Thursday, September 04, 2008

Rod Lee - Vol. 3: Operation Shut Em Down (Club Kingz Records/Morphius Urban)

This is the 3rd out of Rod Lee's first 4 albums, all released independently between 2001 and 2004, that have been part of Morphius's reissue series. As I mentioned a few months ago when I wrote about Vol. 2, the only one that I'd never been able to find an original pre-Morphius pressing of was this one, Vol. 3, so it's cool to finally hear it, although I know and love a lot of these tracks from when they were out at the time. It's mostly Rod's own tracks, along with some songs by K.W. Griff, DJ Technics, and Davon (credited as "Dayvon"), among others. This and all the other reissues are available at the Club Kingz Music Store, which is finally open, as well as a lot of other stores and online retailers (although so far only Vol. 5 and the Vol. 1 reissue are on iTunes).

Mike Mumbles & The Crew - "Charlie Brown" (mp3)
Real talk: this is probably one of my all-time favorite Baltimore club tracks, real top 10 material, but I never owned a copy of it or even really knew who produced it until I picked up this reissue. This CD must have come out when old Motown and classic soul samples in club music were at their peak, because it's got a lot of those: "Mr. Postman," "Boardwalk," "Tina's Theme," "Seen Her," "Going To The Chapel" (which I played at my wedding a few months ago), all those jams, plus this one.

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“My music comes from anger,” Rod Leetold Linkmagazine in the fall of 2004, “Anger that goes amongst everyone.” He should know—from his bunker-like studio on Monument Street, Lee has witnessed the continuing turmoil of Baltimore, a city plagued by violence, poverty, disease and despair. Some call it the heroin capitol of the world, “Misery City”, or America’s’ third world home. Yet like cosmic cracks in the pavement that swallow whole discarded bullet casings and flowering vials of corpulent dreams, art somehow survives. Enter Lee, the undisputed Godfather of Baltimore Club, the city’s own indigenous music that has spread like an electric undercurrent via underground clubs and pirate radios around the world. Rhythmically incessant, laced with scattershot insights, chants of anger and virile sublimity, Baltimore Club blends the rabid energy of house music with the reckless defiance of hip-hop. It is spirited, primal, unrelentingly passionate and scatological, all! the elemental sonic chakras that urge the body to move and the soul to lust. And this sound is Lee’s invention: not just the usual recipe of dance music, but an erstwhile alchemy of urban realism and scat kick drums, catastrophic vocal riffs and thunderous transition, from desperation to drive, full-on assault and kinetic affirmation. Now Lee, in conjunction with Morphius Urbanis releasing his 5thBaltimore Club album entitled Rod Lee Vol. 5: The Official, a 30-track masterpiece featuring his best music to date. Taking Baltimore Club to another level, Lee punctuates the energetic clip of hip-hop infused club beats with a overarching subterranean narrative touching on the joy and pain, sorrow and resolve that Baltimore club-style survival dictates. Between the seams of the four-on-the-floor euphoria are songs like Dance My Pain Away, Lee’s appeal for a break from bill collectors and the repo man, and You Keep Fuckin Around, a cryptic and dark love/threat that reveals the merciless underbelly of the city’s male/female relations. Euphoria kicks in again with the rousing Get Your Handz up, a frenzied track that inverts the clichéd phrase and turns into a transcendent request for release. Finally, Lee finishes the CD off with Break It Down, a primal chant tune encoded with all the sublimate anger and creative divinity that makes Lee a credible genius. Of course, Lee did not complete this masterpiece alone. Adding to his own talent is work from some of the best producers in Baltimore Club, includingBLAQ STAR, K.W GRIF, DJ TECHNICS, and overnight sensation DJ LIL’ JAY. All have lent tracks and talent in homage to the undisputed master of the genre.
Charlie Brown is by Debonair Samir... not Mike Mumbles
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