DJ Selecta Tom Schnabel Spins Again

This week, it’s the second installment of my Rhythm Planet dance party. (Click here to stream the first one.) These are the type of tracks I’d play at a small club like Zanzibar or at a private event. I’m an old school ‘selecta’ or selector, rather than the type of beat-matching DJ that wheels around a big Traktor rig. Instead, I use an ancient M-Audio X-Session Pro mixer together with my Macbook Pro laptop when I deejay events. Back in the day, I used to cart my vinyl around in heavy milk crates before I started schlepping CDs around in those Case Logic 48-count shoulder cases…heavy stuff.

We’ll start with the classic 1989 ‘dope remix’ of “Say No Go” by New York hiphop trio, De La Soul. After that, we have Kwanzaa Posse’s “Wicked Funk.” Listen closely, and you’ll recognize Fela Kuti’s voice being sampled. This track was originally released on 12″ vinyl but then later re-released as part of the Quango World Groove compilation. The entire CD is just great!

Next, we press rewind and travel back in time to the 1960s with “The Madison Time,” a funny track by the Ray Bryant Combo that’s just great for swing dancing. We also have a Dennis Ferrer 12″ that made this playlist, thanks to a phone call from Barry Manilow. He heard this song late one night on KCRW and wanted to know what it was, so I did some sleuthing through playlists and found it. Barry has big ears and listens to a lot of different music, as “A Black Man in Space” proves.

Malian singer Nahawa Doumbia is next, remixed by French electronic artist, Frédéric Galliano, on a cool compilation, titled, Frikyiwa Collection 1. ‘Frikyiwa’ (and the word, ‘Afriki’) are the African words for Africa. Terakaft, a desert blues band from Northern Mali, continues the African groove. Nothing like that big Malian modal groove to get bodies moving. Then it’s Michael Franti and Spearhead, a fabulous band that always rocks the house, which they’ve done several times at the Hollywood Bowl. I’ve been following these guys since the late 1980s, when they called themselves The Disposable Heroes of Hipophrisy. This album is a live concert from Sydney, Australia, that comes with a DVD of the full performance on the flip side.

James Brown recorded “Living in America” in 1986 for the Scotti Brothers Records label, which was once located on Pico Boulevard, just down from the KCRW studios, but it’s long gone now. Zero dB hits us up next with the title track from his album, Bongos, Bleeps & Basslines. The album name says it all.

I’ll wrap this week’s show with a popular classic from A Tribe Called Quest, as well as a hot merengue piece by Elvis Crespo, a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican heritage. I once saw him perform at the Hollywood Bowl on crutches with a broken foot, and he still got the crowd going! Finally, our last song of the week comes from Brazilian group, Stereo Maracanã. Named after the big soccer stadium in Rio de Janeiro, they combine elements of hip hop, funk, and capoeira.

Keep this playlist for a party or take it out for a spin in your car. It’s not music to read the paper or to do your homework to—it’s music to dance to, move your feet to, and drive to. Enjoy this week’s mix!





Tom Schnabel