Tuesday, December 11, 2007
10 years of ROOT DOWN By Music Man Miles
Its been a long time... 10 years to be exact, since the seminal funk/breaks/hip hop jam THE BREAKS was started by Music Man Miles, DJ Organic of The Movie "Freestyle" fame & MC HYMNL of DARK LEAF & CUT CHEMIST collaborator. Carlos nino actually was the first to bring turntables into the coffee house on La Brea ^& invite guests to come hang & spin records sitting on a couch which quickly evolved out of control in a good way. Of course there were folks like Mear doing live art, the b boys & b girls flexing in a cypher the size of a coffee table, the various mcs like Thes One just hangin out or freestylin on the mic with the OG Breakestra band at that time considering calling itself the Breaks band till better judgement prevailed. The band included Rootdown co founder Loslito of Rebirth , Double G of Dakah, Damon Aaron, Dave Chegwidden of the rhythm roots all stars, plus Todd Simon & Dan Ubick of The Lions. This is where Miles & Dusk met for the first time & would soon after join forces backing MC T Love live.
This party roamed for half a year till finding its home on tuesdays @ Pedros on Vermont in Los Feliz. For an incredible 6 months at Pedros, funk/breaks djs like J Rocc,Mix Master Wolf(cuttin up Zeppelin), Cut Chemist, Marvski, hip hop groups like Latyrx, Black eyed Peas, Jurassic 5, Company Flow, Dilated Peoples & Freestyle Fellowship, backed by a live breaks freestyle session with The Breakestra got down live on stage like Cali had not seen for a hot second. Anyone remember Peace Pipe? I hear ya Araceli. Of course there were the heads who made it the jam. All the b boys & b girls who now had room enough for multiple cyphers on the floor & all the good folks there just to move & groove in their own funky way. This is the spot where you would find pre Rootdown DJ DUSK(RIP) chillin, takin photos, Chuckchilla in the freestyle cypher, Sloe Poke just hangin out, Medussa, Ab Rude, the whole darn family. Judd & Scotty Haulin that sound from the OC, real Gs! George of jointz always bein real & always showin love. Many a night after at Freds 62, gettin that grub we missed while setting up the night. Alexis holdin it down at the door takin no shit! Janky muthas grabbin bottles from behind the bar gettin us grief, but mostly the livest party we could have hoped for thanks to everyone in the mix. On & on... Maintaining the weekly booking/functioning of the night took its toll on the promoters not to mention dealing with the semi gangster biz of the venue (still made much easier due to Loslito's spanish skillz) & they decided to pause the record until the time was right to drop the needle to the record.
After a few months, Loslito & Miles realised that there was a void in Los Angeles for even the most basic hip hop/funk/live music parties & decided to keep it movin by calling forth the funk in the name of Jimmy Smith via the Beastie boys. ROOTDOWN was MANIFEST! Starting out as twice a month event at the Atlas Bar in mid wilshire, they brought together the same basic elements of the breaks. The first shows with T Love, the Breakestra, DJ Sesquipedalian, Dilated Peoples & Nu Mark were a well needed outlet for LA's underground. It lasted two months till some fights killed it & rootdown bounced for a little hiatus. Then Los & Miles found Gabah on Melrose near Silverlake, at the recommendation of music promotion comrades, Sheakspeare & Auerlito of Chocolate Bar & I n' I Prods. After a few months of dialing in the family of djs & bringin DJ Dusk in to mix things came together , most notably on the night Cut Chemist came through to rock. Dj Dusk's party hosting skills became apparent that night, not to mention his progressive, world eclectic approach to hip hop djing that not many were employing in their sets at that time. After a couple of years Los introduced Wyatt Case into the mix & Miles started to bring records to play early, begining his excusrsion in to djing. Los himself already an occasional dj would get in the mix as well but the night became centered around the sounds that Dusk & whatever guest booked that night were bringin to the crowd that had now become fairly regular. Dusk introduced alot of heads not only to deep jamaican, hip hop/funk music but also latin sounds from puerto rico to columbia that were not getting played anywhere else in town for the most part. When he said "there ain't no other sound in town like the mighty, mighty Rootdown" he was not fronting. Of course that doesn't mean ya had to like the sounds but if ya liked funky organic, soulful music more than likely you would tend to see it Dusks way in all his b boy braggadocious glory!
Some nights would just be the sound system dj's rockin sounds from back in the day to right then & from all around the globe. Other nights would be broken up by live funk band or hip hop performances. For a brief time Los, Miles & Dusk started a live project they would break out for rootdown called the rootmattics, with Dusk providin beats cut up on the decks, Loslito on the keys & with mcs sometimes freestylin. For a second Egon of Stones throw records having just moved to Los Angeles joined the rootdown soundsystem dropping funk records that no one had ever played let alone even heard in Los angeles before, much to the floor rocker's pleasure. Nights at Gabah trying to find a parking spot, haggling with good ol Adnon for a drink ticket or two, lighting up in the patio without getting caught. Kofie & Mear blessing the stage with live freestyle art. Gladys the wonderful, always with a smile at the door & Sarah as well, she met her husband there I heard. Brissa with the sunshine, kool ass Chris always in the spot. Of course the most Mex-I-Can mutha in the house, Boss Bean, Arturo holdin it down inside & out. No ya can't bring in all the homies fool! Vinnie the ink master, keepin those baseball cards trading posters shading. Basically quiet Wyatt bringin all his homies into the RD family. Thanks again man, for the love. Lets not talk bout those bathrooms. Too late, you all know what i'm talkin bout, thats one of the reasons we had so much incense burning in that spot. Breakestra gettin that soul togetha live & on film. Aloe & Exile back before they had no name.
Pushin buttons, anyone remember?Shadow, Uncle Nu & Cut? Sugarman 3, Antibalas, People Under the Stairs featuring Baron von Thes? Freshly Los Angled PB Wolf, Zack Tripper the block rockin beat master from A to Z, Logic before the J, Haul & Mason testing out those quad mixes live, almost every single Beat Junkie blessed us & that's alot, ya know phillipinos & their cousins, oh yeah thats right sorry J.Hier with the Fiyah, Topanga homie! Bobby & his many degrees of soul, Rich Medina the marathon funker, Quantic on his first excursion out west, Malcolm Catto droppin funk heat on the decks, Blackalicious, Lyrics Born bringin that bay area sound to our town, Style Wars live on stage, Mona Lisa, Big Dada Daz always checkin & tryin to keep this thing we do out here honest, Crown City, been way too long since ya set fire, Burning star, we miss ya!" Ya never know who might drop by in the mix "YOU were there and if YOU weren't, this is that taste, better later than never. A few years into it Dusk & Miles were chillin after another Rootdown & came up with the idea to do a live beat maker exhibition/battle inspired by the jamaican sound clashes that dusk was especially aware of, having studied the art of djing inside & out from the street to the art college text book.
Dusk had just recently been teaching a "DJ as the post modern musician" class at UCLA. That night they conceived of the first Rootdown soundclash & set about to manifest it, first inviting Cut Chemist & Madlib to do their thing & later Thes one, Will I am & Exile & Ohno. Recently this year round 4 featured Stro of the Procussions & Newman of Giant Panda during this time longtime friend Chuckchilla, mc/beatmaker of Gershwin BLX crew joined rootdown to deal with the booking. After 6 years of rocking the Gabah, Rootdown decided to head a little further east to the Little Temple. After setting it off with Dj Numark they were in motion again now with two rooms to rock in which allowed room to expand the soundsytem to include long time friend & occasional guest dj Sloe Poke, Ervin of the Rocksteady crew & more recent connection, Dj Expo, who Los again invited into the mix to bring his deep crates & skills. If you get to rootdown early, you can hear him in the main room dropping jazz, rare groove & roots dub records, you will be hard pressed to hear coming out of a pa system anywhere else in town. In 2006 the rootdown family & the world tragically lost our dear brother DUSK after he was struck by drunk driver. We were very close to saying thats it, kill the record but we know in our hearts DUSK would want Rootdown to keep on rockin in his name. There will never be another Tarek "DJ DUSK" Captan at rootdown or more importantly in this world but we can keep sounds and spirit moving that we feel compelled to share with folks each and every thursday night in the groove that we call life.
THANK YOU TO ALL PAST & PRESENT ARTISTS, SUPPORTERS, FRIENDS & FAMILY WHO HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THIS LOVE & SOUND WE CALL ROOTDOWN! In the words of DJ DUSK ,"WE'RE NOT DONE,WE'RE NOT DONE"!!!