When you were a kid, you probably made a collage at one point or another. Do you remember how much fun that was? Cutting and pasting random pictures that had nothing to do with each other, but when you stood back to admire your work, you said to yourself, “This is my masterpiece. I did this.”
Essentially, this philosophy is the recording method that made the golden era of hip hop some the best and most timeless music of the genre. Mister Jason, a Greek-American DJ and Producer from Boston, Massachusetts has always stayed true to this process of digging for rare samples from collectable vinyl and creating something new, from day one. This meticulous and time consuming style (even legal and cost prohibitive) has even made groups like De La Soul and Beastie Boys give up and turn to full 100% computer production.
Being the purist that he is, Mister Jason is back, once again, with his most innovative project, Frankensteez. Frankensteez, is the perfect metaphor for a classic hip hop album. This record, like Frankenstein, has a ridiculous amount of sampled song body parts sewn together to make a monster worthy enough for beat lovers to say this record is… ALIVE!
The average listener, or even self-proclaimed music nerd, may miss one important point here. Hip hop has no rules. You can do whatever you want and use creative freedom to express yourself. But, this doesn’t mean that it’s always good. In fact, you have to be even more creative, because anything goes. This can send you in a million directions, which results in never finding the simple melody and chorus.
Frankensteez is one of those albums that accomplishes this sense of freedom. It’s Funny. Catchy. Goofy. Melodic. Hypnotic. And, most importantly, listenable. Yes, listenable. In a day of the short attention spans, this is a complete album that you can play from start to finish with enough brain and ear candy to keep you hooked on the next sound or transition.
The first single should go down in history as one of the most unique collaborative cuts of all time. You ready for this? The track “Mister Jason has a Posse” consists of 26 rappers, each spitting rapid fire four-liners, with each rapper representing a letter of the alphabet. It is produced so well, despite the number of unique rappers on just this one track, that you never get the sense that the song is crowded. Some of the guests that ride the song’s nasty, vintage drum beat include local Boston based rappers like Slaine (Special Teams, La Coka Nostra),Termanology, Esoteric, and legend Ed O.G.
Oh, and by the way, keep this in mind. The Gorillaz have sold over 15 million records. And they have made a career of Zombie themes and a fictional universe. Don’t wait for your friends to tell you about the next dope album. It’s right here.
Come for a spin with us as we delve into the gregarious Greek mind of Mister Jason himself:
Q. Do you have any old Greek vinyl?
Tons! My Greek Vinyl is as extensive as any other genre I collect. I mostly look for Rembetika. That is the best era, in my opinion.
Q. What do you look for when you search for beats or samples?
I typically look for records that have not been touched, refraining from the obvious, and seek sounds that are a bit from the norm. Children’s records, Moog sounds, records from all parts of the globe, instructional records, and my favorite, WHALE records…such great sounds come from those blubbery things. Drums have to be crisp and have a certain “swing” to them…Drums are the backbone, you could have the most imaginative production/sound, but if your drums are weak, you might as well start over.
Q. Would you consider yourself more of a Producer or DJ?
I would say more of a Producer. There are so many different meanings to the word “DJ,” one can “DJ” a local college party which means you get the play your hottest selections from your iPod play list, it could mean you scratch records and use the turntable as an instrument, or it could mean “professional ass mover” creating the ultimate blends and mixes so the dance floor never stops. I prefer to play records for an eclectic crowd that is looking for a change, and wants to avoid the “top 40.” I like to DJ, but for the right venue. Currently, I have a monthly gig (FEVER) at the Good Life, 28 Kingston Street, Downtown Boston, where I have the freedom to play what I want, which is unique. My slot is the early bird part of the night, more of a warm-up or “loungey” feel to it…my best gigs are art shows, premiers, and showcases which allow me to be creative with the records, vibes that I select. In terms of Production, I incorporate the DJ element by creating “scratch hooks” which is a chorus made up of vocal sentences, from other various other records…I started as a scratch DJ first, then eventually wound up making beats, then producing albums and remixes. The Producer is the conductor, the one who says what goes where, and when, and how it should sound. I “see” arrangements in my head, that eventually get pressed into individual compositions.
Q. What’s the origin of Frankensteez?
“Frankensteez” started as a concept, around 2009, after I decided to make the “Mister Jason Has A Posse” song. After my Engineer/Friend Rain began working on the posse track, I did not want it to stop. I began making beats, all with very different vibes, in hopes to create a melting pot of flavor, one that you could not categorize. Many styles, many flavors, many subject matters…sort of a “Frankenstein” project where there are many different parts, that come together to make the whole, or “monster.” I always liked monster movies and always had an eye for the misinterpreted Monster, who seemed like a misunderstood gentle giant, who was created from scratch and escaped into society, where he was shunned. I always felt this was a lot like hip-hop, well, not hip-hop now, but the hip hop of old, before the mainstream popularity. I made Frankensteez from the ground up, constructed from records I never thought of using, records typically that do not stand out as the norm.
Q. What’s your most sought after record, and why?
In terms of records I want, I don’t have a copy of the 45 “Soupy” by Maggie Thrett, 1965, it’s an obscure gem, sung by an actress, and at the time, appeared on Star Trek.
Q. Which Emcee(s) would you love to produce?
THAT is very good question. I’d love to work with MF DOOM, which I did a remix (Operation Doomsday) for in 2000, which was a dream come true, especially since his former group KMD, was a huge influence on me. I have always thought Pos and Dove of De la Soul where the most creative, abstract emcees on the planet. They don’t get recognition as the “best emcess of all time” list because they are a duo, in a group vs. individual rappers like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-ONE, and Kool G Rap. Finally, the Beastie Boys would be epic, I don’t think I would be able to even think about making something for them, another huge inspiration for me.
Q. Tell us something about old Greek music that you think gets overlooked
I think the storytelling, the “blues” aspect to the music. The pain, the passion, the emotion you can hear in every note. I play those records for my non-greek friends and it gives THEM goosebumps. These records are autobiographical, REAL stories of loss, despair, drug usage, alcoholism, urban violence and love. All the elements that initially attracted to me to folk, soul, punk, hardcore and hip-hop.
Q. Why does humor belong in music?
Humor belongs in LIFE! It’s an expression that makes people feel good and take a break from the everyday grind. As tough as life is, you have to make light of things in order to survive and move on. I try to bring humor out in everything I do, the power of the smile is infectious, people need to take themselves less seriously Life and society are filled with hilarious observations and subjects, laugh a little, it feels good.
Q. Why is it that DJs sample sounds in the past but rarely in the present?
I think that “old sound” came from a time that was more simple, pure and raw. As time goes on, technology and society’s need to always “advance” tends to water down the music and art culture. I embrace technology, but it always makes things “easy” and sometimes one can forget the “attention to detail” that was needed in the first place…Less technology in the past, meant more ideas, more creative people being responsible themselves, not relying on gadgets to generate a sound FOR them.
Q. Who and what are the Red Eggs?
The Red Eggs are a collaboration of two very creative and unusual minds. The concept came to us, about 5-7 years ago, starting with our passion for Rembetika and the Greek culture as a whole. We have a memory bank of hundreds of sounds, all from Greek music, mixed with modern day sampling techniques. It is a work in progress, we are waiting for the right time to drop this egg on the world.
Tags: 7L & Esoteric, Akrobatik, Bad Newz, beastie boys, Big Daddy Kane, Boston Hip Hop, Checkmark, D-Tension, de la soul, Dizzy Dustin, EDO G, Esoteric, Fever, Forcefeeld, fort point recordings, Frankensteez, Good Life Boston, Gorillaz, J-Zone, Jaysaun, K-NO Supreme, KMD, Kool G Rap, KRS-ONE, La Coka Nostra, Masstapeace, MF DOOM, Mister Jason, Mister Jason has a Posse, Moe Pope, MOOG, Nabo Rawk, Oak Lonetree, old school hip hop, operation doomsday, Paul Foley, porn theatre ushers, posse track, prince paul, Q-Unique, Rain Mus(e)ic, Rain Music, Rakim, REKS, rembetika, Riacha La Pasta, Skitzofreniks, Slaine, Soupy Maggie Thrett, Special Teams, Termanology, Thirstin Howell, Top Choice Clique, Ugly Duckling, Will C, YZ