Today we drop “Take Me To Your Leisure” an album featuring the talents of many musicians in our crew. The album is multi-genre: there’s downtempo, Future Bass, House, Drum & Bass, Old School Hip Hop, and more. Below is the story of how it came to be, and of course the music for you to listen to!
Two summers ago, me and the love of my life moved into the most amazing space I’ve ever had the privilege to live in – a big, beautiful, spacious loft, with enough space for a comfortable and well-equipped studio. I was inspired - all I wanted to do was make music.
At the time, I was strictly making hip-hop beats. However, as people started coming by to visit us, friends that were newer to me that I’d met through my other half began to make more of an impression, piquing my interest and pushing me to open my horizons. I heard some really interesting stuff; I started to experiment with some new sounds.
After one particularly special night, I remember going to Gary Wheat, all hyped up: “Let’s do this Leisure Lab thing for real. We have some hit songs on our hands.”
Gary, always gracious, was all in for stepping it up, even though Leisure Lab was always his creation. We started weekly meetings - Gary, Nate, Steve and me - and began to plot our expected world domination.
At the time, I must confess, my hubris was at an all-time high- I kept working on individual tunes with these friends that weren’t quite complete, not really thinking about it, while at the same time releasing the harder, ego-driven stuff, straight hip-hop.
After a year of being humbled, I realized the record I needed to put my all into was a Leisure Lab album, to finally finish all those special tracks I’d made with the input of friends - and thus Take Me to Your Leisure was born.
Here’s the first video from the album, with visuals by Steven McCorry, and the production by myself SMD:
This song is about getting the keys to a spaceship that you can fly top down through the cosmos
Following is a track by track breakdown of how each song was born and what it means:
1. Raw Imagination – We decided to start the album off with this song because it exemplifies what the Leisure Lab is all about – imagination, wonder, creativity. Many have told me the drop on the song is straight-up blissful. Everybody can get down to this one.
2. Let’s Get Naked- One of my best friends, Raelyn, has been asking me to make a House tune a long, long time. This fall, I finally started making this ditty. It’s strictly for the grown and sexy.
3. Snakes in a Well- I started by finding the string sample you hear, then created the opening drums using a technique I hadn’t tried before. Nate helped me clean up the sub hits, Gary helped me name it.
4. Convertible Spaceship- This chill banger is one of my favorite productions ever! Got to use so many techniques I’ve never tried before. When deciding on the name Nate and I were discussing how it reminded us of driving in a car, top down, nothing but green lights ahead, late night – like a stolen hovercraft.
5. Leisure Anthem feat. Glass Crane, Lady Leisure, and SMD- This is the anthem for the festival crew. It’s for all our friends. It was the result of a late-night impromptu jam sesh on a weeknight – Glass Crane was in town from Orlando to lay down some lively vocals, and Lady Leisure sort of magically appeared, dropping a verse using her favorite throwback early-90s hip-hop flavor.
6. Flavortown feat. SMD- I made this DnB track using a skeleton of a kick and snare pattern provided to me by our good friend the incomparable DJ and producer Hoogs. The first verse was written, but the second verse is actually a total freestyle inspired by all of the flavor surrounding me with the Leisure Lab. Finding and adding those Guy Fieri clips had us in hysterics.
7. Krazy feat. Wesley Claire- This song is the one that made me think I might be able to do something special with music. A magical voice like Wesley’s will do that to you – no wonder she won the Rochester Lovin’ Cup Idol Competition! This song got recorded during our homie’s birthday party, if you can believe it! We sat in my studio, door closed while the party continued in full swing; Wesley wrote most of the lyrics. After letting the party hear what we came up with, people just sort of had that look in their eye – that look when you know you’ve got something special. Nate added his keyboard solo to really take it to the next level, and the rest is history.
8. It’s MaParty feat. Michele Tucker- This is a chopped and screwed version of Leslie Gore’s classic “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To”. I called Michele in, played her the beat, and – two homies as our witness - she recorded the vocals in one take, completely freestyle, with about 5 minutes’ notice. After a year of frequent loft parties and simultaneously taking care of her best friend and companion of 20 years who was sick, our little furry friend Vita, it was fitting that she’d sing on this track – it’s the kinda beat you might just cry to. The purr you hear at the end is Vita’s, recorded when she was still alive and with us. We refer to her purr as “the happiness frequency”. This album is dedicated to her.
9. Freedom feat. Greg Howze and Michele Tucker- Michele’s longtime friend and renowned Buffalo house DJ, Greg Howze (aka Twist) was out visiting us in Rochester. He brought a new toy he had custom made for him - a hand drum. He was playing around in the studio with it, it looks like a UFO. I started recording him and creating a beat around it. Michele suggested adding classical Japanese noh or kabuki vocals and sang a few notes to give an example – and I asked her to keep singing. The end result is a fusion of something very primal and organic combined with a banging modern beat – kind of a worldbeat track. The samples are from an old musical called Purlie, and I felt they were suited for this track… it’s meant to represent all people, the freedom we all seek and deserve.
10. Smoke feat. Wynton Rice and SMD- Wynton is my studio homie, and he’s also a professional dancer with Rochester’s acclaimed Garth Fagan dance company. (Garth Fagan choreographed The Lion King on Broadway – he’s kind of a big deal!). Turns out that Wynton’s not only a dancer, he’s also a talented vocalist! We wrote the lyrics together on this one – it reflects on the days when you would go to your car with your friends, roll up a blunt, and listen to your favorite tunes. Hopefully you’ll ride around and smoke one to this tune.
What is this album trying to say? It’s what you make of it. Like it says in the first song… “come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…”. I can say with certainty that there is a lot of love that went into this album, along with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. So many of my friends collaborated on this and that makes it so special. I hope you love it. If you do it would mean a lot if you bought it on iTunes.