Thursday, January 21, 2010

Copyright Criminals

Copyright Criminals is a new documentary from Independent Lens. Like a charging rhino they attack the issue of sampling head on. They cover the history of sampling as well as the legalities involved in the art form.

The first sampler I remember was a huge machine called the Fairlight, this thing was as big as a stove. You would select a sound you want and it would play it back, I think the bit rate was 44.1. It was awesome. In 1985 that is.

Akai attacked the art of sampling a couple of years later with the Akai S -900 I think it was called. Also on the market was the sp-12 and then the sp-1200, this is when hip-hop production of the 90's and late 80's began to take form.

The master of the sp-1200 was WBLS deejay and producer Marley Marl. Hands down, everyone that came after Marley learned their craft from him. His shit was incredible. The first production he did utilising a sample was MC Shan's "Marley's Scratch". Marley used the kick and snare from RUN-DMC's 'Sucker MC's". Every production Marley did thereafter was off the wall. Marley would take a 3.5 second sample or a 5.5 second sample from something like "Hard to Handle" or "You Lost That Lovin' Feelin' and kill it. He added 808 kicks and snares and reprogrammed the drums, he was like God to us back then.

If Marley was God to us, then the production team of Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler, Keith Shocklee and Chuck D were as awesome as a Black Hole to us. What they did, to this day, is the most incredible shit. The way they layered sounds on top of sounds was ....invincible.

Their use of James Brown's band the JB's in particular the funk drumming of Clyde Stubblefield was not of this world. I'll never forget the very first time I heard "Rebel Without a Pause", I fell off of my bed with my mouth wide open and in stone cold silence.

Chuck sounded like a prophet broadcasting from some underground bomb shelter somewhere. "Yes, the rhythm the rebel..."

Maybe the best opening for a rap record.

The only thing Copyright Criminals lacks is coverage of Ultimate Breaks and Super Disco Brakes, the records that were the foundation for late 80's and early 90's hip-hop recordings.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Just Can't Get Enough

He was the perfect blend of machismo, urban cool and a sex symbol all wrapped in one package - no homo. He was black and proud, yet sophisticated enough to be listened to over a glass of wine and danced to at your favorite neighborhood club.

Teddy Pendergrass was all that and then some.

I make no secret about it I'm from Queens not the Bronx. When I hear Bronx cats talk about how they were rebelling against disco, I think to myself, "Damn, these niggas didn't like Teddy Pendergrass?"


How can you be over 40 and not like Teddy P?

"Wake Up Everybody", "The Whole Town's Laughing at Me", "Close the Door", "Turn off the Lights", "Love TKO", "Bad Luck", "The Love I Lost", "Be For Real"...come on man, who can front on all them records?

It seemed like Gamble and Huff could do no wrong with Teddy's voice. Whether he was talking about bad times, lost love or heartbreak, there was something about the tonal quality of his voice, the sincerity, the gruffness, the gentleness backed by the smooth funk and rich orchestration of MFSB that reached deep down inside of you and made you want to dance or cry.

The summer of 1978 it seemed like my whole building was listening to WBLS. "Turn Off the Lights" was the hottest thing on the radio. All day long the sounds of Donna Summer and GQ blasted through the summer heat. But everyone was really waiting for something else. And then as the sun was being overtaken by the looming hood of nightfall, the smooth velvet voice of Frankie Crocker introduced the next song, "this is Teddy Pendergrass "Turn off the lights" on WBLS the total. Experience. In sound..."

'Turn off the lights...and light a candle..."

I swear to God, it looked like every apartment in the building - at least on the side I was on, turned off the lights and lit a candle at the same time.

Now that's magic.

That was Teddy P.

Rush Limbo is a Big Fat Idiot...

The island nation of Haiti is crumbling before our eyes. This isn't like Hurricane Katrina where emergency services are gonna whisk people away to diverse points of the country in hopes that at some point, some day, the city will be rebuilt.

No. We're talking about a country that hasn't known stability in hundreds of years. We're talking about a country, where just recently, the kids were so starving that parents were feeding them mud cookies. Let's be clear: they were feeding the kids fried dirt!

Never mind Preacher Pat and his nonsense, Rush Limbo's comments were much more dangerous than anything Preacher Pat could dream up out of his sermons.

Rush seems to believe that this country has done all it can or could for Haiti. According to him we've already given all we could to them in the form of "income tax." I thought this was supposed to be a "christian nation", with good Christian examples like Rush and Preacher Pat it's no wonder so many are converting to Islam and other religions. If those guys are Christians... boy I'd hate to meet Jesus.

He'd probably say something like, "tough dookie on those countries, they need to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps and rebuild that place - on their own. With no help for anyone. Besides, it'll be good for em..."

That's how Rush and Preacher Pat's Gawd thinks and acts.

Rush reminds me of the big fat bully in the schoolyard who stole everyone's cookies. That was until a small, wiry kid with nothing to lose and no fear in his heart, walked up to him and stomped him out. That's what needs to happen to his fat ass.

Since this is an old school hip hop site I leave you with the immortal words of Public Enemy