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 movie 'Freestyle'
fame and MC Hymnl of Dark Leaf and a Cut Chemist collaborator. Carlos Nino was actually the
first to bring turntables into the coffee house on La Brea and invite guests to come
hang out and spin records sitting on a couch - which quickly evolved out of control in a
good way. Ofcourse there were folks like Mear doing live art,the b boys and 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. The band
included Rootdown co-founder Loslito of The Rebirth, Double G of Dakah, Damon Aaron, Dave
Chegwidden of The Rhythm Roots All Stars, plus Todd Simon and Dan Ubick of The
Lions. This is where Miles and Dusk met for the first time and 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, and Marvski rocked the stage, and hip hop groups like Latyrx, Black Eyed
Peas, Jurassic 5, Company Flow, Dilated Peoples and Freestyle Fellowship busted freestyle sessions while The Breakestra got down live on stage. Anyone remember Peace Pipe? I hear ya Araceli.
Of course there were the heads who made it the jam. All the b boys and b girls who now
had room enough for multiple cyphers on the floor and all the good folks there just to
move and 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, Medusa, Ab Rude, and the whole darn family kickin it. Judd and Scotty Haulin that
sound from the OC, real Gs! George of Jointz always bein real and 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 givin us grief. But mostly the livest party we could have hoped
for thanks to everyone in the mix. On and on...
Maintaining the weekly booking/functions of the night took its toll on the
promoters, not to mention dealing with the semi-gangster biz of the venue (made
much easier due to Loslito's spanish skillz). The night decided to pause the record
until the time was right to drop the needle once again.
After a few months, Loslito and Miles realized that there was a void in Los Angeles for
even the most basic hip hop/funk/live music parties and decided to keep it movin by
calling forth the funk in the name of Jimmy Smith via the Beastie boys. ROOTDOWN was
Starting out as a twice a month event at the Atlas Bar in Mid Wilshire, they brought
together the same basic elements of 'The Breaks'. The first shows were with T Love, The
Breakestra, DJ Sesquipedalian, Dilated Peoples and Nu mark - a well needed outlet for
LA's underground. It lasted two months till some fights killed it and Rootdown bounced for a little
hiatus. Then Los & Miles found Gabah on Melrose Ave, at the
recommendation of music promotion comrades, Shakspeare and Auerlito of Chocolate Bar
and I n' I prods.
After a few months of dialing in the family of DJs and 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
sets at that time.
After a couple of years, Los introduced Wyatt Case into the Rootdown. Los, already
an occasional DJ, would get in the mix and Miles started to
bring records to play early which began his excursion into DJing. The night however became centered around
the sounds that Dusk and the night's guest were bringin to the crowd.
Dusk introduced a lot 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. When he said 'there ain't no other sound in town like the
mighty, mighty Rootdown' - he was not frontin. Of course that doesn't mean ya had to
like the sounds, but if ya liked funky organic, soulful music, you
would more than likely tend to see it Dusks way in all his B boy braggadocious glory!
Some nights would just be the Rootdown Soundsystem DJs rockin sounds from back in the day and other nights would be broken up by live funk
band or hip hop performances. For a brief time Los, Miles and 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 and with MCs sometimes freestylin. Also for a brief moment, Egon of Stones Throw Records - who had just moved to Los angeles - joined
the Rootdown Soundsystem dropping ultra rare funk records that no one had ever played or even heard in Los angeles before, much to the floorrocker'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 and Mear
blessing the stage with live freestyle art. Gladys the wonderful, always with a smile
at the door and 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 and 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. That's
one of the reasons we had so much incense burning in that spot. Breakestra gettin
that soul togetha live and on film. Aloe and Exile back before they had no name - pushin
buttons, anyone remember? Shadow, Uncle Nu and 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 and mason testing out those
quad mixes live, almost every single Beat Junkie blessed us and that's alot - ya know
filipinos and their cousins! Oh yeah that's right - sorry J. Hier with the Fiyah, Topanga
homie! Bobby and 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 and 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 and Miles were chillin after another night of Rootdown and 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 and
out, from the street to the art college text book. Dusk had also been
teaching a 'DJ as the post modern musician' class at UCLA.
That night they conceived of the first Rootdown Soundclash and set out to manifest
it. First inviting Cut Chemist and Madlib to do their thing and later Thes One, Will-i-am, Exile, Ohno, Stro of the Procussions, and 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 great years of rocking 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, which allowed room to expand the Rootdown Soundsystem to include
long time friend and occasional guest DJ Sloe Poke, Ervin of the Rocksteady Crew and Dj Expo, who Los again invited into the mix to bring his deep
crates and skills. If you get to Rootdown early, you can hear him in the main room
dropping jazz, rare groove, roots, dub, and soul records you will be hard pressed to hear coming
out of a pa system anywhere else in town.
In 2006 the Rootdown family and 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
his 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 and present artists, supporters, friends, and family who have participated in this love and sound we call ROOTDOWN!
In the words of DJ DUSK, 'We're not done, we're not done!'