Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Nujabes - Metaphorical Music

Nujabes
"Blessing It (Remix) feat. Substantial and Pase Rock" from Metaphorical Music (2003, Hyde Out Productions)

"Horn in the Middle" from Metaphorical Music (2003, Hyde Out Productions)

Metaphorical Music: the melodic full length debut of Japanese born Hip Hop producer Nujabes. The soulful, rhythmic, often jazz-based style exerted through Nujabes' music has made this album a Diggin’ favorite since its release in 2003.

The moment I popped in this gem I was sold. The first track, "Blessing It (Remix)", is a reflection of Hip Hop’s true spirit from self-proclaimed "Hip Hop apostles" Substantial (QN5 Extended F@mm member) and Pase Rock (of Five Deez fame). As a pair, Substantial and Pase Rock lead you on a trek through their thoughts on Hip Hop culture and their promise to stay “on point like the pens we right with” through conscious, thought provoking lyricism. Nujabes "stays blessin’ it" himself via a soothing, saxaphone laced instrumental masterpiece.

Next on deck is a jazzy, electronic fused instrumental entitled "Horn in the Middle". Man am I a sucker for brasswind, this track reminds me why. Nujabes brings the heat with an addictive horn loop you won’t soon forget. The track is broken up with somewhat unintelligible speaking and electronica inspired breakdowns, then wraps up with a solid drum solo. Aspiring Fruity Loops producers, take notes. I know you’re out there.

The album continues on as a relaxing, part instrumental, part lyrical affair. Guest spots include Cise Star from CYNE, Uyama Hiroto, Shing02 and the whole Five Deez crew. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, I promise you won’t regret it. You’ll most likely have to import it (yeah, more imports!). An easy place to do so would be HMV Japan.

From his beginnings as the label head of the highly lauded Japanese Hip Hop imprint, Hyde Out Productions, to his current success as co-creator of the soundtrack to Japan’s animated television series "Samurai Champloo", Nujabes is an amazing producer that demands your listening attention. Until next time, keep diggin' ya'll.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Dereliks - A Turn on the Wheel Is Worth More Than a Record Deal

The Dereliks
"I Am a Record" from A Turn on the Wheel Is Worth More Than a Record Deal (1995, Low Self Discipline)
"The Phrase That Pays" from A Turn on the Wheel Is Worth More Than a Record Deal (1995, Low Self Discipline)

The Dereliks, comprised of MC Iz and DJ/producer Hen Boogie, hit the scene back in 1994 touring and releasing compilation singles for Bomb Hip-Hop. Hailing from San Jose, California, the duo released this EP a decade ago on New York record label Low Self Discipline. It has truly stood the test of time and is now a highly apprized record, even attaining bids of over $100 on internet auctions. This is all accordingly deserved. After Boogie captures the listener with a jazzy intro-lude on "I Am a Record", Iz expresses an ingenious personification of a piece of wax (À la Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R." or Nas' "I Gave You Power"). Another stand-out pick is "The Phrase That Pays", a fresh, somewhat melancholic outlook on the fraudulent nature of the music industry. The EP has a true old school feel to it, which arguably holds comparative to the classic sounds of The Pharcyde in their prime.

The Dereliks have recorded demos spanning as early as 1992 and collectively recorded around 40 tracks. In 2003, they released the first part of their chronicles on Sublevel Epidemic entitled "Change for the Bus Ride Home". It is an album full of unreleased material which also includes an '89 revised mix of "The Mate That Fate Created" and a re-mastered version of "Iz on Some Other...". You can purchase it from Sandbox Automatic.

If you're wondering what Iz and Boogie are up to these days, Iz is now known as Peral and is part of the group Tha High with fellow members J-Smit and Trax A Million. They released and album in 2004 entitled "Crowd Control". I feel obligated to mention, it is ironic that his name is a spin on the word peril, just listen to the tracks on the website. A true travesty indeed. Another dope artist flushed down the jiggy shitter. On the other hand, Hen Boogie hooked up with Female Fun Music/Domination Recordings and released "Nobody Beats the Boog" which is a collection of rare and classic breaks. He's also done a 7" with Kegs One on Sublevel Epidemic. You can check out Hen Boogie's website at DJHenBoogie.com.

"A Turn on the Wheel..." is a true representation of how such genuine musical taste can become corrupted towards lucrative, lustful matters. It is even further exemplified by Iz AKA Peral's determination to get people bouncing while sippin' on Cristal. Don't let that mislead you though, as this record's a true gem. Mark this as another addition to the wish list. Keep diggin'.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dave Dub: On to the West

Dave Dub (photo by Marco Romano)
Peanut Butter Wolf - "Necromancin' feat. Dave Dub" from My Vinyl Weighs a Ton (1999, Stones Throw Records)
Dave Dub - "On to the West" from Programmed D (2005, Grand Good)

The man known for killing the lovers and destroying the idols, lounging with the executives of California’s Bay Area, and jotting down notes from the cliff is set to discharge havoc on the masses with his “Programmed D” scheduled for release September 06, 2005. The Baron, Dave Dub, is a controversial figure in the world of Hip Hop and rightfully so. We were forewarned about his feelings of interviews and what types of questions to ask. So, we gave thought to our questions before we spoke.


Diggin’ Music: Just to get the record straight…some say that Dave is still located in the Bay, some say he is getting jiggy in Florida, and others say that he is throwing house parties for Castro in Havana; where on the atlas is Dave Dub operating from today?

Dave Dub: Currently, I'm operating out of San Jose California. The Ze', San Hopeless or whatever one chooses to call the turf of sharks that seek prey on dry land. Fidel is anxious to get me back out to Cuba though. We had a ball when I was out there last...and Florida, well let's just say that I came across some incriminating photos of Jed Bush when I was out there, they caught wind so I had to raise up.

DM: OK Dave, how do you find “interviews” and, in general, journalism in Hip Hop today? Has your opinion changed from your past beliefs or been influenced in any way recently?

DD: Well, I remember the first issue of The Source when it originally dropped. I've seen the importance of Hip Hop journalism transition from being really informative to lackluster attempts to promote wack acts. The only vicious journalism nowadays worth tuning into is usually online. That's what's beautiful about the whole journalistic realm. The alternatives. There's still a couple mags that I pick up on occasion. Fuck 'em all though, cuz none of those mags ever cover me or the fools I'm affiliated with. We're too out there I hope.

DM: Do you feel like music could exist without the politics of the business?

DD: Why would it want to? The corruption, dishonesty, disloyalty, death, disease, payola, bitches, snakes, con men, hustlers and such. It's great. It's a microcosm of America in its purest form. I love it. And it exists on both, the indy and corporate level of the game. I hope it never changes. I love the current state of the culture. The music by itself would level shit down to strictly talent and artistry. Who the fuck would want that?

DM: You have been a noticeable force of Bay Area rap for well over 10 years now, and that’s longer than some rappers’ career, have you achieved everything you wanted to do with your music or are there elements that you have yet to implement in your sound?

DD: When I first started rhyming in '88, my goal was to hear my voice on a 12'' record. That's it. I did that. Everything else was just for kicks. I take my craft very seriously, but unfortunately, I was never into selling myself. My career has probably suffered as a result. I do what I do cuz I have to. Sometimes I wish I could quit but I can't. It's like, my life is an immune system and Hip Hop is full blown AIDS. It's unrelenting, and it has taken my life. I guess that's why I'm so sick. There's still hella shit I'm interested in exploring style wise and sound wise, but I don't know what yet. Actually, I know exactly what I'm on the verge of doing...stay tuned.

DM: What was your first song and what did it speak about?

DD: "I Go For Mine". It was a battle rap I recorded through some headphones into a tape deck. It was one of those contraptions with the turntable attached to the tape deck. This was in 1989. Me, my cousin Mike and the homie Keno had a group called Big Mac Productions, and they kicked me out or some shit, so I dissed those fools. I rhymed over an instrumental for Shaft. It was strictly fun shit. I came for those fools though...

DM: Would you ever do an R&B song? Something a la Murder Inc.? It’s murdaaah!

DD: Man, I've got a whole pop album I'm sitting on. It's gonna be a sonic mind fuck. It's gonna be like Johnny "Guitar" Watson meets Michael Jackson when "Thriller" was manhandling the charts.

DM: But, seriously though, your music is raw! It’s a sound that, shall we say, is exclusive to that San Jose area. How did your style form and what influences did you draw from prior to doing your first song?

DD: When I was a kid, I was influenced by all types of shit. Musically, soul and Hip Hop. As I got older my tastes became a hybrid of soul, punk, funk, jazz and reggae. Basically, weird, unorthodox, unrecognizable shit. Especially since Hip Hop embodies everything.

DM: It’s almost impossible to listen to Dave Dub and not ask how Uncle Sam helped shape your savagery blunted raps? (Respect to Mr. Aeks)

DD: Well it's very simple. I'm a fuckin' commie parading as a capitalist! Nah, seriously I love this country. I just hate most of the lames in it and the lames that make up the governing body.

DM: Those of our readers checking out this interview right now are most likely already aware of the things you’ve put out in the past; from those early EIM days and Underbomber Clique, to the more recent SubContents material. Those that don’t know you, fuck ‘em! What projects are you working on today and what are we to expect in the near future?

DD: Man, I was never a part of none of that shit. I'm a big fan of all those groups mentioned though. As far as now, there's hella projects cooking. The "Stalin and Lenin" album with me and Jihad from Third Sight. The "Fucking Mutants" album with me and Megabusive. The Dub Brothers album "Bad Luck and Bad Bitches", a collaboration between me and Young Joseph aka Joe Dub. The Epidemic album with comrades Grunge Toefu and Kaoe Device. Those are just a few projects, not to mention the "Ligaments For Amputees" twelve inch. That's me and my folks Ro pushing boundries. Release dates? Who knows...

DM: Since early 2004 there was buzz about the album entitled “That, Which Don’t Bleed”. It was extremely anticipated by your fans. How did “Programmed D”, out of left field, come about before this? Are any of songs recorded for “That, Which Don’t Bleed” on “Programmed D”.

DD: Yeah, "Programmed D" is actually "That, Which Don't Bleed". But that was initially the first concept. I dropped a 12" called "Upgraded Text", with my folks the Architect some time back. And that was technically the single for "Programmed D". " The album is produced by Tapemastah Steph, Ro, Clishe' and Megabusive. It's a compilement of a bunch of nutty shit I've been reconfiguring on and off for the last couple of years.

DM: This album is strictly indie, will you ever do a major label release after the demise of 75ark? How did SubContents end up with 3 different versions of the album “Notes From the Cliff”? Please, explain.

DD: The whole 75 Ark thing was fucked. "Notes From the Cliff" was a classic album. When the label folded, the album kinda sat in limbo and a couple of different people tried to put it out. Hence, the different covers and rearranged tracklistings. Nowadays I'm really deadset on getting my label, Isolated Wax, back on its feet. Especially since with this indie, underground shit, fools call you to tell you lies and the business side is crooked. No different than corporate shit really...

DM: You’ve worked with a sleuth of legendary beatcrafters in the past, including Peanut Butter Wolf, The Architect, Fanatik and Tapemastah Steph. With such a vast spectrum of production each of them brought a unique sound to your music and it’s possible that if somebody liked tracks you did with one producer they may not be feeling tracks you did with another. This is true for any artist-fan relationship. How do you feel about this?

DD: I feel like each producer a rhymer builds with, will pull out different styles and subjects from him or her. I spit usually according to what the beat says to me. So I feel like fans are definitely gonna get a vast array of songs from any artist that works with hella producers. Some of it fans might dig, other shit they'll wish never existed; including the artist.

DM: Any valuable advice you might have collected over the years for aspiring MC's out there?

DD: Stay away from fake, 6 faced people, style the way you want to, don't do hard drugs and get all the pussy, money and spirituality that you can...

DM: Dave, you’re a busy man and your time’s highly appreciated. Please forgive the long-winded questions and thanks again. Do you have any last words, shouts, or F.U.’s?

DD: Yeah, fuck all you faggots that front. Dave Dub and the Sutter Cain Gang don't even exist.


Dave Dub’s “Programmed D” hits stores September 06, 2005 and you can pick up your copy at Access Hip Hop.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Headnodic Beats

Headnodic (photo by Scott Anderson)
Mission: - "BS II MF (Puba Remix)" from Mission:One (Japan Version) (2002, Bad News Records)
Headnodic - "Vallejo" from Now a Daze 12" (2004, Tres Records)

We recently got down with Crown City Rockers' bassist to ask him a few questions about his work. The man is also an avid producer for the group and has composed beats for several of today's finer underground acts. He is known as Headnodic. The name says it all, and without a doubt, you can expect his melodies to be whiplash inducing, bum burning, drum juggling, thumb bugging, funky, rhythmic, and bombtastically scrumptulescent.


Diggin' Music: Please tell us about yourself, who is Headnodic?

Headnodic: I'm a Sagitarius... I make beats all day long (mostly for Crown City Rockers)... I play the bass... and I'm the north-midwest regional US champion of the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon Game"... (challenge me MFers).

DM: Do you have any particular goals you want to accomplish through your music?

H: To get better at what I do... thats it.

DM: The "Plate Fork Knife Spoon" album just recently dropped. It was mentioned that one of the reasons why Mission: changed into Crown City Rockers (besides the legal matters behind the name) was because of the minimal focus on the production and more attention directed towards the MC's. Was "Plate Fork Knife Spoon" solely a dedicated effort towards expressing the melodic aspects of you and your crew? Please explain.

H: Plate Fork Knife Spoon - was a project we made out of several jam sessions. Kat, Max and myself have been grooving and improvising together for years. This was a chance to make a record that focused on the free-form grooves that we play. Most of the album (minus about 3 songs) were made up on the spot.

DM: You produced the Project Move single on Sunmoon Records, Woo b/w Butterfly Theory. Did you work on anything else that is going to appear on their forthcoming album?

H: There is another joint that we did that will be on that album (slammin' album by the way).

DM: Just recently, Moe Pope united with the Crown City Rockers for a San Francisco show. This was regarded as a "Mission: Reunion". From there, it was speculated that Mission: would be reformed. Is this true?

H: I can not confirm nor deny such allegations... no, I'm playin' Mission is in the past. Moe's doing good with his group and Crown City is doing good. We'll definitely get him on the next Crown City record if possible.

DM: What can you tell us about the upcoming Megaphone album with Moe Pope?

H: Moe Pope and Headnodic present..."Megaphone" is the album that we did in 11 days, when he came out to Cali. We were going to do an EP, but it sounded a little too good, so we've decided to make a couple more tracks, and make it a full-length...

DM: Are your beats something you work on insistently? Do you sit in front of your equipment and progressively build upon a track, or is it something that comes fortuitously?

H: Some tracks take 15 minutes... Others take 5 years. I just keep bangin' on it 'till it sounds right.

DM: How has your production developed over the past few years? What kind of tools are you working with? Do you plan on expanding your current musical boundaries?

H: I use a computer now and make a lot of my own samples in ProTools. I try to make that 70's vinyl sound so alot of it is recording drums in large rooms with 2 mics. It works out perfect for me because I tour with Crown City's drummer Max MacVeety and we play different size rooms all the time, so we'll get out my DAT machine and do a "Break session" wherever we go. I'll sift through the patterns and loop up the dopest part, and mix it, and make a beat.

DM: You graduated from Berklee College of Music, was it your initial plan to pursue a career based on music? How early in life was this ambition engraved in your mind?

H: I got a bass in 7th grade and I've been at it ever since. I bought a (one button, 8 sec.) sampler in high school, and a 4track and made an album with my homie Balance the MC. We sold them out of our locker, and that was it.

DM: Tell us about the video shoot you did for the song "Beautiful" with DJ Tonk and Raashan Ahmad. You're up in there rocking a large bass and eating a cheeseburger, which is ill.

H: I still haven't seen that. I think it's at DJTonk.com I'm gonna check that out after this. They recorded the vocals for that song at my studio, so when it came time to do the video they came back and I tagged along. Tonk is dope... What up Tonk?

DM: Who has had the most influence on you in terms of your production? Is there anybody you would like to work with? Any dream collaborations?

H: I just hit Ghostface off with a beat CD... that would be the illest. of course Rakim, I'd love to get him back on some fast "follow the leader" shit. I want to get Raashan and Airto in a room together (I just want to push record on that). there are countless people I want to work with... for now I'm looking around the bay. I hope to do more stuff with Zion, Gift of Gab, and P.E.A.C.E.

DM: What music have you been listening to recently, Hip Hop or otherwise?

H: Tango music: Astor Piazzolla
A lot World music: Indonesia Gamelan stuff, Boliwood, Brazil (as always), Caetano Veloso, Lila Downs.
HipHop: The Perceptionists, Zion I, Ludacris, Wu, Timbaland.
Rock, Soul, Jazz etc.

DM: Are there any other projects not yet discussed that you're currently working on? What's next for Headnodic?

H: I did this joint "Viles" with Micha 9 and P.E.A.C.E. that I've been bumping a lot... That should be out on Micha's record in a couple months. I'm working with Destani Wolf (who sang on our album) and the new Crown City album, I'm staying crazy busy.

DM: Is there any advice you would like to impart upon aspiring producers?

H: Don't use cheater-records or sample CD's.


To learn more about Headnodic, you can visit both CrownCityRockers.com and WideHive.com.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Florida: Hip Hop's Best Kept Secret? [Part 3 - Seven Star]

Seven Star
"An Error's End" from My Mother and Father Were Astronauts (2004, Counterflow Recordings)
"Gender Affection" from My Mother and Father Were Astronauts (2004, Counterflow Recordings)

Stars, those fascinating entities light years away from Earth, are in fact significant. When a star re-combusts (namely referred to as a nova), the fusion causes the creation of new elements, distributing more essential components needed for humanity to exist. Through a nova, the least noticeable star in the sky may become the brightest.

Similarly, Counterflow Recordings artist Seven Star has been dispersing his lyrics through a single element of Hip Hop, while still not gaining deserved regard. But as his recent release of compiled material prepares us for his major debut, Seven Star steadily continues to bless us with his music.


Diggin' Music: Please tell us about yourself. Who is Seven Star?

Seven Star: Just a regular guy in search for truth, in love waiting for the paradigm shift, but definitely a hip hop junkie all the way.

DM: What is the meaning behind the astronomical influences in your work? (Your name being "Seven Star" and your latest release entitled "My Mother and Father Were Astronauts")

SS: My first name derived from the influences I recieved while goin' to church. 7 is a holy number to some, a divine number if you will, and to me divinity lies in the cosmos, in the stars....in all things and since scientists say that we're made up of the same stuff as the stars, I connected them both.

DM: DJ Manuvers has produced the majority of your music. How did you guys get together?

SS: I've known Manuvers or Pancho as his closest friends and family like to call him for maybe 10, 11 years. We met while still in school through some mutual friends. He was just DJ'ing at the time and didn't get in to producing 'till a little after that. We recently formed a crew that we call MILES and will be releasing shit soon on our own label.

DM: How'd you hook up with Counterflow Recordings? How has it been working on this label?

SS: I hooked up with C.F about maybe 5 years ago. C.F.'s 2nd release was Avatar, produced by Seth P. Brundel of Algorithm right after the 1st release by Spirit Agent, "Agent Ethos". Since then we've released 2 more singles. "John Doe Lamarckian" and the "My Mother and Father were Astronauts" sampler followed up by the album. We're now getting ready to release a fourth single entitled "The Philosophy of Letting Go". Working with any label is a challenge. To me, the record industry is filled with devils of all colors trying to suck your creativity dry. We have been through some hardships, but we're still goin' strong. We got Dave Ghetto, Plant Life, Dynas and a whole bunch of surprises for hip hopers world wide. Stay tuned.

DM: Do you have any ulterior goals in terms of making music?

SS: Eventually I would like to write books and maybe even scripts for movies. My ulterior goal would definitely have to be to escape the city and settle down with my girl in a mountain somewhere, nowhere.

DM: You've lived in various areas of the world, describe in greater detail your past situations and how that has molded you.

SS: Born in Manhattan and lived in the Bronx 'till the age of 5. My mom and I move to Santurce, P.R. where I lived 'till 12 or 13. Mom dukes decides that P.R. work isn't paying her very well so we decide to move to Miami. I head out to Arizona to stay with my pops foe a while until mom dukes got her shit straight in Fl and the rest is history. The past situation that molded me the most was this one time when living in P.R. My mothers roommate, I think his name was Ralph, son came to visit for the summer. I wake up one morning to the sounds of music coming from Ralph's room so I get up to investigate and knock on Ralph's door. His son opens the door and greets me with a handshake, he's a few years older than me, but when you're that young a few years older was a big difference. He asks me the way to the beach and proceeds to sing along with the music. I'm not sure what exact song it was but it was definitely RUN DMC. I thought what he was doing was incredible. I bet him that he couldn't keep singing if the volume was down. He laughed and began to lower the volume kickin' the rhymes the whole time. I think that was the moment when I figured it all out 'cuz a couple of weeks later I wrote my 1st rhyme.

DM: Your lyrics carry a sense of conscious thought and self-contemplation. What impels you to write?

SS: My undying love for Hip Hop, God and what it might be, history and most definitely humanity in all it's splendor. I believe that musicians are a species of prophet here to help the world figure shit out.

DM: Do you have any aspirations to work with any producers or MC's out there? What would be some dream collaborations for you?

SS: Pete Rock, Primo, Just Blaze, Bjork, Bobby Mcferrin, KRS, De La, Rakim, Tribe, Monk if he was still here maybe even Billy Joel. There's so many.......

DM: What music are you feeling right now, Hip Hop or otherwise?

SS: I'm feeling the new Climber stuff on Botanica del Jibaro and I can't wait for the Dave Ghetto release to drop 'cuz that shit is goin' to be the nastiest. I'm listening to the new De La and Common, but my heart lies with my Latin American MC's like Mustafa in Argentina, Gravsound in Spain, as well as Soarce Spoken who is one of the nastiest MC's out right now.

DM: What releases can we expect from Seven Star in the near future?

SS: The next single on C.F is "The Philosophy of Letting Go" set to be released in about a month, hopefully. My sophomore album will be released with Botanica del Jibaro entitled "A View of Heaven From a Seat in Hell" set for early 2006, late 2005. I'm also working on a project called The GUILD. The Great Conjuction is here! Oh! and also I'm working with a really dope MC/DJ/producer/engineer named Rise Up from Hawaii. The project that I am most excited about is MILES with Manuvers and I. MILES might just save the world.

DM: Any last comments you would like to make?

SS: Business is a devil's art and prepare for The Great Conjuction! THE GUILD THE GUILD THE GUILD! Just a couple of MILES to go!!!!!!!


To purchase Seven Star's music, hit up CounterflowRecordings.com. Also check out BotanicadelJibaro.com for more dope releases. Until next time...peace.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Chris Craft's Aljera Music

Aljera Music - Alexandria, Virginia.
Chris Craft - "Clear One feat. John Robinson and DJ Rhettmatic" from Clear One 7" (2005, Aljera Music)

Blood Diamonds (Chris Craft and B.I.) - "Pineapples" from unreleased (2005, Aljera Music)



We recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with Chris Craft, CEO of Shaman Work Recordings and creator of a brand new Hip Hop label, Aljera Music.

Diggin' Music: For those not in the know, introduce yourself. Who is Chris Craft both musically and business wise?

Chris Craft: Peace all… The name is Chris Craft… A preppy black dude with a lot to offer… Just kidding… Well let me start with business wise because that’s honestly my main focus for the time being… I’m CEO of the record label - Shaman Work Recordings and the founder of a second record label - Aljera Music… I’ve dabbled in some things in the past like AlphaBeats.com and BeatBattle.com but I’ve found some great stability in running the labels… I’m not giving up on my past ventures… I’m going to bring them back when I have more time to give some focus to them and when Shaman Work is clicking on all cylinders.

Now let me touch on the music side of things… I pretty much started to make beats at around age 14 or 15 back in Houston, TX (my birthplace and hometown ‘til ‘97) … And making beats pretty much carried me into the formation of Divine Mind… A crew made up of friends while I was at college at Morehouse in Atlanta… I rhymed a little bit but my true skill is in the beats… Not many people know because the business side of things takes up so much of my time… But you’ll be hearing from me and my MPC 4000 a lot more in the near future folks… But everyone should go find some of the old Divine Mind stuff and some of my more recent stuff with DOOM and John Robinson to hear my sound… It’s REALLY all over the place… But I got some things planned that I’m excited about… I can tell you all that Vinia Mojica is really into a raw track that I just hit her with… So just stay on the lookout.

DM: What's the story behind Aljera Music? You're already the founder of an upstart indy label, Shaman Work Recordings. What posessed you to begin a brand new offshoot label as opposed to continuing to release your music on a single label?

CC: Aljera is really personal… The name of the label is a combination of parents’ names – Albert L. Craft and Jeraldine Beavers… They’ve both passed away within the last two years and I owe my life to God and my parents… My parents sacrificed so much for me… So this and other things I have planned in their names are my dedications to them… But don’t get it twisted… Aljera and Shaman Work are very much related… Shaman Work is the “parent company”. Aljera is just a creative outlet for my personal music… That’s all.

DM: The first Aljera Music release, the Clear One 7" is the first of seven releases in the Crafted Music series. What does the future hold for this series? Is anything planned as of now that you can reveal?

CC: Well I have a track done with Aceyalone that’s super… Maybe I should put that on a seven-inch for part two huh… But yeah “Clear One” is special… I came with the idea of basing a song around the number “one” and J.R. aka Sci just ran with it and Rhettmatic brought it on the ones and twos… I have a ton of fun releases planned for Aljera.

DM: “Pineapples” is an amazing track in my opinion. How did you hook up with B.I.?

CC: I’ve known B for quite some time… Met him through one of my old music buddies Trice… B is the young gun… I swear that his future includes being one of the mainstream’s top sought lyricists… He has what it takes and I believe that… “Pineapples” is a rough little mixtape song that we did up… After I heard it for the first time… I just had to leak it on the Aljera website.

DM: Is a full length Blood Diamonds album planned? When can we expect a release from you two?

CC: I would love to get an album out late next year for Blood Diamonds… or early 2007… Seriously… I would like to see B.I. drop a solo album before the Blood Diamonds album though… So in the meantime expect more 12”s and mixtapes from Blood Diamonds… We’re just in the process of getting the buzz where it needs to be.

DM: As I said earlier, you're the founder of Shaman Work Recordings. Recently you signed none other than C.L. Smooth. How did this go down? When can we expect a C.L. Smooth release? Fill us in.

CC: The C.L. signing was a move we had to make… Before we even signed C.L. … I was talking to my business partner, Lamar Gilliam, about picking up an artist for the roster… We wanted a legend in the game; but at the same time, we wanted someone that still “had it” with a new focus … C.L. is ferocious right now. He’s spitting harder than ever and I love it. The single “Warm Outside” b/w “I Can’t Help it” drops on August 5th, ’05 and you can expect a mix-cd hitting the streets in September… After that… An EP entitled ‘American Me’ in February / March of ’06 and the full-length will follow the EP not too far after.. tentatively entitled ‘Silver and Lead’.

DM: Is there any more news on the Shaman Work side of things that you'd like to speak on?

CC: Ta’Raach (Lacks) is in the studio recording… Scienz of Life is in the studio… We’re finishing up our ‘Beatology Vol. 2’ instrumental release with producers like Count Bass D, Locsmif, S1, Fat Jack, and others… Of course you all have to go out and cop our latest two releases – ‘Special Herbs Vol. 9+0’ and ‘The Family Files Vol. 2’ (dropping on August 9, ’05) … 2006 is going to be a special year indeed… And we just might hit ya’ll with news of another “blockbuster” artist signing before the year is up… Who knows?

DM: Thanks for your time Chris. Any last comments or shoutouts?

CC: Just support good music and good people in general… We’ve seen so much propping up of negative things… Let’s all try our best to give light to the positive spirits, forces, beings, thoughts, ideas, people, places, and things around us. Peace.


To purchase Aljera Music and Shaman Work Recordings releases visit EssDub.com. Support the music y'all, peace.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Rural Files Volume 1: Arcee

Arcee
Da Grassroots - "Thematics feat. Arcee" from Passage Through Time (1999, Conception Records)

Arcee - "Super Educated feat. Fatski" from The Exquisite 12" (2001, Certified Records)

Toronto-based artist Arcee, (phonated as initials R.C., real name Rana Chatterjee) first created a buzz on Eclipse’s single, “World Premiere” in 1998. The following year, he appeared as a guest artist on Da Grassroots album, “Passage Through Time”. On the track, “Thematics”, he verbalizes an introspective view on the positive aspects of his music-making journey. Arcee reveals his multi-faceted style by intermingling rhythm-heavy wordplay and strangely-suitable battle raps with expressive sentiment. His love and passion is evoked immensely through the hook, which is consistently preceded by shout-outs to significant relations in his life. Da Grassroots provide him with a boom-bass beat, melodically aligned with fresh drum kicks and a very catchy, yet delightful string-loop. After lacing the verses, Arcee compliments the track accordingly with smooth intervals of vocal spurts. Arguably, this track stands out as the album's gem.

In 2002, he released the single “Stripes” on the renown independent label ABB Records, which proved to be a pivotal move in his career. Many didn’t know this, but before producer Jake One blew up, he was counterparts with Arcee, and singles such as “Essay On Pseudoism”, “The Exquisite”, and “Super Educated” exemplified their potential. In 2003, he released a compilation of his singles entitled “Mixedwell” on Fifty-Fourth Records, mixed by Toronto’s own Lil’ Jaz. This release was a true showoff of Arcee’s wide spectrum of musical endeavors. The tune “Twelve” (taken off Nautilus The Navigator’s vinyl single) is strictly funky B-Boy material accentuated by the freshness of both MC’s. Though not given the opportunity for proper exposure towards a sufficient sphere of listeners, in 2004, Arcee landed his acclaimed single “Super Educated” on DJ Premier’s compilation mix, “Step Ya Game Up”. Give it to Primo to shed the light, as in past years he has been illuminating overlooked artists and their raw talent through mixtapes.

With Canada’s regressive transition towards Hip Hop’s demise, which is similar to the likes of America’s current absorption towards screaming and name repetition as a means of hit songs, there is no doubt that the temptation to sell out is highly manifested in today’s array of musical contemporaries. Arcee refrains from doing so and maintains his status as the “advocator of the truth”. His meticulous vocal-compositions combined with refreshingly delivered raps channel through as a declaration to Hip Hop’s golden era.

Arcee doesn’t pay homage to the culture in a single, constricted manner. He also runs a weekly Hip Hop radio show called “The Real Frequency”, which airs on Toronto’s CLKN, every Saturday from 1 to 4 PM PST.

Florida: Hip Hop's Best Kept Secret? [Part 2 - Swamburger]

Swamburger
Swamburger - "Sun Vibes feat. Zano and Deuce Logic" from The Roots of Kin (2003, Eighth Dimension Records)
Descry / Swamburger - "Help Me Up" from untitled demo (2005, unknown)

Orlando resident Swamburger enjoyed critical acclaim early in his Hip Hop career, having his music featured on MTV (Real World, Road Rules, etc.) and on the soundtracks of Electronic Arts' hit football video games Madden NFL 2002 and 2003. Currently he's a member of the Sol.iLLaquists of Sound, who are fresh off a nationwide tour with Rhode Island political powerhouse Sage Francis. Look out for a new Sol.iLLaquists of Sound full length entitled "Explorations of Sol.itude" in late 2005 on Nonsense Records and a yet to be titled collaboration with up and coming Bay Area producer Descry.

To learn more about Swamburger, visit the Sol.iLLaquists of Sound website (under construction). A special thanks to Descry for supplying an early demo for a future Descry/Swamburger collaboration. Check out his website here (also currently under construction).