Monthly Mixtapes: “Summer Sun” (June 2010)

June 2010: Summer Sun
DJ Ian Head

The past week in the Apple has been increasingly sticky-hot. My fan was set on High, and I probably consumed half a gallon of water while laying down this tape early this morning, racing over to dump a couple ice cubes in the glass after mixing in a record.

Even having spent close to half my life on the East Coast, I still can’t quite get used to the thick, humid air. So I keep it a little slower, stroll up the block to the bodega at half-speed. Try and coast around Brooklyn on the bike. Especially that easy evening sun, slight breeze, rollin over to check some friends to post up and grab some food. Really, I’m glad it’s about to be summer, even if it is a little sweaty and grimey.

This is a short collection of more relaxed joints as we ease into summer. Some are themed for the season, others just remind me of the sun, or driving home at night with the windows downm, back when I didn’t live in New York. And a couple remind me of some hip-hop records that spoke on NYC summers and inspired me to come out here in the first place.

No track listing this month, but you should check your Lonnie Liston Smith collection. Hope you dig it.

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes: Summer Fusion (June 2009)

June 2009 Mixtape: Summer Fusion
DJ Ian Head

There’s the back cover of a Ramsey Lewis record that kinda symbolizes fusion for me. It’s one of the first records I ever dug up. It has the whole crew of musicians, chillin, rockin various funky styles of clothing. One dude though – he’s rockin these sunglasses with an extra lense in the middle – a lense, possibly, for the metaphysical “Third Eye.” It’s that kinda vibe – mystical, funky, political, and just plain out there – that’s some fusion ish. In that spirit, I play Roy Ayer’s “The Third Eye” on this mix.

Honestly, I’m not really sure what “fusion” is. There’s jazz fusion, rock fusion, disco fusion – obviously, we’re talkin bout the fusing of different sounds, styles, genres, ideas, etc. But did it start in 1977 or 1982? Did certain artists pointedly try making fusion music, or did it just come out sounding that way? Maybe some musical scholar can school me in all this, but to me fusion is just that certain fuzzy, funky, borderline cheesy sound that it seems artists from all genres tried out at one time or another, usually in the late 70s and early 80s. Sometimes it worked – a lot of the time, it really didn’t. Or at least, for me it doesn’t – but some of it might have been the hottest ish out in 1979. I just wouldn’t know, I was only one year old.

One thing fusion has blessed hiphop with though is some FUNKY ASS SAMPLES. There’s some deep, deep grooves in some of these records. Basslines, choruses of voices, hard drums, funky Rhodes pianos. The key is finding these grooves, and the problem is avoiding the points where the sappy saxophone or harsh guitar suddenly make you think of a bad love scene in an 80s Chuck Norris film. Other times, however, the groove might ride out like a sunny day cruisin with the windows down, some west coast type chillin.

I tried to put together a mix of both short breaks and longer selections. I’m not sure if all of this qualifies as “fusion” technically speaking, but to me it has that abstract, funky quality that you don’t find earlier in the 70s, when shit seemed more raw-sounding, or later in the 80s, when it got all Jimmy-Jamm’d out with electro drums and basslines (don’t take that as a dis, I’m just describin sounds here – I love me some Rhythm Nation).

These aren’t the rarest of records, but on this one, I can’t really reveal the selections. These are some obscure-ish, funky samples – and yeah, they’re samples. Like, I might sample them. Or others already did. So just vibe out. It’s mostly jazz-related musicians, and many who recorded on Blue Note, which put out a lot of great fusion-ish records in the 70s.

Hope you enjoy!

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes: “That Smooth Sound ft. Evolve-One” (April 2009)

April 2009 Mixtape: That Smooth Sound
DJ Ian Head and Evolve-One

So my dude Evolve-One got inspired on the DJ tip this month and hit me with this laid back, smoothed out mix of original selections, a lot of which I hadn’t really been up on before. It inspired me to go back in the crates and explore some records I hadn’t fully checked out upon purchase – records I’d bought for one signature cut, but admittedly ignored other joints. Or, on the other hand, songs that originally I had thought “too cheesy” or not “raw” enough for mixtapes, but five years later, my tastes have become different, wider. Not to say there aren’t a few of my favorites on my side of the tape, but definitely a number of records I haven’t broken out in a minute.

My set starts the tape off, and I sort of run through some breaks and joints – hopefully I get the heads nodding. Evolve is the clean-up hitter here, just dropping classic, soulful, smoothed-out pieces for the final half. So lean back, cool out, and enjoy.

DJ Ian Head side:

Jefferson Starship
This is a record I read Prince Paul talking about, saying people ignored joints like this.

Maynard Ferguson
One of the first breaks I ever dug up. Premier killed that sample.

Norman Connors
He likes to do smoothed out covers of Pharoah Sanders joints.

Silver Convention
Some 90s NYC group sampled this, I think they were called Hilfiguz, heh heh…dope joint though.

Such an ill, funky, dark sample from kind of a cheeseball group.

Linda Clifford
The skip makes it kinda grimey.

Sylvia Striplin
I found this at a flea market for two bucks. I grab the record and set it aside, then an arm from behind me reaches over, grabs it, and runs across the parking lot (where the market was held). It happened so fast I was just in shock. But then dude smiles, turns to me and hands the record back, and bounces, not sayin anything.

Jeff Lorber
Featuring Jay-Z.

This shit is crazy – just relax and vibe out.

I can’t really reveal the last two cuts but they should be recognizable. The last joint is pretty ill, and was used on that last (?) De La album, for the opening track, which was one of my favorites on the LP.

Evolve-One Side:

1. Nikki Giovanni from The Way I Feel
2. Bar-Kays from Flying High on Your Love
3. Blue Magic from Self Titled
4. Margie Joseph from Makes a New Impression
5. Van McKoy from Love is the Answer (more cowbell!!!!)
6. Billy Paul from 360 Degrees of Billy Paul (evolve one remix, just let it play)
7. Minnie Riperton from Stay in Love
8. The Isley Brothers from Harvest for the World (west coast!!)
9. Frank Zappa from Hot Rats (damn listen to them drums, nice and warm)
10. Steely Dan from Aja


— DJ Ian Head