— Cosmic Rockers (check out more cosmic electro madness at the Cosmic Rock blog)
Posts Tagged ‘electro’
Yazoo were a short-lived but highly successful British electro-pop duo consisting of Depeche Mode mastermind Vince Clarke and singer Alison Moyet. In the US they were simply known as “Yaz” and had a couple of hits in the early 80s. “Situation” was released in 1981 and also appeared on their debut album “Upstairs at Eric’s”.
If I were to make a top 3 list of my favorite hip hop tunes, Newcleus’ “Jam on it” would be at number one, and Man Parrish’s “Boogie Down Bronx” would take third position. Quite interestingly, both songs were directly based on “Situation.”
Once you compare the tunes, this becomes quite obvious. In Newcleus’ case it is the prominent bassline â€“ probably THE most famous bassline in all of hip hop â€“ that is influenced by “Situation.” “Boogie Down Bronx” borrows even more heavily from it.
Here’s the breakdown part in the middle of “Situation”:
And here’s the beginning of “Jam On It”:
And finally, here’s the beginning of “Boogie Down Bronx”:
Actually, that’s not the whole story. Check out “Situation” again and listen to the heavy, thunderous tom-tom rolls:
Is it a coincidence that another Man Parrish tune “Hip Hop Bebop” also has a lot of prominent tom-tom rolls? I don’t think so …
Finally, I’d like to direct your attention to a little percussive detail in the background of “Situation” – a sound that always seemed to me like water drops:
And once again, there’s a hip hop tune (or rather a breaks record, but a very influential one) that has a similar sound â€“ I am talking about the Jive Rhythm Trax 122bpm:
The whole Upstairs at Eric’s album is great, and you should definitely try to hunt it down. My favorite Yazoo song is also on that debut album â€“ it is called “Don’t go.” And I guess you won’t be suprised when I present you a hip hop tune that is influenced by it. When I say hip hop, it is in a very broad sense: I am talking about Planet Patrol’s “Don’t tell me.” Planet Patrol was Arthur Baker’s electro soul / r&b outfit. They sound like a soulful version of Afrika Bambaataa which comes as no surprise since Arthur Baker re-used a lot of his Bambaataa material when producing Planet Patrol. One detail I am interested in is the arpeggiated melody that’s playing in the background of Yazoo’s “Don’t go” – here’s an isolated excerpt:
And here’s the beginning of Planet Patrol’s “Don’t Tell Me”:
I always find it interesting to reconstruct the musical paths that led to the creation of hip hop and electro. In the early 80s, hip hop hadn’t crystallized into a rigid form yet and influences were drawn from all kinds of music. There was no canon, and it was a period of openness that encouraged experiment and eclecticism. At its best, the resulting music was a cross-cultural rollercoaster ride where funk rhythms collided with pop or avantgarde music. Needless to say that today’s state of hip hop is a step backwards in both musical and cultural terms: Flamboyant artist like Man Parrish would be considered gay and their music would stand no chance whatsoever.
In my last post on this subject, Â I broke down the famous train sound pattern from Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express.” For the sequel I put together an (incomplete) selection of tunes that all sample this particular sound. The diversity of the material truly reflects Kraftwerk’s cross-genre appeal. Keep an open mind!
1. Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force â€“ Planet Rock (1982)Â
The most famous sampling of TEE â€“ not the beat though. An emulated version of the train sound is played in the background when the synth melody from TEE sets in. Check my blog for more stories about this song.
2. Anthony Rother â€“ Trans Europe Express (1998)Â
That’s a no brainer … outstanding remix and probably the only one that can hold up to the original. To quote myself: Rother “took the sluggish juggernaut steam engine and remodeled it to a REAL express train by increasing the bpm … Â Whereas the original version was still rooted in a long musical tradition – a symphony that went through several movements, Rother’s tightly composed TEE has finally arrived in the Modern Age, thus realizing what was only hinted at but not unfolded by Kraftwerk.”
3. Kool G Rap â€“ Rhymes I Express (1989)Â
Only samples the pattern in the chorus but it’s such a dope song that I had to throw it in. Nice play on the double meaning of “trans” and “express.”Â
4. Special Request â€“ Salsa Smurph (1983)Â
Electro novelty track that was quite a hit back in the days. I have no idea why; it’s just SO odd. Weird sounds, lo-fi production, weird keyboard playing … did I mention this is really weird (and fascinating)?
5. Kartoon Krew â€“ Inspector Gadget (1984)Â
Nowhere near my favorites from the era but it still is a nice little tune, featuring some solid synth and vocoder work.Â
6. Sir Mix-A-Lot â€“ Society’s Creation (1990)Â
Heavy minimalistic beats and some unusual socio-political commentary from the Bumpasaurus. We are treated with a chopped up and barely recognizable version of the Kraftwerk sample. The 909 snare drum sounds a bit too technoid for my taste … but then again even Mantronik used the 909 and he is the king of the beat, so who am I to complain?
7. Ras Kass â€“ Ghetto Fabulous (1998)Â
That song is way past my usual timeframe, but it is a strong track and remarkable in its own right for slowing down the Kraftwerk sample to the point of disintegration. The relation to a train sound is completely lost, but it still retains its floating, ethereal character.
8. Professor Griff â€“ Last Asiatic Disciples (1990)Â
PE’s own conspiracy theorist/wingnut Professor Griff with a nice upbeat version of the sample which drops quite unexpectedly and is over before you know it. Well seasoned dosage of subsonic boom provided by Luke Skyywalker of 2 Live Crew fame.Â
9. Ultramagnetic MC’s â€“ Crush Kill Destroy (1984-1990)
“Traveling At The Speed of Thought” isn’t the only Ultra song sampling Kraftwerk. I think I even prefer Crush Kill Destroy for its raw and unpolished minimalism … even if the production is a bit on the â€žraw and unpolishedâ€œ side, too. Call me biased but how can you not like Kool Keith’s wacky space scientist lyrics?Â
10. De La Soul â€“ Ghetto Thang (1989)Â
Very subtle use of the pattern and a great example of freeing a sample from its original context to create something completely different.Â
11. Wolfgang Riechmann â€“ Wunderbar (1978)Â
Riechmann was a contemporary of Kraftwerk and part of the DÃ¼sseldorf electronic scene. It is not exactly the same pattern as in TEE but you can clearly hear the similarity. This is a wonderful song with a slight spaghetti western feel that always reminds me of the For A Few Dollars More theme (as used by Babe Ruth’s “The Mexican”… as used by Planet Rock) … and there we are, full circle.
12. Cosmic Rockers â€“ Exodus (2007)Â
I couldn’t resist sneaking one of my own songs in. Probably the darkest and most Detroit sounding tune I ever made. The percussion pattern adds to the chilling and mechanical atmosphere. A little challenge (not too tough though): Can you ID the two vocal samples?
— Cosmic Rock