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Interview With A Blogger Part Four: The Souled On Version

by Travis on November 28, 2007

You thought it was over. You thought it was all done. Well you were wrong! Once again, here at WYDU, we track down your favorite bloggers and ask them seemingly ridiculous questions and pester them until they tell us to either go listen to Gerardo for the rest of our lives or they answer our silly questions just to shut us up.

This time around, the infamous Scholar from “Souled On” is our target of affection (no homo). For those of you not in the know, Scholar is a different breed of blogger, the smooth Soul/Funk/Jazz blogger. Not only is the Skiggidy Scholar a pro at posting up tasty morsels of jazz and soul from yesteryear lost, Scholar probably knows just as much about hip-hop as many of the so called “hip-hop bloggers”. How this dude keeps all this musical info in his head is mind boggling in its own right. Scholar and I go back over a year now when he dropped a link to WYDU in a post of his. I found my way to Souled On and was “Souled” (corny pun intended) from then on out. The respect I have for dude is very high. Scholar and Souled On are single handedly responsible for getting me into the old soul, jazz and funk music scene. This past year, I’ve tracked down as much of the old music as I can. The best thing is I can email Scholar and bug him about certain artists, music or sample sources and he always helps and hasn’t told me to stop bugging him once. Now that’s saying something. Needless to say he was on my short list of bloggers I wanted to sit down with. Join us as I dig deeper into the psyche that is Scholar……

WYDU: Thanks for sitting down with me, it’s a pleasure….how’s it hanging?

Scholar: Aaaahhh shit…Are we getting that personal already?

W: Haha, shit, thats just a warm up. I’m going to get all Oprahed out before this is done. Some of my hardcore hip-hop visitors might not be familiar with who you are and your site, so why don’t you kick the knowledge about who you are and your little blog, “Souled On?”

As far as who I am, I’m content with being a fairly elusive personality. Even people who are part of what I consider to be my internet family don’t know me as anything but Scholar. My blog was never meant to be a diary, so I choose to sort of depersonalize myself in favor of focusing my readers’ attention on the music. I’ve been a crate digger since I was a little kid, and Souled On has become my avenue for sharing some of my favorite discoveries. My taste in music actually covers a fairly wide range, but I focus primarily on soul, funk, and hip-hop, with a little bit of jazz, reggae, electronica, and the blues thrown in for good measure.

For your readers who mainly only listen to hip hop, I can’t stress how fundamental it is to open your mind to some of these other genres, because hip hop is a culmination and amalgamation of all of these sounds. One of the greatest funk collectors in the world, Tobias Kirmayer, started out as a hip-hop junkie who was initially just searching for samples and breaks. I started the Souled On Samples series largely based on the premise that it was an excellent means of getting people interested in digging deeper into music history.

W: Damn, can’t even uncover the mystery in an one on one interview…haha. The knowledge you posses on all those different kinds of music is freaking amazing. Do you just eat, sleep, shit music? Or did your parents just tape a pair of headphones on your head at a young age? I mean, how did you get into all the different genres when some of us are still stuck in just one kind of music?

S: My music education really started with Top 40 radio and just got much deeper from there. That’s kinda funny to me, because I never fuck with the radio at all anymore. My parents didn’t expose me to much of anything I listen to now, although I have an uncle who owned a record store for a number of years, and he turned me on to a few things. For me, it has a lot to do with readiness to hear different sounds. When I was 10, I wasn’t ready to receive jazz yet. Being able to digest an eclectic variety of sounds is an evolutionary process that is still at work in my life. Music plays in the background of my everyday existence like a soundtrack, so when you’ve lived as many days as I have…well…that’s a whole shitload of songs.

W: Yeah, I hear that. Some probably don’t realize that “Souled On” has been around for over two years, which in blogging years is more like 25 human years. What made you want to start sharing your thoughts, ideas and feelings via the internet?

S: I started Souled On when I took a leave of absence from work to have a surgery. I was bored and spending a lot of time on the internet, so I started writing about dope stuff that I came across or things that I found interesting. If you look at those old posts, I didn’t have a solid sense of direction (thus the exhaustive length of the blog’s title) and I didn’t know the first thing about HTML language. I thought it might keep me amused for about a month or so until I started being productive again. I had no idea that anyone would read it, let alone that it would last this long.

W: We both know that coming up with ideas for posts can be challenging to say the least. You always seem to have great concepts when it comes to your posts, do you have anything that serves as inspiration?

S: Challenging is a perfect word for it, Trav. I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to come up with creative ideas under the circumstances of writing a blog. I’ve written more than 250 posts in 2 1/2 years, so the demand for fresh ideas is a constant in my life. What makes it even more difficult is that so many people have blogs now that it’s virtually impossible to bring entirely original ideas to the table. When I don’t have some great thematic concept in mind, I generally just rely on the music speaking for itself…and it does.

W: How long do you take working on the average post?

S: I’m not sure there’s a quantifiable measure of time I can offer on that, because even just listening to music is part of what I need to do to keep Souled On vital and continuous. I’ll tell you this, though…if I actually tried to come up with an estimate, it’d probably force me into blogger retirement.

W: Haha, I severely under estimate my time spent just for that reason. One of my favorite posts of yours was the interview with Jesus. How
is JC these days?

S: Ahhhhh…the Jesus interview was a classic, even if a lot of people didn’t understand my intentions. A couple of people thought it was blasphemous, but I also got an invitation to join the Christian Bloggers Association afterwards, so go figure. Jesus was a side character on Souled On for a while…you’d have to read the archives to understand the genesis of the idea.

For the record, it was all a bizarre satire that was never intended to disrepect JC. The Jesus interview itself came out of my frustration with assholes like George Bush using a pseudo-religious stance to promote a hateful and unjust agenda. The so-called moral majority always likes to put words in JC’s mouth, so I thought it might be kind of interesting to flip that concept around and depict Jesus as a much cooler guy.

Don’t worry though, Trav…Jesus will have a second coming on Souled On one day. Have faith.

W: I’d say something about people taking a joke, but I’ll leave it at just that. When you see JC, tell him to throw me down a Lexus is he gets the chance. How about you, do you have a favorite post of yours?

S: Hopefully I haven’t written it yet. Striving for something greater is really the only reason I can think of to stick around any longer.

W: Slick! I kick myself for not thinking of “Word From Your Moms” all the time. How did those come about? And where DO you find all those great sayings?

S: Besides music, literature is the other great love of my life. That said, for as many books as I‘ve read, I forget 99.9% of the content. I feel like I primarily read books to discover any grain of truth that speaks to me enough for me to recall it. You can encapsulate great meaning in the space of a line or two…it can actually be life-changing. That’s the sort of wisdom I look for when selecting quotes for Word From Your Moms. I look at it this way…if I can encourage people to listen and think, I might actually make a difference once in a while.

W: Wow, make your readers think, who would have ever thought of that? You and I have had previous discussions about the difference between people who visit our sites. There are those that are there for the Soul/Jazz/Funk music and those that are there for the Hip-hop. What do you see in the difference between the two different type of visitors?

S: I guess the most obvious distinction would be generational, although there are always exceptions to the rule. Can’t think of too many 16-years-olds who like Otis Redding, or 60-year-olds who are checkin’ for Ghostface Killah…ya know?

Grannies rocking Ghostface, there is a picture for the mind. Why do you think there is, not really animosity, but I think a lack of respect in some ways toward each other?

S: I think it all boils down to a lack of understanding. The worst scenario for hip hop fans is that they don’t have any knowledge or respect for artists who helped to lay a foundation for the art form. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have hard-headed soul and funk enthusiasts who are rigidly against hip hop. Some of these people actually believe that hip hop producers and DJs are just thieving sounds from their favorite records and turning them to absolute shit. It can be sort of confounding to find yourself standing in the middle of those two extremes, both of which are terribly misguided.

W: As a hip hop head, I have a big problem with the youth doesn’t do their homework and take the initiative to learn their history. Then, how do you go about catering to the different visitors then since your site has it all in a sense, the jazz, the funk, the soul and hip hop?

S: I don’t have a magic formula for bridging the great divide, except trying to earn credibility and respect on both sides of the fence. When people have some appreciation for your taste in music and they begin to trust your perceptions a little, then there’s hope that they’ll be willing to give something different a try. Almost every post I’ve ever written features a variety of genres, because I want to give people a chance to experiment with music they might not seek out otherwise.

W: I’ve noticed that you call visitors to your site “soul children”, any particular reason behind that? You are not trying to get a nation of “Juggalos” together, are you?

S: I always strive to create a sense of community, and that’s a term of endearment I use for my readers. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them on an individual basis, and even the ones I’ve never corresponded with directly share a bond with me in terms of common musical ground. I have a great affection for my readers. Without them, Souled On ain’t shit.

W: We both know that the soul/funk bloggers gets way more fans/stalkers than the hip hop bloggers? Whats up with that? You get any panties in the mail?

S: Well, a lot of the music I post is a little more emotional and romantic…ya gotta have something smoother in your collection than Kool G Rap to appeal to the ladies…ha ha. I actually got a marriage proposal once from a woman in Australia, which was a little strange. Mostly, I hear from guys who want to talk about obscure records, so female fans are a nice change of pace. So far the only underwear I’ve received was that pair of polyester boxers you sent to the crib, Trav…(laughs)

W: Damn, those were meant for your girlfriend. I even signed them….haha. In your opinion, what are the greatest Jazz, Funk, Soul, and Hip Hop albums?

S: I’m never good at deciding on favorites, because I have too many, but here are a few. Jazz: Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue, which is close to my heart because it’s the first jazz record I ever bought. I wore the hell out of “Flamenco Sketches”. Funk: James Brown, Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag…a stone cold classic. Soul: Lee Moses, Time And Place…the one album Lee Moses released remains an all time favorite. Hip Hop: Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers and Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt are pretty high on my personal list…not wildly original, but true.

W: Another pointless question then, who are your personal favorite artists in each genre?

S: Even this gets tough to narrow down, so I’ll just mention a few. Jazz: John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Nina Simone Funk: Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown Soul: Donny Hathaway, Irma Thomas, Otis Clay, Laura Lee Hip-Hop: Wu-Tang, Nas, Jay-Z, Biggie, Rakim, Slick Rick. My first hip hop idol was undoubtedly Jam Master Jay, and these days I listen to more independent/unsigned hip hop than anything else, so this list is probably a little misleading.

W: Obviously as you have already mentioned, hip hop “borrows” a lot from the old music that you often cover, do you have any problems with the whole sampling issue. Do you agree it’s an advantage in some ways to the older artists?

S: It definitely can be advantageous if the samples are credited and paid for, but a lot of times that isn’t the case. I understand the plight of a lot of producers who can’t afford costly fees, but then again, I have just as much heart for soul and funk artists who never made a dime off of their records. Under the best of circumstances sampling can be beneficial to both parties, but the arrangement definitely has to be handled with some fairness and integrity on both sides.

W: Okay, time for the token question. How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop?

S: People keep seriously pondering the question of whether or not hip-hop is dead, and most of the discussion on the subject has been nonproductive and counter-intuitive. I kind of want to avoid over analyzing the subject, but I will say that I don’t personally care for about 99% of the hip hop that’s currently being promoted by the major record companies and media outlets. That said, I’m more than willing to keep digging until I find quality material, and it definitely exists. On the surface, it’s easy to find hip hop deplorable in ’07, but I think it’s a common error in thinking to judge the overall state of the art form by the fact that Soulja Boy ain’t no Rakim.

W: If you could “x” out any hip hop artist on the scene who would it be?

S: Damn…only one? We can get started with just about anyone who has Lil’, Young, or Boy in their name. Most of them suck.

W: So no Lil Young Boy? How do you feel about the retro soul/blues artists that are starting to make a scene, such as Amy Winehouse and some of the others?

S: Well, I’d have to draw some lines of distinction before I could answer that question fairly. There are still some great funk and soul records being released, they just don’t do that well as far as SoundScan numbers are concerned. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Sweet Vandals, Leftie’s Soul Connection, and El Michels Affair are a few that came to mind right away. The only problem I have with the “neo-soul movement” is that major record companies are more concerned with creating accessible commodities than promoting talent, so they have to rely pretty heavily on generating hype to sell their products. When you start forcing the notion that vocalists like Joss Stone and Lily Allen are the Aretha Franklins of the next generation, a degree of authenticity is lost at that very moment. How can someone release an album or two and seriously hold weight against a legend like Aretha? That kind of bullshit has to be taken with a grain of salt.

As for Amy Winehouse, I actually dig her stuff. I consider her in her proper context, though. She’s put out a couple of very cool records, and that’s enough for me. She doesn’t have to be the next…anything…to capture my my attention. Considering that she’s drunk, white, skinny, and pukes a lot, she’s almost like the anti-Aretha…ya know?

W: Say its a Saturday night, what does the world famous Scholar do? Hit up the dance clubs? Jazz clubs? Hip Hop clubs?

S: Unfortunately, the live music scene where I live is virtually non-existent, outside of a handful of clubs that occasionally have some good local acts. On weekends I spend most of my time with my friends and family, because I work a ton of hours and devote a lot of time to digging and doing research for Souled On. It’s important not to lose my connection to the people in my personal life…I don’t want to become one of those lonely, isolated basement blogger types.

W: What other hobbies besides collecting every piece of vinyl ever made?

S: Well I love to knit. Just kidding. In the summer, I like spending a lot of time outdoors…hiking, kayaking, that sort of thing. I used to play basketball, but that shit tires me out now.

W: Alright, little exercise here….I’ll say a word, person, group and you tell me what first comes to your mind…..

George W. Bush: Fucktard

Jay-Z: You know this already…the McDonald’s of rap

Wilson Pickett: Raw and raspy

Mormons: Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, “Big Love”, Utah

File Sharing: A kinder, gentler term for what the RIAA likes to call “piracy”

Leechers: Ungrateful bastards

Marvin Gaye: The quintessential soul man

Vinyl: The one obsession in my life I don’t even try to control

CD’s: Boring, but necessary

NWA: Gangstas with Jheri curls (okay…sorry about that one, but I can’t control what pops into my mind). One of the most seminal groups in rap music’s history.

W: and finally Wake Your Daughter Up…haha

S: The best. Seriously, Trav…I don’t call you the hip hop guru for nothin’….

W: Damn, I figure you’d save the “fucktard” for me…haha…alright, thanks for your time!

Luckily enough for you all, Scholar brought along treats to share with the readers. How nice! (You’re Getting Too Smart—Detroit Emeralds)
Sampled on:

Anotha Level’s “What’s That Cha Say?”
Basement Khemist’s “Correct Technique”
Chill Rob G’s “Motivation”
Common’s “The Light”
Compton’s Most Wanted’s “Growin’ up in the ‘Hood”
Dove Shack’s “Bomb Drop”
Keith Murray’s “The Most Beautifullest Thing in the World”
Limp Bizkit’s “Nookie”
LL Cool J’s “Backseat (Of My Jeep)”
Main Source’s “Looking at the Front Door”
Masta Ace’s “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”
MC Lyte’s “Lil Paul”
Monica’s “Just One of Those Days”
Nas’s “Silent Murder”
Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Tell Me”
Raekwon’s “Incarcerated Scarfaces”
Ultra’s “NYC Street Corner Battle” (It’s A New Day—Skull Snaps)
Sampled on:

Alkaholiks’s “Bullshit”
Black Moon’s “Who Got the Props?”
Camp Lo’s “Cooley High”
Craig Mack’s “Real Raw”
Da King & I’s “Crack Da Weazel (Dat Other Shit)”
Das EFX’s “East Coast”
Das EFX’s “Mic Checka”
Diamond D’s “Sally Got a One Track Mind”
Digable Planets’s “For Corners”
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Twinkle Twinkle”
DJ Shadow’s “What Does Your Soul Look Like, Pt 3”
DJ Spooky’s “Anansi Abstrakt”
Dr. Octagon’s “A Visit to the Gynecologyst”
Eric B and Rakim’s “Step Back”
Erick Sermon’s “Hittin’ Switches”
Erick Sermon’s “The Ill Shit”
GangStarr’s “Take it Personal”
Gravediggaz’s “Mommy, What’s a Gravedigga?”
Guru’s “Choice of Weapons”
Heavy D’s “It’s a New Day”
Hieroglyphics’s “All Things”
Illegal’s “If U Want It”
Illegal’s “Lights, Camera, Action”
Kruder & Dorfmeister’s “Deep Shit pt. 1 & pt. 2”
Lords of the Underground’s “Funky Child”
Lords of the Underground’s “Keepers of the Funk”
Luke Vibert’s “I Hear the Drummer”
MadKap’s “Da Whole Kit & Kaboodle”
MadKap’s “Irrelevant”
MF Doom’s “Who You Think I Am?”
Mr. Lif’s “New Man Theme”
Naked Funk’s “Pearls of Compassion”
Naughty by Nature’s “Knock ‘Em out Da Box”
Nikki D’s “Your Man is My Man”
ODB’s “Hippa to da Hoppa”
Onyx’s “Da Mad Face Invasion”
Onyx’s “Getdafukout”
Organized Konfusion’s “Who Stole My Last Piece of Chicken?”
Peanut Butter Wolf’s “I Will Always Love H.E.R.”
Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By”
Public Enemy’s “How to Kill a Radio Consultant”
Redman’s “Watch Yo Nuggets”
Rob D’s “Clubbed to Death”
Saafir’s “Grab the Train”
Shadz of Lingo’s “Ill and Get Clowned”
ShowBiz & A.G.’s “Silence of the Lambs”
Stezo’s “It’s My Turn”
Tim Dog’s “I’ll Wax Anybody”
Ultramagnetic MCs’s “One, Two, One, Two”
Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Two Brothers with Checks”
Wascals’s “Hard Rhymes”
Yaggfu Front’s “My Dick is So Large” (I Forgot To Be Your Lover—William Bell)
Sampled on:

Brand Nubian’s “Lick Dem Muthafuckaz”
Chino XL’s “Sorry”
Dilated Peoples’s “Worse Comes to Worst”
Jahiem’s “Put that Woman First”
Killah Priest ft Tekitha’s “One Step”
Ludacris’ “Growing Pains” (Get Me Back On Time, Engine Number 9—Wilson Pickett)
Sampled on:

Big Daddy Kane’s “Troubled Man”
C.E.B.’s “Fuck ‘em Up”
Cool C’s “Get Loose Now”
Freshco & Miz’s “Ain’t U Freshco?”
Hostyle’s “Keep on Movin”
Insane Poetry’s “Grim Reality”
Intelligent Hoodlum’s “Black and Proud”
Jaz’s “A Nation Divided”
Justin Warfield’s “Cool Like the Blues”
JVC Force’s “The Force is the Boss”
LA Star’s “Fade to Black”
LL Cool J’s “The Bristol Hotel”
Lord Tashan & MC Tee’s “Gangster Nine”
NWA’s “Approach to Danger”
NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”
Phase N Rhythm’s “Hook N Sling”
Salt-N-Pepa’s “I Desire”
Super Cat’s “Ghetto Red Hot” (C.R.E.A.M._El Michels Affair) (Protect Ya Neck_Wu & El Michels live) (Planet Rock Pt 1_Breakout)

Past Interviews With A Blogger

Travis from WYDU (Interviewing Myself) 05/2007

Eric from When They Reminisce 06/2007

Jaz from Cold Rock The Spot 07/2007 “Interview With A Blogger III: The Daughter Interviews The Kiwi”

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