Sunday, March 29, 2015

Stones Throw & @munguni Present: The Lions in the dungeon - "When It Rains" (Unplugged Video)

"THE LIONS "In The Dungeon" unplugged performing "WHEN IT RAINS" off the brand new record Soul Riot on Stones Throw Records. Thanks a ton to Ross Harris and Stanley "Babylon Burning" Gonzales for direction and sound," The Lions exuberantly wrote on their Facebook page Thursday afternoon upon the release of their first unofficial video release behind third album, Soul Riot. "Our first attempt at a proper video for "When It Rains" didn't turn out how we'd hoped, but we are actively searching for directors and have a couple in mind... We did do an unplugged performance that came out great though," Lions ringleader Dan Ubick said in a brief follow-up email preceding our recent second interview conducted for this very site, The Witzard; alluding to a filmed and since scrapped proper "When It Rains" video treatment, as well as what's seemingly amounted to the just-released The Lions in the dungeon unplugged footage. I had initially contacted Ubick after spotting Stones Throw-affiliated Japanese artist @munguni's 2-piece "The Lions in dungeon" rudimentary artwork, somehow amazingly drawn and shared in a matter of mere hours after Stones Throw initially uploaded it.

The Lions then proceeded to exclaim, "Wow! Check out this great illustration artist Munguni [at] Instagram was inspired to draw after the release of "The Lions In The Dungeon" video aired yesterday!!" on Facebook, along with a very special shout-out: "Thanks to Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz for the link!" But that's enough of my mindless gloating ha, and back to the "When It Rains" unplugged video treatment... in lieu of a flashy expensive proper video, director Ross Harris and fragmented Lions group members Black Shakespeare, Malik Moore, Dan Ubick, Davey Chegwidden, Dave Wilder, Deston Berry, and Alex Désert instead opted for a stripped-down, bare bones performance of "When It Rains" filmed in what appears to be one of Stones Throw's back storage rooms. The Lions phenomenal Jamaican sun-drenched New School Reggae third album, Soul Riot is currently available in CD and mp3 download formats at Stones Throw (sadly, 2LP vinyl is out-of-stock for the time being), but in any format, the album is highly recommended for the upcoming onslaught of Summery beach BBQ's, pool-side loungin', and inherent all-around good times!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ouzo Bazooka Infuses Mediterranean & Western Influences on Israeli Garage-Rock Single, "Children of The Revolution" (T. Rex)

"Kinrot describes ["Children of The Revolution"] as an interpretation of the emerging social movement in the middle-eastern countries: "From the social justice protests that happened in Israel during 2011 (and to this day), and all the manifestations that are changing the Middle East surface, emerged a strong connection to this song and its relevancy for today's reality," reads a pull-quote lifted from Ouzo Bazooka frontman Uri Brauner Kinrot (formerly UBK). Initially billed as "Mediterranean garage rock / Israel," I've been in touch with UBK and his social media team since about November 2013, after they saw an old featurette I did on White Denim; at this point in time, I've written about roughly 3-5 UBK/Ouzo Bazooka videos and I would best liken their overall sound to a Mediterranean-influenced brand of Queens of The Stone Age's Desert Acid-Rock infused with The Black Keys' radio-friendly Blues-Rock Americana. "The idea behind the cover of "Children of The Revolution" was to give it a Mediterranean interpretation, reflected by my long-time pursuit of integration between Mediterranean and Western music genres, [infused] with a social and cultural [sense] of rebellion," Kinrot continued.

Ouzo Bazooka have essentially re-appropriated and modernized T. Rex's 1972 Glam-Rock non-album single, "Children of The Revolution" for inclusion on their Israel/Japan-released self-titled album, which it seems, has yet to receive a proper state-side release. Director Natasha Boguslavsky's underlying video concept was "to bring life to a [utopian] universe, colorful and full of kitsch, inspired from motives found in the comic books, by multiplying images taken from 1920's flyers reminiscing Crony capitalism, tigers, and other related images;" a press release additionally notes that it was solely created using antiquated techniques like Xerox without use of any special effects whatsoever. Ouzo Bazooka's complete 13-track album, which includes previously released singles "I Got You," "Desert Love," "Southern Winds," and of course, "Children of The Revolution" is currently available for full-length streaming on Soundcloud. While it isn't yet commercially available here in the states, Ouzo Bazooka is however available for download on their Bandcamp page for 30 ILS or roughly $7.56 USD. Slice of Wax Records have in the meantime, been preparing a little teaser for record-savvy collectors world-wide in the form of three limited edition white, pink, and marble swirl double A-side 7-inches containing "Homesick/Southern Winds," which will go live on their site March 29th.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Action Bronson & Earl Sweatshirt Team Up for Previously Unreleased Alchemist-produced Bonus Track, "WARLORD LEATHER" * (Soundcloud Bootleg)

Needless to say, it's been one Hell of a week for Underground Hip-Hop; Action Bronson, Earl Sweatshirt, and Kendrick Lamar all dropped staggering, critically-acclaimed new albums this past Monday, March 23rd (I'm unsure why they strayed away from the typical Tuesday release day). I went out and bought hard CD copies of Bronson and Lamar's albums, but I wasn't able to find I Don't Like Sh*t, I Don't Go Outside at out local Best Buy, and I've really only had a chance to delve into Action Bronson's gloriously frantic "debut," MR. WONDERFUL. While Bronson and Lamar's TDE crew seem to have a mutual admiration for each other, the two fledgling rappers have never recorded any material together, at least not to my knowledge. But Bronson has in fact recorded a few non-album tracks with Odd Future and their reigning adolescent prince, Earl Sweatshirt; most notably, Domo Genesis' pro wrestling-referencing Alchemist-produced mixtape track, "Elimination Chamber" (2012). However, in honor of their tandem just-released full-lengths, The Alchemist decided to sporadically liberate a previously unreleased Action Bronson & Earl Sweatshirt collaboration of unknown origins, "WARLORD LEATHER."

Alan The Chemist
's attached Soundcloud "single" artwork features a screen-grabbed frame from Swedish Indie Rockers Peter Bjorn & John's triumphant mega-mohawked Asian biker gang-filled "Nothing to Worry About" video, which oddly enough, Bronson previously rapped on for a Party Supplies-produced remix - ha! "The glorious bastard is back / in that hoodie like a vein that collapsed cause it's black," Earl Sweatshirt ferociously raps on "WARLORD LEATHER"'s introductory verse. "I'm like Swayze mixed with Sajak, in a straight jacket... play the guitar with my teeth (yeyeyeye-ya)," Action Bronson swiftly rhymes in his verse, as he effortlessly compares himself to Patrick Swayze, Pat Sajak, and Jimi Hendrix and that's just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. It's a damn shame "WARLORD LEATHER" wasn't included on either MR. WONDERFUL or I Don't Like Sh*t, I Don't Go Outside, but I guess we can just consider it an appended bonus track of sorts. Although, it seems as though The Alchemist has a whole digital vault full of Bronson/Sweatshirt tracks, including one wherein Scott "Mad Skillz" Caan of Entourage and Hawaii Five-0 fame supposedly "killed" [read: head-scratchingly out-raps] Bronson. So, stay tuned for further scientific experiments in lyrical wordplay from Alchemist's vault, my fellow Hip-Hop heads!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Action Bronson, Chance The Rapper & Big Body Bes Re-enact Scenes from Eddie Murphy's Coming to America for "Baby Blue" (VICE Records)

Although he's been effectively dominating the mixtape scene with fully fleshed out "street albums" like Blue Chips 1-2, Dr. Lecter, Well Done, Rare Chandeliers, and Bon Appetit... Bitch since about 2008, Action Bronson has finally gotten around to liberating his long-rumored major label "debut," MR. WONDERFUL, which came out nation-wide Monday. Ahead of his 13-track album, VICE Records let loose a zany, Tom Gould-directed Spın̈al Tap-esque mock-umentary, which portrayed Bronson something to the effect of "The Great Leader," Kim Jong-Un; coinciding with yesterday's multi-formatted MR. WONDERFUL roll-out, Action Bronson partnered with the good people at the YouTube Music Awards to present the video for his Chance The Rapper-assisted Mark Ronson-produced track, "Baby Blue." It's just one of two Dap-Kings-indebted Ronson-produced tracks included within the album, the second of which showcases a Jazz-Rock sample lifted from Billy Joel's "Zanzibar" (1978) that was only cleared after Bronson & Ronson penned a gracious hand-written addressed letter to Mr. Joel himself.

"This is the triumphant ending to ["Thug Love Story 2017 The Musical"]. This is me saying, 'F*ck you, you can't f*ck with me. I'm moving on to bigger and better things. You broke my heart, this and that, it's time to move on. I'ma show you through this beautiful music and horn presentation,'" Action Bronson lamented to Complex during a recent all-inclusive track-by-track liner notes piece. Bronson and director "Lil Chris" Robinson teamed up to create a wonderfully on-point, albeit painfully short re-creation of Eddie Murphy's timeless 1988 blockbuster, Coming to America; "You can find Bronson as virtually the full gamut of characters from the sh*t-talking barbers to your friendly (but well-equipped) fast-food worker to the leader of White Chocolate and beyond," as okayplayer fittingly describes it. While he doesn't appear to play any form of Coming to America-related character, Chance The Rapper is honestly, one of the most enjoyable parts of "Baby Blue" — frantically rapping: "I hope you get a paper cut on your tongue from a razor in a paper cup... I hope you never get off Fridays and you work at a Friday's that's always busy on Fridays." And if that still isn't enough Bronson for you, he's teamed up with super-fan, world-renown chef, and TV personality Mario Batali for part one of a brand new F*ck, That's Delicious-presented mini-series in which he'll "collaborate with the best chefs in the world to create food fit for MR. WONDERFUL."

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's About Time: Nile Rodgers Re-works Sister Sledge Out-take "I'll Be There" for First CHIC Album In 23 Years (Warner Bros.)

"It's still hard to believe I found an out-take [with] my original band @CHICorg #IllBeThere," @nilerodgers exuberantly Tweeted late Saturday night; Rodgers, who's essentially the sole founding member of Disco-Funk originators, Chic (now, somewhat confusingly billed as "CHIC featuring Nile Rodgers"), has been pain-stakingly compiling a collection of recently unearthed 1970-80's era Chic tracks along with contemporary producers like Avicii, David Guetta, and The Martinez Brothers. Chic's newly-surfaced material, tentatively titled It's About Time, seems to have been oddly enough reverse "influenced" by modern-day Disco-Funk acts like Chromeo, Dâm-Funk, Tuxedo, Mark Ronson & The Dap-Kings, and even quite ironically, buddies Daft Punk & Pharrell, who were all very likely initially influenced by Chic's genre-shaping output in the first place. "["I'll Be There"] is a moving concept for me about decisions we make in life. We've tried to capture all the nuances in the full-length video and still keep it fun," Nile Rodgers wrote in a #WorldPremiere-accompanied Facebook post/press release.

"Karlie Kloss connects to the past and present. She sees the original group (who plays this track) on Soul Train. She visualizes the past, looking at old school vinyl - then gets dressed and goes out to a current party to meet up with Stephen Galloway and the current Chic line-up happens to be playing live," Rodgers continued. "I'll Be There" is in fact, a re-worked out-take from Sister Sledge's Love Somebody Today album (1980), which Nile Rodgers and since deceased band co-founder, and the track's primary source of influence, Bernard Edwards produced together. It's unclear as to exactly when It's About Time will see a world-wide release, but Chic's first album in 23 years appears to be rapidly nearing an impending release; although, a limited edition "I'll Be There" 12-inch picture disc backed with "Back In The Old School" is currently available for pre-order from the Warner Music Store and is expected to start shipping around April 14th.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Will Ferrell Opens for BOOTS on The Tonight Show, Preceeding "I Run Roulette" Performance (Canvasback/Atlantic Records)

BOOTS is just about the only artist I can think of who's single-handedly worked with Beyoncé, modern day Hip-Hop heavy-weights Run The Jewels, and thinly-veiled Australian songstress Sia, yet has somehow still managed to draw comparisons to Acid-Rockers Queens of The Stone Age; a comparison which @bootsonboots quickly refuted in a seemingly since deleted Tweet, instead likening himself to "future Hendrix/[Black] Sabbath." Late Wednesday night into Thursday morning, BOOTS played what could quite arguably be billed as his biggest "show" to date — one broadcast to hundreds of thousands of fans scattered across the United States and Canada. Jordan Asher took the Tonight Show stage after "openers" Will Ferrell Little Debbie and Chelsea Peretti to perform a riveting rendition of his latest Motorcycle Jesus EP single, "I Run Roulette."

Asher was simply flanked by two righteously pummeling drummers backed by a barrage of strobe, summer festival-esque lights. BOOTS' all too brief Fallon performance might just be a glimpse into his long-awaited "solo" stage set-up, the first of which have just recently been announced: June 17-18th in Los Angeles and July 16th at New York's own Bowery Ballroom. "I Run Roulette" appears within BOOTS' 5-track Motorcycle Jesus EP, the companion to his self-produced short film of the same name, ahead of his forthcoming full-length promised to likely be released later this year on Canvasback/Atlantic Records. Jordan Asher has supposedly recorded two additional "crazy futuristic" albums with rapidly rising alternative acts, FKA Twigs and Autolux, as well as compiling beats for inclusion on Killer Mike & El-P's charity re-MEOWix album, Meow The Jewels.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Now-Again Records' Eothen "Egon" Alapatt Waxes About Everything from Unreleased J Dilla to a "very serious project" with Paternoster (The Witzard Interview)

Following an initial batch of emailed conversations around Thanksgiving, former Stones Throw General Manager and Now-Again Records founder Eothen "Egon" Alapatt and I decided to reconvene after the holidays to conduct an all-inclusive interview for this very site, The Witzard; and now, a few months later, it has finally come to fruition. Egon worked closely with J Dilla during his final years and shacked up at the infamous Stones Throw home/studio with Madlib, MF DOOM, Jeff Jank, and Peanut Butter Wolf during the making of MADVILLAINY. Available here in its complete unedited long-form, out full emailed conversation touches on Alapatt's tenure at Stones Throw, Dilla's unreleased food-themed beat CD's, the incomplete "MADVILLAINY 2" sessions, Madlib & Yasiin Bey (Mos Def)'s rumored "Zamrock" project, Biz Markie's notorious record fibbs, and his independent publishing house, Sinecure Books. Feel free to read and repeatedly enjoy our transcribed journey down the record-diggin' wormhole down below!
(1) What kind of information are you ultimately able to reveal, if any, concerning the fate(s) of J Dilla's supposed Donuts quasi-sequel "The Pizza Man," inner-circle "Munchkins" beat-tape, and very recently teased "Pay Jay" (MCA album)?

Donuts was ultimately a compilation of sorts, comprised of a series of beat CD's that Dilla had made in LA and had given out amongst the crew, and some others that he wanted to work with. Those CD's had names like "Dil Cosby," "Dil Withers," "Donuts," and "Pizza Man." But he never had plans on anything beyond Donuts, so far as I know. None of us ever talked about it with him, at least that I remember. You have to understand, Donuts was just to be a quick weigh-station of a project – it wasn't meant to be this thing that it turned out to be, though all of us involved were really taken [aback] by how great it was, even in its earliest stages.

Now the vocal album – that is something that I know he had a desire to see out, as he did Ruff Draft and, oddly enough, an album he'd made of noodling improvised keyboard lines over drum breaks (one of those made it to The Shining album). The vocal album – "The Diary" [Pay Jay], as we're calling it – is nearly done and should be out later this year.

(2) Would you mind sharing with our fellow readers and crate-diggers out there what sort of releases Now-Again Records has lined up for the remainder of 2015?

We just announced our Record Store Day release of Amanaz's Africa, and following that, we've our anthology/book of Southern Soul-Funk guitarist/singer/songwriter Richard Marks Never Satisfied, a 12" EP with Kenny Dope's remixes of Miami-cruise-ship-disco-band Pazazz's two tracks, an anthology covering schizophrenic LA funk/soul ensemble 4th Coming's complete works, a two-part anthology/book on the Nigerian Rock scene that arose after the Biafran Civil War Wake Up You, a "library" album by Karl Hector & The Malcouns, The Heliocentrics second Quatermass Sessions EP, the Zamrock band Peace's Black Power album, Seven Inch Sureshots Round Two, and the start of Now-Again Reserve, which is a high-quality subscription service. There are other records floating around, but those I'm sure of.

(3) What are the typical processes like that go into discovering, clearing, and ultimately releasing the label's standard long-lost "diamond in the ruff"-style LP's?

The process varies, as you might guess, but it always starts in the same way: I hear something that sounds interesting, that not that many people know about, that strikes a chord in me and I think might strike a chord in others. The clearance process can be convoluted, but, in most cases, I try to work with musicians that own their own masters and control their own publishing, and I try to convince them 1.) of my earnest intentions, 2.) to manage their expectations, 3.) to feel proud in what they accomplished and hopeful that it might resonate when presented again, in a different time, in a different way than they'd expected, and 4.) that I'm the right guy for the job. The release of the music in contemplation might take some time, as I then – amongst all of the other jobs I have, and my other responsibilities, most importantly to my family – have to find a line that I can draw between what they achieved and what I would have hoped they would have achieved and try to make that connection happen decades after their music was lost to time. It sounds dry, but it isn't – I start with exciting music that I'd like to hear over, and over again and the story usually comes out of repeated listens, many questions, and enthusiastic artists.

(4) I recently watched Stones Throw’s fantastic Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton documentary and I was wondering, what might you consider some of your fondest memories from your time spent as Stones Throw’s general manager (2000-11)?

Well, I've never watched that documentary, and did all that I could to avoid being a part of it, for reasons that are too detailed to go into in this space, but my fondest memories of being a part of Stones Throw were in the earliest days, from around 2000 until 2002, when we – Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib, Jeff Jank, and I – were just trying to become something, before ego and wounded psyches ruined what could have been something far greater than it has turned out to be. I had great moments throughout my tenure there, surely, but by around 2005 it was obvious to me that, though it was successful, and from a public perspective, looked upon as a family (an approach, I'm guessing, that the documentary trades on, based on what I've read about it), the internal workings were so screwy and destructive that I was probably going to end up away from it. I ended up sticking around a lot longer than I thought I would have been able to, honestly.

(5) Do you have any details concerning the status of Madlib & Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def)'s rumored collaborative Zamrock-inspired LP, which was initially teased a couple years ago?

I, actually, just heard from Yasiin and he said he had Zamrock on the mind. He's the real deal, and that project is a great idea. It's just a geographic thing now – those two are separated by continents and oceans and I think they have to be in the same place to get that done.

(6) I'm sure you get this one a lot, too; but do you, or anyone for that matter, have any sort of status updates on DOOM & Madlib/Ghostface Killah’s long-rumored "MADVILLAINY 2" and "GHOSTDOOM" projects?

I can't talk at all about the Ghostface/DOOM collaboration as I'm not involved in it, but I can say that the only "MADVILLAINY 2" songs recorded post "Monkey Suite," to my knowledge, were the ones during my time at Stones Throw. Working with a strategy that [The Mouse & The Mask producer] Danger Mouse suggested to me, I was able to get DOOM back to LA for around 8 months, off and on, and was able to get around 8 to 10 tracks made, some of which were complete, some of which were in various stages of completion.

(7) I recently emailed you about a couple different pressings of Stones Throw’s 2003-released Paul's Boutique-era Beastie Boys Remixes EP... I'm curious to know what the story behind its creation might have been?

That was when we were making white labels as promotional ventures – the first we made, which kick-started the Jaylib album (for the record, I wanted to put that song on there – I've heard it said otherwise, but that's not true,) was made because [Peanut Butter] Wolf wanted some songs on wax to use in a mix for some CD he was making. The Beastie Boys EP just made sense as Wolf, Madlib and I (with Jon Doe) all had had remixes on their Criterion [Collection] DVD and we could pull the audio from the DVD and match them with our instrumentals. I guess, that was more about promoting Stones Throw – back then, the Beastie Boys were a current, big deal. I guess we were trying to associate ourselves with something that people thought was much bigger than us. Well, not Madlib. He couldn't care less, if his music was on that thing. But I really wanted to put [out] that instrumental for the one part of his remix, so I could have it on wax.

(8) Following the holidays, I had the opportunity to interview super-producer and guitarist Dan Ubick of The Lions, Connie Price & The Keystones, and formerly Breakestra. Soon after publishing our completed interview, I scored a copy of "Get Thy Bearings" 45 from Discogs (credited to The Sand Dollars feat. Chris Manak). What can you tell me about its recording/creation and release?

That's a simple one: Wolf always liked crooning, and he and I had this running joke about this story that Biz Markie told him about having a 45 of Donovan's "Get Thy Bearings" with an instrumental on the flip side (a total lie, of course, but everyone who knows Biz knows he's a big record fibber). I said, "why don't we just make one?" And, since it was my own label, I could.

(9) Would you care to further detail some of your personal favorite or most cherished crate-diggin' finds of 2014 (many of which are chronicled and shared on Instagram)?

2014 was a big one for me as I scored a copy of Paternoster, one of my favorite albums of all time. It kick-started my desire to find the band again and Stephan Szillus, a German journalist and music nut, who saw the post, very generously stepped up and said, "I’ll help you find them." Well, he did, and I was able to talk to Franz Wippel, the band's founder, and start work on a very serious project that will properly archive their work and tell their story with Stephan, Franz and Tom Weisser, the bass player Heimo Weisser's son. That's really a dream come true for me.

(10) Now-Again just recently released a Heliocentrics-backed Melvin Van Peebles album, The Last Transmission; but what ever ended up happening to Madlib & Van Peebles' long-rumored Jaylib-era collaborative album?

That turned into this album [The Last Transmission]. Basically, Melvin gave Madlib acapellas to a very long album, the only song I remember from which was an involved song called "The Bowel Movement Suite," Madlib couldn't find a way to make the collaboration work, and I said to myself "it would be a shame to let this relationship peter out." So, I tried kick-starting a third Quasimoto album by transferring all of Melvin's multi-track reels – no luck... Then, in talking with The Heliocentrics about the process, they said, "well, sh*t, we'd love to do something with him." So, on one of my trips to New York to work on the Aloe Blacc Good Things album, I recorded some vocals with Madlib over a long song of theirs that ended up being a part of their Multau album – and, six years later, they pieced that recording together into this recently released album.

(11) Do you plan to continue to sign and release material from "new artists" like Freddie Gibbs and Fabiano do Nascimento? Would you care to briefly detail Nascimento's forthcoming Danca dos Tempos album, as well?

Well, with Madlib Invazion, the label Madlib and I do, we'll always do new music – the Freddie Gibbs album is just one example of the kind of album we issue, it just happens to be our most successful. At Now-Again, the success rate for new artist signings is less - I just focus on new artists I can either license their own recorded music, or cheaply fund recordings on bands or musicians I like. It's really hard to break a new artist, and very expensive, compared to re-issues. So, I can't afford to do many. But with people like Fabiano [do Nascimento], The Heliocentrics, Jan Weissenfeldt, Chop, etc., I really don't have a choice: their music is just too good. It has to come out and it has to be presented right.

(12) Although Madlib released 13 marathon albums/mixtapes between 2010-12, he's remained relatively silent since (aside from his Freddie Gibbs-related projects). What exactly has Madlib been up to since the onslaught of The Madlib Medicine Show... any "new" releases planned for the not-so-distant future?

We've been working on a series of ideas – none yet "really" ready to mention – but anyone who knows Madlib knows he never really stops working, he just goes through phases where he calibrates one aspect of his personality, while letting another few idle.

(13) Would you care to talk a little bit about you independent publishing house, Sincure Books, founded with Johan Kugelberg for those not "in the loop?" What sort of projects do you guys have in the pipeline for the remainder of 2015?

As to Sinecure, it's really an outcropping of everything that I love – and Johan loves too: music, culture, potentially lost stories about great moments in America's latter half of the 20th Century. Our fifth book will center around Buddy Esq., "king of the Hip-Hop flyer." Hopefully later this year.

(14) Your Now-Again bio notes that "2001's The Funky 16 Corners inspired [you] to found [your] own label [whose] original mission was to focus on similar reissues of regional American Funk and Soul;" What aspects of assembling that fateful compilation do you really think compelled you to branch out and form your own re-issue label imprint?

Well, it was a big success, as far as re-issues of its type go. It made Stones Throw a bunch of bread, and helped really break us into film and TV licensing, which became quite lucrative for the company in its heyday. And Michael McFaddin, the co-founder of Ubiquity Records (with his ex-wife, Jody), approached me about taking over their Luv & Haight imprint – I'd done some work with them while I was in college. While the idea was tempting, I didn't want to leave Stones Throw as we were in the midst of something great in 2001 – though I couldn't really put my finger on it, I knew that working with Madlib was my personal answer, and I wanted to stick around til I could figure out how to really help get his music where he wanted it to be... So, I approached Wolf, told him of what Michael and Jody had proposed and, though he said I should take the gig, I told him that my loyalties were at Stones Throw, but that I wanted an outlet. So, he begrudgingly, but generously, let me start Now-Again. Regardless of what's happened between us in the intervening years, and while I really have no idea why he said yes to my insisting on my own label, I'm very grateful to him for that.

Meyhem Lauren & Action Bronson's "100 MPH" Plays Out Like an Extended F*ck, That's Delicious Bloopers Reel (Thrice Great Records)

Meyhem Lauren & Action Bronson, effectively 1/2 of defunct New York-based rap posse The Outdoorsmen (along with AG da Coroner & Jay Steele) have re-teamed for "100 MPH" from Lauren's commercial "debut," Silk Pyramids. Despite the fact that Laurenovich's entirely Buckwild-produced album was initially unleashed nearly a year ago, last May, Thrice Great Records has finally gotten around to releasing a proper video treatment for "100 MPH." Lauren's own self-directed clip plays out in a similar fashion to a colorfully tasteful mini-episode of Bronson's widely-applauded F*ck, That's Delicious web series; it's right in line with your typical Hip-Hop video bravado — fancy tricked-out cars, duffel bags full of money, flashy expensive-looking clothes, etc... until America's #1 Rap Singer, Action Bronson enters: seemingly doing push-ups alongside a glistening low-rider. Lest we forget, nothing says "Hip-Hop" quite like grilled succulent lobsters and pig heads. Meyhem Lauren is confirmed to make a sharp-tongued appearance or two on Action Bronson's long-awaited major label "debut," MR. WONDERFUL, available for purchase on VICE Records this upcoming March 23-24th.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One 'Duke It Out' at The New Amsterdam Vodka Tennis Classic to Become "Number One" (Tuxedo)

Not trying to brag here whatsoever, but I've been on the Mayer Hawthorne New-Wop "bandwagon" since day one; I can remember seeing him on what I believe was his first tour behind A Strange Arrangement (2009) at First Unitarian Church in South Philly. Mayer Hawthorne & The County (which then, still included Topher Mohr) essentially played a church basement to a room full of colorfully diverse concert-goers: Hip-Hop heads, "preppy" kids decked out in suits and ties — much like my buddy Brad and I, Indie Rock hipsters, and a handful of displaced Punk Rockers. J Dilla's right-hand man, DJ Houseshoes opened the night's show with a barrage of white people-friendly Hip-Hop classics including Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, Jaylib, and "I don't know why the f*ck I'm f*ckin' with you" (which distinctively sticks out ha). After the concert, I immediately bolted back to my car to grab my pseudo-alligator skin A Strange Arrangement LP, which Mayer graciously signed, "HELLO? MATT? MH <3." Since that fateful night, Hawthorne has moved from Stones Throw to the major leagues, collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg, released an Electro-Funk album under the guise "Jaded Inc." recorded a Pants Plays Mayer split 45 with outsider artist James Pants, even managed to play a couple gigs alongside John Mayer, and most excitingly... has finally returned to Stones Throw to unleash his Disco-Funk "debut," Tuxedo with producer buddy Jake-One.

Roughly two years ahead of Tuxedo's self-titled Stones Throw-facilitated debut, a then largely anonymous Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One let loose their quick-strike Tuxedo Funk EP; although rest assured, Hawthorne and Jake-One were diligently hard at work on their Disco-Funk magnum opus long before Justin Timberlake decided to don a "Suit & Tie" or the recent wave of Bruno Mars-ian Blue-Eyed Soul ever came to fruition. The Funky roots of Tuxedo seem to trace back to about 2006, when Mayer Hawthorne aka DJ Haircut and Jake-One exchanged a couple of mood-setting mixtapes, AR Music and Shoot The Duck, and the rest, as they say, is history. This, somehow leads us to the second postcard 45 single culled from Tuxedo, "Number One," right behind "Do It," which was effectively re-released from Tuxedo Funk EP. "We always wondered what the original sample was for Snoop [Dogg]'s "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)." Since we couldn't figure it out, we decided we would make it," Tuxedo lamented in a recent Stones Throw press release. "Number One"'s M. Corey Whitted-directed video follows the off-kilter lead previously set by Tuxedo's "Do It" small screen treatment; wherein Mayer Hawthorne & Jake-One compete in what's been ingeniously dubbed the New Amsterdam Vodka Tennis Classic, essentially a slick 1980's Boggie-Funk-indebted ruse to attempt to swoon a couple of foxy ladies. Tuxedo's self-titled Disco-Funk debut is currently available in deluxe 2LP, gold cassette, standard CD, and digital packages over at The Stones Throw Store.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Drake Interpolates Toronto Multi-instrumentalist & BADBADNOTGOOD Affiliate, River Tiber's "No Talk" on "No Tellin'" (unsigned)

"BIG UPS TO THIS NEW @DRAKE FIRE PROD. BY @FRANKDUKES [AND] @BOI1DA FT. @RIVERTIBER ON THE PART 2 VOCALS #NOTELLIN #6HITZ," @badbadnotgood frantically Tweeted upon the release of Drake's surprise mixtape/album, IF YOUR READING THIS ITS TOO LATE, late last month. That very track, Tiber aka Tommy Paxon-Beesley's own original composition, "No Talk" went unreleased... until yesterday afternoon when The FADER premiered it; "I've been working with Frank Dukes for a minute. He made a dope sample with my vocal stem, which Boi-1da put drums on top of, and I guess Drake liked the beat and recorded to it," BBNG-affiliated multi-instrumentalist River Tiber lamented to The FADER. "No Talk" is a glitchy Electro/percussion-aided emotive track, which in its original form, honestly, doesn't sound all that far removed from your typical Emo-Rap Drake beat. While it seems as though they might have sampled "No Talk"'s instrumental (or something similar) for the first half of "No Tellin,'" you can distinctively hear River Tiber's vocal flourishes, which have now been reduced to a ghostly wail, come in at right around the 3-minute mark. The FADER additionally notes that "Tiber plans to drop two new records this year," but it's unclear whether or not "No Talk" will ultimately end up re-appearing on either project. Although, in the meantime, you can hear Tiber's production/songwriting work scattered all over BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah's critically-acclaimed, nearly three years in-the-making collaborative album, Sour Soul (Lex Records).

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jay Electronica Willingly Leaks CD-Q Version of "Road to Perdition," 'guest starring' Jay Z (Act II?)

"Oh well, since it leaked... here's a better quality version," @JayElectronica exuberantly Tweeted early Friday morning, upon the unexpected leak of a low-quality version of his track, "Road to Perdition" 'guest starring' mentor and Roc-Nation label boss, Jay Z. It's the latest track Electronica's recorded and released 'with' Jay Z (behind "We Made It" and "Shiny Suit Theory") - 'with' in quotation marks because Jay Z's feature in question on "Road to Perdition" is more or less composed of lines sampled from his American Gangster-centric track, "Success" (2007). "Road to Perdition" in fact, first appeared on Jay Electronica's 2012 screen-grabbed 15-track Act II: Patents of Nobility (the turn) rough tracklist. Electronica's notoriously shelved album will reportedly also showcase the varied talents of Kanye, Serge Gainsbourg, Erykah Badu, Jay Z, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Puff Daddy, The-Dream, and wait for it... former President Ronald Regan!?

Despite the inherently cryptic nature of Jay Electronica's rather sparse and infrequently updated 'discography', which by my count, tallies in at right around 40 official/unofficial tracks; even attempting to compare Electronica's verbally dense word-play to that of his peers, would be something along the lines of trying to compare a dictionary to a "Learn My ABC's" book. Not entirely unlike last year's sudden "Better Tune In with The Infinite" leak, "Road to Perdition" appears to jive with Electronica's previously leaked Act II tracklist, which ?uestlove says has apparently been finished and turned in for a few years now; "[Jay Z] listens to it constantly, says it's his favorite record of 2012, [but] it has no single on it... Jay wants a single." Here's a few of my favorite bars lifted from Jay Electronica's latest sharp-tongued release, to get you hook-line-and-sinker, if you aren't already interested, for whatever reasons: "I got that black-on-black skin tone, actual-fact syndrome / That's why I dropped the jewel on every verse you heard me shit on [...] My swag is on 1.21 gigawatts, 10 trillion kilowatts / Hardcore Thriller pop, Michael Jackson, ni**a rock / Google me, baby, understand where I'm coming from / My destiny's to hit a grand slam when my number come."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The WitzTV Making The Video: Action Bronson, Mark Ronson, Chance The Rapper & Zane Lowe's "Baby Blue" (VICE Records)

Following an unexpected guest appearance on Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars' chart-topping smash single, "Uptown Funk" (Remix) last month, Action Bronson and Ronson have linked up once again to liberate the first of their two collaborations from MR. WONDERFUL, "Baby Blue;" a smooth horn-laden arrangement, almost reminiscent of Mark Ronson's formative Dap-Kings-backed early work with Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, which seems to have been lifted from songstress Natalie Prass' literally just-released Columbia Records single, "Birds of Prey." Although "Baby Blue" was initially premiered on now-retired BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe's show Monday afternoon, @ActionBronson unleashed a "BEHIND-THE-SCENES MAKING OF "BABY BLUE" IN LONDON WITH MY BROS @MarkRonson [and] @zanelowe" late Thursday afternoon amidst the latest East Coast-pummeling snowstorm, fittingly dubbed "Thor." Action Bronson & Mark Ronson's secondary as-yet-unreleased collaboration, "Brand New Car" reportedly interpolates a sample from Billy Joel's 1978 52nd Street track, "Zanzibar" personally sanctioned by the man himself!?

Bronson & Ronson's Tom Gould-shot footage showcases scenes of the track's fiery Kirin J. Callinan guitar solo, ad-libbed piano melodies, "Baby Blue"'s titular Zane Lowe co-written hook: "Why you always all on my back? Why you gotta do me like that? Why you gotta act like a bitch... when I'm with you? Baby girl, I'm blue," and all sorts of reel-to-reel Electric Lady Studios trickery. It's just the latest promotional media event in recent weeks, which have previously included a "live from the dugout" interview with Kev Brown at Yankees Spring Training, an infinitely quotable appearance on ESPN's Highly Questionable sports round-table, an animated #MrWonderfulWednesdays short, and a recent influx of Bronson-centric posts here at The Witzard ha. Not only is "Baby Blue" the unofficial reunion of Action Bronson and "NaNa" collaborator Chance The Rapper, it's the staggering fifth single 'leaked' from MR. WONDERFUL (behind "Easy Rider," "A Light In The Addict," "Actin' Crazy," and "Terry") ahead of its long-awaited March 23-24th release date.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

BOOTS Shares Companion 5-song Score to Self-directed & Penned Short Film, "Motorcycle Jesus" (Canvasback Music)

"[Jordan Asher] came up with his logo, a horizontal stripe with two verticals, which can look like connected crosses or, people have told him, like "a bridge, train tracks, motorcycle handlebars," he said," laments a recently published New York Times profile centered around Run The Jewels, Beyoncé, and Sia collaborator, Jordan "BOOTS" Asher. "I'm not going to reveal rightly yet what it is. But if it's got you wondering, I'm on the right path;" Asher's purposely vague statements would in fact, then lead me to believe that the title of his recent short film/5-song soundtrack, Motorcycle Jesus, is likely a clever allusion to his sparse cross-handlebars BOOTS imagery. It's the proper follow-up to BOOTS' critically-acclaimed WinterSpringSummerFall mixtape (2014), which @bootsonboots modestly self-describes as: "my objective with this body of work was not to make "rock music." It was to make new music. Something I have never heard before." Motorcycle Jesus seamlessly manages to inter-weave previously "leaked" singles "Mercy" and "I Run Roulette" amongst new material recorded along with RTJ cohort and veteran rapper-producer El-P and Autolux multi-instrumenatlist Carla Azar.

Just a matter of days after its initial release, Motorcycle Jesus has already drawn comparisons to the timeless work(s) of The Beatles, David Bowie, Radiohead, Prince, TV On The Radio, and Nine Inch Nails, all juxtaposed against a fresh modern-day Hip-Hop/R&B-indebted edge. "BOOTS is a self-taught, all-around 21st-century musician: singer, rapper, guitarist, keyboardist, drummer, beat programmer, video director, graphic designer [and] in the "Motorcycle Jesus" video, [he] wanders through a post-apocalyptic world, increasingly bruised and battered," The New York Times piece further describes the genesis of BOOTS' latest comprehensive work. Jordan Asher is currently putting the finishing touches on his Atlantic/Canvasback Music full-length album slated for a release later this year, as well as two separate "crazy futuristic" albums composed with fellow new-comers FKA Twigs and Autolux, and in the meantime, compiling cat sounds to be included on Killer Mike & El-P's crowd-funded Meow The Jewels remix album charity project.