Hip-hop producer Mike Jones on the young woman rocketing to the top of the reggae world | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Hip-hop producer Mike Jones on the young woman rocketing to the top of the reggae world 

Plus: Rapper and producer Pete Sayke on an irresistible Nigerian party starter, Reader staff writer Leor Galil on loner funk from another dimension, and more

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A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

click to enlarge Fantasy Love’s reissue of a 1985 Astrology Band single - COURTESY FANTASY LOVE RECORDS
  • Fantasy Love’s reissue of a 1985 Astrology Band single
  • Courtesy Fantasy Love Records

Leor Galil, Reader staff writer

Sole Unlimited mixtape rips I've been curious about the allegedly shady dance mixes released in the late 90s and early aughts by local cassette label Sole Unlimited, run by Radek Hawryszczuk (who also founded house label Dust Traxx in 1997). I say "shady" because Sole Unlimited supposedly put out at least some of these mixtapes without permission from the DJs who made them. Dan Labovitch's Rave Archive, which went offline in 2016, has made its collection of Chicago-centric rave zines, mixes, and flyers available via the Internet Archive, and it appears to include many Sole Unlimited mixes—the files don't mention the label, but they seem to be the same material it released, by the likes of Robert Armani, Boo Williams, and Glenn Underground.

Astrology Band, "Diamond Ring" b/w "Dream World" This fall London reissue label Fantasy Love launched with a batch of obscure boogie-leaning seven-inches, two of which originally came from Chicagoland: Curtis & Dondi's "Magic From Your Love" b/w "Don't Be Afraid" and Astrology Band's "Diamond Ring" b/w "Dream World." Astrology Band front man Jerome L. Scott self-released the latter in 1985, and as far as I can tell he's the only member of the "band." On both tracks he coos over primitive drum-machine loops and psychedelic, blown-out guitar—it's loner funk from another dimension.

Smash Mouth, "All Star" In January, I made a promise to myself to listen to this monolithic 1999 jam once a day, every day for the entirety of 2019, and so far I'm on track—you could even say I'm an all-star.

Leor is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge Koffee - PHOTO BY NICKII KANE
  • Koffee
  • Photo by Nickii Kane

Mike Jones, hip-hop producer

Koffee Reggae has been one of my favorite genres since high school, and that love was recharged when I heard Chronixx, Protoje, Kabaka Pyramid, and Jesse Royal. I recently saw a young female artist named Koffee popping up on Chronixx and Protoje's social media feeds and was super impressed. Since last fall she's released two singles, "Toast" and "Throne," and I'm hooked. She has such a dope style, and her lyrics and delivery are on point—she has it all. I think that with more releases and a project (hopefully soon), she'll become one of reggae's biggest voices. I want to hear a Koffee-Rihanna collab (assuming Rihanna is still working on her reggae album).

Buddy, "Trouble on Central" I'm not even sure why I missed this song when Buddy's album Harlan & Alondra dropped last year, but I saw him perform it recently and just got hooked. This has become definitely one of my most-played records. His whole album is crazy too.

Hip-hop biographies and autobiographies I've been commuting on the Metra for seven years, so I've been reading a ton. My favorite books are music autobiographies and biographies, particularly about hip-hop artists. My goal is to collect every one and maybe one day have a little library in my studio, where people can read and borrow books. My favorites include Julia Beverly's Sweet Jones: Pimp C's Trill Life Story, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, the RZA's The Tao of Wu, and James Prince's The Art & Science of Respect: A Memoir. Also, both of Charlamagne tha God's books are amazing!

Mike is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge Burna Boy - COURTESY ATLANTIC RECORDS
  • Burna Boy
  • Courtesy Atlantic Records

Pete Sayke, rapper and producer

Boogie, Everythings for Sale The Compton MC's 2019 debut album carries all the traits of my all-time favorite albums from my all-time favorite artists. When an artist allows him- or herself to be genuine and vulnerable, I'm usually all-in. But when an artist can accomplish that while giving the listener dope production, clever rhymes, thoughtful concepts, and an interesting delivery, it's a wrap! I am now a Boogie fan. Favorites: "Tired/Reflections," "lolsmh," "Live 95," and "Whose Fault."

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose Though this book isn't technically about music, Tolle often makes reference to creatives—and to the idea of making art for the love of creating, as opposed to creating as a means to an end. My biggest takeaways are working to eliminate ego from every thought and interaction, as well as aiming to be truly present in every situation. I feel like this is a must-read for anyone seeking a little bit of peace.

Burna Boy I found Burna thanks to an episode of Noisey: Lagos. And when my wife and I saw him perform live at Bottom Lounge, our fandom went through the roof. It's not uncommon for me to come home from work to my wife bumping a Burna album, starting an impromptu predinner dance session! Dude's an incredible songwriter but maybe an even better performer. You should check out his whole catalog, but if you start at the 2018 album Outside and work backward, you're good!  v

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