This is Jay- Z on one of my first beats. I still really feel this one. I don’t remember what that vocal sample is though.
Sometimes two records were meant to meet each other. This Big L Flamboyant instrumental and NORE a cappella melded together this morning. What I really love is how the beat totally changes the feel of the Nore track. The original is so rugged, but this smooths it out, creating a whole different vibe. Oh yeah, just for fun I added “It’s funky enough” by the DOC to the end. When you play with music, you never know what new creations will enter the universe.
Hope you all enjoy.
Books, Beats and other Treats.
Book- Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah took over for Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show in 2017. Noah was replacing a beloved giant of comedy. The Daily Show and Jon Stewart pretty much invented the news satire show, and the list of accolades was extensive. Stewart is a legend, and was ingenious on The Daily Show for decades, so Noah had huge shoes to fill. I think he has been doing an amazing job. Not only with the Daily Show, but his stand up specials are smart, funny and relatable. His books are hilarious, full of history and thought provoking stories that will force you to re tell them to your friends.
Recently a friend gave me Trevor Noah’s memoir “Born a Crime” The title refers to the fact that interracial marriage and Interracial sex were both illegal in South Africa when he was growing up. His Mother is South African, and his father is Swedish, so his very existence as a human was illegal. With this illegality as the foundation Noah tells the story of a “Colored” kid growing up under the vicious rule of apartheid.
If you like learning and understanding cultures, read this book. The stories are both vivid, and dark, fun and horrifying. I learned so much about the true structure of South Africa before and after Apartheid, and how it really wasn’t too much different from these here United States.
His relationship with his mother and the comedic delivery he offers when telling their stories is priceless. I mean I was laughing out loud a lot. From family issues, to dating, to burning peoples homes down, to being a DJ with a dancer named HITLER, and of course being a child of mixed race in a country where that was completely unacceptable. He touches all these topics with a grace and humor that transforms the disgusting (racism under apartheid) into a delightful experience.
I really respected the fact that he did not write at all about his current success, it’s story of childhood, and in my opinion how that childhood lays a foundation for the person you will be come. The trials of his childhood in South Africa are what lead to his success. Read it! Or listen to the audio book (Hearing him read and tell the stories with a professional comedic delivery will be awesome).
Beats- Anderson Paak – Ventura
Anderson Paak has been putting out high quality music for a minute now, as a solo artist and one half of NXWorries. Paak and his band the Free Nationals are true musicians, who create a dynamic level of timbre with their instrumentation. It is just so full of color and texture, not something you hear very often in new music.
I have enjoyed all of his albums from O.B E. Vol I as (Breezy Lovejoy) , to Malibu, Venice and Oxnard, but Ventura …….man its my shizzzzz for real. I can let the whole album run, no skipping, and play it over and over again. It just suits my ears.
I love this music because it encompasses so many styles I love. it’s soul music with boom bap drums, Jazz harmony and Motown arrangements. It’s Gospel feeling, and blues story telling all wrapped up into a super fresh modern sound. I highly recommend his entire discography but VENTURA…. YES , pick it up, pick it up (Redman) It’s worth buying the whole album.
Of Mics and Men– Wu Tang Documentary directed by Sacha Jenkins (Mass Appeal)
“The game of chess is like a sword fight, you must think first before you move” This quote from Enter the 36 Chambers perfectly sums up what The RZA and the Wu Tang Clan have done since 1993. Putting real thought and effort into creating timeless music, and then playing the business strategy the right way.
Raekwon said they didn’t get into rapping just to get in and get out. They were about longevity, and taking care of their families for generations. They succeeded, Wu- Tang is timeless and for the children. Wu Tang feeds families and it feeds souls. Not only were they a foundational group of my youth, but they continue to be relevant and shine for Hip Hop culture in 2019.
This is a great documentary series filled with Beats and Bars, but more importantly…. Humanity. Where Sacha Jenkins and the Mass Appeal team succeeded was in showing that the Wu- Tang clan is made up of 9 MEN. 9 MEN who are talented rappers and producers yes, but men who have lived through the struggle of being black in America. 9 MEN who have stepped over the odds to become one of the most well known musical acts in the world. 9 MEN who have used lessons from past to make better decisions today. 9 who men who brought the RUCKUS and never let the PUBLICiTY take away from their TRIUMPH. Of Mics and Men is featured on Showtime right now. Check it out.
This is a mix of new Hip Hop with 90’s sensibilities. I have heard so many people say “There is no more good Hip Hop” Yes there is! It is not in the mainstream, but if you search for it, you will find some amazing new music out there. Hip Hop with Soulful, boom bap beats, and lyrics that are skillfully delivered still exists. Here is vol I of THAT NEW BOOM BAP!
Hope you enjoy!
Solid Wall of Sound- A Tribe Called Quest
Jump- Lupe Fiasco
Logic- Weed Dreams (Ft. Olu)
Every Ghetto- Talib Kweli ft Rhapsody
Cuz I’m Black (This is America) – Frank Nitt ft. Kaleb Simmonds
Cuffin Season- Jericho Jackson
Don’t Spoil It- Czarface
Pastor Tigolo- Phonte
Big Fries- MC Whiteowl
Nineteen Seventy Something- Masta Ace
9th vs. Thought- Black Thought
Skilled in the trade- 12 Hunndose
89 Swing- Mazzi & Soul Purpose ft. Ivory Poison and Rob Flow
Upgrade Your Grey Matter To Save Humanity?
Three times last week in small talk conversations with complete strangers the topic somehow got to “Are we going to make it, like as humans” or some sort of talk of the apocalypse. This is funny because I just finished The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This is the story of a girl named Lauren who is living in a L.A. after the collapse of all government systems. The Police and Fire department are no longer a public service. Water is scarce and extremely expensive.There is a new drug that makes people set fires, being armed is an absolute necessity, and you just might find a corpse as you go about your day.
Comparatively, after I finished the book I began listening to an album by Del. The album is entitled Deltron 3030. Deltron and producers Dan the Automator and Kid Koala take us into a post apocalyptic world that is “morbid and horrid” A spaced out Hip Hop journey, complete with intergalactic rap battles, deadly computer viruses, and cyber warlords who terrorize humanity with weaponized computers.
Butler and Del both paint a picture that is unfortunately all to real. They create a landscape that is part Boyz n the Hood, part Armageddon and part Mobb Deep Hell on Earth with biblical foundations.
This familiar but chaotic landscape reminds me a lot of 2019. In both of these pieces all of the same issues we are dealing with as humans on Earth have now reached a boiling point. Sea levels are rising, entire pieces of land mass are falling into the sea. Climate Change, random acts of violence, terrorism and government corruption are all vividly brought to life by Butler and Deltron. In Both Deltron 3030 and Parable income inequality, and corporate greed have destroyed humanity. You must travel in groups, and trust no one. I don’t think 2019 is that bad yet, but we are not far from the time Butler envisions.
Parable of the Sower takes place from 2024 -2027 only 5 years from now. There are glimpses of a world that we recognize, especially in Parable. For example there is an election happening in 2024. The front runner is a racist candidate who will set humanity back 100 years. If elected, sound familiar?
In Deltron’s world corporate greed has created a permanent underclass, and Hip Hop has turned into a propaganda tool. This r really struck accord with me because………it’s reality. The vision of Automator and Del to create a concept album that predicted the times is nothing short of incredible. The album was released in 2000 long before we had 45, long before computers tracked your every movement in the hopes to sell you those boots you looked up. Long before AI, and before we were truly focused on Global warming. Yet all these topics are touched on in 3030 with Hip Hop sensibilities.
All this talk of Apocalypse and Global Warming, Terrorism, and gun violence makes it difficult to stay positive. I usually end the global warming convo with something like. It’s to far gone anyway, “bags and bulbs” are nice but the damage is done. People our age will make it, maybe our kids kids will be ok. After that there will start being climate refugees. Once people start leaving their home land looking for water and bearable weather, humanity will shift. However both Del and Butler give us hope.
The main character Lauren does a lot tot “keep hope alive” Lauren has “hyper empathy” syndrome. This means that she can physically feel the emotions of others, good or bad. She can feel the joy along with her friends, but also actually feel their pain as they go through difficult times. It is this empathy that drives her to create her own spiritual following which she calls “Earthseed”. Earthseed is based on the principle that this earth we are on now is only the “seed” of what humanity can be. We can grow to be much greater, but not on this earth. Earthseed followers will eventually settle on another planet where love and empathy win out.
Deltron also gives us a glimmer of a better day. On a track called “Updrade ( A Baymar college course). Del tells us to “Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter” This is a play on the “grey matter” inside of our brains. Grey Matter are cells that make up the cortex of our brain. They have a lot to do with thinking, and our thought processes. Del is saying that knowledge and having the most up to date grey matter is the only way to “Dwarf the Corporate” and be in control of your own life in 3030. We live in a time of Anti-Intellectualism, and as a result people are reading less, and in turn not learning anything. You heard it from Del…. Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter”
Empathy and upgrading our processors (brains) to help save humanity? I think Butler and Deltron both have it right. The combination of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (empathy) and then taking the time to actually learn about the person in those shoes, where they come from, what their culture is really like. (upgrading your grey matter). This two small actions can make a huge difference.
Busta Rhymes said it in 1995 (The Coming) and I am saying it now “There’s only five years left” Busta was talking about the y2k but Parable takes place in 2024, and we are way past 1984. We must find a way to unite humanity on a global scale. Not to save America, but to save the whole world. America will not matter when the glaciers fully melt, America won’t matter if it continues to lose sight of its founding principles due to ignorance and fear. So please let’s use these two great pieces of art to Upgrade our grey matter and help the WHOOLE WOOORLD! (Killer MIke)
I have to say, I love connections like this that run in between styles and mediums. So this was really fun to write. Deltron got bumped front to back at least six times during this process.
As a 37 year old Hip Hop head, when I hear mumble rap I cringe. The beats are hard no doubt, but I am used to creative, loquacious lyrical content. Lyrics that tell the story and make me say daaaaaamn, that was tight, I got to hear that again. What’s funny about this is is that my parents would cringe at the Hip Hop I was listening to in the 80’s and 90’s. Granted it was mostly due to the vulgarity, but they also used to say. “I can’t understand what they are saying” “In my day people sang, and you could understand every word” (Except for James Brown I’m guessing because he lets some seriously primal shrieks)
Every generation believes their music is “Real music” and the music of the new generation shouldn’t even be considered. Hip Hop was said to be a fad at it’s genesis. I think now no one would deny its cultural impact. Why is this mindstate so prevalent? Why did Swing lovers hate Bebop, why would classical musicians say Rock is not music, Elvis was the Anti-Christ. Hip Hop is just N***** talking right? I admit to falling victim to this hypocrisy, mostly in terms of Trap music (It’s just not for me).
A few nights ago I watched Nasir Jones (Nas) perform his classic Hip Hop album Illmatic, with the backing of The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. This album tells the story of a young Black man living in the Queensbrigde housing projects. The imagery is sharp and vivid, the stories are poignant, and the use of the english language is sheer beauty. Illmatic is an album where every drum, horn stab, lyric, and measure have meaning. Illmatic contains no throw away verses or tracks, every bar is perfectly placed and used to build upon the last. The production is filled with banging carefully equalized drums and soulful samples. Let’s just say it’s everything a Hip Hop head needs from an album.
What does a non Hip Hop head think of Illmatic? Well when PBS connected Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra we found out. This could have gone either way. Illmatic is perfect to me, but to a layperson what does it sound like? Does it give them the chills too? It’s sort of like when Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun first opened on Broadway. A Raisin in the sun is a Black play about the complexities and intricacies of Black life. Black people already loved the play, but would a White audience care about our story? The answer in both cases was yes.
Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra gave a euphonious performance. The arrangements of conductor Steven Reinke were lush, full and most importantly funky as hell. From “Genesis” to “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”. We heard each sample, drum loop and scratch played live in real time.
I’m happy to report that Classical Hip Hop did to the Kennedy Center crowd the same thing A Raisin in the Sun did in 1959. Non Hip Hop heads some who may had never heard Illmatic before connected with story of Black man from Queensbridge, saw his humanity and caught the vibe. It was beautiful.
There is no question that Hip Hop is real music, It touches folks all over the globe, and is built upon the traditional sonic principles of Black music. The connection between the cultural DNA of break dancing cyphers to the ritual of the Ring Shout, or a freestyle battle to playing “The Dozens” is clear. There is no denying the genius of a Nas, or Black Thought. DJ Premier, RZA, and Dr. Dre are national treasures. Hip Hop Culture is a true art form created to give a voice to the voiceless, and it has worked. The voices of young Black and Brown folks are being taken seriously. Everyone must stand up and respect the artistry. Hip Hop has helped me and many other practitioners discover and live out our artistic passions as well as support our families.
So thank you Nas your vision and inspiration on this one. Also thanks for all the preparation and work that was put into this performance. Only top notch musicianship was exhibited, and DJ Green Lantern killed the cuts. As for Nas’s performance, to spit all those intricate lyrics with clarity and breath control is extremely difficult. He is not 19 anymore and he was on it. Sharp in every way.
I really recommend taking the time to watch this performance. It’s free on the PBS app, along with a lot of other great content to learn from.
“IT AIN’T HARD TO TELL” NAS
“WE WILL BE HERE FOREVERRRRRR, FOREVER AND EVER… EVER AND EVER.
Vincent Vega and Mrs. Mia Wallace have just ordered a $5 Milkshake and Vanilla Coke at Jack Rabbits Slims. Vincent asks, “You think I can get a sip of that?” As Mia passes the shake over a pick rakes over guitar strings voicing a chord progression that changed the face of rock and roll with what we now call the “power chord”. (Pulp Fiction -Quentin Tarantino)
Rumble- Link Wray
It was distorted and rough, menacing and powerful, all of which led to it being banned on radio. It was the only instrumental track to ever be banned for its violent sounds. The name of this track is “RUMBLE” by Link Wray. Link Wray and the Wraymen were game changers in Rock and Roll and they were also Shawnee American Indians.
The impact of Native music and musicians on American music is not something we discuss much. It is universally recognized that African music and culture have had the largest impact on the lexicon of American music. However because of early colonial ideas of manifest destiny, broken treaties and blatant need to destroy indigenous people and cultures we do not hear about Link Wray, or Buffy Sainte Marie. We don’t know that Mildred Bailey (born on the Coeur d’Alene reservation) was a major influence on Tony Bennett and help shaped jazz vocal technique. We don’t know that Jesse Ed Davis of Comanche and Kiowa ancestry was considered one of the greatest guitarist of all time. He recorded with Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Neil Diamond and the Beatles. It has been said that Jesse’s playing inspired Greg Allman to take up slide guitar. http://jasobrecht.com/jesse-ed-davis-i-just-play-the-notes-that-sound-good/
We don’t know that Europeans first enslaved mostly Native Americans, however Natives knew the land so well they could escape and avoid capture. Once the slavers realized this they decided to just ship the Native men to the Caribbean, and keep the women. As more male slaves arrived from Africa, Native women and African men began having children together. This forced joining of cultures gave birth to an entire generation of Black Indians. Which led to the creation of the Mardi Gras Indian culture. Once the African syncopated drum patterns connected with the driving 4 on the floor beats of Native music as Ivan Neville would say “American Music was Born”
Amazon’s documentary “RUMBLE” dissects all these influences and how easily we overlook the influence of an entire generation of musicians because of their ancestry. Musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Redbone, Charley Patton and Oscar Pettiford are all of Native descent. Their ability intertwine indigenous music with Blues and Rock and Jazz helped lay a foundation for American music. We have studied, Black Jazz musicians, Folk Guitarists, Slave hollers, even Celtic and Klezmer melodies as apart of American music. As usual though America overlooks those who were already making this land great. We overlook the American Indian. Not just their music, but their entire culture. The American government has tried so hard to erase Natives from view, but “RUMBLE” is a good start to bringing truth to light.
From Link Wray’s Chords creating vibe in Pulp Fiction to the clothing and playing of Jimi Hendrix Native culture is a part of American culture and it needs to recognized and praised.
I highly recommend this documentary and I hope you enjoy the playlist associated with this post. The music varies widely and is just all around soulful and beautiful.