"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Borough to Borough

Around this time 13 years ago I got together with my friend Alan to make a mix cd of the rap records that has been released that year. A rash of good hip hop records came out in 2000, from major label and underground artists alike. There were joints from name brands like Jay Z, Snoop, Dre, Eminem, Ghostface, MOP, Common, Xzibit, Wu, Outkast, and De La Soul. The veterans were still heard–Biz, Phife and Sadat X. But some of the records I liked most were from so-called underground artists like J-Live, Quasimoto, Dialated Peoples, Kid Koala, Slum Village, Cali Agents, Rah Digga, Encore, and The Nextmen.

Alan and I had known each other for a few years and always talked about doing something together. Alan was a record nut and an engineer. He’d programmed drums for Tori Amos, Madonna, and C&C Music Factory. Worked with Francois Kevorkian and Steinski.

Alan was a whiz at Pro Tools, a professional audio editing program. It was a chance for me to make a dream mix because of what Alan could do technically. I figured we’d make a little cd that I could give to friends for the holidays.

Alan lived in Midwood, Brooklyn, I lived in Carroll Gardens. I’d go over to his place with my records and video tapes. What started as a quick project turned into something more substantial. Four months and more than 120 studio hours later we produced an album-length mix cd we called “Borough to Borough.” (By the time we finished I’d moved to the Bronx.)

After each session, Alan burned a cd of what we’d done. I’d take it with me, listen to it for days, make notes, and the next time we saw each other, we’d make corrections before moving on to the next track. We shared similar sensibilities so there was an easy shorthand between us–remember that Bugs Bunny cartoon when?, what about that George Carlin line? Still, it was the first time I ever truly collaborated with someone. I learned that I couldn’t always have my way. Sometimes, I had to let Alan show off like when he reprogrammed the drum pattern on a Jurassic 5 record because there was no place on the instrumental where the drums were in the clear. And I was always happy to let him do his thing because it sounded great but also because I admire watching a craftsman at work.

If the project was a fantasy come true for me, it was liberating for Alan. He could play and do anything he wanted to do; he wasn’t just a hired hand. So we played and played, and honed the sombitch until we were satisfied. Then we packaged it and sold it and even got reviewed in a few British music magazines.

So here you have it. An audio collage, featuring rhymes, scratching, dope production and a host of spoken word and movie clips. You’ll recognize the voices of Fred Gwynne, Jack Nicholson, Elliott Gould, George Carlin, Marv Albert, Bill Murray, Frank Oz, Holly Hunter, Steve Martin, Elaine May, Walter Matthau, Al Pacino, Jack Palance, Joe Pesci, Goose Gossage, Richard Pryor, Mel Blanc, John Sterling, Mel Brooks, Bill Cosby, Earl Weaver, Nicholas Cage, Jackie Gleason, Chris Russo, Mark Rydell, Albert Brooks, Michelle Pfieffer, Gabe Kaplan, Mike Tyson, Robert De Niro, Orson Welles, John Turturro, Art Carney and Fat Clemenza.


Track Listing:

Intro. Beat by DJ Desue (Barber Shop Emcess…”Music, Money and Women”)

Yes. J-Live, produced by Emmai Allaqueva

Hotshit. Nextman

Tour Guide. People Under the Stairs

I Don’t Know. Slum Village

Crookie Monster. Produced by the Alchemist

Oooh. De La Soul

Dew It. Biz Markie. Produced by Ill Chemist/Al D

What’s Up Fatlip? Fatlip

Microphone Mathmatics. Madlib

Lyrical Fluctuation. Jigmastas, beat by DJ Spinna

Service. Dialated Peoples. Cuts by Babu

Take Over. Joey Chavez. Cuts by DJ Revolution

Any Champion. Pacewon. Cuts by DJ Revolution.

Worldwide. Defari. Beats by Joey Chavez

Love/Hate. Encore. Beat by Nextmen

Rhymes. Get Open featuring Sadat X

Nasty or Nice. Beat by Y@k Ballz

Lesson of Today. Rah Digga. Produced by DJ Premier

Rockaparty. J B Lee. Produced by Ill Chemist, Al D

Loop Diggin’. Madlib

Ass Finish First. Beat by DJ Nu-Mark

J-Liveness: Produced by Pete Rock

Players/Fall in Love. Slum Village

Barhopper. Kid Koala

Just One More Thing. People Under the Stairs

Them That’s Not. J-Live

Nighty Night. Beat by Madlib

Picture of me in Gravesend, Brooklyn with Sammy’s 62 Dominican Republic shirt from the ’98 season and Nathan’s cup of soda. Picture by Alan Friedman.


1 Dimelo   ~  Aug 26, 2013 12:59 pm

Dopeness Alex!

2 monkeypants   ~  Aug 26, 2013 1:06 pm

What a renegade, flashing that almost illegal soda cup...

3 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 26, 2013 1:12 pm

1) Thanks, man. We put a ton of work into it and I think it really holds up. One of the things I'm most proud of ever creating.

4 Bluenatic   ~  Aug 26, 2013 1:28 pm

This is dope. "Lyrical Fluctuation" is actually a Jigmastas (DJ Spinna & MC Kriminul) joint featuring guest verses by Pharoahe Monch, Mr. Complex, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Talib Kweli. Great song.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 26, 2013 1:29 pm

4) Right. Good call. Who'd a thunk it'd sound so good with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton?

6 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 26, 2013 1:57 pm

the Honeymooners/Raging Bull montage before Fatlip is great. That's some very serious editing.
Nice job, fellers.

7 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 26, 2013 2:22 pm

6) Ha, thanks. That one took forever. The second half of the montage, after Ralph finally erupts with "Blabbermouth!" is from J-Zone's record, so we didn't do anything with that, but the first part, with "Raging Bull" and "The Honeymooners," "Broadway Danny Rose" and "Midnight Run" was us. It wasn't the editing or the placement of the clips that took so much time but futzing with the audio levels, especially of "The Honeymooners" stuff because it came from a cruddy VHS tape and the sound was horrible.

8 The Hawk   ~  Aug 26, 2013 3:42 pm


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver