I’ve decided to collaborate with my dude Sean Blaze on a new music-oriented blog called Digable Peoples (Digable Planets + Dilated Peoples). If you don’t know Sean, he’s a bear of a man in all (mostly cuddly) facets of the word, and he also happens to know music like few other people I know. Whenever I’m listening to a song that’s been sampled by some artist that I can’t recall, he’s the first person I grill.
In any case, I won’t be killing this blog, nah, this is my baby, but I’ll probably be updating the other one more frequently and with more interesting, less self-indulgent shit. So head over to digablepeoples.com for all the goodness. We’re only a few posts deep, so jump on the bandwagon while nobody likes us, and it’s still uncool enough to be cool.
The Stand recently had a feature on D.C. rapper/producer Oddisee, one of the best doing it right now. He talks about In the Ruff, the project that he dropped towards the end of last year with his group Diamond District (Oddisee, YU, and XO). And while he doesn’t delve too deep into the nerd talk that I’m so fond of, he does shed some light on his production style and philosophy.
What struck me most was how adamant he is about putting out his own, unique brand of Hip Hop. I’m not sure how successfully he’s managed to monetize is abilities or how sizable his revenue stream is, but his refusal to follow the latest Hip Hop trends is inspiring. On top of that, it seems that Jay Electronica is getting radio play somewhere, which, to me, is indicative of a resurgence of ’90s American culture— and this gives me great hope for the future of Hip Hop.
So, at the risk of seeming overly self-indulgent, I look back on my album, Party With a Drumkit, and it’s apparent to me that I was forcing things a bit, despite the fact that the point of the project was to display my versatility as a producer. There are definitely tracks where I saw a sample or preliminary compositional idea leaning one way, and I forced it in a different direction. So, going forward, I intend to just do me, because I believe that’s really the best and only way to make music.
If you haven’t already, get your hands on a copy of In the Ruff, because it’s one of the best albums from ’09 (peep Boxstar up top to catch a sample).
I wrote a while back about how dope Nosaj Thing’s live performances are, but any Youtube videos I found just didn’t do him justice. Luckily, someone over at the Seattle radio station KEXP had a camera handy when Nosaj and Daedelus dropped by to each do a 10-minute set.
Aside from the stellar performances, these videos are dope because they give you a clearer sense of how they’ve mapped out sounds on their respective triggering devices. Nosaj, working off of the Akai APD, seems to have his primary melodic elements and drums programmed to play on loop, although he can adjust the timings and use the repeat button for a stutter effect. So, it would seem that his sound effects (static and sweeps and such) and some alternate percussion are what he actually triggers in real time via the pads.
As for Daedelus, he’s using the Monome controller, linking the 256-button version to its smaller, 64-button sibling. I’ve seen him live before, as well, but, again, this video shed some light on his performance “style.” The way that each pad lights up to various divisions of the beat makes the device seem very intuitive. However, it’s incredible to me that he’s able to remember what some random button in the middle triggers— it’s almost like trying to find a particular groove in record.
Since, like most Hip Hop producers, there’s no performance aspect to my craft yet, it’s great to see the possibilities that exist— particularly with the flexibility provided by Ableton Live. Check the videos out below for their technical know-how, or just admire two great sets.
I know I’ve been out of commission for a minute, but the motivation-slash-interest to post comes and goes. On top of that, computer problems, moving to Silverlake, and general apathy have made it hard to stick with it. I’m not giving up on the blog, and, while I can’t promise I’ll update on the regular, I will keep throwing joints up in the player on the top right. Boxstar will always be full of heat rocks, both streamable and downloadable.
As for my own music, I’ve still got that itch to create, and I promise that there are some power moves in store for the near future. Be sure to stay tuned as I will throw up all of my latest shit.
Vers and I cut this track over the weekend just in time for the UCLA Bruin (Hip Hop) Mixtape presented by the UCLA Hip Hop Congress. With the mixdown, I almost didn’t make the deadline. But it ended up being our most complete track to date. The tape drops on February 2nd at which point I’ll post the track for download. Until then, peep the track below:
Correction: 9th Wonder used to make those beats on Fruity Loops. Looks like he’s moved on to the MPC-2500, coincidentally my tool of choice. Maestro of maestroknows.com went down to North Carolina to check 9th in his studio where he runs a minimalist assemblage of the MP, ProTools, and what appears to be an 8-channel Digidesign mixer. He also talks about his philosphy on chopping samples, a prelude of sorts to his “Chopping Soul” class at Duke University. I wish this shit was available at Oberlin…
The Chronic was recently re-released “as Dre originally wanted,” which included a second CD of unreleased joints. Somehow, they forgot to include this B-Side from the “Dre Day” single. Although I’m all about Dre and Doggystyle, I must admit I never really got into Warren G or the Dogg Pound. That might have to change, though, at least in the case of DPG. Daz and Kurupt ride this beat better than pretty much any other Death Row inmate could, which is probably why Snoop is in the background looking like he pissed himself. This G-Funk period was Dre at his best, in my opinion; when he was trying to move a party instead of making black mafia don music. The guitars, snatched from JB’s “Funky President,” are minimal but add a lot of skip to the beat. And that attention to detail is what Dre 2010 seems to be missing.
A new Eminem joint with Dre on the boards leaked today, but I’d rather listen to this shit…