Volume 10: Beni B
January, 1995
It's Just A White Bar

        Now a lot of peops who read the World of Beats column might get the idea that I, The Soulman, am an expert on beats. No, no, no. I've been fortunate enough to talk to some people whom I'd really consider experts, and it's a privilege to be able to give them a forum in which they can drop their knowledge on the world and all you beat people living in it. This month we're going to hear from the man who's taught me the most, a brother by the name of Beni B. Those of y'all from the North Cali area already know about Beni's radio show on KALX 90.7 FM in beautiful Berkeley - he hits you with the fat new hip-hop flavors, but before that, an hour of fat old beats and music. Awhile back he sent me a tape of one of his shows which quickly became the most played cassette in the cars of my Archaeologists crew. From rare sweet soul to obscure rock relics to long forgotten blues jams, Beni B goes deep with his, letting kids know what it's really all about. When you talk about "who's who in the world of beats", Beni B is the man. Word iz bond, he got it goin' on.

        So what I'm gonna' do right now is turn it over to Beni so that he can drop the knowledge about himself, the beat-finding craze, and music in general. Pay attention, kids, class is in session...

        "I used to listen to the likes of KDAY, KGFJ, KJLM, KACF, and KMET back in the day when I was growing up in West Los Angeles. The people who I credit most for turning me on to music are Davey D, Greg Ellis, and the late Mark Edmund of Baytown Records in AIbany, California. Davey gave me the inspiration to be a DJ and Greg helped me develop my skills. Mark E. pulled my coat to old music - I'm talking jazz, soul, funk, blues, rock, the whole nine. Mark used to keep 50-80,000 45's in his store organized by label and he knew where everything was! I've never met anyone as knowledgeable about records as he was. One day he called me over and said 'take this, it'll help you when you're out in the field'. It was my first portable turntable. He also gave me my first copy of 'Soul Drums'. I am very grateful to Mark for the knowledge he imparted on me before he passed away.

        "Baytown Records is also where I first met my man Matt Afrika. He's the breakbeat man, ahead of his time you might say. He's been assisting me on the show for about a year and a half. I've been on the radio since '88.

        "What I try to do with my show is incorporate the old soul, jazz, and funk to give people a sense of, 'damn, this is where hip-hop comes from'. A lot of records that are played on my show, you're never gonna' hear them anywhere else."

        "That's 'Do You Know This'. I wish I had a video camera, 'cause you could sit and make a comedy show at record conventions. Someone is always next to you [asking] 'do you know this? What is this?' Then I got the other one, the "IGABOI Syndrome": 'It Got A Beat On It?' You've got to listen to the music! I find a lot of people don't listen. You do have to ask questions, but you have to go out and do your homework, too, because that's where you discover stuff."

        "A lot of people tend to use records as a status thing: 'Oh yeah, I got that beat, do you have this beat, I got this, I got that, got almost everything'. What I'm saying is that it's not like that. If you're trying to get into collecting stuff, first of all, buy it because you like it. You don't buy records because somebody else has [them].

        "When we first start, we all do what I call "The $50 Chance", where we see a record for fifty bucks, we never heard it, we buy it, take it home and the shit is butt. You're just out of fifty balls. That kind of stuff leads to the DYKT and the IGABOI Syndromes. Go out and learn about it first."

        "Start with a lot of compilations: Luv 'n Haight, Ubiquity Records, Pure, and Sounds of Funk (call Groove Merchant at (415) 252-5766 and Final Vinyl at (213) 296-1372 for info). For a general introduction to soul and funk, start with early James Brown, JB's, and Kool & The Gang.

        "You may start out listening to soul records. You're like, 'Nah, I don't wanna' listen to no jazz'. But then, slowly but surely, you start listening to jazz because your musical taste changes. Then you start listening to rock records, then easy listening...It gets broad, man."

        "There was a guy out here who bought a collection from a deejay from the 70's. Twenty boxes of the shit, all mint condition. Billy Brooks, all kinds of shit, sellin' 'em for two dollars. And these dumb muhphukkahs at the swap meet went bananas. "Oh my god! I can sell this for so-and-so amount!" So he sees how they're flocking like vultures to this shit, so he raises the price next time. See, there's a science to buying records. My rule to people is to never talk to store owners. You don't say, 'Well, I'm looking for this or that'. Just ask if they have any other records, that's all you need to do."

        "You share knowledge with those who share knowledge with you. I give out the names of records, I don't like to play no 'secret squirrel shit', like Q-Tip says. Rule number one is that if you know a record, somebody else knows. If people don't want to tell you records, fuck 'em. A lot of times they don't wanna' tell you records because they don't know. Believe me. Muhfuckahs be frontin'. But remember, it's not what records you have, it's how you flip 'em, kid."

        "The best record show in this country is the soul/disco convention at the Roosevelt hotel in New York City. But you can't buy nothin' 'cause the prices are so goddamn high. They charge $50 for a Paul McCartney record, "Cherries", and you see that in the ten-cent bins all the time. Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's "Love Beach" is another one. This kid tried to sell me that shit for fifteen dollars, and the bum on the street is sellin' that shit for a quarter. Come on, man...two hundred dollars for a record?"

        "It's like we're on a highway of beats. Each stop is something different: rock, country, soundtracks. Some people get off at different points, some continue further. If you listen to the music first, that's where your appreciation for the beats comes from. You get educated through music, not just beats.

        "When I first started getting into old records and shit, kids used to laugh at me. They'd be like, 'Man, nobody cares about that shit!' But now, these same people are coming up to me like, 'Yo, I need some beats, man!' I say, 'Yeah, didn't you tell me you didn't care and shit?' I look at this as part of my life. When I have kids, I wanna' be able to give this music to them. I want my kid to be able to go to my room, pick up a tape from my show in 1994, and be like, 'Damn, my dad really did something'. That's what's important."

Beni B's Beats To Catch:
1."Funk It Down" - Caesar Fraizer
2."Damn Right I Am Somebody" (Love & Happiness Mix - Special Promo) - Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s
3."Knocking At My Door" - Lem Taylor
4."Smilin' Billy Suite, Part 2" - Heath Brothers
5."Where There's A Will There's A Way" - Don Covay & The Jefferson Lemon Blues Band
6."Fonky First" - The Silhouettes
7."Tresspassin'" - Skull Snaps
8."The Mouse" - Seņor Soul
9."Abscretions" - Music, Inc.
10."Theme De Yoyo" - Art Ensemble Of Chicago

        Beni also has to give love to his people: Ali, Matt Africa, Marc B, Joe Quixx, Supreme, Dante Ross, Rob, Reef Daddy, Ju Ju, Shadow, X-Maii, Asia Born, Malichi, Stan, Vic, Rick, A Jervis, Auto, Sureshot, Seante, L.L.S., Stretch Armstrong, Justice League Massive, and last but not least, Soulman and The Archaeologists. To contact Beni B, write him at P.O. Box 198-4510, Berkeley, CA 94720-4510. And as always, you can e-mail the Soulman. And before I sign off, I know I'm late with this, but love goes out to Common Sense for his song "I Used To Love H.E.R.". Just beautiful. And I'm out baby.