Amazing words about my label and our new free mixtape called Beat Stew Vol. 4 - please take a listen, download and share if you dig it!
Beat Stew Vol. 4
Is the summer of synth-hop upon us? Quite possibly.
Too many interesting things have been going on in the Los Angeles musical world for too long to avoid anything but the emergence of a contemporary urban paradigm. It used to be that looking for a chill beat based soundtrack to summer revelry required nothing more than plopping on a Dre album or tuning into K-Day. But those days are dead.
Any semblance of relevance has disappeared from Power 106’s programming and on a larger scale, our understanding of stylish hip-hop and dance music has changed immensely. What was once the sole domain of cheaply slung verses and traditional beats has become an amorphous realm of rhymes, synths and electronics bent around this strange concept of music across genres. Something this centralized makes sense in this weird, wild city.
The resulting sound is as difficult to pin down as Dolph Lundgren slathered in baby oil. One man just isn’t enough to hold it down alone. With their newest mixtape, LA based Proximal Records proved that maybe its enough to just keep the fight in the ring.
Beats Stew Vol. 4 is a 23 track aural sacrifice to the gods of summer and a blazing testament to a wave of underappreciated music defining the Los Angeles sound. The self-espoused parameters of the mixtape are a curious assortment of styles including downtempo, electronic, hip-hop, rap, synth, boogie, funk and broken beat.
And, holy shit, it works. The collection is meaty and diverse but arranged around some strong, unspoken appreciation of hot days on steamy freeways and breezy nights beneath swaying palm trees and LAPD helicopters.
Proximal Records is the brain child of producer Jeff Elmassian and producer/artist Carl Madison Burgin aka Sahy Uhns. The latter’s pseudonymous, synth heavy beats are a prominent presence on the album, bringing to light what appears to be an ingenious and forward-thinking business plan on the part of Proximal Records.
As the promotional outlets for major record labels act with stunningly myopic conventionality, smaller labels like Proximal have a lot of leeway and even an essential responsibility to find new ways to build a depth of experience for listeners. By constructing an album as taste and style broad as Beats Stew Vol. 4, Proximal engages in very smart scene building. They’ve positioned themselves as savvy knowers with their finger on a multi-noded sound that could define a summer if they play their cards right.
Moreover, as a label owner, artist Sahy Uhns could have made selfish moves and spent his time producing and promoting a new album for himself. (His solo shit is fantastic by the way. Rolling lines of surging electro with snappy beats and undulating melodies. Check it here.) Instead, Sahy Uhns/Burgin chose to curate.
By handing over a lot of the glory, Burgin effectively created a music pyramid scheme. Twenty Four artists share the glory and shoulder the weight of diverse promotions. In the end, Burgin and company at Proximal Records get the largest share of the exposure bounty for this free album.
This is the most essential thing now: exposure. Fuck the old noise about moving units and selling out venues. It ain’t ‘95 anymore. The chance of selling 100,000 copies via Tower Records is nil and an arduous touring schedule, while fun, leaves you old, tired and used up. No, the new game is interconnection and fluidity.
What matters now isn’t as much power but reach. You stake your name and build your reputation on a strong diversity and an ability to adapt, connect disparate ideas and weave them into your signature framework of songs and albums.
Welcome to the future Los Angeles. Aural and strategic, Beats Vol. 4 is treading in the right direction. Download this shit for free and support a good thing.
Charles Bradley - “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)”
Great record with a vintage soul/funk sound. Love Bradley’s voice and the sound of the drum set in particular - nice and crisp. Dig in.
*From one of my favorite LA musicians and a genuinely great guy - the man Dam-Funk. This track is soooo good and the video is perfect. Check it out.
:: VIDEO ::
~ “Forever” - DāM-FunK ~
Here’s the video (directed by: RAD) for the lead track from the brand new EP on Scion A/V Records: “InnaFocusedDaze”.
A straight forward performance piece, (influenced stylistically by videos D-F grew up on) filmed on a ‘not too distant planet’ in outer space, jammin’ w/ the homies of Master Blazter: Computer Jay, J-1 & Monica Mendoza w/ a cameo by GroWeyez.
Straight from Proximal Records - thanks for the shout! We’ve got big things planned for Benedek.
Benedek feat. Dam Funk - That’s My Jam! (Benedek’s Midnight Cruiser Mix)
EP “That’s My Jam!” / Proximal Records / August 2011
Beat Stew: Vol. 3
Full disclosure, this mixtape comes from my record label - but it’s seriously fantastic. It’s gigantic (22 tracks), sooo funky, and best of all - free! Give it a listen, share, download and enjoy some of the best new producers in hip-hop, funk, electro and dance beats. It’s just really that good.
Breakbot - Fantasy
Ed Banger Records
I love that this funk pop resurgence is happening, albeit in small quanitites. Quality over quantity. Feel-good music should never go out of style.
“Grazing in the Grass”
Everyone knows the version of “Grazing in the Grass” by The Friends of Distinction - even if they have no idea who the artist is or the title of the song. When the Hugh Masekela original “Grazing in the Grass” came on the radio the other day, I’m sad to admit that I had to use Shazam on my phone to identify the track. I knew it sounded familiar and that it was a great groove but I had no idea it was the original hit that the “I can dig it, he can dig it…” version was based on. Upon further reading I discovered that the tune was actually composed by a man named Philemon Hou and that the track in various forms has appeared in 9 major movie soundtracks. The power of a simple groove and some great horns…. :)
I can’t get enough of this tune. Released in 1969 by New Orleans funk band The Meters, it’s funky as hell and has a groove to it that isn’t quite swing but definitely isn’t straight either. It sounds like a simple enough beat, but that in-between groove and linear style of drumming (by the great Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste) makes it a bitch to play on the kit though one I’m devoted to nailing eventually. Hope you enjoy.