Junior M.A.F.I.A. – ‘Player’s Anthem’
taken from Conspiracy (Big Beat, 1995)
New Birth – ‘You Are What I’m All About’
taken from Birth Day (RCA, 1972)
Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew – ‘La Di Da Di’ ft. MC Ricky D
taken from The Show VLS (Reality, 1985)
1995. Ah, those heady days: The Infamous, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Liquid Swords, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous… Conspiracy? Not so much. However, I’ll happily admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Biggie’s chums-from-around-the-way’s debut album given that it was one of a small selection of relatively random cassette tapes that I treasured during the infantile stages of my love affair with hip hop music. The unwavering power of nostalgia strikes again.
Upon more mature reflection Conspiracy is by no means a bad album, with several great tracks nestled in amongst a host of unimaginative skits and overt attempts at crossover appeal, but there’s little doubt for me that ‘Player’s Anthem’ holds its head above the rest of LP’s offerings by a country mile. I mean, if after thirteen years I still can’t resist grabbing my delicates and imagining softly fondled mammary glands during the listening experience then something must be right here, mustn’t it? Don’t misconstrue me though. It’s a great song and I’m not that shallow. Much.
All joking aside, the beat here is beautifully executed and a testament to Clark Kent’s ear for a great sample. With Kent now assuming a dominant media persona as shoe connoisseur and fashion tastemaker, it’s often easy to forget that during his time he’s produced some truly great records and although he may not be the most imaginative of producers in terms of flips and chops the man can put together a great beat. ‘Player’s Anthem’ is a case in point, with a simple loop and drums formula combining to create an end product that is infectiously bangin’ and beautifully simple. The loops in question are lifted from New Birth’s ‘You Are What I’m All About’ from their 1972 release Birth Day and can be found at the very opening of the song. My suspicion is that the percussion and vocal sighs that run throughout the Junior M.A.F.I.A. track come from the opening two bars, whilst the warm bass line that complements them is the result of a low pass filter over the first four bars of bass groove thus eliminating the superfluous vocal ‘moans’ that would otherwise complicate the track’s stripped down aesthetic. Yes, I really am that geeky. Throw in the subtle layer of melody provided by a few other samples to the mix and you’re onto a winner.
Although I usually avoid commenting on the scratched samples found in chorus hooks (you’ve got to call an end to completism at some point when you’re blogging purely for the love), I can’t resist the temptation to throw up ‘La Di Da Di’ for the hell of it. Without traversing ridiculously tired ground, there’s such a charm to the simplicity of this song that I will never grow tired of… indulge yourself people. Can you believe this thing is 23 years old?!
Ultimately, I guess that ‘Player’s Anthem’ ends up being a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s certainly not the sort of thing I’d play to someone who I was trying to convert to the genre due to its played out gangster posturing and misogyny, although Biggie’s verse still sounds great, but it endures for me as a highly enjoyable cut from the era that still sounds fresh (sorry Robbie). Ill, grown folk music it ain’t. And it’s all the better for it.