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Archive for August, 2008

Hope That We Can Be Together Soon
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (Featuring Sharon Paige)
To Be True, 1975

In my ongoing systematic effort to “lock down” my record collection (listen to every record, mark and record every good song, etc., see pics below) I get reminded of the foolishness of my task. That happened recently when I went back through my Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes records that I had I had originally marked five or more years ago. I looked at my old ratings with “I didn’t know any better” nostalgia. I can see how I was listening to records trying to find something I was looking for as opposed to just listening to hear what was there. Case in point, I pretty much passed over this song because (I’m guessing) it didn’t sound gritty. Of course, the rhetorical question is will my taste shift/expand to in the next five years?

Ghostface borrowed this for his “Teddy Skit” on his 2001 album Bullet Proof Wallets.

Songs are available for two weeks.


(click the flyer if you want to rsvp on myspace for reduced admission)

Ghostface Killah
Hidden Darts, 2007

I used to work in publicity in the Epic Records “urban” music department many moons ago and…there were a lot less things to recommend that job than you might guess. One good thing was that the head of my two-person department had been around a long time and made her mark working R&B (Luther Vandross, Sade, etc.) and didn’t care that much for “little rappers” and every once in a while, that would work in my favor. The best example of that was when I had to take the top three editors of The Source to a studio for Ghostface to play them some music from Supreme Clientele for consideration for the cover of their magazine.

I (and most people at the label) hadn’t heard any of the music because Ghost wouldn’t let any out for fear of a leak. I also had never really heard music on $10,000 speakers at chest-rattling volumes. The first of two songs I remember clearly from that day was “Nutmeg,” which I think he played first. The Source guys were doing their Source-Guys thing, meaning, enjoying their clout in getting to hear the music and not acting overly interested while we were waiting for Ghost but when he played “Nutmeg” and the flute came in on the first verse (especially the two notes that drop down at :41) they suddenly looked like fans who won a Ghost contest (deep head nods, screwfaced, hands covering open mouths…and I was right along with them).

The other song that stood out from that day was this one, which didn’t make the album. I remember Ghost saying that it wasn’t a sample and that they re-recorded the song (“In The Rain” by The Dramatics, 1972), orchestra and all, which sounded absurd to me at the time. I didn’t realize until I finally heard the song again this week (thanks Jamal) that this was the first instance of Ghost rapping over an entire soul song, including the original vocals. He rhymed over The Delfonics “La-La Means I Love You” in 2004 on “Holla” (which I thought was the first time) and he rhymed over Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Superman Lover” last year on “Supa GFK” but “Wise” dates back to 1999.

So, Ghost got the cover:

But only after some shady dealings (over my head) which included them saying they would only do it if RZA was also in the picture (RZA only produced 2 songs on the album and was uninvolved in the overall crafting of the album). There were also some final negotiations over a lunch with my boss and the Epic marketing person working on the album, which I’m sure included a strategic purchase of advertising space in magazine.

The release of the cd was a complete mess, the info in the booklet didn’t match the info on the tray card and neither matched the music on the CD. This song, listed as “In The Rain” (unless there are two versions, which I doubt) made the booklet; I assume they thought they were going to come to a financial agreement with the publisher and failed to with not enough time to update the booklet.

As you can see, the song was re-recorded in Detroit with The Dramatics (the original singers), The Detroit Symphony and the legendary Dennis Coffey on guitar.

The bittersweet part of my Supreme Clientele experience was that I was listed in the thank you’s:

…right before he says “F— these record companies”

(Oh well…I think it was actually the A&R department that added everyone that worked on the album).

Songs are available for two weeks.

Where Will You Be
Brownswood Bubblers 3, 2008

Where Will You Be
Khari Lemuel (Official Site, Myspace)
Happy To Be, 2006?

I missed the first two discs in this series but I definitely need to go back and check them because this one is excellent (I would expect no less from Gilles Peterson). It was hard to decide what song to post (a close second place went to “How Bout Us” by Katalyst featuring Steve Spacek) but I decided on this one because I just received an extremely similar version the week before (thanks Pure P).

I first thought it was the same song with two different artist names but when I decided to get to the bottom of it, I realized they are actually different versions. Both artists are from Chicago and they’re in each other “top friends” on myspace. I wonder which one of them wrote the song. If it’s Khari, it must really suck that his version didn’t make it onto the Gilles Peterson compilation! Especially because I like it better so far. His singing seems a little rougher around the edges and has more of a distinct style. His version also has better dynamics. He drops the percussion out completely at the “oh oh oh” part (2:25) and uses more layers of harmony than Yaw, who just keeps the song moving along without really digging into that potentially cathartic moment. More plainly, that part of Khari version makes me put a hand in the air like I’m in church and the Yaw version doesn’t. Also, the ending of Yaw’s version just does a repeat-and-fade where the Khari’s version drops down to just bass and brass (3:41) and then moves into a much more interesting ending.

Give it up for friendly competition.

Songs are available for two weeks.

Mama’s Dead
Doin’ James, 2008

This will probably be the house-iest song that I’ll ever post (well, never say ever). This is a relatively new compilation from Sweden’s G.A.M.M. Enterprises, a label I’m a big fan and the label that put out “Follow Me” by Red Astaire which I posted a couple years back. I feel like it’s safe to say that they’re the #1 bootleg remix label in the world for this kind of music (I suppose that is a pretty specific thing to be #1 for). This is only the second CD they’ve put out in their 5 or more years of existence (all of the other releases are on vinyl). I guess they are testing the waters to see if anyone comes after them or feeling increasingly confident because no one has yet.

This remix by Bloodfire (a.k.a. Daz-I-Kue of London’s Bugz in the Attic) is a re-working of a song by the same name from the movie Black Caesar (1973). I heard the remix before I heard the original which I suspected was a ballad (it is) and I’m totally impressed that he didn’t overpower the vocal which is so agonizing and personal (“my mama’s dead…no one to talk to when I feel alone…no one to stop me when I go to far…I need her…she tried so hard to make me a respectable man…she worked like a slave…and prayed hard every day…what did I do for her?…I wish I made her proud to call me son”). I assume that this song is related to a scene in the movie but when I first heard it, before I knew what album it came from, I thought, “Damn, when did his mom die? This sounds like straight therapy.” You can hear the original in all of it’s ballad-ic glory using the player in the top right corner of this page. I can’t help but prefer the remix, I’m like the hope it adds.

Songs are available for two weeks.

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