Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Machine Gun Funk’
taken from Ready To Die (Bad Boy, 1994)
Black Heat – ‘Something Extra’
taken from Keep On Runnin’ (Atlantic, 1975)
Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns – ‘Up For The Down Stroke’
taken from A Blow For Me A Toot For You (Atlantic, 1978)
Lords Of The Underground – ‘Chief Rocka’
taken from Here Come The Lords (Pendulum, 1993)
I’ve tried to always keep things honest and upfront when it comes to my knowledge of breaks and sample sources here at FDB because it’s far too easy to front like you know everything when you run a music blog. Sure I’ve got a handle on some of the major sources of inspiration for the hip hop canon but it’s a constant learning process for me that often begins with an idea for a beat deconstruction. I’ve been spinning Ready To Die ad infinitum around my way at the moment and decided a few days back that I wanted to take on one of my favourite beats from the album ‘Machine Gun Funk’, so I set about my research, downloaded acquired what I needed and sat down to absorb what pieces Easy Mo Bee had thrown together in its construction.
Long story short (I’m omitting the numerous rewinds, note-taking and what’s-he-done-there?! moments that pleasantly consumed an hour of my life) Easy Mo’s production work here is nothing short of spectacular. Although I’d always realised there was a little chopping at play in the main guitar sample that forms the melodic core of the beat I really wasn’t prepared for the obvious ingenuity displayed behind the boards upon hearing Black Heat’s ‘Something Extra’, taken from their third and final studio album which I honestly haven’t had a chance to fully absorb. However, it’s a welcome discovery on the strength of this track alone, a sweeping ballad that houses that hugely important guitar lick that occupies a mere three quarters of a bar at the 0.34 mark. What Easy Mo Bee does with it I really can’t be sure, although I’d assume there was some pretty rigorous chopping in order to achieve the desired effect.
For that extra layer of flyness during the chorus Easy Mo dug out his copy of Fred Wesley & The Horny Horns’ cover of Parliament’s ‘Up For The Down Stroke’, a sizzling nine minute funk workout that gets my rear end jiggling in a hugely inapporpriate (and deeply disturbing) manner for a nice young man from North London. It took some time to work out exactly what section of this song had been incorporated into ‘Machine Gun Funk’, but pay particular attention at 2.49 when the male voices help bolster the ladies on the “I don’t care about the cold, baby/’Cause when you’re hot you’re too much” refrain which gets dropped during the chorus of the Biggie cut. The chorus’s horns are tucked away in this sample as well but as with the Black Heat chop, I can’t really get my head around exactly what Easy Mo’s done here but since it’s generally nodding violently at this stage I guess it doesn’t really matter that much.
The final addition during the chorus is of course taken from the Jersey classic ‘Chief Rocka’ and some of My Funky’s parting rhymes in the final verse. I can only congratulate him on living and dying for the funk, but regardless it makes for a great little hook during the song’s most sonically climatic moments. All in ‘Machine Gun Funk’ represents an incredibly detailed yet beautifully simplistic piece of production work that has taken my appreciation for Easy Mo Bee’s abilities up to the next level. I bet even Premier wishes he’d thrown this one together.
Filed under: Slice Of Soul
The Eddie Fisher Quintet – ‘The Third Cup’
taken from The Third Cup (Cadet, 1969)
Another installment of Slice Of Soul brings yet another artist to the table who’s completely new to me and may well be to you as well. Given that my knowledge of guitar-led soul/jazz is pretty much limited at this stage to George Benson and Wes Montgomery, it was a real treat to stumble upon this LP, Fisher’s first solo outing whose title shares this song’s name. Released in 1969 and long out of print, the album feels much more like something you’d expect to find on CTI during the mid ’70s due to its shimmering textures and lazy, atmospheric vibe. As such it’s a little surprising that it hasn’t been given the reissue treatment, but it is out there if you want it (read: yes, you can find a vinyl rip without too much bother) and it’s worth the effort because it’s an enjoyable record from beginning to end.
‘The Third Cup’ is the easy standout for me though, six minutes of luscious licks that’ll have you jazz stepping in next to no time. Maybe it’s just because I’m a complete sucker for this kind of soulful jazziness in 4/4 time but this has been in rotation all weekend and doesn’t look to be shifting yet. Wash away the Monday blues and keep things on a smooth tip readers: you deserve it.
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions
I’m fully aware that the beat deconstructions have been a little thin on the ground as of late, so if you’re missing some of that geekery tomfoolery then hit up Passion Of The Weiss where I pick apart Stretch Armstrong’s mix of Big Noyd’s ‘Usual Suspect’ with the quickness.
Writing it made me realise how much I miss doing these kind of posts more regularly. Expect more in the near future digital diggers.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
Ludacris – ‘MVP’ & ‘I Do It For Hip Hop’ feat. Jay-Z & Nas
taken from Theater Of The Mind (Def Jam, 2008)
I gotta say that I didn’t ever anticipate this moment passing, but two of the leaked tracks from Luda’s upcoming Theater Of The Mind are worthy of your attention. The Premier produced ‘MVP’ is extremely dope despite the shabby quality of this radio rip and ‘I Do It For Hip Hop’ has its charms as well with verses from Nas & Jay-Z (nice score Chris). Although most people’s focus is inevitably on the high-profile guest spots here I really like the beat, but would have liked it even more if producer Wyldfyer had let the Mountain drums do the talking solo throughout instead of adding in additional skittering hats and snares. However, I can appreciate that this would have also killed the song’s commercial appeal. Damn those ignorant masses.
Filed under: Miscellaneous
That’s right mate, you think about what you’ve done.
Dear Mr Grice,
I have to admit that it was with some trepidation I attended your show last night at the Bristol Academy. At £18 a ticket the entry cost felt a little steep and to be honest with you I have some reservations about the current trend for long serving members of the hip hop community to tour on the sole premise of performing their classic albums, but you know what? I love you man. I love Liquid Swords even more. I own every album you’ve ever released and I want to support you whenever possible. I mean damn, the last time I saw you at Subterania in ‘99 it was sensational. Why would anything be different this time around?
But I got to be honest with you Gary, you sucked ass last night. Major ass. Your cause wasn’t aided by the shambolic organisation of the show in general terms, but I know that wasn’t your fault. I was even willing to forgive you for coming on stage nearly an hour late because I love you. Have I mentioned that already? But how can you expect me to leave satisfied when yours was one of the most achingly tired performances I’ve ever seen? I mean, did you even want to be there? At all? I know Liquid Swords was thirteen years ago, but apart from anything else it kinda looked like you’d forgotten half of your rhymes. Your usually impeccable flow was inconceivably pedestrian and you just sauntered around on stage a little. Is this really all you’ve got left in the tank? What happened to the live presence of one of the greatest MCs to ever do it?
I want you to know that I will always remain a fan. I also want you to know that I will never attend one of your live shows again. Ever. I mean, I might not even bother paying for your albums anymore. Cheated doesn’t even begin cover it. I’m so sorry things turned out this way, but you’ve left me no choice. You’ve torn my heart out of my chest, so why not stamp on it while you’re at it?
Your massively disappointed fan,
Filed under: Miscellaneous
Just stumbled across this care of Phill and it’s blown me away. New artist signed to Stones Throw, 29 year old white man who sounds like Gil Scott Heron on ‘When I Said Goodbye’ and isn’t ashamed to throw some ‘Get Out My Life, Woman’ drums onto the smooth ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work It Out’ to give it a sumptuously gritty edge. Very pleased to meet you Mr. Hawthorne.
Still having problems embedding video… check both tracks out at Phill’s spot.
Filed under: Album Reviews
…but didn’t. Internet time is a bitch: as soon as something’s dropped everyone’s had their say and I feel like too much of a lazy douche to even bother. Still, this is my soap box and I’ve been meaning to say something about the following four albums for a while, so here are my brief, rather belated thoughts on The Renaissance, Main Source, Remind Me In 3 Days and Stick 2 The Script. Deal with it.
Q-Tip – ‘Feva’
taken from The Renaissance (Universal/Motown, 2008)
The most highly written about album of this quartet is of course the long awaited Amplified follow-up and rightly so because in short, it’s brilliant. Tip sounds as lively as ever, the beats are all great (bar the Norah Jones collab) and it actually feels like a properly conceived album rather than a thrown together collection of random cuts. If for whatever reason you haven’t listened to or bought this yet then you’re doing yourself a horrible disservice and need to take a long hard look at yourself. That’s right, feel ashamed. Along with the P Brothers’ album this is my favourite hip hop release of the year and I can’t imagine much changing in the remaining weeks of 2008.
I’ve thrown up ‘Feva’ because it looks to be a bonus track left off the American release so I’m assuming some of you may not have it. To be honest, it’s not a great loss if you’re missing it, but if your completism tendencies run as deep as mine then it’s essential. Thank me later now.
Large Pro – ‘Rockin’ Hip Hop’
taken from Main Source (Gold Dust, 2008)
More boom bap legend comeback action? You betcha, and despite this seeming to have a relatively limited impact on the blog scene this is an enjoyable return to form that houses some undeniable bangers. Large Pro doesn’t sound any better or worse on the mic than at any other point in his career and since I always fell down on the ‘I actually kind of like his rapping’ side of the fence I’m fine with that. The production is on point too, your man Extra P effortlessly finding that fine balance between something new and heavily trodden ground that a project like this needs to succeed. Sure, there are a few missteps and it ain’t The Renaissance, but I’ve got a soft spot for this album and its unabashed ‘true’ hip hop aesthetic. If Main Source passed you by then give it a whirl: I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The Knux – ‘Fire (Put It In The Air)’
taken from Remind Me In 3 Days (Interscope, 2008)
A surprising deviance from my usual musical diet, but thanks to Jeff’s championing I’ve been really enjoying bits and pieces from this album. It’s a little goofy in places and some of it just isn’t to my taste, but at a base level this is a refreshing pop album that deserves much wider exposure and a significantly heftier push from Interscope who clearly don’t realise that Remind Me In 3 Days possesses serious mass appeal. I obviously lean towards the more straight up hip hop offerings like ‘Parking Lot’ and ‘Fire (Put It In The Air)’, but the vibe in general is honest, enjoyable and more than worthy of your time. As a bonus, your girlfriend will probably love it. Keep that lady in your life happy fellas…
Statik Selektah – ‘Talkin’ Bout You (Ladies)’ feat. Skyzoo, Joell Ortiz & Talib Kweli
taken from Stick 2 The Script (Showoff/Brick, 2008)
Before listening to this album I assumed that it would be a relatively well crafted producer compilation drop flooded with too many guest MC spots and production that was well-executed yet simultaneously dull. I was right. However, dip in and out of Stick 2 The Script and there’s some short-lived fun to be had here with tracks such as ‘Talkin’ Bout You (Ladies)’ and ‘So Good (Live From The Bar)’ having enough substance to get your nod on. This will inevitably end up gathering dust somewhere in my CD collection only to be broken out in a year or two for another brief spell in rotation but I figure it’s just about worth it. Just.
In an alternate and completely self-centred universe I’d have the man at the helm trim down the collaboration list and get a little less polished on the beat next time around, but since he’s unlikely to do so and said universe’s existence is solely in my head I won’t bore you any further. Dismissed.