Welcome to Beats, Times and Life

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Music is a part of my everyday routine. Every where I go and everything I do has a soundtrack. What’s important about this soundtrack is not just the music, but also the experiences that accompany it.

I actively search out new music several times per week. However the greatest joy is when great music finds me.

Very often I will be going about my normal day and I over hear a car at a light, or push shuffle on my computer. I’ll eat in a restaurant or chill with my daughters. I’ll practice bass guitar or roam the internet. During these activities a song will present itself and put a stamp on that experience. Creating a musical accompaniment for the moment.

It is proven that triggers to our senses can transport us back in time. Certain smells and tastes remind you of select times of your life. Music can do the same thing.

As a father of two incredible daughters, (Aaliyah and Lola) and the husband of the most special woman on the planet (Pilar Ramos). I know that they are experiencing life right along with me. All the music I hear, they hear, Everywhere I go they go. We are experiencing BEATS, TIMES, and LIFE together. I want to create new musical experiences that will build triggers to different times in our lives. Creating not only the playlist of a lifetime, but creating sustainable memories. so we can vividly remember the experiences that go along with it.

The content of this site will chronicle my experiences as a father, husband, DJ, and educator. All through the lens of a music lover. We will use the sound track of life to better understand the past and the present.

So welcome! This is going to be a fun journey.

 

Right now we have two theme songs

Music is my Sanctuary- Gary Bartz

 

 

 

Music is my way of life – Patti Labelle

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Listen close you’ll hear what I’m about “Jay-Z”

http://djalias.podomatic.com

That New Boom Bap

 

 

This is a mix of new Hip Hop with 90’s sensibilities. I have heard so many people say “There is no more good Hip Hop” Yes there is! It is not in the mainstream, but if you search for it, you will find some amazing new music out there. Hip Hop with Soulful, boom bap beats, and lyrics that are skillfully delivered still exists. Here is vol I of THAT NEW BOOM BAP!

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

Track list

Solid Wall of Sound- A Tribe Called Quest

Jump- Lupe Fiasco

Logic- Weed Dreams (Ft. Olu)

Bam- Jay-Z

Every Ghetto- Talib Kweli ft Rhapsody

Cuz I’m Black (This is America) – Frank Nitt ft. Kaleb Simmonds

Cuffin Season- Jericho Jackson

Don’t Spoil It- Czarface

Pastor Tigolo- Phonte

Big Fries- MC Whiteowl

Nineteen Seventy Something- Masta Ace

9th vs. Thought- Black Thought

Skilled in the trade- 12 Hunndose

89 Swing- Mazzi & Soul Purpose ft. Ivory Poison and Rob Flow

 

Upgrade Your Grey Matter

Upgrade Your Grey Matter To Save Humanity?

 

 

 

Three times last week in small talk conversations with complete strangers the topic somehow got to “Are we going to make it, like as humans” or some sort of talk of the apocalypse. This is funny because I just finished The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This is the story of a girl named Lauren who is living in a L.A. after the collapse of all government systems. The Police and Fire department are no longer a public service. Water is scarce and extremely expensive.There is a new drug that makes people set fires, being armed is an absolute necessity, and you just might find a corpse as you go about your day.

Comparatively, after I finished the book I began listening to an album by Del. The album is entitled Deltron 3030. Deltron and producers Dan the Automator and Kid Koala take us into a post apocalyptic world that is “morbid and horrid” A spaced out Hip Hop journey, complete with intergalactic rap battles, deadly computer viruses, and cyber warlords who terrorize humanity with weaponized computers.

Butler and Del both paint a picture that is unfortunately all to real. They create a landscape that is part  Boyz n the Hood, part Armageddon and part Mobb Deep Hell on Earth with biblical foundations.

This familiar but chaotic landscape reminds me a lot of 2019. In both of these pieces all of the same issues we are dealing with as humans on Earth have now reached a boiling point. Sea levels are rising, entire pieces of land mass are falling into the sea. Climate Change, random acts of violence, terrorism and government corruption are all vividly brought to life by Butler and Deltron. In Both Deltron 3030 and Parable income inequality, and corporate greed have destroyed humanity. You must travel in groups, and trust no one. I don’t think 2019 is that bad yet, but we are not far from the time Butler envisions.

Parable of the Sower takes place from 2024 -2027 only 5 years from now.  There are glimpses of a world that we recognize, especially in Parable. For example there is an election happening in 2024. The front runner is a racist candidate who will set humanity back 100 years. If elected, sound familiar?

In Deltron’s world corporate greed has created a permanent underclass, and Hip Hop has turned into a propaganda tool. This r really struck accord with me because………it’s reality.  The vision of Automator and Del to create a concept album that predicted the times is nothing short of incredible. The album was released in 2000 long before we had 45, long before computers tracked your every movement in the hopes to sell you those boots you looked up. Long before AI, and before we were truly focused on Global warming. Yet all these topics are touched on in 3030 with Hip Hop sensibilities.

All this  talk of Apocalypse and Global Warming, Terrorism, and gun violence makes it difficult to stay positive. I usually end the global warming convo with something like. It’s to far gone anyway, “bags and bulbs” are nice but the damage is done. People our age will make it, maybe our kids kids will be ok. After that there will start being climate refugees. Once people start leaving their home land looking for water and bearable weather, humanity will shift. However both Del and Butler give us hope.

The main character Lauren does a lot tot “keep hope alive” Lauren has “hyper empathy” syndrome. This means that she can physically feel the emotions of others, good or bad. She can feel the joy along with her friends, but also actually feel their pain as they go through difficult times.  It is this empathy that drives her to create her own spiritual following which she calls “Earthseed”. Earthseed is based on the principle that this earth we are on now is only the “seed” of what humanity can be. We can grow to be much greater, but not on this earth. Earthseed followers will eventually settle on another planet where love and empathy win out.

Deltron also gives us a glimmer of a better day. On a track called “Updrade ( A Baymar college course).  Del tells us to “Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter” This is a play on the “grey matter” inside of our brains. Grey Matter are cells that make up the cortex of our brain. They have a lot to do with thinking, and our thought processes. Del is saying that knowledge and having the most up to date grey matter is the only way to “Dwarf the Corporate” and be in control of your own life in 3030. We live in a time of Anti-Intellectualism, and as a result people are reading less, and in turn not learning anything. You heard it from Del…. Upgrade your grey matter, cause one day it may matter”

Empathy and upgrading our processors (brains) to help save humanity? I think Butler and Deltron both have it right. The combination of  putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (empathy) and then taking the time to actually learn about the person in those shoes, where they come from, what their culture is really like.  (upgrading your grey matter). This two small actions can make a huge difference. 

Busta Rhymes said it in 1995 (The Coming) and I am saying it now “There’s only five years left” Busta was talking about the y2k but Parable takes place in 2024, and we are way past 1984. We must find a way to unite humanity on a global scale. Not to save America, but to save the whole world.  America will not matter when the glaciers fully melt, America won’t matter if it continues to lose sight of its founding principles due to ignorance and fear. So please let’s use these two great pieces of art to Upgrade our grey matter and help the WHOOLE WOOORLD! (Killer MIke)  

 

I have to say, I love connections like this that run in between styles and mediums. So this was really fun to write. Deltron got bumped front to back at least six times during this process.

 

Classical Hip Hop: Illmatic, Real music for all generations.

As a 37 year old Hip Hop head, when I hear mumble rap I cringe. The beats are hard no doubt, but I am used to creative, loquacious lyrical content. Lyrics that tell the story and make me say daaaaaamn, that was tight, I got to hear that again.  What’s funny about this is is that my parents would cringe at the Hip Hop I was listening to in the 80’s and 90’s. Granted it was mostly due to the vulgarity, but they also used to say. “I can’t understand what they are saying” “In my day people sang, and you could understand every word” (Except for James Brown I’m guessing because he lets some seriously primal shrieks)

 

Every generation believes their music is “Real music” and the music of the new generation shouldn’t even be considered. Hip Hop was said to be a fad at it’s genesis. I think now no one would deny its cultural impact. Why is this mindstate so prevalent? Why did Swing lovers hate Bebop, why would classical musicians say Rock is not music, Elvis was the Anti-Christ. Hip Hop is just N***** talking right? I admit to falling victim to this hypocrisy, mostly in terms of Trap music (It’s just not for me).

 

A few nights ago I watched Nasir Jones (Nas) perform his classic Hip Hop album Illmatic, with the backing of The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. This album  tells the story of a young Black man living in the Queensbrigde housing projects. The imagery is sharp and vivid, the stories are poignant, and the use of the english language is sheer beauty. Illmatic is an album where every drum, horn stab, lyric, and measure have meaning. Illmatic contains no throw away verses or tracks, every bar is perfectly placed and used to build upon the last. The production is filled with banging carefully equalized drums and soulful samples. Let’s just say it’s everything a Hip Hop head needs from an album.

 

What does a non Hip Hop head think of Illmatic? Well when PBS connected Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra we found out. This could have gone either way. Illmatic is perfect to me, but to a layperson what does it sound like? Does it give them the chills too? It’s sort of like when Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun first opened on Broadway. A Raisin in the sun is a Black play about the complexities and intricacies of Black life. Black people already loved the play, but would a White audience care about our story? The answer in both cases was yes.

 

Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra gave a euphonious performance. The arrangements of conductor Steven Reinke were lush, full and most importantly funky as hell. From “Genesis” to “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”.  We heard each sample, drum loop and scratch played live in real time.

 

I’m happy to report that Classical Hip Hop did to the Kennedy Center crowd the same thing A Raisin in the Sun did in 1959. Non Hip Hop heads some who may had never heard Illmatic before connected with story of Black man from Queensbridge, saw his humanity and caught the vibe. It was beautiful.

 

There is no question that Hip Hop is real music, It touches folks all over the globe, and is built upon the traditional sonic principles of Black music. The connection between the cultural DNA of break dancing cyphers to the ritual of the Ring Shout, or a freestyle battle to playing “The Dozens”  is clear. There is no denying the genius of a Nas, or Black Thought. DJ Premier, RZA, and Dr. Dre are national treasures. Hip Hop Culture is a true art form created to give a voice to the voiceless, and it has worked. The voices of young Black and Brown folks are being taken seriously.  Everyone must stand up and respect the artistry.  Hip Hop has helped me and many other practitioners discover and live out our  artistic passions as well as  support our families.

 

So thank you Nas your vision and inspiration on this one. Also thanks for all the preparation and work that was put into this performance. Only top notch musicianship was exhibited, and DJ Green Lantern killed the cuts. As for Nas’s performance, to spit all those intricate lyrics with clarity and breath control is extremely difficult. He is not 19 anymore and he was on it. Sharp in every way.

 

I really recommend taking the time to watch this performance. It’s free on the PBS app, along with a lot of other great content to learn from.

 

“IT AIN’T HARD TO TELL”  NAS

 

“WE WILL BE HERE FOREVERRRRRR, FOREVER AND EVER… EVER AND EVER.

 

KRS- ONE

 

Full performance

 

Full Episode

Rumble – The Influence of Native American Music on Rock and Roll

 

Vincent Vega and Mrs. Mia Wallace have just ordered a $5 Milkshake and Vanilla Coke at Jack Rabbits Slims. Vincent asks, “You think I can get a sip of that?” As Mia passes the shake over a pick rakes over guitar strings voicing a chord progression that changed the face of rock and roll with what we now call the “power chord”. (Pulp Fiction -Quentin Tarantino)

Rumble- Link Wray

It was distorted and rough, menacing and powerful, all of which led to it being banned on radio. It was the only instrumental track to ever be banned for its violent sounds. The name of this track is “RUMBLE” by Link Wray. Link Wray and the Wraymen were game changers in Rock and Roll and they were also Shawnee American Indians.

The impact of Native music and musicians on American music is not something we discuss much. It is universally recognized that African music and culture have had the largest impact on the lexicon of American music. However because of early colonial ideas of manifest destiny, broken treaties and blatant need to destroy indigenous people and cultures we do not hear about Link Wray, or Buffy Sainte Marie. We don’t know that Mildred Bailey (born on the Coeur d’Alene reservation) was a major influence on Tony Bennett and help shaped jazz vocal technique. We don’t know that Jesse Ed Davis of Comanche and Kiowa ancestry was  considered one of the greatest guitarist of all time. He recorded with Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Neil Diamond and the Beatles. It has been said that Jesse’s playing inspired Greg Allman to take up slide guitar. http://jasobrecht.com/jesse-ed-davis-i-just-play-the-notes-that-sound-good/

We don’t know that Europeans first enslaved mostly Native Americans, however Natives knew the land so well they could escape and avoid capture. Once the slavers realized this they decided to just ship the Native men to the Caribbean, and keep the women. As more male slaves arrived from Africa, Native women and African men began having children together. This forced joining of cultures gave birth to an entire generation of Black Indians. Which led to the creation of the Mardi Gras Indian culture. Once the African syncopated drum patterns connected with the driving 4 on the floor beats of Native music as Ivan Neville would say “American Music was Born”

Amazon’s documentary “RUMBLE” dissects all these influences  and how easily we overlook the influence of an entire generation of musicians because of their ancestry. Musicians like Jimi Hendrix,  Redbone, Charley Patton and Oscar Pettiford are all of Native descent. Their ability intertwine indigenous music with Blues and Rock and Jazz helped lay a foundation for American music. We have studied, Black Jazz musicians, Folk Guitarists, Slave hollers, even Celtic and Klezmer melodies as apart of American music. As usual though America overlooks those who were already making this land great. We overlook the American Indian. Not just their music, but their entire culture. The American government has tried so hard to erase Natives from view, but “RUMBLE” is a good start to bringing truth to light.

From Link Wray’s Chords creating vibe in Pulp Fiction to the clothing and playing of Jimi Hendrix Native culture is a part of American culture and it needs to recognized and praised.

I highly recommend this documentary and I hope you enjoy the playlist associated with this post. The music varies widely and is just all around soulful and beautiful.

 

  1. Rumble – Link Wray- 
  2. Spoonful Blues- Charlie Patton
  3. Universal Soldier- Buffy Sainte Marie
  4. Castles Made of Sand – Jimi Hendrix
  5. Mildred Bailey- Georgia on my mind
  6. Beautiful Way-  Pow Wow of Native American Indians
  7. Clap Your Hands- Black Eyed Peas
  8. Come and Get Your Love- Redbone
  9. Handa Wanda- The Wild Magnolias

     

  10. My Indian Red- Baby Dodds Trio

Tempo Lounge Vol II (Soul Music for You and Your Folks)

 

For the past few months I have been compiling some new soul tracks to make this mix. It was pleasure to listen to so much great music. From about 50 songs I picked these cuts to create the TEMPO LOUNGE vibe. Electric Soul, where live instrumentation meets modern production with soulful vocals and knocking drums.

This is feel good, chill soul music. Kick back with your significant other, your crew, or yourself, turn it up and take the journey.

Track List-

Better Give You UpFKJ

Girl- The Internet ft. Vic Mensa

Naughty RideWizkid ft Major Lazor 

Them ChangesThundercat

JunieSolange

DYWMNAO (Sam Gellaitry remix)

Hood Pass IntactDam-Funk

Fall in LoveGold Link

UniverseIlla J

I’m Losing You- The Rare Earth

FadeKanye West 

Mystery of LoveMr. Fingers

Dang!Mac Miller ft. Anderson Paak 

Cold SweatJames Brown 

Stone Cold Funk- Anthony Hamilton 

Back in Town- Tuxedo 

Asking For a Friend- Foreign Exchange 

Asking For a Friend (Party and Party and Party edit) Stro- Elliot and Foreign Exchange 

 

 

 

 

 

10 hours of vibes for the road.

As you check everything one last time you ask yourself. Do I have all my chargers, snacks, water, am I wearing comfortable pants? Do I have enough clothes for the trip and some possible emergency. Is the GPS pulled up? Should I pee one more time………definitely pee one more time, you’ll be thankful 2 hours from now when you are grid locked in the middle of Holland Tunnel. These are questions that run through your head before a road trip, but there are several  essential questions missing we must all ask ourselves before we roll out. They are……..

Has a slammin playlist been created with care for this specific journey? Does this playlist have a range of tempos and genres? Does this playlist include classic music everyone should hear as well as new pop hits to keep it fresh? Is there any OUTKAST on this playlist (because there should be, don’t play with me) Is the list  arranged in such a way that  the music being heard is connected to the expected visual scenery along the route? This may seem like a lot of thought to put into music for a road trip but I’m telling you it can make all the difference.

Over this Thanksgiving holiday Pilar, myself and the girls went to visit my parents in Rochester, NY. Rochester is technically in the same state as New York City, but it’s closer to Cleveland than it is to Brooklyn, roughly a 6 hour drive with no traffic and no stops. However with two passengers under the age of 6 and 3 hours of inching along from Broome st across the Pulaski Bridge it took us 10 hours to get there. I luckily had 10 hours of music prepared for this trip, when we arrived at 1 a.m. believe it or not it was Eddie Vedder singing “I’m still alive” that brought us in, it was the perfect sentiment.

Road Tripping with the kids is a bit different because I really try to select songs that are high quality, but also interesting to the ears of 3 and 5 year olds. Granted, these are my 3 and 5 years old kids who listen to Roy Ayers, Biggie, Led Zeppelin, Lady Saw, Ray Barretto, Tom Petty, and Jorge Ben or the regular so they know the deal. We place great value on music and music making in our family so creating this list was not only fun, but I learned a lot about my family and my own listening habits.

And it goes a little something like this, HIT IT…………….

Give me your love- Curtis Mayfield

Give me the sunshine- Leo’s Sunship

Breakdown- Tom Petty

Harlem- Bill Withers

Hey girl, I like your style- The Temptations

Just One of those days- Monica

Be Bad (pt1) – Ill Mondo

Day Dah light- LC and Louise Bennett

Weight Off- Kaytranada

It’s Your Thing- Christian McBride ft Dee Dee Bridgewater

Mr. Kicks- Oscar Brown Jr.

Stones Throw Records 10 year anniversary- Various dope Emcees and producers

Come and Talk To Me Remix- Jodeci

Nite and Day- Al. B. Sure

Caught Up- Usher

Best Things in Life are Free- Sam Cooke (Live)

Fool For You – Alice Smith

Love No Limit- Mary J. Blige

Long Walk Remix- Jill Scott

Brandy- Baby

Freekin You  remix- Jodeci

Stand On The Word (Larry Levan mix)

Some Beats- Slakah the Beat Child

Cold Sweat- James Brown

Stone Cold Funk- Anthony Hamilton

Singing and Dancing- Rhyze

A Brand New Wayo- Mixed Grill.

Haven’t You Heard- Patrice Rushen

I Want To Do It- Scandal ft. Lee Genesis

Gyal You a Party Animal- Charley Black

Your Number- Ayo Jay

Lemon- N.E.R.D ft. Rihanna

Element- Kendrick Lamar

Respiration- BlackStar

Hazeus View- Joey Badass

Yasin Bey/ Marvin Gaye – Inner City Travellin Man

Manipulated – Mindsone & Kev Brown

Land of the Free- Joey Badass

Expressive- Talib Kweli & 9th Wonder

I’m Gone- Logic

Are you in?- De La Soul

Feel No ways- Drake

No Limit- G Eazy

Mi Gente- J. Balvin

It’s a Vibe- 2 Chainz

Magnolia- Playboy Carti

Progress of Elimination- Boss

C.R.E.A.M- Wu-Tang Clan

The Tide is High- John Holt

4:44 full album

Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band- Full Album

Freedom 90- George Michael

Cuban Jam Session – Vol 3

Stairway to Heaven- Led Zeppelin

Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen

Aquemini- Outkast

Dip and Fall back- Lady Saw

Web- Hampton Hawes

Let No Man Put Asunder- First Choice

DYWM- NAO

Long Distance- Sam Gellaitry

Them Changes- Thundercat

Season of the witch – Stills session

Right Place, Wrong Time- Dr. John

Free Love – Jean Carn

Black Five- Roy Ayers

Strawberry Letter #23- The Brothers Johnson

In the Air Tonight- Phil Collins vs Nutso Remix

Scooters Groove- Tuxedo

Second Time around- Tuxedo

Soul Drummer- Ray Barretto

Emotional Rescue- The Rolling Stones

Ware Wa- SoulJazz Orchestra

In a Sentimental Mood – John Coltrane

Losing Hand- Harry Belafonte

No Diggity (Mateo Vibes remix)- BlackStreet

I Need a Man- Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Don’t Wanna Fight- Alabama Shakes

Libertango- Grace Jones

Shaft in Africa- Johnny Pete

Help Is On The Way- Whatnauts

Beautiful People- Barbara Tucker

Cocomotion 79- El Coco

Black Coffee- Superman

Sultans of Swing- Dire Straits

Red Flags and Long Nights- She Wants Revenge

TIBWF- Budos Band

Shadow boxing- GZA

Full Clip- Gangstarr

The Rhythm Changes- Kamasai Washington

Design- B Stroller

Alligator- Dizzy Gillespie

Live Your Life- Yuna

El Amor- Tito Bambino

Masketo- Riva

No te Veo- Jowell y Randy

Linda Eh- Grupo Mania

Omega- Tu Si Quieres, Tu No Quieres

Make you Feel- Alina Baraz

Water Get No Enemy- Fela Kuti

Today- Tom Scott

Stand on the Word- Joubert Singers

Body and Soul- Coleman Hawkins

George Benson- The Ghetto

Detroit Guitar Band Album- Dennis Coffey

Bad Bascomb- Bo Diddley

Positive Vibration – Bob Marley

Can’t Find the Judge- Gary Wright

Back in the Day- Erykah Badu

Blackbird (acoustic)- Beatles

Have Some Live- Childish Gambino

Black hole Sun- Soundgarden

Machine Head- Bush

Alive- Pearl Jam

 

When I look back at this list, I must say I am pretty proud that my kids listen to music that is diverse, soulful and timeless.  I will keep feeding them musical meals filled with fresh organic goodness that sparks their own creativity and music making.   In the end here are the tracks that connected with the kids the most.

 

Blackbird- Beatles (They really love this song, they ask me to play it everyday at some point) 

Stand on the Word- Joubert Singers

Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen

Have Some Love- Childish Gambino

Soul Drummer- Ray Barretto

Mi Gente- J Balvin

Stairway to Heaven – Led Zepplin

No Limit- G Easy

 

Sonic Connections in Black Music …There’s Always a Break (The foundation of Hip Hop)

“THESE ARE THE BREAKS”

The foundation of Black music is THE BEAT. The beat and the rhythm hold all the other parts up. From Chain gangs to gospel choirs, to Mobb Deep a knocking beat is an essential element of any authentic piece of Black music. The Beat of Black music is often made up of short repetitive phrases or sections that are based on a steady, usually polyrhythmic percussion patterns. In Hip Hop we take a short piece of this pattern and loop it indefinitely.

This small portion we loop in Hip Hop is known as “The Break” A section of the music where either the record shifts into a new  direction for a short time, or a section where all other instruments fall out  leaving the percussion to shine.  This opening, or break in the music is another element handed down from our ancestors. Black music started out as these open drum patterns that we now call “Breaks”. Remember at first all we had were drums, voices and bodies.  Over the centuries Black music has become extremely lush and complex. However has always been and is still part of the foundation. When we “break open” the flow of a complex composition, stripping it down to its core, our roots are revealed.

Tricia Rose writes in Black Noize (pg67) “Rap Music techniques, particularly the use of sampling technology, involve the repetition and reconfiguration of rhythmic elements in ways that illustrate a heightened attention to rhythmic pattern and movement between such patterns via BREAKS and points of musical rupture.” These breaks and “ruptures” as Rose calls them are the legs of any hip hop beat, they hold the rest of the production up and help it to move from one place to the next.

In its true form Black music and dance are synonymous. When a djembe, tambourine, wood block and bone handled shaker make  a pattern together, this is a breakbeat. When dancers move in a circle to these breaks, trading spaces in the middle to get so, this is called a Ring Shout. What is the difference between the African tradition of the Ring Shout and a Break Dance cipher? Nothing. Leaving the drums agape has always compelled us to dance and or show off other musical gifts, including virtuosic instrumentation.

In Jazz the break is used for each member of the band to solo, or improvise within the structure of the song. Jazz follows in the African tradition of communal music making, but allows each artist to show off his or her own style and improvise as they feel.

“If there is any one aspect of performance that almost all the contemporary sources agree upon, it is the fact that slaves improvised their songs. “This improvisation goes forward every day….. The rhyme comes as it may, sometimes clumsily, sometimes no rhyme at all, sometimes most wonderfully fresh and perfect. (Southern 201)

The tradition of a solo break made it’s way from early Jazz into the Blues. The Blues expanded into Rock and Roll where the guitar solo became prevalent. Rock and Roll morphed into funk. Funk music took the musical element of vamping to make entire songs. (Christian McBride from- Mr. Dynamite HBO)

A vamp is a repeating musical figure that was normally used at the end of tune to fade out. Funk (most notably James Brown) took that small two to four measure section and had the band play it over and over and over. Looping the section while adding little improvisational hits and varying harmonic techniques. These ceaseless rhythms became the understructure of Hip Hop music. Hip Hop producers took the breaks and vamps of funk music, collaged them with fat kick drums and samples from around the globe to create the latest and most dynamic form of Black music….Hip Hop.

Below are some sonic examples of “The Break” and its growth within Black music.

West African Break

Kiyakiya- Babtune Olatunji– At the start we hear the full timbre of the piece. At 19 seconds the vocal falls out and we just hear the drums. This is a break, it rocks for about 30 seconds then the vocal comes back in and the song continues. In Hip hop we rap over these breaks.

Gospel Break

Mavis Staples- I’ll Fly Away- In this listening example we will hear how Hip Hop techniques create original “breaks” from openings within the song. The full ensemble is present when the recording starts. At 31 seconds I again  manipulate the record with a technique called back spinning. Allowing myself to repeat the same portions over and  over again, in any pattern I see fit. After I am done using the first part of the break in a Hip Hop format I allow the organ to return and play out a solo until the vocal returns at 1:40 seconds, ending the break. The way I manually repeat the phrase “Oh Yes” is a foundational characteristic Hip Hop built from the breaks and vamps of earlier forms of Black music.

Blues Break

This is Muddy Waters performing “I just wanna make love to you” After the hook we hear a break beginning led by a harmonica solo. About a minute into the piece I addd the Hip Hop element of looping a small portion to create a new rhythm. After the loop I allow the song to start back up and the break finishes with some stop time, then ends.

Jazz Break- 

St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins is one of the most recognizable melodies in Jazz. The song happens to open with a break beat, and courtesy of master drummer Max Roach at 52 seconds  we get to hear an extended drum break. How many different rhythms can he play around the main groove? A seemingly infinite amount.

Rock Break

This is snippet from I Just Want to Celebrate by The Rare Earth. First we hear the chorus/hook, as the instruments fade out you here the drums begin to take the lead at (35 sec). The drummer plays a hypnotic rhythm that ignites the crowd, while the singer ad libs around the groove eventually bringing the full band back in.

I Just Want to Celebrate- The Rare Earth

Funk Break

Bar-kays-  Holy Ghost Break begins at 21 secs. I then bring the track back to the start so your hear the full composition, eventually returning to the break section at 1:10.

Soul Break

Melvin Bliss- Synthetic Substitution/ DWYCK by Gangstarr

This break has been sampled over 700 times in Hip Hop, it is an essential part of the Hip Hop sound vernacular. Pay attention to the opening break from Synthetic Substitution then the drums from DWYCK. Dj Premier flips it into a certified classic.

Synthetic Substitution

 

DWYCK- Gangstarr

DWYCK encompasses all the elements we have been discussing. DJ Premier provides the POPL with drums from Synthetic Substitution and the break from Hey Jude by Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. We can’t forget about the classic Preemo scratches that create another layer of sonic texture. GURU and Nice and Smooth show us how to use the Voice as and instrument, then at 1:19 we have a Break section.

Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all Black Music in America. We improvise with “Freestlye” sessions, Dance in circles like a ring shout, layer our percussion with sample upon sample. We employ call and response, write lyrics with common themes all while using  the voice as an instrument. We use the foundations of prior generations to create something fresh. Samuel Floyd wrote

“African American music has the same characteristics as its African counterparts, but also the musical tendencies, the mythological beliefs and assumptions, and the interpretive strategies of African Americans are the same as those that under lie the music of the African homeland, that these tendencies and beliefs continue to exist as African cultural memory, and they continue to inform the continuity and elaboration of African American music.

Louis Armstrong learned from King Oliver, Bessie Smith learned from Ma Rainey, James Brown learned from Little Richard. Our ancestors learned from their parents and griots the ancient musical traditions. What each generation did, was take a portion of what they learned and add their flavor to it, allowing something truly beautiful to be born…. Hip Hop.

Back to my roots…Repping “THE LAND”

 

Lamont Dozier wrote a song entitled “Back to my roots” He sings “Zipping up my boots, going back to my roots” Last week I was able to take my family back to Shaker Heights, Ohio. I wasn’t born there, but I grew up there and my formative years were spent in Cleveland/ Shaker Heights.  We took a family trip to visit  friends who have a farm in Ashtabula, in Amish Country. Since I was so close to home, we had to make the trip.

We took the 40 min drive to Cleveland and got off I 271 at Chagrin Blvd. I pointed out all the places that meant something to me along the way as we pulled into Shaker Heights. A family friend named Kenya Woods is renting the house I grew up in presently so we were able to go into the house, take a tour and reminisce. So much was still the same, and I was transported right back to being in Elementary, Middle and High School. It was truly Surreal. Projects I did in Sewing class at “Byron” were still there, my coin collection for “Audio equipment” still there, my mini pac man game that takes 4 D batteries, still there. Kenya and her family were so wonderful, we had really nice visit.

 I have always loved the beats. 7th grade project.

This was still on the light switch in my room.

After the house we drove over the Shaker Heights High School. Football Two a days were in session, the Girls tennis team was out practicing. As we drove around the “Oval” I remembered parking there every day, Bone thugs, or Busta Rhymes, or Wu- Tang bumping loud. It was a great place to grow up and I was proud to be a Clevelander.

We left the High School and went to Yours Truly Restaurant, where we got Notso Fries, burgers, ice cream etc. As we were were eating Pilar noticed how many people were wearing Cleveland gear of some sort. She says to me “Wow, people from Cleveland really rep Cleveland” Yes, we do….. hard. WE REP THE LAND.  It’s a great City that has shaped me into the man I am today. Having Aaliyah and Lola be in my old room, see where I went to school and be in the city where I grew up was special for me and them.

On the drive home Aaliyah un-promted says to me. “Dad, thanks for taking me to see where you grew up, I liked it.” You know what Aaliyah, I liked it too.

Going back to your roots and keeping in touch with those people that shaped you is important. My crew from High School are still my best friends, and I still love Cleveland. Looking forward to zipping up my boots and going back to my roots next year for my 20th High School reunion.

Oh yeah, check out this gem.

 

The Bass Motherland

“It’s roots are in the sound of the African or should I say the mother bringing us back again. From drumming in the Congo we came with a strong flow. For then it landed on American soil, through the blood, sweat and the toil.” A Jazz Thing (Verse 1)

These words from the late great GURU (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) of Gangstarr give a great jumping off point for analyzing the SOUND of Black music. What are its sonic origins? What are its traditional sonic characteristics? Have those sounds transformed or stayed the same throughout our time in America? From Traditional Work Songs, to Gospel and Jazz, all the way to the modern Hip Hop production of today, we can find similarities that run through all styles of Black music. We will also examine the growth Black music has made. From hand claps and stomps to advanced drum programming and sequencing.  From one voice wailing repeated chants, to full groups creating rhyme schemes that keep your finger on the rewind button.  All of this began with the sound of the African.

 

Section I- THE POWER OF PERCUSSIVE LAYERING

Picture this. A man is chopping wood with an axe carved out of bone. His nature puts the blade against the bark in a steady rhythm, he can’t help it. He has to do his work to the beat ya’ll.  In the midst of his work a very fine tree stump reveals itself, and inspiration hits. He hollows out the stump and lays the hide of his lunch over it. After the skin is on nice and tight he scrapes the fur off, and something magical happens. He strikes his palm against the skin once. BOOM! And again, Bap! Boom, Boom, Bap, Boom ba boom Bap! And just like that the beat was born in Africa.

On a track entitled Can’t Truss It by Public Enemy emcee Chuck D says “I know where I’m from not dumb ditty dumb. From the Bass Motherland the place of the Drum.” What is the significance of this? Chuck with some ill wordplay is giving us insight into the most important element of Black music. The rhythm section (particularly the bass and drums)  and a phenomenon I call The Power of Percussive Layering or (Popl)

Africans traditionally used percussive instruments. “Drums big and small. Some were hollowed out trees, some were cut off gourds. On a smaller scale for accompaniment bells, castinets, gongs, rattles, kalimbas and xylophones were employed.” (Southern- The Music of Black Americans)

What did we do with all these different types of percussive instruments? Well think about what a painter does. A painter mixes primary colors together to create original complex shades. A great painter is also able to blend those original shades together on the canvas to form something that expresses how they feel, and often times sends a message. The Power of Percussive Layering (POPL) is no different. Many simple or primary rhythms are played simultaneously, each individual pattern has it’s own little pocket to fill. Once all the parts are combined. 5 or 6 drum parts (or colors)  sound like one. All the layers playing their part to add original hues to the rhythmic collage.

The composition below gives a great description of how the beat was birthed.

Jim Ingram- Drumbeat

 

Traditional European music emphasizes the primary beats of music. 1234 counted very straight ahead with even notes. Africans however, we love to embellish and play with the beat adding perpetual syncopation (accents on beats that you would not expect)  The POPL puts emphasis on and uses the in between beats to create a groove. It is this groove that makes hips sway, heads fly backwards and arms flail with joy. These layers created Duke Ellington, James Brown, and Madlib. It is these percussive layers that helped us survive generations of bondage. As far as drums go. We are the beaters, and never beaten (Ingram- Drumbeat)

Here is a chart comparing characteristics of African Music to European Music.

 

http://www.cengage.com/resource_uploads/static_resources/0155062298/12025/ch06_afro_euro_comparison_chart.html

The best way to understand the layering is to listen to it. I have listed some listening points to be aware of

 

  1. Listen to how different percussion parts enter and exit the beat.

 

  1. Listen out for a main “Steady rhythm” The part you nod your head to.

 

     3.    Listen out for accompanying drums that play in between the main beats of the steady rhythm.

 

This song is called Tribal Conversations by Jimmy Lopez. 

 

This  is a great example of a steady back beat, with lighter percussive parts entering and exiting the rhythm, filling the in between portions of the main beat. The bass drum provides the main pulse, but we hear many different instruments adding color, and different patterns build within the rhythm.

A few more examples of POPL-

 

Oyin Momo Ado- (Sweet as honey)- By  Babatunde Olatunji

A perfect example of a “Staggered Entry” each instrument coming in one at a time allowing you to hear how the beat builds. Each pattern creating its own color. But the space they occupy together creates a whole piece. The composition opens with an incredible Kalimba (Thumb Piano) solo at about 25 seconds we hear some bass enter the groove. With Bass and drums firmly in place the rest of the layers including a repetitive vocal chant come to life.

 

Savanah Beat– Starts off with wood block holding down the main rhythm. Djembe enters the beat and plays in between the wood block. After a few seconds we hear some shakers come in creating three layers of percussion. The djembe plays various lead patterns in and around the wood block and shakers.

This video is a perfect example of the Power of Percussive Layering and how music and its rhythm is everything for us.

It is called “ There is no movement without rhythm ”As an African cultural practice every part of life has music attached to it. Here we see the people of Baro, Guinea, working and living to the beat. Using percussive layering to get their work done, to speak to each other, and just to have fun.

Enjoy this and we will break it down after.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVPLIuBy9CY

Did you hear how the rhythms would start very simply with one percussion part. Then after a few measures, another instrument enters the beat, placing itself within the nooks of the main pulse? Each activity has its own place within the structure of the beat allowing the rhythm of life to create the music. We also learned the importance of the Djembe drum. The Djembe is the lead instrument here much like the electric guitar in Rock and Roll.

The drum and percussive instruments birthed the beat, but as technology and access to instruments grew so did the complexity and timbre of the POPL.  (Schomburg Library A/V recorded sound research)

Once we got our hands on guitars, and horns, pianos and microphones, the power of percussive layering took on a whole different feel. Listen to a few tracks influenced by ancient traditions of percussive layering.  You will hear the same elements but with the timbre of a full band, not just drums.

Check these examples

Memphis Soul Stew- King Curtis  Listen out for the Staggered entry of each instrument. King Curtis tells us which instrument is entering  and when it will come in. We hear several layers come in and create the sound pallate

 

Duke Ellington- Didjeridoo – Starts off with a drum break that leaves openings for all kinds of sounds. Piano stabs, staccato horns and whatever came to the minds of these master musicians. The opening 30 seconds are just drums, and Saxophone with the Duke adding pianos stabs in just the right places. When the full band enters all the layers are revealed, with the bass and drums creating a rock solid foundation. 

 

Black Ego by Digable Planets– This is the outro of the song. We hear effected drums with whisper vocals give way to a bass and guitar solo. The drums fall out for a moment, but when they return you hear all the colors at once collaging into a truly original shade of funk. 

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Section II- THE VOICE AND THE BODY AS AN INSTRUMENT

I am a huge fan of all things Black 80’s and 90’s pop culture. This includes classic  film entitled “Coming to America” Starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. The film opens with a South African Acapella group named LadySmith Black Mambazo singing a tune called Mube Wimome Next to Fela Kuti they are probably the most recognizable African musicians within Western culture. LadySmith Black Mambazo sing in a vocal style created by South African Zulu’s known as Isicathamiya (Is-Cot-a-ME-ya).   They employ only the human voice as their instruments. This comes from traditional African practices.

Isicathamiya choirs are made up of mostly of basses, joined by a couple tenors, an alto, and a lead voice.  Their sound is recognizable by the emphasis of the bass voices.

http://ums.org/2010/01/14/what-is-isicathamiya/

Ladysmith Black Mambazo employs ancient techniques to make modern music. As slaves we often did not have access to our drums or any instruments at all, especially after Slaves owners realized we used the drums to communitcate. We had to use instruments no one could take away.

The track below is entitled “Bangers” by Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder. The start of the track is 9th Wonder discussing how slaves used the drum to speak to one another.

There are two instruments that every human is born with,  voice and body. As Talib Kweli quotes ancient Zimbabwe “If you can talk you can sing if you can walk you can dance” Enslaved Africans used the voice to sing and the body (hands, feet, thighs) to create rhythmic accompaniment.

In his book The Methodist Error John Watson writes; “With every word so sung, they have a sinking of one or the other leg of the body alternately; producing an audible sound of the feet at every step. If some in the meantime sit, they strike the sounds alternately on each thigh.” (Southern pg. 87)  So “Clap ya hands ha, Stomp ya feet ha” -James Brown (Give it up turn it a loose) is a truly ancient African tradition. 

Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all these elements we are discussing. The listening example below shows how we use foot stomping and hand clapping through the generations. From the POPL in African drums to James Brown call and response all the way to Hip Hop scratching, with elements of black preaching. All of these characteristics are present below and relate back to using the body and voice as an instrument.

Give it up Turn it a loose – James Brown- DJ Alias cuts the break

  1. James Brown chanting- Clap ya hands HA stomp ya feet Ha. The vocal is reminiscent of Field Hollers and the cadance of black preachers. The drums are djembe like in timbre and feel giving us the rhythm of West African percussion.
  2. DJ Alias scratching- I am employing two separate DJ techniques. One is backspinning, used to keep repeating the same section of music for as long as needed. To back spin you choose a section of music, then on one turntable let that section play out, while that particular section is playing the I manually rewind the record on the other turntable to the starting point of the section and on the next one beat I drop it in on time.  The other is known as “Doubling” This technique requires me to start one record half a beat behind the other. I then use the crossfader to go in between both songs augmenting the rhythm as I see fit.

So all in one we have ancient African drumming and chanting blended with Hip Hop Dj techniques and the soul of the black preacher.

_____________________As we continue on…….._______________________________

Envision, a slave woman is working in the fields. The oppressiveness of the heat has saturated her ragged clothes. As sweat weeps from her brow she searches for something, anything to relieve this suffering. Suddenly she exudes an ardent guttural sound that echoes throughout the plantation. Her sound of misery is answered by the call of another, and another. A shirtless man with a flogged back stomps his feet in time with the calls, while the cracked hands of his sister begin to clap. They are not necessarily singing lyrics or playing a specific song, but using the voice and the body communally to heal and build hope amidst the anguish of servitude. These yelps, hollers, whoops, shouts, claps, stomps and hits were improvised daily, becoming the foundational elements of Black music in America. The techniques employed in field hollers have manifested into Negro Spirituals, The Blues, R&B, Funk, Soul, Rock and Hip Hop.

Listen below to some examples of how we have used the voice and body as an instrument throughout the centuries. Notice how each style grows in complexity as time goes on.

Rosie– Prison folk song sung in call and response style. Many voices forming to create one original sound. Only the voice and the heart were used to make this music. This music is built on the foundation of Slave Work songs and Field Hollers.

Nina Simone reinvented the Prison folk song about Rosie we heard above into a song entitled “Be My Husband”. Cultural DNA mix with real originality.

Be My Husband- Nina Simone– Listen to how Nina flips this. She takes a song passed down through generations and creates a version that suits her personal life.  Notice that the composition is only voice and drums.

 

 Black preachers have long been known to sing/chant/preach. Using guttural tones reminiscent of field hollers. The style is known as “intoning by some and when taken to the extreme as C.A.W. Clark usually did, it is called whooping” (Rev. Dr. M. McMickle. Phone interview)

One very noticable attribute of this style is the act of emphasizing the end of a phrase with a “HA” or ” Uh” it is  extremely common and has made its way all the way to Hip Hop as well, remember James Brown above “Clap ya hands HA”. Below we will hear C..A.W Clark give a portion of a sermon using the voice as an instrument. Whooping the congregation into a frenzy. Followed up by Juvenile borrowing that style to create the Hip Hop classic aptly titled “HA”

Rev. C.A.W Clark

Now listen to how Juvenile employs this same technique, ending each sentence or phrase with “HA” Showing us how the sound of Black music transcends generations.

(The track below is a lot louder than the above. Adjust volume)

Juvenile- HA

Scat singing is a style where the singer improvises melodies and rhythms using the voice as a horn, or piano, or a drum etc. Using the human voice to recreate or emulate an instrument. The example below is the most masterful expression of vocal scat techniques I have ever heard. The real scat begins at about 40 seconds. This style also made it’s way to Hip Hop culture with a group named Das Efx who we will here below.

Cecil Taylor and the Progressive Jazz Quartet- Who Parked the Car? – Masterful Scatting 

Song – Who Parked the car?

 

Mic Checka- by Das Efx- With Das Efx listen to how they add “iggity” or “ziggity” to the end of certain words or phrases. It is not as complicated as what Cecil Taylor was doing above , but the roots of the style are in Scatting.

 

Bobby McFerrin live improvisation– A viturosic voice and body instrumentalist, uses no instruments besides his own body and voice, creating full compositions as a essentially a one man band. Listen to how he improvises drums, bass, and melody all using one microphone. 

We began this piece discussing how Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all the elements of Black Music. Das Efx  and James Brown have showed us a few examples.  Now listen to Doug E. Fresh show us how the human voice can be a drum machine using a technique called Beat Boxing. Beat boxing is when the mouth, tongue and throat are used create percussive rhythms. In Hip Hop it was first used as a backbeat for freestyle rhymes, then as an addition to Hip Hop songs and eventually entire beatboxing compositions and albums.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick – La Di Dadi.

(Doug E. Fresh beatboxes the entire beat, Slick Rick raps and sings throughout) Notice that the whole rhythm section is Doug E Fresh beatboxing and nothing else.

 

How and why did these characteristics of vocal performance stay so true to form over the centuries?  It’s cultural DNA.

Samuel Floyd tells us (Power of black music  pg10) “All black music making is driven by and permeated with the memory of things from the cultural past.”

Each artist and subsequent generation from Sharecroppers to Das Efx learned from what was passed down, flipped it on it’s head and made something truly Doug E. Fresh.

____________________________________________________________________

Section III- “THESE ARE THE BREAKS”

The foundation of Black music is THE BEAT. The beat and the rhythm hold all the other parts up. From Chain gangs to gospel choirs, to Mobb Deep a knocking beat is an essential element of any authentic piece of Black music. The Beat of Black music is often made up of short repetitive phrases or sections that are based on a steady, usually polyrhythmic percussion pattern. In Hip Hop we take a short piece of this pattern and loop it indefinitely.

This loop in Hip Hop is known as “The Break” A section of the music where either the record shifts into a new musical direction for a short time, or a section where all other instruments fall out  leaving the percussion to shine but any instrument can fill a break.  This opening, or break in the music is another element handed down from our ancestors. Black music started out as these open drum patterns that we now call “Breaks”. Remember at first all we had were drums, voices and bodies.  Over the centuries Black music has become extremely lush and complex. However the break is still part of the foundation. When we “break open” the flow of a complex composition, stripping it down to its core, our roots are revealed.

Tricia Rose writes in Black Noize (pg67) “Rap Music techniques, particularly the use of sampling technology, involve the repetition and reconfiguration of rhythmic elements in ways that illustrate a heightened attention to rhythmic pattern and movement between such patterns via BREAKS and points of musical rupture.” These breaks and “ruptures” as Rose calls them are the legs of any hip hop beat, they hold the rest of the production up and help it to move from one place to the next.

In its true form Black music and dance are synonymous. When a djembe, tambourine, wood block and bone handled shaker make  a pattern together, this is a breakbeat. When dancers move in a circle to these breaks, trading spaces in the middle to get some shine, this is called a Ring Shout. What is the difference between the African tradition of the Ring Shout and a Break Dance cipher? Nothing. Leaving the drums agape has always compelled us to dance and or show off other musical gifts, including virtuosic instrumentation.

In Jazz the break is used for each member of the band to solo, or improvise within the structure of the song. Jazz follows in the African tradition of communal music making, but allows each artist to show off his or her own style and improvise as they feel.

“If there is any one aspect of performance that almost all the contemporary sources agree upon, it is the fact that slaves improvised their songs. “This improvisation goes forward every day….. The rhyme comes as it may, sometimes clumsily, sometimes no rhyme at all, sometimes most wonderfully fresh and perfect. (Southern 201)

The tradition of a solo break made it’s way from early Jazz into the Blues. The Blues expanded into Rock and Roll where the guitar solo became prevalent. Rock and Roll morphed into funk. Funk music took the musical element of vamping to make entire songs. (Christian McBride from- Mr. Dynamite HBO)

A vamp is a repeating musical figure that was normally used at the end of tune to fade out. Funk (most notably James Brown) took that small two to four measure section and had the band play it over and over and over. Looping the section while adding little improvisational hits and varying harmonic techniques. These ceaseless rhythms became the understructure of Hip Hop music. Hip Hop producers took the breaks and vamps of funk music, collaged them with fat kick drums and samples from around the globe to create the latest and most dynamic form of Black music….Hip Hop.

Below are some sonic examples of “The Break” and its growth within Black music.

West African Break

Kiyakiya- Babtune Olatunji– At the start we hear the full timbre of the piece. At 19 seconds the vocal falls out and we just hear the drums. This is a break, it rocks for about 30 seconds then the vocal comes back in and the song continues. In Hip hop we rap over these breaks.

 

Gospel Break

Mavis Staples- I’ll Fly Away- In this listening example we will hear how Hip Hop techniques create original “breaks” from openings within the song. The full ensemble is present when the recording starts. At 31 seconds I again  manipulate the record with a technique called back spinning. Allowing myself to repeat the same portions over and  over again, in any pattern I see fit. After I am done using the first part of the break in a Hip Hop format I allow the organ to return and play out a solo until the vocal returns at 1:40 seconds, ending the break. The way I manually repeat the phrase “Oh Yes” is a foundational characteristic Hip Hop built from the breaks and vamps of earlier forms of Black music.

 

Blues Break

This is Muddy Waters performing “I just wanna make love to you” After the hook we hear a break beginning led by a harmonica solo. About a minute into the piece I addd the Hip Hop element of looping a small portion to create a new rhythm. After the loop I allow the song to start back up and the break finishes with some stop time, then ends.

 

Jazz Break- 

St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins is one of the most recognizable melodies in Jazz. The song happens to open with a break beat, and courtesy of master drummer Max Roach at 52 seconds  we get to hear an extended drum break. How many different rhythms can he play around the main groove? A Seemingly infinite amount.

 

Rock Break

This is snippet from I Just Want to Celebrate by The Rare Earth. First we hear the chorus/hook, as the instruments fade out you here the drums begin to take the lead at (35 sec). The drummer plays a hypnotic rhythm that ignites the crowd, while the singer ad libs around the groove eventually bringing the full band back in.

I Just Want to Celebrate- The Rare Earth

Funk Break

Bar-kays-  Holy Ghost Break begins at 21 secs. I then bring the track back to the start so your hear the full composition, eventually returning to the break section at 1:10.

Soul Break

Melvin Bliss- Synthetic Substitution/ DWYCK by Gangstarr

This break has been sampled over 700 times in Hip Hop, it is an essential part of the Hip Hop sound vernacular. Pay attention to the opening break from Synthetic Substitution then the drums from DWYCK. Dj Premier flips it into a certified classic.

Synthetic Substitution

DWYCK- Gangstarr

DWYCK encompasses all the elements we have been discussing. DJ Premier provides the POPL with drums from Synthetic Substitution and the break from Hey Jude by Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. We can’t forget about the classic Preemo scratches that create another layer of sonic texture. GURU and Nice and Smooth show us how to use the Voice as and instrument, then at 1:19 we have a Break section.

Hip Hop is the ultimate manifestation of all Black Music in America. We improvise with “Freestlye” sessions, Dance in circles like a ring shout, layer our percussion with sample upon sample. We employ call and response, write lyrics with common themes all while using  the voice as an instrument. We use the foundations of prior generations to create something fresh. Samuel Floyd wrote

“African American music has the same characteristics as its African counterparts, but also the musical tendencies, the mythological beliefs and assumptions, and the interpretive strategies of African Americans are the same as those that under lie the music of the African homeland, that these tendencies and beliefs continue to exist as African cultural memory, and they continue to inform the continuity and elaboration of African American music.

Louis Armstrong learned from King Oliver, Bessie Smith learned from Ma Rainey, James Brown learned from Little Richard. Our ancestors learned from their parents and griots the ancient musical traditions. What each generation did, was take a portion of what they learned and add their flavor to it, allowing something truly beautiful to be born…. Hip Hop.