I have some really stinkin’ talented friends. Don’t believe me? Watch this video below. My friend Gary raps as Foreknown Apostolic. Foreknown is part of the awesome Humble Beast crew. He recently went up to Portland, OR to record his debut album for Humble Beast, “Rungs Of A Ladder Laid Flat.” Here is a sneak peak of the track “Breathe.” It’s only a sneak peak, but I’m sure it will get you as excited for this album as I am. My kids are already rapping along (I have the full version of the track).
As the Scooby Doo gang syas, “Everyone loves a good mystery.” And I love good music. So, how much better for a good mystery to be tied to good music? Anonymity has long played a role in music. Artists like The Residents, Jandek, for a while The Weeknd, and Burial, and, though we know who they were, they still liked to wear masks, Sun City Girls have all taken the “let’s let the music speak for itself approach.”
It’s an interesting concept. Is the music itself enough to keep people interested or have we so consumerized even music that we need the “whole package” to keep our attention. Then again, the “you don’t need to know who I am” move might just be a publicity stunt to sell more units. You might wonder exactly that when you hear the tale of Clutchy Hopkins.
The official story is that, Clutchy, the son of a Motown recording engineer, has been traveling all around the world, learning all kinds of music, philosophy and general worldliness. Clutchy’s website says that: “He worked at recording studios in Bombay to Cairo and studied musical techniques of the Cahuilla Indians, Rinzai Zen monks in Japan, and tribal drummers in Ethiopia. Returning to the U.S. in the ’90s, Clutchy worked as a session musician on obscure funk and jazz records; he was rumored to have collaborated with Moondog.”
Then, “In 2005, a crate of reel-to-reel tapes was discovered amid boxes of old, home-made musical instruments and electronics at a flea market outside Los Angeles. The trail from these tapes led to a woman named Kelly Hopkins: Clutchy’s daughter, the only person still in contact with him. Kelly obtained his permission to release some music and even persuaded him to collaborate with young new artists. Clutchy’s exact whereabouts remain a mystery. According to Kelly, he currently resides in a cave somewhere in the Mojave Desert.”
Just in case you’re still wondering if this is a ruse, the website also says:
Clutchy Hopkins is a mysterious entity whose downtempo grooves have infected the eardrums of hip-hop, jazz, and funk fans across the globe. His music has been praised by OkayPlayer, URB, and Wax Poetics. His true face is unknown. Some claim he is the “secret identity” of one (or many) DJs…speculation has included Madlib, DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist, Money Mark, Danger Mouse, Shawn Lee,and others. No one knows the truth…except for us. And we’re not telling (yet).
Well, until they do tell, we’re left with the music and the myth, which they’ve done a great job promoting. Check out these videos:
So, I decided that in 2012, I would make and give away one mix CD/month. I love the idea until it gets to the end of each month and I remember that i forgot to do that month’s mix! So here we are, with March quickly closing out and I just realized that I haven’t posted this month’s mix. It’s one that I’ve actually been excited about.
A few months ago, now, I discovered a DJ/Producer who goes by the name Sabzi. Sabzi is the production duo of underground hip hop sensation The Blue Scholars. I’ve been listening to Sabzi’s instrumental beat tapes a lot lately while I study and write, so that’s what I’m going to pass along your way this month. I can’t even necessarily say these are some of my “favorite” tracks because everytime I listen to his stuff I come away with new favorite tracks. So, if I were to re-make this mix next month (which I won’t), it would probably look pretty different. So here’s a version of my “Sabzimentals” mix:
I listen to so much music that I’ve developed
some pretty odd habits about acquiring
new music. I have files in my iTunes of
“to listen to” music that I come across
but am not ready to give my full attention to
yet. Late last year, someone (sorry, I can’t
remember who it was, so if it was you, please
let me know so I can give credit where credit
is due!) pointed me to a series of
instrumental hip hop mix tapes being made
available for free by some guy named Sabzi.
I love instrumental hip hop so I downloaded
the beat tapes but never got around to
listening until earlier this week. I’ve since
come to find out that “Sabzi” is actually
Alexei Saba Mohajerjasbi, producer/DJ of
Seattle/New York acts Blue Scholars, Common Market, and Made In Heights. In other words, he’s pretty
prolific, and in the world of Seattle (and beyond) underground hip hop, he’s pretty important. But I didn’t know any of
this when I finally got around to filtering through my “to listen to” folder the other day and remembered hey, don’t I
have some instrumental hip hop in there? That’s sounds good for studying and writing today. I listened.
And then. Wow. I haven’t been this immediately impressed with something in a very long time. Imagine Postal
Service remixed by DJ Food and you might come close. There’s beats but there’s also song structure and pure
pop sensibilities. Basically, Sabzi has released every beat he’s ever done, which appeared on many albums by
several artists, as purely instrumental tracks, calling the series the Townfolk Instrumental Chronicles and I am
in love (in fact, I have since sought out some of the hip hop albums these instrumental tracks were the foundation
for and I like the instrumentals better but that may just be me).
These beat tapes are no longer free, but, as Sabzi explains on his website for the mixes, it’s because
he gave away so many copies that Bandcamp automatically assigned a price to the albums. So now they’re
$5.00 a piece and I still think they’re worth it, even though that’s easy for me to say because I got them while they were still free. If anything, you might want to keep an eye out to see if there will be any more freebies from Sabzi.
In the meantime, here is a video of Sabzi explaining the premise: