Monday, August 12, 2013


A Guy Called Gerald's Classic release, ESSENCE. Growing up with Hip-Hop Culture in my household was a privilege, as I always take moments to reflect on history and my upbringing. My mother and her brother, Alphonse were children in the cities of Watts, Inglewood, Pacoima and Vallejo, California growing up and getting into new and interesting things. Luckily for my sister, La Fre$h and I, one of these things was Hip-Hop Culture in the form of Pop-Locking/B-Boy/B-Girling. My mother's involvement with the popular West Coast version of B-Boy/Girling paid dividends, because this made it so that Hip-Hop was not foreign in our early '80s household - in fact, Hip-Hop was embraced and encouraged. I am forever grateful.
We loved all forms of Hip-Hop from UTFO to Whodini, from Afrika Bambaataa to Egyptian Lover and Twilight 22. Always, was the presence of electronic music during my youthful Hip-Hop experience - the love remains. However, as I grew, I would not be introduced and hardly would I be interested in the existence and emergence of electronic/techno/dance music. Even in the form of Hip-Hop House (Twin Hype, some Native Tongue tracks, etc.), I in my youthful 'all-knowingness' was reviled by the House music. I would not be abandoned in my youthful closed-mindedness, thank goodness.
Lucky for me, a college-buddy who I worked with at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington would stay on me about studying the relationships between Hip-Hop and it's family member, electronic music. Jeff Helm and I worked at KZUU 90.7 FM from 1995-99 - I was there until 2001. Jeff would always make his best effort to introduce me to new sounds like DJ Krush and many other 'eccentric' artists and cultures - Jeff was fascinated with Japanese Culture (and Japanese women too). As the Electronic Music Director, Jeff had his hands on everything NEW and EXCLUSIVE. As the Hip-Hop Music Director and Associate General Manager, I leisurely brushed him off repeatedly, until one day an album appeared and I actually... LISTENED. From the isle of England, a legend entered my sonic life when, in the spring/summer of the year 2000, I opened the case and inserted the CD entitled, ESSENCE, by one of my (now) favorite artists, A Guy Called Gerald (yes, in the vein of A Tribe Called Quest).
Certainly, one of my favorite works, ESSENCE is a sonic journey into the questions, thoughts and passions of life - from my humble interpretation. At least these are the moments that I experience while listening. Among the tens of thousands of albums/records/tapes that I have listened to, played, charted, produced and tossed-out, ESSENCE is among my favorites - like Top 10 ever! AGCG's masterwork (in my humble opinion) sits aside the works of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Prince, DJ Quik, John Coltrane, Bob Marley and others whom I consider essential-listening. In imagining one of the most pleasant days I could experience - it would include lying on my back among the summer rains of Pullman, Washington with A Guy Called Gerald's ESSENCE being played in the background. The beautiful melodies, vocals, production and ideology introduced to me on this album, marked a moment of sonic-growth and introspection and research about what music/soul/spirit means to me. When you get a moment of clarity and need for peace, take a listen to A Guy Called Gerald's, ESSENCE.

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