From the Left
As I listen back to "From the Left" I realize how much of a hit maker Karniege was and is. The chorus’ written on here combined with my beats create such a catchy and memorable vibe while still remaining authentic to the underground sound both of us were engrossed in when this album was created. Karniege and I met through my working as an engineer at Definitive Jux circa 2004. I had seen him perform live at shows around NYC and at the time I was making beat CDs (yes, physical CDs) and giving them to people that I thought were dope. Karniege was one of the first people to hear my beats and truly respond. We quickly decided to put together a full album. Outside of the work with my own group, The Presence, "From the Left" is the first album that was released that I had fully produced, in fact even The Presence stuff had a cameo producer here or there.
The first song we ever recorded together was “Drug Habitz” (the demo version from that session can be heard on this re-master for the first time). That track went on to be re-recorded and mixed for the album version. We then moved on to record “Make News” and “Bazooka, Chameleon, Robot”. The former landing on Definitive Jux Presents Vol. 3 and it’s own Def Jux 12” and the latter featuring Access Immortal, Aesop Rock and EL-P was the B-side to that 12”. Both of those tracks have at some point become un-available online digitally, so this re-master returns them to this space for the first time in a while.
All of this was taking place in the midst of us starting work on an album together which would come to be “From the Left”. By this time I was in the early phase of starting my own label, Uncommon Records. By the time the album was ready, I was no longer working at Definitive Jux and we decided to put this out on my imprint which was at the time only 4 years old in 2008.
As I said at the outset, Karniege and I had hit records on this album. From the intensity of “People’s Anthem”, to the catchiness of “You Don’t Know” to the simplicity of “Mad Cow Milk” or the sneaky hypnotism of "Flu Shot". Back in 2008 it was really hard to get anyone’s attention about music. We were in a weird crossover period where things looked easy but weren’t. We were at a point where press people were still asking for CD’s to be mailed to their house and Pandora wanted Amazon ID numbers to be added to their service. It was really hard to navigate in an era where physical media was meeting the digital future head on. This was prior to social media really taking off, prior to streaming being a legal method of hearing music but also at a time when brick and mortar stores and distributors were folding around the country. All the while, learning on the fly how to run a record label. I’ve always felt like due to that climate this album never got a fair shake. That was a big part of me wanting to get this back out there 10 years later.
At the time we were releasing digital “singles” with some of the instrumentals included, but now for the first time ever the entire album of instrumentals, plus the one’s from that Def Jux single, are now made available. If you were into my production on my latest release, “Written At Night”, this album features some of the genesis of what I’d say is my “sound”. At this time in my life all I had was two turntables and an MPC2000xl, so what you hear in total is samples, chopped, blended and replayed. I was a proud sample based producer and I think you can hear that on this release.
I’d like to thank Karniege for agreeing to this re-release, re-master and being part of the process to getting it back out to people. I’d also like to thank Fred Ones at TME Studios in the Bronx for spending an afternoon getting familiar with the DAT format once again as we re-stored the tapes to Pro-Tools. I’d like to thank and shout out the Audio Restorations company in Santa Rosa, CA that Fred helped me find after I damaged one of our DAT tapes forgetting how delicate they are. AR was able to re-attach a tape that had literally snapped clean in the machine as I fast-forwarded too quickly and then dub the whole thing to a Pro Tools file for me.
Lots of work over the stretch of 10 plus years went into what you are now hearing and I’m happy to have been able to bring this into 2018 adding it to our Bandcamp and my website, but also Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal. Take this trip into the not so distant past with us, I think we’ll agree this material has aged well and is still something that sounds current even today.
- Written by Uncommon Nasa (October 2018)
All Songs Written and Performed by Karniege except where otherwise indicated, for Move Mountains Music (ASCAP).
All Songs Produced by Uncommon Nasa for Uncommon Color Combinations (SESAC).
All Songs Recorded and Mixed by Nasa @ Nasa Labs, NYC with the exception of "Make News" and "Bazooka, Chameleon, Robot" which were Recorded and Mixed at Definitive Jux Studios.
Album Re-Mastered by Nasa @ Nasa Labs, NYC.
Restoration from DAT recordings performed by Fred Ones at TME Studios in the Bronx, NY and by Audio Restorations in Santa Rosa, CA.
Graphic Layout by DJ Jazzpants.
Original Artwork by Karniege.