Satisfaction don’t come until…

Major Lazer‘s new album has yet to drop, but there have been bits and pieces that have been released while folks wait around for Free the Universe to show up on April 15. The latest track to whet the appetite is “Jessica” ft. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, which premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show last night. 

I immediately was sure I’d heard it before. Journalist Marvin Sparks was thinking the same thing. One person thought it was “Wear You To The Ball” by the Paragons and another suggestion was the Heptones “Sea of Love”. Spin magazine said “[t]he track borrows from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s earlier productions, combining crunchy roots reggae groove with spoken word bits and crooned falsetto highlights.” True, it’s got a little bit of falsetto Congos-style crooning, but none of this is right. First off, they’re wrong about Lee Perry. When Spin says the track “allow[s] Major Lazer’s latest to drift in and out like a radio transmission from a bygone era,” they’re certainly right–just the wrong era. This song aint from the 1970s. And the riddim is, arguably, not by Major Lazer.

How do I know? Thanks to Jah Mikes, he of encyclopedic knowledge regarding riddims, the mystery has been solved. The tune’s riddim is from “Satisfaction” by Carl Dawkins, a 1968 Carl JJ Johnson-produced gem later re-released by Winston Riley. “It’s exactly [“Satisfaction”]…nothing to do with Lee Perry at all,” says Jah Mikes. “It’s a shame people seem to have forgotten the oldies…At least now they can be re-released as ‘new’ songs.” The re-release is mysterious as well. How did Riley’s Techniques label get a hold of the tune?

What’s interesting is that in every blog post that showcased the track today, there’s no mention of “Satisfaction” at all. One says of the track that “[t]he production is crackly, raw and so vintage that it sounds as if the whole thing has been played through a battered transmitter radio”–but it sounds identical to the original version when played on good ‘ol trusty 45″ vinyl–at least until there’s a wee bit of echo and such added in. Everything old is new again…maybe it’s time for a 60s one drop revival. Go back to foundation and check “Satisfaction” here. What do you think?

EDIT: Edited to show that it was Carl Johnson, not Winston Riley who originally produced the track. Thanks to Red Selecter (another encyclopedic mind who confirmed that my first guess of Johnson was in fact correct), here’s a piece by the venerable Mel Cooke about the story behind Carl Dawkin’s “Satisfaction”. Makes me wonder…what’s the story behind “Jessica”?

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Major Lazer, Major Money?

Next time I need to talk to Snob about their collaborations...

Today Mr Vegas retweeted a Racialicious post dealing with ethics, sampling, appropriation, culture, race, collaboration and, of course, Major Lazer. I guess there’s no better time than the present to point folks towards a presentation I gave at this year’s EMP Pop Conference at UCLA. I was part of a panel called “Selling Jamaica”, alongside three excellent folks: Joshua Chamberlain, Tomas Palermo and Melville Cooke. My paper, entitled “Major Lazer, Major Money? Dancehall’s Relationship between Yard and Foreign talked about various collaborative initiatives–including those of Diplo and Switch. My goal was not to trash Major Lazer, but rather look at how collaborative processes work between JA and the outernational world. Won’t say too much more, but in preparation I did speak to a whole wack of people (like Dre Skull) for and about the issues I saw as being important, and at the conference I had a lot of people say to me “man, I really wish I’d come to your panel” (which, incidentally, took place at the same time that Chuck D decided to come to the conference, along with a million other great papers–so I understand if those things took precedence!). Thanks to the wonder of the internet, however, you can now check out my paper, others from the panel, and all sorts more from the conference. I’d love any thoughts or questions or comments…