just a few things i been listening to this week, no deep central connecting theme. some old favourites, some recent discoveries, some mistakes.
Wait hold up Jesse what is that picture you’re using for this post?
That’s a city worker removing the statue of Edward Cornwallis, the genocidal waste of human life that issued a bounty on scalps of every Mi’kmaq man woman and child when occupying their land to found the city of Halifax, from the park that still bears his name across Barrington Street from the Registry of Deeds where my parents’ business used to be based. He was a monster even by the standards of the day, even by the standards of colonial England, and don’t you forget it until we’ve all forgotten him for good.
OK thanks now hows about a new playlist? You’re late!
ok jeez here
- “Message From a Black Man” by The Temptations
The Temptations had a tempestuous career, and probably my favourite part of it was not their favourite part. I like the psychedelic soul production of producer Norman Whitfield, who arguably de-emphasized a lot of the distinct elements that made them a great group to begin with, and who definitely irritated pretty much every member of the group. I’m sorry, I’m a sucker for fuzz and thud and whomp. That said, this classic Whitfield composition features lead vocals from the recently departed Dennis Edwards, as well as other great singers in the group’s 1969 lineup, and it feels like the right way to kick off my first mix of Black History Month.
- “Baker’s Dozen” by Skyzoo, featuring Raheem Devaughn
I could have chosen any one of half a (baker’s?) dozen lyrical performances from the new Skyzoo record for this mix, but this was the beat that stood out most to me. I love this kind of grumpy, insistent left hand piano sample.
- “Coach Fresh” by Maestro Fresh Wes
If anything, it’s almost TOO anthemic?? If that’s a thing? But Wesley Williams’ rhymes haven’t dulled at all in 30 years – or if they ever did, he’s re-whet them. Maestro Fresh Whet. Thank you.
- “That’s How I Feel About It” by Factor & Myka 9
This is one of my favourite songs, I think maybe ever. I go back to it often, and it always feels good. It was the starting point for this whole playlist, mainly because Factor has a new album dropping this Friday (pre-order Wisdom Teeth here!) and although the yearning pop (seriously!) single with Ceschi, “The Gospel,” has a video, it isn’t on streaming services yet. So I just went with a different Factor-produced favourite, of which I never run short.
- “One More Page of Insecurity, Please” by Veruca Salt
I always liked that “leave me lying here” song, but never knew what it was called. Even though it says its title, “Volcano Girls,” in the lyrics, when I saw the EP of that name in the new releases on Google Play, I didn’t know it was a reissue! I thought wow, new Veruca Salt! I hope it’s as good as that “leave me lying here” song! I added it to a shuffling playlist of the week’s releases, and this song was the first to pop up, and I still thought it was new, and I thought wow they’ve hardly changed at all, classic Veruca Salt! Then after a few other tracks by other other artists, “Volcano Girls” came on and I was revealed as a poseur to myself?!
- “Answers Me” by Arthur Russell
You probably think I found out about Arthur Russell because Kanye’s half-formed, half-dope “30 Hours” is built around a sample of the vocal melody from this song. And I DID, but then I FORGOT! What got me to take a listen to Echoes, Russell’s only solo album was reading about the history of legendary ’80s indie hip-hop label Fresh Records, which was a subsidiary of Sleeping Bag Records, which Russell co-founded. Fresh was home to Mantronix, T La Rock, Just-Ice, and even early EPMD and Nice & Smooth before Rush Associated Labels, so I’ve always had it spinning on the centres of my 12″s, but one day I was idly trying to figure out what their parent label was all about – mainly because Sleeping Bag was a very cute name. Poking around, I read that Russell contributed cello to lots of disco records, and had made a bunch of experimental songs running his cello through effects and singing disjointed, abstract lyrics. It’s haunting!
- “Lost Somebody” by A Tribe Called Quest
The passing of Malik Taylor just makes me so sad. In part it’s because I grew up to the sound of his voice and his earnest wit, and in part it’s because his open self-description as the “funky diabetic” made the realization that I was going to inherit the condition myself less frightening, and then to lose him to it was a blow to the spirit. He also just seemed like a sweet and good-hearted person, and even though the storied tensions of his group kinda sidelined him for a long time, when they reunited he came through better than ever. They were at their pinnacle on the record that became his memorial. This song directly eulogizes him, and it’s a tear-jerker.
- “Jump Around (Pete Rock remix)” by House of Pain
I’ve been known to repeat – I don’t want to say with obnoxious frequency, but with some insistence – the axiom that “there has never been a bad House of Pain album.” And I stand by that! But jeez they were some grody bros on that first record, no matter how much understated intricacy & swing Everlast snuck into his hoarse, bellowing flow. This is one of the ballyhooed Pete Rock remixes of the earliest 90s, complete with the producer’s own pre-Timbaland self-insertion on the mic, and the new beat is great, but the one thing I regret never noticing before is that the sparser, bass-heavy production means you can hear the jarring sound effect after the song’s worst line (rhymes with “John MacEnroe”). Is that necessary??
- “Life Is… Too $hort” by Too $hort
Just as unnecessarily overstated as my affection for House of Pain records is my antipathy for Too $hort. Sorry, I just don’t like extremely simple yet brutally sexist nursery rhymes. He’s MEAN. This song… I gotta confess though… is SORT OF a classic. I guess. And he doesn’t mention women at all, which is about as feminist as he gets.
- “I Ain’t No Joke” by Eric B. & Rakim
Strictly for anyone who didn’t catch the nod to the main guitar sample in the preceding Too $hort song, or who hasn’t eaten their Rakim Wheaties lately. Gotta do the meditations!
- “The Host” by Cadence Weapon
There’s a lot of great rapping on Cadence Weapon’s new self-titled album, and this song doesn’t feature any of its highest heights. It does feature an all too familiar character sketch though. THAT DUDE. Ugh, that fuckin dude. Rollie puts that dude in amber, to be studied by future scholars of sleaze. The restraint in the rhyme department serves the atmosphere well.
- “Get It” by Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliott, & Kelly Rowland
Any time there’s new Missy, I’m there. That said, this song is weird. Where’s Kelly, is she the voice sample in the beat? Why is Busta’s second verse so much better than his first? Is that necessary?
- “Gotta Luv It” by Tapas
Tapas is a new configuration of well-established Ottawa hip-hop heavy hitters – rhymes by Hyfidelik and G. Grand over beats by Jeepz. They situate very sharp rhymes that sit somewhere between fashion-forward (especially on this song) and thought-provoking over very slick and richly arranged boomish-bapish beats. This might not be the best song on the record, but it’s fun.
- “Afternoon of a Breeze” by Chico Hamilton
The Chico Hamilton Special is my favourite jazz record I ever stole from my dad. It was foundational to my formative years thinking about drums. I go back to it a lot!
- “What Doesn’t Kill You” by Krista Muir
Krista is a friend and someone I really look up to as a songwriter. Her new album is called The Tides and it’s more psychedelic ukulele pop about persistence and perseverance.
- “Slept Through A Landslide (King K. Rool remix)” by Jesse Dangerously
I finally realized I should probably always put one of my own songs on these playlists?? If possible?? This is a remix of my remix of Krista Muir’s “Tired Angels,” put together by comic book guy Ricky Lima after we met when he was working the door at one of Shaun Hatton’s Nerd Noise Nights in Toronto. Like the other remix, the better verse is by Noah 23. This version came out on Hand’solo Records’ Bassments of Badmen volume 3 compilation, which come to think of it is pertinent because Hand’solo will be releasing my new album on March 30th of this year! Wow that’s really soon!
If you like this playlist, and want to support me make time to put one together every week (in addition to releasing my own music for free every month, and other creative projects),visit my patreon.