Ever wonder why our records sound good? It’s because of a guy called Shawn Hatfield out in the Bay Area.  I first met Shawn years ago on the internet when I used to hang out on IRC in a chatroom with a bunch of other producers called #// (slash slash). He used to teach me crazy music science in MAX/MSP over a chat window just because he was a nice guy.  We kept in touch and when he opened his mastering business we started working together. He’s mastered my albums Flowers and Solar Life Raft as well as most Dutty Artz stuff in the past few years. He does a great job and is just a generally cool guy.  Recently he sent me an email with a link to an online fundraiser he is doing to help his father Jay Hatfield who is battling cancer.  If you are like me and most of the people I know and don’t have a square nine to five or work for the government you know how fucked up the health care system in this country is and how expensive it can be.  It’s not fair that someone should have to go through an incredibly draining battle fighting a disease and then have to go bankrupt afterwards to pay for their treatment.

Shawn has set up an online fundraising page to raise funds for his father’s treatment here.  He’s also a badass mastering engineer who you can hire to make your music sound awesome here.  In choosing to be musicians and work in this business we give up a lot of the stability and safety that people take for granted in normal life, things like health insurance. If you can relate maybe chip in a few bucks or hire Shawn to master some of your music.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGm9o37BNjM[/youtube]

Right now a lot of people are throwing the word ‘trap’ around to describe the hiphop coming out of Atlanta and the south. The dark bass heavy music pioneered by producers like Lex Luger, Southside and Sunny Digital has been dominant in the hiphop world for a while but has been catching on among the people who are fleeing Dubstep’s sinking ship of un-coolness. In the midst of this it’s worth thinking about where the term came from: drug dealing. I just watched “Snow On The Bluff” last night on Netflix streaming and it does for drug dealing and robbing dealers what Blair Witch did for hunting for witches in the woods. Gritty, low fi handheld camera work follows around anti-hero Curtis Snow as he robs dealers, goes in and out of jail and tries to take care of his toddler son. It’s a crazy look at daily life in the streets of Atlanta and at times is really hard to watch. There are a lot of moments where you are left thinking that what you are watching is real or thinly veiled reality. These people are not actors and the star is a self proclaimed stick up kid and drug dealer. That’s his real son in the movie.  Unlike some of these gangster movies where they spend 80 minutes glamorizing that life and then 10 minutes moralizing at the end when the hero gets killed this is pretty much raw from start to finish.  There’s not a lot of happy shit in this movie and for that it seems like a more realistic portrayal of this life than we usually see.  If you’re interested in a look at the dark side of the trap mythology that everyone is selling you should check this out.

snow on the bluff poster

[youtube width=”640″ height=”360″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eclyw_D154I[/youtube]

On a recent Brooklyn bound A-train ride, Geko and I were feverishly brainstorming places to host a New York performance for Titica, once we found out she wouldn’t be able to stay in town for Que Bajo next Thursday. Feeling like now is a crucial time for LGBTQ issues in Africa, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for Titica to gain some visibility outside of her home context, and help open up the dialogue in regards to what is permissible in the realm of “African values.” While that will perhaps be a longer fight, the “Space” problem was quickly resolved when our traveling companion Thanu Yakupitiyage offered her iBomba party at Bembe on Monday night. Thanu’s work and focus made for quite the serendipitous pairing, perfect to host Titica in NY, thus initiating a kind of an informal inaugural collaboration between Thanu and Dutty Artz, the collective of cultural agitators with its spiritual heart in the county of Kings, New York.

On the eve of that event, it is my pleasure to introduce Thanu as the collective’s newest official member (something we’ve been planning before that fateful train ride)! While we’ve been bringing you blog posts, music, parties and merchandise of various sorts for a few years now, Dutty Artz has been steadily heading in a direction in which we’re trying to find ways to expand beyond music and the limitations of the Internet. It has always been our desire to facilitate ways to nurture a creative community across social and cultural borders. Adding Thanu to the lineup is a key part of us manifesting that intention in the real world!

Thanu traverses the lines between immigrant rights activist, media  producer, researcher, and political/cultural organizer. Reppin’ Sri Lanka via Thailand and Massachusetts she’s now based in Brooklyn, and has been in New York since 2007 where she has worked for organizations highlighting youth media, racial justice, and immigrant rights. When Occupy Wall Street kicked into gear in the Fall of 2011, Thanu was part of a crew of organizers of color who started the People of Color Caucus in order to highlight and organize around issues faced by communities of color that were being ignored by the larger OWS movement. She also helped lead the Immigrant Worker Justice working group in the Fall, and put together the December 18th International Migrants’ Day march. She is on the editorial team and blogs for, In Front and Center: Critical Voices in the 99%, and is one of the new culture editors for Organizing Upgrade, which is re-launching this month.

While those experiences will definitely add a new dimension to the aims of Dutty Artz, it is her interests and passions in the role of global music and dance in the creation of transformative political and cultural spaces that dovetail nicely with the work we’ve already been doing. For her, politics, music, and dance are intricately linked. She is an aspiring DJ and late last year, joined forces with DJs Beto and Mios Dio to organize and bring new acts and guest DJs to iBomba. We think that Thanu is a perfect fit and welcome addition to the family.

Check out a sample of her bad gyal writing on politics and pop culture here:

M.I.A and the Real Bad Girls, Hyphen Magazine

Dispatches from Indigenous Peoples Day, In Front and Center

OWS and Immigration, In Front and Center

Drop the I-Word feature: “I am home both here and there”, Colorlines

A Conscious Travel Guide to Sri Lanka, Global Post

And check her out this Monday as she hosts iBomba alongside DJ Beto and Mios Dio, with guests DJ Ripley and Angolan Kuduro star Titica! Look out for more from Thanu soon!

Originally posted at Mudd Up!

[photo by Alex Walsh for The Fader]

If I start writing (again) about my time in Jamaica it could take up the better part of this morning. So let’s keep it simple: in late December I journeyed to Jamaica to report on the collaboration between iconic roots reggae group The Congos, and L.A.experimentalists Sun Araw and M Geddes Gengras for The Fader. It was an intense time down there in the lion’s den, adjusting my internal clock from NYC-breathless to Rasta time-management systems, entirely immersed in perhaps the strongest musical culture I’ve ever experienced, plus Ashanti Roy’s crazed grandchildren as sunrise alarm clocks, fish tea, George Michael with lasers, a minor yet disturbing horse-trampling, lots of Symbolic Murals, the melodious span and flexibility of patois, and so much more.

[photo by Alex Walsh for The Fader]

The article is now online, accompanied by several photos from Alex Walsh. Writing for The Fader spoils you — it makes me want to travel everywhere with top-notch photographers ready to dig deep and go after the spirit of the thing.

[photo by Alex Walsh for The Fader]

PopGun Presents…

Sat, February 11th @ The Glasslands Gallery

$7 ADV, $7 DOS
TICKETS AT: http://ticketf.ly/xSnTkw

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CLICKS & WHISTLES
http://soundcloud.com/clicksandwhistles

Rx
http://www.rxbass.com/

LAMIN FOFANA
http://soundcloud.com/laminfofana

__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/__/

21+, Doors at 11:30pm

$7 ADV, $7 DOS
TICKETS AT: http://ticketf.ly/xSnTkw

Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/events/152928728154430/

It’s been over a year since Jeremy Harding called the one they call Di Genius to set up an interview for me. Stephen McGregor is, of course, the son of famed artiste Freddy McGregor, but he built his own lane producing some of the most innovative dancehall of this millennium, taking over his fathers Big Ship studio and turning it into a hit factory. His style melded perfectly with upandcomer Mavado – whose “Weh Dem A Do“- made me start checking compulsively for Stephen’s productions around 05/06. I have great video of him and his crew going off to unreleased Shadetek riddims and talking about why he keeps an open bible on his mixing desk- but until I get around to editing that shit- enjoy the interview tracked out by question below and stay locked for interviews with Ward21, Natalie Storm + more.

When your working on new projects – do you distinguish between what will be big in the Jamaican market vs the foreign market?

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Wa Dem A Do- which is the first riddim you built that I heard in NY- has this crazy cinematic density- but since then it seems like you have been hitting on all bases- why move away from the sound you built?

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Who are contemporary producers that you look up to? I hear neptunes and early timbaland, but who else are you checking for?

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Are there young producers or other producers that you work with, or is it just vocalists that you keep in your camp?

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Whats the deal with the Island Pop sound that is dominating the radio right now in JA?

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What do you think about the fact that anyone with a computer can download a cracked copy of Fruity Loops and start building riddims ?

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How much do you think radio payolla affects what tunes get big or make it onto rotation?

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You’ve pretty consistently had your riddims on the charts for the last couple years- how many riddims are you building a week, and how many of those ever get voiced?

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Can you describe the process from building a riddim to finishing a riddim pack goes?

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Is there anything outside of hip-hop and dancehall that you check for? Are you listening to trance and house directly or just hearing their influence through rap?

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Do you think your work ethic seperates you from other producers, or young musicians?

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Some artists claim not to listen to the radio or other media- but you say you like to keep up with whatevers new?

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What’s your process when you start to build a new riddim?

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Besides Jeremy (who manages Stephen)- whose the team at bigship and Di Genuis recordings?

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Given your success as a producer- why push to voice more of your own riddims?

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I can listen to this BACK2BACK2BACK2BACK

But besides what’s keeping me all polyriddimic on the escalator out into time square every day- there has been some heavy drops in the last couple weeks of dope new free music. I’ve been trying to figure out for a long time just how free music works on the internet. Call yourself a net label and you risk failing b4 you even start. Give away free mp3s of pay to own releases that almost no one buys and suddenly you are a legit record label. Along with his dope fake NY-Times review Tracky Birthday also released a manifesto of sorts about net labels and free music… choice quote “Net Labels are Like Hookers, Only Cheaper.”

Body High just dropped a killer set of free edits which u should grab ASAP I screwed down the Game Over edit at Sweatlodge and it was NEXT.

The other freelease that I’m feeling comes from Austin (h/t to Wayne for the headsup) LOTIC MURDERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS listen 4 urself

 

Wizraeli, a blogger from Generation Bass sent me the link to Balkan Beat Box’s new video, Political Fuck, and after watching it I had to post it. As a long time fan of Balkan Beat Box, I am always impressed with their fresh productions and political voice.  I will never forget the first time I saw them at Central Park with Antibalas-Afrobeat about 5 years ago. They absolutely killed it.  Considering all the world wide noise thats going on today, this song is a strong representation of the global movement that needs to occur- putting the power back into the peoples hands.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYvg8RetDeg&feature=autoplay&list=ULmaXXhLmbc74&lf=mfu_in_order&playnext=4[/youtube]

 

Since you all loved up that last footwork / juke post I made I figured I’d share a video piece that Wills Glasspiegel who did the audio I posted did, I assume on the same trip to Chicago.  Some of the material is the same but since it’s about dancing the visual is pretty key: watch those feet work!

Also Wills was nice enough to make the audio in the original post (below) downloadable for those of you who requested it for your filez.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqGSxAh8cJM[/youtube]

Also Traxman who’s in the piece will be playing in NYC this Friday at an underground party at an undisclosed location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Also Total Freedom from LA!  Looks like there will be some footwork dancers there too.  Shout to Azizaman for putting it together, looks dope.  FB event here w/ info.

I am not involved with this but am showing it a bit of promo love because I remember what it was like trying to bring Grime artists to NYC when no one knew what it was but I just loved this new crazy music and wanted to share.  It ain’t easy! If you like this kind of stuff vote with your dancing feet.

 

drake smoking in front of planes, looking sad


 Marvin’s Room (Shlohmo’s thru tha floor remix) – Drake by shlohmoA question I hear frequently asked about Toronto based Hiphop/RnB rapper/singer/child actor Drake in the press is why his new music is so depressing sounding and what does he have to be unhappy about? He’s young, rich and famous! He’s got a seemingly endless supply of adoring fans, pretty women, drugs, alcohol, money and a venue for his artistic expression to talk about his feelings. Hot97 is his psychotherapy couch.

When he sings:
‘Cups of the XO
Bitches in my old phone
I should call one and go home
I’ve been in this club too long
The woman that I would try
Is happy with a good guy

But I’ve been drinking so much
That I’ma call her anyway and say
“F-ck that nigga that you love so bad
I know you still think about the times we had”
I say “f-ck that nigga that you think you found
And since you picked up I know he’s not around”

(Are you drunk right now?)

I’m just sayin’, you could do better
Tell me have you heard that lately?
I’m just sayin’ you could do better
And I’ll start hatin’, only if you make me’

Drake strikes me as being honest here. Even though he has all of the above material and ego-enhancing things that many of us want, he is still not happy.  When artists are honest and speak about what’s really happening with them instead of repeating tropes that seem like the ‘industry standard’ (I’m balling! I’m awesome! I’m getting money!) it adds a richness of meaning, the texture of personal reality.  The current vogue for sipping XO (aka sizzurp, purple drank, or cough syrup made with promethazine and codeine) popularized by many rap/rnb artists including recently Drake and The Weeknd seems to support this pretty well. Codeine is an opiate, the same active ingredient found in heroin. It’s a central nervous system depressant that makes you sleepy and dulls pain when used when you’re sick. If consumed when you’re healthy it pushes pleasure buttons in your brain and feels great.   Taking codeine also kills you.  If you slow your central nervous system down enough you’ll just stop breathing. RIP DJ Screw and Pimp C. My question is: how much must you be suffering to make this glamourous lifestyle choice? Scientific research has pointed to links between the way we experience physical and psychic pain, like the pain of depression, including the fact that depression sufferers seem to have more acute physical pain.  As far as I can tell people who are happy and fulfilled don’t need to constantly take large amounts of central nervous system depressants like codeine and alcohol.

(more…)

Commandeering the kitchen at Subsuelo/Gnawledge HQ in LA (thanks G-Notes!) ( foto x Farah Sosa)

8 tomatoes

1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper

1 Roasted Green Bell Pepper

15 Kalamato Olives

1 Tsp Italian Herb Tomato Paste

3-4 Sprigs Thyme

3 Garlic Cloves

2 Olive Oil Drizzles

6 Tilapia

Cilantro

Lime

I invited some friends to eat in exchange for a bread-breaking data swap. I’m definitely not on a culinary level with my dude DJ Rajah over at SoulCocina but this is really what meetings should be like. Exchanging in currencies that don’t depend as directly on the dollar really has an intrinsic value in making people connect. It leads to better less guarded conversation and reminds us that if we work together, there’s always more to eat on the table. Here’s my TOP 5  Things I won in the West Coast Data Swap

First up, G-Notes, the guitarist and beatsmith behind the hybrid flamenco act Granada Doaba and all around Gnawledge famalam hit me with a few remixes and edits

a sick Mex with Guns – Dame lo [Gnotes Rmx]  hyper dembow bizness

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and this touch up of Gotye’s anti-love jam caught me off guard…

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Now my homie, Santero in the Bay Area has been holding me down for a few years now. I was happy to crash at his this time around and spend some time getting to know what he’s been up to.  I learned he has been working with our homie Boogat up in Montreal.. Notice how the cover art is Boogat with the fam all around at a BBQ or somn… home cooking how we do !

(Incidentally, since that convo I’ve been rocking Dos Cervesas (prod by Poirier) off the PURA VIDA EP like its my job)

Santero also just put out a brand new mixtape a couple days ago for Los Rakas’ homegirl FAVI called Flor de Azahar (orange blossom – really the best smelling flower in the world for my money)

FLOR DE AZAHAR (#ORANGEBLOSSOM MIXTAPE x DJ SANTERO VOL 1) by FaviSF

Santero also put me on to this Goapelle/Los Rakas Remix I had admittedly been sleeping on. It was featured on Fader and Rcrd Lbl months ago. Be sure to check them out on November 19th with me and Dre Skull at SOBs

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