From: New York, NY
Sound: the O.G. of sample-based hip-hop sound collages
Similar Artists: DJ Shadow, Girl Talk, Cut Chemist, Liam Howlett, RJD2
Listen Now: "The Payoff Mix"
Robert Christgau on Steinski: "He's just a perpetually disillusioned optimist who still assumes that the sounds and images rippling through the American consciousness are, forget copyright, every American's birthright--that we're all free to interpret and manipulate them as we choose..."
Now here's a little story I've got to tell
About three bad brothers you (may not) know so well.
It started way back in history
With Tommy Boy, Double Dee, and our man - Steinski.
Tommy Boy had a little contest, 1983 was the year
Just Double Dee, Steinski, and a quart of beer.
Riding across the land, kicking up sand,
"Play That Beat, Mr. DJ" - they were in demand.
Un-lonely DJ Steinski
All by himself with his boy Double Dee.
The workplace was beatin' down on their baseball hats
Music studio gettin' hot, ad agency gettin' flat.
Lookin' for some fun, they ran into renown,
Turned hip-hop on its face with a brand new sound...
Backstory: Steve Stein (aka Steinski) dropped out of both Temple and Franconia College before finding his way to Madison avenue where he worked as an advertising copywriter for six years. During this time he taught copywriting at The School Of Visual Arts and spent his evenings promoting and DJing dances in Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan hip-hop clubs. Then, one day in 1983, he and partner Douglas DiFranco (aka Double Dee) entered the Tommy Boy Records promotional contest to remix the single "Play That Beat, Mr. D.J." by G.L.O.B.E. and Whiz Kid. They blew the jury away (a jury that included Afrika Bambaataa, Shep Pettibone, and "Jellybean" Benitez) and took first prize with ease with their song titled "The Payoff Mix" (listen above/below). "The Payoff Mix" became the first record in a series now known as The Lessons - Lesson Two being "The James Brown Mix" and Lesson 3: "The History of Hip Hop." An underground sensation was born as the series quickly became much sought after by collectors which, in turn, led to homage records by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist (among others). However, somewhat ironically, the duo wouldn't see their music officially/widely released until this year due to copyright issues surrounding the flurry of film, music, and vocal samples they employed.
Today: Now, for the first time, Illegal Art has made available a Steinski retrospective titled What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective. The release is split into two discs: the first record contains b-boy anthems, avant sound collages, samples galore, and more than a couple of introspective looks at rap, rock, dance, and the nation which gave birth to the culture of hip-hop. It's legendary when considered as a career compendium - it is the landmark when considered in terms of the impact these songs have had on a generation of producers and DJs.
The second disc contains an hour-long mashup titled "Nothing To Fear: A Rough Mix." This mix was produced for Solid Steel/BBC London and was described by Salon as, "the closest thing to a masterpiece the genre has yet produced." The retrospective is essential listening for anyone who considers his or herself to be in love with music. Period. I'll say it again (for emphasis, you know): What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective is essential listening for anyone who considers his or herself to be a true lover of music. Period. If you fell in love with Night Ripper by Girl Talk in 2006 - if you think Endtroducing... is one of the great albums of the '90s - you owe it to yourself to understand what came before.
The history of hip-hop has been built upon the shoulders of itself time and again. It got its start as a unique genre at house parties and clubs in New York city with MCs rapping over beats provided by DJs who were looping breaks in dance, soul, rock, and funk records. It got its start as an art form a few years later when Steinski "took hip-hop's tradition of reformatting existing material and made it a postmodern funhouse." Postmodern funhouse! Jam on it.
I said jam-j-j-j-j-jam on it.
*above photo from HERE.
"The Payoff Mix"
"Lesson 2 (James Brown Mix)"
"Lesson 3 (History of Hip Hop)"
Visit Steinski on MySpace.
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
These United States
Plants and Animals
All the Saints
I'm From Barcelona
Tapes 'n Tapes
See the entire list of bands featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week HERE.
04 June 2008