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Colossus: Honorary Oakland Funk

Back in 2002, the Bay Area became home to a 6'8" Londoner named Charlie Tate, one half of the veteran jazzfunk/drum&bass duo King Kooba and former bass player with Neneh Cherry's band. After four King Kooba albums for Second Skin and Om Records, Tate settled into the Oakland lifestyle like a soft couch. He started the laid-back weekly club night Slow Gin with Om's PR man Gunnar Hissam (a.k.a. The Trout) and began cultivating friendships with old time blues players, new school MCs, and the fine folks at Kingman's Lucky Lounge near Oakland's Lake Merritt district.

"At one of my Slow Gin evenings there was an impromptu open mic session where I met emcees Regi B and Delphi," says Tate, who has since relocated back to the UK. "Also around this same time I was producing the first Colossus tracks and making contacts with people such as [emcee/singers] Capitol A and Azeem. Before I knew it, my idea of harnessing some of the Bay Area's favorite artists in one colossal package was on."

After returning to London in 2004 and recording some tracks with Rodney Smith (a.k.a. Roots Manuva), the Colossus debut West Oaktown was finally complete–or so we thought. For Tate, it still wasn't enough: "I decided to remix the entire record... I'm not sure why–it just seemed like a good idea at the time. [But now] you get two records for the price of one! For no other reason than that I wanted to!"

Lucky for us. Disc one (also available on double vinyl) is a jazzed out excursion reminiscent of those lazy, stoney Thursday nights at Slow Gin. Disc two is geared towards the clubs–or at the very least a sweaty pub on a busy night out. The first 12" features two of the most jumping tracks–"The Tribute" and "Thripney Bits"–remixed by J-Boogie, Strange Fruit Project, and DJ Zeph. And after years of support gigs with legends such as James Brown and Roy Ayers, Tate is forming the Colossus band, with Tate himself on bass, cats on drums, Rhodes and turntables, and MCs Azeem, Delphi, Regi B, and Capitol A. Expect a tour of the US later this summer with possible European dates toward the end of the year–a big 2005 for the big man from London with a head full of Oaktown funk.

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