Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rest in peace DJ Matthew Africa - your spirit will live on through the records you shared

"RIP to one of the best beat diggers, djs, and all around nicest dudes in the game. You will be missed, but your spirit will live on brotha."

The above comment, posted by Tha Megatrononline yesterday, is just one of the literally hundreds of tributes  that have been written about beloved Bay Area DJ Matthew Africawho was tragically killed last Monday (9/3) in a car crash. Since Thursday last, when the shocking news of this well-known and well-liked DJ's sudden death began circulating, friends and fans from the Bay and beyond have been mourning his passing through memories of the music that Matthew himself loved so much and happily shared via his radio shows, blogs, 2 Busy Sayin’ Yeah podcasts, club sets, and mixtapes. That comment by Tha Megatron was posted on the
 MixCrate page for Matthew Africa's final mix, "Matthew Africa: Plays Seven Inches,"
made a few weeks ago. On August 14th, the tireless crate-digging Bay Area DJ made what would be the last entry on his blog. And in true Matthew Africa fashion, it was all about music and records, and about how he was really looking forward to spinning 45s at the upcoming weekend's 45 Sessions - both to play records and to hang out with fellow music fanatics/DJs like DJ Platurn, E Da Boss,DJ Enki, and Joe Quixx.

"These days I really never play 45 sets except when I'm out in NYC and drop in on friends who do vinyl parties like Mr. Finewine or JBX. The last time I remember doing that on the west coast was for an all-45 45th birthday party for my friend DJ Stef," wrote Matthew on that final blog.

And in further true Matthew Africa form (a guy known for executing exact and exhaustive detail on everything he did in life), the ever prolific DJ laced up "a warm-up" mix for the 45 Sessions (with full track listing) of what he described as,  "mostly '70's era funk and soul-- lots of classics, some recent favorites, some oddities. Hopefully there's some "oh shit, it's great to hear that," some "wait, what the hell is that?" and maybe an "ooh, he's got that?" or "wait, that's on 45?!?" or two." The 46 record mix's tracklist included records by such artists as
  Pearly QueenDionne WarwickHank BallardThe Fabulous Souls, The Soul Company,The Isley Brothers, and Marvin Gaye.

DJ Eleven's Matthew Africa Music Memories:
Matthew's musical tastes were so varied and deep, and he shared so much music with me over the twenty years we knew each other, that I could list hundreds of songs that will always remind me of him.  Some of the very special ones, which I uploaded here are:
Freddie Hughes, "Sarah Mae" - One of Matthew's favorite types of song was the melancholy soul song.  (Check his"Soul Boulders" series with B Cause for a lot more.)  This was a song he sent to me when I was working on a project and had asked him for suggestions, which I always did.  His ideas were invariably amazing, unexpected, and appropriate with a laser-like precision.  Dude knew music, loved sharing it, and put a tremendous amount of thought into making sure it was selected perfectly for every situation.  The first time I listened to "Sarah Mae" my eyes started to water and listening to it now, years later, I can't stop crying.

Mac Mall, "Sic Wit Tis" - Matthew was a huge fan of hip hop from all over the country, but a great Bay rap song was his SHIT.  I think about him every time the second half 
of the third verse rolls around in "Sic Wit Tis" and Mall switches to his slick-talk-pimp voice.  The beat smoothes out and the sweet sax comes in: "when we first meet, I give you full respect.  I'll be the sweetest motherfucker that you ever met."  It sounds like Mac Mall had an epiphany and is ready to treat his woman like a lady.  But then he finishes the verse as the sax player finishes up: "don't think think I'm stop doing scandalous shit, i'm taking mail, food stamps, checks, even WIC...  Bitch!"

Nice & Smooth, "Hip Hop Junkies (Spanish Fly version)" - I don't know how much Spanish Matthew actually spoke but anytime anyone played this version, which was pretty damn infrequent, Matthew would dance around and sing every single word.  "Yo tengo funky funky rhymes con un funky funky style" and on and on.  It was one of the most unabashedly joyful sights I've ever seen.
                                                                           - DJ Eleven

"it was because of DJing at KALX that we crossed paths. He was just one of my favorite DJ's to listen to, and he inspired me to dig deeper. It meant a lot when he struck up a conversation regarding something I was playing. Am listening to Can's"Halleluhwah" at full volume, right now. We shared a moment over this at KALX, long ago."

   - fellow KALX DJ Hugh Howie

"One day, years ago, I saw Matt shopping in the rap section at Amoeba Berkeley and he proudly recommended this isht..Dirty Raps Best of Too $ of my favorite comp./mixes. "Oak-lin' Cal-uh For-nigh-yay" will never be the same without Matthew Africa. The nicest; in every hip and formal sense of the word."
            - William Smith  (aka KALX DJ Last Will)

        Matthew Africa DJing wedding party for Marin Moran and her husband Brian (Sept 2005)
"My husband Brian and I got married in September 2005 and Matthew was the only person on my list of potential DJs for the event. Matthew said yes without hesitation and proceeded to turn the evening into the booty-shakingest funk and soul dance party that any of us had ever been to. The groove was so perfect 
that it inspired a no less than twenty minute dance-off between Brian's sixty year-old father and his twenty-something best man. All the other guests danced on the sidelines while hollering with delight. Hilariously, another notable moment in the evening occurred when Brian's dad and I accidentally ended up dancing together to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On".

After all the first dances (Brian and I, father/daughter, son/mom, etc), Matthew was transitioning into getting everyone else on the dance floor with a little smooth Marvin Gaye. I was about to grab Brian for another dance when Brian's dad swept me up for a bride/father of the groom dance. As Marvin Gaye sang "I'm asking you baby to get it on with me", Brian's dad beamed and twirled me around, completely unaware. I looked over at Matthew and we both chuckled as he sort of shrugged. It was a terrific night." 
                         - Marin Moran (fellow KALX'er) who wrote a more in-depth tribute to Matthew on her blog

Jonatha Sklute's Musical Memories of Matthew Africa
"I'm devastated by the loss of my friend Matthew. Two songs that have been in my head over the last couple days have been the Lijadu Sisters' "Life's Gone Down Low", a psychedelic afro-funk track that I hipped him to a number of years back at my record shop; he took it home and used it on the original Soul Boulders* mix. It sounds melancholy, but the lyrics convey an uplifting message of togetherness. Another tune on my mind is by the Bay Area soul group Chain Reaction, called "Lady In Red". This song popped into my head early this week, as if sent directly from Matthew's departed spirit. I couldn't place it... until yesterday, as I was mourning and playing Matthew's mixes, I realized it was from his Soul Boulders 2* mix. "Lady In Red" is about a woman, but there's a bridge in there that could as easily be about Matthew: "I know you've got to go (start another day, start another day)/the cards you never show, no (always have to pay, always have to pay)/and when I see you again (I'll know this game)/I'll be much older then, but you'll still be the same..."