Big Shouts to all of the blogs and DJs that have been showing No Clearance so much love. We thought we’d enhance the experience this week with a set of liner notes written to give you some insight into the creation of Dujeous’ latest project. We also shed light on the original joints that we sampled for our adventures in beat-jacking. Hope you enjoy.
1. INTRO feat. Cornelius
The entire time we were recording this album, we had never discussed putting an intro at the start of the project. We just had the vision of rocking the sequence week-by-week, starting with “Into Night.” But Tom P. found this Japanese record by an artist named Cornelius, and we felt that the vibe was a perfect backdrop for the setup. We always take issue with the need to “talk shit” in the intros of our records. If it’s accidental, then fine, but anything else just seems forced. This is basically our response to that. And so… “The Intro.”
Cornelius “Mic Check”
2. INTO NIGHT feat. The Shins (Week 1)
This song got its start in our peoples Cinematic Music’s studio, and it was technically the first track recorded for this project. Originally a Shins joint called “Sea Legs,” Mojo brought the track into the studio and Taylor chopped the beat up, leaving James Mercer’s vocals saying, “Eventually fading into night.” We had the idea that we might use this as a remix, or sequel of sorts, for the title track of our upcoming Day In Day Out album, so we all got in the booth to record ourselves singing the word “Day.” Mas D immediately put down a fire verse. After that we decided that we didn’t want this to be a remix that gets lost in the shuffle, so we let it stand on its own. Fact: Taylor recorded Mo’s verse in a hotel room in Connecticut while they were at the NACA music conference in November, and we released it online a few days later.
Original Song: The Shins “Sea Legs”
3. SO CHILL (Wintertime) feat. The Steve Miller Band (Week 2)
Taylor brought this Steve Miller track called “Winter Time” to the next week’s session, and it was excellent timing. It was that week in November when we had the first crazy cold weather of the year. The sample was describing exactly the feeling of the city at that moment, with everybody gearing up for Thanksgiving later on that week. We were recording up at Mas D’s crib in Harlem, and it was brick as hell outside, so we decided to speak on it. Fact: It turns out that Taylor had used this beat months earlier with Joe Holiday, but the two of them couldn’t decipher what the sample was saying. Their version was titled “So True.”
Original Song: Steve Miller Band “Wintertime”
4. THE MORE YOU FIND OUT feat. The Budos Band (Week 3)
O.G. Dujeous member David Guy is also a member of some of the dopest soul & funk music bands on the scene today, including the Dap Kings & the writers of this track, the Budos Band. Apex brought this track into the studio, Taylor looped and sequenced it up, and Mojo laid down the hook, the question that drives the song: “Why’s it the more you find out, the less you want to know?” All along, Mas D had been searching for the right track to use for an idea of a song that follows an entire conversation in lyrics. He wanted to make sure that there were all of the interruptions and imperfections of an actual conversation. The MCs all wrote entire verses, and then assigned lines to each other in order to act out the scene realistically. For the final verse, Rheturik introduced the cop characters, so we got Tomek to play both roles. It was a cool lyrical exercise, and we sent it over to Tom Brenneck from the Budos Band a couple of days after we finished it up for the Dap stamp of approval. Suggestion: Pay special attention to The Guy’s blistering trumpet solo on the bridge. Ridunkulous.
Original Song: The Budos Band “Budos Rising”
5. UPTOWN feat. Joe Cuba (Week 4)
Taylor made this beat a while back, and it was only right for the Duj MCs to get on this one. An ode to our birthplaces, and a funky slice of tropicalia hip-hop. We’ve been performing this one in our live show since before the track was released. The recently deceased Joe Cuba—rest in peace—says it best: “Uptown, that’s the place…that’s where I was born.” On the outro, all of us randomly shouted out our favorite Uptown landmarks & institutions. Fact: The list includes everything from The Schomburg Museum to Caporal Fried Chicken.
Original Song: Joe Cuba “Tu Lo Sientes?”
6. DON”T SING feat. Dolly Parton (Week 5)
Vince Mancini has been a Duj affiliate damn near since there was a Duj to speak of. An MC in Taylormade’s previous group Higher Circle, Vince is also a crazy talented graphic designer. He’s designed the cover for No Clearance, the single cover for Break Bread, our last mixtape Game 7, and a bunch of other Dujeous products. A few years ago, he moved down to Nashville with his family. One night a couple of months back, Vince sent Taylor a Dolly Parton track to see what he would do with it. Dolly’s a labelmate of ours on INgrooves, so Taylor chopped the track up real lovely. The result was “Don’t Sing.” We felt we had to speak on the wack-ass trend of dudes who can’t sing all of the sudden thinking that they’re Luther Vandross or Phil Collins on the mic. Auto-Tune isn’t always the answer either. We took a page from Dolly and put it simply: “Don’t sing!” Fact: Our favorite part of this track is the very beginning. If you try to add shaker to a track while drunk on cheap beer, this could happen to you. We’re looking at you, Mas D.
Original Song: Dolly Parton “Silver Dagger” (Bob Dylan / Joan Baez cover)
7. SLAY BELLS feat. The Peanuts Gang (Week 6)
At least once every year during the Christmas season, one can surely find most of the Duj drunkenly reciting the lyrics to Run-DMC’s “Christmas In Hollis.” This year we decided to write our own carol. With an assist from the Peanuts Gang, Taylor chopped the hell out of the Vince Guaraldi original from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and came up with the track. Ape jumped on it and played bass and some synthesizer. We got into the Christmas spirit over at Tom P’s studio in BK and laid all of the vocals on the Sunday before we released it. The MCs in Dujeous have known each other since they were in pre-K, and they grew up singing together in a chorus. Fact: The last bit on this track is part of an O.G. Barbara Ames (our elementary school music teacher) arrangement of “Hark How the Bells” mixed with a lot of beer.
Original Song: Vince Guaraldi Trio “Christmastime Is Here”
8. THE RECAP (So Real) feat. Jeff Buckley (Week 7)
Tomek had shown us this Jeff Buckley song years ago with an eye on sampling it for a track. We all felt it was dope, but that maybe the concept of “So Real” had been played out a bit. The timing worked out nicely when we were doing No Clearance, because we wanted to have a track for New Year’s Day to reflect on 2008. It was an eventful year, and we decided to recap all of the things that were “so real” that had occurred—our New Year’s gift for those who had been rocking with us for the previous 6 weeks. Rheturik took a more political approach, Mas D kept it personal, and Mojo addressed the pop cultural milestones. R.I.P. Jeff Buckley.
Original Song: Jeff Buckley “So Real”
9. SUNSHINE feat. John Denver (Week 8)
Before NC popped off, this was a track that Taylor had produced and Mojo had written the original hook for. When we played it for Mas & Rhet, they didn’t like the idea of it being a “girl” song. “Too soft,” grumbled Mas D. So we came up with the idea of separating each verse into a different version of “Sunshine.” Rhet was speaking on a particular strain of weed called Sunshine, Mojo stayed with the female personification of a chick named Sunshine, and Mas D wrapped it up by talking about actual sunshine. We were loving Rhet’s Cali-homage flow for this one, so he set the song off perfectly. Fact: Rheturik’s mention of “where the Jedis and the Ewoks met” refers to the redwood forest near Eureka in Northern Cali. This is where the majority of Return of the Jedi’s action sequences were filmed, and also the final destination of a 2007 Dujeous tour where most of us spent the show officially stoned off of our faces. Peace, Humboldt County. We’ll be back.
Original Song: John Denver “Sunshine On My Shoulders”
10. NO WARS NO CARS feat. Ellen Allien (Week 9)
Tomek had brought us this track early on in the No Clearance sessions, but we kind of pushed it to the back for a while. We recorded this the week that the tape of the Oakland Police killing unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant was released. Having grown up in Giuliani’s Manhattan during the ‘90s, this was an all-too-familiar scene. We knew we had to speak on it, but wanted to do something unique. Mas came up with the opening chant, and we just started trading lines from there. We all wrote this one collectively, and recorded in an unusual way. Each verse was kicked by a single MC, and then certain lines were overdubbed by the others to create a rapid-fire back & forth pattern. Apex looped and sequenced the song. This was the first NC session that Ape engineered, and the complexity of the recording had us in the studio (aka Mas’ crib) until the next morning. After Taylor put a mix on it, we released it online as a tribute to Oscar Grant two days later. Fact: Longtime Duj affiliate and ill producer Omen saved this session from being a bust. Just as we started recording we realized that we needed a mic clip and an RCA adapter in order to set up the booth at Mas D’s. We had forgotten them, but luckily O was in a session two blocks away, and had the components we needed. Ape ran down the block and came back with the goods, plus some Popeye’s.
Original Song: Ellen Allien “Wish”
11. 8 Years feat. Mr. Hudson & Dubya (Week 10)
Mr. Hudson is a UK dude who has recently been working with Kanye West and his GOOD Music roster. His debut album with his band The Library was full of dope rock breaks and melodies. Mojo had managed to pick up a copy, and brought it to Taylormade. There was one joint called “One Specific Thing” that had a crazy beat to it. Taylor looped it and we started brainstorming on how we would use it. Mr. Hudson’s lyric “So I packed up my life” was evocative of a long journey. It so happened that that week’s No Clearance track was set to be released on Inauguration Day. So many people were releasing Obama anthems around this time, but we wanted to be different, and thought the hook was a perfect fit for a farewell (and good riddance) song to George W. Bush. We each said our peace, with Mas D actually spitting from Bush’s perspective as he gets booted out of the White House. Taylormade did an amazing job chopping up the samples of the unbelievable things that Dubya had said during his presidency. Can y’all believe that this guy was our president for 8 years? It all seems like a bad dream now, but it’s going to be hard to undo the damage that he caused.
Original Song: Mr. Hudson & The Library “One Specific Thing”
12. INTERNET FRIEND feat. Simon & Garfunkel and EQ (Week 11)
Taylormade produced this track before NC, and Duj fam EQ (Jigsaw The Puzzler & Eddie Hoarse) laid the hook and developed the concept. Since No Clearance was designed as an online project, the track ended up fitting perfectly into the series. The flip of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was the icing on the cake. Mas once again took the verse as a roleplay, and wrote a creepy rhyme from the perspective of an e-stalker. “Creeping…”
Original Song: Simon & Garfunkel “The Sound of Silence”
13. MMMM feat. Crash Test Dummies (Bonus Track)
What can we say about this one? This was written in the same session as “Into Night,” and was based on a hit song by the Crash Test Dummies. The humming in the chorus reminded Taylor’s sick mind of a certain, um, technique, and he passed the idea on to Mo and D. The verses came out hysterical. The song had kind of lurked in the background throughout the recording sessions for No Clearance. We knew it would be a great fit for the project, but we didn’t really know when to release it (plus Rhet hadn’t finished his verse yet). Finally, Rhet laid his verse down at Mas D’s, and Taylor also recorded some additional vocals from Mista Vishus & our homegirl Claudette. It was a little over the top at first, but once we settled on a tone the song came together with the quickness. Taylor and Tomek provided the intro & outro for the song respectively. The outro is Sir Richard Attenborough speaking on…well, listen for yourselves.
Original Song: Crash Test Dummies “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”
14. BREAK BREAD (RMX) feat. The Menahan Street Band (Bonus Track)
Break Bread is our new single from our upcoming album Day In Day Out (which is due later this year). Since it was released on iTunes in December, we’ve gotten a great response from college radio, fans, and casual listeners alike. Apex brought this track to the sessions with the idea of making a Break Bread remix. The original song is by yet another group that David Guy plays with, the Menahan Street Band. They blew up last year after their amazing “Make The Road By Walking” was sampled by Jay-Z for “Roc Boys (And The Winner Is…).” Their entire album is ridiculous, and this backdrop seemed to be perfect for revisiting the lyrics of Break Bread. Ape had already figured out a new way to sing the hook and even got his T-Pain on, auto-tuning his reference vocals for us to sing along to. The day before No Clearance was released, the MCs got together at Tomek’s studio to record their final vocals over the remix, finally wrapping the project after 13 weeks of writing and recording.
Original Song: Menahan Street Band “The World” (Vinyl Only B-side to “Make the Road by Walking”)
Available at http://www.myspace.com/dunhamrecords
We want to thank you, the fans, for rocking with us over these last months. We hope that you followed the music as it was released each week, but if not, please enjoy it now in its entirety. Once again, a strong shout of peace to all of the DJs, blogs, and websites that picked up No Clearance or any of the individual tracks from it. We definitely appreciate the support, and we’re going to continue to hit you with new music throughout 2009 and beyond.
What’s that? You didn’t download No Clearance yet? You know you done fucked up, right? Here’s the link: