Even after landing a platinum album with the group Gorillaz, producer Dan “the Automator” Nakamura is busily monkeying around with other projects.
On February 19, Nakamura will release the compilation LP Wanna Buy a Monkey? featuring a Gorillaz B-side titled “Latin Simone” along with other tracks by artists Nakamura has been involved with over the past 10 years.
“Probably the most interesting thing on this record is a song called ‘Smoothness,’ which is me and Black Rob,” Nakamura said last week from his home in San Francisco. “Rob and me used to work together back in 1992, and this stuff has never, ever come out. No one has a copy of it. It was six or seven years before [Rob] was with Puffy, and about five years before I was starting to come out where people knew me. It’s real hot, though — straight-up hip-hop, and it’s real special to me.”
Wanna Buy a Monkey? will also include Nakamura’s remix of Air’s “Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi,” the original version of which appears on the 1999 EP Premiers Symptomes, and “X-ecutioners (Theme) Song,” his collaboration with the X-ecutioners for the turntablists’ upcoming album, Built From Scratch. Also featured are songs by Lovage, his mood music group with former Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton (“Stroker Ace”) and a cut by his group Deltron 3030, which features Del the Funky Homosapien and turntablist Kid Koala (“Positive Contact”).
In addition to songs Nakamura had a hand in, Wanna Buy a Monkey? includes tracks he likes, but had nothing to do with: RZA/Bobby Digital’s “La Rhumba,” Brand Nubian’s “Rockin’ It,” Tortoise’s “Seneca,” Doves’ “Firesuite,” De La Soul’s “Bionix,” Dilated Peoples’ “Clockwork,” Masta Ace’s “Don’t Understand,” Zero 7′s “Destiny” and Jigmastas’ “Don’t Get It Twisted.”
Nakamura has plenty of other things on his plate at the moment. In the coming year, he plans to finish producing tracks for the solo album by former Rage Against the Machine vocalist Zack de la Rocha, which he refused to describe in any detail. “It’s different than Rage stuff, but it’s heavy,” he said, adding that it’s too early to tell when the record will be finished or even if the tracks he’s worked on will make the album.
The producer will also work on the debut LP by Patton’s new band, Peeping Tom, and start digging into a solo disc. He also hopes to start the next record by Gorillaz, who were nominated for a Best Rap Performance Grammy Award on Friday (see “U2, India.Arie Lead Grammy Pack” ).
“We’ve done work with Redman and D12 [in the meantime],” Nakamura said, “but we’re really gonna try and get back in the studio next year and do our own thing.”
Incidentally, Wanna Buy a Monkey? takes its name from a line in the movie “Cabin Boy,” which starred Chris Elliott. An episode of Elliott’s TV series “Get a Life” spawned the name of the Nakamura/Prince Paul collaboration Handsome Boy Modeling School and their respective aliases, Nathaniel Merriweather and Chest Rockwell.
For a feature interview with Gorillaz, check out “Gorillaz: In The Cage.”