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King Britt

Growing up in southwest Philadelphia, house DJ/producer King Britt was raised in a household filled with music, from James Brown to Duke Ellington. He began buying records at the age of seven, and gradually amassed a collection of over 10,000 singles. Britt saw the beginnings of the local rap scene evolve with Schooly D., Three Times Dope, Steady B., DJ Cash Money, and DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. His tastes also expanded to include Depeche Mode, Roxy Music, Kraftwerk, Front 242, and the Smiths. While attending Temple University, he began producing his own tracks and also met Ishmael Butler (aka Butterfly), who introduced Britt to his jazz-rap group Digable Planets. Acquiring the nickname Silkworm, he toured with the group for more than two years. Through a mutual friend, he also met Josh Wink, and the duo soon began tooling around in their respective bedroom/MIDI recording studios. The result was a worldwide dance hit, 1993's "Tribal Confusion" by E-Culture. Britt and Wink formed their own label, Ovum Recordings, and worked on production as well as remixing for artists including Tori Amos, Donna Lewis, Solsonics, and Mary Wilson. King Britt first hatched the idea for a solo album while touring with Digable Planets. A soundtrack fan without the money to make a feature film, he decided to record the music for a fake movie, enlisting hometown talent -- dubbed the Sylk 130 collective -- including legendary bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, drummer Darryl Burgee, keyboardist James Poyser, vocalist Alison Crockette, poet Ursula Rucker, rapper Tony "Capital A" Green, and guitarist Monnette Sudler. When the Funk Hits the Fan was released on Ovum/Sony in 1998 and was followed by The Remixes one year later. The new millennium featured another musical jaunt for King Britt's Sylk 130. Re-Members Only, issued in March 2001, showcased classic funk/soul grooves as well as collaborations with ABC's Martin Fry, De La Soul, and Alison Moyet of Yaz. Britt's first solo production album, Adventures in Lo-fi, followed in 2003 on BBE, and he put together a mix album for Chicago's Park Hyatt hotel in 2004. He remained busy as ever beyond these releases, developing artists on his label and handling dozens of remix jobs. One of his best projects, a compilation of mostly early-'70s avant-garde jazz -- titled The Cosmic Lounge -- came out in 2007.
© Ed Hogan /TiVo


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