Posts Tagged ‘Hip Hop


mixes everyone should hear: colm k – beats, rhymes and features

If you’re like me, you really miss the old Tribe Called Quest…but a reunion is probably out of the question.

This is almost as good as a reunion, DJ Colm K drops a serious mix of Q Tip productions, rarities and guest spots into this nice little treat.

Grab it now for your summer time party tune collection!


Ozomatli – ST


I don’t go out to see bands that often…at least not as often as I should.  So when I got invited to check out the house band:  Ozomatli at Club Dragonfly back in the late 90’s, I almost didn’t go.

Luckily it was a couple of hot girls who invited me, so I ended up going anyways.  I had no idea who Ozomatli was and, if nothing else, I figured if I’d just sat through the band I might get some action.

Well, I never got any action since the girl I was hitting on wouldn’t stop bringing up her ex-boyfriend.  But what I witnessed on stage that night was nothing short of magic.  It’s only happened a few times in my life, where you see a group perform and say to yourself “Holy Shit!  These guys are going to be big!”  I think the only other occasion was seeing the early incarnation of the Black Eyed Peas…pre-Fergie.

I even bought a CD right then and there.

Let me break Ozo’s set down for you. The house lights go down, the house DJ shuts off the music and the band begins to play.  But not on stage.  No, the band starts off on the back patio.  Every member is playing a horn, banging a drum or shaking a shaker.  The whole group winds it’s way though the club, through the crowd to the stage as they play before they all take their places and explode into their first song.  They play an amazing set of pure Los Angeles Latin sounds, then make their way back out into the crowd where they form a drum circle of sorts and keep playing for another song or two with the whole crowd going nuts around them.  What’s even better is that I’ve seen them numerous times over the past ten years and they still do the crowd thing.

That only makes me love them more.

The band takes their name from the Aztec god of dance, fire, the new harvest and music…which is fitting considering their multi racial line up and sound. Originally formed to play at a labor protest, the band took in all the sounds of Los Angeles: Hip hop, Latin, rock, reggae, funk, salsa and cumbia to name a few.

If LA needed a band as diverse as it was, Ozomatli was it.

The six core members of the band are Asdru Sierra (lead vocals, trumpet), Raul Pacheco (lead vocals, guitar, tres, jarana), Justin Poree (rap vocals,percussion), Wil-dog Abers (bass, backing vocals), Jiro Yamaguchi (tabla, percussion, backing vocals) and Ulises Bella (sax, clarinet, requinto jaracho, keyboards, backing vocals). (Thanks WIKI!) From album to album though, the lineup fluxuates from anywhere from seven to ten members, with members and elements added and subtracted like a tide.

The line up I got to see in the beginning included Jurassic 5 members Chali 2-Na and Cut Chemist…both of whom left after the first album to pursue J5 related requirements. But even with the loss or gain of musicians, the band’s tone remained the same. They still rock the house, they’re still keeping up the social commentary and they’re still working hard to bring you the funk.  And the members who leave all seem to make a return sooner or later. The band’s website says they’re touring with Chali 2-Na again this spring.

That’s saying a lot considering how many acts simply fall apart after the loss of a few members, or how often the members leaving do so under negative terms.  But once you experience the energy that Ozomatli brings to the table, it’s kind of hard to imagine it being otherwise.

The CD I bought of the drummer on stage that night was simply a taste of the full length CD to come…simply titled Ozomatli. Filled with everything I mentioned above, it’s a party soundtrack for the kind of party where everyone wants to talk politics as much as they want to dance…and find a way to do both.

Even if you don’t like latin music, or listening to lyrics in spanish, this is the kind of album that might just convert you over.


Jurassic 5 – EP


Los Angeles in the early to mid-nineties was a hotbed of musical activity …especially in the west coast hip hop scene. 

On any given week you could catch some of the biggest names in the game playing at small clubs and bars throughout the city. One of the biggest spots in town for the music was a little club called The Root Down.  I saved some of their flyers from that era and I look back at them now and wonder when we’ll ever see shit going down like that again. 

In one month you could see DJ Z Trip, Blackalicious, Madlib and Ozomatli for like…ten bucks.  Better yet, all your hip hop heros were there, just wandering around the place.  (I remeber one show where I stopped and chatted with Peanutbutter Wolf for a bit while commenting that the guy next to us looked like Mos Def.  Turns out it was Mos Def.)

But the group that became the cornerstone of the LA scene was Jurassic 5 and when their now legendary “Jurassic 5 EP”dropped in 1993, they pretty much had shit on lockdown.

They got their start at a South Central open-mic hot spot called the Good Life Cafe, the place that helped spawn the careers of The Freestyle Fellowship and The Pharcyde to name a few.  Back then, they were two groups…The Rebels of Rhythm and The Unity Committee, and in early ’93 the crews collaborated on a one-off 12″ called “Unified Rebellion” that was an instant underground hit on college radio and mix shows.  Jurassic 5 was now official.

Led by MC’s Zaakir, Akil, Marc 7 and the baritone Chali 2na the group’s sound is held together by the dynamic DJ team of Cut Chemist and DJ NuMark. (Jurassic is one of the few groups out there that uses two DJs on the regular) Capitalizing on the new interest, the group released “The Jurassic 5 EP” later that year on their own indie label and sold over 200,000 copies.  Obviously the streets were hungry for the sound Jurassic 5 was peddling.

The EP is only 8 tracks long, but each track is so deftly crafted and upbeat that it feels like a full album. (Hell, Beck’s latest album is only 10 songs.)  In fact, once it hit legendary status and they got picked up by a major label, they added a few more tracks and called it “The Jurassic 5 LP.”  From the throbbing beat of ‘Jayou’ to the early hip hop feel of ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ the album remains firmly rooted in the past, while all the time looking forward.  No bad day could withstand the onslaught a listening of this album would bring.

But the real treat is and always will be the live show, as it gives the MC’s a time to truely shine and live up the their name.  If you haven’t seen it, the Cut Chemist and DJ NuMark throwdown that happens in the middle of every show is worth the price of admission alone.  To celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the album, they’ve recently released a special edition with all kinds of tasty extras for hungry ears. 

Grab it folks.


DJ Frane – Electric Garden of Delights

The other day my sister gave me a Sirius Satellite radio.

She got it for my brother in-law, but he already had it in his car, and as the technology clearing house for my family, I stepped in and took it over.  I haven’t gotten around to setting it up yet, but it got me thinking about other radio options.

See, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about HD Radio and wondering if it really is better than Satellite radio…or even regular radio.  The big pro over Satellite is that you have no monthly fees.  The con is you have to buy a whole new radio to hear it…although it’s not really a con, but more of a tie because Satellite has that issue too.

So what it really come down to is content. Satellite obviously rules here because they have better content and no commercials, whereas regular radio just sucks.  And being that HD radio is run by regular radio, I have to figure it’s gonna suck too.

Suck whale balls, that is.

I have no idea when radio decided to suck. Obviously it was before my time, or during a portion of my time when I was busy with other things, but I wish I was at the meeting where all the radio bosses sat down and decided:

“What everyone wants is to hear the same 50-100 songs on loop all day!”  They would all loudly agree..or make agreeable grunting noises at least.  Then the discussion would turn to the DJs, and the bosses would all agree that they didn’t really need to be a part of the equation anymore.

“Why bother having a passionate and educated person choosing what songs people should hear?  We’ll choose the music, or at least let the record companies pay us to choose what they want, and all our DJs have to do it be mildly entertaining!” they’d say, clapping each other on the back and lighting cigars.  Congratulating themselves for inventing ‘crap radio.’

I think we’ve only tolerated it for so long because it’s free.  But, free or not, regular radio will most likely never return to the old format of making hits or breaking new talent.

That task is now left to the people…and the internet.

One such discovery was DJ Frane and his fantastic 2003 sophmore effort “Electric Garden of Delights: Beats to Blaze To Volume 2.” I have to give credit where credit is due here and bow to whomever used to do the Vice Magazine music page.  A few years back, they were doing their year-end music round up and all the dude could talk about was how awesome this album was.  I decided to take him at his word, and was glad I did.

If you like DJ Shadow or DJ Krush…or any kind of downtempo beatmaking (Blockhead, old Nightmares on Wax, Jon Kennedy) then this is for you.  See, for the genre, one has to wade through a lot of poseurs and fuck sticks before you come across anything of worth.

And DJ Frane is worth it.  The best part of writing this blog and researching the artists is that you learn new things. I learned that DJ Frane lives here in jolly old Los Angeles and sometime plays at Carbon in Culver City.  Good to know since it’s near my house.  He started mixing and DJing in his teens and dropped his first album “Frane’s Fantastic Boat Ride: Beats to Blaze To Volume 1” in 1999.  Apparently someone at Good Vibe records heard his work and suggested me make a whole album of it.

In a world where sample based music has mostly drifted away on currents of legal woes, Frane keeps it going with real artistry and a lot of live intrumentalization (He plays guitar and keys as well.)  He likes his stuff to be less samples and more sound collage and there fore gives your ears a nice workout.  It’s really good chill out and smoking music as the title implies…with lots of jazzy, psychedelic touches.  Try out my favorite ‘Synethisia’ to see what I mean.

After that, try the Black Sabbath sampling opening track…if you’re not hooked by then, then I can’t help you in this post.  But be on the lookout for his newest album “Journey to the Planet of the Birds.”


Digital Underground – Sex Packets

Whenever I end up DJing, I inevitably come across people who are dying to hear their favorite artist.  Of all these folk, none are more rabid than Tupac fans.

Not that I can blame them much.  I like Tupac too.  But for many years, before I started bringing Tupac’s Greatest Hits with me to every gig, I kept having conversations like this:

“Hey, do you have Tupac’s ‘How Do You Want it?'”

Me, pointing to my crates: “Ahh, sorry.  I didn’t bring any Tupac.”


And then they’d walk away…only to return ten minutes later.

“Hey, you got any Tupac?”

Me: “Uh…no.  None has materialzed since you last asked me.”

You get asked a lot of ridiculous questions by ridiculous people when you DJ.

But what always got me about the Tupac fans was how many of them were completely ignorant of the fact that Tupac got the part playing the thug Bishop in “Juice” and then decided to act that way for the rest of his life.  Before that, he was just this incredibly goofy back up dancer for Digital Underground.

Group leader Greg “Shock G” Jacobs, also known as Humpty Hump,  got his start growing up in New York and South Florida before he brought his love of hip hop and 70’s funk to Oakland in the mid eighties.  He formed Digital Underground in 1987 with fellow members Money B, Piano  Man, 2Fly Eli, DJ Nu Stylez, Cleetus Mack, DJ Fuze and a slew of others including the earlier mentioned Tupac…and they were already a popular act when “Sex Packets” dropped.

Since then they have been touring for nearly twenty years straight.

Aside from the fact that they are my hometown boys (Oaktown!), Digital Underground represents an important part of the West Coast sound, as is apparent in their 1990 debut, “Sex Packets.”  A good portion of the end of my high school career were spent with this blaring out of my speakers.  And with good reason, with hits like ‘The Humpty Dance’ (which, incidentally can still get a party groovin,) ‘The Way We Swing,’ ‘Doowutchyalike’ and my personal gettin’ busy anthem ‘Freaks of the Industry’ how can you miss?  Their sound is just too infectious.

It’s interesting to note that it was released at the same time when Public Enemy’s star was on the rise with their release of the seminal “Fear of a Black Planet.” But Digital Underground decided to take an opposing road. Steering away from harder gangster trends in hip hop at the time, they strove to become a Funkadelic for a new generation, sampling heavily from said library and adorning his album covers with similar cartoon artwork.

And they had a lot of success with this formula too.

It’s kind of sad that the band has chosen to break up as of May of this year, but one can always look back at their humble beginnings and smile.  And when the dude a chump pump points a finger like a stump…tell him step off, I’m doin’ the Hump!


G Love and Special Sauce – Coast to Coast Motel

I remember the first time I saw G Love and Special Sauce back in 1994.  Their self-titled debut album had just dropped, they were getting a lot of good press and the streets were hungry for what they were laying down.  We managed to get tickets to catch their show at the American Legion Hall on Highland, just south of the Hollywood Bowl.

After getting over my initial shock at what a broad spectrum of Angeleno’s had shown up for the show,  and being a little pissed that my key chain pocket knife had been confiscated at the door, the band pretty much proceeded to blow my mind. I’ve seen a lot of shows in my day…and only a very few rank up there in the “Freakin’ Amazing” category…but this was one of them.  The energy in the room that night was unparallelled.

I got on the horn the next morning to alert my friends in the Bay Area of what was coming, exclaiming:

“G Love is coming!!!  Get tickets now!!!”

They had no idea what I was talking about, or who G Love was…but I gave them my personal musical guarantee (I don’t give that out very often) that their money and time would be well spent… after which, they all agreed that I had been correct on all counts.

Because G Love puts on a helluva show.

The band consists of G Love, (a Philadelphia native whose real name is Garrett Dutton III) on harmonica, vocals and guitar; Jimmy “Jazz” Prescott on stand up bass, and Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens on drums.  Their sound hovers in a twilight area where blues, hip hop, folk and jazz all combine into an entirely new animal.  And after their audacious debut, it was thought they might be the second coming.

The following year, the band had gone to New Orleans to record the follow up album titled “Coast to Coast Motel,” and when it was released it fell flat.

I was puzzled…and confused.

I would read the bad reviews, go back and listen to the album again.  Were they listening to the same album I was?  What the hell was going on?  Where did my drink go?  A few people liked the LP, but it seemed to get no press.  I would drop it at parties and people loved it, but none seemed to know about it.  It made no sense that an album this good had pretty much gone unnoticed.  WTF?!?

Even more confusing was the almost complete absense of any of these songs from G Love’s live show.  I collected his live tapes for a while and you were hard pressed to find any “Coast to Coast” material on any of them.  Did he really want to sweep this under the rug?  I never got to ask him.

The band had matured in sound, pulling more from New Orleans funk and folk roots while still retaining their original hybrid aesthetic.  The songs like ‘Kiss and Tell,’ ‘Soda Pop’ and ‘Sweet Sugar Mama’ are literally dripping with soul and a laid back good time funk that catches you off guard.  And the New Orleans vibe pours out so think, you’d think you were at Mardi Gras.

Once again, the critics missed the boat on this one.

But now you don’t have to.

Cheap on Amazon!


Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics – Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop

Ok, so De La Soul was a no brainer.

I feel like I have to throw those ones in from time to time because they are albums you need to own.

But my real reason for writing this blog was to introduce the casual listener to things they don’t know about, which brings us to today’s selection, the seminal 1992 work from Diamond and The Psychotic Neurotics: “Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop”

Many people who know a little about hip hop can name at least one Diamond D song…his production credits are a mile long and include work on A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory,” The Fugeee’s “The Score” and Mos Def’s “Black on Both Sides” just to name a few.  But few know about how awesome this album is.


Joseph “Diamond D” Kirkland was born and raised in the Bronx, where he got ito the hip hop scene at an early age DJing for Jazzy Jay and the Zulu Nation before forming Ultimate Force and releasing tracks on the Cold Chillin Label.

In 1992, however the group disbanded and Diamond began assembling a new crew D.I.T.C.(Diggin in the Crates) when he recorded and released the underground showcase album “Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop.” Not only are Diamond’s beats totally on point, but he displays a previously unknown gift for the rhyme as well. But what also sets the album apart are the guest stars.  This was one of the first places the world would hear Big L (RIP) and Fat Joe before they became big name stars.

(SIDE NOTE: At the time, Fat Joe was a neighborhood dealer when he made it known he wanted to trade in his dealing shoes for a microphone.  Diamond was not not impressed until Joe won the rap battle at The Apollo four weeks in a row!  Word!)

Other notable contributors were Showbiz, AG and The Beatnuts as well as production by Mark the 2600 King, Large Professor and Q Tip.  It contains such notable hits as ‘Sally Got a One Track Mind’ and ‘Best Kept Secret’ as well as lesser known hits like ‘I went for Mine’ and my personal favorite ‘Yo, That’s That Shit.’  This is the kind of album that makes you smack the side of your head and ask “How did I miss this?!?”

Yet, for all the talent and quality it remained an underground hit only. It was only released on cassette and CD at the time, with only a hand full of promo vinyl being pressed.  Said vinyl was going for big bucks until a few years ago when it was finally reissued.

But if you like your hip hop raw and uncut, and you somehow got this far without knowing, go get some of this.

And tell em DJ Tim sent ya.

$10 Cd and a $9 download!




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