My ongoing search for new and amazing music is a perpetual endeavor. I’ve said this before. Sometimes, it feels like I don’t really have much of a choice in the matter. My desire to constantly be updating the iPod in my brain is a necessity for survival as a working DJ. When I’m not browsing the online retailers or running through tracks on one of the record pools, I’m Shazaming songs at clothing stores and asking everyone I know what they’re listening to. Movies and TV can also be great sources for finding new tracks and rediscovering songs from past eras. In fact, the right placement in a popular medium can take a long-forgotten hit and bring it back into the charts (think: Soprano’s and Journey; Night at the Roxbury and Haddaway; Something About Mary and The Foundation; Guardians of the Galaxy and Redbone).
I stumbled upon this next artist watching a fantastic documentary I recommend for musicians, producers, creatives or anybody interested in a behind the scenes look into the craft of making music. It’s called ‘Shangri-La’ and you can currently check it out streaming on Crave. Without giving too much away, the film centres around Rick Rubin and his iconic studio in Malibu. There is a lot to be learned and hearing Rick and other iconic guests wax-poetic about their philosophies on art and music is time well spent. They feature quite a few artists in the docuseries, and if you’ve made it to Mr. Rubin’s Universe, you are no doubt full of talent. One artist in particular stood out to me after investing a couple hours to the show.
A few lines into hearing Yebba for the first time and I was sold hook, line and sinker. Abbey Smith aka Yebba, has a honeysweet voice and a backstory that will kick a hole through your heart. The kind that is no doubt a pretty deep well to draw from. Currently, she inhabits a neighborhood that formerly housed another simmering young, soul luminary, Leon Bridges (peep the link to check out my feature on him from last year).
And what would that neighborhood be?
There is just not enough of her music available.
Now, Leon got bumped because he has released two solid albums worth of material, ‘Coming Home’ in 2015 and ‘Good Thing’, last year, but, when he first landed on my radar, I was relegated to only two songs (on repeat for days). Seems like we’re all stuck in that familiar predicament again. For now.
She has a few feature roles with Pop heavyweights such as Ed Sheeran and Mark Ronson, and has been working with one of my favourite producers, the great Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Slayer, Adele), so it’s only a matter of time before everyone else gets up to speed. I predict some Grammy nominations for this one in the coming years. For now, her only single I was able to find (other than the collaborations), is entitled ‘Evergreen’ and you can check it out below.
You know, it’s funny. Both Leon and Yebba’s first singles have references to the Mississippi River.
Must be something in the water.
Evergreen by YEBBA
Next up is the return of the Ruler. Slick Rick, in case you didn’t know (son). Rick’s unmistakable voice is back getting knee-deep into a Funkadelic groove just like Prince Paul and De La Soul did on their highest charting hit (#1 US R&B), Me, Myself and I, back in 1989.
This time Slick Rick shits on tracks that don’t have no soul, as well as the industry. Nobody tells the industry where to go better than Hip Hop, who have been spoofing industry antics for years, and this video has all the elements you want in a video of this ilk. Demonized record execs, slick high-end fashions, turntables, talented youngsters, and some killer dance choreography. While I would’ve liked a little more production value from some of the vocals, the stripped-down feel is no doubt intentional and true to form. The Ruler makes the right move and sticks to his roots on the two tracks featured in this video. Both tracks have a definite throwback edge that compliment his iconic laidback delivery.
Can’t Dance to a Track That Ain’t Got No Soul / Midas Touch
Old School Alert
The vibe of the last video reminds me of another one by one my favorite groups from Slick Rick’s era, who some of the younger cats might not remember: 3rdBass. 3rdBass consisted of MC Serch, Prime Minister Pete Nice, and DJ Richie Rich. Unfortunately, these Brooklyn Boys didn’t put out much more than a couple albums (The Gas Face, Derelicts of Dialect), but their influence was heavy. MC Serch can be credited with getting Nas’ career off the ground, acting as his manager in the early 90s and securing his deal with Columbia Records.
Both of their albums are solid efforts front-to-back, and worth taking the time to check-out or rediscover. I will get you started with these bad boys, right here.
Back to the Grill Again
The Gas Face
Daddy Rich in the Land of 1210
To cap things off this week we’re gonna keep things old school and in the Mecca, New York City. Ever since Hip Hop breathed its first few breathes at 1520 Sedgwick in the Bronx, NYC has been churning out some of the realest MC’s, Producers and DJs.
You can’t deny the impact of Juice Crew member, Marley Marl, who provided the sonic backdrops for early work from such legendary voices like Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace and LL Cool J. Years later he put out a mixtape project called, Operation: Take Back Hip Hop. It’s got some great cuts on it like the one below and features another one of his habitual collaborators, Craig G.
Released in 2008, I’m not sure that the operation was a success, but I can tell you with utmost certainty, the Resistance is still keeping the faith.
Just What I Need!
JT James is a DJ, producer and writer based out of Vancouver, Canada. A veteran of the DJ and recording worlds. he has produced several projects in the genres of hip hop and electronic music under various aliases such as James Divine, Track Nicholson and Sandy Villanova.
To book DJ or production services or if you are looking for original music for your next music, film or TV project, check out our website and drop us a line at essentialent.ca
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