Ecliptic Sight Interview: Werner Von Wallenrod

Werner Von Wallenrod aka John W. McKelvey aka Mr. Hip-Hop Encyclopedia has helped many fill holes in their record collection since 1997 with his “Humble Little Hip-Hop Site”. Now continuing that tradition with his “Humble Little Hip-Hop Blog”, he is set to educate the masses with his video post and overall knowledge of hip-hop. Come now as pick the brain of Werner Von Wallenrod.

ESP: Thank you for taking your time to answer my questions.

WVW: Thanks for your interest!

ESP: Who is Werner Von Wallenrod and where did the name come from?

WVW: It’s an obscure reference from a very bad video game. Despite how much it sucked, my friend and I decided we were determined to beat it, and we then spent way too much time playing it.
I think I chose it for the same reason Flavor Flav picked his rap name – he wanted a name where he wasn’t going to find out six months later that another guy in another city had the same name (i.e. all the MCs and DJs named Dre). And so far, it hasn’t happened. 😉

ESP: When did you start Werner Von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip Hop Site?

WVW: In early 1997. I actually had an earlier taste of running a website (of a sort haha)… I don’t know if anybody remembers X-Band anymore? Pre-internet, it was a cartridge that plugged into your Sega Genesis with phone wire coming out of it. Essentially, it let X-Box players play a few 2-player games (primarily Mortal Kombat 2 and Madden) against each other over the phone lines. I used to write a page that had upcoming release dates and reviews of each week’s hip-hop releases, and I actually started to get readers and people e-mailing questions and stuff, if you can believe it.
Then, my family got on the internet with America Online (back when you used to pay by the minute – scary!), and I decided to teach myself a little HTML and make a members page building on that X-Band page.

ESP: Who was the first discography on your site?

WVW: Ultramagnetic MC’s and Natural Elements. Back in the early days, a friend had found a discography of Ultramagnetic on the internet. We printed it out and I carried it around everywhere. It was really incomplete, though – both in the sense that it didn’t include any of their guest spots or solo/ side projects, and that it was missing a lot of their key, classic 12″‘s and stuff. So I decided to make my own, much more completist version, that even went on to include Tim Dog, Godfather Don and Raw Breed. And I did NE because I had all of their records, and their was no discography of them anywhere. I started adding more pretty, then, pretty much right away.

ESP: On your site it says, “…Or, maybe I just like them. I’ll tell ya one thing, though: they ain’t payin’ me for it. Except L’Trimm. They made me rich…”, what does that mean?

WVW: That was a silly joke. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where L’Trimm paid somebody millions of dollars to make an AOL members’ page about their music?
In honor of this interview, I made today’s blog entry about a L’Trimm record.

ESP: Where did your love for hip-hop come from?

WVW: Ever since I was a young kid. I remember my first tape I ever owned and loved was a Weird Al tape. I was kind of searching for a musical genre, I guess… because all fellow first graders would’ve been listening to, like, early Bon Jovi, which I could never get into. I had a few rock and roll tapes as a kid (I remember Poison and Def Leopard), because that’s where I grew up; but as soon as I found hip-hop, that was it.
Back then, I used to have a hard time because in music stores, hip-hop and other genres (R&B, dance, rap etc) were all mixed into one big “Soul” or “Black Music” section. Can you believe, as late as the early 80’s, modern music stores in New Jersey still had a “black music” section? So anyway, (bear in mind, little kids aren’t all that smart yet), I used to often be looking at tapes trying to figure out, “is this rap?” Those were the days.

ESP: What is your current stance on the state of hip-hop in general?

WVW: The only new stuff I get into these days is pretty obscure, indie stuff… except for the recent revival of old school reissues which is pretty awesome, ey? I could accept that I’m just a crotchety old man (32!) who insists that the old ways were better, except I do enjoy new stuff by some innovative new artists (Buck 65 is a favorite), so that must just mean the new stuff sucks. In an industry driven by ringtones, though, I don’t think that’s so hard to accept.

ESP: Werner Von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog has you showing off extensive knowledge of everything hip-hop. How does this help promote your ideas?

WVW: At one point in my life, it got me a flashy job writing and editing at The Source. These days, though, my life and business (I run a bookstore in a neighborhood where people would say, “Yuck, why are you playing rap music? Please turn that off”) are pretty separated from the hip-hop scene. It would be nice if those two ends could meet again someday, but who knows?

Plus, I’ve never been that plugged into the scene, per se… just the music. As a kid, I remember seeing kids who listened to heavy metal and thinking, “just because you listen to the music, why do you have to have long hair and wear t-shirts with skulls on them?” Actually, I kinda liked the skull shirts; those were cool. I remember as a little kid wearing a Ted Nugent cap, and teenagers would be like, “whoa; 5 year-old into Nugent! Way cool!” But I didn’t know who he was; I just liked the logo with the skulls.

So anyway, as I got older listening to hip-hop, it just wasn’t my nature to suddenly roll up one sweatpants leg and carve little niches into my eyebrow just to follow a trend. I don’t go to shows or hip-hop clubs… I just support the music. In fact, when I ran The Source website, I used to sneak the motto, “The website of the magazine of hip-hop music, culture and politics… without all that culture and politics crap” into the mix wherever I could. Because I used to buy the magazine to get the latest scoop about MC Shan, not to read some budding music journalist’s under-informed opinions on the latest presidential election.

ESP: What does the future hold for Werner Von Wallenrod?

WVW: I’m still working on indie, creative projects… and I always will as long as I can. If that ever will pay any bills, who knows, but I hope so. My other interest is film, which I’m into and take as seriously as hip-hop. Like I said in the last question… those interests now are pretty separate; but maybe they’ll all come together. Or not. I enjoy them both, I don’t need them combined.

ESP: In closing is there anything that you would like people to know about?

WVW: For those who used to check my site but haven’t heard yet, I started a blog about a year ago at: Werner von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog. It’s updated regularly, and I try my ass off to be fun and informative. I hope its good, but that’s for you guys to decide – it’s definitely not one of those blogs that has the same content as about fifty others, though. 8)

And I’d also like you and your readers to know I appreciate your interest and I hope you like my work!

Werner Von Wallenrod

D3: Dilla Dependence Day

J Dilla Forever
Click image to enlarge image.

Now it is time to tell my Dilla story in memory of him on February 10th. I discovered Jay Dee aka J Dilla as some others might have walking into Fat Beats in the late ’90s and hearing:
“Hey, hey, hey, h-hey, hey
What you say, get this money
If they say what you gon do today, just say
Hey I wanna get paid
Pay day, pay day, pay day”.
With this hypnotic hook and a beat that caughted your soul it was apparent I was hearing something new. So I asked the DJ/Store clerk who it was and he said that’s Slum Village. I nodded my head and headed over to the vinyl to find this Slum Village musical master piece. I found a 12″ vinyl named, “Slum Village – Get Dis Money (off of the Office Space soundtrack)” and wonder if this is the right one and take it to the counter. With a quick glance at the turntables I see I selected the right one. With the record in hand I take it home and play out the vinyl until I know every intricate loop.

So my mouth was now watering for a Slum Village full LP. In the summer of 2000 my prayer was answer with Fantastic Vol. 2 on GoodVibe Recordings. With people from Q-Tip to D’Angelo to the Roots saying they were the ones to watch I knew I was making a great purchase. I never knew I how much I would I would love this album. J-88 was “The Best Kept Secret” because I did even realize it was Slum Village until a couple of listens. With the next album not featuring Dilla I skipped it anticipating Dilla’s new solo career. It came from the most infectious song called, “B.B.E. (Big Booty Express)” off the album: “Welcome To Detroit”.

I thought to myself what could Dilla do now to continue his excellency? Well he would team up with one of my favorites emcee/producers Madlib to create one of the brilliant collaborations in the history with Jaylib – “Champion Sound”. It truly was a champion sound that every fan of either one could cross reference to find the perfect album. Three years later and now signed to Stones Throw, J Dilla would deliver his most illustrious musical adventure with an instrumental album simply called “Donuts“. Released on his birthday it would solidify his production values but it would be short lived with his death three days later. J Dilla will be called ahead of his time, one of the best on the boards but I will always remember his infectious beat that caught my ear on the summer day from a turntable and speakers.

For other Dilla inspired stories click here.

Happy Dilla Year

Happy New Year! 2007 was a great year for Ecliptic Sight and 2008 looks like it will be ramping up to be another good one. Why is the post titled: “Happy Dilla Year”? Well 2007 was the year of J Dilla aka Jay Dee aka James Yancey (R.I.P.) and will continue to be his century if the collaborations, mixtapes and CDs keep popping up. Here’s the run down in case you missed it:

J Dilla – Ruff Draft (2007)
Turn it up and get Wild!

Dilla Month (2007)

February “Dilla Month” and Ruff Draft Parties in March. Thanks to Jati, Nicole, Joe, and Rhettmatic for photos.

The Roots – Please Don’t Go co-produced by J Dilla (single) (2007)
Via the Boards

DJ Soul & Okayplayer present “Assorted Donuts” (A Tribute To J Dilla) (tracked verison) (2007)

1. Intro
2. Talib Kweli “Intro”
3. Notorious BIG “Kick In The Door” (J Dilla Remix)
4. Nas “Hope”
5. Ghostface “Whip Me With A Strap”
6. Jay-Z & The Escorts “Song Cry”
7. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “A Legend In It’s Own Time”
8. Jadakiss “Why”
9. Redman “The Saga Continues”
10. Big L “Put It On”
11. M.O.P. “Pounds Up”
12. Black Thought & Peedi Crack “Freestyle”
13. Black Thought Interlude
14. Kanye West Interlude
15. Busta Rhymes, Rah Digga & Young Zee “Freestyle”
16. Mos Def “Miss Fat Booty”
17. Ghostface “Beauty Jackson”
18. Notorious B.I.G. “Things Done Changed”
19. The Roots “Can’t Stop This”
20. J Dilla “Won’t Do”

DJ Soul & Mad Decent Radio (2007)

Right after I dropped Assorted Donuts, the homie Diplo (from Hollertronix) asked me to do a Dilla mix for Mad Decent Radio… Well, it’s finally posted and the (copy and paste) links are below. Enjoy!
1. Pete Rock & Marley Marl “Intro”
2. J Dilla “Diamonds” (produced by Knottz)
3. Chris Rock “Interlude”
4. The Impressions “We Must Be In Love”
5. Pharoahe Monch “Love” (produced by Dilla)
6. Billy Paul “Let The Dollar Circulate”
7. Spacek “Dolla” (produced by Dilla)
8. J Dilla “Nothing Like This”
9. J Dilla & Dwele “Think Twice”
10. Frank N Dank “Where The Parties At?” [Inst] Original Mix

Mick Boogie and Busta Rhymes – Dillagence (Free Edition) (2007)
Mick Boogie and Busta Rhymes – Dillagence (Collector’s Edition)

A portion of proceeds from “Dillagence” will be donated to the “J. Dilla Foundation”

J Dilla – Jay Love Japan (2008)
J Dilla - Jay Love Japan
The real story of why Jay Love Japan has been delayed

That is not every J Dilla thing to happen last year or coming up but it is good summary for some of the things you may have missed. Watch for the next podcast coming this month called the Future Edition and have a great year.

Haunting Hip-Hop Headlines

Boo! Did I scare you? Well if you couldn’t tell by my Monday post, I am back from my hiatus and back in full swing. In honor of All Hallows Eve I have scoured the web to bring you some haunting hip-hop headlines.

Aesop Rock kicks it off with a gruesome video for his song Coffee:

Powered by AOL Video

Next Werner von Wallenrod’s Humble, Little Hip-Hop Blog gaves us a “A Record for Halloween”. In which he reviews Lovebug Starski’s song Amityville for your spooky turntables to spin. Favorite line from the review:

Anyway, this is a “monster mash”-style record, in the tradition of Whodini’s classic “Haunted House of Rock.” That’s of course the unfuckwithable original Halloween hip-hop record, but this one is really great, too.

If you missed the recent Ecliptic Sight Podcast then you are missing out on the devilishly inspired music that dwells in the ESP: Disturbing Edition.

October Hiatus For Ecliptic Sight

Off on another secret mission for the government but to make up for it I will be delivering two podcasts almost back to back. The first was another blend instrumental by the inconceivable DJ headpiece747 called the Hammered Edition. The second will be the Disturbing Edition, that will haunt your souls for October. Join us in November for the next yet to be named podcast and more news.

Free Legal Games

Continuing in my free legal series it now goes in to the video game sector. With a tip from Luthien over at the CAG forums, Fileplanet is now offering free games with advertising support. You will need a free account to download the games with Fileplanet and then at Ubisoft to play. The games that are offered are:

What else do I need to say its free, go download now before they change their minds.