Some artists were already superstars, some bands could have remained local heroes forever. And some should have. Until one day, now or then, a track of theirs got used in a skateboard video. Operation Ivy? Without their This Is Not The New H Street Video bonanza, not sure they would have gone anywhere special. Band Of Horses? A two tracks, Fully-Marianer’d part later, they’re all over discussion boards. 1989’s own Handy With Shovels, who accompanied Brian Lotti’s revolutionary part in Now’n'Later? To this day, they say, they still get inquiries about Not The Same, from their 5-tracks demo tape. And so on…
Call it skate-rock, skate music, skoundtrack. It generated more or less long-lived trends (What happened to Master P?) but point is, admit it or not, most of your musical background comes from skateboard videos. From now on, Kingpin is going to help you build the ultimate skate-nerd music library, picking videos on their sole musical interest –which happen usually to have a major skateboarding interest too. Welcome to our new monthly feature, A Visual Sound. For its first installment, why not start with the mother of all soulful soundtracks? Ladies and gentlemen, Girl skateboards’ second flick, Mouse, straight out of 1996.
(Disclaimer : for obviousness reasons, I purposedly left Herbie Hancock‘s Watermelon Man out of this selection, assuming that the whole world owns this album already. No?)
Bob Dorough :
Tune used : 3 is a magic number (intro)
As you might know, three is the magic number. While number 9, still according to Bob Dorough, is arguably “naughty”. Through the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, this vocal jazz singer who used to jam with Miles Davis suddenly became every little American kid’s nightmare, thanks to the Schoolhouse rock show that he hosted on local ABC channels. Just kidding.
Still alive and well today (age 84), Dorough stands as probably one of the few people on earth who actually made kids remember math tables, thanks to funny lyrics and that soothing voice. Not the most immediate tune that comes to mind for a skate video soundtrack some might argue, it still achieved cult status when sampled by De la Soul and also appeared on a more musically-minded Blue Note compilation called Blue Break Beats 4 – featuring also progressive jazz god David Axelrod, among others.
In any case, it perfectly fits any movie scene that involves a giant mouse riding a Vespa in the streets of Torrance with Mike Carroll disguised as an In’n'Out employee.
Tune used : Brothers On The Slide (D.Castillo / S.Randle / G.Rodriguez)
They might occasionnally lyrically praise Jah, don’t get mistaken though : Cymande was, is and will always be one of the most infectious all-time funk groups.
With musicians hailing from Guyana and Jamaica, including reggae band Aswad’s amazing multi-terrain sax/flutist Michael “Bami” Rose –black music’s John Cardiel, if you will- the nine-members equipage still remains as one of the most sampled acts ever. Funny enough, its serious political message on Brothers on the Slide, if taken litterally, later proved to apply to two of that 3-skaters part : shortly after Mouse, Shamil Randle and Gabriel Rodriguez totally slid out of the skateboarding world. Trippy ! Not as much as Cymande’s album covers.
Anyway, the track in question can also be found on their Renegades of Funk comp or on the reissue LP Best Of Cymande, for the fetishist, yet cheap, vynil enthusiast.
Royal Flush :
Tune used : Worldwide instrumental mix (Gino Ianucci /
When curly-haired soul music über-star Billy Preston covered You Are So Beautiful in 1974, he certainly didn’t think that his stellar, heart-melting effort was to become one of the hip hop sensations of the moment, twenty-or-so years later. In 1996, as sampled by the likes of East-Coast ghetto sensation Royal Flush, the tunes’ violins became an instant success again, propelling the humbly self-called “Street Boss” into selling over 150,000 copies of the album that followed the release of the 4-track 12’’ used on Ianucci’s and Milton’s 46-seconds-long part (counted).
For those who didn’t know, the full-length was called Ghetto Millionnaire and came out on Blunt Records, so that might give away a handful of the philosophical themes discussed in this true masterpiece. Like The Hieroglyphics Crew, The Beastie Boys or Lord Finesse, Royal Flush stands as one of the most memorable skateboard-affiliated rappers. Not sure he kows, even less sure he cares.