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Winston Riley: Don’t Sweat the Techniques

One of the true survivors of Jamaica’s notoriously cutthroat music scene, Winston Riley has been a consistently forceful element of that island’s music production sphere for more than forty years. Although he was one of the producers who helped give birth to reggae in the late 1960s, he remained untroubled by the dramatic changes that swept Jamaican music during the computerization phase of the mid-1980s, and continued to be an important…

June 8, 2010 | David Katz | Articles

Demon Fuzz

Photo courtesy of Paddy Corea Stylistically, Demon Fuzz’s single album, 1970’s Afreaka!, is hard to pin down. But then, I guess that’s the point. Demon Fuzz went out of their way to keep people guessing; at gigs, they’d let people assume they were a reggae band, only to launch into some African-influenced jazz/rock number. Jaws hit the floor and feet started tapping. “We were different, totally different,” says Demon Fuzz trombonist Clarance…

July 12, 2010 | Matthew Court | Articles

On Golden Throat: Zapp frontman Roger Troutman popularized the talk box

“It’s so crazy, it just might work.” –The Muppets Muppet of My Mind By the time Stevie Wonder got to Sesame Street, Cookie Monster had already driven a stolen steam engine into a game show. A blue guy in overalls cried, “Hey, that’s my train!” A purple banker in whiskers asked for his cane. An orange thing ran around with jumbled fangs and a poof of eyebrows lifted from the forehead of Leonid Brezhnev. The show was Beat the Time, and its host,…

May 22, 2013 | Dave Tompkins | Articles

Video premiere from Jamaican legend Ken Boothe   You’d be hard pressed to find a more authentic Jamaican soul man than Ken Boothe, most famous for his U.K. number one “Everything I Own,” but the originator of countless foundation reggae classics and essential R&B cover versions that threaten to outshine the originals (“Is It Because I’m Black,” “Nature Planned…

January 6, 2017 | Andrew Mason | Videos

Protoje leans on reggae’s foundations to build a new revival

photos by Che Kothari   Listen to enough reggae and you tend not to evaluate performers by the albums they make. LPs have never been the genre’s preferred mode of transportation, as fifty-plus years of cut and mix dancehall culture has ensured. Yet albums can be vehicles for enduring artistry, and this was largely how Bob Marley translated reggae for the world. Until I heard Protoje’s Ancient Future album, released last year through Mr….

July 8, 2016 | Wax Poetics | Articles

Bowlegged Lou, I Want You Just for Me!

Picture three young brothers in early ’70s Brooklyn, New York, reading lines from a play written by the youngest. The two elder siblings are reluctantly rehearsing their parts as the scrappy little one persistently and enthusiastically insists that they play along. It could be a scene from so many families’ photo albums, a fond memory from your average Brooklynite’s childhood, or even the start of some heart-warming festive movie. But, this…

November 26, 2012 | Alice Price-Styles | Guest Blog
Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson Is Still the King

Five years ago, the untimely passing of Michael Jackson sent a shockwave through the entire globe. Many tears were shed by his adoring fans. Impromptu celebrations transpired across the world to honor his grand memory. Jackson was one of the very few artists, who transcended the world of music and the world as a whole through his irrevocable influence. And we dearly miss him. The world first became intrigued with the precocious nine-year-old…

June 26, 2014 | Chris Williams | Guest Blog
Boyz II Men

Producer Dallas Austin talks about Boyz II Men’s debut album, Cooleyhighharmony

Boyz II Men, ABC, and BBD: The East Coast Family… was the mantra for the Biv 10 collective at the beginning of the 1990s. After being discovered by Michael Bivins, the collective known as Boyz II Men—Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and Michael McCary—signed a recording contract with Motown Records in late 1989. Hailing from the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the quartet spent years cultivating their trademark vocal chops…

March 2, 2016 | Chris Williams | Articles

No worries bout nothin

PICTURE ME HOARDIN. (Moral support via Daniel Dumile and Grandma’s afghan.) My entire hair repertoire, from “smooth and nicely brushed” to “aw fuck it.”   BEAT SWAP MEET #17, 03/11/12 – My grasp of what constitutes “style” is limited, but I know that ladies should always accentuate the indent where the waist meets the hips and that the cotton sundress is timeless. I know that unless you are dating Fabolous, your boyfriend…

March 28, 2012 | Logan Melissa | Guest Blog
"The Spook Who Sat by the Door" film still

Sam Greenlee’s debut novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, drew up the blueprint for Black nationalization

A still from the 1973 film The Spook Who Sat by the Door.   Sam Greenlee, author of The Spook Who Sat by the Door, passed away at the age of eighty-three on Monday, May 19, 2014. The following interview was originally published online as “The Revolution” in 2011.   Over forty years later, Sam Greenlee’s debut novel still kicks ass. The tome often dubbed “the first Black nationalist novel” was birthed in 1968 in the middle…

May 20, 2014 | Cherryl Aldave | Articles
Turquoise Summers (Omega Supreme Records)

Turquoise Summers continues the modern-funk tradition

In 2009, Los Angeles based interplanetary funk doctor, Dam-Funk dropped his debut album, Toeachizown, a monumental five-LP boxed set on Stones Throw Records. Since its release, the genre known as modern funk has steadily picked up steam and rapidly become a worldwide movement. By using vintage analog synthesizers and drum machines, modern funk pays homage to the boogie sound from the early ’80s but is continuing where the funk left off and…

December 19, 2014 | Alexander Speetzen | Articles

Pianist Ahmad Jamal charted a new popularity for jazz

In 1958, a small, dignified, Pittsburgh-born pianist, composer, and bandleader named Ahmad Jamal recorded a show tune entitled “Poinciana” at a hip, Black-owned venue called the Pershing Lounge in Chicago’s South Side. His elegant, Errol Garner–style pianisms, buoyed by drummer Vernel Fournier’s second-line syncopations and the rich, rock-steady bass lines of ex–Benny Goodman sideman Israel Crosby, transformed that song into something rare for…

May 16, 2018 | Eugene Holley Jr. | Articles
Tony! Tone! Toni! The Revival

Tony! Toni! Toné! founder D’Wayne Wiggins speaks in depth about their 1990 smash album The Revival

At the beginning of the 1990s, D’Wayne Wiggins, Raphael Saadiq, and Timothy Christian Riley—collectively known as Tony! Toni! Toné!—had spent years together honing their skills as musicians in Oakland, California, by performing in various bands and touring with legendary artists. After signing a record deal with Wing Records, they released their debut album, Who?, in 1988. The trio received assistance from then hit producers Denzil Foster and…

February 12, 2016 | Chris Williams | Articles
Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson reminisces on his silky-smooth chart-topper “So Fine”

In 1982, Howard Johnson’s silky-smooth hit “So Fine,” from his Keepin’ Love New album, peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Dance charts. Later that year, Howard performed the tune in front of a live audience on Soul Train. He fondly reminisces, “It was somewhat surreal, because I grew up watching Soul Train on Saturdays. I begged Don Cornelius to sing it live, but he told me they only allowed people like Al Green and Aretha…

February 24, 2016 | Alexander Speetzen | Articles


It’s January 16, 1969, and the soul duo Peaches & Herb are performing a cover of Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” on the PBS variety arts show SOUL! on New York’s Channel 13. By 1969, the duo, with their harmonious blend of soprano and tenor, had already been serenading lovers and radio audiences with a platoon of love songs, including “We’re in This Thing Together.” But this would be their first television appearance, and they would make an…

May 4, 2011 | Ericka Blount Danois | Articles
DJ Quik by Jorge Peniche

DJ Quik picks out 19 influential records at L.A.’s Amoeba Music

Photo by Jorge Peniche “When you sample,” says Compton, California, legend DJ Quik, “it’s more than just about the musical piece. It’s the wow and flutter from the turntable. There’s something about the electrified diamond touching the carbon-based vinyl that makes the sound so robust. The concept shouldn’t even work. It’s a miracle of physics, if you ask me.”   Originally published in Wax Poetics Issue 50   DJ Quik (né David Blake)…

July 29, 2014 | Tony Best | Record Rundown
Soul II Soul - Club Classics Vol. One / Keep On Movin'

Jazzie B. and Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul discuss 1989’s Club Classics Vol. One (Keep On Movin’ )

By the end of the 1980s, Soul II Soul had built a monstrous following as a sound system collective in the U.K. Starting in 1982, Trevor “Jazzie B.” Beresford Romeo, the sound system’s maestro began to develop and implement a plan of success for his musical outfit. After a series of single releases known as dub plates in 1988, Club Classics Vol. One (Keep On Movin’ in the U.S.) was released on April 10, 1989, by Virgin Records. Upon its…

May 14, 2014 | Chris Williams | Articles

The Birth of Hip-Hop Fashion

Biggie Smalls and April Walker. Photo courtesy of April Walker.   During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a new-age renaissance was being embraced across the country. Groundbreaking artistry was emerging in the forms of hip-hop and new jack swing music and the fashion that embodied it. In the beloved borough of Brooklyn, two young women would be inspired and embark on a journey to transform the culture that groomed their talents. April…

August 22, 2013 | Chris Williams | Articles

Issue 55

…Purchase Issue 55. Issue 55 celebrates exploration. French duo Daft Punk are redefining modern dance music by bringing the musicians back. Hip-hop legends De La Soul keep the team together even after twenty years in the game. Contents: Daft Punk De La Soul Nile Rodgers Teddy Riley Slum Village Gino Soccio Me’Shell Ndegéocello Waajeed Jack Bruce Lady Ava Luna BLKKATHY…

May 21, 2013 | Wax Poetics | Wax Poetics Magazine

A look back 20 years to the debut album of Aaliyah, the R. Kelly scandal, and her Timbaland-produced follow-up that set the R&B format on fire

Atlantic Records promo by Marc Baptiste.   On the heels of her best-selling debut, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, fifteen-year-old Aaliyah was rocked by a sex scandal that would have crushed a lesser talent. But breaking ties with her label and former producer and lover R. Kelly afforded the teenage singer to create a new musical life for herself. She joined forces with production/songwriting duo Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who crafted…

August 5, 2014 | Michael Gonzales | Articles

Curtis Mayfield injected his own cultural commentary into the Super Fly legacy

The streets of New York City weren’t very pretty in the 1970s. Littered throughout once welcoming communities, an influx of heroin junkies, many broken young brothers home from the Vietnam War, became yet another symbol of a deteriorating society. As essayist James Wolcott described the then-rotting Apple, it was “a metropolis on the verge of a nervous breakdown with a side order of panic in Needle Park.”   Originally published as…

June 3, 2013 | Michael Gonzales | Articles
Prince Rogers Nelson

Our new hybrid journal with no ads.          Available in paperback and hardcover. 118 pages of all-new…