IN THE TRUNK: “Island Letter” by Shuggie Otis (Audio)

You know that excited feeling you get when you kiss someone for the first time? Or when you find a record that is just so unquestionably fresh? That is probably this whole LP by Shuggie Otis called Inspiration Information, and the specific track “Island Letter.” Can’t remember for the life of me where I bought this record but I know it’s one of those records I was actively looking for. One of my most favorite groups Digable Planets sampled this track on “For Corners” that is featured on their Blowout Comb album.

Shuggie Otis is an incredible multi-instrumentalist, who started playing at the young age of 12 in Los Angeles. Coming from a musical family, Shuggie started playing in his father’s band and began recording at the age of 16. He released three studio LPs on Epic Records, and played on several other artists’ albums such as Frank Zappa, Etta James, Billy Preston, BB King, Leon Haywood, and Bobby Blue Band – such a wide array of artists. A treasure in the hip hop community, his dreamy guitar riffs have been sampled by The Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce, Madlib, and the legendary J Dilla. In 2009, it was mentioned on Jeff Duran‘s radio show (FM KLSX) that Shuggie Otis is still playing and is working on new music.

The chords on this song are so inviting; it feels like a welcome home engagement from a man to a woman. Romantic! The riffs and melodies are warm embraces on a cold rainy day. I love how the track is slow, steady, and momentous in the sense that it is very quiet and subtle, then all of a sudden blossoming and deliberate. It is said that Shuggie played all instruments on this LP; the direction and mood of the entire song is sure ’nuff funky. And the breakdown?! Whew! Can’t wait to hear what else this cat has in store for us.

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Parent, illustrator, author, owner of Come Bien Books, muralist, activist, and self-proclaimed believer in the power of music and its infinite sonic vibrations. Follow him @RobertTres

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