Yoyoyoyoyoyoyo… When it all comes down to it, at the end of the day I’m hip-hop guy. I was raised in the era when all that 90s Golden of Rap stuff was popping and I was right there to witness it firsthand. And it’s enriched my life for the better because if it. And honestly that experience wouldn’t be that were it not for Stretch And Bobbito.
I first “kinda” met Stretch back in 1995 but I don’t think he remembers it. At the time I was living in Williamsburg and working at Eightball Records and Stretch and Bob had their now legendary 89Tec9 show – WHICH I SWORE BY – and I don’t know if he remembered it but he would occasionally roll into Eightball and I was shook about meeting him haha. But I finally got a chance to give him a pound one Friday night while he was DJing in the back room at The Roxy, where he shook my hand and kept it moving, dropping “Rappaz R.N. Dainja” onto the set. We kinda had some friends in common but still, I was kinda new to the downtown DJ circuit and I was trying to be like Stretch so much. I never got a chance to meet Bob until several years later after I moved to Philly and was doing my party with Rich Medina, whom Bob was close with. Bobbito would come down to Philly a lot to spin with us at The Remedy and it was awesome, and he was definitely a crowd favorite – and in his own way helped shape the identity of what we were doing in Philly at that party. A few years later back in NYC me and Stretch kinda started running around in the same nightclub scene so that was really chill too.
But seriously I have so much love and respect for both these dudes, as friends and as individuals that it seems like it could be really to overlook what they’ve contributed to this world. I know that personally I would not be the person that I am if it weren’t for their show and kinda think like none of us would, whether they know it or not. Which is why seeing their movie “Stretch And Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives” was so dope to me. I had the opportunity to screen it last week and it was incredible. I can watch it again and again, but the best part about it was that it encapsulated 25 years of what I was all about and put it there in front of me to revisit it. It made me so genuinely happy to watch it, I can’t express it in words. And to see all those amazing interviews, footage, freestyles. The movie is out now so go check it – download it, share it, tell your friends, all that shit. Anyway, incredible movie. Thanks Stretch and Bob. You guys changed my life!
Thanks for tuning into Baker’s Dozen – episode 18!
For those who may not know, for years I’ve been putting out a kind of “Best Of” monthly mix which was called Cosmo Baker’s Top Ten. And over the years, having put them out off and on sporadically, I’ve amassed 17 different mixes.
Now “Best of” is really a misnomer because there’s really no “best” songs in my opinion – like this isn’t some sort of award show or race – it’s more of just the tunes that I was personally feeling at that particular time. And over the years the “Top Ten” mixes really evolved into a particular sound that was definitely more dance-oriented, but never losing the funk quality that I feel drawn towards.
Also with the Top Ten mixes, it really gave me a few different opportunities to stretch out musically. Sure, lots of people knew of me as a DJ who would play some great rap tunes (and sure there have definitely been rap tunes rinsed on these mixes) but the pleasure I get out of playing dance music is unique. And it’s not only about my growth as an artist which is what these mixes are about. It’s also sharing and spreading the love of my friends and other people that I work with and admire in music. These mixes give me the chance to spread love to people that I respect and admire. Another thing about these mixes is that it gives me the opportunity to play things that may be exclusive, things that may have fallen under the radar, and things that maybe I might not bang in a typical Cosmo Baker set. But then of course as art imitates life, sometimes my sets started sounding like my Top Ten Mixes.
The last thing about these mixes is the way I’ve traditionally approached them. Unlike a lot of the other mixes that I – or most DJs do – they’re not about fancy tricks or wicked blends or any of the bells and whistles. I’ve always approached these mixes more from a curatorial perspective, and to allow that to reflect in the actual mix itself. Going out and finding new tunes, new tunes that I like and can stand behind, and figuring out a way these all work together in one cohesive mix. The mix is always done bare bones, using nothing but two turntables and a mixer, but the music as a whole speaks a lot more in what it contains than how it’s presented. Truth be told in my mind’s eye it’s a version of me being my own John Peel or Pete Tong.
So here’s Baker’s Dozen – the (new) new series of music presented by yours truly. Hope you enjoy it!
René & Angela “I’ll Be Good (King Of Nothing Edit)”
Gallant “Open Up (Neonhund Remix)”
Luca Lush “Velvet Girls”
Mura Masa “Firefly feat. Nao”
Dr Packer “Shared Nights”
Jeremy Glenn “LIV”
Jean Tonique “What You Wanna Do feat. Dirty Radio”
Junktion “I’m Wishing (Original Mix)”
Lion Babe “Jump Hi feat. Childish Gambino (Todd Edwards Remix)”
Aroop Roy “Quen Vai Querer”
Enzo Siffredi “Sometimes (Original Mix)”
Earth People “Dance (Steve1der 2K15 Edit)”
Chet Faker “1998 feat. Banks”
Today was a historic day – The SCOTUS ruled that love is actually more powerful than hate, and gave equal rights to our LGBT brothers and sisters. I’m so overcome with joy that I feel like shouting about my happiness from every rooftop. And then I remembered that I have been resurrecting my old #BreakbeatTuesday columns and so though that this is a perfect time for me to revisit this piece that I wrote about Carl Bean for the Fool’s Gold #CosmosCrates series, originally posted on January 11th, 2011 courtesy of my Fool’s Gold friends … Enjoy!
What’s good, Fool’s Gold massive? Your favorite record nerd is back again to drop some gems on you, and when I say “gems” I really mean useless shit from the treasure trove that is La Cabeza De Cosmo. Now it’s fucking crazy to me that, here in the 21st Century, there still isn’t equal rights for the LGBT community in America. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that 2 people who love each other and devote their lives to one another, that are gay, do not share the same rights as those who are straight. One day, people will look back at this time and just be ashamed of themselves. Another thing that drives me absolutely batshit crazy are those people in the DJ and dance music community who are completely (consciously or not) homophobic. Don’t you know, if it weren’t for the gay community, none of this shit would even be here in the way it is? But that all might be another discussion for another time, and my time is so very precious, so let me get right to the music this week with “I Was Born This Way.”
To frame how good this song is, last summer me and Eli Escobar were doing an outdoor party and we were playing all vinyl. We thought the crowd was going to be mostly people that came to hear really good dance music, you know, house and disco. But it ended up being more of a “weekend warrior” type of crowd that closely resembled an all Asian prom. Because we only had vinyl we were pretty much locked into what we could play, so we just had to take the brunt of all the requests for Rihanna or Biggie. But, being the dudes that we were, we stuck to our guns and made the most of it, turning the party out. The highlight of the night to me was when Eli played Carl Bean’s “I Was Born This Way” and the dancefloor was packed with what seemed to be a group of South Philly Cambodian thugs, all of them just losing their shit, hands in the air to the song. Eli and I just looked at each other, speechless… Power of the groove, I guess.
This disco anthem and gay liberation touchstone was written by Chris Spierer and Bunny Jones. Jones, a straight, Christian, Black woman from Harlem decided to pen the song in tribute to the gay employees who worked at her hair salon. She realized they were experiencing terrible oppression both in everyday life as well as internally, with a society that wouldn’t allow these folks to express themselves for who they really were. And with that, a protest song was born in 1971. 4 years later it was recorded by a little known singer named Valentino and pressed up by Jones and sold out of the back of her trunk, Too $hort style. It was a stripped down version utilizing a schaffel beat that sounds more like a Partridge Family ’70s pop record than a disco tune, but the song began to pick up steam and started getting a lot of play, even going to #1 in the UK. Sensing a hit, Berry Gordy decided to option distribution rights for Motown, but decided to wait 2 years and rerecord the song with established (though not large by any means) singer Carl Bean. Bean was openly gay but the folks over at Motown were completely ignorant to that fact, merely choosing him because of his powerful, gospel infused vocals. Having matched that with impeccable TSOP production by Norman Harris, they were golden with a silky and sublime groover of a tune – a tune that was the first true gay anthem to come from within the community itself. The song still packs the floors from Christopher Street to the Castro. Bean himself never really had another hit as big, but he did fine with himself, eventually becoming an Archbishop of the Unity Fellowship Church Movement.
By the late 70s disco had transformed from an extension of soul music to a bland pop formula that anyone (and Ethel Merman) wanted to cash in on. Mark Ronson speaks a little bit about that in this fantastic interview. And then the “Disco Sucks” movement was born, a backlash that not so subtly masked it’s latent racism and homophobia in the guise of being “shocking,” dictating that something that was just so much fun just wasn’t cool anymore. It was around this time there was a shift in public taste back towards a more hetero, testosterone infused frat boy rock sound. All good, and I love “My Sharona” as much as the next man, but come on… can’t you let the people live? But of course disco never really died, it just went underground, to places like The Paradise Gagage, and places like The Warehouse in Chicago. And this shift helped give birth to a brand new sound – House Music.
Now OBVIOUSLY if you’re reading the Fool’s Gold blog then you’re no stranger to house and dance music in general. But it has a long and rich history, dating back to the bathhouses of NYC to the Mecca of Chicago through the one and only Frankie Knuckles. House music IS soul music though, in the truest sense of the term. It’s something that gets within you and doesn’t let you go. Shit, in a lot of ways early Techno music is soul music as well. It was a bunch of Black guys from Detroit that wanted to be P-Funk but instead of getting instruments they got drum machines. Anyway, Chicago is arguably the Mecca but New York was still the epicenter of dance culture, and by the late ’80s and early ’90s it had birthed it’s own crop of homegrown artists and producers. And one of these guys is Pal Joey.
You know Pal Joey’s records even if you don’t know who he is. He’s the man behind the all time dance classic by Soho, “Hot Music,” which is perhaps the strangest, funkiest, most progressive dance record of all time. I don’t know how he thought of that but I picture him in the studio saying “Okay, let me loop up this random jazz piano vamp, play some hard as fuck drums on top – but not a four on the floor style, let me play this house beat like a hip-hop breakbeat…” But that’s probably because he comes from the school of DJs – AND LISTENERS / DANCERS – that would fuck with rap music, classics, reggae and house at the same time. That real New York shit you know, where in the ’80s and ’90s rap and dance music all shared the same shelf space. And for the record, Joey has done plenty of hip-hop productions for KRS-One, MC Lyte and more.
But back to “Hot Music,” it’s like he has an uncanny knack for hearing a short segment of music, a small piece that the average listener wouldn’t even catch, and he’ll say “THAT’S THE ONE.” (And be advised, yes, I do know what the “Hot Music” loop is but I’m no snitch.) Another example of Pal Joey’s golden ear is his other group Earth People and their all-time classic house crate staple, “Dance.” This is another one of those songs that you just know. I see Joey on some shit: “Yo, let me peep this Carl Bean record, flip that shit over to the instrumental side… OH SHIT what was that really cool sounding break right in there? Lemme loop that shit up, speed that shit up and put some of the hardest drums known to man on it.” And just like that, another classic is born… Ahahh, I see what you did there.
OKAY! So since I’m playing in Miami this Saturday for the second time in 2 weeks (YOU BETTER BE THERE) I thought I would bring back an oldie but a goodie! Here’s my ALL VINYL set from. It’s my ALL VINYL set recorded at The Do Over in Miami during WMC 2010. Me on the turntables, Aloe Blacc hosting, vibes abundant. Recorded live at BAR in Downtown Miami on Sunday March 28th 2010. All vinyl, a little tipsy off the sangria, wearing the dashiki so you know it’s going down…I’m playing a lot of 45s and also 12″s and it’s funk and R&B and rap and breaks and disco and stuff… It was a truly amazing day!
I was fortunate to have The Do Over’s own Aloe Blacc handle the hosting duties that afternoon, and the DJs that played that day is kind of a line-up made from heaven. (thee) Mike B, Rich Medina, Jeremy Sole, DJ Maseo, Vikter Duplaix, Daz-I-Kue, Jeremy Ellis… And I had be difficult and play RECORDS hahah. And this was either the day that #Vibes was born or it may have been #SharkAttack I am not sure. But it was definitely vibey. I was wearing my dashiki at that. Anyway. SoundCloud took this mix down a long time ago but I just reposted it on Mixcloud and if you’re thinking of some good tunes that you may wanna hear in a sunny backyard BBQ style then this may be it.
Extra shout to one of Miami’s finest Mr. Brown I woke up that morning in Miami and I knew that I wanted to play one of my all-time favorite records, Idris Muhammad “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” but this is vinyl and I couldn’t just download this song and make it appear in my crate. But I put the word out there and halfway through my set Mr. Brown showed up and handed me off a copy of it on 12″ (and for those who aren’t record nerds and may be unaware of the significance it’s a pretty rare, pretty expensive record.)Anyway, I was happy to end my set by playing that song in full, making me – and a few other people I know – very happy!
Enjoy… and for more Miami love check this out! (Just an an FYI this was up a long time ago but SoundCloud took it down so thanks Mixcloud to the rescue!)
I hope you enjoy this mix, below in the comments! And if you’re in Miami on Saturday check it out at Basement for #BoomboxMiami
Dr. Dre "Genocide"
Dimitri From Brooklyn "Right My File"
Aroop Roy "Quem Vai Querer"
Young Thug "Pacifier"
Soul Supreme AFK "Pook La Ky Ky"
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment "Go"
Sean Price "Boom Bye Yeah"
Major Lazer X Stro Elliot "Lean On Back"
Sylvester "I Need Somebody To Love Tonight"
BAKERS DOZEN BONUS
Boogie Down Productions "Ya Know The Rules"
Michael Boothman Touch "What You Won't Do For Love"
Just Blaze "Inhuman Nature"