as a West Coast kid, i think i secretly grew up kinda hating on that grimy East Coast boom-bap sound that was so popular in the early 90’s. their badoom boom drums, their 93bpm ass songs, the scratchy surface noise from the vinyl producers like Pete Rock, Primo, and Showbiz pulled their samples from… i used to think “gimme some oowee synth noises and 808 claps any day over that;” this 15 year old music nerd that liked his rap sounding crispy. producers like Battlecat, Dre, Quik, Studio Ton, anybody who worked with Roger Troutman, and especially anybody who like fart bass; that was my jam.
so i guess it’s a little ironic that in 2003, after a couple years making electronic West Coast driving music (often spiced with Middle Eastern and South Asian instruments) i really fell in love with records.
this sparked a desire for a deeper understanding of rap production, or “beat making,” as a craft. doods like Autechre and Aphex Twin—along with a handful of super geek friends that made music on DOS programs—had already opened my mind to the art of electronic music and sample warping and creative sound engineering and all that. this Hip-Hop schitt had its own philosophy and spirit behind it tho. the best producers and DJs a were a perfect blend of culturalist, historian, craftsman, and primal fighter all in one. it wasn’t just about making heaters, but then again it was. and about being 100% dope as fuck.
digging thru the records and reading liner notes was my way of physically immersing myself in a small portion of the history of recorded music. finding samples that my favorite producers used took hours and hours of scouring record stores, thrift shops, estate sales, and listening to a whole hell of a lot of garbage in hopes of discovering a gem. this was before Wikipedia and YouTube; the only thing on the Internet back then was the laudable but ever-incomplete The-Breaks FAQ. s/o to xombi.
the path to finding good samples that hadn’t been discovered yet was so difficult, that simply undertaking such a task had a powerful transforming effect on my inner reality. this kind of training caused me to think deeper and more creatively about not just record digging, but everything i did creatively.
Geo, a close friend of mine who rapped, had good taste for beats. together we made about 20 tracks in 2003 and ended up releasing 11 of them in 2004, then an additional 3 in 2005 under the name Blue Scholars.
for years, he, like many of my other friends, would push me to release tapes of instrumentals. to this day i’m not sure why it took me so long to listen to that advice.
RAVENNA is the first collection that eventually found its way to the public. produced between 2003-2005 in a house and an apartment near Ravenna on a homebuilt PC computer running Acid 4.0, this was my first step into the world of using classic breaks and vinyl samples to construct beats. each track was originally composed to stand on its own which is why they all have their own unique titles.
“real” rap heads who are several older than me, have more flavor in their personal style, a record collection 3 times as big as mine, and are just more knowledgable and cooler people in general, would easily criticize the schitt out of these beats. and they’d be right. i have no quarrel with their criticisms as i am likely inclined to agree.
this isn’t about the 40 year old rap heads tho. it’s for anybody who wants to listen to good music and contemplate the beauty of life. it’s for TOWNFOLK.