Monday, 16 November 2015

Black Belt Jams 101

We were officially moved into the Slayer House and party time had commenced. Steve Waller was heading back to BC soon, so he was spending most of his time at our place. Our backyard backed onto a field that was part of an elementary school, and it's big blank walls stared into our kitchen windows. Waller declared he would tag (graffiti) the school before he departed to Vancouver. Sure enough, on his last night in Ontario, he snuck over to the school during the wee hours of the night and emblazoned one of its walls with a big graffiti burner. It was beautiful. Steve wanted to get a picture of it in the morning before he left, but we were all shocked and disappointed when we awoke and discovered the schools janitor had already removed it. I was going to miss Steve big time, and I didn't know it then, but it would be another 4 years until I saw him again. 

Meanwhile in our new, not so humble abode, we finally had an official jam space for our newest musical endeavor Black Belt Jones. We had a table in the corner of the space where Mike had set up his turntables and mixer. We also had a P.A. system set up on said table, as well as space for our drum machines. In the adjacent corner, Mike's small jazz drum kit was set up for rocking beats, as well as his guitar amp and guitar. Myers and Pauly brought their amps and guitars and the special ingredients, their drum machines.

Pauly had gotten his drum machine awhile back, and Myers now had one too. I had previously programmed a few songs into Paul's as had he, and Myers had programmed a couple of songs into his. I liked the fact we had two different drum machines, as it meant we would have varying sounds for our songs. I don't vividly recall our first jam here, but I do know that since we already had beats programmed it was time to start building songs.

From this point forward we would have a weekly jam, generally Friday evenings after everyone was done work. There was never a shortage of beer and the pipe was always packed. It was in these first weeks of jamming that we put together the songs that would eventually be our first demo tape. Our first batch of creations included "Oldschool Enuff" a song loosely based on The Message by Grandmaster Flash, "It's Like Dope" which is pretty self explanatory although it was inspired by the Schoolly D song of the same title, and the coup de gras: a self titled bomb track that always hyped us up. 

Myers had also had come up with a little ditty he called "Slut love in B minor" which was one of the first songs we completed. It later came to be known as "The P-Stro Beat" which spawned from Myers old 3 n' Pass MC alias "Mr.P." I'm not sure how the whole "stro" thing came into play, but I gather it was on account of the Beastie Boys song "The Maestro" in the later days to follow we would even start to refer to Mike C as "The C-Stro". We now had the P-Stro, the C-Stro, Prince Pauly, and myself "Black Belt Jones" the final four of what started as a 10 man band.

Lyrically I had an abundance of material to choose from, so when we were building these songs I was merely reading random pages from my rhyme books. When I found something that went well with the music, I stuck with it. Over the next few weeks we continued jamming and refining our songs, each week they'd become tighter and better. Musically this was the most fun I'd had in any band yet. Everyone's input and ideas were welcomed with open arms, we collectively created our songs together, there were no egos, no control freaks, we were simply four guys who were open to suggestions and down for whatever. 

What we were down for now though, was getting some shows booked so we could spread our sound to open and willing ears...

The rhyme book that started it all...

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