Ill rhyme small

I’m sympathetic to the fact that record labels were under pressure to create clean edits of rap songs, especially in the 1990s. It may seem quaint now to read about C. Dolores Tucker or the Parents Music Resource Center in an era where any kid can listen to songs on YouTube and experience 1000x the profanity…and that’s just in the comments (*rimshot*). Nonetheless, creating radio edits was good business, a nod to DJs to let them know that it’d be safe to play this new single without the FCC getting on their ass.

However, clean edits are an art. Some artists simply recorded two different versions of their lyrics (*cough cough* “My Hitta” ain’t fooling no one) but usually, it was up to someone at the label (read: probably an intern) to do a quick edit using the existing studio tapes. I always thought that Gang Starr did it up nice, with Premier scratching over where the profanity would have been. In other cases, an engineer simply dropped the lyrics out while the beat continued to play on. That wasn’t so bad if you only had a few words to deal with but if you’ve ever heard KDAY’s radio edit of “Ain’t No Fun,” the end effect is like masturbating with your elbows; it’s possible, it’s just not that enjoyable.

But until today, I’m not sure I ever heard a radio edit done as sloppily as this one:

Civilized Savages: Ill Rhyme Skill (original clean edit)
From 12″ (Armageddon, 1994)

I mean…you can tell the label cut some serious by the fact that no one thought to check their label design to avoiding putting key text over where the spindle hole is supposed to go. It makes the b-side title confusing…I thought it was “New Rule Flava” for the longest. It’s not surprising then that the clean edit would be similarly wack. What they did was clip out any profanity but without an instrumental bed. Given that this was 1994, I’m assuming someone had a razor and was literally splicing tape to make this edit. I originally thought that my speakers were going out until I realized what was going on.

Now…I like this song and would have very much preferred the option to have a dirty version that didn’t sound like _____ so I loaded it into my multitrack editor and came up with what I think is a pretty good edit-of-the-edit.

Civilized Savages: Ill Rhyme Skill (edit of the clean edit)
From 12″ (Armageddon, 1994)

I used the 4 bar intro of the song to fill in the spaces where sound was originally cut out and from what I can hear, it works rather organically and likely would have been similar to what a proper radio edit would have done to begin with. Did I really need to spend an hour or so working on this? No…but it was bugging me so much, I just had to do something about it. Enjoy.

Edit: I didn’t realize that Chopped Herring reissued this EP in 2009including the original dirty version.


Shades of Soul EP 2.13: Summer Jams feat. Miles Tackett by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

For my latest Shades of Soul (summer) episode, I invited Miles Tackett (FB/Twitter) to join. Folks know him best as the founder of Breakestra and for the very long-running weekly Funky Sole party. He’s got a new album out: Fool Who Wonders and I invited him in to talk about the album, his career and a few of his favorite summer jams.


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A random post that’s (mostly) not music related but I was thinking about the things that I rely on most at any given time of the day and I narrowed it down to four items I literally don’t leave home without.

•iPhone 5S. ‘Nuff said. I don’t rotate the music enough but I keep a playlist that’s strictly “new arrivals + favorites” that ends up being very handy when I come up with my “year end” posts.

Quirky Wrapster. Because those %)!!)( iPhone earbuds always get tangled in my pocket otherwise).

Big Skinny card holder wallet. I’m strictly a “front pocket wallet” kind of guy and these are fantastic for that purpose.

•Prescription sunglasses (I get mine from It’s terribly cliche for someone in L.A. I suppose but I spend so much time either in the car or on my bike, shades are essential.


“Pistolgrip Pump” is one of my favorite L.A. hip-hop songs and now Eric Ducker has written a thorough history of how the song came to be (and truly, the many ways in which it could have NOT come to be). Great music journalism at work here.

(Also a sobering reminder of how the song ended up defining Volume 10′s style as something that was actually quite different from what it actually was. Listen to practically anything else on the album and his Good Life bonafides are instantly obvious).


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One main “summer project” has been to finish purging my collection. I recently got to the box that held most of my soul/funk/jazz/Latin compilations and I was surprised at how few of them I felt the urge to keep.

Back when I had a weekly radio show on KALX FM (1994-2004), these kinds of comps served multiple purposes. First and foremost, they helped fill those 3 hours of airtime every week; you figure your average album may only have 2-3 cuts you’d want to play but almost by nature, a well-curated comp is meant to be chock-full of awesome tracks.

But even more importantly, comps helped serve an important role in the era before YouTube/Wikipedia/et. al. for someone to learn about styles/artists/labels, etc. The best curated of them came with liner notes that provided history and context. It’s easy to take for granted how we’re able to access that same information instantaneously now but in the ’90s, comps were a crucial “analog” source for that kind of knowledge dissemination. I genuinely liked buying comps for all those reasons; they were like little gift packs of interesting music that I also got utility out of as a DJ.

However, in 2014 though, I realize that I don’t really need them anymore…not because they’ve become outdated as a concept. It’s because these comps – the ones I’ve already owned – have fulfilled their purpose to help educate me. This isn’t to brag (much) but over the years, I used the knowledge from them to track down the original recordings I wanted most, thus partially negating their utilitarian purpose. Besides: the goal this summer is to winnow, winnow, winnow. All of which is to say, I’ve been steadily listing them for sale in case anyone else out there feels like they can benefit from them in the same ways I once did. They’re all in great condition – I’ve never been one to ever abuse my vinyl so most of these are barely played. If anyone’s interested in making a bulk order, just contact me directly and I’m happy to work out a deal.