Music and martial arts. They are parallel art forms. Unlike sculpture or painting, music and martial arts happen in real time. When you hear a rapper perform or see a master demonstrate, the proof is in that moment. A lifetime of extensive, hard training may culminate in the recitation to which you bear witness. Rap style has an even more internal connection to martial arts than most music. It involves strenuous breath control, and of all techniques, it is the most difficult.
Archive for the 'theme music' Category
It's The Old Testament Mixtape. That's right.
Hosted by Charlton Heston.
Genesis - El-P, Nas & Charlton Heston / The Garden - Cut Chemist / Adam & Eve - Qwel & Kip Killagain / The Garden - Son of a Bricklayer / Paradise Lost - Redshield (Of Oldominion) / Wrath of Kane - Big Daddy Kane / Noah - A.M. Breakups / Pitch Black Ark (Instrumental) - Micranots / Pain Language (Instrumental) - DJ Muggs / Lot's Wife - Red Ants / In The Middle Of Infinity (6) - 3:33 / I Am What I Am - Chubb Rock / Moses - Slick Rick / The Ten Plagues (feat. Malcolm X) / The Ten Plagues - Socalled (feat. Killah Priest) / Into The Water - DJ Krush / Exodus - Remedy / The Ten Commandments (feat. Notorious B.I.G.) / Levitibus (Instrumental) - Stoupe / The Number Song - DJ Shadow / Holy Are You - Rakim / God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters
The passing of Donald Byrd a couple weeks ago got me thinking a little more on jazz's influence on hip-hop. Robbie at Unkut came through with the ten greatest Donald Byrd samples, which are a tribute to the man's work and his (unacknowledged, unknown possibly to him too) contribution to some truly classic cuts. And that doesn't include "Buck 'Em Down," "Self Destruction" and "Fear Of A Black Planet," just for starters.
Over at whosampled, Byrd is listed for over 100 songs sampling him and another 100 of music he produced--and remember whosampled is pretty incomplete (and that's a good thing, since nobody except DMCA and lawyers want all samples known. Sampling is like magic tricks, or pussy, or pussy magic...when it loses its mystery, we're all poorer for it). And compare that to Miles (96 samples) and Coltrane (40 samples--I'm pretty sure that's a crowdsourcing failure, right? Nobody sampled 'A Love Supreme' yet?! Common? Lupe? Some other cunnilingus adept rapper?! That shit can't be right.)
So on the one we owe Donald Byrd for a heavy grip of classics. Peace to him for that. Thing is though, while you could do a great 'Donald Byrd Sample Mix,'* it wouldn't sound all that...jazzy. (It's an idea though, I'll think on it. Actually I was trying to convince Hevehitta on the twitter the other day to do a series of all-one-breakbeat mixes.) Samples get cut up, flipped, slapped, tweaked and the result hits the groove but a lotta times far from the source--which is one of hip-hop's great achievements, that artistic transformation of sounds.
What I'm trying to say is, you know how scientists are always coming out with shit like, 81% of the human DNA comes from the housefly, or we're all descended from this one rat-looking-thing? If there ever was a Hip-Hop Genome Project, I think we'd find a much higher percentage of jazz up in there than you woulda guessed. Wait--not to compare jazz to a housefly or a prehistoric rat though.
Anyways here we got another hour of jazz/hip-hop beats where the influence is upfront, so forget everything I just said. That was just off the dome on account of Donald Byrd, I already had this mix going when he passed. C'mon son, it's not like you come here for the coherent hypotheses or even read all this wobbly verbosity. You come for the beats. I got you. I got your beats.
Conflict (DJ Critical Hype Blend) - Guru (feat. Masta Ace) / Ill Street Blues (Rework Instrumental) - STS / Stand Up (Ode to Allen Ginsberg's Beat Memories) - DJ Hellblazer / Blue & Green - Mr. Moods / The Second Shoot - Planet Soap / Morning - Maliks / Nonverbal Communication - Rob Swift & Dave McMurray / Endless Nights - Mononome / When the Dust Settles - Kurtis Sp / Pot Belly - Rob Swift & Lou Donaldson / Hypnotic - Eric B. & Rakim / Step Right Up - PremRock / Lagoona's Bliss - Live Human / Chi Nike 'e Pedi - DJ Manueli / Mont - Bil Basmala / Iron Head - U.X.O. / A Different Blues - Apple Juice Kid / Piano Fragments - Bones The Beat Head / I'm The Man (Instrumental) - DJ Premier / Loungin' - Guru & Donald Byrd
*Update:DJ Polished Solid - All Donald Byrd sample mix, great tracks there.
New York State of Mind, Part 2 (Perquisite Remix feat. Benjamin Herman by GMJ) - Nas / Me, Not The Paper (DJ Premier Remix) - Jeru The Damaja / Jazz Is My Religion - DJ Rob Swift (feat. Bob James & Dave McMurray) / Huah Ha - DJ Revolution / Slick Money - Senor Kaos (feat. P.SO & Large Professor) / Musical Journey - Kero One / L'intruso -thegodfatherExperience & Alice / Solo Dancer (Stop! Look! And Rock The House, B-Boys!) - Charles Mingus / L'chemy - L*Roneous / Bamboo Flute Blues (Kid Koala Remix) - Kid Koala & Yusef Lateef / Ibid, Desmarches, Ibid - DJ Spooky/ Endeavors for Never (The Last Time We Spoke You Said You Were Not Here. I Saw You Though.) - Shabazz Palaces / A.E.O.C. - Edan / Alternative 3 - PSY/OPSogist / Ice Cream Van - The RZA / Listen - DJ Osiris (feat. Mr. Dibbs)
Scratchoetry - Alien Army / The Brew Out - Wu-Tang Clan (DJ 2-Tone Jones remix) / The Gift - The Whitefield Brothers(feat. Edan & Mr.Lif) / Jazz Thing (Movie Mix) - Gang Starr / Freedom Jazz Dance (Remix) - Nas, Miles Davis & Olu Dara / Human Language - Mumbles / Heat It Up (Album Version) - Rakim / Mystery (Reprise) - Miles Davis & Easy Mo Bee / Applesauce - DJ Quest / Dark Water Jazz - Jenova 7 / Sum Shit I Wrote - Common / Ha-Doh - DJ Krush & Toshinori Kondo / Vermont - Airnino / II B.S. - Charles Mingus (RZA's Bounce Mix) / Dolphy Surround - JohnnyBoy & Manuele Atzeni / Ruby in the Rough - Celestial Impressions / It Sounded Like a Roc! - MF Doom / Jazz Break #6 - DJ Mark the 45 King / From Heritage - Dday One
The jazz/hip-hop relationship hasn't been nearly as fruitful or long-established as you'd think it woulda; if funk and soul are hip-hop's parents, jazz is kinda like an uncle who drifts into town now and then, sleeps on the couch, bums hip-hop's cigarettes and tells stories about the good old days. Trouble is, we look at him like he's a played out rummy bum-ass, but back in the day uncs had skills, scared people just as much as hip-hop does/did, and had seriously bad-ass musical chops.
The much-maligned 'jazz rap' thing never really made it to a full-fledged genre, I don't think...its original history was really only a handful of songs: various scattered cuts by Stetsasonic, Gangstarr, Tribe, De La and other Native Tongues cats. As far as albums, there's only really Guru's hugely uneven Jazzmatazz series, the first Digable Planets LP (which actually isn't as jazz-sample-heavy as we think), and that Buckshot LeFonque record with Premo and Marsalis, which nobody really listened to.
Still Shook - Greenhouse Effect / Run - Rakim / Made You Shit Your Pants - Copywrite, Yakballz & Cage / How I Could Just Kill a Man - Styles P & Sheek Louch / Sucker M.C.s - Wu-Tang Clan / Rapper's Delight - Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Redman & Joell Ortiz / Vapors - Snoop Dogg / I'm Still #1 - Cypress Hill / I'm Housin' - Rage Against The Machine
Used to be rappers didn't cover each other's songs. That was biting. (Even if the 'original' hip-hop song, "Rapper's Delight," was entirely bit lyrics.) Fresh was the word. DJs soaked the labels off their LPs so other DJ's wouldn't know what song it was.
Times moved. MCs started out learning lyrics of whoever was at the top of their game. Then you spit over another MC's beats until you could get your own. That was your apprenticeship, word to Johnny Tremain. But hip-hop cover versions didn't really start until the mid-'00s, because a cover is an homage, history for a previously ahistorical and new format--one which was always referential but not reverential, except for its dead. And the '00s was about that hip-hop nostalgia. Hip-hop had no elders when it started out, just succession from one Crown Prince to another; until the '90s there weren't even long-term careers, you just fizzled away and went back to the car wash or accountancy school.
A cover version is usually a transformative homage--when Hendrix does Dylan or Sid Vicious does Sinatra, it's a totally different song, like those cover versions by white people in their indigenous styles I forced on you last time. Because hip-hop's based on beats not bands, it's hard to transform a cover, that's why the remix is more paramount. Even so, constant innovation causes expansion. You don't see 2 Live Crew tribute bands at your local bar off the interstate.
So now we got this Elzhi and his mixtape called, erm, Elmatic. This is the second take on Nas' Illmatic after Fashawn's poorly received and all-around ass version, Ode To Illmatic. Some cats think it's an instant classic. Others are not so sure about that, B. I agree most with Weiss' succinct account.
Elmatic has got nice live versions of the beats by Will Sessions, but they're not as interesting a take as the El Michels Affair Wu-Tang covers. Elzhi hews pretty close to Nas' cadences and a lot of the lines themselves, so it's much more of a cover than a new take or transformation. The whole enchilada tastes nice no doubt, but it's got tofu not beef and salsa not Tabasco. I like it, I just don't really see the point of it. I liked Joell Ortiz Covers The Classics and Malcolm & Martin's Criminal Minded, both of which took pains to flip the scripts but also underlined the fire of the classics. What the fuck, is hip-hop having an anxiety of influence moment, word to Harold Bloom?
Illmatic was a hood life panorama painted on a canvas of dusty, funky grooves. A worthy update of that dropped last year--Marcberg. As for a heartfelt audiobiography in rhyme which is a watermark for the future, well, that dropped the same day as Elmatic--it's called Goblin (which admittedly has a lot, lot more in common with The Slim Shady LP than Illmatic.) So yeah, Elzhi put in work here but I just don't get it. What was he trying to do? It's not updating Illmatic or particularly transforming it artistically. It's a nice little mixtape but I'm not sure I wanna see more of these. What's next, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Jay Electronica? Enter The 36 Sean Priceses? As Ras Kass As We Wanna Be? Licensed To Redman? Paid In Curren$y? Step In The Marciano?
Anyway, here's hip-hop covers hip-hop. Represent, represent.
Bring The Noise (Live) - N.W.A. / Criminal Minded - Malcolm & Martin / The New Style - Redman / Slow & Low - Run-D.M.C. / AZ's Chillin' - AZ / White Lines - Raekwon / Know The BK Ledge - Joell Ortiz / Mama Said Knock You Out - Street Sweeper Social Club / M.F. You Love 2 Hate - Mr. Dibbs (feat. Murs & Chris Awesome) / Kill A Man - Bambu / Ain't Goin Out Like That - Yelawolf / No Sleep Till Brooklyn '04 - M.O.P. / Shook Ones, Part II - Everlast / Take Cover - Adjust & Product / Juicy - Tek (Smif-n-Wessun) / All A Dream - Remedy / Stranded In West Los - Malkovich Music / MCs Act Like They Don't Know - Sha Stimuli, Promise, James Watts & Fashawn / Shimmy Shimmy Ya - El Michels Affair, Von Pea & Spec Boogie / No Half Smokin - Blueprint / PJ's Remix - El Michels Affair & Diamond District / Detroit State Of Mind - eLZHi
The traditional whitebread Western is antithetical to hip-hop, but the spaghetti Western intersects in a bunch of ways--the general badassery, stone-cold antiheroes, grimy rough operas, strict codes of honor, a heartless, lawless landscape, and of course Italian guys pretending to be Mexicans vs. Black guys pretending to be Italians.
And of course the gunplay. Always the gun clappin'. Spaghetti Westerns, like most hip-hop, are pretty much about guys shooting each other over money or disses.
If the action in spaghetti Westerns is the lyrics, Ennio Morricone's operatic, mournful scores are the beats--counterpoint and juxtaposed to the cowboy/b-boy attitude. Think about Mobb Deep's beats; underneath the nihilistic braggadocio is the same sadness.
They're both stylized forms loaded down with rich imagery and violent, iconic signifiers, like Noh plays, because they don't play. If you think about it, all's the same with hip-hop's other richly tapped vein, kung-fu flicks.
So saddle up, motherfuckers. It's the spaghetti Western mixtape.
The Good, The Bad & The Intro / Draw - EPMD / Hang 'Em High - Sadat X / Black Tequila - Ghostface Killah (feat. Cappadona & Trife) / Tequila Sunrise - Cypress Hill / 1-2, Here's What We Gonna Do - KRS-One & True Master (feat. The RZA) / For A Few Dollars More - Morricone, Material / Chamber of Fear - The RZA (feat. Rev. William Burke) / Some Crazy Flamenco Shit - DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist / Dump The Clip - Army of the Pharoahs (Planetary, Esoteric & Celph Titled) / Apache - Incredible Bongo Band (cuts by Grandmaster Flash) / How The Bronx Was Won - B.D.P. vs. Santa Esmeralda / The Ecstasy Of One Mic (DJ Erb Mix) - Nas / Land of the Gun - Immortal Technique & Breez Evahflowin / Raw Is War - Jedi Mind Tricks / The End Intro - Alien Army / Bodyguard - Scotty Hard / Front Page - Compton's Most Wanted / Cry Freedom - General Steele (feat. dead prez) / Beneath The Surface (Inna Blends mix) - GZA / Joany Loves Stringy - Animal Crackers / There It Is - Just-Ice & KRS-One / Blue Leaves Showdown - EarDrumz / Wild Wild West - Kool Moe Dee