06 March 2016

Frequency Range, Interlude

At which point Simon delves into early hip-hop. Truth be told, I was planning on passing on that one. But since I spent most of the music’s “mid-school” years totally immerse in the stuff, I naturally have a few things to contribute on the topic...

(Caveat: Since you're listening to this on a computer, a decent set of headphones are recommended.)

What, no mention of Run DMC? The Tougher Than Leather album sported a number of tunes where the Run DMC took a turn away from the stark minimalism of much of their prior material, going with a sound that much fuller and more spacious. I recall a critic at the time saying these two tracks in particular sounded had taken up residency in outer orbit, rapping and mixing while springing off the the space-station walls in zero gravity. An image that has stuck with me over the years (particular when the reverb on the punctuating snare shot darts through the mix of "Run's House). Jam Master Jay was the man, but apparently the bass on the above can be partly attributed to co-producer Davy D..

Simon cites the Beasties. From License to Ill, I remember "Paul Revere" being the cut that dudes used to use to give their woofers a workout. Personally, I had a love/hate relationship with the Beastie Boys in those years, which had taken a dissenting tilt toward the latter by the time Paul's Boutique came out. A friend loaned me his copy, I gave it few spins, and my feeling was that if someone could somehow release an all-instrumental version of the thing, I'd probably be all over it. Thankfully, the production duo that was the Dust Brothers partially obliged me via a couple of 12-inch remixes. The bass bits on their overhaul of "Shake Your Rump" were particularly satisfying.

And as far as live-group era Beasties are concerned: "Jimmie James" was a tune that rode its smoked-out bass line mighty nicely.

A favorite block-rocker from what could be considered the golden era’s swansong summer that was the summer of '93, when the version that appeared on the b-side of the Masta Ace Inc.'s "Slaughtahouse" 12" became the definitive jeep beats of the season. An ode to the "quad"-pumping lifestyle and incivic disturbance coming from the most unlikely of locales -- the (previously) bass-anemic upper East Coast. Sure, the bass on the thing was dope, but I‘ve always found it deeply funny at the same time -- maybe because it sounds kinda "sick" in both senses of the word.

Speaking of jeep beats...

Another favorite of mine from roughly around the same time, via a production duo out of Queens. Reworked 12" version of a tune that originally featured Newark, New Jerz hip-hop/graffiti duo Artifacts providing verbals. As much as I liked Artifacts and the rolling bass line that threaded the main mix of the thing, I always preferred this particular version because of the thuzzed-out, blown-speaker, oldskool block-party kick of the bass at the beginning, which passes into a sample of the laid-back bass guitar bit sampled from Cloud One's "Patty Duke."

And Simon gives a big-up to Mantronix. At the time, I myself was never clear on how they fared audience-wise in domestic-vs-abroad listenership; just knewI was buying everything I could get my hands on by them after I first copped a 12" of "Bassline" after I heard it, and knew that me and brothers from around my way could agree that (as they put it) "Mantronix brings the boom." Yet Simon doesn't include this one...

...Which commands you to "listen to the bass." True, the bass is mostly just 808 kick in this instance, but that sound was so definitively 1986 as far as hip-hop was concerned. (Reference Schoolly D's Saturday Night, The Album and Steady B's debut LP of the same year as evidential exhibits A and B.)

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