5/24/2006

Songs of the Week: Sample Meets Source, Vol. 1

A memory of seeing a young man learn the nature of hip-hop late in life:

(And the young man weren't me. Of course. I've been a man since age 13.)

So...it's like Spring '01. I'm in an awful Yale production of Blues For Mister Charlie. (Note to anyone thinking of producing this archaic and horribly didactic James Baldwin play: have yourself a reread of Go Tell It On The Mountain and spare us.) An actor, very funny guy, is listening to "Between The Sheets" by the Isley Brothers, one of the best seduction songs of the 1980s. It also essentially IS the music of one of the best seduction songs of the 1990s, Biggie's "Big Poppa."

And our young actor, only half-joking, exclaims, "I hate rap music!"

In this recurring feature, I hope to go a little past that, in investigating fairly obvious samples and their sources. For the record, though, I go more with the Stetsasonic train of thought on this. Kick it, Daddy-O:

Tell the truth, James Brown was old
'Til Eric and Rakim came out with "I Got Soul"
Rap brings back old R&B
And if we would not, people could've forgot


For example, Deniece Williams. Now I know that the singer of "Let's Hear It For The Boy" from Footloose (?!) has a great debut record, backed by members of the elements known as Earth, Wind, and Fire.

I know this because I first heard "Free."

I know that because, children, when I was a wee lad of 13, in a day when Hot 97 was actually worth listening to, as what I had no idea was a hip-hop golden age slowly wound down its last days of apples and honey, I fell in love with a song by a Queens emcee who never would quite rise to this level again, mainly because of the fantastic track, sampling (yup, you've got it) "Free." The song for radio purposes was "It's Real" by Mic Geronimo. The unnecessary non-radio title was "Shit's Real."

I think that's enough backstory. Have a great weekend, y'all, and let these two hits of musical sunshine light the way if you're somehow in a bad mood. The summertime of your life approaches.

1) Deniece Williams, "Free," from This Is Niecy

2) Mic Geronimo, "Shit's Real," from The Natural

Sample v.s. Source: No winner. I love both these songs. But only one of them gave me a line to sample in one of my songs. (I'll give you a hint which: it involves a bridge I live near.)

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