The Wire

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Listen to an exclusive mix by veteran hiphop producer Scotty Hard

July 2017

The veteran producer and engineer (New Kingdom, Gravediggaz, Wu-Tang Clan) presents an exclusive mix featuring Public Enemy, Ornette Coleman, Rammellzee and more

A Canadian based in New York, producer and engineer Scotty Hard (aka Scott Harding) is one of the secret architects of East Coast hiphop, having worked on recordings by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Gravediggaz and The Jungle Brothers. He is also revered for his part in crafting the beat-driven psychedelia of New Kingdom on the albums Heavy Load (1993) and Paradise Don't Come Cheap (1996). Harding's crowdfunded rarities and remixes compilation The Science Of Sesh: From Iceland To Africa – featuring artwork by UK rapper and artist Kid Acne – was reviewed in The Wire 401 by Neil Kulkarni, who described the album as “a thrilling collection of timelessly mindbending music”. You can also read Kulkarni's extensive, career-spanning interview with Harding in The Wire 402.

“This is mix of various things I was listening to when I was young that formed the foundation of my musical influences," says Harding. "But I wanted it to also work as a nice mix to listen to and make sense and not just be a bibliography. Hence I left out a number of big influences like John Cage, Rzewski, Andriessen, Varèse, Stravinsky and numerous other composers from the European tradition. I was also listening to Astor Piazzolla, No New York, Pere Ubu, Rip Rig & Panic, LKJ, Talking Heads' Remain In Light and many others.

“We start out with Public Enemy’s “Show Em Whatcha Got” from It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. Hugely influential album to so many people, in and out of hiphop. It was really the thing that pushed me over the edge to move to New York and go all in! I had always thought I'd go to New York because that's where the music was for me, and I couldn't ignore its pull after hearing this. I love the rawness of LL Cool J's “Radio”, with its stripped down beats and basic rhymes. “Beat Bop” really blew my mind when I first heard it, and still holds up as an incredibly unique approach to mixing. Basquiat’s influence is all over it, as he did the original cover art and was listed as the producer. The extreme use of reverb, coming in and out, was something that inspired the New Kingdom track “Lazy Smoke” from the first album Heavy Load.

“I really loved the Zazou/Bikaye album Noir Et Blanc when it first came out. I was listening to a lot of African music and this was an oddity that blended that sound with a sort of Holger Czukay European electronics. I was enthralled by North African music as well. The Gnawa and Sufi stuff is so powerful. I was quiet humbled to have met Bachir Attar in the 1990s and when Billy Martin asked me to work on a project with them I said yes before he even finished asking! We did a record called The Road To Jajouka in 2013. I saw Beefheart with the Magic Band on the Doc At The Radar Station tour and it was one of the most amazing shows I ever saw. Heavy!

“It's been said a million times that Beefheart got a lot from Howlin’ Wolf, and it's pretty obvious, but this section is where my biggest guitar influences exist. Hubert Sumlin is one of my all time favorites. Got to work with him about 10 years ago and was such a bucket list moment. Pete Cosey is playing guitar on After The Rain, the Muddy Waters record that “Bottom Of The Sea” comes from. I looked for that record for 20 years and then they reissued it about a month after I finally found an original! The production, sounds and musicians on this record is awesome. Charles Stepney orchestrating some psychedelic blues!! I love what Blood does so much. Totally unique. Feel he's more an inspiration that an “influence”, although Vernon Reid once told me he heard some Blood in my playing, so there you go!

“Ornette’s harmolodic approach really affected me back then. My band in Vancouver, Rhythm Mission, open for that band back in 1982. All the free jazz people were outraged that a “rock” band would play with Ornette, but he had specifically told the promoters “No jazz!" We were kind of a punk-funk band with sax and jazzy guitar, so we thought we fitted in! Miles Davis is such a huge influence. Had all his records, read all the books. Just his iconoclasm and always pushing the music forward was, and continues to be, my template for being an artist. Same with Ellington, in so many ways. This is a late piece that gets trashed on by the traditionalist jazz people, which is why it's so dope!

”Had to give a quick nod to Brazil, even though I wasn't listening to anything like this back then. I could easily have put in Black Saint And The Sinner Lady or Tijuana Moods by Mingus, which I was listening to a lot, but Moacir Santos is kind of the Brazilian Mingus. And L’Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud was another record I read about and dug deep to find. Very obscure back then. And a nice mellow way to end the set.”

Tracklist

Public Enemy “Show Em Whatcha Got”
LL Cool J “I Can't Live Without My Radio”
Rammellzee Vs K Rob “Beat Bop”
Zazou/Bikaye & CY1 “M'Pasi Ya”
Gnawa Music Of Marrakesh “Baba L'Rouami”
Mono Mono “Kenimania”
Captain Beefheart “Hot Head”
Howlin’ Wolf “Three Hundred Pounds Of Joy”
Muddy Waters “Bottom Of The Sea”
James Blood Ulmer “Church”
Ornette Coleman & Prime Time “Sleep Talk”
Miles Davis “One And One”
Duke Ellington “Chinoiserie”
Moacir Santos “Coisas #4”
Miles Davis “Florence South Les Champs-Élysées”

The Science Of Sesh: From Iceland To Africa is released by Ingua

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