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Published: 2003/05/28
by Andy Tennille

Used with DJ Logic [Narrative of A Record Bin BInge]

A walk through the used record bins of some of San Francisco’s finest music stores with musicians, both famous and infamous.

"This place makes me dizzy, man."

Jason Kibler's eyes ballooned as we stepped into the monstrosity that is San Francisco's Amoeba Music on Haight Street. Kibler, aka DJ Logic, suddenly looked like a cross between Augustus Gloop and the little girl from "Poltergeist" both immensely terrified and terrifyingly immense in the same exact moment.

"There are just too many records to look at," Logic says as we walk into the main room electrified by the sound of the excited hordes flipping through reams of CD jewel cases. "It's like I can feel the energy from all these records."

It wouldn't be the first time Logic's been accused of being in tune with a higher power. From his beginnings as a Bronx-bred deejay playing community events to his recent collaboration as the Yohimbe Brothers with former Living Color guitarist Vernon Reid, Logic has developed a unique style all his own in both his own solo performances and his ability to improvise onstage with other musicians, blending killer beats with music from all cultures.

Growing up in the Bronx, Logic was heavily influenced early on by Afrika Bambaata and the Zulu Nation collective. "I used to go down and hear Afrika Bambaata spin, and just watch and try and learn what he was doing, see what beats he was using," Logic says. "Then I'd go home and try and do it myself."

Run DMC's "Sucker MCs" and Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" were big hits with the young Logic, along with DJ Jazzy Jeff's work. "He was an innovator," Logic says. "I listened to Jazzy Jeff early on. He did the whole transformer scratch thing. It was cool."

Logic's breadth of music knowledge may only be challenged by the depth of his understanding of one particular genre. Beyond old school rap, Logic's interests range from afro beat, Latin, hip-hop, jazz, rock to soul, Indian and electronica. But his love for obscure blues music was most surprising.

"I love old blues music," Logic says as he picks up an old Howlin Wolf vinyl. "A couple of years ago, I did some work on Chris Whitley's Rockethouse album. I had picked up a copy of Robert Johnson's King of the Delta album because I thought it'd sound good. I found a small part of music that fit and added some beats and textures to it. I like to challenge myself like that. John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters…I saw this old woman name Jessie Mae Hempwill play down at this blues event in Mississippi. She was amazing, man."

A mention of Martin Luther King Jr. and Logic is off to the spoken work section of the store. As I wander up a few minutes later, he's pawing through BBC News broadcasts from the 1950s.

"I look at spoken word as storytelling. It's like teaching, the educational part of my mix," Logic says with a laugh. "I like throwing it in there, so people look up and listen. Stuff like JFK speeches, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X stuff. These old BBC albums are great- I like taking pieces of interviews and then play them out during changes. Makes people stop and think."

The sight of Bernard Purdie's 1971 album Purdie Good brings a smile to Logic's face. "I had a chance to play with Bernard and Christian McBride, the bass player," Logic says. "Both of those guys could jam. Bernard was just so cool to play with. I've played with Clyde Stubblefield and Mike Clark too- playing with those older guys that still have that excitement about playing is awesome, man."

Talk of Purdie inevitably turns to Logic's other major collaboration in jazz music to date, Medeski, Martin and Wood's seminal 1998 album, Combustication. According to Logic, the partnership would never have materialized save for a chance meeting with MMW drummer Billy Martin at a studio in New York.

"It was around the time of the Shackman release and Billy asked me to come down and spin at the party," Logic says. "I didn't know what to expect, so I brought a bunch of hip-hop and jazz. Everyone seemed to enjoy the set. I brought a whole different set of records for scratching and mixing with MMW. I played with them all night and it turned out great. A couple of days later, Billy called me and said they were planning a new record and wanted me to be on it. I was just happy to be a part of it."

Logic's most recent collaboration with Vernon Reid for the Yohimbe Brothers' Front End Lifter album is based on a relationship the two musicians have had since the 1980s. Reid started the Black Rock Coalition, an organization devoted to opening doors in music for black musicians, which brought Logic in and helped him develop as a musician, introducing him to heroes such as DST and DJ Red Alert.

"Vernon and I just clicked. His energy and vibe are just so great," Logic says. "He's really been a role model for me, and someone to talk to. And he has so much knowledge and information. Vernon's a music library- he knows everything."

With some time off this summer, Logic is returning to the studio to record the follow-up album to his 2001 release, The Anomaly. And he'll also be hard at work on a hip-hop album with Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno and Brooklyn rapper J-Live. As he makes one more pass through the electronic section, Logic passes his hand over the bin of vinyl records and laughs.

"I wish I could just feel which records will sound good," Logic says, grinning. "You know what I mean? That'd be great, man. To just know which ones will be the big hits."

DJ Logic’s Picks of the Day
Jesse Mae Hempwill's She-Wolf
DJ Cam
Shuggie Otis, Inspiration Information
Antibalas, Talkatif
John Zorn

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