Sunday, 28 June 2009

Ras G: The All-Seeing Eye

Last Friday I caught up with Ras G at Poo-Bah records. His creation of spaced out, Sun Ra-inspired beats has also been reflected in the freedom afforded each of the artists on the label. Poo-Bah has managed to stand alone and importantly craft a unique identity in the instrumental hip hop world through Ras' musical vision. 
Ras spoke very wisely about the jazz-sampling roots of his own musical education and his alliance to instrumental production. His statement of 'the beats always spoke louder to me than any lyrics were capable of', poetically broke down his own (and I suspect many others) inspiration to take the beatmaking template of 90s hip hop into unchartered territory. Space is the Place.

cribs in a perfect world

Dibia$e' place was a little special, the living room full of records and one-off art pieces. I took a few pics of the space while Devon played around with various beats on Ableton Live. I will be catching up with him for a proper interview during the next week. I very randomly discovered his music on Kenny Fresh's great FreshSelects Blog a while back.

The Legendary Dibia$e

I stopped over at Dibia$e's place near USC on Thursday after we chatted at Low End Theory on Wednesday. It was a surreal and sad moment to arrive into D's bedroom studio with his beats playing to see the news coverage of Michael Jackson's death on live TV. The super-talented producer Devon (from Portland, recently relocated to L.A.) was also round playing a few beats in the living room. 
In my interview with D, he dug out some old cassettes dating back to 93' from his car that even he hadn't heard in ten-plus years (unearthed from a friend's garage a few days previous). When he hit play on the boombox, dusty lo-fi Wu-inspired beats blasted out. The talent was instantly recogniseable. The tapes also indicated D's dedication to his craft and prolific productions over the years.
Dibia$e is one of L.A.'s foremost progressive beatmakers, from the loose head-nod swing of his drum sequencing down to his unique approach to sampling. His penchant for chopping 80s movie and cartoon themes into epic battle-sounds was evident in the studio. He then loaded the sounds onto his Roland 404 for a mesmerising live set (amongst the crowd!) at My Hollow Drum in Santa Ana. In D's own words, for the live set he 'brought the nuclear warheads!'

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Nobody Studio, Long Beach

Today I metup with Elvin 'Nobody' Estela and his beathead buddy Jacob at his home studio in Long Beach. The place was pretty amazing (as I'd come to hope and expect from his music); from his insane record collection, to a vintage atari beatmaking joy-pad to a brilliant framed B+ photo of Brian Wilson. We delved into Elvin's own sound through discussing his self-proclaimed creation of 'psychadelic music for hip hop kids and hip hop for psychadelic kids'. 
Also we covered wider topics such as the roots of L.A.'s beat scene, Dilla's influence and the inability of the media to categorize the music. Also Elvin got a bit into a few of his beat creations including tracks from "And Everything Else' and the 'Blank Blue' project. 
After the interview we hit up a couple of the local record spots, photos will follow very shortly.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

exile turntable lab

I'd been waiting to see Exile's live MPC action since seeing the first of his Youtube videos. The guy is pioneering a new kind of show in bringing the in-vogue hip hop production tool into the live arena. The nature of it is distinctly classic and has an old-school vibe. However seeing the MPC being played completely live at Turntable Lab L.A. felt like witnessing the 6th element of Hip Hop. Groundbreaking stuff! 
The show was promoting Fashawn's new album (with all Exile beats) and featured guest appearances from Planet Asia, Evidence (Dilated Peoples) and Aloe Blacc. All came correct on the mic with Fashawn cutting a commanding presence with a gift for intricate storytelling. Aloe Blacc also sounded ridiculously soulful.
Ex was kind enough to bless me with a short interview after the show. He touched upon the idea of taking his Radio concept (sampling entirely music and dialogue from L.A. radio stations) to India for a forthcoming project. Also he covered subjects from his upbringing playing drums to playing as part of an MPC band with DJ Day. Look out for some nice clips when the documentary surfaces in September!

Friday, 19 June 2009


So I called up at Poo-Bah in Pasadena today, really nice folks and great store! I've been following the label sometime and along with labels such as All City and Stones Throw, they are really pushing forward the left-of-centre instrumental hip hop sound (that's the foundation of my doc.) with a diverse and exciting roster of artists. I'm going to call back next week to conduct proper interviews with Ron and Ras and also check out a Beat Soup instore.
oh and here's the low end theory site-

Low End

The first few days here have been a little crazy. The Low End Theory has to be the prime spot for beatmakers I know of absolutely anywhere. So, finally going there was pretty amazing. The bass was unreal! So it was great to hear and see Elvin (Nobody) and Daddy Kev play special beats some that I've yet to hear anywhere else. Nocando also kept the crowd going with his scribble jam-winning wordplay and boundless energy. Everyone there was pretty much mesmerised. Think I'll be back for the next 5 Wednesdays!

daedelus pics early May

As I'm in L.A. now I thought I'd backtrack a little and put up a couple of pics from the Daedelus gig at The Black Box and workshop in Queen Street Studios . The monome he uses really is something else! My personal highlight was him chopping up his own accordion madlib sampled on Madvillainy!

Sunday, 14 June 2009

14/05/09 Belfast-London-Charlotte-L.A.

So I'm L.A.-bound tomorrow. A crazy thought and I can't wait to get there and take it all in. My project has got strong roots with a bunch of super talented artists involved. Initial chats with Alfred 'Daedelus' Darlington in QSS, Belfast (cheers to Rich, Andy and Rory for setting up), and Brian 'B+' Cross in Dublin have whetted my appetite for the L.A. beatmaking scene. I will get some photos up here in the next few days once settled in my new place. Here are just a few references for the music scene I'm checking out and documenting-