REVIEW: DJ QBert’s “Extraterrestrial”

 photo DJQBertEx_cover_zpsac6323f2.jpg If you purchased DJ Q-Bert’s new album GalaXXXian recently, then you may have known that he released two albums on the same day. If GalaXXXian was the one you purchase, then you definitely have to pick up Extraterrestrial (Thud Rumble). Compared to GalaXXXian, Extraterrestrial is more on the experimental side, or at least it’s a lot looser, freakier, and free. If you’ve already built yourself up with the way QBert communicates with his turntables and sampling machines, then you’ll enjoy the new dialogue, careful use of sound dialects, and new languages he has discovered for everyone. It’s extra not because it’s out of this world, but because it’s the continuation of what he has continued to do for 20+ years, to where he is partly involved in a lost, if not almost forgotten, way of speak, so consider this a preservation of the art of communication. Yes, it’s damn good hip-hop, it’s fantastic turntalbism, but there’s also things that are cultural too, and I don’t mean hip-hop culture, that’s by default. Again, the communication that is going on is there, and while it may not say a thing to you (it may very well be just gibberish), it’s the gathering of the vinyl tribes that show a way for people to unite in a way that is slowly becoming impossible. Well, maybe not to that degree, but maybe what’s more other-worldly in modern times is us, mortal earthlings, surviving on this planet until we eventually find our way out. Maybe QBert is offering guidance as a way to keep everyone safe and sound, with sound, until the inevitable happens. Whether you take this as a completely different album or one half of an equation, you have to hear them both ways in order to enjoy and benefit from it. May the 33 1/3 rotations continue.


REVIEW: DJ Q-Bert’s “GalaXXXian”

 photo DJQBert_cover_zpsc401b65f.jpg Considering what he has made and released since the release of 1998’s Wave Twisters, it’s amazing that DJ Q-Bert is considering this a follow-up to it. Or in truth, one of two follow-ups, as Q-Bert is releasing two different albums that’s being considered a “double album”, but I would like to explore one of them, GalaXXXian (Thud Rumble). As always, Q-Bert is on a level that very few people, if anyone, are at, still scratching and manipulating any and all sounds via turntables and then taking things to new levels. He speaks with his hands in a dialect that Terminator X couldn’t comprehend 28 years ago, but Thud Rumble isn’t the only one creating a self-made dialogue, for he has a number of special friends on here. Honolulu’s own Tassho Pearce does his amazing thing in “Room Service”, and throughout the album you’ll also hear Camille Velasco, El-P, Mr. Lif, P.E.A.C.E., Kool Keith, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Rosco Umali, among many more. Songs range from going to the next twelve universes to getting deep in the crotch of special lady friends, and many other weird and zany tales that have become one of many of Q-Bert’s trademarks.

Another trademark used to be one of hip-hop’s own trademarks, which is to be as diverse as possible to show not only other people your influences but to give people something that they will need. GalaXXXian proves that Richard Quitevis will not stop traveling for anyone, including himself, and he will continue to find new places and share his adventures for centuries to come.


VIDEO: Baby DJ School (from Vice)

It was David Bowie who once said “I am a DJ, I am what I play, I got believers believing in me”. It was De La Soul who once said “everybody wants to be a DJ”. In 2014, it seems DJ’s are a dime a dozen and anyone who feels they can push a button is the DJ equivalent of Cup Noodles: just add hot water. A New York lady has started a DJ School for babies, and it can be argued that many of today’s so-called DJ’s, specifically of the adult variety, could benefit from this school.

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: DJ Manipulator’s “M.O.P. Adlibs”

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for the second installment of Sounds Familiar Records’ Long Hot Summer series. This time it’s a preview from the forthcoming album by DJ Manipulator called Dusted the F%#ck Out. It’s an album for all DJ’s and turntablists out there, as all of the music was constructed and developed by DJ Manipulator himself. The track is called “M.O.P. Adlibs” and one could easily develop this into a number of healthy songs.

Dusted the F%#ck Out will be relased later in the year, and vinyl junkies will be happy to know that this will be released in your preferred format.

(NOTE: If you missed the first installment of the Long Hot Summer MP3 series, you may click here.)

VIDEO: Parallel’s “California Mindstate”

Oil is way too expensive these days, so stop being thirsty for that Texas tea. California is the place you oughta be when it comes to hip-hop, and Parallel are proof of this. “California Mindstate” shows what they’re about and have been about for almost 15 years. This is from their most recent album Dont’ Sleep, but they have a new one due out later this year called No More Secrets so stop whispering: let people know why Parallel rocks and rocks well.

REVIEW: J-Rocc’s “Some Cold Rock Stuf”

Photobucket The best hip-hop DJ’s/producers out there are those who are known to “speak” with their hands, a way of talking about their skills on the 1’s and 2’s (and in Cut Chemist‘s case, 3’s, 4’s, and sometimes 13.7’s). Anyone who respects DJ’ing and turntablism knows that J-Rocc has always been a hero for those skills and simply knowing how to rock the party/moment/atmopshere at any time. He reads the crowds, and rather than give them what they want, he may say “this record is definitely what you need to eat, now fit in”. After 19 years of solid work with the Beat Junkies, countless collaborations and live sets on his own, J-Rocc has finally released an album under his own name.

The title says it all: Some Cold Rock Stuf Stones Throw. The tracks here are a nice selection of quality samples, basslines, and beats, but they are well-constructed sound structures in their own right, not just a mere beat tape everyone will rip from and say “yeah, I found this shit”. I would say if you like the works of DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, RJD2, Nobody, and El-P, you will find a bit of commonality in Some Cold Rock Stuf. I think this is an album J-Rocc has always been capable of doing but… why he waited so long, I don’t know but I’m glad he did it and did it in this fashion. Those who are audio/sound/sample junkies will love this from start to finish, wondering what he did to make these somewhat-familiar sounds sound the way they do. Are they filtered, are they 8k or 16k or did he run them on cassette before transferring them back to digital? Here to know and you to sound it out. It’s a damn good album that’l’l make other self-proclaim beat junkies give up their records and become janitors.

(You can order this on vinyl, CD, and digital directly from Stones Throw Records, or from the Amazon links shown below.)

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: DJ Nu-Mark’s “Take Me With You”

DJ Nu_Mark is someone who I’ve been wanting to hear a lot more of for the last ten years. I’m a lifelong devotee of the Cut Chemist way of life, but there were moments on Jurassic 5‘s albums where I said “yes, now Nu-Mark will get some prime time shine too.” He has been relatively low-key compared to his Less Than Six partner, but he’s about to drop what is said to be the first of a number of mixes and productions to come in the new year, here’s the first.

This one is called Take Me With You, and is described as an audio guide on your musical trip around the world. This has an island/tropical feel, perfect for those of us who are suffering from the bone chilling temperatures. You can download an excerpt of it right now by clicking here (19.1mb). The full mix will be released on January 18th.

FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Super 7 Volume 4

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Here’s a new mix called Super 7 Vol. 4, featuring DJ Jayceeoh, Cosmo Baker, The Captains Of Industry, U-Tern, Skratch Bastid, Thee Mike B, Ross One.

You can take a look at the full track listing by clicking here.

REVIEW: DJ Shadow’s “Def Surrounds Us” / “I’ve Been Trying” (limited edition 12″ single)

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Last week Friday, a Twitter friend tells me that nine minutes before he sent his message, DJ Shadow made an announcement that he pressed up a limited edition of a 12″ single that would be a mere preview of what’s to come from his forthcoming album. To make it even more interesting, the 12″ single would be made available for free, with only one record for each customer. With nine minutes passed, there was no way I could score a copy, and when I visited Shadow’s website with the record offer, it stated all records were sold out. However, there was a statement which stated that some carts might be emptied, so there might be a chance to obtain a record. I primarily use the Firefox browser but it didn’t work, no matter how many times I refreshed. I switched browsers (Opera), and in a minute, a cart popped up and I clicked. Boom, copy obtained. An hour later, I was sent a receipt indicating the record would be shipped that day, which meant since Shadow HQ and I are on the same coast, I would get that record on Monday.

It’s (only) Monday…

My copy of the 12″ single arrived today, and the cover is a trip. It’s an illustrated cover, and I believe each of the 100 covers sent out were individually drawn. No credit to the artist, but my edition looks like a cross between the small white box on the bottom of the back cover of Led Zeppelin II
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and a freaky, hairy testicle, along with a little mouse on the upper left that looks like it’s waving. The record itself is thick (180g perhaps) and on blue vinyl, spinning at 45rpm for optimum sound quality. Matrix reveals the record was mastered at Abbey Road. Nice.

  • The music is what you want to know about, right? This is incredible. For the two songs, the days of Endtroducing aree long gone, as if he’s found a comfort zone to play with between stages of Psyence Fiction, The Private Press, and The Outsider. If you’ve listened to anything he has done in between albums, the mixing, sampling/chopping style, and soundscape textures should come as no surprise, as he has always played around with moving to new places.
  • “Def Surround Us” is an uptempo track that has a slight Goldie/Roni Size feel, imagine Shadow if he was doing Timeless and “Share The Fall” in the mid-90’s instead of “Hardcore (Instrumental) Hip-Hop”. The song goes through a lot of moods, from loud to delicate, and just as I felt it was about to fade into the distance, it comes back. When the choir comes in at around the 4:58 mark , it’s chicken skin inducing. As the song fades out, it seems to show hints of “Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt” and “Giving Up The Ghost”, as if a bit of musical continuity is at play.
  • “I’ve Been Trying” features male vocals and is on the mellow melancholy side a la “Six Days”. To my ears, Shadow has always been subtle in how he uses his samples, not only to make great sounding songs, but to convey messages that are only meant to be known between him and his intended target. “I’ve Been Trying” is a love song, or at least a song with a romantic tone, and you can listen to it as if you’ve been driving on an endless highway and you’ve tuned into a frequency unknown. The music comforts you, and you share the warmth of that dedication, along with the fading warmth of the sunset. It’s that kind of song, like a Zabriskie Point-type of excursion but without a building exploding at half speed.
  • Shadow has always went out of his way to try something new, even when fans have wanted him to hang on to the sounds they were i(e)ntroduced with. This is music from a producer who has progressed from a mere lover of hip-hop, obscure beats and samples to someone who has developed into someone firmly in control of the way he manipulates sound, in whatever context he feels. Even when it may sound like he’s in total control, there’s that desire to scratch that itch and find new things to remedy the situation. It was journalist Paul Morley who called his group, Art Of Noise, “a spanner in the works”, and that has been Shadow’s unspoken motto for twenty years.

    Don’t call it a comeback, DJ Shadow has been here for years, but musically, someone will answer in sample form and say “it’s the awesome return of Uncle”. Josh, that is.

  • FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Cut Chemist’s “Disco Is Dead (1973-1979)”

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    Even with the brand new release of Cut Chemist‘s Sound Of The Police (review forthcoming), he has come out with an all new morsel of audio goodness, this time touching on the sounds of disco. It seems with each passing generation, more are appreciating disco for what it was or is, since its spirit still lives on in a good amount (keyword “good”) of today’s dance sounds. Cut Chemist goes exploring in this mix which you can find by clicking to I also highly recommend the mixes by Dante Carfagna, Dâm-Funk and Peanut Butter Wolf, Carlos Niño and Nobody, although each of the mixes on the page are free, so no excuse but to download, listen, and enjoy.

    (UPDATE {July 5, 2013}: Cut Chemist has posted this mix on his Bandcamp page, so stream and listen or DL it below.)