A Lust Attack – ‘Nikki’ Beat Deconstruction
February 25, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Al Tariq – ‘Nikki’
taken from God Connections (Correct, 1996)

Otis Redding – ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’
taken from The Dock Of The Bay (Volt, 1968)

Although I’m not gonna bitch about a free ‘holiday’ in the Alps and the delights of skiing, it’s also fair to say that being an on duty teacher for nine days straight with a troop of 49 students all undertaking a potentially life-threatening activity carries with it a certain amount of stress. As a result, I think I’m more exhausted now than I was at the beginning of the half term break, with a mound of backed-up work that is nothing short of intimidating. Naturally, rather than tackle this immediately I’m shirking responsibility and getting back on the blog tip, a pleasure that I’ve sorely missed over the last fortnight. Gotta give yourself some time off, right?!

I didn’t actually listen to a huge amount of music whilst I was away, but when I did get a minute to shut myself off with a pair of comfy Sennheisers, it was Oh Word’s Valentine Mix that remained in pretty constant rotation bar a few ‘on the road’ personal classics. Amidst a fantastic selection of tracks ‘for sensitive thugs and their shorties’ it was Al Tariq’s ‘Nikki’ that had me bopping my head on innumerable occasions, a song that may have passed CD heads by as it was a bonus cut that only saw a release on the double vinyl LP. With Psycho Les and Juju chipping in a hand on the boards, it’s one of the best tracks to be found on God Connections, an album that easily stands its own against the crew’s formally united output.

I’m always a sucker for a mellow, sun-soaked guitar loop in a hip hop jam, and the sample lifted from Otis Redding’s ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ is a certified gem. The song can be found on his posthumously released LPThe Dock Of The Bay, home to the song of the same name that will forever be intertwined with his legacy. The album is in fact a collection of singles and b-sides, with ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ actually seeing an original release in 1966 as the flip to ‘My Lover’s Prayer’. It’s a great little number in which Otis expresses his refusal to be trampled on by a member of the fairer sex with the passionate delivery that certified his place in the annals of popular soul, and also a song that seems to have been lost in the numerous greatest hits collections that many people probably assume covers the entirety of his work. Why ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ should have escaped the canonization process is somewhat beyond me, as it is as easily as good as his more obvious hits, but then perhaps therein lies some of its appeal. The musical snob in me lives on…

Production-wise there’s not a great deal of sample tomfoolery going on, with the first two bars receiving the loop treatment and some heavy drums, although there is some rearrangement on display during the chorus sections and the removal of the guitar’s upstroke that closes the first bar once the main beat drops is a pleasingly subtle touch. With the mellow vibe provided by the beat, Al Tariq takes the opportunity to wax lyrical about that special honey from the past with a level of sensitivity that is rarely seen amongst The Beatnuts’ camp (although a fair amount of ‘bedroom’ talk endures). The result is a rarity well worth savouring: ‘Nikki’ truly is a great hip hop love song.

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