Archive for October, 2009
You know the feeling?
Every vinyl junkie dreams of discovering their own little cave full of rare jams that no one’s ever heard before, like DJ Shadow’s vinyl wonderland in ‘Scratch’. Once your mind switches into digging mode there’s no return…all you’re focusing on is finding out what kind of crazy sounds are out there, anything to take home & sample?
The first record shop I got hooked on was a place called ‘Lost&Found’. It would only be open on weekends and there were posters and sleeves all over the walls. You’ll come across some cool cover art every time. I’d spent hours going through the albums and singles, sometimes bizarre spoken word records. One of my favourite vinyls I got from there was the soudtrack to the film ‘Babylon’. Classic stuff. The shop was run by two mid-aged hippies who were always smoking in there, listening to tunes and clowning around. A lot o’ the records were stacked in old shopping trolleys and there was a back room full of rare vinyl that only one customer at a time was allowed to go in…probably their way of making the crate-digging lemmings feel a bit special.
Enough of that. The Every Day is Record Store Day campaign that’s been started in the US is a step in the right direction. It’s trying to motivate people to shop at smaller independent outlets on 17th April every year.
Abstract Rude is one of the artists who supports it. “For me, my family’s record collection was my gateway drug to the record store,” he says.
“Also my older sister’s rap tape collection that made me want to own my own music – she was stingy with loaning me tapes! The local record stores became like my gateways for expanding my knowledge of hip hop culture in various neighborhoods and cities worldwide. I know we got the internet today, but honestly, it sucks even trying to buy music online sometimes.”
As far as Beat Bungalow is concerned, there’s no doubt: all day every day should be record store day. Best thing to do is get your fingers dusty and support your local vinyl dealer!
More from Kev Brown here.
This man has definitely got his place in the beat bungalow hall of fame: he’s been on a mission since the early 1980s and is a hip hop original, a next level originator. He invented the transformer and chirp scratches and made his debut with MC Marvelous on legendary Sleeping Bag Records.
What’s he doing now? I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure he’s not working at your local burger joint…more likely that he’s rocking tables across the world. You can check out a Cash Money mix from the 90s here. Also, an interview he did with Earwaks from Canada.
If you’ve ever seen DMC footage of him doing his thing, you know he means business. Straight up vinyl cat from Phillydelphia with lots of energy and a passion for music.
I’ve seen him play three or four times and it’s been a banger every time, especially when he’s been diggin’ in his collection of ultra rare breaks – he’s definitely got enough of ’em to keep you grooving for days. This photo was taken in England six years ago and I asked Cash Money to sign it at another gig, which was a year later in Manchester at the Music Box. Seriously, don’t sleep on this guy. period.
Our man Suff Daddy gets behind the decks at this event organized by D/B mag and it looks like a good ‘un: he’ll be joined by psychedelic beat man Paul White from the UK, who’s put his nightmares on wax and brought out his ‘Strange Dreams of…’ album in the summer. More about the dude in a Fader interview here and a nice guest mix on download. Other people on the bill are Pete Ardakwah, also from London, Stevo from 4lux recordings in Rotterdam, plus the D/B DJs.
Come down, shuffle your feet, nod your head if you’re in the area…
Here comes another interview from London, catching up with one of the city’s hardest-working MCs / producers. Location: a little park near Brixton’s ‘The Fridge’. It’s an autumn afternoon, a few hobos are milling around the trash-filled pond in the park. The sun is shining. Later on we grab a bite to eat, one of Tranqill’s friends joins us (Ten Mill from the Morpheus Soul Show).
If you read the interview, you’ll see that this man doesn’t mince his words. Tranqill’s very pragmatic, he’s very busy and you can tell he’s dead serious about getting somewhere with his music. There’s talk about why life is hectic in London, the beef between different area codes…influential producers such as Pete Rock and Count Bass D. Another question that crops up, and we still need an answer to: why have some South London record shops been turned into nail parlours…
Pictures by Oddisee
(Shouts from across the park) You can hear the people that I roll with out here – crack heads (laughter). We’ve been profiled by the local crack heads, it’s like ‘The Wire’ out here…
Q: What’s happening with your new album, how far done is it and what’s it sound like?
A: The album has got my own production on it, some tracks with Oddisee and I’m doing some stuff with this girl called Renae, who’s a soul singer. I’m just trying to get my stuff out there and just want to bring out that raw hip hop shit. I’m not eclectic, I ain’t trying to go into your brain or anything like that. I just want to give you that raw boom bap shit, that’ll make you spin out and say ‘What the hell is that?’ Obviously there’s MCs out here that have raw talent and I’m not even trying to say that I’m the best out here. I’m just saying that I’m coming out with something that most people ain’t coming out with at this precise moment. There’s a lot of funny music out there that makes me wonder ‘What happened to your drums, what happened to that raw shit?’ That’s what we came or and that’s what I understand hip hop to be – I know that it changes but keep the element as it is.
Q: What made you become an MC and also produce your own music?
A: I started making music when I was about 12 years old, making beats with my boy back in the day at college. We would get two tapes and then put the vocals on one tape, rewind it, then over-dub it. Stuff like that. We used the headphones in the microphone socket – the same old shit that everyone does to get their stuff out there. Then suddenly you see people doing their thing and you see that some people are actually making money out of this. So then I started to get more serious.
I’m going to be honest: I’m not the MCs MC kind of cat. I’m not the guy you’re going to see doing the battles. I’m a street dude and I’m trying to make dough, that’s it. I’ll dress smart if I need to. But the music ain’t about the dough, the dough is already there – this is just about what I love doing. There’s thousands of us, millions of us out here and we’re just not getting the light that we need to shine. I’m rooting for them, all the dudes that never got nothing and have to travel to get theirs
Q: How are you finding juggling your music with work and being a dad as well? Are you planning to go on tour?
A: I’ve got mortgages to pay and kids etc, so it’s not as easy for me to uproot and go somewhere. I’m living real life so I’ve got to make dough for certain things, put that aside and probably later this year I’m going to try do some shows around DC and spread some love. I’ve got a whole lot of family out there anyway, so it’s cool to connect. I need to come out of this town, get the hell out of dodge.
Q: What sort of UK music inspired you, anything in particular?
A: That’s a good question. I’m going to get hated on when I say this. There’s a lot of raw talent in England that’s on a different level. The grime scene and everything is cool, but that’s not something that I can say influenced me. I don’t follow the grime scene or the house scene – it’s just not me, because I’m a hip hop head.
When you come to my house you’re hearing Diamond D, you’re hearing the UN, you’ll hear Capone and Noreaga and all the stuff from that type of time, of course times have changed now. Then you have people like Little Brother, Count Bass D, the Dillas but there’s nothing like that anymore.
Everyone is biting off Dilla, let’s be real here. If someone says to me: ‘Who do you like in the UK?’, I find that hard to answer because my ears are not tuned there. Don’t get me twisted, there’s some great stuff. Who’s that dude? GR 32 there’’s Craze, Dig, Mitchell Brothers all them cats – but if you want to know my preference: they ain’t like Pete Rock, they’re ain’t no Count Bass D. Those are the people I look up to. In that sense, there’s no one I could say has influenced me but they’ve definitely got talent and they’re working hard.
Q: What about people like Roots Manuva, producers and MCs from that generation?
A: Roots is crazy and I like him to death – if you call yourself a UK MC you kind of making yourself sound shit. You look at Roots Manuva and you see an MC, not a UK MC right? So you’re putting him in the same realms as other MCs who’ve produced and spit lyrics. If I get put down in a category as a UK MC I’m cussing and pissed off.
I’m a rap artist and I’m making music – I’m not trying to do UK rap, just rap. I guarantee there are enough people that are doing UK stuff but that’s cool for them – but I’m trying to be broader and go out there to see what’s happening around the world. You can stay doing your Channel U or whatever, that’s cool for you. But me, I’m trying to go a bit bigger than that.
I had a talk a while ago and someone said: ‘What ends are you reppin’?’ ‘I said: fuck that. If I die today, is anyone going to be putting flags out for me? No. The only people that will put flags out for me are mum and my dad and my people. So fuck the area code, I ain’t repping no area, I’m repping hip hop. Point blank. That’s all it is. Fuck the area code, fuck the colour, fuck the tie – fuck all that shit. Just that raw shit is what I’m repping for – excuse my French… (laughter)
A: Hell yea, I’m a jazz wham. Herbie Hancock and all that music I love. I love my soul, old school stuff from the 60s and 70s where you get the two steps rolling, that’s my shit. Forget even about sampling it, that’s what I like listening to. The Marvin Gayes, the James Browns the Curtis Mayfields. I’m into that stuff. I’m also into jazz, reggae and I’m not even talking about dancehall, but about roots reggae and dubs.
Even certain house songs I’m into. Flying Lotus I like – music has become very manufactured and the way they make music has changed. When I’m going to a club I want to dance with a girl and I want to listen to some of the hardest bugged-out shit I can find. It so happens that that kind of music isn’t out there anymore so I go back to Wu Tang or Illegal, remember them from back in the day? I don’t care if it’s old.
Some of my people have said ‘You need to free your mind from that.’ But that’s the stuff I like, it’s what I relate to and it’s what I want to giddy up on. I’m just trying to put out that kind of music. A bit different, maybe with a little English slant to it but it’s still the same type of shit. So on a music front, my eyes and ears are open to all sorts, there’s no limit. Even Go-go music or Salsa, German Jazz, Polish Jazz, Japanese music. Whatever.
Q: London is a great city for music, especially for record shops. How did you grow up with that and what do you think about everything going digital?
A: Well, a whole lot of my people were on sounds back in the day. Obvioulsy we went to carnival. Rampage and all of that. We used to listen to drum‘n’bass, MC Det and that’s what we used to vibe to. In terms of record shops, sales have started slowing down – Red’s Records down the road just closed down and it’s turned into a nail parlour, there’s a lot of nail parlours around here. Maybe that’s what we need to do, start selling records in nail parlours. Everything is changing now and going digital, but when you come to my house you’ll see a whole lot of vinyls.
I also download and buy things on the web, but whether I like your sound decides whether I buy your vinyl. A lot of people think downloading has killed music, but I don’t think so. If your shit is shit then that’s a problem. People will download it anyway, but if your shit is great people will buy it.
I’m buying your stuff on vinyl if it’s really hot and it’ll come into a nice clean cellophane package. A lot of people don’t see life how I do but I say: if it’s rife you cop it, if its shit you download it. It’s that simple.
Q: What about your approach to production, how would you describe your sound? Have you got a philosophy when it comes to making music?
A: I like real drum sounds and I want everything to sound real – I come from the days of sampling from MPCs, but obviously times have changed now. It’s changed from MPCs and reel-to-reel tapes to software like Reason and stuff like that. It’s having an effect on what the music sounds like, which is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.
People need to remember where they come from but at the same time change with the times that we’re in. For me, I ain’t going to lie to you, I keep it rugged and raw. I take my samples from my records, chop that shit up and I’ll flip that tune to make it sound crotty as hell. When it sounds crotty and reminds me of something, I’ll get into a vibe and will start spitting on it. That’s how it works. Soon coming to a neighbourhood near you!
Q: What can you tell people about London?
A: London is gully. It’s not similar to any place that you’ve been to around the world. It’s not slumified like some places in Africa or anything like that, but it’s gully. At certain times you could be walking around and the next minute lose your life. It’s that simple. But at the same time, we’ve got nice things. We’ve got health care, you can get your teeth sorted out for free, NHS is beautiful bruv. You can even go and get dough for free, if you go on the dole (laughter) It’s there! But at the same time, if you check the wrong dude, things will happen. The weather is crap and it’s nothing like Miami where you get beautiful women and palm trees and things like that. It rains all the time, but that’s just how it is.
Q: Does that inspire people to get creative you think?
A: I guess it does, the shitty weather comes with my music, you can hear that straight away. Don’t expect no blingbling, no girls. The weather is shitty and we’re all trying to get dough, I’ll be honest with you. I call people grim-faced Gremlins, this is what we have out here. Everyone is trying to make the better for themselves and the weather ain’t making things better. It’s a kind of crabs-in-a bucket mentality. Women don’t walk around in their bikinis or low tops, they’ve got their hoods zipped up and walk around with their pants hanging down. It’s not nice…there’s a certain attitude there (laughter). The pound is strong and if you know how to make money, you’re laughing but if you don’t, you’re not. Simple as that.
It does inspire creativity and if you know how to shift and blend it, it’s all good. I also think there’s a certain climate right now, there’s a recession in the economy. Men are hungry out here. That’s what’s coming through in my music.
Q: Any collaborations that you would like to do, have you got any artists in mind?
A: There’s one cat out there that I would love to work with, producer 14 KT from the US. His music is inspirational. Kev Brown is tight, Pete Rock for me, there’s no one above. He’s still knocking out them hits. His new album is not as good, not like Soul Survivor.
Q: What’s it like working and making music at the same time?
A: It’s shit (laughter). For me it’s the 9 ‘til 5 grind at the moment and I don’t want my kids to be seeing me at home doing nothing. I’m trying to show them the right way at the end of the day. My kids need to know that you wake up every morning put on your shoes and get that extra dough. If you’re just hustling on the streets, you’re going to get caught sooner or later and you need to figure out how to make that dough come through the bank. You need to be smart about your stuff. I’m always in and out – I’m one of those cats who’ll have an event happen, I’ll go home and write about it. I’m one of them life time rappers, I’m not one of the people who want every rhyme to sound perfect.
Q: What do you write about?
A: Anything. What my people have been through, what my girl has been through, what I’ve been through. Anything I might have seen or heard. In certain times you can’t put everything down on paper and it won’t be as descriptive as you want it to be.
Q: What music are you listening to at the moment? Is there anything on constant rotation at your place at the moment?
A: At the moment, I’m listening to that UN album, and a lot of old school stuff, Kice of Course I like, Raekwon…but my boy Chris from the Morpheus Soul Show has got me to listen to some new stuff.
Q: What about Danger Mouse, what do you think of him?
A: He’s too clinical for me, he’s got crazy shit but it’s a bit too polished. It’s got to be raw, it doesn’t have to be mixed even. Jay-Z’s first album is one of my favourites. I had this debate with my people about who’s got the best debut album. Jay-Z for me was that up-and-coming hustler who was getting dough, very smart too. He was big-pimping and he still is. And I also really like Common’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’. Common lyrically was inspirational, before his new wave of stuff. I wish he could come back, but he’s doing movies now. But the best album for me would be if Jay-Z did an album with Madlib and Pete Rock. Imagine if that came out…
‘Suff’ means booze in German, but during the interview this up-and-coming beat maker took a break from sipping liquor on the rocks. Beat Bungalow caught up with him after the release party for his PilsDaddy LP at a Berlin vinyl hot spot. He waxes lyrically about the musical undergound, his work with Oddisee and his brothers huge record collection.
Winner of the Phat Kat remix competition, some have even compared the Suff sound to that of the late Jay Dee.
And if you listen closely there might just be a few of those slow-clapping, electroid elements in there. Chopped up vocals, dirty drums and all of that but with its own distinct overproof feel, just like his favourite drinks. His mixtapes are also worth checking out.
For real, Suff Daddy is far from tee-total, so catch him at an Alcoholics Anonymous session near you…until then: read this.
Photos: Robert Winter
You’re originally from Düsseldorf (home of Kraftwerk), but have been living in Berlin for a couple of years now. What do you think of the Berlin music scene, and what’s going in hip hop there right now?
Most of the time I make my own music at home, but in Berlin I think the best stuff is coming out of Prenzlauer Berg. There’s a few peeps who used to call themselves ‘Funkviertel’ and who live in that district. Part of that crew are Drum Kit, V.Raeter, V-Mann and also Morlockk Dilemma. I don’t have a lot of time for the Berlin scene otherwise – all the commercial stuff that’s coming from here sucks and I don’t listen to it. Otherwise, there’s a lot of hype about techno and electro. I’m not into techno, even though I’ve got to admit that I used to like house music quite a bit a few years ago and there’s still a few decent tracks coming out.
But most of the time I’m at home making beats, chilling with my girlfriend or I’m in the beer garden with my mates. fLako is another guy from Berlin who I’ve got a lot of respect for and he makes some sick music. There’s also Audio 88 and Robot Koch is another producer and he’s got an electro vibe going on. Generally speaking, only the underground stuff is good around here.
Let’s talk about your ‘Digital Invaders’ project for a bit: that’s a few years ago now isn’t it? How did that come about?
I’ve been making beats for 10 years and for the first seven, I didn’t show them to anyone. I was keeping the music on my hard drive and didn’t play it to anyone, just my friends. Then one day I got talking to Powell from Paris. At the time he was recording tracks with Bless 1 from Chicago. We kept sending each other beats and then he asked if I was down for putting together a compilation with him. None of us had any connections then but we had ‘…’ from the US on there, a couple of French artists and one of my best friends from Berlin, Hazeem. We just wanted to work together and put something out there. I only knew Powell through the web and we’d never met face-to-face even though we’ve known each other for four years now. So this year in August, we were going to meet for the first time at a Beat BBQ in Cologne, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Digital Invaders isn’t going anymore because everyone is doing their own thing, but it was good fun.
And what about your PilsDaddy joints with Pillskills out of East Berlin?
I met Davey Dave in September 2008 at my EP launch party and he asked if I would send him some beats for a collaboration. I really like their lyrics because they don’t take things too seriously you know, they’re unpretentious and it’s just music with a funny twist.
Your brother’s vinyl collection had a big influence on you and your music. What kind of records did he have in that mysterious collection?
He started digging and collecting in the late 1980s until around ’97. He had all the classics, such as DITC and Large Pro. He had the first Main Source single, which was just called ‘Atoms’, a lot of French Hip Hop, stuff from England, Pharcyde…I could go on forever, but mainly golden era hip hop. In that respect, I’ve always tried to become like my brother what hip hop is concerned. He’s no longer doing this and has a different lifestyle with a steady job and so on. But it kind of stuck with me and without his record collection, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.
Did any particular sound or style of production stick with you?
Large Pro’s record ‘The LP’, which was never officially released but it’s been put out again recently. Tracks like ‘I just Wanna Chill’, Souls of Mischief and lots of others.
Your sound is a lot different compared to the other stuff that’s big in Germany right now. How do you feel being a 30-year-old producer, have you considered making music full-time? What’s your plan for the future?
I’ve still got this dream that I can do music full-time and do nothing else, even if that doesn’t sound that realistic. I’m not doing this because of the money, but because it’s what I like doing and because it’s my own little dream. I just want to sit at home and produce – until I’m old and have to go into an old folks’ home. I’m continue doing what I’m doing, even though it doesn’t pay. I’m happy with my Label, Melting Pot Music, and my plan is just to keep releasing records, ideally ten every year. Most of the stuff that’s available at the moment I did a year ago and I’m getting tired of listening, but it’s all good.
Just recently, my second remix 7’’ came out on Goodbye Records with a version of Psycho/ Look of Love by J-88. Olski from MPM ihas been releasing an instrumental LP, which is called Hi Hat Club. My next EP is due before the end of this year. I’m also working on something with fLako and Retrogott from ‘Huss & Hodn’. Another project I’m working on is with Hubert Daviz from Cologne, which is going to be called SuffDavies. Another project with ‘Sichtbeton’ that’ll be called SuffBeton. Another connection I made is with Miles Bonny from Kansas City who is a trumpet player and singer. Also, MegaSuff with Flomega. He’s a good guy and always very busy, but that should be done soon. Otherwise, I’ll still be putting in my hours as a DJ here in Berlin and maybe work on a little live project. That’s what my plan is til 2010.
What was it like working with Kev Brown and Oddisee, how did that work out?
I didn’t know much about Oddisee before we linked up, but one of my friends said to me that he was on tour and coming to Berlin. So I just wrote to him and asked if he was up for getting together and record something. He said cool and we met up for one day. He was a cool dude and the whole recording session lasted for about two hours. He rapped his verse and the hook and then Kev Brown came in on the track as well. That was before I got in touch with MPM.
By the way, mad props to Fleur Earth Experiment – I’m really digging the scene in Cologne right now. There’s some interesting and original music coming from there. Shouts to Hulk Hodn, Twit One, Uno und Testiculo, who did the first volume for Hi Hat Club. All the other commercial stuff is just bullshit as far as I’m concerned and I just like the underground stuff. For me it’s like this: the people who don’t earn a lot of money with making music often make the best music. I don’t want to hate on anybody, but most of the mainstream stuff is bullshit.
Lets talk about the Liks, The Alkoholiks. They were quite a big influence on your sound right?
That’s true, they’ve had a big influence and I think all of their records are tight, except the last one, ‘Firewater’, which I didn’t rate too much. My favourite one is ’21 and Over’. All they’ve done is rhyme about beer, bitches and weed, so it’s pretty limited in terms of what they rap about. But I just really like it and I just think they’re great. It’s the same with me, I don’t want to claim that I’m making really sober and serious music.
Have you got any plans to work with live instrumentation?
A lot of people have asked me that and it’s probably going to happen sooner or later. I just bought a Moog and I’m messing around on that at the moment. But I don’t play any instruments or know how to read music. I just experiment and record the stuff that sounds good to me. One of my predictions, 2010 at Sonar Festival in Barcelona, maybe we can do a live thing there…that would be tight.
This is right up our street: an exhibition that looks at how hip hop developed in the UK, from the beginning until now. If you’re in Manchester or visiting England, check this out at the Urbis and find out how British MCs, DJs, graff artists became independent from the US and developed their own movement. The exhibition includes contributions from vinyl veterans such as Snowboy. Among other artists featured in the exhibition are Krispy, Rodney P & Skitz, Fallacy, DJ Woody, Benji Reid and Seek. The best thing about it: it’s absolutely free, no dollars, pounds or euros involved!!
The exhibit was put together in collaboration with hip hop writer James McNally and musician Kid Acne. A spokesman for Urbis said: “‘Home Grown’ will showcase never before seen photography from the personal collections of DJ Milo (The Wild Bunch) and DJ 279; rare film footage sourced directly from Malcolm McLaren and cult documentary director Dick Fontaine; and exclusive documentation from seminal early hip-hop clubs like Spats and the Language Lab, right through to influential latter day spots such as Deal Real record store. It also will include rare – and sometimes unique – audio, flyers, posters, clothing and unseen photographs from the private collections of artists, promoters, producers, dancers and photographers.”
Exhibition starts on October 15th and will run every day until March 2010.