May 2012 Mixtape – “Beats on the Wire”

Download: May 2012 Mixtape – “Beats on the Wire”

I’ve held down two-hour phone conversations about just one season of “The Wire” with friends – there are no other television shows I can think of that come close to captivating me in that way. Whether it’s the story, the acting, a specific character’s trajectory, the politics – it’s upper-echelon viewing, probably the standard for modern dramatic television. It’s like a giant movie.

I always wanted to make some kinda tape like this, whether or not others have already beat me to it. There’s so much great dialogue you could probably make a 12-part series of tapes, each one thematic, dedicated to a character or a season. This was just some of my favorite dialogue that I mainly pulled off YouTube – it’s just scraping the surface.

Record selection was focused on instrumentals I hadn’t pulled out in awhile, stuff that people might have played twelve times when it dropped but has been stuck in the crate for the last couple years. I tried to match most of the moody beats with relevant dialogue, but I wasn’t trying to get too overly subliminal or deep with any selections.

The tape is a SPOILER ALERT. It’s a bit of a risk making it – I know some of my friends still haven’t seen the show, and I would recommend against listening if you haven’t finished the series. For those who have experienced all five seasons, hopefully it’s a fun, slightly heart-wrenching little trip down memory lane.

— DJ Ian Head

PS: I dropped a short mix for Record Store Day the other week. Click here to download.

late night chill out

Some new, chill sounds from that guy Kev Brown. Shout out RE Definition Records and my dude J-Nota.

No Name the Great Nameless – “Light Squared Circles”

No Name the Great Nameless “Light Squared Circles”

Everyone should listen to and buy this album.


Released in 2008 by Root70Lounge. Available on iTunes. Featuring Gabriel Teodros, Khingz, Omega Jackson, Josh Joffee, Subtext and more.

Bonus: Occasional Mix #6

Bonus: Occasional Mix #6

Another short mix for the month of November, some joints, mostly on mp3, I’ve been bumping on the walk to the dayjob.


Apollo Brown ft. Oddisee – “The Times”

Bambu – “Spare Change”

Homeboy Sandman – “Parallel Perpindicular”

K-Def – “Times Change”

Macklemore ft. Prometheus Brown “Church”

Damu the Fudgmunk “Supply for Demand (Instrumental)”

Oddisee “The Carter Barron”

Collapsible Mammals “Travel Music Pt 1”

Monthly Mixtapes: “Treats.” (November 2011)

Monthly Mixtapes: “Treats.” (November 2011)

To be honest, I wanted to do two things this month: play some hip-hop, and use these really funny voicemail messages I found while digging through old samples and sound files. I was able to do both, to a certain degree – I could have played more records, and I could have played more messages, but I think what came out is a decent little tape, a couple treats to vibe out to in your headphones, something a little more rugged for the hoodies-and-jeans fall weather. These are a few records that remind me of hitting classic vinyl spots ten years ago while flipping a Rob Swift mixtape over in the walkman. Hmm..that might have been a bit more than ten years ago.

Much like the dozen donuts on the cover, I tried to drop a variety of joints here, from Chicago and Seattle, Philly to the UK. First is a vintage DJ Spinna instrumental, I just love how his beats were so creative, hit you so hard with the bass lines and filters – you always knew it was Spinna. Found this the other week at The Thing, the b-side has a joint from Buckwild. Next up is High and Mighty‘s “The Meaning,” which might end up being my favorite twelve-inch by them. Bought this at Fat Beats when it dropped, back in 97 I think. Then you got an off-kilter Daedelus instrumental, and some People Under the Stairs, before some super-underground Roots white label heat. (Did this ever come out officially?) I’m sure by now you can tell the vibe I’m on here…next is one of my favorite Mumbles beats, followed by the slept-on All Natural record “Ill Advisory” featuring Juice, discussing why you don’t want to mess with Chicago emcees, years before Kanye. Then just to flip it up, I dropped some UK material – Lewis Parker‘s “101 Pianos,” with some Herbaliser basslines and What What rhymes. But possibly my favorite record on this mix is “Official Members,” a serious classic Emerald City piece from the “14 Fathoms Deep” compilation by Mad Fanatic ft. Rag Chyld. The concluding record is an instrumental from Madlib’s underrated cousin, Kankick.

Last thing I want to say, in regards to the two messages on the tape, is big shouts out to Gabe and Sara for trying to hook up a donut fiend. I had totally forgotten this happening – good looking out! And shouts to Ani for the cover photo – the best donuts reside out west.

— DJ Ian Head

Bonus: Brooklyn Summer Heat (Occasional Mix #5)

Bonus: Brooklyn Summer Heat (Occasional Mix #5)

I have my AC unit and two little fans, but it’s still pretty hot in my 3rd floor apartment in Brooklyn. So I stay up late, eating tofutti cuties and making mixtapes.

I don’t really have a lot of house-type music, but here’s a couple soulful, uptempo jams roll to in your local borough, as we float into the middle of summer.

All-vinyl mix. Hope you enjoy.

— DJ Ian Head

Monthly Mixtapes: “Bernie Sanders” (January 2011)

Monthly Mixtapes: “Bernie Sanders” (January 2011)

On December 10, 2010, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent, took a full day to go hard against the so-called “Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010” tax bill, which continues the massive George Bush-era tax breaks for rich people for two more years (and possibly/probably more). I’m not usually one to dedicate a tape to a politician of any stripe, but I have to give it up to someone standing up against basically everyone in Washington – Democrats and Republicans – and railing against them for eight and a half hours straight, fact after blatant fact, about how they are selling out working people, the poor and the middle class. So, credit is due, and as Bernie was bringing his speech to a close, I posted on Facebook that I’d dedicate the next Monthly Mixtape to him, so here it is.

If you want to read an article about the bill, here’s one (of several) by progressive economist Dean Baker:

This is a short tape, just over 20 minutes, and the music was selected for thematic feeling rather than anything symbolic. Hopefully it worked. I remember ten years ago when I lived in Philly talking with another activist, hip-hop head friend of mine about doing a series of “political mixtapes” that touched on themes / people and mixed music and vocal snippets, but it never came together. I’m not sure if this is exactly what we envisioned but I like doing it every once in awhile (the last similar tape was the Howard Zinn dedication).

Snippets were taken off Youtube, Democracy Now! and MSNBC’s Countdown. Shout out to Bernie Sanders, the only socialist in Congress.

— DJ Ian Head