“There’s so much to love about Tim Maia’s version of this song: His crackling falsetto navigating the old organs, the bass groove, and the horns,” says twenty-seven-year-old Canadian producer, multi-instrumentalist, and singer Patrick Wade, who goes by the stage name Dead Horse Beats. “I remember the first thing that struck me about it was the almost childlike heartache in the lyric ‘I wonder why she left me’ repeated over and over again. I like to do covers fairly regularly as a way of figuring out songs and trying to learn their wisdom. Tim Maia was wise af.”
Over six years and releases with Montreal’s Raw Records, London’s Black Butter Records, and New York City’s Bastard Jazz Recordings, Wade’s output of thoughtful, spacey grooves includes three singles, two EPs, six full-length LPs, and countless co-productions, collaborations, and remixes.
Bastard Jazz is releasing his new album later this year, but you can cop this cover now.
The latest release from can’t-miss Chicago jazz-evangelist record label International Anthem has been described as what “Art Ensemble of Chicago would have sounded like if asked to write a ‘hit.’ ” While Lester Bowie might have pointed out that his Brass Fantasy group explored just that avant-jazz-meets-pop sensibility, Bottle Tree, a new collaboration conjured by singer/scholar A.M. Frison, takes an entirely different tack. Frison is Musician-in-Residence at artist Theaster Gates’s Stony Island Arts Bank and has previously released music under the name Coultrain, working with Platinum Pied Pipers among others. He is joined in Bottle Tree by composer/cornetist Ben Lamar Gay, an under-the-radar composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist known for his roots in the AACM and an active role in his native Chicago community, and Italian expat Tommaso Moretti on traps. Together, they combine mutated West African textures with the spirit of avant-garde jazz and a Motown-molded melodic mind. “The band thinks of it as the kind of trio you’d see in a storefront chapel,” says International Anthem’s Scottie McNiece, “with Frison as a seductive preacher of questionable ideas and Ben Lamar Gay as the church organist coloring his sermon with improvised melodies and flourishes.” Bottle Tree’s debut full-length will be released April 21, and Wax Poetics is happy to debut a preview in the form of the album opener, “Whereabouts Unknown.”
Today marks the 25th anniversary of East Coast hip-hop duo Das EFX’s debut LP Dead Serious. Released April 7th, 1992, on East West Records, Dead Serious was executive produced by hip-hop heavyweights EPMD and features classic singles such as “They Want EFX” and “Mic Checka.”
To celebrate the record’s birthday, our friend Chris Read has crafted yet another exclusive mixtape featuring album tracks, alternate versions, and original sample material.
DJ Shadow The late 1980s and early ’90s saw the dawn of a new day as sampling was at a high point with hip-hop’s golden era. Following in the footsteps of Double Dee & Steinski, Prince Paul, and the Dust Brothers, DJ SHADOW would push the boundaries of sampling with his early Mo’ Wax releases. His first full-length album, Endtroducing…, further shined a light on the art form, as the album exploded through popular culture and put the reluctant star in the spotlight.
David Axelrod Producer/composer DAVID AXELROD landed a dream job at Capitol Records in 1964, immediately working with jazz legend Cannonball Adderley and lifting soul singer Lou Rawls to great heights.
Leon Sylvers III Gifted songwriter, bassist, and producer LEON SYLVERS III led his siblings’ group THE SYLVERS from their teenaged harmony-tinged sweet-soul beginnings to mainstream disco heights. Then, in the late-’70s and early ’80s, he helped usher in the new wave of synthesizer-driven R&B, writing and producing hits for everyone from Shalamar to Gladys Knight and the Pips.
After splitting with his crew in Japan, DJ KRUSH embarked on a journey with British label Mo’ Wax that found the turntablist/producer using hip-hop’s breakbeat foundation while pioneering a new genre of abstract instrumentals.
CYNTHIA ROBINSON was a single mother when she joined Sly and the Family Stone as a trumpeter and vocalist in 1966. As one of the band’s most prominent figures, she became lovers with Sly, giving birth to their daughter, Sylvyette “Phunne” Stone, in 1976. Years later, as Robinson carried the torch with the Family Stone into the next century, Phunne would have the chance to join her mother onstage as a vocalist.
Australian plunderers the Avalanches release their first record in sixteen years; adventures of a reggae messenger with Danny Holloway.
Head an hour east of Los Angeles and you’ll find yourself in the Inland Empire of San Bernardino/Riverside, where a thriving Latinx DIY music and art scene is on display to a melting pot community and audience. It is out of this grassroots local scene that Quitapenas developed their unique rhythm and following. At the heart of the group is a tropical Afro-Latin combo, brewed under the warm California sun with a certain liberation in their sound as summed up in the meaning of their name: Quita (remove) Penas (worries). With this carefree openness the crew has honed a distinct and hypnotic take on the influential guitarra/tambora roots of golden-age soukous, chicha, compa, and champeta.
As Quitapenas prepares to release two new tracks in collaboration with Brooklyn-based label, Names You Can Trust, drummer Eduardo Valencia and guitarist Daniel Gomez rundown a selection of influential records that helped define the Quitapenas sound, as well as expand upon the beginnings of the scene that is now taking shape in the Inland Empire.
Abelardo Carbono “Muevela”
“The music I make is Afro-Latin music,” Abelardo Carbono explained to us when Eduardo met him under the statue of Joe Arroyo in Barranquilla, Colombia, in August of 2016. Carbono pioneered a unique style that blended rhythmic psychedelic guitar riffs with Afro-Colombian rhythms. He is hands down own of the most influential artists to our “mas tropical” sound. His compositions guided us to create our own interpretation of what tropical music is.
Cumbia Siglo XX “Naga Pedale”
Cumbia Siglo XX reinterpreted a Haitian folk tune entitled “Naga Pedale” that was then released on the influential Colombian label Machuca. This was Afro-Indigenous music from an ensemble that explored different rhythms from the Colombian diaspora, truly diverse. The introduction to the tune was unlike any other we’ve heard, a reflection of a typical style from Colombia that includes a call and response singing throughout the track. It also solidified our approach to treat each instrumentation and sound as a drum. “Play it like a drum!” is a constant suggestion in our rehearsals. Here you can hear various instruments, including bass guitar, treated as such.
N’goma Jazz “Mi Cantando Para Ti”
N’Goma Jazz blew us away with this tune. The track starts and the language sits somewhere between Portuguese and Spanish (our mother tongue). Often we heard African music in French or indigenous languages, but in this case it was funky, sweet poly-rhythms in a language we could understand. Music from Angola was a big influence on how to make our music appeal to an audience. Components that we found made the Angolan music known as Semba attractive: there were catchy melodies, room for improvisation, a rhythmic beat that made people move, and often a political or social statement that made the songs even more important.
Antonio Dos Santos “Djal Bai Si Camin”
This album is one that we’ve been exploring more and more. Music from Cape Verde known as Funana and Coladeira is being heard for the first time now to a much larger, global audience. We mostly really dug into ’70s and ’80s tracks that began to feature electric pianos and organs. You begin to hear more effects in guitars and vocals and it starts to create a more modern psychedelic-funk-disco feel. This track is our favorite from the compilation Space Echo and is a pretty good reflection of the style of music.
Calixto Ochoa y Los Papaupas “Lumbalu”
Calixto Ochoa played some of the funkiest accordion in Colombia. In “Lumbalu,” he gives his respect to San Basilio de Palenque, one of the first free African slave settlements of the Americas. In 2013, our drummer Eduardo Valencia took a solo trip to experience San Basilio de Palenque during its annual drum festival. The Lumbalu is the name of the nine-day mourning process and funeral processions for a deceased community member. Calixto references the Palenque culture with a line that says “en San Basilio el que muere, se despide con tambor” meaning “in San Basilio the deceased are departed with drums.”
These global selections were paramount to Quitapenas creating their own niche in San Bernardino/Riverside. Where there has always been a local scene of musician and bands in that area, there was never much of an outlet for a new breed of musicians to push the afro-diasporan aspect that lays at the heart the Latinx sound. As drummer Velencia points out, when they “began booking [their] own shows and throwing DIY house parties in Riverside,” the immediacy of social networking brought them in contact with LA-based Buyepongo who embraced the group’s refreshing take on the music. From that moment, the band was able to start playing in collaboration with other outfits in LA to a wider audience. After they recorded their own “super, low-budget” demo, the band connected with another LA-based afro-pop band called Fool’s Gold. They played a gig together and immediately made plans to record a single on the White Iris label that was run by Fool’s Gold guitarist Lewis Pesacov. That single turned out to be “Mas Tropical,” a newly coined term by the Quitapenas members that incorporated, for them, a wider, global understanding of the tropical music landscape. Since then, that term has been a call-to-arms for the group and other bands in the scene, shedding unappropriate genre cliches like “world music” or not-quite defining terms like “cumbia.” Although “cumbia is a huge influence,” to the group, the scope of what Quitapenas is playing and recording needed to have a wider definition—and thus “mastropical” was born.
Now, the group is poised for another entry into their discography with their new release on Names You Can Trust. It drops worldwide March 31st on digital/streaming and vinyl formats. Hear the A-Side now, Ya Veran, and enter to win a copy of the vinyl edition made in tandem with visual artist Deladoso. Wax Poetics readers can enter by emailing contest[AT]waxpoetics[DOT]com with the subject line “Ya Veran.”
Quitapenas is currently preparing for their debut at the world-renown Coachella festival. They’ll be performing two shows on consecutive weekends April 15th and 22nd, sharing the bill with dozens of global artists and talent in their own backyard of their own Inland Empire.
This weekend sees the 20th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.’s second and final album Life After Death. Released posthumously on Bad Boy Records on March 25, 1997, just sixteen days after the drive-by shooting that led to his tragic death on March 9 that year. The double album features truly classic hip-hop joints such as “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems,” as well as guest appearances from Jay Z, Lil’ Kim, Mase, R. Kelly, and more.
To mark Life After Death’s anniversary, our buddy DJ Matman dug deep and expertly crafted this fine mixtape featuring album tracks, alternate versions and remixes, and original sample material from the likes of Zapp, Screaming’ jay Hawkins, Al Green, and Barbara Mason, amongst others.
Listen up and pour some out for Biggie!
Artwork by Leon Nockolds
01. Bobby Caldwell – My Flame
02. The Notorious B.I.G. – Sky’s The Limit
03. Screamin’ jay Hawkins – I Put A Spell On You
04. The Notorious B.I.G. – Kick In The Door
05. Al Green – The Letter
06. The Notorious B.I.G. – Long Kiss Goodnight
07. Public Enemy – Shut ‘Em Down (Pete Rock Remix) Matman Intro Edit
08. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ten Crack Commandments
09. Les McCann – Vallarta
10. Barbara Mason – Another Man
11. The Notorious B.I.G. – Another
12. Liquid Liquid – Cavern
13. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nasty Boy (Bad Boy Remix) Matman Aca In Edit
14. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nasty Boy
15. Rene & Angela – I Love You More
16. The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Jay-Z – I Love The Dough
17. Zapp – More Bounce To The Ounce (Matman Intro Edit)
18. The Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back To Cali
19. Herb Alpert – Rise
20. Doug E. Fresh And M. C. Ricky D (aka Slick Rick) – La-Di-Da-Di
21. The Notorious B.I.G. – Hypnotize
22. Andreas Vollenweider – Belladonna
23. The Notorious B.I.G. – I Got A Story To Tell
24. Schoolly D – P.S.K.-What Does It Mean?
25. The Notorious B.I.G. – B.I.G. Interlude
26. Richard Evans – Close To You
27. Al Green – I’m Glad Your Mine
28. Biz Markie – Biz Is Goin’ Off
27. The Notorious B.I.G. – What’s Beef?
28. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out
29. The Notorious B.I.G. – Mo Money Mo Problems Matman Aca Out Edit
30. Asha Puthli – Space Talk
31. The Notorious B.I.G. – The World Is Filled…
32. Diana Ross – Missing You
33. The Notorious B.I.G. – Miss U
34. The Notorious B.I.G. – Notorious Thugs
35. Billy Preston – I Wonder Why
36. The Notorious B.I.G. – Nobody Til Somebody (Enuff Demo Mix)
37. The Notorious B.I.G. – You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)
38. Al Green – For The Good Times
39. The Notorious B.I.G. – My Downfall
40. The Notorious B.I.G. – #! *@ You Tonight
41. The Notorious B.I.G. – Last Days (OG Havoc Demo Mix)
42. The Whispers – Hey, Who Really Cares
43. The Notorious B.I.G. – N%$%*s Bleed
44. The Notorious B.I.G. – Playa Hater (acapella)
45. The Delfonics – Hey Love