In a hazy and warming foray into the world of samples, #itchysilk writer @LHenrixx delves, digests and deliberates over some of the greatest tracks sampled, successfully into tracks which have gone onto individual acclaim. Got to say absolutely love the nod of appreciation to Jaco Pistorius.
Long gone are the days where most samples and covers entailed work. Samples have pre-dated many musical cycles and were/are a pinnacle to compositions. Though samples receive a share of shade from some (as they deem it unoriginal), the ability to take, rework and transform a snippet of a track to a completely different piece of a music is stellar when done correctly. To commemorate this, I have compiled 5 instances where samples/covers triumphed.
Genius of Love by the Tom Tom Club was a funky, new wave jam which had the initial fantastically funky, dirty bass-line that Fantasy was known for. The remix that featured the late ODB (RIP ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’), had a hard-hitting, boom bap edge that was not present in the melodic original- making it such a jam (in addition to the fact that New York by way of Brooklyn, Boogie Down BX, Shaolin, Sacramento, Atlanta-Georgia, Japan and a few others- were ‘in the house’). Most of the fans of Mariah’s and Wu Tang’s separate music, unless they were old souls- would not have been exposed to the Tom Tom Club-this made it a genius move. Mariah kept parts of the song (‘What you gonna’ do when you get out of jail?’) and ODB made it his own with his inebriated flow and endless ad-libbing at the end-timeless.
SWV- Rain (1998)/ Sample: Jaco Pastorius- Portrait of Tracy (1976)
First off, I think this is the only song where I have loved the sample more than the remake. Jaco Pastorius (Rest his Soul) Portrait of Tracy is such an intricate, emotive instrumental. The reason he duly deserves #1 position within your musician soft spot list-he’s a badass bassist. I truly believe that there is something embedded deeply within great bassists, above other musicians, that is magical. Goodness gracious. Anyway, besides the treat of watching the live version of him playing the track, SWV (Sisters With Voices) delivered a beautiful harmonious ballad that did Mr. Pastorius proud.
Donell Jones-Take It There (2000)/ Sample: Ohio Players- Ecstasy (1973)
Donell Jones has rightfully earned his place as an undeniable rnb crooner for his slow jams such as Shorty Got Her Eyes On Me (1999), Yearnin (1996), Do You Wanna (2002). His ability to cross over to more upbeat tracks tends to be overlooked but Take It There (2000) is a prime example of his ability . The keys and the bounce present in Ecstasy is typical 70’s, sexy funk simultaneously. This translates to Take It There making it the ultimate grown and sexy, up-tempo track to bump at any given time.
Robert Glasper-Smells Like Teen Spirit (2012) Cover: Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
Now-my love for Nirvana runs deep. To a depth that cannot be exceeded by anybody (partially influenced by my under-the-radar, opposite to my normal type- Kurt Cobain crush) as they were iconic within and around rock music. Smells Like Teen Spirit is my second favourite track from their quality discography and it is one of the best anthems of all time- across genres. When this is the case, a cover or rework seems almost pointless as there is nothing that can be done to such greatness. HOWEVER. Kudos, hats off and a step in the name of love to Robert Glasper because his version from the Black Radio (2012) album was an idyllic nod with an immersion of jazz that achieved a perfect equilibrium. From progressive transitions to the chilling vocal effect, it’s soul with copious amounts of respect for the original-bliss.
See Line Woman (Remix) by The Songstress (1998)/ Sample: Nina Simone- See Line Woman (1964)
Deep House will resonate with anyone with a soul. The fact that it compiles ambience, tribal rhythms and deep bass literally encompasses all you need for a serious vibe. How Kerri Chandler and Jerome Sydenham conjured up the idea to mix that with Nina Simone escapes me- but the end result is immense. It’s a hypnotic, captivating banger with hints of instrumentation that transforms it into an original in it’s own right. The remix is such a perfect loop that the 10+ minutes seem insufficient.
BONUS (It was meant to be 5- and?! We redefine rules over here!) Talib Kweli ft. Bilal- Talk To You (2012)/ Sample: Eddie Kendrick- Can I? (1978)
I live for Bilal’s flawless, flavourful voice (I told him this during an interview I did with him in 2012, it has been solidified) and essentially, he can do no wrong. That is proved with this song. The musicality of the remake is very similar to the original, as is the title but the song takes its own direction with the conversational flow and love-laden lyricism from Talib Kweli. Bilal basically slays his part with his notorious levels of harmonies (as per usual) and his vocals almost sound tailor-made to that of Eddie Kendrick. This is one of those jams you cuddle and caress to.