The Classics – Series 2: The Connoisseur

One of the new cultural projects I’ve developed for this edition of The Classics is something I’m calling the Connoisseur Profile.

In my attempt to provide more insight into the culture I wanted to highlight a member of contemporary music culture that has a thorough understanding of the genre.  This person is Nick “tha 1da” Hernandez.

Nick’s career has led him to being the Record Librarian for 5 years at UMD, where he was responsible for 30,000 records; a producer – having created tracks for notable MCs such as W. Ellington Felton, yU (Diamond District), and Kenn Starr; and a DJ and record collector – who has amassed somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000 vinyl soul records ALONE.

Check it out:

What’s your name and where are you from?

Nick “tha 1da” Hernandez, born and raised in West Baltimore, residing in DC.

Musically, what do you do?

I’m a producer/emcee/$1 Bin Record Collector.

What’s your definition of soul?

Soul is the true expression of yourself – you bare all whether it’s musically or spiritually.

How did you discover soul music?

Came out the womb with a halfro & 45 adapter!   Seriously, my Dad was a guitarist once signed to RCA- so me and my siblings grew up in a strong musical background.

Describe the impact that soul music has had on your life?

The older I got I realized we’re all connected as individuals  and when you hear certain songs they’re expessing the same feelings and situations we experience everyday.

What are some of your fondest memories that involve soul music?

Listening to Bobby Womack, Roy Ayers, and  Teddy Pendergrass (via my parents) on the way to school (great education for 7yr olds!).

What do you think it was about the 70’s that led to soul music exploding the way it did?

Women’s Liberation, Racial Issues, and war are some of the issues which led to soul music’s vast following.  People were either voicing their opinions or trying to forget thier struggles – even party culture came along with disco-lol .

Culturally (fashion, food, sports, even attitude), the term “soul” seemed to have an impact and or became integrated into the fabric of American culture (even worldwide) during that era.  The same parallels can be drawn between hip-hop culture and the mid to late 90’s (and perhaps beyond).  Do you agree?  If
so, why do you think that is?

The current generation of any decade determines the popular culture.  We see it present & relevant today in hip-hop similar to the 70s.

What do you think it is about soul music that draws people in?

The connection that we’re everyday people that fall in love, get hurt, angry, and of course the MUSIC!

Why do you think soul music and rap music work so well together?

Soul Music definitely helped birthed hip-hop.  This is evident through the art of sampling.  Both genres spoke of revolution (against various topics) & some soul music all stars were the original emcees (Gil Scott Heron, Millie Jackson, et al).

What are some of your favorite records, from that era, whose samples were used in classic rap music tracks?

Dynasty – Adventures in the Land of Music sampled by Camp Lo via Luchini,
Jones Girls – Nights Over Egypt, Willie Hutch – Foxy Brown OST
Baltimore’s own The Whatnauts – I’ll Erase Away your Pain
Walk On By covered by all artists – Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach, Issac Hayes.

I read that you used to work for the University of Maryland College Park’s Library handling their vinyl archive.  What exactly was the gig and what was that experience like?

I was the Record Librarian for UMD for Five Years (2001-06).  My day to day operations included cleaning, organizing, and archiving over 30,000LPS, developed a system before I left to help preserve the collection digitally.  I’ve done homework, papers, beats, & just educated myself on all forms of music!

I understand that you also produce hip hop music using soul samples.  How do you decide what records to use? Do you already have a sound in mind?

To me…it’s all in the year and label.  If we’re talking soul – Hi-records during the 70’s had Sly Johnson, Erma Coffee, and Ann Peebles who had that Willie Mitchell/Al Green sound.  Local Artist (from the Mid-Atlantic) are always good because they created sounds of the 70’s but didn’t get much attention. But once you hear the melody and music in the message-the process begins there! No more secrets-ahaha

Do you think that classic sound of soul music will ever return on a popular level?
Of course!  If one thing is for sure, everything works in cycles.  Mayer Hawthorne, Leela james, W. Ellington Felton are some of the artists which carry the soul torch of the 70’s and I expect it to return to originality within honest music.

What are some of your upcoming projects that we can look forward to?

2nd Wes Wonder album – Heavy Mellow, my debut LP Outside Looking En (O.L.E.) dedicated to producers and diggin in the crates, and outside collabs/production (yU of Diamond District, Kenn Starr, Chaundon).   Make sure to check


About gmoney77

My name is Gerald Watson and I do lifestyle marketing for various companies/agencies. The purpose of this blog is to highlight the people I work with, the work I do as well as the shit I see on the regular.

Posted on November 18, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great and interesting interview!

  2. Intereseting review, captures some of the thoughts i’ve had on soul and its precursor Jazz. Did a review on an upcoming artist, laura Izibor, check it out from my site and drop a comment

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