Wednesday, July 29, 2009


On behalf of The Root Down which is, essentially, just me, I present to you MUSIC FOR CONQUERING GALAXIES AND INTERGALACTIC LAMPIN'. I was speaking with Brian tonight about the mix and, I have to say that, contextually, it's probably one of my most accomplished. It's amazing what the creative mind can do when you just give it a concept to work with and say go. I mean, I won't profess it to be the greatest single piece of music ever assembled, but it all just started by a daydream and that daydream became a daily fascination became a few sleepless nights became a few extended "search sessions" became gazing at Youtube videos of Sun Ra became total obsession. If you know me, though, now that it's done, I'm really done too with space altogether. That obsession really only lasts as long as it takes for me to put this together. No, I don't want to talk Pluto with you. And yes, this is a total cosmic coincidence with the 40th anniversary of us landing on the moon.

The mix started out as a concept. Like if I had a spaceship and I was cruising the galaxy, what would I listen to. I mean, all the millions of dollars invested in those shuttles, they got a stereo system right? I'd be jamming some Parliament, f'real. Beasties. Hell, I'd jam me some "Electric Avenue." You bet. I had to pull back on the Eddy Grant, but Parliament and Beasties, yeah, they're here. It's almost like's in there. It runs the gammut, but some of the most obvious stuff, I just had to avoid. No, it doesn't have "Space Oddity" by Bowie. It doesn't have "Space Cowboy" either. There's an earthly radio station begging for your listenership so they can sell you earthly products to waste on your earthly existence. We're heading upwards, homie.

Beatles, Black Sabbath, M/A/R/R/S/, Kool and the Gang, Parliament, Funkadelic, X-Clan, Cut Chemist, Digable Planets, Beach Boys, Shapeshifters (yep), Slug from Atmosphere and Murs (forming together "Felt"), Kool Keith, David Bowie (but not your "Ground control to Major Tom" garbage), Shatner, El-P, TV on the Radio, etc. etc. etc. We brought in Bambaataa too, but asked for permission to give him a little revisit. Not that I don't like "Planet Rock," but I just took some liberties.

I could do another whole mix too because just on the way home tonight, I thought of about fifteen no-brainers that I could've slotted in if I wanted to make this a four-hour mix. This one comes in just over two hours--the length of, say, "Close Encounters" or "Starman."

I've always had a secret fascination, though, with the cosmos. I mean, you think about how short your block is when you walk to park down the street. You think about how small America is when you hit the ocean. Can you imagine leaving this planet and seeing nothing but black in every direction and knowing that, as far as you know, it goes on forever? I mean, forever? That's how vast the universe is and when you get to the end of the universe, what's beyond that? Is it like Truman Show when you just hit a wall? How incredible is God's insane creation? I included the masterful work by Carl Sagan. While I don't necessarily agree with his ideology, his work entitled "Pale Blue Dot" is an incredible work. It describes how this photograph taking from millions and millions of miles away in space illustrates Earth as a tiny speck amongst the vastness of the universe it sits in. It's a beautifully written piece that perfectly communicates the tiny world in which we live. It's rare you get that kinda view.

During the course of time I was working on this mix, really the last ten days, I found myself looking upwards to the moon and thinking how much I really take for granted. You never think about the moon or the stars or the sun. They're just there. Trust me, when you're running directly into the sun at 6:00PM, it's really there. But to think that as hot as that sucka is where we are, we're 91 million miles from that dude. Imagine what 40 million miles away feels like. 20 million miles away must be like hell. It must melt skin at 20 million miles away. I'd be outside and I'd just look up at the moon during the daytime and you think about how incredibly distant that moon is. It's always there, just hung up in the sky looking down on you. I'm trying to run 26 miles and can barely make three right now. That moon is close to 240,000 miles from where I sit tonight. How in the hell did our space program land an object on that thing? Imagine being the first dude to say, "Screw it, I'm gonna travel to that thing." We just don't marvel anymore. It's takes too freaking much to amaze us anymore.

Back to the mix. Imagine if you will, you're heading out at a speed that basically takes you to Pluto and back in two hours. That's fast as hell. We're talking light speed. You go out and, about half way through, you round Pluto. That's a lonely place out there. Then you make your pass again at Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Mars (not necessarily in that order). I desperately wanted to do the mix in the style of Holst's Planets, but determined that being a sane and married man, that was entirely too much time spent in my own imagination. Eventually, I gotta go to work, right?

I see how sci-fi writers go so weird now, though. I mean, you can truly drown in how vast all of this is. It's easier to think about your little plot of land, on your little block, in your little city, in your little state or territory, in your little country, on your little continent on your little blue planet in your perceivably small little galaxy. Ah, on the fiftieth minute right now. Vanglorious. A little X-Clan.

Not often you get this much dope all in one place. Aight, I'll hit you up with the tracklisting:

Dennis Wilson "Farewell My Friend"
Pink Floyd "Fearless"
Parliament "Ride On"
M/A/R/R/S "Pump Up the Volume"
Beastie Boys "Intergalactic (and Damn Krispy Too! Mix)"
Cecil Holmes "2001"
Edan "Making Planets" (w/ Mr. Lif)
Mr. Dibbs "Live at Ulitmate Beats and Breaks 2" (segment)
Galactic Force Band "Space Dust"
Galt MacDermot "Space"
Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force "Planet Rock (Root Down Got You All in Check Mix)"
Gary Bartz "Celestial Blues"
TV on the Radio "Staring at the Sun" (intro)
El-P "Constellation (Heavenly Bodies)"
Beach Boys "Gettin' Hungry"
David Bowie "Starman"
X-Clan "Cosmic Ark"
Beatles "Flying"
William Shatner "Rocket Man"
(rounding Pluto and setting sights Earth-bound)
Dexter Wansel "Theme From the Planets"
Mandrill "Universal Rhythms"/"The Children of the Sun"
Capleton "Wings of the Morning"
Mystic Moods "Cosmic Sea"
Cut Chemist "Storm" (w/ Edan and Mr. Lif)
Funkadelic "Cosmic Slop"
Sun Ra "We Travel the Spaceways"/"Celestial Road"
Shapeshifters "Who Gots Presence?"
Jack Nitzsche "Starman Main Theme"
Felt "My Alien Girlfriend"
Black Sabbath "Planet Caravan"
Outkast "Extra-terrestial"
David Matthews "Star Wars"
DJ Spooky "Object Unknown" (w/ Kool Keith and Sir Menelik)
Kid Koala "Space Cadet 2"
Digable Planets "Time and Space"
X-Clan "Earth Bound"

Man's obsession with space travel has been well-documented. Music's obsession with the universe probably lesser, but here's your crash course. If you ever win your trip to space in the year 2030 when they're giving them out like Carnival cruises, make sure you load this little mix into the chip that you put into your head and surrounds you with sounds that aliens could never even recognize as music. Click here to get in touch with your intergalaxy. Or just the cover art above.

Monday, July 20, 2009


The other day, when I was on the way home from work, I was thinking about a new mix. I'm supposed to be working on a mix for Bryan's party, but I'm kinda cheating on those efforts right now. I became transfixed on the idea of doing a "space" mix. Kinda like a mixtape for intergalactic explorations. Fitting that as I just looked at the television screen, Buzz Aldrin is talking about "there's still places to go that are beyond our belief." Of course, you give me a theme, I'm gonna obsess about it. And I did. The song titles flowed forth. It started taking shape even before I began. Sure, it'd be easy to do "Space Oddity" and "Space Cowboy," but I never want just regurgitate expectation. I wanted to go beyond that. I wanted to pull in things that, contextually, made sense. Not just lyrically.

I'm about 40 minutes in right now. In just the first three songs, you got a Beach Boy, Floyd, Parliament and Sun Ra. Last night I remixed the Beasties and threw that in there too. Bryan, this might be your party mix. The Party of a Million Pretentions might have to come later.

I spent some time gathering material for the mix yesterday and found some great Sun Ra material. Dude was truly on another planet. Like, you'll hear about Outkast thinking they're from another planet, but that's just the same thing that George Clinton was always talking about. Sun Ra was from another planet. Dude just wasn't quite earthly. Check out this awesomeness.

I mean, this dude was on some Heaven's Gate tip. It reminded me of the clip from Scratch in which Mix Master Mike and Q-Bert talk about a DJ's ability, through scratching, to communicate with the unknown. It was then that I knew I had to do it. During a walk, my lovely wife asked, "How many songs are really about space?" as to suggest that I wouldn't have enough for a mix. "Oh, tons," I responded. It just starts at "Space Cowboy." Music's obsession with space has been evident for years. You should hear the mountain of funk I sorted through from the early 70s that romanticizes leaving earth and soaring through the universe. Hell, that's what Parliament/Funkadelic's entire catalog dwells on and that's just scratching the surface. And wait until you hear the Shatner cover of "Rocket Man" and the ill "2001" cover I had around here. You're face is about to melt off.

I got a message from a Beatle fan about the Beatlemania mix that was very complimentary. It just got me thinking about how you kinda throw yourself out there to a certain crowd when you do a mix focused like that. I mean, I'm not the world's biggest Beatle fan, but I suppose I'm privy to the millions of Beatle fans out there that I potentially speaking to with a mix like that. Then I'm getting an email from a cat I don't even know about a mix in which I'm clueless how he found it. It's probably a bit of a letdown that I can't share a story about Beatle fandom. I mean, I like Abbey Road and the White Album, but I don't have Beatle salt and pepper shakers. I don't have a signed lithograph from Paul McCartney. I've never met Ringo. In fact, I'll go even further to say that I hate their pre-Rubber Soul material. I'm just not that big of a fan.

No telling what sort of souls I'll catch the ears of with a mix of "space" material. I'll just go ahead and tell everyone who might be reading this that I haven't even seen all of the new Star Wars episodes, I could give a damn about Star Trek and I think Battlestar Galactica is for dweebs. Sorry, Jacko. That being said, this mix comes from the same October Sky, boyish curiosity. It is, though, at the very heart of it, just the flavor of the month. I'll be onto something else three weeks from now. These fixations never last long. I gotta freaking marathon I'm training for.

Speaking of, Koolz and I hit our first three miles together. In fact, we busted out 3.15 miles with the last .15 miles coming in a sprint. It felt fantastic. Now we must replicate that success every time we go out. We do that for a month and then we start stepping it up the distance from there.

Keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars, gangsta.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Sorry it's been a full week since I've blown up this piece. Long week. They're all long weeks when you're trying to train for a marathon. I've just found that to be a truth. No steady three yet, but officially had my worst three jogs this last week. Brutal. It's gotta go up sometime. I'm confident my body can do it. Not sure what fantastic delusion allows me to believe that, but I do regardless. Went to Colorado for my cousin Maria's wedding. She married a cat named Tim and, yes, dude is not only smart he's cool. Or do you say that the other way. "He's not only cool, he's smart." He's both equally. And he's got decent taste in music. It's a prereq for this familia.

My lovely wife and I used the entire trip to discuss the ethics of graffiti and the health hazards from not wearing a mask (be safe kids). It was one of those discussions where the highway just brings forth such deep analysis of such a small segmented issue that we truly explore it to a satisfactory conclusion. I've determined that graffiti is okay if it's on train cars...still. I mean, really, are train cars good for anything else besides hauling crap? My lovely wife would disagree. One time I concluded that, in the end, our prisons are really just housing units for a lot of cats with early head injuries. Do the do, kid.

Traveled the first day to Denver where we chilled for a day before journeying further north to Ft. Collins which is officially the furthest north I've traveled in Colorado. It's damn-near Wyoming. Denver's ill, but there's some weird parts of it. Some parts of it are just like the Yellow: full of white trash in big trucks. Then there's the hippiecats who smell like stinky oils and put their hair in dreads. You know, the Marley type. There're the funky, progressive earthy folks who drink elk urine and can climb any tree in the neighborhood because they have monkey like feet from walking barefooted at an early age. There's the microbrew cats who drink beer like water and their beer gut starts from below their beltline and goes all the way up to their chin and it's normally covered in fur. They laugh loudly and talk alot about acoustic music. Ugh. I'm really just an observer. Someone's gotta be.

We hit up Twist and Shout and I managed, for the first time, to walk in and out of there without putting down a nickel. Solid selection, but just really didn't find anything that made me tickle the wallet. If I lived there, I would shop their habitually. Know this. Definitely worth the visit.

Denver was rated as the number one town that people in the United States want to live in. Not sure why, but that's an interesting claim. Meaning when people are asked where they would like to live other than where they currently do, they say, "Denver." I usually would answer that question with, "Fenway Park."

You know, I like Colorado, but I really like the mountains. I like the solitude. The city is just like the same suffocating metro feelings as Dallas except there's mountains to the west. On a cloudy day, you wouldn't know the difference. The mountains, though, that's the realness. I'd live there if it weren't for the Freedmen's Bureau and the fact that no one knows any good hip hop once you pass the first pine tree. Not sure why, culturally, hip hop has no place in the mountains. I know that I listened to De La Soul is Dead on the way up and it worked perfectly. Oh, on a non-related note but not really, I asked a kid at our record store down the block (that I work for) to look up "De La Soul" and he looked blankly at me and asked, "How do you spell that?" I just said slowly, "DE....LA........SOUL." It's the most I could do to keep me from taking a swipe at him.

Speaking of, 7/31 marks the date in the Getdown. I got my ticket. Do you? I mean, not only are you going to miss one helluva show, but you'll miss yours truly shaking his ass like James Brown for two hours straight. Worth the price of admission, easily. Plus, you get a De La Soul show out of it.
That's a half-pound burger with green chile strips, Bermuda onions and strips of bacon at the Cherry Cricket in Denver. In other words, it's your first meal as you pass the pearly gates.

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was in Denver. Near sundown, I turned the wheel towards Littleton to see if I could locate Columbine High School. Because I'm a news junkie (but I'm also a respectful news junkie), I felt that, after ten years, it was worth a visit. I think to myself that it's much like visiting the Grassy Knoll where Kennedy was assassinated. One of the darkest days in our history, but it was one of those extremely important days in our history. We searched that damned town for about 45 minutes until we found it. We filed into the adjacent park and saw a sign that said, "Columbine Memorial" and kept following signs to an incredible memorial in memory of those lost. It was really pretty awe-inspiring. Very humbling. It did, however, lead to the question of why weren't Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold remembered and how, as a society, we don't see them as victims worth remembering because they were the perps behind such a horrific act and how, really, aren't they the first victims in all of this? Dwell on that.

Next day, we head north to the fort of Collins and, this day, we were to do a little rafting with my other cousin Carrie. Carrie's an adventurous type. She climbs things, plays rugby, ain't scared of a little running water. It's just her nature. We met her new "friend" Eric. Fine fella except he's peculiarly a White Sox fan. Didn't know they existed. You learn something new everyday. We'll let it slide. He's a Chicago native so he can pick who he wants. If you're not from Chicago, you root for the Cubs.

I'll give you the abridged version of the rafting story to say that everything went as it would except that some lady got dumped out of the boat on one rapid and my lovely wife pulled her out of the water by the personal floatation device like freaking Rambo and saved this woman's life. Coolest thing that I've ever seen. She pitched herself on the edge of the boat, snagged her under the straps of her personal floatation device (they call them that because they didn't want "life jacket" to infer that it'll save your life--it really just makes you float) and then yanked out of the water like some superawesome baptism. The lady landed on my lovely wife with a thud and a grunt in the boat. My lovely wife was pinched underneath her in some weird pretzel configuration. That's just how they landed. Being the illest thing I've ever seen, I lift from my seat up front and instinctively tried to high-five my lovely wife immediately after as she was flattened by the weight of this woman laid out on top of her in the boat. My lovely wife just pushed out a "we're fine" and that was it. She doesn't like being the hero, but on The Root Down, she's as good as Charles Bronson.

Day of the wedding, my lovely wife and I decided we'd kill some time by visiting Odell Brewery there in Ft. Collins--apparently one of about six breweries--the biggest being New Belgium. Odell was a recommendation of Angry Tim. What I found was hop heaven. We walk in and I'm met with a six-beer sampler that was enjoyed by my lovely wife and I equally as one of those beautiful afternoon Rockies rain storms rolled in. They're IPA is the stinkiest bit of goodness that you'll find in a bottle. Just trust me on that.

We happily too the free tour and found my new calling. I'm gonna be a hop farmer. I'm gonna be a hop farmer and make me a lot of money because, my friend, people like beer. And even when the economy is crashing, they like beer. In fact, they like beer even more when the economy is crashing. It's a difficult crop, but if you partner up with a regional like Odell, you're golden.

The wedding was super nice. I got the best seat without having to be in it. Second row. It was a party. A nice warm Hammond B3 with a soul singer and decent drummer and guitarist. New Belgium wheat and some fancy hour'dourves from Malaysia. Danced to "My Cherie Amour" on the Hammond and, dude, I got me some Horace Silver even. Uncle Tony's a beast on that thing. We didn't get our deserved Outkast cover, though. I got a great family. I'm not going to lie.

Good to see my grandma. Cousin Krister. Cousin Gio. Cousin Angela. Aunt Pam. Aunt Karla. Missed the Aunt Madonna.

And we got Tim now. He's col' family. No turning back now. He's cool though. Smart too.

Listening to MF Doom on vinyl tonight wondering how I'm gonna start on Bryan's party mix. Well, I got the start done, but where do I go from there? People are just mad weird about their music sometimes. They don't know what they like, but then they'll be the first to critique when they hear something they don't like. I'm like that, "just tell me what you want" cat. But then they stand there with their thumb up their tail end. I'm doing what I want and you're going to have to just deal with it, homie.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Yesterday was the fifth official run. We took a different route. We jogged into Bivins. The route was a perfect three miles. To complete it successfully would be to achieve goal. While only once, it would still be achieved.

I found that Ice Cube is quite decent jogging music. I sample from all of his catalog from Amerikkka's Most Wanted to Lethal Injection. I think "When Will They Shoot?" easily gave me an additional quarter mile the other day when my body was starting to shut down on me. So, with Kool Aid and Ice Cube in tow, we took off into the 90-degree cool that blanketed the Yellow. I had a pretty good pace early, but as we turned the corner and hit the half-mile mark (yeah, half mile), I started to cramp up just below my belly. You know, those cramps that you used to get in grade school when playing kickball. Yeah, awesome stuff. I kept running hoping to deep-breathe through it. It's all I could do.

Then I lost my Ice Cube as my iPod lost it's charge. Logged into the journal: "Charge the iPod before running." So now I'm jogging to the harmonic sounds of a panting 32 year-old and the rhythm of feet painfully smacking on asphalt.

When we approached Georgia and the mile-mark, my calves started to flare up on me. I mean, it was a pain that was undescribable. It felt like someone was jamming an ice pick directly into each of my calves. Kools continued with very little sign of weakening, but meanwhile, I was getting what could only be described as "a painful crash course in running for a non-runner." Never yet had I felt so inadequate for this journey. I felt like I was at the starting point again. While approaching the two-mile mark, I simply stopped running. While I walked, my calves turned to a fiery inferno on both legs. They literally felt as if now the ice pick had been removed and then they were doused in lighter fluid and then set aflame.

Feeling fat. Feeling out of shape. Feeling low.

Kools continued down the block and left me behind and said he would come back. I told him that was fine with me. Actually, I didn't speak because I was breathing too hard. Why on earth could I not even do two miles today without almost collapsing? I walked for about a quarter mile and then just started again. For some reason, it felt better running than it did walking. At least it was a well-earned and honest pain when I ran. Feeling that pain when walking was just like your body laughing at you. Running and feeling the same pain was like you laughing back. We turned the corner to head back to the house and I began to block the pain and then went mentally jogging. My body was failing me at what was supposed to be close to a standard jog after two days of rest.

As we approached the interstate, my body stopped again. But this time, Kools wouldn't let me have it. He said, "C'mon. Finish strong." At this point, I felt like truly finishing strong was impossible, but finishing with dignity was still achievable. I came into a jog again and not only reached the finish point, but jogged past it, I suppose, just to prove that I could overcome it. I cussed the entire final fifth of a mile, but I did it.

And, about thirty minutes later, I found out what it means to "do it until it's running down your leg" except it didn't run down my leg.

Worst run yet. Figured they'd start getting easier before too long, but yesterday's jog was just embarrassing. I don't fall down that easy, though. It's gonna take much more than that to discourage me.

I don't have any neighbors to the north anymore. I really like that. Don't know how I'll get along without the late-night headlights through the bedroom window, cars parked in the lawn, a chihuahua that won't shut up, drug use in the backyard, underage drinking and the alcoholic that drinks there every other evening and keeps his own personal cooler in the car. Think I'll have a long talk with the property owner when he gets his ass up here from Dallas.

I got a copy of the Lions' No Generation from Allegro this week per request. I texted Sarah and Duke down in Austin. Duke replied with, "I think that's the one we picked up at the show. I don't remember, but I think I sold my soul for it. Would do it again." I'm enjoying it this morning. It's quite good. Surprised with how impressive the second side is. The first side rocks, the second rolls.

Bryan is leaving town for the Hub. Wants to throw a pretentious party to celebrate. Of course, that would have to be created because none of us seem to be truly pretentious. I could only last about five minutes. I'm working on the mix. More rock than I'm used to, but we're doing some funk, reggae, hip hop, sweaty soul music, some blues. We're running the gamut. The word "gamut" is the combination of the words "gamma" and "ut" which represents respectively the G of the bass clef and the highest E of the treble clef. You've been learned, homie. Bryan, I need a deadline if I'm going to finish this thing. And don't tell me you're throwing this gig the end of the month because that, of course, is De La Soul in Dallas and I will not compromise that engagement.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


I don't like getting political on the Root Down because I don't like putting readers in compromising or awkward positions (really, I don't), but July 4th is a rare day for me in which, annually, I'm hit with a reflective patriotism that, I'll be honest, I seldomly feel. It's that "purple mountain majesty" patriotism that makes me extremely thankful that I live in this country. Freedom, baseball, Rocky Road, tornados, democracy, the Ultramagnetic MCs, the Grand Canyon, the Boston Red Sox, Hemingway, Eastwood, New Balance, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, the right to assemble and worship in peace. It's a great country. Unmatched. But it's also the day that you get to see in full display people in their arrogance and ignorance as to the matters of the world and in their own community. We're a nation divided far more than in halves. We're bitter, hardened, impoverished, defeated, depressed and confused. We're struck into fearful action by our own news organizations who hawk fear in the name of advertising revenues. We've lost that ability to dance and play. We're skeptical. We're afraid someone is going to give us the flu that'll kill us or someone has a bomb ready to detonate in their shoe. We feel it's necessary to jam our country down the throats of others in vengeance of horrible tragedy. We can't admit defeat. We can't give up. Even if it means the battle turns the country on itself.

And, like a classic case of disassociation, every July 4th, we celebrate by getting drunk and watching white trash in their dangerous exhibitions with pyrotechnics with no connection to what the holiday means. Many businesses are open like any other day and retailers are cramming their buy-one-get-one sales as the perfect capitalistic opportunity to shove more things that no one needs (and no one can afford) into the living rooms, backyards and closets of any sucka dumb enough to fall for a slick marketing message. We just don't really stop to reflect anymore. We just charge along trying to bring back that loving feeling by beating it to death. I guess that's how it is everywhere in this world. Maybe not. I haven't traveled enough to know. I suppose they act the same way down in Mexico on September 16th. It's not really a day that we sit and reflect on the country and it's history, it's preservation. In fact, we take the day off from doing all of those things.

You feel almost outcasted for wanting to "talk America" on July 4th like it's inappropriate. Like you're just supposed to grin and bear it. Put on a smile because we're celebrating a birthday, here. Don't get all political, bro. Don't be a party pooper. Relax. Chill.

Alright, I'll chill. It's 10:00AM and I feel good. Maybe I just needed to get it off my chest. As I complete this, the sounds of Sly and Family Stone's "Stand" fills the small corner of the room.

In the end you'll still be you
One that's done all the things you set out to do
There's a cross for you to bear
Things to go through if you're going anywhere
For the things you know are right
It s the truth that the truth makes them so uptight
All the things you want are real
You have you to complete and there is no deal
Stand. stand, stand
Stand. stand, stand
You've been sitting much too long
There's a permanent crease in your right and wrong
There's a midget standing tall
And the giant beside him about to fall
Stand. stand, stand
Stand. stand, stand
They will try to make you crawl
And they know what you're saying makes sense and all
Don't you know that you are free
Well at least in your mind if you want to be
Everybody Stand, stand, stand

Thursday, July 02, 2009



Admittedly, I wasn't necessarily on the front end of Cypress Hill's fandom. I would say that I was a fringe fan. I liked Black Sunday. In fact, I liked it alot, but it was the popular favorite. I liked it only because you couldn't avoid it in 1993. Over time, however, I was drawn more and more to their first recording and this song, the 29th greatest song in hip hop. Many elements of "Phuncky" follow the typical Cypress approach, however, it's the nine different tracks in it that, without a doubt, set it apart from the others. Anchored by the driving rhythm guitar from Kool and the Gang's "Life is What You Make It" and then intermittently switching over to the broken drums of Kool's "Give It Up," "Phuncky" represents some of DJ Muggs more intense work with breaks as later in his career he would shift to less sample-based production and more of a ground-up composition approach on Black Sunday onward.

"Phuncky" also represents a time in hip hop's history when the art of sampling was fading because paying royalties sucked and, at the end of the day, people were finding ways of making quality product cheaper. It was the year that, after Biz got slapped, he released his All Samples Cleared album which was a sparse, sometimes down-right boring album, but it was legal hip hop. As the practice of sampling was become less equitable for hip hop artists, "Phuncky" is a celebration of the artform taking almost every sound within from a previous recording and orchestrating them into a powerful and undeniable symphonic performance. And you can hardly talk about "Phuncky" without also mentioning "The Funky Cypress Hill Shit" and "Light Another" from the same album which equally exhibit Muggs' mastery of breaks and his affinity for funk. Years from now, you'll be able to put Cypress Hill's first record alongside Funkadelic and Meters records as one of the finer funk recordings in history because, essentially, it is just that...the whole record is a mutha.

Time tested and Root Down approved. Don't be foolish.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Now I know why I never tried running before...because it totally sucks. But I'm coming around on it. It would probably help if I took the advise of Wil and actually ran at an hour when it wasn't 95 degrees out. The sun has a way of completely taking it out of you and dripping it down into your sock. The sun is a complete beast when you're on the street. Jay Z is my soundtrack this week. Better than the first week when I was listening to Company Flow and only found three tracks listenable while jogging. Amazing how some things make perfect sense at home with the headphones on, but you try to take them on the trail and the recording just turns to mush. I'm waiting on Fear of a Black Planet until I really need it and that would be the last part of August when I start ramping up from the steady three which I'm trying to achieve right now. I'm at a steady 2.00 to 2.25. I could probably do three if my skin wasn't melting off of the bone.

Avoiding Sportscenter this morning because I don't want to hear how the Red Sox blew a 10-1 lead to the Orioles...again.

I'm finding it very difficult to balance my time with "training for a marathon" thrown in there. For a married man who has a demanding job, likes to write and puts together two-hour mixes of obscure Beatle covers, throwing in there "running four nights a week" is tasking. Nonetheless, I push on. The lovely wife has been supportive, but maintains that I need to get the ankle inspected before I get too far. Ankle has been feeling good. I ice it as a precaution, but it feels pretty solid.

Every once in a while, I'll see someone else out on the trail in an exhausting jog/run and I still think that I'll never consider myself one of them. I don't fit the mold of fitting the mold. I don't see myself as one of those cats that will want to talk about marathoning after it's all said and done. I just wanna do it. Some of these cats are so captivated with this running thing. I mean, I'm not wearing the daisies with the splits up the side yet. No headband. If you see me running it pretty much looks like me running for my life after just getting my ass whooped. It helps when Kool Aid joins me because then it appears to be a controlled jog.

Listening to EPMD this morning. Man, that hits the spot. I've been up since 4:45 and really don't have any clear explanation except that I was absolutely freezing. I didn't know that our air conditioner had the capability to drop to 45 degrees.

Wish I could take my dogs on the jogs with me, but three miles at a time might be too much for them. They need the exercise, though. Dudes act like they wanna run, but you get about a mile in and their bodies begin to fail them. Reminds me of a conversation I had with someone and they were telling me that very few animals are made to comfortably run 26 miles and a human is not one of them. Hell, a horse isn't even built for those distances. And dogs run more than three times the relative distance as a human so running three miles with me is like ten to them.

You see the tentative Team Root Down design above. It might need a little work still, but thinking about getting some pressed up on a limited level. It'll have the logo running up the back starting at near the bottom and then having the shoe print on near the top right shoulder. The wrong will carry some sort of slogan. Need some help with that, though.

"I know you got sole."
"Don't sweat the technique."
"Run on."
"Can't knock da hustle."
"Ain't no half-steppin'."
"Who stole the sole?"
"And y'don't stop."
"Renegades of Run"
"I run this."
"I ain't no joke."
"Steady mobbin'."
"Gotta get mine."
"I wondered, why not golf?"

The creative doesn't come as easy as it used to.

Michael Jackson means sales. I mean, geez, people are picking up those old crappy Jackson records that were on Epic. It's like anything that dude put out is straight right now. We have conversations up at work from time to time about what artists' deaths would be best for business from the perspective of people flocking to the stores to buy product. I've always thought that Bob Dylan would be probably the biggest. Maybe Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney because of the expansive catalog alone. I think Trent Reznor or Jay-Z. These are not people I really want to die, but when you see the reaction in sales that you did with Johnny Cash or Ray Charles dying, it gets you thinking about whose death would chart the highest. I didn't really think about Michael Jackson. Dude didn't have a ton of great records. In fact, in my humblest, he only had two great records, but he did so much volume on those records alone that, hell, almost everyone owned Thriller. I was watching his old Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean" the other day. Holy cow.

Dude was killin' it. When he goes into the moonwalk for the first time, it sounds like someone in the audience pulls out a gun. I heart this video.

Hit me with your suggestions on the shirt in my inbox or comment field. One last cup of joe before I go to work. I'm gonna need it.