BOOK REVIEW: “Rap Tees” by DJ Ross One

Rap Tees photo RapTees_cover_zpstydq4wyk.jpg Rap Tees: A Collection of Hip-Hop T-Shirts 1980-1999 (powerHouse Books) is a book by DJ Ross One that honors the first era of hip-hop clothing that fans were able to buy not only as souvenirs but to show support for their favorite artists, just as rock fans have been able to for decades. Why is this significant? Because carrying a souvenir of your favorite music artist brings the fan closer to the artist, or at least sporting their logo on your chest makes it feel like a unique level of support even though that uniqueness is shared by anyone who buys a similar shirt.

DJ Ross One explores the many hip-hop T-shirts that have come over time. When it came to heavy metal T-shirts, its origins were rooted from the surfing and skateboarding communities, showing extra support by displaying their logo or a graphic design in reference to an album or logo. The rock T-shirt became a major part of the costume, especially for headbangers along with their denim fests and specific patches. Some of these traditions would be carried over into hip-hop, specifically when Def Jam became one of the first labels to make shirts for their artists and themselves. It seemed odd at first, for “why would anyone want to wear a T-shirt that said Public Enemy or the Beastie Boys? Why would anyone wear a logo in honor of a record company?” It’s the unusual dedication of “artist and record company pride” and once Def Jam’s clothing became a bit of promotion and hype when worn by other artists (Anthrax’s Scott Ian were Def Jam shirts religiously when he and the band went on tour in 1987 in support fo their Among The Living album), associated artists got involved before it began to open up to anyone in hip-hop willing to share their logo.

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DJ Ross One talks about the rise of a hip-hop shirt, whether it’s from through a company catalog or finding an offer in a cassette or 12″ single. Often times, snagging that T-shirt was a one-time thing not because they were thinking of creating limited editions, but because the budget was not big for hip-hop clothing, definitely not for a T-shirt. If you wanted a glow-in-the-dark De La Soul shirt, you had hoped you could get one or lose out. While many artists would have their own line of shirts in the early 90’s, the Wu-Tang Clan changed everything when they made a specfic line of clothing with their logos, originally just the yellow W over a black shirt. You had to hunt down those shirts when they weren’t widely available and once they obtained greater distribution, anyone who wanted to honor the power of the Wu could get one at the local mall. To be able to see T-shirts for everyone from Biggie to 2Pac, Digital Underground to Slick Rick, Queen Latifah to Nicki Minaj is interesting, for it also shows the progress of not only entrepreneurial success but the improvements of the designs themselves.

Rap Tees also touches on some of the bootleg T-shirts that were made not only in the late 80’s/early 90’s but in hip-hop for the last 25 years. If finding The Simpsons or Ren & Stimpy bootleg T-shirts became a trend, you may be able to find a bootleg shirt of your favorite artists at a swap meet, flea market, or corner store, even if the printing on the shirt might disappear after five washes.

Regardless, the hip-hop T-shirt managed to live in, not only for fans to buy but for ways to record labels, management, and the artists themselves to add to their means of promotion. Perhaps that means of promotion may have changed, for better or worse, with the rise of the internet and social media but fortunately if you need to find that specific shirt to sport, you may be able to find it on eBay, Etsy, or any other online merchant. Rap Tees shines the spotlight on believing in the hype from nothing more than a T-shirt and a silkscreen.

(NOTE: I was not able to get a hard copy of the book for review, I only received a digital edition. This review is based on that digital edition. You may order Rap Tees below from

BOOK REVIEW: “Girl In A Band” by Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon photo Gordonbook_cover_zpsa8e361b6.jpg When I found out Kim Gordon was coming out with her own autobiography, I knew I had to make sure to read it. I first heard of Sonic Youth in 1986 through a Seattle music video show called Bombshelter Videos, where I saw “Shadow Of A Doubt”. The music, her voice, and the visuals of her “sitting” on top of a train car pulled me in while it also made me ask “what is this?” I had been aware of who they were but living in a town without a college radio station made me curious. Thus, my fascination with her and her music, and in truth more about her music than anything about her but Girl In A Band: A Memoir (Bey St.) is her telling her own life how she sees it, which is the way how she writes her lyrics and poems, how she plays her music, and how she paints.

There were two things I wasn’t aware of when I read this. First, I didn’t know she was raised in California. What I know about Gordon is through her songs, albums, and interviews but that’s always one deliberate aspect of an artist wanting people to get to know they have new product available. Second, I didn’t know she and her family lived on Oahu for about a year. When she mentions how she enjoyed living in Manoa Valley, she says it freely as if she’s a local girl, but also states that for the first time in her life, she felt like a minority due to Hawai’i being primarily Asian. Also, having a name like Kim had kids make fun of her as the name Kim is often given to males within the Asian communities.

Her story primarily begins on what was a surprising note. The chapter is called The End and while I had suspicions of what it might be about, I had to read for validation. The End refers to not only the end of her relationship with guitarist Thurston Moore, but the end of Sonic Youth as a group. The official statement states they are now on a temporary hiatus so while fans are always hopeful for a reunion to happen, it’s most likely going to be “don’t bother waiting for the time being.” Reading that chapter is exhausting, only because I as a fan knew the story and what happened, and she explains part of what dissolved. She does get into it in detail but that happens only in the last part of the book.

From there, we bounce back to her childhood and how she became who she is through her mom and dad, essential factors in her upbringing. Also of importance is her older brother, and together they helped to provide what will become her interests, be it painting, writing, or music. It was a need to be creative, and she gets very detailed on her interests. While I am not someone who knows about fashion designers and obscure film directors, she mentions various people and things in a way that is very understandable, nerdy when it needs to be but always done in a way that has her creating a list for those who wish to look it up further. Her brother eventually became mentally ill to the point where he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, physically and mentally draining. While she did her share of traveling with her family, she knew that when it was the time, she would like to move on to somewhere further. In that time, we find out some of the people she dated, including Danny Elfman, another things I learned in this book.

In time she would make it to the East Coast and into New York City, and she clearly states that what she wanted to do was to be able to live independently, on her own terms, even if it meant living in a dingy Chinatown apartment that wasn’t glorious. It is where we learn about 84 Eldridge Street, the apartment where she got into exploring various New York clubs and venues, discovering new forms of music, meeting up with important people and meeting Thurston Moore for the first time. From that point on, the story explores in detail the journey Sonic Youth went through, from recording their first music in a basic recording studio to performing their first international shows to finding their way onto a major label and a bit of fame. While Sonic Youth were always known for their alternate tunings with their guitars, Gordon states that her bass were always one of the anchors of the band and was always tuned the same way for every song. Before the SY story is explored, she touches on her first live performance and how she wasn’t sure if she could do it but once she did it, she felt something she did not expect and one that she wanted to do repeatedly, which she would do for 30+ years. If you know about her story, she does mention people that is part of her path: Kathleen Hannah, Courtney Love, Julia Cafritz, Michael Stipe, Chloë Sevigny, Henry Rollins, and Kurt Cobain, whom she called a dear friend. Some of these people are discussed with the utmost respect while others were ridiculed in a manner that perhaps they ridiculed her.

She does talk about watching her daughter Coco grow up to eventually wanting to get involved in music in her own way but also going to college for the first time. By then, Gordon returns to what happened between her and Moore and one begins to have a greater sense of compassion for her as much more than just an artist. It may be nothing more than an appreciation for her as a person, but nothing wrong with that either. I also really like how this book was written. Outside of being direct and to the point, Girl In A Band is designed in a way that’s not unlike her music, a painting, or even a film. In fact the last chapter is done in a way where the reader may say :wait a minute: so what happened?” or “is there a moral to the story in the way you just told me?” For all I know, she could have been citing the end of a film like 400 Blows or something, where we see people around but the image stops and pans forward. What do we think? What should we think? Perhaps that’s the point in how Gordon told her memoir, to let everyone know about who Kim Gordon is, insecurities and concerns, hopes and dreams, hits and misses, and everything in between. If she’s going to throw out something random, she will and perhaps did. Or maybe the end of the book was written in a manner that is supposed to be. That’s why this book is called Girl In A Band because in a way, that’s who she wanted to be, became, and was. Through the process, she became a stronger person with a better sense of purpose. You may end up wanting to hear her discography from start to finish once you finish this, one of the best biographies I’ve read in some time.

(Girl In A Band will be released on February 24th. An audiobook version, in both CD and MP3 versions, will also be made available.)


FREE MP3 DL: “An Adventure To Pepperland Through Rhyme & Space”

If you read the title and know what Pepperland refers to, then you know it most likely has to do with The Beatles, and it does. Now you look at the graphic and are saying “but wait, I see Ol’ Dirty Bastard here. What’s going on?” In this case, it’s a remix project where Beatles samples were used to create new instrumentals for hip-hop songs. Look at all of the people who are on it, it’s insane. Here’s the track listing:
Part 1
Hello Hello – Edan
Mr Mustard – Big Daddy Kane
Second To None – Rakim
Taxman – The Notorius B.I.G.
Gentle Thief – Nas
Where I’m From – Large Professor
Country Grammar – Talib Kweli & Bun B
Parlay – J-Live
Twist – Salt-N-Pepper
Birthday Dedication – Busta Rhymes
Open Mic Session pt. 1 – Masta Ace, Percee P, Lord Finesse, Frankie Cutlass, Easy Mo Bee & KRS-One
Number Nine – YZ
Self Titled – Heltah Skeltah
Bang Bang – MOP
Pepper – Kool G Rap
Bring Your Friends – Public Enemy
Interlude / Bridge – MC Shan
Last Forever – Artifacts
For The Children – Freddie Foxxx
Ringo’s Big Beat Theme – Spoonie Gee
Hold Poppa’s Large Hand – Ultramagnetic MC’s
Open Mic Session pt. 2 – Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane & Rakim
The End – Run DMC & Afrika Bambaataa
Circles – Wu-Tang Clan
Brooklyn Walrus – Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Buckshot , Masta Ace & Special Ed
Part 2
Secrets – Slick Rick
Beneath The Diamond Sky – The Genius/GZA
Within Tomorrow – Busta Rhymes
The Beginning – Sunz Of Man
Gentle Drama – The RZA & Rugged Monk
Becausizm – KRS-One & Channel Live
Mary Jane – Tha Alkaholiks
Bong Water – Viktor Vaughn
Hold On
Love In Summertime – Ghostface Killah & Beyonce
And I Lover Her Crazy – Jay-Z & Beyonce
Ruffneck Soldier – MC Lyte
Hey! – Beastie Boys
Get Back To The City – Large Professor
Hard To Leave Home – Nas
The Flyest – AZ
And Who? – Heiroglyphics
Lonely Thoughts – The Notorious B.I.G.
Can You Dig It? – Gravediggaz
How To Smile – 2Pac & Scarface
A Day In New York – AZ, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah

Stream it in full above or if you just want to download it and carry it with you on your travels, head to

BOOK REVIEW: Frank Owen’s “Beastie Boys: Book Deluxe”

 photo BeastieBoysBOOK_cover_zps890f5e3f.jpg With a title like Book Deluxe (Sterling), you definitely would expect for a book about the Beastie Boys to be packed with a lot of information and photographs. Fortunately, Frank Owen does a very good job in a book that has the statement “unofficial and unauthorized” on the back cover, away to say that none of the surviving members of the Beastie Boys had a hand in offering information. What the book does offer is a nice history of how Adam Horovitz, Michael “Clarence” Diamond, and Adam Yauch grew up and eventually met each other. The Beastie Boys were of course not the three members we knew and loved, there was another guitarist and a female drummer. Eventually, Horovitz joined the group and became the boys we knew and loved.

The book is done up like a well written magazine article, in fact at times it feels as portions were either influenced by well written articles or done for an article meant to be in a magazine, but the realization was that “maybe this could be a book”. The book covers tours, performances, TV appearances, and of course the music. What was of interest to me was how Owen covered Paul’s Boutique, and while there were some portions that seemed historically incorrect, it was overshadowed by some of the goings on between Capitol Records and the group. The group had hoped for Capitol to promote the album very well, label said sure. However, when chart statistics and sales were lower than expected (one million shipped, but half were being returned back to the warehouse), a change in promotion lead to the hype department being laid to rest. What Capitol wanted was something equal to Licensed To Ill. While Paul’s Boutique released two singles, none of it was considered “hit” worthy, or at least equal to “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, nothing was dorky or stupid enough to compare. MC Hammer was growing in popularity by late 1989. Owen goes on to say that Capitol canceled their promotion for Paul’s Boutique because Donny Osmond’s new album was on its way, and they had to save time and money to blow that up. The group could have thrown in the hat and just gave up but fortunately, they had something to prove, which is what they would do for the remainder of the 1990’s. At the same time, each of the members showed how they were growing up individually and as a group, which only helped to keep them stronger as the Beastie Boys.

The sad thing is while a lot of information is given towards the recording and development of Licensed To Ill, Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, and Ill Communication, the coverage of Hello Nasty and To The Five Boroughs is extremely limited, and barely anything was discussed concerning The Mix-Up and Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2. So if you are looking for something on the level of the 33 1/3 book series, don’t expect that. What you will find is the story of three bad brothers that you wanted to know so well after hearing about them, and then wanting to know more about their histories, if only on the surface. Beastie Boys: Book Deluxe may not be a true deluxe effort, but it does offer a way to let people know why they mattered and why people will still care in the future, all packaged in a nice boxed cover.


DUST IT OFF: Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique”…25 years later

To say I’ve been waiting for this day to arrive is putting it lightly. When that Tuesday in 1989 happened, I went out to buy the album. I played it and did not know what to expect, even thought I had bought the Love American Style EP with “Hey Ladies” and “Shake Your Rump”. Once the album was over, I knew I would be around for 25 years to talk about its greatness. It would be too easy to say “its legacy” but that’s for others to decide. In the words of Phil Collins, I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life. I remember what I was like when I was 18: unsure of where my life would lead but I had good rap music to get me through. I wasn’t specifically thinking “what will I be writing about when I’m 43 years old?” Now here I am, and I’m able to look back 25 years in history, about to talk about what the Beastie Boys’ second album has meant to me.

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The moment I first heard “Hey Ladies”, I knew that this was a special song. I recognized some of the samples as if it was a part of my musical upbringing. with The Commodores’ “Machine Gun” starting things off. I recognized Kool & The Gang’s “Jungle Boogie” and being a fan of 70’s rock, I definitely caught the “Ballroom Blitz” (Sweet) reference. I knew Roger’s “So Rough, So Rough” was in there. In the video version, I knoew that the funky Hammond B-3 came courtesy of “Hush” by Deep Purple. All of these sounds were an accumulation of goodness, but little did I know that this small dose of accumulation would become mere drops towards the recipe that would be Paul’s Boutique.

When I first heard “To All The Girls”, I was sitting back, enjoying the funky laid back vibe and wondering what was about to happen. Then came “Shake Your Rump”, interrupting the song that opened the album and it was their way of saying “let’s begin… NOW!” I loved how solid the soundscape was, each sample was coming at a pace similar to Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising, and I loved the randomness of it all, at least at first. One sample followed one another, as if it was just thrown in for good measure, and it was almost too much to handle. In fact, it was too much to handle, but it felt like a massive musical orgasm, and yet it kept on getting better. I was thinking to myself “if this is not the climax, how is this album going to wrap up?” That would come, heh, later.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t take to “Johnny Ryall” at first, although what I did take to was the wind that segued “Shake Your Rump” and “Johnny Ryall”. That was the wind that was a segue between Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days” and “A Pillow Of WInds”. With the Beastie Boys now signed to Capitol Records, I was also wondering if they were trying to be Beatlesque in some fashion. I wasn’t sure, but I wouldn’t have an answer until the end of the album. It would be years before I fully got into “Johnny Ryall”, that off-center guitar sample was a bit of a turn-off at first but once I got into it, I felt the song was an essential part of the record. However, I did love “Eggman”, enjoying the “Superfly” sample from Curtis Mayfield, along with brief glimpses of Public Enemy’s “Bring The Noise” (my favorite P.E. song). “High Plains Drifter” seemed like a new Beastie Boys to me, as they were talking about going somewhere to rob people, a topic they never really touched on with Licensed To Ill. Were the Beastie Boys trying to become a bit on the hardcore side a la N.W.A or Ice-T, or was this something else? I did catch the Loggins & Messina sample for “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and again, it was as if the album so far was having flashbacks of my childhood, but in a unique and (oddly) funky way.

The first Beatles comparisons would happen with “The Sound Of Science”, when they were getting educational while rapping over “When I’m Sixty-Four”, which then lead to manipulations of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”, and “The End”, throwing in Boogie Down Production’s “My Philosophy” for the hell of it, then squeezing in some James Brown at the right moment.

The ping pong came that introduced “3-Minute Rule” seemed completely random, as if we were either listening to the guys in the studio or just… I don’t know, some backroom ping pong game happening. It was with this song that I started to take some of the lyrics to heart, as something that wasn’t just mere words to guffaw at. Ad Rock’s verse that closed the song hit me first:
Are you experienced little girl
I want to know what goes on in your little girl world
Cause I’m on your mind, it’s hard to forget me
I’ll take your pride for a ride if you let me

MCA’s verse was very clever in a number of ways, and while the album did have a lyric sheet, the words were so small that it was difficult at times to go through it, yet we did, trying to go along with the stories they were telling us:
It’s just two wheels and me the wind in my eyes
The engine is the music and my nine’s by my side
Cause you know Y. A. U. C. H.
I’m takin’ all MC’s out in the place
Takin’ life as it comes no fool am I
I’m goin’ off gettin’ paid and I don’t ask why
Playin’ beats on my box makin’ music for the many
Know a lotta def girls that would do anything
A lot of parents like to think I’m a villain
I’m just chillin’ like Bob Dylan
I smoke cheeba it helps me with my brain
I might be a little dusted but I’m not insane

Mike D.’s verse was very twisted in its own way, more puzzles and required deciphering but anyone who had ever rejected his wit before had to recommend it after his verse:
I got lucky, I brought home a kitten
Before I got busy I slipped on the mitten
Can’t get better odds cause I’m a sure thing
Proud Mary keeps on turning rolling like a Ring Ding
Jump the turnstile never pay the toll
Doo wa diddy bust with the pre-roll
Customs jails me over an herb seed
Don’t rat on your boy over some rat weed

Did we want to know what the three-minute rule really was, or did it truly matter? Each Beastie had a minute to make an exchange before bailing out, and that was that. Then Side 1 ended with “Hey Ladies” and the album so far felt like a moving thing. What could Side 2 give us?

Flipping the tape over (I bought the cassette of Paul’s Boutique first before I bought the CD and different vinyl pressings), Paul’s Boutique began with… a country song? Bluegrass? What the hell was going on? Ad Rock was talking about cooking up at a barbeque and everyone seemed like they were having a great time. It then cuts right into “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun”, which was incredibly funky too. I caught Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen” sample when it happened. To me, the song had a slight “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” feel, which was the band’s metal-ish track from Licensed To Ill. This new song had powerful guitar and bass riffs, but are these samples or are they being played? We really wouldn’t know until they released a video for the song, featuring outtakes from the recording sessions.

“Car Thief” was another laid back song, and what I had liked about Paul’s Boutique was that there were a number of laid back songs, where the music was at a lower tempo/BPM, samples influenced from different sources that might not be considered obvious choices. In fact, it was obvious that this album was not full of obvious sample choices. I could spot a few, but not each and every one, and as someone who was interested in knowing the song’s ingredients, I had to know more. The album, as it was customary back then, didn’t have sample credits, so it had to be a learning process. As a record collector, that meant hunting it down in real time, at real places. More on this later. What I also caught was a sample of Max Yasgur, the owner of the land whose farm became the backdrop for the Woodstock Music & Art Fair between August 15-18, 1969. As a kid who fell in love with the soundtrack album and movie for Woodstock, hearing that brief “I’m a farmer” sample made me excited. Why was that one second sample in there? Oh, because MCA didn’t buy weed, but he grew it because he was a farmer. Or so he said.

I couldn’t get enough of this album, but then came the drums from Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick” in “What Comes Around Goes Around”. Did I also hear Led Zep’s “How Many More Times” in there? I would later learn that the guitar riffs I was assuming were Led Zep was actually Alice Cooper’s “It’s Hot Tonight” from his 1977 album Lace and Whiskey, but I wouldn’t know this until much later. What I also loved in “What Comes Around” was the piano ample that didn’t say on tempo, it seemed to go slightly off center as it made its way close to the end of the bars.

“Shadrach” was funky from start to finish, and at the time I wasn’t aware the main sample was done by Rose Royce, nor did I know the “hey” sample and the many other lyrics heard came courtesy of “Loose Booty” by Sly & The Family Stone. I was familiar with Sly and some of his albums but I hadn’t heard the Small Talk album yet. I knew it was one my auntie had in her collection, and I would eventually learn that if my auntie had certain albums I couldn’t find anywhere else, it might be really good. Eventually I borrowed that album and heard the samples in question. The song ends with a drum sample from the familiar “Funky Drummer” by James Brown before it is interrupted by a radio commercial for this clothing store. Did a clothing store called Paul’s Boutique actually exist? If it did, did it match with the photo of the store on the cover? It sounds Jamaican, was this store in Kingston and… no, the voice says you had to call 718-498-1043 and it was in Brooklyn. I said to myself that if this store really existed, I would have to go to Brooklyn to find it. Then the album would begin a slow ride home and eventually come on itself.

While the Fat Boys were considered the first group to release a hip-hop concept album, no one had ever done a mini hip-hop opera before, in the same way The Beatles did with Side 2 of Abbey Road. Your typical hip-hop song was three to four minutes, longer if it was extended on the 12″ single. “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” came out of nowhere, a 12 1/2 minute song with nine mini-songs. Was it their version of Abbey Road, or were they pulling off A Who tactic and making their own A Quick One. What does a bouillabaisse from a B-boy consist of? It seemed to be a massive soup of different stories from different places, with different moods and textures, and just when I was able to get into one section of the song, it cuts off or ends and goes into another. The bouillabaisse became an adventure into itself, I tried to piece it together and see if all of it fit, or if there was some grand message being said? After repeated listens, it seemed like the full song was a day in the life of the Beastie Boys, starting off by getting dressed at “59 Chrystie Street” before they went throughout their afternoon. You also had a song that was in half (“Get On The Mic” and “Mike On The Mic”), and by the time it reached the end, you realized the Beastie Boys were either at their own concert or basement party, rocking the crowd for what felt like hours before they said “goodnight everybody”. Then the album ended where it began, as if it was Pink Floyd’s The Wall. This album was dedicated to all of the girls, but you couldn’t helot that it was very much for all B-boys too.

After the first time I played the album, I couldn’t believe what I just heard. It was an experience in hip-hop I had never heard before, not in that way. I understood some of the connections and the decoupage feel, but it felt as if there was much more. Did I truly know what the album meant, or was this going to be similar to those Russian dolls where one opened to find another to find another to find another? For me, with a love for knowing the samples I detected, Paul’s Boutique would eventually become a lifelong trek to discover each and every sound that constructed this masterpiece. Not only would I hunt down albums, compilations, and 45’s, but there were also times when I’d listen to a local AM radio station that played oldies songs and out of nowhere, as I’m sitting in the Alberton’s parking lot, I would say “THAT’S THAT SAMPLE! THE RECORD WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME THE ENTIRE TIME!” I have a friend in Arizona whom I’d correspond with through the mail and every few months, I’d write out a few songs I may have discovered since the last letter. It would be years before I jumped on the internet for the first time and even when I did, there was no WhoSampled, no TheBreaks, no Crates mailing list, no place named, I was on my own hunt and I wasn’t sure if it mattered. When I finally got into the internet, I learned there were many other Paul’s Boutique fans, also keeping track of samples too. When there was a Paul’s Boutique sample reference page, I noticed there were a number of songs not listed. I contributed a few, and my name is now a part of their database.

I put together a Paul’s Boutique tribute album in 1999 for the 10th anniversary, which I originally was going to do in full but decided to ask for contributions from my online friends. With each other passing anniversary, I made sure to listen to the album from start to finish, as pilgrimage of some sort. I wanted to know more about the album, the photographs, the recording sessions, and even when there was a 33 1/3 book for it, I felt there still had to be more to learn. I want to see the tape session boxes, the track notes, anything and everything.

To this day, I swear that I still hear myself in the album too. At the extreme beginning of “Dropping Names”. There is a brief sample of Ad Rock where he allegedly said “take PCP’. However, I used to be a radio DJ at a local high school station, and it sounds exactly like my voice back then. There is a funeral home here called the Bruce Lee Memorial Chapel, and my guess is that the Beastie Boys may have come here to take a look sometime in 1988, only to learn that the Bruce Lee in question was not the Chinese kung fu master, but an old white man. My guess is that if one of them turned on the radio, they discovered a radio station and with some small change, I happened to be on the air. Every time I hear “Dropping Names”, I hear what sounds like my voice saying “KTCV”, the radio station I was on. I’ve always wanted to get in touch with Ad Rock and say “hey, can you allow me to hear the multi-tracks of that song just so I can truly hear if it’s me or it’s really you.”

Egos aside, Paul’s Boutique is an album that is part of an almighty trilogy that represents 15 months of incredible and highly influential music. It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back began in April 1988, 3 Feet High And Rising came into play in March 1989, and the trilogy ended on July 25, 1989. The amount of music, knowledge, and education in these three albums are beyond what I can talk about in one article, it would require books. As someone who was a fan of the music, it was these three albums that made me realize that perhaps I could be a hip-hop producer too. All I had was cassette decks and a way with pause buttons, all I needed was the money to move and find my way to the recording studios in bigger cities and make myself known. I never got that chance, but the magic heard in these albums continue to influence me years later. With Paul’s Boutique, maybe it’s true that the boutique in question covers a time and place, an era of hip-hop that was slowly fading away. Upon its release, it was roughly 15 years away from its origins, and people were already worried about the integrity that existed. It’s a timepiece, a placard, a statement that the Beastie Boys said to say “this is where we came from, this is what moved us to become rappers, this is what made us, this is us as much as it is you.” All of us who lived back then, whether we were too young or showing age and maturity, either spent time in that boutique or wanted to find it, or something close to it. It was a dream place, or perhaps a place we still wanted but knew it was a part of history we could never return to. If the late 80’s lead to a moment where we wondered if this rap music would prove itself to be just a fad, Paul’s Boutique was the Beastie Boys’ and the Dust Brothers’ way of saying what they experienced, what they wanted to do, what they fantasized about, what they wanted to accomplish. It was the Dust Brothers’ ode to radio mixes, something you could only catch at 12midnight, if not between 3am to 6am. Rap music was what you had to seek and when you did, you were tired on your ass but you kept listening. Or if you fell asleep, you knew you had a cassette running on your boom box. In the end, Paul’s Boutique was Disneyland and even if it didn’t exist anymore, we could return to it for 53 minutes at a time.


BOOK’S JOOK: Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies”/”Shake Your Rump”

  • Book’s Jook is a column dedicated to placing a record within my dream jukebox, if I were to have one. The Seeburg jukebox shown below is similar to the one I have wanted since I was a kid. To read more on why I started this column, click here.

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    By the time I bought this 45 in August 1989, I had already fallen in love with Paul’s Boutique. I bought the cassingle of the Love American Style EP first before I picked up the 12″ for it, so “Hey Ladies” was something that was well known not only from what I had, but also from the video, which had a significant amount of airplay on MTV and BET. This was the follow-up to Licensed To Ill and it confused people because: the Beastie Boys went disco and the image in the video just seemed too weird for fans and viewers. Did this lead to millions of fans say “I’ve had it with these guys, they’re has-beens, I’m done”? Maybe, but it did keep a number of people interested because they liked what was perceived as weird. One of those people was me.

    “Hey Ladies” seemed odd to find on 45 because by 1989, most singles were either purchased as 12″ singles or cassette singles. The 45rpm single was still around, I had my copies of records by Tone Loc and Young MC in the format but other than that, it was becoming more difficult to find the hits on 45, even if they were made. The cassingle was king, and the rise in the CD single along with the growing dominance of the compact disc pretty much made those records a dated format, despite the fact people wanted it. Yet it was cool to have and cool to find when I was up at a record store in Spokane. I should’ve bought three copies, if not five, but one copy was what I could buy, and I did. It came in a generic Capitol sleeve, with the B-side being “Shake Your Rump”, just like the Love American Style EP. I drove home and it was cool to hear on 45. Paul’s Boutique is an album perfect for vinyl, and yet I bought it on LP a number of times, plus the CD and cassette. For me, it didn’t matter, but the 45 was a cherished item to have because I didn’t know if I would ever see it again, definitely not in the town I lived in.

    The only thing that was bad about the 45 was that the mixes used were taken from the album, not the 12″ mix so you could hear a brief excerpt of the wind from Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days” as the extreme end of “Shake Your Rump”. I always thought it was odd, considering the 12″ had a proper mix ready made. Otherwise, to have both songs as a 45 was, and still is, very cool.

    I’m making this record a part of my installment of Book’s Jook this week because July 25th is the 25th anniversary of Paul’s Boutique. I’ve been waiting for this day, partly because I had intentions of going to the corner of Rivington and Ludlow in Manhattan, where the cover photo was shot. I wanted to be there to make my pilgrimage. When I was in New York City for the first and only time in my life, I was only 16 minutes away from that corner, but I played it safe. I just went to Tower Records in a taxi, walked to Midnight Records, walked back up to my hotel near Times Square, and that was that. There was little adventure that week other than going to New Music Seminar 11, eating a hot dog and finding Coconut Yoo-Hoo, but I was in the city where rap music was born, that was good enough for me. However, the next time I am in New York City, I have a lot of plans and one of them is to make it to the corner of Rivington and Ludlow, to say thank you in my own way.


  • DUST IT OFF: Beastie Boys’ “Love American Style EP”…25 years later

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    Before the first day of summer 1989, there was a greater than great buzz for the follow up to the Beastie Boys’ debut album, Licensed To Ill (Def Jam). It wasn’t just about the music, as the Beastie Boys were a group who received a level of buzz that was quite different from your ordinary rappers. Then again, it was 1989, there wasn’t something called an “ordinary rapper”, or at least everyone was doing something to be original, and the Beastie Boys were definitely not like anyone else. Fans knew the group had jumped ship from Def Jam to Capitol Records, on top of moving from New York City to Los Angeles, partly because the Beastie Boys had enough of their former label and needed to find not only a change of pace, but freedom. Def Jam threw out a lawsuit, claiming the Beastie Boys owed them a contractual album, and they were going to do anything in their power to release an album, even if it was without their permission. That album was said to have been called The White House, complete with production from those who were a part of Def Jam’s roster, including Chuck D. By the time the summer of 1989 came about, when the final second album was released, then the news changed. Chuck D. was allegedly quoted as saying something to the effect of “once he heard the actual album, he knew the group were in good hands”, his way of saying that he wasn’t going to handle any part of the production as Carl Ryder. Chuck D.’s own pseudonum as one-quarter of the production team known as The Bomb Squad. However, that’s a jump ahead for what was a sneak preview of that second album, Paul’s Boutique (Capitol).

    Paul’s Boutique was supposed to be everything the industry wanted it to be: the best follow-up of Licensed To Ill, the worst follow-up to Licensed To Ill, there were a lot of things discussed but no one could quite guess what their direction would be. Would it be more of the same, a rehash of the old formula, or could it be the future? Will the Beastie Boys be able to go past the sophomore slump or would they prove to be a one-album wonder. The Beastie Boys were loved, as much as they were hated, for their drunken college rhyme schemes and nothing more. There was definitely a clever side to their pranks and humor, but people seemed to love them for their childish ways as much as people didn’t. They were white guys and nothing more, but those who did hear more were anxious to know what they’d come up with next.

    The Love American Style EP was far from what anyone expected. The title was based on the 1970’s sitcom of the same name, so on that alone the group were setting a mood. What type of mood, not quite known yet. The cover photo was taken with a fish-eyed lens of three women posing around in a red, white, and blue=painted kitchen. Trippy, psychedelic, far out, but what did it mean? Does it mean anything. The EP consisted of the first two hits-to-be from Paul’s Boutique, the big single being “Hey Ladies”.

    If music videos were already becoming, for some, the sole way to be literal about a song, then fans watched the disco-era clothing and scenery of the video and wondered why did the Beastie Boys turn disco? Keep in mind too that in 1989, the link between hip-hop and disco was not something thoroughly discussed or investigated, for there wasn’t a hip-hop mainstream media just yet. If you were to read about topics like that in the mainstream, you might catch it in Spin, but rap music was still rap music, it was the end of the decade. The music was still kicking it, but people were also wondering of rap music would become a fad of the 80’s and return to obscurity once 1990 found itself on the calendar. “Hey Ladies” began with a sample from The Commodores’ “Machine Fun”, a funky song that might not be stereotypically disco but caught a group that made some feel its 1970’s splendor. Listeners seemed to refuse to detach the disco-era feel of the video with the song, which left some confused. Meanwhile, those who watched the video and saw a Foghat 8-track, heard the Deep Purple sample, and heard lyrics like “take my advice, at any price/a gorilla like your mother is mighty weak, man” and “woke up in the morning with a one ton ho” were catching something new, that something else was going on that had nothing to do with the Licensed To Ill experience. Either you got “Hey Ladies” at first or you didn’t. I could sense the disco-ness of the song but it seemed a lot more than just flat out disco. The Roger, Deep Purple, and Kool & The Gang sample puzzle felt as if there was a lot more going on, quick glimpses from other records that felt more original than Licensed To Ill. I wanted to hear more.

    While “Hey Ladies” was the introduction to what was to come on their second album, the first song on Love American Style EP was the incredibly funky “Shake Your Rump”. It seemed further from the first album but felt more like what was going on in rap music at the time. It felt modern, as if you could put this next to De La Soul, The D.O.C., MC Lyte, Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo, Kid ‘N’ Play or Boogie Down Productions and it would match with everything else on a mix tape. What I loved about “Shake Your Rump”, outside of the samples, was how they were more than happy to pass the mic to one another as if they were on a basketball court or basement and just throw rhymes to one another. There were different levels, depths, and textures in the same song, as if one could hear each verse distinctly, going into a different room (or a multitude of rooms) before making it to the outside. The moment I heard the line “disco bag dropping and you doing the bump”, followed by the “shake your rump-pah” sample, and heard the crowd going nuts while another sample was being scratched. I went absolutely crazy. This felt right, as if this was the block party in New York City I had to be in, and I wanted to be a part of this place.

    No one outside of the group or CapitoL Records had any sense of what this new album would be like. No one saw the cover, no one knew the vinyl pressing had an 8-panel gatefold. There was a buzz for what was new, but outside of “Hey Ladies” or “Shake Your Rump”, there were no other hints. “33% Is God” and “Dis Yourself In ’89 (Just Do It)” were nothing more than instrumental versions of the two songs, but were they? They weren’t quite remixes, it seemed what the Beastie Boys and producers The Dust Brothers did was enhance an instrumental by creating individual songs that could be enjoyed on its own. Years later, when the background for John King, Mike Simpson, and Matt Dike were learned, you realized why they did sound like a mix tape, or an old radio aircheck: they wanted it to be like that. Imagine tuning into a radio frequency in the distance and finally catching something that feels good. If you were in a car, you’d drive to the limits of the city and keep on driving so you could listen to that frequency until the gas ran out. You knew if you drove just outside of the city limits, you may not ever get that frequency again. This is what Paul’s Boutique would sound like, but no one 25 years ago knew that in full yet. I’d like to think a lot of people don’t know that now. The sound was meant to capture a time and place, and a feeling that already didn’t exist. 25 years after the fact, we’re still wondering how so many forgot to keep the spirit alive. Fortunately, there are many who know the full strength of the album that was to come.


    AUDIO: Maximum Hedrum’s “RoboSexual (Ad-Rock Remix)”

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    Ad Rock has always dabbled in producing and remixing long before BS2000 and 41 Small Stars became known, but he seems to be back into it again with this remix of Maximum Hedrum’ “RoboSexual”. What is a robosexual? Does it mean that a robot is a sexual being, or does it mean to be a being, sexually, with a robot? Maybe these answers are in the song, but mostly likely they’re not. Get down to the groove with this great remix.

    SOME STUFFS: Adam “MCA” Yauch To Be Honored At 2013 Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

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    The 9th Annual Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival will be held from July 10th through the 13th with a number of artists scheduled to perform, including Redman, EPMD, Pusha T, and Dizzy Wright. On the last day of the festival, Adam Yauch will be honored for his role and participation in hip-hop during his lifetime as a member of the Beastie Boys. Full details of the tribute will be announced soon.

    There are sure to be other artists joining the lineup, along with on-the-day surprises so for more information, head to

    AUDIO: Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic/3 The Hard Way/Electrify (Sentric Remix)”

    In honor of the late MCA, Honolulu’s DJ Sentric has created another Beastie Boys tribute mix in the form of combining three tracks:
    1) Intergalactic
    2) 3 The Hard Way
    3) Electrify

    To hear some of his more recent mixes, click to his Soundcloud page or check up on where he may be next by heading to his Facebook page.