JOVM celebrates Snoop Dogg’s 49th birthday.
Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, Steve Arrington got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for singing lead vocals on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of professional success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.
As Arrington focused on the spiritual matters, an impressive and eclectic array of artists have been influenced by his work, with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.
After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Since then the Dayton-born and-based funk legend has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots and collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.
The funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is slated for a Friday release through Stones Throw Records, and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God, while casting an easygoing yet razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about two of the album’s previously released singles: the slow-burning Quiet Storm-like pimp strut “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a song that offered prescriptive advice for listeners in a time of heightened anxiety, uncertainty, stress and despair — and proud and defiantly hopeful and shimmering “Make a Difference,” which reminds the listener that while we have achieved so much, we still have a lot of hard work to do to achieve Martin Luther King’s and John Lewis’ vision of America.
“The Joys of Love,” Down to the Lowest Terms’ fourth and latest single is a shimmering, neo-soul strut, centered around twinkling Rhodes, boom bap-like drumming, an infectious two step-inducing hook and Arrington’s imitable crooning. Considering the bleak and unending Kafkaesque hellscape that is our current world, this song is frankly a much-needed blast of spiritual uplift.
Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.
An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s work with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J,Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.
After nearly two decades away, Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.
Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo full-length album in 11 years, and the album. which is slated for a September 18. 2020 release though Stones Throw Records reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on notes world around him. Last month, I wrote about the album’s second single “Soulful I Need That In My Life,” a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar and Arrington’s sultry crooning. And while bearing a resemblance to his work in Slave, the song offered some advice for listeners in a time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” slow down and take it easy.
Produced by DJ Harrison, “Make a Difference,” Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions’ third and latest single continues a run of strutting and sinuous pimp struts featuring a a shimmering arrangement of twinkling and reverb-drenched Rhodes, a sinuous bass line, sunny horn lines and a stuttering boom-bap like beat. But unlike its immediate predecessor, the track is centered by a proud and defiantly hopeful message: at its core, the song reminds us that although we haven’t quite achieved Martin’s promised land yet, we’ve made a lot of progress towards that — and we can’t let that go. That bright and glorious future is coming and we all need to work our asses off to get there.
“Make a Difference” address “the current state of things in this country,” Arrington says. “As far as the racial tensions . . . so much of it is being promoted by politicians with agendas. And you have moments like Black Lives Matter, and different races coming together to say: ‘We’re not going back. We’re not stepping back into the forties and fifties.’ This song speaks to that. The great John Lewis — the message that he left for all of us, to understand and move forward, not making a difference for a few months, but a lifetime of living.”
Steve Arrington is a Dayton, OH-born and-based singer/songwriter and drummer, who got his start with the acclaimed Dayton-based funk and soul act Slave in the 70s, eventually becoming best known for being the lead singer on the act’s smash hits “Watching You,” and “Just a Touch of Love.” Continuing an incredible run of success, Arrington went solo, releasing a handful of albums before leaving the secular music world in 1991 to focus on spiritual and ministerial work.
An impressive and eclectic array of artists have drawn influence from Arrington’s with artists like Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Pharrell, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mariah Carey, N.W.A. and a lengthy list of others sampling his work in Slave and as a solo artist.
Arrington returned to secular music in 2009 with the release of that year’s Pure Thang, which he followed up with 2013’s collaborative album with Dam-Funk, Higher, released through Stones Throw Records. Additionally during the past decade, the Dayton-born and-based has had a number of attention-grabbing guest spots with the aforementioned Snoop Dogg, Kool Moe Dee, George Clinton, and Thundercat.
Slated for a September 18, 2020 release through Stones Throw Records, Down To The Lowest Terms: The Soul Sessions is the funk legend’s first solo album in 11 years — and the album reportedly sees Arrington finding peace with himself and God while casting an easygoing but still razor-sharp critical eye on the world around him. The album’s second and latest single “Soulful I Need That In My Life” is a slow-burning, Quiet Storm-like pimp strut centered around twinkling and gurgling synths, a sinuous bass line, plucked bursts of guitar, and Arrington’s imitable crooning. While bearing a resemblance to Arrington’s famous work in Slave, the song offers prescriptive advice for listeners in at time of uncertainty, stress and despair — “downshift,” and slow it down. “Some nice, soulful music is going to bring some peace to this time of trouble and stress,” the funk legend says in press notes. And you know what? I suspect he’s right.
Created by Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf and Jamma D, “Soulful I Need That In My Life” the song can trace its origins to when the song’s producer Jamma D ran into Wolf at the label’s Gold Line Bar during the early states of the album. Wolf invited Jamma D to share some beats. And after sending a bunch of beats over, Jamma was surprised to hear that the funk legend wanted to use a beat for the album.“A few months after that I was behind the board in a studio watching Steve in the booth write, record, and ad-lib the entire jam in about 3 hours.” Jamma D says. “It was the pleasure of a lifetime to bear witness to the funk in its purest undiluted form, the INVADE is upon you!”
Musings: A Decade of JOVM
I started this site 10 years ago today. . .
There aren’t many things in my life that I’ve done for every single day for a decade that I’ve loved as much as this very unique little corner of the blogosphere. When I started this site, I didn’t — and couldn’t — imagine actually having readers, let alone readers across the US, Canada, the UK, the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. After all, this sort of work is deeply rewarding and yet strangely isolating.
I couldn’t have imagined the over 1,000 shows I’ve covered all across the New York Metropolitan area. I definitely couldn’t have imagined it being possible for be to cover shows for JOVM in Chicago while on a business trip for a day job; nor would I have dreamed of the possibility of covering M for Montreal last fall.
I couldn’t have imagined being a panelist on a Mondo.NYC Festival panel on PR and promotion for indie artists.
I couldn’t have imagined having a cameo in a JOVM mainstay’s video several years ago. (It’s a noticeable and prominent spot towards the end of the video, too. No one has called me up for acting gigs, so I may need more work on that. Or I need to stick to the writing and photography!)
I couldn’t have imagined photographing Patti LaBelle, Snoop Dogg, Charles Bradley Sharon Jones, Nile Rodgers, Roky Erickson, Philip Bailey and so many others, as well as this site’s countless mainstays.
What will the next decade hold? I don’t know. If you asked me that question last November, I’d probably discuss my the very real possibility of repeated visits to Canada for festivals like Canadian Music Week, Montreal Jazz Fest and M for Montreal — with the hopes of building a deeper Canadian audience. I’d talk about my interest in music from across the African Diaspora. I’d spend time talking about my interest in covering acts outside the US. I’d also speak about my interest in wanting to cover more artists across the diverse LGQBTIA+ community — particularly those of color. I’d probably also mention my deep and abiding interest in covering women artists and women led acts.
Live music won’t be a thing for quite some time to come. And whenever it does, the landscape will be different — and something we’ve yet to envision. So far, beloved venues have been forced to close because of economics. That will continue for the foreseeable future. What will happen to bands, who no longer have a place to play, where they can hone their sound and their live show? Who knows? After watching an industry-based panel, I don’t feel particularly optimistic about things in the short term. Some of us will figure out a way to adapt and survive; others sadly, won’t.
But in the meantime, JOVM will continue. It’s only the first decade, as far as I’m concerned!
I also wanted to talk a bit about some of my favorite albums of the past decade. This is by no means a comprehensive list; but I think that they might give some insight into the inner world of JOVM. And
Montreal-based DJ, production and electronic music artist duo The Beat Escape — Addy Weitzman and Patrick A. Boivin — can trace the project’s origins back to a short film they collaborated on when they were both in college. “We made a short oddball work; a video piece that followed two characters through a psychedelic waking dream,” the Montreal-based said of their initial collaboration together in press notes. Interestingly, since that collaboration, Weitzman and Boivin have continued working together on a series of creative endeavors that have combined their interests in music and visual art, including a lengthy local DJ gig, which eventually led to the creation of The Beat Escape.
Released in early 2018, the Montreal-based duo’s full-length debut Life Is Short The Answer’s Long thematically and sonically found the duo returning to their origins — somnambulant, atmospheric art that feels like a half-remembered waking dream. Personally, the album’s material evokes a weird two-and-year period of international and domestic travel, in which I’d wake up in a hotel room and briefly wonder where I was, what time zone I was in and if I was even in the right place. Additionally, it evokes that weird sensation of everything being the fundamentally the same, yet different. If I’m in Grand Central Terminal, I think of Frankfurt-am-Main Hauptbahnhof and of Amsterdam Centraal Station. If I’m traveling underneath an elevated train, I’m reminded of the Chicago loop and so on.
I obsessively played Life Is Short The Answer’s Short through my time in Montreal. And now whenever I play it, I can picture specific locations, specific paths I took to get there, certain Metro stations with an uncanny precision.
Throughout the course of the site’s decade history, I’ve written quite a bit about Superhuman Happiness. The act has managed to survive through a number of different lineup changes and sonic departures necessitated by those lineup changes — and from the act’s core members following wherever their muses took them, Hands though is a joyous, mischievous yet deeply intelligent work that will make you shout and dance. Considering the bleakness of our world, this album may be much more needed than they ever anticipated.
Deriving their name from a Vladimir Nabokov short story about a traveler, who finds a place so beautiful that he wants to spend his life then but who cruelly gets dragged back to brutal reality, the Dublin, Ireland-based act Cloud Castle Lake — currently Daniel McAuley (vocals, synths), Brendan William Jenkinson (guitar, piano), Rory O’Connor (bass), Brendan Doherty (drums), and a rotating cast of collaborators, friends and associates — received attention with 2014’s self-released debut EP Dandelion, an effort that firmly established the act’s uniquely sound: deeply influenced by and indebted to Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders, the Irish act pairs McAuley’s tender and soaring falsetto with cinematic arrangements and expansive song structur es.
Released in 2018, the act’s Rob Kirwan-produced debut Malingerer is an ambitious, challenging and breathtakingly beautiful work that’s part film score and part cosmic meditation, full of aching yearning.
Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan — Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar) — have one of the most unique and perhaps most 21st Century backstories of any band I’ve ever written about: four of the band’s five members emigrated to Sweden from South America with the remaining member being the band’s only native Swede. With the release of their debut album, 2015’s Caballo Negro, the members of Sudakistan received attention across Scandinavia and elsewhere for crafting material that draws from Latin-tinged garage punk rock with lyrics sung in English, Spanish and Swedish. Interestingly, the alum is arguably hardest and most mosh pit friendly of the band’s albums to date, the album’s material found the band expanding their sound through the incorporation of non-traditional punk rock instruments — seemingly inspired by the band’s desire to make each of their individual roles to be much more fluid. . “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” the band’s Michell Serrano explains in press notes. . “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”
Additionally, the album’s lyrical and thematic concerns draws from the band members’ everyday reality with each individual member contributing lyrical ideas. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.
The album’s material resonates in an age of divisiveness, xenophobia, fear mongering and strife because its an urgent and passionate reminder of what’s possible with cultural exchange, empathy and curiosity — bold new ideas, new takes on the familiar, as well as equality for all with everyone’s story behind heard, understood and championed. One day that will happen but we will have to work our asses off to get there.
Throughout this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. And as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky, slinky produced and crowd-pleasing remixes and mashups of classic soul, funk. hip-hop and New Wave.
Over the past few months, Rhythm Scholar has released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and a propulsive, house music-leaning remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.” Interestingly, the New York-based mainstay’s latest remix finds him creating a swaggering and strutting 70s soul and funk-inspired mashup of Warren G.’s and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate” that features loving homages to Edwin Starr, The Blackbyrds, Kurtis Blow, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, some explosive scratching and an extensive nod at Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition” — all while retaining the noir-ish feel of the original.
Throughout the course of this site’s nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink over the ridiculously prolific, New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. The New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for funky and slickly produced, crowd-pleasing mashups of classic soul, funk, hip-hop and New Wave.
Last month, Rhythm Scholar released a kaleidoscopic remix of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Interestingly, the longtime JOVM mainstay returns with a propulsive, house music-influenced remix of one of my favorite Tears for Fears tracks “Head Over Heels.”The Rhythm Scholar remix pushes the tempo up towards the club friendly area, while still retaining the song’s familiar and beloved melody, and urgently swooning quality. Interestingly, the remix does two very important things: it reminds listeners that well-crafted and well-written songs manage to stand up to the test of time — and provides a unique and modern take on a smash hit that most of us intimately know.
Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink on the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. Now, as you may recall, the New York-based JOVM mainstay has received attention from this site and elsewhere for a slickly produced, funky, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul, hip-hop and New Wave. Interestingly, over the past year or so, Rhythm Scholar has enlisted a backing band featuring frequent collaborators Jason Spillman (bass) and Marcus Horndt (Rhodes) and Big Once (turntables), all of whom have helped the JOVM mainstay move towards an increasingly organic take on his work.
Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him taking on Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams‘ smash hit collaboration “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” And while retaining Snoop’s imitable and effortlessly smooth flow, the JOVM’s mainstay’s kaleidoscopic remix recalls both Dr. Dre-inspired G Funk-era production and cinematic 70s soul, as the track feature samples from four classic blaxploitation films, 1973’s The Mack, 1973’s Magnum Force, 1975’s Rollerball and 1976’s Car Wash and is centered around twinkling Rhodes, a propulsive, disco-like bass line, fluttering electronics, congos and some much-needed, old school turntablism. Simply put, it’s a lysergic yet funky strutting take on a beloved banger.
Born in the early 70s, the Pasadena, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer Damon Garrett Riddick, best known as JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk came of age during the heyday of acts like Uncle Jamm’s Army and Egyptian Lover, two of the area’s pioneers of electro hip-hop and what would become West Coast hip-hop — and of course, the legendary Prince.
Riddick’s parents encouraged and nurtured his interest in music: he learned drums and then drum machine. A chance encounter led to an apprenticeship under funk songwriter/producer Leon Sylvers III, and by the mid-90s, the height of West Coast, G-funk hip-hop, Riddick was a highly-sought, local session musician, playing on tracks by Mack 10 and MC Eiht. “Everybody was trying to do the live instrumentation thing, so then you got cats like me playing on records,” Dam-Funk explained on his Stones Throw Records artist bio.
Sideman status wasn’t enough for him though. While watching gold plaques be handed out to everyone but him, Riddick decided that it was time to go “full-funk” and make a do-or-die try to become an artist on his own terms. In 2006, he and a few friends launched the popular Funkmosphere party. Around then, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer caught the attention of Stones Throw Records. Unsurprisingly, the label related to Riddick’s insistence that funk needed to be saved from cartoonish and devilish caricature — and that funk was a way of life.
Stones Throw Records released his first two full-length albums — 2009’s Toeachizown and 2015’s Invite the Light, as well as a compilation of his early production, 2010’s Adolescent Funk. 2013 was a big year for the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay — his collaboration with Steve Arrington Higher was released that year, and he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in the funk and hip-hop act 7 Days of Funk, who also released their debut album that year.
Each of those releases helped to establish Dam-Funk’s signature sound and aesthetic — synth-based funk that draws from G-Funk era hip-hop and 80s synth funk. However, over the past couple of years, Riddick has been experimenting with the warmer sides of deep house and techno with material released through his own imprint Glydezone Recordings while spending time DJ’ing, and working on remixes and mixes.
Slated for release next week through his own label, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming effort STFU II while being a follow-up to last year’s Architecture II is reportedly a gradual return to his old-school funk roots — and a long-awaited sequel to 2015’s free all-instrumental EP STFU. Now, as you may recall, clocking in at over 7 minutes, the EP’s first track, the strutting EP closer “On Code.” Centered by tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated bass synths, keytar and atmospheric electronics that gave the affair a subtle cosmic glow.
“Compos Mentis,” the EP’s second and latest single is centered around a lush and jazz-tinged funk arrangement featuring arpeggiated bass synths, atmospheric electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and twinkling keys — and much like its immediate predecessor, the track possesses a similar, subtle cosmic glow and an deep melodic sensibility.