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.