Afrodisiac

As Yohimbe Brothers, guitarist Vernon Reid and turntablist DJ Logic subvert expectations about genre, race and sexual desire

Even if they can't, they can certainly dig the sounds these guys make. One of the most stunning tracks on Front End Lifteris "That Obscure Object of Desire," which features skittering drum & bass beats scraping against a swinging jazz pattern played by Soul Coughing's Yuval Gabay. Over that are ambient sound washes, muffled voices and an elegant violin solo by Mazz Swift. "There's a stillness to that track, as well as this propulsive thing that Yuval is doing on the drums," Reid says. Mazz is really interesting. She's classically trained, but she's also got this giant tattoo on her back. She came into the session with this stringy thing on and she had this tattoo, and I just said, 'Wow.' You know, Yohimbe Brothers is not just about male energy -- it's about the play between male and female energies. It's about desire. What do we really want, what are we looking for? Are we looking to erase ourselves, or are we looking to become ourselves? And is the desire just sexual, or is it spiritual, too?"

Such deep thoughts occasionally must take a back seat to simple horseplay. Much of that element is supplied by legendary DJ/producer Prince Paul, Living Colour vocalist Corey Glover and rappers Red Rum and Slick Rick, who offer up the hilarity on "6996-Club-Yohimbe." Working with such notable guests was a goal of Reid's for this record. (The other two Living Colour members -- bassist Doug Wimbish and drummer Will Calhoun -- also appear.) "They're people I respect and I love," he says. "Slick Rick ... it's horrible what's happening to him. [Slick Rick, who earlier served five years and twelve days for attempted murder, is being threatened with deportation because U.S. law prohibits any immigrant who's served more than five years in jail from living in this country.] The INS is running around unchecked. It's just sad. He's already done time. He's such a humble and wonderful guy. I was talking to Prince Paul about working with people in hip-hop, and it's incredibly hard. They ask for outrageous sums of money or they never show up. And Rick came on time; he was, like, 'Yo, man, whatever.' He played on the track, and I was, like, 'Oh God, I hope he likes it.' He listened to it and got totally into the spirit of that tune. I'm trying to get some information on what exactly is happening with him now, trying to make sure he doesn't get deported or something."

Sounds like a job for the Black Rock Coalition.

Yohimbe Brothers (Vernon Reid, left, and DJ Logic) 
was a collaboration long in the making.
Yohimbe Brothers (Vernon Reid, left, and DJ Logic) was a collaboration long in the making.

"Right," Reid says. "Where is that phone booth?"

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