In 2006 me and DJ Ayres as The Rub went on tour with A-Trak for the North American “Sunglasses Is A Must” tour. About two months of rocking parties coast to coast to coast. 4 turntables, 3 laptops, 2 microphones, samplers, foot pedals, drum machines, cowbells, stuffed talking robotic parrots, giant inflatable liquor bottles, and more… Captured here live from our show in Indianapolis, Indiana. Parts one and two for your enjoyment… Fun times!
Our good friend and homie, Mr. Dibbs, is sick and he needs your help. Dibbs, founder of the 1200 Hobos, DJ for Atmosphere and just all around good dude like cooked food, is suffering from complications due to cirrhosis of the liver. Not only is his health suffering, but he has been overwhelmed by a 6 figure medical bill that is still climbing. So to help, his friends have set up Pay It Forward To Mr. Dibbs, a Facebook page where fans and friends alike can read up more about what the brother is going through, and can help offset his costs with direct donations.
That said, if you take anything away from this story folks I hope that you all realize you NEED health insurance. So many DJs go without, and you just can’t do that shit anymore. If you don’t have health insurance, look into the Freelancers Union and GET THAT SHIT. They charge on a sliding scale, so you can afford it! Shout to Jessica Weber for the look on that.
But Dibbs is a truly unique guy. An amazing and innovative talent, a loyal husband and friend, and someone who is dedicated to the advancement of this craft of ours. In 2006, me, A-Trak & DJ Ayres set off on a 2 month long tour all across North America. It was called Sunglasses Is A Must and it kind of was a very profound jumping point for all of us in our respective careers. We had some truly amazing adventures, and you can read about them as they were chronicled by the three of us here on the Sunglasses Is A Must Tour Blog. One of the truly most memorable encounters was when we hung with Dibbs in Cincinnati. He treated us like brothers, hosted us at his house, fed us, and him and I had an intense broing down over X-Clan. He also showed us his incredible artwork collection, painted by some of the most notorious serial killers of all time.
Dibbs showing off an original oil painting by Richard Ramirez aka The Night Stalker.
Admiring the handiwork of an original John Wayne Gacy.
Me, Dibbs, Master P, Ayres & A-Trak. Our tour manager Scooter is behind the lens.
DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven… What can I say about these fucking guys? The first thing is that I’m surprised that after 9 years we haven’t killed each other. The second is that I love these fuckers like brothers and, through the ups and downs, what we have collectively and with each other is a great thing. A lifetime thing. Third is that I can’t believe we actually made it this far. The Rub started back in 2002 as a foil to the New York City nightlife climate that was at an extreme low point. I always factor in the three things that created the malaise of the early aughts. The first thing I always attributed it to was the after-effects of Rudy “FUCKFACE” Giuliani’s draconian “Quality Of Life” laws and how that basically was designed to sap all the fun and vibrancy out of Metropolis. To this day, there is not one politician that makes my blood boil in the same way that FUCKFACE does. As much as I sincerely loathe Bush, Cheney and the unholy cabal of right-wing idiocracy, it’s Giuliani who makes me want to “Hulk SMASH.” The second thing is the rise of bottle service culture. Of course money runs everything, and we all know that. But there was time when a perfect balance between making money and showcasing music was alive. But with bottle service, commerce and bottom line stepped to the forefront – and in doing so pushed music completely out of the way. Now I’m not trying to paint this picture of halcyon club days where everyone did it for love, but by this point music had taken such a back seat to selling alcohol that the actual production of music began to suffer in a huge way. As did DJing. The art of it. The craft. The imaginary status of it. It all shifted in a direction that was away from being pure of heart. And the third, obviously, was September 11th. Not much to be said about that one. We’re all still getting over that, as if we ever fully will.
So the idea was to create this foil contrasting the mockery that partying in Manhattan had become. Initially it was just Mikey Palms’ birthday at a new place in Park Slope called Southpaw, where Ayres and Eleven and a couple other folks decided to through this party that was classic disco and non-radio rap music and shit that. Fuck bottle service. Fuck an oppressive front door policy. Let’s just have fun, get drunk, get laid, listen to some JAMS and forget about the rest of the bullshit that we’re dealing with in the real world. I guess that concept kind of resonated with people. I had known both these dudes since before the party was established and they had me up from Philly to do a guest spot either the second or the third installment. I guess I did pretty well, since they asked me back a couple months later, and then a couple months later than that. As the 1 year anniversary came, I found myself moving to Brooklyn and spinning, along with Ayres and Eleven, at The Rub on a monthly basis. It was around this time that we said to ourselves “He, we have something pretty groovy here. Maybe we should try to solidify things as a crew or sorts.” And we never looked back.
8 long years have passed since then. And that all still seems like yesterday. We’ve released countless records, remixes, CDs, done shows around the globe, all as this DJ remix crew that we started just for the fuck of it. People have told me that the shit that we were doing in the early 00s was groundbreaking, innovative and highly instrumental in pushing the type of music and DJing that we deal with in the direction where it is now. I dunno about that, cause at the end of the day us three dudes were just doing what we love. But it is pretty remarkable to see what has become of this.
I’m truly grateful. Grateful for Ayres and Eleven for rocking with me all these years. For Mikey, Matty and the rest of the Southpaw family for giving us a home. Grateful for Rahnon, my BFF for holding down the front lines for me (for 14 years at this point – I love you babe,) and grateful for my man Kenan for being the King Wolf and holding us all down. But most of all I’m grateful for the people who have supported us over the years. We open doors at 10 PM. At 9:45 there are 20 to 30 people outside. By 10:30 the line is around the corner. And people still flock in droves. And people travel from distant countries to rock with us. And people have locked in with us for 9 fucking years. What more can I say about that?
I will say two things. Thank you all for everything. This has been the ride of a lifetime. And secondly, you should come and rock with us this Saturday in Brooklyn. Me, Ayres, Eleven, my homeboy Low Beezy, and the rest of the fam. Trust me – you will have the time of your life! We would LOVE to see you out…
PS: Congratulations Ayres, Veronika, Nina and the rest of the Haxton / Zielinska extended families on the WORLD DEBUT of beautiful little Pela. We’re all so happy to have her here. The world is better for her being here, and we all love her so much!
This week’s special guest for Breakbeat Tuesday is none other than my partner in crime, Brooklyn by way of Natchez, Mississippi’s own DJ Ayres. Now Yung Urrs grew up down south on a farm, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that this guy doesn’t know his shit, cause he’ll kind of son you. There are many chambers to his style. You can catch Ayres alongside DJ Eleven and myself the first Saturday of the month at The Rub, our monthly party at Southpaw in Brooklyn. When he’s not administering cock-punches or watching fine films starring John Cena, you can find him traveling the globe as a world-class DJ, and helming his dance music imprint T&A Records. Other than that, he’s kind of the bane of my existence, but I would never ever let that information get out to the world…
One of the big movements when I first got into DJing was acid jazz. Fifteen years later, this shit has not aged well at all. Mark Farina’s “Mushroom Jazz” CDs (and unmixed vinyl compilations) were a staple back then, and aside from the odd Jigmastas (DJ Spinna) instrumental, it was all a little tepid for my tastes. An exception was Blue Boy “Remember Me,” which had this incredibly addictive female vocal loop over the Skull Snaps drums. “Remember meee, the one who had your baby! Gean geh geh gean geh geh gean gean gean, geh geh gean geh geh gean geh geh gean geh geh gean gean gean.”
Blue Boy – Remember Me (Mascotte, 1997)
There were also pieces of the same voice on the incredible, classic lounge-house record from around the same time, St Germain Rose Rouge. I had to know what that voice was, and luckily for me it was an easy record to source: Marlena Shaw Cookin’ with Blue Note at Montreaux. I say easy because even though this was before digging hit the internet, everyone was crazy about Blue Note in the mid-nineties; remember that there was a whole “Blue Break Beats” series, hugely popular for hip-hop and house DJs branching out into jazzy territories. Remember Digable Planets? ATCQ? It was a big sound. And your college radio station definitely had all the OG Blue Note stuff ripe for the picking, assuming an older head hadn’t gotten there already. What up Ben Velez!
So back to Marlena Shaw, she grew up in New York State and started singing really young, went on the Apollo as a kid with her uncle’s band, played clubs in New York and Chicago and by her twenties ended up on Cadet / Chess Records. Blue Note picked her up in 1972 when she was thirty, and a year later she was recorded in Switzerland at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Tons of albums were recorded live over the years at Montreux, from Ray Charles to Alice Cooper, Sun Ra to Tori Amos. Marlena Shaw played two years after the old Montreux Casino burned down while Frank Zappa was playing. The headliners in 1973 were Canned Heat and Miles Davis.
Epic! “Woman of the Ghetto” first appeared on Shaw’s album The Spice of Life in 1969. She wrote it with Richard Evans (Soulful Strings, Dorothy Ashby, Sun Ra, etc) and Bobby Lee Miller. You can hear the original (calimba!) and read a little more about it here. Great tune, and a great document from the civil rights era.
Now I could stop here but it would be irresponsible not to leave you with a bonus beat. Another great record off of The Spice of Life is “California Soul.” Breakbeat Tuesday fans should be no stranger to Ashford & Simpson; well they wrote “California Soul” for The Fifth Dimension. I don’t fuck with the original but it is noteworthy. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (or was it actually Valerie Simpson? controversy!) recorded a terrific version, but IMO nothing else touches Marlena Shaw’s.
All the DJs sought out this one in the 90s after DJ Premier sampled it for “Check the Technique.” Then Cut Chemist and Shadow rocked the 45 on Brainfreeze (1999) and the song moved way up the breakbeat canon; it’s a staple at The Rub. Diplo even remixed it for Verve, an impossible task as it is basically unimprovable. The drum break, the strings, the vocals, the lyrics, what a perfect song!
Thanks a million for that, my dude. Now Ayres is no stranger to sharing music with the masses, and you can always check out his Vinyl Mondays on Flashing Lights and his Heavy Warmup mix series for more music from the young gawd.