Phife Dawg – “Dear Dilla”

Phife Dawg of the legendary Hip Hop group A Tribe Called Quest pays tribute to Jay Dee. Great song and very cool vid.

RJ

Skymark – “Primeiras Impressões”

front-cover

After hearing the first preview of Skymark’s “Primeiras Impressões” in early 2013, I immediately wrote it at the top of my “must-buy-as-soon-as-its-released” list. After a couple of distributor holdups and a mail delay due to bad weather here in Japan, my vinyl copy FINALLY landed in my hands. I had high expectations for this record, as I cracked it open and put the needle to the groove. I was not disappointed at all. This album is a definite winner and every track from A1 to B5 sounds great.

Do have a listen to the preview for yourself.

 

If you enjoyed what you heard, head on over to Rush Hour and order a copy. By the way, this is a very limited release and only 150 copies of the record will be pressed (sorry kids, no MP3s). Record collectors and Music lovers don’t sleep on this one!

RJ

Dillamental – “Donuts”

Here’s another cool tribute to Mr. James Yancey. A live band recreates “Donuts”. Pretty damn sweet!

RJ

“Traveling Man: The Wanderlust Mix” by Avenging Wind feat. Fathom 9

February 7th, 2014 marks what would have been the 40th birthday of one of Detroit’s finest Music producers, James Yancey aka J. Dilla.

Throughout the month, fans and fellow artists around the world are celebrating the life of J. Dilla by holding various concerts, parties and other events. Some have been inspired so much by Dilla’s Music they’ve put together their own musical tributes.

One such artist to do the later is Avenging Wind aka Fathom 9. The Memphis, Tennessee native has released an instrumental project entitled ‘Traveling Man: The Wanderlust Mix’, dedicated to the late musical genius. The 24-track is full of jazzy Hip Hop grooves with some good ol’ boom bap throw in for good measure. Definitely worth a listen and a pickup. Check it out for yourself by pressing play below.

RJ

GOOD VIBES – WHODAT Live @ En-Sof

20131003-074912.jpg

(日本語は下にあります)
Wut Up Doe Tokyo!

Get your pre-weekend started off right by coming out to our GOOD VIBES party starring Detroit’s Own Whodat!

The gifted DJ is making her first visit to Japan and will be bringing to you the best in Soulful House / Techno from The Motor City! The party kicks off at 8PM with our main man Alixkun warming up the decks!

Price: 1,500yen (1 drink minimum)

ワッツアップTokyo!
デトロイトが誇るWhodat(フーダッ)がお贈りする、“グッドバイブスパーティー”で木曜の夜を一緒に過ごしませんか。

初来日となる凄腕DJフーダッが、モーターシティー(デトロイト)から最高のソウルフルハウス/テクノをお届けします!
パーティーは会場を温めてくれる Alixkun のプレイと共に20時にキックオフいたします。

Price 1,500yen(1ドリンクオーダー制)

More event details here –> https://www.facebook.com/events/396385910491779/

Finding My Voice

Growing up in Detroit in the ’70s and ’80s, I seem to have good Music and good singers around me all the time. Whether at church, home (Moms has a beautiful voice!), my uncle’s crib or listening to the radio, I would hear someone belting out some beautiful melodies. I too loved to sing but never really thought of myself as a singer…and was also too intimidated to sing around folks that I knew could really blow. I can still hear my mother saying, “Boy, you better get on top of that note!”, on the rare occasions I did sing a few lines.

Me and The Wick StickAs the years went on I got deeper into Music and started learning Bass guitar…but even though I took the road to becoming an instrumentalist, I still enjoyed singing (and continue to do so). I usually sing at home but have been known to get down to some Stevie Wonder in a local bar or karaoke spot. On more than one occasion, I’ve had people tell me, “Man, you got a good voice…”, however I would quickly turnaround and say, “Naaaah. If you hear so-and-so back home, you’d think I’m nothing!”

 

A few years ago during an impromptu Karaoke session with my man Bobby D., I casually said to him, “You know, my man…I really want to SING.” He replied with, “You’ve got a good voice. Why don’t you take some lessons with a pro to work on a few things?”

Well, after years of procrastination, I decided to do it.

Mic3Honestly, the thought of letting out my [singing] voice in front of pro was a bit nerve-racking. I had a couple of weeks to practice before the first session but was still crazy nervous on the day. After meeting at the studio, my teacher and I talked for a bit about what style of Music I like, what I want to sing, etc. He then schooled me on breath control which was followed by a series of breathing exercises to warm up (this also helped me calm down). We then moved on to some simple singing exercises so both he and I could see where my range was at. After doing this for a while I could hear my voice sounding like it never had before. It’s not like I was blowing down the house or anything but I could hear a bit more depth and harmony. At one point my teacher said, “I can hear a nice tenor in there!” We continued on for an hour and I got some great tips which I’m definitely going to put to use.

I’m still not quite ready to go our tour but my confidence is definitely building.
Next up…a group lesson in front of a bunch more people at a local live house.

This should be interesting…

R.J.

Oh yeah, for folks in and around Tokyo that are looking for a great vocal coach, check out my man Ashton Moore. He’s a fellow Detroiter and performs regularly here…and is and damn good!

Ashton Moore

http://ashtonmooremusic.com/

Manuals – “MID ONE” (Manuals Instrumental Disc One)

MID ONE  (Manuals Instrumental Disc One) is the debut instrumental release from drummer / producer Manuals.

The Illinois native has been on the Music scene for some time now, and has provided stickwork for artists such as De La Soul, Gorillaz, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and [The Mighty] Mos Def. He lays down some heavy grooves on his new LP, which contains 100% live instrumentation (!!!).

Manuals also enlisted some pretty talented musician friends to perform on his 11-track album, including Q-Tip bassist Josh David and Alicia Keys’ organist Rogiers. Be sure to check this one out!

RJ

Tall Black Guy Presents: Tempo Dreams Volume 1

Like many of you all out there, Monday is not my favorite day of the week. However, there are those times when Mondays are pretty damn awesome…like when you get fresh new Music delivered to your desk first thing in the morning!

I finally got my copy of Tall Black Guy‘s Tempo Dreams Volume 1 in the mail today and couldn’t wait to get home to fire up the turntable (yes, vinyl!). TBG’s latest project is a compilation LP which consists of tracks from some of his favorites producers. The lineup includes BusCrates 16-Bit Ensemble, Detroit’s own Doc Illingsworth, Apple Jac,  Ta-Ku and several others. Oh, and of course there’s a banger on there by the man himself.

Check out the video trailer below then head on over to Bastard Jazz and order a copy!

RJ Bass

 

Ahmed Sirour – “THE AFTER 2AM SESSIONS LP”

About a year ago Ahmed Sirour dropped a super smooth EP titled The AFTER 2AM Sessions. Well he’s back and has added an additional 6 songs to complete the full album. Kick back, relax and check out The AFTER 2AM Sessions LP.

Peace.

RJ Bass

Dion Brown “April 2nd – A Tribute to Gil Scott Heron”

May 27th will mark the 1 year anniversary of the passing of Gil Scott-Heron. Chicago producer Dion Brown has put together another nice instrumental piece dedicated to the late activist, educator and social commentator.

April 2nd – A Tribute to Gil Scott Heron

Rest in Peace Gil.

RJ Bass

Eric Lau – ‘Last Night on Earth’ Vol 1

DJ / Producer Eric Lau was recently asked to do a mix…but not just any ol’ ordinary mix. The mix had to contain songs that fit the theme of his‘Last Night On Earth’. He took on the challenge and put together a compilation that contains Music he fell in love with as a child with some more recent joints by the late, great J. Dilla. Check out the playlist of songs that Eric would bump as he leaves Mother Earth. Oh yeah, download it for free while you still have the chance!

Peace!

RJ Bass

Put Me On It ‘Last Night on Earth’ Vol 1 – Eric Lau by Eric Lau

Robert Glasper – “Black Radio”

I’ve been waiting [impatiently] for this album since Robert Glasper talked about it during his concert here in Tokyo last September. RG announcing that he and his crew would be releasing new Music had me (and the crowd) excited, but when he finished calling off the names of the special guests that would be performing on it, I could hardly speak. Needless to say this has been a long 5 months but the wait is finally over.

“Black Radio” is the highly anticipated release from Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, Derrick Hodge, and Casey Benjamin otherwise known as the Robert Glasper Experiment or RCDC. This group is one of the best live bands around. Jazz, Hip Hop or an experimental rock joint, no matter what they play, it’s always amazing. Oh, and about those special guests they invited to be on their latest project…lawd! Erykah Badu, Lalah Hathaway, Bilal, King, Mos Def (Yasiin Bey), Musiq Soulchild, Ledisi, Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Chrisette Michelle, Stokley Williams and more.

You can buy this incredible album direct from Robert Glasper, Amazon or iTunes. For my folks here that are buying through the iTunes Japan Store, RCDC decided to bless us with an extra bonus track.

Peace!

RJ Bass

Eric Lau – “The Mission”

 

When I heard the first single off this joint in November 2011, I made a note to buy the full release the day it comes out. How I missed this when it dropped earlier this month is still a mystery to me (must have been the birthday drinks).

“The Mission” is the latest from DJ / Producer Eric Lau. His new project is available in digital format and on vinyl. Both feature Detroit’s own Guilty Simpson as well as vocalists Fatima and Olivier Daysoul. For those who order this on vinyl (limited release) you’ll be blessed with more songs, that include addtional production by Damu The Fudgemunk and beats by one of my favorite Hip Hop / Jazz drummers, Chris “Daddy” Dave…yes, that Chris Dave!

RJ Bass

Red Bull Music Academy Lecture: Ali Shaheed Muhammad

I burned up a lunch hour watching this vid but it was definitely worth it. A lengthy conversation with A Tribe Called Quest DJ/Producer, Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

The soft-spoken Musician talks about the early days of ATCQ (my favorite Hip Hop group of all time) as well as the joys and pains of working at a record label. He also shares what it was like working with artists such as D’Angelo, Lucy Pearl and the late, great J. Dilla.

Young and old Musicians (and fans of Music) can learn a lot from this brotha so please check it out.

RJ Bass

Mecca:83 – “Life Sketches Vols 1&2″

“Life Sketches Vols 1&2″ is an instrumental album by U.K. beat-maker / producer Mecca:83. Released in December 2011, the full-length album (16 tracks in all) consists of cuts from Mecca:83′s debut EP “The Life Sketches” as well as brand new material.

All tracks were produced by the Manchester based artist but he enlisted the help of some other really good Musicians including my homie Buscrates 16bit Ensemble, who’s a talented producer in his own right. One of my favorite joints on the album is a track called “Detroit Twilight” which features both Mecca:83 and brotha BusCrates. (Love the name too!)

Please check out the entire album below and for those that dig it, you know what to do…buy it!

RJ Bass

Mistakes are Good!

I know this greeting is a bit late but…Happy New Year ! Hope your 2012 got off to a great start! 
My 2012 is shaping up to be a really good one. I’m looking forward to finally starting Music school (yes, Daddy is going back to school, ha!) and of course making more Music with my group, 1Eighty.

There’s one other thing I’m looking forward to doing: Making mistakes. Yes, mistakes.
Lots of them!

I learned a long time ago that trying something new and screwing up is a good thing. Yes, you may feel fear, embarrassment or even break into a sweat, but in most cases you’ll have fun and learn something in the process. I experienced all of these things at yesterday’s Jazz Jam Session. Yeah, your boy even sweat a bit.

Beauty Jackson

Playing live with my 1Eighty family is a lot of fun and I always look forward to it, but I’ve been a bit intimidated to play in the jam sessions at the local bars and clubs here in Tokyo…especially the Jazz sessions. These cats that play at the Jazz sessions are good…no..Incredible! Some are pro (or semi-pro) and most of the other players have been playing 20+ years. Although, I’ve only been playing seriously for the past 2 1/2 years, I decided to pack up “Beauty Jackson” (my 5-string Bass) and hit the Monday afternoon session.

The jam sessions at Dolce Vita usually start off with the house band playing a song then the session leader will call people to the stage who signed up to play. You never know who you’re going to be playing with and what playing level they’re at. I was a bit surprised when my name was called after the house band’s opening song. The first thing that came out my mouth was, “Uh, I need a bit more time…” I hadn’t finished my coffee and I wanted to look through my major, dominant and minor chord cheat sheets (not that it was going to help any). A few seconds later, the saxophonist said she wanted to play “Autumn Leaves” which is a song I know and love. (There are many versions of this song but I really like the version by legendary Detroit Bassist, Ron Cater.) I then said, “OK. I’ll play.” I wasn’t mentally ready and my fingers were still cold but there was no turning back. I tuned up Beauty, got my Music sheet ready and waited for Someya-san’s intro (he’s 1Eighty’s piano man).

I thought I would at least be ok through the first 8 to 12 bars but things got a bit rough just after third bar. The drummer was precise (if not perfect) but I was having trouble keeping time. Perhaps I was trying to do too much and maybe should have stuck with a safe I-V playing style instead of  trying I-III-V-VII or any other tricky combination (for you non-Musicians –> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_progression)…or better yet just played root notes throughout. After getting lost a couple of times (thanks for getting me back on track Someya-san!) and crash landing, I took a seat at my table, wiped my sweat and sipped some coffee. Yes, it was rough but I was determined to redeem myself later.

Someya-san and others getting down!

After watching some great Musicians play for a while, it was my turn again. Instead of trying Autumn Leaves again (which I did play later) I decided to try a song called “Beautiful Love” which is another great Jazz standard…and also a song I had never played. Once again, there was no turning back. Yes, there were more mistakes (plenty of them) but I could feel my confidence growing.

More great sets then it was my turn again. A great thing about the sessions at Dolce Vita is all of the players (even the pro Musicians) are super cool and don’t mind if you play the same song that someone else played or that you played earlier. Yes, it’s a jam session but it’s also practice. I decided to give Autumn Leaves another shot. Although, I wasn’t perfect, I played a bit better. Confidence still on the rise. My last song of the day was another I had never played titled, “Days of Wine and Roses.” Another rough set but I made it through it.

After my last set I grabbed a beer. (I swear, beer never tasted so good!) The other players finished up the session with an Blues jam where everyone got a chance to solo. As I watched all these great Musicians, I thought to myself, “Yes, that is where I’m headed.”

I absolutely love Jazz (it’s probably the Music I love the most) and will someday form my own trio (or quartet). In the meantime, I’m going to keep jamming, practicing and of course, making mistakes.

Peace.

Reggie “RJ Bass” Austin

 

Illtone and Shade Cobain – “Blacktivity”

Hip Hop. Both the culture and Music were born in the streets of New York and lot of my favorite Hip Hop artists are from that state. No question, New York is a special place.

Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, I also listened to a lot of local artists which I felt were as good (or better) than some of the “up and coming” New York cats. To this day Michigan continues to feed the World with great Hip Hop and Music in general. Another special place that has provided great Music over the years is the state of Pennsylvania. Funk, Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul..the list goes on and on and on…

So what do you get when combine a dope Michigan lyricist with a creative producer from Pennsylvania? Well, you get some pretty damn good Music.

Blacktivity is the newly formed duo which consists of rapper Illtone (Port Huron, MI) and beat maker / producer Shade Cobain (Pittsburgh, PA). Their self-titled release is a winner. Illtone’s raspy voice fits perfectly with Shade’s hard-hitting beats. Hip Hop fans, TURN THIS JOINT UP LOUD! You will love it.

Peace

RJ Bass

SPAN PHLY – “Nothing Lasts Forever”

While chatting with my fellow writer friend Marion aka Carminelitta about writer’s block (of all things) I took a peek at her FB page and discovered some Musical goodness.  This is just what I needed!

“Nothing Lasts Forever” is the The 5th studio solo LP from SPAN PHLY (uh, where the hell have I been?!) and features 11 songs. Dude flows heavy on every track but the 5th track “High Road Hopes”, wow! Anyway, have a listen and get a taste of some Arizona Hip Hop.

Peace.

RJ Bass

1Eighty – “D.D. (Dear Dilla)”

For those that know me personally or kick it with me on the various social networks, it’s no secret I’m a huge J. Dilla fan. I’ve written about him several times on my blog and I often post Music by him on Facebook and Twitter.

Shortly after our piano player joined our band back in February of this year, he composed a song and sent us the melody. After reading the title and hearing just the keys, I knew I was going to love playing this. The song is called D.D. (Dear Dilla) and it’s our dedication to the late Detroit genius, James Yancey aka Jay-Dee aka J. Dilla.

I’ve decided to post a couple of versions of this. The first version is from one of our studio sessions earlier this year. The second version is us playing live at  Dolce Vita in Tokyo, Japan. Hope you like it.

RJ Bass

Noah Studio, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo, Japan – March 25, 2011

 

Dolce Vita, Okubo, Tokyo, Japan – August 6, 2011

 

Applejac Presents: Playin Favorites

DJ / Producer Applejac has been doing his thing in the Music world for quite some time. Hailing from Decatur, GA, he started DJing at the age of 10! A serious Music lover, the talented DJ is known for his wide-ranging styles, spinning everything from Afrobeat, classic Hip Hop, Funk, Soulful House and many other genres.

With his latest release “Playin Favorites” you can get a taste of his incredible production skills. Inside you’ll find some smooth spoken word from Baldhead Queen (love the lyrics Nina!) some straight-up funk from  Reggie B. and…well, have a listen for yourself. This one has grooves to get your head nodding as well as some laid back joints to help you unwind and get your mind right.

Peace.

RJ Bass

TFW Presents: Tears by Shade Cobain

 

A couple of weeks back, my NBSK brother Shade Cobain dropped his latest release “Tears” and trust me when I tell you it’s full of jams. A collection of hard-hitting bass / drum tracks with eclectic samples and smooth grooves…all which make up the signature Shade Cobain sound.

Being on the “inside” has its perks as I was able to hear this one early but I still bought it as soon as it dropped. You will not be disappointed. Also, much respect to Nanlib for the incredible artwork.

Peace.

RJ Bass

Blazo – “Color of Jazz”

As I was preparing to go to the studio to work on a little Hip Hop + Jazz project of my own, I came across this gem.

Colors of Jazz is the latest release by Polish producer Blazo, which consists of 18 very cool and very melodic tracks.

RJ Bass

Fathom 9 “SHS​:​Blue Notes from a Brown Soul v​.​1 Sounds 4 Sojourners”

Another one from that brotha that never seems to sleep, Fathom 9. His latest entitled  SHS​:​Blue Notes from a Brown Soul v​.​1 Sounds 4 Sojourners has been getting heavy play in my crib this morning (sorry neighbors).

I’ve posted Music by Fathom before and he has become one of my favorite Musician / Producers. The dude can flow on the microphone as well! He recently got a change to open for legendary Hip Hop artist Sadat X (formerly of Brand Nubian), which he said was a life changing experience. Be on the lookout for more goodness from Fathom.

Peace.

RJ Bass

Miles Bonny – “Lumberjack Soul”

For those of you that are not familiar with this Soulful dude, you are in for a treat.

Lumberjack Soul is the latest release by Miles Bonny and is full of older and new goodness by the talented Kansas City-based artist (originally from New York). I’m really hoping this dude hits the shores of Japan in the not so distant future.

RJ Bass

Ahmed Sirour – “THE AFTER 2AM SESSIONS EP”

Ahmed Sirour‘s “THE AFTER 2AM SESSIONS EP” is definitely perfect for that late night hour but it’s also a good one to put on after a long day of working in the big city. The tracks on the Bandcamp page are just snippets, so be sure to purchase the entire release to get a full dose of…chill.

Peace.

RJ Bass

 

 

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

Most of my friends know that I’m not much of a movie buff. If I have to chose between watching a movie or listening to Music, I’ll almost always choose the later. I can honestly say there hasn’t been a single movie in the last 4 years that I’ve really wanted to see (the last being American Gangster with Denzel Washington) but this film I MUST see and I’m tempted to fly to the closest viewing spot if it doesn’t hit theaters in Japan (I’m serious).

Beats, Rhymes & Life by Michael Rapaport is a documentary about my favorite Hip Hop group and a group that many say is the best of all-time: A Tribe Called Quest. It was a sad day when the group announced they were breaking up in 1998 and I’m really glad to see they have reunited on occasion to do shows in various countries around the world.

There has been a bit of controversy surrounding this movie and certain members have expressed frustration with the creator of this film. I honestly don’t know what’s true. I just wish that the members of the greatest group in Hip Hop history could put aside their differences and get back to making great Music.

RJ Bass

Dion Brown – “April First”

The news of Gil Scott-Heron passing last week caught many by surprise and upset all of those who knew his work. Not just his Musical works but his work as a activist, educator and social commentator. Gil was not afraid to speak his mind and “rapped” about things that needed to be heard…a lot of things which are still issues today. (Many refer to him as the “Godfather of Rap” but he denied that.) As the news spread, many posted their favorite speeches and songs while others began to educate the youth of the net community of who Gil was: A Freedom Fighter. Gil also had a special way of interjecting humor into his a lot his conversations about serious topics.

Dion Brown out of Chicago (Gil’s hometown) has shared with us his own interpretation of some of Gil’s works, entitled “April 1st” (the two share a birthday as well). This release is filled with lot of cool beats but there are a few standouts for me, and one of those is the outro track. In this song, you’ll get to hear a bit of Gil’s comedic side as he talks about some of the “blues” plenty of folks can relate to.

Rest in Peace Gil.

RJ Bass

Twit One – “Stepping Stones”

Twit One is a Bass player, DJ and producer out of Cologne, Germany. His latest release Stepping Stones, is a collection of 16 very short but very good tracks. I do wish all of these songs were at least 4 mins longer but the project is good nonetheless. To hear some longer songs by the Bass playing producer, please check out the links on is Bandcamp page (especially the J.Birly EP with Miles Bonny).

Peace

RJ Bass

Mara Hruby – “From Her Eyes”

A nice discovery for a sunny Sunday afternoon (although I’m a little late!). Mara Hruby hit the Oakland Music scene at the start of 2010 and released her EP From Her Eyes in November. This joint is laid back and smooth…and the girl can SING!!!

She does a fantastic job on D’Angelo’s “Send It On” from his 2000 release, Voodoo. One that really surprised me though, is her version of Jamiroquai’s “Alright” from the monster CD, Traveling Without Moving. (Please click here to listen to a live performance by Ms. Hruby.)

Oh yeah, did I mention she can SING?!

Anyway, have a listen for yourself.

Peace.

RJ Bass

Tall Black Guy Productions – “Therapy Chop Sessions EP”

I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about this guy Tall Black Guy so figured I would check him out…and glad I did!

The inspiration for his latest release “Therapy Chop Sessions EP” came from the weekly “chop assignments” given out by the Facebook Music group called The Beat Inn. Please be sure to check his other releases which you can find on his Bandcamp page.

Peace.

RJ Bass

Adam Rock – “sleEP”

Although this one was released way back when in 2010, I thought I would shine a little light on it.

Adam Rock‘s release “sleEP” contains five cool tracks which I hope you enjoy.

Special shoutout to my writer friend Carminelitta for bringing this one to my attention.

RJ Bass

 

Elzhi – “Elmatic”

When I first heard that Elzhi had re-created the classic Nas release “Illmatic” all I could say was, “Whoa!” Illmatic…now Elmatic…word?

When Nas dropped Illmatic back in 1994, many compared him to Hip Hop icon, the GOD, Rakim. (It did feel like the 2nd coming had happened back then). The thought of someone re-creating that CD never entered my mind. However, I know how good Elzhi is so I had to take a listen right away. By the way, in case you didn’t know, Elzhi is from Detroit’s own Slum Village (rest in peace Baatin and J. Dilla).

First off, it’s good…VERY GOOD! Elzhi’s lyrical content is all fresh and new. His flow: Flawless. (Actually some of Elzhi’s content I can relate to a little more…not taking anything away from Nas’ joint.) Will Sessions’ production is tight.

One of the highlights for me on Elmatic’s release is the live instrumentation. As a Musician, I am a sucker for real instruments (no disrespect to my beat-maker homies out there) and the beats, groove and piano on some of these tracks…love it!

Well, I think I’ll stop right there and let you have a listen for yourself. You can download a free copy (I can’t believe this is free) by clicking on this link –> Elmatic

Peace.

RJ Bass

 

 

Trebles and Blues – “The Blue Note”

On March 1, 2011, Trebles and Blues released his debut instrumental album, The Blue Note in digital format. It’s an awesome collection of Music and is absolutely free of charge.

The Los Angeles based producer decided he wanted to give a bit more to his fans and through the Kickstarter program (www.kickstarter.com), he is offering some pretty cool items such as physical CDs of the album, bonus tracks, sample sources, limited edition artwork and wall posters. For those that make a more generous contribution, you will be able interact with him through live Skype beat-making sessions to make personalized songs just for you.

To hear more of The Blue Note as well as download your free copy, please visit Trebles and Blues.

If you are interesting in hearing about about his Kickstarter project, please click here.

RJ Bass

Ma Dukes Presents: The Rebirth Of Detroit

Maureen Yancey, mother of the late James “J Dilla” Yancey speaking about the “The Rebirth Of Detroit” project. She also talks about the resurgence of the city and the Love that Detroit gets Worldwide.

RJ Bass

GURU

A year has passed but it’s still hard to believe that the Hip Hop icon known as GURU (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) is gone. Keith Edward Elam better known as GURU, was born on July 17, 1961 and left this Earth on April 19, 2010.

When my friends and I first heard GURU rap on the 1989 track “Manifest” and Primo’s production, we were like “What The F***?!” Where did these cats come from?! This is the sh*t!” I didn’t think I would ever stop playing that song. Over the years the GURU & Primo, better known as Gang Starr put out so many good songs, that it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite.

While GURU was mainly known as 1/2 half of the mighty Hip Hop duo Gang Starr, he was also responsible for introducing many youth (as well as many adults) to the world of Jazz through his Jazzmatazz projects. Collaborations with Jazz greats such as Donald Byrd, Kenny Garrett, Ramsey Lewis and many others (the list is too long for me to name everyone) proved that he was respected outside of the world of Hip Hop. The fusion of Hip Hop and Jazz on this project also showed many people how well the two art forms go together.

I’m going to leave you with a couple of tracks featuring GURU.

Gang Starr – Mass Appeal

 

GURU – Lougin’ (From Jazzmatazz I)

 

GURU, Rest in Peace.

RJ Bass

 

TFW Presents: Cobainish Theory by Shade Cobain

 

Just after Tuesday, 12 midnght EST (1PM,  Japan time) Shade Cobain released the third installment in his Theory series called, Cobainish Theory. There’s been a lot of buzz around this one for past several months and his latest does not disappoint. I knew it was going to be good and bought it as soon it was made available.  Hard work definitely pays off.  Shade, you outdid yourself on this one.  Oh yeah, the incredible artwork is by Nanz (@nanlib on Twitter).

Be sure to check out Shade’s previous releases by going to his Bandcamp page here.

RJ Bass

Mallz – “Service Entrance”

Over the past several years, there have been a lot people talking about how Hip-Hop is dead or how they miss the good ol’ days of “real” Hip-Hop (blah, blah, blah). Yes, there has been a lot of garbage put out (and still a lot flooding the radio and video stations) BUT “real” Hip-Hop has not gone anywhere…and its here to stay. There are a lot of talented MCs and producers all over the World that are making great Music…and many of them are based in North Carolina. Here’s one example.

Mallz is an MC out of North Carolina and recently released his second full-length solo album called Service Entrance. The album was actually started a few years ago and finally released last month. I could go on and on about it but I’d rather you listen for yourself. I’ll leave you with this…if you enjoy good, no-nonsense Hip-Hop, you will Love it! Trust me.

Peace

RJ Bass

Eddie Logix – Liquid Copper

 

Discovering new Music is always good but discovering new Music out of Detroit really gets me fired up! Hey, what else would you expect from this Detroit cat?

Liquid Copper is 21 tracks of goodness by Detroit producer Eddie Logix. This is the first instrumental release by the Hip-Hop producer who has produced Music for many Detroit MCs. It’s real good…and it’s free! Enjoy.

Peace

RJ Bass

Concept – Instrumentals Vol. 3

Instrumentals Vol.3 by Concept is part of the “Instrumentals” series released in 2010 (be sure to check out the first two in the series as well). This collection of 9 songs will take you back in time a bit with its funk and soul inspired grooves. As I listened to each track I could hear elements of the great artists that were sketched on the cover. Oh yeah, the cover art is incredible! Enjoy.

RJ Bass

Stone Detectives – “Sendai Selections: Japan Fundraiser”

March 11, 2011 will unfortunately be remembered as the day both an earthquake and a tsunami devastated Japan. As I began to type this post (around 12:40PM, March 22nd) I felt another aftershock (or earthquake). No, Life is not quite back to normal yet and it’s going to take a long time before things are back to normal for the people in the hardest hit areas.

I’ve had several people ask me how can they help with the relief efforts. There are many charities through which you can donate clothing, money, etc.  (including my good friend Glen Onodera’s charity here) but another way you can give is through Music.

“Sendai Selections” is a collection of 21 tracks by the Canadian / Dutch duo Stone Detectives. The asking price for this release is $5 (about 406 yen) but you can give more if you choose to. All proceeds will will go to the Japanese Red Cross and UNICEF.

Peace.

RJ Bass

 

OneLove Beats – Lovely Sounds

I should be sleep. No…I should be studying. Anyway, listening to these tunes is keeping me from doing either of those 2 things.

“Lovely Sounds”  is a jazzy collection of beats and grooves by OneLove Beats. 22 tracks of goodness for $1 (less than 100yen).

You can hear this release and more by OneLove by visiting here.

In the meantime, here’s a track that’s going to keep me up for a while.


RJ Bass

The Colorful Grey: Moods of Fathom 9

Since Friday evening I haven’t really been in the mood to listen to Music…which is, well, unbelievable. I’ve always thought that no matter the situation, there would be some song I could put on to make things better.

Like so many others I’ve been glued to Facebook, Twitter and the television in order to receive (and pass along) information regarding the earthquake, tsunami and most recently the nuclear reactor situation. I’ve even done a couple of TV interviews (via Skype) for a local station in my hometown of Detroit. The past 55 hours have been anything but normal.

About an hour ago I was just chatting with a few Twitter friends about how I need to get back to normal.
How, I need to get back to Music.

Shortly after that, my man Fathom 9 blessed me with some goodness. I’ve mentioned before that I have no idea when this guy sleeps as he’s always making Music. His latest collection of 13 instrumentals were all created in the last 24 hours. Yes, the last 24 hours.

Please enjoy his latest release, The Colorful Grey: Moods of Fathom 9

RJBass

There are many ways that you can help the earthquake victims including making donations through the U.S. Apple iTunes store. If you would like to do so, please click here. Also, if you would like more info on how you can help, please contact me.

(Another) Dream Come True. . .

Dreams. We all have them…right? I hope you do! Moving to Japan was one of my dreams, that actually came true (I still find it hard to believe some times).

One of my other dreams: Making & Playing Music.

My Musical weapon of choice: Bass Guitar.
(Yes that is my baby “Kofi Brown” at time of this page.)

Towards the end of Summer 2010, my good friend (and co-worker) Daisaku and I decided to start a band. At first it was just he and I in the studio but we soon discovered that there is only so much fun you can have and only so much Music you can make with 1 Guitar and 1 Bass. About two months later Daisaku asked his friend Kaz if he would like to be our drummer. Kaz said yes and has become my rhythm section brother. We really needed a keyboard / piano player, so we decided to search the Twitterverse (aka Twitter). After a few responses from people that were either already pros (we are not) or just didn’t have what we were looking for, we thought, “Ok, this is not going to be so easy.” You know, sometimes you just have to be patient. We soon found our pianoman: Masaru.

As a group, the 4 of us have only been playing together since February 1 of this year although it seems like we’ve known each other for many years because of the amount of fun we have. Studio time followed by cheap food and even cheaper beer (no we’re not cheap!) before catching the next to the last train (yes we are responsible!) is a weekly ritual I always look forward to. My Musical brothers are really talented and I really feel honored to be able to play with them.

On Sunday March 6, 2011, we invited a small group of people to come and get a taste of “our” Music. I said “our” because 99% of our stuff is original. This was our first time playing live as a band, my guitarist’s first time in about 10 years and my first time ever. Yes, I was nervous as f***!

Anyway, here’s a little piece from our first live performance.
I hope you enjoy it.

RJBass

1Eighty

Bugseed – Bohemian Beatnik LP

 

Some real cool Music from this side of the Earth.

Bugseed is a beat maker from Tokyo, Japan and his release “Bohemian Beatnik LP” is available for, get this…any price you want! Yes, free is an option but this one is definitely worth paying for.

平和

RJBass

 

74 Miles Away

 

I was halfway through the first track of this one when I decided to buy the entire album (yes, I practice what I preach).

74 Miles Away is a collaboration between some very talented Jazz Musicians/producers and also features the work of the very soulful Miles Bonny (I have a link to Miles’ site on the right side of my page).

Hope you dig it!

…and as always. Buy Music!

RJBass

 

Project Leftovers – Leftover

 

A little Musical goodness from the UK. “Leftover” by Project Leftovers was released last year but I just heard their Music this morning. Man, I wish I had gotten a hold of this one earlier but as my homie Rusty Redenbacher said the other day, “It doesn’t matter when you get hip to good music, as long as you get hip to it.”

Project Leftover has too many good songs to post just one so I’m going to provide you with a link to their site so you can hear all the goodness for yourself.

RJBass

 

Esperanza

This woman I’ve been talking about (and listening to) damn near daily since I first heard her Music, roughly 2 1/2 years ago. She’s an unbelievable Bass player, singer and the youngest person to ever teach at Berklee College of Music (I’m going to take classes there if it kills me!).

She recently won the Grammy for Best New Artist which made a whole lot of Bass players and Music lovers happy, while at the same time pissing off some Music fans that felt “their” artist should have won (sorry folks, I thought it was a no-brainer). Some folks were pissed off to the point where…well, no sense in repeating the foolishness that took place on the various social networks.

Oh yeah, her name: Esperanza Spalding.

Shortly after the Grammy win, she came to Japan to perform at Blue Note Tokyo. I caught her very last show and loved every minute of it. Myself and my favorite Flamenco dancer (aka Lady J.) sat 2 tables away from the stage (about 2 meters or 9 feet). I had a goofy, Kool-Aid smile on my face the whole time. Esperanza on Bass (and vocals)..Terri Lynn Carrington on drums..one of the best rhythm sections ever – not one of the best female rhythm section but best, period. Leo Genovese on piano, 2 violins, 1 viola, and backup singer…man, that show was perfect.

Here’s a video of Esperanza talking briefly about playing as child  and how the critics actually help her to stay true to herself and do what she loves.

Always humble.
Always professional.
Esperanza.

RJBass

Octopus Jones – Sushi

People that know me know that I LOVE to seafood (I actually switched over to a Pescetarian lifestyle almost 1 year ago). Grilled, fried, raw, I love it all…especially sushi! I also love Music that’s really creative and that you can’t just throw into one category. When I first heard the title of this release and then listened to a couple of tracks, I felt like,  ”Man oh man, they made this joint especially for me!”

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Octopus Jones makes really cool and creative Music that I think you should check out.

Here are couple of tracks that I’ve played so much in the past 2 weeks that I thought the mp3s were going to stop working.

Peter Pan

 

Blue Waffle

 

You can hear more (and buy) by clicking here.

RJBass aka The Funky Pescetarian

Prosthetik Intelligentz

Out in the Twitterverse there’s something called “Follow Friday” (#FF). The way it works is, a Twitter connect will make a suggestion on someone you should “follow”…for one reason or another. Of course in my case, the reason is always the same: Music. There are some people in my camp that I ALWAYS listen to (much love to JillzWorth and ShadeCobain!) because I know I’m going to be blessed with some Musical goodness. Here’s some that I was blessed with just 3.5 hours ago.

Candice by Prosthetik Intelligentz (Prod. By Dj Fredyblast)

 

When I first heard “Candice” I was a bit upset. The reason being…it’s too damn short! I actually told Mindmissiles (who makes up 1/3 of the group) about how I need this track to be about 3 minutes longer. (I was serious man! ha!) Fortunately, they do have other tracks that are longer…all of which I’ve been playing over and over throughout the morning. Yeah, you will be hearing more from me about this group.

You can also check them out by visiting –> Prosthetik Intelligentz

RJBass

2Mixdown Madison Ave in Sepia by Fathom 9

Here’s one that has been getting heavy play in my iPod (and at the crib) since I first heard it a few weeks ago. “2Mixdown Madison Ave in Sepia” was put together by Memphis Beat Maker / Producer Fathom 9.

 

I first heard Fathom 9′s Music about a month ago (thank you JillzWorth!) and have been digging everything he puts out. I have no idea when this guy sleeps as he’s always pumping out new Music. I’ll definitely be posting more from Fathom 9 so please stay tuned.

If you don’t want to wait for me to update ya, please check out Fathom 9′s his Bandcamp page by clicking here.

Peace.

RJ Bass

De La Soul!!!

I found out this morning that one of my favorite Hip-Hop groups of all time De La Soul will be dropping a new album and I cannot wait!

De La Soul is actually the first Hip-Hop group I ever saw perform on stage. Detroit, Joe Louis Arena…way back in 1990 (I am officially a Hip-Hop old head).

Me and a couple of friends hit their show at Billboard Tokyo about 1 year ago. During that Tokyo show I lost my voice just like I did at the Detroit concert (pretty sure I was the loudest person at Billboard).

Another similarity was the feeling that I had. Even though they were held about 20 years apart, I said the same thing after each show, “This is Hip-Hop!”

There’s no release date for th new Art Official Intelligence (Part Three) joint but I can guarantee you I’ll be pre-ordering.

You can read a bit more about the upcoming release and tour (Japan please!) here.

Also, here’s a little something to get you ready for that weekend. Peace.

RJBass

Detroit Genius, J. Dilla

The month of February is of course Black History Month but in the Hip-Hop community it’s also known as Dilla Month in honor of the legendary DJ /Producer / Musician James Dewitt Yancey better known as J. Dilla or Jay Dee. (Please see my “This One Is For Dilla” post from a few months ago.) Dilla passed away 5 years ago and would have been 37 this month.

To help ensure that his legacy never fades Director B. Kyle has put together a fantastic piece of work called “J. Dilla: Still Shining.”  The video features interviews with Jay-Dee as well as him performing and in “The Lab”, doing what he did best which was create magic. There are also interviews with many DJs, Hip-Hop artists, Musicians, Singers and his mother Maureen Yancey aka “Ma Dukes.”

As I watched this with my girl we were both brought to tears. To see someone that was so passionate about making Music and sharing it with people, no matter his health  or any other obstacles he faced, it was definitely…moving.

The way Dilla’s peers and fans talk about him reminds me of how some talk about Prince, Stevie Wonder or even the late, great Bassist Jaco Pastorius as there is one word that is often said: Genius.

To Detroit’s own James Dilla Yancey, in my mind, you were Hip-Hop’s Golden Boy and Hip-Hop…hell, Music in general needs you. It’s a shame that the  ”industry” heads  didn’t recognize you for the genius you were while you were here…but then again, you didn’t care about that (F***k the Grammys!). You just loved Music and wanted to share your gift with the World…for that, we thank you. You have influenced so many and your Music and name lives on. You are “Still Shining.”

You can view the entire J. Dilla “Still Shining” video below.

RJBass

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