Saturday, March 31, 2007
How we feelin', soul children? Hopefully all my peoples are exceptionally fat and happy today...
Before we get things started, I want to give all due respect to Klutch, the man responsible for the title and image of today's post. I've had my eye on his work for some time now, and when I approached him about borrowing one of his images for this post, he was very gracious in granting my request. Klutch creates stencils and graffiti art on a variety of different objects--most notably, vinyl records. I'm linking you to a couple of my favorite pages on his website, but don't stop there. His entire gallery is definitely worth a look...
Biochemical Slang recently offered a generous selection of tracks that could really give you an advantage in the game of love---if you know how to use them, playa. Download songs by Bobby Byrd, Quincy Jones, The Sylvers, The Whatnauts, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Donald Byrd, Willie Hutch, Ike & Tina, The Ohio Players, and Sugar Minott.
The new UGK joint, "International Players Anthem" (feat. Outkast) is available courtesy of Nah Right. Willie Hutch's "I Choose You" is sampled on the track, and you can d/l it via the Biochemical Slang link I posted above. Project Pat's "Choose U" also featured a sample of that particular Hutch tune.
There's a new blog that many of you may want to explore---Flea Market Funk. I don't usually link to blogs in the first few months of their existence, but this one seems to have some decent potential.
Snoop Dogg took the words right out of my mouth: "Fuck Bill O'Reilly".
The most recent Sample Wednesday at Palms Out Sounds featured songs that were sampled by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Download tracks by Joe Tex, Pleasure, Diana Ross, Lowell Fulsom, S.O.S. Band, T-Connection, and more.
Download "If It's Good To You (It's Good For You) Part 1" by Eddie Bo at The Sean Show.
Elvis is no longer King of the Dead Celebrities---check out this list of the richest deceased luminaries.
Visit Oh Word to download a podcast about the making of Rakim's "Shades of Black". This is essential listening for fans of the hip-hop legend.
Speaking of hip-hop legends, did you happen to catch Ice Cube on "Good Morning America"?
Soul/funk fans will want to head over to merry swankster to download some classic tunes by Charles Wright (of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band).
DJ Soul and Okayplayer present Assorted Donuts: A Tribute To J Dilla, available for free (and legal) download here.
Who knew? Karl Rove can't dance worth a shit. This is an embarrassing moment for...humanity.
Flood gets extra-nice with the words, and the verbs, and the pronouns: Check out his super-literate autopsy of "Dangerous Mindz" by Gravediggaz.
A few excellent covers of Isaac Hayes' "Theme From Shaft" are available at this is tomorrow. Download versions by The Chosen Few, Bernard Purdie, Enoch Light & The Light Brigade, and Mack Browne & The Brothers.
Speaking of covers, Adam posted some quality renditions of "Georgia on My Mind" over at hahamusic. Download tracks by Maceo Parker, Ray Charles, James Brown, and Django Reinhardt.
Download JJ Brown's Re-Release Therapy (Ludacris + The Jackson 5) via The Rap Up.
The Stepfather of Soul has a couple of wonderfully eccentric soul tunes currently available for download---"Mama" by Antoinette Poindexter & Pieces of Peace and "Not Too Cool to Cry" by Renaldo Domino.
Freemotion is featuring a few joints from Main Source's debut album, Breaking Atoms.
Download "Cook-Out" by King Curtis & The Kingpins at Fufu Stew, another great site I just recently discovered.
Go to 1-800-Sassbucket.com to cop a nice selection of musical odds and ends, such as Outkast's "So Fresh, So Clean (Let's Get It On B.Cause Remix)" and "Feel The Bass" by Sa-Ra (w/ Talib Kweli).
Visit Feed Me Good Tunes to download "Microphone Fiend" by Eric B & Rakim and "Pinocchio Theory" by Bootsy's Rubber Band.
Farewell to one of the hip-hop blogs I kept in regular rotation---good night Jesus Piece.
Before I go, gratitude to these blogs/sites for recently linking Souled On:
whudat.com---an incredibly extensive hip-hop site, featuring news, articles, reviews, interviews, and more.
The Passion Of The Weiss---Jeff Weiss is one of the wittiest bloggers in the universe. He's also willing to give you ingrates some free music, so what the hell are you waiting for?
soul psychadelicyde---This is another blog in its infancy, but Lily Kane is doin' the right thing so far. She's got great taste in music, and she's a card-carrying member of the Souled On family. I'm counting on you to show her some love.
bronx river parkway---an astonishingly comprehensive aggregator for hip-hop heads, primarily highlighting posts that include mp3s.
good news hood check---another rookie hip-hop blog that seems to be keepin' it gully.
DeeperLook---an insightful music/politics blog, largely focusing on racial issues. An interesting read---check it out...
NetInfoWeb 2.0---a resourceful aggregator of soul, jazz, and blues stuff.
brooklynvegan---a well-established music site with a massive list of audioblog links.
Thanks also to Oh Word, 33 Jones, Idolator, and Melatone Music for keeping me in regular rotation on your round-ups.
I know that I still haven't given props to a lot of you---cuss my sorry ass out at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Word From Your Moms:
"When a thief kisses you, count your teeth."---Yiddish proverb
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
"Im A Good Woman" (Alternate Take)---Barbara Lynn
Barbara Lynn is an exceptional soul artist in every sense of the word. She's not only an astounding vocalist, she's also a songwriter and an excellent left-handed guitarist. In the early years of her career, she won talent shows with her all-female group, Bobbie Lynn and the Idols. Later, she was a backing singer for the Goldband label, but would begin recording her own material after being introduced to producer Huey Meaux (aka the Crazy Cajun). Eventually she would come to work with some of the biggest names in soul music, including The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Carla Thomas, Marvin Gaye, Dionne Warwick, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, Ike & Tina, Jackie Wilson, and James Brown.
Lynn released the original version of "I'm A Good Woman" in 1966, but I don't remember the alternate take surfacing until 1999, when Edsel Records (a UK label) released her Crazy Cajun Recordings LP. The song addresses an unfaithful and unappreciative lover with the palpable strength and conviction that characterized many of her finest recordings. For me, this has always been one of her most spirited, powerful, and heartfelt tracks.
Lynn is a relatively prolific and diverse artist, so I'd recommend digging deeper into her collection. Her discography can be found via The Soul of the Net.
"Holla Real Y'All" ---Tame One
Tame One perplexes my mind. I was impressed by his lyricism when I first heard him flex his skills on The Artifacts' debut LP, Between A Rock And A Hard Place (1994). He had my attention and respect at that point, but ever since, Tame has managed to put my loyalty through some serious stress.
After The Artifacts went their separate ways in 1997, Tame's material began to get increasingly inconsistent. His affiliations with various members of the Eastern Conference and Def Jux rosters spawned efforts which generally haven't lived up to our already-low expectations. While he has occasionally returned to form by releasing a quality joint like "Homage 2 The Bomberz", it can be taxing to extract his best work from the layers of mediocrity that surround it. As a result, hip-hop's notoriously brief attention span has presumably all but obliterated any lasting memories of Tame One.
Enter Tame's new mix CD, The Grudge: Fuck The Industry (Division East Recordings, 2007). It was released last month, but I didn't give it a whole lot of thought until one of my friends sent me a copy last week. I haven't listened to it enough yet to write a just review, but some of the hit and miss elements are already apparent. I'm not sure why he's been so intent on comparing himself to Kurt Cobain lately, but it's eerie...disturbing, even. That analogy pops up a bit too often for my taste, as does prepubescent humor and a few too many lackluster beats.
However, there are some exceptions to my overall disappointment, such as "Holla Real Y'All". Tame's lyrics on the joint may not constitute a masterpiece, but he still runs crazy circles around MCs who get a lot more press than he does. Besides, Shape's lazy beat has this jazzy, mellow vibe that's nice enough to carry most of the track's weight on its very own.
I can't promise that you'll like it, but what the hell? At least give it a try...At the rate we're going, this CD might end up higher on this year's best-of list than you might think.
"You've Got To Change Your Mind"---Bobby Byrd and James Brown
Although it may be apparent that James Brown had more star power, it's important not to underestimate the role that Bobby Byrd played in building the Godfather's legacy. Byrd and Brown formed an alliance in their youth when they met at a juvenile detention facility. When Brown got released, he stayed with the Byrd family, and began working with Bobby's group, The Avons (also known as The Gospel Starlites). The Avons eventually became The Flames, and then The Famous Flames. Although JB ultimately moved to the forefront, Byrd remained a vital part of James Brown's "revue crew", and has enjoyed a relatively prolific solo career as well.
Since James Brown had a major influence over the production and arrangements of Byrd's solo tracks in the '60s and '70s, critics sometimes took issue with his material for lacking adequate distinction from the signature JB sound. That said, many of Byrd's recordings were phenomenal in their own right, and pleasing to just about anyone who can get down with James Brown. "You've Got To Change Your Mind" is a sweet, soulful duet that sheds light on the amazing synergy that was created when these two men collaborated.
If you're interested in checking out more of Byrd's material, you may want to start with Bobby Byrd Got Soul: The Best Of Bobby Byrd. It's the most complete collection of his work that I know of, and sample seekers will lose their minds trying to place all of the breaks that have been lifted from this collection of grooves. View Bobby Byrd's complete discography here.
"Vanilla Fudge"----Ebony Rhythm Band
Ebony Rhythm Band was the house band for Indianapolis, Indiana's LAMP Records in the late '60s and early '70s. They provided some excellent backing tracks for many of the funk and soul groups who were on the label at that time, but failed to achieve much recognition on their own. They released only one single during that time---"Soul Heart Transplant"/"Drugs Ain't Cool". The other material they had recorded became obsolete after the group disbanded, and the "Soul Heart Transplant" 45 became somewhat of a sought-after gem.
In 2004, Now-Again Records (a division of Stones Throw) finally released these recordings on Soul Heart Transplant: The LAMP Sessions LP. "Vanilla Fudge" is just one of many worthwhile tracks on the album. I chose it to counterbalance the impression that they were exclusively a heavy funk outfit. In truth, their music is too diverse to pin down to any single genre. The sounds they created are an aural collision of soul, funk, jazz, psychedelic rock...and the kitchen sink .
"Vanilla Fudge" is slower and more---trippy?---than some of their other songs, but it showcases their diversity rather well. Furthermore, it makes some sense of what their drummer, Matthew "Phatback" Watson has said about the group: "We weren't scared to do rock. We were the first black hippies. We had bell bottoms on, and big hats". That, soul children, explains everything you should need to know...
"Make Or Take"---Nine ft. Smoothe Da Hustler
The fact that this joint has been around for a decade really makes me feel old, but I can't dwell on that point right now or it might seriously fuck up my flow...
Anyway, Cloud Nine was released in 1996, and was easily one of my favorite hip-hop records that year. Why Nine didn't go on to become one of the greatest rappers alive is still one of life's great mysteries. He showed supreme potential on this album and its predecessor (Nine Lives, 1995), but excluding guest appearances, I think he pretty much disappeared after this record dropped. I copped the B-Sides & Unreleased stuff the second I discovered it, but I haven't come across anything since. If there have been any recent sightings, hopefully Travis, Dan, Vik, or Jaz can enlighten us. I'd rather do the whole needle-in-a-haystack thing than search for "Nine" on the internet...forgive me.
On "Make Or Take", Nine explores the frustrations of racism and economic disadvantage, and relates how situations in life can drive you to do-or-die to get your little piece of the pie. Both he and Da Hustler more than hold their own on the mic, delivering some relatively elevated wordplay without ever losing their flow. Their collaboration resulted in one of the dopest tracks that Nine ever recorded.
So...if you've never heard this joint before, consider today your birthday and shit. And just in case it's your mama's birthday, too---here's the video.
Word From Your Moms:
"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."---Vincent van Gogh
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
"Multitude"---Chief Xcel (of Blackalicious)
Chief Xcel is one-half of the hip-hop duo Blackalicious (along with Gift Of Gab), and has also been a longtime member of the Solesides/Quannum collective (w/ DJ Shadow, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Lyrics Born, etc.). In addition to his other projects such as Lateef and the Chief and The Maroons, he also helmed The Underground Spiritual Game LP, a compilation of Fela Kuti tracks that he selected and mixed.
While he's also a gifted lyricist, I tend to seek out his records on the strength of his production skills more than anything else. Xcel is a first-rate crate digger and vinyl collector, which enhances his ability to create some truly stunning collages of sound. "Multitude" (from the 2002 Astralwerks compilation, Constant Elevation) is an exceptional instrumental joint that should easily convince you of his skills.
"Make Me Believe In You"---Curtis Mayfield
I realize that Mayfield's Sweet Exorcist LP (Curtom, 1974) isn't nearly as celebrated as some of his other recordings, but it does happen to be the first record of his that I owned. I got a scratchy copy for 99 cents from a garage sale when I was a kid, and it has been a part of the soundtrack to my life ever since. I still know every pop, hiss, and skip in that album like the back of my own hand.
When I was thinking about which song I wanted to post from the LP, I decided to choose the song that I wore out the most. I did some damage to "Kung Fu", "Power To The People", "Suffer" and "Ain't Got Time", but it's obvious that "Make Me Believe In You" has been the easiest groove for me to fall into over the years. It's laidback soul vibe is blended so effortlessly with a tinge of funk that this track undoubtedly helped to bridge my appreciation for both genres.
I originally planned on ripping the track from my beloved broke-ass record, but then I realized that some of you might actually want to hear the song, so I copped a more listenable version. Enjoy...
"Love Is For Fools"---Southside Movement
I originally sought out Southside Movement's Moving South LP (1975) in search of the breakbeat gem, "I've Been Watching You". Upon first listen, the album didn't make much of an impression, and I thought of it as a collection essential more than a record I would actually want to listen to on a regular basis.
Fortunately, I've learned to revisit LPs that I have lukewarm feelings about initially, because sometimes these dishes are best served cold, if ya know what I mean. I finally pulled this off the shelf a few weeks ago, and I haven't stopped listening to this track ever since. The rhythmic horn blasts, funky guitar, soulful singing and stepping basslines culminate in an incredible sound that makes this tune a certified leftover classic.
"Up Above The Rock"---Ray Bryant
Ray Bryant is a respected jazz pianist and composer who started playing with the house band at the Blue Note club in Philadelphia in 1953. During that time and in the years to follow, Bryant accompanied many musicians and vocalists of the highest grade, including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Betty Carter, Charlie Parker, Milt Jackson, Carmen McCrae, and Roy Eldridge.
This particular track is from the LP of the same name (1968), and is an indisputable jazz masterpiece. The song starts off with an amazing drum break, but if you stop there, you'll miss out on the rest of what this superior groove has to offer. Triumphant, powerful, and uplifting...
"Sweetback's Theme"---Melvin Van Peebles
Most people associate Melvin Van Peebles with his legacy in film, but his contribution to music is equally important. Many of his records tend towards the bizarre, and possibly even the insane, but there's no questioning that they're also innovative, groundbreaking and unique.
"Sweetback's Theme" is from the Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song LP, the soundtrack to a film which is often credited with starting the blaxploitation genre. As legend would have it, Van Peebles scored the entire album himself because he couldn't afford to hire a composer. This was probably somewhat of a difficult task, considering that he couldn't read or write music. His secretary just so happened to be dating a member of a then-unknown group of starving artists called Earth, Wind, & Fire, who ended up performing all of the music. The record was released on Stax and enjoyed some commercial success that helped to promote the film.
If you haven't actually seen the movie, you'll have to check it out for yourself. I have mixed emotions about its overall quality and message, but I recommend seeing it at least once. If nothing else, the entertaining backstory made me interested in watching the film itself. For example, I've read that Van Peebles performed so many sex scenes for the film that he ended up contracting gonorrhea. He successfully appealed to the guild to get compensation for being "hurt on the job", and wound up using the funds to buy more film. Now, if that doesn't pique your interest, what will?
Van Peebles continues to have an influence on contemporary artists and musicians, and Madlib alone has sampled a countless number of his recordings. Check out his bio and discography here, while more information about the film can be found here.
"Livin' In The Jungle"---Schoolly D
Schoolly D gets much respect for his obvious influence on the evolution of hip-hop, but he is certainly not without his detractors. Due to the fact that he's credited with being one of the early pioneers of gangsta rap, many have accused him of tainting the art form with anger, violence, and misogyny. I'm not here to argue that point one way or another, but I think it's important to take on a broader perspective of his career than to merely mention his status as O.G.
For example, on many of Schoolly's LPs, he explored meaningful social themes, such as racial and political inequality, police brutality, and poverty in the black community. His conviction is somehow admirable, even when you don't agree with what he says, or how he says it. He was willing to battle with anyone and anything---crooked white people, the NAACP, and social injustices be damned. He said whatever the fuck he wanted to without the strength of a posse, crew, or unit to back him up, before the blueprint/formula for this sort of rebellion had been as specifically mapped out as it is today. I guess what I'm saying, soul children, is that Schoolly is not only relevant, he makes a lot of today's MCs sound like whiny little girls.
Don't try clownin' him about Aqua Teen Hunger Force, either. Schoolly was mad thugged out in the eighties, no matter what you say ...
Anyway, "Livin' In The Jungle" is one of my favorite joints from his "Afrocentric period". It appeared on his Am I Black Enough For You? LP (Jive, 1989). More schoolin' on Schoolly here.
Word From Your Moms:
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need."---Khalil Gibran
Friday, March 16, 2007
To put it bluntly, I was kind enough to weed through some recent happenings on the internet so that I might chronicle the highlights for my peoples. Don't let the grass grow under your feet, soul children. I promise you---the stash is extra-dope this time:
Smoke one for this---Devin The Dude, Snoop Dogg, and Andre 3000 have blessed us with one of the few quality hip-hop joints to emerge so far in '07. Download "What A Job" courtesy of Palms Out Sounds.
If you're diggin' soul, hip-hop, jazz, and/or funk, an acquaintance with The Blackbyrds is essential. There's an excellent post about them at los amigos de durutti, including a brief sampling history and few mp3s.
Download "Cleo's Back" by Jr. Walker & The All Stars at Jesse Jarnow's Frank and Earthy Blog.
As many of you know, the 10th anniversary of Biggie's death was on March 9th. Be sure to drop by Biochemical Slang to d/l a nice selection of original songs that were sampled on some of B.I.G.'s records. Also, if you haven't had a chance to cop Mick Boogie's Unbelievable: A Tribute To Biggie Smalls, you can get your download on at The Rap Up.
While you're at The Rap Up, you might also want to check out this post, featuring both versions of Snoop's track "Boss' Life".
Just in case our votes are actually going to count in '08, you can educate yourself about most of the presidential candidates at ExpertVoter.org.
As you may have heard, RJD2 sings on most of the tracks on his latest LP, The Third Hand. Being a Deadringer enthusiast makes it all too easy for me to dislike this record, but don't hate it on my account. Thoughts on the album, as well as some mp3s, can be found at The Passion of the Weiss and all up in your earhole.
There is an excellent write-up about Weldon Irvine at Audiversity, and his song "Watergate" is included in the post. If that leaves you wanting for more, you can d/l "Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk" by way of Dilated Choonz.
"Woman To Woman" by Shirley Brown is also available at The Choonz via this post.
You can download some nice cover versions by newer funk artists at this is tomorrow. Leftie's Soul Connection's take on DJ Shadow's "Organ Donor" is jaw-dropping if you haven't heard it yet, but Breakout's version of "Planet Rock" is my favorite discovery this week. Thanks, Mike...
For all of your deep questions on existence and truth, you may want to consult AskPhilosophers.org. You can pose whatever questions you are currently pondering about the universe, and a philosopher will answer you. This is some magical shit, children...I have some big questions to ask these people, too---such as: If a schizophrenic person threatened to commit suicide, would that constitute a hostage situation? Does killing time damage eternity? If a cow laughs really hard, will milk come out of its nose? If Wal-Mart is "lowering prices every day", shouldn't we be getting some free shit by now??? Just sayin'...Maybe I've inhaled enough for now...
Laura Lee fans rejoice---Colin Dilnot has an incredible blog "dedicated to the lady of soul music".
I've been a little bit lazy about featuring artists lately, but I'll get back on my grind. Meanwhile, appreciate the immense talent behind Chris Stain's political graffiti.
Speaking of graf art, Adam took some great photographs at 5 Pointz, and incorporated them into a post that includes tracks by Aretha Franklin, Robert Johnson, A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, Biggie, Bob Marley, and Gnarls Barkley. More images from 5 Pointz can be viewed via this photoset on Flickr.
Cop a few remixes of joints by The Pharcyde courtesy of Get downnn.
The remix madness doesn't end there, either---Bird Peterson's mix of "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit" is available at MissingToof.com, while joints from the second volume of Ratatat remixes can be found at Music For Robots and fluo kids.
Visit From Da Bricks to find out why Dan says "Pete's Jazz" by Pete Rock is one of the reasons he loves hip-hop.
Two classic Candi Staton tracks are currently available at Feel It. Download "Darling You're All That I Had" and her version of "In The Ghetto".
Moistworks is featuring "Bring It On Home To Me" by Sam Cooke and "What Did I Do Wrong?" by Betty Harris.
Finally, Travis is so focused at this point that he's in the process of making internet history over at Wake Your Daughter Up. He's far too laidback to be doing this intentionally, but he's officially put the rest of us weak-ass bloggers on notice. Dammmnnn...
I wanted to thank a few sites for the link props, but my mom is already kinda pissed because it's way past my bedtime. I'll get you next time, though---I promise.
Word From Your Moms:
"Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here, and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?"---Willie Nelson
Sunday, March 11, 2007
"What's Wrong With Groovin'?"---Letta Mbulu
I once read a review of this legendary jazz/soul/latin groove track that said it "floats like a butterfly, but stings like a bee." Once you've listened to the song, that description will likely ring true for you as well. On the one hand, this record is subtle, delicate, and deeply affecting---on the other, it's mighty, potent, and incredibly charismatic.
I've read differing accounts as to when the track was originally recorded, but it seems to have surfaced in the late '60s or early '70s. Some of the confusion may be due to the fact that the record wallowed in relative obscurity for quite some time, sought after by only the most diligent of crate-digging audiophiles. It wasn't until Giles Peterson resurrected the track on Journeys By DJ: Desert Island Mix (2002) that a renewed interest in the song was piqued. Additionally, Jazzman Records has helped to give the recording some buzz in recent years by releasing it as a side on one of their 7" singles.
On a biographical note, Mbulu was born and raised in South Africa, but she moved to the United States in 1965. Throughout the years of her recording career, she's worked with a roster of talented artists, including Miriam Makeba, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, David Axelrod, Cannonball Adderly, Hugh Maselka, and Michael Jackson. More pertinent information about her life and legacy is available here.
The Nite-Liters, a funky instrumental combo founded by Harvey Fuqua and Tony Churchill, joined forces in 1963. While they only had one major hit ("K-Jee"), the undeniable quality of their rhythmic groove offerings puts them on par with heavyweights such as The JBs and The Meters. In addition to the fine records these guys released under this name, they later merged with a variety of other musicians and vocalists to form the ensemble known as New Birth, Inc.
The hard breaks and deep-funk sound of their recordings has made the group's material especially popular with DJs and producers. As just one example, Dr. Dre utilized "Damn" on "Lyrical Gangbang" from his monumental LP, The Chronic. This track should offer sufficient evidence that you really ought to get familiar.
"Jazzy Belle (Mr Hood remix)"---Outkast
I tried very hard not to hate on Idlewild because I don't like being the sort of music lover who criticizes artists for refusing to make the same damn record over and over again. That said, their most recent release was definitely missing something that I used to love about Outkast---the sci-fi funk and spacy soundscapes which made Atliens one of the most interesting albums to drop in 1996.
Atliens is undoubtedly praiseworthy on the strength of its freshness and originality alone. Andre 3000 and Big Boi brought us a unique flavor of rhyme schemes and rap themes which broke new ground in the further exploration of hip-hop. As for the beats, they blessed the recording with a near-perfect blend of smooth, funky, and laidback tones. "Jazzy Belle" is one of many tracks on the album that exemplifies this sound.
Since most heads have already been exposed to this stellar joint, I decided to post a remix instead of the original version. I don't think much of anything could surpass the initial track in terms of quality, but this mix adds a different dimension to the song, offering a new spin on an old favorite.
"Jazz Music"---Gang Starr
One of the stereotypes about hip-hop culture that I would most like to see abolished is the notion that MCs and DJs just steal goods from their musical predecessors without appreciation or compensation. Apparently we have some geniuses out there who've overlooked the fact that this sort of thievery has taken place throughout music history as a whole, crossing over into every imaginable genre and style. It isn't really fair to focus specifically on hip-hop for its tendency to borrow, recycle, regenerate, and recreate. All music evolves out of other music in one way or another---if you don't know that, you're a fuckin' idiot.
Furthermore, to be fair, you have to admit that there are infinite examples of hip-hop artists paying respect to the architects by offering dedications, tributes, and shouts to their musical heroes and ancestors. Since neither one of us wants this to turn into a lengthy dissertation, I'm going to offer a single illustration of my point---"Jazz Music" by Gang Starr.
"Jazz Music" appeared on No More Mr Nice Guy (1989), Guru and DJ Premier's debut LP. The joint pays much respect to jazz greats as a whole, such as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Count Basie, and several others. One sample line explains the persistent relevance of the art form. "Yo, the music that Pops, and other cats made/it stayed, cause people love when they played." But perhaps there is no greater tribute than the memorable line at the end of the track: "They gave it to us, that's why we give it to you.
"Jazz Music" contains a sample of "Les Fleurs" by Ramsey Lewis. Let's just hope he was properly compensated for his input...
"That's All Right With Me"---Esther Phillips
Soul and R&B fans are undoubtedly familiar with the archetype of the long-suffering and victimized female. She'd just love to make her man breakfast and a hot cup of coffee, even though his cheatin' ass was with some stupid whore last night...and she knows it. She's gonna stand by her man, though---no matter how crooked his stance may be...
While I don't particularly like to hear women sing of themselves in such a derogatory and self-deprecating manner, there are still some unforgettable gems which happen to fall into this unfortunate category.
"That's All Right With Me" is a prime example of a song in this vein that's worth listening to, despite the infuriatingly submissive role that Phillips plays on the track. Don't get me wrong---love is all about compromise, and that's a beautiful thing. I just think it's kinda over-the-top to say: "If you want to make me your slave, that's all right with me." Screw that, soul children...
Despite my resistance on this solitary issue, Esther Phillips ranks as one of the finest female soul vocalists of all time. "That's All Right With Me" appears alongside her heart-wrenching cover of "Home Is Where The Hatred Is" on her 1972 LP, From A Whisper To A Scream. It's a bittersweet song, with emotions ranging from spirited hopefulness to utter despair. It's such a lovely track that Q-Tip sampled the record for Mobb Deep's "Give Up The Goods (Just Step)" (from The Infamous LP).
"It is the nature of the wise to resist pleasures, but the foolish to be a slave to them."---Epictetus
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
"Are You Doing Me Wrong?" ---Laura Lee
Laura Lee Newton was born in Chicago in 1945, but her music career began in Detroit, where she spent the majority of her childhood years. Her adoptive mother was in a gospel outfit called The Meditation Singers, and Lee's musical legacy began when she started performing with the group in her adolescent years. In 1958, they released Amen, a full-length LP featuring Della Reese as the lead vocalist.
Lee's solo debut was also her first secular recording---a song called "To Win Your Heart", released on Ric-Tic in 1966. The following year, she signed a deal with Chess Records, and began recording material at the legendary FAME Studios in Alabama. It was there that she recorded the bulk of her most outstanding work, a collection of deep-soul cuts that simply cannot be denied.
By 1970, Lee had moved to Holland-Dozier-Holland's Hot Wax Label, and was generating somewhat funkier material with a distinctly feminist edge. Unfortunately, some of her most well-known anthems from this period, such as "Wedlock Is A Padlock", were often met with a degree of ambivalence. Some listeners took her a bit too seriously, and were put off by what they perceived as militance on her part. Others failed to see any relevance in these records, too easily dismissing them as a novelty or gimmick. Either way, it seems that at some point, her material began to overshadow her enormous talent.
I actually can get down with most of her "sisterhood is powerful" jams, but I decided to put the spotlight on a record that strikes me as the best of both worlds. "Are You Doing Me Wrong" is one of the soul gems that she recorded for Chess, but it certainly gives you a hint of just how proud and sassy Ms. Lee could truly be.
If you are interested in acquiring more info, by all means---educate yourself...
"Sugar Lee"---Donny Hathaway
"Sugar Lee" is one of the most lively and enjoyable tracks that Donny Hathaway ever recorded. It's primarily an instrumental groove, but you can hear some playful chatter and organic hand clapping in the background. Although I have nothing but reverence for Hathaway's heartfelt ballads and social commentary pieces, it's still refreshing to hear him cut loose a little bit on this energetic jam session.
"Sugar Lee" appeared on Hathaway's debut LP, Everything Is Everything (1970). A complete discography, along with some biographical info, can be found via soulwalking.
"One Love (Curbside Prophet remix)" ---Nas
As all hip-hop fanatics know, Nas' Illmatic LP (1994) is considered a classic by...just about everyone. At the very minimum, most heads are willing to admit that this is the record that put Nasir Jones on the map, and helped to author his page in the book of the greatest MCs of all time. He achieved this by crafting his own brand of street poetry on the album, utilizing superior verbal skills and exceptional wordplay to his supreme lyrical advantage.
"One Love", a joint that was originally produced by Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest, offers a prime example of the incredible storytelling abilities Nas showcased on the LP. The Curbside Prophet remix isn't necessarily better than the original version, but it does speak volumes about the versatility and timelessness of Nas' lyrics from this period of his career. Even if hip-hop is dead, at least we still have some very good memories...
"Les Copaines De La Basse"---Guy Pederson
Fortunately for you, I don't know enough about this record (or this Guy) to ramble on about it for very long. I do know that Guy Pederson was an extraordinary session bass player, and that he appeared in the 1961 film Paris Blues. However, that's pretty much the extent of my wisdom on the subject.
I don't make it a habit to feature artists/songs that I know absolutely nothing about, but trust me...this track is worth putting my ignorance fully on display. It's an instrumental groove of extraordinary quality, which is to say...it kicks ass. Not sharing this with you seemed completely immoral.
Anyway, if you happen to know anything about this record, please be kind enough to school the rest of us...
"No Delayin'"---Nice & Smooth
This joint is from Nice & Smooth's self-titled debut album (1989), an underappreciated hip-hop LP that was released on Sleeping Bag Records. For whatever reason, many people (including VH1) seem to think that the group's first record was Ain't A Damn Thing Changed (1991). I consider that unfortunate, because there are actually quite a few gems on their authentic debut.
However, you definitely can't approach this duo with a thug's mentality. These guys have no problem getting silly, whimsical, and downright bouncy with it---but I'll be damned if they ain't got skills...
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Time for yet another round of Scholar Says...
Visit 33 Jones to cop a couple of joints from Redman's new mixtape, Live From The Bricks. Hopefully these tracks will get your mind right for the first full-length LP that the good Funk Doctor has blessed us with since Malpractice dropped in 2001. Red Gone Wild: Thee Album is scheduled for release on 3/27/07. We'll see if Def Jam brings it...
Get On Down With The Stepfather Of Soul, and download an amazing tune by Gloria Walker---"Walking With My New Love".
If a slice of psychedelic funk sounds appealing right now, head over to Dilated Choonz to acquire "Big John Is My Name" by The Undisputed Truth.
Cop the instrumental version of "The PJs" (Pete Rock w/ Raekwon & Masta Killa) via the almighty Spliff Huxtable.
Check out this interview with Noam Chomsky, in which he clearly articulates "why Bush does diplomacy Mafia-style."
Visit Headphones On to download "Melting Pot" by Booker T & The MG's and "Hold On! I'm A Comin'!" by Sam & Dave.
Speaking of Booker T, "Soul Sanction" is currently available by way of Some Velvet Blog. Also included in the post are songs by Eddie Floyd and Isaac Hayes.
I would have included links to individual posts, but Black History Month was absolute madness over at Biochemical Slang. Go kick it with Vik if you wanna get an education, and cop some superior tracks by Stevie Wonder, Tupac, The Chi-Lites, The Clipse, Curtis Mayfield, Bob James, Bill Withers, Betty Davis, Ann Peebles, Millie Jackson, Ice Cube, and more. This spot is so thorough, it makes me seriously consider laying Souled On to rest...
I talked about this quite a while ago, but my readership has just about tripled since then---check out Blue Note: Over 1000 Great Jazz Album Covers.
Those with more eccentric/eclectic taste in album cover art may want to take a walk through Frank's Vinyl Museum.
Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and Def Jux have joined forces to give us an album for free and legal download. Cop Definitive Swim here, featuring tracks by Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, Cannibal Ox, El-P, Cool Calm Pete, and more. Not as cool as Chrome Children 2, but hey---still worth every penny. You figure it out...
Visit The Revolution Will Not Be Televised to download mp3s by J Dilla, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Black Milk, and more.
O-Dub recently posted a rare soul gem by Donny Hathaway over at soul sides---"Lord Help Me". Much respect to my reader Debs, who brought this to my attention right away...
Before leaving soul sides, make sure you hit up those two Masta Ace joints from Grand Masta: The Remix And Rarity Collection.
Visit Martini & Jopparelli's Music Selections to download "It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, as well as the original songs they sampled on the cut---"Think" (Lyn Collins) and "Space Dust" (The Galactic Force Band).
Sample seekers will also love this post at 1-800-SASSBUCKET, featuring the original tracks sampled on "Black Republicans" (Nas/Jay-Z) and "Why U Wanna" (T.I.).
More outstanding sample sources can be found at this is tomorrow, where you can d/l songs by The Jackson 5, Lonnie Youngblood, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Southside Movement.
Peace to mangare, a blog that was gracious enough to link Souled On not once, but twice.
Further gratitude is extended to the Love Unlimited sound system for giving up some of their "music blog love".
Until next time, soul children...be easy like Sunday mornin', and all that good shit...
Word From Your Moms:
"I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers."---Khalil Gibran