Swervin [Mix]

Hey guys. Here's your summer special, most of it composed on the Metro North commuting home from city to town after a long 9-5. It's a collage, weaving between unlikely tracks, never pausing to take stock, in constant zen-like motion. Things usually oscillate between southern rap and dubstep, but some wild cards are squeezed in there too. I experimented with a bunch of ambient effects and sample chops in the background; Listen closely and see what you spot. Oh and Vassar peeps stay tuned for big news soon coming.

Radiohead / Lucky
Freddie Gibbs / How I Feel
Joker / Psychedelic Runway
Burial / South London Boroughs
Sully / Phonebox
PRGz / Rollin (Flosstradamus Remix)
Drake / Houstatlantavegas
Big K.R.I.T. / Hometown Hero
Mt. Eden Dubstep / Sierra Leone
Jinder / Youth Blood (12th Planet & Flinch Remix)
Emalkay / When I Look At You
DLX / Matter of Facts (Breakage Remix)
Nero / Bad Trip (Rob Sparx Remix)
Miike Snow / Silva (Emalkay Remix)
Aardvark / 02
DJ Shadow / What Does Your Soul Look Like
DJ Shadow / Midnight In A Perfect World
David Axelrod / The Human Abstract
Gayngs / The Beatdown
Hudson Mohawke / FUSE
The Dream / Abyss
Drake / Karaoke
Major Lazer / Hold The Line (Nacey Remix)
Shawty Lo / Dey Say Where U Been
Kashii / Tru Sa City


Live At Shiva Rave '10 [Mix]

Here's the long overdue live recording from last last Saturday's Shiva Rave. Sounds like it took me about ten minutes to get really my head straight and settle into a groove; the beginning is a little frantic. But once that Nada track dropped it was on. I rode the techy/tribal tip for a little bit, danced between discohouse and wobbly bassline in the middle, and closed things out with that heavy dub zound. This was really an incredible night. I felt relaxed in the booth and was able to mix with confidence. Can't wait to come back in 6 months and blow it all up again.

Drake - Money to Blow (Vodka & Milk Remix)
Try Brown Acid - Try Humanity (Zomby Remix)
Yo Majesty - Club Action (Bag Raiders Remix)
Jack Beats - What
DJ Dee Square - Ice Box
Fake Blood - I Think I Like It
Dave Nade - Inner Midget (Nadastrom Remix)
Oliver$ - Gypsy Carnival
The Count & Sinden - Mega
Armand Van Helden - Hear My Name (Solid Groove Remix)
Gregor Salto - Unite (Sidney Samson Remix)
Riva Starr - Dance Me (Oliver$ Remix)
Malente - I Like It (Riva Starr Remix)
Olav Basoksi - Play With It (Gigi Barocco Remix)
Fake Blood - Fix Your Accent
Passion Pit - To Kingdom Come (Jack Beats Remix)
Drake - Best I Ever Had (Nadastrom Remix)
Riverside (Peo De Pittle Remix) - Sidney Samson
Kid Sister - Right Hand Hi (Kingdom Remix)
Major Lazer - Pon De Floor (Cold Blank Remix)
Jeremih - Birthday Sex (Gavin Holland Remix)
La Roux - Bulletproof (Alexander Technique Remix)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)
Phoenix - Fences (Nujax Remix)
Man Like Me - London Town (Foamo Remix)
La Roux - I'm Not Your Toy (Jack Beats Remix)
Riton & Seiji - Computer Juice
Emynd - Armed/Temperature
Pryda - Rakfunk
Laidback Luke & Lee Mortimer - Blau! (LA Riots Remix)
Simian Mobile Disco - Cruel Intentions (Joker Remix)
Little Boots - Meddle (Treasure Fingers Remix)
Kid Cudi - Day N' Nite
Huey - Pop Lock N' Drop It


State of the 'Underground' // Jay Electronica

So in my last post I threw out something like 'backpack rap without pretension'. I'd like to riff on that idea for a second, partly to flesh out the thought itself but also as a way of approaching the enigmatic Jay Electronica.

Backpack rap, a catch-all term I use for socially conscious, lyrically minded hip hop outside the mainstream, recently kicked the bucket. The indie renaissance of '00-05 (think Cannibal Ox, Company Flow, Slug, Doom, Aes Rock, El-P, Cage) is...well, dead. As long as we're eulogizing, let's not forget how widely it broadened the rap horizon. These artists embraced eclecticism; cue up The New Danger, Float or Funcrusher Plus to hear grungy Creole blues, live jazz improv and gloomy electro-ambiance in turn. They held activism over self-aggrandizement, brains over dookie chains.
By around '06, the act was stale. Individuality gave way to mere novelty, sincerity to posturing, and it all became a bit sillyan amateur circus of slam poets with nasal voices and English B.A.s. While some critics seized this as an opportunity to scorn the entire genre with sensationalism and hyperbole, I see it as part of the natural ebb and flow.

The latter half of the decade saw Cam'Ron, Jeezy, Clipse, Rick Ross, Game, Maino and Fabolous welcomed by underground. Flashy, charismatic, semi-nihilistic coke rappers. Lyrics? Not much to speak of. Beats? Definitely bumpin, but innovation ain't a priority. The rubber band snapped back to rap about, well, you know, having fun.
Will it last long? Apparently not2k9 was dominated by indie mixtapes from the likes of Elzhi, Skyzoo, Fashawn, J. Cole and Cyne. The cerebral storyteller came back with style. I'd side with A-Trak, who credits 808's & Heartbreak with much of the new creative energy. Things are more self-conscious this time around; DJ Furious Styles writes in the liner notes Jay Electronica's recent Victory, "Let’s welcome back the lyricists to Hip-Hop." These artists understand their place in hip hop history; there's something very authentic about it.

Few represent this rebirth more fully than Jay Electronica. Until recently the man's been a tornado of hype, best known for dating Erykah Badu and recieving two inexplicable endorsements from Nas and Mos Def. For me, the Just Blaze-produced "Exhibit" trilogy changed all that. He's the real deal. Listen and let me know if you hear the spark I do. Can you see him as part of this 'underground' revival? Where does he sit in relation to Aesop Rock, Cam'ron or Kanye?

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C


A Pipe Dream and A Promise [Review]

So the other day I'm listening to Gucci Mane and find myself smack-dab in the middle of one of those sublime moments of 'hip-hop is dead' aporia. Sure, Weezy gets me off when the syrrupy flow's right, Pitbul can spit fire 'cross a good latin riddim and there's no sub for Killa Cam in your subs. But where's that real, intelligent songwriting that got me into all this? Where the artists at? I'll spare you the restyou've heard it all before anyway. The difference is that I'm not trynna be cynical. I know the good stuff's there, we just gotta look:

A Pipe Dream and A Promise

Detroit by way of Atlanta. Just let that soak in; think about what that fusion might sound like. Eminem, Black Milk, Dilla. Outkast, Luda, Jeezy. Finale straddles both these monumental legacies, melding soulful samples, forward-looking production and fierce lyricism. And yet he manages to stand outside them. He's a self-conscious MC, bringing a new brand of hip hop to the world.

An all-star cast of beat-makers bless the album, most providing a gritty blend of street riffs and synth leads. Finale's alternately smooth and gravely vocals cut through the mix, and holy isht can this dude flow. First, technique. Finale has conversations with his beats. Lively staccato pops to the kick on 'Jumper Cables' while elegantly drawn out phrases grace 'Pay Attention.' The 'Heat' sample is muddled in vinyl static so Finale raps in a hoarse, throaty style, heavily stressing those 'ahhh' and 'haaah' sounds. The gently swooning synth lines on 'Issues' inspire Finale to spew liquid flow, swimming through gently rounded syllables and loose loopy vowels.

The man is a wordsmitha true engineer with the pen. It's clear each line has been painstakingly whittled down to a state of technical perfection. You'll find no awkward gaps between syllables, no lazy or drawn-out phrasing, no forced rhymes or rhythms. Like Lauryn Hill or Q-Tip before him, Finale extends the jazz tradition with vocal 'solos' that engage with instruments around him.

If you want radio rap without its nihilism; If want backpack rap without pretension; Street rap without ignorance; hipster rap without hipsters; Well then, you need A Pipe Dream and A Promise. It's unlikely we'll see more from Finale soon, this having been a 5-year labor of love. But who cares? This can easily last me another 5.

A Pipe Dream and A Promise was released in 2009 on Interdependent Media.


Wintery Mix

Olmec here, back with a new mix for your listening pleasure. This one moves from trippy dubstep into velvety electronic before sliding into tribal dance. Smooth mixing was a major focus; I looked to introduce each new track with a cohesive, harmonically sound transition. The end result is a proper collagesongs bleed together and are impossible to pry apart at the seams. Enjoy and please drop me some feedback, here or at my new facebook page.

Pill / Lookin (Chris Devoe Rmx)
Michna / Levitation
Flying Lotus / Parisian Goldfish (Take Rmx)
Phaseone / Alladat
Four Tet / Hands
Dirty Projectors / Temecula Sunrise
Prefuse 73 / Martinique
Skyrider / No Good (Odd Nosdam Rmx)
Pretty Lights / Fill Your Eyes
The XX / Shelter
DJ Quik / Let's Get Down
Dam Funk / Hood Pass Intact
Maxwell / Phoenix Rise
Northend / Tee's Happy
Mungolian Jet Set / Creepy
Lindstrøm / Baby Can't Stop (Aeroplane Rmx)
Daniel Steinberg / Bailando
DJ Sun / Para
Crookers / Hands On Me (Solo Rmx)
Mowgli / London To Paris
Sinden / Me Mobile (Duckbeats Rmx)
Major Lazer / Hold The Line (Edu K Rmx)
Amanda Blank / Shame On Me (TKO Rmx)
Jack Beats / Rainstick (Herve Rmx)
Mowgli / Tatanka
South Rakkas Crew / Mad Again (Boy 8-Bit Rmx)
Joy Orbison / Brkln Clln
Joker / Play Doe
Birdman / Money To Blow



Between Spooky's Sound Unbound, Kode9's Sonic Warfare, and both Wax Poetics anthologies, the last few weeks have seen me reading more pseudo-intellectual garbage on the topic of post-modern music than I think healthy. But, as an aspiring psuedo-intellectual myself, I can't help but bring you my thoughts on DJ Shadow's recent essay concerning the post-everything musical landscape of 2010.

To recap: Shadow thinks financial success, the oft-ignored dynamo of all artistic production, is near-impossible in a world where the public has supplanted the record label with itself, via the internet.

Paradoxically, the rise of MTV and the major labels in the 1990s obscured the basic fact that something concrete, be it fame, fortune or fucking, must always motivate production. Sony, UMG and others took the idea of patronage to the extreme, repulsing those who sought music for the very intangible pleasure of listening. We forgot that money and art go hand-in-hand.

Inspired by lofty ideals like 'liberation' and anti-consumerism (and let's not forget the ever-present impulse to get something for nothing), we recklessly moved to free music from the 'evil' shackles of commodification. We shifted seat of power from corporate label to internet jury. Lemme hear you say / fight the power.

But in doing so, society has critically damaged the very foundation of the arts. Shadow calls the internet age "passionless, listless, hollowed-out," alluding to a Bradburian world where art reduces to vapid shock-value. There's no money, nothing concrete, at the base of this new pyramid. It's all just mastication. The labels, with all their interesting characters, cutthroat politics and, yes, glaring flaws, were infinitely more capable of fueling artistry than the bland 'internet community.' Sure, they may been self-interested and malintentioned, but at least they were invested.


Olmec's Best of Oh Nine

Alright, here we go:

Album // Major Lazer .. Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do
Diplo and Switch at their finest. Deep undulating bass-lines, weirdo vocal cuts and eclectic drum patterns combine in a tsunami of dance, putting the last nail in mashup/blog-lectro's coffin.

Song // jj .. Ecstasy
On Ecstasy, Secretly Yours enigmas jj meld the ethereal euphoria of label-mates Air France and Tough Alliance with the codeine bathed swag of Gucci and Wayne. Also features the most gratuitous use of reverb in the last twelve months.

Remix // TC .. Where's My Money (Caspa remix/Jack Beats edit)
In 2007, Bristol drum n' bass head TC released Where's My Money, a frenetic jungle romp shredding strong at 180 bpm. 2008 rolls around and Caspa, one of the scene's most influential, flips it to dubstep. Sawblade synths, slippery LFOs, the whole she-bang. Now, in 2009, maniacal masterminds Jack Beats come through and find the perfect balance. Waves of cyber-bass billow and burst in the rear while fierce little snare triplets tear up the foreground. Not only is this track incredibly powerful, it's symbolic of the electronic music's maturation in 2009. It steps outside the walls of both drum n' bass and dubstep into new, uncharted territory.

Mixtape // Chromeo .. DJ Kicks
Sure, the mixing ain't much to speak of (though to his credit, Dave1 can beatmatch), but here it's all about song selection, song selection, song selection. Chromeo's mix delves headfirst into glitzy 80s disco house, melding it effortlessly with modern electro hits from the likes of Shazam and Lifelike.

Producer // Memory Tapes
For existing completely outside the scene and, perhaps because of that isolation, consistently pumping out this year's most moving productions. Glo-fi that isn't pretentious, chillwave that isn't vapid, dreambeat that stays grounded. Standout productions include a stellar LP, Seek Magic, and remixes for Fool's Gold, Dem Getaway Boyz and Yeasayer. Check his blog for much more.

Rapper // J. Cole
Nevermind his endlessly versatile flow and deft production, J. Cole is just a great songwriter. You've got deep soul-searching on Lights Please, an enlightened perspective on I Get Up and even the obligatory self-glorification (with sharp wit, sure) on Reflection Eternal's Just Begun...and that's just the warm up.

DJ // A-Trak
The man's unstoppable. This year saw decade-making remixes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Tellier in addition to two huge mixtapes, a remarkably well-kept blog game, and 3 or 4 world tours. Spend a couple minutes trolling youtube to fully appreciate his genius.

Blog // TTLab
Not only my favorite spot on the LES, but also one of the best places for party updates, new releases, interviews, and misc. culture/soccer highlights.

Gig // A-Trak + Mehdi @ Studio B
Maybe the best night of my life.

NYC Venue // Music Hall of Williamsburg
All hipster cliches aside, at MHoW a massive soundsystem, effortless layout and relaxed staff (just don't try to spark one) combine to make it one of the best NY venues (and 18+ to boot).



So Saturday marked my rawkus return to the Vassar 'scene.' We threw down hard at the Shiva Rave: Over 500 bodies spilling out the side doors, candy-ravers soaked and screaming, fog and lazers in full effect. This was also my first official Traktor outing. I learned (a) sweat and vinyl don't play and (b) turntables are really heavy. Here are some ill pics (credit: Madeline Little) and a pre-party hype mix:

Michna / Redline Flights
LCD Soundsystem / Disco Infiltrator (FK Dub)
Christian Fischer / Advance Panorama
Juan Maclean / Happy House (Lee Douglas Rmx)
Daniele Papini / Church of Nonsense
Gui Boratto / Take My Breath Away
Aeroplane / Pacific Air Race
Frankie Knuckles / Your Love
Animal Collective / My Girls (Dave Wrangler Rmx)
Sebastian Tellier / Kilometer (A-Trak Rmx)
Zero 7 / Everything Up (Mock n Toof Rmx)
Talking Heads / Once In a Lifetime
Mr. Scruff / Kalimba
Hundred In The Hands / Undressed In Dresden (Jacques Renault Rmx)
Jacques Renault / Tuxedo Dance
Duck Sauce / aNYway


NYC 6/20 w/ The Maccabees, Miike Snow, Hatcham Social

You live in this city for a minute and just can't help but find yourself bombarded by influences. Not just bombarded but lured and pulled. You start drifting off some new direction and when you finally snap out of it (I haven't) you won't know how you got there. Here's what's guiding me, come down to Music Hall of Williamsburg 6/20 to see what it do:


Thunderheist Set [Live]

Friendly Fires - Paris (Aeroplane Remix)
Ladyhawke - Paris is Burning (Cut Copy Remix)
PNAU - Embrace
Anoraak - Fantasy Park (Moulinex Remix)
La Roux - In for the Kill (Twelves Remix)
Sebastian Tellier - Kilometer (A-Trak Remix)
Cut Copy - Nobody Lost, Nobody Found
Empire of the Sun - Walking on a Dream (Sam La More Remix)
Bomb The Bass - Old John
Royksopp - Poor Leno
Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction (Wideboys Reix)
The Presets - Talk Like That (CFCF Remix)
Kings of Leon - Use Somebody (Tenzin Remix)
Lykke Li - Breaking it Up (Punks Jump Up)
Chromeo - 100% (Nacho Lovers Remix)
Radiohead - Reckoner (Twelves Remix)

I got my baby back. This Macbook pro is making all the difference right now. 200% more battery life, 200% more productivity, 200% more procrastination, and 100% more DJing as of late. The Palmer Gallery exhibit was a solid success, I got a lot of good feedback despite my submission being straight silly. I spun at the Loeb art gallery as well for a late night viewing. Lots of fun, a chance to play more experimental tracks and meet some spacey art heads from the hudson valley. Smuggled out my share of wine and cheese before calling it a night, too. Then we had the Thunderheist gig on Friday, another big night for me. Their performance was...questionable...but all in all they were a good time and friendly people. Their DJ made a point of thanking me specifically for my opening set. I played some aussie house, making sure not to kill the crowd before they went on. The art of the warmup is something I've definitely gotta train, but that was a good start. It's all about not fully climaxing at the peaks; keeping things just at the brink of that crescendo in a very prog-house sort of way. I'll definitely be cookin up a new mix over break, until then you can grab the live recording (a bit sloppy, but that just makes it more reeeaal) from Friday up top.


General William Booth Enters into Heaven (Olmec Remix)

Strange happenings in Poughkeepsie, NY. Been without laptop for about a month now, following that tragic spill. I've gotta say, after that first-week-hump it's pretty smooth sailing. I've been working more in the library's media lab, bringing myself around Logic/Reason way more than usual. Here's what's come out of it. This is a production for a gallery show coming up highlighting student sound art at Vassar. The idea is to remix a poem, a concept I stole from DJ Spooky after reading the "Sound Unbound" anthology he edited. So I found this reading by Ginsberg (written by Vachel Lindsay) and time-stretched it into oblivion before slapping it on top of a simple little dubstep riff. Nothing special from a sonic point of view but his creepy acid-head voice definitely adds some sort of spice. Clearly, I'm not about to quit my day job or anything. But still, it was good to get my hands dirty in some real production.



Acoustic space: the space we hear rather than see. Multidimensional, resonant, tactile, immersive and emphasizing temporal structure over the linearity of vision. Unlike a painting, photograph, opera, ballet or film, acoustic space is something to be plumbed physically. You can't see it through a glass wall. You can't be the passive audience member. Your very skin vibrates with each passing wave, redirecting it to create something entirely new. You become the vibration itself. The audience doesn't just bring a filter, it becomes the very composition.

...alright enough bullshit. Listen to this little soundscape I mashed up in Audacity and see if you can't step inside that grungy Caribbean shanty town:


Master of the Universe

This mix might be my first to really expresses something. I can't put my finger on what, but the movement and rhythm here definitely speak to an emotion. I feel like I'm getting past that hollow electro crap...weird
I was a little iffy on adding the rapping but in the end I'm glad I used them to balance out the artsy side of things. This mix also has a lot going on under the hood. Tons of glitch effects on the vocals, strange parametrizing on the tracks, and lots of VSTs I barely understand. Let me know how it all sits :

Yo Majesty - Don't Let Go
Booka Shade - Body Language (Tocadisco Remix)
Digitalism - Echoes (Suriusmo Remix)
Spank Rock - Put That Pussy on Me (Acapella)
The Field - The Little Heart Beats So Fast
Basic Soul Unit - Tunnels (Sebo K & Metro Remix)
Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek
LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends (Amigaman Remix)
!!! - Pardon My Freedom
Fatboy Slim - Jin Go Lo Ba (Jon Carter Remix)
In Flagranti - Business Acumen (Arveene Remix)
Underworld - Beautiful Burnout (Mark Knight Remix)
Busta Rhymes - Don't Touch Me (Acapella
DJ Mujava - Township Funk (Ashley Beedle Remix)
LCD Soundsystem - Beat Connection (Disco Dub Version)
Goldfrapp - A&E (Gui Boratto Remix)
Michel de Hey - Jetchi (John Digweed Edit)
Booka Shade - Karma Car (Club Mix)
John Digweed - Every Feelin'
Juan Maclean - Give Me Every Little Thing
Panthers - Goblin City (Holy Ghost! Disco Dub)


The Shallow End

Dipping my toes ever so slightly into the production pool here.

Olmec's Top 10 (Remixes) of '08

1) Mariah Carey - I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time (Designer Drugs Remix)
2) MGMT - Kids (Soulwax Remix)
3) Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy, Hey Girl (Soulwax Remix)
4) Hercules & Love Affair - Blind (Frankie Knuckles Vocal)
5) Sigur ros - Saeglópur (Crash Overdrive Remix)
6) Justice - Waters of Nazareth (Erol alkan’s Durrr Durrr Durrrrrr Re-Edit)
7) Kanye West - Love Lockdown (Chew Fu Small Room Fix)
8) Lil’ Wayne - A Milli (Flying Lotus Remix)
9) Leona Lewis - Every Bleeding Breath (Divide & Kreate Mash)
10) Sia - Buttons (CSS Remix)