Amir Abdullah Bio
By Allen Thayer
Amir Abdullah is a rare breed of music lover whose passion for music and understanding of the cultural and sociological context complements his deep crates of classic and records. A self-proclaimed history buff and student of sociology, Amir applies his knowledge to the kind of music and culture that rarely receives the respect it deserves and will certainly demand for generations to come. Just as the many Jazz musicians who Amir’s interviewed and documented over the years all told him that back in the day their music was dismissed as unimportant, Amir is part of Hip Hop history as a sample excavator, music historian, compilation curator and DJ and is already acknowledged alongside his childhood heroes. One of the few Hip Hop veterans who is simultaneously an artist and executive, Amir Abdullah continues to excavate and celebrate the seemingly inexhaustible musical back catalogue to the benefit of sample-spotters, disco-dancers, music nerds and adventurous music lovers worldwide.
A music lover since as far back as he can remember, Amir Abdullah first fell in love with jazz listening to his father’s expansive collection, which now makes up a good part of his own enviable vinyl library. His many older brothers and sisters turned him on to Disco, Funk and those irresistible 80s R&B records we now call “Boogie”, which collectively and subconsciously prepared him for his first claim to fame as one half of the legendary mix tape and DJ duo Kon & Amir. Their half-dozen “On Track” mixes, composed of a majority of Amir’s selections and skillfully mixed by Kon and Amir, perfectly isolate the insatiable hunt for magical moments buried in the grooves of yesterday’s back catalogue that helped define the musical apex of Hip Hop’s Golden. The duo signed to the U.K.’s BBE records and released three volumes of the “Off Track” series, which dug deeper yet and presented obscure, yet essential tunes and re-edits for discerning DJs, dancers and adventurous music lovers. This year (2016) finds Amir stepping out on his own with his first solo compilation for BBE DJ Amir Presents: Buena Musica Y Cultura, a fiery mix of New York City Salsa pulled from his extensive collection of forgotten local hits and even an unreleased Latin jam from the legendary Strata Records catalogue. Jazz music continues guide Amir’s life as he started his own records label, 180-Proof in 2011, which owns the exclusive rights to release the Strata Records influential back catalogue and unreleased sessions.
Running his own label is a natural extension of the other side of Amir’s multifaceted music game as one of the few music industry professionals who is both an artist and executive. Starting off in the music hustle in 1995 as a entry-level Fat Beats employee, he rose to VP status before working as A&R for Rapster/!K7, then managing sales for ABB Records and running the Wax Poetics’ record label from 2007-2010. Through his expertise on Strata Records he produced an online exhibit for Scion IQ Museum featuring his interviews with influential Detroit jazz icons, coproduced a Strata photo exhibit in Lille, France featuring the work of Leni Sinclair and produced “Strata In the Mix” for the Tourcoing (France) Jazz Festival, and a collaboration with Carhartt Work In Progress (WIP). Amir’s position as an influential selector and historian within the Hip Hop world made him a perfect host of Adidas Original Vinyl Swap event not mention an in-demand DJ who’s opened for everyone from Cut Chemist to Q-Tip to Afrika Bambataa as well as a regular on Gilles Peterson’s influential radio show.
Amir Abdullah loves sharing his passion and knowledge about obscure and
under appreciated music from a wide range of music whether it’s from behind the turntables or behind a lectern. Like the jazz musicians that initially inspired him, Amir keeps pushing the envelope of music into different places, shedding light on forgotten sounds and inspiring contemporary musicians.