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