For those of you who have been following my ‘work’ for a while, you may well remember the piece I put together for Oh Word back in February last year on Illmatic where I deconstructed all of the key sample sources that went into the production of the album. The second installment in this series is now beginning over at The Passion of the Weiss, and this time it’s Reasonable Doubt that is receiving the full album deconstruction treatment.
Part 1 is already up over at Jeff’s spot now, with further installments throughout the week. We took the decision to break this bad boy up a little because at over 3000 words in total for the whole album, I doubt your internet dented attention spans would have made it through the whole piece in one go. I know mine probably wouldn’t. Enjoy and make sure you chime in with some comments to make me feel like the labour of love was worth it. Huge props to Jeff for the opportunity to let the piece reach a wider audience than it could ever have hoped to here at FDB.
Although only a handful of cuts ever make it to the fully blown beat deconstruction process, my desire to understand the craftsmanship behind my favourite bangers means that I’m constantly on the digital dig. With such a wealth of information out there on these here internets (shouts to Dallas) it’s not often that such searches end in disappointment, but they do sometimes result in having to scrape my jaw off the floor after marveling at the revealed ingenuity of the producer behind the boards.
Clear leader in the ‘how did they do that?!’ stakes is unsurprisingly the inimitable DJ Premier whose legendary status requires no further exposition from yours truly. Instead, here are a handful of Preem-honed cuts and their sources that failed to qualify for the beat deconstruction process on the grounds that I simply have nothing intelligible to say about them that enlightens the composition process. Commentary will be sparse because – and this goes against all my blogging tendencies – the music speaks for itself. Hats off to Premier: the man’s abeast.
All City – ‘The Actual’
taken from Metropolis Gold (MCA, 1998)
Chi-Lites – ‘We Need Order’
taken from A Letter To Myself (Brunswick, 1973)
Okay, so the stabs are there at the beginning, and that percussive roll kicks in after six seconds… this flip is blinding. On a side note, half of Metropolis Gold is brilliant, half is awful. Weird album.
What?! You can hear the chimes that make up the Gangstarr track in the first few bars, but basically Latimore’s smooth groove is rendered completely unrecognisable at the hands of Premier. You’d have to know: now you do.
Common – ‘The 6th Sense’
taken from Like Water For Chocolate (MCA, 2000)
Intruders – ‘Memories Are Here To Stay’
taken from Save The Children (Philadelphia International, 1973)
Clearly this has been sped up, pitch shifted and chopped all over the place, but you can hear the solitary piano chord at 0.23 that makes it into this fine track from Like Water For Chocolate. That’s about the only sensible thing I can say about this though: ludicrous flip.
Oh, actually this one’s straightforward. Chop that section at 0.02, splice it in with that other bit at 0.05, chuck in that cheeky guitar lick… who am I kidding.
You can actually pick up on the one bar that becomes the main loop with this one (check the 0.40 mark), but those chops at the beginning? Get outta here.
AZ – ‘The Come Up’
taken from A.W.O.L. (Fastlife, 2005)
Lawrence Hilton Jacobs – ‘Holdin’ On’
taken from Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (?, 1978)
I need my mate Geoff to tell me if this is tremolo or vibrato on those strings at the 0.10 mark. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’ll be able to shed much light on the construction of Preem’s loop though. I’d forgotten how good this track off A.W.O.L. was: I bet you had too.
Mr Martin, you blow my mind.
Filed under: Producers
Damu The Fudgemunk – ‘The Bright Side‘ (Unreleased)
I’ve broken the blogging seal and finally made it through my ludicrously jammed Google Reader account, hence more music. FDB favourite Damu never releases anything I don’t enjoy and this latest jawn is no exception. Beat’s an outtake from the Travel At Your Own Pace sequel, rhymes seemingly just ‘happened’:
Easter Sunday may be the Sunday to end all Sundays: heavy chillin’ is mandatory. Don’t mess it up.
Filed under: Lists
Nothing like ten days in the south of France to get you back in the right frame of mind for music and blogging. Eff ghetto credentials, being a middle class Brit with a second home on the continent unequivocally rules. Here’s what’s been tickling my inner ear over the last week on the Riviera.
ATCQ – ‘Can I Kick It?’ (Extended Boilerhouse Mix) & ‘Scenario’ (Young Nation Mix)
taken from Revised Quest For The Seasoned Traveller (Jive, 1992)
I may be wrong on this one, but I’m convinced that the Boilerhouse edit of the Tribe classic was the mix commercially released in the UK all the way back in ‘89. Either way, this was my first introduction to the track and it has endured as my favourite version of ‘Can I Kick It?’, even to the point of surpassing the original. This may be blasphemous, but the chorus is the real selling point for me, triumphant in tone as opposed to the deliberately jarring effect of the original. The Young Nation take on ‘Scenario’ ain’t half bad either.
Arthur Verocai – ‘Sylvia’
taken from Arthur Verocai (Luv N’ Haight, 1972)
I’ve got Jeff to thank for introducing me to Verocai, a master Brazilian guitarist, composer and arranger who seems to be one of many artists to only be fully appreciated many years after they originally committed their work to reel. The whole of this self-titled debut is nothing short of staggering, but ‘Sylvia’ is the song that I have returned to again and again, a beautifully realised instrumental piece that attests to Verocai’s innate genius when it comes to arrangement. Check the drum fill at 0.54 before the introduction of strings for proof if you’re not immediately hooked.
Donny Hathaway – ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’
taken from Extension Of A Man (ATCO, 1973)
Given my predisposition to sumptuous ’70s soul it seems ridiculous that I’m only just coming around to Donny Hathaway, but ultimately I’m thankful to have yet another indulgence to explore and savour. Zilla described this song as being better than life itself and after a week or two of it lurking constantly in my headphones I’d have to agree.
Eric B. & Rakim – ‘Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em’ (Chris Read Remix)
taken from The Diary 1.5 (Music Of Substance, 2009)
Upon first listening of Chris Read’s latest project it was his reworking of this Eric B. & Rakim classic that immediately stood out for me, and months later not much has changed. If you’re yet to latch onto The Diary 1.5then you are categorically sleepin’ because although this is ultimately my personal favourite from the collection the whole project is the definition of dope. Get familiar if you haven’t already.
Baby Charles – ‘Indecision’
taken from Baby Charles (Record Kicks, 2008)
Any frequent visitor to FDB will know that I’m a sucker for some well executed retro soul and Brighton’s Baby Charles deliver just that with their debut release which seems to have taken a minute to bubble up to the surface of even the more discerning listener’s consciousness. Still, I’m glad it has, and despite lacking the edge captured so masterfully by the Truth & Soul/Daptone brotherhood, I can’t front on the infectious dancefloor groove of ‘Indecision’, a satisfyingly raw funk workout that barely stops to let you breathe. In a good way.
De La Soul – ‘Days Of Our Lives’ feat. Common
taken from The Grind Date (Sanctuary, 2004)
If you’re like me you probably skipped through The Grind Date and then quickly reached for one of the early De La releases to make you feel whole again. It’s understandable, but upon revisitation The Grind Date is a very solid album with more than enough going on to satisfy even the most hardened De La purist. This Jake One produced sonic thump is the current standout for me despite an appearance from Common whose very existence is enough to make me reach for the nearest bucket at this stage. Sorry brother, but enough’s enough.
George Benson – ‘California Dreamin”
taken from White Rabbit (CTI, 1972)
I’ve been back on yet another CTI trawl of late, and White Rabbit is the latest thing to grab me from the back catalogue of Creed Taylor’s legendary label. Featuring a truly remarkable group of players the whole album is worth checking, but this cover of ‘California Dreamin” has felt particularly appropriate whilst gazing at the Mediterranean despite the fact that it’s still a good 8,000 miles away from the Golden State. Go figure.
Joe Bataan – ‘Ordinary Guy’
taken from Gypsy Woman (Fania, 1968)
I’ve got O-Dub to thank for the recommendation here despite catching onto Bataan via his narration of City of God’s Son at the tail end of last year. More and more I’m finding myself drawn to the Latin end of the musical spectrum and although this is the most obviously soulful song on Gypsy Woman, it strikes a balance between doo wop and boogaloo that is truly delectable.
Rhymefest – ‘Deal’s A Deal’ feat. CL Smooth & Haffa
taken from The Manual Mixtape (N/A, 2009)
If there’s one semi high profile MC I was rooting for this year it was Rhymefest, but I’m afraid to say that The Manual mixtape falls short of the mark for me, neither throwback nor contemporary enough to fully capture the imagination. The homophobia doesn’t help either. Still, this particularly cut’s lounge jazz vibe feels undeniably satisfying in the haze of the Mediterranean dusk, and the added bonus of a CL verse doesn’t hurt matters. A pity that the majority of the mixtape won’t last long on my hard drive, but then I guess disappointment ain’t nothing new in the current rap climate. And yes, that is a tone of resigned bitterness you’re detecting there.
Shout out to my crew at The What? for the various hook ups. We takin’ over fellas.