Iswaski is heeerrrreee.
Iswaski is heeerrrreee.
photograph by John Carluccio
I was quiet for most of 2011 when it comes to releasing original music. To be honest, I was a bit hard on myself. I’m finally getting out of that muck, and feeling ready now. I’m planning to put out several releases this year, on Dutty Artz as well as branching out to other labels.
Please find details for my first release of 2012 below. Titled Dubious Prey, it comes out on limited vinyl January 30th, then a digital release with additional remixes shortly follows. London label Sticks N Stones is releasing it… SNS a small new label owned and operated by my friend Aramac, and distributed by ST Holdings. Artwork, tracklisting, YouTube and SoundCloud previews – all below.
artist: Lamin Fofana
title: Dubious Prey
label: Sticks N Stones Recordings (Distributed by S.T. Holdings, UK)
date: 30th January for vinyl / 27th February for digital
A – Brokedown City
A2 – Dubious Prey
B – Brokedown City (Aramac Remix)
1. Dubious Prey
2. Brokedown City
3. Brokedown City (Aramac Remix)
4. Brokedown City (Svpreme Fiend Mix)
5. Brokedown City (Mayster & Contakt Rebuild)
6. Brokedown City (La Ola Criminal Remix)
Yesterday, XLR8R premiered the first cut from Dubious Prey, “Brokedown City”
NYC-via-Sierra Leone DJ/producer and Dutty Artz affiliate Lamin Fofana is set to release a new EP, Dubious Prey, the follow-up to his 2010 debut EP, What Elijah Said. The new EP features two originals, including this one, “Brokedown City,” a dark but still active piece of techno with a steady four-on-the-floor. The song’s notably tropical percussion is buffeted by potent synth lines, which bleed in and out of the song, and a barely audible vocal sample that occasionally slips into the mix…
Head over there for the DOWNLOAD.
Dre Skull is label boss, ill producer,and dope DJ. His Club Infinity Parties with Kingdom are legendary. His label Mixpak has been dropping pure fire since jump. On a lot of levels he’s pushing a similar sound to what we rate at DA- but he’s also been doing some leftfied releases putting his stamp on Japanese punk, Sissy Bounce and some of contemporary dance halls most distinctive voices. I linked with him in early March on his last visit to Kingston to finish sessions with Vybz Kartel on their collabo full length. The trip started slow for Dre. Apparently even if Kartel says your his favorite producer, he doesn’t always pick up the phone or keep meetings. After last minute Caribbean flights for engineers and Dre lengthening his stay- everything got wrapped. Between sessions with Tifa and waiting on Kartel, Dre previewed the album for me- mostly unmixed, with a couple of tracks needing some revamping- IT SOUNDED FIRE. West Coast G-Funk Dancehall like “My Crew” are going to BURN radio, club and freeway play- but Dre and Kartel also finished minor-chord livity anthems like “Ghetto Youth”, “Real Bad Gyal” an ode to women to run dem own tings, and gyalist anthems for days like the infectious “Half On A Baby.” Looking at sales of dancehall full-lengths, it’s hard to known, from a financial standpoint, why Dre’s putting his time and cash behind the project. But if music is actually about content, then I truly hope this one pays off. I hit him with some questions about how he sets his things, and what we have to expect from him and Mixpak in the future.
Youtubery= I asked him to pull a couple older K/Cartel tracks for us since everyone said Dre has him sounding hungry like when he first came out.
T: What/how has the logistical process been working with Jamaican artists?
D: The process has varied from project to project. The first few projects were all done over the internet, starting when I reached out to work with Sizzla and then Vybz Kartel. Once Kartel’s ‘Yuh Love’ hit, I started getting Jamaican artists reaching out to work with me. That’s how the Ms. Thing and Psycho Tanbad track came about, her manager hit me up and requested the riddim and then they went ahead and shot the video on their own. More recently, I’ve been going to Kingston to work with artists directly, so everything on this upcoming Vybz Kartel album has been recorded with Kartel and I in the studio together. Logistically, I always bring the riddims pretty well built (with chorus melodies and fully structured arrangements) and then I take the vocals back to Brooklyn and rework the riddim around the vocal as needed.
T: What can you tell me about releasing Hard Nips- a japanese all girl punk outfit in Bk- up until that release the Mixpak sound seemed to be all about international forward thinking bass music- how do they fit in with the vision you have for Mixpak?
D: To me Mixpak is much broader than any one type of music, though I realize that being a relatively young label certain appearances can take shape, but I hope that over time a broader picture emerges. I’d like to grow Mixpak to be an XL sort of label focusing on full lengths and I’m choosing that as a reference, not because I’m overly familiar with what they’re putting out, but because my brand impression is that, as a label, they just want to put out the “best” of new music (as opposed to many labels that aspire to release the “best” of a certain genre or sub-genre). That idea of “best of new music” is what I picture for Mixpak, though as a producer I have my own areas of interest and that will probably always shape the label’s output.
T: Besides yourself, who does the Mixpak team consist of?
D: For day to day label operations, Mixpak has mostly been my project. For better or worse, I code the website, make the phone calls, handle merchandise, deal with distributors, etc. For the Mixpak blog, I’ve had a great team of writers and contributors from around the world, we’ve got people from the US, Canada, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and then there’s a Japanese team who translates every blog post and interview into Japanese. I’ve recently brought onboard a London-based woman, Susannah, who functions as the editor of the blog and I’ve been working to get her more directly involved with running some other aspects of the label. I’ve reached the point where I’m definitely a bottleneck and that can hold up getting projects done on time, so I’ve been working to build a system that won’t need my involvement quite so much. I’m hoping that will free me up to work on more of my own projects and will help the label continue to grow.
T: Beyond the full length with Addi, what else are y’all going to bring out into the world this year?
D: We have a whole lot of stuff in the pipeline. We have an all analogue EP from Parisian synth wizard Koyote, a debut EP a ridiculously prolific teen computer music prodigy Andy Petr, a Lil Scrappy remix EP with Dam-Funk and Justin Martin remixes, a Dre Skull & Oliver Twizt single, a Schlachthofbronx soca EP, a single from Stamma Ramma, a follow up Melé EP and more. I’m also getting other voicings in Kingston and beyond, so I’m expecting some more Dre Skull projects at some point this year.
T: Do you feel like the controversy over Kartel’s bleaching should have any bearing on his musical output or career?
D: I don’t feel like I’m the most qualified to speak to that, but I’ll just say that being in Kingston for the last week it seems like the two most prevalent views among people are either that “he’s denigrating his heritage” aka he’s reacting to shame about the color of his skin in a shameful way or that “he’s a man exercising his right to self express through body modification” aka he doesn’t give a damn about anyone else’s social norms. People who hold the first view are definitely concerned, but people seeing this from the second perspective see him as something like a rebel and they respect it from that angle. I suppose whether this should or will have any bearing on his musical output or career will be up to the fans, but from the looks of things in Kingston, he doesn’t appear to be having any trouble. As far I can tell, he seems to be more popular than ever.
T: Can you tell me a bit about your life as a producer- I first heard the Juiceboxxx projects that you did a long while ago and kind of locked you into that vibe- but the last few years its become obvious that your comfortable moving between genres…. how do you see your own production work in relation to UK developments in bass music vs American strains of powerfully local music genres – which youve dipped into with Lil Scarppy, and Sissy Nobby. What are your dream projects/collabos?
D: The biggest piece about my life as a producer I could share is that the vast majority of music I have produced has never been released. I probably have over a thousand unreleased tracks at different stages of completion and that music spans a very wide range of sounds and genres. For a long time, I’ve considered a lot of my time in the studio as an exploration and I say that, mostly, because I didn’t even really conceive of releasing it for a long time. Currently, I’m in a different phase in my life as a producer, so I do think about releasing tracks these days, but retrospectively I see all that production work over the years as having been a process of building a palette that I can now reach for on any given day in the studio. I still have the project files associated with all those tracks, so I can pull a melody or a drum pattern or anything from any old track. On the Kartel album for example, the song that is likely to be the first single consists of a bassline and melody that were written on a laptop in the back of the band Lightning Bolt’s van in 2002 or 2003 during a 45 day cross-country tour. So in making the track for Kartel, I pulled up those components from all those years ago and built a new track with new drums and sounds, but it’s musically the same chords and notes. There’s another track on the album that I produced in 2005 which was always a dancehall riddim and I just brought the track to Kartel as I first wrote it. Back then, I really didn’t know how to get a track to someone like Kartel, so I made the track as an exercise, but I always liked it, so I held it waiting for a day when maybe I would be in a position to use it. So in a lot of ways my life as a producer is only starting to publicly take shape, but I’ve been a studio head for years.
Jumping back to Juiceboxxx, our project was a very intentional exploration of a certain set of influences that we shared, starting with hip house, so we approached it from a pretty conceptual place. It’s cool, we’ve both come a ways since then in terms of our careers – he recently toured opening for Public Enemy and I’ve been working with Kartel, Lil Scrappy and a number of other people – but the truth is, I don’t think either of us has changed it up too much, it’s just a question of things taking there due time to unfold.
In terms of dream projects and collaborations, this Kartel project feels like I’m living the dream and like the culmination of a lot of what I’ve been working towards. Another thing I’d like to do is produce a rap album with me doing the full production on the album and really trying to shape something from start to finish. I don’t have a particular rapper in mind, but I’d love to play a small part in bringing single producer rap albums back.
“My girl yuh no… boring / gwan wine bend over touch your toe ring” – Busy Signal
File this one under things that make me happy. Busy Signal is in top form and Washroom deliver a gorgeous reggae flavored dancehall riddim entitled Bad Suh. I’ve been starting my sets with this one recently and also playing a few other cuts on the riddim including the Tifa and Voicemail. People in my Prospect Heights neighborhood may have been confused to see a tall red bearded man gesticulating and shuffling his way through the black grimy snow on his way to the subway to the sound of hot dancehall in his headphones. Anti-winter music.
Matt Shadetek returns to “minimalist grime principles” this week with the killer Dutty House EP! Check out the addictive “Wonton Garden” riddim (which refused to die and here in its official/proper release) + the recent refix of Blak Ryno’s “Nuh Tek Talk” on Eddie Stats’ essential weekly roundup of heaters Ghetto Palms.
“iHop” excels as a futuristic dubstep number with its focus on strong shuffling rhythms, thick bass melodies, and soulful, pitch-shifted vocal sampling on par with UK funky’s finest” – Patric Fallon, XLR8R
“excellent throughout… It’s always possible that he just went so deep into Detroit that he arrived in Africa by mistake.” – Eddie Stats, The Fader
Matt Shadetek – iHop
Earlier this afternoon, the good folks over at XLR8R liberated a track “iHop” from Flowers, Matt Shadetek’s first solo instrumental album which drops June 8th – just a couple of weeks from now. This will be the first time we announce the album on this blog! We’re all excited about Flowers, which is Matt’s most beautiful and light-hearted work to date. Read Patric Fallon’s review and download the tune at XLR8R.
I haven’t heard that many tracks from Aidonia; he’s one of those mid to late ’00s dancehall artists you hear about all the time, see his name on countless mixtapes, and probably already heard a bunch of his tunes at parties, but you never actually went out of your way and check for his tunes. That’s until I heard the title cut from Stephen “Di Genius” Mcgregor’s incredible Bad People riddim which completely shifted my view on a couple of vocalists — but more on that shortly. “Heart Is Hers” features Aisha Davis and is produced by Equiknoxx producer/artist collective (who are also responsible producing another impressive Aidonia track titled “Negative.”) This is what dancehall sounds like in post-808s & Heartbreak/weird-emotional-electro-pop-hop era? Dancehall is going in so many different, exciting directions at the moment, and as for this particular type of sound which has been bubbling for the last few years I think it’s safe to point to T-Wayne & Yeezy as references. As Aidonia sings – “Song is too dead/it needs more life – Needs a faster melody/more melody/groove your body…”
“Amazing reggae flavored harmonies & hotness to warm up the radio & airwaves”
Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor produced the riddim for “With You” — can someone please identify that riddim? Empress I-Klass is a Boston based singer – born of Antiguan heritage. She has been around since the late 1980s performing and singing lead and background vocals in various bands here in the States and in the Caribbean Islands. She opened for Freddy McGregor in Boston in June 2006.
Next Tuesday, April 27 Dutty Artz will release Techno Rumba, official debut EP from producer/DJ-extraordinaire Chief Boima. Techno Rumba is Boima’s elegant and fresh take on Afrobeat and contemporary African dance music. Head over to XLR8R now for an exclusive stream/preview of the entire EP – which features two original tracks from Chief Boima and a pair of remixes from Dutty Artz own DJ /rupture & Matt Shadetek and Uproot Andy.
You can download DJ /rupture & Matt Shadetek additional refix with original vocal contribution from performance artist Kalup Linzey. Also downloadable is the free remix EP African By The Bay – to hold you over until Tuesday when Techno Rumba drops in digital shops.
Sticky‘s “Jumeirah Riddim” has been out for some time. It is a massive tune that has appeared on several dope funky mixes. This Natalie Storm version titled “Look Pon Me” is simply undeniable – sweet, catchy bashment/funky monster. & don’t sleep, look for the 12″ out on Mixpak – it boasts a Dexplicit remix, guaranteed heat!
Janka Nabay is a countryman of mine (which means he is from Sierra Leone, West Africa) with a very interesting backstory you can read on his MySpace. I’m not fluent in Temni, but I understand what Janka is singing about in “Eh Congo.” I spoke to him last year to confirm my interpretation and draw some connections, because the lyrics to this song sounded like a free association exercise (that’s what happens when you leave your home country and get lost/immerse in foreign culture –language, communication changes/words are forgotten.) I could write about the song’s lyrics, but I won’t –that will spoil the mystery, or just diminish the song’s already understated mystique. After all, this is music/rhythms used to soundtrack rituals involving secret societies, coronations, burials of village chiefs and prominent society members. But I must say, that has nothing to do with the lyrics here, which makes it even more intriguing. Anyway, Ahmed Janka Nabay Bubu King is coming out soon True Panther. You can pre-order a 12″ EP here.
Belgium producer Paul Alt reheats a 77Klash riddim voiced by Jah Mason. I think it’s safe to say that riddims associated with 77Klash are immune to dying. Klash City Records released The Swarm Riddim over two years ago, and refixes are still surfacing. Paul Alt whips up a sweet and heavy dance beat guaranteed to scorch dance floors, or just turn your holiday party a bit more nasty. That artwork is very appropriate for the song’s lyrics. A man expresses an excessive desire for and to a girl he has been watching admiringly for a long time – Girlfriend, I told you, you’re gonna be fine. Just give me your love & I’ll give you mine… After a few seconds, he tells her to keep it confidential.