Spotify Playlist: Let the Beat Build #7: June 2013
Diversions: LTBB #7 Diversions
1. “A Message From The Meters” - The Meters. JW: “Like birds of a feather, let’s get it together.” Last month was tricky. In fairness, we were overwhelmed with wrapping up the year, finals, the show and making The Racist Door come to life. But also forcing new music is a useful but difficult challenge. Right now, I just feel like finding funky, dope, bad ass music to make a playlist that I’ll always go back to. The Meters make me feel this way. Strut on.
2. “I Changed My Mind” - Quannum Projects. KW: Hit them hard. This is my jam. That’s Lyrics Born again, getting nasty. The band reminds me of Check Your Head era Beastie Boys.
3. “I Got The...” - Labi Siffre. JW: This is for the G’s. This is for the Hustlas. This is for the Hustlas, now back to the G’s.” 18 songs sample this song. “Gz and Hustlas”, “Can It Be All So Simple”, “My Name Is...” and tracks from Jay-Z, Atmosphere, The Beatnuts, Shaquille O’Neal and so forth. That’s mega. Someday I will make a song that gets sampled so heavily Girl Talk will only chop up versions of my one song.
4. “Morning After Midnight” - Adam Green. KW: And then there were more horns! Hey now little lady! Something about horns, they can really turn the groove up to 11. I like how these horns are mad 1970s studio, like you might hear on a Nilsson or Lennon record.
5. “Fresh Garbage” - Spirit. JW: My friend’s dad had “that” LP collection that was so deep and vast that when CD’s came around he did whatever he could to replicate it on disk. We of course never listened to LP’s, which is sad now. But we dove it with the classics we were looking for, the Doors, Led Zepplin, Hendrix. But then we started poking around. Like an A.D.D., MTV, Mall-era facsimile of crate-digging, we would create our own cover art taxonomy of judging a book by it’s cover. Enter Spirit. The merits of a title like “Fresh Garbage” speak for themselves. Did I mention we were 14? Anyway, I’ve yet to meet a music head old enough to listen to Spirit when they were new and have them tell me where they fit into a world of Jefferson Airplane, Sabbath, Three Dog Night and whatever. But like Rare Earth, they are a kept secret of Classic Rock. Now explain this song for me please. KW: I feel like I’ve heard this song before, but I can’t place it.
6. “She Caught the Katy (And Left Me a Mule To Ride)” - Taj Mahal. KW: My parents have a huge vinyl record collection--a huge console stereo with turntable was the first thing they bought together. Some of my early memories of music are listening to Beatles on vinyl, E.L.O., Dr. Seuss books (in particular the Zero Mostel Grinch), stuff like that. One record I remember very well is The Blues Brothers soundtrack, which opens with a cover of “She Caught the Katy.” When I think of putting a needle on a record, that’s the record that comes to mind. I read somewhere recently that “She Caught the Katy” was John Belushi’s favorite song. I’d believe it. I love the Blues Brothers’ version so much it’s hard to imagine liking the original more. But I’m calling it: it’s a tie. The Taj Mahal original is damn fine music.
7. “They Want EFX” - Das EFX. JW: Blues Brothers. Minnie The Moocher. Cab Calloway. Scat. Freestyle. Jibberish. Onomatopoeia. Call and Response. They want EFX. Some live EFX. “A babaloo, ooh, a babaloo boogedy boo. I went from Gucci to Stussy, to fliggedy-flam a groupie. To Zsa Zsa, to yibbedy-yabba dabba hoochie koochie.” This is all at, and then some...
8. “Flawless” - Phife Dawg. KW: Holdin’ your nutz motherfuckaz. I remember when this came out, I got a call from my friend who was like “shit have you heard the Phife track? motherfucker is mad.” As soon as I heard your EFX track, I knew it was time to drop the updated version of that whole era. Phife killed it on this track. And the motherfucker is mad about it, talking shit about rap videos and R&B singers over bullshit tracks. That’s hip hop. Motherfuckers. (Aside: great use of the word “motherfucker” on this track. It’s up there with the king of the word, Perry Farrell. Have I mentioned this before?)
9. “Rappers, Rappers, Rappers” - Aceyalone. JW: Hip Hop calling out Hip Hop should look like this. Not “No Scrubs” or “Wanksta”. Jeru the Damaja, KRS-ONE, Del The Funky Homosapien = YES. Keeping it real means being real, not acting street. And being real doesn’t negate innate toughness. These guys (Acey, Phife) represent what independent rap can be. You shouldn’t only need to be selling tapes out of your trunk to block out A&R, Marketing and Major Label commodification. Preach on Phife. Preach on Aceyalone:
This goes out to all you shallow rappers
Spit-and-swallow rappers, hollow rappers
Love-to-follow rappers, Apollo rappers
And rah-rah rappers, yeah, all that, yeah
To all you Big Willie rappers, silly rappers
'My-mack-milli' rappers, smoke-a-Philly rappers
Illy-illy, killy-killy rappers
Not really rappers
Yeah, all you signed rappers
Crime rappers, 'I'm-in-my-prime' rappers
Part-time rappers, one of a kind rappers, too
Yeah, you wanna go around the world, but you got a half tank
You wanna paint a perfect picture but ain't got no paint
10. “Anti-Music Song” - The Mountain Goats. KW: Darnielle gets raw on (I think) Counting Crows, Lenny Kravitz, Morrissey, Brian Wilson, and others who are harder to identify. Someone had to say it. This is my jam, even though I like most of those artists. Plus I first heard this song when I was deepest into Brian Wilson. Years after making this song, Darnielle said he had come around to like Morrissey after all.
11. “North American Scum” - LCD Soundsystem. JW: Haters GON HATE. I was going to move in a list song direction (see: Labels). But nothing diffuses hateraid like some good self hate. Or even better yet, a layered, self-aware criticism of that which appears to others as “self”, but is just a shell. Fuck North Americans. Now more than ever. Based here, best here. We’re stronger than the storm. These colors don’t run. Honk if you love Jesus.
12. “Roadrunner” - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. KW: Here’s a shout-along, a (maybe) tongue-in-cheek love song to Massachusetts. He’s onto something, some deep part of the DNA of America in the Seventies, the boredom of home and the transcendence of music and motion, preferably motion in ridiculous, gas-guzzling, steel, American cars. OK, now you say it Modern Lovers!
13. “U-Mass” - The Pixies. JW: They like the “sleepy west, of the woody east” as well. But this song isn’t really about Massachusetts. It’s also not just about being a lefty in the rural right. It’s essentially a game-time anthem for anyone who grew up in an environment where the status quo was undesirable. Dallas, Houston, Omaha, Columbus, Athens, wherever. People with “alternative” (as the radio station was labeled) interests, beliefs and styles always find a way to gravitate toward each other. It begs the question, “is it better to grow up in an environment like NYC or Dallas?” I’ve asked it a chamillion times. Who knows. What’s better anyway. It was the way it is. I have no regrets. Or, none regarding the things I didn’t choose for myself.
14. “Catch the Man on the Rise” - Sir Douglas Quintet. KW: Doug Sahm internalized his love of little San Antonio, even as he left for San Francisco to join the hippie rock scene and wander the world. He talked about this in many of his songs, probably most directly in “Texas Me.” I could have dropped that track, it would have been so easy. But instead I found this wicked Sir Douglas Quintet rock stomper that I’d never heard before. I’d believe it if someone told me this was a brand new song. It reminds me of something you might hear from Loose Fur. Aside: I got into Doug Sahm via Uncle Tupelo’s “Give Back The Key To My Heart”--classic. Retrospective aside: Maybe I should have dropped “Smalltown” by Lou Reed & John Cale. “I hate being odd in a small town--if they stare, let them stare in New York City.”
15. “Steve Biko (Stir It Up) - A Tribe Called Quest. JW: Afrika Bambaataa, AMG, Ant Banks, Awesome Two, Beastie Boys (Mike D, Adrock, MCA), Black Moon, Busta Rhymes, Casual, Chi Ali, Chuck D, Cold Crush Brothers (Almighty KG, Charlie Chase, Easy AD, Grandmaster Caz, DJ Tony Tone), Daddy-O (of Stetsasonic), Dallas Austin, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Diamond D, Doug E. Fresh, De La Soul (Posdunos, Dave & Mase), DJ Jazzy Joyce, Kool DJ Red Alert, DJ Ron G, DJ Silver D, Dr. Dre, Grandmaster Flash, Heavy D, Ice-T, Jazzy Jay, Jungle Brothers (Afrika Baby Bam, Mike G), DJ Kid Capri, Kool Moe Dee, Large Professor, Lords of the Underground, MC Lyte, MC Serch, Neek the Exotic, Organized Konfusion, The Pharcyde (Fat Lip, Imani, Romye, Slim Kid Tre'), Pete Nice, Rashad Smith, Rock Steady Crew (Crazy Legs, Mr. Wiggles, Pee Wee Dance, Ruel), Sean Combs, Skeff Anselm, Souls of Mischief, Special Ed, Sweet Tee, Too Short, Whodini (Grandmaster Dee), Zulu Nation Supreme Council (Zulu King Muhammad, Unknown)
16. “Sound System” - Operation Ivy. KW: I hear Tribe and I think of NYC. I first heard them right when I got to New York, and “Linden Boulevard represent represent-sent” was definitely my introduction to Tribe. Here’s maybe something that is all Berkeley, the all age DIY punk party equivalent of jammin’ in the park in Queens in front of a sound system.
17. “Tonz ‘O’ Gunz” - Gang Starr. JW: DIY punk parties in Berkeley got NUTHIN on Jewish Fraternity Thursday Burgers ‘N Beer parties in South Central Los AAAANgeles. While the Sigma Nu’s rocked out down the block to Op Ivy, Pennywise and Sublime, the 28th St. M.O.T. Crew pumped Gang Starr out the window. That was where and how I first heard Gang Starr, and it changed my entire year. I walked upstairs, and asked Bromley (the guy who years later would introduce me to Tanya) what was that unbelievable track. That
18. “Things Done Changed” - Notorious B.I.G. KW: “I hear you motherfuckers talk about it, but I still see bodies with the motherfuckin’ chalk around it.” I’m reminded of this quote from a great opinion piece written on the day of the Newtown school shooting: “Once you have guns in circulation, in significant numbers, I suspect that specific controls on things like automatic weapons or large magazines can have only marginal effects. Once lots of other people have guns, it becomes rational for you to want your own too.” But I’m also reminded of so many good times listening to this album, in my freshman year dorm room, at countless parties, or barbecuing on the rooftop of my apartment in Brooklyn. There was a time when B.I.G. was like air in NYC, his music was everywhere.
19. “N.Y. State of Mind” - Nas JW: If B.I.G. is the air you inhale, Nas is the air you exhale. Also an album opener, NYSM was instantly a classic. It sounds like a soundtrack to a movie that samples movie soundtracks. And it reads like 64 vignettes of 32 movies. This song is at the top of my working thesis: Why Hip Hop Didn’t Suck In 1994. Illmatic, Ready to Die, Hard To Earn, Ill Communication, Ressurection, Southernplayalisticadillacmusik. Formative albums both for the immediate future of Hip Hop and for the near future of the artists themselves.
20. “Super Sharp Shooter” - Ganja Kru. KW: I taped this off the radio when I was in high school, back when Houston had an incredible live drum and bass program every weekend in the middle of the night. Anyway, drum and bass back then was loaded with Wu-Tang samples, it was obvious that something amazing was going on in NY and London. We felt pretty far away from all that in Houston, but we jammed the hell out of tracks like this when we were smart/quick/lucky enough to catch them. Sing it with me kids: the S, the U, the P, the E, the R.