Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Most of the tapes that I've been digitizing to CD (ok, Brandon in my office has been doing the dirty work for me but I've supervised it closely) are either my own old demos and beats or early works of groups or rappers that I've worked with. There is plenty of old Rhythm Cartel stuff (that is the name of the rap group I was in from '89-'93, I'll post the history here at some point) but there is also old Eminem demos, D12 stuff, Proof stuff, and various random and scattered Detroit material that never made it to the public.
What inspired this post though is the unlabeled b-side of a cassette that contained some random 1989 recordings from WJLB, FM 98. The recording from the radio includes a tragically brief portion of a mixshow segment from the best old-school DJ that Detroit has ever seen: The Wizard. The Wizard, a/k/a Jeff Mills, was a groundbreaking Detroit radio mainstay that amazed the city from the mid-eighties to the early nineties. This guy played a seamless blend of techno, house and hip-hop with amazing dexterity and ease. He would go from things like Cybertron to Kraftwerk to Afrika Bambaata to random audio snippets from children storybook records to LL Cool J within 3 minutes. Granted, The Wizard made liberal use of the turntables' pitch-control abilities but somehow his genre mashing style always seemed to work.
Detroit radio in the '80s was generally devoid of hip-hop with the exception of mixshow DJ's and a gentleman named The Electryifying Mojo (he's worthy of an entire separate entry so I'll save the details on Mojo for now). So, me being the rap-hungry youngster that I was, I would dutifully listen to The Wizard for new music as often as possible. I don't remember exactly, but I think The Wizard's show would be from 11pm-1am weekdays. That was too late for a kid in high-school, so at 11 right before I went to sleep my practice was to press record, turn the volume off, and see what I got on tape the next day on the way to school in my 1979 Chrysler Cordoba (super sweet). I wish I had all of those tapes from back then, but I don't know what happened to them. Often I would just record over them to get the latest mixes.
When doing some Google work, I stumbled across an article from Detroit's weekly rag The Metro Times from 2001 that describes The Wizard's history in more detail, which you can check out here http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=1314. There is another Metro Times article from this year that goes way more in depth at http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=10535. Also, I found a couple of downloadable mixes that give a good taste of what this man was capable of. You can check a mix from 1988 out here http://mixesdb.com/db/index.php/1988_-_Jeff_Mills_aka_The_Wizard_-_WJLB_Mixshow_Detroit. Any fan of good, old-school music will love this. Trust me its worth the time downloading (for promo-use only, of course).
I don't know what The Wizard is doing these days, although I do know that eventually he became much heavier in the house music scene than hip-hop. Anyway, if you get the chance read the articles and download the mix. Its really great stuff from a legend in my book.
P.S. If anyone has a lead on any old Wizard recordings, please leave a comment and tell us how we can get them. Thanks!
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
These two natives of New Orleans signed to HHH/Interscope late last year and have completed recording and mixing their debut LP, Remind Me In 4 Days... The album should come out early next year, with some singles (not Ringles) coming your way soon. Looks like they will be on the west coast leg of a tour by a popular rapper who just dropped a fantastic album very soon. Its difficult to categorize their music, but I find myself referring to it as retro but progressive hip-hop. Both guys rap, sing choruses, and play some instruments. Its really great stuff.
The performance last night was very entertaining, and its tough to rock that crowd of skeptics with songs they have never heard before. But they did. Knux, stand up and salute yourselves!
Monday, August 20, 2007
I firmly believe that once that same digital technology progresses even further and the G4 or maybe even G5 networks are up and blazing that our industry problems will be solved. No more owning music. Forget a CD, forget a hard drive, forget an Ipod (in its current storage form). Music will be streamed to us- whatever we wanna hear, whenever we wanna hear it. Beautiful, clean, convenient, and worth PAYING for. Without a need to own anything but the device that plays it.
BUT, until then, there is some desperate stuff going on out there. My esteemed colleagues have informed me of a new initiative to make people PAY for music- The Ringle. A Ringle consists of a little fun-pack that includes a single, a remix of that single, an album cut or catalog selection, a ringtone, and a wallpaper. For like $5.99.
I hate that shit. What? You wanna charge half the price of an album for a single in multiple forms and a picture of the artists face on your phone that plays the ringtone of the moment through a flat speaker the size of a dime? And you wanna know what's killing the music industry?
Bullshit temporary solutions like this don't help. They hurt the art of the album, and make the consumer want to stay away even more. Let's spend our time and money trying to make a long-term solution. Not on marketing songs for more money a piece than people are already NOT paying.
Where are people supposed to buy Ringles anyway? The record store? Good luck finding one. And what a name- Ringle. Come on...
Sunday, August 19, 2007
This weekend, Friday and Saturday, some good friends set us up with some great tickets for the Tigers/Yankees games at Yankee Stadium. Let me start off by saying that although I enjoy baseball, I'm not the hugest fan of the sport. Yeah, I played little league back in the day (shout out to the '79 N.F.W.B. Twins), and collected cards like a madman (before you ask, I sold them all in '90 to my freshman roommate for $600 or so and bought a drum machine). But as an adult, I really spend most of my dedication in pro-sports to football and basketball.
That being said, I don't pass up on a great opportunity to see a great game if I can make it- especially when its an important series like this in the Bronx and we have front row seats next to the third base line near the dugout. Also, I'm a 300 pound man and I like beer, hot dogs and peanuts. The extra special part of these 2 games that we got to see was the pro-debut of the Tigers' Cameron Maybin, as well as his first major league homer. Although Cam didn't fair that well against Andy Pettitte, in his second pro game he smacked one out of the park against 45 year old Roger Clemens (20 years his senior, Maybin is only 20 years old). That's quite a way to be induced into the pros- Yankee Stadium against two seasoned veteran pitchers.
Keep an eye out for this guy, an insider told me that the Tigers consider him a big part of their future. Cam can hit, home run, and steal bases. Now, as for the Tigers going 1 for 4 against the Yanks when they needed the wins, that's another story...
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
John can kiss my ass.
I wasted 8 or 9 hours watching that show trying to figure out exactly what the hell was going on. Floating surfers? Gay hotel owners? Christ like alien super healing mimic men? WTF?
We were all sure in the season finale that they were going to explain it all. Sure they were, right? Wrong. Nothin'. Nada. Left us hanging again. Then HBO cancels the whole damned thing.
John can kiss my ass.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I was watching Hangin' With the Homeboys (1991) last night on some Showtime mutation and it made me realize that this guy kind of disappeared.
I think that this Brooklyn-based actor first appeared on The Cosby Show in the late '80s and seemed like a promising new hip-hop generation actor. I seem to also remember that he did some stuff with MTV and maybe Yo! MTV Raps back in the day too. Hangin' with the Homeboyz was a good, low budget indie flick especially considering the fact that the genre of hip-hop influenced films not actually about rap music or breakdancing were very few and far between.
He had a lot of promise, but the downfall seemed to be his role in Cool Runnings (1993) as Sanka Coffee. Yep...