Breakbeat Tuesday – Food For Thought with Special Guest Breakbeat Lou

Today marks the second installment of Breakbeat Tuesday with a special guest and I’m extremely privilege to have this person come through and drop some heat. You could say that the very term “Breakbeat” was solidified into our lexicon by the release of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats compilation series from 1986 to 1991 by Street Beat Records. This collection was compiled by two legends – Lenny Roberts and Breakbeat Lou. So it is my sincere honor today to present Breakbeat Tuesday, brought to you by the one and only Breakbeat Lou

WOW, I’M ACTUALLY WRITING FOR COSMO BAKER’S BREAKBEAT TUESDAY! After a couple weeks of obstacles, I’m finally here. It is so awesome that he created this forum for the genre of BreakBeat.

Well before the featured Breakbeat cut, here’s a brief 411. For me, record collecting started back in 1973 when I purchased my first record – Willie Colon’s track “Che Che Cole” Featuring Hector Lavoe on 45 (FANIA 515). This was the beginning of my addiction to vinyl (which at last count was approximately over 20,000, that includes the likes of Benny More, The Four Seasons, Run-DMC, Luciano Pavarotti and everything in between.) My DJ career started in late 1974 with jams and house parties (yes and hooky parties too lol…) My breakbeat diggin’ days started in 1977 when I bought “Space Funk” by Manzel at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road in the Bronx.  Even though I was cutting beats since ’75, all those beats I rocked then belong to my crew. After DJing for several years I started getting more into the elements of music which led me to production in 1981 and subsequently the birth of the original break beat series. Now for the featured Breakbeat!

It started back in the mid to late ’70 when I first heard it, but what I remembered most about this track is; I’m walking into the P.A.L . (Police Athletic League) on Webster & 183rd Street in The Bronx, the words coming out the speakers were “Hey Fellas I’m talking to you, you and you…..” for about 6 times then he cuts straight into the break we all know “Woo Yea” followed by the horns riff and lyrics ‘It Take Two To Make A Thing Go Right” the he goes back to the “Woo Yea” and the horns as he spins back faster and caught it 4 to five times and then he gets faster catches at the “Woo Yea” for about 6 or 7 times. The D.J. was Grandmaster Flash and of course the Breakbeat is “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins (the LP Version).

This beat kept lingering in the back of my mind. The funky, uncanny production of James Brown with the J.B.’s., those signature drums with tambourines, along with the awesome horn section on a bed of organ riffs and rhythm guitar topped off with Lyn’s vocals at a 113BPM guarantee bop your head funk!  This experience let us to dig for a mint copy and add it the Ultimate Breaks and Beats compilation. When it came to actually record the record, I had discussed with Lenny what I heard @ the P.A.L. and because every DJ at the time was not as fast as Flash we decided to create the infamous “WOO YEA” edit, which is synonymous with the Rob Base hit and many others. Since we reintroduced it in 1987 it has been sampled hundreds of times and from numerous sections of the song!

In conclusion, it is without a shadow of a doubt that Lyn Collins’ “Think (About It)” has played a pivotal part in the music! (Especially the UBB edit shameless plug… lol). Until Next Time If There Is A Next Time!!!!!!

Lyn Collins “Think (About It)” (taken from Ultimate Breaks & Beats Vol. 516 – Street Beat Records)

Okay yo so how bad is that? Like I’m in awe, straight up. Thanks so much for blessing my page with your knowledge, Lou. And for all you people out there don’t forget to check out Lou and the great site and resource of knowledge at www.ultimatebreaksandbeats.com

Breakbeat Tuesday – Call Me Ishmael

I’ve been collecting records for a long time now and have amassed a pretty sizable collection at this point. Currently I own approximately over 15,000 records, across genres and formats, and it’s spread out over my apartment here in Brooklyn, my storage space about 2 blocks away, and the basement of my mom’s house in Philly. Thankfully my mom has put up with my obsession, as well as my wife – who actually encourages me to have vinyl in the house (she finds it aesthetically pleasing.) Truth be told, when we moved into our new home last year, I put all the rest of my vinyl into storage but around January or February of this year I started pulling pieces because honestly, as a DJ, my house just felt naked without any black wax around. Here’s a photo of what my house USED to look like (just a slight angle…) from an piece called Dust & Grooves that my man Elion Paz did in early 2009.

Also, thanks to this guy, I’ve sort of rediscovered the unparalleled joy of playing vinyl in my DJ sets. Please, do not get me wrong – I LOVE Serato, I swear by it actually. I use it predominantly for my sets, and it has opened new doors for me both creatively and professionally. But there’s nothing like “that real thing” know what I’m saying? And the funny thing is that over the past 6 months I’ve been on a wild vinyl-buying binge and it’s felt great! And I’ve bought shit from flea markets, “boutique digger” shops, second hand stores, personal collections, eBay, Discogs, even the back of a pet store (that’s another story for another time.) I’ve spent cents on the dollar for spectacular finds, as well as having spent over 4 figures for one piece. All in the game, and I accept that.

So there’s a lot that I have, and a lot that I don’t have, but I’m always on the come-up. But there are a few joints out there that are super elusive to me. They don’t have to even be that rare, they just don’t cross my path, my own personal record “white whales” so to speak. This is one of them, that I don’t have, and am waiting for the day I actually have a copy of this 45 in my hand. It’s the thunderous “Hey Joyce” by Lou Courtney. Courtney hails from Buffalo, NY (Caps I see you) and was a one-time member of The Fifth Dimension. He came out with this record on Pop-Side in 1967 and it’s a stomper. A real heavy break beat as you will hear, and some amazing vocal work by Mr. Courtney over production one one-time Funk Brother Robert Bateman. I first got hip to this record when I heard it used on Main Source’s “Breaking Atoms” and then about a decade later it again rose to prominence for being used in the DJ Shadow / Cut Chemist 45. But this record rises above all… and I STILL DON’T HAVE IT. I need it. I want it. I’ve played the MP3 from California to Moscow (where it got an incredible response actually) but nothing beats having the actual vinyl.

So THERE YOU HAVE IT, folks. Cosmo DOES NOT have everything. There are fractures in the armor appearing. The man with all the goods cannot seem to get one of the most pedestrian wants added to his collection (I know “pedestrian” is relative but… )So I’m going to creep over to a corner and sulk, letting my head drop. And then I will raise my fist to the sky, shaking my head while tears or anger form in my eyes as I exclaim “I’ll follow him around the Horn, and around the Norway maelstrom, and around perdition’s flames before I give him up!” I will not give up on you yet, leviathan of a 45. I will find you yet, and have my revenge… You damned White Whale of a funk 45 hahahh….

Lou Courtney “Hey Joyce” (Pop-Side, 1967)

Photos from The Rub at Southpaw – August 2010

So I had a pretty busy week this past one, but then again when do I not? This past Wednesday, me and ?uestlove DJed at a private affair which included an absolutely incredible live performance by Janelle Monáe, in intimate midtown Manhattan space for about 300 people. Truly mindblowing, and also, yes I love my life. Then on Friday I shot out to Denver for the first time in about 5 years to rock the newly established Beauty Bar. It was a fantastic time and party, and thanks to all of Mile-High Massive for showing, up, as well as the whole Beauty Bar crew, and last but not least my homeboy DJ Jimi Scott.

Here’s some shots of this past Rub at Southpaw by the one and only Kenny “Doobie” Rodriguez. As I’ve said again and again, the photos, and videos, and live recordings of these shows really do not do it justice. You have to come out and experience if for yourself in the physical. Trust me, it’s worth it. For more photos you can click here to peep the entire photo set.

Breakbeat Tuesday – You Done Did It

So it just happened by chance that the past 2 Breakbeat Tuesdays were with songs featuring one of the greatest drummers of our time, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie so this week I decided to dedicate solely to this man who is one of the greatest of all time and without a doubt one of the godfathers of the breakbeat.

To say that Pretty Purdie changed the game is an understatement. His unique innovations in drumming changed the way that not only the instrument was played in pop music but also in the way that it was recorded. And his innovations in rhythm and time are invaluable. Let’s not mention that his drumming can be found on basically the laundry list of the GOATS of music – James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Gil Scott Heron, Steely Dan, Curtis Mayfield, The Beatles, Miles Davis, Hall & Oates, The Rolling Stones and so on and so on.

When I was in school (and yes, I went to college for this music shit haha…) one of the things that I studied was the ancient African tradition of spacing, breath, time or air interspersed between the notes in music and how that empty space was just as important if not more to the construct of the song. The notes, beats, melody are the materials that the song is made up of but the empty space between all of that, the “ups” or the “ands” is actually where the song truly lives. I don’t want to go to far into it because that’s like thesis material, but point being, Purdie has a philosophy with his drumming that is pretty much exactly this. He calls it his “ghostnotes” as you can see in his explanation here.

Pretty Purdie is directly responsible for so many famous recorded drum beats in history it’s ridiculous. But here are just a few that I love and want to share with the world. The first one is the ferocious “Soul Drums” off of the also titled album from 1968. Basically it’s just a soul-jazz saxophone vamp that kindly steps out of the way when Purdie is ready to come in and blow the roof off the place with absolutely THUNDEROUS drumming. See for yourself.

Bernard “Pretty” Purdie “Soul Drums” (Date, 1968)

Next up is the song “Hap’nin” from the Purdie composed soundtrack to “Lialeh.” For those that don’t know, “Lialeh” is an adult film (called “The Black Deep Throat”) in 1974. I’ve never seen it, but this is a pretty dope instrumental funk jam from the soundtrack.

Bernard Purdie “Hap’nin” (Bryon, 1974)

Last but not least is a track from the 1977 collaboration album between Purdie and The Last Poets. I think this is a great track that showcases his drumming as the sole instrument in a song and the driving force, even when it doesn’t actually stand out in front and more just rides in the background as the wave that The Poets can ride on.

The Last Poets “Blessed Are Those Who Struggle (Douglas, 1977)

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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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