Monday, May 28, 2007

Fictitious Realities

"This One's For My Baby"---El Michel's Affair

Since I'm such a devoted fan of classic funk and soul recordings, I tend to be relatively skeptical about the idea of contemporary artists replicating these vintage sounds in any sort of meaningful way. I realize that may sound a bit judgmental, but sorry---Joss Stone just ain't no Aretha in my book. There are, however, a few post-millenium exceptions to the rule, and El Michel's Affair is undoubtedly one of them.

Not long ago I posted "Creation", an El Michel's track from their Sounding Out the City LP. I've also featured links to their much-heralded instrumental renditions of Wu-Tang Clan-related material. This particular joint may be a bit more difficult to come by, as it's only been released on the 12-inch vinyl effort, The PJs...From Afar. This phenomenally mellow groove provides further evidence of the fact that these guys truly are a modern-day funk powerhouse...even if they are about 35 years late getting here.

"U-N-I Verse"---Soul Kid Klik (from The Amadou Project/ Weldon Irvine)

Since I'm obviously in the mood to make sweeping generalizations, let me also say that projects released by second-generation, extended Wu-Tang family members are disproportionately inclined to totally suck ass. Clan in da front, if ya know what I mean... However, please don't let that interfere with your propensity towards previewing this outstanding end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it anthem by the good people of the Soul Kid Klik.

SKK was a crew of artists who were managed by Gza Entertainment, a venture that was co-owned by The Genius himself. Due to internal chaos and industry politricks, the group disbanded before they had completely finished working on their album. A collection of demos and studio tracks was eventually released in the form of their Invisible Army LP, including this philosophical manifesto about Life, Death, and Truth.

As far as the inspiration behind the song, you can read some very interesting stuff about Weldon Irvine and his Amadou Project here.

"Yesterday's Mistakes"---Jimmy Jones

Quite a few underappreciated gems were released on Twinight Records, a Chicago-based soul label that was essentially a side project of an independent promotions company. Syl Johnson was the only artist on the label who produced any hits, perhaps because most of their records were given the disadvantage of being played exclusively on the local airwaves, and at a relatively late hour.

However, don't mistakenly assume that these records are obscure because they weren't of a high enough grade to have achieved mainstream success. On the contrary, most of the label's output is on par with material released by the most legendary figures of Chicago soul. To sleep on these recordings a second time around would be borderline criminal.

Numero Group compiled all of the songs that the label had to offer on an double-CD called Eccentric Soul: Twinight's Lunar Rotation. I am certainly not the first blogger to sing the praises of this stellar compilation, and many of my favorites have already been posted elsewhere. Before someone else beats me to it (again), I wanted to share "Yesterday's Mistakes", an incredible soul track that's bound to pull you in with its charming sound and palpable sincerity.

I don't often preach at you about buying records---I figure that part is between you and your God...or whatever. This time, however, I'm strongly suggesting that you buy a copy of this for yourself and everyone else that you even kinda know. Seriously...

"Deb Sombo"---Jimmy McGriff

James Harrell McGriff was once quoted as saying: "They've always classified me as a jazz organist which I am not. I'm more of a blues player. That's what I really feel." Understanding that about him may give you a hint of the versatility and genre-bending properties of his style and influence.

McGriff started out playing alto sax and acoustic bass, and had also learned how to play drums, vibes, and piano by the time he graduated from high school. He may have favored playing the bass, but his hometown of Philadelphia was especially renowned for their jazz organists. He was eventually schooled by soul jazz organist Richard "Groove" Holmes, and also studied the instrument at two colleges (including Julliard). After being discovered at a small club in Trenton, NJ, McGriff began his exceptionally prolific recording career. I don't have an exact figure, but I know for a fact that he's since been featured on more than a hundred different albums/recordings.

My copy of the smooth organ groove "Deb Sombo" is from another amazing compilation, Blue Note Trip: Saturday Night/ Sunday Morning. For some of you, this is going to make your whole day.

"My Name Is Mable (AKA Able Mable)"---Mable John

Mable John is a blues/soul/gospel vocalist who was the first female artist that Berry Gordy signed to Motown's Tamla label. Although John was born in Louisiana, she and her family eventually migrated to Detroit, Michigan. She landed a job as a secretary at an insurance company that was run by Gordy's mother. He signed her in 1959, and she immediately began recording some bluesy singles, such as "Who Wouldn't Love A Man Like That" and "Actions Speak Louder Than Words".

As the Motown sound became more defined, the label seemed to find its niche in smoother, more accessible R&B offerings. John would ultimately get lost in the shuffle, as Gordy began to phase out many of the early blues artists who were on his roster. Mable was quickly relegated to background singing, until her contract was completely dissolved in 1962.

Afterwards, John joined the Raelettes, and provided backing vocals on many of Ray Charles' most celebrated recordings. She embarked on another solo venture with Stax in 1966, but only her first single ("Your Good Thing Is About To End") met with any commercial success. In 1968 she rejoined the Raelettes, performing and recording with them until she left secular music altogether in 1973. Since then, she's managed several Christian gospel acts, and has occasionally laid down some of her own vocals in the studio as well.

"My Name Is Mable" is an incredibly infectious tune that is planted firmly at the intersection of soul, blues, funk, rock, and gospel. I'm exceptionally lazy, and it makes me want to move, so anything is possible.

If you're interested in exploring John's discography further, this track appears on a compilation also known as My Name Is Mable.

"Shut 'Em Down (Pete Rock remix)" ---Public Enemy

I think that the majority of you already know what a brilliant producer Pete Rock is, but most of us don't really understand how he does what he does. The unique way that he layers multiple dimensions of classic sounds gives his tracks an incredibly lush texture that is paralleled by few. Here's a video of Pete droppin' some knowledge about his technique:

In my humble opinion, this PE remix represents one of Rock's finest moments on wax. It originally appeared on the "Shut 'Em Down" 12-inch single, and has recently been spotted on my friend Flood's mix, Soul Brother Blends '92-'94.

Word From Your Moms:

“Nothing great or enduring, especially in music, has ever sprung full-fledged and unprecedented from the brain of any master; the best he gives to the world he gathers from the hearts of the people, and runs it through the alembic of his genius.”---James Weldon Johnson

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Souled On Samples: Special Edition

This edition of Souled On Samples features original songs from the 25 greatest hip-hop albums of all time (based entirely upon Jeff and Joey's recent survey results):

1) Illmatic---Nas

"We're In Love"---Reuben Wilson (Sampled on "Memory Lane")

2) Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers---Wu-Tang Clan

"As Long As I've Got You"---The Charmels (Sampled on "C.R.E.A.M.")

3) Ready To Die---Notorious B.I.G.

"Walk On By"---Isaac Hayes (Sampled on "Warning")

4) Only Built 4 Cuban Linx---Raekwon

"Wang Dang Doodle"---Koko Taylor (Sampled on "Incarcerated Scarfaces")

5) The Chronic---Dr. Dre

"Brother's Gonna Work It Out"---Willie Hutch (Sampled on "Rat-tat-tat-tat")

6) It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back---Public Enemy

"It's My Thing (Pt.1)"---Marva Whitney (Sampled on "Bring The Noise")

7) Midnight Marauders---A Tribe Called Quest

"Damn Right I'm Somebody"---Fred Wesley and The JB's (Sampled on "Oh My God")

8) The Low End Theory---A Tribe Called Quest

"Wicky Wacky"---Fatback Band (Sampled on "Show Business")

9) Paid In Full---Eric B & Rakim

"NT"---Kool & The Gang (Sampled on "Move The Crowd")

10) The Infamous---Mobb Deep

"Benjamin"---Les McCann (Sampled on "Right Back At You")

11) Aquemini---Outkast

"(Theme From)Midnight Express"---Giorgio Moroder (Sampled on "Return Of The 'G'")

12) Liquid Swords---GZA

"In The Rain"---The Dramatics (Sampled on "Cold World")

13) Straight Outta Compton---NWA

"Rock Creek Park"---The Blackbyrds (Sampled on "Quiet On The Set")

14) Supreme Clientele---Ghostface Killah

"I Hate I Walked Away"---Syl Johnson (Sampled on "We Made It")

15) Reasonable Doubt---Jay-Z

"A Garden Of Peace"---Lonnie Liston Smith (Sampled on "Dead Presidents II")

16) Criminal Minded---Boogie Down Productions

"Different Strokes"---Syl Johnson (Sampled on "Criminal Minded")

17) Doggystyle---Snoop Doggy Dogg

"I Get Lifted"---George McCrae (Sampled on "Gin And Juice")

18) The Score---The Fugees

"Ready Or Not Here I Come (Can't Hide From Love)"---The Delfonics (Sampled on "Ready Or Not")

19) Raising Hell---Run-DMC

"Rocket In The Pocket"---Cerrone (Drums sampled on "Hit It Run" and "Raising Hell")

20) 3 Feet High and Rising---De La Soul

"God Made Me Funky"---The Headhunters (Sampled on "Take It Off")

21) Life After Death---Notorious B.I.G.

"I'm Glad You're Mine"---Al Green (Sampled on "I Got A Story To Tell")

22) ATLiens---Outkast

"Focus III"---Focus (Sampled on "Wheels Of Steel")

23) Resurrection---Common

"Cross Country"---Archie Whitewater (Sampled on "Chapter 13")

24) Black Star---Black Star

"The Fox"---Don Randi (Sampled on "Respiration")

25) The Blueprint---Jay-Z

"Sounds Like A Love Song"---Bobby Glenn (Sampled on "Song Cry")

Word From Your Moms:

"There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something, we'd all love one another." ---Frank Zappa

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Guess I Should Have Forgot Where I Came From

The majority of you may not remember this, but for quite a long time (in blogger years, anyway), Souled On posts were exclusively geared towards linking readers to other sites of interest. Last summer, I finally decided to start sharing some music from my personal collection for the very first time. Since then, the trusty link post has slowly become somewhat of an endangered species around here for a couple of different reasons.

First of all, being more involved in the content gives me much greater freedom to pay proper tribute to the artists and songs that have shaped and sustained my love for music over the years. Although many bloggers offer great tunes for general consumption, what they're posting are probably not the same songs playing in my head at any given moment.

Additionally, I've surrendered to the notion that at this point, there are quite a few blogs/sites who do rap-ups, round-ups, best-ofs, etc. Many of their administrators can produce these lists on a level that's better, faster, more than I will ever see.

However, there's also a couple of reasons why these posts are unlikely to ever become fully extinct. I still feel the need to occasionally give props to other sites for doing their thing, and doing it well. Furthermore, I can't seem to deny my natural human tendency to aggregate. So fuck it...

All of that just to say that I was bringing you the latest block watch report from my side of the cyberhood? Damn.


Visit Martini & Jopparelli's Music Selections to d/l Jimmie & Vella Cameron's "Hey Boy Over There", the original song that DJ Premier borrowed for CNN's "Invincible".

Kanye's latest joint ("You Can't Tell Me Nothing") is as overly dramatic, self-indulgent, conflicted, and idiosyncratic as his detractors might expect...but it's also pretty damn nice. If you haven't already, cop it via Nah Right. While you're there, you may also want to check out Amy Winehouse's "Rehab (Remix)" (feat. Jay-Z) and "The Hardest" by Styles P and AZ (produced by Large Professor).

Amy Winehouse lovers should visit los amigos de durutti to download a couple of remixes. Amy Winehouse haters, on the other hand, should read this article from SFBG (spotted via she real cool).

The Most recent Sample Wednesday at Palms Out Sounds featured some original songs that have been borrowed for joints by Boot Camp Clik. Download tracks by Parliament, Minnie Riperton, Vicki Anderson, Lightnin' Rod, Baby Huey, and more.

In case you've been wondering, there are a couple of videos at sneakmove that explain how vinyl records are made.

Download Common's "The Game" (feat. DJ Premier) courtesy of Discobelle.

If you dislike Dubya as much as I do, you may find that Bush Bash can be quite a cathartic exercise.

Tuwa's Shanty is featuring a few premium tracks by Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.

Ben from The Mark Out recently compared Joell Ortiz to "a young Fat Joe when he had a hunger for more than just fatty foods." Genius...

O-Dub recently posted the original song that was sampled on John Legend's "Slow Dance". Download "My Girl, She's A Fox" by The Icemen via soul sides.

This week's Old Rap Wednesday at featured a nice selection of vintage hip-hop radio jams from 1991-1994.

Amusing novelty item or sign of a chilling post-Seinfeldian nihilism? You can now purchase Nothing for only $6.28. Get it while you can, suckas...

Dan Love recently posted a couple of tracks by Pete Rock & CL Smooth (from Soul Survivor II) @ From Da Bricks.

Flood just performed another skillful autopsy of a song---this time it was Roy Ayers who went under the analytical knife.

Download a diverse array of tracks by Sly & The Family Stone at Silence Is A Rhythm Too.

As many of you already know, Straight Bangin' and Passion of the Weiss invited some of their favorite bloggers to participate in a survey that "endeavored to discern" which hip-hop albums are regarded as the 25 greatest of all time. Peep the results at either location. I suppose I should have posted the list that I submitted, but procrastination has gotten the best of me for the past few weeks. I will tell you, however, that my very favorite hip-hop record is still (and may always be) Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.

In related news, Travis from WYDU posted some excellent Masta Ace joints in honor of his favorite LP, SlaughtaHouse.

Adam at hahamusic recently posted several Gwen McRae covers of Billie Holiday classics.

Speaking of cover versions, check out John Holt's rendition of "For the Love of You" @ Dilated Choonz.

Visit exploration of music to download Jaylib's "The Mission (Remix)".

A couple of stellar tracks by The Ohio Players are currently available by way of Feel It.

Stretch Armstrong continues to impress the hell out of hip-hop heads worldwide, this time by posting a classic freestyle from an early '90s birthday bash for Big Daddy Kane. Artists who jumped on the track include Jay-Z, Masta Ace, Biz Markie, and Special Ed. If Konstant Kontact isn't already a part of your rotation, you probably stand corrected.

Before I go, I'd like to thank a lot of blogs for linking SO, but real life is calling my skinny ass to the table.

There's always next time, soul kids...

Word From Your Moms:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children

As you know, Mom's word is a pretty big deal around here. This time she said she was gonna kick my ass if I let Mother's Day go by without giving props to all of the amazing women in the world who raise their children with wisdom, grace, and love. It is in their honor that I present a handful of my favorite mama-themed tunes from the crates. Enjoy---and be sure to give Moms a kiss for me...

"Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child"---Kathleen Emery

"My Momma And My Poppa"---Darondo

"Mommy, What's A Gravedigga? (Uptight Crate Digga Mix)"---Gravediggaz

"Answer To Mother Popcorn (I Got A Mother For You)"---Vicki Anderson

"Motherless Child"---O.V. Wright

"My Mom"---Chocolate Genius

"Mom's Revolver"---Omega One

Family members vik and Fresh also paid respect---be sure to check out their tributes as well.

Word From Your Moms:

"Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child."---Gautama Siddharta

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Souled On Samples Part IV

How we feelin' out there, soul children? My daytime hustle required that I leave town for the past few days, so try not to be pissed at me for failing to offer a more substantive post. Things will get back to normal at the precise moment when I figure out what the hell that means. Meanwhile, I'm leaving some outstanding tracks as collateral--that way you know I'll get my ass back here as soon as possible...

"Tobacco Road"---Tommy Youngblood
(Sampled on "Stunt 101" by G-Unit)

"Free Again"---Gap Mangione
(Sampled on "Iron's Theme (Conclusion)" by Ghostface Killah)

"Ain't No Price On Happiness"---The Spinners
(Sampled on "Go With The Flow" and "Spikenard" by MF Doom)

"Help Me Make It Through The Night"---Gladys Knight & The Pips
(Sampled on "Da Joint" by EPMD)

"Hurry Up This Way Again"---The Stylistics
(Sampled on "Politics As Usual" by Jay-Z)

"Twine Time"---Alvin Cash
(Sampled on "Defective Trippin" by Gravediggaz, "Chief Rocka" by Lords of the Underground, and "Let, Let Me In" by De La Soul)

"Chicago"---Graham Nash
(Sampled on "The Truth" by Beanie Sigel)

"Don't Leave Me Lonely"---King Floyd
(Sampled on "For Heaven's Sake" by The Wu-Tang Clan)

Word From Your Moms:

"When Bush says democracy, I often wonder what he's referring to."---Angela Davis

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Slang Meets Soul

(Above sketch courtesy of SCRITCH & SCRATCH)

In the interests of keeping things fresh and out of the ordinary around here, I decided to give vik from Biochemical Slang the absolute soul power to call the shots for today's post. I started out by simply asking him if he had any favorite sample joints/original songs that he'd like to share with some needy soul children. Everything else, from the title to the ending quote is the product of his intelligent design. Now here we stand at the funkiest intersection of the blogosphere...where Slang Meets Soul...

Al GreenThe Letter
Sampled by Tragedy Khadafi– LA, LA

David AxelrodThe Smile
Sampled by Lord Finesse– Actual Facts

All the PeopleCramp Your Style
Sampled by everybody, including Del – Made in America

Funk, Inc.Kool is Back
Sampled by everybody, including the West Coast Rap All-Stars

The SylversWish That I Could Talk To You
Sampled by Ghostface– Mighty Healthy

Ini KamozeWorld-A-Music
Sampled by Damian Marley– Welcome to Jamrock

Muddy WatersMannish Boy
Sampled by Three Times Dope
Greatest Man Alive


Ann PeeblesThe Handwriting is On the Wall

Sampled by the Wu-Tang ClanIron Flag

Word From Your Moms:

Presented by THE WATTS PROPHETS (mp3)

“A man once told me that you step out of your door in the morning, and you are already in trouble. The only question is, are you on top of that trouble or not?”
- Walter Mosley (via Easy Rawlins, from Devil in a Blue Dress)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Souled On Samples Part III

You know what time it is...

"Innocent Til Proven Guilty"---Honey Cone
(Sampled on "Testify" by Common)

"Found A Child"---Ballin' Jack
(Sampled on "Bust A Move" by Young MC and "Eva" by Ozomatli)

"Lay Away"---The Isley Brothers
(Sampled on "Receipt" by Lil' Wayne)

"Memories Of Scirocco"--- Chuck Mangione
(Sampled on "A Day To God Is A 1000 Years" by RZA)

"Can't Find The Judge"---Gary Wright
(Sampled on "Steppin' To The A.M." by 3rd Bass and "No More Talk" by T.I.)

"Pity For The Lonely"---Luther Ingram
(Sampled on "Public Enemy" by A Tribe Called Quest w/ DJ Red Alert)

"One Night Affair"---The Stylistics
(Sampled on "Lovin' It" by Little Brother)

"Let Me Prove My Love To You"---The Main Ingredient
(Sampled on "You Don't Know My Name" by Alicia Keys---produced by Kanye West)

"Six Day War"---Colonel Bagshot
(Sampled on "Six Days" by DJ Shadow)

Bonus joints:

"Testify (remix)"---Common w/ Darien Brockington

"Six Days (remix)"---DJ Shadow w/ Mos Def

Word From Your Moms:

"As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress."---Marcel Proust