Monday, 30 July 2007
Since the turn of the Millenium we have seen many changes in our world; more advanced technology, threats to world security, the growth of the internet, climate change, and more depressingly (if that's possible!) a massive downsurge in vinyl sales and the demise of our beloved record shops.
So, and I'm sure many of you diggers will agree, we're left with less and less spots to hit for that next dusty beat fix, particularly here in London. OK so the boot sales and record fairs turn up the odd gem still, but I'm having to
travel further and further to find enough crates to appease my diggin frenzies!
My fiending for more records wasn't going away that easy! In times of change you have to adapt to your new environment. I was already spending hours swapping wax with friends to fill the record void, and it dawned on a group of us to make this a regular thing. Hence RECORD REHAB was born!
That pile of trades by my front door was going nowhere, so it made sense to invite a posse of record heads over to the Daily Diggers lab to bring their trades, bring the noise, and nerd out on their latest finds, make some trades, play our own beats etc.. I never expected it to become a regular event, but for over four years RECORD REHAB has been a regular summit for the vinyl-infected. With regular members and also a collection of most-welcome stragglers, some great records have made appearances both in terms of educating each other, and also in the trades pile. Hell I even copped a crispy OG copy of MAIN SOURCE "Think b/w Atom" 12" at REHAB! Just what the Doctor ordered!
It's a place for us vinyl nerds to get that shit off our chests. We can talk run-out grooves, discuss dusty drum breaks, and generally sniff round each others crates! Plus my favourite - the "break to the beat" competiton has been resurrected just for REHAB. I'll name that tune in one!
VINYL LIVES ON!
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Hip Hop's creation began with music samples. As Kool Herc took 2 copies of a break record & lined them up on his twin turntables, he would "merry-go-round" with those records, keeping the beat smooth & in effect "sampling" the break loop. He noticed by repeating the break section off the record, that the crowd would be more likely to continue dancing or "GOING OFF" as he called it. Why wait for 2 minutes into the song for the best part when you could repeat it over and over by simply cueing two copies back and forth? Then it was only a matter of time before MC's like Coke La Rock, the original Klark Kent, Cowboy and others would rock rhymes over that funky beat Herc had created. Pure genius!
Keith Cowboy (RIP), Flash's first MC, pioneered phrases like "Throw your hands in the air, and wave 'em like ya just don't care!", "Clap your hands to the beat!" and "Somebody say HO!". Soon this sporadic rapping evolved into the rhyme patterns and verses we know of today. Hip Hop was born.
As rap progressed onto vinyl however, the disappointing thing was that the music no longer represented the original values of the artform. The backing tracks were made by in-house musicians/producers, normally spinning rhymes over a disco beat or maybe live drumming, but it just didn't represent those early days at the park jams, Bronx River Centre, Cedar & Sedgwick Avenue jams, the Roxy etc.. All of a sudden, the deejay, who had been the backbone of the art in the first instance, was no longer in the limelight.
So in the late 80's when Hip Hop took on a new form, and artists and deejays began sampling breaks, beats and loops from records, the whole art form came back to its roots. Music Technology now offered a variety of sampling drum machines and rack mounted units(EMU SP1200 AKAI MPC60 AKAI S950 SEQUENTIAL 440 to name but a few) with ever longer sampling time. For the first time, the MC could rock his lyrics over an original break like back in the days!
For me and many others, this was Hip Hop's GOLDEN YEARS (between '87 and '92) where many of the classic artists rose to fame (and not necessarily fortune). Whether it be "Funky Drummer", "Amen Brother",
"Chicken Yellow", or Tom Jones's "Looking Out My Window", the use of real breakbeats made the music come alive. But at a price...
Following several lawsuits against rap artists who had used samples, it became harder and harder to use a sample without having to pay the expensive clearance to the original artist/copyright owner. And of course this extra production cost often meant the release would be shelved,or in some cases deleted and removed from store shelves. Biz Markie's LP "All Samples Cleared" notoriously made a mockery of the sample clearance issue. Earlier Biz, who was at the time signed to Warner Bros. Records, had sampled three words and a portion of the music from the song "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, for use in his third album, "I Need A Haircut". This lead to a lawsuit - Grand Upright Music Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. in 1991. O'Sullivan's claim was upheld in a landmark decision by the court and this changed the landscape of hip-hop, meaning all samples had to be cleared with the original artist before being used. In accordance with the court's decision Warner Brothers (the parent company of Cold Chillin') had to pull the "I Need a Haircut" LP from circulation. Biz continued to release the cheekily titled "All Samples Cleared" LP a couple of years later where all samples had actually NOT been cleared, but by now the controversy had affected Biz's record sales dramatically.
From then on the samples used had to be more and more obscure, and beatmakers had to dig deeper in search of rare gems, in the hope that clearance could be avoided. James Brown (RIP) may not have been in favour of sampling his music at the beginning, but when every conceivable James Brown record had been looped and chopped, he soon realised it was paying his bills! But now every genre was fair game, and the mid & late 90's INDIE years saw the use of classical to folk, library to latin, brazilian to prog rock.
Sampling has always been treading on thin ice, but there is no doubt it produces some of the most influential hip hop anthems. For me, this bullshit era of sound modules and so-called "Hip Hop" producers is a million miles away from the essence of Hip Hop.
Beatdiggers have since sprung up across the globe all searching for undiscovered dusty gems, ripe for the using. And cats like Kon & Amir, Soulman, Mr Thing, Cut Chemist and others have taken beat diggin' onto a new level where it's never going away. "If you might recognise this shit, we will just chop it up 'til you don't recognise it anymore."
We would like to pay tribute to some of the original beat diggers of the game...KOOL HERC, GRAND MASTER FLASH, AFRIKA BAMBAATAA, GRAND WIZARD THEODORE, DISCO KING MARIO, GRAND MASTER FLOWERS, DJ HOLLYWOOD, AFRIKA ISLAM, CHARLIE CHASE, JAZZY JAY, GRAND MIXER DST, WHIZ KID, KOOL DJ AJ, LUVBUG STARSKI, JOHNNY THUNDERBIRD, DJ BREAKOUT, DJ BARON, EDDIE CHEEBA, THE L BROTHAS, & TONY TONE to name a few.
Along the lines of the Kon & Amir's ON TRACK series, and produced to celebrate over 30 years of beat-digging, we have put together a selection of samples/drumbreaks that have been used in hip hop over the years, with some that are crying out to be used! Use the download link below to listen in, and feel free to switch on your drum machine and sample away. All we ask is that you PLEASE send us your beat and we'll let you know what we think. And before you ask, yes they're all taken from the ORIGINAL PRESSINGS!!
breaks for days
Available to download NOW for FREE is the DAILY DIGGERS SOUND break mix. 50 minutes of good music inspired by the NYC tri-borough park jams of the 70's & 80's. This mix is great for break cats and hip hoppers alike as it features some real old school breaks from all genres of music, with an added hip hop flavour.
This mix of breaks, unlike many, isn't intended to show off what rare records and breaks we have deep in our crates. More to educate those not-in-the-know about how this Hip Hop culture began. With this we are aiming to give you a taste of the energy of those early park jams, of the records that they played, and the way that breaks were used to provide seamless music for the dancers and crowd members! We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it...!!
Well, what are you waiting for..?
DAILY DIGGERS SOUND
Let's raid Kid Dyno's crates in search of a dusty gem...
SUPERLOVER CEE & CASANOVA RUD - Super Casanova (probably their biggest hit and of course engineered by the late great Paul C, this promo-only DNA jukebox 7" was the follow-up to "Do The James" classic which was a smash in the NYC clubs in '87. Skillfull use of Joe Tex's "You said a Bad Word".)
SLICK RICK - Mona Lisa (Ricky D back on plastic with the follow-up to La-Di-Da-Di with Doug E Fresh, this time using the classic FRISCO DISCO break. The 12" release was backed with "Hey Young World" from the GREAT ADVENTURES OF... LP also on DEF JAM. Originally hailing from South London, this is Slick Rick on top form!)
ULTIMATE FORCE - I'm Not Playing (DIAMOND D's first appearance on wax with MASTER ROB on vocals, and this killer '89 joint using Albert King's "Cold Feet" hook has now become the standard that all random/golden era gems are measured by. Don't forget to check the ULTIMATE FORCE LP recently issued on STRONG CITY)
FLASH & FURIOUS 5 - Super Rappin' No. 2 (The ENJOY old school classic from 1980 gets the French treatment on a rare Carrere picture sleeve. The original ENJOY release is a tough one to find on 7". In my opinion this is the best release from Flash and the F5, and here MCs RAHIEM, MELLE MEL, MISTER NESS, SCORPIO and COWBOY really show off their rhyme skills)
The DAILY DIGGERS - the name says it all. Always out on the hunt for another fix of dope (beats) on vinyl. Two 30-something dudes, both crazy hip hop fools on the same hip hop mission...to be the freshest and to have the freshest! You may have seen these cats lurking at your local record store or charity shop - sneaker freak and golden era addict KID DYNOMITE, and the ever-dusty BEAT DETECTIVE, king of the bargain-bin breakbeat! These veterans of the Hip Hop game are London based record fiends and beatmakers, and have travelled the world in pursuit of the hip hop culture, and on the unt for the holy grails. Attending Rocksteady Crew Anniversaries in NY through the 90's, Battle-of-the-Year breaking championships in Europe, & hosting various radio shows over the years, as well as making up the numbers at real Hip Hop jams across the globe. To say they got it bad is an understatement!
Their obsessive nature has lead to a mountain of wax being visible for miles across the East London skyline, and the Diggers now live under it's shadow with just an MPC and SP1200 for company. If it's hip hop related then they are down for it.
So here it is - the DAILY DIGGERS blog. We're gonna give you an overdose on some seriously fresh Hip Hop vinyl, let you watch the DIGGERS make some RAW beats, & maybe even take a trip through breakland with the Beat Detective on some serious kick & snare business. There will be some hints on digging for cheap beats, and maybe a peek at some crazy sneaker collections whilst we are at it. Hold on tight it's gonna be a bumpy ride!
All in the name of HIP HOP y'all!!
So shall we let the fun begin...?