Naughty By Nature – ‘Clap Yo Hands’
taken from Poverty’s Paradise (Tommy Boy, 1995)
Sam & Dave – ‘I Thank You’
taken from I Thank You (Stax, 1968)
Ronnie McNeir – ‘In Summertime’
taken from Ronnie McNeir (RCA, 1972)
It’s been a little while since my last beat deconstruction, but given that I’m experiencing a renaissance with some of Naughty By Nature’s greatest cuts it feels fitting to offer up the Jersey legends their due propers. I’ve written before about the group’s third album under the Naughty moniker back in the days when I was still offering up whole album downloads (seems like a long time ago now) and there’s been no change in my perspective on the quality of Poverty’s Paradise or one of its standout cuts, ‘Clap Yo Hands’: even internet time can’t distort this banger.
There are a couple of samples to pick apart here, although the first only serves as an intro skit to the main jam, care of soul legends Sam & Dave. I’m ashamed to say that beyond ‘I’m A Soul Man’ and ‘Hold On, I’m A-Comin” I don’t actually know a huge amount about the vocal duo, but ‘I Thank You’ has without doubt made me realise that theirs is a discography well worth exploring. Released in 1968 the song was both the lead single from the album of the same name and another hit for the group, peaking at No. 9 in the Billboard charts and marking the end of Sam & Dave’s relationship with Stax after disputes over distribution with Atlantic who released the remainder of their work. It’s a great song, so if you’ve slept on it like I have then be sure to add it to your digital archives: I’ll be tracking down the LP with the quickness.
However, more significant in the Naughty composition is Ronnie McNeir’s ‘In Summertime’, lifted from his self-titled debut LP released on RCA in 1972. The track in question is one of the more downtempo numbers to be found on the album and is all the better for it: McNeir’s proclamations of the benefits of the summer season sit beautifully over the hazy glow of the music that supports it. The section jacked for ‘Clap Yo Hands’ isn’t exactly hard to spot, located right at the beginning of the song after the initial quarter-bar guitar lick, although Kay Gee goes to work with some filters and pitches the track up to give it some momentum. Other than that it’s chunky drums and a low-pass filter that seem to do all the hard work, with intermittent horn stabs adding another layer of depth to complete the instrumental. For the true geeks out there, it’s also interesting to note that the spoken vocals heard in the original song are still present in the Naughty joint, an element to the groove that I’d failed to notice until listening to the source material. It’s all in the detail people…
Ultimately, ‘Clap Yo Hands’ is exactly what Naughty always did best: a no frills banger that encourages a ludicrously ferocious head nod. With Treach and Vinnie ripping through typically tight verses, it’s tracks like this that bring out the ‘God, I wish it was 1995′ attitude in me and forget that in doing so I’m falling victim to one of the most boring cliches that hip hop fans over the hump of their mid 20s are prone to spout. Sometimes you gotta just let it all hang out, right?