Cosmo’s Crates: Thingamajawn

Posted on Feb 24th, 2011 in Downloads by Mr. Goldbar

For today’s edition, Cosmo delves deep into the Philly swamps for some dinosaur related anecdote-ery.

I’m very glad to be involved with my friends over at Fool’s Gold – friends of mine that are doing really great things on their own terms. It’s inspiring to me that we all have such a close-knit sense of community. But it’s not just Fool’s Gold, because there’s definitely another force out there that’s doing really big shit, albeit differently and in their own way, and that would be our friends over at the Mad Decent camp. My general philosophy as to how it pertains to capitalism is pretty much “everyone can eat” so it’s inspiring to know that so many of my folks are doing things the right way, well, and on their own terms. Now I was thinking that if Fool’s Gold was D.C. Comics, would that mean that Mad Decent was Marvel? Two separate universes that have their own glaring parallels between them? And if Mad Decent was Marvel, who would Diplo be? Truth be told, my first thought was Dr. Strange…

I first heard about “Wes” from my younger brother years ago in Philly. My brother worked at The Ritz movie theater, an usher, sometimes putting the letters up on the marquee. One day my bro came home from work and said to me “Damn, I work with this guy at the movie theater. He’s so full of shit, he swears he knows so much about records. Man he is SO ANNOYING…” Well it actually turned out that Diplo did know a lot about records. Apparently even Kanye West would attest to that, according to a mythical drop that was recorded sometime at Philly’s Five Spot during the now legendary Black Lily events. I’m not sure where or when it was that we first met, but soon afterwards we seemed to create that particular bond that only people that are addicted to dust and the chase of it can truly understand. He used to come to The Remedy, a weekly Monday hip-hop – and much more – party that me and my good friend Rich Medina held down for years. And he just kept on coming around again and again and again. At some point he hooked up with one of my oldest friends Tony AKA TripleDouble and they ended up putting out a really fucking cool “breaks tape” series out called AEIOU. It was innovative and yet funky, relying a on a lot of off “hippy shit” as I like to call it. I remember a while ago when Tony was driving around the country in his van just buying records – specifically his forte which is funky children’s records (MAD SUSPECT ALERT!) I was speaking with them dudes while they were out in Oakland. Turns out they were sleeping in their van in East Oakland and I was like dogs you know that shit ain’t sweet right? So I instructed them to roll over to Berkeley where they could stay the night at my in-laws house. It turns out they ended up over at the crib after having eaten a whole bunch of magic mushrooms, and so they had to weather that experience, including but not limited to Wes being incessantly hit on by my grandmother-in-law. But that’s another story for another time.

But yeah, way before he conquered the world as a chart topping dance DJ and Smart Phone Pusherman, my dude was a bona fide crate digger. I guess he still is though, cause that’s the type of affliction that never really leaves you, trust me. Sometime in the very early ’00s when him and Low Budget first came out the box with their Hollertronix movement, he came over the crib one day and hit me off with a burned CDR that read “wes. holler.” He had been talking to me about doing some sort of compilation that he had already titled in his head “Songs For Emotional B-Boys” and was basically constructed around Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan.” I popped the CDR in my player later on, expecting to hear material that he was trying to fuck with for this thing. But the first thing I heard was the voice of a young girl in a very distinctive Philly accent saying “A jawn is, that like like your radio ain’t comin’ on, like um your song is your real jawn…” I was holding the very very first sketches of “Florida.” Out of the 24 songs on this disk, 13 of them never made the album, but the first track off the CD was released by Turntable Lab as a 45 entitled “Thingamajawn” – a bizarre song blending Baltimore Club drums, little kid voices and obscure moody jazz horn loops. This guy really had found some ill samples.

The driving baseline and accompanying horns come from “Thème De Yoyo” from the 1970 French soundtrack Les Stances A Sophie performed by Art Ensemble Of Chicago. The Art Ensemble Of Chicago is a avant-garde jazz group from Chicago (“no doy”) helmed by Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell & Malachi Favors who were known for their elaborate performances involving multi instrumentation and free jazz composition. For this particulate song Bowie teamed up with his then wife Fontella Bass, who you may know from perennial wedding favorite (and The Warriors soundtrack classic) “Rescue Me.” Bass spills some highly abstract lyrics over this pulsating bluesy and driving backbeat. “Your eyes are two blind eagles that kill what they can’t see…” YES, whatever you’re on, please pass me some post-haste.

Art Ensemble Of Chicago still performs even years after having lost several of the original members, and they continue to push the boundaries of jazz, and music in general really. Their motto is “Great Black Music: Ancient To the Future” which is apt considering they’ve been able to infuse all sorts of traditional musical techniques from Africa, as well as all over the globe, to create a unique groove that has moved so many over the decades, into the 21st Century. Apparently they’re still playing, and if so I would love to catch them, get my face painted and lose my shit in their rhythms. “Thème De Yoyo” is still considered a classic jazz-funk groove to the underground “headz that know tha deal” but big respect to Diplo for putting me up on that record, as well as putting the whole world up on it via his interpretation of it on a little 45 from Turntable Lab. Now if I could only get dude to return my phone call…

Art Ensemble Of Chicago “Thème De Yoyo” [mp3]