RIP Dio

Rest In Peace Ronnie James Dio. A true master of metal and the creator of the “horn hands.” Not only was Dio the one time front man of one of my favorite bands of all time, the almighty Black Sabbath, but in his own right he was a true music industry survivor, having been in bands for well over 50 years. That’s an amazing feat in itself, not to mention the fact that dude went HARD for a vast majority of this years.

Black Sabbath was one of the first concerts that I saw when I was a kid, back in 1989 at the Tower Theater in Philly. It was a sans Dio, sans Ozzy performance, but still made a lasting impression on me, someone who is a lifelong fan. Any kind growing up at that time idolized Sabbath, especially any kid that was into graffiti. And to quote my man Eli Escobar, “Dude stepped into a vary hard postition to fill, and really killed it. Dude was that ill.” Plus I have to admit that the album cover from “Holy Diver” scared the shit out of me when I was a kid.

Like I said, I’ve always been a huge Sabbath fan. Me and Pusher Matt and DJ Ayres and crew even created the Sabbath In The Park franchise in honor of one of the greatest groups of all time, and it transcended being a group and was more of a lifestyle thing I guess. I even made an all Sabbath mix in 2006 to reflect that mind state. Sad to say that when I did it I took a very “Pro Ozzy” stance and didn’t include any of the Dio joints, but that’s not to say that he didn’t contribute anything to the legacy. Quite the contrary – was an integral part. Here’s the mix, after some words:

Like I said, I’ve always been a huge Sabbath fan. Me and Pusher Matt and DJ Ayres and crew even created the Sabbath In The Park franchise in honor of one of the greatest groups of all time, and it transcended being a group and was more of a lifestyle thing I guess. I even made an all Sabbath mix in 2006 to reflect that mind state. Sad to say that when I did it I took a very “Pro Ozzy” stance and didn’t include any of the Dio joints, but that’s not to say that he didn’t contribute anything to the legacy. Quite the contrary – was an integral part. Here’s the mix, after some words:

It began with a dream, and now it is consumed in fire.

“Back in 1989, my best friend Julio and I got tickets to see Black Sabbath perform at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. After weeks of anticipation and mental and physical preparation we got ready to set out on that fateful Friday evening to experience darkness in it’s truest form. We stocked up on the supplies, including a half empty bottle of Old Grand Dad and a nickel bag of brown herb – which we had nothing to smoke it out of so we resorted to coring out an apple. We rode the EL train for miles and waited in line outside of the show in the cold, dark night. Once inside, we were bombarded by the loudest and most potent sounds I had ever heard in my young life. We were witnesses to all the power and glory that is Sabbath. Forever altered, we returned to Julio’s house and broke out the guitars. After a few hours of trying to perfect “Iron Man” we eventually moved on to more challenging – but not as spiritually important – numbers like “Smoke On The Water.”

Fast forward to the summer of 2006. Sabbath was in the air again. It had never left but at this time it seemed to be permeating through the collective consciousness of “the people.” After weeks of publicly declaring my allegiance to Sabbath and insisting that we must take this one step further, together with Matt So Real, Sabbath In The Park was born. What was just a natural progression to us metamorphosed like pupa to chrysalis to moth. The flames burned a little hotter that night. Something was summoned that none of us could have expected, from both a deep dark place and from within ourselves. The spirit was now alive, MAD BEER was in effect, and it was going down, dudes.

After several successful events across the continent, facing and beating “The Man” (proving once and for all that the Power Of Sabbath is too much for man’s puny “laws”) and gaining devotees from all over the globe, we are now pleased to present SABBATH WICKED MIX 666. Recorded live amongst the throngs of evil and including special guest commentary from Austin’s SXSW festival, come with us and live the dream, and bask within the fire of Sabbath.” – Cosmo Baker, 2007

And so with no further ado, I present to you, in the memory of the late great Ronnie James Dio, “Sabbath In The Park Wicked Mix 666.”  74 Minutes of Guitar Licks & Darkness, mixed by Cosmo Baker. A disclaimer though, for although this is up in tribute to Dio, you won’t find any of his work on this mix. When I created this I decided to stay within the confines of all pre-Dio, all Ozzy Sabbath. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – quite the contrary. Sabbath is one of my favorite bands of all time, and I was fully focused on my love for them when I made this. And I’m sure some purists might say that I’m on some bullshit, I don’t really care. I think the spirit is captured in this mix. And this mix, for the record, is one of the finest things that I’ve ever created in my opinion. So with that… Rock on, Ronnie – HORNS UP!

Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder turns 60 today. What can be said about this man that hasn’t been said before. Maybe I actually mean what can be said about what this man means to me as an artist, a visionary, or a human being? I can’t think of any living artist that embodies the term “legendary” more than him. It’s beyond effort to try and classify him. He’s a true national treasure. He is The Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore. He is the Statue Of Liberty and our “amber waves of grain.” There should be a Stevie Wonder holiday. For those of you that live in New York, it’s safe to say there already is one in a sense, thanks to the incomparable DJ Spinna

I once said in my bio that I have no desire to spin for any crowd that doesn’t lose their collective schitt to the above song. That’s as true today as when I said it. But I think that there might be no other artists that is more unifying than him. Even MJ, with the genius that was him, had his detractors because of his personal character sad to say.

I remember seeing both of these episodes when I was a kid – and in doing the math I know they must have been repeats because I wasn’t even born when these shows were aired in 1972. But they definitely are worth repeating, PBS to me, and now me to you. I used to scoff at the “Cult Of Stevie” that would be running around. “How dare you lay claim to him. He’s all mine and my connection to him is deeper yada yada yada…” But Stevie belongs to no one person, he’s a once-in-a-lifetime gift to humanity, and his very being here in our universe helps hold it together in a sense. Stevie is the living embodiment that music makes the world a better place to live in, even though Stevie is so much larger than just his music. He belongs to none of us, and to all of us. “Happy birthday Stevie, happy birthday to you, HAPPY BIRTH-DAYYYY…

“Didn’t know that you would be jammin’ until the break of dawn…” A selection:

Stevie Wonder “Black Man (Kay Sputnik Re-edit)” (Bipolar, 2007)

Tammi Terrell “All I Do Is Think About You”  (Motown, 1966)

The Brand New Heavies “I Don’t Know Why I Love You (Tom Moulton Mix)” (Delicious, 2008)

Stevie Wonder “I Love Every Little Thing About You” (Tamla, 1972)

Sweet Blindness “Ain’t No Use” (Celebration, 1976)

Stevie Wonder “Positivity feat. Aisha Morris (Ronson 68 Mix)” (Unreleased, 2005)

Stevie Wonder “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” (Motown, 1980)

Star Eyes On Rub Radio

Our friend Star Eyes joins us this month on Rub Radio, throwing down a fierce DJ set live at Bad Manor and talking to us about raves, her former job as editor of XLURB8R magazine, and her new job playing filthy bass music all over the world with her crew, Trouble and Bass. And as always, us Rub dudes play a bunch of our favorite jams for the hell of it.

Peep the trailer below, and of course the show can be heard in the dedicated Rub Radio widget on the left side of this page, or right here at http://scion.com/channel2.

I will be in Boston TWICE this week – that’s right, I’m back up there spreading some Cosmo love. One is a Sheen Bros show with my dude 4th Pyramid and the impresario Tamir Z. Brown, and the other is at The Good Life with my homies The Bladerunners. I just have to make sure that I wear my Philadelphia Flyers flag high as a mother… Not saying, dudes. Just saying.



Breakbeat Tuesday – Records From My Brother

First and foremost, I want to send a Rest In Peace shout to Lena Horne & Frank Frazetta. Two people from another generation who changed things by just doing them – no more and no less.

A couple of days ago was my baby brother Walker’s birthday so I want to give him a shout for that. Happy belated officially up pon the site, my dude. He’s my brother but also he’s the best dude in the world and that’s real rap. We’ve always been close and it’s tough not being with him on his birthday and just in general. But he truly is one of the most amazing dudes I’ve ever had the honor to know in my life. Kind, absolutely brilliant, and talented to a depth that I don’t think that I can truly comprehend. Here’s the sucker, with our 2 sisters, our mom and yours truly.

So the other day I was having a bit of a twitter rampage – not in a bad sense really, but more in a reflective manner. So during my barrage of 140s I made the remark that this marks my 20th year in the game as being a DJ (thank you, thank you – hold your applause.) I’ll probably reflect on that in the coming months, but I’m talking about The Dude here. So I was a DJ for the majority of Walker’s childhood and adolescence and he’s always been “into it” in a passive sense. I don’t think he actually tried to DJ but after watching his older brother do his thing I know he installed turntables in his bedroom. We definitely share tastes and values as to what we like musically, which in a nutshell could be boiled down to various Moog records and The Beatnuts. And I’m sure a lot of it has to do with wanting to be just like his big brother. But in many ways he would try to emulate something that I would do and end up taking it so far and beyond that it surprised everyone. Case in point – he knew that I dug for old records. So one day when he got out of school, on his journey downtown he passed a yard sale that had records in it. He picked up a couple things including one funny looking record that had a guy screaming on the cover between to samurai for 50 cents. (50 fucking cents!)

My phenom of a brother had just brought home Eugene McDaniels freak-folk-funk power-piece “Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse” a tour-de-force concept album that was a complete departure from music that had been heard before or since. “The Left Rev Mc D” Eugene McDaniels, hailing from Kansas City, had already become an accomplished singer and songwriter by the mid 1960s, most notably with his song “100 Pounds Of Clay.” And he saw continued success later on in life having penned such hits like Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love” – which is a song a lot of you younger folk might actually think is just a D’Angelo record but actually was a huge hit when it came out in 1975. It was a #1 hit actually, and was nominated for a Grammy for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

But something happened in the mid to late 60s. The Vietnam war was in full swing and people were mad disillusioned and just generally fed up with things. Out of this environment McDaniels wrote “Compared To What” which was the first song on Roberta Flack’s debut album. Later on that year Les McCann & Eddie Harris covered it for their “Swiss Movement” album, the recording of their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. The song was a runaway success, a simple protest song that took on a life of its own because it reflected the sentiments of the people and their frustrations with the direction our country was headed. And also because it was incredibly groovy. Check this video out, which after years of listening to this song, I never even knew it existed. Man is it COOKING…

So McDaniels signed onto Atlantic Records and proceeded to put out a couple of solo LPs. Both produced by the legendary Joel Dorn, the first of the two is “Outlaw” which was the first shot across the bow of Mc D’s new freak-folk-funk sound and philosophy – a philosophy that possibly can be summed up by the simple liner notes of the album: “Under conditions of national emergency, like now, there are only two kinds of people – those who work for freedom and those who do not… the good guys Vs. the bad guys” The album didn’t do so well, but less than a year later he returned with “Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse.” This ground-breaking album set the bar kind of too high in my opinion. First of all the session players that they got for the recording were the best in the business at the the time – Harry Whitaker, Miroslav Vitous, Gary King, Alphonse Mouzon to name a few – all guaranteed that the groove would be locked it. Couple that with Mc D’s provocative but deadly on-point lyrics mad this an album that people just had never been privy to before. Approaching subjects like the co-opting of black culture by white artists (“Jagger The Dagger,”) the history of American colonialism (“The Parasite,”) and racial profiling and police brutality (“Supermarket Blues,”) Mc D opened up a new door for radical subject matter in pop music. This was a door that the powers that be didn’t want opened. Atlantic was one of the biggest record companies in the world at that time. The story is that Spiro Agnew, Vice President under Dick Nixon, personally called Ahmet & Nesuhi Ertegun, founders of Atlantic and, for the sake of  not “causing public unrest” demanded that support for the album be pulled. I don’t know what happened after that but promotions immediately dried up and the album sunk like a lead balloon.

Now like I said, McDaniels went on to have a successful career as a songwriter despite this order of Executive Branch Hating. And, as you probably have figured out by now, the music on “Headless Heroes” went on to be revived for it’s second life through the world of hip-hop music. But the story about how it all came about and went down is pretty remarkable to me. So thank you Mr. McDaniels for doing what you do and changing my world in a large sense. If it wasn’t for this record I truly believe that my mind would not be what it is today. And I have my brother to thank for putting me on. Thanks dude, and happy birthday! This Breakbeat Tuesday is dedicated – and completely indebted – to you!

Eugene McDaniels “Supermarket Blues” (Atlantic, 1971)

Eugene McDaniels “Jagger The Dagger” (Atlantic, 1971)

EDIT: About 20 minutes after I posted this particular Breakbeat Tuesday post about Eugene McDaniels, I get an email from Left Rev McD’s publicist. Like… really? Yes… really. Apparently some things are happening, and that is how they like to say “what is up.” More on that to come…

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  • Cosmo Baker’s Top Ten Records Of May

    DJ Stuart "Re-Work V2"
    Wet "All The Ways" (Branchez Remix)
    De La Soul "Beautiful Night"
    Phife "Nutshell"
    With You "Ghost" feat. Vince Staples (Major Lazer Remix)
    Tall Black Guy "The Heart Of The Town"
    KRNE "I'll Be Good"
    Hoodboi "Closer"
    Drake "With You" Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
    Christopher Cross "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro Dub Disco Mix)

    BAKERS DOZEN BONUS

    Club Cheval "Discipline"
    Mura Masa "What If I Go"
    Kate Bush "Why Should I Love You?"

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