Aug 18, 2014

Dubny & DJ Solespin at Le Bleury (Reverberations) (August 26, 2014)

I was very excited to announce my spinning at the Le Bleury 2nd Anniversary party in June.

I have another opportunity to spin a great dose of music on vinyl for the appreciative crowd at Le Bleury.

I'll be filling in for Death of Vinyl's Dan Hadley and spinning with Denis Fourny aka Dubny at their Reverberations monthly night at Le Bleury from as early as 8pm on August 26, 2014.

This upcoming night of Reverberations will be a great way of continuing the 2 year celebration of incredible music at Le Bleury where musicians, local or otherwise, as well as guest DJs kick start your night out or weekend the right way! 

Expect to hear the sounds of reggae, dub, funk, rock, hip hop and soul to take you to another level!

Le Bleury is at 2109 Bleury in between Sainte-Catherine & Sherbrooke Street.  

Aug 17, 2014

Dr. Bob Jones - Stop & Listen Volume 1


Prior blog posts about Andy Smith’s The Document, The Rapture’s !K7 Tapes mixtape and the Beat Generation series would prepare one for this one.

BBE is one of my favorite record labels. It has put out fantastic compilations that managed to educate and entertain me for over a decade. When I learned of the Stop & Listen compilations, I saw them as various top producers and compilers’ choice cuts they deemed worthy for us to hear.

The majority of the songs on all of the Stop & Listen volumes were foreign to me but I knew they surely would be worth listening to and could very well become my next favorite songs.

I don't remember where I found a used vinyl copy of Stop & Listen Volume 1 but I was thrilled to have acquired it. It was my first and only BBE vinyl release added to my collection.

I only recently realized I have reached for that Stop & Listen compilation very often in DJ sets, adding to its used quality.

The CDs of Stop &Listen 1-3 crossed my purchasing path and I brought them home with me. A few days ago, I popped in and listened to the Volume 1 CD

Dr. Bob Jones was the first to compile the Stop & Listen series. Although I am very familiar with the compilations' track listing, I never heard it from beginning to end until a few months ago.

The coherence of the compilations' cuts came through after the initial first listen. The jazz & soul side of Jones is strongly represented with the songs he chose, regardless of the era in which the songs were recorded.

Aug 16, 2014

Heavy D & The Boyz

I remember being briefly on Twitter after work and just as I was about to log out, I read Fashawn’s R.I.P. Heavy D tweet. The expected denial kicked in amidst the flood of tweets stating what Fashawn said. I quickly went to Wikipedia but they had nothing confirming his death. I then went to Google and there was word of his death. I returned to Twitter for even more Heavy D tweets to greet me and the sadness kicked in.

It had been a while since I thought or saw anything related to Heavy D. With the exception of passing my Big Tyme vinyl while looking for records to use on my radio show, I hadn’t played his music in a long time. I did hear him a lot while I was watching my In Living Color DVDs days before his death.

When I learned of his death, I thought of the positivity and optimism he brought to hip hop. Who else would recruit over half a dozen of the hottest early 90s rappers for a classic posse cut called Don’t Curse of all songs? Heavy D never gave in to that or the negative elements that have surrounded the culture.

Going back to In Living Color and even Mad-TV, who else in hip hop had the vibe needed for theme songs of the two hip hop centred sketch comedy shows?

As I think about him now, I realize that he managed to bring the Jamaican roots of hip hop to the music a bit more than some of his contemporaries. As a youth, I saw music from the West Indies as old folks’ music and lacking the cool factor of anything Prince, Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie did at the time. KRS-One, Just-Ice and a handful of other Golden Era MCs chanted in their songs but they were more geared to the underground in their delivery. In the early 90s when reggae artists like Shabba Ranks, Tiger, Mad Cobra and Supercat were making more mainstream strides, Heavy D helped make it cool for me to acknowledge and appreciate the music and culture of my West Indian roots. I will be eternally grateful to Heavy D for that.

I am saddened by the news of Heavy D’s passing. He was not one I would have expected or wanted to leave us so soon.

When one reflects on his contributions to hip hop culture and the fact that he is no longer with us, one mourns the nostalgia of hip hop’s past and what-could-have-been.

Hip hop has needed some optimism and positivity for a while just as I have needed to feel optimistic and positive about it. Thankfully Heavy D’s legacy gives us a source for that anytime we want.

R.I.P. & Thank you Hevster and Trouble T-Roy.

Guilty Simpson - Ode To The Ghetto

Guilty Simpson did the equivalent of knocking me out lyrically when I heard him.

Simpson became one of my favorite rappers after one listen of his debut album, Ode To The Ghetto, and the guest appearances I've heard over the last few years.

I haven't heard rhymes and delivery like his since Sean Price who too is one of my hip hop go-to guys.

There's a lot of bullshit in the world and in hip hop. Simpson's dirty, don't-care flow is the closest I can get when I want the real, no-frills hip hop.

His take no prisoners; no holding back delivery is what I need from hip hop. He might be too gutter or raw for some to handle but I’ll take more real over fake any day.

Aug 15, 2014

DJ Afrika Bambaataa - Under Pressure (August 2014)

The Commodores told us Three Times a Lady many years ago. This blogger got exposed to Afrika Bambaataa on numerous recent occasions leading him to write this post.

I came across a write-up about Afrika Bambaataa which talks about how he got inspired after seeing Michael Caine's 1964 film Zulu.

I remember Wilt Chamberlain's character in Conan The Destroyer was named Bombaata.

While doing some cleaning and organizing of music & magazines, I popped in the last volume of James Brown's Star Time anthology. 

Coincidence or not, the last song on the CD is the James Brown/Bambaataa duet Unity.

Afrika Bambaataa & James Brown ◘ Unity by Audiomicid

Another piece of the puzzle was my later popping in the first volume of The Perfect Beats, one of the best compilations I know.

The first song on that disc and of the 3-volume collection is the iconic Planet Rock. I didn't really learn the magnitude of Planet Rock until many years after its 1982 release.

When I first saw video footage of Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, the first thing that came to my mind was George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic. I had little exposure to the 1970s funk legends at that time but I imagined the costumes and pageantry of Planet Rock was inspired by Clinton's Parliament.

Like Herbie Hancock's Rockit and most synthesized music of the 1980s, Planet Rock was among the most futuristic music my young ears had ever heard and forms the foundation for what I like in electro/RPM music today.

On a 1998 trip to New York for Rock Steady Reunion with my crew, we met Afrika Bambaataa at a Bronx park jam. I was the first to spot him and went to shake the hand of the man and thanked him for his contributions to hip hop.

One Saturday 2013 summer afternoon, I was sitting in my comfy chair listening to music.  I reached for my phone and browsed Facebook to see what was what.  To my great surprise was a post in one of my crate digger/record collector groups about Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection.

Something I read in the Ego Trip Book of Rap Lists has stuck with me since the first time I read the book in the late 1990s.  Aside from recording classics like Planet RockAfrika Bambaataa’s record collection from his time as DJ is considered to be one of the most important, if not the most important, of hip hop history.  So much so that claims of his possessing ultra-rare records were called into question.  As interesting and intriguing as that was for me to learn that about his record collection, I had no means of investigating the matter. 

Fast-forward to summer 2013 and I see that post about Afrika Bambaataa’s records being on display on exhibit until early August. 

My mind raced at the possibility of going to New York to view the Archive.  I looked at my itinerary for the days leading up to the August 10 finale and realized it was feasible if I cancelled my Suite Delight radio show for that week.  Anyone that knows enough about me knows I don’t miss my radio show.  Considering the time constraints presented me with regards to witnessing the Archive, it didn’t take me too long to come to grips with the magnitude of my decision. 

The bus ticket along with snacks and other incidentals were bought and brought with me.  I arrived in The Big Apple early enough in the morning to visit some familiar crate digging haunts until the Gavin Brown Enterprise opened for the day.  I got slightly carried away with the record stores and reminded myself what I came to New York for in the first place and proceeded to find the exhibit.

I knew which subway stop to get out of but I made the mistake of not securing the directions to get to the Gavin Brown Enterprise.  A merchant assured me I was heading in the right direction to get there. 

A man that happened to have been by the door as I entered the Gavin Brown Enterprise told me where in the space the Afrika Bambaataa Archive was being held.  I asked him how he knew I was there for that and he pointed at the records peaking out of the bag in my hand.  We laughed. 

I immediately recognized the space designated for the Afrika Bambaataa Archive from the photos that were available online.  There were white cardboard boxes with letters all over the place.  I understood that each box contained hundreds of records and that I would not be able to photograph/film as much as I had hoped.  I lost an hour or so from the digging earlier and had to deduct the time to get back to Port Authority

I stood at the entrance of the Archive and devised a strategy to maximize the most of the moment.  I thought to first take photos of the space on a whole.  The boxes against the back wall were intimidating because I wouldn’t have been able to browse them all to my satisfaction.  I chose one or two to film/photograph.  The lighting was also not that bright in the area and instinctively I decided to move more to the center of the room. 

Within 30 minutes of being there, I had started to film and photograph in the area of the curators.  I realized I could’ve been an inconvenience to them but my rationale was that I was going to try not to be in their way for too long as to really impede their work.  After having done my equivalent of going into the mosh pit of curators at work, I made do with the outer edges of their work space for the rest of my time at the Enterprise

The photos and videos naturally centralized to where the curators were working.  The lighting was conveniently brighter in the middle of the room. There was a large window adding additional light and the human element of people actively archiving were too ideal for me to ignore.

The curator I came closest into contact with first appeared to have been dealing with Afrika Bambaataa’s records with artists starting with the letter E as documented by the photos.  I saw multiple records and 12” singles by EPMD, The Equals and Edwin Birdsong to name a few.

Another curator was working on the letter K.  As I turned my head, A few Kool Moe Dee 12” singles on his table were being boxed.

I brought 3 cameras with me to film/photograph as much of my time at Gavin Brown's Enterprise as possible that day.  I charged the batteries for all three prior to my arrival in New York.  Within a few hours, each of the camera batteries died significantly.  Little did I know that occurrence was foreshadowing for my own eventual departure from the Archive

The soundtrack for the hours there was naturally provided by the Afrika Bambaataa record collection.  The station with two turntables was indeed open to the public as well.  I didn’t expect to even touch the turntables but some things are indeed a given.  When the Gary Numan album finished it was time for something else to fill the air.  I asked to put something on and a copy of Jimmy Castor Bunch’s It’s Just Begun was nearby.  I love the song and have it multiple times in my own collection.  The album cover was the most beaten up I’d seen of any vinyl but that didn’t matter.  What mattered was I held in my hands a copy of the album used by Afrika Bambaataa to rock hip hop’s earliest parties and jams.  The fact that the cover was so beaten up screams of stories of how much it was packed and played back in the days.  I was not at those early hip hop jams, as much as I wish or imagine them, but being in the room with that record was as close to a time capsule as I had ever encountered.

Admittedly, the time at the Afrika Bambaataa Archive became a little overwhelming for me.  With the exception of record conventions, including WFMU Record Fair where I was working against the clock, I had never been in the presence of so many records for so long without the opportunity to buy one.  Indeed, I turned towards bringing home a few more to add to my own collection before my time in New York was over.  I returned to the same spots I was at earlier in the morning, bought a choice handful of  records and made my way to Port Authority to return home.

The photo of the George Duke 12"single above was taken on August 6, 2013.  I arrived in New York to have heard Duke died the night prior.  

More video footage taken during the Afrika Bambaataa Master of Records Open Archive can be seen at the DJ Solespin Youtube channel.

For additional photos from the Archive, visit the Ego Trip & Complex websites. 

A thank you goes to the Village Voice, Gavin Brown EnterpriseAfrika Bambaataa and especially DJ Furious for being among the elements responsible for making this post, and my impromptu trip out of Montreal for the summer possible. 

I have been hoping for something this year as enriching and memorable as visiting the Afrika Bambataa Records Archive.  I began browsing upcoming New York events and websites but it appeared my run with Bambaataa wasn't over.  Instead of my going to New York for something Bambataaesque, Under Pressure brought Bambaataa to Montreal.   I commemorated this year with one of the hip hop pioneers responsible for me DJing in the first place. 

Check out his Crate Diggers documentary to see where and how the records ended up at Cornell University.