Aaron McMickle- DJ, Father, Musician, Music Lover.
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Play the music presented here, and come back often. It's a life long journey
These temps have been crazy. I’m not going to discuss the global warming aspect of this record setting week. I just want to revel in it, enjoy it. Realizing how nice it is not to have to get two kids into boots, hats, scarves, coats, and GLOVES THAT NEVER STAY ON! You get it.
Lola and I have been bike riding consistently since the summer. Our summer bike route usually included a Prospect park loop, then a stop at the Lefrak Center on the second time around.
This time our ride included a style of music I have really been into lately, and that is Cumbia.
Cumbia is a traditional dance music from Colombia. It also has African and Spanish roots. We were listening to a compilation album entitled Afrosound of Colombia. It is full of dope breaks, tough bass lines, swinging horns, and rhythms to make you wanna dance.
In Cumbia as in all music of the African Diaspora. The rhythm section is the foundation. Claves, Congas, shakers, sticks, bells, bass drums and bass guitars. Toms, cymbals, and rhythm sticks weave in and out of one another. On top of that lay some vocal call and response. All of these meld together with what Jelly Roll Morton called “The Spanish Tinge”
“Then we had Spanish people there. I heard a lot of Spanish tunes. I tried to play them in correct tempo, but I personally didn’t believe they were perfected in the tempos. Now take the habanera “La Paloma“, which I transformed in New Orleans style. You leave the left hand just the same. The difference comes in the right hand — in the syncopation, which gives it an entirely different color that really changes the color from red to blue
Now in one of my earliest tunes, “New Orleans Blues”, you can notice the Spanish tinge. In fact, if you can’t manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz.”- Jelly Roll Morton
What Jelly Roll is saying is that there are certain inflections, rhythms and patterns that are specific to music of Spanish decent. And this music makes you want to dance because it has a specific feel and color.
A good example of how using the “Spanish Tinge” can add musical color to a tune not specifically Spanish is the following.
The Rolling Stones- Sympathy for the Devil- This song based on a TUMBAO Afro- cuban rhythm. A tumbao is a basic conga pattern prevalent in Cuban dance music. It is extremely clear to hear the Spanish influence in the opening percussion.
Cumbia falls right in line with Jelly Roll Morton’s theory. The musical characteristics of Cumbia are similar to lots of styles. It is way those characteristics are performed that make the difference. The syncopation used, where the rests take place, and the intonation is what separates Cumbia, and almost any other style of music.
Take a Listen to some the tracks from our bike ride.
The Latin Brothers- Dale al Bombo – Within the first 10 seconds three distinctive rhythm patterns are introduced and played together to create the texture of the song
Cumbia de Luna- I hear a lot of similarity to Ska music as I listen closely. The use of the upbeat (The 2 and the 4) . In ska and reggae it is called a skank and it is a guitar accenting the second and fourth beats. On this song, it is a hi hat
Chico Cervantes- El Soncito- I love the trumpet intro!
In the summer Lefrak is a roller skating rink is a really cool fountain/splash pad. However in the winter it is an ice skating rink.
When we pulled up to Lefrak the look of confusion on Lola’s face was intense.
“I know this place, but now people are sliding around on ice?”
The transformation of the center from summer fun to winter activities is pretty amazing, and I am thankful to have such a resource.
I was really happy to be reliving a summer day in December. No water sprayers, no beach balls, but the sun was shining bright on the ice, and summer vibe was there. It was 55, fleece jackets on but unzipped.
Cumbia and bike rides with your kids. I highly recommend it.
Aria- Heard Em Say- Kanye West ( Aaliyah’s Scratch practice record)
I was doing some practice on the bass and a little scratching. Aaliyah was watching a movie while I got this work in. When the movie ended she asked if she could come play records with me. Of course you can I replied, and we started up a session.
I asked her what she wanted to hear. She said “Music for the Morning” . Since he loves to pick out her own records I asked, which record do you think is good for the morning.
She picks Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon. We drop the needle on it, and realize the first track is called Morning Morgantown. She wanted mellow music for the morning, dug in the crates and found a song specifically about the morning. I Couldn’t be prouder. She is gaining a value for music, and using it to add to the experiences of her life.
Thanks to Caryn Davidson. She and her family blessed us with six really nice crates of Classic rock, folk, and jazz records. The Joni Mitchell Aaliyah picked was from their collection. Thanks for passing on the love.
Joni Mitchell- Morning Morgantown (Ladies of the Canyon album)
For this edition of Brooklyn Beats we are featuring my friend Kat Parker. We were colleagues at Scratch DJ Academy, then she moved to Brooklyn only blocks away from me. Our kids are the same age, so we get together once a week for a vinyl session. A vinyl session that often includes up to four children, grilled cheese sandwiches, coffee and a melt down or two.
Check out her mixes and recommendations from the site. You are sure to get turned on some really unique selections.
Within our weekly kid sessions many records get played. So many. From Willie Dixon, to the Grateful Dead, DMX to Clifton Chenier. T-Rex to The Supremes.
She and Tom have a ridiculous vinyl collection. I truly admire it. It is so thorough. The “Rock Wall” is what I call their rock section, it takes up an entire wall of their apartment. A journey to the top of this wall will shake you up and down for sure, and that is just one side of the place.
On a quick first glance into the stacks you can see Nick Drake box sets, White Stipes 45’s, and a Tom Waits 12 inch. This is all surrounded by Ziggy Stardust and Dylan. Delve deeper, you will find doubles of a lot of classics. Zeppelin is present, so are the Kinks, Beatles, Willie Nelson, Buddy Guy and Nine Inch Nails. Keep climbing and you are for sure to run into Dr. John jamming with Syl Johnson, and you my even move past a Digable Planet or two.
I have learned so much from the “Rock Wall” as well as the rest of the collection . I make it a point to pull something I have never heard before every time I visit. These two really love vinyl, and are dedicated to buying what seems like all of it.
Rarely do you find non Dj’s who love to spend hours getting their fingers dirty with the remnants of 50 year old records that have been in a dark basement for 20 years. But they really love buying records in bulk and feasting their ears on all kinds of music.
The eclectic tastes along with a dedication to vinyl really made me want to know what has been spinning on their turntable . (Which is technic 1200) (They also have a full DJ Set up in their bedroom.)
Hereeeeere we go
Kat, what is currently on your Turntable? –
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Quarters Album
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- The River
What does it sound like to you ?
King Gizzard is this jazzy surfer rock. It’s raw beautiful and polyrhythmic. Looping and echoing back on itself.
The name is amazing, how did you find out about this group?
Well, Tom gets a weekly email blast from Jamie Widders called Widder Weekly. It is a great list of live shows and music listings. He recommended going to see Courtney Barnett. He said that she was like a female Kurt Cobain. That compariason made Tom and I want to check her out. She rocked, but during the show she mentioned that she was listening to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. From there we got the vinyl.
What track in particular stands out to you?
I love the album and how it feels as a whole.
I really love a record you can put on and listen to all the way through. Not a collection of three minutes songs. I want a lush soundscape. One that has the ability to engage you fully, but is also a vehicle for escapism and mind expansion. On the other end I have a playful spirit, I love music that allows that to shine. This album gives me all of that.
Put it on, let it play!
Can you put us on to few more artists we should be checking for?
Solomon LLori & His Afro-Drum Ensemble–
Gbogtbo-Omo ibile- This track features hubert laws on Tenor Sax and Donald Byrd on trumpet. A classic duo. Do check out Donald Byrd and Huber laws, they will make your life better.
Novos Baianos- Album- Acabou Chorare
This is amazing 70’s progressive Brazilian rock. I love listening to music in a language that I do not understand.
Not being able to understand Portuguese allows me to create my own inner dialogue with the music. I am not just on the receiving end as a listener, I get to contribute my own thoughts to the experience.
Novos Baianos- Tinido Trincando
Kat, thanks so much for sharing your music and thoughts with us. It is obvious from your answers that music is a huge part of your everyday life, making its way into all your experiences. Recording those experiences is why we do this, so thank you again. So glad we got a chance to hear some of them.
We got a lot of great new music to listen to. You broadened the horizon today.
My physical body is riding on the BQE, my head is on Harlem River Drive destined for Atlanta. Sun bursting through the back window warming my neck up a bit. 45 and windy, but the brisk air is nice.
Harlem River Drive- Bobbi Humphrey
Denice Williams, Dorothy Ashby, Thundercat and Common were on my flight! We all talked, listened to each other, did some reading, then took a nap. As we Touched down in the “A” Some rapper by the name of Sean P came to the microphone accompanied by Nasir Jones.
I guess Serendipity is real. I planned this trip to Atlanta months ago. A few weeks before the trip I found out that my Grandmother Louise Noble would be having a 90th birthday party on the day I arrive. The timing was perfect. I do not get to see my relatives in Georgia very often. They are amazingly loving, and make you feel truly at home. Plus 90 years old! I had to be there. My man Ricardo picked me up from the airport and we set out to Athens.
The surprise party was a gathering filled with love, and laughs. My grandmother was blown away by the outpouring. It felt good to hear so many people from all generations of the family paying homage to the Matriarch.
Me and my grandmother Louise Noble. 90 years old.
Within the next 4 hours I hung out with my parents, gave hugs to some wonderful relatives. Made a short toast at the birthday party, ate lasagna, and went back to my Aunt Martha and Jimmy’s house for some family kick it time.
I made the trip originally to come chill with my man Ricardo Spicer. We have been friends since first grade and grew up listening to every thing music had to offer together, usually on a yellow sony walkman with dual headphone jacks. My KRU from Shaker Heights are my brothers with out a doubt. We kick it very rarely now, but when we do we “never miss a beat”. Not just because we all have excellent timing, but mostly because we are family.
On the ride back Ric put me on to some nice funky soul and a true ATl banger.
Wipe me Down -Lil Boosie
Drive you Crazy- The Pointer Sisters
Ricardo and I went back to Atlanta met up with the crew, got burgers and headed to one of Atlanta’s finest establishments for a memorable night out. Actually the most memorable part was when Ric forgot I was staying at his house in the middle of the night.
I went to the bathroom, peeing, minding my own. Then the face of pure rage, half my boy Ric and half Jack Nicholson in the Shining busts the door open. I hear “Yo dawg, what you doing!” then look over and see only Ricardo’s head looking around the corner of the door, giving a really low growl at me. This dude forgot I was there, thought I was a burglar who decided to use the bathroom, and basically tried to jump me. This kind of moment is exactly the reason I made the trip. To create another memory with my friend. I will never forget that, and I will bring up each time we get together from now on.
Sunday morning I worked on re-organizing my playlists, taking music off Ric’s computer and spent some quality time just relaxing and doing nothing. Mid afternoon my other homie Kuzi came to pick me up and we went to his spot. I met his girlfriend Gretchen and daughter Kaia. The four us went through Apple music and picked a few things to play to for one another.
Me- Christine and the Queens- Tilted
Kuzi- Sub Motion Orchestra- Intro
Gretchen- Erykah Badu Phone Down (She would want it to be known that she has mixed feelings about this track)
Even though it was Ricardo’s Birthday he was at work most of the day. When he finally got to Kuzi’s house we watched a ridiculous Outkast concert. It was a Lallapalooza performance in Chicago. They killed it, filling all of us with nostalgia while rhyming every lyric, filling in every ad-lib, and letting it VIBRATE HIGHER!
So in honor of this weekend check out Outkast an Odyssey My tribute to this amazing duo. (The mix style is inspired by Soundbombing II)
Next came Fried Chicken, greens, mashed potatoes, crab cakes, biscuits and fried green tomatoes. A southern feast that gave me a nice fix. I was craving that meal, and it was super on point. Southern City kitchen, Big up! Big up!
We forgot to sing happy birthday in the restaurant so we did a barber shop quartet thing on the corner outside for Ric.
Monday chill day. Music trading, errands and such. The highlight was the impromptu beat session we put down. It started off with Kuzi playing some tracks he had been working on. I turned on the new Serato Dj controller Ric had, cued up some scratch sounds and just cut and cut and cut.
Used some nice effects, and we recorded scratch patterns on top of tough tough beats by Kuzi Nash. Next Ric wanted to use the pads on the DDjsx to chop up some Dramatics. So we set cues, found the sections we wanted, and went to work.
The Dramatics- In the Raind
Even though we did not get a chance to finish the beat, just being in the room with them. Ideas flowing, crazy laughs, lots of beats looping over and over again felt good. I played some of the blends I have been working on, and we bounced things off one another, all while putting in some good work.
For the most part my Kru and I only see each other at weddings and other big events like that. It was really great to just be able to spend time just chilling, watching games, pumping beats.
Live action Outro-
Flight delayed 30 min, then an hour, then two hours, now four hours. Ok, Ok, you dddd
Waiting for the bus to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
(Musical Time Stamp) Happy to see you by – Graham Central Station
It is 7:42 pm. Lola is still giving a few 10 second spurts of crying. I can understand it. She had a great day and refuses to give up on it. Aaliyah passed out with her hand in a bag of gummies at about 7. We really went hard today, and had a great time doing it. Playgrounds, museums, movies, snacks, limp body tantrums, lots of fun and an overwhelming amount of love.
There was a 4 or 5 month period after Lola was born where on Mondays and Tuesdays I had both Aaliyah and Lola for the whole day. 6 am till 6pm. It was no joke, and I am glad Aaliyah now has school everyday. For her sake, and my own sanity.
When I think back on it though, I loved every minute of it. Today was a great reminder of how blessed I am.
The three of us were really happy to be reliving one of those epic days together. Aaliyah and Lola were exuding joy being around each other all day. Random hugs occurred fairly often, and the vibes were just good. We laughed and enjoyed being together and with friends.
Time Stamps and activities
Pilar went to Oakland early this morning for a work trip. So I had a few hours with the girls at home in the morning. We danced to this.
Cuban Jam Session- Pamparana
This series of Cuban Jam Sessions was a favorite of her father Paul. These records were passed down to us, so we have to keep this music present in our lives.
930 am- Playground (Soaking wet playground equipment, but we were 30 min early for the museum and had to kill time)
Lola’s first time trying the big kid swing.
10:00 am- Met Casey and her daughter Zola as well as Jeannine and her daughter Jordan at the Children’s museum. We were separated most of the time, but got together long enough to snap this group photo.
Post museum photo shoot.
1:00 pm- Lola went down for a nap. Aaliyah and I took this opportunity to watch Shrek. It may seem hard to believe, but that was first time I had ever seen the movie. It was pretty good, Aaliyah and I sat together eating snacks just chilling till Lola woke up.
3:00- Shane and Sekou came over and we went to playground again. Aaliyah, Lola and Sekou basically sprinted the entire way there, then ran around and climbed and slid, and swung until it got dark.
5:00- Dinner and Chill time.
As soon as we got back I made a quick dinner playlist.
I wanted to start with Life is just a moment, so you better enjoy it.
Life is just a moment- Roy Ayers
Bomdigi- Eric Sermon
Bonita AppleBum (2015) Pharrell Williams edit
Number One- Tuxedo
Pitch in on a Party- DJ Quick
Shaft in Africa- Johnny Pete
Viva Tirado- Gerald Wilson
Che Che makossa- Willie Colon
Don’t make me beg – Soul Notes
Kossa- DJ Day
Now its 8:33, and Excuse me miss just came on. I forgot about this song. Nice laid back groove for the evening. Go ahead and play it. This is a Neptune’s produced track. To learn more about the Neptune’s check out SPY MOB they are the backing band for N.E.R.D
Excuse me Miss- Jay-Z and Pharrell.
Spy Mob! Check em out.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed the music and the memories.
The student body at the University of Missouri just did something historic. Through protests, hunger strikes, and the football team refusing to practice or play, they effected some real change. They ousted the president of the university Tim Wolfe for his lack of action in the face of consistent racial turmoil on campus.
Racial incidents had been brewing on campus for months. The student body president was called a racial slur while walking on campus. Also a group of Black students were called “niggers” while rehearsing for a performance.
Nothing was done by campus security who witnessed the incidents. The student body was not satisfied with the universities response or investigation of these hates crimes. Finally a swastika painted with human feces was put up on a dorm wall.
I have been a student athlete, and felt racial divides between my teammates. I am a black man in America, I feel that divide as well. So I relate to this story. I made the mistake of reading comments on the bottom of several articles on this situation. Let’s just say people are still extremely racist. Sometimes it feel likes the ignorance is to engrained to be overcome.
Today the power of “many” won.
The “many” students who came together to denounce these hateful actions were the main cause of Tim Wolfe’s swift removal. The “many” showed that sports can bring people together, even in the face of a national climate that is teeming with racially explosive incidents.
The “many” even showed that the athletes when joined together have some power of a massive entity like the NCAA.
The power of “money” also had a lot to do with this. College game day is a huge money maker. The amount of money that would have been lost by canceling the game was in the millions with tickets, concessions, food and beverage sales, Jerseys etc. Canceling the game would have been a huge loss. The student body created the situation that forced the hand of the administration.`
This is a real glimmer of hope, that could make it easier for people to take action against injustice. For a Division I football players on scholarship to put social issues, morals, and what is right above football is nothing short of amazing. I have been a division I athlete. Sports comes first, you are on scholarship and if you breach that contract they can take that scholarship away. So big ups to the players who stood for what was right, looking past the consequences that could have been incurred.
(This is a photo tweeted by Head football coach Gary Pinkel) players banding together
Big ups to Coach Gary Pinkel. He stood by his players. He didn’t try and threaten their scholarships or playing time. He also knew what was right, and now stands on the right side of history. Let us not forget that this is the same coach and team that knew Michael Sam was gay, supported him completely and helped usher in a new era of civil rights in major sports.
Big ups to the Legion of Black Collegians for organizing and to Jonathan Butler for his hunger strike. The combination of the athletes, grad students, and student unions is what helped to make this historic event occur. They banded together under one cause, and they won.
Rarely do you see NCAA athletes or students in general win over the university establishment.
This is a day to remember that even though we love sports in America, it cannot come before the civil rights of our citizens.
Remember Muhammad Ali today. He gave up being a champion at the peak of his career because he did not believe in the Vietnam war. His sport was important to him, but his beliefs came first. He faced the consequences of his actions , but he too came out on the right side of history. Some supported what he did, others bashed him as a communist.
There will be those who stand in judgment of the students on Missouri campus and what they did. I’ll never truly understand why any one would disagree with peaceful protests that end with real change, but hey. When people of color gain power and wield it to spur change, this can be scary for some.
People of color in America will always have to deal with some kind of discrimination. It is never going away.
What we can do is use the recent events at the University of Missouri as a catalyst. A catalyst to support and use THE POWER OF MANY to bring about change, no matter what the issue.
This is a day I am very thankful for.
Musical Time Stamps. A few protest songs to remember this day by.
Fight the Power- Public Enemy
A classic protest record. Plus it has the funky drummer on it.
Today I went into Aaliyah and Lola’s class to read and play some bass. I’ll say first that we love their school. All the teachers are wonderful people who truly love the kids. Aaliyah comes home so excited about what she has been learning daily.
Aaliyah has been asking me to read a book to her class during breakfast time. So today I went it and read The Wheels on the Bus. It is a familiar story, you sing about all the people and activities on the bus, and these things go on “all over town” As I read the kids ate waffles and sang with their mouths full. Ms. Shaquam and Ms. Tawanna (Aaliyah’s) teachers sang a long as well.
As I finished reading, I suggested they all get out shakers and tambourines. They all got instruments and we began a pretty official sing along.
Now this was my first time ever playing the bass and singing at the same time in front of people. It went pretty well. I played through a 12 bar boogie boogie style blues, then went into The Wheels on the Bus. The kids loved it, and it made Aaliyah so happy. I got the tightest longest hug ever after we finished.
I started playing the bass, so that I could teach the girls music. I want to have a family band, and have playing together be a huge part of our lives. Music brings people together. Today I got a little closer to my kids, their classmates and teachers.
That is the stuff that really matters
I went in to play and read today because I love my children. I did it all “From the Love side”
(Hank Ballard is one of the earliest influences on the music of James Brown. When you listen to this song, you can hear the similarities.)
We are saturated with advertisements, reviews, polls, pundits. Our peripheral is always being bombarded with information, telling us what to think, what to buy, what is good. Before we can decide if we actually like something, we read several reviews of what other people think first. What this means is that we almost never get to approach anything new in life with a clean slate of WHAT WE ACTUALLY THINK!
It ok to like what you like! Say it, I like it like that!
I like it like that- Pete Rodriguez
No matter what, we take into account what we have heard, or read, or the headline that we saw in passing. It is very difficult to separate your opinion these messages. Hype is a beast. When Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp A Butterfly was leaked, it came out to unbelievable praise. There were album of the year cries almost immediately.
I actually did not get to listen to it until about a week after its official release. That is seven days of Facebook, twitter, and Instagram posts, seven days of opening up streaming browsers with it prominently featured. Overhearing conversations, hearing it on the radio, essentially you are hearing that it is a great album all around. Which it is, but based upon everything I heard about it. I had preconceived notions about what to expect before I even got to hear it for myself.
I do genuinely love the album. Sonically it is everything I would like to hear. It’s Hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, spoken word all wrapped up in the anger of oppressed youth. It is also extremely honest and challenging mentally. I would say it is for deep close listening and absorption. Not for background enjoyment.
Kendrick Lamar- King Kunta
After Good Kid M.A.A.D City killed the game in 2012, To Pimp a Butterfly was a highly anticipated release. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pull the cellophane off of an album that you are looking forward to hearing, play it and decide for yourself if it’s fire. Without having someone else tell it sucks or that it is amazing.
Modern listening does not even allow the average listener to really choose what they want to hear. Streaming services tell you what they think you should hear as soon as you open the application. There is a top 10 waiting for you, a list of WHATS’ HOT! Even if its only luke warm. However if you hear it 20 times a day, and Funk flex tells you its hot, the message starts to seep into your psyche. They have decided for you.
As a working DJ I can tell that most people use these lists as a guide for what to listen to. All the requests are the same as what is on the hot 97 or you tube, or spotify top 40.
As an experiment for yourself. Buy a new album legally. Try not to read any reviews on it, or ask any one about. Just put it on, play it and judge for yourself. Ask your self.
Does it sound good?
Does it feel good?
If you listen and answer yes, then it’s good. No matter the genre, or release date.
Do the same experiment with a movie. Just pick a movie and watch it. Don’t read the blurb, don’t look at how many stars. Just watch it, and decide for yourself if you like it.
It is difficult to go against the grain. When something is very popular and “trending” to say you don’t like it can ostracize you. Do the best you can be true to what you really feel.
Wether it is music, or books or movies. You don’t have to follow the trend. You get decide what you like, and how it makes you feel.
Just because you do not like something does not mean you are a hater. It’s ok to make choices on a case by case basis.
“If I don’t like it I don’t like, that don’t mean that I’m hating”. – Common (The 6th Sense)
Listen and decide for yourself.
I was inspired to write this piece based up two articles that came out this week.
The above article discusses how it became faux pas to say that you don’t like everything about Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly. I don’t agree with the overall message, especially when he questions why Kendrick would make a spoken word, funk jazz album in 2015. (Because he doing something different, and that is what we need) However, it did make me think about how the bandwagon of an album or artist gets going, then all of a sudden he/she is gods gift.