Gangstarr – ‘2 Deep’
taken from Daily Operation (Chrsalis/EMI, 1992)
Eddie Harris – ‘Lovely Is Today’
taken from Plug Me In (Atlantic, 1968)
James Brown – ‘Funky Drummer’
taken from In The Jungle Groove (Polydor, 1986)
So perhaps a ‘renaissance’ was forcing the issue a little… I’m still in the throws of Flood’s recently coined late summer lethargy. Expecting the worst, I even checked my visitor numbers today only to discover that they’re higher than ever: what am I meant to take from that? Sometimes the internets make no sense to me.
Anyway, I’m gradually falling back into the habitual and my listening habits have been recently boosted by a rediscovery of the early Gangstarr albums which are of course pretty much flawless slices of boom bap goodness. I’ve actually got Semantik to thank for this rather pleasant spell, as his recently posted video of Pharrell and Premo reminded me of how incredibly dope ‘2 Deep’ is (Pharrell’s pretty enthusiastic about it as well). It didn’t take long before I had my digital dig on, and although the track in question is by no means a demonstration of Premier at his most skillful, the quality of the Gangstarr joint and the source material make it more than worthy of coverage. But then if you can’t turn to Mr Martin whilst drowning in the murky depths of bloggers’ block, then who can you?
What surprised me upon hearing the sample source in this instance was that in terms of production ingenuity, Preem barely needed to lift a finger here. Looping up the bar that kicks off the main groove of Eddie Harris’ ‘Lovely Is Today’ is probably the most straightforward piece of production that I’m yet to hear from the Premier catalogue, and I’m struggling to think of another cut honed by the master that relies so heavily on just one key source. Drums, bass and horns are all in here, and although there is some variation during the chorus sections with a different loop and a ‘Funky Drummer’ scratch this is basic to say the very least. However, let’s not forget that Daily Operation dropped sixteen years ago (!) in a time when it was exactly this sort of simplicity that produced the greatest music that the genre will ever see, and what ‘2 Deep’ really reinforces is the genius of Premier’s ear for a lost bar here or there that perfectly translated into the hip hop aesthetic of the day.
Harris’ ‘Lovely Is Today’ is a fantastic song in its own right and has successfully opened up yet another door down a musical corridor that I need to explore. The only other time I’d come across the Eddie Harris name was when I stumbled upon ‘Carry On Brother’ whilst on some obscure and forgotten tangent in my digital travels, so essentially his body of work is completely new to me. A multi-instrumentalist from Chicago, Harris leaves behind him a legacy that is both auditory and innovative within the realms of instrument-based evolution having invented the reed mouthpiece for the trumpet, coronet, trombone and flugelhorn and experimented with hybrid instruments such as the saxobone which combined a trombone mouthpiece with a sax (weird, but true). I got a long way to go before I get my head around this man’s various achievements, but needless to say the prospect of doing so fills me with a warm glow in my belly: suggestions for exploration gratefully received.
Stay with me people. If you’re lucky I may even post again before we hit the weekend: the renaissance continues to simmer…