Sunday, December 30, 2007

That River Knows That I Can't Swim...

A couple more days of lazy bloggery, and I swear I'll be back to my regular hustle around here...

Traffic tends to reach its lowest point towards the end of the year, so it seems logical...maybe even momentarily pause the rotation.

Meanwhile, meditate on the sound of trees falling in an empty forest, bitches...

"Can't See My Way"---Erma Franklin (zShare)

"Can't See My Way"---Erma Franklin (savefile)

*I have a little shower rendition of this groove that I think would make Erma laugh her ass off if she was still alive. Thanks for the divine inspiration, soul sister...

Dig deeper...

"Roc Boys (Small Professor Remix)"---Jay-Z (zShare)

"Roc Boys (Small Professor Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

*Respect to all of the DJs and producers who've sent me copies of their AG remixes. I'll be listening to all of them in the coming weeks. As a whole, Small Professor's Crooklyn Gangster has been one of my favorites so far, but that's still just scratching the surface. I haven't heard most of the mixes in my inbox yet, not to mention the ones that are steadily circulating around the internets.

Keep hittin' me up...

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"I Let Love Slip Away"---David Ruffin (zShare)

"I Let Love Slip Away"---David Ruffin (savefile)

*Could the first fourteen seconds of this track be any nearer to perfection?

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"So Many Ways To Die"---Oohna Truth (zShare)

"So Many Ways To Die"---Oohna Truth (savefile)

*Awww...don't worry soul kids...I'm not diggin' this because I want to hurt myself or anything. And'll be the first to know if I feel so empty inside that I start thinking about giving away my record collection...

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"One Night Of Sin"---Tami Lynn (zShare)

"One Night Of Sin"---Tami Lynn (savefile)

*"Unsaintly acts seamlessly intertwined with a sincerity and conviction reserved only for the most righteous of melodies." That's what I wrote down about this song the first time I listened to it.

Dude... what the fuck did I mean by that?

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"Baby Your Light Is Out"---Young-Holt Unlimited (zShare)

"Baby Your Light Is Out"---Young-Holt Unlimited (savefile)

*The moral to this story seems obvious. Hell...even Ray Charles can see this girl's trying to diss you, lil' homie .

Dig deeper...

"Uncut"---Talib Kweli/ Ghostface Killah (zShare)

"Uncut"---Talib Kweli/ Ghostface Killah (savefile)

*An ill uptempo joint from Kweli's Focus bootleg (2007)

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Word From Your Moms:

I've known rivers:

I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Souled On Samples Part XVII

"I Cry"---Millie Jackson (zShare)

"I Cry"---Millie Jackson (savefile)

*Sampled on "Cry" by Freeway, "No Glory" by Beanie Sigel, "Perceptions" by Oh No, and "Killa Tape (intro) by 50 Cent

Dig deeper...

"Maybe"---The Three Degrees (zShare)

"Maybe"---The Three Degrees (savefile)

*Sampled on "Beauty Jackson" by Ghostface Killah and "Hi" by J Dilla

Dig deeper...

Gypsy Woman"---The Persuasions (zShare)

Gypsy Woman"---The Persuasions (savefile)

*Sampled on "Campfire" by Wu-Tang Clan

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"Cry Together"---The O'Jays (zShare)

"Cry Together"---The O'Jays (savefile)

*Sampled on "Kill Niggaz" by Slick Rick, "Planes & Trains" by Zion I, "Mo Money Mo Murder" by AZ and Nas, and "Real Niggas" by The Diplomats, and "Pour Out A Little Liquor" by 2pac

Dig deeper...

"Ike's Mood I"---Isaac Hayes (zShare)

"Ike's Mood I"---Isaac Hayes (savefile)

*Sampled on "Getting Married" by Nas, "Beautiful Mind" by Cormega, "Letter To The Firm" by Foxy Brown, "Still Got Love For You" by Beanie Sigel, "Today" Royce Da 5'9", "Bitches From Eastwick" by The Lox, "Jealousy" by Fat Joe, "The Streetz Iz A Mutha" by Kurupt, "I Love You" by Mary J Blige, "Make the Music 2000" by Rahzel, "Mary Jane" by Tha Alkaholiks, "Still Can't Fade It" by Warren G, "East Coast" by Das EFX, "One Love" by Massive Attack, "He Cuts So Fresh" Marley Marl w/ Juice Crew, "Cool V's Tribute To Scratching" and "Make The Music" by Biz Markie, "Six Minutes Of Pleasure" by LL Cool J, "Knock 'Em Out Da Box" by Naughty By Nature, "The Chronicles (I Will Always Love H.E.R.)" by Peanut Butter Wolf, "Down For My Niggas" by C-Murder/Snoop/Magic, "Out In The Park" by Saigon, and "Grand Groove" by Intelligent Hoodlum

Dig deeper...

"With You"---Main Ingredient (zShare)

"With You"---Main Ingredient (savefile)

*Sampled on "Why You Hate The Game" by The Game/Nas

Dig deeper...

"Goo Goo Wah Wah"---Wah Wah Watson (zShare)

"Goo Goo Wah Wah"---Wah Wah Watson (savefile)

*Sampled on "I'm The Man" by Gang Starr and "Say Word" by Def Squad

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"Fell For You"---The Dramatics (zShare)

"Fell For You"---The Dramatics (savefile)

*Sampled on "Fallin'" by Jay-Z

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"A Day In The Life"---Les DeMerle (zShare)

"A Day In The Life"---Les DeMerle (savefile)

*Sampled on "Time's Up" by OC

Dig deeper...

"Call Me"---Aretha Franklin (zShare)

"Call Me"---Aretha Franklin (savefile)

*Sampled on "Selfish" by Slum Village w/ Kanye West and "Spazzola" by Method Man

Dig deeper...

Supplemental Materials:

Vintage clip of The Main Ingredient performing "Everybody Plays The Fool" on Soul Train:

Bet you haven't seen this in a while...OC's "Time's Up" video:

Bonus mp3s (zShare only):

Millie's "I Cry" flipped in two entirely different ways:

"Perceptions"---Oh No (produced by Oh No)

"I Cry"---Freeway (produced by DJ Noodles)

Word From Your Moms:

"Different strokes for different folks, and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby."---Sly And The Family Stone

Friday, December 14, 2007

As The Incense Burns and The Turntables Turn...

What's good, soul children? Hopefully all my peoples are feelin' fat and happy right about now. As for myself, I'm already making preparations for a very lazy weekend. To hell with productivity...sometimes it's more clever to endeavor to do nothing whatsoever. Screw whatever it is you think you have to do and get mellow right along with me, fam. These joints are already so hot, you ain't even gotta burn 'em...

"No One Could Ever Love You"---Freddie Scott (zShare)

"No One Could Ever Love You"---Freddie Scott (savefile)

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"I'll Understand"---The Soul Children (zShare)

"I'll Understand"---The Soul Children (savefile)

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"Ran It In The Ground"---Bloodstone (zShare)

"Ran It In The Ground"---Bloodstone (savefile)

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"Good To The Very Last Drop"---Millie Jackson (zShare)

"Good To The Very Last Drop"---Millie Jackson (savefile)

Dig deeper...

The first wave of American Gangster remix projects have been released, and I've listened to quite a few of them over the past few days. The results run the gamut from pretty damn good to awfully fuckin' terrible...but I suppose that's to be expected. I'm of the mindset that the best mixes have yet to make an appearance on the internets, but meanwhile, here are a few I'm kinda diggin' right now....

"Hello Brooklyn 2.0 (Beirut Remix)"---Jay-Z/Lil' Wayne (zShare)

"Hello Brooklyn 2.0 (Beirut Remix)"---Jay-Z/Lil' Wayne (savefile)

"Pray (MIDIMarc Remix)"---Jay-Z (zShare)

"Pray (MIDIMarc Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"Success (Grinehouse Remix)"---Jay-Z/Nas (zShare)

"Success (Grinehouse Remix)"---Jay-Z/Nas (savefile)

"Party Life (Marvol Remix)"---Jay-Z (zShare)

"Party Life (Marvol Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"No Hook (Beirut Remix)"---Jay-Z (zShare)

"No Hook (Beirut Remix)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

"Say Hello (DJ Doc Rok)"---Jay-Z (zShare)

"Say Hello (Dj Doc Rok)"---Jay-Z (savefile)

Feel free to share your thoughts on these---the good, the bad, and the ugly. Since I have an obsession with collecting remixes, you're also encouraged to contribute to my depravity by dropping suggestions on any dope AG reduxes I may have overlooked. My future therapist thanks you...

Word From Your Moms:

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."---Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Fusion of Jazzy Blue Beats With Equal Parts Soulful Heat

"Leave Him"---Don Covay (zShare)

"Leave Him"---Don Covay (savefile)

In keeping with the other nearly forgotten artists and musicians I prefer to spotlight, Don Covay is amongst the ranks of the most underappreciated soul men of all time. Not only was he a gifted singer/songwriter, he was also associated in one way or another with some of the most legendary artists in music history. It would be a fool's errand to attempt mentioning all of his achievements within the range of a single post, so in the interests of providing a brief overview I've extracted a few highlights of his career that you may find interesting:

*Covay's first gig as a vocalist was with the Cherry Keys, his family's gospel quartet. He later crossed over into secular music by joining The Rainbows, one of Washington D.C.'s pioneering doo-wop groups. Although it's frequently stated that The Rainbows' line-up also included Marvin Gaye and Billy Stewart, there are conflicting accounts which suggest that the two actually only occasionally filled in for absent members during the group's live performances.

*Covay's solo career took off after he took a job chauffeuring Little Richard, and was then invited to be his opening act as well. Richard went on to produce Covay's 1957 solo debut, "Bip Bip Bip", a single that was credited to Pretty Boy (Richard's nickname for Covay).

*After jumping from one label to another for several years, Covay eventually signed to the Rosemart label in 1964. His debut single there (with the Goodtimers as his backing band) was "Mercy Mercy", a legendary recording that featured a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar. After Atlantic picked the single up for distribution, the song sailed its way onto the Top 40 charts. The track greatly impressed The Rolling Stones, who released a cover of the song in 1965 on their Out Of Our Heads LP. In fact, lead singer Mick Jagger's persona is said to have been greatly influenced by Covay's phrasing, swagger, and overall style.

*Although The Soul Clan may have never reached the epic supergroup proportions that were originally intended, the one single that the group did record is one of soul music history's absolute gems. The group was comprised of Covay, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Ben E. King, and Arthur Conley. The project (which at one time was also meant to include Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding) was the brainchild of Covay, who also wrote both songs the group recorded with an uncredited Bobby Womack. The A-side of the single was "Soul Meeting", while the flip side was the amazing "That's How It Feels". I posted the latter track some time can still download the mp3 I posted here.

*In addition to writing "Chain Of Fools" for Aretha Franklin, Covay's compositions have been recorded by Otis Redding, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Solomon Burke, Steppenwolf, Gene Chandler, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, The Small Faces, Chubby Checker, Grant Green, Jerry Butler, Little Richard, and more. Although he managed to score a few hits as a performer, he was infinitely more successful in his role as songwriter.

While many soul fans would argue that Covay's most monumental work came out of the 1960s, his Super Dude LP (Mercury, 1973) has probably gotten more spins on my turntable than any of his other albums. There's no denying that much of his best material was recorded for Atlantic Records, but his first set on Mercury deserves its own nod of unapologetic approval. Although some of his audience undoubtedly grieved the raw intensity that was a hallmark of his earlier recordings, I never found that the more polished arrangements and production on Super Dude compromised the irresistibility of Covay's material. It still provides a generous helping of stunning southern soul mixed with a twist of gritty funk.

Super Dude was intended to be somewhat of a comeback album for Covay, and it did generate a hit record for him---the unforgettable tale of promiscuity known as "I Was Checkin' Out She Was Checkin' In". Since I suspect that some of you may have heard that track on the radio, I decided to instead focus your attention on "Leave Him", another song on the record that explores the timeless theme of infidelity.

There are a few things about "Leave Him" that make it a point of interest on the LP. Although the song is about an adulterous situation, it's a deep southern soul ballad with leanings towards a traditional gospel sound. It's no small feat that Covay is incredibly convincing at making a presumably sinful act sound downright heavenly and sublime.

Covay's one-sided conversation at the very beginning of the track makes the whole affair sound relatively shady, setting the tone for a tawdry down-low creep. When he pleads with his lover to tell her man that she has to work late so that he can pick her up in his Mustang at their secret meeting place, you may feel a bit of regret for the poor bastard who's being unknowingly deceived. However, as the music begins to swell and Covay starts singing from his gut about the heart-wrenching emotions he feels for this woman, you can't help but transfer your pity for the other man into a sincere hope that Covay can somehow manage to get the girl.

In the original vinyl format, the continuity of the tale is somewhat jeopardized by the fact that the track was divided into two parts (appearing on opposite sides of the LP as an additional pain in the ass). That decision always struck me as curious, but even this slight irritation doesn't diminish my overall affinity for the song. Since the two tracks combined clock in at nearly 10 minutes, I decided to relegate the portion from the record's B-side to the supplemental section. If you really like this, don't hesitate to start digging for your own copy...

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"Lonely Room"---The Smile Rays (zShare)

"Lonely Room"---The Smile Rays (savefile)

Travis has been telling me to check out The Smile Rays for quite a while now, and this week I finally had an opportunity to hear their digital-only release on Rawkus called Smilin' For You. At this point, my only regret is the days I slept before I got around to seriously checkin' for this outstanding trio from Jacksonville, FL.

Although The Smile Rays have really just begun making some audible noise in the underground sector of the hip-hop community, all three members have some noteworthy previous experience to boast on their individual resumes. The trio's skillful MC, Therapy, is also in the AB's (formerly known as Asamov). Therapy is also a proficient DJ who's been affiliated with a number of key players in the independent hip-hop scene. The lovely Daisey (vocals) and DJ Batsauce have been recording together for a few years as Heavenly Noise, as well as each having been involved in some other projects of their own.

"Lonely Room" may give you a somewhat limited perspective on the group's overall sound since it's a purely instrumental joint. However, it meshed nicely with the other selections for today's post, and quite honestly, I can't seem to get enough of this beat. The melancholy, soulful vibe immediately put its hooks in me, and I'm not exactly struggling to get free...

These true-school heads will prompt many of you to reminisce on the essence and vitality of hip-hop's roots, so exercise due diligence and take a moment to dig deeper...

"Have A Little Mercy"---Ann Sexton (zShare)

"Have A Little Mercy"---Ann Sexton (savefile)

Ann Sexton is another artist who is commonly overlooked in discussions of exceptional female vocalists. Although she could easily tap into the emotions of her listening audience with the sweet, soulful quality of her voice, she was equally capable of exposing a grittier funk side on many of her recordings.

Sexton started out as a gospel singer, but she fully crossed over into secular music after being discovered in 1971 by songwriter/producer David Lee. Her first album, Loving You Loving Me, was released on John Richbourg's 77 label out of Nashville. Her second and final LP, In The Beginning, was recorded in Muscle Shoals and released on Sound Stage 7 in 1977.

For a number of years, both of these albums remained highly elusive, which has undoubtedly contributed to her relative obscurity. Some of the Southern Soul gems she recorded became favorites on the Northern Soul scene, but her material has never been widely recognized or acknowledged in the United States.

Fortunately, the content of these albums (as well as her 45s) have gradually become more readily available via compilations and anthologies of her work. The UK label Charly released a collection of her 7" singles in the mid-'80s called Love Trials. In 1995, the same label released a more comprehensive collection (You're Gonna Miss Me) that included several more tracks than Love Trials. Finally, Soul Brother Records released the sought-after content of her two LPs under the title Ann Sexton: Anthology. As an added bonus, they were also kind enough to include the rare 7" track "You Got To Use What You Got", so the collection is a must-have for anyone who's interested in more fully exploring her work.

"Have A Little Mercy" is one of her deep soul gems that I've never seen posted anywhere else. Although the song's lyrics imply that she's been whipped into a certain degree of subservience by her torturous feelings for her inconsiderate lover, Sexton's delivery is strong enough to save the song from excessively wallowing in martyrdom. In fact, the determination in her voice implies that there may be sufficient anger boiling under the surface for her to actually leave the sorry bastard behind one day...

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"Northern Girls"---Belleruche (zShare)

"Northern Girls"---Belleruche (savefile)

Belleruche sounds like a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing that you've ever heard before. They're an eclectic London-based trio, comprised of Kathrin deBoer (vocals), Ricky Fabulous (guitar), and DJ Modest (turntablist). Their impressive debut album, Turntable Soul Music, was released this summer on the Tru Thoughts label.

The group has two ways of describing their sound: 1) "handmade hip hop blues soul" and 2) "like Sarah Vaughn, Charlie Christian and Cut Chemist stuck in a dusty secondhand record store with wine and a sampler". They claim a diverse array of influences, including James Brown, Lyrics Born, Eddie Bo, Jimi Hendrix, DJ Shadow, Nina Simone, Kid Koala, Miles Davis, Groucho Marx, Memphis Slim, DJ Premier, Bill Withers, Les McCann, and Chuck D.

If you love vinyl, beats, jazz, soul and/or funk, you may find yourself diggin' this group as much as I do. If you don't love vinyl, beats, jazz, soul and/or funk, have you ever asked yourself what the hell you're doing here?

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"I Still Care"---Pieces Of Peace (zShare)

"I Still Care"---Pieces Of Peace (savefile)

Pieces of Peace were a funk and soul outfit from Chicago who backed numerous artists during studio sessions and live performances in the '60s and '70s. One of their most notable gigs was acting as Syl Johnson's touring band for quite a few of his shows, as well as backing him up on his Is It Because I'm Black LP (1970).

Despite their affiliation with some of Chi-Town's greatest legends, the Pieces of Peace only released a single 45 of their own material---"Pass It On Pts 1 & 2" on Twinight in 1971 (recently reissued on vinyl by Numero Group, by the way). They did have a full-length album planned for release , but it got shelved when the group disintegrated before it came to fruition. Due in large part to managerial disputes and some of the members experiencing homesickness, the unit disintegrated during a tour of Southeast Asia. Several of the members (including Benjamin Wright, Michael Davis, and Fred Crutchfield) went on to work with Earth, Wind, and Fire, and for all intents and purposes, their unreleased album was lost and all but forgotten. That is, until just recently.

Assisted by DJ Shadow, Quannum unearthed the tapes from these recording sessions, and assembled them into the LP that Scarab Records had intended to release in the 1970s. The result is a groovy and occasionally spectacular album that's an essential relic dug up from the vaults of soul and funk musical history.

While most of the set consists of funky grooves and extended jams, the group's versatility is perhaps most evident on the ballad "I Still Care". On the few songs that aren't purely instrumental, King Johnson was selected to perform vocal duties on the tracks. While it's highly unlikely that he's the best vocalist that you've ever heard, he holds his own while accepting the difficult role of fronting such a powerful group of musicians.

My verdict on the album as a whole? I'd have to give it a B-, but major props to DJ Shadow and Quannum for salvaging this musical artifact for all the funky collectors in the universe.

"Caught Up"---Joe Beats (zShare)

"Caught Up"---Joe Beats (savefile)

Joe Beats is a sample-based producer out of Newport, RI who's been officially releasing music since 1999. He's recorded under several different aliases and project titles, including The Joe Beats Conspiracy, The Joe Beats Trio, The Non-Prophets, The Joe Beats Experiment, Joe Beats & Blak, Joey Nose Beats, etc.

I go through periods where I listen to a lot of instrumental releases---it's my refuge from lackluster MCs and uninspired wordplay/lyricism. That said, an LP without words has to be a multi-dimensional and exceptionally engaging listen for me to keep it in regular rotation. Joe Beats' Diverse Recourse (Bully Records, 2007) is an effort that meets and even exceeds those standards in my opinion. It's the follow-up to his Reverse Discourse LP, but unlike most sequels, this is a welcome continuation rather than a desperate and unnecessary rehashing of concepts and ideas.

If you like what you hear, you can download quite a few of Joey's beats and remixes for free via his MySpace page. Then show the man some gratitude by coughing up the change to buy a few of his LPs...

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Supplemental Materials:

If you've never heard "Mercy Mercy" by Don Covay, you can listen to it via this video clip. Then tell me that Mick Jagger doesn't owe a thing or two to Super Dude's cool-ass steez...

Bonus mp3s (zShare only):

"Leave Him Pt. 2" ---Don Covay
The wrap-up from the point where we left off...

"Gone Head"---Asamov
As I mentioned above, Therapy from The Smile Rays is also in The AB's, who were formerly called Asamov (got that?). I decided to blow the dust off of one of my favorite Asamov joints to turn a few heads who haven't heard this yet. This track appeared on their And Now... LP (6 Hole Records, 2005).

Word From Your Moms:

"Music is my religion. Music is the only thing that has never failed me. People let you down, music won't."-Gary Bartz

"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard."-Anne Sexton (American poet/writer, not to be confused with the soulful songstress featured above)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sisters Got Soul

The last time my man DJ Blueprint dropped a mix over here, it was downloaded over 3,800 times. Crazy, right? It didn't take a whole lot of insight on our part to figure out that the soul children might be ready to get down with a second round.

As always, Blueprint came through with the undeniable goods. If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'---this is one of my friend's dopest mixes yet. If you accidentally slept on his first guest mix, it's still available via this post.

I have watched this guy evolve into the amazing soul juggernaut that he is today, and I couldn't be more proud of what he's bringing to the table(s). If you want to keep track of what he's up to, be sure to check him out on the regular over at his almighty throne, better known as this is tomorrow.

dj blueprint - sisters got soul mix (zShare)

dj blueprint - sisters got soul mix (YSI)

01. lyn collins - think (polydor)
02. saundra phillips - miss fatback (brown dog)
03. etta james - you got it (cadet)
04. gloria taylor - born a woman (king soul)
05. marie franklin - bad bad woman (westbound)
06. betty wright - secretary (alston)
07. yvonne fair - funky music sho nuff turns me on (motown)
08. laura lee - crumbs off the table (hot wax)
09. erma franklin - i'm just not ready for love (shout)
10. dorothy moore - here it is (malaco)
11. betty lavelle - do your duty (silver fox)
12. marie adams - get on up and do it baby (vantage)
13. jean knight - you think you're hot stuff (stax)
14. laura lee - what a man (cotillion)
15. betty harris - there's a break in the road (sss international)
16. koko taylor - instant everything (yambo)
17. mystic five - girls get out of the way and let a woman in (cunity)
18. gigi - daddy love (sweet)
19. pearl dowell - good thing (saadia/jazzman reissue)
20. marlena shaw - wade in the water (cadet)

If you're not mixed up enough yet, let me also direct you towards a new mix from another one of my funky soul brethren, Colin Dilnot. My man just celebrated his 1500th post over at In Dangerous Rhythm last week, which is quite a jaw-dropping achievement as far as I'm concerned. Shit...I'm tired after 260. Anyway, Colin also dropped an exclusive mix for Souled On this summer---check it out here.

Stay tuned...I'll be back in just a minute to share some more gems from my collection with you.

Word From Blueprint's Moms:

"Only sick music makes money today." ---Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 - 1900)