THE TECHNIQUE OF RECORD BOXING

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We may be deep in a much ballyhooed vinyl revival but surprisingly, record cases haven’t seemed to have kept pace. With all these folks buying records again from their local record store Whole Foods, you would think there’d be more variety in boxes/cases available. RSD has nudged this along incrementally, especially with prestige releases that tout special packaging but compare the variety of vintage cases you might find on eBay or Etsy vs. new cases being manufactured now and you feel like there’s a missed opportunity.

The last time I saw […]

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H-TOWN BOOGIE

Heyhipster

Supergrass: Alright
From I Should Coco (Parlophone, 1995)

Fat Pat: Tops Drop
From Ghetto Dreams (Wreckshop, 1998)

Systema Solar: Mi Kolombia
From S/T (Intermundos, 2010)

Ocote Soul Sounds and Adrian Quesada: Tu Fin, Mi Comienzo
From 7″ (Aire Sol, 2013). Also on Coconut Rock

Penny & The Quarters: You and Me (Prince of Ballard remix)
Originally from 7″ (Numero Group, 2011)

Bonus: Icona Pop: I Love It
From This Is… (Atlantic, 2013)

I was recently in Houston and Galveston to DJ a wedding (what up […]

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THE SIDEBAR #24: MICHAEL PIGGOTT OF MASSTROPICAS

Michael Piggott runs Masstropicas, dedicated to the sounds and styles of Peruvian cumbia. He first came to my attention back when his label put out the Ranil’s Jungle Party in 2010, and we’ve been chatting off and on since then. My readers know that I’m a big fan of the surf-y style of Peruvian cumbia and Piggott has gone literally deep into the cities of the Peruvian Amazon to find artists to interview and record. His latest is a reissue of the Grupo 2000 album as well as a very cool Cantos Icaros cassette […]

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THE SIDEBAR 18: QUANTIC

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This morning, Will Holland, aka Quantic, dropped by the studio and I couldn’t be more pleased since I’ve been a massive fan of his work for years and though we’ve corresponded via interweb and have some mutual friends, this is the first time I’ve met him in person.

Quantic has had a remarkably prolific and diverse career over the last decade, all now captured in the new 32-song double-CD anthology, Best of Quantic. With that in mind, I asked Will about his history as a producer, beginning in his early years, recording […]

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SIDEBAR #12: PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN CROSS/B+

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Even if you’ve never seen Brian Cross aka B+ in person, you’ve definitely seen his photography. Starting in the early 1990s, B+ has become one of the premier music photographers of the past 20 years, especially (but hardly exclusively) in the hip-hop community.

B+ is also one-half of the L.A.-based production outfit, Mochilla, who’ve put out the renown Keepintime, Brasilintime and Timeless series. And, he’s author of one of the best books ever written about hip-hop in L.A., It’s Not About a Salary.1 Suffice to say, of all the folks I’ve met […]

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QUANTIC: HIP HOP EN CUMBIA EP

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Quantic Y Su Conjunto Los Miticos Del Ritmo: Get UR Freak On
They Reminisce Over You
From Hip Hop En Cumbia EP (Tru Thoughts 2011)

Been waiting for this one to come out for months now – Quantic and company take on a few hip-hop classics and run it through the cumbia-treatment. Quantic first started this a couple of years back with his “Cumbia De Dilla” and then followed that last year with “Dre En Cumbia.” Here’s the entire tracklisting:

A1. Step Into A World (Rapture’s Delight)
A2. Dre […]

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DEEP COVERS: 4 OF 4, MACHUCA CUMBIA

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Machuca Cumbia: Cumbia Alivianada
Cumbia De Los Bee Gees
From 7″ (Aries, 1979)

I first heard “Cumbia Alivianada” (aka “Staying Alive”) when B+ came to spin with me and it’s taken me two years to finally cop it on 7″ (I do love singles but I wouldn’t have minded getting the LP just for that great cover art but the 7″ does have the two Bee Gees joints on it). Not the best cumbia conversion I can imagine; it’s surprisingly flat rhythmically but still a fun, fun cut and one […]

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GUEST SET: MELTING POT 11/14/10

I sat in for Michael Barnes on KPFK’s Melting Pot today. Included a few tracks I’ve had up here of late but a lot you haven’t heard from me yet. Enjoy!

The Melting Pot, 11-14-10

Quantic: Cumbia De Dilla
The East St. Louis Gospelettes: Have Mercy On Me
Kanye West: Devil in a New Dress
The Whatnauts: I’ll Erase the Pain
Golden Harmonettes: I Do Love You
Syl Johnson: Try Me (LP Version)
Syl Johnson: All I Need Is Someone Like You
Syl Johnson: Soul Heaven (All from The Complete […]

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CUMBIA!



Are we in the midst of a cumbia renaissance? No doubt, folks who’ve been up on this style for years will scoff at the idea that cumbia is suddenly “hot” when it was never “cold” to begin with but at least from my (limited) vantage point, it certainly seems as if there’s been a recent surge in cumbia-related anthologies and compilations being pitched to the same crowds who previously were getting upped on everything from Ethiopian jazz to Panamanian boogaloo.

Yes, cumbia has gone hip(ster) but hey, I’m just as much part of that wave as anyone else and frankly, I’m all for cumbia getting shine no matter what the circumstances.

My first exposure to the magic of cumbia came during one of our many Boogaloo! nights at the Short Stop; it was probably Rani D of Soul in the Park guest-DJing and as he threw in a few cumbia joints in the mix, you could see the dancers viscerally react to it; it’s like you threw some “get hype” switch in their heads.

There’s something marvelously simple about a cumbia rhythm and notice I said “simple” and not “simplistic.” The most distinctive attribute about a cumbia song – no matter old or new or what country it emerges from – is that telltale “two step” rhythm. Listen to a cumbia beat and imagine your head was a metronome and sure enough, you can dip-dip, dip-dip, dip-dip to that rhythm like it was the most natural thing in the world. That plays a huge role in making cumbia such an irresistible force on the dance floor.

It also, I imagine, explains why it’s been such a portable rhythm, emerging out of the coastal regions of Colombia and then traveling across South, Central and North America. That two-step rhythm meshes well with many other music styles, most notably polka, especially once Colombian musicians began to incorporate the accordion into their repertoire.

If you’re a cumbia noob (like me), then you might as well begin with the new Beginner’s Guide to Cumbia, put together by our buddy DJ Bongohead. It’s a 3-CD comp that serves as a decent primer to cumbia styles of the past, present and future. I do wish the liner notes had been more comprehensive – what’s there certainly offers some important historical sweep but compared to the dozens of pages found for the other comps I discuss here, I would have thought a Beginner’s Guide would be more in-depth. What’s notable is that one of other comps I’m writing about, The Afrosound of Colombia is also curated by Bongohead and that’s got a frickin’ encyclopedia of knowledge in there so I’m left to assume that The Beginner’s Guide to Cumbia simply suffered from a limited production budget (the 3-CD comp only costs $14; do the math). In any case, here’s a sampling of various tunes:

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