[dizzy in frisco]

Dizzybam (MySpace)

Okay, so maybe you had to be there. Maybe you had to be packed into the Berkeley Square on a Saturday night, in a crowd that mixed university kids, cholos, skate punks, backpacker hip-hop kids from Oakland. Maybe you had to wait while the band set up their instruments — a couple guitars, a trap set, congas, horn mikes — dancing in the meantime to some song you’d never heard before, some kind of psychedelic masterpiece built around a broken Gene Chandler sample, while Japanese anime porn played on the screen in front of the stage. In those days, before the Web, these kinds of sights and sounds were something you had to travel for. And then the DJ would cut out, the screen would go up, and a crowd would pour onto the stage, as mixed up as the crowd on the floor, and led by Fredimac, a tall blond rapper who would whip us into a bouncing frenzy.

Dizzybam never went anywhere. Most of the bands from those days didn’t — Fungo Mungo, MCM and the Monster, Bl├╝chunks, Aztlan Nation — but that was never the point. And the demos never seemed to do justice to the experience of standing there at the edge of the stage as the horns hit and the singer started jumping and the crowd pressed in from behind. Dizzybam’s no different in that respect: the record that remains is a shadow of what was. But I’m glad I found it out there to remind me of those amazing Berkeley nights when Dizzybam rocked the house and for a moment the world felt real.

[the origins of g-funk]

Ohio Players

Frankie Smith
Children of Tomorrow

Let’s start this off right!

Welcome to my new blog dedicated to music. The Ohio Players’ Pleasure is a good place to start, since pleasure is at the heart of my love of music, and few forms of music give me quite the gut level of pure pleasure that funk does.

“Funky Worm,” from 1972, is narrated by Grandma and tells the story of “the funkiest worm in the world.” Naturally. What makes the song really stand out, though, is the astonishing synthesizer noise that takes off at 0:45, from which the entire edifice of G-funk was built. I only recently discovered this track, but it demonstrates definitively that Dr. Dre owes his whole career to about 10 seconds by the Ohio Players. As Grandma says, “Like nine cans of shaving powder: that’s funky.” A statement like that brooks no argument.

While we’re at it, that whole wacky Snoop Dogg “Izzle” language also has a point of origin: the proto-hip-hop song “Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith, from 1981. The Izzle kicks in at around 1:51.