I’m reading Questlove’s biography that came out recently called Mo’ Meta Blues. It’s a great book, and I purposefully didn’t read it until after I saw him DJ a few weeks ago. His set blew me away, and I started reading the book the next day. I have come to realize after halfway through the following things:
1. We both have a seriously eclectic taste in music.
2. We played instruments as kids. [He’s an impressive drummer, and that takes years of practice. My musicianship died at the age of eleven when my second piano teacher moved to Singapore. My ivory tickling nowadays consists of playing a few nursery rhymes, Christmas carols and maybe hammering out a few songs here and there.]
3. We know and remember random facts about songs, albums, who, what, when, where and even personal memories of when we first heard the songs in our lives.
My friends call me a music brain. They’ve never met anyone who can listen to Ella Fitzgerald, BeeGees and Blue Oyster Cult all in that order. Nah man gotta be in the right mood for jazz or classic rock. Disco?! But I do, I’ve always had this fascination with music, ever since I was a kid watching my dad record the top 40 countdown on Sundays in our apartment in London. I was about 4-5 years old at the time, plenty of stuff I remember from even then. I remember seeing Barry White sing Just the Way You Are on this music show in London called Top of the Pops. This heavy-looking dude dressed in this really bright white suit and his voice was just amazing to my ears. First Bowie song I heard? Boys Keep Swinging from the album Lodger in 1979. First Reggae song: Althea and Donna singing about driving in a Mercedes-Benz called Uptown Top Ranking, a one hit wonder that came out in early 1978. Kate Bush was creepy as hell, the banshee wail coming out of her mouth was more than my 5-year-old mind and ears could handle, not to mention the video for Wuthering Heights that had her dancing in a white dress. All I could make out was a lady named Cathy telling a guy named Heathcliff that she was home. Babooshka was a better song, still a weird video lol. Yeah, I thought she was crazy until she blew me away with her album Hounds of Love in 1985.
Maybe they don’t listen to music the same way I do, or perhaps it’s the way my brain is wired. See, right now I’m listening to Mazzy Star, a song called Halah. I can remember exactly what I was doing the first time I heard it: on the road listening to University of Miami’s radio station WVUM’s The Voice on the FM dial. They were playing it in conjunction with the release of their second album So That Tonight I Might See, which had the hit single Fade into You. That song got played out real quick, but yeah, like I said before my brain associates Halah with summer of ‘94. Interestingly enough, I didn’t buy their first album until almost two years later when it was in a cassette tape clearance bin at a Sam Goody. I walked out of there with almost fifteen albums, some were compilations, I also landed Beach Boys – Pet Sounds, Grass Roots – Greatest Hits, Nazareth – Hair of the Dog, to name a few. Now I’ve got Ice T on, and before that was Muse with Muscle Museum. Back to Ice T though, because of him I became aware of another artist: Curtis Mayfield. I heard I’m Your Pusher on Power 96 back in late summer 1988. It had a good beat and made me laugh, here’s a guy trying to score some drugs and Ice is telling him to get high on music instead. The sample used was from Curtis Mayfield’s song called Pusherman in the main chorus. I loved that part and spent the better part of a month trying to find out who it was. Halfway through the song he tells the client what drugs he has and name-checks a handful of hip-hop and rap acts: Kool Moe Dee, Doug E Fresh, Eric B and Rakim, Biz Markie and others, to which the guy says he’ll take it all except for when Ice T tells the guy that he also has some LL Cool J, then he says “naw, naw man I don’t want none of that. You can keep that, man” People I guess didn’t get his message, and a lot of kids thought he was pro-drugs lol. I’m thinking to myself, man, are they dumb? He’s saying the best drug out there is music. More specifically, get turned on to hip-hop and rap. Simple! He is a maker of this drug, and he’s pushing his product on the radio. C’mon man! Maybe they didn’t like the fact Ice T didn’t respect LL’s music. Then again, you can’t be taken seriously as a rap act when you break out a sappy tune like I Need Love. Guess Ice T didn’t have any for him, haha.