You’d think that at this point, I would have written something about Melodica given that, you know, my site is named after the Solesides record label that put out Blackalicious’s EP back in 1994. Heck, my first non-hip-hop mix-CD was dedicated to the sample sources for the EP and other Solesides releases. So yeah: this post is overdue.

Melodica just got reissued which means for those who slept (or perhaps weren’t born yet), you get to have the pleasure of hearing songs like “Swan Lake” for the first time. I’m genuinely envious.

The reissue includes one of group’s most obscure songs, “Changes.” I first heard it on a mixtape (as in “on cassette”) that Solesides “Head Nodda” (seriously, that was on his business card) Jeff “DJ Zen” Chang hit me off with circa ’94. On the tape was Melodica and a slew of other Solesides-related songs and freestyles and ending Side A was this long, seven minute marvel that simply said, “DJ Shadow and Gift of Gab: Changes.”

Had it been left on the EP (and now that I think about it, I’m not clear why it didn’t make it onto the EP originally), it would have easily been my #1 or 2 song on there. Such a reflective and atmospheric tune…emo-rap of a sorts but long before that was a genre. And I love how patiently it unfolds and wanders, much like “A 40 Oz. for Breakfast,” another favorite from the EP.

For years, I thought it was an unreleased track which, in a sense it was. A version of “Changes” did appear on Melodica, but only if you copped the Japanese issue of the EP. Not easy to come by; took me literally years to finally see a copy go up online. However, until now, I never realized that this version of “Changes” was actually shorter than the version I knew from that dub tape. I’m not sure what the actual differences are – I don’t think the official version is missing any verses; it’s probably just edited to be slightly less sprawling.

I actually included part of the dub tape version of “Changes” on my third mixtape back in 1995.1 But in honor of the EP’s reissue, here’s that full-length version, straight off cassette tape. With thanks, eternally, to DJ Zen.

DJ Shadow and Gift of Gab: Changes (Long Version)

By the way, this reissue should also get y’all excited for this:

DJ Shadow’s Total Breakdown: Hidden Transmissions from the MPC Era, 1992-1996, coming later this summer.

  1. Holy shit, was that a long time ago.