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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Stacking The Deck with Lee
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

Hip-hop soul artist Lee has been making music that’s universal for over two decades. This is due, in part, to the fact that he’s lived all over the world.

With performances on stages at all corners of the globe, and having taken up residence in Miami, New York, and for the past four years, Buenos Aires, Lee understands what connects all of us as people, and creates music that tugs at the emotions, and humanity, we all share.

Having made a name for himself in his new local scene, Lee released his latest album, titled 2+2=5, earlier this year.


I caught up with Lee during one of his recent trips back to NYC. We grabbed some drinks at the Think Coffee on the corner of Bleecker and Bowery, opened up some packs of MusiCards, and talked a whole lotta music. The artists we found sparked stories of an inspirational super producer, an unusual origin story, and a classic sex symbol.



Guy

Guy is interesting to me for retrospective reasons. That whole New Jack Swing thing that Teddy Riley got going, I thought was pretty cool. The Hall brothers (Aaron and Damion), they were obviously the vocalists of the band, but as a producer I was particularly interested in what Teddy Riley was doing. I was interested in the different artists that he was collaborating with, his work with Heavy D, and then when he worked with Bobby Brown, as well.

Fast-forward, think about the influence Teddy Riley had on Pharrell and The Neptunes. That’s really interesting.

Thinking about Wreckx-n-Effect, and putting all that under context, and their beef with Tribe.

They had a beef with Tribe?

Q-Tip made some comment about “Rump Shaker,” and I guess in Tribe’s mind, or anybody’s mind, if it wasn’t from New York, or California, people who weren’t from those places were (considered) goofs.

They ran into each other somewhere at a music conference and there was like this serious standoff where Wreckx-n-Effect like pushed up on Tribe, and it had to be broken up, or something.

I remember “Rump Shaker” was such a huge song, and it was at a time when New York was kinda looking down their nose at anything that wasn’t coming out of New York as not being hip-hop.

Getting back to Guy, and Teddy Riley, I’ve infinitely been interested in what he’s done, and the influence he’s had on the idea of super producers, particularly in R&B, or urban music, and looking at his legacy.

It’s funny when people talk about some of the best producers, it’s almost as though we have a short memory span. Regardless of whether you like New Jack Swing, that was a happening sound at that time, and his fingerprint is on that music. To think that people don’t consider him when they think about influential urban music producers … people will say Dre, or whatever, but I’m going, man, Teddy Riley opened the door for so much. If you think about, even in contemporary times, where his legacy is, to think that Chad (Hugo) and Pharrell come from that school of Teddy Riley.

And then there’s the classic lyric that no one ever understood from “Piece Of My Love,” “You can have a piece of my love, {mumbled words}.” Nobody knows what the fuck that is. I remember Common quoted that in a song, too (“Round then Guy came out with ‘Piece of My Love’ / Arguin' over if he said, ‘Dumb bitch” – “Reminding Me of Sef”).



3rd Bass

Their origin story always fascinates me.

A lot of people, either they don’t remember it, or they don’t talk about it, but 3rd Bass was kind of this invention of Def Jam, and Public Enemy, in some ways, whereby, after the Beastie Boys left there was a very decided effort that they had to have another white hip-hop group on Def Jam.

I think that’s such an interesting story, and that doesn’t take away from Serch, and Pete Nice. Serch is an underrated emcee, I think. His solo stuff was sick. I actually liked that stuff better than “Pop Goes the Weasel,” so to some degree I was happy that 3rd Bass broke up, because I felt like that whole sampling of Peter Gabriel thing they were trying to do seemed corny, and too pop.

Although a very underrated part of “Pop Goes the Weasel” is that in the video the part of Vanilla Ice is played by Henry Rollins.

Oh yeah? I gotta watch that again! You know what’s cool about that? That’s like that old New York, where everything integrated in ways that don’t happen as much now in the music scene. It’s not as organic as it was. I feel like all this stuff was like DIY, so it’s this very boutique approach to doing things.

Flea was in the Young MC video, “Bust A Move.” I feel like he may have played bass on that, too.

I love that whole vibe of everybody doing their thing independently, and working in those ways, where it’s like building up the scene. Like the (Blondie) mural across the street, and Fab 5 Freddy was hanging out with (Jean-Michel) Basquiat, going to see Sugar Hill Gang.

So the origin story of these guys is interesting to me with regards to just this very contrived thing of we have to put together a group to replace the Beastie Boys, who, for whatever their reasons, left Def Jam.

What was their last album on Def Jam?

License to Ill was it. Then they went and did Paul’s Boutique.

Which was totally different.

I almost wonder if that was the thing whereby Rick and everybody had so much control over them, and the group wanted to branch out and express, and explore, themselves.

Everywhere they went after that was awesome.

But yeah, Chuck, and Def Jam, and all of those guys, wanting to have them, and Young Black Teenagers … You think about where people are with some of those conversations, people talk about cultural appropriation, and all this other shit, and you’re like, these catch phrases that people came up with that no one would have ever had … Serch, and YBT, they were all embraced.

Looking outside at the mural you mentioned, imagine what people would say today about Debbie Harry.

About “Rapture.”

They’d call her a culture vulture even though she lived here.

Right. That’s the thing, all of this stuff, it’s not static. Everyone’s rubbing elbows, and what we all loved about that era, and that vibe of New York, is shit that people are frowning on now. You’re going, what?!? When did this change so much?

This is why I thought it was cool when Macklemore had that song with Melle Mel and all those (old school) guys on it. Those guys came from that era, so they’re lending a nod to him.

It’s like people have amnesia. I don’t even know what it is. It’s all white noise. No pun intended.



Madonna

Madonna’s just fuckin’ hot in this picture.

I don’t know how this will come out in the interview, because I really have nothing to add this except that she’s hot.

Madonna was very attractive back in the day.

Oh my God, Adam and Lee are such misogynists, and they reduced her! No no no. She’s a great entertainer, there’s no question about that.

God bless her. God bless Madonna. What is she, 50-something now? The interesting thing about her is to think that she’s transcended so many generations that it actually gives you the ability to have a capsule of your life of where you were at each phase of her career.

{brief pause}

Big Daddy Kane, and Vanilla Ice, huh? {laughs} What are ya gonna do?


For more Lee, check out his music on Bandcamp.

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