Steinski To Release What Does It All Mean

“Following “The Payoff Mix,” also known as “Lesson 1,” Steinski and Double Dee (as they dubbed themselves) assembled their second piece, “Lesson 2 (James Brown Mix)” – the second in their highly influential trio of hip-hop history lessons. A modern listener will recognize most of the samples in this one, with everyone from Pop Will Eat Itself to Missy Elliott copping them in the years since. “Lesson 3 (History of Hip Hop),” from 1986, rolls up jazz, funk, films and sound effects into a rowdy, insane collection of beats and chopped-up songs.


These three mixes came to be known as “The Lessons,” and have been inspirational to countless bands since then, though the songs themselves have remained somewhat shadowy in great part due to the legal concerns. With literally a hundred samples or more each, getting clearance is probably impossible. These works of genius are living examples of the problems with existing copyright laws, and, since their release, have been more or less impossible to purchase. But that hasn’t stopped them from spreading and inspiring artists like Coldcut, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist.” – Dusted Magazine (LINK)


 Illegal Art will celebrate the release of the first and only definitive Steinski collection, What Does It All Mean?: 1983-2006 Retrospective.  14 retrospective tracks on disc one, and the 28-track “Nothing To Fear” on disc two.  The second disc (along with “The Lessons”) is perhaps the most obvious precursor to Girl Talk’s Night Ripper and was described by Salon as “The closest thing to a [mashup] masterpiece the genre has yet produced.” Packaging includes a 20-page booklet featuring liner notes by Hua Hsu (The Wire, New York Times, Village Voice, Slate, etc.) and Steinski himself.


Steinski’s What Does It All Mean?: 1983-2006 Retrospective will be streaming in its entirety this week at AOL Spinner (LINK). Paper Thin Walls will also be streaming the retrospective, and will offer a special presentation as Paper Thin Walls’ own Christopher Weingarten has had the opportunity to sit down with the mash-up legend himself for an interview and track-by-track overview of the release at Paper Thin Walls’ “Listening Party.” Get familiar with a legend and listen to the album HERE.


For your listening pleasure, we are pleased to make available for free download all three of “The Lessons.” “The Lessons,” as Dusted notes, are some of Steinski’s most infamous works which quickly became DJ landmarks and are some of the most valued bootlegs in rap history. Watch Steinski perform “The Lessons” live with Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow HERE. What other rare Steinski mash-ups can you find in the Illegal Art release? “I’m Wild About That Thing,” was originally released for a Coldcut record made all about sleazy sex, which Steinski says came to light since “I had so many records about sex, if I didn’t do a sampling record about sex, I couldn’t justify having them.” “It’s Up to You,” is a track about the first Gulf War and the first disc ends with the haunting “Number Three on Flight Eleven,” in memoriam of 9/11. The second disc is the 28-track “Nothing To Fear,” which was originally produced in 2002 for Coldcut’s “Solid Steel” show on the BBC. Stream the retrospective in its entirety HERE.


Steinski’s retrospective has been getting the attention and respect it deserves, with a review by the New York Times, and forthcoming reviews in XLR8R, Prefix, Blender, Mojo, PopMatters, Spin, Fader, and special features in Remix Magazine’s “Respect” piece and Vibe Magazine’s “Revolutions” column in the July issue. You can personally show some love by visiting Steinski’s blog (LINK) where you can read some of his personal political missives, stay alert on future shows, and download new and old tracks in the MP3 section.




Earplug:  How does it feel to finally have all your material collected in one place?


Steinski:  I’m glad it’s coming out. The Ultimate Lessons [a previously released bootleg] used brilliant marketing. The label told people they were paying us and they weren’t. If I ever meet the people responsible, I’ll push them in front of a bus. This Illegal Art release is a chance for me to get my stuff out there with real liner notes and artwork. I still have only received that $50 check for winning the lessons contest. But what has happened since is a lot more important than money. Not everyone gets a chance to do something or make something that other people respect. Read the full Earplug interview HERE.


“…the best hip-hop retrospective of the year so far.” – All Music Guide (LINK)


“Given that this release is from Illegal Art and the hundreds of samples within have likely not been fully cleared, anyone interested should make haste to locate a copy while you still can. It’s rare that historically important recordings are also essential listening, but this is such a case.” – Dusted


“The Steinski myth has grown in the darkness of bootlegs, but this long-overdue release proves that the reality more than lives up to the legend. Grade: A” – The Onion (LINK)

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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