Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Melvin Bliss, R.I.P.

A few months back I devoted an episode of 2 Busy Saying Yeah to songs that sample Melvin Bliss's "Synthetic Substitution". Yesterday, I heard from my friend Cosmo Baker that Bliss had passed away.

At the time I posted the original mix, I hinted that I would post some biographical information about Melvin Bliss. Despite "Substitution"'s stature in the breakbeat canon, Bliss has always been a seriously mysterious figure-- he only had one release to his name and the only published information I had ever been able to find came from a brief profile in a 1974 issue of the UK mag Blues & Soul.

Since biographical information about Bliss was so scarce, I was looking forward to posting a scan of that article but then, just days after I posted the mix, I learned that Bliss had been tracked down and some folks were planning to do a film about him:

(Biggest/best revelation from the trailer: the drummer on "Synthetic Substitution" is Bernard Purdie!)

In addition, I learned from Cosmo that Monk-One wrote about Bliss in the new issue of Wax Poetics. These have probably rendered the Blues & Soul article useless, but for the curious, I've uploaded a PDF here.

Incidentally, Cosmo has posted some thoughtful thoughts about the significance of "Substitution" and some cool mp3s, including this nice Monk-One edit of "Substitution":

Melvin Bliss: "Synthetic Substitution" (Monk-One edit) (Internet, 2010)

Anyhow, for those who missed it, here is my "Synthetic Substitution" mix:

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1. Ultramagnetic MCs: Ego Tripping
2. Xperado: Watch Your Step feat. O.C.
3. Divine Force: Holy War
4. Ghostface Killah: Mighty Healthy
5. N.W.A.: Real Zaggin Don’t Die
6. Too Poetic: God Made Me Funky
7. Onyx: Throw Ya Gunz
8. Pharcyde: Ya Mama
9. Pete Rock & CL Smooth: For Pete’s Sake
10. Public Enemy: Don’t Believe the Hype
11. Willie D: Put the Fuckin’ Gun Away
12. MC Jr. Cas: Walk On the Wild Side [Club mix]
13. Almighty RSO: One in the Chamba feat. M.O.P.
14. Group Home: So Called Friends
15. T-Wiz: Good Thing Goin’
16. Knowledge: Put On Your X
17. Def Jef: Black to the Future RMX
18. Top Choice Clique: Peace of Mind
19. Biz Markie: Cool V’s Tribute to Scratching
20. Supreme Nyborn: Versatile Extension
21. Ultramagnetic MCs: Pluckin’ Cards
22. Freddie Foxxx: Crazy Like a Foxxx
23. Percee P & Ekim: Now They Wanna See Me
24. Robbie B & DJ Jazz: Comin’ Correct
25. AMG: Trunk of Funk
26. Zhigge: Toss It Up
27. Public Enemy: Brothers Gonna Work It Out RMX
28. Public Enemy: Brothers Gonna Work It Out
29. Von Love: This Is How It Should Be Done
30. Choice M.C.: This Is the B-Side feat. Chill Phill & MC Sergio
31. Ol Dirty Bastard: Cuttin’ Headz feat. the RZA
32. Wu-Tang Clan: Clan In Da Front
33. Naughty by Nature: Yoke the Joker
34. Ghostface Killah: The Champ
35. Funk Lab All-Stars: La Da Da
36. Digital Underground: Tie the Knot
37. Too $hort: Hoes
38. EPMD: Mr. Bozack
39. De La Soul: Stone Age
40. Coolio: I Remember feat. J-Ro & Billy Boy
41. Method Man: All I Need
42. Scarface: Murder by Reason of Insanity
43. Eazy E: Eazy Street
44. Gang Starr: Code of the Streets
45. New Style: Drop the Bomb
46. C.E.B.: Get the Point
47. Brotha Lynch Hung: 24 Deep
48. Melvin Bliss: Synthetic Substitution

I still plan/hope to turn this into a more polished/concise mix, although I might not get motivated to do so until I can convince some people to send me rips of some 12"s I can't afford, like Lonnie O's "Mr. Dynamite", the Plush Bros.' "Back to the Lab" and M.D.S. Production's "Because I'm a Pro". A final version would also have to include Positive K's "Night Shift", which I'm still kicking myself for omitting.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

2 Busy Saying Yeah 23 - New Rap Music

I had sort of tuned out of rap music for a minute. I periodically get burnt out, bummed out or just disgusted by what's popular.

Stepping away helped my perspective. My ears are rested and I'm back with two hours of new rap music I love.

For my first show devoted to new rap music in almost 6 months, I tried to focus on really new rap music. Almost all of these songs have been circulating for a month or less, although I reached back as far as March/April to make sure new music from some regional legends was included.

It's heavy on country rap tunes from Southern up-and-comers but there are goodies from everywhere, including lots from the Bay and from some impressively hungry veterans.

This time out I experimented with splitting the mix into two parts. 2 hours of music is a lot to sit through, especially without track markers, and I figure that this might be a little more manageable.

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Download Pt. 1

1. Main Attrakionz - Legend of Doom
2. French Montana - So High feat. Curren$y
3. Moe Green - Ride
4. Aleon Craft - Donkey Kong
5. DB49 - In the House
6. Paper Route Gangstaz - Stop N Go
7. Lean Team - Track 10
8. Z-Ro - Southside Groovin' feat. Slim Thug
9. Big K.R.I.T.- Now Or Neva
10. Montana Da Mac - Lil Buddy
11. Freddie Gibbs - P.S.A. (Pussy So Amazin')
12. Mr. Mack - Think It Over feat. Project Pat & Yung Ralph
13. Mookie Jones - Keep It Playa feat. Big K.R.I.T. & L.E.S.
14. Kevin Gates - No Hook
15. G-Side - Back 2 the Future
16. Savage - UGK (True Story)
17. Will-Lean the Chemist - Tell Me What You Know About Me feat. Z-Ro, Lil O, J Dawg, Delo & Raw LT
18. Big Boi - General Patton
19. Scarface - Hustle Game
20. Pusha T - Dearly Beloved
21. Alley Boy - My World
22. The Dime - Blue Galaxy
23. Young Gully - Refused feat. Messy Marv
24. Black C - Gave U My Luv
25. Mr. Finley - Get Ya Hustle Up

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Download Pt. 2

1. Beeda Weeda - Basehead Babies
2. The Jacka & Lee Majors - Cocaine feat. Husalah, Keak Da Sneak, Messy Marv, Fed-X, Yukmouth, G-Stack, Dru Down, Rahmean & Cellski
3. Too $hort - I'm a Pimp feat. Earl Hayes
4. Andre Nickatina - Jellybean Colored Suits
5. Massinfluence - Morning Breath Chasers
6. Black Sheep - Born to Che
7. Frank Nitt - Hollyhood feat. Bad Lucc
8. E-40 - Bitch feat. Too $hort
9. Roach Gigz - Let Me Breathe
10. Nemo - Memories
11. Husalah - You Neva Know
12. Big Boi - The Train Pt. 2 (Sir Lucious Left Foot Saves the Day)
13. Lil Burn One - N**** Shyt feat. Country Boi Tweet Gangsta
14. Travis Porter - Keep Ya Head Up feat. Bryan J
15. Rittz - My Time Is Now
16. Henny & P. Dukes - Heaven Help Us
17. 8Ball & MJG - Life Goes On

Many of these songs I first heard on other blogs, so shouts are in order. I grabbed a lot from Dirty Glove Bastard, which posts new music half a dozen times a day yet manages to maintain some type of standards and aesthetic sensibility. A few things came from DJ Burn One's Blvd St, which is post-for-post maybe closest to my taste in current rap music. Southern Hospitality continues to deliver enthusiastic coverage of several scenes I care about. Walkmaster Flex and Soft Money's Space Age Hustle is real new-ish but I like the way it's developing. Fool's Gold's Rappin' Ass Thursdays makes me sad Nick Catchdubs doesn't write about rap music full-time. I think I also discovered a song each via So Many Shrimp, the Oakland Faders' new blog and 38th Notes.

For anyone who is counting:
Songs from the Bay Area: 13
Songs from Atlanta: 8
Songs from Houston: 4
Songs from Huntsville: 3
Songs from other parts of Alabama: 2
Songs from Baton Rouge: 2
Songs from Memphis: 2
Songs from New York: 2
Songs from people named Montana: 2
Songs from people named Wyoming: 0
Songs from my favorite rapper: 2
Songs from CD-Rs handed to me while I was DJing: 1

I would have included some songs from P. Dukes (who has my favorite cameo on here), L.E.$., Juicy J, T-Rock and Backbone, but all the new songs I had by them were ruined by DJ tags.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

California livin'

Rapper deaths are often sudden, violent and shocking, so we remember them.

It seems ghoulish to celebrate the day someone died, but those anniversaries are usually when the lives and work of dead rappers get remembered most.

Last November 1st marked the 5th anniversary of Mac Dre's murder. At around that time DJ r8r sent me a fantastic Mac Dre tribute mix that he and Dave Dice had put together and circulated on a few message boards. I held off on posting it because I felt leery of celebrating Mac Dre's life on the the anniversary of his death and also because I'd recently written about another great mix from r8r & L-wood. (That mix, SAC: Nine-One-Classix, and another excellent r8r & L-Wood collaboration, Sucka Free Classics, are still available on CD at Rapbay.)

I'm writing about the mix because Mac Dre would have turned 40 today. For those outside the Bay, it's hard to overstate the continuing importance, influence and popularity of Mac Dre. Even five years after his death, I probably get as many requests for Dre's music as that of any living rapper and his fun-loving but chilled-out persona is as much of a Bay rap archetype as Too $hort's or 2Pac's. He was an original, and people love him for it.

I can't think of a better distillation of Mac Dre's music than this mix.

r8r and Dave Dice have given me permission to make the mix available for a limited time; when they ask me to take it down, I will. In the meantime, you can grab the mix here.

Here's what r8r had to say about Mac Dre and the mix:

What’s up. As you know, Nov. 1st was a sad day for all of us and rap fans around the world. It marked the 5th anniversary of everyone’s favorite Mac...Mac Dre’s passing. I still remember hearing the news that next morning and praying it was another rumor until networks began posting breaking news reports and my heart dropped. We all felt as if we knew Dre thru his music and in a way connected with him, so for everyone here it was real hard to come to grips with the sad news.

I still remember hitting the pavement in ’89 to Union City Rainbow Records with my boys Bee and Jake to buy Mac Dre’s first release the Young Black Brotha EP. I instantly became a fan of Andre Hicks. He left more than a mark in the industry, he blazed his own trail & set trends and nobody will ever be able to duplicate his charisma and creativity. Though he is gone he is not forgotten he is "Stayin’ Alive & Talkin’ Jive" through the music he left behind. My boys and I felt it was time to come together like Mac Dre & E-40 on Dredio and assemble an 80 min mix of some of our favorite tracks to help remember Dre. We called upon our boy L-wood to come up with a cover for the mix and he gave us Somethang Swavage! Props L-wood and a shot to all the MD supporters worldwide.

The below mix was debuted at 12:00 am last Sunday the 1st of November (2009) on DZNuttzRadio to begin a 24 hour tribute to Mac Dre. We are now offering it to everyone here as a free download to help keep his spirit alive. Please feel free to pass it along to whoever may need some more Dre in their day…his music can work wonders. Also let us know what you think of the mix because Dre has tracks for days and we saved plenty more favorites for possible future MD mixes!

Mac Dre continues to live thru us all! RIP Andre “Mac Dre” Hicks

Here's a track list:

1. Stayin' Alive & Talkin' Jive
2. 2 Hard 4 the Fuckin' Radio
3. Young Playah
4. Feelin' Myself
5. Don't Snitch
6. Don't Be a Punk
7. My Chevy
8. Don't Hate the Player Pt. 2
9. I Gotta Go feat. Marvaless
10. Hoes Love It feat. Spice 1
11. Dollalalalala Lotsa Paypa
12. Mac Dre's the Name
13. Song 4 U feat. PSD Tha Drivah
14. Grown Ass N***** feat. Keak Da Sneak & Dru Down
15. Grown Shit
16. All I Want to Do
17. Miss You
18. Andre & Andre (with Andre Nickatina)
19. Ashowagwon feat. Little Bruce, Dubee & PSD Tha Drivah
20. Gangsta N*****
21. Clap
22. Millionaire Gangsta feat. Rich the Factor
23. Livin' That Life [Remix]
24. I'm in Motion
25. Boss Tycoon feat. Yukmouth
26. Chevys & Fords feat. Little Bruce
27. Playing For Keeps [Remix] feat. Luni Corleone
28. Guns n Roses feat. B.A., Yukmouth & Rydah J. Klyde
29. RIpped When You See Me
30. S.T.U.P.I.D.
31. Since 84
32. Young Black Brotha
33. Doing What I Do

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Sunday, July 4, 2010


In preparing to do the Luv 'n Haight mix that I posted the other day, I ripped a lot of vinyl. Here are two favorites that weren't reissued by Luv 'n Haight:

Roy Porter Sound Machine: "Jessica" (Bel-Ad, 1975)

Luv 'n Haight has reissued a half-dozen Roy Porter tracks but not this one. I had forgotten about this until a friend asked me about it recently.

Johnny Frigo: "Peace" (Kimbo, 197?)

Johnny Frigo was the subject of a cool Luv 'n Haight anthology, but this song wasn't included on it.

I found it years ago on a sweltering day in Tucson and maybe for that reason I always want to throw this on whenever it gets really hot or what passes for really hot in the Bay.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

2 Busy Saying Yeah 22 - Luv 'n Haight Records

One day in the fall of 1990, I took the bus across the Bay to visit a record store that had recently opened on Haight Street in San Francisco, the Groove Merchant.

I combed the bins for hours, stacking up a large pile of funk, jazz and soul 45s and LPs and chatting occasionally with the young couple that owned the store, Michael and Jody McFadin. I was shocked when, as they rung me up, they offered me a job-- they wanted to get out of town for a week, so they more or less just handed me the keys to the shop and to their livelihood.

Jody and Michael McFadin in 1999

Within a year, Mike and Jody launched the Luv 'n Haight Records label from the Groove Merchant. Although the store continued to thrive, drawing everyone from local DJs to foreign record dealers to A-list rap producers, it soon became more of a sideline for them once the record label took off. While Luv 'n Haight stayed focused on reissues, it soon spawned Ubiquity, which was devoted to new music, and Cubop, which was devoted to Latin Jazz. I had stopped working for Mike and Jody by about 1993, but I've watched their success over the years with admiration.

This year the labels are celebrating their 20th year in business with a series of releases and events. I recently spun at one of them, an art opening and party at Guerilla Arts Cafe in Berkeley. (Fun event, by the way; it was great to meet and talk with Darondo and Lawrence Ross of Twilight plus also to see Sureshot Shane, Cool Chris and a lot of other record folks I seldom run into. I also got to play alongside Ohmega Watts, who is a surprisingly good DJ.)

Looking back on what Luv 'n Haight has released over the years, I got motivated to do a live mix of some of my favorite songs from Luv 'n Haight's amazing catalog. Long before labels like the Numero Group, Now-Again and Light in the Attic were around, Luv 'n Haight was making obscure and wonderful rare groove music available. I feel proud of them and of my connection to the label.

For this mix, I drew exclusively from material released on Luv 'n Haight and did not touch on anything from Ubiquity or Cubop, although they've put out some great music too. I also limited myself to one selection per artist-- otherwise there would have been more Darondo, more Mighty Ryeders and way more Arthur Verocai! There are plenty of other songs I would have liked to include, but the mix runs kind of long even with this limited track list.

The mix is dedicated to the original Groove Merchant/Luv 'n Haight crew-- Mike and Jody, Dan Prothero and Damian "Domino" Siguenza-- and also to Andrew Jervis, who came on board a little bit later but has been instrumental in shaping and shepherding the labels through the years.

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1. Darondo : Didn't I
2. Arthur Verocai : Caboclo
3. Penny Goodwin : Too Soon You're Old
4. Weldon Irvine : Turkish Bath
5. PI-R Square : Fantasy
6. Leon Spencer : Where I'm Coming From
7. Sons and Daughters of Lite : Darkuman Junction
8. Mike James Kirkland : Hang On In There
9. J.R. Bailey : Just Me 'n You
10. Twilight : You Know It's Me
11. The Mighty Ryeders : Lovely
12. Eugene Blacknell : We Know We Got to Live Together
13. Courtial : Losing You
14. HP Riot : I Have Changed
15. The Pharaohs : Freedom Road
16. Project Soul : Ebony
17. George Freeman : The Bump
18. The Vibrettes : Humpty Dump
19. Dee Edwards : Why Can't There Be Love
20. The Organization : Smokey Feeling
21. Onyx : Break It Loose
22. Cal Tjader : Mambero
23. Har You Percussion Group : Welcome to the Party
24. Joe McPhee : Shakey Jake
25. Warm Excursion : Hung Up
26. Carl "Sherlock" Holmes : Black Bag
27. The Propositions : Bad Seed
28. Marva Josie : He Does It Better
29. Harry Whitaker : Black Renaissance
30. Sugar Pie DeSanto : Git Back
31. Linda Lyndell : What a Man
32. The Turner Bros. : Sweetest Thing in the World
33. Gary Bartz Ntu Troop: Celestial Blues
34. 24-Carat Black : Food Stamps
35. Rufus Harley : Malik
36. Leroy & the Drivers : Sad Chicken
37. Robert Jay : Alcohol
38. Johnny Talbot & De Thangs : Pickin' Cotton
39. Roy Porter : Party Time
40. Ricardo Marrero : Bablonia (Take Two)
41. Wisdom : Nefertiti
42. James Mason : Sweet Power Your Embrace
43. Burning Desire : Why She Had to Go
44. Rokk : Patience

To hear a slightly different version of this podcast as it originally aired on with a spoken introduction from me, visit here:

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