When the Beastie Boys proclaimed, “This one goes out to my man the Groove Merchant/ Comin' through with the beats that I've been searchin',” on 1992's Check Your Head, they solidified the Lower Haight record store's rightful place in hip hop history. Now it's over 10 years later, and the shop is still a destination for record collectors and producers seeking that perfect sample. In the spirit of Groove Merchant and its excellent selection of soul, jazz, disco, Latin, and hip hop, owner “Cool” Chris Veltri and his employee/friend Vinnie Esparza — two of the most venerable record collectors and beatheads on the West Coast — recently started the Dis-Joint label to bring their own tastes to vinyl. Dis-Jointed is their first compilation, a mix of exclusive tracks and hard-to-find classics that spans four decades and countless genres.
The album opens with a luscious dub-reggae tune by renowned vocalist Horace Andy, a track from 1982 that showcases the singer's legendary talents. Local producers Dub Diablo and Exotic Pets (aka Cool Chris and DJ Romanski) bring dance-floor funkiness to instrumental hip hop with “The Shape Up” and “Bush Skank,” respectively. Old-school hip hop jams such as Solid C, Bobby D, & Kool Drop's “Wack Rap” are unearthed and neo-disco bangers like Stranger & Shortbus' “Rush On” and Deep Fuzz's “Kinky Busstop” bring a frenzy of rhythmic percussion to the ears. The album ends on a mellow note with two remarkable songs: an eponymous, soothing Latin-soul piece from 1971 by Human Race, and a jazzy, downtempo track from 1997 by Flavornaughts called “New Dawn.”
Rarely does a compilation come along so packed to the brim with greatness, but Dis-Jointed is just that — not a filler track in the bunch. Esparza and Veltri manage to orchestrate an album that truly captures the “soul” of Groove Merchant.