Washington, DC-based record label Peoples Potential Unlimited has spent the last few years blessing vinyl collectors with limited run 12-inch and 45 reissues. The label specializes in rare boogie-funk, digging up forgotten dancefloor gems laden with heavy 1980s synthesizer sounds. Most of these records never made it far from the artists' hometown, and surviving copies of the originals sell regularly above the one-hundred dollar mark and beyond. Fortunately for the vinyl addict on a budget, PPU chose earlier this year to bring us Geno Jordan's 1982 vocoder jam, "You're a Peachtree Freak on Peachtree Street." The cut was originally released on Atlanta's now-defunct Velvetone Records, and the reissue contains a previously unreleased version as well as two new edits. [Click link for sample.]
An old-school playa from way back, R&B/funk legend Charlie Wilson is the first to admit that his current success is sweeter than the late-'70s/early-'80s boom period he experienced with the Gap Band. In the past year, Kanye West joined a running list of contemporary collaborators (Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly) who've asked Wilson to bless their tracks with his smooth vocals, making him relevant to a generation prone to think funk was invented by Dr. Dre. Silly rabbits.
When we talked in anticipation of his two-night stop in Atlanta for New Year's weekend, Wilson revealed some little known facts about what it's like to record with Kanye West, discussed his long battle with drug addiction and how it almost kept him from making a comeback, and reminisced over the time he almost got to record with Tupac shortly before the rapper's death.
Charlie Wilson performs with Kem. 8 p.m. Fri., Dec. 30 (SOLD OUT). 7 p.m. Sun., Jan. 1. $60-$100. Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Ave. 404-523-6275. www.atlantaciviccenter.com.
You’d already become relevant to a whole new generation through your work with Snoop Dogg and R. Kelly. But were you surprised when Kanye reached out to work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the Good Friday releases last year?
You know, it was supposed to have been a Young Jeezy project [but] when I got [to the studio], nobody had alerted us that it had been postponed or canceled. So my manager finally got the label [Def Jam] on the line and said, “Hey man, what’s up with that? Charlie traveled a long way. And they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, somebody missed the flight with the files.”
Three days later, I got another call: “Can Charlie come back to L.A.?” And I was like, I don’t think so. And they said this one’s for Kanye. So my manager called and asked me did I want to do another session. And I said, “Another postponed session? Another canceled session? What kind of session you talking about?” And he said, “Well this one’s for Kanye.” And I said, well for Kanye I’ll come down there. Cause I know Kanye’s got a track record for showing up. Not that Jeezy doesn’t, you know….
I got there maybe 45 minutes before I was supposed to be there. So I went to the control room and tapped the engineer on the shoulder and said, ‘So where’s my boy, Kanye?’ And he tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around, and he was already there. Like, wow you’re early man. He’s like, “Man I’m always early. This is music.”
He said, “I got this idea,” and he pulled up the music. It was “All of the Lights.” So I just started singing on that, and then he turned on another one, and then another one. He kept saying, “I got this idea.” I was supposed to be doing one song, ended up doing like four, till I got hoarse on the fourth one.
As he was walking me to my car, we were talking and I said, “So since I’m hoarse, man, can we do a day two? He said, “Yeah, yeah! Day two for real? Aww man, that’s great if we can do a day two.” So two ended up being three, four, five, six, seven, eight. He flew me out to New York and we just went crazy. I sung on like 14 songs; I don’t know what he was cutting them for….
What's the vibe like in the studio with Kanye compared to when you’re there for your solo recordings?
I know, I know, you're saying: "Another year-end list?" To which I respond: "Yes."
As years in music go, 2011 was a beaut. Underground hip-hop blew up the blogosphere with hundreds of stellar self-released mixtapes that seemed to render rap's reigning kings all but irrelevant by comparison. (Atlanta's own most anticipated commercial release of the year? It barely made it out by December and sounded a little like a white flag.) Meanwhile, the chillwave craze thankfully died out fast, but not before leaving an appreciable mark on rap and R&B, not to mention the much-needed stir it caused in the bored indie culture from whence it came. And even the mainstream got in on the creative explosion, its centerpieces sporting names like Adele, not Britney.
The year saw eagerly awaited studio releases that exceeded their billing (Kate Bush!), swift flashes of unexpected brilliance (James Blake) and fresh-faced outings from reliable standbys (too many to name just one). As far as bloated, insufferable messes go, it offered only a merciful few, the now infamous Metallica/Lou Reed collab Lulu at the front of the line. It was, overall, a very good year for music, one whose mark on our culture, I dare say, will not be an insignificant one.
So, yes, another list, because I can. Below, check my top 10 albums of 2011 with descriptors of each. Also, a (thankfully short) list of 2011's major disappointments as I saw 'em.
>> Lenny Kravitz is tired of having crazy wild sex with super models all day long, ladies.
>> So wise, Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
>> T-Swiffer has the cutest lil' kitteh EVA, u geyz!
>> "Bad Bad Bad" is the new new from Heems.
>> Another Carrie Brownstein profile? YUP.
>> Stereogum includes Robyn's tragic lip-stynking SNL performances in their list of Best Late Night TV Performances Of 2011.
>> Writings, recordings and artwork by the late great folk singer Woody Guthrie to go on display.
>> KOL rocker and Victoria's Secret model following the "Time To Pretend" playbook.
>> 20 years later, an insightful look back at U2's Achtung Baby.
>> Red Hot Chili Peppers to play Russian billionaire's private New Year's Eve party in St. Barts.
When it comes to the musical worlds of soul, R&B and the like, there's a handful of artists that singers should never try to cover. Luther Vandross is one. Donny Hathaway is another. In addition to those two guys, it's typically a good idea to stay the hell away from remaking Michael Jackson tunes ... well, except for in the case of the recently released remake by singer ReneeDion and producer TallBlackGuy.
Atlanta's own DJ Larmarrous hipped me to this track, which re-imagines the MJ classic "Thriller" as a smooth, soulful, vibey joint.
And with Dr. Conrad Murray's guilty verdict coming down this year, putting closure on Jackson's death once and for all, it seems fitting to end 2011 by grooving to this. Enjoy.
... Word on the street is that this show will probably sell out tonight. So if you're planning on buying tickets at the box office, you might want to get a jump on it.
$20. 8 p.m. The Buckhead Theatre, 3110 Roswell Rd. 404-the-BUCK.
If you're still in #SMH mode over the recent news that Atlanta rapper Slim Dunkin reportedly died over a piece of candy, here's something specifically packaged to incite more head bobbing.
Of course, the post-mortem release is as timeless as Tupac Shakur. But because Dunkin was still an unsigned artist and second-tier soldier on the come-up, this mixtape tribute isn't a full-blown release as much as it is a streetside liquor-pouring session. The Dunkumentary is chock full of mostly pre-released material featuring Slim Dunkin alongside compadres-in-rhyme, Waka Flocka and Gucci Mane, in addition to appearances from Rocko, Roscoe Dash, Alley Boy, Trouble, and more. It comes courtesy Traps-N-Trunks and Ms. Rivercity — the Ozone magazine writer/publicist whose 2010 interview footage with Dunkin eerily foreshadowed his senseless death.
The mixtape's intro actually mixes Channel 2 news footage reporting on Dunkin's death with interview clips of him talking about his five-year plan for the future — if, he states, he doesn't end up dead first. It's equally odd listening to Dunkin rap about the live-fast-die-young lifestyle he represented on tape knowing that he tragically reaped it in the end. #RIP
Dunkin's suspected assailant surrendered to Atlanta police earlier this week.
Listen/download below the jump:
There was even a turntable set up for able-hands to scratch along with whoever was onstage performing, while a rotating cast of knob-twiddlers and button-mashers, including Time Wharp, Floyd da Locsmif, P Villa, Rekchampa and several others took turns throughout the night, mixing and nodding heads along to the rhythms. Not much of a show on stage, but a definite blast to the brain as a series of vague projections scurried across the back wall, adding yet another layer of texture to the experience.
Naturally, it was a cool, creative scene that was meant to foster an over-all experience and community situation. Ever heard of LA's Low End Theory club night? Left Field is sort of the same idea, and the next one is happening at 529 on Wed., Jan. 25. The lineup is still coming together, but heRobust, Ethereal and the Kill Fist are already on the schedule.
Follow the jump for more photos.
Well, 2011 is almost a wrap. And when it comes to Atlanta’s soul music scene, it’s safe to say it was a very good year.
Just think: In 2011, we were treated to lots of new music (like a new CD from singer Julie Dexter and two albums from Anthony David, among many others), great live shows (such as the Marvin Gaye Tribute show) and great nightlife events (Spread Love and almost anything at the Sound Table).
So, now that this year is nearly in the can, the question is: What does next year hold for local soul? To get answers, we turned to a gaggle of the city’s top singers, musicians, DJs, promoters and more — and they opined on what they want to see happen in Atlanta’s soul music scene in 2012.
Jamal Ahmad, radio personality/event promoter: "The Atlanta soul scene is one of the healthiest scenes on this planet. We have artists like Anthony David, Avery Sunshine, Julie Dexter, India.Arie and transplants like Raheem Devaughn and Musiq Soulchild. My only qualms with the scene are that: 1) we need to see younger artist keeping this music alive in their generation; 2) the output needs to always stand heads above what is coming out globally — therefore the songs, the sound, the production, need to be strong; and 3) we need more venues that support this music."
Jaya, booking agent GlobalMoods Entertainment: “What I would like to see in the ATL soul scene in 2012 and beyond is less industry politics and more support of quality indie and underground artists. Changing the atmosphere inside the clubs could and would change an entire society. Music influences people. Support quality music with quality messages. We are one.”
Ken Rye, executive producer, Hot Ice Live, an Atlanta-based entertainment company specializing in live global soul music: “For 2012, I'm looking for the continued Influence of local scene with more new attendees at shows and more artists coming out of this area on the national scene. Personally, I have enjoyed the collaborations between our Atlanta-based producers and internationally recognized talent showing that our folks match up along some of the best in the world. If we do a better job of doing this on more stages and via more interactive media, other markets and new audiences will have to give the market its proper respect.
"I tend to look at our business by our ability to attract new local demographics and the support we get from closely related industries like hospitality, tourism, film, advertising, etc. Artists like Anthony David, DJ Kemit, Avery Sunshine, and others are representing Atlanta on commercial radio and nightclubs all over the world right now. Producers like Jason Orr, Daz I-Kue, Mausiki Scales, Khari Simmons and others are increasingly being sought after for their influence on international music. Even as artists relocate to and from places like LA, D.C., the Bay, N.Y., Ghana, and the U.K., our channels stay open for fresh creativity, booking, and audience feedback. With that, 2012 is already offering some soulful promises for some solid, new, original music and exclusive collaborations that can only be produced out of a city like Atlanta.”
For his next single off of Strange Clouds, B.o.B enlists Andre 3000 for a showcase of lyricism and wit. It's been a long time coming as B.o.B has been compared to the eccentric half of OutKast since picking up an acoustic guitar and temporarily dropping his stage name for Bobby Ray. On the Salaam Remi-produced "Play the Guitar," the two ATLiens wax poetic about their prowess on the six-string and less atypical rapper stuff.
The hook contains a sample from T.I.'s verse on Drake's "Fancy": "If you ain't running shit/you can't even walk with us," B.o.B boasts. "Still, I'm chill/blunt wider than a coffee cup."
Three Stacks uses a rapid fire flow to bat clean up for Bobby Ray, as he imagines himself rapping on top of a Church's Chicken, addresses Internet rumors about his physical prowess, and still has time to inspire the kids to play an instrument as an outlet.
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