Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Vinyl junkies swarm K Rd - Police call for calm.
Heard about this? First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet, happening in AK this weekend.
"Designed expressly for record music enthusiasts, The First Annual DJ Record Swap Meet is a revolutionary concept and a true chance for big name and bedroom record spinners to unite and gain new tracks. Finally, a unique occasion to swap/ buy/ sell and trade records, flipping through the crates of your friends and favourite DJ’s collections in search of elusive electric gems.

• 12NOON - 6.00pm, February 19 at The Studio, 340 K Rd, Auckland City
• Heineken are bringing to the party Found@thirst winners Matt Harris and Javed Haider to perform
• Tickets ONLY $5 available on the door!! Guarantee your place by registering your name and contact details to to be in to win fantastic prizes
• Free gift for first 500 registered" Via

So, two double-oh five is the year I get to see George Clinton and Parliament, AND Grandmaster Flash, live. Damn! Me so happy!

Missing in Acton.
"Every so often, the GBs like to give some shine to those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine (i.e. The Man) puffing them up to ridiculous heights that no one could live up to. There's a whole world of untapped, unnoticed talent out there just waiting for some kind of recognition — an opportunity to prove that, yes, there's more to music than what you see on eMpTyV (haha ... I just made that up) or hear on the ray-D'-oh (not as clever, but it's hard to top the MTV one).

In the past, we put you on to such hidden gems as Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, Lil Jon, Cam'ron, and most recently The Game (it took forever for us to convince people that he was an actual person, and not a thing). Now we have yet another mumbling, accented, not-really-rapper to present to you, the discerning music fan: Maya Arulpragasam, also known to us (and soon the world) as M.I.A. The most important thing you need to know about this new artist is, she is totally hot! And totally not white!"

Gossiping Bitches New Artist Spotlight...Dissecting M.I.A. (tip of the hat to funkdigital)
I like the bit suggesting that M.I.A. is one of "those struggling artists who don't have the luxury of the media hype machine" - if you Google her, you'll discover she has management representation from William Morris Agency, one of the most influential actors/musicians management companies on the planet. And then there's all the heat she's getting from the indie bloggers... perhaps because she's hot, as the GBs point out.

Chris Rock, Oscars host, not a fan, however...
"Come on, it's a fashion show," he added. "What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don't recognise comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?"

All that jazz
Not too sure about lettin RJD2 loose on Astrid Gilberto, but the previous two Verve Remixed comps have thrown up some gems, so who knows? Out April 5 in the US.

Via Billboard... Here is the track list for "Verve Remixed 3":
"Little Girl Blue (Postal Service remix)," Nina Simone
"Speak Low (Bent remix)," Billie Holiday
"Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL remix)," Anita O'Day
"Fever (Adam Freeland remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Come Dance With Me (Sugardaddy remix)," Shirley Horn
"Just One of Those Things (Brazilian Girls remix)," Blossom Dearie
"The Gentle Rain (RJD2 remix)," Astrud Gilberto
"Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley remix)," Sarah Vaughan
"Stay Loose (Lyrics Born remix)," Jimmy Smith
"The Boy's Doin' It (Carl Craig remx)," Hugh Masekela
"Lilac Wine (the Album Leaf remix)," Nina Simone
"Yesterdays (Junior Boys remix)," Billie Holiday
"Baby, Did You Hear? (Danger Mouse remix)," Dinah Washington

Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Jeff Chang's book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation arrived at stores in the US February 2nd. I ordered a copy thru and it arrived last Friday. I spent a better part of the weekend dipping into it, and it's a fantastic read. The book is due for publication downunder in April, but if you can't wait, hit Amazon. The book's cover lists the retail as $US27.95, but Amazon have it for about $18. I landed it here for $US30 including shipping.

"From the gangs of the late 60s to the icons of the new millennium, from the Ghetto Brothers and Universal Zulu Nation organizations to the Hip-Hop activists, Can't Stop Won't Stop presents the Hip-Hop generation in all its grime and glory with breadth, wit and style. Featuring an introduction by the father of Hip-Hop, DJ Kool Herc, Can't Stop Won't Stop is based on original interviews with DJs, dancers, rappers, graffiti writers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of Hip-Hop's forebears, founders, and mavericks."

There's a bunch of press about the book at Chang's site, lotsa quotes from famous people like DJ Shadow and Mike Davis, plus more reading, including the excerpt below. It's long, but it gives you an idea of just how essential this book is, rather than me blathering about it. If you've ever had a passing interest in hiphop or black music, you need to check this book.

"Chapter 4: Making A Name
How DJ Kool Herc Lost His Accent And Started Hip-Hop

...the logic is an extension rather than a negation. Alias, a.k.a.; the names describe
a process of loops. From A to B and back again.
--Paul D. Miller

It has become myth, a creation myth, this West Bronx party at the end of the summer in 1973. Not for its guests--a hundred kids and kin from around the way, nor for the setting--a modest recreation room in a new apartment complex; not even for its location--two miles north of Yankee Stadium, near where the Cross-Bronx Expressway spills into Manhattan. Time remembers it for the night DJ Kool Herc made his name.

The plan was simple enough, according to the party's host, Cindy Campbell. "I was saving my money, because what you want to do for back to school is go down to Delancey Street instead of going to Fordham Road, because you can get the newest things that a lot of people don't have. And when you go back to school, you want to go with things that nobody has so you could look nice and fresh," she says. "At the time my Neighborhood Youth Corps paycheck was like forty-five dollars a week--ha!--and they would pay you every two weeks. So how am I gonna turn over my money? I mean, this is not enough money!"

Cindy calculated it would cost a little more than half her paycheck to rent the rec room in their apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. Her brother, whom she knew as Clive but everyone else knew as Kool Herc, was an aspiring DJ with access to a powerful sound system. All she had to do was bulk-buy some Olde English 800 malt liquor, Colt 45 beer, and soda, and advertise the party.

She, Clive, and her friends hand-wrote the announcements on index cards, scribbling the info below a song title like "Get on the Good Foot" or "Fencewalk." If she filled the room, she could charge a quarter for the girls, two for the guys, and make back the overhead on the room. And with the profit--presto, instant wardrobe.

Clive had been DJing house parties for three years. Growing up in Kingston, Jamaica, he had seen the sound systems firsthand. The local sound was called Somerset Lane, and the selector's name was King George. Clive says, "I was too young to go in. All we could do is sneak out and see the preparation of the dance throughout the day. The guys would come with a big old handcart with the boxes in it. And then in the night time, I'm a little itchy headed, loving the vibrations on the zinc top 'cause them sound systems are powerful.

"We just stay outside like everybody else, you know, pointing at the gangsters as they come up, all the famous people. And at the time they had the little motorcycles, Triumphs and Hondas. Rudeboys used to have those souped up. They used to come up four and five six deep, with them likkle ratchet knife," Clive says. He still remembers the crowd's buzz when Claudie Massop arrived at a local dance one night. He wanted to be at the center of that kind of excitement, to be a King George.

Cindy and Clive's father, Keith Campbell, was a devoted record collector, buying not only reggae, but American jazz, gospel, and country. They heard Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole, even Nashville country crooner Jim Reeves. "I remember listening to Jim Reeves all the time," Clive says. "I was singing these songs and emulating them to the fullest. That really helped me out, changing my accent, is singing to the records."

In the Bronx, his mother, Nettie, would take him to house parties, which had the same ambrosial effect on him that the sound systems had. "I see the different guys dancing, guys rapping to girls, I'm wondering what the guy is whisperin' in the girl's ears about. I'm green, but I'm checking out the scene," he recalls. "And I noticed a lot of the girls was complaining, 'Why they not playing that record?' 'How come they don't have that record?' 'Why did they take it off right there?'" He began buying his own 45s, waiting for the day he could have his own sound system.

As luck would have it, Keith Campbell became a sponsor for a local rhythm and blues band, investing in a brand new Shure P.A. system for the group. Clive's father was now their soundman, and the band wanted somebody to play records during intermission. Keith told them he could get his son. But Clive had started up his own house party business, and somehow his gigs always happened to fall at the same times as the band's, leaving Keith so angry he refused to let Clive touch the system. "So here go these big columns in my room, and my father says, 'Don't touch it. Go and borrow Mr. Dolphy's stuff,'" he says. "Mr. Dolphy said, 'Don't worry Clive, I'll let you borrow some of these.' In the back of my mind, Jesus Christ, I got these big Shure columns up in the room!"

At the same time, his father was no technician. They all knew the system was powerful, but no one could seem to make it peak. Another family in the same building had the same system and seemed to be getting more juice out of it, but they wouldn't let Keith or Clive see how they did it. "They used to put a lot of wires to distract me from chasing the wires," he says.

One afternoon, fiddling around on the system behind his father's back, Clive figured it out. "What I did was I took the speaker wire, put a jack onto it and jacked it into one of the channels, and I had extra power and reserve power. Now I could control it from the preamp. I got two Bogart amps, two Girard turntables, and then I just used the channel knobs as my mixer. No headphones. The system could take eight mics. I had an echo chamber in one, and a regular mic to another. So I could talk plain and, at the same time, I could wait halfway for the echo to come out.

"My father came home and it was so loud he snuck up behind me," he remembers. Clive's guilt was written all over his face. But his father couldn't believe it.

Keith yelled, "Where the noise come from?"

"This is the system!"

Keith said, "What! Weh you did?"

"This is what I did,'" Clive recalls telling his father, revealing the hookup. "And he said, 'Raas claat, man! We 'ave sound!!!'

"So now the tables turned. Now these other guys was trying to copy what I was doing, because our sound is coming out monster, monster!" Clive says. "Me and my father came to a mutual understanding that I would go with them and play between breaks and when I do my parties, I could use the set. I didn't have to borrow his friend's sound system anymore. I start making up business cards saying 'Father and Son.' And that's how it started, man! That's when Cindy asked me to do a back-to-school party. Now people would come to this party and see these big-ass boxes they never seen before."

It was the last week in August of 1973. Clive and his friends brought the equipment down from their second floor apartment and set up in the room adjacent to the rec room. "My system was on the dance floor, and I was in a little room watching, peeking out the door seeing how the party was going," he says.

It didn't start so well. Clive played some dancehall tunes, ones guaranteed to rock any yard dance. Like any proud DJ, he wanted to stamp his personality onto his playlist. But this was the Bronx. They wanted the breaks. So, like any good DJ, he gave the people what they wanted, and dropped some soul and funk bombs. Now they were packing the room. There was a new energy. DJ Kool Herc took the mic and carried the crowd higher.

"All people would hear is his voice coming out from the speakers," Cindy says. "And we didn't have no money for a strobe light. So what we had was this guy named Mike. When Herc would say, 'Okay, Mike! Mike with the lights!', Mike flicked the light switch. He got paid for that."

By this point in the night, they probably didn't need the atmospherics. The party people were moving to the shouts of James Brown, turning the place into a sweatbox. They were busy shaking off history, having the best night of their generation's lives.

Later, as Clive and Cindy counted their money, they were giddy. This party could be the start of something big, they surmised. They just couldn't know how big."

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Download this!
"New Telepathics is the brainchild of Darryn Harkness, brought into being with the assistance of Sandy Mill and Tom Fielding. Together they have created a melting pot of afro-beat, soul, jazz, funk and house - similar in vibe to the west London broken beat sound or that of the Tru Thoughts / Quantic output.

Their live set is never the same, with improvisation and rythmic complexity the key. The band includes 2 drum kits, 2 bass players, keyboards, horns, vocals, and a theramin! Darryn's other project is the rock band Serafin, who are signed to PIAS/Sony and have spent the summer touring with Frank Black of the Pixies. Sandy Mill has worked with a host of musical stars, from Gary Numan and Placebo to Basement Jaxx and Dick Johnson. She is probably best known, though, for her vocals for Lofty and Bob Jones's East West Connection."

Two wicked tunes for free, over here.
Fossilized Kris Kross Website Unearthed by Archeologists
"Behold the anthropological marvel of this ancient Kris Kross website, miraculously preserved by Sony Music in its original state since 1996. Gaze in wonderment at the monstrously pixelated graphics! The downloadable AIFF files!! The seizure-inducing backgrounds!
Let's see how long it takes Sony to wake up now and delete these pages." via Jay Smooth...

from Pop-life... "Normally, Kanye West has the stage presence of a spelling bee announcer. But last night, Kanye (and his church dancers) deserved an award for that exhilarating performance. He probably was wired with adrenaline after praying on national television to win the Best New Artist award, only to demonstrate his complete disappointment when he lost. (Apparently, Jesus walks with hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers, and even Maroon 5.) Yes, Kanye was robbed. But on second thought, I like Kanye and don't want him to end up in the same class as Hootie & The Blowfish, Milli Vanilli, and the Starland Vocal Band." More Grammy roundup here.

TVOne managed some brief snippets on the news last night of the Grammys, including some bogus line about Kanye West (sounded like Kenny West when the presenter said it tho) being pipped for best new artist by Maroon 5, but hang on, Kanye won 3 awards (including Best Rap Album), right? Didn't rate a mention. Sigh, the mainstream. Check Funkdigital for a link to Kanye's speech, absolute genius. "I plan to celebrate and scream and pop Champagne every chance I get because I'M AT THE GRAMMYS, BABY!"

ADDED: Kiwis at the Grammys - Alan Broadbent missed out on Best Jazz Instrumental Solo record (that went to some guy named Herbie Hancock), Steriogram were up for best video but that went to U2 - Steriogram were reported as looking forward to going to the Grammys and meeting U2 - networking for Jesus? Fran Walsh won Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media with Annie Lennox and Howard Shore, and LOTR-ROTK won Best Movie Soundtrack.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Coolfer is blogging the Grammys live, check it.

"Record Revival" examines how DJ culture and vinyl afficianados have kept alive the record format. Stores have expanded vinyl sections, and bands that a few years ago shunned vinyl are releasing LPs to go along with their CDs.

"CDs far and away rake in the lion's share of sales, but vinyl records have a dedicated following that have kept sales steady, said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of Jupiter Research. In 2003, 746 million CDs were shipped, compared with 1.5 million LP/EPs. At the half-year mark in 2004, 329 million CDs were shipped compared with 700,000 LP/EPs, indicating the vinyl format is holding firm as CD sales could be experiencing declines, said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. 'Vinyl aficionados never went away,' Gartenberg said." Via Coolfer

From funkdigital... "I did some dumpster diving yesterday. The Mecca is good for that. Location was E. 7th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. I took a lunch break to head up to the E. Village heading over to Turntable Lab. Got some hotness but had to put that Pete Rock extras down. They wanted $20 buck for it on vinyl, of course, so I had to be like "that's awight, son."
Anyway, coming back down 7th I eyed this white chick on top of a dumpster like she ws playing king of the hill. She's riffling through vinyl records. Aww shit. It's on now. The $1 used record shop that was there went out of business. So on that street me and her are going through it. Not alot of much. I told her to pass me any joint with black faces. She did. I got Harry Belafonte w/ Miriam Makeeba, Stevie Wonder, Kool & The Gang and a few others. Well worth the dirt I got on my coat.
image above courtesy of Satan's Laundromat