Let the Beat Build #18: May 2014
Spotify playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/karlward/playlist/0aJKoMrRAck1g8cUWmyh06
Diversions playlist: http://open.spotify.com/user/karlward/playlist/37tUY3fW6FjKDIYcf5cCKk
1. “Kick Out The Chairs (Whomadewho rmx)” - Munk & James Murphy
KW: Songs that are built on another song. Go. Shake your ass.
2. “Who’s The Man?” - House Of Pain
JW: We talk (and will talk) a lot about samples, scratching and simulacra. But one thing we haven’t really touched on is when multiple artists sample the same songs. Culturally, from the mix and mashup perspective this is awesome and rarely redundant. Sometimes intentionally referential, like Elzhi Detroit State of Mind is to Nas’ NY State of Mind. Sometimes they take different parts from the same song, like Labi Siffre’s I Got The… which has different parts repurposed by Eminem, Wu Tang, Jay-Z… Shaq. The greats. But sometimes they straight up use the same sample as the backbone of their track. In 1992, Dr. Dre used this Kay-Gees sample, but in 1994 House of Pain used it too. At the time I thought it was weird. I kept picturing Dre being PISSED. He probably didn’t care. Now I’m indifferent, as both songs are good. But it’s interesting how both can exist, really independent of each other. For the record, I think House of Pain is underrated. Only a little, but still, those first two albums had some gold on them.
3. “Fantasy (Remix)” - Mariah Carey with Ol’ Dirty Bastard
KW: So this song is basically “Genius of Love,” which is an incredibly oversampled jam, like sampled to the point of oblivion. But, I have to say, this song works. I have no idea why Puff Daddy was involved with this. But Ol’ Dirty Bastard is key. There was a time when you could put ODB’s name on a track and it would guarantee that I would listen to it immediately, like twenty times in a row. There’s no other reason why I would have ever picked up this jam, but like I said, it works.
JW: me and mariah go back like babies and pacifiers pacifiahs
4. “I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) - The Jackson 5
JW: I came for the Z-Trip, and stayed for the Jackson 5. But I played this song 19 times because of Z-Trip. It’s sad that the early work of Z-Trip is not available on Spotify. I was specifically looking for examples of his canonical mashups. Z-Trip is like a sommelier. Like the Ira & Barry ice cream scene in City Slickers. His transitions and overlapping sounds/songs were unique and captivating. Mature is not a word you usually use to describe a DJ’s style. I was looking for the transition from Pink Floyd’s Empty Spaces to Young Lust (back to back songs on The Wall) where Z-Trip drops the beat from Hypnotize on the transition and overlays the two. I still can’t find it, but there is a treasure trove of stuff here. The point is, I found this Remix, which I had never heard, and slowly realized how many deviations he snuck in (clarity, beat, layers). You listen to this track thinking it was some alt studio version from the Motown archives. But then you think, “wait, they didn’t have a beat like that in the original.” And then there’s a subtle scratch overwhelmed by young Michael’s falsetto. It’s sublime.
5. “Juicy” - Notorious B.I.G.
KW: Ah “Hypnotize,” a classic jam that goes well with any social situation. My love for Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit” is well documented. When I first moved to Brooklyn, we barbecued on our roof a lot. I have deep nostalgia for some of the jams we blasted off that rooftop, like “Isn’t She Lovely” (and, to be entirely open and forthwith, the entire Songs in the Key of Life), Marvin Gaye Anthology (choice pick: “Inner City Blues”), but most especially “Juicy” and the entire Ready to Die. I’m reading Love Goes to Buildings on Fire right now, which details the evolution of NYC music in the 1970s. It’s easy to see, looking back, how the sound of hip hop was created by a close knit community of musicians who were all listening to each other. “Juicy Fruit” is basically the perfect old school hip hop beat. B.I.G.’s take on it is all about that, being obsessed with what’s going on in music and what’s happening in the street.
6. “Otis” - JAY Z, Kanye West, Otis Redding
JW: When they give you top billing, and not a “(feat…)” then they’re doing more than sampling. This song IS Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness. Look, these two guys? They’re clowns. They have so deeply bought the ticket to ride capitalism. “Everything’s for sale. I got 5 passports, I’m never goin’ to jail.” There is nothing real. Everything is merch. I’m talking about their character and their characters. And they’re characters. But they do have lyrical skills that are historic. I will give them due respect for that. As for Otis himself, well… There’s that time when you buy Kind of Blue. And you buy Innervisions, or Songs in the Key of Life. You buy Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. These are the books you must have on your shelf. My first memory of Try A Little Tenderness, was from Bull Durham, Nuke singing “Women get woolly…”. It was good. It got me into Otis Redding. Well, that and Roadhouse. Romantic. And then he rips that dude’s larynx out. Classic.
7. “Play Your Part (Pt. 1)” - Girl Talk
KW: UGK and OutKast open up this up over “Gimme Some Lovin’.” That’s already my jam. But when Lil Wayne flows over “Nothing Compares to You,” that’s when it gets crazy. The tiny little bursts of Huey Lewis are also amazing.
8. ”Storm” - Cut Chemist (feat. Edan & Mr. Lif)
JW: I’ve never heard this song before. I spent like 3 days trying to find Diplo I liked. I didn’t. I went back to Cut Chemist. I’ve never heard this song before, but I want to keep listening to it. That’ll have to do for now.
9. “Rehab (Pharoahe Monch Remix)” - Amy Winehouse, Pharoahe Monch
KW: I looked around for tracks that mix dance music with something else like “Storm” does. I came up with a bunch of kind of safe picks (good songs, but a little too obvious and, well, mersh). Then I hit on this Motown + pop + rap combo move. I’m not a big fan of Amy Winehouse, or Lily Allen, or Lady Gaga, or Katy Perry, or Kesha, Ke$ha or Avril Lavigne, or, you know, whoever. But Pharoahe Monch brings something special to the table. This remix is so good I’m all like maybe I should check out Amy Winehouse. (Aside: “Sheezus” by Lily Allen is actually not bad.) (Aside 2: Lily Allen is my grandmother’s name.)
10. “I’ll Be There For You/You’re All I Need To Get By” - Mary J. Blige, Method Man
JW: I am also not an Amy Winehouse fan. But I am a Pharoahe Monch fan. I’m not a Mariah fan either, truth be told. So let’s cut the crap. I challenge you to find someone who doesn’t like Mary J. Even people who don’t like R&B like Mary J. Not exactly sure why, but she’s magnetic. This track flips the script on non sequitur rapper saving the day on some tired neo-throwback pop consumption. Meth’s original track All I Need was good, not great. It had a little too much Tical, meaning no one in the studio felt comfortable saying “no” enough. That total conjecture on my part. Nonetheless, this track is a real peas and carrots Rap/R&B handshake. Enjoy. KW: Well, by about 2001 I was pretty fucking tired of hearing “Real Love” at every dance party. Mary J. has never been my thing, but we had some good times. We just grew apart, I was looking for something different after years of freaking on the dance floor. Something like:
11. “Sept 15th 1983” - Mountain Goats
KW: I first heard this song at a Mountain Goats show in the NYU student center’s concert space, it was amazing. Everyone in the crowd was transfixed, swaying to the dub. This song is built on several other songs, most notably the psalm, but also on the biblical-inspired songs of the song’s subject, Michael James Williams (AKA the dub great Prince Far I). All dub is built on something else, and this song rides on that philosophy.
12. “Murder By Numbers” - The Police
JW: I went toward the Police first because (and stop me if you’ve heard this one) I had seen a doc about them and Stewart Copeland was talking about growing up in Egypt and Lebanon, and that inspired his use of atypical time signatures. I was hoping for some wild 7/4 shit, but my ear’s not that good. Plus, there are a lot of dub-infused Police hits. This isn’t really one of them, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. If you want to swap them, you can put in Syncronicity II. It’s a total fucking summer jam and it’s surely summer now. But it’s a different vibe.
13. “It” - Paul Hogan
KW: Summer jams, Jimi Hendrix, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and my friend Paul Hogan’s minor key remake. Picture yourself on a boat in an inflatable pool with tangerine water towers over Brooklyn skies.