SummaryOn the follow-up to their Now-Again/Stones Throw album, Connie Price and the Keystones step-up with a heavyweight dynamic soundtrack-inspired hip hop album. While their debut was instrumental, Tell Me Something is the opposite, featuring a marquee-filling list of quality MCs. The legendary Big Daddy Kane, Percee P, Wildchild from the Lootpack, Ubiquity-labelmate Ohmega Watts, Soup from Jurassic 5, Blood Of Abraham, Mykah 9 from the Freestyle Fellowship and Project Blowed, plus vocalist Aloe Blacc provide lyrics n'rhymes.
Having recently recorded an EP for Scion with Big Daddy Kane, and backing-up Slick Rick, Brand Nubian and Too $hort live, CPK decided to take their live hip hop exploits into the studio. Channeling Wu-Tang and Madlib in equal parts to Schiffrin and Morricone the album bobs and weaves through the head-nodding mellower bpms of "Across The Board" and "Pirates of The Mediterranean" to the more frantic chase-scene tunes like "Hoagies Revenge" and "Master At Work." "Funk revivalist" and "retro" were apt tags for the music of CPK when they started out five years ago, fleshing-out raw funk 45s that rivaled the old-school collectible nuggets they were inspired by. But "Tell Me Something" incorporates much broader influences and is a product of a deeper vision.
"We have thrown all our influences into the mix, not just funk. We love funky music but to us that could mean Jorge Ben, Can, Dennis Coffey, or the Upsetters. I see us more as Hip-Hop influenced cinematic soul music," explains Dan Ubick, one half of the main duo behind CPK. "Also, the MC's and vocalists just make it all that much more dimensional and interesting."
To achieve the desired fuller sound, fat bottom end and hard-hitting drums all the music was played live, then sampled, looped-up and processed to be gritty as possible. Dramatic strings, brassy horns, and a driving percussion section pack a musical punch and leave a bigger impression often missing from "live" rap records. "I approached this project as a Hip-Hop record, it was more about sounds recorded rather than full performances from the musicians. I got to use instruments that were new to me on this album, like tympani, an old '60's organ with fuzz, acoustic piano, and most importantly real strings," says Ubick. "Todd wrote some funky string arrangements for four of the tracks which our good friend Steve Kaye played to perfection. We also had some really unique percussion instruments that make each track really stand out. Most of my equipment was made 30+ years ago, but instruments just sound better to me with a little age on them. Sounds that have been good for 30+ years don't have to be "retro", used the right way they're really just invincible," he adds.
Connie Price and The Keystones was conceived as a recording project, and features music written solely by Dan Ubick, whose recording credits include Breakestra, Madlib's Sound Directions, along with Todd M. Simon, of Macy Gray, Antibalas, and El Michels Affair fame. A revolving cast of characters from the incestuous and bustling Los Angeles music scene add flavor, including drummers: Sean O'Shea (Orgone, Plantlife, Breakestra), Pete McNeal (DJ Z-Trip, Breakestra, Cake), Davey Chegwidden (RRAS, David Holmes), Alan Lightner (RRAS, David Garibaldi), Ricardo Rodriguez (RRAS, Cecilia Noel).