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.
Intro. Beat by DJ Desue (Barber Shop Emcess…”Music, Money and Women”)
Yes. J-Live, produced by Emmai Allaqueva
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.