Friday, February 20, 2015

Never seen before, never heard before




I was in the studio last night looking through some unfinished material, was going to work on a track called "3 Days" but found this piece at the very beginning before everything:



I have no idea what this was for, I've used KRS One's "I'm Still #1" before, but not like this.  Figured I'd upload it and share it.

John


Monday, February 16, 2015

Cut the record...


This is probably the beginning of a series of outtakes/ideas/interludes that never made it onto any of my CDs.  The chance of me releasing another full-length CD is very slim, but I still would like to share some of this material.

A few things came together for this track.  The movie The Breakfast Club, Two Kings in a Cipher's "For the Brothers Who Ain't Here" video, and just some of my personal experiences, past and present.

The Breakfast Club. 
I saw this movie sometime in junior high, preferring to watch this John Hughes movie over Sixteen Candles (Long Duk Dong comments I heard in school made me really not want to see what that character was about...!).  Because of my nerdish tendencies growing up, I slightly identified with Anthony Michael Hall’s character of Brian, but the version of me would be Filipino, less talkative, with cooler sneakers.  But it was the exchanges between Judd Nelson’s and Emilio Estevez’s characters that I remembered, explained later in this post (at 1:20):


Two Kings in a Cipher. 
While I was in college, I didn’t have cable, but watched a hip- hop video show called Pump It Up that came on late Friday nights.  I caught the video “For the Brothers Who Ain’t Here.”  While parts of the song did not speak to me directly, I dug the funky beat, and wished that DOP had actually busted rhymes over the Meters - sampled track.  When he said “I could scream til my voice disappears, think until my head bursts…”  I remembered that because it described the frustration within myself at the time.  Stressed out over classes and grades, being broke, working my crappy deli job – nothing uncommon for most college students (at 2:40).


At this time, I wasn't even a Hobo and I hadn’t even met Dibbs yet, so this was one of those small musical verbal moments that kind of stayed in my head.

Personal experiences.
As a Filipino kid growing up in the '80s, it wasn't always easy for me.  I was constantly the object of racial verbal abuse by classmates, even by other Asian classmates.  It never made sense to me to have "shing shong" and "eggroll" type comments directed towards me, a Filipino kid who was born in Cincinnati and didn't speak another language except English.  (This subject could be another entire blog post by itself.)



This was a daily thing.  Back then, I wished to just kind of blend in and not attract attention to myself.

Today, I have a 9 to 5 in a laboratory, so a majority of the time I’m surrounded by people with no connection to hip hop (or any of my other interests, for that matter).  To some of my coworkers, I’m involved in a genre that’s “not music” and does nothing but “advocate(s) violence and selling crack.” 

So I don't talk too much at work, which makes me seem boring, I guess.  The thing is, I’ve had people at work either straight up ignore me or even walk away from me while standing in front of them asking them a question.  It happens a lot, but the one thing I remember is my hand catching on fire due to a chemical reaction in a test tube I was holding.  There was a violent reaction in the test tube, and small fireballs spat out and landed on my gloved hand.  I yelled, “OH SHIT!” really loud and ran to the fume hood to get the test tube out of my hand and put the fire out.  My coworkers just looked up for a second and went back to their paperwork. 

So I guess my wish of becoming somewhat invisible came true! 

And all these things became this:



This is pretty much how most sections of my past work were put together.

Thanks for reading!

John




Monday, February 2, 2015

Trying to find a balance



 I promised that I’d be getting back to posting tracks and breakdowns, but some things last week got in the way:  Trying to locate a bat in the adjacent room to the studio, a recording mistake that I attempted to fix via Cool Edit Pro (which I gave up trying to figure out and ended up re-recording everything), and just everyday life in general. 


The only goal I ever had music-wise was putting out material that was well received and respected.  I feel that I accomplished that – one good review was always enough to make my effort seem worth it.

Now, years after my last video project and even longer after my last full-length mixtape, and what seems like eons since my last battle, I now realize how much I miss it.  When I was more active, I led the “double-life” – long nights in the basement studio working into the early mornings or late weeknight gigs while balancing a full-time job.  But it was that double life and working on music that gave me balance.




For the past few years, I’ve been working at my normal job, considering myself a “semi-retired” turntablist.  But being surrounded 5 days a week by people who share none of your interests is difficult.  The need to be heard through my apparently dope-but-completely-unmarketable skills has never been stronger.

Thanks for reading this rambling post; I felt I had to get this off my chest.  Maybe this explains why I even started doing all of this in the first place.

Track should be finished and posted with a breakdown soon.

John