Monday, May 24 2004 | 13:31

In this world of thugged out R&B singers, pop musicians powdered with make-up to cover up their lack of talent and cookie cutter rap albums, one has to ask: where is the good music? Has it been decimated into the repetitive playlists of radio and television? Many believe so and have lost faith, but not all of us. Christian “Kon” Taylor and Amir Abdullah still believe. They believe that diggin’ in the crates can remind us of where we have been and paint a clearer picture of where we need to go.

Kon & Amir started as fans of hip-hop and then as the music slipped and slided into the mainstream, they worked backwards just to find a new and fresh sound through dusty vinyl. Amir, who is the Vice President of Sales and A&R at Fat Beats Distribution, has been digging for records since 1986 after catching the vinyl bug from his father, an avid jazz collector. Kon, a fixture as a DJ in Boston and in NYC, collected his first vinyl plates at the tender age of 5. The one time graffiti artist also produced / engineered numerous 12″ singles on High Times, Fondle ˜Em, On Top and Rawkus record labels and has worked with emcees Rip Shop, Ed OG, Mr. Lif and J-Treads. In 1996 Kon and Amir met in Biscuithead Records in Boston, comparing breaks and collecting vinyl. Months later in 1997, they collaborated on the first “On Track” mixtape, which was made on a cheap Fisher Price tape deck, and the history lessons began. Now up to Volume 5, the “On Track” mixtapes are chapter and verse in classic breaks and dusty grooves. Their tapes (and thankfully CD’s as well) are always highly sought after. Their record knowledge, as well as their digging services have been sought after by the most respected names in the game including Shady Records, Diamond, Pete Rock and Lord Finesse. The Funky Technician had this to say, “Kon and Amir are two of the most extraordinary but underrated beat diggers in the game. Mark my words.” To that end, in 2004, Kon and Amir opened On Track Productions, Inc. which offers their diggin’ services to beatmakers and producers in need of the rarest pieces of wax.

Connecting with the good people at Uncle Junior Records and Seven Heads Entertainment. Kon and Amir now present Uncle Junior’s Friday Fish Fry “ “The Cleaning”. It is the second in a series of six Fish Fry’s released by Uncle Junior Records, a division of Seven Heads Entertainment. The first, “The Market”, was mixed by Djinji Brown and released in November 2003. The series is designed to recreate the actual Fish Fry’s whipped by Uncle Junior Records’ namesake, owner Wes Jackson’s father, Hudson Jackson, Jr. Following “The Cleaning”, there will be “The Seasoning”, “The Frying”, “The Grub” and “The Dishes”. Each one will be mixed by a different selector who will add their own twist on the sounds. “The Cleaning ” follows the eclectic standard set by Djinji and goes further down the rabbit hole than the On Track series. What they have done with “The Cleaning” is what all the On Track fans have been asking for years. “Please sir, gimme some more.” Instead of the 5 seconds we get the full 3 or 5 minute jam. “The Cleaning” is 19 tracks of funk, soul, jazz and disco. It jumps off with Pacific Standards’ “Cut Up Mr. Kool” whose guitar riffs and opening bass line lull you into the daze that you won’t recover from for at least the next hour. About 15 minutes later it’s time to dance. David Bendeth’s “Feel The Real” makes you feel like you are at the Empire Rolling Rink with that fly girl Tasha from Ms. Gillespie’s homeroom. Then it’s on to James Mason’s “Sweet Power.” Amir describes: “The James Mason record is one of my all-time favorites because it reminds me of this really beautiful woman I used to date in 95′. She used to sing it almost better than the original. [The Cleaning] is a mix of both the hard core cuts no one knows about and the recognizable,” affirms Amir. “We wanted to come with nothing but good music from beginning to end.

The duo is not known as producers per se but what they are are educators, archivists and connectors. They connect the past to the present so that we can move on to the future. The Beantown duo has made a name for them selves by consistently reintroducing the masses to a forgotten music. Eothen “Egon” Alapatt, fellow digger and one of the driving forces behind Stones Throw Records has this to add, “Kon and Amir’s seminal “On Track” mixtape series hipped hordes of young, crusty fingered hip-hop fiends to the music that formed the basis for their favorite songs. Traveling through their own sample-lands, the two worried less about mixed perfection and more about en-masse education via hundreds of loops, drum breaks and grooves, laid side by side, as quickly and efficiently as possible. The result? Lots of requests for La Planete Sauvage’s OST, and more than a few crate diggers scratching their heads, saying “Now what that fuck was that?!”

As Amir puts it, “I want those who appreciate good music to become fans.” If the DJ with the deep crates has become the new music historian then Kon and Amir are sitting on PhD’s and have been teaching lessons for years.

“The Cleaning” will also give the listener a well thought out experience that only diggers Kon and Amir could provide through their record expertise; a feel that will sonically appeal to the new school hip-hop listeners as well as the “mature” crowd, who might have enjoyed hip-hop back in the day but have since given up on it. “It’s not just the music I love,” voices Kon. “But music other people need to be put up on.” Uncle Junior/7Heads owner Wes Jackson had this to add, “I feel that cats who are in the late 20’s all the way up to 40 feel like there are no records for them. Either 50 Cent is too nihilistic for their mature taste or they are too young for Luther. We have strived to provide that middle ground sound. “The Cleaning” hits that on the head. Black, white, Nicaraguan, men, women, 16 year old backpackers and 30 year old MBA candidates will be able to vibe to this record.”

“For DJs like myself,” explains Beni B, President of ABB Records in California. “Programming is key and that’s what sets Kon and Amir apart from the rest of the beat pack. Collecting beats has been made easy with the help of EBay, disc guides, and compilations etc. But it takes true knowledge and skills to flip’em, mix, blend, and cut ’em to tell a story and paint a picture. Kon and Amir’s “The Cleaning” is the next evolution in the beat CD game, ˜damn good music. Period.'”

One of the outstanding cuts on “The Cleaning” and the lead off single is Leon Ware’s “California.” A beautiful song that sonically paints a picture of the crown of the West Coast. The album winds down with 100% Pure Poison “The Windy C”, a personal favorite. The song moves from spoken word to a stinking instrumental to scatting. And just to make sure we know they still love us the album ends with a silky smooth ballad from Band X, one of the gems from Kon’s crates.

By spanning decades of yesteryear’s music, Kon and Amir, with tapes like the On Track series and “The Cleaning” give the listener a little bit of a perspective as well as a message. “It’s real music at this point,” states Amir. “I’m happy to be a part of it.” So are we. If you enjoy music and appreciate what good music can do then there is hope and reason to believe it can still affect you. Kon and Amir are doing the hard work by finding it for us and proving it still exists. “There is so much good, old music,” concludes Kon. “It’s going to be brand new to a ton of people.”

Chairman Mao sums it up best in the liner notes, “I freely admit it. We record collecting types of the hip hop generation”˜beat diggers,’ as we’re often referred to”are some strange cats: compulsive to the point of obsession, competitive, and insecure. Kon and Amir understand this record-related real talk. My Boston-bred brethren have been in this digging game for years. It’s made them, like all of us, animals … [The Cleaning] is an infectiously breezy program. But perhaps the tune here that best sums up the whole thing is Jade’s “Music Slave.” Certainly, we of the Digging Nation”whether toiling 60-hour weeks, or squeezing record scratch out of unemployment checks”can relate when the band’s raspy front man unabashedly admits, ˜Got no job but music is my beat.'”

LIVEDATES

28.05.2004 – Cologne, Arttheater
29.05.2004 – Muenster, Write for Gold @ Skaters Palace (during the day)
29.05.2004 – Hamburg, Mandarin (evening)
03.06.2004 – Amsterdam, Bitterzoet
05.06.2004 – London, Jet Set @ Lifthouse
06.06.2004 – Zurich, Bogen 13
07.06.2004 – Tuebingen, Jazzkeller
09.06.2004 РMunich, Atomic Caf̩
10.06.2004 – Erfurt, Presseclub
11.06.2004 – Berlin, Watergate
12.06.2004 – Manchester, Friends and Family

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