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.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I kind of take that pretty seriously. And by “pretty seriously” I mean I like to pull out all the stops. Why not? Life is short and you never know where you may be from one day to the next, and with whom. Love is a powerful thing. Armies are launched because of it. History is made because if it. Thrones are abdicated, works of art are created, worlds collide and become one entangled and intangible in these invisible lines that connect the atomic matter in the heavenly skies to that same matter that makes up the stuff that pumps through are veins. When you stand in the desert and you look up at the sky and see all the stars and you realize how very small you are, that’s what love kind of feels like to me. It’s a geyser that flows from a deeper place when you are standing next to that certain someone. I don’t know, but I like it – or as George Harrison once wrote, “I dig love.”
Here’s all three of my Love Break mix series that I did about a decade ago and caught some notoriety from. Nothing but some of my favorite classic soul love jams from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Also here’s Valentine’s Roll which was another mix of mine with some of my favorite jams. Nothing fancy, just raw and stripped to the bone. The way that love really is. It makes you feel naked and pure, guard down love up. And the songs lend us voices for when we can’t sing what we feel.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy them. Download links are in the comments on each individual page so feel free to put them on your box and play loud. Just play them with someone you love if you can. And if not, think about that person. With love.
01: The Friends Of Distinction “Going In Circles”
02: Aretha Franklin “Call Me”
03: Donny Hathaway “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”
04: Rick James & Teena Marie “Fire & Desire”
05: Curtis Mayfield “Sweet Exorcist”
06: James Brown “That’s My Desire”
07: Otis Redding “That’s How Strong My Love Is”
08: Sam Cooke “Bring It On Home To Me”
09: Irma Thomas “Ruler Of My Heart”
10: Al Green “Simply Beautiful”
11: The Isley Brothers “Voyage To Atlantis”
12: George Harrison “I’d Have You Anytime”
13: Stevie Wonder “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)”
14: Patrice Rushen “Settle For My Love”
15: Prince “Adore”
16: Quincy Jones “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)”
17: René & Angela “Your Smile”
18: The Isley Brothers “Fire & Rain”
19: The Smith Connection “Rainy Days & Mondays”
20: Darondo “Listen To My Song”
21: The Beach Boys “Forever”
22: Rita Wright “I Can’t Give Back The Love I Feel For You”
23: Black Ivory “Got To Be There”
24: Brenda Russell “So Good, So Right”
25: Bonnie Pointer “More And More”
26: David Bowie “Can You Hear Me”
27: Earth, Wind & Fire “Can’t Hide Love”
28: The Rolling Stones “Let It Loose”
29: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell “If This World Were Mine”
30: East Of Underground “I Love You”
31: The Delfonics “Walk Right Up To The Sun”
32: The New Birth “You Are What I’m All About”
33: Steely Dan “Any Major Dude”
34: Bill Withers “Can We Pretend”
01: Love Break Introduction
02: Samuel Jonathan Johnston “My Music”
03: Tom Brock “There’s Nothing In This World That Can Stop Me From Loving You”
04: The Dramatics “In The Rain”
05: William Bell “I Forgot To Be Your Lover”
06: William Bell & Mavis Staples “Strung Out”
07: Nina Simone “Baltimore”
08: Gwen McCrae “Let’s Straighten It Out”
09: L.T.D. “Love Song”
10: The Isley Brothers “Hello It’s Me”
11: The Meters “Wichita Lineman”
12: Eddie Kendricks “If You Let Me”
13: Al Green “Light My Fire”
14: Heatwave “Stay Of A Story” 15: Curtis Mayfield “The Makings Of You” 16: Marvin Gaye “Come Live With Me Angel” 17: Gene Chandler “Tomorrow I may Not Feel The Same” 18: The Dells “Does Anybody Even Know I’m Here” 19: Ethel Beatty “It’s Your Love” 18: Aretha Franklin “With Everything I Feel In Me” 19: Joe Simon “Before The Night Is Over” 18: David Ruffin “Common Man” 19: Z.Z. Hill “That Ain’t The Way You Make Love” 20: The Jackson 5 “We Got A Good Thing Going” 21: The Isley Brothers “Here We Go Again” 22: Madeline Bell “Make That Move” 23: Milton Wright “Keep It Up” 24: Odyssey “Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love”
01: Soul Mann & The Brothers “Bumpy’s Intro”
02: The Jackson 5 “All I Do Is Think Of You”
03: The Intruders “Memories Are Here To Stay”
04: Johnny “Guitar” Watson “Lovin’ You”
05: The Manhattans “Devil In The Dark”
06: The Ebonys “You’re The Reason Why”
07: Al Green ” I Wish You Were Here”
08: Luther Ingram “To The Other Man”
09: Eddie Kendricks “Intimate Friends”
10: Don Blackman “Loving You, Holding You”
11: Lamont Dozier “The Picture Will Never Change”
12: Dynasty “Adventures In The Land Of Music”
13: Dionne Warwick “You’re Gonna Need Me”
14: Bobby Glenn “Sounds Like A Love Song”
15: The Impressions “Man, Oh Man”
16: Billy Stewart “We’ll Always Be Together”
17: Lyn Collins “Take Me, Just As I Am”
18: The Ambassadors “Ain’t Got The Love”
19: The Fuzz “I Love You For All Seasons”
20: The Delfonics “La-La Means I Love You”
21: The Impressions “Gone Away”
22: Jean Plum “Here I Go Again”
23: The Dells “Free And Easy”
24: The Three Degrees “You’re The Fool”
25: The Temptations “I Wish It Would Rain”
26: Marvin Gaye “Hope I Don’t Get My Heart Broke”
27: The Jackson 5 “2-4-6-8″
28: Edna Wright “Oops! Here I Go Again”
01: Love’s Intro
02: Ace Spectrum “I Don’t Want To Play Around”
03: Banks & Hampton “I’m Gonna Have To Tell Her”
04: Major Harris “I Got Over Love”
05: New BIrth “It’s Been A Long Time”
06: Eddie Holman “It’s Over”
07: Black Ivory “(It’s) Time To Say Goodbye”
08: Marvin Gaye “Is That Enough”
09: Top Shelf “Let Them Keep On Talking”
10: Lloyd Price “What Did You Do With My Love”
11: Jerry Butler “No Money Down”
12: The Moments “Love On A Two-Way Street”
13: Steve Parks “Still Thinking Of You”
14: Solomon Burke “Everlasting Love”
15: Clay Hunt “(I’m Claimin’) FInders Keepers”
16: Angela Winbush “Angel”
17: The Isley Brothers “Ain’t I Been Good To You”
18: Sweet Blindness “Ain’t No Use”
19: Billy Stewart “Cross My Heart”
20: The Delfonics “Trying To Make A Fool Out Of Me”
21: Freddie Hughes “Sarah Mae”
22: The Three Degrees “Collage”
23: Nancy Wilson “I’m In Love”
24: Patrice Rushen “Where There Is Love”
25: Joann Garett “It’s No Secret”
26: Bobby Womack “Woman’s Gotta Have It”
27: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “A Legend In It’s Own Time”
28: Ben Vereen “I’ll Keep A Light In My Window”
29: Teddy Pendergrass “I’ll Never See Heaven Again”
30: Diana Ross “One Love In My Lifetime”
31: Brothers By Choice “Baby, You Really Got Me Going”
32: Mary Wells “Two Lovers History”
Hey y’all, me and my ace Grandtheft got together a few years ago in a hotel room in Vancouver and started talking about doing a record together. After some quick sketchpad ideas there, I flew up to Toronto a little while later and we worked on it in the studio and we came up with this cool record. Eventually finishing up in a hotel room in Chicago we came up with this fun house record. We’re proud to present “Find A Way” featuring Jeanette “Lady” Day, out now on Beatport!
Cosmo Baker & Grandtheft “Find A Way” featuring Jeanette “Lady” Day
DJ Stuart "Re-Work V2"
Wet "All The Ways" (Branchez Remix)
De La Soul "Beautiful Night"
With You "Ghost" feat. Vince Staples (Major Lazer Remix)
Tall Black Guy "The Heart Of The Town"
KRNE "I'll Be Good"
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?"