Thursday, April 29, 2010

While We're Thumbing Through the Pages

Julian Priester takes a long breath in the "Wandering Spirit Song." Bennie Maupin follows. All in all, it's a soulful exercise.

What We're Hearing

The bass clarinet groove that begins @ the 3 minute mark in "Bitches Brew" is funk we believe in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What We're Hearing

So start w/ "Disillusion Blues" or "Welcome to New York." The mix of soul and the middle class intelligence is something you'll be making sense of for months. On the road to "The Dark Tree," for sure.

Where's the biography of Oliver Nelson, anyway?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What We Mean When We Say...

... the tradition. Nate Chinen, a role model, puts it flat on the table, "If that was indeed the case, it’s not hard to understand why. Mr. Ellis holds a vaunted place in the history of funk, chiefly as bandleader-arranger of the James Brown Revue during the late 1960s, the stretch that yielded 'Cold Sweat,' 'Licking Stick-Licking Stick' and 'Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.' He had a hand in writing those songs, among others, and they remain his signature contribution, even though he has done much else since, including consequential work with Van Morrison and a handful of the brighter stars of West African music. His main outlet these days is Still Black Still Proud, a touring James Brown tribute with an African slant, featuring guests like the Malian guitarist-singer Vieux Farka Touré." Go here for the whole story and to find our from where we stole the pitcher. Before you leave, remind yourself that this is the way of being we think on.

:: p o u r s a l i t t l e l i q u o r o n t h e g r o u n d ::

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What We're Hearing

I watch my back like I'm locked down, hardcore
Hittin sound, watch me act bugged, and tear it down
A literate type asshole, songs goin gold, no doubt
and you watch a corny nigga fold
Yeah, they fake and all that
Carryin gats but yo, my Clan
Rollin like forty Macs
Now ya act convinced, I guess it makes sense
Wu-Tang, yo sewwwwwwwww, represent
I wait for one to act up
Now I got him backed up
Gun to his neck now, react what?
And that's one in the chamber
Wu-Tang banger, 36 styles of danger

What We're Hearing

The way I make the crowd go wild, sit back relax won't smile
Rae got it goin on pal, call me the rap assassinator
Rhymes rugged and built like Schwarzenegger
And I'ma get mad deep like a threat, blow up your project
Then take all your assets
Cause I came to shake the frame in half
With the thoughts that bomb, shit like math!
So if ya wanna try to flip go flip on the next man
Cause I grab the clip and
Hit ya with sixteen shots and more I got
Goin to war with the meltin pot hot

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Found Object

Make more of the scene here.
  • Mask of Portuguese Overseer, 1938.

While We're On The Subject...

...of sources:

For those of you who want to leaf through the pages of The Killer while you're thinking through OB4CL, or any other relevant reason, you want to visit this section of the archive.

Sources: The Lineage of Riddims

As we already noted, Criminal Minded was on the tables w/ our coffee. We found ourselves caught up in a giant syncretic tangle in the fabric.

It goes w/out saying that the rekkid makes its mark in part by slanging a dancehall vibe loosely around the room. All good. All good.

But we got "Remix for P is Free," and we were reminded of brilliant work by Wayne over @ Wayne and Wax, one of our role models. He pulled the Madmad/Alton Ellis/Zunguzung/Yellowman thread out of the tune and used it as a way to chase the local references all over the hiphop/dancehall house. From our perspective, Wayne's work grants the material with the seriousness it deserves: it is a way of being in the world, and, as such, deserves the kind of 'spect we give breathing, painting, eating, givingthankstotheloas, etc. It is how we make our place in the world. It is the creolization of other peoples' musics into something else and something at the same time rooted in its similarities. and And while it is by no means exclusive to the tradition the AEC calls "great black music, ancient to future," this kind of syncretism, this kind of signifying, is something that makes that tradition into a tradition.


As we dug the crates, we found some interesting sources of the same kind of energy:
  • Riddim Guide. There're some people out there who got the time to roll up stats like this on the Mad Mad riddim. We are compelled to 'spect the pages of connections that remind us just how high and low is so high you can't get over it, so low you can't get over it.
  • Jamaican Riddimdirectory. A bit more one person's work (we think),and a bit harder to work around, it still is another important reminder of how much is in the locker.
This is relevant to the pile of stones that we are building in 'spect for OB4CL. Most important, that rekkid is a much much brilliant example of the same kind of syncretism that Wayne/Riddim Guide/Riddimdirectory all document. The challenge w/ OB4CL, though, is that it has spread its being over so much more territory. For us, the primary pleasure of OB4CL is the mapping of that territory.

What We're Hearing

Walking down this road as we look for the roots of OB4CL. More as we go along.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Found Object

  • Unknown British Manufacturer, Pitcher, ca. 1820.

Crossroads: Music and Painting

We find ourselves coming back to Sam Gilliam, without know to which of the loa we should make an offering to give him strength. Nevertheless, we kind quotes like this intriguing:

Yeah, but playing music in a certain sense that - we used to talk about Coltrane - that Coltrane worked at the whole sheet, he didn't bother to stop at bars and notes and clefs and various things, he just played the whole sheet at once. I think that's very important, because the spatial and the total attitude of the picture depends upon at least the feeling of planarity that is determined at least by the edge as a whole. Therefore, in a painter such as Gottlieb, the sense of the sheet of color operating with the canvas as the panel plane, and then the kind of markings or the addition of other sorts of color information opened up that plane, so there's a kind of instantaneous action of many factors acting as a whole but they were all very, very simply defined. One of the things that really was important with acrylics is that this sense of the control at the level of the whole stretched canvas was very difficult the more you had in a sense had to manipulate the brush, draw in extra things to make it work. It seemed that as a function it worked much better when in a very mass way things came together. Remember that many of the Abstract Expressionists experimented with big brushes, big brooms, mops. I've even heard of someone trying to paint in New York with a buffing machine. (both laugh heartily) If you heard this, you understood it. Literally I think that one of the things I first started to do was beginning to fold rice paper and open it up and letting the sort of striations and the folds actually develop and radiate and give the focus of the painting. And very interesting is that the crumpling turned color over, putting some color on top and there was color on the bottom, just like a sediment formed on top and that you could go through it and it was just like all at once; and then suddenly the desire was to try this with canvas, using roller tubes, and pouring paint out and rolling it together, and pressing it, and then unfolding it in a sense, you have all at once the myriad experiences of several surfaces coming, being focused in thin layers behind at least the white of the canvas, just waiting to be revealed by the light of the gallery. Even more fantastic is one of the things I heard a young man say, "I started to paint when I learned to kill my hands."

What We're Hearing

Directed here by Ego Trip's 1987 Rap singles. Devilin' tunes, y'all.

Must admit fondness for the strangely jazz/bluesy story rap "Poor Georgie."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LA Times Finally Jerks Its Fresh

This, of course, is not news, but the paper treats it like a fashion feature, so they should be somewhat forgiven for being behind the times. In the mean time, worth showing up so go:

And before you go all Michael Moore over the kids, remind yourself that bebop was a fashion trend. It's just slang rap democracy, you see.

Go on. And on. And on and on.

To the breakadawn.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Current Leavings

We are presently making our way through Terry Teachout's brilliant Pops. Although we reamain convinced that there is a loud call for the 2 or 3 volume life and times biography, we think Teachout has finally begun to get the whole thing -- Armstrong the street urchin, Armstrong the band member, Armstrong the standalone soloist, Armstrong the bandleader, Armstrong the writer, Armstrong the film star, Armstrong, who was part of musical reviews, Armstrong the performer, Armstrong the composer, Armstrong the medicine man, Armstrong the first King of Pop, Armstrong the first King of the Blues, Armstrong the king of the Zulus.

When he was there near the start ('cause there were always, as you would expect, precursors), it was all of these threads he pulled together into the fabric.

Dig this Big Crux

We started where we recently stopped, thinking about William H. Johnson, and wondered if it was right to tag him w/ the word blue. We went in two directions.

The first is toward Johnson's name double, Lonnie, who offers, we think, some of the same historiographical problem. When we put on his sweetvoice renditions of sadsongs, and lissened to him philosophize 'bout bedbugs, we could not help but touch the same tender contradictions we were thinking on as we looked at Brovah Willam's pictures of Norway, which he painted up just before getting locked up in the 'nsane 'ssylum w/ his own version of the bug.

From the privileged gaze of hindsight, both appear as independent operators who took on something of the primitive as part of their hustle; not primitives who scrabbled along. It was their burnt cork. And both got these sad stories attached to them that are sadder because they are true, and not made up to enhance their primitive brand.

The second is toward a Snoop Dogg post we did when we couldn't figga out how to get the Blue Light started. We invite you back to the beginning, if only because in its lack of a conclusion it's a good place to start.

We're not drawing conclusions today. It would, as the saying goes, leave us painted in a corner. We're living with the contradictions, instead.

Represent, represent y'all.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Found Object

  • William H. Johnson, Lame Man, (1939-1940). Brilliant work by a brilliant thinker. Apologies for the low fidelity reproduction.

Found Object

  • Sam Gilliam, "Medley" (1966).

Sources: Working the Jamaican Papers

The Observer has more story than the whiggish Gleaner. Both though, are worth picking over.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"My Daddy's Name Was James... I was the blood of James. James Blood."

While we were lissening, we did some look up. We were impressed that when he was speaking, James Blood Ulmer was so careful and brilliant at the same time. Most people have to say so much more to get something interesting out. Examples:

"Most music in America has been watered down, but with harmolodics, they don't know what it is, so they can't ruin it. As soon as they figure out what it is, here comes the water."

"Oh man, I'd tell him that the music and the instrument are not the same thing. They've got to put the music in the instrument. The instrument might be wiser than the player, you know."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What We're Hearing

Yo crushed grills, dollar bills, swiss suit on
Screw on drysell nigga with his loot on
Watch this, gun glock less, fiends scopin out my rock shit
Diamond on some H&R Block shit
Hear me, gets Larry and his sneakers are shot
Word to me Dunn, the uniform do mean a lot
I approach lit up cousin sit up matter of fact get up
What fuss on the bottom face slit up
Yeah where you from I'm from here
You know Brina and Javier, and Little Life doin thirty years
Analyzin this wise guy a look alike first prize guy
Lit up the thai said riiiight!
Emotionally playin him close like I'm suppossed to be
Somethin spoke to me, it was this little nigga pokin me
I heard sirens now turn around about to hit em
Son was pro nine with the emblem
Grabbed my goose down the walkie-talkie
Foul I'm loose now shot went off knocked the juice down
It ricocheted and hit a GS now here comes EMS, Dunn was leanin near a ZX
Next time shit's parental, God slap fire out yer mental
Jet in a boat with rims to mental

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Key Phrases: Knuckleheadz 4

And yo, mail a guy about a hundred pictures.
Word to momma. This rap wonderama team got drama,
comma, plus smoke realize marijuana.
Chef may resign to boat across the Farasana
Immaculate, plus all my guns so accurate.
They get CREAM and the cuisine in Queens
I told you, money stated with the night beams and two rings

Key Phrases: Knuckleheadz 3

And yo, whattup. Pop pop. The suitcase high.
And we can talk, you can walk out the f*ckin building
And get caught, save the inflatable,
rap relatable, drug relatable
n*ggaz here to play with you.

When You're In Liverpool

Always good to see someone else on the same thread. Stop by the site. Pick up some fine found objects.

Key Phrases: Knuckleheadz 2

So stroll marvelous, soul controller
of the whole globe. God Damn, I got it sewn.

Key Phrases: Knuckleheadz 1

So let's do this the f*ck up, roll up like tropical, lid.
Don't play me like I got a flowerpot head, kid.

Keeping up w/ it?

Big tension in the entertainment sections of the island sunday papers:

Keeping up w/ it?

I see alot of haters/they musta sipped the haterade.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Key Phrases: Striving for Perfection 4

I'm the eyes that's in back of you, kid.

Key Phrases: Striving for Perfection 3

I got shot at, man. My moms windows for shot the fuck up, man.

Yo, God, my baby's in here, God. Se I gotta take time, man,
and raise my family, man.
YouknwhatI'msayin? Sit around, man. My grandkids, man.

But, yo, son, it's like this. man.
We all livin,' man. We here now, man.

Let's not thing like we gonna be stagnating, man.
Let's keep moving ahead, man. Keep our head up, man.
Take care of our families, man.

Key Phrases: Striving for Perfection 2

It's the pot of gold right here, man. This is it. Man, this is glory.

So, yo, the first thing we gotta do, man,
Is just know what we gonna do with this cream when we get it man.
Cause I'm not trying to just be sitting on motherfucking two hundred thou
and acting like I'ma just be a
drug dealer all my life.

Son, I got bigger and better plans, son.

We gonna grow God
We gonna grow like a plant, son.

Yo, you coming at me like that son?

Key Phrases: Striving for Perfection 1

I'm tired of doing this shit.

Check the fly shit, son.

I got a new connect son, for real man.
Fuck all this twenty four brick shit, man.


Politickin to death

We gotta move, god. We gotta move, god. We gotta migrate.
Get the fur. Get the fuck outta New York, youknowhatI'msayin?
Bounce man, start with fuckin' bigger and better shit.

And Again

:: remains speechless ::


:: speechless among scattered herbs ::

We Saw One of the Gods Walking the Earth

:: speechless -- scatters bayleaves and pepperflakes in a circle ::

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blues Album, ca. 2007

We are presently overwhelmed by the cut "The World Is (Below the Heavens), and will commend it to you over @ the bluelight later this weekend.

So much things to do. So much.


In 1956, Pres played out some live tape at a Diamond City jazz club. It's no secret. It's been kicking around for 30 years now and its more than 1/2 century old. So what we do when we hear it is reconnize the oldness and the return of something good that's worth holding on to.

His biography -- pure crossroads blues -- is what it is. His less deepthinking biographers make too much use of the words gentle, laconic and sad, for sure. Somehow, the whataboutit that doesn't come through in most tellings is the hard work, the intellectual effort, which is the cathedral Lester made in the middle of wide and stormy sea of his life.

We'll leave it at that.

For now.

Proper Respect

We urge you to introduce yourself to one of the students that Reverend Satchelmouth deserves. There is some real work being done over here. Ups to the scholar willing to find the devils and angels in the details.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Counter Passage

We were reading Phillis Wheatley again, and found her writing about the sea again. One time for your mind, one time:

I sing not now of gree embow'ring woods
I sing not now the daughters of the floods,
I sing not of the storms o'er the oceans driv'n
and how they howl'd along the wastes of heav'n,
But I to R--- would paint the British shore,
And vast Atlantic, not untry'd before:
Thy life impair'd commands the to arise,
Leave these bleak regions and inclement skies,
Where chilling winds return the winter past,
And nature shudders at the furious blast.

O thou stupendous, earth-enclosing main
Exert thy wonders to the world again!
If ere they pow'r prolong's the fleeting breath,
Turn's back the shafts, and mock'd the gates of death,
If ere thine air dispense'd an healing pow'r,
Or snatch'd the victim from the fatal hour,
This equal case demands thine equal care,
And equal wonders may this patient shine.
But unavailing, frantic is this dream
to hope thine aid without the aid of him
Who gave thee birth, and taught thee where to flow,
And in thy waves his various blessings flow.

1.) Prayer -- appeal to higher power -- is one of her dominant forms. We need to recall that a prayer is a conjuring, an effort to bring power present to alter the future.
2.) This prayer is to the one god, but through one of the many gods, the ancient and "earth enclosing main." She asks the throughway's benevolence through a familiar ("not untry'd before" -- we need to hold that phrase of always alreadiness in our hands like a smooth stone, to steady "frantic dreams" that recall our own terrible passages) passage that cannot be made "without the aid of him."
3.) The sea, a master trope in her vocab, has the power to be benevolent or cruel, and to protect or harm when mortals make their passage.

Every time we read Phillis Wheatley, we are reminded of her brilliant syncretism, and how useless it is to make hate the narrative force in the tradition that makes less of her work. We should begin reading her powerful prayers for safe passage to the east, and make that a figure in out thinking, too. She's the creole who, like the London calypsonians of the 40s and 50s, was strong enough to become native again elsewhere.

:: pours a little liquor on the ground ::

This is the ancient manifested hip hop, straight off the block.

Represent, y'all.

To the beat y'all.