Mixtape Monday, Vol 16

DJ Craze – 1998 ITF World Scratch Final

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This week I bring something a little different. As with the Leftfield episode a while ago, it’s a video of a live performance. But in this case it’s even further removed from being a mixtape, instead being a recording of DJ Craze‘s 2 rounds from the 1998 ITF scratch battle against DJ First Rate (then of the Scratch Perverts). This video here only shows Craze’s sections – now, while First Rate is an absolute badman on the cut, I don’t think I’m being unfair to say that this battle was a massacre!

While I don’t claim to be a scratch DJ (rather, I’m a DJ who can scratch quite well), I am a total scratch nerd. I spent those long hours with Dirt Style 12″s, I remember the early internet days of Asisphonics and Thudrumble forums, written-out text explanations of complicated scratch patterns, tricks with sticker-markers on vinyl to learn how to know when to open and close faders, a time before Youtube clips and college courses in DJing. I had many different VHS tapes of battles from through the years, and this stands out as probably my all-time favourite, with only the Dream Team’s (aka Invisbl Skratch Piklz) set from 1992 coming close to surpassing it in my affections as a demonstration of the art and craft of scratch DJing. And believe me when I say I have forced a lot of people to watch this routine in after-parties at my flats over the years…

Craze has a good claim to being the greatest of all time, which really shouldn’t be a shock when you know he won 3 straight DMC world titles (arguably only missing out the year before that winning streak because of a terribly unlucky needle mishap in the USA final that knocked him out of contention). The ITFs were often considered to be a bit more of a “purists” competition, with the battles broken down into technical sections for scratching, juggling, teams etc. In this battle he followed First Rate, with each having 2 x 3 minute sections to demonstrate their scratching prowess.

For me, what always made him stand out, alongside his unquestionable technical skills and prodigiously funky cuts, was his transitions in his routines, getting from this bit to that bit to the next bit. Many scratch sets were just a hodge-podge of as many short routines as the DJ could cram into their allotted time, with little or no thought given to the journey between these landmarks. Craze basically managed to make his 3 or 6 minute sets into tiny mixtapes with their own internal narrative and logic, seamlessly flowing between styles. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Red Bull Thre3style brought him on board to be part of their team, with him performing and judging the inaugural world final in Paris (that I was lucky enough to be competing in /brag).

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These 2 short sets absolutely blitzed this contest, and included 3 of the absolute best disses I’ve ever seen in a battle context – the “you’re going too fast…” bit at the start of the 2nd routine only really makes full sense in the context of the approach First Rate had taken. Watch, and enjoy an absolute master at work.

Mixtape Monday, Vol 15

J-Rocc – Live at The Sex Machine 

For my money, nobody does mixtapes quite like J-Rocc does mixtapes. While this isn’t exactly a mixtape, and rather a live recording, it is probably my personal favourite. Indeed, the fact that it is done live just makes the technical prowess on display all the more jaw-dropping.

Probably best known as a key member of the Beat Junkies, J-Rocc is also the DJ for Madlib‘s live shows and was the 3rd member of Jaylib (Madlib and J Dilla‘s project) when they performed live. He’s also a totally great guy, I had the pleasure of hosting an event with him and Shortkut performing, at Rescue Rooms in Nottingham way back in 2003!

Enjoy this superb selection of hip hop, funk and reggae, and please go and explore his other mixes.

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Mixtape Monday, Vol 14

David Morales – Live at The Haçienda 11th Birthday Party, Manchester, 1993

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After the 8th Birthday Party in 1990

I’ve mentioned the influence of my brothers on my musical tastes in posts on this blog before, and this mix is a great example of what I am talking about. My eldest brother was at Manchester University in the heyday of The Haçienda, Manchester’s legendary nightclub and in many ways the spiritual home of the Acid House movement. One of the nights he attended was this 11th birthday party, with US house legend David Morales amongst the DJs playing – this T-Shirt commemorating the impressive line-up!

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I’ll simply borrow the words of my brother’s description over on Soundcloud…

This is a digitised copy of a tape I picked up in 1993, when David Morales played at the Hacienda 11th birthday party. I was actually there that night, Morales played in the basement (not usually open at the Hac) from 4-6am, while Frankie Knuckles played in the main room.

 

Stripped to the waist, wearing a skull cap & tattooed muscles, Morales played street tough New York City house music, and there’s lessons in here for modern DJs. I know this mix off by heart, and re-listening to it 21 years later, I can say it’s still fresh.

 

This particular night at The Hacienda has gone down in legend – for the wrong reasons. The club was full of local gangsters, taking watches from wrists and starting fights. These were the ‘gunchester’ days, you had to keep your head down.

 

Listen to the mix – at the end the record abruptly ends, starts again and then ends. This was when Morales was being mugged by a pack of ‘scallies’ – I myself witnessed them hit him on the head with a glass, lean over the decks and take his vinyl.

 

This episode was written up in Peter Hook’s excellent book – ‘How Not To Run A Club’. Apparently after the incident Morales said “you don’t pay me enough to bleed”….

 

Luckily you can now enjoy from the safety of your own home!!

 

Rave on 🙂

Mixtape Monday, Vol 13

Last week I managed to miss my first Mixtape Monday since launching the blog, the power of the bank holiday to mess with schedules! No fear, I’m sure you all coped admirably with the absence of a new mix to listen to and my witterings on the subject. No such luck this week, I’m back baby!

So, to Vol 13. This week I bring you the 2014 Essential Mix of Bonobo. If you aren’t familiar with Bonobo’s work, well, this should serve as a solid grounding in his style.

While Bonobo’s popularity has exploded in recent years (with his sold-out Alexandra Palace and Tobacco Dock shows in London serving as testament to this), he’s been around a long, long time, beavering away at his wonderful music. I actually got to warm up for him a long time ago, in the back room of the legendary Nottingham nightclub The Bomb, at the long-running bass music event Detonate. It was around the time of his record Dial M for Monkey. I remember Big Daddy magazine (or was it Grand Slam, Big Daddy’s successor?) reviewing this, and channelling the spirit of Spinal Tap with their very very succinct “Dial B for Boring” contribution to musical criticism.

This seemed harsh at the time, and even crueller looking back. But back then Bonobo was nominally linked to the hip hop scene more than any other you could really identify, despite what he made not really being hip hop per se, so I imagine that was the metric they were using to judge him. These days he’s found a much more house oriented niche, while still floating around in that space between genres. Being honest, if someone asked me to define Bonobo’s sound then I’d struggle to go for a particular genre, and instead would head towards words like “organic”, “intricate”, “delicate” and so on.

This mix takes in a good few of his productions, along with the likes of Dark Sky, Maya Jane Coles, Maribou State, Jimpster and others of that ilk. You generally can’t go far wrong with Essential Mixes, and this one is at the top table of that already elite selection.

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Mixtape Monday, Vol 12

Bit of self-promotion I guess, but hey, this is all free, so I hope you don’t mind! Last Monday saw the release of my new 808 Bang EP on Lupe Fuentes‘ imprint In The Loop Recordings. It had a great reaction on promo, with the likes of Doorly (“808 Bang is wicked!”), Mark Knight (“Big!”) and Gorgon City (“Sick one!”) being fans. 

This promo mix is a selection of my current faves and some older personal classics that I felt fitted the feeling I was going for – Paranoid and It’s So were real staples for me back in around 2008/09ish.

The EP is selling well, with the title track sitting at #25 in the Traxsource Tech House chart at time of writing – if you feel like buying a copy to help the surge towards the top 10, that would be just fantastic 😉 If not, no hard feelings!

http://www.traxsource.com/title/594853/808-bang-ep

Mixtape Monday, Vol 11

Ben Gomori – Turned On Live 040 at Monologues, Berlin

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I became aware of Ben Gomori, I believe, through his hosting of the Data Transmission podcasts. Via a brief spell with Eastern Electrics, he’s ended up quite a long way down the path of creating his own essential corner of underground dance music, with his excellent Turned On podcast.

This mix is one of his occasional live recordings that he shares from his DJing schedule, from Farbfernseher in Berlin. Funnily enough he was playing alongside an old friend of mine from the days when I used to play regularly at Stealth in Nottingham, Ben Start, small world innit?

It’s a cracking deep house mix (in the proper sense of the term, not the top 40 Now That’s What I Call Derp House that rules daytime radio), and full of tracks that I have since sourced and purchased – I think I broke my personal record for shazaming tracks, clocked in at 9 by the end of this! Enjoy.

Mixtape Monday, Vol 10

Leftfield, Live on The Other Stage, Glastonbury, 2000

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Only just realised now, in 2016, that Bowie played the year I went. And somehow Travis were above him on the bill. 

I’m not a massive fan of festivals unless I’m performing. Never really was, although I used to grin and bear them in order to see my favourite acts all on one day. I’ve only been to Glastonbury once, in 2000, the year when they were carrying roughly double the number of people onsite as they were supposed to. And yes, I was one of the people who didn’t buy a legit ticket, instead paying some bunch of scousers to go through their gap in the wall.

Glastonbury has changed a lot in my lifetime. I’m not going to offer judgement on whether it’s for better or worse, as I don’t have the first-hand experience to back any claims up, but certainly most agree that it is a lot less anarchic and chaotic than it was 2 or 3 decades ago. I personally tend to feel that if you are organised enough to have everything in place to actually get a Glastonbury ticket through the appropriate channels (register 36 months in advance, fill these forms in triplicate, passport photos of every bodily orifice, blood sample of your first-born son, and, most ludicrously, be up at 10am on a Sunday to order the ticket) then you have no place going to Glastonbury, but that’s just me being a miserable bastard who resents the success of others really isn’t it?

Anyway, on to today’s mix. I bring you a recording of Leftfield‘s amazing set headlining The Other Stage on the Saturday of Glastonbury 2000. Looking back, it really does seem like another world. Mobile phones were a rarity still, camera phones were science-fiction, food trucks were not the luxuriously gourmet experiences we are so used to these days, and scouse gangs ruled over the muddy pathways of Glastonbury with an iron fist. You may think I’m joking – that year was a bit of a nightmare in many ways, I’m not surprised they took a year off and then erected the kind of wall that would make Donald Trump envious. I don’t have a single photo from the whole weekend. Imagine that. I just went to something, experienced it, and didn’t document every single moment for posterity/my Instagram followers.

I travelled down on the Friday night after finishing a shift at Brownes Bar in Nottingham, along with a group of friends who also worked there. We arrived onsite just as the Saturday sun was coming up, having parked in some field nearby and wandered around until spotting some scallies offering safe passage into the site for a tenner apiece. Carrying our tents and sleeping bags and copious amounts of booze, we walked, and walked, and walked, searching fruitlessly for a pitch in one of the allotted spaces. This was our first clue that this was going to be a slightly different Glastonbury to what we had anticipated. Eventually we found a space, roughly 50 yards from a giant blue tent that we learned a few hours later was the dance tent. By some absolute miracle I had accidentally brought a pair of foam earplugs; they were to prove exceptionally useful that weekend.

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No rope ladder for us when we went in, they’d literally just knocked a hole in the wall.

After a few hours sleep we rose to see that many more people had occupied the space between us and the dance tent. Walking around the site, as anyone who has been to Glastonbury will know, was a fascinating and eye-opening experience. For me, the people who get worked up about the headline acts are missing the point really, although given the price of the tickets these days, and the shift in the crowd over the years from hippy-traveller soundsystem weirdos to granola-munching Guardianistas wearing the latest festival couture (I’m generalising a bit maybe…), a few customer complaints are to be expected really. The real beauty of Glastonbury, certainly the memories that stayed with me best, was the oddities between the stages, the overall atmosphere – dare I say it, the “vibe”.

Of the Saturday, I only really remember 3 sections well. Coming up to my beloved Pet Shop Boys as they played Go West on the Pyramid Stage. Very late on at the Smith & Mighty tent, with my brother and his future wife who literally drove down from Derbyshire for a night’s raving, slept in their car, then drove back oop North (“ALL THE RAVERS TO THE FRONT”, Dan knows what I’m on about there, arguably his finest hour…), and sandwiched in the middle, an exceptional set by dance music legends Leftfield. I remember traipsing across Michael Eavis’s farm after the PSB’s set to get to The Other Stage, and taking our spot at what was the back of the crowd, a pretty considerable distance from the stage. After waiting for the crew to set up Leftfield’s stage, I remember glancing round and realising that we were no longer at the back of the crowd, but actually slap-bang in the middle now, as so many more people had arrived after us. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so stranded in a crowd as I did at that moment.

Incredibly, the video footage in the version below has managed to capture exactly what my eyes felt like they were experiencing, in every wobbly, shaky, fucked-up technicolour detail. The rest of the night is an even blurrier memory, so the bit where one of my friends was attacked by one of the scouse gangs for absolutely no reason is only a memory because I’ve been told it happened, the journey from the Smith & Mighty Tent to some field where we’d been told there was a sound system is like a strange hallucinatory dream, and getting back to my tent in one piece  was a minor miracle.

The Sunday was, for us anyway, basically a recovery session (we inexplicably ended up at The World Stage for most of the night), the Monday trying to exit the site in the blazing summer heat was a complete nightmare (turns out 200,000 people trying to get around tiny country lanes all at the same time is a recipe for disaster and gridlock), and the rest of the week was something of an emotional rollercoaster as our brains tried to get back on an even keel.

Mixtape Monday, Vol 9

Burger Beats Vol 8 – Santero

It doesn’t take a genius to see the connection between this mix and this blog. Both are all about the burgers and the beats. When I was approached by the guy behind UK Burger Battle, Ahmed Kage, and asked if I was up for making a mix for their series, how could I say no?

I’ve put together a pretty beefy (geddit?!) mix featuring a nice mix of brand new heaters and tracks that have stood the test of time for me. There’s a download link so you can enjoy it wherever you want, I hope you enjoy it!

 

Mixtape Monday, Vol 8

LTJ Bukem – Fantazia Takes You Into The Jungle

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Incredibly, after all these years I still have the CD triple pack!

I’ve been DJing for nearly 20 years now, and making a living from it for around 14. But what an awful lot of people don’t know is that for the first few years of that, I was obsessively, almost exclusively, a drum & bass and jungle DJ. My first track that I ever played out (and not as Santero, I was called DJ Blaze at that point in time!) was this little thing from DJ Red, at a friend’s birthday party at The Market Bar in Nottingham…

I’d been the guitarist and singer in a Pixies-esque band through my late teens, but when I started raving in earnest while at university I soon sold my guitars and bought a pair of Technics, and started hoovering up all the 12″s I could afford from Selectadisc. I think that the energy and power of D&B and Jungle appealed to me the same way as the music of punk acts like Hüsker Dü and Fugazi had, so it’s not the giant leap that it might seem to some, and indeed, I’ve often been struck by just how many people in dance music around the world have a background in punk and hardcore scenes – I would guess that the DIY attitude that they share is a big aspect in why so many were able to make that move from one to another, just embracing the new challenge and finding a way to make it work. Given the explosion in popularity in dance music in recent years, and the way it has been corporatised  in the more popular areas, I’m not sure if it’s as open to this mentality, but there are still people out there making their own waves, and long may they thrive.

Anyway, to the Mixtape Monday offering this week. LTJ Bukem is probably best known for his Logical Progression mix series that popularised Intelligent/Liquid Drum & Bass, and his label Good Looking Records. But this mix capture him before he’d fully gone down that road, and still has the raw energy and vitality of the early hardcore and ragga jungle sounds of the early 1990s, brilliantly marrying the intricate percussion and frenetic pace of this era with a more melodic, atmospheric and nuanced sound than most of his peers were capable of summoning. While I can imagine some who are unfamiliar with the pace of D&B will find it hectic, I tend to find myself periodically swaying to the half-beat with this mix, the 2nd in a 3 CD collection from legendary rave promoters Fantazia, with DJ Rap and Grooverider the other contributors. DJ Rap’s mix is also a cracker, while I never really got on with the Grooverider one, even though I was a huge fan of his for the Prototype Years era a few years on. The flow of Bukem’s mix is superb, and listening back to it here in 2016, while this is obviously of its era, it really does stand up as a superb selection of music more than 2 decades after it was put together, when so much from the early years of rave culture sounds horribly dated now. Listen, and enjoy a true master of his craft.

Mixtape Monday, Vol 7

Heavy Warmup Vol 5 : DJ 7L

After last week’s trip down a distinctly non-dancey alleyway, here we make our way back to the club, with Boston’s DJ 7L, a guy I was familiar with through his work as half of DJ 7L & Esoteric back in my days as a straight up hip hop DJ. This is a recording from a hotel gig, and is a lovely balance of familiar melodies and beats, curveballs, instrumentals, blends and so on. Just a good DJ mixing good music, as it should be. It’s a superb mix, perfect for getting the juices flowing, just as a good warm-up should!

It’s been put out there as part of T&A‘s Heavy Warmup series, which I highly recommend, and the T&A guys (particularly DJ Ayres y’all) are very much part of the legendary The Rub crew – their history of hip hop mixes are absolutely essential listening.