#SampleSnitch-You are who you sample: Isley Brothers to UGK
If a rapper who produces is selecting the same artist to sample over the course of their career you start to see the connection. The latest example is Kanye West and Nina Simone (http://www.vinylmeplease.com/magazine/kanye-west-sings-blues/ great in depth article on that) the two share that kind of driving-off-a-cliff-but-surviving genius. In the case of UGK it becomes apparent that they made their bones on Isley Brothers samples.
The debut full length studio album from UGK is called Too Hard to Swallow and features three Isley Brothers pulls: Summer Breeze as the co-foundation for Tell Me Something Good, Between The Sheets two years before Biggie used it on Cramping My Style, and I Turned You On for I’m So Bad. UGK were a fearless revelation with songs like Cocaine in the Back of the Ride and Pocket Full of Stones scaling back the horrorcore of early Geto Boys in a way that made them more frightening…cause Pimp didn’t sound like he was writing fiction and Bun didn’t sound like he let his feelings get in the way of anything.
Four years later UGK put out one of hip hop’s flawless treasures in Ridin’ Dirty. Being from Maine I didn’t hear it in 1996, I went into the Army and got stationed at Ft. Hood Texas. That is when I rode in my first Cadillac and when my friend played me One Day for the first time. He hit repeat twice until it soaked our bones. Instead of the ball busting ferocity and relentless aggression One Day is a step back appreciation of the finite nature of our life. Bun B trips through childhood, lost friends, sin, prison all with the assured linguistics and breathe control of a king. Pimp at about a minute and thirty left in the song does one of his trademark shockingly honest admissions “My man Bobo just lost his baby in a house fire/and when I got on my knees that night to pray/I asked God ‘Why you let these killas live and take my homeboy’s son away?’/ Man if you got kids, show em you love em cause God just might call em home,” It is heart stopping. I used to go to cook outs in Texas (or later in my duty station in Korea) and put this song on just to watch everyone stop & turn their attention to it. You have to.
You have to because of Ronald Isley’s magnificently fragile voice chiming in from the last song on their 1974 album Live It Up. The song is called Ain’t I Been Good to You and the album is important because it is in the sweet spot of The Isley format: dance banger-slow jam-mid-tempo-funk then repeat. The other reason One Day can’t be ignored is because of Ernie and Marvin Isley. Marvin’s bass is just monstrous and Ernie is credited on the album with “percussion, drums, acoustic guitar, electric guitar” the rhythm section is all time electric making it damn near impossible not to groove. For those who don’t know Pimp had a big hand (along with the legendary N.O. Joe) with producing all UGK music. He knew that Ronald’s voice would give you pause just like he knew Ernie and Marvin’s groove would keep you nodding your head. UGK created music that wasn’t for the club or the backpack, rider music for car speakers, for moments like the first time I heard it. They couldn’t have done it without the Isley bump and none of them would have a problem saying that.
The Isley Brothers original:
The UGK version:
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Tagged Aint I Been Good To You, Bun-B, Ernie Isley, funk, Geto Boys, Isley Brothers, Marvin Isley, One Day, Pimp C, Ronald Isley, Sample Snitch, UGK, Underground Kingz
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
Sample Snitch-Rick Ross, Scarface, Ice Cube, The Stylistics and Thom Bell—hip hop’s relationship to the song People Make The World Go Round
The name you need to know is Thom Bell. Philadelphia Soul is known for its grand production, the downside being major name producers treated the singers as dispensable. The notion became “over this production any reasonable voice is going to sound good.” Thom Bell is the man behind the curtain for not just The Stylistics but The Delfonics and The Spinners.
The missing element for Bell who wrote and produced (Linda Creed co-wrote the classic Stylistics stuff) was the impressive other-worldly falsetto leadership of Russell Thompkins Jr. and the end result was the Stylistics self-titled 1971 album. It is one of the very best in the history of R&B, damn near every song is a recognizable classic.
Hip hop has an intimate relationship with People Make The World Go Round. WC, Ice Cube, and Mack 10 remade it into Gangstas Make The World Go Round in 1996, Scarface into Money Makes the World Go Round in 1997. In 2017 Rick Ross’s second single I Think She Like Me featuring Ty Dolla Sign takes the original whole with a slight strengthening of the original baseline. Can you blame him? People Make The World Go Round is the epitome of that 1970’s Cadillac R &B fully formed unabashedly pimpish. While Rather You Than Me will forever be known as the album he dissed Birdman on (very successfully), it’s kind of his Blueprint full of soulful horns and expertly used R & B singer features(Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq), leveraged against thumping snarling takeover music(Dead Presidents, She on My Dick, Summer Seventeen). It really does represent all the things he does well done at their highest level.
Most remakes of People make The World Go Round leave the vocals off, dining on Bell’s soundscape whole hog. Ross kept Thompkins dynamic falsetto in the loop. He didn’t want to conceal how much he owed to the original vision of Bell. Ross wants you to know how dope it was when he first heard it.
Westside Connection version
Rick Ross featuring Ty Dolla Sign
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Tagged Anthony Hamilton, Gangstas Make The World Go Round, Ice Cube, Linda Creed, Money Makes The World Go Round, People Make The World Go Round, Philadelphia Soul, Raphael Saadiq, Rather You Than Me, Rick Ross, Russell Thompkins Jr, Sample Snitch, scarface, The Stylistics, Thom Bell, Ty Dolla $ign, Westside Connection
Sample Snitch-The Look of Love by Isaac Hayes: connecting Jay-z & Irv Gotti to Burt Bacharach
Isaac Hayes is a goldmine if you get over how weird the situation is. This is the guy who wrote nearly all the important Stax records radio hits but nearly all of his important solo tracks are folk or pop songs we consider corny, given the Hayes treatment. The Hayes treatment means it was originally four minutes long and now its eleven minutes long with minutes upon minutes of Pet Sounds layered funk, shifting tempos and lyrics that just creep in and out of it. The Look of Love was originally written by Burt Bacharach while watching Ursula Andress in the 1967 Bond spoof Casino Royale. He gave the song to Dusty Springfield who nailed a breathy version that got her an Oscar nomination. This song became very important for R&B. The Delfonics did it on their 1968 album La La Means I Love You and The Four Tops did it a year later. Hayes took it on a year after that (1970).
From the first second to about one minute and forty eight seconds of the Hayes version…that’s the guts of Can I Live, possibly Jay’s lyrical high point on Reasonable Doubt (a fun thing to argue about). This is perfect for sampling. It’s no coincidence that Hayes, James Brown, P-Funk, and the Isley Brothers were most sampled in early rap. You could make the case that these were groups everyone listened to growing up and you’d be partially right. The other part is that all these acts worked on extending the song (wordlessly). James Brown had long stretches where he was just letting the band go off while he didn’t say anything. Those seconds are prime cut and paste moments for beat creation.
Obviously this isn’t anything Hayes had in mind. He was trying to prove that the song is bigger than itself. You can think that The Look of Love is cheesy because the words prove it but a song is so much more than the words. By the seventh minute you are so deep in guitar solo you don’t care if the song ends. It’s a city of musical elements with the groove carrying the torch through the center. Isaac Hayes made Dionne Warwick songs into Operas and Burt Bacharach songs so alive that they birthed Jay the way we know him; because he wouldn’t be who he is now without that sample. If you think I’m editorializing find the Reasonable Doubt documentary and listen to Irv Gotti tell the story of him playing Jay the sample for the first time. He had the look of love alright.
Check out the Hayes Look of Love
Now listen to the Jay-z version
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Tagged Burt Bacharach, Casino Royale, Delfonics, Dusty Springfield, Irv Gotti, Isaac Hayes, Isley Brothers, James Brown, Jay-Z, La La Means I Love You, Look of Love, P-Funk, Pet Sounds, Reasonable Doubt, Reasonable Doubt documentary, Sample Snitch, Stax Records, The Four Tops, Ursula Andress
Sample Snitch: The connection between Jimmy Cagney and E-40 (Back in Business 2010/White Heat 1949)
The movie White Heat from 1949 is a defining moment in film noir. The main character, Arthur “Cody” Jarrett is not only a robber but suffers from headaches he started faking as a kid to get his mothers attention. It’s Cagney at his least cool: as a short, nervy, seething, deeply mentally ill character who seems to feed off the uneasiness of the characters around him. It’s definitely most famous for its finale where Cody explodes atop a gigantic gas storage tank yelling “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” but historically this reckless feeling movie kicked down the barriers of how weird a crime movie could be. How a main character could be uncool and unhinged while remaining dynamic and strong.
E-40’s son Droop-E made full use of the demented glee (and the dramatic music that precedes it) in Cagney’s voice for a tightly looped sample that is the basis for Back in Business the super sensational silly banger off of 40’s 2010 album Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift.
If Jay is Bogart, E-40 makes sense as rap musics exploding ball of energy Cagney. Every frame of White Heat that Cody stands in buzzes with communicative energy; pouring every single iota of himself into the way his lips curl upward. Back in Business has that energy partially because Droop-E provides an ear drum test of a baseline but a lot of it has to do with the elasticity of his fathers amazing flow. He starts the track calm and ends it creating multiple voices, asking himself questions and its way over the top. Silly as all get out but boy is it fun. I recommend you play this loud in your vehicle on the drive home after working Friday’s shift.
listen to Back In Business here:
check out Cagney losing his mind:
by the way watching Cody go off his nut is Edmond O’Brien who starred in his own film noir classic D.O.A. you have to see that if you ever liked film noir.
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Tagged Back In Business, D.O.A., Droop-E, E-40, Edmond O'Brien, film noir, Jimmy Cagney, movie samples in hip hop, Revenue Retrievin':Day Shift, Sample Snitch, top of the world ma, west coast hip hop, White Heat
Sample Snitch: Kanye West-Power/King Crimson-21st Century Schizoid Man
We all know that hip hop has pillaged the catalog of Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown, The Isley Brothers and countless other soul/R&B acts. That’s how most of us learn about sampling. Someone plays The Isley Brothers song Between The Sheets and you stop cold like “this is Biggie…” face twisted in confusion. Sample Snitch is a column that seeks to shine the spotlight not on the super identifiable samples but the weirder ones that may have snuck past the standard listener.
Power is one of the most iconic lead singles in recent memory. At least half the reason for its 2010 success(and some of the success of the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) goes back to the 1969 Progressive rock classic album In The Court of The Crimson King by King Crimson. King Crimson sound fresh as hell today. They were amongst the first to put some distance between themselves and the blues influence that trained The Rolling Stones or The Beatles.
On their debut In The Court of The Crimson King their sonic stew was fashioned to be as spooky as the insincere occult Zepplin vibe or Tony Iommi’s death march guitar work for Black Sabbath. It’s the first use of Jazz elements in Rock to further that spooky vibe (as far as I know, that could be me talking out of my butt). That sample leading the chorus on 21st Century Schizoid Man is something all hip hop fans are going to remember. I wrote this because I would love for all the fans that know how great Power is to know how crazy dope the original song that sample was pulled from is. You don’t have to take my word for it just press play.
21st Centurey Schizoid Man
Did you see that first lyric King Crimson shout out? Now you know.
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Tagged 21st Century Schizoid Man, Black Sabbath, important hip hop samples, important hip hop singles, In The Court of The Crimson King, jazz elements in rock, kanye west, King Crimson, Led Zepplin, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Power, Progressive Rock, Sample Snitch, Tony Iommi