Last week we invited Eothen Alapatt aka Egon from Stones Throw Records to come up and speak to the students at the school about funk and its importance to the birth and solidification of the foundations of the hip hop movement which is far bigger than anyone in the boroughs of New York City could ever have imagined in the days when Grandmasters DST, Theodore, Flash and Kool Herc were defining the blueprint. Back in the day it was all about buying two copies of a record and looking for those all important breaks and extending them by switching between the two on a pair of tables - 'proper DJing' as I have been told on numerous occasions by, well, older DJs. To illustrate the point check this video with Kool Herc and check the old fella's moves.
Now as Eothen so eloquently put it, hip hop and funk for that matter would be nothing without the sadly missed James Brown who was all about getting people up and on their feet hollering and dancing and between his drummers Jabo Starks and Clyde Stubblefield they must easily be the most sampled musicians of all time but seeing as James had sole-ownership of his music these iconic sticksmen didn't see a dime for all their hard work. This next clip is the awesome Good Foot and I've been toying with doing something with the break for a while now but seeing as I don't want to get sued I might as well just stick to playing the record.
Eothen is one of those collectors that doesn't limit his quest for the breaks to one country but rather he seeks records the world over and during his talk he played records from Turkey and India and professed his love for music from Korea, which is his new vice and trust me when he told me how much some of the records go for it is a vice and then some. My wife told me in no uncertain terms that I was not allowed to even remotely get into Korean funk and I wouldn't even know where to start looking in all truth. Eothen's talk opened a few of the students eyes to the unlimited possibilities of sampling as he played original cut followed by the new tracks off his label created with the samples but he did also warn them about the pitfalls of sampling whereby if you get caught you'll end up paying a large percentage of your royalties back to the original artist something which elicited a fair amount of discourse amongst the students in the days that followed. Eothen also very kindly greased my palms with the new Guilty Simpson album that drops at the end of the month and it is damn good, trust me. I was also given a sampler from his label Now-Again that was mixed by Oh No and there are loads of cuts there that hopefully will be winging their way to my collection in the weeks and months ahead. Massive respect to Eothen to coming up and serving a huge helping of truth.
Now seeing as we're talking about hip hop to a certain degree I thought I'd share this video with you and it features one of my favourite artists Ohmega Watts talking about the art of digging and what he has to say is fairly poignant. Milton Campbell aka Ohmega Watts is one of those guys that merges hip hop, funk and soul perfectly as illustrated on his must have records such as The Find. Seek him out if you haven't already.
Oh yeah and here is a superb instrumental from our man called The Platypus Strut and for all fans of afrobeat this is absolutely essential. Another one of my little hidden treasures that may have passed some of you by. This is the shit.
Ohmega Watts - The Platypus Strut
Now segueing smoothly onto my ultimate love Afrobeat I thought I'd highlight one of the more recent purveyors of the sound, The Daktaris who are a Brooklyn-based band of mostly white guys who have taken it upon themselves to have Nigerian aliases such as the highly inventive Femi 'Dokita' Doolittle and Alaji Milificent Agbede whose real names are probably Tim and Webster for all we know. This track called Musicawa Split is off their 1998 album Soul Explosion and is a great entry point to their music.
To end off this frankly random post I thought I'd share with you this video that I found from one of the many tributes to the incredible and sadly departed James Yancey aka Jay Dee aka J Dilla featuring some Detroit's finest, Ayro, John Arnold and Slum Village performing records like BBE (Big Booty Express), who Matt Edwards of Quiet Village, Radioslave and Rekid infamy admitted set him on course to record the superb Made in Menorca album a few years back, as well as the Billy Paul sampling Dollar and the frankly awesome Look of Love, it may seem a bit trite but Dilla definitely changed my life and it doesn't matter if I'm digging for house, funk, soul, Brasilian or hip hop records there is always a Dilla record to guide me. Much respect to the great man and RIP. I'm busy working on a post about him that is taking a while as I don't think that writing something on him in my usual stream of consciousness style is tribute enough to the impact that he has had on my life.
Oh, and if you would like me to link to your website/blog/whatever then please get in touch.