DJ Spooky has participated in two new book projects.
One is Green Patriot Posters. DJ Spooky's Manifesto for a People's Republic of Antarctica graphic design prints are included along with several of his friends like Shep Fairey and others. Make your own poster manifesto for a better world!!
greenpatriotposters.org Edited by Edward Morris and Dmitri Siegel
// BUY THE BOOK!
DJ Spooky also has participated in renowned photographer Lyle Owerko's new book "The Boombox Project" on the history of boomboxes.
Copyright Criminals - a Documentary by Ben Frantzen and Kembrew Mcleod
I'm in this movie, and I think that they did an excellent job. They have many friends and peers of mine - Jeff Chang, Chuck D (who appeared on my album "Drums of Death"), Clyde Stubblefiend, the drummer for James Brown, and many others. I HIGHLY recommend this film for anyone who is interested in digital culture.!
Listen to DJ Spooky's re-wired, re-charged remix of
Dawn Penn's classic "No, No, No (You Don't Love Me)"
Heel up, Wheel up, Come Back, Rewind: Trojan Records
by Paul D. Miller
Records asked me to do a "selections" from their archive,
one of the first things that went through my mind was how do you
mix music that changed the world? It's been about fifty years
since Jamaica has become an independent country, and it seems
like the music that comes from this tiny island in the Caribbean
is having more of an impact than ever.
Trojan Records' founder, Arthur "Duke" Reid, used to
drive the Trojan brand of trucks around Kingston with huge speakers
blasting his innovative collection of Jamaican music, leading
to the urban legend of how the name of the soundsystem cum record
label developed. "Duke" was a former policeman, and
it comes as no surprise that the "ruff and rude" sounds
of the Kingston underground were the staple of his sound.
The metaphor of the Trojan truck, mapped onto the Greek legend
of the Trojan house, is as fitting as any fiction. Trojan Ltd.
was a car company that made sturdy trucks that were to become
the staple of the colonial market export of cars. The people of
Troy, a great city on the edge of ancient Greece, were a royal
line founded by Zeus and Electra, and if the myths of the past
are to be kept in mind when we think of Jamaica, you can see the
update: Like the Trojan horse, these stealth units, soundsystems,
were able to be in plain sight while changing the cultural operating
system of the entire world. Soundsystems were portable discos,
mobile platforms for different styles. They were the preferred
method of spreading a style because they were nomadic in a way
that the monumental clubs of the U.S. and U.K. couldn't dream
of. From the vantage point of the 21st century, they can only
be viewed as the predecessor of the iPod.
Portability, quickness, stealth copies of hit songs, "versions"S¹
All of this leads us to the idea of remix culture and "mash-ups"
that are the digital world's inheritance from the analog media
of the soundsystem. With the material that I selected for this
compilation, I wanted to avoid the obvious songs of Jamaican history,
and focus on the more esoteric materials that collectors and producers
could relate to. For example, when the Prodigy sampled Max Romeo
and The Upsetters' 1976 "I Chase The Devil (Lucifer),"
I thought it would be a good start to think about how the same
sample popped up on Kayne West's production of Jay Z's hit "Lucifer."
I think you'll relate to the out-take version I included in the
compilation of Lee "Scratch" Perry's version, "Disco
Devil." Sounds like piracy? Well can you imagine the world
without Bob Marley? He used to screen records as a clerk for the
Coxsone soundsystem. He'd literally sift through the sounds of
the current day to tell Coxsone which records to copy! This was
invaluable for his development as a recording artist and performer.
There are other examples of this kind of cross pollination of
riddims on this compilation - the best is Big Youth's song "Screaming
Target." Big Youth recorded this version in 1973 over a riddim
he took from K.C. White called "No, No, No" that just
happened to be an exact cover of Dawn Penn's 1967 rocksteady 7"
single on Studio One, "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)."
Dawn Penn's song became a staple of the hip-hop and r&b scene
in the 1990's after getting a lot of rotation on underground mixtapes.
The list goes on - I think you can get the idea: everyone borrowed
from everyone else. It didn't matter if the tracks were produced
by Gussie Clark (Big Youth), by Clement S. Dodd (Dawn Penn's first
version of "You Don't Love Me"), or by Steelie and Clevie
(the drum machine version made in the early 1990's) - the riddim
remained the same. I wanted to reach back to the Big Youth version
to show how the "versioning" process evolved. Another
example: "The Jamaicans" were a band that helped popularize
"rocksteady," and their song on this compilation helped
win them the 1967 Second Jamaica Song Festival Prize!
Arthur "Duke" Reid listens to his soundsystem,
No one can really explain the popularity of George Gershwin's
popular theater work, "Porgy and Bess" with black musicians
- it would be easy to say we know the play more from Charlie Parker's
cover version on his infamous "Charlie Parker with Strings"
recorded around 1949, or even more likely, from Billie Holiday's
earlier, searing rendition of the same song.Gershwin originally
conceived "Porgy and Bess" as an "American folk
opera," and the work was first performed in 1935. It was
never really widely accepted in the United States as a legitimate
opera until the late 1970s and '80s: basically, it's now considered
part of the standard operatic repertoire. To this day Porgy and
Bess is regularly performed internationally, and many recordings
of the complete work, including Gershwin's cuts, have been made.
Despite the acclaim it received from critics, the opera has been
controversial; some from the outset have considered it racist
- but to me it simply contained some of the strange racial issues
that plague America to this day.
Because of Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong's
cover versions, "Summertime" is by far the best-known
piece from the work, and countless versions have been recorded
and performed. Gershwin's synthesis of European orchestral techniques
with American jazz and folk music, created a situation where black
artists were comfortable mixing the orchestral tradition with
whatever materials were at hand. The rest, I guess you can say,
is history. Think of an opera mixed into a Kingstson dancehall
in the 1960's and you can get an idea of why: the opera retells
the story of Porgy, a crippled black man living in the slums of
Charleston, South Carolina, and his attempts to rescue the other
main character, Bess, from the clutches of Crown, her pimp, and
Sportin' Life, a drug dealer. It could easily be a scene transposed
to post independence Jamaica, and that's why I included B.B. Seaton's
beautiful version on the compilation.
All this goes to show that the "re-mix" was happening
in Jamaica to keep the best songs fresh with the newest sounds
for decades before the idea hit the U.S. With Perry and his stable
of singers like Susan Cadogan (a former librarian!), you can hear
the heat of a Kingston night in songs like her hit, "Fever,"
and her 1974 smash single "Hurt So Good," a cover version
of Millie Jackson's song by the same name. Since copyright law
in Jamaica was never tight everything was a copy of something
else. You can think of the whole culture as a shareware update,
a software source for the rest of the world to upload. And if
you stretch your ears, you can see the future of digital music
in the drum machine riddim of "Sleng Teng" - a rhythm
made at King Jammy's on a Casio MT-40 home keyboard. Amusingly
enough, the MT-40 keyboard had a built-in preset pattern based
on rockabilly country musician Eddie Cochran's hit song "Something
Else" (a song also covered by The Beatles, Sid Vicious from
the Sex Pistols, and Led Zeppelin). Because of this, a synthesizer
version of the song's bassline ended up as the basis of one of
the most popular dancehall riddims in Jamaican music - which started
the "Digital Reggae" revolution in 1985.Jamaica created
its own economy in sound with the relentless bass pressure of
an island where music, and access to the right styles and sounds
could make or break your career. The pressure to find the right
rhythms created a hothouse of innovation. Just think: reggae is
the expression of a nation under immense pressure - from IMF loans,
from colonialism's aftereffects, the falling price of bauxite
and its relationship to a Third World economy based solely on
natural products like sugar cane and bananas.
Before hip-hop was global, the Jamaican scene had somehow, on
the down-low, followed the idea of diaspora. Today with artists
like Matisyahu in Brooklyn doing Hasidic Jewish versions of reggae,
to stuff like Japan's "Ranking Taxi" to the myriad sounds
coming out of Brazil, India, Tunisia, Germany and France, the
tradition of pastiche and bricolage continues. You get the idea.
The logic of diaspora - of taking music from a region and spreading
it across the world - is reggae's core essence, and when I put
this mix together, I wanted to go from my downtown NYC to London
and Kingston, to parts of the world I'd forgotten and to some
of the most distant places in my record collection.
I used to go to Jamaica every summer when I was a kid, and some
of my earliest memories - visiting relatives and friends, cousins
and uncles and aunts - were of my mother and sister reminding
me of the links between the island and America. My Mom used to
even write for Jamaica's equivalent of the New York Times, Kingston's
"Daily Gleaner!" I want you to feel history when you
listen to this mix and think about how sampling, making new music
from old, came from the idea of versioning. Think about the soundsystem
battles of Duke Reid, Sir Coxsone and Prince Buster as a forerunner
to MC and DJ battles in hip-hop. Think about Kool Herc's bass
enhanced soundsystem as a stepping stone for Afrika Bambaata's Planet Rock. Just think about how strange the world would
be if we didn't have this music of the islands. It just makes
you remember that this whole planet is just an island too.
This mix is a combination of the old, the new, and the in between.
That's kind of the point: DJ culture in the 21st century is as
much about the soundsystem as the playlist. The iPod revolution
has brought us back to the era of the "single" in the
form of a downloadable media file. For me, this "selection"
is a return to the era when I was a kid in the ancient late 1980's,
when vinyl still ruled the dancehalls, and the soundsystems of
NYC, Kingston, and London were all about underground flava. At
a certain point in time, and at a certain place - a phrase: architecture
is nothing but frozen music. What happens when we reverse engineer
the process? Form becomes flux, solids melt into ideas, concepts,
blueprints, codes and contexts. I wanted to make a mix that reflected
that: old and new. If there's one thing that reggae has told us,
it's all about that pressure drop!
Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid NYC 2006
In Fine Style:
Dj Spooky Presents 50,000 Volts of Trojan Records
1. Sweet Like Candy by Winston Williams
2. Nice Nice by The Kingstonians
3. 007 Shanty Town - by Desmond Dekker 67
4. Funky, Funky Reggae by Dave & Ansel Collins
5. Shades Of Hudson by Dennis Alcapone
6. Summertime by B.B. Seaton
7. Disco Devil by Lee Perry
8. Jah Jah Man by Sly and Robbie
9. Lama Lava by Augustus Pablo
10. Come Together by The Israelites
11. Old Fashion Way by Ken Booth
12. Rain by Bruce Ruffin
13. Your Ace From Outer Space by U-Roy
14. The Rooster by Tommy McCook & His Band
15. The Trial Of Pama Dice by Lloyd/Dice/Mum
16. Ba Ba Boom by The Jamaicans
17. Fever by Susan Cadogan
18. Morning Sun by Al Barry & The Cimarons
1. Dj's Choice by Winston Williams
2. Screaming Target by Big Youth
3. The Great Musical Battle by Derrick Morgan
4. The Russians Are Coming (Take Five) by Val Bennett
5. Popcorn by The Upsetters
6. Brother Noah by The Shadows
7. Reform Institute by Isaac's All Stars
8. Bridgeport Dub by The Blackbeard All Stars
9. King Tubby's Explosion Dub by King Tubby
10. Dynamic Fashion Way by U-Roy
11. A Yah We Deh by Barrington Levy
12. "Here Comes the Judge" by Peter Tosh
13. "Flat Foot Hustling" by Dillinger
14. Hot Sauce (Aka The Agro Man Is Back) by Dave & Ansel Collins
15. Rudy A Message To You by Dandy Livingstone
16. Rough Rider (Live) by The Special Beat