John Morrison | photo by D1L0 | photo courtesy of the artist
And now, this month’s virtual edition of Culture Cypher Radio
The world is on lockdown and Culture Cypher Radio will not be airing this month. Over the course of the past week or so, I’ve been in the house, hanging with my partner and our cat, working, watching TV and of course, listening to and sharing music.
Anticipating being locked down for weeks(?), I recently went on eBay and purchased an old school Venturer Karaoke dual cassette Karaoke machine. This is the exact same model machine that I used to make my own home recordings as a teenager and during this lockdown, and I plan on going back to that practice. When I wasn’t recording my own songs to tape, I was tuned in, taping other people’s songs from the radio.
In many ways, Culture Cypher Radio is intended to be like the classic mixtapes and radio shows that I grew up on in the 90s; DJ Ran and Colby Colb’s Radioactive on Power 99, Bahamadia’s B-Sides, Stretch & Bobbito and more. In addition to college radio stations like WPRB Princeton and WDKU, WXPN was also an essential part of formative musical experiences in my youth. I guess things have come full circle, because there are songs like Fela Kuti’s “Africa, Center Of The World” and Cornelius’ “Star Fruits Surf Rider” that I first heard on XPN, that I play on the radio and in DJ sets today.
Nostalgia isn’t for everyone and I get that. I don’t think that I live in the past, but I am actively and intentionally trying to remain connected with the sense of joy, openness and discovery that I felt in my childhood. Music is how I keep that connection alive. Whether I’m digging up old records, sampling them, making mixes, making tapes, playing live, programming a radio show or making a playlist, it’s all the same, all the same feelings, all the same intention.
So, we’re locked away from our families, friends, coworkers and comrades for an undetermined amount of time. This playlist is a snapshot of where my head and heart are at right now. Some of the songs are old favorites (The Nonce’s underground rap classic “Mixtapes”) and some are from artists that dropped new albums this month (Jay Electronica and Orion Sun). The playlist ends with Sun Ra’s “Discipline 99”, a tribute to Danny Ray Thompson and Leroy Butler, two of Sun Ra’s great friends and disciples that passed away this week. I don’t know how all of this will last or when we’ll get the ok to go back out in the world, but until then, I’m going to go back to what I know, making mixes, dubbing tapes and trying my best to stay connected.
In addition to hosting Culture Cypher Radio, John Morrison is the co-host of the Serious Rap Shit Podcast (listen here), and just released his latest project, a “remixtape” called Memorabilia (grab a download here).