Sunday, April 21, 2019

B. Dolan & Sage Francis On EPIC BEARDS, This Was Supposed to Be Fun & Come to The Sand Dunes Tour (The Witzard Interview)


Sage Francis & B. Dolan are two Underground/Indie Hip-Hop emcees who have, arguably, achieved as much success as one can within the genre, without "going" Mainstream." It appears as though Sage & B. have always been friends and have been collaborating with each other for years, although, first appeared on-record together in 2012 for the first time dually billed as EPIC BEARD MEN. It was on "2BAD" from B. Dolan's HOUSE OF BEES VOL. 2 MIXED BY: BUDDY PRICE. Since then, B. Dolan & Sage Francis have been loosely collaborating together on-and-off as EPIC BEARD MEN with Dolan releasing countless solo albums on Francis' own label imprint, Strange Famous Records, as well. As recently as 2018, Sage & B. made it "official" releasing their first collaborative project together, Season 1 EP, which contained four Bonus Tracks meticulously tacked onto it's tail-end.

Now, EPIC BEARD MEN have returned, exactly one year later, as promised, with their aptly-titled debut full-length project, This Was Supposed to be Fun. Honestly, Strange Famous Records describe it best: "This Was Supposed to Be Fun plays like a dark Buddy-Comedy gone spectacularly sideways: the mighty EPIC BEARD MEN are back in the barber chair, f*#&in' up your market share. You can't tell them sh*t. The chill is gone. The chill was never here." For This Was Supposed to Be Fun, Sage Francis & B. Dolan have recruited a talented cast of characters including Yugen Blakrok, Wu-Tang Clan affiliate Blue Raspberry, DS3K, Eligh of Living Legends, Vockah Redu, Atmosphere emcee Slug, Circle Takes The Square's Kathleen Stubelek, and Worldwide. I've been, personally, speaking with B. Dolan online since after the release of Season 1 and I'm proud to finally present The Witzard's long-in-the-works interview with the EPIC BEARD MEN themselves, Sage Francis & B. Dolan!


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Your Supremely Bearded Scribe


I. I remember seeing "House of Bees" from 2009's house of bees vol. 1 included within EPIC BEARD MEN's 2018 Season 1 EP... but when exactly did you two bearded fellas decide to officially form EPIC BEARD MEN?

B. DOLAN: I don't remember the exact moment or year. I think, I just got tired of writing "Feat. Sage Francis" on all my tracklists and he probably felt the same. We were collaborating on the creation and distribution of much music and sharing stages and vans on so many tours, that the combination of the two of us just became a thing. The naming was retroactive and truly sort of arbitrary. We're named after a meme for f*ck's sake. Our attitude at the time was "any name is fine, as long as the music is f*#&ing dope" and it's pretty much stayed that way.

SAGE FRANCIS: When I saw the Epic Beard Man video (meme) I felt seen. That's been my energy for ages now and I felt like using that premise as the launch pad for what we were doing as two grown-a$$ men in a "youth-driven" genre. Not that I really believe this genre is "youth-driven," but that's been a narrative that the media hasn't been able to shake for the past... 40 years? Every time someone mentions how it's a dumb name, an angel grows a new pair of ovaries. No sh*t, it's a dumb name, bud... but there's a band called [Bared Naked] Ladies and no one pays attention to the name because they're pretty much the best Rock band of all time. That's how that magic works.

II. Now, is there some sort of legally-binding contract that permits either of you from ever shaving off your beards? If one of you were to shave off your facial hair, what would you, then, call the clean-shaven group?

DOLAN: As stated, neither of us has much invested in the beard thing. We happen to both have 'em and shaved heads. We look alike and get it a lot. Ultimately, it's the beard on the inside, though... or The EPIC. No more beard questions.

FRANCIS: I tried shaving my beard once and Dolan scolded me. He said I wasn't handsome enough to have no beard. It stuck with me. I can feel a rebellion building up in me, though. It's not always about trying to look amazing for the people.


III. How exactly did you go about recruiting and placing This Was Supposed to Be Fun's various guests including Atmosphere emcee Slug, Wu-Tang Clan affiliate Blue Raspberry, Yugen Blakrok, Eligh of Living Legends, Kathleen Stubelek, Worldwide, and Vockah Redu?

DOLAN: One-by-one, as the possibilities or needs of the song dictated. My last solo record involved over 20 collaborators and, I think, this one might have beat it on the production tip. I worked with a lot of the same musicians and engineers from Kill The Wolf (2015) as well new or old friends, who we thought would bring something dope to that specific section of the song they're on. In the case of Blue Raspberry, I just knew I wanted a Blue Raspberry-like vocal for the song, when someone pointed out to me that I could contact THE Blue Raspberry. So, I hollered and she was down, to my surprise!

FRANCIS: I'm never all that interested in having "features" on songs when doing solo projects, but I always felt like EPIC BEARD MEN (EBM) could be a collective of people. I almost wish we had more features for every song, which is weird for me to say. I feel like it worked out perfectly, though with this album. Sometimes, we reach out to people and they're not able to get their verses recorded in time and that can really mess with the vision of a song, if it's intended to have a particular person's voice or style included. Features are risky business, but we gamblers, baby. WE GAMBLERZ. No KENO.


V. How would you say the overall recording processes were similar/dissimilar while creating Season 1 vs. This Was Supposed to Be Fun?

DOLAN: We spent more time doing re-play experiments with live musicians on songs we felt deserved or needed that treatment. Certain songs had samples we couldn't use, but we felt strongly enough to hold 'em back for the album. I'd say the more involved, produced stuff ended up on the LP and the more high-energy live "BANGERS" got front-loaded on the EP, for that reason. We started working on all of them at the same time, though.

VI. What can you, potentially, tell us about your Come to The Sand Dunes Tour opener Vockah Redu?

DOLAN: I met Vockah Redu in 2011, when I put together the Church of Love & Ruin Tours. He was introduced to me by The What Cheer? Brigade on that tour and he blew every one of us away with his performances. I'd never seen Bounce music performed live, though, I'd known about it and been listening from a distance... and after seeing Vockah live, I knew I'd never see Bounce music performed at that level anywhere else again. They made him take an encore after a 30-minute opening set his first time in our city. When we made "Take A Break," we ended up incorporating a hook of his, so I hit him up to tell him about it and ask him to get on the track. He mentioned he was looking to get back out on the road and release a bunch of new music soon and we knew we had to be a part of that.

FRANCIS: Vockah needs to be followed around with cameras. A casting agency hit me up recently asking about maybe doing a reality show and I was like, "do you want a hit show? You need to follow Vockah Redu. I mostly live inside of my head and he lives out of his mind... in a good way." Seriously, though, having him on tour felt like a risky move, as I didn't know him on a personal level. As much as I adore his performances, you never really know if the van chemistry will work or not and that's pretty important when you're sharing such a small space for six weeks; but Vockah and his dancer, Energyza, are constant entertainment mixed with good vibes. Both of them are anomalies to me. Vockah is a Goddamn super-star!


VII. Now, I know both of you rhyme throughout This Was Supposed to Be Fun, but who handles the majority of the production duties for EPIC BEARD MEN? Or is it more of a Jaylib Champion Sound-type scenario wherein you both split rapping/production duties?

DOLAN: I handled the majority of the beat production duties with DS3K, the engineer who I've been working with since House of Bees [Vol.] 2. DS3K mixed the project and together, we oversaw the things needed to make all the songs sonically sit next to each other. We started out with beats from a number of sources and producers. I also, ended up making or adding to a little over half of the beats on the album. I started nerding out pretty hard in the studio during the past three years on this one... just filling in what we saw as the production holes in 30 or so songs we were working on at once. It forced us to get even better at the workflow we'd started getting into on Kill The Wolf, which allowed us to bring in all types of different collaborators, while maintaining a cohesive sound.

FRANCIS: Correct. Mr. Dolan's anal retentiveness over every production element ensured that the finalization of these songs would be dragged past all important deadlines. Personally, I'm down with just rapping over MP3's that I downloaded off of MySpace 10 years ago because I'm a trash human, but, ya know... to each their own. Turns out, his way is better, if you actually care about sonics and overall sound quality. Silly stuff like that! (*fart noise*)

VIII. What can you, potentially, tell us about the creation of your [adult swim] & Toonami-debuted animated music video for "Pistol Dave" co-starring Slug from Atmosphere? What else do you have in store for the This Was Supposed to Be Fun album roll-out?

DOLAN: That song was one of the first to come together for the album, as we were both sure it would be funny and had plenty of material to draw from, in terms of shady tour bus driver memories. Widowmaker sent the original part of the beat that Sage raps over during his verse and then, as soon as it was my turn, I just started hearing these more and more lush ideas... starting with a hook from a 70's crooner female vocal. I wrote the lyrics of Blue Raspberry's hook and recorded a horrible demo of myself singing it and then, started asking around, as to who knew a good female vocalist. Everyone I listened to sounded like SZA for a while, but I wanted a specific sound that I wasn't hearing. I finally realized it was Blue Raspberry's voice I was hearing and when I hit her up, she responded and gave us that hook, no questions asked. Given the subject matter, that still amazes me.

We added violins, live piano, and upright bass for my verse, all of which we tracked in NY with another engineer named Chris Gilroy, who I've known for a lot of years. That was also, where we recorded Steve Okinski playing synths during Slug's verse and made that part of the beat happen. Sage had provided the original sample we built the section around in an early demo, but we made sure it slapped and had a kinda 70's [P*rno] feel during "Dave's" verse. As for having Slug on the track, Sage & I both had that idea at the same time. As soon as I presented him the idea of having Slug rap as "Dave," he said, "I was thinking THE. SAME. EXACT. thing, weirdly enough!"


IX. I recall when Nardwuar The Human Serviette interviewed Sage Francis back in 2010 and Sage was also, featured on The Evaporators' "Hot Dog High" with Xaul Zan & Megan Barnes... but are there currently any plans (to your knowledge) for Nardwuar to speak with EPIC BEARD MEN?

FRANCIS: We won't be making our way into beautiful British Columbia and we purposely skipped SXSW, so the chance of a Nardwuar/EBM interview, at this point, is extremely slim. We are always down for that, though. He's been incredibly nice to us over the years.

DOLAN: Between us, we've got like a trillion shows and road miles, and something like more than 20 releases between us. There's a lot of trivia and musical connections to choose from, and I'd love to see Nardwuar try and make sense of our intertwined and ongoing [discographies]...

X. Assuming that This Was Supposed to Be Fun's proper follow-up is already in-the-works, who might be on each of your "wishlists" of ideal "dream" collaborators to be featured within EPIC BEARD MEN's sophomore album/EP?

DOLAN: It doesn't really work that way. In terms of inviting people onto our songs, it's more like we make a song that we like and then, there's a part of it we aren't sure what to do with... so, you start thinking about all the things that could happen on that part and your mind might start to hear the voice or style of another musician we know. Often, it's another musician who would be more than down to join in and we decided early [on] that the EBM project would be perfect for that, since it was collaborative anyway.

FRANCIS: We definitely don't work with any "wishlists." [With] that said, I feel like Prince Paul's quirky production style would be a perfect match for a full EBM project. I'd love to have him oversee an EP or LP with whatever input he's willing to offer. Full outlaw style, uncleareable samples and all. Let's get arrested, homie! For the art!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

All-around Breakdown: Mark de Clive-Lowe's Track-By-Track Breakdown of Heritage for Ropeadope Records (The Witzard Premiere)


'"I grew up on a mix of Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music, so there’s always all these different sounds in my head. Some sounds can be expressed on conventional instruments, some need machines and I've developed a hybrid set-up to facilitate all of that when I perform. Adding my own cultural story—allowing myself to reflect on and really show my ancestry and roots—feels like I've found the missing piece to my own identity and artistry."

Heritage was recorded live at LA's Blue Whale Jazz club over three nights, as well as one day in a North Hollywood studio. Exactly where the live recording stops and the studio recording starts is all but impossible tell with Mark de Clive-Lowe editing the material to purposely blur that line.

On Heritage, de Clive-Lowe is joined by a cast of world-class musicians: Josh Johnson (Leon Bridges/Esperanza Spalding,) Teodross Avery (Talib Kweli/Mos Def,) Brandon Eugene Owens (Terrace Martin/Robert Glasper,) Brandon Combs (Moses Sumney/Iman Omari,) and Carlos Niño (Build An Ark/Lifeforce Trio)—who all contribute stellar performances in support of de Clive-Lowe's music..."

- Mark de Clive-Lowe (@ropeadope)


I. "The Offering"

"Japan is built on a culture and history of honor and respect. There's a natural reverence to all things—both those from nature and those that are man-made. It is in consideration of these ways of being that "The Offering" opens the album. The theme gets restated as it builds and sets the tone for the whole work—meditative, introspective and readying to journey to a whole other place. When you enter a space with reverence and respect you create an openness to what the experience becomes—this composition creates that for me."


II. "Bushidō 1"

"Literally, "The Way of The Warrior," The Bushidō code is 8 virtues envisioned to be the characteristics of a truly great warrior. Righteousness, courage, compassion, respect, honesty, honor, loyalty, and self-control make up the list and it's easy to see how The Bushidō code can apply to anyone in any walk of life. It's the aspiration to make oneself into a warrior, no matter what it is we do. There are innumerable ways to follow The Bushidō code and it will always result in our own individual path unfolding before us. Bushidō is a vehicle to explore this idea."


III. "Memories of Nanzenji"

"Nanzenji is a 13th Century temple in Kyoto. Part of the temple grounds includes The Tenjuan Gardens—a picturesque setting to wander and soak in the beauty and balance of Japan. Everything there is intentionally designed to be in harmony with its surroundings. Even the most seemingly "natural" parts of the garden have been manicured to emulate nature's own imperfections. When I visited Nanzenji, I felt such a deep connection there—the surrounds put me in an almost meditative state, where the balance of nature and the intentional design of it all let me breathe out and allowed my mind and spirit to be free."


IV. "Mizugaki"

"My mother's family name is Mizugaki and it's a fairly unusual name. I had always been told it meant "Watergate" (the literal translation) but it wasn't until more recently that I found out what it really means; a ​mizugaki​ in ancient folkloric Japan was a natural wall of trees that would surround and protect a mountain area where a deity lived. As times evolved, it became the name of the protective wall or fence surrounding the innermost part of a castle, temple, or shrine. This protective structure would shield the world from what it kept guardianship over—in every case, that thing would be something of immense importance: a god, an emperor, a shrine's most sacred relics. As a composition, it's almost like we're finding our way through that wall, through the trees and discovering what the ​mizugaki h​as been hiding."


V. "Akatombo"

"Literally, translated to "red dragonfly," "Akatombo" is one of the most famous Folk song melodies from all-time in Japan. Even though it was composed as recently as 1927, it's as ubiquitous as "Twinkle, Twinkle, [Little Star]" or "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" are in The West. I know "Akatombo" from my earliest childhood memories with my mother singing it to me. Interpreting it on solo piano makes it all the more personal and gives me an instant connection to growing up with that Japanese influence."


VI. "Niten​-​Ichi"

"'Two Heavens As One" in English, "Niten-Ichi" is inspired by the stories of Miyamoto Musashi—the greatest Samurai warrior ever to live. Born in The 16th Century, Miyamoto was said to have killed his first man at age 13, spent the next 30-plus years undefeated in every duel, and then, retired from killing by the time he was 40, dedicating his life to the arts and writing! Key to his formidable success in battle is that he fought with a dexterous two-sword fighting technique, which added to his invincibility. The two-sword technique was so lethal that it became known as "Two Heaves As One" and as a composition, paints the picture of Miyamoto in full fighting mode."


VII. "Asa no Yume"

"'Morning Dreams" in English, this felt like the perfect way to book-end the album's story. That golden time when you're not asleep, but not quite awake, it's a brand new day and the world is full of infinite possibilities. That's what this entire musical journey is about for me—finding the spaces where I'm in balance with myself and the world around me, to be able to make the most of all the magic that a new day brings."


MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE'S
HERITAGE II
TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE PAST TO THE FUTURE
ALBUM RELEASE CONCERT

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2019
7PM doors / 8PM show
ARATANI THEATRE
BUY TICKETS HERE

Your Old Droog & Edan Join Forces for Episode 1 In KitchenAid'ed WITCH IN THE KITCHEN Series (Sampling ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses")


"My kitchen got more ZZ Top records in it than yours... Link to 5+ minutes of elite rhyming by my brother @yourolddroog in The Bio..." Edan (@edanexists) posted on his Instagram page yesterday afternoon. "Witch In The Kitchen" (Episode 1) is just the latest collaboration from reclusive, yet extremely prolific rapper/producer/DJ Edan and Brooklyn-bred Ukrainian-American emcee Your Old Droog. Edan previously produced/co-produced four tracks on Droog's 2017 major label debut, PACKS for FatBeats. Edan, also, played guitar on the RTNC-produced title track from Your Old Droog & Wiki's 2017 collaborative EP, What Happened To Fire? While the original track was produced by recent Bun B collaborator Statik Selektah, there's video online of Your Old Droog, Wiki & Edan rehearsing "Vigilantes" together before a June 2017 Red Bull Sound Select Presents performance at The Knitting Factory. However, it appears as though "Witch In The Kitchen" was recorded in the same place as said "Vigilantes" rehearsal clip, Edan's apartment, more specifically, his kitchen.


Edan's kitchen/home recording "studio" was previously chronicled within photographer Eilon Paz's coffee-table book, Dust & Grooves: Adventures In Record Collecting, as well as a 2014 Wall Street Journal feature entitled Vinyl's Record Resurgence Fuels New Book. For what appears to be the first in a series of on-going "Witch In The Kitchen" episodes, Droog ferociously rhymes over a live-cut beat Edan lifted directly from ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses," which oddly enough, you can see the record it's from, Degüello, on the shelf right over his shoulder. I'm really diggin' Your Old Droog's shout-outs to Billy Gibbons, Jeremy Piven, Ginger Baker, etc. and the underlying Classic Rock vibes throughout; it, actually, reminds me of Droog's phenomenal Rock-themed 2015 EP, KINISON, and I hope this ushers in a proper full-length release from Edan & Your Old Droog. Edan's latest EP, Humble Pi, recorded with sharp-tongued emcee Homeboy Sandman is now available on Stones Throw Records. While Your Old Droog's latest V Don-produced single, "RST" Feat. DOOM & Mach-Hommy—YES, DROOG ALONGSIDE DOOM & MACH-HOMMY!!!—is now available on streaming platforms, along with a string of post-Looseys loosies.


"That revolutionary concept of having a camera capture what you would already be doing, if there weren't any cameras around.......... Witch In The Kitchen - Pilot Episode

Turntable Virtuosity, Record Collection, Blender: @edanexists

Rhymes, Gas Pedal, Deep Breaths Between Verses, As a Result of Pre-holidays Chain Smoking: @yourolddroog .................................................. Watch the goof in its entirety on the Link In Bio #witchinthekitchen"

- Y.O.D. (yourolddroog)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Safari Al Shares steel tipped dove-produced "Rocco" from Upcoming strata (I Steel of Radiance, I Feel So Action) "Split" with Cold Lunch



Milwaukee-based 91.7 WMSE's Local Lunchbox segment fittingly describes Sahan Jayasuriya as "a Wisconsin native, who has served as drummer for a variety of Milwaukee bands over the last decade. His latest venture is a foray into sample-based beat-making under the name Cold Lunch, where he pulls from a variety of formats and music styles to create new works." Cold Lunch's I Feel So Action "Side" of strata... is a bit more Blues/Jazz-based when compared against steel tipped dove's I Steel of Radiance "Side." Cold Lunch's production work throughout strata... honestly, reminds me a bit of s.al's 2011 Soundcloud loosie, "Moanin'"—or "a throwback vibe to help the ladies and fellas start kickin' the jive"—which expertly samples Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers' 1959 track of the same name. I Feel So Action fittingly ends with a smile-evoking Cold Lunch-produced track, of course, entitled "HOT LUNCH." strata (I Steel of Radiance, I Feel So Action) will reportedly become available within about a month or so on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded digital streaming services. Ahead of milo & ELUCID's upcoming European Tour together as Nostrum Grocers, Safari Al let loose the "Split" album's lead-off steel tipped dove-produced track, "Rocco," accompanied by a simple typewriter-aided music video. s.al is, somehow, already working on his next full-length to follow strata... Blue mage, which will double as an album AND a collection of poetry..... EDITOR'S NOTE: FULL S.AL STRATA (I STEEL OF RADIANCE, I FEEL SO ACTION) FEATURE/REVIEW COMING SOON TO THEWITZARD.COM?!!!??!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

DJ Nu-Mark Speaks On TRDMRK EP with Slimkid3 & Austin Antoine, Drop The Mic, Jurassic 5 & Zodiac Tracks (The Witzard Interview)


DJ Nu-Mark is, likely, best know as being one of the in-house DJ's for critically-acclaimed/widely loved Los Angeles-based Hip-Hop crew Jurassic 5; although, Mark Potsic (affectionately known as "Uncle Nu") is also, a talented producer, turntablist, drummer, multi-instrumentalist, and film composer, in his own right. In addition to Jurassic 5, Nu-Mark has spent time playing with groups 4 Player Co-Op, Blendcrafters with Pomo, TRDMRK with The Pharcyde founding member Slimkid3 & Austin Antoine, Rebels of Rhythm, and Afrika Bambaataa-helmed Zulu Nation. DJ Nu-Mark has either composed music for—both solo and with Jurassic 5—or appeared within a multitude of feature films and documentaries including Coachella: The Movie, Keepintime: A Live Recording, MacGruber, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Ride Along 1 & 2 starring Ice Cube & Kevin Hart, Rock The Bells: The Documentary, and the upcoming Shaft 2019 sequel/re-boot co-starring Samuel L. Jackson & Jessie T. Usher.

Additionally, Uncle Nu has amassed a fine pedigree of recording credits and collaborators over the years, which includes, but is not limited to: Aloe Blacc, Charles Bradley, Chali 2na, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, DOOM, The Lonely Island, Method Man, Money Mark, Nas & Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Guilty Simpson, TiRon & Ayomari, and Dan Ubick. DJ Nu-Mark functions as the founder of his own imprint, Hot Plate Records, serves as the in-house DJ for TBS/TNT celebrity competition series, Drop The Mic, along with his very own live band, The Katz, and produces a monthly astrological-based mix series dubbed Zodiac Tracks. DJ Nu-Mark, Slimkid3, and newly-instated member Austin Antoine recently released their first proper EP together as TRDMRK and Uncle Nu was kind enough to step out from behind the 1's & 2's for long enough to bless us with a comprehensive interview.


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Your Hip-Hop Tour Guide


I. Since releasing 2013's self-titled Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark 2xLP for Delicious Vinyl, when did Austin Antoine come into the fold? How exactly does he fit into the pre-established TRDMRK group dynamic?

When we started to record the new album, which is now an EP, we wanted to bring in other writers and guest vocalist. Both Tre [Slimkid3] & I liked Austin's performance on a song called "Double LieF" by Bizarre Ride. Austin ended up writing and recording half of the TRDMRK album. At one point, I looked at Tre and said, "why don't we just bring him into the group?" It seemed to make sense for us and his energy and attitude is outstanding. He really added a wonderful color to this project.

II. How exactly did you go about recruiting featured emcees Guilty Simpson & Dillon Cooper for TRDMRK's latest self-titled EP?

There's a song on the EP called "Fall In Numbers"—we just kept hearing Guilty's voice over it and we're both big fans of his music and delivery. Dillon was brought to us by K-Natural, who was featured on our first album. K-Nat kept telling us to check his music out. We needed someone with young energy that had an understanding of the "middle school;" Dillon was the perfect fit for "Pick It Up." His spread-out flow balances Austin's rapid-fire delivery with great contrast!


III. I noticed your latest TRDMRK EP comes complete with Main, Acapella & Instrumental versions of each track; are there any immediate plans to host a fan-submitted remix/freestyle contest?

Hadn't really given that much thought, since people tend to remix things on their own these days. I figured, if we gave people the parts, they could do what they like. We did the same thing for our first album and I got a ton of great feedback from consumers thanking us! I decided to repeat the process... feel like it's important to offer that.

IV. Now that TRDMRK's self-titled EP has been let loose upon the world, what else do you currently have in-the-works or nearing completion?

I have eight projects I have to get to; I am the quintessential "idea guy" ... ideas plague me. Can't really say much about them because a lot of them are either halfway done or haven't been started, but there's a lot to come at the end of 2019 and 2020, in the way of mixes and original production. One thing that I'm almost done with is a producer drum pack that I'll be selling on my site and, hopefully, though Splice & Serato, as well. I get a lot of producers asking me about my drum sounds, so I'll be putting together three drum packs for producers very soon!


V. How did you initially the gig as Drop The Mic's in-house DJ with The Katz? What sort of role did the show have in helping you get co-host Method Man on your recent 7-inch single, "Zodiac Killah?"

I was contacted by one of the producers of the show, Jensen Karp. Jensen enjoyed my production from past releases, as well as my Zodiac Tracks series and thought I'd be a good fit for the show. He wasn't exactly sure, if I could do the show until I was invited to do my all-Kids Toy Set at [Seth Rogen's] Charity for Hilarity to help Alzheimer's patients. After James Corden saw my set, he asked Jensen if I could work well on-camera. Next thing I knew, my agent told me they wanted to talk to me about Drop The Mic.

I ended up producing the theme song for the show, which was a really big deal for me... I've never landed a theme song! After being on-set for a while and getting to know Method Man, I told him I was doing an all-Zodiac DJ mix series on my socials. I told him I really needed an original song to push the series, as I [planned to] release it to the public in-full on the USB. I placed some headphones on him, while we were on set and within two seconds of hearing the the beat, he said, "Oh yeah, Nu, I'm f**kin' wit' this!" He came to my studio and knocked it out in one take. One of most memorable sessions in my career.

VI. Who would be part of your dream head-to-head "emcee" battle no one would expect to see on Drop The Mic and why?

Would be cool to see Zack Galifinakis battle Eric Andre! My fav. episode was The Muppets battling each other! Thanks for having me!


VII. Are there currently any plans to properly re-release your annual series of astrological-themed Zodiac Tracks digitally or on vinyl?

Oh yeah, my Zodiac Tracks series is available on USB and it contains all 25 mixes, every credit, and my song with Method Man called "Zodiac Killah." This is [currently] available on my site. I'm on my sixth press of the USB and this will be the last run! It went really well; [this] was a very rewarding and challenging project. Very happy to give back to all the inspirational artists in an all-astrological vinyl mix series for two years straight.

VIII. Since Jurassic 5 re-formed at Coachella 2013, you've released "Customer Service" & Heavy D-produced "The Way We Do It," but are there currently any plans for a proper follow-up to 2006's Feedback?

No... but, never say never.


IX. Aside from your various solo projects and TRDMRK, do you have any immediate plans to sign other artists to your label, Hot Plate Records?

I'm still on-the-fence about signing other artists at this time. Hot Plate is really set up to get my personal releases out there. Historically, it's been so tough to get all my ideas to the public because I've had to wait on a label or distributor. I got a good rhythm now with my release schedule. I do, however, plan to release a record with 6-8 different bands and producers in, hopefully, late Summer. I can't say exactly the concept, at this time, but I'm really excited about it. Flying to Germany at the end of May to complete the second song!

X. What can you currently tell us about your involvement in Tim Story's upcoming 2019 Shaft sequel/re-boot starring Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, and "First Generation" Shaft Richard Roundtree?

Yeah, I've worked with Tim a few times now. We worked on Ride Along 1 & 2 with Ice Cube & Kevin Hart. Todd Bozung was the Music Editor for those films and the upcoming Shaft re-boot. Todd has been kind enough to bring me in as a Music Producer on these films and helping out with some of the beats behind-the-scenes. For the upcoming Shaft re-boot, I did a remix of James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thang"—came out HARD! Unfortunately, Todd recently passed from cancer. He was one of the kindest people I've engaged with professionally. He reached out to me from hearing my past production and since then, I've slowly worked my way into more motion picture work! I owe a lot to Todd and [how he] really trusted me in a new territory.


Monday, April 15, 2019

DJ Ragz & Unown Unveil Second Mouth-watering Course In Food-themed Beat Tape Series with BURGERS & SLIDERS (Common Good Records)



Coast-to-coast DJ super-duo Brian Ragonese & Richard Patterson have returned with their second food-themed collaborative project as DJ Ragz & Unown. Burgers & Sliders is, of course, the second all-you-can-eat instrumental follow-up to Unown & Ragz's 2018 Common Good Records release, Pasta & Wings. "It's a take on the LA burger scene capturing a moment of time from the golden era of G-Funk Rap. We had a blast recording this project!" DJ Ragz writes on his YouTube channel, along with the juicy video for "Plump At All The Time$." Burgers & Sliders finds the duo back in their respective kitchens, with Unown handling the beat duties on his coveted MPC and DJ Ragz meticulously cutting up the meat of these beats on his turntables. DJ Ragz is a world-renown event DJ, instructor, seasoned studio musician, and producer in his own right, who was born and raised Roseville, California and currently resides in the Northern Virginia/DC area. Unown, on the other hand, is an esteemed producer, engineer, and globe-trotting DJ travelling from city-to-city as part of Oddissee's in-house/live band, GOOD COMPNY. Both DJ Ragz & unOwn are, actually, part of DC/VA/NC-based Hip-Hop crew Jazz Addixx/Soul Expansion, along with Chicago-bred MC MUDD. 🍔


Essentially, building off similar themes tasted... I mean, tested out on Pasta & Wings, Unown & DJ Ragz fill each of their 12 courses on Burgers & Sliders with plenty of 90's West Coast G-Funk/Boom-Bap and juicy tidbits concerning their favorite cuts of beef. Each 6-course side is labelled either "BURGERS" or "SLIDERS" and driving the fast food-evoking theme home, each limited edition Burgers & Sliders cassette or CD comes packaged in "H A M B U R G E R" or "C H E E S E B U R G E R" foil wrappers, strangely similar to what you might find at your favorite road-side burger joint. While they're almost completely SOLD OUT of beef-based packages at Los Angeles imprint, Common Good Records, DJ Ragz & Unown's Burgers & Sliders cassettes are currently available from FatBeats in The States and will become available at HHV across Europe starting Friday, April, 26, 2019, while supplies last. Get 'em while you can because, rest assured, once they're gone, they're gone for good; however, unlimited quantities of Burgers & Sliders are available digitally at Common Good Records for less than the price of a Burger, Drink & Fry Combo from Five Guys! While it probably isn't exactly vegan-friendly, I would strongly recommend Burgers & Sliders to anyone who enjoys burgers, sliders, dusty Hip-Hop, and mouth-watering beats—it's even kid-friendly for your pint-sized Hip-Hop heads!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Run It Back: Ian MacKaye & Al Jourgensen's Short-lived 1987-88 Industrial/Hardcore Punk Side-project Pailhead (Wax Trax! Records)


Run It Back is one of the more infrequently published "recurring" columns here at The Witzard: honestly, I don't even know when we published one of these last... but what I do know is that the column title is inspired by a Nottz Raw-produced Asher Roth track of the same name, which expertly samples The Misfits' "Return of The Fly." Minor Threat were East Coast Straight-Edge Hardcore/Punk contemporaries of both The Misfits and Glenn Danzig's next band, Horror Punk pioneers Samhain, which even briefly featured Minor Threat guitarist Lyle Preslar. For me, personally, Black Flag, Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Misfits, and Samhain were my bread and butter while exploring Hardcore/Punk as an angsty 15/16-year-old during the age of Napster and P2P sites. Now, I know Minor Threat/Fugazi frontman and DC-based Dischord Records co-founder Ian MacKaye—like most well-traveled Punk/Hardcore musicians—has always been part of a slew of short-lived bands, such as Teen Idles, The Evens, Embrace, Egg Hunt, Skewbald/Grand Union, Pailhead, and most recently, an as-yet-unnamed band with his wife/drummer Amy Farin and one-time Fugazi bassist Joe Lally. However, I had never heard of one of MacKaye's lesser-known groups, Pailhead, which I, actually, just heard about for the first time yesterday.


Pailhead was only active for about a year from 1987-88 and consisted of Ian MacKaye, along with Ministry's Al Jourgensen AKA Hype Luxa, Paul Barker AKA Hermes Pan, and Bill Rieflin, as well as Naked Raygun drummer Eric Spicer. For Pailhead, Al Jourgensen explored a unique blend of Industrial & Hardcore/Punk, which he would later, explore further on a similarly-minded Ministry side-project, LARD, with former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra. Al Jourgensen told Pitchfork in 2008 that Ian MacKaye once described the Pailhead dynamic as, "we're going to the same place, except, you're taking a taxi and I'm driving my own car." Pailhead's cumulative releases include 1987's "I Will Refuse" 7/12-inch B/W "No Bunny," 1988's "Don't Stand In Line" 7-inch B/W "Ballad," "Man Should Surrender" 7-inch B/W "Anthem," and an EP entitled Trait released on 12-inch, cassette, and later, a 6-track 1993 CD collecting all of the aforementioned releases. Pailhead's various releases were, also, re-collected on two different Ministry/side-project comps. TRAX! BOX & SIDE TRAX! in 2014-16 on Chicago-based mail-order label Wax Trax!/TVT Records. Bands such as Soulfly, Spinnerette, and Unwritten Law have all covered "I Will Refuse" and Pailhead's music has since been featured within everything from Cold Case to Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX.