Friday, June 23, 2017

The Witzard Presents: A Brand New Column, Beat-maker Bedrock #1 with "Teacher, Husband, Beat-maker & Dish Washer" Jumbled (Producer Playlist)


Just about a month ago, I got an email from my friend, producer buddy, and frequent collaborator John Bachman AKA Jumbled mysteriously labelled "2 things." Bachman was writing me about his upcoming Bmore Club-minded project, as well as an idea he said he had been "kicking around;" wherein he simply detailed he wanted to ask "producers to name 3-5 albums that influenced them/their style and talk a little about each album and maybe their [favorite] track." Needless to say, I was immediately interested and Jumbled and I collectively decided we would jointly run our producer playlist column (now, appropriately deemed "Beat-maker Bedrock") on both The Witzard and his Hatford & Reckord Tumblr. And without further ado, here's the inaugural Beat-maker Bedrock artist-penned column with brainchild and beat-maker himself, John "Jumbled" Bachman. Beat-makers and producers: if you're reading this and could like to partake in future volumes of Beat-maker Bedrock, please feel free to contact either myself or John Bachman and we'll do our absolute best to accommodate you! Also, stay tuned for additional details concerning Jumbled's upcoming Bmore Club EP, as well as separate releases with both dwell (of dwell & salk.) as Bully Preston and UllNevaNo.


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Founder & Editor-In-Chief


"Greetings—my name is Jumbled—beat-maker from Baltimore. This is the first column of "Beat-maker Bedrock," where producers/beat-makers name a few albums that inspired them on their path to making music.

Beastie Boys – Paul's Boutique (1989)

I think Licensed to Ill was the second tape I ever bought, but didn’t hear Paul's Boutique for many years later. I had gone to the beach with family right after I finished 11th grade and picked it up a music store. Every song is so dense—entirely produced by the legendary Dust Brothers. A completely different record than Licensed to Ill and the other albums that followed. This album (along with [De La Soul's] Three Feet High & Rising) seemed to signal the end of entirely sample-based production. (I mean, "Egg Man" ends with a Jaws and Psycho sample!) I just wish The Dust Brother had put out more during this era (and pre-Odelay). I think this influenced me by not altering the samples that much, so they are recognizable. Recommended reading: The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (33 1/3) by Dan LeRoy. EDITOR'S NOTE: Additional Recommended Reading... if you've read and enjoyed Dan LeRoy's 33 1/3 Beasties book, I would strongly recommend you also check out its 2014 66 2/3 "sequel," For Whom The Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique (Volume 2) again, by Dan LeRoy and Peter Relic.


GZA – Liquid Swords (1995)

My friends introduced me to Wu-Tang [Clan] Summer of '96. I think it started with Gravediggaz [6 Feet Deep] and [Enter The Wu-Tang] 36 Chambers. Once I started hearing the solo albums, I started digging deeper. During college, there was a music store that sold used tapes and CD's, where I bought most of the solo albums, but had to sell most of them a few summers ago. Out of the all of the them, [Ghostface Killah's] Ironman is probably my favorite, but the samples on Liquid Swords are legendary; dark and brooding, movie samples that set the tone, and the album is lacking filler. This is the sound I strive for now.


Height – Winterize The Game (2007)

Height is a Baltimore emcee that has been creating his own path for years. After reading about him online, I’m pretty sure I bought this CD at True Vine [Record Shop]. All the songs are under three minutes. Most of the production is done by Shields, which uses a lot of samples, yet sounds futuristic, which makes the songs timeless. Other tracks produced by Mickey Free, Jones, and Ms. Paintbrush (of Grand Buffet) compliment and round out this album. I started to attempt making beats (loops) around this time and this album was in heavy rotation. Simple and complex, at the same time.


Honorable mentions: J Dilla – Donuts, Boogie Down Productions – By Any Means Necessary, Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions [to Hold Us Back,] Edan – Primitive Plus & El-P – Fantastic Damage."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

"I DON'T RAP IN BUMPERSTICKERS:" Insurgent Rap Music Emcee sole Speaks On First Album, Bottle of Humans' Kickstarter-funded Vinyl Re-issue (The Witzard Interview)


"After being out of print for almost two decades, I am finally re-issuing my debut album, Bottle of Humans on double-vinyl. In 1998, I moved to California to start a record label with my friends and dedicate my life to music. I was a stranger in a strange land. I didn’t understand it then, but this was a magical period of human and musical history... it was the early era of The Internet and digital recording. Record stores were still a thing. We sat in rooms and made music together. We recorded onto tape. We wrote rhymes on paper. We broke all the rules. These were the early days of what some might later call "Art Rap," "Alternative Hip-Hop," or "Experimental Hip-Hop." Bottle of Humans was my first solo contribution to it.

This album wasn’t meant to be an "album" at all; it was an evolving collection of songs I burned onto a CD-R that I strangely titled "Bottle of Humans." I would burn CD-R's at my corporate job, when my boss wasn’t looking, make covers on the copiers, and then, sell the CD's to Amoeba Music and around at shows. There were at least three different versions of this record that circulated during the course of its early life. In 1999, it was pressed briefly to vinyl, but it was quickly taken out of print because the distributor ripped me off. It never appeared on vinyl again. Now, for the first time in almost two decades, I am proud to re-release Bottle of Humans on double-vinyl with a digital collection of rare and unreleased tracks that didn’t appear on the final CD version. Through this pre-order I am also making available the original lyric pages on which I wrote these songs. Own a piece of this history."


- sole's Kickstarter description



I. Why did you decide to Kickstart (pun intended!) a crowd-funding campaign to properly re-issue Bottle of Humans now, nearly 20 years after its initial release?

People have been wanting Bottle of Humans on vinyl for years; that and Selling Live Water are my top-selling albums, so although my music keeps evolving, I like to celebrate that early stuff... when I listen to it now, I can hear all these influences (Aceyalone, Saafir, Saul Williams, DJ Shadow, etc.) but it's still very much its own thing. That record, in particular, in my opinion, stands in its own as a testament of those particular times, Prog-Rock beats with prose over them that barely rhymed... there is something magical about making art when you are just bumbling in the dark... literally reading poetry for the first time and discovering The Beatles lol. I have toyed with the idea of re-releasing Bottle of Humans for many years, but every time I ran the numbers, it didn't make financial sense for me to invest $4,000 into a 20-year-old record. I was very weary about using Kickstarter for this, but after considering it for years, it became clear that the only way this record will come back to life is if people who give a sh*t wanted to pre-order it. At this point, it's over halfway funded in the first week, which is amazing. I'm not trying to go crazy with it, just trying to cover costs and if it goes way over the top, I might push [to] do a little more to promote it in the Fall/Winter. From a financial perspective, it makes sense sometimes to use Kickstarter for pre-orders because they actually take a smaller cut than Bandcamp.


II. How do the three 1999-2003 Anticon CD-R versions differ of Bottle of Humans and how are they comparable or different from your upcoming Bottle of Humans Vinyl Re-issue?

When Bottle of Humans first appeared as a thing, it was literally just what people today would call a "mixtape." I needed something to sell when I was playing shows, so I collected all my songs that weren't on anything. When I moved to The Bay [Area,] it was with the intention of making an album with my long-time collaborator and producer, at the time, Moodswing9. For whatever reason, our creative relationship started to diverge in The Bay and so, that album never happened. One version of Bottle of Humans was for Scribble Jam; back then, it actually made financial sense to press up a couple hundred CD's for a music event because you'd sell them all and cover expenses. That was what the culture of Indie Rap was like when albums/CD's/vinyl/tape were the primary way people experienced music. The next version of Bottle of Humans must have been for a tour or something and then, the one after that was a 90-minute retail version. Each had a few different songs that didn't appear on the next one. Eventually, Odd Nosdam made a shortened retail version around 2000 that after all is said and done, flowed the best. That's the version I want to put out on vinyl.


III. You recently described Bottle of Humans as "an evolving collection of songs [you] burned onto a CD-R [and] strangely titled "Bottle of Humans'" that was never really meant to be an album at all... How was each CD-R version different and are all of the contained songs now presented here?

Each CD had a slightly different version and the final [Odd] Nosdam version is like a "Best of..." That's the one that is coming out on vinyl. All the other songs (about 40 minutes-worth of music, that I know of) are really good as well, but for the sake of an album sometimes you have to "kill your babies," as they say in film. So, for everyone who was helping fund Bottle of Humans, I wanted them to have access to all the music, once and for all. The extra 40 minutes will be made available as a digital download. I could have put it all on like triple or quadruple-vinyl, but that's just over the top and unnecessary.


IV. Would you care to briefly talk about the various Bottle of Humans album cover designs, some of which were notoriously scanned on copiers at your then-corporate job and sold at Amoeba Music? How did you go about choosing which cover to use for the upcoming vinyl re-issue?

I was working at a consulting firm mainly called Arthur D. Little. They were, at the time, the second or third largest consulting firm in The States. This was at the height of the first Dot-com bubble. I was making like $25 an hour with no college degree and I'd finish all my work in a few hours; the rest of the day, I'd spend promoting my music on message boards. I had a few desktops with CD-burners under my desk, which at the time, were pretty rare. I would just burn CD's at work and then, take them out and sell them at shows. As a 20-year-old kid from Maine, taking the train every day from Oakland into The Embarcadero District, it was all very surreal to me and I felt like I could do that forever. A few jobs later, I realized I'd rather just make music than work at a job like that. After all is said and done with the various album covers, I ended up going with the classic one Why? made because it's the one people associate the most with it and I like the colors and overall design.


V. What exactly was WHY? founder Yoni Wolf's involvement in Bottle of Humans? It appears as though he raps on later editions on "Center City" and designed the third 2003 Anticon edition's "revitalized" cover artwork (used on the upcoming vinyl re-issue, as well,) correct?

Yup, that's his involvement. It's a solo album, so I wasn't working too closely with anyone, in particular. I was working with everyone who was in the mood to work on music, at any given time! Always loved WHY? and his approach. Such a good dude and amazing artist. I am using his art for the final vinyl version.


VI. Bottle of Humans was briefly pressed on vinyl back in 1999, but you've said "it was quickly taken out of print because the distributor ripped [you] off;" would you care to further detail this rather unfortunate chain of events or would you rather not get into it?

Sure. We were working with TRC Distribution. They also distributed a number of other big labels back then and similar stories emerged. We sound-scanned like 30,000 units with our first few releases and they tried to pay us a tiny, tiny fraction of what the numbers said we were owed. So, I had the choice to hire a lawyer and go full on Pyrrhic victory with them or hire a lawyer to litigate and secure the release of our masters to us. That's how companies like that functioned back in the day. You could rip someone off for thousands of dollars and because they couldn't afford the legal fees of fighting back, the people who owned the means of distribution always won. For me, I knew that owning the masters was always the most important thing. So, although taking that loss was huge, that record has been a steady stream of income for my entire life because I got the masters back. First, from TRC then, later from Anticon.


VII. Anticon's 2003 re-issue says, "All songs recorded in The Pedestrian's bedroom, The Treefort, and sole's old bedroom," but what exactly were the recording processes behind Bottle of Humans like?

Really not much different than today. The biggest differences between then and now is that I was living in a 2.5 bedroom house with 10 people. There were always people around, sometimes people in three different rooms working on their projects. Back then, we were using [Alesis Digital Audio Tape] (ADAT) and 8-tracks to record on, not computers, so it would always be easier to have someone in the studio recording you/coaching you and running the machines. Also, when I'd work with producers, we'd sit in the studio with their samplers and put the song together and re-sequence stuff based on writing. Sometimes, they'd just leave the samplers playing and I'd write right there. It was pretty organic and old school. These days, when I make music, it's something I record to a demo alone in my studio on a computer on a beat a producer lays out. I send them my stuff and they remix and re-sequence the music around that. So, it's very different now with technology. It's kind of crazy to think that early analogue material necessitated more collaboration in-person. Never thought about that before.


VIII. How would you say you've grown and progressed as a rapper, producer, and overall human being since the initial 1999 release of Bottle of Humans?

On a human level, I've changed so much it's staggering. First and foremost, it's clear now that during those years, I was carrying a lot of trauma from my childhood; although, my mother always supported the f**k out of me, my father (may he rest in peace) was a pretty abusive person that f**ked me up in countless ways. Over the years, I forgave him and processed certain things my own way, but all that sh*t made me a pretty difficult person to deal with. Although, I was radicalized by reading about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, my music back then was very much focused on vague social commentary and creative writing exercises. When I quit my job and did music full-time, I had so much free time to myself, I mostly spent it reading and trying to learn about history, philosophy etc. and that journey has never ended for me. Also, in my free time, I would spend a lot of time just messing around making beats because I had the means to do so. That was something I did just for fun for a while, until I started producing my own music. So, I went from not being a producer to being a producer. I never learned to play instruments, I always kept my production styles dirty and in homage to the early period of just making beats on samplers on tape.


As a rapper, in many ways, I have come full-circle. The music that was my favorite sh*t in the 90's was Public Enemy and early Gangsta Rap, stuff like Spice 1, N.W.A. and Ice Cube. There was a direct linkage from stuff like Boogie Down Productions to early Gangsta Rap. They all spoke on what it was like to live in the ruins and the sacrifice zones of the United States. Through lots of touring and playing shows in Europe, I became very frustrated with how when I performed my material, people would just cheer, even if they had no idea what I was saying. Back in that early stuff, I didn't enunciate very clearly. It was almost like a secret language for the initiated (kind of like Punk music, I guess.)

When I was living in Barcelona from 2004-2006, I reflected on this a lot, I researched a lot of old Folk stuff and became obsessed with how Folk artists were able to speak to the times in such a clear way and I wanted to do that to my music. To do it, I would have to change my approach entirely. I would have to find an engaging way to make music to speak clearly... so, I started really studying people like Jay-Z, Nas, and 50 Cent. It wasn't until the Southern stuff really exploded that I found my voice. I saw echos of early Anticon in everyone from Lil' Wayne to Lil B and even today in people like [Lil] Uzi Vert. So, I saw that as my window to intervene in the moment. I am a student of all this sh*t, so I thought to myself, what would Woodie Guthrie be doing today? I think he'd be rapping over hard-a$$ beats. So, that's what I am doing today. As an artist, I think its really boring to go back and make the same sh*t over and over again and I think it's really uninspiring to forever live in the cloak of old material. All my favorite artists change and I love them for it. For me, the circle on that old life has closed; I am no longer working with Anticon, I am no longer a a 20-year-old kid trying to decode Nietzche quotes, but I want to honor that old music and that period for the profound impact it had on me and for the contribution it was to the world of music in general. As a DIY artist, if I don't tell my story and rep for my back catalog, no one will!


IX. I remember you saying that around the time of Bottle of Humans, you were first getting into production work and making your own beats; did you hand-craft any of the beats on the album? And if not, who was responsible for the production work and how did you go about finding them?

No, I didn't produce any of the music on this album. The producers I worked with were mostly Controller7, Alias, DJ Mayonnaise, Odd Nosdam, and Jel. DJ Mayonnaise, and Alias were both from Maine and moved out to The Bay when me and Pedestrian did in 1998. Other artists we met through tape trades; people like Jel and through Jel, doseone and through doseone, WHY? and Odd Nosdam. All of them re-located to The Bay at the same time with the same dream. I met Controller7 when I was listening to the music that was distributed at the first house I lived in San Francisco, an underground tape [distributor] called Atak Distribution. That's how I met all those people, most of them formed the core of Anticon.


X. Are you currently working on any new music, Nuclear Winter remix collections, or anything of that nature? If so, when might we ultimately, expect to see said new material released?

I am working on a new mansbestfriend-y kind of record called Communique. It'll probably come out in the Fall. I am also halfway through the new sole & DJ Pain 1 record, but we are taking our time with that. I feel like the stuff we have been making could really reach a bigger audience, so I'm interested to see what we can do with that record to make some bigger things happen. As far as Nuclear Winter, it's hard to work on that stuff these days because all the music is stolen, so I can't sell it. I might make another one in the Fall, but we'll see how far I get on these other projects. It's hard to make music in the Summer; my brain shuts down in the heat and I just wanna stare into my backyard and watch life spring into being. One of my biggest creative projects right now that I am working on is my podcast, The Solecast. I am also working on a book about Hip-Hop and radical politics for a radical book publisher that I have a crazy amount of respect for; so, between these albums, I'll be trying to wrap that up, as well.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Shark Tank Let Loose Chummy Third Single from Height-produced Dan's House, "Dan's House (Shouts to Hell Rell)" COLD RHYMES RECORDS



Not only is Shark Tank a Kevin "Mr. Wonderful" O'Leary-helmed dream-crushing ABC reality show, it's also a dream-crushing Kingston, Ontario/Pittsburgh, PA/Baltimore, MD-based Hip-Hop posse. Shark Tank AKA The Fun Youngs—fronted by "John" Height and backed by lyrical assassins "John" Lord Grunge, "John" B.Rich, and sometimes, "John" Mickey Free—are currently prepping their fourth Height-produced album, fittingly titled Dan's House for a summertime release on Cold Rhymes Records. "This is the video for "Dan's House" filmed by Ben O'Brien and edited by B.Rich. Naturally, this was filmed in my house. We were originally supposed to play ourselves in the video, but when a wrench got thrown [into] our travel plans, we got Emily Slaughter, Jones, and Mickey Free to stand-in. All three of them are fire emcees and beat-makers and of course, Mickey Free is the Jarobi White of Shark Tank," Height Keech wrote within an emailed statement over the weekend.


"Dan's House" (complete with parenthetical "Shouts to Hell Rell" of The Diplomats fame) is the third single let loose ahead of Shark Tank's upcoming Dan's House, behind quick-strike "Intro (Blaze for Days)" and The Witzard-premiered lead-off track "ACE;" however, I've heard a pre-release press advance and I can whole-heartedly attest that Dan's House is indeed chock-full of nine additional Beastie Boys-style Rap Round Robin compositions entirely produced by "John" Height and mixed by "John" Brandon Lackey. Dan's House is currently available for pre-order for an incredibly reasonable $7-10 in either Digital Album or Compact Disc (CD) formats from both Shark Tank's and Cold Rhymes Records' Bandcamp pages. If you still aren't 100% sold, for whatever reason, the three aforementioned hard-as-nails tracks are currently streaming from "ALBUM FOUR FROM THE FUN YOUNGS." Dan's House is out 7/17 on Height's own Cold Rhymes Records.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Witzard Presents: Another EXCLUSIVE Interview with "SADEVILLAIN" Mastermind Seanh AKA @TheSeanh2k11 On Villainous Follow-up, SADEVILLAIN II (DOOM + Sade Mash-up)


"After /r/jimmyjrg created those stems of MF DOOM, I knew I had to follow up SADEVILLAIN with a [sequel] and this is exactly what I've done. I've had nothing but free time on my hands and went right to work on this project. The amount of recognition of the first tape got was insane, it was incredibly overwhelming and I still thank everyone who has listened to it," Seanh AKA clerksfanboy AKA Snh AKA @TheSeanh2k11 recently wrote within an /r/MFDOOM Subreddit titled I Present to You... SADEVILLAIN II. I've spoken with Seanh a few times over the course of the past year since the release of SADEVILLAIN (2016) and last I knew, he was busy crafting some original beats for an Aesop Rock remix project, which became his recent Aesop Rock vs. Seanh EP. It appears as though Seanh quietly uploaded SADEVILLAIN's proper sequel, fittingly titled SADEVILLAIN II, Monday afternoon and seemingly wasn't picked up by an media outlets until @okayplayer Tweeted out: "Ol' Metal Fingers and the iconic British Soul singer are joined once more in 'SADEVILLAIN II,'" that very evening. I then, promptly reached out to Seanh via Twitter DM and submitted an interview request—itself, oddly enough, a sequel of sorts to our 2016 conversation and Seanh's original DOOM EP—and today, a mere two days later, voilĂ , you have the very SADEVILLAIN II-cenric interview you are about to embark upon! Seanh initially posted a SADEVILLAIN II link within the /r/MFDOOM Subreddit (which has since been taken down.) Although, full-album SADEVILLAIN II streams are currently available on Soundcloud and YouTube, as well as a direct download from mixtape-hosting hub, DatPiff.


Sincerely,

"Master Allah Truth Truth" (M-A-T-T)
The Witzard Founder & Editor-In-Chief



I. What was your typical recording, remixing, and mashing-up process like for SADEVILLAIN II and how did it differ from your processes while creating its 2016 predecessor, SADEVILLAIN?

My process was pretty much the same; I listened to a lot of Sade and picked out songs that I thought fit the flow of DOOM well and flipped the sample [whenever] possible to give it a different feel to the original. I then added drums to the sample and then, added DOOM's vocals, thus creating SADEVILLAIN. I also added a prelude track called "Fun Is High," which was fun to make. It was a little skit to go into the "Blunted" track featuring [Sean Price and] vocals from old commercials.

II. Have you received any type of feedback from either DOOM, Sade, or any of their respective affiliates? If not, what was the highest form of praise you've received on the SADEVILLAIN project(s) thus far?

No feedback from either DOOM or Sade and to be honest, I'd be worried what they'd think of it. I know a lot of artists don't like their stuff being remixed and what not, but it would be cool to know if they have heard it. The biggest praise was from Lupe Fiasco, who Tweeted out the first SADEVILLAIN [album] a year ago on Twitter, which I thought was really dope.


III. I remember you saying you got the DOOM a cappella stems from Reddit user /r/jimmyjrg, but how exactly did you go about obtaining and choosing the various "features" peppered throughout SADEVILLAIN II?

In terms of choosing the features, not a lot of thought went into it. I would have liked to add guys like Earl Sweatshirt, Aesop Rock, and Apani B, but none of them had any stems that would have worked. So, I chose artists who would have complemented DOOM's [flow]. I also originally had Ghostface Killah on the "The Toughest" track, but changed it last minute to Raekwon because I preferred his flow and style more; you might see some sources saying "(ft. Ghostface)," but that's only because I forgot to change the title's name.

IV. Would you care to briefly speak on a few of your other recent Bandcamp releases, namely Aesop Rock vs. Seanh EP and Stand Alone EP? Also is Stand Alone, as it sounds, your first release of completely original material?

My other Bandcamp stuff isn't anything to shout about. I created an Aesop Rock tape because I was new to his stuff and wanted to mess around with his stems and see if I could create a beat that gave him a darker feel, [which] was fun to do. The "Stand Alone" EP was my attempt at a "Chill-Hop" tap, featuring soft drums and soft melody loops that was supposed to give off a relaxing vibe. It was purely experimental, as I don't rate the tape that high, but it was still fun to make.


V. What are your Top 5 DOOM or DOOM-related releases (be it full-lengths, singles, EP's remixes, etc.) and why for each, Seanh?

This is going to be tough! I'm a huge DOOM fan, so I'll give you my Top 5 official projects that DOOM has worked on (from 5th to 1st): Born Like This, MM.. FOOD, THE MOUSE AND THE MASK, Vaudeville Villain, and MADVILLAINY. Just speaking briefly on each tape; Born Like This (2009) being DOOM's latest solo project, I feel like this tape is fairly under-rated. DOOM's raw lyrics shine throughout this project and the production is fairly minuscule, but that's only because DOOM really wants to show you he can rap raw if he wants to... tracks like "Cellz," "Ballskin," and "That's That" have some of the rawest lyrics of any DOOM project. THE MOUSE AND THE MASK (2005) album has a very cool concept—the cartoony samples really fit well into DOOM's persona. It makes it sound as if DOOM has his own show and he's just giving us a tour on his life as a cartoon. It's a really cool album that is always on repeat. Vaudeville Villain (2003) is by far, his most unique album—the weird futuristic vibe of his alter ego/younger self really shines through. The amount of movie references in the project is crazy and it's always fun to listen to! The last two, MM.. FOOD (2004) and MADVILLAINY (2004) get spoken about a lot. MM.. FOOD is the first project I heard of DOOM—the food references and double entendres are out of this world! And MADVILLAINY is his greatest project, in my opinion. The crazy unique samples that Madlib pulls out really makes this album more that just a musical project, but an experience that everyone needs to go through, no matter what genre of music you're into.

VI. What exactly do you have planned next for creation and eventual release? Now, would you ever do a third DOOM-centric release or are you planning to try to distance yourself a bit from SADEVILLAIN I-II from here on out?

In terms of what's next, I really don't know. I probably won't make another SADEVILLAIN [project]. I feel like two is enough, but never say never. My plan is to continue producing, try and step my game up, and maybe work on some original stuff, while I try and progress further as a producer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Zilla Rocca & Small Professor AKA Career Crooks Join a Long Line of Hip-Hop Luminaries Waxing Poetic About Steve Martin with Bob Sweeney-directed "Steve Martin" (Grown Up Rap)


Steve Martin's long-standing and storied relationship with Hip-Hop goes back nearly 30 years. It seems to have all started with "The Steve Martin" from EPMD's critically-acclaimed and genre-shaping debut Strictly Business (1988) which goes a little something like this:

"Well, I have a new dance, that you all must learn
You may have seen the Pee-Wee Herman, but it's had it's turn
Now, this brand new dance, I know you not with it
You might break your neck, to really try to get it
If you seen the clumsy movie it was called The Jerk
You had to check out Steve Martin, as he started to work
He was doin' freaky moves with his feet and head
With his blue farmer suit and his big Pro-Keds."


It appears as though, according to YouTube's Learn Hip Hop Dance instructor MahaloDance, "The Steve Martin" is also "an old school Hip-Hop move," which I would assume was likely inspired by EPMD's 1988 album track of the same name. Lest we forget, Steve Martin starred within 2013 American Comedy film Bringing Down The House alongside Queen Latifah, Eugene "Jim's Dad" Levy, Betty White, and Angus T. Jones from Two and a Half Men; a film fittingly billed as "When a lonely guy meets a woman on The Internet who happens to be in prison, she breaks out to get him to prove her innocence, and proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life." At one point within the Adam Shankman-directed movie, Martin's character Peter Sanderson buys an Enyce jersey and outfit from a young African-American man (whom he calls "homeboy") and proceeds to make his way through a club hilariosuly "dancing" with women nearly half his age. Bringing Down The House's Hollywood Records-released soundtrack additionally features rhymes from the likes of Jadakiss & Eve, Foxy Brown, Queen Latifah herself, Floetry, Lil' Wayne, Big Tymers & TQ, Pharrell-fronted N*E*R*D, Kelly Price, Robert Palmer, and Barry White.


The Witzard's latest interview subjects, Zilla Rocca & Small Professor (collectively known as Career Crooks) recently partook in a similarly-minded with interview with London-based writer and Grown Up Rap Editor Ben Pedroche. Along with said Zilla & Small Pro interview, Grown Up Rap additionally premiered Career Crooks' Bob Sweeney-directed music video for Good Luck with That's incredibly infectious stand-out "Steve Martin." After seeing the "Steve Martin" premier at Grown Up Rap, I promptly reached out toboth Small Professor & Zilla Rocca, via email; with Small Pro stating: "[it's the] second video from Good Luck With That. Watch Zilla demonstrate his South Philly Rap hands technique and me stare menacingly into the camera, while inexplicably wearing a wrestling mask. Learn the "Steve Martin" dance from YouTube and do it to the song. Our album is out now, cop or stream it wherever you regularly do either. Eff Bill Maher!" Smalls' partner-in-crime, Zilla Rocca, further detailing within a separate email: "'Steve Martin" is a super-old song, one of the first [collaborations] between us. The original beat ended up on Small Pro's remix project Gigantic, Vol. 0 (2012) on a song with me and Curly Castro, "Welcome to The Holodeck" Remix. So, the retail version is the polar opposite in every way. I always loved the song, so I figured we should revisit it for the Career Crooks album. Smalls cooked up the remix and now, we have the video, which is Small Pro's first ever video appearance in his Rap life."

Monday, June 12, 2017

Walter Gross Unveils 50 Limited Edition Hand-made & Re-dubbed VESTIGE Companion SUPER BASIC "Beat Tapes" (Bandcamp, self-released)



"I don't want to go into too much detail with this release, except for the idea that it was made in the spirit of a beat tape, even [though] it's not traditionally a "beat tape." Meaning, it's a hodge-podge of random stuff that is sequenced and edited to be able to enjoy as a little journey. And it is also an excuse to use these [CHILDREN'S TALKING BIBLE] cassettes I had and make some art. The term "SUPER BASIC" is a bit of commentary on the state of our world right now; this super-mechanical, very stagnant status of things," Berlin-based beat-maker and multi-media artist Walter Gross told The Witzard within a recent email. SUPER BASIC is a companion piece, of sorts to Gross' March 2017 Black Box Tapes-released cassette, VESTIGE and he'll be the first to tell you why it was released so soon after its predecessor: "Rent. I need rent money!" SUPER BASIC was made in true 1980's Golden Age Hip-Hop mixtape/beat tape fashion: 50 super-limited edition copies with one-of-a-kind hand-crafted Burroughsian "cut-up" slipcase covers, re-dubbed over THE CHILDREN'S TALKING BIBLE cassettes and last, but not least, artistically splattered with florescent pink and blue paint. SUPER BASIC is also available digitally, for those who might not be able to snag one of the super-limited 50 cassettes, before they're all gone; although, as a slight buying incentive, "the tape version contains a bonus secret song not available digitally." It appears as though SUPER BASIC's three versions consist of 10-12 tracks created around the same time as VESTIGE that could very well be deemed "bonus tracks" to that very album themselves: left-overs, unfinished song ideas, B-sides, post-VESTIGE compositions, and a FilthyBroke Recordings comp. submission all recorded between 2015-17. SUPER BASIC sounds like the woozy, free-spirited slightly more loose red-headed stepsister to Walter Gross' VESTIGE.


Where were you on the afternoon of May 23rd between 12:04 and 1:36 PM? Because Walter Gross (@waltergross) was on Twitter giving some short, yet insightful 140 character max commentary on his just-released SUPER BASIC collection and 6 of its 11 standard edition tracks (which I've transcribed below.) COMMENCE THE SHORT COMMENTARY: TRACK #1 "'Hierophant I:" I read the word not really understanding & then, it was spoken to me in a weird way by a Serbian gypsy... For me, personally, it's my favorite; it's a live remix of [album closer] "Hierophant II." Last year was insane and this song is my diamond bullet to it." TRACK #4 "'Timer" was also an accident recorded when I made "Naked Lunch." I like the bit with "The National Anthem" in it. One take." TRACK #5 "'Cookie [By The Sea]" was made for this Anti-Bullying comp. for @FilthyBrokeMJC using samples from Ron & Fez / Manchester By The Sea." TRACK #6 "'Dear Dirt Baz" continues the Dear Dirt McGirt tradition of mashing Wolf Eyes / ODB as a healing process... yet another installment of Dear Dirt McGirt / the quintessential collage of ODB / Wolf Eyes #RIPDIRTDOG." TRACK #9 "'Chip's Pile Driver" is from a beat on the Double Down Tour (now lost) using a Jim Norton / @ChipChipperson clip." "So, this concludes the commentary segment of this evening. Thanks for listening. Hope it finds your reality well and loud!" @waltergross signed off on 5/23. SUPER BASIC was entirely produced, processed, remixed, and re-arranged by Walter Gross in Berlin from 2015-17 and contains samples from Academy Award-winning film Manchester By The Sea, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Wolf Eyes, and Chip Chipperson. It's currently available for purchase on 50 hand-made re-dubbed cassette tapes and digital download from Walter Gross' extremely plentiful Bandcamp page.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Darko The Super Unleashes New Doc Heller Beat Tape BUMMER EVERY SUMMER; Feat. Apocalyptic Bastard Left-overs, 90's Sample Flips, Darko-led Vocal Tracks & Kool A.D. Bonus Instrumental (U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART)



Mere hours before penning this very piece you are about to embark upon, I was taking a late night scroll through Twitter and happened to stumble upon HYPEBEAST Editor Ben Roazen (@broazay)'s recent interview with [adult swim] Vice President & Creative Director Jason DeMarco (@Clarknova1.) DeMarco is of course, responsible in part for [adult swim]'s seventh annual Singles Program, Williams Street Records, DANGERDOOM's THE MOUSE AND THE MASK, and bringing together Run The Jewels, amongst countless animated/musical triumphs. I was, as a matter of fact, at the time, trying to figure out a slightly unique angle to approach this Darko The Super BUMMER EVERY SUMMER write-up and VOILA... Near the end of HYPEBEAST's interview, Ben Roazen asked Jason DeMarco to briefly discuss [adult swim]'s storied years-long working relationship with DOOM; to which DeMarco replied in part, "I've got paintings that DOOM made for me on my desk. Like I said, I wanna build these relationships and have them be fruitful and continuous. It's a refreshing change for someone like DOOM, who's used to people trying to steal their money all the time. As far as now, DOOM's working. I can't say much more, but I'm definitely doing more with [DOOM & Danger Mouse]."


And to be honest, that's exactly how I feel about my friend and as you well know by now, frequent collaborator Evan Souza AKA Darko The Super. He's an extremely talented and very unique aspiring Philly-based rapper-producer, who like all of us, just needs a little reassurance and affirmation from time to time. Darko The Super is currently readying to unleash his 60th album, Watered-Down Demon Fuzz this August, as well as Return to The Hell Hole Store with partner-in-rhyme ialive on June 23rd. I first met Darko about a year or so ago after reading a detailed interview John "Jumbled" Bachman conducted along with ialive about their then-forthcoming The Hell Hole Store album on Already Dead Tapes. It's been grrr-eat working with Darko The Super and over the span of the past year, we've collaborated on a number of unique features, profiles, reviews, interviews, U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART artist spotlights, and even a Darko-penned guest post for The Witzard. It's honestly, one of the strongest and most plentiful working relationships and friendships I've managed to build up and maintain during all my years writing and running this very site! Darko The Super's latest beat tape, BUMMER EVERY SUMMER, is currently available for streaming or purchase for just $3.11 at his U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART Bandcamp page with an additional 12th bonus track, upon purchase.


"BUMMER EVERY SUMMER is a beat tape of some stuff I made while working on Watered-Down Demon Fuzz, plus some older random songs I went back to. I like putting together and releasing albums—it's fun for me—so, I try to do it often. This album is mostly filler and some killer, in my opinion. I love the title—it's something I had in mind already—then, when I heard the line from [Frank Zappa &] The Mothers of Invention's Absolutely Free album, I knew I wanted to use it for something. The artwork was fun to work on; I have all these old photos from when I was little that I found on a hard drive and have been using for my artwork. That’s me buried in the sand at the beach one summer. I wish I had more to say about this album, but I've been so depressed and hoped releasing this would cheer me up somehow, but it's not working. Thank you to anyone who enjoys it," Doc Heller AKA Darko The Super detailed within an emailed statement. BUMMER EVERY SUMMER features a wide array of characteristically Darko instrumentals, album left-overs, previously unreleased tracks, quick vocal interludes, late 90's sample flips, and much, much more! "Breed" samples The Breeders' "Cannonball," "What Are We Doing? What's Going On?" flips Linda Perry-led 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up," "Check Out These Wheel Deals!" samples Tears for Fears and is actually a left-over from Apocalyptic Bastard, Juice Newton "Angel of The Morning"-flipping "One for Homeboy Sandman," Billy Joel "The Longest Time"-sampling, a cover of Tommy Maris' Bud Ross-penned 1971 single "Guess I'll Never," and a bonus instrumental fittingly titled "Kool A.D. Rhymed to This for 6 Minutes," as well as two Darko-led vocal tracks: Harvey Danger-sampling "And I Don't Even Own a TV (Doc Heller's Dangerous Remix)" and "Looney Bin Loser."