Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
At last week’s 45 Session, who should show up but The Beatnuts and Tha Alkaholiks! I knew what had to be done, so I pulled out a few breaks to cut up–strictly 45s!–and let the mic pros get busy. I’d definitely say rocking doubles of the Bill Doggett break for Juju ranks as a highlight for me. Sorry about the video quality here, but you can at least hear what went down.
The song: “Cosmic Ark’”
The producer: X-Clan
The science: When it comes to X-Clan, almost all the discussion is about the group’s breakout debut LP, To the East, Blackwards, with the remaining discussion being focused on septum rings, ankhs, and “sissssiiiiiiiieeeees!” As such, the follow-up album, Xodus, tends to get lost in the mix. On the rare occasion it does get mentioned, it’s usually to talk about the amount of beat biting going on throughout the album. It’s not exactly a false charge: “F.T.P.” straight-up takes Special Ed’s “I Got It Made” beat and adds a few sounds to it, the title track stomps along with D-Nice’s “Call me D-Nice” getting looped up with the “Big Beat” drums locked in, and MC Lyte (“Paper Thin”), LL Cool J (“Big Ol’ Butt”) and Terminator X (“Terminator X Buck Whylin’”) all get jacked on “Holy Rum Swig.”
But don’t let the rampant beat-jacking make you think X-Clan suddenly forgot how to make beats. The first single off the album, “Fire & Earth (100% Natural)” showed real production skills, and the lead-off song on the album, “Cosmic Ark,” is an underappreciated bit of production work that shows real sampling creativity.
M’man and fellow 45 Sessioner E Da Boss hollered at me to do a mix for Grown Kids Radio. How could I say no? So I put together a half hour of funk tunes that sound great when bumped on a nice summer day. Head on over to Grown Kids Radio to listen and/or download!
Here’s the track listing:
Earth, Wind & Fire – “Moment of Truth”
The Joe Tex Band – “Chocolate Cherry”
Bobby Byrd – “Keep Doing What You’re Doing”
Edwin Starr – “Adios Senorita”
The Fatback Band – “Put the Funk on You”
Finished Touch – “Mighty Good Friends”
The Nite-Liters – “Down and Dirty”
Herbie Hancock – “Fat Mama”
Doris – “Don’t”
Honey Cone – “Stick Up”
Rosetta Hightower – “A Little More Line”
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Little Ole Boy, Little Ole Girl”
I gave A Taste of Honey’s classic groove a quick touchup–rearrangement, more drums, more bump. Check it out.
“EDM is, to me, firmly ensconced in its ‘Arena Rock’ phase — much like in the way that rap music has both feet firmly planted in terrain too similar to the harmless and entertaining yet vapid realm of ’80s hair metal. Yet one must understand that such progression cannot continue without the eventual backlash. The physics law of for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction applies here, and with such vehement corporate co-opting we can all expect to see the rubber band snap back. Rap and dance music both need their 1988 or their 1991, and it will happen.”
-Cosmo Baker, hitting the nail squarely on the head
One from the hard-drive archives: This cut from 2008 was originally meant to be the follow up to “Kung Fu Kwaku,” but somewhere along the line, it got lost in the sauce, and I pretty much forgot about it, except that it occasionally pops up on my iPod. I also made this track in order to take on two technical challenges:
1. Simulate stereo sampling with the SP-1200
2. See if I could freak a bass line to make it do things the original record doesn’t do at all
It was kinda cool to figure those things out as I went along. Hell, I’m not even sure if I could do that bass line again–I’d have to go back to the Pro Tools session and see if I can figure out what I did.
The song: “Build and Destroy’”
The producer: Kenny Parker
The science: For a crew with the word “productions” right there in its name, Boogie Down Productions doesn’t get talked about too much when we get to listing the best producers or the best beats or what have you. That’s understandable when the real driving force of BDP is arguable the greatest rapper of all time, KRS-One, but still, the beats on those BDP albums don’t get talked about too much (save Criminal Minded because of the whole Ced-Gee-jacking-Marley-Marl’s-reel-of-drum-sounds business), which is kind of a shame.
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So here’s a really cool project: My good friend Tara Zanzig–now located in Chicago, but who I first met back in my college days in Greensboro, NC–is a very talented artist. Comics, sculpture, all kinds of good stuff. She contacted me about an interesting collaboration: She’s part of a group that makes 3-minute movies based on various themes, and she asked if I wanted to do the music for her next movie.
Hell yeah, I’m down for that!
The theme for this round was “release,” so I mentioned a few ideas for the track, she refined one of those ideas, and I sat down and started working on a beat–one with a different feel from what I usually make. She shot some footage based on the concept we worked out, and then we went back and forth, tweaking the beat and her filming ideas until I finished off the track, and she was able to edit her footage to fit it. It was a really great creative collaboration with lots of good ideas and feedback flowing in both directions, and the final result is, I think, really cool (she did a great editing job on it). Check it out and see for yourself.
The song: “Shadowboxin’”
The producer: The RZA
The science: It’s one of the most timeless and fun-to-discuss, never-to-be-resolved hip-hop debates out there: “Which Wu-tang solo album is the best?” People will argue all day about it, and based on the many, many conversations I’ve had about it, Only Built for Cuban Linx… gets the most nods. But my choice is GZA’s Liquid Swords, not just for GZA’s rhyming (which is top notch), but for RZA’s production.
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The song: “Down-Ass Zaggin”
The producer: 5th Ward Boyz/John Bido
The science: The art of loop-stacking is taken for granted these days. For starters, that style of production has been phased out by drum-machine minimalism, but even when people do stack loops, it’s a really easy process thanks to Pro Tools and other software. You can get loops locked in with the utmost precision — even zooming in on the waveforms to make sure the snare attacks are lined up exactly — in mere minutes, and it you need to, you can do pitch adjustment to make sure everything is in perfect key with everything else.
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