Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Jeff Chang and Subtitle
Listed: Jeff Chang + Subtitle
Bay Area hip hop writer Jeff Chang broke out of the weekly/monthly racket earlier this year with the publication of his book, Can't Stop Won't Stop. It has quickly become THE definitive study on the history of hip hop and its culture, painting in-depth pictures of 1970s Jamaica and South Bronx that lay out the events leading up to the birth of hip hop, and beyond all the way to the LA riots of the 90s. Chang is currently working with Quannum (the influential Bay Area hip hop label which Chang co-founded) on an audiobook of Can't Stop Won't Stop. The UK/Australia paperback comes out on August 4, the revised US paperback edition is out in January 2006. The book is being translated into French and Finnish, and recently won a 2005 American Book Award.
10 Cool Summer Dusties for Dusted
1. The Ghetto Brothers - "Ghetto Brother Power" (Mary Lou 7", 1972)
These South Bronxites were in their late teens when they recorded this song, trying to make the transition from being gang-bangers to peace-makers. A few months after the 1971 peace treaty and about a year before DJ Kool Herc plugged in, they were hooking up amps to the streetlights and playing post-truce block parties. The funk is so infectious and the Latin-soul backbeat so irresistible that you might say to yourself, "No wonder hip-hop got started in the Bronx."
2. Coke Escovedo - "Runaway/I Wouldn't Change A Thing" (from Comin' At Ya! Mercury LP 1976)
When we were putting together the Can't Stop Won't Stop mixtape, DJ D-Sharp pulled doubles of this album out of the crate. I'd always thought of the songs for their breaks--"Monie In The Middle" anyone? Tuff Crew? OK, I'm dating myself. But the way he blended them gave me a whole new appreciation for the song's melody. Now everyone starts singing along when we play the CD in the car.
3. Sonora Carruseles - The Best (Disco Fuentes CD, 2002)
My homie, the great hip-hop journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry, turned me on to this record from her Colombiano compadres. It's a smoking set of salsa dura, salsa brava, and old-school Bronx bugalu. They do Fania and Joe Cuba classics from the 60s and 70s, but with sabor that's both raw and modern. All hail the new kings!
4. Mikey Dread - African Anthem Dubwise (1979, reissued by Auralux, 2004)
One of the best--and most sampled, thanks to Coldcut--dub albums of all time. I understand that this was supposed to be re-released at one point by Steve Barrow on Blood and Fire, but the fine folks at Auralux did a fantastic job. With the remastering, everything snaps and oscillates a little more. It sounds best after a long day spent underwater.
5. Trouble Funk - The Beat" (Jamtu 12" 1981)
In DC, they used to call Go-Go simply "The Beat". This is like a DJ's dream--it's just 2 sides and about 20 minutes of pure rhythm with rippling congas, squiggly special effects, and bass pulls. Percussionist T-Bone goes nuts. If you want more, try to find All The Way Live, a "PA tape" from the 80s that they self-released on CD in limited quantities just 5 years ago. I hear it goes for like $100 now, but it's worth every penny.
6. Man Parrish feat. Freeze Force - "Boogie Down Bronx" (Sugarscoop 12", 1984)
This was the electro-master's followup to "Hip-Hop Be-Bop", a weird popping anthem that never really blew up, but that I nonetheless have very fond memories of. The rap sounded like a cross between Newcleus and MC Tee from Mantronix, but much more hardcore. (Bonus shout out to Mayor Koch.) This was the track that only the real poppers could dance to. You had to find your spot at the edge of the cipher and pray one of them didn't call you out.
7. Soweto Never Sleeps: Classic Female Zulu Jive (Shanachie LP, 1986)
OK, so yall are trying to bring back the 80s. Well, can you at least get to this? Here are South Africa's Mahotella Queens, the Mgababa Queens, the Dark City Sisters, and Irene and the Sweet Melodians, mostly backed by Marks Mankwane and the ridiculously smoking Makgona Tsohle band. The songs were so dope that Malcolm McLaren, the P-Diddy of his time, ripped off a few for "Duck Rock". What the world needs now is not a gotdam Coke--we used to boycott that stuff!--but a Zulu Jive/mbaqanga revival.
8. Doug E. Fresh - "Keep Risin' To The Top" (Reality 12", 1988)
Uptown hero Doug E. Fresh came in during the mid-80s at the end of Harlem's short reign at the top of the hip-hop scene, but he still rocks that lost art of party-rocking, in the tradition of Eddie Cheeba and DJ Hollywood. Most MCs--who go directly from the notebook to the studio these days--can't hold a quarter of Doug E.'s weight. This track makes me think of summer nights and open air music.
9. King Tee - "Got It Bad Y'all" (Capitol 12", 1992)
The best King Tee song of all time, and that's saying a lot. Tela introduces the Alkaholiks. Pooh flips Grant Green. It's the best use of a car alarm ever mastered on wax. The cover features a sick B & W from Glen E. Friedman. I prize this record.
10. Curumin - Achados E Perdidos (Quannum CD, 2005)
And now, back to the future. Chief Xcel of Blackalicious was hanging out in Sao Paulo and wandered into one of drummer and composer Curumin's gigs. He hears music like Xcel, Shadow or Lyrics Born does. He fits together all these pieces in completely unexpected, but thoroughly organic ways--samba, bossa nova, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder, electronic, dub, hip-hop. This is the sound of where hip-hop needs to go.
Giovanni Marks, a.k.a. Subtitle, gives a shout out to extinct noise duo Pink and Brown during the intro to his new album, Young Dangerous Heart (GSL). While thatís not all you need to know about Subtitleís unique take on hip hop, itís a good first impression. Marks has been practicing his tattered take on the genre since 1997, churning out CD-Rs on his own and working with groups like Lab Waste. The 6-foot-8 Marks didnít release his first legit EP until 2003, Iím Always Recovering From Tomorrow, also on GSL, but it might as well been 1983. His debut, this yearís full-length and his collaboration with Thavius Beck, Zwarte Achtegrond all reveal a reverence for the early experimental days of hip hop, as if Basquiat was guiding his hand across the decks from beyond the grave. The 27-year-old made news earlier this year when he was assigned MC duties for the Unicornsí reinvention as a hip-hop band. Donít hold that against him.
1. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffitti - The Doldrums (Paw Tracks)
First up, go and hunt down this album and the other one he has out called Worn Copy, they are both out of control.... This dude's sound is straight up unidentifiable by a untrained ear. Even when I had a full-time job at a record store (which meant listening to every and anything everyday) it was hard for me to exactly pinpoint when this record was recorded between 1968 and 2003. It sounded like someone dumped soda on Satan's 4-track master tapes and when found, Satan just waved his hand over them and dried them right up.
2.David Axelrod - self titled (Mo' Wax)
This is also a must have in the world of the music enthusiast. For those who aren't familiar, to cut a long story short: He helped invent the fusion of rock and jazz, along with thirty other things. Everyone with a brain born before 1984 has sampled him and three modern producers known for perpetuating his legacy thru their work are Diamond, (Diamond D) Doctor Dre and DJ Shadow. He had some acetates sitting around from an unreleased RCA album and B+ (a famed photographer and jack of other trades) put pressure on him to release it. He cleaned it up and did so in 2000.
3. Death Frome Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (Vice Records)
How cliche is it for me to list a rock group in my top-10 list? Wait, there's more.... These dudes from Canada number 2 in group number and 45 in sickness. (50 is sonic youth, 1 being worst and 10 being best) There's way too much focused energy on this release for 2 people to generate. The drummer sings and the guitarist just plays bass, keyboard and samples himself with loop pedals and oscillator pedals in order to do both at the same time while singing thru a Vocoder like Roger Troutman. All the while, shredding the P.A. system of the location. Brilliant...
4.Elzhi - The Libido Speedo mix (Libido Speedo)
This dude is a f*cking genius lyricist, hands down. I'll be first in saying that he's the best rapper in Detroit and one of the best in the world, if not 3-D. He puts lines together like no one else and has the fortune of being able to ride some of the best instrumentals in hip-hop, which he does effortlessly. A cold blooded lizard of a rapper, he could be a Annunaki......
5. Wiley - Treddin' On Thin Ice (XL)
Another modern day inventor of a necessary product, Eskiboy lets you know who the grime sound of England is getting flipped by first. He and Dizzee Rascal signed to XL at the same time and according to legend, Dizzee was ready to go first with a record and shot out. Wiley already had engagements with his indie wax, Eski-raves to throw and day to day drama to work out before dropping his major debut. By the time he did, situations arose that prevented him from promoting the record efficiently. Don't sleep on this record like everyone involved in it's creation did, this is a classic waiting to be dated.
6. Thavius Beck - Decomposition (Mush)
Syncopated funeral dirges never ever sounded this good, I don't care who died. The man sometimes known as Adlib destroys all facets of the producer card, while enlisting help from such iconoclasts as Cedric Bixler-Zavalas to his own voice box for lyrical skill. A true science renegade, he can't be stopped.
7. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse (Goofin)
Get the vinyl and give them some money. Rock's futurists give you a true heater from their ever expansive intellectual trust. They age like fine moonshine and whatever else besides cheese. Finally getting their minds right after the havoc 9-11 wreaked on their lab and lives, they hit a hard stride and don't stop running. Radical adults, indeed....
8. The Mars Volta - Deloused In The Comatorium (GSL/Strummer)
While their new album is wild as hell, covering varied terrain, the supergroup blew light bulbs out all over with this debut. The collection of musicians mesh seamlessly to give you every musical style of the 20th and 21st centuries worth performing. It sounds like everything and nothing at the same time. Congrats on pulling that one off.
9. Boards of Canada - Music Has A Right To Children (Skam / Warp)
I ask myself often about the things that I was doing in 1998 when this record was released, and I never come up with a good answer. Never. This record is perfect in a flawed world. A template that all should follow in order to make grand instrumental music. I understand as to why they never did a show, nor do they have to.
10. Isolee - We Are Monster (Playhouse)
My god, what is this?! Anyone can do anything to this record. I mean, it was intended to dance to, but I've rapped over it in Finland, danced to it in Hollywood with my roommate, listened to it in Sweden crossing a street and in Germany holding a pink umbrella. Learn to love to the pitch adjuster with the song Enrico and mix it with anything you can think of.
By Dusted Magazine