THE STORY BEHIND N.W.A.’S FIRST RECORD COVER

The Story Behind N.W.A.'s First Record Cover from Oliver Wang on Vimeo.

I originally researched most of this story in 2012 for Artbound but I just revisited it for the Leimert Park Book Fair and decided to record the update as a narrated slideshow. It tells a serendipitous set of stories behind where N.W.A. shot the cover photo for their first release and how it plugs into a longer history of music in Los Angeles.

UPDATE: I should have caught this before, but in the LA Weekly piece from 2010, Sir Jinx shares this important detail: “”All that writing on the picture? I did all that,” Jinx tells me. “Eric went and bought a bunch of neon spray cans. He knew I did graffiti, so I did as much as I could. If you look at the picture, and you look at me, my name is right next to me, you see ‘J-I-N.’ Everybody then kinda grabbed a spray can and the neon cans and wrote on the wall behind us.” (I wonder what the folks at Drum City thought about that! Or maybe the store had closed by then? Still more questions that need answering).

DEAR FRENCH FAM…

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I’m going to be out in Paris for about 8 days in early August. Any recommendations for either 1) places to eat (on a relative budget) and 2) record stores where my utter lack of French skills won’t get me thrown out?

PRESENTING “COOL”: A HIP HOP MIX FOR SUMMER

Cool (2015) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

I finished most of this last summer; it was meant to be a summery vibe mix but by the time I actually had the finishing touches applied…it was close to winter and I figured, heck, I’ll just wait until things thaw out again. I hadn’t made a purely hip-hop-centric mix in years and I don’t know why I don’t do this more. I had so much fun picking through songs and putting this together and more importantly, that aforementioned vibe is something I never get tired of listening to.

Many of the songs on here were from singles that have survived my slow purge of several thousand hip-hop 12″s and as such, I opted to go with songs that were on the path less taken, as much as possible. A few cuts on here – like The Nonce – aren’t obscure but for everyone of those, you have tracks like Paul Ray’s “More Emotion” or one of my all-time personal random favorites, “Seven Steps” by Novacaine or the unreleased “We Came Here” by the Beatnuts.

If you want a higher quality version, individually tracked, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up for whatever you care to donate.

Tracklisting:

    DJ O-Dub-Intro
    Kid Abstrakt/Revolutionary Rhythm-Jazz and Coffee Pt. 2
    Paul Ray-More Emotion
    Lord Finesse-Down For the Underground
    The Nonce-Mixtapes
    Mood-Hustle On the Side
    Maspyke-Spirit of ’92
    J-Treds-Praise Due
    Novacain-Seven Steps
    The Beatnuts-We Came Here
    InI-Grown Man Sport
    Encore-It’s Time
    45 King + Lati-Brainstorm
    45 King + Lati-Lati Rocks the Bells
    K-Otix-Metamorphasis
    Mos Def-Hip-Hop (Original Mix)
    Group Home feat. Brainsick Mob-East NY Theory
    JS-1 feat. O.C.-Beyond
    Lone Catalysts-Destiny
    Apani B. Fly-Abracadabra
    Hi-Fidel and DJ Crucial -Madeira II
    DJ Yoda feat. PUTS-Quid Control
    Brother Arthur-Whatcha Gonna Do?
    Ron Henderson & Choice Of Color-No Justice, No Peace
    Odd Squad-Here To Say
    Masta Ace-Nostalgia
    Lords of the Underground-Lord Jazz Remix
    The A-Team-G.B. In Your Life
    Public Enemy-Louder Than a Bomb JMJ Remix
    Jaz feat. Jay-Z-Just That Simple
    DJ Day-What Planet, What Station

VINCE STAPLES: FROM THE CITY WHERE THE SKINNY KEEP STRONG HEAT

Vince Staples: Norf Norf (Def Jam, 2015, Summertime ’06)

Speaking of summer music: the new Vince Staples is killing it. I don’t think any other hip-hop album is going to move me off To Pimp A Butterfly as my favorite of the year but Vince comes pretty damn close. Now pardon me, I gotta go get a Louis Burger.

365 Days of Soul, #173

THE INTERNET: CHILL MODE ENGAGED

The Internet feat. Janelle Monáe: Gabby (Columbia, 2015, Ego Death)1

I’m not doing the Summer Song series this summer (I’ll probably bring it back next year though) but in listening to this new album by The Internet (whom I really like), I’m reminded of how my favorite summer songs aren’t the big, brash anthems (though those are pretty good too) but the ones that capture the stillness of summer moments created by the right blend of light and heat. Or something like that. My point is, in those moments, the soundtrack should definitely be like what The Internet does at its best (esp. when they invite Janelle Monáe to hang with ’em).

365 Days of Soul, #172

  1. Some will note that in my continuing – albeit flagging – attempt to sustain “365 Days of Soul” (which, if I’m being honest, I’ll probably ultimately fail at), I’m now backdating posts to keep the timeline consistent. But of course, I’m actually writing this a good month past the actual post date. C’est la vie.