This was definitely the recession WMC, but the actual effect was less severe than I anticipated. Attendance was lower all around but the folks that did come were there to hustle hard and have fun. Lots of connections were made and parties got smashed off properly. It was kind of bugged out to see places like The Marlin and Specs Music shuttered that were the sites of landmark memories of WMC’s past (Jump-N-Funk and the debut performance of Elements of Life respectively) but SoBe isn’t immune to the downturn.
This was also the year where I actually had a couple of high(er) profile gigs. I’m still trying to graduate out of 12th grade but the Vibe Conductor brand isn’t yet a household name. The grind continues.
The first jam I played was one for the record books. Daz-I-Kue‘s 3rd annual James Brown tribute had a power packed lineup of everybody who is somebody and many of whom made me want to be the somebody I’m still trying to be. Jahsonic and I knocked out a quick and energetic set of fast rap with all James Brown samples. Then everyone else continued to merk it, building up the energy level until Spinna, DJ Cash Money, 3D and Scratch executed a four-man weave on the decks. Jeremy Ellis had already stunned the crowd with his unbelievable James Brown routine and came back out to spark a little freestyle cipher. I happened to grab some footage.
The other gig I had was with an old friend who recently got nominated for a Grammy, but met up with some hard times on her way out of Texas. We worked it out though. Keep pushing, Wayna!
After sets from young B-more club sensation Rye Rye, Canadian chanteuse Anjulie and future funk diva Joy Jones I finally got a live dose of the much talked about K’Naan. I’m definitely glad I stuck around until the end.
So outside of handling that bidness, it’s always good to hear my favorite jocks kill it, and hear cats for the first time that I’ve only heard of before. In that first group, there was the beat down that Benji B delivered at the Delano. Starting out with progressive hip-hop and nu soul bits, Benji worked it up through some latin funk into house into a roaring 2-step garage finish. Ian Friday levitated the situation at the Brooklyn Mecca/Libation jam with deep spiritual afro-house goodness. Karizma assaulted the Objektivity party with big-room bombs. There was literally no space to move in there, much less breathe.
In the group of folks I got to hear for the first time, Sabine impressed with her trance inducing, deeply black and raw set preceding Ian Friday. Young Miami local Mr. Brown is one of those crate digging cats who have actually combined their obsession with rare records with the ability to rock the spot. Every time I saw him he was playing out of massive soft-sided bag full of originals that have never passed through my hands. ‘Nuff respect to him and partners DJ Wasabi and DJ Le Spam for the fly balcony afro roots session they set off. Mad Mats has a huge rep and I’ve long been an admirer of what him and his crew have done with Raw Fusion. His turntable game is no joke. Quick, nimble and funky cuts combined with a buoyant, soulful selection is how he gets down. “Mad” mental notes taken of course.
Speaking of Raw Fusion, it was bananas like it is every year. And truthfully, the slightly lower turnout made it better, because there was actually room to dance. Big ups to OP!, Karl Injex, Phil Asher, Rich Medina, Freddie Cruger (Red Astaire), Simbad and of course Daz-I-Kue. If you can’t get across the water to Sweden, it’s definitely worth visiting the offshoot in NYC.
The main takeaway point from this week of sun, dancing and furious hustling is that we’re all fortunate to be sharing this time as peers, artists and fans invested in the music we love. This blog could run multiple pages if I bigged everyone up but I’m more motivated than ever to build the connections to you all this year.
Records to watch out for:
– Cecilia Stalin – Afro Blue
– Nathan Adams & Zepherin Saint – Circles
– Joy Jones – Supanova
– Salah Ananse feat. Zynzelay – Wonder
– Flood of hot joints pumping out of Exchange Bureau Music right now
Record that I desperately need a track ID for:
– Whatever it is that uses the Future Rage drums with those mental reversed synth stabs over the top. I think Simbad dropped it at Jazzanova vs. Bugz, and I heard it a few other places too. I NEED THIS SONG.