Thursday, June 30, 2005

On my lunch break the other day, in a bookstore flipping through the new XXL with Jay-Z/Kanye/Foxy on the cover, out of nowhere I see this full page ad on page 120:


It kinda caught me offguard! I mean, it's been 3 years since "Whoa Now" blew up on Bmore and D.C. radio and he got signed to Atlantic, got flown out to L.A. for a couple weeks to maker a slicker remix and record a quickie album, made a video that was on BET every day, then they put out the album and it went wood and he got dropped and became a one hit wonder that people make milk carton jokes about. Which is probably just as well, because if he sold big then Baltimore would probably be looking like St. Louis right now (Plum Drank called him "a proto Chingy" once, which is kinda accurate). And I figured that would be the end of the story. I mean, a few months afterward, he had an independent single w/ an Al Green sample and I heard him on a radio interview, sounding dispirited talking about industry politics, and he played a show now and then as recently as last year. But aside from that he's kept a pretty low profile even on a local level. If he was gonna make moves as a rapper again, I figured he would've done it by now. I remember reading articles about him at the time that he was in college when "Whoa Now" blew and he dropped out when he got signed, but I figured after it all fizzled he'd just go back to school and move on with his life. If he wanted he could've just taken advantage of being a big fish in a small pond, appearing on all the local mixtapes and doing shows with the newer stars, eating off of the slowly coming up new scene and giving Comp and Bossman advice on what (not) to do after they got signed to majors. At least, that's what he should've been doing, I'd think, if he wanted back the grassroots Baltimore support he had to begin with. I mean, I should've at least heard something about his new record around Baltimore before seeing an ad in a national mag. I read the stuff on the website but I couldn't listen to the songs on my computer, so I can't say if those are any good. 80 Dimes was kinda decent, though, better than its reputation at least. Here's a song from it:

"Back To The Streets"
"They lock me up for the hook, I make bail, then kick the verse". This isn't really one of the better tracks on the album, he does the happy "Whoa Now" type stuff better, but I kinda like it because Dukeyman's production it is really clearly his attempt at something like Rod Lee's beats for Tim Trees that were ruling Baltimore at the time. That bass pulse, the tempo and the drum pattern, it's totally like a more ornate version of "Bank Roll".


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Props to Tom B. for namechecking Gov't Names in his review of that new Rod Lee mix. Also, Chuck Eddy mentions the Rod Lee and Lil Jay mixes in the Village Voice this week.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A few cool shows in Baltimore this week, none of which I'm gonna be able to catch:

this Thursday (tomorrow) starting at 6:30pm
Huli Shallone and Mullyman
free concert at the corner of Monument St. & Luzerne Ave.
sponsored by 92Q and Mayor O'Malley's BELIEVE campaign!

and coming to Bmore from Philly:
this Thursday (tomorrow)
Bugsy, Freeway and Oschino
performance and Bugsy mixtape release party
@ the Latin Palace
more info on the flyer here, I think K-Swift and Comp are gonna be there too

and this weekend is the African American Heritage Festival at Camden Yards, Bossman is gonna be there Friday and Paula Campbell is gonna be there Saturday.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Club Queen K-Swift - Vol. 6: The Return

The Club Queen Vol. 1-5 mixes are all great snapshots of Baltimore club music at the moment they came out and the whole city was waiting on Vol. 6 for months. I posted a flyer for a release party back in March, but I don't think the CD was actually out until after another release party about a month or two later when I started seeing it in stores all over the city. I've been listening to K-Swift's mixes 5 nights a week on 92Q since, I dunno, it's probably been about 3 years since she took over the 9 o'clock mix from Reggie Reg fulltime, she's probably the most popular club DJ who doesn't also produce tracks. Vol. 6 is her first CD that's been released by Unruly Records, first one in a regular jewelcase with a silver bottom too, all her old ones were in those slim mixtape cases. It's not currently available from the store on K-Swift's official site, maybe it will be, I dunno, but there used to be a lot more old ones for sale there that aren't now.

Nigga Say What - "Hornz Joint"
One of those monolithic synth brass riffs that are a hallmark of club music, I go wild every time this song comes on, it sounds incredible to me. When Le Coq was visiting here last week and heard this track, he called them "old rave horns", but I've never really listened to proper dance music so it never occurred to me that that's what they are. (The track that gets mixed in a little at the end of this one is KW Griff's "Hey What's Up".)

Blaq Starr - "Get My Gun"
This was the most requested song on K-Swift's show for a while earlier this year, although the radio edit obviously is a little different and plays the "fuckin'" and "gun" parts backwards, which makes it sound even weirder than it already does. The producer's name is spelled "Blackstar" on this CD but I've always seen it on other CD's as Blaq Starr. Between this, the NEK song he produced, and a couple other joints, I'd have to give it up for Blaq Starr as the MVP among the newer club producers right now.

Doc Slice - "Asses Wigglen"
This was #1 in my top ten of weird club music samples, before I knew the name of the track w/ the loop of Morris Day's best scene from Purple Rain.

King Tut - "Big Girl Theme"
This is an old old one, a classic, I remember hearing this a lot way back when I first started paying attention to club music. I think like a lot of people it took me a while to realize it was a unique local phenomenon, there are still a lot of people in Baltimore who kind of think that it's totally normal for rap stations everywhere to play an hour of 130bpm ghetto house every night.

(For the record, I hope I don't come off as elitist or possessive about club music. I've never tried to play keep away with it. If I was, I wouldn't be writing about it, posting mp3's, and telling people out there how they can buy it in the rare event that it's actually available for purchase online (and I've always had links on the right to the sites of the only 2 local club DJs who sell mixes online). Every year the music reaches more and more people outside the Beltway and I'm not mad at that at all, although I would like to help shape their understanding of it and make sure it isn't looked at as just a fad or a novelty. I fucked up on the calling out Diplo thing, if I'd had my facts straight I'd stand by it, but I didn't so I won't. I hesitated for like a week about posting it because I wasn't sure I had the correct info, and when it turned out I didn't, I regretted the whole thing, obviously. I don't like having egg on my face so I'm just going to leave it at that. And to the guy who complained that I didn't give him credit for telling me the (wrong) info, I was trying to be polite by not pointing the finger at anyone else in case it was wrong, which it was.)

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Friday, June 17, 2005

There was a comment on my last Bossman post "Finally, hey can you post some North east kings music!", so here's some NEK (Bossman, Dollars and Tony Manson) tracks from the mixtape I wrote about last year.

"Face Down" (Remix) Produced by Blaq Starr
The only Baltimore club/hip hop fusion that actually gets played by club DJs all the time. The original (which has a slightly different hook) is on the new K-Swift mix, but I don't like it as much as the remix. Great track.

"Get Loose" (freestyle)
Last time I saw NEK live they did this, I don't know where the beat's orginally from but it's one of my favorites for the verses.

"95 South"
Bossman recycled his verse at the end of this for "Hey U" on his album but I like it better here, token laid back fake south track.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Comp, Data, Bishop and Lil Jay - "The Mind of a Soldier"
One of the people who does Comp's website e-mailed me recently putting me up on this song (in their words: "What we feel is so unique about the song is that it is non partisan and just expresses the camaraderie of the soldiers and its just a positive spin on the whole situation"), him and some other people from Baltimore kind of doing a 'support our troops' track that ended up being featured on this U.S. Department of Defense website (scroll down about halfway). The hook is sung by a 12-year-old girl named Lil Jay (not to be confused with the 14-year-old boy named Lil Jay who does Baltimore club tracks with Rod Lee). Militant snare roll/dramatic harpsichord combination reminds me of "Mighy D-Block", Comp on the hook and a decent serious verse, "my face painted black, I'm over in Iraq, they speakin' foreign so I judge 'em on the way they act, I'm with my entourage, we wearin' camouflage, and that's a landmine, uh-uh, don't come across, I remember when I first signed up, little skinny ass _____, now my chest real buff".

Sonny Graham - "I'm Here"
"Homey I put my life in it/you gotta feel me/I'm tryin' to be filthy, not tryna be guilty, I roll the dice on this one, I'm here, that's it, son", kinda hot song from a new Baltimore kid. But really really biting Dipset's sound, he even flows like Juelz. Gotta be the biggest Dip rider that doesn't have a blog.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Now, I don't really care about this record, and the last thing anyone needs is another blog talking about it, but it's come to my attention that the Interscope re-release of M.I.A.'s Arular features a version of the song "URAQT" that samples Rod Lee's "You Big Dummy". I mentioned this before, when it was just on a mixtape, but now, for the first time, a Rod Lee beat is on a major label album, and he's not given any credit whatsoever. Apparently the liners give a co-writing credit to Quincy Jones (for the "Sanford and Son" theme sample), and a production credit to Diplo, but no mention of Rod Lee. And it's clearly not on any 'replayed elements' thing or just the same sample, it's his beat. I'm not really about stirring controversy or trying to get someone sued, or saying it just to hate on all that Hollertronix stuff. And to make it entirely an issue of legality would be a little hypocritical, since Rod used an uncleared sample in the first place. I'm just saying, Diplo's on some shady Trackmasters/Irv Gotti beatjacking shit, and I'd love to know what Rod thinks about it. (Inaccurate hearsay; see comments for clarification. I can admit when I'm wrong.)

Thursday, June 09, 2005


This Sunday, Bossman is shooting the "Oh" video at the El Dorado. And here's some info about an audition/model search for Lil Mo's "Dem Boyz" video.

Bossman "Oh" (produced by Rod Lee) coming soon to BET and a radio near you

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Rod Lee - Vol. 5: The Official

The latest in the series of Club Kingz Records mix CDs that Rod started back in 2000 with Operation: Start-Up, some of the best Baltimore club music of the moment mixed by the king, the legend of this shit. The big difference this time is that this is on Morphius Urban, an arm of the Baltimore-based indie distro Morphius, which means you can actually order it online and maybe find it in stores outside the 410 area. 2/3rds of the tracks are Rod's own productions, as opposed to other DJ's mixes, which typically have 'only' 5-10 Rod Lee tracks.

"What They Gown Doo" - Rod Lee
One of the best of the countless Bmore club records out right now with Lil Jon samples, Rod spitting motivational lyrics (he's not a rapper or a singer, but he does vocals on his own tracks more than any other club producer), I got my mind right/on the grind right/don't let nobody take your pride/stand tall right/I have a master plan/that's gonna change the game/I'm a true pioneer/don’t make me say what’s my name?/yeah, I'm back/yours truly DJ Rod Lee/what you thought I was finished?/what you thought I was over?

"Dance My Pain Away" - Rod Lee
On the new Technics and K-Swift mixes this is called "I Got Problems", but the official title on this and Rod's new 12" EP is "Dance My Pain Away". Pretty much my favorite club track of 2005 so far, one of Rod's raspy singing joints and the most soulful, melancholy club track I've ever heard. The first time I heard it it reminded me of what he said in this interview (which coincidentally is also quoted on the Morphius page) (well maybe not really a coincidence since it's the only Rod Lee interview that's online): Basically, I tell you the truth, my music comes out of anger. Depressed anger that goes amongst everybody. You got people going to the club to have a drink cause they're mad at their females. You got guys going to club to get away from their bills. I just relate off everything. If you could sit there and make someone dance after they got divorced [laughter], I know I'm good! I seen females, before they get to the club, they done got their ass whipped. Go to the club, the music come on, they're gone, "I feel good; I needed this." You can explain Baltimore club as stupid or vulgar or funny dance music, and many people have, but it's a lot more than that, and Rod Lee understands that better than anyone.

I'm gonna dance my pain away
I got problems
dance my pain away
I got problems
like woah oh

I just got laid off today
what you think wifey gonna say?
I'll just have to hope and pray
rain rain go away
the repo man just hit me
can't get from A to B
fake friends around me
lord, won't you help me?
now I'm on my tippy toes
face down, eyes closed
dancin' to this melody

"What Chew Know About Down The Hill" - DJ Lil Jay, produced by Rod Lee
Lil Jay is a 14-year-old boy who DJs Baltimore club that Rod has taken under his wing and who does vocals on some of Rod's tracks. Rod seems to have big plans for him, like Lil Jay is gonna be the Lil Bow Wow of club music or something like that, I dunno. This song is one of my favorites, though. Pretty much every club track about being from down the hill and/or up the hill is great.

"The Bernie Mack Theme" - Rod Lee
It's Rod's beat from Tim Trees's "We Don't Love 'Em" sped up to club tempo! With some samples from the end of the Kings of Comedy movie.

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