April 28, 2006

An Unjust World, Exhibit C: MC Lyte

MC Lyte, Lyte as a Rock (1988)
MC Lyte, Eyes on This (1989)
She stepped onto the scene with a bang. 1988. Enter 2006. Where is the Lyte? She paved the way for Rah Digga, Missy, and Queen. Notice, I didn't mention Kim, Jackie-O, Foxy Brown, Khia, etc. They paved the way for themselves.

She released a Premo treat, Wonder Years, recently. One can only hope she is currently creatin some fire in the studio. The following albums represented her best work. 10% Dis is pure B-girl bliss:

You are what I label as a, nerver plucker
You're pluckin my nerves, you MC sucka
I thought I oughta tell you, better yet warn
That I am like a stop, and my word is Bond
like James, killin everybody in sight
The code's three-six, the name is Lyte
After this jam, I really don't give a damn
Cause I'ma run and tell your whole damn clanthat you're a

Beat biter! Dope style taker!Tell you to your face you ain't nuttin but a faker!


An Unjust World, Exhibit B: Evolution only works in the biological world.

"Man keep it real, get your own shit man, and be original. That’s all man.
And you’ll be a better man. And you gonna come out on your own"

Here's an example of originality. It's been around since Bulletproof Wallets. But, of course, it was deemed not-gangsta-enough by the TIs at Sony. The first time I heard Sun I had to stop and listen. Listen. When's the last time hip-hop made you stop, let alone truly listen? No guns, no bitches, no crack, no bitin the golden era. Just our universal appreciation of the sun, "you can't stare at him long or your face will do like this." If you don't know, now ya know...


April 27, 2006

An Unjust World, Exhibit A: Fishbone

Fishbone 101: Nuttasaurusmeg Fossil Fuelin' the Fonkay
Fishbone: Truth and Soul (1988)

"If they didn't blow up, the fault is ours. Fishbone leapt from a killer height. Did you catch them?" -Toure

Black and white music, whatever that means, has been as segregated as St. Louis for as long as history. Bands that dared blur the line between rock and funk, ska and punk, reggae and heavy metal, were awarded with no airplay. "You don't sound black enough." "You're too black for this demographic."

What's goin' on? Hence, exhibit A of an unjust world: Fishbone. Comin' sraight outta Compton. Well, somewhere in South Central LA. No not G-funk. No, not soul. No, not even sugary R'nB. But, aren't they African-American?

Imagine Georege Clinton had 6 kids (not a huge stretch of the imagination). Imagine these kids taking the energy, innovation, and vitality of Funkadelic and channeling their funk through ska, rock, punk, reggae, and heavy metal. It works. Not fitting into a conventional radio stations's programming and lacking consistent major label backing, Fishbone relied on their kinetic live shows to spread their gospel. For the lucky ones, Fishbone was a show to behold.

Fishbone 101 is a best-of. Disc 1 collects most of the classic Fishbone. The album also shows their seamless ability to shift styles, meld styles, and create styles. Disc 2 is a collection of rares, B-sides, EP stuff, etc. Hot. Truth and Soul is considered THE classic. Enjoy. For the uninitiated, check out their rocking cover of Curtis Mayfield's Freddie's Dead (below, in Disc 1, and Truth and Soul). Incredible. Listen to their old stuff and tell me how much Gwen Stefani and crew owe Fishbone. White impersonation yields critical acclaim apparently.

Fishbone 101 Disc 1: http://rapidshare.de/files/19089606/fishbone101_nuttdisc1.rar.html
Fishbone 101 Disc 2: http://rapidshare.de/files/19090473/fishbone101_nuttdisc2.rar.html

From Disc 2: The Goose (ft. George Clinton): http://rapidshare.de/files/19126553/fishbone_goose.wma.html
Fishbone, Truth and Soul: http://rapidshare.de/files/19109776/fbone_truth_and_soul_1988.rar.html
Freddie's Dead Video (1988):

April 26, 2006

1 Step from Plagiarism

Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City (1974)/Two Steps from the Blues (1961)
You've probably heard Jay's Heart of the City. Great song. However, my first inclination was to check out the liner notes. Damn. Nice samples. Actually, not samples....just one sample. According to the notes: "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love) contains samples from Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City."

So, here's the original track (below). Beautiful. However, the use of this song by Kanye "MI:3" West blurs the line between sampling and plagiarism. Kanye just reordered Bobby's song. Move the intro, loop the ...Church part, horns, everything. Hopefully, Bobby got paid. Paid in full. Kanye should've just let Jay do what Ghostface did to the Delfonics on Holla. It would have been the honest thing to do.

I've been looking for an excuse to post about Bobby "Blue" Bland. He had one instrument, his voice. You hear it in Ain't No Love, but it was in its pinnacle during the 2 Steps recording sessions. His booming voice combined sophistication, grit, and blues in a way never done before.

In many ways this album became pop music's bridge between the blues and soul. Blues + soul + No compromising either artform. Analogous to Goodie Mob's Soul Food; soul + hip-hop+ no compromise. The title track is a masterpiece. The arrangements, horns, vocals. Choice cuts: the title track, Cry cry cry, I Pity the Fool, I've been wrong so long.

Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City: http://rapidshare.de/files/18912188/bbland_aint_no_love.mp3.html
2 Steps from the Blues: http://rapidshare.de/files/18911950/bbland_two_steps_from_the_blues.rar.html

April 25, 2006

Syl Johnson - Dresses Too Short/Is It Because I'm Black (1968/1970)

You can imagine working for James Brown had its ups and downs. You had the throngs of women. You were the preeminent funk band. If you were the guitarist, you probably played three notes a night. But, if you didn't stop playing when James put up his pointer finger.

That's a beating. Or, at the least, a fine.

Then, I listened to Syl Johnson. He was the James Brown for the lazy man. Not a carbon copy, far from it. He just had a dirtier, laid back version of the funk. Although not gaining the mainstream audience, Syl became known to me via his use by hip hoppers. Check out "Different Strokes" and then go pull out Wu's Shame from 36 Chambers. RJD2 used Syl. Biz did. I'm sure I don't know of the many other credits.

I hope he's gettin' paid.

On a completely different note. Syl had cojones. Before it became popular to be a conscious soul man, he put out an album entitled "Is It Because I'm Black?" You know that wasn't getting radio play. Listen to Concrete Reservation, the funk, the strings, the looped vocals. Everything works.

A sampler, Different Strokes. http://rapidshare.de/files/18893893/03_Different_Strokes.wma.html

The entire double album: http://rapidshare.de/files/18872802/syl_johnson_dress2short_isitbecause.rar.html

And, Syl, yes. Yes it is.

April 24, 2006

"What's Goin' On?"

I've been asking myself that question a lot lately. Gas prices. War. Senseless killings. Hate. Injustice. Taxes. Bureacracy. George Bush Jr.

I think Marvin said it best. He said it so well, fellow artists picked up his message and added their own twist. Hands down, this is one of the pillars of popular modern music. What's Goin' On?

Here's Marvin live at the Oakland Coliseum in 1974, at the pinnacle of his game. Donny Hathaway adds his spin, showing off his vocal range, keyboard ability, and the talents of his band. I love Les McCann's version. He added grit to this number. Plus, I'm a sucker for the electric piano. Plus, the opening of this track provided Large Pro with the beat for Kool G's Erase Racism. I wonder if Large Pro purposely picked "What's Goin' On" for the backdrop of Erase Racism. Just a thought. Peep Big Daddy Kane's verse.

Marvin Live: http://rapidshare.de/files/18829426/live_marvin_wgo_1974.mp3.html

Donny Live: http://rapidshare.de/files/18829792/donny_hathaway_live_wgoinon_1972.mp3.html

Les McCann: http://rapidshare.de/files/18830554/les_mccann_wgoinon_1973.mp3.html

Kool G Rap (w/ Big Daddy Kane and Biz): http://rapidshare.de/files/18830099/kool_g_rap__Erase_Racism_big_daddy_kane_biz.mp3.html

April 23, 2006

Bobbi Humphrey - Blacks and Blues (Blue Note 1973)
This is a hands-down jazz-funk classic. Fuck a jazz purist. This is jazz. This is funk. This is Bobbi Humphrey at her best. Mrs. Humphrey, helped by the genius production and backup instrumentation of the Mizell brothers, created a soundtrack to a movie that was never made. You gotta love that electric piano and clavinet sound.

After I first copped this record, I realized that the Digable Planets garnered at least three samples from this one record. Hopefully, she got her money. Times three.

I do not know what Mrs. Humphrey or her hair is up to lately. If you're interested, she's got a website up (complete with new hair).

Harlem River Drive is the driving tune. Top down (if possible), windows rolled down, Bobbi blasting.
1.Chicago, Damn
2.Harlem River Drive
3.Just A Love Child
4.Blacks And Blues
5.Jasper Contry Man
6.Baby's Gone


"You said you're the best.
But when I'm around you're the second best."

My Voice is Insured for Half a Million Dollars - Dennis Alcapone
The evolution and ultimate birth of hip-hop is a much contested story. I, for one, do not want to add my meager two cents. However, Jeff Chang agrees with me. Jamaican music, namely the DJ sound system culture, had an impact on rap.

Dennis is the master of "toasting." He took the reggae records he loved, played them loud, and toasted over them. Replace the word "toasted" with "rapped" and you get the idea. This Trojan Records collection takes Alcapones choice cuts from the early to late seventies. For those that love the seventies roots reggae and rocksteady sound. I especially enjoy the Ethiopians cuts.

It may lack that modern swagger, production, and "boom-bap." But there's (probably) no denying, the kids in the Bronx who heard this from their Jamaican neighbors, started toasting over some James Brown.

And you just cannot fuck with that title.

For those that are history inclined (and have lots of time), pick up Jeff Chang's hip-hop generation book. He mixes history, race, economics, politics, and NYC and comes up with his story of hip-hop. It all started one fateful day when the Cross Bronx Expressway began construction...

April 22, 2006

Formin' like half a Voltron

"Wu-Tang Clan" Live on XM Radio backed by the El Michaels Affair

The GZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and U-God formed a semi-Wu and showed the studio audience why they still ain't nuthin' to fuck wit. Backed by the El Michaels Affair, a instrumental funk band out of Brooklyn, semi-Wu blessed us with some classics and not-so classics.

The band of "ill-ass white boys" complements the Wu's soul-heavy sound. The set includes a scorching version of Rae's Criminology; the live horns sound great. Everything works during this set, even when the Wu had "a lil too much juice." Everyone onstage is obviously having a great time. Fire.

Hopefully this bodes well for a Wu-Tang reunion album. The recording is studio quality and is one continuous track. Don't sleep.

1-Protect ya neck
2-Bring da ruckus
3-Duel of the iron mic
4-Pinky ring
6-That’s gangsta
7-Glaciers of ice
8-Da mystery of chessboxin’
9-It’s yourz
12-Ice cream
13-Medley/ODB tribute


As we patiently wait for Cuban Linx II...

We hope Raekwon and Co. can recreate the magic of OB4CL. In the meantime peep this slept on mixtape, exclusively produced by slept on producer Chops.

We all know that We Got it For Cheap Volume 2 is the mixtape of 2005. However, this tape deserves some mention. Being solo-produced, this tape has a rare seamless quality, that most mixtapes (and most rap) lacks. Chops loves the funk. Rae's skills shine through, as Chops gives the Lex and Co. centerstage.

The Chef Vs. The Butcher (Chops and Raekwon, 2005)
1 -Raekwon Intro
2 -What’s Fuckin' With Us
3 -Six Sixes [unreleased]
4 -Clientele Kid feat. Fat Joe & Ghostface Killah
5 - Raekwon Interlude
6 -Pinky Ring feat. Wu-Tang Clan
7 -West Coastin’ [unreleased]
8 -Let’s Go feat. Ghostface Killah & Icewater Inc.
9 -Raekwon Interlude
10 -Firewater feat. Fat Joe & Big Pun
11 -Apollo Kids feat. Ghostface Killah
12 -Daytona 500 feat. Ghostface Killah
13 -Asshole [unreleased]
14 -Criminology feat. Ghostface Killah
15 -Born 2 Win [unreleased]
16 -John Blaze feat. Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss & Fat Joe
17 -Where You At [unreleased]
18 -The Hood
Bonus Tracks (from Chops’ Virtuosity LP)
19 -U Know Who It Is feat. Chops
20 -Comin’ From The Lower Level feat. Ras Kass & Talib Kweli
21 -Thoroughbred feat. The Mountain Bros.
22 -Blockbuster Smash feat. Chops
23 -Changing Lanes feat. Kanye West & Chops


April 21, 2006

Fred McDowell - Live at the Mayfair Hotel (1969)

Take a genius Delta blues musician past his prime, bring him to an intimate club in London, and put him in front of a bunch white yuppies. Recipe for disaster.

To the contrary. Fred McDowell sang and played his heart out. Obviously enjoying his celebrity status, he brought life into tunes that were long dead. Of his many "rediscovery" albums, this is his best.

Fred McDowell was the master of minimalist intensity. All he needed was a guitar, two hands, and his voice to create his music. No drums. No bass. No producer. "I do not play no rock 'n' roll."

1 - 61 Highway
2 - Red Cross Store
3 - Evil Hearted Woman
5 - I Asked for Whisky, She Gave Me Gasoline
6 - Standing at the Burying Ground
7 - Glory Hallelujah
8 - Write me a few lines
9 - My baby done me wrong


Here's some rare footage of the man in action.

This record is hard to find. It's also known as "Standing at the Burying Ground." Enjoy.

April 20, 2006

The one and only...Bill Withers

Mitch Ryder - The Detroit-Memphis Experiment

The year, 1969. Combine the hottest studio band in Memphis with the king of blue-eyed Detroit rock and you get the Detroit-Memphis Experiment. Produced by the funkiest white man to have walked this earth, Steve Cropper (tied with Donald Dunn), Mitch Ryder combines the grittiness of Northern rock with the rhythm of Memphis.

For those that love that Stax sound. As Mitch said, "It's still rhythm and blues, but more than anything, it's still good music." And in the end, who can ask for anything more?

Mitch Ryder, Booker T, Donald Dunn, Al Jackson Jr, and the Memphis Horns. 'Nuf said.


Donny Hathaway - Everything is Everything (1970)

"Afterwards, he was a genius, but right then, he was just another guy tryin."
- Joel Dorn

This album was Donny's Reasonable Doubt. No record label pressure. No screaming fans. No sophomore slump. No expectations.

Donny Hathaway, along with Stevie, reinvented American soul music. Donny's rookie album took a Ray Charles track and improved it (I Believe to My Soul). The arrangements, the voice, the band, everything blended perfectly. His voice nearly overshadows his virtuosic keyboard skills.

A soul classic. An American classic. Don't sleep. For you hip hop fiends, find the samples.

1 - Everything is Everything
2 - Je Vous Aime
3 - I Believe to My Soul
4 - Misty
5 - Sugar lee
6 - Tryin Times
7 - Thank You Master
8 - The Ghetto
9 - To Be Young, Gifted, and Black
10 - A Dream


As a bonus, Donny wrote the greatest Christmas song, ever. It has actually been rigorously proven.



This isn't new, but I'm still listening to it. Here are some of the tracks that didn't get sample clearance. Here's another version of "The Champ." Here's why Ghost is the most consistent, most original Wu-Tang Clansmen.

"...I'll take the whole finger then."

1 - Intro
2 - Hidden Darts [produced by J-Love]
3 - Family Affair feat. Raekwon, Trife, Cappadonna, Sungod
4 - The Champ
5 - Charlie Brown
6 - Starks & Chef feat. Raekwon
7 - Be Easy
8 - Like That (remix) feat. Neyo [produced by J-Love]
9 - Back In The Air feat. Ol' Dirty Bastard
10 - Kilo feat. Raekwon
11 - Struggle
12 - Hidden Darts (remix) Produced By J-Love)
13 - Fire (remix) feat. Trife & J-Love
14 - Come On feat. Cormega [produced by J-Love]
15 - Late Night Arrival feat. Trife & Wigs [produced by J-Love]
16 - Going Strong feat. Trife
17 - 3 Bricks feat. Raekwon & Notorious B.I.G
18 - Black Cream
19 - Hot 97
20 - Cocaine Trafficking feat. Trife
21 - Pass The Mic feat. Trife , Cappadonna , Wigs
22 - Run 4 Cover feat. Method Man , Redman Street Life
23 - Missing Watch feat. Raekwon
24 - Abduction - feat. RZA, GZA, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa
25 - Out The Way - feat. Wigs
26 - Strawberries & Cream - feat. Inspectah Deck & RZA
27 - Babies feat. GZA & Raekwon
28 - Lost Chamber feat. Method Man


My swagger is Mick Jagger.