Sometime around the release of “Swan Lake” but before the Melodica EP, Jeff “DJ Zen” Chang hit me with a version of the Radio Sole cassette filled with Solesides tunes. It was a mix of already out or soon-to-be-out songs by various members, as well as freestyles, and most tantalizing, at least for me, was the addition of a long, 5+ minute song that ended Side A called “Changes” that featured the Gift of Gab rhyming over a melancholy DJ Shadow beat.
I loved “Changes” and vibe-wise, it would have been perfect on Melodica but for whatever reason, it was left off both the U.S. and U.K. versions of the EP. The only place it can be found is on the Japanese CD issue; go figure.
I just noticed that Shadow quoted from it in his testimonial to Gab’s passing: “it’s not done ’til it’s done.” “Changes,” of course, is a song about transformation, about living life one step, one day at a time.
I got to meet and know many of the OG Solesides crew in those days but not Gab; I met him maybe once or twice and that was it. But I knew his and X’s music, marveling at their paired talents, captivated by their ideas, lyrical, musical, spiritual and otherwise. I began posting music reviews on my personal website in the late ‘90s and when I needed a clever name for them, I went with Soul Sides, an obvious homage to Solesides. Partly, their name just sounded really cool to me but it was also because I vibe with their ethos and aesthetic. This is a ramble without a point except to say that all these years later, I remain so thankful to the vision of the original Solesides collective, especially Blackalicious, especially Gab. Peace be with you.