Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rappcats & Madlib Invazion Present: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's Hard as Nails Hit+Run Silk-screened "COCAINE PARTIES IN LA" 12-inch (Kanye Freestyle)

Freddie Gibbs, to the best of my knowledge, has never released a proper mixtape in the typical fashion of Hip-Hop culture; a cohesive collection of re-appropriated beats borrowed from popular artists and "freestyled" over, which are given away for FREE or next to nothing. However, it would appear as though that very notion might change soon enough, as Rappcats/Madlib Invazion have unveiled plans to release a limited run silk-screened 12-inch containing "Cocaine Parties In LA" and its sparse instrumental on Side B. Gibbs previously unleashed a cocaine-laden remix of Kanye & Kendrick Lamar's Madlib-produced G.O.O.D. Fridays (Vol. 2) submission and eventual The Life of Pablo bonus track, "No More Parties In LA." It's reportedly a track left on the cutting room floor, for whatever reasons, during the recording of Kanye's sprawling 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, just one composition from six CD-R's-worth of hazy Funk-indebted Madlib beats handed off to Mr. West during the earliest formative stages of SWISH/WAVES/Pablo. "Hey killa / You forgot your soda, dawg / My mama kitchen stankin' / from the last order, dawg / So many cocaine transactions, / I don't recall... No, I don't sell like Macklemore / But I've got White Privilege," Gangsta Gibbs ruthlessly rhymes throughout "Cocaine Parties In LA" in his typical hard as nails Mafioso Rap-resurecting style.

Now, for of this to make a little more coherent and hopefully, readily digestible sense, it might additionally help for you to know that Freddie Gibbs & Madlib collectively recorded and released three MadGibbs EP's, their critically-acclaimed Piñata album, and and Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$-assisted "Knicks" Remix 12-inch during a rather lengthy statement-commanding period spanning from November 2011-October 2014. "'Cocaine Parties In LA" is produced by Madlib with lyrics/vocals by Freddie Gibbs. All sleeves are screen-printed by hand, one-of-a-kind – 10 variations in all, but each slightly different. Illustrations by Gustavo Eandi, design by Jeff Jank, [and] screened by Hit+Run," Rappcats wrote within a self-contained on-site press release. "Cocaine Parties In LA" is currently available for purchase at Rappcats and if ordered, shouldn't take too long to ship, as it seems as though Hit+Run have already silk-screened some 850 variant LP's; but until then, let's just bask in the sheer genius and self-described utter "audacity" that is Stones Throw-affilaited Freddie Gibbs ferociously rhyming atop a Madlib-produced Junie Morrison-sampling Kanye West beat, albeit one formerly laced by incomparable rapping demigod, Kendrick Lamar.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Noah Kistler Presents: D.A. Wallach's "1980's Motion-graphics Bonanza," "Disaster" Assisted By Dave Palmer, Nate East, Carl Restivo & Traveling Wilburys Drummer Jim Keltner (Harvest Records)

"'Disaster" was the last song I wrote for Time Machine and it's one of my favorites. Noah Kistler directed the video, and I gave him full creative control in doing so; he imagined an 80's motion-graphics bonanza, and it was a lot of fun to shoot!" singer-songwriter D.A. Wallach wrote within an emailed statement exclusive to The Witzard, concerning his just-released Sci-Fi-leaning "Disaster" music video treatment. Wallach's post-Chester French Harvest Records debut, Time Machine was hands down one of my absolute favorite albums of 2015, however, it still has yet to see a proper physical CD-LP release, aside from digital download; although, D.A. told me as recently as Sunday that he's still "trying to work on something for vinyl though, at some point." I, myself, previously described Time Machine as "a phenomenal "debut" record delivered in the vein of a modern day Hip-Hop-influenced James Taylor or Bill Withers, which has already garnered words of praise from the likes of Linkin Park emcee Mike Shinoda... Janelle Monáe, and actor-musician Jared Leto" during an intro I penned for our interview last year, which I personally feel like has been years in-the-making.

Not dissimilar from the additional 10 genre-blending tracks housed within Time Machine, D.A. Wallach wrote and self-produced "Disaster," on which he's accompanied by Dave Palmer on keys, bassist Nate East, Carl Restivo on guitar, and Traveling Wilburys drummer Jim Keltner. I would even go as far as to say that my favorite, and might I add very quirky, line from "Disaster" would likely be "oh oh oh-ow-ow. Oh honey, can't you see that I'm a disaster? I try to stop it, but my heart's beatin' faster and it feels like looo-loooo-love," which at one glorious point, is wonderfully coupled with director Noah Kistler's 1970's Godzilla-esque B-movie grade laser eyes and echoed vocal sound wave inflections. "Disaster" was preceded by my personal favorite Time Machine composition, "Long Way Down" and surprisingly touching Tyler, The Creator-directed "Glowing," as well as a number of sparse performances recorded Live from Capitol Studio B; at this point, it almost goes without saying, but if you haven't been compelled to already... please crawl out from the rock under which you're dwelling, get to the nearest computer or laptop, and purchase a copy of D.A. Wallach's magnificent Time Machine, which has fittingly been described by Edward Sharpe & The Magnificent Zeroes frontman Alex Ebert as "daringly potent song-writing wizardry."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sugar Tongue Slim, Butta-N-Bizkit & DJ Schoolie V Discuss Forming Their OutKast & The Roots-inspired Band, "I Ain't Got It" & Having "a NAC for Making Good Music" (The Witzard Interview)

I'm almost positive that I myself, like many unknowing listeners, first heard the ferocious rhyming talents of Sugar Tongue Slim (STS) on The Roots' "Auto-Tune Baby"-borrowing How I Got Over (2010) bonus track, "Hustla;" an intriguing concoction produce by ?uestlove & Diplo, which was formerly inter-woven amidst an early M.I.A. & Prince Zimboo-assisted Major Lazer composition befittingly titled "Baby" (Switch Remix). STS would self-release three volumes of his critically-acclaimed GOLD Rush freestyles series and later go on to join Black Thought-fronted Money Makin' Jam Boys alongside fellow Roots affiliates Dice Raw, Truck North, and Greg Porn. It would appear as though MMJB's post-Prestige indefinite hiatus has seemingly inspired STS to go ahead and form his own genre-blending Roots-esque Hip-Hop band, NAC; "Cultivated in Philly and created in LA, NAC is a unique band that have written music for artist such as John Legend, Ciara, The Roots, and Yo Gotti. Influenced by groups like The Legendary Roots Crew, OutKast and Kid-N-Play, NAC is the refreshing spin that music has been looking for. Comprised of STS (Sugar Tongue Slim) who delivers catchy lyricism in his Atlanta fashion, the platinum-selling team B-N-B: Butta brings the keys and Bizkit bangs the drums with a yell/rap/sing type of style with his vocals, and newcomer producer and DJ Schoolie V." Now that we've all been properly introduced, please scroll down and proceed to thoroughly enjoy the interview included below, which I was collectively able to conduct with STS, Butta-N-Bizkit, and DJ Schoolie V via email in between the Soundcloud unveiling of NAC's debut single, "I Ain't Got It" and its recently premiered light-hearted, companion Netflix & Chill-reminiscent visuals.

I. What initially made you decide to form NAC; and with that said, was your earliest collaboration the first unofficial NAC recording?

NAC was formed when I (Sugar Tongue Slim) came out to LA in October of 2015. We all went in the studio to cut reference records, but they sounded like something that isn't being done right now. So, we decided to keep going and see what we came up with. We've got a NAC for making records, when put together as a group, especially. So yea, our first record as a band was [recorded in] October 2015.

II. What would you likely list as some of your greatest influences on your newly-minted NAC sound? it artist, albums, genres, etc?

OutKast, The Roots, and Kid-N-Play.

III. Would you care to talk for a moment about the creation, conception, and meaning behind your premiere single "I Ain't Got It" and its relationship to the recently popularized phrase "Netflix & Chill?"

"I Ain't Got It" is a fun record, very fun, like us haha... From production to hook to the lyrics, it all just came together. As far as Netflix & Chill, yea it's pretty much the theme song for it; when you ain't got it, that's what you do. Plus, [Bizkit] sound cool as Hell when he drops in with that "come on over baby, watch Netflix, and Chillllll."

IV. What would you say are likely your impending plans for the future of The NAC and what can we, as fans, look forward to?

[We're] working!!! Expect more music. Good music. Don't wanna say too much, but yea, [we're] just getting started. NAC is something we all believe in and are willing to work hard at.

V. What's the likelihood of NAC collaborating with The Money Making Jam Boys, The Roots, or any of your other okayplayer affiliates?

We are definitely open to collaborating with anyone–as a group, we would love to work with The Roots. That would be a pinnacle in all our careers, being that we are just four dudes from Philly with a NAC for making good music, thanks to where our Roots are [from]... haha see what I did right there?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Stones Throw Announces Sharp-tongued Emcee Homeboy Sandman's Third Full-length, Kindness for Weakness; Unleashes Edan-produced "Talking (Bleep)"

It appears as though reclusive early 2000's rapper, producer, and cold-cuttin' DJ Edan has finally decided to re-emerge from his self-imposed sabbatical and unleash his first batch of new material since 2009's "Echo Party" mixtape; Edan recently contributed production work to old sharp-tongued friend Mr. Lif's long-awaited comeback single of sorts, "Whizdom," as well as Homeboy Sandman's newly unveiled Kindness for Weakness album teaser, "Talking (Bleep)." Sandman's latest Stones Throw Drip can likely best be described as a Hip-Hop-laden amalgamation of pop culture's beloved, often over-used "BLAH, BLAH, BLAH" filler phrasing for drab, long-winded, unnecessary, etc. conversation we're often subjected to throughout our every day lives – be it Ke$ha's chart-topping No.1 single, Charlie Brown & The Peanuts' "WAH, WAH, WAH" diction substituted for adults talking, or Seinfeld protagonist Elaine Benes' vague "yadda, yadda, yadda" catchphrase seemingly used in place of sexually explicit details. Homeboy Sandman & Edan's modern day take on said terminology, however, would appear to lean more towards Charles Schulz's playful, kid-friendly rendition. "Yo, I was riding my bike down the bike path / Going the wrong way, but who's to say what the wrong way is... Along comes this chick, like "you're going the wrong way, mister" / In her brain, she thought she was an authority figure / Even though she was a b*tch, I still thanked her with kindness / And was like, "thank you, miss," despite the fact she sounded like this [WAH, WAH, WAH]" is just a brief example of the dense multi-layered, yet incredibly approachable, language that can be heard inter-woven throughout "Talking (Bleep)" and for that matter, nearly all of Homeboy Sandman's post-Stones Throw material.

However, on the other hand, Sandman's outer-label free associative collaborative work is just as jarring; his painfully brief Blu-produced America-sampling homeboy sandman is the sandman EP, Beastie Boys-evocative Lice EP recorded with buddy Aesop Rock, or impenetrable one-off with one time touring mates Das Racist, "I'm up on that!" Rhymesayers' crowned veteran emcee Aesop Rock, as a matter of fact, just announced a sprawling 38-date tour supported by none other than Homeboy Sandman and Hail Mary Mallone member Rob Sonic behind his upcoming album, The Impossible Kid; in honor of his befittingly-titled Impossible Kid Tour announcement, Rock unleashed an impressive 56-bar "freestyle" over Pusha T's neck-snapping Timbaland-produced "Untouchable" to Pigeons & Planes just Tuesday afternoon. I'm really hoping to catch Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman at Philly's own Union Transfer on the 6/11 stop of their forthcoming trek and with any hope, they'll perform a few choice cuts from their rather infectious (haha get it?) an critically-acclaimed Lice EP. Aesop Rock's The Impossible Kid and Homeboy Sandman's Kindness for Weakness will be released just one mere week apart on 5/29 and 6/5. Although, for whatever reasons, Sandman's impeccable Pace Rivers-directed stop-motion "Life Support" video-single won't appear within Kindness for Weakness. Stones Throw have however, to my own personal delight, decided to resurrect one of Homeboy Sandman's former hard as nails non-album loosies from last year, El RTNC-produced "Nonbelievers;" "[it] was inspired by Phife Dawg's line on "Award Tour," "nonbelievers you can check the step."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Guilty Simpson & Katalyst Unveil 2 Jazzy Detroit & Extras, "Letting Off Steam/Love," Ahead of The Kings Court Tour (Stones Throw)

"We recorded "Letting Off Steam" here in [Australia] in 2014. We both dug that joint, but it didn't make the album for various reasons; so, good to let the peeps hear it. Written and recorded in the same day. Just a dope vibe, really. Guilty killed that beat. Mad flow on that... "Love" is a joint we also had to leave off the album due to the album length. Neither of us like long records. It's a dope jam and Guilty's message/ lyrics are amazing. I really wanted peeps to hear that joint. Its deep. I mixed it again and got a much better mix, which is the one you [hear] released a couple of days back. That's all I can tell you."

– Detroit's Son and Detroit & Extras producer Katalyst

"Right now, all I'm listening to is beats. DETROIT'S SON is my favorite album. And I'm in a time capsule, bro – I'm still listening to The Commodores ha! I'm really into my own wave right now. I mostly listen to Jazz, when I'm not into my own stuff. Mainly Bob James. Anything Bob James will make me listen," Guilty Simpson befittingly replied, when I asked what a few of his favorite Hip-Hop albums of 2014-15 might have been during our expansive The Witzard interview last year; at the time, well... literally, that very same day, Stones Throw announced Simpson's impending Katalyst-produced Detroit's Son album, which effectively end up becoming my absolute favorite album of 2015. Now, nearly six months removed from Guilty & Katalyst's 9/11 release, Detroit's Son still remains one of my favorite Hip-Hop albums since Yeezus and late last night, Stones Throw unveiled the latest addition to their newly-dubbed Detroit & Extras collection; "Guilty Simpson and producer Katalyst recorded so many tracks for last year's Detroit's Son that they couldn't all make the album. "Animal," "Vanguard [Organization]," "Testify" were a few. Here's a couple more: "Letting Off Steam" (a short one) and "Love," presented here together."

What I'm ultimately working towards, in a very long-winded manner, is that Guilty's modest fanboy-esque Bob James influence has, either consciously or subconsciously, worked its way into his music. While it's indeed a track recorded during Detroit's Son's sessions and for whatever reasons, left on the cutting room floor, "Letting Off Steam" more so sounds like it could have been recorded by James himself during the sessions for his coveted crate-diggin' gems One, Two, Three, Heads, or even something akin to his legendary Taxi-popularized theme, "Angela." Stones Throw has made "Letting Off Steam" and "Love" available for your listening pleasure, as one concise Soundcloud stream, while subscribers to their newly-relaunched Kickstarter-backed Drip vinyl-to-mp3 service, like myself, can currently download a bundle complete with both separate tracks. Detroit's Son is now available in standard CD, metallic gatefold LP, and digital formats, for those of you who have been living under a damn rock for the past six months; although, with five post-Detroit's Son tracks floating around in the sonic atmosphere and impending 24-date The Kings Court Tour supported by Slum Village, Black Milk & Phat Kat, I would personally like to imagine Katalyst-helmed Detroit's Son 2 isn't too far off, in all reality.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 Mixer Philippe Zdar & Boom Bass Enlist Beastie Boy Mike D & Cat Power for "Action"-packed Cassius Comeback Single (Ed Banger)

"I did bring a couple bottles of wine to the studio and then, started writing my part and went from there," Beastie Boys founding member Mike "D" Diamond recently told Pitchfork during a brief yet informative interview surrounding French Electronic duo Cassius' frantic Mike D & Cat Power-featuring apparent as-yet-unannounced album single, "Action." "The song came with this world liberation theme and then, I came with a modern-day relationship theme, and somehow the two went together. It's kind of like toast and Vegemite go together only in Australia," Diamond characteristically continued. Philippe Zdar & Boom Bass had only scheduled studio time with Cat Power frontwoman Chan Marshall during a recent visit to New York, although, after meeting up with Mike D for lunch, the "Action"-packed collaboration progressed from there like a snowball rolling downhill; "suddenly, we were having a coffee and we said, 'why don't we ask Mike if we wants to rap on the track. And then, he arrived in the studio and after one minute in the studio – and Chan was doing our vocals – he said, 'I think I like this thing.' They talked together and it was done in three hours," Zdar recounted to Pitchfork. Despite the fact that Cassius haven't released an album since 15 Again (2006), Zdar and Boom Bass have separately produced music for the likes of Phoenix, Bloc Party frontman Kele, Chromeo, The Rapture, Kindness, Two Door Cinema Club, and Drake. Philippe Zdar additionally contributed mixing work to Cat Power's Sun and what would ultimately become The Beastie Boys' final album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Cassius' "I Love U So" was prominently sampled throughout Kanye & Jay Z's ill-fated collaborative album Watch The Throne, especially across Mr. Hudson-assisted House-tinged "Why I Love You."

"Action" is "in a sense capturing that era of a Compass Point record that gets played in The Loft in New York City, but today," Mike D passionately explained to Pitchfork staff writer Marc Hogan; "I'm really kind of a little bit romantic for the lost era. "There's a lot of us that are... we feel like it's this magic era that happened before us. And it wasn't even necessarily Disco. It was a promise of how creative a DJ could be with Funk, Soul, Italo to make this experience. It was the beginning of the DJ as a headliner." Not withstanding "Action"'s sheer aspect of infectiousness and likelihood of becoming an early contender for Song of Summer 2016, I've had a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around how to approach an "Action"-centric write-up for this very site (which has now come to fruition) since its initial viral release late last week. However, once Cassius suddenly unveiled their campy TOILETPAPER-directed Mike D & Cat Power-less "Action" music video Thursday afternoon, I immediately figured I would have no trouble whipping up an equally fun-loving, elaborate companion write-up of my own. With that said, I think I've done enough mindless rambling... "Action" kicks off with Philippe Zdar & Boom Bass entering what appears to be just another boardwalk arcade-mounted Smile-N-Wait photo booth, which unexpectedly transports Cassius to a volcano-laden island retreat, via a mysterious Pulp Fiction-reminiscent glowing trunk. From that point on, what ensues next, for nearly the duration of five minutes, can only be described as something akin to Channing Tatum's highly danceable unicorns and rainbows-filled "good" acid trip from 22 Jump Street. While it's currently unclear if "Action" will effectively re-appear within or when exactly it will materialize into consumable form, Cassius are apparently working on their long-awaited follow-up to 15 Again at their own Paris-based motorbass RECORDING STUDIO.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dan Ubick Unearths Previously Unreleased Connie Price & The Keystones Material for "Wildflowers" Expanded Re-issue (The Witzard Interview #2.5)

Full disclosure: Lions producer-guitarist and founding member Dan Ubick and I are friends, frequent collaborators, and mutual fans of each others' collected bodies of work (or at least, I would like to think so). With that said, it's really a no-brainer that nearly any given time Ubick and his number of creative outlets decide to unleash genre-blending music upon the unsuspecting world, I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to write a piece centered around it; I've previously had the wonderful opportunity to interview Dan twice before, coinciding with the releases of The Lions' This Generation and Soul Riot, as well as having the coveted honor to premier their Ross Harris-directed Clash re-interpretation, "The Magnificent Dance." In addition to The Lions and former Stones Throw-signed Funk/Breakbeat group Breakestra, Ubick has been fortunate enough to work with everyone from Snoop Lion to storied emcee Big Daddy Kane and even formed his own The Beatles/Sgt. Peppers-esque ensemble, Connie Price & The Keystones around 2002-03. While it primarily functions as a "lost and found" re-issue label, Now-Again bestowed the great honor of issuing Dan Ubick's Connie Price & The Keystones' debut 7-inch as their first release, as well as The Keystones' 2004 full-length Wildflowers acting as the label's first proper album from a "new" artist. Now, 12 years later, as Now-Again has grown leaps and bounds – Madlib even produced a track on Kanye's recent The Life of Pablo – Egon has fittingly decided to revisit Wildflowers with a sprawling 19-track Expanded Edition re-issue CD; meticulously collecting a series of previously unreleased Malcom Catto-assisted tracks and rare vinyl-only B-sides from that era, which have been long out of print. I recently decided to reach out to dan Ubick in hopes of getting a little additional information concerning Now-Again's Wildflowers Expanded Edition, which quickly managed to morph into the rather insightful 5-question interview you see attached below.

I. "Connie Price & The Keystones are the Los Angeles musical group whose 7-inch releases kick-started the Now-Again label way back in 2002 – and whose Wildflowers album was the first full-length release by a new band on the label;" how did you and The Keystones come to align yourselves with Egon, Malcom Catto, Jay Whitefield, and in turn, sign to Now-Again?

I first met Egon when he worked at Stones Throw when [Peanut Butter] Wolf was up in San Francisco still. Not sure if they even had offices yet, might have been out of Wolf's apartment that I went to. Anyway, I played in my friend Miles Tackett's group Breakestra and our first LP "The Live Mix Part 2" came out on Stones Throw, for which Egon wrote beautiful liner notes on the back. From the get go I could just see that E was a special dude. Great writer, great artistic vision and he had all kinds of great records. Egon first turned me on to Wax Poetics, I met those guys through an intro from Eothen [Egon]. He has been a true believer in me and what I did with The Keystones and I am eternally grateful.

Malcom and Jan (Jay Whitefield) I met through Egon. I liked some of the Hotpie & Candy stuff they did, still do, BUT I was a big fan of the "Discern/Define" LP [The Poets of Rhythm] did on Quannum. They really brought their true personalities out on that LP. They were still as funky as ever but they threw in all kinds of other influences too making it really sonically interesting to me. It made me want to put my own individual stamp on my sounds and I think I really did with "Wildflowers." Todd [Simon] also introduced me to an LP he did in New York (right before he moved back out here, I think) with Leon Michels Homer Steinweiss, Nick Movshon, and all those talented Daptone/Antibalas dudes dudes called "Sounding Out The City" by El Michels Affair. They were throwing their own unique spin on it, too.

I signed to Egon's Now-Again label soon after I ended my stint in Breakestra. Miles and that surrounding scene turned me onto so much great music that I was excited to try my hand at producing some music of my own. I started with two SM57's and a crappy Tascam cassette 8-track and recorded some raw funk tracks I ended up calling "Highland Park" (where I lived at the time), "Time to Kill," "The Badger," etc. I played them for Egon and he put them out. I was stoked and am still proud of all the stuff we did for Now-Again.

II. For what sort of reasons were strong, infectious tracks such as "BALLOON RIDE," "Hurricane Malcom," and "Ups and Downs" ultimately left off Wildflowers at the time and what made you decide to recently revisit and include them within Now-Again's Expanded re-issue?

Those few previously unreleased track were just odds and ends that I worked on back then but I just didn't have time to finish them. The Keystones back then was me and my dude Todd M. Simon, who wrote horn arrangements for most all of the Now-Again-era tracks and for some reason, those three we just never found horn parts for, so I guess they seemed like they weren't finished by the time our deadline arrived. Egon asked if I had extras and I only had rough mixes. Had to dig up old reels and do some excavating but came out with the master reels for the three you mentioned. They are all really cool and Malcom [Catto]'s drumming, as usual, just kills me. The way he does kick, snare, hat combo is just godly. His bass drum foot is like a boxer warming up. Such control and so funky.

III. Would you care to briefly describe the original 2004 recording sessions related to "BALLOON RIDE," Malcom Catto-featuring "Hurricane Malcolm," and 2-part "Ups and Downs?"

I don't remember exact details, but I do remember hanging on my back deck in Highland Park with Malcom and Egon. I was not a tea drinker at all, so when Mal asked me if I could make him a cup of black tea, I did my best. Steeped it too long though (lol). Mal is super cool, but my tea was so bitter from steeping too long that he reluctantly uttered: "this is worst cup of tea I've ever had" and we all started cracking up.

IV. How do you personally feel Connie Price & The Keystones has grown and progressed as a band and musical outlet during the length of time in between Wildflowers and your soon forthcoming Lucas High LP?

In so many ways... "The Keystones" has been many things and I've been so lucky to get all of the line-ups this band has seen. I'll tell you this, both "Wildflowers" and "Lucas High" have me and my brothers Dave Wilder and Davey Chegwidden on them. James King is doing Fitz & The Tantrums, Todd Simon fronts Ethio-Cali, etc. The Keystones is really a revolving cast of my good friends.

"Wildflowers" was my dream because I wanted to create some soul music with cinematic elements. "Lucas High" fulfills my dream of creating some funky tracks with many of the [emcees] I grew up listening rhyming on them. "Wildflowers" featured Bobby Watley from Funk Inc. (you record heads all know Funk Inc). "Lucas High" is gonna feature some of the most creative people I now; Brand Nubian, The Pharcyde, Brother J and Wildchild, Percee P and Guilty Simpson, Tallb Kweli, etc. etc. The Keystones LP I just started is gonna be a whole new take on things once again.

V. "That's a simple one: [Peanut Butter] 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," Egon recounted when I inquisitively asked about The Sand Dollars "Get Thy Bearings" 45 featuring none other than Stones Throw founder Chris Manak himself. How similar or dissimilar from Egon's re-telling is your recollection of "Get Thy Bearings," Dan?

I only met Biz one time in NYC. He was a trip (killed "Just Rhyming with Biz" with us and [Big Daddy] Kane), but I can't comment on his fibbing, [as I] don't know him on the personal level. Love his records.

I never heard this story Egon tells, but E's got a more solid memory than I do. All I know is that Wolf was down to do it and E put it out. Our version is heavy. I played drums on that one, I think Todd is playing the funky organ parts. Love what we did and Wolf's vocals are a crazy cool take on it. The Sand Dollars version sounds nothing like Donovan's version (and I LOVE Donovan's version), it's unique in it's psychedelia. Todd and I purposely had the horns take the role of the descending guitars at the end of Donovan's version. Lily Allen used it as a template for her song "Sunday Morning."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"It was a blast to make;" Frequent Homeboy Sandman Collaborator & Director Pace Rivers Breaks Down His Latest Self-reflective Stop-animation Creation, "Life Support" (Stones Throw)

"It was an action-packed few days, Sandman was so patient with the whole thing, it was amazing... The effect in ["Life Support"] is stop-animation; basically, every time anything moved in those sections of the video, we'd move something [and] take a picture. So, that meant pulling apart flowers, petal by petal, in some cases... It was a blast to make... Homeboy Sandman and I have built a body of visuals together and we have a lot of trust in each other. He pushes limits musically and I try to match his intensity with the visuals, while keeping an eye on his humorous side," director @pacerivers told me in a series of recent Twitter direct messages sent on the eve of his latest sun-drenched creation, "Life Support." Homeboy Sandman's just released Hugo XL-produced self-reflective cut is reportedly "a new track, not on any album release, strictly for the video," according to Los Angeles-based imprint Stones Throw Records. Rivers and Sandman have previously worked together on visual accompaniments for "Not Really," "What'chu Want from Me," and "Men Are Mortal" – a mutual appreciation and working relationship dating back as far as 2012, during the roll-out for his full-length Stones Throw "debut," First of a Living Breed.

Not entirely unlike its non-album predecessors "Arrows," "Anything," and "Nonbelievers," "Life Support" is a nearly flawless, impeccable example of Homeboy Sandman's sharp-tongued rhyming prowess; "I think my motivation is broads. I used to tell myself that it was savin' the world. I wasn't really lyin' to myself cause that's what I thought, but I'd be lyin' to say that I don't think more 'bout lyin' with girls," Sandman weaves over Hugo XL's sparse piano-laden beat. Stones Throw's artist description further attests to the sheer simplicity and utter genius of Angel del Villar II's intricate 90's-evoking Homeboy Sandman persona: "His favorite song is "Knocks Me Off My Feet" by Stevie Wonder. His second favorite song is "I Know You, I Live You" by Chaka Khan. His favorite Michael Jackson song is "Lady In My Life." He prefers Low End Theory to Midnight Marauders, but adores both." Homeboy Sandman is currently holed up in the studio, expectedly having the time of his life, putting the finishing touches on his latest Stones Throw album, Kindness for Weakness, which is likely expected to see a release this upcoming spring. Just in case you've been living under a rock (or a heap of deconstructed flowers), I would strongly suggest you check out Sandman's exquisite, yet painfully brief, Mike Shinoda-approved Lice EP released with long-time friend and seasoned touring mate, Aesop Rock.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Album of The Week: Kendrick Lamar's Sprawling Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired, Deconstructed Acid Jazz-Rap "B-sides Collection," untitled unmastered. (Top Dawg Entertainment)

"You see, all these performances on these late night shows – I got a chamber of material from the album that I was in love [with] where sample clearances or something as simple as a deadline kept it off the album. But I think probably close to ten songs that I'm in love with that I'll still play and still perform that didn’t make the cut," Kendrick Lamar told 2dopeboyz during a interview following his recent five-GRAMMY win; almost immediately after which Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James Tweeted, "Yo @dangerookipawaa after that @kendricklamar Grammy performance, you have to release those untitled tracks asap!!! What's up? Talk to me," directed at TDE CEO Anthony "Top Dwg" Tiffith. While I must admit, I'm not much of a sports fan, I've become a supporter of James' off-court endeavors in recent months: first, his side-splitting supporting role in Trainwreck alongside Amy Schumer and Bill Hader and now, for his role within ultimately, helping release Kendrick Lamar's sprawling Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired, deconstructed Acid Jazz-Rap opus, untitled unmastered. Lamar's 35-minute collection showcases eight self-described "demos from To Pimp a Butterfly in raw form. Unfinished. Untitled. Unmastered" recorded between 2013-16. untitled unmastered. was seemingly "leaked" to Spotify between 9:00pm-12 midnight this past Thursday into Friday night and features three previously released untitled compositions; Thundercat, Bilal, Terrace Martin & Anna Wise-assisted "untitled 03" debuted on Stephen Colbert's triumphant 2014 Colbert Report finale, DJ Khalil-produced "untitled 08" unofficially known as "Blue Faces" from his recent Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon performance, and fragmented chunks of his introductory "untitled 05" verse were performed at the end of his jaw-dropping 2016 GRAMMY Awards "The Blacker The Berry/Alright" medley.

untitled unmastered. additionally features Cee-Lo crooning "am I mortal man or make-believeeeee" over a beat hand-crafted by A Tribe Called Quest founder Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge-produced "untitled 06," two verses delivered by Black Hippy affiliate Jay Rock, TDE songstress SZA, Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz's 5-year-old son Egypt Dean (who somehow produced half of "untitled 07"), TDE co-president and former emcee Terrence "Punch" Henderson, and is rumored to showcase the revered talents of session players Kamasi Washington and Robert Glasper. Punch revealed to Billboard during a recent phone interview that "as far as untitled [unmastered.], me and Kendrick always talked about doing a sort of Black Album, like how Prince did back in the day... There was no album cover, no song titles, no anything – just tracks he threw out." Although, it's merely a collection of To Pimp a Butterfly album left-overs resurrected from the cutting room floor, untitled unmastered. by far outshines Kendrick Lamar's recent "No More Parties In LA" collaborator Kanye West's mess of a scatterbrained "album," The Life of Pablo by leaps and bounds. untitled unmastered. is a much stronger, cohesive album compared against Pablo, even though Lamar's 8-track mini-album is simply a collection of unused TPAB demos, B-sides, song sketches, rough drafts, etc. It seems as though only time will tell, but Kanye & Kendrick reportedly recorded some "40 tracks" for possible inclusion within West's recently revitalized "weekly" G.O.O.D. Fridays series. I've been listening to untitled unmastered. on repeat nearly non-stop since downloading it around 12 midnight Thursday night and let me tell you, this is an impeccable collection of rough, yet fully fleshed-out, B-sides; a perfect companion piece to To Pimp a Butterfly, which in my opinion, about 99.9% of the time, outshines its GRAMMY-winning predecessor. Rap Year Book author Shea Serrano very well might have put it best during a flurry of untitled unmastered.-endorsing weekend Tweets: "it's so great that we're all lucky enough to be alive right now to watch Kendrick Lamar become the greatest rapper on Earth."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Witzard Presents: An EXCLUSIVE Interview with SADEVILLAIN EP Mastermind Sean "Seanh" Harrison (DOOM + Sade Mash-up)

"SADEVILLAIN came about when I made two remixes back to back consisting of MF DOOM and Sade ("Air" & "Silver Spoon"). After posting it on the /r/MFDOOM subreddit, I got some pretty good feedback, and one user suggested I should make a full mixtape involving only MF DOOM and Sade, and I thought that was a great idea, so I laced some more samples with some of my production and went to work," mysterious 18-year-old British producer Sean Harrison aka Seanh2k11 wrote within an emailed conversation just two nights ago. Harrison quietly uploaded his 8-track SADEVILLAIN EP to DatPiff Monday afternoon with the intent to generate "maybe 1,000 views max," which quickly garnered critical acclaim from okayplayer, FACT, Highsnobiety, rapper Lupe Fiasco, and a number of additional online publications; in an attempt to distance and set myself apart from my peers, I reached out to Seanh2k11 via his YouTube channel in hopes to line up a SADEVILLAIN-centric interview exclusive to The Witzard. It would appear as though Seanh's entire SADEVILLAIN EP is in fact, a rather clever allusion to MF DOOM's 1999 Operation: Doomsday-featured quasi-title track or "Saffron," which made villainous usage of a buttery smooth sample lifted from Sade's Love Deluxe deep cut, "Kiss of Life." Like well-executed mash-up albums before it – such as Yasiin Gaye's 2-part "concept album," Beatles and Jay Z-melding Grey Album, or Clutchy Hopins Meets MF DOOMSADEVILAIN EP doesn't manage to ever stray too far or sound all that dissimilar from DOOM's standard cartoons and cereal-leaning output, now backed with a batch of elevator-friendly hand-crafted Smooth R&B beats.

I. Would you care to give me a little bit of background on your personal production career, Seanh? About how long have you been making your own remixes, mash-ups, etc?

I started out making simple mash-up mixes back in 2010 when I was about 12; it pretty much consisted of me finding an a capella and an instrumental with around the same BPM and I simply just matched them together (very unprofessionally) it usually involved [whoever] was in the charts around then (Ke$ha, Rihanna, Eminem, Bruno Mars etc.) It was only when I found a web forum called "" that my remixing style progressed through constant feedback and even collaborations with other producers or mash-up artists; the mixes I made from then on were usually 2Pac-based and usually consisted of a custom hook/chorus that I would make taking elements from his verses and mashing them together.

II. Now, how did your whole SADEVILLAIN EP come to fruition; any correlation to DOOM famously sampling Sade's sultry "Kiss of Love" on "Doomsday?"

SADEVILLAIN came about when I was indeed inspired by MF DOOM's Operation: Doomsday album, which obviously had "Doomsday" on the [second] track, which of course sampled Sade's "Kiss of Life." I always wondered why DOOM never sampled her more often with only releasing "Kon Karne," which featured her music again for the last time. In [honor] of both artists' music, I thought I could make a mixtape EP, which consisted of about 6-8 tracks of both DOOM and Sade, I thought the sound throughout the tape would compliment both artists' unique styles. This project was intended to just be a fan-made mash-up that I thought would get maybe 1,000 views max, I never knew it would blow up like it did.

III. What sort of general processes did you try to adhere to when crafting your SADEVILLAIN remixes... sample-laden beat first or bare bones a capella?

When creating this mixtape, I always focus on what sample I was going to use, which in this case, meant what Sade song I should use and which one sounds like something MF DOOM would spit over. After re-listening to Sade's music, I narrowed it down to the ones that I used. From there on, [I] got to work on Fruity Loops, laying down 4-8 bars of Sade's music and looping it for the verse; I then took a section from her verse and used it for the chorus, each song had its own process but this was pretty much the jist throughout. After I knew what sample I was going to use, I would then add drums over the samples that didn't have drums or had weaker sounding drums. In "Hot Pants," I only added more bass on the kick to give it that [oomph] which complimented DOOM's flow a lot more. Alongside the samples, I also added extracts from the TV series Fantastic Four, which DOOM is famous for sampling. I found ones that would fit the song and added them for the intro/outro.

IV. Let's assume Ghostface Killah & DOOM finally end up releasing their long-rumored and fabled "SWIFT & CHANGEABLE" this year; do you think you would be interested in concocting a possible remix album?

As far as making another MF DOOM tape, I'm not sure I would go back down that path; this is simply because I don't want to overdo it, as it won't be as special or as memorable the [second] time around. I have, on the other hand, thought about making another tape down the line involving another legendary Hip-Hop artist and a different artist in a different genre (just like when someone made a mixtape of Wu-Tang Clan and The Beatles), but this is something I probably won't start doing until later this year. I cannot wait for DOOMSTARKS to drop (if it does) because Ghostface is someone I have admired for a long time, so to have both these artists [collaborating] will be a blessing to hear!

V. In your personal opinion, what do you think makes DOOM's multi-layered rhymes and a capellas so apt for inventive remix projects like your own SADEVILLAIN EP?

MF DOOM's rhyming style is so unique and fascination to listen to which means that whatever beat you put him on he will flow so well over it; having heard "Doomsday," I instantly knew that DOOM [would] sound as good on Sade's other work and this is the exact reason why I went to work on making this mixtape. I would love to hear MF DOOM collab with more artists such as Sade, who are respected for their unique styles of sound. Another collab I would love to hear again would be another MF DOOM & Gorillaz song; "November Has Come" is an incredible duo piece that needs to be revisited, and who knows, maybe a DOOM & Gorillaz project will be in the waiting.