ONE WAY TO DO IT
oddisee – digging deep
SBTRKT – everybody knows
sylvan lacue feat saba – best me (remix)
moonchild – the truth (jazzy jeff & james poyser remix)
eight mile beach – there are no right angles found in nature
deniece williams – free
pete rock & cl smooth – ghetto of the mind (dilla showtime blend)
the internet – love song
gogo penguin – initiate (stray remix)
24 carat black – ghetto (misfortune’s wealth)
jimi tenor – tropical eel
fkj feat jordan rakei – learn to fly
homebrew technology – streetwise
shamek farrah – first impressions
aretha franklin – one step ahead (edit)
aretha franklin – one step ahead (featurecast EDIT)
yussef kamaal – black focus
marvin gaye – you’re the man (rvp EDIT)
gil scott heron – it’s your world
the freedom sounds – behold the day
underground vegetables – melting pot
JSBL – parental square ’79 (crackazat remix)
byron the aquarius feat dimitri walker – run sa
max graef & muff deep – am fenster
Au Cinema – My girl Lianne La Havas gets better with every record, and she’s not even 30 yet. A few years ago I talked my way into one of her sold out Bowery Ballroom shows, and it was pure magic. If you’re longing for the beauty of a real signer/songwriter who has yet to get into their drug or ego phase, she’s the real deal.
Digging Deep – That dude from DC, Amir Mohamed el Khalifa aka Oddisee drops another hot album, 2017’s “The Iceberg”. This one is all beats and rhymes, as opposed to mostly beats. This is the first track, and my favorite. For my money, he’s one of the few rappers out these days that makes albums you can purchase all in. Peep it HERE
Everybody Knows – An LP cut from Aaron Jerome aka SBTRKT, from his 2014 “Wonder Where We Land”. I wasn’t feeling the second record as much as the first, but I love the production on this track. It has a James Blake thing about it, and runs at the UK’s post-dubstep standard speed of 130bpm, tho my ears will always hear it as 65 cuz I listen for snares. Go figure.
Best Me (remix) – As we all know, MCing has been a dying art for decades now. But there are always glimmers of hope. Miami’s Sylvan LaCue and Chicago’s Saba both show some real promise. Trap beats rarely move me, but at least these kids are lyricists, which is more than you can say for many of today’s so-called rappers. Need more evidence? Peep this Saba shit with Twista from his 2016 Bucket List Mixtape or one of Sylvan’s solo joints
The Truth (Jazzy Jeff & James Poyser remix) – LA’s Moonchild are a jazz-meets-neo-soul trio who came out of the USC Jazz Studies program. This is a remix of a track from their 2015 “Please Rewind” LP. The beats are squarely in the Dilla tribute universe, but we all love Dilla, so why u mad? Amber Navran’s voice sounds like Erykah Badu without the blunts and most of the blues and soul, but it’s easy on the ears.
There Are No Right Angles Found In Nature – This goes back to 1998, when SF’s duo Eight Mile Beach were still new on the groovy lounge/trip hop music scene that was conjured up in the states around bands like Thievery Corporation. TC even did a remix on the 12”, but the original here has a funkier organ push and pull thing going on.
Free – This song never gets old. I don’t think I’ve put it on a mixtape in the last 20 years or so, but I just need to hear it in my life every now and then. I did a quick re-edit to start off with the groove and then go right into the solo, but I was quickly reminded how drastically the tempo changes from the opening bars to the meat of the song. So if you hear the tempo jump, you’re mp3 player is not buggin’, you just have good ears. And yes, it’s borderline heresy to play this song without the intro vocals, yet here we are.
Ghetto of the Mind (Dilla showtime blend) – I always dug this Dilla beat from illa J’s 2008 “Yancey Boys’ LP. It just has that real Slum Village groove to it, nah mean? I threw a Pete Rock acapella over the top just cuz CL uses very 90s lines that make me nostalgic like “herbal with the verbal” and calling his baby moms a “little stark raving looney”. Drama!
Initiate (stray remix) – Manchester’s GoGo Penguin deliver a solid old school Jazz trio type of vibe. Playing the kind of breakbeat-ish grooves that got them signed to Blue Note France in 2015. London producer Stray is on board here for the remix. He’s mostly known for his drum n bass and footwork beats, but I think he hooked this up lovely. You can hear more of GoGo’s straight up Jazz LP HERE
Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth – Another song I don’t think I’ve put on mix for 20 years or so. Even better that I just discovered that 24 Carat Black were originally a Cincinnati band called The Ditalians, who released a couple of 45s on the independent Ohio label Saxony around 1966. Saxony had their biggest hit with the all-girl Doo-Wop group, The Teardrops. The Ditalians later hooked up with Dale Warren, who was doing orchestral arrangements for Isaac Hayes and other Motown artists. He convinced them to change their name to 24 Carat Black and record their only album, a concept record about life in the ghetto. Sampled heavily in the early 90s, it was impossible to find for many years. I managed to pick it up when it was reissued in 1995.
Tropical Eel – this new nugget of afro funk is the B-side to Jimi Tenor’s latest 45 on Philophon. Jimi is a Helsinki-based multi-instrumentalist who dabbles in house music, Astral Jazz, and Funk and lots of grey areas in between. He was putting out stuff on Warp Records in the late 90s / early 2000s. The drums on this shit are so fucking crispy and bangin’ I want to drink mescal and start throwing furniture out of a hotel window.
Learn To Fly – I came across New Zealand by way of London one-man-band Jordan Rakei last year and just immediately dug his vibe. Here he teams up with 20-something Parisian DJ and producer FKJ, which stands for French Kiwi Juice. Alrighty then. FKJ is Vincent Fenton, a cinema sound engineer that’s been building a name for himself for the last 5 years or so. I first heard this track in the background at a bar and for a second I wondered if Raphael Saadiq had gotten back to making dope R&B. Well, at least somebody is.
Streetwise – Just some atmospheric beats from the UK’s Jamie Taylor aka Homebrew Technology. This came out on his 2013 LP “Moving In Different Directions”, which features a lot of densely layered trip-hoppy stuff like this, if that’s your bag (baby).
First Impressions – We had our first official Chinese New Years dinner at our apartment recently, and this song inadvertently arrived on my turntable. I had dug out an old vinyl compilation from 1992 called “Soul Jazz Loves Strata East”, which turned out to be sort of a rosetta stone of Astral Jazz for me back then. It featured so many songs I had heard deeper collectors than me spin – but I had never owned myself. Pharaoh Sanders, The Heath Brothers, Clifford Jordan, and this very track from 1974 by Shamek Farrah. He made his name in the NY loft scene of the late 60s, playing with cats like Carlos Garnett and Walter Davis Jr, both heavy sidemen in the 70s fusion days and beyond. Without records like these there would have been no Dilla, no Tribe Called Quest, no Erykah Badu. Listen and you’ll see what I mean.
One Step Ahead – Just the simplicity and clarity of Aretha’s voice and this 1967 track really makes you wonder how we let music get so dense and over-produced. If I was smart I would have let the whole track play, but the club DJ instinct in me urges me to keep the floor moving, so I dropped the Featurecast edit of this track from 2013. It’s not rocket science. Take the original and give it a little Mos Def oomph and add some choice vocal samples and BOOM you’re done. But it works.
Black Focus – Speaking of Astral Jazz (again), there’s been a real upsurge of dudes flying the flag, but adding in flavors from their own Hip Hop roots. Kamasi Washington. Josef Leimberg. Robert Glasper. And now Yussef Kamaal – who is actually two people: London’s Yussef Dayes and Kamaal Williams. They released their debut album on Brownswood this past fall and it’s pretty damn dope. PEEP IT
You’re The Man (rvp EDIT) – a semi-slept-on outtake from Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” LP. It later appeared on different deluxe re-issues and boxed sets. Apparently he had planned to make it the title track of the follow up album, but shelved it for unknown reasons, waiting 3 more years before releasing the equally stellar “I Want You”. I start out here with the second outtake version, then edit in a slightly beefed up 4-on-the-floor edit done by rvp (whoever that is?).
It’s Your World – Just another perfect song from one of my true heroes, Gil Scott Heron. This is the title track to his amazing 1976 album that contains both studio recordings from Electric Lady and some incredible live performances from St Paul’s Mall in Boston. Though so much of his work was dark and fiercely political, when he wanted to flip things, Gil could be downright life affirming. Black Panther, Marxist revolutionary bank robber, and all around badass brother Bilal Sunni Ali tearing it up on saxophone.
Behold The Day – a sprinkling of straight up Latin Jazz from 1968 with The Freedom Sounds, a west coast Jazz collective led by trombonist Wayne Henderson, from their 2nd album, “Soul Sound System’. It has a real “1960-what 1960-who” sound to me, if you know what I mean…
Melting Pot – I just came across this scorching Booker T cover by The Underground Vegetables aka The Soul Defenders – basically the Funk Brothers/MG’s of Jamaica. They were the house band at Studio One forever, and included cats like Joseph Hill on percussion, who later founded the great roots reggae band Culture. Apparently Coxsone Dodd came up with the name Underground Vegetables, to give them a fresh start when this dropped in 1971. The drums were mixed kinda low, so I beefed them up a bit for this mix cuz that’s how I do.
Parental Square ’79 (crackazat remix) – Just some incredibly-funked up broken beat from Vienna group JBSL, who originally released this sounding very differently in 2008. This is a remix done by Swedish upstart Crackazat, and MAN did he put his foot in it. For some of his more recent work, check his Soundcloud
Run Sa – So yeah I guess i went heavy into Jazz territory on the latter half of this mix. This is ATL’s Byron the Aquarius. The guy beating the living shit out of those drums is Dimitri Walker. I guess I must be getting old LOL, cuz these days, it’s smooth head-nodder cuts like this that get me AMPED as fuck. Seriously. This came out about a year ago on Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature label.
Am Fenster -One final bit of deep house smoothness from Berlin’s Max Graef & Danish duo Muff Deep. I cannot place the vocal samples and it’s bothering me to no end. Sounds kinda like Diana Ross but I just don’t know. Holla at me! And thanks for listening!