Author Archive

Amazed at how he still get paid but dumb lazy

January 5, 2008

So yes, we still exist and somehow to my amazement our traffic somehow seems to still be growing.  Anyway, some of you have said told me personally that you were looking forward to seeing our picks for the “best of 2007” and that post is definitely on it’s way.  The list has already been compiled and it should be going up in the very near future.

Now I’m not really one who makes New Years Resolutions.  I figure what is it about early January that makes me anymore likely to start doing something than any other time of year, but if I were to make some this year I suppose doing a better job of keeping up this blog would be towards the top of the list.  Every now and then I get reminded that people actually do check in on this page and sometimes I even find out that people have heard of us in places I never would have imagined a year and a half ago when I started this thing.

Today though I want to talk about my New Years Eve experience and give my two cents about a certain performer whose recent antics have been the cause of much controversy and speculation.  You see contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend all of my time on the internet finding out the latest and most up to date rumors on the street about everything (at least not anymore).  So when I went to the Los Angeles stop on the Rock the Bells tour I didn’t think too much about the fact that after waiting longer than I felt was necessary I went to the other stage and missed MF Doom’s performance all together.  I mean after all Nas barely showed up in time to do two songs at the end of The Roots set during the very same show.

You see at that time I was unaware of the “lip-synching fake Doom” accusations that have been flying around recently.  Well on New Years Eve I finally got to see what all the furor is about.  See I hadn’t seen the masked villain live before, so I went to this show specifically to catch him doing his thing.  By this point I had of course heard the rumors about the fake man behind the mask and I was honestly just as interested to see what would happen as I was to see the show.

MF Doom – Monkey Suite

Well long story short… we ended up waiting longer for this guy to actually take the stage than the amount of time he spent on stage.  There was some prima donna shit going on where they needed to clear out the whole backstage and VIP area just so he could come through (I somehow ended up standing next to Fatlip from “The Pharcyde” who seemed to be more frustrated about the fiasco than I was).  The 4 masked “hype men” on stage made more noise than the supposed MC, and maybe twenty minutes passed before they were all trying to leave the stage. 

Fake Doom?

Like I said, this was supposed to be my first time seeing Doom live, so I can’t comment on how “authentic” the guy on stage was, but regardless of whether it was an imposter or not, the performance was bunk.  After the whole debacle there was no shortage of criticism from the other acts that night as to what had just transpired.  In fact now that I think about it this is the second time personally where I’ve seen the Living Legends crew have to cover for Doom being as how they extended their set at Rock the Bells while he wasn’t there  (I still don’t know whether or not he eventually showed up after I left).

Scarub and Eligh brought a vengefully fierce energy to the stage and even though I’m not very well versed in their catalog they did everything in their power to make up for the disappointment of the crowd.  I mean this is LA, mofos will riot (especially when you consider those who waited to buy their tickets at the door paid $50).  And seriously, who can complain about a surprise KRS-One appearance. 

KRS-One – MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know

I missed a lot of the other people who performed earlier that night, but I do want to take a minute to shout out my homie The Gaslamp Killah.  I was standing outside in the sadly unorganized entrance line while he was performing but in my experience he’s always guaranteed to rock the house.  Maybe I can convince him to put together an exclusive Alternakid mix sometime… hmmm.

Gaslamp Killah – Wednesday Night Live Megamix

Anyway, here’s to me regaining my ambition this year and to our readers hearing a lot more from us this year.  Happy 2008 ya’ll.

How I Spent My Vacation

November 10, 2007

So some of you readers may or may not have known that I was out of town on a “world tour” of sorts (If 10 days and three states constitutes a world tour that is). I had a great time and since (as most of my adventures do) this particular jaunt included several musically relevant tales to tell I figured I’d give a nice little recount as to some of the more significant details of my trip.

I’m sure I’ll write more about the new album later on, but I have to mention here that Radiohead is still great airplane and airport music. I remember on last years annual trip back east listening to live bootlegs of what would become most of the tracks from In Rainbows. Also being as how I was going to a wedding and was constantly reminded of the ex who was supposed to be accompanying me on the trip… this track in particular struck quite the chord with me. (Or maybe I just read into lyrics a little too much).

Radiohead – Nude

The first stop and the catalyst for the whole idea of this trip was the wedding of my good friends “Evan X” and “Mistress Missy” in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I actually knew the happy couple separately several years ago before they had even met, yet alone before they began dating. However, I can’t take the credit for introducing them, we all had a circle of mutual friends from various points in the midwest and we all used to meet up in various cities to party and get into trouble. They are easily some of my favorite people and I wish them the best of luck.

Evan, Missy and Me

I got to see a lot of old friends that I haven’t had the chance to hang with in several years, meet some new cool individuals, let loose on the dance floor and grab some ideas for the type of ceremony I’d like to have when it comes time for me to take the walk down the aisle sometime in the distant future. The wedding was nice and very fitting for our group of friends if anything other than traditional. As would be no surprise from the type of friends I attract, at the reception they had mix CD’s laid out on the tables of several songs from the ceremony and the receptions play list.

Wedding Playlist

 

One selection that I found to be an interesting choice for a wedding reception was “Sittin’ Pretty” by Brendan Benson.

Brendan Benson – Sittin’ Pretty

Of course I’m one to talk being as how Consuelo and I both chose a bridal waltz that included the lyrics “you’ll always be my whore”. (So much for that whole idea of never being apart though). Still the video for “Ava Adore” remains quite possibly the most ingenious continuous four minutes of cinema ever committed to celluloid.

Anyway, I won’t lie, the event brought up some old bitter sentiment in those regards, but I digress. From there I hitched a ride back to my hometown of Toledo, Ohio for a few days with my friend Vectrexx and his girl Meow Suicide since it was on their way back to Columbus.

Road Trippin’

While in Toledo I caught up with several family members who I hadn’t seen in awhile and swung by my old job at Prodigy Music. I took a little time to catch up with Bob Caunter and shoot the shit about my life in LA and his new band “All But One“. In the process he gave me a link to a website about Detroit area musicians from 1966 – 1972 which features his old band “Salem Witchcraft” right up there alongside other area heavyweights like “The Stooges”, “MC5”, “Alice Cooper” and many more that you may or may not have known originally hailed from the Motor City.

My friend Dee let me crash on her couch a couple nights and she finally returned my copies of both (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and Stankonia which she’s been holding onto for about 4 years at this point. I’d almost forgotten how damn good both of those albums were. (Note to Outkast: please resuming making albums with nonsensical compound words as titles and naked women on the disc artwork… Note to Oasis: consult Damon Albarn for notes on remaining relevant).

Outkast – B.O.B.

Oasis – Morning Glory

The next day I eventually made my way over to Allied Record Exchange where my cousin Damon has been working for years now to do some light digging. I picked up a Dirtbombs split 7″ and a copy of their first album Horndog Fest which is a must grab while you’re in the Detroit area. I’d been planning to do a post on the Dirtbombs for a while now so hopefully I’ll get around to doing that sometime soon.

The Dirtbombs – Pheremone Smile

I also scooped up the new solo record from my old friend Jeff Loose of Stylex, another local favorite. I’ll probably be doing a post on them sometime in the future as well.

Jeff Loose – Dreams Come True

believe it or not, I actually used to hang out with this dude… that was before he started looking like Jesus hanging out on Sesamee Street though 😉

My cousin dug up a few things especially for me as well including a copy of RJD2’s debut mix Your Face Or Your Kneecaps (sheer dopeness). Then when we got back to his place since he’s always looking out for the fam (mmmhmm…) and I knew he had two copies already, he sold me one of his Operation:Doomsday CD’s along with a Sony Digital Voice Recorder for a total of $80 (of course he already knew how hard it is to come by an original copy).

MF Doom – Who You Think I Am?

Family Business

From there it was on to DTW for a flight down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Armed with a navigation equipped rental car I had several hours to kill so I typed “records” into the unit to see what I came up with but unfortunately that first day my exploits turned out to be rather fruitless. My friend Jason was generous enough to let me crash on his couch for this portion of the trip, but he had to work the next day so once again I was left to my own devices. Not a problem that couldn’t be fixed with a quick look in the yellow pages.

I don’t consider myself to be a genuine “collector”, but I’ve naturally accumulated a decent library over my years of music obsession. I figure if I’m out of town I might want to try to find some things that I don’t necessarily come across everyday in Los Angeles. I found a listing for a place called “The CD Collector” and decided that based on name alone it would probably be my best bet for a digging foray. Upon arriving at my destination however I learned that the place is now called Radioactive Records (not to be confused with the controversial pirate reissue label or the more legitimate label home of “Live” and that band Shirley Manson was in before “Garbage”). I tried to stick to just picking up a few CD’s for the drive and I did pretty good keeping it to about $50 worth of stuff. I found a promo EP from Test Icicles that includes a couple of rare exclusives, but quite honestly none of those match the raw intensity (imagine Bloc Party overdosing on a testosterone injection) of the EP’s title track which also appears on their full length:

Test Icicles – Boa vs. Python

I also snatched up a couple 45’s and then I made the mistake of asking if there were any other places in town where I might be able to do some digging. So off I was sent to Delray Beach and Backbone Music. I had to be back in Ft. Lauderdale to meet my aunt for dinner that evening, so I was only able to spend about 10 minutes actually looking through the stacks. Maybe it was because the place was a little smaller and I wasn’t so overwhelmed, but that was all I needed to blow my first $40 on 7″ fodder. The Turtles, Elvis Presley, and Peter, Paul, and Mary were just some of the more notable specimens I picked up within that first 5 minute glance. Now I had the itch, and sensing my urges, the guy at the counter knew what he was dealing with when he was ringing me up. I told him I’d been sent by the guys over at Radioactive and he told me to check out “the good stuff” in the other bin. 3 minutes later I’d blown another $60 still strictly working with 7″. James Brown, Johnny Cash, a G.G. Allin EP, and what some consider to be the Holy Grail of Hardcore Punk (of course mine was a reissue considering it’s white label and in mint condition, but for the price I’m game). At that point I decided to give in and admit that this trip was going to be a record buying excursion and I set aside another $100 for a stop at Vinyl Fever once I got to Tallahassee.

Before I left Backbone I spent a few more minutes just shooting the shit with the guy at the counter and he informed me that Medeski, Martin and Wood were playing a few nights at a local club called the Culture Room. Since I didn’t really have any plans for after dinner I figured that’d be a good way to spend the rest of the evening. It was well worth the price of admission just to see John Medeski’s keyboard setup alone. A baby grand piano, vintage Moog, clavinet, Hammond B3, Melodica and a couple other keyboards that I couldn’t make out from where I stood, each with separate amps.. They played two sets of improvised tunes and standards then came back for an encore of “Hey Joe” which ended the night on a nice mellow note.

Now I’m definitely familiar enough with the legendary jazz trio in question, but I’m not well versed enough in their background information or catalog to think that I’ll be dedicating an entire post to them anytime soon, so I’ll just go crazy here with a sampling of related tracks I have in my inventory.

Medeski, Martin & Wood – Where’s the Music

Billy Martin and John Medeski – Bamboo Pants

Medeski, Martin & Wood – Hypnotized

Medeski, Martin, Scofield & Wood – Cachaça

Medeski, Martin & Wood – End of The World Party

The next morning I woke up early and headed to Orlando to have lunch with one of my old college buddies who I haven’t seen in about 5 years and from there I continued up to Tallahassee to hang out for “guys weekend” with some of my other college friends who I haven’t seen in a while either. We hit the club on Friday night where they were having “old school” night… however it’s kind of depressing to realize what music is considered “old school” by the college kids these days. We spent Saturday tailgating and then went to the Florida State v. Miami game (f**k Miami).

Me and Erick

 

Sunday I hit the record store where I grabbed a gang of records including choice 7″ selections from both John Lennon and George Harrison. I also found a Dirtbombs release that I couldn’t even find in Detroit. Also of note were 7″ platters from “Helmet” and a smattering of punk and 80’s New Wave singles that I grabbed just for kicks.

Then it was back on the plane to come home again, home again, jiggedy-jig-jig. Overall it was a great excursion and a much needed departure from the daily grind here at home. It was good to see everybody I got to squeeze in, and definitely good to meet some really cool new friends as well. Now it just sucks knowing I won’t have any more vacation days to use for quite a while. I did however get to catch one of my favorite indie acts ever, Enon, last weekend with Love of Diagrams so expect to see a review of that show coming up soon.

 

In RainbowsOne MississippiStankonia Limited Edition(What’s the Story?) Morning GloryHorndog FestRubberbandFor Screening Purposes OnlyMagoNote BleuOut LouderEnd of the World Party (Just in Case)

The Rhyme Inspector Checks In

October 12, 2007

When you talk about “The Beginning”, there are a few names that always pop up in the discussion. Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Fab 5 Freddy… KRS is always reminding us that he was there, but so was Percee P. After years of bubbling around on the scene, the “Lethal Lyricist” has finally released his debut album on Stones Throw records, and with one listen you’ll start to see exactly how he’s earned his legendary status over the years. I got a call from the man himself while he was out on the tour with Common and Q-Tip earlier this month and I had the chance to ask him a few questions about his vested career so far and how he’s continuing to do his thing currently.

Percee P

You talk about it a little bit on the album in the track “The Man To Praise” but tell us about how you got started back in the day, especially linking up with D.I.T.C. and those guys.

Well I’ve been rapping since 1979. I’m from up in the South Bronx, Patterson Projects, so basically I was there since my moms had moved there when I was 3 years old. That was the beginning stages of hip-hop. You know I grew up there, so as I got older as a teenager we would do our thing. Around 1989 I used to battle with Lord Finesse before his first record came out, so that’s how I met him. Then he hooked up with A.G. and dropped Funky Technician. So that’s who was featured on the first album, but he told A.G. that he wanted to get me on the second joint, so we hooked up and did the track “Yes You May” with the three of us. It turned out that The Source quoted my verse as a “Hip-Hop Quotable”.  What some people don’t know is the remix to that track, was the first song Big L was on too.  So that’s how I first hooked up with the D.I.T.C. crew, and as they got bigger, more cats came on like Diamond D. I also knew OC and the guys from Organized Konfusion while we were in high school and a couple other cats from around the way.

So after all these years of being in the game what made you decide to go with Stones Throw as a label?

Well basically I’ve been just grinding out it in the street because I didn’t have a deal, trying to keep my name up and keep it alive by whatever means I had to do. You know whether it be rip it on the open mic circuit or try to get some shine at other people’s shows, or dropping promos for 88hiphop.com or mixtapes, showing up to make an appearance in videos, you know. So I started taking it to the streets to sell my own tapes myself. I started hanging out in front of Fatbeats as a regular spot because they would always carry my records, so I figured that anybody coming through Fatbeats might have an idea of who I am. You know I try to make it easier on myself, because it’s still not like guaranteed sales, but the crowd that kicks it at Fatbeats goes out on the scene and knows the kind of spots I want to hit up or open mics I can be at and stuff like that. So after a while people just started knowing I was out there, so basically even though I wanted to bounce around I wanted to be where these people know they can find me. That’s when I realized I had started something that I couldn’t stop and that was my plan just to keep going with that.

So I met Stones Throw basically the same way I met J5 up in Canada doing some shows and hanging out at the different spots grindin’. I didn’t know they knew who I was, so I just closed in and tried to sell ’em something. I approached them like “Yo I’m an artist too, my name is Percee P”… and they were like “Oh word… Percee P?” At the time it was Peanut Butter Wolf and Wildchild, so they wanted to get some footage of me while they were doing this documentary. So I spit a verse for ’em and did a little intro and whatnot, so that’s how I met them and they stayed in contact with me. So I went back to doing my thing and grinding and I ended up being on the Jurassic 5 album, so that was a plus. Then I did a few other things, I had some joints with Planet Asia and Jedi Mind Tricks, so I had some things developing and they called me up and wanted to fly me out to Cali and get a chance to know me better and work with me a little bit, build up the relationship and it just kinda happened from there.

Wildchild, MED, and Percee P – Knick Knack

So what was it like working with Madlib?

It’s dope. I mean, I never really go in the studio with him, I just get the beats. You know we’re all professional recording artist so we know what to do. I just go in, and without him being there they play the beats, I track it and lay it down with the vocals. Then they take it back and add the scratches or put down the hook. But it was a good combination, I was satisfied with the tracks I was using and I think they even started remixing every song so those might be coming out.

Percee P – Reverse (pt. 2)

Alright, well I know I met you and ran into you a few times just like you were talking about, out on the scene doing your thing still hustling and keeping it going. I picked up a couple of mixtapes from you directly and whatnot, so tell me how does that work… Like what’s the average day in the life of Percee P?

Well on the average day I probably get up around 11:00am or so cause I’m out late. You know in LA at least the clubs are going until 2, so by the time I get home it’s usually around 4 o’ clock in the morning. I don’t really have that full eight hours of sleep sometimes because you know it’ll be almost 5 o’ clock before I really fall asleep. Sometimes you know I have to check emails or hit up the MySpace or whatever. So I get up and then head into LA, on the bus, train whatever New York styling it so I can hang out. That’s my way of trying to stay grounded and have a little time to focus, you know that’s my peaceful time to myself so I can write or think you know. I’ll have the CD player on and I’m thinking in my head of where I’m gonna go, you know what shows . I usually hit up Fat Beats about 1 o’ clock and stay out there around til they close. Then depending on what’s going on that night I try to hit up whatever spot is going down for the night. So it’s an all day thing from the time I wake up until I go home at night it don’t stop. I mean if I don’t have nothin’ to sell then I don’t have a choice but to settle down, but as long as I got some CD’s on me then I’m trying to be out finding somebody, even on my way home.

Koushik feat. Percee P – Cold Beats

Percee circa 1992

It’s kinda hard for me to be around people without something to push. I look at it as promotion and I think that’s something every artist should do. Even if you got people who do that for you or whatever status you are, you should do some self promoting too. You know you have some guys who let other people run a fan club or you go to the shows and other people sell the merch. I try to make myself available for my fans so they can say that they actually met me. So if I ever come to your town or I do a show you’ll be able to walk up. I never stay backstage or hang out in the van, because I think a real fan would appreciate that. I just try to give people the opportunity to meet me and that way they can say they saw what kinda person I really was. I mean this is my job and I’m out here to make money, but I’m still the guy who came from the street, and people have to see the guy from off the street.

Jedi Mind Tricks and Percee P – Walk With Me

That kind of leads into my next question. You say you’ve been doing this since 1979 so for all these years it’s pretty much all you’ve known. If you weren’t an MC, then what do you think you’d be doing?

I don’t even know man, I mean I’ve thought about that. I can draw good. I’m not a basketball player. So really I might just have a regular job. That’s why I’m glad and I have to give props to Kool Herc because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve been to different places or around the country and overseas. It’s really all because of him, and all these artist no matter what their status should pay homage. All the pioneers who helped paved the way you should give thanks and help spread the knowledge. You have to give thanks to God and all those brothers because right now if you’re living a different lifestyle, you rolling around in a Bentley, you got thousands in the bank because of hip-hop, if it wasn’t for them you might not have all that.

The Molemen (Percee P, Vakill & Rhyme Fest) – Keep The Fame

So that’s what I’m thankful for because it gave me something to do and it saved my life. I mean I already told you I was from the South Bronx. So back when it started, I mean I was born in 1969. So by 1973 the place was just run down, the place was dead and people felt like “well what’s out there?” Everybody was looking for a way to escape whether it was basketball or heroin and all that kind of stuff. This was before crack though, most people think the neighborhoods got messed up in the crack era, but the Bronx had problems before that. Way before the crack came in you still had people burned out and violence and stuff going on. It was just like that, but it’s kinda better now you know what I’m sayin’ they’re fixin it up slowly and stuff. But I mean the mentality is still there. Hip-hop was the alternative, that was the whole purpose as an outlet  to be a b-boy or to be a MC or DJ or graf artist, to be that one kid on the block that got his props from a gang member. To be known on your block and be somebody known for something more positive, that was the thing with hip-hop.

**quotes edited for space and clarity**

Those sound like the words of a true veteran if you ask me. I’m glad I got the chance to speak with Percee myself and I highly recommend that you not only check out the new album, but go see him yourself on the street and cop a mixtape or two. You’ll be able to catch him coming to a city near you soon with the “Stones Throw B-Ball Zombie Tour” as follows:

11/08 – Los Angeles @ El Rey Theater
11/16 – San Francisco @ Independent
11/17 – Portland @ Berbatis Pan

11/18 – Seattle @ Nuemos
11/19 – Vancouver @ Richards on Richards
11/29 – Minneapolis @ Foundation Nightclub
11/30 – Chicago @ Abbey Pub
12/01 – Toronto @ Opera House
12/02 – NYC @ Highline Ballroom

12/03 – Philadelphia @ Starlight Ballroom
12/04 – Boston @ Paradise

12/06 – Washington DC @ Black Cat
12/07 – Baltimore @ Sonar
12/08 – Atlanta @ The Loft

For now here’s some heat off of the new album for you to chew on.

Percee P (feat. Aesop Rock) – The Dirt and Filth

Legendary StatusChrome Children 2Now-Again Re:SoundsVisions of GandhiThe Rhyme InspectorPerseverance

Stevie Plays the Tracks, doctashock States the Facts

September 13, 2007

Wonder-full 2

So for the past few years now my friend Swayze (long story behind that name) has been helping put together this annual Stevie Wonder tribute in New York. This year they’ll be bringing the night to Los Angeles with DJ Spinna and Bobbito Garcia (of Stretch and Bobbito fame for my old school heads). When he told me about the event I wanted to do a post to help promote, but as I was trying to decide what to tracks to post I suddenly realized how much of an integral part Stevie’s music played in my upbringing.

You see the thing is Stevie Wonder’s music was so prevalent in the places I grew up in that I never was able to distinguish between what were his “hits” and his album oriented tracks. It was all just Stevie Wonder… you’re supposed to get excited when it comes on. Considering how much I was bounced around in my youth it’s quite remarkable that this fact remained true with all of the different family I lived with over the years.

Easily one of my earliest memories is watching Big Bird on Sesame Street sing some educational rendition of “My Cherie Amour”. I can’t recall the details, but I distinctly remember associating “the yellow one” with “La-lala-La-lala” I also remember getting a kick out of the California Raisins videos for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”. In school while learning the seasons I could always reference July as the “hottest month of the year” to remember that was the middle of summer. When I lived with my mom and she’d hit a spring cleaning kick she’d play records all day and I remember the soundtrack for “The Woman in Red” getting heavy rotation when it came out… or maybe that’s just the album cover that I remember the most.

The Woman in Red

 

If I were to try and run down a complete retrospective on Stevie’s work in this space here, I most definitely would come up lacking in some shape form or fashion… so instead I’m gonna take it back like Bobbito would for Vibe magazine and just gab on about some associated tunes.

Stevie Wonder – Overjoyed

This is just beautiful songwriting here. For me this track negates any questions of whether Stevie still had it after his “classic period”. Of course tracks like “I Just Called to Say I Love You” and “That’s What Friends Are For” would be more popular and win Grammies and all that, but to me, this is what it was all about. It’s also one of the tracks that more prominently displays his vocal prowess which is staggering.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – The Tears of a Clown

This was one of the tracks Stevie helped write for his fellow Motown artists back in the day. One of the mental images I associate most with this song is a strip from the Sunday comic “Curtis” where he’s scratching the chorus on his dad’s turntable. This was back before hip-hop could really be considered “mainstream” and it played not only off of the notion of physically damaging the vinyl but also “ruining one of the classics”. I remember finding it pretty funny at the time, I wish I could find the image to post.

Jamal – Keep It Real

I think Erick Sermon is one of the most underrated producers out there. Well… maybe not so much underrated, but taken for granted I should say. I remember the first time I heard this and quickly recognizing “Ribbon in the Sky” crossed with “Summer Madness” by Kool and the Gang. Thinking back Sermon really pioneered a lot of what would become the mash-up movement. I wonder how much Z-trip credits him as an influence. Listen to some of those old EPMD tracks like “You Gots to Chill” where he mixed “Jungle Boogie” with Roger and Zapp, or how he threw together Steve Miller Band and ZZ Top for “Only a Customer”.

Ginuwine – I’ll Do Anything/I’m Sorry

This is the album that introduced Timbaland to the masses, although he had been ghost producing Devante Swing tracks for some time at that point. I actually wasn’t that big a fan of “Pony” to tell the truth, but it was this song that made me take notice. That guitar lick from “Visions” always got to me and he flipped it nice for this track. Timbo was definitely doing things that nobody else was considering back at that point in time. On a side note, in the lyrics to the original track Stevie states that he knows the leaves are green and I always wondered just exactly how he would know that. (and that’s as close as you’ll get to a blind joke out of me as far as Stevie is concerned).

Stevie Wonder – Pastime Paradise

Thanks to Coolio this is probably one of the most easily recalled uses of a Stevie sample even though I don’t think this track was ever released as a single. I remember playing John Madden football with Ricks while listening to “The Bushman” on WJLB out of Detroit when we first heard “Gangsta’s Paradise”. It had to be the first time anyone had played it on the air, but since it was in the middle of a weekend mixshow there was no announcement as to who it was. We couldn’t figure it out and even though the voice was off, we assumed it must’ve been something from the upcoming Tupac album since lyrically it was so reminiscent of some of the tracks off of Me Against the World and the Thug Life project.

We went to the mall the next morning and asked around about whether anyone could tell us the name of the track. It was funny because we’d walk up to the counter at the record stores and before we could get a word out the clerk would look at us and be like “The new B.O.N.E. album comes out in two weeks guys”. We’d look at each other and laugh, but it would be at least another three weeks before anybody else we knew was up on “Gangsta’s Paradise” Of course by the time it was all said and done with, if we heard it one more time it would have been that many times too many… but I still want to know why the hell LV was sitting in a sauna for the video.

Speaking of Me Against the World…

2pac – So Many Tears

There’s a bit of keyboard in there, but it’s just those three quick notes on the harmonica that make this sample indistinguishably Stevie. I love this track, it’s ‘Pac at his most introspective. Probably my favorite Tupac song of all time. People constantly talk about him as the greatest MC and all that… I’m not gonna get into that debate here, but what I will say is the people who argue that point always want to grab All Eyes On Me to support their case. If you ask me their argument would be much better served if they pointed to Me Against the World. I think it was a much more deep and personal album lyrically and having my own demons as well I related to it much more than I probably should have at that age.

At any rate, the same song was sampled much more blatantly by MJG for “That Girl” a few years later and believe it or not I had actually forgotten Stacy Dash was in the video (how the hell did I do that?). What I did remember though was MJG dancing towards the end. Eightball had the much better solo single if you ask me.

Let’s recenter this journey just a little bit though.

Stevie Wonder – I Was Made To Love Her

I guess this is considered to be “early” Stevie at this point. Again this is one of those songs that was just always there while I was growing up. Guaranteed to get the party started at family functions and whatnot. I didn’t realize that the song was almost 20 years old even back then.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground

I guess this was called one of the greatest cover songs ever by some British rag a few years ago. I guess it does rank up there for me as well, but the original is groundbreaking itself. That song is pretty much the sole reason the term “funky clavi” exists. Where the cover excels is the translation of that driving clavinet into such a powerful bass line.

Yesterday’s New Quintet – Send One Your Love

As if this album didn’t make it obvious, Madlib thinks of Stevie as a major influence. There was what could be considered another slightly more subtle shout-out on the cover of the Madvillain album where he’s shown with the E-mu SP1200. Stevie was the first person to own an E-mu Emulator when they first came out. Of course at one point in time all the major hip-hop producers were using the SP, but this day in age I have to think there’s a reason Madlib chooses the vintage E-mu over Akai’s MPC products.

Madlib with SP1200

It’s worth noting how pioneering Stevie was with a lot of different synthesizers over the years. One of the stalwarts of Stevie Wonder impressions nowadays is to mimic playing two different keyboards at the same time.

Stevie Wonder – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing

I had to end this with one of the classics. My dad was a huge fan of Songs in the Key of Life, but personally I was a little more partial to Innervisions. The intro of this track is hilarious to me… especially when you consider for some time I used to think he was actually saying “Como tambien Chevrolet?”…which makes absolutely no sense, but works in the skit. The actual phrase ‘Todo ‘sta bien, chévere’ makes a lot more sense in the context of the song, but I still like to think of it as a guy posturing to some girl about how cultured he is and she totally can see though his bullshit, but doesn’t call him on it. Maybe because that’s the same shit I try to pull on a regular basis.

Wonder-full

 

Anyway, for more Stevie goodness, head on over to Get Downnn where Hippo recently posted his thoughts on seeing the man himself in concert not too long ago. And if you’re in the LA area then come on by on September 29th at the Crash Mansion downtown and celebrate the multi-talented wonder that is Stevland Morris. Ladies save a dance for me.

The Definitive CollectionThe Best Of Smokey Robinson and the MiraclesKeep It RealThe BachelorSongs in the Key of LifeMe Against the WorldVolume IIWhat Hits!?StevieInnervisions

Wait’ll I Get My Money Right…

August 15, 2007

SORRY

No, we’re not dead… just busy.  The people who pay me for my time have given me some new responsibilities at the day job and there have been several other distractions as of late as well.  So I apologize for bailing out on my reviews of Sonic Youth, Daft Punk and Rock the Bells, but we should return shortly with regular updates.

Other things of note to report since I’ve been gone I met Karen O. of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs out shopping for clothes interestingly enough.  Went to the Do-Over a couple of Sundays at Cranes and hung out with Rhettmatic of the Beat Junkies, Aloe Blacc from Stones Thorow and several other of my local DJ heroes.  And generally I’ve just been adjusting to the weird senation of actually becoming a presence in the “local scene”.  Not to sure yet how I feel about being psuedo-recognizable at certain places… sometimes I like to just lay low when I go out.  On the other hand I can’t complain about the female attention.

Sunset Junction is this weekend featuring the likes of Blonde Redhead, Morris Day and the Time, The Buzzcocks, Deniese Williams, and several other great acts throughout Saturday and Sunday.  Chances are I’ll be hanging out for at least a little bit at some point during the festivities.

Even with the lack of updates, The Alternakids have managed to steadily gain notoriety here on the internets.  Thank you for all of the comments, links, and steady site traffic.  I hope to bring you more quality content in the near future.  Speaking of which… I finally got around to asking Percee P about doing an interview, so hopefully that will come soon.  Also I’ve been getting quite a bit of music in my mailbox for review, so I’m thinking about doing a series dedicated to profiling and review the music of people who think enough of our little blog here to ask us for our opinion and publicity. 

At any rate… keep the feedback coming, I’m definitely listening, and it is appreciated.  We’ll see you all soon.