Whereupon I admit that 20 years ago (last Sunday), I said something stupid on the interwebs: “Rap journalist Oliver Wang denied that Illmatic was a classic twenty years ago. We all have our regrets.”

Thanks to Wax Poetics for letting me get this off my chest.

One thing to add (that didn’t fit into the theme of this piece): I wasn’t a journalist or critic in 1994…just a college senior who had access to a primitive version of the internet.

But alt.rap and later, were completely formative spaces for me to work out ideas (even wrong ones) about music. It never dawned on me, back then, that I could not just read The Source but also write for them (that wouldn’t happen until decade’s end) but having a space to practice-how-to-write was incredibly important and useful. I’m sure most of what I wrote back then would completely embarrass me now (and likewise, what I write now might embarrass me in 20 years hence) but I don’t regret the growing pains process or the community of people I was able to converse with back then.

ONE MORE THING: RapGenius wouldn’t exist without the work of Steve Juon and wouldn’t exist without the work of Blaine Amsterd and those are both people whose labors of love blossomed during the beta-era of the hip-hop internet.


About eight years ago, before I moved from the Bay to L.A., Cooper Kenward and a friend interviewed me for a high school project on hip-hop. I ran into Cooper again at the SS@10 party in S.F. the other month and he asked if he might interview me again, this time for a series of web videos about…record collecting. How could I say no? The video is above and interviewer Jonathan Shifflet has a small write-up to go with it.


Shades of Soul EP 2.8: The Cut Chemist Interview by Oliver Wang on Mixcloud

This one had been in the works for a minute but with his touring schedule, it was hard to fit in until now. Me and Cut Chemist sat down and chopped it up for nearly 90 minutes, talking about his life and career, plus the formative songs that go with both. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of his work, whether within groups like Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli or his solo productions, remixes and mixes. The occasion for this interview is actually pegged to his latest release, a compilation of mid-1980s experimental French music (yeah, you heard that right) called Funk Off. If you know anything about Cut and his love for cut-and-paste, you’ll understand why he’s releasing a comp of songs by a pair of obscure artists who were scratching on reel-to-reel and assembling pastiche songs with a hip-hop sensibilities far earlier than most.



Damn, I’m wack. I have a backlog of three months of of Shades of Soul radio shows I haven’t put on the site, how the %()!# did I let things get so bad?

Ok, let’s run this back, oldest to (near) newest.1

Episode 2.3 (March 2014): The Shades of Latin Show

Shades of Soul EP 2.3: Shades of Latin by Oliver Wang on Mixcloud

This was a worthy excuse to dip into my Latin collection for a change; I feel like they’ve been kind of lonely of late since I’ve been so soul focused but let no one get it twisted: still love my Latin jams. I opted to go with a wide spread of selections, spanning cumbia, salsa, Latin soul, Brazilian, etc.

Episode 2.4: The SS@10 Show
Already posted here.

Episode 2.5: Return of the Kitchen Sink

Shades of Soul, EP 2.5: Return of the Kitchen Sink by Oliver Wang on Mixcloud

Super-random (that’s the point!) including all sorts of private press songs, a couple of secret squirrel joints, some breaks, and a Mel Blanc bank 7″. It’s all about that second song, “I’m Ready to Get Down.” Oh my my my. (Shout out to Thes One for that one).

Episode 2.6: 3 Ft. High Friday

Shades of Soul, EP 2.6: 3 Ft. High Friday by Oliver Wang on Mixcloud

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the most important album I ever listened to (3 Ft. High and Rising), this show is dedicated to both rare remixes from the album as well as the original sample sources. Viva De La Soul!

Episode 2.7: Surviving the Rap Purge

Shades of Soul, EP 2.7: Surviving the Rap Purge by Oliver Wang on Mixcloud

A full hip-hop show for a change (taking it back to ’98 y’all!) by playing songs that have survived the purging of my hip-hop collection. This isn’t necessarily the best of what I kept but rather, it’s a selection of the random joints that, for whatever reason, speak to me enough to earn a spot in the library.

  1. I’m putting my most recent show into its own post for reasons that will become clear once you see it.


That’s what’s up.