FROM DA BRICKS


Just Another Day – ‘Trife Life’ Beat Deconstruction
June 25, 2009, 3:25 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Mobb Deep – ‘Trife Life’
taken from The Infamous (Loud, 1995)

Norman Connors – ‘You Are My Starship’
taken from You Are My Starship (Buddah, 1976)

Nothing like an exciting sample find to bring this blogger temporarily out of stasis.  I’ve been listening to The Infamous a ludicrous amount of late and enjoying it as much as ever, but it’s the undeniably great ‘Trife Life’ that has seen the most action.  It’s always been one of my favourite beats on the album and epitomises the dark, murky aesthetic that Prodigy and Havoc achieved with such aplomb on this legendary LP.  But then, you knew that already.

Only one key sample source at play here besides drums and it’s Norman Connor’s ‘You Are My Starship’, a sweet mid-70’s R & B cut featuring vocals by Michael Henderson, a bassist who had played with Miles Davis during the earlier part of the decade.  The opening section of the song is immediately recognisable as the introductory section of the Mobb Deep cut, but it’s what happens after this that is perhaps more interesting as it represents some pretty visionary production at the hands of Havoc.  Listen closely to the first couple of bars that mark the start of the first verse at 0.44 and you’ll hear that distinctive bassline nestled in amongst all the other elements of the Connor’s groove that ultimately form the backbone of ‘Trife Life’.  It’s an extreme use of a low pass filter that to me is only matched by Large Pro’s work on ‘Halftime’ in terms of sheer depth, where all other components of the sample source are pretty much obliterated.  Ultimately it’s this truncation that makes the melody here feel like it’s swarming around you: it’s just not possible to get a particularly clean sound when extracting the bass from such a busy source, but of course this would detract from the end result even if it was and be far less effective.  ‘Trife Life’ was born to be dirty.

The other flurry that I love is the use of the two bars of sax that drop in at 1.57.  A similar aggressive filter must also have been applied to remove this from the original source, so much so in fact that I’ve actually failed to acknowledge it as a saxophone until hearing the sample.  The way it balances out the bass-heavy groove throughout the rest of ‘Trife Life’ is devastating, floating loftily during the chorus sections and intermittently breaking out during the verses providing that sense of space that prevents the song from monotony.

And Havoc knows how great this beat is.  Just as you think it’s all over the groove comes right back at you, and when the fade out begins that sax drifts into play again.  So menacing and yet so beautiful: that’s what The Infamous is all about, right?

 

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The Mighty Mos Def
June 16, 2009, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Mos Def – ‘Workers Comp.’ & ‘History’ ft. Talib Kweli
taken from The Ecstatic (Downtown, 2009)

What’s this?! Digital Existence has landed a forceful jab and hook to the otherwise relentless onslaught of Real Life? It’s the comeback of the century!

Well, maybe the week.  But this new Mos Def album has got me all excited and I had to briefly give it due props in case you’ve ignored it due to the dubious charms (read: I didn’t like either of them) of The New Danger andTrue Magic.  I’m loving The Ecstatic right now.  Save for a few missteps the beats are good to great growers and Mos is blistering throughout.  You can hear that DOOM obsession in full force here and it works wonders.  The prophet has returned! Do. Not. Sleep.

Oh, back up a minute… a group of solicitors and a mortgage exchange seem to be hovering around the edge of the ring.  Digital Existence’s brief flurry of activity looks set to take a trouncing: brace yourself buddy, this could get nasty.

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Slice of Soul – ‘Mariana, Mariana’
June 9, 2009, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Breaks, Slice Of Soul

Maria Bethania – ‘Mariana, Mariana’
taken from A Tua Presença (Universal, 1971)

It’s not long until I’m able to fill y’all in on exactly why FDB has fallen into such a stagnant state over the last few months, but I’m assuming you’re not losing too much sleep over it.  If you are, just end yourself right now because there’s not gonna be a significant change any time soon.  At the moment real life continues to beat my digital existence into a whimpering, bloody pulp and it’s showing no signs of letting up just yet.  In fact, it just pulled a mallet out…

Still, a swift counterblow has provided me with just enough respite to share this jewel of a track that hasn’t left my headphones in a minute.  I’m really starting to get a taste for this 70’s Brazilian material, and Maria Bethania’s ‘Mariana, Mariana’ is just one of the reasons why.  Enjoy: I’ll see ya when I see ya.

 

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