WARMER MIXTAPES #1628 | by Cole C. [That Purple Bastard/Purple Bastard] of 6 Demon Bag

1. Aphex Twin  | Windowlicker
This track is probably one that pops up on many people’s lists and I would argue that it is probably one of the most influential pieces in Modern Music. It was probably the first totally Electronic song that I ever heard with a really organic sounding vibe; it writhes around in your mind and soul like some great snake, but is warm and connective in some strange way that defies explanation. I remember seeing the very bizarre Music Video for it at Number’s, a historic nightclub in Houston, Texas, probably around the time it was released and being put off by the overly-long intro sequence and by the grotesque appearance of Richard D. James face imposed on various large-breasted models bodies. I was so put off by the creepy aesthetics of the video that I probably didn’t even really pay much attention to The Music. It wasn’t till about 5 years later that I really went back to give the track a second spin (probably via Aphex’ influence on Radiohead, I don’t really remember) and being totally captivated and blown away by it. At the time I had been noodling around with Electronic Music and Hip Hop for a few years, but this track totally changed the direction I wanted to go with my stuff. From that point forward I wanted to imbue my productions with this same sort of organic movement, seeking to bring any kind of flat or stale compositions I had to Life like some sort of golem.

2. Sa-Ra Creative Partners | Hollywood (from Set-Ups & Justifications album sampler)
In 2005, I finally decided to begin pursuing a career as a Hip Hop producer seriously and enrolled in School at Houston Community College for Audio Engineering. One of the great things about going to School there was that the school would always get a bunch of free copies of Music magazines that you would have to pay for otherwise. It would usually be copies of either Mix or Electronic Musician, but every so often they would get Remix or the coveted Scratch magazine (both were discontinued in ’06 or ’07). Anyway, all it took was one issue of Scratch and I was hooked, I immediately signed up for a subscription so I wouldn’t have to lurk outside the Registry Office to ensure that I got my free copy. Scratch was an unique publication in that it was specifically tailored to Hip Hop producers & DJs, whereas the other magazines were a little broader in their scope. Anyway, I remember the very first issue of Scratch I received in the mail was covered by these 3 weird Space Age, Retro Funk looking dudes billed as Sa-Ra Creative Partners who had just been signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music label when it was still in its infancy. I was immediately intrigued by these guys not only because they had a style (clothing-wise) that was different than anyone else out at the time, but also reading the article, these guys had a production process that was highly different than other producers I was learning about at the time. Essentially, these guys were three engineer audio-nerds who had combined their powers to form a supergroup that released Music both as their own entity, but also as producers for other artists. Their Music was extremely organic in feeling and overall vibe and they were championing Analog in Hip Hop at a time when Digital reigned supreme. After reading the article, I immediately went and downloaded the few songs that I could find, one of these being a hand-clap and falsetto-singing driven Lo-Fi masterpiece entitled Hollywood (Redux). The piece was dazzling in that it combined a great number of familiar elements in such a way that I had never heard before. Furthermore, it inspired me to explore my Musicality outside the context of DJing or Computer Music and soon afterward I began taking private lessons on a bass guitar with the goal of injecting more Humanity and Organic Funk into my own productions.

3. Geto Boys | Mind Playing Tricks On Me
I grew up on the South East side of Houston, Texas in a really poor neighborhood. My family was a single-income one with my mom staying at home and taking care of me and my dad was a floor-layer who worked virtually all the time. I was always a creative and inquisitive kid, so my mom enrolled me in a magnet program in a nearby Elementary School that was predominantly African-American called Pleasantville Elementary. It was there that I first was really exposed to Rap Music and really began to develop a taste for it early on. Pleasantville was also a stone’s throw away from the infamous neighborhood of 5th Ward which was also home to the Southern breakout Gangsta Rap group, the Geto Boys. My best friend Robert worked at a shoe-shine shop over in 5th Ward, so I spent a good deal of time over there as a young kid. Now at that time, Rap Music was way more controversial than it is now and my mom wasn’t really crazy about me listening to it. I still did though, mostly through friends and through the radio. The Geto Boys' Mind Playing Tricks On Me was huge due to the fact that it was from Houston. The fact that it was the first major radio single from any Houston Rap artist meant that it got played almost constantly on the radio so as kids we knew every word. Furthermore, Mind Playing Tricks On Me was a national hit whose influence on the genre as a whole cannot be understated, a work of Art with more Depth and Substance than most Music coming out of either the East or West coast at the time of its release. I still get chills to this day when Bushwick Bill’s signature rasp comes in with the line This year Halloween fell on a weekend

4. Swishahouse | Drank Up In My Cup (from Swishahouse's Ballin & Shotcallin album)
Not to be confused with the recent Kirko Bangz radio single of the same name, this is a mixtape freestyle track released by North-side Houston Rap collective Swishahouse featuring a virtual who’s-who of unknown rappers who were affiliated with Swishahouse in its early days. This track features the likes of Big Tiger, Lester Roy, Lil’ Ron, Big Tubby, and Blindcyde freestyling over the instrumental to the Timbaland produced Missy Elliot track All N My Grill. The track is slowed-down in the Screw tradition and also contains elements from the R.P. Cola track Too Much Lean In My Cup. Despite none of the artists on the track ever achieving near the level of success as label-mates Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, or Mike Jones, this track is regarded by many in Texas as the essence of Crunk-ness. It’s a track that any DJ can throw on to a Texas audience remotely familiar with Screw culture and have people getting super hype and often reciting the originally-freestyled track word-for-word. Personally, I discovered this track when I was in College at University Of Texas in Austin via Napster download and was immediately convinced that this track was the shit. This was also the track that I would use to introduce people outside of Texas to Screw Music/culture believing that they would be instantly converted after a single listen. (This was circa 2000 and Screw Music didn’t really blow up outside of Texas/the South till after 2005.) I remember playing it for a guy in Brooklyn, New York who was surprisingly unimpressed and driving around South Central LA (where I have lived for the past 4 years, LA, not South Central) with it blaring out of the open windows of my ’92 Buick Century upon my first visit there.

5. Beck | Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat)
Like I mentioned before, I grew up and went to Elementary School in a pretty poor area of town, so it was a pretty big culture shock for me when I started attending Middle School at Lanier, a magnet school in an upper-middle class area of town. These kids weren’t the predominantly African-American Rap listeners I had grown up with, but were instead predominantly rich white kids listening to the Grunge Rock that had been filtered down through the mainstream. Eager to fit in, I quickly traded in any baggy urban clothing for flannel long-sleeve shirts and soon found myself listening to groups like Nirvana and Soundgarden in order to catch up with my peers. Although it was a little foreign to me, a lot of the Music was really good and it wasn’t really hard for me to get into it. On top of that, my parents were going through a divorce around that time, so my dad would buy a lot of these artists' albums in part because he heard them on the radio and liked them, but also in part to bond with me. I also started watching MTV around that time which was also a big facilitator of Music at that point. I remember watching the Music Video to Beck’s Where It’s At and it making somewhat of an impression on me. What really sealed the deal was when my dad bought the album Odelay and I really heard the whole project in his truck. I was blown away and instantly identified with Beck more so than any of the other groups that were falling under the Grunge/Alternative umbrella at that time. His Eclecticism and Eccentricity immediately stood out to me as someone who had grown up in unconventional circumstances much like me. I was so impressed that I would ultimately go back in his catalogue to check out his less-polished, but still somewhat approachable, Mellow Gold. It was really my first encounter with an album that embodied such a raw and experimental aesthetic and I absolutely loved it. Being a Houston-boy I particularly loved the Screwed Folk aesthetic of Truckdrivin Neighbors Downstairs (Yellow Sweat), a downtempo Despair-filled affair that paradoxically remained somewhat light-hearted and funny through Beck’s absurdist lyrics.

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico | Heroin
I have never done heroin. The closest I ever came was smoking opium once with a friend’s boyfriend or perhaps it was smuggled into my system unbeknownst to me in one of the small handful of times that I ever did Ecstasy. Either way, I never shot up. I can’t really say when I first heard this song either, but I was probably pretty young since VU is one of my mom’s favorite groups. However, I will say that I think Heroin by The Velvet Underground & Nico must be one of the most perfectly written songs ever because it allows you to really feel the highs and lows of a junkie without ever putting a needle to your arm. The gentle strum of the song slowly ascends to dizzying and euphoric heights before dropping into Chaos and Despair, all the while the pulse is kept by the heartbeat thump of the toms. As one of the few groups who I really feel have the ability to elicit a genuine emotional response from me, VU will always have a place in my heart. There are many songs by them that I love, but Heroin is the best.

7. Lil' FlipFreestyle 2 (from Swishahouse's I-45 album)
Like I said, Freestyle culture is real big in Houston, the culture is pretty unique in the regards that you have hundreds of thousands of people who will know all the words to certain songs that were freestyled more than they will know the original song that is being rapped over. Anointed by the legendary DJ Screw before his passing, in the early 2000’s, Lil’ Flip WAS the Freestyle King of Houston, Texas and was one of the first Houston artists to appear both on DJ Screw’s mixtape as well as North-side rivals Swishahouse. Furthermore, he was one of the first Houston artists in over 10 years (since the Geto Boys) to gain any sort of traction on a national level. In 2002, Lil’ Flip was that dude and it would be a few more years before any major labels paid any attention whatsoever to Houston artists. The freestyle appeared on Swishahouse’s aptly-titled I-45 mixtape, named after the I-45 freeway that runs through the various ghettos of Houston. The I-45 freestyle was easily a standout of the OG Ron C hosted mixtape, although there was another freestyle featuring Slim Thug & J-Dawg over a Timbaland beat that also stuck with me (which I recently sampled for a track I did with Houston rapper Renzo). The Flip track (which was basically a 8-minute or so freestyle featuring only Lil’ Flip rapping improvised bars over the Three 6 Mafia beat to Who Da Crunkest) kind of epitomized what made Flip so great: it was effortless punch-line Rap that was clever, folksy, and unique. Also, Flip always had a certain timbre to his voice that was very smooth, rich, and easily distinguishable from his peers. An interesting footnote to this story is that I always regarded this track as a personal favorite among his recorded freestlyes, which probably numbered in the hundreds if not thousands. A few years ago I had the opportunity to open for Lil’ Flip at Fitzgerald’s, another historic club in Houston via an MC who I frequently collaborate with, D-Risha. After we performed, we naturally stuck around to catch Flip’s set as we were both nostalgic for the era in which he ruled Houston Hip Hop. Sandwiched in the middle of his set of various radio songs and regional hits, he performed this very freestyle even going so far as to have the audience rap the punch lines which we did enthusiastically! It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that this was probably his most famous and well known freestyle, which until then I thought had just been my own personal favorite.

8. Parliament | Presence Of A Brain
I first took to this song when I was about 18 or 19, having moved from my hometown of Houston up to Austin to attend School at The University Of Texas. I was in a new city and was feeling very lonely and isolated and this song really spoke to me. This is an underrated cut from Up For The Down Stroke which manages to be both Funky and introspective at the same time, which is probably the reason why I carried it in my head and heart as a personal anthem for many years. The song itself is 'bout both The Power Of Intelligence, but also about how Intelligence can isolate you from others, a theme which many can relate to. Have you ever felt the presence of a brain? We have all seen them standing amidst the surprised... Sometimes a man smiles and I often wonder... If you can tell he’s a thinker... By the faraway look in his eyes. The power of this song for me lies however in its sharp driving bass line, which stays steady and unwavering throughout the song and is probably my favorite bass line ever recorded. Background vocals float in and out like angels (a Parliament signature) over the singer’s rich baritone and there is a nice little Rhodes piano solo at the end as icing on the cake.

9. George Clinton | Atomic Dog
This was another one that I heard during my formative years that really fucked my head up in a good way. When I was probably 9 or 10 my best friend Robert bought a CD called Old School which was a compilation of Classic Funk records from the late 70’s/early 80’s, it was the 1st in a series of the same name released by Thump Records. Although this album contained several mind-bending classics from that era like Frankie Smith’s Double Dutch Bus (we both learned how to jive-talk after hearing that one), Cutie Pie by One Way, and You Dropped The Bomb by Gap Band; it was the Funk-oozing Atomic Dog by George Clinton that made the biggest impression on me. It was a record far removed from anything I had ever heard before or for that matter have heard since. In essence it is the prefect groove; the bubbling bass line shifts and writhes under heavy handclaps, while George Clinton’s signature croak seems to be drowning in it, struggling to keep from being overwhelmed by The Funk. I believe that this was a watershed record in that many artists that followed tried unsuccessfully to replicate the groove/aesthetic (although many came damn close, and made some amazing Music in the process). As I’ve transitioned into making pretty much Groove-centric Music in my own career, it’s a track that I will reference in my head as I’m making a song like, How can I make this sound/feel more like Atomic Dog?

10. Led Zeppelin | D’yer Mak’er
Led Zeppelin was my dad’s favorite band. I have fond memories of driving around with him in his pickup truck in Southeast Houston, listening to them at full blast while my dad sipped a tall boy from a paper bag. My dad passed away a few years ago under sudden and truly bizarre circumstances, contracting a flesh-eating virus from raw oysters he consumed at a local seafood restaurant, ensuring that it will forever be difficult for me to listen to any Led Zeppelin song (even the hard-rockin’ ones) without tearing up a little. Although a can jam their entire catalogue, this groovy little gem has always been my favorite. As Led Zepp’s one and only attempt at Reggae, it exists in its own perfect space that is not quite Reggae and not quite Zeppelin, though it conjures their signature magic to make quite a sexy tune. Anecdotally, on one of my first gigs running Live Sound I was helping my boss on a job for a Led Zeppelin cover band. When they played this song and I told him it was my favorite, he kind of smirked and told me it was one for the ladies.