Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Might not know what I’m talkin about…

Years ago, before Dibbs blew up and became a Rhymesayers affiliate, we used to do a radio show together weekly at WAIF-FM here in Cincinnati. We also used to hit the record shows and garage sales on the weekends looking for vinyl. It was during one of these times when he had the idea of doing a “Tapes Skills Techniques 98.”



The original 1200 Hobos tape, “Tapes Skills Techniques” was a huge influence on the way I approached putting a mixtape together. And to this day, it still is. I hadn’t released any material yet back then, so I was geeked at the possibility of working on a mixtape with Dibbs.

We never got around to doing it. He started doing a bunch of out-of-town gigs and then before you knew it, he hooked up with Atmosphere. He was never in town much after that and I rarely saw him.

I recently thought about that concept we talked about, and wondered what it would have sounded like if we recorded it back then. Being as I don’t keep up on current music, this was a great chance for me to pull out some classic favorites of mine and give it the treatment.

This is what I think the first few minutes might have sounded like:



The “Mad Izm” part from the original “Tapes Skills Techniques” mixtape was one of my favorite parts ever, especially the use of the line, “I’m doing it for the love so now I’m doing what I want…” which is exactly how I was feeling when I started recording this.



I pulled out the Channel Live 12-inch and really listened to the song, the way I listen when I’m working on a CD. So many dope lines from them and from KRS.

For “Mad Izm” – I wanted to cut up the Black Moon record for the chorus, but in a different way, since I don’t really spark the izm. I ended up cutting “…all we do is spark…the type of ill shit to make the mind feel tight…”

Backwards, going into “Mad Izm” I used “I Gotcha Opin” and then preceded that with the remix. The vocal intro is DJ Red Alert, who was on the vocal intro for the original "Tapes Skills Techniques" mixtape.

Going forward from “Mad Izm” I used “Pain I Feel” by Blahzay Blahzay. I always wanted to cut that “pain I feel” phrase off of “Looking At The Front Door” but I didn’t want to follow with the Main Source song, as I’ve used it in some form on my previous mixtapes.

I gravitated towards the line “without skills you better check for your own survival…” and while recording the TV track (there is no instrumental for “Pain I Feel” on the 12-inch), the words “…you know who is it…” came out which was perfect for the next insert which was…

“The freshest DJ from the state of Ohio, I remember winning battles, cutting up Survival…” from Tha Alkaholiks’ “Let It Out.” Yes, I know that Dibbs used this line already for the first Hobo tape, but he also used “Mad Izm.” Who would even remember at this point?

After E-Swift's couplet, went into Annette Peacock’s “Survival” which was sampled by J-Live for “Braggin’ Writes” and then follow it with “Braggin’ Writes" cut up.

I always thought about ending a mixtape or a piece with J-Live’s “…but you best believe I’ll have the last laugh…”, so I did. But I still wanted to include lines from the flip side of “Mad Izm”, which was “Reprogram.” Nice lines in there, too. I found a spot for them over the Annette Peacock drums toward the end to wrap it up.

It took a little under a month for about four and a half minutes of recorded material. I have no idea how I ever finished 60 minute projects this way.





Why did I type all this out? I saw some article online recently on how to make a mixtape. It explained how to select your songs and mix them in the right tempo and then how to edit it using software. I always thought there was more to it. I guess I’ve just been wasting my time all along!

On another note, today is my born day, and I’ve never made a big deal about it (because it’s so close to Christmas), but I wanted to give this out as a little something for those of you who take the time to check out my blog. Thanks for reading!

John

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mostly the voice (or not)

I was at the post office yesterday and the clerk asked me, "Are you a DJ?" For a second I was slightly embarrassed, wondering where this random middle-aged woman had seen me DJing.

And then she said, "...because you really have a good radio voice..."

I laughed and said, "Oh no, I'm not a DJ or anything like that. I'm actually a chemist."



Believe it or not, I never really told people outside of my music circle anything about my involvement with music. Especially when it came to work, I kept DJing separate from my job. At my previous job at a corporate laboratory, some of my coworkers were so damn nosy about me, probably because I didn't tell them much about myself.

This was when I recording The Last Amateur, so I was staying up late into the night, working in the studio until about 2:30 in the morning. Did I mention I had to meet up to carpool at 6:30?



So I would understandably be tired and fall asleep in the car if it wasn't my turn to drive. Of course this led to a barrage of questions:

"What do you mean you go to bed at 2? Are you watching TV? What are you doing? Why do you go to bed so late? What do you DO?"

And then when I started bringing boxes home from work to mail off extra records I sold on eBay:

"What are all those boxes for? Oh, eBay, huh? What kind of stuff are you selling? Records? Do people still buy those? Do you have a lot of records? Oh, you collect them. You know, if you were a good DJ or something, you could start your own business. Wedding DJs make good money!"

After that comment, I felt that I had to say something. I mentioned that yes, I did DJ, but I didn't really go into detail.

So the questions from more coworkers the next couple of days:

"So I hear you're a DJ? What clubs do you DJ at? Are you DJing at a rage this weekend? (seriously, she called it a "rage" instead of rave! haha) Do you do weddings? My sister's turning 18 next month, are you available? Will you DJ the Christmas party? You make CDs? You should bring one in so we can listen to it..."

Those might be normal questions for a DJ, but I'm probably the furthest thing from a club/party DJ, which people just don't understand. And even though I've played out many times (usually showcases or performances with MCs), I've never even DJed a wedding. And I shuddered at the thought of my coworkers listening to Popular Fallacies.

I don't know what it is, but I feel awkward talking about DJing to people who aren't hip-hoppers. Especially now, since being a DJ is nothing special anymore.

Just a ramble of a post. My apologies for not posting any music yet. Still working out the kinks.

Oh, and like most people, I can't stand the sound of my own voice.

John

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Back in the lab

As you might have guessed, I haven't been recording anything in awhile. Since I have a regular job and a life outside of DJing (as well as friends with no involvement in music), the drive to work on music sometimes just isn't there anymore.

I went into the studio a few days ago just to scratch and started thinking about the first 1200 Hobos tape (which was a huge influence on me). Before you know it:



Just like old times. The pens and composition books came out, Post-It Notes, records all over the floor...

I hope to have something to share in the next few days.

John

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This is for the homie...




If you're reading this, you've probably already heard the news about my friend and crew-mate, Mr. Dibbs.

Dibbs was recently diagnosed with cirrhosis and needs assistance with his medical expenses.

If you can contribute or help out in any way, check here:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/PayItForward2MrDibbs/231083543618198

(for some reason, can't insert the link above correctly)

Stay strong, Brad!

John

Monday, October 3, 2011

We got too...too...too much pizza...



As you might be able to tell from some of my previous posts, I'm a huge pizza fan. I can put pizza away like nothing, I've actually gone through a whole large pie in one sitting. And on top of that, I tend to eat really fast.

I've recently become aware of some pizza challenges in the Cincinnati area. The first one I heard of was at a place called Ramundo's in Mt. Lookout. Their pizza challenge is a 28-inch two topping pizza, two people, 10 minutes. Mathematically speaking, if I could finish (with another person) 3 16-inch pizzas in 10 minutes, then I would give Ramundo's a try. After a pre-training session, I figured it would be impossible, at least for me.

Then one night, my wife and I found this pizza place in Sharonville:



And I saw this on the back of the menu:



My wife said, "I bet you could do that challenge, you eat so fast..." Almost everyone I asked to partner up with me was on some "Oh, I can only eat like two pieces of pizza" type-response.

A couple of weeks later, my brother Mikey was the only one agreed to step up to the challenge with me. I called ahead to get the order in and on my brother's suggestion, took a shot of Absolut before we headed to the Roc.

Here we go:



First slice, nice stuffed pie, tasty crust, lots of cheese, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham:



T-minus 28 minutes:



T-minus 20 minutes, believe it or not:


A customer came in to pick up an order heard us ask for the time left.
"Are you guys doing the challenge? Oh yeah? 20 minutes to go? (Looking at what's left on the table) You totally got it!"

T-minus 8 minutes. I hit the wall and had to stop. I had 3.5 pieces. Mikey had 2.1. I told the guy behind the counter to stop the timer. I was done.



The agony of defeat:



Could have showed you this pic and told you we beat the challenge (leftovers are boxed up out of frame), but the looks on our faces say otherwise.



If you're ever in the area, see if you can do any better.



John

PS> Tried to put some links in, but Blogger was acting funny when I tried to do it. Go to sharonvillepizza.com for more info on Roc-A-Fellas.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

ATL


I'd never been to Atlanta before, and that's where I've been for the past few days. My wife wanted to get away from Ohio for awhile and we ended up here.

We were signed up for the CNN tour our first day here. I was able to find some treats to feed my addiction in the Braves clubhouse store on the first floor:



I've always been a fan of MLB fitteds in different colorways, so grabbing these two was a no-brainer, especially off the clearance rack. Score!

Found the New Era Flagship store on Luckie Street and they had an amazing selection of fitteds - NHL, MiLB, the standard MLB ones you find at the mall, and their alternates...but when I saw this one, I had to cop it, even at full price, an Atlanta Black Crackers Negro League fitted:



The only other Negro League New Era I've seen is a Hilldale Giants, which was broken down by fellow blogger Howfresheats.

*old man alert* Don't know if I'm just being uptight, but should the staff have been playing explicit versions of songs while customers were in the store?
I was bombarded with "b*****s s**k my d**k" and "to all my n****s, my m*********n n****s" ad nauseum for the whole time I was in the store. Would you have been surprised?

Went to the Braves/Marlins game later that evening:





I'm so used to eating Subway when I go to a Reds game, but we weren't sure if we could bring food into Turner Field. This hit the spot, though:



Braves won 7-1, McCann and Uggla had a great game.



Next day, went around Little 5 Points district:



Whoooohoooo! Records!




Found some 12-inches I didn't have and Stetsasonic's first LP:



and then:



Whooohoooo! Pizza! Again!



2 pepperoni slices, one traditional, one Sicilian, both delicious:



As you might be able to tell, I've got a soft spot for pizza (insert big belly joke here).

Later that evening, wanted to check out something other than Applebee's or Wendy's for dinner so I hit up this spot:



Fried whiting, mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread...on some now you see me, now you don't:





And yes, I'm fully aware of the irony of washing this meal down with a diet Coke.

On the way back to Cincy, I had to stop here for lunch, as we don't have these in Ohio:






All in all, a nice break before getting back to the blue collar grind.

John

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rock The Bells



So I went to my first Rock the Bells show here in Cincy this past Wednesday. It was Mobb Deep (with Noyd) and Raekwon w/Ghostface (and Cappadonna).

The show opened up with Moxy Monster and his crew - I've performed alongside him a couple times in the past, I believe. It was good to see him on stage doing his thing. Shout out to Moxy for the shout out from the stage!

Alchemist came out on the decks right before the Infamous M-o-b-b and Noyd hit the stage.



With a mixture of bangers from The Infamous ("Survival of the Fittest", "Eye For An Eye", "Right Back At You"), and some other significant burners (Burn, Got It Twisted, Quiet Storm), Havoc and Prodigy set it off. Of course they ended the set with Shook Ones Pt.II, but I was hoping to hear "Party Over."





All in all, a great set by Prodigy and the H-A-V-O-C from the QBC, "...puttin' cowards where they supposed to be..."

Next up was Raekwon and Ghostface with Cappadonna - what a blur. Rae and Ghost ran through so many songs, I can't even remember. Rae came out to "Incarcerated Scarfaces" and he and Ghost went back and forth on a huge chunk of OBFCL.



In my opinion, Ghost totally stole the show. This was my first time seeing him live, and he just had so much energy, it was unbelievable.



All this being said, it was great to get out on a Wednesday night for a show like this.

Oh yeah, and after the show, Ghost threw a bottle of water to me from the stage. Thanks, Tony!



John

Saturday, August 27, 2011

3000

My video project from earlier this year finally hit 3000 views! Thanks to everyone who checked out my video and a bigger thank you to those who had some basic idea of what it meant.

I was a little bit surprised at some of the questions and comments people asked me about it:

"I don't get it."
"So...you were running to McDonald's for the McRib?"
"Yeah, I saw the video. It was cool, you just running around in the plant."
"Were you going to your gig in New York?"

And the worst comment/question I got:

"I saw your video, that was cool. Who did the scratching?"


I would have to guess that these people didn't bother to listen to the track while watching the video. I put the track together very similarly to my CDs, so I thought that the verbals I dropped and the phrases I cut up should have explained it a little bit.

The whole thing was open to interpretation, but the concept was loosely based on "100 Miles and Runnin'" and what I would do if faced with getting caught for any kind of mixtape/sample issues.

My boy Rubox had the best interpretation of it here.

John

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scribble Jam: In Memoriam

I was in the studio working on a track last night when I realized this (2nd weekend of August) was Scribble weekend - or used to be. Thinking back now, they all seem to run together.







Shout out to all the people I've met at Scribble over the years. Thank you for your support!

John