The uncles of America would like you to listen to more Donald Byrd, please.
You’ve heard, loved, and looked out the window wistfully to “I’m a Fool to Want You” and “Cristo Redentor,” and watched me walk down the street to “The Emperor” (DON’T LIE I SAW YOU), so you know that uncles are absolutely justified in their Byrd pushiness. Absolutely. Uncles totally nailed it. It’s just that Byrd played trumpet – and trumpets, like uncles, don’t tend to be very cool. (Exceptionsnoted, of course.) My first Byrd was Royal Flush from ’61, given to me by my very own pushy uncle when I was 15. He handed it to me with the words LOGAN! It’s got Hancock and Higgins! and a huge smile. I thanked him, then promptly put it in my closet and ignored it for 2 years.
The older cousins of America, on the other hand, have been coolness royalty since the beginning of time, and it’s only when they come along and say you should listen to Byrd that you pay attention. The luckiest among us were started on 1973’s lovely Flight Time, our cousins wanting us to be familiar with it if we ever get to hang with Premier (in the rare occasion he leaves the house; PREMIER LOVES PORN) or anyone with the last name Quik or Shocklee. Byrd’s amazing, it turns out; Uncle James and the cousins were right. Tyme passes, your collection grows. And when one day you realize it’s 2013 and you’re the older cousin now, well damn. Each one better fucking teach one. It’s your responsibility to pass on some Byrd to cousins. Go with A New Perspective, from ’63 – It’s got Hancock and Hank!, my uncle would like to inform you. It’s also got some newer breaks used in songs by Ski Beatz (for DZA) and Party Supplies (for Bronson) – 2 producers who really love Byrd, or just grew up having heard that Shyheim song a bunch of times. (Probably played for them by their older cousins.)
Most trained record-scavenging machines out there only need a big fat ATM withdrawal before a Beat Swap Meet. They’ll usually get coffee and a muffin too, time permitting.
This machine, however, is a lady machine, with long, misbehaving hair that needs to be smoothed down. Nails need to have a nice sheen like a pool of motor oil or candy paint; I know this from years of UGK listening. Coming through looking clean is the name of the game (UGK again), so I need to iron my clothes and “bring a pocketbook that matches,” according to my proper southern grandma. Coming through smelling like cupcakes doesn’t hurt either (cocoa butter-vanilla oil combo).
Laundry, an absolute must, is the foundation of my pre-BSM routine.(I’d take it personally if MCs ever stop rapping about the foxiness and Snuggle-fresh clothing of LA women.) I went off to wash clothes the morning of June 10, bringing along an iced coffee and that silly Parade “magazine” that comes in the Sunday paper. Normally I read strictly highbrow fare while I’m at the laundromat (WaxPo, Harper’s, Adario-era Source, Utne). I’m not embarrassed about reading Parade, though; I’m secure in myself. (Only God Can Judge Me, according to Pac, Master P, and Mike Bibby’s calf.) Besides, Parade sometimes provides pretty useful bits of information – like the fact that June 10 was THE GOD Saul Bellow’s birthday. Saul’s a great writer, known for Augie March, a white American male alienation classic, right up there with Nevermind, I suppose, and Labor Days. But Saul should be known for having a perfect name for a shouty preacher (SAUL BELLOW, c’mon), and for once saying, “Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door,” a phrase so lovely that it cannot be improved upon unless you put a squiggly bassline under it. I’m getting it tatted on my calf this weekend.
Just the way players I play, all day every day. Honestly, guys. I don’t know what else to say.
It turns out, appropriately enough, that June 10, BSM day, new/old record-gettin day, was the god Howlin’ Wolf’s birthday and the g.o.d. The D.O.C.’s, too. (Not mentioned in Parade, though lord knows they should’ve been.) I came up nicely – spent around $80, got 13 records, and didn’t have to travel more than 5 miles round trip from my doorstep.The high in LA was 76°. I smelled good (cupcakes). And I exchanged smiles with so many people, because, you see, unlike the employees of Time Warner*, Beat Swap Meet sellers and buyers – music people – do not find it unusual that a woman enjoys record albums.
* “Whose records are these?” – 3 separate technicians during 3 separate visits, upon entering my apartment.
The original-pressing “Player’s Anthem” break that’s been hard to find now lives in apt. 680 (even though the true player’s anthem is obviously either “Freddie’s Dead” or “Superman Lover”; duh, Clark Kent. And God’s favorite DJ is actually Derrick May. DUH, CLARK KENT.)
1. The New Birth, Birth Day (RCA Victor, 1972). $8.
It’s 2012 and everyone knows Queens and Harlem are the rapping-est boroughs. But it’s still fun to summon the spirit of someone jocking Brooklyn super hard in ’94 and exclaim: Biggie! Jeru! (Clark Kent and Premier both used the “You Are What I’m All About” pencil-tapping-the-side-of-a-mason-jar sound!) An automatic purchase because it’s an original pressing as opposed to a ’90s rapstalgia reissue, I saw Birth Day on display when I was walking out. It was the end of the afternoon and the end of my cash supply. The allure of this damn thing made me trot (ha, J/K; I sashay) across the street to the ATM to pull out more cash and come back. John was the seller’s name, I think. Thank you, John. The freshness of your Van Exel jersey was not lost on me.
“HAPPY LISTENING FOR YOU AND ME.”
Their cover of Womack’s “I Can Understand It” opens the album. Lovely. The New Birth version lacks the crucial “yeah-uh” that kills me every time in the original (01:11), but when a DJ at the swap meet played “Across 110th St.” while my weak arms were struggling with the weight of record bags during my exit walk to the car, it was a clear sign that I had to get something Womackian before I left. I was raised by leftist heathens in a weed den, but even I have to give in when God and all the angels send a message directly to me (“Womack, Logan. WOMACK”). And there was John, suddenly, with his clean copy of Birth Day to sell me. “You Are What I’m All About” (Biggie and Jeru) and “Got to Get a Knutt” (De La, PE, Doom!) are the rap-break superstars, but there’s so much material on this record to be mined. More use should be made out of “Buck and the Preacher,” for example. Current producers are scared to compete with G Rap and Large Pro, obviously, and this is why none of them have tried to chop and loop it. What an air-tight theory. Except that nobody but me and the Ego Trip guys and you currently reading this blog post even think about G Rap or Large Pro or anyone else in AARP anymore, unless there’s a lawsuit involved and we’re forced to care out of loyalty to the old dogs and our mutual hatred of Mac Miller. Twitter stuntery and ass injections are mostly the move in the industry now, with the scary, cold eyes of Riff Raff overseeing it all. Everybody get ready for my “Cashin Out” freestyle, which the world definitely needs.
Birth Day‘s other standout is “Easy, Evil.” (Sorry; no link.) It’s a better song title than actual song, a feat last accomplished by The Dirty Projectors’ “Gun Has No Trigger,” but it’s got this weird, sexy line “Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doin’ ’til I’m done,” which would be perfect as a UGK hook. It doesn’t matter that Chad isn’t around! He’s still around, kinda! He resurfaces every couple of years like a new Batman movie! (It does matter that K.R.I.T. is way more interesting when he produces than when he raps. What am I to do about this? Somebody, please.)
Person on this record around whom I’d probably feel most comfortable: Harvey Fuqua, New Birth’s producer and the uncle of Training Day director Antoine. Harvey’s got lots of music industry tales I’d love to hear, details about Berry Gordy making out-of-wedlock babies. And he co-wrote and -produced Edwin Starr’s “25 Miles,” road trip playlist heaven. Plus I might be able to get him to call his nephew so I can find out whatever happened to Alonzo’s stunning black Monte Carlo. I still send that thing love letters and naked pics of myself.
Suitable for bonding with: Clark Kent, Premier. And Daniel Dumile, provided that I can compose myself in his presence and not shake like a naked Chihuaha. (Unlikely.)
Free line for the taking: “Beatin down Joey Bada$$es/Cracks in stacks and masses,” my take on that one part from “Player’s Anthem.” It’ll turn up on a fake-diss track that Joey’s A&R suggests to Action Bronson’s people, to reignite the Queens v Brooklyn flame, with the end result of course being promo and profit. Remember where you heard it first! I’m also working on a post-iPad-world version of “My mind’s my nine, my pen’s my Mac-10,” a line that’s so old-timey, Big might as well be talking about his quill and inkwell.
Feminist points: Minimal. The New Birth had a strong female contingency, but the men were the ones in control of the writing, production, and marketing. And when it comes to The New Birth breaks-usage, there’s little to be thrilled about in terms of feminist deconstruction. Jeru’s voice is legendary; that authoritative tone really does it for me. Maybe I have a thing about being dominated, but maybe I just admire his ability to flow beautifully while looking bored with his own genius. Jeru’s judgment about the way ladies choose to dress themselves, however, is awful. “Skin-tight jeans, everything all exposed”; then the hook kicks in, blah blah, preach, not in my house, young lady. Groan. Dad raps are the absolute worst, even when there’s a Premier beat involved. The ladies of the ’90s apparently needed to be reprimanded for letting their asses show. Good thing it’s 2012 and I’m grown. Settle down with the slut lectures, J.
Side B, track 2: “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child.” Sometimes I feel like I already heard someone say that, and it was on a song by GHOSTFACE. Nice try, biting-ass El Chicano.
2. El Chicano, Viva Tirado (Kapp, 1970). $7.
Bullfighting, in the words of Chicago fetus Chief Keef, is that shit we ladies DON’T LIKE. For the record, we do not care for those Subway commercials with adults talking like little kids, being cold, Mitt Romney, Drake, or people coming at us crazy (which includes Mitt and Drake, politically- and musically-speaking) either. “Viva Tirado” is about a bullfighter. Cringe. I don’t like. However, it is a scientific fact that women love drums in general, and women with exceptional hips love congas. So when the god Andre Baéza enters the picture, bullfighting somehow becomes tolerable. Women with exceptional hips and great taste in music genuinely love the musical productions of Scoop DeVille – the son of the man whose hit song is based on “Viva Tirado” (there’s baby Scoop at 00:31 and throughout!). Tony G, an LA institution like Fred Roggin and dads at the mall in Kobe jerseys, produced “La Raza” and “Mentirosa” which means that, like me, he was cool with Mexicans and Cubans.
Feminist points?: I can’t think of anything overtly feminist about this album. Tangentially, however, I could point out that the liner notes mention that it was recorded at at 3840 Crenshaw. Formerly a restaurant, the address is now home to a Social Security office – which, in providing benefits that act as a safety net for thousands of LA women and their families, is a place with feminist/humanist connnotations.
Suitable for Bonding With:Houston Los Angeles old heads.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Baéza, the conga player. Drummers just understand me.
Nov. 25, 1970. Reagan’s just been reelected governor of my state, and it’s not even the cool Reagan who wears checkered Vans. The prosecution has just rested in the Manson trial. The city seems a little, I don’t know…tense? On the plus side, “Super Bad (part 1)” is #1 on the charts, and Pharoah records Thembi at the Record Plant. Then he goes and stands on some rocks and looks at the ocean like Madlib’s weird old uncle who rents a room in Port Hueneme.
3. Pharoah Sanders, Thembi (Impulse!, 1971). $14.
Listen, the jazz cat knows women. “This album is dedicated to and named after Thembi Sanders,” it says in the upper-right corner of the inside (gatefold!) cover. This is a classic “I love you, wife” dedication and I am powerless against its charms. While nothing tops the Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess, Tess dedication from bookwriting cat Raymond Chandler, the jazz cat knows women. Create something, name it after us: become immortal in our hearts.
$14 is normally outside of my price range but I absolutely had to have this record. Thembi‘s got a KMD breakand Lonnie Liston Smith, two things that occupy the “obsessions” part of my brain. It also boasts old-timey names like Cecil McBee and Clifford Jarvis on the credits (bass and “bird noises,” and percussion, respectively), both of whom sound like they were either quarterbacks for the ’52 Packers or members of the ’71 Globetrotters.
Feminist points:Lillian Douma, a LADY, was a co-engineer on this record, making her the Syd tha Kid of the ’70s jazz world! (This is how I explain it to my 13-year-old cousin, to try to get him interested in ’70s jazz). For extra credit, there were female pharaohs in ancient Egypt, so Sanders gets feminist points just by association.
LOL: “Production and engineering by Bill Szymczyk,” a man whose name’ll get you 500 points on Words with Friends. He produced people like The James Gang and Bill Walsh, and then right in the middle of his discography is this Pharoah Sanders record. Love it.
Suitable for bonding with: Weird old jazz guys who close their eyes when they’re talking to you and trying to remember details about that show at The Lighthouse in ’61. And Dante Ross, on account of the KMD factor – though Dante would not allow any bonding to take place because that would interrupt his constant name-droppery.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Lonnie Liston Smith, astronaut and boss – bosstronaut – whose credits on Thembi include “Fender Rhodes” and “shouts.” Delightful. There’s also an appearance by Chief Bey on this album. He is Mos Def’s uncle, maybe.
LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL FACE. Art Blakey said, “Whatever truth drops on, it eventually grinds to a powder,” which you’ll recognize as the inspiration for my future coke-paranoia-themed mixtape (Truth to Powder). Harry Fraud, send me some beats.
4. Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, 3 Blind Mice (Blue Note, 1962). $4.
I recommend Tom Catfor true Blakey percussive loveliness, but 3 Blind Mice‘s personnel includes THE GOD Wayne Shorter, plus THE GOD Billy Collins wrote a poem about it, plus it’s got face sweat on the cover along with Art looking heavenward. I had to get this. The Muslim held most dear in apt. 680 is Ghosty. (He’s a Sunni.) But the Muslim with the best album-cover face sweat is Art Blakey.
The nursery rhyme about the mice has a truly horrific story of origin (a Catholic queen murdering Protestant dissenters), which just serves to make it more entertaining and tragic. This is simply the power of melody – it’ll make you forgive a horrible story that angers you, or just make it go down a little easier, in what feminists such as myself know as the He’s Not Talking About Me Theory (ho raps, violence-against-hoes raps, side-chick raps – they are pleasing and fun, because the MC is never talking about me). Today I’m referring to it as The Wham! Theory. “Everything She Wants” is a song about a greedy whore whom a poor, defenseless man marries. He’s captain-save-em. The man takes 4 whole minutes to whine and cry about it, the material is so morally repugnant, there’s really no point to the song at all, and it just fucking bangs so hard, with fun chord progressions and that great synth-y bass from what I’m told is the Linn LM-1? (Dave Tompkins with the future information-confirmation assist here. Thanks in advance, Dave!). I’m trying to think of a way I can draw parallels between Art’s hard bop (jazz influenced by R&B, with more hip-friendly, bluesy rhythms than bebop) and Wham!’s shiny, electronic, we’re-not-gay-we’re-just-British pop of the ’80s. Who says you need an profound reason for an “Everything She Wants” interlude, though? And how come George Michael never gets credit for his production skills?
Suitable for bonding with: Cornel West, Pete Rock, Madlib, Mark Gonzales, David Byrne, skate shop employees in Portland and SF.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Wayne Shorter, superboss and the Jazz Messengers’ musical director, who once said, “If all you have in life is music, then you haven’t got music.” I feel comfortable around music people who are secure enough in their musical-ness to say things like this.
5. The Sons (Capitol, 1969). $9.
This one’s got a break used by charming pornographic goofballs The Beatnuts, who’ll remind you that rappening is, in fact, what’s happening. Or at least it was back when Relativity Records was poppin. To get that simple, clean melody for “Straight Jacket,” the boys slowed down The Sons’ “Boomp Boomp Chomp” – a song with the satisfying one-two punch of a Dilla-esque title and a quick, sustained hi-hat that makes me file it in the same place in my head as the intro of “Boogie Nights” and that k-Os song, based on a “Hot Music.” Marsalis!
I play “Hot Music” when Clams comes over, just to remind him of the sound DRUMS make. But then he just goes back to making those “Eyes Without a Face”-ish instrumentals because that’s how he stays paid.
After forming the Sons of Champlin, then disbanding it, Bill Champlin became a member of Chicago. It was pre-“I’m a Man” and –“Street Player” Chicago, though, so that fact is a bit of a throwaway. He did cowrite EWF’s “After the Love is Gone,” which proves that just because a man looks like a cross between Huey Lewis and Ian McKellen you shouldn’t assume he can’t write a floaty ’70s makeup sex jam. Bill Champlin also convinced an entire band to call themselves his sons, a feat that I dare you not to respect. Champlin sonned his bandmates, then ordered them to do this song, best one on the album.
Suitable for bonding with: JuJu, Les, C-Rayz Walz. I don’t know how often I’ll listen to The Sons. If I clamor for white men who bleed funk, I’m listening to The Talking Heads or AWB or The Mothers. But it was a great find – a rare original pressing, including the lyrics booklet with pictures of unshowered Americans of European descent just like the ones who live next door and breathe up all my air at Trader Joe’s.
Oh hey Justin and Sara and Ben! WHAT’S GOOD.
The Duke of Earl and The Iceman just walkin through the woods together in some tweed and leather, probably writing some hits. No big deal.
6. Gene Chandler & Jerry Butler, one & one (Mercury, 1971). $4.
Do you speak fluent Yancey? You are basically telling the world that you do if you bought this after 2005.
Gene and Jerry didn’t really dominate any hearts or ears with one & one, probably because it was 1971. Marvin and Sly and Funkadelic were doing it absolutely to death at the time. It’s hard to compete with Maggot Brain, you feel me. But Gene, the voice, had THE voice. Akon’s got Gene’s picture in his wallet like a prayer card. He stares at it before he goes into the booth to try to reach that upper-register sweet spot, solid and high (Barrington Levy; Frankie Lymon; the guy from Supertramp). Jerry, the songwriter, is from Chicago and has always insisted on putting his own voice on recordings despite its limitations, instead of letting his gifts as songwriter/arranger simply send his messages to the world. Jerry Butler’s the Kanye of Cabrini-Green.
one & one lacks any true bangers, but good lord: Dilla Dilla Dilla. It’s comforting to think that his beats continue to inspire the diggingest of diggers and the J Dilla Foundation continues to get donations because of this man’s beloved status – even if me buying a 40-year-old record on a lovely June Sunday results in no funds actually ending up at the organization. (I am also comforted to think that Nate Dogg’s family is maybe getting some extra money from the licensing of “Till I Collapse” from the Savages trailer that shows every 12 minutes on my television. The music industry is fair and nobody ever gets fucked over. Rainbows, kittens!)
Notes from an annoyed feminist: Women love the voice, according to Q-Tip, who is from Queens but is not Action Bronson, Nore, Simon, Garfunkel, or Monch, so I’m not all that familiar with his work. Brothers dig the lyrics. How silly! What a limiting thing to say! Linden Boulevard, you lost me with that one. Disrupting Q-Tip’s entire theory, I adore the talents of Gene (voice) and Jerry (lyrics) equally, even though I am a lady. My male buddies feel the same way about Gene and Jerry, enjoying each man’s contributions irrespective of anatomy. We all need to taste life, enjoying it fluidly, unbound by gender roles or societal constraints. Let’s be swingers, ok? But just when it comes to DatPiff and our record collections. Voice, lyrics: love it all. Kittens, rainbows.
Suitable for bonding with:Ha, Dilla nerds. (“You Just Can’t Win” is the grandpa, or maybe the wise old uncle?, of “Glazed”). Owning this record means you’ve signed up for a lifetime of bonding with these people. Good luck with that. They’re nice enough; just a little intense.
If your nickname is “Fats” you’re either a jazz professional or a large, inept man in Miami who insists on releasing grunt raps.
7. Lou Donaldson, Mr. Shing-A-Ling (Blue Note, 1967). $11.
HOLY HELL IDRIS MUHAMMAD ON DRUMS, back when he was Leo Morris, went the shout of the outspoken lady who lives inside my head when I saw the unmistakable pink and green on the cover. The real-life me, however, said nothing, due to being raised right (taught not to scream like an idiot in public). I just clutched this one to my lovely bosom and asked how much. Original pressing; I thought it would be at least $20. Nope – just above $10! And all I had to do was trade sexual favors! FEMINISM, YALL.
“Ode to Billie Joe” is the reason for this purchase, with Idris’ Leo’s shuffly drums making me feel like I’m in the marching band if the marching band were made of Bond girls in bikinis who are librarians in their spare time, think about Wham! songs at work, and happen to love coke raps. Snare snare, shuffle shuffle shuffle, til it gets to that liquid center around 02:40, the hot magma. That’s when the bass kicks in and I realize I’m not meant to be in a marching band; what was I thinking. I’m meant to take Stage 2 at Magic City. Throb throb, bassbass throb.
Ignore the fact that the woman who wrote the song was not actually named Bobbie Gentry and probably didn’t have any working-class southern roots. Her father was definitely a senator, Republican of course, and she went to prep school and once kissed a black guy so she felt like she could write songs about struggle and heartache. She made millions. That’s just how the music industry works, sweetie. Even in 1968. Wake up. Bobbie was a semi-cold piece of work, however, with all that big black hair. Plus she wrote her own material and lived my fantasy life of lounging in some tight pants with nothing but her daydreams and a hi-fi to keep her company, and for this I must respect her.
Suitable for bonding with: Kutmasta Kurt. (“Ode to Billie Joe” begat “Sex Style”). Feminist points: KEITH THORNTON. Bisexuals on stage eating Fruit Loops, pornographic thespians, the ladyboys of Thailand: Kool Keith is accepting of all types of femininity, and he’s one of the top 10 most feminist MCs ever*. Raps by guys like Keith and El-P and Danny Brown will always be more inherently feminist than those by Drake, because they don’t pander to us.
* Just relax, think, let it marinate. I’ll do a full explanatory blog post in the future if you guys beg for it.
Impossible: The first 10 seconds of “Kissing My Love” has allegedly only been looped once or twice on major-label rap songs (??). IMPOSSIBLE. Im possible. Internet, you a goddamn liar.
I am not allowing my hips to reach their full potential because: I have yet to walk down the street to this. Too busy walking down the street to this. (The entire melodic structure and overall hotness of “Loco-Motive” makes up for the previous release from that new Nas album, the Rawse-tainted “Accident Murderers.” That’s the one with Nas’ line about dudes who “rubbed each other wrong like a bad massage,” which is terrible and should be relegated to that inevitable Bieber collab.)
Hustlenomics professor: ME. Finding Thriller! at all is rare; finding Thriller! for $5 in the middle of a major city, surrounded by record dorks who want it so bad, is the result of such a tight hustle that people assume I am tricking or have a record shop connection. I have neither; it’s just the patience hustle, sprinkled with a little dumb-luck hustle. Best hustle of all, though, is the one belonging to Cold Blood’s singer Lydia Pense. She got the band to name their 1974 album Lydia. TIGHT WORK, doll. This would be like Curren$y getting the 504 Boyz to name one of their albums Shante Franklin.
Suitable for Bonding With: Dudes who love everything embodied by Cold Blood – breakbeats, the Bay Area, songs about getting down, and yellow-haired ladies who show their midriffs. So, Danny Brown.
9. Chairmen of the Board, Bittersweet (“Fuck Off, Motown” Invictus, 1972). $12.
Shoutout to greedy bastard Berry Gordy, who is directly responsible for this album.
(Money disputes. Control disputes. Of courrrrrse. Berry doesn’t enter into disputes about anything else, silly.)
It’s not their fault, but Chairmen of the Board get feminist points deducted because “Give Me Just a Little More Time” is used on that goddamn mop commercial about a lady whose life is passing her by because she cannot stand living with a dirty floor. That fucking floor rules her entire world. Even when she gets the new, quick-use mop, allowing her lots of free time, she chooses to spend this time sitting on her front porch with a cold drink because the housechore goblins have stripped her of all life-force. Blaming Berry Gordy for this whole charade just feels right, so let’s go with that. Anyway, the lady should be using her free time having a super-hot love affair and then going through some heartache, with the closing move of walking away from her man in slow motion, looking at him over her shoulder while “Bittersweet” plays. Please erase any Kanye associationsfrom your brain and only acknowledge this, the one true version, complete with heavenly tempo change right around the 2-minute mark, hands in the air if you ever been in love of the hurtin’ kind, C’MON:
Suitable for bonding with: Kanye West. Lucky me. Also suitable for bonding with Lee Stone, who used a Chairmen break on Method Man’s “The Motto.” I wouldn’t be able to pick Lee Stone out of a room of people, but I love him for being Nyshiem Myrick’s production sidekick and somehow never becoming a member of The Hitmen and padding Sean Combs’ bank account. That’s some integrity, Lee Stone. A person still listening to Method Man in ’04 probably also has plenty of integrity, along with an intense loyalty I shall never possess. I’m pretty sure the rest of us gave up on Mef around ’99-? He owned ’94 and maintained his stats for the next 4 or 5 years, rap game Olajuwon. And now he is old and has the classic old-rapper-problems duo of irrelevance and unpaid back taxes.
10. E.L.O., Face the Music (United Artists, 1975). $2.
MECHANIC ROCK, YALL. I know so many of this stupid band’s songs from my time spent waiting in the lobby at Jiffy Lube.
E.L.O.’s also got the ’70s prog hair, and Jeff Lynne produced some pretty good Tom Petty stuff (though Lynne is no Iovine or Rubin when it comes to Tom Petty production). This is an impressive list of facts about E.L.O. Impressive indeed. It’s just that this doesn’t solve the case of my missing enjoyment. I own 3 or 4 of their records because I’m open-minded and willing to give anyone a chance. But they are terrible. I mean, in the words of headband aficionado and current global analysis object Frank Ocean, Sweet baby Jesus, E.L.O. is a terrible, boring band.
“Evil Woman” sucks, apart from that banging piano intro. On the feminist front, I cannot legitimately complain about the “Evil Woman” lyrics, because they are too stupid to entertain. “Ha ha, woman – what you gonna do/You destroyed all the virtues that the lord gave you,” goes this terrible piece of music written by professional songwriters with Romney-sized buckets of money, “It’s so good that you’re feeling pain/But you better get your face on board the very next train.” Just my face, E.L.O.? Or the rest of me too? I’m awarding “Evil Woman” Most Feminist Song of my record haul, just to annoy the band because this is the opposite intention with which “Evil Woman” was written. Ha ha, E.L.O. Women have all kinds of tricks up inside of us. You’re just scratching the surface, dummies.
I would not have purchased this record were it not for:
“Special thanks to: Ellie Greenwich.” AMEN, BROTHER.
Suitable for bonding with: El-P, as if I need yet another thing over which to bond with him when we run into each other at that store that sells Camels, Chomsky books, black-market iPad replacement parts, cat food, sandwiches, and old DAT machines in pristine condition.
Also suitable for bonding with Curren$y. It says “Copyright Jet Music” on the credits, which is a 1975 nod to the empire Curren$y would build 3 decades later. Here’s hoping this post gets seen by one or both of these men, because I’d love a Curren$y x El-P something, and I am not referring to a song in which one of them gets a “featuring” credit by simply chanting the hook. I am comfortable and cozy around music people, but THE WORD “FEATURING” USED INCORRECTLY is lowdown and dirty. Until you can convince Premier to go back and re-title it “Mass Appeal (feat. Da Youngstas),”the Hook Chant shall cease to merit a “featuring” credit. Good day.
11. Pato Banton, Never Give In (Primitive Man, 1987). $1.
THIS IS TO ALL YOU FUCKIN BUGGED OUT COKE HEADS, someone comment-shouts under “Don’t Sniff Coke.” This is an individual who understands that coke always brings with it, to steal a NBA-draft-day phrase from Jeff Van Gundy describing the Washington Wizards, a huge knucklehead factor. Freeze, rock, etc. Don’t do it. It would be nice to say that I grew up on Pato, my parents had a deep appreciation for the intricate rhythms of UK and Jamaican reggae and finding this record in the dollar bin was like getting a piece of my childhood back. Alas, no. Everybody, including me, snatches Never Give In outta the dollar bin because of “The Sounds of Science.” C’mon. I’m not a complicated woman. That song also made me get a Range Rover and drop an orange like Galileo. Plus I have a fondness for not giving in, not ever. Jimmy V taught me. And really you can’t go wrong with buying anything with the (fake) last name Banton on the cover. [Same rule for the (real) last name Hayes. Lil Scrappy is whining all over the TV in 2012 but I can make lemonade out of his whiny southern lemons by savoring good old snappy “Money in the Bank,” produced by Isaac’s son and accompanied by a video fulla Banner screwface.]
Suitable for bonding with:Josh in apt. 694, who works at the dispensary. Josh, like me, prefers live instrumentation to digi-riddims but Josh, like me, cannot resist the digi-seductions of “Hello Tosh.”
“Mr Pato, you’re a lyric computer/I can find no fault with you whatsoever/How’d you like to earn yourself a quick fiver?/Just repeat that line into my tape recorder.”
Jeopardy! fact that somehow I was unaware of before this post: “Sensimilla” comes from the Spanish words for “without” (sin) and “seed” (similla). “Coke” comes from the Spanish word for “knucklehead.”
“Any color you want, but it’d be, like, blue and cream.” GET EM WITH THOSE WALLYS, RICHARD ASHCROFT! I also approve of that Sen Dog/SBQ/Smoke DZA/EPMD on the cover of Unfinished Business/Omar Epps in Juice bucket hat.
12. The Verve, Urban Hymns (Virgin, 1997). Price classified, like that Sade record I bought a few months ago.
Contrary to what track 4 says, everybody knows that the drugs actually do work. They work nicely. Urban Hymns‘s strings make it fancy, the lyrics make it Caucasian-mopey, and there are just enough drug songs to satisfy. That song “The Rolling People” is about me and my slutty cousin Natalie hanging out with Juicy J and some yellow pokeballs backstage.
“Lucky Man” is the best song on here, prime material for an R&B god to do a version of that makes me cry and want to take my clothes off, but I’d be a fool to ignore the epic influence of walking-down-the-street banger “Bittersweet Symphony.” Rocky rapped over it; I don’t remember a single bar but I’m sure there was something about purple stuff and his stunning beauty. Though successful, this whole Pretty thing remains a tiresome branding technique. Anyway, thinking of Rocky in combination with hearing Naughty By Nature’s “Craziest”on KDAY yesterday has really crystallized my discomfort regarding the lack of a Treach-like flow in 2012. We have Texas flows from New Yorkers and ’90s flows from 17-year-olds, so seems appropriate that we should have a new, baby Treach on the come-up. Let’s go, random baby-voiced teenage girls in Florida with laptop cameras. Rap game’s yours for the taking.
Suitable for bonding with: the same jazz guys I bonded with over Pharoah Sanders and Art Blakey, plus Madlib, because they all think I mean Verve Records when really I’m talking about THEEE Verve. Sigh. It’s hard to talk to space cadets. Also suitable for bonding with people who enjoy making fun of diminutive professional rapper Big Sean, who is like 5’8″, maybe 5’9″ at the most. Replace every one of his “swerve”s with “VERVE” and you can magically turn “Mercy” into one hell of a song.
Yawn: The boring courtroom-bitchery history of “Bittersweet Symphony.” The Verve v. The Stones is no Prince Paul v. The Turtles, trust me.
Person around whom I’d feel most comfortable: Ashcroft, the band’s chief songwriter. He doesn’t play bass or drums so I will not be having sex with him. We’ll just hang out and talk about Leonard Cohen.
13. Black Science Orchestra, “New Jersey Deep” 12″ [Junior Boy’s Own, 2003 (originally ’94, though)]. 99¢.
If this purchase needed justification, that justification would go in this space.
Suitable for bonding with: Other carbon-based life forms who have ears and a soul and are constantly dodging the wolves of insignificance.
My guiding philosophy of the day at the BSM could’ve easily been “I like nice shit and I know how to get it/Hustle, dumbass. It’s not rocket science or Quantum Physics.” Nobody likes a dude who brings 2 Chainz or Wiz along, but aside from that, Curren$y’s got that slurry charisma and he’s fantastic, my personal motivational speaker, a tiny Tony Robbins from the bayou who loves a classic Chevelle. His motivational speeches were in my car speakers during the drive to the venue; “Nice shit” refers to records available for purchase; “hustle” might mean Girl I would suggest you bring your hips, but because I am a feminist and I was raised right plus I’m just really shy, this is a corny as hell negotiation technique that I never employ. During the BSM, it was Bellow’s words that turned out to have more staying power in my brain, though. Do your best, wolves; new memories tied to these records are pending, as we speak. Music persons of Los Angeles and parts nearby: see you guys at the next one!
SPARKLING JEWELS! In effect like alternate side of the street parking rules!
STILL BEEFING WITH: Kev Durant’s shooting accuracy and Westbrook’s incredible clutchness, people who don’t use turn signals, the state of Florida, the radio station at the laundromat that plays the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” every goddamn time I’m there, MMG now and forever, and Daniel Dumile for keeping his tour in foreign places, far away from my home. NEW BEEF:the state of Arizona, that awful new Animal Collective song (honestly, WTF), people who clicked “dislike” under the Danny Brown doc (HONESTLY. what in the fuck), and Nelly for not following Pharrell’s lead in making a respectful mention of the death of Chuck Brown, even though this anger is of my own making. (My expectations are probably too high of someone who puts “CEO of Nelly, Inc” as his first bio credit on Twitter.)
BRAND-NEW BEEF!:my recent lack of self-control at the record store. I am about my paper, obviously, and I like to shout about it; “Look at me, just look how I’m always adding to my collection while still being able to eat and pay rent.” (This is my version of Got a condo on my wrist.) Last week in Pasadena, however, this system took a hit. I overspent, boss. I’m terrible. You say you need a hundred bucks? I’d spot you, but man I’m fresh OUT, or as my man E-40 said during the old school lunch hour on the radio today when I was driving, “perhaps today my scrilla ain’t feeling me.” Being CEO of Logan, Inc. doesn’t pay as well as you’d think.
Big big shout and hello, before we begin, to whoever tagged this blog NSFW on Reddit. Anonymous Internet soldier, you got me about a hundred thousand hits, but my mother would like to have a word with you. “This site is very SFW,” she’ll say, and “And yes, Logan did get her hips from me; who do you think taught her how to use them to get out of speeding tickets?” To those of you who were expecting sexy, sexy filth based on the NSFW tag, I’m sorry for the lack of nudity. We can engage in penetration but only of the cerebral kind. Which reminds me:
WHO WANNA HEAR ABOUT SOME RECORDS I BOUGHT.
NOPE, not my tribute to the Denver Broncos. Hush now. These here are just the outtakes from my shoot for The State vs. Logan Melissa mixtape.
“You will spend $120 for 17 albums at Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena,” said my palm reader a couple weekends ago. “You really should tone it down with the spending,” she added. “Take it easy, baby doll.”
05/12/12. Poo-Bah’s leftside wall that I saw upon entering,
except, in BrownVision™,
HERE’S HOW I SAW IT.
Poobah is the name of a buffoonish, self-important character in a Gilbert & Sullivan opera, and the word has been taken to mean “pompous individual; person who mistakenly believes he or she exerts great influence” ever since. It also means “Slightly chubby MC in Historically Black University hoodie.” Grand Puba’s “360° (What Goes Around)” is all catchy, braggy self-promo with the divine Miss Gladys Knight on the hook and I love that. Puba’s known for getting money, hitting skins (teehee, ’cause it was ’92), wearing Girbauds (’92). Count on it. He’s predictable, like taxes, the sun rising, the circle of life record spinning around and around, “Sweet Dreams” coming on at the goddamn laundromat, Curren$y doing a song per week about cars and penthouses and the whores who love them. Your Starbucks order is so predictable, as is mine of course.
Puba probably wasn’t hitting a ton of skins, in ’92 or at any point, but he was telling the truth about the cyclical nature of human existence. We’re all predictable. I’m predictable. Alamo, is you with me? Cuz there’s just one thing I wanna say, and that is If what goes around comes back around again, tomorrow morning I’m getting my iced coffee with vanilla syrup at Starbucks, just like I did this morning and the morning before that. I’ll do laundry on Saturday; I’ll buy records on Sunday. My buffoonish sense of self-importance leads me to think I can spend and spend and somehow keep apartment 680’s rent paid. I’m coming back to Poo-Bah with my debit card and an intense stare. (When I get evicted, let’s be roommates! I’m a good cook and I’m fun to be around. Just don’t touch my stuff.)
Librarian in a sweater 2 sizes too small, and Sounwave doing his “Black Milk Signs to Interscope in 2005.” Our styles are so different but we both love this Monk Higgins record.
1. Monk Higgins, Dance To The Disco Sax Of Monk Higgins (Buddah, 1974). $4.99.
I learned from Schoolboy’s “There He Go” that some dudes smoke Garcia Vegas (verse 2). I also discovered that I do a mean lean-point-&-lipsynch move (during the hook), and Sounwave and I have at least one record in common in our collections (the break, which comes from Dance to the Disco Sax). What I learned from the video is that Kendrick continues to be the square one of the crew, surrounded by cool guys who manage to be interesting just by sitting there. He’s the Ernie Johnson of Black Hippy, and he’s got Barkley to his far left (Ab) and Shaq to his right (SBQ). Poor Kendrick-Ernie. Anyway, the erotic-thriller sounding piano at the beginning of “There He Go” absolutely makes the song; it’s so dreamy and perfect. But like I’ve said about so many songs throughout history, it would be nothing without those drums.
You need this album. Jesus, what a find! “One Man Band (Plays All Alone)” is the “There He Go” drum break that Sounwave used, and the hook turns up in Meyhem Lauren and Action Bronson’s “Typhoon Rap.” Bronson and Lauren have that big-boned body type in common, and they’ve both done NFL player name songs (“Larry Csonka,” “Ray Lewis”) – a trend that is becoming tiresome even for someone like me (football fan; Fantasy Football team owner; person who tweets at the fucking NFL on Fox robot doofus out of boredom and rage). Bronson and SBQ have this break in common, they both look extremely huggable, and I’m pretty sure they satisfy that requirement I have of all straight men in that they do not know anything about ladies’ purses. None of you guys should know the difference between an LV Speedy and a Trouville. It’s one of my heart’s rules. All I need is simply to be the more feminine one in a relationship, whether that relationship is headphone-based (I don’t know you but I like your music) or flesh-based (I know you, and we are sleeping together, sharing childhood stories, watching Sportscenter, and other couple-y things). Jot it down.
Least surprising name-instrument matchups: Sidney Sharp on strings (alliteration), Freddy Robinson on guitar (“Freddy Robinson” just sounds like a man in the ’70s who played guitar). Most surprising: Jim Horn on flute.
Most Perplexing: Nobody’s chopped n’ looped the first 10 seconds of “Space Race.”The Beatnuts in ’97, get on that. Best Album Title, with its instruction to Dance to the Particular Instrument that Mr. Higgins Plays. Everybody go on and dance if you want to, I’m humming to myself as I write this. The muuuuuusic makes your body move. WELL, ALL RIGHT.I’m still thinking about Ohio after having found Zapp for $2 and marveling at how much Delonte West looks like Bizzy Bone.Jazz dazz, disco jazz, said the Dazz Band (from Cleveland). Jazz dazz, disco jah-yazzz. Monk Higgins was from Arkansas but I feel like he’d agree with the Dazz Band that “disco jazz” is a real thing.
Jeopardy! fact: Jim Horn was often used by Spector in the Wall of Sound, and plays sax on Ike and Tina’s “River Deep, Mountain High.” Tina took her shirt off when recording the vocal, a fact that everyone in the studio remembers with pervy accuracy according to the 3 Spector bios I’ve read. Jim Horn also played sax and flute on Pet Sounds (hi Dad!) and Ladies of the Canyon (hi Mom!), in case the topless Tina story is too sexy for Jeopardy!
Personal goal: “5’7”, 280, murder bloods for rep” – Bronson, “Typhoon Rap.” Start a 5’7″ club with Bronson! Kate Moss can join too.
2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, live at the Forum, April 1969 (bootleg – but Zipper was the first label trying to profit from it, 1988). $7.99.
The topic on LA sports talk radio again today was the Bynum Problem. What do we do about Bynum, everyone wants to know. Our giant baby with the glass knee: will he mature? Or is his inner knucklehead a permanent part of his personality? Call now, lines are wide open, blah blah, opinion, analysis, disagreement, sarcasm, yelling. Andrew will mature, absolutely, unless he doesn’t. We should keep him, or maybe we shouldn’t. I don’t know! It is a debate I have no personal stake in but that nonetheless entertains me, like Backwoods v. Swishers v. Optimos (v. Garcia Vegas!). At the end of the hour, the consensus was that the Laker organization should hire Charles “Terrifying Human Being” Oakley to be an enforcer and knock Andrew’s crybaby block off. Kobe’s serial-killer icegrill has proven to be ineffective in making Andrew act right; Andrew, we all agree, will only respond to physical intimidation. Furthermore, I maintain that if the team played at a creaky, old, soulful venue like the Forum, Andrew’s behavior would not be tolerated. Staples is lovely and comfy, but it’s so completely soulless, from David Beckham’s stupid floppy hat to all the Speedy bags underneath the seats of plastic-breasted ladies sitting courtside. Becks ain’t coming to Inglewood. Listen, the point is what can I possibly say to describe a Hendrix bootleg album that I got for less than ten bucks other than YOU NEED THIS ALBUM and the beautiful gentleman sitting on the hood of the car up there wins the award for Best Impression of Andre Benjamin.
Personal goal:If Oak is available post-Bynum, get him to punch the face of 106 & Park’s Terrence J, whose face was positively built for punching. Normally I don’t have these violent tendencies, but.
3. Smokey Robinson, Big Time soundtrack (Tamla, 1977). $3.99.
“MCs couldn’t hang if they was lynched by the Grand Dragon.”You need this album. It’s got the “8 Steps to Perfection” break.
Prettiest Lady: my forever/always girlfriend Jayne Kennedy, star of Big Time and men’s daydreams, and the epitome of “bad.” Those credentials are good enough, GO JANE, but the bigger feat here is that she’s “bad” while simultaneously looking “sweet” and “has a college degree”-ish, such a tricky combination to pull off. I got “college-degree looking” on lock; “bad,” however, is still something I need to attain. I feel like my hips get me halfway there, but then my gait and prim demeanor set me back in Schoolteacherville. SIGH. Teach me, Jane!
Most Transparent: the marketing folks at Motown Films in 1977. “Small-time con man Big Time Eddie Jones hustles his way to the big payoff,” goes Big Time‘s media kit description, “while trying to stay one step ahead of insurance investigators*, the FBI and the Mob. Think Uptown Saturday Night, with a harder edge.” Ha. Yeah, I bet you’d like me to think Uptown Saturday Night, Motown Films, and you’d also like me to ignore the fact that Big Time has no Poitier, no Silky Slim, and no Geechie Dan. Smokey probably turned up in Jet in ’77, being interviewed for a promo fluff piece and talking about how if you squint hard enough during Big Time, you might see a guy who looks kind of like Richard Pryor. Willie Hutch should’ve just ended the whole charade and put out a song called “Gullible Moviegoers.”
* Least-sexy villains in any film.
BEST OPENING. BEST BEST OPENING. The first 25 seconds of the movie’s theme song bang so freaking hard, courtesy of freaking hard-as-HALE guitar-banger god Wah-Wah Watson. That opening makes you think the song’s gonna be some spacey oddball adventure with sexy alien ladies and maybe a fake-Moroder bassline, but then, sigh, it turns into vanilla ’77 discotheque white-noise. As a listener, I feel bamboozled; “Ha Ha (Gotcha, Bitch)” would’ve been a more appropriate song title. Smokey could only divert from the norm so much, though. Even in the late ’70s he was on that tight Motown leash.
Best Uncredited Appearance:
Jeopardy! fact:Marvin’s I Want You; Blondie, Bohannon, George Duke, Quincy Jones, the Beach Boys: Wah Wah Watson never appeared on a corny album.
Personal goal:Get that El-P + Killer Mike “G-Money” vinyl package. Am I my brother’s keeper? Shut up, who cares, GIMME. I must own it! The instrumental album is blood red!
4. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway(Atlantic, 1972). 99¢.
Chicago’s got some bad juju — Donny’s suicidal brain chemicals, Kanye’s women issues, Derrick Rose’s ACL, poor Chief Keef can’t afford a tshirt. Good Chicago juju, thankfully, includes the unstoppable gray-haired, marriage-equality-pushing most-powerful-man-in-the-world calm-temperament swagger of one B. Obama, and the achy powerful beauty of Donny’s voice (top 10 voices in apt. 680’s collection, easily). I hereby announce that YOU NEED THIS ALBUM. This news fits right in with the rest of the world, as this week was full of facts that did not need to be announced – like Mitch Kupchak’s official statement that the Lakers “will be considering trades” (thanks, Scott Van Pelt) or that _____ and _____ were beefing last week and now, what’s this? They’re collabing? Imagine I’m doing a “Public Service Announcement” freestyle when I tell you this, and it’ll come out less like an order and more like a helpful suggestion: You need this album. It’s Flack and Hathaway. I cannot WAIT for the Weezy x Pusha mixtape, by the way.
This one wins Best Hangover Album—it’s melodic, floaty, and gentle, which makes sense since Arif Mardin was in charge of strings and a gentleman named Joe Gentle played flute on it. (Best and Most Appropriate Flute Player’s Name: Joe Gentle). And it’s got Purdie drums, which are never too brain-rattling. You’ll appreciate this when it’s the morning after you yelled BOTTLES ON ME 14 separate times in one night, and you did that stupid “WOOOOO” that ladies do, and the memories of acting like a retard are flooding your brain and making you cringe and also the terrible terrible nausea.
Roberta and Donny do their take on “You’ve Got a Friend” – appropriate, since they were best buddies. They do “I Who Have Nothing” and “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” a song that I have never liked but it’s got a great Spector-being-creepy story behind it. The critics went nuts for this album. It is a collection of music that is the opposite of ironic. Roberta and Donny will slay the grouchy dragon that lives in your heart with pure, uncut love of humanity. They excel at earnestness. The two of them are the best in the whole world at it, other than maybe Neil Young. The fact that Donny’s brain chemicals were starting to betray him at this point in his life lends a beautiful gravity to the album, and also a sense of really making me mad and hopeless. Stop it, songs, my brain says. It’s like the songs are telling the future, the horrible bleak future of Donny, but that’s not true – I’m just reading too much into the songs like always. It’s best to listen to this album in a vacuum. Put it on and pretend it’s ’72.
Best Piano Break, provided by Donny, above, later used in “On My Block,” the instrumental of which you’ll recognize as the backing track for every “successful MC returns to his old neighborhood” story on MTV. “Where is the Love,” already a huge bummer of a song, provides the break in Nate Dogg’s “Never Leave Me Alone,” last heard in the lunchtime old school hour on the radio every day in Los Angeles for the last 5 years. Ugh. Nate is on my radio these days on the hook of a song called “Party We Will Throw Now,” a song that is too awful for me to link to and which should be called “Make Money off Nate Dogg’s Name and Likeness We Will Do Now.” Biggest Bummer.
Jeopardy! fact: Before she signed to Atlantic, Carole King had imagined that Tin Pan Alley was an actual, physical alley next to the Brill Building. What a dummy! This is why girls shouldn’t be in the music industry.
Personal goal: Jerry Wexler, bosslike always, referred to himself as “a despot who delegated poorly” at Atlantic Records, which reminds me that I should go to the Despot/Killer Mike/El-P/eXquire show at the Echo on 6/28, a block away from my apartment. I need to hear a hundred F words and I need you to buy me a drink and NOT tell me I look skinnier in person like everyone always does.
5. Death Grips, The Money Store (Epic, 2012). $14.99.
FIRST of All, Most Unbelievable in 2012: Epic Records still exists. Second of all, this really is some dude rap and not really appropriate for a proper lady such as myself.
“get get get get got got got got, blood rush to my head lit hot lock/poppin off the fuckin block knot, clockin wrist slit watch bent through bot/tail pipe draggin, volume blastin, bailin out my brain red light flash, dem stop i smash/abraxas*, hydroplane, massive, catch this flight flow, rainin madness/mastered mine and laced, the ave wit black cat fish tailin waves of stratus.”
I’m not going to pretend I can enjoy these lyrics half as much as someone with a penis, because the laws of the universe state that this is impossible. Thisssome DUDE RAP, no doubt about it. But in a world of this type of babyish male communication
I am in pure, old-fashioned, Sacramento industrio-love with Death Grips. Hahaaaaaaaaa. (9 a’s).
In my more compassionate moments, I’ll see a post on Rap Radar about the latest MMG wind-up rapper and think Aw, this is awful music, but what do I care. Let ’em have their fun. Get paid, darlings. I drove to Poo-Bah with the radio on, enjoying that “Burn” song in was the most guilty, dirty pleasure of my week. Then I get the fucking Death Grips album and I’m filled with heat and energy (which I guess is just another way of saying heat) and I think Yes, this is exactly how it should be. Only the people who I say can rap should be able to rap. Meek Mill still has the best cheekbones since Metta World Peace, but the fact remains the pleasure’s been stripped from future listenings of “Burn”; I bet “Cashin’ Out” will be next (sorry for this link, everyone with good taste).And now it is time for an “I’ve Seen Footage” interlude to cleanse my palate.
(I’ll listen to your “Stay Schemin” freestyle if you can get me the “Audemars” instrumental, though. Deal? My fondness for Meek Mill’s vocal playfulness and light rasp is well documented. Unfortunately, I reached my saturation point for Audemar raps back in August ’11, so: instrumental, please.)
“Hustle Bones,” “I’ve Seen Footage,” and “Get Got” are the Best Song Titles in this record haul (next to “Sugar Lump” on that Leon Haywood record). This baby was destined to come home with me the second my eyes met it from across the room; the only misgiving I had about buying it was when I realized that Bieber probably has it on his iPod. But I fought it off, and now The Money Store is home with me, wedged in between some Nu Shooz and Jerry Butler on my living room floor.
Jeopardy! fact: *“Abraxas” doesn’t really mean anything other than “Santana album from 1970.” In Greek, abrasáx is “of obscure origin” but the combined numerical value of the Greek letters is 365, “an important figure in numerology” OOOOOILLUMINATI, YALL.
Personal goal:Get Epic to re-release The Money Store with special bonus track “Phil Rizzuto.”
“Drums: Andy Newmark.”Bass: Gary King.” “Keys, producer, arranged by, conductor: Bob James.”Oh hello Windjammer, I said when I came across it in the bin, You must come home with me based entirely on these 3 credits.(Best Use of Andy Newmark; Best Use of Gary King; Best Use of Bob James). A Google image search of Gary King (I was just curious) has led me to the wonderful world of the TalkBass.com forum (Best Link). But JESUS, Most Disturbing Album Cover. Looks like something out of a Cronenberg movie.
Windjammer features the legendary Bernie Glow on trumpet. If his nickname was not Bernie Blow the music industry and the music-nickname industries have both failed me.
The title track, above, provides the Best Walking-Down-the-Street Snippet (00:22 – 01:01), which turns into the Best Transitional Moment in My Personal Narrative, Such as When I Turn a Corner and See An Ex-Lover and Must Decide Whether to Stay for Some Uncomfortable Conversation or Run Away (01:02 – 01:25, the panic of the horns illustrating this perfectly). Then, starting at 02:48, my ex and I are making out in a sexy, dirty alleyway. (Sorry, Mom! It’s just a makeout; we’re not getting back together). And finally, at 3:20, I come to my senses and continue down the street. Probably Jamba Juice, because I’ll feel a little sick and feverish after I acted that way, making out with my ex – so out of character for me! – and I’ll want something healthy.
“Neo Terra (New Land)” has a spacey, super Bob-James-sounding open that Masta Ace used, though I must deduct points for Low End-era Tribe not using it. It would’ve been perfect. I also must deduct points for Freddie, or more likely Freddie’s A&R, deciding that “Neo Terra” had to include “(New Land)” in its title, since otherwise how could a buyer of this record with some basic understanding of Latin root words possibly know what the words neo terra mean.
Jeopardy! fact: Fellow flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione shares a song title with Afro-Rican (“Give It All You Got”)! This is a Jeopardy! fact but mostly it’s an “excuse to post this song because it’s been a long week and I feel like we can use it, also it’s good for the ass” fact.
Personal goal: Tear myself away from the TalkBass.com forum. It’s the new prince.org in apartment 680.
7. The Bee Gees, Main Course (RSO, 1975). 99¢.
Real Gs move in silence, fierce little Dwayne told me in early ’11. Real Gees, however, make slinky bass and falsetto sounds when they move. Also their hair is feathered and that goes whooooosh when they start walking briskly. Released in August ’75, Main Course entered a world in which the number one jam was the Isleys’ “Fight the Power,” a song about Mookie breaking windows at Sal’s Pizzeria. People obviously needed some levity, and the Gibbs came along to give some.
Side A, track 1: “Nights on Broadway,” yes, perfect, love it, a yummy piece of chord-progression cake with synth frosting. Side A, track 2: “Jive Talkin’,” a headphone banger to such a degree that I get upset when it comes on at CVS in those tinny speakers that don’t do it justice.
These guys were capable musicians, not spectacular, and basically just got white-guy points for being white guys in the non-white-guy dominated world of the dance floor, but they had feathery hair they spent too much time on and they loved soul music, which is also a fitting description of myself. So I love em. The Gibbs came out so strong with those first 2 tracks; Main Course was produced by Arif Mardin which is why there’s that straight ear candy melodic goodness. But the brothers get fatigued out the gate, and the rest of the album is throwaway. Too many ballads. It starts bangingly and ends with a sad whimper, like the legacy of Pau Gasol as a professional athlete in Los Angeles. Still, those first two tracks! You need this album!
“NICE PANTS. HA, you guys look RIDICULOUS” – Kev Durant.
ASSORTED EPIC MOMENTS: Me, looking at the back cover and seeing “Conductor” as a credit (Gene Orloff); the first 10 seconds of “Jive Talkin,” which sounds like it could be the first 10 seconds of almost any Parliament song during the years 1974-9 (those amazing Gibbs! Sweet lord.); the weird echo effect on the “Edge of the Universe” vocals; the perfect BPM of “Nights on Broadway” (the piano break from which turned up in the speakers of every Maxima in ’98, courtesy of Dame Grease’s beat for DMX’s “The Convo.”Put that one on at your next BBQ if you’d like to see all the dudes over age 28 crying into their potato salad.)
Jeopardy! fact: The Gibbs were appointed to the Order of the British Empire. This puts them in the same category as George Martin and the flute player from Jethro Tull.
Personal goal: Book that concert I’ve been lining up in my head – the Bee Gees, the JB’s, O.C., L.T.D., and Thee Oh Sees. Live at PJ’s, of course.
8. David Ruffin, My Whole World Ended (Motown, 1969). $2.99.
My whole world ended when Khalifa’s people jacked the hell out of a Ruffin cover for Kush & OJ. It was upsetting and I regret having seen it. I also discovered a minute ago that “The Double Cross” from My Whole World Ended turns up as the break in, sigh, a J. Cole song. I regret having found this out. Cole’s producer is someone named Canei Finch, who does not appear to be as fresh as his name suggests (“Canei Finch”! So fresh!). His recent Twitter updates include the words “Sherman Oaks is popping,” which is absolutely a lie so I must leave Canei Finch behind. Moving on.
My Whole World Ended is like all other Ruffin albums in that it falls into the category of Records That Both Juicy J and I Would Tell You to Buy if You Ever See Them In Your Local Store’s Bin, along with anything by Womack or Willie Hutch. This alone is reason enough to buy it. Also, it’s Ruffin. You need this album. Support beautiful, doomed, coke-ravaged vocal masters by collecting their records, even though Berry Gordy is obviously Illuminati.
Personal goal: Have someone look at me longingly while the title track plays.
Jack and his lady with the tight-as-all-hell outfit-coordination Tampa Bay Bucs colorway.
9. Brother Jack McDuff, Tobacco Road (Atlantic, 1967). $5.99.
Best Hammond. Best Hammond. Tobacco Road was produced by Lew Futterman, a last name that ‘70s/’80s/’90s babies will probably (hopefully) always associate with “Futterman’s Rule” from Ill Communication. The album was purchased on the strength of Brother Jack’s esteemed status as a man whose songs were frequently tapped for ’90s breaks, but that cover design helped convince me, and the fact that “The Shadow of Your Smile” turns up in an Action Bronson song really just solidified the deal.
Statik Selektah looped that flute in “Shiraz,” which features the Logan-pleasing combination of words “I’m straight stoned – Sly, thank you.” I’m so easy. And here’s to my second Action Bronson mention in one post! King me! Oh, wait—what I meant was QUEENS me, due to my compulsive need to be clever. You need this album because it’ll remind you of that funny wordplay I just employed.
Brother Jack was from Illinois, so an album called Tobacco Road is silly. Then I found out the song was written by John Loudermilk, from North Carolina, and this soothed me because it made absolute sense. Loudermilk also wrote “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye,” a song of numerous versions that we will all now (hopefully) associate with this, below, the very best version, Johnny Nash’s version, which leads to my Turn-and-Look-Over-Your-Shoulder-Please-Don’t-Go/Heartbreaking-Vocal-Beauty-of-Johnny-Nash Interlude Yall, concurrent with my Strongest Plea with Kanye to NOT Use This as a Break, Ever, NO KANYE DON’T DO IT PLEASE You’ll Ruin It:
Jeopardy! fact: Bull Durham Tobacco had its logo painted behind the Yankees’ dugout, thereby sparking the phrase “bullpen.”
Personal goal: Get a hug from cuddly tough guy Bronson. He’s probably top ten in the world right now when it comes to huggers.
She takes my flight/she holds my weight.
10. Jack White, Blunderbuss(Third Man, 2012). $19.99. (OUCH)
Jack reached his high point in my heart with that live video of the Raconteurs doing “Level,” oh my god, a walking-down-the-street banger from which my hips may never recover. Blunderbuss is helping to keep him in my heart, because of his freaky upper-register vocal tricks and because I like it when I have the same taste in music as someone whose record I’ve just purchased (the guitar riff that starts “Sixteen Saltines” proves that Jack and I both really love the intro of Def Leppard’s “Photograph”).
I’ve loved songs about homemade narcotics ever since daddy played George Jones’ “White Lightnin'” in the living room on Saturday mornings when I was little. This is why, as a grown-up, I’ll beat you, anytime, just name the place, if you’d like to engage in a Nickatina-lyrics-off with me. Or perhaps E-40’s more your speed? Let me know! Bro we can do this anytime. We can do this. My brain’s got a special area where the verses are embedded, deep within the gray folds, and it’s only gotten more developed with age. I am also guaranteed to love anything with a pedal-steel guitar in it because of all my dad’s other Saturday-morning turntable DJ classics. The lovely pedal-steel on Blunderbuss‘ title track, which I love of course, comes courtesy of Fats Kaplin. He played with Pure Prairie League, the ones behind baby-Logan-family-vacation-car-tape-deck-everybody-sing-along-banger “Amie,” even though Kaplin wasn’t in the band when they recorded “Amie.” Nonetheless: “AMIE” INTERLUDE YALL.
Best Bars in This Record Haul, and Jack’s Not Even an MC: “Spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat/Drifting away when I’m talking and laughing as we float/I hear her whistle, that’s how I know she’s home/Lipstick, eyelash, broke mirror, broken home/Force fed, force meds ’till I drop dead/You can’t defeat her, when you meet her you’ll get what I said/The Lord knows there’s a method to her madness/But the Lord’s joke is a boat in a sea of sadness.”
You need this album.Like most great things in the universe, RZA is partly responsible for it. “Freedom at 21” was co-produced by LTJ Bukem, according to my imagination when I heard the opening drums. The title track is about fantasy love and contains the line An ancient grand hotel of Persian thread and ivory/And when your man would turn his head I’d see you look at me, which I swear is from an R. Kelly song. Plus the vinyl just feels really good to hold. It’s nice and hefty. I like a record that weighs 2 or 3 pounds, like a premature baby.
Jeopardy! fact: A blunderbuss is a musket-type gun. It’s also something you call a “clumsy, unsubtle” person. That’s why Cory Gunz can also be called Cory Blunderbuss without his name losing any meaning.
Personal goal: Go to Detroit. Make it a real place in my heart and head. The problem, guys, is that Detroit’s too fraught with history, tragic romance, and musical pixie dust. It’s not real. It’s Henry Ford, Derrick May, Barry Sanders, Proof. The motor city’s burning. We almost lost Detroit. Kick out the fucking jams. Bass bass bassbassbass, metal-pipe sound from the GM assembly line, backspin, bass. I know from the hit film 8 Mile that Detroit gentlemen like to have sex in factories. I know from books that what was once Aretha’s dad’s church (New Bethel Baptist) is on the corner of Linwood and Philadelphia. But I don’t know where the westside begins or how to get to Ford Field. “I would never let my children roam the Dexter-Linwood area or 7 Mile and Chalmers,” says a concerned parent on a Detroit message board, “but how many responsible parents would?” Concerned parent, how should I know? I’ve never been to Detroit. I need to go to Detroit. I’ve already practiced what I’ll look like at People’s Records.
CATCH ME SHOPPIN AT PEOPLE’S, LOOKIN REAL NSFW IN SOME LEGGINGS.
11. Lalo Schifrin, Voyage of the Damned score (ATV/Entr’acte, 1977). $3.99.
There’s no gentle way to say that this is the score of a film about a boatful of doomed Jewish refugees in 1939. Voyage of the Damned is a super bummer of a record, but even bummer Lalo, unstimulating Lalo, is Lalo worth having. The music does what it’s supposed to – just kind of lulls around in your brain after you’ve listened. It’s not a good sex record; it’s a folding laundry with frequent moments of staring off into space record. I could try to sell it by convincing you that owning this Lalo record will provide you with a wonderful object to spark historical conversation with your children about major life themes (persecution, war, humanity). I’ll just leave it at It’s Lalo Schifrin; you need this album.
At least 100 Bibles have been to the moon, I read once in Harper’s index. It made sense. People like to feel secure when they go on trips in which they might die; Lalo’s soothing background music for the boat trip was composed with this credo in mind. And for some levity, let me point out that one of the film’s protagonists is named Professor Egon Kreisler, played by THE GOD Max Von Sydow, whose characters always sound like they need to be mentioned in Doom songs (“Lankester Merrin,” “Colonel Kosnov,” “Antonius Block”). I’d tell this to Doom in person if only he’d bring his tour to my country, the United States.
Jeopardy! fact: Lalo was nominated for an Oscar for this score. But he was up against Jerry Goldsmith for The Omen and Bernard Herrmann for Taxi Driver, so, unshockingly, Lalo went winless. Shockingly, however, Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky did NOT win Best Song in ’77 (Conti lost to Oscar juggernaut Barbra Streisand). This is a 35-year-old fact that I find so irritating it might as well have happened yesterday.
Personal goal: “Antonius Block” – DOOM feat. Kool Keith, Danny Brown, Mac Dre, Brian Eno, Scarface, The D.O.C., Reggie Watts, and Nas when he was 19, with some mid-90s UGK skull-rattle bass, someone on a Rhodes from ’74, and 3 or 4 Dilla sirens sprinkled throughout.
12. Wait Isn’t This the Dude Who’s Related to Alice Coltrane, The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder, 2011). $9.99.
Thundercat’s real name is Steve Bruner, a name so uncool it sounds like a cop’s name, and therefore comes with automatic ironic-cool cachet that almost makes up for the stupid photo above. YES, we see your Louis belt, Officer Steve Bruner of the LAPD’s Rampart division. You are dressed like a child and I’m mad you don’t use your real name. How could you NOT use the name Steve Bruner professionally? I do not approve of not using the name Steve Bruner. I also do not approve of cutesy-spellings for song titles (track 1: “HooooooO”), or strategically-placed Louis belts. Other than that, Nice Personnel on Your Record, Thundercat (Badu, the Sa-Ra guys, Daddy Kev). Nice Musical Genes; sadly, the musical-genes card is not as meaningful as it once was. For every Droop-E and Scoop Deville, there are the LMFAO professional musicians who have the blood of Berry Gordy running through them. And other than that, the best way to appreciate The Golden Age of Apocalypse is to indulge in some lo-fi sexytimes. Listen to some Julian Wass beats. Then listen to 4 Carl Craig tracks, The K + D Sessions, then Dots & Loops, Stanley Clarke’s first 3 records, then finish up with that Joy Orbison coke song, because I’m pretty sure those are the exact steps Thundercat took before sitting down to make this album. I’ll give it a few more listens, though, when I’m more focused. He’s a bass player so I will probably grow to love this record. But I’m too annoyed right now about the fact that there are 2 dudes nicknamed “Daddy” on this record’s credits (Daddy Kev mastered; Daddy Dave on drums), plus I’m still getting over the radness of the name Antonius Block. Gimme some time.
Jeopardy! fact: The Thundercats are apparently already a thing, all rights reserved, and cannot be copied or rebroadcast without the expressed written consent of blah blah. I believe the expression I always hear on Law & Order is “Lawyer up, Thundercat.”
Personal goal: Make fewer impulse buys at the record store. I should also probably listen to more Homeboy Sandman and Ty Segall, but whatever. I’m a busy lady.
Most “Are You My Boyfriend?” YouTube Comment: “1:05 looks like Paris the black fu from detroit grand pubahs” – darkmagik347, who should have my phone number.
Cutest YouTube Comment: “he’s got picachu pants on. DOPE.” This tells you everything you need to know about Thundercat and about the fans of Thundercat.
13. Leon Haywood, Keep it in the Family (20th Century, 1974). $1.99.
He’s got some sort of poly-blend pants on. DOPE! Most ’70s Outfit.
Most ’70s Cover Design (nature scene + lapels + singer/songwriter wistful gaze, which is usually seen on James Taylor album covers.) Most ’70s Name: “Leon Haywood.” Sounds like he should be playing bass in Sister Sledge or training Larry Holmes for his next match.
Sam Cooke hired Leon to play keys in his band, and this is yet another reason as to why Sam Cooke is not nearly as square as his reputation (and cherubic face) leads you to think. I heard Bieber and Curtis Jackson were at the Cotto-Mayweather fight a couple weeks ago. Aw, cute, but hey, I got some grown-man game for you, ESPN: Malcolm X sat courtside at the Ali-Liston fight in ’64, a seat away from Sam Cooke – a fact that further proves that Sam Cooke is not nearly as square as his rep and cherubic face leads you to think. The casual way in which I yield such a fact is proof that I’m like the Nardwuar of midcentury soul music if I were around in the midcentury and had a camera crew and were not afraid of looking foolish on camera. Listen, you need this record. Leon’s best known for “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You,” which seems a little forward for a dude who doesn’t even know me, but what can I do, I got that allure. He will never do anything as incredible as that song ever again, and he doesn’t have to. Mannie’s never making anything half as good as 400 Degreez but his legacy is established. I’ll still be inconsolable when he dies. If he dies. Goonies Whoadies never say die.
Jeopardy! fact: X-Cooke-Ali-Liston.
Personal goal: “Blah blah Big Meech, Larry Hoover/’B.M.F. Beautiful’ is a song by Leon Haywood – hallelujah.” Include this line in my upcoming mixtape Teflon Fawn. (doe eyes)
“Internet, amphetamines and seclusion inspired my new album” – Danny BrownGrimes
14. Grimes, Visions (4AD, 2012). $12.99.
How could I not love a cutesy woodland creature who shows up in a filthy Gainesville strip club in 1989 to sing over some Magic Mike breaks and also Kraftwerk is her backing band? HOW COULD I NOT LOVE HER. Grimes is rad. Elle est ma, howdoyousay, petit French-Canadian synth-bass chipmunk. But the thing that’s troubling about Grimes is that the people who love her music today are the same people who tortured her in high school. I had to buy this, though. You should buy this. Support thick-eyebrowed girls who weren’t popular in high school.
Big Sean makes way more commercially successful Welcome-to-Gamma-Phi-Beta Whitegirl Party Jams, as every female customer at H&M demonstrates when he comes on the playlist loop and they all walk around mouthing his verses to their friends and I want to die. But Grimes makes the Best Whitegirl Jams in This Particular Record Haul. She elicits true, uncut, premium-grade white girlishness inside of my skinny frame and big heart, just like when “There is a Light and it Never Goes Out” comes on the car radio and I lose control of my tear ducts and I must sing along. The Smiths turn me into a character in a future-apocalypse sci-fi movie in which I’ve been given a directive. I must sing along in order to save my own life and the lives of my family members. I feel it pretty deeply, you guys. Anyway, I’m a sarcastic, insecure white woman in a major metro area so of course as I write this I’m wearing my standard-issue Toms, eating a mayo sandwich, watching Girls, listening to Grimes. Bet you didn’t know she did the hooks on “Oh Boy”and “Through the Wire,” neither.
Jeopardy! fact: It rained lizards in Montreal once. “Lizards in Montreal,” by the way, is the Grimes remix of “N—-s in Paris.”
Personal goal: Get someone in the universe to create a grime Grimes mixtape – maybe Semtex could host it? – with Rae doing verses and Grimes doing the hooks, called Son I Had Crazy Visions. I’d also like to put on a sundress and walk through a grassy meadow while “Be a Body” plays at a hundred decibels.
15. The Dramatics, A Dramatic Experience(Volt, 1973).$2.99.
Most Sendakesque Cover.
My dad had an OG copy of this, and misplaced it during the family move from First House to Second House when I was in high school. I got mad at him and went off to pout. I made mischief of one kind, then another kind, and then I sailed back over a year, in and out of weeks, and through a day, and into Poo-Bah Records in Pasadena, and found A Dramatic Experience, then brought A Dramatic Experience home, into the night of my very own room, where I put it on the turntable, AND IT WAS STLL HOT. You need this album.
A Dramatic Experience was recorded in Detroit during the fall of ’72. Amazing human Robert Harris was mayor of Ann Arbor at the time and worked with the city council to reduce weed-possession fines. “I’ll Be Around” was a big hit. The Tigers won their division. You were probably feeling yourself pretty hard if you were from the Detroit major metro area in the early ’70s. If it were me, I would’ve made up a story about how I grew up 2 streets over from Tony Hester, production god, arrangement god, writing god, who roared his terrible production roar and showed his terrible arrangement claws, warning us on A Dramatic Experience that “The Devil is Dope,” a song about the joys of hare-on that tries to pass itself off as an anti-drug song. (It’s impossible to make an anti-heroin song; email me your counter-arguments if you like, but I will just write “NOPE” in my reply to you.) This album’s necessary because it’s the Dramatics, simple as that, but they used up the really good stuff a year earlier on Whatcha See is Whatcha Get. If there is a better way to announce yourself to the world than by screaming and firmly suggesting everyone get the fuck up, I don’t want to know about it because I will have a hundred orgasms and then drop dead and I ain’t done living yet. They incorporate my favorite ’70s R&B thing of calling a woman mama (“Get up, now look at mama/Look at mama”). Then they fucking start side B with “In the Rain,” murdering it, just chewing up and spitting out my heart and guts. Tony Hester was Pac Man, treating my heart and guts like pac-dots. Game, as Lil Flip would say, over.
Lloyd Banks’ “Just Another Day” samples “Beware of the Man with the Candy in His Hand,” yet another attempt by ’70s musicians to convince me not to try pills and powder; meanwhile, most of the ’70s albums in my collection were made by dudes on pills and powder. Sigh. Stop trying to make drugs not cool, musicians. You sound like my middle school principal. Tone Capone does a nice job with the sample; here’s the instrumental version, free of Banks’ voice, because that’s how it should be. Capone also produced “I Got 5 On It” (!!) but had to resort to working with Banks a few years later because the mortgage payment was due. No judgment here. Get it, daddy. Even Donald “Duck” Dunn, bass god, may he rest in eternal sexy throbbing-bass peace, played on a freaking Rod Stewart album.
Most Diverse Side Hustles: Ellis Chapell. An in-house artist for Stax and Volt, he did the cover painting for A Dramatic Experience, designed book covers for John Grisham, Kurt Vonnegut, and Elmore Leonard, was the commissioned portraitist of the Neville Brothers for NARAS, and, most impressively, did the University of Tennessee Dental College portrait of Dr. Jim Slagle!
Most Stubborn:me. I’m in the minority in LA with this one, but seeing the Dramatics backing up Snoop in “Doggy Dogg World” is an experience I have always found to be legacy-killing and sad. Same for Roger Troutman in facepaint and spikes in the “California Love” video. Nobody knows how to shame some R&B gods like those shysters at Death Row. I’m digging in my heels and informing you all that The Dramatics shall always remain in the ’70s, where they belong, when it comes to my memory.
Jeopardy! fact: Oh, I don’t know – some random fact about Al Bell or Isaac Hayes. I got a million of ’em.
16. Roberta Flack, First Take(Atlantic, 1969). $3.99.
Joel Dorn, producer, is reason enough for me to insist that you need this album. And look – there’s Ron “Pretty Flaco” Carter on bass! But mostly you need First Take for the smoke-and-look-out-the-window-at-nothing heartbreak standard “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” which sounds like something A$AP “Pretty Flaco” Rocky says he hears from girls all the time. (I don’t find him to be that pretty, but he keeps insisting that I do). The song is Roberta’s take on the ODB classic with words that I am too ladylike to repeat here and which is this record haul’s Best 13-Year-Old-Boy Memory-Provoker. Remember when you heard Return to the 36 Chambers for the first time at your friend’s house? You were 13 and in love with dirty words and sex talk. You still are, even though you’re grown; you just hide it better these days.
Jeopardy! fact: Joel Dorn once said, “A bell goes off in your stomach when you see or hear something that grabs you.” He was describing his ear for good production and, years later, my body’s response to 808.
Personal goal: Get Roberta to write her autobiography. (Roberta Flack has no autobiography! That’s wrong!) I’m guessing she’s got a few stories to tell.
17. The Jimmy Castor Bunch, Dimension III(RCA, 1973). $9.99.
PROMOTIONAL ALBUM–NOT FOR SALE, which is good, because you, sadly, do not need this record. I won’t ask you to watch me now or feel the groove when I put this on. You don’t need it. Get that YMO record for $9.99 instead.
It’s got a lack of Lenny Fridie on congas and that’s not Jimmy’s fault. He is to blame, however, for the stupid decision to cover “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” What in the world. The original song is unable to be improved upon, because the original has that Hammond. Jimmy’s sax can’t save the day elsewhere on Dimension III, either. In 1973, nobody could out-horn-section Willie Hutch.
Jeopardy! fact: You’d describe the third dimension as “Thickness in an object or space,” which I wish Alex Trebek would say because it would sound like he’s talking about ass.
Personal goal: Instigate some kind of silly beef in the comments section. That would be funny and make me feel powerful.
Comments Section Suggested Beef Topic: Jimmy’s “L.T.D. (Love, Tenderness, Devotion)” are better initials than L.T.D.’s L.T.D. (Love, Togetherness, Devotion). Go.
$120 for 17 records. Quit fussin, I say to my checking account, There’s so much to love in this new group, a bright and lovely bunch, and I wouldn’t return any of them – not even Castor. My game needs tightening, though. Spending like this jeopardizes my apartment, plus it’s just sad that I can’t control myself. My Beat Swap Meet #18 haul just kicked some dirt in my face, then laughed and ran off to tweet about it.
Pros:XXX on display just for me, I swear; huge selection of used stuff – especially jazz and soul; store DJ plays upstairs from a perch (the Honey Cone! Lee Hazlewood! Pharoah Sanders!); good, cheap prices like the record store gods intended. It’s also just down the street from Coffey Optical, which makes me feel like Dennis secretly lives in Pasadena and loves fitting people for frames.
“Whether a man is drawn to a woman’s body or her face may depend on whether he sees her as a short-term fling or a long-term lover”– LiveScience.
Men considering just a fling with a woman were more likely to peek at a picture of her body than men who were thinking about a long-term relationship, research found. The guys considering a long-term relationship showed a preference for looking at her face.
The findings may reflect men’s evolutionary drives… Men who want a fling may be subconsciously looking to a woman’s waistline to judge the woman’s current fertility. Men looking for long-term partners, on the other hand, may be more interested in her face for clues of reproductive potential in the future.
Otis Ray Redding, jr. covering Samuel Cooke – “You Send Me.” I don’t want to hear your version of “B.M.F.” that you just put on YouTube, and I don’t want to discuss Kolb v. Vick in Philly. I just want you to play this, darling. It’s OK if you look down there more than up here, but only while this song is on.
Life is wonderful, fly living rooms, brass brooms Catch me in the city of Watts, dusted out with Doc Doom
– Ghostface, “Belt Holders”
Essentialism is ridiculous, I learned in Lit 101. Identities are always in flux, changing with the times. Nobody is bound by their socially-constructed religious or gender or skin-tone tribe; that’s ridiculous! Just pulling this random example out of thin air: you can be a woman feminist with a master’s degree who is also a part-time studio apartment swimsuit model; these are not opposing things. The notion of “false universalisms,” that there are attributes that all members of a particular group share, is dead. Canadian white women aged 18-24 are like this, and Black men who wear suits are like that; ridiculous. Really. All of that aside, the truest thing in apt. 15 today is that if a subject has Watts in its name, it is a wonderful, high-quality thing. Everything with Watts in its name is amazing! Everything.
(The exceptions, because of course there have to be some since blog posts never go as smoothly as you’d like, is former Republican Congressman J.C. Watts, and the Watts uprising of 1965. Neither of those things is wonderful, and neither did any good for anybody.)
Alan Watts, philosopher, radio host, friend of John Cage and Gary Snyder and other sensitive white men of whom my parents are fond. Known for his radio show, for making Buddhist tenets easily digestible by white kids In Search of Meaning (my parents, ca. 1974), and for such snippets of genius as “No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart,” and “Saints need sinners,” and, regarding the use of psychedelics, “When you get the message, hang up the phone.” Oh. Word.
Hating ass individuals come in droves with this guy, like they always do with popular people; Watts was often criticized by fellow Buddhists for not interpreting Buddhist texts accurately. Russell Simmons relieving himself in his solid gold toilet before he goes to yoga knows a little something about that. But how can you fault somebody for wanting to spread some kindness and free us all from the rotten cycle of samsara? Get a grip, people. Watts saw a basic human alienation among Westerners that he felt the need to soothe, and his radio broadcasts are quite pleasant to listen to. I think Watts did more good than harm, and his place on this list is well-earned.
Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. They’re the reason this whole idea sprouted in my brain, and the first Watts-related thing I wrote on the list. Charles Wright got his start playing in clubs where ladies took their clothes off, which is so funny because, years later, this lady enjoys taking her clothes off to Charles Wright! I’m sad to say Express Yourself is the only record from Watts 103rd in my collection; the reissues aren’t hard to find at Amoeba, so there hasn’t been that panic I usually feel when I’m missing an endorphin-swirling funk classic among my records. I could go get In the Jungle, Babe tomorrow if I wanted to, and if I had any money left over, You’re So Beautiful (with the superfine “What Can You Bring Me?”* that punks jumped up and got beat down to in ’93). Express Yourself was released in 1970, but even in 2010 it hasn’t lost its sweaty power. You put it on and Charles and his boys are still bumpin & grindin like a slow jam, and Cali is still where they put they mack down; gimme love.
The Echo Park Eagles are currently 0 and 1. Opening week (last Sunday) I dressed in a cozy sweater, loungey underpants, and socks to watch various football games you can see on basic cable, and waited for someone, my pretend boyfriend like PharaoheMonch, to join me. Nobody came. Evidently you people hate a skinny girl who can make good baked chicken and who has 10,000 records and a backyard weed farm. So I hugged Charles Wright (in 12″ form) and documented my ridiculous pouty face to show the Internet, my actual boyfriend. Nobody gets me like he does.
Michael Watts, producer, label owner, deuce chunk-er, Screwston work put-er in-er. Texans from his neighborhood swear he invented the “chopped and screwed” term; since I have no reason to dispute that, I’m posting it here like it’s the truth. Back in ’05, I thought I was real cute and funny when I wrote in my “Music” section on my MySpace page, “anything as long as it’s chopped and screwed.” 5 years down the road, ain’t shit changed; I still represent Swishahouse* (*2005-2006). Michael gets a place here mostly because of all the one-liners in “Still Tippin‘” –
Boss Hog on candy. It takes grindin to be a king. I got the Internet goin nuts.
Another thing I like about him is that instead of “5000 Watts,” his nickname could be “5 Kilowatts.”
Reggie Watts, 21st Century Schizoid Man. Included here because he’s post-comedy, post-weird, has a nice thick head of hair, and is probably deeply depressed—everything I need in a man. He’s the smartest guy in the room and I always tag along behind the smartest guy in the room, hoping he notices me. And everything in his act sounds like something out of a Doom song.
Wattstax, 1972 concert. Just…oh god, it’s the most amazing thing, I can’t believe I even have to describe it here. Go watch the movie, motherfucker. Rufus, Isaac, Carla, the Staple Singers, the Bar-Kays, and numerous others lift ev’ry voice and sing at the mighty Coliseum. And it only cost $1 to get in!
Sweat plus bass plus absorbing the crowd’s collective high from Jesse Jackson’s call-and-response means I surely would’ve gotten pregnant at this event. “In Watts, we have shifted from ‘Burn, baby burn’ to ‘Learn, baby learn’,” Jesse says, without a trace of corniness. Later, Rufus Thomas comes on stage to do “The Breakdown”; “Ain’t I’m clean?” he rhetorically asks, 30 years ahead of Kanye’s whole Dear audience, please tell me how great I am and how fucking fresh my JunyaWatanabe dunks are act. WATCH IT, I said.
The Watts Towers, tall, spindly, metal/glass/mosaic/mesh/mortar/porcelain creatures rising from south Los Angeles concrete, built by immigrant hands. Simon Rodia was a construction worker from Italy who built the thing over the course of 33 years and called it Nuestro Pueblo—“our town.”
“(Rodia) constructed a dream-like complex of openwork towers . . . and encrusted them with a sparkling mosaic, composed mainly of what had once been refuse,” said Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker, in 1965. Like the architectural, tangible version of the Dust Brothers and Paul’s Boutique, kids! Soon there’ll be a skatepark there, too.
“Watts Riot,” Kam feat. Ice Cube.Fightin the police with my peers/With head & shoulders, and no more tears. Shampoo raps! Love some shampoo raps. DJ Pooh produced this in ’93, and the place and time from which it came is clear when you hear that beat, so crowded and filled with sirens. Kam had that serious voice like a university professor, making everything sound important. Cornel West in a clean white tee and Chucks.
Do people in Brooklyn actually say “What it look like”?I’ve heard that in song but I just don’t know. I can tell you that when Roger Troutman sings “In the cityyyy of good ol’ Watts,” like that’s something that locals say, he’s just repeating what Ronnie Hudson sang in “West Coast Poplock.” Ronnie himself made that up. Good ol’ Watts. Nobody actually says that in LA. I mean, nobody used to say that; now they do. It’s been added to our lexicon because it was stated over a catchy melody, like “Inglewood always up to no good.” I’ve heard people say these things. Such is the power of song.
Naomi Watts. Straight men, you’ve seen Mulholland Drive, right? That’s what I thought! Hi, straight men! She’s on the list because everyone, everyone loves a blonde fake lesbian. Additionally, she makes good film choices, and her man is LievSchreiber, San Fran-raised offspring of superleftists and foxy tall artistic strong-facial-featured man of Judaic extraction. She and Liev do it in sweaty and intense fashion every night, I’m certain. For the revolution.
Honorable mention: the Watts Prophets. Semi-honorable mention: Charlie Watts (meh), drummer for the Rolling Stones. He’s so very meh (I’m not really a Stones girl), although the first 10 seconds of “Paint It Black” succeeds in its goal of making me feel like I’m surfing in the great blue ocean while also pointing a rifle out of a helicopter above the jungles of Saigon.
Me and my precious new rectangular baby, How to Wreck a Nice Beach!
It was a lovely weekend. Special shout to Stories, the good people at Urban Outfitters who make consistently pretty dresses for girls with hips, the “Ha Ha” instrumental, Bruce Haack, Nutella always, Bob Power for being named Bob Power and for ruling, KCRW for playing Little Willie John’s “My Love Is” at the exact perfect moment on Sunday afternoon, and Mr. Tompkins, of course. Even in a perfect world, where everyone was equal, Dave would most likely own the film rights and be working on the sequel.
But don’t take my word for it.
“Reading Rainbow” theme. Horrendous sound quality, but kindly disregard that.
“Everybody hates it, but you gotta see it once.” – Murs (kinda)
LA’s like my little brother, you see, in that I can make fun of it but you’re not allowed to. Disparaging remarks about this terrible place will not be tolerated and I’ll probably have to take it back to ’96 and say you’ll catch a bad one if any of you people make jokes about traffic or earthquakes, although that’s mostly because they’re cliched and unfunny.
The Dodgers are like Drake, of course, in that they’re both well-funded, popular, and awful. The redeeming thing about LA baseball, though, is that when you’re walking to Dodger Stadium (which can be done from apartment 15!), you’ll pass traffic and might get swallowed up by the earth thanks to plate tectonics but goddammit if you don’t have the greatest and most elegant logo of baseball aesthetics on your fitted.
Breathtaking! It’s so strong and foxy, this design–even with serifs, which normally adds daintiness and makes the masculinity plummet. Says the astute David Kipen of the LA Times(my partner in geeking out about the history of stuff and then feeling obligated to share it with the world), “Whoever takes credit for it, the Dodger symbol represents a triumph of logocraft.” (Spell-check doesn’t recognize logocraft, it turns out, because spell-check is stuffy and unhip.)
“On a purely aesthetic level, the Dodger insignia is, demonstrably, the most beautiful in all of baseball.” It’s clean. Uncluttered. It’s got thrift, Kipen says, because nothing is wasted. The lower bar of the L doubles as the cross bar of the A.
It demonstrates teamwork, “because the letters don’t just share that crossbar, they overlap and interlock. This is how baseball is supposed to work…get on base, set the table, move the runner over, play hurt, take one for the team.” Aww.
It connects. “No one calls Boston ‘B,’ and NYC isn’t generally known as ‘NY’ but we go by ‘L.A.’ at least as often as Los Angeles. (There’s) speculation that before the Dodgers came west, people may not have thought of Los Angeles as ‘L.A.,’ or not nearly as ubiquitously.” DJ Muggs and Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys prove that people and organizations really start to do their best work, I mean really really start shining, when they start in NY and come to LA.
So even though the Black Thought is technically superior to The Game in every way, when it comes to the logos they display to the world on their head and etched into their facial epidermis, respectively, LA has it sewn up tight. Knowin nothin in life but to be legit, you guys. We don’t call it 5-0; we call it one time. Joni Mitchell, OJ, porn, the gunpowder on Phil Spector’s hands, Cypress Hill’s first record. LA, you’re a jerk and I love you.
“Blue Monday,” Fats Domino, preceding New Order by about a hundred years. Because the Dodgers have their own shade of blue, and because this song was a hit right around the time they moved to LA in ’58. I’d also like to add that, FYI, I should work in a ’50s theme restaurant, not only because I have the gams for a short cheerleader skirt and I can make change for a customer on the fly totally in my head, but because I’d get to listen to bass-y, heavy-bottomed rock n’ roll music like this my whole shift.
Saturday morning, oh Saturday morning. All my tiredness is gone away. Got my money and my honey. And I’m out on the stand to play.
This post written most definitely without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball, but please realize it was all made possible by Kirk Gibson’s moustache, the iced elbow of Swarthy, Handsome Judaic Man Sandy Koufax*, and the fact that Vin Scully and Manny Ramirez are both from Washington Heights (!).
Men and women get jealous over their romantic partners for different reasons, says science, and it’s all because we’re unevolved beasts ruled by our lizard brains, seeking pleasure, food, water, and another beast to make babies with that won’t run off and make babies with every other beast in the village.
But men and women differ on what kind of cheating they think is the worst – women are bothered more by men’s emotional infidelity and a soulful kind of connection with other females, whereas men find women’s sexual infidelity more painful and difficult to forgive.
“The widespread evolutionary explanation posits that men rank sexual infidelity as the greater sin because over the eons they learned to be hyper-vigilant about sex, as they could never be absolutely certain that their children were actually theirs. Women, on the other hand, became more bothered by emotional infidelity, because they are concerned about having a partner to help raise their children.”[LiveScience]
All of us Wu babies are well-versed in this logic. The rule for girls in Loud/Rawkus/Def Jam-based relationships is that you can do whatever you want, just a) don’t bring shame upon this family and b) wear clothes that cover your ass. And when Meth told me in ’94 Never ever give my p—y away, I LISTENED. Ticaaaaaal.
(By the way, Meth is just fine with me giving my emotional intimacy, daily reports on the events of my life, requests for foot massages, and frequent music nerd discoveries away. Sigh. No more rappers for me in twentyten, you guys.)
I swear to god I hope we fuckin DIE together. This is, coincidentally, exactly what Marvin Gaye told Tammi Terrell back in ’67. “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
INDIANAPOLIS – JANUARY 16: Pierre Garcon, #85 of the Indianapolis Colts, holds up the Haitian flag after the Colts’ 20-3 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lucas Oli Stadium on January 16, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. [Andy Lyons/Getty Images]
Everything went the way it was supposed to, football-wise, today in apt. 302:
1) Colts over Ravens, 2) Saints over Cardinals. Or as Marcus, who is 9 years old and lives across the hall says, “Both of the bird teams lost!” GODDAMN RIGHT, MARCUS. (Uhmm,darn right. Sorry. Nevertheless: high-five in the hallway between apt. 302 and 305!)
And at the end of his game, 3) Garcon held up the flag like we all knew he would and championed the cause of helping his beloved Haiti, which made me, of course,
4) think about this
and which made me, of course, 5)curious about the Haitian flag – the meaning of the blue & red, and the emblem in the white square.OCD, represent repre–zent–zent. So:
PS, quite a shift in tone so I had to sneak it in at the end of this post –
Even though I’m not up on my Indy rap like I’m up on my indie rap, I hear that the kids call Indianapolis Naptown, plus I really like this G-Fresh “On My Momma” song with its big dumb sing-along chorus. It’s a good time, you guys; relax. Wait til you see me in the club, as I have successfully convinced myself that if this comes on I will be the only blonde girl in history to successfully pull off the blonde-girl-in-the-club-singing-along-with-a-rap-song-chorus-while-holding-her-rum-&-Coke-aloft, remaining cute and not the least bit obnoxious the whole time. Just you wait.
1. DFA sneaks up from time to time and reminds me of its rather Ninja-Tune-ish/Def-Jux-y consistency and longevity.(Other than that song with the screaming about the jealous lovers that everyone freaked out about because it was…white dudes playing diluted disco?)
This here is the Holy Ghost! mixtape, which in apt. 302 is a clear reference to that song “Holy Ghost” by the Bar-Kays that was later lovingly molded into the Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies” and Tupac’s “Trapped.” There’s some KRS in here, a lot of that bass-and-sirens combo that I thought I would’ve tired of by now, and something called “Greetings from Ghostface” that are some pretty sweet words where I come from (next to “Up next, another episode of Law & Order: SVU”).
2. After a decades-long period of admiration for the island’s health care and education policies, Black activists are being more critical of Cuba regarding racism. [LA Times]
What about Jesse here looking like life cannot possibly get any better? That pic of Malcolm and Fidel is kinda played out, and you’re a damn liar if you say you don’t want in on the scene above.
“A group of 60 African-American artists and thinkers have launched a rare (and) unprecedented attack on Cuba’s human rights record, with a particular focus on the treatment of black political dissidents.” They’ve noted increased violations of civil and human rights for those Black activists in Cuba who dare raise their voices against the island’s racial system, and signed an official statement calling for changes.
“What has changed (since the ’60s and ’70s) is a heightened understanding outside Cuba of the plight of the island’s large Black population, which remains increasingly marginalized economically and underrepresented in the highest echelons of government.” I believe that these critics are now catching up to those who have been outraged at Cuba’s treatment of my friends The Gays for years now. My boyfriend Cornel West is part of this group that created the official statement (also: Ruby Dee, of course! So dope) and probably, dare I say, the brains behind it. And I bet you he did it all while wearing a nice suit and spectacles.
’90s rap song tie-in time! Regarding the nation of Cuba: you still haven’t freed Assata, so until that happens I’ll be borrachada de Bacardi. Tony G produced this, along with DJ Pooh’s “Whoop Whoop,” an anthem which descended from heaven to emanate specifically from ’94 Nissan Maxima speakers, is about some crucial Cube vs. Kam & Pooh beef that tore this city apart in the late ’90s (it’s ok, they’re friends again now!), and has lyrics you would be legally required to know by heart if you lived within a 50-mile radius of LA County.
3. “Top 10 Science Letdowns” [Scientific American] is rather amusing because it’s basically a bunch of grown-ups whining about things we dreamed of as kids that haven’t come true yet even though it’s THE FUTURE RIGHT NOW.
Dumb science is not working fast enough, clearly.We don’t have flying cars and we can’t live forever. No hoverboards.Mental illness is still a mystery. The planet is sweltering and will probably blow up soon. What this amounts to is basically a Stack of questions with no answers/Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS. This make me wanna stay on tour for days! Heee.
4. “Men’s bodies and minds agree on what’s sexy almost always. Women’s bodies and minds? Less so.” – Science Daily, openly discussing sexual arousal under the guise of “important science nerdery.”
In studies, researchers found that “men’s subjective and physiological measures of sexual arousal showed a greater degree of agreement than women’s. For the male participants, the subjective ratings more closely matched the physiological readings indicating that men’s minds and genitals were in agreement. For the women, however, the responses of the mind and genitals were not as closely matched as men’s, suggesting asplit between women’s bodies and minds.”
So: what women want to think of as sexy is not really what our cells and hormones and bloodflow respond to*. This, of course, explains my troubling shamelust for Kim K. Because I’m gross. So gross you probably shouldn’t talk to me anymore.Gross.
Basically, even though we ladies really really want to think of smarties and nontraditional beauties as hot, our physical responses betray us. I, for example, want to think Rachel Maddow is pretty, because this would mean I’m defying that American thing of manufactured hotness. Instead, I like gorgeous dummies like Padma, that Bar Refaeli and her waist-hip situation, and various other glossy blank types on my TV screen. In the grand tradition of Things Women Have Always Done, this results in a lot of tiresome mental anguish. We try to psych ourselves out continuously and it’s dumb. Get a grip, ladies. Knock it off. (This includes myself.)
*Except for Joan from Mad Men, because at the Women Conference last year we all agreed that it’s OK to pine away for her. She’s like sexy kryptonite, that one.