For me, the "Harlem Shake" dance craze--not to be confused with "Harlem Shake" or the actual Harlem shake--was one of those weird internet things (sort of like foreign policy decisions or what happened on last week's Girls) that I first found out about via the backlash. "Oh, a controversy?" With no post quota to fill, I decided to pass, unaware that it would affect what I was to write about the upcoming Just Blaze and Baauer's show at Webster Hall.
Fools Gold Day Off
Monday, September 5
Better than: Catching bullets at a parade.
New York City empties out on Labor Day weekend, but for the past two years those who've stuck around have been able to see behind the curtain on what's next, on what's nexter-than-next, and the emerging trends in fashion and music and beer thanks to the Fool's Gold party, tucked into the parking lot behind City Winery. (For instance, this year I saw a bunch of people drinking 40s of Olde English, the champagne of street corners, due either to recessionary spending or one stop past irony on the L train.)
Fool's Gold is a boutique record label and lifestyle choice curated by DJs Nick Catchdubs and A-Trak in Brooklyn, a valued and influential co-sign to weirdo artistes and left-of-left-brain thinkers alike. Run down the rabbit hole far enough and there are connections made to The Cool Kids, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and many others' success. (That explains why CEO of Warner Bros. Records Todd Moscowitzstill smelling like The Hamptonsstrolled the grounds yesterday, eating ice cream.) Armand Van Helden and Diplo hung around the VIP section, not far from Miss Info, Action Bronson, Plain Pat and Freddie Gibbs. P-Thugg of Chromeo, his belly hanging out of his head-to-toe Cross Colors outfit, wandered. It was like a Fader family barbeque, a cookout for discriminating tastes.
Before we sink into holiday hibernation, we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on our exploits, and present to you our very own 2010 SOTC Nightlife Awards. Below, our third installment examines the people who make nightlife tick in NYC.
Those who stopped by the recently beleaguered Santos Party House last weekend would have found the place incongruously shuttered, and Friday's regular party, the Just Blaze/DJ Soul-hosted reOPENed, mysteriously absent. This was fall-out from the club's "legal wrangling," in the words of a Santos spokesman, with the city over drug deals that went down in the venue over the summer. Since the raid on their property, Santos has been operating as a live music venue, but not yet as a dance club again, but sometimes the difference has been unclear. ("Our apology goes out to everyone who came by the party last week and to anybody we may have inconvenienced," wrote the reOPENed kids a couple weeks ago.) They were supposed to come back this Friday, but the club tells us that reOPENed's return has been pushed back another two weeks. But still: at long last, dance music is coming back to Santos Party House. With a special guest, no less...
Ain't no shortage of sweet (and often free) parties around here this weekend, but if you're looking to attend the one with the most guys who've been on the cover of XXL, do consider the Fool's Gold Day Off, happening Monday afternoon in the City Winery backyard. So, uh, crack open a bottle of chianti and behold a torrent of Internet-approved mixtape rappers, including Yelawolf, who's in Big Boi's new video for "You Ain't No DJ," if you need to acquaint yourself. Full flier below:
Last Thursday, when producer Justin "Just Blaze" Smith announced he was closing shop at Baseline Studios, longtime recording homebase for Roc-A-Fella Records and other hip-hop and R&B luminaries, it marked not just the end of an era but the end of an ethic. Other historic venues for rap recording, including Chung King Recording Studios, Sony Music Studios, and The Hit Factory, have closed their doors in recent years, so the end of Baseline--where albums like Jay-Z's The Blueprint and Cam'Ron's Come Home With Me were recorded in part--feels like a stroke of finality in New York's ever-losing bid for geographical relevance. None of this means Just Blaze is retiring--in fact, just yesterday it was announced that he was joining in a partnership with Harlem's Stadiumred, a rising recording giant. Still, things won't be the same. In 2006, Sean Fennessey conducted a long interview with Just in the A room of Baseline to discuss his career, his future plans, and the legacy of the music made under his roof. In honor of Baseline's departure, here (below) is an extended excerpt from that interview, and--bonus!--a pretty much definitive collection of Just Blaze's production [now down, at the producer's request], over at Sean's blog, Split Infinitives.
Per Rap Radar, the producer's "aunt busts him out as a Village People fan."
Exhibit A for the importance of Baseline Studios, Just Blaze's 26th Street home base for the past ten years, which finally closed down on Thursday night with a ceremonial "wake" open to his fans: the hallways festooned with RIAA sales awards trumpeting the success of records ranging from The Life and Times of S. Carter to Usher's Confessions to the Game's Documentary. (The plaque from Roc-A-Fella for Jay-Z's The Blueprint was literally a blueprint, as in "commemorative inscription goes here--10.5 inches.") And perhaps most compelling, a framed Billboard Hot 100 from 2002, back when Cam'ron's "Oh Boy" was at #1, with every other Baseline project on the chart that week highlighted in bright pink; I didn't get an exact count, partly because there were so many.
Fitting that the recording studio that basically defined how rap sounded in the first decade of this new millennium will not survive 2010. Just Blaze's Baseline Studios was where Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella empire was built in the aughts; from The Dynasty: Roc La Familia to The Blueprint to the Black Album, Jay and company called Baseline home, posting up there in the brief, ridiculous years in which Roc-A-Fella counted both Blaze and Kanye West as house producers. Everything from "U Don't Know" to "December 4th" was written and recorded here, to say nothing of records Blaze did for other artists: Kanye, T.I., Cam'ron, etc. Now, Justin Smith is moving out, officially capping an era that was already on its way out circa Jay-Z's fake retirement in 2004. But what an era it was. Anyway, he's holding a wake: Thursday 4pm-9pm; email him if you want to go. If those walls could talk, they'd say a lot of fucked up, incredible things. [@TheMegatronDon, via Rap Radar]