GPWW 5/24/10 Worldwide Family Mixtape: James Blake

This week Gilles Peterson features a mix by producer/musician James Blake, along with some way-out African, more deep jazz and new James Pants, Janelle Monáe, Joanna Newsom, Flying Lotus, Ital Tek and plenty more. The first track is by an artist called Gregory Porter, who Gilles says you’ll like if you’re into José James. Gilles also gives us his take on the new Jyoti, calling her the Mary Lou Williams of the new generation! “Lots of stuff in the box this week…”

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Giant Step’s Resident 24: Rich Medina, Q-Tip, The Martinez Brothers, Santogold, Diplo and More

Photo of The Martinez Brothers © Phillip Angert
View photos here. Archive link here.

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Bless Rich Medina and Q-Tip for giving this city something reliable to do on Friday nights with their body-rockin’ weekly at Santos’ Party House. It’s still in its infancy (only a few weeks old) so it’s still all innocent and chill (although Solange, the underrated Knowles, and actress Jurnee Smollett did sprinkle a little stardust on the joint last week). It’s exactly how you expect it to sound if you kidnapped ‘Tip and Medina and forced them to play your favorite disco, hip hop, house and soul records – and they were into it. With tracks like MSFB’s “Love Is The Message,” Tribe’s “Find A Way,” and Shaun Escoffery “Days Like This” It was one of those, “I gotta leave but this is my JAM” type of nights. Come 4 AM and I was stumbling around Chinatown with soulful disco house still buzzing my ears. Word of advice: things don’t get jumpin’ till after 1 AM.

Speaking of Rich, The Studio Museum of Harlem nearly crumbled under the chunky Afrobeat and soul rhythms at the Kehinde Wiley opening. I was batty about his portraits of African youth but it was the subtle three-dimensionality of the backdrop that put a crease my pants. Very impressive.

And no groove was safe from my friend-in-my-head James Pants’ heady set at Studio B with Peanut Butter Wolf. It was the age of buggin’ out as Pants put the needle to everything from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to Smokey Robinson and The Miracles‘ “Tears Of A Clown.” The place wasn’t packed but we were shearing some rugs, honey. Then Pants jumped off the turntables and ended his set with a dance that looked like Napoleon Dynamite got the holy ghost. Lordy.

Shaking things up at Giant Step’s Hudson Hotel jump-off were the LP-loving zygotes The Martinez Brothers. At 16 and 19 years of age, they must have picked up taste for spinning in utero and favor the chunky thump of house gems older than themselves. They volleyed DJ responsibilities throughout the night and were as wiry as the classic house selections pumping through the systems speakers. And that kept a steady stream of taut bouncy beats they kept the feets moving like DJs old enough to vote and buy porn. I wasn’t mad at them at all.

I was, however, hopping mad at the Mad Fools Summerstage show featuring Santogold, Kid Cudi, Diplo and A-Trak aka The Seventh Circle of Hell. Too much of New York was there in the acute heat and the endless wait for Santogold. I guess the first two hours were supposed to be a big outdoor shindig with Mad Decent and Fools Gold DJs taking turns as lives of the party. But watching people do the Electric Slide on stage when you have no room to snap in a circle three times is infuriating. And watching it for two hours is Chinese water torture. By the time Santogold came I was fresh out shits to give. But here’s why she deserves the hype. She came out with her militant booty-poppin’ back-up singers to “Find A Way” all smiley, extra sweet and dropping a corny joke or two. Then launched into “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Shuv It.” She has weaknesses but knows how to patch them up (hence the fly-ass back-up dancers) and she’s just cool enough, breezy, but definitely in control. The suffering of the previous two hours melted away and I managed a sincere booty wiggle or two. She ended the show with the electric buzz of “Creator” and in her sweet-as-pie way told us she wasn’t doing an encore so please don’t ask. All praise be to Santogold who understands when the party is over.

Giant Step’s Resident: The City, The Sounds, The Soul Part 17

Photo of James Pants

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Recently, I’ve discovered two bands who’ve made me want to slap my mama…out of joy of course. There’s lots of buzz about shiny new bands brimming with spunk and glamour. But for The Kills and The Whitest Boy Alive, dizzying laptop-critic buzz is old hat. I absentmindedly downloaded “Cheap and Cheerful” after hearing journos in the American Apparel media (Nylon, Fader, Pitchfork etc) yapping about the platonic punk pair Alison “VV” Mosshart and Jamie “Hotel” Hince. Can we talk about the rowdy that song is? The pouty vocals, the snappy lyrics and snarly guitars, all kicked off by a phlegm cough from “VV.” Their latest, Midnight Boom, is twinkly lo-fi – moody and spare with moments of spry wit and petulant kick. I thought I was all on the pulse only to learn this is their third album. Drat.

And when I stumbled onto The Whitest Boy Alive I was straight-up sore that no one invited me to the party earlier. The Whitest Boy Alive is actually several (four) white boys (German to be exact) who pump out plucky electro rock. Think the bastard child of Peter Bjorn and John and The Rapture. Sorta like beach music for the city. Sunny jams like “Figures” and “Burning” make their 2006 album, Dreams enjoyable. But the shadowy laments of heartbreak and smoky soul on tracks like “Golden Cage” and “Done With You” make it memorable.

I wish someone had hipped me to The Kills and The Whitest Boy Alive earlier but with the glut of music the average listener is faced with, things slip through the cracks. Here are some newbies whose hype you should believe wholeheartedly. Listen hard when their publicity machine comes grinding in your direction.

Janelle Monae
You may have first seen her in the sunny clip for Outkast’s “Morris Brown.” Diddy got wind of her fabulousness and now she’s on a joint deal between Bad Boy and Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon labels. Tiny and uncontained, the ex-drama kid brings a genuine sense of theater to her performances. Her peppy sound bounces between breezy, plush lounge and something that sounds like punk rock for fairytales. No tired torch songs here just cryptic yet poetic lyrics about aliens and androids – you know, girl stuff. And can we talk about how homegirl keeps a reserve of spankin’ fresh saddle shoes? That alone is worth a marriage proposal.

You should check out: “Violent Stars / Happy Hunting”

http://www.myspace.com/janellemonae

Black Kids
Let’s not pretend that name isn’t a head turner. It smacks of gimmicky desperation. But praise MySpace their skills extend beyond a flair for catchy name-selection. The five members of Black Kids (only two are actually black) hail from Jacksonsville, FL. That may account for the balmy guitar that cloaks the tracks on their 2007 EP, Wizards of Ahhs. Their appeal lies in their irreverent teenaged cool (“it’s Friday night and I ain’t got nobody so what’s the use of a making a bed?”). Only bad thing is that they’re currently soooooo cool that they’ve got a hit song in the UK (“I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You”) and they’re touring all over Europe with nary a stateside date on their MySpace. Boo.

Check out: “Hurricane Jane” www.blackkidsrock.com

Muhsinah
So Muhsinah is a name that has been peppering my favorite media outlets like nobody’s business (check out the power-fawning over at Okayplayer.com). At first listen her appeal is very basic: lots of dreamy soul with liberal use of horns, flutes and dusky percussion. But the DC native mixes it up on her album Day.Break. Bless her for weaving together sensual Bossa Nova with steely beats on “Only and Always.” The project is entirely self-produced, shaming a lot of the children cluttering the Hot 100. Her knob-twiddling style is reminiscent of both Nicolay and J. Dilla and her vocals can be disjointed yet comforting. She’s a bit subtle for the meatheads but that’s always a good sign.

Check out: “Only and Always” www.muhsinah.com

James Pants
James Pants is pretty much my favorite producer, music-maker and funny-picture-taker right now. He churns out splashy noise that at first sounds like a racket but when the melody settles in…ooh chile. Pants is a chubby-cheeked producer-singer based in Washington who clawed his way up from intern to artist at Stones Throw and homeboy has got some soul. His sound is flossy disco topped with a healthy dollop of shimmery tambourine-laced sound effects. Imagine if Gary Wilson wrote and produced for the Bee Gees. His money-hungry single “Kash” came out last year and since then he’s dipped his funky little toe in everything from rowdy garage rock to moody new wave. At this rate, next year he could be doling out hip hop polkas with finesse. And I need to hear that.

Check out: “We’re Through” www.myspace.com/jamespants