Monday, September 24, 2018

"Where Everybody Knows Your Name:" Otayo Dubbs & Tahaj The First (The Regulars) Unleash Regular Rap On FWMJ's Rappers I Know

Last Friday morning, I received a Bandcamp Notification email from FWMJ's Rappers I Know concerning Otayo "Tayo" Dubb & Tahaj "The First" Edwards AKA The Regulars' Regular Rap (Instrumentals.) However, prior to listening, I already knew it would be Hella dope, judging by a handful of FWMJ's Rappers I Know's past releases: Jay Electronica's Act I: Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (the pledge,) Danny Brown's THE HYBRID, Chris "Daddy" Dave's Chris Dave & The Drumhedz Mixtape, Denmark Vessey's Martin Lucid Dream, Jake One's #PrayerHandsEmoji, and King Mason x Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. (King Mason Remixes.) Needless to say, Tayo Dubb & Tahaj The First's Regular Rap is an impeccable 11-track listen; I would, personally, say Regular Rap/Regular Rap (Instrumentals) is strongly suggested for fans of Black Star, The Cool Kids, The Foreign Exchange, Little Brother, Tanya Morgan, and honestly, even The College Dropout-era Kanye West. Actually, before discovering that there was, in fact, a vocal version of Regular Raps, I listened to the Tahaj The First-produced instrumental version of the album once through this past weekend; I would, also, strongly recommend listening to Regular Rap (Instrumentals) as well, for any beat-minded listeners.

A running theme through Regular Rap is something to the effect of, "Rap's a neighborhood bar and [we're] The Regulars" and it really does feel like Otayo Dubb & Tahaj The First are just a couple guys, who hang out at your local neighborhood Cheers-esque bar, who just so happen to rhyme extremely well and produce neck-snapping beats. "One could say that "The Regulars" have existed for along time now, actually, at least a dozen years or so, if you were to add up all of the times him and I appeared together on a "label release,"' according to Tahaj The First himself. While Regular Rap was released earlier this month on FWMJ's Rappers I Know, both Otayo Dubb & Tahaj The First have long self-released their solo and collaborative projects on their own labels, Otayo's Beat ROCK and Tahaj's now-defunct Drumdealer Music (or DRM DRL) with the latter, actually, having released The Regulars' debut 2016 single, "REGULAR BASIS." In addition to Tahaj The First & Tayo Dubb, Regular Rap features vocal assists throughout from rhyming friends and friends of friends, such as: Tha Alkaholiks' J-Ro, Rasco of Cali Agents, D-Wiz, Z-Man, L*Roneous, Sakima of The Co-Deez, The Watershed's EQUIPTO, and White Mic. The Regulars' Regular Rap & Regular Rap (Instrumentals) are both currently available to purchase or stream on FWMJ's Rappers I Know's Bandcamp page. RIK.Supply, also, has a variety of Cheers & Reynolds Wrap-evoking The Regulars T-shirts and miscellaneous accessories available to purchase, as well.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rolled Gold Returns with Lunchtime Special Boogieman Dela "Hustler" (Remix) from Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast Follow-up

Rolled Gold is the production alias of Philly-based beat-maker, multi-instrumentalist, and charismatic remixer Harry Metz. Over the course of the past year or so, Rolled Gold has become something of a mainstay and frequent collaborator, as you may have already noticed, here at The Witzard. It's been great to personally see Harry's whole sound, style, and musical approach grow and progress since his 2016 EP, The Great Fallback, with fellow Philadelphian, Uncle Crimson. What I have noticed, however, is Rolled Gold's tendency to continually construct and release easily-digestible "bite"-sized projects, which are generally, very short and concise, yet extremely enjoyable and exceedingly well-orchestrated. For an example of what I'm talking about, I would strongly suggest checking out Rolled Gold's SALTY (3P) EP, "The Field" Feat. No Headliner, "Nite Owl's Theme" Feat. Ai​-​Que & Reef The Lost Cauze, and Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast on his Bandcamp & Soundcloud pages. Now, Rolled Gold has "returned to the table" (no pun intended!) to deliver the first "taste" of his as-yet-untitled "lunch tape," a remix of Boogieman Dela's "Hustler."

"Lunch tape" is poised to be the natural follow-up to Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast and was more or less, constructed in a similar manner; a 10-12 minute mini-mixtape/continuous mix constructed from original compositions and instrumentals played by Rolled Gold himself and his go-to cast of characters and then, painstakingly sampled and re-constructed from the ground up. Although, I digress... "While the second installment of this series is in-the-making, he's selected a single full remix to release as a preview single: "Hustler" by Boogieman Dela, originally from Boogie's Future Currents EP," Rolled Gold writes within a press release. "Hustler" (Remix) now contains, in contrast to the Rolled Gold-produced original, a pitched-down, almost Chopped & screwed, Bluesy quality to Boogieman Dela's unique half sung/half rapped vocal delivery. However, as Rolled Gold fittingly describes it, "Hustler" (Remix) "still holds a Funky groove with the drums, bass line, and birds chirping in the background." Rolled Gold's as-yet-untitled "lunch tape" will become available on his various digital/streaming platforms by or before November 2018.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tranzformer's Dirty Dome Records with Dankery Harv AKA Dank from Frank-N-Dank, Dusty Crates & Toxic Thoughts (Record Label Profile)

Airic "Tranzformer" Estala is a San Diego-based producer, emcee, beat-maker, and Punk Rock/Experimental artist born in raised in El Centro, California. Estala has previously collaborated with Blu, J57, Blame One, Guilty Simpson, Frank-N-Dank, ILL BILL, Rick Gonzalez, Planet Asia, Johaz, CashUs King FKA Co$$, Koncept, and more. Tranzformer is affiliated with producer J57's newly-launched FiveSe7en Collective (@FiveSe7enCollective,) New York-based record label and digital distributor Soulspazm Records (@Soulspazm,) and his own label imprint, Dirty Dome Records (@dirty_dome_records_.) Since launching his Bandcamp page around 2013, Tranzformer has self-released a staggering 29 projects, be they beat tapes, albums, mixtapes, singles, or EP's. For the purposes of The Witzard's introductory feature on Tranzformer & Dirty Dome Records, I would, however, like to primarily focus on Tranz's currently released and as-yet-unreleased body of work with Dankery Harv AKA Dank of long-time J Dilla affiliated group, Frank-N-Dank. Airic Estala & Dankery Harv first met during the earliest aughts of The Internet and social media on MySpace and organically started working together, as Tranzformer produced a few beats for Frank-N-Dank.

Their first album-length collaborative release, ALL AMERICAN HOOD was a 2015 EP issued on Dirty Dome Records with rhymes from Dank AKA Dankery Harv and beats constructed by Tranzformer & J-Science AKA Smash Bro$. It will soon be followed up by a full-length Dankery Harv x Tranzformer x Smash Bro$ LP called Late Night Labour. In addition to the 3-man group, Dank & Tranzformer are also, part of a Hip-Hop group together called Dusty Crates; they released a 2017 5-track EP together, simply called DUSTY CRATES, which was attributed to "Tranzformer & Dankery Harv" on the project's cover artwork. About 9 months ago, Dirty Dome Records quietly released a track on their Soundcloud called "Solar System" Feat. CashUs King FKA Co$$ from Tranzformer X Dankery Harv's impending Late Night Labour EP/LP. Last, but not least, is Tranzformer & Dank's third and final group (for now!) together: Toxic Thoughts. Here, Tranzformer is known as "Rugged Spitter" and Dankery Harv is referred to as "Big Heavy." Toxic Thoughts is more of a Punk Rock/Hip-Hop/Experimental music-leaning duo and is deeply influenced by Airic Estala's Punk/Hardcore roots.

Toxic Thoughts have, so far, released one track, "Real Friends"—no, not a Kanye West cover—which was uploaded to Tranzformer aka Dirtydome's Soundcloud page about 10 months ago. "Real Friends" sounds vaguely similar to Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Skinhead Rob, and Blink-182's Travis Barker's Punk Rock/Hip-Hop super-group, Transplants, and their extremely strong genre-blending 2005 album, Haunted Cities. Toxic Thoughts are currently finishing up their self-titled debut EP, which will, likely, be released at some point within the next few months. Also, coming soon on Dirty Dome/Soulspazm Records: Tranzformer X Dankery Harv (Dusty Crates)' Late Night Labour with Smash Bro$, Tranzformer & Spray Money's Voyage One album dropping on Halloween, and plenty more as-yet-unannounced solo and collaborative projects. Since August, Tranzformer has unleashed a new album, Raw Odyssey, with Grey Era and a slew of talented emcees, as well as his own Random Flips EP, which was just re-released earlier this week with 2 newly-added Bonus Tracks. All of the aforementioned projects are now available on Dirty Dome Records/Tranzformer's Bandcamp & Soundcloud pages.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Zipsquad Emcee Scorcese Shells Returns with "Untitled" (@ZillaRocca Remix) Feat. @KillerMike & @PastorTroyDSGB from A Remix Only Gods Know

A World Only Gods Know is a collaborative project from Dallas-based producers Alpha Davis & Chris Wright (The Directors) and Philly-bred emcee Scorcese Shells AKA Alpha X Scorcese/God Knows, which was released this past March. At the time, I got a number of emails about the project and really dug it, but, unfortunately, for whatever reasons, was unable to cover A World Only Gods Know within the pages of The Witzard. I've since gotten to know Brooklyn-based producer Jason/Griff (@iamJasonGriff) who's worked with Zilla Rocca, My Man Shafe, PremRock, Curly Castro, Kid Sister, Mr. Lif, and Akrobatik. Lo and behold, Jason Griff is currently working on a project with Scorcese Shells called Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint in collaboration with independent wrestler and "1996 Source Awards winner" Stokley Hathaway slated to be released this December. I've since been in touch with both Jason Griff & Scorcese Shells and have heard a number of rough, unmastered, yet extremely promising cuts from Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint. I've learned that in addition to Griff X Scorcese's Dream Team project, Scorcese Shells is currently putting together a comprehensive A World Only Gods Know remix project, cleverly dubbed A Remix Only Gods Know.

It will consist of Sides A-B, much like a dusty old vinyl record of cassette tape; with "Side A" containing 8 remixes using the original vocals from Alpha X Scorcese's A World Only Gods Know and "Side B" containing new remixes with entirely new vocals, guests, etc. A Remix Only Gods Know will feature original remixes hand-crafted by Camoflauge Monk, Disco Vietnam, Doe Pesci, Farma Beats, Jason/Griff, L'Orange, Tony Dark, and Zilla Rocca. Ahead of the project, Gods Know have bestowed "Untitled" (@ZillaRocca Remix) Feat. @KillerMike & @PastorTroyDSGB upon the terribly unsuspecting World of Hip-Hop; this is, actually, Zilla's second time remixing a Killer Mike-assisted composition, as he previous remixed "This Ecstatic Cult" Feat. Killer Mike, Kool A.D. & Gabriel Bryant from Lushlife's 2017 ACLU charity comp. MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER or IDOLS + ENEMIES. Below, you'll find artist statements on "Untitled" (Remix) from both Scorcese Shells & Zilla Rocca, as well as the original version of "Untitled" from Alpha X Scorcese's A World Only Gods Know for comparison. Griff X Scorcese's Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint, as well as Scorcese Shells' A Remix Only Gods Know are both expected to be released to the masses before year's end.

"For "Untitled," I wanted to pay homage to two of my favorite records ever: [Mobb Deep's] "Hell On Earth" and [Pastor Troy's] "Vica Versa." I approached the song as a broken man—someone who was willing to give in to his worst instincts—and, although, I'm not religious, I felt that the metaphor of "arguing with The Devil" was an easy way to convey that emotional track. Being able to get Killer Mike & Pastor Troy on the record was mostly luck, but their approach turned the record into something special.

I chose Zilla Rocca to remix this record because of [Career Crooks'] "Angel Dust" and "98 Avirex Flow." He infused a very, very dark record with the menace that reminded me so much of Goodie Mob & DJ Muggs' "Decisions, Decisions!" I really love all the elements of the record and Prodigy at the end just makes it a perfect introduction to A Remix Only Gods Know, which remixes some of my supporters' favorite records from my solo project, A World Only Gods Know."

- Scorcese Shells (@Zipsquad_JihaD)

"For the remix, I was going for an Alchemist meets UGK vibe. There's heavy imagery and symbolism to God and devils—plus, Killer Mike & Pastor Troy—so, I went with a burnt Southern Goth-type of bounce, too."

- Zilla Rocca (@ZillaRocca)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band's Björn Wagner Talks Steelpan Drums, Re-working Hip-Hop Hits, The Serpent's Mouth & More (The Witzard Interview)

Hip-Hop recently celebrated its 45th "Birthday" this past Saturday, August 11th on the anniversary of DJ Kool Herc's now-infamous Back-to-School Jam at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue AKA The "Rec Room" in The Bronx. Hip-Hop has gone through many stylistic permutations in the 44 years since, inadvertently birthing multiple sub-genres including: Boom-Bap, Gangsta/Mafioso Rap, Electro-Rap, Trip-Hop, Noise Rap, Chopped & Screwed, Trap/Drill, Horrorcore, New Jack Swing, Backpack Rap, and more. However, one of my personal favorites sub-genres of Hip-Hop is Instrumental Hip-Hop—no, not Breakbeat or J Dilla's Beat CD '05-style beat tapes—think, something more along the lines of The Roots with self-played interpolated "samples," rather than sampling actual records, tapes, CD's, etc. Aside from The Legendary Roots Crew, one of my favorite Instrumental Hip-Hop groups is Truth & Soul/Big Crown Records co-founder Leon Michels' El Michels Affair, who painstakingly constructed Wu-Tang Clan-flipping genre benchmarks Enter: The 37th Chamber & Return to The 37th Chamber. A few additional note-worthy artists within the sub-genre are Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, Brownout/Brown Sabbath, Butcher Brown, Clutchy Hopkins & The Misled Children, DJ Premier & The Badder Band, The Menahan Street Band, The Whitefield Brothers, and Madlib's Yesterdays New Quintet. Now, one of the aforementioned groups, The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (BRSB) have returned with their second album and thank to Mike Lewis at Lewis Recordings/Rap & Soul Promo/Three Pin PR, I was fortunate enough to interview their band leader and multi-instrumentalist, Björn Wagner. Across two albums and various singles, The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band has re-interpreted everyone from 50 Cent to Cat Stevens. Please, feel free to peruse our comprehensive interview below, while you listen to BRSB's phenomenal steel pan-accented The Serpent's Mouth. It's now available to purchase or stream in multiple formats from Brooklyn-based Big Crown Records.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Senior Writer & Editor-In-Chief

I. How, in your opinion, has Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (BRSB)'s sound progressed and grown between The Serpent's Mouth and the band's 2016 debut, 55? I was recently reading this record implements some newly-discovered recording techniques, as well.

The sound has improved, as I used a room with a wooden floor and walls for the pan recordings. It has a beautiful air, so I could mic the instruments from a greater distance. Concrete and carpets require closer mic placements, which, in turn, emphasize the noise portion. That wooden room has a ring that emphasizes the actual tone nicely. Another key factor is that I put the mixing in the trusted hands of my brother, Steffen, who worked a miracle to make the recordings sound "as one," which is crazy, when you consider in how many places and with how many different musicians they were recorded.

II. Who are the members and various players within Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band? How did you first meet and decide to start recording music together?

The Bacao started as a side-project of The Mighty Mocambos, which is a horn-led Funk band. We had been playing together since we were teenagers and so, [we] just added another family of instruments and gave it a different name to hint at the sound.

III. How exactly do you go about deciding which songs to re-imagine in your unique steel drum-accented Soul/Funk style? For every song that appears within 55 & The Serpent's Mouth, how many more compositions did BRSB attempt to record and ultimately, end up scrapping?

I go by what I would love to hear, personally, and bounce ideas back-and-forth with Danny Akalepse from Big Crown, who always comes up with a list of suggestions, out of which, I cherry-pick the ones that I 100% "feel." A cover has to have a certain twist to make it worth-while and I usually know within seconds, if I can get there. I scrapped only one track, for which I had already recorded the rhythm section, when I found out that it did not sound good on pans and that I could not bring it any further.

IV. For those who may be unaware, would you mind briefly describing how a steel drum/pan is typically played? How many different types or styles of steel drums can be heard throughout The Serpent's Mouth?

Once the instrument is made with its wok-like sink and hammered tone fields out of an oil barrel, you play them with rubber-tipped wooden sticks. In physical acoustic logic, the bigger the field, the lower the note. Orchestral bass pans have as many as 6 to 12 barrels. We have two different "tenor pans," which are the highest and despite their name, sit in the soprano range; and one "double second," which consists of two drums (as the name implies,) together, making one chromatic instrument. That gives us the range of a horn section, while the lower registers are covered by bass and electric guitar.

V. Now, I instantly recognized Dr. Dre's "Xxplosive," Mobb Deep's "Burn," Amerie's "1Thing," and Gang Starr's "All for The Cash," but what else appears within The Serpent's Mouth?

There's also, a cover of Lennie Hibbert's "Real Hot," which, itself, is a vibraphone-led instrumental of the Rocksteady tune, "Tonight" by Keith & Tex. This came so naturally, playing the vibraphone lines on steel drums. Then, there's "Crockett's Theme" from Miami Vice. I always loved that melody and its cosmic vibe and I am thrilled how it works without synthesizers. Not to forget Mary J. Blige's "I Love You" with the memorable piano line from Isaac Hayes' "Ike's Mood."

VI. What exactly is the album title, "The Serpent's Mouth" intended to mean or convey?

The Serpent's Mouth is the 8-mile strait between Venezuela and the South-western tip of the island of Trinidad. This sea passage—with all its beauty and danger—is a synonym for our musical travels on this album.

VII. What does Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band's typical recording process generally entail? How does a song, such as "Great to Be Here" (The Jackson 5) for example, get re-imagined and created from start to finish?

It always starts with the rhythm section. The drum sound, in particular. Then, the different steel instruments are arranged in sections: the lower "double seconds" for chords, doubling the bass guitar line, as in "Great to Be Here," and the high "tenor pans" for melodies. If there are counter melodies, we add horns. You hear a lot of interplay between pans and horns on the album.

VIII. Following a string of 7-inch singles on Mocambo/Plane Jane, what made you decide to start releasing BRSB's music exclusively on Brooklyn-based Big Crown Records?

We had been putting out 45's on our own Mocambo Records label and then, Danny Akalepse—then, of Truth & Soul—approached me. We swapped some records and he, then, told me that The Bacao version of [50 Cent's] "P.I.M.P." was smashing dance floors. I had already [been] thinking about following the singles with a long-player, but took some time, as I enjoyed keeping the mystery of the band. Danny not only encouraged me to, eventually, do the first album, but provided great ideas and inspiration. Truth & Soul and then, Big Crown are among my favorite labels and to have someone in The US does certainly help to reach a wider audience.

IX. Have you taken any inspiration and influence (direct or indirect) from Big Crown co-founder Leon Michels and his band, El Michels Affair's Wu-Tang Clan-flipping Enter: The 37th Chamber & Return to The 37th Chamber?

Not so much, at first. When we first did "P.I.M.P." there were a couple of Funk bands doing versions of Hip-Hop staples that were based on Soul samples, so they were basically re-playing stuff that had already been played by a band. The clue with "P.I.M.P." is that the steel drums on it are from a keyboard, so we re-imagined it as if it would have been a "band original" with real instruments. Later on, when I signed with Big Crown, I would, of course, have a closer look at El Michels' work. Leon's Wu-Tang interpretations are amazing; he really took it somewhere else. I could never have done that, especially, when restricting yourself to just one band.

X. Why have yourself and your fellow BRSB band mates chosen to remain largely anonymous and instead, have been represented by dapper-dressed, alien-like steel pan drum-headed creatures on your album covers and public imagery? Who designed 55 & The Serpent's Mouth's album sleeves?

There was a lot of mystery around the first 45's. Instead of promoting them as a side-project of The Mighty Mocambos, we left it open as to who was behind the band, as we wanted the music to speak for itself. It went as far as people taking it for an obscure group from the 70's that had provided original samples. People like to create their own "head cinema"—they need aliens and fantasy in their lives. An accurate group shot would not represent the music we do. Our passport names are on the record, though. The art direction is by Danny Akalepse, Sesse Lind took the photos, and Nicole Ras did the graphic design.

XI. Amidst an album largely full of re-imagined covers, there are a few original pieces featured within The Serpent's Mouth, correct? Would you mind briefly speaking on these original Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band compositions?

Half of the songs are originals. We enjoy great creative freedom, when it comes to our own compositions. The greatest thing is that we are not supposed to be a real "steel" band, but a Funk band with a section of pans, which is something that does not usually exist—so, there are no rules or boundaries: we can set our own standard. Take the title track: there are 10 parts made out of 5-6 different ones, which never appear in the same order. The best part of writing our own music is to combine the pans with the horn section—the possibilities are endless! Apart from the "get down" aspect that runs through most of our tracks, there is always a cinematic vision behind a song, which should take the listener to another place.

XII. Now that The Serpent's Mouth has been effectively unleashed into the world, what else does The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band have planned for its release roll-out (ie: singles, music videos, tours, etc.)?

There will be more singles. We love 45's. The band is not touring regularly and does not intend to do club or festival gigs; however, we like to do shows in a special context, say, award shows, TV, or a surprise two-song set within a Mighty Mocambos show.

XIII. Do you have any immediate plans to perform or record vocal versions of your BRSB covers with any of the original artists? Have you ever gotten any particular responses/feedback from either the original artists or their camps?

I would certainly not turn down an offer to perform with the original artists, but it's nothing I have planned for. We've received great feedback from some of them, though: DJ Hi-Tek, for instance, said he dug our version of "Round & Round" from the first LP. We had really hoped to play our version of Mobb Deep's "The Learning (Burn)" to Prodigy, but he sadly, passed away before we finished mixing it.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Former Members of Creep Division, The F---ing Wrath, The Missing 23rd & No Motiv Form Dad Brains & Release 7-inch EP (Pirates Press Records)

Oxnard/Ventura, California-based Punk/Hardcore band Dad Brains are, without a doubt, the epitomy of "Dad Rock" or, as they're calling it, "Dadcore." Drummer-turned vocalist Patrick Pedraza, guitarist Matt Kash, drummer John Crerar, and bassist Craig Kasamis formed Dad Brains—a tongue-in-cheek homage to Bad Brains—in the fall of 2017 around the sheer ideology of playing kid-friendly music for Punk dads and, of course, their families. Dad Brains' members previously spent time playing with No Motiv, The Missing 23rd, Creep Division (members of Sick of It All, Good Riddance & No Motiv,) Night Demon, and The F***ing Wrath. While it appears as though Dad Brains have been playing the local Oxnard Punk circuit for a while now, they quietly released their debut 5-track self-titled EP digitally on, of all days, Father's Day 2018. Now, just three short months later, Dad Brains have effectively re-released their EP on "Rastafarian" Red, Green & Yellow, as well as standard black, 7-inch vinyl on Pirates Press Records. Dad Brains' EP was recorded and mixed by Roger Camero (No Motiv) at The Captains Quarters & Bright Lights Studio and mastered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Studios.

Over the course of less than 10 minutes over 5 frantic tracks, Dad Brains deliver a striking representation of what it's like to be a Punk dad with their mantra being: "Hardcore Punk made by Dads, about Dads, for everyone!" A perfect example of which can be heard on Dad Brains EP closer, "I'm Old" with Pat Pedraza wailing: "who's The Fat Jewish? I don't really know. I'm not in with the scene. I only play local shows. Yeah, I gotta get home to my fam and be a dad; watch The Fixer Upper or maybe, Breaking Bad 'cause I'm old!" When recently interviewed by LA Weekly, Pedraza stated Dad Brains intend to release an EP "every Father's Day" for the foreseeable future. "We hope to get a bit of a cult following. Maybe, [release] a couple of tracks around Christmas. There's always something to write about, as your kids get older and there are different experiences," he continued. Dad Brains' self-titled debut EP is currently available to stream or purchase on the band's Bandcamp page, as well as multiple streaming platforms, and colored 7-inch vinyl records are available to purchase from Pirates Press Records.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Reverend Al Green Releases First New Music In 10 Years with "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" (Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang)

The Reverend Al Green is a world-renown Soul/Gospel singer, song-writer, and record producer. Rev. Green has released countless hits and irresistible classics over the course of his 50+ year career. Although, The Reverend Al Green is likely, best known for a string of 1970's chart-toppers including: "Take Me to The River," "Tired of Being Alone," "I'm Still In Love with You," "Love & Happiness," and Former President Barack Obama's personal favorite, "Let's Stay Together." Now, Rev. Al Green has returned with his first proper single in 10 years, a cover of Freddy Fender's 1975 English/Spanish language hit, "Before The Next Teardrop Falls." It was produced by GRAMMY Award-winning record producer, engineer, and mixer Matt Ross-Spang for Amazon Music's newly-launched Produced By singles series. Matt Ross-Spang has either produce or engineered albums for Margo Price, Lucero, Chris Isaak, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Sheepdogs, Elle King, and even a posthumous 2016 Elvis Presley album for RCA/Legacy Recordings.

Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang is an artist-curated playlist, which was released over the course of this week and features Ross-Spang's recent works with Margo Price, John Prine, The Reverend Al Green, of course, and William Bell. Amazon Music promises "future Produced By installments will feature acclaimed producers and artists from a variety of genres including Latin, Indie, Country, and R&B." It's also, worth noting The Reverend Al Green & Matt Ross-Spang's rendition of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" features his long-time organ player, The Reverend Charles Hodges, who hasn't played on an Al Green song since appearing on 1976's Full of Fire as part of The Hi Rhythm Section. The Reverend Al Green's last full-length album was Lay It Down (2008) released on Blue Note Records and produced by Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson & James Poyser of The Roots. "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" is now available to stream or download exclusively on Amazon Music, as part of their on-site Produced By: Matt Ross-Spang playlist.

"As a lifelong Memphian, I've always been a massive fan of Al Green and his producer Willie Mitchell. Together, they created some of the most enduring Soul music. Sonically speaking, Willie & Al, also, really invented a distinct sound that separated them from STAX or Motown [Records]. Growing up in a such a rich musical heritage, I became captivated by these records and long dreamed of working with Al Green. I've always loved the Linda Martell version of "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and kept it back pocket as a great cover idea for him. It follows in the footsteps of Willie & Al re-interpreting Country songs, like "For The Good Times" and "Funny How Time Slips Away." I still can't believe we actually got to do it! As first and foremost, a music fan and now as a producer, I've always been drawn to artists with unique voices whose gift transcends genre and time. I'm excited and honored to play a role in this innovative opportunity Amazon Music is providing these extraordinary individuals. As my hero, Sam Phillips said: "if you're not doing something different, you're not doing anything!'"

- Matt Ross-Spang (Southern Grooves)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Illinois Post-Punk/Hardcore Mainstays Hacked Nudes & Man Bites Dog Return for Collaborative Split EP (In The Lake Records)

Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is Illinois-based DIY label In The Lake Records (@itl_recs)' 13th release. It was released earlier today, September 13th, at 1:00pm AKA 13:00 Central Daylight Time. Hacked Nudes is a self-professed Post-Punk/Reggae three-piece hailing from the Northern suburbs of Chicago with a particular affiliation to Berserk/Dark Circles/In The Lake Records. It appears as though Berserk Records was a functioning label from about 2012-16 and that's, actually, where two-thirds of Hacked Nudes met; In The Lake Records founder and bassist Pete met guitarist/vocalist John E. Swan III of polynerve—a newly-minted small press and cassette label—while the two were working together at Berserk Records and around 2016, Berserk morphed into ITL Records. The Witzard regulars, at this point, might be familiar with John Swan (@midwest_stress) from his monthly column, Various Artists: How Compilations Influenced a Generation, we've been running here for the past 3-4 months. Swan also, performs solo as t h e m e s and has penned his first novel, Any Way to Elsewhere, to be issued on polynerves next month. However, very little is known about Hacked Nudes' third and final member, drummer, Kevin, aside from the fact that he's a "long-time friend" of both Pete & John. From 2004-08, Pete & Kevin were in a band called Britvas together and started Hacked Nudes in 2009. Split EP is Hacked Nudes' first proper full-length release since 2015's Hacked Nudes & Singles EP. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP was originally intended to be a four-way split LP, which would have featured the two Illinois bands, as well as two additional bands.

However, the finalized just-released EP now features 3 songs from each act. Hacked Nudes' contributions to Split EP were recorded about 2.5-3 years ago by Jeremy Judy at Ten Spot Recording, while, it appears as though, the contents of Man Bites Dogs' side were recorded far more recently. Man Bites Dog are a like-minded band, also, hailing from Illinois, consisting of Omar Garcia on vocals/guitar, Declan Coughlan on bass, Andy Soderstrom on drums, "honorary awesome dude" Greg Lamp, and "honorary heart-breaker/awesome dude" Mike Lindsey. It appears as though Split EP is Man Bites Dog's first proper release since their 2014 MBD EP1. "Stargaze" from Man Bites Dog's side, as well as an early demo version of Hacked Nudes' "Diced Onions" both appeared within ITL's third proper release, Festival: In The Lake digital album/cassette compilation. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is currently available online, although, it's limited to just 50 pink shell cassette tapes; 25 available at In The Lake Records' Bandcamp page and the remaining 25 available directly from Man Bites Dog. For a limited time, ITL are offering what they're billing as "The Hacked Nudes Collection" (5) which contains Split EP and their 2015 self-titled EP, as well as a compilation selected at random and ITL/Hacked Nudes pins. Hacked Nudes / Man Bites Dog's Split EP is recommended for fans of At The Drive-In, Against Me! Hot Water Music, Cap'n Jazz, and "other very cool things," as @midwest_stress writes on Instagram. For regular updates, you can Follow Hacked Nudes (@ProhibitionRiot) on Twitter and Man Bites Dog (@ManBitesDogIL) on Facebook/Instagram, as well as @ITLRecs on Twitter.

UllNevaNo & illien rosewell Return for Third Installment of Basketball-themed Confidence Is Everything Series CIE3 (MGNTK.)

Not entirely unlike how Action Bronson has grown to become associated with savory food-themed rhymes or how Westside Gunn & Conway The Machine's rhymes are littered with references to pro wrestling, Baltimore emcee UllNevaNo has become synonymous with basketball-themed rhyme schemes; in recent years, UllNevaNo has let loose a string of "slam dunks," including Confidence Is Everything (CIE) 1-2 produced by illien rosewell, The Ghost of Len Bias EP helmed by Jumbled, and his #SHAMMGODWEDS singles series AKA SHAMMGOD EP produced by MANHE. Now, UllNevaNo & illien rosewell are back with the third installment in their critically-acclaimed CIE series, Confidence Is Everything 3. Neva & illien, actually, recorded CIE3 at Kuzoe Crib in Maryland live "in the flesh" together in the same studio, which has become a rarity in The Internet Age.

"Confidence Is Everything 3 is 8 records of well-structured Hip-Hop [that's] all we need from this duo and the chemistry shows throughout the album," UllNevaNo & illien rosewell's label/collective, MGNTK. writes on their Bandcamp page. CIE3 is chock-full of references to both basketball and "streetwear," as can be seen on track titles such as "63 In Boston"—an allusion to Michael Jordan's infamous 63-point scoring game against The CelticsNike Dunk SB-referencing "Paris Low Dunks," "Chain Nets," an ode to Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon by way of "Olajuwon Dreams," and "99 Rawkus Logo." Unlike previous volumes of CIE, producer illien rosewell, actually, appears alongside UllNevaNo on 2 select cuts from CIE3: the aforementioned "63 In Boston" and mid-album heater "Humble Bad Guy." UllNevaNo & illien rosewell's Confidence is Everything 3 AKA CIE3 is currently available to stream or purchase from MGNTK.'s Bandcamp page, along with CIE1-2 and the rest of the label's release roster.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

TRAPPIST Emerge from Their "Monastery" to Unleash Beer-themed Punk/Hardcore Masterpiece Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse Records)

TRAPPIST is are a band of Los Angeles-based beer enthusiasts consisting of Chris "Brother" Dodge, Phil "Brother" Vera, and Ryan "Brother" Harkins. Bassist & brewer Brother Dodge has previously played with Ancient Chinese Secret, Despise You, East/West Blast Test, No Use for a Name, and SPAZZ; Guitarist & fermenter Brother Vera has spent time playing with -(16)-, Crom, Despise You, and Fresh American Lamb; Drummer & bottler Brother Harkins has played with Killed In Action and currently runs a Metal-themed burger joint called Grill 'em All. TRAPPIST have put together a complete ripper of a debut album titled Ancient Brewing Tactics, which blends together the stylings of Punk/Hardcore, D-beat, Crust Punk, Powerviolence, Grindcore, and a dash of Metal/Thrash. TRAPPIST's label, Relapse Records, fittingly describes Ancient Brewing Tactics as "21 tracks and 33 minutes of booze-induced chaos, bound to knock you on your a$$ faster than shot-gunning a 15% Russian Imperial Stout." TRAPPIST roped in a number of alcohol-fueled features for Ancient Brewing Tactics, including Tony Foresta (Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan,) Torche's Steve Brooks, and Pig Destroyer's Blake Harrison. "NO CORPORATE BEER."

Honestly, nearly everything about TRAPPIST (@trappist_la) is beer-themed, from their band name and album title to the themes bubbling within to the Ancient Brewing Tactics vinyl color schemes: 950 "Schwarzbier" AKA standard black vinyl, 300 "Belgian Golden Ale" AKA yellow vinyl, 100 "English Cask Ale" AKA cream-colored vinyl, and 100 label-only "Empty Pint Glass" AKA clear/see-through vinyl. In my humble beer-loving opinion, one of the finer moments on Ancient Brewing Tactics is TRAPPIST's crusty pseudo-cover of JAY-Z's "99 Problems" now re-branded as "99 Problems (But a Beer Ain't One)" which goes a little somethin' like this: "SO MANY SH*TTY BEERS ALL ACROSS THIS PLANET! IT DOESN'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE, IF YOU BOTTLE OR CAN IT! IF YOU HAVIN' BEER PROBLEMS, I FEEL BAD FOR YOU, SON... I GOT 99 PROBLEMS, BUT A BEER AIN'T ONE!" Now, with that said, I would strongly recommend TRAPPIST's Ancient Brewing Tactics for fans of either fine beers and brews, Punk/Hardcore/Powerviolence/D-beat, or both, much like myself! Belgian Golden Ale & Schwarzbier (Standard) vinyl packages are currently still available, as well Ancient Brewing Tactics T-shirt/CD & T-shirt/LP Bundles, directly from Relapse Records.

TRAPPIST'S Ancient Brewing Tactics Beer Pairings for MUNCHIES

01. "No Soldier Left Behind" (3 Floyds Zombie Dust Pale Ale)

02. "This Means Wort" (FiftyFifty Brewing Eclipse Imperial Stout)

03. "Tesguino" (Cerveza Fauna Penelope Coffee Porter)

04. "The Patron Saints" (Orval Belgian Pale Ale)

05. "Hymn to Ninkasi" (Beachwood Brewing Citraholic IPA)

06. "Waiting In Line - First Stanza" (Jackie O's BBA Oil of Aphrodite with Coffee Imperial Stout)

07. "Giving The Boot to Reinheitsgebot" (Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen Bock)

08. "Swignorant" (The Bruery Mash Barleywine)

09. "Nihamanchnihamnchii" (Insurgente La Lupolsa IPA)

10. "Frank The Tank" (Cigar City Hunahpu's Imperial Stout)

11. "No Corporate Beer" (Eagle Rock Brewery Amwolf Pilsner)

12. "Victims of a Bomber Raid" (Surly Brewing Darkness Russian Imperial Stout)

13. "99 Problems (But a Beer Ain't One)" (TRVE Possession Saison)

14. "Proost-Op" (De Struise Black Albert Russian Imperial Stout)

15. "Waiting In Line - Second Stanza" (The Veil Brewing Daddy's Home Triple IPA)

16. "To The Pint" (Thrash Zone Chris Dodge's Ham Slappin' Aru-Chu Ale Barley Wine)

17. "You're The Reason" (Sante Adairius Saison Bernice Farmhouse Ale)

18. "Garbage Human" (Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Imperial Oatmeal Stout with Vietnamese Coffee)

19. "Waiting In Life - Third Stanza" (Lawson's Finest Liquids Double IPA)

20. "Wolves In The Taproom" (Sierra Nevada Barrel Aged Narwhal Imperial Stout)

21. "TRAPPIST-1: Final Gravity" (Zundert Trappist Abbey Tripel)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

SPAZZ's Dan Lactose Returns for HEALER / DJ Eons One Presents: DANK GOBLINS Split with Tony Molina's HEALER (Warthog Speak Records)

Dan "Lactose" AKA Dan Oblivious AKA DanOne 625 AKA Kung Fu Dan AKA DJ Eons One was once the guitarist/vocalist/sampler for Redwood City, California-based Punk/Hardcore & Powerviolence band, SPAZZ. Although, SPAZZ were only initially active from 1992-2001, Oakland-based imprint Tankcrimes has recently re-released Sweatin' to The Oldies, Sweatin' II: Deported Live Gorilla, and Sweatin' 3: Skatin' Satan & Katon, which were originally issued by 625 Thrashcore/Slap A Ham Records. Aside from SPAZZ, Dan Lactose (@DanLactose) has spent time playing or recording with CCCRRCCSSLLRRKKRRSSS, Crate Goblins, Deny The Cross, Dreonism, Funeral Shock, Grand Invincible, Shadow People, Shed Dwellaz, Sheep Squeeze, Three Wheel Motion, Torture Unit, U.S.F. Underbucket, and more. Lactose has also, recorded and released a number of Hip-Hop/Breakbeat-minded projects attributed to either DJ Eons One, DJ Eon, DJ Eons, or simply Eons One. Since about June 2014, DJ Eons One has released a number of solo projects and splits, including: Revenge of The Crate Goblins 7-inch, Lightbulb & DJ Eons One ‎7", DJ Eons v. Mas. Kohane - Escape from The Planet of The Crate Goblins, and Sell Your Soul Pt. I-II. Amazingly, in addition to all this, I've heard Dan Lactose is currently working on the fourth Grand Invincible album, which will tentatively be called Demolition Strictly. He's also, formed a new Hardcore band called Hard Foul with Frank "Franko" Ripple, Cris (Dead Pressure/ALTARS,) and Kurlee Daddee (Kurlee & Franko Show.) Dan Lactose is wrapping up a limited CD-R of a live performance he did on KFJC 89.7FM, wherein he played a DJ set of all new, original beats; that will be released on his own "label," Tinted Windows Record Co.

I've recently been researching SPAZZ, as well as Dan Lactose and his one-time bandmates' various newly-formed and still active projects. Luke Sick from Megakut Records was kind enough to help me get in direct contact with Dan Lactose AKA DJ Eons One himself; through these emailed transmissions, I've learned that Luke & Dan have, actually, played together on a number of occasions, such as Grand Invincible, Underbucket, a West Bay comp. called LOW BUDGET / NO BUDGET, and now, DJ Eons One's latest group, DANK GOBLINS. It consists of DJ Eons One, Luke Sick, and Franko from Agents of Satan, Deny The Cross, Redacted, etc. plus, Andres Wade (Cogs & Sprockets, Dreonism, God's America) on drums, but according to Eons One, "he will only be appearing, via drum loops lol." DANK GOBLINS are currently preparing to play their first show together on Friday, 9/14/18 at The Knockout in San Francisco with These Bastards, Father Howl, HEALER & MEATSLAB. It's, actually, a release show for their collaborative HEALER / DJ EONS Presents: DANK GOBLINS Split 7-inch, as well as Father Howl's new album, Wayward Doctrine. San Francisco-based Warthog Speak Records released HEALER / DJ Eons One this past May on 250 limited edition 7-inch vinyl copies, as well as four tracks streaming digitally. "One side spins out the sample-laden, blink-and-you-missed-it, 2017 demo of ripping, tearing, and slashing Grind/Violence from HEALER. Originally limited to 50 copies on cassette, this material needed a wider physical audience," as RevHQ perfectly put it within their June 8, 2018 newsletter. Justin Briggs at Warthog Speak told us that HEALER, actually, consists of Tony Molina and a mysterious cast of players. Briggs says that HEALER are currently working on putting together a 7-inch follow-up to their self-titled demo cassette to, eventually, be released on Max "625" Ward's imprint, 625 Thrashcore.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Black Sheep Dres Waxes Poetic On TORTURED SOUL: The Mixtape, Pool of Genius, evitaN with Jarobi White & More (The Witzard Interview)

TORTURED SOUL (The Mixtape) is the latest release from Black Sheep/Black Sheep Dres AKA Andres "Dres" Vargas Titus. Dres was effectively one half of the New York-based group and is now its sole member, which was one of the inner groups within 90's Boom-Bap crew, The Native Tongues Collective. Along with fellow core Natives The Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Lucien Revolucien, Monie Love, Queen Latifah, Chi-Ali & Fu-Schnickens, Black Sheep's Dres & Mista Lawnge helped shape post-Gangsta Rap 1980-90's Hip-Hop. The Native Tongues, unknowingly, spear-headed a Conscious Hip-Hop movement, which would, in turn, influence and help found similar-minded collectives, such as The Flavor Unit MC's, The SpitKicker Crew, The okayplayers, The Soulquarians, and production collective The Ummah. However, after releasing two critically-acclaimed and widely-loved albums, A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing (1991) and Non-Fiction (1994) Black Sheep disbanded, after just six short years together, in 1995. Dres re-appeared in 1999, under the short-lived moniker "Dres The Black Sheep," and issued a widely-praised solo album called Sure Shot Redemption on Black Pearl/Ground Control Records. It appears as though Mista Lawnge re-joined Black Sheep at some point between 2000-06, but has since parted ways with Dres and simply changed the spelling on his name to "Mr. Long."

Although, Lawnge briefly appears throughout Black Sheep's third album, 2006's 8WM/Novakane, by most accounts, he again, parted ways with Dres prior to the album's proper release. Mr. Long quietly unleashed his proper solo debut, The Class of '89 in 2006, while Dres has continued to release music as both Black Sheep & Black Sheep Dres. Dres has since formed his own imprint, Pool of Genius, named after Black Sheep's fourth album, From The Black Pool of Genius (2010) which would release his 2012 debut as evitaN, Speed of Life, recorded at The Sound Machine with A Tribe Called Quest wordsmith Jarobi White. Now, Dres has returned with Black Sheep's fifth album, TORTURED SOUL (The Mixtape) released on Cleopatra/X-Ray Records last month. TORTURED SOUL is the first part in a planned 2-part mixtape/album series and features production work from BeanOne, Showbiz of Showbiz & A.G./D.I.T.C. Jorun Bombay, Paten Locke, Teeko & Ruckazoid, J. Sands, Finian St. Omer, and Jim B. I've been fortunate enough to personally get to know Dres (@DresBlacksheep) over the course of the past year or so and he was kind enough to answer my questions concerning TORTURED SOUL, Pool of Genius, evitaN, Handsome Boy Modelling School, and all things Black Sheep. Black Sheep Dres' TORTURED SOUL is now available to stream or purchase on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and like-minded digital streaming platforms, as well as physical CD on X-Ray Records. * EDITOR'S NOTE: The interview contained below has been lightly edited for general clarity.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Honorable Hip-Hop Historian

I. How exactly did TORTURED SOUL The Mixtape/Album go from being two planned separate Dres solo releases to ultimately, being released as a proper Black Sheep album: TORTURED SOUL (The Mixtape)?

Well, in all actuality, it is a Black Sheep Dres release... and it seems to be garnering the "album" title because of the amount of music, I guess... but it is very intentionally, cohesively flowing in and out of itself, much like a mixtape... I think the mastery of Beanone in taking my vision to another level, also, makes it feel like more than a "mixtape"... but that's what I was hired to create... and it very well may be the introduction to the album of the same name... but probably not... this seems to [be] creating quite a name for itself.

II. How, in your opinion, has your overall sound and style changed and progressed since Black Sheep's last album, 2007's TESTIMONY?

I, nor Lawnge, released an album [in] 2007 called TESTIMONY... my last solo project is entitled FROM THE BLACK POOL OF GENIUS, which was released in June 2010... it, too, is an honest reflection and interpretation of Hip-Hop that would speak for itself, as true Hip-Hop does... it may appear timeless... and may not even conform to a genre... I hung out with a plethora of friends on it, as well... it would behoove you!

III. So, is Black Sheep just a one-man band consisting of you now? What happened to long-time member, William "Mista Lawnge" McLean AKA Mr. Long?

Lawnge and I did our first show together, in over 10 years, this year in Japan. I've been doing my own thing for about a dozen years now. Me and my bro, DJ Strike, have managed to not only keep things at a very high level in our presentation of the vintage stuff... we very well may have taken it up a few notches with the induction of the Indie projects that I have created over the years... TORTURED SOUL, now amongst.

IV. Do you still plan to properly release TORTURED SOUL (The Album)?

The way the current project is structured, there are an abundance of shorter versions of full-length songs to be fused with other new material... but I honestly, like the life that this project seems destined for... might have to re-think that title... new music coming still, [though].

V. Now, I know Paten Locke produced both "FUGITUP" & "Higher," but who produced the remainder of the tracks on TORTURED SOUL?

I'm so blessed to be a brother and friend to some of the most amazing talents in music. Cats that have the ability to feel with it... to turn it inside out, then, piece it together seamlessly... cats that can do it consistently... for years now. My team on this one was family: Showbiz, BeanOne, Jorun Bombay, J. Sands, Teeko & Ruckazoid, Paten Locke, Jim B... I'm gonna send you the back cover, which says who did what and who each feature is.

VI. Would you mind explaining the concept behind your "FUGITUP" music video? Who directed/created it?

"FUGITUP" is the linguistics and New York accent that endears New Yorkers to not just their fellow Americans... but globally.

VII. What can you potentially tell my readers and I about Alexander Simone, Dres? He's currently signed to your label, Pool of Genius, and was featured throughout TORTURED SOUL, correct?

Pool of Genius is blessed to be releasing the first single and video from someone that is going to be amazing us for many years to come, in my opinion. Alexander Simone is one of those generational talents that you know the very first time you hear them do anything in the realm of what they offer. We're currently trying to create the presence and platform worthy the grandson of Nina Simone and his hauntingly soulful abilities... to see him live is to experience heredity in every way that is amazing that you can imagine. Alexander Simone is a special talent!

VIII. What's scheduled to be released next on your label, Pool of Genius?

Well, I've already said that Alexander Simone is being set up right now... just being patient enough to make sure he's situated in a way that is going to maximize what he's bringing to the people. And being that we are totally free creatives with vision, ambition, and strong acquaintances... you never know what we may drop in the interim... just know, it's coming lol.

IX. What was it like re-connecting and working with your fellow Native Tongues members and affiliates Red Alert, Chi Ali & Sadat X on your heart-felt tribute to A Tribe Called Quest's Phife Dawg, "Peace Phife?" I also, noticed elsewhere, on TORTURED SOUL's "My Right Brain," you shouted-out your "brother Show," "brother A.G." and D.I.T.C. (AKA Diggin' In The Crates Crew.)

This was, actually, recorded with none of us recording at the same time or same day. A dear friend and insanely talented producer by the name of Jim B from The Canary Islands, hit me upon Phife's passing. Jim, a student of the game, knowing I have Native history with Phife and had just finished an evitaN project (which he produced on) with Jarobi, said he had a track that he wanted to give to [me] and that he thought it would be something, maybe, we could do a tribute to Phife with. I wanted to hear it! When I received it, I could feel why he felt this worthy... it was warm, but had a strong bounce that was inviting.

After playing it for a day or two on repeat... I, initially, thought The Natives... how amazing it would sound to hear each of our voices saying "peace"... I reached out to everyone that was around me... I felt funny asking everyone to send me their voice just saying "peace" because he had just passed and no one was hearing what I was hearing... it just felt awkward. We were still mourning, so I didn't expect everyone to even see my request, let alone feel like sending their voice blindly. I took everyone that sent... added a few family members... reached out to the cast that we hear... who all didn't blink and laced it beautifully... it came out right. It's been available on Bandcamp for the past two years with every single sale going to Phife's family.

X. I couldn't help but notice you recruited your evitaN partner-in-rhyme, Jarobi White (A Tribe Called Quest) for "Higher" from TORTURED SOUL; what's currently happening with evitaN's Speed of Life (2012) follow-up?

I'm elated to be able to say that Jarobi and I have decided to put [out] an EP together this Fall. I think it's gonna be beyond fly. The experience of the first one was amazing. It's one of Hip-Hop's finest sleepers... like finding a knot of hundreds in your sock draw that you didn't know was there or how long. Just receive it in time. To step on the coattail of that, especially, with the vision and ability that Jarobi and I share buckets of... it's gonna be something unorthodox reeking fly authenticity. First album, [Speed of Life], should be "required reading."

XI. What was it like working with Handsome Boy Modelling School on "First... and Then" from their 2004 album, White People? It seems as though Prince Paul & Dan The Automator are currently working on a third album together... have you gotten "the call" yet?

It was so very very dope. That entire experience was just fly and handsome. I've known Paul since the begins of my career as a signed artist and we've always been cooler than cool. He had reached out and asked if I'd be down to jump on something for the Handsome Boy project that they were working on. I didn't know Dan, but that was remedied at the studio, when we met in regards to recording the song. I was really psyched to see how this track was going to come out because they had picked it out and though I felt it was dope, I didn't think it was something that I would have picked out for myself. This speaks to the genius of Prince Paul, in my opinion, though. He heard it and I'm just glad I trusted them. We toured the country, as well, off that album... they probably did a few times... the run I did with them, we had a sake sponsor... I'm sayin'!

XII. Are your sons, Honor (Cerebral Ballzy) & Sidney Max both still actively making music? Have any particular updates on their musical endeavors?

Those two guys seem to have the same ability to do whatever they feel at an extremely high and proficient level. That being the case, both of them are on a hiatus, of sorts, to successfully pursue other interests and opportunities, as well [as] obligations, such as school. Thus, Honor is now painting for a moment... and I mean, flown to painting houses in Europe and the lot. He's sold a few paintings, as well... which is amazing validation to his effort and fearlessness. Sidney has put the mic down, for just a moment, as well, and I've been taking him to a slew up auditions for some pretty cool opportunities that his amazing agency, Zuri, has been presenting us with. We'll see how both ventures go as we get ready for the upcoming school year.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Heavy Metal Kings Emcee ILL BILL Joins Forces with Creepsylvanian Splatterthrashers Ghoul for Split 7-inch (Tankcrimes/Uncle Howie Records)

Tankcrimes is an Oakland, California-based Hardcore/Punk Rock/Heavy Metal label, who, for the past 14 years, has been releasing a constant stream of projects from a bunch of awesomely-named bands, such as: John The Baker & The Malnourished, Instant A$$hole, Population Reduction, Face The Rail, Annihilation Time, F**ktard, Cannabis Corpse, Final Conflict, Victims, and my personal favorite, F**ked Up. Along with Violation Wound & Cliterati's Cliterati / Violation Wound 12-inch split and Brainoil's forthcoming Singularity to Extinction, one of Tankcrimes' latest and most critically-acclaimed releases is ILL BILL / Ghoul's self-titled 7-inch split. Although, it was released this past March/May on 200 Splatter, 250 Half/Half, 550 Blood Red, and 1,000 Silver 45's, only the Silver ILL BILL / Ghoul 7-inches—as well as digital downloads/streams—currently remain available in stock from Tankcrimes and ILL BILL's own Uncle Howie Records. Tankcrimes proclaimed they were "thrilled to announce this split EP from Creepsylvanian mutant Splatterthrashers, GHOUL and Brooklyn MC, ILL BILL (Non Phixion, Heavy Metal Kings) also, featuring Goretex." ILL BILL has been a long-time member of Non Phixion, Secret Society, and of course, Heavy Metal Kings with Jedi Mind Tricks emcee Vinnie Paz. Ghoul, on the other hand, are "supposedly, a group of mutants from Creepsylvania that were tricked into signing a record deal with Razorback Records," according to Discogs. Ghoul are a troupe of masked shredders only known as Cremator, Digestor, Dissector & Fermentor, who have released a number of projects in conjunction with Tankcrimes. Below, I've included Heavy Metal Kings' "Meryful Fate" music video feat. Goretex from their 2017 full-length, BLACK GOD WHITE DEVIL, as well as an excerpt from Carlos Ramirez's March 2018 NO ECHO interview with both Non Phixion's ILL BILL & Goretex.

'"Digestor from Ghoul hit me up and asked if I'd be interested in doing a record with them," says Rap vet ILL BILL. "We started talking and were like, "what if KRS-One had done a split 45 with Sick of It All? What if King Diamond had done a split 7-inch with The Geto Boys?" It all snow-balled from there." The Brooklyn native and Non Phixion co-founder is chatting with me about his new collaboration with Ghoul, the Heavy Metal mutants from Creepsylvania. "Ghoul is one of the few great bands that are next-level enough to have birthed this idea, in the first place. They saw the potential fun in putting out a record like this and then, actually, took it from just another sick idea, to making it a reality. I'd say the mutual admiration and vibes is why the record came about and why this split speaks the same language, even though both genres are very different..."'

- NO ECHO (Hardcore, Metal & Everything In Between)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Scottish Beat-maker 'i's Re-emerges As "Emo Sadboy" Jazz Williams, Amidst a Plethora of Solo & Collaborative Releases (Mugwampers)

As you may well know, by now, Mugwampers are a Scottish Hip-Hop collective consisting of emcee SaIGO and producer/beat-maker 'i's. Mugwampers have been able to construct a very unique blend of Hip-Hop, Metal, Spoken Word, Electronic, Plunderphonics, Abstract/Experimental Hip-Hop, and much, much more into their own unique sub-genre. Since first announcing the sheer existence of Mugwampers earlier this year, the collective has already released a number of genre-eschewing projects including: 'i's' failure​.​to​.​communicate and guest-littered .and then there was flowers EP, SaIGO's 9-minute ANOTHER TIME MAYBE . . fully produced by 'i's, and Mugwampers' 717: Parts I-II EP's. Next to be released will be a collaborative ('i's) x cunabear release called skulptures dropping on Savannah, Georgia-based BearTooth Collective this upcoming Tuesday, September 25th. Chris 'i's McCormick recently told The Witzard there are TWO additional collaborative EP's slated to drop following skulptures; one project that's just Mugwampers & cunabear and another that's just Mugwampers & West Virginia emcee Unsung. Ahead of skulptures, ('i's) & cunabear have let loose a teaser single, "nails hold me down," featuring both SaIGO & Unsung, which you can stream down at the bottom of this very post.

Now, on top of all the aforementioned projects, Mugwampers have announced YET ANOTHER project scheduled to be released to the masses sooner than later: an as-yet-untitled project from 'i's' alter-ego, Jazz Williams. From what I can tell, Jazz Williams (@jazzwilliams_) is a MADVILLAIN/Quasimoto-esque artist alias for 'i's, wherein he "[sings] and [speaks] as this jazzy sadboy." While at my age, I'm a bit disjointed from the outlying sub-genres of Hip-Hop 20-somethings listen to these days, but I would go as far as to liken 'i's' Jazz Williams project as similar to Lil Peep, Yung Lean, and Young Thug or even Kanye's oft-loved/hated 2008 album, 808's & Heartbreak. Jazz Williams sees 'i's doing everything: beat-making, production, assorted instruments, mixing, mastering—not unlike he does with Mugwampers and solo material—as well as 100% of the vocal duties, which are all handled by SaIGO for Mugwampers. Chris 'i's McCormick described Jazz Williams to The Witzard as, "more of a vibe, some sadboy emo sh*t." While a solid release date has yet to be set, you can now view Jazz Williams' "bleeding gums" music video directed by frequent Mugwampers collaborator and director Joe Eaton (@joeeverse.) Jazz Williams' debut project will be dropping sooner than later, along with Mugwampers' 717: Part III EP.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

DC Post-Punk/Pop Band Dot Dash Return with Proto Retro Produced By Motion City Soundtrack Engineer Geoff Sanoff (The Beautiful Music)

Dot Dash are a Washington, DC-based trio, whose music seamlessly blends together Post-Punk, Jangle Pop, Avant Garde, Garage Rock, Power Pop, and standard Rock "N" Roll, amongst other assorted genres. Established around 2010, Dot Dash currently consists of Terry Banks on guitar & vocals, Hunter Bennett on bass, and Danny Ingram behind the drum kit; Dot Dash's members have previously played with the likes of Power-Pop-inclined Indie Rockers Julie Ocean, HarDCore pioneers Youth Brigade and The Untouchables, Indie-Poppers The Saturday People, Tree Fort Angst, Glo-Worm, and St. Christopher, as well as Swervedriver and Strange Boutique. Together, as Dot Dash, Terry, Hunter & Danny have played shows alongside The B-52's, Belle & Sebastian's Stevie Jackson, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Drums, Eternal Summers, Frankie Rose (ex-Dum Dum Girls,) Glen Matlock (ex-Sex Pistols,) Hugh Cornwell (ex-The Stranglers,) Ian Hunter (ex-Mott The Hoople,) Matt Pond PA, The Psychedelic Furs, Richard Lloyd (ex-Television,) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Stiff Little Fingers, Swervedriver's Adam Franklin, Sylvain Sylvain (ex-New York Dolls,) Terry Malts, Urge Overkill, Wax Idols, Hardcore "founders" D.O.A. and oodles more.

Dot Dash have released a whopping 6 albums within just the past 7 years on Ottawa, Canada-based imprint The Beautiful Music; LP No.6, being their latest, Proto Retro, was recently recorded at Inner Ear Studios & The Bastille Recording Studio both located in Arlington, Virginia and was produced by Geoff Sanoff (A Perfect Circle, Fountains of Wayne, Secret Machines.) Dot Dash, themselves, have likened Proto Retro to The Jam, The Soft Boys, The Replacements, and Orange Juice and readily bill it as "taking a Poppier, Janglier direction, but one that retains the Punky, Garagey energy that has marked the band's previous releases." I would, however, personally compare Proto Retro to The Lemonheads' It's a shame about Ray, The Offspring, Franz Ferdinand channeling LCD Soundsystem, and The Witzard mainstays The Speedlights. I have to admit, I was "cold sent" a digital copy of Dot Dash's Proto Retro by guitarist Terry Banks a couple weeks ago and while this is my first exposure to the band's music... I'm thoroughly enjoying it and I hope you do, too! Dot Dash's Proto Retro is currently available to stream or download on their Bandcamp page, while CD Digipaks are available to purchase directly from The Beautiful Music's web-store.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Ice-T & MR.X On "Mashing Electronic Music & O.G. Rap," Ice & Afrika Islam's EBE NATION & THE BRUTAL EP (The Witzard Interview)

"EBE Records was created by DJ/producer Afrika Islam and rapper/actor Ice-T. This creative team came together to combine all their musical tastes into one label, looking to the future by pulling from their past. Ice-T, Zulu Beats, Body Count, Rhyme Syndicate, MR.X, Charlie Funk, Bubbleheads, and Analog Brothers [Ice Oscillator, Keith Korg, Mark Moog, Silver Synth, Rex Roland JX3P & Keith Kurzweil]—to name a few of the musical exploits they have already conquered. Not to mention, TV and film, studio and tour, raves and super-raves, clubs and concerts, radio and documentaries. Afrika Islam & Ice-T bring to the label a different level of musical and visual understanding. The label's collaboration-based music project from act to DJ, from legend to new-comers, Hip-Hop to EDM, from House to Techno, from Dub to Glitch to Funk to Electro-Funk. WE CALL IT "HYBRID MUSIC!'"

- Ice-T & Afrika Islam (EBE NATION)

I. How did Ice-T & Afrika Islam initially meet and what exactly inspired them to start their own EDM/Hip-Hop label, Electronic Beat Empire (EBE NATION) together?

Ice-T: I met Afrika at The Radio Club in LA. This club would bring REAL Hip-Hop artists from NY to perform. I wanted into the game and somehow, Afrika and I just hit it off and became friends... Islam has been spinning EDM in Europe for over 15 years. He wanted to come back to The States and start a label. He helped me start my career, so it was only right to return the favor. Plus, he's the best DJ I've ever seen. He needs to be spinning in The US!

MR.X: Peace. I met Ice-T in Cali, when I was on tour. I think, Ice-T and I first met, either, when I was on tour with The Rock Steady Crew doing pick-up parts for the Flashdance movie or when I was booked as a DJ for The Radio Club, the same club which Ice-T was the MC and host.

EBE/ELECTRONIC BEAT EMPIRE is an Electronic music label. The creation of it was a joint decision. MR.X had been playing Techno/Electro music at all the major events in Europe & Asia for the past 18 years and I told Ice-T, I have learned enough and I'm ready to return back to [The] USA. While in Germany, I tried to open a label after my time with Mr.X & Mr.Y, but Germany has too many business obstacles and didn't have the creative pool of out-of-the-box elements I needed for the EBE NATION concept.

II. Whose idea was it for MR.X to remix "Colors" from the soundtrack to Dennis Hopper's critically-acclaimed 1988 film of the same name? Correct me, if I'm wrong, but it almost sounds like an entirely new version with newly-recorded vocals from Ice-T, rather than your typical remix!

Ice-T: That was Afrika's idea... We made the original together. I re-did the vocals for the EDM version.

MR.X: The idea for remixing "Colors" was both MR.X and Afrika Islam's. Our quest was a real hybrid record mashing Electronic music and O.G. RAP... but it had to be made, written, and produced by masters of both music formats. And yes, it's new vocals and new music.

III. How did working together to create MR.X's The Brutal EP differ from the creative processes behind your past collaborative works? Ice-T served as Executive Producer on this EP, right?

Ice-T: MR.X did all the music in Germany... I just listened and gave my opinion. It's just the first of many projects to come.

MR.X: MR.X's THE BRUTAL was recorded in Berlin, Germany and we shot the videos in NYC and Hamburg, Germany, but every step of the way, Ice-T was involved; from the concept to the finished product. In the past, all our productions were in the same studio at the same time. The production was based on both of us being in the same city.

IV. What were your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while creating your most recent collaborative EP, The Brutal?

Ice-T: I think, MR.X's experience playing live lets him know first-hand what will move the crowd... Just [making] records you wanna play live is the focus.

MR.X: Inspiration: good question! My main inspiration was to make a true new hybrid form of music... My main source of influence in creating THE BRUTAL was my 18 years of hitting the European Underground Techno clubs and major Electronic festivals; both, as headlining DJ and as fan of DJ culture. 18 years of heavy Electronic Dance culture leaves an impression, which became THE BRUTAL Soundtrack/EP. I simply, call this another piece of my "musication" (music education.) One new word... musication. Oh sh*t, call Webster's!

V. What were your typical writing, recording, production, etc. processes like while creating The Brutal EP?

MR.X: SP-1200, MPC60, Abelton, and 10K gigs of samples... a dark underground WWII bunker in Berlin, and a fan going to war every nite, every day, anti-social, anti-commercial.

VI. Now that your imprint has been properly launched, what's next for EBE NATION?

Ice-T: We're just trying to add to the landscape... We come from another place than most EDM DJ's, so it should be interesting.

MR.X: The next MR.X EP is called HIP HOP DJS DONT PLAY TECHNO, followed by IT CAME FROM SPACE EP. A press day, Oct. 15 IN NYC, where we let the world know: we are here, we are ready to hit clubs and festivals. We are looking for booking agents, remixers, and producers... and it's war!

VII. When does the rest of EBE NATION's label roster (Charlie Funk, Wasabi Bytes & MR.X, etc.) plan to let lose their first proper releases for the label?

MR.X: Nov. the MR.X Remix EP will drop. It's called DIRTY ALIEN RICE, which will feature Charlie Funk... and Wasabi Bytes and any other new [collaborators] that EBE has signed.

VIII. What do you, personally, plan to release next, Ice-T & MR.X, either on EBE NATION or in addition to your more EDM-leaning material?

Ice-T: I'm more of the business side of this label, but I'm sure you'll hear my voice, along with others from the Hip-Hop world, on different tracks.

MR.X: Good question... Ice-T and I have talked about it for years; the first record was on [the] TECHNO HOP LABEL. I guess, that's the omen that let us both know we were always ELECTRONIC/HIP-HOP from the start. I'm looking forward to an Ice-T/MR.X/Body Count "There Goes The Neighborhood" Dub/Rock/Hip-Hop/Beat Hybrid Remix. I hope, one day soon... [most] likely, not too public-friendly.

IX. Do EBE NATION/Records Founders Ice-T & Afrika Islam have any immediate plans to collaborate again? To the best of my knowledge, they last worked together on Ice's 1991 album, O.G. Original Gangster...

Ice-T: Absolutely... but it's gotta be dope and different.

MR.X: 1,000% in-the-works already... I heard it already. [It's] some new Black James Bond vs. White Panther take-a-pain-killer-because-of-the-bass-level music sh*t!

X. Who might each of you readily list amongst your "dream" EDM collaborators? How close might any of these collaborations be to actually coming to fruition?

MR.X: Well, to me, "collaboration" only means live on stage. 6 CD players or turntables. I would line up Carl Cox, DJ Rush, Jeff Mills, Bad Boy Bill, Mix Master Mike, DJ QBert, Jazzy Jay, and Egyptian Lover. I prefer true school Techno/Electro DJ's. These are my favs. to play with on 4-6 CD players on stage live... no laptops allowed... that's my idea of a collaboration.

XI. Are there currently any plans to bring MR.X's charismatic live show with "Just FOUR CD players, ONE [mic], and ONE mixer" on the road... particularly, for a proper US Tour?

Ice-T: Yes, that's the plan... We're trying to find the best people to hook up with right now.

MR.X: Right now, yes, we are just looking for the best booking agent that understands what we, at EBE, are doing. MR.X sets are pretty uptempo EDM & Techno, maybe, 40-50 tunes an hour, 4 CD players, no shorts, no gimmicks, no sync buttons. So, all booking agents, HOLLA AT YOUR BOYS, ICE-T & MR.X and "Let's get it popping, Jack!"

XII. From a recent REVOLVER feature: "I think the time has come to reveal where I actually got the guitar lick before the breakdown in "Enter Sandman," Kirk Hammett told Guitar World. "It's from "Magic Man" by Heart, but I didn't get it from Heart's version. I got it from a cut off Ice-T's Power album, where he sampled it. I heard that and thought, "I have to snake this!'" Would you care to comment on the link between Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Power/Heart's "Magic Man?"

MR.X: I will [let] Ice-T answer this one... I'm glad somebody finally said it. PEACE!

Ice-T: I think it's very cool... It just shows that all musicians are influenced by OTHER artists. You may hear some Metallica in our EDM.