Filed under: Features,Not Your Average,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Outrun in 1986
The rap remake is always a dicey proposition. Grabbing an old classic beat can be an easy way to get a few spins, but it can either leave the crowd grinning as they catch a flashback or pissed-off to hear an old favourite butchered. Although this technique has been around for years, I’ve noticed that high-profile producers like Just Blaze seem to be employing the remake with increasing regularity.
One of the biggest records to reference an old classic was Joe Budden‘s “Pump It Up”, which saw JB flipping the break used for the “Scenario” remix. This wasn’t really a big deal though, since Marley Marl had actually beaten Tribe Called Quest to the punch when he first used the beat for LL Cool J‘s “Cheesy Rat Blues” in 1990, and Just’s version was based around a heavy percussion track that interpolated the horn riff. This one gets a pass.
A Tribe Called Quest featuring L.O.N.S. & Kid Hood – “Scenario (remix)”
Joe Budden – “Pump It Up”
Next up is the gospel break that first saw the light of day as a skit on OC‘s Word…Life, which served as the foundation for Black Moon‘s attempted comeback single “Stay Real”. It also appeared on The Black Album and resulted in Evil Dee accusing Just of chomping his shit. The verdict? I doubt it was a bite, more likely they buy breaks from the same record dealer and money had doubles….or maybe it turned up on a bootleg compilation or some shit. As far as who flipped it nicer….I like both versions. Jay‘s version is appropriatley brash, loud and gleaming, while Buckshot‘s is gritty and sombre.
Black Moon – “Stay Real”
Jay-Z – “Public Service Announcement”
The two examples that I find a little more troubling are Blaze’s work on both of The Game‘s albums. “No More Fun & Games” The Documentary featured the loop first made famous on EPMD‘s triumphant third album, with little difference except for a shitty “futuristic” keyboard sound over the top and the bridge, while “The Remedy” remakes “Black Steel” faithfully. Unless The Game requested that JB loop both of the beats since he liked the originals so much, I can’t help but think he kinda phoned-in both of these tracks. The again, why the fuck would you waste your best beats on a hump like Game anyway? Maybe these two are deliberate throwaways.
EPMD – “For My People”
The Game – “No More Fun & Games”
Public Enemy – “Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos”
The Game – “The Remedy”
It’s worth noting that I’m not a fan of the over-produced sound of many rap records in recent years, and I often prefer to hear someone ripping shit over a raw, repetitive loop rather than having fifty different samples popping off, but when it’s already been looped effectively it’s pushing the friendship a bit.
UPDATE: Before anyone else writes an essay on here about the history of sampling, let’s remember that it’s not 1987 anymore, and I’m not complaining about different people using the same break. But if you’re going to flip “7 Minutes of Funk”, “Apache” or even “Superfreak”, then here’s a few good examples of how to do it right:
Busta Rhymes – “What The Fuck You Want!!” (Produced by Diamond D)
Nas – “Made You Look” (Produced by Salaam Remi)
NYG’z – “Giantz Ta This” (Produced by DJ Premier)
Jay-Z – “Kingdom Come” (Produced By Just Blaze)
If nothing else, those four songs prove that a quality chop can make even the most played-out break sound new again.
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