O.C. – ‘Time’s Up’
taken from Word… Life (Wild Pitch, 1994)
O.C. – ‘Time’s Up’ (Original Buckwild Instrumental)
available on ‘Time’s Up’ VLS (Fat Beats Reissue, 2004)
Les De Merle – ‘A Day In The Life’
taken from Spectrum (United Artists, 1968)
What I’ve noticed about my beat deconstruction series is that it’s always the discussion of truly classic jams that seems to get people most excited (deduced by the highly scientific equation of more comments equating to greater reader enthusiasm). To be honest it’s understandable, because I know that for me there are certain cuts that will essentially always engage my interest, regardless of how many times I listen to them or how old they get. ‘Time’s Up’ is one such number, undeniably a key component of the boom bap canon with its deeply hypnotic vibe and devastatingly delivered lyrical attack on those endlessly criticised fake emcees. Eff ‘em: they deserve it.
In listening to the source material, the simplicity of Buckwild’s composition is immediately apparent, a straight forward jack of two two-bar sequences lifted and looped from drummer Les De Merle’s ‘A Day In The Life’. The song is of course a cover of the Beatles’ final cut from their Sgt. Pepper album, although De Merle and his band give it a complete overhaul that provides the track with a totally different and awesomely funky flavour. Finding out information on both De Merle himself and the Spectrum album from which it is taken is surprisingly difficult, particularly given that it appears to be a record much lauded by serious diggers due to several tight drum breaks. The only enlightening material I came across seems to focus more heavily on his release in 1978 on Dobre entitled Transfusion, home to ‘Moondial’ which has been sampled most notably by De La on ‘Stone Age’ and Shadow on ‘Entropy’. Spectrum however has managed to escape a listing on Discogs (an easily indexed one anyway), and De Merle himself is yet to be given even the relatively token glory of a Wikipedia entry. Sometimes even my most intrepid digital digging skills come frustratingly unstuck…
What I particularly love about ‘Time’s Up’ in terms of Buckwild’s production is that it represents a departure from his usual techniques. Although the DITC legend tended to favour loops and hard-hitting drums during his heyday in the mid-’90s (and this isn’t intended to discredit his later work), I can’t think of a single other instance in which all elements of one of his beats come from the same single source. What is ultimately so surprising about the groove here is that it still sounds so distinctly like Buckwild, even though for all intents and purposes there’s no denying that it does not demonstrate the layered craftsmanship that you can find in his production work elsewhere during the period. What it ultimately proves is not only can the man get deep in the crates, but also that he knows when he’s onto something: any messing around with this break would be entirely superfluous.
I’m also throwing up the original Buckwild instrumental for your listening pleasure, although I can’t remember exactly where I stumbled across it and am unable to find out conclusively at what point it received a release. The Fat Beats reissue of 2004 seems to be the most likely source, although I’d be surprised if it hadn’t found its way to wax at a much earlier date. Although I really enjoy the inclusion of the horn tracks from the De Merle original, I actually feel that the final LP mix is still better, as it provides absolutely no distractions from the intense, head-nod inducing groove that is so infectious on the officially released LP version. If you haven’t treated yourself to a dip back into this classic of the mid-’90s era then consider this your excuse: I dare you to just listen to it once. I know that for me, the intoxicating vibe of the joint makes the task prove completely impossible. Don’t front, I know you feel the same way.
Filed under: Producers
You’ll remember that a couple of months ago FDB dropped the most recent of K-Def’s work in the shape of The Article EP with Dacapo. Care of richdirection, here’s what Chairman Mao thinks in July’s XXL:
On last year’s excellent instro LP Willie Boo Boo The Fool, veteran Brick City producer K-Def expressed his own concern with the rap game’s turns over the years. This year, Def teams with young blood DaCapo to form The Program and drop their inaugural EP, The Article (Ghetto Man Beats), reviving the sample-reliant, low-’90s-BPM vibe of the early ’90s. As expected, Def does his thing on the production side, whether generating fresh soundscapes (the joyous strings of ‘Free Speech’ and ‘Day Dreaming’) or tastefully repurposing the familiar (some ol’ Ed O.G. on the industry primer ‘Gotta Get Da Cash’ and a lil’ Latifah on the paean to lost rap cats ‘Fallen’). DaCapo, however, provides the nicest surprise, thoughtfully enunciating throughout like Large Professor or CL Smooth reincarnate. So when he says, on the title track, that he’s in it for “much more than the name or the fame or the change in the game,” it’s official. Genuine article.
Critical Beatdown, Chairman’s Choice. XXL magazine July 2008
There you go: makes me feel proud that I played a small part in it all. Keep an eye out for the official digital release of both The Article EP and Willie Boo Boo The Fool coming from the Ghetto Man Beats camp very soon.
Full post later on (for real this time).
Filed under: Slice Of Soul
Two things have struck me about my blogging habits of late. First of all, I’ve clearly been experiencing the notorious slump that seems to plague most people who spend untold hours emptying their thoughts for public consumption. Thankfully, this phase seems to now be coming to a close (three posts in four days: you’re kidding me right?!). Secondly, I seem to have been making relatively constant reference to the weather, a distinctly British trait that has caused me both joy and anguish since the spring season supposedly kicked in. The problem with Blighty is that after months of sustained darkness and rain any small glimpse of sunshine has you reaching for shorts, t-shirt and exclamations that the summer has arrived, only to be brought crashing down after 72 hours or so as the cloud recovers and the grey drizzle kicks in once again. Don’t get me wrong though, we wouldn’t have it any other way: take away a Brit’s right to a good moan and you’re essentially killing one of the cornerstones of our national identity.
Such has been the case over the last five or six days, with gleaming sunshine and warm air now stepping aside and letting the rain gods take control once again. Bollocks. However, one positive thing that came out of this brief spell of sun-drenched happiness was a rediscovery of the fantastic ‘There’s Nothing Like This’, which as far as I can tell is the only good song that British artist Omar ever put together (let me advise you not to get the album of the same name). The song is not only a great summer-infused cut in itself, but the back story behind the track is equally as pleasing. Having woken up on a sunny morning, Omar laid down the instrumental for the track before popping out to get himself some lunch. Suitably relaxed post-meal he laid down the lyrics. One sunny day + fleeting musical genius + full belly = summer anthem. Ah, if only things were always this easy.
So when the sun shines where you are make sure you indulge in this delicious slice of early ’90s British soul. In typical fashion I’m also going to blame the weather for Omar’s ephemeral musical greatness: my guess is that as he rolled out of bed the following day, the sky had returned to a dull grey. God I love hate like this country.
Filed under: Producers
Kurupt – ‘Yessir’ (?, 2008)
Shouts to PR forum head Whateva for the hook up.
That’s right, it’s another desperate attempt to get ‘current’. Thanks to my hard-working and internet savvy crew over at the Pete Rock forum I got my hands on this new joint that he’s just done with Dogg Pound MC Kurupt. Rumours are that there’s a full length album on its way which to my mind could turn out sounding nice (if a little strange), particularly if ‘Yessir’ is anything to go by.
I’m feelin’ the vibe here – much more so than the Vast Aire cut released a little earlier this year – with soulful vocals making way for jangling keys, trademark horns and subtle drums that keep the track moving. It’s interesting to hear the different aesthetics Rock is coming at us with this year, although if this pattern continues to repeat itself I predict an equal amount of gems and filler from Mt. Vernon’s finest in 2008. Not great percentages, but I’ll run with it: tell me what you think.
Group Home – ‘Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)’
taken from Livin’ Proof (Payday/ffrr, 1995)
Young Holt Trio – ‘Red Sails In The Sunset’
taken from Wack Wack/On Stage Reissue (Diablo, 2000)
It stands as a relatively obvious point, but delving into the world of sample sources now stands for me as the only way in which one can truly appreciate the producer’s craft. Sure, I always loved a Dilla banger or appreciated the multiple layers of sound carved together by Pete Rock, but it’s only now that I’m at a stage in my listening habits where I am able to more clearly define what constitutes a specific individual’s or group’s style in greater depth: Da Beatminerz were all about sourcing loops and lacing them over thumping drum breaks during their heyday in the mid to late ’90s; the aforementioned Soul Brother continues to have a knack for drawing together samples from a diverse range of sources and amalgamating them cohesively; Showbiz was flippin’ material like no-one else back in the day and playfully manipulating the structure of the classic hip hop jam. The list goes on. But for all my recent discoveries it really is DJ Premier who begins to endure for me as the genre’s most consistent and genuinely original beatmaker. Here’s one reason why.
‘Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)’ has long been for me one of the finest cuts that Premier has ever put together. Haunting, simple and richly textured, the beat possesses a more melancholy edge than the other cuts that can be found on the lyrically dubious crew’s debut LP, Livin’ Proof (besides perhaps the almost equally fantastic ‘Suspended In Time’). Having found out via the usual means the sample source, I’ve actually been on the hunt for the Young Holt Trio’s ‘Red Sails In The Sunset’ for a while and was lucky to stumble across the reissued Wack Wack/On Stage double release in my local second hand CD shop a month or so ago. Given the clarity of the piano groove in the Group Home joint, I was left astonished upon hearing the source material for the first time: Premier knocks it out the park with this one.
In order to spot the sample you’re going to have to listen relatively hard, as Preem’s ability to isolate the piano from the rest of the Young-Holt groove mean that its essence is altered significantly when placed in its new context. The point to listen out for crops up at the 0.43 mark, with a single piano note followed by a slow trill lifted from the rest of the track and restructured. It’s difficult to know if Premier perhaps pitch shifted the first note to provide him with the eventual pattern found in the Group Home composition, but it seems plausible given that the higher note cannot be easily discerned elsewhere in the Young-Holt original. It’s both this rearrangement of the sample and the expertly executed filtering of double bass and percussive elements from the break that testify to the man’s genius here and there remains little doubt for me that no other producer in the game is quite as adept at sourcing and chopping up a groove. The result is the perfect combination of bang and beauty, a masterfully realised musical equilibrium between a deeply soulful sentiment and the harsh realities of life on the street.
Before I get lost too deeply in Premier’s figurative rectal passage, I’d also like to make note that Young-Holt Unlimited (the name they adopted after the first album) are emerging for me as the suppliers as some of the finest loops and grooves that hip hop has ever seen. The overview for the group on The Breaks speaks volumes about the calibre of beatmaker who has mined their material (you may have missed my previous post on theircover of ‘Light My Fire’ over at Oh Word), and although Young-Holt’s output is varied in quality when considered apart from its affiliation with hip hop, I would recommend getting the relatively cheap reissues as a means of understanding why Premo in particular has tended to use their work so frequently.
It seems all too easy to fall back on analysis of the indisputable greats’ back catalogues as fodder for content at this here corner of the internet, but when it sounds this good and is so indicative of a particular individual’s production processes then I don’t feel like I even need to make an attempt at justifying why this remains relevant. Open your ears and appreciate: DJ Premier’s unquestionable genius rules supreme.
Filed under: FDB Mixes
Woah. Feels like a long time since I’ve sat down to put together a post, but there have been several reasons for the hiatus. As I mentioned before I have felt a little lazy blogging-wise of late, but more importantly over the last week or so I’ve been channeling my creative juices into another little project: a Pete Rock breaks and beats mix put together by yours truly.
Using Logic 8 and a batch of mp3s (I’ve long abandoned my desperate attempts to cling onto hip hop purism) what you have here is a 32 minute mix of Pete Rock cuts from way back to the very present mixed in with the original samples from which Mt. Vernon’s finest found his inspiration. To add a little extra flava to the mix I’ve also dubbed the Chocolate Boy Wonder’s interview with Future Music magazine and laid it over some of the sample sections (yea, you know I’m nice). Although the quality of the audio throughout is a little variable, I’d like to think that there’s enough going on here to keep both die-hard fans and more casual listeners happy. Tracklist is as follows:
1. Pete Rock ft. Max B & Jim Jones – ‘We Roll’
2. Pete Rock – ‘Pete’s Jazz’
3. Pete Rock ft. Inspectah Deck & Kurupt – ‘Tru Master’
4. Pete Rock ft. Raekwon, Prodigy & Ghostface – ‘Tha Game’
5. Onyx – ‘Shout (Pete Rock Remix)’
6. Pete Rock – ‘Placebo’
7. Nas – ‘The World Is Yours’
8. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – ‘In The House’
9. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – ‘Mecca & The Soul Brother’
10. YGz – ‘Ghetto Celeb’
11. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – ‘Can’t Front On Me’
12. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – ‘What’s Next On The Menu’
A lot of these samples have been covered previously here on FDB, but for the moment I’m gonna keep them close to my chest. No prizes if you can get them all, but you will be safe in the knowledge that you’ll receive your fair share of internet props. All of the tracks are individually indexed so you can jump from one track to another with complete ease, and I’ve even included a snippet of the mix above so that you know what you’re getting before you download the whole lot. Enjoy and distribute freely: don’t call it a comeback suckas.
Normal service to resume shortly.