Where It’s Due – ‘Soft Shell’ Sample
October 24, 2007, 3:01 pm
Filed under: Breaks, Producers


Motherlode – ‘Soft Shell’
taken from When I Die (Buddah, 1969)

Gangstarr – ‘Credit Is Due’
taken from Lovesick 12” (Chrysalis, 1991)

DJ Shadow – ‘Changeling’
taken from Endtroducing… (Mo Wax, 1996)

Although it’s obvious why some breaks have achieved such popularity, my digital digging sessions occasionally uncover a break that seems significantly underused. One such example can be found on a song called ‘Soft Shell’ by late 60s pop rock/funk outfit Motherlode, whose opening two bars feature what can only be described as digger’s gold. An initial snare hit seems to hang in the air for an extended moment, building the impact of the drop into crashing cymbal hits and pounding kick drums. However, despite its ripeness for sampling it has only been interpolated a handful of times, surprising given the potential offered up by Wayne ‘Stoney’ Stone’s beautiful drum track.

Of course, it’s not been totally overlooked, and the pedigree of producers who have used it speaks volumes about the quality of the break itself: The Breaks cites DJ Shadow (incorrectly), Preem and Lord Finesse as exponents of the sample. The only two instances of its use that I actually know of first hand are on Gangstarr’s ‘Credit Is Due’, the flipside to the ‘Lovesick’ 12” from their classic Step In The Arena LP, and DJ Shadow’s ‘Changeling’ taken from the sensational Endtroducing…, arguably the ultimate digging record. (Shadow has in fact used the song on two occasions, using the sax solo on his ‘duet’ with DJ Krush, ‘Duality’.)

‘Credit Is Due’ has to be one of the best non-LP cuts that Premier and Guru ever put together. Although Guru’s braggin’ verses are essentially standard fare, they sit particularly well here, the dark, moody quality of the beat providing the rhymes with a satisfyingly gritty edge. Preem does little more than loop up the first bar of the drum break and beef it up a little, but it is enough to provide the song with texture and depth. Shadow’s approach is far more intricate, with deft chops splicing the break into innumerable pieces, and this provides him with the opportunity to play around with it ad infinitum. Using an array of delay and reverb effects throughout ‘Changeling’ keeps the groove moving with variation, and it stands as a demonstration of Shadow’s innate production genius and his ability to transform music from the past into compositions that sound intensely modern. Indeed, it’s hard for me to believe that this record was made over a decade ago: whatever direction Shadow may be going in nowadays, Endtroducing… endures for me as an album that is truly timeless.

With regards to the break’s use elsewhere, I’m ready to be schooled. I’m sure I’ve never heard a Lord Finesse album cut that uses the drums, and they don’t seem to appear on The Nonce’s World Ultimate LP either, although this is not a record I know particularly well. If you know, let the geek in you free and drop a comment: from one geek to another, it will be much appreciated.

Midas Touch Live


Nas – ‘Thief’s Theme’ (Midas Touch Remix) (snippet)

Midas Touch Website

Yesterday, I was checking out Nappy Diatribe which has got to be one of the funniest blogs out there and took a look at the footage that Humanity Critic had posted of a segment from Bill O’Reilly’s show. This experience struck me for two reasons:

1. As an outsider who has only a passing understanding of American contemporary culture and politics, I found it incredible that a ‘journalist’ on nationwide television is allowed to so strongly promote/condemn a political viewpoint. Having watched the original footage, I then checked out O’Reilly’s interview with Hillary Clinton’s campaign spokesman, the first half of which is a ‘memo’ in which O’Reilly slanders those on the far left. Believe me, I’m not trying to get involved in anything too political here, but you would never see a broadcaster on British TV speak in such a biased fashion. That’s not to say these points of view aren’t promoted over here, but they are promoted by politicians and those who are interviewed, not by those who should be seeking to provide an overview of the issue at hand. Maybe I’m missing out on the other programming that Fox offer which evens out this argument, but it just had an impact on me because you just don’t see such blatant propoganda like that on British TV.

2. Enough of that. Far more interestingly, they played a collage of clips that were meant to expose Nas as the gun-toting, crime-promoting villain that he is: a message that passed me by entirely as I heard a remix of his song ‘Thief’s Theme’ that banged hard. A little internet research exposed the remix as a YouTube only exclusive put together by a producer called Midas, a song which I have subsequently purchased from hiswebsite. This is a remix of epic proportions, and I can’t recommend that you cop it enough. It could almost be mistaken for a Premier beat, which you know is no bad thing. Enjoy the snippet I’ve provided here and then go buy it: you’ll be bangin’ this one for days.

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