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.
It’s been a while since an “official” update. Sorry for the delays… been working hard promoting “Trapped in the 90′s“. Anyways, this latest break comes to you courtesy of The Imaginations. Unfortunately, there isn’t much info out there about the group. They released 2 albums on 20th Century records and were produced by Tom Tom 74, better known as Tom Tom 84 or Tom Washington. For those that don’t know, he’s arranged for numerous soul acts, such as Chi-Lites, The Independents, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
The Alchemist used The Imaginations cut “Ballad of Matheia” for Ghostface’s classic tale of cartoons, “The Forest” featuring Raekwon. While he oftens gets credited for the first hip-hop song about cartoons, those old enough to remember know that Ice Cube, Coolio(?!), and Funkdoobiest had touched on the subject before. For the bonus trivia fact, there is actually an alternate version of “The Forest” that was released on the promo version of Bulletproof Wallets (the same one with “The Sun”). The alternate version contains a “hook” in the middle of the song, where Ghostface sings “my wallos” (wallabees) to the same tune of “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow“. I’m pretty sure it was omitted from the final version of the album since it was terrible.
Regardless, check out the dope, soulful cut by The Imaginations.
“Once you heard Wu, outta the blue, now your family’s from Shaolin…” – Ghostface Killa
If you were outside of the New York area in 1995 when these lines were said by Ghost, you probably have no idea what he was talking about. If you were in the area, you might have some idea. Aside from Wu-Tang affiliated groups like Sunz of Man or Killarmy, a bunch of Staten Island rappers started name dropping “Shaolin” in the mid-90′s. The underground was flooded with 12-inch singles featuring Wu-Tang inspired music and styles. Now Born Click was one of those groups.
I don’t have much info on Now Born Click, other than there were 3 members and they were from a section of Staten Island known as New Brighton (next to Wu-Tang’s Stapleton). They have a few singles, this being the first – “Now Born Soldiers (Remix)“. Check out some rare Staten Island Hip-Hop from 1995. No production credits, but the beat uses the same sample as Busta Rhymes “Everything Remains Raw“.
Back in the day when people still bought music, record labels released some pretty interesting promotional albums. One of the better promotional albums was Ill Style Live by Elektra East/West Records released in 1995. The album featured live performances by the Elektra label roster includng Juggaknotz, Deda Baby Pa, Supernatural, Das EFX, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
ODB was arguably the most popular artist on Elektra at the time and got a full 22 minute set, taking up 1 full side of an LP. Not enough can be said about his set – it’s classic Ol’ Dirty Bastard. ODB complains about being interrupted during sex to perform, devils sabotaging his music, and general craziness. My personal favorite rant is when he starts to complain the DJ is messing up his set. He’s soon cut off and told “yo, that’s Pete Rock…“. He quickly changes his tune and gives props to Pete Rock, who was also on Elektra at the time.
The set consists of a lengthy freestyle featuring Buddha Monk and 60 Second Assassin, followed by “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Brooklyn Zoo“. Listen long enough and you’ll even hear some singing, which for a bunch of rappers, isn’t half bad. Check it out for glimpse into what an Ol’ Dirty performance was like.
Malo (Spanish for “bad“) is an interesting group out of San Francisco, CA. Their sound fused elements of traditional Latin rhythms, American rock, Jazz, and Soul/R&B. One of the group’s founding members, Jorge Santana is Carlos Santana‘s less-famous brother. Despite being a “Latin” group, their single “Suavecito” was actually a top 20 hit in the United States. Inspectah Deck used the track “Peace” off their debut album for his cut “It’s Not a Game“.
Mondee is credited as producer for “It’s Not a Game“, which appeared on Deck’s second solo effort “The Resident Patient“. The Rebel INS abandoned his highly-lyrical, high-pitched voice style for a more thug/street sound on this semi-decent album released in 2006. Wu fans will continue to patiently wait for the return of the “I Bomb Atomically” Deck we know and love. In the meantime, check out the cut by Malo.
Freda Payne is best known for her hit “Band of Gold” from 1970. She was signed to the short-lived record label Invictus (early home of George Clinton work). For those that don’t know, Invictus was ran by the hit making team, Holland-Dozier. After leaving the label, her popularity began to decline. However, she still records, performs, and has appeared in several films recently (like The Nutty Professor 2?!).
The RZA decided to use a vocal sample from her cut “The Road We Didn’t Take” for Wu-Tang Clan’s “Life Changes” – a tribute to the late/great Ol’ Dirty Bastard. If you’re looking for the main piano loop in the Freda Payne song, you won’t find it. Rza (or a studio musician) replayed the keys for the loop. Regardless, the song is still a dope soul cut by itself. Check it out.
Female vocalist Jean Plum only released a hand full of singles, but they are highly sought after, after being sampled by the likes of The Alchemist. Most of her work has been re-issued on compilations, if you’re into that sort of thing (which I’m clearly not…)
Wu-Tang Clan owes a huge debt to Willie Mitchell, who is responsible for the trademark sound of Hi Records that they loved to sample during their prime. He produced the cut “Back To You” which was used by GZA/Genius “Beneath The Surface“. The loop kicks in at about 2:15 into the song. Oddly enough, the beat is credited to being produced by Inspectah Deck, although I’m sure he had some help from either RZA or 4th Disciple.
Wu-Tang is no stranger to Thelma Houston‘s disco hit “Don’t Leave Me This Way“. They flipped the intro for Killah Priest‘s “Tai Chi“. However, RZA used it first for GZA‘s classic single about record label woes – “Labels“.
It’s extremely hard to catch, but if you listen closely you can hear it burried beneath the loud drums/bass of “Labels”. RZA looped/triggered one of the last bars of the intro. For anyone with an untrained ear, I posted some audio below to listen how it was chopped. I also filtered the main loop of the GZA track so it’s easier to hear. Enjoy.