Another Thanksgiving Funk 45 mix!!!

Yes yes, this time by Brad Hales – founder/owner of Peoples Records store in Detroit. In this case though, the ONLY way you can get a copy at this moment is if you go to his record store and ask him for a copy. It’s a free CD-R, but he would like to hand it to you himself. Let me tell you though… it’s worth your time. Boy, is it!!!

Brad Hales is known worldwide for his record shop and the constant flow of quality music artifacts from the days of Motown. He DJs at the ever-popular Funk Nights in Detroit and at the Ann Arbor Soul Club. Actually, maybe you can get a copy of his mix if you attend one of his parties. Anything’s possible.

It should be posted publicly on a homey site soon, but I’d go today to the store if you can. I will tease you with a couple heaters from it:

Sorry if this does not show up for you, DivShare is being finicky today. Just click the link above.

My jam of the three is the Johnny Morrissette “I’m Hungry” track. I love irreverence and the lyrics definitely give me my fill of it. You can’t beat horn-driven funk with proper due to the drummer, so I know folks will love the Eddy Jacobs Exchange. The Hot Stuff record had a world feel to it, which intrigued me. I didn’t find much information on any of these, so if you have any – PLEASE SHARE!

I know this isn’t enough, especially for those that live nowhere near Detroit. Well, tough poop. You have to go to Brad’s shop at 3161 Woodward Ave; buy some records while you’re at it. They are all 20% off until the end of the year.

*sigh* Fine, leech! Brad also has a podcast. He archives raer Northern Soul that he sells and sometimes he throws up the occasional mix. Make sure you support your local record store.

Thanks For Giving… FUNK 45′s

Gambit and I go way back like babies with pacifiers. Well…maybe not that far back, but he’s a good friend that wanted me to post up a little funk compilation I put together. Being born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, having all my family in the Detroit area, and currently living in Washington D.C., I’ve come across many different 45’s from my travels and always like to share. Every time I come home for the holidays, I tend to round up the choice’est 45’s and record them for a friend…which Gambit got a recording of this past Thanksgiving and insisted on me making a post. Having no internet presence, I figured it was time to make my break.

Thus, I give you a mix of rare and not so rare, soul and funky, up-beat in your face and lyrical harmony…the Thanks For Giving…Funk 45’s compilation.

Thanks For Giving… Funk 45’s (Link will take you to the download)

Brothers Of Soul – I’d Be Grateful (Boo Records):

I typically don’t get too deep into soul, but this 45 had me groovin’. The Brothers Of Soul are a well documented group out of Detroit with the track ‘I’d Be Grateful’ highlighting the sweet yet funky sound of Motown.

Communicators & Black Experiences Band – Is It Funky Enough (Duplex Records):

There had to be something in the water when it comes to Carolina funk because many 45’s from that area have a distinct and unique sound, this one included. The off-beat drums, heavy bass, and ‘Is it funky enough?’ makes this a great funk tune.

Cummings Electric Sounds – Electric Sounds (Twin’s Records):

This 45 comes from a friend a mine here in D.C. that came across a bunch. Supposedly, they were never released, so I felt it was time for this record to shine and get some playing time.

James Brown Plays & Directs – The Popcorn (King):

No matter where you go looking for funk 45’s, sooner or later you’re bound to come across some James Brown. This 45, however, eluded me for quite some time until I came across two copies in 2 weeks! It was a toss up as to which side to include on the compilation being that both sides are bonkers and guaranteed booty-shakin’ madness.

Jesse Fischer – Super Funky (Way Out):

I copped this 45 when I was living back in Michigan, taking random trips to visit friends in Ohio and searching for records. The Way Out label has the distinct two-color spiral label art which is synonymous with many Ohio soul and funk records. The singing soul, yet aggressive style that Jesse Fischer produces makes this a nice piece of ear candy.

Lloyd Price – Bad Conditions (Lloyd Price’s Turntable):

Listening to this 45 just makes me think of how history repeats itself. Many of the issues of war, drugs, and education, that Lloyd Price brings up in this track are still the same issues that concern our society today. The eerie organ intro catches your attention and reminds me of some primitive Sputnik satellite communications.

Lou Courtney – Hey Joyce (Pop-Side):

Flipping through a stack of 45’s on a house call and coming across this had me thinking of some Ohio soul because of the spiral label (as mentioned above), but when I took a closer look, I knew I had come across a 45 that makes the beat-diggers salivate. ‘Hey Joyce’ is not only a great funk track, but opens and contains a ridiculous drum break which producers and listeners alike can get down to. This 45 has gained steam from features in DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s Brainfreeze mix and continues to be a crowd pleaser.

Mickey & Ernie – Soul’in (Till The Sun Rise) (Hot Line Music Journal):

Grand Rapids, Michigan… This place never ceases to amaze me when it comes to funk 45’s. Not only is it where I am from, but this place has produced some serious heat when it comes to the obscure realm of funk music. I had been after this 45 for years and it’s one that is slept on. The label art is one of my favorites and coincidentally happens to be the same label as one, Al Greene, or more commonly known as, Al Green, before he became a hit success.

Rudy Robinson & The Hungry Five – The Real Deal (Enterprise):

I am forever grateful to a fellow Detroit digger who handed me this 45 while we were talking about music in a store one day. Up-beat funkiness definitely made this a keeper.

Sir Joe and Free Soul – (I’ve Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind (Part I) (Mantis):

Having moved to Washington D.C., the Sir Joe Quarterman funk record was on my radar having known about it for quite some time. My luck has it, I’ve never came across the actual LP, but within the first week here, came across both pressing of the hit single on the Mantis label (red and blue) before he signed with GSF.

The Adventurers – Easy Baby (Compass):

A Motown-sounding northern soul dance floor burner! The Adventurers recorded one album for Columbia with a couple soul 45’s on independent labels including this one.

The Capprells with The Sul Brothers Band – Close Your Eyes (Bano):

The Capprells 45 is one of those 45’s that I’ve heard at almost any funk night I head out to. I kept putting it in my mind to get a copy but always used the ‘yeah…maybe later…’ logic. I finally nabbed one and couldnt be happier. A crowd pleaser with an upbeat harmonized funky sound which shouldn’t be slept on.

The Young Senators – Jungle (Innovation Records):

I almost did not include this 45 in the set being that it is a bit beat up and I had just found it days before recording the set. This is one of two 45’s from this D.C. band, the other of which was featured on Dante Carfagna’s legendary ‘Chains & Black Exhaust’ mix.

Three Rivers Blues Band – Ophelia (Lion Records):

This is a 45 that I can’t find much info on other than the band was white. This track is definitely funky and definitely a well put together sound.

Overdue Homey Feature: DJ House Shoes

I have been focusing on myself lately, trying to get ready for the “new me” in the new year of two thousand nine. In the last week or so, I have been getting some AWESOME music from respected DJ friends of mine. I figure this week I should give them their propers (read: proper respects) and do some features on them, because these guys are not just excellent tastemakers and music selectors but they are beatdiggin’ behemoths too. You’ll come to understand as the posts drop.

Now these features are not being done in any hierarchical order. I am doing them based on when I got the music, so with that said… let’s get to it!

First, I want to highlight a new mix in store for the masses called The King James Version.

It is a mix of original tracks used by James “Jay Dee –> J Dilla” Yancey to make his beats. The mix was created by none other than Detroit’s worldwide hip hop ambassador – DJ House Shoes.

If you do not know about Shoes yet, then see this as a quick introduction to him. House Shoes has a lot of claims to his fame. He was responsible for releasing the highly sought-after Jay Dee Unreleased EP and the classic “Dedication to the Suckers” 12″ by Phat Kat – both on House Shoes Records. Back when being a DJ really meant something, House Shoes had the distinction of breaking many of the notable Detroit hip hop artists you may know today. He produced tracks for a young eLZhi and a drunken Irishmen named Paradime. Honestly, if Shoes had equity in the house he built for Detroit hip hop, he would be able to buy the Renaissance Center off of General Motors right now. Alas, my friend has to grind just like the rest of us; good thing he’s a talented bloke!

The King James Version… man, I just finished listening to it and I stay amazed by the diversity in Dilla’s sample selection. He IS the vanguard when it comes to finding the perfect sound to evoke an emotion in hip hop production. There is no doubt about it. And like my man House Shoes probably would proffer if you would want to disagree, you can get punched in the face for being an idiot. I do not really condone violence though. I just want you to understand how serious Dilla’s work really was.

In the capacity that I have the mix, I know that the mix was recorded at Rhettmatic of World Famous Beat Junkies’ place. All the songs are recorded from vinyl – no MP3 stuff – so before you jump and try to compile your own mix, forget about it. You just cannot possibly have the collection. House Shoes is showing off in a major way. That is not to say all the records are rare or you cannot get them, but you first must find the samples first. Then the time and money it would take to procure many of these pieces would take YEARS. For Shoes, about half of these were his own finds. A huge grip came from the GOAT himself and the rest of the spotted samples were from others, but House Shoes owns all the records.

In the mix, you will find my personal contribution to Dilla’s sample discography, Neil Innes & Son “Cum on Feel the Noize,” from Morgan Fisher’s Miniatures which I hipped Shoes to a couple years back after Dilla died. Also you will hear tracks by Gap Mangione and a slew of others like The Cyrkle that you could do your life some good knowing about:

I am going to end this with a track produced by House Shoes with the most recent eMCee from Detroit that he co-signed for – Danny Brown.

Repairing The Detroit Brand

I was recently thinking about my hometown and its subzero brand equity. Throughout my entire life, I have had a love/hate relationship with the city of Detroit. I recall my first trip overseas (shout out to Toyota-Shi/Toyota City, JAPAN) and being shocked how different Detroit was from the rest of the world. Mind you, I was 15 at the time and I was not as worldly as I am now.
I saw big city streets that were fairly clean. There was no assortment of ragamuffin types accenting the litter on the street corners. For the first time in my life, I witnessed an environment that I felt completely safe, which was so weird that I eventually became paranoid of it being “too perfect.” LOL I mean, this country had arcades you could hang out in at 11:00pm with no security on the premises [IN A MAJOR CITY]. There had to be something wrong with the place, right?
I remember never wanting to leave Japan; even though, I eventually felt like too much of an oddball there. Homogenized societies are kind of freaky to a person from an area that houses several different ethnic groups in it, regardless of the fact that they self-segregate themselves.
Anyway, initial impressions go a long way though. At that time in 1995, I could not imagine anyone having any bad words to say about Japan that would prevent one from visiting. I still long to go back, but only to visit. I love where I am from now. It took a while to get there though. I can thank four years in East Lansing, Michigan for that (Go State!). I just wish I could be completely proud of my hometown whenever I take trips elswhere.

Now I do not expect Detroit to be like Tokyo, London, NYC or L.A. Heck, Detroit’s not built to be as spectacular as Chicago. Urban planning is not Detroit’s claim to fame. Although, Detroit is making great strides to be a nicer city to live, it still has a long way to go.
This may seem like a personal problem, but The D is not one of the special places that Americans are interested in visiting. When you note that we have a history that folks from the major cities wish they had and we have a local pride like no other, I do not think I should ever hear people saying how they would NEVER come here. I can only attribute that to Detroit’s everlasting bad reputation.

The thing is, people do know the good things about Detroit, but they are far more familiar with the bad parts. It is the weaknesses in the city’s infrastructure, high crime rate and our sport team that the average person likens to Detroit, Michigan.

I give all this backstory to get at the point that we all should become more mindful of our brand(s). I have had the wonderful happenstance to realize my calling in terms of marketing and public relations. In the last couple of months, I have been reading all I can about the latest and greatest in marketing strategies and trying to figure out how I can apply them to layman cases that I am privy to every day. In the midst of my studies, I have been reading a lot about branding. I recently attended Podcamp Michigan and a gentleman by the name of Hajj Flemings did a presention on Personal Branding. It sort of set the stage of my recent transition to utilizing my strengths to pursue career efforts that are actually of interest to me.

When I think of brands now, I think of how it affects an entity’s ability to do business. I think of how Detroit is losing more and more in new industry possibilities every time a related party lands a negative story on the national news channels (ie, former mayor, Big 3).
I cannot help but feel that if Detroiters took a greater interest in making sure they protected their brand that we may not be in the position that we are in today. It is bewildering – at least to me – that I do not feel as confident to say that I am from Detroit anymore. I reluctantly wrote this piece, feeling that I probably lost 50% of my readers by just talking about Motown. At the same time, I know what Detroit is made of and that keeps me upbeat. We are still contributing great things when it comes to arts and culture, but until we can get a grip on the negative things being reported we will continue to be overlooked.

If legendary producer James “Jay Dee/J Dilla” Yancey was from California or New York, there is no doubt in my mind that all of his musical efforts would be lauded as classics on a mainstream level. States like California and New York have tremendous branding power and when they make noise, people listen. That just isn’t the same for states in the Midwest.

It behooves one to think about everything that makes up their own personal brand. From the clothes you wear to the words you speak, you are being judged at every moment. Where you come from is just another element in establishing who/what you are. If there is anything less than stellar about you, people are going to remember that and then probably not want to deal with you or even worse – forget about you. You have to deal with that and figure out how to somehow repair the issue or deal with it face first. In some cases, it may just be as simple as embracing your weakness to show that you are not perfect to help bolster your image. Detroit, for example, could help itself by being humble and taking responsibility for its own existence. For having such great people come out of its ranks, it does no good to try to brag about it. No one likes the boastful guy; no one likes a sore loser either. Besides, there is just too much negative being disseminated worldwide to even try to spin a contrary message.

Detroit’s strength is in its people, who provide a bright light to a dim place. That alone should be motivating enough to understanding that the bright lights are to be supported if we all want to shine. We owe it to the Motown, the J Dillas, the Eminems, The White Stripes and so forth to better our collective situation. These folks help us look good. We need to figure out how to eliminate the weak areas. If this monster of weakness could be conquered, then I know Detroit would be on the fast track to greatness… where it rightfully belongs.

If you took the time to read all this, then I am interested in what you think. Where do you think we need to start in repairing Detroit’s brand? Please leave a comment!