DJ Logic – The Anomaly (CD) (2001) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

The Anomaly

On his second solo album, DJ Logic creates a true anomaly in the electronic jazz genre: a set that remains true to the improvisational spirit of jazz and makes you want to shake your ass. Unlike recent techno jazz albums by artists such as St. Germain, the songs on The Anomaly never drift into dull repetition — each tune constantly surprises with unexpected turns. The Anomaly is a bit fresher and funkier than his equally excellent debut Presenting Project Logic, which tended toward the dense and industrial. Logic earned his pedigree working with latter-day jazz saints such as Vernon Reid and Medeski Martin and Wood, and both Reid and Medeski lend a hand to their disciple on this album. In particular, Medeski’s funk organ gospel adds an extra kick to “French Quarter,” a nasty jam replete with a Tower of Power-like horn refrain. He and his excellent band Project Logic dip into trip-hop with “Black Buddha,” layering velvety sax and flute melodies and ambient accompaniment. “Soul Kissing” finds Logic delving into Eastern rhythms with a violin playing the main melody and tablas filling out the sound. He even pulls off a deft hip-hop tune on “The Project,” thanks to Subconscious’ heady rap. Logic experiments on several tracks to varying success, including a bizarre meld of industrial and aria on “Hip-Hopera,” which sounds like an eerie ghost haunting a sheet metal factory. But no matter what concoctions he tries, Logic keeps it lively and intense. The Anomaly works well whether you’re on the dancefloor or sitting on the living room floor.

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DJ Logic – Project Logic (CD) (1999) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Project Logic (CUE)

A lot of DJs have stepped to the front, recording as leaders, to varying degrees of success. While many of these efforts have been entertaining, very rarely do they succeed on a truly musical level. With the release of Project Logic, DJ Logic (a.k.a. Jason Kibler) changes all that.

Playing in Vernon Reid’s band, and several years with Medeski, Martin & Wood, has not only given DJ Logic valuable training as an improvising musician, but has also left him incredibly well-connected to boot. This album was recorded in a series of sessions in New York, where DJ Logic, bassist Melvin Gibbs (Decoding Society, Rollins Band), and drummer Skoota Warner let the tapes roll with a myriad of invited guests. These improvised sessions were then edited and sometimes overdubbed to create the album. This gives the tracks the feeling (rightfully so) that actual musicians recorded this in real time, while listening to each other; that it’s not just a studio creation. The only exception is “Spider Dance,” where vocalist Jennifer Charles (Elysian Fields) joins on a track that could have come off the Golden Palominos’ Pure. The other tunes explore various funky jazz settings, except for “Eyes Open (But Dead),” a straight-up hip-hop piece, and “Una Cosa Buena,” a Latin number. Another highlight, “Mnemonics,” has Logic mixing records from an Indian vocalist, while also utilizing a live tabla player and cornetist Graham Haynes.

Besides the usual suspects (MMW, Vernon Reid), a host of New York’s finest appear: Marc Ribot, Steven Bernstein & Briggan Krauss of Sex Mob, and even legendary producer Teo Macero dusts off his horn to play on a track. The result is a fine musical offering that breathes the air of jazz improvisation; unprecedented by a DJ.

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Jonzun Crew – Lost In Space (1983) (Vinyl) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Michael and Soni Johnson, who were born in Florida, formed the Jonzun Crew in Boston with Steve Thorpe and Gordy Worthy. They were a mix of electrofunk and rock beats and comic/ novelty lyrics and had sizable hits in 1982 and 1983 with “Pack Jam (Look out for the OVC)” and “We Are The Jonzun Crew”. Michael Jonzun left the group in 1986 for a solo career, but didn’t do much beyond one A&M release. He had more impact as the person who discovered New Edition and as the writer/ producer of their hit “Candy Girl”.

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Kenny Dope – Nervous Hip-Hop: Continuous Mix (CD) (1995) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Nervous Hip Hop (LOG)

Nervous Hip-Hop is a 1995 compilation album featuring a non-stop mix of songs on Nervous Records done by producer Kenny Dope. “While the Wu-Tang Clan had taken over in 1994 and 1995, they were not the only one representing New York hip-hop. This compilation is a small glimpse of what was, courtesy of some of the artists who were on the Nervous family of labels. True hip-hop headz, THIS is one of the best comps you’ll ever hear. Featuring Boot Camp classics, Funkmaster Flex, and some other lesser-known but very talented artists, this disc is a must-have for those who know. Made in a non-stop, mix-tape format, the songs all smoothly transition from one to the next. Some of the best tracks are remixes of tracks from Black Moon and Smif-N-Wesson’s debuts. If you don’t know who they are, you better do a little research then come back. For those of you who do, you won’t be disappointed. While yes, those tracks can be found on other discs, you’ll never get a better deal with them all on one, plus other great stuff like Mad Lion(a rasta-rapper protege of KRS-One), and a rare non-LP appearance by Nine on “Six Million Ways to Die,” produced by Funk Flex. For Nine fans, his rap is of course excellent, but that track is marred by a terrible middle verse by Tragedy. The disc ends with the remix of Black Moon’s classic “I Gotcha’ Opin,” and from beginning to end this disc just never lets up.

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cLOUDDEAD – Ten (CD) (2004) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

cLOUDDEAD - Ten

The most artistic hip-hop has usually relied on a rapper’s ability to transmit to listeners an eye-level view of his surroundings (and possibly comment on them), but what are a group of rappers to do when those experiences — on a video shoot, no less — apparently include the following, as cLOUDDEAD claim?: “Two small girls and a handful of dressed men walk a cage full of goats across a basketball court.” (“Rifle Eyes,” their response to 9/11, is only slightly more bizarre.) The only question is whether this trio of subunderground rappers, influenced by Eno much more than EPMD, can conjure a musical backing that fully conveys the surreality of their surroundings. Surprisingly, the mélange of tape grime and nth-gen samples that constitutes Ten is certainly the proper arrangement for these psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness raps. Doseone and Why? pair their vocals or mumble or speak in nursery-school singsong, while head producer Odd Nosdam plunders thrift-shop LPs and forgotten reel-to-reel recordings for samples, often airing spoken-word passages as between-bars commentary. Random and disorienting on a first listen, Ten is actually a closely composed piece of modernist music. Not what you’d call an enjoyable listen, but one to be respected anyway, and also one that worms its way into your head.

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cLOUDDEAD – cLOUDDEAD (CD) (2001) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

cLOUDDEAD - cLOUDDEAD

Culled from a series of limited 10″ releases, Clouddead’s eponymous debut isn’t so much a fully formed album as it is a well-executed exercise in seasick, proggist psychedelia. With background textures that rival Boards of Canada in pastoral, tree-lined opacity and an obvious predilection for boggy atmospherics, Clouddead handily distances themselves from the rest of their hip-hop brethren. Indeed, this is something more considered and sinister — less about wayward braggadocio than it is about keeping your doors deadbolted at all hours of the night. Even their less-is-more approach to vocalism eventually starts playing tricks on your mind; when lyricists Dose and Why? emerge, it’s usually to puncture the pleasant fog of some dulcet, wavering sample. The whole album reads like that; the sonic equivalent of your first legitimate drug trip as narrated by two jittery but triumphant kids who can’t bear to keep their choice hiding place a secret any longer. While it’s perhaps a tad overlong, Clouddead doesn’t suffer from any shortage of great ideas. It’s menacing, it’s enthralling, and it’s one of few modern-day records (hip-hop or otherwise) that honestly doesn’t sound like anything

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cLOUDDEAD – The Peel Session EP (Vinyl) (2001) (FLAC + 320 kbps)

Clouddead - The Peal Session

The Peel Sessions marquee usually means a dry run through of current “hits” or else pointless fodder for obsessive collectors. While this five track EP may not break the mold, cLOUDDEAD push the collector angle as far as possible. The longest track, “Physics of a Bicycle” is like the Danielson Famillee reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Elsewhere, it piles on all manner of found sound, monologues about their cat, a guided tour of the local graveyard and maybe even 35 seconds of hip-hop.

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