An occasional feature in which D.C. radio area jocks talk about music they love but can't play at work.
Radio personality EZ Street works for WKYS 93.9-FM, which calls itself D.C.'s source for "what's hot in the hip-hop community." But man can not live on Jeezy and Weezy alone.
EZ has long used Twitter, Facebook and his blog to expose his listeners to music he likes that falls outside of his station's hip-hop and R&B format.
“Before I got behind the microphone, I was behind the turntables,” he says. "I produce mixes of different sounds for free — down tempo, chill-out, also Afro-beat, classic house, and other sounds like that — stuff that makes you move is what I gravitate towards.”
EZ tells TBD about some of the stuff he plays when he’s not at work listening to Soulja Boy and Melanie Fiona.
Zero 7: London has a tremendous downtempo scene--it’s incredible, that’s how I found groups like Zero 7. They had an album out called Simple Things, and they actually came and performed at the 9:30 Club — it absolutely floored me. It’s a downtempo, chill-out sound, and it has a female vocalist. When I first heard them, I was like, 'These sisters can sing!' Then I got to the show and they weren’t black. That kind of educated me. I think Americans have segregated ears. Not in Europe; their ears all over the place.
I actually gave my massage therapist Kimberly a copy of Zero 7 to play for me during massages. She started playing it for other people and now they request it.
Thievery Corporation: One of the groups I got into was Thievery Corporation. Those guys are phenomenal. Rob [Garza] and Eric [Hilton] are legendary cats. They're so huge in other parts of world, [and many people] in D.C. don’t know they’re our homeboys. One thing I liked about them is that they borrowed sounds, Jamaican sounds, they'll put Indian in there, they’ll have a hip-hop feel in some of it. It's an amalgamated sound, and they do that better than anyone else in the world.
I made a tribute mix to them, just to kind of pass around to my friends, since I can’t put anything like that on KYS. We play hip-hop and R&B. I’d be looking for job if I did that.
Foreign Exchange: I found out about Foreign Exchange as a group first, and then found out that the group was created by Nikolai, a Dutch producer. He has these compilations, The Dutch Masters — one is kind of trip-hoppy, chill out, one has MCs over [the tracks]...
With Foreign Exchange one of the singers, Muhsinah, she’s from here, I talked to her on Twitter and let her know I liked her work. Cats who are into this stuff see my tweets, and are like, 'Street, what you know about Nikolay and Foreign Exchange? You just play Lil Wayne and Drake all day.' And I’m like, 'Let me turn you on to this.'
Janelle Monae: I don’t know her whole story, I know that Diddy was involved. She is so incredible, so refreshing, I’m so glad she didn’t buckle to pressures of industry, her album [The ArchAndroid] is so refreshing. For her to be producing that kind of music, and no one in urban radio is playing it, to me, is criminal. Diddy said he cried when he first heard the album, and if you can make Diddy cry...
Check out EZ Street's "Left Field" mix, featuring Janelle Monae, Eric Roberson, Omar, Res, and others