So, apparently, Lee “Scratch” Perry has remade his 1976 classic dub album Super Ape. And as our friend says, it might be Scratch’s best work since he burned down the Black Ark nearly forty years ago. At eighty-one years old, Perry and original percussionist Larry McDonald—along with NYC dancehall legend Screechy Dan—have revisited the album’s timeless tracks and reimagined them for “the bass obsessed, sound system generation.”
The album, Super Ape Returns to Conquer, drops on September 22 on Subatomic Sound. Label guru, Subatomic band leader, and album coproducer Emch explains the concept behind completely remaking Super Ape: “It is a crazy thing to do to completely remake a classic. No one has ever dared to do something like that. It prompts the question: What is the motivation if it was already classic? Really, it was to adapt a slow, hypnotic album to a hype live show while still maintaining the vibes that make the music special. Like an alternate version.”
We’re premiering the track “Curly Dub,” below.
“Curly Dub” features a bold steppers beat and unlikely swaggering jazz bass line that get turnt up and taken on a psychedelic trip back to Africa. Though reggae is often identified by its signature bass lines, Scratch upends convention on this composition with a massive walking jazz bass line originally over a four on the floor steppers beat (somewhat groundbreaking in the 1970s) that is redone by Subatomic Sound in heavyweight fashion with tight 808 house kicks, big belly sine wave bass, and an added energy boost from improvised Ethiopian sax solos – extending the original American jazz influence all the way back to Africa. Screechy Dan reincarnates Scratch’s original vocals that harken back very clearly to the vocal phrasing style that Scratch famously nurtured in Bob Marley. Scratch blends his spirituality with signature humor, proclaiming “I am free” and that he is black Moses, here to free the people, imploring the to feel it, smell it, and taste it. Scratch was a huge influence on the Beastie Boys, one of the few respected artists also known for their humor, who featured Scratch on their track Dr. Lee Phd.
The official tour starts October 24—with a can’t-miss NYC show at Output on the 25th with Francois K/Deep Space!
There was a time when a Texan soul singer need only jump on a Greyhound to find a producer and killer house band qualified to cut some authentic, new-aged soul. Sugaray Rayford, a singer by the power of Bobby Blue Bland and Solomon Burke, has found his graceland in another continent, across the pond and over the valley, in the European city of Rome. Blind Faith Records, headed by Italian celebrità band leader/producer Luca Sapio and his crack session unit (which includes a three-piece horn section) entitled the Italian Royal Family, recorded, with vintage analog gear, the entire project, The World That We Live In, via a studio located in the Pigneto district of the Italian capital.
Check out Sugaray Rayford’s new video below—a Wax Poetics world exclusive. Filmed in an abandoned sulfur quarry just outside of Rome, Sugaray laments the state of the world on the album’s title cut, in relative solitude, surrounded only by a stray dog, a lounge of lizards, and his Stetson hat. Dig it.
We originally intended to drop this one in the run up to the Wax Poetics After Dark party at Le Pigalle in Paris, but, sometimes shit happens and sometimes flower pots fall on laptops and mixtapes get lost.
In our opinion it’s never too late for good music to circulate though, so, are excited to now present to you the After Dark mixtape : a taster of what you can expect to boogie to at a Wax Poetics party.
Mixed by Alice Price-Styles
Artwork by Leon Nockolds
Blue Magic “See Through”
Andre Forget Me Not “After Midnight (B-Side Version)”
While some old school hip-hop fans never tire of arguing over who “created” hip-hop, there is no denying that it was Kool Herc’s jam thrown on August 11, 1973, was a pivotal party that helped get the aural revolution started. To celebrate the forty-fourth anniversary of that boogie-down night, Google celebrates with hip-hop-inspired Doodle (designed by Def Jam icon Cey Adams) that clicks through to feature an interactive turntable, iconic breakbeats, and hip-hop history content. Partnering with Mass Appeal, producer Prince Paul was commissioned to supply the project with three different beats constructed from records featured in the Doodle.
“The challenge was that all the beats had to be 110 bpm, which is a disco tempo, but I figured out how to make it funky,” Prince Paul says. “I tried to find a bridge between the original school and what I do. The end result, I think, came out pretty cool.” The respected producer began his career as DJ for Stetsasonic and later gained fame as the producer for De La Soul, 3rd Bass, Gravediggaz. and Vernon Reid; his solo albums include Psychoanalysis: What is It? and A Prince Among Thieves. “There are a lot of young rap fans who think the music started with G-Unit, so hopefully this project will give them a chance to learn a bit of history.”
Although Paul was only six years old when Herc stepped behind the turntables in August 1973, he has since become close to the pioneering turntablist. “The first time I met Herc, it was like shaking hands with Jesus,” Paul says. “One time, he took me to his family’s house in Long Island. He said, ‘Man, I got a bunch of 45s nobody has ever heard.’ I was amazed that Herc was even talking to me, and then we’re at his mom’s house looking through a chest of records. It was unreal. If it wasn’t for Herc, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have a job as Prince Paul. Every time I see him, I tell him thank you. Herc is the greatest dude ever.”
Still, having developed a love for the music, once the Long Island native got old enough to catch the train with his crew, he’d ride Bronx park jams to see Afrika Bambaataa and Jazzy Jay, and go to Brooklyn (where his grandma lived) to check out Grandmaster Flowers and Pete DJ Jones.
Prince Paul (in back with mic) and Red Alert at the Latin Quarter in 1987. From the book No Half Steppin’ (Wax Poetics Books), courtesy of Paradise Gray.
“I also spent a lot of time at Latin Quarter just watching the DJ spin and listening to the music,” Paul says. “When we went to the parties in the Bronx, a lot of time we just went to certain neighborhoods and listened for the bass and follow that sound down the block and hope nobody beat us up. It wasn’t as easy as pressing a button on the computer. We had to look for the music; there was journey to find the music.” Besides the talent behind the wheels of steel what made an old school jam special?
“It was all about power in them days. Who had the most speakers stacked, who could blow away everybody else.” Currently, Prince Paul is working on various projects while also planning an upcoming tour of Brazil with his group Brookzill!; their album Throwback to the Future was released last year. “To me, guys like Herc, Grandmaster Caz, and DJ Flowers were superheroes. Those were the guys that inspired me, and it’s time for them to get their accolades. Hopefully, this project will encourage young hip-hop fans to dig deeper.”
I remember falling in love so hard when I bought Mecca and the Soul Brother (shout out Rockaboom in Leicester, U.K.!) back when I was a teenager just like it was yesterday. Pete Rock’s production in tandem with CL Smooth’s rap style was perfection: the drums, the rolling rhyme flows, those sublime teasing interludes… Everything sounded so rich and smooth and cool, and every song on the album is stellar.
Following their 1991 EP All Souled Out, Mecca and the Soul Brother was released June 9th, 1992. Featuring classic singles “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.),” “Straighten It Out,” and “Lots of Lovin,” the album is considered by many to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the classic LP, our homie Chris Read has whipped up yet another fine mixtape of album tracks, alternative versions, remixes, and original sample material from the likes of the Ohio Players, 9th Creation, James Brown, and more…
Artwork : Leon Nockolds
1. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Straighten It Out’ (Remix Instrumental)
2. Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
3. Sister Nancy – ‘Bam Bam’ (sampled in ‘The Basement’)
4. Pete Rock & CL Smooth feat Heavy D, Deda, Grap Luva and Rob-O – ‘The Basement’
5. Ohio Players – ‘What’s Going On’ (sampled in ‘Lots of Lovin’)
6. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Lots of Lovin’
7. Les McCann – ‘North Carolina’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Lots of Lovin’)
8. Dave Wintour & Pat Whitmore – ‘Where Do I Go?’ (sampled in ‘Can’t Front on Me’)
9. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Can’t Front On Me’
10. Biz Markie – ‘Just A Friend’ [Extract] (sampled in Can’t Front On Me’)
11. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Return of the Mecca’)
12. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Return of the Mecca’
13. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Ghettos of the Mind’
14. The Coasters – ‘Down Home Girl’ (sampled in ‘Skinz’)
15. Pete Rock & CL Smooth feat Grand Puba – ‘Skinz’
16. 9th Creation – ‘Bubble Gum’ (sampled in ‘Soul Brother #1)
17. The J.B’s – ‘The Grunt’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Soul Brother #1)
18. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Soul Brother #1
19. James Brown – ‘Funky President’ (sampled in ‘Anger in the Nation’)
20. Sly & The Family Stone – ‘Sing A Simple Song’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Anger in the Nation’)
21. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Anger in the Nation’
22. O’Donel Levy – ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
23. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’
24. Heavy D & The Boyz – ‘Gyrlz, They Love Me’ [Extract] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’)
25. Mountain – ‘Long Red’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
26. ESG – ‘UFO’ [Loop] (Sampled in ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)’)
27. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother (Wig Out Mix)
28. James Brown – ‘Blues & Pants’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right’)
29. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘If It Ain’t Rough It Ain’t Right’
30. Stetsasonic – ‘Go Stetsa I’ [Loop] (sampled in If It Ain’t Rough, It Ain’t Right’)
31. Freddie McCoy – ‘Gimmie Some’ (sampled in ‘For Pete’s Sake’)
32. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘For Pete’s Sake’
33. Biz Markie – ‘The Do Do’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘For Pete’s Sake’)
34. EPMD – ‘It’s My Thing’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘For Pete’s Sake’)
35. Ernie Hines – ‘Our Generation’ (sampled in ‘Straighten It Out’)
36. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Straighten It Out’
37. Lou Donaldson – ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘On and On’)
38. Jimmy Mc Griff – ‘The Bird’ (sampled in ‘On and On’)
39. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘On and On’
40. Brand Nubian – ‘Step to the Rear’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘On and On’)
41. Eddy Senay – ‘Cameo’ (sampled in ‘Act Like You Know’)
42. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Act Like You Know’
43. Tom Scott and The California Dreamers – ‘Today’ (sampled in ‘T.R.O.Y’)
44. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘T.R.O.Y’
45. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘T.R.O.Y (Remix Instrumental)’
46. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘T.R.O.Y (The Vibes Mix)’
47. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘It’s Like That’
48. Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth – ‘Strictly for the Ladies’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘It’s Like That’)
49. Georgie Fame – ‘Music Talk’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Wig Out’)
50. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘Wig Out’
51. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Wig Out’)
52.Eddie Bo – ‘From This Day On’ (Sampled in ‘The Creator’)
53. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator’
54. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Slide to the Side Mix)‘
55. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – ‘The Creator (Surfboard Mix)’
Damian Marley marks his return with his latest album, Stony Hill, set to debut on July 21st. It’s his first solo album since Welcome to Jamrock in 2005. He’s been busy between solo albums, including guesting on Bruno Mars’ “Liquor Store Blues,” collaborating with Nas on the brilliant, slept-on Distant Relatives and collaborating on the album SuperHeavy in 2001, a short-lived grouping of Marley, Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Dave Stewart, and A.R. Rahman intended to be a convergence of musical styles. In 2012, Marley released the groundbreaking track “Make It Bun Dem” with Skillrex, with a video that examines the fallout of eminent domain, gentrification, greedy developers, and cultural resistance. The single became an instant classic.
In a merging of his music, political and spiritual beliefs Marley formed a partnership with Colorado-based cannabis leader Tru Cannabis for his brand Stony Hill to create a full retail dispensary in Colorado. He also partnered with Ocean Growth Extracts, a local California cannabis company, to grow cannabis in a space that was once a 70,000 square foot prison in Coalinga, California. The facility will be used for medical marijuana cultivation and as a manufacturing and testing facility.
The new album, Stony Hill, named for his childhood neighborhood, is an amalgam of adventures from slow jams and reggaestep, to hip-hop and roots reggae with samples from Dennis Brown and Black Uhuru’s “Solidarity.” This album, he says, is the statement of his return.
And he makes necessary and timely statements throughout the album. For the video for the lead single, “Nail Pon Cross,” Marley is nailed to a cross alongside a black man, a Mexican, a Muslim man and a Los Angeles cop. Inspired by Nas’s “Hate Me Now” the song deals with judgments that people make and is meant to be a modern-day crucifixion.
Wax Poetics talked to Marley ahead of his album release.
The title of the album, Stony Hill, is also the title of the dispensary—is there a link between the business venture and the album? Did you look at it as an extension as your artistry?
Stony Hill is in Jamaica, it’s the neighborhood where I grew up and spent my childhood up to my early teenage years there. It has always been my intention to name the album Stony Hill. When the opportunity presented itself to get involved in the marijuana business we were looking for a name for our company, Stony Hill kind of lent itself just because of the use of the word stony and being stoned. It just worked out great that we get exposure for both platforms.
With the state of mass incarceration and the war on the drugs, there is an irony of taking over a former prison where people were incarcerated for marijuana to build this dispensary…
It is a time of awakening right now. With the intel right now everything is put out on the table, the lies the truth, everything is being exposed. With the legalization of marijuana I only see it as a positive. I always express a concern about cooperative entities coming in and taking over things and the original people who sacrificed to feed their families through the cultivation or selling herb or whatever the case may be we don’t want them to get muscled out. Regardless for young people to not have to worry about getting a criminal record for a few buds of herb, that’s definitely a plus.
There are different genres on this album: roots reggae, big band, gospel, why did you decide to do things differently for this album?
Prior to this I did the album with Nas. We also did an album called SuperHeavy, which was an album with us and four to five prominent musicians. I am trying to express a little bit more of myself on my own. I did some of the production, my brother Stephen Mc Gregor and Anju Blaxx who are popular producers in Jamaica and David Chee and King Jammy legendary producers from Jamaica. His son Baby Chee who I worked with also. So far as collaboration I only have my brother Steve and a young youth by the name of Major Minor who is Bounty Killer’s son.
On the single “Time Travel” you talked about a lot about the internet and space travel and where we are as a society…
Some of the lyrics on that song were from the year 2012. That was when they had the Mayan calendar. It was supposed to be another year 2000 when something was supposed to go wrong. That was the inspiration really on how I started to write that song. It was comparing ancient knowledge to modern technology and it led me on the journey for the rest of the song.
The song “Medication” I took as an analogy of a woman to weed or a love song about weed..
I can imagine what inspired that.
The song “Slave Mills” is talking about materialism and there’s a woman that speaks at the end, is that a clip from somewhere?
Yes, she says something like I can remember when the slavery days.
My brother Steve found that clip. That’s actually a recording of a lady that was actually alive during the time of slavery. That’s her voice.
And “Nail Pon Cross” is the lead single..
Yes, the song itself is inspired off of people who judge others even to some day to day relationships in your own household and translate to world affairs like we are judging other countries and other religions. I think the feel and sound of the track was articulated by the beat itself is from a popular Jamaican song from long ago named “Solidarity” from legendary group named Black Uhuru. They were the first winners of a reggae Grammy. That track was on the album. The track itself in terms of music has a historical significance as far as Jamaican music. We could hear it being played in the dancehalls in Jamaica.
What inspired the ballad “Autumn Leaves”?
I am a fan of music from Nat King Cole and Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra. I started off I was vibing with my keyboardist, one of my musicians. I had been listening to some Stevie Wonder earlier on that day too, and I was kind of in the mood of singing. The track didn’t start off really so seriously, it was just like a jam. The more the people heard the jam they was like yo this is a really great song and you should build on it. Because of all of the encouragement we ended up taking their advice and went to cut the song properly. This song shows a growth in that I never tried to do a ballad of this nature before, so it’s something new for me.
What are the misconceptions about the dispensary industry? People have been having issues around licensing. I don’t know if having you as a celebrity will help because a lot of people have been having trouble getting licensing.
That is the only trouble. Weed is becoming legal, cooperative entities and people who ten years ago who wouldn’t put their name beside anything having to do with marijuana are now investing money in it because now it is profitable and business is opening up. What we are concerned about is the small man who hasn’t been able to provide for himself over the years, doesn’t get muscled out. Knowledge of how to get yourself a permit..they’re not lawyers, they’re farmers and not all of them are equipped to know about getting a permit, let alone be eligible to get one. That’s a concern, but it’s good that people like myself are getting involved so we can be a voice on behalf of those.
What would it do morally for the U.S. for it to have every state legalize marijuana?
I just think it’s not morally right to be locking up kids for a few joints and they get criminal records and you ruin a good start for them with a joint. Morally I think it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think man should have the power to legalize plants in the first place, it’s a bit presumptuous. I myself am not a criminal but we always have to keep an eye out if we smoke herb. You don’t disrespect the law of a country or you don’t disrespect an officer. That freedom is a stress off your shoulder.
I read a Guardian article where your father said herb is the healing of the nation.
This is true. I think the healing properties that researchers will now be able to take time and discover and learn about it. I think that will open up a lot of opportunities and benefits for humanity in general. They talk about CBD now, which has been doing wonders when it comes to, for example, cases of epilepsy. And that’s only one chemical in a plant that has hundreds of chemicals that we haven’t been able to research just yet because it has been illegal. If it’s legal we can find out what kind of powers and medicines and magic that’s in store for us. That’s what I’m really excited about.