Edith Pilaf

Lisa just sent me a groovy Edith Pilaf song. It's a good song to listen to at work when you've been staring at a computer for a million hours and you're ready to go berserk.

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Rockers! The Roots of Reggae and Rap Vocalists

Here's a guest blog entry from DJ Chill Will. He produces the Dub Session podcast, which is my favorite podcast of all time.

This year marks the 30th year anniversary of the release of the movie "Rockers!" in 1977. At the time the movie was released, the Rockers were a group of musicians, DJs, producers and Toasters in Jamaica who were expanding the boundaries of music production and innovation. Often, a hit song would be released on an "A" side like Dennis Brown's "Revolution" or Jacob Miller's "Pamela", or the infamous "Under Mi Sleng Ting" ryddym. Typically, records were released as singles, and on the A side was a vocal version of a popular song, and on the B side was a "dub" version. These popular songs were played in the Jamaican clubs, or dancehalls, and then the B sides were played. These B sides, or dub versions, became templates for reggae-rappers known in Jamaica as "DJs" or "Toasters" to show off their craft. This was the time for Toasters and DJs to shine and show off their stuff. These DJs included greats such as Big Youth, I-Roy, U-Roy, U-Brown, Dillinger, and Al Capone.

The "Rockers" movement in Jamaicafrom 1972 to 1979 provided the genesis of modern hip hop music production and toasting/rapping, from Kingstown to Brooklyn, Brixton and beyond. In the same way that King Tubby and The Scientist became famous for re-producing hit songs into dub classics like "King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown", their counterparts Africa Bambaataa and Grand Master Flash in the later 1970s were mixing up the birth of hip hop with their production wizardry and dubplates for rap artists.

Jamaican star DJs and Toasters inspired the birth of the rap movement in Brooklyn in the late 1970s where disco B sides were played, and rappers from different "crews" would battle for style points and popularity just like their Jamaican cousins did at the Dance Halls in Kingston and Negril.

Like the DJs and Toasters in Jamaica, disco battle rappers in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan discos would play B sides of modern hits and provide their own Rythmic American Poetry - otherwise known as RAP. Rap music's origin echoed the DJ/Rockers movement from 1973 to 1978 in Jamaica. raps in the U.S. were the equivalent of "DJ Showdowns" in Jamaica. Who is the baddest DJ? Turned into "who is the illest rapper or MC" in the U.S.. The King Tubbys and Lee Scratch Perrys of Jamaica were mimicked by Africaa Bambaataa and Sugar Hill Records, and the DJ/Toasters of Jamaica shined as MCs and Rappers in the U.S., starting with Kool Keith, Kurtis Blow, and other disco-era MCs turned rappers.

From 1978-1980, the B Sides that made DJs famous in Jamaica became mix-tapes on the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and around NYC, and each neighborhood had its own "crew" where rappers would rap over mix-tapes. Soon, these mix tapes were played on the radio, and breakthrough artists like Doug E. Fresh and LL Cool J were making their way to the radio in 1981 and 1982 with the help of mastermind producers such as Rick Rubin - who coincidentally just won producer of the year at this year's Grammy awards.

The movie "Rockers" is a time capsule which will transport you back to a movement of creative expressionism in Jamaica that gave birth to the rap movement in the U.S., thanks to the cousins of West Indians and Jamaicans in New York advancing the DJ art form into Rythymic American Poetry that dominates the recording industry of the U.S. today. "Rockers" is highly recommended as a piece of musical history, helping to plant the seeds for future culture media movements captured in movies like "Krush Groove" and "Breakin'" in the early 1980s.

To hear some of the original music from the movie, click here

Big ups to the author of this blog for using blogs and podcasting for music and culture appreciation!

Gym Class Heroes

This blog entry was written by my little cousin, Marlee. Yay. I like it.

Ever heard of The Gym Class Heroes? Judging by their name, you might not think they were anything good. Agreed, it's kind of funky. But if you have ever heard their music, you might think otherwise. For me, the music they create brings out a lot of thought, about things that don't usually (or frequently) cross my mind other times. For example, a very thought provoking song by that group is Faces in the Hall. This song (although it has a couple swears) has a much deeper meaning. It faces the problem of hate against gay people, and of discrimination against people who are different in that way. The song tells a story of a boy, Alberto, who hates being gay, and is constantly made fun of. Some of their other songs are less message-sending, and more for listening entertainment.

Cupid's Chokehold is a remake of a much older song, borrowing the chorus but with new verses. Its lyrics are sweet and make up a basic love song about a guy who thinks he has found 'the one.' I think this band has great music, and from what I've heard it is becoming popular. If you like more of a different/rap/hiphop sort of band, then you should check them out.


If you grew up in the seventies and eighties (like I did) you may have a soft spot in your heart for disco. Or maybe you hate it. If you belong to the former group, then this disco mix is for you. For me, it brings back memories of WKTU and listening to the radio, trying to tape songs, driving back and forth to school, and growing up in New York.

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Readings by William S Burroughs

I've posted MP3s of Burruoghs' spoken word album ('Call Me Burroughs') on E-snips. Here are the links:
Uranium Willy
Thing Police
The Fish Poison Con
Mr. Bradley Mr. Martin
Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry
Inflexible Authority
Where You Belong
Bradley The Buyer

You can also find these recordings here. You can also listen to some Burroughs lectures and talks at archive.org (here and here and here) .

I'd love to include more Burroughs' stuff here. I heard a Burrough's reading of an Xmas story he wrote, but I can't locate it. Does anyone have it?

Is This Song Racist?

Who is John D. Loudermilk? I don't know much about this guy, but his song Brown Girl intrigues me. It's a great song: melodic, dreamy, and folksy. He talks and sings about being a white kid in love with a black girl way back in the day. He tells us that love conquers all, but he says 'brown girl' so many times that it feels weird and fetishy. Anyway, it's a great song. Listen and decide for yourself.

Abner Jay

A lot of people in the blogosphere have been posting about Abner Jay, but when I first came across his music a week ago, I was blown away. His songs are actually the main thing that motivated me to write this blog; there's so much great, weird stuff out there. I won't try to describe Abner Jay. He's a one man band, a bluesman, a comedian, and who knows what else. You just have to listen. Here are two of my favorite songs, I'm So Depressed and Bring It When You Come. You can read about Abner Jay, and listen to some other songs at diddywah. Cocaine Blues is really good (check diddyway), and if you feel like killing yourself, just click on Abner Jay's rendition of Amazing Grace (again, diddywah) and your desire to live will return.

Tony Schwartz

I'm a New Yorker living in China, so when I first came across Tony Schwartz, it gave me a nice warm feeling all over my body. His recordings may or may not have the same effect on you, but I highly recommend you listen. Tony Schwartz is an audio-documentarian, and he recorded a bunch of albums documenting New York City streetlife in the forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies.

According to his homepage , 'For many years he has been a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He is also teaching at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz is unable to travel distances, he delivers all out of town talks by 2-way telephone. Schwartz is a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and has given presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He holds honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges.' I have no idea what a two-way telephone is, and it's totally bizarre that a self-proclaimed 'media expert' would use such a term.

His audio stuff is posted on various websites, but I found the best collection at basichip.com. The stupid Chinese internet is retarded today, and I can't find the exact link, but I'll post it later (I just found the link). For now, just go to basichip and find his New York taxi recordings (funny) and Moondog, the street musician recordings (groovy). If you like this kind of audio-documentary recordings, or if you're an audio-documentarian yourself, please slip some MP3 links into the comments. The following aren't Tony Scwartz recordings, but I found some interesting old Coney Island recordings from the fifties, and I posted them HERE and HERE.

Old Chinese Pop

This blog is dedicated to finding interesting things to listen to when you're goofing off at work, or bored, or both. Or maybe this is the blog that I write when I'm goofing off at work, or bored, or both. Not sure. Anyway, today's entry is very interesting, and a lot of fun. Lam Leng is that sexy Chinese woman on the album cover, and this MP3 is her recording of I Feel Fine (actually not half bad). The song works well in Chinese. Listen and enjoy. Or listen to Jingle Bells and Love Potion #9.

Spoken Word

I just found a great website (spokenalex.org) with tons of spoken word MP3s - all public domain stuff. If anyone has any other links or files, please include them in the comments section of this post.

The Real King Is Dead

I'm sure everyone is blogging about James Brown but, well, he’s dead. Luckily, I did get to see him in concert before he died. A few years ago, I saw him in Battery Park in downtown Manhattan and someone in his entourage wheeled out a giant birthday cake and told the crowd it was James Brown’s birthday. We all felt really cool and special, sang happy birthday and it seemed historic. A month or so later, I was in Tennessee and I saw James Brown perform at Bonaroo and they did the same birthday shpiel. The guy next to me had a huge grin on his face and I knew what he was thinking, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he wasn’t part of a historical something or other, but was just witnessing cheap theatrics.

I tell this story to prove a point. James Brown is probably the only person (except for, perhaps, Chuck Berry and Willie Nelson) who could (and should) get away with this kind of thing. He invented funk, for god’s sake. At least as far as I’m concerned, faked birthdays, PCP rampages, and police chase outs are totally excusable. RIP James Brown.

James Brown: Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto.

China Southern Airlines Announcements

Not much to write about these files. Interested? If so, listen to these two safety announcements recorded on a China Southern Air flight (click here and here ).