There’s not much that Ben Baller hasn’t or can’t do. Having known him as a casual acquaintance for years, the one thing I’ve learned is that you have to respect his hustle. From being a DJ at the hottest clubs across the country, working in the music and entertainment industries alongside notable names like Dr. Dre, Dame Dash and Maroon 5, having a hand in clothing labels and, now, running Icee Fresh & Co., creating extravagant custom jewelry for a “who’s who” list of distinguished clientele. And on a average Tuesday, you can prolly catch him hanging with @LilDuval at a Clippers game, waiting on Rasual Butler and Baron Davis to finish playing. You know, basic shit.
For our relationship, I originally met K-Town as one of the members of the Air Mack$ Crew (himself, DJ Homicide and DJ AM RIP) and knew him as a guy with one of the most extensive sneaker collections around. More than anything, he would always lend info, shared his connections and, if you asked, he’d help you get your hands on whatever material item you desired (at your expense of course). Oh yeah, he’s got a car fetish too (check his profile in DUB). And, to think, it all started from the ground up for a kid in L.A.’s Koreatown.
But above all, Ben is one of those guys who lived the music. Ask him a question and prepare for him to spin a personal tale that will leave your eyes and mind open. So, he was an obvious choice to see what the hell he’s listening to.
Nipsey Hussle – “The Hussle Way”
This shit just reminds me of that OG gangsta rap but still poetic to where cats have a message and are actually saying something, telling a story just like Cube would in the late ’80s etc. Also, c’mon he’s a Slauson boy, repping where my store is.
Jay Electronica – “Exhibit C”
Shit almost makes me think Hip-Hop could be back. I haven’t heard anything like this since Reflection Eternal in 2000. Jay spittin’ crazy “I’ll make the devil get on his knees and say the OUR FATHER” What?!?
Cam’ron – “Get’em Girls”
Purple Haze is one of my favorite albums of all time. This is saying something, when I’m putting this up there next to the Chronic, Amerikka’s Most Wanted, Ready to Die and The Infamous. Cam just motivates me to get money, get bitches and keep computers ‘puting. And most of the early Dipset shit relates to me, DJ AM, Homicide and our AMC heydays.
LMFAO – “Lil Hipster Girl”
Don’t need to say shit else but, “I gots to show some to AM when he’s in the place, I say what up, he says ‘AWWW YEAH’ and I seen her face.” This song fucks my life up and reminds me my dude was part of not just Hip-Hop, but hipster to rocker, all over the spot.
Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”
It’s been raining all night and Billy Corgan is a genius. It’s been a minute since I’ve heard some melodic whiney white boy over hard guitars. This was when accepted Alternative at the same time Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana were killin’ shit.
Sweet Sable – “Old Time’s Sake”
One of the first true R&B songs I played inside a nightclub that wasn’t “soul” like an OG classic. I was DJing at a spot that Dr. Dre frequented and I was serviced with this record. It was featured on the Above the Rim soundtrack, which is a Death Row classic, but the label that actually put this record out was dumb small (they had two employees). Also, they used the Eddie Kendricks sample from “Intimate Friends,” one of my favorite classic soul records.
Sunshine Anderson – “Heard It All Before”
When Mike City produced this track, this shit went so hard that Jadakiss and mad other cats were jumping on this record’s instrumental and doing unofficial remixes, which happens all the time now, but didn’t 9 years ago. The track also reminded me of my Lexus that had a $25,000 system and the president of SoulLife Records handed me the CD before I even got the wax and was like “do you hear all the underlying shit on this beat?” Damn.
Led Zeppelin – “D’yer Maker”
If you don’t have some Led Zeppelin in your iTunes, you’re fucked up in the head.
Dr. Dre – “Let Me Ride” (Extended 11 Min. Mix)
I remember getting my hands on a rare promo of this on a CD single and was a B-side to only the radio promo Death Row wax and was like “Damn, this dude T-Ren was nasty on that guitar.” Later, I remember Dre always saying he wanted an all Black rock band. Shit was before it’s time. It also mixed in with the true Parliament Funkadelic sound. Classic.
H.I.T.T.M.A.N. Feat. Dr. Dre – “Blaow”
Just one of my 40+ unreleased Dr. Dre tracks that didn’t make the 2001 album, but I keep it because it’s still so relevant in rap. I was also HITTMAN’S DJ back then. It was just in my random mix today
Smokey Robinson – “You Really Got A Hold On Me”
I fux with Smokey Robinson and mad classic oldies from the Delfonics era, etc. I was just with a honey dip too, but Smokey is a deep cat, peep him spit some shit about his life coming up, crazy.
Bob Marley – “Could You Be Loved”
Bottom line, I always have Bob in rotation someway or another, I wish SoundScan was more official, because there is no way you can’t tell me Legend didn’t sell 25+ million copies. To me, top three G.O.A.T. in music.
Sublime – “Badfish”
At the end of the day, there will be an autobiography on Brad’s life. He was the epitome of what this ska mixed with rock funk was all about, plus he was reppin’ LBC at the same time Snoop was killin’ it with Doggystyle. I remember dropping off Bad Azz from the LBC crew and extended Dogg Pound family at Brad’s Studio and Bad would tell me stories about Brad just smoking weed and playing his guitar. I was fascinated by dude’s life because he was ahead of his time. No Doubt was playing keggers around the same time and there’s no doubt if Brad was still alive, they would’ve had a diamond album.
That’s what was in rotation in my iPod right now. Shit changes and jumps from The Cure to The Smiths to Above The Law to Cameo and I wish I had some Marvin bumping right now, but this was what was playing on my drive home.
Be sure to check out previous installments in the “What’s On My iPod” series to see who’s listening to what.