Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tommy Guerreo: Skate-Soul

Tonight I'm going to switch gears a little and showcase Tommy Guerreo. Guerreo was a professional skater that became a musician on the Mo' Wax label. He has released a few pretty decent albums with Mo Wax over the last couple years, and is pretty rugged with a guitar and bass. He also uses mad breakbeats in his joints, which I’m really feeling. Chill laid back grooves with nice arrangements.

Tommy G, ruled the skateboard scene in the 80's. He started out learning from his brother, and in the late 70's he started getting his weight up. On the side, he got into the punk scene and started a band called Free Beer. Between 1981 and 1983 Free Beer was playing with DOA, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Bad Religion, the Dickies, with other known acts, and releasing some tracks on compilation records. In 1984 Tommy signed a contract with Powell Peralta Skateboards, making Tommy the first professional street skater in the history of the sport. As skating got larger Tommy and his team, the legendary "Bones Brigade", with Steve Caballero, Tony Hawk, Rodney Mullen and a few other cats were sent around the world making videos and doing demos. By the age of 19 Tommy was making $70,000 skating. He actually was making like $500 a day to teach Christian Slater to skate for his classic movie Gleaming The Cube.

In 1990 Tommy dipped out of Powel Peralta skateboards and started his own biz: Real Skateboards. The company is still going strong today with over 30 employees and a bunch of different divisions. In 1995 Tommy decided to retire due to him beating the shit out of his body.

Tommy then decided to dabble in music again. Tommy has become an accomplished bassist and guitarist and released his first album "Loose Grooves and Bastard Blues" in 1998. His music is very jazzy and groove based and is comprised of mainly instrumental tracks. It has a melancholy vibe to it though. Sort of like a moody, blue kind of tip. Tommy basically plays, writes and arranges all of the instruments himself and captures it all on a 4-track. He integrates samples into it along with synths and live instrumentation to form deep laid back tracks. Im a big fan of the classic drum breaks that he uses for the foundations of a lot of his tracks. I have heard Issac Hayes breaks woven in there, to the more obscure joints.

He released, A Lil' Bit Of Something, on the Mo Wax imprint. This album was pretty decent. It sounded a lot like a Beastie Boys album, with the groovy jazz instrumentals. The tracks are short lil jams, but they are pretty tight. But some critics have said the album was "flat and self-indulgent". They criticized him due to him being a skater turned musician. But not to be discouraged he banged out a couple of more EP's. He did a few joints with DJ Gadget which were pretty tight. He then release his latest album with Mo' Wax like 2 years ago called, "Soul Food Taqueria". This album was all right. It wasn’t really as dope as his other works. Mainly instrumental once again, with some tracks featuring vocals with Lyrics Born and himself singing. The cuts have a Latin groove feel to them and have the more melancholy arrangements. This album seemed to have lacked something that his earlier joints had. Maybe its just the monotonous tracks that really don’t have a lot of movement. But nonetheless there is a few gems on it. Here are a few tracks from different stages in his career that I have been feeling. Enjoy.

In My Head