Friday! It was finally here. I always look forward to getting back home. I was even more excited to be back at my 2nd home at Snapback LBC.
It wouldn't be a typical day in my life if a few things didn't go well.
It began as any other day would, though. I got the kids ready and sent off to school. I do these trips home often. You'd think that my luggage packing skills would be phenomenal by now. My attire and toiletries were all ready to go. So was I. Or, so I thought.
I didn't have to rush to the airport because I had booked a later flight that usual. I'm driving down the 880. My DJ backpack/carry on was riding shotgun. I was almost near the Dumbarton Bridge when I think 'oh, yeah, i should do a quick OCD check of the contents of my bag. Laptop-check. Hard drive-check. Headphones. ...... . . . . ... . I laughed as I sipped my coffee. It wouldn't be typical if I didn't forget something rather critical. Damn. I took to text because I thought this particular person would get a kick out of this..
I was kidding about the laptop.
I made it through security swiftly. I had a little bit of time prior to boarding so I was able to go through music. To bring light to the headphone thing, I also thought it would be "fun" to then text Remark to say I forgot my hard drive. He has a lot going on during the day of for SnapBack that had I been hard driveless, it might have stressed him out a bit. Me, being his bff, can get away with being a punk. He almost fell for it. He also didn't think it was as funny as I thought it was.
It was time to board. First class is the only way to go. I already needed a drink.....and some tea, some gummy bears and cookies...and.....
Fast forward to the evening. A few weeks back I had "accidentally" had my system upgraded to El Capitan. Now, if you know, this update is rather problematic for Scratch Live. I worked the hack at home back then and thought, ok, this might affect me at home because in my home studio I run the Rane 57. Snapback runs the 62. I thought since my system was running smoothly at home, the 62 should read.
My Best Friend and I headed into The Federal Underground early to sound check. We especially wanted to make sure my system would read on the 62. Negative. At this point a single tear was welling in my eye. We ran updates for Scratch DJ and all that first. In my heart, I knew I needed to run my "hack" that I ran at home. But, I wanted to try this first. Well we got the system to read. But the sound wasn't coming out. Not sure if Sound Guy had turned something off. Ultimately, I had to run the hack to get Scratch Live to run.
It seemed stable. Now, all I had to do was pray. Closed the laptop and went to eat upstairs at The Federal Bar. DJ Orion already opened up the club.
The whole time, I was thinking "holy shit. I can't believe this." I was nervous that 1. it wasn't going to even work and 2. If if DID so happen to work, that it would crap on me mid-set. I tried really hard to not seem so freaking concerned. Play it cool. Everything will be fine. We are eating my favorite Dirty Chips and Short Rib Mac and Cheese. This will make everything in life good again. I got full fast. This was probably our fastest meal we have ever had. We were seated. Got our orders in. Ate. Paid. Split. There were all kinds of different side things going on that night. Was busy; eventful.
Back to The Federal Underground. The venue was already packed. I settled in up on stage. I already started seeing a lof of familiar faces. All my staples were there, minus my #Boothangina, who was home resting. I was really missing her because she is ALWAYS there with us. I sent her a text.
DJ Icy Ice was on before me. Remark gave me the signal to get queued up. Alright ya'll. Let's go!
All I can say is, THIS WAS THE FUNNEST NIGHT I've had in a long ass time! So much fun! Thank you Long Beach for showing this girl so much love. The Bay Area was in the house. Beautiful people were present. The night was a success! I even saw Remark dancing next to me, and I have never seen him get down like that. Or dance. Like, ever! Haha dope!
I have to say that one of the unique experiences here at SnapBack is getting to work and pair with some phenomenal emcees like Trek and Toquon Tha MC. I got to spin with both. This particular night was pretty fucking sick because I felt more in tune with my emcee and we killed it. No one rocks a party better than Toquon and Trek. To you, I tip my SnapBack hat.
One of my favorite parts of the night is when the fellas all gathered around me for a picture during my set. We usually do that at the end of the night!
After My set I gave away a bunch of my Everyday People tees out. I just shot them out in to the crowd and they loved it! Thank you to everyone who has supported me with that little project! My hearts cup runneth over!
Remark closed the night out mad strong. I had been on my feet all day and though this old maid was tired, I couldn't stop dancing and singing. Remark always brings it. Thank you! I burned all the calories we had consumed earlier that day.
Thank you to all my friends who came out to share this moment with me! Especially my staple; my kid brother Roger, Lloyd, Michael R. (Thanks for the pictures), and my boy Fritz (even though I am not Talib Kweli lol)! God damn. It felt good to see you ALL!
Check out this video footage of my intro...haha hell yeah!
I can't say that I would have had a better night if it weren't for the Snapback fam, especially DJ Orion, DJ remark, DJ Icy Ice and Toquon tha MC. Toquon is one hell of an emcee. He is excellent at what he does. He and I have a pretty amazing chemistry and read off each other fairly well. We work well together and I am very honored to rock with him and the fellas. Thank you guys so much for always making me feel like fam. That means a ton!!!
Alright, so I wasn't planning on sharing the live recording, but I feel the sharing this is important in that you can see what an amazing time we have here at this particular party. These nights are always special to me. Play this mix all the way through and you'll hear why.
One last thought. It's always nights like this that confirm I am in the right place in life, at the right time, doing good things with good people and enjoying the vibrations that move our souls and our bodies together. I love that I can play for you, and that I contributed to making your time with me worth it.
Love and light,
Hey Everyone!!! THIS FRIDAY, Feb 24th, I'm returning to Snapback LBC and absolutely cannot wait! If you're in the SoCal area, make your plans. There shall be NO rain. Come out, Catch some vibes and have a good time with us!
Growing up, my exposure to Janet Jackson was Charlene from Diff'rent Strokes. Then I backtracked in to discovering she played Penny on Good Times and Cleo on Fame (don't remember that show? tsk tsk).
My eyes widened and attention perked when I heard the lead single off the Control album, What Have You Done For Me Lately? "I know he used to nice stuff for you. But what has he done - for - you------late-ly." Yes, Paula. Yes! Sidebar: Paula is 2nd reason why I loved dance and had that ultimate dream of being a LAKER GIRL. I've settled. 49ers Gold Rush Girl was pretty damn amazing! Anyway...
Janet did the Number Ones tour in 2011. I had tickets to that and last minute chose to pass on it willfully. Since then, I've felt I needed to create a new and better experience IF she ever went on tour again. Just my luck, plans for Janet's Unbreakable World Tour surfaced for 2015. So...........
I don't even recall exactly how the conversation went since it's been so long now. My Best Friend, DJ Remark and I spoke of music and the scene quite often. Janet's tour came up. I thought out loud and threw the idea at him. Let's do a Janet Tribute! He willfully agreed. =)
In Remark's words: "I said 'Hey I like your NE mix, I was gonna do a Janet one like that" and you said "no you're not, cuz I'm gonna make a Janet mix.'"
Remark and I live on opposite ends of California. Though, I had traveled back home to LA often, we would have to plan to put this mix together separately. How do we do this? How are we picking songs? All I remember was us discussing whether or not we add songs from 'Dream Street'.
This was my first time ever doing some kind of pre-planned mix with anyone. My daughter, Lyric has been fairly involved in things we do musically. I thought it would be dope to have her be a part of the drafting process.
I went through Janet's discography and manually wrote down all songs from albums we wanted to include in the draft. Dream Street was not included.
After our tracks were all picked, I thought about what I wanted to do with it. The draft included both fast and slow tracks. My initiative was just to go with all her party tracks. I wanted this piece to feel good, take you back in time, and be something you can rock wit for a bit.
Since the songs in the lottery mainly included tracks from albums, 'Doesn't Really Matter', a track off the Nutty Professor II Soundtrack was not originally considered. I added this to my set post draft. In fact, I had been in "Janet mode" for minute. I listened to her entire catalog. Her music was highly captivating. It was relatable. It was relevant.
We both had a ton of songs to work with. I wanted to keep my set within about 30-35 minutes so I definitely had to eliminate some tracks. I'm fairly happy with the final set list.
I remember I began recording the mix way before Mark even thought about touching it. Our plan was to release this prior to Janet's Unbreakable tour hit California in October which first hit San Francisco on Oct. 13th & 14th and the show I attended back home in Los Angeles at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood.
We planned recording in the midst of summer. In the Bay Area this time of year is a mixed bag of weather. My studio is set inside the house so it really doesn't matter. In LA, where DJ Remark is located, it is usually a toss-up of hot and hotter. His recording space is in the garage which means he ain't recording until it's cool enough - or maybe even when he damn well pleases. He's a busy dude with gigs and Snapback. How can I pressure him into hurrying up? *grin*
I did some pre-work by getting some edits made before recording the skeleton track. I knew where I wanted to go with this mix. It seemed so right inside the dome. When I ran through the songs in a session, it was already my first transition where I said, "Shit. This don't sound right." It was the blend from 'Nasty' to 'Doesn't Really Matter'. I thought my edit was pretty well constructed, but it just wasn't jiving. So, I had to hit the edit again. I chopped the fuck out of that song and basically recomposed it, remixed it. Boom.
My set was comprised of a lot of the root samples found in her music. I think that's what made the piece more interesting and gave it more texture. I mean, shit. I had NO idea what Remark was going to do with his set, and well, I super admire him and his skills as a DJ. He makes shit look so effortless. I had to make my shit fly.
One of my song requests prior to draft was 'Escapade'. I wanted to freak the bells and chime sounds from the intro of that song. This edit is probably my most proudest moment in this set. I haven't had much experience in flipping samples in a song to make a new sound. That shit was mad fun. My hope with this was that very first time you hear that on the 1, you're like, 'ok, this is Escapade'....but wait, that's not how it originally goes. Some kind of "oh shit" factor. Well, I hope that's what it did to ya when you first heard it. Make sure you turn it up when you hear 'Feedback' to 'Escapade'.
Remark: Recording the Janet mix
I remember texting him this and though I played it cool, I was like screaming inside with joy. This is finally coming together! YAY! I remember waiting impatiently to hear it. *looking at watch*
He sent me his version when he was done. My. God. He was GENIUS in placing the Friday snippets in there.
Man, that was good. SO, SO GOOD.
I loved his use of 'Ventura Highway' by America and in to 'Someone to Call My Lover'. I didn't even think of using that. OOOH, and when he dropped that 'Let's Wait Awhile' remix? Serious head nodding there.
Listening to his set and where he was going with it was and still is completely enjoyable. He took us on that journey and showed his personality in this mix and structure depth through use of samples, sound bites, and "show me your tricks" mixing (inside joke). I don't think I will ever get tired of listening to any of the mixes he puts together.
CREATING THE INTRO
Janet's albums go heavy on talking intros and preludes. I wanted to keep in-step with that. She uses a ton of sexual innuendos and breathy voices. Janet is all about sex. I, on the other hand could never be as sexy as she is. But I tried.
The phrase, "this is gonna be so sick" came from the posts leading up to my Boothang, Melody's birthday that Remark and I were gonna be DJing. I used that because, Yes, it was and still is sick. =) *toot, toot*
I did two takes on the intro. The first one was too much. I was told it was "too sexy" (shrug). I'm much happier with the one we released with. Simple, to the point. Needle on the record scratch right in to "GIMME A BEAT". BAM! That's exactly how I had to start my set.
WHAT ARE WE NAMING IT?
Only a few people knew Remark and I were doing this collab. He and I talked about what it should be. The title of the mix came from neither of us. Our girl Med, whom is one of my closest girlfriends and Boothang threw a few possibilities into the mix title universe. I mean, when you think of Janet's catalog including titles and lyrics, we can go anywhere with this title.
At the time, I was traveling back and forth from the Bay back home to LA a lot. Almost all to hang with my BFF Remark and Med. I ran the title by Remark and it just seemed to capture what we were trying to accomplish with this mix.
The lyrics to ESCAPADE was money. Thank you Med aka "Boothang" for that!
FUN FACTS+post sprint retro
- At release, Escapade made Mixcrate's "Pick of the Week". RIP Mixcrate =(
- "Diamonds" was not originally on the song roster. I asked for that to make it in =)
- Same goes for Pleasure Principal. I didn't beg, but I asked...double =)
- Timing on recording and release was pretty timely and was able to get it shipped on time
Huge thank you to DJ Remark for doing this with me. I appreciate you and luv ya to the moon and back!
Thank you to all for giving this mix a listen and sharing it with your friends. As always, this is why I do what I do with this music here. If you want to hear me play, I will play for you. =)
Love, Light, and Positive Vibrations,
Check out my newest mix, LDW Pool Party II.
This mix is the sequel to the Memorial Day Weekend Pool Party Mix, which was my first try at playing this genre of music.
I released this one just yesterday and have received positive feedback and numerous texts about it. I would like to thank all who have taken the time to hit play on this one and especially for all the sharing this mix!
Much love and tremendous respect,
Rest In Peace to my Pegasus floatie. Thank you for the great memories. =)
I'd like to think that I'm one of the biggest New Edition Fans you'll ever meet.
May 2016. To date, I had already released what I want to say is the ultimate of New Edition mixes separated in fast tempo and slow jam versions. How did this mix idea come about or why would I do this again?
Around that time, I thought: Hey, it would be dope to get to collaborate with 'so-and-so". It was an odd coincidence that, that very day it came up in a conversation with Scotty Fox that New Edition was in concert with Babyface. He mentioned the idea of a collab. Of course I jumped on that because Scotty doesn't do mixes with anyone and, HELLO?--it's Scotty fucking Fox!
We sat on this idea for months. And sat, it did. I asked him when he thought we should release it. He said June. Already laughing at that. June! We released the mix at the end of July. We got it done later than we wanted. "Filipino time".
THE PROCESS: PROJECT SECRET SQUIRREL
The process for this mix was different than what DJ Remark and I did for the Janet Jackson Tribute ESCAPADE, which was more like a lottery of songs written on paper and picked by my daughter. Scott put on his 'Corporate World Workplace" hat on and compiled all the NE and Babyface songs in an Excel spreadsheet. Our song selections were acquired by way of a Draft. Back and fourth. One by one, we picked our songs. Alcohol may or may not have been involved.
Now that I had my list of songs, I thought to myself: Okay, I've done this before, but I had put my best foot forward already with my original tribute mixes. What did I get myself in to? Can I possibly even make what I thought was good better?
Well, those mixes were about 4 years old. I assessed my old mixes. I was analyzing where I fell short and what I did well and ultimately, how to make it better.
I'm not gonna lie. I was a bit nervous. I practiced. I practice all the time. Sometimes, I play music right off the turntables in the song's entirety. I sip my wine (cuz I wine every day). I listen. This was sometimes hard to do with two girls in the house especially my youngest, whom is much like me. She is always talking, interrupting, laughing, trying to sneak up on you to scare you, asking questions, asking questions, asking questions. Did I mention she loves to ask questions? Well then.
This part of the process was fun because the girls saw me work. They saw me think and work on the task. They saw me frustrated and sometimes ignore them (kinda) because I had my headphones on and listening to the music loudly. It wasn't THAT serious, right? But oh it WAS? I have a chance to work with a DJ I respect, is well known, and extremely good at what he does. I had to fucking pull my weight and not suck. I doubted myself, but once I laid shit down. I was in my element.
I record all my practice sessions. I exported my edits. I listened to them in the car. My babies definitely know New Edition and Babyface songs by now. Shoot. They'd better. That's all they got to hear for at least a week straight. JK, kinda.
So how do we freak this? Solid set then switch-half/half format? I was thinking that's how it would work out because it's just easier; kinda like doing a club set. It was Scotty's idea to kind of tag team. We ended up tagging in and tagging out. So we went back and forth, In n Out. Wax on. Wax off. I liked that because we got to play off each other's sets. We used a lot of dialog and skits to work out transitions. Mostly from the Heart Break album, which was one of my faves though, sans Bobby. *bloop*
(Cue Jeopardy waiting music)
1 day prior to release. I may have been feeling slightly burned out with work/life balance. One way I handle this is to be silly-in a very dry way. I told Scott that he needed a new logo or it would be our mix cover.
So, uh. When are we gonna put this together? We literally wrapped this mix up Wednesday morning. Scotty had the master. I hadn't even worked on the cover art.
"And that night, I played the wall. Checkin out the fellas; the high and lows. Keepin' one eye open still"....
CLOCKIN THE HOES
Why do we keep referencing this line? When I drafted the song Poison, I was like "boom". Scotty was like, "I don't care. I don't want that song anyway". *as I roll my eyes* Classic Scotty.
I had edited Poison down 2 times. It was my last edit of the mix. Poison is so well known, even with the younger generation who don't realize BBD is a branch of New Edition (smh). I had to flip it. I added a subtle layer of the Kool G Rap & Polo in my original NE mix. I went a step further and doubled it up and put in the whole first verse of the root sample.
Scotty and I got in to a discussion of how some of those lines BBD had that were unacceptable in music during the 90s like "The low pro hoe should be cut like an afro", and our favorite "Clockin the hoes". This is an on-going phrase we use in our daily conversations. It kind of is like our "Hi. How are you today?" greeting.
WHAT ARE WE NAMING IT?
Boy this was tough because I think we were mostly joking about titles. Some of the ideas were:
- Hey The Concert Is On Saturday, Here's a Mix (Scotty Fox) I personally liked this one
- Boomerang (360)
- NewFace (Scotty Fox)
- Word to Tha Babyface (360)
- Mabuhay Master Mix (Scotty Fox)
- Papyrus Sparkles (360)
- Clockin the 'hose' (Scotty Fox)
- For the Cool In You (360)
- For the HeartBreak In You (Scotty Fox)
- Ronnie, Baby, Ricky, Mike (360)
- Ain't Nothin Changed (Scotty Fox)
- Stynki Jynki and the Otter Fox (both)
We FORTUNATELY arrived at "Once In A Lifetime Groove". Fairly appropriate. I was going through my set list and threw it out there with Scott. He liked it. It's perfect. I'm taking credit for it. *sticking tongue out*
"This is dedicated to you. So, sit back and let us entertain you."
I slapped some cover art together like right before uploading the mix. I almost forgot to send it to Scotty for approval.
"Ok. Here we go...."
The mix was released on to Mixcrate on July 27th, 2016. It hit the Top (5) Played Mixes list in less than 24 hours. It ran up to the #1 position quickly and held the spot for the duration of the week. THANK YOU everyone for playing and sharing it! Damn, you guys are amazing!
How amazing it was to be amongst a bunch of friends who also love New Edition and Babyface at the Concord Pavilion? It was especially dope to share that with my fellow DJ and dear friend, Scotty Fox! Yay! It was almost like a celebration. We put this collab out and we got to dance to the music.
Some highlights (besides the concert itself):
- Tackling J-Stretch on the lawn SEE IT HERE
- The Kevin Hart "slide-out" routine
- The Bar
- Seeing old school friends and fam
- Making new friends
- Watching Alex snapchat
- Breaking off from the group and not sure where the group was at. O_O Texting: I'm lost!
- The gal behind us saying (to Johnny) "Finish the song. Just finish the damn song...."
- Dude! Where's my car? I knew this was going to be a problem after parking.
I had never been to the Concord Pavilion before. In the midst of swaying and singing to Babyface's music, I stopped and noticed how breathtaking the view was. I stopped and lightweight smiled as I absorbed the scenery; the backdrop of seemingly endless mountains kissed by that "golden hour" kind of sun. It indeed was my favorite part of the night.
POST MIX SPRINT RETRO
There are things things I've caught in playback that I had wished I had done. And, maybe only 1 thing I wished Scotty would have done.
1. NE Heartbreak. I should have flipped that song. I kind of left it pretty basic. Maybe for the next New Edition Tribute. Haha JK
2. I really, really, wished Scotty let the Glenn Medeiros joint play for two full verses. I forgot about that song. I told him "I got in to it, was happy, then the damn DJ fucking cut the song out..." haha I can say things like that to him (respectfully). He responded (in another conversation), "Fck Glenn Medeiros." Again. Classic Scotty.
3. Scott really killed his sets as usual. It was amazing to hear someone else's musical perspective and how he handled the tracks. It was good energy and really brought that spicy paprika pumpernickel pepper that the mix needed. lol
4. Overall we did pretty good on mixing up tempos and taking you on a journey. I had a few slow jams on my roster but opted not to play them because I did that already for Heartbreak II. Scotty took them and continued on to play slow songs. He ended the mix with Can You Stand the Rain. Fade out to the sound of rain. Beautiful.
5. There were some level/volume problems that I feel could have been fixed in the mastering process. Jumped the gun a bit. It's fine.
6. This experience was fun. The Draft, planning, joking, the NOT joking (read: light arguing), discussing music, debating (read: light arguing), and executing was amazing! Attending the concert was icing--so much fun!
First of all, thank you to Scotty Fox for doing this with me. You are an incredible DJ, but I already know what your response will be. I'll leave it at that. Giraffes and Foxes make good friends.
Music is my heart ya'll. I don't do this to be popular or stay relevant. I do this because my Daddy and my Uncle raised me to know and love music. This is my shit. This is what I love doing outside of the career I love. So, thank you so much for listening and for the crazy love you've given! It makes all this time so worth it!
This morning was wonderful. First, because it's FRIDAY. Second (and maybe Third), because I had separate conversations with two of my colleagues regarding music. One conversation was a branch off the first conversation regarding who controls Guru's catalog and how similar things happened with groups like De La Soul.
This post is more about the first conversation. It began with all of these releases of JDilla material. The conversation rolled around to how I went to school with Madlib and finally to the article that was posted regarding Dilla's catalog getting exploited. You can read that article here.
Our conversation felt natural, productive, going well. He asked me a question that, may have thrown me off my axis. He asked, "Have you made a Dilla Tribute..." Before he was able to even finish his sentence, I interrupted, "NOPE.."
He paused, tilted his head a bit with a slight smirk. He was obviously surprised. Mind you, I probably talk to him the most about topics of music, especially of Dilla. He'll ask me if I copped the Dillatronic or remind me of new Dilla releases. I love that.
I was taken aback by his question not because he asked, but because I am surprised he was one of the first to ask. To know me, is to know that I am a huge fan and am extremely influenced and passionate about his music.
So, why no Dilla Tribute? Sadly, this post is longer than my answer. It is simple and short, but to me it's powerful: I don't feel I would have the ability to ever do his music justice. If I did ever attempt to, I would never be "finished". I would be too critical of myself and my arrangement and composition.
There you have it.
Dilla month is coming to a close now. It's been 10 years since he's left this world. His music is alive in our community and is continually celebrated. Rest in Peace James Dewitt Yancey.