What I love about hip-hop is its ability to straddle and pull from many different genres and backgrounds to create a greater message. The original track from Mos Def took samples from Aretha Franklin and formed a track that has remained a staple of hip-hop for over a decade. This remix adds in jazz and funk to bring to another place. Another level.
This past week, I was asked to be wing-woman to one of my girlfriends. Fine. The rest of the night took a turn for one of those nights you can’t make up. And shouldn’t turn down. One of the guys in our little pack of miscreants was a performer for Totem, the Cirque de Soleil show in Santa Monica and mentioned some of the other performers were at a show at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica. The night was jazz and hip-hop. We walked in to a man wearing a suit onesie that only he could have ever pulled off. He was chain smoking in the center of the stage with red and white lights rotating on him as he calming let out vocals which sounded like an angrier James Brown. It was amazing. Once your eyes adjust to the haze of the stage you start to make out a writhing human figure along the pole in the corner. His eyes rarely leave her but also not give off more than look which says “You are here to entertain me. Move.” And she did. The packed railroad style bar stood in silence. An MC was in the crowed singing among us with a mic and would sometime’s call the spotlight on him. The girl in her torn fishnets and tattered lingerie crawled along enticing us all as we watched hungrily with our whisky’s to the side filling our ears with his words and our eyes with the vision of an old chorus line dancer and dusty blues singer creating music. The show ends after a climactic parade of various dancers bending and turning in from of him, his face was never seen behind the smoke.
When the music stopped and the DJ came on to wrap up the night, I requested Gang Starr “Above the Clouds” and he laughed at me, then proceeded to put it on. A full dance took hold of the floor and the performers all came on stage. The best dance partners you can find are from Cirque, and also the best show. The night ended when we all poured in to cabs much after last call was yelled and the floor had a sticky film of spilled beer and grime from the patrons of the night.
I appreciate the musicians of today and their curiousness, their ability to join genres and sounds and create something new from something things we hold to be classic.
This duo from funky Philly has done a fantastic job at that. Tyler Minford and Logan Zoghby of Louis Futon splice the classic Mos Def track and drop in a base that punches through the vocals at the opening and then crescendo into a synth-filled heady, groove. The two will be releasing an upcoming EP, Mojitos.