus the blues, a more blissed-out Organized Noize or maybe like Three 6 Mafia without Satan and Tiesto.

Regardless, the beats (mostly by Block Beattaz, but with a few from Mick Vegas, Bossman and others) are strong throughout and G-Side hold their own lyrically. They don't entirely escape trap, strap or rap riches cliches but they mostly come across as the kind of thoughtful, down-to-earth underdogs you'd want to root for. It's good-ass rap music.

You can download the entire album for free here.

In case you're on the fence about the minor effort involved in clicking through, here are a few songs from the album that I particularly like:

G-Side: "Aura" feat. P.T. of Untamed (Slow Motion Soundz, 2009)

G-Side: "Rising Sun" feat. Kristmas (Slow Motion Soundz, 2009)

G-Side: "Bandz" feat. DJ Cunta (Slow Motion Soundz, 2009)

1. Intro – Rob Breezy
2. Huntsville International ft Sound of Silence(produced by Block Beattaz)
3. So Gone (produced by L-Don)
4. What It’s All About (produced by Johnny Juliano)
5. Bandz ft DJ Cunta (produced by Bossman)
6. Paradise (produced by Mick Vegas)
7. Matthew Africa Speaks
8. Aura ft. P.T. (produced by Mick Vegas)
9. College Chicks (produced by Block Beattaz)
10. This Groove ft. P.H. (produced by Block Beattaz)
11. Feel The ft 6 Tre Gangsta and AC (produced by Block Beattaz)
12. Who’s Hood? Ft Yelawolf (produced by Block Beattaz)
13. This is Life (produced by P.T.)
14. In the Rain ft Bentley (produced by Block Beattaz)
15. Rising Sun ft Kristmas (produced by Block Beattaz)
16. So Wonderful ft Chrystal Carr, G-Mane, and SupaKing (produced by Block Beattaz)

By the way, track 7 is a lengthy excerpt from one of my 2 Busy Saying Yeah shows, where I blather about Huntsville for eons longer than I would have if I thought it would ever crop up on somebody's album. I'm flattered to be associated with G-Side's album but bummed to be responsible for the dullest 90 seconds of their discography.


Sunday, November 15, 2009


Yesterday I saw a lot of Twitter buzz about Domu, the English producer & DJ, quitting the game via a post at his blog. I've never followed electronic dance music closely, so I only know bits and pieces of Domu's tangled discography (dozens under his own name plus plenty more under inevitable electronic aliases-- Umod, Bakura, etc. etc.). Still, I like much of what I've heard (e.g., "Worldwide", which I put in a 2BSY mix a few weeks back) and found his goodbye message moving.

I also found myself identifying with a lot of what he said. I became a DJ because I love sharing music with other people. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to make a living doing that. But I also experience a zillion frustrations and frequently think about hanging it up. The bottom line is I used to enjoy DJing a lot more when it felt like a release; often these days it feels like a job.

The frustrations and anxieties Domu describes aren't uncommon; still, I've never heard a DJ articulate them quite so starkly:

It’s over. I can’t go into the personal reasons, but of course will leave you some explanation as to how I got here. It feels a bit like walking away from a life of crime or the Mafia. I am Carlito, I have finally made the break from the old dangerous way of making a living. I just hope Benny from the Bronx doesn’t shoot me as I am boarding the last train out of here. The point is that I am no longer Domu. He is a character, always has been, and as of Friday 13th November 2009, he no longer exists. Neither does Umod, Sonar Circle, Bakura, Yotoko, Rima, Zoltar, Blue Monkeys, Realside or any of the other names I put out music under. I am cancelling all my gigs and not taking any more. My hotmail is closed, my Twitter is closed and my Facebook is closed. If any of you want to talk to me and know me well enough to have my mobile number then that is still the same, and please feel free to call any time. My other email address I mail from occasionally is still open to tie up any loose ends.

I had started to change, for the worse I am now sure. My confusion was growing, my insecurity and bitterness getting out of hand, a lack of creative direction and focus were leading me somewhere very dark. I have felt so depressed by all of this. Believe me I have searched my soul long and hard this year to find the reasons again why I do this, but I can’t locate them. Too much of ‘me’ is mixed up into all of this, and no one should ever give so much of himself or herself to a job. I once believed in all of it, that I made and played music for a certain type of person, for people who didn’t want to adhere to the ‘normal’ way of life, the free thinker, the independent or open minded type who was bored of the genres, the staples, the blueprints or the formulae. The underground. But I just don’t truly believe I am needed in this battle anymore. It has been passed down to another generation, who are doing it their way, and I have no desire to try and edge in and start proclaiming to be fighting a fight that is no longer mine. I am a 31-year-old man. I can’t claim to be holding a torch up to something that meant so much to me at 15. At 21, maybe. But now, after ten years going full time, I think I have said all I had to say. My creative light has dimmed. Maybe because I started so early, who can tell? But I feel satisfied that this is it.

I have had an amazing time. I’ve travelled the world, drank and partied and made a decent living out of entertaining people throughout all of my 20’s. I met some incredible people in cities I never dreamed I would visit, shared my thoughts and collected wisdom from a huge range of deeply profound and lovely people. But I have also met some real arseholes, and I could feel I was becoming one. Playing records I wasn’t sure I liked to people who had no idea who I was. I had gone cold, cold to the music, to the reactions and to the point of it all. I was changing what I thought I liked, so that I would be liked. I am not a chameleon. I am not Madonna, I can’t stay abreast of the current styles and keep changing with it just to stay in fashion or retain some kind of credible status or career. I have had my moment. If you know me well, you would have sensed a change in me over the last two years. I have always suffered with problems of confidence, but I know that’s not why I am throwing in the towel. I feel like I have to change so much of what I think is ‘me’ to carry on. What I believe in, how to talk to people, how to behave. I just don’t think I can be so arrogant and harsh to stand out anymore. There is so much noise out there that people have to shout louder and louder to be heard. And for what? I am beating myself up over something I no longer believe in for an income that is stressfully patchy and more often than not, very low.

I used to say I owed it to ‘the fight’ to keep going. My belief in that has waned over the last few years too. Yes we needed Coltrane to go against the grain, to sacrifice his well-being and life to create beautiful art. We needed all of them, creative and unique beings burning brightly in our souls, our influences and idols that created the music and the movements that can provide us with sanity, sanctuary and meaning through our confusing lives. But music has lost some of it’s meaning to me as a medium. It’s everywhere; everyone is making it, playing it, giving it away, and trying to make a living. So many people have a voice in it now it is hard to pick out what is cutting edge from what I actually truly feel. I have gotten numb to my life’s biggest passion, and I need to leave it for a while to see if I can ever get it back to how it was.

Some have attributed meaning and understanding to my some of my work. I know it is special to some people, and my message was understood by a few, which I am very grateful to have come to know over the years. I was lucky enough to catch a ride in it for a while, was recognised by some very special and talented people and I earned the respect of my peers and achieved a hell of a lot in a short space of time. There have been huge highs whilst playing music to all sorts of crowds, creating an atmosphere and being in control. I have felt the joy and adrenaline rush of the success, alongside the emptiness and despair of the empty club or the unresponsive floor. Now I recognise I have done all that, I need to put it all behind me and move on, and the only way to do that is to disappear. It has to end sometime, and as I keep saying, everything is finite. I don’t want to lose everything else in my life for this. I just don’t believe in it enough to make that sacrifice. The kids are fighting the battle now. I hope I influenced some of them, I know I have, and that gives me a sense of ease doing this. I haven’t wasted 10 years, I know I have bought joy and hope to many of the disenfranchised, the open-minded, the musical outsider or the devoted dancer. There are people creating things and using technology in a way that I am having to try and catch up to, but I no longer feel the desire to. They are doing it better than I ever could now. It’s their time, and mine has passed. You can either think I am being incredibly brave by admitting it or incredibly weak and stupid for stopping. But it’s just how I feel. I was going wrong in many aspects of my life, and I need to start making a change. I have no idea how long this piece will stay up, but this site won’t be here forever. Please feel free to copy and paste and pass on to preserve it, to let others know why I left, assuming anyone cares.

I have tears in my eyes now. I have so many people to thank for all the personal and professional support they have given me over the years, but I shall do that personally in time. But I want to thank everyone who has bought a song, paid an entrance fee, had a dance or just come up and spoke to me about life, music, the world or whatever. You have given me a dream-like blessed existence for many years. If I have inspired anyone, then I am a happy man. You all have certainly inspired me, and I want to use those years of travelling and sharing to good effect, not this anger and confusion I feel towards it all now. I need to find meaning to the next phase of my life. So I bid you all farewell. I am just too sensitive to keep up the façade of something that doesn’t feel right. I knew it would come someday, maybe some of you that knew me saw it too. I have so much love and respect for my peers and teachers that are carrying on with the struggle, and want the next generation to achieve the best they can for themselves and their art. I am just not a lifer. I’ve traded up, and I’m out.

I’ll leave you all with this. Life isn’t the X-Factor. No one has a God given right to his or her dream or ambitions coming true. I have worked hard and had some great luck. I followed some opportunities, squandered others. I have no regrets, other than not stopping when I knew I should have done this time last year. The only thing you have to guide you through your life is your instinct. Sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest, but between your conscience and your intuition you will find the answer. Please listen to it. It’s you.

I'm in NYC, about 3,000 miles from my records and scanner, so here's a song without a picture. I recently went back to the Funk Inc. record this is from, Superfunk, and thought it sounded great.

Funk Inc.: "Goodbye So Long" (Prestige, 1973)


Friday, November 13, 2009

Your own echo

The other day I opened the mailbox and was geeked to find an advance promo of Edan's new Echo Party CD. I admire a lot of Edan's previous releases both as a rapper (Primitive Plus, Beauty & the Beat) and DJ (Fast Rap, Sound of the Funky Drummer, his radio show), but this is something else altogether.

Echo Party is a 29-minute mastermix of dozens or maybe hundreds of late 70s/early 80s lo-fi disco and disco rap tracks drawn from the catalogs of labels like P&P, Paul Winley, Chocolate Star, Sound of New York, etc. Apparently Edan got access to everything licensed by Traffic and, in some cases, multi-tracks.

He then proceeded to freak the shit out of everything, with liberal use of vintage echo, sampler, keyboards, and a lot of stuff I wouldn't know to recognize. (Every song and effect he used and what he did with them is described in the liner notes to the full CD release-- I suspect I could spend a long time nerding out on those notes.) My head hurts just visualizing the work that went into this.

I usually hate mastermixes and cut-and-paste records-- even Double Dee & Steinski's lessons really have never moved me-- but this is mind-blowing. It's so vast, so detailed and weird that it makes me feel like a really shitty, lazy DJ.

Stones Throw has pre-orders on limited-press vinyl with custom sleeves by Edan. According to their site, CDs are already sold out. I really, really recommend it.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Face down

I'm about to head out to DJ the homie SergDun's monthly bass and nasty raps party, Face Down Ass Up.

I pity the fool who tries to stop me from playing this:

5th Ward Weebie: "I'm F***in'" feat Sess 4-5 (Demm Boys, 200?)

I bought this years ago from Turntable Lab. If memory serves, Diplo wrote up their review. I love this song and Weebie's more recent "Bend It Ova".


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Start spreading the news

This coming week I'll be in New York-- seeing friends, walking around, buying records and seeing what's really good with the new crop of NYC pizza and fried chicken restaurants (hey, Momofuku! you and your electronic reservations system are playing with my emotions!).

I'll also be DJing a bunch:

Saturday 11/14 at APT for Grand Groove with Chairman Mao
Monday 11/16 at 105 Rivington for Good Spot with DJ mOma & Stimulus
Tuesday 11/17 at Savalas for Lost & Found with Jared Boxx (who'll be celebrating his birthday!)
Thursday 11/19 at Von Kellar for Fam with DJ Eleven
Friday 11/20 on East Village Radio from midnight to 2 for Never Not Working with hosts Radio Rios & Oskar Mann

Apropos of not much more than the title, here's a relatively overlooked Larry Mizell production:

Bobbi Humphrey: "New York Times" (Blue Note, 1974)

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Monday, November 9, 2009

2 Busy Saying Yeah 10 - Matthew Africa & DJ Fuze Are So International!

This week I'm joined by one of my favorite DJs, DJ Fuze.

Fuze is a Bay Area rap legend best known as the DJ for Digital Underground and the Luniz and for being one half of the group Raw Fusion. He has toured everywhere and has produced Digital Underground, 2Pac, Dru Down & the Luniz. He is also a phenomenally hard party rocker with great skills and deep knowledge of many styles of black music, from rap to funk to the music of Africa and the Caribbean. In the second half of the show, he joins me and drops a great mix of dancehall that's too new for the club plus some classic soca and African hits. I had no idea how big a Vybz Kartel fan Fuze is, but there it is.

In the first half of the show, I play a mix of some of my favorite African funk records. Since comps long ago outpaced my African digging, almost all are from those. Nearly a third were taken from Soundway's phenomenal Ghana Soundz 2, which is a great place to start if you want more in this style.

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The tracklist is this:

Matthew Africa

1. Ebo Taylor Jnr. & Wuta Wazuri: Mondo Soul Funky
2. Honny & the Bees Band: Psychedelic Woman [Bonobo remix]
3. Orchestra Baobab: Kelen Ati Len
4. Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonou: Dis Mois La Verité
5. Marijata: No Condition Is Permanent
6. Matata: I Want You
7. Orlando Julius Ekemode: Alo Mi Alo
8. Ebo Taylor: Atwer Abroba
9. William Onyeabor: Body & Soul
10. Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars: Yabis
11. The Sahara All Stars of Jos: Take Your Soul
12. Oscar Sulley & the Uhuru Dance Band: Olufeme
13. Asiko Rock Group: Lagos City
14. C.K. Mann: Funky Hi-Life
15. The Ogyataanaa Show Band: Disco Africa
16. Shina Williams & His African Percussionists: Agboju Logun

DJ Fuze!

17. Demarco: Roof Over My Head
18. Vybz Kartel: Life Sweet
19. Vybz Kartel: Versatility feat. Indu
20. Konshens: No Money to Give You
21. Erup: Pop Dat
22. Laden: Time to Shine
23. Mavado: Mockingbird
24. Beenie Man: Stack & Pile
25. Beenie Man: Pop Off
26. Elephant Man: Horny Wine
27. Vybz Kartel: Mentally Insane (DJ Fuze’s Town RMX)
28. Vybz Kartel: Gaza Commandments
29. Demarco: Some A Seh
30. Mr. Vegas: I Am Blessed
31. Vybz Kartel: Dollar Sign
32. Serani: Badmind
33. Keak Da Sneak: Super Hyphy (DJ Fuze’s Anger Management RMX)
34. Mistah F.A.B.: New O.A.K. (DJ Fuze’s Anger Management RMX)
35. Vybz Kartel: Go-Go Club
36. Konshens & Dario: Do D Ting
37. Mr. Vegas: Gallis
38. Mavado: Never Believe You
39. Isaac Blackman: To the Ceiling
40. Machel Montano: Fly Away feat. Collie Buddz
41. Soca: Hot & Groovy
42. Traffik: Sweetness feat. Shayne Bailey
43. Busy Signal: Up In Her Belly (Magalenha)
44. Fay Ann Lyons: Wine Fast feat. Beenie Man
45. Benjai: Tanty Say feat. Scarface
46. Magic System: Premier Gaou
47. Awilo Longomba: Karolina
48. Les Championnes: La Ronde Des Fillettes
49. Ellon DJ & Mix DJ 1er: Bobaraba
50. Romain Virgo: Mi Caan Sleep
51. Marcia Griffiths: Keeping It Real feat. Busy Signal

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunny days

Today's one of those perfect Bay Area fall days, so bright, warm and clear it almost makes up for the fact that we don't get real summers. This sounds right:

Zafra: "I Can See That" (H&L, 1978)

Hey, effects nerds! What pedal (or combination thereof) is on the guitar that gives it the "Who's That Lady" sound? Thanks!

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