Hip-hop producers are a wonder to me, honestly. I hear how their drums pound or how they make the instrumentation sound so wonderful. One of the things I love most of all is a good sample. To me it’s like taking something already wonderful, taking it off a high shelf where it was collecting dust, and making it all new for another generation to enjoy.
For example, The Isley Brothers are legendary and so are many of their iconic tracks. And many of those tracks were repackaged and brought to new life through hip-hop.
The best example I could give here would be how the classic track “Footsteps In The Dark” became the Ice Cube cut “Today Was A Good Day”. Even as I type this now I’m humming and thinking on both Ronald Isley was feeling footsteps in the dark and Ice Cube being happy that no one he knows got killed in South Central LA. (I can imagine that was a good day.)
In the same tact “Between The Sheets” was tweaked to become “Ignorant Shit”, an insightful track brought to us by Jay-Z and featuring Beanie Sigel. Once again, I’m pondering both Ronald talking about sharing love in between the sheets as well as Jay-Z talking about that ignorant shit that we all love, which is a long string of profanities and drugs. (We like it, we shouldn’t ‘front’, as Mr. Carter so pointedly says.)
That in and of itself got me thinking about other songs that could be used to make great hip-hop songs. Here is a short list:
- “Angie Baby”-This song, a classic by Helen Reddy, tells a mysterious story about Angie, a young, friendless “crazy” girl who “lives her life in the songs” she hears on “rock and roll radio” as well as the disappearance of a neighborhood boy.
- “Harden My Heart”-Quarterflash’s heartbroken anthem is another example of a great song in need of sampling. Something about the sparse instrumentation, the vocals of Rindy Ross (as well as her exquisite saxophone playing), and the tone of the track make it perfect.
- “Eminence Front”-The British band The Who give us a song that has been used as themes songs for sports teams and in popular video games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It tells of delusions and drug use of the wealthy and the hedonistic. The lyrics describe a party where people hide behind their own personal facades.
I hope that producers in their search for the next great beat look at these and make magic.
Courtesy of Lucius Black for Royalty Magazine