But not for long.
In the last few months alone Hov became hip, ?uesto gushed openly about it and worked his magic behind the scenes in multiple ventures to help the kid get more exposure, and — oh yeah — I finished the napalm bomb that would’ve been Payback but due to leaving one label and finally linking with a team that believes in my artisitic vision (okay, player? official announcement coming soon) there was no need to detonate.
The press started to show love (what up Andrew?) and I hinted about my aborted suicide mission here and there to anyone who’d listen. I even joined forces with longtime amigos at Potholes In My Blog to flex my producer chops on their promising fledgling music label. Shortly before that I also started to get hit up left and right by music supervisors who want the kid’s tunes on television (which is nothing I’m new to).
In the middle of all that’s been going on I managed to once again neglect this place. As of late my second and only other official blog, likened to a time capsule of sorts by Knotoryus, has gained widespread popularity and become my primary focus. There you can find all the cat macros, Uncle Dolan memes and racist mockery your little heart can stand.
But I love music yo.
As I’ve said time and time again, this place was jumpin’ back in 2007. Nowadays all my site traffic — and subsequently, my time — has been diverted to other social media outlets. As I’ve vowed, I’ll do a better job of keeping this place up but I need to know if you’re still out there.
Without further ado, today’s contribution comes from 80′s German jazz outfit The Foreign Exchange. Released on the MPS label (Musik Produktion Schwarzwald) at the top of the decade, this record is — as stated in the title — the first from the group that consisted of session musicians Gary Foster, Luis Conte, Oscar Meza, Roland Vazquez, Clare, Andre and Brent Fischer (siblings?), Ramon Banda, Alex Acuna, Jose Hernandez, Poncho Sanchez and John Chiodini.
Some of the vocals are sung in English, others in German. Overall the album is a breezy, light-hearted effort with a few notable tracks; as a fan of the Rhodes, I can’t help but gravitate towards “Morning”. Unfortunately, The First Album was also The Foreign Exchange’s last, but don’t fret; they were less of an actual “group” and moreso musicians that came together to record an incredible album. Many of the aforementioned talent went on to appear on and release many other records for years to come, some even reuniting with a few The Foreign Exchange alum.
At the dawn of the new millennium the moniker Foreign Exchange would re-emerge, but not the German troupe: rapper Phonte would link up with Dutch producer Nicolay to record and release a series of highly-acclaimed albums under the name known outside of music as a means to trade one country’s money for another. Due to the power of Internet file-sharing the majority of their offerings were notably completed before the duo — separated by the Atlantic Ocean and thousands of miles — had ever even met face-to-face, a far cry from the jam session “feel” prevalent on their namesake’s first and only opus.
The First Album has since been out of print since the late-90s but, like a down-ass chick that rolls cigarettes for you and doesn’t complain about much of anything, anything can be found if you do a little digging. (download)
Song Of The Day: “Morning” by The Foreign Exchange 
Just noticed how many gems I’ve dropped on this thing, good Lord. I may have to start it up again if I can re-generate some interest.
Here’s 1971′s entry from the L’Illustration Musicale music library, featuring the organ stylings of the composer famously known as (he had a few pseudonyms, hilarious to think that these dudes were gettin’ their MF DOOM/Viktor Vaughn/Metal Fingers on back then) Jacky Giordano. Don’t have time to type up a paragraph today, just download and enjoy the tunes folks. (
It was a pain in the ass.
It was a lot of fucking fun.
But the new and official version of Where Is Danny?, recreated by me and completely devoid of the original instrumentals produced by
what’s-his-name (“take the high road, Danny!” “okay, okay“) is finally available for purchase here, here, here and here.
I made sure the seal was extra tight, so no leaks stealing my thunder this time.
Thank you, thank you to everyone who supported this release in both its original form and its current and final one. I appreciate all of the artists — Von, Don, Che, Paris and D. Brown — for rockin’ with me and helping to make the record what it is: enjoyed by a lot of motherfuckers. I salute all of y’all, mad love yo.
Thanks to the fans for sticking with me, even at my worst: you think I was proud of posting ether emails sent to his legal team straight embarrassin’ ‘em and debunking the whole “Roc Nation hit me up and I submitted beats to Jay personally” bullshit with a single image? Nah. It was funny as fuck though, but it’s out of my system now.
I’m thrilled to see this record finally take off now, without anyone or anything chaining it down this time. Samples? Cleared. The ones that couldn’t be, sadly, didn’t make the cut (I’ll always love you, Ladi Jade). But it’s all good as there are plenty of new easter eggs and revamped beats to make up for it.
Where Is Danny? I’m right here, bitches.
Song Of The Day: “The Last Laugh” by Danny! 
Little Mauve Tiger (Music de Wolfe, 1973) (
So if you haven’t heard by now, Where Is Danny? has been pulled from retail as of March 2011. If you click on any links on my website, or this very blog, that direct to online stores for either the album or the “Get Down” single, you will be re-directed to the store’s home page. Or Thailand. I hear prostitution runs rampant there, but I digress.
But the reason why this has happened is not because of sample clearance issues, which I initially suspected (“Yoko Ono” from And I Love H.E.R. faced a similar fate during the first part of 2009 but the case was subsequently dismissed). No, this is the tale of betrayal and cowardice and yada yada yada from a month or so back.
Being a one-man-band is exhausting. It’s demanding. Most times, it’s thankless. But you know what? Deep down, I love not having to depend on others. I love the sensation of having accomplished a project with little to no help. The minute you ask someone for assistance, you’re running the risk of either having your project held up due to their lack of urgency (which will never match yours), or the relinquishing of that dreaded C-word.
No, not couscous.
Credit. Having to share credit can make an unchecked ego cringe. Not being able to claim all of it can cause rifts that may originate from finances, recognition, hell a slew of things I’m sure. But I was never that dude. I’ve gone through my entire career post-The College Kicked-Out fiasco trying to help out anybody, and I mean anybody that respected what I did and could rock with me. If we admired each other’s talents, it was a done deal. Sharing credit was just an inevitable thing. I’m proud to be able to have a song posted online somewhere with the caption “Big Booty Hoes! (produced by ______ )”, because that person was willing to work with me and create some quality music. Credit? Who needs it? People know what the hell I do.
But there’s another C-word that causes just as much trepidation. No, not Columbine. Close though.
Compensation. At the end of the day, money is the name of the game. That cash can cause a weary artist low on motivation to churn out an album year after year. In the context of dealing with others, it can destroy friendships.
You know what’s hilarious? My discography consists of only a handful of songs featuring people outside of my (now empty) camp, yet not a single person (except Naledge, which is some bullshit) asked me for a dime. However, people who at one point were closest to me have always hollered compensation. Isn’t that a scream? Who the fuck is going to charge you money to work with you if they rock with you or respect what you do? Inversely, I never charged anyone for beats or any vocals I may have done because if I like you I don’t give a fuck. Danny Brown e-mails me late 2009 and tells me how much of a fan he is — later going as far to publicly state that he thought I would turn him down — and, being a fan myself, I slid him ten beats for The Hybrid. He used five. Tanya Morgan and I have been mutual fans of each other for years so of course collaborations were bound to happen between me, Von and Don, and the same can definitely be said for my brother and Lessondary spitter Che Grand as well as other artists who got at me when I was unavailable but definitely have love for (Random/MegaRan, Dumhi, Tyler the Creator, Brandun Deshay and even Apathy circa 2007. (My bad bruh! I still got that beat!)
So why in the bloody hell is a longtime friend, someone I actually know and have spent extended amounts of time with, filing phony copyright violation reports on iTunes for Where Is Danny?
I should’ve wisened up when this dude charged me $150 for Charm‘s Where Is Danny? prototype “Lip Flappin’“, but damn I wouldn’t listen. Here I am, finally accepting of the fact that my collective and I would no longer be friends ages ago and this happens? Boy oh boy.
Long story short: me and this dude agree to split duties (and profits) from Where Is Danny? so long as everything is paid for equally. People fall out, the album is slightly retooled and studio expenses are absorbed by me alone. Two months later this dude comes back desperate to be on the project so I oblige. Only this time, he wants to get paid for his beats. I balk, feathers are ruffled, and it’s suggested by me that compensation was initially agreed if and only if costs are split. They weren’t. The project leaks, this guy moves to California, the album collects dust waiting for a resolution, I put it out intending to pay him when I get paid, BOOM, I get served with an injunction with using copyrighted music without permission. Got that?
So after the initial email from iTunes notifying me of the allegations for Where Is Danny?‘s beats, I get a chance to talk to this guy’s representative (of what, I have no idea…maybe it was really his dad) over the phone and explain to him that “co-composer” is not the same as “co-writer”, and that he certainly didn’t write a single thing. Any compensation made to the producer, I explained, needs to be decided between us, man-to-man, whether it’s a split of the sales or a flat fee.
The resulting e-mail? Exhibit A, ladies and gentlemen:
Now I’m thinking to myself “you son of a bitch” but despite all of this, I’m still willing to work with him because if we’ve been reduced to businessmen squabbling over rights, then so be it. But all of this is ultimately becoming a mess and making me very, very irritated so after an epiphany that weekend I retort with the following (exhibit B):
And yes, I really enclosed “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” for snark’s sake. Thank you, Bob James.
Now the true reason for this unnamed person’s (and unknown…if you Google his name 90% of the hits are attached to me, his one-time cash cow) desire to seek compensation originates from a petty fallout in the summer of 2009, documented in this interview. Neither of us were enrolled in high school at the time, yet the nature of this dispute reeks of sophomore-(sophomoric?) year pretentiousness. I can only imagine the tall tales he must tell anyone with a set of ears, which explains the decreasing amount of phone calls I receive these days from so-called mutual friends. Ah well. I’m not the type to advertise shit like this for sympathy like he does, but today I made an exception. Pity me, you fools.
In the end, everything worked itself out: Where Is Danny? is finally being given a full-fledged (albeit digital) release courtesy of Interscope, others have been reduced to producing for Papoose-esque rappers (in 2011, no less) and I’m back to handling all aspects of production by my lonesome. Meh. It’s what I do best. It’s wishful thinking to want long-lasting friendships in this industry but the stark reality is, if you wave a wad of cash in someone’s face — even a former friend — you can kiss those relationships goodbye.
Fuck it. Mo’ money for me, bitches.
Today’s free download, Adventure, comes courtesy of the Patchwork music library. The amount of cheesy 80s synths in this record is about equivalent to the cornballiness of this entire ordeal. Jeebus. Can’t we all just get along? (
BONUS EXHIBITS FOR THE LOLZ: For those of you who ate up that bullshit backstory for the “
rejects” “outtakes” album? Nigga please. Def Jam hit ME up (well, I hit up Lenny):
…and, in turn, I did what any friend would do (there’s more than one, but I just don’t feel like devoting that much energy into bullshit):
…update is coming soon. You won’t want to miss this.
In the meantime, here’s 1980′s “Relax” from one of my favorite library music publishers. This hard-to-find gem plays up an easy listening theme quite heavily throughtout the LP and is the source for quite a few of my beats, most prominently “Rhyme Writer Crime Fighter” (which, in turn, is the source for the website “Blog Writer Crime Fighter“…shoutout to Chris).
All thanks go to DJ Premier, without whom I probably would’ve passed this record up six or seven years ago. In fact, it’s because of him that I got into coppin’ library records in the first place, with “It’s Okay” from “Charm” being my first venture into the world of sampling from film and television production albums such as these. You never know, man. (
Song Of The Day: “Beverly Hills” by Steve Gray 
Grab the keys to the five and shit like that.
Gather ’round my babies, as I weave a tale of betrayal, greed, cowardice and desperation. I weep in empathy as I type these very words. Nah, I’m just bullshittin’. That’s just tiger blood leaking from my tear ducts.
Anyway, back to my story. Not now though. I’ve got to take the roast beast out of the oven. To hold you over, here’s 1971′s self-titled album from Trio Esperança, the Brazilian team of sibling singers most notable for their jovem guarda offerings since the group’s inception as children in the late 1950′s.
Most will recognize one of the tracks on their Odeon Records (later absorbed into EMI) debut as the source for Where Is Danny?‘s sole radio-ready single “Get Down“. Few will consider my penchant for cryptic posting for what it is and immediately see this as a foreshadowing of things to come. One will be butthurt. I’ve already said too much.
Stay tuned… (
Music licensing is a trip, yo.
I’m sure it’s different for every artist, but to me there’s nothing like hearing a song I labored over in the studio receiving play on other mediums besides your CD player/iPod/mini-Discman (seriously, who even has one of these things?). In this climate of music, where sales certainly aren’t guaranteed and internet oversaturation is rampant, it can behoove an artist (especially a hip-hop artist) to venture into other avenues where his or her music can be heard. Big ups to my homie Von Pea for having his beat played during an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart; Mickey Factz made waves a few years ago when he seemingly became a spokesman for the new Honda campaign while having his tunes showcased during various commercials; hell, I know it’s GOT to be some indie producer cranking out beats for all those “urban-oriented” McDonald’s promos. Didn’t Pac Div do a spot some years back?
I’ve been fortunate to have established a few relationships inside the media world while doing this here music on the independent tip for all these years. HearMusic courted “Cafe Surreal” for years to potentially release it as a promo single for parent company Starbucks, but upon realizing the capacity in which I sampled from the source song (read: 95% of it) the company declined, opting instead to use my beatboxing vocals from the chorus on a remix to one of the songs featured on an in-store compilation (you know, the CD they play over in over inside the cafe). The original instrumental for “I Don’t Know” (later released commercially as “LiberianGirl…” on the Japanese version of Dream, Extinguished) was, believe it or not, used as background cue music for a video presentation by a small business being courted by Microsoft for possible acquisition (I don’t think Microsoft went through with it though…maybe my beat jinxed ‘em). But perhaps my longest-standing relationship to date has to have been with Viacom.
Viacom — parent company to MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and other cable channels — has been giving the kid’s music airtime since late 2007, kickstarted by the Def Jux/MTVU debacle from a while back (did I tell you I plan to sue them, by the way? stay tuned). Every few months I’m asked by someone, primarily my homie B. (not gonna print the full name so y’all can Google his email address and clog up his inbox…C’MON SON) but every now and then by others, to send material to sync with television segments, commercial bumpers or opening/closing credits. The only bad part is, I don’t watch TV. And I haven’t watched MTV ever since they dropped videos from their rotation in favor of embarassingly trashy “reality” television programs. So when they finally get around to using my songs, I either A) don’t know about it until I get a check in the mail a year or so later, B) hear about it from someone else, only to watch religiously for two weeks straight trying to catch it in vain, or C) do hear it on TV but have no reliable way to record it for posterity.
But, every once in a while, I get lucky.
A buddy of mine hits me on Facebook like “yooo, I heard your song “Intermission (interlude)” during a Jersey Shore After Hours episode lolz!” I’m like “aiight”, kinda bummed because I didn’t catch it myself. On a whim, however, I stroll over to MTV.com in an attempt to view the latest posted videos for Jersey Shore. Sure enough, I click on the most recent one and at the 0:52 mark you can indeed hear “Intermission (interlude)” for a total of 14 seconds:
To my knowledge, my music has been played on this station in at least ten different occasions over the past four years. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to archive it. Yay me.
Whenever I hear a song of mine played unexpectedly, it always reminds me of the development and recording process for whichever album it derives from (if it came from a commercially-released LP, that is; much of the music I’ve had licensed are just random instrumentals). Instantly I was transported back to early 2008, thinking of how much effort and hard work went into the And I Love H.E.R. record; all the late nights obsessing over the bassline for “Where You Goin’” until I got it perfect; vibing with my close friends without either of us being cognizant of any hint of the imminent fallout only a year later; emailing beats to various rappers for features, only to find my instrumentals leaked onto Limewire, uploaded onto YouTube and eventually rapped over by — of all people — BrandUn Deshay before I even get a chance to put the album out commercially; having my car stolen literally days after the recording sessions were completed, forcing me to re-record 12 of the 17 tracks; trying to knock out “At What Price” in one take (it took two); digging through crates on top of crates for the perfect sound (I almost scrapped “The Groove” entirely when I found out the Beatnuts sampled it already; instead, I paid homage and threw their song in the intro).
And I Love H.E.R. was, for my former crew, what The Dynasty: Roc La Familia was supposed to be for Jay’s. It was intended as a springboard for not just me (I had already tasted minor success with the Grammys and Def Jux) but my friends as well. I was winnin’ and I wanted them to win too. Never before and never again did you see the whole collective on one project. The group would later disband over God knows what on some unnecessary Phonte/9th Wonder-type beef but say hey: nothing lasts forever, right?
Well, the music certainly does. Even after the last pressed disc is purchased from Amazon, hurtling an album into out-of-print status (see: Below The Heavens), film and television will preserve these memories, these feelings, our stories for years to come. I’d retire tomorrow and license all my shit to Gerber for all I care. Thank you, MTV, for another placement; I’ll be looking for that $16.97 check anyday now.
Today’s selection comes from my favorite collection: the KPM library. 1970′s Happy Novelties (# 1064) is best described as a romp on a beach in an old MGM cartoon. Track 3 from its B-side, “Brass, But Lightly” was featured on the elusive compilation The Tabitha Affair long before I sampled it for And I Love H.E.R.‘s “After The Love Has Gone” (which I purposely named to mirror the Earth, Wind & Fire song so that when people Google it, I come up too. Ha!)
As for “Intermission (interlude)”? The original name for the instrumental is “Banana Nut Bread”, I used the same crowd ambience that I did in “Can’t Wait” and no one has yet to figure out who I sneak-dissed toward the middle of my verse. Yep. (
I almost forgot how much I enjoyed maintaining this blog. A lot has changed since then — a WHOLE lot. When I first created “Cafe Surreal” (named, of course, after the ditty about my mental coffeeshop) I was living in Savannah, working hard to capitalize off of the Def Jux/MTV buzz, creating music with my crew and extended family as my second set of ears, all while juggling school, work and life. I had crates full of records and an eagerness to share my creativity with my new set of fans and supporters.
Almost four years later I’ve seen friends come and go, loved and lost, relocated accordingly, continued to receive critical acclaim over and over and finally got the record deal I’ve always wanted. Interscope Records? Whoopee. But my love for sharing and creating music hasn’t waned a bit.
A quick perusal through the archives (either here, or in its original incarnation at Cafe Surreal 1.0) and you’ll see the diversity of albums I’ve uploaded (and subsequently taken down, per my three-week rule). Kinda sucks that most of the links I’ve sprinkled throughout the content (not the download links) have since expired, so I may go back when I have absolutely nothing to do and update them. In my posts I may have also slipped in a sample here and there of beats — some known, others unreleased and never heard prior — that may have been inspired by the finding of such records. And lastly, just background info on the artist themselves and any musical history surrounding the release of the album. Any previous followers may have been enlightened a time or two with the information I may have divulged.
I like that shit. Seriously. And apparently, y’all do too. In 2011, I’m going to pick back up where I left off. Who’s still with me?
I’ve found, in retrospect, that keeping up this blog offers people a personal glimpse into the musical interests of a fly dude such as myself, who has long been purported to lead such a private life with a tremendous amount of Mystique™. I’ve been accused of being inaccessible, out of reach, hard to contact, etc. I’d like this blog to serve as one of many ways I help refute these claims (even though that shit is mostly true), as well as hip you to my personal playlist/crates/musical inspiration.
Today’s offering is from unsung soul singer (and later, disco queen) Zulema. I don’t have too much time to go into detail at this moment, but here is her 1978 LP “Z-Licious” for your enjoyment (is; that a word?). The instrumental below, crafted from a “See” loop, was originally created for some random-ass geechie rapper from Savannah around 2006 or so but he never used it. Bum. (download)
Danny! – The Way I Do It (instrumental):