Since helming the punishing production for Black Moon’s classic 1993 debut, Enta Da Stage (not to mention a remarkably strong string of Bootcamp Click releases that followed), Bushwick, BK-bred siblings DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt – known together as Da Beatminerz – have added their distinctively raw sonic touch to tracks for everyone from D’Angelo to De La to Dilated Peoples. The classic characteristics of a Brothers Dewgarde beat may include anything from a cleverly triggered keyboard (Black Moon’s “Who Got the Props”) to dub style bass drowned in filter (Smif-N-Wessun’s “Bucktown”) to a string section gone bazerk with tension and release (Rah Digga’s “Tight”). Yet ever present is that Brooklyn bounce, buoyed by drum tracks one’s ears could get numb off. When not behind los boards, E and Walt (and their team of co-conspirators) can be found at dabeatminerz.com making the on-line radio airwaves fonkee. We recently caught up with these rap scholars between u-streams to discuss their favorite sample flips – Evil Dee first with five on it, followed by Mr. Walt. Yes, party people, after all these years ain’t a damn thing changed: ego trip still fuckin’ wit’ them brothas Beatminerz on productions. Enta da sage…
1. Public Enemy - "Fight the Power" (Motown, 1989)
PRODUCER: The Bomb Squad
SAMPLE SOURCE: James Brown – “Soul Power” (King, 1971)
Evil Dee: Public Enemy masked all their samples – but ["Fight the Power"] was one of the first tracks – other than “The Grunt” on ["Rebel Without a Pause] – where I was like, yo, I know what that is! Their whole style of takin’ little pieces of records and puttin’ em together – crazy. I met Hank and Keith Shocklee, and the rest of the guys, Eric Saddler – right when they was working on Fear of a Black Planet the BBD stuff, Son of Bazerk, and Young Black Teenagers. I actually went to Eric Saddler’s office. They used to have an office on Greene St. and Eric Saddler was in there with two maxed out Akai S-950s and an SP 1200 makin’ beats. And just to see that set up was crazy to me. I was just like, yooooo, this is crazy! Eric Saddler – him and Buckshot [who used to intern at S.O.U.L. Records] used to always rank back and forth. But when I seen that set up I was like, [gasp] “That’s the Bomb Squad set up!!!! Oh, that’s crazy!!!” Just to see the way they was choppin’ stuff up and puttin’ it back in the track.
2. LL Cool J - "Mama Said Knock You Out" (Def Jam, 1990)
PRODUCER: Marley Marl
SAMPLE SOURCE: Sly & the Family Stone – “Trip To Your Heart” (Epic, 1967)
Evil Dee: One thing I noticed was that it’s not the first break, it’s the second break that’s sampled. It shows that Marley took time to listen to the record before he chopped it up and sampled. But the way that sounds is just eerie. It sounds like theme music. The way they laid the sample in the track is crazy.
Marley was the dude that started us sampling. Because he discovered sampling by accident on an Aleem session. He was sampling some vocals and he sampled a kick or a snare, I think, and that’s when he figured out, like, yo, wait a minute, you know what this means?! I learned a lot from Marley because I worked with him for a minute. We did radio together. Marley would tell me stuff about production. He’s one of the dudes that got me open on Protools. Marley’s that dude, man. Production wise he’s still got beats.
3. Snoop Dogg - "Gin & Juice" (Death Row, 1993)
PRODUCER: Dr. Dre
SAMPLE SOURCE: George McCrae – “I Get Lifted” (T.K., 1974)
Evil Dee: On the remix version of the song you can hear [the sample more clearly]. But if you listen to the original it’s laid in there so dope. The original sounds more full. I think they built the track around the “I Get Lifted” sample because of the way it just fit in there. You really have to listen to it. It’ll stand out to us because we know what it is, but a regular head will really have to listen to it to find it.
The funny thing is I met Dr. Dre right before “Gin & Juice” came out, and Dre admitted to me, “Yo, man we listen to Black Moon all the time!” They liked “Who Got the Props.” They liked Buckshot as an emcee. And they liked our stuff. I was like, yo, that’s dope. To hear that from Dre, that was dope. “Who Got the Props” got a lot of play [out in LA]. Which to me was crazy.
4. J Dilla - "Bye" (Stones Throw, 2006)
PRODUCER: J Dilla
SAMPLE SOURCE: Isley Brothers – “Don’t Say Goodnight” (T-Neck, 1980)
Evil Dee: The way [Dilla] chopped [the Isley Brothers record] and the different swing he brought to it, that was crazy. That dude was a genius, man. He basically ate, slept and shit beats. The stuff he was doing then people are emulating now with software. But he was doing it by hand. He was chopping stuff the old way. The way me and Walt chop samples by sitting there and [imitates sound of a sampler] he was doing it like that. Now there’s cats that got so much software but still can’t duplicate that.
5. Jay-Z - "The Takeover" (Roc-A-Fella, 2001)
PRODUCER: Kanye West
SAMPLE SOURCE: The Doors – “Five To One” (Elektra, 1968)
Evil Dee: What I like about that track is the way that they took stuff out of “Five To One” and then put it in the track to help build it all up. It’s like they kinda took stuff out the track in the background to work with Jay-Z’s voice. It kinda sounded like the Doors was singing background on that track the way some parts of the track come in and out.
[As far as "Ether" vs. "Takeover"] – “Ether” had cool rhymes, but the beat? Nu-uh, chill. If “Ether” woulda came with a better beat I woulda probably been like, wow, Nas said some shit. But that beat was just wack. The beginning was dope. “Fuck Jay-Z” – and that was it for the production.
6. Cypress Hill - "Stoned Is the Way of the Walk" (Ruffhouse, 1991)
PRODUCER: DJ Muggs
SAMPLE SOURCE: Grant Green – “Down Here On the Ground” (Blue Note, 1970)
Mr. Walt: Tribe Called Quest used the same record [on “Vibes & Stuff”], but I’m gonna give the edge to Cypress Hill for the “Down Here On the Ground” sample because theirs sounded a little bit harder than the Tribe one. The Tribe one was really dope, I really love it. But the Cypress Hill one was a little heavier. [Muggs] bodied that record. [That Grant Green album] was the type of record where either I had it, or I didn’t have it and hearing these [Cypress and Tribe] records made me like, yo, I have to go look for this record just to have it. [laughs] That’s the way I looked at it. Like, oh my god, yo, Tip flipped this, Muggs used it, but I gotta go have it just to have it. I will never loop it because they did it. I come from that school where, hey, if I really, really respect a record like that I won’t even touch it. Nowadays the rules don’t apply. But I come from that school. [At the time] you just didn’t know which one was better, but I give the slight – and it’s very slight – edge to Cypress Hill. That’s one of my all-time favorite records.
7. A Tribe Called Quest - "Skypager" (Jive, 1991)
PRODUCER: A Tribe Called Quest
SAMPLE SOURCE: Sly & the Family Stone – “Advice” (Epic, 1967)
Mr. Walt: The other day [September 20th] it was the 20th anniversary of Low End Theory’s release. I was there for some of the recording of it, so I feel privileged for that. I have all the guys’ Twitter account IDs, so I hit ’em on Twitter and I’m like, “Hey, congratulations.” But I said, “Yo, am I the only person in the world who loves ‘Skypager?’” Tip wrote back, “No, nigga, you’re not!” [laughs] And I had to laugh. Because every time I would talk Low End Theory, people would go, “Yeah, that shit was dope, but I hated ‘Skypager.’” I’m like, “Yo, how did you not like ‘Skypager?’” Maybe [I just like it] because I’m a producer and I see how [Tip] put the record together.
It’s just the way he flipped those drums. Like, of course, [Sly & the Family Stone’s] “Advice” – for those who know – it’s a short loop. So really what [Tip] did was he extended the loop and he just added a kick to make it more bouncy. And that was kinda the first time I’d ever heard that. Premier is the king of that – just adding a kick and just making it bounce. And that’s kinda how I patterned my style. But Tip was kinda the first one I heard do that. ‘Cause I was like, yo, how is he making “Advice” sound like that? Yo, it sounds crazy, this and that. And, of course, Bob Power – one of the most incredible engineers ever to get on a board – he just did his thing on there, and just made it incredible. The way they did that record – wow.
8. The Notorious B.I.G. - "Kick In the Door" (Bad Boy, 1997)
PRODUCER: DJ Premier
SAMPLE SOURCE: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell On You” (Okeh, 1956)
Mr. Walt: Dude, when I first heard “Kick in the Door” [I was at D&D Studios]. [Premier and I] were neighbors there, and every day it would be Beatminerz in one room, DJ Premier in the other room. Premier said, “Yo Walt, you gotta hear this. You’re not even gonna believe it. Don’t tell nobody what you hearing.” [This was when] Biggie was still alive, he was still [recording] Life After Death. He was still walking with a cane, he just had the car accident with Cease, stuff like that. So I think he [recorded the song] sitting down or something. Yo, when I heard that… First of all, [Premier] played it for me in the studio, so [right there] I’m blown away. I walk out his studio to go back to my studio to work. I close the door, and the beat is still going. And for some reason the shit sounded harder when I closed the door! It sounded like a monster was coming straight for New York City. [sings the tune of the beat] I was like, yoooooo!!!!!!
Hearing the original [song that was sampled] is cool. It’s cool. But Premier made it sound heavier and gutter. [Premier] chopped that record up and put it back together again because you can’t get it like that with just a regular loop. The original loop is real slow. What he did was I guess he cut out the excess. The way that sounds, and that knock on there – oh my god. That’s my favorite Biggie record of all-time.
9. Main Source - "Just Hangin' Out (Remix)" (Wild Pitch, 1991)
PRODUCER: Large Professor
SAMPLE SOURCE: Ike & Tina Turner – “Bold Souls Sister” (Blue Thumb, 1969)
Mr. Walt: I sit back and I love how everybody [now] is like, “Look how [this producer] chopped this, how that producer chopped that. Wow, these guys are incredible!” But now the computer programs that’s out do it for you. It’s cool, hey, whatever. I don’t wanna sound like an old school “hater” or whatever, the grumpy old school dude. But Large Professor sat in front of his SP and the 950 and did [all that] himself. And if you listen to the remix of “Just Hangin’ Out,” he chops the Ike and Tina Turner record up and he just gave it a swing – especially when he put the Sister Nancy [“Bam Bam” sample] on top of it. He just made it sound crazy. He bodied that. Large Professor is a genius. The original Dilla is Large Professor. That guy – incredible.
You’ve heard of the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?” In the [producing] game there’s a six degrees of separation from Large Professor. Somehow, Large Professor taught you [how to use] the SP 1200 even if he physically never taught you the SP. [laughs]
I used to work at [renowned record retailer] Music Factory in Jamaica, Queens. I remember [Large] coming in the store because we bought [Main Source’s independent single] “Watch Roger Do His Thing” on consignment. Joe Fatal [from "Live at the BBQ"] brought the records in his car. [Back then] people would come to the store with literally a box of records and say, “Listen, this is my new record I want to sell it to you, and this and that.” [With Large] we was like, yo, you’re a neighborhood kid and we know you, yeah we’ll put it in the store. Music Factory was the biggest store in Jamaica, Queens. That’s where I met all my friends: Tip, Phife, Large Professor… I used to sell the breakbeats, Ultimate Breaks & Beats. And he used to always buy them. And he would always tell everybody: yo, I bought my first breakbeat ever from Mr. Walt. And I would tell people: yo, I had my SP training [via] Large Professor. Because Large Professor taught Q-Tip. Q-Tip taught me the SP 12.
I remember one time I was doing Fatal’s demo. And he borrowed Large Professor’s SP, and he said, yo, I got my man’s SP you can use it. And I’m like, “Oh my god, this is Large Professor’s shit!!!! Yoooooooo!!!” Like I knew all these guys but I still looked up to them. Even though I’m older than all of them. But I still looked up to all of them like, yo, you guys paved the way for Beatminerz.
10. De La Soul - "Stakes Is High" (Tommy Boy, 1996)
PRODUCER: J Dilla
SAMPLE SOURCE: Ahmad Jamal – “Swahililand” (20th Century, 1974)
Mr. Walt: I would say that this is Jay Dee’s best beat of all time. Yo, I’m just speechless about that beat. Pos [from De La Soul] was over here the other day and he was like, “Yo, you know how many people passed over that [“Stakes Is High”] beat?” I was like, “What?!? Who?!?” If I was a rapper and even if that’s the first beat I heard I would take that beat. Even if I didn’t have any rhymes to say on there, I would just take it so that nobody else could get it. [laughs] Yo, that beat was so ill! [De La] spit the right shit on it too. Jay Dee – back then when he would put beat tapes out they were like albums. You know what I’m sayin’? When you would hear these beat tapes, yo, they were like actual albums. Babu owns all of them. Him and J Rocc got all the fuckin’ Jay Dee beat tapes. But when you heard them you were like, yooooo, this guy’s incredible. What is going on here? [laughs] I never understood it, but this guy was incredible. And the way he chopped that [Ahmad Jamal record] I can’t even describe it. [You can tell] he had to have paid attention to it. [The part he used is] at the very end.
HONRABLE MENTION: Nas - "The World Is Yours" (Columbia, 1994)
PRODUCER: Pete Rock
SAMPLE SOURCE: Ahmad Jamal – “I Love Music” (Impulse, 1970)
Mr. Walt: I kinda was torn between “Stakes Is High” and this. The way Pete caught that [Ahmad Jamal sample] – it’s tricky. And I’m into that [style]. I’m into looping something [a little bit] off and then putting the beat behind it to make it sound like a different song. And the way he did that – I was like, yo… I had to listen to it the other day because I was [working on] something with Pete and we was going through all his samples that he ever used. And I just sat and listened to that and was like, yo, this guy’s a genius, man. I don’t know how he did it. Incredible.