The New, The Old & The Dusty

A series dedicated to hits and deep cuts from today, years back, and joints so old only your parents might know ‘em.

Sada Baby from the music video for “Slide”

Sada Baby — Slide (2020)

To understand Sada Baby you don’t need to understand Detroit and how it’s become the new hotbed of hip-hop talent the past 24 months. You don’t need to know that it’s a scene full of piano stabs, run on sentences for flows, low brow comedy, constant YouTube videos, and 2 sizes to tight denim. But to understand Detroit you have to know Sada Baby. The high energy dreadhead has been the most exciting rapper in the new wave of Michigan spitters, popping off into the collective consciousness after the release of the already classic “Bloxk Party” with Drego. Instead of following the formula of high BPM beats and long single verse songs, Sada continues to experiment. Replacing Gap Bands classic lyrics on “You Dropped A Bomb On Me” with raps, mumbles and double entendre dance instructions, Sada finds new ways to threaten everyone he’s ever had a problem with. Over the reimagined 70’s staples song structure becomes moot to Baby. When trying to follow along to the ever bending and overlapping flows that the MC has been sharpening for years you’re brough down a rabbit hole of guns jokes and Looney Tune level violence. Reading the lyrics one by one without context you’d assume Sada Baby to be a brooding body builder ready for war at any moment, yet in the video you see a beard donning dancing bear (shoutout Baloo the OG dancing bear) who seems more interested in sipping from any cup in sight rather then inciting violence. In that is the exact draw to Sada Baby and Detroit as a whole. No matter how over the top violent these guys seem, they just want to party and enjoy the new lives they’ve worked tirelessly through sleet and snow to attain.

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Questlove & Pharrell circa 2014

Pharrell & The Yessirs Feat. Jamie Callum — You Can Do It Too (Remix) (2007)

Tyler The Creator won his first Grammy as a lead artist at this year’s Grammy awards, and a notable shoutout was used as the bookmark to end his speaking time. After thanks to his mother and his ride or die best friend in Jasper, he shouted out not only his hero, but inspiration and friend in Pharrell Williams. In this record (a Questlove remix of a deep cut from Skateboard P’s debut album In My Mind which can be found on the full fledged classic remix album Out Of My Mind) P talks directly to the next generation of artists, one even being a young Tyler. Sliding in and out of Quest’s live drumming and string arrangements, Pharrell and singer Jamie Callum paint a picture of motivation, individuality, and self love in a way that was rare of it’s era. Much of 2006 was dominated by Lil Jon, Ludacris and Yung Dro (along with Neptune assisted hits) which makes song lyrics like this one more poignant. No one can describe a chain or grill better than the Virginia native, yet he takes the time to reflect and tell about the dream-like world he now resides thanks to trusting his ideas and individuality. As mixed as the backstage acceptance speech was in who deserves what awards and who he is as an artist and a black man, the on air one gave thanks to the mold in which Tyler has emulated for over a decade and the man who wrote this powerful piece.

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Fela Kuti in the mid-70's

Fela Kuti & Roy Ayers — Africa Centre Of The World (1980)

In the late 70’s Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers were on the opposite side of the musical spectrum. Roy was an R&B/Disco star that bounced from coast to coast, flying high off his past catalogue of calming and futuristic jazz tunes, while Fela and his army of bandmates and wives were creating hyper-political jam sessions ala James Brown in the birthplace of mankind. Two different artists, who came together through respect of the others craft and a want to spread a message to the world. Now back in stores thanks to the most recent Record Store Day collection of reissues, this EP, one side being lead by Fela and the other by Roy Ayers, features both meshing seamlessly with one another. A slow build of sounds on the Fela lead B-side gives the vision of a village waking up in the early warm morning, while Ayers’ vibraphone slides in almost unassuming alongside the speedy hi hats and funk bass that guides this record, meshing in with Kuti’s choir of wives and cohorts. They yell out phrases requesting enlightenment and attention to Africa, evaporating away only to be replaced by screeching horns and the voice of Fela himself . Nearly 40 years later, this freeform odyssey of a record is as mind melting as anything since, and with a power radiating over it that is nearly unmatched today.

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