PAST FLYERS
The Root Down - Ray Baretto

RAY BARRETTO -conguero, vocals- (1929-2006)
The Man with the hard hands was born in NYC.His Puerto Rican born parents & the spanish Harlem streets informed his musical ear along with big band & later be bop right down the block.Hearing latin rhythms on the conga fused with bop on Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" hooked him.At 17 he joined the army to escape the street jungle & found himself in Germany with prejudiced soldiers.Fortunetelly he found refuge in a jazz club run by black GIs where he sat in playing congas for, the first time.Back in NY in 1949, he honed his conga skills & paid dues for a few years in different combos eventually making it into Tito Puentes band which lead to many sessions on be bop records.By 1961 Ray was given a chance by Riverside records to record his own latin-jazz dance band & by the 3rd record he scored a hit with "El Watusi".A few years later he signed with Fania records & created his latin-jazz /r&b fusion record "Acid" replacing the traditional cuban strings with a full horn section.Though his main drive was progressing latin music into what was now Salsa, he also brought spiritual & socio-political messages in songs like  "deeper shade of soul" & "together"  featuring Ray's vocals.In 1972 he recorded, wrote & sang the latin funk jam "Right on" which was sampled by Deee-lite on "Groove is in the Heart".He worked with fania as music director of the Fania allstars till 1975 &  made his biggest record.H ethen began to focus on latin-jazz fusion sounds though later he would return to typical Salsa sounds.He made music almost up until he passed away & will never be forgotten by percussionists & lovers of soulful sounds all around.

The Root Down - Les Paul

Les Paul (1915-2009)

Les Paul was born Lester William Polfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915. He was an American innovator, inventor, musician and songwriter. He was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar, which made the sound of rock and roll possible. He is credited with many recording innovations, including overdubbing (also known as sound on sound), delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects, and multi-track recordings.

It's difficult to determine where the Les Paul guitar was used in classic hip-hop samples, but legendary guitarist Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) was samples on "She's Crafty" Beastie Boys. Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina" sampled two Les Paul players, Mick Jones (Foreigner) on "Hot Blooded" and Ace Frehley (Kiss) on "Christine Sixteen".

Michael Jackson

The Root Down - MICHAEL JACKSON (1958 – 2009)

Michael Jackson, one of the most widely beloved entertainers and profoundly influential artists of all-time, leaves an indelible imprint on popular music and culture.

Five of Jackson's solo albums - "Off the Wall," "Thriller," "Bad," "Dangerous" and "HIStory," all with Epic Records - are among the top-sellers of all time and “Thriller” holds the distinction as the largest selling album worldwide in the history of the recording industry with more than 70 million units sold. Additionally, singles released from the Thriller album sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, another all time record.

During his extraordinary career, he sold an estimated 750 million records worldwide, released 13 No.1 singles and became one of a handful of artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Jackson as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time and "Thriller" as the Biggest Selling Album of All Time. Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and received the American Music Award's Artist of the Century Award.

Michael Jackson started in the music business at the age of 11 with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5. In the early 1980s, he defined the art form of music video with such ground-breaking videos as "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and the epic "Thriller." Jackson's sound, style and dance moves inspired subsequent generations of pop, soul, R&B and hip-hop artists.

The Root Down - King Tubby

King Tubby (born Osbourne Ruddock,1941 – 1989) was a Jamaican electronics and sound engineer, known for shaping the face of  Dub music in the 1960s and 1970s. Tubby elevated the role of the mixing engineer to a creative fame previously only reserved for composers and musicians, he is often cited as the inventor of the remix. In the 1950s, King Tubby's musical career began with the sound systems, which were set up on the streets of Kingston to play dance music for crowds. Tubby had his own t.v. and radio repair shop where he built large amplifiers for these local sound systems. In 1961 he  ran a pirate radio station playing ska and rhythm and blues. Soon after he formed  "Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi sound system", which became a crowd favorite. Tubby's also had his own echo and reverb sound effects that he later applied to his studio dub mixes. His dub mix of the Skatalites "herb man dub" is a good example of his creative sonic imagination.

The Root Down - Fela Anikulapo Kuti

FELA KUTI & AFRICA 70

There is not a more significant figure in terms of  modern African music. Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1938 to parents involved in the Nigerian home rule movement.His father being a pastor & pianist profoundly influenced Fela's mix of social politics & music. At 20 he was sent to London's Trinity university to become a doctor but Fela registered at the music branch instead.in 1961 after studying the classical european composers he turned back to Nigeria's high life rhythms & new r n'b & jazz sounds coming from the U.S..With this new fusion of sound he formed his first group Koola Lobitos essentially planting the seeds of his "afro beat" sound in London clubs.in 63' he would return to Nigeria & form a new version of the group including the co-architect of afro beat, drummer Tony Allen.Now he incorporated the James Brown vocal style that he heard coming from  African singer Geraldo Pina.In 69' he went to L.A. where he was introduced to the black political writings of Malcolm X & Black Panthers.He was inspired by this new afrocentric, black american nationalism to start confronting the reality of Africa's poor in his music later becoming the voice of the have nots much like Bob Marley.He changed the band's name to Nigeria 70 & also incorporated the sounds of funk & psychedelic rock.After recording in L.A. they returned home & he started building a communal recording studio space & home base-Kalakuta Republic & a nightclub called the Shrine where they would play live.

In addition to close to 50 albums recorded there is the 11 minute classic jam "Water Get No Enemy" which was later sampled by Pete Rock for INI's "Grown Man Sport".Cut Chemist also dug deep sampling "Who are you?" for Jurassic 5's "I am somebody".Fela's humorous, take no bullshit lyrics & new afro beat sound resonated with the poor of Nigeria & the rest of Africa with him being able to draw hundreds of thousands to rallies in Lagos & so he was not popular with the corrupt military regime that he aimed his lyrics at.Eventually resulting in physical attacks on Fela, his family & his studio compound which was burned to the ground. After a year of exile in Ghana, he returned to Nigeria under new civilian rule & formed his Movement of the people party & renamed the group Egypt 80.3 years later military rule returned & he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was released a year later after help from amnesty international.By the early 90's his musical style stayed mostly including his acidic, critical lyrics addressing the Nigerian government & Reagan/Thatcher Western foreign policies.The man spoke against the forces of oppression & never relented in his goal of a free, democratic, socialist Africa till his death in 1997 due to AIDS complications.He lives on in is music & the music of his sons Femi & Seun.

The Root Down - Fela Anikulapo Kuti FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI
vocals,keyboards, saxophone-

There is not a more significant figure in terms of  modern African music .Born in Abeokuta, Nigeria in 1938 to parents involved in the Nigerian home rule movement.His father being a pastor & pianist profoundly influenced Fela's mix of social politics & music. At 20 he was sent to London's Trinity university to become a doctor but Fela registered at the music branch instead.in 1961 after studying the classical european composers he turned back to Nigeria's high life rhythms & new r n'b & jazz sounds coming from the U.S..With this new fusion of sound he formed his first group Koola Lobitos essentially planting the seeds of his "afro beat" sound in London clubs.in 63' he would return to Nigeria & form a new version of the group including the co-architect of afro beat, drummer Tony Allen.Now he incorporated the James Brown vocal style that he heard coming from  African singer Geraldo Pina.In 69' he went to L.A. where he was introduced to the black political writings of Malcolm X & Black Panthers.He was inspired by this new afrocentric, black american nationalism to start confronting the reality of Africa's poor in his music later becoming the voice of the have nots much like Bob Marley.He changed the band's name to Nigeria 70 & also incorporated the sounds of funk & psychedelic rock.After recording in L.A. they returned home & he started building a communal recording studio space & home base-Kalakuta Republic & a nightclub called the Shrine where they would play live.

In addition to close to 50 albums recorded there is the 11 minute classic jam "Water Get No Enemy" which was later sampled by Pete Rock for INI's "Grown Man Sport".Cut Chemist also dug deep sampling "Who are you?" for Jurassic 5's "I am somebody".Fela's humorous, take no bullshit lyrics & new afro beat sound resonated with the poor of Nigeria & the rest of Africa with him being able to draw hundreds of thousands to rallies in Lagos & so he was not popular with the corrupt military regime that he aimed his lyrics at.Eventually resulting in physical attacks on Fela, his family & his studio compound which was burned to the ground. After a year of exile in Ghana, he returned to Nigeria under new civilian rule & formed his Movement of the people party & renamed the group Egypt 80.3 years later military rule returned & he was sentenced to 10 years in prison but was released a year later after help from amnesty international.By the early 90's his musical style stayed mostly including his acidic, critical lyrics addressing the Nigerian government & Reagan/Thatcher Western foreign policies.The man spoke against the forces of oppression & never relented in his goal of a free, democratic, socialist Africa till his death in 1997 due to AIDS complications.He lives on in is music & the music of his sons Femi & Seun.
The Root Down - Bill Withers

BILL WITHERS
-vocals, guitar-


He was born & raised in West Virginia coal mining country & by 18 joined the navy where he discovered a voice & desire to write songs.in 1967 he moved to L.A. to pursue releasing and performing his music.By 1970 the L.A. based Sussex records heard his demo & struck a deal to release his first record "just as I am" produced by organist Booker T. Jones.Bill was very humble about his music & also acutely aware of how topsy turvy the music industry was so even after he had released his first successful single & won his 1st of 9 grammys for "Ain't no sunshine" he did not quit his day job.He did take time to go on tour backed by the Watts 103rd st. band including drummer/vocalist Mr. James Gadson of L.A.On tour he formed a friendship with Gadson & by the time he was ready to record a new record he hired him to play drums & produce his classic "still bill" LP which included the tracks "lean on me" (which Club nouveau covered years later),"use me" & the very funky "kissing my love" which was sampled by the Jungle Brothers for their "Straight out the jungle", Dr. Dre's "Let me ride" & X Clan's "Tribal jam".He also wrote "Who is he & what is he to you" which Gladys Knight covered.In 1975 he left sussex to work with Columbia for many years during which he wrote the soulful & sentimental anthem "Lovely day".Just a mere taste of what he has written.Although he has been very selective about releasing new music or performing over the last few years, if you're lucky you can still catch Bill's sweet & mellow voice live.

The Root Down - Barack Obama

Barack Obama
44th President of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II was born August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Obama, Sr. from Kenya, and Ann Dunham, a white American from Wichita, Kansas. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003 and was elected in November 2004. On February 10, 2007, he announced his candidacy for President of the United States, and he became the President-elect after defeating John McCain in the general election on November 4, 2008. Obama is the first African American to be elected President of the United States!

The Root Down - Norman Whitfield

NORMAN WHITFIELD
MOTOWN SONGWRITER/PRODUCER
(1940-2008)

He was born in Harlem,NY in 1940, where he lived till age 19 when his family moved to Detroit.Soon he found his way down to Motown records trying to find himself work as a songwriter.His first job was in the motown quality control department deciding what records whould be released but soon would have his first songwriting opportunity & success with Marvin Gaye's "Pride & joy".It was The Temptations "ain't too proud to beg" which he wrote that Inspired  Berry Gordy to make him The Tempts  producer in 1966.Around this time he composed "Heard it through the grapevine" with longtime lyrical collaborator Barrett Strong which was first performed by Gladys knight & then a year later by Gaye.By 1968 he started to redefine the Motown sound with his socially charged songs & psychedelic soul productions for The Tempts starting with "Cloud nine" which sonically was very much inspired by Sly Stone."Psychedelic Shack"  with it's distorted guitars  & effects was sampled by Public enemy on "welcome to the terrordome".His song "can't get next to you"  was sampled by Brand nubian for "the travel jam".considering the volume of songs he & Strong wrote & produced he truly was the musical backbone for the tempts.He wrote the world famous anti-war song "WAR" for Edwin Starr & The Undisputed truth's hit "Smiling Faces".In 1973 he left Motown to start his own label Whitfield records which first put out records by Undisputed Truth & Rose Royce who he wrote & produced "wishing on a star" for on the Car Wash movie soundtrack.in 2004 Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong  were inducted into the song writers hall of fame.Sadly he passed away recently but his musical legacy will live on.

The Root Down - Isaac hayes

Isaac Hayes
(1942-2008)

Performer, composer, producer -  Known, variously, as Black Moses, Ike the Ripper and Royal King of Ghana, Isaac Hayes’ beginnings were far more humble; Isaac Hayes was born on August 20, 1942 to a rural sharecropper in Covington Tennessee.  Orphaned at a young age, Hayes was taken in and raised by his maternal grandparents in Memphis.  The death of his grandfather plunged the family into poverty and he was forced to take a series of low paying jobs to support himself, grandmother and sister.  Work as a dishwasher, delivery boy, busy boy and short order cook did not provide enough money for the young Hayes to keep up with latest fashions and due to adolescent insecurity, he dropped out of school.  The teachers in his school rallied together and donated clothing to Hayes to persuade him to return.  They saw that he was too intelligent and too talented to let it go to waste.  The experience left a strong impression on Isaac Hayes regarding the importance of education.

After graduation, Hayes played in several jazz, blues & doo-wop groups around the Memphis area.  Eventually, he came into contact with the nascent Stax Records by filling in for Booker T, of the MG’s, on sessions.  There he met David Porter.  The two began collaborating and by the mid-sixties had helped to define the Stax sound with hits “Soul Man”, “Hold On I’m Coming” and “B-A-B-Y”.  Isaac Hayes redefined soul music with his album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’. Released in 1969, the album featured radical reworkings of classic pop songs by Jimmy Webb (“By The Time I Get To Phoenix”) and Burt Bacharach (“Walk On By”).  The songs were slow, sultry, infused with gospel touches and featured proto-rap vocals. One of the standout tracks was the tongue twister “Hyperbolicsyllabicsequedalymistic” which Public Enemy sampled on “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos”.  The album was also notable for the striking image Hayes presented on the cover.  His baldhead, bare chest and gold chains would soon become the visual standard of black power and strength for a generation.  Isaac Hayes also worked as a house producer at Stax.  A notable production was the Charmels’ “As Long As I Have You” later sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan for “C.R.E.A.M.” Two years later, he would release the soundtrack to “Shaft”.  His career skyrocketed.  He would win a Grammy and two Oscars (Best Song & Best Score) for the “Theme From Shaft”.  He would also win a Grammy in for his album ‘Black Moses’.  Isaac Hayes continued to score hit throughout the 1970s. Hayes was also a coronated king of Ghana.  Instead of a palace, he chose to have an 8,000 sq. ft. educational facility built.  As the music hits slowed down, Hayes continued to find success as an actor, published author and radio personality.  Isaac Hayes was truly “one bad mutha”.


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