13 posts categorized "E-diggin'"

January 27, 2014

BeatTips MusicStudy: Ahmad Jamal Trio - "Darn That Dream"

Genius and the Intimate Intensity of an After Hours Lounge

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

The beatmaking community/culture shares a number of similarities to the jazz community of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Both communities/cultures were comprised of what I like to call "anonymous heroes," acclaimed musicians not necessarily known by the general public or even the broader musical scene, yet fervently respected among their peers. Another parallel that I also like to draw between the jazz and beatmaking communities deals with the appreciation of the music itself.

In this video of the Ahmad Jamal Trio, you can't help but be struck by the sheer reverence and appreciation for the music. The incredible talent of the Ahmad Jamal Trio notwithstanding, one gets the feeling that performances like these were as much comfort zone, therapeutic sessions for the musicians as they were rare moments of musical genius. I find this akin to the road many beatmakers follow today.

Under the masterful leadership of Ahmad Jamal (piano), the trio, balanced out by Israel Crosby (bass), and Vernel Fournier (drums), cooked up a sort of smoky lounge blues: something intimate and certain yet more alluring because of the "3am setting" that seemed to encompass their sound. The Ahmad Jamal Trio's music was thrilling not for a number of obvious frills (often found in quartets and larger outfits) but for its various subtle challenges.

With "Darn That Dream," presented for MusicStudy, you truly hear what makes the Ahmad Jamal trio so unique. Jamal's piano is airy and roomy, his phrasing—spaced well as usual—glides more than it rumbles. But the impact of each of his notes are strong still the same. Crosby's bass is steady, swinging in time to the various ghost notes that Jamal plays. And Fournier's drums shuffle along with a perched subtlety, occasionally rapping the snare with a punch and a light jab. Indeed, the Ahamad Trio doesn't as much as soar here with "Darn That Dream" as they do float.

The music alone is a treasure, but the video footage below is absolutely priceless. In addition to paying close attention to the musicians, notice the onlookers.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Ahmad Jamal Trio - "Darn That Dream" 1959

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted name in beatmaking."

September 24, 2012

BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds, Vol. 4

Record Gems with Open Drum Sounds

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

I'm a strong advocate for using custom drum sounds. And although I have no issue with stock drum sounds (I've used stock drums in the past, and I have no problem with using them in the future) I believe that one of the most effective ways of creating your own style and sound is through the use of your own customized drum sounds.

That being said, I will be compiling an ongoing list—the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds—of ALL of the records that I (and many others) have found to be great for drum sounds. For each installment or volume of the list, I will try to post at least five songs. Furthermore, this list will also include those songs that I have studied as a guide for drum pattern arrangements. And it is my hope that the songs on this list well help serve as a guide for those who want to tune the drum sounds that they already have to the sounds showcased on this list.

Finally, although some readers will note that there are some obvious choices that should be on this list, please bear with me, as I will be rolling out this list periodically without, necessarily, any preference to the most well-known "break-beats" (this is not a list of break-beat records). In fact, I suspect some songs on this ongoing list will surprise some of you. But after a "full-listen" of the record, you'll see just why it earned a spot. Still as always, I invite discussion. So any and all suggestions, whether well-known or obscure, are certainly welcome.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Mavis Staple & William Bell – “I Thank You”

Were you looking for some bongos? I mean some funky bongos! with the ill sonic quality? Well, this Mavis Staple & William Bell delivers. Bongos and bongo/tambourine :0 -:10 mark. Open! Also, peep how the tambourine lands on top of the snare. Great lesson for how layering should sound.



The Sylvers – “I Remember”

All right, I'm sure some of you will get drawn in by the intro and other phrases on this joint. So have it—flip it any way that you can. But "remember", I'm sharing this joint primarily for the drum sounds. And the snare at the :08 mark is nice. Would go well in anyone's arsenal. I have it in mine. Of course, I further customized it. P.S., peep the kick and snare pattern, the time and the off-steadiness is a real lesson in drum programming.



Isaac Hayes - Use me

In this fantastic cover of Bill Wither’s “Use Me,” Isaac Hayes takes the original and opens up with a broader arrangement. Present here is a juiced-up brass section, a lively organ, and a wah wah guitar, all are elements missing from Whithers’ original. Although Hayes gives the number his quintessential lounge-funk touch, the basic feel and melody of the original still survives. This re-imagining of Withers’ subdued, acoustic guitar-led soul with heavy electric power rocks and jabs where the originally mostly coasted. Check out the Kick, snare, and mini break at the :29 - :31 mark

---
The BeatTips Manual by Amir Said (Sa'id).
"The most trusted name in beatmaking."

August 22, 2012

BeatTips MusicStudy: Bobby Boyd Congress - "Dig Deep In Your Soul"

Early Funk From Obscure, Little-Known Band

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

One of the things that makes digging for "new" music so exhilarating and rewarding is the fact that you never know exactly what you're going to discover. Even if you're searching within a specific genre of music, the sheer number of recordings that may exist is staggering. And when it comes to funk music—particularly early funk, ca. 1965-1974—, the recorded output of music runs deep. A fact that's further made even more impressive when you consider the number obscure and lesser-known early funk bands who made only a few recordings during that time.

Bobby Boyd Congress certainly fits the category of "obscure" and "lesser-known" funk bands. To my knowledge, the only recording of the band is a 1970 self-titled album that they recorded in France. (You ever notice how France has always maintained a deep reference for quality American music, especially musics in the black American music tradition?) Still, I'm convinced that Bobby Boyd Congress, a quintessential New York funk band, made more recordings in or around New York City at the same time. Therefore, I believe (I gotta believe!) that somebody somewhere has something else of this superb funk outfit. And as long as I'm "diggin'," I won't give up trying to find it.

Finally, I'm compelled to mention that several months ago, a music professor (someone whom I hold in great regard) asked me about the relationship between the drum patterns of modern beatmaking and that of those of the early funk music typified here by Bobby Boyd Congress. Specifically, he believed that the relationship was less apparent in beatmaking in the early 1990s. I strongly disagreed. As I pointed out to him (and in my book, The BeatTips Manual, I show the link in greater historical detail), it was precisely the drum patterns of funk songs like Bobby Boyd Congress's "Dig Deep In Your Soul" that pioneering beatmakers like DJ Premier and Pete Rock drew their inspiration from.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Bobby Boyd Congress - "Dig Deep In Your Soul"

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted name in beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

March 31, 2012

BeatTips MusicStudy: Johnny Pate's "Bucktown" and the Drum Lessons of Soul, Funk, and Disco

To Understand Key Elements of the Drums in Soul, Funk, and Disco, It's Important to Be Familiar with those Music Forms

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

While many beatmakers might be aware of the connection between soul, funk, and disco to hip hop/rap music, it's not always so clear to see, or better yet to hear, exactly how soul/funk set the foundation for hip hop/rap music and beatmaking. Well, within the overall rhythmic influences of these musics, lies the most glaring connection: the drums.

Below I've included Johnny Pate's "Bucktown (Main Theme)," a song from the 1975 action ("blaxpoitation") flick Bucktown. I chose this song because it straddles soul, funk, and disco all at once; a sound that, in 1975, sat as a unique mix of the three forms right before the complete onslaught of disco. For our purposes here, with this song what you want to focus your attention on is the drum framework; you can hear the drums best between the 0:17 - 0:49 marks. Notice what it sounds like? If it were just the drums, wouldn't most describe it as a hip hop/rap drum beat? And therein lies the point...

Which brings me to this: I receive a number of emails and private messages in The BeatTips Community (TBC) from people concerned about making their drums "funky", "funkier", or "more soulful". Invariably, I always ask, "Well, are you listening to any funk or soul?" In every case that I've replied back with this question, the answer reply has always been the same..."No." Further, in every case, the answer have also included this, "I want my drums to sound like..." DJ Premier, Pete Rock, J Dilla...and so on.

Imagine wanting to talk (sound) like a supreme court justice or a successful corporate lawyer without ever studying jurisprudence (law theory, philosophy, etc.). Although the art of beatmaking and making music in general is altogether a different practice and culture, I find it just as ludicrous to want to make "funky" or "soulful" drums without ever studying or listening to funk or soul music.

When someone says that they want to make drums that sound like some of beatmaking's most notable pioneers, I get it. For many, it's just a reference point for the style and sound that they like; it's the zone in which they'd like to work from. Understandable. But what's usually lost in this oft-repeated statement is the fact that all of beatmaking's notable pioneers studied and listened to funk, soul, and disco. Though each pioneer ultimately emerged with their own unique style and sound (of course, they are all collectively representative of the same fundamental understanding), they did not arrive without clear guides from funk, soul, and disco drum arrangements.

But beatmaking pioneers notwithstanding, it's misleading to believe that one can understand how to inject soul music's influence into their beats, or make something funkier, or add a disco backbeat, while being completely unfamiliar with soul, funk, or disco. (How can one know to include key elements and stylings of musics that they've never listened to before?) Such a prospect is so fundamentally flawed that it can produce a false sense of musical understanding— something that can certainly disrupt the development of any beatmaker.

And while some beatmakers can perhaps clone a DJ Premier or Pete Rock drum pattern, this type of mimicry does not serve as a substitute for the original thing! For one, obviously mimicked styles stand as clear and unabashed cheap knock-offs of someone else, just mere shells of ideas without the essence or subtle nuances of the original creators. But worse, this form of mimicry mostly exists devoid of the caliber of knowledge, understanding, and general music appreciation that produced the original benchmarks.

This is why I believe that it's important that beatmakers not lose a sense of the fundamental connection that hip hop/rap music and the art of beatmaking has with the soul, funk, and disco music forms, especially when it comes to the drums in hip hop/rap music. With a strong sense of this connection, your production repertoire—no matter how varied, whether you're sample-based or not—will always retain its link to hip hop/rap's foundational elements. But without a sense of this connection, your production repertoire runs the risk of losing this crucial link.

The music below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted name in beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

October 11, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: Bobby Boyd Congress - "Dig Deep In Your Soul"

Early Funk From Obscure, Little-Known Band

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

One of the things that makes digging for "new" music so exhilarating and rewarding is the fact that you never know exactly what you're going to discover. Even if you're searching within a specific genre of music, the sheer number of recordings that may exist is staggering. And when it comes to funk music—particularly early funk, ca. 1965-1974—, the recorded output of music runs deep. A fact that's further made even more impressive when you consider the number obscure and lesser-known early funk bands who made only a few recordings during that time.

Bobby Boyd Congress certainly fits the category of "obscure" and "lesser-known" funk bands. To my knowledge, the only recording of the band is a 1970 self-titled album that they recorded in France. (You ever notice how France has always maintained a deep reference for quality American music, especially musics in the black American music tradition?) Still, I'm convinced that Bobby Boyd Congress, a quintessential New York funk band, made more recordings in or around New York City at the same time. Therefore, I believe (I gotta believe!) that somebody somewhere has something else of this superb funk outfit. And as long as I'm "diggin'," I won't give up trying to find it.

Finally, I'm compelled to mention that several months ago, a music professor (someone whom I hold in great regard) asked me about the relationship between the drum patterns of modern beatmaking and that of those of the early funk music typified here by Bobby Boyd Congress. Specifically, he believed that the relationship was less apparent in beatmaking in the early 1990s. I strongly disagreed. As I pointed out to him (and in my book, The BeatTips Manual, I show the link in greater historical detail), it was precisely the drum patterns of funk songs like Bobby Boyd Congress's "Dig Deep In Your Soul" that pioneering beatmakers like DJ Premier and Pete Rock drew their inspiration from.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Bobby Boyd Congress - "Dig Deep In Your Soul"

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

March 25, 2011

BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds, Vol. 2

Record Gems with Open Drum Sounds

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

I'm a strong advocate for using custom drum sounds. And although I have no issue with stock drum sounds (I've used stock drums in the past, and I have no problem with using them in the future) I believe that one of the most effective ways of creating your own style and sound is through the use of your own customized drum sounds.

That being said, I will be compiling an ongoing list—the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds—of ALL of the records that I (and many others) have found to be great for drum sounds. For each installment or volume of the list, I will try to post at least five songs. Furthermore, this list will also include those songs that I have studied as a guide for drum pattern arrangements. And it is my hope that the songs on this list well help serve as a guide for those who want to tune the drum sounds that they already have to the sounds showcased on this list.

Finally, although some readers will note that there are some obvious choices that should be on this list, please bear with me, as I will be rolling out this list periodically without, necessarily, any preference to the most well-known "break-beats" (this is not a list of break-beat records). In fact, I suspect some songs on this ongoing list will surprise some of you. But after a "full-listen" of the record, you'll see just why it earned a spot. Still as always, I invite discussion. So any and all suggestions, whether well-known or obscure, are certainly welcome.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

ZZ Hill- "I Think I'd Do It" (1971)

Beatmakers are sure to be immediately pleased with this joint, as the drum break opens up the song. In the intro, the kick, snare, and hi-hat are all open and free from other sounds.



The Soul Searchers - "Ashley's Roachclip" (1974)

The sly brass section and the furious wah wah guitar-lead rhythm keeps me returning back to this classic by The Soul Searchers. Throw in the tambourine and the bass, and you've got one of the finest songs for MusicStudy. And as far as drum sounds to sample go, catch the break at the 3:31 mark.



Monk Higgins - "One Man Band (Plays All Alone)" (1974)

For the most part, this song is laid back jazz/rhythm and blues fusion. But don't let that fool you, as a mean 21-second drum break comes in at the 2:17 mark.



Duke Williams - "Chinese Chicken" (1973)

A serious early funk number that had countless b-boys destroying the dance floor. Short, but dope, drum break appears at the 1:40 mark.



Dennis Coffey - "Son of Scorpio" (1972)

This is the one Dennis Coffey song that I studied the most. The "marching", half-open hi-hat sound on this song is something that I incorporated in to my own style of drum programming. Then there's the bongos and the rumbling bass line: Classic... As for the drum break, catch the 1:30 mark.



Funk Inc. - "Kool Is Back" (1971)

One tough, but short, break. Catch the 1:48 mark.

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted name in beatmaking."

February 24, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: Harold Alexander - "Tite Rope"

Funky Jazz Flutist Stabs Groove With Jabs Of Rhythm

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

The music and video below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Harold Alexander - "Tite Rope"

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

February 20, 2011

BeatTips MusicStudy: Gladys Knight & The Pips, "To Be Invisible"

Curtis Mayfield-Produced Masterpiece Embodies Soul

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

From the soundtrack to the movie, Claudine, one of my top 3 favorite movies of ALL time, "To Be Invisible"—score written and produced by Curtis Mayfield—is an incredibly moving piece of soul music. Curtis Mayfield's arrangement showcases Gladys Knight & The Pips best qualities, specifically, The Pips' tonal harmony, and Gladys Knight's arresting lounge-style vocalization.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Gladys Knight & The Pips - "To Be Invisible," (written and produced by Curtis Mayfield)

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

January 29, 2011

Kraak and Smaak Flipped Johnnie Taylor

Rhapsody Ad Good for Beatmaking and Sampling Cause

AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

Questions revolving around sampling as an art form and legitimate method for making music always arise when discussing hip hop/rap music. However, let someone outside of the hip hop/rap community sample something, and well, low and behold, they're considered some sort of genius (really clever) musician. Case in point: Kraak and Smaak's use of soulman Johnnie Taylor's song, "You're Tthe Best Girl In The World."

Online music service provider Rhapsody has been promoting its wares with commercial backed by a snippet of Kraak and Smaak's "Squeeze Me." The Netherland's duo essentially builds their song around the main breakdown of Johnie Taylor's "You're the Best Girl in the World." Yet the word around town is how 'hot' and dope Kraak and Smaak are. Hungh??!! Oh, and yeah, no one is calling Kraak and Smaak lazy, or uncreative, or unimaginative, or worst, thieves...
In the final analysis though, this actually may work to the benefit of devoted sample-based hip hop/rap beatmakers/producers. Either way, check out the original and the derivative works below.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Johnnie Taylor - "You're The Best Girl In The World"

Kraak and Smaak - "Squeeze Me"

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

December 29, 2010

BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds, Vol. 1

Record Gems with Open Drum Sounds

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

I'm a strong advocate for using custom drum sounds. And although I have no issue with stock drum sounds (I've used stock drums in the past, and I have no problem with using them in the future) I believe that one of the most effective ways of creating your own style and sound is through the use of your own customized drum sounds.

That being said, I will be compiling an ongoing list—the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds—of ALL of the records that I (and many others) have found to be great for drum sounds. For each installment or volume of the list, I will try to post at least five songs. Furthermore, this list will also include those songs that I have studied as a guide for drum pattern arrangements. And it is my hope that the songs on this list well help serve as a guide for those who want to tune the drum sounds that they already have to the sounds showcased on this list.

Finally, although some readers will note that there are some obvious choices that should be on this list, please bear with me, as I will be rolling out this list periodically without, necessarily, any preference to the most well-known "break-beats" (this is not a list of break-beat records). In fact, I suspect some songs on this ongoing list will surprise some of you. But after a "full-listen" of the record, you'll see just why it earned a spot. Still as always, I invite discussion. So any and all suggestions, whether well-known or obscure, are certainly welcome.

The music and videos below are presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Rufus Thomas - "Do the Funky Penguin" (1971)

Aside from the drum sounds on this Rufus Thomas classic, what's most appealing is the quarter-note tambourine arrangement. I can not stress enough how much this joint taught me about drum patterns.



Melvin Bliss - "Synthetic Substitution" (1977)

One of the most used breaks in beatmaking. Variations of this joint were used so much in hip hop/rap music that it's become some what of a right to passage for beatmakers. Indeed, if you're not familiar with "Synthetic Substitution," I strongly recommend that you immediately get to know it.

One more thing, when I first started beatmaking, I studied "Synthetic Substitution" for months. I wanted to learn how to play the main break (flawlessly) without the timing correct on. For some reason, I figured that if I could replay the "Synthetic Substitution" break (using my own drum sounds) then my drum programming skills would be tight. I was right...



Little Feat - "Fool Yourself" (1973)

The best part of the drum work of this joint can be heard within the first 5 seconds.



The Fatback Band - "Goin' to See My Baby" (1972)

Drum sounds or not, I can always zone out to "Goin' to See My Baby." Still, the double snare at the beginning is choice. Special note: Many more of The Fatback Band's songs will be on the BeatTips List of Great Records for Drum Sounds, particularly because of the work by Bill Curtis, the drummer who formed The Fatback Band.



Wilbur "Bad" Bascomb - "Black Grass"

The break comes up at the 1:40 mark.

---
The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

Dedicated to exploring the art of beatmaking in all of its glory.

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    "Sampling is piracy."
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