This week at the small (but perfectly formed) Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Mission, something special is happening on the 26th of June. San Francisco has a wealth of shows every week, and a richness of venues for big acts – but this city’s music scene is on fire at every level. This Wednesday, B&M hosts the launch of Bay Area musician Zyles’s new album Slow Learner. Zyles is to be joined by Sonamo and San Francisco based music producer Charlie Kubal, better known by his stage name wait what.
Zyles is an artist you want to catch – but this week we’re talking about the undercard, wait what. A child of San Francisco, no talk of wait what is complete without mentioning the notorious xx. Kubal, who’s best known for his mashups, outdid himself with this one. It saw the pairing of English down-low indie atmosphere specialists The xx, and the Notorious B.I.G. The mashup was dropped in 2010, and in the years since its release, the record has been downloaded over a million times. The Guardian even labeled it as “the best mashup album of 2010.”
wait what has a penchant for collaboration, and we’ve got a weak spot for projects that are more than the sum of their parts. Kubal has worked with the creativity of a range of artists as eclectic Lil Wayne, Taking Back Sunday, Wiz Khalifa, and Mötley Crüe. And aside from the notorious xx, he’s released two more albums – nasd out in 2011 and lorde Yeezus in 2015. The former is a Nas vs. Washed Out mix, while the latter is a Kanye West vs. Lorde (yes) mashup. Digging in to the potential for whole-album mashup creations, instead of the serendipitous sugar-rush of one beat from one artist that happens to work against one riff by another – takes skill, and guts.
Wait what’s journey started when he moved to New York in 2004, to enroll at Columbia University. Ignoring the standard elite-machine of the Ivy League, Kubal recorded and produced hip hop from his dorm room, and he even hosted a hip hop show on Barnard College’s WBAR radio. Four years later, he made his way back to San Francisco.
And then, in 2010, the notorious xx happened. After that he went from strength to strength, releasing his mixtape This is real life that same year. The mixtape was released as a “pay what you want project,” with the profits scheduled to go to Dave Eggers’ non-profit reading project, 826.
Much of his work, like wait what himself, is free-spirited and remarkable. The Zyles show promises to be a fantastic night – when a mashup wizard is scheduled to take to the stage with two other fabulous musicians, magic is on the cards. And the decks. If you want to witness it first-hand, it’s best to get your tickets now, if the show isn’t sold out already. After all, a collaboration like this is best witnessed live – and wait what is a past master of the magic of the mashup.