Welcome to a new series where we ask some of bass music’s finest to choose five tunes from any era and in any genre that have inspired them, influenced them, and maybe even changed their lives.
I consider myself the middleman between the real L.A. b-boy foundation and the modern electronic dance movement.
Herbie Hancock “Rockit” (Columbia Records, 1983)
“When I was around 13 years old, Herbie Hancock aired a concert featuring DJ Grandmixer D.S.T. from New York. The song ‘Rockit’ by this time was already a hit and implanted in my mind as the anthem for my fellow breakdancers at school. I never got too serious about breaking, but I did practice my moves in my backyard on a piece of vinyl glued to a huge square cut of wood. When I saw D.S.T. scratching using effects and wearing new wave glasses and punk rock attire, I knew I was looking at something I definitely wanted to do, which wasn’t just scratching but creating soundscapes and taking the turntable and using it like an instrument. To this day, I still like to slow down records during some of my sets to create a rumbling effect and with effects it’s even better. This record was also what me and my DJ partner at the time, B-Fresh, would practice to. We would practice imitating D.S.T.’s scratch and we would mix doubles over and over, all day long and try to master cutting up vinyl.”
Knights of the Turntables “Techno Scratch” (JDC Records, 1984)
“This record for me took what Herbie Hancock and D.S.T. did but broke it down to the bare essentials in a way that I could relate to. No big production or engineering, just a drum machine and tons of samples and scratching via the turntable. The scratching wasn’t perfect but it was real and it sounded exactly like what me and my friends would be doing in our own bedrooms or garages. Hip-hop doesn’t always have to have rapping to convey a message; it can just be sounds, samples or FX. The message was, “Hey let’s mess around with these silly and strange sounds and scratch them.” Early b-boy techniques equaled starting from scratch.”
Breakin’ ‘n’ Enterin’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (RCP Records, 1983)
“In 1983, a documentary about the Southern California hip-hop scene aired on television. I was a little too young to actually go out to [the club] Radiotron, but I knew about it and I knew it was HQ for the real b-boys. This film showed the true foundation of the L.A. electro/hip-hop movement and the soundtrack features some of the best electro b-boy beats of all time. Super dirty, unclean mixes, straight from the bedroom-to-tape and all that grittiness that I still love in my music. Drum machines, synthesizers and vocoders doing whatever they damn well please. Little did I know that a few years after this I would meet Ice-T at a Zulu Nation meeting and give him a ride back to his apartment which had walls covered with gold award winning vinyl releases. I would DJ for Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E., Kurtis Blow and Mix Master Spade. I consider myself the middleman between the real L.A. b-boy foundation and the modern electronic dance movement. This soundtrack is the sound of my subconscious. Anyone that’s ever hung out with me knows I’m always doing electro beats with my hands or mouth. I’ve been programmed!”
The Scientist “Exorcist” (Kickin’ Records, 1990)
“I could go on and on about electro records, as those records are what shaped my sound for the years between 1982 and 1989. During that time I was making my own style of electro beats with a Synsonics drum machine, a Yamaha drum machine, a delay pedal, and a four-track cassette deck. After those electro years I began to play house music and dance music at 18+ clubs. Around 1990, a friend of mine introduced me to import techno vinyl! SAY WHUTTT? A whole new section of the record shop to dig in? YES! Lucky for me instead of showing me the pure techno stuff, my friend would play for me breakbeat techno and one label for me at the time stood out: KICKIN’ RECORDS! With releases like “The Exorcist” and “The Bee,” this label blended the breaks I already knew with big subs and catchy, bleepy synths. I was hooked; the freedom to mix into the next track at any time to me was fresh and new as I was used to waiting for the verse of a song to end and then I would mix. Soon I had hundreds of UK and Belgium imports in my vinyl collection and I prized them so much I numbered them like they were archaeological finds!”
R.A.W + E-Sassin “Soundstorm” (Sound Sphere, 1997)
“Even though I’d been producing music at home for years I never got too serious about it, but in the summer of ’97 I drove up to E-Sassin’s home studio to “work on a track.” Little did we know that we would knock out an amen masterpiece that to this day can still drop down hard on a crowd and take them for a five-minute ride into junglist heaven.
“In the intro, I had Eric [E-Sassin] record me playing an ambient record really slow while he added reverb to it giving it a spooky dungeon effect. Eric chopped up a breakbeat for the intro and for the breakdown I took the original amen break and gradually slowed it down. Eric sampled it and extended the crash cymbal leading straight into the amen rinse out. We had so much fun chopping up that break trying to find new ways of manipulating it. Eric as a producer is very particular and doesn’t play games. He’s a perfectionist, which is good for me because I’m not. I like error and dirty clicks and over-driven signals. This track combines both of our approaches to music, thereby creating a true L.A. jungle classic.
“This record just keeps getting better as the years go on. So many die-hard jungle DJs still drop it to this day. I’ve signed so many copies of it, it’s dumb! And guess what? This year the Soundstorm Remixes are dropping via E-Sassin’s label Sound Sphere! My 2015 remix of “Soundstorm” is an updated version of the original where I go to the extremes with the choppage—verging on breakcore—but to me this is the end result of breakbeat studies; the dead end where you can’t voyage any further in experimentation because your only options would be to blow the entire studio up into shreds! Real future junglism, and it isn’t pretty!”