Steady Bloggin’ & Passion of the Weiss Present: Smooth Operators — A 4/20 Tribute Mix to Sade
Alex Piyevsky is independent, fuck your system.
This happened in the most organic way possible. A week ago, I came home after visiting my weed guy (s/o to H.), started sampling the wares, and turned on one of the stoniest rap oddities I know – a chopped & screwed blend of Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and Z-Ro’s “Respect My Mind.” From there, it was only natural to move on to another very similar curio: a chopped & screwed blend of Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” and Three 6 Mafia’s “Where Is The Bud.” Then I randomly skipped to a new song I’ve been meaning to check out, LG’s “Blue Diamond.” By some cosmic collusion of circumstance, it turned out that LG’s song also samples Sade.
A light bulb sparked in my head, and a lighter sparked in my bong-lighting hand. A few other chopped & screwed Sade songs of various origins came to mind immediately, but what else? Finding more was a little tougher, and a learning experience – I never knew that MF Doom’s “Doomsday” sampled “Kiss Of Life,” or that AZ’s “Payback” sampled “Like A Tattoo.” I’ve never even heard of this Kool Keith song before. And despite their differences, all these things meshed together well, as thought it was meant to be.
I wasn’t aiming to cycle through every good rap song sampling Sade, or every chopped & screwed remix. I was only riffing on a stoned mood. My nerdy OCD did not allow me for more than one appearance of each individual Sade track. So Krayzie Bone was left off in favor of DJ Screw, Curren$y trumped Droop-E, and Mobb Deep got cut for being entirely too dark in tone. Their song was a total buzzkill.
Considering this origin story and the calendar timing, it felt only right to make it a 4/20 thing. S/O to my girlfriend Jenna for a bit of input and to John Turner for the cover. And here we are.
MF Doom – Doomsday
Curren$y – Famous
Sade – Cherish The Day vs Z-Ro – Respect My Mind (C&S By Drobitussin)
Kool Keith – I do What I Want
Sade – No Ordinary Love vs Three Six Mafia – Where Is The Bud (C&S By Slim K)
AZ - Payback
Sade – Smooth Operator (C&S By Drobitussin)
LG – Blue Diamond Ft. Paasky
Sade – By Your Side (C&S By Drobitussin)
Sade – Feel No Pain (C&S By DJ Screw)
ZIP: Smooth Operators: A 420 Tribute Mix To Sade
DJ Screw, AZ, MF Doom, Kool Keith and Curren$y clearly need no introduction, but s/o to them all for having great ears.
It’s pretty incredible that the two chopped & screwed blends pitting Sade originals versus classic Southern rap came from separate sources. It’s less surprising that their creators are my two current favorite C&S DJs, as follows from these very blends. One is Slim K, an increasingly popular standout member of OG Ron C’s Chopstars collective. Many of his mixes can be found on DatPiff, and they’re worth looking up. The other is Drobitussin, a prolific veteran of Youtube’s chopped & screwed trenches with an intermittent bent for throwing unusual selections on the chopping block. Luckily, his work can now be downloaded from http://drobitussin.bandcamp.com/
LG is very talented young rapper from New Orleans, who I’ve previously posted about on POW here: http://passionweiss.com/2012/09/13/synthesizer-man-lg-enters-the-league-almost-fully-formed/
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: “And Then He Was Awakened” by PBDY (Brainfeeder)
These are the basics: Paul Preston (PBDY) was born and raised in Long Island. He moved to Phoenix as a teenager. He wound up in LA. He rolls with Brainfeeder. He shares a house at the edge of a cliff with the Gaslamp Killer and several others. He makes the sort of mixes that you’d expect from someone inducted into the greater Flying Lotus Family. This one is built for late nights and lucid dreams, Sativa hazes and dimly recalled memories. It has Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland and screwed versions of Tela songs; BEAK> and FlyLo. I asked him to describe what mood he was trying to create. This was the reply:
“This was a journey mix–to to take you somewhere, as well as take myself to a different place. My mixes are made for the purpose of just exploring and letting go. Just something from Point A to Point B.”
It’s excellent and sure, that’s the sort of thing you’re supposed to say when someone makes a mix for your website. But you should listen, because I’m telling you the truth. He plays next Wednesday at the Low End Theory. You understand. The tracklist and download link is below the jump
1. John Cale – Living With You (Laurel Halo Remix)
2. Lurker of Chalice – Piercing Where They Might
3. Machinedrum – A New Meaning
4. Fyah Flames – What Would You Say About Me (Prod. By DJ High Waistline) (Instrumental Demo)
5. Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland – 10
6. Mndsgn – not this ext
7. aeirs tv – work
8. RAJA – Over The Sky
9. Koen De Bruyne – Pathetic Dreams
10. Pro Era – School High
11. Nadus – Higher
12. Dean Blunt – Caught Feelings
13. Jo_Def – U_
14. James Blake Retrograde
15. Kid Cudi – Glory (Instrumental)
16. Inc. Seventeen
17. Brian Eno – Emerald And Lime
18. Flying Lotus – Tronix
19. King Felix – Spring 01
20. BEAK> – Mono
21. Tela – Twister (DJ Screw)
22. Chelsea Wolfe – Hyper Oz
Passion of the Weiss Presents: Full Grainz — The Best of DJ Mustard, Mixed by Son Raw
In one year, DJ Mustard went from practically anonymous to $20,000 a beat. That’s how it goes. All you need is one hit and Mustard’s “Rack City” became Las Vegas’ most significant cultural contribution since Fear and Loathing (or maybe “Leaving Las Vegas:” Sheryl Crow edition.) But at home in Los Angeles, Mustard had earned love for years. First as the mixtape DJ for Y.G., later as the guy who made hood house party classics like “I’m Good.” No, it’s not on here. There is only so much Y.G. one mix can handle.
There’s no secret to this shit. The guy has only been producing for two or three years and when I interviewed him, he basically admitted that there was a formula: same BPM, same snares, same sinister groove. He branded well too — calling it Ratchet Music — giving full attribution to Boosie and Trill for the name. It’s basically if you took jerkin’ and mixed it with “Do the Ratchet.” So it is pretty much perfect party music. As an early start to our year-end features, Son Raw made a mix of the best of the man born Dijon McFarlane. Shea Serrano is the irrepressible culprit behind the cover art. Credit due to Trey Kerby for nomenclatural inspiration.
Download link, tracklist, and twerk videos below the jump.
1. Pink Dollaz – Bad Bitch
2. Tyga ft. Y.G. – Bitch Betta Have my Money
3. Iamsu ft. Kool John – Facetime
4. Problem – TO
5. Kid Ink – Last Time
6. 2 Chainz – I’m Different
7. Freddie Gibbs – Every City
8. TY$ – All Star
9. Souljah Boy – FAN
10. E-40 – Over here
11. TY$ – Weekend
12. Joe Moses – I Do it For the Ratchets
13. Red Cafe – Game Over
14. Tyga – Rack City
15. Meek Mill – I’m Rolling
16. YG – I Like Money
17. Dom Kennedy – When I Come Around
18. TY$ – Overtime
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: Peaking Lights
Peaking Lights are crate-diggers who have learned to cover their tracks. Unlike most bands with record collections longer than Tyson Chandler’s arms, they employ very little scratch but plenty of spliff. No song is completely cribbed from one style or scene. At Ad Hoc, I described it as “one sound inextricably intertwined, sharing a single lung– dub deconstructed, but absent any academic baggage…with auroral flecks of krautrock, gospel, soul, and esoteric Spiritualism.” The usual fancy talk to say that they are awesome.
When I interviewed Aaron Coyes at the couple’s Echo Park cottage, he showed me his racks on racks and racks of records. There was little Future and largely the past: cabinets full of rare 45s and 7-inches, limited-press gospel records, Latin, boogie, and imported reggae. Aaron Coyes shops for vinyl equipped with his own mini-turn table. Serious business and no frills. It reflects in their exotic oxygen-rich greenhouse sound. In honor of their stellar new LP, Lucifer, Coyes has been dropping mixes full of obscure gems that could send you down weed-choked rabbit holes for weeks. He was kind enough to bless Passion of the Weiss with the latest salvo, a fluid breezy burner of disco, soul, R&B, reggae, and Lil Flip. He is his own genre. Below the jump, the mix, the tracklisting, the new Peaking Lights song, the after-party.
ZIP: Peaking Lights – Passion of the Weiss Mix (Left-Click)
Jean de Vres – “Marabo”
Hugh Mundell – “Rasta Have the Handle”
Rik Rok – “Some Gal Hot (Instrumental)
Gil Scott Heron/ Brian Jackson – “Willing”
Oby Onyioha – “Want to Feel Your Love”
Beres Hammond – “Be Thankful for What You Got”
Mr Big – “Rmx Cap1″ (Instrumental)
Chakakas – “Jungle Fever”
Slick Skeet – “Uh Ohh!” (Instrumental)
Tapper Zukie – “Ghetto Rock”
Dudley Swaby – “Censemania Dub”
Mongo Santamaria – “Cloud 9″
Hustle 76 – “Hijack”
Tululah Moon – “If you want Love”
MDC – “Funkin for Jamaica”
Lil Flip & TJ – “Boyce this How”
Static ft. R Kelly – “Toot Toot”
The Passion of the Weiss Winter Mixtape: 2012
Like we always do about this time. This is where I rattle off seasonal clichés and explain how this mixtape pairs nicely with said wintery clichés. Big boots, thick jackets, hot chocolate, ice skating, skiing if you’re bourgie. Even if you doesn’t snow where you are, you know the feeling. This is music for the cold walk home, blank canvas mornings. When the sidewalk is just slippery enough to try skating one boot at a time. Let’s try this again, joined by Purple Tape Pedigree’s own Geng Grizzly on the cuts. Join us for a stomp through the snow. – Aaron Matthews, Managing Editor
ZIP: Passion of the Weiss Winter Mixtape: 2012
1. The Beatles – “Rain”
Moving to another country is thrilling, but it distorts perception in interesting ways. Take the somewhat simple task of selecting tracks for a winter mixtape and before you know it you’re facing a crisis that cuts deep into the very fabric of your own sense of cultural identity. As such, my two selections for this edition of the Passion of the Weiss seasonal mix series represent both a native Londoner’s and an alien New Yorker’s take on winter. If we ever meet for brunch in the city then please do take note of the fact that I do indeed like my toast done on the side.
Nothing symbolizes the British winter quite like the subject matter of The Beatles’ highly revered B-side to ‘Paperback Writer’. Come October, the drizzle begins, lifting six months later when spring breaks. If you’re lucky. To add insult to injury, the fine mist soaks you to the bone without the romance of distorted reflections in oily puddles or the soothing beat against a window that accompanies a fierce downpour. In short, it’s miserable. Lennon said that it was “about people moaning about the weather all the time” and if there’s anything more quintessentially British than the rain – or indeed The Beatles – it is our unwavering pessimism towards the weather and our disposition to vocalize it. As evidenced by this blurb, even America can’t take that away from me. – Dan Love
2. Iron Sheiks (Tragedy Khadafi & Imam Thug) “Illuminati”
Paranoia, razor blades, dust cloud pianos, the pained hover of Nina Simone’s voice shattered to a supernatural consistency, and, of course, innately evil governments with only the most sadistic of sworn-in-secret modus operandi; nothing colder exists. Let’s also not forget the drinking water from the pipes of NYC’s largest housing project-turned-Thug Thursday metal-tote anthem breeding ground; Queensbridge. As authors who frequented such topics to revolutionary degrees, within said rap sub(-sub)-genre, from the aforementioned east-of-Manhattan-Island locale, the Iron Sheiks (Trag and IMAM) stood as the title belt holders and gatekeepers. But was that ever a question?
Two things an innately evil government despises? Intelligent thugs and William Cooper. They live to destroy progressive thought in modern society. Two things every thug cat I knew in the 90′s had in their home, even the most ignorant of the heap, a bottle of Henny and Behold A Pale Horse. That meant balance. So in order for you to completely understand this, and I too stand as a Hot Toddy-in-converted-mason-jar-mug kind of person these days, please, just for this, set all previous thirst-quenching inclinations aside and get you a large foam or plastic cup full of that “brown water” (also, brown, not due to pipe mess). These sorts of chalices perform much better from within the embrace of those cup holders in your black “Ac.” Buckle up, turn that defogger on, and ensure that the burner is safely blanketed in the hidden confines of the door panel. Now… wait! See?! This shit has got me thinkin’ all illegal life style! Control your whole mind!! — Geng Grizzly (Fresh Out the Box Radio, Thursday’s, 7:30PM-9:30PM EST)
3. Koushik – “Be With”
Global warming fucked my winters up. Spring hit Toronto 2 weeks early this year, robins gathering between dead trees like they’re supposed to be there. “Be With” sounds like the first sunny day of the season. Grey weeks fall off the calendar and you keep plodding through, when one day you wake up, crack the window and are hit with that one beam of sunlight that validates your last three months. Koushik’s fluttery strings play off that stiff drum beat and crunchy bassline before dissolving into the reverie of harps. Those last 30 seconds hit like the first bird song of the season, and suddenly you’re ready to rock sneakers again. Well earned. – Aaron Matthews
4. Roc Marciano – “Snow”
No pretty shit. No frills. All fear. “Snow” is the shiver and the shank. Roc Marc, encased with the ice pick, outside your igloo, blizzard at his back, blitz on his mind. Clichéd choice? Maybe. Maybe you should acquire a colder heart and a sharper blade. Even if your corner is in cornflake California, “Snow” reminds you of the out-of-breath collapse, bodies dropping in compact bricks of precipitation. Hard as a heart attack. At the mercy of the elements. “Snow” reminds you that you can’t win right now, just keep your head low and stay cool. –Jeff Weiss
5. Mala DMZ – “Eyez V.I.P”
Admittedly, I’ve got an easy reason for including “Eyez” in a Winter mixtape. I saw Mala drop it in the middle of a snowstorm a few weeks ago at an outdoor event and that image is now permanently etched in my memory. Beyond the personal however, there’s several layers of cold at play here, from the mechanical detachment of the opening hi-hats to the glacial calm of the chords. Radiohead and Cold Vein-era El-P aside, few producers have conjured such frighteningly spectral aural landscapes with few elements, all the more surprising considering DMZ is best known for oppressively heavy, roots-sampling tribalism that’s a million miles from the arctic.
But beyond the initial arctic beauty lies more sinister undertones – the coldness of an uncaring machine. Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING can prepare you for that drop – an evil squiggly, menacing creation that’s somehow more threatening than all of the bombast you can squeeze out of a DAW. Like a computer burrowing into your brain it’s emotionless, relentless and uncaring. And nothing quite captures Winter these days quite like the feeling of being trapped between sub zero temperatures and the chilliness of isolation from human contact with a laptop as your only friend. – Son Raw
6. Slowdive “Souvlaki Space Station”
I discovered Slowdive’s Souvlaki years ago in the middle of this disliked season and the album quickly bullied it’s way into heavy rotation during my commutes. It was perfect theme music for my nightly staring into depths of pitch black nothingness through un-kept bus and train windows. Even if you don’t have the pleasure of enduring treks on public transportation, the lush and hazy atmospheric production on this song (and album, with Brian Eno handling a few selections) is top tier background music for countless hours of hibernation.
The slurred ambient soundscape is guided by thick layers of guitar patterns that are distant and distorted but somehow remain melodic. Above the dense riffs are obscured murmurs of Rachel Goswell, whose words fade into the accompanying elements, leaving the lyrics (for the most part) indecipherable. – Note D
7. Virgil Griffin & The Rhythm Kings – “Forgotten Lover”
On the surface, it doesn’t belong in this compilation. It’s a proper deep southern soul ballad, made in Mississippi, of the sort that usually drag all the heat and humidity and swampy decay from below the Mason Dixon line right into your headphones. And surely some of those traits could be found here as well. So where’s the winter then?
Surprisingly, it’s in the negative space. Or to be more exact, it’s in the dramatic pauses. Griffin is obviously lovelorn, that much is clear from the very title. But you can’t appreciate the depth of his sorrow until you notice that at some points he can’t even get through a sentence in one breath. The guy is so beat up that every few moments he needs to stop and collect himself. By the end there’s a palpable sense that Griffin might just unravel completely at any given time. The song’s origins and passions may be warm, but the impression it leaves behind is all ice– Alex Piyevsky
8. Nick Drake – “Place To Be”
The calm of winter nights inspires the type of reflection that leads to revelation. Drake seizes that moment between strummed guitar strings. He’s a young soothsayer, swamped in depression, a druggy haze, he muses on missed opportunities. “Place To Be” lacks the bleakness off the album’s other songs, wrapped in a deep yearning for a purpose, while recalling childish foolishness: “When I was younger, younger than I was before/I never saw the truth hanging from the door”. “Place To Be” holds the laments of two decades worth of unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions. Every time spring starts to rear its head, opportunities missed in the colder month fill your head. The song ends abruptly leaving you wondering what happened to last season. -Aaron Matthews
9, Gil-Scott Heron & Brian Jackson – “Winter In America”
Conversely, I love winter in New York. Sure, it can get bleak: ice-laden sidewalks and the wind that comes off the East River are hardly the highlights of my commute in mid-February. More generally, it’s those beautifully crisp, clear days that come to mind when I think of the season in the Big Apple, where a considered approach to layering and a decent woolly hat are all that’s needed to be able to revel in the sharp, side lit clarity of the city. Gil Scott-Heron’s message of oppression and shattered social values may not be a particularly light-hearted complement to the season but The Midnight Band’s luscious, laid-back groove and Jackson’s soaring flute feel just right as you navigate the sprawl and the sun casts long shadows on frosty concrete.- Dan Love
10. Ka – “Vessel”
Ka’s recently released Grief Pedigree is a worthy contribution to the time honored tradition of New York Winter Albums (see Marcberg and Liquid Swords if you’re not familiar with this canon). Like its illustrious predecessors, this record not only captures the intangible qualities that characterize the city at its coldest, it also successfully translates them into music. I’m tempted to try to describe how right Ka’s music sounds in the headphones on a cold desolate G train platform around 1am, but that’s just one of those perfect collisions of sound and circumstance, an almost entirely intuitive experience that goes beyond words.
I know the above sentiment takes me dangerously close to the smug insular grandstanding that is at least partially responsible for the creative rut that New York rap has faced for years (current mini-resurgence aside). I know it and I still stand by it, because Grief Pedigree is the kind of album that adds to New York’s mythology instead of just mining it for diminishing returns. It’s not revivalism, it’s not a nostalgia trip, its 11 tracks that continue a legacy. ‘Vessel’ happens to be my favorite one of them, but all apply. –Alex Piyevsky
11. The Three Degrees – “Collage”
Seasons change, but that proverbial skeletal-frame-melt shock of loss will always remain as something completely unadaptable; it’s never quite the same as the previous time, just as when the hammer strikes the bell. The suffering is heard through the empty tunnel echo of the track’s opening. The late-60′s psych-tinged vocal sequences by the three soul sisters only takes the journey on a turn for the esoteric. Then the horns and steel drum charge over the rhythm section like your favorite, 5-tier record shelf collapsing…on your 4-month old French bulldog puppy.
Plus the previously mentioned “bell tower intro” of “Collage” was also utilized, in sample form, on THE coldest hip hop album of the year: Ka’s Grief Pedigree. — Geng Grizzly
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: Drunk Funk by Frank Dukes
You think you know funk? The real funk? We don’t roll with track listings here. We at the Passion are proud to present an exclusive drunk and live mix from Toronto producer Frank Dukes who you may know from work for Ghostface Killah (“Purified Thoughts”, “In Tha Park”), 50 Cent (“Respect It Or Check It”) and Danny Brown (“DNA”, “Shootin Moves”). It’s an hour of Dukes spinning (in his words) “whatever the fuck I want” live, ranging from dollar bin soul records to obscure $500 Russian soundtracks for T.O. DJ team Cratery. Track listings are for frauds and snitches. Pour yourself and prepare yourself. Follow the man @frankdukes for more gems. –Aaron Matthews
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: 56 Mix by Stones Throw’s Tim Nable
What you know about Marsha Raven, Eastern Gang, Z-Factor, and Section 25? Probably nothing. You are not alone. My goals for a great mix are pretty simple: if you have original selections and funky sensibilities, I am easily sold. The 56 mix, the latest installment of the Passion of the Weiss Mix Series, succeeds on both fronts, with rare and random boogie funk, disco-rap and minimal wave. I have never heard 93 percent of these songs and I would dance to all of them (were I not painfully aware of the awkwardness that accompanies 6’3 Jews dancing. This is the root of all oy.)
The mix is blended by Stones Throw employee Tim Nable, who is one of the resident DJ’s at 56, the label’s bi-monthly party at Mr. T’s in Highland Park — the first regular party that the label has attached itself to in its 15 year history (in other random self-promotional shills: I wrote about the label’s anniversary in last month’s LA Weekly). 56 launches tonight with DJ sets from Peanut Butter Wolf and the Funkmosphere’s “Gemini Twin,” an enigmatic funk doctor who may or may not have the most impressive hair this side of DJ Quik.
The mix is here. The tracklist is below the jump. The advice is implied.
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: 56 Mix by Stones Throw’s Tim Nable
1. Marsha Raven – “You Make Me Feel Like Loving You” Inst
2. Eastern Gang – “Charlotte”
3. Serge Ponsar – “Lifetime”
4. Section 25 – “Looking from a Hilltop (Megamix)”
6. Z-Factor – “I Am The DJ”
7. Dance Olympus – “Rhythms”
8. E.S.P. – It’s You
9. Laid Back – “It’s The Way You Do It (Velvet Mix)”
10. New Order – “Vanishing Point”
11. New Musik – “24 Hours From Culture – Part II”
12. Candido – “Thousand Finger Man”
13. Ashford & Simpson – Bourgie Bourgie
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series, Volume 6: Silent Dust – “Lukewarm Coffee and Half a Packet of Bourbons”
The music should ideally explain it all. Not necessarily for my job prospects, but for the notion that this stuff should transcend buzz-bin adjectives and ephemeral trends. If you’re doing it right, it’s transportive, allusive to not just other forms of art but buried emotions. Mobb Deep had it right the first time: it ought to be the real shit, shit to make you feel shit. What Havoc occasionally sacrifices in eloquence, he makes up for in blunted truths.
Silent Dust won’t have you wilding out when you bump their self-titled debut. But they will you take you to a place vaguely familiar but ultimately foreign. It’s difficult to describe their music without lapsing into generic signifiers. Sure, it’s moody and it’s cinematic, but it’s more than just eerie loops and murky drums. The RIYL signposts that come attached include, Boards of Canada and early Photek. They aren’t far off. Silent Dust is in the vein of Massive Attack, but also Nicolas Jaar. The British duo used to record D&B under the name Hobzee and Zyon Base and hints of their past are contained. There are songs called “Marlowe” and “1959.” The record could have been made in ’95 or last week and you wouldn’t know the difference. Based in Bristol and Chatham, the duo are inscrutable and that’s to our benefit.
Intrigued by their ideas and wishing to subscribe to their newsletter, I asked Silent Dust to make a mix for the Passion of the Weiss Mix Series (see previous volumes). I figured they would drop some esoteric electronic music that I hadn’t heard. This was an incorrect assumption. Instead, they laced it with vintage soul, blues, and pop. Everything from Francoise Hardy to Nancy Sinatra to O.V Wright. The mix is below, but seeing that they seemed like refined gentleman with excellent taste, I also decided to ask the Dust a few largely absurd questions. Like half a packet of Bourbon, there ain’t nothing wrong with that. – Weiss
You guys have your roots in drum and bass and you’ve kept a similar tempo for the record. However, most casual dance music fans would probably not consider this drum and bass. At the risk of the obvious, what led you out of the more traditional D&B direction and towards writing in this current sound.
We were just bored writing within the formula we had imposed upon ourselves. We always had a large range of influences, but we’d kind of locked ourselves into a certain sound and a certain process of working. It was almost like taking a step back, a couple of deep breaths and really thinking about what we wanted to write.
What is it about the year 1959 that struck you. Was there a concrete connection to the year or just a random association?
Even if there was a concrete connection I think it’s far more fun if we leave that ambiguous.
Favorite Phillip Marlowe quote
The one about trying to be tall from The Big Sleep.
Preferred alcoholic beverage
Havana Club 7 Year.
Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammet?
5 Favorite Noir Films
The Third Man and The Big Sleep obviously. I’m going to say The Killers too, because that’s a great adaptation of a great Hemingway short story. I almost prefer the neo-noirs that came after the classic period though, such as Godard’s Alphaville and Made in USA. The blend of surrealism, sci-fi and noir is a great mix. I think Alphaville would be the closest to the world we tried to create for Silent Dust.
Favorite Femme Fatale
Alida Valli as Anna Schmidt in The Third Man. For the final scene alone.
Least favorite trend in contemporary music
Just boring music. There’s loads of beige MOR stuff around these days.
Favorite thing about popular music?
The 3 minute pop song. Can’t get more perfect than “Be My Baby.”
Thoughts on the Wu-Tang’s phrase: the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum.
Can’t be bothered to answer this one, I’m playing on my djembe.
Silent Dust – “Lukewarm Coffee and Half a Packet of Bourbons”
Abbey Lincoln – Brother Where Are You?
Betty Wright – Gettin’ Tired
Albert King – I Almost Lost My Mind
Nancy Sinatra – Friday’s Child
Los Zafiros – Mi Oracion
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland – I Ain’t Gonna Be the First to Cry
Mosus Dillard & His Tex Display – By The Time I Get to Phoenix
Jennifer Lara – Our Love
Francoise Hardy – Mon Ami La Rose
O.V Wright – You’re Gonna Make Me Cry
Dorothy Ashby – Joyful Grass and Grape
The Staple Sisters – Uncloudy Day
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series: Danny Swain’s “Hour of Power”
The rap game forces patience. Barring the occasional Odd Future fluke, ascent is usually a war of attrition. The Curren$y and Atmosphere model is more common. Slow persistent build, one underground show and mixtape at a time until you force your way into the limelight (limelight in 2011 meaning a Green room filled with hummus and a one-time appearance on Carson Daly.) Somewhere in there lies Danny Swain, whose career has warranted close attention for at least the last several years when he finally eluded the Kanye and Lupe comparisons that overshadowed his early work.
He was signed to Def Jux. Then the label folded without releasing the forever-gestating, “Where is Danny?” There were a few outbursts, but mostly Danny kept quiet, waiting in Cool Calm Purgatory. Who knows what the fuck really happened to his 2009 opus, “Where is Danny!” It was leaked and then the samples were unclearable and then there was a fight with Alex Goose. Frankly, I don’t give a fuck. The music was great — enough for the 21st best of 09. It featured Von Pea and Danny Brown and it was exactly the sort of record that underground rappers should be making: weird, wild, and fun. A world unto itself filled with cartoon plots and swift inscrutable actions. It picked up praise amongst the usual circle of 40 and even earned him the praise of Lil B, but still Danny Swain stays largely slept-on. This is a shame.
He tells me he’s making moves now. Talking about an Interscope deal and a boutique label. I don’t think anyone anywhere anytime will ever release an album on Interscope again. But I should probably keep those opinions to myself. I just hope Danny Swain continues to make music because I think he’s really good at it. Often enough, he’s great at it. His mind is psychedelic and bizarre. Few have as chimerical an imagination. His taste is refined and he raps like his favorite show is “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Funny, neurotic, and woman obsessed. He is angry that he isn’t more well known and he probably has a right to be. Hip hop fans should pay more attention. Rappers that drop Jim Crow, Blue Note, Dutch Jazz and Serge Gainsbourg all in one mix are anything but common.
The tracklist is below the jump, along with well-chosen words for each song. I asked Danny for a quick mix. He did everything but dub a tape and hand paint the album cover. He is a craftsman in an age on consumption. His Where is Danny? is available on iTunes. Payback is coming in the 4th Quarter. Danny is very much alive. –Weiss
1. Passion of The Weiss Drop (intro)
Music from overseas never ceases to amaze me. I’m not sure what it is about it. I honestly don’t know much about this racially-ambiguous electro-pop trio from Sweden that I stumbled across last week on the Altered Zones site, but I’ve been Googling like crazy for any and all of their material ever since. This is the only other song I see out there other than the chime-laden “Run To You”, which has this beginning-of-summer feel that I can’t quite get enough of. On “Falling”, vocal improvisations weave in and out of the simple melody then instantly ends, leaving you either wanting more or ready to punch a baby. Them damn Swedes, I tell ya.
3. Twennywine with Lenny White – Morning Sunrise (Elektra, 1979)
I tend to have this weird affinity for songs with the words “morning” or “moon” in them. Nancy Wilson’s rendition of “Moon River” gets constant play in the headphones and I couldn’t even begin to rattle off all of the songs that reference the morning time. Being a huge fan of keyboardist Don Blackman, who worked with Lenny White’s band extensively in the late 70s and produced this rendition of the Weldon Irvine ballad, it certainly is an understatement to say that this gem is one of my all-time favorites. You can find a chuckling Blackman (no pun intended, really) in the far right of the LP’s back cover.
4. City Boy – The World Loves A Dancer (Mercury, 1978)
Lettuce be reality: rapper The Game gets a bad rap. I truly believe that. Sure, he brings it on himself sometimes with his 300+ bar disses, unprovoked remarks about the long-forgotten G-Unit or his ever-changing tattoo switch-ups (didn’t dude get a unicorn tatted on his right cheekbone?). But this guy can spit, period. Not only that, but I can identify with getting ostracized from a group over bullshit, miscommunication and misunderstandings. I also know quite well the benefits of using music as a release for whatever issues may be going on; if done correctly, it can serve as effective therapy as well as clarity for the general public. “My Bitch”, an outtake from 2006′s “The Doctor’s Advocate”, scathingly — and cleverly — disses 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Suge Knight on its three respective verses by likening them as three shady women who he will always have some sort of control over. Sure, Game.
I don’t think the sample for “My Bitch” has ever been identified before now but anyone who knows me knows that I am a sample encyclopedia. When I first heard “My Bitch”, I immediately thought of this record I had bought only a year or so prior with six nerdy looking guys on its cover. Sure enough, track 2 on the B-side of “Book Early” — a somber tale of an inner-city dancer who craves the limelight and tires of her bleak surroundings — was the backdrop for The Game’s song. Since I also seem to gravitate toward songs that chronicle an artist’s personal struggle with wanting to better his or her life through their craft by any and all costs, “The World Loves A Dancer” became a much-played song over the years. Let’s see if The Game flips any Hall & Oates records for his 88th G-Unit diss.
5. Serge Gainsbourg – Avant de Mourir (Philips, 1970)
Regarded simultaneously as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians and skirt-chasing boozehound, the singer-songwriter-composer born Lucien Ginsburg scored over 40 film soundtracks during his illustrious career. As the 60s were coming to a close, French director Pierre Koralnik commissioned Gainsbourg to provide the film score for what would become 1970′s “Cannabis”, known in the United States and elsewhere as “French Intrigue”. In the movie, Gainsbourg plays a killer working for the American Mafia.
Oh, how I wish I could score film soundtracks for a living while hyped up on cases of Four Loko. Perhaps not; the talented Gainsbourg died of a heart attack in his early 60s. A loop from “Avant de Mourir” would later be sampled by me for “Lost One” from “Where Is Danny?”, the album’s sole heartfelt track whose legitimacy is marred only by random flatulence embedded within the beat. Excuse me.
6. Carmen McCrae – Can’t Hide Love (Blue Note, 1976)
If I had a Ten Favorite Songs Of All Time list, “Can’t Hide Love” would be near the top. Originally recorded by Earth Wind & Fire and released in 1975, this ballad has gone on to become one of the most covered songs in musical history. Numerous artists ranging from Dionne Warwick to Saul Williams (no, really) have since recorded their own version of the song, but the Earth Wind & Fire original remains my personal favorite. To be completely honest, this cover from Carmen McCrae a year after the Skip Scarborough-penned track was first released is not one of my favorite versions. But the oft-overlooked jazz singer does a pretty unique scat improvisation toward the end of the song that I do enjoy; it comes after the song’s final verse and continues until fade-out. A newfound appreciation for this cover version? You can’t hide that.
7. Alison Crockett – I’mgonnacome (SOL Records, 2004)
I think it was around late 2005 or so, right around the time I was creating my third album “Charm”, that I began to develop a sort of snobbery about the type of music I sampled. I admit it and it’s nothing I’m totally proud of; D.L. Chandler (of the rap group Dumhi and currently a blogger for MTV) has even called me out about it. Desperate to separate myself from (and not get overlooked among) the scores of emerging — and established — internetground groups at the time that I was constantly lumped with, I ditched my James Brown records in favor of Hungarian jazz fusion bands who only pressed up 100 copies of their 1973 LP and distributed them in cereal boxes. I would sneer at these producers on songs like “Yoko Ono” from atop my mile-high mountain of Scandinavian prog-rock, Bosnian public access radio and Russian big band albums. Not because I disliked these producers, as I’m a fan of most of them, but because I wanted to stand out among what seemed like a sea of hey-I-make-beats-too! guys.
In retrospect I may have gained a boatload of obscure records and fondness for them, but the downside is that I may have inadvertently alienated myself from the scene. To this day most of my peers choose not to reach out to me for collaborating, and I may or may not be partially to blame. One of the least obscure joints I obtained during this period, Crockett’s “On Becoming A Woman” is indicative of the new direction I was trying to take hip-hop into. “I’mgonnacome” from the 2004 neo-soul record has a sense of urgency that is equal parts coy and sexy.
8. Tevin Campbell – Goodbye (Qwest, 1991)
Every time I hear this song play I’m instantly transported to 1991, the year I got dumped by my very first girlfriend. Her name was Heather and she had a bob haircut, blue eyes and earrings that I believe her mother made for her. We spent most of our time making out, primarily during the school’s annual Star Dome presentation (you remember those tents with the constellations that were projected onto the ceiling), but also behind the water fountain, the playground, the bathroom. Wherever. To this day I cannot remember why it is we broke up, but I do know that she’s the one who severed ties with me and it began a lifelong pattern of women breaking it off with me with little to no explanation or justification. I used Campbell’s “Goodbye” to cope and quickly forgot about her the more I watched Keshia Knight Pulliam on The Cosby Show. Heather who?
9. Similou – Orchid Queen (Dealers of Nordic, 2003)
Similou is, oddly enough, another electronic Sweden-based band I stumbled across. Like Le Pamplemoüse, there isn’t much about them that I know outside of a few songs here and there that were released onto the Internet. I first heard of them back in 2006 or so, when I acquired a compilation CD of European downtempo music from a flea market. This song preceded their 2005 debut album “So Hot Right Now” and I believe was used on a European Volkswagen commercial. Either that or an Oscar Mayer advert. Where’s YouTube when you need it?
10. Maria Kawata – Going To (Alva Records, 2005)
If you ask any underground producer who their idol is, most will exclaim “Dilla!” emphatically. Some will say “Danny!”, but very, very few. At any rate, the producer known for taking half-second chops of records and fleshing them out into five-second loops and, in turn, creating classic records was my muse for 2008′s “Where You Goin’”. The source? “Going To” by Maria Kawata. If you look on the album credits for “And I Love H.E.R.” the liner notes credit Maria as a featured artist. Gotcha, bitch: I merely chopped the fuck out of this 2005 lead single from the obscure Japanese pop singer, who only put out one album on Alva Records before disappearing into musical oblivion. The deception wasn’t ill-intentioned, however: a stipulation in clearing the sample back then provisioned that I credit the singer as a featured artist in hopes of garnering interest for her in the United States.
To be frank, Maria’s voice is horrendous. It’s hollow. It’s tinny. It needs development. But everything about the production of “Going To” — the bass line, the Rhodes, the sound effects, hell the vocal arrangements — seemed too good to pass up. So I didn’t.
11. If – Fly, Fly The Route Shoot (Metronome, 1973)
In more crate-digging snobbery, this album comes courtesy of a shopping spree I took myself on back in mid-2006 as sales from “Charm” started to trickle in (and boy, did they). Eschewing soul and R&B records for untapped genres such as British jazz-rock, I flipped this gem and created “The Chute” from my 2007 instrumental record “Dream, Fulfilled”. By 1973, when this song was released on the album “Double Diamond”, If had gone through so many line-up changes that only original member that remained was composer Dick Morrissey. Proving that the band still “had it”, this song is If bassist Kurt Palomaki’s sole songwriter contribution to “Double Diamond” (he shares a co-composer credit with Morrissey on “Play, Play, Play” from the same album) and its success helped re-establish the brand. Fly, fly indeed.
12. Otto Weiss and his Rhythms – Lately Tune (Concert Hall, 1967)
I only chose this record because the composer shares the last name of the homie Jeff Weiss. Who’s your daddy? If it’s Otto Weiss, that’s pretty dope. [ed. note: he bears no relation to Otto Weiss, but is cousins with Dean from No Age.]
13. Roos Jonker – Shoes & Booze (Dox Records, 2010)
It’s only a matter of time before Dutch pop/jazz singer becomes a household name in the Western world. Until then she seems more than content to take her neck of the woods by storm, releasing her “Mmmmm” album overseas in 2010 to moderate fanfare. “Shoes & Booze” is a catchy little ditty about, well, footwear and alcohol, and would not be out of place in an episode of “Skins”. As for Jonker, whose voice I could best describe as Corrine Bailey Rae meets Norah Jones on prescription ADD medication, she is currently on a European tour while preparing what appears to be her second as-yet-untitled offering. Delicious.
14. Jim Crow – That Drama (Baby’s Mama) (featuring Jazze Pha Too $hort) (Sony, 1999)
One of the dozen of Atlanta-based rap groups that both emerged and faltered because of Outkast’s ominous shadow, Jim Crow was a trio who released two studio albums before being dropped from Sony in 2002. I remember this song getting a lot of burn on MTV when I was a junior in high school; I would recite Too $hort’s verse with precision, emulating his tactless disregard for all things monogamous. With an outrageous name like Jim Crow, it’s no wonder that the song (as well as the group) failed to take off; if nothing else, this tracks serves best as one of the first appearances of Polow Da Don and Jazze Pha (who, though not a member of the group, croons on the song’s chorus alongside scratched vocals from Too $hort’s “Couldn’t Be A Better Player”).
15. The Bins – Dear Jane (featuring Bobby Blunt and Danny!) (self-released, 2011)
This ain’t your daddy’s breakup letter. The Bins is the stage name for Clark Barclay, who produced this track from his 2011 EP “Every Minute Of The Day”. Myself and crooner Bobby Blunt are featured on this song, which has a stadium feel thanks to the crowd ambience and usage of reverb in the song’s drums. You’ll want to check out the remainder of “Every Minute Of The Day”, trust me.
16. Eminem – Underground (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope, 2009)
Boy, how everything comes full circle. It’s no secret that Slim Shady is the rapper I am most influenced by; early notebooks containing my raps contain gory, violent and outlandish lyrics that would make Tyler, The Creator weep. I cleaned up my act tremendously from the release of my debut record onward. “The College Kicked-Out” was conceived around the same time Eminem’s grip on me loosened with watered down material such as “Encore”. By the top of 2009, however, I felt tapped out musically. Where was I to draw inspiration from? Later that year I’d fall out with my musical collective, which further added to my disinterest in rap altogether. Then “Relapse” leaked. Em’s comeback album not only helped me through a difficult time (I had recently broke up with a girlfriend as well), but it lit a much-needed fire under my ass because it was just THAT damn good. While “Madvillainy” inspired the conception of “Where Is Danny?”, “Relapse” helped put it onto paper; close listeners will easily hear the similarities between “Relapse”‘s bonus track “My Darling” and “Mama I Want To Fucking Sing”, and cadences from Em’s monumental Tim Westwood freestyles from around the same time pop up on “Many Reasons” and “No One Can Hear You Cry”.
I’ve heard everyone from critics to Em himself denounce this record but I disagree whole-heartedly. “Underground” was the perfect way to end, for me, the perfect record and I like to pretend that I’m the Danny he’s referring to in the first verse. I’m sure I’m wrong.
17. Donwill – Shake It Easy (featuring Peter Hadar) (Interdependent Media, 2010)
There aren’t a lot of rap songs, or songs in general for that matter, that choke me up but my homie Donwill succeeded in doing that with “Shake It Easy”. I don’t know if it’s the lyrics, or the sentiments behind them, or the beat, or the chorus, or the emotional video, or a combination of all of these things, but this track really hits me in the heart and I’m not ashamed to say that. Everyone’s been through the ringer relationship-wise at least one point in their lives, and this song embodies all of the emotions — despair, remorse, and fear — involved in that. “Don Cusack In High Fidelity” is Donwill’s opus, and “Shake It Easy” finds the talented young man at his most poignant.
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series — Volume 4: Souvenir
Every two years I offer the same soliloquy: Souvenir remain one of the most criminally unsung outfits in the world. Maybe criminal is overstatement. I am opposed to any indictments pertaining to the curious case of the Pamplona-raised duo who croon in multiple romance languages and recall something resembling a surf rock Spanish Stereolab.
Their bio one-liner calls them “blonde electro with sexy guitars.” Nothing wrong with that, and while Lætitia Sadier and company stay on sabbatical with options, it should leave Souvenir as vanguards of driving disco-tinged pop. I don’t typically ride for this sort of thing, but Souvenir trump personal taste. Alas, Iberian indie Jabalina Music won’t replace 4AD for marketing muscle, so the duo of J’aime Cristobal and Patricia De La Fuente idle domestically as the token popist embrace of a few random champions.
The great Dom Passantino, he of Warren Zevon and N.W.A. fervor, first put us up on juego in the Stylus days when we slapped Souvenir’s 64 with a Stylus Recommends. Since then, they’ve dropped a pair of records including this year’s stellar Travelogues, which continues their reign of sleek strobelite grooves. Because they receive my vote for the greatest Gallic-inclined, Spanish synth-pop group of all time, I asked them to contribute a mix to the Passion of the Weiss’ Mix Series. They were gracious enough to drop this mix of Madonna, Bo Diddley, unreleased remixes and alternate versions of their own work. Plus, a half dozen other tracks I’ve never heard. Something to remember them by.
ZIP: Passion of the Weiss Mix Series — Volume 4: Souvenir
Watch: Souvenir on Spanish TV
1. Souvenir – Arrête-toi
2. The New York Models – Hot For You
3. Souvenir – Les Surfeurs (Italo Mix)
4. Madonna – Gambler
5. Bo Diddley – Bo’s Bounce
6. Souvenir – Taboo
7. The Twins – Face to Face Heart to Heart
8. Souvenir – Talk to Me
9. Florrie – Left Too Late
10. epilogue: Alizée – A quoi rêve une jeune fille
The Passion of the Weiss Spring 2011 Mixtape
Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?mzkya34m90go4bf
1. Dorothy Ashby – “Canto de Osana” (Dan Love)
2. 2Pac – “It ain’t Easy” (Abe Beame)
3. Ernie K. Doe – “Here Come the Girls” (Matt Shea)
4. Blurry Drones – “A Prayer for Elliot Spitzer” (Douglas Martin)
5. Bob Marley & the Wailers -”Selassie in the Chapel” (Thomas Odumade)
6. Money Mark – “Pinto’s New Car” (Nate Patrin)
7. Laura Veirs – “July Flame” (Aaron Matthews)
8. Portastatic – “I Wanna Know Girls” (AM)
9. The Black Seeds – “One By One” (Zilla)
10. Of Montreal – “Faberge Falls for Shugie” (Sach O)
11. Ikonika – “Look (Final Boss Stage)” (Sach 0)
12. Black Moth Super Rainbow – “Forever Heavy” (Jeff Weiss)
Like we always do about this time. Music for the springtime. Scarves and mitts, played out like Kwame and polka dots. Each one of these tracks sounds vernal. Sadly, our own Son Raw couldn’t find a way to mix “Springtime for Hitler” with 2pac, so we had to stay remotely sensible. That omission aside, we hope you’ll find the mix an ideal companion as the days grow longer and the skirts grow shorter. -AM
1. Dorothy Ashby – “Canto de Osana” (Dan Love)
The harp may not be the instrument that immediately jumps to mind when considering the visceral drive of jazz music, but Dorothy Ashby proved that it could be as much of a bebop instrument as the muted trumpet. Taken from her album Dorothy’s Harp of 1969, ‘Canto de Ossanha’ is an example of how deftly she could also fuse elements from other genres into her particular jazz aesthetic, and its latin momentum serves as the perfect aperitif to the season. Chin chin.
2. 2Pac – “It ain’t Easy” (Abe Beame)
In New York, Spring is a slow thaw. Warm weather returns in measured bites. Slowly, you remember how many beautiful women live in this city, what charcoal smells like, how refreshing it can be sleeping with the window open. But more often then not it’s fucked up. A two month long cold drizzle, the smell of manure as frozen turf turns to mud, getting fooled by a warm afternoon and getting caught out in Manhattan under-dressed on a wind chilled evening. That’s why for me, Tupac’s low key standout rant off his best album is a perfect Spring anthem.
Pac is lively, bouncing all over an effervescent beat, but his message is one of guarded optimism. He recounts hardship after hardship and grim foreboding, but does so in a manner that suggests appreciation — for his problems, for the past that made him the person he is, for the comrades in arms he leans on for support. He gives himself a moment to take inventory and finds he can do nothing but shake his head and be thankful for it all, the good and the bad in our too short lives.
For me the song works off the page, it’s a call back to the world. Getting back in touch, getting back on my grind, getting my mind right on the verge of another Summer.
3. Ernie K-Doe – “Here Come the Girls” (Matt Shea)
I’ll let you in on a secret. There is no spring in Brisbane. We’re bloom deficient. The cold desert winds blow until early September, when summer finally flickers like a fluorescent bulb before coming on strong in the middle of the month. It means you get little time to catch the blossoms and hedge the bushes. Instead, spring simply means a superhero like shedding of clothes and donning of wide-brimmed hats. Suddenly there are ladies everywhere, cardigans left behind in favour of something a little more unbuttoned. It’s pretty awesome, and if Ernie K-Doe were still alive he’d probably lose his mind. Every year this track gets an instinctive resurrection, whether it be on the drop of a needle or a drag to a playlist. K-Doe knew how the world ticked, and in these three minutes of shuffling, brass laced gold, encapsulates what all men feel when they encounter the fairer sex on the first day of spring.
4. Blurry Drones – “A Prayer for Eliot Spitzer” (Douglas Martin)
For last year’s Winter Mixtape, I contributed a beat predictably entitled “Winter Weather,” originally intended to be the first taste of an instrumental record I was going to title Legit Punks. Somewhere along the way, Zilla Rocca and I started to work on the next 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers record in earnest, and I decided to scrap Legit Punks for now and not save all the good beats for myself. “A Prayer for Eliot Spitzer” was one of the few beats I decided not to give to him, as it doesn’t particularly fit the Shadowboxer template. Particularly because of its springiness.
Eliot Spitzer resigned from his post as Governor of New York on March 12, 2008, as a result of his much-publicized affair with a high-end call girl. That day, my eyes were mostly fixed on CNN, but out of the corner of my right one, I could see the cherry blossoms sprouting alluring pink pedals outside of my apartment’s living room window. As Spitzer ruefully announced his resignation, the prettiness blooming outside of my window provided a stark contrast to the ugly scandal unfolding before my eyes. For a minute, I thought about the concept of yielding to temptation and all of the consequences that could come from it. A married man spending almost $80,000 on prostitutes is a pretty drastic way to yield to temptation, but for a split-second, I empathized with Spitzer.
The next year, singer/songwriter Mirah put out a record called (A)Spera, but I hardly ever made it past the first track. It was almost springtime again, and “Generosity,” with its bright strings and sprightly vocals intertwining with the birds singing on my patio. There were single words and batches of words that instantly made me think of the moment where Spitzer publicly admitted that he had submitted to temptation. I sprung to the computer, chopped those words and sounds up, added drums, and listened to the playback. I’m not much of a praying man, but there was something very human in the way Eliot Spitzer stood in front of those cameras and microphones, solemnly taking penance for his actions. There’s a weird sort of clearing the slate when this happens, a weird sort of emotional Spring Cleaning.
5. Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Selassie in the Chapel” (Thomas Odumade)
A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that Edmonton really only has two seasons: winter and “not-winter.” It stuck with me because it’s a perfect observation — winter haunts this city, pervasive enough that it makes sense to define the turn of the seasons by its presence or lack thereof. By contrast, I’ve never felt that Spring had much of a presence, with temperatures typically remaining low enough to give the impression of winter fading straight into the tragically short summer. For me, while it masquerades as a bonafide season, Spring is more a theoretical placeholder marking the transition between toques and t-shirts. Basically, blink and you’ll miss it.
All this is a roundabout way of saying that if there is a feeling I associate most with Spring, it would be subtlety bordering on the barely-perceptible. Also I will use every opportunity I can to complain about the weather. Bob Marley & The Wailers’ “Selassie Is the Chapel” has the lightness and glow that I associate with Spring, but also a cold, lonesome sound that tempers the warmth. The Wailers take a solemn, and rather staid, gospel ballad, and give it a playfulness and muted intensity that’s absent from the original. The guitar hiccups and a traditional Rastafari beat lazily winds its way to the surface of the track. This song is like days getting longer and ice melting at a slow crawl. And like sunlight reflected off a snow-covered field, blurring your vision, filling everything with white.
6. Money Mark – “Pinto’s New Car” (Nate Patrin)
For something like half the country, spring is when things actually start looking like they do on TV and feeling like how the rest of America is actually supposed to feel. This is why living in the upper Midwest or New England during what has been a double-motherfucker deluxe of a winter has given a bit more weight to music that evokes places like the American Southwest, directly or otherwise. Mark Nishita’s pretty damn L.A., at least when it comes to associations with the Beastie Boys’ early ’90s West Coast phase, so maybe that’s why “Pinto’s New Car” sounds better now than it did three months ago. There’s nothing specific I can really point to, other than an undercurrent of Latin soul that feels vaguely like the 70-degree Cali atmosphere Mark’s Keyboard Repair was created in — even if the keyboard riffs and conga/woodblock percussion on this track just as easily evoke the vintage boogaloo and Latin jazz of ’60s Spanish Harlem. It could be the title — what other time of year feels best to break in a new car, cruising around with the windows down all weekend so by the time summer rolls around it’ll really feel like it’s yours? Or maybe it’s something about that organ tone — light, airy, warm — that actually feels like the first time the mercury breaches 60 in five months.
7. Laura Veirs – “July Flame” (Aaron Matthews)
The title throws you off, but there’s something about the stark, chilly clarity of Veirs’ riff on “July Flame”. The guitar cuts through your senses like the first glimpse of sun after weeks of grey. It’s that green blade peaking out of sidewalks stained with monochrome snow. The initial starkness of “July Flame” thaws as it rolls forward, as Veirs’ solitary coo and strum are joined by bright synths, campfire backing vocals and flutes. Summer is on its way, but for now 3 degree weather and the promise of warmer days will do.
8. Portastatic – “I Wanna Know Girls”
“I Wanna Know Girls” reminds me of the first day of spring. The muscular guitar chimes like Roger McGuinn jamming with the Boss. Mac McCaughan’s earnest yelp serenades everything wonderful about women. “I Wanna Know Girls” is shambling ardour that only gets louder and more insistent, as the mistakes and resentments of the last season melt away. McCaughan acknowledges he’s been “pushed off his share of rocks” but he still loves what he can learn from women. And you too can step out the house with a newfound wisdom and optimism. That first day when you can look at your parka hanging on the rack with relief? “I Wanna Know Girls” was made for this occasion. Reach for your dusty varsity and get on your way.
9. The Black Seeds – “One By One” (Zilla)
I’ve never lost ten pounds in an anti-contamination suit, shuttling inside a dusty RV over a four day span out in the desert, cooking containers of blue crystal, ducking the law, rival dealers, and family check-in calls with a dropout drug dealer half my age. But if I ever find myself in that situation,”One By One” by The Black Seeds, a funk/afrobeat band from New Zeland that Bret MacKenzie of Flight of the Conchords once played with, is the first song on playlist ‘Cookin’ Jamz’. “One By One” by might’ve caught your ear during the brilliant episode “Four Days Out” from the second season of television’s best show Breaking Bad. Naturally, the story of a cancer-ridden Arizonian high school teacher moving weight like Oprah’s trainer in a claustraphobic heat box needed more Kiwi riddims. The greatness of both “One By One” and the scene in Breaking Bad from which its used is apparent: this weightless, breezy, dub hopper can make even the most hellaciously agonizing drug operation seem whimsical and sunny. It reduces crystal meth production to a dance lesson.
10. Of Montreal – “Faberge Falls for Shugie” (Sach)
I have to admit that my half-hearted effort to embrace Montreal’s indie scene circa 2005-08 feels like a bit of a waste in retrospect but I offer no appologies for my Kevin Barnes stanery: the man writes a dope pop song. “Faberge Falls for Shugie” is one of those songs that reminds me that there’s always light after the darkness: coming off a particularly depressing and brutal stretch on Hissing Fauna , it sound tracked the spring of ‘07 which followed a particularly nasty winter that involved a failed film project and the end of my undergraduate degree. Personal memories aside though, “Faberge Falls” is all about that electric piano: those chords are so warm and funky that you can’t help but think of melting snow and the fact that for the next 6 months you won’t have to even begin to think about winter.
11. Ikonika – Look (Final Boss Stage)
Likewise, this Ikonika song brings me back to last Spring and my well-intentioned but ill-advised attempt at jogging. Contact, Love, Want, Have (along with releases by Guido and Starkey) soundtracked my daily dose of physical movement and I felt a strong source of pride at getting to this penultimate track without collapsing somewhere in between my house and the west side of town. Sonically, it’s warm but with blasts of ice-cold synths, mirroring the first half of spring in the frigid wasteland I call home but it’s also propulsive and energized and never fails to remind me of that last spring before I hit home.
12. Black Moth Super Rainbow – Forever Heavy (Jeff Weiss)
You measure spring by the light, not the weather. It rained today and it’s snowing in the East. You can’t trust this season. It will seduce you and sell you for weed money. Maybe I should have picked a Too Short song. Instead, it’s Black Moth Super Rainbow, out of black lung Pittsburgh. Vocoder pop, the color of melted popsicles. Drums gritty and sweet as crushed Trix. You remember when you were young(er) and the calendar cracked open. March was the gateway to Slip-N-Slide season, Spring Break, Easter Egg colors and green before you called it cream.
Tobacco, head larvae, sings like a sunshine nightmare, vox converted into code, repeating the refrain, “Chewing on bubble gum/laughing in the field.” The song splits its lip at the one minute mark, an understated “whooo,” and the blood starts flowing. The keyboard cranks, your legs have lift, and it’s springtime. Opening day happens once a year. Darkness doesn’t settle up until 7:30. But keep your umbrellas close by.
Passion of the Weiss Mix: Candy Candy Children (White Stripes Rarities)
Jack White wouldn’t endorse this compilation. He’s a proud Luddite — wary of technology, illegal piracy, and all the ills they engender. Print is better than blogs. CD’s are better than MP3′s. And vinyl trumps all. As someone similarly inclined to such anachronisms, I offer him a salute and an apology. I suspect that White really wants his music to have value. So appreciate these songs, culled from B-Sides and Christmas compilations, live sessions and strange flotsam left behind over 14 stellar years. Covers of Beefheart and Dylan, Dolly and Dan Miller. Buy them if you can. Ideally, on wax. Otherwise, here are 17 of the Stripes’ finest non-album cuts, some of which were written about here, some of which weren’t. Whatever. No need to waste words when The Candy Cane children are offering presents. Hear hear.
Tracklist below the jump.
1. The White Stripes-”Party of Special Things to Do” (Captain Beefheart Cover)
2. The White Stripes-”Walking With a Ghost” (Tegan & Sara Cover)
3. The White Stripes-”Hand Springs”
4. The White Stripes-”Candy Cane Children”
5. The White Stripes-”Honey, We Can’t Afford to Look This Cheap”
6. The White Stripes-”Shelter of Your Arms”
7. The White Stripes-”Who’s A Big Baby”
8. The White Stripes-”Suzy Lee” (BBC Radio-1 Evening Session)”
9. The White Stripes-”Lovesick” (Live at The Forum)
10. The White Stripes-”Who’s To Say” (Dan Miller Cover)
11. The White Stripes-”Screwdriver” (live 6/1/05)
12. The White Stripes-”Ashtray Heart” (Captain Beefheart Cover)
13. The White Stripes-”The Denial Twist” (live on KCRW 8/15/05)
14. The White Stripes-”Isis” (Bob Dylan Cover)
15. The White Stripes-”Good to Me” (Brendan Benson Cover)
16. The White Stripes-”Stop Breaking Down” (BBC Radio-1 Evening Session) (Robert Johnson Cover)
17. The White Stripes-”Jolene” (Dolly Parton Cover)
Son Raw – 2010 Year end RAP mix
Son Raw is still eating turkey sandwiches for lunch.
As you may have noticed, we’ve been writing a lot of words around here and as such, we’re pretty worn out. Content may be sparse around here until next week but then again it may not, you never know with us. Regardless, sit down: would you like a rap mix? I made it myself with some of my favorite tunes from the past year. It doesn’t exactly match up with our rap singles list but as the kids say these days, “whatevs.” In any case, it’s 50 minutes of music from the past year and acts as a pretty snazzy snapshot of the past year’s listening if I do say so myself. Tracklist after the jump
MP3: Son Raw – 2010 Year end Rap Mix (left click)
Curren$y ft Raekwon – Michael Knight Remix
Roc Marciano – Scarface Nigga
Vado – Large on the Streets
Freeway – The Product
Kanye West – So Appalled ft Swizz Beats, Jay-Z, Pusha T & Rza
Nicki Minaj – Here I Am
Erykah Badu ft Lil Wanye – Jump Up in the Air & Stay There
5 O Clock Shadowboxers – No Resolution 2
Freddie Gibbs – The Ghetto
Gangrene – Gutter Water
Madvillain – Papermill
Blu ft U-God – Keep it Goin
Rick Ross ft Gucci Mane – MC Hammer
Waka Flocka Flame – Hard in the Paint (Modified Noise remix)
Wiz Khalifa – Still Blazin’
Dipset – Salute
Big Boi – Fo Yo Sorrows
Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7
The Top DJ Mixes of 2010
The following are some of our favorite mixes of the past year in no particular order. If a mix was given out for free, click through for audio, if it was commercially released, click through to buy it. If it was released in another dimension, invoke the dark lord Cthulu to tear a hole through the fabric of the universe and steal it from the Machine Elves. Crafty little bastards.
While 2010 may not have been a great year for hip-hop purists, the passing of Gang Starr’s Guru, if it had any positive affect, led to small chasms in DJ circles where the result was a noticeably stronger affinity for veteran underground hip-hop. I noticed artists like Tribe, Redman and Busta Rhymes starting to get more play towards the end of the year, and surely the tributes to Guru In 2010 were anything but few and far between. What made DJ Premier’s tribute mix stand out among others was not only his storied history with Gang Starr, but his classic cuts and scratches, song selection and a straight-up eerie story about going to see Guru in the hospital before his death, which is worth the listen alone. The mix also serves as sort of a diss to MC Solar with the early placement of “Betrayal” and the constant reiteration of this mix being a “salute” not a “tribute”, which Premier was explicitly barred from doing in Guru’s “farewell letter”, one that many believe was written by Solar. Between all of the bad blood and mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, Guru will always be remembered as one of the best MCs and storytellers in hip-hop history and this mix shows off every single side of his talent, from the street-savvy wit on “Execution of a Chump” to the worldly, thoughtful conscience on “Above The Clouds”. – Aaron Frank
Need to know what London sounded like in 2010? Give this a couple of spins and call me in the morning. In a year where UK Bass went in a million different directions, Oneman was able to keep it all it together, weaving the various threads into a unified whole. Quite possibly the best technical DJ in Bass music, Oneman somehow managed to blend Garage, Dubstep, Grime and Funky House so thoroughly here that initial listens will leave you scratching your head trying to figure out where one track ends and the next one starts. Future sounds in their purest form, the music here may not feature the biggest names but each selection cannily anticipated this year’s hottest trends from Bok Bok’s seasick synths to Joker’s neon melodies through Joy Orbison’s mutant euphoria. By the time it all ends with Brackles’ remix of “I Love London”, even the most skeptical of critics will be singing along. – Sach O
Our near-constant supply of good weather in Southern California might have been one of the reasons Caribou’s new tropical-tinged masterpiece Swim resonated with us so much, but his live performances and two free mixes also showed another dynamic side to Dan Snaith’s musical talent. Allez Allez and Tour CD 2010 showed us Snaith’s ability to pair his own musical stylings with rare vintage gems and selections from more modern artists like house guru Theo Parrish. Not unlike Flying Lotus and Four Tet, Snaith is also quite adept at remixing his own tracks to fit with in the confines of his more groove-heavy mixes, while loosely adhering to a more international and eclectic style that sets him apart from his peers. Evident in these mixes are some of the house and disco inspirations behind Swim, but what they really show are Snaith’s ability to mix a wide range of tracks with very little connection on the surface in to these loose, flowing sets that will have the listener ostensibly looking around every corner for something unexpected. – Aaron Frank
To put it bluntly, Fact OWNED the online mix game in 2010, bagging exclusive sets from pretty much anyone who mattered in Bass music and beyond. My personal favorite was definitely LHF’s contribution: 52 minutes of original, unreleased music by the crew that was more compulsively listenable than most albums released this year. Harkening back to the dark, jazzy, psychedelic yet street-oriented sounds of the mid 90s, Double Helix, Amen Ra, Low Density Matter and Solar Man re-imagined Jungle, Hip-Hop, Garage, Techno and Dubstep as cosmiche street music, aiming for the same avant-hard territory as Flying Lotus’ best material without the constraints of the high-art album format. With only a 1 official release to their name, this mix was ground zero for those who discovered LHF this year and by the sound of it, plenty of folks will be playing catch up in 2011. -Sach O
Back in May, it was unclear what the future would hold for Kutmah, a longtime LA-resident who was held in a New Mexico detention center for several weeks and later deported to his place of birth in the UK. After developing a supportive following through his weekly Sketchbook nights and befriending likeminded DJs at Low End Theory, it was obvious just from reading several local DJ’s Twitter feeds that a void had been left in the scene. Not long after settling in the UK though, Kutmah released “Throwing Stones” for the Stones Throw podcast, making it abundantly clear he hadn’t lost any of his West Coast roots. We can only hope his new audiences in the UK are as welcoming to his warped style as LA once was. – Aaron Frank
Q: What’s Autonomic?
A: Half-time Drum & Bass.
Q: Isn’t that basically instrumental Hip-Hop?
A: Not exactly. Think Trip-Hop but not as cheesy and with better drums.
Q: Where should I start?
A: dBridge and Instra:Mental’s fantastic Fabriclive mix, dummy.
Q: What if I’m a cheap bastard?
A: Try their FACT mix.
Upon its release last February, the Autonomic sound was a curious anomaly: “SLOW D&B you say? Pish-Tosh!” Well no one’s laughing now except perhaps dBridge and Instra:Mental whose game changing gambit to cut D&B’s speed in half has proven to be the single most important development to happen to the genre in half a decade. Long abandoned by the tastemakers as a dead zone frequented by testosterone heavy speed-addicts, Drum & Bass’ 2010 revival was a pleasantly unexpected turn of events and Fabriclive.50 was the album that set it all off. A cold, atmospheric journey into London’s foggy streets and beyond, the mix served as a mission statement for a sound people didn’t know they needed to hear but rapidly fell in love with. Soon after, just about every junglist of note was going on about “speed limits”, “getting back to drum programming” and various other new ideas, nearly all of which gave the morbid genre a shot in the arm. Far more than influential however, the mix is compulsively listenable for music lovers of all stripes, perfect for chill nights on the porch or long drives through the city. Welcome back creativity, Drum & Bass missed you. – Sach O
Clearly not content with just releasing one of the best albums of 2010 in “There Is Love In You”, Four Tet also solidified his spot as one of the world’s hardest working and most forward-thinking DJs this year through a relentless touring schedule and several mixes for FACT, BTS Radio and the BBC. Just before the release of his new album, Four Tet released the “Much Love To Plastic People” mix in an attempt to garner attention towards the potential closing of the famed UK nightclub that once stood as his testing ground for new songs. Plastic People stayed open, and no doubt the mix and the celebratory follow-up “Return To Plastic People”, which came months later as a mix for FACT, drew more people to the club out of curiosity. The ever-progressive Four Tet actually set sort of a blueprint for DJs in 2010 with these two mixes, as many that followed attempted to mimic his minimal aesthetic and even used some of the same songs, including Mount Kimbie’s “Blind Night Errand” and Joy Orbison’s “Love Cry” remix, both excellent songs overplayed by DJs that lack Four Tet’s scientifically rhythmic style and sense of timing. – Aaron Frank
Such is the power of Kode 9 as a DJ that THREE of his mixes were considered for this list. First there was his amazing oldschool Jungle blend for Fact magazine which soundtracked my jogging for a solid month. Later, he delivered a profoundly haunting Burial mix for Mary-Anne Hobbs’ final radio show, offering closure to one of the original showcases that launched the Dubstep sound into the mainstream. Ultimately however, we chose to go with his official release for !K7’s DJ Kicks series: a broad look at the post-Dubstep Diaspora as seen through the eyes of electronic music’s sharpest minds. Like Oneman’s Rinse mix, Kode 9 is absolutely fearless in his selection, which ranges from the darker reaches of Funky to murderous Dubstep to South-African Kwaito House and weird British takes on Chicago Juke. Somehow, he makes it all come together though and ultimately proves his point: fuck genre purism, in 2010 all the good stuff is happening on the margins anyways. – Sach O
At the beginning of the year, I would’ve confidently told you I didn’t expect any indie-rock artists to be successfully breaking in to the electronic fold. But with drummer Jamie XX going on a year-long dubstep bender and releasing excellent underground mixes for Boiler Room and Colette, I’ll certainly be apt to keep my eyes peeled for such things in the future. Considering their youth and the fact that his main outfit, the XX, so confidently straddle the line between rock and electronic, I guess it’s less of a surprise than say Jim Eno from Spoon breaking out as a Grime DJ though. Initially coming across my radar last year through his Jack Penate remix and a stripped down rework of his own group’s “Basic Space”, Jamie’s airy, emotional style echoes that of the XX’s debut, but trades the sometimes sappy vocals for a stronger emphasis on rhythm and bass. His first single “Far Nearer” and an upcoming remix project of Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here LP have both helped bring his name to the surface in recent weeks and one wonders how his popularity in the dubstep arena will affect The XX, who are no strangers to personnel changes. – Aaron Frank
Addison Groove’s Fact mix kicks off with an oldschool electro number and ends with high speed Chicago Footwork music. In between, he finds time for evil UK house, his own post-Dubstep production and various other sounds that shouldn’t mix right but somehow do. The secret is in the selection: by digging deep into booty shaking traditions but emphasizing weirdness rather than corny camp, Headhunter’s evil alter-ego made an excellent case for sounds that would otherwise be ignored as simple dance floor fodder and not much else. 2010 was the year Juke broke through and along with Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas, Addison’s Groove was a major reason Chicago’s newest style caught on beyond the city’s limits. – Sach O
Though technically this was released in 2009, we’d be remiss not to include Gaslamp Killer’s collection of classic Flying Lotus singles and unreleased b-sides. Between the release of Cosmogramma and the formation of Infinity, a new live group with Ravi Coltrane and Miguel Atwood Ferguson, the year was one of discernable progression in style for Flying Lotus, who stated in the description of this mix “can’t believe i’ve been making tracks for over 10 years now”. While evident that Lotus has embarked on a new phase of his career, his hip-hop-infused, beat-heavy style of years past will surely never be forgotten. “A Decade of Flying Lotus” serves as the perfect primer for that phase and who better than friend and frequent collaborator Gaslamp Killer to have mix all the best songs from that period together in to a nice package. – Aaron Frank
Jeff unofficially dubbed 2010 “The Year of the Night Slug.” I’m assuming he did this because it sounds funny out loud (try it) but when it came to Bass music, it was also very true: no other label had their fingers closer to the pulse of the London Underground and within the span of a year, Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990′s neon-lit enterprise went from best-kept-secret to scene defining nexus. Consisting solely of Night Slugs releases, L-Vis’ mix for Resident Advisor serves as the perfect primer to the label’s sound: a dark, sexy, sweaty interpretation of American R&B, English House and Grime and that mysterious X-factor that somehow transforms those ingredients into more than the sum of their parts. 2010′s coolest kids in town, Night Slugs anything-goes attitude and daring dance floor experiments defined a year that did-away with rulebooks and embraced cross-pollination and eclecticism. – Sach O
We mentioned our appreciation for Teebs’ Cosmopolyphonic mix late last year, but he came across even more critics’ radars in 2010 with his phenomenal debut Ardour and mixes for XLR8R and BTS Radio. What really stood out to me was his three-part “Teebs and Friends” series, which includes guest sets from fellow up-and-comers Shlohmo and Yuk. Each installment is close to two hours, but when your sound is as organic and therapeutic as Teebs’, the time goes by almost too fast and before you know it, the visions of hazy meadows his music conjures have turned back in to the nightmare that is your office cubicle. Aside from that, one really gets a better sense of his roots and influences from these mixes than anywhere else.- Aaron Frank
Consisting entirely of his own production, Shackleton’s entry in Fabric’s long-running mix series is a career spanning odyssey that would have probably made this site’s top albums list had it not dropped so late in the year. Recreating his legendary first live set at the Fabric London nightclub where the combined force of his evil sub-bass and the club’s legendary sound-system sent ravers into a frenzy, Fabric 55 is proof-positive that anyone who’s into the dark side of music needs to hear Sam Shackleton perform live. Mixing classics with new material and unreleased transitions all performed live on a hardware set up, this mix stands as the definitive Shackleton document, presenting all of his highlights in a listener friendly mix and serving as the perfect introduction to newcomers and a rewarding refresher course for long-time fans. – Sach O
Even though completion is still underway on his debut album, newcomer Young Montana managed to create quite a buzz this year through a flurry of leaked singles and mixes for Mary Anne Hobbs and BTS Radio. Eschewing the current darker dubstep-inspired trend of his peers in the UK for a more upbeat, experimental hip-hop feel, Young Montana’s BTS contribution exhibits a knack for tight mixing and a unique taste that includes everything from the hip-hop classic “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers” to one of my modern electronic favorites “Drive U Crazy” from Toronto DJ/producer Egyptrixx. Also included is a memorable take on one of my favorite tracks of 2010, Shlohmo’s “Tomato Smash”, which gets mashed up perfectly with the vocals from Busta Rhymes’ “Touch It”, as well as several enticing originals near the end. – Aaron Frank
Releasing two of my favorite mixes this year was St. Louis-based producer Phaseone, whose droning, psychedelic blend of electronic and hip-hop led to a steady bit of praise towards the end of 2010. After putting out “Realest Shit I Ever Wrote” in March, which contained easily the best and possibly the only Curren$y remix I’ve ever heard alongside a well-received rework of Nite Jewel’s “Want You Back”, Phaseone managed to top himself just months later with the “December 2010 Mix” and a double-sided single for the Way Slow series. The “December 2010 Mix” marks his evolutionary progress since last year’s popular “White Collar Crime”, another Phaseone mix that relied mostly on original material and remixes. While he recently stated “Fuck beatmatching” in a Tweet that favored Kode9 and Burial’s contribution to Mary Anne Hobbs as “mix of the year”, Phaseone’s mixing skills are on par with any veteran DJ, though his astral-inspired, laid-back production style is what’s really to be marveled at here. – Aaron Frank
Though Gaslamp Killer was already mentioned once for his mixing on “A Decade of Flying Lotus”, the LA producer/DJ certainly put his own stamp on 2010, not only with the stellar Death Gate EP and production on Gonjasufi’s “A Sufi and A Killer”, but also with major performances at European music festivals and tours in Japan and Australia. Word of Gaslamp’s epically rowdy sets must have finally gotten out to the rest of the world. And while in years past he held a place in our hearts for his mixes and performances at Low End Theory, Gaslamp Killer was again confirmed as one of our favorite DJs through this landmark volume in the Low End Theory podcast with fellow Brainfeeder labelmate Lorn, whose dark, absorbed sound on the second half is the perfect compliment to Gaslamp’s unpredictable style. While the number of gigs you can book in a single year is no way to judge the quality of creative expression, in Gaslamp’s case it certainly speaks to his recent creative whirlwind and current international popularity as a DJ. – Aaron Frank
An early leak for his latest LP “Only Mountain” set Take off on a rocky start to 2010. But after supplementing the release with “The Getaway Mix” and a contribution to the Low End Theory Podcast, and showing off his exemplary DJ skills to captive audiences in the US and Japan, the year finally proved to pan out successfully for the LA-based producer. Having seen him several times this year, I can confirm that his mixes are only getting better, and the Low End Theory mix in particular exhibits a similarly chaotic but lush, colorful style that exists in his original productions and live sets. If Low End DJs were people from your high school, Teebs would be the carefree stoner, Gaslamp the angry metalhead and Take, the hyper nerd wreaking havoc in the computer lab. Already at work this winter on a new album, my fingers are crossed his next release elevates him to Bill Gates status. – Aaron Frank
Leaving Records label-head Matthewdavid also contributed a fantastic mix to the XLR8R series this year, making his own hazy strain of ambient electronic music stand out amongst the throng of current LA producers. The word “experimental” doesn’t really do Matthewdavid’s mix justice though, when you consider that aside from the Screw version of “25 Lighters On My Dresser”, the rest of the mix sounds like a lost artifact buried in the woods circa 1987 or the soundtrack for the latest Harmony Korine movie. Not long after this mix piqued my interest, Matthewdavid and fellow experimental arbiter Sun Araw’s collaborative project “LIVEPHREAXX” saw a limited, tape only release, which we can only hope makes it way to the internet soon. – Aaron Frank
Starting the year off with a blazing 15-minute mix for Mary Anne Hobbs, San Francisco-based Shlohmo capitalized on the positive reception with mixes for Low End Theory and Klipmode. With his debut Camping EP also falling victim to an early leak, the LA-born producer/DJ, also a member of the Wedidit Collective, began building anticipation for his Brainfeeder debut by mixing his own spaced-out instrumentals like “Tomato Smash” and “Hotboxing The Cockpit” in with artists like James Blake and dialogue from classic comedies like Half-Baked. Shlohmo’s style currently falls somewhere between Teebs and Flying Lotus, but from his mixes and recently released 09 Beat CD, we can only assume that he’s ready to make his own mark on electronic music in the coming year. – Aaron Frank
12 Honorable Mentions:
Son Raw – All Your Bass series
Aether – Passion of the Weiss Mix
Redlight – FACT 147
Kingdom – FACT 171
Pinch – FACT 164
Altered Natives – FACT 125 (Ed note: notice a trend here?)
D1 – FACT 202
Baths – FACT 183
Terror Danjah – Resident Advisor Mix
Master Blazter – Blazt Off (Mixed By DJ Kutmah)
Dibia$e – Return of the Sludge BTS Mix
House Shoes – We Run Things (HVW8 Podcast Vol. 21)
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series — Volume 3: Sub Swara
When the ever-discerning Sach caught Sub Swara in February, they earned his staunchest praise. In Son Raw’s words: “think banging mid-tempo beats with an array of eastern influences. Melding Indian instrumentation to the block rocking beats of the RUN DMC era, the crew was a refreshing change of pace, coming off like a funhouse New York version of California wonky with boom-bap rigidity taking the place of post-Dilla drum patterns.” Since then, they dropped the impressive Triggers, which cemented the crew’s rep as vanguards of American bass music (East Coast edition).
In honor of their Triggers tour (with a Low End Theory stop tomorrow night), the Brooklyn bombers have delivered the third volume of the Passion of Weiss Mix Series. It’s replete with remixes, exclusives, and enough Dead Prez to send the Tea Party scurrying back to the docks. The mix is below, with a Q&A and tracklist below the jump, illuminating the meaning of their name, how they arrived at their singular sound, and the precise meaning of “brostep.”
MP3: Sub Swara – Passion of the Weiss Mix Series — Volume 3
Where does the name Sub Swara come. Hypothetically if one was going to order a Sub Swara sandwich, what ingredients would it have and would it be better than the Larry David sandwich?
Dhruva – Bit of double entendre in there. Sub refers to sub bass and also to the Sanskrit word “Sub’, which means “all”. Swara is the tonal center of Indian melody. SO put it together and you get “Bass Tone” or “All Tone” – It captures the big bassy sound that traverses many different areas and can (ideally) connect with everyone.
As for the sandwich- It’s gotta have spice and girth – I’d have to go with a lamb burger with mint-cilantro chutney, goat cheese and greens. It’s all juicy going down but beware cuz it might bust yer gut. I feel lame cuz I just had to Urban Dictionary the “Larry David Sandwich” (I’ve never seen Curb Your Enthusiasm). Never tasted sable before but I’m willing to venture that the LD, as good as it tastes, might cause rabies.
From my provincial perspective, the dubstep scene in New York seems to get less attention lavished on it than the ones in LA and London. What is it like over there and can a mustache handle all the wobble.
Dave – NYC is definitely its own beast when it comes to electronic music in general. We have really, really serious roots with punk rock, house, hip hop, and reggae, and I think a lot of that organic, no-bullshit, soulful element always comes out in music from NYC– while so much electronic music exists with a sort of emotional separation, that’s not really in our DNA. For what’s traditionally conceived of as “dubstep,” the UK remains the center, while the whole Brainfeeder world has some really interesting takes on the sound coming from LA. However, between us and our bredren Dub War and Trouble & Bass, dubstep has been part of the underground lexicon in NYC since 2005.
I seem to read a lot of talk about “bro-step.” Have you guys experienced this at any of your shows and if not, is there a cure?
Dave – There was a point in 2007, when every new producer was trying to sound like Coki’s tune “Spongebob,” where I think every DJ I knew was convinced they’d coined the perjorative “brostep.” I remember only thinking the term to myself, and then hearing Alex Incyde and Moldy use it 2 separate conversations that week… entertaining. At this point, when people think of “dubstep,” they more often-than-not conjure up a sonic image of hyper-aggresive, super-quantized 140bpm dance music with wobbles and screeches everywhere. That pallete can definitely work as something to get people excited, but a whole set of it just gets extremely boring. In the States, it’s the standard soundtrack for up-and-coming DJ’s, and in our experience, it really doesn’t play well to a room that’s filling up; it’s got all the sensual, dancing pleasure of being smacked in the face by a pickaxe. It also tends to be a game of heavy for heaviness’ sake, with tunes lacking the tense balance of groove and paranoia that makes the heavy tracks from the likes of Vex’d, Coki, and Starkey work so amazingly well.
Shirtless dudes who yell “WOOOOOOOOOOOO!” alot also seem to love “the bro” too, which you can view as a positive or negative.
We’re the cure! Seriously though, quite often after being on the receiving end of the brostep battering ram, we come in, drop the tempo a bit, and get the whole room moving together. We definitely have a grip of heavy tunes in the arsenal, which we like to dish out at the right times and really make the room pop off.
You guys collaborated with Dead Prez on the new record. What was that experience like and do they hate me?
Dhruva – That’s funny you say that cuz before M-1 even said “hello” on the phone, he was like “Fuck that dude, Weiss”. No, but really, they were great. Very down to earth, willing to do multiple iterations/variations, etc. The funny thing about making music today is that you might not even be in the same place making it and that’s how it went down with DP. I talked with M-1 and Stic Man on the phone about the track sketch I had sent them. They said they were feeling what were doing and looking to work with more wide-ranging sounds so there it started. They sent us a chorus sketch that Stic Man had written and recorded into his laptop mic in a hotel down south somewhere. We dug it so they built out verses and recorded them in studios – M-1 recorded his verses from a studio in Italy while they were on tour and Stic recorded from Atlanta.
Your press kit refers to you as a “global bass duo,” and within the sound you can hear elements of juke, funky, afro-beat, and dubstep. Obviously, none of those sounds are native to New York, but you’ve incorporated them well. You can see this sort of thing at work in a lot of contemporary groups — Gang Gang Dance, Rainbow Arabia, and Yeasayer to name a few. Do you find it challenging to incorporate new sounds that are foreign to your environment, or has the Internet made regionalism less of a concern.
Dave – Provided you do it with style, everything’s native to NYC. Also, as musicians and people, we’re all about deconstructing elements from their environments; the world is simply too flat for context to matter more than content. It’s not so much a challenge to incorporate things– anyone with a sequencer can throw together percussion loops from different parts of the world. It’s more a matter of creating elements that work together to make a song that’s better with them, than without them. Respect the song more than the parts, and it’ll work.
I assume you guys are rap heads judging from the tracklist. Have you guys always been big fans — who are your favorite rappers right now?
Dave – Growing up in the YO! MTV Raps era, hip-hop was a huge part of our formative years, and continues to be. Dave thinks Nicki Minaj is the best thing since sliced bread. Been a fan since I was a kid, starting West with N.W.A, Ice Cube, and then moving over east Wu Tang, Mobb Deep, Busta, etc. Right now I’m really into what Big Boi’s doing.
You guys remixed “Shutterbug.” Did you ever find out if Big Boi heard it. What’s your favorite Outkast record and why?
Dhruva – We’re not sure if Big Boi ever heard it. Hopefully he did. That original is such an anthem and has so much originality in it that were surprised there weren’t a whole lot more remixes of it out there (especially since the acappella is widely available). That’s why we chose to do it. I’ve seen a few more remixes out there recently and it’s interesting what a different take each one has on the original.
Favorite Outkast Record – Stankonia – the scope is just massive. The range and variety of production, vocal delivery, live elements all over it, while having the unmistakable Outkast identity is pretty jaw-dropping. It never gets old.
How do you think Triggers stands apart from the rest of your catalogue. What are you most proud of with the record?
Dave – I love Triggers. To me, it’s a snapshot of the two of us really working our collaborative dialogue, and being 100% uncomprimising on quality. The whole record stands up as a danceable, soulful set of tunes, and I’m extremely proud of the work that we did on “Steam,” and with Bogie & Biondo on “Bird of Paradise.”
Dhruva – I think we explored a lot more terrain on this album without losing a sense of what we love as musicians (an original sonic pallet, not being tethered to any one style). So there might be less obvious “global” influences in this album than our first, but the instrumentation is all over it – it is just used in different ways that don’t as obviously jump out as “global” or whatever else you would call it. Steam has 60 layers of indigenous south indian percussion that I recorded live in the studio in Chennai; There’s djembe, brazillian percussion, bansuri, middle easter frame drums, cumbia influences all wrapped up in what we like o think of as a cohesive progression of our sound. I’m really proud of “In Ether” (very personal for me), “Steam,” “Bird of Paradise” and “Future Fresh.”
What were your favorite records that you heard this year?
Dave – As far as EDM goes, I think the recent records from Lorn, Eskmo, and MuxMool are fantastic. Singles-wise, it’s hard to beat James Blake’s “Limit to your Love.” I also can’t stop listening to the Gaslight Anthem’s “American Slang;” go Jersey!
Dhruva – Big Boi’s album is amazing and I love the Dead Weather’s new album too (I pretty much will listen to any music Jack White makes on repeat for a ridiculous period of time).
2Pac or Biggie?
Dave – Nas.
Dhruva – Biggie
1.Sub Swara feat. Dead Prez: “Speak My Language (Machinedrum Remix)” (Low Motion)
2.Sub Swara feat. Dead Prez: “Speak My Language (Kraddy Remix)” (Low Motion)
3.Sub Swara feat. Dead Prez: “Speak My Language” (Low Motion)
4.Sub Swara feat. Freddy Mills: “Future Fresh” (Low Motion)
5.Subatomic Sound System & Nomadic Wax: “NYC-2-Africa (Dubstrumental)” (Subatomic)
6.Sub Swara: “October” (Low Motion)
7.Sub Swara vs. Cee-Lo Green: “Fire It Up vs. Fuck You!” (white)
8.Sub Swara feat. Zuzuka Poderosa: “Tambores” (Low Motion)
9.Sharmaji: “How to Move” (forthcoming Davey Jones)
10.Sub Swara: “Lava Tango” (Low Motion)
11.Sub Swara “The Ripple” (Low Motion)
12.Sub Swara ” ’55 Flow” (Low Motion)
13.Sub Swara feat. Kendra Foster vs. Jay-Z:”The Nectar/Excuse Me Miss”
Son Raw – It’s a Vandal Ting! Deep Dubstep & Dark Funk(y)
Oh yeah, you didn’t think it was over, did you motherfuckers? You didn’t think you could get through another season without Son Raw dropping some more bassweight on all of y’all? Because if you did, you were sadly mistaken: shit just got real.
Oh yes. Contrary to your expectations, shit was not real before. It is now though.
Yes sir, I’m back in the house with another hour of hardcore beats and bass for the heads that know and this time I’m keeping it extra dark and gully. Nothing but hypnotic riddims and explosive percussion this go around: if you’re looking for colorful melodies and anthemic breakdowns, look elsewhere because Son Raw is taking you on a trip deep into the underground. Things kick off with personal favorites LHF with accompanying words by NY emcee Cormega (Son Raw’s ill on the sampler too ya know) before exploding into a lost Rusko dub, a Loefah classic and plenty more evil sounding shit from the deep to keep your subwoofers rattling. Don’t expect much wobbling either, I kept it one hunnid with nothing but the most original cuts out there, new and old.
The second half of the mix is a little more uptempo with a selection of dark, junglist UKfunky courtesy of Hyperdub records and a few other layers in the know. Forget party-house, we’re talking about beats to make your bones break with crazy syncopation and an underlying dread atmosphere worthy of the grandmasters. Trust me, I’m not about to go deep house on all of y’all no matter what Rinse is pumping these days. Artistic integrity is key in the house that RAW built.
So lace up your boots, light up your blunts and stream (then download!) the mix. It’s guaranteed to cure male pattern baldness, dislocated saliva glands and of course moosebumps. And be on the lookout for something special come X-Mas time too. I haven’t forgotten my reggae heads this year…
MP3: Son Raw – It’s a Vandal Ting! Deep Dubstep & Dark Funk(y)
Son Raw – All Your Bass 3: Montreal Sunset Mix
While Jeff supplicates the Gods of coffee and cannabis in a heroic attempt to track down Stoney Jackson, I’m slinking around Montreal’s Mutek festival as Resident Advisor’s newest Canadian correspondent. For those who don’t know, Mutek is North-America’s premier experimental Electronic Music Festival specializing in arty-techno, audio-visual installations and what I can only assume is Minimal or MNML or whatever it is Germans listen to. Yeah, I don’t know how I ended up here either but in any case, I got a press pass and the balls to ask King Midas Sound the tough questions. Hopefully I can maintain my composure if I run into Ikonika as well. In any case, expect detailed reports both at RA and of course, around these parts.
As for now dear readers, your cups runneth over with mixes. But in the words of Glen Quagmire: room for one more? All Your Bass 3: Montreal Sunset Mix is my latest and some would say greatest. I’m once again sheepish in the face of self-promotion but I will say that I’m exceptionally proud of the fact that this one is 100% all the way live on a traditional 2 deck set up. An MP3 aided one yes, but UK vinyl is expensive. So what kind of tunes am I packin’ here? The latest and greatest from Martyn, James Blake, Guido, Ramadanman, Rusko, Nero and a whole bunch of other names you’ve heard kicked around these parts along with some newcomers who’re sure to impress. The set is intended to replicate the kind of material and styles I bust out at live shows, so expect plenty of progression from meditative material all the way into party-starting tear out tunes and stoned ragga for the comedown. This is the part where I’d joke about playing Lady Gaga songs at Bat Mitzvahs, but everyone knows I never compromise: your daughters better like hardcore grime.
1. Funk Ethics – Broken Soul Music
2. TKR – Progress
3. DJG – Duality
4. Guido – Shades of Blue
5. Martyn – Suburbia
6. Ramadanman – Don’t Change for Me
7. James Blake – CMYK
8. Planas – Look Into my Eyes
9. Synkro – Wasting Time
10. MJ Cole – Thekla Riddim
11. West Norwood Cassette Library – What it Is
12. Blawan – Iddy
13. Shortstuff & Mickey Pearce – Tripped Up (Ramadanman Re-Edit)
14. Dark Sky – Something to Lose
15. Redlight – Stupid
16. Swindle – Airmiles
17. Mensah – Acid Dub
18. SRC – Brakedance
19. Kavsrave – PClart
20. Nero – Innocence
21. P Money – Left the Room
22. Rusko – Woo Boost
22. Numa Crew – World of Reggae
23. Rod Azlan – Lion’s Roar
24. 6Blocc – Uptown Rankin
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series – Volume 2: Aether
Cover By Dan Love
Artifacts, the debut solo record from San Antonio producer Aether, was last year’s most underrated beat record. Come list time (it finished at a too-low #46), I claimed that few artists were as accurately defined by their name. In Greek myth, Aether is the personification of space and heaven, and Diego Chavez’s music successfully embodies that notion with its celestial strings and samples and bedrock of breakbeats that come loose from their moorings and drift off into the void. Collecting the splintered shards of the Mo Wax’ aesthetic, Aether ensures that DJ Krush, UNKLE, and Shadow’s lamps stay lit.
Trip-hop only died because music journalists got tired of trumpeting a stupid name and Talib Kweli started rapping over Morcheeba instrumentals. But really, the idea of grimy hip-hop drums set to drugged down-tempo melodies only went dormant until it could mutate and recombine. Aether and the rest of the criminally unsung Exponential Records camp (Ernest Gonzalez, Diego Bernal, Mexicans With Guns) represent some of the best of the revanchists. Along with stylistic kinsmen, Take and Nosaj Thing, they synthesize trip-hop, boom-bap, and IDM into something warmly familiar but very fresh. His mix for PotW collects older rarities, previously unheard new material, and a remix of an artist named Zoon Van Snook. In my opinion, the mix is as good as being named Zoon Van Snook. Maybe even better.
Tracklist below the jump.
1. A.M. Architect – Road to the Sun II
2. Aether- Love Theme
3. Lazy Bones – Lovers
4. A.M. Architect – Distant (Demo)
5. S.E.L.F. – Trapped
6. Aether -Dejame Dormir
7. Rae Davis vs Aether – Drama Free (Feat Tina Hanae Miller)
8. Ernest Gonzales – Dancing in the Snow (Aether Remix)
9. Aether – Leaving Me
10. Aether – Tomorrows Thief
11. Zoon Van Snook – The Gloaming (Aether Remix)
Son Raw – Premo Cuts (08′ Throwback Mix)
While Jeff, Zilla and the LA crew recover from what was surely an epic night of madness, debauchery and incredibly dope music in LA, I console myself with the thought of back to back DJ sets from DJ Premier and Pete Rock in Montreal tonight. The promoters are billing it as “The Hip-Hop event of the year” and for once, it’s hard to disagree with the hyperbole: it ain’t going to get any better around here rap wise. To celebrate, I figured I’d dig out this old mixtape from yours truly highlighting the legendary Premier. Put together in late 2008, the goal was get together a bunch of dope Premo joints from albums that didn’t get much burn ’round here anymore rather than focus on the biggest or rarest cuts. The result includes classics from AZ, CNN, Nas, J-Live, Mos Def and many more all mixed and subdivided into individual tracks for your listening and skipping pleasure. Tracklist after the jump, enjoy.
MP3: Son Raw – Premo Cuts (08′ Throwback Mix)
- AZ – The Format
- CNN – Invincible
- Nas – Come Get Me
- Common – The 6th Sense
- J-Live – The Best Part
- Mos Def – Mathematics
- Non Phixion – Rock Stars
- MOP ft Guru – Half N Half
- Kool G Rap – First Nigga
- Fat Joe – Shit is Real (Remix)
- The Lox – Recognize
- Ludacris – MVP
- Royce da 5’9 – Boom
- Big L – Platinum Plus
- Rakim – Guess Who’s Back
- Jay-Z – So Ghetto
- KRS-ONE – Rappaz R N Danja
- The Notorious B.I.G ft Method Man & Redman – Rap Phenomenon
Passion of the Weiss Mix Series – Volume 1: Robot Koch
Last year’s “Death Star Droid” established Robot Koch’s reputation as one of the most gifted producers in the bass music world. Incorporating warped Dubstep, stoned Low End Theory drum machines, and a readiness to assimilate hip-hop sample culture in a subgenre occasionally overly cold and digital, Koch’s funkiness belies his mechanical moniker. With his love of King Tubby, Fela, and Wu-Tang, he was a logical choice to kick off the Passion of the Weiss Mix series. His “Listen to Them Fade EP” comes out next month on his own Robots Don’t Sleep imprint.
Questions, answers, automatons, and a mix below the jump.
If you could pick your three favorite robots (not including yourself), who would they be?
R2d2, Mech godzilla, That little red robot that sits on top of my studio monitors.
You included a Doors cover on your last album. Why do you think there’s such a disconnect between critics (who typically malign the Doors) and the love they elicit among regular people? (I happen to love The Doors)
I think The Doors are amazing. I think amazing artists tend to polarize. Some love, others hate. My doors cover is the most hated and the most loved song on my album, people get really emotional about it.
During your recent trip to Mexico, what was your most extreme experience of culture shock?
Playing shows out there can be dope as hell but it can also be a drag. You get told one thing and then another happens, one time I didn’t even get paid. And its a lot of politics and personal drama involved. I was talked into doing the whole thing myself and without my booking agency, because I was told that would scare off the promoters but that turned out to be a mistake. But its all love in the end. I played some dope shows out there and the people were crazy about the music. So in the end that counts….
How does the dubstep/bass music world in Berlin differ with your experiences in the States (specifically, Los Angeles — what did you think about playing Low End Theory).
I really dug low end and I wish there was such a thing in Berlin. There is a lot of bass music out here as well and many parties dedicated to that sound, but there is no such thing where all the artists hang out on a weekly basis, the Berlin scene is more scattered. I mean when I played Low End everybody was there, Fly Lo, Gaslamp, Nosaj, Nobody …you name it….and they just come and hang out every week and listen to music and play…thats dope, I felt the vibe in there, and Daddy Kev is a really nice guy.
What are your five favorite afro-beat records?
Just one, cuz its so stand out to me: Fela kuti – “Gentleman.”
6. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year? (can be old or new).
Some german philosophy book by Wilhelm Schmidt. Called Glück.
7. What about best movie?
Recent, I know its mainstream but I really enjoyed Avatar.
In general, Star Wars of course. but also Leaving Las Vegas, Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind hit the spot.
What would you have been if you weren’t a musician?
Good question. Maybe a shrink. Or in need of one…
Have you ever tried to build a robot and if not, what would you want your robot to do?
I`m not tech geek enough to do that. I love technology when it just functions and I can use it, but I wont open up a machine and mess with it. My dream robot would look like me and know everything i know so i can send him to do stuff sometimes and just stay home and chill.
How annoying is it when people ask you questions about robots?
I don’t mind it. i love robots:)
MP3:Passion of the Weiss Mix Series – Volume 1: Robot Koch
1.king tubby – drop dub
2. bassnectar – teleport massive (robot koch remix)
3. comfort fit – fired up (robot koch remix)
4. bassnectar – bombox (dj vadim remix)
5. the xx – basics (mount kimbie remix)
6 robot koch – while feat manya (blue daisy remix)
7. kubo – kaggua ft thisla (robot koch remix)
8. robot koch feat grace – blind
Son Raw – All Your Bass are Belong to Us Vol 1
OK, first thing’s first: who the fuck is Son Raw?
That would be me, the artist/hack formerly known as DJ Sach. The story goes like this, many moons ago when I was a young pup getting behind my first pair of 1200s, I needed a DJ name. In the folly of youth, I thought about the matter for all of 3 seconds, chose an abridged version of my government and went on with my life. The name has served me well so far, probably because most of my bookings have been for local house parties and dive bars in South-East Asian countries that don’t use the roman alphabet anyways, but nowadays, it feels a bit limited and stifling. Besides, it’s a new decade, who still puts “DJ” in front of their name? Hence Son Raw: a combined tribute to Sun Ra (duh) and Son House that looks good on a flyer to boot.
Second: what the fuck is “All Your Bass are Belong to Us” aside from an old internet meme?
All Your Bass are Belong to Us is the first in an on-going series of Ableton mixes highlighting 140BPM bass music that’s fun, aggressive and equally indebted to UK dance and North-American Hip-Hop traditions. All tunes used in the mix are either available for purchase at Boomkat or Juno Records or were given out by individual artists over at the Dubstep forum. Questions and comments are appreciated as usual, either in the comment section below or via e-mail. Download at will and lemme know what you think.
1. Engine Earz – Kaliyuga/Matty G – The Scratch, The Bass
2. David Nada – Drummer’s Rock/Havocndeed – Im Nin’Alu (Ofra Haza)
3. David Nada – Drummer’s Rock/Debruit – Nigeria What!?
4. Debruit – Nigeria What?!/Ikonika – Smuck
5. Ikonika – Smuck/Taz Buckfaster – Half Man Half Trout
6. Taz Buckfaster – Half Man Half Trout/Royal T – Beat Fighter
7. Royal T – Beat Fighter/Actraiser – Sky Palace
8. Skream – No Future (intro)
9. Joker – City Hopper
10. Rox – No Going Back (Guido Remix)/Hyetal & Shortstuff – Ice Cream
11. Hyetal & Shortstuff – Ice Cream/LD – The King of Kong
12. LD – The King of Kong/Skream – Burning Up
13. Skream – Burning Up/James Blake – AIr & The Lack Thereof
14. James Blake – AIr & The Lack Thereof/Unknown CM3 Skank
15. Living~Stone – Flying Stones/LD – Derailment
16. LD – Derailment/ M.I.A – Boys (Dub & Run Remix)
17. RSD – Forward Youth/Invasion Vs Shackleton – Wizards of Dub Pt 1
18.Invasion Vs Shackleton – Wizards of Dub Pt 1/501 – The Beginning of the End
19. 501 – The Beginning of the End/Doctor P – Sweet Shop
20. Outkast – B.O.B (Stenchman Remix)
21. Flux Pavilion – Voscilate (intro)
22. Bobby Caldwell – What You won’t do for Love (DZ remix)
23. Four Tet – Pablo’s Heart (echoplex outro)
Farewell Def Jux
At first, the demise of indie rap powerhouse Definitive Jux left me… indifferent. That’s probably not the nicest way to start off a tribute post but it’s the truth. After a stunning early run of back to back classics, the label’s mid-decade expansion, loss of direction and irrelevance felt like the same old story: Motown, Factory, Rocafella, Wu-Tang… this was not the first label/crew to fall off. That last example is particularly poignant: the clear heirs to Rza’s dusty NY underground sound, Def Jux’s original run may not have matched the Wu’s but it damn sure tried. That it all came in a 2-½ year torrent of material made it even more impressive. Maybe if their core releases were staggered over a longer period of time they’d have seemed relevant for longer.
Unfortunately, there were signs of trouble as early as 2003: Murs’ End of the Beginning couldn’t have been more appropriately titled, ditching the label’s signature sound for a hodge-podge of undie-rap influences. Subsequent releases felt increasingly derivative and the original crew slowly unraveled. First Can Ox broke up then El-P and Aesop took their sweet time with their second and third albums. RJD2 turned soft and left. Cage turned soft the minute he signed. Mr. Lif fell off and Camu Tao’s tragic passing took the wind out of the label’s sails just as it seemed to be gearing for a comeback. Couple that with the sales crunch that all labels are facing these days and I’m surprised they even lasted this long.
If there’s an upside to all of this, it’s that maybe the label’s “hiatus” (come on, son) will call attention to all of the incredible music they put out. It took J-Dilla’s death and the outpouring of support that followed to inspire listeners and artists to dig deep into his catalogue and to push his influence to the forefront of their music. I can only hope that a few bedroom producers and emcees take this as an opportunity to revisit The Cold Vein, Labor Days, Fantastic Damage, I Phantom, Dead Ringer, Bazooka Tooth and Smashy Trashy. At a time where left-field Hip-Hop producers are ditching rappers for instrumental music left and right, Def Jux is the perfect example of how to make rap music without giving a fuck about radio (or uninformed indie-rock fans who have no business influencing the sound).
Regardless, I hope you all enjoy this tribute mix. It’s heavy on the OG lineup and light on later material, but this is how I’d like to remember the label. It’s also fast paced: if you want to hear the full-length version of these tracks, hit up your local record store, the label always put extreme care into their packaging and the music deserves to be heard the way the artists chose to present it.
Pouring out a little liquor --Sach O
Like everything else in life, it’s all about timing. My college years neatly paralleled Def Jux’s 2000-2003 zenith — the stuff that Sach compiled on this mix — the canon that once made even inveterate doubters believe that the future of the underground canted at those oblique angles. I don’t feel the same way about Labor Days that I did when I was 21 because I can’t. It hit with the power of a life-changing totem, like Catcher in the Rye when I was 15 or On the Road a few years later. The sort of undergraduate Importance that cynics smirk about years later over cheap wine and dead dreams, but leaves you irrevocably altered and aimlessly ambling down some wayward path. The Cold Vein and Fantastic Damage offered up a fresh alternative to the stale champagne pop that was so far removed from the G-Funk and New York boom-bap that had made me love rap in the first place. Those first round of solo records were angry, defiant, and independent as fuck. They were the soundtrack for a thousand scorching and stoned California days.
The formal obit/tribute is at Pop & Hiss, so I’ll spare the redundancy. Besides, I suspect you know the narrative. How the rap game shifted from a climate where DIY indies could produce hits approaching six figure sales to the current fast food free-fall. How Def Jux’s flagship artists worked at a painstaking pace and the label never developed a real farm system to replace the free agent defections or support the plodding frontline. Let’s be real, the burden of blame lies squarely on W. 24th St. Of course, it’s impossible to fault an artist for wanting to focus on art over empire, and I believe El-P when he says he just wants to make music. I also believe him when he said that “in 2000 starting a traditional record label made a lot of sense. But now, in 2010, less so.”
I’m not sure if rap is going through a crisis right now. There is a lot of good music being made, but no one seems to be getting paid. It’s become a favor-based economy where there is no pot of gold in the end and rather, just money selling pot (many of my interviews end with offers. I’m saving names for the book deal). Are artists supposed to dream about signing to a major label, so they can take 360 degrees of their income and sit them on the sidelines until they do a collabo with Justin Bieber? And I’m not sure what the alternative is other than to play themselves out with free mixtape after free mixtape.
From Sugar Hill to the dorm room-era Def Jam, to Rap-A-L0t and Cash Money, hip-hop was forged by independent entrepreneurs. Even now, with Rhymesayers pretty much the only large-scale rap indie* left, the importance of A&R’ing and quality control has never been more important, as evidenced by The Stimulus Package, the best rap record released this year, one released with collectible packaging and obvious care and consideration. The sort of thing that indie rock labels do all the time: offering something collector-friendly, untampered by contrived commercialism, and appealing to a dedicated niche audience.
The fans can do better too. In the span between when Sach named and compiled this mix and this post going live, another collection of songs came out with the same name: “Farewell Def Jux.” It contained 64 songs from the Jux catalogue, un-cut and un-mixed, accompanied by a few kind words and little else. It was all over the internet — at least, among the few people somehow not hypnotized by the early contender for rap cover of the decade. Forgive the sanctimony, but it was the sort of self-centered gesture that illustrated the callousness of the current culture. Yeah, the songs could’ve been obtained by a torrent site or Limewire, but when Touch & Go went out of business, Stereogum didn’t link to a ZIP file full of Jesus Lizard and Butthole Surfers. If the common narrative being propagated in the media is that the “indie rock David’s” are beating the “major label Goliath’s,” the same logic would dictate that the reason for rap’s decreased stature stems from its inability to sustain a viable independent climate (if you disagree, name three major label rap records that have been released this year; fuck it, name one.)
The point isn’t to alienate, but just to point out that something needs to change. So that at the end of the next decade, a new generation of kids can derive real meaning from a handful of releases from a collection of artist’s with a clear aesthetic. Maybe that’s antiquated thinking. After all, rappers have released great mixtape-street albums outside the auspices of labels, independent or otherwise. And even if the system completely collapses on itself, the Internet allows for an established infrastructure that ensures that music will find a way to get heard. But right now, Def Jux leaves an indelible legacy behind, and a large void that won’t be filled anytime soon. Bombs voyage. — Jeff Weiss
* Stones Throw and Anticon definitely release hip-hop, but I wouldn’t exactly call them “rap labels.” Koch is spaghetti thrown against a wall.
1 Company Flow ft Ill Bill – Simian Drugs
2. Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy
3. Aesop Rock ft C-Rayz Walz – Bent Life
4. Mr Lif ft Aesop Rock – Success
5. El-P – Squeegee man shooting (Remix)
6. Cannibal Ox – The F Word (RJD2 Remix)
7. Camu Tao – Hold the Floor
8. Aesop Rock – NY Electric
9. Cannibal Ox ft El-P – Ridiculoid
10. El-P ft Camu Tao – Accidents don’t happen
11. Aesop Rock – Catacomb Kids
12. Cage ft El-P – Oxycontins Pt 2
13. RJD2 – Rain
14. RJD2 – The Horror
15. Mr Lif ft El-P – I Phantom
16. Aesop Rock – Daylight
17. Aesop Rock – Nightlight
18. El-P – Deep Space 9MM
19. Mr Lif – Return of the B-Boy Pt 2
20. El-P – Poisenville Kids No Win
21. RJD2 – Here’s what’s left
Sach O stays at home: Heavy Holiday Reggae Mix
As if Sach O needed an excuse to use that album cover.
I’m feverish and in need of chicken soup so I’ll keep the commentary down to a minimum: I hosted a fairly chaotic holiday party a week ago which involved a substantial sound system from Moog Audio, considerable quantities of illicit substances and over five threats to have the cops called on us (all ignored by a particularly gracious and festive Super). For the most part, hardcore Dubstep was on the menu but I think the more textured Bass-weight Reggae I played later in the evening might be more conductive to all the pre-partying that will lead up to the end of this foul decade. Stay tuned, we’re not done with 2009 yet.
- Tryptomatik – Polizia Dreadlock
- 6Blocc – Believe it (G31 Remix)
- Alborosie – Ring Di Alarm (G31 Remix)
- Liquid Wicked – Dubwar (Von D V.I.P)
- Radikal Guru -Strong Dub
- Herbalist AKA Numa Crew – Java (Refix)
- Herbalist AKA Numa Crew – Herbalist (Remix)
- Radikal Guru – Kingston Town
- Coki of Digital Mystikz – Burning
- Zomby – Spliff Dub (Rustie Remix)
- Gemmy – Shanti Riddim
- Guido – Beautiful Complication
- Joker & Ginz – Stash
- Gemmy – Watta down Sound (outro)
DJ Sach: Halftime 09 Rap Mix
Rap wise, it’s hard to find fault with 2009 so far. You can spend your time complaining about what the next guy’s listening to or shouting the praises of whatever specific movement you advocate from the rooftops like a disenfranchised Iranian, but truth is we’ve all been spoiled for choice this year. A collapsing music industry means artists are getting back to honest-to-God collaborations again and whatever specific batch of emcees you think should end up on XXL’s cover, they’re dropping good music for their audience and (hopefully) proving music can survive the internet economy. This blend puts together some of my favorites from the first 6 months a year from Wale and MF Doom to Lil Boosie and Kurupt. If the next 6 are half as good, we may finally get Nas to shut the fuck up. (Tracklisting after the jump)
- Q-Tip ft Busta Rhymes, Raekwon the Chef, Lil Wayne – Renaissance Rap (Remix)
- Wale – Pot of Gold
- Slaughterhouse ft M.O.P – Woodstock
- Raekwon ft Ghostface Killah, Method Man – Wu Ooh
- DOOM – Gazillion Ear
- Mos Def – Super Magic
- J Dilla ft Danny Boy – Dillabot vs. The Hybrid
- Random Axe – Monster Babies
- The Clipse ft Kanye West – Kinda like a Big Deal
- Rick Ross ft Kanye West, Lil Wayne, T-Pain, – Maybach Music 2
- UGK – She Luv It
- Lil Boosie – Loaded
- Cam’ron – Cookies and Apple Juice
- DJ Quik & Kurupt – 9X outta 10
- Method Man & Redman – Dis is 4 all my Smokerz
- 5’0 Clock Shadowboxers – High Noon
- Flu (Flying Lotus X Blu) – GNG BNG RMX
- Mos Def – Casa Bey
- Reflection Eternal – Back Again
- Busta Rhymes – Don’t Touch me (Throw da Water on Em’)