Stephen David Heitkotter – Black Orckid

Now-Again — May 19, 2014 | Comments (0)

ON SALE: STEPHEN DAVID HEITKOTTER – BLACK ORCKID

Deluxe reissue of a legendary ’70s California bedroom-made psychedelic album.

Restored/remastered transfer and never-before-heard demos. The CD/LP book contains dozens of unpublished photos and images and a thorough investigation into this exceedingly rare artifact.

Psychedelic rock record collectors have been repeating the name Heitkotter as if it were a mantra ever since the first copy of a hand-made demo LP turned up in a Los Angeles music publisher’s reject bin, with nothing more than that word scrawled across a plain white jacket (see it in the photos below).

The world has never heard something like Heitkotter – it is a unique piece of art unlike anything that came before or has come after it.

Now-Again Records embarked some years ago to find out more about Heitkotter’s music and his story, and in the process, visited the house where his album was recorded, found his musicians, rescued the demo-recordings that paved the way for this album, uncovered unpublished photos and paintings by the man behind the visionary album.

Stephen David Heitkotter was a Fresno, California kid who came of age in mid ’60s. He was the drummer for the Fresno garage wunderkinds the Road Runners, and even wrote a song for the band – “Pretty Me” – for one of their lauded 7-inch singles. Nobody really knows what happened after the band split up, becoming victims of the Vietnam War draft like many garage rock bands.

Stephen never made it to Vietnam – his meeting with the draft board is when he first started showing signs of mental illness. He stayed in Fresno and became a bedraggled post hippie who left the Age of Aquarius defiantly proclaiming that he would become a singer, songwriter and visual artist: Black Orckid.

The bizarre LP known as Heitkotter – recorded in around 1971 and pressed in a run of less than twenty five copies – was culmination of his artistic career. Ross Dwelle, Stephen’s childhood friend and the drummer on the record, describes the bedroom sessions in a handsome Craftsman home in Old Fresno as this young trio “trying to play five songs written by a man losing his mind … probably stoned the whole time.”

Stephen’s schizophrenia worsened in the ’70s. Towards the end of the decade, his parents – loving yet exhausted – institutionalized Stephen, and he has been the State of California’s ward ever since. His older brother William – who licensed Heitkotter for release on Now-Again – still sees his Stephen once a month, but he never mentions Heitkotter or its legend to him – Stephen himself is incapable of fathoming it in context, and it might tear him away from the fragile rope that still moors him to this earthly reality.

Heitkotter, this time issued as Black Orckid, as we assume Stephen would have wanted it – is too complicated to be written off as a symptom of a greater ill, or lionized by a few (and dismissed by the majority) as “outsider” art. It’s a rare and vital look at 60s and 70s American rock through the sad story – and incredible music – of an untethered soul. And as Now-Again shows in enlightening more of Stephen’s backstory, it can also be considered sweet, kind and optimistic. The Heitkotter tale is cautionary, but Stephen’s music is as close to the sublime as American rock has ever ventured.

Photos from the LP book showing Heitkotter’s photos, paintings, and original hand-signed album cover.

Badbadnotgood remixes Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Shame

ON SALE: BADBADNOTGOOD – III

Rappcats exclusive: BBNG has remixed Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s “Shame” and with the approval of the MC and Producer, the MP3 is included here as a bonus track.

BADBADNOTGOOD is a trio of musicians – Matthew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, and Alex Sowinski on drums. They formed at Toronto’s Humber College Music Performance program in 2011, and quickly started changing the rules of what an improvised jazz group should be, and what hip-hop music could sound like.

The group released two collections of music on the web – BBNG EP and BBNG 2 – and won praise from the four corners of the globe and collaborated with Frank Ocean, Earl Sweatshirt, MF Doom, Pharaoh Monch and RZA among many. They signed to Innovative Leisure last year, and now released their first full length of original material on III.

BBNG live this week in Europe:
Tue 6 – Boilerroom.tv
Tue 6 – Xoyo – London
Wed 7 – The Exchange – Bristol
Fri 9 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds
Sat 10 – Deaf Institute – Manchester
Mon 12 – Botanique @ Orangerie – Brussels
Tue 13 – Point Ephemere – Paris

J Dilla – Give Em What They Want

J Dilla — April 16, 2014 | Comments (10)

On saleJ DILLA – GIVE ‘EM WHAT THEY WANT

From Dilla’s long-lost (and still tangled) album The Diary, “Give ‘Em What They Want,” 12-inch on clear vinyl with five tracks produced in 2002 by J Dilla and Supa Dave West, on Pay Jay Productions.

Dilla set out in 2002 to record an album collaborating with his favorite producers, and Supa Dave West was among them. The first two vocal tracks on this record are built around the same lyrics – “Give ‘Em What They Want” produced by Dilla and “The Doe” produced by West are typical of how he would re-record a track, changing his delivery to fit another producer’s beat.

The last vocal track “So Far,” also produced by Supa Dave West, will be familiar to some fans of MP3 bootlegs. On this record, it’s mastered for the first time by Dave Cooley, who worked on Donuts, The Shining and Ruff Draft.

Thanks to James & Karla Murray for the cover photo, from their book Store Front (Ginko Press). The label illustration is by Denise Nestor, based on a photo by B+. Sleeve by Jeff Jank. This was produced for reissue by Eothen Alapatt, with coordination from House Shoes, Henoch Moore and J Rocc.

Pay Jay Productions was founded by J Dilla (James Yancey). The Estate of James Yancey is administered by attorney Alex Borden and overseen by the Probate Court of the State of California on behalf of Yancey’s four heirs – his mother, Maureen “Madukes” Yancey, his brother John “Illa J” Yancey and his two daughters, Ja’Mya Yancey and Ty-monae Whitlow.

In the seriesJ DILLA – ANTHEM | J DILLA – DIAMONDS & ICE

Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting

Now shippingDust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting

By Eilon Paz, chronicles 130 vinyl record collectors and their stacks.

Photographer Eilon Paz began “Dust & Grooves” as a pet project — Paz would photograph a collector and post shots to a blog. After five years of shooting and meeting serious record collectors around the world, Paz parlayed the project into an outstanding book with quality photos, design, and printing standards. More details.

• 416 pages covering over 130 record collections
• 12 full-length interviews with Egon, Gilles Peterson, Kieran Hebdan, Rich Medina, Gaslamp Killer, Dante Carfagna & many more.
• Forward by the RZA
• 250 full color photos

A few pages below: Eothen “Egon” Alapatt in Los Angeles. | The Bambaataa Collection – Johan Kugelberg alphabetized and organized Afrika Bambaataa’s 43,000 record collection in preparation for a move to Cornell University’s Hip-Hop History Archive, where it joins other hip-hop vinyl and artwork collections. (Cornell also hoped to archive the J Dilla record collection.) | Joe Bussard, Frederick, MD: Joe Bussard sitting in his basement with some of the rarest 78s in existence. The brown paper record jackets behind him are all uniformly discolored in the middle as a result of Joe’s hands sorting and searching through them for the past 60 years.



Watch Madlib create a beat from scratch in the matrix (sort of)

Madlib — April 9, 2014 | Comments (4)

From the gang at Noisey – What the hell goes into making a hip hop beat aside the most important part, a spark of creativity? Have you ever wanted to watch a legendary producer make a beat from scratch? We asked the beat conductor Madlib to hop on the tables, drums, and keys to create a beat right in front of our eyes, and captured it all in the video above.

Also check the photos from Noisey’s article on the Freddie Gibbs & Madlib record.

Pinata Alert – SAN FRANCISCO

Rappcats — March 27, 2014 | Comments (3)

Update: gone. | San Francisco, March 27, 4:55 PM, PST – There’s a pinata hanging in front of Groove Merchant, 687 Haight St., with a buncha 45s, Freddie & Madlib’s Piñata CD, a tour shirt, and other unnamable substances. First one to beat it open get’s the junk. Have fun, take a photo, and please clean up after yourself.

Tonight: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib play 1015 Folsom and March 28 in Los Angeles at the Echoplex.

Los Angeles Piñata
Chicago Piñata
NYC Piñata

Who shot ya? Freddie Gibbs & Madlib in NYC

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — March 25, 2014 | Comments (3)

Photos from Crook Robbins at Who Shot Ya?

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata (1964)

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — March 22, 2014 | Comments (6)

1964 original issue (imaginary) by Jeff Jank

Pinata Alert – NYC

Rappcats — March 20, 2014 | Comments (1)

Update: That one went quick | New Yory City, March 20, 2:00PM EST – There is a zebra piñata hanging from a stop sign right around 90 Wythe in Brooklyn. It contains a pass to Freddie Gibb & Madlib’s NYC show on Saturday, candy, and other mysterious objects. First person to get there and beat the thing open gets to keep whatever falls out. Have fun, take a photo, and please clean up after yourself.

The album: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — March 17, 2014 | Comments (41)

In the shop: FREDDIE GIBBS & MADLIB – PINATA | iTunes: PIÑATA

Freddie Gibbs is the product of violent, drug-laden streets, but unlike most rappers with similar resumes, he brings the block to the booth without inhibition or an exaggerated rap persona. Pinata, a 17-track collaboration with producer Madlib, is the best distillation yet of his transparent approach to making music, combining stark honesty with electrifying talent as a lyricist and performer.

Pinata is “a gangster Blaxploitation film on wax,” Gibbs says, and the full-length result of a process that began in 2009. It’s an album with a sound that couldn’t be any further from the radio, where, according to the Gibbs, every rapper is Superman, or the dope dealer of the century, who has grinded to the top, never made a mistake and has no chinks in his armor.

“I will show you my flaws, I’ll show you what I’ve done wrong and what I’ve fucked up at,” says the native of Gary, Indiana, the former steel town best known for producing Michael Jackson. “I don’t regret shit, but I’ll show you the things I’m not proud of.”

Gibbs is joined on Pinata by Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, Raekwon, Scarface, Domo Genesis, Ab-Soul and a host of others in setting his soliloquies of the streets alongside film snippets and dusted funk, soul and prog musical tapestries. While this is the latest in a series of single-artist collaborations for Madlib, after Jaylib (J Dilla), Madvillainy (MF Doom) and the street-centric O.J. Simpson with Detroit’s Guilty Simpson, the pairing is unique as it is the first time for Gibbs working with just one producer.

There’s also Madlib’s own self-awareness of his style as a producer. “My stuff, it ain’t fully quantized…it has more of a human feel, so it might slow down or speed up,” he says. “So you have to be the type of rapper, like Doom or Freddie, who can catch that, or else you’ll be sounding crazy.”

Gibbs admits it was a challenge rapping over beats with chops and changes as unpredictable as the man who created them, but says—with conviction and supreme confidence—“I think I did it to perfection.”

The perfection is apparent on the album, where Gibbs shifts from textbook lessons in robbing and drugging on tracks like “Scarface” and “Knicks,” to perhaps the album’s most personal song, “Broken,” a collaboration with Scarface, who, along with Tupac, DMX and 50 Cent, make up the rapper’s own Mount Rushmore of MCs (“You’re getting a hurricane of all those motherfuckers hitting you at once when you listen to Freddie Gibbs,” he says). “Deeper,” a Gibbs favorite and the third single from the album after “Thuggin’” (2012) and “Shame,” (2013) is an ode to hip-hop in the mold of Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”; “High,” featuring Danny Brown, is self-explanatory and just what you would expect from Gibbs, Madlib and one of Detroit’s finest; while on “Real,” Gibbs addresses an old score just as Michael Corleone settled all family business on baptism day.

It’s tracks like “Real” that makes fans believe Gibbs’ claim that “I’m about to show niggas how to rap again.” And he’s just as loyal. “As long as I keep satisfying them,” he says, “everybody else is going to fall in line.

As a producer, Madlib, quite simply, is music, and ten years into his career—a time when other artists become comfortable—Gibbs remains restless, focused, with an eye on the competition and their position relative to his ascent. This is because mentally, he’s still on the corner hustling, which would be the downfall of the average rapper. Gibbs, however, isn’t average.

“When it comes to the nuts and bolts, the nitty gritty of this shit, flat-out spitting verse for verse,” he says. “Niggas ain’t on my level.” —Ronnie Reese, January 2014

The three EPs – vinyl & digital:
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Thuggin
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Shame
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Deeper



Freddie Gibbs photo by Peter Beste

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Pinata – on tour

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — March 11, 2014 | Comments (9)

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Pinata album drops March 18. They’re doing a few shows: just played Chicago & Denver, and they hit NYC, San Francisco and L.A. this month. Thanks to Jesse Lirola for the photos! Check out the T-shirt by Mason – we’ll have this here at Rappcats at the end of the month.

March 22: New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
March 27: San Francisco, CA @ 103 Harriet
March 28: Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex

Madlib solo dates:

March 15: SXSW @ The North Day (Stones Throw Showcase)
March 21: Boston @ Middle East Downstairs
April 10: Ghent @ Vooruit
April 11: Milan at some festival or somethin’
April 17: Dublin @ Sugar Club
April 19: London – Soundcrash at Koko

Freddie solo dates up at freddiegibbs.com

Pinata Alert – CHICAGO

Rappcats — March 6, 2014 | Comments (1)

Update: zebra is toast | Chicago, March 6th, 4:40PM CST – There is a zebra piñata hanging from a monument in Grant Park by Columbia College near the corner of East 9th St & S. Michigan Ave. It contains four tickets to the Freddie Gibbs & Madlib show at Chicago’s Metro on Friday, March 7, and other mysterious objects. First person to get there and beat the piñata open gets the tickets and whatever else falls out. Have fun, take a photo, and please clean up after yourself.

The album: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

BADBADNOTGOOD – Can’t Leave The Night

BBNG — March 5, 2014 | Comments (1)

BADBADNOTGOOD are Mattew Tavares, Chester Hansen and Alex Sowinski from Toronto . We first heard them a few years ago, covering Madvillain & Doom’s “Supervillain Theme”, “Fazers” and “Vomitspit”. They’re signed to Innovative Leisure, and their new album III drops May 6. Here’s “Can’t Leave the Night” premiered this morning over at Fader.

Last year’s BBNG single: Flashing Lights | badbadnotgood.com

Pinata Alert – LOS ANGELES

Rappcats — March 3, 2014 | Comments (2)

Update with photo: the piñata got beat up at 2:25PM | Los Angeles, March 3rd, 2:10PM PST – There is a zebra piñata hanging from a tree on the west side of Echo Park Lake. It contains an advance copy of Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Piñata album, candy, and other mysterious objects. There’s a stick on the ground below the piñata. First person to get there and beat the thing open gets to keep whatever falls out. Have fun, take a photo, and please clean up after yourself.

The album: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata

Random: March 3rd

Madlib in Japan with Now-Again and a couple from Black Wax Digger.

Snoop Dogg – Cadillacs – prod. by Madlib

Madlib, Snoop Dogg — February 27, 2014 | Comments (11)

Snoop Dogg prod. by Madlib. “Cadillacs” is a track off the mixtape Thats My Work Vol. 3 hosted by DJ Drama, dropping at 4:20PM today, west coast time, February 27.

2014 Update … here’s another.

Quasimoto – Talkin Shit 45

Quasimoto — February 11, 2014 | Comments (10)

X-ray vinyl with “Planned Attack” b/w “Talkin’ Shit”

On the crime-infested east side of Lost Gates CA, there is a vinyl pressing plant whose brochure says, “will do anything for a price.” Back in the 70s & 80s, they specialized in private press porno soundtracks, but these days Madlib is their only customer.

Delivering them a couple Quasimoto tracks with a drawing or two, here’s the record they returned: a custom-shaped, half picture disc, half clear disc, with thick vinyl. One side is Quasimoto’s “Planned Attack” from the album Yessir Whatever, and the flip side is the previously unreleased “Talkin’ Shit,” a short track with Lord Quas doing what he does best. Both tracks are produced-by and featuring Madlib. Artwork by Jeff Jank.

Pictured below is the front, family-friendly side of the vinyl. The backside of the record, the “x-ray” portion, show’s Quasimoto disgusting insides.

Dilla Turn It Up T-shirt by Stussy

J Dilla — February 7, 2014 | Comments (8)

ON SALE NOW: DILLA TURN IT UP (LONG SLEEVE) | DILLA TURN IT UP (WHITE) | DILLA TURN IT UP (BLACK)

When J Dilla lived and worked in Los Angeles, he was right around the corner from the Stussy office, and it photograph of him working at home on his MPC wearing a Stussy T-shirt which kicked off this long running collaboration.

Stussy and the Estate of James Yancey have teamed up to present a commemorative J Dilla t-shirt in celebration of “Dilla Day 2014″ on February 7th, presented by Stussy & Rappcats.com. This tee is constructed of 100% soft cotton & made in Mexico. A crew neck t-shirt, which features an image of J Dilla (photo by Roger Erickson) along with Stussy graphics.

MF DOOM – OPERATION DOOMSDAY – 2/CASSETTE BOX

MF DOOM — January 15, 2014 | Comments (23)

MF DOOM – OPERATION DOOMSDAY – 2/CASSETTE BOX SET

MF DOOM’s OPERATION DOOMSDAY, independently produced and released, stripped down hip-hop in all it’s glory, came out on Bobbito’s Fondle ‘Em label in 1999, cementing the MC’s return to the scene after his early years in the group KMD.

As the story and legend goes, he’d been chewed up and spit out of the major label system, lost his brother and musical partner Subroc, he’d disappeared, he’d returned to the stage with a rocking a mask and obscured identity.

In under two years, OPERATION DOOMSDAY was already reissued on another label with an altered track list. During the time we started working with DOOM on the Madvillain record, DOOMSDAY went out of print, got bootlegged, and somewhere along the way emerged as a hip-hop classic.

DOOM’s own imprint Metalface Records finally re-issued the definitive version of the remastered album in 2011 – a CD (in a lunch box) and metal-covered 4LP set was released.

Rappcats is proud to present Metalface’s cassette edition of OPERATION DOOMSDAY, a metal box set containing two cassettes – tape 1, the original album and original cover by Lord Scotch 79 (Blake “KEO” Lethem) on the first tape; tape 2, the instrumentals, b-sides and alternate versions, along with the 2011 album cover by Jason Jagel.

42 tracks total, weighing 2LB, limited to 1200 pieces. Official Metalface Records release.

Video: Lord Scotch 79 (Blake “KEO” Lethem) talks about the creation of the MF DOOM mask at the time of OPERATION DOOMSDAY’s release in the late 1990s.

Madlib x Thundercat x Miguel Atwood-Ferguson x Gaslamp Killer

Madlib — January 1, 2014 | Comments (12)

New Years Eve: Madlib x Thundercat x Miguel Atwood-Ferguson x Gaslamp Killer, photo by Jamie Strong. Happy 2014.

Video: Madlib in the Radio France record library

Madlib — December 27, 2013 | Comments (31)

Madlib was invited to dig through the record library at Radio France during his recent trip to Paris. In this video he talks with Laura Leishman about a few of the records, and his own influences.

Photos: Beat Konducta in Paris | Thanks: Laura Leishman, Discothèque de Radio France & France Inter

Set list:
Chute Libre “Penelope au balcon” (Chute Libre, 1977)
Sun Ra “Door of the cosmos” (Sleeping Beauty, 1979)
Nathan Davis “Theme from Zoltan” (Happy Girl, 1965)
Tha Alkaholiks “Killin’ it” (Likwidation, 1997)
Melvin Van Peebles “Come on feet” (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, 1971)
Alain Goraguer “Le bracelet” (La Planète Sauvage OST, 1973)
Embryo “Radio Marrakesch / Orient Express” (Steig’ Aus, 1973)
Jay Dee “Featuring Phat Kat / Shake it down” (Welcome 2 Detroit, 2001)