Breakbeat Tuesday – Can You Understand it

Mega-props to everyone that came out to Deity in Brooklyn on Friday night to see me and Rich tear it down. The word “epic” is really overused these days so I’m not going to even go there. But when you have an absolutely rammed dancefloor all night, and a dancefloor that is packed at 4:15 when the lights are up and people are refusing to leave, that says something for sure. Stay tuned here for an announcement about this in the coming days. Also tonight at 9PM EST I will be spinning a live set from my very own crib, broadcast live via Ustream on the Memory Lane show. Definitely tune in and check me out, all vinyl raps and breaks, and pictures of me wearing my house shoes.

I took last week off cause I mad all sorts of stuff to handle so I’m gonna make this week’s entry extra thick and extra quick. You know, the thing with the internet and music consumption is that information and material is so widely and quickly disseminated that it (in my opinion) lessens the significance of actually discovering something yourself. Chris Weingarten spoke about that in the video that I featured last month. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing because it’s wonderful that people have that access to things that they might not have had 5, 10, 20 years ago. But the context I think gets a little skewed, along the lines of what I’ve always held to be the canon or hierarchy in this whole funk thing. Because of the internet you got kids running around talking about the Salt 45 but can’t tell you a damn thing about James Brown. And that’s a shame to me because if you don’t have a solid foundation you won’t stand for long. So where there’s a lot of people who won’t want to deal with anything that isn’t rare, I say I would rather have the great than the rare. And the fact of the matter is that if something what that popular it probably means it was that much better. So with this mind set I want to get cracking on talking about one of my all-time favorite bands, The New Birth.

I discovered The New Birth when I bought the “Birth Day” album at Funk-O-Mart back in 1991 or 1992. The above Bobby Womack cover song, “I Can Understand It” was the first song of the album. That was all I needed to hear to fall in love with this group, and it was very soon that I started to incorporate a lot of the funk that I had been amassing, including New Birth, into my DJ sets. The group was the originally known as The Nite-Liters, an instrumental outfit from Kentucky, consisting of several members – most notable which is Harvey Fuqua.

Fuqua was first a member of the Doo-Wop group The Moonlighters and went on to become one of the main songwriters and producers within the Motown machine, including being responsible for the pairing of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Fuqua eventually went on to discover the legendary Sylvester, producing for him his seminal “Over And Over” among others. But he always had his side project, Nite-Liters, which after some absorption and restructuring became The New-Birth.

The New Birth had a pretty successful career as a band and for my money they were one of the tightest ensembles of that day and age – standing up alongside giants like Kool & The Gang and Earth, Wind & Fire. Lots of people dismiss them as being a “tepid funk” outfit but honestly I think the people who think that are soulless monsters. I fully suggest going out and buying some New Birth music, starting with “Birth Day,” “Blind Baby” or “It’s Been A Long Time.” 70s funk and soul music at it’s finest. Here are a few examples of the New Birth sound, complete with the obligatory break beats. Enjoy!

The New Birth “Got To Get A Knutt” (RCA, 1972)

The New Birth “I Wash My Hands Of The Whole Damn Deal” (RCA, 1974)

The New Birth “Coming From All Ends” (RCA, 1974)

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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)


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

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