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

JunieSolange

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

DYWM- NAO

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)

“THESE ARE THE BREAKS”

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.

Back to my roots…Repping “THE LAND”

 

Lamont Dozier wrote a song entitled “Back to my roots” He sings “Zipping up my boots, going back to my roots” Last week I was able to take my family back to Shaker Heights, Ohio. I wasn’t born there, but I grew up there and my formative years were spent in Cleveland/ Shaker Heights.  We took a family trip to visit  friends who have a farm in Ashtabula, in Amish Country. Since I was so close to home, we had to make the trip.

We took the 40 min drive to Cleveland and got off I 271 at Chagrin Blvd. I pointed out all the places that meant something to me along the way as we pulled into Shaker Heights. A family friend named Kenya Woods is renting the house I grew up in presently so we were able to go into the house, take a tour and reminisce. So much was still the same, and I was transported right back to being in Elementary, Middle and High School. It was truly Surreal. Projects I did in Sewing class at “Byron” were still there, my coin collection for “Audio equipment” still there, my mini pac man game that takes 4 D batteries, still there. Kenya and her family were so wonderful, we had really nice visit.

 I have always loved the beats. 7th grade project.

This was still on the light switch in my room.

After the house we drove over the Shaker Heights High School. Football Two a days were in session, the Girls tennis team was out practicing. As we drove around the “Oval” I remembered parking there every day, Bone thugs, or Busta Rhymes, or Wu- Tang bumping loud. It was a great place to grow up and I was proud to be a Clevelander.

We left the High School and went to Yours Truly Restaurant, where we got Notso Fries, burgers, ice cream etc. As we were were eating Pilar noticed how many people were wearing Cleveland gear of some sort. She says to me “Wow, people from Cleveland really rep Cleveland” Yes, we do….. hard. WE REP THE LAND.  It’s a great City that has shaped me into the man I am today. Having Aaliyah and Lola be in my old room, see where I went to school and be in the city where I grew up was special for me and them.

On the drive home Aaliyah un-promted says to me. “Dad, thanks for taking me to see where you grew up, I liked it.” You know what Aaliyah, I liked it too.

Going back to your roots and keeping in touch with those people that shaped you is important. My crew from High School are still my best friends, and I still love Cleveland. Looking forward to zipping up my boots and going back to my roots next year for my 20th High School reunion.

Oh yeah, check out this gem.

 

The Bass Motherland

“It’s roots are in the sound of the African or should I say the mother bringing us back again. From drumming in the Congo we came with a strong flow. For then it landed on American soil, through the blood, sweat and the toil.” A Jazz Thing (Verse 1)

These words from the late great GURU (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) of Gangstarr give a great jumping off point for analyzing the SOUND of Black music. What are its sonic origins? What are its traditional sonic characteristics? Have those sounds transformed or stayed the same throughout our time in America? From Traditional Work Songs, to Gospel and Jazz, all the way to the modern Hip Hop production of today, we can find similarities that run through all styles of Black music. We will also examine the growth Black music has made. From hand claps and stomps to advanced drum programming and sequencing.  From one voice wailing repeated chants, to full groups creating rhyme schemes that keep your finger on the rewind button.  All of this began with the sound of the African.

 

Section I- THE POWER OF PERCUSSIVE LAYERING

Picture this. A man is chopping wood with an axe carved out of bone. His nature puts the blade against the bark in a steady rhythm, he can’t help it. He has to do his work to the beat ya’ll.  In the midst of his work a very fine tree stump reveals itself, and inspiration hits. He hollows out the stump and lays the hide of his lunch over it. After the skin is on nice and tight he scrapes the fur off, and something magical happens. He strikes his palm against the skin once. BOOM! And again, Bap! Boom, Boom, Bap, Boom ba boom Bap! And just like that the beat was born in Africa.

On a track entitled Can’t Truss It by Public Enemy emcee Chuck D says “I know where I’m from not dumb ditty dumb. From the Bass Motherland the place of the Drum.” What is the significance of this? Chuck with some ill wordplay is giving us insight into the most important element of Black music. The rhythm section (particularly the bass and drums)  and a phenomenon I call The Power of Percussive Layering or (Popl)

Africans traditionally used percussive instruments. “Drums big and small. Some were hollowed out trees, some were cut off gourds. On a smaller scale for accompaniment bells, castinets, gongs, rattles, kalimbas and xylophones were employed.” (Southern- The Music of Black Americans)

What did we do with all these different types of percussive instruments? Well think about what a painter does. A painter mixes primary colors together to create original complex shades. A great painter is also able to blend those original shades together on the canvas to form something that expresses how they feel, and often times sends a message. The Power of Percussive Layering (POPL) is no different. Many simple or primary rhythms are played simultaneously, each individual pattern has it’s own little pocket to fill. Once all the parts are combined. 5 or 6 drum parts (or colors)  sound like one. All the layers playing their part to add original hues to the rhythmic collage.

The composition below gives a great description of how the beat was birthed.

Jim Ingram- Drumbeat

 

Traditional European music emphasizes the primary beats of music. 1234 counted very straight ahead with even notes. Africans however, we love to embellish and play with the beat adding perpetual syncopation (accents on beats that you would not expect)  The POPL puts emphasis on and uses the in between beats to create a groove. It is this groove that makes hips sway, heads fly backwards and arms flail with joy. These layers created Duke Ellington, James Brown, and Madlib. It is these percussive layers that helped us survive generations of bondage. As far as drums go. We are the beaters, and never beaten (Ingram- Drumbeat)

Here is a chart comparing characteristics of African Music to European Music.

 

http://www.cengage.com/resource_uploads/static_resources/0155062298/12025/ch06_afro_euro_comparison_chart.html

The best way to understand the layering is to listen to it. I have listed some listening points to be aware of

 

  1. Listen to how different percussion parts enter and exit the beat.

 

  1. Listen out for a main “Steady rhythm” The part you nod your head to.

 

     3.    Listen out for accompanying drums that play in between the main beats of the steady rhythm.

 

This song is called Tribal Conversations by Jimmy Lopez. 

 

This  is a great example of a steady back beat, with lighter percussive parts entering and exiting the rhythm, filling the in between portions of the main beat. The bass drum provides the main pulse, but we hear many different instruments adding color, and different patterns build within the rhythm.

A few more examples of POPL-

 

Oyin Momo Ado- (Sweet as honey)- By  Babatunde Olatunji

A perfect example of a “Staggered Entry” each instrument coming in one at a time allowing you to hear how the beat builds. Each pattern creating its own color. But the space they occupy together creates a whole piece. The composition opens with an incredible Kalimba (Thumb Piano) solo at about 25 seconds we hear some bass enter the groove. With Bass and drums firmly in place the rest of the layers including a repetitive vocal chant come to life.

 

Savanah Beat– Starts off with wood block holding down the main rhythm. Djembe enters the beat and plays in between the wood block. After a few seconds we hear some shakers come in creating three layers of percussion. The djembe plays various lead patterns in and around the wood block and shakers.

This video is a perfect example of the Power of Percussive Layering and how music and its rhythm is everything for us.

It is called “ There is no movement without rhythm ”As an African cultural practice every part of life has music attached to it. Here we see the people of Baro, Guinea, working and living to the beat. Using percussive layering to get their work done, to speak to each other, and just to have fun.

Enjoy this and we will break it down after.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVPLIuBy9CY

Did you hear how the rhythms would start very simply with one percussion part. Then after a few measures, another instrument enters the beat, placing itself within the nooks of the main pulse? Each activity has its own place within the structure of the beat allowing the rhythm of life to create the music. We also learned the importance of the Djembe drum. The Djembe is the lead instrument here much like the electric guitar in Rock and Roll.

The drum and percussive instruments birthed the beat, but as technology and access to instruments grew so did the complexity and timbre of the POPL.  (Schomburg Library A/V recorded sound research)

Once we got our hands on guitars, and horns, pianos and microphones, the power of percussive layering took on a whole different feel. Listen to a few tracks influenced by ancient traditions of percussive layering.  You will hear the same elements but with the timbre of a full band, not just drums.

Check these examples

Memphis Soul Stew- King Curtis  Listen out for the Staggered entry of each instrument. King Curtis tells us which instrument is entering  and when it will come in. We hear several layers come in and create the sound pallate

 

Duke Ellington- Didjeridoo – Starts off with a drum break that leaves openings for all kinds of sounds. Piano stabs, staccato horns and whatever came to the minds of these master musicians. The opening 30 seconds are just drums, and Saxophone with the Duke adding pianos stabs in just the right places. When the full band enters all the layers are revealed, with the bass and drums creating a rock solid foundation. 

 

Black Ego by Digable Planets– This is the outro of the song. We hear effected drums with whisper vocals give way to a bass and guitar solo. The drums fall out for a moment, but when they return you hear all the colors at once collaging into a truly original shade of funk. 

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Section II- THE VOICE AND THE BODY AS AN INSTRUMENT

I am a huge fan of all things Black 80’s and 90’s pop culture. This includes classic  film entitled “Coming to America” Starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. The film opens with a South African Acapella group named LadySmith Black Mambazo singing a tune called Mube Wimome Next to Fela Kuti they are probably the most recognizable African musicians within Western culture. LadySmith Black Mambazo sing in a vocal style created by South African Zulu’s known as Isicathamiya (Is-Cot-a-ME-ya).   They employ only the human voice as their instruments. This comes from traditional African practices.

Isicathamiya choirs are made up of mostly of basses, joined by a couple tenors, an alto, and a lead voice.  Their sound is recognizable by the emphasis of the bass voices.

http://ums.org/2010/01/14/what-is-isicathamiya/

Ladysmith Black Mambazo employs ancient techniques to make modern music. As slaves we often did not have access to our drums or any instruments at all, especially after Slaves owners realized we used the drums to communitcate. We had to use instruments no one could take away.

The track below is entitled “Bangers” by Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder. The start of the track is 9th Wonder discussing how slaves used the drum to speak to one another.

There are two instruments that every human is born with,  voice and body. As Talib Kweli quotes ancient Zimbabwe “If you can talk you can sing if you can walk you can dance” Enslaved Africans used the voice to sing and the body (hands, feet, thighs) to create rhythmic accompaniment.

In his book The Methodist Error John Watson writes; “With every word so sung, they have a sinking of one or the other leg of the body alternately; producing an audible sound of the feet at every step. If some in the meantime sit, they strike the sounds alternately on each thigh.” (Southern pg. 87)  So “Clap ya hands ha, Stomp ya feet ha” -James Brown (Give it up turn it a loose) is a truly ancient African tradition. 

Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all these elements we are discussing. The listening example below shows how we use foot stomping and hand clapping through the generations. From the POPL in African drums to James Brown call and response all the way to Hip Hop scratching, with elements of black preaching. All of these characteristics are present below and relate back to using the body and voice as an instrument.

Give it up Turn it a loose – James Brown- DJ Alias cuts the break

  1. James Brown chanting- Clap ya hands HA stomp ya feet Ha. The vocal is reminiscent of Field Hollers and the cadance of black preachers. The drums are djembe like in timbre and feel giving us the rhythm of West African percussion.
  2. DJ Alias scratching- I am employing two separate DJ techniques. One is backspinning, used to keep repeating the same section of music for as long as needed. To back spin you choose a section of music, then on one turntable let that section play out, while that particular section is playing the I manually rewind the record on the other turntable to the starting point of the section and on the next one beat I drop it in on time.  The other is known as “Doubling” This technique requires me to start one record half a beat behind the other. I then use the crossfader to go in between both songs augmenting the rhythm as I see fit.

So all in one we have ancient African drumming and chanting blended with Hip Hop Dj techniques and the soul of the black preacher.

_____________________As we continue on…….._______________________________

Envision, a slave woman is working in the fields. The oppressiveness of the heat has saturated her ragged clothes. As sweat weeps from her brow she searches for something, anything to relieve this suffering. Suddenly she exudes an ardent guttural sound that echoes throughout the plantation. Her sound of misery is answered by the call of another, and another. A shirtless man with a flogged back stomps his feet in time with the calls, while the cracked hands of his sister begin to clap. They are not necessarily singing lyrics or playing a specific song, but using the voice and the body communally to heal and build hope amidst the anguish of servitude. These yelps, hollers, whoops, shouts, claps, stomps and hits were improvised daily, becoming the foundational elements of Black music in America. The techniques employed in field hollers have manifested into Negro Spirituals, The Blues, R&B, Funk, Soul, Rock and Hip Hop.

Listen below to some examples of how we have used the voice and body as an instrument throughout the centuries. Notice how each style grows in complexity as time goes on.

Rosie– Prison folk song sung in call and response style. Many voices forming to create one original sound. Only the voice and the heart were used to make this music. This music is built on the foundation of Slave Work songs and Field Hollers.

Nina Simone reinvented the Prison folk song about Rosie we heard above into a song entitled “Be My Husband”. Cultural DNA mix with real originality.

Be My Husband- Nina Simone– Listen to how Nina flips this. She takes a song passed down through generations and creates a version that suits her personal life.  Notice that the composition is only voice and drums.

 

 Black preachers have long been known to sing/chant/preach. Using guttural tones reminiscent of field hollers. The style is known as “intoning by some and when taken to the extreme as C.A.W. Clark usually did, it is called whooping” (Rev. Dr. M. McMickle. Phone interview)

One very noticable attribute of this style is the act of emphasizing the end of a phrase with a “HA” or ” Uh” it is  extremely common and has made its way all the way to Hip Hop as well, remember James Brown above “Clap ya hands HA”. Below we will hear C..A.W Clark give a portion of a sermon using the voice as an instrument. Whooping the congregation into a frenzy. Followed up by Juvenile borrowing that style to create the Hip Hop classic aptly titled “HA”

Rev. C.A.W Clark

Now listen to how Juvenile employs this same technique, ending each sentence or phrase with “HA” Showing us how the sound of Black music transcends generations.

(The track below is a lot louder than the above. Adjust volume)

Juvenile- HA

Scat singing is a style where the singer improvises melodies and rhythms using the voice as a horn, or piano, or a drum etc. Using the human voice to recreate or emulate an instrument. The example below is the most masterful expression of vocal scat techniques I have ever heard. The real scat begins at about 40 seconds. This style also made it’s way to Hip Hop culture with a group named Das Efx who we will here below.

Cecil Taylor and the Progressive Jazz Quartet- Who Parked the Car? – Masterful Scatting 

Song – Who Parked the car?

 

Mic Checka- by Das Efx- With Das Efx listen to how they add “iggity” or “ziggity” to the end of certain words or phrases. It is not as complicated as what Cecil Taylor was doing above , but the roots of the style are in Scatting.

 

Bobby McFerrin live improvisation– A viturosic voice and body instrumentalist, uses no instruments besides his own body and voice, creating full compositions as a essentially a one man band. Listen to how he improvises drums, bass, and melody all using one microphone. 

We began this piece discussing how Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all the elements of Black Music. Das Efx  and James Brown have showed us a few examples.  Now listen to Doug E. Fresh show us how the human voice can be a drum machine using a technique called Beat Boxing. Beat boxing is when the mouth, tongue and throat are used create percussive rhythms. In Hip Hop it was first used as a backbeat for freestyle rhymes, then as an addition to Hip Hop songs and eventually entire beatboxing compositions and albums.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick – La Di Dadi.

(Doug E. Fresh beatboxes the entire beat, Slick Rick raps and sings throughout) Notice that the whole rhythm section is Doug E Fresh beatboxing and nothing else.

 

How and why did these characteristics of vocal performance stay so true to form over the centuries?  It’s cultural DNA.

Samuel Floyd tells us (Power of black music  pg10) “All black music making is driven by and permeated with the memory of things from the cultural past.”

Each artist and subsequent generation from Sharecroppers to Das Efx learned from what was passed down, flipped it on it’s head and made something truly Doug E. Fresh.

____________________________________________________________________

Section III- “THESE ARE THE BREAKS”

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 pattern. In Hip Hop we take a short piece of this pattern and loop it indefinitely.

This loop in Hip Hop is known as “The Break” A section of the music where either the record shifts into a new musical direction for a short time, or a section where all other instruments fall out  leaving the percussion to shine but any instrument can fill a break.  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 the break 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 some shine, 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.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band : Music for the hips, heart, and the head

 

 

I came off the two  train with  lawn chairs strapped to my back. Sun hat, lunch, water, all packed, ready to be taken on Fantastic Voyage with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I arrived to a truly mellowed out Metrotech vibe. The shady court yard was subdued, but the sousaphone sound- checking to “Take me to the Mardi Gras by Professor Longhair set the tone of what was to be an epic set.

This legendary group is one of the oldest bands in New Orleans history and they paid tribute to those roots through out the show. Setting it off with a gospel infused intro, they raised hands to the most high and proceeded to swing the Brooklyn crowd into a frenzy.

I was the only one dancing at the start. This music courses through my veins, giving life to intense mental  and physical emotions. Emotions that eventually made there way to the rest of the audience. By the end second line style drums fused with blaring horns had every body on their feet. Dancing, screaming, whistle blowing, and playing tambourine. There is nothing like being so close to the stage that a trombone slide could hit you right in the nose. In this environment you feel the power the music vibrate every part of you. This is exactly what the Preservation Hall Jazz Band does, they play music that gets inside of you, forcing your feet to move, extorting your legs into a rhythmic fury.

The vibe was simply electric, Congo Square was inside of Metrotech. The history of African American music was pulsating through the atmosphere. Call and Response vocals led into extraordinary improvisations. Blue notes melted into break beats spawning bass grooves that penetrated your chest.

This is timeless music, and an extremely unique experience. Seeing a group of true professionals take the stage as a unit and bring the house down with their love for the music is not something we often anymore.  Each member of the band played from what was inside of them, giving NYC a piece of their soul, and we showed that love right back.  I would have loved for Aaliyah and Lola to have been there, but it was way to loud for them.

The hollers, yelps, claps, stomps, raised arms and active feet showed what Jazz music used to do…… make people dance. Jazz music used to be popular dance music.  We live in a time when Jazz music is known for being heady and artsy, not for dancing and partying. When it comes to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band nothing could be further from the truth. This is music for the hips, heart and the head all in one.

After the show I had to go and meet Ben Jaffe the artistic director Bassist and Tuba player for the band. I explained to him how his grooves inspired me as a musician and I strive to hold the bass down like he does. What I got in reply was a perfect answer. He said with his New Orleans drawl “Oh man, thank you. We need bass playas keep finding that pocket and you can’t go wrong. Duke Ellington, James Brown they laid it out, showed us what pocket was, all we have to do is find it. So I am  about to turn on some Ellington and the Godfather, crank up the amp and line some pockets.

 Me and Ben Jaffe

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band! Amazing performers, virtuosic instrumentalists, and just good people. Check them out.

The Band

Ben Jaffe- Bass, Tuba

Charlie Gabriel- Saxophone, Clarient

Clint Maedgen- Saxophone

Ronnell Johnson- Trombone

Walter Harris- Drums

Kyle Rousell – Piano

Branden Lewis – Trumpet.

Home

 

 

4:44- Something That Means Something

 

The Pharcyde and J Dilla created a song entitled Something That Means Something. They wanted their music and lyrics to get inside of the listener. Their goal was to make you vibe out of course, but also think of your childhood, love your family, reminisce on mistakes and face the social issues of the day head on. They used Hip Hop as tool to uplift but also critique our society.

Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Sister Nancy, The Fugees, Raekwon, The Allan Parsons Project, The Clark Sisters and Jacob Miller all helped to create the sonic underpinnings of this album.  Jay-Z and NO ID have created a body of work that means something. It touches me politically, makes me appreciate being a father, and gives me hope. The biggest name in Hip Hop is back to making sample based, age appropriate music that oozes soul.

I was critical of Watch the Throne album and Magna Carta, Holy Grail. I thought, “He can do better” ” I do not relate to this” “Really Hov?”  However, this morning over Tennis, returning propane tanks, getting a car wash, spinning a set and studying for the GRE I became connected to this album. From discussing family issues on 4;44 and Family Feud, to letting us know what “They” really think of us on Story of O.J,  he put his lifetime in between the papers lines, as Prodigy would say. I think he actually has learned to live with Regrets.

Lyrically he is on top his game. Flow is straight up Pocket as usual. But he also raps with a seemingly endless amount of different styles, vocal inflections and rhythm cadences. It’s just top notch music in every way. It feels good, it sounds good, makes you want to hear and see it over an over. With each listen small details are brought to the forefront.

Take Caught Their eyes,  first of  all The Nina Simone sample is chopped brilliantly. Lyrically Jay shows the apprehension the game has taught him and how he learns from his experiences. (“Memories may sneak down my cheek, but I can see side eye in my sleep“) Learning from experiences and reflecting on it? Yes, that is what a grown man does, and I applaud the vulnerability shown on this album.

Hip Hop has always been full of hyper masculinity and toughness. The hope is that as we age that attitude subsides. I know there is a man out there listening to 4:44 who decides, “you know what, I got to man up as a father” or to fight to make his neighborhood better like Marcy and Me.

Track for track I would say it is his 3rd best album behind Reasonable Doubt and the Black Album. This is a record for the 30 and over crowd for sure. It feels like listening to someone you have grown up with producing beats and writing lyrics with all their newly found maturity, accompanied by decades of practice and performance experience.

Beats, bars, ridiculous sampling, introspection, attacks on our racist society, family struggles, joy of Fatherhood. Dilla and the Pharcyde would proud.

So allow yourself to be reintroduced to a rapper name HOV!

 

 

A Few Thoughts on Music Legends

 

“I put my lifetime in between the papers lines” This line from the late great Prodigy of Mobb Deep says everything about why we connect to and in some cases genuinely love musicians. They put an honest piece of themselves in the music, telling a story we can relate to with vivid imagery.  Helping us to navigate life with a bit more clarity. From Phife Dawg, to David Bowie, Prince to Sharon Jones and Maurice White 2016  was a mournful year. Legends just kept dying leaving behind a music industry that values clicks over quality.

Seeing all of these incredible musicians go was a formidable challenge for me. I love Tribe. I listen to Midnight Mauraduers and Low End Theory all the way through weekly.  I love Ziggy Stardust. The way Bowie was able to take on multiple characters and kick something that means something simultaneously is what I aspire to as an artist. The soul singing of  Sharon Jones brought joy to my life inumeralbe times. Prince and Maurice White…. made some of the greatest music ever recorded. The genius of these artists plus all the others who passed recently will be missed.

Our most recent departure was Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Mobb Deep was the epitome of pretty and profane. The possessed a sound I can only describe as rugged yet euphonic sonics. Havoc conjured dark samples lacing them with neck snapping drums, heavy bass and lot of knocking kicks. Prodigy gave us a birds eye view of the trials black men deal with in the hood. There were so many times as I listened to “Trife Life” or “Up North Trip” or “Hell on Earth” or G.O.D Pt III that I was transported mentally into the story. I could see the park benches, smell the “la”, feel the emotion, see into the mind of a man that was only  19, but his mind was old. The words of my man Ricardo Spicer really say it best when talking about “The Infamous Mobb Deep” album.

“This album is a case study in the psychological effects of disenfranchisement and ghettoization of urban communities. Compare the heavily layered complexities of Hav and P’s Lyrics at 19 years old to what is being put out by artists the same age nowadays. To the untrained ear, their music was merely guns and drugs, but to us, it was equal to that of Edgar Allen Poe.”

So rest in peace Prodigy. Thank you for leaving us with a catalog of amazing art to be inspired by.

A question I always ask when a legend dies and we lament their death as a community is: why don’t we celebrate them while they are here! I am making it a goal of mine to support and actively praise the living legends we still have among us, artists whose music and lives have influenced my own.

Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin and Paul McCartney are my top elders right now

 

Listen to Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder

Listen to Head Hunters by  Herbie Hancock –  Also….Wayne Shorter  Ron Carter and Sonny Rollins or Miles Davis Second Quintet.

Listen to Summer in the City  by Quincy Jones.

Listen to Aretha: Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin

Listen to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.… Really do it, listen to this album. The originality, and melodies…. will make you wonder … How? (Paul McCartney)

 

Lest we forget about Otis Williams the founder of the Temptations and Smokey Robinson, Al Green and Diana Ross and Little Richard, Dr. Dre, Roger Waters, Kool Herc, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and, George Clinton, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Jimmy Cliff. Oh and Berry Gordy, DJ Premier, Andre 3000, Questlove, Roy Ayers and Tina Turner.  They all helped to shape the sound of the music we love and they are all still here with us. Plus so many more, these are just my favorites at this point of today, my love goes so deep it’s hard to pick favorites. Who are your favorite living music legends? Play their music, share it with your family, let it sink into you and move you to higher heights.

 

Shout to the group “Living Legends” Some ill emcees outta Cali.

 

 

 

 

s2016/2017 have been tough for music lovers. One legend after another has left this earth. Dealing with death is a part of life we all must face. However it is

Hasan Minhaj: The black sheep that asks all the right questions.

The Choice is Yours (Revisited) by Black Sheep

So, Hasan Minhaj at the White House Correspondents dinner! What! Genius. He delivered every punch line with these wide eyes and a bright surprised face. Was the look because he just can’t fathom that “King Joffrey” became president?  Or maybe he was just baffled by the current state of affairs in our country, regardless his stage demeanor and delivery made this an enduring performance. He skillfully castigates all the major news networks, gracefully calls Steve Bannon a nazi, blasts MSNBC for its hypocrisy on the prison industrial complex, takes down CNN, lays into Jeff Sessions racism as well as  Sean Spicer’s ineptitude. All the while little jokes within jokes that derided various celebrities, U.S. foreign Policy and the media itself.

Minhaj turns the tables on his colleauges when he tells the crowd.  “Right now you have to be twice as good”  no mistakes, The President does not trust you. So when one of you messes up….. He blames your whole group……. . “Now you know how it feels to be a minority”

This brilliant comparison segued into a portion about the importance of the 1st amendment, the reason they all have a job. Not to mention it is one of this countries most essential principles. He hits on the fact that “Only in America can a 1st generation Indian, Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president”  An astute observation that then forces us to consider why we elected a president who does not support the 1st amendment. The man who tweets unfiltered brain refuse whenever he feels like, wouldn’t show up to pay respects to the amendment that allows him to spew hot garbage.

The fact is we do get to say and believe anything we want.  This is a very new privilege for humans in the scheme of history, and how we use our words is a big responsibility. The “Choice is Yours. “You can get with this”….. Hasan Minhaj using his talent, knowledge and spirit to make a hilarious statement on the truth about our sanctimonious country. Or “You can get with that….. A president and society that see differing view points as threatening. Threats create fear, and fear keeps us ignorant. What do you do when knowledge, preparation, acceptance and attention to detail are all frowned upon? You speak up for whats right. Use your words for good, language is a dynamic tool. Let’s use it to bring light to the truth, positivity to the world and of course, a bunch of good laughs.

Here is the full set.

 

“You can get with this….. or you can get with that.”

 

A child with refined taste in Rock and Roll

So Pilar and I watched an episode and a half of the new HBO show Big Little Lies. I had been apprehensive about watching it, I can’t explain why. I’ve only heard good things, but for some reason I didn’t want to see it. Well, last night we dove in, and I liked it. Remember the movie Cruel Intentions? Well I think it’s kind of like that but all the characters are grown up, and Reese Witherspoon is a main character soooo. How is it like Cruel Intentions? You know, malevolent rich people dealing in lies, deceit, murder and such. The plot aside my favorite character and aspect of the show right now Chloe Mackenzie. She is 6 years old, and the daughter of Madeline (played by Witherspoon).

Everywhere she goes (in episode one) she controls the music with her phone. Riding in the car with her parents, while her family eats dinner, while they hang out outside. The kid controls the vibe of the music, and creates a journey well beyond her years. I was blown away by that. Her song choices added tension and complexity to the scenes,  plus she was playing some Rock and Roll  bangers. I hope I can turn the reigns over to my girls one day, listen to a set, and shed one single tear in pride. Right now…….its all Trolls or Moana! Which I like too.

 

As we were watching I heard some heavy rock riffs with a burning guitar/keyboard solo over it. That first 10 seconds forced me into having to find out what I was hearing. So today I went back to a point in the show when Chole uses her phone to turn the music down at dinner.  As she is adjusting the volume the camera stops on her phone for a split second. I paused it and saw the track info on her screen. King Kong by Babe Ruth.  Pretty heavy rock jam that helped me learn more about a group that is truly part of hip hop’s DNA. To hip hop heads Babe Ruth is known for their classic Break record “The Mexican”  A break that any b-boy or b-girl could never resist.

King Kong by Babe Ruth

The Mexican by Babe Ruth – A break dance classic. A foundational track of Hip Hop culture.

 

 

The next record she chooses is another classic rock record. Her parents are having a moment out in the back yard. They have speakers wired outside, and Chloe plays this song loud, giving depth to the scene and filling her Dad’s heart with pride.

Again the track was by  a group I knew, but not a song I recognized. I knew it was Janis Joplin, most likely with Big Brother and the Holding company. So this time I listened to a few lines, googled the lyrics and found.

 

Call on Me by Big Brother and Holding Company feat Janis Joplin

Would a 6 year old make these kind of selections? We will see, I’ll keep teaching Aaliyah and Lola about quality music of all genres, and how to put sets together. Classic Rock is not a genre taken on by most DJ’s or young kids, so we will see if my girls can mix up Janis with Jimi, and Pink Floyd with the Beatles. Never forgetting that Chuck Berry and Little Richard started the whole thing.

In one scene the family is at dinner arguing, tension is building. At a pause in the argument Chloe asks “Ok, what are we listening to… she chooses Otis Redding. I mean….. that’s a beautiful thing.

A few more of Chloe’s choices

The River by Leon Bridges

 

That’s How Strong My Love is- Otis Redding