Tuesday, September 15, 2009
THE ROOT DOWN PRESENTS: THE NYC METROCARD MIX
Just watching the highlights from last night's games. Looks like Boston can't lose and the Rangers just kinda took care of themselves losing the last two to the A's in Arlington. It's not a done deal yet, but it ain't really much of a race either with a 5.5 game lead.
Man, that coffee's dark this morning. Holy cow. I can see my fingernails growing.
Ya'll kiddies are in for a treat. If you're just happenin' in, today's your lucky day, homie. Because this morning, I present THE ROOT DOWN NYC METROCARD MIX. The concept is pretty easy: create a mix that represents various subway stops around the city by select either songs about NYC and/or songs by NYC musicians from that area. There are a few exceptions.
Our subterraneous trip through the city begins in Flushing-Queens with the Last Poets' fitting tribute to the city, "New York, New York." While there, we roll near LL's "Farmer's Boulevard" and Kool G Rap's "Rikers Island" where NYC's hardest reside. Organized Konfusion sends us off on our way to Queensbridge where we enjoy Nas's (obvious) NYC anthem, "NY State of Mind" and MC Shan's equally anthemic "The Bridge." We cross over into the Bronx where not only do we hear KRS One, but Ace effin' Frehley, yes, a Bronx native. Then, into Harlem and, yes, we'll enjoy two different "Harlem River Drives." One by Eddie Palmieri and the other, the more popular of the two, Bobby Humphrey on Blue Note. Bronx and Harlem are just hawd. As little as I spent in the City (and, really, I think four days is a short stay for only one city and that's NYC), we didn't get a chance to head north of Central Park so, essentially, Bronx and Harlem are sadly loosely represented by maybe some obvious picks, but you can't tell me that you were expecting Harlem's own Zhiggie. Son, you lost. Once you cross 110th Street, you're moving downtown. Manhattan, Theater District, Lower East Side, Soho, Washington Square...here's where things tend to get a little hairy. So many styles, so many artists (or so many "artists"), so many freaks. Manhattan's a bustling, non-stop madhouse. It's streets are a series of veins and arteries that pump life in and out of the boroughs. You'll enjoy the beauty of summer in Central Park and autumn in Washington Square. You'll even get your freak on as you meet some of Manhattan's finest druggies, prostitutes and transvestites...a notable one named "Holly."
Get serenaded by a bum who calls himself "Ol' Dirty Bastard" doing Sugarhill Gang. Definitively New York. One exception to the qualifying elements of the mix is my new favorite saxophonist Albert Ayler. He's not from lower Manhattan. He's not even from NYC. But at the young age of 34, he boarded the Liberty Ferry which services the Statue of Liberty and as it departed from Battery Park, he jumped into the cold November waters to his death. His fiery "New Generation" and his blazing vocal approach will absolutely melt your face off. Considered to be one of his most horrid performances, I find it remarkable. Don't listen to jazz critics, like hip hop purists, they're always pissed off and everything sucks unless it's Louis Armstrong or Kind of Blue. Manhattan's completed by another notable death in the same waters and that is monologuist Spalding Gray who, also, jumped from a ferry departing from the tip of Manhattan--the Staten Island Ferry. His "Dear NYC" is a post-9/11 letter to the city...written only months before his suicide. We couldn't get to Staten Island because it's not serviced by subway so, sorry, no Wu. You can download my Wu mix from last year.
Hip hop might've been born in South Bronx or even Queensbridge, but it grew up in Brooklyn. Some of the finest hip hop from the 80s and early 90s came of the street corners of Brooklyn. The music of Brooklyn is so very rich, the culture can only be cut with a chainsaw. Like elsewhere in the City, there seems to be a song about every freaking street corner. You'll hit Brighton Beach with native Herbie Mann, Flatbush, Long Island and then head back into Queens completing the loop through the city finishing with Hollis-Queens' favorite sons, Run DMC.
Thanks to George who provided some of the backbone of the mix. He'll contend there's too much hip hop and not enough spoken word. Maybe he's right. It's hard, though, to pull through NYC, the birthplace of hip hop and not have a mix that's dominant in hip hop. Plus, that's my lean. I'm a hip hop head. I got a few suggestions during and some after I had completed it of songs that needed to be included. If I included them all, this puppy would've been five hours long. It's impossible. When you're trying to perfectly represent a music mecca like NYC, you're going to have to cut corners. And that, my friend, is why we took the subway. Even though it's not prettiest or safest way through the city, it's one of the fastest and cheapest. Just get your MetroCard and it'll take you damn near anywhere. It'll take you from almost Connecticut all the way down to Coney Island. For the traveling head on a budget, this is the mix for you. Because as little as you paid for that MetroCard, it's gets you everywhere and this resulting mix is one of duration and mass. Timing in at just over two hours and forty-six minutes, it's the very longest that I've ever completed. A mammoth mix of exactly 50 songs, it'll take a while to download so be patient, but I guarantee that it'll be worth the trip.
Here's that tracklist. Don't forget your cover art, it'll stand as a nice visual for your trip through the city with all of key stops called out. Click this right here or the link below the cover art at the top.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.
THE LAST POETS "NEW YORK, NEW YORK"
LL COOL J "FARMERS BLVD (OUR ANTHEM)"
YELLOWMAN "NEW YORK, NEW YORK"
KOOL G RAP "RIKERS ISLAND"
ORGANIZED KONFUSION "ROUGH SIDE OF TOWN"
NAS "NY STATE OF MIND"
SUPER KIDS "GO QUEENSBRIDGE"
MC SHAN "THE BRIDGE"
CROSS BRONX EXPRESSWAY "CROSS BRONX EXPRESSWAY"
KING SUN "COL' NEW YORKIN'"
TALL DARK AND HANDSOME "THE BRONX IS BACK"
COLD CRUSH BROTHERS "THE BRONX"
KRS ONE "SOUTH BRONX"
ACE FREHLEY "NEW YORK GROOVE"
LORD TARIQ & PETER GUNZ "DÉJÀ VU (UPTOWN, BABY)"
CANNOBALL ADDERLEY "THE SIDEWALKS OF NEW YORK"
ZHIGGIE "TOSS IT UP"
EDDIE PALMIERI "HARLEM RIVER DRIVE"
BOBBY HUMPHREY "HARLEM RIVER DRIVE"
KOOL G RAP "STREETS OF NEW YORK"
JAMES BROWN "DOWN AND OUT IN NYC"
BOBBY WOMACK "ACROSS 110TH STREET"
TES "NEW NEW YORK"
SONNY ROLLINS "MANNHATTAN"
DEF JEF "DOWNTOWN"
BLACK STAR "RESPIRATION (REMIX)"
HORACE SILVER "SUMMER IN CENTRAL PARK"
MATABARUKA "JOHNNY DRUGHEAD"
MILES DAVIS "NEW YORK GIRL"
LOU REED "WALK ON THE WILDSIDE"
DAVE BRUBECK "AUTUMN IN WASHINGTON SQUARE"
THE FUGS "SLUM GODDESS FROM THE LOWER EAST SIDE"
ALBERT AYLER "NEW GENERATION"
BEASTIE BOYS "HELLO, BROOKLYN!"
CROOKLYN DODGERS "RETURN OF THE CROOKLYN DODGERS"
JERU THE DAMAJA "BROOKLYN TOOK IT"
DIGABLE PLANETS "PACIFICS"
QUINCY JONES "SUMMER IN THE CITY"
JAY-Z/NOTORIOUS B.I.G. "BROOKLYN'S FINEST"
HERBIE MANN "PUSH, PUSH"
ROY AYERS "WE LIVE IN BROOKLYN, BABY"
EAST FLATBUSH PROJECT "TRIED BY 12"
SPECIAL ED "THE BUSH"
JVC FORCE "STRONG ISLAND"
LAFAYETTE AFRO ROCK BAND "HIHACHE"
DE LA SOUL "WONCE AGAIN LONG ISLAND"
EPMD "BOON DOX"
A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "STEVE BIKO (STIR IT UP)"
3RD BASS "BROOKLYN QUEENS"
RUN DMC "PETER PIPER"