Always with a cap on, I’ve had the chance to hang out with this “bespeckled, smart looking guy”, as Doc Waffles called him, over the past year & have had the honor to soak up much of his saucy sounds.
Most days Eddie Logix can be found in the Eastern Market penthouse twisting the knobs, creating beats & producing albums for a laundry list of some of Detroit’s finest gents creating hip-hop today. But unlike a lot of producers, who seem more comfortable with their faces buried in a laptop, Logix has a strong stage presence as well as part of Progress Report with D. Allie, MidCoast Most and as hype man to Doc Waffles.
So, just in time for your Janus view on the 2012-2013 cusp, Logix offers you a free taste of his “Gregorian Mixtape” – a compilation of his work over the past year mixed by DJ Dante LaSalle.
The artwork is by Dial 81 who tapped Logix to help him with some of the mixing for the “Detropia” documentary soundtrack earlier this year.
At the low, low price of $0.00, give it a listen. Then pick up the albums by all the cats involved because it only makes logical sense that a man named Eddie Logix would be presenting the leading edge of the Detroit sound!
Holy shit. We’ve written about Detroit’s Colin Duerr & the Kresge Arts Grant winners, Passalacqua before. But their latest collaboration begs me to wonder why they’re not blowing up yet. The sets, costumes (what there is of them) and makeup are all fantastic along with some old school film effects that I wish more filmmakers would use today.
I believe Colin is one of those music video directors where the music becomes the soundtrack for his short. Instead of just throwing in some flashy, expensive car & money props that ends up making the musician or artist look repulsive or just plain foolish, his videos often follow a storyline that most music video directors think is an afterthought.
To hear Ben Ness tell it, Waffles’ given name, the album’s title comes from a combination of two events: 1.) while living in Southwest Detroit at the time he looked outside and noticed his apartment was surrounded, in 360 degrees, by billboards for personal injury attorneys & 2.) his friend suffered a dog bite and had a story to tell after going through a personal injury lawsuit.
Hip-Hop with a Novelist’s Approach
“Ambulance Chasers” opens with a sample from “The Aviator” of dialogue between Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchet) and Howard Hughes (Leonard DiCaprio) talking about golf. This continues several themes & references in Waffles’ work including golf and the pair in question. Mr. Ness is proud to tell you that he was the captain of his golf team in high school, loves the sport and that there is no finer piece of attire than a “Golf Shirt”. The dialogue between the Hollywood legends reference back to the pair’s starring role in a track on Waffles recent EP, “Seizure Suit Farms”.
The record is put together with the concept of a novelist. It’s not surprising considering Waffles’ day job as a rare book dealer. “Ambulance Chasers” extends his previous references from “Golf View Drive” through “How to Shoot Quail” to expand on his themes of misconnection, removal and self-reflection. Waffles’ appears to be looking at aging, at times, and asking new questions about the durability of the heart and the ideas of permanence.
The lead track “Hockey Fights” finds allegories to the flying fists of the Detroit Red Wings of yore, like Bob Probert, the physicality of relationships and the durability of out-of-date formats such as the trusty, dusty VHS tape.
A big highlight on the album, “Groucho Masks”, is a tale of longing, grasping for connection and trying to create a new paradigm from the latest shocks that is heartbreaking due to the use of multi-layered symbolic references to previous songs and themes that rewards faithful listeners to the Doc Waffles catalogue.
That’s one of the rare and risky things about Doc Waffles’ work. He doesn’t create a self-contained piece that lives in its own bubble. His albums are like Venn diagrams that stack upon each other at skewed angles and offer more with each connection to past work and each additional listen. This is something most artists are not willing to consider from song-to-song let alone album-to-album in our “just download the best tracks, forget listening to the record all the way though” world. Single tracks or albums do not begin to tell the untold riches that await the listener to Doc Waffles. A broad, inclusive approach is needed in order to wring out nuance, humor and, ultimately, understanding from Mr. Ness’s novelistic approach. His concepts take time to develop within the ear and the mind.
Look out NYC, Philly and even Toledo – a traveling side show of death-defying rappers is coming your way and its doing it Detroit style. That means, of course, only one thing: it’s “BETTER MADE”.
The “BETTER MADE” tour sends Passalacqua, one of the key groups in the Detroit hip-hop scene, out of the road for the very first time. After several years of great shows & building a fan base in Detroit, the team of “Mister” and “The Blaksmith” will be infecting folks south and east of the Motor City with their laidback style and a touch of humor.
Although funny, at times – such as rapping in spacemen helmets, Passalacqua hits some hard topics on their albums. For example, “Ms. Washington (Bridge Card Hustle)” on “Zebehazy Summer” features a smooth flow and tasty beat with a female vocal chorus on the topic of welfare fraud and trying to make it day-to-day. Other tracks like “Sunset City” (check out the video below) offer odes to the Motor City. Because, you’ll learn quickly, these cats are steeped in Detroit and wear it proudly.
While Passalacqua is out bringing some new Detroit sounds to the you – they are offering a fresh take on their most recent release, last fall’s “Zebehazy Summer”. This special remix album features many respected local producers like Eddie Logix twisting the nobs and breathing new life into the beats & ideas.
What is it in the water here in Detroit? For some reason we seem to create the most critically loved (Eminem) and hated (ICP) white rappers in the world.
Detroit seems to be the place where a predominately black art form can mix with the over-culture and create something completely new & innovative.
Meet Doc Waffles – a man creating new ideas and attitude out of the mix.
Over the past six months, I’ve fallen in love with the sonic stretching and innovative word play of Ben Ness AKA Doc Waffles. I saw him earlier this month at the Magic Stick in Detroit. That’s where I made this bootleg of his show.
Doc Waffles throwing down at the Old Miami (Detroit) in September 2011
Waffles is a rapper who paints in colors not often used in the hip-hop palate. He goes into areas most other rappers would rarely, if ever, venture. As a genre, hip-hop seems limited. Those limits are usually self-imposed. Countless MCs maintain the conventions of braggadocio and maintaining a hard edged, cool persona. For Ness’s alter-ego, he brings a willingness to be funny, absurd and surreal all filtered through his experience of growing up in his “hood” – the exurbs of Oakland County – one of the richest counties in America.
Doc Waffles "Seizure Suit Farms"
The former high school golf team captain, and collector of antique books, released his latest EP in the fall of 2011. “Seizure Suit Farms” is a short, solid example of Waffles’s obsessions and observations. The record features odes to the sorrow that socks are “never quite the same” once you wear & wash them, the story of Billy Joel’s attempted suicide in the early 1970s & how “We Didn’t Start the Fire” was a milestone that “re-invented rap” as well as a story of a privileged & young “princess” who is totally irresponsible, not only with love but with her cat and her life.
But for me, Ness’s filtering of the suburban experience finds its height on “Golf View Drive”. Waffles’s 2006 album shows an almost autobiographical sense of the despair many have felt growing up in the suburbs. Couple the narrator’s despair with a parent who has given up and wallows in his own self-destruction and the record takes on qualities akin to David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” or Sam Mendes & Alan Ball’s “American Beauty”. “Golf View Drive” introduces the listener to the great and horrible things lurking in the world of big houses and manicured lawns. Doc Waffles songs feature topics that can be as soul crushing and jarring as anything coming from a rapper who has lived in the streets of urban American decay. Waffles walks listeners through a world of alcoholic fathers & the concern of growing up to be just like the old man, working to strip away the fronts we all seem to live with and even having to put your mother in a nursing home & all the emotions that go along with it. These are not the typical fields rappers till. But for Doc Waffles, it is fertile ground – sonically and lyrically speaking.
A friend (of a friend) shot this video in Detroit at the Majestic Theater last night at the Odd Future show. A fight breaks out (which ends the show early) with OFWGKTA vs Detroit when idiots start throwing glass bottles on the stage striking a couple members. I figured there’d be a bunch of Juggalos there for this show, but Jeremy said that they weren’t the culprits. Probably they were just some regular a-holes that drove mommy and daddy’s car down from Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills and they wanted to throw stuff because no one else pays attention to them any other time. Way to go wisenheimer.