"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kidz In The Hall: That One Song That Samples That One Song From That One Band That Has That One Song That I Like

"Don't sit back there and act like Double-O's hair ain't luxurious when you know that it is, bitch!"

A few years back in college, I was browsing the music stacks at a Best Buy, looking for the latest Masta Ace record, when the in-store loud speakers began to the play the familiar drum patterns of a record I had become all too familiar with, Eric B. and Rakim's "My Melody." I paused for a moment to compliment the in-store D.J. for having decidedly exceptional taste for a sixteen year-old when it soon became apparent to my dawning horror that I would not be graced with the melodious baritone of Rakim's rich voice but rather the insipid strains of the pop vapidness of Teairra Marie's "Make Her Feel Good." I had been hoodwinked into the thinking I was listening to a superior song. Needless to say, I was not amused. I would go and buy the Masta Ace album at Circuit City, instead. (I was as shocked as you are that they had it. The rap selection at Syracuse area conglomerate retail chain stores is surprisingly boss.)

Later that day after I tore into Ace's masterpiece, A Long Hot Summer, for the first time (a surprisingly seminal moment of my music life since it was my belated introduction to my third favorite rapper), I began to reflect not on the universal atrociousness of Marie's blood screaming abortion but rather the curious nature of an R&B song sampling a classic hip hop jam. It seemed to me in my pre-blogger days (and before the crushing weight of disappointment morphed me into the cold-hearted hater that you know and tolerate) that if R&B was now sampling hip hop (instead of vice versa) that a critical equilibrium in the nature of the genre would soon broken and spiral rap music into the prophecies of the Pharaoh NaS and later dissected by the Prophet Sasha Frere-Jones. If R&B music was no longer producing original music breaks and instead were wantonly sampling from old school hip hop records than the delicate ecosystem of hip hop music sampling would soon eat itself and collapse into Casio keyboard fuckery or worse, start sampling from lame indie rock bands! I prayed to the Gods of the Mic this would not come to pass. Foolish, foolish mortal...

Noted hipster rap scions, Kidz In The Hall, made "history" this week when they sampled indie rock flavor of the month, Grizzly Bear's, "breakout" hit "Two Weeks" for their adventurously titled song, "Grizzly Man." A song that I've come to enjoy despite the obvious pretentious gimmickry involved with it's creation. Double-O and Naledge continue with a curious trend in hip hop as the sampling sources of the material continues to come from more and more obvious and gimmick-laden. Despite my admittedly ridiculous, curmudgeonly biases towards indie rock music in general, "Two Weeks" is actually a pretty fantastic song. Grizzly Bear's ethereal harmonies on the song remind me of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys and they build around a hypnotic piano loop that help make the song an instant standout record. However, Kidz In The Hall specious choice to sample the song ends up sounding as pandering and pretentious as T.I. and company did when ripping off M.I.A. for "Swagger Like Us." It plays to the built-in tastes of their hipster rap audience and combined with the relative unimaginative way the song uses the source material makes the record seem like a cheap play for crossover potential. The song chipmunks Grizzly Bear's harmonies and simply speeds the piano break to hip hop level bbms. When referring to the song, noted street-oriented rap novice, Jeff Weiss said "I liked this beat better the first time, when it was called Still D.R.E."

What's more troubling is the way that Naledge seems to be mining the Clipse's flow on a Guerilla Blackian level (Word to the Passion, again). His voice and speech patterns seem to mirror the Brothers Thornton's signature growly and delivery right down to Pusha's "hyuck" adlib. It's disconcerting that Naledge would do this considering he's an artist that is fairly established in his own right. I wonder if he even noticed what he was doing.

With all that said, I still miraculously manage to enjoy the song beyond all of my critical caveats. Perhaps, I just like gimmicky source samples more than I'd care to admit.

Download: Kidz In The Hall - Grizzly Man [Via 2 Dopeboyz]


Jordan said...

The bigger story in this is ruining the name of a dope ass movie, Herzog's voiceover is, in the words of mac mall, untouchable unfuckwitable raised like a pitbull heart pump nitro.

Plus Jim Jones already rapped over MGMT loops and shit.

Badmon3333 said...

Oh SHIT the Mac Mall quote. NICE. I wasn't sure if anyone besides me had the 'Untouchable' album ("Let's Get a Telly" is the sheeeeeeit).

One record coming out that absolutely nails the perfect balance in an otherwise throwaway genre - the rap-rock record - is the Black Keys "Blackroc." Sick grungy blues beats and an even sicker guest list (Mos Def, RZA, Pharoahe Monch, Billy Danze, NOE).

I'll tell you where the rap selection is NOT boss, and that's ANYWHERE here in Delaware, if you're south of Wilmington.

DocZeus said...

I still haven't heard that "Blackroc" record. It seems way to gimmicky to be successful.

I have no idea if the rap selection in Syracuse Best Buys are any good these days (probably not since the economy is shambles) but there was a period around my sophomore year of college where I went digging for all the old classic rap records I missed when they came out because I was five where I kept finding a string of stuff I couldn't believe.

I think at one point, I bought on the same day Gang Starr's Moment Of Truth, Geto Boy's We Can't Be Stopped, and Eric B. and Rakim's Follow The Leader. It was epic.

Badmon3333 said...

On the surface, I agree. But choosing the right rappers, as well as modifying their sound so it's not straight-up blues-rock (on one track, Dan Auerbach does a NICE job imitating the old-school Wu kung-fu-sample atmosphere with his guitar), it works out much more successfully than it probably should.

By going grimy and not trying to mix rap, rock AND electronic music, it works much better. I've always thought there were plenty of good rock songs to sample for hip-hop. You could probably find enough "breaks" from Hendrix or the Grateful Dead alone to do whole albums.

neiluk said...

That 'Blackroc' record is bwad, thought it would be shite considering all the hype it's got off Pitchfork and allmusic, but just proves that when you stick a bunch of quality rappers on a record together with a simple, focused selection of beats (or actual songs, in this case), very little can go wrong.

The Kidz in the Hall song is fucking wank though. People need to stop sampling second-rate indie. In the UK we have Lethal Bizzle for that kind of thing. The guy is a fool, and the less hip-hop/indie collabs the better imo.