Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jumbled & UllNevaNo "Sub In" Alternates Logic Marselis & DJ Blaze Daily for The Ghost of Len Bias EP Game 2 Single "Bias vs. Jordan" (Harford & Reckord Tapes/MGNTK.)

"There's an old saying, "iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." This can be found many times over in sports and in music. One of the legendary debates in basketball is whether Len Bias was a better basketball player than Michael Jordan; while we consider Jordan to be the greatest of all-time, we can't help but wonder what could have been," Jumbled & UllNevaNo wrote within a recent press release. UllNevaNo & Jumbled have just released the second single, "Bias vs. Jordan," from their upcoming basketball-themed The Ghost of Len Bias EP. Len Bias was of course, an extremely talented 22-year-old forward at the University of Maryland. Bias was the Boston Celtics' second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft on June 17th and sadly, passed away two days later from cardiac arrhythmia, as a result of a cocaine overdose. "Iron sharpening iron" can also be found in Hip-Hop all the time. When someone lays down an amazing verse or freestyle, the pressure is put on the next artist to step up and do better," UllNevaNo & Jumbled continued.

"Bias vs. Jordan" almost has an underlying cinematic feel due in part to Jumbled's grandiose sting samples, reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan's formative brand of 90's Mafioso/Gangsta Rap; for this second "pick-up game" (single) from The Ghost of Len Bias EP, Jumbled & UllNevaNo have "subbed in" fellow MGNTK. emcee and self-proclaimed "dust environment explorer" Logic Marselis for an added guest verse and additional cuts from Maryland's legendary DJ Blaze Daily. "Bias vs. Jordan" loosely chronicles the period wherein Len Bias and Michael Jordan (to most fans' surprise) actually played againt each other a number of times during their college years with UllNevaNo rhyming "flows tight like a boa constrictor" and Marselis boasting "got this style from within, ain't get it off 'line." The Ghost of Len Bias EP is coming to a computer near you this September from Harford & Reckord Tapes and Magnetik Moments (MGNTK.) Just in time to quickly become the unofficial soundtrack for the 2017-18 NBA season.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

DJ Oonops Presents: Japanese Jazz Fusion Band Nautilus & German Songstress Fleur Earth's Beastie Boys "Root Down" Re-interpretation for Oonops Drops Vol. 1 (Agogo Records 45)

German-based DJ Oonops (AKA Patrick Decker) is a self-described "connoisseur of tight spider beats and juggler with different musical genres" who hosts a monthly Brooklyn Radio Mixcloud show and has compiled guest mixes for world-renown stations such as Laid Back Radio (LDBK) and Breakin' Bread. As DJ Oonops tells it, he first discovered Japanese Jazz Fusion/Soul-Funk trio Nautilus "a few years ago" by chance, upon diggin' up their first few 45 singles; amazed with their work, Decker soon "got in touch with [Nautilus] and dropped several tunes in [his] shows for Brooklyn Radio" including Oonops Drops - Straight from Japan II, Smoky Jazz Session 4, Black Gold of The Sun, WORLD TRIAL 2, and SMOKY JAZZ SESSIONS 5. "After that, I had the idea to bring them on German label Agogo Records for a wider audience and I compiled this compilation out of their first two albums. One day, I had the idea of the fusion of Jimmy Smith's "Root Down" combined with Beastie Boys' "Root Down," but in a different way," DJ Oonops recounted within a recent emailed exchange. I can still recall picking up a used copy of the Beastie Boys' 1995 Root Down EP CD at FYE in our local mall back in the early 2000's during my earliest discovery of Beasties' effortlessly genre-blending style. It showcased three remixes of "Root Down" by The Prunes, De La Soul DJ and producer Prince Paul, and Ill Communication producer and "third Beastie" Mario "C." Caldato Jr. alongside seven tracks were recorded "LIVE IN EUROPE, WINTER 1995."

"So, I asked Toshi[yuki Sasaki] from Nautilus because of his creative Jazz style and singer Fleur Earth, who I had in mind as the voice for this version to [fully] realize it for me. And yes, there will be another cool re-interpretation of a classic tune... I'll keep you updated," Oonopus continued. DJ Oonops-assembled "Root Down" revision reminds me of something to the effect of El Michels Affair's Wu-Tang Clan-flipping albums Enter: The 37th Chamber (2009) and Return to The 37th Chamber (2017) or even David Bowie re-envisioning The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge (2005). Nautilus & Fleur Earth's "Root Down" Funk-tastic cover is currently available for pre-order on an "exclusive and strictly limited" baby blue 7-inch single from German-based Agogo Records ahead of its upcoming November 3rd release. "Root Down" is additionally expected to re-appear within DJ Oonops' upcoming Agogo Records compilation, Oonops Drops Vol. 1, which will likely be loosely modeled after his popular Brooklyn Radio and Mixcloud series. Shout out to Jamison Harvey AKA DJ Prestige over at Flea Market Funk for peeeping me to DJ Oonops & Nautilus feat. Fleur Earth's "Root Down" 45, as well as continually introducing me to dope sh*t that's exclusively available on vinyl!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lushlife & Austin-based Producer Botany form Collaborative Duo Skull Eclipses & Unleash Mary Lattimore-assisted "Totality Piece" to Accompany Total Solar Eclipse 2017 (Western Vinyl)

It was a little strange, to say the least, driving into work this morning knowing that in a few short hours, New Jersey and nearly the whole United States would experience a period of total (albeit momentary) darkness for a few hours today, Monday, August 21st. I'm of course, talking about the Total Solar Eclipse, which will obscure roughly 76.9% of The Sun at 2:44 pm here in South Jersey and will experience various shades of darkness until about 4:00 pm. According to The Smithsonian's Solar Eclipse app, The Eclipse will make its first point of contact in Oregon in about three hours and will last for approximately 2 minutes and 43 seconds in any given area across The United States and Greater North America. If you, like my co-workers, family, and friends and myself, were unable to attain a coveted pair of Solar Eclipse viewing glasses, you can still view The Eclipse by making a a home-made Box Pinhole Projector; you'll just need a a long cardboard box or tube, scissors, duct tape, aluminum foil, a pin or a thumbtack, a sharp knife or paper cutter, a sheet of white paper, and a little elbow grease and ingenuity. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Philly rapper-producer and one-time Das Racist affiliate Lushlife (AKA Raj Haldar) has teamed up with Austin-based Instrumental Hip-Hop and Electronic music producer Botany to form an appropriately-titled collaborative project called Skull Eclipses.

Lushlife & Botany have recruited Ghostly International-signed harpist Mary Lattimore to assist on their debut release, "Totality Piece" sub-titled "a musical composition for viewing of the solar eclipse." Skull Eclipses strongly suggest you download a "Totality Piece" MP3 by entering your email address on their site, cue up the track at the exact moment the Solar Eclipse comes into view in your area, and "ascend to the Alam al-Mithal. Ascend! Human! Try! To! Ascend!" Haldar recently told Philly's non-profit radio station The Key (WXPN) "the project with Botany will bear more fruit as the coming weeks progress, but in the meantime, plan to hit play on the below Soundcloud link at 2:44 pm in Philly for a truly cosmic viewing and listening." Pitchfork further details that "radio stations across the country, including Philly's WXPN and Austin's KUTX, will be broadcasting the track live, as the eclipse reaches its maximum [coverage] in their respective cities." Lushlife recently unleashed his politically-minded MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER (Idols + Enemies) mixtape benefiting the ACLU, as well as a rather jarring cover of Grizzly Bear's "Foreground." Skull Eclipses producer Botany, on the other hand, most recently released Raw Light II on his Bandcamp page and harpist Mary Lattimore's latest release with keyboardist Elysse Thebner Miller, And The Birds Flew Overhead is currently available on Thrill Jockey/Footfalls Records, as well.

"As we prepare for a rare Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, the band Skull Eclipses are releasing their first public recording described as: a "through-composed experiential piece designed to soundtrack and seamlessly follow the 2-minute 40-second totality of the solar eclipse." Featuring harpist Mary Lattimore, the composition, entitled "Totality Piece," is available for download on their website until the 21st. Skull Eclipses is a brand new project from Spencer Stephenson (Botany) and Raj Haldar (Lushlife)."

- Skull Eclipses

Friday, August 18, 2017

Purple Dialect Entered The Woods of Bucks County, PA with a Roland SP-404, Mic & Tapedeck & Emerged with Lo-Fi Hip-Hop/"Vaporwave" Campfire EP (The Witzard Breakdown)

"The man, the myth, the Human Swiss Army Knife, @pdialect is killing it and you better be listening," self-proclaimed father, husband, emcee, producer, and "talker of Hip-Hop sh*t" at Damn That Noise DADVILLAINY (@DrBloodmoney) Tweeted this past Wednesday, August 16th. Zane Rice, better known as Purple Dialect is a Philadelphia-based artist, who very simply put, "makes beats and raps at GHOST VOLCANO" along with in-house graphic designer and partner-in-rhyme Spook Novel. Earlier this year, Rice quietly released his first 100% self-released full-length, Forest Fortress and Darko The Super-featuring EP, Ghost Beach to wide-spread fanfare and critical acclaim. Now, he's unleashed his third effort of 2017, Campfire EP, which was fully "written, produced, and recorded in a single night in a tent next to a fire." Armed with only a Roland SP-404 beat machine, rudimentary mic, and a tapedeck, Purple Dialect set out to do the unthinkable: intentionally "strand" himself overnight from June 2-3, 2017 in an unspecified remote location with minimal supplies and his music-making tools in an effort to emerge from the woods at daybreak with all of his limbs intact and a discernible collection of GHOST VOLCANO-worthy material. Not only was Purple Dialect featured within a recent Bandcamp Daily piece titled The Unlikely Intersection of Vaporwave and Hip-Hop, he recently sat down with The Witzard and supplied an hour-by-hour timeline of the fateful night back in June he hand-crafted Campfire EP in the bear-infested woods of Bucks County, PA.

"The Story: I set out to make an EP in just one night, while camping in the woods. I brought a microphone, a Roland SP-404 portable sampler, a notepad, and a tape deck. The tape deck also had various recordings and samples that I had found in previous digging sessions.

6:00 PM - I have the tent set up. Fire is going and I am sitting in a folding chair, while fending off mosquitoes. Listening to sample material.

7:00 PM - Found the sample for the first track, "Bug Spray." Just jamming and vibing out. I chop drum breaks to make a pattern and then, chop and loop melodic samples, until I get into groove that feels dope. Repeat process throughout the night with different sounds at different tempos. Playing things out by hand is the only way I can make a beat that I actually enjoy.

8:15 PM - I have had five Diet Cokes and a bunch of graham crackers.

9:00 PM - It's getting pretty dark. Fire is burning. I have knocked out three more beats.

9:30 PM - Playing the four beats I have made so far on repeat. Layering [effects] and occasionally, ripping my headphones off because I think I hear someone walking around in the woods. Fire is burned down to ash, but I pour water on it to be sure. It's really dark out.

10:00 PM - Grab my gear and move into my tent. I have a battery-powered lantern and notepad.

11:00 PM - Finish the beat that will become the song "Tent Light;" last beat completed.

11:15 PM - I have been freestyling to myself, as I made the beats, but I start writing everything out. I keep hearing branches breaking in the woods, which is freaking me out a bit.

12:30 AM - I start recording vocals for the three tracks that I want to rap to. I recorded the three beats into the tape deck, so I can monitor them in one ear, while recording vocals straight into the SP-404. This is the work-around I am using because you cannot do a live overdub with the 404.

1:30 AM - All done with writing and recording vocals. I am also 90% sure that these woods are haunted, at this point. I have made my peace with dying in some sort of Blair Witch scenario, but I have had a good run.

2:30 AM - I chilled out and spent some time listening to what I made. Feels pretty dope...

4:30 AM - Wake up to what sounds like someone throwing small rocks at my tent. Stumble out of tent to look around, but I don't see a thing. After not hearing a sound for about 10 minutes, I go back in to try to sleep. I wonder if forest creatures f**k with my beats; I hope they do.

7:30 AM - Wake up with a "dead arm" and I must have fallen asleep with my headphones on. Survived the night without incident and have some songs to show for it. Pack up camp to go search for coffee."

- Purple Dialect (Zane Rice)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pale Spring's Emily Wenker Talks Pale Spring EP2, Aaliyah & Chelsea Wolfe's Influence, 3-D Printed "Proud of Your Poison" Action Figures & Classical Music Training (The Witzard Interview)

Baltimore-based singer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and web/multi-media designer Emily Wenker has recently released her second, aptly-titled Pale Spring EP2. Wenker is a classically-trained pianist and has been tickling the ivory keys since she was five. She mostly played Beethoven and Chopin for the better part of her musical upbringing and took guitar lessons in high school, but always felt like she was "bad at it." It took several years, but Emily Wenker says she had to essentially un-learn everything she had amassed during her classical training in order to be able to make her own music. It wasn't until Wenker met frequent collaborator and fiance Drew Scott about two and a half years ago that she learned how to use ProTools and attained a new outlook on the world of music-making and production. Since first meeting Scott, Emily Wenker has recorded and released two now-removed Anna Notte albums (her rapping alter ego) and two EP's-worth of "genre-fluid" Synth-Pop-minded material as Pale Spring, as well as a scattered back catalog of material recorded with Baltimore's finest: Jumbled, Joy Postell, Hemlock Ernst AKA Future Islands frontman Sam Herring, JPEGMAFIA, Toyomansi, and made extensive contributions to Drew Scott's recent ILL VESSEL as both Anna Notte and Pale Spring. Wenker has now returned with her second—and might I add, rather progressive—Pale Spring effort, Pale Spring EP2 on which she handled guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, drum programming, vocals, production work, composition, lyric-writing, and recording; while Drew Scott is credited with drum programming, co-production, mixing, and mastering throughout EP2 and was admittedly "just in the room sometimes." Pale Spring EP2 is now available to stream and download on both Bandcamp and Soundcloud with proceeds benefiting Baltimore Youth Arts.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Synth-Pop/Pop Art Enthusiast

I. What was your typical writing, recording, and production process like behind your Pale Spring EP2? Soundcloud credits you (Emily) as providing vocals, guitar, synthesizer, keyboards, drum programming, lyrics, composition, co-production, and recording; Drew Scott is additionally credited with mixing, "some drum programming," and co-production throughout.

To be honest, it varies from song to song. I feel like I have a really disorganized way of making music; the only constant in my song-writing process is that I'll usually write, like, five songs that I spend tons of time on, then trash them because I think they’re bad... for whatever reason. Then, I make one song that I like that will only take me two hours start to finish. Then, I do it over again. Like "Waiting Time," for example, I was just messing around and finished that in a day. "Suffer Soft" was the same [scenario]. I was proud of a drum pattern I did and then, just thought it would be cool to use my voice, as if it were a synth and then, just made the entire song around that. I also really like finding weird ambient sounds on The Internet to put under my beats, like storms, wind, people who think they’re hearing UFO's, but it's probably just the sound of tectonic plates moving, etc. When I’m stuck and don't know what to do for the drums, I just hand it over to Drew and I'm like, "here, I'm going for weird, minimal, sexy." And then, he does exactly what I was thinking. Then, in post-production we usually sit together and keep coming up with cool ideas for the songs for a while. The other constant is that I almost never have lyrics, before I write the music. That's usually the last part.

II. What would you likely cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while recording Pale Spring EP2? It's credited on your Soundcloud as "Synth-Pop, Experimental, Electronic, Electronic Pop, Indie-Pop, and Indie."

I think I use those tags because I'm hoping that people who typically might like those genres could potentially vibe with my music. I don't like the idea of fitting into a genre. I hate answering the question, "what is your music like?" I dunno, I just call it Synth-Pop; I don't know if that's accurate or not. The musicians I look up to and respect most are Chelsea Wolfe, Patsy Cline, CocoRosie, Aaliyah, The Knife... all of those artists, in my opinion, defy/defied the bounds of their genres. Although, I'm usually most influenced by my own dreams or by books I've been reading... not so much music.

III. We previously spoke about Pale Spring EP2's "dream-like" lyrical content, which often references both Catholicism and religion. Would you care to further detail these underlying lyrical themes present throughout EP2?

I've had crazy, intense dreams, since I was a kid. I love waking up on Saturday mornings after a night of terrifying dreams and making music. I think that's when I write best... those times I was talking about, when I can make a song in two hours, are almost always under these circumstances. I reference Catholicism and religion a lot, but I was never Catholic or religious. I'm Italian, so my family definitely pretends to be Catholic, at least for funeral mass. One of my parents was an English teacher and was raised Catholic, though. I grew up in a very literature-based household. I think for this reason, I've always loved examining Biblical archetypes within texts. I think that these allusions, while perhaps, overdone within literature, are really strong and effective symbols for burden and self-sabotage. I've definitely carried that into my own writing. This album is not about faith, at all. It’s about how "blessings" can often be distractions and how the great burden of life is surely the personal battle between good and evil.

IV. How would you say your overall sound, style, approach, etc. has grown and progressed since Pale Spring EP2's 2016 predecessor, Pale Spring EP(1)?

I've definitely learned how to use the TC-Helicon to my advantage since the self-titled [EP]... I listen back to that album and I'm like, "wow, I could have toned it back a bit." I think I'm more confident about my singing, too. Maybe. I go back-and-forth on that one. My stuff is less guitar-driven on this EP. That isn't necessarily the direction I'm going in, though. I still don't want to fit into a genre. I still feel like I'm just messing around and figuring out what I'm doing. Overall, I can say that I definitely have a lot more fun with music than I used to. I used to make a song and like, sh*t on myself over it for hours. I don't do that anymore. I actually really like making music now. I think coming from a classical music background, kind of trained me to sh*t on myself. It took me almost a decade to get over that.

V. You mentioned you have a video for EP2 track "Proud of Your Poison" coming sometime in September. Now, would you mind going a bit into its overall concept and background?

I am very excited about the video. It's directed by Jeff Rettberg, who works on House of Cards; he was responsible for JPEGMAFIA’s videos "The Southern Strategy" and "I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump." I want it to be a bit of a surprise, but I can say that I gave Jeff complete artistic control to do whatever he wanted and it's going to be awesome. Jeff and Elena, who is his film partner and wife, worked with this amazing artist Jeffrey Gangwisch to make me into 3-D printed action figures, which are going to be filmed within a model of decimating landscapes... might just have to wait and see it. I know as little as you do, honestly haha.

VI. I remember a while back, @DrewciferScott mentioned something about collecting Pale Spring EP2 left-overs and re-using them as "samples" on his/your future releases; would you mind going into that potential concept a bit? Sounds like a pretty interesting and practical idea!

"Practical" is definitely the word. He has an arsenal of like, at least 20 songs that I made, while trying to finish this album, which I encourage him to just flip into a beat. I'll make a bunch of songs and be like, "I hate this. You can strip the synth pattern off, if you want." Two hours later, he's make a sick beat from it and I'm like... "sh*t!" He’s coming out with a Pop project eventually, too and has used some of the EP2 left-overs for that. Of course, he totally messes with them and makes them their own thing. Sometimes, you need a new set of eyes/ears on a song that just isn't working. He can literally make a beat from anything. Like, I took a joke video of him slapping a giant 40lb. block of cheese the other day... now, he's f**king using it as an Industrial sample. He doesn't even know how insanely creative he is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to Fail at Everything: A Practical Guide for Coasting Through Life... Author Free Tillman Unleashes Tidal-era Fiona Apple & J Dilla Mash-up Mixtape, Red Dillicious (self-released)

"This project came together organically. I had just bought some new equipment and wasn't really comfortable with my drum sounds, so I decided to loop someone else's... and who has better drums than J Dilla? I was looking for samples from my music collection and came across Fiona Apple's Tidal," beat-maker, writer, and social media personality Free (Lee) Tillman wrote within a recent email. "Throughout my life, I have been a recording engineer, a journalist, a rapper, a stand-up comedian, and a music video director. And I have had recognizable success in exactly zero of those things," Tillman writes within the Amazon description to his 2016 Kindle book, How to Fail at Everything: A Practical Guide for Coasting Through Life. On his Soundcloud page, Lee Tillman simply proclaims: "I make videos, I take pictures, I write Tweets, I write books," complete with links to his various platforms. Red Dillicious is billed as, "Dilla Drums + Fiona Apple Piano = Red Dillicious" and in addition to J Dilla and Fiona Apple samples, features intertwined vocal snippets from TV shows like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Search Party, Comedy Bang! Bang! and Documentary Now! While it's currently unspecified as to where the Dilla drums breaks were sourced, Tillman used nine tracks from Fiona Apple's critically-acclaimed 1996 debut, Tidal—with the exception of opener "Sleep to Dream" ("Sleep")—as well as Apple's Blake Mills-produced "Container" penned for Showtime's 2014 drama series, The Affair. It ends up sounding like something to the effect of an imagined Dirty Projectors album produced by ?uestlove and Soulquarians off-shoot The Ummah AKA J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest's Q-Tip & Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Red Dillicious, as well as Free Tillman's 30-track follow-up PRIMO, is currently available on Soundcloud and Bandcamp on a Name-Your-Price basis.

"I've been a fan of hers since that album debuted in '96. I always loved her piano playing and how she used her voice, so I knew I could find some great sounds. First, I chopped up the piano from her solo at the end of "Sleep to Dream." It sounded pretty good, so I moved on to the next song. I looped up the next Dilla drum track and thought to myself, "I can't just keep sampling Dilla;" then, I thought again, "what if ALL I did was sample Dilla?" I though about a mixtape Black Milk put out a couple years ago called Music from The Color Purple, where he used nothing but Prince records. So, as an exercise, I tried to make a beat from every song from Tidal using nothing but J Dilla drum beats. In the end, the first song I made didn't make the cut, but I felt like everything else was worth sharing, so threw it up on Bandcamp and other people seem to like it, too. Go figure."

- Free (Lee) Tillman

Monday, August 14, 2017

Roughneck Jihad Talks New Album The Wretched of The Verse, Orchids & Corpses Re-release, The Current State of "Mumble Rap," Top 10 Emcees & The Wretched Producers (The Witzard Interview)

While he still might be a relatively unknown "underground emcee," Roughneck Jihad—formerly known as Jihad The Roughneck MC—has been spittin' fresh rhymes since high school, 1988; over the years, he's formed countless Hip-Hop crews including Un Cut Poets, Third Sight with DJ Du Funk, Smooth Tone, and D-Styles, The Incredible Torture Show (T.I.T.S.) with Trailer Trasher & Maestro Gamin, The Language Mechanics with Insomniac & Raggedy Andy, The Tarantula Brothers with DJ Du Funk, Disco Sinisto with Turin, Italy-based producer IL Torsolo, newly-formed Echoes of Oratory Music, The Darc Bros. and currently runs label imprint Disgruntled Sounds. There's also a vinyl and cassette re-release of Third Sight's 2016 Orchids & Corpses compilation album originally recorded to 4-track between 1993-96 scheduled for this upcoming September. Aside from his just-released second solo album, The Wretched of The Verse (A Microphone Murderer's Extended-play Response to Unabridged Wackness In Hip-Hop Music Today) Roughneck Jihad is currently working on anywhere from 8-10 additional projects with a wide array of beat-minded collaborators including, but not limited to those listed above.

Prior to its August 3rd release, I've heard at least two versions of Roughneck Jihad's The Wretched of The Verse through various stages of completion and I can assure you, it's one Hell of a single-emcee Hip-Hop album! Jihad collected hard-as-nails beats from the likes of Abomination, Pryvet Peep Sho, Waxsmith, Frank John James, and BOOKS1. I would say The Wretched is stylistically reminiscent of Sean Price's Mic Tyson, Madlib & DOOM's MADVILLAINY, Wu-Tang Clan, and DOOM's Danger Mouse-produced [adult swim]-themed THE MOUSE AND THE MASK. I've been speaking with Juan (Roughneck Jihad) over the course of the past few months through The Wretched of The Verse's various stages of completion and as a quasi-follow-up to our previous The Wretched Sampler breakdown, he was kind enough to sit down with The Witzard for a comprehensive 10-question interview, which you can now peruse through below, while streaming Roughneck's new album. The Wretched of The Verse is currently available to purchase in a number of limited edition formats: 300 gold vinyl LP's available on German-based EXPANDED ART RECORDS, 100 cassette tapes, and of course, unlimited $12 digital albums all available from Jihad The Roughneck MC's Bandcamp page.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Saturday Morning Cartoon Enthusiast

I. What was your intended message behind sub-titling The Wretched of The Verse: "A Microphone Murderer's Extended-play Response to Unabridged Wackness In Hip-Hop Music Today?" Who exactly, if anyone, is that particular statement aimed towards?

The sub-titling was a creation of the cover artist Raggedy Andy and he was simply riffing off of the book cover of The Wretched of The Earth by [Frantz] Fanon. He needed to change the words a bit to make it fit the mood and direction of the LP. We have been working together since before E. Pluribus and he knows I hate wack emcees, so it all worked out. He didn't have any particular emcee in mind, as far as I know. The industry is full of wackness in Mainstream Rap, but it's always been that way for generations.

II. The Wretched of The Verse has an underlying Hanna-Barbera cartoon-type feel and vaguely reminds me of Sean Price's Mic Tyson, MADVILLAIN's MADVILLAINY, DANGERDOOM's THE MOUSE AND THE MASK, etc. How intentional (or unintentional) was this running "Saturday morning cartoon"-evoking feel?

The cartoon sample has long been an element in the producer's repertoire. DOOM and Ghostface [Killah] went hard on the cartoon samples. Men of our age grew up on cartoons, so those samples bring back those days of our youth. Only real heads can pick out the source material they come from. It takes some digging. [Pryvet] Peep Sho is younger than the rest of us, but he's a true comic book cartoon nerd, which is evident on the tracks "Phantom," "Toys," and "Blowhard." He tries to keep the listener guessing what he used and how he flipped it. Nobody has figured it out yet. The other producers did not use cartoons.

III. Who exactly hand-crafted and produced the various beats showcased throughout The Wretched of The Verse and how did you initially go about contacting and attaining beats from said producers?

There are five producers on The Wretched: Pryvet Peep Sho, Waxsmith, and BOOKS1, who also did tracks on Third Sight IV. The two new-comers are Frank John James and Abom 1. I met Peep Sho years ago through The Ruckazoid and we have been recording since 2012. He gave me a beat CD back then and we just connected. We had done a few different songs along the way; he did "Jeepers" on Chillin' and "Nerd" and "Cuckold Crush" on IV. We have many unreleased songs other than the five on this LP. Waxsmith used to DJ for a good friend of mine, Nate Mezmer. He sent me some beats, which I really liked and we have been working together [ever] since. BOOKS1, I linked up with through my mix engineer, Jerry D. He is a protege of DJ Hen Boogie from The Derelicts. We have a few mutual friends. I met Frank John James through Clockwize. He's part of the Echoes of Oratory [Muzik] crew that took me in. He gave me a super-soulful beat CD at a show. He has hundreds of beats, I just picked a few and ran with it. Finally, I met Abomination through my homeboy and rhyme partner, Maestro Gamin and he was kind enough to slide me some tracks. I met them all through my network.

IV. In addition to The Wretched of The Verse, what else are you currently working on that may see an eventual release within the coming months; any projects of particular note?

The main projects arriving this year after The Wretched are Orchids & Corpses and The Tarantula Brothers. Orchids is already available for digital download on my Bandcamp, but we did a deal a couple years back with Omar at Sanctimonious Records for a physical release. So, we're dropping the songs on an EP, 7-inch, and cassette tapes pretty soon. Tarantula Brothers, my LP with DJ Du Funk is being mixed now, but might not be out until January.

V. What exactly is the tentative release schedule for The Wretched of The Verse in its various formats? I know you had previously mentioned it will be available on vinyl, cassette, and digital album formats.

The digital download is out now. The vinyl and tapes will be out at the end of August.

VI. Now, did you make an intentional decision to keep The Wretched of The Verse a one emcee and a microphone-style album with absolutely NO features? Let's just say you had and unlimited budget and unlimited means... who would you ideally, get for features, producers, etc. on The Wretched?

Sometimes, a producer just wants you on a track. Unless they tell me otherwise, I don't feel at liberty to add guests. It just kinda turned out that way with these tracks. I have a bucket list of people I'd like to work with in the future. If I could pay them, I'd do it now: DJ Premier, DOOM, Breezly Brewin, Scaramanga, Rakim, Wu-Tang Clan, Saafir, Gift of Gab, Myka 9, Jehst, Sylabil Spill, [André] 3000, [Pharoahe] Monch—a huge list, really.

VII. Do you have any current plans to release any additional singles, music videos, 7-inch singles, etc. during The Wretched's initial album roll-out phase?

We are definitely going to do some videos for The Wretched real soon. I'm working on that now.

VIII. What would you say were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while writing and recording The Wretched of The Verse?

The Wretched songs were not conceived as a single project and they were recorded over a period of years. The beats are what inspires me the most. I go off of the producers' creativity and see where that takes me, for the most part.

IX. What's the current status of Third Sight, Tarantula Brothers, The Incredible Torture Show (T.I.T.S.) Foul Mouth Cringe, and any of your additional pre-existing groups? Can we expect to see releases from any of them any time relatively soon?

The only projects that are sure to drop soon are Orchids [& Corpses], Tarantula [Brothers], and Disco Sinistro [EP with IL Torsolo]. I hope all of them see the light of day, but collaborative efforts need to fire on all cylinders to get finished. Disco Sinistro and Juan Sequitur will be coming in 2018. The Torture Show (T.I.T.S.) is dead in the water and there will be no more music from that group.

X. What is your opinion on the current state of Hip-Hop and "Mumble Rap?'" Who are your Top 10 Favorite Rappers today?

I think that the term "Mumble Rap" is a little harsh. I know some of these new emcees mumble through freestyles but that's not why some of their songs seem so unintelligible. Auto-Tune is the main culprit that makes them hard to understand. They have their own jargon and they are essentially, rebelling against more complex forms of rhyming. They have taken to extreme minimalism and unlike emcees before them, they do not have any positive progressive messages or humor to their songs. Major and mid-major labels that sign these acts are not investing much money into the current acts and as a result, they cannot sample or hire bands. Their music is often badly played on keyboards to save money. Terrestrial and digital radio are not acting as gate-keepers or quality controllers. Whatever sells gets the spotlight and the underground is truly "underground" now, more than ever. They have taken party music to the extreme and they have unprecedented access to the infrastructure. Fans of real Hip-Hop have to dig, not only at stores, but online, in order to find the music they like the best. This is the price of this new form of Rap being mainstreamed. I like to call it "Fast Food Rap" because you consume it and it passes through you faster than a Taco Bell taco and then, you wipe your a$$ and move on. It seems each generation is growing up on increasingly simplistic, destructive anti-social styles of Rap. When I started all those years ago, I had superior role models to emulate, but the youth have grown up on lesser emcees. Some of them, too young to even remember Biggie Smalls and it has been downhill since his passing. There are some stand-out younger emcees out there like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and A.F.R.O. but they are the outliers in a sea of people who shun lyricism and embrace singing Auto-Tune and über-simplicity. My Top 10 emcees right now is tough; I like a lot of emcees back in their primes, but I haven't liked their more recent releases: 1. MF DOOM, 2. Ghostface [Killah], 3. Rakim, 4. Big Daddy Kane, 5. Kool G. Rap, 6. Kool Keith, 7. KRS-One, 8. Del [The Funky Homosapien], 9. Nas, and 10. [Pharoahe] Monch.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman Return with Third Lice "Infestation" TRIPLE FAT LICE EP & Homeboy Sandman-penned Triple Fat Lice Poem (Stones Throw/Rhymesayers Ent.)

Triple Fat Lice (Poem) By: Homeboy Sandman

"Triple Fat Lice is similar to Die Hard with a Vengeance in that it is a part 3 that gets very busy. It's also like A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 3 [Dream Warriors] in that regard the dream warriors kicking Freddy’s a$$ with all their special powers.

Triple Fat Lice is not at all like Halloween III [Season of The Witch] that didn't even have Michael Myers in it and was about roaches or something I don’t even really know. It might have been a great Horror movie, in it's own right, but I was so appalled Michael Myers wasn't even in it. Triple Fat Lice is also nothing at all like Beverly Hills Cop III which to me was almost like sacrilege but no disrespect that’s just my own personal opinion.

Even though Back to The Future Part III and Terminator 3 [Rise of The Machines] are not as sensational as Triple Fat Lice (something they share in common with every other movie in this poem as well as everything else that has ever existed) I feel like they get a bad rap. Seemed like people didn't give Back to The Future Part III a chance because they were put off by the old west setting just like people for whatever reason don't give Westerns in general a chance even though there are definitely some amazing Westerns (including but not limited to The Outlaw Josey Wales, Bone Tomahawk, and 3:10 to Yuma.) [Aesop Rock] actually put me on to Bone Tomahawk which we agree is fantastic even though we often disagree on films particularly on the Mad Max [Fury Road] that just came out with Tom Hardy I love Tom Hardy but that sh*t was so absurdly boring to me with the exception of that scene where he fights Charlize Theron which was early in the movie so I got hyped like the rest was going to be good but then basically the rest of the movie was a bunch of scenes that were exactly the same. To me.

In closing, my father thinks that The Godfather Part III gets a bad rap because it exposes corruption in The Vatican and that may be true but I actually authentically just don't find it as good as the first two. Andy Garcia is hard [though].

Triple Fat Lice."

Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock have returned with the third installment of their ongoing Lice series, TRIPLE FAT LICE EP on Stones Throw/Rhymesayers Ent; released just shy of a year after Lice 2: Still Buggin' TRIPLE FAT LICE features production from Israeli beat-maker Cohenbeats, Oh No (Madlib's brother,) Ben Boogz of 2 Hungry Bros. Mello Music Group rapper-producer Quelle Chris, and All That I Hold Dear producer M Slago. TRIPLE FAT LICE EP is currently available to stream and download, as usual, for FREE from Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman's Lice Bandcamp page. Although, they strongly suggest, "should you feel inspired to cough up some dough after receiving the gift of digital song free of charge, here are some places we've mentioned in the past that could use your help: Maritime Youth Alliance, CITIZENS OF SKATEISTAN, City Harvest, and PREP for PREP." Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's TRIPLE FAT LICE is additionally available for pre-order in vinyl format from Stones Throw and Rhymesayers' Fifth Element web-store; TRIPLE FAT LICE AKA Lice 3 is available in either single-LP format or 3-LP "Lice Pack" containing Lice EP, Lice 2: Still Buggin' and TRIPLE FAT LICE. Rhymesayers & Stones Throw vinyl pre-orders are expected to ship by or before October 27th and come with immediate digital download upon purchasing. Not to "too my own horn" or anything (well, maybe a little) but feel free to scroll back up to the top of this very post and ch-check out a nifty little side-by-side edit I did of TRIPLE FAT LICE's Jeremy Fish-designed EP cover and his apparent inspiration, Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 album, Sounds of Silence.

Friday, August 11, 2017

GRAMMY-nominated Wiz Khalifia, Yo Gotti & T.I. Producer & Song-writer David Versis Unleashes "Made for Me" from Forthcoming EP (self-released)

"'Made for Me" was actually one of the last tracks I added to the EP I hope to release later this year. I remember walking into the studio and hearing Mikhail (my producer) messing around with two different cuts of the same sample. One was very down-tempo and in the pocket, while the other felt lively with a real bounce to it. We went back-and-forth, debating which of the two we rocked with the most, but couldn't justify separating the sounds," Canadian rapper, producer, and song-writer David Versis wrote within a recent email. Upon first hearing his latest single, "Made for Me," I wrote a quick, semi-tongue-in-cheek "review" on Twitter which read: "'Made for Me" sounds like John Mayer meets Drake and it's actually pretty awesome!" Versis is a GRAMMY-nominated producer, who contributed to Wiz Khalifia's 2014 album, Blacc Hollywood and produced Yo Gotti & T.I.'s collaborative single, "King Sh*t." David Versis has recently been transitioning into becoming a featured, top-billing artist in his own right; quietly releasing a string of Mikhail-produced singles over the course of the past month including "Invictus," "Touch Yourself," "Totally," and now, "Made for Me." In addition to sounding like something to the effect of a stylistic mix between John Mayer and fellow Canadian Drake, I would liken David Versis' sound to recluse Jai Paul's Electro-Pop stylings, soulful crooner Frank Ocean, and sharp spitter Pusha T with a cadence and swagger reminiscent of Kung-Fu Kenny AKA Kendrick Lamar. David Versis' debut EP is expected to be released before year's end.

"We started arranging the beat and joked around about how nonsensical it would be to start with one vibe and abruptly switch to the next, but the more we played it back, the more we fell in love with it. I began writing and immediately knew I wanted the song to be as blatant as the beat was. The record felt like a love song, but I didn’t want it to be filled with all the subtle nuances and metaphors found in most loved songs. I wanted it to be stripped, direct, and to the point. It’s not hard to find songs with lyrics that shoot game to females or even love songs drenched in overly emotional tones, so I set out to make a song that feels smooth but is punctuated with a transparent proclamation, "Made for Me." Even though it was the last song added to the EP, I feel "Made for Me" really encompasses what my team [and I] set out to accomplish with this body of work, which was to take listeners on a playful ride with soundscapes constantly changing and with each track differing from the next."

- David Versis

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Rocky, iLL-Omega, Alien & Adam Politis Present: Rocky's House Podcast Episodes #1-2 with Special Guests DJ Say Whaat, DJ It's Just Ahmad & Punk-Rap Emcee Ray Strife (Cap City Ent.)

Darnell "iLL-Omega" Storey (@illomega) is a friend and frequent collaborator of The Witzard; he hand-crafted the beats for Ray Strife's recent The Witzard-premiered Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP, he's one half of rapper-producer duo A Mankind Complex, founder of Trenton-based label Cap City Ent. and recently assembled a producer-selected Beat-maker Bedrock playlist. iLL-Omega's latest endeavor is Rocky's House Podcast hosted by Cap City Ent. signee and collaborator Rocky (@rockythepromoter.) Alongside Rocky & iLL-Omega, Rocky's House Podcast's panel of co-hosts additionally features Hip-Hop artists and lyricist Alien (@bonafied_alien) and Princeton-bred improv actor and comedian Adam Politis (@smokinpolitis) as well as a variety of special guests on each month's episode. Rocky himself describes Rocky's House Podcast as a unique online platform wherein they're able to "shed light on local/mainstream Hip-Hop music, art, and events and also discuss the cultures that drive society then and now." Rocky's House Podcast's inaugural July episode featured guests DJ Say Whaat & DJ It's Just Ahmad discussing JAY-Z's latest culture-rattling album 4:44, the growth of Hip-Hop, and what made them initially get into DJ'ing, as well as a rundown of upcoming events.

For Rocky's House Podcast Episode 2, Rocky, iLL-Omega, Alien & Adam Politis invited fellow Trenton Punk-Rap emcee Ray Strife into "their house." Strife and the Rocky's House Gang discussed a wide array of topics including Crust Punk, Juggalos, iLL-Omega-produced Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP, how Ray first got into rapping, high school teachers, and upcoming tours and events. Rocky's House Podcast's third episode is expected to be released at the beginning of September and can be streamed and thoroughly enjoyed on iLL-Omega's CapCity TV YouTube channel, as well as Rocky's House Podcast's 5-star Facebook page. Rocky's House Podcast's contributors Instagram handles, as well as a number of recent projects, are linked through this very post, in addition to CapCity TV's channel. If for whatever reasons, you're not into the video version, Rocky's House Podcast Episode 1 is also available in strictly audio format on Cap City Ent.'s Soundcloud page, where future episodes will be uploaded, as they're released.

Monday, August 7, 2017

"THE TIME OF DOOM IS AT HAND, ONCE AGAIN:" [adult swim] Announce 15-week THE MISSING NOTEBOOK RHYMES & Unleash Sean Price-helmed "Negus" (CRUMMIE BEATS Exclusive)

"Well, the track was inspired by one of the original titles to Sean's album. He was going to name the album NIGGLETUS! at first, so I was going off that vibe. When we were making the beat, I wanted to make something that could stand next to "Bar-Barian" (which is one of my favorite songs by Sean.) That track is one of, if not the first, track he recorded for the album... we had no idea that DOOM would end up on it," one half of Crumzville, VA-based production team CRUMMIE BEATS, Fonkstarr, wrote within a recent email. Fonkstarr & .45, collectively billed as CRUMMIE BEATS, produced five tracks included within Brooklyn emcee Sean Price's posthumous fourth album, Imperius Rex. The track in question, "Negus" AKA "Notebook 00 - Negus," is the first release from [adult swim]'s just-launched THE MISSING NOTEBOOK RHYMES weekly series; essentially, between now and 11.14.2017, [adult swim] & Gas Drawls will be collectively unleashing "15 STRAIGHT WEEKS OF ALL NEW DOOM JAMS." "Negus" is just the first of what [adult swim] Senior Vice President & Creative Director Jason DeMarco has dubbed the return of the Metal Faced Villain "featuring all sorts of special guests"—as well as an unspecified DOOM & Jay Electronica collaboration, as part of [adult swim]'s annual, newly-extended 52-week 2017 singles series.

"These missing notebooks were last seen at the METALFACE [Records] LA office, when DOOM was denied entry into the US seven years ago. If you have any information on the whereabouts of these notebooks, please contact," DOOM. ALL CAPS. (@gasdrawls) cryptically wrote within a recent Instagram post. THE MISSING NOTEBOOK RHYMES, which after November 14th, may or may not be re-packaged as a proper full-length "album," will be DOOM's first solo release since his 2009 Lex Records album, Born Like This, not counting Keys to The Kuffs as JJ DOOM with Jneiro Jarel (2012) and NehruvianDOOM with rapper-producer Bishop Nehru (2014.) "We met Sean P in LA few years back; gave him a beat CD at a Raekwon show. He liked what he heard and reached out to us... unfortunately, soon after, we lost contact. A friend of ours knew Illa Ghee and put us in contact... we started doing songs with Ghee, who happened to know Sean Price. He heard what we did with Illa Ghee [and] asked us to send him some beats... we emailed them at 9PM [and by] 4AM [the] next day, he sent us two songs. It was on from there," .45 AKA RASZ KING of CRUMMIE BEATS wrote within an email. "Negus" is now available to stream, via [adult swim]'s newly-launched THE MISSING NOTEBOOK RHYMES playlist site. DOOM's second release will drop next week, Wednesday, August 16th and will continue through November 14th. Sean Price's long-awaited posthumous album, Imperius Rex is now available in a number of formats from his former label home, Duck Down Music Inc. "We did five songs on Imperius Rex and still have more unreleased songs with Sean Price. All the songs were recorded from Jan. 2014-July 2015," .45 continued.

Members of Swedish Hardcore Bands HERÄTYS, INSTITUTION, TOTALITÄR, Infernöh, Stress SS & Damaged Head Form KATASTROF & Release 7-inch (Beach Impediment/Adult Crash Records)

"For starters: KATASTROF is a Swedish Punk band and this is our debut 7-inch. Started as a solo project from HERÄTYS/INSTITUTION guitarist Martin, but ended up as a band in the beginning of 2017. Poffen from TOTALITÄR is doing the vocals and they recorded this 7-inch on their own, but to be able to do shows and make more music, a drummer and bass player [have] been recruited. 7-inch is out on Beach Impediment [Records] in the US and Adult Crash in Europe," KATASTROF bass player Oscar d' Aubigne recently wrote, via email. It appears as though KATASTROF's four members—D' Aubigne and drummer Jonas Silverå were added later—have previously played together in a number of Swedish Hardcore bands: founding guitarist Martin Lindqvist and drummer Jonas Silverå played together in HERÄTYS. Jonas, Martin, and frontman Poffen AKA Per-Olof Frimodig were all in INSTITUTION. Poffen's TOTALITÄR was "definitely a big influence" on Martin's pre-KATASTROF 2010-12 band, HERÄTYS. Jonas additionally drums with Infernöh, Horrendous, and solo project Stress SS, while bassist Oscar d' Aubigne plays bass with Adult Crash-signed Swedish Hardcore/Punk act Damaged Head.

If pressed, I would likely compare KATASTROF's blood-curdling output to the likes of Minor Threat, Fugazi, Henry Rollins-era Black Flag, The Misfits/Samhain, and DC-based Discord Records; although, while there really seems to be a burgeoning Swedish Hardcore scene, I honestly can't say I've ever heard anything like KATASTROF's self-titled 7-inch. Oscar d' Aubigne was kind enough to translate KATASTROF's 7-inch titles from Swedish to English: A1 "Falska Leenden" AKA "Fake Smiles," A2 "Förvridna Grin" AKA "Twisted Grins," B1 "Bryt Bort Hakarna" AKA "Break Away The Hooks," B2 "Sista Dagen" AKA "The Last Day," and B3 "Landskap I Mörker" AKA "Landscape In Darkness." d' Aubigne additionally told The Witzard KATASTROF's newly-formed four-piece plans to "try to record and LP this Fall or Winter, but nothing is booked yet" and says they intend to "start doing shows early next year," as they're all members of other bands, have their own families, hectic work schedules, and live in different cities. KATASTROF's self-titled 5-track 7-inch/digital EP is now available for purchase on Beach Impediment Records (through Sorry State) here in the US and Adult Crash in Europe.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Darko The Super Assembles Beat-maker Bedrock #8 to Coincide with One Day-only Watered Down Demon Fuzz Pre-sale Benefiting Transgender Law Center (Personal Archives x Bandcamp)

"Hey, what's up? I'm Darko The Super AKA Doc Heller, an Experimental Hip-Hop artist from Philadelphia, by way of Jupiter. These are a few albums that have influenced my production [work]. There's much more, but these were the ones I found easiest to write about. Obviously, Frank Zappa is the greatest musician of all time and has affected me in greater ways than just sonically, but I found it too difficult to choose just one of his albums to mention from his massive catalog. Also, Camu Tao's King of Hearts (2010) was on my list, but I couldn't think up something good enough to do it justice. Anyway, here's my Beat-maker Bedrock."

Charles Hamilton - My Brain Is Alive mixtape (2009)

"Charles Hamilton's my favorite producer and an artist who doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves for influencing a whole generation of rappers. Out of the 200 or so albums he's released, I chose My Brain Is Alive to highlight; this was the album I'd listen to on the way to high school everyday. It's the first of his that I heard and really connected with and gravitated towards. Some others of his I should mention are At Most I'm Just, a project he did sampling Incubus. As well as This Perfect Life, which was meant to be his first major label release. Plenty of others I could say, my main point being is no one has influenced my production more than Charles, besides my early obsession with J Dilla. My favorite track from this particular album is the opening, "Pleasantly Over-thinking." I once did my own version to his beat very early on, before I was "Darko The Super.'"

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty (1998)

"This is my favorite album by the greatest Rap group of all time, the Beastie Boys. My favorite tracks are "Super-Disco Breakin'" and "Intergalactic," which happens to be my favorite music video, too. I had one corporate job in my life, I worked overnights at Kohl's one holiday season. This was the album I listened to every night [while] there. Especially, "Song for The Man." This is a Solid Gold Hip-Hop classic, nothing will ever match it. I wish I could make beats like these, this is the standard I strive for, but will never reach and I'm alright with that."

Kool Keith - Black Elvis/Lost In Space (1999)

"This is the album that stands out the most to me in Kool Keith's extensive catalog. It's a perfect album, minus the Sadat X feature ["Static"]. "Super-galactic Lover" is a beautiful masterpiece. This is the album that makes Kool Keith the greatest. Mathew (2000) was the first album of his I really loved, but Black Elvis is his magnum opus, in my opinion. He's a master of the game in The Rapping Hall of Fame."

Del The Funky Homosapien - Golden Era (2011)

"Del's Funk Man and Automatik Statik came out in 2009, but I didn't hear of those albums until they were packaged with Golden Era in 2011. These three are my favorite Del albums; an artist I consider to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. The production [work] on these albums are drowned in Funk. Every song's a hit, but my favorite has to be "Sometimes I Gotta Get Stupid." One of my favorite beats ever, the synth melts me into ooze every time. No one has more style than Del."

Since we last spoke with Darko The Super here at The Witzard, he's released DEVO-themed Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Darko! it's all down south from here (tour tape) with road dogs ialive and Torito, compiled his BUMMER EVERY SUMMER instrumental mixtape as Doc Heller, and unleashed Return to The Hell Hole Store with ialive on Already Dead Tapes. Now, Darko's back with the next sick and twisted beat-laden chapter of his never-ending tale, Watered Down Demon Fuzz on Bob Bucko Jr.'s Personal Archives imprint. Along with Shabazz Palaces and Daniel Johnston's rather eclectic output and a Beck-penned poem with Mellow Gold's CD insert, Personal Archives founder Bob Bucko Jr. was a major influence on Darko and is even sampled throughout Watered Down Demon Fuzz. While Watered Down Demon Fuzz won't become widely available until August 26th, Darko The Super & Personal Archives have joined forces with Bandcamp to make $6 cassettes exclusively available for one day only, today, Friday, August 4th; "on Friday, Bandcamp is donating their cut of sales to the Transgender Law Center. Personal Archives will donate their sales to the Transgender Law Center, as well as the Dubuque Rescue Mission. So, if you buy one $6 tape, Bob [Bucko Jr.] will send $6 to the Transgender Law Center and $6 to the Dubuque Rescue Mission. Let's take care of each other!" @DarkoTheSuper wrote on Twitter and Facebook Thursday afternoon. Watered Down Demon Fuzz is now available as an exclusive one-day special and will become widely available on Personal Archives this upcoming August 25th.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Amerigo Gazaway Reunites "Black America Again" Collaborators Common & Stevie Wonder On "The Sixth Superstition" from A Common Wonder (Soul Mates Project)

"Stevie Wonder's early use of synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers, in a lot of ways, paved the way for Hip-Hop and sampling. Part of my motivation for this project was to highlight those contributions," Nashville-based producer Amerigo Gazaway proclaimed within a recent press release. Gazaway is, of course, the genre-bending producer and remixer behind critically-acclaimed mash-up albums—are people still calling them "mash-ups?"—such as Yasiin Gaye: The Departure and The Return (Yasiin Bey FKA Mos Def & Marvin Gaye,) Fela Soul (Fela Kuti & De La Soul,) B​.​B. & The Underground Kingz: The Trill Is Gone (B.B. King & UGK,) Bizarre Tribe: A Quest to The Pharcyde, and more like-minded projects. It would appear as though Amerigo Gazaway is likely referring to Stevie Wonder's beloved and world-renown string of seven "classic period" albums released between 1970-76, which Rolling Stone readily admits "pioneered stylistic approaches that helped to determine the shape of Pop music for the next decade." RS's 2003-compiled 500 Greatest Albums of All Time countdown included four of Wonder's seven 70's albums with three cracking the Top 90. Late Registration-era Kanye had this to say back in 2005: "I'm not trying to compete with what's out there now. I'm really trying to compete with Innervisions and Songs In The Key of Life. It sounds musically blasphemous to say something like that, but why not set that as your bar?"

Common, formerly Common Sense, is the timeless alias of "Conscious" rapper-actor and Soulquarian Lonnie Lynn, Jr. who in addition to be a critically-acclaimed rapper and positive role model, has appeared alongside fellow thespians within films such as Smokin' Aces, American Gangster, Terminator Salvation, Selma, Suicide Squad, and was notoriously cast as Green Lantern in DC Comics' since-abandoned 2009 film Justice League: Mortal. For his proper album-length follow-up to 2015's B​.​B. & The Underground Kingz: The Trill Is Gone, Amerigo Gazaway has decided to painstakingly mash-up and sonically juxtapose Common's "The 6th Sense" from Like Water for Chocolate and Stevie Wonder's timeless Motown single "Superstition" from Talking Book as cleverly-titled "The Sixth Superstition." "Amerigo brings his imagined recording session to life with a slew of uncovered resources (including multi-track instrument stems, interview audio, and documentary soundbites.) Re-orchestrating deconstructed samples, the producer inter-weaves Common's vivid wordplay and Wonder's passionate vocals for a project that blurs the line between a "mash-up" and a modern day "duets" album," taking stylistic cues from Common & Stevie Wonder's "Black America Again" from Lonnie Lynn's 2016 Karriem Riggins-produced album. Though a proper release date has yet to be confirmed, it appear as though Amerigo Gazaway is currently assembling an album-length collaboration, fittingly titled A Common Wonder, displayed within the project's "official teaser" video; I have a feeling this one's gonna be a doozy and I seriously can't wait to hear what Amerigo Gazaway & The Soul Mates have cooked up this go-'round!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Uncommon Nasa Assembles Beat-maker Bedrock #7 & Sits Down for The Witzard Interview On The Eve of Self-produced Written at Night (Man Bites Dog Records)

"I could easily talk about how loud I blasted [Public Enemy's] Fear of a Black Planet (1990) daily from my Yorx Entertainment System in junior high or pumped [Company Flow's] "8 Steps to Perfection" (1996) and everything else recorded from my Stretch & Bobbito tapes in the Burger King kitchen, after closing time during my shifts or dip into how DJ Premier made beats that were completely abstract, but made them instant norms by nature of his talent. But, in truth, when I sit and make a beat, I don't feel the influence of other Hip-Hop producers too heavily anymore, even less than I feel when I write rhymes. I've settled into something pretty original, not without influence, but kind of it's own thing, for better or worse. So, what I'd rather talk about is my relationship with Progressive Rock music and how it spurned my definition and coining of the term "Progressive Hip-Hop."

I still love some good old Prog-Rock, even though I own almost all the albums I need from the sub-genre on vinyl, these days. That means my influences might come from Tears for Fears, 80's Dancehall, or Gil Scott-Heron more right this minute, but there is always a core need in me reaching out for that Prog. When I was in high school, I didn't understand or enjoy any kind of Rock music. I was strictly Hip-Hop and that was about it. I stuck my foot out into the world of Reggae in high school, but as I finished up an internship in a recording studio at 17, a lot changed. I had been listening to a grip of Indie Hip-Hop from the Fondle 'Em label, like Siah & Yeshua, The Juggaknots, Cenobites, and more. Listening to late night Stretch & Bob on Thursday nights exposed me to the changing sound of Hip-Hop in the underground. Something that was slowly pushing left, while remaining completely authentic to it's origins."

"I had mop and dishes duty at that recording studio in the East Village, and access to a huge stack of the owner's CD's, mostly from groups I'd never heard of. It was here that I discovered Progressive Rock music; in the form of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, Yes, King Crimson, and more. I finally had Rock music that appealed to me. It wasn't the Alternative Rock, grounded in grittiness, I was uncomfortable with until many years later. Progressive Rock was surrealist, it might get to the same feelings, but it took the scenic route and distracted my mind from all the teen angst that other Rock music drove toward. I wanted to think bigger, life and death, the battle for ethics, world power struggles. This was Progressive Rock.

From the moment I dropped the first CD of it into the player, I was hooked. Below, I'll point out a few of my experiences with some of what I think are the key releases that effected, if not my production style, then, certainly my mindset and approach to creating music."


Tarkus By Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1971)

"This is my earliest memory of Prog-Rock and certainly my "WTF?" moment with it. Imagine being a kid that's only real idea of what Rock could do being defined by Nirvana and Pearl Jam, then hearing f***ing THIS. It's a song about a monster of some sort striving to survive in a strange land... or something. It got me through lots of sessions mopping the kitchen floor of that studio, while sessions with Larry Coryell and other luminaries I wasn't familiar with (yet) went on behind closed doors.

Pro Tip: if your local bar has one of those Internet juke boxes and you want to watch people's reactions, select this track and let the hilarity ensue. It's runtime is 22 minutes and change."

Made In England By Atomic Rooster (1972)

"By the time I was in school for Recording Engineering, I was in the early stages of making beats and digging. And I had done tons of research into Progressive Rock. I had drawn the lines of band members that criss-crossed the genre from band to band and the name Atomic Rooster had been associated with Carl Palmer (from Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame above.) As it turned out, Atomic Rooster was Vincent Crane's beast and Carl had left after the first album. Made In England was Atomic Rooster's fourth. I remember digging at this record shop on 8th Street in the West Village [New York] that I didn't go to often. I was so young, like 18, so somehow, it came up that I was looking for samples. I asked about this very LP and the guy harshly said, "nah, there's nothing you'd ever want on there for that." He seemed to hate the idea of me sampling anything, so I bought it anyway. "Time, Take My Life" came on as the first track and blew my mind. I still get chills during the horn section in the beginning and if you click the song below, you'll hear the most lay-up loop ever starts the track. It became the foundation for the first "beat" I ever made on my Yamaha SU-10 sampler. I remember playing it for people at school and getting the "so what?" look. I'd have to learn to do more than have a good ear for loops, I guess."

Journey By Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come (1973)

"By the time I finished Recording School, I was getting pretty savvy and digging deeper. I was a whole year older, at the ripe old age of 19-20, and had started working at the Ozone Studio and I was opening up as the DJ at their events at the awesome and naturally, long-closed Brownie's in the East Village. I was convinced that Company Flow and King Crimson should share a natural head-space; they did for me, so why not for everyone? To that end, I started mixing Prog-Rock and Indie Hip-Hop together at live gigs. Those were fun and inventive times and usually, worked out. One of the songs I used to love starting off with was Arthur Brown's "Time Captives." It starts with a singular repetitive electronic kick. It played long enough that in a live setting people would wonder just what the f**k you were doing up there. Then, the music would begin and heads would nod. Then, I had them!

"Here's a bonus that I found while putting this article together: Arthur Brown performing the track just three years ago in Manchester, UK! Sounds just as good as it did 40 years ago, no doubt. I still want to be Arthur Brown, when I grow up."

"High Rise" By Hawkwind (1979)

"A few years on from those early days of me doing DJ gigs, I was recording and mixing all week and working at my favorite record store, Gimme Gimme Records on weekends, every so often. Most of the time, I worked the register in a one-room store back in the East Village on East 5th Street. Often, I'd also be posting vinyl to eBay in a world before Discogs' dominance. I'd have plenty of time, usually working solo, to explore any album I wanted in the store. I'd heard a lot about Hawkwind, but their sound isn't exactly "Prog." It's been defined as Prog, Pysch, or even Proto-Punk and Proto-Metal in spots. They were incredibly varied in their sound. I didn't list the album "High Rise" was on because my first experience with it was on a live record at the store and this track has landed on tons of Hawkwind releases throughout the 70's and 80's. Nevertheless, as a song on it's own, I think it's a great place to start with them, as I did. My obsession with architecture that continues to this day was satisfied hearing this track. These are the kinds of messages you get from Prog: fear of success, fear of technology, fear of conformity, and all of that is on this track. Those sorts of concepts have come full-circle into my lyric-writing today."

"The tracks above are career defining for myself and I hope you enjoy them. They should all be regarded as legendary in Rock circles, but are often overlooked."

- Uncommon Nasa (Uncommon Records & Nasa Labs)


I. How did you go about selecting Written at Night's featured artists including Guilty Simpson, Open Mike Eagle, Oh No, Quelle Chris, billy woods, Short Fuze, and many more? I've always wondered... how do you decide which guest artists to place on their corresponding tracks?

I was approached by Man Bites Dog [Records] about self-producing a record with a lot of collaborations; so, from the beginning of the process, I approached the music in that way. Obviously, as an artist, you have a list of people that you've always wanted to work with or that you want to work with again. They don't particularly have to be people you don't know personally either, in my case. I'm friends with pretty much everyone on the record, knowing most for 5-15 years. I always wanted to do a track with Mike Ladd, so that was a big one to check off. Wanted to work with Open Mike Eagle again and had been building with Quelle Chris about doing something on-and-off for a while. So, it was just a matter of this project being the right place to tie up all those loose ends, in order to create something dope. I concepted the songs, including the creation of the beats, with each artist in mind. I wanted to write themes that I hoped would play to the strengths of my guests and I think we got that done.

II. What does the title Written at Night mean to you? As a night owl myself, I would assume the majority of the album was, in fact, "written at night;" is that a rather accurate assumption to make?

I'm really into the concept of the airwaves around us being clearer at night, when less people are awake. The idea that there is some sort of brainwave bandwidth that dips when people sleep, leaving more space for creativity in the middle of the night. But that only can be taken advantage of by people willing to stay up. I'm pretty obsessed with the overnight hours that border when one day hands over to another day. I like walking home in the middle of the night through Downtown Manhattan to clear my head and take pictures of architecture. So, even when I'm not in the lab at night or writing something, I feel like there's a relief in being up late. I think with the album, I tried to show the process of getting from midnight to the end of the 4am hour.

III. Is your recent 2017 Rhythm Roulette (II) how-to video pretty evocative of your beat-making process employed throughout Written at Night? If not, how did you go about assembling the album's production work?

It is and it isn't. On that video, I limited myself to just three records only, not added drums or synths or other sample sources. So, it was a unique challenge-based production. That being said, that is how I construct beats, I used my MPC to play things out and sequence and then drop it all into Pro Tools to take it to the next level with effects and arrangement. During Written at Night, I made a concerted effort to use less samples. There are still samples on the record, but not as the foundation, in most places. So, if you catch me making a beat now, it would be all of those things, synths, apps, records, all of it.

IV. Do the Prog-Rock albums mentioned within your Beat-maker Bedrock column (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Atomic Rooster, Kingdom Come, and Hawkwind) still actively affect your rather unique"Progressive Hip-Hop" production style?

Yeah, I still want to hit you with something aggressive, when I make a beat, most of the time or at least, something perks up your ear. I'm not really a "cool it out now"-type of producer. I consider large portions of Written at Night laid-back, for what I do at least, and I think most people hearing it, would be surprised by that. I think the influence of those great records is still with me. I'm not particularly sure my writing style still follows those lines, but the core of my production style probably does. It's funny with influences, there's a time in your life where they are obvious to you and then, there's a time where lines start to blur and you become you. It's almost like a bird leaving the nest, that bird will always remember what got them to fly, but it might not have an every day impact anymore. You are the sum of the parts of your influences, but that sum is an original part.

V. What does your label imprint, Uncommon Records have planned for the remainder of 2017 following Written at Night? Anything new and exciting coming up from Short Fuze & Uncommon Nasa or any of the label's additional signees?

Written at Night is the first full-on album I've ever made for another label, Man Bites Dog Records. I think you'll see Uncommon Records get back into the swing of things with releases next year. I produced a full-length for Last Sons (Duke01 & Furious P, those guys are on "Small Change,") I'm finishing up mixes for that now. I've started work on my own next album that will be produced by Messiah Musik and I've also started work on the next LP with Short Fuze to follow-up Autonomy Music (2016.) All of those will be on Uncommon Records, unless they end up landing on another label out there the way Written at Night did.