A DJ Blendz PSA…

A quick reminder: In case any of my readers are interested, I do still have a few of these custom designed USB/flash drives for sale/ mixtape subscription. Just click on the ‘Contact Me/Subscription’ to purchase and/or get more information. The USB/flash drives all have one of my mixes in it so you won’t only be getting a nicely designed USB, you will be getting a DJ Blendz mix. All custom designs are in picture up top. Don’t sleep, get it while these particular ones last!

On the making of ‘Ms. Fat Booty’…

A portion of an article from Micro-Chop’s Gino Sorcinelli on the Aretha Franklin-sampled track by Ayatollah

The pain she channeled into the love-lorn music and vocals on “One Step Ahead” inspired Ayatollah to craft several renditions of the “Ms. Fat Booty” beat before deciding on the best version. As was the case in other Franklin-sampled 90s cuts like Onyx’s “Last Dayz” and Mobb Deep’s “Drop a Gem On ‘Em,” her voice makes the “Ms. Fat Booty” beat unforgettable. Her singing provides the perfect vocal elements for the hook and is also prominent throughout every other section of the song.

Around the time Ayatollah finalized the instrumental, he started developing a relationship with Rawkus records. The label’s A & Rs avoided listening to his beat tapes at first because of their busy schedules, but they changed their tune when he continued to show up at their offices on a regular basis with music to share.

One fateful day, Ayatollah arrived with a beat tape containing “Ms. Fat Booty” and earned himself a seat in the Rawkus conference room. Mos Def was so impressed by the work on this tape that he purchased the instrumentals for “Ms. Fat Booty” and “Know That” from Black on Both Sides, as well as six other productions that have yet to see the light of day. “I don’t know what he did with them, but if you thought those two were some great records, you have to hear the other six,” he told Nodfactor. “The other six were amazing, like really amazing.”

The spiritual successors of the Wu-Tang Sword Style…

Bandcamp does a drop on the new breed of Wu-inspired emcees. Here are a couple you might’ve heard on one of my monthly mixes…

Supreme Cerebral

Prior to his rise an MC, Supreme Cerebral was a talented college football player with dreams of an NFL contract. But after an injury put an end to his pigskin aspirations, he decided to pursue music. The New York-born, Cali-raised artist has adopted both Ghostface’s cadence and his fondness for abstract imagery, as well as the poetic license of Raekwon—which makes sense; when asked what Wu album impacted him most, he states, “It’s a toss-up between Supreme Clientele and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” His track with Ralphiie Reese and Eloh Kush titled “All” is the perfect showcase for that reverence. When Cerebral spits, “Venomous dialect / The Wallys is violet / Acquired the flyest / Suede Bali the side shit / Battle designers / Paid thousands of dollars / Rambling nonsense / Now they channel our concepts / Conscious context,” he both shows respect to the Wu in his freewheeling imagery, and knowledge of their tropes with his reference to Wallabees. He even closes the verse by claiming the trio are the “Wu revision.”

Eloh Kush

Eloh Kush grew up in a hip-hop family. His older brothers John Robinson (aka Lil Sci) and ID4Windz made up two-thirds of the late 1990s rap trio Scienz of Life. The group’s involvement in Dr. Malachi “Dwight” York’s Nuwaubian Nation—a religious group incorporating Islam, Kemetism, Judaism, and Native American belief systems—clearly rubbed off on the MC; his songs reference teachings from the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews, amont other esoteric topics. As he puts it, “I was taught to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave, so I travel through many schools of thought.”

The New Brunswick, New Jersey MC—or “versifier,” as he likes to call himself—started out rapping in a crew known as Angelz Inc. more than a decade ago, but he’s mainly focused on solo material for the last few years. Kush is on the verge of dropping a collaborative project with the Supreme Cerebral titled Clarks Connoisseurs, referring to the footwear Raekwon and Ghostface popularized on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. It’s an homage to Wu-Tang’s dynamic duo by some of the sharpest swordsmen in the game today.

“iTunes is as good as dead, but Apple Music is rising from its ashes”…

All the answers you need to know on Apple’s killing of iTunes is below…

iTunes is as good as dead, but Apple Music is rising from its ashes. After 18 years of iTunes, Apple is ending the app and channeling you to Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV instead. The three apps will be available across all your devices, which means that your music collection is, too. Apple’s announcement this week at the annual WWDC event joins other future updates for iPhones ($1,000 at Amazon), iPads ($249 at Walmart) and Macs, including iOS 13, iPadOS and MacOS Catalina software. But it’s the iTunes announcement that had Mac loyalists up in arms: If iTunes dies, what happens to all your music now?

Closing down iTunes raises big questions for those who have built up musical collections over the years. What do you have to do, if anything, to keep your investment intact? What if you use iTunes for Windows? And what happens to iTunes Match?

Apple’s musical moves underscore the company’s renewed attention to services. Apple has long valued its ability to create premium experiences that keep loyal users invested in the brand’s ecosystem. For a company initially focused on hardware, iTunes was one of Apple’s first major successes in this area. People who had bought music from Apple were less likely to stray. Now, Apple is betting that Apple Music will largely pick up where iTunes left off.

Here’s what we know about Apple’s plans to transition you to Apple Music and the rest.

Does iTunes still work today?

Yes. Apple still advertises iTunes on the website. iTunes will continue to exist for the time being, but Apple won’t support it in MacOS Catalina, the upgrade coming this fall.

Why is Apple ending iTunes?

Apple said that iTunes was initially focused on burning and mixing songs on the Mac, but then suggested it was too big and bloated, and lost its purpose. “How about calendar in iTunes?,” Apple engineering lead Craig Federighi joked during the presentation. “I mean, you can have all of your appointments and your best tracks all in one app!”

Apple describes Apple Music as being extremely fast, which suggests that iTunes performance had gotten laggy.

Do I still get access to the same number of songs with Apple Music?

Yes, Apple advertises a catalog of over 50 million songs, plus collections of music videos (through Apple TV) and podcasts (through the Apple Podcasts app). Scroll to the end for more details.

Does my iTunes collection go away?

No way. Every song you’ve ever bought, ripped, uploaded or imported will already be part of Apple Music when you upgrade from your current Mac OS version to Catalina. All the files that are already on your computer will remain. Apple isn’t liquidating anything you already own, but it will reorganize where the files live.

Even my ripped CDs, MP3s and playlists?

Yep, even those. You’ll find them in your Apple Music library.

Will I still be able to burn a CD with Apple Music?

Yes, if you have an external CD drive and the necessary cables, though this isn’t something we’ve tested yet.

What about backing up my device, restoring my settings and syncing settings?

iTunes is the app you think of for backups and syncs, and those capabilities will exist with Catalina, just not in the Apple Music app. You’ll find them by opening the Finder tool in Mac. That’s the one with the square, stylized icon of a smiling face that serves as the operating system’s file manager. Open it, and you’ll see device will appear in the Finder menu, for example: “Jessica’s iPhone”.

How will I move music onto a device?

If you want to move music onto a device, you open one of your media apps, click and drag from your music library into the folder for your connected device, and it will transfer over.

What happens when I sync my iPhone or other device?

Today, iTunes pops up when you plug in your iPhone to sync devices, but that’s not the case with Apple Music. If you want to sync, you’ll find the setting in the sidebar in Finder. Apple is making this more opt-in (you trigger the syncing in Finder) rather than opt-out (you close the window if it pops up and bugs you).

What happens to people who use iTunes on Windows?

iTunes will continue to work on Windows as is.

Will iTunes still work on older version of MacOS?

You can still use iTunes on a version of Mac that predates MacOS Catalina (e.g. Mojave), but it won’t be available when you make the upgrade.

I’m confused. How is Apple Music different than iTunes?

iTunes is a free app to manage your music library, music video playback, music purchases and device syncing. Apple Music is an ad-free music streaming subscription service that costs $10 per month, $15 a month for a family of six or $5 per month for students.

Apple Music closely competes with Spotify and you can listen to songs offline across your devices.

Do I have to subscribe to use the Apple Music app library?

No. You can still access your music collection if you don’t subscribe to Apple Music. That is completely opt-in.

Is the iTunes Store going away?

The iTunes name will fade away, but Apple will keep the store and its functionality in the Apple Music app. You can call it up if you want to buy new songs and albums, but if you do subscribe to Apple Music, you likely won’t have much use for a store.

What happens to iTunes Match?

iTunes Match is a feature that gives you access to a song you bought through another service, say Amazon. Apple Music already has the feature built in, so you won’t miss out if you subscribe.

What if I like to make my own mixes?

If you like to DJ your own collection and albums, you’ll be able to import those tracks to Apple Music and listen to them across your Apple devices.

What about the Apple TV app — is that where my iTunes movies will live?

Yep! Any movies you bought via iTunes will move to the Apple TV app for Mac.

The Apple TV app (yes, for all your devices, not just an Apple TV) is where TV shows, movies and music videos will live on the Mac, including HBO and Showtime, and those iTunes movies you bought. It’ll support 4K HDR playback with HDR 10 and Dolby Vision graphics and Dolby Atmos audio playback.

Where does the Apple Podcasts app come in?

Fair question, since Apple is spreading iTunes functionality around. Apple Podcasts is pretty straightforward — it’s where you listen to and search for and subscribe to shows. In MacOS Catalina, Apple Podcasts will also let you type a few words or letters to find a show or episode.

Change is hard. Is there any reason I should skip the Catalina upgrade?

In addition to speeding up these apps, Apple encourages you upgrade to the newest version for ongoing privacy and security updates. Learn more about all the changes coming to your Mac with the MacOS Catalina upgrade this fall.

Press Pause: The History Of Pause Tape Production

Good write-up on the history of pause tapes. Here’s an excerpt…

A good pause button and a vivid imagination were all young hip-hop enthusiasts needed to create something out of their sense of wonder. Using a boombox or stereo with dual cassette decks, aspiring DJs and producers would play and record a sample from another tape or record, pausing the tape once the sample had finished its rotation. They would then rewind to the beginning of the sample and un-pause the tape, starting the process again and extending the sampled loop for several minutes.

Although pause tapes used a different form of music media than early hip-hop DJs who relied on turntables and vinyl records, Miles Davis and Alicia Keys collaborator Easy Mo Bee believes 1970s block parties were instrumental in the genesis of early pause tapes. “The two turntables got us thinking and made us wonder,” he says. And this pioneering production technique came about well before early samplers like the Akai S-900 or E-mu SP-12 existed, something 32-year production veteran 45 King can attest to. Known for enduring classics like Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life,” “The 900 Number” and Eminem’s “Stan,” he remembers recording pause tapes as early as 1975 – four years prior to the first “official” rap record, “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by Fatback Band. This foray into pause tapes started with a thoughtful gift from his dad, long before a vocation in music was even a thought in his mind. “It wasn’t a career,” he says. “It was my father bought me a radio that has a pause button on it. A Marantz Superscope, and it was one of those pause buttons when you clicked it – it made a click sound so it was on beat. It was a nice box with a good pause button.”

The pause button also helped artists create megamixes and DJ-style mixtapes, while those with more advanced set-ups used a 4-track recorder or an overdubbing feature on their cassette deck to layer loops. Layering wasn’t for the faint of heart, as it was extremely difficult to get samples to match in terms of tempo and tune, while repeated dubbing lead to tape hiss. But this didn’t deter Marley Marl collaborator and Redef Records artist K-Def, who made early pause tapes with a Lasonic boombox and graduated to loop compositions with a Tascam 4-track. “I was so good with the pauses that I would actually record three of the tracks and then bounce ’em over to one track,” he says. “And then I would start pause mixing again.”

K-Def believes pause-tapes helped inform much-needed skills like editing, time stretching and pitch shifting once he had access to proper samplers. “Most people now, they just want to make a beat, they don’t understand audio editing,” he says. “And that’s a very intricate part of hip-hop. If you don’t truncate your samples right and tight, the beat will sound sloppy. That came from pause buttons. You had to be on time with it.”

The endless examples of innovation and lessons taught by pause tapes seem to know no bounds. The late J Dilla is said to have taken apart and altered his tape deck so he could further extend samples. Meanwhile, Soul Council member and Grammy-nominated producer Khrysis taught himself how to filter basslines inspired by Pete Rock, Q-Tip and Wu-Tang by adjusting the tone knob on his boombox as a teenager in the mid-’90s. “Just keep going back and forth until I got a good little frequency,” he says. “I started getting fancy where it was like songs in the ’90s, you would have your high pass and low pass.”

In addition to serving as a training ground for many storied DJs and beatmakers, pause tape production played an important role in the first 15 years of recorded rap music. One of the earliest successful examples of a pause tape on record is the 1980 Bozo Meko Records release “Flash It To The Beat / Fusion Beats (Vol .2).” A bootleg party single that has seen many re-releases over the years, “Fusion Beats (Vol .2)” quickly became the in-demand song on the record at block parties and clubs due to the way it extended breaks from James Brown’s “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved,” the Mohawks’ “The Champ” and Dyke and the Blazers “Let A Woman Be A Woman And A Man Be A Man.” According to the song’s creator, Afrika Islam, the entire track was composed on his cassette deck in his bedroom.

As pause looping thrived in and around New York City, it also took off all over the United States. Orlando DJ and bass music icon Magic Mike started making entire mixtapes of pause edits and mixes on his boombox in 1981. He worked his way into a radio DJ slot at age 13 on the strength of his demos, later earning a New York City club residency before his 18th birthday. Even Houston legend Pimp C of UGK, whose skills as a producer are often overlooked, mentioned making pause tapes in a 2007 interview with Red Bull Music Academy contributor Andrew Noz.
To think that people in New York City, Orlando, Port Arthur, Texas, and cities all over the United States were making pause tapes in the early ’80s unbeknownst to one another points to a form of collective consciousness taking place during the very early years of rap music and beyond. 2010 Red Bull Big Tune champion 14KT described the phenomenon beautifully in a 2015 Facebook post: “I thought I was a weirdo because I didn’t know anyone in Ypsilanti around me who made pause tapes like me when I was young. It was like I got chosen and summoned from aliens. Little did I know, it was an unspoken language across the world.”

Jay Smooth no longer at WBAI…

Salute to Jay Smooth for sticking to his principles on this

Since 1991, Jay Smooth has been the host of The Underground Railroad, the longest-running hip-hop radio show in New York.

As of Thursday, July 19th, the show is no more.

Jay Smooth announced that he was resigning from WBAI, The Underground Railroad’s home for the last 27 year. The reason? In protest of the fact that WBAI hired Leonard Lopate, a longtime host of WNYC who was fired last year for “inappropriate conduct.”

WNYC did an investigation and found multiple complaints against Lopate, which ranged from inappropriate comments to bullying.

That didn’t stop public radio station WBAI, which is based in Brooklyn, from hiring him. The station is also paying Lopate and his producer, something that is unusual for producers and hosts at WBAI. On Monday, July 16th. the first episode of Lopate at Large premiered. During the show, the allegations were barely touched or addressed.

After the show aired, Smooth let his frustrations be known. He told the Columbia Journalism Review:

“If this show is still airing as of Friday, I’m definitely not going back on Friday…The question for me is, have we gone past the point that I want to go back at all?”

New Year’s Eve Mix.. NOT

The good news is i was able to get into DJ mode for NY’s Eve last night at the homestead. I decided to also pop in a CD blank to record the festivities and share it with ya’ll today. Yaaay!

..NOT

Bad news part: It was not to be as all i got was ‘CD Error’ once i woke up this morning to finalize it. Too bad, cause i played a shit-load of joints(Freestyle,Disco,House,etc.). Oh well, 2018 here we go. Look out for my ‘best of 2017’ on the way soon, hopefully with no TD’s.