"This album is about influence, inspiration, perception & reality. Every song was written in an outside environment, so that I could observe the subjects that would become my subject matter. All too often in Hip Hop, reality is limited to that of the artists own, actual experiences. People Hear What They See is my attempt to liberate the MC from those constraints & allow reality to be penned other than my own. Listening to congressmen & lawyers converse on the steps of the supreme court inspired 'American Greed', Watching a couple argue over the phone in a bar inspired 'Maybes'. By having a visual representation of my subject matter, my hopes are that the listener will see them through the worlds & melodies of my songs."
Ras Kass is a producer’s wet-dream & a rapper’s worst nightmare! He’s worked with the greats: Dr Dre to DJ Premier, The RZA to Kanye West; from Apollo Brown to Jack Splash! Born in Watts, CA on September 26 as John R. Austin IV. In 1996 he had twin sons (Ras and Taj) with R&B and soul singer-songwriter Teedra Moses. BMF Entertainment artist Barima “Bleu DaVinci” McKnight is his cousin. Ras Kass sent waves through the hip-hop world with his debut independent single release “Remain Anonymous,” earning him a Hip-Hop Quotable in The Source Magazine. Before his signing with Priority/EMI Records, his first album, Soul on Ice, was released in 1996. Taking its name from a book by Eldridge Cleaver, Ras addressed racial relations in the same manner, most notably on the Diamond D produced “Soul On Ice” remix, and “Nature of the Threat.” The album was released on Priority Records, as was the follow-up, Rasassination. Most recently, Barmageddon 2.0, which was just released and includes features from Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chains, YukMouth, Bishop Lamont, Ice T, Too Short, and Talib Kweli.
Apollo Brown’s Thirty Eight is a contemporary throwback, inhabiting the realm of reverent reinvention and innovation. It deftly bridges the gap between ‘70s Blaxploitation soundtracks (e.g. Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly or Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man) and the hip-hop records that sampled from them. The tracks on Thirty Eight are presented in gritty, heavily saturated Technicolor, the scratches and cigarette burns as purposeful as they are happily accidental. These are suites sounding from long barrels held by lone men lurking in grimy project hallways. Tinged with revenge and regret, shrouded in thick tendrils of hollow-point smoke, the songs have all the makings of an epic gangster tragedy. They’re also great when paired with anything Raymond Chandler. Crackle and sample hiss run like electric current throughout, charging the record with a retro feel and resonant warmth. Yet these qualities are only secondary to Brown’s impeccable ear for instrumentation. Thirty Eight is full of funk, soul, jazz, blues, hip-hop, and everything in between. The bluesy guitar twang of slow-burner “Black Suits” and the lush, orchestral strings of “The Warning” are just two examples of the depth and diversity Brown brings to the table. All singing on the album comes in the form of brief samples, some high-pitched and sped up, others left untouched. Taken together, they amount to glimpses of an emotionally affecting narrative, enabling the listener to fill in the plot and words between the booms and baps. Brown enlists New York mercenary Roc Marciano for the soundtrack’s two features. With the sharpest of eyes and the frostbitten wit of a Polo clad hustler slanging in the dead of winter, Marciano delivers his best verses in recent memory, his vivid narratives perfectly suited for Brown’s soulful production. Each CD comes packaged with 5" inch vinyl featuring the aforementioned Roc Marciano tracks. Quite possibly the first time a CD and 5" inch record have ever been sold together, cop yours before they’re gone. For fans who desire the full analog experience, we’ve pressed up 180-gram vinyl. Each vinyl copy also includes a 45 featuring two bonus instrumentals. Whether you buy a physical copy or download Thirty Eight digitally, don't call it a beat tape. With this project Brown has created an expansive cinematic composition for the theatre of your mind. Listen, envision, and enjoy the show.
An interplanetary space/love odyssey featuring Melvin Van Peebles (Brer Soul, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song). Following Heliocentrics' Out There and 13 Degrees of Reality albums. 2 CD – Instrumentals included on bonus second disc. Melvin Van Peebles, the filmmaker, musician, author behind the landmark movie Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and the trilogy of Brer Soul albums he released in the 70s has teamed with the UK ensemble Heliocentrics to create an interplanetary space/love odyssey told in twelve chapters. The Last Transmission comes nearly ten years after Van Peebles' appearance as the third member of Quasimoto on Stones Throw Records' 2005 release The Further Adventure of Lord Quas. For the Heliocentrics, The Last Transmission represents their third Now-Again album, following Out There in 2007 and 13 Degrees of Reality in 2013. Van Peebles makes for the Heliocentrics' ideal foil: he did graduate work in astronomy in Holland in the 1950s and maintains an avid interest in cosmology. The Heliocentrics, as their name conveys, draw inspiration from both the philosophic leanings of the likes of Stephen Hawkings and interstellar mysteries, like those surrounding the Malian Dogon tribe's knowledge of the Sirius B star hundreds of years before it was discovered. Their music is as indebted to Sun Ra's interstellar jazz as it is inspired by psychedelia's spiritual expanse. The Last Transmission, presented as a vocal album and an expanded instrumental selection on a bonus disc, can be taken as both the band's interpretation of Van Peebles' poem and a musical voyage inspired by Van Peebles' vivid imagery. The band considers it their defining work, the result of more than a decade of playing and recording together. They've found a voice as a band, one that meshes with Van Peebles,' as he weaves an intergalactic "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." In between producer/drummer Malcolm Catto's thunderous syncopation and producer/bassist Jake Ferguson's bellowing bass lines, amidst the analog electronics and atmospheric interference naturally accorded by their organic analogue process, Van Peebles' voice floats in and out, spectral in its tone, complete in its conviction in the unfathomable sense that life's eruption in the cosmic expanse made, and in love's ability to transform and transcend death.
10 years ago, Truth & Soul released it's first full length record, Sounding Out The City. It was also Leon Michels' first full length record under the moniker El Michels Affair. At the time, the budding retro soul scene consisted of mostly organ quartets a la The Meters and of course, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings were in the early days of their ascent to world domination. Leon Michels, who was 18 when recording Sounding Out The City began, had just released Thunder Chicken, the first record by his high school band The Mighty Imperials. At the time of SOTC, Michels was just discovering early rocksteady, afrobeat, and 60's garage rock, which inevitably crept its way into the songwriting. He purchased a Tascam 388, an 80's 1/4" reel to reel 8 track intended for home recordings, and began recording music in a 10x10 box with no windows that also doubled as his childhood bedroom. Along with fellow Mighty Imperials Nick Movshon, Homer Steinweiss, and Sean Solomon, and Michael Leonhart, Thomas Brenneck, and some of the musicians from The Dap Kings, Michels recorded the LP over a two-year period. Upon it's release, it received some rave reviews and the small deep funk community ate it up, but due to the lackluster promotion and distribution the rest of the world was slow to catch on to the instrumental gems featured on SOTC, which Michels appropriately labeled as "cinematic soul". However, in 2005 it found its way into the hands of the people who were organizing a series of concerts for Scion that paired bands with MC's. El Michels Affair was contacted about playing one show with Raekwon The Chef of Wu Tang Clan fame. The show was such a success it led to a tour, and then to another set of concerts that featured multiple members of the Wu-Tang Clan. This eventually led to the release of El Michels Affair's second record, "Enter the 37th Chamber" which introduced them to a much larger audience and has been their most successful release to date. This deluxe reissue features the original Sounding Out The City album remastered as well as some alternate remixes and previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the same period as SOTC on the second disc Loose Change. Michels has since gone on to produce and co-produce many of the Truth & Soul releases including the new Lee Fields record, Emma Jean. He shares songwriting credits with Adele, Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, Aloe Blacc, and has played on records by Ray LaMontagne, Lana Del Rey, The Black Keys and Dr. John. Loose Change is a glimpse into the early, early days of El Michels Affair.