FROM DA BRICKS


Gimme Some Of That – ‘Clap Yo Hands’ Beat Deconstruction
June 12, 2008, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Naughty By Nature – ‘Clap Yo Hands’
taken from Poverty’s Paradise (Tommy Boy, 1995)

Sam & Dave – ‘I Thank You’
taken from I Thank You (Stax, 1968)

Ronnie McNeir – ‘In Summertime’
taken from Ronnie McNeir (RCA, 1972)

It’s been a little while since my last beat deconstruction, but given that I’m experiencing a renaissance with some of Naughty By Nature’s greatest cuts it feels fitting to offer up the Jersey legends their due propers. I’ve written before about the group’s third album under the Naughty moniker back in the days when I was still offering up whole album downloads (seems like a long time ago now) and there’s been no change in my perspective on the quality of Poverty’s Paradise or one of its standout cuts, ‘Clap Yo Hands’: even internet time can’t distort this banger.

There are a couple of samples to pick apart here, although the first only serves as an intro skit to the main jam, care of soul legends Sam & Dave. I’m ashamed to say that beyond ‘I’m A Soul Man’ and ‘Hold On, I’m A-Comin” I don’t actually know a huge amount about the vocal duo, but ‘I Thank You’ has without doubt made me realise that theirs is a discography well worth exploring. Released in 1968 the song was both the lead single from the album of the same name and another hit for the group, peaking at No. 9 in the Billboard charts and marking the end of Sam & Dave’s relationship with Stax after disputes over distribution with Atlantic who released the remainder of their work. It’s a great song, so if you’ve slept on it like I have then be sure to add it to your digital archives: I’ll be tracking down the LP with the quickness.

However, more significant in the Naughty composition is Ronnie McNeir’s ‘In Summertime’, lifted from his self-titled debut LP released on RCA in 1972. The track in question is one of the more downtempo numbers to be found on the album and is all the better for it: McNeir’s proclamations of the benefits of the summer season sit beautifully over the hazy glow of the music that supports it. The section jacked for ‘Clap Yo Hands’ isn’t exactly hard to spot, located right at the beginning of the song after the initial quarter-bar guitar lick, although Kay Gee goes to work with some filters and pitches the track up to give it some momentum. Other than that it’s chunky drums and a low-pass filter that seem to do all the hard work, with intermittent horn stabs adding another layer of depth to complete the instrumental. For the true geeks out there, it’s also interesting to note that the spoken vocals heard in the original song are still present in the Naughty joint, an element to the groove that I’d failed to notice until listening to the source material. It’s all in the detail people…

Ultimately, ‘Clap Yo Hands’ is exactly what Naughty always did best: a no frills banger that encourages a ludicrously ferocious head nod. With Treach and Vinnie ripping through typically tight verses, it’s tracks like this that bring out the ‘God, I wish it was 1995′ attitude in me and forget that in doing so I’m falling victim to one of the most boring cliches that hip hop fans over the hump of their mid 20s are prone to spout. Sometimes you gotta just let it all hang out, right?

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Minerals & Vitamins – ‘Time’s Up’ Beat Deconstruction
May 23, 2008, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

O.C. – ‘Time’s Up’
taken from Word… Life (Wild Pitch, 1994)

O.C. – ‘Time’s Up’ (Original Buckwild Instrumental)
available on ‘Time’s Up’ VLS (Fat Beats Reissue, 2004)

Les De Merle – ‘A Day In The Life’
taken from Spectrum (United Artists, 1968)

What I’ve noticed about my beat deconstruction series is that it’s always the discussion of truly classic jams that seems to get people most excited (deduced by the highly scientific equation of more comments equating to greater reader enthusiasm). To be honest it’s understandable, because I know that for me there are certain cuts that will essentially always engage my interest, regardless of how many times I listen to them or how old they get. ‘Time’s Up’ is one such number, undeniably a key component of the boom bap canon with its deeply hypnotic vibe and devastatingly delivered lyrical attack on those endlessly criticised fake emcees. Eff ‘em: they deserve it.

In listening to the source material, the simplicity of Buckwild’s composition is immediately apparent, a straight forward jack of two two-bar sequences lifted and looped from drummer Les De Merle’s ‘A Day In The Life’. The song is of course a cover of the Beatles’ final cut from their Sgt. Pepper album, although De Merle and his band give it a complete overhaul that provides the track with a totally different and awesomely funky flavour. Finding out information on both De Merle himself and the Spectrum album from which it is taken is surprisingly difficult, particularly given that it appears to be a record much lauded by serious diggers due to several tight drum breaks. The only enlightening material I came across seems to focus more heavily on his release in 1978 on Dobre entitled Transfusion, home to ‘Moondial’ which has been sampled most notably by De La on ‘Stone Age’ and Shadow on ‘Entropy’. Spectrum however has managed to escape a listing on Discogs (an easily indexed one anyway), and De Merle himself is yet to be given even the relatively token glory of a Wikipedia entry. Sometimes even my most intrepid digital digging skills come frustratingly unstuck…

What I particularly love about ‘Time’s Up’ in terms of Buckwild’s production is that it represents a departure from his usual techniques. Although the DITC legend tended to favour loops and hard-hitting drums during his heyday in the mid-’90s (and this isn’t intended to discredit his later work), I can’t think of a single other instance in which all elements of one of his beats come from the same single source. What is ultimately so surprising about the groove here is that it still sounds so distinctly like Buckwild, even though for all intents and purposes there’s no denying that it does not demonstrate the layered craftsmanship that you can find in his production work elsewhere during the period. What it ultimately proves is not only can the man get deep in the crates, but also that he knows when he’s onto something: any messing around with this break would be entirely superfluous.

I’m also throwing up the original Buckwild instrumental for your listening pleasure, although I can’t remember exactly where I stumbled across it and am unable to find out conclusively at what point it received a release. The Fat Beats reissue of 2004 seems to be the most likely source, although I’d be surprised if it hadn’t found its way to wax at a much earlier date. Although I really enjoy the inclusion of the horn tracks from the De Merle original, I actually feel that the final LP mix is still better, as it provides absolutely no distractions from the intense, head-nod inducing groove that is so infectious on the officially released LP version. If you haven’t treated yourself to a dip back into this classic of the mid-’90s era then consider this your excuse: I dare you to just listen to it once. I know that for me, the intoxicating vibe of the joint makes the task prove completely impossible. Don’t front, I know you feel the same way.

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The World Is Fallin’ – ‘Up Against Tha Wall’ Beat Deconstruction
May 12, 2008, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Group Home – ‘Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)’
taken from Livin’ Proof (Payday/ffrr, 1995)

Young Holt Trio – ‘Red Sails In The Sunset’
taken from Wack Wack/On Stage Reissue (Diablo, 2000)

It stands as a relatively obvious point, but delving into the world of sample sources now stands for me as the only way in which one can truly appreciate the producer’s craft. Sure, I always loved a Dilla banger or appreciated the multiple layers of sound carved together by Pete Rock, but it’s only now that I’m at a stage in my listening habits where I am able to more clearly define what constitutes a specific individual’s or group’s style in greater depth: Da Beatminerz were all about sourcing loops and lacing them over thumping drum breaks during their heyday in the mid to late ’90s; the aforementioned Soul Brother continues to have a knack for drawing together samples from a diverse range of sources and amalgamating them cohesively; Showbiz was flippin’ material like no-one else back in the day and playfully manipulating the structure of the classic hip hop jam. The list goes on. But for all my recent discoveries it really is DJ Premier who begins to endure for me as the genre’s most consistent and genuinely original beatmaker. Here’s one reason why.

‘Up Against Tha Wall (Getaway Car Mix)’ has long been for me one of the finest cuts that Premier has ever put together. Haunting, simple and richly textured, the beat possesses a more melancholy edge than the other cuts that can be found on the lyrically dubious crew’s debut LP, Livin’ Proof (besides perhaps the almost equally fantastic ‘Suspended In Time’). Having found out via the usual means the sample source, I’ve actually been on the hunt for the Young Holt Trio’s ‘Red Sails In The Sunset’ for a while and was lucky to stumble across the reissued Wack Wack/On Stage double release in my local second hand CD shop a month or so ago. Given the clarity of the piano groove in the Group Home joint, I was left astonished upon hearing the source material for the first time: Premier knocks it out the park with this one.

In order to spot the sample you’re going to have to listen relatively hard, as Preem’s ability to isolate the piano from the rest of the Young-Holt groove mean that its essence is altered significantly when placed in its new context. The point to listen out for crops up at the 0.43 mark, with a single piano note followed by a slow trill lifted from the rest of the track and restructured. It’s difficult to know if Premier perhaps pitch shifted the first note to provide him with the eventual pattern found in the Group Home composition, but it seems plausible given that the higher note cannot be easily discerned elsewhere in the Young-Holt original. It’s both this rearrangement of the sample and the expertly executed filtering of double bass and percussive elements from the break that testify to the man’s genius here and there remains little doubt for me that no other producer in the game is quite as adept at sourcing and chopping up a groove. The result is the perfect combination of bang and beauty, a masterfully realised musical equilibrium between a deeply soulful sentiment and the harsh realities of life on the street.

Before I get lost too deeply in Premier’s figurative rectal passage, I’d also like to make note that Young-Holt Unlimited (the name they adopted after the first album) are emerging for me as the suppliers as some of the finest loops and grooves that hip hop has ever seen. The overview for the group on The Breaks speaks volumes about the calibre of beatmaker who has mined their material (you may have missed my previous post on theircover of ‘Light My Fire’ over at Oh Word), and although Young-Holt’s output is varied in quality when considered apart from its affiliation with hip hop, I would recommend getting the relatively cheap reissues as a means of understanding why Premo in particular has tended to use their work so frequently.

It seems all too easy to fall back on analysis of the indisputable greats’ back catalogues as fodder for content at this here corner of the internet, but when it sounds this good and is so indicative of a particular individual’s production processes then I don’t feel like I even need to make an attempt at justifying why this remains relevant. Open your ears and appreciate: DJ Premier’s unquestionable genius rules supreme.

 

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Tell Me What The Deal Is – ‘Enuff’ Beat Deconstruction
April 29, 2008, 4:29 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Masta Ace – ‘Enuff’
taken from Disposable Arts (JCOR, 2001)

Love Unlimited – ‘Share A Little Love In Your Heart’
taken from In Heat (20th Century, 1974)

Shouts to Floodwatch for the hook-up and Travis for the info.

Although I have a ridiculous amount of respect for the one and only Masta Ace, I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know his material in the way that I probably ought to. Sure I’ve bought/downloaded the back catalogue and enjoyed it immensely, but I’d be lying if I said that I knew his discography inside out. As such, I decided to giveDisposable Arts a little spin out a couple of weeks back, and although I can’t say that I’m besotted with it in its entirety there are of course moments of both lyrical wizardry and satisfyingly bangin’ production on show that make it essential for your digital archives (the out of print CD will already set you back a pretty penny). With the sun blazing through my window it was ‘Enuff’ that made a serious impression on me, sailing through the necessary qualification for the beat deconstruction treatment.

A bouncy, upbeat and summer-tinged jam, the track is produced by Rodney Hunter, a name that had completely passed me by until a little research in preparation for this post. Originally holding an affiliation with Peter Kruder of Kruder & Dorfmeister fame, the man has a production history that is varied to say the least which makes the no frills aesthetic of this track somewhat surprising: it’s hard to imagine that this was accomplished by somebody who only dabbles in straight up hip hop production. Given the cleanliness of the bass line and Hunter’s ability with the instrument I’m assuming that the rumbling bass frequencies that underpin the main groove were also played by the man himself. Good work fella!

Sample fodder comes in the shape of Love Unlimited’s ‘Share A Little Love In Your Heart’, a pleasing yet overly lavish piece of ’70s Barry White-honed soul that at times is breathtakingly beautiful and at others cringe-worthingly corny, lifted from their album of 1974 entitled In Heat. So far looked over for the reissue treatment, I’m disappointed that someone hasn’t made the effort to put this out as I would hazard a guess that there are other delights of a similar vibe to indulge in for fans of the Walrus of Love’s meticulously executed and dramatic sound. Check the opening section of the song for the keys that form the backbone of the Masta Ace cut: you can’t miss ‘em.

Ultimately I would liked to have seen a little more of this Rodney Hunter figure within the hip hop realm, as I really do feel that this beat encapsulates that turn of the millennium production aesthetic as well as more well-established producers of the era. Still, I’m pleased that he dropped this little gem on us and so should you: if it’s sunny where you are (it certainly isn’t anymore over here), wind down the windows in the ride and enjoy. The summer’s on its way, isn’t it?!

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City Under Siege – ‘Ain’t No Love’ Beat Deconstruction
April 11, 2008, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Real Live – ‘Ain’t No Love’
taken from The Turnaround: A Long Awaited Drama (Atlantic, 1996)

Bobby Bland – ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’
taken from Dreamer (Dunhill, 1974)

To round off the week’s celebration of all things K-Def here at FDB, today’s beat deconstruction picks apart what is for me one of the greatest cuts that he has ever put together: Real Live’s ‘Ain’t No Love’. So much more than just a ‘banger’, the track in question exemplifies that mid-‘90s sound to such a degree that it serves up a veritable lesson in boom bap aesthetics, a flawless realisation of how emotive, sonically rich and downrightbeautiful hip hop music can be when executed by a master.

Let’s begin with the sample. K-Def’s inspiration comes in the shape of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s song ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’ lifted from his album of 1974, Dreamer. Essentially his one hit from a relatively extensive back catalogue, the song is a fine mix of blues and soul that also finds its way into the Kanye West-honed cut ‘Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love)’ from Jay-Z’s highly celebrated return to form, The Blueprint. It’s the chorus hook from Bland’s composition that is the most instantly recognisable of the elements that find their way into the Real Live joint, but notice also the jangling guitar riff that runs below it as it clearly contributes to the song’s highly developed layers of texture. The strings are of course another key element to the K-Def beat that I assume have been lifted from the same source, although it’s impossible to discern from exactly what point given that if they are, they have been rearranged and distorted significantly during the production process.

And herein lies the complexity for your resident ‘deconstructer’, readers. The strings are just one element to ‘Ain’t No Love’ that prove difficult to pick apart given the simple fact that there is so much going on here. The opening section is a case in point, with the first four bars featuring both the main vocal hook and strings as well as a recurring ‘yeah’ that echoes out in preparation for the main beat drop, only to be followed by the inclusion of what I can best describe as the wail of a neutered pterodactyl swooping overhead at the beginning of bars six, eight, ten and twelve (not my most eloquent of moments, I know). The result of these various elements coming together is a feeling of being completely surrounded by the song, the listener plunging ever deeper into a bottomless lake of constantly shifting musical water only to surface four and a half minutes later with an almost irresistible desire to take a breath and dive again.

There is a risk when undertaking these deconstructions that such an analytical approach to the production process detracts from the experience of simply listening, that it removes the scope for an emotional response that truly great music can evoke. With ‘Ain’t No Love’, as much as I have tried to sit back and assess the intricacies of K-Def’s composition, all too often I’ve realised that I’m no longer paying attention to these details anymore and am lost in the song’s swirling brilliance. If ever you needed proof that K-Def was amongst the best that ever did it, take a minute to indulge yourself in one of the most sumptuous slices of hip hop production ever committed to wax. Just make sure you don’t forget your swimming trunks.

 

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Why Showbiz Is The Man
March 16, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Although I have little doubt that the majority of people reading this post will have a similar appreciation of the wonders of Show’s production style as I do, it strikes me as a gross oversight that he is rarely mentioned in the inevitable and never-ending G.O.A.T. conversations that relentlessly crop up amongst the online hip hop community. For me Show’s back catalogue is not only one of the strongest in the game, but it also demonstrates an ear for samples and breaks that is both devastatingly effective and truly unique. Need proof? Look no further than the following deconstructions that attempt to argue that the Bronx bomber should without doubt be considered a part of the elite group that are more widely acknowledged as the best to ever do it behind the boards.

Ear For A Groove – ‘Sally Got a One Track Mind (Showbiz Remix)’

sally.jpeg
Diamond D – ‘Sally Got A One Track Mind’ (Showbiz Remix)
taken from ‘Sally Got A One Track Mind’ 12” (Chemistry, 1992)

Jack Bruce – ‘Born To Be Blue’
taken from Things We Like (Polydor, 1970)

Given that ‘Sally…’ in its original incarnation is one of the standouts from Diamond D’s rightfully celebrated solo debut Stunts, Blunts & Hip Hop, Show’s achievement in producing a remix that gives the track a different twist whilst keeping the slammin’ vibe that made Diamond D’s version so successful is nothing short of sensational. Backed by a forceful drum track of relentlessly pounding kicks and multiple snare hits, the secret to Show’s success here is in the pairing up of the brutal percussion with a decidedly mellow loop, a characteristic juxtaposition that permeates many of his finest beats.

The loop is sourced from Jack Bruce’s Things We Like, a record that has been spliced up and rearranged on multiple occasions by the genre’s more discerning diggers. Most widely known for his role in legendary ’60s outfit Cream, the album was his chance to break away from the group and pursue his lifelong interests in jazz in greater depth. Interestingly, the whole LP took its inspiration from songs that Bruce himself had written when he was as young as twelve, and it features performances by John McLaughlin and a host of other musicians who took part in the emerging jazz fusion boom of the early ’70s. I actually find the record itself a little hard to take, my untrained ears unable to pick apart the subtleties of what can fairly be described as an experimental piece of work. Having said this, ‘Born To Be Blue’ is one of the most cohesive songs to be found on the album for a non-jazz specialist (read: me), and it is here that Show, amongst many others, finds his inspiration.

The moment to look out for drops at the 1.19 mark, a seemingly innocuous couple of seconds from the song that is masterfully plucked by the hands of Show and placed into the ‘Sally…’ remix. It’s really his ear for a groove that impresses me most here, with the majority of other producers focusing on the opening sax solo or more obvious two bar loops such as the section jacked by Da Beatminerz for the Smif-N-Wessun banger ‘Bucktown’ that appears just before the three minute mark. I’m not sure where Show sourced the screeching horns that are added into the chorus sections of the remix, but when combined with this sample from Bruce’s original composition and the slammin’ drum track the result is undoubtedly one of his finest moments ever committed to wax.

Flippin’ Styles – ‘Next Level’

nextlevel.jpg
Show & A.G. – ‘Next Level’
taken from Goodfellas (Payday/ffrr, 1995)

Wes Montgomery – ‘Angel’
taken from A Day In The Life (A&M, 1967)

Although I imagine most people favour Premier’s remix of this cut from the sophomore drop by Show & A.G.Goodfellas, this particular hip hop geek gravitates towards the original as the better of the two versions. Featuring a more uptempo and sumptuous quality than the highly revered remix, Show’s production work on the cut is brilliantly executed and stands as a prime example of his deft ability to rearrange sample material into his grimy yet melodic aesthetic with seamless ingenuity.

The guitar sample used in the original version of ‘Next Level’ can be found on Wes Montgomery’s track ‘Angel’ from his 1967 album A Day In The Life, recorded towards the tail-end of his career. I imagine it’s a record that would have appalled purists at the time given its blatant attempt to crossover to a more commercial market, but there are enough enjoyable moments to warrant picking it up if you are interested in the smoother side of jazz from the era (although the covers of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘When a Man Loves A Woman’ are perhaps best avoided).

Show actually jacks two separate sections from ‘Angel’ in putting together ‘Next Level’, taking both the two bars that end in a flurry of strings found at the very beginning of the song for the verse sections and the gradually descending chords that introduce the first verse for the choruses. The tempo is slowed down somewhat from the Montgomery original and it seems as though there must have been some subtle chopping involved to get the sample to sit right over the drum track. Whereas his use of Bruce’s ‘Born To Be Blue’ demonstrates Show’s ability to choose samples that would have passed the less discerning producer by, the way in which he flips the Montgomery break provides us with another perspective on his technique, displaying his proficiency at incorporating elements into his work that are not immediately and easily transferable into a hip hop context.

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The Infamous Edition – Q-Tip Beat Series Pt. VI
March 8, 2008, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Q-Tip’s contributions to Mobb Deep’s seminal sophomore LP are without a shadow of a doubt some of the very best examples of his work behind the boards. Nestled in amongst the dark and grimy soundscapes created almost exclusively by Havoc, The Abstract’s three additions to The Infamous are priceless, aptly providing the listener with moments of melodic respite in the midst of a collection of songs that are otherwise deeply shrouded in the shadows of the Queensbridge housing projects. With ‘Give Up The Goods (Just Step)’, ‘Temperature’s Rising’ and ‘Drink Away The Pain (Situations)’, Tip not only provides the LP with a depth that it would otherwise have lacked but also solidifies his status as a producer who was able to effortlessly switch his game up when the opportunity arose during the heady days that were the mid-‘90s.

For this special edition of the Q-Tip Beat Series I present to you all three Abstract-produced cuts from The Infamous with key sample sources and discussion for your listening and reading pleasure. Let the deconstructing begin…

‘Give Up The Goods (Just Step)’

estherphillips.jpg
Mobb Deep – ‘Give Up The Goods (Just Step)’ ft. Big Noyd
taken from The Infamous (Loud, 1995)

Esther Phillips – ‘That’s Alright With Me’
taken from From A Whisper To A Scream (Kudu, 1971)

Esther Phillips, born Esther Mae Jones, lived a turbulent life that was ultimately cut short by a long-term heroin dependency and a substantial dose of heavy drinking on the side that caused her liver and kidney to fail in 1984. Having been discovered by legendary musician and bandleader Johnny Otis in the late ‘40s, Phillips progressed through a range of styles that saw her release numerous albums over a career that spanned 30 years. Amongst her most successful was From A Whisper To A Scream, an album that received a Grammy nomination and which acts as home to ‘That’s Alright With Me’, the inspiration for the first of Tip’s Queensbridge flavoured beats, ‘Give Up the Goods (Just Step)’.

As is the case with all three of these selections (and indeed his back catalogue in general), Tip holds back from rearranging the sample too heavily, jacking a couple of bars from the opening section of the Phillips’s original. It’s interesting to note that the bass also makes its way into the Mobb Deep cut, although its depth suggests that there is either some heavy EQ-ing going on or that The Abstract simply followed the pattern with a beefier sound that he sourced elsewhere.

In terms of its context within the album as a whole, ‘Give Up The Goods (Just Step)’ is the song that seems to bridge the gap between Havoc and Tip’s production style most obviously, with both the sample and ridiculously crispy snare hit smoothly fitting into the Queensbridge aesthetic. It’s a clear demonstration of Tip consciously adopting a slightly different approach for the project in which he realises a grittier style with devastating effect.

‘Temperature’s Rising’

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Mobb Deep – ‘Temperature’s Rising’
taken from The Infamous (Loud, 1995)

Mobb Deep – ‘Temperature’s Rising’ (Remix)
taken from ‘Temperature’s Rising’/’Give Up The Goods (Just Step)’ 12” (Loud, 1995)

Patrice Rushen – ‘Where There Is Love’
taken from Straight From The Heart (Elektra, 1982)

Quincy Jones – ‘Body Heat’
taken from Body Heat (A&M, 1974)

ESG – UFO (33rpm edit)
taken from A South Bronx Story (Universal Sounds, 2000)

Although the sung chorus hook may have inevitably alienated the more steadfastly hardcore heads, ‘Temperature’s Rising’ endures as my favourite Tip produced cut on the album. The soulful melody of the sample and chorus are underpinned by a neck-snappingly fierce drum track, and the result is a musical backdrop that perfectly suits Havoc and Prodigy’s no frills account of trife life in the city.

The source material comes care of Patrice Rushen, a Grammy award-winning musician who is probably best known for her hit ‘Forget Me Nots’ (as sampled by Poke & Tone for Will Smith on the Men In Black soundtrack). ‘Where There Is Love’ is lifted from the same LP as the aforementioned track, entitled Straight From The Heart, and constitutes an enjoyable slice of ‘80s R & B flavoured pop that holds value beyond just sample-spotting geekery. It’s the first couple of bars after the initial drum fill that are of note, another straight loop that is masterfully dropped into the mix at the 0.39 mark of ‘Temperature’s Rising’ by The Abstract.

Inspiration for the chorus hook comes from Quincy Jones and his song ‘Body Heat’ from the album of the same name released in 1974 on A&M. It always amazes me how prolific and adaptable Jones has been during a lifetime in the music industry: from humble beginnings playing trumpet in Dizzy Gillespie’s band to the release of his own material and onto work with powerhouses of popular music, the man’s status is nothing short of legendary. As with ‘Where There Is Love’ the song is enjoyable in its own right, but pay particular attention at the 0.25 mark to hear the vocal hook in its original incarnation.

The remix of the song uses the same key sample source, and although not drastically different, it’s a pleasing rendition of the track with a more overtly radio friendly twist. With the drums toned down somewhat and lyrics cleaned up and re-recorded it manages to hold its own against the LP version and the incorporation of the ubiquitous ‘UFO’ sample provides it with an added depth. All in it acts as gratefully received supplementary material to what I believe is one of, if not the, greatest Q-Tip produced joints of all time.

‘Drink Away The Pain (Situations)’

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Mobb Deep – ‘Drink Away The Pain (Situations)
taken from The Infamous (Loud, 1995)

The Headhunters – ‘I Remember I Made You Cry’
taken from Straight from The Gate (Arista, 1977)

And so we make our way to the final instalment of The Abstract’s Infamous odyssey. ‘Drink Away The Pain (Situations)’ once again falls in line with the Queensbridge formula, although the heavy drum track is backed up by an uncharacteristically funky break that sets it apart from the other songs that can be found on the LP.

The groove is snatched from a song by The Headhunters called ‘I Remember I Made You Cry’ which appeared on the group’s sophomore release Straight From The Gate. Essentially a loose conglomeration of constantly changing musicians who had worked with Herbie Hancock during the early ‘70s, this album saw the band further step out of his shadow and continue their experimentations into jazz-funk fusion, although the group disbanded after this release only to reform in 1998 with the triumphantly titled Return Of The Headhunters!.

The break can be found at the very beginning of the track and is particularly notable as a result of its three bar structure. It’s a technique that I’ve discussed as a feature of Tip’s production work before over at Oh Word, and it works just as well here as it does in the Tribe joints. The effect of it is difficult to define, but it gives the cut a distinctive and captivating vibe that once again demonstrates The Abstract’s ability to create beats with a subtle complexity that is masked by superficial simplicity. Although there are few changes to the groove throughout its five minute duration, the use of filters that originally appear at the 0.30 mark and a dope verse from Tip himself make this one of the standouts from an LP that is almost impossible to falter: ‘classic material’ doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

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