Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Last Post

I'm discontinuing the blog, so come find me on Mixcloud: all my old mixtapes are available there (as well as new ones!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Latin Freestyle

I cannot believe how long it took me to get around to this one. I guess the timing is a little weird now (in light of a recent bit of Twitter drama wherein some clueless kids apparently hated on Diplo because "only Latinos and gay people are allowed to play Freestyle"). Kids these days...

Anyway, Freestyle was a genre of dance music that evolved out of the Latino communities in New York and Miami in the 1980s. But first, some backstory:
Part of the reason why disco did so well in New York was that it appealed to African-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Latinos. This meant that during the heyday of disco, a radio station could lock down all three of these huge demographics—something that you'd be hard-pressed to do today. After the "death" of disco, stations had to pick which of these audiences they wanted to retain. A lot of New York stations kept the Italians by switching to rock, and the rest hung on to the African-Americans by gradually shifting to hip-hop / R&B / "urban" music. This left New York's sizable Latino community without many options for radio stations, or for pop music that spoke to them.
Freestyle really emerged as a response to this conundrum--championed by Latino DJs like Jellybean Benitez and Tony Torres, Freestyle first popped up around 1983 as a mixture of pop melodies and hip-hop-electro production (think Afrika Bambaataa meets Celine Dion). 

The music found a second home in Miami, and these two cities produced the overwhelming majority of Freestyle records from the birth of the genre until it fizzled out in the mid-1990s. The New York stuff tends to be a little darker—male and female singers singing about heartbreak with a lot of minor chords in the background—whereas the Miami stuff is a little more on the cheerful side, and features mostly female vocalists singing about falling in love and what not.
Freestyle eventually went way beyond its Latino audience, and became one of the dominant sounds of Top 40 radio in the 1980s. I've focused more on the huge radio mega-hits in this mix (because they're more fun), but I've tried to balance it out with a chunk of underground club tunes as well. Hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Digi-Dancehall

Ok so as promised, I'm gonna keep this blog active and keep uploading mixes--just not at the pace that I was keeping up last year. The first mix is one that I should've gotten around to as one of the Year of Mixtapes tapes, but I am just getting done now: Digi-Dancehall.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, "dancehall" referred to the kind of reggae that got played at soundclashes & dancehalls--basically the same as standard-issue reggae, but with a more driving beat and a bigger focus on DJ/MC vocals (the precursor to rap), as opposed to your traditional sung reggae vocals.
In 1985, this whole reggae/dancehall dichotomy was radically redefined when Prince Jammy (and other producers) introduced electronic instrumentation into dancehall music. Suddenly "dancehall" came to connote electronic reggae (in addition to the DJ / toasting business). 
This synthing-up of reggae music in the '80s is the direct ancestor of today's UK bass music genres like jungle, UK garage, dubstep, UK funky, grime, and the like: disco & house are where all electronic dance music ultimately comes from, but the electrification of reggae is how urban Britons were able to relate to the concept of electronic dance music, and adopt house music as their own in the first place, and thereby invent raving. Reggae music still informs the aesthetic choices of urban British musicians more than the American dance styles that kicked the whole thing off.
Anyway, "Digi-Dancehall" is the term for the characteristic style of dancehall from those first few years of experimentation with electronic instrumentation (circa 1985-1990, before the whole Tin Pan thing took over). A lot of people requested this tape, so here it is!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Week 52: Boogie

This is the LAST WEEK, and frankly I'm kind of shocked I actually managed to do this project. It was a lot of work, and it was really fun, but a part of me is relieved it's over so I can actually get to work on other music projects. Either way, I am gonna keep this blog active, posting every week or two with mini-mixes from me, guest mixes from others, and the occasional full-length mixtape from myself. (For all the people who requested specific mixtapes that I never got around to, there's still time!) So keep your eyes peeled guys...

Anyway, this week's subject is Boogie, which is really kind of a vague term (and used more in the UK than the US), but is really the best description for this kind of music: funky, late-1970s disco that draws as much from jazz traditions as it does from R&B, and has the kind of slippery, walking basslines that make you think of the roller rink. I really love this stuff, and figured I'd cover it in this last tape.

Oh, and I purposefully left off "Boogie Wonderland" by Earth, Wind, & Fire and "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by A Taste of Honey because I'm really bored with them.

  1. Pleasure; Joyous (Fantasy, 1977)
  2. The Blackbyrds; Thankful 'Bout Yourself (Fantasy, 1975)
  3. The Jimmy Castor Bunch; Space Age (Atlantic, 1975)
  4. Heatwave; Boogie Nights (Epic, 1976)
  5. Earth, Wind, & Fire; Let Your Feelings Show (CBS, 1979)
  6. Edwin Birdsong; Cola Bottle Baby (Philadelphia International, 1979)
  7. Direct Current; Everybody Here Must Party (TEC Records, 1979)
  8. Bohannon; Let's Start The Dance (Mercury, 1978)
  9. Tasha Thomas; Shoot Me With Your Love (Atlantic, 1978)
  10. Jermaine Jackson; Burnin' Hot (Motown, 1980)
  11. Tamiko Jones; Can't Live Without Your Love (Polydor, 1979)
  12. Shadow; I Need Love (Elektra, 1979)
  13. Rufus & Chaka Khan; Do You Love What You Feel (MCA, 1979)
  14. Gary Toms; Turn It Out (Tear This Building Down) (MCA, 1977)
  15. T-Connection; Do What You Wanna Do (T.K. Disco, 1977)
  16. The Gap Band; Baby Baba Boogie (Mercury, 1979)
  17. GQ; Disco Nights (Rock-Freak) (Arista, 1979)
  18. Jackie Moore; This Time Baby (Columbia, 1979)
  19. Fay Hauser; Reachin' Out For Happiness (Jonathan Fearing Remix) (SMI, 1976)
  20. The Real Thing; Can You Feel The Force? (John Luongo Mix) (Epic, 1978)
  21. Crown Heights Affair; Galaxy of Love (De-Lite, 1978)
  22. Brass Construction; Sambo (Progression) (United Artists, 1976)
  23. 2 Tons O' Fun; Do You Wanna Boogie, Hunh? (Fantasy / Honey, 1980)
  24. Brainstorm; Hot For You (Tabu Records, 1979)