What up, soul kids?!
It's a scorcher on the block where my shell-toe Adidas hit the street~ all the freaks and geeks who've been hiding in their houses these past few months are live and in full effect this afternoon. The sun is casting its glorious, cosmic rays onto the golden grill of Buck-Toothed Bobby; Jack-Ass Jimmy is holdin' down the corner where he religiously shakes down the locals for spare change; and Loretta the Loudmouth is hollerin' some unintelligible nonsense as she throws all her dude's shit onto the lawn in a fit of not-so-temporary insanity. Like an earthbound butterfly bursting out of its concrete cocoon, this is how things typically unfold when the funky citizens of my hometown begin to collectively celebrate their reverence for the sun. The ultra-colorful scenery is perhaps best described as a twilight zone of dysfunction, but still...you can't help but love the many splendors of spring!
My original intention was to upload a handful of soul ballads/slow jams today, but the atmosphere in my neighborhood completely rearranged my vibe. I decided to go with some tracks that you can at least snap your neck to...my guess is that most of us have a little bit of baby fat to work off this time of the year anyway. Holla if you hear me, Sizable Stan!
Peace, my dearly beloveds...
"Fair Skin Man"---The Afro-American Ensemble (LimeLinx)
"Fair Skin Man"---The Afro-American Ensemble (YSI)
*"Fair Skin Man" is a killer funk joint that made an everlasting impression on me the very first time I heard it. It took me a while to gather some facts about its history, but it was worth every ounce of effort as there's a really interesting story behind the song.
"Fair Skin Man" was first released as one of a few singles issued by a loose collective of Philly musicians recording under the alias of The Broad Street Gang. After achieving a degree of success on the R&B charts, some of the key players subsequently became involved in the recording of a "black rock opera" called Free The Black Man's Chains. Mitchell Rowe, the project's producer/arranger, claims that Ray Charles & The Raelettes, Daryl Hall, and Bobby Eli (founding member of MFSB) were all in attendance during the recording sessions, but none of them appear to be officially credited for their input. The Broad Street Gang's material was revisited for the ambitious project, and several new cuts were also recorded to round out the composition of the album (GSF,1972).
The underlying tale of the soul/gospel/funk opera surrounds the story of Julian Green, a man whose struggles with racism are examined in both a personal and socio-political context. The content stems from a conversation Green has with his son, who has returned from school asking his father some heavy-ass questions about slavery. Green relates the experience of moving north from the slums of Macon, Georgia to what he believed to be the Promised Land. When he arrived, his struggles with poverty persisted, but he greatly altered the course of his destiny by devoting himself to receiving an education. Having specialized in law during his collegiate years, Green utilized his knowledge and hard-won status to uplift people living in impoverished neighborhoods. Writing grants to build homes, establish schools, and found recreation/rehabilitation centers, he ultimately became a prominent figure in the black community. This led to him winning a seat in Congress, and finally, Green becomes the first African-American president of the United States. There are obviously some elements of this fictitious tale which now ring true, making this project as prophetic as it is brilliant.
A final word for all my crate diggers in the house~ if you run across this on vinyl in your lifetime, I can assure you there's no sane reason to deliberate. Snatch that sucka up with a sense of urgency...and tell 'em Scholar sent you!
"Vibration"---IV the Polymath (LimeLinx)
"Vibration"---IV the Polymath (YSI)
*The instrumentals on IV the Polymath's Never Sleep II were all created between the hours of midnight and 6 am. As a fellow insomniac, I can assure you that's when things get really funky. This Brooklyn native has an infectious sound that becomes more addictive with each successive listen, so I'd definitely encourage you to check into the sonic output of this "one-man musical energy". With the exception of the aforementioned release, his projects can be copped for free via his MySpace page.
"Taxi"--Ski Beatz ft. Mos Def/Whosane (LimeLinx)
"Taxi"--Ski Beatz ft. Mos Def/Whosane (YSI)
The snippet for this joint was released in November of last year, and if I'm lyin', I'm dyin'...it literally felt like an eternity before the full version hit the internets in mid-March.
David Willis (aka Ski Beatz) has enjoyed a rather industrious career in hip hop, beginning with his involvement in Original Flavor and The Bizzie Boyz during the 1980s. Going on to produce insane beats for the likes of Jay-Z and Camp Lo, Ski established a reputation for being one of the most talented, yet criminally under-appreciated, beatsmiths in the game. After spending a few years in his hometown of Greensboro, NC, he headed back to NYC to pursue new business ventures and further cement his legacy by releasing some of his finest production work to date. Many tracks from his upcoming 24 Hour Karate School mixtape (including "Taxi") have leaked onto the internets, and for the most part the reception has been exceedingly positive.
A bit of controversy about "Taxi" was sparked when Smiley The Ghetto Child claimed that he built this track with Ski for his joint "Love And Hate". I can't imagine that the two sides of the story on this will ever be reconciled, but meanwhile, there's no denying that Mos Def put a killing on this beat. Without a doubt, the music industry is hella grimy, but...sorry, man...this track still turned out to be all kinds of lovely.
If you watch TV as infrequently as I do, you may never have seen this...
"New York Is Killing Me (Remix)"---Gil Scott-Heron ft. Nas (LimeLinx)
"New York Is Killing Me (Remix)"---Gil Scott-Heron ft. Nas (YSI)
I don't know about you, but I'm still madly in love with Gil Scott-Heron's latest album, I'm New Here. I've already far exceeded my intended word count for this post, so I can only hope you've been around here long enough to realize that I have nothing but the utmost reverence for the songwriter/griot/poet/godfather of rap/vocalist/the black Bob Dylan/musician/author that is the almighty GSH. Anyone who knows the hardships this man has endured with cocaine abuse and prison stints in the past decade should understand why we expected to spot him in an alley next to a trap house waaaaaaay before the new release rack at Best Buy. Due in some part to my dismay, I actually paid hard-earned money for this LP...and you should, too. As long as I don't find out that dude blew all the proceeds on crack, Gil and I will be cool people until death do us part.
I have ambivalent feelings about this remix with Nas, but I know that many of you will definitely be down with it. I personally wish that Nasir had come slightly harder with his verses, but all things considered, this joint is still pretty hot. Shout out to Spine Magazine for the blessing.
A couple of GSH videos to promote I'm New Here:
Word From Your Moms:
“When the water starts boiling it is foolish to turn off the heat.”---Nelson Mandela