Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SaIGO & 'i's Let Loose First Official Mugwampers EP 717 (Part I) & Joe Eaton-directed "The Word of God Is Recycled" [self-released EP 1/3]

Mugwampers are a Hip-Hop crew, label, collective, etc. hailing from Livingston, Scotland consisting of founding members, emcee SaIGO and producer 'i's. Over the course of the last few months, Mugwampers have unleashed a collection of "warm-up" projects, including 'i's and feature-filled .and then there was flowers and SaIGO's 'i's-produced spoken word project, ANOTHER TIME MAYBE . . Now, Mugwampers have returned with their first official long-form project, 717 (Part I.) A sprawling 5-track EP with sonic benchmarks and Bandcamp tags ranging from Electronic to Hip-Hop/Rap, Metal to Spoken Word, Abstract Hip-Hop to Ambient, Plunderphonics to Screamo. 717 EP1 is the first in a series of three planned EP's Mugwampers have recently recorded, which will each focus on various styles and sub-genres of Hip-Hop. Ahead of 717 (Part I) SaIGO & 'i's unleashed a music video for EP closer, "The Word of God Is Recycled" directed by Joe Eaton (@joeeverse) who, along with SaIGO, created the artwork for Mugwampers' debut EP. 'i's & SaIGO's 717(1) EP is currently available to stream or purchase from Mugwampers' Bandcamp page on a Name-Your-Price basis. I'll just say this: trust me, you're gonna wanna stay tuned because SaIGO, 'i's, and their ever-growing Mugwampers crew have a slew of releases and collaborative projects planned for the remained of 2018. Ch-check out The Witzard's EXCLUSIVE interview with both 'i's & SaIGO about all things Mugwampers, Scottish Hip-Hop, and, of course, "Denial-ridden Ambition."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Emerald Knights 2 Collaborators Mega Ran & Bag of Tricks Cat Team Up for Beat-maker Bedrock #19-20 (Respect The Underground/RandomBeats)

Bag of Tricks Cat AKA BOTC (@bagoftrickscat): "There aren't too many cats in Hip-Hop that have as many tricks in the bag as Felix. His grandma, Ann Bennett, sang the 1959 "Felix The Cat" theme song, so it was only appropriate to name himself after the iconic cartoon character. His music is relatable and honest and has gripped fans all over the world [...] Bag of Tricks Cat is currently working on his next project, The 9 Lives of Cat Daddy Kane."

I. Eminem - The Eminem Show (2002)

"This album came out when I was in 4th grade. I was an angry kid that got bullied at school, so songs like "Sing for The Moment" and "'Till I Collapse" got me through it. Definitely influenced me a lot."

II. The Roots - How I Got Over (2010)

"Not only was the band incredible, Black Thought's lyrics spoke to me on the project. When I was going to the gym a lot, "The Fire" [featuring John Legend] would play on my iPod and it felt like I had super-strength! I feel like it's [one of] the more slept-on albums in The Roots' discography."

III. JAY-Z - The Black Album (2003)

"I love this album because of how personal JAY got on it. It's also, one of those bodies of work that you can go back to years later and hear something new that you missed. "Moment of Clarity" still gives me chills."

IV. 2pac - Until The End of Time (2001)

"Even though it's not regarded as one of his best albums, it's the one that got me into his music in the first place. The emotion in Pac's delivery on "Ballad of a Dead Soulja" and "Lil' Homies" was so authentic. He made me want to be honest in the raps I was writing."

Mega Ran (@megaran): "Mega Ran's proven he can excel in story-telling, punchlines, poignancy, freestyling, and well, pretty much, any other way you can measure an MC," LA Weekly boasts. An incredible impromptu "freestyle" rapper, as well as prolific song-writer, the former teacher Ran's unique combination of fantasy and introspective Hip-Hop has found its way all over the world, into leading press outlets and most recently, into the Guinness Book of World Records. Now, that's Random."

I. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

"In my opinion, simply the greatest Rap album ever. The beats, the rhymes, Chuck's delivery, Flavor Flav's humor. The message. It's the complete package. So hard, so [unapologetically] raw. I still listen to it once a year, at least, when I get into album mode."

II. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (2006)

"I still feel like the bootleg version of this was better, but Lupe wowed me with his simultaneously nerdy and cool swag over dope beats. I'd never heard anything like it, at the time. I remember him saying on his MySpace page back before this came out, for producers not to send him beats unless they were remotely close to the quality of Just Blaze's "Hovi Baby" track he did for JAY-Z... and that made me instantly close down an email of beats that I was about to send to him haha."

III. Nas - God's Son (2002)

"A lot of people choose Illmatic (1994) or even It Was Written (1996) from Nas and those are classics, no doubt, but there are a few songs on this record that get me going, when I'm in a tough spot... the James Brown sample and razor sharp story-telling on "Get Down," "Made You Look," and Nas trying new flows on the 6/8 timed "Heaven." God's Son is an essential Nas album."

Honorable Mentions:

MF DOOM & Madlib - MADVILLAINY (2004)
Daft Punk - Discovery (2001)
Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep (1994)
Blu & Exile - Below The Heavens (2007)
D'Angelo - Brown Sugar (1995)

Zilla Rocca feverishly rhymes: "Ayo, the bottom line is I'm a crook with a deal... nobody buys records, so we rob and steal. I caught B. Dolan, his pockets were swollen. I stuck Mega Ran for Nintendo controllers. I had Karma Kids takin' off their sh*t" on Career Crooks' 50 Cent-flipping "Crook with a Deal" from Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing. If nothing else, most people know Mega Ran FKA Random for one of two things: either his affinity for old school video games or his life-long affinity for wrestling. I personally, first "met" Mega Ran & K-Murdock AKA Bits & Rhymes during the roll-out for their 2010 collaborative album, FOREVER famicom and we've been working together on comprehensive write-ups and unique hands-on coverage, such as this, ever since. Bag of Tricks Cat AKA Felix Don Gato has been self-releasing music on his own imprint, Respect The Underground, since 2012.

Felix first encountered Mega Ran during the summer of 2015 and before long, they were touring together across The Northwest, Europe, Ireland, and Canada. Bag of Tricks Cat's 2016 debut full-length, Cat's Out of The Bag featured appearances and guest verses from the likes of Mega Ran, D12 & Bookie, The D.O.C. affiliate Justus, Bizarre, and executive producer Brian Gigerich. Now, exactly three years removed from their first meeting, Bag of Tricks Cat & Mega Ran have once again teamed up for the follow-up to 2015's Emerald Knights: The Album (EP) fittingly dubbed, Emerald Knights 2. Since it's June 22nd wide release, Mega Ran & BOTC's Emerald Knights 2 has already sky-rocketed it's way atop a number of Billboard's charts: #12 on Heatseekers, #01 on Heatseekers Mountain, #36 on Independent Albums, #32 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and #22 on Rap Albums as of July 5, 2018. Emerald Knight 2 is currently available to purchase in either CD or digital album formats directly from Respect The Underground/RandomBeats Music.

Slumberland Records Presents - Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty from D​.​A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys (Artwork By: Bill McMullen)

"D.A. Stern, the solo project of David Aaron Stern, is the musical amalgamation of crossword puzzle obsession, Backgammon playing, and working as a recording engineer at Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch's studio," read a March 2017 Force Field PR press email. The Jacuzzi Boys AKA The JB's, on the other hand, according to their Facebook page, were "hatched inside a vulture's nest [and soon] emerged from deep within the Florida wilds, three radioactive chicks cawing for their piece of Electric Rock pie." It appears as though D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys first worked together back in June 2017 on the latter's PING PONG REMIXED, wherein Stern provided a hedgehog-themed remix of "New Cross" from Ping Pong released on The JBs' own Mag Mag imprint the previous October. Now, as many of you may well know, this past Friday, July 13, 2018 was the 20th anniversary of the Beastie Boys' fifth studio album, Hello Nasty. It features guest appearances, as well as contributions, from Mario C. Mix Master Mike, Money Mark, Biz Markie, Bobbito Garcia, Jill Cunniff (Luscious Jackson,) Lee "Scratch" Perry, Lord Sear, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto,) and Eric "Bobo" Correa. To help commemorate the monumentous occasion, Oakland, California-based Punk/Indie Rock label Slumberland Records decided to pair up kindred lo-fi spirits Jacuzzi Boys & D.A. Stern once more.

"20 after the Beastie Boys first said "Hello Nasty" to the world, D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys are teaming up to celebrate it's birthday, in the form of a split 7-inch of covers brought to you by Slumberland Records," read a recent email announcing Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to The Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty from D​.​A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys. "Focusing on two fan-favorite deep cuts, the "Three JB's & One D.A." chose songs that showcase the Beasties' unique versatility, while offering messages of mindfulness, emblematic of their later career," Force Field PR continued. Nosh Lately? is currently available to stream on both Bandcamp and Soundcloud, ahead of it's upcoming August 3rd wide release. D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys' split 7-inch is now available to pre-order in both limited edition 7-inch vinyl and digital album formats with prices ranging from $1.75-7.00. I recently reached out to Daniel Gill at Force Field PR, who, in turn, got me in direct contact with Michael Schulman at Slumberland Records; over the weekend, Michael was kind enough to contact D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys directly, who both graciously provided statements detailing the making-of Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to The Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty...

"Hello Nasty, while not under-rated, is never quite considered an absolute masterpiece, like Paul's Boutique (1989) or Check Your Head (1992), but I can't think of another album that even remotely sounds like it and draws from the same hodge-podge of influences. "I Don't Know," which has always been one of my favorite tracks of theirs, is one of the reasons why. Musically and lyrically, it is a complete outlier in the catalog: a Samba-based ballad about enlightenment that Adam Yauch SINGS! It blew my mind on an album that had already blown my mind with the 14 tracks that came before it. The Beastie Boys were always the best because of their fearlessness and experimentation in whatever arena they chose; "I Don't Know" epitomizes that!"

- D.A. Stern on "I Don't Know"

"Straight up, Hello Nasty was the first Beastie Boys record that I really partied to... I had been a huge fan since Check Your Head (1992), but I was too young to hook up with friends and really bug out to that or to Ill Communication (1994). At that point, I'd just listen to the albums in my room or dance and rap along in front of the TV, when videos would play, but Hello Nasty dropped in '98, my junior year of high school! It had been four years since they had released an album and I was so ready for it. I have a great memory of being at The Cameo Theatre on South Beach [Florida] in '98 for a Lyricist Lounge show...

Maseo of De La Soul was the host/DJ for the night and the moment he walked on stage for the start of the show, he dropped "Intergalactic" and the room just went nuts. It sounded incredible. Anyway, '98 was also, around the time my interest in Psych and Garage type stuff started to grow, so when [D.A. Stern] approached me with the idea of doing this split, I knew exactly which song we had to do. "Song for The Man" always stood out to me as one of their best non-Rap songs and I really felt Jacuzzi Boys could do it justice."

- Danny Gonzalez (Jacuzzi Boys) on "Song for The Man"

Friday, July 13, 2018

Japanese Salsa Ensemble Banderas Unleash "Luna" B/W "Kangaroo Boogaloo" from Frenzied Full-length La Bandera (P-Vine Records/Zainas)

Banderas are an 11-piece Japanese Salsa ensemble—yes, you read that correctly! Formed in November 2014 in Tokyo, Banderas consists of pianist Kazuma Koseki 小関一馬, vocalist, Yoshiaki Hagiya 萩谷嘉秋, choras/percussionists Yasuji & Tinnen, bassist Masaaki Otomo 大友正明, conga player Dategen 伊達弦, Izpon on bongos, takeshi ogawa 小川岳史 on timbales, trombonist Masayuki Nakayama 中山まさゆき, sax player Ichirou いちろう, and trumpet player Naohito'temjin'Yomoda 四方田テムジン直人. While I'll readily admit I'm not very well-versed in either traditional Japanese or Salsa music, it's great to hear Salsa/Latin/Afro stylings played through the scope of 11 frenzied and fun-loving, yet classically-trained Japanese musicians. Banderas have since, quietly released a number of 7-inch/digital singles including "Tema de Banderas" B/W "Banderas Mambo" on Zainas (2016)—later re-released on Swiss-based Matasuna Records in March 2018—and 2017's Bob Marley & The Wailers-covering "Turn Your Lights Down Low" B/W "¡ AY JOE !" on Banderas' own Zainas imprint. Now, Banderas have triumphantly returned this week with their third self-released single entitled "Luna" B/W "Kangaroo Boogaloo." A 2-track digital single featuring nearly 9 minutes-worth of audio, both tracks will be effectively re-released on Banderas' soon forthcoming proper album-length debut.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, the track on Side B, opposite of "Luna_RadioEdit," "Kangaroo Boogaloo," is one of Banderas' first partly English language releases; it starts off with frontman Yoshiaki Hagiya proclaiming: "Everybody say, "Hey, we want some boogaloo...'" followed by a characteristically "bouncy" call-and-response section. What follows is a jovial, yet surprisingly progressive track with elements of Salsa, Latin Rock, Cumbia, J-Pop, and a multitude of worldly genres with an added Japanese flair that's truly unique to Banderas. La Bandera will be released on Tokyo-based imprint, P-Vine Records this upcoming Friday, August 10th. Banderas' six singles released between 2016-18 will be littered throughout La Bandera, along with six additional, as-yet-unreleased Salsa-inspired compositions. "According to the album title of "La Bandera (banner,)" it is a work which seems to set out the flag of the new Salsa from this Tokyo," reads a rather rough translation lifted from Banderas' newly-updated site. "A yearning for admiration for Salsa classics, approach not bound by existing framework, destructive feeling with frustration, sweat and romance-packed, unexpectedly crying and laughing and dancing," it ecstatically continues. Banderas' album-length debut, La Bandera (sub-titled "Salsa Classics & Destroy") will be released on P-Vine Records in both CD and digital formats on Friday, August 10, 2018.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"JAY-Z, Sample This:" Shawn Lee Talks The Soul Surfers, Ping Pong Orchestra, Young Gun Silver Fox & Much, Much More (The Witzard Interview)

"Shawn Lee is one of the most prolific musicians of his generation. A multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer/song-writer, and composer who has released [42] albums as an artist to date. He has played, produced, and written on hundreds of records. He has worked with a diverse range of artists, including Jeff Buckley, Kelis, Money Mark (Beastie Boys,) Amy Winehouse, Darondo, Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn, and Princess Superstar. Lee's music has been used extensively in both film and TV: Monuments Men, 20 Feet from Stardom, Oceans Thirteen, Eastbound & Down, Ugly Betty, Nip/Tuck, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Cinemax, Jaguar, BMW, Clarks Shoes, Head & Shoulders, and many many more. He has also, created bespoke music for Hermann Miller, Ace Hotels, and Wallpaper Magazine.

As a composer, he has scored two documentary films: Elevate and Under The Sun. Lee also created the original soundtrack for the feature film Save Angel Hope and composed the original score for the Rockstar video game Bully, which was nominated for Best Score twice - winning once. Shawn Lee is an American and has lived in London, England for the past 20 years with his wife and his two daughters," reads Shawn Lee's press one-sheet. For his most recent release, Shawn Lee has teamed up with Soul-Funk quartet The Soul Surfers "from cold heavy Russia" for a collaborative 9-track affair on Fat Beats/Silver Fox Records. The Witzard recently conducted a comprehensive emailed interview with Shawn Lee covering everything from The Soul Surfers to his work with Clutchy Hopkins. It has been lightly edited for general clarity.

I. How did you initially link up with The Soul Surfers for "Time Is a Gun" from their 2015 Ubiquity Records album, Soul Rock!?

I was asked by either Enrique [Estrella] or Andrew Jervis from Ubiquity [Records] to collaborate on one song with The Soul Surfers. They knew I dug their music, so the answer was a resounding "YES!" They sent me a basic backing track and I played vibes, percussion, guitar solo, etc. on it and then, wrote the song and sang it. I put a final mix on it and finito: "Time Is a Gun" !!!

II. How did you and your newly-formed label imprint, Silver Fox Records, end up teaming up with Fat Beats to release Shawn Lee & The Soul Surfers?

I mixed a Brownout EP [Over The Covers], which was released through Fat Beats. Adrian Quesada introduced me to Joe Dent, who works there, and it felt a logical way of releasing some new music in the future. So far, I have released my [Ping Pong Orchestra] Techstar album, Young Gun Silver Fox, and the album with The Soul Surfers to date. So far, so good!

III. How exactly was Shawn Lee & The Soul Surfers' self-titled album recorded, with you being based out of LA/London and The Soul Surfers hailing from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia?

With the exception of the basic track for "Milky Way"—which was recorded in Moscow—the rest of the album was made by sending files back-and-forth online. The Internet can be pretty darn handy sometimes! Certainly makes the world smaller and makes these kind of International collaborations possible.

IV. Upon your recent trip to Moscow, Russia to play a festival with The Soul Surfers, you mentioned a documentary film entitled "Let It Soul" was filmed; sponsored by Levi's and filmed in London & Los Angeles, as well. What exactly does the film contain and when might it see a proper wide release?

The film is a 45 min. documentary called "Let It Soul" directed by Kirill [Kulagin]. It had it's premier on June 1st at a film festival in Moscow screened in Gorky Park. It documents our meeting in Moscow and shows the process of us writing and recording the song "Milky Way" taken from the album. It also, shows me in London and has Adrian Younge & Malcom Catto in it, as well. The film will be out in the winter. And as you said, it was sponsored by Levi's.

V. Now, I know you played a show together in Moscow for "Let It Soul," but do you have any immediate plans do play any more live shows with The Soul Surfers? How about a proper tour together?

As you said, I've already played a few shows with The Soul Surfers. There are plans in-the-works to do a show in LA. Hopefully, that works out and we can play some more shows. We'll see...

VI. You mentioned you've previously had the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Kelis, The Jungle Brothers, Brownout, Adrian Younge, Darondo, Clutchy Hopkins, Georgia Anne Muldrow, The Black Pumas, Amy Winehouse, and more—happen to have any particular unique stories or memorable moments you might be able to share?

You know, doing the first Clutchy record was really funny! So many great stories that I can't tell you about! Hahaha

VII. How did you initially come in contact with the (desert) man, the myth, the legend himself: Clutchy Hopkins? Have you been in touch with Clutchy in the years since yo 2008-09 collaborative releases, Clutch of The Tiger & Fascinating Fingers?

I discovered Clutchy, first, through an online album review and then, started watching all the [Clutchy Hopkins] films and became totally obsessed. It wasn't long before we began chatting on MySpace and then, next thing I knew, I was in The Mojave Desert making dusty jams with the cave-dwelling genius!

VIII. How did your collaboration with Adrian Quesada (Brownout) The Electric Peanut Butter Co. first come to fruition? Can we expect to hear Trans-Atlantic Psych Classics Vol. 3 (or Vol. 0) any time soon?

Adrian is such a cool and talented cat. I think, we operate in a very similar fashion; loads of different projects and keeping busy with both studio and live gigs. We both have two daughters around the same age, too. So, a lot in common. I think, we will do another Peanut Butter album. I think, next year sounds like a plan! Just got to find a window that suits us both.

IX. Now, I know your long-standing band is called The Ping Pong Orchestra, but what exactly is "Ping Pong Soho Radio?"

My Ping Pong Radio Show on Soho Radio is my way of me sharing my record collection and my tastes in music, both past and present. It connects the dots. I love doing it—I'm coming up to my 100th show soon! You can check it out on Soho Radio's mixcloud [page], at your leisure.

X. Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band - "Talba Rock" is a full-album cover/re-interpretation of Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - "Bongo Rock," correct? Who plays on your 2012 re-visioj of the iconic and oft-sampled 1973 album?

The Tabla album was absolute madness; such a crazy, geeked out project! I played everything on the album, except for Dominic Glover on trumpet and Andy Ross on sax and flute. And last but not least, Prithpal Rajput on tabla putting "tabla" into The Tabla Band!

XI. Your recent release, AM Waves your second release in just as many years as "Young Gun Silver Fox." How does AM Waves differ stylistically from it's 2016 predecessor, West End Coast?

AM Waves is a logical progression from West End Coast. I wanted to have more horns on it, but other than that, it was just a case of writing more material. I do think we had honed in on what we are doing and the second album is even better than the first. I love it and I'm really proud of it.

XII. With a whopping 42 albums released since signing with Giles Peterson back in 1993 where would you personally suggest new listeners ideally, start when delving into your plentiful back catalog?

Now, that is a good question! If you like songs, I'd suggest Young Gun Silver Fox, AM & Shawn Lee, or my Soul Visa album. For instrumentals, I'd say, any Ping Pong Orchestra albums like: World of Funk, Voices & Choices, or Bei Bei & Shawn Lee.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Canadian Indie Rockers The Alpacas Return with First Single Since 2016's The Best Is Behind You, "Find The Coast" (Willow Music)

Last we heard from Barrie, Ontario, Canada-bred Indie Rock/Pop-Punks The Alpacas, they were readying their full-length debut, The Best Is Behind You, for release on Willow Music nearly three years ago. It has since birthed three digital singles: "Wax," "Cab Fare," and "Artifacts," as well as music videos for both "Wax" and "Cab Fare." Prior to the album release and roll-out—August 2015, to be exact—a music video and single were released to accompany album track "Mezzanine." Now, The Alpacas are back with their first taste of new music since The Best Is Behind You; "Find The Coast" was released across digital streaming services Friday, June 22nd. "Big thanks to Nick Boyd [Hollerado] for co-writing, engineering, and producing this banger! Another big thanks to Lacquer Channel Mastering and Noah Mintz for the fantastic mastering job!" The Alpacas enthusiastically posted on their Facebook page Friday afternoon. "Find The Coast" is a little bit more Death Cab for Cutie-indebted than The Alpacas' slightly more Indie Rock/Pop-Punk-leaning material from The Best Is Behind You. According to The Alpacas, "Find The Coast" is just the first in a series of planned singles to be released in the near future. For those interested in learning more about The Alpacas and The Best Is Behind You, I would strongly recommend checking out The Witzard's 2016 interview with "screamin' wildcat" frontman Greg Lee. "Find The Coast" is now available to stream or download on Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube Music, and like-minded digital platforms.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Vermont Producer Keenan Kilgore Discusses SEPTEMBER, Keenan & Karma Remixes & His Genre-eschewing Body of Work (The Witzard Interview)

Keenan Kilgore AKA Daniel K. Felicetti FKA Digitalfel & FEL, etc. is a Vermont-based producer, artist, and creator. For over a decade, Daniel Felicetti has been consistently recording and putting out instrumental and collaborative Hip-Hop and Electronic music under a number of aliases at quite a rapid rate; this including, but not limited to, Digitalfel, FEL, ham american, Cord5, DigitalDankin with producer/rapper Dominic Primus, Keenan Kilgore, and JWLS VRNE & Different Trucks with frequent collaborator Gruff Lion. Daniel Felicetti also, runs a few websites to host his music, production work, and visual art: first, DigitalFel - the "digital" representation of "fel" AKA his music site, next, MAN-GOES CO. - essentially, an "all-around portfolio" of various projects Felicetti and his wife have produced/curated together, and finally, TONERELATIONS - a new platform, still in development, to showcase new projects with physical copies. His most recent releases include a remix album, Keenan & Karma, with Lt Headtrip's we are the karma kids crew and his latest instrumental solo album, SEPTEMBER.

"SEPTEMBER is an Instrumental Hip-Hop album that reinforces the scope and possibilities within the construct. This latest solo effort is full of complex sample-based beats intertwined with bits of narrative and creative song structuring. SEPTEMBER came about from a culmination of life's struggles, travels, triumphs, oddities, and observations. It is not your average beat tape. SEPTEMBER sets the soundscape for you to swim through the summer and beyond. It is a collection of global jams for you to carry along your journey, as you explore and get lost, only to find your way again," Felicetti writes on his Bandcamp page. Below, you will see a comprehensive interview recently conducted between Keenan Kilgore and The Witzard, which has been lightly edited for overall clarity.

I. How did you initially link up with Lt Headtrip and his we are the karma kids crew for what eventually, became a remix comp. cleverly called Keenan & Karma?

I got linked up with Headtrip through my good friend and music collaborator, Adrian AKA Gruff Lion. In my disjointed journey in producing, I always got down in the studio with Adrian about once a year and I heard and watched The Karma Kids grow over the years; it's really dope that I have been getting to work with them lately!

II. What are the separate purposes of each of your various art/multi-media sites: DigitalFel, MAN-GOES CO. and TONERELATIONS?

So, is my personal music site. I've had the domain for years now and it has always been the "digital" incarnation of "Fel" (Felicetti)—so. it's where I have always showcased my productions/linked to them. MAN-GOES.CO is more of an over-arching portfolio and portal to works that I've produced/curated—alongside Michelle, my wife, who is a really great artist. is a work-in-progress. Right now, it's somewhat redundant with Bandcamp, in that I sell CD's and tapes of some music... but, in the future, I envision TONERELATIONS being an alternate place to view/listen/read about/buy any project I have had a hand in, all in a clean unique website. We will see what happens.

III. How do/did your various projects: DigitalFel, FEL, ham american, Cord5, DigitalDankin with Dominic Primus, and JWLS VRNE & Different Trucks with Gruff Lion - differ from your latest incarnation as Keenan Kilgore?

I think, that when I decided to do music as "Keenan Kilgore," I believed that I had honed in on a more distinct sound. I took on that moniker after I made an album in Texas with Keenan Kilgore (2014) as the title. After trying a bunch of different techniques and using a a few different softwares, I think, I settled in on ways that worked for me and found methods that became more of my go-to methods in producing. Thus, the era of Keenan Kilgore was born haha. All of the other projects I have done under different names and [collaborations] are different for reasons I just explained or simply because when I work with other artists, there's an inevitable compromise in the creation because there's multiple people making decisions. So, the end result will always sound differently than if it was solely my production. Don't get me wrong, though—the compromise between artists' creations can be beautiful and completely unique—those, usually, are the most fun projects by far.

IV. What were your typical beat-making, sample sourcing, sound-bending, production, recording, etc. processes like while creating SEPTEMBER?

For SEPTEMBER, I was generally inspired by finding samples on vinyl records, sitting and listening through them, and then, recording into ProTools. When I'm really energized in the studio, I can work super-fast, so I often have to slow myself down and listen through samples and dwell on the process more—but I usually, want to move quickly. Once I find sounds that inspire, I will chop them up/edit them, put them into a sampler and find BPM's, etc. then, start layering. I try to layer as much vinyl as possible—usually, mixing as I go. At a certain point, I turn towards my various keyboards, which are a couple of dope Korgs, a mad old and kinda cheesy Casio, and rarely, I cued in some soft synths or FX with a USB keyboard. Other than that, I filled out the songs and layered with sparse recordings of my drum set and percussion and I have a lot of [sound effects] recordings I've collected over the years doing film work. I took a lot more time mixing this album than other albums. I listened to it and took mixing notes for a month, then, went back into the studio on each song and tweaked things; then, passed it on to Willie Green for the mastering.

V. Now, I well know, sometimes, this is a bit of a taboo topic for some producers to talk about... but where did you find the samples used throughout SEPTEMBER?

I live in VT, and where I am, the best source for vinyl is thrift stores or Craigslist and you have no idea what the Hell you will find, which can be amazing or really sh**ty. I also, make a point to get to Burlington or a town with an actual record shop. I'm also, always on the lookout for records, when I'm traveling—I still find samples from LP's I've picked up all over the world—literally. As for what are these samples exactly!? You'll have to keep listening!

VI. Not only artists and musical benchmarks, but what were some of your greatest sources of personal inspiration, influence, and driving forces that affected SEPTEMBER?

It doesn't take much for me to feel inspired. Song ideas or feelings/moods for songs will pop into my head constantly; but certain things will definitely trigger inspiration, as well. I always loved movies that use subtle sound and silence to convey the feelings in the story. Things are often quiet where I live, too, so, I hear the sound of nature and depth—the human is in the background and the wind or the birds are often in the foreground. I also, have just always had an intense desire to create art of all different kinds! Ever since I realized what was possible and started hearing more variety of music and seeing more interesting art, in general, I was hooked to the feeling of creating. My youngest years being sheltered from a lot of music and growing up in rural VT/NH definitely affected me, too. I have a deep, genuine appreciation for nature and plants, but I also, felt like I missed out on a lot of interesting art growing up. This dichotomy is definitely a part of the making-of SEPTEMBER.

VII. What's the story behind the unique cover art you designed for SEPTEMBER and how exactly does it relate back to the content within the album?

This cover was designed by my wife, Michelle. She is a painter and artist. I asked her to do the cover and I think, she captured the feeling of the album pretty well. The duality of nature and man—exploring life, opportunities, choices, people, and differences—the idea that some humans are just doing our best to make sense of the world we live in... I also, added to the art and it's direction, so it's technically, a collaborative cover by the two of us!

VIII. Now that SEPTEMBER has been unleashed into the terribly unsuspecting world, what else do you currently have in-the-works or set to be released fairly soon?

Well, I'm always cookin' up something. And I've been done making SEPTEMBER for a while now, so I'm itching to produce new material. Right now, I have a long-running project with my buddy, Dom [DigitalDankin], who lives in South Carolina. We have worked on a lot of tracks that we are still putting together in some way. I'm not sure when we will release anything. I'm also, planning on releasing more solo instrumentals and I would like to [collaborate] more with The Karma Kids. I will, likely, do another project with Gruff Lion soon, when the stars align!

IX. What was it like working alongside co-producer Dominic Primus (DigitalDankin,) mastering engineer Willie Green, and artist/designer Michelle Felicetti on SEPTEMBER?

Anyone interested in helping me with my work is so awesome to me! I love having people genuinely give me feedback and help make my vision as good as it could be. Dominic and I made the track, "Eternity" a couple years ago, actually, but it was much shorter and more simple. I took what we did and stretched it into some weirdness! It's a pleasure working with Dom because he has a great ear and it allows me to step back and kind of produce a little more backseat in certain areas. We work well together. Willie is a pro! I was so psyched to have him master this project—I met him at his studio in NYC and we talked about SEPTEMBER and kinda came up with a game plan, then, he put the finishing touch on the album and really made it snap! Working with Michelle was easy because I've done it a lot. We've had joint art shows and worked on a ton of stuff together over the years, so that naturally, came together pretty well.

X. What, in your humble opinion, is the ideal listening scenario or suggested set-up while digesting SEPTEMBER?

Well, I always recommend good speakers or headphones, but as far as scenario, I think: a rooftop cafe that sits on the edge of water—the view below is bustling people of all different types. On the horizon are mountains that pierce the sky and channel the wind to a pleasant breeze. Patches of trees cover the plains around the base of the mountains and taper off approaching the city. You're sitting alone with your favorite sandwich and a cup of coffee; the bread is fresh and the crust is crunchy. No one bothers you and you can sit in peace, while listening to SEPTEMBER on your expensive headphones, while enjoying a great meal. That sounds like a great place to listen! Otherwise, bumping it while traveling in a car or walking is how it was developed...

XI. Now, let's just say, hypothetically, you were indefinitely stranded on a desert island; what would your Top 5 "Desert Island" albums be to listen to for the rest of eternity? Why for each?

Definitely tough choices. {RJD2 - Deadringer, 2011} I still think this is RJ's masterpiece. It's ingrained in my thoughts about making music. {Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise, 2011} I seriously, have never been so impressed by the editing and mixing skills in Instrumental Electronic music than I have with this dude. This album is epic! {Can - Tago Mago, 1971} this project is timeless and really stuck with me. I think it's so cool how it was put together—down to the members of the group—to the way they compiled the album from hours of studio sessions. {Destroyer - Kaputt, 2011} something about the saxophones and the backing vocals. I just can't help but love this record! {OutKast - Aquemini, 1996} I love André 3000 & Big Boi. This album is one of the greatest Hip-Hop records, in my opinion. (EXTRA 1) * {Nujabes - Metaphorical Music, 2003} Nujabes was just such a G. His music is so dope and uplifting.

XII. Who might be on your list of "dream collaborators," if you were to have an unlimited budget for your next project? In all honesty, how close are any of these collaborations to actually coming to fruition?

Oh man, lots! I would love to work with the producer Lee (Asano + Rhyuhei.) He is on another level with his beats and his visual art is DOPE. I also, would love to work with Weyes Blood, get her voice on some tracks because it's so beautiful and powerful. She was featured on a track called "Suddenly" from an album called The End of Comedy by Drugdealer; that song was one of my favorites from 2017. Thundercat because I always want better basslines and because he's a brilliant musician. André 3000! Can I say that? haha. I love when rappers really explore their range—André would blow my mind with his musicality. There's a lot more, but those are definitely some of my dream collaborators! Thanks, Matt! It was a real pleasure answering these questions!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Jumbled Returns with Third Bmore Club EP YOU DON'T KNOW?! with Berko Lover & Posthumous Miss Tony Feature (Harford & Reckord Tapes)

John "Jumbled" Bachman is a Baltimore-based "teacher, husband & father, beat-maker, and dish-washer," who personally describes his music as something falling "somewhere between Madlib & Mike Watt." We've thoroughly enjoyed and previously featured every Jumbled release since 2016's [I wish it was longer] AKA WIWL, including Action Shots EP, The Ghost of Len Bias EP with Baltimore emcee UllNevaNo, Bully Preston's full-length debut THE INSULT, and holiday-themed Hip-Hop comp. Merry Christmess on The Witzard. Now, Bachman, the proud new father of a beautiful baby girl, has effectively returned with his latest release, YOU DON'T KNOW?!; not entirely unlike his two 2015 EP's, Club Classics and BOOM! YOU DON'T KNOW?! is a long-in-the-works sample-based Bmore Club-leaning collection. For those who may be unaware, Baltimore/Bmore Club music is "a Breakbeat genre; a blend of Hip-Hop and chopped, staccato House Music, it was created in Baltimore, Maryland, United States in the late 1980's by 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, Frank Ski, Miss Tony (known as Big Tony, after he ceased presenting in drag,) Scottie B. and DJ Spen," according to Wikipedia.

"Baltimore Club will always be sample-based music. Taking Dance grooves and pairing them with high-tempo drums have shaped this genre for decades. Jumbled approaches Baltimore Club the same as the people that [have] influenced him: Scottie B. Rod Lee, and KW Griff (and many more,)" John Bachman writes within an album press release. YOU DON'T KNOW?! showcases not just one, but two collaborations from frequent Jumbled collaborator Berko Lover, as well as a posthumous collaboration, by way of sample, with Bmore Club originator Ms. Tony AKA Miss Tony AKA Big Tony on "Don't try it." Littered amongst the three aforementioned vocal-led tracks are 10 additional sample-based instrumental tracks, all tediously created and fine-tuned by Jumbled over the course of the past year. "YOU DON'T KNOW?! is Jumbled's assertion into the Baltimore Club scene. While it seems there aren't many new (local) artists, the music lives on," John Bachman asserts. Jumbled's YOU DON'T KNOW?! EP is currently available on Bandcamp, along with his solo and collaborative back catalog. A super-limited run of YOU DON'T KNOW?!/Club Classics/BOOM! combo-CD's will be available for purchase at Jumbled's next gig: MODEM at The Crown in Baltimore this upcoming Thursday, July 12, 2018.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Another Transmission from The Diabolical Doctor Strange: "guerilla godz presents - omega the unknown featuring ari yusef" (Facebook Video)

Last Friday afternoon, I received a vaguely villainous message from The Diabolical Doctor Strange AKA Solomon Strange AKA Solomon Caine. It simply read: "guerilla godz presents omega the unknown featuring ari yusef" and I was tagged along with 45-50 of his trusty Facebook Friends & Followers. It would appear as though, it breaks down a little something like this - Omega The Unknown is the EP title, Ari Yusef is the artist, and Guerilla Godz is, of course, the label/crew. Omega The Unknown consists of nearly 9 minutes-worth of untitled tracks produced by The Diabolical Doctor Strange artfully laid beneath an unknown 1980-90's Manga. Otherwise, little information is known concerning the release; although, Omega The Unknown's comic book-esque cover artwork features cryptic phrases such as, "INVINCIBLE GUARDIANS OF WORLD FREEDOM!" "THE DEATH OF THE FOLLOWERS OF LIGHT..." "THE DESTRUCTION OF SHOGUN SANCTUARY--" and "YOU DARE NOT MISS: THE LIGHT THAT FAILED!" Many of you might recognize Ari Yusef's name from Doctor Strange-penned The Witzard Presents: A Transmission from The Diabolical Doctor Strange of The Guerilla Godz Universe from late last year, wherein he's effectively referred to as one half of Ari Yuseff & Ab Soul Jah AKA The Unimaginables AKA "The Ten Elements of The Universe."

"Ari Yuseff, they say, is hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years old, but ever-growing in power and strength, due to the fact he is a [deity] and is empowered by the faith and praise of The Nuwabu," Solomon Strange explained within A Transmission from The Diabolical Doctor Strange of The Guerilla Godz Universe. Ari Yusef AKA Ari Yuseff previously appeared within the diabolical doctor strange and friends' critically acclaimed 2017 album, doctor strange and friends, as well as solomon strange's year-end street album/mixtape, The Friday Night Philosopher. Honestly, it's a bit hard to properly discern and explain exactly what's happening on Ari Yusef's Omega The Unknown, although, I will say this: it's a hard-as-nails collection of unique beats and ferocious rhymes. Yusef's vocal delivery and overall artistic presence is something similar to that of DOOM, Wu-Tang Clan, MADVILLAINY, Gravediggaz, or CZARFACE. while still remaining extremely original. The Diabolical Doctor Strange's atmospheric production work throughout Omega The Unknown is evocative of J Dilla, Madlib, "The Old Kanye," RZA, and The Alchemist; somehow, Doctor Strange even manages to effortlessly work in a sample culled from Sérgio & Mendes & Brasil '66's "Cinnamon & Clove" from their world-renown 1968 album, Equinox. For now, Omega The Unknown is "a release that might never be released" and for the foreseeable future, will remain strictly limited to Solomon Strange's Facebook page.

West Virginia/Pittsburgh Emcee & Producer Unsung Liberates Shelved 2006-08 "Collection of Work" with Brandt Dykstra (The Station Signal)

Steven "Unsung" Miller is a rapper, producer, and musician hailing from Morgantown, West Virginia/Pittsburgh. Since initially bursting onto the map in 2001, Unsung has self-released 21 projects of varying lengths on his Bandcamp page, as well as Mugwampers-championed Young Man (2016) on Already Dead Tapes & Records and mini-album Mount St. Helens just this past May on BearTooth Collective. However, Miller's latest project isn't exactly credited to "Unsung" and honestly, it isn't exactly "new" either; Collection of Work is attributed to The Station Signal AKA Brandt Dykstra & Steven Miller. Nearly 10 years ago, between 2006-08, Unsung & Brandt wrote, recorded, and produced almost 60 songs together, which were very recently re-discovered and painstakingly whittled down to a concise 9-track Collection of Work. Not only did Unsung recently uncover a plethora of Station Signal material, he dusted off around 200 B-sides and alt. takes from his various projects recorded during the same 2-3 year stretch contained on an old computer. This including 3 albums and 1 EP as Unsung's alter-ego Umm... loosies relating to his 2011 album, The Paint, and 3 albums-worth of unreleased material recorded with Brandt Dykstra and a variety of collaborators.

Friends since high school, Brandt Dykstra & Steven Miller ended up attending University of The Arts in Philly and would often listen to Talib Kweli & Mos Def Are Black Star (1998) and "all things Rawkus Records" together. Unsung & Brandt recorded an EP with their friend Charles AKA producer Si Young as Eisodos Artisans, before changing their group name to Fires and then, permanently to The Station Signal. Around the same time as Steve Miller was recording his follow-up to Embrace The Selfish—as well as 2004's TWIN < with Brandt, Matt & Si YoungI Looked Back At My House, White As a Washing Stone (2006) he and Brandt Dykstra re-connected, meeting up 2-3 times a week for nearly two years, and eventually, had a whopping 50 songs recorded together. "Collection of Work represents melancholy, alcoholism, disillusionment, and depression. But it's also, completely energized due to the total affirmation of a complete friendship and having another person you understand on an atomic level," Unsung passionately explained, via email.

"It's completely enthralled with grainy films, Indie Rock, and alcoholic writers like Richard Brautigan and Charles Bukowski. I think, we were both speeding through Haruki Murakami and J.D. Salinger's collections of work," Unsung continued. The Station Signal's Collection of Work is now about 10 years old, but it was far ahead of it's time; although, it was in fact inspired by a few popular "Indie Rock Darlings" of the time - Wolf Parade, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bright Eyes, Pedro The Lion, and Sigur Rós, as well as anticon, Rawkus Records, and Stones Throw. The Station Signal are currently working on their long-awaited second album and Unsung is preparing a solo album for release this Fall, as well as a cassette re-issue of The Paint on cunabear's BearTooth Collective imprint. I believe, Unsung has a couple additional projects currently in-the-works with cunabear and Scottish Hip-Hop crew, Mugwampers. The Station Signal's Collection of Work is now available from Unsung's Bandcamp page on Name-Your-Price basis for a limited time only.

Monday, July 2, 2018

"Get Down, Spread It Around:" The Sunday Get Down Weekly 45's Mix Series with 8/10-year-old DJ's Arlo & Otis (The Witzard Interview)

"Hey, do you wanna get down today?
Well, c'mon, Otis & Arlo are beginning to play

They've been around for a while and their show is the bomb
Because the boys only spin those top-notch songs

They play Funky stuff and the classic Soul
Mixed with Hip-Hop and some good Disco

A little bit of Boogie and Brazilian vibes
So you gotta check 'em out, when the show goes live

They started out in Brighton, then, they moved it to France
Arlo loves to do the record digging - Otis can dance

And when their dad, Badj, educated them on the groove
Their mommy, Mu, went: "oooo, merci beaucoup!"

So, have a blast; let's groove and react
You got to move real fast, like Wrigley The Rat

The boys play a new tune every few minutes
You love when they spin it...

On The Sunday Get Down (Repeat)
You got to get down!"

'Foreword' Expertly Rapped By: Andy Cooper
"Sunday Get Down Theme" Beat By: Djar One
Turntable Wizardry/DJ Cuts By: IncreDeepe

I. How did Arlo (8) & Otis (10) first meet and decide to start doing The Sunday Get Down together?

Otis & Arlo: We're brothers and since we were a few years old, [our] dad used to take us record shopping with him and we could look through the box of 45's that was on the floor. We could pick some out and listen to them and then, our dad would buy a few that we liked for us.

Arlo: On my 6th birthday, I got a turntable, so every Sunday morning, I decided to record me playing my favourite records to share with friends and family. Then, my dad got me another turntable and his old mixer, so that I could start to mix the records together. One day, Mukatsuku Records saw one of the videos and Shared it and then, it went crazy and thousands of people watched and Shared it. So, we decided to set up our own Facebook page for it.

II. What are a few of your current favorite records and 45's, Arlo & Otis?

Tom Browne - "Funkin' for Jamaica (N.Y.)" (Artisa Records)
Marvin Gaye - "Sexual Healing" (Columbia Records)
Gwen McCrae - "All This Love That I'm Giving" (Cat Records)

III. Where's the best place to dig for records in your town?

Arlo & Otis: When we lived in Brighton, we used to go to Rarekind Records all the time; that was definitely our favourite. Now, we live in the middle of France and there isn't really any record shops nearby. We found a cool one in Limoges called Undersounds, but it's quite far away.

IV. How exactly did Djar One & Andy Cooper get involved to pen the "Sunday Get Down Theme," Badj? * (Badj Whipple is Arlo & Otis' dad!)

Badj: The boys played a 45 that Andy Cooper made with The Allergies called "Rock Rock." Andy saw the show and got in touch with us because he had just written a track with Djar One titled "The Get Down." He said he loved what the boys were doing and that he wanted to do a version that they could use as an intro to the show. I emailed him a few details about who we were and things and three hours later, he emailed me back the track with lyrics all about the boys and the show and everything. What a total legend!

V. What do you boys plan to play on upcoming episodes of The Sunday Get Down?

Arlo & Otis: Not really sure. We have ordered some records from Discogs and are waiting for them to arrive to go in the show.

VI. How do you normally go about deciding which tracks to play within your mixes, selecting track transitions, song order, etc?

Arlo: I know all of our records already. I normally, choose the first song in advance, then, I just carry on picking out records that I think will go well.

VII. Have you received any type of feedback or words of praise from any famous DJ's or musicians yet?

Arlo & Otis: Having Andy Cooper do the theme song was really cool! The singer from Dee-Lite [Lady Miss Killer] said, we "have great taste in music."

VIII. What types of records and music were you playing around the house, when Arlo & Otis were little, Badj? Man, I want my kids to be mini-DJ's one day, too!

Badj: I always have music playing in the house; a lot of Funk, Soul, Afrobeat, Cumbia, and loads of Reggae. I love discovering new music and I think, that has rubbed off on Otis & Arlo. But they have, also, really developed their own tastes in music. Also, they are now constantly on a mission to find good tracks that I don't already know, which is amazing and great for me.

IX. Who are some of your personal favorite DJ's, producers, and turntables?

Arlo & Otis: We love the Breakin' Bread show on mixcloud and the Soul Cool Records shows. [We] also, like the DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5) mixes he does on Facebook and also, our dad has a live mix by DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist, which is really cool.

X. Where can new-found fans listen to or subscribe to The Sunday Get Down? When do new episodes normally drop?

- The Sunday Get Down on mixcloud.
- The Sunday Get Down on Facebook.

* EDITOR'S NOTE: Just as of this past Sunday morning, July 1st, The Sunday Get Down is now available on YouTube, as well!

BONUS: In closing, I asked Badj, if Otis & Arlo might be interested in putting together an exclusive Spotify playlist/mix for The Witzard...

Badj: As they can't spend all their time digging [for] records, Otis & Arlo spend a lot of time on Spotify discovering new music. Here is a small selection of what they have been digging lately:

Thursday, June 28, 2018

South Philly Producer & Emcee King Ani Mal Compiles Indie/Dance Rock-indebted Beat-maker Bedrock #18 (NewBreed Records)

"I go by the name King Ani Mal. I'm out of South Philly and originally from Gulf Port, Mississippi. SPP GSF AFFILIATE. I am currently working on a "so-far" untitled 5-track EP produced entirely by Look! It's Aidan AKA Aidan Douglas AKA A.I.D. (@look_itsaidan.) It should be out very soon! To keep up with my music and shows, Follow my Instagram, @turbocrunch. Also, check out my latest album, Skinny God out on EVERY streaming platform. Here's my Beat-maker Bedrock:"

I. TV On The Radio - Dear Science (2008)

"I think, Dear Science was one of the first albums that made me want to dip into production. I just remember thinking how good the album was and telling myself that if they could do it, so could I. Then, I downloaded LMMS (Linux MultiMedia Studio) and started playing around on my laptop. At the time, I was playing guitar in a Punk band and no one wanted to hear what I was making, except my homie Scress. I didn't rap or even plan on becoming a rapper, but eventually, I ended up making the beat to "IDK" off of my first mixtape, New Breed (2015) and "Purple Porsche" ft. Lil' Heart [Quaa Lovee] off my second mixtape, Stoner Kid, Vol. 1."

II. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

"I'm pretty sure Radiohead might be one of my most influential bands, when it comes to production. Much like production, I didn't take Radiohead seriously during the first encounter; to tell the truth, I broke the Radiohead CD in half and slid it out my bedroom window in disgust. It wasn't 'til I got an email saying, "Download Radiohead's New Album In Rainbows for Free" that I gave them a second chance and I was about it. You can definitely catch me coming mad close to the bassline from their track, "All I Need" on my track, "Haven't Been Home" off my newest release, Skinny God."

III. David Bowie - Let's Dance (1983)

"I stole Let's Dance from this vegan Asian with a f***ed up eye because she was a d*ck. Then, I [listened] to it non-stop for a month. I definitely owe Bowie and Iggy Pop mad props, especially, when it comes to dropping a saxophone in the middle of a track (ie: "Free Loot" & "Island.") That's gonna wrap it up for my Beat-maker Bedrock. Find me on Instagram, @turbocrunch to find out where my next show is. And go check out Skinny God. It's out everywhere: iTunes, Spotify, TIDAL, Google Play, Amazon Music, etc."

Last June, my buddy Omarey and I trekked into South Philly on a Friday night for a "Punk-Rap" show at The Pharmacy. Featured on the bill, along with The Grim Reaper, were The Sh*thawks, Felipe Pupo, MANIKINETER, Planet 88, and King Ani Mal. To be completely honest, Omarey and I had really, only gone to witness Carl Kavorkian's then newly-minted Noise-Rap project, MANIKINETER, as well as E. Grizzly's band, Felipe Pupo; although, due to a slight navigation error, we parked 10 blocks in the wrong direction and had to walk a half hour or so to the venue in the sweltering heat. Needless to say, we unfortunately missed MANIKINETER's opening set, but were still able to meet both Carl Kavorkian and E. Grizzly, as well as Quinn AKA Riff Quantum from STATIC BROTHERS. We still ended up staying for the rest of the bands on the bill and watched sets frantic sets from The Sh*thawks, Felipe Pupo, Planet 88, and lastly, King Ani Mal. A South Philly rapper-producer, also known as AnimalBeats, originally hailing from Gulf Port, Mississippi. Now, without sounding too brash, brazen, or overtly critical, King Ani Mal's music is a bit more Soundcloud/Ringtone Rap-leaning than our typical Indie/Underground Hip-Hop fare here at The Witzard.

I've since listened to more of King Ani Mal's music—namely, 2017's Skinny God and recent Singles Collection—and I would loosely compare Ani Mal's genre-eschewing output to that of Big K.R.I.T. Danny Brown, Migos, Wiz Khalifa, and Young Thug with an added Punk/Hardcore edge. I will, however, say this: that night at The Pharmacy, King Ani Mal had an entire room full of Punk-Rap kids, as well as myself, Omarey, Carl Kavorkian, and Erik "E." Grizzly completely enthralled in his late night show-closing performance. It was great to see an extremely diverse all-ages crowd from completely different backgrounds join together for a fun, lively Hip-Hop performance in a dingy, hole-in-the-wall South PHilly club. King Ani Mal's full-length debut, Skinny God is now available on "every streaming platform," along with his 7-track Singles Collection. For frequent updates and show announcements, Follow King Ani Mal on Instagram & Twitter at @turbocrunch, King Ani Mal (kinganimal-1) on audiomack, and simply, "King Ani Mal" on both Spotify & YouTube.

Tom Caruana Re-visits Wu-Tang & Jimi Hendrix Mash-up Left-overs for Black Gold - Spare Nuggets & 2LP Vinyl Re-issue (Tea Sea Records)

Not to be confused with similarly-named Davey Havok-fronted Horror Punk band, Son of Sam is a Soul/Funk-inflected Instrumental Hip-Hop band hailing from "Cinder Hill," UK. Founded by Sam Brothers John (drums) and Joe (bass & guitar) Son of Sam unleashed their 2017 debut, CINDER HILL with assistance from fellow bandmates Dutch Halligan wielding keyboard, flute & sax) and Tom Caruana helming percussion & production. Tea Sea Records-released CINDER HILL features a slew of emcees and vocalists including John Robinson, Sadat X, The Black Opera, Guilty Simpson, Organized Konfusion's Prince Po, Denmark Vessey, Quelle Chris, Masta Ace, and Large Pro. Tom Caruana, actually, runs Tea Sea Records, which boasts Son of Sam, The Menagerie, Professor Elemental, Dr. Syntax, Klondike Kids, longusto, Boiler Room Collective, and Grand Agent amongst their eclectic roster, as well as Caruana's own original works and mash-ups. Yes, while Tom Caruana has actively been creating and releasing music since 2002, he's likely, best know for his iconic genre-eschewing mash-up albums; sonic benchmarks of his mash-up cannon include Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles - Enter: The Magical Mystery Chambers, Wu-Tang & Jimi Hendrix - Black Gold, Okayplayer: The Bollywood Remake, and Dan Lish-illustrated An Adventure to Pepperland Through Rhyme & Space.

While he's working on a number of as-yet-unannounced top-secret projects, it seems as though Tom Caruana has been doing a bit of seasonal hard drive cleaning; in recent weeks, having released the latest installment of his on-going Rough Versions Remix Series: BIGGIE (Vol. 6,) Son of Sam CINDER HILL Sessions left-over "Where The Hearts At" with Stones Throw affiliate Rasco, and most recently, Black Gold - Spare Nuggets. A stylistic continuation of his 2011 masterpiece, Wu-Tang vs. Jimi Hendrix - Black Gold, Spare Nuggets consists of "a bunch of tracks that got left off the Black Gold album—mostly, beats from Black Gold with [different] acapellas." Even Tom Caruana himself (@teaseacaruana) seemed a bit surprised with some of the dusty nuggets he dug up for Black Gold - Spare Nuggets, writing on Instagram: "there's some interesting bits on there that I had completely forgotten about..." Tom Caruana Presents: Black Gold - Spare Nuggets is currently available to stream or download on Tea Sea Records' Bandcamp page, along with the rest of Caruana's expansive back catalog. Next up for Tom Caruana is a collaborative 7-inch/digital EP with Boog Brown, which should become available within just "a few weeks."

"Whilst going through files in preparation for doing Black Gold on vinyl, I found a bunch of stuff that got left off the main album; so, I threw them together... super-rough, quick mixes/master. I think, there's some vocals that are a bit out of time... the kind of stuff that I would do, if I worked on them for longer... anyway, if you like the main album, this is the better of the scraps that didn't make it onto the main album, for one reason or another... enjoy!

PS: double-vinyl coming soon!
LP1 - Wu-Tang vocal tracks
LP2 - [Hendrix] instrumentals"

- Tom Caruana (Bandcamp)

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hangar 18 Unleash 4-track Collection of Previously Unreleased & Widely Unavailable Songs from Sweep The Leg Sessions (HANGAR RARITIES)

For this article, I've decided to employ one of the oldest writing tactics from deep within my journalistic bag-of-tricks: "WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, WHY..." Hangar 18 was Hip-Hop crew consisting of emcees ALASKA & Windnbreeze and DJ paWL. Hangar 18, named after the Megadeath song of the same name, was together from 1994-2009 and released two albums—The Multi-Platinum Debut (2004) and Sweep The Leg (2007)—El-P's legendary and now-defunct Definitive Jux Records AKA Def Jux. Hangar 18 also, self-released both THE SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION CD (2003) and a 2006 compilation album entitled The Donkey Show, Volume 1 with remixes and features from Cryptic AKA Cryptic One, Blockhead, Aesop Rock, Bill G. and Blueprint. Hangar 18's members were also, part of larger New York/Tri-State Area crew Atoms Family, along with Cryptic One, DJ Cip-One, Jestoneart, Kasm, Molecule, Whichcraft, Genesis, Osirrus, Cannibal Ox's Vast Aire & Vordul Mega, and at times, up to 35 assorted members, active from about 1995-2005. Since their 2009 disbandment, ALASKA has released various projects as Crack Epidemic with Kojo Kisseih, IT with Cryptic One, WORDS HURT with Lang Vo, and most recently, He's The PJ, I'm ALASKA with PJ Katz. Director Paul Iannacchino, Jr. AKA DJ paWL filmed and released a 2015 documentary entitled ADULT RAPPERS and around the time of the film's wide release, Hangar 18/Atoms Family briefly re-formed as ATOMS to liberate Demo'd & SANDS, before disappearing back into the shadows of "Rap Dad-itude."

Just this past Friday, June 22nd, ALASKA dusted off a collection of previously unreleased/widely unavailable gems and unveiled them to the terribly unsuspecting masses; "I just put out a few old Hangar 18 rarities and unreleased songs on Bandcamp because I was bored. Enjoy," @alaska_ATOMS unsuspectingly Tweeted Friday afternoon. Here's what ALASKA told The Witzard about aptly-titled Hangar Rarities, via email: "It is a mix of things from the Sweep The Leg Sessions. Two songs ("Feet to Feet" & "Room to Breathe") are the original versions of songs that ended up on Sweep The Leg. We changed "Room to Breathe" because, if I recall correctly, we were idiots haha. And we changed "Feet to Feet" because of the sample used; Def Jux was very wary about sample clearance, after some issues with RJD2's albums. "[Tell] Me What You Got" was never released. We decided to keep it off the album for reasons I don't really remember. "Who Said It Best" was released as a digital B-side, I think, from the first single off of Sweep The Leg, if I recall correctly." Hangar 18's newly-unearthed Hangar Rarities EP is now available on Bandcamp for the extremely reasonable price of $2.00 flat. Plus, if you somehow still need convincing, Hangar Rarities' cover boasts a still image from Will Smith & Kevin James AKA ALASKA's 2005 Rom-Com, Hitch.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sure Fire Soul Ensemble & Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact Drummer Jake Najor Releases D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS 7-inch (Common Good Records)

Jake Najor is a world-renown drummer and frontman of newly-formed group, Jake Najor & The Moment of Truth. The GRAMMY-nominated drummer has played breaks for and performed alongside the likes of Redman, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, M.O.P. Percee P, The Beatnuts, SOUP (Jurassic 5) Raphael Saadiq, Jason Mraz, TV On The Radio, Joss Stone, Eamon with Connie Price & The Keystones, Kelis, Aloe Blacc, Kurtis Blow, Rebecca Jade & The Cold Fact, and Empire of The Sun. Jake Najor & The Moment of Truth was very recently established in San Diego, California and showcases the talents of Nick Costa on guitar, Tim Felton on keys, Matt Labarber on bass, and of course, frontman Jake Najor behind the drum kit. Jake Najor (@thenaj) & The Moment of Truth (@momentoftruthsd) are currently preparing their full-length debut, IN THE CUT, for a tentative release on The Redwoods Music this upcoming Fall. However, for the time being, Najor is channeling his creative energies into his first proper "solo" release; D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS (read: "DIRTY MONEY BREAKS") is now available for pre-order on Los Angeles-based Common Good Records ahead of it's July 6, 2018 wide release.

D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS is still available in a number of formats, including One x 7" Vinyl, Two x 7" Vinyl, and Digital Album all packaged with: 1.) digital, unedited streams of 8 royalty-free drum breaks, PLUS 8 additional unreleased drum breaks (16 breaks total!) and 2.) exclusive "PRODUCER DRUM KIT" with 100+ .WAV-formatted drums; "a full drum kit right out of the box!" Common Good Records simply describes D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS as being formatted "for the beat-makers, break collectors, crate diggers, and DJ's - a drum break 7" record from Sure Fire Soul Ensemble drummer Jake Najor..." D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS was recorded by Moment of Truth keyboardist Tim Felton at The Kitchen II Studio and was mastered by Markie B. for Better Beat Bureau with all drums played by Jake "The Naj" Najor. D$RTY M$NEY BREAKS is currently available for pre-order from Common Good Records in either single or "doubles" 7-inch sets with ALL pre-orders including a limited edition "money green"-tinted insert cover. There's currently a 1-minute "Dirty Money Breaks" (sampler mix) streaming on Common Good's Bandcamp page ahead of the record's Friday, July 6th digital/wide release with physical orders shipping out on or around July 5, 2018. For those interested, there's a comprehensive interview/profile fittingly titled "Jake Najor is the truth" penned by Seth Combs, which originally ran within The San Diego City Beat's March 2018 issue.