Flamboyantly N.O.R.E.

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

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.  

Other Treats-  

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.


That New Boom Bap



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!



Track list

Solid Wall of Sound- A Tribe Called Quest

Jump- Lupe Fiasco

Logic- Weed Dreams (Ft. Olu)

Bam- Jay-Z

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

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.


Classical Hip Hop: Illmatic, Real music for all generations.

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.








Full performance


Full Episode

Rumble – The Influence of Native American Music on Rock and Roll


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.


  1. Rumble – Link Wray- 
  2. Spoonful Blues- Charlie Patton
  3. Universal Soldier- Buffy Sainte Marie
  4. Castles Made of Sand – Jimi Hendrix
  5. Mildred Bailey- Georgia on my mind
  6. Beautiful Way-  Pow Wow of Native American Indians
  7. Clap Your Hands- Black Eyed Peas
  8. Come and Get Your Love- Redbone
  9. Handa Wanda- The Wild Magnolias


  10. My Indian Red- Baby Dodds Trio

Tempo Lounge Vol II (Soul Music for You and Your Folks)


For the past few months I have been compiling some new soul tracks to make this mix. It was pleasure to listen to so much great music. From about 50 songs I picked these cuts to create the TEMPO LOUNGE vibe. Electric Soul, where live instrumentation meets modern production with soulful vocals and knocking drums.

This is feel good, chill soul music. Kick back with your significant other, your crew, or yourself, turn it up and take the journey.

Track List-

Better Give You UpFKJ

Girl- The Internet ft. Vic Mensa

Naughty RideWizkid ft Major Lazor 

Them ChangesThundercat


DYWMNAO (Sam Gellaitry remix)

Hood Pass IntactDam-Funk

Fall in LoveGold Link

UniverseIlla J

I’m Losing You- The Rare Earth

FadeKanye West 

Mystery of LoveMr. Fingers

Dang!Mac Miller ft. Anderson Paak 

Cold SweatJames Brown 

Stone Cold Funk- Anthony Hamilton 

Back in Town- Tuxedo 

Asking For a Friend- Foreign Exchange 

Asking For a Friend (Party and Party and Party edit) Stro- Elliot and Foreign Exchange 






10 hours of vibes for the road.

As you check everything one last time you ask yourself. Do I have all my chargers, snacks, water, am I wearing comfortable pants? Do I have enough clothes for the trip and some possible emergency. Is the GPS pulled up? Should I pee one more time………definitely pee one more time, you’ll be thankful 2 hours from now when you are grid locked in the middle of Holland Tunnel. These are questions that run through your head before a road trip, but there are several  essential questions missing we must all ask ourselves before we roll out. They are……..

Has a slammin playlist been created with care for this specific journey? Does this playlist have a range of tempos and genres? Does this playlist include classic music everyone should hear as well as new pop hits to keep it fresh? Is there any OUTKAST on this playlist (because there should be, don’t play with me) Is the list  arranged in such a way that  the music being heard is connected to the expected visual scenery along the route? This may seem like a lot of thought to put into music for a road trip but I’m telling you it can make all the difference.

Over this Thanksgiving holiday Pilar, myself and the girls went to visit my parents in Rochester, NY. Rochester is technically in the same state as New York City, but it’s closer to Cleveland than it is to Brooklyn, roughly a 6 hour drive with no traffic and no stops. However with two passengers under the age of 6 and 3 hours of inching along from Broome st across the Pulaski Bridge it took us 10 hours to get there. I luckily had 10 hours of music prepared for this trip, when we arrived at 1 a.m. believe it or not it was Eddie Vedder singing “I’m still alive” that brought us in, it was the perfect sentiment.

Road Tripping with the kids is a bit different because I really try to select songs that are high quality, but also interesting to the ears of 3 and 5 year olds. Granted, these are my 3 and 5 years old kids who listen to Roy Ayers, Biggie, Led Zeppelin, Lady Saw, Ray Barretto, Tom Petty, and Jorge Ben or the regular so they know the deal. We place great value on music and music making in our family so creating this list was not only fun, but I learned a lot about my family and my own listening habits.

And it goes a little something like this, HIT IT…………….

Give me your love- Curtis Mayfield

Give me the sunshine- Leo’s Sunship

Breakdown- Tom Petty

Harlem- Bill Withers

Hey girl, I like your style- The Temptations

Just One of those days- Monica

Be Bad (pt1) – Ill Mondo

Day Dah light- LC and Louise Bennett

Weight Off- Kaytranada

It’s Your Thing- Christian McBride ft Dee Dee Bridgewater

Mr. Kicks- Oscar Brown Jr.

Stones Throw Records 10 year anniversary- Various dope Emcees and producers

Come and Talk To Me Remix- Jodeci

Nite and Day- Al. B. Sure

Caught Up- Usher

Best Things in Life are Free- Sam Cooke (Live)

Fool For You – Alice Smith

Love No Limit- Mary J. Blige

Long Walk Remix- Jill Scott

Brandy- Baby

Freekin You  remix- Jodeci

Stand On The Word (Larry Levan mix)

Some Beats- Slakah the Beat Child

Cold Sweat- James Brown

Stone Cold Funk- Anthony Hamilton

Singing and Dancing- Rhyze

A Brand New Wayo- Mixed Grill.

Haven’t You Heard- Patrice Rushen

I Want To Do It- Scandal ft. Lee Genesis

Gyal You a Party Animal- Charley Black

Your Number- Ayo Jay

Lemon- N.E.R.D ft. Rihanna

Element- Kendrick Lamar

Respiration- BlackStar

Hazeus View- Joey Badass

Yasin Bey/ Marvin Gaye – Inner City Travellin Man

Manipulated – Mindsone & Kev Brown

Land of the Free- Joey Badass

Expressive- Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder

I’m Gone- Logic

Are you in?- De La Soul

Feel No ways- Drake

No Limit- G Eazy

Mi Gente- J. Balvin

It’s a Vibe- 2 Chainz

Magnolia- Playboy Carti

Progress of Elimination- Boss

C.R.E.A.M- Wu-Tang Clan

The Tide is High- John Holt

4:44 full album

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band- Full Album

Freedom 90- George Michael

Cuban Jam Session – Vol 3

Stairway to Heaven- Led Zeppelin

Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen

Aquemini- Outkast

Dip and Fall back- Lady Saw

Web- Hampton Hawes

Let No Man Put Asunder- First Choice


Long Distance- Sam Gellaitry

Them Changes- Thundercat

Season of the witch – Stills session

Right Place, Wrong Time- Dr. John

Free Love – Jean Carn

Black Five- Roy Ayers

Strawberry Letter #23- The Brothers Johnson

In the Air Tonight- Phil Collins vs Nutso Remix

Scooters Groove- Tuxedo

Second Time around- Tuxedo

Soul Drummer- Ray Barretto

Emotional Rescue- The Rolling Stones

Ware Wa- SoulJazz Orchestra

In a Sentimental Mood – John Coltrane

Losing Hand- Harry Belafonte

No Diggity (Mateo Vibes remix)- BlackStreet

I Need a Man- Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Don’t Wanna Fight- Alabama Shakes

Libertango- Grace Jones

Shaft in Africa- Johnny Pete

Help Is On The Way- Whatnauts

Beautiful People- Barbara Tucker

Cocomotion 79- El Coco

Black Coffee- Superman

Sultans of Swing- Dire Straits

Red Flags and Long Nights- She Wants Revenge

TIBWF- Budos Band

Shadow boxing- GZA

Full Clip- Gangstarr

The Rhythm Changes- Kamasai Washington

Design- B Stroller

Alligator- Dizzy Gillespie

Live Your Life- Yuna

El Amor- Tito Bambino

Masketo- Riva

No te Veo- Jowell y Randy

Linda Eh- Grupo Mania

Omega- Tu Si Quieres, Tu No Quieres

Make you Feel- Alina Baraz

Water Get No Enemy- Fela Kuti

Today- Tom Scott

Stand on the Word- Joubert Singers

Body and Soul- Coleman Hawkins

George Benson- The Ghetto

Detroit Guitar Band Album- Dennis Coffey

Bad Bascomb- Bo Diddley

Positive Vibration – Bob Marley

Can’t Find the Judge- Gary Wright

Back in the Day- Erykah Badu

Blackbird (acoustic)- Beatles

Have Some Live- Childish Gambino

Black hole Sun- Soundgarden

Machine Head- Bush

Alive- Pearl Jam


When I look back at this list, I must say I am pretty proud that my kids listen to music that is diverse, soulful and timeless.  I will keep feeding them musical meals filled with fresh organic goodness that sparks their own creativity and music making.   In the end here are the tracks that connected with the kids the most.


Blackbird- Beatles (They really love this song, they ask me to play it everyday at some point) 

Stand on the Word- Joubert Singers

Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen

Have Some Love- Childish Gambino

Soul Drummer- Ray Barretto

Mi Gente- J Balvin

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zepplin

No Limit- G Easy


Sonic Connections in Black Music …There’s Always a Break (The foundation of Hip Hop)


The foundation of Black music is THE BEAT. The beat and the rhythm hold all the other parts up. From Chain gangs to gospel choirs, to Mobb Deep a knocking beat is an essential element of any authentic piece of Black music. The Beat of Black music is often made up of short repetitive phrases or sections that are based on a steady, usually polyrhythmic percussion patterns. In Hip Hop we take a short piece of this pattern and loop it indefinitely.

This small portion we loop in Hip Hop is known as “The Break” A section of the music where either the record shifts into a new  direction for a short time, or a section where all other instruments fall out  leaving the percussion to shine.  This opening, or break in the music is another element handed down from our ancestors. Black music started out as these open drum patterns that we now call “Breaks”. Remember at first all we had were drums, voices and bodies.  Over the centuries Black music has become extremely lush and complex. However has always been and is still part of the foundation. When we “break open” the flow of a complex composition, stripping it down to its core, our roots are revealed.

Tricia Rose writes in Black Noize (pg67) “Rap Music techniques, particularly the use of sampling technology, involve the repetition and reconfiguration of rhythmic elements in ways that illustrate a heightened attention to rhythmic pattern and movement between such patterns via BREAKS and points of musical rupture.” These breaks and “ruptures” as Rose calls them are the legs of any hip hop beat, they hold the rest of the production up and help it to move from one place to the next.

In its true form Black music and dance are synonymous. When a djembe, tambourine, wood block and bone handled shaker make  a pattern together, this is a breakbeat. When dancers move in a circle to these breaks, trading spaces in the middle to get so, this is called a Ring Shout. What is the difference between the African tradition of the Ring Shout and a Break Dance cipher? Nothing. Leaving the drums agape has always compelled us to dance and or show off other musical gifts, including virtuosic instrumentation.

In Jazz the break is used for each member of the band to solo, or improvise within the structure of the song. Jazz follows in the African tradition of communal music making, but allows each artist to show off his or her own style and improvise as they feel.

“If there is any one aspect of performance that almost all the contemporary sources agree upon, it is the fact that slaves improvised their songs. “This improvisation goes forward every day….. The rhyme comes as it may, sometimes clumsily, sometimes no rhyme at all, sometimes most wonderfully fresh and perfect. (Southern 201)

The tradition of a solo break made it’s way from early Jazz into the Blues. The Blues expanded into Rock and Roll where the guitar solo became prevalent. Rock and Roll morphed into funk. Funk music took the musical element of vamping to make entire songs. (Christian McBride from- Mr. Dynamite HBO)

A vamp is a repeating musical figure that was normally used at the end of tune to fade out. Funk (most notably James Brown) took that small two to four measure section and had the band play it over and over and over. Looping the section while adding little improvisational hits and varying harmonic techniques. These ceaseless rhythms became the understructure of Hip Hop music. Hip Hop producers took the breaks and vamps of funk music, collaged them with fat kick drums and samples from around the globe to create the latest and most dynamic form of Black music….Hip Hop.

Below are some sonic examples of “The Break” and its growth within Black music.

West African Break

Kiyakiya- Babtune Olatunji– At the start we hear the full timbre of the piece. At 19 seconds the vocal falls out and we just hear the drums. This is a break, it rocks for about 30 seconds then the vocal comes back in and the song continues. In Hip hop we rap over these breaks.

Gospel Break

Mavis Staples- I’ll Fly Away- In this listening example we will hear how Hip Hop techniques create original “breaks” from openings within the song. The full ensemble is present when the recording starts. At 31 seconds I again  manipulate the record with a technique called back spinning. Allowing myself to repeat the same portions over and  over again, in any pattern I see fit. After I am done using the first part of the break in a Hip Hop format I allow the organ to return and play out a solo until the vocal returns at 1:40 seconds, ending the break. The way I manually repeat the phrase “Oh Yes” is a foundational characteristic Hip Hop built from the breaks and vamps of earlier forms of Black music.

Blues Break

This is Muddy Waters performing “I just wanna make love to you” After the hook we hear a break beginning led by a harmonica solo. About a minute into the piece I addd the Hip Hop element of looping a small portion to create a new rhythm. After the loop I allow the song to start back up and the break finishes with some stop time, then ends.

Jazz Break- 

St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins is one of the most recognizable melodies in Jazz. The song happens to open with a break beat, and courtesy of master drummer Max Roach at 52 seconds  we get to hear an extended drum break. How many different rhythms can he play around the main groove? A seemingly infinite amount.

Rock Break

This is snippet from I Just Want to Celebrate by The Rare Earth. First we hear the chorus/hook, as the instruments fade out you here the drums begin to take the lead at (35 sec). The drummer plays a hypnotic rhythm that ignites the crowd, while the singer ad libs around the groove eventually bringing the full band back in.

I Just Want to Celebrate- The Rare Earth

Funk Break

Bar-kays-  Holy Ghost Break begins at 21 secs. I then bring the track back to the start so your hear the full composition, eventually returning to the break section at 1:10.

Soul Break

Melvin Bliss- Synthetic Substitution/ DWYCK by Gangstarr

This break has been sampled over 700 times in Hip Hop, it is an essential part of the Hip Hop sound vernacular. Pay attention to the opening break from Synthetic Substitution then the drums from DWYCK. Dj Premier flips it into a certified classic.

Synthetic Substitution


DWYCK- Gangstarr

DWYCK encompasses all the elements we have been discussing. DJ Premier provides the POPL with drums from Synthetic Substitution and the break from Hey Jude by Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. We can’t forget about the classic Preemo scratches that create another layer of sonic texture. GURU and Nice and Smooth show us how to use the Voice as and instrument, then at 1:19 we have a Break section.

Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all Black Music in America. We improvise with “Freestlye” sessions, Dance in circles like a ring shout, layer our percussion with sample upon sample. We employ call and response, write lyrics with common themes all while using  the voice as an instrument. We use the foundations of prior generations to create something fresh. Samuel Floyd wrote

“African American music has the same characteristics as its African counterparts, but also the musical tendencies, the mythological beliefs and assumptions, and the interpretive strategies of African Americans are the same as those that under lie the music of the African homeland, that these tendencies and beliefs continue to exist as African cultural memory, and they continue to inform the continuity and elaboration of African American music.

Louis Armstrong learned from King Oliver, Bessie Smith learned from Ma Rainey, James Brown learned from Little Richard. Our ancestors learned from their parents and griots the ancient musical traditions. What each generation did, was take a portion of what they learned and add their flavor to it, allowing something truly beautiful to be born…. Hip Hop.