Damu, Joe Buck, & ReVISIONS
February 24, 2009, 3:44 pm
Filed under: Producers

Clearly my mind is not blogcentric right now.  I won’t bore you with the details of my personal life suffice to say that this is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking periods I’ve ever been through.

Whilst my palms stay sweating, go and enjoy Redefintion Records’ and Damu’s latest project. Pure, unadulterated dopeness with no personal nonsense in sight. What a relief.

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Pas De Problemes – ‘Tout N’Est Pas Si Facile’ Beat Deconstruction
February 18, 2009, 3:45 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Supreme NTM – ‘Tout N’est Pas Si Facile’
taken from Paris Sous Les Bombes (Epic, 1995)

Ethel Beatty – ‘It’s Your Love’
taken from The Uno Melodic Story (Charly Schallplatten GmbH, 1998)

Sach’s coverage of Paris Sous Les Bombes @ The Passion

I’ve been meaning to put something together about this particular song for a long time now, but it’s Sach O who’s acted as catalyst as he has just dropped an excellent overview of Supreme NTM’s third studio album over at The Passion.  Paris Sous Les Bombes is in fact an album that I covered during my blogging infancy and it endures as one of my favourite releases from the French hip hop canon.  Get familiar if you’re not already: this album bangs.

The reason I’ve held off for such a long time on covering this particular song is due to my relatively fleeting knowledge of the sample sources used here, as the production by DJ Clyde and DJ Max is notably dense and multi-layered on ‘Tout N’est Pas Si Facile’.  As such, I’m unable to offer up quite the level of nerdy detail that I tend towards when putting tracks under the proverbial microscope, but the strength of this cut and the beauty of the key sample source are enough for me to temporarily eschew my anal tendencies.  So deal with it.

Sample fodder comes in the shape of Ethel Beatty’s ‘It’s Your Love’, a dazzling piece of Roy Ayer’s production work that is now highly sought after by folk who still dig in crates of the non-virtual variety.  Released in 1981 on Ayer’s own Uno Melodic imprint, ‘It’s Your Love’ was the flip to the more boogie-oriented ‘I Know You Care’, but the luscious, jazzy groove of ‘It’s Your Love’ is the clear winner on this 12” and an essential piece of early ’80s classic groove.  It’s the first couple of bars that are of note in relation to the NTM track, a straight loop jack with some EQing to really bring out the strings and bass and create the fittingly hazy vibe for Kool Shen and Joey Starr to reminisce on days gone past when “le hip hop n’a jamais eu besoin de gun”.

As previously stated there’s actually quite a lot more to ‘Tout N’est Pas Si Facile’ than just the Beatty loop, with irritatingly familiar sax running throughout the song as well as extra percussive flourishes and scratches during the chorus that fill the beat out; sometimes even the most fervent digital digger can come up empty handed.  However, regardless of my own shortcomings here, this song – and indeed Paris Sous Les Bombes in more general terms – is a clear indication of the sophistication of French hip hop music from the period and proof positive that the language barrier needn’t be a complete sticking point in appreciating rap from non-English speaking lands.  Vous pigez?


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Indie Infused, Auto-Tuned Goodness (!)
February 17, 2009, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Is this really happening?

Colin Munroe – ‘Piano Lessons’ ft. Joell Ortiz
taken from Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero (free download)

Thanks a lot Dallas.  I mean who is this foppish Canadian guy? And how has he managed to score a load of collaborations with decent rappers? More importantly, how is it that ‘Piano Lessons’ works when everything on paper says that it shouldn’t?  My whole world’s spinning right now.

But seriously, I’m really enjoying this.  The Black Milk production is fantastic, Ortiz’s verse gives a dose of necessary grit and dare I say it, I think Munroe’s auto-tuned vocals sit really well in the mix. Pretend you hate it if you want, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a seriously catchy pop song.

Personally, I’m hooked.  Don’t get it twisted though, the rest of Colin Munroe Is The Unsung Hero is awful; confidence in my own taste stays thankfully intact. And yes, that was an audible sigh of relief you just heard.

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Dangerous Ways – DJ Hype & Mr Thing
February 15, 2009, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

DJ Hype – ‘We Both Speak With Our Hands’ ft. Mr Thing
taken from 1973: Recon (Masters On Broadway, 2003)

Some turntable oriented goodness to see you through on a Sunday.  Mr Thing has long been a favourite of mine behind the wheels of steel and this beat by Germany’s DJ Hype is the perfect backdrop for the pair to get busy over.  Haven’t checked the album in its entirety, but appearances by Masta Ace, Souls Of Mischief and Akrobatik make this a notable release that probably passed most people by, myself included.  Dope cover and video too.

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Apache Never Gets Old
February 12, 2009, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous

Nice beat, but your spelling sucks fellas.

Chase & Status – ‘Against All Odds’ ft. Kano
taken from More Than Alot (Ram, 2008)

Unexpected dopeness from the UK’s drum and bass outfit Chase & Status.  Big horns, ‘Apache’ drums, Kano ripping it: really feelin’ this.  No idea what the rest of the album is like, but may be worth checking out based on this alone.  Before you commit to a purchase though I should warn you that I don’t imagine the whole LP’s like this: these guys are generally very grimy. And D ‘n’ B grimy is like the grimiest thing ever.

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No Doubt – ‘Doin’ It’ Beat Deconstruction
February 10, 2009, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

LL Cool J – ‘Doin’ It’ (Instrumental)
taken from Mr. Smith (Def Jam, 1995)

Grace Jones – ‘My Jamaican Guy’
taken from Living My Life (Island, 1982)

Audio Two – ‘Top Billin” (Instrumental)
taken from What More Can I Say? (First Priority, 1988)

Everybody knows about Rashad Smith, right? Well, if it’s any consolation it’s not a name that particularly resonates with me either and yet I’ll bet my bottom dollar that you’ve been bumping your head to his music for more than a minute.  Describing his back catalogue as illustrious would perhaps be forcing the point a little, but credits on Project: Funk Da WorldMr. SmithBeats, Rhymes And LifeThe Coming (‘Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check’ no less) and It Was Written ain’t nothing to sniff at by anybody’s standards and yet it was only in my research for this particular post that I even truly acknowledged his existence, having always mistakenly thought of ‘Doin’ It’ as a Trackmasters’ production. Hardly earth-shattering news I know, but sometimes even a music blogger’s ostensible omniscience is flawed.

It’s a shame that I feel the need to justify today’s selection for deconstruction but given that this is admittedly a pretty corny crossover hit, here it is in four words: the beat knocks hard.  Take away the cringe-inducing bedroom talk and what you’re left with is a dark and gritty piece of production work that would rock a basement party in Hollis as viciously as it did the Billboard Top 100 in 1995.  Those on the come-up take note: the power and commercial viability of the irritatingly catchy chorus hook delivered by the fairer sex should never be underestimated.

In terms of sample manipulation there’s not too much to discuss here as Smith basically loops up a couple of bars from the opening of Grace Jones’s ‘My Jamaican Guy’, the lead single from her sixth studio album that enjoyed commercial success in its own right.  I kind of like this song in all of its reggae/disco/electro mashed up weirdness, but I can’t say that this particular track or indeed Living My Life in more general terms have particularly encouraged me to delve further into her work.  However, I’m all ears so hit me with recommendations if you have them and school my sorry behind.  It’s interesting to note that Smith imitates the drum pattern found on the Jones’s record, setting the second snare in each bar slightly before the beat and pretty much replicating the kick drum pattern as well, albeit with a few extra flourishes for increased momentum.

However, the true genius of this track lies in the bass because there are actually two separate parts at play.  The most prominent doesn’t drop until a whole 53 seconds into the track and its arrival clearly adds an extra bounce to ‘Doin’ It’ that is beautifully judged and weighted.  From this point onwards its dropped in and out of the mix with aplomb, creating those necessary change ups that save the beat from overt monotony.  But it’s the alternate bassline run through a gate with the kick drum that really seals the deal.  For those not necessarily up on production jargon, a gate allows the signal from one track to be activated by the signal on another, so when the kick hits the bassline is allowed to play as well.  This subtle touch fills the beat out masterfully and explains why it feels so rich even before the main bassline drops.  As always, success lies in the minutiae folks.

Chuck in Audio Two and Daddy O’s “Go Brooklyn!” shouts from the timeless classic ‘Top Billin” during the chorus sections and the joint’s a wrap.  But it’s that bass… I guarantee that if you’ve never noticed that detail before you’ll hear this banger with a fresh new pair of ears, as it completely changed my perception of ‘Doin’ It’ once I’d locked into it.  If it does the same for you I’ll consider this a job well done: thank me later.

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Nod Your Head – ’99 Problems’ (Prince of Ballard Remix)
February 7, 2009, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Producers

Jay-Z – ‘99 Problems’ (Prince Of Ballard Remix)
taken from (Sep, 2007)

Beat deconstructions are imminent: that’s a promise.  In the mean time, O-Dub dropped this dope remix of ‘99 Problems’. I’ve been bumping this non-stop over the last couple of days.  Get familiar.

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Slice of Soul – ‘How Can I Love You’
February 5, 2009, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

The Olympians – ‘How Can I Love You (Now That You’re Gone)’
taken from How Can I Love You/Stand Tall 7″ (Truth & Soul, 2009)

More goodness out of the Truth & Soul camp.  Toby Pazner has been sessioning for the label for a while now on vibes and keys, but this is the first 7″ released under The Olympians guise, an amalgamation of the usual cool Brooklyn funk elite headed up by himself.  With members of the Menahan Street Band, El Michels Affair and The Expressions on board it’s no surprise that this is really, really good.

If this stuff wasn’t so absolutely fantastic then you could complain about the fact that a lot of it is teetering dangerously on the edge of sounding hopelessly generic.  However, as it stands my thirst is yet to be quelled for this particular brand of instrumental retro soul.  Give me more!

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