At last week’s 45 Session, who should show up but The Beatnuts and Tha Alkaholiks! I knew what had to be done, so I pulled out a few breaks to cut up–strictly 45s!–and let the mic pros get busy. I’d definitely say rocking doubles of the Bill Doggett break for Juju ranks as a highlight for me. Sorry about the video quality here, but you can at least hear what went down.
The song: “Cosmic Ark’”
The producer: X-Clan
The science: When it comes to X-Clan, almost all the discussion is about the group’s breakout debut LP, To the East, Blackwards, with the remaining discussion being focused on septum rings, ankhs, and “sissssiiiiiiiieeeees!” As such, the follow-up album, Xodus, tends to get lost in the mix. On the rare occasion it does get mentioned, it’s usually to talk about the amount of beat biting going on throughout the album. It’s not exactly a false charge: “F.T.P.” straight-up takes Special Ed’s “I Got It Made” beat and adds a few sounds to it, the title track stomps along with D-Nice’s “Call me D-Nice” getting looped up with the “Big Beat” drums locked in, and MC Lyte (“Paper Thin”), LL Cool J (“Big Ol’ Butt”) and Terminator X (“Terminator X Buck Whylin’”) all get jacked on “Holy Rum Swig.”
But don’t let the rampant beat-jacking make you think X-Clan suddenly forgot how to make beats. The first single off the album, “Fire & Earth (100% Natural)” showed real production skills, and the lead-off song on the album, “Cosmic Ark,” is an underappreciated bit of production work that shows real sampling creativity.
I made this mix back in 2009 as a little something for the good folks at The Vapor Room — a fantastic business that, tragically, was forced to close on July 31 due to some ridiculous legal technicalities. Like I say in the scratch intro to this mix, The Vapor Room was a family affair, and that family was not just the VR staff and customers, but the entire Lower Haight neighborhood where it was located. Seldom will you find a business more committed to community service. I made this mix to be something fun for The Vapor Room family; now I’m posting it as a memorial to a great business that will be missed. (There’s also a sequel that I will be posting in the not-too-distant future. Stay tuned!)
M’man and fellow 45 Sessioner E Da Boss hollered at me to do a mix for Grown Kids Radio. How could I say no? So I put together a half hour of funk tunes that sound great when bumped on a nice summer day. Head on over to Grown Kids Radio to listen and/or download!
Here’s the track listing:
Earth, Wind & Fire – “Moment of Truth”
The Joe Tex Band – “Chocolate Cherry”
Bobby Byrd – “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”
Edwin Starr – “Adios Senorita”
The Fatback Band – “Put the Funk on You”
Finished Touch – “Mighty Good Friends”
The Nite-Liters – “Down and Dirty”
Herbie Hancock – “Fat Mama”
Doris – “Don’t”
Honey Cone – “Stick Up”
Rosetta Hightower – “A Little More Line”
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Little Ole Boy, Little Ole Girl”
I gave A Taste of Honey’s classic groove a quick touchup–rearrangement, more drums, more bump. Check it out.
I am beyond excited for this. If you know me, you know that Large Professor is pretty much my hero when it comes to hip-hop, so to get the chance to share a billing with him–spinning all 45s, no less–is an incredible honor for me. This is gonna be serious business, y’all. Do NOT miss out!
Friday, May 25
Mighty (119 Utah St. San Francisco)
Spinning all 45s all night.
Plus: Free BBQ!
This is gonna be great. We’ve got my favorite Bay Area DJ, the one and only DJ B-Cause, coming through for the 45 Sessions this month. B’s got a seriously deep collection and phenomenal skills when it comes to playing them. You really don’t want to miss out on this one.
Friday, April 20
Disco Volante (347 14th St., Oakland)
E Da Boss, DJ Platurn, DJ Enki, and special guest DJ B-Cause spin funk, disco, hip-hop, rock, breaks, boogie, and all sorts of great tunes on nothing but 45s
“EDM is, to me, firmly ensconced in its ‘Arena Rock’ phase — much like in the way that rap music has both feet firmly planted in terrain too similar to the harmless and entertaining yet vapid realm of ’80s hair metal. Yet one must understand that such progression cannot continue without the eventual backlash. The physics law of for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction applies here, and with such vehement corporate co-opting we can all expect to see the rubber band snap back. Rap and dance music both need their 1988 or their 1991, and it will happen.”
-Cosmo Baker, hitting the nail squarely on the head
One from the hard-drive archives: This cut from 2008 was originally meant to be the follow up to “Kung Fu Kwaku,” but somewhere along the line, it got lost in the sauce, and I pretty much forgot about it, except that it occasionally pops up on my iPod. I also made this track in order to take on two technical challenges:
1. Simulate stereo sampling with the SP-1200
2. See if I could freak a bass line to make it do things the original record doesn’t do at all
It was kinda cool to figure those things out as I went along. Hell, I’m not even sure if I could do that bass line again–I’d have to go back to the Pro Tools session and see if I can figure out what I did.
The song: “Build and Destroy’”
The producer: Kenny Parker
The science: For a crew with the word “productions” right there in its name, Boogie Down Productions doesn’t get talked about too much when we get to listing the best producers or the best beats or what have you. That’s understandable when the real driving force of BDP is arguable the greatest rapper of all time, KRS-One, but still, the beats on those BDP albums don’t get talked about too much (save Criminal Minded because of the whole Ced-Gee-jacking-Marley-Marl’s-reel-of-drum-sounds business), which is kind of a shame.
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