Slow down: moving towards a new method of assessing 90s hip-hop tracks that used downpitched mid-to-late 80s commercial R&B hooks

So catchy titles aren’t my strong point.

I’m not sure if anybody else follows Ego Trip’s frankly amazing “Producer X’s favourite sample flips” series. Essentially every few weeks a new producer runs down his (for is is always a he) favourite sample flips. So far we’ve seen A-Trak, DJ Spinna, Lord Finesse, Large Professor, J.Rocc, Prince Paul and loads more.

This week sees Easy Mo Bee tell it like it is.

At his number five is Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless by Lost Boyz which samples Jealousy by Club Nouveau. He says:

Timex Social Club made “Rumors.” One of their follow up singles [as Club Nouveau] was this record called “Jealousy.” It’s the same dudes that produced En Vogue, Thomas McElroy and Denzel Foster – way before they did En Vogue. “Jealousy” was obviously meant to sound a lot like “Rumors.” Really commercial sounding record. Drum machine type record, keyboards, everything. I slowed it down. I took this really, really commercial R&B sounding record and was like, I wanna make this dirty, gritty, funky. “Lifestyles” was like ’94-’95. “Jealousy” – somewhere around ’85, ’86. Now back then in that era it was kinda taboo to be using samples that recent. I mean, if you was supposed to be a “real hip-hop producer.” I liked those little keyboard hits [from “Jealousy”]. But my drums on top – they gotta overpower the sound of the drums that they had in there. I’m gonna smother that record so much till you’re not gonna hear nothing else going on really in that sample except for that [keyboard].

Funkmaster Flex used to love the beginning of that. I had an intro where I doubled up in the beginning [sings beat] and he used to cut up that part of the song. And I’m looking in the club, people dancing, I’m like, yo you did it, man. If any of them sat back and listened to the original record that it came from – the original speed, the original pitch of the record and everything – they woulda had a totally different [reaction]. They wouldn’t get it.

What he says about using “recent” samples piques my interest. Here are the two tracks:

So he’s taken a pretty cheesy 80s R&B tune and just downpitched it to make it a  bit more rugged and raw. Reminded me straight away of KMD’s What a Nigga Know off the Bl_ck B_st_rds album.

Which samples Jody Watley’s Looking for a New Love.

again, using a similar technique.

I guess it’s true that most of the sample sources for 90s hip hop came from the more “respectable” areas of 60s and 70s soul, funk and other dusty-finger-inducing genres. Sure, we’d had Spyder D sampling Nu Shooz I Can’t Wait (actually an interpolation if my sources are correct) and Biggy’s Juicy but it wouldn’t be until the later 90s with Bad Boy sampling Diana Ross’s gay anthem I’m Coming Out before this kind of think took off, and it was never really slowed down to the same extent.

And so, as this poorly researched post fizzles out, can any readers think of other tunes where this technique has been used?


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