Thursday, February 28, 2008

Artist Influence Central #2


The artists that I would like to profile this week make up the group Loose Ends. Loose Ends definitely were ahead of their time in that there music served as a prequel to what we now call "Neo-Soul". I can remember jammin' their songs, "Hanging On A String", "Slow Down" and "Mr. Bachelor" in my little jam box.

One of the top British dance and urban contemporary trios in the early '80s, Loose Ends formed in London. They were originally called Loose End, and included Carl McIntosh, Jane Eugene, and Steve Nichol. Virgin signed them in 1981, and their debut was written by Chris and Eddie Amoo of the Real Thing. The group changed its name to Loose Ends in 1983, and signed with MCA in America in 1984. Their single "Hanging on a String (Contemplating)" topped the R&B charts in 1985, and they repeated that achievement in 1986 with "Slow Down." Their last hit was "Watching You" in 1988, which reached number two. The group shuffled its lineup in 1990 for the release of Look How Long, with McIntosh now joined by Linda Carriere and Sunay Suleyman. McIntosh also produced several artists, notably Caron Wheeler.

A good friend of mine, Lost Soul put this mix out a couple of years ago and I just fell in love with the mix. Good stuff Los!!! Please find attached Lost Soul's mix.

Ends Loose (Circa '05) - Lost Soul

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Beat Central #2


As you all already know, I have been trying to master my craft in beat-making. I have really surprised myself in that, I have really learned a lot in such a short time. Lately, I have been working on incorporating more keys to my tracks to give them a fuller sound. I have also been receiving great response.....shout out to all of the people who gave me good feedback.

Anyways, I was listening to a couple of classic tracks and one in particular caught my attention. The song that I am speaking of is Burt Backarach's "Look Of Love". Released in the 60's, this songs has been remixed and redone many times from various artists including Isaac Hayes, Diana Krall and my favorite, J-Dilla.

Well, I decided to put my twist on it. Check a remake by Dusty Springfield then check out my version.


Dusty Springfield - Look Of Love

J-Finesse - Look Of Love

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Man Behind Run DMC!!!


Remember when you were doing dances like "The Prep", "The Roger Rabbit" and "The Running Man". You ever wonder what people were behind all of those sampled rap classics? Well, I really did. The funny thing is that I really didn't read liner notes until De La Soul and Biz Markie were both sued over illegal sample use. Anyways, I wanted to talk about a guy who could be considered as "Blue-Eyed Soul". The person I am speaking of is Bob James.

Bob James' recordings have practically defined pop/jazz and crossover during the past few decades. Very influenced by pop and movie music, James has often featured R&B-ish soloists (most notably Grover Washington, Jr.) who add a jazz touch to what is essentially an instrumental pop set. He actually started out in music going with a much different direction. In 1962, James recorded a bop-ish trio set for Mercury, and three years later his album for ESP was quite avant-garde, with electronic tapes used for effects. After a period with Sarah Vaughan (1965-1968), he became a studio musician, and by 1973 was arranging and working as a producer for CTI. In 1974, James recorded his first purely commercial effort as a leader; he later made big-selling albums for his own Tappan Zee label, Columbia, and Warner Bros., including collaborations with Earl Klugh and David Sanborn. James remains relatively busy in the studio and since 2000 has released several albums including Dancing on the Water in 2001, That Steamin' Feelin' in 2002, Hi-Fi in 2003, and Urban Flamingo in 2006, among others.

For all of those Hip-Hop heads out there, think back to 1986-1987 when the famous rap group, Run DMC crossed over into mainstream and became a weekly favorite on MTV. The album was called "Raising Hell" and everybody had that album. The hit single, "Walk This Way" propelled the group to platinum status, but it was a cut, "Peter Piper" that set the clubs on fire. Released as a 12inch single, "Peter Piper" instantly became a classic party rocker. Oddly enough, I didn't realize that the song was a sample until I was in college.....go figure. Anyways, the man behind the classic song was none other than, Bob James.

Run DMC cleverly took advantage and used the beat before anyone else did. The name of the song is called "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" which can be found on Bob James album, "Tw0".
"Take Me To The Mardi Gras" has everything that you need to start your Mardi Gras off just right. Interestingly, the song was used as a backdrop to many New Orleans, Bounce Music tracks. Put on "Peter Piper", and you would definitely get a warm reaction from not just the guys, but THE GIRLS. (EVER HEARD OF P-POPPIN). Last factoid about "Take Me To The Mardi Gras" is that Paul Simon wrote the song.
Below find both classics for your listening pleasures!!!

Take Me To The Mardi Gras - Bob James

Peter Piper - Run DMC

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Millenium Falcon Has Landed!!! (Beat Central)

On my last blog posting with Patrice Rushen, I showcased a beat that I did and I received great reviews on it. Well gang, I present to you a new section call BEAT CENTRAL. These blogs will showcase my talents in beatmaking capabilities. I encourage everyone to comment on my beats and let me know what your thoughts are....positive or negative....just be honest.

Here is a beat that I did a couple of weeks ago.

I hope you all enjoy.

Artist Influence Central!!!

Hello world. Just wanted to check in with you all and I hope that all is well. A couple of days ago, I said to myself that I wanted to start a blog section that spotlights artists that have influenced me as an artist in my own right. I decided to call it ARTIST INFLUENCE CENTRAL. AIC, will be updated every week and will spotlight an artist that may have been major or minor in the industry, but the impact was tremendous. As such, I decided to start with a wonderful woman in jazz/r&b. She goes by the name of Patrice Rushen. An artist who not only influenced myself, but hip-hop and r&b.

Born September 30,1954, in Los Angeles, CA, Rushen's parents enrolled her in music classes at U.S.C. when she was three. In her teens, she won a solo competition at the 1972 Monterey Jazz Festival. The attention garnered from this earned her a contract with Prestige Records. After recording three albums and becoming an in-demand session player, Rushen signed with Elektra Records in 1978. Forging an engaging jazz/R&B/funk fusion, she regularly hit the R&B charts. Her five albums for the label were Patrice, Pizzazz, Posh, Straight From the Heart, and Now. Some of these sides can be found on Haven't You Heard:The Best of Patrice Rushen. In 1993, Rushen signed with Disney's Hollywood Records. Her first and only release was the excellent Anything but Ordinary, which yielded the inspiring single "My Heart, Your Heart." Hollywood wasn't satisfied with the album and shelved it. Sindrome Records bought the rights to the album and reissued it with the single, and some LP tracks received airplay on R&B and smooth jazz radio stations. Rushen became a member of the jazz collective the Meeting, appearing on several releases. Her busy schedule includes session dates and being the musical director for several different tours and TV specials. 1997's Signature found Rushen returning to her jazz roots for this solid album of instrumentals. In fall 2000, Patrice Rushen appeared as a part of Sisters Being Positively Real, an act on Brown Baby Entertainment Group.

One of my favorite cuts by Patrice Rushen is "Remind Me" found on the "Straight From The Heart" LP. I first heard it back in 1982 and I am still loving it to this day.

As a bonus, attached is a beat that I did in my studio paying homage to Patrice in my own way. I call this song simply, "PATRICE". Check it out!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thank You God for the late '80s and early '90s!!!

Boy, do I remember the days of Cosby Show, A Different World, Video Soul, Video LP, Rap City w/ Chris Thomas "The Mayor", School Daze, House Party, Boyz N The Hood & of course, New Jack City. The years '87-'92 were great years for music as well. Fashion was say the least. It was around this time that I found a love for DJing, barbering, and girls. I guess you could say that the movie, The Wood would sum everything up for me.

In regards to R&B, the music scene was transitioning from the big band sound as well as moving away from the synthesizer, pop-keyboard sound. Most of the urban sound was becoming younger and edgier with the help of a technique called sampling and the introduction to the SP 1200 and MPC 60 and MPC 60II.

Many new faces began to emerge as talented multi-million selling artists that commanded the radio and t.v. with the help of the music video.

For me, these years served as inspiration and also began the descension of my then-perfect G.P.A. Not saying that music had a negative affect on me, but forced me to realize other talents that were suppressed and ready to be released.

Attached is a recent mix that reflects the feelings and thoughts that I had as a 12 year old beginning DJ.

To all of the artists that made an impact on me during this time period, thank you so much.


New Jack Swing '08

Don't Wanna Fall In Love - Jane Child ('90)

Why You Gettin' Funky On Me - Today ('90)

Is It Good To You - Heavy D & The Boyz ('92)

Something Just Ain't Right - Keith Sweat ('88)

New Jack Swing - Wreckz N Effect ('90)

I Thought It Was Me - BBD ('89)

Groove Me - Guy ('88)

New Jack City - Guy ('91)

I'm Dreamin' - Christopher Williams ('91)

We Got Our Own Thang - Heavy D & The Boyz ('89)

Just Got Paid - Johnny Kemp ('88)

Your Sweetness - The Good Girls ('89)

Poison (RMX) - BBD ('89)

Do The Right Thing - Redhead Kingpin ft. Big Bubb ('89)

Yo Baby Yo - Ralph Tresvant ('92)

Money Can't But You Love - Ralph Tresvant ('92)

Just As Me To - Tevin Campbell ft. Chubb Rock ('91)

Let The Beat Hit Em' - Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam ('91)

The Power - Chill Rob G ('89)

The Power - Snap ('89)

Ownlee Ewe - Kwame' & The New Beginning ('90)

Treat Em' Right - Chubb Rock ('90)

Kiss You Back - Digital Underground ('90)

Me, Myself & I - De La Soul ('88)

Can't Do Nuthin For Ya - Public Enemy ('90)

Tales From The Darkside - Ice Cube & Chuck D ('90)

I'm Mad - EPMD ('90)

Let The Rythym Hit Em' - Eric B & Rakim ('90)

Bad To The Bone - Kool G Rap & Polo ('90)

Get The Job Done - Big Daddy Kane ('89)

What U Waitin' 4 - The Jungle Brothers ('88)

Hot Music - Soho ('91)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Another Rare Gem!!!


This particular rare gem I have to give credit to Soul Train. As you all probably already know, Retro-episodes of Soul Train are being aired again on the Chicago-based station, WGN and for the last year and some change, I have been religously watching and recording as many episodes as possible. One night, I just happened to pop in an episode that had Con Funk Shun as guest performers where they performed their hit "Got To Be Enough". During the interview with Don Cornelius, the members mentioned that the album was coming out soon and it was entitled "Spirit Of Love". From what I can remember, this album went on to be successful for the group and further solidified the group as a top-notch funk band.

Suffice it to say, that I pulled out the album from the collection in my studio and did some needle dropping and what do you know, another gem was found. As a matter of fact, the second track on the album entitled "By Your Side" is a stepper's dream. A mellow-mid tempo (83bpm) groove that spotlights the falsetto and tenor prowess of member, Felton C. Pilate. The funny thing about this particular record is that it saw new life 20 years later on the rap duo, 2nd II None's second album entitled "Classic 220" as the musical backbone of the song "Y?". Pilate did receive composer credits, but I am sure it was just pocket change due to the fact that the album produced lackluster sales.

"Y?" by 2nd II None (circa 2000)

At any rate, enjoy the original song that actually helped bring Con Funk Shun's album to Gold Status as the second single off of the album. Also, listen at how DJ Quik literally steals this song, but adds his signature G-Funk element to the record to make 2nd II None's version easy on the ear as well.

Oh, BTW, Felton C. Pilate went on to become a well paid producer in the early 90's for MC Hammer. Vallejo and Oakland rock on!!!



"By Your Side" by Con Funk Shun (circa 1980)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Every now and then, I put remixes that I call remixapellas on my mix cds. Remixapellas are simply what the words says; remixes with acapellas. Essentially, I take the acapella (just the words) of one songs and blend it with the instrumental of another song. First, I make sure the tempo of each song matches and then I determine whether or not the two songs make sense. Lastly and most importantly, I make sure that the pitches of the vocals and instrumental both match. By doing all of these steps, you give the listener the perception that the songs is a new song that he or she has never heard before.

Attached is a mix that I did back in '05 when I was living in Little Rock, AR.

The man behind Jigga!!!!


In an interview on the jacket of this album, Lonnie Liston Smith says that he underwent a personal crisis after some nasty dealings with a "big record company" (either RCA or Columbia). He then became a disciple of Sri Chinmoy — guru to John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana and many other musicians — went veggie, started meditating, became a new man. For all of that, little had changed in his music, which remains pleasant, gently funky and deeply into spiritual concerns but not in a heavy way. Again, Smith switches between acoustic and electric pianos, while brother Donald sweetly intones the serene lyrics or handles the flute, and Donald Hubbard offers ethereal soprano sax. Marcus Miller, the once and future Miles Davis collaborator, exerts some influence here by composing three of the eight tunes — none terribly memorable — and playing bass and keyboards.

The beauty of this album was the fact that it contained a rare gem that was given life by producer, E Ski of the group Original Flavor, as the backbone of the track Dead Presidents II by Jay-Z. Once again hip-hop breathes life into older music. Enjoy this rare gem.


Monday, February 4, 2008

The Wright Funkster!!!!

Wow, digging in the crates can be so much fun. I thought about this album after getting off of the phone with my oldest sister, Yolanda. I remembered when Yolanda would play this album and would play one particular cut entitiled "Won't You Let Me Love You". This song was more of a mid-tempo ballad that could be easily overlooked by the electronic direction that Wright was taking throughout the album.
Retaining the services of veteran producers Dave Grusin, Larry Rosen, Lenny White and Wright himself, this album explores several subgenres of music. Being as gifted as he is, Wright obviously did not want to limit himself by recording just one style of music. With the popularity of breakdancing and the rise of video arcades, Wright's pioneering vision is witnessed on "Funky Beat" and "Video Generation." The former made the Billboard R&B charts, peaking at #39, but the latter was never a release. These compositions are not breathtaking recordings, but do offer a alternative to the routine rhythms normally used; they verge on pre-techno. Wright slows it down with a more contemporary sound on "Keep on Doing That Right Thing" and "Won't You Let Me Love You." The latter is a skillfully written, highly underrated song that made the Billboard R&B charts at number 88 after only a two-week run. Wright further displays his versatility on a remake of the Clifford Brown jazz classic "Joy Spring," a melodious, soft and easy jazz composition that features Lenny White on drums. However, no selection is more noteworthy than "Mr. Clean," a funky, jazzy, souful instrumental driven by improvised keyboard solos and a pulsating, electric bass.
All I can say is that Wright had a sleeper with this track and I recorded it directly from her old album....chicken grease and all. Last, if you listen to the previous mix, April Showers, you will hear a sped up version of the track. Thanks Yolanda!!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Jane Child ...The One Hit Wonder!!!

Thank the Lord for VH1, with the exception of I Luv New York. Anyways, just recently there was a show on one hit wonders and the mc brought up a song that I totally forgot about, but was happy to hear it again. The song was "Don't Wanna Fall In Love" by Jane Child. (circa '90)

Born into a musical family in Toronto, Jane Child took violin lessons from her father and voice lessons from her mother. Rock wasn't allowed in her home, but she did listen to an R&B station from nearby Buffalo, NY, and had hopes of starting a band. Child dropped out of the Royal Conservatory of Music to join a rock band in Toronto. Signed to Warner Music in 1988 on the strength of just a demo tape, Jane Child released her first single, "Don't Wanna Fall in Love," in 1990. Her self-titled debut album appeared that same year and Here and There followed in 1993.

Boy, I can remember the djs playing this on the radio stations (Q106 & WFMF 102.5) in Baton Rouge. This version attached is a remix that was produced by none other than, Teddy Riley.



April Showers '05

Let's start this puppy off right. Here is a mix that I found in my catalog that was misplaced. Luckily, I found it. It represents me branching out to incorporate more types of music in my mixes. What you will find is a diverse mix of music....



Now is the Time!!!!

I had an epiphany a couple of months ago and said to myself that I was going to take my talent and skills to the next level. I really couldn't believe that it was now 20 years since I first started djing. For a moment, I thought back on all of the parties and schindigs that were powered by me and how many people's lives I affected through my music. I began to think about regrets with not following my true passion instead of going the safe route. All in all, I came to the conclusion that I was going to go all out and explore all opportunities and possibilities. The result was a newfound attitude about music and life. SO, here I am now, the beginning of a new beginning for J-Finesse. I decided to invest in studio equipment and finally categorize the 3000+ records that I own. I am now djing more at lounges and have been compiling a catalog of beats. On any given weekend, you can find me in the neighborhood record store shopping for more rare I like to call them. Overall, I am happy with the progress and look forward to what the future holds.