Hi everyone, time for a new mix
From now on, I’m going to try and upload a 1 hour mix every month on http://www.mixcloud.com/TABOU1/
Can’t promise I’ll be like a Swiss clock (on time, regular, perfect), but I’ll try. I like making mixes, it reminds me of the days long past when I was recording cassettes for friends and myself. I would spend time putting together a playlist, drawing a nice cover, writing the track titles with a nice calligraphy, looking for a clever and witty title for the cassette, etc… It’s much easier nowadays, I drag and drop 20-30 tracks from iTunes to Garageband and work on the order of the songs and transitions. After throwing these on the wall, so to speak, I see what sticks and ka-boom, here’s another set of scorchers put together!
I know I know, I should be much more humble, and not brag about my mixtape production talent, blablabla… But, hey, I happen to really enjoy my mixes!
I keep thinking I should hook up my computer to the mixer I have upstairs and do an actual DEEJAY set, with my two XDJ’s, but I’ve tried and man this is HARD! Getting tracks to sync, creating transitions that kick ass is a real soundman’s job and I have to confess I’m not a good one. I’m too lazy to spend hours practicing my deejaying skills. Anyway, I’d be starting from such a poor level that it is discouraging. Maybe the spark will come one day and I’ll just do it, but not today, and certainly not tomorrow with all that southern hemisphere Rugby to watch, all that fun to be had… And Garageband is so easy to use…
Anyway, here is this month’s mix.
1 Good Music by Ninjaman
2 Begin to love (unreleased rough mix) by Grandmaster Caz
3 Now That We Found Love by Bunny Rugs + Sean Paul
4 Trap Boogie (unreleased) by Supa Jo
5 When by Tiger
6 Not Gone Let You (unreleased rough mix) by Funkmaster Wiz + Sly & Robbie
7 I Know Dub by Sly & Robbie + Brinsley Forde
8 Bam Machine (unreleased) by Mudbone Cooper
9 Smokey Blues by Aswad
10 Chain Of Fools (unreleased) by Sly & Robbie + Big Baby
11 Loverboy by Gregory Isaacs
12 Follow Inna (unreleased) by Inna Modja + Sly & Robbie
13 Dear Pastor by Home T4
14 Astex (unreleased) by Supa Jo
15 Until (Stefan Bahners remix – unreleased) by Brinsley Forde + Sly & Robbie
16 Rasta Reggae (Remix) by Nambo Robinson + Sly Robbie
17 Words (Revisitation Dubplate Mix) by Lee Perry
It starts with “Good Music” by Ninjaman, one of my top 5 DeeJay’s from Jamaica. I produced this track close to 20 years ago with Tony Philips, my friend from the Ruff Cutt Band in London. Tony spent a month in Kingston cutting artists and I begged him to voice Ninjaman, which he dutifully did. Ninjaman voiced the track on his bed. The sound is flawless nonetheless. Amazing.
“Begin to love” is a work in progress track. I recently lucked out and was able to establish a connection with rapper Grandmaster Caz, one of hip hop’s historical figures from the 70’s in New York. The man can write lyrics and spit those over any type of beat. I sent him a selection of beats that Sly & Robbie recorded and strangely enough, he picked one with a Reggae flavor. The beat was made using a sample from “Love relationship”, Sly & Robbie’s 1993 hit with Leroy Smart that was simply looped throughout. The finished product will sport a fully reworked beat but I like this present version, it is nice and works well.
“Now that we found love” is probably Third World’s biggest hit. Originally penned by the O’Jays, this song found its true raison d’etre when Third World covered it in 1978. It became a staple of Third World concerts, and lead singer Bunny Rugs covered it a couple of times for his own solo releases. This dancehall version features megastar Sean Paul.
SupaJo is a young and upcoming musician who taught himself to play the bass when he was 11 by watching youtube tutorials. The best part of this is that he did so WITHOUT an actual instrument. It somehow worked out well because the first time he picked a bass, he played flawless lines that spurred bass legend Robbie Shakespeare to teach him a few tricks and ask him to do the sound check for his bass at a concert in New York in front of 3,000. I signed him immediately after Robbie told me about him. After recording a heavy metal instrumental album reminiscent of Bach (I’m not shitting you, check out
SupaJo branched out into punching Trap beats on his computer. What’s really interesting, among other things, is that, embracing the “100 thing” minimalist movement, he refuses to invest in expensive equipment, and uses only freeware and free sounds. Like a shaolin monk, he practices his craft relentlessly, mostly on the guitar and his mac. I like to encourage young talent and give them a chance. They are our future.
Tiger’s “When” came out in 1991. Produced by the legendary Steelie & Clevie, this track was the first on which Tiger deejayed in the so-called “drunk” style. Notorious for his hilarious lyrics, Tiger doesn’t disappoint. On the verge of global stardom, this huge motorcycle fan zooming at full speed with no helmet on Jamaica’s famously dangerous roads saw his promising career cut short by a terrible accident that left him impaired and with no voice. I miss his sense of humor in the dancehall, which has mostly become a shouting match and a lunatic freak show.
When I received the cut recorded by Grandmaster Caz, I noticed he had not written the lyrics, which I found strange because Caz is one of hip hop’s most creative and sharpest pens. He told me he had commissioned a song from Funkmaster Wiz. Funkmaster Wiz, THE , I asked him? Caz introduced me to Wiz, who quickly accepted to voice a tune for me on a funk riddim produced by Sly & Robbie. It took him a few days to return a badass song with a superb bridge by his wife Shahada Lockett. I am a total sucker for old school rap. I think their technique is much better than today’s dibidibi rappers, the phrasing is more pleasant, too.
And now a commercial break: “I know Dub” is featured in the newly released “One Fine Dub” album by Sly & Robbie and Brinsley Forde, Aswad’s former lead singer. Groucho Smykle mixed the entire album, which sounds weird, hard, creative and entertaining. The perfect dub album in a word. Trust me, I’ve got a collection of hundreds of dub albums and “One Fine Dub” ranks way up there. Buy it on my Bandcamp store and if you don’t like it, I’ll buy you a new pair of ears and refund you
While you’re at it, check out my other releases on this page. Nothing but great stuff and good vibes when you play the music I’m producing!
When I was recording singers for the old school Funk album I have been producing with Sly & Robbie, I suddenly had this seemingly insane idea of using the vocals that Mudbone Cooper had just recorded and combine them with the famous “Murder she wrote” riddim, Sly & Robbie’s best selling track ever. The mashup job worked flawlessly!!! Mudbone, for the ignoramus, used to be Funkadelic’s lead singer. For a while, he was living in Paris and I am very proud to have involved him on this Funk project which disco-funk legend John Morales is mixing at the moment. More on this soon…
I hardly ever listen to British reggae anymore. Too soft, not heavy, whatever… One exception is Aswad, which I can still enjoy tremendously. At least on their 1980-88 period which saw them transform from an exciting underground act to global superstars with the mega hit “Don’t turn around”. On the “Distant thunder” album that features “Don’t turn around”, another gem I really like is “Smokey Blues”. While Brinsley Forde was more or less the roots singer of the group, drummer Drummie Zeb was the commercial lovers rock guy. In all fairness, he was the one that scored the hits even though Brinsley seemed to embody the essence of the Aswad every reggae fan loved.
While in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2009, I visited two shrines of black music: Stax and Royal Studios. While Stax disappeared in the early 70’s and its studio has become a museum, Royal Studios is still very much active. Founded by genius producer Willie Mitchell in the 60’s, Royal Studios has seen Al Green, Ann Peebles or Syl Johnson among countless others, record their best material. Willie’s son, Boo, has continued the tradition of recording on analog and ever since I met him and visited Royal Studios, one my wickedest fantasies has been to record music there. Most of the musicians who recorded for Al Green are still alive and still play wonderful southern soul tunes… Imagine Bitty McLean doing a soul album down there… Anyway, Boo recommended that I record stuff with a local singer called Big Baby when I asked him for a female singer for the Sly & Robbie Funk album. We had covered Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” in Kingston and I had this notion of trying to record a cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of fools” on this beat. I had tried it myself (no, you don’t want to hear my demo on the beat, and nobody ever will as I deleted the file to make sure no evidence was around) and knew the chords of both songs are compatible. I just needed a great singer to kill it. Big Baby did it. Absolutely. Totally. Then, guess what. I received the files, copied them on TWO hard drives and kept them on my computer (back then I didn’t have a dropbox). When the time came to mix the song, my computer crashed. And my two hard drives malfunctioned. Both of them. I just could not believe my luck, or lack thereof. So, after being depressed for several weeks and doing nothing, I had to ask Big Baby to do a new take. She obliged, thank goodness.
Gregory Isaacs is the greatest of all times. Period, end of discussion, fuck anyone who dares dispute this. “Loverboy” is not his most famous tune, that’s for sure and he recorded hundreds of similar sounding songs over early 90’s digital riddims, but for some reason I like this one and thought I would share it with you.
As an aside, after you’ve listened to the mix, check out this video. The first few minutes show Gregory recording “Loverboy” with Sly Dunbar and Cat Coore providing drum and guitar wickedness.
Inna Modja is a fairy from Africa. She is, in no particular order, beautiful, hugely talented, kind, humble, talented (I know I said it but I don’t mind repeating myself), Unesco Ambassador, and she’s a huge Sly & Robbie fan to boot. In summary, she’s THE perfect woman.
She voiced this track in Paris over a riddim I had produced with my son Joseph and Sly & Robbie in Kingston in early 2016. Joseph played a Fela-style guitar, looped it and Sly added a heavy drum beat. Then all musicians started to enjoy themselves on the riddim. I decided to make it a Robbie Lyn instrumental track. Sound wizard Godwin Logie, who has been making my records sound better for close to 20 years now (and also mixed “Smokey Blues” by Aswad among thousands of other tracks), then mixed it and turned it into a dancefloor-oriented Afro-Jamaican Funky joint.
Inna Modja heard it and asked to voice it, which she did beautifully in about an hour. This version is not final as I want to redo certain things in the instrumental to fit Inna’s vocals better. I’m also thinking of asking a Jamaican deejay to put a 16 bar in the middle of the song, but we’ll see… I am trying to take Inna Modja to Jamaica to record a full album with the Riddim Twins. She has some Grace Jones in her (minus the atrociously selfish and loathsome egocentric attitude) and she would just slay it with Robbie and Sly… But the gal is a busy bee, so while I know it WILL happen, don’t hold your breath.
In the middle 80’s, Sly & Robbie started experimenting with synthesizers, drum machines and released an album called “Electro Reggae”, 30 years before Electro became a full-fledged music genre. That instrumental album featured riddims of songs released on 7″ singles in Jamaica in 84-86.
Among those were a series of tracks recorded by Home T4 for Sly & Robbie’s TAXI label. “Dear Pastor” shot to the top of Jamaica’s charts. This sound is a precursor to what Jamaicans called the “computer style”, which would sweep the island in 1985, radically and violently overturning Jamaica’s music industry. As they say, the writing was on the wall: sadly, old school Reggae, characterized by acoustic drums played live (rather than programmed on a drum machine), a full group of musicians recording together in large studios, was doomed…
I used SupaJo’s “Astex” as an interlude as it mixes well with “Dear Pastor” and the following track. I like the lighthearted atmosphere and the humorous tone in an overall heavy-as-lead atmosphere. I would love to hear a rapper like Drake on this beat. Drake, if you read this, you know how to get a hold of me…
As mentioned previously, Brinsley Forde is the former lead singer from Aswad. I took him to Kingston a few years ago to record an album with Sly & Robbie. Back in the day, Aswad was one of the very few bands that Sly & Robbie, who were then touring with Black Uhuru, “feared” onstage. During the sessions with Brinsley, Sly & Robbie got really competitive and produced some kickass music, as if they still needed to prove something! I love their spirit… For reasons I won’t go into here, the project was put on the backburner several times before I asked Groucho to mix it.
Groucho mixed the dub wonderfully but his mixes of the vocal album felt not hard and heavy enough. So I have asked Robbie Shakespeare and Steven Stanley to re-do the vocal album which should be ready in a couple of months if all goes well (and since not everyhing has gone well in this project, I have a notion something is going to happen and delay iy again). I am therefore one of the very few to release a dub album before the vocal album. Oh well… Anyway, to make a long story short, not too long ago, I got an email from a dude in Germany who offered to remix tracks. Knowing that Omi’s “Cheerleader” megahit (the producer bought himself an apartment on Paris Place des Vosges…) had been remixed by a German, I thought it would be a good idea to give Stefan Bahners a chance, who knows… I gave him a couple of songs just to get a feel for his work. “Until” is one of them. More will come, that’s for sure.
In 1998, Sly & Robbie told me to go to London to pick up some of their tapes at Metropolis and other studios. I schlepped 10-12 2 inch tapes from London to Paris in the Eurostar and nearly killed my back in the process. One of the tapes had this tune by trombone legend Nambo Robinson called “Rasta Reggae” which was a wonderful traditional chant on a nyabinghi riddim punched by Sly on his MPC. I got Sly & Robbie’s authorization to use this splendidly rootsy track for U Roy when I produced “Now”, my second album with the godfather of Jamaican DeeJays. I then found out that Sly & Robbie had remixed “Rasta Reggae” and replaced the nyabinghi backing with a riddim sounding far more like a heavy and bouncy “TAXI” production. This is what you’re hearing. I love the “straight 4” beat which makes it eminently danceable. And Robbie laid a monster bassline. I should be more blasé after all these years of working with him but no: I still marvel at this guy’s basslines every time.
If Jamaican music was a temple, Lee Perry would undoubtedly be one of its main pillars. Born in 1936, he is an absolute giant despite standing at a mere 5 feet 2 inches tall.
In the early 70’s, he produced a superb song called “Words of my mouth” for Sangie Davis and the Gatherers at his first Black Ark studio. Not hugely prolific but immensely talented, deeply spiritual and humble, Sangie will also be remembered for writing “Wake Up and Live” for Bob Marley. In 2012, British producer Daniel Boyle launched a fundraising campaign to produce a Lee Perry album that, he promised, was going back to the Black Ark studio era as far as sound and attitude were concerned. Intrigued, I paid to be part of this exciting adventure. I helped Daniel with some questions, contacts, but did not do anything as far as music was concerned. He certainly did not need me on that front: the result of his and Lee’s efforts, called “Lee Perry Back On The Controls” is Lee’s best since Adrian Sherwood-produced “Time Boom The Devil Dead” back in 1987. It even got a Grammy nomination. The relick of “Words” borrows heavily from the original and, like the original, it sounds brilliant.
Now that you know everything there is to know, including my darkest secrets, go ahead and enjoy this mix. As always, your comments, observations or questions are welcome.