Monthly Mixtapes: “In the Dollar Bin” (February 2011)

Monthly Mixtapes: “In the Dollar Bin” (February 2011)

Ok, I’mjust gonna list the reasons why I made this mixtape:

  1. February is a tough month. In NYC, it’s usually the coldest, icy-est, most brutal month of the year. Last February I got sicker than I’ve been since I was a little kid. You can get kind of swallowed up by the city in February. So instead of doing something more downbeat and mellow, I figured I’d break out some upbeat records to keep things moving forward during the next few weeks.
  2. I love dollar bins. I’ve done a few tapes of dollar (or less) records, and figured it was time to get back into the crates for the funk. Shout out to my man Verbal Math and all the dollar heads out there.
  3. Recent travels in the Northwest (SEA/TAC/PDX) the past couple months revealed some dollar treasures that I thought needed sharing.
  4. I needed to throw out a couple donuts in tribute to Dilla, RIP.
  5. It gave me an excuse to play some LLCOOLJ.
  6. I do monthly mixtapes.

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes: “Bogart to Batman” (October 2010)

October 2010: Bogart to Batman
DJ Ian Head

Ok, this is probably one of the strangest tapes I’ve ever put together. I figured since this marks around three years of tapes, I’d dive into things a little harder. I ran through a bunch of records, from all kinds of genres, and tried to create some kind of crazy super-scientifical bubbly soundscape. Then I went back over the whole mix and cut in a bunch of other records, mostly vocal snippets, plus a couple extras. I kept envisioning some of the classic old tapes I used to listen to, especially some of the stuff Kid Koala and Q-Bert used to do. Just randomass records.

Somewhat similar to last month’s tape, this is kind of a bunch of little “soundtracks” that re-make or ellaborate on various scenes from radio shows, movies and 1970s basketball games. Musically there’s breakbeats, dramatic strings, funky basslines, flutes, piano solos, and James Brown. A few cats have been asking me to play more records and make longer mixes. I tried really hard here guys!! But, this mix still came in at about 34 minutes. I think I used like around 40 records though.

At the base off all this, to me, is hip-hop. The genius, innovative idea of mixing and scratching records, combined with a passion for music that makes you want to keep going through old vinyl in search of something you’ve never heard, that you can in turn make into something else no has ever heard.

Thanks so much for listening, much more to come.

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes: “Soundtracks” (September 2010)

Monthly Mixtapes – September 2010 – Soundtracks (Download)

Here’s a short mix of some of my favorite soundtrack selections. I’m not a big OST (original sound track – took me a couple years to figure that one out, admittedly) nerd, and don’t own extensive crates of British and French television soundtracks. But it is very true that there’s been some classic records (and samples) from films and tv shows. Often, from really bad, obscure movies and television – which makes those records harder to find. This mix does lean on the sample-heavy, breakbeat side of things – down the line I might do a mix of stuff from my favorite movies, like the theme to “The Third Man,” but for now I figured it was time to feature some good music that have been sitting in the crates for awhile without any shine.

Good soundtracks create great atmosphere and feeling, and help tell the story or embellish a character or situation. Hopefully these selections give off some of that, whether or not you recognize them or know the movie they’re attached to.

As a bonus, I did a short second mix of some of my favorite movie-associated hip-hop records. Nothing super rare on there, just classic joints I still love to play today.

No tracklisting this month. Quincy Jones is a genius, go check out his catalogue.

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes “Heavy” (April 2010)

Monthly Mixtapes – April 2010 – “Heavy” (Download)

There are these compilation albums from the 70s I think, called like “Heavies” or “Heavy Stuff from CBS” – something in that vein. I took it to mean that the songs included, while for promotional purposes, were a sampling of some deeper, more intriguing cuts by artists, rather than pop-radio athemns.

So here’s my own little compilation of “heavies.” I tried to choose songs that feel…beautiful, I guess, or at least evoke something larger than just “it’s time to dance!” (not that I don’t love dancing to good music). These selections are more thoughtful pieces to me, along with “heavy” production value – thick drums, instrumentation, vocals that hit you directly.

It’s not a long mix, and I know some folks have told me I need to stretch the mixes out. I had several other records pulled originally, but when the Bobby Hutcherson song ended, I just felt like, that was it right there, a proper conclusion. Maybe the next mix will be an hour, we’ll see..

Full tracklisting below.

— DJ Ian Head

1. Cannonball Adderley “Tensity”
2. Ohio Players “Pride and Vanity”
3. Ashton, Gardner and Dyke “Paper Head, Paper Mind”
4. Pharoah Sanders “Thembi”
5. Gil Scott Heron “Everyday”
6. Milt Jackson w/Ray Brown “Enchanted Lady”
7. Bobby Hutcherson “Procession”

Monthly Mixtapes: Covers Vol. 2 (August 2009)

August 2009 Mixtape: Covers Pt. 2
DJ Ian Head

This is part two of my series of “Covers” mixtapes – the first was my December 2008 mixtape, available here. The liner notes for the first mixtape touch more deeply on my love of good cover songs, so I won’t repeat myself here.

On my side of the country, the heat is sweltering right now. And I imagine it might be like that everywhere come August – although with global warming, we can’t really predict anything anymore. But with hot temperatures in mind, I kept the groove slower and mostly chill on this tape. And n the spirit of Lou Donaldson, I tried to continue to play the funk.

The final three joints are my brief tribute to Michael Jackson – I stumbled upon two of the records recently and felt it would be good to put them all together for this mix. I know a lot of people are burnt out or feel a certain way about his passing being blown out of proportion, but to me Jackson was an amazing, multi-dimensional artist and icon, who gave us extremely positive music – and that’s something I think a lot of us are grabbing onto right now in these times of war, economic crisis and other craziness.

Lou Donaldson “Everything I Play Gohn Be Funky”
One of my favorite records. I dug it out for $10 – I think it was my first Blue Note record that had the jazz-funk sound rather than straight-ahead bebop. I couldn’t believe this cut, used to play it at college all the time, always put me in a good mood.

Michael Urbaniak “Free”
Bizarre rendition of the Denice Williams classic. The way he did the chorus is pretty sick tho.

Mystic Maiden Voyage”
Can’t really reveal the band here. It’s even blacked out, DJ-style on the 12-inch. But another great cover of one of my favorite songs ever – this is the six minute edit, the full-length version is over nine minutes long.

“Walk on By” Undisputed Truth, Pete Rock, Isaac Hayes
Thought I’d mix these three together – a few dope versions of Bacharach’s classic.

Young Holt Limited “Look of Love”
More Bacharach. You can’t really do a “covers” mix without some flavor from Burt. I love the piano on here.

“Cubano Chant”
Another one of my favorite songs ever. Can’t reveal this one but it’s a great cover. Has anyone ever done a bad cover of “Cubano Chant” though?

Emotions “Aint No Sunshine”
This is a dollar record, and probably my favorite song on the album. Smooth, funky cover though – love the breakdown.

Jimmy Ponder “While My Guitar Gently Wheeps”
Had to play most of this cut. There’s a version somewhere with Ghostface just straight rhyming over the song (much like his classic “Holla”).

Grant Green “Ease Back”
I’m big on jazz covers of Meters / Allen Toussaint tunes (see Lou Donaldson above) because you just know the musicians are gonna go hard, and it’s gonna be some funkyass shit. The stuff you gotta blast on a sunny summer day.

Charles Wright “Light My Fire”
Real slow but soulful version. Just thought I’d drop in a verse real quick.

Zulema “Where Your Are”
Part one in my MJ tribute, a great 45 I picked up awhile back that I rediscovered recently.

Davina “I Can’t Help It”
You can find this in the bargain bin if you look hard enough. Smooth 90s-style version of the classic. Shout out to DJ Center.

Cal Tjader “I Want You Back”
Grabbed this the other day at a small beach town in Washington. You’d think Tjader might slow it down or cheese it up, but it remains pretty funky and true to the original. Hope you enjoy.

Monthly Mixtapes: Cross-Country Digging (July 2009)

July 2009 Mixtape: Cross-Country Digging
DJ Ian Head

It’s the season of rehearsal dinners and dry cleaning – yes, my friends are getting married. This past June I spent three weeks traveling, mostly by train, around the country to take part in the festivities. Being that one wedding was in Philly and another in Los Angeles, and that I hate flying on planes, AND that I’m currently unemployed, I figured roll Amtrak-style and hit a few cities in-between. New York? Chicago? Pittsburgh? I’m there, kickin it, eatin donuts, Ethiopian food, and digging in a grip of crates.

But there are some limits to this kind of digging. First off, I’m on a strict budget (like I said, un-em-ployed) so I’m givin most of my attention to the dollar bins. Second, I’m not tryin to haul dumb records around with me – I already got all those extra wedding clothes, some books, and my laptop (Did I mention I was co-djing one wedding?). So I had to be choosey. At the same time, if I had come up on a crate full of rare gems for cheap, you know I woulda boxed it up and mailed it home.

But that didn’t happen. What did was adventures in stores and flea markets, from Burbank to Brooklyn. Hit some classic spots, can’t reveal everything but anyone who runs through Pittsburgh has to hit Jerry’s, a landmark record spot with boxes of 45s to the ceiling. Jerry will probably be behind the counter cleaning records.

What I came home with was an eclectic set of joints, some for sampling and some for just vibin out to. I tried to make the mix flow between genres as easily as possible, but there’s definitely some obscure selections. However, I feel like all these songs have a unique, soulful quality to them. Some records even tie in thematically to my three weeks of couch surfing. However, despite my reason for traveling, these are records you’ll probably never hear at a wedding. But that’s probably a good thing, right? Hope you enjoy.

Bernard Purdie “Way Back Home”
Maybe a record you’d normally end a mix with, but thought I’d switch up and put it at the beginning. Great cover of the Crusaders classic. I found this one in NYC, early in my journey. The store had a mint copy for $25, but this one was $2, and plays fine.

“Just Beyond”
Pulled this out of the dollar bin right before leaving the spot. The cover was crazy looking and it was on MoTown. Crazy psych-soul shit I’d never heard of before. I love it when you take a chance and find a gem.

People “Somebody Tell Me My Name”
An ill pysch-rock 45, there’s not really a break on here but the production is so heavy and I felt the lyrics. Again, sometimes it’s just the feel of a record, it doesn’t have to be “super funky” or whatever. I felt like his talkin bout wandering the city related a lot to my adventures.

Lonnie Smith “Eleanor Rigby”
Can’t really pass up on a cheap copy of any Lonnie Smith record. Great jazz cover of one of my favorite Beatles’ songs.

The break heads know bout this. I’d been lookin for this 45 for years, the homie had a copy he used to play out all the time.

“…Soon Be Yesterday”
Ok so my dude Jumbo used this for an early Lifesavas cut (pre-Quannum), and played the original on his radio show back in the day. Shit was so smooth, I asked him what it was and he told me it was a certain group of female soulstresses. After listening to almost every one of their albums though, I still hadn’t found the sample. Then I’m in NYC and pull this out the cheap bin, had a curious cover, and boom – after years of lookin, the song appears. Some people might front but to me this is smoothed out slickness.

Pigeon John ft. Abstract Rude “Life Goes On”
The beauty of Amoeba record stores is the cheap hip-hop promo bins. I always loved this cut, especially the way Ab Rude styled on it. Vintage west coast underground.

Nancy Wilson “Ain’t No Sunshine”
A couple producers freaked this loop back in the day. A great cover – if you don’t have this, go check the local dollar bin.

“Where is the Joy”
Slipped a little piece of this joint in there for added flavor.

Soul Children
I spent about a day tryin to remember who used this break. Then it came to me.

“Here I Am Baby (Come and Take Me)”
Don’t get it twisted, my reggae knowledge is WEAK. But I was lookin through a stack of 45s and felt this Al Green cover was pretty heavy.

Idris Muhammad ft. Ish
There was no cover but I couldnt resist another copy of “Power of Soul,” such a dope record. I figured I’d spice things up with a classic Ish (Butterfly) verse.

Art Blakey and the AfroDrum Ensemble
Beautiful record.

Bob Dylan “George Jackson”
Not what you were expecting? This is actually a pretty rare record, and I was happy to finally locate a copy. Shout out to Not4Prophet for putting me on. It’s a powerful song dedicated to the murder of Black Panther George Jackson (please check out “Soledad Brother” if you haven’t heard of him) that doesn’t appear on any of Dylan’s albums. As July 4th is around the corner, a time when many will be spewing patrotic patriotisms, I thought it’d be good to end on this note that conveys a bit more truth about our government’s actions that what you see on CNN.