What’s up y’all? A little over a week ago was the anniversary of the legendary producer James Dewitt Yancey’s (a.k.a. Jay Dee a.k.a. J Dilla) passing. So, aside from the fact that I’m still a week behind on anything and everything in the world (I have roughly 30 books to read this semester, people … can I get a Kit-Kat?), it’s a must that on a weekly blog about sampling that I pay tribute to one of the greatest producers of all time, a man who knew how to flip any drum break, any track, and even the seemingly unsampleable (that’s definitely a new word, and if it shows up in Merriam-Webster’s next edition I’ll expect some serious coin).
For those of you interested in Dilla’s bio, here are some links you might want to check out:
Now, the sample that I’ve chosen for the Shining Donuts (not too clever, but I never said I was, so fuck it. Let’s call it a Ruff Draft) edition of Sample Sundays is one that many people will probably recognize, if not for the original, then for the J Dilla produced track that samples it.
Bobby Caldwell – Open Your Eyes
(This is one of countless instances where I find myself going from the original to the hip-hop song that samples the original time and again, trying to decide which is better. The verdict is still out people. And hey, if you like one better than the other start a debate in the comments section that will no doubt end in some kind of personal vendetta involving race, religion, gender, or what have you. Either way, fucking comment).
Well, if you haven’t already played it, the sample I’ve chosen is blue-eyed soul legend Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” — he is actually pretty big in Japan. (Look it up. And maybe play that song. That’s right, an Alphaville reference. Deutschland stand up). “Open Your Eyes” is off of Caldwell’s second album, Cat In the Hat, released in 1980. It was gold in the U.S. and platinum in Japan (I told you). If you haven’t heard this song of Caldwell’s then you probably have heard “What You Won’t Do For Love” on every radio station in the country (I don’t care if your radio station only plays that infernal racket called dub-step — ‘play dat shit’). In conclusion (what am I concluding?), check out Mr. Caldwell and throw him on your blue-eye soul playlist with some Van Morrison and Hall & Oates.
Common – The Light
(Erykah Badu, will you marry me?)
“The Light,” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2001, is off of Common’s fourth album, the gold Like Water For Chocolate (the title comes from the Laura Esquivel novel). Dilla produced nearly the entire album, which features help from all of the Soulquarians crew. “The Light” is definitely my favorite track off of the album, but every track on there is worth listening to extensively, so check it out — now.
And as an added bonus, here is a video I found online of a musician by the name of Ebrahim doing a fantastic cover/mash-up of the two songs:
Eebsofresh – iHeartBobby
Dilla has so many production credits to his name that it would be wrong not to include at least one or two more:
Stan Getz & Luiz Bonfa – Saudade Vem Correndo
(@ 2:05 and 2:47. Dilla was a GENIUS!)
The Pharcyde – Runnin’
(I had this song on repeat for months when I first heard it. Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde and Labcabincalifornia should be in your library ASAP.)
The Cyrkle – The Visit (She Was Here)
(@ 1:25 and 1:40. This dude built tracks out of bits and fragments. He is the T.S. Eliot of hip-hop producers, if that makes sense.)
A Tribe Called Quest – Get a Hold
And just because I have no shame in posting enough videos to keep you off task for at least and hour, here is Alphaville:
Alphaville – Big In Japan
(I don’t think this song is about male genitalia, but it’s damn hilarious and politically incorrect to think so —the perfect pair really, like PB & J. I wonder if they eat that in Germany?)