L. Vicious: One thing I ask almost every artist I interview is what type of media or music was around growing up? Records, the radio, a piano, daily news, etc?
Lafa Taylor: I was lucky enough to not have a tv in my house until I was about 14, so for entertainment we would listen to tapes on the boombox. My mom had a pretty good selection of reggae, dub and hip hop tapes that I specifically took a liking to.
LV: How did you manage to travel the world years ago as a teenager and what was this portable studio you were able to document it with?
LT: My family got me traveling at an early age, so I have been visiting exotic destinations for as long as I can remember. When I was 18 I brought a lightweight laptop, battery powered mic and midi controller to Costa Rica where I made an album called "Hot Winter" working with local musicians I met along my journey.
LV: You debuted with an album called "Life Music" ...kind of audacious at the age of seventeen, no?
LT: I suppose, but it was natural for me. I always was very ambitious and knew I could do anything I put my mind to. After graduating high school I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life so I did it. Looking back it's not my favorite music but it's still a cool moment in time and is pretty fun to think I put all the pieces together myself.
LV: However, you followed that up w a Def Tech tour that sold out everything and went multiplatinum...intensity at ten cities, live at Budokan? That must've been surreal to say the least?
LT: (Intensity / in 10 cities) I might have to use that lol! It was definitely pretty amazing. Playing Budokan at 21 for around 10,000 screaming fans was definitely a reassuring moment.
LV: With EDM as a norm now in the mainstream, how do you plan on making waves in an ocean of homogenized electronic madness?
LT: My sound has always been different so I'm not too worried about getting swallowed in the ocean, I'm just gonna stay on my surf board and keep hanging ten on these big waves. Shoots!
We had the opportunity to see Shadow and Cut on their Renegades of Rhythm tour here in New York City and it was nothing short of stellar. They performed at Irving Plaza to a dude heavy crowd. The opening ceremony was “A gift from us to you” Shadow said, as he pointed to Afrika Bambaataa observing from the Balcony. He then dropped Barret Strong’s “Message From A Black Man” which was made popular by The Temptations towards the end of 60’s. However, The Temptations thought it was too forward for their act and never actually performed it live.
The first segment was all old funk and soul. That shit makes us feel good. We heard breaks from Johnny Pate’s “Shaft In Africa” which makes up a portion of Hova’s “Show Me What You Got”. There was a healthy serving of James Brown throughout the whole show too. It truly was, just gem after gem and there’s an undeniable feeling of warmth hearing old vinyl that had been rocked for many people and years prior.
The next part of the performance brought us into the disco era. This pair of artists together, really do complement each other so damn well. One would and will call them sympatico for sure. Shadow even gave them their own stroke at one point saying, “That’s some synchronized DJing right there” and to their credit it sure was. They really do crush it on many levels.
Continuing on through this musical journey they took us to the South Bronx and it really was just that, not some cliché shit. We heard the likes of Kool Herc, Jazzy Jay, DJ Red Alert, Grandmaster Flash and Caz or his other moniker Casanova Fly of course. Throughout all of this they peppered in “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” which they claimed was the first record to use a breakbeat.
We then went into Bambaataa as a recording Artist where we apparently heard the world premier of “Looking For The Perfect Beat” demo record, which is definitely cool. Planet Rock made it into this set as well as many others. Afrika has no doubt made his mark in the music scene across the globe. He was there repping Zulu Nation hard and it was beautiful to see him come on stage at the end and thank the boys. Thank you all so much, please keep making music.
Photos by Bob Barry.