Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Lesson(s)

Steinski - What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective
(Illegal Art)

How a nice Jewish boy from the suburbs became one of the most influential producers in hiphop, sampling, and cut & paste.

Worked as an advertising copywriter for 6 years - Polaroid, Volkswagen, Atari, etc. Taught copywriting at The School Of Visual Arts. Spent all disposable income on records. Promoted and DJ'ed dances in Brooklyn, hung out at early downtown Manhattan hiphop clubs; Negril, the Roxy. Quit advertising.

With partner Double Dee (Douglas DiFranco; a prince), co-produced the series of records known as The Lessons: The Lesson (The Payoff Mix), Lesson 2 (The James Brown Mix), Lesson 3 (The History Of Hiphop) for the Tommy Boy label. The first lesson won a nationwide remix contest by Tommy Boy Records that was judged by Afrika Bambaataa, Shep Pettibone, Jellybean Benitez and Arthur Baker, and subsequently became a Top 10 request on urban radio nationwide. These analog tape cut-and-paste collages, still widely bootlegged (and wildly illegal), are generally acknowledged as three of the most influential works in the world of hiphop and dance music production. Cited as definitive influences by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, who recorded their own series of Lessons.

As a solo producer, crafted “The Motorcade Sped On” turning historic broadcasts of the Kennedy assasination into a hiphop record. The NME gave away a quarter-million copies of the song as a Flexidisc stapled to the cover of the magazine.

Solo productions for Ninjatune include “It's Up To You” and “I'm Wild About That Thing” a satire on sex licensed to Pretty Polly Bras (UK) for TV advertising campaign. Go figure.

Reunited with Double Dee (a prince) after 10 years to produce “Jazz” for Tommy Boy's 10th Anniversary. Also illegal, also bootlegged.

Other recordings include:

Numerous 12" remixes and collages,

Remix of “Relax” (Frankie Goes To Hollywood) for the film Zoolander,

Burning Out Of Control, an album length mix of the Sugarhill Records catalogue for the Antidote label (UK)

12" collage “Ain't No Thing” for the Stone's Throw release of The Third Unheard (Connecticut Rap) compilation.

Nothing To Fear, a mix CD reviewed extensively and favorably by Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, URB,, Metro, The Wire and Hiphop Connection.

Featured in the documentary film Scratch.

This is a two CD set, with 14 retrospective tracks on disc 1, and the 28-track Nothing To Fear on disc 2. The second disc (along with The Lessons) is perhaps the most obvious precursor to Girl Talk's Night Ripper and was described by Salon as “The closest thing to a [mashup] masterpiece the genre has yet produced.” Packaging includes a 20-page booklet featuring liner notes by Hua Hsu (The Wire, New York Times, Village Voice, Slate, etc.) and Steinski himself.

Lesson 1 (The Payoff Mix)
Lesson 2 (James Brown Mix)
Lesson 3 (History of Hip Hop)

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