Friday Flips #6–“Cosmic Ark”

Written by DJ Enki on August 10, 2012 – 8:19 pm -

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.

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“Mann Up”

Written by DJ Enki on March 30, 2012 – 5:56 pm -

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.

Friday Flips #6: “Build and Destroy”

Written by DJ Enki on March 23, 2012 – 9:31 pm -

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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Friday Flips #5: “Shadowboxin'”

Written by DJ Enki on December 16, 2011 – 10:15 pm -

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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Friday Flips #4: “Down-Ass Zaggin”

Written by DJ Enki on November 11, 2011 – 9:10 pm -

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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Friday Flips #3: “Check Yo Self”

Written by DJ Enki on November 4, 2011 – 7:41 pm -

The Song: “Check Yo Self” by Ice Cube
The Producer: DJ Muggs
The Science: Let me just state this up front: I am a HUGE fan of DJ Muggs’ work, particularly what he was doing in the early to mid-1990s. If I ever got a chance to chop it up with that dude, it’d probably turn into my own version of The Chris Farley Show. “Do you…uh…d’you remember when you, uh…when you made ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’?” That…that was awesome.” He had a signature sound, a tremendous knack for picking out and matching up samples, fantastic SP1200 programming skills (don’t overlook this–his technical prowess is integral to his sound), and a great ear for composition. That first Cypress Hill album (which I’m sure will turn up quite a bit in this column) is a veritable master class in sample-based production.

But for this post, I’m not talking about a Cypress record, I’m talking about a record he did with Ice Cube for Cube’s The Predator album: “Check Yo Self.”
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Friday Flips #2: “Nut”

Written by DJ Enki on October 14, 2011 – 8:53 pm -

The song: “Nut” by Tuff Crew
The producer: Tuff Crew (DJ Too Tuff)
The science: Tuff Crew’s 1989 LP, Back to Wreck Shop, is one of those best-kept-secret albums. Most hip-hop heads from that era know it, and most who know it really like it, but it still rarely turns up on many Top 10/20/50 lists, in part because, well, a lot of great albums were coming out at that time, so it kinda gets lost in the shuffle. So while it’s not an album whose name is on everybody’s list, it’s an album people would do well to give plenty of bump to. The rhyming on Back to Wreck Shop is solid, but it often gets overshadowed by DJ Too Tuff’s fantastic scratching (he tears it up on pretty much every track) and the top-notch production.
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Friday Flips #1: “King Sun with the Sword”

Written by DJ Enki on October 7, 2011 – 7:54 pm -

If you’ve been checking out the ego trip website (and if you haven’t, that’s when ya lost!), then you’ve probably noticed a semi-regular feature they do about “[fill in producer here]’s favorite sample flips.” It’s a really cool feature for beat heads, and reading the takes of people like DJ Spinna, Prince Paul, and Da Beatminerz is definitely interesting stuff. The posts always get me wound up to talk about sample flips, breakbeat/sampling nerd that I am, so I figured I may as well do my own series about sample flips here. So it is with that in mind that I present to you the inaugural post in the Friday Flips series, a (hopefully) weekly feature about the beats that make me say “daaaaamn!” like Tha Alkaholiks. First up: An amazing piece of work Tony D did for King Sun.
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