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Archive for October, 2007

Welcome To the Terrordome
Pharoahe Monch
Desire, 2007

Wow…what to say? So many things…I’m not a hip hop historian by any means but I can’t name another hip hop cover, can you? And if there is one (there must be) I bet that it was supposed to be funny a la Weird Al.

This is a very well-timed appropriation. Public Enemy’s original came out in March of 1990, during the George Bush Sr.’s presidency, 5 months before the first gulf war. By most approximations everything that was going wrong then is much worse now (not to mention “new” problems like unlimited wiretapping). Accordingly, Pharoahe uses Chuck D’s entire first verse but writes his own second verse to incorporate new themes.

Unfortunately I don’t have the liner notes so I can’t get more info like who produced the song and whether or not the horns are from 70′s Bay Area funk group Tower of Power who are featured on another track on this album. Tower of Power were ahead of their time, opening their 1974 Urban Renewal album with “Only So Much Oil In The Ground.” I say they were ahead of their time but what do I know? I wasn’t around and maybe it was already a big issue at that point. Either way, kudos to them for writing lyrics like this at any time:

There is only so much oil on the ground
Sooner or later there won’t be much around
Tell that to your kids while you driving ’round downtown
That there’s only so much oil on the ground

Can’t cut loose without that juice
Can’t cut loose without that juice
If we keep on like we doin’
Things for sure will not be cool
It’s a fact we just ain’t got suffiecient fuel

Cause there’s only so much oil in the ground
Sooner or later there won’t be none around
Alternate sources of power must be found
Cause there’s only so much oil in the ground

Yes there’s only so much oil in the earth
It’s a fact of life for what it’s worth
Something every little boy and girl should know from birth
That there’s only so much oil in the earth

There’s no excuse for our abuse
No excuse for our abuse
We just assume that what we use will not exceed the oil supply
But soon enough the world will watch the wells run dry

Does anyone recnognize the speech at the beginning of Pharoahe’s version? I’m wondering if that’s something they did for the record if it’s from an actual public speech.

>> songs are available for two weeks (192 kbps) [5.0 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks (320 kbps) [8.2 MB]

I’ll Stay
Standing On The Verge of Getting It On, 1974

And the prize for best album title ever goes to…(drum roll)…Standing On The Verge of Getting It On! My entry point for lesser known Funkadelic music was the Music For Your Mother Compilation (which I recommend if you don’t already have a somewhat in depth knowledge of their music) which I picked up at the recommendation of Bryan Adams. I remember being a little shocked at how out-there and original song titles like “If You Don’t Like The Effects, Don’t Produce the Cause,” “Biological Speculation” and “Jimmy’s Got A Little Bit of Bitch in Him” were. The range of the music was equally as surprising and varied, from gospel to soul-folk to electric-psychedelic craziness.

This song didn’t make the compilation, but my brother was nice enough to put me onto it and then give me the record on semi-permanent loan. Aside from being a masterpiece of hypnotic night-timey-ness, this song also belongs to the annals of samples because it’s the bulk of De La Soul’s “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa.” Millie’s “If you will suck my soul, I will lick your funky emotions” intro is also from Funkadelic’s “Mommy, What’s A Funkadelic?”

>> songs are available for two weeks (192 kbps) [10.1 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks (320 kbps) [16.8 MB]

Too Fly
CDR, 2000

The image above is pre-Subject (Dwele’s first album) but isn’t actually the art for this song. To my knowledge there isn’t any. The history of this song is a little hazy so if someone knows more about the actual history of the song (not just my story about it), like if it just circulated on CDR or if it came out on 12″ and what got it from a Detroit bedroom into the hands and minds of big European DJs, please leave a comment and I will add an update to the post.

It took me 2 years to figure what this song was and 4 more to get it. The story starts in early 2000 when I was just about to leave my job at Sony and Ben Dietz handed me a copy of the British release of (mix cd) the INCredible Sounds of Gilles Peterson (very recommended) which Sony was going to release in the US in a few months (thank you Ben). I had no idea who Gilles was at the time but I put the CD on and was appropriately wowed; it was everything that was missing from my musical experience working there.

Fast forward to July 2001, after my very short tenure at my second record label job, I was working in non-profit (and reading All Music Guide bios and album reviews of 70′s soul and funk for literally 6 hours a day) and starting to dig for records to augment my meager LP collection. This is when my family took a trip to London. Having read in the liner notes of the Gilles Peterson album that he had a weekly party at Bar Rumba, I decided to go. He wasn’t actually there the night I went but whoever was holding it down for him played this song. It’s the only song I remember because while it was playing I had a moment where I stopped and thought, “there are a room full of people full out jamming to this hypnotic night-timey R&B song that they all seem to know (and I wish I knew) after midnight on a Monday!” It was something I had never seen in NYC.

Now to 2003(?), I was working at Giant Step (a marketing company/label and one of the labels that put out the American version of the Gilles Peterson album) where I was introduced to Dwele via an advanced CDR of his Subject album but I was warned that his music had veered towards major-label smoothness and was missing the raw feeling of his early stuff…which someone had…at home. I never followed through.

Somewhere between then and now I connected that the “raw early stuff” mentioned at Giant Step contained the magic song from Bar Rumba but it was until DJ Scribe played it in Sweden last month that I finally got my hands on it.

Ok, that was a lot of build up…oh well, played it loud.

>> songs are available for two weeks (192 kbps) [7.6 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks (320 kbps) [12.7 MB]

Light It Up
City Lights 1.5, 2005

I feel like this is the mark of mastery for a producer – the point at which what you are sampling becomes much less important than your (masterful) technique. So…why not sample the intro to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”? Why not? The result will be so good that no one will compain, people may even applaud the brashness.

If you haven’t heard of Nicolay, he was the producer of the excellent Foreign Exchange album. The now famous story goes, that he and Phonte from Little Brother met online through Okayplayer and begin sending files back and forth to each other over instant messenger. With Nicolay being based in The Netherlands and Phonte in North Carolina, they never met or had a conversation on the phone before they finished their album.

I thought I would also use this post do a little how-to so that everyone can eliminate the annoying interlude on the end of this song (and the rest of your songs with annoying interludes).

If you choose “get info” under the file menu (might be different on a PC) you get this screen:

If you choose the options tab (marked above), you can choose what time you want the song to end and iTunes will always jump to the next song at that point. 3:05 is a good spot to end this song.

>> songs are available for two weeks (192 kbps) [5.3 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks (320 kbps) [8.8 MB]

Cinematic Orchestra at Webster Hall

A photo from the Cinematic Orchestra show at Webster Hall 09-26-07.

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