Digging Deep: Rich Medina
Rich Medina is one of those truly unique individuals in the world of music. A cooler than cool, deep and softly spoken man from New Jersey, he’s the kind of guy you’d probably have hated at school for being notably good at just about everything, without ever looking like he’s even breaking a sweat. Master of all, Jack of none kinda thing.
But in reality, as a DJ, producer, poet, promoter, Ivy League alumni and ex-athlete, it’s hard to define Rich as anything but a fascinating personality and deeply talented musician. Based largely out of the East Coast, Rich cut his teeth first and foremost as a DJ and avid record collector in his hometown of Lakewood, NJ before later moving to Philadelphia, and it’s this guise which he associates most closely with to this day over thirty years later.
Catch him live and Rich can be spinning anything from funk and soul crooners, to hip hop, house and disco classics, all the way down to original afrobeat bangers and breaks edits. He’s one of vinyl’s biggest advocates and his collection clocks in at a monumental 30,000 records strong (last count was in 2012…), which makes him a perfect candidate for this feature.
You might also know Rich from his spoken word work alongside fellow Philly polymath King Britt, hip hop crew Jedi Mind Tricks or UK-Afro-Brazilian band Da Lata. Or maybe you’ll know his longstanding and pioneering afrobeat night JUMP N FUNK, ostensibly the first in North America and certainly in New York. Or perhaps you’ve clocked him diffusing his own creative experience on the global stage when TED came to town.
He’s got a frankly maniacal following in some parts and in relation to the UK crowd that’s meant he’s become a regular at Southport Weekender and Croatian subsidiary Suncébeat, yet he remains strangely unheard of to many outside those tight-knit circles. With every set he plays though, there are always new converts.
We met Rich briefly at this year’s edition of Suncébeat in Tisno, shortly before he blew up the Disco Nights boat party dropping everything from First Choice to Loose Joints, and his encyclopaedic knowledge and deep passion for music of funkier orientation is self-evident. So it’s with great pleasure that we present this Digging Deep from a true creative and eternal acolyte to the music, as he picks seven rare cuts from the depths of his colossal collection and we see a second appearance of that incredible C.K. Mann highlife record!
Ned Doheny – Hard Candy LP. Columbia, 1976
Incredible blue eyed soul LP in the spirit of Bobby Caldwell and Rare Earth’s funkier LPs. Get It Up For Love is reason enough to have this grail piece, but the entire LP is a beautiful mesh of soulful dance and rare groove bangers.
Nashville Rhythm Section – I Can’t Go For That. Koala Records, 1981
Caught this record off a dealer friend about 9 years ago. Had no idea what it was until he told me the price. After changing my underwear from shitting on myself, I copped it and have been rocking people’s world with it ever since. Incredible bluegrass rhythm section cover of a Hall & Oates smash hit.
Fela Kuti – Fogo Fogo. Nigeria EMI/HMV 7″, 1978
Burgundy closed hole 45 heater from The Black President himself, just following the Koola Lobitos stage of his career. Fucking lava. That is all.
East Of Undergound LP – 1971
Grail business. Funk and soul gold by The Black Seeds and Soul Trek, two funk bands made up of Army soldiers stationed in Germany near the end of the Vietnam War. This record has a special place in my heart because my father was an Army man who sang and performed. Recently remastered and reissued by Waxpoetics Records and Now Again, for their Hell Below box set, this LP is simply one of my favorite OG copies ever.
Stay together – Soul Excitement – Pink Dolphin 7″
OG copy of a banger that Kenny Dope remastered for his phenomenal Kay Dee label. Initially, I almost passed on it because of the comedy/children’s song intro. Praise God for patience in digging. Didn’t pay much for it when I got it in the late 90’s, but when Kenny Dope remastered it, the value went through the fucking roof. Lucky me.
Jayme Marques – Brazil Pop LP. RCA Camden
Super tough to find for under $200 these days. Brilliant Brazillian guitarist Jayme Marques covers the seminal Brazil classic Berimbau, and lays down a fistful of Brazillian power on this amazing LP. Marques was a one time member of Orchestre Orfeu, leaving Brazil in 1960 to settle down in Portigal and live out his life there,15 years prior to dropping this gem on the world.
CK Mann & His Carousel 7 – Funk Highlife LP. Essiebons Editions LTD Records, 1975.
With an amazing band of Afro soul masters like Ebo Taylor and Kofi “Papa” Yankson, this Ghanaian banger is Afrobeat gold. Praise God I caught it when and where I did for less than $50 in damn near mint condition. Funky Highlife, the albums title cut, is one of the strongest afrobeat dance records ever made in my opinion. The combination of Ghana’s coastal Isoode music with western funk was a half step off the path of Fela and Tony Allen’s Afrobeat rhythm and sound, but definitely up the same street. Mann is also a well respected philanthropist, doing a great deal of impoverished and needy children and families in Ghana to this day.