Sample Snitch-I Choose You and the Willie Hutch effect on hip hop
by Willie Hutch
The chorus for I Choose You has been lifted by countless rap icons from Project Pat, Wiz Khalifa and most famously UGK on Int’l Playaz Anthem (I Choose You) featuring Outkast. Willie Hutch infused his music with qualities that not only secure his music as timeless but leave a prime candidate for sampling.
As a teenager Hutch was in a doo-wop group called The Ambassadors and that form requires a tightness and discipline in the songwriting as well as the execution. A skill set that would come in handy as he transitioned to writing, producing, and arranging songs for The 5th Dimension. When he signed to RCA he actually wrote the lyrics to I’ll Be There for The Jackson 5. Writing for Motown under producers like Hal Davis demands that precision and he was so good at it Berry Gordy singed him to be staff writer, arranger, producer and musician (played guitar).
This is all to say that by the time Willie put his first solo album (Soul Portrait) out in 1969 he had a rock solid foundation in the structure of melody. The album is a seamless showcase of a perfectionist’s attention to the groove. This is all to say that I Choose You is not accidentally glorious and pimpish. He made the song for the iconic Blaxploitation film The Mack starring Max Julien and Richard Pryor. It had to soar and make Cadillac’s feel like spaceships. He knew he could draw his voice out and kick it up a notch when the horns came in.
It makes total sense that the best Southern Rap collaboration of all time happened over the pillowy pitch-perfect harmony he organized. Every word Pimp C says is dynamic and arresting (even the offensive stuff…especially the offensive stuff) Bun B is ice cold Andre is earnest emotional poetic and Big Boi bubbles.
So think about it this way: Hutch and others like Isaac Hayes cut their teeth in the back room cranking out hits before they were able to grow into their solo voice but by the time they did…they were at an advantage of experience. Keep that in mind when a new inexperienced kid takes over the world after one song; that is the world putting them at a disadvantage. When Hutch experimented, loosened the reigns and got funky he knew how to do it and never suffered the disadvantage of not knowing when it got sloppy. I Choose You is the culmination of a lot of work and when you hear it make that your reference point.
Int’l Playaz Anthem (I Choose You) by UGK and Outkast
Willie Hutch-I Choose You
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Tagged I Choose You, Int'l Playaz Anthem, Max Julien, Outkast, Project Pat, Sample Snitch, Soul Portrait, soundtracks, The Mack, UGK, Willie Hutch, Wiz Khalifa
Song of The Year-Born To Shine by Big Boi & Phantogram featuring Run The Jewels produced by Phantogram
Run The Jewels might be the most exciting thing happening in rap music right now and it’s probably, at some level, Big Boi’s fault. El-P’s flow going back to the Rawkus Records days was always fast and hard to hear. I remember looking up lyrics and being blown away at the stuff he was saying (that I just couldn’t understand). Working with Killer Mike has taught him when to stamp down on the right word or accentuate a phrase. El now has gears and can shift down or up. Who is the most likely person to who have taught Killer Mike that?
em>Big Grams (the seven song collaboration between Phantogram and Big Boi) needs to be heard by anyone with any positive Outkast history. Big Boi is in a really interesting lyrical place. The first words he speaks on Big Grams are “I need another lover…like I need another hole in the side of my temple.” As he’s gotten older the player lifestyle weighs heavier with more worry than pay off. So while his flow still coils up and explodes, the words are pregnant with a lot of evolving personal gender philosophy.
Killer Mike’s first line of his first verse on Born To Shine will go down in the books as one of 2015’s very best greetings “I walk in Ric Flairin’ long fur coat wearin’ rolex rockin’ silk shirt wearin’ silk socks an’ balls need to breathe so bitch the drawers cotton…” talk about painting a picture. By the end of a Killer Mike verse your adrenaline levels have changed. El-P is having so much fun he actually says “without coins I’m a magical bloke…” which makes me laugh every time I hear it.
Any precious hipster making the argument that Big Boi sounds “weird” with Run The Jewels and they shouldn’t have features with him sucks and shouldn’t own headphones. Run The Jewels wouldn’t exist without the love Big Boi has for Mike as well as the love he’s always fostered in everyone he knows for any kind of music that’s dope. Big Boi has the highest Rock IQ of any rapper alive. Everyone is better around him.
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Tagged 2015 albums, Big Boi, Big Grams, El-P, hip hop, Killer Mike, Outkast, Phantogram, Ric Flair, Run The Jewels, song of the year