SOUL SIDES VOL 1 ON SPOTIFY

I didn’t realize this until a friend pointed it out but my longtime out of print compilation, Soul Sides Vol. 1, is on Spotify:

All things considered, I’m still very proud of the comp and more to the point: I think it holds up in terms of the selections. I realize that’s self-serving for me to say but in contrast, I don’t feel like Vol. 2 aged nearly as well. If I had a do-over for that volume, I’d probably change most of the songs or perhaps abandon the covers angle altogether. Vol. 1 though still feels like both a snapshot of my tastes at the time I put it together but most of the selections also feel timeless to me. Anyways, if this is your first or 30th time listening, hope you enjoy!

I USED TO MAKE…MIXTAPES

R 304952 1370166749 6460 jpeg

Back around 1994, I got a Tascam 4-track recorder and started to make mixtapes. At a later point, I upgraded to a digital multitrack (Roland SP-808) but the sensibility was the same on all the tapes I made from 1994 through 2001: pick a selection of indie and major label singles and try to creatively mix them together.

It finally took until today but I now have all of them online via my Mixcloud account. Here’s a mini-history:

These were all the first ones, when I was both learning how to master the Tascam plus playing with format ideas. Without trying to pat myself on my back…I actually was surprised how well some of these held up. They’re not best-of-class or anything but I still enjoy listening to them and while I might quibble with some song selections now, I liked the ideas I was working with back then, especially in finding subtle ways to make use of the multitrack dimension. Of the batch, Vol. 1 and 2 are my sentimental favorites, just because I was so new to the whole thing.

These marked a transition towards more professionally manufactured mixtapes rather than dubbing them at home, by hand (which is how I used to do them). My design skills were…not memorable. Musically too, I feel like I hit a real stride from Vol. 6 and onward in terms of still liking the vast majority of what I put on there. 9/10 would do again. Also, I’m eternally proud that Head Warmers made the LP art for DJ Shadow’s Private Press.

I’m not 100% certain but I think these two marked the point at which I had upgraded from the analog Tascam to the digital Roland SP-808. There isn’t a huge difference that most would notice (though I knew because punching in was less obvious with the Roland). Double Flip was particularly ambitious: a two-cassette mix featuring about two hours of music in total. I think my favorite part of that was figuring out the intros to each of the four sides. Auditory Assault marked my transition away from cassettes towards CDs.

There was supposed to be a Vol. 10, an anniversary-style mixtape that would have spanned the ’90s but alas, I was never able to get to that (maybe one daaaaaay).1

  1. Note: what I have above are only those that were part of the O’s Dubs series. I had other mixtapes – Incognitos for example – that I didn’t include in this post.

O’S DUB VOL 4 (1996)

Still digging’ in the tapes…

Side-A: 4×4 Trackin

the professor and primo intro
Group Home: Back to the Wall
crooklyn coolin’
Pharcyde: Y?
back on sugar hill
Erick Sermon w/ Roslyn Noble and Keith Murray: Tell ‘Em
Show and A.G.: Time For… (original mix)
E.C.: Mating Ritual (WICKED)
Q Ball and Curt Cazal: My Kinda Moves (VZQ)
3 Steps From Nowhere: Pass It On (Listen to the Natives remix)
Real Live: Real Live Sh*t
Sunz of Man: No Love Without Hate
Omniscence: Amazin’ (Keepin’ the Faith remix)
sweet as death
KGB: Bless Ya Life (Grim mix)
no cents
Mobb Deep: Temperature’s Rising (original mix)
KRS-One w/ Channel Live: Free Mumia
Ten Thieves: Black Reign
Mad Skillz w/ the Large Professor and Q-Tip: Extra Abstract
Skillz
Kool Keith: Wearing Make Up
wreck on
Hobo Junction: Shot Callin’ (SOUTH PAW)
this sh*t here
All City: Metro Theme

Side B: Points West

home grown m.j. intro
Key Kool & DJ Rhettmatic: Reconcentrated…from Kozmonautz
Chino XL and Ras Kass: Riot…from his upcoming release
Ras Kass and Coolio: Drama…from Soul on Ice (PRIORITY)
Latief and Lyrx Born: Latyrx…from The Wreckoning (SOLESIDES)
Gift of Gab: Paragraph President ’91…from the Radio Sole Vol I
Abstract Rude live on 90.7 Berkeley
The Visionaries: Danu, LMNO, Lord Zen and Key Kool live on 90.7
Berkeley
Eclipse: …from his demo
Mystik Journeymen: Rise Up…from Children of the Night
Aceyalone: How High I Am…unreleased
Peanut Butter Wolf-Chronicles…from Return of the DJ
the o-d.u.b. outro

O’S DUB VOL. 2 + THE KILLER B’S (1994)

The #digginginthetapes adventures continue. Since I already have Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 up, why not Vol. 2 too? Of the three, I spent the least effort on pitching this one around so even people who’ve heard my 1 or 2 probably haven’t heard this before.

On the other side of the tape, I created an early attempt at a “semi-obscure hip-hop b-sides and remixes” mix that, a few years later, would take fuller form as Incognitos Vol 1. (four songs are included on both).

O’S DUBS VOL. 3 (1995)

I recently picked up one of these USB cassette players because I wanted a cheap solution to digitizing my old tapes (let’s just say this thing is cheap in all senses of the term). One of the first things I digitized with it was my third mixtape, made back in *gulp* 1995.1 This was perhaps my most “experimental” mixtape insofar as many of the songs were dubbed onto here from tape advances and demos and I also included some parts from the infamous KMEL Hiero vs. Hobo battle plus opened with a freestyle the Roots delivered on my old KALX radio show in 1994 (previously shared here).

  1. For real, it doesn’t feel like I made it 21 years ago. F___, I’m old.

1994 REWIND

Screen Shot 2016 08 28 at 1 51 59 PM

I decided, over the weekend, to open a time capsule to my 20s: my boxes of cassette tapes, most of which I recorded/collected over the course of the 1990s. I hadn’t bothered to touch any of these in at least six, possibly ten years, since I boxed them up to move down from the Bay Area in 2006.

It was a little overwhelming but I’m glad I held onto all this even if the idea of trying to sort through all of it fills me with a tiny bit of regret. I did, immediately, try to hunt down what I was looking for: my very first mixtape, aka O’s Dub Vol 1, recorded on a Tascam 424 Portastudio, back in 1994.1 All praise due to DJ Ajax whose Jax Trax Vol 1 tape was my introduction to multitrack mixing and the main reason I went to hunt down that Tascam.

Sadly, I also realized that I should have followed Nas’s advice and avoided using my old cassette deck because that shit eats tape. But before I managed to mangle O’s Dub Vol 3 (who’s got some splicing tape for me?), I did pull off a few extra joints for you to peep.

The Roots: Live on KALX (1994)

Maybe I’ve told this story before but back in ’94, I had a show on KALX that began at noon on Sundays. The Sunday Morning Show was a long-standing hip-hop show at the station and on this morning, The Roots were supposed to shoot through – they had just played their first gig in San Francisco one or two nights before – but they were running late and so I accidentally inherited them on my show instead. I had been to that show at Bimbo’s the night before and it still ranks as one of my top 3 live shows ever. As you might imagine, I was hyped to have The Roots on as a guest, especially since Rahzel and Black Thought were kind enough to hit me with a freestyle, live on air, plus tape a drop for me.

Common: I Used to Love Her (O’s Badspinbad Mix)

One of the first things I tried to learn how to do with multitrack mixing was to create a “beat suite” remix of Nas’s “It Ain’t Hard to Tell.” It’s on O’s Dub Vol. 1 above, if you scroll to around 4:17. All said, I thought it turned out pretty decent and that gave me confidence to try it again on a later mixtape by thematically remixing Common’s “I Used to Love Her.” I can’t remember if I had already heard DJ Spinbad’s insane-o remix of KRS-One’s “Hip-Hop vs. Rap” at that point but I have to imagine that was the inspiration.

I, however, am no Spinbad. The Nas remix worked ok because it was relatively simple but with the Common remix, I tried to up my game and instead, it came off rather sloppy and, in hindsight, far less ambitious than what I could have done with a 4-track. Whatever though.

Nas: It Ain’t Hard To Tell (O’s Rugged Mix)

The reason I even went looking for my tapes was because, on the spur of the moment the other day, I decided to try doing another beat-suite remix of the same song, but this time, using Reaper and a bunch of favorite funk 45s. Straight up: this doesn’t sound lined up properly at times. I have nil experience with producing so even something as using software to create a loop and tempo map it is all new for me. I might make another run at fixing the small problems here but as this is what launched me down memory lane to begin with, I figured I’d share it regardless of its current state of imperfection.

  1. I was trying to remember when I bought the thing and in the course of looking through my email archives, I remembered that it was DJ Vlad (yeah, that one) who suggested I look for the 424 specifically. I can’t recall how Vlad and I crossed paths back then but I do remember he was the first guy to hep me to the Idris Muhammed LP with “Loran’s Dance.”

PRESENTING “COOL”: A HIP HOP MIX FOR SUMMER

Cool (2015) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

I finished most of this last summer; it was meant to be a summery vibe mix but by the time I actually had the finishing touches applied…it was close to winter and I figured, heck, I’ll just wait until things thaw out again. I hadn’t made a purely hip-hop-centric mix in years and I don’t know why I don’t do this more. I had so much fun picking through songs and putting this together and more importantly, that aforementioned vibe is something I never get tired of listening to.

Many of the songs on here were from singles that have survived my slow purge of several thousand hip-hop 12″s and as such, I opted to go with songs that were on the path less taken, as much as possible. A few cuts on here – like The Nonce – aren’t obscure but for everyone of those, you have tracks like Paul Ray’s “More Emotion” or one of my all-time personal random favorites, “Seven Steps” by Novacaine or the unreleased “We Came Here” by the Beatnuts.

If you want a higher quality version, individually tracked, drop me a line and I’ll hook you up for whatever you care to donate.

Tracklisting:

    DJ O-Dub-Intro
    Kid Abstrakt/Revolutionary Rhythm-Jazz and Coffee Pt. 2
    Paul Ray-More Emotion
    Lord Finesse-Down For the Underground
    The Nonce-Mixtapes
    Mood-Hustle On the Side
    Maspyke-Spirit of ’92
    J-Treds-Praise Due
    Novacain-Seven Steps
    The Beatnuts-We Came Here
    InI-Grown Man Sport
    Encore-It’s Time
    45 King + Lati-Brainstorm
    45 King + Lati-Lati Rocks the Bells
    K-Otix-Metamorphasis
    Mos Def-Hip-Hop (Original Mix)
    Group Home feat. Brainsick Mob-East NY Theory
    JS-1 feat. O.C.-Beyond
    Lone Catalysts-Destiny
    Apani B. Fly-Abracadabra
    Hi-Fidel and DJ Crucial -Madeira II
    DJ Yoda feat. PUTS-Quid Control
    Brother Arthur-Whatcha Gonna Do?
    Ron Henderson & Choice Of Color-No Justice, No Peace
    Odd Squad-Here To Say
    Masta Ace-Nostalgia
    Lords of the Underground-Lord Jazz Remix
    The A-Team-G.B. In Your Life
    Public Enemy-Louder Than a Bomb JMJ Remix
    Jaz feat. Jay-Z-Just That Simple
    DJ Day-What Planet, What Station

LET IT WHIRL

Front cover

Let It Whirl is the first real cross-genre “party mix” I’ve worked on in (yikes) over 10 years. I had gobs of fun putting this together, especially since I consciously drew on certain songs/segues that I’ve chanced upon over the years, spinning out for dance floors. In case you care, I discuss the process in footnote #1

Let It Whirl (2014) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

A high-quality mix can be purchased from East Bay Digital for $9.99

As I mentioned recently, I’ve made a few of my former mixtape free to listen to and eventually, this mix will join those ranks but for now, your purchase helps support this site. Thanks!


Liner Notes:

Continue reading LET IT WHIRL

  1. For my mixes, I always start with a massive master list of potential songs and then gradually whittle it down to about 130% of what I’ll end up using. Then it comes down to play with segues and finding songs that either sonically or thematically seem to go together. This is probably my single most favorite part of the experience (besides listening to the final product)…experimenting with segues and hoping for unexpected outcomes. For the tracking and effects, I use the open-source multitrack program Reaper, which I couldn’t recommend more highly (though it does have a bit of a learning curve). I asked my friend DJ Phatrick to handle the final mixdown since he has far more engineering experience than I do – and after all these years, I feel like I never get the levels right on my own.

MUSIC DELUGE

Music

This past summer, I gave myself a goal to finally get back to making some new mixes. In particular, I wanted to create a new hip-hop mix and a multi-genre party mix. I loved making these “back in the day” which loosely translates into “before I was a dad and had a full-time job.” In a few days, I’m going to make good on half that promise by releasing Let It Whirl, the party mix (and the hip-hop mix will follow in a few weeks after).

To make room for these new mixes, especially since I’m selling them through my digital download store, I decided to “retire” two mixes I used to sell and make them available on Mixcloud.1

Groove Thing and Adventures in Rhythm were created in 2002 and 2003 respectively and Let It Whirl will stand proudly in their lineage.

DJ O-Dub: A Groove Thing (2002) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

DJ O-Dub: Adventures in Rhythm (2003) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

Also, I recently updated the Sidebar podcast with three “best of Shades of Soul” shows, including the popular “Start of Summer” and “Donny Hathaway Special” shows.

  1. People often ask me about downloading those mixes and all I can say is *cough cough* Google is your friend.

A SIP OF LEMONADE

“Lemonade” (preview for a mix-in-progress) by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud

It’s a little shocking to me but I haven’t released a full-fledged hip-hop mixtape since Auditory Assault and that came out in 2001. (I guess parenthood and a full-time job slows down the productivity on other fronts).

This summer, I made it a point to start working on mixes again. The first mix (and I’ll tease it later) is a party mix in the vein of Groove Thing and Adventures in Rhythm. The second is what I tease above, working title “Lemonade.” There’s a longer backstory to the specific songs that went into the mix, connected to “the purge” that began three years ago, but I’ll explain all that once I drop the full mix.