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)’

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’

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)’

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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A Lust Attack – ‘Nikki’ Beat Deconstruction
February 25, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Al Tariq – ‘Nikki’
taken from God Connections (Correct, 1996)

Otis Redding – ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’
taken from The Dock Of The Bay (Volt, 1968)

Although I’m not gonna bitch about a free ‘holiday’ in the Alps and the delights of skiing, it’s also fair to say that being an on duty teacher for nine days straight with a troop of 49 students all undertaking a potentially life-threatening activity carries with it a certain amount of stress. As a result, I think I’m more exhausted now than I was at the beginning of the half term break, with a mound of backed-up work that is nothing short of intimidating. Naturally, rather than tackle this immediately I’m shirking responsibility and getting back on the blog tip, a pleasure that I’ve sorely missed over the last fortnight. Gotta give yourself some time off, right?!

I didn’t actually listen to a huge amount of music whilst I was away, but when I did get a minute to shut myself off with a pair of comfy Sennheisers, it was Oh Word’s Valentine Mix that remained in pretty constant rotation bar a few ‘on the road’ personal classics. Amidst a fantastic selection of tracks ‘for sensitive thugs and their shorties’ it was Al Tariq’s ‘Nikki’ that had me bopping my head on innumerable occasions, a song that may have passed CD heads by as it was a bonus cut that only saw a release on the double vinyl LP. With Psycho Les and Juju chipping in a hand on the boards, it’s one of the best tracks to be found on God Connections, an album that easily stands its own against the crew’s formally united output.

I’m always a sucker for a mellow, sun-soaked guitar loop in a hip hop jam, and the sample lifted from Otis Redding’s ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ is a certified gem. The song can be found on his posthumously released LPThe Dock Of The Bay, home to the song of the same name that will forever be intertwined with his legacy. The album is in fact a collection of singles and b-sides, with ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ actually seeing an original release in 1966 as the flip to ‘My Lover’s Prayer’. It’s a great little number in which Otis expresses his refusal to be trampled on by a member of the fairer sex with the passionate delivery that certified his place in the annals of popular soul, and also a song that seems to have been lost in the numerous greatest hits collections that many people probably assume covers the entirety of his work. Why ‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’ should have escaped the canonization process is somewhat beyond me, as it is as easily as good as his more obvious hits, but then perhaps therein lies some of its appeal. The musical snob in me lives on…

Production-wise there’s not a great deal of sample tomfoolery going on, with the first two bars receiving the loop treatment and some heavy drums, although there is some rearrangement on display during the chorus sections and the removal of the guitar’s upstroke that closes the first bar once the main beat drops is a pleasingly subtle touch. With the mellow vibe provided by the beat, Al Tariq takes the opportunity to wax lyrical about that special honey from the past with a level of sensitivity that is rarely seen amongst The Beatnuts’ camp (although a fair amount of ‘bedroom’ talk endures). The result is a rarity well worth savouring: ‘Nikki’ truly is a great hip hop love song.

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Conditioned Conditioning – ‘Brown Skin Lady’ Beat Deconstruction
November 24, 2007, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks

Black Star – ‘Brown Skin Lady’
taken from Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (Rawkus, 1998)

Gil Scott-Heron – ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’
taken from Bridges (Arista, 1977)

When Mos Def and Talib Kweli dropped their Black Star project in ‘98 on Rawkus, the album became one of several that reignited my interest in hip hop and saw me take the first baby steps towards becoming the geeky blogger that I am today. For a lot of people reading this I imagine that this album was celebrated for its return to b boy values and a more socially conscious outlook, but for me at that time it was simply some dope hip hop shit the likes of which I hadn’t heard before. References to BDP and Slick Rick were lost on my sixteen year old ears, but I knew that I had found something that felt creative, honest and musically engaging. As the years have passed by, my passion for the album has actually decreased, but it endures as a work that played a seminal role in my engagement with hip hop culture and as such will always maintain a special place in my heart.

According to the liner notes, ‘Brown Skin Lady’ was in fact the first song that Mos and Kweli recorded as Black Star, a beautiful ode to the ‘kind of girl you meet at a 4th of July backyard cookout and she’s wearing like a real pretty floral dress and she’s just real real nice’. Although this experience unfortunately passed me by as a North London dwelling teenager, it’s a fitting image to accompany the song and it encapsulates the easy, laid back vibe of the track which seems to drip with a sense of warm ghetto nostalgia. One of the two J Rawls’ contributions to the LP, ‘Brown Skin Lady’ remains one of my favourite songs from the album for it embodies the aesthetic that the Brooklyn duo tried to capture on the album: it’s what Mos Def and Talib Kweli aresupposed to sound like.

J Rawls does a fantastic job with the beat, sampling Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’ to devastating effect. The song comes from his album with long time collaborator Brian Jackson entitled Bridges, an infectiously cool track laced with lilting guitar riffs and some subtle electronic twists. As I’ve mentioned before, my knowledge of Scott-Heron’s body of work is relatively limited, but what I do know is that every time I come across a song like this it makes me wonder why the hell I haven’t already submerged myself in his full discography. I gotta get my act together on this one…

Back to the beat. Taking various chops from the opening of the first verse (check for the sample around the half minute mark), J Rawls successfully rearranges the guitar track to create a suitably nostalgic feeling beat that acts as the perfect accompaniment to Mos’ and Kweli’s musings on a particular brand of ghetto hotty. His use of the electronic sounds that open the Gill Scott-Heron original are well placed and add another layer of interest that slips cohesively into the mix, thus demonstrating that this is much more than a simple drums and loop composition. To add to this, the numerous changes in the groove throughout help maintain a steady pace and keep the beat feeling pleasingly organic.

Even in the depths of the British winter, ‘Brown Skin Lady’ makes me feel like the sun is setting on a warm summer’s night as I take a slug from a nice cold beer. With temperatures now hovering around freezing that’s no mean feat, and it’s a testament to the easy mood created by the song. Imagine it’s still August and ignore the winter: ‘Brown Skin Lady’ will help get you there.

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Get Money! Q-Tip Beat Series V
November 16, 2007, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Nas – ‘The World Is Yours’ (Q-Tip Remix)
taken from The World Is Yours VLS (Columbia, 1994)

An uncharacteristically short post from me today party people.  I’m off to London in the very near future (i.e. the next ten minutes) and in truth, I’m not sure how much I have to say of genuine substance about Q-Tip’s momentous remix of ‘The World Is Yours’ beyond what you probably already know.  Remixing a track of such magnitude in its original form is a task in itself, and although Tip’s reinterpretation falls short of the Pete Rock version (but then, what wouldn’t?) it is still an excellent song that deserves a place in your digital crates.

The beat reminds me of Tip’s contributions to The Infamous, which makes sense given the fact that his work on Mobb Deep’s seminal LP would arrive only a year later.  All the hallmarks of those later productions are here, with melodic samples given a darker twist by way of heavy hitting snares.  Plenty of manipulations throughout keep the beat moving, and I’m particularly fond of the ‘lah, lah, lah’ vocals that creep into the composition during the chorus sections.  Nas’ lyrics feel remarkably at home as well, and to my mind this is the true triumph of the remix.  Despite being removed from their more familiar sonic backing, his expertly constructed rhymes sit comfortably over one of The Abstract’s darker beats and the end product feels beautifully homogeneous.

I wasn’t kidding when I said this was going to be brief: I’m outta here.

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It’s A Must – ‘Put It On’ Beat Deconstruction
November 2, 2007, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Buster Williams – ‘Vibrations’
taken from Crystal Reflections (Muse, 1976)

Big L – ‘Put It On’
taken from Livestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (Columbia, 1995)

Given that I’m now approaching the one year mark in the blogging game, I’ve been feeling a little reflective of late. Although I feel I’ve covered the majority of my favourite artists during this period, there have of course been others who have slipped through the net one way or another. One such artist is the late Big L, who to my mind was undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted MCs to emerge from the New York scene during the dying phases of the golden era. Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous ranks as one of my favourite albums from the DITC camp, an unforgiving portrayal of ghetto existence whose success relied on both exceptional production work and L’s inimitable attitude and swagger. Of course, the album is not exactly one for the faint of heart, but it executed that gritty mid-’90s sound as well as any other album from the era, and twelve years on its status as classic material remains fittingly intact.

Today’s beat deconstruction focuses on the album opener ‘Put It On’, a Buckwild produced number that served as the perfect introduction to the album as a whole. Although the adage ‘they just don’t make ‘em like they used to’ is perhaps somewhat played out when referring to a genre which seems caught in a constant state of reminiscence, it rarely feels as applicable: ‘Put It On’ embodies a bangin’ simplicity that will sadly never be seen again within the genre.

Buckwild finds his inspiration in Buster Williams’ ‘Vibrations’ track taken from his 1976 release Crystal Reflections, a smooth jazz/funk cover of a Roy Ayers cut that features a vibes track as its central melodic focus. Although the opening section of the song will seem immediately familiar, it is in fact the octave jump that leads into the section at the 0.31 mark that forms the backbone of ‘Put It On’. The sample contains a multitude of components: vibes, Williams’ deftly executed doubles bass, rim hits, synth strings and a subtle Fender Rhodes track, although in reality it is only the vibes, strings and bass that feature prominently in Buckwild’s beat. Naturally, the drums hit hard, and despite an extremely simple kick pattern they provide the song with a tremendous sense of momentum. Indeed, I find it almost impossible to understand how anybody could listen to this song with their head still: this is boom bap at its absolute finest.

When paired up with the Kid Capri chorus shouts and Big L’s rapid fire braggin’ verses, the track succeeds in taking itself up yet another notch. There is something particularly cohesive about the feel of ‘Put It On’ as whole; the track is a perfectly balanced mesh of beats and rhymes that is truly infectious. Grab your neck brace and indulge yourself people: things really will never be the same again.

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Break It Off – ‘Ghetto Celeb’ Beat Deconstruction
October 22, 2007, 3:00 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Funk Inc. – ‘Goodbye, So Long’
taken from Superfunk (Prestige, 1973)

YGz – ‘Ghetto Celeb’
taken from Street Nigga (Reprise, 1993)

Although the YGz EP Street Nigga has its moments, I can clearly see why the Pete Rock affiliated crew disappeared rather swiftly after their decent but unexceptional 1993 drop. Given that The Chocolate Boy Wonder handled the majority of the production duties, it’s no surprise that the majority of the beats bang here, and ‘Street Nigga’, ‘Ghetto Celeb’ and ‘Sumthin’ 4 Da Head’ all deserve to be viewed as prominent pieces in Rock’s expansive jigsaw of work.

The real problem with this release is the performances of MCs Kenny Austin and Tommy Guest, whose combination of pedestrian flows and complete submission to cliche puts the whole project at risk, and it is only through the production prowess of Mt. Vernon’s finest that Street Nigga is narrowly rescued from the jaws of total obscurity. ‘Ghetto Celeb’ represents the clear standout for me, a chunky slab of Pete Rock soul that is accompanied by some of the more palatable verses from Austin and Guest. Sticking to straight braggin’ verses suits them relatively well, and it means the crew steer clear of the ‘rhymes by numbers’ misogyny and homophobia that can be found in abundance elsewhere on the EP.

Rock gets his fingers dusty in the Funk Inc. back catalogue for inspiration here, jacking bass and horns from their track ‘Goodbye, So Long’ that appears on their fourth studio album from 1973, Superfunk. The original sample source is itself a joy, and its rumbling bass (played by Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson) and funky horn stabs are tailor made for a little Soul Brother reworking. Using filters to remove the organ and guitar tracks from the opening section of the song strips the break down to its core, and the reverberation added to the horns and the way in which they playfully rebound between left and right audio channels adds a welcome depth to an otherwise simple formula. It’s also interesting to note Rock’s sung hook at the chorus, a feature rarely seen in his work that adds another of layer to the composition that helps maintain its rolling, funky vibe.

Below par lyrics + above par beats: a formula so often seen in hip hop during the second half of the genre’s golden era and one that perfectly encapsulates Street Nigga. Still, at $0.64, there’s little excuse not to add this to your collection and its highlights, most notably ‘Ghetto Celeb’, are more than worth the price of admission. Pete Rock opening proceedings here at who would have guessed it?

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I Need A! I Want A! Q-Tip Beat Series IV
October 16, 2007, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Breaks, Producers

Monty Alexander – ‘Love & Happiness’
taken from Rass! (MPS, 1974)

Lonnie Smith – ‘Spinning Wheel’
taken from Drives (Blue Note, 1970)

[Note: Thanks to reader ‘jaycee’ it is clear that my ears did not deceive me. The drum loop in question is Little Feat’s ‘Fool Yourself’ as made famous by ‘Bonita Applebum’, although it remains a possibility that the sax sample comes from ‘Spinning Wheel’. If you know, I’d appreciate the info.]

Apache – ‘Gangsta Bitch’
taken from Apache Ain’t Shit (Tommy Boy, 1993)

Lack of inspiration and a heavy workload have kept me admirably occupied over the last week or so: apologies for the lack of activity here at FDB. I’ve had this post in the vault for a while, but it is the magnificent series of recent drops over at Soul-Sides that has finally lit a fire under my arse and inspired me to roll it out. If you’ve missed out on the ‘Who Flipped It Better?’ series that Oliver Wang has been churning out at a rate that puts this here blogspot to shame then make sure you check it out: O-Dub is indisputably one of the kings of the blog scene. Tuesday’s installment covered the Monty Alexander break ‘Love & Happiness’ and contrasted the way in which it had been used by both The Beatnuts and Q-Tip, and with my ongoing analysis of The Abstract’s deft production style, it feels fitting to finally get around to his work on the Apache track ‘Gangsta Bitch’. Let the proceedings commence…

Originally released as a 7 inch by Tommy Boy in 1992, ‘Gangsta Bitch’ eventually found its place on Apache’s release from ‘93, the humourously titled Apache Ain’t Shit. To be honest with you this particular album has always left me a little cold: all the ingredients seem to be in place for something of quality (decent production roster, Flavor Unit affiliations etc.), but as a whole it lacks something that means it has not received a massive amount of airplay from me. Of course, there are still some treats here to savour, no less so than with the aforementioned cut that features Tip on the boards. I believe that Ego Trip rates this song as one of the best single tracks of the year, and although I feel this is an over-exaggeration, it is without a doubt a solid jam whose success relies on the beat as opposed to Apache’s lyrical ode to the fly, street-savvy honeys of the ghetto which for me occupies the realms of the mediocre. It’s not that the rhymes are bad by any means, but the chorus hook in particular grates, and the result is a tarnishing of the track in its entirety that I struggle to get over.

Tip turns to Monty Alexander’s cover of ‘Love & Happiness’ for the main groove here, yet another example of an artist and song who I have only very recently stumbled across as a result of virtual digging and who I know very little about (oh, to be a genuine, dusty-fingered crate-digger!). The section of the song to focus on arrives at the 4.06 mark with a stripped-down two bars of percussion, electric piano and guitar tracks, although it is really only the electric piano part that survives Tip’s use of filters to draw out the main groove for ‘Gangsta Bitch’. The Breaks also notes the use of ‘Spinning Wheel’ by Lonnie Smith, a sample source that Tribe mined on two separate occasions with both ‘Can I Kick It?’ and ‘Buggin’ Out’ to great effect, but I can’t hear it myself: answers on a postcard folks.

There are other subtleties to the composition that fill the beat out, giving it a plush, melodic feel. The echoing horn stabs (perhaps taken from ‘Spinning Wheel’?) that appear intermittently throughout the cut provide an extra layer of sound that works very well nestled in between the other samples, and scratches at the chorus add a necessary interest to what is essentially a simplistic piece of production work. What particularly interests me about this song is that although it contains many trademark Q-Tip production touches, it is by no means instantly recognisable as a piece of his work, thereby serving as yet another demonstration of his ability to modify his production style in subtle ways that really affirms his skill and versatility behind the boards during his most prolific period of beat-making.

I’m going to try and sort my priorities out this week (read: I’m going to ignore the responsibilities of the rest of my life in favour of some committed internet time), so stay tuned this week for an increased frequency of posts (just don’t hold me to it). Sunday afternoon lazin’ awaits: I’ll catch you later.

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Chocolate Boy Wonder – Pete’s Jazz
March 13, 2007, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Beat Deconstructions, Producers

Although the one-track blogs of old are now in the minority, I’d thought I’d tip my hat to the old school this evening and hit you with just one joint. The reasons for this are numerous. Partly, ‘Petestrumentals’ is still in print and easily accessible (pick it up here) and so I do have some qualms about posting the album in its entirety (although I am aware that this has not been a consistent feature of the albums that I have posted). More importantly, this is my favourite Pete Rock beat of all time, and as such, it deserves its own post.

For most die-hard music fans, there will be a large number of songs that have the capability to transport them to another time and place. It may not be your favourite track of all time, but for whatever reason it reeks of a certain moment in your life. ‘Ms Fat Booty’ transports me to a summer spent with mates whilst my parents were on holiday, whereas Rahzel’s ‘If Your Mother Only Knew’ will always take me back to my first year in university: the list goes on… What’s extraordinary about ‘Pete’s Jazz’ for me personally is that it reminds me of innumerable moments over the last five years: it has brought me so much pleasure, so often, that it is impossible to distinguish one single moment in time that it encapsulates beyond all others.

In all honesty, I probably listen to the intro section, first ‘verse’ and chorus more often than I do the song in its entirety before I find myself reaching for the rewind button. There is something incredibly captivating about this first 32 bars or so that gets me every time. The initial drop into drums and bass, the subtle sax loop, the breakdown and then onwards into a stripped down percussion section before all of the samples weave in and out of the beat collectively on their way to the chorus. When it drops, the song opens out into a spacious sonic landscape that raises the hairs on the back of my neck every single time.

There is a remarkable complexity to this tune and it would be nothing short of criminal to have someone spit over the top of it. Although I generally try to mime various instruments when I am listening to songs that I really love (much to the potential disdain of those around me), the bass kick on ‘Pete’s Jazz’ is beyond my amateur mime act. And yet at the same time, it by no means dominates the music, and instead slips in perfectly alongside the other layers involved in the composition. This ‘complex simplicity’ is indicative of the track as a whole: the subtlety with which it is constructed is staggering.

Bottom line, I’m never disappointed when I listen to ‘Pete’s Jazz’. In a discography that has such consistency and quality, favourites will always come down to personal preference, with each head able to argue the case for their particular choice. Whichever Pete Rock track is yours, I hope that it brings you as much joy as ‘Pete’s Jazz’ does for me: this song is one of the reasons that I love hip hop.

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