Earlier this year soul music veteran Lee Fields and his groups The Expressions released a new album by the name of “Emma Jean”. It came out on Truth & Soul Records and contained the very soulful “Just Can’t Win”. Now, respected hip hop producer Marco Polo has done a remix of the track and the results are satisfying to say the least. Lacing the track with slamming drums and smoothed out keys this one is definitely a winner. Interestingly, Lee’s label mates The Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band have also done a remix of the track which you can also check out below.
I’ve been meaning to put together a mix of some of my favorite soulful hip hop tunes for a while and I finally got around to doing it. Soul music is one of the richest sources of sample material among hip hop producers and I’ve picked out some songs I think straddle the line between hip hop and soul nicely. Apart from that the selections here are pretty random and span a number of different styles, eras and regions. Enjoy.
Here’s some really interesting footage I came across thanks to FunkyKev1 who has a cool channel on Youtube. It’s a BET talk show interview with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell. These three musical giants were some of the central architects of funk music in the 1970´s with the groups Parliament and Funkadelic. Here they discuss some interesting subjects including the meaning of the term “funk”, making music with a message and how they feel about being sampled by contemporary hip hop artists.
The interview is from 1991 which was a time when the trend of sampling their particular brand of funk, P-Funk, had been going on for a few years by hip hop groups like EPMD and Digital Underground. However, it was really about to take off in the next few years with artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg riding the P-Funk sound to the top of the charts and taking it deep into the mainstream.
It’s a really cool interview that sheds some light on some of the problematic aspects of sampling with record companies often refusing to compensate the artists who have been sampled. But there’s also interesting stuff about Parliament’s roots in doo- wop and their thoughts on black rock. History-minded funkateers shouldn’t miss this one.
Buscrates is a skilled and quite prolific producer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The last few years he’s been making some waves on the underground circuit with several excellent productions doing everything from boom bap hip hop to boogie funk. Besides being a solo artist he’s also a member of the Pittsburgh group E.L.Q. (East Liberty Quarters) and the music collective Futuristic Soul Society.
On the above track he flexes his skills and inventiveness as a beat maker flipping one the most sampled breaks of all time: “Funky Drummer” by the one and only James Brown. Buscrates succeeds in putting a fresh and surprisingly mellow spin on the break lacing it with some smooth chords and nice synth work to create the trademark Buscrates vibe. It’s a testament to his creativity that he’s able to bring something original to this well-worn breakbeat.
Check out more of his work here