The Manhattans were a soul group out of Jersey City, NJ. I guess the Jersey Cities didn’t have the same ring to it as their New York-inspired group name… They had an incredibly successful career due to their ability to adapt to whatever sound was popular at the time. Starting with doo-wop inspired R&B, they morphed into more traditional soul, up-tempo, disco, and eventually 80′s R&B – similar to groups like The Spinners or The Four Tops. The album Love Talk was released in 1979, when they were already well established. The album didn’t contain any hits, but did contain the ballad “Devil in the Dark” which was sampled by the master DJ Premier.
Premo flipped a very small piece, about 1 minute into the ballad, for the classic Gang Starr track “Work” off of Moment of Truth. Premier EQ’d the sample in such a way that the vocals are hidden from the loop. He layered over some trademark boom-bap drums and added in a horn hit from the Apocalypse Now Soundtrack. Throw in Guru’s (RIP) verses and you have a certified banger. Take a listen to the original to see how it was flipped.
Vic Juris is a Jazz guitarist from Parsippany, NJ (Jersey stand up!). Being that he was a local cat, that’s probably why I was able to find this record as I don’t think it had wide distribution. Style-wise, Vic is similar to George Benson and Wes Montgomery. His album Horizon Drive was released on the Muse label in 1980. The title track was sampled by the master DJ Premier for the Gang Starr classic “Mass Appeal“.
“Horizon Drive” is proof that DJ Premier has a unique ear for samples. The small loop made famous by Gang Starr doesn’t pop up till 3+ minutes into the 7 minute song. Most people would have skipped over it and left this album in their wack records pile. Not Premo – he looped and slowed down the sample and Guru spit some classic verses over it. Check out the original to see why DJ Premier is who he is.
Lloyd Price was a 1950′s R&B star with several hits. He changed styles quite frequently throughout his long music career, later making funk and soul. After his business partner was murdered, he moved to Africa and actually helped Don King promote some Muhammad Ali fights!? His track “They Get Down” was used by legend DJ Premier.
Big Shug, one of the members of the Gangstarr Foundation, has a few solo albums and singles with Premo. A little known underground single from 1999, “The Jig Is Up” utilizes the Lloyd Price track. Check it out.
All glocks down! Why am I posting up a Heather B song? This one happens to be produced by none other than DJ Premier. Heather B and Premo have worked together before and even released a single through his Works of Mart label. Their best work is from the track “Guilty“. “Steady Rockin” is lesser known. It’s a different type of beat than we’re used to, but Heather does a nice job of spittin over it. I don’t believe this song was ever released outside of a rare 12-inch single from the early 2000′s.
For those of you who don’t know (or remember) Heather B was actually a cast member on MTV’s first season of “Real World“. She’s from New Jersey so I let her slide with that one…
John Dankworth was a British Jazz composer / saxophonist. He recorded since the 1950′s and worked frequently with Jazz legend Duke Ellington. Aside from his solo/group work, he composed several soundtracks for film and TV. No stranger to being sampled, some of his work has been used by Big L and The Gorillaz. His album The $1,000,000 Collection on Fontana records contains the sampled cut “Two-Piece Flower“, used for Gang Starr’s “Above the Clouds”.
Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth is one of my favorite Hip-Hop albums of all time and was one of the last great LP’s of the 90′s. Aside from some dope tracks, the album brought together some interesting collaborations including Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck. Not sure how this collabo came to be, but it’s one of Deck’s best verses.
DJ Premier chopped the intro to Dankworth’s cut in a way only he could. The clarinet hits go perfect over Premier’s boom-bap drums while Guru (R.I.P.) and Deck trade verses. Check out the original cut.
The Artistics were a soul group out of Chicago. They were singed to Brunswick records and had a few minor hits for them before disbanding in 1973. Their album “(I Want You To) Make My Live Over” actually had some big name producers/arrangers such as Willie Henderson (Chi-Lites, Barbara Acklin), Carl Davis, Johnny Pate, and Eugene Record (lead vocalist of the Chi-Lites). The Artistics cover of Burt Bacharach‘s standard “What the World Needs Now” was flipped by DJ Premier for Rakim‘s “When I Be on the Mic“.
This is one of those joints only DJ Premier could flip. He took the small piano hits in between the vocals to create the main loop for Rakim. The single couldn’t have come at a better time for the God MC. It was his second “come-back” album and he needed a name like Premo to get attention. The album overall was lack-luster but had a few gems. This was one of them.
There are very few official GangStarr remixes in existance. Many of the real remixes are by DJ Premier himself. Fortunately, this one comes to us from the maestro himself, Large Professor AKA Extra P. The original version of “Got to Get Over” appeared on the soundtrack to non-hip hop related movie Trespass (even though it stars Ice T). The remix appeared on the 12-inch single of the track but unfortunately, I don’t own it. Instead, I copped the remix on a white label/bootleg release “Underground Classics – The Extra P Files“. The remix gives a totally different feel to the track and goes really well with the king of monotone – Guru. Check it out.
Marc Hannibal is a true renaissance man. After leaving the military, he joined the Harlem Globe Trotters as a basketball player. After his sports career, he appeared in several television shows and movies. Finally, in the 70′s he decided to record some albums as a singer. While he was able to act and play ball, I’m not so sure about his singing. His debut self titled album has a very pop/easy listening sound featuring his very low voice on top – sounding like the Cowardly Lion from Wizard of Oz. DJ Premier somehow heard a classic in the intro of “Forever is a long, long time” and crafted the instrumental to Royce Da 5’9‘s “Boom“.
The first time many people heard of Royce was from his duo single with Eminem (Bad Meets Evil) “Nuthin’ to Do / Scary Movies” on Game Recordings. For a brief time, Game Recordings was a serious underground record label contender and definetely helped boost Alchemist‘s career. Shortly after Bad Meets Evil, Royce solidified his status as a dope underground MC with the Alchemist-produced single, “I’m The King“. Finally, he dropped his classic “Boom” produced by DJ Premier.
There are actually 2 versions of the single to “Boom“. The original featured a trademark scratched DJ Premier hook. The 2nd (and extremely wack) version was released much later to help promote Royce’s solo album “Rock City“. It replaced Premier’s hook with vocals from Royce and some female – “Somebody better duck or run, watch out cause we ’bout to blow up“. For those that remember, for a brief moment, the label was trying to commercialize Royce’s image. He eventually returned to his underground roots by joining Slaughterhouse (thankfully).