In the Court of the Covina King

January 29, 2017

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Back in July I caught up with my friend Jansport J for Wax Poetics at the Delicious Vinyl headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. At the time of the interview ‘Sport was deep in the creative process, the “wilderness” as he coins it, of producing p h a r a o h : his raw, 27-tracks long, NYC-inspired, aural tour de force.

Peep the interview to see ‘Sport talk about his musical journey and influences, working with both major and independent labels and legends such as Snoop Dogg, and the timeless quality of the soul music he samples…

p h a r a o h was released January 27th via blackwhitegoldville music/Fat Beats Distribution.

Find it on iTunes here and Bandcamp/Cassette here

Biggups to Mekael Dawson for filming, the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! This is also the first video edit I’ve done myself .. :)

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Character Sketch : Hotel Grand Amour (This Is It)

January 21, 2017

The people-watching in Paris is on-point. Seeing characters in real life and imagining their stories is one of my favourite things to do. Here is a short piece I wrote about one character who caught my eye at the Hotel Grand Amour one exceptionally chilly evening last week …

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His style reminded me of Camp Lo in the video for “Luchini.” Sitting facing the bar at the Hotel Grand Amour he wore a camel coloured overcoat, matching newsboy hat, pale cream coloured poloneck, a gold hoop earring and assorted thick gold rings. He must have been in his early or mid seventies, with white beard stubble peppering his angular chin. He used an old-fashioned gold magnifying glass to read something, presumably messages or some article, on his iphone, whilst methodically working his way through a bottle of IPA and twelve oysters. He didn’t strike me as Parisian. More an old Harlem soul somehow lost in the 10th arrondissement. I would have loved to have spoken to him and found out his story. But alas, my friend arrived and the important task of dinner and gossip was to commence. Maybe another day, maybe another lifetime …

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Moving to Paris

January 14, 2017

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I’ve long been a bit of a gypsy, and on August 30th, 2016, I followed my little life-long dream of moving to Paris for one year. I’m now four months in and feeling just about settled. After staying in a string of Airbnb spots and sublets, I moved into my own dreamy studio in Montmartre at the start of November.

So far it’s been a lot of fun to explore, discovering dope record spots like Tago Mago (where I was introduced to Silver Apples!!!) and Superfly Records (where I picked up Tropical Gangsters on vinyl for €5!), finding my favourite local bakery Pain Pain (the best almond croissants) and favourite bistro Buvette (the best chocolate mousse), and I’ve hazy happy memories of bars like Le Sans Souci and L’Embuscade (killer cocktails at both).

Moving to a new city has been lonely too at times for sure, but I’m very lucky to have connected with and befriended some very cool souls over here. I’m very excited for this new year and am going to round off this little post on my top feel-good track right now: Prefab Sprout’s “The King of Rock ’N’ Roll’ … Enjoy!

Frybros Photography Autumn 2014

January 7, 2017

I’m such a fan of Matt Fry as both an artist and a person, and feel very lucky to have gotten to know him and his work through working together for Dazed & Confused. If you are not already familiar with Matt’s photography, check it out here : frybros.com.

Whenever I am in Los Angeles, I love the opportunity to shoot with Matt;  real conversation and connection lead the way, and perfectly timed pictures just somehow follow like cygnets paddling behind their momma swan.

It was one afternoon early November in 2014, I was visiting friends and family in California for a few weeks, that I met up with Matt and we headed to the Daimaru Hotel in Little Tokyo. We spent hours talking about all sorts of things (love, music, our lives) and I remember feeling almost euphoric afterwards. Later that evening I went to see Blade Runner for the first time at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, continuing the euphoria!

Here are a couple of photos I found from the shoot; I just love the the way the shadows and light play with one another…

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Sitting in the Park … with Dan the Automator

January 4, 2017

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Back in the summer when I was bopping around California I had the honour of meeting Dan Nakamura, a.k.a. Dan the Automator, in his hometown of San Francisco. Dan is one of those producers who is behind such a varied array of great music, I’ve often felt as though I am constantly discovering that he has played a part in hit records – it was only in conversation with Dan that I learned he produced two albums for Kasabian (dudes from my hometown!).

I interviewed Dan for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park on a beautiful and rather windy day, and chopped it up about the music he loved growing up, the Bay Area scene, working with artists like Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, porno music, and much, much more … Enjoy!

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar and Paul Keller for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for painstakingly editing it to be so fresh and informative! :)

New York 2016

September 4, 2016

Back in June I was lucky enough to spend a week exploring and hustling in New York. I stayed with my wonderful friend Heather in her beautiful apartment in the West Village and had a rather magical time. How can you not fall in love with NYC?

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I flew to New York from Los Angeles with a connection at Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina. It’s funny to think of all the places we go through but never really go to. It makes me think of those times in life, periods of transition where the focus is on the future rather than the present. Just passing through.

That said, I do love killing time in airports. It’s like a carte blanche to pause, reflect and window-gaze. Plus I’ve made some of my best friends through chance airport encounters (Lauren and Jesse I’m looking at you ;) ).

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 ~Runway reverie~

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~Red Eye View~

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~Greeted on arrival with champagne and a long-overdue catch-up~

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~The street I stayed on, the prettiest part of town~

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~West Village Selfies~

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~The Highline~

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An absolute highlight of my trip was getting to chill with Prince Paul and chop it up for Wax Poetics! We filmed a little interview on somebody’s stoop in Greenwich Village, and in keeping with tradition grabbed pizza afterwards on Bleecker Street :)

~Outtakes~

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 ~Wax Po Interview~

~Cymande playing Summer Stage in Central Park!~

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~I’ll never forget hearing “Willy’s Headache” live <3~

~Washington Square Park~

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One day I made it out to Brooklyn to visit the homie Andre Torres at the Genius HQ in Gowanus, and while over in BK hit up The Wythe Hotel to enjoy that famous view across to Manhattan…

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~No-no-no-Notorious!~

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~First time at The Lincoln Center seeing Swan Lake~

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~Soaking up some sun by the SoHo House pool on my last day~

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~Flying JFK 2 LAX a la Gang Starr~

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Talk Stoop with Prince Paul

July 30, 2016

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Last month I got to catch up with my favourite hip-hop producer, the one and only Prince Paul in Manhattan’s West Village. If you had told seventeen-year-old me this, I probably would have died.

There’s a certain risk that comes with meeting one’s heroes, we’re all just human after all, but Paul is one of those dudes who’s even cooler than you imagine. Super hilarious (that’s hardly a surprise) and super modest, despite having produced some of the greatest hip-hop joints there are.

We chatted about his upcoming projects – new groups Brookzill! and SuperBlack, as well as a new solo album – recording with De La and Gravediggaz back in the day, exchanging snail mail with Daddy-O, making movies, and life lessons learned along the way …

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for editing it to look so fresh! :)

De La Soul Stakes Is High 20th Anniversary Mixtape

July 15, 2016

Earlier this month, De La Soul’s fourth studio album Stakes Is High celebrated it’s twentieth birthday. To mark the occasion – you guessed it – my buddy Chris Read pulled together a sweet mixtape of original sample material, remixes, and album tracks. This one took me on a real trip down memory lane! Read my write up and peep the mix below …

Originally posted on Wax Poetics here.

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When I first heard Stakes Is High, I was in…Brighton, on the U.K.’s South Coast. My father lived there at the time, and as a teenager building up her record collection, I would make the most out of my trips to visit him by also visiting the city’s various record spots such as The Wax Factor and Rarekind. It was at Resident Records in the North Laines that I picked up De La Soul’s Stakes Is High and upon my first listen, before I scoured the liner notes, I knew that something was different.

Where were the playful skits? Where were the endless gags? I found myself staring out the window feeling pensive rather than chuckling and dancing around my room.

And as it turned out, the record, released July 2, 1996, marked a pivotal moment for the Long Island trio. Parting ways with their long-time collaborator Prince Paul, the genius behind 3 Feet High & Rising’s seminal use of sampling, the album was the first to be produced mostly by the group themselves and has a rather more mature feel. Trugoy recently described the experience of producing the record themselves as an “empowering […] learning process,” as previously they had relied upon the guidance of external producers. One notable exception to this is of course the Jay Dee produced title track “Stakes Is High,” but for Maseo, Posdnuos, and Trugoy to take greater control and reflect the mood-shift of a rap group three albums deep was the perfect move after 1993’s Buhloone Mindstate.

De La Soul had spoken out before about social issues (“Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa”) and the state of rap music (“Who Do U Worship”), but this time they were shouting about it with, as the title suggests, a more serious tone and higher sense of urgency, which can be heard on tracks like “The Bizzness.” Despite having less commercial success at the time, the powerful, jazz-fuelled album was met with positive reviews and is now regarded as a classic of it’s era.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Stakes Is High, our friend Chris Read has crafted a mixtape of album tracks, remixes, and original sample material.

Listen up and enjoy!

Artwork by Leon Nockolds

Track list:

1. De La Soul – ‘Intro’
2. Milt Jackson & The Ray Brown Big Band – ‘Enchanted Lady’ (sampled in ‘Dinninit’)
3. De La Soul – ‘Dinninit’
4. Jan Hammer Group – ‘Peaceful Sundown’ (sampled in ‘Dog Eat Dog’)
5. De La Soul – ‘Dog Eat Dog’
6. Aretha Franklin – It Only Happens (When I Look At You) (sampled in ‘Long Island Degrees’)
7. De La Soul – ‘Long Island Degrees’
8. Craig Mack – ‘Get Down’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘The Bizness’)
9. De La Soul feat Common – ‘The Bizness’
10. Commodores – ‘High on Sunshine’ (sampled in ‘Sunshine’)
11. De La Soul – ‘Sunshine’
12. Bayete – ‘Free Angela’ (sampled in ‘Sunshine’)
13. Ahmad Jamal – ‘Swahililand’ (sampled in ‘Stakes is High’)
14. De La Soul – ‘Stakes is High’ 
15. De La Soul – ‘Stakes Is High (Jay Dee Remix)’
16. James Brown – ‘Mind Power’ (sampled in ‘Stakes is High’)
17. De La Soul feat Mos Def & Truth Enola – ‘Stakes is High (Remix)’
18. Walter Wanderley – ‘Summer Samba’ (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
19. Jimmy Spicer – ‘Adventures of Super Rhyme’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
20. Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick – La Di Da Di [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
21. De La Soul – ‘Supa Emcees’
22. Wilson Pickett – Get Me Back On Time, Engine #9 [Extract] (sampled in ‘Supa Emcees’)
23. De La Soul feat Mos Def – ‘Big Brother Beat’
24. Kurtis Blow – ‘These Are the Breaks’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘The Brakes’)
25. De La Soul – ‘The Brakes’
26. James Brown – Funky Drummer [Loop] (sampled in ‘Betta Listen’)27. De La Soul – ‘Betta Listen’
28. Jeff Beck – ‘Come Dancing’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Down Syndrome’)
29. James Brown – ‘Talkin Loud & Sayin Nothing’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Down Syndrome’)
30. De La Soul – ‘Down Syndrome’
31. De La Soul feat Truth Enola – ‘Pony Ride’
32. Lou Donaldson – ‘Who’s Making Love’ (sampled in ‘Wonce Again Long Island’)
33. De La Soul – ‘Wonce Again Long Island’
34. Malcolm McLaren – ‘Hobo Scratch’ (sampled in ‘Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby’)
35. De La Soul feat Jazzyfatnastees – ‘Baby Baby Baby Baby Ooh Baby’
36. Chico Hamilton – ‘A Rose for Booker’ (sampled in ‘4 More’)
37. Jungle Brothers – ‘Jimmy Bonus Beat’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘4 More’)
38. De La Soul feat Zhane – ‘4 More’

Pete Rock & CL Smooth All Souled Out 25th Anniversary Mixtape

July 2, 2016

The homie Chris Read has crafted yet another super dope mixtape, this time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s debut EP All Souled Out.

Originally posted on Wax Poetics here.

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To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s now classic debut All Souled Out, released June 25th, 1991, our buddy Chris Read has crafted yet another stellar mix for Wax Poetics and WhoSampled. Featuring tracks from the EP, alternate versions, interview snippets, and original sample material from the likes of Eddie Kendricks and Eddie Bo, the mix pays true homage to the record that introduced the hip-hop duo and set the stage for later seminal LPs Mecca and the Soul Brother and The Main Ingredient.

Take a listen and enjoy!

Artwork by Leon Nockolds

Track list:

1. O’Donel Levy – ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
2. Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
3. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’
4. Heavy D & The Boyz – ‘Gyrlz, They Love Me’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
5. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
6. ESG – ‘UFO’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
7. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)
8. Eddie Kendricks – ‘Girl You Need a Change of Mind’ (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
9. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
10. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Good Life’
11. O’Donel Levy – ‘I Wanna Be Where You Are’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Good Life’)
12. James Brown – ‘Funky Drummer’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
13. Fred Wesley and the J.B’s – ‘You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight (7″ Version) [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
14. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Go With The Flow’
15. S.O.U.L – ‘Burning Spear’ (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
16. Beside – ‘Change The Beat (Female Version)’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Go With The Flow’)
17. Eddie Bo – ‘From This Day On’ (Sampled in ‘The Creator’)
18. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator’
19. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Slide to the Side Mix)
20. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Surfboard Mix)’
21. Lou Donaldson – ‘Turtle Walk’ (Sampled in ‘All Souled Out’)
22. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘All Souled Out’

Time Waits For No One

July 2, 2016

‘Time waits for no one’ sang the Rolling Stones. And it won’t wait for me.

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Time often passes by much more quickly than one would like it to, especially during those times when we would like it to stretch out and last forever like the long summer holidays you have as a kid. My recent weeks in Los Angeles have somewhat flown by, though, there is plenty to reflect on and be grateful for. Here are just a selection of photos and memories …

~Taking classes at Studio 4~

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~For memorial day I headed out to Malibu with my friends Denisse, Nanna, and Rick, which was all giggles and hot tubs, long drives and pier lights at night. I just love being by the ocean and driving through the stunning Santa Monica mountains; it is so exceptionally beautiful out there.~

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~Santa Monica Pier~

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~Palm trees in Franklin Village~

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~Poolside in Hollywood~

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~Me on the Mama Shelter rooftop, photographed by the homie Mekael Dawson~

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Anyhow, I’m working on trying to enjoy my time and worry less about the speed at which it passes …

 

 

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