MagnuSoul 45s Vol. 1 – Hot Pants Monkey Dance (Mama Don’t Allow No)

MagnuSoul45s_Vol1

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MagnuSoul45s Vol.1

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of Magnus mixes. I’ll be saying more about all this as soon as I can get my head around it and talk more about the plans for his record (and other) collections. The short version is that on Memorial Day weekend 2013, Brian Coleman and I went on an epic mission to get the remainder of our dear friend’s record collection. That Sunday evening, a group of his friends (many of whom remain active in local college radio!) gathered to begin sorting, organizing, and marveling at his legendary taste.

MagnuSoul45s Vol1 Close

This whole process reaffirmed my core idea that (certain? all?) record collections represent important cultural documents that are worthy of preservation as collections, and reminded me how quickly all these high falutin’ ideas turn into matters of boxes, brute force, and storage space. It also reminded me how records, and record collections, bring people together in a way that digital media just don’t (no, not talking about dance floors here, you know what I mean). As we all sat in the piles and sorted our friend’s records together, we shared (mostly musical) stories about him, marveled at the choices he seemed to have made, and in the process, discovered new connections and paths through places and times we shared with him. As we discussed how (and where) to preserve and continue to share his amazing spirit and musical collection, we agreed that a series of Magnus mixes would be the best way to get started. So that’s just what I have done.

MagnuSoul45s Vol.1 All

One of the greatest things about getting to know his record collection has been realizing how much he loved funk, soul and R&B (especially female fronted northern soul groups). Although this is not that surprising given everything else he liked, we literally never discussed this side of his tastes, spending most of our time on classic rap, world, reggae, jungle, trip hop, electronica, etc. It has been great to get to know this side of him and to continue learning amazing new tunes from him. It’s almost like he were here with me, and in a way, he is. A record collection like this is a great teacher even without a proper tour guide.

As I sorted 45s over the last few weeks, I seemed to keep digging up dance tracks about monkeys, hot pants, funky worms, and family. So I threw em all together in a summer soul 45 mix I call Hot Pants Monkey Dance (Mama Don’t Allow No). Like all my mixes, it’s a crazy quilt with many threads cross cutting it in various directions. But mostly, its just a funky ass soul/funk 45 mix fresh for Summer 2013 c/o our friend Magnus. I hope it heats up your barbecues, beach trips and rec rooms this summer.

MagnuSoul45s Vol1 Funky Worm

TRACKLIST

Ohio Players – Funky Worm
Reparata and the Delrons – Mama Don’t Allow
Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song (clap Pat Clap Slap)
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata
Les Tres Femmes – Listen to Your Mama

MagnuSoul45s Vol1Listen to Your Mama

Norma and the Heartaches – Hot Pants
Ohio Players – Skin Tight
Calhoon – (Do You Wanna) Dance Dance Dance
Bettye Scott and the Del-Vetts – Down, Down, Down
Cameo – Just Be Yourself
Michael LeGrair – Hustle on Down (Pt. 2)

MagnuSoul45s Vol1 Hustle on Down

Otis Redding – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
The T.S.U. Toronadoes – Getting the Corners
The Barkays – Son of Shaft
The Beginning of the End – Monkey Tamarind
Les Cooper andd the Soul Rockers – Let’s do the Boston Monkey

MagnuSoul45s Vol1 Let's Do The Boston Monkey

MagnuSoul45s Monkey Tamarind

The original DMX

…was from Boston?!?! Back before Earl Simmons became known as the NY DMX, a Boston Beatboxer by the same name was tearing up local mics. I had not realized that the DMX we have come to recognize was also originally a beatboxer who got his start around 1984. I guess given the timeline, a DMX vs DMX battle was a possibility. Note to the hip-hop historians: Could we still put this battle together as a follow up to the infamous A-Train vs Solo Battle? (Yeah NYC, we won that one hands down). DMX (NYC) and DMX (Boston), you down?

Anyway, a while back I got a request for some Boston DMX and being the keeper of the tapes, it is my responsibility to provide. Here is the classic DMX/LeCarr routine from the Leccos Lemma show ca. 1986. There are so many amazing things about this routine to me. From the quotation of Trans Europe Express, Inspector Gadget AND the Pink Panther to the huge number of people in the background shouting and cheering along to the whistle beatboxing (which according to A-Train we invented) to the seamless tradeoffs between these cousins, it’s another example of how Boston was right there at the start (and all along really).

DMX LeCarr Spring1986B by LeccosLemma

You want more? Here’s the Beantown Beatbox Extravaganza!

Leccos Lemma Beatbox Extravagana B by LeccosLemma

Respect to Magnus, Willie and Matt (the original Lecco’s Lemma archivists).

Musenomix 3-2-11

Musenomix_3-2-11

On March 2rd, 2011 I joined Dana Scott and the gang down at WMBR (88.1 FM) for the second installation of my Boston Hip Hop tribute and Lecco’s Lemma Archive sessions. It was epic, if I do say so myself. I dropped some classic Boston 90s ish by artists like God Complex, Polecat, Tmax, Motion, Prento Kid (not from Boston but with Boston production by Underground Productions) and more. We also rapped about some history, had some laughs and nearly melted the decks with all the Boston heat.

Heads were bobbing off their necks in the studio as always happens when I break out the mid-90s Underground tracks (respect to Brad and Dow, the least appreciated producers out there in the Bean IMHO). Man, people have been sleepin’ on Boston’s lost classics for way too long now. Its amazing to us elders, but for all the really deep underground 90’s stuff (and earlier), there’s a new generation of ears out there who are feeling it hard. Lots of catz and kittens who are down with the underground now were still making macaroni art for gold stars when some of the Best Boston Beats dropped in 1995-1998. Listen for yourself.

Musenomix_3-2-11PaceFace

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Musenomix_3_2_11

Respect to Boston’s old school….too many to name…you know who you are.

Thanks for studying your history Musenomix. Keep that flame alive and maybe, just maybe, hip-hop can still bring down Babylon like it was always supposed to.

PEACE BOSTON!! (Happy birthday UMMF!)

Lecco’s Lemma MLK Show 1-18-86

Leccos_MLK_spine

Given the long silence over here you might have thought the Lecco’s Lemma tapes had gone missing again. Never. Its just been a busy time over in the academy (with tenure decisions looming and papers piling up). We also had some grants out for digitization that didn’t come through so its been me ripping them in my spare time – which slows things down for sure. We might need to crowd source this after all. Then again, UMASS just launched a new archival studies program and I met the new director who seemed to immediately get the importance of this collection. Fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, with political shootings making their ugly re-appearance in the USA and the renewed interest in the power of words to change minds (for good or ill), seemed important to remember the peaceful principles built into the foundations of hip-hop. So I decided to go digging in the Lecco’s tapes for the MLK episode I was sure I had seen. Indeed, there it was. Lovingly illustrated and notated as I had remembered it.

LeccosMLK-1-18-86_A

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Lecco’s Lemma MLK DAY Jan 18, 1986
and @ http://soundcloud.com/leccoslemma
Here’s the first side for you. Definitely reminds me of the core principles of hip-hop. Peace. Unity. Love. Having fun. If you need an extra reminder, check the vid below. It will all become clear again.

Peace to you on this MLK day 2011.

pace

Lecco’s Lemma Mega-Mix

Lecco’s Lemma Mega-Mix

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This Monday, November 30 I am honored to be playing the Beat Research night over at the Enormous Room in Cambridge with fellow hip-hop scribe Brian Coleman. We will be celebrating the release of the book Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide, in which my article on Boston’s early hip-hop scene is appearing. The book technically drops that very day and this will be a chance for me to share all the musical treasures I uncovered along the way.

This is an enormous honor for me and I have to thank all the folks I talked to for sharing their stories and setting me straight about others. I’ll be posting the article on the 30th so you can all give it a read. In the strange economy of academic publishing, the book will likely be too expensive for most of my friends to buy. But since I was not getting paid anything to do it (thank UMASS for keeping my lights on), I at least negotiated to keep the rights so I can use it for other purposes (such as sharing with you).

In the meantime, Chris Faraone did a nice piece in the Phoenix this week shining some light on the tapes and the show Monday. Thanks! I wanted to follow up with some audio from the archive and some additional pictures. The mix above is a collection of some of the tapes I captured in a sleepless night up in Magnus’ lab two summers ago now. I included some of the station IDs and began the mix with an iconic first interview with Guru (then Keithy E) and Mikey Dee. Perhaps this was Guru’s first on air appearance! In the interview, Magnus asks why he has not heard of them before and seems genuinely impressed with the tape while the phone rings off the hook in the background. It sounds like a beautiful time in the history of Boston rap. Come on down Monday to hear more.

Lecco’s Lemma Lives

Lecco’s Loco on WZBC

I’ve been digging through the tapes and found a good one. This is some audio of Magnus on a later incarnation of Lecco’s Lemma on WZBC in Newton. Not sure of the date, but it was post 1988 (it starts with Cold Lampin’ With Flavor). I also love that it was sponsored in PART by a grant from Mattapan Music…right there in Mattapan Square!

I’ve edited it a bit to focus on the talking (sorry Magnus) and one track from the mix that is not available elsewhere. Can you get to this? The Willie…Alexander…Rap. Yup. Once and former member of the later Velvets and Boom Boom Band leader, Gloucester’s own post punk magnate did a rap tune that was hyped by Magnus on ZBC way back when. Not only that, he just released a new/old record.

Here’s the review from the recent Noise.

[snip]
WILLIE ALEXANDER & THE BOOM BOOM BAND
Captain Trip Records
Loco Live 1976
16-song CD
Those unfamiliar with Willie should know he graced Boston stages playing Boston rock ’n’ roll when even dinosaurs like myself were playing Little League. I mean, this dude was in one of the last lineups for the Velvet Underground! It’s an honor to review a still-playing legend and I’m very glad this didn’t fall into the hands of some fool like Zortar’s hands. This CD was recorded at two Boston clubs—the Rat (there’s even a song called “At the Rat”) and the Club. The sound is great and the selection of songs is pretty representative. Younger folks expecting an early punk sound might be put off by Willie’s sometime falsetto and keyboards, but like most early Boston rock, his style is more garage than punk and he was one of the earliest and best of the time.

Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band play sloppy, eccentric, creative, rockin’ Boston music and you can’t go wrong with the lyrics from my favorite “Pup Tune”—“Your dog swallowed another pair of panties, she puked them up in the hall, they’re in a ball now.” (Slimedog) [snip]

Locos Lemma Lives!

Lecco’s Lemma at Beat Research

As many of you know, I’ve been workin’ on an article about the history of Boston’s early rap scene for better than a year now. Its finally off to the press and I’ll certainly post it as soon as it hits the streets (if not sooner). A big part of the project was locating (and visiting!) the legendary Lecco’s Lemma tapes.

Back in the fall of 1985, DJ/painter and local music legend Magnus started a rap and electronic music show on Saturday afternoons at WMBR in Cambridge, MA. In addition to being one of the earliest rap shows in the country (which puts him in the company of folks like Mr. Magic and Red Alert), it was the first in the Bean to feature local artists regularly. As a result, it was the hub of the Hub’s earliest rap scene. Shows like Beat Street were soon to follow, but Magnus was a critical pioneer and superfan who helped to launch the careers of artists like Gangstarr, The Almighty RSO, Edo G, Big Chuck, etc. To this day, he refers to the regular attendees as “the kids” and he loved them like an older brother. Based on the interviews I did, the love and respect still flows back to Magnus from everyone who remembers the show.

According to folks like Rusty Pendleton (whose legendary Funky Fresh Records is in danger of closing – so go by a cd y’all!!!), the Lecco’s Lemma show was THE SPOT to be back in the day. He should know. After all, he was rocking the decks with his TOES back at the Talent Nights while the New Kids took notes in the background!

Still don’t believe a PhDJ/professor of management? (I don’t blame you really). Check out D. Scribe’s words on the matter from back in 2005. Or how ’bout a post from my very own early bloggy days with critical history from Type 4 and Magnus himself chiming in. For that matter, head on over to the Lecco’s Lemma page Matt put up with streamin audio and all!

The amazing thing about Magnus is that he saves everything (everything good that is). Over the years, whispered words of a lost Lecco’s Lemma tape archive were passed around among Boston hip hop junkies but no one had ever seen them or knew whether they existed for sure…until now.

Last year I was honored to visit my old friend Magnus in his lab in rural Maine and see the Lecco’s Lemma tapes. (More on the visit soon as its a story in itself). Sitting above his equally legendary collection of reggae 45’s, the three wooden wine boxes contained a litteral treasure trove of early Boston rap tapes! The first one I opened knocked me off my chair.

That hand written tape on the top says “This one’s called she’s a mutt by Edo Rock of the FTI crew”. OMG! There was Guru’s “For Magnus” tape when he was just back from college and appearing as MC Kiethy E. Right up front was Malden’s Top Choice, there was TDS Mob’s whole TAPE (!?!) on Race Records, a hand made demo tape of Boston Goes Def…and on…and on…until the break of dawn. I spent a sleepless night surrounded by Magnus’s psychedelic bio-mechanical paintings taping everything I could in 12 hours. (If you look below, you might notice that my portable protools rig is connected to…what’s that? No, no, not the cool ass reel to reel. Try the 1/8″ jack of the ca. 1989 “all in one” stereo Magnus pulled out for the purpose! More on that later)

I’ll be sharing some of the gems in all their hiss and glory this Monday night at Beat Research at the Enormous Room in Cambridge, MA.(567 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA)

The Lecco’s Lemma listening party goes from 9:30-10:00 at which point, Flack, Wayne and I will trade sets. You can be sure mine’s gonna have plenty of classic Beantown tracks in it (along with a healthy dose of the random dancefloor killers I have collected over the years).