Archive for August, 2012

DJ Supreme La Rock and the Power of Zeus

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Seattle’s Supreme La Rock is that rare breed of DJ who can go from the jet-set club scene one night to playing the rarest 45s the next . He got his start on the Seattle hip-hop scene as a member of the Incredicrew – their 1987 single “King in Def Poetry” caught them a nice buzz. A cameo on Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “My Posse’s on Broadway” didn’t hurt either – today it fetches upwards of $50 on eBay.

Since his early days in the music game, Supreme hasn’t stopped moving: he went on to start Conception Records, is a member of The Sharpshooters and, alongside Jake One, formed world-renowned record collectors, The Con Men.

Recently, Get on Down got a chance to talk to Supreme about what we had in our stable. One release that has always been near-and-dear to him is by Detroit quartet Power of Zeus. The group, originally called Gangrene, changed their name after signing with Motown subsidiary Rare Earth in 1970. The album, The Gospel According to Zeus, is a Holy Grail among record collectors particularly for the song “The Sorcerer of Isis.” We asked Supreme about finding this gem, and how he almost skipped over the song that would become the backbone of the mid-90s hip-hop sound.

I don’t recall the year but I know it was in the early ‘90s. The ‘digging’ craze was really starting to boom and anyone who was serious about producing was looking for the perfect samples and breaks. While most were still buying soul records with anyone with an afro on the cover, a small handful of heads knew the time and were scoping out all genres.

I had figured out early on that just about anything recorded in the early 1970s was funky, no matter what the genre was. I’d listen to the oldies station in the car and discovered countless drum breaks on rock records a lot of cats weren’t up on yet. I also heard things that had been sampled and figured out the source. It was a just another day of digging for me when I stumbled upon a crazy looking rock album called The Power of Zeus. I bought it on sight without hearing it for three reasons: it was a dollar, the cover art looked cool and it was on the Rare Earth label and I had other albums on that label. So, I decided to go for it. When I got home, I needle-dropped through the songs and didn’t hear much. I threw it in a stack and forgot about it.

A few months later a friend from New York called me to see if I could locate this crazy rock record with an incredible drum break on it called The Power of Zeus. He had heard it at a record show over the weekend when a dealer, John C., played it out-loud for the who’s who of the hip-hop community. I guess it really caused a stir. He described the record to me and I told him, yeah I had it already. He couldn’t believe I was already up on it. I told him I didn’t think it was that good and he could have my copy. But before sending it off, I decided to listen to it again.

I was floored this time around!!! Seems I skipped over the track ‘Sorcerer of Isis.’ I love that track even to this day. It had it all: hard-hitting snappy drums, psychedelic wrenching guitar riffs, and killer bass fills. After discovering this track I could understand what the frenzy was all about. I immediately went out that day and hit every record spot in town. I dug up three copies that day and have never seen another one since. That was close to 20 years ago!

For more on Supreme La Rock, visit his website. You can also check his blog http://supremelarock.blogspot.com/ for everything from rare 45s, Shaft action dolls and a whole lot of pinball machines.

And for anyone wanting The Power of Zeus, Get On Down just happens to have a stash of the reissue here.

Bram van Splunteren Reflects On “Big Fun in The Big Town”

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Re-released earlier this year by the good folks at Five Day Weekend, Big Fun In The Big Town remains one of the greatest time capsules from the glory days of New York City hip hop.

We caught up with the filmmaker Bram Van Splunteren to expand on a few of the scenes from the DVD.

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Record Digging & Disco Boogie: A Word from Uchenna Ikonne (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Since the release of their first compilation, Brand New Wayo in May 2011, Uchenna Ikonne, founder of Comb and Razor Sound has been working diligently to “bring the best in cool and rare Nigerian music and pop culture oddities…”

Ikonne, also a writer, DJ, and filmmaker entered into the music industry because a great sense of moral integrity and obligation he felt towards the artists and performers he loved to listen to. “I know this might sound crazy in this era of ‘free content’ but when I was blogging I always felt this sense of guilt that I was ripping off the artists in some way. I know people would tell me what does it matter if it has been buried for years anyways so it is not as if they would even get paid from it.”

But Ikonne noticed on his blog (combandrazor.blogspot.com) that whenever he put out a mix and people downloaded it, had he affixed a dollar amount to the download, this would be money going directly back to the artist.

“So I fell better in this way that I’m distributing music and I’m also making money from it; not for myself, but for the artists. Because it is really important that we licensed the music and made sure that the artist got paid because some of these guys were seriously ripped off back in the day.” Ikonne pauses. “So that was one thing that I really wanted to do.”

Thus far, Comb and Razor has released two compilations: Brand New Wayo in May 2011, and just recently, in July 2012, a record by a band called The Semi Colon, a popular eastern Nigerian group from the 1970s. Brand New Wayo, which was featured on NPR last year, showcases various disco artists from 1979 to 1983.

Comb and Razor is currently working on releasing a Nigerian country music compilation. The concept originated from a blog entry posted in 2008. “I’m always trying to think of new concepts, new ideas, new things to showcase on the blog, and I just started thinking that different Nigerian versions of country music, so I thought I would see if I had enough to put together a little mix of it.”

The entry received the greatest response of any of the blog’s other entries. “I’m looking forward to putting it out as an official release and having more people exposed to it… And you know country music, country music from Africa is the furthest music that you would expect. So I’m really excited about it.”




Whle the track listing is not yet finalized, listeners may expect to hear Joe Nex, Remy Cottonheart, Henry Pedro, Ed Jatto, Dedication, an a few others. “There’s a lot to actually choose from, but I tried to put stuff on there that people didn’t hear the first time. There will be a lot there.”

Comb and Razor has encountered some challenges processing the records, especially regarding audio restoration. In Nigeria, “there isn’t a lot of preservation, so in a lot of cases the original master tapes for these records don’t exist anymore. So you have to master it from an existing copy of the record, and if you don’t have the record in perfect condition, ten a lot of work goes into trying to digitally restore the sound.”

Another problem Ikonne has faced is locating a particular record and not having a copy of it. “You have to find that record, and that could take forever. Or maybe you know someone that has that and can give you an audio duplicate of it. Getting really good source material, getting really good master material is definitely a huge challenge.”

Comb and Razor Sound delivers music that is carefully packaged, informative and stylish with vintage photographs.

The name for Comb and Razor Sound originates from Ikonne’s boarding school days. It was less like a posh high school with uniform navy blazers and Oxfords-striped ties, than “boot-camp or prison” Ikonne says.

“We used to give each other haircuts using a particular method of holding a razor blade pressed up against a comb and then running the comb through the hair,” Ikonne explains. “It was terribly painful and to some degree unsanitary, but it was representative of the spirit of improvisation that the boarding school environment fostered in us—that drive to make something out of nothing.”

That same resourcefulness is how Ikonne approaches Comb and Razor Sound: “Use what you got and try to make something you want!”




Special Thanks to Lee Hershey.
This is the second article in a three part series.
To check out PART ONE please click here.

To check out Comb & Razor’s titles on GetOnDown.com Click Here.

Rawkus Records B-Side Bangers

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

In 1998 the divide within the rap game was at it’s most glaring. (more…)

Rap On Wax.

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Stacks of juicy new wax pumping through the Get On Down storefront. (more…)

Let’s Take It Back to… ’95

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Seventeen years is a long, long time in internet years. Shit, that’s a long time in real-life years. (more…)

King Tubby’s – Meets Rockers Uptown NOW SHIPPING!

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Now available and limited to a strict 2000 copies… (more…)

Say Hello to Mr. Greico

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

“People are smoking blunts, smoking dust. People have weapons out, long sharp knives, big scissors that you cut bushes with. It was just crazy.”
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Get on Down Investigative Reports: Breaking Down GZA’s “Labels”

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

An update on GZA’s “Labels” via Up North Trips(more…)

Up North Trips Now Blogging On GetOnDown.com

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

We would like to extend a warm welcome to Up North Trips who will be contributing weekly to the Get On Down blog. (more…)