Rethink Music Remix Project

Rethink Music Remix Project

For the past two days I was hanging out at the Rethink Music conference in Boston. I had lots and lots of reactions, some of which I will share here over the next little while. But the one that sticks out most is that there was so little music there. I know it was mostly about new business models, but does that mean we don’t need a kick ass soundtrack? After the first panel as the wireless mics went down and the canned hotel music came back up (I think it was actually a Muzak version of a Kenny G song (if that’s even possible) I quickly tweeted “Rethink Muzak”. To the organizer’s credit, by the end of day two, I was hearing some Afropop and other less egregiously banal selections. Thanks for listening.

This reminded me of something Wayne said about musicology conferences having very little music. I guess the same could be said for the management conferences I go to (very little discussion of actual issues faced by managers). It also reminded me that back in 2003, when I was finishing up my PhD at Boston College, I was browsing around the database enclosure for music industry info and came across a Forrester Research report complete with AUDIO! I grabbed that fast thinking “someday, I am gonna remix this!” It has languished on my hard drive ever since (though I occasionally stumble over it and always laugh at the “disks are dying” phrase – when were they ever alive???).

Back at the once active Riddim Method site, we used to talk about musical discussions about music. That’s what I love the most about music, I guess. Talking about it while its playing and learning as I listen with others. So that’s what I want to propose here. A Rethink Music Remix Project.

To kick things off, I offer my own rapid prototype called Disks Keep on Dying. (There was lots of discussion at the conference of “failing fast” and I am sure that this will fit the bill). Its a quick remix I did just layering the first bit of the audio over a track I had been working on. More importantly, I include the original Forrester Audio here for all my remixologist pals to play with. I know you can do much better than I can. Have at it. Plus, its pretty interesting to listen to a prediction about the music industry from back in 2003. Not too bad really.

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Disks Keep On Dying

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Forrester August 2003 Report Audio

Without a proper soundtrack, I can’t think at all (let alone rethink).

Thanks to the organizers and panelists for a fantastic first year. Thanks also to the hidden labor at the Hynes convention center who kept bringing those bagels and keeping us in water bottles. And most of all, thanks to all my new Twitterypals. I am hooked. Your backchannel ROCKED!

From Discoland to Liquorland

From Discoland to Liquorland

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From Discoland to Liquorland

Hey innernets. Here’s a new mix I did for you. It’s the story of a club dancer who grows up in the discos of New York in the late 1970s. Considering herself a genius of love she leaves New York in search of a mystical paradise filled with creole music and coconuts. Along the way she has a run in with some nasty Spanish kids in a rollerskating rink but is saved by the godfather of rap. He introduces her to some nice & smooth Spanish kids who take her in and remind her that she was once a genius of love. About that time she becomes enamored with Chicago’s lights and takes a job at a club where she is paid to move her bottom to the music. Things are ok for a little bit (at least she is dancing again) but every night after work, its bottoms up at the bar. The story gets really funked up when she starts doing it anyway she wants to and falls in love with a freakman who promises her an acting career in Hollywood but leaves her broken down in Liquorland. At least that’s what I was thinking about when I made it.

If this doesn’t make any sense, you can think of it as a postmodern allegory about the death of rollerskating jams. That’s another way to look at it, I guess.

Unfortunately, the title of the mix is somewhat misleading because there is really no disco in there. Its mostly late 1970s and early 1980s funk, boogie and other dance tunes I love to rock. There are certainly plenty of “disco” references though. And it starts with a song called discoland and ends with one called liquorland. That’s the main idea: A trip from discoland to liquorland. Understand?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy listening to it half as much as I enjoyed drinking while I made it. Like Casey said, “liquorland is a real nice place/you might want to visit but you don’t want to stay/cause if you stay you’ll never get away/and you might wind up like me someday”. Thanks for the warning Casey. See you all at the disco.

CONTENTS:
Lonnie Jordan – Discoland
Gap Band – Shake
Kid Creole and the Coconuts – Going Places
Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love (12″ dub)
Grandmaster Flash – Its Nasty
Nice and Smooth – Hip Hop Junkies (Spanish mix)
Spoonie Gee – Godfather of Rap
LV – Throw Your Hands Up
Trickernation – Rap Bounce Rockskate
Vaughn Mason – Bounce Rock Skate Roll
LV – Throw Your Hands Up
Chi-Lites – Bottoms Up
Bunny Sigler – I’m Funkin You Tonight (With my Music)
Empire – Freakman
Kool and the Gang – Hollywood Swinging
Crave – Bounce
Mighty Casey – Liquorland Pt. 2

Pesach Breaks

Jib Jab Matzo Rap

Happy Easter and recently passed Passover. Given that my Hebrew name is Pesach, it has always been an important holiday for me. Whatever you think about organized religion, it seems like a good idea for families and friends to get together to talk about liberation at least once a year. Since the Exodus story is at the heart of the holiday, there are lots of ecumenical and inclusive approaches to this one in particular. (We always have an orange on the seder plate and some discussion of the contradictions of a diasporic people supervising the occupation of others).

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Pesach Breaks – Dubya

Here is a musical interpretation I did some years back with my man Darren “The Bass Creator” Beaudet as part of our Dubya project. It was done live with two decks, two Lexicon Jam Man looper/delays and an ancient Mackie Micro 1202 mixer.

We looped up the break (I forget which one it is, but a familiar one for sure) then Darren looped and layered as I rocked away with some Seder records and eventually worked into some ragamuffin hip hop style (a Blood and Fire break I believe and Cutty Ranks’s “Stopper” acapella on top).

Back in 0ught 6 when this was made, Matisyahu was still fresh and I was thinking lots about Hebrew dubhop. We never really went that way, but this track at least gives an idea of some imaginary futures.

Till our next dub-hop Seder, keep on chanting down Babylon.

Postmodern Marching Music and M.I.A.

By coincidence, this weekend I happened to be in Toronto after a conference which coincided with the G20 meeting up here. A lot of Canadians seem to be pissed about the $1B price tag (a large percentage of which is for security) and the general inconvenience of having the global royalty in town for the weekend. In short its a big, expensive pain in the ass (and that’s if you are already pretty happy with the current arrangement of the global order). There is also a lot of pretty transparent fear mongering and state heavy handedness going on. For example, the US State Department issued warnings for citizens to stay away from downtown Toronto this weekend. Meanwhile, the Ontario legislature handed over even more control without much discussion.

Meanwhile, my little dorm/hostel/hotel room is a few blocks south of the “official protest” site (which is actually across the street from the conference location). Earlier this evening, I was headed to meet some folks for a farewell fete and stumbled into the front line of current conflicts about the impacts of globalization, resource distribution and social justice. The “dreaded” G20 Protests!

Among other things, the two teams clearly had their own special kind of marching music. On the one hand, you had pickup trucks blasting remixes of “Milkshake” (is that tune old enough to be cool again?) beautifully battling the beats of the hippie human drum corps. On the other, security forces in riot gear keeping time with batons, thigh plates and boots on asphalt. I haven’t tapped it out, but I think the tempos are even similar at times. Often around 115bpm is seems. Interesting.

Despite endless layers of cultural (and sometimes rhythmic) complexity, it was really scary to see the levels of force compared to the size of the marchers. It seemed a small (1,000 person?), clearly peaceful and actually pretty damn funky protest march. It was surrounded by an overwhelming number of continually shifting phalanxes of postmodern Pinkertons on foot, horse and (in a very Canadian fashion) bike.

I hope the second day remains peaceful. Today, everyone was out making their own kinds of marching music which was simultaneously scary and funky. (Post industrial Praetorian in the first case and people-centric in the second.) As usual, I prefer to dance with the people. Anyway, at first, when I watched the recent M.I.A. video about the persecution of gingers, it felt over the top to me. Not misguided. Just a little heavy handed an hyper violent for my taste (faint of heart, beware the link below). Today, it sounded and looked a lot like the intro to that video up here in Toronto.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Don’t forget to work for peace every day. In whatever way. The alternative is unacceptable.

Mastermind Monstamix: Boston’s Ragamuffin Hip-Hop History

Hey all. Last week I got a short notice request to join flack and wayne at Beat Research tonight. I decided I’d use the night to showcase some of my favorite local ragamuffin hip hop. And when you are doing that, you are basically playing stuff from Jr. Rodigan’s Mastermind Records. Everyone knows the classic ragamuffin hip hop sounds popularized by Bobby Kondors via Massive B Records. Lots of folks also know the collection of stuff on Profile (including the seminal Daddy Freddy and Asher D track) not to mention all the stuff on Nervous. What most people don’t know is that in the mid-90’s, Boston was putting out raggamuffin hip-hop as good as anyplace!!!! Believe it. Like all things hip-hop, Boston’s contribs have gone less recognized than some other places. Until now.

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Mastermind Monstamix

I offer this Mastermind Monstamix to prove that the Bean was rocking the ragga sound as hard as anyplace in the mid 1990s. As usual, its pretty much unedited and done live with two decks and included here warts and all. Its also clearly not ALL mastermind stuff and veers into a little paid in full mini-mashup by the end complete with Wayne flowin’ over a PM dawn IM (which always makes me smile).

Respect to Rodigan and his collaborators including the prolific Bingy Twins who co-produced many of his hottest raggamuffin hip-hop dancefloor burners! I’ll be rocking Boston Raggamuffin Hip Hop Classix tonight at Beat Research for anyone in town.

Bigup to the beantown massive. Stay tuned for the Monstamind Master Mix that will be highlighting some lesser known scientifikal rappers from MA.

peace

P.S.

Last night, I had the honor of meeting Jr. Rodigan and playing a set of his classic 90s track while he sat and listened. Talk about pressure. He shook my hand at the end of the night though, so I guess I did it proper. Listening to his verse on One in the Chamba while he sang along next to me has to be one of my all time best musical moments! More on that track in a minute but for now, keep those Boston beats bumpin’.

Hip-hop in the hub

Its finally here. The day the book drops. I am heading over to Beat Research soon to celebrate with the Beantown massive and wanted to put up the article before I do.

There is so much to say about this piece of work that I can’t even really begin. It took longer and was harder than I ever could have imagined. But it was also the highest honor to be asked to write the first real academic piece on Boston’s hip-hop history. What would you say? Its a complicated tale to say the least. Well, this is what I came up with.

A few words of introduction are clearly in order. First, thanks to everyone who opened their lives, collections and memories to me. I could not have done it without you. Second, I know there are certainly going to be some errors, omissions, thoughts about other angles to highlight, etc. I welcome your suggestions (post them up here) and hope I can update this in a second version, later works, etc. This is certainly a first pass at a lifelong project. Finally, you may notice that the article leaves a lot of the recent history (and people) out. That’s not because I see it as less important, interesting, etc. Just that I had a chance here to tell some tales that have not been told, reach some people that are harder to reach, and dig a little deeper into the past. I also wanted to celebrate a scene that I have loved and been around (but not quite in) for my whole life. So, that’s what I did.

There are lots of things I would do differently if I could. But most of it, I would do the same way again. Visiting Rusty and Spice at Touch. The trip to Maine to see/hear the Lecco’s Lemma archives and talk to Magnus my old friend. Checking in with Skippy at his last remaining store and asking him about his first memories. Reconnecting the electro sounds coming out of Boston in the early 1980s to the birth of hip-hop. A lot. Anyway. I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Here it is with respect to all of you who lived it the first time around.

Hip-Hop in the Hub: How Boston Rap Remained Underground

For those of you who can afford the $165 price tag (nah, I don’t get any) its also available in the massive comp Hip Hop In America: A Regional Guide.

Thanks of course to Mickey for all the hard work putting out this massive compendium and inviting me to be part of it.