Sunday, January 28, 2007

Life Is A Quest---Love Is A Quarrel...

"The Show" ---The Roots
In 1997, Priority Records released a compilation called In Tha Beginning...There Was Rap. The LP featured a collection of old school hip-hop tracks covered by a variety of rappers who reigned supreme in the mid-nineties. It could have been an ingenious idea (at least from a marketing perspective), but for the most part, the results were pretty damn disappointing. Sean Puffy P. Diddy Combs could have kept his version of "Big Ole Butt", and Coolio's take on "Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)" was equally unnecessary. That said, I always thought that The Roots actually did a pretty tremendous job covering "The Show", a classic hip-hop joint that was originally recorded by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh. Hear how The Roots flipped the joint, but be sure to pay respect to the architects by checkin' this video of Rick and Fresh performing a live medley of their tracks.

"Best Part"---Self Scientific
I'm sure that a lot of the hip-hop fanatics in the house are already somewhat familiar with this L.A. duo. Chace Infinite and DJ Khalil may not have gotten much respect when it comes to commercial success, but the consistent quality of their musical efforts has helped them become an essential component of hip-hop's underground for the past several years. "Best Part" is one of my favorite joints from their 2001 LP, The Self Science. Although Chace's rhymes tend to be more thoughtful than the garbage a lot of MCs are spitting these days, it's the production that succeeds in making this track so dope. Khalil killed it, resuscitated it, and laid it to rest all over again with this beat.

"Drunk Man"---Eddie Harris
This tune is perfect for the early morning hours when I'm up smoking one last cigarette before I drag my tired and intoxicated ass to bed. If you give this a listen, maybe you can relate. Eddie played several instruments, but was mainly known as a jazz tenor saxophonist. He released some popular records during his lifetime (1934-1996), but his experimentation with various styles and uncanny sense of humor sometimes caused critics to be skeptical of his work. Don't let that scare you away---this track should give you an idea of what an innovative and electrifying musician he truly was. More info about Harris' legacy can be found here and here.

"Street Of Tears"---Black Heat
Black Heat was a '70s funk group who briefly recorded for Atlantic Records. They only had one song that cracked the R&B Top 50 ("No Time To Burn"), so their music has become somewhat of an obscurity over the years. Sampling artists have sought out their infectious rhythms and grooves fairly often, however, especially their track "Zimba Ku", which has been utilized on joints by Eric B & Rakim, NWA, Kool G Rap, Souls Of Mischief, Pete Rock, People Under The Stairs, and more. "Street Of Tears" is more of a soulful ballad than a funk jam---you may recognize that 9th Wonder flipped it on "3:16" by Murs. Interested peoples may want to start with a "best of" compilation of the group's recordings called Declassified Grooves.

Word From Your Moms:

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."---Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Amaze And Astound/ Rhythm Up And Down

The wisest people in the world listen twice as much as they speak:

"Brothers On The Slide"---Cymande
Although Cymande's music is frequently classified as funk, their sound was also heavily influenced by jazz, soul, Afro-Carribean rhythms, and many other musical styles. "Brothers On The Slide" appeared on their Promised Heights LP, which was originally released in 1974. It was one of three solid albums that the group released in the early '70s, but widespread interest in the group wouldn't peak until 20 years later, thanks in large part to crate-digging DJs and producers. Their songs have been sampled in joints by Masta Ace, The Coup, EPMD, The Fugees, Smiff-N-Wessun, De La Soul, Busy Bee, Cash Crew, and more. This particular track was sampled by Poison Clan in 1995 for a track called "Peep Da Flavor" that appeared on their Strait Zooism LP. More recently, MF Doom borrowed it for "Cedar", one of the joints on Special Herbs Vol. 7 & 8.

"Flow On (Pete Rock remix)" ---Lords Of The Underground
Lords of The Underground often get overlooked these days, but they were somewhat of a staple of the early '90s hip-hop scene. They released a few successful singles, such as "Chief Rocka", and BET named them Best Rap Group of the Year in 1993. The group got their first viable opportunity after being introduced to Marley Marl, who invited them to record in his studio and helped to craft their unique sound. Pete Rock put his spin on a couple of their tracks in 1994, this being one of them. I don't care what anyone says, Pete's nicer with the remixes than just about anyone...

"Creation"---El Michels Affair
No matter what kind of music you like, I recommend giving El Michels a listen. Soul, funk and jazz fans have finally begun to acknowledge their excellence, and most hip-hop enthusiasts ate up their instrumental covers of several classic Wu-Tang joints, as well as their live collaborations with the group. "Creation" appears on their Sounding Out The City LP, a record you should go forth and purchase without the slightest hesitation.

"When You Come To The End Of Your Road"---Bobby "Blue" Bland
It's misfortunate that Bobby Bland's work isn't more widely celebrated and recognized, especially since he's placed 51 songs on the R&B Top 40 charts throughout the course of his lengthy musical career. In part, this cultural oversight may be due to the fact that only a few of his tracks enjoyed any crossover success on the almighty pop charts. His discography offers a lot of amazing selections to choose from, but I decided on this particular song because it's fantastic and I thought it might lead some of my sample seekers to dig a little deeper into Bland's collection. In case you suffer from drug-induced short-term memory loss, RJD2 flipped this track on his "Final Frontier (remix)". Here's a short bio and discog if your interest has been piqued.

Word From Your Moms:

"In examinations, the foolish ask questions the wise cannot answer."---Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Voice Of Reason Somewhere In Between

Aspiring to great things requires beginning with little ones:

As many of you will have heard by now, Alice Coltrane left the earth this past Friday. She was not only the widow of one of the greatest jazz artists of all time, but was also an incredibly talented and innovative musician in her own right. Quite a few sites and blogs have posted tributes in the last several days---some of the best can be found at los amigos de durutti, audiversity, ear fuzz, BEATS and RANTS and/or floodwatchmusic.

Visit Mainstream Isn't So Bad...Is It? to download three live Nina Simone tracks---"Sunday in Savannah", "Mississippi Goddam", and "Why (The King Of Love Is Dead)".

Cop the latest Common joint circulating around the blogosphere ("Play Your Cards Right" ft. Bilal) at Between Thought And Expression.

I may have said this before, but Dee Dee is my hands-down favorite Warwick. Dionne is the only other one I can think of, and she fucked up her relationship with me when she became a "psychic friend" some years ago. Dee Dee, on the other hand, is cooler than a fan. Thanks to la case de l'affreux thom, you can download a few of her songs right now---"I (Who Have Nothing)", "That's Not Love", and "It's Not Fair".

If you're feeling adventurous, you should definitely give a listen to Bird Peterson's remix of "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" (Birdman and Lil' Wayne). Cop it via the very minimum it will make for a great conversation piece.

The number of disco tracks I can stand for longer than 20 seconds is relatively small...believe me. However, I recently listened to "Give Me Your Love" by The Sisters Love and discovered that it's a pretty spectacular recording. The Sisters have also been labeled as jazz, funk, and soul, so it may not take a gigantic leap for you to appreciate this song as much as I do. The mp3 is currently available at another night on earth.

If you haven't already copped Raekwon's Prelude To Only Built For Cuban Linx 2, there's a link to d/l it via Berkeley Place. Speaking of The Chef, you can currently download "Trees" (w/Mathematics) @ Nah Right and "Verbal Intercourse" at Moistworks. The latter post also includes some classic Nas joints, lookin' all the way back to "Live At The Barbecue".

33/45 is currently featuring several tracks by The Blackbyrds and Barry White & The Love Unlimited Orchestra.

Maybe you've heard of Jaguar Skills by now---he's the DJ who mixed over 800 hip-hop joints into a set that only lasted about 40 minutes. You can view the complete track list at MistaJam. From there you can head over to Jag's MySpace page, which includes a link you can follow to cop the entire mix.

Some good tunes have been featured over at The "B" Side lately---check out "Open Letter To The President" by Roy "C" and "Super Rappin' Theme" by Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five.

Fans of Smif-N-Wessun/ The Cocoa Brovaz may want to visit from the polo fleece to the jesus piece to cop "Like A Champion" and "Super Brooklyn"..

FPSA is featuring three tracks from Mos Def's Tru3 Magic LP, as well as a few songs from the latest John Legend record, Once Again.

Download two tracks by Junior Walker & The All Stars courtesy of Feel It.

Cop "Smile" by Trae (w/ Styles P) over at The Rap Up. Rizoh also recently posted "Not A Criminal" by Chamillionaire (w/ Kelis).

Format Magazine posted an article about hip-hop album covers that have been inspired by comics---link spotted via the almighty Spine Magazine.

Lastly, peace to Cuts & Rhymes and The Classic Soul Network for givin' respect to Souled On. They are both quality spots, so hit 'em up whenever you can...

I also recently updated the links in the sidebar---show my people some love by paying them a visit.

Word From Your Moms:

"Ten persons who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent"---Napoleon Bonaparte

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Language Of The Unheard

A few essential ingredients for a soulful Sunday afternoon:

"You Ought To Be With Me"---Al Green
This has always been one of my favorite tracks from Call Me (1973), which many soul fans seem to consider the quintessential Al Green album. The LP garnered a fair share of critical acclaim at the time of its release, and also achieved commercial success on the strength of a few hit singles. This is another track that has frequently been mined by sampling artists---perhaps most memorably on the RZA-produced joint "260" that appeared on Ghostface's Ironman LP. One of Ghost's comrades in the Wu, Masta Killa, also released a track that borrowed from the song:

"Pass The Bone (Remix)"---Masta Killa
I might have thought it was reprehensible for Masta Killa to release a track with the same sample as a well-loved joint by one of his Wu bretheren, but it ended up being one of the nicest tracks on his Made In Brooklyn LP. The way that producer Jig Sor flipped the sample was just lovely, and distinctive enough to put an entirely different spin on Green's classic recording.

"Requiem: 820 Latham"---The 5th Dimension
I've played this song for about ten of my "real life" friends so far, and I've concluded (based on observations of my relatively inadequate, and highly bizarre, sampling pool) that this is one of those tracks you either L.O.V.E. or H.A.T.E. I have personally developed a sincere appreciation for this song, despite the fact that I realize something about it might be a bit too melodramatic and overblown for some of my more thuggish peoples.

I first heard The Magic Garden (1967) LP quite a few years ago, and it didn't make much of an impression at the time. I'm a firm believer in the concept of "readiness" when it comes to music appreciation, and at that point, I couldn't fathom assimilating The 5th Dimension into the soundtrack of my life. Unfortunately, I didn't give this song a genuine listen until I heard the way MF Doom flipped it on "Krazy World" (from the King Geedorah Take Me To Your Leader LP). It seemed to me that Gigan mainly spit lyrical nonsense on the track, but I still had an inexplicable love for that melancholy, repetitive little beat . Obviously, I was pleased that Doom also released the instrumental version of the joint (on Special Herbs Vol. 3 &4) as "Benzoin Gum". Thought I would up that track, too, just in case some of you still have haven't copped it...

"Benzoin Gum"---MF Doom

"Wild"---J Dilla
As any serious Jay Dee aficionado can tell you, the Ruff Draft EP is one of his more difficult efforts to acquire. Originally, it was released on Dilla's own label, Mummy Records, and distributed by the German label Groove Attack. The record dropped in 2003, but was available exclusively on vinyl, and went out-of-print rather quickly. The EP marked somewhat of a shift in Dilla's musical perspective, and represented an obvious departure from the sound he had established earlier in his career as a producer for Slum Village, Common, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, etc.

At any rate, Stone's Throw has announced plans to re-release the effort in March 2007, complete w/ alternate and instrumental versions. After listening to my advance copy, I'm guessing that the reviews are going to be a very mixed bag. I definitely don't think it will be as easy of a sell with hip-hop heads as Donuts or The Shining...we'll see how fucking psychic I am very shortly.

It's highly possible that if Dilla released an album with nothing but squealing pig noises accompanied by samples of a deaf man playing the kazoo, I'd still find a way to justify buying it. As a result, I don't feel qualified to write anything resembling a review. I'm just hoping that 110% of you will do the right thing and actually buy this record when it comes out. Fortunately for you, I decided it would be rude if I didn't post at least one track in the meantime...Appreciate.

Word From Your Moms:

"I submit to you that if a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."---Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

All That Was And Will Be

I could keep offering poor excuses for why this link post is so delayed, but no one really cares that my boss pees herself because she's too lazy to move out from behind her desk, or that my 30-year-old brother won't stop playing with his My Little Pony Collection. I'm assuming that you want your links despite these ongoing conflicts in my daily existence...and I've finally gotten around to obliging you.

As always, let's do this chaotic, disorganized, anarchic, incoherent thing:

This week saw an exceptional Sample Wednesday at Palms Out Sounds, featuring original songs that have been utilized on Outkast joints. Download mp3s by Brothers Johnson, Eddie Harris, Isaac Hayes, Joe Simon, The Five Stairsteps, Allen Toussaint, Miles Davis, and more.

Travis at Wake Your Daughter Up posted a very impressive list of his 100 favorite songs of '06. You can cop every single joint he selected, including tracks by Bootcamp Click, The Roots, Little Brother, Lone Catalysts, Camp Lo, Soul Position, Nas, Jay-Z, J Dilla, Fatlip, Ghostface, Pete Rock, and many more. If you like hip-hop at all, you should definitely check him out: Part One Part Two.

Visit this post at Moistworks to acquire tracks by Joe Bataan, Al Green, Brand Nubian, Irma Thomas, and Toots & The Maytals.

A relatively insightful list of the Top Ten Creepiest Fast Food Mascots is available here. By the way, I now feel validated for being leary about eating sandwiches pushed by that possessed little Quiznos hamster/rat thing.

Download tracks by Public Enemy, Ultramagnetic MCs, and Wu-Tang Clan courtesy of floodwatchmusic. Also, don't sleep on floodwatch's post on RZA over at ear fuzz, complete with a few mp3s from the Japanese version of the Ghost Dog soundtrack.

Speaking of RZA's soundtrack work, this article from sheds some light on his involvement with the Afro Samurai series, and includes a link to view the first episode in its entirety.

Oh Word recently recapped a whole year of their undeniable "bloggy goodness"---don't be a fool and miss out on such treasures as "Crack Week" and "How The Fat Boys Nearly Bankrupted Sbarro" the second time around.

A couple of stellar joints can be copped by way of Afterbirth of the Cool---"People Say" by The Meters and Linton Kwesi Johnson's "Di Black Petty Booshwah".

Most of you have probably seen this already, but here's a blue-light special for the shut-ins: a free album that you can legally download--- Liberation by Madlib and Talib Kweli.

While we're on the subject of Madlib, many of his fans are aware of how frequently he's looked towards Melvin Van Peeble's discography for sampling purposes. Cop a few of Mel's finest recordings via Twelve by Twelve.

If you missed Keith Olbermann's heated reaction to Bush using the term "sacrifice" to justify his brainiac idea to send more troops to Iraq, take a moment to watch the video clip courtesy of Crooks And Liars. I only recommend this to those who can handle the truth...

In other news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested today that Congress may deny Bush necessary funds to send additional troops to Iraq---read more here.

Check out Surviving the Golden Age to download a variety of hip-hop joints by artists such as Brother Ali, Royce Da 5'9, Lord Finesse, Ghostface, and more.

Visit this is tomorrow to download some classic tracks by George Benson, King Curtis, The Heath Brothers, and yet another track by Melvin Van Peebles.

This is stupid, but somewhat amusing---this weird guy plays Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" with his hands. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of time it would take to develop such an incredibly annoying talent.

Pay a visit to one of my favorite "new to me" music blogs---Get Downnn. Recently featured artists include Nina Simone, The Coup, Mos Def, Ghostface, and The Clipse.

I'm a little late in delivering this one, but JT at Feed Me Good Tunes recently posted some great songs by the likes of Roy Ayers, Quantic Soul Orchestra, Wilson Pickett, Common, etc.

Download "I Know You Got Soul" by Bobby Byrd over at The "A" Side.

Go see my friend Havas at A Three Minute Record to read his James Brown tribute and cop some hip-hop joints that were heavily influenced by The Godfather. The artists featured include Public Enemy, Digable Planets, Pete Rock, Organized Konfusion, Eric B & Rakim, and Brand Nubian.

As you know, there have been an abundance of James Brown tributes on the internet lately---far too many for me to mention. One of the most diligent has undoubtedly been The Stepfather of Soul, who has been posting some phenomenal records ever since JB passed away on 12/25.

Finally, WFMU recently posted a generous collection of mp3s by "a sassy stash of 60s and 70s soul sisters". Download tracks by Ann Sexton, Irma Thomas, Bessie Banks, Linda Jones, Millie Jackson, The Pointer Sisters, Sugar Pie De Santo, and more. Also includes the "Feelin' Bitchy Monologue Medley" by Steinski...

Hopefully you now forgive me for my lackluster ways...

Word From Your Moms:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."---Shunryu Suzuki

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

With Your Bad Self

I hadn't planned on posting anything today, but hopefully you're willing to roll with me as I improvise along the way. I have a handful of exceptional joints that I've been wanting to bestow upon you---appreciate...and try not to hurt yourself:

"You Ain't My Brother"---The Soul Shakers
Tobias Kirmayer is a vinyl junkie, DJ, label owner and collector of rare funk records. He's released a few compilations of obscurities, including the collection that featured this particular groove---Movements: 14 Deep Funk Pearls. This is an amazing tune that somehow commands you to get up and get down---all at the same time.

"Gangsta Boogie"---Pete Rock/ Slum Village
I've been holding this one for a little while longer than I should have---it's one of the dopest joints on Pete's Masterpiece 01 mixtape. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that this would rank as one of the most laidback and enjoyable hip-hop tracks I heard in '06. Hopefully you'll agree...

"Mash It Funky (Just James Version)" ---dj BC
As you may recall, this is the same cat responsible for Wu Orleans---a mashup opus of Wu-Tang Clan plus dixie jazz tunes. This groovy lil' tribute to James Brown is one of the best I've heard so far.

"After Laughter Comes Tears"----Wendy Rene
Speaking of the Wu, this soul gem was featured as a sample on "Tearz", a joint from their classic Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) LP. Rene was a Memphis soul singer who originally recorded as part of a group called The Drapels, but signed a solo deal with Stax Records shortly thereafter. This song was released in 1964, and is considered by many to be her finest recording.

"Oochie Wally/ Right Now, Right Now"---DJ Swindle
Some of you will undoubtedly cringe at the thought of this entire mix---AlMatic: Nas Meets Al Green. There are a couple of reasons you may be inclined to prejudge this joint---"Oochie Wally" isn't exactly the greatest Nas track of all time, and some would consider it blasphemous to combine any rapper's lyrics with the sounds of a soul legend of Green's magnitude. As you may have noticed, I'm not exactly a "purist" when it comes to music appreciation. I consider myself more of a realist---if it bangs, it bangs. Don't be too uptight to at least give this a listen...

Word From Your Moms:

"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."---Frank Zappa