Volume 5: HAIR And Thangs
November 1, 1999

It's Just A White Bar

Hold onto your record bags, kids, 'cuz we're about to go where no other World Of Beats column has ever gone. Believe it or not, this time the main entree is not gonna be cooked and served by Chef Soulman (although I do throw down a bad ass dessert after you finish supper, so make sure you eat that up as well). We're gonna talk to the legendary composer of the so-called rock opera HAIR and many other somewhat obscure but oh-so unique recordings, Galt MacDermot, marking this first time that we've kicked it with the actual creator of a lot of the ill breaks and samples that we collect so fervently. The other first is that it'll be my man Eothen Alapatt conducting the interview instead of yours truly, and boy, does he do a good job at it! We might have to call this "Eothen's World Of Beats" in a minute! Eothen and Galt are mad close, so I figured who better to rock this piece correctly. (By the way, Eothen himself and his radio cohort Count Bass D will be featured in the next column, so keep an eye out for that- trust me, you won't want to miss it.) The intro is kinda long, but read it all and learn. We're about to dig deeper than you ever imagined possible...

By Eothen Alapatt
In order to understand the following interview, you gotta' dig this:

Galt MacDermot was born on December 18, 1928 in Montreal, the son of Elizabeth Savage and Terrence MacDermot, a Canadian diplomat. The elder MacDermot, a pianist, exposed his son to a variety of music at an early age. By age 8 Galt had adopted the violin, but it wasn't until he landed behind the piano at age 14 that he took a serious approach to music. Having heard Nat "King" Cole and the infectious boogie-woogie sound emanating from the United States, MacDermot was hooked. He stayed in school - and landed a BA in history and English from Bishop University - but dedicated all of his spare time to music. His love for Duke Ellington grew and grew, and he became a self-described "jazz freak". In 1950, when the Canadian government appointed his father High Commissioner to South Africa, he moved with his family to Cape Town and enrolled in a music program at the university there.

"The African Experience", as MacDermot now calls his time spent there, would come to influence his musical development greatly. His father, a forward thinking Jamaican native, hated the apartheid system propagated by the South African government. Thus it comes as no surprise that MacDermot embraced the music created by native South Africans. He combed Capetown searching for music and vividly recalls the African style of drumming; it's rhythms so much more free than the jazz swing rhythm that he had grown accustomed to in North America. He recalls the complex African singing that he now recognizes as the basis of American gospel. He recalls his family's cook, a drummer who schooled him on ways to incorporate new beats into stock rhythmic phrases. And he recalls his summers spent in the North, listening to the work songs of African miners. Attempting to describe his experience, MacDermot recently stated "Once you hear African music, you...", before pausing abruptly. He continued, "It's serious music, they're not faking anything." However, upon his return to Canada, MacDermot did not immediately put into practice that which Africa taught him. He assumed the relatively low-key job of organist in a Baptist church and played with two bands on the side - one for club gigs and one focusing on calypso. But it was in Canada that MacDermot would first break into the music industry. He wrote some music for the play "My Fur Lady" in 1955 and ended up landing a record deal with the company that recorded the musical, Laurentien Records. In 1956 Laurentien recorded MacDermot's "Art Gallery Jazz", an LP that contained a version of a tune that he had written in Cape Town, "African Waltz". Later, in 1960 while en route to Amsterdam, he stopped in London to play his record to bandleader Johnny Dankworth. Dankworth told MacDermot on the spot that he would record the song, but at the time MacDermot thought little of it. It wasn't until he heard from a friend that English radio was heavily rotating Dankworth's cover that he realized he had his first hit. It was at this point that MacDermot decided to move to England, as he now jokes, "to exploit himself". But it wouldn't be so easy. He found work scarce in England. So scarce in fact, that he moved back to Canada before his royalty checks ran out! He did not remain in Canada long, opting instead to move southward to New York City in 1964. Cannonball Adderly had recently covered "African Waltz" (actually releasing an album under the same name!) and MacDermot had won a Grammy for his composition. Through the connections he had established, he met producer Rick Shorter, who at the time was in the business of assembling studio musicians to cut tunes for music publishers. Shorter introduced MacDermot to the mid-Manhattan studio musicians that would become his co-workers for the next few years.
This is where our story begins:

Eothen: In 1964 you moved to New York, from Canada, in search of work as a musician.
Galt: Yes, and I met Rick Shorter, a producer. He wanted a ska tune for Woody Herman so I wrote one. He liked my piano playing so he started using me on his record dates, cutting demo records.

E: So it was through Rick that you first met Bernard Purdie?
G: Yes, I had done about three or four sessions with Rick when he said to me, "There's a new guy in town--he's the top". That was Bernard, and he was the top. He was excellent. That was about 1964 or 1965.

E: So at this point, Bernard was fresh on the scene from Maryland?
G: Well, he'd been around, playing with King Curtis and the like. He would do sessions around town with signs all over his drums: Pretty Purdie, The Hit Maker [laughs].

E: You two hit it off immediately...
G: Oh, yes. I was a bit older than he was but our tastes were the same. He knew exactly what I was doing. When I played something on the piano, he'd pick right up on the drums.

E: How about the others? Snag Allen, the guitarist...
G: In those first few years, I ran into so many great musicians--guitar players, even pianists. But out of all of them, Snag appealed most to me. I used him on my first session as a leader. As well as Jimmy Lewis--the bassist.

E: So mostly black dudes in your sessions--you were the anomaly.
G: [Laughs]

E: But I'm not saying that you didn't have a keen sense of music. Before you moved to New York, you'd seen the world--Africa, England. You understood music--especially the rhythm and blues that would become funk.
G: Yes, In England I was playing the jazz swing rhythms--but I was really feeling the African rhythms I had heard when I was a student in South Africa. But when I came to New York, I noticed that the rhythms that people were playing were different even than those that I heard in England and in Africa.

E: So when was it that you noticed that the swing jazz rhythm was going to lose its dominance in American music?
G: Oh, I noticed that long ago--in the 1950s. As soon as I returned to Canada from Africa, I heard these rhythm and blues acts coming up to Montreal from New York and thought, "This is the direction music is going to go."

E: But this wasn't yet funk per se.
G: Oh but it was--those musicians were very intense about their rhythms -- and it wasn't swing. Serious stuff. And it wasn't a shuffle the drummer played--it was an even 8th note with a strong backbeat.

E: And in the mid 60s, the backbeat changed even more--it got more powerful. Remember that Lee Dorsey song we listened to, "Get Out OF My Life Woman"?
G: What year was that?

E: 1966.
G: Really!

E: Yeah that was the pre funk of New Orleans and the South in general. White rock and rollers were not doing anything like that at the time.
G: Oh yeah, the rhythm and blues that I was listening to was all black...

E: Now in the same year, you recorded your first instrumental album that you released on Kilmarnock--Shapes of Rhythm. You used those sessioners we just mentioned--Snag, Bernard, and Jimmy--to record your vision of that rhythmic change. "Coffee Cold" is the track off that album that, to me, most clearly anticipates the whole funk movement of the late 60s. Now there were other songs on the album that had the feel--"Field of Sorrow" especially -- but "Coffee Cold"! The drums so loud and strong, driving the whole track. Snag only playing the backbeat. Why record a song like that in 1966? You know, people still listen to that song in amazement...
G: Well, I don't know why. Maybe the chord progressions? That leant to the funk feel. Plus we were trying to put as much rhythm into that song as possible. We did that with all of our songs, but that song especially leant to it.

E: When you were done with the session--what were you thinking?
G: Well, we had so much fun--I don't think that we took more than one take on each song. Such a good session!

E: Did you think to yourself--"You know, I just recorded something that is pretty revolutionary?"
G: Oh no, I just thought that it was good. I always thought that any session I did with those guys was good [laughs]...

E: At any rate, come a couple years later - 1968--funk, because of musicians like James Brown, was coming to the forefront. You too were involved in bringing funk to the masses, with your score to the immensely popular musical HAIR. Some songs, like "Where Do I Go", you wrote in 1967 for the first run of the show at Joe Papp's Public Theater. Some, like "Let The Sunshine In", you wrote for the Broadway version in 1968. HAIR continued your move towards the funk side.
G: Well my idea was to make a total funk show. They said they wanted rock and roll--but to me that translated to "funk".

E: So what is all the confusion about? Everyone calls HAIR a rock musical, but now we look back and say, "Oh, 'Colored Spade', 'Ripped Open By Metal Explosions'... those are funk songs".
G: You know, part of the difference was the band--we had a funky band [Laughs]!

E: And a lot of those musicals that came out after HAIR with lesser bands and lesser composers were actually rock musicals--the music was horrible!
G: Well, you have to remember, a lot of post HAIR musicals only used straight ballads. They added a backbeat--that's not enough! On HAIR I wanted to include an African influence with the backbeat.

E: It would seem funny that you, a white guy from Canada, had such a great understanding of Africa and of the musicians you worked with. You were definitely closer to Bernard's thought processes, than let's say a white musician like Robert Plant.
G: That's true (laughs)! But the truth is, I didn't know that. I just liked what I was doing. I was aware that a lot of people didn't understand what I was doing--and didn't particularly like it!

E: When you reopened HAIR on Broadway, you also changed your band. Bernard couldn't play...
G: Well he was too busy. So I asked Jimmy to bring in a drummer--and he introduced me to Idris Muhammad.

E: Now about this time, Jimmy, Bernard and Idris had started to really kill East Coast soul jazz sessions for Blue Note and Prestige and all that. You said you liked Lou Donaldson--were you listening to those records? Johnny Hammond, Sonny Phillips, Rueben Wilson etc.?
G: No, not really. I was listening to WNJR out of New Jersey -- they played funk, R&B mostly--not much jazz. I'd lost interest in jazz in the 50's.

E: But the whole soul jazz movement was really a melding of the funk concept and some jazz progressions. A lot closer to blues and funk than to jazz -- except for the improvisational sections. But anyway, you weren't into this kind of thing.
G: Yeah, I knew Idris was more of a jazz drummer than Bernard was--he had that leaning. But I had no idea what he was doing when he wasn't playing the show. When I met Idris--he was Leo Morris then--I saw a different kind of power in him than I had grown accustomed to with Bernard. It took me a while to appreciate him. He has an extraordinary power!

E: You know, on the RCA HAIR album, even though the band is mixed low as to give precedence to the vocals, if any two instruments pop through it's Jimmy's bass and Idris' drums.
G: Oh yeah!

E: Idris and those guys ripped those songs apart.
G: Right--and after about a year, he and the rest of the band had become so unbelievable that I had to record them as a group! I had only played with the band for a couple months, and then I had to travel all over the world to open different runs of the show. But no other band I saw could match our show. They couldn't imitate us--they did what they thought was right, and it worked to a degree, but it wasn't close to what we had.

E: So the next major label album you did was First Natural HAIR Band?
G: Yes, I suggested that we record, and the band was all for it. The songs we chose to record were the lesser-known songs from the show, and the songs the band played best.

E: You had already done an instrumental HAIR album--HAIR Pieces on Verve Forecast in 1967--but First Natural HAIR Band was a total different feel. HAIR Pieces was more palpable--you used strings and a vocal chorus. But this one had a raw, funk feel. Some songs on the album--"Walking in Space" for example, with the horns punching with the percussion, with Charlie Brown and Al Fontaine adding rhythm on guitar to back up Idris and Jimmy--are great examples of what a funk song could be.
G: Well, the whole band was a rhythm section. The whole point of that album was to emphasize rhythm. Only Charlie, Al and I would take some solos.

E: Now, the one song that stands out most from the album is "Ripped Open By Metal Explosions" which happens to be your favorite song of the whole musical. What made that song stick out in your mind like that?
G: I don't know--the feel I guess. It's like a blues - but it's not...

E: What is it about these morose songs and you?! "Coffee Cold", remember your original lyrics, "Coffee cold, brown and indifferent..." - "Duffer" off of The Nucleus. These aren't the happiest of songs but you do them so well.
G: It's a feel that works. I'm not a depressed person, but there's something about sad words that I like! But we all liked playing "Ripped Open By Metal Explosions". In many ways it was the climax of the HAIR show. There was a war, and then followed a fantasy where everyone dies. They gradually stand up and come back to life, and "Ripped Open By Metal Explosions" plays in the background as they sing. It's very dramatic. Powerful, not atmospheric in the least...

E: So you finish this record, for which you are paid only as a sessioner. But when it comes out, it obviously doesn't get the promotional attention that it deserves. It's funny, the English Company HAIR records are easier to find than this one, an album released domestically that far surpasses it musically. That's kind of crazy, cause your band was so good! And now, to lovers of funk music, we want a record like First Natural HAIR Band badly. More than we would ever want a vocal version!
G: It's good to hear you say that, because to me, it's much more important to hear the rhythm of a song.

E: About the time United Artists issued First Natural HAIR Band, you released a small press run of the soundtrack Woman Is Sweeter on Kilmarnock. Now, before HAIR you released Fergus MacRoy's first LP and Shapes of Rhythm independently. After HAIR, and all the financial backing you gained, you continue to release records, but they hardly ever get sold!
G: Well really, Kilmarnock was an outlet for me to record music that I knew the majors wouldn't like. There was no way a company besides Kilmarnock would record Woman Is Sweeter. It was the soundtrack to a tiny movie by Martine Barrat.

E: An interesting fact about that soundtrack is that it features both Idris and Bernard playing drums, though not at the same time. What dynamics! What a great time for music... Even a song like "Space", which you yourself said you envisioned as a ballad, is really an quirky, self contained commentary on funk.
G: Quite intense really--I was just playing it with the band the other day, and I realize that now!

E: There were a lot of songs like that. Like HAIR, Woman Is Sweeter bounces all over the place. And you have these two drum masters, that you're working in a way that soul jazz leaders never did--you'd often only find Idris or Bernard in their respective blues or funk shuffles. On your record they jump from one rhythm to the next.
G: Of course. You see, those were all the ideas that I had for the movie--I scored that movie in about a month. And I used every idea I had! Some of them were sort of bizarre--but they worked nonetheless.

E: HAIR was great for more reasons than one. It made these little projects possible. But there was this one story I remember you telling me that really captured your take on success?
G: Well that was a little before HAIR really took off on Broadway. I was walking down 8th street in Manhattan. It was raining and my shoes started to leak. They were these old, pointed shoes that I had bought when I played organ. I had just gotten a thousand bucks from Joe Papp, so I went and bought a pair of desert boots and threw the old shoes in the garbage!

E: You know, a lot of other people would have squandered their money on either drugs, huge houses or cars. But that was never the case with you -- you funneled your money into releasing music you believed in. That's why I enjoy that story--it kind of captures your anti-materialist nature.
G: Well, I'm only really interested in music. Well, I like to have a decent car. And I did buy myself an old schoolhouse here in Staten Island. But I put the money into what interested me. And believe me, I was very happy to record whatever I wanted.

E: After Woman Is Sweeter, you released many records on Kilmarnock. But rather than getting sold, most of them ended up in your basement.
G: Yes, I had two friends, Joe Lewis in New York and John Holden in Montreal, that helped me run the company, but we didn't sell any records. Joe would see to it that the records got assembled, and I believe he would hand sell them to certain stores. But we had no distribution, and I got no response from anyone--so I would record, press an album, store the records away, and move on.

E: You recorded an album by Billy Butler, a guitarist we all know from his session work and his solo albums on Prestige and the like.
G: Yes, Billy Butler Plays Via Galatica. I think I first met Billy because he subbed in the HAIR band. Or I might have met him on a session, for he was a good friend with Jimmy. Anyway, he played in the show Via Galatica. And he approached me about recording some of the tunes from the show.

E: You know, a lot of people only used Billy, Idris, Jimmy for that stock drum beat, bass line, or guitar riff. But you produce them on a record, and it's a totally different feel. Billy Butler on Via Galatica is a much different Billy Butler than on "Twang Thang."
G: But I didn't know that. There were certain guys who couldn't pick up on what I was into. And there were certain ones who did. The ones who did, I used--like Billy and Idris.

E: Now The Nucleus--which was a high point for Kilmarnock was it not?
G: The Nucleus was released after my musical Two Gentleman Of Verona. It contained songs for two soundtracks I did--Duffer, which came out in England, and Ever After All which was released over here. I used Gordon Edwards on bass, because Jimmy was still busy with HAIR. I used Ted Dunbar and Billy Nichols on guitar. Very nice guitar players! It was one of my few instrumental albums--I think it was my last.

E: It was a very funky record--much different than say The Karl Marx Play or Salome Bey Sings Songs From Dude. As the 70s progressed, you recorded some soundtracks that never came out--Fortune and Men's Eyes with Chuck Rainey on bass and Billy on guitar and still later you did the film version of Ionesco's Rhinoceros. But you took a break from releasing records on Kilmarnock in the mid 70s.
G: Yes, but I didn't take a break from music. I traveled to Jamaica and started working with Derek Walcot from Trinidad. I didn't record my work down there - except for O' Babylon--I was just having fun. I really got back into music stateside after I re-orchestrated the HAIR score for the movie in 1979. I got to experiment with horns and more elaborate orchestrations. Then I created the New Pulse Jazz Band because I enjoyed that experience so much. For once the band was more than a rhythm section. It was fun--and I still play with the band today, though it's stripped down a bit. It had gotten a bit big at 14 pieces!

E: Since you mentioned the late 70s, let me say that it's thankful you never embraced disco!
G: No, that never interested me because that music lacks rhythm. After a while people rejected funk. I noticed that after I did the musical Dude in the early 70s. There was no response from the crowd. Maybe it had gotten overdone, maybe people were over saturated. But they didn't want it anymore, of that I was sure.

E: How sad. What power laid in 18 year old musicians in the late 60's was totally lost by the mid 70's. The next time that young kids would come to have that power again was with the hip hop generation.
G: Yes... Now who was it that did "Down with the King"?

E: Pete Rock produced the song for Run DMC.
G: Yes, you know that was the first sample I knew about it--"Where Do I Go" off of the HAIR soundtrack. I had heard rap in the 80's--on the street you know--but I was never that impressed with it. It seemed like more of the same rhythms that I wasn't interested in. Kind of tired funk... But as producers started getting more adventurous with their beats, that's when it changed.

E: Some of those adventurous producers, tired of those James Brown and Ultimate Breaks samples, moved quickly in the direction of you, David Axelrod and the like. And they discovered your Kilmarnock records.
G: Victor Padilla (The Mighty VIC of the Ghetto Professionals--E.) was the first person to come to the house to buy my records in the early 90s. I didn't really know what was happening in hip hop. He called me up, told me he was into hip hop, and that he was looking for Woman is Sweeter. So I invited him over, and he went though the basement.

E: At this point, no one had seen the cache of joints in your house. Basically what you hadn't stored in Canada was in your basement. You had hundreds of copies of those LPs!
G: Yes, and Victor bought a few. Then he started bringing his friends over. He was here quite often and he always brought somebody. A guy came over from California, one guy came down from Boston. We talked about music--but not about the music he was making.

E: Or the music that his friends were making. Because now, I think back on some of the guys he brought by the house--JuJu, Lord Finesse--at that time those guys were producing some landmark hip hop!
G: I sort of knew Victor was a musician. You see, Victor had an ear for certain chord progressions in my music that he liked - that I liked! He would spot them in my songs. I was more surprised of that than the fact that he had found me, or that he had heard about Kilmarnock. But his friends never said much--they were just nice guys. I didn't even know they were in the business.

E: It's interesting--when we first started talking, you hadn't even heard VIC's music! But your music obviously meant a lot to them!
G: Well, you know Victor wanted to record us. I said sure, but Bernard was a bit skittish...

E: A cover of "Get Out Of My Life Woman" right?
G: Yes that's right. He gave me this record that had all of these versions of that song. I wrote out a version, but we never recorded it.

E: It wasn't until 1994, when you received the tape of Rashad Smith's "Whoo Haa" in the mail for sample clearance that you really got into hip hop.
G: Right. I really liked that song, and I started following its progression. I started listening to Hot 97 in my car and listened carefully to what was going on.

E: By this time, your work had already been established in the hip hop canon. Your soundtrack to Cotton Comes To Harlem had been used several times, First Natural HAIR Band was in the mix, and many people had gotten samples from variations of HAIR songs. Remember the Japanese cast's version of "Dead End"?
G: "Dead End"--Victor liked one. But he wasn't the one who used that...

E: No, it was Large Professor. But many people were going through your songs and isolating the elements they liked. And along comes Busta, still relatively unknown, rapping over your keyboard work and there is a huge rush to find Galt MacDermot records.
G: Well, then other people started coming in to buy records. Mark Johnson (notorious record buyer / dealer) was one person. We were happy to get them out of the house! The records were finally moving, they hadn't moved in thirty years!

E: What other records were people buying?
G: They would check out all my records. Even odd records like The Karl Marx Play. But they tended to buy the instrumental funk stuff--The Nucleus, HAIRCuts, and Shapes Of Rhythm. Everything about it surprised me, but I figured they had their reasons. I mean, I liked those records so it's fair enough that someone else would!

E: And basically, you sold out of every one.
G: Well, you saw the situation. Some records haven't sold at all--like Take This Bread, we have a couple thousand of those (laughs)! The instrumental stuff is gone. We only have a couple copies of each.

E: So all of your records are circulating within the hip hop community - and you like this! What is the value you see in hip hop music?
G: As I started listening to hip hop, I heard the rhythms and the beats. They were interesting. So I kept listening more and more, and enjoying them more and more.

E: Well hip hop heads are still enjoying the records you put out. The reissues help get the music to a broader base than the few people lucky enough to score original copies. And heads are getting excited about all of these unreleased tracks and albums that are in the works...
G: You know, music swings around. Funk came to an end in about 1974. But now people are returning to that feel. That has always been the best part of American music--that bluesy feel, its emotion... But you know, it does sort of surprise me that Desco and record labels like that are putting out straight funk stuff. I think that if I was a young musician, I would be trying to find my own thing.

E: But you yourself stated that rhythm hasn't changed in thirty odd years. In 1974, you granted an interview where you stated that rhythm in popular music had to change. But it hasn't.
G: No, it hasn't. And that's curious. When I say rhythm has to change, maybe I'm being too forceful. Maybe it doesn't have to change. You hear different rhythms come in and out, like the reggae rhythm came in for a while, and then the disco thing. I don't know what's in now--but I do know that the rappers are doing something serious. I'm really only interested in serious music. Pop music never meant a thing to me. Even when I was a kid dancing, I would try to get rid of the pop songs and put on Duke Ellington. You know, the good music.

E: And now, with people like PB Wolf the cycle continues. Independent labels, much like Kilmarnock...
G: Right, they're bringing out the good music.

E: You've had a chance now to hear how your music influences the hip hop generation. And on the whole you're pleased.
G: Oh yes. And I think hip hop producers are very careful with what they do. Like that one song that used "Ripped Open By Metal Explosions"...

E: Buckwild's "C'mon With The C'mon" for The Artifacts.
G: It's so beautifully done. The way they isolated the bass, added in the drums. It's very good--they got a good sound.

E: And records like The Beatnuts first LP. These are musicians with no formal training, but they have an innate musical sense. They're the ones who are digging up music like your own, weaving it into hip hop songs, and making the music known again.
G: It's excellent. It's nice that people are ready to hear this music. I recorded so much music, and if people didn't feel it, then I filed it away. Even people like my old managers weren't interested. But now there's interest--and that's a whole lot better than no interest! (laughs). I like the appreciation - the fact that these young guys hear what I heard.

For more information, check www.GaltMacDermot.com.

Top 10 Galt MacDermot Beats To Catch:
1. "Coffee Cold" -- Shapes of Rhythm (Kilmarnock)
2. "Ripped Open By Metal Explosions" -- First Natural HAIR Band (UA)
3. "Space" -- Woman Is Sweeter OST (Kilmarnock)
4. "Harlem Medley" -- Cotton Comes To Harlem OST (UA)
5. "Duffer" -- The Nucleus (Kilmarnock)
6. "Dead End" -- Japanese HAIR Cast (RCA)
7. "Colored Spade" -- The Graham Walker Sound feat. Alan Hawkshaw (Saga)
8. "HAIR" -- Version Original Mexico--Obra Completa (Orfeon)
9. "Let The Sunshine In" -- Ray Bloch Singers (Ambassador)
10. "Let The Sunshine In" -- The Moog Machine (Columbia)

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar

DA GRASSROOTS: "Passage Through Time" LP

    It was my pleasure to spend part of Rocksteady weekend in New York this past summer with these cats from north of the border. Good people, and they make good music too. The debut LP on Conception Records takes us back to the days when real hip hop was the "in" thing. Especially liking the "Thematics" single but it's all sick, sick, sick. Do yourself a favor and cop this one, kids.

LYRICS BORN & THE POETS OF RHYTHM: "I Changed My Mind" (Spinna Remix)
    Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about!! Crazy, crazy shit here- kinda hard to even categorize this. All I know is I'm feelin' the singing as well as Spinna's preposterous reconstruction of some vintage Kool & The Gang sounds. I hope this a precursor to what we'll be hearing in the next millennium of music.

RAEKWON: "Sneaker Addict" (or "Sneakers") - heard on the Internet
    Most of the new stuff I've heard from The Wu's resident chef has been so-so, but I'm diggin' this. Runs down the names of all the kicks on this joint, even goes back to the old school Lottos and Diadoras!! Beat sounds like a Pete Rock treat to me. Lovely shit.

CHINO XL: "Never" & "Not Fa Nuthin" (with Saafir)
    Why don't people talk about Chino more? He just might be the best MC of the moment.

MOS DEF (with Talib Kweli): "Know That"
    I still haven't heard Mos' "Black On Both Sides" LP in it's entirety yet, so even though I haven't felt most of what I've heard, I'll reserve judgment before I start calling it "Wack On Both Sides". One cut I'm "mos def-initely" loving is this one. The beat should be included on my list of top flipped beats of all time... if you know the record that they chopped up to make this track I'm sure you'd have to agree. And is it me, or does Mos just sound better when he's with Talib?

OL' DIRTY BASTARD: "Nigga Please" LP
    Sounds like that drunken crack addict you saw the other day walking down the street spewing incoherent profanities to anybody who'd listen, doesn't it? Well, that's pretty much what it is. But to put this shit on record and actual sell it to people? Oh, Big Baby Jesus is the MAN. An artistic genius if ever I've seen one. My favorite album this year, but maybe it should be in the comedy section, not rap.

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar


Been reading your column since back in the Rap Sheet days (always read it in the stores for your little articles, never picked it up). Anyways, happy to see you on the web. It's kinda funny reading what you have to say and agreeing with most of it! Maybe it's because we're from the same school of hip hop. I am thirty years old and still too deep in this shit. Still diggin and still buggin' out like a little bitch when I hear the latest Primo joint (in the latest case is Group Home's Legacy- Primo made the most logical sounding horn chop!). I don't think anyone will ever understand it or appreciate it, except for others like yourself. Enough of the BS, one of my favorite recent chops has been the Beatminerz "Any Man". Chopping something common and making it sound good was a treat. Anyway, keep up the great work and inspiration!
DJ Phil
Designated Hittaz
San Diego

I'm feelin' the pain too. I got the (Source beat-digging) article and no Soulman, what's goin' on? Maybe you need some cred by bringing out vinyl ( like Large Professor and Pete Rock). Dunno what's going on down at the Source. I knew about you well before Kon and Amir and you're the only one who's helpin' the rest of the world. I still think you're mad- just like Kool Moe Dee said, "I'd treat you like a Buddah and bow my head"

Soulman Sez: Thanks for writing, Perish. Yeah, I was upset about being left out of that Source article, but I've gotten over it. My murderous dreams ended a few weeks ago.

Yo Soulman,
WHERE YOU AT this last month. People need their monthly knowledge on crate-diggin', you know.
Peace, Akki
barriosoundz@mail.com (DJ AME)

Soulman Sez: Glad you missed me, well, I'm back! I know y'all junkies need your beat fix on a regular basis, but please be patient and remember- this is not a monthly publication. I do new World Of Beats columns whenever I have time to do it, and it'll probably rarely be every month. If you want to be updated on what's going on, sign up for the Listbot mailing list (see the "New Shit" page for details).

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar

As I've stated in past columns, interviewing the big name cats in the record biz ain't really my thing. I'll talk to ANYBODY who I think is interesting for one reason or another, whether you have precious metal plaques on your walls or just a roll of tin foil on your kitchen table. Big names don't necessarily impress me- besides, if every one of the 50 or so hip hop magazines on the market is covering some rap superstar, why would I want to cover him too? Well, I wouldn't. Too many talented artists that are unsigned or just un"shined" are basically ignored by the rap media.
So leave it to The Soulman to pick up the slack. In this new segment we're gonna focus on the heroes, sung & unsung, of the crate diggin' community and see where their heads are at. Producers, dealers, collectors, DJ's, etc. will answer the tough questions (and the stupid ones) posed by yours truly. We'll start off this month with a profile of my favorite religious person, the good reverend Ryan from Jump Jump Music in Portland.
Check the vitals:

Ryan Shortell AKA Shinez or Rev. Shinez or Pastor Player

CLAIMS TO FAME (Look What I Done Did):
Just local stuff. My group The Lifesavas & two solo artists: Libretto & Majestic. You will hearing about all of them shortly. (Ryan's also known for his beat bin at Jump Jump Records in Portland- www.jumpjump.com. You want some nice breaks at a decent price? Ryan's your man. -Soulman the interrupter)

Hearing my dad's old stuff and recognizing shit from hip hop joints.

For sampling I don't limit myself to any one kind of music. But when it comes to spinning, I have to go with disco breaks and dance music from all over the world.

Doing the Errol Flynn at the Palladium with my peoples Biz Markie and Jimmy Castor.

Ass? I'll have to say discovering an ill-ass break from a female that you're getting fine pieces of ass from (that shit happens!).

Maceo & All The Kings Men "Doin Their Own Thing"

Hell yes to both. Tribe is dope regardless to what people say. One problem is that they set very high standards early on, but they haven't gone downhill. They are just trying to keep it NEW. As far as Vivrant Thing goes (in the wise words of the Funky Four +1)"It's the Joint"! You can dance to this & the drums are bangin'. Plus the Ladies Love it more than Cool James. Hopefully Q-Tip will finally start making some major chips off this and future joints. "A rappin' nigga for real, you would catch me in a cipher if I didn't cop a deal".

My trusty old SP1200 but I wish I could afford the MPC 3000.

Portland has been very good to me over the years. I own two copies of joints such as Headless Heroes, Rass & Marchin On, all of them for under 10.00 each (nana nana na). But most recently Don Blackman for $3.00.


Various for sampling, but for listening Roy Ayers and lots of 80's soul & dance music.

The Soulman (Ha ha ha very funny, Rev -Honest Phill's rebuttal)...no, but there are a lot of fools out in NY.. And Dave V, in Seattle. I think he was the first ever recipient of the golden bozack award (talk to my man Supreme).

About 4,500. Yeah you can have all my Chick Corea.

1. "Rockin' You Eternally" -- Leon Ware
2. "Holding You Loving You" -- Don Blackman
3. "Would You Believe In Me" -- John Lucien
4. "Turn Off The Lights" -- Teddy
5. "Love TKO" -- Teddy
6. Lots of Luther V.
7. Lots Of Freddy Jackson
8. "In the Mood" -- Tyrone Davis / Rated X Tra -- Leon Haywood
9. "Electric Relaxation" -- Tribe
10. "Face Down Ass Up" -- Two Live Crew

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar


Just the other day I decided to do at least one more Soulman tape before I retire from the tape biz. The working title will be "Sex, Drugs & Breaks: The Final Temptation". Not for the kiddies, though - this will come with a parental advisory sticker and everything. Lots of explicit and bizarre stuff as well as plenty o' garden variety breaks. Be on the lookout sometime in early 2000...


Most of my tapes feature a wide variety of musical styles -- a breakbeat potpourri if you will. But some folks have informed me that they just wanna' hear jazzy stuff, or funky stuff, or whatever. Okay, I hear ya. I'm now putting together a Best Of Archaeologists Classics series with each volume focusing on a certain style of music. I'll let ya know when they're ready to go...


Although y'all know that I was pissed about being left outta' that Source shit, in the last few months I've done a bunch of other interviews you might wanna' check out. Peep The Turntable Lab at www.turntablelab.com and see a crazy-ass joint in which I reveal many of my deepest secrets. More places I'll be popping up soon: The Washington Post, Joe Allen's book "2000 Black Archived" and the Australian newspaper The Curtin Independent, among others. Time Magazine's "Man Of The Millennium" cover will be next, so keep an eye out for that, too (riiiiight....).


Since this site has been up and running I've received a lot of requests for sample info. Who sampled this, who sampled that, etc., etc. Well, it's getting to be a little too much. I'm not gonna tell y'all not to ask me any questions but I will request for y'all to go easy on me a little, okay? I can't answer every question I get, I just don't have time for it. And if I do answer your question, it's my final answer. Don't e-mail me back inquiring about album title, year, serial number, what the cover looks like, and so on. You will get no more info, so don't do it. It's not that I don't love y'all, but Allah helps those who help themselves, ya dig? (Meaning do ya homework, not help ya self to all of The Soulman's secrets!)...


"Which one of your tapes do you recommend?" is one of the most FAQ's that I've been getting via e-mail by heads who'd like to purchase my little chromed-out cartridges filled with nuggets of funk, straight from my sacks of soul. The real answer: buy em all, dammit! But of course, not everyone can plunk down a half year's pay from their after school gig to buy tapes, even if they're as dope as that Soulman shit. So to answer all questions once and for all (or until Soulman WOB Vol. 4 comes out, if it ever does), here's a list of my most highly recommended tapes, in order:
  1. Soulman WOB Vol.3
  2. Soulman WOB Vol.2
  3. Archaeologists Classics Vol.26
  4. Arch. Classics Vol. 32
  5. Arch. Classics Vol. 47
  6. Arch. Classics Vol. 45
  7. Arch. Classics Vol. 27
  8. Arch. Classics Vol. 28
  9. Soulman WOB Vol.1
  10. Arch. Classics Vol. 67

Oh, and you might be glad to know that CDs will be coming soon (yes, I'm finally giving in -- I guess this damn CD thing isn't a fad after all!) Stay tuned, news on that will be coming.

It's Just A White Bar

It's Just A White Bar
I don't pretend to be the world's leading authority on basketball. But will I let that stop me from telling you who's gonna be the shit this year in the NBA? No sir, I won't. So here's my short list of who's gonna bust who's ass this season. Peter Vescey, take note. (By the way, I made these selections before the season started, regardless of when you may be reading them.)

Kevin Garnett, F
Latrell Sprewell, F
Wilt Chamberlain, C (forever)
Allen Iverson, G
Vince Carter, G
Pineriders: Jason Williams, Stephon Marbury (I think he's gonna eat niggas asses like Canibus this year), Steve Francis, Larry Hughes, Lamar Odom, Chris Webber & Shaq Daddy. Kobe Bryant might've made it, but his name means "tender meat" in Japanese. That's grounds for gettin' that ass waived or beatdown around here.

Karl Malone, F
Grant Hill, F
Tim Duncan, C
Penny Hardaway, G (sensitive li'l beeyatch)
John Stockton, G

TEAMS ON THE COME UP: Clippers, 76ers, Hornets.

TEAMS THAT ARE ABOUT TO FALL THE HELL OFF: Jazz, Pacers, Hawks, Spurs (wishful thinking).


And may I give a big rest in peace to the NBA's greatest individual player of all time, The Big Dipper, Wilt Chamberlain. Records may be made to be broken, but no one will ever again do some of the things that this man did (and I'm not talking about the 20,000 women, either).

That's all for now... sorry y'all had to wait so long, but we packed a lot into this one to try to make up for the delay. As always, drop me a line and let me know how I'm doin' and also how you liked my boy Eothen's interview with Galt Mac. And if any of y'all out there have writing skills and want to contribute something to the site, by all means, send it to me! If I'm feelin' it I might use it. No, you won't get paid (hell, I don't!). And before I forget, to the great Galt MacDermot- thank you for blessing this little world of beats with your priceless musical memories and insights. We are eternally honored. And extra thanks for the treats from your basement!

Peace party people, haha, see ya later...

e-mail the Soulman